are you my moms?

the musings of yet another lesbian couple on the journey of mother(s)hood

Fear Factor February 5, 2012

Filed under: 1st Trimester,Pregnancy — areyoumymoms @ 4:26 pm
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I like to think of myself as someone who is relatively fearless.  I don’t mind walking alone in the city, will always be the one to look down from a tall height, regularly perform in front of large crowds, and am able to confront most horror movies and raw emotions with little hesitation.  Don’t get me wrong – if presented with a clown, I will find the nearest exit with my eyes closed.  There are things I don’t particularly like to do, but most situations don’t scare me that much.  This week I am confronting an entirely new fear, and one that I didn’t know could exist at such a cellular level.

Tuesday’s ultrasound had us on cloud nine.  Not even Wednesday’s broken water heater could do much to dampen our spirits.  But then came Thursday.  Midafternoon on a regular Thursday at work, I started bleeding.  Not spotting.  Bleeding.  A lot.  It was entirely out of the blue and the most terrifying experience of my life.  I called MKL and the doctor (in that order) immediately, and all parties concluded that I should get myself to the doctor’s office as soon as possible. Then I called a co-worker, who was also a bridesmaid in our wedding, and asked her to meet me in the bathroom.  I don’t know what I said, but she arrived with her purse and car keys in hand.  I have to take a moment to thank my dear friend who came to my rescue.  She’s just the person you want to know when a crisis hits.  The entire 20-minute ride to the doctor, her voice never rose above a whisper, quietly reassuring me every few minutes that everything was going to be ok, as she gently patted my knee.  All I could do was sob.  I didn’t even want to think about what was likely happening, and couldn’t think of anything else.

Meanwhile, MKL packed up the boy she takes care of after school and beat us to the doctor’s office.  She looked shaken, but was definitely trying to hold it together for her ward (who incidentally had no idea I was pregnant).  The nurses took me back right away, and put me on a scale.  What?  you want to weigh me at a time like this?  Bitch.  Then came a urine sample.  Urine?  Really???  It took a total of 5 minutes to complete both tasks (which, in hindsight, would give some clues as to the cause of the blood), but it seemed like hours.  I wanted to scream, “get someone in here and make sure our baby’s ok, dammit!!!”  Instead, I just sobbed as our doctor’s assistant came in to tell me Dr. B wasn’t in the office, and stroked my arm to tell me everything would be fine.  After an eternity, or about 6 minutes in real-time, the midwife came in.  She placed a doppler ultrasound on my belly and played our favorite new song, a sweet little rhythmic wah-wah-wah-wah-wah noise that signals the baby’s heartbeat.  And then MKL and I exhaled for the first time in a half an hour.  A subsequent ultrasound showed the monkey, safe and sound, dancing for us.  It also showed my sub-chorionic bleed.  My what?  Oh yeah…that little hemorrhage in my uterus that doc discovered in my 8-week confirmation exam.

Just a refresher: a sub-chorionic hemorrhage (also known as a separation, a bleed, or a hematoma) is a gathering of blood between the sac and the wall of the uterus.  We knew I had one.  We’ve seen it on 2 ultrasounds, confirmed by 2 different doctors.  Most women who have one of these little annoyances are asymptomatic.  Since I’d never had any signs – none – we thought I was one of those ladies.  At no time did it occur to me that this random bleeding was related to that.  I didn’t even remember I had it!  Once we heard and saw the baby, the rest was a blur.  The midwife was an angel, and the doctor who came in next was great, though I don’t remember hearing a word she said.  Thankfully MKL paid attention.  I’m on pelvic rest, and should generally take it easy.  No real activity until I’ve gone at least a week without any blood.

That night as the well-wishes and “phew – thank God you’re ok” sentiments poured in from our sweet friends, the bleeding subsided.  By morning it was nearly gone.  Somewhere in my head I knew it could come back.  So there’s no telling why it was such a shock to me when it returned yesterday evening.  This time my reaction was a little different, at least externally.  I didn’t sob.  I listened to the chorus of fears that played on a loop in my head and calmly rationalized with the voices, repeating a chant of my own: “I know what this is.  I know what this is.”  The fear loop won out a few times, but was eventually defeated shortly after midnight when the bleeding slowed and I went to bed.  Other than a brief outing up the road to our bff’s house to shower (still no hot water…grrr), Dr. MKL has confined me to the house today.  That means I’m cooped up with my own thoughts, which can be really dangerous.  I’m prone to scouring the wise internet in times of uncertainty, and there’s a lot of misleading information out there about sub-chorionic bleeding.  Surprising, huh?  The internet is usually such a reliable source of truth.  I choose to believe the doctor – this is a condition that hasn’t yet and won’t threaten the monkey.  It’s just a nuisance, and if the symptoms get worse I will call the office.

