Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Postscript to the plane story

The story ran in this morning's local, regarding the small plane that my neighbor's son spotted while out working. Here's the link: Plane crash kills 2 near Petaluma

Monday, August 28, 2006

More of a day than I needed

Some days are kind of, I dunno, bigger than life. Just jam-packed with a few more events than are really required. Over-achieving days (which can be quite as annoying as over-achieving people). This one is showing indications of that.

Preparations for this day started back in July, when my aged father, who lives in a separate and far-away state (let's put it this way: you can't drive there in one day from here), found out he was going to need a second heart bypass operation. His first one, a triple, was back in 1991, and was quite successful. But two of the arteries had silted back up in the intervening 15 years, and had to be replaced once again.

As noted, we found out about this in July -- just when D. and I were getting ready to start the stim medications for our second IVF. The thing is, we had decided not to tell my dad that we were even trying for a family, since it was still pretty iffy at that point, and we didn't want to set him up for disappointment.

(Also, to be honest, I didn't want to hear any comments about the endeavor from my brother, who lives with my dad. My brother and I have a rotten relationship, due mostly to severe and ingrained defects in his personality. [He apparently does not realize the extent of my dislike for him, since I am polite to him for my dad's sake.] I did not want to hear One. Word. From him. About the whole IVF thing, since I knew if he said the wrong thing, I might finally lose it and try to crawl right through the phone line so I could push his teeth down his throat in person.)

So -- going back to our IVF timing and my dad's announcement of his coming bypass -- we had to decide at that point if we were going to proceed with the stims or hold off. I had already been taking the b/c pills and was within a day of starting Lupron. On the advice of our doctor, we decided to forge ahead, since otherwise we would have had to go back to square one, let me have a period, and start the b/c pills all over again, which could have resulted in a delay of as much as three months. Which is a long time when you're staring 44 right in the eyeball.

It turned out that my father's operation was not scheduled until today, August 28. I had no idea where we'd be at that point, but the possibility existed that my cycle would be a big bust anyway, and that, non-pregnant, I could go help out my dad.

Of course, things worked out otherwise, and I'm not only preggo (yayyyy!!) but high risk preggo, at age 44 and currently carrying multiples (not so yay). (Also feeling like sh!t on many days of the week, forbidden to have sex, raise my heart rate above 140, or lift more than 20 pounds, and starting to experience vertigo and vague nausea from time to time.) I'm in no shape to go nurse anyone anywhere, let alone in another state.

The thing is, though, my dad still doesn't know I'm pregnant. Because of the high rate of miscarriage at my age, D. and I had previously decided not to tell my dad about the pregnancy until we were past the 12-week marker (and hopefully with a good strong nuchal fold test behind us). When we found out about the multiples, it seemed like an even better idea to keep the whole thing under our hats, since we didn't want "assvice" about it from anyone, even my beloved dad. (And certainly not from my brother, who not only freely dispenses assvice, but gets completely bent out of shape and insulting if you don't follow his carefully thought out assvice to the letter and then report back on its resounding success.)

But my father, being the sweet guy that he is, insisted that he didn't need my help after his operation, since my brother would be there to help him, and in any case they were going to hold him hostage in the hospital for five to seven days after the operation. So technically, I'm off the hook. I guess I just feel wretched because I'm afraid he thinks I simply don't care enough to drop things and come be useful. My mother passed on several years ago, and both of D's parents are gone as well, and I find myself clutching desperately at my sole remaining parental figure. I always got along much better with my dad than my mom, anyway, since our personalities are very similar, and there's nothing both of us love better than going into a long discussion about whether Andre Norton's Witch World books are better than Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, and if so, why. (Answer for the student: Norton trumps McCaffrey any day of the week, since McCaffrey apparently got lazy after a while and started writing what amounted to Soap Operas with Dragons, whereas Norton wrote clear up into her 90's with very little loss of steam or clarity.) (Also, Norton sometimes wrote about cats, which of course gives her extra bonus points. Heh!)

In a nutshell, although my reason and logic tells me I'm doing the right thing, I feel as though I'm keeping a bad secret from my dad -- instead of a great one, which will with any luck will be revealed in just a few weeks.

As for my father's operation today, it apparently went quite well, and the last I heard, he was resting comfortably (or as much so as possible, when they have you hooked up to a morphine pump or whatever they use after they chop your chest open and rummage around in there for close to six hours). I'll know more tomorrow, and hopefully get to talk with him.

