Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Second FET Cancelled

As I wrote last time, my first FET resulted in a negative beta. My lining was thin, but they let me go forward. My doctor was convinced that it was just bad luck. Even in the best case scenario, FETs only have a 50/50 success rate.

But, the bad news wasn't over with that cycle. We tried a non-Lupron protocol this time, just estradiol pills, and unfortunately my lining was even thinner. Like, a 4. Nothing. We canceled this cycle.

So, it looks like I might be at the end of the road here. My doctor is trying one last thing, which is three weeks of doxycycline and then re-checking my lining to see if it made any difference. Sometimes inflammation can cause lining to not respond to estradiol. I don't know why I'd have inflammation though. 

But despite this treatment, he said it's likely that I might not be a candidate for further transfers. He didn't have any really great explanation why. Perhaps my uterus sustained some infection and/or scarring during my c-section to have Leo. He said this is not common knowledge, but actually scarring and adhesions can result in infertility in more than 2% of c-sections. But, he's not sure, and I'm not interested in exploratory surgery at this time.Frankly, I am terrified of more procedures. And tired. Oh so tired. 

Amazingly, I have had someone offer to be my surrogate. But I don't think we are interested. Honestly, having an only child is looking better and better, the more we think about it. Though I have moments of intense sadness when I look at my toddler and wonder what the other four embryos would have been like.

At this point, I'm just taking my doxycycline and waiting for my next lining check in about three weeks and if it's a no-go, we'll be seeking homes for our embryos. 

I am feeling... so confused. Why can't I grow a lining? I have never had great linings, but a 4?!!?  Also the argument that my uterus is scarred doesn't sit that well with me, since my last lining was enough to move forward with FET #1. So why now the sudden non-response to the estradiol? Why isn't my doctor interested in other forms of estrogen?

Dr. F, my former doctor and the one who I saw again when I had my monitoring done, seemed taken aback and called my uterus "special." My Atlanta doctor also said this is unusual. I have not gone down the google rabbit hole.

I am not distraught like I was before, with the first FET. I am constantly thinking about it, but not feeling the same sharp, biting grief. It's more like a dull thud this time. I can't quite explain the change. I just feel... tired. So tired of the constant struggle. And though I do not believe anything is "meant to be," I wonder if there isn't something positive about stopping now, and focusing my energy and love on the child I already have. My head says yes. I am not sure what my heart says. My heart leans towards fighting this lining issue. I don't know what will happen, but I will have some answers in about three weeks. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

One Week Post Failed FET

As expected, my beta last Friday was negative. Zero, zip, nada. I quit taking my progesterone even before the doctor called me, because why waste the $20 each suppositories for nothing.

It was a hard, sad weekend. My mom was here and she just does not get it. She didn't say anything wrong per se, but she was fine with just having one kid and doesn't understand my yearning for another, or my sadness when I think of that perfect, lost embryo. So I tried my hardest to not talk about it, which maybe was for the best anyway.

Things I have been doing to take care of myself:
-letting myself just be sad, mostly on my own, in my own head. I have informed my friends who knew I was doing a cycle, though mostly by email because I don't feel ready to talk to most people about it yet.
-eating well but also allowing myself more treats than usual. I lost several pounds from having pneumonia but I predict I'll gain it back just through chocolate consumption this week alone.
-being sure to get 8 hours of sleep a night.
-after a frustrating attempt to find a therapist because my former one and two others are all not accepting new patients, a therapist neighbor got me connected to someone who can see me on Tuesday and I'm grateful for that. I need time and space to talk and cry and not feel guilty for my feelings or making someone listen to me. The sad part about where I am now in life is that my husband and I have very little kid-free time to actually sit down and talk, and he's not the best at this sort of thing anyway, since he's very focused on not giving up and just moving ahead. I am still stuck in the feelings of now. I had a great group of friends from my infertility support group when I was trying last time, but of them, two don't think they want another child and three did manage to get pregnant again with no intervention. They are good people but not what I need right now.

