Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our New Normal

One year ago this evening, we were resting at home and I was recovering from our egg retrieval surgery.  It was a long, exhausting day filled with so much excitement and anxiety.  I spent part of this evening re-reading my first post where we begged for prayer warriors to keep us in their prayers as we set out on this new adventure. I never could have imagined the support we would receive, the people we would reach and the reality we would come to know.  Personally, the blog was therapy without the awkward pauses and uncomfortable conversation with a complete stranger with tiny glasses, encrypting your words and silently not judging you…Mostly, it was an outlet for me to vent.  

Things have really come full circle in a year.  I dreamed, for so long, of the day we would become parents and 1 year ago today our hope had never been so alive.

A year later and I am writing this update as I watch our handsome boy sleeping beside us.  With a full belly and an evening full of snuggles and covered in kisses, he is finally here.  And, I couldn’t be more thankful…or exhausted (in the best possible way of course).

Happy Egg-iversary
Since I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging to soak up every millisecond with my son, I thought I’d catch you up starting with the obligatory “birth story”.  As most already know, our son came a little early (and on his own time).

Meet Nash Everett.  Born February 28th at 11:45PM.  6 lbs 10 oz, 19” of perfection.

Really, I want to provide proof that miracles DO happen and they happen to average, ordinary people – like us.  At 11 weeks in our pregnancy, after struggling for a couple years to conceive, we were given a 1% chance that our baby would be born “normal”.  Don’t get me started on what that even means – that’s for another night and a bottle of wine. Our odds got better as we went through the various testing but we were never out of the weeds and towards the end were just waiting for his arrival to see what, if anything, would be wrong.

We were scheduled for a C-section on March 4th, a Wednesday.  The Saturday before we were scheduled to meet our baby, Chris and I made dinner reservations to celebrate our final days as just us. We were headed to our favorite Italian joint, 518 West, armed with our lists of boy and girl names.  We checked in at the hostess stand and were surprised when the manager gave us a giftcard to cover our meal.  Our "last supper" had been picked up by Chris' parents.  We were thrilled.  And, then I peed myself.

Or so I thought. I looked at Chris and said that I thought the baby had jumped on my bladder and I needed to go to the bathroom. I did my business and when I stood up from the public bathroom squat it kept coming.  It was then that I happily realized I still had control of my bladder while simultaneously panicking because I had control of my bladder.  There is liquid gushing - but I am not peeing - oh my god, water breaking.  I went back out to tell Chris, who was still waiting on our table.  He freaked.  And, I mean he literally panicked.  And, then my water kept breaking.  While I was standing there.  It was gushing.  Just like in the movies – even though everyone told me it doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. I remained surprisingly calm throughout everything.  I told Chris to get the car and went back to the bathroom to try to clean up.  I actually ended up talking with one of my best friends who I had texted and we decided that it was indeed my water breaking.  The conversation was actually a lot more colorful than that and I can only imagine what the women coming in and out were thinking. 

In the meantime, Chris was having problems getting our car from valet because the guy hadn’t had a chance to bring our keys back to the stand. So no one could locate our car keys. Chris was mid-panick telling everyone in the restaurant that we were having a baby.  When I finally came out of the restroom it was like they rolled out a red carpet for me to the door.  I barely noticed everyone staring and the few “congratulations” and “good lucks” as we left.

We headed home to collect our things, kiss the pups and make our way to the hospital.  Because we were scheduled for a C, neither of us had actually packed a bag yet so the chaotic scene that ensued in our bedroom was pretty comical.  We got to the hospital and checked into our room about 9PM.  Labor was definitely progressing and I was one of the lucky ones experiencing the gut-wrenching, bring-you-to-your-knees, back labor.  

Our last picture before Nash arrived
They still had to do blood work before they could start anesthesia.  Not to mention, Dr. V wasn’t on call and I was freaking out about that.   Dr. V was the first doc that tried to knock us up and stuck with us through everything so he was the only one I felt comfortable with cutting into me.  Luckily, the midwife was finally able to get a hold of him and he showed up, unannounced and surprised us to the point of tears!  That man is a god-send.  He showed up.  He actually showed up.  On his night off. He asked me why I was crying and all I could say is “You came.  You actually came”.  His response – “Of course I’m here.  I wouldn’t have missed it”.

Dr. V with Nash
Chris came back to the OR once they administered the anesthesia.  And, a few minutes later the OR erupted in cheers and laughs and with tears in his eyes, Chris told me we had a son.  That moment, hearing the love of my life, telling me we had a little boy, solidified every reason I did not find out the sex during the pregnancy.  It was the single best surprise in my life (aside from our proposal). Our little guy was born into a party in that OR and I’ve never felt such an overwhelming, intense amount of love for my sweet boy and loving hubby.    

We had so many visitors in those first few days and it's a bit of a blur.  Lots of nursing, lots of snuggles, lots of kisses, lots of "how do we do this" and "what do we do now". And, then they sent us home on Wednesday, March 4th – the day we were supposed to meet our baby.

I am proud to say we have survived the first 16 weeks of parenthood.  Our kid has mastered the art of the blow-out and many a onesie has fallen victim – I’ve even fallen victim.  There is some switch inside you that flips when you have a kid where bodily fluids no longer gross you out. Despite the poop and the barf, our Nash is probably the coolest kid I’ve ever met.  

He is seriously the sweetest baby.  And, he LOVES to cuddle – we call it “snuzzle time” in our house.  Some of my favorite moments of maternity leave were curling back up with him hunkered down on my chest after he ate “breast-feast” (as Chris calls it) to take a snuzzle-nap.  

