Genitalia

You’re right – that title is probably inappropriate. Nevertheless. we will be anxiously scoping out our baby’s midsection a week from today, trying to see its genitalia.

That’s typically a bit weird – but this is our kid we’re talking about. And now I can start thinking about it. A week from today, we will find out whether we have a boy or a girl on the way. That is freaking crazy!!! I am now completely letting myself think about this moment next week, when we find out whether we have a little boy on the way….or a little girl.

Talk about something that can’t possibly go wrong.

I am so excited to find this out, it’s honestly a little embarrassing. We got a Parents magazine in the mail today (I’m still trying to figure out how) and I was over the moon. Which explains why I’m not sure how I can get through next Tuesday. Let me explain.

We are going for our gender ultrasound next Tuesday (October 9, 11 AM central time in the US). However, we have made the decision together to have the tech or the doctor to write down for us the gender of our child. Then, we’ll go out for dinner that night and take it out of an envelope together. So, although I’ll know we have the answer by 11:30 or so on Tuesday, I’ll have to wait 8 hours. Hell, I wasn’t able to wait 8 hours to propose to HTBM once I had the engagement ring!! So yeah, this is going to be tough.

HTBM is feeling our baby move on a daily basis now. Our baby. It’s still crazy and new and wonderful to me. I feel like I will literally never take this for granted. Every poopy diaper I change, every bit of vomit I get on me, every second of sleep I lose, it will all be worth it and I’ll cherish every second. And in a week, we’ll find out if we need to focus on boy names or girl names. Unbelievable.

Felt It

Almost 18 weeks. Completely surreal to think that in 20 days, we’ll know if we’re expecting a little boy or a little girl. Again, this is too cool to even think about, one way or the other….so I can’t write about that yet.

What I can write about is, well, that little monkey getting bigger and bigger. As I stated before, on our ultrasound at 12 weeks, we saw our little jelly bean flipping and flopping all over the place. So cool. Of course, HTBM couldn’t feel a thing yet. They said, on average, 16-20 weeks in and the woman can feel it. So we waited, and as HTBM continued to feel a bit better and have more energy, we relied on the fetal heart monitor to make sure our little peanut was still growing.

In the last week, it has gotten even cooler. HTBM woke me up last Saturday morning and told me she could feel it. It was 4 AM, but I instantly awoke and had her place my hand below her abdomen. There. I felt it too. Very subtle, but something gave me a high 5 from the inside.

Holy shit.

She’s felt it off and on the past week. The level of awe I feel is literally off the charts. I have felt it a couple more times and it just never gets old. The fact is, it only gets better from here. We’ll feel it more often, and more strongly. It’s our kid. Our kid is growing up, getting bigger, and getting to know his/her body. All that’s happening inside HTBM. It’s been done zillions of times, and it will be done zillions more times. But I can’t help but feel that ours is historic….ours is a true miracle.

When you live with HTBM, you get shit done….period. We already put our deposit down for day care, bought the crib and bought the dresser. Yes, obviously we know anything can happen. We know most people wait a bit longer. And given what we’ve been through, we should be more cautious. But given what we’ve been through. how CAN we be more cautious? We’ve got a baby on the way…..and it gave me a high 5. Now that’s cool.

Labor Day At 15 Weeks

Pregnancy is boring. Not really, of course. HopeToBeMommy and I jump and smile with each excitement the newness of this journey brings. We each have the ‘Sprout‘ app for iPhone and we really like reading the developments that come each week. But from a blogging perspective, especially in a blog that grew in the infertility world, I struggle a bit with what to write. I really enjoy this space, so I will continue to provide periodic updates. Again, as stated in the last post, those that don’t want to read shouldn’t. I’ve been in those shoes not wanting to read someone’s pregnancy stories.

HTBM is now 15 weeks, 2 days pregnant today. We’re chugging along toward the different milestones. Firmly planted in trimester 2, in a couple of weeks we can say she’s 4 months pregnant. Four months. That sounds seriously pregnant, right? And then 3 weeks or so after that, we have the anatomy ultrasound. I can’t think too much about that because I just get so excited. So we’re going to leave it out there, on the horizon, in October.

