Update – 41 Weeks 6 Days

This will be another “all about me” post about where I’m at with this pregnancy.

Last Friday (4 days ago), I went for a biophysical profile to make sure that the baby was still thriving and could stay in longer. The test is a fancy name for an ultrasound where they monitor the baby and conditions in your uterus to make sure that everything is functioning as it should. If not, I would have gone to the hospital to be induced that day.

As is apparent from the title of this post, everything looked good. As in really good. As in making me think that the baby was way to comfortable in there to consider coming out any time soon.

One of the things they look for in the biophysical profile is how the baby’s moving. I had to eat something sweet 15 minutes before the ultrasound in order to get him moving (tough assignment, I know). We were running a little late, so while we were waiting for the coffee shop next door to get my hot chocolate ready, I drank half an orange juice to kick things off. I managed to get the hot chocolate down before the ultrasound too, and in no time at all, the baby was bouncing around inside me.

Sure enough throughout the ultrasound, the tech kept commenting on how active the baby was. She also told us that based on the level of activity, she didn’t see him coming in the next few days since babies usually quiet down a few days before delivery. The other thing she commented on was that the level of amniotic fluid was still very good, and in fact did not look at all like I was overdue. Overall, we passed all the tests with flying colours.

Based on how everything went, my husband and I took the opportunity to enjoy “one last weekend” (knowing that unlike the last two weekends, this was really going to be it), and got in dinner, a movie, and our third Blue Jays game in six days.

Over the past week, I’ve also done a lot of walking, based on my Dr.’s recommendation to get things moving on the labour front (while going for 6km, 10km, and 5km walks in the last 5 days tired me out, it apparently did nothing for my cervix).

This morning was my last OB appointment as a pregnant woman. Even though I’ve been overdue for a while now, I still can’t believe that this baby will be here now in a matter of days!

In a nutshell, the Dr. said we are “at the end of the line” and it’s time to have the baby. He checked my cervix to see how I was going to get induced, and nothing much was happening on that front. My cervix is still long, it’s not soft, and I’m not dilated at all. So, the first step in the induction process will be to insert a gel that should soften my cervix and then we’ll go from there.

At this point, I just sit and wait for the hospital to call. Apparently they are very busy today, so it likely won’t be today, but I should expect a call sometime tomorrow to come in and start the induction process.

I can’t believe how close I am now! This is really it.

Update – 40 weeks 6 days

I have been suffering from writer’s block the last few weeks. I’ve started two separate posts about some thoughts I have about labour, and the transition from infertile to pregnant infertile to parent, but in both cases they are sitting as unfinished drafts.

I am 40 weeks 6 days today, so instead of waiting for inspiration which may not come before baby arrives, I thought I would check in with a “what’s been up with me” post which is more informational and therefore easier to write than a post that tries to provide insight on an issue. This one’s all about me!

Third Trimester Activities

Since I last wrote, I’ve enjoyed some late pregnancy rites of passage. I was fortunate to have two baby showers – one was an afternoon tea at a chocolate shop planned by my friends, and one was a “surprise” (we ended up knowing in advance) family shower planned by my mom. Both were wonderful experiences, and I will treasure the memories for a long time.

A week after my first shower, I splurged on a maternity photo shoot. When I first raised the subject with my husband, I was not sure how he would react. I was worried he wouldn’t see the point and would say it’s a waste of money and try to talk me out of it. Instead, even though I could tell he didn’t completely understand how much it meant to me, he was very supportive. He said we’d worked hard for this pregnancy, and he knows how much I’ve enjoyed being pregnant so if I wanted this extra documentation, I should go for it.

The shoot was a lot of fun. The photographer (who was also pregnant, just a few weeks ahead of me) was pretty hands off, so everything felt very natural. I remember wedding photographers and other professionals being a lot more involved in planning the shot, making me turn one way or another, tilt my head a certain way, or gaze at a specific point in order to get the (very unnatural feeling, but perfect) shot.

