Pregnancy #3, Final Update: Rainbow Babies Have Arrived!

I’m way behind here – about 3 weeks to be exact- but our long-awaited, miracle rainbow babies are here.  Sleeping in their swings, in fact, as I type.

On April 2nd, at 1:57pm,  Michael Robert (6 lbs, 4 oz) and James Anthony (5 lbs, 12 oz) entered the world and our lives, and I feel quite certain our lives have changed forever for the better.

We are incredibly grateful to God. We know we owe these babies to His grace to us, grace we certainly don’t deserve.  But still, we are so so, thankful.  From the minute I heard them cry and laid eyes on them, I was smitten.  I still hold them and look at them and rock them and can scarcely believe they are here. Three weeks later, I still cry when  I look at them.  These perfect little faces. The other side of infertility.

Thank you, Jesus.image

Eventually, I will get back to blogging and I’ll tell the stories, but for now, here’s a glimpse of our miracles:

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Pregnancy #3, Update #6: Final Lap – 3rd Trimester

It’s unbelievable that I can even type those words:  Third. Trimester.

But it’s here. A day away from 31weeks. Only 6 weeks to go.

What a miracle. And, now, it’s getting real.

My blog updates have been scarce, but thankfully, there hasn’t been a lot to report.  I’ve been seeing the doctor every two weeks, sonogram and all, and every appointment has shown Baby A and Baby B to be growing on schedule.  Heartbeats have been great – usually between 140-150 for each. They are smack in the middle of the growth chart, last time moving up to the 59th percentile (compared to singletons!).  Last visit, at 30 weeks, they both weighed in at 3.7 lbs – the high end of the norm, according to ‘The Bump.’  Most times, their weights and heartbeats have been nearly identical – most recently, only a 1% differential (under 20% is considered normal).  Amniotic fluid has been perfect – no sign of twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome.  Cervix has been long and closed the entire time.

The sono-tech told me, for mono-di twins, ‘everything looks perfect.’ Good movement, breathing, heartbeats, weight…perfect.

A sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks after every single appointment. Every single one has given a good – no, a great- report about our babies.  It never fails to fill me with awe, considering so many risk factors, considering so many possible complications.

As I’ve gotten good report after good report, after holding my breath for months, I’m slowing exhaling – slowly – and believing that this is really going to happen.

I have been really cherishing every part of this pregnancy. I don’t take one second of it for granted. I have the typical pregnancy annoyances – leg cramps when I sleep, shortness of breath, pressure below the belly and on the top, crazy nose bleeds almost daily, waking up every few hours because I can’t get comfortable or I have to go to the bathroom…but I am grateful for it all. You’ll hear no complaints from me. All those things mean is that I’m actually pregnant with a healthy pregnancy.

My favorite part is the end of the day. After work, after dinner, I just lay on the couch and wait for them to move.  Best. Feeling. Ever. It’s sometimes hard to know who I am feeling – there are arms and legs everywhere, but I just love feeling them kick and wiggle and bounce around.  I seriously could lay there all day just feeling them move. Sometimes they tickle me, sometimes I see them moving and squiggling…but every time it reminds me my babies are doing good.

Babies are good – I’m the one who is having complications.  Still on daily Lovenox injections.  I failed my glucose tolerance test twice (Grrrr!) and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  Apparently, t’s pretty common in  multiple pregnancies. Being a mild case, my doctor thought we could manage it with diet and exercise and doing the 4x a day finger-prick blood test.  Well, after a week or two of testing, my numbers weren’t crazy high, but they were a little higher than they liked, especially my waking/fasting numbers.  So, they started me on Metformin with my dinner to try to bring those numbers down.Basically, I just need to eat more protein with my carbs, and if I walk for about 15 minutes after a meal, that seems to do the trick.  Not the end of the end of the world.

The plan for the last weeks is this:  At week 32, my appointments will become weekly.  Between 32-34 weeks, the babies will likely settle into their positions, and we can start to think about a birth plan. Babies will be delivered between 36-37 weeks. Right now, Baby A is in position – lower than B, head down.  Baby B is transverse, with his/her head on the far side of my stomach.  The doctor said that as long as A is in position, I can try naturally, and they can try to turn B, either internally or externally, after A comes out. However, there’s a chance B might still be breech, which would require an emergency C-section.

I’ll be honest.  That plan doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to end up in the scenario where I have to recover from a natural delivery AND a C-section. I just want these babies out in a way that has the least risk possible.  If they leave it up to me, I’m going for a C-section unless they can assure me with some high odds that I will be able to deliver both naturally.

Last week, we went checked out the labor and delivery unit at the hospital.  (Yikes!  Definitely made it all more real!). The hospital has one of the best NICU departments on the island, should we need it.  Each room is a private room, so that is definitely a plus. I feel so much better now that I can visualize where I’ll be.

Last Saturday, I had a shower given to me by the ladies at my church.  It was the sweetest ever, and those ladies made us feel so loved and supported.  On Friday, I had a work shower.   All the teachers were waiting at the door when I came in with balloons to surprise me.  We had a dress-down day (K-12), and they got all the kids to wear pink or blue in honor the shower!  They had food throughout the day that started with ‘A’ or ‘B.’ Completely amazing and so over-the-top. This Saturday is the shower from my family.  We have been totally overwhelmed by all the love and excitement for our babies. So humbling to know that our babies are so anticipated and loved already.

I have about 3 more weeks at school and praying I can make it to March 16. I am really big and cumbersome, and I admit, sometimes, I feel a bit like a spectacle with the kids. For the most part, they have been enthusiastic and interested, but I feel a little self-conscious sometimes.  However, I am getting tired.  My doctor keeps telling me not to push myself, but I sort of wish she would just give me orders to stop working. I think I’ll know when I’m done, though; right now, I have a little more left in me (not losing any pay is also a good motivator).

We are still working on the babies’ room.  Lots still to do . My husband hurt his back shoveling snow, so that has slowed us down. But my parents got here over the weekend, his parents are coming from TN for the shower, and we have some other friends on stand-by to help. So, hopefully, we will get it together in time.  Honestly, I don’t want this to stress me.  As J. says, babies have been born for millennia without showers or nurseries, and the human race has survived just fine.  While I roll my eyes, I know he is right.  I want my focus just to be on the joy of these 2 little ones making their entrance, and I don’t want anything to rob me of that joy.

