38 weeks…

Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.  I’m tired.  I’m painful.  I’m huge.  However, I’m still working full-time at hospice, though I’ve reduce my caseload significantly.  I’m still walking a couple miles a day.  I’m ready to get this show on the road.

I haven’t written in awhile, and part of that has been due to rabid anger.  As a feminist woman married to a feminist man, and future girl mom, I have carried so much anger around since last November.  Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, who silenced her husband’s sexual assault victims to further her own political career, but I have been horrified by current events in my country since Donald Trump’s election.  I cannot fathom how 24% of people in this country deluded themselves into voting for such an idiot.  Nor can I fathom how he won the electoral college when he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.  I continue to be mesmerized by the numbers of people who continue to support him as our president despite the lies, deception, borderline treason, suppression of the free press, slander of the judicial branch, and pure stupidity.

Seriously, I don’t care how badly you hated Hillary Clinton, there were other options besides Donald Trump.  SERIOUSLY.  That vote, for that reason, is indefensible.

I have watched as Donald Trump, the leader of the free world, has used “alternative facts” (otherwise known as lies) to stir up hatred and fear to energize misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic feelings among people who are uneducated or who have felt disempowered by our broken political system.  People feel their voices were not heard by the establishment, so they voted for the narcissistic, stupid, self-interested, ignorant, Russian-owned, deeply-in-debt, lying, tax-evading, child-raping, woman-raping, racist MORON — rather than holding their own party (Republicans) accountable for gerrymandering the $%#& out of our legislative districts, to the point that legislative representatives are SO assured of being re-elected that they have no accountability to the people they are supposed to be serving.

I grew up in a small-ish town in the south.  Mostly, I hung out with conservative Christian white people growing up.  I was raised in a very black-and-white world.  Behaviors were either right or wrong.  People were either good or bad.  It was a very simplistic worldview with no room for grey.

I left the south at age 18 for the west coast.  (A family friend gave me a blanket with the Ten Commandments printed on it, if that gives you a clue as to how my choice of colleges was perceived by people in my town.  Yup.)

I did my share of exploring in college.  I became friends with people from all over the world.  I dated men of different ethnicities (including my first serious relationship with a fellow student whose family had immigrated from Iran during the Iranian Revolution).  I worked in a gay bar for extra cash.  I began to realize that people who were different from me in one respect could be AMAZING human beings, and that some people who were a lot more like me were total shitheads.

The world is much less simple than Fox News and Donald Trump would have you believe.  Unfortunately, it seems as though a LOT of people in this country lack the ability to understand (or willingness to accept?) nuance.

But I have watched this administration attack people I care about, tear apart families I know with illegal religious bans (preventing lawfully and stringently vetted grandparents from visiting their newborn American grandchildren), attempt to withdraw rights I hold as fundamental, and destroy the very fabric of our democracy.

I keep thinking, “What kind of world am I bringing a daughter into?”

It’s scary.  Fricking terrifying.  At 38 weeks, I’m terrified.

But at the same time, perhaps the questions I need to be asking are, “What kind of daughter do I want to raise?  What kinds of problems will she want to try to solve?  And what can I do to support her, challenge her, and protect her so that she is able maximize her potential and make the world better for other people?”

I think asking the questions is the easy part.  Answering them is the hard part.  But I will NOT raise my daughter to:

  • invest more time in her appearance than in her education or her character
  • more often pass judgment on others than be kind or charitable or accepting of differences
  • more carefully cultivate her social circle than her goals
  • value herself more based on how men perceive her than on what kind of impact she makes on those around her

In our current societal climate, my husband and I have a difficult task.  And it starts in T-minus 2 weeks.

pippasign

“Like fog at an airport.”

It’s official.  I’m grounded.  From flying.  From road trips.

So about 2 weeks ago, I had a weird episode.  I had just gotten home from work on Halloween and was rushing around trying to get candy ready and plates out for dinner, as my mom and dad had come over to witness the spectacle that is my neighborhood on Halloween.  Then I started feeling weakness and aching in my arms.  Within 10 minutes, I was feeling flushed, sweaty, nauseated, and lightheaded.  I stripped off my sweatshirt, shoes, and socks, lay down, and fanned myself, but to no avail.  It was absolutely bizarre.

