18 Weeks: Fetal ECG and Anatomy Scan

Our day started early today, as we needed to be downtown this morning for our fetal echocardiogram at Sick Kids Hospital. Traffic was surprisingly light, given that we were heading down during the morning rush hour, and we made it to our appointment in good time. 

  
Sick Kids is a really neat place. As its name implies, it’s a hospital for sick children, and as such looks like a friendlier and more fun place than any old hospital. There are several sections of the hospital, and we were in the atrium section, which was constructed with an underwater theme. Sea creatures decorated the walls, there were sitting pods on all upper floors, that kind of looked like submarine windows, the metal work and elevators also matched the submarine kind of look. We saw lots of kids that were sick or injured, but all seemed in good spirits and smiling.

  
(A hallway in Sick Kids, photo from http://vikpahwa.com/photos/20140126-the-hospital-for-sick-children-atrium-1993-in-toronto-is-reminiscent-of-ontario-place/)

The fetal ECG went well. The actual diagnostic ultrasound took over an hour, and the dim lighting and warmth in the room made me nod off throughout most of it. DW was there with me, sitting at the end of the medical table and kept holding and squeezing my feet, which was sweet.

Dumplin’ heart anatomy and function looked perfectly fine.

Next, we headed across the street to Mount Sinai for our anatomy scan. The waiting room in that place is huge, and full of pregnant ladies. Most looked very pregnant. The last couple of times that we’ve been there, I’ve kinda felt self-conscious about how “unpregnant” I looked compared to everyone there. I also noticed that the women there all seemed to be either of advanced maternal age, or really really young (and accompanied by a parent). There were very few women that looked my age, which was weird to me, but I guess this is a department for high risk pregnancies…. So I guess that makes sense.

The anatomy scan went well. Dumplin’ is a stubborn little fetus, refusing to change position despite several agitations by the ultrasound sonographer, me laying on my sides, me getting up and moving, or me making exaggerated physical movements. Today he had his back to the world, tucked right into mama. Our sweet stubborn boy!

  
(Dumplin’ sleeping on his side- that’s as far as he would move for us.)

He is also huge! He’s measuring 19 weeks, and we are 18 weeks. His head is big and his femurs are long. 

All of Dumplin’s parts look normal, except he has bilateral choroid plexus cysts in his brain. Now, as an isolated finding, this is benign. Sometimes, it is a soft marker for trisomy 18, but when it is, it is usually accompanied by other soft markets such as: intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), hands in a permanently clenched position, and major heart defects. Since our NIPT stated with 96.4% reliability that Dumplin’ does not have trisomy 18, our geneticist isn’t at all concerned about the cysts. Apparently they are a normal variant in 1-2% of the population, and do not affect the function of the brain at all. Dumplin’ also is huge for his age (so no IUGR), showed us his opening and closing of his hands, and has a normal heart. As his mama, it’s hard to not be worried even though it’s nothing. 

 
(Dumplin’s choroid plexus cysts- the holes in the two oval structures above.)

The geneticist said that this cyst thing isn’t even worth pursuing, it’s so benign, but to calm my maternal worrying, they’re sending us for fetal biometry at 28 weeks, which is just another ultrasound that measures things and gives the measurements a score, then a combined overall score for all of the measurements. It basically gives a summary of the baby’s growth compared to the normal range. Y’all know I’m a data nerd, so I’m happy with doing this ultrasound, especially since I’m with midwives, we won’t likely get to see Dumplin’ again until he’s born. 32 weeks is a damn long time people!

In other news, I’m up 25lbs since pre-IVF. Yup, twenty-five pounds! And I’m only 18 weeks! This number was a shock to me, but my boobs are ginormous (seriously the skin is so tight that it feels like my boobs are going to explode), I can’t fit my thighs into my regular pants, and my bump is bumpin’. So I see where the poundage is going. 10 of those pounds were gained in the past 7 weeks (normal according to my midwife), so 15 lbs were gained between my IVF stims, retrieval, and the end of my first trimester. To be honest, I blame a lot of those first 15 lbs on the prednisone… Such a nasty drug that gave me moon face and efficient fat storage! However, also a miracle drug that calmed my immune system enough to allow Dumplin’ to thrive. So I’ll take the increased body fat if it means I get a baby.