Just to give you a visual, this is me at 30 weeks:

30 weeks

30 weeks

Six more weeks of growing to go. They are supposed to add a 1/2 lb. a week…not sure where all that baby is going to fit! But we are on the home stretch. And I just can’t wait to meet these babies.

Pregnancy #3, Update #5: Halfway There

This is a long, overdue update.

First, all is well.

Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out to me while I was absent.  That I was still even in your thoughts, prayers, and ‘wonderings’ means so much to me.  The silence wasn’t intentional – just super-busy at work, behind on projects that needed (and still needs) to get done.  Being a perfectionist, I’m always waiting for the right time to post (the right ‘milestone’ weeks, the right pictures) – and that being said, that time never comes.

So, I still have midterms I needed to finish writing, work to be graded, and editing that needs to me made on a class book from last year…but I have a little bit of extra energy, my husband is asleep on the couch before his night shift, and I feel a bit of motivation – so here goes, summing up the past 2 months as succinctly as I can.

The last post I wrote was when I announced we were having twins, at about 13 weeks.  Currently, I am 21 weeks (and 3 days), and it has been wonderfully uneventful.  Babies A, B and I are all doing well.  No complications thus far, no concerns…all is well.

Shortly after my last post, my OB (well, all of the doctors at the practice) decided to transfer me to the high risk doctors for the duration of the pregnancy.  The main reasons for this are #1, my age, and #2 – the type of twins I’m having.  For anyone interested, I’m having ‘monochorionic, diamniotic’ twins – ‘mono-di’ for short.  The simple explanation is that they are identical, have separate amniotic sacs but they share one gestational sac as well as a placenta.  With this kind of pregnancy, the risk for complications is higher, especially that placenta would not feed them equally and that they wouldn’t grow equally (also known as ‘twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome’ or TTTS).

Basically, what this means is that I go to the doctor every 2 weeks for a sonogram where they check the heartbeats, the amniotic fluid, and my cervix; every 4 weeks, they compile a new set of measurements to make sure the twins are growing properly.  To be honest, it’s very reassuring to go every 2 weeks.  The doctors keeps apologizing, like it is an inconvenience to me, but I actually prefer it.

And so far, all has been well.  I had my big 20 week anatomy scan, and everything looked great. No sign of TTTS. Their heartbeats were both 157.  According to ‘The Bump,’ they should be about 10.5 oz.  Baby A was 12 oz. and Baby B was 11 oz.  They did all the measurements, and there was only an 8% differential (anything over 20% is concerning, so they were well below that).  They were wiggling around like crazy but ‘very well-behaved,’ according to the doctor; they were actually able to get all the measurements they needed not just from one but both.

The past two times sonograms, Baby B had his/her butt in Baby A’s face. This has convinced my husband that we are having boys.  However, my sister said, “Maybe Baby B was saying to Baby A,  ‘Does my butt look big?'” – therefore concluding that we are having girls.  Regardless, I have a feeling I know who Baby B will take after…

Speaking of gender, we are waiting to find out.  The doctors were able to tell last week what we are having, but we didn’t want to know.  So, we’re holding out.

I haven’t felt them moving yet…just a few flutters this week, but nothing too significant.  The doctor told me that usually between 21-22 weeks, so I am hoping to really feel them any day.

My belly is definitely getting big (I’ll post pics on my next update).  I have a very good friend who is 32 weeks pregnant, and I am definitely catching up; there isn’t much of a difference between us at all.  I’ve gained 17 pounds so far, and right now, it is mostly all belly, thank God.  But I have a long ways to go, still. Another friend sent me a picture of her mom pregnant with twins at 37 weeks.  Sweet Jesus.  I’m definitely going to get A LOT bigger.

I’m still feeling pretty good at work.  If all goes well, my last day will be March 27, which is 36 weeks.  The doctors said that they won’t let me go past 37 weeks, so, if I can go until then, my due-date is April 2 (but I’m praying for Easter babies).  Thankfully, I have enough sick time to get paid through the end of the school year.

That’s most of the physical stuff.  As for the emotional side? Well, it’s been a really happy time. It’s such a switch to have happy doctor visits and laughter as we are looking at the sonograms. My coworkers and students  and everyone else have all been so excited for us which has multiplied my happiness, too.

It’s been really happy for me and J. too. I guess I didn’t realize what a toll infertility and TTC had taken on us.  Sure, we have our bickerings and our concerns about finances and space once the babies come,  but life has been so much more relaxed and enjoyable for us, with this incredible blessing to look forward to.  Sometimes, it feels like we are in a honey-moon stage all over again.  And it is so refreshing. Like we can breathe again and this burden is lifted off of our shoulders.  It’s been a very happy 20 weeks for us.

Spiritually, I’m still doing my best to fight my fears. I certainly have them, but I’ve been trying really hard to not feed them.  I can tell that, sometimes, my prayers are laced with more fear than faith. Sometimes, I feel like I subconsciously keep God at arm’s length because I’m not sure what He may allow me to walk through or what will happen.  But I am trying to overcome that, too – because underneath that fear, I really do know that He wants me to celebrate this miracle WITH Him. It’s His miracle. I’ve had to be very conscious to stay away from anything that might feed my fears – from books to articles to TV shows – and to fill my mind with lots of faith-filled Scriptures, devotionals, music, etc. And it’s been helping.  I feel like I am starting to experience this pregnancy with hope and anticipation rather than the fear of what could go wrong.

So, we are halfway there. More than that, actually – about 15 weeks to go.  We haven’t done anything concrete to get ready – like registering or the nursery or buying things. I’d say that after the holidays, we’ll put that into motion.

