Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Experience with Infertility Part III - Invitro Fertilization (IVF) and pregnancy


As mentioned in Part II, Oscar and I went on a massive month long road trip from July 8th to August 6th, 2012. By the original calendar my nurses gave me, I wouldn't have been able to have my egg retrieval until mid September due to the length of time we were going to be gone and the dates of my predicted menstrual cycle. Fortunately for one of only 3 times in my entire life, my period was 6 days late during July. As depressing as it was to get my hopes up that we had actually managed to get pregnant on our own only to have them crushed by the arrival of my period, that irregular cycle allowed us to start the IVF drugs in August rather than in September. My nurses were delighted when I let them know my period had come so late. I took birth control while we were on vacation and came home ready to begin the egg stimulation process.

The first appointment was a suppression check to make sure the birth control had done its job, see if there were any ovarian cysts, and to practice the embryo transfer (at Seattle Reproductive Medicine, this is also when you make your payments for the entire IVF process). They insert a catheter exactly like they would if they were actually transferring embryos in order to make sure there aren't any obstacles they'll need to be concerned about during the real thing. After the suppression check you're supposed to decrease your physical activity until after the cycle is over. I know I did a few intense days at the gym before reading this in my email from my nurses, and I don't know whether that affected my egg stimulation or not. Next time we try the process I'll make sure to adhere to this counsel and see if makes a significant difference. Around this time I also went to SRM's IVF seminar. A doctor and an embryologist explain the full process, which is helpful though a whole lot of information to take in at once. My doctor was right about most women not needing assistant reproductive services until they're older. I was by far the youngest in the room.

Around this time I should have also scheduled an injection training class. I completely spaced it until the first day of my shots. We had to search out a few youtube videos in order to figure out how to administer them. I had my husband give me the shots as often as possible, but I did have to administer a few to myself. A friend of mine had had severe bruising and other unpleasant reactions from the injections. I barely noticed them and had virtually no side effects. The needles were small and the shots are in the lower belly where I have plenty of cushion thanks to my fat stores (nice for excess fat to serve a useful purpose!). Any pain I felt was both minimal and quick.

On day 4 of my cycle, I started taking a drug called microdose lupron every 12 hours. This medication prevents premature ovulation. They need to time that perfectly in order to schedule your egg retrieval. Prior to egg retrieval, Oscar had to start taking an antibiotic as a precautionary measure to prevent bacteria from inhibiting his sperm's performance. 2 days after starting on the lupron, I began taking gonadatropin injections in the evening (Gonal F pen and Menopur), which are designed to help your body stimulate the growth of your follicles (follicles have 1 egg inside them). As mentioned in part II, the body normally builds up about 20 follicles before ovulation, but only the most useful one is released while the remaining follicles are reabsorbed back into the body. The gonadatropins help the weaker follicles to grow so they can become useful too. While your follicles are growing, they observe you through ultrasounds every 2 or 3 days for the next week and a half. Thanks to my low egg count, I did not produce anything close to 20. My right ovary looked like it would only produce 1, but another small one was found later on in my cycle. The main one it did produce, however, was by far the biggest. It probably would have been the strongest one I'd naturally release for ovulation in a normal cycle. The left ovary produced 7 follicles. My doctor told me it's not uncommon for one ovary to do the bulk of the work. My left ovary was all about quantity while my right ovary was all about quality. As the days went by my follicles definitely grew, but they took their sweet time doing so. The doctors and nurses were getting concerned that I didn't have many that would end up being large enough to be worth retrieving. At my ultrasound following my last day of fertility drugs, there were only 2 fully mature eggs and 2 that were almost there. They require at least 4 mature eggs or they will cancel the egg retrieval. They opted to wait one more day and gave me extra fertility drugs at the clinic since I was completely out by then with no easy way of getting more. Fortunately, more growth occurred in 1 day than previously had in several days (after a ton of prayer and pleading with God as well).