This was different though – she would tell us how to stand or lie, and then she just snapped away. Not being the most photogenic person, I was worried that this would result in a lot of bad pictures, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The shoot took a few hours, and in addition to feeling pampered and beautiful the whole time, it was also a wonderful way to focus on being pregnant and connecting with my baby.

I worked until May 31st, which was 39 weeks for me. Originally, my contract was supposed to end on April 30th, however as April 30th approached I couldn’t imagine finishing up at that point only to sit at home for 6 weeks plus waiting for baby to arrive.

Working the extra month was definitely the right decision for me. I felt good until the very last week when I was feeling pretty tired and looking forward to being off.  I was also happy to make the extra money from working another month. And my department threw a surprise shower for me a week before I left! This one was actually a surprise. I had no idea what was going on until my hand was on the board room doorknob and I started having suspicions about the “meeting” I’d been asked to attend.

The Due Date and Beyond

Over the last month or so, I have been reading and re-reading my pregnancy books and notes from our pre-natal classes for signs that labour is imminent, and to prepare myself for what it is going to feel like. I’ve also had friends checking in regularly to see if anything is happening yet, and sharing their experiences of pre-labour.

Up until my due date, I did not feel like anything at all was happening. I felt the same as I had all month, just more. More tired, more achey, more frequent peeing. I was not feeling any new sensations like pressure in my pelvis, or contractions, so was not surprised at my OB appointment last week at 40 weeks 1 day when my Dr. checked my cervix and said that nothing was happening yet. He also confirmed my suspicions that the baby had started his descent but had not yet dropped. Based on this information, he estimated it would be another week or so and gave baby a new ETA of June 17th.

Last night, I was feeling some activity in my pelvic region, including some painful cramping, so I was wondering if things were going to be kicking off soon. However, today I feel the same as always, and baby is not any lower. I have an OB appointment tomorrow, so I’ll get the scoop on what the plan is if baby does not arrive by Sunday.

Overall, I haven’t felt anxious about still being pregnant, and have enjoyed the extra time to get things done, have some me-time, and fit in a few more social activities.

Moving Beyond Pregnancy

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started preparing myself for life after pregnancy. Aside from becoming a parent and having a baby to take care of (which I could write entire posts about), there are the other peripheral things that are going to be changing very soon.

I have started washing and putting away some of my maternity clothes that I know I will not be wearing in the next two weeks (mostly work clothes and sweaters), and have already contacted some pregnant friends about whether they want to borrow anything from me. Last week, I also went to buy some nursing tops to supplement my post-baby wardrobe. I was disappointed to find that there was limited selection, and what there was didn’t seem particularly attractive. I kept being drawn to the cute maternity outfits, but had to hold off and tell myself I am past that stage now.

While I have not missed alcohol and the forbidden pregnancy foods while pregnant, now that the restrictions will be coming off (or at least relaxed) in the next few weeks, I am looking forward to enjoying what I’ve missed. I am planning a raw sushi/sashimi meal shortly after birth, and have started thinking about what sort of fruity cocktail will be my summer evening treat.

In addition to the pre-natal classes, which focused on labour and breastfeeding, my husband and I took a baby care class. It was only 3 hours, but was crammed full of information, much of it new to us. A coworker had given me her copy of “What to Expect in the First Year”, and last week I went out and bought several books about caring for a baby, which I’ve started reading.

I admit I’ve also been a little nervous about how I’m going to feel about my body once this baby comes out. I have really liked how I look pregnant (I’m sure this is in large part due to having bump envy while dealing with infertility), and I can honestly say I can’t think of a time that I felt more attractive (in the moment  – of course you always look back on pictures when younger/thinner and realize how good you look, but at the time you don’t appreciate it). While it’s a small thing overall, I am nervous about how the transition to post-pregnancy pooch and leaky breasts in non-underwire bras is going to feel.