It still feels surreal.  Sometimes, I look down at my belly and it is hard to believe that I’m legit pregnant.  And when I’m praying for the babies – usually on my way to work-  it’s just about daily that I am brought to tears over God’s graciousness to us. I still wonder about that. I know so many  have been persevering so long, waiting so long, have been through so much heart-ache.  Why did God choose now to answer our prayers? Why us?  I don’t know. We are no better and no more deserving than anyone else.  It’s hard for me to try to understand. But I am completely humbled by what God has done for us. Undone. I don’t know why He did this for us, but I am brought to tears every time I try to absorb this reality.

I can clearly remember last December. I had just had miscarriage #2 – my 2nd within a year’s time  – and I was so worn-out and broken over this whole infertility trial.  I remember just wanting to forget TTC and just feel like a normal human, trying to enjoy the holidays. But even then, God gave me the word ‘hope’ to hold on to.

A year later – 5 months pregnant.  Today, I decorated the tree, and I saw the snowflake birthstone ornaments for Baby #1 and #2.  It brought back all kinds of memories, and I felt a pang of sadness for my 2 babies that I never got to meet. As happy as I am to have A and B growing inside me, I never want to forget #1 and #2. But I admit, sometimes remembering is really painful and – right or wrong- I sometimes choose not to go there. Or at least not stay there. But right behind those ornaments was the ornament my secret Santa got me last year – an angel and star with the word ‘hope’ on it.

This year, our hope is becoming reality. And for anyone who is still waiting, especially my girls waiting for their babies, that is my constant prayer for you: that you don’t lose hope,  that God will make your hope become reality. Soon.

I really pray that Christmas reminds you of that. That Christmas gives you hope.

Really, that is the heart of Christmas: God made Hope reality. That’s what He did. That’s what He still does.

Pregnancy #3, Update #4: Game-Changer

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It’s been about 4 weeks since I published my last pregnancy update. And the silence was intentional.

It’s not that I didn’t want to blog about it. I did. But, I was finding that my real-life and my blog were bleeding together, and there was some material I wanted to share with my blog-people but not necessarily with my real-life people – mostly, my work environment. So, I had to go dark for a while.

All this, the down-side of being a non-anonymous blogger.

However, it was about a month ago that we got some news that has changed everything.

I wrote about my 8 week appointment here. All the details there were true. But I sort left out the middle part of the story.

Here it is:

So, J. and I were in for our appointment, me – a nervous wreck as always. The sono tech (the girl I usually have – she hadn’t been there the week before) gets things going and a few seconds in, she suddenly stops. She turns to me, puts her hands on my knees, and says, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this.’

My heart and breathing stopped simultaneously. Please, God. Not this again.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” she began again, “but you’ve got two babies in there. Twins.”

My eyes got as big as marbles. What? Twins? How in the world….? Only one embryo took.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Here’s one….and here’s the other. They are in the same gestational sac, so they are identical – two boys or two girls. I don’t know how I missed this last week!”

“Wait! You didn’t miss this. Last week we had the other girl, not you!”

“Well. That explains it. But you are definitely having twins. And both of them look great.”

J. and I just started to laugh – and we couldn’t stop. Complete disbelief. Totally unexpected. What in the world. Twins? It was too much. One was miraculous enough – but two? We were shell-shocked. Stunned. We were having twins. Identical twins.

And those details I gave in my last update? Totally true. But that was just for Baby A. Baby B was right on par with heartbeats and measurements, too.

So how did they miss it? Well, our first sono showed just one gestational sac. Only one embryo took. So, at the next sono, they were only looking for one fetus, one heartbeat. Once the sono tech found it, she didn’t look around for anything else. And missed Baby B.

That was five weeks ago. Tomorrow I will be 13 weeks, and every appointment has been great. Heartbeats beautiful, size beautiful. Both doing great. What a totally different experience to go to doctor’s appointments and sonograms and actually smile and laugh and enjoy them. I have been savoring every single positive experience and realizing how lucky I am to get this chance.

Around the time of my last post, I had some random people at school either say something to me or say something to someone who then told me – about me being pregnant. I just didn’t want the news about the twins to get out ahead of me, so I had to keep silent on here. Today, I told my co-workers, I told my students, and Facebook will be updated tonight -so now it is pretty much public knowledge. A scary step of faith to bring this out in the open. But honestly? I am starting to show, and I really couldn’t hide it any longer. People were definitely talking.

It’s been a roller-coaster month. Definitely felt nauseated a lot – usually the afternoons and at night. Definitely tired. Definitely stressful having to hide it – to have all this going on, having my belly starting to grow, not having any clothes that fit – and having to keep this secret all the while. But I promise I’m not complaining. I will take this any day of the week compared to the past 3 years.

I have definitely had my meltdown moments. Around week 10, the night before my sono (the meltdowns usually begin 24-hours in advance), I was convinced I was going to get bad news. The flashbacks of this time last year, crying my eyes in chapel out during our school’s Spiritual Emphasis Week because I was miscarrying. Again. The flashbacks of the last time I was in my OB’s office on the sono table, being told there was no heartbeat. I was just convinced this one was going to end badly, too.

But it hasn’t. And my heart lets out the hugest sigh of relief every time I hear the precious swishing of the heartbeat. HeartbeatS – both of them.

I’ve had to meet with the high-risk doctor a few times so they could scare me to death about everything that could go wrong – and I found out today they are transferring me to the high risk doctors for the duration. Initially, there was disagreement over whether I had one or two placentas, so I was back and forth between the two doctors. They finally got it figured out. (I have 1, by the way – I’m considered ‘mono-di’ pregnancy – one gestational sac, 2 amniotic sacs).

It’s all a totally surreal experience. I’m still nervous and scared, but with every milestone and every positive appointment, it is starting to feel real. Still haven’t full-on accepted this is really happening; I can’t pretend I’m naive to the ‘what-ifs’ – regardless of the stage and milestone. But thus far, God has been so, so gracious to us. He truly is the only One who could have done this. He gets 100% of the credit.

The only downside is that I know that so many of my IF girls are still in the fight and still suffering. My heart aches for those who have yet to experience a good pregnancy, and I am praying every day that your day comes. So very soon.

The day after I told my parents the news, there was a double rainbow outside of my mom’s home. She sent me the picture and said that was my double-blessing – our double rainbow babies. She said,’ Kate, you lost 2 babies, but God is giving you back two.’ And that weekend, another blogger friend- Faithrises- posted this picture.