There is also something so amazing about a good neck hug.  When he wraps those chubbly little hands around my neck and buries his face into my collarbone – I melt.  I stop what I’m doing and just take it all in because I know these moments are fleeting. 

Those middle of the night feedings became pretty special too.  Just me and him, the hum of the humidifier and the stillness of the night. I talked with him, prayed with him, stared at his little face, held his tiny hands and cried just thinking about how lucky and blessed we are.  I miss these moments already - we lucked out with a kid that started sleeping through the night around 8 weeks!

I know you must be wondering what ever happened with the hygroma.  And, the answer is nothing.  We have a little miracle babe that beat those odds and is by all means pretty perfect, despite some reflux.  Our pediatrician will continue to monitor his development closely, but all signs are pointing to perfect.

It is so surreal that just one year ago we were dreaming of today.  Disney wasn’t lying – dreams really do come true.  Miracles really do happen.  Our sweet monster was worth every tear, every heart ache and every angst-ridden moment over the last few years.  I wake up every day excited to see his gummy grin and feel those little arms grasp my neck. And, this feeling, this love is what life is all about.  

His face every day I pick him up from "School"
Happiest boy there ever was
First Father's Day

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Countdown is on

There are so many updates to bring you and I have just been in a crazy whirlwind of preparing for the perfect chaos that is about to be our lives.

In our last scan with Duke the Placenta Previa had not corrected itself and was actually slightly worse (only by a few millimeters).  What’s a few millimeters in the grand scheme of things?!  I guess when it comes to PP it’s a big deal and because my placenta is getting closer to my cervix versus going away it would be too risky to do natural labor.  Duke shared the results with our OB and together, as a team, we all made the call to schedule a C-section. Because this pregnancy has been anything but a cake walk and we fought so hard to even get pregnant, we are doing everything to minimize or eliminate any risks. Our goal is to get this baby out as safely as possible.  Which brings me to our baby's due date (god willing):


Only 2 weeks until we are holding our sweet little man or baby girl.  Shit just got real…well it got real when we actually scheduled the date. I had a momentary freak-out sesh and Chris naturally went and celebrated with beers with his colleagues.  Freak-out aside,  it’s very surreal that our lives will change drastically and in the best possible ways in 2, very short weeks.

These next couple of weeks are going to fly by and I am still a little anxious that everything won’t get done.  In reality, is anyone ever fully ready for this ride?  I’m willing to guess that’s a resounding NO!  I have 10 more work days until I’m out for 12 weeks and I think I have more anxiety around work preparations than home preparations.  I hate leaving things undone and unfinished so the last few weeks I've been busy trying to acclimate myself to my new job (yep - that also happened in the midst of the baby chaos) and get prepped for being out for 3 months.  That is a near impossible task, but I have 10 days to make the impossible…well, possible.

On the home front, the “nesting” that’s supposed to kick in has not.  I’d be happy if it did any day now because our entire house looks like a hurricane came through, and I just can’t even fathom trying to tackle any of it.  I guess that’s why people make professions out of organizing other people’s lives.  Normally, I am one of the most organized people I know but when it comes to all this baby stuff I am really overwhelmed. I know it will come together eventually and I have the hubby to help (and my Momma when she gets here). 

I am doing my best to get the nursery set up and usable, and Chris has been running with all the nursery projects.  It really is the best thing ever to have a handy husband because he is making the baby's room exactly how I imagined! He is also the baby gear engineer and has been getting all the stuff taken out of boxes and set up.

BEFORE - this was the nursery closet before Chris got to work on it...
AFTER - So thankful for a handy hubby!  Now I need to organize it!
We spent our Valentine’s Day spoiling the baby which made me incredibly giddy.  We finally went back to Buy Buy Baby-after that horrifying registering experience-and tried to “complete” the registry.  We still had a couple of necessities and big ticket items that we needed and with the due date being moved up we are running out of time!  That store still overwhelms me and we still ended up forgetting a couple of things despite having a list.  Thank god for girlfriends, specifically Kelly, who is making one last trip with me to make sure I have everything we will need right off the bat. Our goal is to have as much as possible in place and ready for the babe by this weekend. I want to spend our last weekend (only two more weekends just the 2 of us and the pups) really focusing on us and our marriage and spending some quality time together. 

We did get some quality time together last week when I had to spend a day in the hospital.  Chris was by my side the entire time.  It wasn't anything crazy.  I caught a GI bug and was severely dehydrated. When we called my OB they sent us straight to the ER who then sent us to Labor and Delivery since I am over 34 weeks. I didn't realize dehydration causes pre-term labor so they hooked us up to the machines to monitor my contractions and the baby’s heart rate.  I got fluids which helped minimize the contractions and some IV anti-nausea drugs so I could keep from projectile…I’ll stop there – you get the picture. We were in one of the postpartum rooms so we got to take it for a test run before we are there for our baby’s birthday in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of the hospital, we also did a tour a couple weeks ago.  I am really glad we did one and highly recommend it to any other first time preggers debating signing up.  It helped ease some of the anxiety on where to go and what to do when the baby decides to come (ours could still decide to come on his or her own). You also get to tour the labor and delivery rooms, OR, nursery, postpartum rooms, and Chris’ favorite – the “DAD” room.  That last one is literally a room where dads get to sneak off for a break to get snacks and drinks.  I was surprised by how nice the facilities and rooms are and feel better knowing we are in good hands.

We also picked our pediatrician and enrolled in daycare.  Checking things off our list!

