Sunday, August 31, 2008

19w5d: Backtrack to 19w2d...Ultrasound Report

Actually the ultrasound was several days ago at 19w2d, but I'm finally posting now...

The most important news is that everything with the baby looks fine! Honestly, I think I was still anxious going into the appointment. In fact, I woke up at about 4:45 AM that morning, and I couldn't go back to sleep. Our appointment was at 7:30 AM, so it really was only about an hour early, but still... So I logged onto this website as well as Ovusoft and was thrilled to see that one of my IVF cycle buddies (Poppy at Forcing Seeds here on blogspot) got her first ever BFP from a FET cycle! Somehow this news felt like a good omen and made me feel a little bit more relaxed.

S and I had to drive in separate cars to the appointment as we both had to go to work afterwards. We met in the parking lot and headed into the Genetics and Fetal Diagnostics clinic area. We waited only about 5 minutes before we were called into the exam room. The ultrasound technician first asked us whether we both wanted to find out the gender today. We replied with a definitive "yes," so she got started right away and I was immediately relieved to see that Blueberry was there and moving around.

The exam itself was head-to-toe. Actually, first the technician looked at my cervix (4.0 cm, which she said was fine) and ovaries (one not easily visualized, one about 4 cm -- possibly still enlarged from IVF/OHSS.) She told us that the baby was in the breech position...not a concern at this point.

Next, she moved onto the head and brain, and spent a bit more time than I would have liked measuring the ventricles, etc. (Turned out it was fine, but it made me nervous.) I tried to kinda watch her face and attitude, and she seemed relaxed, so I tried to calm down and enjoy everything. She then looked at the palate and lips, abdomen, kidneys, cord insertion, etc.

Finally, she started looking a bit lower. I tried to figure out what I was seeing based on some of the internet pictures I've seen, but really... I had no idea.

She snapped a few pictures and said, "I see three lines." I understood what this meant immediately and looked over at S, who had no idea of the significance of those words. The technician then clarified: "You're having a baby girl!"

It was a big rush of emotion and I was surprised that I didn't start crying. (I certainly did at most of our previous ultrasounds.) I think that both of us were pretty surprised... maybe even stunned. I had thought for weeks that we were having a boy, and I think that some of that assuredness had rubbed off onto S. Not withstanding our surprise, we are thrilled!

The tech then moved onto look at the femur length, and then the ankles and feet. She then had me go to the bathroom to see if the baby might get into a more favorable position to looking at the heart anatomy. Before she started on that, she told us, "I am going to take a lot of pictures of the heart, and that doesn't mean that there is a problem. We are required to get a lot of detailed pictures." After that, she did a few 3-D images, but couldn't get a great face shot due to movement and the baby keeping her hands near her face. In fact, throughout the exam the tech kept commenting on how very active the baby was. We never did get a great view of the hands in the open position, but at one point she did seem to be pointing at something... I love these pics!

After this, the tech left the exam room to present her findings to the radiologist. After 5-10 minutes, the radiologist and tech returned to the room. The radiologist took one look at me, and said, "Oh, I think we've met before." I actually have no recollection of this, but later I figured out that he must be a resident and I've probably met him looking at a patient's chest CT or brain MRI or something like that. He said that everything looked fine but he wanted to get one more glance at the cord insertion and the kidneys. We did that, and he pronounced that everything looked fine. S and I both breathed a big sigh of relief! It looks like everything is OK!

Afterwards, S walked across the parking lot to my work building and we had breakfast in the little cafe there. Next, he came and saw my new office for the first time, and then headed off to work. At this point I spent a while phoning my mom, my friend K, and my dad and sister with the big news. I also told a few people around my workplace... A couple of them didn't actually know that I was pregnant, so that was kinda fun.

I also later spoke with my Grandpa. At age 93, he has 2 daughters (my mom and my aunt) and 2 granddaughters (me and my sister), but no male descendents. I thought he might be a little disappointed, but he was absolutely thrilled. I love my Grandpa!

I have a bit more to say, but it'll have to wait for later... :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I am still here!! Sorry for my long silence. After I returned from that conference I had to work as the inpatient attending for hematology/oncology consults at the VA hospital. That is a 7 day a week job, for 2 weeks straight. And of course I am still working this week, too, so I am currently on day 16 out of 19 in a row!! That is probably one of my longest stretches ever, but I have to admit that the weekends weren't too bad...I only went in for a few hours each day. Being the attending is a lot less busy than being the fellow, resident, or intern!! However, it comes with a different stress: that of being the final decision maker and the responsible party. I was lucky to be working with a responsible and attentive fellow, though, so I really can't complain at all.

Anyway, let's see... On August 13 (17w1d), I had a regular doctor's appointment and finally met "my" OB, Dr. K. I saw her once for a Pap smear... in 2006, I believe, and to be honest, I had completely forgotten what she looked like. I'm sure she didn't remember me, either. The appointment was really too quick for me to form much of an opinion of her. It was really just a "pee in a cup, blood pressure, weigh in, check baby heartbeat, any questions?" kind of appointment which lasted about 10 minutes total. She didn't even palpate my uterus! Oh well, she was nice enough, and I don't think she'll be doing the actual delivery anyway.