Well. Just to make it a thoroughly eventful day, this morning we receive a phone call from D's sis, who informed us that their aunt had died. Aunt Sparky, as we'll call her here, was a very sweet and intelligent woman, with a distinctly tart side to her personality. A lifelong smoker, she had been suffering from emphysema for several years, so her death was not a surprise, but it's always hard anyway. (And anyone who reads this who still smokes should go visit some emphysema patients in the hospital. I honestly think emphysema is worse than lung cancer, since it drags the agony out for as much as a decade or so.) Aunt Sparky also looked and sounded very much like her sister -- D's and sis's mother -- who passed away several years ago, and whom they still miss very much. Losing Aunt Sparky was not only painful in its own right, but also poked a bit at the old wound of losing their mom.

They say things come in threes, and sometimes "they" seem to be right about that. After ordering flowers and so forth for the aunt's family, and finally finding out that my dad had made it all right through his surgery, I eventually made it out the door for my (subdued, heartbeat under 140) neighborhood walk. My neighbor lady was out and about, so we chatted for a while, and she told me about her son, who works for the Mosquito Abatement department. (I had no idea there was such a thing; did you?) He had been out on some ranch doing Mosquito Abatement things, when he saw at a distance what looked very much like the wreck of a small plane. He called his department head, who called the sheriff, who called the rancher, and in short order, several official and unofficial vehicles were bouncing down the ranch's dirt road toward the wreckage.

Her son had assumed it was old wreckage that had simply not been cleared away. When he got there himself, he found out the actuality: It had happened about midnight, and nobody had realized that was where the missing plane was, or come to pick up after it yet. Consequently there were various body parts strewn here and there, and the broken bits of plane and carrion stank to high heaven. The sheriff's department and ambulance people seemed to be inured to that sort of thing, but it was a first for my friend's son, who ended up taking the rest of the day off.

Well. Enough already. Or enough for one day, at least. And then some.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stanky thangs

I have read that pregnancy heightens one's sense of smell. Whoever wrote that hit it (ahem!) right on the nose. Suddenly, at seven weeks, everything stinks to high heaven!

Today's smells were especially bad. I'm going on the assumption that we'll be ending up with twins, and from what I've read so far, I need to be ingesting about 100 grams of protein a day to make sure they have a decent birth weight. (I haven't remotely achieved this milestone yet, but I'm working gamely on it. Although today I did dissolve in a puddle of tears over my complete inability to eat like the hog I apparently need to be, to be a Good Mother.) Also, I have read that as a Gestating Mother, I need to make sure there's plenty of omega-3 in my diet. So today, for lunch, I made salmon patties, with canned wild salmon from Trader Joe's, a bit of chopped onion and some egg to hold it together.

It stank UNBELIEVABLY in the frying pan. My house suddenly smelled like some low-rent Roman fish shop. Interestingly, though, when I made myself try the salmon patties (since I had cooked the damn things), they weren't bad, and I finished it off. But oh the reek afterward!

The heretofore perfectly-clean-smelling grocery store also stinks, I'm here to inform you. And I went to Baskin-Robbins this afternoon for a quick little pick-me-up (since when can you do that if not when you're preggo?), and even the ice cream store reeked! The air was thick with the sweet, nasty smell. It was like trying to swim through clouds of cotton candy. Outside, I sat in my car to eat the ice cream ... and tried to ignore the wafting miasmas from both the Subway shop and the local pizza joint. Erk.

Luckily, these intrusive smells have not yet made me barf ... but I'm getting nervous about that. The funny thing about it all is that due to the really dreadful allergies that I used to be saddled with, I spent probably 25 years of my life not smelling much of anything, since my nose was stuffed up at all times. And now I can't seem to get away from the army of smells that surrounds me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Risk vs. Reward

My husband teaches business at the university level, and occasionally at home he is wont to burst furth with lyrical snatches of "business speak" that usually have as much meaning for me as colloquial Armenian. But one of the basic concepts I have picked up from him is that of risk vs. reward. Basically, if you want a reward, you have to take a risk. If you are squeamish about taking risks, you are "risk averse" (and should probably sink your ill-gotten gains into a nice safe index fund instead of picking some penny stock because you think its symbol is cute).