Two of my favorite weekends so far this year have been our 2 shower weekends.  Kelly and Kristin hosted a shower for me in Raleigh.  It was the perfect day and celebration of Baby O.  I was so overwhelmed by all the love that surrounds this sweet little life. It was even more special because all 3 of the babe’s grandmas were able to make it.  My Momma flew in from Florida, my MIL flew in from Arizona and the babe’s GiGi (Chris’ Step Mom) came up from Mooresville.  My MIL’s girlfriends also drove up to Raleigh to help us celebrate. Talk about being floored by all the love and support! I am still amazed by all the generosity and feel so incredibly blessed to have these people not only in my life but in my baby’s life. 

My momma stayed with us that week to help out with nursery projects – she is the most creative person I know and can take the ordinary and make it unique and perfect.  She added her touch to some of the projects I had started and just couldn't figure out how to finish.  Thank god for Mommas! 

The next weekend we had our Couples Charlotte shower.  So many people helped to make that shower perfect – The Eakers, the Pucketts, my sisters (Kenna and Kels) and my Momma and Daddy.  I've known the Eakers most of my life and Cassie happens to be not only Kelsey’s best friend of 20 years but also our 4th Bradshaw sister!  The Eakers are probably some of the most giving and supportive people I've ever and will ever know.  Their hearts are overflowing with love and they have always accepted my family and I into their lives.  They opened their home to our friends and family and helped us shower our sweet addition with more love and generosity than we could have imagined.  We were so overwhelmed by all the people that came out to help us celebrate.  My family from SC came up, including my grandparents! The baby’s Auntie J flew in from Philly and Uncle Ev came up from SC.  The list goes on.  It is an incredibly special feeling when you look around and are standing in a room full of so many people you love and that have been in your life for upwards of 20+ years.  It still feels very surreal and we feel so blessed to have the support system we do!

We have definitely been busy since the first of the year! 

Wednesday we will be 36 weeks.  Baby is fully cooked and I couldn't feel more blessed.  The kicks and punches and rolls remind me daily of the miracle I’m growing in my belly.  They also remind me not to take one second for granted – even the less than thrilling parts of pregnancy.  I was brought to tears the other night just thinking about how incredibly blessed we are that we are approaching the end of this leg of the journey, in tact, stronger than when we started down this windy road. There was a time I thought this would never happen for us and I know it doesn't happen for everyone so I try to appreciate those ugly parts as much as the miraculous ones. The heartburn, back pain, contractions and feet in the rib cage are easy to complain about, but I think about the life I’m carrying and can’t help but thank god for all of it – every single moment of this experience. I can’t believe in 2 weeks we will be meeting the little person we created.  There are so many thoughts and emotions – far too many to write about – but, I pray we provide a solid foundation for this child to learn to love and believe in his or her dreams.

2 OB appointments and 1 scan with Duke is all that stands between us and meeting our little miracle of life! 

Bring on March 4th and the perfectly imperfect chaos that comes with it! 

Extra puppy snuggles before the babe is here

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life Lately - 29 week Update

So, I may be the worst blogger in history.  I also blame it on my profession.  Sales in 4th quarter AND end of year is chaotic.  Still – I don’t want to make excuses.  For those that have been following, we have really just been caught up in the holiday season, working too hard and enjoying my growing belly (and all the kicks and punches).

I guess I should rewind back to our Fetal Echo in November.  We went in on Friday, November 7th to meet Dr. Milazzo and his team and to get a more detailed look at Boden’s little heart. 
The detail in the scans was absolutely incredible.  The sonographer was explaining to us the different areas she was looking at and what they meant.  You could actually see the inflow and outflow of blood through each chamber because they lit up different colors depending on whether they were moving towards or away from the camera…so cool!

At the end, we waited for Dr. M to come in and give us the results.  Let me preface by saying he is a very professional, emotionless man.  Direct and to the point, not much humor and not a whole lot of chit chat.  My guess is because he too often has to deliver crushing news to parents, hopeful parents just like us. 

I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. I was on the brink of tears and expecting something not to be right.  He came in, handed us a print out, and said, “The results are normal.  There are no major abnormalities with the baby’s heart”.  I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.  I thought maybe he was going to pinch me to wake me up, or there was a “gotcha” at the end of it.  But there were no gotchas.  Just more tears.  I jumped up and grasped that man around his neck tightly and could only say “thank you” over and over again. 

He was definitely caught a little off-guard at my spontaneous gratitude and chuckled replying, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that.” This man got to deliver some of the best news to these parents on that day and it made everyone in the room smile a little brighter. 

We left and I still could not control the crying.  I also could not process thoughts, string together words or sentences or explain how I was feeling.  I guess I didn’t realize how heavy a burden I was carrying around on my chest (I thought maybe it was just my boobs growing out of control)!  The weight that was lifted is indescribable - it literally felt like someone lifted a 50 lb. barbell off my chest and I took the deepest, longest breath I’d taken in months.  I was so overcome with emotion I really don’t even know how to describe it.  My mind was swarming and my thoughts scattered, but it was the most intense joy I’ve felt in a long time.

Chris and I had lunch at our good news spot in Cameron Village.  We went back to the same place we were at when we got the call from our CC nurses that our IVF round had worked.  It’s the same place we sat and called all our families to tell them we were finally pregnant.  This restaurant, just a local bar, has come to hold such a special place in our hearts and here we were celebrating another big milestone!

Since the fetal, we’ve had some follow up doc appointments with our OB. I had my glucose test which also came back normal.  I would not recommend doing the glucose test a few hours before you have to catch a flight – my stomach was off all day!

We are also officially in our 3rd trimester!  We had our 28 week scan with Duke on the 22nd right before we went home for the holidays.  We had some of the sweetest 3D pics to show our families which made this Christmas a little sweeter.  

