Friday, October 28, 2011

The 2ww

No, I am not reminiscing the days of the Second World War. I'm talking about the dreaded "two weeks wait". It's that nerve-racking time between an embryo transfer and taking a pregnancy test. It's two weeks of going crazy, oscillating between mad hope and utter despair. It's two weeks of trying to find things to do so you won't thing about the 2ww. And there aren't many things that will take my mind of it.

So far, I have:

  • Wrote emails to catch up with old friends: 2h

  • Been to the playground with J: 2h

  • Watched the news episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice on my computer: 45 min each

  • Had a massage: 2h

  • Checked out kindergartens for J: 1h

  • Read infertility forums about the success rate of an IVF, about how to increase the chances of IVF and about what to do in the 2ww: 3h

  • Obsessed about the 2ww: 4h

  • Updated blog: 30 min.

  • Taken my meds: 10 min

  • Contemplated cutting and/or dying my hair: 5 min

  • Elaborated my Halloween menu (blood soup, bat saliva strings and carnaged pumpkin, since you ask): 20 min
13 days to go. Oh my... My upcoming distractions include a trip to the dentist, visits to prospective kindergartens, and Halloween - which includes pumpkin carving, a kiddie party and cooking. That's not a whole lot to do when you can't even go to work because that means running around for 10 hours a day. No, I'm not a pro athlete, only an event organizer.

Suggestions are welcome. I'll take anything, really.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More than a year later

I am probably the worst blogger ever. There is more than a year gap since the last entry! In my defence, a lot of things have happened in the past year. We have moved countries twice, changed jobs, travelled the world, only to come back in Hong Kong where we belong. Little J is no longer a baby, but a little boy who wants to do everything by himself and is just a joy to mother day after day. I know every parents says this about their kids, and we all mean it. He is the light of our lives and makes all the trouble and bedrest so worthwile.

Enough gloating about my perfect son. Back to business. I am either really insane or suffering from amnesia because we are ready to try for another sunshine to light up our lives even more. How I will manage 6 months of bedrest with a toddler, I do not know. I haven't figured it out yet. All I can think about right now is how a newborn smells sooo good, how their tiny hands wrap around your finger and won't let go, and how it feels to have a baby you can cuddle non-stop as opposed to an 18 months old who is too busy pretending that a door stop is a truck. Hubby looked at me strangeley while I whipped up all my romantic memories from bedrest, trips to the hospital, fears, blood tests and IVF. But here we are, or rather, here I am, poking myself with needles daily and being so loaded up with hormones that I make Godzilla look like a fluffy puppy. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Crappy day

Well this one is hitting me like a wall. I don't know how it started. I've been feeling pretty bad ever since one of my friends' baby was born at 28 weeks and I saw her pictures on Facebook. It brought everything back so vividly. I can even hear the beeps of the alarms in B's NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Then, for some stupid reason, I read about the new British Prime Minister, who lost a little girl due born prematurely. She was just 10 days old.

And here I am, bawling my eyes out while J is napping next to me. Tomorrow, O and B would have been 18 months old.

It's difficult for me to imagine how they would have been if they had survived. Since they were born so early, who knows what disabilities they would have had. Maybe they would have had cerebral palsy. Maybe they would have been blind, or deaf, or on an oxygen tank. Or maybe they would have been just fine. Happy, little twins toddling around with a big smile, black eyes and black curly hair. There are no words to explain how much I miss them and how much I would give my life just to hold them for one hour.

I feel so guilty, not only because J is here, warm, alive, healthy, happy, and that's more than a lot of people will ever have, but also because if O and B would have survived, then he would have never lived. They were our family: two children, one boy, one girl. Perfection. Many of the women in my support group speak of a huge gap in their family... I have lost my entire family and had to build a new one. The guilt is terrible... if it weren't for my sweet babies dying, this little boy would have never been. I can't imagine my life without his smiles and his baby smell, but I also want my twins back.

Crappy crappy crappy day

Thursday, April 29, 2010

And then came a rainbow...

On Saturday 17 April, my life suddenly made sense again... Jeremy Alexander was born safely into my arms, screaming and healthy.