We got a fetal heart monitor for the house. It’s nice to use during those times when you wonder if all is still okay. Those thoughts are truly happening much less frequently at this point, but we still experienced that last weekend (at about 14 weeks). She was just a bit worried for no reason at all, really, and asked me to get the monitor. We had only tried it once before, at about 13 weeks, and it didn’t really work. We weren’t scared at the time because we knew it was probably still a touch early for this device to work, and we’d just had an ultrasound a couple days prior. But at 14 weeks, it probably should work, and I was scared to try. Because, what if. I resisted HTBM’s requests mildly, but after a couple minutes gave in. We put the gel on my belly first and tried it. Of course, nothing. Then we tried hers. At first, we seemed to get a beat here or there, but nothing consistent. Then, I got the right spot. And there was the heartbeat. Beating strong and frequent. Now, instead of fear, was pure joy. How cool – we still had a hearbeat!

So this weekend, we ventured down to Des Moines to see the parents along with my twin brother, his wife and their 21-month old son. And, as previously stated, she’s pregnant with #2 and due 3 weeks before HTBM. It was just so cool to be treated like other couples, like my brother and his wife. Instead of having family tiptoe around pregnancy conversations and having to talk about our next steps, we were all on the same page. All moving down the same path. Grandparents and parents, together, just talking family. Labor Day at 15 weeks gave us more normalcy. Of course, the REAL “labor” days is still months away…and just like the anatomy ultrasound, has to stay out on the horizon. After all, there’s nothing at all boring about that impending event.

Normal-People Experiences

I actually feel just a slight twinge guilty, to be honest. No, I know we deserve this and deserve to be 100% happy….but so do those who continue to battle the infertility that plagued us for so long. I know how it feels to be frustrated and sad, and then have pregnancy stories shoved in your face, so if you don’t want to read on, please don’t. I get it.

We had the 6 and 10 week ultrasounds at our clinic, and they were really cool. Especially at 10 weeks, we could see a little gummy bear in there that we just wanted to hold. And we could see a heartbeat flashing at us. But it was still just….an object? It got very cool this week. We got to go to the normal-people doctor and have a normal-people ultrasound at 12 weeks and 4 days. We didn’t know what to expect; HTBM was a bit nervous (as usual). Totally normal, since although we’ve had blood tests and all has been well, it had been over 2 weeks since we saw the heartbeat last. It just…never gets easy. I’m not sure when you 100% trust that everything will be okay and you stop worrying. I’m starting to think that moment is over 18 years away ūüôā

The normal-people ultrasound is pretty cool. Instead of watching my wife fornicate with a plastic wand, it simply goes on her abdomen, and the kid is big enough to see. Let me tell you, one of the coolest moments of my life was watching the kid move around in there – she or he looks pretty active! Heartbeat was 140, the back of the neck measured in just fine (too thick is a sign of Downs’ Syndrome, I guess) and we got a few baby pictures taken! I really don’t think this will ever get old….HTBM and I just soaked it all in. It’s becoming more real every week, every day.

I haven’t done the Facebook thing, and I just don’t know if I can. I know what it’s like to see the baby announcement on Facebook, and no matter how I think to word it, I just struggle with it. I can’t say I know everyone’s fertility situation that I’m friends with, so I just have a hard time thinking about pushing it out to everyone’s timeline.

Still, we’re slowly telling loved ones in person or on the phone or in email, and needless to say, they’re thrilled. Those that don’t know our struggle, they just smile and say congratulations. It’s nice – like normal-people. Just like normal-people.

Only Ladders

We all played the game Chutes & Ladders when we were little – at least, I think we did. Just a basic board game with dice and a piece that moved a certain amount of spaces each time, but would move up a bunch of spaces if you hit a ladder, or down a bunch if you hit a chute. I liked that game, but I remember getting upset if I hit too many chutes in a sitting. The game wasn’t fair! it seemed….and then some got to hit all ladders and get to the top very quickly.