Things I haven't been able to do to take care of myself:
-exercise. I love and rely on the gym to make me feel better, but I am only 3 weeks out from a walking pneumonia diagnosis, and still feel a significant amount of discomfort in my chest/lungs. So as much as I want to go tire myself out with intense cardio, I am not sure when I will feel ready for that. I am not really a yoga person because I get bored and fall asleep, or would rather relax with a book or Netflix if I'm not going to be exercising anyway.
-really talk to anyone about this. Of course my husband gets it, as he deeply desires another child too. But his ability to be supportive is limited by his intrinsic nature of cheerfulness, and propensity to look forward to the next cycle instead of dwelling on the failed one. This is too hard for me right now, so we just avoid talking about it too much. I hope that I will find the therapist helpful next week.

My current plan is to take this month off. When I had the WTF talk with my doctor on Friday when he called with the negative beta results, he seemed surprised I'd want to take a month off. However, then he heard me cough, and agreed that some time to heal is not a bad idea. He did tell me that the pneumonia did not cause my negative pregnancy test, but these are precious, expensive embryos and I don't want to have any doubts that I'm not giving them the best possible chance, so for me that means waiting.

Another thing that came out of my phone conversation with him is a new, lowered expectation. I knew my chances of success with the fresh embryo were about 60%, but at transfer he had given me a 70% chance because I had such a stellar quality embryo to transfer. So I foolishly kept that in my head as my odds this time. And then felt totally crushed when it was negative. Dr. S told me on the call that with a frozen, the odds are only 50/50. That is much lower than I had been assuming.

So now we're in the place of paying another $5k, by the time travel and meds are included, for what is only a 50/50 chance. And with my third best embryo at this point. This does not feel good, but what choice do I have?

I am now on cycle day 5, and when I get my period I will immediately begin the estradiol again, and transfer will be around day 19. I'm a little worried this will fall right when I am due to be out of the country for a work trip, but I am trying my hardest to not stress until I know. I hope my period is early  or late and it's a moot point, but we will see. I only stare at my calendar a few times a day, willing it to work out so I don't have to wait till freaking June to try again.

So overall, I am not in a great place. I'm eating into our precious savings, and finding myself too sad to look forward to things that normally made me happy. Of course, being with my toddler is still wonderful, but it doesn't make the sadness go away in those long hours I am trapped at my desk at work or during the long evening hours after he goes to bed. My husband keeps reminding me that we are in such a better place than before we had him, and that we have plenty of frozens left, but hope and money do come in limited amounts for me. I feel sad, and disappointed, and bitter at the unfairness. Wasn't three failed IVFs and one canceled one enough, universe? Wasn't having to forgo my own genetic child and pay for donor eggs enough? Wasn't my years of wanting a child enough? I am beyond grateful to have one, but as three of my former-infertile friends have gone on to conceive on their own, it leaves me feeling bitter and confused all over again.

Enough moping. I have a plan, and I am not going to pretend the next seven weeks will be anything but long, but I will do what I can to feel as good as possible. I hope therapy helps, and I hope this dark sense of hopelessness is not completed by another negative test. Sigh. This is so hard.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Failed FET

I have not updated this in over a year. I am sure no one is reading anymore.

But I need to write today. Twelve days ago, I flew back to Atlanta and we transferred a perfect embryo, same quality as the one that made my son. Today, I took a pregnancy test and it was negative.

This cycle was far from perfect. I had lining problems. I lost hundreds of dollars on airfare when I had to delay my transfer at the last second, because my lining was too thin again. Or was it too thin? I will never really know. My local clinic thought so, my Atlanta doctor couldn't tell from the grainy ultrasound photos, then he was gone on a critical day, and so I was delayed.