The feeling eventually passed and I was able to recover myself, eat, re-bundle up, and pass out candy to the kiddos in the neighborhood.  (Note: Pixy Stix were the hot ticket item this year.)

We decided it was just an anomaly, something to be ignored

Exactly one week later, right at the end of my workday, I started having that achy, tingling in my arms and neck again.  I got in the car to drive home, feeling pretty confident that I was imagining things.  But when I got out of the car at home 20 minutes later, I noticed a ringing in my ears and was developing tunnel vision.  Soon came the profuse sweating and faintness.  I stripped down to my undies and lay on our bed with the fan on the dresser blasting me.  Eventually I recovered enough to put sweats on and make it to the couch, though I felt weak and sick the rest of the evening.

The next day, my husband and I went to the OB.  My doctor wasn’t tremendously concerned, saying that my body didn’t seem to be as good at regulating blood pressure as other folks’ bodies are.  No surprise, since I have a history of vasovagal syncope, anyway, and pregnancy tends to exacerbate hypotension.  He also said that my heart rate hasn’t increased like he would expect it to during pregnancy; it’s a pedestrian 60 bpm, compared with 80-90 in “normal” women.  He gave me some things to try: increase salt intake, drink fluids, wear medical grade compression hose, avoid lying flat on my back, avoid driving or get off the road if I feel those symptoms again, etc.

He asked if we had plans to travel for the holidays, and we said no, that we like to stay home for the holidays.  He replied, “Good for you!  I wouldn’t want to see you on a plane right or on a cross country road trip now.”  Okay then. This baby is keeping us grounded, “like fog at an airport.”  (Credit to Modern Family.)

As a side note: personally, I abhor traveling during the holidays.  I can remember one time my family spent Christmas away from our home (at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada), and I don’t remember ever having Thanksgiving dinner at anyone else’s house.  Evidently, my paternal grandfather got dragged around to various relatives’ homes at the holidays when he was a child.  He resented this so much that when he had his own kids, he refused to do the same to them.  When my brother and I came along, and my family visited him and my grandma when we were very, very young, he pulled my mother aside and told her, “I don’t want you here for holidays again.  If you want us to visit you, that’s fine, but don’t take your kids away from their home and their beds again at Christmas time.”  So during my childhood and adolescence, I had the benefit of stability at the holidays — going to holiday religious services at my own church, sleeping in my own bed, eating food I liked and was familiar with, getting to play with my new toys and video games, and really, relaxing my body and mind over the holidays.  A few years ago, our previous church hosted a seminar on the why married couples and families with children should stay home for the holidays, as well as how to navigate family obligation when there is pressure to join an extended family gathering.  I take that as a sign that my grandpa had the right idea, and I look forward to recreating the same type of holiday magic for my kids that my folks did for me.

But definitely NO “Elf on the Shelf,” because my husband hates that creepy bastard with the burning fire of a thousand suns.

The Long Expected Update

While I’m not narcissistic enough to assume people have been waiting around with bated breath for an update from me, I think it’s long overdue, and I’ve got some time this morning, so let’s get ‘er done.

News:

