So, obviously, I am not currently 50 weeks pregnant. Samuel arrived on March 10th shortly after my 41-week appointment. We went in knowing birth was imminent, but assuming I’d either go into labor within a few days or we’d be induced that Friday. Actually, I was assuming I would be induced that Friday, but had my hopes briefly raised at my appointment that I was actually going into labor and had a chance at a natural delivery. All was looking well until they strapped on the monitors and Samuel’s heart rate dropped into the 80’s. We were rushed off to the hospital, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not eat lunch, in particular, which became my inane focus for the next several hours during which Samuel was born. The conversation leaving the doctor’s office went something like this:
Doctor: You’re having a baby today!
Doctor: Are you okay?
Me: But, I was going to have lunch….
My doctor reiterated that I was not to eat but to go straight to the ER, and my husband insisted we follow these directions while in the car on the way there I pointed out each and every drive-through and he called our family telling them what was going on. We were met in the ER and rushed up to a labor and delivery room where they hooked me up to IV’s, belly monitors, pitocin, you name it, and I was attached to it, and all was going well until Samuel’s heart rate dropped again. The very kind nurse who had been helping me turned into the mean, mean nurse who tossed me around like a flap jack and “stimulated” Samuel’s head, which is sort of like being skewered like a shishkabob. Notice the allusions to food. It was then about 5:30 pm and I had not had lunch–for those of you who know me well, this is all you need to know. For the rest of you, picture cookie monster, picture a whirling dirvish, picture me watching my husband eat a burger and fries in the delivery room–and this was all my mind could really grasp onto when my doctor arrived to assess the situation and explained that the latent decelerations of Samuel’s heart rate after each contraction were not reassuring and required a c-section to prevent any long term restriction of oxygen to his brain. The conversation went something like this:
Doctor: The baby is not tolerating labor well.
Me: Are you sure?
Doctor: Yes-you need a c-section. (Actually, she said a bunch more than that, but this was the gyst of it)
Me: What does the research show about—
Doctor: Catharine, we’re not going to have an academic debate about this, you are having a c-section.
Me: –long pause — But, I haven’t had lunch.
To which everyone in the room responded with blank stares, not seeing the connection. My husband, however, was able to speak reason to me:
Cliff: Baby, we need to do the c-section, then I’ll give you my hamburger.
Off we went. Now, before you mistakenly think that I thought a burger was more important than my baby’s wellfare, be reasured, I was just in shock and only Cliff understood my knee jerk stress/food reaction. But, being reassured that he would see that I was fed before too long, I complied and off we went.
First of all let me just add that I do not like c-sections. I do not wish ever again to be awake during major abdominal surgery, and it is major surgery. They lay you open and then pull out your organs and lay them around you OUTSIDE of your body. I know this is true because I made Cliff take the pictures to prove it and I brought them to my postpartum visit to confirm that, yes, indeed, that is my uterus laying there on the table. I knew it, too–it was no good. I don’t advise it. It’s very distracting from the main event, which is…
Samuel Clifford, born at 6:36 pm on March 10th, weighing in at a respectible 8 lbs 7.8 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches long! He gave a lusty cry and then wimpered in what I now recognize as his “I’m not convinced I’m okay here, people!” way. It was beautiful, and if I had not been paralyzed from my chest down I would have enjoyed it a lot more, I’m pretty sure. Isn’t he beautiful!
That’s right folks–we continue to thumb our noses at Darwin. Survival of the fitest has tried to throw us out of the reproductive game, but thanks to modern medicine, we’re still in it. This is the reason I wasn’t conscious for the conception, and it’s looking more and more like I may not be for the delivery, either. A lot of women take this pretty hard–the idea that they will miss the experience of a natural delivery–but more and more, I’m feeling a smug sense of accomplishment that says, “that’s right Darwin, I’m throwing my genes into the pool, if you like it or not.”