IVF is much the same way. The science boys and girls do all kinds of studies, and pontificate at length as to what the "best" way to do IVF is -- but the truth is that it's all a crap shoot. The best you can make is an educated guess. You know what statistics for your age, etc., tell you, but you cannot know what your particular body will do until it's done done it. And then you live with that.

To reiterate some past history: Last spring, we did our first IVF (with the same doc we are with now). We ended up with six very nice embryos (two of them already compacting at 3 days), and put all of them in. We ended up with a chemical pregnancy -- first beta of 19, second of 5.

We started cycling for this IVF in June. We got 15 eggs, of which 13 fertilized, using ICSI and assisted hatching. Two of those stopped growing in the dish, but the rest were quite nice. At that point we had a dilemma: what do we do with all these embryos? Frozen embryos in general do not do as well as fresh, and older women's embryos have an even more dismal rate of success. (I was 43 during most of this, and turned 44 just a couple of weeks ago.) In making the decision, we factored in my age, plus the fact that six very nice-looking embryos had previously done squat.

We decided to go for broke and throw all 11 in. Looking at the chem preg we had in IVF #1, I was thinking (along with my doctor) that the overall quality of my eggs probably wasn't that great. So I was hoping for at least one, but maybe as many as two resultant fetuses.

As you know if you've read previous posts, my betas showed that not only was I pregnant, but preggo with (probably) twins. That was a little intimidating, but hey, twins make instant family! We would manage.

Today I had my first ultrasound.

The screen was turned away from me, so I couldn't get anything from that. Actually, I was so nervous that I didn't even look at my doctor -- I just stared off into space and listened to her running commentary. But my husband (whom I had instructed to take notes) was looking at the doctor. He said he was watching her -- and suddenly, as she looked at the screen, he saw her jaw drop.

We had two empty sacs in there (not surprising) ... and four fetuses.

One fetus measured 7mm, two were 6mm, and one was at 4mm. The 7mm and 6mm are normal for their age (6w4d) but the 4mm is definitely small and may well bow out on its own, according to my doctor. Leaving us with ... triplets.

The problem with triplets is that due to the abdominal myomectomy that I had last year -- a three-hour operation that chopped me up pretty good, although it did seem to do the trick -- I probably can't carry triplets. (Although my doc did say today that she thought I would be fine for twins.) Also, statistically, triplets have all kinds of health problems and are much less likely to make it to the finish line than twins.

But the only way to resolve this problem -- unless Mother Nature takes it in hand and does it herself, which is certainly possible -- is to do a fetal reduction.

I have always considered myself pro-choice, and still do. (Although I think there is a world of difference between a first trimester abortion and a third trimester abortion. I will go out on a limb here and say that I think third trimester abortions should be outlawed unless it really is to preserve the life or health of the mother -- and by health, I don't mean her mental health.) But while it is easy to say that poor women with few choices should be able to get a first trimester abortion on demand, I admit I turn squeamish when I think about it for myself. This is not what you envision when you start in on the baby-making treadmill. You're thinking baby showers and poopey diapers, not fetal reduction because your uterus might rip asunder if you don't do it.

(I have to relate a story here which has stayed on my mind throughout the IVF process. My husband is a regular blood donor, and we once went to a congratulatory dinner for the donors who had given a certain amount during the year. The featured speaker was a very nice young women who, while pregnant with her third child, had suddenly had her uterus rupture. They rushed her to the hospital, of course, and she ultimately went through 26 pints of blood while the doctors labored to keep her alive. Twenty-six pints! The woman was a walking miracle.)

So stay tuned for developments, I guess. My next ultrasound will be September 1.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Does this key fit?

I've had a leeeetle more energy the last couple of days than I had previously, so today I actually got a couple of things done. Number one, I packaged up and UPS'd back my leftover meds to The Apothecary Shops in Glendale, AZ, whose enlightened policy is to take back leftover baby-making meds. Which is a good thing since the meds are darned pricey, as we all know.

Actually, this saga started on Monday. I had saved the (LARGE) box that all my meds came in, so I blithely tossed in the leftover Follistim and Menopur and added a couple of freezer paks, then toodled off to FedEx. (I went to FedEx solely because that was the shipping company Apothecary had used.) After the multiply-pierced young man at the counter summoned up enough energy to leave the conversation he was having with his (multiply-pierced) friend and take my package from me, I filled out the little form, he weighed it, then announced that it would be eighty-one dollars and some odd cents to send it overnight.