  • Baby is fine.  I will be 23 weeks tomorrow with a single baby girl.  She moves around a lot, and in the last two weeks, I’ve become able to feel her stronger movements externally, which is kind of fun.
  • We know she is fine because:
    • CVS results were good.  Why did we choose to do a CVS after doing PGS you ask?  First and foremost, PGS is a screening tool designed to guide embryo selection.  It is not 100% accurate for screening, and testing companies encourage patients to confirm their findings with a diagnostic test such as CVS or amnio.  I really wanted that reassurance of knowing the baby’s karyotype.  I had heard of cases in which a mosaicism snuck through PGS testing, and I really couldn’t relax until I knew with certainty that she was healthy.  Furthermore, CVS let us know her chromosome status, i.e. whether she had chromosomes like me (BT 11;18) or like my husband.  We assessed the risks involved (bleeding, cramping, and very, very rarely, miscarriage), and in the end, really felt comfortable with our decision.  The risks of any complications with CVS are pretty minimal, particularly when you have an experienced doctor.  We’re talking somewhere between a 1 in 250 and 1 in 500 chance of bleeding, serious cramping, or miscarriage.  Our particular provider had never had any serious complications.
    • Next, the Level II Ultrasound on October 3 showed no anatomical abnormalities.  Yes, I just received a $1300 bill for this service, but it showed us that she is growing and developing normally.  As my genetic counselor said, I am considered extremely low risk for problems at this point.
      • That said, the ultrasound did show that I had what’s called placenta previa and a marginal cord insertion.  What “placenta previa” means is that as of 18 weeks, my placenta was sitting over the top of my cervix.  I was told that in most cases, this resolves and is not an issue, but if it doesn’t resolve, I will require a cesarean section, because vaginal delivery is very unsafe if the placenta comes out before baby.  The marginal cord insertion is also pretty rare and means that the umbilical cord attaches to the placenta on the very edge, rather than in the middle.  In some cases, this can restrict fetal growth, but so far it’s not an issue.  I’m being monitored pretty closely, and I’ll get an update on Nov. 17 when I go back for another ultrasound.
  • People keep asking if we have a name yet.  Nope.  We have kicked a few things around, but we haven’t settled on any favorites.  One of the downsides of being well-traveled, well-read, pop-culturally-aware people is that every name reminds us of a book character, television character, former coworker, former classmate, distant family member, or child of friends or acquaintances.  These naming discussions go like this:
    • “How about X?”  “As in X from (book title)?  No, she was a terrible character.”
    • “How about Y?”  “No, there was a girl named Y in (high school/undergrad/grad/vet school), and I hated that girl.”
    • “How about Z?”  “So-and-so and So-and-so named their daughter that.”
  • The other issue with names is that you don’t dare tell other people what you’re names you are thinking of, because when your baby isn’t born and you haven’t chosen a name, people tend to be WAY TOO HONEST about their feelings about your child’s possible name.  It causes hurt and awkwardness when people criticize your ideas, and I think that it’s just easier to keep quiet about it and announce it later.
  • We changed doctors and hospital systems at 14 weeks.  This was dramatic, and I spent many hours crying over this.  I was originally told by both the doctor’s office and my insurance company that my previous doctor and hospital were in-network for my insurance.  LIES.  We were billed at an out-of-network rate for our appointments, and though no one took responsibility for the screw-up, it made no sense to continue receiving care there when my insurance was paying $0 on any routine care I was getting there.  Switching was a pain in the ass, and many prospective doctors’ offices treated me like a leper when I called, telling me that they had a policy of not accepting patients after the first trimester because it’s not worth the risk of taking someone on who hasn’t had regular prenatal care.  I was like, “DUDE, I have had MORE prenatal care than most of your patients.  It’s not like I’m a crack addict or a pregnant teen who was in denial about my situation for three months !”  It just made me feel undesirable.  It worked out okay, since my new job offers pretty good insurance that covers my new doctor and the hospital he is affiliated with, so I feel cared for and settled.
    • For awhile I was having TERRIBLE migraines that were debilitating and lasted for days, but the new doctor put me on a low-dose beta blocker.  I don’t know if I just grew out of them or if the medication is helping, but they have improved tremendously and I am EXTREMELY grateful.
