Go on Bed Rest Like It’s Your Birthday

(BTW, I haven’t responded to many of your lovely comments from a few posts ago. Sorry. I will get to them. As you’re about to see, I’ve been busy. And not in a fun, “I won a free trip to Cabo” kind of way.)

You know… there are times where I start worrying if the world has some massive beef with me that no one is telling me about.

If it keeps up like this, I’m going to become incredibly paranoid.

Oh, you think I’m already incredibly paranoid? Would you like proof the Universe is unusually interested in busting my balls? I submit for your consideration the following evidence:

Exhibit A: The Car Calamity

Last Monday, Mr. O got into a car accident. No one was hurt- whew! But the car wasn’t driveable, so we had to deal with the insurance company. You know how much I love insurance companies. On this Monday, we learned that they were totaling our car rather than fixing it. Oooookay…. The good-ish news is that we had already planned to buy a new-ish car to replace the 18-year-old rust bucket that I drive. We’ll just have to wait a little bit longer to replace it, that’s all. (Allow me to brag for a minute: 18 years old, rust holes the size of kittens, 273K miles, and it still has the best pick up of any car I’ve driven. And I haven’t had a car payment since 2007. #bragover)

Exhibit B: The Card Calamity

Last Thursday, Mr. O got a call from our bank to ask if we were currently at a Wal-Mart in Florida. (No.) Did we think some one was making unauthorized charges using our card at said Wal-Mart in Florida? (Yes.) Cue the canceling of cards and lots of paper work.

Sadly, I’m sort of used to this. With all the breaches at stores like Target and TJ Maxx over the years, we’ve had to replace our cards a few times. This is, however, the first time we’ve caught actual charges on one of our cards. It sucks, but this is what happens when we no longer use chickens to barter for goods. (I mean, it’d be pretty hard to pass off a fraudulent chicken…)

Exhibit C: The Head Cold Calamity

This Saturday was a busy day. We had a ton of morning errands to run, then an hour drive out to celebrate a friend’s birthday which was in the country. (This will be relevant. Sorta.) We got there, and about an hour later I started sniffling. Nothing crazy, just the sniffles. It gets worse. I think it is just allergies.

Sunday morning rolls around and I have full-on congestion. As you all know, pregnant ladies can’t take any decongestants. So I just get to sit there drowning in my own face for days. This isn’t fun for anyone, but I have particularly shit sinuses so I get lots of sinus pain and rolicking headaches. This also usually leads to me hating everyone for a few days for no other reason than they don’t have to breathe out of their mouths.

Exhibit D: The Cervix Calamity (which isn’t technically alliterative, but still works)

As if Sunday were delightful enough, I woke up with some light brown spotting. This didn’t send me into an immediate panic, but I still thought of calling my offices. They don’t have a 24 hour help line for nothing. The nurse says it is probably nothing but to call my doctor on Monday if it hasn’t stopped or has increased.

Monday, I stay home from work because of my exploding sinuses, and notice that the spotting hasn’t stopped. I call the office, and they recommend coming in for a check up… “just in case.” Fine. I can do “just in case.” I’m a HUGE FAN of “just in case.” I get an appointment for 3:00 pm.

Yesterday morning, I pee. Brown spotting is still there, but now accompanied by something a little more sinister- about half a teaspoon of brown goo. Like what you get at the end of your period. Soooo, I call the doctor and explain what’s happening, and can get squeezed in at 10:30 am.

At 10:30, I meet with my midwife (who I have vaguely mixed feelings about, but that’s another story.) She checks my vitals, asks me tons of questions, checks Chick’s heartbeat (which is stellar) then performs a manual inspection of my lady bits. Something doesn’t feel right. In the 7 weeks since my last ultrasound, my cervix has shortened quite a bit and has also softened a whole lot. Hence, the extra colorful discharge.

What a Stress Test on your birthday looks like.

What a Stress Test on your birthday looks like.

To make sure I’m not going into labor without knowing it, I am put on a stress test while I wait for the ultrasound doctor to see me (who very sweetly offers to give up her lunch break to fit me in.)

Least you have yet to experience the joys of a stress test, it is remarkably unremarkable. They strap you in with two monitors attached to your belly: one for the baby and one for your uterus. They want to get a baseline for the baby’s heart rate and measure your contractions. It also helps to determine if the baby is under any duress if you are having contractions. Mostly, I sat there reading People magazine…

After about 45 minutes hooked up to the machine, we determine that Chick is completely unbothered by this cervix business as is my uterus. We have a health heartbeat and no contractions. Thanks to People, I also determine that backless dresses are all the rage this season, and celebrities sometimes do their own grocery shopping.

At around 12:00, I’m taken to the ultrasound room. Mr. O joins me from work about 10 minutes in. The doctor is the same person who did our anatomy scan at 20 weeks, and I really like her. She’s calm, not too cute about the whole thing, and patiently answers my “What’s that thing over there?” questions.

Again, we determine that Chick is awesome. All the organs are growing nicely, very active (don’t I know it!) and weighing about 3.5 lbs. The placenta looks fine, there is plenty of amniotic fluid. In short, I have a healthy albeit shy baby who still doesn’t want anyone looking at his/her face.

What I don’t have is a lot of cervix. For unknown reasons, my cervix has shortened to 1.5 cm. This can lead to preterm labor, which isn’t not what any of us are rooting for.

