Wednesday, February 24, 2010

36 Week Miscellaneous

I really like this picture my mom took of Mr. Hope and me after my baby shower this weekend. I think we both look ready to be parents! It's hard to hide pure happiness.

Also want to share with you a picture of the cake from my shower - it was so beautiful! And, if you didn't already notice, goes perfectly with our pink elephant themed nursery. Thanks to my fabulous shower hosts for making the celebration so special.

Most importantly, I am thrilled to report that Baby Emma grew OVER 1 POUND during the last 2 weeks of monitoring at the perinatal diagnostic center. She is now 5lb 14oz. And she's done so well on the twice weekly nonstress tests, coupled with the fact that my amniotic fluid is in the normal range (13 at the last visit), that I now only have to go in for testing once a week (in addition to the weekly trip to the OB). The doctor said her gut is telling her that this is a completely normal pregnancy. Oh, sweet, sweet words!

And speaking of the OB...and this is probably TMI, but at my last OB appointment on Friday, I was 1cm dilated. I know I could stay that way for weeks, but it is fun to know that progress has begun and that there are only 9cm more to go! We are SO ready!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blessings and Lessons Along the Way

I will never understand why it is that some of us who want children so, so badly have to deal with infertility while women who abuse their children can get pregnant just thinking about it. It is one of those mysteries that I assume will always remain. And I know that it is a frequent thought on the minds of my fellow infertility blogger friends.

So is there any good that can come from infertility? I've asked myself this a million times. As I sit here, now 36 weeks pregnant after a long struggle with infertility, am I better off than if I had gotten pregnant during month one of trying to conceive? I don't know the answer to that, but what I do know is that this is my reality. Infertility, IVF, shots, pain, tears...that is my reality so it really does me no good to think about what ifs and what could have beens.

But what I truly believe from the bottom of my heart is that God took my husband and me through that storm for a reason - and most of the time I have no idea what the reason is - but once in a while I get a glimpse and it makes my heart feel a little lighter.

First, infertility has made my marriage stronger, more loving, more committed and much happier. When it felt like the whole world was a giant storm cloud, my husband and I learned to cling tighter to each other. And, as a consequence, I think we'll be even better parents.

Second, infertility taught me that I do not control my life. Sure, I would like to think I do being a typical Type A personality. What I learned is that I may plan my path but God ultimately determines my steps. And, at times, that is very hard to accept, especially when the steps aren't what I want or had planned.

Third, and probably some other women would get angry at me for saying this...but I truly believe that I will cherish and appreciate my precious little miracle baby more completely, fully, totally than if I had gotten pregnant on the first go-round. I'm by no means saying that you cannot cherish and adore your child unless you obtained him or her through infertility treatments. But I do believe that you appreciate something more when you've actually had to work for it.

Finally, and perhaps one of the greatest blessings, is that I have formed bonds with so many wonderful, beautiful, strong women who have walked the same infertility road as me. And not only online. God has brought into my "for-real" life several wonderful women struggling with infertility and I have been able to share with them my own struggles and to support them through their own storm.

Just yesterday I found out that a good friend is also struggling with infertility and, while pregnant a few weeks ago, has a declining HCG level and is petrified that she's losing her baby. And months ago, I connected with a distant friend (now a good friend) who was going through IVF and we were able to eventually be some of the first people she told when she was expecting. It is such a blessing to me that I can take my own struggles and use them to be a friend, listener and shoulder to cry on.

But it also reminds me of the old friend who resurfaced right before I started my IVF cycle in June who had also been through IVF. God was watching out for me even then making sure I had the needed support. I think one of the lessons for us who have been through infertility is that we shouldn't be surprised when we are given the opportunity to support others who have been through the same storm. It is God using us and we should count ourselves blessed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Twin mommies, I'm so impressed!

I have had a very, very easy pregnancy thus far. No sickness, fatigue, frequent trips to the bathroom or any of the other fun stuff one usually endures prior to meeting one's little bundle of joy.

But here I am at 35 weeks. I'm starting to have trouble sleeping. Waking up 3 or 4 times a night to pee. I am having a hard time breathing and can get out-of-breath just sitting on the couch. I have heartburn. And baby's kicks can really hurt.

All this led me to a thought the other day...

Boy, I don't know how those pregnant with twins do it! I am in absolute awe of all my twin mommy blogger friends. Now, don't get me wrong, I think every woman deserves a medal for enduring 9 months of pregnancy fun. But, twin mommies definitely deserve 3!