That evening my husband gave me the HCG shot to trigger ovulation. He had to do this exactly 36 hours before my egg retrieval. This one hurt, but I think that's because Oscar didn't read the instructions saying to administer it in a quick, dart-like motion. He did it slow and straight into the lower back/hip area, and it was a much bigger needle than I was used to. It was the only shot that gave me any sort of bruise or soreness, but even that wasn't too bad. The next day I had to take a pregnancy test to confirm that the HCG had been absorbed. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is also the natural hormone your body produces during pregnancy. The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more HCG your body will produce, and the more likely you are to get a positive pregnancy test. They give you plenty of HCG in the ovulation trigger shot, so you should definitely get a positive result. I was delighted to finally see a positive pregnancy test for the first time in my life. Even though I knew I couldn't actually be pregnant, I had a strong feeling that I would be soon. I was also happy after never getting a positive from an ovulation kit to find out that I'm not completely unresponsive to urine tests.

After 12 hours of fasting, I came in for the egg retrieval (now considered day 0) at 9:45am Thursday August 30th. One of the benefits of IVF is knowing exactly when your conception date was. Oscar provided a sperm sample and I was put under anesthetic while they removed my eggs with a special needle. I'd heard horror stories about how uncomfortable you feel after waking up from the anesthetic. A friend had described it as feeling like having your uterus ripped apart and then stitched back together. I know she's not the only one who felt that way since a girl at church whose sister had tried IVF asked me "how was your egg retrieval? My sister hated it." If that's the typical reaction, I must have really lucked out! I felt incredibly refreshed when I woke up from the egg retrieval. The anesthetic gave me some of the deepest sleep I've ever had in my life, and the rest of the day was not bad at all. The only side effect I felt was some drowsiness and very mild cramping. I didn't even bother to take the vicodin they prescribed for me or any tylenol since it was nowhere near as bad as my standard menstrual cramps are. You're not allowed to drive since you may still be drowsy, and it's best not to be alone for the rest of the day in case you suddenly pass out. I asked my lovely friends Cari and Marianna to come over and babysit me. Fortunately the drowsiness wore off fairly quickly, so I just got to enjoy some extra quality time with my friends.

At egg retrieval they were able to extract all 9 of my eggs. Of the eggs they retrieved, they expect about 70% to fertilize successfully. We had 8 out of 9, which is 88%. SRM called on day 2 while I was out hiking to Lake Serene with some friends. They seemed pretty excited to tell me the news, and I was thrilled to hear I had 8 fertilized eggs when only a few days earlier I was worried if I would even qualify for egg retrieval. They also let me know that they were scheduling me for a day 5 transfer. This surprised me since, if I remember correctly, the doctor at my IVF seminar said "most of you will have a day 3 transfer." If that's true, it must be because all of those women were older than me and less likely to produce high quality embryos. Day 3 might be the most common transfer day, but day 5 is better since it gives the doctors more time to observe embryonic development. On day 3 the cells have divided into 8 parts, and the embryos most likely to continue developing are those with divisions that are similar in size and shape. It does no good to keep embryos in the lab as opposed to implanting them in the body, so if you have a few that clearly look better than the rest, or if you only have a couple to work with from the beginning, they will opt for a day 3 transfer. Day 4 tells them nothing since the embryo has become too fuzzy to distinguish division size and shape, but day 5 is the best now that they can see if the embryo has made it to the blastocyst stage. Since all of my embryos looked the same on day 2, doctors opted to do a day 5 transfer in order to continue observing their development and avoid the risk of multiples.

Here's how I understand it, and if anyone reading sees a mistake in my facts or percentages, feel free to correct me in the comments. In a normal menstrual cycle, you only release your very best egg for ovulation. If you're actively trying to get pregnant, even that best egg only has about a 60% chance of fertilizing successfully and then about a 40% chance of developing into a fully fledged embryo on day 5. This is why even a fertile woman trying to conceive only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant on any given month. If the egg does fertilize successfully, the embryo is single cell on day 1, it divides in 2 on day 2, and then will continue dividing and developing as the days go by. The blastocyst stage is day 5, meaning the embryo has many divisions and is clearly about to separate into two main parts. It then travels through the fallopian tubes so it can implant in the uterus. By day 6, it has separated into those two main parts - the part that's going to attach to the uterus and develop into the placenta, and the part that's going to become the fetus. During an IVF cycle, transfers or egg freezing needs to be done before that stage as the embryo now requires a uterus to attach to if it's ever going to become a fetus. High quality blastocysts have about an 80% chance of resulting in successful pregnancy, so seeing at least one of those in an IVF cycle is pretty exciting. For this reason most doctors will encourage you to only implant one blastocyst if you're fortunate enough to get one. Transferring 2 only minimally increases your chances of getting pregnant at all, but it increases your chances of having twins by nearly 60%. As fun as twins can be, the factor most likely to harm a fetus in development is having to share its space with other growing fetuses, hence the reason having any sort of multiples is considered a high risk pregnancy. Even twins typically cause complications. My own sister in law had to be on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy after starting to go into labor almost 3 months early with her identical twins (for the record, they were born with some lung issues and needed to stay in the hospital for a week, but now they're happy, healthy and adorable). They'll let you implant 2 blastocysts if you want to, though they will discourage it, but they absolutely won't do more than that.