My jaw dropped. I had thought it might be as high as, maybe, forty dollars or so, but eighty? That had never occurred to me.

There must be Scots-Irish in me. I could not stand to spend that much on sending a package, even one with so esteemed a cargo. So I took it home again, found a disreputable-looking box that was of exactly the right dimensions to hold the medications, two freezer paks, and inch-thick layers of styrofoam on each side, and then whacked the styrofoam to fit, leaving my kitchen looking like it had been through a blizzard. Today it occurred to me that I did not have to give the surly gen-Xers at FedEx my custom, and took it to the brownshirts instead, who charged me just as much -- $59 for the smaller package -- but were so cheerful and personable that I started to think I had wandered into a pod of Scientologists.

But that was not the high point of my day, chirpy as the brownshirts were. Following that, I had lunch with friends, then hit Mervyn's to see if I could find some jeans that didn't hurt. I currently have ONE pair of jeans that I can wear without pain. The scar from last year's myomectomy still hurts if I wear tight clothing for more than about two hours, and I have already widened enough in my fundament that all my other jeans now fit into the "tight" category. And the one pair of jeans I can wear are ones I bought for gardening (which is why they were so loose and floppy to begin with) and have permanent tar stains on them. I am somewhat Challenged in the fashion department right now.

Alas, I found no appropriate jeans at Mervyn's -- but for the first time in months, I allowed myself to actually take a turn through their baby clothing department. They are the tiniest little clothes imaginable ... and embellished with duckies and wild cherries and ruffles and little toy cars ... and just amazing. It hurt my brain to even entertain the notion that in a few months, I might actually be in charge of a small human being -- or two -- who might require the ownership and wearing of such things.

But what I realized, as I tiptoed around the baby department, was that I was not actually touching any of the clothes. My first ultrasound is tomorrow, and until I see visible proof that there is someone living in there, I won't really believe it. I tried to put my finger on the odd hesitancy I felt about touching the baby things, and realized that I felt as though someone had given me the key to a beautiful new house -- but not the deed. It wasn't really my house, not yet, even though I was being urged to make myself at home in there. But it's not my home, not really my key, not until I get the proof in hand.

Which I hope to get tomorrow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Numbers game

I'm a bit behind the times, partly because I've always been lazy about writing (which is odd, for an activity I enjoy so much once I'm doing it) and partly because my energy level seems to be completely random. For instance, I was so zonked this afternoon that I forgot to put the potato salad in the fridge for a good hour after I brought it home from the store. (I think it's okay; it still felt cool to the touch. Sort of.) Then I conked out for a solid hour after dinner, waking only when my darling husband offered to watch a movie with me (which I cannot resist, being a complete Movie Junkie). Now that it's pushing eleven, I'm wide awake and rarin' to go! Real predictable energy levels.

In any case, I wanted to catch up my vast reading audience (hah!) on my latest set of numbers, though they're actually from last week. You make recall that my Slightly Pricey Clinic (which is, however, not as pricey as the ones in San Francisco) has a HCG-counting machine that tops out at 1500, rendering it useless for overachievers like me. So that evening I trotted down to Kaiser and had another one done, and repeated it two days later. The first beta was 2815, and the second one was 4555. That's not a double, but the Kaiser people assured me (and the SPC people echoed it) that a 60 percent rate of increase is just fine, and that seems to be what I have.

Or had. Have. Had. Who knows? Not me! The problem with being ostensibly pregnant (especially after wrestling with infertility, and reading waaaaaaay too much on the subject to ever be blase' about pregnancy again) is that you are aware you could be un-pregnant at any moment. That chemical pregnancy left a scar on me, I'll tell ya, and it's not a physical one. I know, down deep in my bones, that this wonderful thing that I am cherishing so much already could just be taken away from me at any moment. That's not a comfortable feeling. And it won't be mollified until August 17, when I get my first ultrasound.

But in a way (a perverse way that allows me to get something out of the $13K we spent on the first attempt), I'm almost glad the first attempt did not succeed. I am, in many ways, a lazy person. But I've usually had success in almost anything I really set my mind to, and had it easily. I won academic awards right and left in school, usually ones I didn't have to apply for (since that would have meant some actual effort on my part). I remember the first Speech tournament I went to in high school ... I had somehow gotten involved in Poetry Reading as my event (no, I'm not making this up; who could make up Poetry Reading as an event?), and at my very first tournament, I won third place over a number of more experienced readers, including the previous year's state champion. Just a few years ago, I placed in a prestigious writing contest, even though I'd only been writing fiction for a couple of years at that point, and beat out many more experienced writers who had been entering the contest for years.

