Archive for July, 2008

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by catharine on 25-04-2007

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 25-04-2007

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 ( 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…’s not rising at 60%… 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? 
Me–um, okay…..thanks.

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.