Thursday, November 3, 2011

The End

Anastasia (Mei-Mei) is now over two months old.  So many roadblocks  could have prevented her from even being conceived, not to mention all the other things that could have gone wrong. 
I'm in a state of perpetual amazement that Cradles and Graves has ended with a cradle!  



It's been a long journey that began with one critical step - daring to try again despite multiple losses and infertility.  Trying again could have brought us the worst disaster we'd ever faced.  Instead it brought us our finest hour!

The hope and courage to try again were largely inspired by Cindy, who showed us that success is possible even after multiple losses.  Thank you, Cindy, for being willing to share your experiences!   My wish is that through this blog, I can pass on that hope and courage to others who have experienced similar losses and are afraid to try again.  It really is possible to have a live, healthy baby even after multiple cord-related losses.  Post-loss pregnancy is very hard,  but also very worth it!

It's been a joy "meeting" so many wonderful bloggy friends over the past few years.  Thank you for all the kind words, prayers, and support!  And with that, I will sign off:

Good morning, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Contest!


Well, it's my penultimate post.  Blogging has been fun (despite some very grim subject matter), therapeutic, and educational.  I've learned a lot from reading your blogs and will continue to follow along.  Before I sign off on my blog, it's time for one last chance at fun prizes here at Cradles and Graves.  Here's the scoop:

The objective is to match the items in The List below to the post referencing it - you can use the post title or date.  [Example:  AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Are Not Dirt Cheap (7/5/10)]  You get one point for each match. All the answers can be found in posts dated from November 2010 until now.

Email me your answers on or before October 31; DON'T put your answers in the comments section below - that is just helping the competition! My email is cradlesandgraves at yahoo dot com

This is intended to be EASY. Almost all of the answers are in the post titles, so just look at the archive list. Three items are quotes within posts and can easily be found using the handy "Search This Blog" feature on my sidebar.

The person with the most points wins a $30 Victoria's Secret gift card.  If it's a tie then the prize goes to the person who got the score first.  It's fine to send multiple emails - send them whenever you find answers and I will keep a tally of your total.
One winner will be chosen randomly, so make sure to enter even if you find only one answer.  [Hint:  Look at the post just below!]  The winner will get a selection of fine chocolates and shortbread.


YOU can win.  It doesn't matter if you're a blogger or not.  Doesn't matter if you're a previous winner here, or if you live in a different country.  Or whether you're just stopping by for ICLW or are a long-time real-life friend.  

The List:  

1) the musical Annie
2) Tori Amos
3) A period of violence that occurred for one year and one month after the onset of the  French Revolution
4) The Beatles 
5) Tracy Bonham
6) Johnny Cash
7) Christian hymn
8) Bill Clinton
9) Charles Dickens
10) The Joy Luck Club
11) Lady Gaga
12) Led Zeppelin
13) Leo Tolstoy
14) A pop standard from the 1940's by Frank Loesser
15) A young-adult novel by Lois Lowry
16) Madonna
17) Marilyn Monroe
18) John Mellencamp
19) H. Ross Perot
20) Queen
21) Orson Welles
22) TV show in which the hosts use scientific methods to test the validity of various myths and misconceptions
23) TV show that profiles fugitives wanted for various crimes
24) Variation on the title of a theological book by C.S. Lewis
25) Young MC
26) 1967 romantic comedy/drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft
27) 1977 comedy film produced and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays the lead role of new administrator of The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous
28) 1995 comedy based on Jane Austen's novel Emma 
29) 2000 movie about a hostage rescue starring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe

Update November 1:  And now, the winners of my contest! The Victoria's Secret gift card goes to Embracing the Rain, who scored an impressive 28 points.  I've decided to pick TWO random winners, so chocolates/shortbread go to Jana at Find Joy Now and Sissy Wisk in Kentucky.  

Also, here's a recent pic of Mei-Mei:







Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Suicide Bombs and Sleeper Cells

One of the many great delights of being pregnant was that it put my endometriosis in remission.  Now that I am breastfeeding, my hope is to enjoy at least another full year of feeling fabulous.  I also hope to keep my knees together and stay out of the stirrups, 'cuz I'm a lady.  

These days, my mind is usually occupied with happy things, but sometimes I worry about what awaits me when the endo becomes active again.  I picture the endometrioma(s) on my lone ovary as suicide bombers just waiting for the chance to blow it all to hell.  


And of course there are all the other endo implants lurking who-knows-where.  Right now they're sleeper cells,  but they may become quite menacing once activated. 

I've already had some familiar, though short-lived pain since Mei-mei was born.  Alarmed that the sleeper cells may be reactivating so soon, I reported this to the proper authority.  According to my doctor, the pain is likely caused by my innards yanking on some adhesions as they shift back into place.  

My doctor also mentioned birth control.  Ha!  He said he's seen miraculous post-IVF pregnancies, but I don't think that will happen to me.  Improbable things don't happen to me!  I don't know whether a do-it-ourselves pregnancy is impossible or just extremely improbable.  Maybe adhesions have distorted my anatomy.  Or maybe my only tube is blocked.  I have no intention of doing any sort of tests to find out:


As far as reproduction is concerned, Q and I are taking a laissez faire approach. I'm 99.9% certain that we can't make another baby just with tools we have around the house.  While we would welcome another living child, we have no intention of messing things up by risking another traumatic loss.  Not that it's up to us anyway - thanks infertility!  The objective now is to relax and enjoy our lives sans fertility treatment.  For me, no more charting, no more injections, and no more planning my life around doctor appointments.  For Q, no more Wacking Day, no more Uplifting Reading in The Back Room, and no more dealing with an erratic hormonal wife.  Ok, so maybe he's not totally off the hook on that last one.  