In other news, I still haven't felt any fetal movements, and I have been spending several minutes each day in intense concentration, trying to feel something, anything. My stomach is fairly active in general, and I haven't felt anything that strikes me as different than the usual digestive sensations. I have read about a lot of people on line who are feeling definite movement already (even first-time moms), but I'm trying not to stress about it. ("Anterior placenta!" is one of my mantras.) During the aforementioned 17w1d appointment, I mentioned it to Dr. K, and while she was listening to the heartbeat, there were several "thumps" that she said were fetal movements (and I felt nothing), so that was reassuring. Also, I am definitely expanding in the baby bump department, so I think that somebody must be growing in there! Suddenly I find myself up 8.6 lbs total. I feel like I am gaining too fast right now, so I probably need to watch out.

A couple of funny anecdotes from yesterday:
1) Most the time at work, I have been shielding my changing midsection with my white coat. Yesterday, however, I was wearing a very loose, maternity-ish (but not really) short sleeved sweater. I hadn't put on the coat yet when I walked into a morning conference. A little while later, one of the surgeons came up to me and said, "I didn't know that you were pregnant!" Well, I'm not sure whether she had the opportunity to confirm what she saw with someone else, or whether she was merely being observant, but she IF she made the observation on her own without confirmation, she may have been the first person brave enough to say anything to me! Yippee! On the other hand, my aunt saw me on Saturday in (non-maternity) running shorts and shirt and said, "Oh, I can't tell you're pregnant at ALL!" Ah well.

2) Also yesterday, I was seeing a particular breast cancer patient for the second time ever. I sat down and talked with her for a while, then stood to examine her. I think I might have gotten up awkwardly or something because she said, "Oh, are you OK??" I said, "Yes, I'm fine. Why do you ask?" She said, "I don't really know... you just look tired... maybe like you're pregnant or something..." I then confirmed her guess and then said, "It sounds like you're pretty intuitive about this stuff. Any guess about whether it's a boy or a girl?" She immediately reached out for my belly (through the white coat) and proclaimed "Boy!"

So, what gender is our baby? I'm at 19 weeks... we should know by now, right? Well, we have another 33+ hours to wait... our big ultrasound is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 AM. Honestly, S and I don't care. We just want a healthy baby. I will be absolutely thrilled either way. I have to say that I am guessing "boy" too, though. I don't really know why, but that's my guess based on a non-scientific observation about my complete lack of morning sickness. Apparently my mom and my aunt are guessing "boy," too. Another person recently guessed "Boy...because your arms and face are staying skinny," (not sure if I agree with that). On the other hand, one woman at my work has guessed, "Girl...because your face doesn't look drawn and tired like it would if you were carrying a boy." A four year old that I consulted said, "Boy" one week, but changed her mind to "girl" a few weeks later.

Pink or blue... either one will be incredibly loved. I just can't wait to see our little one again on Thursday morning!

A big joyous congrats to Hilary and D in Vancouver! ( 41 weeks, baby Maya is here! Yay for IVF success stories!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Backdated post from last Friday:

Now I’m in the airport, waiting for my plane to board to go back home. The conference was actually a very educational experience. It was aimed at helping the next generation of cancer clinical researchers develop their careers. Vail was beautiful, but we spent most of the time in the hotel because there lectures every morning (and sometimes into the afternoon) and there were huge assignments due almost every day. I am happy with the end product, though – a completed clinical trial protocol, ready for submission. First, though, I must see if the pharmaceutical company is interested in sponsoring it.

I did manage to sneak in 2 quick hikes, so at least I got a taste of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, almost every meal for the entire week was a giant (and pretty tasty) buffet, so I am going to be afraid to step on the scale tomorrow.

At this particular conference, almost everyone was married (or engaged, or had a long-term relationship) and a LOT of people either had young children, were pregnant, or (in the case of the men), their wives are pregnant. I happened to be roommates with a woman who is 36 and isn’t sure if she eve.r wants to have kids. She is pretty happy living with her husband and her dogs, she’s “afraid of being pregnant.” However, her husband wants kids, so she may need to make up her mind pretty soon. I told her all about IVF, etc, and she said that if she had problems, she would “never go through all of that.” I wonder what she will decide.

Last night we had a dinner/dance to wrap up the conference, and I was seated next to a woman who was exactly 5 days ahead of me in her pregnancy. I definitely looked chunkier than she did! It was interesting to talk to her for a while. She is a gynec.ological oncologist, so she specializes in endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, etc. She had to go through a general Gyn/Onc residency before starting her Gyn/Onc fell.owship. She said that while she is extremely excited about her own pregnancy and upcoming birth, she actually delivered so many babies during residency that she doesn’t care if she ever sees another birth (except her own). She said that after several hundred births, it became very routine and almost boring. My response was that I considered Ob/Gyn briefly during med school, but I quickly realized that I hated the surgical aspects and was only interested in the delivery itself. And for that, I don’t necessarily feel that a medical degree is necessary; women have been doing this for millions of years, so I am comfortable with the idea of midwives attending to many routine births.

