Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Results Are In!

Well, they came in last week, actually.

And everything looks good; that's about as much information as they provided me. I'm going to have to wait for a visit to the midwife to get a little more information about exactly WHAT chromosomal abnormalities besides D.S. they tested for, but we're happy little campers for the moment. Woo!

Also, since they did a chromosome analysis and since we're nothing if not curious, we found out the sex. A boy.

And look, I gotta be honest - I think I was on the road to convincing myself it was going to be a girl - in fact, I think we both were. We had a cool name picked and everything. I'd been starting to think of happy crafty days, making twee little puppets etc with a wee girl in tow. And now, stereotype though it is, I'm imagining some little monkey who'll be more interested in grubbing in the dirt for mould or interesting beetles. Is it bad to admit to a little disappointment over gender?

I suppose the thing I'm most worried about is maintaining a good mother-son relationship. Which is weird, since in our family, the mothers and sons have usually done pretty well, so I'm not sure why I'd feel that I'd be distanced from my own little feller. But, being me, I propelled myself into the distant future, with a sulky teenager locked in his room, refusing to discuss bullying or some such concern, and me feeling unable to communicate well with him. Borrowing trouble much? I realise it's all slightly (??) ridiculous to go through all this, but it's my nature to worry about things that are totally off the scale.

TL;DR: It's good news! And it's a boy! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting by the phone..

Amnio results due today. Apparently.

*tap .... tap .... tap ... tap .. tap . tap taptaptaptap*

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Progesterone is NOT my friend!

No, it's not. Not by a long-shot. So, when you're pregnant, your progesterone levels shoot up. Apparently this little hormone controls a lot of stuff to do with your digestive tract, so a lot of the lovely feelings you get during 1st and 2nd trimester pregnancy - nausea, bloating, constipation, I'm talking to YOU! - are due to these increased progesterone levels. I think I'm largely out of the woods when it comes to the nausea and constipation these days, but bloating is the current bane of my life. I feel like someone's pumped up my stomach to 100psi with a bike pump, and it does NOT feel good. And no, I can't just burp it out, and not for want of trying.

All the awesome things you never knew about pregnancy. Weeeee!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prenatal Anxiety

So! something that's NOT about a medical procedure then...

Anxiety is something I suspect all first-time parents go through. And hey, possibly second, third and fourth time parents? Not that I'm anxious all the time - far from it. In fact, probably during my waking hours, I don't think too much about baby-related things (blog posts aside).

Sleeping is a different matter. I don't baby-dream every night - but often enough, and they're never positive. Baby not feeding, baby rejecting, baby being miscarried, all similar types. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out the whys and wherefores.

I just wish I has a positive dream once in a while, y'know?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Awesome Husband

"Awesome" is probably a word that features far too frequently in my vocabulary at the moment - but here I think it's judiciously applied.

My hubby IS awesome.

For the last 3-4 months, I have been the most miserable, bedraggled, pathetic excuse for a creature that ever there was. Nausea and sensitivity to smells are pretty effective at getting me curled up in a corner of a room wishing I'd never been born (or at least wishing I'd never had the idea of extending the family tree further than myself!).

Throughout this whole time, hubby has been *entirely* loaded with cooking, cleaning, washing up, laundry, shopping, and looking after cats, on TOP of his regular day job.

And not only that, he does it all with a smile and a cuddle. The man is super-human.

I am lucky beyond belief.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

IVF Hijinx

Today's a slow day - work has decided to give me the flick since Christmas, a state of affairs which might last two weeks, or two months, or - at worse - indefinitely. Time to start looking for a new job, methinks.

But in the meantime, as I have time to spare, I'll splurge again on the blawg.

To begin with: amniocentesis results? Due two days ago. I got a call from the doctor - apparently both samples of fluid were contaminated with my blood (they had no choice but to drill through the placenta, as the jelly bean had placed its head in the only placenta-free zone). This meant that they couldn't do the 'fast' analysis and get back to me with the Down's Syndrome results. I'm told the full results should be in by the 19th. It's starting to get a little tight, as the cut-off date for termination is 20 weeks, and I reach that on the 29th. But then, I don't have the anatomy scan till the 22nd, so let's see.

But I digress from my main topic of the day .. which was going to revisit the not-quite-IVF experience I had leading up to this moment.

We'd been trying for almost four years - and finally the local doctor eyeballed my birthdate and muttered, "Best we just refer you to IVF, really..". So, off we went.