Since this post is twice as long as my target length, and I’m off to see a Blue Jays game, I’ll end it here. Hoping to write more in the next few days!

Is Pregnancy Really that Bad?

It’s been interesting for me to note the changes in my body, and my mood as I progress through this pregnancy. I am now in the third trimester, and at 29 weeks have only 25% of the pregnancy left (give or take of course).

Every trimester and up to a point, every week is slightly different, but for me (as for many women who struggled with infertility before getting pregnant), the most important milestones and indicators of whether this pregnancy is going well or not have been tied to how well the baby seems to be doing. Reassuring ultrasounds, encouraging test results, and reaching that magic viability date of 24 weeks have all meant a lot more than how I may be feeling on a given day.

While it’s somethng I’ve noticed since we first started telling people about the pregnancy, it seems like in the last week I can’t escape the message that pregnancy is some horrible ordeal that must be endured and suffered through, rather than a miracle to be cherished and appreciated.

On Sunday, I started a new pre natal yoga class. The class is an hour and half long, but the first half hour or so is devoted to a talk on a pregnancy related topic such as preparing for labour, or proper nutrition while pregnant. However, this Sunday the instructor told us she was getting over a cold and since her voice was in rough shape, she’d turn the floor over to us for a discussion.

The chosen topic of discussion? Pregnancy complaints. So, for the next half hour, I got to listen to the other women discussing their aches and pains and all of the ways that their bodies have suffered over the course of their pregnancies.

Then, two days later, as I approached 29 weeks, I went online to read about what’s happening with me and baby at this particular point in time. Since I don’t think I could do justice to what I read by simply describing it, below is a direct quote from the first website I went to describing what being 29 weeks pregnant is like:

“Let’s get right to the point: You’re a bloated, water-retaining mess. Chances are good you can’t get your sneakers on or your wedding ring off, so get comfy in your slippers. Your pants don’t fit. Your shirts don’t fit. And now, thanks to the swelling in your feet, your shoes don’t fit. You can thank a wonderful thing called edema for that. Go edema!”

Seriously?? I was shocked to read about what a horrible state I was in. I really didn’t think things were so bad. I felt my feet, and my shoes seemed to fit fine. I checked to see if my fingers were swollen, and was easily able to slide my rings off. And as to clothes fitting? Like the vast majority of women, by the third trimester I’d been wearing nothing but maternity clothes for several months. So while I did feel like I’d gotten a lot bigger over the last few weeks, my clothes were made to accomodate that, and felt as comfortable as always.

I realize that pregnancy results in a lot of changes to a woman’s body, not all of which are pleasant. And I realize that for some women, these changes and side effects are more severe and can be extremely uncomfortable, and even prevent them from functioning normally on a day to day basis. I am by no means trying to minimize the very real physical symptoms that prevent many women from enjoying their pregnancies.

My issue is that lately it seems that everywhere I turn, everything I read and hear seems to be telling me I should be miserable, when in fact I’ve probably never been happier. Yes, I’ve been lucky that the pregnancy symptoms I’ve had have been mild in comparison to what some people go through, but I know I’m not the only woman out there to have a positive pregnancy experience. And yet, the focus everywhere sems to be on the negative.

I even see this in my day to day interactions. People are constantly asking me how I’m feeling, and even before I answer, sympathizing that I must be feeling so uncomfortable due to [fill in the blanks with the malady du jour]. After a while, I felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t have some unpleasant story to share, so it got to the point where I was actually relieved to be able to share that in the last few weeks my back and hips have been feeling really sore.This seemed to satisfy them more than my earlier answer that everything was great.

Crazy, yes? But par for the course apparently.

Documenting the Pregnancy Experience

Last month, I started writing in a pregnancy journal that my mom got me for Christmas, in order to document more of the details of this pregnancy. At first, the idea of a pregnancy journal terrified me. As I have written elsewhere on this blog, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 11 weeks. As expected, this experience (in addition to 3+ years of infertility) changed my expectations for and experience of pregnancy forever.