As many of you know, we had two embryos transferred but only baby Emma decided to stick around. I just can't imagine doing this with two babies in there. But I'm guessing, when all my twin mommy friends are holding their TWO bundles of joy, they will forget the doubly swollen ankles and doubly aching belly. At least I hope so.

Just wanted to give a little shout out! You all are amazing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

No sad tears this time

Today I had yet another nonstress test with amniotic fluid check. And, for once, I didn't leave the perinatal center in tears.

Per usual, baby did just fine on the nonstress test. Good girl! But, unlike usual, my amniotic fluid was actually in the NORMAL range - barely - but it was just over 8 and that is normal, normal, normal.

But EVEN was baby's big weigh in. She weighed 3lb 11oz two weeks ago and, drum roll please, she weighed 4lb 11oz today. That is exactly the increase she should have had - 1/2 lb a week. The Dr. charted out the baby's growth and is even more confident that 1) there is no problem with baby or me, 2) she is just going to be on the small side, and 3) I could still carry her the full 39-40 weeks!

Praise the Lord! My wonderful husband actually broke into tears at the news. I told him that they are going to think we are a bunch of crybabies - me always crying with bad news and him crying when there is good news. But I'll take tears of joy any day! They are still going to keep me coming back twice a week, which, while a bit of a hassle, is just fine with me. The closer they monitor baby, the less mommy worries.

I rewarded baby with some coffee cake when we got home. Sweet baby Emma, make yourself comfortable, you got 6 more weeks to grow and thrive!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Baby Update

I had another appointment yesterday at the hospital's perinatal center, which included both a nonstress test and an amniotic fluid check. Once again, Emma aced the nonstress test. However, while my fluid had increased - from about 5.9 to 7.6 - it is still below the normal range (8+). I was glad to see that my incessant drinking paid off some but wish it could have done even more. The doctor did give me the ok to go back to work next week.

It looks like the diagnosis is a bad placenta, which is contributing both to the low amniotic fluid and the low weight. We did learn that it is specifically her abdomen that is measuring small (11th percentile) and that the average of all of her measurements put her in the 25th percentile. Well, that at least sounds a little better. Because my fluid is still below normal, I will continue to go to the perinatal center twice a week for a nonstress test and fluid check. They will also weigh her again at my next apointment on Monday to make sure she is increasing in weight.

I met with my OB today and, through a few tears, told her all my concerns. My number one concern is that the placenta will just stop working all together. She said that this is highly unlikely and that the twice a week monitoring will be able to detect any decreases in function. She said, right now, the best place for baby is inside her mommy. I take comfort in how closely they are monitoring me and know that once they make the determination that the baby would be better off outside than inside me, they will take her. Both the doctor at the perinatal clinic and my OB seemed to indicate that 37 weeks is the goal. Goodness, that's just 3 weeks away! Glad we have the nursery all done :)

On a completely different topic, the area I live in - Northern Virginia - is bracing for a winter storm that is expected to dump up to 30" this weekend. I am so sick of snow! Hopefully it means we are due a beautiful spring! Hope all my friends out there in blogworld have a nice, relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nursery Pictures

I'm kind of tired of my anxious, down-in-the-dumps posts. So, since I'm stuck at home on pseudo bed rest, thought I'd put up something a little more fun. Some pictures of the nursery! Enjoy. We now just need a little baby to go in it, but I am happy to wait until she is good and ready!

For those following our recent baby health issues (weighing small and low amniotic fluid), we have our next appointment tomorrow so hopefully I'll have some better news to share.

Monday, February 1, 2010

And more prayers, please!

Today was my first nonstress test. Baby Emma did perfectly and I was just so proud of her. If you recall, I'm going through all this because she is weighing small and they want to make sure the placenta is working properly (read all about it here).

I thought we were in the clear. Then I was told that they also needed to measure my amniotic fluid. Ok, I thought, nothing to it. Boy, was I wrong. The ultrasound technician said that my fluid is severely low (5.8 - needs to be at least 8) and that I am borderline of needing to be admitted to the hospital for fluids.

Oh, how easily a pregnant woman scares...and starts crying! I was sent home, ordered to drink, drink, drink, not go to work for the week and to not exercise. The ultrasound tech really wasn't very compassionate but one of the other nurses saw that I was on the verge of a breakdown and tried really hard to console me. This also means that, instead of getting a nonstress test and amniotic fluid measurement ONCE a week, I have to go TWICE a week.

I've already drank at least 8 cups of water today, which is very hard for me. And sat around working from the couch all day. I'm praying hard that Thursday, the day of my next test, brings good changes. I really need my baby to cook for at least 4 more weeks until I'm 37 weeks along! Again, prayers appreciated.