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A prisoner of hope. I know what that feels like. Being held prisoner because you can’t give up or let go. You become a prisoner of, chained to – hope. There are worse prisons to be in.

Hope. That was the word God gave me for this year. My dear friends, don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. God is still a God who returns double. I’m proof. Baby A and Baby B – they are proof. Hold on to hope. xoxo

[Photo Credit: Faithrises (I can’t find the link to her blog! So sorry! Please help and I’ll give proper credit!]

(OH MY GOSH!!! WE’RE HAVING TWINS!!!!! GAHHHHHH!!!)

Pregnancy #3, Update #3: Graduated

imageIt’s the day every IF patient prays for: getting discharged from her RE’s office back to her OB. Because she is pregnant. Graduating.

Today, I graduated. I was in for my 9 week sono, and I knew my day was coming, but I wasn’t sure it would be today.

We had a great visit at 8 weeks. Measurement: 8w1d. Heartbeat: 151

We had another great visit today, at 9 weeks: Measurement: 9w0d. Heartbeat: 165.

And with that, I was done there. They had done their job, and it was time to hand me over to my OB.

The past two visits have been so good. So healing. There was still the nerves the night before and the heart palpitations the morning of. There was still the deep breaths on the table, waiting to see what we would find.

But this time, there was excited chatter as the sono tech explained what we were looking at. Questions not laced with fear and dread. Laughter.

Laughter. During a sonogram. Imagine that. Something I’ve never experienced.

I never had an 8 week sonogram without getting ominous, hopeless news. I never had a 9 week sonogram with a baby that survived.

This time, I did. Not just ‘surviving,’ but ‘doing great.’ ‘Strong.’ (Their words). The wiggling of the hands and feet buds.

Never had that. But today, I did.

A year ago, I had just found out I was pregnant with number #2. Right around my mom’s birthday. That was my gift to her – news of grandbaby #9. But within weeks, it was over.

This year, I’m 9 weeks along with a healthy pregnancy.

I still have my worries and fears, but with each positive sonogram, I am breathing a little easier.

I’m feeling pretty nauseated on most days. It comes on at 3pm and 8pm like clockwork. I have it through most of the night, so sleep isn’t so great lately (guess I should get used to that. For the rest of my life, lol). I don’t really have a lot of symptoms otherwise: boobs occasionally sore, but not much; fatigued at times but not consistently; crazy dreams – but that is really it.

Work is definitely exhausting for me right now (a big reason why I haven’t been blogging. So much take-home work, so worn out by the time get home). The beginning of the year is always draining no matter what, but I’m teaching a new class this year as well as trying to get caught up on the summer projects I didn’t get to finish. On top of the normal stuff. All of which wearies me.

My clothes are getting tight, and my belly is pushing out. Not sure if it is bloating, hormones, leftover IVF meds or whatever, but I’m bigger. And, it’s getting harder to hide at work. It looks like I’ve been pounding down the cookies, but I hate people thinking I’m just gaining weight for no reason! We still have 3 more weeks until our news is public.

I have a feeling (and a fear) that our news is more public than I’d like. Now, I know. It’s probably my fault. I mean, I blog about it. It’s out there. But, I guess I just don’t want random people to know about it yet. For instance, a student in our school – one I don’t know and have never had in my classes – asked my coworker ‘how far along is Mrs. Landry?’ What????

I don’t look that pregnant – so, someone must have said something. That’s the kind of talking I don’t want. I guess I want to be the one to control who knows and who doesn’t. Frustrating. Even though it would be easier to tell, I know it’s smarter to wait until 12 weeks to share it officially.

So, what’s next? Not sure, exactly. I dropped off my records at my OB today, and hopefully, they will call me tomorrow to schedule an appointment. I’m not sure how often they will want to see me. There was something very comforting about my RE looking out for me so closely. I’ll miss that.

It was bittersweet leaving there, today. As they were getting my paperwork today, I said, ‘So I guess this is it, then?’ And it was. And, suddenly, I got all choked up. I started thinking about all we had been through, the past years of miscarriages, failed treatments, bad news, disappointments, heartaches, so many days of fear and dread, so many nights of crying myself to sleep…

And here we were. Pregnant. With a healthy pregnancy. Graduating. And I started tearing up. I felt so grateful for this team of people who had helped us so much. So grateful.

So I gave a hug to the doctor, crying. To the nurses, crying. To the sono tech, the phlebotomist, the NP, the receptionist – crying the whole time. I was sad to leave them. A little bit scared to leave them. I felt like they were all on ‘Team Landry,’ coaching us and cheering us on – an intimate part of our this whole roller-coaster, emotional experience – so invested in our failures and success. And finally – something to celebrate.

It was really hard to say goodbye to them – even though I knew that the fact that I was leaving was a really, really good thing. They had done their job. They were tools in God’s hands to help us get pregnant. Part of a miracle.

Another major milestone reached. Many more to go, but I’m going to celebrate each one.

All I can really say is – to God be the glory. It’s all Him. We still have a long road ahead, but I’m sincerely moved to tears thinking about how good He has been to us. Humbled. Thankful.

And I’m smiling. It’s graduation day.

[And for my IF sisters still in the fight, I’m praying diligently for you, for your miracles. God doesn’t have a limited supply. I’m still following your stories, and I’m still praying. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes, even though you are still struggling through yourselves. I’m sincerely touched, and I’m believing God for your babies.]

[Photo Credit: Pixabay]

Pregnancy #3, Update #2: Another Victory

isaiah 66Oh my goodness, I do not take one of these victories for granted. Not one.

I had my 2nd sonogram on Tuesday, where I was 6w5d. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that this is the sonogram where I’ve always gotten bad news.

Finally, something different.

I usually can stay pretty calm in between appointments, but this one? I started the countdown a few days out…”Only 96 more hours….only 72 more hours….only 48 more hours…” until it was the night before, less than 12 hours.