In dealing with the aftermath of the miscarriage, I spent a lot of time with a friend who’d lost a pregnancy at 20 weeks about a month before I got pregnant, sharing our grief and trying to heal. I remember very clearly being with her about a week before her expected due date, and talking about whether she was going to do anything special that day. It turns out she had a small ritual planned, where she would open her box of mementoes of the pregnancy/baby and spend some time with these objects. The box included ultrasound photos, plaster impressions of her tiny baby’s feet, and a belly book.

I hadn’t heard of a belly book before, so she explained that it was similar to a pregnancy journal, and that it was where she had documented her pregnancy through weekly pictures of her belly. Upon hearing this, I still remember the two very strong emotions I felt. First off, I felt incredibly sad for her that she had this tangible reminder of the joy and expectations that she and her husband had for the lost pregnancy, and how difficult it would be to look through the book and contrast her grief against the memory of how she had felt while the pictures were being taken.

The second strong emotion I felt was relief for myself that I did not have a belly book, pregnancy journal, or any similar chronicle of my ill-fated pregnancy. The only remotely comparable thing we’d had was pictures of the pregnancy pee stick showing those two magical lines, which I deleted from my computer several weeks after the miscarriage because I couldn’t face accidentally flipping to them. The lack of a belly book or pregnancy journal was purely a fluke – it is totally the sort of thing I would have gotten if I’d been in the baby and pregnancy section of the bookstore at the right time.

When I got pregnant this time around, even though I was comfortable buying small baby things fairly early in the pregnancy (as I was able to tell myself they were for my eventual baby, whether it be this one or another one), I couldn’t bring myself to get a pregnancy journal or belly book, which would be so intimately tied to this pregnancy and baby.

However, when we told my mom about the pregnancy, one of the first questions she asked was whether I was keeping a pregnancy journal, and after I said no, she highly recommended I do. So, it was no surprise when I got one under the Christmas tree from her, but it still took me a few weeks before I was able to get over my fear and actually write in it.

Since then, I have written 3 posts with details of how our appointments went, or what new milestones we’re experiencing. I write when I’m in bed, just before going to sleep, while feeling the baby moving around inside.

In one sense, the journal is more about facts than this blog – a detailed explanation of how the anatomy scan went, a documentation of my weight and baby’s heartbeat, and other such factual details which I want to remember, but don’t feel quite comfortable boring my blog readers with.

However, one of the surprising things I’ve really enjoyed about the journal is that it is also much more personal than this blog. While the blog is primarily about my feelings and experiences, my journal entries are written to my baby, and focus on him. I honestly don’t know if he’ll ever read them (I think the fact that he’s a boy and not a girl makes it less likely that he’d ever be interested), but as I write”you” instead of “the baby”, and “daddy” instead of “my husband”, without fail tears of joy come to my eyes and I feel an uncontrollable outpouring of love and an intense connection to the miracle growing inside me.

23 Weeks 3 Days and All is Good!

I won’t even bother making excuses! I think I just need to resign myself to the fact that I will be writing a new blog post every month instead of every few days, and just go with it, so here goes…

Even though I am now more than halfway through this pregnancy, the reality of being pregnant still fills me with wonder. Every morning when I wake up, one of the first thoughts I have is how far along I am that day, and the comfort that this knowledge brings me. Wednesdays are extra special, as that is when my pregnancy enters a new week, which means my fruit based pregnancy ticker (which is attached to my signature on one of the infertility forums I post on) bears me a new fruit. These little rituals help me believe that this is happening for real, and that sooner rather than later we will be blessed with meeting our baby boy.

Along with counting down the days, I am loving the experience of being pregnant. Every night before I go to bed, I stand in front of the full length mirror in my bedroom and relish the curves of my naked body, staring in wonder at my growing belly and changing breasts. Throughout the day, when I walk by a mirror I sneak glances at my silhouette, and when I am washing up in the bathroom at work (assuming nobody else is around), I smooth down my top so I can get a better view of my belly.

