Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Insomnia and Reassurance

This is a familiar experience: I can't get to sleep and I'm pg. Usually, I can doze off and then wake up between 2:30 to 3:30 and stay awake for another hour or so, but tonight, I'm starting the insomnia early! My sinus infection is really hurting, too, so that's not helping. But I'm hoping this will tire me out enough that I can sleep. Or at least get to bed before Conor arrives.

I sought some reassurance today about the fever. I do like that I've found journal articles, but I needed a human to talk to. So I called my doctor and I called OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. Teratology is the study of the effects of drugs, medicines and other exposures on fetuses. Through a google search, I found a handout of their's on 101 fevers and it had a number on top to talk to a local counselor. While I was waiting for the doctor to call back, I called OTIS.

First, the doctor's news: they are not worried at all over the fever and do not anticipate any problems. I, of course, blubbered upon hearing this, and felt much relieved. They worry when the fever hits 104 and he said he thought a 101 fever is very common. He was actually very, very kind and supportive. Which made me cry all the more. They know I've had two miscarriages and they are thoughtful at this practice.

The OTIC counselor was not quite as "everything is ok", but she was as close as she could get. She said that really, it's over 102 and it's for a much longer time and even if I doubled my risk (which is what the fever does) it would go from 1 in 800 to 2 in 800, again not that big of risk. And also, because I'm taking the extra folic acid, which cuts neural problems by 70% that even if I did fall in the worst case scenario (which I didn't), it wouldn't even put me at a 1 in 800 risk. I was still well below the population average.


So all in all, good news. The counselor did recommend that during my ultrasound I have them look especially at the stomach and heart, but she said that was for my own reassurance, not that she thought anything would be wrong.

Sometimes, it's nice to call and get reassurance on life's little blibs.

A few more squirts of saline up my nose and I'm going to try to go to sleep again.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yet I Still Think Everything is Going to Be OK

I was sick over this weekend: I had a fever.

In case you are wondering, it is not good to have a fever this early in the pregnancy. Phrases like "neural tube defects" keep popping up at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, I think everything is going to be ok.

First, my fever was less than 102 F. That's apparently the cut-off for "bad things could happen." At its worst, my temperature was hovering around 101.4 for about 12 hours. That is not good. But in some of the medical research I saw, the bad fevers are over 102 and last for at least 24 hours. I'm in the middle group: the not bad fever group, but also not in the no fever group. In this study, the middle group was not statistically different than the no fever group as far as medical outcomes go.

I also found a much, much, much more reassuring study looking at the interaction between early maternal fever and vitamin use. In this study, no vitamins/no fever was the control group. For women who did not take vitamins and did have a fever, the risks that someone could go wrong were pretty high compared to the control group. But for the group who did take vitamins and developed a fever, they did BETTER than the control group on nearly every single outcome. Thus, prenatal vitamins serve as a buffer to the damaging effects of the fever. Considering I have been on pre-nates for 3 years now and have been taking an extra shot of folic acid for the last 8 months, I think I should benefit from this buffer.

Nonetheless, we are in a slightly raised risk because of the fever. Last night, the ob nurse thought the fever was significant enough that she called in a prescription for antibiotics; the fever is coming from a sinus infection.

I feel completely out of it today, due in large part to taking my temperature every hour last night to see how good/bad it was.

But I do think it's going to be ok. I'm trusting my gut on this. With the last 2 m/cs, I was seriously worried when no one else believed that something was wrong. Now, I believe everything is going to be ok.

But I'd really like to catch up on my sleep. Let's hope this fever stays away so I can sleep tonight.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Unusual Place

I'm in an unusual place with this pregnancy: things are going very well.

Yes, I do know that it's very early and we haven't seen the heartbeat. But those betas are really high and the doubling rate was perfectly normal. But, apart the doubling rate, absolute hcgs aren't supposed to mean anything, right?


The general Internets are wrong about this one. After spending a day cyberloafing, umm, googling for what I could find out about hcgs at 14 and 16 dpo, it suddenly hit me that I could googlescholar this info and access the medical journals for what they had to say. (I must admit the idea came from a comment I read on Hippogriffs from a couple of years ago)

Besides newly pregnant women who are obsessed with their HCGs, apparently doctors are quite interested, too. And yay for me, most of the tests that they've done are on 14 and 16 dpo.

The good news? According to Horman et al from a 2000 study in Fertility and Sterility, when an hCG comes back over 500 on 16 dpo, the miscarriage rate by 20 weeks drops to less than 5%. That's right. Instead of the usual, 20-25% miscarriage rate they give you, with hCG over 500, you are in a whole new range of goodness. Although age plays a minor factor (the older you are, the higher the hCG needs to be to in the good place), they still aruge that absolute beta values are related to viability of the pregnancy. Since our score was 876, I thinking we are in a good place. And selfishly back to me, even if I miscalculated our dpos, and we were 15 and 17 instead of 14 and 16, by guesstimating , we still would be well over 600 on 16 dpo.

I like them there odds!!!