But let's back up a bit: as you all know, I was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy at 35 weeks. This condition is what caused one of my friends' sweet baby boys to be born into Heaven. I was determined to monitor this very closely. Two days after my initial blood test, I went back on my own initiative to have another one taken. I didn't even tell my OB about it :-) The same evening (Friday), I was admitted to L&D for strong contractions every 20 min. My wonderful, dedicated, patient doctor had me stay overnight because I was worried and in his own words, he has learned that a mother's instincts are always right. In the morning of the 17th, he came in to see me and the contractions were gone. He said he would be back in the afternoon to sign my discharge form. He came back at 2pm, with a concerned look on his face: my "secret" blood test had come back and my acid levels had doubled in just 2 days. Jeremy had a 50/50 chance of making it to term, and no one was willing to risk it. I was immediately scheduled for a c-section even though the Bean was only 36w2d.

I called hubby, who was on his way to pick me up from the clinic, and told him that our baby was coming NOW. I think he had quite a few speeding tickets on his way to the hospital! I spent the next 1h30 with the doppler on my belly, being prepped for surgery. It was so surreal... I knew the Bean's lungs were at risk of not being mature enough, but since I had had two round of steroid shots during the pregnancy, it was most likely be ok. Walking into the OR, with the same anesthetist who was there for my stitch, with my husband by my side and my baby about to come was an incredible feeling. As I was laying on the table, I started crying uncontrollably because I was missing the twins so much. I think that I was getting the last crumbs of intense grief out, to be ready to fully welcome this new baby...

At 4.10pm, the silence in the OR was suddenly broken by the cry of a baby. I had never heard it and it was a complete, yet wonderful shock. The sheet in front of me was lowered and there was my baby boy! I think the image of this little man, screaming, kicking his legs, is going to be engraved in my memory for ever.

For the funny anecdote, my first comment was "he's tiny!" (5.4lbs) and my OB said "yes, but he's got a big willy! that's all that counts". Try laughing with a spinal and my belly opened... I love that man. If it wasn't for his dedication and his immense trust in maternal instincts, Jeremy might have never been born alive. Which is why our son's middle name is my OB's first name.

Hubby cut the umbilical cord, and then they put the baby on my chest for 10 minutes. It was the most amazing feeling. Even with a c-section, it was a wonderful experience. Great music playing on the iPod dock station, my arms were free, the anesthetist was taking the pictures so that hubby could focus on his newborn son, I could hold him and stroke him. He wasn't whisked away to a NICU. It was perfect.

While I was being stitched up, hubby went to the nursery with the pediatrician to check that everything was ok. I remember laying on the table, a bit dizzy, feeling like I was floating, and I kept telling my doctor:"Alex, seriously, thank you for everything". I was crying so much and I kept repeating "thank you, thank you, thank you." I was saying it to my sweet little angels O. and B., I was saying it to the world, to the cosmos, to God with whom I have finally made peace, to all the people that supported me during this pregnancy, to life, to destiny, to everything I could think of.

When I was wheeled back to my room, J. was still not there and I panicked a bit. I thought he was having trouble and the nurse was being a bit too cheerful for my taste! You know the tone that medical people take when something might be wrong but they don't want to worry you? That one. But it seems that everything was fine, and exactly 1h20 min after being born, J. was placed on my chest where he immediately started feeding! He stayed there for about 10 hours (I'm not kidding), because it's been proven that skin-to-skin contact is extremely beneficial for preemies. It was the shortest 10 hours of my life...

The rest is too crazy to write in just one entry. Suffice to say that J. is home, he is gorgeous, he is perfect, even when he wants to eat for 2h at 3am!

This baby saved my life. He is the light at the end of the tunnel. He turned darkness into light, death into life, sorrow into joy, despair into hope. They don't call them "rainbow" for nothing... O. and B. will always be our babies, they will always take a huge place in our hearts and in our lives. They are our guardian angels, a soft glow in our lives that will never go away. We have three children now, and it feels wonderful. I am so grateful to each one of you and to life in general. Miracles do happen, life does happen. I've got a baby to show for it

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's that now?

Ever heard of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy? It's not only a word that can get you lots of point in Scrabble, or make you look very intelligent in a party. It's the name of a nasty pregnancy-related condition which affects 1-2 women in a 1'000. And guess what?? I'm one of them!! Lucky me.