I will take a new bump photo this weekend and post it sometime soon. 

These days, I’m brainstorming things Dumplin’ will need, so that I can prepare myself for budgeting for it. I’m stuck on a couple of items that are costly and so personal in terms of different people’s habits (like strollers). Maybe I will do another post in a couple of days and elaborate on this.

Lots of love to y’all and have a wonderful weekend! 

17 Weeks and Crafts!

As I mentioned several months ago, we haven’t bought anything for Dumplin’ yet. Not a single onesie, toy, or trinket. But our fertility clinic did give us a little parting gift, which consisted of a whole bunch of advertisements, and samples (of baby shampoo, nursing pads, Penaten cream, and a bottle). 

  
For a month, this stuff sat on our dining room table, until my MIL gave us a little gift of baby socks for Easter. Then I knew we had to make space for Dumplin’s stuff.

So I moved some knitting materials, and made him a drawer. 

Slowly, the drawer is being filled- still with nothing purchased, but with things that have been made for him.

I’ve been working on a chevron blanket, after being inspired by Molly at Hound Mamas. It’s not done, but here’s what it looks like so far:

 

My MIL sewed a beautiful receiving blanket for Dumplin’:

  
I’ve also been sewing newborn cloth diapers for him, which was inspired by Shawns at Shawns and Cade, who has made a great tutorial on the process. I’ve been obsessed with the cute flannelette prints at Fabricland, and bought some for a Mother’s Day Cloth Diaper Making gift basket for my MIL. Her kit has snaps and snap pliers, which were expensive to buy at Fabricland so I suggest getting them on eBay. 

  
For the diapers I’m making, I bought Velcro for some variety.

  
  
They’ve been super fun to make, and I’ve been spending lots of time on my sewing machine (and less on WordPress- so forgive the lack of comments). I’ve also made some cloth pads from the leftover flannel and microfibre (for DW), as well as some awesome burp cloths.

  
We love the skulls with shades! 

Other than that, we’ve been chillin’ at the cottage on weekends, and I’ve been lifting weights three times a week. 

 (Seat stealer.) 
I’ve been feeling good physically, except for two things:

– round ligament pain which started yesterday- ouch!

– trying not to sleep on my back (back sleeping is not recommended after twenty weeks due to compression of the inferior vena cava)- frustrating!

Other than that, I’ve just been crafting away, filling Dumplin’s drawer.

  

Dumplin’s Sex Revealed!

Geeze, it took me two days to figure out how to upload a video onto YouTube, but here it is! 

10 out of 18 predicted that Dumplin’ is a GIRL.

8 out of 18 predicted that Dumplin’ is a BOY.

Dumplin’s sex is revealed through our cupcake surprise with my in-laws….

(Just copy and paste the link into your browser, and be sure to comment on this post afterwards!)

Enjoy!

A Quickie Update: 16 Weeks

I know I’m posting this a couple of days late, but better late than never.

We just got back from a relaxing long weekend spent at the cottage with my MIL and FIL.  

We were also expecting my BIL, SIL, and their kids to show up as well, and planned a surprise sex reveal. I baked some gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, cored them, and then filled them with coloured icing. I then dressed the top of the cupcakes with white cream cheese icing. 

My BIL, SIL, nephews, and niece didn’t show up (they were busy at their own cottage), but we went ahead with the cupcake surprise with my MIL and FIL anyways.

  
I won’t spoil it quite yet, but I do plan to reveal Dumplin’s sex on the blog  soon.

For now, I would love to hear your predictions!

To help, I thought I’d share some fun bump pictures:

  

  

Bump progression. 

 

16 Week Bump.

So what’s your guess? Is Dumplin’ a girl or a boy? 