I managed to fall asleep early that night, but my husband came to bed late after watching college football. Well, as he went into dreamworld, I came out – and never went back. So, probably from about 1 am until it was time to get up, I tossed and turned in bed all night. I just couldn’t turn off my brain. My nerves were on edge by the morning. Ugh.

We had a little stress getting to the appointment. My husband was running late, and every single minute I was delayed just heaped up more anxiety. Hadn’t I waited long enough??? Finally, I said I would go on ahead and meet him there (we already needed to take separate cars, anyway), figuring I would have to wait before being seen.

Of all days, the RE’s office was empty. I mean, EMPTY. Not one other person ahead of me. Not one other person waiting. They took me in right away. Sheepishly, I asked if there was any way we possibly could wait a few minutes to start the sonogram until my husband arrived??? Please??? Thankfully, it was no problem for them. For me? Just more agonizing minutes waiting on that table…

At that point, it was hard for me to pray. I prayed for good news. I prayed to be strong. On the drive over, all I could do was recite Psalm 23. I didn’t know what else to say. Now, I was just waiting.

Finally, my husband arrived, the sono tech came in, and things got going.

From my past sonograms, I’ve learned to not wait for them to tell you things. Sometimes, they aren’t allowed and have to wait for the doctor. Sometimes, it’s bad news. But I wasn’t having any of it. I started asking lots of questions as she was going – getting ahead of her, actually – but I didn’t care. For better or for worse, I needed to know.

With my first pregnancy, I had an enlarged yolk sac and the fetus was measuring small. Last pregnancy, there was no fetal pole at 6 weeks. So, I began asking about the yolk sac – how does it look?…the fetal pole – was it there? The right size? She confirmed that everything was right where it should be. What about the heartbeat? “I’m still getting there,” she said. (Oops. My bad). “Yes, we have a pulse.” She didn’t tell me the bpm, but on the screen, I think it said 139 (I knew I was supposed to be somewhere between 103 – 125).

Then, she put the sound on so we could hear it.

The first time we ever heard one of our babies’ hearts beating. A surreal moment. We were really listening to the heartbeat. At 6w5d.

She was wrapping things up, and I asked, ‘So everything looks good?” “So far, so good,” she said. “The doctor will go over everything with you.” That worried me for a second, but I tried not to go there.

We met with the doctor, and he confirmed that everything looked good.

Before I go into specifics, let me give a little back-story:

As I was praying the week before my appointment, I was thinking about my last 2 pregnancies…measuring small, slow heartbeat for P#1; measuring 2 weeks behind for P#2. And I said to God, “Lord, I don’t want to measure a little behind this time. I don’t even want to measure on time. I want to measure ahead. Lord, give me one day. I just want to measure one day ahead.”

So, as the doctor was giving me some of the details, he revealed that I was measuring 7w1day while, in fact, I was only 6w5d. I was measuring Three.Days.Ahead. Not one. Three.

As we left the office, I was in tears in the parking lot, trying to explain to my husband what had just happened (I hadn’t told him what I’d been praying). My heart was so overwhelmed by God’s graciousness to me in that moment. Not one day. Three. Considering my past history, that is amazing in and of itself, but I totally took it as a personal gift from God to me. It really made me feel like things might be okay.

So our day went on as usual (I’m back to teaching now), and prior to this appointment, I knew I’d be walking into the school building either in tears or rejoicing. So, so many times for me in the past 2 years, it’s been tears. Uncertain news. Bad news. Finally, finally, it was good news. Finally – rejoicing.

My next sonogram is this upcoming Thursday, where I will be 8 weeks. Again, these are all make-or-break weeks for me. Eight weeks has never been good. Always bad news. But I’m beginning to believe that maybe those days are behind us and we are on to something new. I pray that is the case. I know it’s early. I know we have lots of weeks ahead of us, but it feels so good to have some feelings of optimism and hope going forward.

The doctor is still keeping me on progesterone, estradiol, and lovenox. I’m still have nausea on a mostly-daily basis, several times throughout the day (although nothing too severe). I’ll be honest. I’m grateful for the nausea. I never felt it with any of my previous pregnancies, and I will embrace any difference and not complain, not even if I feel nauseated every single day of this pregnancy.

There definitely are times when my fears try to get the best of me, and I am fighting that with all I have. As so many of you have reminded me – fear is never from the Lord!

I am trying to force myself to take one day at a time – not to worry about tomorrow, and let tomorrow take care of itself. I am reminding myself that there will always be something to worry about – even if all goes well; the worry doesn’t stop after the baby is born. Worry is not my friend, and it needs to go, one way or the other.

I pray constantly for this baby – any moment I have a break in my thoughts – and I know that is all I can do. It is the best thing I can do.

For those of you who have prayed for me – thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t know how to adequately express how incredibly grateful I am for your prayers. And please – keep praying!

For those who know me in ‘real-life’ – we are still keeping this quiet, although more people know than I would like! I am happy to share and talk about it with those who are interested enough to follow my blog – as long as we are having a private conversation! :)

So it’s more waiting. More hoping. More trusting. I might as well get comfortable with that. It doesn’t look like that is changing anytime soon (for any of us). Always the bottom line: Wait. Hope. Trust.

[Photo Credit: Dana Arcuri]

Pregnancy #3, Update #1: One Bun in the Oven

infertility, TTC, pregnancy
I was a bundle of nerves leading up to my sonogram on Monday morning.  The rest of our vacation was great – relaxing, fun, restful – and for most of it, I had [relative] peace of mind and joy thinking about our pregnancy.  Once we got home and Monday morning loomed closer, the knot inside my stomach made its presence known in a more pronounced way.

I went to this sonogram alone; J wasn’t able to take off any more time after being away for two weeks.  I toyed with the idea of asking a friend to come with me, but in the end, I decided to go solo.  I had a fair degree of nerves and nervousness, but as the appointment came closer, I kept reminding myself of God in this big picture. I wasn’t alone in this. He would be with me and give me what I needed, whatever news I received.

I was waiting on the table I knew so well, praying, taking deep breaths. As I was laying there, I heard Zac Brown come over the PA system.  My husband loves Zac Brown, and I was hoping that was a good sign.

