Tuesday, November 27, 2012

8 weeks pregnant!

Today I'm officially 8 weeks pregnant!  So I thought I would start doing a little questionnaire every week:

  1. How far along?: 8 Weeks
  2. How big is baby?: Your baby is now a little more than ½ inch long, the size of a raspberry!

    This week, your little tadpole is starting to look a little bit more human. Other exciting developments include:
    Your baby's eyelids, ears, upper lip and the tip of his soon-to-be adorable button nose are forming.

    Junior will also sprout webbed fingers and toes this week—which you'll be well aware of in a few months, as baby starts early gymnastics classes inside you.

    Baby's tiny heart has separated into four distinct chambers and is really ticking now—at a rate of 150 beats per minute. That's more than twice your resting heart rate (even when Brad Pitt is on the screen).
  3. Any appointments or updates this week?: I had my first appointment at the OB/GYN's office on Monday.  I just went over paperwork and my medical history with the nurse and then she sent me for bloodwork and I scheduled my next appointment for December 18th...it feels so far away!
  4. Body changes?  Sore boobs, bloated and very tired!  This morning I felt like I was hit by a Mac truck.
  5. Maternity clothes?: I already have a pair of black maternity dress pants, I bought them because they were on sale on Target.com.  I haven't worn them quite yet but my clothes are starting to feel tighter.
  6. Best moment last week?: Announcing our news to the family
  7. Food cravings?: I haven't had any lately
  8. Symptoms?: Very tired and sometimes nauseous.  I'm also finding food either super appealing or nauseating, there is no in between right now.
  9. Exercise?: Last weekend Art and I went for a walk outside and I did a yoga class.  It felt great!
  10. What I miss?: Coffee in the morning but I don't even really want it right now.
  11. What I'm looking forward to?: My next appointment and getting out of the first trimester
  12. Different this time: I definitely feel much more nauseous than last time around.  Also, we have already seen the healthy baby with heartbeat...that is a huge difference.
This is what our baby looks like at 8 weeks (it's kind of weird right now...but later on this will be really cool!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Telling Our Family

One of the most fun and exciting parts of pregnancy is getting to tell everyone and seeing their faces light up in excitement and joy for you.  Due to the long journey that we have been on to get pregnant for a second time, we decided to tell our immediate family the same day that we found out that we were pregnant.  It was a really big day, because that day we also put in a contract on a new home!  So we called and said "Guess what?  We're buying a house...and having a baby!"

I wanted to wait a little longer before telling my extended family.  Originally I thought it would be so cute to tell them on Christmas morning and I would be near the end of my first trimester by then.  But after seeing the heartbeat on Monday I changed my mind and decided to tell them on Thanksgiving.  I was too excited to keep the secret any longer.

I looked online for a cute idea for how to announce the good news to them.  Some of the things I found were down right gross!  Finally I decided the way I would do it. We waited until my grandparents were getting ready to leave and then insisted on a family picture, which wasn't too hard since that has always been a big tradition in my family.  We all stood outside of my aunt's house and took a couple of pictures and then I yelled out "Ok a fun one!  Everyone say Erin's pregnant!"

Their reaction was awesome, they all went from confused to shocked to ecstatic for us.  It was amazing.  Plus my uncle's mom was snapping pictures the whole time so I have a few really good ones (I had wanted to video tape it but nobody that could take the picture was in on the secret).  It was a great moment for our family and they're so happy for us.  I have the sweetest picture of me and my grandma; we are both smiling through our tears!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our First Ultrasound

Our first ultrasound was on Monday, November 19th and I was so nervous!  The last time I was pregnant and had an ultrasound was with Elijah and that's when we found out that he didn't make it.  This time I just kept praying that things would be different.  I was okay until I was waiting in the exam room, then I just started freaking out.  What if something was wrong with this baby too?

Luckily Dr. Jaffe came in and performed the ultrasound and the first thing we saw was the heart monitor and we could actually hear our baby's heartbeat!  It was incredible and so overwhelming.  The little heart was already beating at 152 beats per minute.  What a miracle!

