Ultrasounds

Sweet Smile

Sweet smile!

Sweet smile!

Twenty-nine weeks today! We had our monthly appointment yesterday and had another 3D ultrasound. 3D ultrasounds rock. It is amazing to see so much detail. I feel like we actually have a decent idea of what WB will look like when he is born. As usual, he was very active and moving all over the place. He didn’t want to cooperate and let us get a good look at his face, but near the end of the session he did. What a tease! It was worth it, though, because we got to see him smile. We also have pretty vivid corroboration that WB is definitely a boy; it will be good material with which to embarrass him later LOL.

WB is currently 15 inches long and almost 3 pounds. He has filled out a lot! He has the chubbiest cheeks. I think he has J’s ears and mouth and my chin. Possibly my nose as well. How much fun it will be to see if we still think that when he’s born. F is doing well. She passed the one-hour GTT and is measuring perfectly. We now transition to appointments every two weeks.

J and I visited a daycare today. The facility itself didn’t blow me away (no better than the less expensive place close to the house), but the director and the policies did. We felt that they took security very seriously and that they really know the babies and their families. I also liked that a mother who works nearby was visiting her baby during lunch, and she says she does that every day. If we chose this daycare, I could do that too. We’re going to visit 3 more centers, but if we want to be assured of a place for September at the place we visited today, we’ll have to let them know and pay the registration fee by the first of April. Apparently September is a hot month in the daycare world.

Other than that, work continues on WB’s room. J is almost finished with the floor, and then he will need to install baseboards and paint. I’m actually starting to panic. Aw, hell, who am I kidding. I’ve been panicking for weeks now LOL. I’m really panicking now. It just doesn’t seem like we have a lot of time left and the to-do list is long. But as I’ve been told, it will all work out. It doesn’t need to be 100% ready right away.

J and I just talked (like 5 minutes ago) and now we are thinking seriously about the daycare down the road again. I’ve tasked him to go check it out on Friday since I’ve already been, and Friday is his day off from work. If he likes it, we may go with it. One thing I keep reminding myself is that none of this is set in stone. If we don’t like a daycare, we’ll switch. If we pick a doctor and decide we don’t like him/her, we’ll switch. I tend to feel committed for the long-term, but J is much less sentimental than I am and that’s helpful as we try to make these decisions. We have LOTS of options and that’s a good thing.

Clytemnestra or Ptolemy?

20w5d

20w5d

J and I have been married for 7 years but met each other 12 years ago. At some point, we started talking baby names, and we joked that we would freak out our families by coming up with ridiculous baby names.

After going over many silly names, we had the ones. We decided that if we had a girl, the name would be “Clytemnestra” and if we had a boy, the name would be “Ptolemy” (because I like the silent “P”).

We had the big u/s today and found out the gender. First of all, the baby looked great. It was moving all over the place, which relieved me since I was afraid it would pick today of all days to be calm and sleepy. All its measurements are right on track and no red flags were raised. The baby now weights 12 ounces. The tech switched from 2D to 3D, and I was a bit dismayed to see that the baby looks a little like me as a newborn (it wasn’t my most attractive moment). The 3D u/s was amazing though. I can’t believe how much detail there was.

And the verdict is…

It’s a Ptolemy!

J and I were a little shocked but in a good way. We are going to have a baby boy! F was surprised because she kept dreaming we were having a girl, and I had thought for a few weeks we would have a girl. However, I woke up today and just knew it was going to be a boy. Amazingly, that makes the 4th boy in my family between November 2008 and June 2009. I wondered what the odds of all 4 of us having boys were, thinking it must be high, but J (much better at math and tricky things like statistics and ratios) informed me there was actually a 1 in 8ish chance of all of us having boys. Oh. Ok, so not as unlikely as I had thought LOL.

Now we can begin planning the nursery in earnest! We have had names for both a boy and girl picked out for years, but we’re going to revisit our boy name to make sure we like it. I had breakfast with a dear friend and met her baby boy last Saturday. He is 6 months old, and as I held him and he tried to grab my chin and put his fingers in my mouth, my heart melted. I knew then that having a boy would be a wonderful thing.

I’m so glad it’s a Ptolemy.

