Duncan’s birth story (pt. 1)

36-week pregnancy photo

Baby Duncan has been home for a bit over a month now, so I’m finally getting around to writing up his birth story. As I was getting close to my due date, I read a lot of birth stories on my favourite blogs so that I’d be able to recognize the signs of labour. Turns out I didn’t need any of that insight, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

On the Wednesday exactly 2 weeks before my April 5th due date, I was busy wrapping things up at work, since I was set to start my maternity leave at the end of the week. I was 38 weeks and the physical exhaustion had really hit me, so I was intending to work from home on Thursday and Friday. I kept telling everyone that I hoped baby would let me enjoy my week off before his due date, since I really just needed to sleep.

38-week pregnancy photo

I spent some time tying up loose ends and getting my cubicle cleaned up, stuffing my personal items in plastic bags to bring home at the end of the day.

Mid-morning, I left my office to head to my weekly prenatal appointment. My OB did the usual blood pressure check,and then checked it again. And then went looking for another blood pressure cuff to check again. I’d been experiencing several symptoms of pre-eclampsia for weeks with massively swollen feet, occasional blurry vision and upper-right quadrant abdominal pain, but my blood pressure, blood work and urine tests were always fine. I’d been warned that my blood pressure might shoot up at any time, and if that were to happen, the only treatment would be delivery. After my doctor asked me to lie down for a while before she checked my BP again, it started sinking in that maybe that’s what was happening. She confirmed that my BP was quite high and when she checked me, she found that I was 3 cm dilated. She told me I’d be having this baby sooner rather than later, and I agreed to a membrane sweep to encourage labour. My doctor then laid out a few options.

She could send me over to triage and they could decide if they’d send me to labour and delivery for an induction, or I could go home and wait and see, and if I hadn’t gone into labour in a couple days, or if my BP went up or other symptoms got worse, I’d have to get induced then. I was a bit overwhelmed and didn’t know which option to choose, so she called ahead to triage to find out how busy things were over there. They weren’t busy at all, so we decided that I’d go over there and see what they thought. Before I left, I picked up paperwork from the receptionist and made an appointment for Friday for if I hadn’t had the baby by then. I asked her if I needed to go straight to triage or if I had time to go back to my office. She told me I could take my time, so as I walked back to my office, I called Mike. I gave him the update, and asked him to come meet me before going to the hospital. I told him that it might happen but it might not, but he should bring the hospital bags just in case. I’d mostly finished packing the bags the prior weekend, but I asked Mike to add a few items, including my makeup, blow dryer and flat iron. I don’t know. I thought I was going to be Kate Middleton glam. I was not. I was worried about making sure Mike grabbed the right blush brush, while he was stressing over the fact that we hadn’t installed the car seat yet. I kept reassuring him (and myself) that it maybe/probably wouldn’t happen. They’d maybe/probably just send us home.

At my office, I responded to a couple emails and then went and let me boss know. “So, um, I might be having this baby soon.” I grabbed my things, which I’d fortunately gotten all packed up, and went to the lobby to wait for Mike. At the hospital, we decided to grab lunch before heading to triage, since I wasn’t sure what would happen and when we’d have a chance to eat.

At triage, the nurse had me change into a gown, and put me in a room to wait for someone to come examine me. After waiting a while, another nurse came in and asked if I wanted to go ahead and get induced. “Now?” I’d expected someone would come check my BP again, do an exam, give me more medical information to base a decision on. I turned to Mike and asked, “Should we do this? Since we’re already here?” Might as well, we decided. I figured that this way we were here, everything was nice and controlled. If we went home, we risked a middle of the night, or worse, a middle of rush hour labour, or we’d just end up in the same place in a couple days anyway.

With the decision made, we walked over to the labour & delivery room. We were going to be meeting our little one soon!

(To be continued)

22-week pregnancy update

20-week ultrasound

Happy December!