Both the sono tech and the NP were there for the sonogram.  Immediately, she found the first sac.  The only sac.  One of our embryos held on, measuring right on schedule, in just the right place. Five weeks, four days. Cue huge sigh of relief.  My face must have been blank because the NP asked me if I was disappointed.  Disappointed? No. Just relieved. So, so relieved.

The sono tech relayed a few measurements to the NP, who wrote it all down, most of which was meaningless to me.  There was some fluid in my ovaries, but they didn’t seem concerned.

It was a pretty uneventful meeting (trust me, I’m not complaining).  Basically, she told me that everything checked out for the day’s visit,  confirmed my meds – progesterone, estradiol, and lovenox – and told me to get in touch with my OB to tell them I’d be discharged to them in a few weeks.  That was it. My next sonogram is next Tuesday.

As soon as I got outside, I sent J. an email at work and let him know the good news.  Obviously, he was excited but still a little sad that we lost one along the way.  This saddens me too, but I am just so grateful for one. One made  it.

So, since then, I’ve had some increasing symptoms – a little tugging, pressure and intermittent pangs in my abdomen, slightly sore boobs, and some nausea, especially at night when I’m trying to sleep.  I’m also back to work this week, so that really is a blessing in disguise.  Keeps me distracted and my mind busy.

My emotions fluctuate between the ‘what-ifs’ and fighting fear that tries to force its way in – and letting go and having faith.  Worrying, wondering, even trying to figure out what is going on with my body won’t change what will happen.  Right now, I am still choosing to believe the best about this pregnancy, that this one is going to make it.

I know each milestone is an opportunity for worry if I let it, but next week is a big milestone for me personally.  When I have my next sonogram, I will be 6 weeks, 5 days.  With both of my previous pregnancies, the 6-7 week sonogram was the one where things went south. I’ve never gotten passed that point with good news on my side.  Logic (and faith) tells me that there is nothing that says this one is going to end the same way the other ones have. Yet, that fear is always trying to work its way in.  Like I said on my last post, I have lots of reasons to believe this one is different. And I’m going to believe that, until we know for certain that it’s not.

I’m constantly reminded to put my hope in The Lord.  Hope – a confident, expected end.  I’m seeing in a very real, practical way, that I need to do this on a daily, even hourly, basis. My hope is in God. He is in total and perfect control of this situation.   He has me and this baby in the palm of His hand.

One of my best friends from college recently went through a double mastectomy for breast cancer, around the same time as my IVF.  We were texting back and forth frequently, and she shared this verse with me: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs with no fear of the future” (Prov. 31:25).   Her courage and faith has really been an inspiration to me, and I want that verse to characterize my approach through every step of this pregnancy.

Strength. Dignity. No fear of the future.  It’s a tall order for me, but I want to handle whatever comes with faith and grace. I don’t want to be freaking out with every visit, over-analyzing everything I feel (or don’t feel) going on in my body, living with a constant cloud of anxiety over my head from appointment to appointment.  I want to be in peaceful trust.  Honestly, that feels like an impossibility for me, with my natural tendencies.  But just as I am believing God for a successful pregnancy, I am equally believing God to give me grace to walk through this with peace and trust and faith.

With strength. Dignity. No fear of the future.

[Photo Credit: Pinterest]

 

IVF Update #5 – Not “Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise”

imageNope – not ‘pregnant until proven otherwise.’ Now, I’m ‘just pregnant.’

It worked. Up to this point, our IVF was a success. I’m officially pregnant.

We got the news last Thursday. As I mentioned, we are on vacation, and we knew that we would get the results while away. This was definitely a blessing. We had J’s parents with us in the High Country in North Carolina, and there was definitely enough to keep me distracted. I did pretty well not symptom-spotting (I knew my body was all jacked up from meds anyway), but I was a little concerned about any kind of activity: “Am I exerting myself too much on this hike? Am I sweating too much? Is the gravel on the bike trail jostling me too much?” I tried to eat all of the good fertility foods like dark greens, pineapple, avocado, peanut-butter, oatmeal, and Brazilian nuts (which I couldn’t find anywhere, but ended up finding them in a spinning rack of snacks in no-name town gas station food mart. Go figure.)

My nerves really started kicking in on Wednesday night, knowing that the next day, the verdict would be in.

I tossed and turned most of the night, and once I did finally doze off, J. woke me up with a kiss: “OK. Time to get up now. Big day today.”

The process was fairly easy; we opted to go to the outpatient lab at Ashe Memorial Hospital, as they could deliver same-day results for the beta test; the hormone tests would take longer, but that was okay; my doctor was keeping me on progesterone and estradiol as a precaution until I got home.

The lab tech told me that she couldn’t call me with the results, but they would fax them immediately to my doctor, who would call me. I was good with that; good or bad news, I would rather hear it from them.

After we left, J. asked me if I wanted to take a home-pregnancy test – just so I wouldn’t be tortured wouldn’t torture him all day. I opted not to- too much fuzziness for false positives or negatives – and really, I just wanted to get the news from the doctor.

In the meantime, I was trying to steel-up and get myself in a strong state-of-mind, whatever the news. I reminded myself of the last few blog-posts I wrote, about trials making faith stronger, not weaker. About how the ones who hope in the Lord get stronger, mounting up above troubles with wings like eagles. I knew if I got bad news, it would be hard. Disappointing. Sad. But I really wanted to purpose to be strong, whatever happened.

Strong like an eagle. An eagle rises above the storm. A person whose hope is in the Lord can be strong in a storm and rise higher.

Well, I didn’t have wait too long. By about noon, as I was sitting out on the porch, the phone rang. I didn’t even have time to contemplate whether I should let it go to voice-mail or answer. Instinctively, I picked up.

“Hi Katherine, we have your results….”

Silence.

“Okaaaaaay?”

“It’s positive! Congratulations!”

The nurse went on to tell me that my number was 182; they were looking for anything above a 5, so that was good! (This was Day 14 after egg-retrieval, the equivalent of Day 28 of a regular cycle). They wanted another blood test in 2 days, which was fine, since I had the script for that anyway. Again, she congratulated me, told me to start my Lovenox injections, and I would check in after the next test.