  • My parents bought us a set of BellyBuds and a fetal doppler, which allows us to play music for her, talk to her through specialized speakers, and listen to her heartbeat.  Evidently others can record messages for us to play for her through a phone app called WavHello, but we haven’t really taken advantage of that.  If I’m being honest, I’ve been too busy to sit down, read the manual, and figure it out how to record, send, receive, and play them.  Anyway, music is a huge part of my identity, and I have learned to appreciate many different genres and time periods, including 20s, 30s, and 40s swing and big bad, Motown, blues, 60s and 70s rock and folk music, and more contemporary stuff.  I’ve been very intentional about what I’ve played for her.  So far we’ve done the Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Carole King, and Hozier.
  • My parents moved nearby a couple months ago.  They both grew up in our state and attended the university here, so I totally understand and support their desire to come back “home.”  They’re about 45 minutes from us, which is a moderately accessible distance in case one or the other family needs something, like pet watching or house sitting.  They acquired a new rescue dog since the last time we saw them, so we had to work pretty diligently to introduce Pippa to the new husky mix.  Luckily, it was a fairly smooth process, and they are buddies now.  I love Pippa, but I don’t totally understand her.  She is usually more reactive toward strange dogs than strange people, and yet, she befriended Odie after a few training sessions.  On the other hand, she still hasn’t totally accepted my brother and sister-in-law, though she’s met them several times in the last few years.
  • I ran a half-marathon at 20 weeks.  Yep.  Some folks thought I was crazy, but my doctor encouraged me to maintain my current level of fitness, provided I was comfortable running and had no bleeding.  It was the slowest half marathon I’ve ever run (2:15, compared to around 1:35, normally), but I went slow, kept my heart rate pretty low, took pee breaks when I needed, and (somewhat) enjoyed it.  The biggest issues were bra chafing and painful feet from carrying my much heavier body over 13 miles.  I’m still running these days, but I insert walk breaks now, and I’ve started wearing a support band to stabilize the growing belly.
  • I was inducted into my high school’s athletics Hall of Honor for basketball and track.  CRAZY.  It was super weird for me.  I was asked to write a bio about my accomplishments in high school and after, and it was just bizarre to me, because apparently I accomplished a lot more than I generally think about.  It felt very strange to brag on myself, which I hear is super common for us ladies.  (I grew up being told to downplay my intelligence and athleticism if I ever wanted a date, because boys were threatened by a girl who was both smarter and faster/stronger/more skilled than they were.)  I heard this interview with Steve Young on “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” recently, where he was asked about his academic and multi-sport accolades in high school, and his response was, “I dunno.  I was just doing what I did.”  That resonated with me.  Looking back, my bio reads like a superstar — state championships in several sports, school records, state records, 5s on AP exams, local/state/national academic and athletic awards, leadership programs — but at the time, I was just trying to survive high school, feeling like an outsider, and wondering why my guy friends in AP classes preferred cheerleaders and girls who could barely read or were in remedial math classes.  Anyway, my mom and I flew back to my hometown for a recognition ceremony, and I was able to see few friends, as well as a former teammate who is now an assistant women’s basketball coach at a major DI university in a Power 5 conference.
  • As mentioned above, I started a new job.  I’m working as a bereavement counselor at a non-profit hospice and palliative care provider at a large hospital system.  Most of our patients are in in-home hospice, though we have some inpatient placements as well.  In-home hospice is generally considered to be preferable, as most people would prefer to die in-home, and not in a hospital, and its less financially burdensome.  I like what I’m doing, which involves identifying and supporting caregivers and family members who are at high risk for complicated bereavement, facilitating grief support groups, community outreach, grief education, and working with patients and families before death to help prepare them for the inevitable.  I think most social workers go into child welfare, school social work, and mental health, but I was one of those weirdos who enjoy studying elders, aging, end-of-life issues, dementia, dementia caregiving, and grief.  So really, this is a great place for me to be.  The only downside to working an 8-4:30 shift is that my husband and I rarely see one another during the week, as he works second shift as a veterinarian.  I think we do a good job of trying to talk on breaks and stay connected during the week, but obviously, it’s not ideal.
  • Other than that, we’re just chugging along.  We had a great Halloween.  Even though my husband worked, we took the Saturday and Sunday before to carve pumpkins and get set up for candy distribution.  Our neighborhood always has tons of trick-or-treaters in a non-stop, steady stream from about 6-8pm.  Because of that, homeowners just sit outside in their driveways with bowls of candy, rather than letting kids ring the doorbell.
  • I cannot WAIT for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  OMG, I love the holidays.