It is an unseasonably warm day here in Atlanta.  68 degrees and sunny.  It’s the kind of day that puts us in the mood to pack up the dog, some snacks, and a few magazines and head to the park.  Or walk for a few miles around our neighborhood, soaking up sun and friendly “hellos” from the folks doing the same or prepping their yards and grills for Super Bowl parties.  But not today.  The closest I’m getting to that today is lounging around on the deck while I write this.  I’m even trying not to rock in this rocking chair…pelvic rest, and all.

I’m still scared.  It’s hard not to be.  But perspective comes in strange forms.  Today mine came in the form of a picture of one of my cousin’s almost-week-old twins, as taken from this morning’s feeding in the NICU.  Both she and the babies were in some danger, so they were delivered by emergency c-section, weighing in at around 4 lbs apiece.  We hope they will be able to leave the hospital in the next few weeks.  Until then, every day my cousin and her husband go to the NICU to hold their babies, and every day they go home without them, giving me a new model for fearlessness.

By the way, the fabulous friend who drove me to the doctor’s office Thursday also watched MKL’s ward in the waiting room while we were in with the doctor.  In her attempt to be as calming to him as she was to me, she inadvertently spilled our news and told him we’re going to have a baby.  He’s ecstatic.  If we don’t name the baby after him, he wants us to name it Wrangler.  After MKL’s Jeep.

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Pregnancy Etiquette & 13 Week Photo January 31, 2012

Filed under: 1st Trimester,Pregnancy — areyoumymoms @ 7:56 pm
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When did it become ok for male acquaintances to ask very specific questions of pregnant women like “do you have any cravings or food aversions?” or “why aren’t you showing yet”  I’m not sure it will ever be ok, at least not with me.  Now that most people have grown accustomed to the idea of their pregnant lesbian friend, they’ve stopped asking questions about the donor or using the phrase “turkey baster.”  Unfortunately this means we’ve moved on to another phase: invasive and awkward questions about the pregnancy itself.

Note that I don’t mind one bit when our friends ask questions, and am likely guilty of over-sharing with all of them.  I also don’t really mind when women who have had babies ask questions.  It’s always comforting to share symptoms with those who have experienced them before.

But if you are either a man or a woman who has never been pregnant (and aren’t a close friend or family member), there are very few things you can say to a pregnant woman that won’t prompt a hormone-driven snarky response, even if it never escapes our lips.  Some of the things you can (and are encouraged to) say:

  • Wow – your thighs look so thin!
  • Has your skin always been so lovely and acne-free?
  • No, you’re not moody at all.  You’re an absolute delight and I think you’re right…about everything.
  • Let’s all have a 3rd cookie!!

A male acquaintance of mine actually told me earlier today that I “need to get [my] waddle on!”  It is important to state that while he was telling me this and asking why there’s still no visible bump, this normally intelligent human being started stroking his imaginary baby belly and waddling back and forth like an idiot.  It is also important to note that I still have 6 more months to go, so there is certainly plenty of time for waddling.  I can assure you all that I will be big as a house by summer.

Moments after this bizarre encounter, I left to meet MKL for our 13-week appointment, where we also did our 1st trimester screening.  The 1st trimester sreening involved a lengthy ultrasound and blood work, followed by a regular visit with our doctor.  The results of the blood work won’t be in for a week, but everything on the ultrasound checked out fine.  No, it was better than fine.  It was amazing.  Back in December when Doc confirmed our pregnancy, I cried when we saw the heartbeat.  But that was nothing compared with hearing it.  Not only did we hear the heartbeat, we got views from all angles, saw all kinds of organs and once again watched while our little monkey squirmed around and did its very special dance just for us (and Sheila the ultrasound tech).  Of course the experience was not without a little humor.  Apparently the monkey is just as stubborn as its moms.  With all its fancy dance moves, it still took Sheila 15 minutes and some impressive twisting of the ultrasound scan to get our sweet thing turned for a proper profile shot.  But it finally posed for the following beauty shot, and we’re absolutely in love.