Since I last wrote, we have had our anatomy scan, and two OB appointments, and everything continues to be progressing perfectly! Our risk of Downs based on the triple screen testing was determined to be extremely low at 1 in 20,000 (compared to the 1 in 200 or so that is statistically expected for a woman my age), the anatomy scan did not reveal any red flags, baby’s heartbeat is strong, and my weight gain is on track. I really could not have asked for a smoother pregnancy. With each new milestone and piece of good news, I say a silent “thank-you” to my baby for his part in making everything so perfect.

A Telling Experience

Hello, poor neglected blog! I have had two posts that I started sitting in draft for several weeks now. I don’t really have an excuse (well, a weeks of Christmas busy-ness comes to mind, but other than that, no excuse!). I do have some time today to try to catch up a bit, so here goes.

Once we moved from the first to the second trimester, my husband and I turned to the crucial question of who to tell about the pregnancy, and when. Up until 12 weeks, the only people who knew about the pregnancy were: our fertility clinic in Toronto; our fertility clinic in our old city; my acupuncturist in Toronto; and my acupuncturist in our old city. And that’s it. No family. No friends. Nobody else.

I was pretty sure a few people had guessed (based primarily on my lack of drinking), but we hadn’t admitted to anything.

We had decided a long time ago that we wouldn’t be posting a splashy announcement on facebook (that will have to wait until the baby is born!), nor would we be sending out a mass email to all of our contacts announcing the news. Yes, someone my husband used to work with sent the following email a few years ago: “[Wife] is preggers!!”. Not for us.

Our original plan was to tell our families at Christmas time, which would coincide with the 17 week mark of the pregnancy. My husband actually wanted to wait even longer, until our anatomy scan at 18 to 20 weeks, but I didn’t think I could hold out that long.

Our first OB appointment after being released from the fertility clinic was at 13 weeks 5 days. Unfortunately, it was rescheduled last minute, and my husband was unable to go to the new appointment time, so it looked like I was going on my own. However, my mom and step dad were coming to our house for lunch the day before the appointment, and in the end we decided that if we told them the news that day, then my mom could come to the appointment with me (the OB and hospital are actually right across the street from her house, so even if she couldn’t come along, I would have wanted to park in her driveway).

So, that’s how it started! The following weekend we told my husband’s parents and my dad and step mom, and then started sharing the news with friends as we saw them/spoke with them.

Sharing the news has been wonderful. It’s a relief to finally be able to tell people about the pregnancy, instead of pretending there’s nothing new with us, and it’s great how excited everyone is for us. Nobody knows the full details of our infertility struggle, but most people we’ve told know we’d been trying for a while, and some know about our miscarriage and/or fertility treatments. So they understand on some level that this pregnancy did not come easy.

Wonderful as it has been, sharing the news has also been scary. With each new person we tell, the pregnancy feels more real. The more we talk about it, the more excited we get. However, facing the reality of the pregnancy also forces us to confront the fears that we’ve tried to suppress that there’s still so many things that can go wrong. I have another post started (which hopefully I’ll finish soon) which delves more into that side of things, so stay tuned.

It’s a….Boy!

As I wrote in my last post, the most amazing thing happened at my 12 week 1 day ultrasound – while I did not get to hear the baby’s heartbeat, I found out that we were having a boy! I had read in my pregnancy books that by week 11, the baby’s sex organs would be differentiated enough that in theory it was possible to know the baby’s sex. But none of the books had even hinted that the ultrasound technology was sophisticated enough to pick up on this. Rather, the books make sinister references such as “if you could see your baby outside the womb, you would be able to see the sex”.