I think that’s about it for now.  I hope all y’all are doing well.

Graduation (from the fertility clinic)…

Yesterday I had my last appointment at the fertility clinic for (what I hope is) a LONG TIME.

Baby girl (singular, and trust me, the RE looked really hard to make sure the embryo hadn’t split) is measuring right on track at 7 weeks, 2 days with a fetal heart rate of 134bpm.  Our doctor was in a better mood than I’ve ever seen her, and I can’t be certain that it’s not because we graduated from her care and she doesn’t have to see us anymore.  Ha.  That’s okay, because I feel EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.  She is a strange, strange woman.  It’s kind of hard to believe that probably 10 months ago, my genetic counselor recommended her because she had “good bedside manner.”

you_doodle_2016-07-22t01_29_39z
Fetal heart beat, and if the embryo looks off-center, it’s because a fellow was performing the procedure.

At one point, she asked my husband if he had a cell phone with video recording capabilities, so that he could take video of the ultrasound.  It caught us both off-guard, since we are the good patients who put our cell phones away in the clinic, per guidelines posted EVERYWHERE.  I guess he was really excited or nervous or something, but the video he took was blurry and unsteady, and at one point, he covered the camera with his finger.

you_doodle_2016-07-22t01_28_48z-1
Here she is again.

At any rate, now we move to my regular OB, where I will have my first appointment on August 15.  We do have to decide whether we want to do any additional fetal testing.  PGS is only about 95% accurate, so there is always the off-chance that we are in the unlucky 5%.  Our options are to do a MaterniT Genome, perhaps, to check for monosomies and trisomies, or to do a CVS to get a full karyotype.  We definitely want to know the baby’s carrier status, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the risk to do a CVS, when we could wait and test cord blood after birth.  It’s important to us to be able to talk with our children about their chromosomal status when we feel they are ready.  I don’t think it’s fair to spring something like this on a kid when she is 18.

(Let me also take a moment to comment on the amazing “How Babies Are Made” conversations we can have will our kid/s when they are older.  I got the sex talk when I was in grade school before all my friends, mostly because I have medical parents, so I can’t wait to be the parent of the little girl who runs around school telling other people’s kids that babies are made in laboratories.  Ha.  I’m so glad we no longer live in the Bible belt.)

On the life front, I was offered a job at a local agency to do school-based therapy with children and teens who have a history of mental illness or trauma (either neglect, physical, or sexual abuse).  Like many agencies that are primarily funded by Medicaid, the job was focused on productivity (i.e. clinicians have to maintain a certain number of Medicaid-billable hours in face-to-face contacts per week).  I declined the offer, because I don’t feel that my education and internship experience prepared me to jump in and be a competent clinician for those kids.  I interned for about 5 months at an inpatient behavioral health hospital with kids and teens, and while I have some familiarity with trauma-focused perspectives and mental health modalities, it’s just not where my interest lies.  On Monday I will interview with a large hospice provider in the area.  Given that I have much more interest in and expertise regarding aging, older adults, end-of-life issues, and dementia care, this position seems more promising.

Wish me luck.

Science Baby (singular, I think) has a heartbeat.

Per instructions from the on-call RE, I called the clinic yesterday morning.  The nurse asked me to come in for another beta hCG blood test ASAP and to return for an ultrasound in the afternoon.

My husband and I filled coffee cups and got out the door in a hurry, thinking we’d pick up some donuts from our neighborhood donut shop.  I have had a little nausea, but nothing too crazy, so I figured I’d be okay if we could get something to eat on the way.  Unfortunately, our donut guy is on vacation this week, so his shop was closed, and we were forced to hunt out Krispy Kreme.

By the time we were about 5 minutes from home, I was fairly confident things were okay with the pregnancy, because I became overwhelmingly nauseated.  I struggled to eat two bites of my one of my donuts and gave up.  (You know I’m not feeling well if I can’t eat a donut.)

I made it through the blood test and struggled to make Matter Paneer for dinner before my husband went in to his clinic.  By the time my ultrasound rolled around, I was feeling a little better.

My RE came in with another woman, maybe a resident or a trainee of some sort, and had her perform the ultrasound with guidance.  She asked for my due date, which is March 4 or March 5, 2017, depending on the calculator tool you use.  IVF gives rise to a very precise due date, since you know exactly when fertilization occurred.  Granted, our embryo was fertilized back in January and frozen 5 days later for transfer in June.

They confirmed that I am pregnant and said they saw no sign of bleeding, which was good.  The RE took the ultrasound wand and prodded around a little more, saying that she was seeing a little “cardiac movement.”  She turned on the audio function, and I was able to hear the embryo’s little heartbeat.  109bpm.  It was amazing for me to see.  Here she is, Science Baby, with her heartbeat:

Then she said she wanted to look around a bit more, because she thought she had seen TWO embryos for a second.  (Because we only transferred one day 5 blastocyst, any twins would be identical and high risk for complications; the later an embryo splits, the more likely the resulting twins are to share both a placenta and an amniotic sac AKA mono-mono or momo twins.)  After prodding a bit more, she thinks there is just one.  I guess we will see in another week.  Meanwhile, my beta came back at 41,674, which is a good sign.