I can barely contain my excitement

The baby is growing steadily and is in the 68th percentile for growth and weight.  I am a little underweight but not to the point that they are concerned since the bambino is doing so well. I still have Placenta Previa despite all our hopes that it would correct itself.  But, given all the good news about the growth of our little one I can’t complain.  I also had our 28 week check-up with my OB the same day and if the PP doesn’t correct itself by our next scan at the end of January they will likely be scheduling a C-section between 36-37 weeks which would put us mid-late February for Boden’s arrival.  I definitely freaked a little at this news because February is going to be here before we know it and we are not at all prepared. 

I will come to terms with it at some point I’m sure!

We also took a Saturday and finally registered at Buy Buy Baby.  Registering is no joke.  It’s also not very fun like I was imagining it would be.  It is overwhelming.  There are too many strollers, jumpers, play mats and diapers to choose from.  How do I know if I will need sensitive wipes or not?  Why are there so many diaper rash creams?  Does the kid need a jumper, mat, swing, AND rock and play.   My head was spinning and again I ended up in tears.  That may just be the hormones, but I would be OK not going back into one of those baby gear factories for a while.

We had such an amazing Christmas, our last Christmas as just the four of us.  I think Vegas and Harley can sense that life is about to drastically change.  Harley is my little shadow – following me around and laying with me anytime I’m sitting.  He has to be touching me at all times.  We had such a fun Raleigh Oden Christmas with Rob and Kristin.  It’s our annual tradition to get together and exchange gifts the weekend before Christmas.  Chris and I were foregoing an extravagant Christmas this year but he managed to surprise me with my baby bag that I’ve been swooning over.  I know some of yall think I’m probably nuts, but I’ve had this bad boy picked out since we started trying to get pregnant. 

Forgive the cheese - I was completely surprised!  My new Rebecca Minkoff "Knocked Up" Baby Bag!

This year, we also added putting on our finest Christmas sweaters/shirts and brewery hopping around Raleigh. Next year, I will actually be participating in the drinking portion of that event!

Stop #1 - Crank Arm Brewery.  This little gem of a sweater was a stocking stuffer from my sweet baby-daddy!
I also got to see my best friend of 23+ years and meet her sweetest new addition, Riley.  Check out those lips!  I am obsessed and can't wait for Boden and Riley to be best friends! No matter where life has taken us or what cities we've ended up in we've always managed to remain besties.  I love these two ladies with every bit of my being!

We have so much coming up that we are looking forward to (in addition to our little one’s arrival).  Finishing the nursery is the top of that list – really I’d just be happy to get it in working order. Our maternity session is next weekend.  Chris is heading out to AZ for a long weekend to visit his parents.  I’m staying back and doing a spa day here (thanks to an extremely thoughtful gift from one of the best friends).  We have 2 showers coming up – one in Raleigh and one in Charlotte.  January and February are usually long, slow, cold months but this year we have so much to keep us busy and so much excitement.

Until then, we will be celebrating 29 weeks on NYE.  I am looking forward to saying farewell to 2014 and welcoming a very exciting 2015!  We will be celebrating in a more low key fashion this year that includes a bonfire with neighbors and friends, sweatpants and hot chocolate for this Momma!

On another very magical my parents celebrate 36 years of marriage!  

These 2 people are the reason I am who I am and I couldn't be more thankful for all their unconditional love, guidance and support over the years.  I can’t wait for them to be grandparents in a few short months.  My mom might also be the most beautiful woman on the planet.  Dad was rocking the teen wolf look long before it actually became a “thing”.  Love you guys and Happy Anniversary! I hope the next 36 are as fun and adventurous as the first 36 were!

Hoping everyone had a wonderful, magical Christmas and wishing you all happiness and health in 2015!  And, as always, we are sending up extra prayers and thoughts to any of our friends and followers battling fertility, making tough decisions and in the long 2 week waiting periods! You are always in our hearts!

Here's some recaps of our Christmas with our families!

#sisterselfie with my beautiful SILs
Christmas Eve with my love and life partner
Comparing bellies post Christmas Eve Feast with Funcle Rob and Uncle Bert
Christmas with my crazy parents, sisters and D!
Christmas bones for the furbabes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Worry About A Thing...

Today I write to you from my bed.  That's right – bed rest!  Luckily, it’s only temporary. And, it gives me a chance to catch up on the blog!  I went in yesterday to get the sharp, crippling, sporadic pains in my lower abdomen checked out.  They put me on 48 hours bed rest to make sure I don’t cause any stress to the baby and try to get the pain to subside.  The baby is fine – that’s the first thing they checked.  They also took a look at the borderline placenta previa that was discovered last week – more to come on this!  They gave me high dose Motrin to help with the pain/inflammation.  If they are labor pains, Motrin will help stop that also.  We are WAY too early to safely meet BabyO!  Feet up and no stress – doctor’s orders.  At this point, I’ll take it – a couple days to re-group and relax!

Let me catch you up on our GOOD news from last week!  We are still functioning 1 day at a time and 1 foot in front of the other.  All of the many prayers from all corners of the country were heard loud and clear and we felt the support of our warriors going into our 18 week structural/anatomy scan on Wednesday.  Of course, I was still nervous because of the uncertainty that surrounds our little family.  But, I had more hope for this day than I’ve had recently.  Maybe my addiction is getting the best of me.  You usually revert back to the very source when you’re at your weakest.  I keep going back to the hope I have for our baby, our family and our future. 

This past Wednesday we were back at Duke for the scan and we got some great news.  All the major structures they could make out looked normal – measured normal – worked properly.  All I could think is, “Is this real?  Where’s the fine print?”  But, it was very real.  Because of the baby’s position, the doc couldn’t tell if the inflow and outflow of blood to the heart was normal, but gut feeling told him it was likely fine.  This will also be checked at our fetal echo in a couple of weeks.  The baby is a mover and never sits still.  Legs are always kicking and every time we went to 3D he/she gave a thumbs up! This still gives me goosebumps.  It’s like our little one is reassuring us “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing…gonna be alright”.  Have I mentioned how much I love the simplicity of that Bob Marley song?