It seems, you see, that our child fears change and does not wish to exit the womb. You saw the “kickin’ it in the womb” photo, so maybe should have been able to predict this. Maybe our kid is just that laid back. But, considering his genetic composition, we’re in disbelief. There’s no Punitt square using our genes that could possibly result in that. There’s always the possibility of a mutation–but still. No, we think it’s far more likely that this little guy simply fears change. Either that, or we’ve conceived of a small genius with a huge head that simply can’t descend. This is what the doctors have suggested–that we have a kid with a big brain and I have tiny hips–all very flattering, but in a practical sense it means I’m lucky to live in this century and not 60 years ago–it means that at just about any other time in the milinia of human history I would have been thrown out of the gene pool at this point even if I’d somehow managed to conceive on my own, which is doubtful. In any case, the little dude is still swimming around somewhere under my esophagus happily free floating and apparently at this point in the game, that’s cause for some concern; most babies have descended to some degree by 40 weeks.
So, we wait. We go back in another week and see if anything has sorted itseld out, and if both the baby and my body are still uncooperative by Friday the 13th (yes, indeed!), we have chosen this propitious day to bring our little guy into the world, ready or not.
|I thought you all would be amused, and my mother horrified, to see that every item of baby gear has been submitted to the strict review of our in-house quality control committee. Plumb Bob approved the car seat for napping…|
|and the bassinett…|
|and the Baby Bjorn.|
|The bassinett has won hands down, however. It seems to be everyone’s favorite.|
Yeah, yeah, I know–we have a lot of cats.
So, I’ve summed up nearly 40 weeks of fetal development in one post–now for the pregnancy itself. For me, discovering I was pregnant was a little like discovering my own mortality. Maybe this happens a little sooner for others–I was always a late bloomer–but for me, this was delayed. Do you remember this feeling–this realization that someday you are going to have a tomb stone–the point when driving long distances at night starts to take on some of the ominous qualities your grandmother always tried to impress upon you? The reason it was a shock is that I just never thought it would happen to me–other people died, of course, but it never really occurred to me that I would too. And, maybe this is where infertility stepped into play. After three years of trying to get pregnant, pregnancy in general just seemed ethereal, like becoming President someday or discovering that I was actually the long lost heiress to a great fortune. Both good for a movie plot line, but not likely.
So, when I actually was pregnant, I found I didn’t really think certain things would happen to me, like, oh, gaining weight. These things happened to other people, sure, but somehow I suffered under the misapprehension that they would not happen to me. Imagine my shock the first time I saw a swollen ankle? My husband continues to laugh at the perplexed expressions on my face when I ponder aloud how my jeans could possibly be tighter in the legs, how my shoes could feel a little snug, and quite frankly, how in the world my stomach got so huge! “What did you think was going to happen?” he’ll say. I continue to look at him perplexed and a little annoyed, actually, because while I have gained 35 pounds (actually, more, but I just say 35 because that’s the upper acceptable limit and I am not in the habit of being honest with myself), he has lost at least 15.
At first, I thought it was just an optical illusion causing him to look thinner and thinner when standing next to my burgeoning belly, but then his pants started looking loose in the waist band, and then he started tugging on said waist bands and chuckling at the gapes, himself perplexed, because he “wasn’t trying to lose weight. Where is it all going?” It’s like the curious case of Benjamin Button–he looks younger and more handsome, while I can no longer tie my own shoes and roll in and out of bed like an old man with a bear belly.
|So, here I am at 18 weeks–if you didn’t know me you couldn’t tell I was pregnant, but I wasn’t wearing any of my normal clothes at that point.|
|Just a few weeks later, 20 weeks, I was looking a little more bonafied.|
|So, skip ahead to 35 weeks since there are almost no pictures of me without Natasha that I can actually post. Obviously, the baby bump got a little bigger. Here I am at a baby shower with the Inbody women in my family.|
|And finally, this is the current condition my condition is in. Did I mention no longer having much use of my abdominal muscles? It seems they can only become so convex before they just give up. My husband finds this amusing. He likes to laugh while he watches me roll around trying to get up out of bed and off the couch.|
So, that’s where we are now. The baby is showing no signs of wanting to leave–he’s apparently quite content and finds his digs perfectly acceptable. We’re hoping he’ll change his mind before my doctor decides to evict him.