Anyway, I went home feeling astonished, but not before I stopped and gorged myself on some meatball and steak pho at a local Vietnamese restaurant.  Oh my goodness, that hit the spot.  In fact, I could go for some right now.  I swear I could eat pho every day.

Next ultrasound in a week from tomorrow, at 7 weeks, 5 days.

Spotting.

Just when I was getting comfortable with our progress, yesterday evening I noticed some vaginal discharge and went to the bathroom.  Sure enough, there was some dark, brownish-red fluid in my underwear and when I wiped.

I called the clinic immediately and asked for the on-call doctor.  She asked if it was frank blood, like a period, or if I was having any pain. I said No and No, and she responded that it may be normal, but there was nothing to be done but wait and call Monday morning.

I stressed and cried last night, but in the end, I’m trying to trust that it will be all right.  It is a PGS-tested embryo, and everything has been promising so far.  I have not had any heavy, bright red bleeding, and no cramping or pain, so it’s entirely possible that it’s just irritation from the vaginal progesterone inserts.

In all honesty, I know that this process will continue to be a roller coaster.  I’m not stupid or deluded into thinking we are out of the woods.  Only time will tell, and we have to be patient.

Positive thoughts and prayers welcome.

Radio silence…

So I called my clinic about 3 times on Tuesday before the nurse called me back to schedule my ultrasound.  FOR JULY 20.  That’s almost two weeks from now and a week after I was originally told it would take place.  I’ll be almost 7.5 weeks.  Between now and then, I will have no additional monitoring.  No blood draws for hCG.  No blood draws for progesterone.  So I get to just wait with no indication of how things (or if?) are progressing.

I’m considering asking my husband to do a transabdominal ultrasound at his clinic, but I think it’s probably to early to tell anything without a transvaginal ultrasound wand.

In the mean time, I have life decisions to make.  Do I want to return to school, where I will experience unstable and meager employment and health insurance coverage, while working crazy hours, feeling moronic and inadequate, and dealing with insane pressure to produce and succeed — as grad students generally do?  Or do I give up on my dream of the PhD and find a job to offer a significantly more substantial income to our family?  Obviously early pregnancy is not an ideal time to look for a job, but I can’t help but feel that we could use the extra money.  Children are not cheap, and if we ever want to do another transfer, it will cost us thousands of dollars up front.  We have not been able to save on a veterinarian’s salary plus a grad student’s income.  We have a mortgage, car payment, credit cards, and my husband’s massive student loan debt to consider.

Adulting is hard.

I had dinner with another female academic last week.  She echoed some of my concerns about continuing.  Granted, she is in a much different discipline than I am and had her children at a different point in her academic career, so our situations are quite different.  (As a “STEM” student, her funding, which is significantly more generous than mine, is pretty much unlimited as long as her advisor supports her, so she benefits from a steady salary and cheap grad student housing.  There is no impetus for her to finish in a hurry and lose the benefits of being a student.  Because I am in the social sciences, my funding is time-limited (one 12-month fellowship year and three 9-month academic years, before I have to start teaching courses while being ABD and job hunting), so I am concerned that having one or two children in the next 5 years will throw off my timeline and leave me unable to finish;  for instance, how can I make progress through sequential courses if I need time off after delivery?)  She very much puts her family first and has been told that if she really wants to stand out, she will need to put in more hours at her lab, which she refuses to do.  She is committed to meeting her children at the bus stop after school and spending time with them until bed.  Contrast this with what one of my thesis committee members told me about raising children during her PhD — she took them to daycare in the morning, worked all day, picked them up in the evenings and drove to McDonald’s where they ate dinner and played in the funhouse while she graded papers until it was time for bed, when she went back to work.  Yikes.

Like me, this other student feels like academia is not the place to be.  Chasing tenure, dealing with internal politics, and begging for grant funding are exhausting, demanding, and often fruitless tasks that generally don’t appeal to anyone.

So, I am taking my social work licensing test and continuing to ponder my future.  I am wondering, if I go on the job market, do I have to mention that I am expecting, or because my pregnancy is “high risk” (IVF pregnancies are always high risk), do I not mention it?

I’m just going to leave this here…

Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing.