Since I last shared my pregnancy news and the story of our complications, things have been progressing well. I ended up spending a total of 1 month on bed rest before heading back to the office. I took it easy though, since I wasn’t officially taken off bed rest for another two weeks after that. Some of the original concerns seem to have resolved, while a couple of unexpected new issues cropped up that may or may not become problems. Apparently I have a bunch of large placental lakes and the umbilical cord is eccentric, meaning it inserted into the placenta off centre, which can prevent the baby from getting enough nutrients as it grows. The baby’s growth is now being monitored a bit more frequently, but so far he’s doing perfectly well. Yes, I said he! We found out we are having a baby boy at our 20-week anatomy scan.

The ultrasound tech had asked us if we wanted to hear her guess about sex a few weeks earlier, and she told us she thought the baby was a boy. I figured that she probably wouldn’t have given us her guess if she didn’t really know, so we were pretty confident we were having a boy, but it was still fun to get the confirmation at the 20-week ultrasound. I didn’t have a preference at all, but I’m really excited to raise a boy. Growing up with just my sister and mom, the idea of having a little boy in the family seems so foreign!

20-week pregnancy photo

Earlier this week, for the first time, someone offered me a seat on the streetcar because she noticed I was pregnant, so I think I’ve officially transitioned from chubby-or-pregnant to definitely-preggers. My sister asked me earlier on how I was feeling about my body changing, and then and now I feel pretty much fine so far. I bet I’ll be feeling differently when I’m about to burst in a few months, though. Having clothes that fit comfortably definitely makes all the difference. I grew out of my pants pretty early on, and have been living in my H&M MAMA jeans. All my tops seemed to shrink overnight, so I picked up a few simple ruched tees from Old Navy, which are cute and comfy with my cardigans and jackets. A couple weeks ago I was at a maternity store looking for a dress for a Christmas party we went to, and another girl in the fitting room was just sobbing! Based on what I overheard, it was her first time shopping for maternity clothes, and I guess it wasn’t going well. Hormones, I’m sure. Poor girl 🙁

22-weeks-pregnant

Most exciting of all, I have started to feel the baby kick. I’d been getting uncomfortable stabby pains here and there, which I thought might be the baby (with a butcher knife), but last week I felt legit kicks for the first time. I felt two in a row and then put my hand on my belly and felt one from the outside, too. A few days later, Mike got to feel him for the first time. Especially with concerns about the baby’s growth, it’s wonderful to have a solid indication that he’s been growing bigger and stronger since our last appointment.

We’re starting to get ourselves organized with figuring out which baby things we need to get including the stroller, car seat and crib. There are so many options out there. Where do you even begin? Another question we’ve been asking ourselves is whether we want to go with cloth diapers instead of disposables. So many decisions to think about!

xo

Exciting baby news! (& a long story of our pregnancy complications)

pumpkin pregnancy announcement

Yep, I’m pregnant! I’m so excited to share that our IVF journey has successfully resulted in a pregnancy, with a due date of April 5th, 2017. Unfortunately it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. And not only due to my horrendous morning sickness.

frozen embryo transfer day 1

We transferred one of our 4 healthy BRCA- 6-day embryos on July 20th.  I was scheduled for a pregnancy test at the clinic 2 weeks later, but I did a home test a few days earlier. The home test came up as a clear positive, so we were excited that the embryo seemed to have taken. The test at the clinic confirmed that result and we were scheduled in for a 6 week ultrasound.

6-week ultrasound

At the 6-week ultrasound we saw and heard the heartbeat for the first time and everything was looking good, so we officially graduated from the fertility clinic and were referred to our new OB. We met her at our 12 week ultrasound. The ultrasound tech showed us the heartbeat again, and we saw our little baby who had its little hand curled up in front of one of its eyes. So cute already 🙂 We were told everything looked good and we were scheduled in for an appointment with the OB for 4 weeks later. By the next weekend we’d officially made it through the first trimester and we started sharing our pregnancy news with more friends. I even broke the news to my boss at work.