On the flipside - they did discover that I have borderline placenta previa which will continue to be monitored.  Only a minor hiccup that was totally trumped by the amazing news that our baby is developing into a normal little babe.  Plus, it’s something that so many women experience, I don’t feel like I’ve fallen into another small percentage grouping.  This I can handle.  This I can face confidently.

We feel so blessed and so grateful that our prayers are being heard.  I’m not sure if there was something wrong with our babe and He is healing him or her in the womb. Or, was it a false alarm?  Or, did the little one simply need some time to develop and correct whatever it was on its own?  Either way, we know that a cystic hygroma should not be present and it was.  So something caused it and we may never know what.  And, I’m OK with that.  I’m just thankful that our little guy or gal is a fighter.  And, that he or she has hundreds, maybe thousands, of prayer warriors cheering him or her on.  And, that this child is in the most capable, loving hands. 

Thank you for the continued prayers and messages of support!  We are feeling more confident and more hopeful by the day.  Once we get past this next milestone – our fetal echo – we will be able to breathe a little easier. 

To add a little fun to the post – with the good news from Wednesday we decided we could actually start planning the nursery again and do a little celebrating.  We found our nursery bedding late last week.  It was a chore looking for gender neutral bedding that isn’t overly baby-motifed (is that a word?). But, we found something that we both really love so we went ahead and registered for it!  This past weekend we found our nursery furniture! Given my luck, the furniture collection we fell in love with has been discontinued.  We ended up buying the floor model dresser at a steal – those who know me know that I’m not shy about asking for additional discounts and it paid off this time!  Now, we have to figure out the crib…who knew cribs were so expensive?  I have a feeling we’ll end up just pulling the trigger on the matching crib – I did get them to come down from asking price. I’m just so stubborn when they won’t come down to what I WANT to spend…

I also felt the baby move for the first time last night.  I was absolutely sure of what I felt.   I’m pretty sure I’ve felt BabyO previously but I wasn’t really sure if it was just gas bubbles or baby kicks – crazy that you can confuse the two!  Last night was definite baby movement and it was so surreal.

Tomorrow we’ll be 19 weeks.  Crazy to think we are almost half way there.  I’ll leave you with these…

I don't think I've mentioned my obsession with donuts yet...breakfast in bed!

bed rest company = lots of snuggles

Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Up-Hill Battle

This is going to be a long and interesting update – a post, within a post, within a post. I’ve continued writing updates over the last several weeks but have hesitated publishing because of the uncertainty we still face.  I was hoping to be able to update with some sort of definitive news, but not yet.  We are asking for continued prayers as we face the most difficult experience to date.  Today, October 9th, I am 17 weeks 2 days pregnant.  The last 5 weeks have been a constant hell and have tested our patience, our faith and spirits.  Here are the previous posts I never published: raw and unfiltered.

Post from September 16th:

I thought for sure I could finally enjoy our pregnancy.  Relish in all the changes my body is going through. Start planning our nursery and daydream about being a family.  I thought we had endured the worst with our infertility battle and that we were in the clear.  Yet, here I sit – writing about the most traumatic experience to date and the uncertainty that lies ahead for our family and our baby.  All I can think about is how unfair it seems to put 1 couple through so much heartbreak.  What we are experiencing now is a completely different type of heartbreak. It consumes your entire body and makes every day a chore.  We fall into the less than 1% of all pregnancies that suffer a cystic hygroma – somehow we keep finding ourselves in these small percentages of people where bad things happen. 

We delayed writing an update until we had more information because of how much is still unknown at this point. We know that something is wrong with our baby, an underlying medical condition of some sort.  But, doctors and perinatal specialists have not yet identified what. 
Let me back-track. 

Post from September 3rd:

I thought I had already experienced my darkest moment…that moment when we found out our 2nd IUI failed.  I honestly didn’t think it could get any worse.  Until today…when my world fell apart. We were caught up in the high of finally being pregnant and fighting off Holly.  I suppose I let my guard down – I finally started feeling excited.  I even started planning a nursery.  It just feels mean and so unfair.  To make a couple battle for years through infertility.  To finally get pregnant and experience a major victory.  To laugh in our faces while you stomp out all our joy and steal our future.  All the hope that came with this pregnancy was ripped out of me and shredded in front of me while I watched helpless.

I can’t even begin to describe the heartbreak.  I’m not even sure what I’m thinking or feeling in this moment.  I think my body might have gone into defense-mode making me numb to everything and devoid of any specific feeling.  It’s like I’m stuck in a bubble watching the world happen around me.  I’m kicking and screaming and trying to claw my way out only to go unnoticed by the normalcy I can only witness.  That’s a bad feeling. No – that is probably the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.  I’m heartbroken.  No – I’m broken and I will never be fully whole again.

Today is Wednesday, September 3rd.  Officially the hardest and saddest day of my life.  I can say that with the utmost certainty. Today we went in to our OB for our Harmony and NT genetic screening.  You can say things didn’t go as expected.  In fact, they went worse than I could have possibly imagined or prepared myself for.  In the NT ultrasound, the tech pointed out the fluid at the baby’s neck.  This exists in all pregnancies.  The problem is that in normal pregnancy that fluid sac measures less than 3mm.  Ours measured 7-8mm depending on the angle.  We asked what that meant and were given extremely vague non-answers. “Let me check with Dr. V to see what he recommends”, “this is definitely outside of normal range but that’s all we can say at this point”.

Next thing I know, we are being ushered into Duke Maternal and Fetal Medicine by one of the nurses.  The looks on everyone’s faces was pure dread, yet to this point, we had been told nothing as to what this abnormal measurement means. After filling out new patient information, we met with a genetic counselor and finally got some preliminary answers.  Our case is no longer just an elevated NT, but a massive fluid sac extending from the baby’s head to the butt with little cysts scaling the length – a cystic hygroma.  Prognosis is not good. This is indicative of some kind of chromosome abnormality, genetic defect, birth defect, or severe medical condition.

“Trisomy 21, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, Turner’s Syndrome, congenital heart defects – incompatibility with life, stillbirth” – all terms thrown around and “explained” to us.  The problem is I am suffering from “information overload and system shut down” at this point and all I can do is cry.  Our baby is not healthy.  Due to the size of the cystic hygroma, it is almost a sure thing that there is something wrong.  Next thing I know we are learning about the invasive genetic testing options and making a decision to move forward with a CVS (Chorionic villus sampling) – TODAY.
They did another ultrasound at Duke to confirm the photos they received from Dr. V – and still we get the same prognosis. Dr. K came in to prep me for the procedure and numb my abdomen.  The numbing did nothing.  As he inserted the long needle into my abdomen (very close to my pubic bone) the most extreme pain kicked in and my uterus started cramping so violently I thought I was convulsing and losing control of my body.

My body started fighting all the information and the procedure and the bad news.  My hands and arms went numb and the black tunnel vision narrowed.  I have officially hit rock bottom…

Before I go crazy I must stick to the facts and what we know now. We know that something isn’t right.  There is an abnormality of some sort.  We get the test results back in 7-10 business days.  I get to re-live this hell for the next week.

There is a tiny chance (5%) that this baby is completely normal with no problems, but the doctor and genetic counselor told us not to get our hopes up.  The only way I can wake up and get out of bed the next 7-10 days is by believing that if we are unlucky enough to end up in the less than 1% of all pregnancies that this happens to that we might also end up in the 5% that turn out normal.  Hope is the only thing that can pull me out of the dredges at this point.

Prayers needed – please.

I never published that post because we wanted more information.  This is an extremely personal and heartbreaking situation that I, honestly, am a little uncomfortable sharing.  But, at this point, we could use our prayer warriors. 

Our OB and the Duke team have consistently told us that the severity of our CH means something is wrong with the baby.  It’s the what and the why we don’t yet know – usually (60-80% chance) it’s a chromosomal abnormality.  We opted for FISH (fluorescent in-situ hybridization) results from our CVS which came in 3 days later.  This tests for the 5 most common chromosome abnormalities – T21, T18, T13, X and Y.  This came back normal.  A minor victory that almost doesn’t seem worthy of celebration.  We had to wait another week for the full panel results which we received this week.  Also normal.  Yes – this sounds like good news.  However, it is still NO news.  No definitive diagnosis.  One of the scary things is that we can do all of this testing and they still may not be able to determine what’s wrong prenatally. Uncertainty is my biggest fear right now. Our team of doctors is insistent that if it’s not chromosomal than it could be a rare genetic disorder or structural anomaly (heart defects, major organ anomalies, physical deformities, cognitive developmental problems, the list goes on).  

We go back into Duke in a couple of weeks for a level 2 U/S at 16 weeks and again at 18 weeks to look for structural anomalies before we do a fetal echocardiogram at 22 weeks.  We also have the option of doing more extensive genetic testing that further breaks down the individual chromosomes and looks for breaks and variances in the genetic code.  It would tell us if the child has a rare genetic disorder. However, these tests are not covered by insurance and are thousands of dollars out of pocket.  Apparently prenatal genetic testing is still “too new” and deemed “investigative”.  I won’t even get into this…

My fear…that all the testing and scans we are doing come back normal and we are still uncertain of the vitality and future of our child. At that point, you are playing fate’s game and waiting until the child is born to learn what’s wrong.

I have spent the majority of the last couple years “waiting” – waiting for test results, waiting in doctor’s offices, waiting for follicles to develop, waiting to finally become pregnant.  I thought that was behind us but we are back to waiting…

We have been warned that we could lose the baby at any point moving forward.   That my body could recognize that there is just too much genetically or structurally wrong and dispose of the baby on its own.  I don’t think you can mentally or emotionally prepare for that. We are officially in a no-win situation.  There are no good options. Yes – there is the very small chance that this child could be normal, but our doctors have warned us against false hope.  Odds are against us and it seems every time we are in circumstances where odds are stacked against us we fall into the unlucky group of small percentages.  I am actually thankful for their realistic interpretation of our circumstance.

I’ve been drawn to my knees more times than I can count over the years, but no more often than I have in the last 2 weeks.  I may look like I’m managing the situation – our situation - on the outside.  In reality, I am shattered, crumbling and broken on the inside.  I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. It’s difficult to sleep – I’m woken every night with the reminder that our baby is in there as I get up to pee, and can’t fall back asleep as I hold the tiny developing bump and sob. I have never felt so helpless.  I have never felt so hopeless. The pain is so deep and violent that my whole body aches and the constant heaviness in my chest gives real meaning to the word heartbreak.  Sometimes I lose my breath just thinking about our child’s future. I can’t describe the pain that comes with thinking about the sort of life our child will face.

There is no point in questioning why this is happening to us. It’s not fair and I’m trying my best to live with that.  I refuse to accept it, but I know I can learn to live with it. I am gradually adjusting to living in a constant nightmare. I am functioning day to day by reminding myself of the facts and what we know today.  We know something is wrong with our baby.  So, I pray that if something is wrong to please let it be something that is operable, fixable.  To let us have that little bit of control to be able to fix what’s wrong. To please let us be a miracle.  To restore my hope.