17 Weeks, Second OB Appointment

After the constant attention at the fertility clinic, it was a huge adjustment to go to monthly OB appointments.  However, I kept reminding myself that monthly meant normal which is what we wanted.  I was really nervous for our next OB appointment on Dec. 22 because F was having blood drawn for the quad screen.  The quad screen tests for spina bifida, various trisomies, and Down’s Syndrome.  It’s not a “Yes/No” test.  Results come back indicating either a low risk or an elevated risk for one of the conditions.  I had worked myself up into quite a lather about this test because I am always fearing and anticipating the worst (however correctly or incorrectly).  I had read there were a number of false positives on the test and that it often caused parents needless worry.  Why have the test then?  Well, I figured that we’d rather know than not know and encounter it in the delivery room.

I loved the doctor at this appointment.  Despite being almost 17 weeks, she couldn’t find the heartbeat consistently, so she calmly asked for the ultrasound machine.  We were a little tense, but she reassured us that since F had had 4 other pregnancies, it was likely that the baby had more room to hide.  She was just very calm.  Sure enough, the u/s revealed a baby with a beating heart.  It was moving its arms and legs but wasn’t quite as active as it had been at other appointments.  I suppose even fetuses have to sleep sometime!

It has been amazing that we have had so many u/s.  We were able to enter the holidays reassured that everything was ok with the baby and show off pictures to family of its development from an 8-celled embryo to 9, 10, 11, 13 and 17 weeks.  I’m glad that we have so much documentation!

The Alien World of the OB’s Office

We had our first appointment with the OB on Nov. 24, and we were 12w5d (almost 13 weeks).  We had agreed that F could use whatever OB she wanted, and she decided to stay with the OB practice she had seen for her own three kids AND her first surrogacy.  I was relieved that they had some experience with surrogacy.

An OB office is a very strange place for an infertile after time spent (served?) in the RE’s (reproductive endocrinologist AKA fertility doctor) office.  RE offices are grim places filled with anxious, stressed couples.  There is little smiling and often a great deal of physical and emotional pain due to cycling, bloodwork, drugs, ultrasounds and failure.  In contrast, the OB’s office is filled with sunshine and happy people.  Pregnant women in various stages waddled in.  Small children cooed and garbled, receiving none of the glares they would have received in a fertility clinic.  In short, J and I felt like we had entered an alien place.  It was like that episode of Grey’s Anatomy when Cristina stumbles upon the dermatology floor, and it is so clean and happy compared to her bloody, often-tragic world of surgery.  J looked at me and muttered that he wasn’t sure if he could handle all this happiness so early in the morning and almost felt like he needed a drink.  So did I.

Our appointment went well.  I was a little nervous when the doctor couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, but she quickly got the ultrasound machine.  I had also been reassured by friends that we would have at least one appointment during which they wouldn’t be able to find the heartbeat, so I was prepared.  Unfortunately, I had neglected to pass on that wisdom to J. 

The u/s quickly confirmed that everything with WB (our nickname for the baby) was fine. We saw it swim from one side of the sac to the other, and I was stunned a little freaked out by how long his legs were and how much longer than the rest of him they seemed.  If you’ve ever read Anne Rice’s Mayfair witch books and the Taltos in them, it is exactly what went through my mind!

It was the week of Thanksgiving, and we were very thankful to have yet another ultrasound confirmation that everything with WB was ok.  A weird thing happened when we returned to the waiting room:  we ran into people we know.  There are about a billion OB practices in the area, and it never occurred to me that we might run into people we knew, so I wasn’t prepared for it.  We haven’t exactly kept our infertility a secret, but we hadn’t advertised it either, and our recent success hadn’t been broadly advertised yet either.  I briefly considered trying to pretend I was there for a routine annual exam (since it’s also a gynecology practice) but since most people don’t bring their spouses to those, I decided to go with the truth.

It was my first experience spilling the beans–including that our pregnancy was a surrogate pregnancy–and the couple, there for the appointment for their second (and third–it’s twins!)–didn’t bat an eye at our news, which I appreciated.  You run all these scenarios through your head about what the reactions  you receive will be like and they are usually horrid, so it was a nice surprise that this couple said a simple, “that’s wonderful!”

Third Ultrasound and Released to the OB

11 weeks 1 day!

11 weeks 1 day!

Our third u/s with the clinic was on Nov. 14.  J and I felt a lot better going into this one and welcomed the chance to see how much the baby had grown.  Sure enough, the baby didn’t disappoint.  It was now only one day behind we were (it measured 11w1d and we were 11w2d) and was still very active.  All of us (J, F, the doctor, nurse and I) marveled at how much it moved. 

Best of all, the doctor finally released us from the clinic and to the OB!  We also had a due date of June 3, 2009.  It was weird leaving the clinic for the last time.  I had never left a clinic after success, and clinics become very familiar because you spend so much time there.  Since August, I had been there almost weekly (daily sometimes), and it had become routine.  But it was great being released because it meant that our pregnancy was normal, and that’s what we all wanted.