Let me end my long silence on the other significant event in our life, the long-awaited baby. I had composed a post that was going to have been named “which came first, the chicken or the egg,” but I will have to recap the past 32 weeks more briefly, instead. So, in July, we got our first peak at baby Corder, and our hopes were nearly dashed when they told us “he” (please bear with my sexist default) was measuring a week behind with a slow heartbeat. Here he was then, at 6 weeks and 3 days, but measuring 5 weeks.
We went back a week later, and our hopes were renewed. He still measured a week behind (6 weeks rather than the 7 weeks 3 days we knew him to be) but he’d done a week’s worth of growing in the previous seven days and his heartbeat was strong. We were told that we were out of the woods and as likely as anyone else just 7 weeks pregnant to carry to term. We were also told that our baby, evolutionarily speaking, was still a chicken. Here’s our little chick:
So, knowing all was well, Grandma GeeGee came with me for the long trip back to Houston just days later for the official 8-week ultrasound that was required by the study protocol, and we were treated to a little arm and leg bud wiggle. Grandma claimed to have seen the little guy wag his tail as well. Everyone, including the RE, pronounced themselves astounded at his accomplishments at just 8 weeks. We were also told he’d left the chicken stage of life and entered the pig, evolutionarily speaking. You can imagine our pride upon hearing this. He still wasn’t a primate, but we were proud none the less. For those of you who can’t tell even though it’s totally obvious, that dark circle at the top is the little guys ultra-developed brain, and that’s his tail curling around on the bottom. Here, we’re treated to a profile shot.
So, then we had to cool our heels for four whole week sans ultrasound, but finally, in August, we got to see him not just in primate form, but decidedly human, although somewhat skeletor-ish. He had caught up to 11 weeks and 5 days by this point, so we were back on track with development. We also assessed that this guy was laid back. The first picture shows his hands behind his head.
This one — his legs with ankles crossed–he’s kickin’ back, enjoying all that free floating space–this guys was ready for a nice relaxing gestation and totally unaware of all the angst surrounding his developmental progress.
The last peek we had at him was at 20 weeks when most folks find out the sex, but despite my calling the baby “him” all the time, we didn’t find out. He could be a she. We’ll just have to wait and see. You can feel free to examine above “kickin’ it in the womb” pose if you’d like, but that’s the umbilical cord in the way, so his business end is well concealed. So, here’s baby Corder 19 weeks ago when he was half-way done.
and a shot we like to call “the Joker.” We actually saw this yawn, and it was very cute live, but the picture just looks, well, a little creepy. So, that brings us to date with the baby, until he decides to show up in person.
Sometime last week we sent the following email to our friends and family, and this, more than anything, explains my long silence on this blog. When there’s almost nothing good to say, it’s hard to say anything at all.
We have sad news that many of you already know since you have been supporting us through the past several weeks, which have been extremely difficult. We were not able to consumate our adoption in January as we had been planning since last July when Natasha first came home. Several issues came to light late in her placement that we were not capable of handling for her, and as a result Natasha has had to move back into a foster placement. The hopeful things we can pull from this situation are that her case has been relocated to the Brazos valley where we live, and she will not move back Corpus Christi–this is a much better region both socially and for CPS–and she has been placed with what seems to be a very capable and experienced family. A disruption in an adoption placement is not good for her, however, so please add Natasha to your prayer lists.
Since sending this email we have learned a little more about her current situation, all of which sounds hopeful and good to us: there are other kids her age; there are animals; there is a lot of outdoor space; and this placement, although it’s currently a foster placement, could turn into an adoptive placement. My hopes soared for Natasha when I heard this, and I’ve been praying for her new family since.
I doubt I’ll go into more detail about the why’s and wherefore’s of our situation. All I can ask those of you who know us is to trust our judgement and know the decision didn’t come lightly or without strong conviction that it was the best decision we could make. It has been a blessing to have received so much support from so many already saying as much or more in support of this decision. For now, I’ll it at that.