At egg retrieval, women my age and under are typically able to release15-20 eggs. I've even heard of some releasing as many as 35. For a fertile woman trying to get pregnant over a period of 15-20 months, 4-5 (about 25%) of her 15-20 best quality eggs would naturally develop to that lovely blastocyst stage. The stats for blastocyst development from eggs that have been stimulated, harvested, and then fertilized in a lab aren't quite that high. This is probably due to a combination of factors. A lab, no matter how advanced, is never quite as good an environment for embryo development as the body is. Plus most of the eggs in an IVF cycle would not have qualified as natural selection's absolute best, so overall they might be lower in quality than the average woman's 15-20 best eggs from 15-20 different menstrual cycles. And then there's the fact that couples doing IVF often have fertility issues that affect their embryo development. In most IVF cycles with 15-20 eggs to work with, the typical amount that will develop into blastocysts is 1 or 2. If you're lucky you might get 3 or 4 and you could cryopreserve the extras for future use. 50% of all cycles will not have any embryos that are high enough quality to be worth freezing, but they may still have one that is worth implanting. Many cycles won't have any embryos make it to the blastocyst stage. If that's the case, they'll take the ones that have progressed the most and implant them in the hopes that they're just a little late in development and will continue growing within the uterus.

When IVF was new, they didn't have the biological culture to keep the embryos alive up through day 5. All embryo transfers had to be done on day 3. This is the reason IVF originally resulted in so many multiples being born (for an example of this, watch the episode of "Friends" where Phoebe becomes a surrogate mother for her brother and his wife). Back then they would transfer around 6 embryos since each only had about a 25% chance of survival. The odds were that you were going to get pregnant with only 1 baby, but of course, there were times that 2, 3, 4, 5, or even all 6 developed. Being able to keep the embryos alive until blastocyst stage was a huge advancement in science and considerably reduced the risk of multiples (and consequently, birth complications and development).

Transfer day does not require anesthetic, but it does require a full (though not bursting) bladder, which is a bit uncomfortable. This helps them access the uterus more easily. The actual transfer isn't bad at all (it felt pretty similar to my 3 IUI's), and you are allowed to pee afterwards, which was a blessed relief. After I first laid down, the embryologist came in to update me on how my embryos had developed. She said they had one that was great that they wanted to transfer, one that was almost just as good that they wanted to freeze, and 3 that still had a chance of developing and qualifying for freezing. The other 3 embryos had been discarded after they'd stopped growing, 1 on day 3 and 2 on day 5. Oscar and I did opt for transferring both of the highest quality embryos since, if we were ever going to have twins, we'd rather start with them first. They double checked with me that I was aware of the risks and then went ahead and performed the transfer. The fun thing is that they had pictures of both embryos for us. Here's the one that was highest quality.


And here's the one that was almost just as good. It's still a bit fuzzy in the middle, which is why it wasn't quite as good as the one above.