Next, she switched something on the machine and we got to see our little Sweet Pea (our nickname for the baby).  She took the baby's measurements and told us that he/she was measuring at 1cm right now.  So small for already having a heartbeat!

                                            Sweet Pea's first picture

After the ultrasound the nurse gave us a goody bag of parenting magazines and a cute teddy bear...we were officially "graduating" from the RE's office!  It was such a good feeling and I was so touched that all of the office staff smiled at us and congratulated us on the way out, including telling us "I told you it was going to happen!" and "Make sure to send us baby pictures!"

Our First Medicated Cycle = BFP!

After the surgery we were instructed to wait one cycle until we started trying again.  It felt like forever, but Dr. Jaffe already had the plan set up for our first medicated cycle.  A medicated cycle is when a woman takes fertility drugs (such as Clomid or Femara) to help the cycle behave as it should (in my case, help me ovulate earlier).  My protocol was to take Femara for 5 days and then take an injection of the medication Ovidrel to help ensure that my body really would ovulate.  Ovidrel is actually a synthetic version of the human hormone hcg, the pregnancy hormone.

During the cycle I was monitored, which means that before I started the Femara I was checked to make sure I didn't have any cysts or other problems.  Everything looked clear so I started the Femara.  After the 5 days I came back for another check and the tech counted the follicles that my ovaries were producing.  She measured several good sized follicles, which meant that I was responding well to the medication.  I was told to wait 48 hours and then take the Ovidrel shot.

Art gave me the shot in my belly on Saturday and then we waited the long, dreaded two week wait to find out if everything had worked.  I was so impatient though that I didn't wait the whole two weeks and tested just 12 days after ovulation.  Miraculously, on October 25th 2012 I saw that beautiful second line on the pregnancy test.  I was completely overwhelmed.

It was pretty early in the morning and so I ran over to Art who was still sleeping and woke him up saying "Guess what?!  I think we're pregnant!"  It was a scary feeling because I wasn't even sure if I should believe the test, but we were so excited.  I went in for a blood test at the RE's office to confirm that I was really pregnant.  They called back and gave me the beta hcg number: it was only 16.5.  However, once they realized that I was just really early in coming in they said I was probably fine and to come back in 72 hours.  My next beta number was 40.  Still low but at least the number was doubling, which is what they want to see.  I had one more beta two days later that came back at 128!  Everything was on track and I really was pregnant!


On August 28th, Art and I went to the hospital where I was going to have my surgery.  After getting prepped with an IV and hospital gown, I met the nurse, anesthesiologist, and Dr. Jaffe.  I was so anxious to get everything over with.  I was honestly scared to death.  The waiting for everything to get started was the worst part.  Once I received the drugs in my IV it was lights out!  I don't remember a thing about what happened until hours later when I woke up in recovery.  Dr. Jaffe had successfully removed my septum via laparoscopy.  I had three tiny incisions in my stomach and my belly was bloated with gas that they use to be able to operate and see everything inside.  I would find out later that Dr. Jaffe also successfully removed a large cyst on one of my ovaries and stage 3 endometriosis.

Recovery from the surgery was definitely no walk in the park.  Luckily I had Art by my side for the first 24 hours to order in Toojay's soup for me (I had to eat only bland foods while my stomach was still "waking up" from surgery) plus help me get around a little and stay entertained.  The surgery was on a Tuesday and I took the rest of the week off from work to let my body fully recover.  I found that even my mind felt fuzzy from all the medication and anesthesia.  But luckily after that week I started feeling more like myself again.

Our Appointment with the RE

I stressed out for weeks waiting for the first visit with our RE, Dr. Jaffe.  I heard that she was one of the best and I couldn't wait to find out what the septate uterus thing meant for me and if that was really why we weren't getting pregnant.