Second Ultrasound

second ultrasound 9 weeks

second ultrasound 9 weeks

All of us were pretty nervous as we gathered for the second ultrasound on Nov. 7.   Thankfully, we had nothing to worry about.  The baby had clearly grown and was now measuring only 2-3 days behind.  Even more remarkably, it was moving like crazy!  It was moving its little arms and legs wildly.  F has had 4 kids and was stunned at how active the baby was on the u/s.  And clearly, this baby liked the attention.  It was a HUGE relief for us. 

We hoped the doctor would release us to the OB, but he told us he wanted to see us one more time.  Finally, F and I both asked if everything was ok with the baby, and he reassured us that it was fine, but he wanted to make sure the twin wasn’t going to cause any problems.  I had forgotten that this clinic never volunteers info, and if you want to know something, you have to ask.  I was glad we finally had more information.

J and I took F and R (her husband) to lunch, and it was a much happier crowd than after our first u/s.

First Ultrasound: Happy and Sad at the Same Time

WB's first ultrasound

WB's first ultrasound

The clinic we used made you wait 4 full weeks before the first ultrasound.  This is longer than most other clinics, but they do it because by around 8 weeks, there should be no question about whether the heart is beating, which can happen if you have the u/s earlier.  It was a LONG 4 weeks, though.  I was reassured whenever F said that she was feeling nauseous because after constant monitoring while I was stimming and then three betas, you get used to the attention.

October 27 was a beautiful fall day with a vivid blue sky but a definite chill in the air.  J and I were both super nervous as we waiting with F and her husband in the waiting room for our appointment.  Finally, we were called back and at last it was the moment of truth. 

F clutched my arm excitedly as we saw two gestational sacs very clearly.  J and I were thrilled, but as the doctor remained silent while scanning, I remembered the important question.

“Are the hearts beating?” I asked nervously.

Finally, he replied, “I see one heart beating, but I’m not sure about the twin.” 

He spent a lot of time on the silent, unmoving twin before declaring that it had no heartbeat.  Sadly, it looked like it had stopped developing in the last week he told us.  If we had our first ultrasound earlier, we would likely have seen two beating hearts.  Not that it makes it better.

As if there were nothing else to see with the twin, the doctor moved back over to the live one.  He pointed out that it had the teddy bear shape appropriate for that stage.  And then I saw the baby begin to wiggle.  At first I thought the doctor was doing something, but then I realized that it was the baby moving.  It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen.  At the end of the appointment, the doctor, never known for his tact or empathy, said, “Aren’t you glad you put three embryos back?” I could have cheerfully hit him. 

F, J and I were a sober crowd as we returned to the waiting room.  On the one had, I was soooo happy to have seen the beating heart on the one baby.  On the other hand, I was devastated to see that the twin hadn’t made it.  And it was as clear as day.  I couldn’t believe how sad I was over that tiny, tiny baby, but I was.  It was a shock.  I had expected to see one baby or no baby, maybe even two babies if we were lucky, but it never occurred to me that I would see one live baby and one dead one. 

And I won’t deny that we would have been thrilled with twins.  One of the bitterest pills infertility has made me swallow is that we may only be able to have one child due to treatment success (or lack thereof) and money.  I’m an only child who once wanted a 5 kids.  Having twins would have been wonderful.  Family complete!  Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Champagne after first ultrasound

Champagne after first ultrasound

J and I hugged, and I went back to work, but I kept crying and finally had to go home where I had a good cry for the other baby.  And I had another worry:  the doctor wanted to see us again in about 10 days, and I couldn’t decide if that’s b/c he was concerned about the remaining baby or if he wanted to check on the twin. 

And the baby’s first measurements seemed a little on the low side.  We were almost 9 weeks when we had our ultrasound, but it was measuring about 4 days behind.  I Googled “vanishing twin” and “ultrasound measurements” obsessively.  Having a vanishing twin at this stage of gestation was pretty normal and preferable to later.  As well, ultrasound measurements have an accuracy of +-4 days, so really, there wasn’t anything to worry about.  But I’m a champion worrier.

J and I had chilled a bottle of champagne to drink that night to celebrate good news at the u/s.  We hadn’t anticipated receiving mixed news, but we thought it was important to celebrate the good, no great news that we had received.  We had a baby with a heartbeat, and so as we toasted, we celebrated it and mourned our twin.