In the meantime, right after I was on estrogen for an extra five days, then given the go ahead once he saw better images, and after I re-booked the flights, I came down with walking pneumonia. I spent a week in bed. I took five days of antibiotics, overlapping with the five important days leading up to transfer and the medications I was taking for that. Then I lugged my exhausted tush down to Atlanta, when I had barely gotten out of bed for a week.

We transferred one perfect, five day blastocyst. And apparently it did not take.

I had a bad feeling, but I have been telling myself that I was being irrational. I had no spotting or cramping, as I did with my first pregnancy, but I know most people do not. The lining issues were a problem but then seemed not to be. At my transfer, the nurse commented that my lining looked good. I used such a beautiful, strong embryo. I don't know, and will ask, about the possible effects of the pneumonia, but they didn't delay my transfer and they knew about it.

So I think that the end story is, I just fell on the wrong side of the statistics this time. Even with a decent lining, adherence to meds, and a perfect embryo, someone has to fall in the failures.

The pain is sharp and numb at the same time. I held my two year old this morning and felt his warmness, and I know what a miracle he is and how he has changed my life. At the same time, I feel the loss of that embryo, that could-have-been sister or brother, son or daughter. I am staunchly pro-choice and I believe an embryo is not a child, but at the same time, it could have been my child. My much loved, much wanted one. It could have been a sweet, smiling, cuddling child. This loss is as painful as my first three IVF disappointments were. I am so grateful to have a child; at the same time, I feel the loss of a child in a more defined, concrete way. I know the smell of a new baby, and the first smile.

It's not over. I have four precious embryos left in Atlanta. I am considering: do I take a cycle off, or do I plow ahead, starting the Lupron again in three weeks? How much of a factor is this pneumonia, and will I feel better in six weeks for transfer- I assume I will by then. Can I wait and see how I am doing in two weeks? I think that is the answer.

Beta is tomorrow. I will get through today. In six hours, I will be holding my little monkey boy again. He is the best medicine, both reminder of why I am doing this and what I don't have but want again. Life is so unfair. There is no reason, no cure, nothing else I can say.

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Year Old

Ten days ago, my little boy turned one year old! He is no longer a baby, but officially a toddler. I can't believe how fast this year has gone, and that I have not updated this blog in almost 9 months. I always mean to, and then get busy at work or home. But the one year mark seemed as good as any of a time to check back in.

What can I say? This year has been one of the most challenging yet one of the sweetest. From an easy pregnancy yet an upsetting birth and even more distressing troubles with breastfeeding, we moved on to my return to working full time and some of the typical challenges: trouble with sleep, missing him during the day, exhaustion at night after very full days, and never being more sure that I made the right decision. This boy is my sweet, sweet answer to why I struggled for so long to have him.

I was lucky enough that many of my friends from my infertility support group had babies around the same time as I did, and many of my regular friends also experienced a baby boom. So at his 1st birthday party last weekend, there were at least 10 other babies who had been born within a few months of mine. It's so interesting to see them reach their milestones at different times, and have such different personalities. I am so curious to see if how we view them now remains the same. For example, a friend with a baby a month younger than mine has a boy who is way bigger than my son, and way more rough and tumble. L is very gentle, very much still the baby, and though he loves to play and explore, he is most content in my arms. He's very cuddly and I'm not sure if it's just his nature, or if I've somehow made him this way. Nature versus nurture is an interesting question.

Anyway, he is exactly the boy I had wanted (well...I guess I do wish he slept a little better, but you can't have everything). He's gentle and sweet and loves to cuddle up to me at night, reaching out an arm or a leg to make sure I'm there, and nuzzling my face with his when I pick him up at the end of the day. He loves his buddies at the nanny share, but he loves to sit in my lap when we get home and have me read to him. Yes, we're still cosleeping, though only after his first wake-up, which can be anywhere from 10 pm- 3:30 am. And though it was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, giving up breastfeeding was also one of the best, and I have zero regrets. And now that's not even drinking formula anymore, it seems so long ago that it was even something I agonized over. He's big into every food I offer him now, with his favorite being sweet potato puree with coconut milk. He also loves blueberries, pineapple, and my morning oatmeal. Well, pretty much anything I am eating! He gives me those big eyes and his little bird mouth, and suddenly he's eaten half my food.