Since our story has reached a very happy ending and there will be no trying again, the time is nigh for signing off on this blog.  But first we will be having a little contest and giveaway, so stay tuned!


If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, 

on where you stop your story.  -Orson Welles

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anastasia Has the Answers

Right before Q and I got married ten years ago, we realized I might have reproductive issues but I never could have imagined just how hard family-building would be.  I'm very thankful to have our happy ending here in my arms.  My family is now as complete as it's going to get, but I'll always wonder why it all happened this way.

Why did everything go so perfectly for Anastasia but not for Jeremiah and Miles?  What made the difference?   I wish I could know why, not only for myself but also for other women like me and for my children, in case there is some risk for them when they start having children of their own.  Was it a lucky combination of genes?  Was it the aspirin and pig intestinal mucous I injected into myself?  Did the fistful of supplements I took daily help?  Anastasia has the answers, but she's not talking.

Last week I was able to see the pathology report on Anastasia's placenta and cord.  According to the pathologist, everything looked absolutely normal.  I'd have to fill out some paperwork and pay a ridiculous fee in order to get a copy of the report for myself, so I don't have it to post on the blog.  Maybe I'll get to it later, but for now I spend too much of my limited free time trying to get United Hell Care to pay up on all the medical bills.  Instead, you can enjoy these lovely photos of the placenta.  Or if you'd prefer to skip that, you can enjoy these lovely photos of Anastasia instead:



One month old
Return to Pooh Corner 
Our family tradition is to take photos of our babies with these stuffed toys each month until the baby is one.  It's a great way to see how quickly they grow.  Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore had been unemployed and collecting dust for years during our family downturn. What a joy it is to see them back at work with our new baby girl!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mythbusters: The Glowing Tomato

What does one do with all those leftover syringes once treatment is done?  Q and I tried to get creative.  Here are the results:

1)  I saw this video on YouTube and decided to find out if this is really possible.



I tried it, but my tomato looked nothing like this picture - not even the faintest glow.  All I ended up with was a leaky, stinky mess.  This myth is busted.



2)  Q did find the large syringes useful for applying glue to his model railroad:


3) And I use them to clean out blown eggs for making pysanky:


And while we're on the subject of needles, here is my impressive collection of used ones.  The grand total is 491!  I must give Q credit for helping me out with maybe ten of the PIO shots, but I self-injected with the other 481.  I turned all my sharps in at the clinic today.  No more needlework for me!  Time to find a new hobby!


Fun Math Fact:  If you put just the needles end to end they would reach over 26 feet (8 meters).  A needle that long could skewer this giant crocodile the long way...with 5 feet to spare!




Friday, August 26, 2011

Ordinary is Extraordinary!

Mei-mei is nearly two weeks old now.  Yes, we still call her Mei-mei often but we're also getting used to Anastasia.  She is such a sweet baby and we all just adore her.


Now that I have a minute, I thought I'd post her birth story while I still remember everything.  Even though the labor and birth likely would have gone the same way had I been induced, I was very glad I went into labor naturally.  I had a few contractions Saturday night before 10 PM, so decided to skip my heparin shot and go right to bed.  I was exhausted and that is no way to start labor.  Q and I got a couple hours of sleep and by 2 AM decided to head to the hospital.  Q's mom had stayed with us a few extra days, so we didn't have to worry about the kids.

Driving to the hospital was easy and fast in the middle of the night on a weekend.  I had a some strong contractions along the way and was very thankful we didn't have to drive into the city during rush hour!  After checking in and getting hooked up to the monitors, I was very disappointed to find out I was still only dilated to 2.  And did I mention I was already exhausted before this even began?  So I put in a few more hours sitting on the birthing ball and in bed because I was too tired to be up and about more than that.  Still stuck at two!

Time loses all meaning when you're in a lot of pain, but I'm guessing it was about 9 AM before I got to 4 or 5 cm dilated.  Contractions were erratic.  This was looking like it would be another 30+ hour labor!  The doctor suggested breaking my water and/or trying pitocin to turn things up.  More speed sounded like a good idea; more pain did not.  Mei-mei had been handling all the contractions without any problems, so I decided to try the strategy that finally got my first daughter born after a 30+ hour labor - an epidural.  Lots of people say an epidural can slow labor down and cause distress for the baby.  Not so for me.  Just like last time, things moved along quickly after the epidural and baby handled it all beautifully.

The doctor broke my water and a short time later added a little pitocin.  It was probably around 1:30 PM that I told Q to go get the nurse because it felt like Mei-mei was moving down.  Sure enough, it was time to push!  For me, this part has always gone quickly - Mei-mei was out and screaming by 2:11!  She was perfectly fine and healthy and so was I.

No dead baby this time!  Also no gushing blood during labor, no having my baby whisked off the NICU, and no problems getting the placenta out.  And only a tiny first degree tear for me.  It was a very ordinary labor (17 hours) and a very ordinary birth resulting in an average-sized baby.   This was my last time having a baby and my first time having it all go smoothly.  It was extraordinarily ordinary!

Happy to be going home!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back on the Outside



One of America's Most Wanted is back on the outside!  Anastasia was born August 14 at 2:11 PM.  She weighed in at 7 pounds 11 ounces and is 21 inches long.  Placenta and cord looked pretty normal to me and were sent to the lab.  I'll post the results in a few weeks when we get them.

The kids visited last night and are delighted with their new sister.  Anastasia and I are both doing great.  More details later, but the birth went the same way as the pregnancy - the most normal I've ever had!




Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tomorrow

We have contraction action!  It appears that something is finally happening...and since I'm Annie, here's what I'm singing right now:


The sun will come out, tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun
Just thinking about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow


After all we've been through there will always be some sorrow, but what a difference a happy ending will make!  So check back tomorrow and hopefully I'll have great news!  Actually, with my history of very long labors, it may be the day after tomorrow.  But soon!





Tomorrow, tomorrow, i love ya tomorrow,
You're only a day away



Friday, August 12, 2011

Overdue



Our little rabbit is late!  Forty weeks plus one day and no contractions to speak of.  I was extremely depressed yesterday.  It's the fourth time in a row that a due date has come and gone and I still don't have a live baby in my arms!  Of course it was utterly ridiculous to be so depressed since this time I have a live baby in my belly!  Nevertheless, I had a breakdown (sorry Q! and Susan!) but am doing better today despite my recalcitrant cervix.

Today's appointment was exactly the same as the last two - ten out of ten for Mei-mei, one to two centimeters dilated for me.  Therefore, the plan is to go into the hospital on Sunday evening for cervical ripening overnight, followed by whatever needs to be done to get this party started.  It seems unlikely my body will suddenly get into gear on its own before then, but a girl can dream.  After all, it is a full moon tomorrow.  Come on, moon!  Do your stuff!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bust a Move

Mei-mei seems to be very comfortable right where she is.  Another 10 out of 10 on testing today, after which I stripped for another stripping of the membranes.  Thankfully it wasn't so painful this time, but my cervix remains stuck at about 1 or 2 centimeters.  At least it seems to be softening and shortening, but my uterus hasn't even been "irritable" lately.  There are still no contractions to speak of.  Whenever anyone asks how I am doing, I say I am feeling fantastic.  But I don't want to feel fantastic!  I want to be having contractions.  Lots of them.  I'm getting more desperate by the hour.



In addition to the fatigue of constantly worrying whether Mei-mei will make it out alive, there are two other reasons why this is wearing on me so much.  One is that my mother-in-law has to leave on Saturday morning, so there is a very real possibility that I will have no help whatsoever after Mei-mei actually arrives.  I suppose I'll manage alright if the birth goes smoothly, but if it doesn't I'll be in big trouble.

Secondly, I do NOT wish to be induced.  I really thought things would happen on their own last week, but here I sit still pregnant.  I am certainly not complaining about being pregnant - not after all I've been through to get here!  But it will end (hopefully very happily!) and when it does, it would be very nice to recover quickly so I can just enjoy!

I just need my good luck to continue through birth, recovery, and far beyond!  I've been having such an incredible streak of good luck ever since last November!  Thanks Switch Flipper!


- This one day we was out walking like always, and then, just like that, somebody turned off the rain, and the sun come out. (Forrest Gump)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Irritable

The last few days have been uneventful.  I kept my calendar blank this week in anticipation of Mei-mei's arrival, only to be bored out of my mind.  I try to set up play dates and activities for the kids but it doesn't always work out on short notice.  So then they're bored out of their minds too and pass the time by fighting.  

My mother-in-law arrives today, so hopefully Mei-mei will show up soon also.  Today's appointment showed Mei-mei doing well with another 10 out of 10.  My cervix is still long and unfavorable for induction, but is now dilated to a whopping two centimeters.  Also the Non-Stress Test showed that my uterus is "irritable", which surprised me because I'm not feeling anything at all - not even mild contractions.  Once my uterus gets as irritable as I am, then we might see some action!




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Delayed Launch

Mei-mei took her sweet time passing her biophysical profile today, but once again scored 10 out of 10.  It was pretty much the routine appointment we've become accustomed to, until the part when the doctor did A Bad Thing.

My cervix, which fortunately has been neither seen nor heard from since embryo transfer in November, had to be checked to see if it's favorable for induction on Thursday as planned.  OUCH!! It is most definitely not - it is long, not softened, and totally closed.  The doctor didn't think it was even a good idea to mess with it enough to try stripping the membranes.

Now we wait.  We'll go back again on Friday to see what my stubborn cervix is up to.  Really, what's a few more days when we've been waiting YEARS for this?  I have no desire to rush things and create problems, but I'm terribly anxious for this constant anxiety to end with Mei-mei in my arms alive!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Making a Rainbow

I'm back from my appointment and Mei-mei once again scored 10 out of 10.  The kids and I celebrated by working on an art project this afternoon - painting a rainbow on my belly!  


My goal for the near future is to finally organize all our family photos and videos.  I haven't worked on the kids' photo books since losing the babies in 2007, so I have a lot of catching up to do!  At least it's all uploaded and labeled now.  Here are a couple of videos from April when the kids found out about Mei-mei:



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Perfect Brightness of Hope



 

I can scarcely believe that tomorrow marks 38 weeks!  Mei-mei looked great at yesterday's appointment.  One way or another, she should be here NEXT WEEK!!  With my two full-term pregnancies, labor started spontaneously by 38w5d, though neither kid was actually born until 39 weeks thanks to super long labors.  Hopefully labor will start on its own again this time - and be much quicker!  If not, the plan is to go to the hospital on Thursday night of next week to be induced.  

I really hope to avoid a C-section.  I thought that if it did end up going that way, at least I could get the worst of the endo mess cleaned out and maybe have less pain and a better quality of life down the road.  But my doctor said they actually don't try to fix endo damage when a C-section is done because of the high risk of bleeding and infection.  So that's all the more incentive to go natural even if it does drag on and on again.

As excited as I am over Mei-mei's impending arrival, I'm also sad because I'll never be pregnant again.  Aside from the anxiety, I feel fantastic when I'm pregnant and my endometriosis is in remission.  Pregnancy discomfort sure beats being in constant pain that can last for months at a time.  I wish I could feel this good forever.