I don’t often rave about recipes I find online, but this salad was amazing.  I used to be able to get a really good Thai peanut steak salad at a restaurant near our house, but they took it off the menu awhile back, much to my dismay.  I had nearly given up trying to make something similar at home, but last week, my PhD advisor gave me some extra produce from one of our colleague’s weekly CSA boxes (including organic carrots, green cabbage, and a purple kohlrabi), and I decided I needed to give it another shot with the recipe I linked above.

Oh my goodness, I probably ate three bowls of this stuff.  We grilled some marinated chicken for extra protein, and it was just outstanding.

highly recommend trying this (if you don’t have a peanut allergy).

Beta #3, 14dp5dt

So, last night, a notice was released by our local health department stating that nitrate levels had risen at one area water treatment plant due to a heavy summer rain washing agricultural fertilizer into a local water source.  We live in the affected area, and apparently this has happened for the last couple years.  The water treatment plant is building a reverse osmosis mitigation system, but it won’t be completed until late 2017.  The health department is recommending that women over 30 weeks pregnant and infants under 6 months use bottled water for both drinking and cooking until further notice.

I’m only 4 weeks, 5 days, but obviously I was concerned.  I have been drinking loads of water, partly because of the pregnancy and partly because it’s summer.  Last night, I put down the water until I could talk to my husband about it (as a veterinarian, he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do).  He worked pretty late last night, so I didn’t get a chance to talk with him until this morning.

Well, my blood draw SUCKED this morning.  The lab tech dug around in one arm before trying the other and asking me, “Did you drink anything this morning?”  She managed to get enough to run a beta and a progesterone before giving up.  By the time she was done, I was feeling a bit woozy.  On the way out the door, I asked my husband what the issue was with my blood this morning, to which he responded, “Absolutely nothing.  Incompetent human error.”

Who knows.

My husband says I am okay to drink the water, since it’s not known to be harmful to the fetus at this point, and the situation should be cleared up in a couple weeks.  Obviously if we successfully carry this pregnancy to term and nitrate levels are elevated again next summer, we will have to either buy bottled water for a while, or install a personal RO system.

Anyway, I waited all day for the my doctor’s nurse to call me.  Again.  Generally they call around 1:30pm.  Nada.  I try super hard not to be one of those demanding, obsessive patients, but at 3:00pm, I called and left a message, then waited another hour.  Nada.  At 4pm, I called the lab and said I wanted the results.  They directed me to a customer service line who faxed the results to my local lab, where I was able to pick them up shortly before closing time at 5pm.  2258 for the beta and 21.9 for the progesterone.  The beta was great, but I was left wondering if my progesterone was okay or if I needed to change my medication schedule.

As I was walking out of the lab, my favorite IVF nurse called me and apologized that my doctor’s nurse had left for the holiday weekend before calling me.

(Note: One of the downsides to working with a large clinic is that you never know with whom you are supposed to be in contact.  There’s five or six doctors.  The doctors each have several nurses.  Then there’s the IVF department, which has nurses.  My first point of contact was my doctor’s nurse, though she now works for another doctor at the clinic.  Then I was moved over to the IVF nurses during both IVF cycles and the FET cycle.  Recently though, I’ve been getting results calls from my doctor’s new nurses, so it has felt like the IVF department is done with me.)

However, today my favorite IVF nurse, who assisted with my transfer, saved the day.  According to her, hCG was great, progesterone was great, and everything looks promising.  She asked, “Is your mom super excited?  I can just imagine her face!”  Like I said in an earlier post, IVF has been a team effort.  In that regard, if it works, it’s a team victory.

I will call the clinic on Tuesday to book our first ultrasound around 6.5 weeks.  It’s starting to get more real to me, though I still experience doubt and uncertainty.  Still, the fact that we have begun to make plans for our house and even bought a couple newborn outfits speaks to the hope we feel.

It’s going to be a long 10-14 days for the ultrasound.

Beta hCG #2

I had my blood draw this morning and waited all day for the clinic to either call me or post my results to my patient portal.  At 3pm, during a break in a meeting with my research group, I gave in and called the clinic myself.  The nurse called me back fairly quickly.

Second beta: 988.  I was astonished.  We were hoping for something around 800, so that’s crazy high.  I don’t know what that high a number really indicates, other than “good implantation.”

I have one more beta and progesterone draw Friday, and I will be scheduled for my ultrasound in about 2 weeks.

In the meantime, we need more messages like this for baby girls (though I could do without the “CUTE”):