So I've developed a bad mental habit of just expecting success any time I put out my pinkie to get it. And with our first round of IVF, I was determined to beat the statistics and "get it right" the first time. I went on a self-improvement blitz to maximize my chances. I took both yoga and a relaxation class, since I had read that achieving the "relaxation response" every day was important for fertility. I walked every single day. I had massages (me, who had never had one in her life!). I chirpily kept a "positive mental outlook." I was determined, I tell ya, determined.

And we know how that came out. Nada. It was humbling, and I do mean that. It reminded me that "worth" has NOTHING to do with this journey. This is not a matter of the deserving getting babies and the undeserving not. I cannot force the Universe to cough up a kid for me, just because I somehow deserve one. The best I can do is humbly apply myself, wait, and hope.

This time around, the yoga and massages went out the window. I just didn't have the patience for them. I did decide to apply "humor therapy" (which I'll cover in a future post) by watching a funny movie or standup comedy almost every day, mostly to keep my spirits up. And although I had not planned it, I found myself praying a lot. Not so much that it would work, as that I would be able to humbly and graciously accept the outcome, and find some sort of path forward from there.

So this time, it caught. At least for now. But I am well aware that it didn't have to be that way, that we could have had a repeat of last time, and it would have said nothing about my worth, either good or bad. And I am excrutiatingly aware of my tenuous hold on this particular happiness. And it makes me ... appreciative. Which is not a bad thing to be.

(P.S. Thanks to sharp-eyed Victoria for catching my typos!)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kvetch-free zone

One of the many things I promised God when I was trying to talk Him/Her into allowing this pregnancy, was that I would not be a kvetcher. "No complaints!" I assured Him. "Really. You can have me throw up all day, all night, whatever. Swollen cankles, that's fine. And I'm already used to being overweight, so no bitching there. Just one healthy pregnancy, that's all I ask...."

So I'm trying to live up to that. On the other hand, the main purpose of this blog is to chronicle the processes of my IVF and (hah! amazing) pregnancy, so if I write down none of my annoyances, haven't I been less than intellectually honest? And what kind of example is that for the kidlet-to-be? (Heh.) I know, I know; God is not mocked. (But I hope He is amused, occasionally.)

So far, at 5 weeks, I've experienced two main side effects of pregnancy: a very weird sort of indigestion, and extreme and completely unpredictable fatigue. I've had problems with my digestive system since I was a pup, starting with a duodenal ulcer when I was 13 (thank you, H. pylori!) and moving on to a hiatal hernia, diagnosed when I was 19. In the years since then, I've had various other gastric disturbances, and popped an awful lot of Zantac. Oh, and did I mention I get car sick at the drop of a hat? Clearly, I'd be better off without a digestive system at all, but that doesn't seem to be an option with this model.

So I was expecting nausea, possibly lots of it. It turns out I haven't experienced that yet, but every morning for the last week and a half, as soon as I finish eating breakfast -- no matter how miniscule the breakfast -- I feel as though I've consumed the Hindenberg. Half a bowl of cereal leaves me absolutely stuffed to the brim. Then my hiatal hernia (which hasn't bothered me much for several years) gets into the act, and I feel so much pressure there that I literally have a hard time standing completely upright.

But wait, it gets weirder! Around lunchtime, I feel the pangs that let me know I'm hungry ... and at one and the same time, I still feel completely stuffed. The weird thing is that if I go ahead and eat a moderate lunch, the stuffed feeling often disappears, as does the hernia pressure. It is truly one of the oddest things I've ever experienced.

As for the fatigue, it was pretty much a constant for the first couple of weeks, sometimes crushingly so. I had to figure on taking both morning and afternoon naps, and it's a good thing I don't have to hold down a real job, that's all I can say. (I bow my head in astonishment and respect to the legions of women who do hold down jobs while they are pregnant.)

But now the fatigue has become fey and unpredictable. Sometimes I have little bursts of energy, where I find myself walking down the hallway in my house and realizing that I feel just fine! Great! Maybe the fatigue will go away and I'll have a normal pregnancy! Yes!