After the transfer I was told to remain off my feet as much as possible for the next few days, but I wasn't required to be on bed rest (or to put my legs over my head like Phoebe on "Friends"). The next day my doctor called to let us know that 1 of our remaining 3 embryos had developed enough to be worth freezing. Though we have fantastic insurance that covers up to 3 rounds of IVF, they will not cover embryo freezing or storage. A full cycle of IVF with drugs is about $20,000 total. Transferring a frozen embryo is around $3000, freezing the embryo is $900, and storing it is $40 a month. This comes out to a lot less than $20,000, so it's definitely worth saving your extra embryos if you can. My insurance said if I froze my embryo, they would cover it's transfer, but they wouldn't cover the freezing or storage fees, and it would count as one of my 3 covered IVF attempts. For me to do a full round of IVF without freezing, I spent about $1300. For me to do an embryo transfer that they covered but in which I paid for the freezing and storage, I would pay about $300 for my part of the transfer, $900 for the freezing, and then $720 for a year and a half of storage (assuming I'd successfully gotten pregnant from my original IVF attempt). That means a frozen embryo transfer costs me about $2000 out of pocket while the insurance spends about $2700. For the full IVF, I pay $1300 and the insurance pays nearly $19,000. We don't think it makes much sense to use the insurance for just an embryo transfer, and we intend to milk it for all it's worth by using the full amount of all 3 of our IVF cycles.

The question remained then, should we freeze this embryo and plan on paying for an embryo transfer out of pocket after using up our 3 covered IVF attempts? What if we get pregnant with each IVF cycle and then decide 3 children is enough? What if we get lucky and we're one of those couples who's able to conceive on their own after a successful IVF? It seemed like a lot of money to spend for an embryo we might never need. You are allowed to donate your extra embryos to other infertile couples or to stem cell research, but did we want to spent thousands of dollars just for that? And what if in the end it's no good? Even though it was a blastocyst, that was no guarantee that it would necessarily result in a baby. We might be paying thousands of dollars for a dud! Had we had several to be frozen, it would have made the decision considerably easier.

My doctor gave me some advice and then gave me about an hour to think everything over. Our time frame was short since the blastocyst needed to be frozen soon or it would develop past the point that it requires a uterus to attach to. She told me that I was very likely going to get pregnant due to the quality of the embryos that were just transferred, meaning I likely wouldn't be coming back to the fertility clinic for at least a year. My egg count was already low, and even though my first cycle resulted in 3 blastocysts, she couldn't guarantee it would be that successful again since my egg count and quality are only going to get lower as I age. I had to consider the question "do I want to discard this great embryo only to do 2 more rounds of IVF and have them both be unsuccessful?" A nurse practitioner later informed me that even though you don't ovulate, you still lose eggs while you're pregnant and nursing, so she recommended I not nurse too long and come back as early as possible for my 2nd IVF attempt.

During our hour of contemplation, we were able to get a hold of our parents and explain the situation to them. They talked with each other, and then each pair offered us $1,000. That made the decision much easier. They took the financial burden off of us, and they were willing to invest in their future grandchild knowing as well as we did that their money could end up going to waste. I was glad to know they felt that way since it comforted me to know I wasn't the only one that felt my embryo was worth the risks and costs associated with it. We ended up affectionately naming it "Eglantine." Some of you might know the name from "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Oscar and I know it from the series "Guardians of GaHoole." The mama hopes her last egg is a girl because "I've always wanted a little Eglantine!" Oscar and I both laughed that you would actually want to give your child such a strange name, but we think it's appropriate for an embryo, particularly if it ends up being a girl.

Though the shots are long over at this point, there are still a couple drugs you have to start taking. One was doxcycline, a type of antibiotic to prevent bacteria infecting the area that's been exposed during the embryo transfer, and the other was prometrium, a vaginal suppository to make sure you have enough progesterone to make a suitable womb for baby. If you are pregnant, you continue on it until week 10. That was my least favorite medicine. I'd honestly rather have the shots. It was expensive even with my insurance coverage, it leaks a lot, and it makes the surrounding area sore. The leaking also kept convincing me that my period was coming. I literally shouted for joy when I was done with it.