We met with a slightly-too-intense doc at the IVF clinic, who shuddered visibly when I came up with the word "barren" - what, was I not being PC enough?? Anyway, she put me and hubby down for umpteen tests. Blood tests to check chromosomal compatibility, hormone levels, and gawd knows what else. Sperm tests for the man, and a good all-over invasive physical for me (interior and exterior ultrasound).

I think the sperm testing and physicals were the worst of it. Fortunately these days, they will permit semen collection at home - you get a little 'party-pack' to take home - but frankly, unless you're a darts champion, I think you'd be lucky to catch the required ... uh .. volume .. in the little specimen jar they provide. Hilarity ensues as you desperately flag down a taxi, trying to keep the little wrigglers warm in a pocket. You make it to the clinic to turn in your jar, and are rewarded with a raised eyebrow, and a comment along the lines of: "Is this complete??".

The physical wasn't much fun either. For the external ultrasound a full bladder was required, but that was the worst of it. Nothing particularly abnormal was discovered. For the internal, they shove a big ultrasound dildo up your hoo-haw, and have another good look. That was a lot LESS funny. They discovered a couple of uterine polyps (nothing serious, but they may have been affecting implantation), and they also tested that my fallopian tubes were unobstructed, by forcing - and I MEAN forcing - some kind of liquid through them. As I discovered later, sometimes patients are sedated when this procedure is done. While I think this is probably overkill, the tube on the left hurt like buggery as they were trying to open it up. Yowsers! I didn't bellow though, and held relatively still, so they gave me a lollipop afterwards, for being such a brave girl.

The results of all our tests showed that besides the polyps, hubby and me were absolutely normal. There was no real reason why we weren't conceiving. Intense-Doc thought the polyps were very small, and shouldn't have caused much of a problem, but she recommended a D&C anyway, so away I went. As far as day surgeries go, it was one of the nicest experiences I'd had. Friendly, efficient hospital staff, the most awesome general anaesthetic ever (I still fondly recall that moment of transition between shivering with cold/nerves on the operating table and the soothing warmth that relaxed every fibre in my body), and a gentle wake-up with tea and toast in a comfy chair. These people were Professionals! The only small criticism I had was that they neglected to remind me that after a D&C there may be some small amount of blood. I'd just changed back into my (light khaki) trousers when I felt a rapid trickle, and looked down to see my trousers soaked with blood, with a nice long streak running from crotch to knee. Yargh! Needless to say, the entire way home, I tried to back along walls etc in a subtle attempt to conceal the worst of it.

All this happened around May 2008. And maybe the D&C was all that was needed... 4 months later, *something* went right, after all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


For those not in the know, amniocentesis is a medical procedure they sometimes perform on mums-to-be to make sure that junior isn't chromosomally abnormal. The actual procedure is pretty simple - they stick a foot-long needle into your abdomen - hopefully puncturing your uterus and the amniotic sac within - and suck out a few millilitres of amniotic fluid. Okay .. maybe I exaggerated about the length of the needle. But not by much.

Typically, amnio isn't offered to women unless:

a) they're above a certain age where risks of foetal abnormality increase, or
b) they've had other scans (e.g. nuchal translucency) which shows that the probability of foetal abnormality is fairly high.

The reason for this is that the amnio itself isn't risk free. At worst, there's about a 1/200 chance that the procedure will result in miscarriage. So if you had gone and had a nuchal translucency and the risks of Down's Syndrome were 1/1000 - many medicos would refuse to carry on with an amnio (even if you wanted to be 100% sure), simply because the risk of a miscarriage as a result of the amnio was 5 times greater than the risk of having the Down's Syndrome baby at all.

BUT. Those are both probabilities of risk. What about consequence? If the 1/200 amnio miscarriage came up - that'd be nasty, and upsetting, and all manner of sad things. But if you're lucky, there's always the chance to have another go. If your 1/1000 (let's say) Down's Syndrome chance comes up, that's it. You have a child who will be cognitively impaired (to a greater or lesser extent), be more vulnerable to all sorts of nice little syndromes, cancers and other diseases, and will have a significantly shorter than normal life-expectancy. If severely cognitively impaired, then it's likely that your Down's Syndrome child will never grow up to be an independent, productive person in society.

Despite what it sounds like, I'm not a rabid communist, or madly in favour of eugenics. And I know I'm not in the minority when it comes to wanting to abort a foetus with significant chromosomal problems. If I'm going to bring someone into this world, I want it to be a little human being who has the best possible start in life ... no matter what comes later. After 4 years of trying, I don't make these decisions lightly.