As for twins, ummmm, yes, actually, you CAN make a prediction about twins based on hCG. According to the another study that I forgot to save, if a woman's hCG is over 600 at 14 dpo, there is a very high chance that it's twins, ummm, like approaching 100%. Since ours was only 348, we are not there.

However, according to another research study by Zayed et al in the 2001 Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics (I'm not sure that's the right name of the journal!), when either the 14 or 16 dpo HCG is over 500, the odds of having twins are about 50-50. Over 700 and you're approaching 100% chance of twins. However, I criticize this study for having a low number of participants. Nonethelss, according to what I can see in Betabase.info, we're probably around 50-50 chance for twins based on our scores.

So there. The news looks pretty good. We have not seen a heartbeat and won't for two more weeks. But I have to say that things are looking positive for this pregnancy. And even if I messed up counting our dpos, (since one really doesn't know when one has ovulated with the docs looking in), we're still looking good on our numbers.

It's really, really hard to stay positive based on our experience. But I'm giving it my best shot. And if there are two beans in there, we've got more than enough hearts to love them forerver.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The News, It is Good

We got the first positive on 10 dpo. Despite honestly believing that I was not pg, I decided to test really early, mainly so I could have some wine Saturday. It was a faint positive, but not a really faint positive. I could tell almost immediately which the direction the test was taking.

Of course, I compulsively took tests every morning after and was thrilled to see that the tests were getting clearly darker. That has not always been the case before. Originally, I vowed to wait to tell the doctor until it would be time for the ultrasound, but patience is a virtue, and I’m not always a virtuous woman.

So, we had our first HCG/Beta test at 14 dpo along with a progesterone test. The results: 348 with a 31.7 progesterone.

We were thrilled. Even the doctor called the results “strong.”

We got the results for the second beta test at 16 dpo yesterday. The results: 876!!! That’s a doubling time of 36.7 hours and exactly in the middle of normal doubling for our beta. We’ve never had a double rate that was “normal” according to beta base so I am THRILLED about that.

We have never gotten good news like this before. Yes, I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but it seems like we’re playing in a different part of the landscape with this sort of the news.

The u/s is in two weeks and the doc went ahead and scheduled my OB nurse and OB doctor visit. I am really happy and very optimistic.

Hopefully, finally, a yay for us!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Christian Meditation

At the beginning of the year, I started learning Christian Meditation at my church. I can anticipate the reactions of my dear readers in reading that. For quite a few, it’s the “Christian” part that freaks them out. Christianity, especially in the south, can be very dogmatic ways that are quite bothersome. For others, it’s the “meditation” part. I’ve heard that around here, meditation is considered woo-woo, a word I love and reminds me pretty much of most everything people believe about California hippies.

Nonetheless, I started my meditation practice this year and I’m loving it. I really don’t think this meditation practice has the monopoly on the Christian God(dess), but it is a very prayerful as opposed to a secular meditation. I honestly have not done much meditation beyond relaxation exercises and following one’s breath, so I don’t know if all meditation is prayerful and spiritual, but what I’m learning is.

Here’s the part that is freaky: I’ve been getting messages. First, I should change my name to Joan, go to Paris and throw out the English. (HA! Just kidding) I’m actually not meditating about my country’s invasions. Instead, as you can imagine, I’m meditating about getting pregnant.

About a month ago, during the “listening time” of the meditation, I saw an image of a green tree. Now I have no idea, really, whether this was a message from God(dess), but it made me go “Wha???” which tends to be a sign that it’s not coming directly from my own consciousness. So I said, “Ok, whatever”, and I focused on the tree. It became greener and fuller and I found it comforting.

When the meditation was over, I thought, “Are trees like a big deal in infertility and I don’t know about it? Let me check Google! God can work through Google if s/he wants to.” So I googled Tree and Fertility, and after reading several sites about Christmas trees in North Carolina, I found this link to the Sheltering Tree Fertility Support Group and read this passage from Jeremiah 29:11 on their first page:

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

Ummm. Yes. I cried.

Two days later, I received a package from my sister-in-law, an editor who works on really cool Hallmark books (look at the book at the end!) in which she included a magazine article related to my work and a magazine article related to miscarriages. It took me a while to make the connection, but the cover photo of the article on miscarriages was of a woman with a stark, leafless tree in her belly. That was not my tree! The tree I saw was green and leafy! Again, I felt comforted by it.

Then about two weeks ago during the listening time of meditation, I saw an image of myself holding an infant and I was in a hospital gown. Since we have a lot of pictures of Conor and me, I checked my hair in this image and it was short. I felt comforted.

(As a psychologist, it’s really hard for me to say THESE ARE MESSAGES FROM GOD!! They could be messages from inside me that I attribute to a higher power. In fact, a lot of things that go one in religious services I interpret from a social psychological standpoint, and it makes me a bit critical in what goes on. So, I don’t really where these images are coming from, but I find them interesting and comforting)

So that is what has happened to me in the last month regarding fertility. I’ve had absolutely no “signs” of pregnancy this month, two months after our HSG, as opposed to last month when I swore I was pg. In fact, this month, I told Dave that AF was coming early and there was just no way I could be pregnant this month.