I know people who wait until the baby is born to find out the sex, but my husband and I are not those people. We are both planners, and I (I’ll speak for myself) am impatient, so we both wanted to know as soon as possible. Up to this point, we had referred to the baby as MB (i.e. embie). However, while we spoke of MB in the masculine, we did not actually expect that MB was really a boy.

While we were keeping an open mind, both of us were gearing ourselves up for a girl. My husband had even recently started saying things like “When MB is born, she’ll like….”. Our reasons for expecting a girl were at once completely rational, and entirely baseless:

First off, we had the perfect name (first and middle) picked out. Both of us loved it! It was beautiful, simple, and not too common. Since we weren’t having much luck agreeing on any boy names, we figured it had to be a girl.

Also, after experiencing our friends’ little kids, my husband had decided that girls seemed easier. The little boys were constantly on the move, dismantling everything in sight, while the girls sat quietly and played with their toys. So, my husband had decided that we would have a girl.

I had a similar bias, but for different reasons. Anytime I pictured how I would decorate the nursery, it was always very girly – lilac walls, a flowery chandelier, etc. And the little girl clothes were beyond adorable!

So, when I called my husband after finding out the sex and had him guess what it was, it’s no surprise that he guessed it was a girl.

“Guess again!” I said. And with the same sense of wonder that I had felt, he said “It’s a boy!”.

With this new knowledge, both of us saw a shift in our attitudes towards the pregnancy. Up to that point, we had been taking it day by day, or at most, week by week. We celebrated each new milestone and looked ahead to what was next, but weren’t very good at thinking long term. We had talked a bit about how things were going to change once the baby came, but it hadn’t really felt real that an actual baby was going to be the outcome of what we were currently going through.

However, now that we knew it was a boy, we started talking about what our son would be like – things like would he take after his father, what sorts of father/son activities my husband would do with him, and how to raise a little boy. A lot of this conversation was driven by the need to reframe our expectations from a fuzzy likely-girl, to an actual, real boy. Both of us had to purge our little girl thoughts and replace them with little boy thoughts.

However, regardless of the motivation for these talks, the end result was what mattered: the process got us that much closer to believing that everything was going to turn out okay, and the possibility of a baby became that much more real.

Catching Up – the NT Scan

Here I am again with a backlog of posts to write! A lot has happened over the last month (? – or however long it’s been since I wrote, I didn’t even check the last date I wrote). We leave for vacation on the 17th, but I should have some time between now and then to write a few more posts and attempt to catch up.

The first significant event I have to write about is our NT (nuchal translucency) scan. This is an ultrasound done between 11 and 13 weeks, which measures the thickness at the back of the baby’s neck to assess the risk of Downs Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Mine was scheduled for 12 weeks 1 day, and unfortunately my husband was not able to join me due to work commitments.

I had heard that it may be possible to hear the heartbeat around 12 weeks (so far we’d just seen it), so I was really hoping to have that opportunity.

Usually, with my husband there, I would watch his face, and his big smile while the ultrasound tech was doing her thing, to reassure myself that everything was okay. Since he wasn’t with me this time, I asked to see the baby before she started her measurements, and was surprised to see it wasn’t moving around like last time. I mentioned it to the tech, and she smiled “Baby’s sleeping. Good baby.”

She went about her work, and then switched from the vaginal to the abdominal ultrasound and kept going. And then she said the most amazing thing: “Do you want to know the sex?”

I practically sat bolt upright. “Yes, yes, of course I do” I said, hoping she wouldn’t change her mind. “Okay, have a look.”. I looked where she was pointing on the 3D ultrasound part of the screen, which showed the baby in a vertical position with its legs spread. As soon as I looked, I knew right away. “It’s a boy!” I said in amazement. She smiled, and then we got back to the work at hand.

At the end of the ultrasound, it was time for the ultrasound picture. By now, after all the disruption, baby was no longer sleeping, and the tech started laughing. “Silly baby, look!”. I sat up to look at the 3D ultrasound, which showed baby holding his (his!) ears at the side of his head. It was the silliest loooking thing, and picture makes me smile every time I look at it.