To put it simply, it means that the levels of acids in the bile rise, spill into the bloodstream (and the placenta, of course) during pregnancy. If not managed in time, it can cause stillbirth. The only symptom is intense itching.
So when I started scratching my legs like a mad dog this weekend, I didn't wait a second and called my new favorite OB. He ordered a blood test and confirmed yesterday that I had this lovely disease. Oh joy. Just another thing to worry about.

After a massive breakdown last night, hubby called Dr. D. and got him to agree to deliver this little monster earlier than planned. The baby will still be full-term (37 weeks) and will be at less risk of stillbirth. Which means that I have another 7 days to freak out before finally holding our miracle in my arms. That's going to be 7 days from hell. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Freedom is within reach

35 weeks 1 day: just 6 days to go on bedrest! Well, that's what I'm telling myself. My new doctor wants me to keep "taking it easy" until the end. And since I have no idea of what his idea of taking it easy implies, I'm going to do as I wish. I mean, the man was so not concerned about my cervix at the last check-up that he didn't even bother to measure it. Hence, taking it easy means no dancing, no marathon running, and no pole-dancing.

Oh ok...time to come clean: I won't be able to get off bedrest, even when I'll be allowed to. Boohoo. Let me explain. For the non-mums and non-pregnant ones, pregnancy is not as easy and glamorous as one might think. I'm actually very angry at Heidi Klum for spreading the image of a 9 months pregnant woman strutting around in heels and designer clothes, with a glowing skin and a big smile. Damn her. Truth be told, the third trimester is very ugly. My face is fat, my hair is impossible to keep under control, I have pimples popping up randomly, and I've lived in sweats for the past 5 1/2 months. But that's not what will keep me on my couch. My feet will. If I stand or sit for more than 30 minutes, my legs swell and my feet resemble furiously those of an elephant. Plus, they hurt. How the hell does Heidi bloody Klum manage to walk around in heels?!
My walking around in 6 days is promising to be very interesting and challenging.... I'll let you know how it goes. If you see someone hopping around in town, with very fat and red legs, that's me.

On the growth side, little Bean is still well, little. I will definitely have a skinny long-legged baby. But the little monster is growing within the same range so the new Dr. D. told me not to worry too much. Huh? Has he met me?? I have been worrying about every single little thing for the past 246 days. Worrying is my natural state of being. Good thing that it goes hand in hand with motherhood :-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

There's something new...

Let's start with the great news: I'm 34 weeks and my rock star of a cervix is measuring 3.8cm! I decided I would no longer worry about it, nor these stupid BH contractions.

But there is something new to worry about: the Bean is tiny...

On Monday, I got a call from Dr. G's office, telling me he had to take an emergency leave of absence. When I asked when he would be back, I got a very Asian reply:"we will keep you posted". They have mastered the art of talking while not saying much. A day later, I started hearing scary rumors. Hong Kong is a tiny place, with a small expat community who loooooves to gossip. I got a mail from a friend telling me Dr. G had had a stroke. What?! My cesarean is scheduled for the 29th and my doctor has a stroke?! Panic aboard. I needed to get to the bottom of this. So I called his office and my conversation with his nurse went like this:

Me:"I've heard Dr. G had a stroke, and I'd like to know where I can send flowers" (haha, lame excuse to get the truth out of her)
Her:"No, he didn't have a stroke"
Me: "..."
After 2 minutes of silence, I gave up and hung up the phone. Damn her.

I found another high-risk OB working in the same hospital, highly recommended by several women with pregnancies as complicated as me, and he agreed to seeing me. Very nice man, and very thorough. I like him a lot. BUT he freaked me out. My little Bean is apparently measuring 2 weeks smaller than he/she should be! The head is big, but the tummy is tiny. We're going to need to follow the growth very closely and...wait for it... possibly deliver early if the Bean is not growing well! Pardon my French, but WTF?! I've worked so hard to get to term, and now something I have no power over is going to make the Bean premature. It's so demoralizing and depressing.

I got home, worried, and then did what no pregnant woman should ever do: I googled. Google is an evil tool. Within 5 minutes, I was reading all about a condition called intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), that can cause stillbirth. A full-blown panic attack ensued before my hubby took the laptop away from me. I'm going to have to spend the whole week worried sick, overeating to try and get this little one to put on weight and not knowing what's going on. I'm honesly tired of this pregnancy. I just don't get a break.

Gotta go get preemie clothes and diapers now... :-(