So ... one more appointment.  Maybe two.  And then I hope to post some very happy news.  Right now, hope is cutting through all the dark clouds that have shadowed recent years and I am loving every second of it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All We Need is the Baby Girl We Love

It's been four years today since I left the hospital for the second time with an empty belly and empty arms.  Four long hard years since we lost Miles.  Sitting here today, it's hard to believe that the possibility of a happy ending for my family is now so close.  I can only say it's a "possibility" as I'm so keenly aware that bringing Mei-mei home is not a sure thing, not even at this point and not even after such a shockingly normal pregnancy.

Even though there are high hopes for a happy ending, I dare not buy any baby gear.  Luckily, we do still have baby clothes and a crib (not set up, and won't be until she comes home!).  We don't have a carseat or diapers. While I'm in the hospital, Q will have to go shopping for these things we want so desperately to need.  Other stuff we can get later on - stroller, high chair, etc.  I gave our old ones away to charity long ago, knowing that we'd be only too delighted to spend money buying new ones if we ever got the chance.   A baby shower has been mentioned but I absolutely cannot entertain such an idea.  All we really need is the baby girl we love to be here with us safe and sound.  Everything else is just minor details.



Next week I'll get the results of the Group B Strep culture.  Since I've always tested positive before I expect the same results, which will mean an IV with antibiotics.  One more needle is hardly a big deal at this point, but I was disappointed that the test ended my wonderful 6 month + 1 week stretch out of the stirrups.  *Sigh*  The last time I made it that long was over 6 years ago.  I wonder when/if I will ever be so lucky again.

Also this week I switched from 40mg Lovenox 1x daily to 5000 IU Heparin 2x daily.  Remembering twice a day is tricky, so I'm once again relying on my cell phone alarm.  Baby aspirin is discontinued until post-delivery.  Now I'm down to just 13 pills a day - yay!  These are all supplements recommended by my doctor - prenatal vitamin, calcium, Omega-3, folic acid, and vitamin D.  Post-delivery plan is to resume aspirin for the rest of my life - and that's it!  Unless I end up with a c-section - then I'd have to continue with blood thinner shots for another six weeks.  I actually still have all my used needles and syringes and will turn them in at the clinic after photographing them at the end.  What I have now is plenty to make for a very dramatic photo, so I hope not to add any more to the collection after Mei-mei arrives!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fat and Happy

We've almost made it to the 36 week mark and Mei-mei continues to score 10 out of 10 on her bi-weekly tests!  Yesterday I got the annoying and worrisome "You're so small!" comment again while at the grocery store.  Am I? You can see for yourself by looking at a few of the maternity pics from last week.  I think my belly looks fine for 35 weeks along and the rest of me looks pretty fat as well, especially my face.  I'm hauling around an extra 40 pounds.  Oh well, I'm fat and happy!  And I have an effective weight loss plan.

Q and I both measured our girth last night and I'm sorry to say that Q still has me beat by four inches.  His weight loss plan has not been so effective.  Perhaps it would help if I found a better hiding place for the delicious cookies I baked.

No, this is not us.  Our bellies are WAY scarier.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Professional Worrier

Last week Q and I went on a tour of the hospital birth center.  When Mei-mei is born it will be my fifth visit to Labor and Delivery (!!), with each one at a different hospital.  This hospital happens to be right across the street from the fertility clinic where Mei-mei began, which seems fitting.  I'm starting to get a little worked up about the actual birth.  Obviously, worrying about this is a welcome improvement over just constantly worrying that the baby will die.  I still worry about that, but the worry has gotten smaller so there's room in my head for other worries, too!  Here's a small sampling:

Where will my two kids go while Mei-mei is being born?  I thought maybe my mother-in-law could come up for a week or two, but do I really want that?  We're already very short on space and don't have an extra bed in the little duplex we're renting.

My doctor said the plan is not to induce but to wait for spontaneous labor.  How much of labor would I dare do at home?  Too much time at the hospital and I risk overzealous intervention; too much time at home and I risk not having enough intervention if things start going wrong.  Either way I'm sure to be gripped by crushing anxiety!  I prefer natural birth if possible, but the C-section rate is really high (30+%) and even higher for pregnancies that follow loss, since the parents and doctors are on such high alert and ready to intervene at any sign of trouble.

And what happens if labor drags on and on, as it did with my first two kids?  With baby #1, I labored for well over 30 hours with no painkillers before he was finally born.  Baby #2 was an attempted home birth (this is back when I trusted my body to do what it's supposed to do - ha!) with over 30 hours of labor at home.  At the hospital I had an epidural and pitocin for the last hour as a successful last-ditch effort to avoid a C-section.  I really need the whole thing to move along faster this time!

What if I can't function for months after the birth?  I anticipate more demon portal trouble and I kind of need to be able to walk.

What if I end up with a C-section?  Q would go with the baby and I would be on my own in the OR for reassembly and cleanup.  Thanks to endometriosis, I suspect my insides are quite a mess.  What if the doctor thinks it's a good idea to start chopping out more pieces of me, particularly my lone ovary which is afflicted with endometriomas.  Even though my lady parts are essentially useless for further babymaking, I'd rather not deal with hysterectomy/menopause just now.  Why is the idea of going from infertility to sterility just SO sad, even though the end result with both is the same for me - no more babies?

Next up:  Our maternity photo shoot on Thursday!  Also possibly making a birth plan.  I had a one page birth plan for my first two kids, but now it just seems kind of silly.  Birth? Plan? Me?


Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Firm a Foundation

I've been a very lazy blogger of late.  With the kids out of school, there's little down time (my doctor told me "take it easy and rest more" - ha!) and I have a horrible cold on top of it.  Demon portals are feeling better though, so that certainly helps.  Thanks to those who offered assvice on my last post.