All we ask is that you please pray for the 3 of us.

October 9th Update:

Chris and I had our 16 week structural exam with Duke last Wednesday.  Things seem to be looking up for us.  From what they could see in the exam this early, things looked normal.  The baby’s heart has 4 chambers, 2 kidneys that are working properly, 2 arms and 2 legs with normal measurements, spine looks good, definite genitals and the skin at the back of the neck is measuring normal.  So far so good.  They wouldn’t call it because it is still too early to make out details of major structures, specifically the heart and brain.  So we will be back at Duke next Wednesday at 18 weeks for the formal structural/anatomy exam.  We also scheduled our fetal echocardiogram with Duke Pediatric Cardiology for November 7th – this appointment should give us some definitive answers on the baby’s heart.  

These next few weeks are crucial for us as we continue to pray for a miracle baby with every ounce of our beings.  Should everything come back normal our chances of having a normal babe rise to 60% (up from 5% when we started this nightmare).  Odds are beginning to turn in our favor and all we can do is pray.  So much of this is out of our hands.  Even if it is something with the heart, at this point, it should be operable.  It scares me to even write that not knowing what’s in store, but I have to hold out hope.  I know we are in the best possible hands and I trust our team of doctors with mine and my baby’s lives.

I grow more thankful for my husband daily as he continues to be my rock and our voice of reason.  I almost feel more alone and isolated in this battle than I did with infertility.  He is the one person that understands and feels the things I feel.  We have decided NOT to find out the sex of our baby as nothing has really been a surprise, or at least nothing good has been a surprise. I am excited thinking about the moment we find out together in the delivery room whether we are having a son or daughter.  There aren’t many surprises in life anymore and I just know this is one I’ll cherish.

My belly is stretching daily and we are trying to enjoy being pregnant.  In this moment, I am grateful for the grace He has shown us in allowing us to continue carrying this beautiful life.  I am grateful for the life I’m carrying.  I am grateful for my husband.

We are sending our love to others facing struggles, touch decisions and heart break.  Please continue to pray for the 3 of us and continued good news.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

P is for Paranoid

It's been too long since I've posted an update.  To be honest, I'm still scared that something will go wrong.  Infertility has definitely changed me as a person despite actually becoming pregnant.  It tests your sanity.  Paranoia rules your thoughts. You become paranoid about absolutely everything - everything you eat or don't eat, every little cramp, every feeling.  After struggling for so long, it's work to let yourself be truly happy.

Don't get me wrong - I am so appreciative and grateful for this blessing.  Whatever happens will happen and I have to remind myself that we ARE ABLE to get pregnant.

But, I am terrified that it won't last. We are currently 10 weeks 3 days.

We've also had one big scare so far.  You would think that if you've fought your way out of infertility the universe would throw you a bone and let it be an easy, healthy pregnancy.  Again, I'm reminded that nothing in life is fair - even pregnancy after infertility.

At our 6 week ultrasound, Dr. Meyer pointed out a small, grey shadow right next to the baby bubble. A sub chorionic hematoma.  He told us not to be too concerned and that they would continue monitoring it.  They usually re-absorb into your body and it's no big deal.  They just didn't want to see it get any bigger.

The hematoma is the grey shadow on the left. 

We went in for our 7 week US excited to see how the bubble was changing and get a look at our bambino.  As soon as my uterus was up on the monitor it was clear the hematoma had no intentions of leaving.  That bitch had tripled in size in a week and was now 3 times the size of our little baby bubble. I was mortified. We were told not to freak out.  They explained that this could still re-absorb or come out in the form of a bloody glob (with or without our little babe). Great - a murder scene in the toilet is just what I need. Dr. Meyer told me to stay away from google and trust my body.  Adding, that if I started to bleed and pass bloody clots then I should come in right away.  As if paranoia wasn't already winning.

Hematoma on the left and babe on the right.

Naturally, if you tell someone already suffering from the 2 P's (paranoia and panic) not to do something...well that's the first thing they will do.  Note to self - remember this when my kid is 5 and 13...and 17.  I got to work that morning and told Kelly the update fighting back tears.  Together we got on Dr. Google at my desk.  My heart got heavier and my head scrambled as we scoured all the links and stories. The tears won the resistance fight as I read things like increased chances of miscarriage, placental rupture and preterm labor - if they get too large they can cause the placenta to separate from the uteran wall.  This was it.  This was the beginning of the end. This was the universe taking all my hope and leaving behind an emotionally distraught, unstable, nauseous, hormonal mess.

Kelly made me shut down Dr. Google and promise not to look it up anymore.  She reminded me to stay focused on my current situation -I am pregnant now.  There is a little guy (or gal) in there hanging on.  In my mind, I envision him clinging for dear life terrified at the ginormous monster trying to tear him away from me.  I am really, really grateful Kel was there with me to save me from my thoughts.

Worst case scenario person...remember?

Chris was completely calm through all of this.  I know he was also scared and nervous about what might happen.  He somehow managed to stay optimistic and remind me that we aren't the first couple that's ever had a hematoma. He knew that's how I felt - like the universe was playing an evil joke on us and yet again isolating us from the other, "normal" pregnant couples.

I hate Holly - that's what I've since named the hematoma.  I decided she needed a name because she's a resilient bitch that seems to have decided to hang around.  It's by no means named after Chris' beloved pup, but actually after a former boss of his that I couldn't stand.  Although, from stories I've heard, Holly the pup was quite a determined, resilient girl.  She once chased some ducks into the middle of the lake to the point where they had to rescue her on a jetski.