I am selective in who we talk about donor egg with. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but it's also his story just as much as mine. The infertility is my story, but his origins are his. So I don't want to post a photo of him, but he does look remarkably like our donor. He has my husband's coloring- his olive skin has lightened as he's gotten older, so he's now quite fair, with sandy brown hair and blue-grey eyes. But his features- those are the donor's, no doubt. When I compare photos, I see the resemblance. Although people are always saying they see me and my husband, I don't. I see the donor, and it does not bother me. I am grateful for her gift of her egg. But this boy, he is clearly my boy. He's cuddly and sweet and reaches for me and sleeps with his head tucked under mine. We're attached, deeply attached.

Of course, I am still me. Now that's older, I've gotten more of my life back. No doubt that it's definitely not my old life. I find it hard to make it to the gym once a week, unlike my old three times a week goal. I do still cook a nice dinner many nights, and we watch Netflix now that he's sleeping better, and I still read a ton and work full time and make yummy food to send with him to the nanny's. We see friends, though it tends to be playdates, but sometimes I sneak away for brunch with a friend who doesn't have a little one. I am looking forward to spring and returning to walks in the woods as a family. He loves to be worn in the Ergo and we love to take him along to see the trees and hear the birds and spot some deer. Although having a baby can stress a marriage, we are good most of the time. Not like the old days- no travel, not many dinners out or movies or shows, and no lazy Sunday mornings in bed. We spend quite a bit of time talking about cute he is, even after he's in bed.

So, overall, things are pretty good. We have jobs, a beautiful boy, and life is more or less stable. But no, no I cannot imagine having a second child. We are stressed much of the time. Two working parents is hard. I end up missing a lot of work just to get life done- doctor's appointments, rushing to and from the nanny's, basic house maintenance, etc. Although we do intend to have a second, it seems unimaginable to me right now. We said we'd discuss in the summer, but I don't know. Sigh. Life is busy, and there are always things to do, and I'm slacking at work and sick with colds all the time.

But overall, life is sweet with this baby. I have something to look forward to each afternoon. This baby was worth the wait.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back at Work

This is the middle of my second week back at work. The first day was hard. I bawled when I shut the door of the house where my son is staying with the nanny. I cried and cried, and had to force my feet towards the car. I felt as if something had physically been taken from my body.

Okay, that was dramatic. The good news is, things got much easier! And now, eight working days later, I'm actually rather enjoying being back at my job. This is how our daily schedule goes:

7:30 am: the three of us get up, and I feed the baby a bottle while my husband showers and eats. lots of baby giggles and smiles ensue (morning is his best time)/
8 am: we trade- husband dresses and changes the baby, I get ready for work
8:30 am: leave the house
8:40 am: drop the baby at the house of the family we share the nanny with, and I drive to work
9 am- 3 or 3:30 pm: I work. I try not to look at photos of him because it makes me sad, but I know I can look forward to seeing him before too long.
3:30-ish: I leave and pick up the baby. Reunited! Hugs and cuddles and we drive home.
4-10 pm: baby and I hang out. Sometimes he takes a short nap. I make dinner if my husband is home and can hold the baby. If not, I am bad and eat nuts for dinner. After dinner, maybe some Netflix with him on one of our laps, usually napping.
10:30-ish: we feed him one last bottle and go to bed
4:30 am: baby wakes up, has a bottle, we go back to bed
7:30 am: it all begins again

So, life is not too hectic. And on a good day, this schedule actually works! On a bad night, like last night, he was up three times, not once (not sure why, maybe teething...). But I don't really mind.