News was good at my latest appointment.  Mei-mei's guesstimated weight at 32 weeks is 4 1/2 pounds, putting her in the 67th percentile!  She also got a perfect score on the Biophysical Profile and Non-Stress tests.  Going forward, appointments will be Tuesdays and Fridays.  It's nice to have bi-weekly reassurance that Mei-mei is doing well, but stressful too since we have crappy insurance and the bills pile up.

On Friday I went shopping for nursing bras.  This is by far the boldest act of hope I have taken during this pregnancy.  It feels dangerously hopeful, but I figure things are looking great for Mei-mei and I don't want to get caught bra-less once she arrives.  Also, my cups runneth over and there's no way I'm wasting money on giant new non-nursing bras that I hopefully won't have use for once baby arrives.

I looked in the foundation garments section of several large stores and the selection was disappointing.  Everything was flimsy, too small, and SOOO not sexy.  


I was hoping to find some industrial strength bras with room to grow.  What I ended up with were two double D's that are barely adequate now, but it will have to do.  Until I'm 100% sure I'll be lucky enough to need them,  I'm not prepared to invest any more effort in finding firmer foundation garments.   

Friday, June 10, 2011

Demon Portals

This week's appointment was changed to today, so I'm past 31 weeks now. Next Thursday at 32 weeks we'll check Mei-mei's growth again.  From now on appointments will be twice a week for 20-minute Non-Stress Tests (NST).  This is to monitor baby's heart rate and any contractions.  A Bio-Physical Profile (BPP) will also be done at the weekly ultrasounds.  This measures fluid level, muscle tone, movement, and breathing motions.  Mei-mei passed both tests today with a score of 10 out of 10.

This week I finally emailed my parents and officially told them NOT to visit after Mei-Mei is born.  This has caused a bit of extra drama in my very dysfunctional family, but I stand by my decision.  It's just not a good idea to invite separated spouses to a party together.  Especially when one of them is crazy.  I've learned that my mother actually thinks there are five demon portals in her house.  So that's how those wily demons keep getting in!

Yesterday was my kids' last day of school.  We have no family around to help us, so it will be tricky juggling all my appointments and their baseball, T-ball, swimming, and tennis classes.  Add in trying to make them do their jobs and things can get pretty stressful around here.  Q and I were joking yesterday that it seems our piano has a demon portal in it.  When I try to get the kids to practice, they both act like they're possessed.

And while we're on the subject, I seem to be plagued with two demon portals myself - one has a yeast infection and another has hemorrhoids.  How's that for a segue?  The first can be dealt with fairly easily but the second has me seriously bummed and even somewhat panicked.  If it's this bad now, what sort of hell do I have to look forward to after Mei-mei makes her grand exit?  After David was born, I was unable to walk at times until I had surgery at six months postpartum.  After Tania I was in misery, though more functional, until she was 15 months old!  This problem doesn't get much press.  It is ugly what can happen to your poorly designed undercarriage when you push a baby out.  But it's all worth it in the end.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fat Bottomed Girl

Annie was a slacker last week and never got around to posting, but all is still well.  Mei-mei is at 30 weeks now and there are absolutely no signs of trouble.  Annie actually went out and bought a few more maternity clothes, including a two-piece swimsuit for the first time ever!  Sadly, it's a very modest two-piece swimsuit, but at least it doesn't look anything like this:

We often celebrate after good appointments by eating rich French pastries at a local bakery.  So far, Annie has put on 30+ pounds and I am a happy man. She is a Fat Bottomed Girl that makes my rockin' world go round (love Queen - great song!).  Bellies are also just damn sexy!  Here are the mud flaps I'd have if I owned a truck:

We are thinking of having maternity photos taken soon since we've never done that before and this pregnancy is our last chance.  If you know any good photographers in the Minneapolis area, let us know. We just don't want them looking like these!!!!

Well that is about it! Thank goodness it's summer! I can finally see more of Annie's rear and belly without the extra layers of clothes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

War and Peace

Mei-mei is 28 weeks today!  Her growth is looking good - she is at the 49th percentile and is about 2 1/2 pounds.  Average.  Normal.  This is such wonderful news!  The joy of this pregnancy is now outweighing the anxiety and I am loving it!

Last week's 27 week post was up for only a few hours before Blogger crashed, taking the post with it.  It was a very happy post about Mei-mei and about more wonderful news I received that day, which was that my suicidal brother was finally getting some help.  That part turned out not to be true and I was too bummed about it to revise the post, so I just left it down.  My bro has started eating again and is no longer in imminent danger, but he remains with our mother who still thinks his dysfunctional state is the result of demon possession.  I don't know how anyone could live in that house and NOT be suicidal.  My parents are separated (another tragic tale!), which is making it damn near impossible for my brother to get real help or be extricated from this mess.

It's terribly stressful and tragic watching the family I grew up in at war and disintegrating.  At the same time, it's such a joy to see my own little family finding peace and even growing after surviving some very dark years!

The Girls
My daughter drew this picture today of herself and me with Mei-mei in my belly

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother Mother

Good news again!  Cord and blood flow still looking great for Mei-mei at 26 weeks!  Our whole family is just SO excited about Mei-mei!  Each Thursday when I pick my kids up from school they ask how Mei-mei's appointment went.  And they always remember to pray that she will grow safe and strong.

Quite some time ago, I had talked to Dr. Collins in Louisiana about his home monitoring program for moms who have lost babies to cord problems.  He'd said the earliest I could do that is 26 weeks.  I have looked into it, but I think I will pass.  "WHY?!" you may ask. Well, Dr. Collins and the doctors at the perinatology clinic all agree that things look perfectly fine.  Also doing this would require a solo trip to Louisiana and quite a bit of money.  I feel that the care I'm getting now is adequate for the situation.  Thankfully, this pregnancy is high risk only because of my past history and not because of any current concerns.