Just like any other couple trying to get pregnant, we had to wait two weeks after ovulation to see if my period came. That was tough! We were also beginning to get a little attached to our embryos. We called them Snuthensnur and Snuthensnella, an inside joke among Oscar's family for babies without names yet. A lot more went into this pregnancy attempt than any other, so I became extremely anxious to know the results. There were a few subtle differences, though, that made me believe I was pregnant, even if the part of me that always plans for the worst wouldn't fully allow me to accept it. The first thing I noticed was that I was much sleepier than usual. My husband works until 11:15 pm, and we don't typically go to bed until midnight. On the 2nd Saturday after the transfer, I fell asleep at 9:20pm and woke up at 10:00am. I hadn't done anything particularly exhausting that day or been sick, so that was definitely out of the ordinary. I also had very mild pains in my lower abdomen, but I doubted those meant anything since I'd had something similar in each of my failed IUI's. I think the biggest difference was that my intuition told me I was finally pregnant, that my body was experiencing something new. I can't possibly explain this because there have been plenty of other months I thought "for sure we're pregnant this time." In each of those cases, however, I really wanted to get pregnant and wishful thinking made me look for reasons I could be. After so many failed pregnancy attempts already, I came into IVF accepting that it wasn't going to work. I told myself it probably hadn't worked but that we had a frozen embryo and 2 more IVF cycles to try. In just those two weeks I finally came to accept the reality that I might never be able to get pregnant, but this new mother's intuition told me otherwise.

With IVF, they encourage you not to take a home pregnancy test and just to wait until you come in for a blood test on what would be day 1 of your period if the IVF were unsuccessful. This is because the HCG shot you took might still have some residuals and give you a false positive, and because urine tests are less accurate than blood tests. Since all of my periods after my IUI's were slightly early, simply the fact that I'd made it to day 1 without a period made me feel pretty sure that I was pregnant. For the previous 5 days, I'd been sure that my period was coming and kept checking for it. When day 1 came and I went in for the blood test, I was reasonably confident that it would be positive. A few hours later the nurse called to confirm it. The test was very positive. Hoorah! They look for an HCG level of at least 50 units, and mine was at 219. They test again a few days later to make sure it's doubling as it should, and that followed suit as well.

I thought for sure both embryos must have made it since the HCG level was so high, but I found out several weeks later that only one made it. They had me come in for an ultrasound on week 7 (technically that's only week 5 after conception. Since most women don't know their conception date, pregnancy weeks start counting from your last period). They identified one yolk sack and womb that looked strong, and they also discovered where the other had implanted. The transfer itself had been successful and the embryo had been strong enough to implant itself in the uterine lining, but at some point it had stopped developing. It would be considered an early, easy miscarriage, the kind your body just reabsorbs and recycles without needing to go into a doctor's office to be "cleaned out." The doctor said there was a small chance (5%) that it was just a little late bloomer, and they had me come back in two weeks later to double check. She didn't think it was very likely, though, since the one yolk sac was sitting in a nice fancy womb (pictured below) while the other didn't have a distinguishable sac and only had a small womb around it. At this point the baby was only the size of a blueberry. Most of what you see in the pic below is the womb. The baby (yolk sac) is just that little area where they marked the dots across it.


We returned on week 9, and just as expected, embryo #2 did not develop any further. It hadn't fully reabsorbed yet, but it was clearly not progressing. However, Baby Stoscar (combination of Stacy and Oscar) was squirming around like crazy. Here he is looking like a gummy bear at that ultrasound.


Since then we've found out that Stoscar is a boy! We had an ultrasound at 19 weeks, and it was pretty unmistakeable. The tech said she was 99% certain. Even without her telling us, we could see he was a boy pretty easily just from this pic.


As for the rest of him, he doesn't have a lot of fat on him yet, which is normal at this stage, so he looks a little creepy. But I still love my little alien baby.





 And his side profiles.











As for how the pregnancy has gone for me so far, I honestly can't complain. I never expected it to be this easy. I haven't had any morning sickness, heart burn, or acid reflux. My main symptoms from the 1st trimester were being ravenously hungry and exhausted almost all the time. I still worked out, but 30 minutes on the elliptical on low level felt like an hour of boot camp. I slept long and deeply every night, plus I took naps pretty much everyday. I don't know how pregnant women who have young children in the house do it. Apparently the exhaustion is the result of the body producing progesterone (meaning I probably didn't even need that awful prometrium since my body seemed able to do the job just fine on its own). That eased off a few weeks before the 2nd trimester, and now I have my energy back. Hoorah! There were a few other small symptoms too. Any kind of bouncing activity gave me a headache (goodbye jogging and jumping jacks), and every once in awhile I would randomly feel blood rushing to my head and would need to lay down.