Picture me and my husband as groundhogs peaking our heads out of the ground for the first time in months, looking around and possibly seeing our shadows, then scampering back into our holes for a longer winter, because this is how we feel. Hurricanes have raged, presidential ellections have progressed, and the economy has apparently taken a nose dive all while we have been hybernating inside our little home unaware of the world around us. Not that we’ve been sleeping peacefully mind you, but I have been sleeping a lot–a lot more than I have since I was in the third grade myself–a lot for any adult, 18-weeks pregnant or not. It seems that it takes a lot of sleep to fuel me through pregnancy, teaching four college courses and negotiating third grade homework, third grade lunch and snack preferences, and third grade life in general. In fact, third grade, I’m finding, is exhausting.
So, just to recap for you, in June we got pregnant through IVF and found out we got Natasha, in July Natasha came home, in August she and I both went back to school, and now in September we are starting to emerge from our cocoons to notice that life has been going on all around us–our church is full of misplaced hurricane evacuees, our mutual funds are worth far less than the amount we have put into them, and the presidential candidates have running mates! It’s been like watching an entire season of lost on dvd all in one weekend. No dramatic cliff hangers, just instant gratification, and yet, precious little satisfaction. It’s all still hanging in limbo, and we have no idea what any of it means.
Fortunately for us (not for Houston, I’m afraid) the area meet for Special Olympics has been cancelled due to the pool having sat for weeks without power, so my weekend was suddenly freed up. It took my husband and I about 15 seconds to decide we were going camping because our house is not far enough away from reality for us–we must go to the woods, to front the essential facts of life, drive it into a corner and all that. Actually, what we really wanted was to go to Europe on a semi-permanent vacation, but this will have to do. So, we have bought a family-sized tent, a third sleeping bag and ground mat, and we’re off to introduce the newest family member to the great outdoors.
The great outdoors sounded exciting to our daughter in theory, but faced with an actual camping trip I’m sensing some hesitation. While before she insisted she wanted her own tent, she’s now speculating that she might like to stay with us. We, being the clever adults we are, anticipated this and have a tent big enough for all just in case. And while foil dinner still hold the same allure they did last month, this month she wants to know why we have to drive to a state park–why not stay in the city? In fact, why stay outside at all? When faced with our astounding logic that “that” would no longer be camping, she looked us as if to say, ‘think outside the box, people,’ and the conversation ended with no satisfactory conclusion. So, we’re not sure how this all will go. We’re hoping the truth of the joy of being in the great out-of-doors will be made self-evident, but we’ll let you know her conclusions when all is said and done. We plan to bribe her with many s’mores and win her to our side.
Dare I share my sentimental side? I prefer to be wrapped in my sarcasm and dry witt and like to think I am not at all sentimental, but I guess I’ll expose myself here and show you something I wrote thinking about our three-year-long search for children that was shorter than many but longer than most. So, this is for all the parents who spent longer than expected finding their children either through adoption or infertility treatment.
We looked high and low for you,
inside and out for you;
We looked the world over for you,
until you were found.
And if we had it to do over for you,
we’d look the whole world all over for you.
We’d climb high and low for you
all over again.
We’d move mountains and peaks for you;
We’d cross valleys and seas for you;
We’d cry oceans of deeps for you
and find you again.
And some day, we pray for you,
you’ll cross oceans and seas too;
you’ll climb mountains and peaks as you
find you again.
You’ll see this whole world all over as you
climb high and live deep too;
front the trueness of life, and you’ll
find you again.
We’ve been checking our emotional capacity for change for the past two weeks (thus the silence) and discovered that we can in fact keep up with a nine year old, but it wears us out. Let me ‘splain.’ No, there’s no time to ‘splain,’ let me sum up: Natasha is coming home in a little less than three days, we have appointments, but no actual medical insurance, and we have a room, but no actual toys.