One thing I've been surprised at is how judge-y people are. I've gotten over any lingering guilt about not breastfeeding or pumping, but now it's our sleeping arrangements that people like to criticize. For the first few months, the baby slept in his co-sleeper half the night, and in my arms half the night. Since I've been back at work, I want to breathe in his sweet baby smell as much as I can. Also, he settles a lot faster when he's in bed with me. So we sleep together, me on my side, him in my arms, and the blanket holding me so I don't roll backwards (I have a bed that's just a bit too soft). But I've learned that people think I'm spoiling him, and that now he'll "be in bed with you when he's 10." Ummm, no he won't. We just sleep better, and I am at work all day, so what's wrong with being close when we are both home? And no, he won't be in bed with me when he's 10. I promise. I figure in a few months he'll be sleeping better and probably want his freedom, and anyway once he starts rolling over, it might be safer to have him in his own space. So, lesson learned: don't tell people how we do things. Everyone has an opinion, and thinks they have a right to express it. I don't care. This is what works for me, and works for my baby. I waited many long years to have this little guy, and I can sleep with him if I want to.

As far as him being the result of donor egg, we still have kept this information mostly to ourselves, my family, and a few friends. It's funny though, I am still occasionally told how much he looks like me. I guess we chose our donor well! I personally do not see a resemblance, other than the fact that he has my hair and skin color. His eyes seem to be staying a grey-blue, which is surprising because both his daddy and the donor have green eyes, but they are pretty so I think it's nice. I am now the only brown-eyed one in the house- even the cat has big blue eyes!

He's not quite as big as the cat, but getting close...
I am slowly getting back into cooking and watching Netflix and even occasionally reading, and being at work is kinda nice, but I do think about my baby all the time. I guess that's what being a parent does. And I am convinced- CONVINCED- that this baby is the cutest baby in the world. When people who are in the know ask if I've considered trying for baby #2 naturally- you know, just to see if it could happen- I almost feel like laughing. First of all, I do not believe it's likely it could happen. But second, this baby is SO great, that using my own eggs might be foolish! How could I do any better than what I was given??

I am not a religious person, but I feel truly blessed to have had this work for me. Infertility was the worst, but it has made me appreciate this time, now that the dark days of pumping and depression have passed. Even the cat has come around to accepting the baby (see photo above). All in all, this is a very sweet time in my life. It's not perfect- I still can't wear pants since my c-section and my husband recently was laid off at work- but the major problem in my life is now a thing of the past. It's not gone, I still feel a twinge when hearing about someone who easily conceives or has five kids or complains about their children loudly- but the pain and bitterness DO get better.

Friday, May 9, 2014

11 Week Update

Today is my son's 11 week birthday. I'm sitting in his room, which I used to never go into. It was a dreaded empty room, waiting for years to have a baby for it. But now it might be my favorite room in the house. We've fixed it up cute, and though he doesn't sleep in here yet, I spend plenty of time changing him, dressing him, and rocking him in here. Right now he's happily gurgling away in the swing next to me.

After the heavy last entry, I thought I should give an update. To summarize: life is pretty good. It was a dark, dark time for many weeks there. As I wrote last time, his birth went differently than expected, and we struggled with major feeding issues. At around six weeks, I made the hardest- and best- decision of our brief acquaintance. I quit pumping. I quit breastfeeding. It just wasn't working, and I was becoming non-responsive to the pump. I dreaded every pumping session, because sometimes he would cry, and once I was hooked up, there wasn't much I could do. I'd pray he wouldn't cry, and if he did, I'd have to jiggle him on my lap, trying desperately to get enough milk for his next meal. At night, we were forcing him to get up on the pumping schedule, not letting him wake naturally for meals. I was barely sleeping more than 2.5 hours at a clip. I was exhausted, and still mostly having to use formula anyway. This arrangement was making me a really unhappy mama.

So, I quit. It took almost three weeks to wean from the pump, because my breasts are really... responsive? I don't know. I just am really prone to clogged ducts and so I had to take it nice and slow. But life is SO MUCH BETTER NOW.