After the scan, I had to go for bloodwork, since results of the bloodwork and further bloodwork in the 2nd trimester would be combined with the NT scan results to assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities. I had  a look at the requisition for the bloodwork, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it listed the NT scan measurement. It was 1.2mm, or well below the 3.0mm that could indicate issues. Phew. Another successful milestone. I knew that I still had to wait for the bloodwork results, but we were off to a good start.

11 Weeks 3 Days

I am back and hope to be posting more regularly. I have not given up on blogging now that I am pregnant. Everything continues to go well, but I still have a lot of posts to write. However, I have been ridiculously busy at work, and today was my first day off so far this month. Things will continue to be fairly busy over the next few weeks, but hopefully I’m past the worst of it.

Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, and I have a lot to write, I’m going to try my hardest to stay focused and write about the most important thing that’s happened since I last blogged. I had actually planned on writing this post a few days ago, but due to the work insanity I had to postpone that plan.

So here it is – I am now officially 100% more pregnant than I have ever been. This is a huge milestone. My first pregnancy ended at 11 weeks – a day and a half of spotting, turned to bleeding (heavier than anything I have ever experienced), which turned into a d&c that evening. The Dr. told me afterwards that based on the size of my uterus at the time, the baby stopped developing somewhere around 8 or 9 weeks.

This time around, by the time I got to 11 weeks, I’d had three ultrasounds. The first one was at 6 weeks 2 days, where we saw a strong heartbeat. The second one was at 8 weeks 5 days, where we saw a head and body and little limb buds developing. After that second ultrasound, I knews that this baby had most likely made it further than the first one. But I didn’t know for sure. Our third ultrasound was mind blowing. Just a week later, at 9 weeks 6 days, there was a tiny little baby waving its arms and legs around, which we even go to see in 3D. This time I knew for sure that this baby had made it further than the first one.

But while that gave me a lot of comfort, I still hadn’t made it further than before. And then finally, two days ago, I was 11 weeks and 1 day pregnant. This was important to me for two reasons. There is the obvious one that it is one more milestone to celebrate, and one more reason to exhale. And while that is important, I’ve already had a lot of great milestones and reasons to celebrate this pregnancy.

The other, more important reason is that the experience of once again being 11 weeks pregnant validates for me that my first pregnancy was real; that it was more than just a forgettable blip. Unlike this pregnancy, I never got to see my baby on ultrasound the first time around –  my first ultrasound was before the d&c. I couldn’t face myself to look at the screen when the Dr. put the wand in, but after I already knew what the outcome was I willed myself to sneak a peek. And what I saw didn’t resemble a baby at all – my uterus was just one big mess.

We had told very few people that we were pregnant, and while we ended up telling some close friends who’d recently lost a pregnancy in the 2nd trimester, I still mourned the fact that there was no tangible proof that our baby had ever existed. I had no ultrasounds, and hardly anyone that had shared the joy of pregnancy with me.

Over the course of the last year, as I watched countless other women on my infertility forums get pregnant, I was surprised at how quickly their pregnancies flew by. I would blink and they would be 8, 12, 16 weeks pregnant. I couldn’t believe how quickly they became more pregnant than I’d been. As time went on, and my experience of pregnancy faded further and further into the past, I started to worry that what I had experienced wasn’t real; that it was so fleeting that somehow in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter, even though it mattered to me.

This was further brought into relief for me on the one year anniversary of when I first found out I was pregnant. It coincided with when I finally got the go ahead for IVF, and the timing was such that from that day to my egg retrieval was almost exactly the same amount of time as from the time I found out I was pregnant to the d&c (my egg retrieval was the day before the one year anniversary of the d&c). This strange alignment further saddened me, as I was anxious to get the IVF going and have things fly by as much as possible, while I was also conscious of the fact that if the time flew by it also meant that my pregnancy one year before had also flown by.