I was starting to feel good and I had actually had a couple vomit-free days and was starting to feel more energetic for the first time in weeks. But then, at 13 weeks 5 days, I had some bleeding. Continue Reading

IVF for PGD: Egg retrieval and genetic testing results

6to10cells

Since my last post, we froze some embryos, ran the SportingLife 10K and redecorated our bedroom. For now, I’m back with the update on our IVF cycle.

In my last IVF update, I shared that I was getting set to take the trigger shot and go in for the egg retrieval. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the egg retrieval was no big deal. I was given Fentanyl through an IV and then went in for the procedure. I was awake but slightly foggy. I didn’t feel much pain, just a bit of discomfort.

Leading up to the egg retrieval, we were told that we could expect getting around 10 eggs but they’d grab whatever they could. They managed to find 17! Knowing that they’d drop off at high rates, it felt good to start with that higher number. Every morning, the embryologist would give me a call with an update. It was kind of fun to wait for this call around 10 AM everyday. The downside is that they’re never going to call with an update that you’ve miraculously gotten more, you just hope they don’t drop off in large numbers.

The afternoon of the retrieval, they fertilized the eggs, and the next day I received a call that 16/17 of the eggs were mature, and 13/16 were successfully fertilized. By Day 2, there were 12/13. Those 12/13 also made it to Day 3. There was no update on Day 4. Since we were doing IVF for PGD, the objective was to biopsy and test Day 5 or 6 blastocysts. The number of fertilized eggs that make it to that stage can be pretty low, but I had youth on my side, so we were hopeful! The encouraging part is that those that make it to Day 5 or 6 are much more likely to result in successful pregnancy further down the line. It was still a bit of a bummer when these little tiny, 2-6 cell things stopped doing their cell division thing.

On Day 5, 5/12 were ready to be biopsied and on Day 6, 3/7 were biopsied. So of our initial 17 eggs, 13 were fertilized, and 8 made it to biopsy. The biopsy samples were sent off to a lab in the US, where they’d developed tests specific to us using genetic samples from Mike, me and my dad to screen for the BRCA 1 gene mutation that my mom passed on to me.

Each little blastocyst had a 50% chance of being positive for BRCA 1 mutation. On top of screening for BRCA 1, we also did PGS, which screens for a whole bunch of chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s Syndrome. Since embryos with chromosomal abnormalities usually won’t result in a successful pregnancy, the idea was to find BRCA negative embryos that were also chromosomally normal. On average, they expect to detect chromosomal abnormalities among about 40% of those tested, with that risk increasing with age. Once you find out these stats…how few fertilized eggs make it past the first few days, even without any fertility issues, it’s a wonder that anyone manages to get pregnant at all. But with 7+ billion people on earth, I guess it somehow works out!

We had to wait about 2 weeks to get the PGD genetic testing results, and during that period I felt curious but not stressed or nervous. I had been feeling a bit stressed out before, wondering how many would make it to Day 5 or 6. If we didn’t have many, we’d have to consider doing an additional cycle first, since the cost of genetic testing is so high, so it makes sense to test as many as possible at once. So that’s the question I was mostly going back and forth on.

When we found out we had 8, we decided we were cool with sending those off for testing without getting another batch. Based on the 40% and 50%, I was anticipating that we’d find out there were 1-3 healthy (BRCA negative + chromosomally good) embryos depending on how much overlap there was between those two risks. So I was pretty happy when I got the call that we had 4. So now our potential future babies are chilling in the freezer. My friend pointed out that they’re quadruplets since technically they were all conceived at the same time! Haha. I bet they’re so cute with all their tiny cells.

Oh, by the way, IVF helped me quit coffee! On the day of my egg retrieval, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, including my morning coffee. Thanks to the Fentanyl they gave me, I didn’t experience the usual coffee withdrawal headache and just decided to go with it and haven’t had a drop of caffeine since (over 3 weeks now!). Want to quit coffee? Try Fentanyl. Just kidding. Please don’t.