As for the 2nd trimester, for the most part I feel little different than I did pre-pregnancy. I'm carrying the baby extremely low, which means it doesn't affect my singing or breathing nearly as much as it would for a woman that carries her baby high and throws off her center of gravity. I also have the occasional craving (fresh OJ, bacon cheeseburger, waffles with peanut butter, and rice), but no weird combinations like pickles with chop suey and watermelon. I can still bend over and remain active, I just have a few limitations. I can't work quite as intensely as I used to, and I can't do squat jumping jacks without all the blood rushing to my head. But I can do exercises that bounce again, and I have most of my stamina back. My doctor cleared me to be pretty active since I was very active leading up to pregnancy. I do less than I used to, but I'm sure I'm among the more active of pregnant women. I also log my calories to make sure I'm staying within a reasonable calorie range and not just letting myself go.

Even though I realize weight gain is necessary to pregnancy, after spending all of my post-pubescent life struggling with my weight, it's still difficult to see the scale go up and my clothes getting tight. Fortunately I'm not upset about how I look, which would normally be a huge symptom of me simply putting on extra weight. I like my pregnancy bump, and I'm carrying the baby pretty naturally. But after two decades of practice, my heart still drops when I see weight gain on the scale, and I'm a bit sad when my clothes feel tighter. It's an illogical reaction since that's to be expected with pregnancy, but I've spent my lifetime training my brain to be disappointed when I gain weight, so it's just what it does automatically. Here are my pregnancy pics so far

 15 weeks (my barely noticeable bump, but enough to make my pants tight)

19 weeks (bump's noticeable now)

and 21 weeks (just last week. I've had to put away a lot of clothes and buy some new ones)

That's my infertility story with every detail I can possibly think of. Even though I still don't know why I haven't been able to pregnant, it's nice to know that it's not anything big that could be affecting my health in other ways. And of course, simply knowing that my body is capable of bearing a child is wonderful. To be honest it's still been hard to process that I'm having a baby. I think I'll need my son in my arms before I can fully accept that it's real.

And to my son, I hope you read this one day. Then if there ever comes a time that you're feeling upset that mom and dad don't really care about you, you'll know just how much went into bringing you into our family. I've just begun feeling you move around, and I'm excited to learn more and more about you. You are our little miracle, and we are enormously grateful to have you in our lives. I've been blessed to be able to watch you grow since you were a 5 day old embryo, and I look forward to watching you keep growing. May this blogpost serve as a reminder to you of just how incredibly valued you are.

Updates:

I'm at week 29 now, which is about 7 months and in the beginning of the 3rd trimester. Baby Stoscar is squirming around like crazy, especially when I lay on my right side. Apparently that's cramping his style. On our 12 hour trip from Sacramento, CA to Cathlamet, WA, he did not move in the slightest the entire day until I laid down on my right side that night. From the moment I laid down, he started kicking in protest. His kicks are becoming easier for others to feel from the outside, though he calms down whenever Oscar puts his hand on my belly. I guess Oscar has the same calming effect on him that he has on the kitties. The movements are also becoming visible. The womb is measuring at 28.5 centimeters, which is right on target (about a centimeter per week). From all the doctors can tell, he seems healthy and active.

As for me, I've begun experiencing my first truly unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. My back hurts a lot, I get heartburn frequently, and I get severely, painfully bloated after eating. This can happen with as little as a bowl of cereal, and it's really intense if I overeat too much in one sitting. It's also much worse when I consume a lot of liquid combined with something that absorbs liquid, like the Vietnamese noodle dish, pho'.

I'm definitely showing now. Unless I'm wearing something super loose, it's hard to miss that I'm pregnant. According to my guests at my birthday party this past Sunday, I've "popped."

24 weeks

28 weeks

And 30 weeks. I thought I'd take some pics in pregnancy clothes instead of just my gym clothes.






Here are my 34 weeks pics.

I was wearing the black shirt at an activities committee meeting one night, and several of the other members had brought their young children. These were the comments I received - "I like your shirt," "I like the gold things in your shirt," and "you have a BIG belly."