I'm pretty sure the monkey won't be this blurry at birth...

 

Ovulation – check!! September 19, 2011

Filed under: IUI,Two-week wait — areyoumymoms @ 6:30 pm
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Swim, little buddies!!! SWIM!!!!!!

If you can talk plants into growing, you can talk your ovary into dropping an egg.  That’s the philosophy we had all night as we kept staring at, talking to, and all but daring my ovary to release the only follicle it created this cycle.  And what do you know?  It worked!!  This morning’s ultrasound showed that the egg released sometime last night.  That’s the good news. 

Doc’s best estimate is that it happened sometime between 8-10pm.  That’s the bad less good news.  We were hoping for an early-mid afternoon ovulation, which would allow for more of Saturday’s sample to be viable.  The later the egg released, the more we’re relying on Sunday’s swimmers to get the job done.  The more we rely on Sunday’s boys, the greater the chance that we essentially wasted our money on Saturday’s.  But we aren’t dwelling on that.  At least, not yet.  We’re still excited that I might be pregnant. 

Relax and enjoy.  That’s what I said.  I also said “I know what to expect this time.  It will be so much easier.”  I will now invite all the ttc readers to laugh at that one.  Don’t worry, you’re laughing with me on that, as I’ve been smiling since I saw the opk result Saturday morning.  Lesson learned: each cycle will be different.  If we aren’t successful this time, we will most likely adjust some of the treatment protocol; we may increase the dosages during the follicular phase or we might prepare for another false positive lh surge by shipping a 3rd vial, just in case.  (ca-ching!)

I want to take a minute to rave about my doctor.  At the beginning of our relationship, I wasn’t so sure I’d like her.  I was sold on her by the 2nd appointment, despite her attempts to practice fencing maneuvers with her ultrasound wand.  But this weekend my respect and admiration for her exploded.  She has now reached full-scale superstar status in our house.  Not only did she take the time to talk through all the options and odds yesterday (in the middle of her Sunday afternoon!), she was genuinely thrilled today when she saw the ultrasound screen and was able to tell us that the follicle had ruptured.  She laughed with us about our good luck charms and repeatedly told us how glad she was that we went through with the insemination yesterday.  Even though she was clear that we took a risk, she was quick to point out that she has had pregnancies result from a single-specimen insemination cycle as well as a “double-pre,” which is what we did (unintentionally) this time around.  This lady knows her stuff, and we definitely trust her to get us knocked up, even when my body gives her mixed signals. 

This attempt included a lot of good luck charms and strange coincidences.  I’ve never been a very superstitious person but if we get a bfp 2 weeks from tomorrow, I’m going to have to change my tune.  And buy a lottery ticket.

  • The early lh surge happened the day after MKL’s birthday.  This day was also the birthday of her grandmother, with whom she was extremely close.
  • The night before the lh surge/trigger shot/iui #1, we went out for MKL’s birthday and she was given a baby doll as a pseudo-gag-gift.  The doll came with us to all 3 appointments, along with a few other special items we’ve had with us throughout the journey.
  • The date of specimen donation for the both vials we used this weekend is both MKL’s father’s birthday and the anniversary of the death of a dear friend of ours.
  • The afternoon of iui #1, we had a visit from our friends, who brought with them their 6-week-old nephew.  Surely holding a baby the day you’re inseminated is good juju.

MKL keeps looking at me and smiling.  Now that it has happened twice, I can say that this is my favorite part of the two week wait.  This small window of time between insemination and progesterone treatment (meh…), is also the time when implantation could be taking place.  So a) there’s the whole you-don’t-have-to-take-the-hormones-and-become-a-raging-beeeotch-yet-benefit and b) MKL seems keenly aware that at any minute she looks at me, I could be conceiving our child.  She tells me she gets butterflies when she thinks about it, which is completely adorable and only makes me wish even harder for different results this time.