So - I had the nuchal translucency (results as above), and then, yup, I went ahead and had the amnio. I'd wanted to go straight to the amnio, but I guess that the risk of miscarriage has all the doctors around here a bit jumpy, so they forced the nuchal on me anyway.

The amnio procedure wasn't as bad as I'd imagined - despite how it sounds, I'd rate it somewhat above a flu jab on the 'pain' scale, and probably below the needle stick you have when you're giving blood. Or about the same. Either way, nothing to write home about. After the operation was entirely another matter, however! I'll preface this with a disclaimer: I am not normally squeamish about medical goings-on. I've had quite a few things done over the course of my life - many of them pretty unpleasant - but at the end of them, I was generally just relieved it was all over, and ready to get the hell outta there! This time? Different story entirely. So fluid was collected, needle was out, all was looking A-OK, and I started feeling a little woozy. I closed my eyes - sometimes I get a little head-spinny, and can just ride it out with a few deep breaths. But that strategy didn't appear to be serving me well. Woozy graduated to dizzy, and dizzy upped the ante. I didn't actually pass out, but felt extremely hot, felt like the heart was hammering, and that I just couldn't get enough air. This all became pretty apparent to the hospital staff, because they tipped the bedhead down into a most uncomfortable U-shape (yes, yes, get the head down, I know), and clamped an oxygen mask on my face. And the weirdest thing - given how I felt - was apparently my pulse was very slow, and my skin was very cold and clammy. I love it when the body gives you 'opposite' signals (temperature goes up, you feel cold, etc). At about the point where they were exhorting me to breathe slowly (in through the nose, out through the mouth), I started feeling pretty darn queasy. Yup - I was gonna realise one of my big panics, and hurl in front of a large number of people, and I had nothing to vomit into. I warned them what was coming, and they almost got the mask away fast enough, but no buckets - so I was puking into my hand in an effort not to cover their expensive ultrasound equipment in partially digested berry smoothie. Had I also mentioned that my pants were around my knees for this whole incident? So much for standing on one's dignity. *sigh*

Anyway .. after the vomiting, I actually felt much better - woot! The first time ever that I've felt GOOD after puking!

First Trimester Down...

So, here I am, posting from 16 weeks in.

You know how some women are definitely the Earth Mother types? Broad of hip, and generous of rack, they exude fecundity and the glowingness of impending motherhood? You know those people?

I'm not one of them.

Apart from the fact that I started off on the slightly scrawny side, I have worked out from the last 12 weeks of HELL, that pregnancy doesn't really agree with me. Not that I have any extreme tales of uber puke-fests to impart, nothing like that. Just 12 long weeks of feeling more or less continuously queasy, NO interest in food, combined with instructions to 'nibble' continuously to keep the queasiness down, and the occasional noisy hurl (apparently, it's possible to do this quietly, but I haven't mastered the art).

Also, the enhanced sense of smell thing? Oh it's true. Boy is it true - but it's no good AT ALL. As far as I can tell, my nose has become majorly picky about a) kitchen smells (can't stand them - ANY of them), and b) laundry soap smells (we're running through different brands of laundry soap to try to find one which doesn't make me want to gag when I smell the end result on clothes).

Earth Mother types go through all this and more, I don't doubt. But they DEAL with it - they gird their gag reflexes, and march on into a wonderful second trimester.

Me? I spent almost 3 months lying on the sofa like a tubercular swan. No venturing outside (too nervous to stray far from my porcelain safety blanket), eating the blandest of foods, and alternating between stomach-curdling nausea, and feeling so bloated that I was tempted to stick a drawing pin in my stomach just to relieve some of the built-up pressure.

Anyway .. everything eased up a little over Christmas - thank heavens - and I've finally stopped berating myself on the general foolishness of ever, ever wanting to procreate. That's not to say that I'm under any illusion that my body actually belongs to me at the moment. My stomach still likes to twist itself into knots, rather than inform me in the usual 'polite' way that it's empty and would like some food - so eating is still a bit of a battle between 'need food' and 'don't want food'. I still can't bear certain smells, and from what I've read, this might well last until the little sucker is squeezed out. And gas? Boy, you could live on a diet of pure legumes, and I could STILL out-fart you. Yeesh.

Impending motherhood may be glorious for some, but not for THIS little fat cow, my friends...