Well, I don’t need to spell the metaphor out for you. I’ve been thinking of this game a lot lately, and how it’s been all chutes for quite some time for us in real life. I really didn’t feel all¬†differently¬†than I did when I was a small child: upset, life wasn’t fair, etc. I wanted some ladders, something to go right. Last fall was the biggest chute on the board, dreaded space 87:

Image

We’ve all seen too many space 87s in our infertility journeys, be it, BFNs, emotional difficulties, or, like us and many others, miscarriages. We get so high on the board, only to fall all the way back down. Space 87 is¬†not fair. Space 87 makes you feel like so much hard work was for nothing. Space 87 makes you feel like you’ll never finish.

But we all charge on. We don’t put the game away and do something else. When the game is real life, you don’t have a choice. Right now, we are dangerously close to passing space 87. 8 weeks into pregnancy and HopeToBeMommy has never felt worse. And we’ve never felt better. For the first time, we’re seeing only ladders. May it be the same for all of us.

Bring It

It feels SO GOOD to jump on here and share that all is still good!! In fact, it’s better than good – HTBM is definitely incubating and feeling it. Week 6 and, right on schedule, the ‘morning sickness’ is in full effect. No vomiting, but definitely dizziness/lightheadedness/nausea. Oh, and exhaustion too. And neither of us could be more thrilled with her feeling bad. I sorta feel crummy about it – I feign concern and pity, but she can see straight through to my joy over her pukey feeling. But she easily shares that joy.

It’s definitely a change from last time when she felt nothing. She is one who is very in tune with her body, so intuitively, we know she should feel it. And she’s felt it all along. She feels pregnant. She¬†is pregnant.

The 6 week ultrasound (6w 4d according to a due date calculator) is on Friday. Total craziness. We may see our baby’s heartbeat on Friday, which is pretty much unbelievable. It would be the greatest moment of my life. To not see it on Friday or to find out there is some problem….well, it would be something that I’m not sure we could handle. I guess I’m sure we would find a way to move on, but it would be completely and utterly awful.

But here’s the thing: I’m not worried about it. I mean, sure, there are times like yesterday, when I felt like I didn’t slow down as much as I should have over a bump in the road, and I sat and fretted for a couple hours. But it melted away, and I knew I was being silly. I mean,¬†she’s¬†pregnant. And there’s absolutely, positively, no denying that.

I never thought I’d think this, but her feeling sick is pretty much awesome. It brings me great joy, and I definitely don’t mind taking care of her and cooking her dinner and stuff. I also won’t mind over the next several weeks and months if she pukes in my car, farts at church, or pees her pants at the grocery store. Those things will also be pretty much awesome.

This is pregnancy. We say ‘bring it on.’ Bring on the heartbeat.

GoodEgg

So I’ve skipped a lot of stuff, this not blogging since February 21. This is not the way one runs a successful blog. I’d apologize, but I’m not sure anyone really felt a loss at not being able to read my ramblings. My last post was just after retrieval, and I discussed in detail how my clumsiness led to many of boys dying a nondescript death on the carpet of the sample production room. I couldn’t write after the transfer, I couldn’t write during the 9 day wait…and after we got the BFN….it was a true body blow. IVF #3 was our last fresh cycle on our shared risk program, and we only froze one embryo (the only we’d ever gotten to freeze) during this last cycle. It seemed as if IVF was not going to work for us.

So we went off the Twitter/Blog grid. We tried to not make IF the center of our lives. I’m not really sure we succeeded, but we stopped tweeting and blogging under our pseudonyms and just were ourselves. We got a new dog, Molly (by the way – I can’t believe we won the dog jackpot twice. She is an unbelievably great dog, a 2 year old puggle). We went to the Midwest RESOLVE Conference in Minneapolis, a day of discussion around different ways to build a family. We wanted to learn a bit about the options….but we really weren’t ready to put a lot of thought, time and effort into those options yet. We knew that, because of our shared risk program, we pretty much had to go through with the FET cycle, with our one egg. HopeToBeMommy became accustomed to calling it GoodEgg. We froze just the one against the wishes of our doctor, who felt our odds wouldn’t be high enough with just one Level 2 blastocyst in an FET. We had agreed in the previous two cycles in similar situations, but for some reason in this last fresh cycle, we balked and decided we would freeze it. Maybe because we wanted a backup plan…but HopeToBeMommy started saying on that day that we froze it because it was “a good egg”. She said she had a feeling about it.