With each passing week, I get a little less anxious and the idea of bringing home a live baby seems a little more real.  In fact, I think we may go shopping for a nice recliner or rocker.  Our old uncomfortable rocking chair just will not do for what I'm hoping will be many happy hours spent holding Mei-mei.

Also this week, like it or not, is Mother's Day.  It can be rough for a lot of people - people who are infertile, people who have lost children, people who have lost their mothers, mothers who feel like they can't live up to all the idealism, etc. For me, this Mother's Day is both happy (for obvious reasons!) and sad since I'm still not on speaking terms with my mother.  I have a feeling there is going to be some ugly drama once Mei-mei shows up and creates a reason for a family gathering.  On the upside, I'm learning more about what NOT to do as a mother.  Hopefully I won't screw things up so badly that my kids won't speak to me when they're older!
  
Even though I don't feel like it and also don't much care for the sickening sweetness and commercialism of Mother's Day, I shall try to fulfill my societal obligations and send a little something to my mom:


Mother mother how's the family?
I'm just calling to say hello.
How's the weather? how's my father?
Am I lonely? heavens no.
Mother mother are ya listening? just a phone call to ease your mind.
Life is perfect, never better, distance making the heart grow fond.

(Tracy Bonham)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hoping

I'm posting a little late this time, but it's all still good here.  Thursday we hit 25 weeks and Mei-mei's blood flow is still looking good on ultrasound.  They don't check her growth as often as I'd like - the next growth scan is scheduled for early June!  I'm a bit paranoid about growth since my first son had IUGR (growth restriction).

It's been strange being "out" as pregnant now.  I kind of miss being able to keep it secret and control who knew and who didn't.  Sometimes I'm not quite sure how to respond to some of the commentary from friends and acquaintances.  The one comment that bothers me most and really chips away at my sanity is this:  "Oh, you look so small!"   Is it supposed to be a compliment?  I heard this one a lot years ago when I was pregnant with my older kids and it really bugged me then.  I was too small because they were too small!  And now after multiple losses this comment bugs me even MORE!!

Then last night I got this one - "Poor thing!  You'll have to be pregnant most of the summer!"  I just wanted to laugh.  First of all this is Minnesota, not the equator!  Being warm will be nice for a change. I would love nothing more than to be pregnant for most of the summer.  Bring on the heat - I'm thrilled to have this opportunity!  No matter how hot it gets, you'll never hear a whisper of complaint from me.


I often get asked if I'm feeling sick or having other complications.  I usually say "No, but it's a lot of stress since I'm high-risk."  Then I get the old, "Don't worry.  Just think positive and everything will be fine!"  Soooo annoying and also not true.  I was much less worried with my previous pregnancies and those babies still died.  I'm much more worried this time, but everything is looking much better!  How could anyone go through what I've been through and NOT worry?  Of course it's been hard to "be positive" about this pregnancy (though it gets easier with each week) but I resent any implication that I must see only sunshine. I feel lectured and looked down upon because my level of optimism doesn't meet expectations, when the very fact that I dared try again after so much loss AND infertility shows tremendous optimism and tenacity. I mean, give me a little credit!

Even just hearing "Congratulations!" is weird for me.  How do I respond to that?  Congratulations feel so premature.  I just say "thank you" of course, but it doesn't feel right.  Most people see a pregnant belly and just automatically assume a happy ending.  I know all too well that it doesn't always happen that way.  I can never just assume that again - not for myself or anyone else.  When people comment that I'm "expecting", I usually correct them: "Not expecting.  Hoping."



Never expect!  Only hope!  That's not wrong, to hope.  -The Joy Luck Club

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who's That Girl?

Mei-mei is now 24 weeks along.  Supposedly viable, but hopefully she'll keep baking until at least July.  Today's appointment was short and sweet.  The doctor used my favorite word: normal.  Everything is looking normal!!

Also this week I finally quit procrastinating and went to the dentist for a checkup.  Alas, one small cavity but it can wait a few more months.  I've been naughty, waiting almost a full year between checkups.  It's just that it's been so nice for a change not having any medical-type person messing with any of my orifices.

And finally, Q and I have gotten more serious about thinking of a proper name for Mei-mei  - her nickname for now means "little sister" in Chinese.  We are having trouble and could use suggestions!  I named our first daughter after my sister, so now it is Q's turn to pick a name and I am scared.  He doesn't have any he's really passionate about, but tends to like names that were popular in the 70's among our age group and I hate them all. My own name is a 70's Top Ten and I have never liked it.  My parents, who'd been sure I was a boy,  picked it last-minute after I was born.  There is no cool story or special meaning behind it and I think that is so lame.

Mei-mei has quite a story behind her existence and she needs a great name.  Here are our criteria:

* Uncommon but not weird
* At least two syllables because our last name is one syllable
* Preference for names reflecting our ancestry (Britain, Germany, Denmark) or places we've lived (Greece, Russia, China)
* In case she hates the name we choose, I want it to be something versatile that gives her several other options to choose from - short forms, nicknames, or a good middle name
* I really want Mei-mei to have a name that has special meaning reflecting the situation.  It's been a long hard fight to get here.  I can't find any names that mean "against all odds" or "from the petri dish", so maybe something meaning "joy out of sorrow", "miracle", or something similar.  Q doesn't care as much about the meaning of the name.