The long version of the story goes like this. Two weekends ago we drove to Corpus Christi and met her for the first time while clinging for dear life to her case worker because we discovered that very morning that, in fact, we were both deathly afraid of nine year olds. The door opened and there she stood calm and smiling and there we stood transfixed while her entire life passed before our eyes, and no doubt the vast potential it contained for our failure as parents. Cliff managed to mumble a formal “hello” and shook her hand, which seemed like a good idea until I was doing it too, at which point I thought, “stupid, stupid, stupid, she’s not interviewing for a job,” but I guess we sort of were. She started eyeing us more shrewdly after that and posed several probing questions about our cats and whether my mom was in fact famous for her pies (apparently not prone to exageration like her mother–she’s a literalist, this one, much to her father’s delight). We fielded these questions well, I suppose, because she stayed with us and let us take her to breakfast, and to the aquarium, and to the beach for a snow cone, and to the park, and to Whataburger–all before 4:00. We dropped her off after the first day, promptly had panic attacks, shook each other because we each realized we couldn’t both fall apart, fell into our hotel bed for a solid 9 hours of sleep and awoke to a new dawn and a new day: we had a daughter!
While Dad Cliff spent the next week bringing home the bacon, I spent it wrangling together the army of medical professionals required by the state. If you want to know the current state of the nation’s medical insurance options give me a call–I will resist the urge to “soap box” here, but we have direct experience with just about every situation you hear about on the news (The un-insured, the under-insured, and Medicaid) and it is just as bad as they say if it takes someone with a useless graduate education to navigate the red tape. But, I am nothing if not persistent and I managed to shock all of CPS and Superior Health (the insurance company for foster kids who said we’d have to go to Houston for health care) by convincing local medical professionals to accept insurance they otherwise don’t all so we won’t have to drive 4 hours round trip for regular doctor’s appointments. I think they just wanted me to stop calling.
The following weekend we arrived armed with games, books, movies and puzzles–afterall, the best defense is a good offense. You cannot imagine the research and debate necessitated by these purchases. We were just short of consulting Consumer Reports when we discovered that there are ages posted on these things. I assume you all already knew that they tell you right on the box for which age toys are most appropriate. Thank goodness we live in the modern era! This discovery resolved most of our debtes and expedited the rest of the shopping trip, which was spent in important discussion over the relative value of Hello Kitty versus Tinker Bell and whether I could convince her to listen to the first chapter of Super Fudge while there was an indoor/outdoor pool just outside our hotel room (by the way, the answer was a respounding “no”). We swam, we played, we puzzled–the weekend was a success. In fact, it was very hard to leave her behind with just two stuffed animals and enough clothes for three days while we drove off with every other one of her earthly posessions.
So, now we are simply waiting for her arrival on Wednesday afternoon. The plan is for Cliff to meet her with her case worker at the airport to bring them back here, while meanwhile, I will be doing my best Donna Read impression, baking oatmeal raison cookies for her arrival. The cookies will say “warm,” “loving,” “inviting,” “homey,” home assuming I don’t burn them, in which case we can at least not be accused of false advertising–our home is homey and loving, but the baking isn’t always…shall we say…reliable.
So, wish us all the best. We’re clueless and it still requires both of us to make simple decisions such us “should she have the pink or purple electric toothbrush,” so I foresee a steep learning curve in the next six months.
Filed Under (Infertility) by catharine on Jul-01-08
Again, we’ve been silent on the subject of our IVF–sorry. It’s just that it takes me a while to grasp concepts. We started getting positive HPT’s (home pregnancy tests) on the Saturday after our egg retrieval, but we didn’t realize that until Sunday when they were undeniably positive, and still didn’t really accept it until Tuesday when we had solid beta evidence in the form of an hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, a.k.a. the pregnancy hormone) level, 95! That sounded good to me, and based on all my extensive research (www.betabase.info) we were average–right at the top of the bell curve. Of course I would have prefered to be above average, well over the bell curve, but finding ourselves right in the midst of the longest line on the bar graph had its own reassuring qualities–we were in the majority, among good company, normal. All was good despite our over-achieving perfectionistic tendencies which we now try to hold in check in a perfectionistic way that says, we will be the best recovered perfectionists there are! Thank you very much, cognitive behavioral therapy.