That usually lasts for about two minutes.

Then reality sets in again, along with the fatigue, and I find myself standing at the kitchen counter with an open can of catfood in my hand and my eyes shut. (Good thing my cats are vocal at mealtime -- I wonder if I might actually fall completely asleep on my feet without their prompting?)

But a better example might be yesterday's adventure. It was both my birthday and the next-to-last day of the county fair, and I really wanted to go, despite my fatigue. So my darling husband, who breaks out in gallantry at the most unexpected times, carried a folding chair for me around the fair all afternoon so that I'd have a place to sit down and rest at all times. (This is actually a repeat of last year: I was still recovering from my abdominal myomectomy at fair time, and D. carried the folding chair for me then, too. Sometimes I think I married a prince.)

And I put that chair to good use! We stayed about four hours all told, and managed visits to both the Hall of Flowers and to the horse races. (Where we walked in, got settled, I pointed out "Centauri" on the racing form at 15-1 in the 10th lane and had D. bet him to show -- and by golly, that was what Centauri did, just like I'd given him marching orders. Edged out the horse just ahead of him by a scant nose to finish third. I finished in the black by a big $4.40. Why can't I know when I'm going to do that and put down a hundred bucks?) I also had my traditional fair fare of a funnel cake with powdered sugar -- yum!

By the time we got back to the parking lot, I was so beat I could hardly move. So D. parked me in my chair and went to find the car. By the time he got back to pick me up, I had -- you guessed it -- fallen asleep, sitting on that chair. And then I put in another hour nap when we reached home.

All of this makes me wonder if these symptoms are due to "advanced maternal age" or if I would have had the same difficulties when I was 20 or 30. Obviously, we'll never know ... but I think I have figured out one thing: the falling birth rate in "first world" countries. I mean, really, if you have access to birth control, why would you go through this, unless you were truly, deeply motivated? You have to seriously want a child to go through all this with any kind of a game face. And to do it multiple times? After you realize how un-fun it is? You have to be a woman on a mission.

Which, fortunately, I am. Which is why I have my sign ordered: "KVETCHING" in a red circle, with a diagonal line through it. Just in case I forget.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Big day!

Today was rather an eventful day for us! To start, I woke up at 7 -- a full hour before my alarm was scheduled -- and could not get back to sleep. When you learn that I have slept through incipient tornadoes (I remember just murmuring sleepily, "Wake me when the tornado actually gets here,") perhaps you'll understand the depth of my anxiety about the day. I went in at 10:30 and had blood drawn for my second beta. Then I went about my business -- going to the vet to get Ringer's lactate for my CRF cat, Georgina, amongst other things -- and when I got home about noon, I discovered, once again, that the little men seemed to be hard at work and I was exhausted. Back to bed, and then up in time to receive the clinic's scheduled call at 2.

The nurse's voice seemed a little dispirited. Oh God -- was she working up to bad news? But then -- "You're pregnant," she said.

I breathed out a huge sigh. I don't remember what I said. But whatever it was, was a prayer of thanks.

Then she said, "You're really pregnant."

Eh? What was that?

It turned out that my beta for Monday was 1182, and the beta for today, Wednesday, read "1500+." Fifteen hundred plus? What was that supposed to mean? And why wasn't it doubled from Monday like a good beta should be?

It turns out, the nice nurse explained, that their machine only goes to 1500. So anything over that read "1500+." So as they say in the Tour de France, I was "haute categorie." Out of category. More mountainously pregnant than their crappy machine could measure.

To which I was thinking (though not saying, since I still have to maintain a working relationship with these people), "You know, for thirteen thousand per try, I really expect a leettle more information than 'haute categorie.'"

So what did all this mean? we quizzed the nurse. She explained that it probably meant multiples. As in twins. Or triplets.


Well, it was too early to tell. And besides -- she relented a bit -- we had to remember that our first beta should really have been taken on Saturday, which meant that since half of 1182 was in the five hundred-ish category, and that is where they usually see twins, we were probably looking at twins, not triplets. Plus, we had to remember that just because there were twins now, didn't mean that was what we would actually get in the long run.

She was right, of course, and I had already discussed this with D. Twins have a way of mysteriously falling off along the way during pregnancy, just disappearing between one ultrasound and the next. That, coupled with the high miscarriage rate for my "advanced maternal age" of 44, means that starting out with twins was really more along the lines of insurance that we would get one baby at the end. Or as the English say so callously, "The heir and the spare."