Our consultation was very thorough and took several hours.  We both gave our medical histories and talked to Dr. Jaffe about everything we had gone through.  She listened and then gave us her advice: she explained that a septate uterus means that I had a piece of tissue running down the middle of my uterus that didn't have blood flow, and so didn't support any life.  This was a condition that I had developed in the womb.  It could have also been the cause of my previous miscarriage, if the baby had implanted on the septum he wouldn't be able to survive.   She did an ultrasound of my uterus next to confirm that what I had was a septum and not a different condition and after that we talked about my options.  Art and I decided to go for the more aggressive approach, which was a laparoscopic hysteroscopy.  This was definitely scary for both of us; I had never had surgery before and didn't know what to expect.  But we felt this was our best option for being able to get pregnant so we scheduled the surgery for August 28, 2012.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Taking the Next Step

In June 2012 I contacted my doctor to find out if we could come in and discuss our situation.  It had been less than a year (the standard length of time that is usually required for a couple under 35 to try to conceive before seeking out infertility options)  but including our first pregnancy and loss we were at a year, and I couldn't wait any more.  My doctor sent me for an HSG (hysterosalpinogram) test to determine if one of my fallopian tubes may have been blocked.

The HSG test was done at a fertility clinic by an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist), which is a doctor who specializes in getting women pregnant.  The test itself consists of having an x-ray taken of your uterus while contrast dye is inserted to get a good look at your uterus and fallopian tubes.  My experience was excrutiating pain during the test, but luckily it was over quickly.  The doctor was only supposed to do the test and then send the results to my regular OB to give me the diagnosis, but she told me during the test that it looked like I had a septate uterus.  What did this mean?  I had no clue.  I left the doctor's office in a whirlwind of pain and confusion over this news.  The worst part was that my OB's office couldn't schedule me to come in for several weeks, so I really had no idea what to do next.  After doing some research online, I decided to skip going back to the OB's and called the RE's office and set up a consultation.

Trying To Conceive After Loss

Grief is a process, and I've heard that it is not uncommon to look at time differently after losing someone that you love.  You start to think of things in terms of "before loss" and "after loss".  After our loss, in August 2011 we re-started our trying to conceive journey, this time trying to conceive after loss.  Luckily, early on in this journey I was blessed to find a wonderful, supportive online community of fellow loss moms who were also trying to conceive again.  I can honestly say that those women helped get me through so many difficult times and kept things in perspective for me.

I faithfully charted my basal body temperature every morning as well as other body signs and recorded all of them daily to determine when my fertile time was.  We timed everything well month after month, but every month I got my hopes up only to have them crushed.  For the first few months I tried to keep a positive attitude; after all, we were just lucky to get pregnant on the first month the first time around.  But with every month that passed I felt more and more depressed.  Why couldn't this happen for us?  Why wasn't God letting us get pregnant?  I dreaded hearing about other women's good news because while I was happy for them, I was just so sad for us.  I was sad for the fact that we didn't have Elijah in our lives and sad about the fact that I couldn't get pregnant again.

The Beginning

The Story of Us
This is the story of me (Erin) and my husband Art and our journey to start a family.  We are two twenty-somethings who met at the University of Florida and fell in love.  After graduation we got married in July 2007 and settled down to start our new lives together.

Elijah's Story
Initially we told our families not to even ask about grandkids until at least five years after we got married, but in April 2011 we decided that we were ready to grow our family.  On May 12, 2011 I couldn't believe my eyes: I was staring at a positive pregnancy test!  We were very blessed to conceive right away and we were so excited to be having a baby!  Sadly, at our first ultrasound appointment the doctor told us that the baby was measuring 7 weeks although I should have been 10 weeks pregnant.  He told us that most likely we were having a missed miscarriage, which is when the baby stops developing but the mother's body does not recognize what has happened.  We were devastated to get this terrible news.  We went back for a confirmation ultrasound on June 15th just to be sure that the baby definitely was not growing and unfortunately nothing had progressed.  Since my body wasn't dealing with the miscarriage on it's own, I was given misoprostol to help the process.  The physical pain was difficult but the emotional pain was overwhelming.  Art and I both struggled with wondering if our baby was in Heaven, and I particularly questioned why God would let this happen to us.  We named our first baby Elijah, which means "my God is the Lord".  Although this trial tested our faith and our marriage at times, I learned to rely on my amazing friends and family, as well as many Bible verses which talk about God's power to redeem suffering and the way that he blesses those who suffer.