So, despite not being totally into it, we started prepping for our frozen cycle back in April. In May we started the FET protocol. We felt this was easier….we still had the Lupron shots and other meds, but she didn’t have to grow anything. We liked that.

Then it was transfer day…and we were terrified. We were told ahead of time that a significant number of embroys don’t thaw out right and die, but we wouldn’t know until the morning of transfer. We simply prayed for the opportunity to try one more time. We left for the clinic, me nervous and HopeToBeMommy drugged up and artificially relaxed…and we arrived to hear we would be transferring GoodEgg. I cried a couple silent, thankful tears and got HTBM ready for transfer.

Things were different this time. Our normal doctors, who routinely had no idea who we were (and didn’t seem to want to know either) weren’t there on this day. Instead, for the first time throughout the process, we met Dr. Colleen Casey. She was, without a doubt, the most friendly and engaged doctor we have encountered throughout this whole process, across any clinic we have been at. She had the least trouble navigating through my most favorite curved uterus in the entire world. Our nurse hung with us quite a bit while HTBM laid down for 30 minutes under her Bair Hugger blanket (probably her favorite thing in the world, a blanket with forced warm air being constantly run through it). She was so nice and so friendly, and as we were getting ready to leave she said “I don’t remember everyone who goes through this, and I don’t always get to find out the end result for couples, but I’m going to remember you two. I hope I can find out if this works for you.” It was so nice to hear, and it was the first time that we felt we had a nurse and a doctor who truly cared about our success.

And so we waited. HTBM was feeling some nausea at times, but we had no idea if it was pregnancy or nightly shots of progesterone in the butt (by the way, I’m really, really good at giving my wife a shot in the ass now – I consider it a skill of mine). Then last Saturday night, I was doing some work for my day job and ended up working until 1:45 AM to finish it. I figured I could sleep in on Sunday, and her blood test was scheduled for Monday. I fell asleep quickly.

The next thing I am aware of, I hear rapid footsteps and my dog’s collar in my bedroom. I slowly roll over to find my wife with a gift bag in hand. She says “Molly and I have a father’s day gift for you.” I think to myself ¬†sarcastically ‘Sure, I’m on 5 hours of sleep here, why shouldn’t this wait?’ I indulge my wife by reaching into the bag and finding a small item inside tissue paper. I feel it for a couple seconds and have no idea what my gift is. I unwrap the tissue paper to find a home pregnancy test stick. At this point I furrow my brow and inform HTBM that I didn’t have my glasses on and it was dark, I couldn’t read it. Which is funny, because if I wasn’t half asleep, I’d realize that no woman going through a 4th IVF would give her husband a negative pee stick for Father’s Day. But in my state, it took until the light was on and when I saw a ‘YES’ for me to fully realize what had happened. Pure glee.

We got it confirmed with a 206 hCG on Monday and now a 463 today. What was supposed to not happen, happened. We were told to not freeze this embryo, this GoodEgg. We, and mainly my wife, went with our guts. We stopped listening to the medical experts, and listened to ourselves. We believed them through IUI, where we were “very good candidates” for pregnancy. And went through it 9 times because we were told not to give up.

We were told we had a 50-60% chance for the first 3 cycles of IVF. They didn’t work. And we were told not to freeze that GoodEgg, that we’d only have a 20% shot. But that’s the one that worked.

We don’t need to do more Betas. We are on our way to the ultrasound on July 5 or 6, provided everything goes okay. And my wife says it will. She says she feels more pregnant now than she ever did last time. She knows her body ten million times better than I know mine. When she knows it’s for real this time, then I believe it. We’re making it to that ultrasound. And then we’ll keep on making it after that.

I’ve never been more thrilled to go several weeks without sex. I’m excited to keep giving my wife daily shots in the ass. This is all abnormal and weird, but this is what we have. And on Father’s Day, for a brief moment, we weren’t the IVF couple. We were…normal. A wife surprising her unsuspecting husband with a positive pregnancy test. An everyday¬†occurrence¬†was never more beautiful and special.