J. was listening to the whole conversation, so he knew the good news. Immediately, he hugged me, and we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. As this was happening, we saw an eagle drop down and fly over the river that was across the street from us. I knew God was present.

My second blood test was Saturday. By this time, we were in Tennessee with J’s parents, and I had to go to a different hospital. This didn’t go as smoothly. First, there was poor old Betty, who got stuck on the computer in a patient chart with the same name and couldn’t get out. We would have been waiting a long time for either, A. – Betty to figure it out (wasn’t happening), or B. – for the Help Desk to answer her plea. As nothing moves quickly in the South and my NY impatience was beginning to get the better of me, dear, sweet, competent Shelly came to the rescue and took care of us.

Then we had a second issue. The diagnosis on my script was coming up invalid, and they couldn’t do the bloodwork without it. You’re kidding, right? Not to be put off or discouraged, I asked if she could call my doctor, and yes, she could if they were open. Thankfully, I knew they were, and the rest was taken care of pretty quickly, and I was out of there, blood drawn and all, in about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, we were leaving J’s parents and heading to Gatlinburg for week #2 of our vacation. I called my doctor’s office around 1 p.m. to see if they had gotten results. They hadn’t. They were closing around 2:30, and if they got the results before then, they would call.

I was going to just let it go, but J. urged me to call the hospital to follow-up. Well, good thing I did. The lab tech tried to tell me they couldn’t fax the results to my doctor, and I would have to go through medical records. I knew that couldn’t be right. I explained my situation, that my script was from NY and that the doctor wrote the fax number on it specifically to get the results ASAP.

Turns out, at this hospital, the blood was drawn in the ER and then sent down to the lab. The lab didn’t have my actual script with the fax #; all they had was the lab order in the computer. Once the lab tech confirmed what I told her, she faxed the results right away.

At 2:27, just minutes before the office closed and while J. was in Food City, they called. Beta number had gone up to 468. According to my research, levels are supposed to double every 48 hours, and mine doubled in 1.5 days, so I was in good shape. The next agenda-item to come is a sonogram when I get home. I figure I will be between 5 -6 weeks by then.

So. First. Huge sigh of relief. I know we have such a long way to go, but I am going to celebrate each hurdle we cross. At least one of our embryos stuck. Victory #1.

My beta levels were moving in the right direction. Victory #2. I have to be grateful along the way, no matter what happens.

I am also grateful that we can spend the rest of our vacation with relative peace-of-mind and optimism, instead of needing to console ourselves over another loss.

As for how I’m feeling? Physically, I’m good. I’m trying not to symptom-spot too much. I feel a little tightness and twingy cramps, which I know from my last pregnancies – all normal. I actually felt nauseated 2 night ago and again this morning (not sure if this morning was because I took my vitamins on an empty stomach, though).

As for how I’m feeling emotionally, I am definitely glad I am away and out of my regular environment. Lots of distractions. Of course, fear is always looming at the door, but I am choosing not to acknowledge it. I feel more optimistic about this than my other pregnancies, and I feel this is different in a few ways:

*With my past 2, I spotted with implantation bleeding. I know that is normal and nothing to worry about, but I lost both of those. I didn’t spot with this one.

*I didn’t get BFPs on my home-pregnancy tests until after my period was due – anywhere from 4-6 days later. To me, that says I implanted late. This time, from what I can tell, likely I implanted earlier.

*I’m not sure why I miscarried the last two times – whether it was from my blood issue or if the embryos were abnormal or something else. If it was from my blood issue, I’ve been on baby aspirin for a while and now I’m on Lovenox — so that addresses that. If it was due to an embryo issue, while I know that there are no guarantees with the ones that were transferred, I feel like the best sperm and the best eggs were chosen, and the best embryos were transferred and placed in the ideal location of the uterus. All of those increase our odds, in my opinion.

At this point, if I’m worrying, I’m just borrowing it. To my knowledge, at this very early stage, there is nothing concrete to worry about, only ‘what-ifs.’ And, I am refusing to go there. There will be plenty of time for that if the time comes. I will definitely be holding my breath at my sonogram next week (out of all my pregnancy sonograms, from both pregnancies, every single one except the 5-week sonogram for pregnancy #2 was bad news and more bad news.) I might really need to draw on that eagle-strength in the days to come, but for today, we are pregnant.

We have a long road to go still, very true. But today, things are as good as we could have prayed for, and we are enjoying the happiness of it. It’s been a long, long time since we have felt joy about anything fertility/pregnancy related. Even if it is short-lived, we have this week to enjoy it and dream a little.

So, until then, we’ll have fun knowing that we are back at our honeymoon spot, but this time, pregnant. We’ll have fun wondering if there are twins in there. We’ll have fun imagining that this pregnancy might really be it.

And, Lord-willing, it will be.

(PS – Real-life friends: Shhhhh!!! ;) )

[Photo Credit: Public Domain Images]

IVF Update #4 – “Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise”

Babies' First Photo Shoot (Disclaimer - Picture might be upside-down)

Babies’ First Photo Shoot (Disclaimer – Picture might be upside-down)

It’s official. ‘Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise’ (or, affectionately known by the IF community as that annoying adorable little acronym ‘PUPO’).

So, I didn’t go in Sunday for a Day 3 transfer. I had a minor freak-out Sunday morning because they hadn’t called to tell me if I needed to come in. We live an hour away, and we were at that point where, if we were going to get there on time, we needed to leave right then. And, my husband’s work schedule that day was pending this appointment.

I tried calling every number I could find, but everything was closed because it was Sunday. I finally broke down and called the emergency number, like a typical, neurotic IVF patient, and the answering service finally tracked someone down.  Nope, I wasn’t going in. They decided to do a Day 5 Blastocyst transfer.

Well, Day 5 was yesterday, and we are over another hurdle. (Sigh of relief.)

My transfer was at 11:15 a.m., and it turned out my doctor wasn’t going to do the procedure. He left me a message that morning informing me (and reassuring me) that I was in the best hands. Instead, I had an older gentleman doctor with a German accent. I was good with that; Germans are very precise.