But if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that means: No sign of pregnancy is the best indicator for me that I actually am pregnant.

That’s right! We’re on the rollercoaster again! Something’s brewing in my belly.

It’s still very, very early, but so far the signs are good. I’ll get the results from the second beta this afternoon.

I have to add, also, that I am SICK as an EFFING dog. I’m talking “real” morning sickness with the yakking and horrible nausea and fatigue like you cannot imagine. Yes, I know that’s a “good sign”. But it sucks. And I’m not even 5 weeks yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Look Like a Mom

Yes, I know that I actually am a Mom, but it still freaks me out to walk by a window and see this woman of a certain age with a short sensible and maybe even cute but certainly not sexy haircut, with a Mom belly and a Mom butt in a Mom outfit with Mom sensible shoes.

I know when I became a Mom, but when did I start looking so old and Mom-ish?

Where is my other self? The one with long blond-ish hair, cute clothes, and an exercised body?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Sticker Solution

We have been slow to adopt the sticker solution. But now that we see the results, we are very happy.

Point #1: Conor has still been getting out of bed before going to sleep and standing at his door trying to get us to come back in. He does not come out of the door, but he stands there in the corner a la Blair Witch. Until The Stickers. Two nights in a row, now, we've told him that if he stays in bed after we leave, he gets to choose a Very Big Shiny Sticker to wear the next morning. And Lo and Behold, we've taken him to school with a Very Big Shiny Sticker on his shirt for the last two days.


Point #2: Easy pee-pee in the potty this morning at home followed by a fire-bear sticker.

I'll send the boy in a whole sticker suit if this solves some of our bigger problems!

How is your spring break going?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

People Will Push You Down for That Chair

That's the exact quote from the upholstery store today, right after the woman said "That is a fantastic chair!"

Dave and I are having my Grandma's white modern, sort of deco looking chair reupholstered in exactly the same white vinyl is was orignially covered in. (There are some tears in the vinyl and the springs are a little less springy than one's bum might like)

The store owner was the first to tell us that people were going to want to buy that chair when they see it. He also said that it was very well made and he just had to do a little maintenance to let it last another 50 years or so.

It's truly a great chair. I had it with my when I lived in NYC and was desperate for it out in LA. It doesn't look like a Grandma chair, but them my Grandma rarely looked like a Grandma either. Hot pink high heels and matching purse rarely fall in the "Grandma" schema of outfits.

We can't wait to have this chair restored to its chair-y glory. And yes, I will post a picture.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Big W

We see a big W in our future.

And in case you can't interpret that flashing neon sign, let me help you: wean. I don't think it's going to happen this week or next, but I see it and it's sooner rather than later for us.

Twice in the last week, Conor has been happy to lie with his head on my chest and rock instead of nursing. (Well, I should clarify: after nursing) We no longer have any middle of the night discussions about nursing because it has been clearly established that we only nursie when the sun is up.

I'm sure I'll be sad at some point when we're done. But honestly, I like it much better when he rocks with his head on my chest rather than on my boob. I feel like it shows he likes me more for me than just a boobie!

And on the subject of weird things other parents do (I know you just thought that!), I have am now convinced that parents are waaaaaaaay too concerned about what other people think of their parenting. Did you see the NY Times article last week on parents and children sleeping? I shall give you the synopsis: some kids sleep with their parents and some don't and those who do are worried about it.

What. Ever.

The part that bugged me was that even though most parents in the study admitted that their stealthy toddlers made it into their beds at some time or another, "psychologists believe it's important for children to learn to go to sleep on their own." Would someone PLEASE show me the randomized study comparing parents who "helped" their children to sleep versus those who didn't and the differences in anyone's mental, physical or emotional health. It doesn't exist. So it's basically just someone's opinion.

An opinion like I heard on a This American Life repeat (the Sept 15, 2006 one), that psychologists' in the early 1940's said that parents shouldn't kiss their children more than once a year or they will ruin them emotionally. They shouldn't even pick them up a lot because it would make them sick. And parents, well-meaning, kind-hearted parents, (I'm going to presume) LISTENED to that!

PEOPLE! Co-sleeping, not co-sleeping. Breastfeeding, not breastfeeding. Extended breastfeeding, breastfeeding just a few months. The effects of parenting style on children's health are marginal when we are talking about these sort of distinctions. Abuse, neglect and poverty have much, MUCH bigger effects on the future of the child than whether you were potty trained at age 2 or 4 or your never slept with your parents or slept with your parents until age 7.

These other issues are the luxurious worries of people who don't know what real problems are.

I have learned a lot in my 2 1/2 years of motherhood and the most important one is that my choices are not likely to be yours and It's OK. We have to do what is right for us and our children and our family unit. So sleep together! Don't sleep together! Stop worrying about it and worry about something more important. Like how we're going to get enough money to buy a B&B.