In other news, I still haven’t felt any movement or anything like that. I know it’s still early (especially for a first baby and an anterior placenta), but I’m really looking forward to feeling something… even a hint.

My next doctor’s appointment is this upcoming Thursday. I hope that at that point, we’ll get to schedule the big ultrasound. I can’t wait!

But before that, I can’t wait to get home and see S! <3

Saturday, August 2, 2008

15w4d: On The Road Again...

I’m writing this message on an flight from San Diego to Denver (will get online and post it later, obviously). For the next week, I’ll be attending the ASCO/AACR Meth.ods in Clinical Cancer Research workshop in Vail, Colorado. S, unfortunately, is staying home to work, etc. There is almost no free time at this conference, so we didn’t think it would be worth it for him to come along. I hope we can do some small trips together sometime soon, though. On the other hand, I’m trying to save up any vacation time that I may earn for maternity leave. Did I just say that? Wow!!

In my last real entry, I mentioned my nervousness about telling my boss, Dr. P, about the pregnancy. After all, I just started this job on July 1st . (On the other hand, when I interviewed an got hired, I hadn’t started the IVF process yet, although I knew we were going to do it, and soon.) Anyway, last Friday (July 25th), I asked if I could meet with her for a few minutes after weekly conference. I said something like, “I know the timing is not optimal since I just started working here. I would have liked to have a baby last year during fellowship, but it didn’t work out that way.” I didn’t mention IVF, though, because it seems to make the timing a bit more deliberate on my part. I mean, it was deliberate, but we had no idea whether it was going to work on the first try, or whether it would take a year or more.

Well, I am happy to report that the conversation actually went very well! She even made some coments along the lines of “Well, we as a society need to find ways to make these situations work if we want to have women in the workplace.” Yay, Dr P!! She may try to see if Dr. C (who just retired) would return for a short stint, or she may divide up my patients among several people to distribute the load during that period. I told her that I would like to take a 3 month maternity leave. I don’t know if I will be paid for the entire thing, but we’ll deal with it either way. I also told her that I wanted to work up until the end, if possible (to use all of my time with the baby), and that there was no chance of me leaving the job entirely to be a stay-at-home mom. I could tell that she was definitely relieved to hear that! Considering that I had heard that a previous (also female) director had said, "Everyone needs to get sterilized," when someone announced their pregnancy a few years ago, I feel very lucky to have my boss's support.

In other news, I am definitely getting pudgier, mostly in the belly. I still wear “normal” clothes to work and its not obvious, but on weekends I am wearing flow-y shirts and a lot of people (who know about the pregnancy) are commenting that they can see a little something there! Last night we hung out with some friends with daughters aged 2 and 5, and the 5-year-old was hugging me and even gave my tummy a few kisses! It was very sweet. As of yesterday, I was up by 3 lbs total, but for some reason this morning I jumped to 5.6 lbs gained. I am fine with gaining, but I better not start gaining too quickly!!

I have read about a lot of you wearing Bella Bands, etc. I don’t need those at all, but I think it is due to my general shape. I carry weight mostly in my hips, butt, and thighs, so most of my pants have a lot of extra room in the waist. Thus, I am stil wearing my normal pants, although I haven’t tried my “tight jeans” since before IVF. It also happens that I own a lot of clothes that are 1-2 sizes up from the time period before I lost weight in 2003-2004. So…who knows, I may be able to wear ‘non-maternity’ pants for a long time still. I knew I kept those clothes for something! On the other hand, they may just look stupid through the butt area, so who knows.

Yesterday, I had to go to the OB/GYN’s office for my AFP blood test. It is usually done duirng week 16, but in my case I will be away (or it will be the weekend) until 16w6d, so they told me that it was OK to get it drawn at 15w3d. Plus, I figured that maybe the results will be back in time for my next OB appointment (August 14th). Anyway, the appointment yesterday was a “nurses’ visit” in which the nurse merely filled out paperwork for the blood test (confirming my due date, smoking status, that it is a singleton pregnancy, etc). Yesterday morning (before the appointment), it suddenly occurred to me that since I would be right there in the office, maybe I could ask them to check the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler… Well, my sneaky plan worked perfectly!! I went into an exam room with the nurse to fill out the paperwork, and the handheld Doppler was sitting right there on the desk. So I was able to casually say, "Oooh, any chance that I could hear the baby's heartbeat today??" She sounded a little unsure, but she asked another nurse if we could, and that one said that we could go ahead, and that she would help out. Nurse #2 said that she usually works with women in their 3rd trimester, so she would need a minute or two to find the heartbeat. At first we heard a slower heart beat (mine, I guess) that she said was coming from the placenta. She then moved around a bit until we heard the baby’s heartbeat. It was pretty muffled, (due to the positioning, I think), but it was there. So now I have a fresh the-baby-is-still-OK fix that has to last until my next appointment!

I still haven’t felt any movements, but I’m guessing that it will still be 4-6 more weeks until I do. Well, my plane is now about to land, so I gotta go! I hope you all are doing well.