When we got off the phone, I was elated, but I noticed that D. was subdued. When I asked him what was wrong, he looked at me and simply said, "Twins?"

At which point we discussed the whole concept of odds all over again, and calmed him down a bit. I think.

But when we called up D's sister (who is no stranger to the IVF world herself, being now in the midst of #5), she sensibly pointed out that we really should have those HCG numbers from the beta. Though they were probably already too high to indicate an ectopic, it would still be a weight off my mind to know that the numbers were doubling properly. At which point I remembered my primary care provider, Kaiser, and happily realized that now that I was officially preggo, they had to take care of me! (Having sluffed off all responsibility for the IVF's, they should step up to the plate now, I reasoned.)

Then followed a round of phone calls to various departments (par for the course with Kaiser). At last it was determined that I could come in this evening to the East Building lab to get my blood drawn, and then my OB/GYN would write up an order tomorrow for a new round of betas. Probably.

Off I went, a good twenty minute drive each way -- though that was actually a GOOD time -- the downtown area here has recently been plunged into the maelstrom of Improvement. Which of course means that traffic is backed up all day long, and it takes an hour to get where it used to take only 20 minutes. Which is why I thought running up there in the evening was such a good idea, since that meant I could avoid the hideous downtown traffic.

But even after I got home, our Big Day wasn't over! D. and I sat down to begin watching an old episode of Northern Exposure (being recent converts to Netflix), and suddenly realized ...

... that the couch was moving ....
... and, by golly, so was the whole house.

Oh, my! Such excitement we had for a few minutes! I'm from Texas, where we have tornadoes aplenty, but rarely a quake, so I'm still not really used to them. This one had a slow, ponderous roll to it that made me think it might be only the start of bigger things, but it lasted for maybe 4 or 5 seconds and then subsided. Not even long enough for our cats to get worked up, though we hopped up immediately and started looking upward to see if we were in immediate danger of getting conked in the head by anything. But nothing was out of place except us. Just a little something to perk us up a bit. (I looked it up online and found that the quake was a 4.4, had originated near Glen Ellen, and that we were a mere 13 miles from the epicenter. I just love the Internet, don't you?)

So that was our Big Day (though I am leaving out the description of our new neighbor's ENORMOUS dog, Otis, who interrupted our dinner on our back porch). I think I have to go to bed now. I can't take any more excitement.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sniffling to happiness

Just to show me that God does indeed have a sense of humor (albeit a crude one at times), I have come down with a cold.

Throughout the last 8 or 9 days (apparently, since implantation), I have had serious bouts of fatigue, just enough to let me know that there were Men at Work in my body. I could practically feel the little guys in my uterus, putting up scaffolding, hammering away at some recalcitrant vein, stomping around in their little hobnailed boots, getting the place ready for the new Occupant. Occasionally they would stomp over to my ovaries and give them a kick too, just to keep things fair. Then they would stub out their cigars (another twinge!) and stomp back to the uterus to continue the remodeling job.

In any case, the little men were winning. I didn't dare fight it, since I figured my body knows best. And I didn't want my body taking up energy staying awake when it could be using it to build an Occupant instead. So I was sacking out twice a day, morning and afternoon, and dragging around like Banquo's ghost in between.

But yesterday afternoon, there was a break in the clouds. I noticed that I wasn't quite so fatigued. The little men were quiet, apparently taking a coffee break. And I felt -- yes! -- decent.

And then I noticed that my throat hurt. Hah, hah. Thanks, God. (But actually, should this pregnancy really take hold, I owe God a BIG one. So I guess I can amuse Him/Her with my sniffles, if necessary.)

Luckily, I rarely run a fever when I am sick, and I haven't run one with this cold, so I have hopes that it won't affect the (apparent) incipient pregnancy. I haven't taken anything for the cold except hot chicken broth with fresh garlic (which makes me feel better, briefly, but doesn't do much in the long run). And Kleenex(TM) and I are getting intimately reacquainted.

The biggest thing is worry, of course. D. points out that women with colds have gotten pregnant and stayed pregnant throughout history. (I have no idea where he got this factoid -- out of the thin air in his cute little head, I suspect.) But I know there's nothing I can actually do about the cold ... so I pretend to believe him. And I wait. For tomorrow morning.