So here we are again…starting our two week wait, putting good energy into the universe, and hoping in return we get a good call from the guru 2 weeks from tomorrow.  Both MKL and I want to send hugs and a huge THANK YOU to all our friends and family who have been praying and sending well-wishes our way.  We feel all of you supporting us, and we believe in the power of that support.  Feeling that level of love and support is like getting a sneak peek at the love that will surround our child.  I’m here to tell you: that’s gonna be one lucky little monkey…

 

Surprise Party! September 17, 2011

Filed under: Hormones,IUI,Meds,Two-week wait — areyoumymoms @ 4:49 pm
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It was supposed to be a normal, quiet weekend.  A whole Saturday with no plans.  Maybe the gym, some errands, the street festival up the road, some friends were to drop by with their baby nephew.  And then…against all odds, it happened:

The smile you see to your left is the signal that my little digital ovulation predictor kit detected a surge in lh (luteinizing hormone).  This means the follicles doc saw on my pre-treatment ultrasound have received the right amount of estrogen to make them grow (with a little help from the letrozole).  The high estrogen levels have prompted production of lh, the hormone that makes the follicles leave the ovaries.  So when the test detects the surge in lh, I’ll ovulate within the next 24 hours or so.  That’s right, folks.  I read the books.  And the instructions on the ClearBlue Easy box. 

When I say the smile appeared “against all odds,” I’m not just being dramatic.  Today is only cycle day 9, and we were supposed to trigger my ovulation with profasi in two days.  The guru only told me to start using the tests on day 8 as a precaution.  No one, including doc or the guru, thought we’d actually get a positive until after the profasi did its job. 

I’ve been using these “smiley sticks” for 4 months now, and I’ve only ever had a non-medically-induced smiley face once.  It was on or around day 9 last cycle.  I was so excited.  In the months leading up to that cycle I’d not started testing until day 10, thinking that since most women ovulate around day 14, I’d have plenty of buffer.  We sent frantic texts to the guru and went to doc’s office, a ball of excitement and nerves.  I called my mom, my boss, my bff, the Publix deli lady, my 4th grade teacher, and the girl at the hair salon who always gets my appointment times wrong.  We were having a baby, dammit!!  The world needed to know!!  Nope.  It only took 15 minutes and a cup of urine for doc to tell us that it was likely a false positive.  The follicles weren’t the right size yet.  We parted ways for work that day, disappointed, but still on track for our scheduled treatment a few days later.

So when I got the smile again this morning (on day 9!) we were sure it was a repeated exercise in futility.  In the dark of the early morning, I fumbled through my baby file and found my appointment card: “Call or text guru 7am/7pm with positive opk on or before cd 11.”  Right.  Relax and enjoy, I thought, as I typed a quick message to the guru.  It’s just going to be an ultrasound, and then you’re back to your normal, quiet Saturday with no plans.  “Doc will meet u @ her ofc 930.  If follies mature she will insem.”  I woke MKL up and gave her the news, and packed up our insemination good luck charms and the pillows I’d stack under my legs for the 20-minute ride home…we wouldn’t need them, but just in case.  We were both thinking about the money we’d potentially waste on a needless ultrasound, but the alternative is that we’d potentially miss our window.  Even from a purely financial standpoint there’s no question about whether or not to go for the test; we’re better off wasting an ultrasound than a vial of sperm.  I’m starting to think they make that crap out of platinum.  Based on her expression when she greeted us in the exam room wearing workout gear, I’m pretty sure doc shared our doubt about the chances of that smile having occurred naturally.

But that’s precisely what happened.  The ultrasound showed that the already noted follicle in my right ovary was big and ready to go.  The next few minutes passed in a blink.  Before I knew it we were signing consent forms and confirming the donor number from the frozen vial.  Doc shot me up with profasi, to be sure that giant follicle pops out of the ovary on time, while the guru’s weekend assistant thawed the sperm.  30 minutes later I was stacking my pillows in the back seat of our car.

Yesterday was MKL’s bday.  A friend asked her earlier this week what she wanted for her birthday; she half- jokingly replied, “a baby.”  We have beautiful, caring friends who would do anything to make our wishes come true, as we would theirs.  So it didn’t surprise me last night when MKL opened her birthday gift to find a baby doll – their attempt to give her exactly what she wished for.  The doll joined a hand-made-with-love good luck card in our bag and accompanied us to doc’s office.  I’m not sure if it was the good luck charms, the past few days’ lull in babymaking activity, the chinese herbs prescribed by my acupuncturist, or just the whole unexpected nature of the day’s activities, but we were calm and relaxed throughout the entire experience.  If it’s possible to enjoy a procedure like iui, I think we did today. 

The next step is another appointment tomorrow, where we’ll determine when we’re going to do iui #2 for this round…might be tomorrow, or she might postpone.  Remaining in our relax-and-enjoy state of zen during the two week wait might be a chore.  But for now, we’re good.  Who knows?  Maybe MKL will get her birthday wish after all.

 

 
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