From what I understand, in a normal pregnancy, normal women the western world over buy an e.p.t, get a positive test, joyfully call their OB/Gyn’s and are told to hold their horses and come back in 8-12 weeks, during which time they blissfully and ignorantly progress through their first trimester, hopefully. Those of us who required a little extra assistance getting here are considered “at risk,” however, so after the initial pregnancy test at the equivalent of 14 dpo (days post ovulation), or 9dp5dt (9 days past 5 day transfer) in my case, they bring you back for a second test two days later, 16 dpo or 11dp5dt–are you catching on to the lingo? They want to check the doubling time. Wherever your hCG starts, it is supposed to double every 48-72 hours until it reaches a certain point (far above where we are currently) when it slows down a bit.
This is how they monitor the health of the pregnancy–or so they say. What will they do if they discover something is wrong? Nothing. So why monitor? To increase the stress level of the parents, apparently, while continually asking them things like “are you taking it easy?” and “are you staying calm?” “Cramps you say? Well, you are drinking enough, aren’t you? How many glasses of water did you have yesterday?” Translation: “Oh, that’s bad–it’s probably you’re own fault, though–if you miscarry it will be because you didn’t drink enough water.” Needless to say, I am not calm.
So, we went back to Houston, another 5-hour round trip drive, to get a few ounces of blood drawn (again, you get what you pay for), and learned our second beta was 163. Here, I need to back up. Even though everything in print says doubling time between 48-72 hours is normal, all you ever hear is that 48 hours is the standard. So, our doubling time was 61 hours. Again, off I trotted to my on-line encyclopedia to discover that we had dropped one standard deviation below the curve on the bar graph. We took a few soothing deep breaths to quiet the perfectionists within that were screaming “Not good enough!” and told everyone what the nurse told us on the phone: “Our levels doubled adequately.” And we waited for the third blood test….
Here we are, five days later, and we’ve had our third and final hCG. Like all over-achievers the world over, we had calculated what we needed to get on this hCG ahead of time in order to meet our 48-hour doubling goal–the very thing I tell my students not to do–it’s about learning, not the grade! Well, anyway, I won’t tell you what we calculated because it was ridiculously different from what we got, 556. Our doubling time is now 68 hours–a little too close to the 72-hour cap for our comfort. The conversation with the nurse went something like this:
Nurse–Hi, your beta is 556.
Me–Oh, that doesn’t sound so good.
Nurse–It’s good–it’s supposed to double every 48 hours. It’s increasing and that’s good.
Me–But it’s not doubling every 48 hours.
Nurse–Yes, it is.
Me–No, it’s not.
Nurse (getting snippy)–Look, when were you in last? The 26th? What was that, 4 days ago?
Nurse (sounding annoyed like she’s explaining a very simple concept to a child)–OK, it was about 160 on the 26th, so it should have been 320 on the 28th, then……(long pause)….um, 640 on the 30th….(another pause as she apparently does the math)…okay, so it’s not doubling, but it’s rising…(another long pause) …..rising is still good…..it’s not rising at 60%…..so it is rising slowly.
Me–Is that bad?
Nurse–We can’t tell you why it’s increasing slowly. You’ll have an ultrasound next week and can find out what’s going on then. Call us if you have any questions, okay?
So, once back at the ranch, off we trot to the internet again….now we’ve slipped quite low on the bell curve–in fact, we’re well below average at this point. But, we are still pregnant. Hopefully our offspring, who should look something like a trilobite at this point, is simply trodding his own path. This article says that 75% of women with hCG levels similar to mine at 16 dpo continued their pregnancies. We’ve had far worse odds in the past–in fact, those are the best odds we’ve ever had–but, I’m jealously eyeing the over-300 crowd, all of whom are apparently destined to continue their pregnancies.
Anyway, who am I to complain? We are pregnant and have a chance many don’t, and our results put us in the you-have-no-right-to-complain category in IVF land. I know I am not feeling the same stress as those who have no frozen embryos, particularly those who know they aren’t likely to be able to make more. However, please stay tuned for the results of the ultrasound next week, when we should see a heartbeat. This will place us in an entirely different category where, according to this slightly less reputable article, we will have a 96% chance of continuing the pregnancy.