This past week as I once again experienced being 11 weeks pregnant, I realized that it feels like I’ve been pregnant forever (in a good way of course!). The last 7 weeks since I found out I was pregnant have been rich with experience; much more so than most other 7 week periods. This pregnancy is real, and it matters.

And the first 11 weeks of this pregnancy finally validate my feelings about my first pregnancy – it may have ended too soon, but that doesn’t take away the experience that it was real, and that it will always be a part of me.

Still Pregnant, Still Grateful

Today I am 7 weeks and 3 days pregnant. On the one hand, this should come as no surprise…last time I wrote was eight days ago, and I was 6 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

However, while my overwhelming belief continues to be that this will work out and come next June I will have a baby in my arms, I do find myself “holding my breath” about more things than I would care to admit. On a similar note, I continue to be amazed at all the things that have gone right so far.

For example, while it’s not on my mind every time I wipe, I am surprised (and very grateful) that I have not spotted even one tiny speck of blood (or any brown of pink discharge) so far. I have heard enough times that spotting is more common in IVF pregnancies, plus I am still on heparin, which is a blood thinner. Both of these factors suggest that I am at higher than average risk of benign spotting, which prepared me to expect some spotting. So I am incredibly grateful that so far nothing has come to pass.

I have had some pregnancy symptoms, but they have been pretty minor compared to what I hear of other peoples’ experience. I have not thrown up (or even come close to it); I am not suffering from fatigue; and I am not sensitive to smells. I am grateful for each of these things.

While a lot of women (particularly ones who’ve suffered through infertility or loss) want to experience pregnancy symptoms, my personal take on it is that it’s way more fun to be pregnant without the nasty symptoms, than to be pregnant and feel like crap all the time. I don’t need to throw up to know I’m pregnant, especially now that I’ve had an ultrasound and I’ve seen the tiny baby growing inside me.

All the indicators I’ve had from this pregnancy so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Both of my beta hcg numbers were strong and right on target. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but it did. I was incredibly happy and relieved, but I still scoured the signatures of other women on my infertility forums to see if there were others with strong initial numbers that didn’t work out, and found several whose third or fourth betas (which I never went for) dropped, resulting in chemical pregnancies.

When we went for our ultrasound last week, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that at 6 weeks and 2 days it may still be early to see a heartbeat, so I mentally prepared myself for the possibility, and told myself not to freak out if that was the case. But, again the results left no doubt. Not only was there a heartbeat, but it was strong. Everything I read said that a normal  heartbeat at 6 to 7 weeks is between 90 and 110 beats per minute. Ours was 121 beats per minute.

When we left the appointment, my husband told me that he couldn’t believe things had gone so well. He said he was so used to us getting bad news, that part of him did not know how to react now that we were finally getting good news. And I knew what he meant.

After the good news from the ultrasound, I was ready to release a layer of anxiety and celebrate the milestone. While I celebrated the two strong beta results with some purchases at Pottery Barn Kids, this time around I got myself a ticker. This is a ribbon that counts down my pregnancy day by day, and the one I chose shows how big the baby is each week by comparing it to a fruit. I added the ticker to my signature on one of the infertility forums I’m on, and I love logging in every day and seeing each day tick by.

But, there are other things that will come only once more milestones are achieved. While the risk of miscarriage is much lower once you see a heartbeat on an ultrasound, it is still there. Again, I find myself looking at other women’s signatures on my infertility forums and noting the number that had a good first ultrasound, only to find out there was no heartbeat at their next ultrasound at 8 or 9 weeks.

My next ultrasound is at 8 weeks 5 days, and while once again, I fully expect things to go well, I am holding off on creating the “pregnancy” page for my blog where I will list my pregnancy milestones until I get the good news.

I continue to be grateful for every day that passes with no pregnancy related drama, because it means that I am one day closer to meeting my baby.