In a way, I think breast pumps are a scourge of modern life. I know many women who exclusively pump, and while some are willing to do anything to give their babies breast milk, many of us are miserable and live guilty lives, thinking we have to keep up these unrealistic schedules, trying to pump and care for a newborn. And I am totally not convinced breast milk is really the be-all, end all anyway (article link here, if you care). My son is healthy and thriving on formula, and my bonding has increased in a major way since I made the decision to stop forcing the issue. He's happy with a bottle, I'm happy with not being chained to my pump, and we've made the best of it. I chose donor egg partially so I could breastfeed, but it didn't increase our bonding, it just stressed us both out. Perhaps it will be different if I am fortunate enough to have another baby. They seem to think it's related to his breech presentation, and there's not a huge likelihood I will have another breech baby (though with my luck, I wouldn't be surprised...).

Anyway, enough about pumping. Being a mom is about more than feeding.


I believe my postpartum blues clouded this for a while at the beginning, and it's only in the last three or four weeks that my love has fully blossomed, unclouded by the anxiety I struggled through at the beginning. I am now more deeply bonded to this little creature than I ever thought possible.

And you know what? This is weird, but he looks nothing like my husband. Okay, maybe his bad hair, ha ha (he has a weird receeding hairline at 11 weeks old- maybe the hair will still grow in!). He has my coloring, dark hair and olive skin, because we picked a donor who looks like me. But my son- he looks a LOT like our donor. He has her nose, for sure. My husband kinda has a big honker, and I have a medium nose, but my son has this cute little button nose that turns up at the end. And when I look back at the donor's photos, it's an exact replica of hers. It's unmistakable.

But this bears emphasizing: I do not care one bit. I see her every time I contemplate his features, and it matters not one bit to me. I really thought, while pregnant, it would be a bigger loss. But it's not. I remain grateful to her every day, and thankful we could pursue this treatment, but this boy feels 100% mine. I grew him, I sleep curled next to him every night, I cuddle him all day long, I feed him bottles while he stares deeply into my eyes and rewards me with the cutest, sweetest smiles. This boy is a true miracle child.

I go back to work in one month and I cannot imagine being apart from him. Unfortunately I can't quit, due to the expense of donor egg and also the scarcity of jobs in my field if I wanted to find a new one later. But I do hope I can cut my hours a bit so I can leave at 3 and spend some extra time each day with him. I'm not sure if I can, but I'll deal with it once I am back there.

And a parting word: postpartum depression is real. I'm not sure I had true depression, but certainly more than the regular baby blues. And having gone through infertility is a true risk factor for experiencing the dark places I went to. I think it's because we try so hard to have a baby, and then when it arrives and it's so hard, we blame ourselves for not only experiencing rainbows and unicorns. Add in a hard birth and some medical issues, and there's a recipe for trouble. I wish I had known this, and I plan to be as open with my hard times as I try to be about the struggle to get pregnant.

As a parting word, I'll say that this has been the hardest 11 weeks of my life. But when I wake up with the baby in my arms each morning, I know it was worth it. I'd do it again, I'd struggle through infertility and IVFs if I had to, but this boy is the best thing that's happened to me since marrying my husband. I thank the universe, my perseverance, and the donor a million times over. Thank you.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Finally, an Update: My Birth Story, my Baby, and My Postpartum Life

My little one arrived at 38 weeks and 1 day, on February 20th, 2014. His name is Leo and he is a sweet, sweet little boy.
Leo, on day 4

Today he is already 5.5 weeks old. I know, I know- I have been really bad about updating this blog. I have multiple reasons for this.