So, before the procedure, we sat down to talk, and he told me that we had 2 gorgeous embryos to transfer.

“So, the embryos are good???” I said.

“No. Not good,” he said in his German accent. “Gorgeous.”

He then pulled out the first pics of our ‘babies’ and explained why they were such great embryos. They started to ‘hatch’ (yeah, not sure what that means. He kinda lost me), but apparently, that is a great thing. J. and I were a little concerned, though, because the original plan was to transfer 3. The German doctor was good and immediately got our doctor on the phone, who was in full agreement with transferring just two.

Why the change? Well, he explained, the original plan was designed for how they would typically proceed with a 40-year-old IVF patient. However, I responded so well, with so many eggs and good embryos, that really, as far as  IVF was concerned, I was more like a 30-year-old. (Awesome!!! I’ll take 30 any way I can!!) So, it was definitely wiser to just transfer 2; transferring 3 could end up with a lot of complications.

So, two is was.

The feel of this procedure was similar to the retrieval, except that I was awake for this one. I’m looking at the big operating-room spotlight above my head in a dark room, seeing the nurse come out of the lab with a dish to confirm that these were my embryos, hearing the doctor with the German accent give directions to the other nurse as she pressed the sonogram machine on my full bladder. It all seemed like science-fiction. How did they ever figure all of this out?

It wasn’t extremely long (10-15 minutes?) and it wasn’t extremely painful (some pressure and tugging here and there), but soon enough, the nurse showed me my two embryos all snug in my uterus.

A little surreal. ‘Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.’

So now that those little embryos are tucked away in there, all that’ s left to do is to take it easy and wait.

I haven’t been too neurotic about googling stats and odds of success and things like that. What I have been googling is ‘Activity after IVF,’ ‘What to Eat for IVF,’ ‘Bed-rest and IVF’ – things along those lines.

Mostly, the consensus is common sense – return to normal activities, nothing overtly strenuous, everything in moderation (But I did read that pineapples, avocados and Brazil nuts all help with implantation and pregnancy. Can’t hurt, right?).

It’s just waiting, which is actually an odd comfort to me. It’s been doctor’s appointments, injections, meds, creams, running to clinics for weeks on end, and now? Just waiting. For once, waiting is a welcome relief.

So, the waiting has actually, finally, given me a little time to emotionally and spiritually process, now that the physical part (that I can control) is over.

Before the transfer, my fears were swinging back and forth between extremes: “What if this doesn’t work?” and “What if I end up with triplets????” Now that triplets is (likely) off the table, I’m settling in more peacefully.

Everything I wrote in my other post, I stand by: God is in control, He has a plan, He has perfect timing for our family. I believe that; they aren’t just cliches to me.

But something else God has been speaking to me over the past few weeks: About faith. Not just faith to believe that God is going to come through, to do what He’s promised, to show up with miracle, but more about the flip side of faith – faith to keep believing when God doesn’t come through – or at least not the way you wanted Him to .  Faith that still believes God, even after things aren’t what you expect.

Faith isn’t just believing God for good things; it’s believing God NO MATTER WHAT.

Here’s what I’m learning about faith- and myself. Usually, when things go south, my faith is shaken.  I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me, and I’m completely disoriented.  It should be the opposite.  My faith shouldn’t weaken but get stronger. The trial is supposed to make me stronger, not weaker.  It should make me even more determined to believe God for the good outcome He’s promised, even if I have to wait for it.

There are so many examples in the Bible of people who went through this: a hope or a promise from God, things looking hopeless, faith getting stronger.

I’m thinking about Abraham, who considered his body as good as dead, but he wasn’t put off by it. He strengthened in his faith, not weakened, knowing God would be true to His promise.

I’m thinking about Mary and Martha, after Lazarus died. Jesus could have gotten there on time to heal him, but He didn’t. They had to wait, but God had something even more amazing in time. They still believed.

I’m thinking about the children of Israel, waiting to be delivered from Egypt, waiting to go to the Promised Land. Their faith wasn’t strengthened – they didn’t believe, and it cost them dearly.

Here’s what I’m seeing – the waiting, the believing, the delays, the trials aren’t meant to deflate us.  They are actually meant to strengthen us. “Those who wait on (hope in) the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). There’s a connection there; that’s God’s purpose – stronger faith for us, more glory for Him, and a great outcome at the end of it all. That is bottom-line truth.

So, how is this connected to IVF? Well, don’t misunderstand. I’m not fatalistic and convinced this won’t work and that I’ll have to wait even more. Right now, everything has gone beautifully, things look great, and I’m hopeful. Really hopeful.

However, a failed cycle is a possibility. I realize that. But I want my mind-set to be that if there is another set-back, I am going to let it prop me up and strengthen my faith, not weaken it.

So much of this infertility journey has been the crash after the let-down:  failed treatments, failed pregnancy tests, bad news. While it is true that my faith kept me from feeling completely destroyed, I think there is room for it to be stronger.

That being said, I’m trying to ‘land’ as far as my ‘mind-set’ during the wait. I’m not the type to let myself get overly optimistic – nor do I want to ‘prepare myself for the worst.’ I’m praying every day over and for my babies, J. is praying over them, I’m waiting with lots of hope that this might be it.

God is knitting them together cell by cell in my womb. Not science or nature. God. Whether that continues to full-term or whether He takes them home early, I don’t know. But I am going to love and pray for those babies until I know otherwise. And, I know He is lovingly superintending and watching over every minute detail of each of those embryos, and I trust that He will do what is right and best and most loving for all of us.

We are leaving for vacation Thursday night, and as much as I can, I just want to be present. In the moment. Not in anxiety and not in over-the-moon excitement or feigned certainty. Just in the present.

And for the present, we are blessed that this went so well – beyond our or the doctor’s expectations. We are blessed to even have this chance for IVF.

We are blessed that, for this moment, I am pregnant.

Until proven otherwise.

(P.S: If any readers know me in ‘real-life,’ would you please keep this news quiet and between us? I haven’t gone ‘public’ with it and don’t plan to until we know for sure that we are in a fairly safe spot in our pregnancy. Thank you!)