At 30w6d, most of Chick’s organs are in good condition. The exception would be the lungs, which are the last to develop in any tiny human. In case I do go early, my midwife suggested I get a steroid shot that helps Chick with lung development. If he/she doesn’t make it to full term, this could shorten our time in the NICU.

I topped of this awesome day with a shot of steroids in my butt.

Oh, did I mention that it was MY BIRTHDAY? Say it with me… “FML.”

The important bits are this:

  • I am not in labor now, nor does it look like this is imminent.
  • I am on bed rest so as not to put more pressure on my tiny real estate of cervix. This will be re-evalutated on Saturday. If there hasn’t been any more leakage, contractions, and my cervix is playing nice, I can resume normal activities.
  • Chick is just not interested in any of this, and so keeps smacking my insides which I’m starting to actually find endearing.
Guess how I'll be spending my time?

Guess how I’ll be spending my time?

There is an echo here from my mom, strangely enough. You see, she was on bed rest for all three of her kids. (And this was before the Internet!) When I told my father, he sort of chuckled and said “Well, you are your mother’s daughter.” It’s worth noting, she had three healthy (though far from normal) children. This makes me feel better.

Also in the eerie connection department, I just so happen to have my mother’s copy of Anna Karenina. It is the exact copy she read while on bed rest with me. The cover is so 1970’s, I can hardly stand it.

So… got any ideas to keep an anxious pregnant lady entertained and not Googling while she is immobile?

Heartbeats

Yesterday, Mr. O and I went in for our 6 week ultrasound. I’d been nearly convinced that I would get there, and they would tell me that there was, in fact, no baby inside. A Hot Wheels car? A Hershey’s Kiss? What about a Hermit crab?  All these things seemed much more plausible.

So imagine my genuine surprise when the ultrasound tech found a tiny lima bean hanging out in my uterus. A tiny lima bean with a tiny flickering heartbeat. Fluttering like a small hummingbird. It was awesome.

Afterwards, we met with Dr. Petrel. She was her usual peppy, matter-of-fact self. According to how my little hummingbird is progressing, we have a due date of August 13th. It now feels real.

Mr. O and I sat in her office a little gobsmacked. I completely lost control of my brain. All the smart questions I wanted to ask about potential complications, medications I should be taking, physical activities I should be avoiding… GONE. I just stared ahead at her file cabinet.

In the meantime, Dr. Petrel went over the results of our IVF (besides the obvious successful implantation.) As you all know, I started out with 13 oocytes, 10 fertilized, and then only 3 made it to Day 3. We implanted one, and we have one leftover. That embryo is in excellent condition, we are told. It has a very high grading- it is practically a valedictorian. So if we want to do this again sometime, we have one lovely embryo for FET.

I could feel the conversation winding down, my opportunity to ask all my questions being gently ushered out the door. It’s like that moment in A Christmas Story, when Ralphie is losing out on his one chance with Santa. I was blowing it! Blowing it!

So I quickly spewed all my questions, in no particular order. And as always, Dr. Petrel gave me concise, articulate answers. Some highlights:

  1. We didn’t have a lot of embryos make it, which may have something to do with my egg quality. But it may not. In her eyes, getting pregnant is a little bit like the lottery. So many things have to go right, even if you’re starting off with quality ingredients.
  2. We basically got an entire years worth of trying out in one shot (12 months in a year, 13 oocytes.) Of those 13, 2 were viable. If we had waited another year of conceiving naturally (when I’d be 37) then egg quality would be of a bigger concern from her standpoint.
  3. I can exercise, but nothing crazy. Some light jogging is okay, and nothing that elevates my heart rate over 140. So no more half marathon training for me. The reason they want you to keep things light after IVF is because your ovaries are still very swollen, and there could be some twisting if you’re not careful. (Twisting ovaries. Ouch.)
  4. I can stop taking just about all my meds. My PCP before I moved to Dr. Finch had me on so many damn vitamins which I don’t need. (Given her lackadaisical attitude toward my care, I am not surprised.) I’m now just taking a prenatal vitamin and continued progesterone. No more estrogen patches, fish oil, or additional Folic Acid and vitamin D.
  5. We have another ultrasound in 2 weeks. At that point, we will be considered a “normal” pregnancy. Like this whole IVF thing never happened. I will part ways with my beloved Petrel and will need to find a regular ol’ OB/GYN.

Though still not elated (as I’ve expected myself to be this whole time,) I felt tons better after the appointment. I don’t want to count my ostriches before they hatch (HA!) but I started to feel like maybe this would work out. Maybe the hardest part would be over.

Remember: this is my life we’re talking about. There is no joy without pain, no sunshine without rain.

I get back to work, and actually work. Since I was not fixated on my fertility, I was able to get down to business. So many spreadsheets! There were even graphs and cogent conclusions based on said graphs! At around 4:45, I started to wind down when I got an email from my dad.

On Friday, my mom’s condition took a weird turn. Among a few complications, her heart has started to act “weird.” (Weird. It’s a medical term, I swear.) It will stop for a few seconds, then start up on its own. Her surgeon is recommending that we sign a DNR on her heart. And my dad wanted to talk about it with me and my siblings.

The sad poetry of all this isn’t lost on me. My mother’s heartbeat starts to give out on the day I learn I have two.