Sunday, January 8, 2012

The cat is out of the bag, and now I can actually blog

My first pregnancy was a very different experience from my current pregnancy. First and foremost, my current pregnancy was a complete accident, whereas it took several hundred needles to get into and get through my pregnancy with Jack.

We moved through the infertility process quickly. With a combination of hypothalamic amenorrhea and polycystic ovarian syndrome, it was very obvious that there was no potential for natural pregnancy. See, I simply don't ovulate. Ever. Like, even when I was a teenager. And when you don't ovulate, all the sex in the world 'aint going to get you pregnant.

But I was pretty clueless about the fact that I couldn't get pregnant. See, until I went off the pill, I didn't know anything was wrong. And the longer I was off the pill, the worse my hormones got and the more impossible ovulation became. I tried diet. I tried exercise. Lower my blood sugar and the hypothalamic amenorrhea gets worse. Raise my blood sugar and the PCOS gets worse. I scoured primary literature until my eyes were red. I tried herbs and supplements and learned "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" front to back. Other than going on the pill to regulate my hormones and hoping for a fluke ovulation off of it, there was no hope - and I'd already found that the pill didn't suppress me enough to make ovulation happen. I could have waited until I got close to menopause in the hope of a hormonal sweet spot, but that was not a viable option. I didn't have a flicker of response to the highest doses of minor fertility treatment, and my response to the stronger treatments nearly made me a penta-mom. (Literally. I ovulated 5 eggs all at once, a hazard of PCOS).

We were not willing to risk higher order multiples, so we turned to single embryo transfer IVF within a year. It worked. It worked beautifully. We had Jack, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

We were incredibly lucky. My infertility had a name, and it had a treatment, and we had access to some of the best reproductive endocrinologists in the country. I used to work for the doctor that performed our IVF, and he fast-tracked me straight from a useless OB into the fertility clinic. I don't regret this speed of action for a single minute. Our priority was to minimize the emotional pain of the process, and so we moved quickly to our solution. The movement made me feel good. At least I was doing something.

But even in our good fortunate, it was difficult. The dark part of the journey is one that I don't talk about. I don't share it because I've learned that the only other people who can understand are ones who have been through it themselves, and when I try to share, it usually just hurts. There are no analogies to describe the physical and emotional pain of infertility. It is just awful. It is more awful than it rationally should be - but then again, the desire to procreate is anything but rational.

And so this pregnancy? This pregnancy, this incredible, most wonderful surprise? It is just so damn different.

I mean, we picked Jack. We literally picked him out of an embryo lineup. It was between #14 and #11, and we picked #14. Even though you, the reader, were not a genetic participant in that process - doesn't it just boggle your mind?

It sure boggles mine. Jack was the last egg out of me and the first embryo back in. I knew Jack when he was several hundred cells old. I knew him by sight before he even existed.

To get pregnant the first time, I swallowed toxic pills and injected myself with hormones for 2 months. Bloodwork and ultrasounds for 14 days. I endured an indescribably painful egg retrieval, for which my anesthesia did not work. Greg contributed his "sample". We weren't even present for conception. I received daily updates on the embryo growth. We picked Jack. A plastic catheter shoed him back up into my uterus. I spoke about this process on an hourly basis to my IVF message board. I felt him implant exactly 36 hours after he was placed in my uterus. I still remember where I was standing and what I thought ("Holy shit. Was that what I think it was?"). The pregnancy test was positive and that was just the start. Weekly ultrasounds, blood draws, constant monitoring and communication with medical staff. 1cc shots of progesterone in sesame oil in my butt (sorry, it is what it is) every night for WEEKS (and I had a latent allergic reaction to the sesame - ugh). All of that, every little bit consuming my every waking thought for weeks, months. All of that, necessary and central to my experience.

The knowledge, the control over that pregnancy - it was immense. The joy, at least initially, was absent.

And this pregnancy? It was the most wonderful surprise. It was terrifying. It was pure shock and happiness and fear all rolled up into one. It was hope, more hope even than with Jack - because with Jack, we had feedback, and this we had nothing but our hope. There was no action to take, just a miracle to ponder. Was our little embryo doing OK? Could I really go 16 months without a period and have a healthy uterus? How was my body actually able to do this on its own? It was a gift I never, ever, ever thought I could receive - the gift of a natural and perfect mystery.

How could something so accidental, so incredibly capricious, how could it change our life so much? This wasn't supposed to happen to us. This was unimaginable to me.

And yet here we are. We've hit the 12 week mark and I have calmed down. I trust that Baby #2 is doing OK. We didn't get many ultrasounds. We didn't get much bloodwork.

We just got pregnant.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

ETA, 7/18/2012

I promise, this will be a good story, if you can get to the end.

First there was 16 months of this:

Which made my many screwy hormones go like this:

That helped my ovaries, which looked like this:

Start looking a little more like this:

But I didn't know that at the time. So when I did this:

I wasn't doing this:

And I shouldn't have been surprised that it resulted in the right hormones doing this:

But I was very surprised when, well, when... when there was this:

I looked something like this:

Greg looked something like this:

We both did a lot of this:

Plus plenty of this:

And at 12 weeks into the pregnancy, we got to see this:

My body is starting to do this:

And so it is finally starting to be very...

28 weeks from today, on Jack's second birthday, 7/18/2012, we will be hoping for a very special delivery indeed: