Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An update from the NICU

I am enjoying a rare moment -- it's quiet, I'm alone, I'm NOT attached to a breast pump, and I'm warm, comfortable, and fairly awake. I'm not sure the last time this happened.... I've wanted to post for days on end -- and I've really NEEDED to post, for sanity's sake -- but the opportunity and energy just haven't been there until now.

The babies are 3 weeks, 4 days old today -- gestational age is 36 weeks, 3 days. Both babies are still in the NICU, but they have graduated to a different section -- where babies go before they get discharged. We have been there since November 29 and may be there for another week or so.

One or two people asked for names and photos of the babies. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Obviously, since I haven't posted my own photo and I don't use my real name, I'm interested in protecting my privacy. Naturally, I want to do the same for the twins. I'd like to come up with good blog names for them at some point, but for now, Baby Boy and Baby Girl will have to suffice.

So, life in the NICU . . . How shall I describe it? It is often beautiful and wonderful, because it is the place where your babies are. And many other beautiful premature babies and their parents are there, too, along with nurses who know and care so much. But it is also cold and impersonal and deeply frustrating because it is the place where your babies are (it is not home). Along with other premature babies, some of whom are much sicker than your own, who make you feel grateful that yours don't have greater complications -- and some of whom are making progress much faster than your own, and you experience for the first time what it's like to compare your child to another or to compare yourself to another parent, wondering why your child is lagging behind and whether there's anything you can do to improve your child's outcomes.

There are moments when your NICU experience -- well, my NICU experience, I should say -- makes me feel more like a visitor or a babysitter than a parent. I mean, for weeks, I had to ask a nurse if I could pick up one of my babies. I still have to ask, "Do you want me to change her diaper?" when I know good and well that it's time to do that. I never imagined this as I anticipated getting an HCG level high enough for it to indicate I was pregnant. It is simply odd to have someone else "in charge" of what you do as a parent.

Yet there are moments when it isn't odd at all. You -- well, I -- feel deep, deep gratitude that this expert person is there to teach me what to do and when to do it. It makes me wonder what in the world parents who don't get all of this hands-on training DO when it's time to take their tiny babies home -- even full-term babies! They are still small and utterly dependent on you.

I am pretty sure that I have cried more during the past three weeks than I have in the past year, at least. I'm not a cryer. But the hormones, the stress, the lack of sleep, the uncertainty and fear... all of that together plays a number on me and meltdowns have sometimes been a daily occurence. Oh and the mood swings are crazy! I'm not a moody girl, but oh my gosh!! I've noticed that within minutes, I've gone from feeling desperate and hopeless to feeling inspired and deeply contented.

I also feel very selfish at times -- frustrated that I have to pump every 2-3 hours and I can't seem to really find a schedule that works well, what with twice-daily hospital visits including attempts at breastfeeding, which have to be timed with the pumping. I've also been a big wimp about pumping in the middle of the night. When I can realize that I'm being selfish, I then feel guilty for feeling this way and I tell myself I should focus on the positives of the situation -- at least I can produce enough milk for both of them to be nourished by... at least this is something I CAN DO to contribute to their care... and worst of all, hello? HOW HARD DID YOU TRY TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN? ALL THAT MONEY AND TIME ON FERTILITY TREATMENTS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? AT LEAST YOU HAVE TWO BABIES!!!

My husband has been a great support through all of this. I'm learning to tell him how I'm feeling rather than keep it bottled up -- even if I tell him after the fact. Just telling him about my mood swings and talking about my feelings (as my voice shakes because I'm on the verge of tears --again) has helped a great deal. Last Friday night we went out on a date to a nice restaurant -- didn't get there until almost 9 p.m. because I had to pump when we got home from the hospital and then I fell asleep . . . But it was so wonderful to be with him alone for a few hours and simply talk. I don't think I have ever taken him for granted but I do think I've taken the endless time we've had to do whatever we wanted for granted. These babies are his first and my first, despite first marriages for both of us, so we've spent a LOT of adult years doing whatever we pleased, whenever we pleased. Those days are over, but now it seems that the time we have alone and together will be sweeter and richer.

Okay, I don't know if this post will make much sense to anyone reading it . . . But these are my feelings in recent days. I think the babies are coming home next week and I can't wait, if for no other reason than simplification of our schedule. More importantly, I can't wait to bring them HOME -- into the home where we have a wonderful nursery for them, into the house where they will grow up, into the neighborhood where they'll make friends, just down the street from where they'll go to elementary school.

Thank you all so much for your good wishes for us. I appreciate your support. And again, although I'm not doing much commenting, I'm trying to keep up with my favorite blogs, even if I read two weeks' worth of posts in one sitting. I'm thinking of you all and wishing you the best in your own journeys to parenthood.

Hugs!
Susie

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Newsflash: I'm a preemie mom!

Despite all my effort to prevent preterm labor, I crossed the threshhold from pregnancy to motherhood last Friday night -- just shy of 33 weeks. My delivery date goal had been 36 weeks. Friday morning, my OB all but put me on bed rest because he said he could tell I wasn't resting enough. He commanded me to rest more and I obliged, spending all afternoon on the couch. When I went to the bahroom a little before 8 p.m., I discovered a sea of red in the toilet. Called the doctor's office and headed straight to the hospital with DH.

To make a long story short, my water had broken and I was in labor. At around 10 p.m. my OB said, "We're going to have these babies tonight." And I asked, "How soon?" He said in 30 minutes to an hour! He was right -- I got an epidural within about 30 minutes and I was in the OR for the c-section shortly after that.

Baby A, our little girl, arrived first, weighing 4 lbs. 11 oz. and was 17.5 inches long. And Baby B, our little boy, arrived two minutes later weighing 5 lbs. 1 oz. and was 18.5 inches long.

They are in the NICU and will be for several weeks. I'd love to have them home by Christmas, but I don't want them to come before they are ready. DH and I are learning a lot about the medical challenges they are facing, most of which have to do with breathing, their heart rates, and digestion -- all pretty major stuff. However, I think size is on their side. We expected them to be much smaller.

If I could keep my eyes open, I'd tell you more. But I am more sleep-deprived than ever. I got no sleep Friday night, maybe 2-3 hours Saturday night, etc. Getting home from the hospital last night helped -- you get no rest in the hospital! I'm learning to pump my breast milk -- and it's beginning to work! But I'm supposed to pump 8-9 times per day to get things established and be ready for the babies when they learn to breastfeed. Right now they each receive milk through a tiny tube inserted in the mouth -- they're getting a combination of my milk and donor milk, which we started them on because my milk had not yet come in.

I can't end this post without telling you how in love we are with these sweet babies. The boy is beautiful and the girl is feisty. I love it! (We can't really see Baby Girl's face or hair very well because of an apparatus that involves a hat and large tubes that help her breathe. Baby Boy had one, too, but he graduated a few days ago to a simpler setup that allows us to admire his sweet face.) It is hard to believe that they are just five days old.

Needless to say, I am grateful for this outcome. The NICU has its scary moments, and we certainly aren't out of the woods yet. It is overwhelming at times -- the fear that one of them won't make it. But I don't think that's what we are dealing with here.

So, I'm feeling BIG gratitude on Thanksgiving 2010. I think back to one year ago and Thanksgiving was just a week or so after our one-day workup in Denver. What a difference a year makes! I am grateful for my new babies and I'm thankful for all of you who've read my blog and supported me along this journey. What a wonderful community we share.

As I am grateful for the positive outcome I have found, I also carry much hope in my heart for equally positive outcomes for all of you who are still seeking to build your family. Do not give up hope!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 weeks today

I can't believe that I am 30 weeks along. I learned this week that I may deliver in 4 weeks -- yikes! -- and that has brought all kinds of thoughts to mind. I think about the years it took to get to this point, feeling like pregnancy and parenthood might never, ever happen. Yet in some ways, those years seem so distant now. I still feel the burden of the unknowns of infertility when I think about the years of waiting, but in many ways I've put that pain behind me. I am fully in soon-to-be parent mode. And that freaks me out at moments! Surprising, isn't it? After all those years of wishing and waiting and persevering, I'm about to finally get what I wanted and I'm freaking out about it. I'm sure that all of this is completely normal but it is interesting to observe, nonetheless.

So my last two posts were big vents about my mom. Thanks to those of you who read and offered advice. She's gone now and my anxiety level is normal again. I actually just spent about an hour and a half composing an email to her to further set some boundaries about her time here and to tell her how stressed all of the holiday and post-baby arrangements are making me. I know she'll read it and say that she will do everything she can to help us, because deep-down, she's very level headed and reasonable and I love that about her. I haven't hit send yet because I want DH to read it first.

One thing I realized in the midst of all of the mom angst that makes me sad -- my dad used to be the one to help keep her obsessive and smothering behaviors in check. For example, when my brother went away to college, it nearly did her in. She was beside herself missing him. She wanted to go visit my brother too soon and my dad told her no. She listened. He balanced her out completely. I miss him so much!

S here's what's been happening with me and the babies:

-- My boy is moving like crazy, punching, stretching, and shifting into positions that frequently cramp his sister (and let's face it, me). Last ultrasound (on Tuesday of this week), he was measuring 3.6 lbs and everything looked fantastic. His position is either transverse or breech, depending on where he moves.

-- My girl is moving less, has less space to do so, and is low on amniotic fluid. Her approximate weight on Tuesday was 3.1 lbs. The doctor was pleased with her growth (indicating weight gain of about a pound over the past four weeks) and her movement during the u/s was also good. The amniotic fluid could become a big problem, so we're due back for another u/s on November 8. Doc said the only things that could impact the amniotic fluid are how much fluid I'm drinking and how much rest I'm getting. (Some days, I'm sure it's not enough of either, so I'm trying to do better.)

-- Baby Girl's placenta is on the front, so it could be making it harder for me to feel her movements. Doc said if I go a day without feeling her move, come in to see them immediately. With Baby Boy all over the place it is sometimes confusing whether it is him or her moving, but I'm really working at zeroing in on who's doing what so I can monitor her. I sometimes knock on her side of my abdomen and say, "Hello! Baby Girl?" Sometimes she responds with a knock back! I'm also trying to rub my belly more on her side. I realized that I do that a lot on Baby Boy's side because he tends to butt up to my lower rib and poke either his head or his behind out my side -- very uncomfortable! I try to gently push him back in so I am more comfortable. I realized that all of this touching him makes me feel more close to him and perhaps stimulates his movement. So I'm trying to touch her more, too, to stimulate her movement. This is my first realization (probably the first of many) that I may have been treating them differently in a way that is not good for one of them. Oh, I have so much to learn about that!

-- Doc said if Baby Girl's amniotic fluid doesn't improve, "extra monitoring" may be needed, which would mean additional office visits and possibly a non-stress test. It could ultimately mean they need to deliver the babies earlier than we'd like.

-- If amniotic fluid problem improves and all continues to go well, will I last until 36-37 weeks? Doc said maybe but he'd more likely predict 34 weeks. (Um, hello, that is the Saturday after Thanksgiving!)

-- Doc (this is the perinatologist I've been referring to) will consult with OB to determine best time for C section (most likely) and it likely will be scheduled a few weeks in advance.

-- I am scheduled to continue working 4 hours per day through November 15. That day cannot come soon enough!

-- At last OB appointment, my fundal height was 34 cm (and I was 29 weeks at the time).

-- My feet and ankles are swelling horrendously at times. I'm embarrassed to wear dresses and most of my previous maternity pants aren't comfortable now. I've got a few pairs of comfortable black knit pants that are somewhat like workout pants but somehow pass for something else, thank goodness, and one pair of black "dressy" pants I picked up on clearance at Target. Also picked up a few pairs of Old Navy leggings last weekend -- what a lifesaver those are.

-- Other than the swelling, I feel pretty good. No backaches unless I stay in bed too long. Oh, I'm having pain in my hands that feels like what must arthritis must feel like, but it's apparently more fluid retention. It comes overnight and goes in the morning when I start moving around again.

-- DH and I took three classes last week -- Baby Essentials for Multiples, Infant CPR, and Breastfeeding for Multiples. Instructors were excellent. The only class that overwhelmed me was the baby essentials one, which surprised me. I thought the breastfeeding class would do me in, but it seemed fairly do-able. We shall see!

-- Have had two showers now. One more to go - next Sunday afternoon. It should be a biggie. DH's mom is coming for it.

-- DH and I have been to the same pizza place every Friday night for at least 8 weeks now. It is my weekly indulgence in amazing pizza and a caffeinated beverage -- bliss!

I sure do admire all of you bloggers who post more frequent, brief posts. I wish I could discipline myself to do that because I know the long posts get old. Thank you to my friends out there who read them and comment. I hope everyone is doing well and having a good weekend!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Belated Update

Well, I'm back! I can't really explain my absence . . . As I've caught up on some blogs I've been following (but not reading much of lately) this morning, I've realized how entirely out of the loop I've been. And I have wondered why I haven't taken the time to log on, read, and comment. Everything since early August (and probably the few weeks before that) is kind of a blur. I'll try to recap some of the high points (and low points):

- July was INSANE, work-wise. 'nough said.

- August included our vacation to see family, which I did post about, followed by three weeks of preparation to go part-time at work, which I also posted about. (Exhausting!)

- On August 31 (last day of the month and quarter, great time to buy a car) we finally made a decision about purchasing a larger vehicle and got a Mazda CX-9. It has three rows of seating, plus two car seats and an adult can fit in the middle row, AND a stroller can fit in the "way back" with the 3rd row of seating in use. Of course the trade-off is the gas mileage, which I hate. At least it's not like a Suburban or a Navigator or something huge like that. It is definitely bigger than the smaller crossovers but still on a car chassis, I believe, which makes it feel less truck-like.

- The day after we sealed the deal on the new car, I woke up with a sore throat, which lead to a week-long illness including infected sinuses, nasty green chest congestion, etc. At first the OB's office didn't want to give me an antibiotic and suggested I try over-the-counter remedies. After four days of that, I called and asked for the real meds. They called in a z.pack and that cleared it up within another four or five days. Not fun, and did I take any sick days from work during all of this? Nooo, of course not!

- At the beginning of my puny week, my brother and SIL came to visit and we went to see Jonathan Franzen speak/read at a local book festival. It was a nerd-fest, but I really enjoyed it. I loved The Corrections but haven't yet started his new book. He read from it and it sounds great.

- More about going part-time . . . It's now been 13 days of working at home, supposedly for just 4 hours per day. Well for the first 7 days, I averaged 6 hours per day, which really stressed me out because a full workday in my organization is 7.5 hours. I was feeling like I was wasting my leave hours. At the end of the day yesterday, I recalculated the average and now it's down to just below 5 hours per day. That's better. This week I truly did work only 4 to 4.5 hours each day.

It is REALLY nice to let go of some of my responsibilities, but at the same time it is strange to give up some of my role. I've still got the VP title but I am not feeling very VP these days because I don't know all that's happening within my organization anymore. I think this is a pretty good way to transition into several months of maternity leave, though, when I'll supposedly be totally disconnected. (And that will help me make a decision about returning to work, I'm sure.)

- In terms of baby preparation, let's see what there is to share . . . We bought two cribs and had them delivered a few weeks ago. I have done a LOT of thinking about nursery decor, but have made no decisions. Frankly, I dislike most of the coordinated decor sets that include bedding and offer everything from lampshades to diaper stackers to switchplates. I mean, if the theme is monkeys, it's like you're trapped in the monkey habitat at the zoo -- there are monkeys everywhere! It's just a little too much for me. We also bought a big, comfy glider rocker with gliding ottoman to match. Here's how we decided on the color for that: We're at one of the big baby superstores and meet this super-great saleswoman who's agreed to ring up each crib and the rocker/ottoman separately so we can use our three 20% off coupons; plus she's going to apply their 10% twin discount AND invites us to get the store credit card, which will give us another 10% off. So we're looking at saving like $500 on all of this. Then we find out we have to go with the color of the rocker in-store -- we can't select one of the other colors on the swatches next to the rocker because that's considered a custom order and the 20% coupon won't work. So I immediately say, "I like chocolate brown!" and was quite relieved to have a slight bit of direction in the nursery decor department.

- I have some baby showers on the calendar, too. Two of my good friends are hosting a shower on October 10. It will be a hodge-podge of long-time friends and work friends. I'm not one of those women who has a group of friends ("the girls") I spend time with simultaneously, so it will be an interesting mix of people, many of whom have never met. I don't really like being the center of attention -- especially when opening gifts -- so as the day approaches I'm sure I'll have some anxiety about the occasion. But really, everyone is sooo happy for me, and they're there to help celebrate. I shouldn't be anxious.... My boss is throwing a small shower for me and DH at her home, too... The biggie will be a church shower on November 7. It will include couples/families, thank goodness, so I will not be the only one opening gifts. DH, who knows most people at church a lot better than I do, will be as much the center of attention as I will be.

Okay, this post is getting long, I know. I have more to share, but will save it for another day. Future topics to cover -- how the babies are doing (great!), how my mom is doing (insanely happy, bordering on annoying), how I am doing (feeling huge and uncomfortable at times), baby registries, my new sewing machine (nursery decor indecision has lead me to DIY), etc.

I hope everyone is doing well and having a good weekend. It's good to be back!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Will get back on board soon

I have been out of the loop, big time, for several weeks now. To those of you whose blogs I've been following and commenting on, I'm sorry.

I'm approaching my big transition to part-time at work and it has been so much work! I've been in my job for 8 years and will be the first to admit that I am not the best manager of paper. My desk is huge and always covered with stacks of folders and things to read. My files are jam-packed. Now that I'm going part-time, someone else is coming in to cover for me. I've got to train her but also have to prep my office for her use. This is a big job, physicallly speaking, because I'm recycling reams of old stuff and I'm packing boxes to take home. The past two days I've overdone it because by the end of the day, I start to feel pressure deep in my abdomen. Once all of this is done and I'm working part time, I fully intend to get re-engaged with the blogosphere.

I hope everyone is doing well. I am fine, other than being tired. I'm 21 weeks along today. Happy Saturday!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back from vacation

We are back from an eight day trip to see family, also referred to as our farewell tour, since we won't get home again for at least nine months. We spent four days with my family and four days with DH's family.
We had a great time visiting with everyone. I got to see my dad's brothers and their families as well as a very special great-aunt. We saw DH's whole family, which is much larger than my immediate family. They actually threw us a surprise baby shower (with just family) one evening after dinner. Now that we know we're having a girl and a boy, my MIL went a bit crazy with the pink and blue outfits. But they were adorable. We also received two beautiful hand-made blankets. Oh! And DH's rocker-nephew gave us two AC/DC onesies, which I love because it will be so "irreverent" for little tiny babies to wear them. The interesting dynamic in DH's family is that our twins will be the third and fourth grandchildren, but their older cousins are in college. I think these babies are going to be SPOILED by the in-laws and their cousins.

We came home yesterday, giving me today to recuperate. This is very unlike us. We typically use every minute of vacation time, arriving back home late the night before we have to return to work. I'm really glad we did this because I needed today to unpack, do laundry, and get mentally prepared for work tomorrow.

Speaking of work, I have just three more weeks in the office and then I'm going part-time and working from home. I'm pretty excited about the change but also a tad bit concerned about the loss of socialization. However, I think I'm going to need the extra time to rest.

Physically, I feel huge, but I know I am not. However, there's no question I'm pregnant now. People are starting to look at me in public. I guess I have to get used to that. I'm pretty much wearing only maternity clothes now. Thanks to a friend who gave me two big bags of clothes and a few trips to some local consignment stores, I feel like I have some options in the wardrobe department. When the weather turns cooler, though, I'll have to find some new stuff. Of course in Atlanta, that won't be until October at the earliest.

I've been reading a book by a Dr. Barbara Luke about having multiples that I bought used for less than $1.00. It hasn't scared me, but it has made me much more aware of the possibility of a preterm delivery -- and I mean really early, not just 36 weeks. Dr. Luke's recommendation for staving off preterm labor and delivering normal birth-weight multiples is to gain 50 lbs. if you're having twins, and to gain much of it early. Well, that's not happening. I have finally gained the 10 lbs. back that I lost in May and June and have probably added 5-10 lbs. on top of that. My appetite is definitely huge compared to what it normally is, but she says I should eat 3,500 calories a day. Unless I'm going to eat junk food (Krispy Kremes every day, perhaps?) to supplement my fairly healthy diet, I'll never reach that goal.

I've got 12 days until we go back to the doctor. Chances are good that in about a week (maybe less), I'll be on the train to crazytown, worried about the babies. I think I'm definitely feeling movement, especially from the boy, but not so much from the girl. It could be her position, I suppose. Or as someone said, maybe the boy is just being a typical boy.

While we were out of town, I didn't have a computer with internet access (just my blackberry), so I am way behind on reading blogs. I did do a quick read of several updates last night, but didn't comment. I'll reconnect soon. Hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's a boy . . . and a girl!

I have been largely absent from the blogosphere for the past week or two because work has been insanely busy. We had six important deadlines yesterday and we met them all. I am thinking I can now coast a little bit -- after working 10 and 11-hour days for at least a week and a half.

Yesterday we had back-to-back doctor's appointments, first with the OB and then with the perinattologist.

At the OB's they did the doppler heart monitor and the babies are doing great. Their heartbeats were both around 140 beats per minute. The doctor "measured" my midsection -- I thought he was going to bring out a measuring tape, but he just felt the height of my uterus on top of my abdomen. Interestingly, he said if I were having one baby, I'd be measuring about 20 weeks, but since there are two, it makes sense that I'm this size at 17 weeks. (This explains why I feel so giant next to my colleague who is only one week behind me in her singleton pregnancy.) I also had blood drawn for the AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) test that screens for an elevated risk of various chromosomal and other abnormalities. It will take 3 weeks for the results, but I'm just going to assume it's all good since we did the full chromosomal screen on the embryos and they were normal.

At the perinatologist's office, I asked if we could videotape the monitor during the u/s and was told no, unfortunately. They used to do that but too many patients took their videos home, saw things they didn't understand, and started freaking out, calling the office and asking crazy questions they don't really have time to answer. Something also happened that involved a lawyer, so now they don't do it anymore.

The sonographer asked if we wanted to find out the gender and I assured her: YES! So first we learned that Baby B is a boy -- he was proudly displaying his manhood for all the world to see. On the other hand, Baby A was being a bit coy at first, but after several minutes, the sonographer declared that Baby A is a girl. I breathed a big sigh of relief and let out a big, "Yay!" DH and I are both very pleased with this outcome. Later I asked the doctor -- after he repeated the ultrasound just to get a look at them himself -- how sure he is about the genders. He replied with a smile, "I am 100% sure that Baby B is a boy. And I am 100% sure that Baby A is a girl." Good enough!

Thank you, CCRM embryologists, for selecting a boy and a girl. CCRM absolutely will not discuss the gender of your embryos with you. They say, "We don't do gender selection." I had hoped that with five good embryos to choose from, they'd try to pick one of each.

Back to the sonographer's look at A and B. We had about 20-25 minutes to watch what she was doing. She inspected, photographed, and measured all kinds of things -- the heart, the brain, the abdomen, the spine, and more. I was chatting away, commenting on what we saw. We could see the heart pumping away and could actually see the two ventricles! I asked how big it really is -- maybe the size of a bean? She measured and it was 1.4 cm x 1.8 cm! She also measured one of the femurs for me and it's about an inch long. Amazing! Oh, the ultrasound assesses their weight (based on all of the measurements they take, I suppose) and Baby A is 8 oz. and Baby B is 7 oz. The What to Expect When You're Expecting book says at 17 weeks, a baby is about the size of the palm of your hand.

So apparently, everything looks good. We go back to both doctors at the end of August. I am so happy that things are progressing well. I'm feeling really good and so much more energetic than I was during the first trimester.

I've got one more week of work and then a week off for vacation to go see our families. I've been jokingly telling people that this is our last trip EVER. I'm sure that's not so, but it will be a while.

Hope everyone is doing well. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

16 week update

I didn't mean for 2 weeks to pass between posts, but I've been busier lately. I'm feeling much, much better -- normal, even -- and it's a really good thing because work has gotten super-demanding the past few weeks. I think this week, I never left the office before 7 p.m. On Thursday and Friday I was there until 8 p.m. I have three major deadlines next Friday and am spending as much time as possible trying to meet them. However, I refuse to work this weekend. I hope I don't regret that decision next week, but I've got to give myself a break.

In addition to work demands, we've been researching cars, car seats and stollers. Who knew all of that was so complicated? Today we are going to look at a few more cars and then we have a wedding late this afternoon, which should be a lot of fun.

I have my next ultrasound next Friday -- I can't wait! I've worried some about how they are doing, but my concerns haven't gotten out of control, thank goodness. I do think I felt some movement twice on Thursday -- so cool! -- but nothing since then. I will definitely update after the ultrasound.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Telling

When we decided to tell our news freely after 13 weeks, I didn't realize the first trimester actually goes until 14 weeks, but we stayed with the plan because our ultrasound during week 12 went well.

Unexpectedly, telling has been a bag of mixed emotions and thoughts. I had imagined it as pure joy. I realize now that I had imagined it as if I had conceived naturally in a normal amount of time -- as if this were a normal pregnancy announcement. Isn't that funny?

Some peoples' reactions made me laugh -- the woman at work who burst out laughing and was so excited for me, and then told me that she had suspected as much a month or more ago when I looked particularly green. Some people cried, including the woman at church who got pregnant when we did last year but went on to have a baby instead of a miscarriage, like we did. I decided that was her relief from the guilt.

When someone -- a guy, no less -- blurted out, "It worked!" in front of people who knew nothing of our IF treatments, I wanted to smack him. I gently told him later that we aren't telling everyone about our IVF because someday we need to tell the kids how they came into the world and it might be best if everyone they know doesn't already know this. I think he got the message.

However, in some situations, I have found that along with saying "we are expecting" comes a a great urge to explain how we came to this point. For three years, I've largely held in all the difficulty we've had conceiving, so now at moments, I have found myself wanting to explain how hard it has been or wanting to educate people about infertility and help them understand that it is all around and you just never know who's dealing with it, so be sensitive, people!). With some people I want to explain what an amazing feat this is -- this is no ordinary pregnancy, people, a WIZARD made my babies in a magical lab... I want them to marvel with me at what medical science can do. And I want to explain the enchanted feeling I had after discovering new hope with CCRM . . . I want to explain why I've been moody or distant or socially awkward for three years -- that there's a root cause to all of it.

But largely, I cannot explain all of that. People just aren't that interested, are they? They are quite interested in the fact that I'm pregnant with twins, but they want to think and talk about due dates and baby names. They don't really want the back story. I'm sure through trial and error I'll figure out what feels right about what to tell and what not to tell -- and to whom.

Some people have asked, "Do twins run in your family?" and when I want to, it has been so great to honestly answer, "They do, actually. My mom's mom and my dad's dad were both twins." I LOVE that because if I don't want to tell them the truth of how I ended up with twins, that's all I have to say. I am not a good liar and I don't like to lie, so having twins in my family history is really helpful. And this is snarky, but it feels good to say that to nosy people who have no business in my business.

One woman from church said, "Oh, so many people have been praying for this for so long." That one has had me thinking: have they been praying for this because they think we'd make good parents and we've been married for almost 4 years and we're both getting up there in age and well, it's just about time? Or did someone secretly spill the fact that we were struggling with infertility and have been doing treatments for years? Or maybe they just assumed such. I don't think I want to know the answer. If a bunch of people at church knew the real deal, I'm so glad I didn't know it. I probably would have skipped church a lot more often.

(Theological tangent, not intended to invite comments by readers who tell me I'm wrong about this or that God's timing is perfect. This is just what I'm thinking: I can't help wondering if sooo many people had been praying for this, why did it take so long? Why did it almost not happen? Kind of reinforces my thought that we are pregnant not because this is what God intended -- "you wanted this so bad, so God made it happen," as one of my friends said -- no, we are pregnant because we persevered through 5 IUIs and 3 IVFs and we paid Dr. Babycraft $25,000. Not that God had ill intentions for our pregnancy or that God wasn't part of the equation. I wholeheartedly believe that my faith has helped me along the way. Maybe God helped us find the patience to persevere and the belief that no matter what, we would find some peace through this journey, regardless of the outcome. And who knows, maybe that's what people prayed for:  not for a pregnancy itself, but for patience and peace. God is not Santa Claus, after all. But let me be clear:  I do believe God is in this thing and I need God to be; I'm just not sure God could have made this happen without a lot of help humans.)

Sorry about that. I bet I've never mentioned that I'm a seminary dropout. I took an elective called "Suffering and Evil" at one time that really helped me think through some of the above. Of course it was not thought through within the context of infertiilty; it was throught through within the context of my dad's brain injury and subsequent nine years of living hell betwen 1996 and 2005.

As we told people after church last Sunday, I had a bit of odd anxiety that was unexpected. I think it may have been the fact that I don't really like being the center of attention or the subject of discussion. Or it may have been that being "out there" and having people think I'm a normal pregnant woman is so weird. I do feel very pregnant -- have seen three ultrasounds to prove it and have physically been wiped out for much of the past two months -- but in some ways, it just feels better to keep the pregnancy news to myself and my close circle of friends who've known for a while. Now I move into this phase of being under a microscope and being subject to all kinds of unsolicited advice. The woman who said sooo many people have prayed for this also said, "Expect to be monitored closely by 150 people." That's nice on one hand, but yikes! What a change.

What a jumbled mixture of contradicting thoughts, huh?

The one place I haven't told yet is Facebook. I rarely update my status because I don't think people care what I'm doing. I generally reserve status updates for something big. Well this is big, but I've read so many other bloggers' posts where FB announcements of pregnancies really sting. I don't know who's out there dealing with infertility in my FB world, but I don't want to cause them pain. I thought about just totally coming out and saying, "After three years of struggling with infertility, I am expecting twins." But I don't want everyone who's my friend on FB to know I'm infertile. I've also thought about an email to a smaller group of FB friends. I will probably go that route.

Okay, this post was ready to go until I reread it and decided to add in that theological rant. Sorry again about that, and sorry for the length of this post. I've got more on my mind after listing to a Super Mom explain why cloth diapers and water births are best . . . But will save all of that for later.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

13 weeks today!

Okay, I should have posted sooner with an update. Sorry about that. All is well. It was a pretty good week. I spent the time that I should have spent posting and commenting on peoples' blogs trying to set up a private blog for our families to follow our progress. Everyone lives out of state so we won't be seeing them much before the babies are born. (And this blog is a little more information than I want to give my aunts and uncles and cousins and inlaws!) We do have a trip to see them planned in August but that will be our last visit with them until who knows when. Except for my mother who is growing more and more excited every day and will be visiting multiple times, I'm sure. She sent me the funniest email this week, rambling on and on about how she wants to be supportive and help as much as possible but she doesn't want to interfere with our lives . . . It became quite funny. I forwarded it to DH and simply said, "My mother is loopy." He replied and said she has the grandmother version of pregnancy brain. No kidding! She's 68 and has no grandchildren, so she's waited a while for this. I used to be worried about her interfering (and never going home) but now I'm grateful that she's so available to help out. I don't have any idea how I'm going to handle two babies at first and she will be a reassuring presence, especially since she's a retired nurse.

We had our first perinatal appointment on Tuesday for the first trimester screen and had a good, long "visit" with the babies. The sonographer probably spent about 15 or more minutes getting what she needed and then the doctor repeated the ultrasound for about 10 minutes. It was mesmerizing to watch them floating around, oblivious to gravity. Twin A was lounging on his/her back at one point, either sucking his/her thumb or picking his/her nose with legs crossed -- as if he/she was kicked back in a hammock. A few times the sonographer thumped on my stomach to get Twin A to move and it was surprising  to see A react. You think they are in their own little world and that what's happening outside the uterus doesn't have an impact on them -- it was amazing to see Twin A jump, like, "Oh, what was that?" For a split second I thought, "Hey, leave my baby alone!" but A very quickly resumed his/her relaxing, kicked-back pose, so I figured it was okay. Funny how that mother's instict kicks in, isn't it?


Here's a close up of Baby A


And here are A's hands and feet in the air


And here is Baby B


And two shots of B's legs (kind of hard to see)

We discussed with the doctor (who we like very much) the bleeding episode and he said that one of the placentas is right on top of my cervix, so he isn't surprised. He said no walking for exercise, no intercourse, nothing strenuous. In addition to the ultrasound, they did a finger prick and ran some blood tests. We had a bit of a scare on Thursday when a genetic counselor called to say that Twin A's results came back indicating a slightly higher risk of Down Syndrome. We met in person with the genetic counselor on Friday morning to fully understand this result. The nuchal translucency measurment, which they take on the back of the neck, helps indicate whether there might be problems such as Down's or a heart defect. Twin B's NT was 1.9 mm and Twin A's was 2.1 mm. Amzaing that a two-tenths of a millimeter difference makes that much of a difference in the risk assessment. Twin B's risk of Down Syndrome was reduced to 1 in 430. Twin A's was only reduced to 1 in 281 and they want it to be 1 in 308 or less. That said, a risk of 1 in 281 is still in the normal range and the genetic counselor said she isn't particularly concerned about this, especially since we did the comprehensive chromosone screening on our embryos with CCRM and everything came back normal. She said there are like 10 additional markers they will look for at our next ultrasound (in 4 weeks) and if there are additional concerns then, we can discuss the possibility of doing amniocentisis.

In addition to the perinatal appointment on Tuesday, we had an OB appointment on Friday (yesterday). I thought we'd get another look at them but was disappointed and confused to learn that all of my ultrasounds here on out will be at the perinatologist's office across the street because the OB's machine can't capture what's needed now. (I began to wonder, why do we need you people? And I actually said something to that effect to the genetic counselor, who works for the perinatalogy office, and she said, "Well, they have to deliver the babies." Aha! So we do need the OB!! But I'm thinking, after three years of appointments in fertility clinics, one of which has a waterfall in the entrance... that would be CCRM.... I'm thinking, "What kind of 21st century obstetrician's office doesn't have a decent ultrasound machine??" Anyway, the OB appointment was almost a non-event. They did a urine sample, had me stand on the scale, got out the fetal heart monitor and listened to both heartbeats, and then we talked with the doctor for a few minutes. We cleared our vacation dates with him, I updated him on my plans at work to cut back hours after Labor Day, we discussed the bleeding episode (I'm still spotting some brown gunk but no one seems concerned), and we discussed the results from Tuesday, which he had just received, which he also was unconcerned about. I don't mean to sound critical of this doctor. He seems great and comes very highly recommended. It's just odd to put my care in the hands of someone who refers patients out of his for all ultrasounds. I don't get that. But maybe I've been in IF world for too long and that's the way it is. I know for "normal" pregnancies, women don't get many ultrasounds, anyway, so maybe that's it. It's still odd after having so, so many scans (I should have counted). I didn't know the procedure was so specialized!

Okay, noon is going to be here before I know it and I'm still sitting on my bed in my pajamas. I have got to get up and get away from the computer. I may go to a few consignment shops that sell maternity clothes today because I'm staring to "spread."

Oh, also! We're going to tell people now that we made it through our two doctor's appointments this week. Tomorrow should be interesting at church and next week, I can't wait to tell some of my colleagues at work. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Challenging weekend

Friday night, I had some bleeding -- a pregnancy first. Of course I panicked, but after talking to the midwife on call at my OB's office both Friday night and Saturday morning, I was reassured. It was mainly one episode Friday night around 11 p.m. and then just a few drops of blood at about 3 a.m. Saturday. Since then, it has all been brown, which the midwife said is good because that's old blood. We couldn't identify anything I've done that might have caused this but it isn't uncommon, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. We have another ultrasound Tuesday morning, so I hope to be reassured for sure then. I had to go to a meeting yesterday until mid-afternoon, but after that, I camped out on the couch. Today I went to church and then a baby shower (which lasted forever) but I returned to the couch when I got home around 6 p.m. I am thankful this episode was brief, but that doesn't make it less frightening. I immediately started thinking about the possibility of going back to that very familiar uncertain feeling that has permeated my infertility experience -- the question of what my life is going to be like. Fingers crossed that all is truly well. Will let you know Tuesday.

My best friend's dad died today. He had been ill and we had hoped he was on the mend, but his condition deteriorated rapidly last Wednesday or Thursday. I'm so sad for her, her mom, her four siblings, and all of his grandchildren (especially my godchildren). I knew him as a kind and hardworking man who loved his family. I know they weren't ready for him to go and he will be dearly missed. I haven't seen him much in recent years but my sense is that he loved being a grandfather. Those kids are going to miss that. And so is my friend. (I'm so sorry, S. I wish I could be there for you this week.) My mom has offered to go to the memorial service to represent our family and I hope she can go. My going is unfortunately out of the question because it's out of state and I'm still grounded, travel-wise. Especially after the bleeding episode from Friday. I hate this because S. was there for me when my dad died and it meant so much.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My shortest post ever

This is going to be my shortest post ever, but it is a significant thing . . .

The past two days I have begun to feel like a normal person again! I actually ate some chicken for lunch today . . . yes, chicken! My first in at least a month. I think that I'm about to turn the corner on the nausea and food aversions. And my energy level is improving, too.

I am so excited!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Graduation!

This post originally included information as follow up to a post that has been removed. Can we say TMI?? Following is the edited version.

I GRADUATED yesterday!! I went to the Atlanta clinic for my final blood draw (pending positive results) and CCRM called mid afternoon with the good news. My E2 shot up to 2,482 (from 1,671 on Monday!) after discontinuing the last patch on Tuesday. The E2 had been really creeping up by only like 20 points every week for a few weeks. I wonder what happened this week to get this increase. My P4 is still, as it has always been, "greater than 45." I don't know why the Atlanta clinic doesn't record the exact number when it is that high, but that's how they do it. If it has always been so high, I'm not sure all of those suppositories and injections were necessary, but who am I to second-guess the docs?

*****

Today I am 11 weeks. Two more weeks left in the first trimester! Then we can announce our good news to the world. A lot of people already know -- and more will know this weekend because I gave my giddy mother the green light to tell at a family reunion that starts today. I just keep telling her, "No congratulatory Facebook postings!" I don't want to be outed that way.

I am still feeling gross a good bit of the time but I am also feeling very grateful that the past month is over. Between DH's birthday party and his whole family being here, followed by my goddaughter's visit, followed by my mom's stay while DH was out of the country, followed by my brother and SIL visiting last weekend, I am so, so happy that I have absolutely nothing to do and no one to entertain or feed today except myself. (All of those were very wonderful things and I wouldn't change it for a minute, but they happened so close together and it was exhausting at moments!) DH is out on a long bike ride with friends and this is the first time I've had significant time alone at home in a while. Ahh, sweet silence!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm back and still puny

I haven't had any time on anyone's blogs for the past 10 days or so... My mom came to stay with me while DH was out of town. He got home last night and she left this morning. I am so, so grateful that my mom did this for me. She is a retired nurse so she knows how to anticipate a person's needs when they are feeling puny, which I still am.

I can't say that we did much other than go to work each day, but these days that is an accomplishment for me! (Mom volunteers at the nonprofit where I work, so she came with me to work.) My brother and SIL came to visit on Friday (I took the day off) and stayed until Sunday morning. My SIL's birthday is tomorrow so we had a small party Saturday night. They cooked, thankfully, because I'm not so much into cooking even when I like food. And late Saturday night, I had a pregnancy first -- not exciting at all, but notable. I had a few bites of some fish and immediately said, "I can't do this." It was all I could do to swallow the second bite. For the next several hours, my stomach felt unsettled. And later, yep, it came back up. It was kind of a relief, in an odd way. I've felt so nauseous at times, I've said to my body, "I dare you to throw up!" Well, I did. And it was nice to feel better afterwards. It was just a single incident, so it was no doubt completely related to that fish. Ick.

Unfortunately, that experience put me back a few steps in my slight progress toward developing an appetite again. Yesterday I was extra-cautious about what I ate, didn't eat enough, didn't have enough energy, etc., etc. Today, I actually called in sick at work. I didn't sleep well at all and knew it was going to be a bad day if I tried to go to work. So I cut myself some slack and stayed home.

Today I am 10w2d, so I'm hoping I'm in the home stretch of this. I went to the Atlanta clinic for my weekly E2 and P4 blood draw. When CCRM called with results, they surprised me. I go back Friday (not the usual Monday) for one more check of both and if all is well, I'm done! I am already down to one Vivelle patch and I did my last PIO shot last Friday. I take that last patch off tomorrow and then I'm done (provided that the numbers look good on Friday)! This is like graduating from the infertility academy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What a week!

This week has been my least active week on this blog (and other peoples' blogs) since January. We've pretty much had company at our house for a week now, and my mom just arrived last night for the next 10 days. DH has gone with kids from church on a spiritual pilgrimage in the UK. He left last night and when I dropped him off at the train station to go to the airport, I burst into tears. Surprised myself! Before he left I asked him to get some more life insurance because if, God Forbid, anything happened, the existing policy would pretty much leave me in a bind now that we are expecting twins. I was grateful that he heard my plea and made it happen before he left town.

So, a quick recap of the last week. His family arrived last Saturday to celebrate DH's birthday. The big party was Sunday, and even though it rained and I had to move everything inside (it was supposed to be a backyard party), it all worked out great. It did stop raining enough for the four kids who were here to swim in the pool and for people to ooh and ahh about our new backyard. DH had a really great time and felt very loved, which was my mission with the whole thing. Success!

We told his family our news as soon as they arrived on Saturday and there were many hugs, some tears, and lots of questions I wasn't expecting. But it was fine. We ended up explaining everything to them all (IVF, Denver, frozen embryos still there, etc.). They only stayed until Monday at about 6 p.m. I was sad to see them go but was sooo exhausted on Monday, I needed a night to recuperate.

Tuesday, the camp for kids at my work started and my goddaughter was a volunteer. She has done this for three years now and always stays with us. I drive her in to camp when I go to work every day. This has become a special tradition and great concentrated time for us to spend together. More than any other child in the world, she has been my inspiration to become a mother and during the past two years, was a reminder of why we were persevering through the IF treatments. She is 11 now. This year, I think she was probably wondering what in the world had happened to me because I was sooo tired. Last year, we went on long walks in the evening around the neighborhood and swam in the pool every night. This year, I would come home and collapse on the couch at the end of the day. We finally told her Thursday night and she understood. It was so sweet to see her reaction. She got this big smile on her face and said, "That's awesome!" and then she said, "I think I might cry!" I said, "Now you know why I'm no fun anymore -- I haven't been feeling well." I think she was relieved to figure that one out. It was a special moment. She is going to be the perfect babysitting age. Too bad they don't live around the corner from us like they did when she was a baby.

Thursday, I had my first OB appointment. I really liked the new doctor (Ayres with Georgia OB/GYN, if any Atlanta readers are wondering). He came highly recommended by two good friends. I can say more about that later, but for now, I'll say the ultrasound looked good. The heartbeats were like 167 and 182 and he showed us tiny arms and legs. They look like limbless snowmen to me, but I could sort of see what he was showing us. They were measuring 8w5d, right on target.

I will probably be largely absent from the blogosphere this week, too, unless I can steal some time away from my mom in the evenings. She will probably hover a bit, but the way I've been feeling, I probably won't mind too much.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 28, 2010

You Won't Believe This

I'm not sure I have mentioned this before, but I learned a while back that my star staff member (let's call her Stacy) was also trying to conceive. She has known about my situation for a while. She knew about the brief pregnancy a year ago and she knows about our going to CCRM and everything. A couple of months ago I briefly became obsessed with the fear that we would get pregnant at the same time and have overlapping maternity leaves. If I wrote about this at all, it was during that time.

Well, my fear has come true.

She told me yesterday during her annual performance evaluation. I was prepared for the news because I had pretty much figured it out. I think she was pretty scared to tell me because she was not sure that I was successful with the transfer. I congratulated her and asked when she is due. January 13. I said, "Are you kidding me?" She said, "When are you due?" (So she assumed the best, which is nice.)

She had her first ultrasound the day before and learned she was further along than she expected. She said she started counting the weeks (because she knew the date of the transfer) and went, "Oh crap!"

It was a lot of fun to discuss symptoms and such but then we got down to the serious business of how to tell the big boss, who is liable to freak out.

My boss (the big boss) and I had a great conversation about my plans over lunch on Monday (and I was going to post about it but have still been feeling miserably nauseous, especially at night, which is when I normally post). She asked if I was coming back to work and I told her I don't know yet. I was able to openly discuss my feelings, saying that my biggest concern is doing something I'll regret, either way. I learned that she had been thinking of ways to keep me on in a part-time capacity in which I could work from home (if I don't want to keep my current job). She said I'd been very loyal and she believed in rewarding that. She also had been thinking of whether or not Stacy (from above) could take on most of my job (the parts I wouldn't be doing part-time). We discussed this and also discussed the possibility that Stacy wants to have a baby, too. I was pretty encouraged by this discussion. My boss is so good when it comes to giving people opportunities to advance.

So. Fast forward from Monday to Thursday. Things are a bit more complicated now! The boss didn't freak out, but she is trying to figure out what to do now. She asked what I think we should do and I told her I need to think about it.
I think the most important question for me is what I personally want to do. But I am very concerned about what happens if I leave. I have worked so, so hard to build my team and have increasing success every year. We are now completing our best year ever. I want everything to continue growing even if I'm not the one to make it happen.

Gotta run. I took a vacation day today to get ready for the in-laws and the big birthday party for DH on Sunday. Yay!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Big Sigh of Relief (or two or three)

The first sigh of relief is for my Atlanta RE, who hugged me 4 times and was soooo excited for us. She said she'd been thinking about me.  She could not have been nicer. (See yesterday's post for the back story on this.) I'm so glad I went out of my way to see her today for the ultrasound. She probably would have been disappointed if I had scheduled with one of her colleagues. And the outcome of the u/s was the perfect ending to this chapter of my story with the Atlanta clinic.

The second and third sighs of relief are for our TWINS!!!!

As soon as the image appeared on the screen, my doc sort of squealed and jumped and said, "We have two!"

I was just in awe looking at that monitor with those two gestational sacs and those tiny little fluttering heartbeats.

She took lots of pictures and printed them out. I'll have to see if I can scan them or photograph them another day.

Here are the details:

Embryo A
crown rump length (CRL) is .77 cm (7.7 mm) with a heartrate of 138 bpm
6w5d (based on size)
Projected due date based on size: 1/8/11 (my mom's 69th birthday!)

Embryo B
CRL is .71 cm (7.1 mm) with a heartrate of 137 bpm
6w4d
Projected due date: 1/9/11

I believe that full term for twins is 37 weeks, so those due dates are late. The u/s machine simply calculates things based on the individual size of each embryo.

I have mostly been in shock about this. I do feel like I now have an explanation for all the nausea. This evening I was going to take a short nap but my mind couldn't stop thinking about twins. DH was in the next room and every now and then, I'd say something like, "It just got a whole lot more expensive to fly home" or "Our childcare costs just doubled!" I started thinking about getting two babies in and out of car seats in my Volvo S60 and taking them ANYWHERE at all. Wow. If we do indeed end up with twins, I've got a lot to learn. I've got a lot to learn no matter what!

I am excited but kind of overwhelmed. I haven't cried at all. DH did get teary after the u/s. My mom cried on the phone. Actually the only time I got a bit misty was when I was walking toward the building from the parking lot thinking about all the times I've walked that path. I thought about coming and going before and after so many failures and wondered if I'd exit the building today with another failure under my belt. I thought about what good care my doc has given me, about the time she sent me to the ER across the street when I had unbearable pain a week after my first transfer. I thought about the times I'd been wheeled to the curb in a wheelchair post retrieval. It was odd knowing that any success I would claim today was not because of the work of this clinic. But I do give them a good bit of the credit. Without my Atlanta doc, her nurse, and the rest of the team, I would have never made it to this point. They weren't able to get me across the finish line but they've cheered me on along the way and my doc has coached me through this in many ways. It really has been a much more personal experience than CCRM. But that makes sense when I've only been to CCRM a few times in comparison. And I can't imagine Dr. Babycraft hugging me. Not in a million years.

You may think I'm crazy going on and on about the Atlanta clinic like this but I think it's something I have to do to put everything that's happened behind me.

More later!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nauseous and Nervous

Tomorrow is our ultrasound! We will be 6w5d. I am nervous now that the day is upon us. I haven't had much time to emotionally prepare for it because I've been so nauseated and quite determined to find a way to manage it. I haven't even been anxiously counting the days until the ultrasound because just getting through one day is a major accomplishment right now. I read something yesterday about the importance of stellar nutrition during the first trimester and it launched me into action. Today I forced myself to eat a bagel, a small yogurt, some nuts, part of an apple, a few bites of a fruity granola dessert, about six cheezits, a bowl of chicken noodle soup made with egg noodles, and a small portion of ice cream. That's the most I've eaten in one day in quite a few days. And I wouldn't exactly call that stellar. But I think eating more helped keep the nausea at bay, to some degree. I hope my little embryos are still growing in there. I guess I'll know a lot more tomorrow afternoon.

The appointment is at 3:15 with our Atlanta RE. I haven't seen or spoken to her since last November after I got back from the one-day workup at CCRM and she was exhibiting a bit of professional jealousy. That particular day, we talked on the phone, and she actually told me it was a business decision that they don't do labs or monitoring for out of state patients. She said it was an inconvenience for the staff. By the end of the conversation, she had offered to "go to bat for me" with her colleagues at the practice. (She is one of the founding doctors of this practice... She can do whatever she wants. I knew this.) But I played along and following our phone conversation, I sent a very passive agressive email saying it is a lot more than business to me and for them to refer me to CCRM and then not continue to monitor me was contrary to the wonderful care they'd provided me during the previous 15 months. I also thanked her profusely for going to bat for me. About a week later, my nurse emailed and said they would do the monitoring. When I scheduled my first monitoring appointment, the scheduler acted like it was no big deal at all, so I casually asked, "So do you all do this pretty regularly for patients going to out of state clinics?" She said yes.

I was pretty hurt by this whole thing. I felt like my doc had kicked me in the stomach the day she said they wouldn't do the monitoring. She actually made me cry. She is the warmest, most friendly doctor I've ever had. She has amazing bedside manner. But she's human and I guess she got jealous.

I could have scheduled this appointment tomorrow with another doctor in the practice but I asked for her because I'd like to "feel the love" for her again. I don't want that kick-me-in-the-stomach phone call to be my lasting impression of her. She did pretty much talk me in to going to CCRM and giving them a chance, after all. So I'm turning the other cheek.

Obviously, my nervousness tomorrow isn't just about the ultrasound. I hope she acts like a grown up! I'll let you know. More importantly, I'll let you know the status of numbers 1 and 17. This seems surreal!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Six Weeks

I think my last post confirms a suspicion I had -- I have no readers (well, maybe one or two) from Atlanta! I still need to find an OB but I'll sort that out eventually.

This week I began having some difficult symptoms -- nausea, extreme tiredness, and food aversions -- off and on throughout the day. I haven't quite figured out how to manage the nausea and food aversions, which are linked. My aversions aren't exactly specific. It's more like food in general makes me want to gag. A lot of what I've read has suggested eating smaller meals but if I do that, it will be a big change. And I somewhat dread every meal, so if I have to eat six small meals, my daily dread will be doubled. I have found that if I eat something before my stomach gets really empty, the nausea and aversions are held at bay a bit. I have also found that if I make myself eat something, it usually turns out okay. My nausea isn't accompanied by vomiting, at least.

I really want to figure out how to manage this because I hate feeling like this all the time. Last night DH and I had agreed to go get something to eat at one of our favorite neighborhood spots and then I backed out because we waited too long to go and I started feeling miserably nauseous. I apologized and told him I'm afraid I've ruined his life for the next few months. Later, he said he was thinking about what I said and that that's just not so. "It's all about you," he said. Sweet!

******

Some of you won't believe this after all of the thought and effort put toward NOT telling the boss -- I told her on Thursday. I was feeling so bad, I became concerned that I was going to have to quickly exit an important meeting or that she was going to notice me dragging myself through each day. The telling turned out just fine. I think she actually likes being the only person in the building who knows. She was very congratulatory and didn't freak out and start asking when my leave would be or talking about how she's going to find someone to cover for me, etc. -- there was none of that. I'm relieved that I told her because I was spending a little bit too much energy keeping it from her. Our offices are next door to each other and it's just easier this way.

******

I don't know what it's like in other cities and towns, but in Atlanta, I'm told if you are going to need childcare for an infant, you need to get put on a waiting list as soon as you get pregnant -- and there might be a spot available by the time you need it. A year ago, I took this advice to heart and within less than a week of my first good beta, I started making calls. I got really excited about the possibility of finding a great situation for the baby and about the new relationships we'd have with our child's caregivers. Plus, it made everything seem very real. However, within two days of making those calls, things faltered and they started using the phrase "not genetically viable." Having had these conversations with childcare providers made this even more difficult.

So this week, I made one call. It freaked me out, so I decided to take my chances and wait a bit longer for such research. If worse comes to worse, I have no doubt that my mother, the first-time grandmother who would probably move in with us if I asked her (not gonna happen!), will gladly bridge the gap until our time on the waiting list turns up. Within a few weeks, though, we do need to get a move on finding the best situation we can. This will mean tours of facilities, applications, and wait list fees.

*****

Our big backyard project is almost complete -- on time! But something horrible like 40% over budget. The contractor and I have had a few moments because he just doesn't listen to me. Does what he wants, even though it is my yard. I haven't had to go so far as to ask him whose yard it is, but I have thought about it. Luckily he usually gets everything right in the end. The whole thing is going to be awesome. So much better than we ever envisioned.  We have two weeks until the inlaws arrive, so we're now in the phase of finishig touches. We're going today to shop for a new outdoor dining table because the one we had picked out is now on back order until 6/30. We may just wait for it because the price was right and it was just what I want.

******

So that's about all my news. Not a lot to report. I have not felt like posting much but I have been reading and commenting on others' blogs. Our ultrasound is next Thursday, at six weeks, five days. I'm sure I'll post again after that, if not sooner.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Need an OB in Atlanta

I don't know if anyone from Atlanta is reading, but I am -- fingers crossed -- going to need an OB/GYN. My regular doc is way out in the 'burbs and I don't want to drive to his office for prenatal care. I love my regular doc so I've been waiting for pregnancy to occur before switching. It looks like the time for the switch is approaching.

I want to deliver at Northside Hospital and want someone with an office near Northside or somewhere between there and Midtown. I also would like a female but am not married to that idea. After all, a male doc "got me pregnant."

If you don't want to post your recommendation in a comment, please email me.

Thank you!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Not Telling, Encouraging Stats, Rooting for Pie

Ahh, it's a lazy Saturday morning! I love it. Thought I'd do an update on a couple of things:

I made it through the meeting with the boss yesterday without any inquiries about the outcome of the FET. I was ready, thanks to comments on my previous post, but didn't even need to evade any questions. I had a stroke of luck, actually, and was able to preempt any inquiries by bringing it up first. My boss told me that one our colleagues, a man with a big personality who's always making people laugh, is leaving the organization. This is a big loss for us. I was saying things like, "Oh no!!!! This is terrible!" Well, this guy always conducts a "baby pool" among all staff whenever a woman is expecting. (I have never participated but basically, people bet on when the baby will be born and the person who's closest wins the pot of money.) In the midst of my very genuine "oh no" reaction, something flashed through my mind. My opportunity! So I said, "WHO is going to do my baby pool when I have a baby someday?!" Somehow I knew that my boss, who I know pretty well, would not ask me about the FET after I said this. She just said, "I don't know. I guess someone else will have to do it." And that was it! Ha! I am probably safe until my next meeting with her, which isn't until after the six week ultrasound. Whew!

*********

I left work a little bit early yesterday because I worked so late Thursday night. I went home to rest a bit and found myself feeling anxious about making it nearly 2 more weeks to the six week ultrasound. This is a whole 'nother 2ww! I pulled up an old email from CCRM's genetic counselor in which she provided me with a statistical summary for people who've had comprehensive chromosone screening (CCS). Here it is, verbatim:

2007-2009 Blastocyst-CCS General Update
N = 154 transfers
Average maternal age = 37.5
Average number of embryos transferred = 1.87
97% survival post vitrification
~61 % implantation rate
~74% clinical pregnancy rate (6 week ultrasound)
~71% ongoing clinical pregnancy

13% of patients who undergo blast biopsy had all aneuploid* embryos. This means 87% of the patients had at least one normal embryo available to transfer. Of the 154 woman who have had transfers (this does not include the patients whose embryos were all abnormal) of euploid** blastocyst embryos, ~110 have delivered a healthy baby (or babies). I calculated this number by taking 71% of 154 (see stats above).

* “aneuploid” means chromosomally abnormal
** “euploid” means chromosomally normal

I wanted to know where I am in those statistics now, so I called her -- and luck was on my side, I caught her! -- to ask a few clarifying questions. I was thinking the 61% implantation rate was a typo but she said it is not, because it is a calculation of implantation of each embryo transferred.

I asked about rates of miscarriage and she said they don't track them at every step of the way. BUT what she did say was very good news -- the miscarriage rate for women in this study after they had positive betas was just 4 to 5 percent!! This is exactly the kind of reassuring information I was seeking. I could, of course, be in that 4-5 percent, but my mind is at peace with those odds.

*********

Last but not least, today I am thinking a lot about Pie, whose beta is tomorrow -- on Mother's Day! That's just wrong. And to top it off, her husband is out of town until tomorrow. If you have a minute today, say a prayer, send some sticky vibes, or visit Pie's blog and leave an encouraging comment. Pie, I am rooting for you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Strange New Place

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and support!

I don't have time to post this, but I feel the need to get some thoughts out. Now that I've had two strong betas, I'm officially pregnant. I've never been THIS pregnant before, which is sad since I'm only 4 weeks and 4 days along. I feel like I should be further along, given my symptoms -- lots of weird feelings in my midsection and extreme tiredness.

Don't get me wrong -- I am HAPPY -- but I am realizing something: I don't know how to be pregnant. I know how to be infertile. And this is sad but true, but in some ways, I'm more comfortable being an infertile underdog than a pregnant CCRM "graduate."

Right now, since it's too early to tell people, I'm spending a little bit too much time thinking about how to NOT tell people, especially my boss. I have a meeting with her on Friday morning and I'm hoping she's not going to be asking about where things stand. She knows about the FET and knows it was on 4/22. I've thought and thought about a way to say, "We're not ready to say yet" without ticking her off. If she gets testy about things, then I'll be ticked off. We've been having that effect on each other quite a bit in recent weeks, so chances are good. I just hope she doesn't ask, because I have no doubt that she expects to know as soon as I know something, which in itself infuriates me (and is pretty much illegal).

Anyone have suggestions for handling a nosy boss who already knows too much?

Gotta run. I have a VERY long day tomorrow -- it's my organization's "signature" event and I'll be working a 12+ hour day, much of it on my feet.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Still Pregnant

I am sooo tired -- meant to post earlier but got sidetracked with DH's birthday party invitation -- but I couldn't let the day pass without a quick update.

To recap -- Saturday's beta was 387. Today's was 1,108!
I'm still pregnant and very relieved.

My nurse asked, "How many did we transfer?" (two)
She also asked, "So you're okay with multiples?" (yes)

Of course it's still too early to tell. We'll have our first ultrasound on May 20, so I would think we'd know then.

Thanks to everyone who's reading for your wonderful support and happy comments. I just keep reading the comments over and over because almost no one in my real life knows and it's fun to be happy and excited with you. I appreciate you all -- my followers, my lurkers, and anyone who's prayed or sent baby dust, sticky vibes, or positive energy my way.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Call from Summer on May Day

So the call came in at 10:26 a.m. (so early!) and I was in the middle of a session on international adoption at the Resolve Family Building Conference in Atlanta. I had been thinking "oh I hope don't really need this information" not five minutes before I looked down and saw my phone light up and begin to vibrate. It was CCRM. I jumped up, steppped over a few people and bolted out of the room, leaving my purse and other belongings behind.

The caller, whose name I didn't catch because I was so surprised they were calling so early and because I was flustered from rushing out of the room to catch her call, said, "Well, we got your lab results back." And I thought it was going to be bad news - just for half a second. Then she said, "And everything looks great. Your HCG was 387!"

At that I pretty much started rambling things like, "Oh my gosh! Are you serious? I can't believe you called so early! Do you know where I am? I was just in a session about international adoption...."  She asked me what time I went to the doctor because she was surprised to get the results so early, too. My appointment was at 8 a.m., which is 6 a.m. in Denver. Good for my Atlanta clinic for sending results over so promptly!

She confirmed that I'm doing daily PIO shots and 3 endometrins per day and then said for me to keep that up. I didn't even think to ask what my progesterone level was. I did ask about the HCG of 387 and confirmed that even though that's kind of high, it's too early to make singleton or twin projections. The nurse said she's seen numbers like that result in both.

Before we hung up, I asked, "What was your name again? I want to remember this." It was Summer. I thanked Summer for such great news.

Yahoo!!

Now on to the next hoop: Monday's beta -- HCG needs to double!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Symptoms?

6dp5dt -- 3 days to go until beta!

There's been a lot of "activity" in my body today. I've felt slightly crampy, with some lower back pain, and I had some feelings I don't think I've ever felt before. My breasts are also a bit tingly. All of this been happening off and on for several days but I wasn't so sure that some of it wasn't just effects of the estrogen patches and progesterone or wishful thinking for symptoms. There's no doubt that I'm not imagining this stuff now. But it still could be the meds.

I am not going to POAS (pee on a stick) because I just don't want to have to process the results. I won't believe it either way and if it's negative, that could really mess with my head. I am doing pretty well and just don't need to go there.

Amazingly, I've somehow convinced myself that the beta is just one more hoop to jump through, like the egg retrieval, the fertilization report, the wait for embryos to develop and grow to become blasts, the comprehensive genetic testing of embryos, the thaw of the two they transferred.... So many things have to happen "just so" that getting past this first beta is sort of just another hoop to jump through. If it is positive, I still have to jump through the second beta hoop, the ultrasound-looking-for-a-heartbeat hoop, and who knows how many more hoops before I end up with a live infant or two.

How have I ended up thinking like this? I think my experience a year ago was so traumatic, I just don't want to let myself go there again. I am the only person I've ever known to cry her eyes out before leaving the RE's office  (while standing in line to check out, in full view of everyone in the waiting room, waiting for their own good or bad news). But yes, that was me last May when the doc finally said there was no hope for a viable pregnancy to develop. I just couldn't hold it in until the parking lot. It had only been about 12 days since the first beta and six days since they started using the phrase "not genetically viable" but my hope was so fierce, I was determined to see those HCG levels rise. Tears streaming down my face, I apologized to the check-out girl saying, "Sorry. I know this is bad for business." Our train wreck cycle followed that -- 3 eggs, 0 fertilized. Then we were kicked out of the Attain financing program. After that, I crashed emotionally and did not begin to believe that perhaps I could conceive a child with my eggs until some time after our one day workup at CCRM.

Our experience with CCRM has been so enchanting. And it really isn't CCRM as much as it is their results. I mean, they retrieved 17 eggs and created 5 normal embryos in their lab. Hope was reborn. But there are limits to where I will let myself go. On Saturday, if I get a BFP, believe me, I will shout it to the mountaintops of this blog. But then I'll start thinking about Monday's beta. It sort of seems like the hoop-jumping could be never-ending, possibly sending me to crazytown pretty quickly. So instead, I'm trying to enjoy each day of this experience . After all, being PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) may be the only "pregnant" I ever am. I want to enjoy it as much as I can.

It will be interesting to see if I can keep this up. I feel healthy and at peace at the moment. Time will tell!

One last note: I am getting pretty good at telling people who know my infertility story -- and even know about Denver and in some cases, the transfer last week -- that we're just not telling. For example, here's what I said to a good friend who emailed me tonight with an "any news?" question: "We had a frozen embryo transfer (2) last week, so we hope to have some good news this summer! Once we get the initial result, we plan to hold back on sharing it until we’re feeling more confident that it’s really going to happen this time." People have been very respectful.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PIO Independence!