NIPT Results

I had a rough day today. I had to drag myself out of bed to use the toilet several times last night and this morning because we went for sushi yesterday, and I made some poor choices. Yes, I am still eating raw fish and seafood (ie. Sashimi, sushi, maki) but I trust the places that I’m eating at- they are busy, have a high turnover, and are clean. Plus, from what I have read, food poisoning from sushi is just as bad for you non-pregnant as pregnant, so it’s not like there’s a greater risk during pregnancy. That’s not why I am having the runs though. I usually try to stay away from things with any “sauce”- teriyaki sauce, soy sauce- because usually, they have gluten in them. Wheat flour is a common ingredient in soy and teriyaki sauces, so I have to buy special gluten-free varieties, which are expensive, and most sushi places won’t splurge on that kind of thing. So those yummy beef-wrapped enoki rolls and the bulgogi beef ribs that I ate are probably to blame for the mucousy gluten-sludge in my toilet. It’s so nasty. When gluten hits my digestive tract, an autoimmune reaction happens. My body tries to get rid of it by producing lots of mucous so that the gliadin proteins in the gluten aren’t in contact with my digestive lining because it’s so irritated. This means lots of nasty poops. Anyways, my belly bloated up within a few hours of eating, and it was so painful. I felt a lot of pressure a bit higher than I used to, thanks to my uterus growing out of my pelvis, and pushing everything like my bowels upwards. Luckily, the worst of it is over now, and I’ve re-learned my lesson again to stay away from gluten!
Sorry to have subjected you to the descriptive details of my poopy adventures. Kudos for surviving that.

Now, onto the good stuff…..

I went to the gym today, and dragged my feet through my entire workout, which was surprising, because today was leg day, and I LOVE leg day. I guess the waiting by the phone for weeks had caught up with me, and I was starting to really feel hopeless about it all. 

I finished my workout, came home, and made myself a turkey sandwich (gluten-free bread, microwaved the nitrate-free cold cuts). Halfway through eating my emotions, the phone rings! 

It’s my genetic counsellor! 
She has good news!

Yes, that’s right….. GOOD NEWS!

Dumplin’ is LOW RISK (<1/10,000) for all three trisomies!! 

HALLE-fucking-LUJAH!!!! 

  
I texted and called DW as soon as I heard the good news, but she was picketing and unable to answer her phone. When she finally called me back, we both cried tears of joy over the phone. We are so grateful for all of your positive thoughts, prayers, supportive messages, texts, and comments. I honestly don’t know how I would get through this without all of you. 

 (Beautiful flowers from the very thoughtful MyPerfectBreakdown) 
Tomorrow, we have our early anatomy scan, to check out Dumplin’s heart and other body parts, and two and a half weeks after that we have our fetal echocardiogram. Fingers crossed that all goes well with these tests too. 

For now, I’m so grateful for this good news. Best Mother’s Day gift ever!

Another Fucking Roadblock

*Warning: lots of F-bombs released in this post*

You’re not supposed to write when you’re angry. You’re especially not supposed to write emails when you’re angry, but I just did. I couldn’t help it. I am just so angry right now. 

So I’ve been counting days (as you do when you’ve been cycling, going through TWWs, on edge for the next ultrasound, etc.) since I had my blood drawn and sent off for the NIPT test on April 29th. Like I mentioned before, another blogger got her results back within 6 business days, and today would be the 6th business day. So I’ve been anxiously going about my day, with my phone ringer on high and always close by. I made breakfast, I planted some bush beans, I got some chicken and potatoes ready in the slow cooker, I cleaned and disinfected the kitchen, all with my phone tagging along. I finally took a break about 10 minutes ago, checked my phone, and there was an email from my lovely genetic counsellor with a subject line of “Results expected next week”. God bless that girl for emailing me to let me know not to expect anything anytime soon, but CML blood labs can go and fuck themselves. 

Apparently, despite protocol being that they should’ve mailed my sample by courier (1-2 days max) off on April 29th, the sample wasn’t received until May 4th. That’s 5 fucking days! So now, because of this, I’ve been told to expect results sometime between May 11th to May 14th. 

I know some of you might think I’m just being a whiny baby about this, “what’s another week?”, but let me put this into perspective here:

It has taken us 3 years, 4IUI’s, 2 full rounds of IVF, and 5 transfers of a total of 9 embryos to get here. There have been 3 miscarriages along the way.