First, his birth was really hard. I had been receiving care from a midwife practice throughout my pregnancy, and other than some spotting in the end of the first trimester/beginning of the second trimester, I'd had a really healthy, easy pregnancy. This all changed when I went in for my 38 week check up. I had missed my 37 week check up because it had snowed and the roads were too icy. Since I'd been so healthy, they said not to worry about it. But when I went in at 38 weeks, my blood pressure was high. I've always had borderline normal to high blood pressure, but I had crossed the line where they start to worry. I think it was around 138/95. Not awful, but not great. They did test my urine and I had no protein in it, which was good. But they told me to get some lunch, and then swing by the hospital for a quick blood draw and an ultrasound to check the fluid levels. Okay, no big deal. So I did that, and the bad news is that my blood pressure remained high. So they turned on the ultrasound and as it flickered on, the midwife let out a gasp and said, "That is NOT a head!"

Yup. Although I'd been told for weeks that my baby was head down, they had been WRONG. And the shitty thing is, I think I had always known this. I'd been feeling a really, really hard thing up under my ribs on the right side. The midwives had never done anything but a cursory feel, and proclaimed it to be a butt, but I was always skeptical, and then always brushed off my concerns. And then, sure enough, I had a breech baby.

So, with the blood pressure remaining high and the breech presentation, they called in the high risk OB and it was decided I should deliver my baby soon. The recommendation for high blood pressure is to deliver between 37 and 39 weeks, and I was right at 38. I asked if we could delay, but they really weren't excited about the risks. And after having seen the characters with preeclampsia in "Call the Midwife" and "Downton Abbey," I was scared too. I tearfully asked for one night to prepare, and they agreed. Also, the OB on call in the morning was skilled at doing external versions to try to flip breech babies, so the timing was good.

I went home, panicky and shocked, and we called our families to tell them what was happening. My mom said she'd drive down first thing the next morning. I told work that I would not be back again.

This was all a huge, horrible shock to me. I'd had such a healthy pregnancy. And although 38 weeks is full term, it's not ideal to deliver that soon. But I wanted a healthy baby, and this seemed to be what the doctors and midwives recommended.

I didn't sleep much that night.

In the morning, I remained a ball of dread and anxiety. Although some of me was excited to meet my baby, I was still in such shock at this sudden turn of events, and worried that he wouldn't be ready to come out or would need care. They told me it was unlikely but possible that he'd need help breathing, and I tried to focus on the unlikely part.

So this was the plan: get to the hospital at 7:30 am, and try the version to see if he'd flip. If he did, we'd immediately induce me and try for a vaginal birth. If he did not flip, we'd move into a c-section to get him out. If the version resulted in a problem such as a placental abruption (about a 2% risk, and terrifying), we'd have to have an emergency c-section, which was my biggest fear. I wanted desperately to be awake to meet my baby.

At the hospital, it was a lot of waiting around. Finally around 10:45, they moved me into the operating theater. I had been offered an epidural. It was just an option, because if the version worked, I would be trying a vaginal birth. Although I had always thought I'd try it unmedicated, I was such a ball of freak-out at this point that I said I wanted all the drugs they could offer. Also, the version is supposed to be very painful.

So I got an epidural and a spinal, with my husband out of the room. It was scary, but I was held by a nurse and remained pretty calm. I focused on meeting my baby.

The version took about 15 minutes, and was unsuccessful. I had not had high hopes and had already accepted the inevitable.

In a blink of an eye, I was prepped and the c-section began.

About 15 minutes in, I felt a tugging that became stronger and stronger, and then my son was lifted up and out of me, and held above the blue curtain. I cried and cried. He was perfect and healthy, and did not need a breathing tube. A few minutes later, he was brought to me and held to my chest. At which point, I decided I needed to throw up (thanks, epidural) and so my husband held him instead.

One hour from the start, I was sewn up and taken to recovery, with my perfect, healthy, small but not too small, 6.7 pound baby boy.