So far we don't have much to work with.  Here are a few names we came up with years ago, pre-losses and infertility:

Larissa - cheerful (Greek)
Lydia - from Lydia (Greek)  but this name has gotten too common for my tastes

Q's list so far:
Lorraine - from Lorraine (French)
Jana - Slavic variant of Jane, God is gracious

A's list so far:
Anastasia - resurrection (Greek)  I like this name especially for the meaning.  After much tragedy and sudden death in the family (our two baby boys and my brother) having this new life feels like a resurrection.  It can be shortened to Anya or Stacia.  It has several other diminutive forms I like less (such as Annie!) but the point is that there are lots of options for a girl with this name.

Any thoughts on our short list so far?  Other suggestions welcome!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Winner

It's my two year blogoversary and time for a giveaway! I used a random number generator to pick a winner for the pysanky, but I can't figure out how to put the graphic of the results up here like some people do for their contests.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

The winner is ... Emily, who is in need of a much BIGGER win than pysanky right now. She is remembering her son Aidan, who was born too soon one year ago (April 21).  Also she is on bed rest with ruptured membranes hoping her new baby can pull through despite a recurrence of the same perilous situation she had with Aidan.    Please make sure to stop by her blog and send her some love.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Little Sigh of Relief

Thankfully today's scan left me more reassured than last week's.  Mei-mei's measurements are right on, which is a relief.  It had been four weeks since the last measurement scan and I do worry about that.  I worry about everything!  I thought maybe I'd calm down a little bit once I got past the points where I lost the boys.  Nope.  Maybe this next week will be better since today's doctor (another new one) told us emphatically that everything is looking great with the cord.

A sidenote in response to some comments on last week's post regarding the doctor's "upper end of normal cord coiling" comment:  A cord that doesn't have coiling is very dangerous for a baby and so is a cord that has too many coils (hypercoiling).   This site has interesting ultrasound pictures and information about both extremes - look about halfway down the page.  What you want is to be in the middle on coiling.

Last week's Wisconsin getaway was fun and we had a great time with my sister and little niece.  Last year when my sister was pregnant, I gave her all my maternity clothes and baby girl clothes.  Now I am borrowing them back.  My stash was lacking in summer maternity clothes and the seasonality of my first daughter's baby clothes is off for Mei-mei.  BUT since my sister's due date last year was August 10 and mine this year is August 11, she has filled in those gaps and I don't have to buy a single thing!  How perfect is that?!

At this time last year things were looking pretty grim and they got much worse before they finally got better, but against all odds here I am 23 weeks pregnant and things are looking good!  Who'd have thunk it?  Not me, that's for sure.  Since this week is my second blogoversary and it also happens to be near Easter, I am doing a giveaway of a pysanky (Ukrainian Easter egg).  Just leave a comment and a winner will be chosen at random.  If you win, I will design and make a pysanky especially for you!  Winner will be announced on Monday, the 18th.

Here are this year's additions (others are here and here).  I find that making these is
quite calming and that's a very good thing right now!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's Amazing How Exotic Wisconsin Isn't

Mei-mei has made it to 22 weeks now.  Today's ultrasound was OK, but we didn't get any pictures because the clinic's printer is broken.  The blood flow through the cord looks good, but the doctor (one I haven't seen before) said the coiling is at "the upper end of normal".  Well, it sure doesn't take much to send me into panic mode.  To me, "upper end of normal" sounds like a very tiny step away from "your baby is going to die".  Up to now the other doctors had all just used the word "normal", some very enthusiastically.  What a difference a few words can make!  Now my stress level is up a bit higher.  Just in time for vacation, too!
No, I will not be going on any of those slides!

Tomorrow our little family is going on a quick overnight trip to a water park in exotic Wisconsin Dells to meet up with my sister and baby niece.  I shall endeavor to have fun and "just relax", even though relaxation is as unattainable during a high-risk pregnancy as it is when battling infertility.  There's just no such thing as a vacation when you're worried for your child's life, but someday I hope to go on a real vacation again.  All this death and infertility and high-risk pregnancy stress has taken a huge toll.  I really need a vacation from my problems, but there's still a long way to go before I get there.  Baby steps.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Expectations

Well we did it.  We told the kids and they are excited, especially my daughter.  Since we'll never get to make an announcement like this again, I wanted it to be fun.  


I liked the scavenger hunt and T-shirt ideas, but ended up doing something different.  I'd done the T-shirt thing before and the scavenger hunt would require a trip to the baby aisle at the store.  Not quite up for it.  So ... I decided to put Mei-mei's most recent ultrasound picture in a box and wrap it up.  The kids opened it together but couldn't quite figure out what the picture was (a blender?) so I had to help them out.  "A baby!"  "What?  What baby?"  "OUR baby!"  "You're having a baby?!"


Next I brought out a tiny cake I'd made.  It had white frosting with a pink and blue question mark on top.  I told them that if the cake was blue inside then the baby is a boy and if it was pink then the baby is a girl.  My son cut into it and my daughter screamed, "It's a GIRL!!"  She is ecstatic and has been giving my belly hugs and kisses frequently ever since.  I was afraid my son would be disappointed that it's not a boy, but he is excited and plans to train his sister to be a Jedi.  He is obsessed with Star Wars right now.  He also suggested that we share our news on Facebook.  Um, NO.  I don't need to worry about announcing this pregnancy to anyone else.  The kids will see to it that everyone knows!




The kids have both been able to feel the baby kick.  My daughter was thrilled that Mei-mei started dancing when "Thriller" was played at an event we attended.  It's been nice to see some unrestrained enthusiasm about this baby, especially since I'm still only very cautiously optimistic myself.  Of course I've had to explain to the kids again why Jeremiah and Miles died and that we hope this baby will be OK.  My daughter has said a few times, "I'm so excited about my new baby sister!  I hope she doesn't die."  So sad.  I wish she didn't even have to think about that.  I wish none of us did.  Hopefully everything will continue to go well with this pregnancy so the kids' great expectations can be fulfilled.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Can See the Grass!