I'm so proud of myself, I have to brag to some people who can appreciate this . . . I gave myself my very own PIO shot in the bum this morning! DH is going out of town for two days this week, so I was faced with calling a friend who's a nurse, paying my home clinic $30 for each injection, or doing it myself. I didn't like the first two options, so I decided to try it under DH's supervision this morning. And it worked just fine! It actually hurt less than some of those smaller needles in my abdomen or thigh.

After I did it, DH said, "Am I out of a job?" as if he felt like he's no longer needed. I assured him that I'd prefer for him to do it because I didn't like twisting around like that -- the most uncomfortable part. He seemed relieved that his duties hadn't been taken away from him. He's so needy! I love him, though.

All is going well this week. It's hard to believe that my beta is in 4 days!!! I am doing a pretty good job keeping busy at work. I've been resting a lot in the evenings, just trying to not overdo it. So far, so good on the emotional front!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strategizing for Sanity

We're back home now and thankfully we somehow dodged all of those horrible storms that devastated parts of Mississippi. Ironically, we flew right over those areas but at 40,000 feet above the clouds, it was bright and sunny. I couldn't help but notice that our flight had an all female crew, from the pilot, co-pilot, and the flight attendants. As I exited the plane I felt like saying something about girl power and thanking them for a safe landing, but I did not.

So the fun begins. Yesterday I asked DH for his opinon about three possible strategies for surviving this week:
A. Pretend like nothing has changed, focus on my busy week at work, and as a result, stay pretty even about the news we'll be getting on Saturday.
B. Walk around with a big smile in my heart (and maybe on my face, too), confident at the fact that I am PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise). In other words, positive thinking all the way. Shut out those fears and doubts.
C. Try to keep a realistic mindset, don't forget that the odds are sort of against us here, prepare for a letdown and then if it's positive, be very pleasantly surprised.

I didn't get much advice from him on this (which is probably a good thing), nor did I firmly select A, B, or C. There are merits to all three strategies, but I am leaning toward a combination of A and B, with a bit of C well below the surface. I have a ton of stuff going on at work, we have the big backyard project, and I have a surprise birthday party to plan for DH.

One thing I'd like to avoid is getting into an intense study of possible symptoms day by day. Last night I actually googled "2dp5dt symptoms" (that's "2 days past 5 day transfer"). Reading what I found made me feel anxious and crazy. When I was doing bedrest, I felt some things -- mild crampy feelings -- but who knows if it was back pain from being in bed for so long, if it was something I ate, or if it was something happening with the embryos inside of me. Something like, oh, maybe, implantation?

Right now, I'm just happy that inside of me are two microscopic combinations of me and DH. Last October when my Atlanta doc said "adopt or find an egg donor" I never thought this day would be possible. So for THIS day, I am grateful. At moments yesterday, I thought, "Take your time, Saturday! I don't want to know." In some ways, ignorance is bliss.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reporting Live from Bedrest in Denver...

First of all, I must comment on the crazy weather we're having here. Yesterday, it rained, it hailed, it was sunny for a while, and there were tornado warnings. Today, it has been raining but now it is changing over to snow. It is pouring snow right now! I think I heard that there could be 4" accumulation. Insane! We were here for 10 days in January/February and it was bright and sunny just about every day. We saw about 10 snowflakes in 10 days. Meanwhile, I hear it is sunny and supposed to be 86 in Atlanta today.

Enough about the weather. I think everything went great with the transfer yesterday. The day started with a call from the lab to confirm my "thaw plan." I learned that they were going to thaw numbers 1 and 17, which were both frozen on day 5. Their grades were 3AA and 5AA. I learned that after thawing, they would give them each a  % grade based on how much of each embryo was intact. Then, they would also grade the re-expansion, from slight to fully expanded. She said even if it was slight, there would be time for expansion between the thaw and the transfer. I think the thaw took place about 3 hours prior to transfer. I asked what would happen if something goes wrong -- would they call me back to talk about thawing a third one? She said yes, they would.

They didn't call, so that was my first sign that all was well.

Before going up to the CCRM surgery center, I had a blood draw to run the E2 and P4 (estrogen and progesterone). I was very curious about this because both had been low the last time they ran them. We also had our injection teach with our nurse. I suggested that DH actually do that shot under her supervision. It went fine. Thanks again to everyone for the tips and encouragement about that!

Everyone at CCRM's surgery center was so friendly and upbeat. I had acupuncture before and after the transfer. It is so nice that CCRM makes this really easy on patients who want to do this. They bring the acupuncturist in to CCRM so you have the same room the whole time you're there. (In Atlanta, I had to go to the acupuncturist's office before and after the transfer.) I was lucky because I got the same acupuncturist I had seen while I was here in January. And she's the one who spoke with my acupuncturist in Atlanta about electro-acupuncture treatments. She also gave me the strict "absolutely no caffeine and 64 ounces of water and 30 minutes of walking daily" regimen. It only seemed right for her to bring me across the finish line of this treatment cycle, acupuncturally speaking.

Snow update: "the lake is covered, the ground is covered, it's snowing more and more!!" This is an inside comment for one of my readers -- my dear friend S. who was my freshman roommate in college. I sat up one morning in bed, looked out the window and exclaimed the above. You probably had to be there, but that has become a catch phrase for 20 years now. In other words, there is snow everywhere. Sorry for the snow fixation, but I live in Atlanta, people!

Back to yesterday. You have to drink lots of water before an embryo transfer because it helps the sonographer find the uterus, the image of which the doctor uses to guide the placement of the embryos. A nice CCRM discovery is that they are very precise about how expanded your bladder should be. In Atlanta I had to drink more than 64 oz of water before the transfer. Here, I drank maybe 20-30 oz and they decided my bladder was too full, so they let me go to the restroom -- twice! They gave me a medium-sized cup and allowed me to fill it. What a relief!

The embryologist came in with a clipboard to report on the embryos. Get this: both of them survived 100%!

When it was time to bring the little guys in, they rolled them in in a high-tech IVF chamber, that according to this web site (from which you can buy your very own IVF chamber if you like), will protect the embryos from harmful room air and boost your chances of success. I never saw this chamber in Atlanta. One more reason why I love CCRM. I'm telling you, they have got it going on. In Atlanta, there's a door between the transfer room and the lab, so I'd like to believe that it was just a few steps that the embryologist walked with my embryos in the pipette, exposing them to who knows what, but you never know.

The coolest thing is that we got to see them magnified on the video monitor above the chamber.

Here are a few pictures . . .


Embryologist at work


The dish under the microscope


Numbers 1 and 17, moments before transfer
(one is just above center, the other is in bottom right-hand corner of screen)

Dr. Babycraft got me ready for the embryos, the sonographer was pushing on my abdomen to keep a good view of the uterus, and when it was time, the embryologist actually inserted the embryos and accompanying fluid into the catheter placed by Dr. B. This was different in Atlanta, too; the embryologist didn't get to do the honors. She handed the  pipette to the doctor who actually did the deed. I don't know that these differences really matter, but I surely like the idea of everyone having their own task and specialty. I'm sure such attention to detail plays into success rates.

At the risk of giving TMI... Dr. Babycraft had some trouble getting "access." After it was all said and done, he said, "Did you feel anything?" and I immediately said yes. And he said, "What did you feel?" I told him it was uncomfortable when he was putting the catheter in.  (It actually hurt at moments.) He nodded and said he had some difficulty. He asked if I was cramping and I said yes, a little bit. I said that has happened before -- that my cervix has been kind of twisty. He agreed. Strange -- I felt like I was assessing his performance and that he was not happy with himself that I felt something. Like he prides himself on people not feeling anything. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

He said I had two beautiful embryos. Everyone was saying that, and they were all so excited for us.

After my second acupuncture treatment, when she said goodbye and left the room, the last thing she said was, "Send me a baby picture!" and I immediately said, "Okay!" like it's a done deal.

I could write all day, since I'm confined to the bed until tomorrow morning and it's not even noon! However, I realize you do not have all day to read my blog, so I'll sign off for now.

Oh, one more thing. Progesterone was still low, so PIO shots are now daily, plus the three-a-day endometrin suppositories. DH is already a pro! We did today's shot a while ago and I literlly felt nothing. Yay!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back in Denver

DH and I agree it's a bit surreal to be back in Denver. We arrived tonight. I was sooo excited to get off of I-25 and ride past CCRM on the way to the hotel. DH waved to the embryos when we went by.

I am ready! I feel like I have been prepping for a big game and tomorrow is game day. I'm sort of like, "Bring it on!!"

I have some slight fear about something going wrong with the embryos when they thaw them, but I'm not going to let myself go there. I can't control any of what happens in the lab.

We have to be there at 11:45 a.m. tomorrow. Transfer is scheduled for 1:30 or 1:45. I'm doing acupuncture before and after.

I'm pretty tired -- it is 1:00 a.m. in Atlanta and I worked a full day before catching the flight here.

Before I sign off for the evening, I want to say a sincere thank you to everyone who's been reading and following me. Thanks for your interest, your well wishes, your prayers, your advice, your encouragement, and your friendship. I am so grateful for this community.

Good night!

P.S. PIO shot done at doctor's office yesterday was a breeze. No pain at all. Maybe I have tough buns! : )  Tomorrow DH learns how to give the shot.