Just hatched!
First photo after birth

And this is where things got joyful and also really, really hard. The c-section was actually not very bad or very scary, but recovery was rough. I don't know WHY anyone would ever elect to have a section. I had a catheter in for 24 hours, I lost a lot of blood (enough to have a transfusion, though we decided against one because I was borderline), and the indignity is intense: I was wiped up between the legs on a regular basis by multiple nurses, and shaved in the operating room by a middle aged man named Diego or something, in front of at least 12 people. I couldn't get out of bed for a day or so, and I spent four nights in the hospital. Leo didn't latch on for eight hours, and I believe our breastfeeding troubles (more on this later) stem from either his early arrival or the c-section or both.

I don't want to go into the hospital stay too much, but suffice it to say I loved my baby, and hated everything else. It was impossible to get any sleep in the hospital, there were teams of people in my rooms at all time (a teaching hospital has it's drawbacks) and I was told there were multiple things wrong with my baby, none of which turned out to be true (heart murmur, failed hearing tests, and something much worse which I will also discuss later). But at the same time, I was in a fair amount of pain from the surgery, and I was having a horrible time with breastfeeding, and the hormonal swings were nearly incapacitating, so it was nice to be in a hospital with services available.

After four nights we returned home, and this was challenging too. One of the main problems was my unhelpful mother, who criticized our decision to bottle feed our baby. This was not our choice: he was not gaining weight from breastfeeding, and I was horribly engorged and needed to relieve the pressure with a pump, and I needed my baby to gain weight so we were using a combo of SNS, a syringe, and the breast. It was a nightmare, and he kept losing weight, and we saw so many lactation consultants... it is all a blur to me now, but it was a hard, dark time. I never understood postpartum depression, and this is an entry for another time, but it hit me hard, and I continue to struggle.

I mentioned earlier that we were told he might have a serious medical condition. It's still hard to talk about it, but the summary is that the peds teams said he might have a skull condition that would require surgery. Thank goodness, three weeks after he was born we met with a reconstructive surgeon and Leo was cleared as not having the condition. His head was just a little funny shaped because he was breech. It's already starting to get better as he grows up and his head re-forms. We have a follow-up with the specialist in three months.

The breastfeeding issue remains. We are not sure why he has such a lousy suck, but he lost about 12% of his weight, which is not good. So we had to try lots of different things, but ended up with me pumping my breastmilk and feeding him from bottles. Where I had a very ample supply to begin with, it's been reduced through his lack of sucking at the beginning and my bitter hatred of pumping. So now we give him about 60% breastmilk and about 40% formula. And I breastfeed on occasion, but I spend a vast chunk of time pumping and bottle feeding. I am struggling with what to do about this. I can't pump forever, and I don't believe formula is evil, but I feel a lot of guilt in my considering giving it up. I am still undecided.

His birth did not go as I had hoped or expected, and the feeding is very disappointing and stressful. But, there are shiny moments in all of this. I love, love, love to wear him close to my body in the Moby wrap, since I don't get the closeness from breastfeeding. It took me awhile to be okay with this, but I now sleep curled up around him, with his little head on my shoulder and his body pressed to mine. True, I have to sleep in the guest room because the bed is harder/safer than my cushy bed, and I now sleep separate from my husband so we all get a little more sleep, but sleeping with my baby is one of my favorite parts of the day. I always mean to get stuff done during the day, and I do, but I also spent long amounts of time just rocking him and staring into his tiny face. This is love, and despite my crying almost daily because of stress and sleep deprivation and sore breasts and being chained to the pump, this is my son, and this is why I endured all those years of infertility, tests, and heartbreak.

For all of you out there still struggling, I can't say it's been easy, but it's worth it. Though to be terribly honest, childbirth was not what I'd hoped, since really, I didn't experience it, just had a surgery. And I can't breastfeed as a primary nutrition source, so that's not working out how I hoped either. On my dark days, I wonder if adoption would have been an equally fulfilling road to parenthood.

But then I look into my son's face, and I can't imagine having anyone other than him.

As I said before, it's not easy, but for me, it's worth it.