I digress...

We had our 8 week US the following week. Paranoia was winning the battle over control of my mind and I was expecting the worst.  To my surprise, Holly finally started re-absorbing and our little guy was still hanging on and growing.  Looking more and more like an alien shrimp :)  We were finally released into the care of my OB/GYN and we said our thank yous and goodbyes to the CC staff who have become more like family in the last few months.

Holly is shrinking and we have a baby alien shrimp with eye lids!

Our OB appointment had already been scheduled and we went in this past Monday for our initial meeting.  They should warn you it's more of an orientation because we were there for almost 4 hours!  We made the rounds - financial planning, meeting with the nurse for medical history, labs, US, full physical exam and meeting with our doc. It was an exhausting day, but a rewarding one.  We got to see our little guy again (and Holly - that bitch!).  We are doing well - we are healthy, Holly is shrinking, and we are getting more and more excited by the day.

We go back September 3rd for another US and genetic screening for chromosomal abnormalities.  They will also test for the sex chromosome that day.  I do not want to find out, but the hubby is hell-bent on knowing.  If you know him, you know he can't keep a secret.  He buys Christmas presents in November and wants to give them to me on Thanksgiving...he just gets so excited.  I love that about him!  So, if he finds out I will also be finding out.

As far as symptoms go, I've been pretty lucky - except for the paranoia which I think is just a new personal characteristic.  I haven't escaped unscathed, but nothing terrible.  Just extreme exhaustion and nausea all day.  As long as I keep saltines by the bedside and eat smaller portions throughout the day I can normally keep it at bay.  And I happily go to bed at 8:30!

For now, I am fighting back the paranoia and doing my best to just be happy. To live in the current moment.  And, maybe be a little excited.

Friday, July 25, 2014

30 is the new daddy

Today is a very happy day.  A day for celebrating.  For one - it's Friday.  Secondly - I have the day off work.  It also happens to be this man's birthday, whom I love so much.

My sweet sweet hubby!

My best friend, life partner, love of my life turns 30 today.  He enters a new, more refined and sophisticated, decade (yeah, right)!  I still see drinking a little too much, tailgating a little too hard, listening to Kings of Leon and Jay-Z a little too loud in our future. It is, however, a very special and exciting decade...

30 is the year my hubby will become a daddy :)

It worked - WE ARE PREGNANT!!!

We actually found out about 2 weeks ago with the blood test.  That morning I was a ball of nerves.  Chris and I made plans to meet for lunch and take the call together unsure of what to expect.  Per usual, I was running late. I was rushing trying to leave work and checked my email on the way to my car. There it was - an email from Dr. Meyer.  "Congratulations on your positive results...".  I stopped in my tracks and started crying like a baby in the middle of the parking lot.

Crying and in shock the entire way to the restaurant, I pulled myself together when I got there.  I hugged Chris and we walked in to get a table.  I immediately went to the restroom to fix my face - for what reason I'm still not sure because waterworks were off and on the rest of the day.  When I came out, I couldn't contain the news any longer and blurted out, "they haven't called yet, but I know".  The floodgates opening again as I showed him the email from Dr. Meyer.

Once we received the call from the nurses, we started calling all of our families.  It was such a surreal, emotional day.

I went back in 2 days later for a 2nd blood test to make sure levels were rising.  They were - they were actually tripling.  We were officially pregnant!  We scheduled our first ultrasound with Dr. Meyer for 2 weeks later - the morning of July 25th, Chris's 30th birthday.

2 weeks seemed like an eternity to wait.  I had seen nothing to this point saying I was indeed pregnant.  We had the phone calls with test results and that's it. I had also never had a home pregnancy test turn positive. What's a hormonal, pregnant chick to do but pee on a stick!  And, it turned positive before I even set it on the counter :)

I actually peed on 2, but whose counting...

We are still very early in the pregnancy.  Only 6 weeks.  When we found out our fresh cycle worked we were only about 4 weeks which is why we waited until today to update here. We are very aware of how critical these first 8-12 weeks are and what can happen so we are being cautiously optimistic. Most couples don't even reveal their pregnancy until 12-16 weeks.  We are a different story.  Because we opened up our lives to so many and asked for support and prayers through this battle, we felt it only right to let everyone share in our excitement and good news.

Not every IVF cycle works - we know we are one of the lucky couples.  I can't even begin to describe the gratitude and happiness that fills my every being and runs through the tips of my fingers and toes.

What an amazing birthday present for my sweet hubby.  All the grueling appointments, ultrasounds, counting and measuring follicles, hormones, bodily torture, highs and lows, 2 week waiting periods, fears - it was all worth it for this moment, this morning when we got to see our little babe's heartbeat.  It literally took my breath away. They had done 10 OB scans this morning by the time they got to me, and they said my little one's heartbeat was the strongest so far!  Our little miracle is a fighter.

Bring on the morning sickness, swelling, aching, sleeplessness, itchiness and whatever else comes with pregnancy.  It all sounds pretty amazing to me.  With it, comes a growing belly that holds the hope Chris and I once only dreamed of.

Chris and I fought our way off the lonely, scary island of infertility. We are proof that ART works. Team Boden prevailed and we are seeing our dream turn into real-life.  For those couples out there arriving to the island, wavering to make a decision on treatment, in the 2 week waiting period, or gearing up for a procedure - hang on to your hope and each other!  Chris and I will be thinking of you!

We are due March 18th - the day after St. Patrick's Day and one of our favorite holidays!

Just add a bambino with a mustache paci and we're set!

Please continue to pray for us and that our little one hangs on for the long haul. Because we are so early I continue to be a little wary.  But, my heart has never been so full of hope and I have never felt a high quite like this.