Last Saturday baby had his first traumatic experience...and he slept right through it. I was walking down the 2 porch steps of a house, I slipped, went up in the air skipping the steps entirely, and came down hard on my butt. It was an intense fall, but since my butt took the brunt of it, I didn't injure anything. I was much more concerned about baby than about me, and since I got into the 3rd trimester, I'm required to report all falls to my nurse. Since It was a bad fall and the baby wasn't moving, she told me to go into the emergency room. Fortunately baby started moving once they put the observation tools on my belly. He's pretty picky about things touching him, and he kept trying to kick them off. He does the same thing when I fold my arms or rest a book or an Ipad on my belly. He has a pretty consistent sleep schedule, and since that time of day is normally when he sleeps, he slept right through the fall! Even if it didn't injure him, I'm surprised the fall didn't shock him awake. He must get that from Oscar. He can sleep through anything. Fortunately everything looked good and the variations in the heartbeat were normal. The doctor said the baby has a good natural cushion to protect him, and that it really requires the impact of a car accident or a hard hit in the gut to seriously affect a pregnancy. 

What was most interesting about my hospital visit was finding out that baby moves a heck of a lot more than I realize he does. Apparently I can only feel his biggest movements. The doctor said his heart rate fluctuations showed that he was moving around a lot, and when the nurse looked at the read out she said "wow, he's really squirming." I could feel him moving, but I had no idea it was that constant. They also had a monitor on my uterus to make sure that the fall wasn't sending me into premature labor, and apparently I'm still having contractions that I can't feel. I've learned from my birthing class that your body starts having contractions within about 4 months of pregnancy in order to train for the marathon that is labor. You can't feel them then, but the further along you get, the more you will feel them. They're inconsistent unlike labor contractions, and the pain will usually ease if you lie on your side or take a walk. I've definitely felt some painful ones, but I knew they weren't real labor due to their brevity and inconsistency.  They ended up keeping me at the hospital 15 minutes longer than expected when the printout showed that I was having contractions. I was surprised since I couldn't feel them at all. I would have thought I was feeling all of my contractions this far along.

At the beginning of April, Oscar and I started taking birthing classes through Providence Hospital. Monday night was the only night that would work for us, which is coincidentally the night that my friend Marianna's mom, Ann, teaches them. When we practice my being in labor and having bad contractions, Ann insists that fathers don't want to make light of the situation since you'll be in serious pain and won't be in the mood for joking. Oscar won't stop goofing around no matter what she says. So far I always just laugh at him, but we'll see if that's my reaction during actual labor.  

36 Weeks. Getting close

And now we're in the final stretch. I had my last shift at work yesterday and now I'm just relaxing at home until baby decides to make an appearance. Things are definitely getting uncomfortable, but it's also super exciting to know this baby is getting ready to join the world. Apparently fetal movements are supposed to slow down this late in the game since he doesn't have a lot of room, but my baby never got the memo! He still moves around a ton. It's a bit painful when he pushes and stretches, but it's so awesome to interact with him. He's super responsive to touch, even more so than to sweets. I already love him like crazy!

37 Weeks. You can see that baby dropped between weeks 36 and 37. This means more pelvic pressure for me and a lot more trips to the bathroom. It also means he's on his way out in 2-3 weeks. If that's true, he should arrive slightly before his due date.




38.5 Weeks

Boy am I getting big from the side! I remember back when I bought these clothes thinking "nice that they have so much room to grow." Not so much anymore...


My work had a little send off party for me on my last day and sent me home with my very own edible arrangement. Aww! My favorites are the stroller, the rocking horse, and the teddy bear pineapples!







And lastly, 39 weeks plus 3 days. Baby was born 2 days after this picture was taken. The birth post will follow shortly!



Here I am 9 days post partum. Pics of my losing the post baby bump will be in future posts.



1 comment:

  1. Wow. I'm glad that you wrote all of this. I am too emotionally tied to the experiences of IVF to be able to write something like this. But, I am glad that you can. There are so many people that really don't know everything that goes into an IVF cycle. I am so glad that your try was successful. I'm also glad that you were able to freeze your eggs. Definitely the chances of it working get slimmer with each cycle. We are trying one more time this summer (cycle 5) and then will be done with trying. I just can't take it emotionally or physically any more. The payoff is fantastic, but not feasible over and over. Anyway, congrats on the baby. I am SO glad that it worked!

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