One morning I heard a big commotion coming from the living room.  It was my kids running around and shouting joyfully "I can see the grass!  I can see the grass!!".  It's a BIG deal here when the ground is finally visible again after five or six months under ice and snow.  We started seeing the grass a couple of weeks ago, but then we got another big snow storm.  Now that snow is melting and we can see the grass again.   There's hope that spring may finally come, bringing new life and sunshine

It's been a long dark winter for me since losing Jeremiah more than four years ago.  Every time I dared hope the storms would stop and spring would come, another storm came and buried me.  But today, with Mei-mei still alive and kicking at 21 weeks, I can see a little grass peeking through the snow.  She has now lived longer than both Miles and Jeremiah.  Maybe there really is hope for new life and an end to this long dark winter.  Of course I remain very fearful of getting snowed under again.  It will be awhile yet before I dare believe that this seemingly interminable winter really will end, but today I have a little hope because I can see the grass!


Next up:  Telling the kids about their little sister.  They are 6 and almost 8.  They will be thrilled, but I'm just petrified that something will go wrong again and that I won't be able to deliver what we're all hoping for so much.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mere Insanity

Twenty weeks today!  The ultrasound looked good and the doctor was quite enthusiastic about how the cord is looking.  With each passing week there is more hope that this will be a cord that giveth and not a cord that taketh away.

Still, there are scary moments, especially in the mornings.  According to Dr. Collins, when babies die it more often occurs at night, perhaps because of changes in maternal blood pressure.  Just one more thing to worry about.  I go to bed quite late and then wake up too early in a cold sweat, though sometimes I can get back to sleep after confirming that Mei-mei is still alive.  Will I actually end up sleeping better if I have a demanding nocturnal newborn?  I hope to find out!

March has been very hard and there's still another week to go.  Thus far I have managed to avoid going insane.  This is largely thanks to my Doppler, the weekly peeks at Mei-mei, and reassurance from my doctors that the cord is looking fine so far.  It also helps that I'm taking a break from dealing with my mother.  Back in February I told her that I won't speak to her again until April at the soonest because I just don't need the extra stress.  It's horrible to say, but letting go of that superficial relationship has been a joy and I don't relish the thought of discussing the weather with her again come April.  Just hearing updates from my siblings about the goings-on and insanity back at the homestead is all I can handle.  This week's episode:

Mom's hoarding reaches a new low when she rescues 17 pounds of expired (in 2008!) and partially liquified cheddar cheese from the dumpster after a brave family member threw it out.  Brother tries to perform an exorcism on the cat, not realizing that demons cannot be cast out of cats because cats are demons.


Some of THE cheese.  Yes, really.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Walk the Line

I'm still very much in the Danger Zone with this pregnancy as I've noticed my losses and other women's similar losses tend to cluster right around the 19-20 week mark.  Today's ultrasound was very thorough.  Mei-mei's measurements are right on and the cord is looking good.  We confirmed that she is indeed a girl, which is good because I already gave all my boy clothes to my new twin nephews!  :)   Also we learned that Mei-mei has none of the markers that would indicate Down Syndrome or other chromosomal defects.

With each ultrasound that looks OK, it gets harder and harder to maintain the necessary balance between optimism and pessimism.  It's difficult to walk that line and not fall off painfully on either side of it when I'd love nothing more than to be over-the-moon happy about my baby girl.  But I just don't dare and probably won't dare until the day when (hopefully) she's in my arms alive.

Have you ever played that game "Baby If You Love Me, Smile"?  One person says that to another person and tries to get them to smile.  If they do smile or laugh then they are out.  That pretty much sums up how I feel about this pregnancy - like the moment I dare to just be outright joyful about it she will be snatched away from me.  So I'm doing my best to stick with a straight line for now.  Besides, people will get suspicious if I go around with a big grin on my face after being depressed for years.



It's been a good week overall and I'm glad to be past the 18w5d mark where Miles was born still.  Next big milestone: Jeremiah's 21 week mark.  My daughter's birthday party last weekend went very well.  On Sunday I even made her the big birthday dinner that she wanted - cream cheese wontons, lemon chicken, ham-fried rice, stir-fried veggies, AND chocolate cake made from scratch.  I really am amazingly functional sometimes!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Delightfully Dull

I just love boring doctor visits. Eighteen weeks today and the ultrasound looked good.  I'm feeling movement more often now, which is very encouraging.  She's kicking me right now and I love it!  I don't remember Miles moving so much.  He was born still at 18w5d and I think he actually died at either 18w0d or 18w1d.  Of course it's a very anxious time right now, but it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.  I was fearing worse at this point - heart palpitations, chest pain, and paralyzing terror like I've had in the past.  So far, nothing like that :)  Still, it's plenty stressful, especially in the mornings.  I can barely function until I feel some serious movement or check with the doppler to make sure she's still alive. Please keep those prayers coming - our little Mei-mei just has to make it.

I am praying that this little girl is born nowhere near March!  My first daughter was born in March, so despite my plan to do nothing extra this month, we are having a party at our house this Saturday with all her school friends.  She was promised a party long before I got pregnant and realized March would be a scary month.  So I'll have lots of six-year-old girls here doing makeovers on each other, making flower arrangements, and loading up on sugar.  Hopefully it will all go off beautifully.  I wish I were a few weeks further along so I could tell Tania our good news for her birthday, but I'm still hoping for three more weeks of consistently good appointments before breaking the news.  If we can make it to that day we'll have another great reason to have a party!