We got the abnormal result on April 17th. 

Paper work for funding for the NIPT was sent on April 21st, which was somehow never received by the Ministry of Health.

Paper work for funding for the NIPT was re-sent on April 28th, and thankfully approved on April 29th.

I did my bloodwork and the package was supposed to be sent off the morning of April 29th. Somehow it doesn’t reach the lab until May 4th?!! And now I am told I might have to wait as late as May 14th for results?!! 

Ladies and gentlemen, it has taken Canada one month to deal with something that should’ve taken a week. What. The. Fuck.

The impact of this is that my wife and I are in pregnancy limbo, crying on our bad days and worried as shit on our good days, losing out on a full month of pregnancy bliss due to what is hopefully a stupid false positive NT scan that I never really wanted to do in the first place.

Fuck.

Just fuck.

Second Trimester Energy = Back at the Gym

In the haze of the NT disaster, I forgot to mention that at 14 weeks pregnant, I returned to the gym. I’ve been feeling more energetic lately, so I started doing prenatal yoga at home once or twice a week, lifting weights three days a week, and have continued to hike with the dogs four to five days a week, depending on the weather.

In case you’re curious, I’m doing a three day split: Monday’s I’m doing legs/back, Wednesday’s I’m training shoulders/triceps/chest, and Friday’s I’m working legs/biceps. Every three weeks I am switching up the specific exercises I’m doing.

My weight lifting sessions last about 30-40 minutes, and I’m wearing my heart rate monitor so that I can see how hard my body is working. I’ve noticed that my heart rate stays below 145bpm at maximal effort, so I’m happy with that intensity. Some old and disproven literature out there states that pregnant women should keep their heart rate below 140bpm so that they don’t overheat. While the new standards have shown that it’s safe to raise your heart rate above this if you’re well trained, I’d rather stay conservative. My goal isn’t to pack on more muscle or to lose weight, it’s mostly to keep up my strength and endurance for a more comfortable pregnancy and labour and delivery. It’s also for stress relief, as I’ve always enjoyed the routine of working out. 

I’m not doing any HIIT cardio like I used to. I’m just doing leisurely hikes with our dogs. As much as I would love to be one of those ladies who runs throughout their pregnancy, I already have lax ligaments and I suspect that the relaxin coursing through my body will make me susceptible to repetitive sprain/strain injuries. 

Last Wednesday, I did my first workout- shoulders/triceps/chest, which went well. Last Friday however, I did legs/biceps and then spent an hour in a deep squat position breaking up the soil and planting our leeks. Soon after, I started spotting, which freaked me out. I figured that I did too much, and so since then, I’ve decided to limit myself to one physical activity per day. And yes, gardening counts.

I’m otherwise feeling really good and haven’t had any spotting since Friday. I still haven’t been sleeping great, due to anxiety and stress, as well as difficulty getting comfortable in bed. I used to be a stomach/side sleeper, but my belly doesn’t feel good in that position. My current favourite position is sleeping on my back, but I know I’m not supposed to sleep on my back in a couple of weeks, which stresses me out. I have been trying to get used to sleeping on my left side but I don’t enjoy it. Overall, I’m not getting that nice deep sleep that I used to. I am taking little cat naps (under an hour) on the couch with the little dog, which is lovely. The naps provide the perfect boost of energy for the rest of the day. 

I’m still having moments of nausea in the morning if I don’t get food in my belly quick enough, but that’s totally under my control. 

The second trimester is off to a great start!

14 Weeks… Welcome to the 2nd Trimester!

  I am so grateful to have made it to this milestone. After our 3 first trimester losses in the past year (2 DW’s, 1 mine), the second trimester seemed like a pipe dream. I am not sure if it’s the intralipids, prednisone, or fragmin, but I’m glad that I strong-armed our RE into implementing a more aggressive protocol after my NK cytokine findings in October.

Pregnancy has been nice lately. I’m still a bit pukey at certain times in the morning, usually when I have been slow to get food into my belly, or when I’m brushing my teeth. I’m still on the 4 Diclectin daily, as it’s allowing me less food aversions, so I’m eating healthier. I’m up about 12lbs from pre-pregnancy, and up 17lbs from pre-IVF. I’m starting to not care so much about the weight gain, as my bump begins to show more. 

Sleep has been terrible, as my anxiety has been high from this elevated NT crap. I’m a little less obsessed with it now that the NIPT has been sent off, and there’s just waiting to do now. It’s out of my hands. Work has also been stressing me out, as we are 99.99% going on strike, and that means “bye bye salary!”. As a two-teacher household, we are hit even harder. We have money saved (that was supposed to go towards a minivan), and there is a strike fund that we’ve been paying into for years and years which will start to pay us back and definitely soften the blow. It’s all just crazy town over here though. DW’s is leading her school in this strike, and has been stressed out worse than I’ve ever seen her be. 

I started weaning down from my 10mg of Prednisone last week. Last week I went down to 7.5mg daily, and today I go down to 5mg daily. Next week I will be down to 2.5mg daily, and then off of it completely. During December’s failed FET, they didn’t give me proper weaning/tapering instructions and told me to go off cold turkey. My body didn’t respond well, as I had full-body aches, was exhausted to the point of bed-ridden, and I was super hypotensive (my normal BP is around 100/70, and it went down to 90/70). I’m hoping to avoid all of that this time. I have developed a wider “moon face”, and have probably gained more weight than I would’ve without the prednisone, so I’m looking forward to going off of it soon. I’m still on the Fragmin though, and will probably ask to stay on blood thinners until 6 weeks postpartum because while I don’t have a thrombophilia, my sister had a DVT and my grandpa died of a pulmonary embolism. I’m supposed to stay on the aspirin until the end as well.

My hair remains a mess. The front half has been combed out, but the back is still in dreads. DW likes to say that I’m “all business in the front and party in the back”, which makes me laugh my ass off. A couple of days ago, I had a meltdown because I regretted taking out those hard-earned mature dreads. I hate my hair not in dreads. It’s this super fine, wavy sometimes curly always frizzy mess. I have to put way more work into my “normal hair” than I do with my dreads. DW came home to me bawling my eyes out over this one day, and agrees that I should just redread what I took out. I always wanted my dreads a bit thinner, so I might take this as an opportunity to get what I want. It’ll take a while, but I’m glad I didn’t continue to take more out.

I’m definitely showing now, and DW has been coming home and greeting both me and my bump. My belly kinda asserts itself in our hugs now too, which is kinda fun, thinking that Dumplin’ is part of our hug. Clementine has been guarding my belly more closely now, insisting on lying such that her front legs rest on my belly, in Sphinx pose.

  
I’m getting more and more excited about Dumplin’, and have been itching to pull out the boxes of baby clothes that were handed down from my BIL and SIL almost five years ago. We’ve got lots of shuffling to do of stuff in different rooms. We’re moving the entertainment stuff from the rec room to the living room, the office stuff into the rec room, and turning the office into Dumplin’s room. We chose to keep the spare room as the guest bedroom, because all of our family is from out of town and do often stay over. 

I’ve been visualizing good things for us, partly because it helps me get through this tough time, but also because I’m trying to believe in the law of attraction. In my mind, Dumplin’ is perfect. Early next week, the NIPT results will show no/low risk for all trisomies, and we can breathe a sigh of relief. We start moving furniture in preparation for Dumplin’s room, making space for him/her in our home. The next week, at our early anatomy ultrasound, Dumplin’ measures normal on everything, especially his/her heart. We start setting up Dumplin’s room. Two weeks after that, he/she measures normal for everything at the anatomy ultrasound and fetal echocardiogram. We celebrate by washing, sorting, and putting away the baby clothes we’ve been waiting so long to finally be able to use. The rest of the pregnancy is full of happiness, laughter, and love shared between myself, DW, Dumplin’, and those we care about. We have a wonderful summer spent at the cottage or travelling. We celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary with a baby moon. I return to work in September and love being back at my old school. I am able to work until close to Dumplin’s due date. Dumplin’ is welcomed into the world through a meaningful, intense, birth without fear. He/she continues to be wonderful. These are my hopes and prayers.