Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11

Julyeleventh. Today is the sixth anniversary of my first due date. Of the seven boys I conceived, only two were born to me. But they will all live with me forever in my heart.

I have no grave sites to visit, no true way to mark the passing of babes who never breathed. I heard the heartbeats of a couple. But I never saw any of their faces, only their ghostly white profiles lit up by ultrasound. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, ghosts to ghosts.

I am so grateful for the two who crossed to this side, who bless me daily with their smiles and tears, the sweet soft comfort of their living flesh.

The new baby is nine months old now, a great strapping boy with a heady giggle and a loud squall. He taught himself to sit up on Friday.

Turtle was at the table eating a peanut butter sandwich while the baby performed elaborate contortions on the floor. All of a sudden his exertions ended with him sitting happily on his hind legs.

Turtle beamed with sheer delight and pride. What a gentle, selfless, joyful nature he has.

Turtle," I said, "it's amazing that you and I were both here watching at the very moment the baby learned how to sit up. It's as if we were watching very patiently and saw the exact instant that a flower bloomed." I thought this would go over Turtle's head. Did he even understand about buds and blossoms? And could he stand to see so much sentimental excitement being lavished on his little brother for something as mundane as sitting?

"Mama," he said, "let's pretend to be flowers blooming!" He crouched on the floor with rounded back, then unfurled his arms like petals. I joined him in bloom and then we both just laid there for a minute, keeping the baby company, basking in the square of afternoon sunlight that shone on the floor.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Am Typing This With One Hand...

because the other is cradling my newborn as he nurses! For anyone left reading this much-neglected blog, I'm here to report that rarest of IF outcomes: a genuinely happy ending. Why pregnancies number 4 and 7 produced beautiful boys, while numbers 1, 2,3, 5, & 6 produced doomed 46XY fetuses, I will never know, barring new discoveries in reproductive medicine. For now "miracle" will have to serve as the most scientific explanation. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Deliverance Not Delivery

A quick update at the 30 week mark:

This pregnancy has continued to be highly stressful. At 27 weeks, I was told that my cervix was 80-90% effaced. My OBs debated an immediate steroid shot, then decided to await the results of a fetal fibronectin test. Oddly, when they reexamined me 24 hours later, my cervix was back to only 50% effaced. Thankfully, the FFn test came back negative, which gave me a nice two-week interval of confidence that I wouldn't go into labor.

Low and behold, at my check up this past week, I once again had a cervix that was 80-90% effaced and the baby was in pelvic station -1, quite a bit lower than you'd expect at only 29+ weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat: negative FFn test and mysterious return to 50% effacement one day later, baby's head up around rib cage again. The conclusion? I have an irritable uterus. Frankly, the old ute is not the only thing that's irritable at this point, but I shall strive to contain myself!

The real good news is that I am all but guaranteed to make it at least as far as 32 weeks, a key milestone and an exceptional degree of reassurance for this anxious recurrent miscarrier.

Meanwhile, the running hypothesis is that the uterine irritability was caused by dehydration secondary to fasting for glucose tolerance tests. Tests plural, because I failed the first one. But, this afternoon, the result came back negative for gestational diabetes. Icing on the cake I will now be allowed to eat! And, for the final frosted flower, my test for Group-B Strep (which was positive in my pregnancy with Turtle) also came back negative. So, it would seem that I am in the clear all round.


Insomnia still going strong. Tonight the babe keeps kicking my bladder with the result that I have to pee every 1/2 hour or so. I don't want the baby out any time soon, I just want the time until 40 weeks to pass fast!

And on the topic of the little one on the outside: at just over three, Turtle is so adorable I want to swoon. Tonight he asked me, "why are teeth white?" We have been talking a lot about how the good things in food leave our bellies and go into our blood to bring our bodies what they need to grow and be strong. (The corollary, of course, is that the unusable parts of food turn into poo--an endlessly fascinating subject as we are deep into potty training.) I asked him if he could think of a drink that's white, and he came up with "milk!" So then we talked about how milk has calcium that goes into our teeth and makes them strong and white. This led to a discussion of bones and skeletons. I showed him my Webster's dictionary diagram of a skeleton and asked him what it looked like. I thought he might say "a person." But he said, "bones!" It really seemed like he got it. Then we took a break from heavy discussion because he wanted to sing, "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands." He is just such good company. I loved his babyhood--all the delicious, soft, warm, chubbinesss of it--but he is turning into such a fascinating little person. It's great fun to watch. And I may turn into a mommy blogger yet, just to capture these memories.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Night Owls

Insomnia, 4 a.m.
Baby's kicking
Together we pace the night
Energy sapped from the day floods in
That cabinet can be set to rights
We crave the crunch of a green apple
There are those thank-you notes to write
Our hearts are pumping hard
And my eyes fill
This blessed night, this blessed life

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


All OK with the FISH results. A huge relief. I simply did not know how we would face, much less make, any decisions and I'm so glad there are none to be made. It's not going to be easy but I am going to try my level best not to spend the rest of this pregnancy vigilantly patrolling for problems.

Tomorrow I go to my new doctor, Dr. Friend, for a check up, but as I can feel some movement I am feeling confident things are OK. Doing the amnio with Dr. Madame capped the decision to switch practitioners. When he finally swanned in after the endless twenty-five minutes with the tech, I said, "you know I'm feeling really apprehensive about whether doing the amnio is the right thing." He replied, "that's to be expected," turned on in his heel, and left. He returned a few minutes later with an ultrasound doc (who manned the machine during the actual procedure). While prepping me for the needle, he proceeded to enjoy professional banter with his fellow M.D., including some jokes about "vaginal rejuvenation." Yo, rejuvenate your mouth, dude. My mother now thinks he must have Asperger's...she has at least the first two letters right!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I think I have Post Infertility Stress Disorder. I cannot relax in this pregnancy at all. I feel I am constantly bracing for the next disastrous event, anxiety strafing across my consciousness at every corner. I have grown so used to the need to be stoic, to bend without breaking that I'm now chronically emotionally stooped.

If told that there's a 99.5% chance that the baby they're expecting will have a normal complement of chromosomes, most people would rest easy at night. I can't and neither can my husband. We felt compelled to do the amnio even though we felt sick at the thought of the (also vanishingly small) additional risk and unsure what we would do with the information. The first problem, of course, is that we're not expecting a new baby; we're expecting the next catastrophe.

I cried silently through the whole ultrasound. It took the expected 25 minutes and we were directed to notice every finger and toe, each chamber of the heart. The ultrasound tech seemed very rattled by my silent tears, so I gather this is not the standard response of women undergoing amnio. At the end, she gave us two souvenir pictures, the clearest shots we've yet seen of the fetus. My husband asked afterward, "do you think she was Pro-Life?" But I'm sure she was just following procedure.

We are the ones so desperate for life, for normal life, for the country-song happy ending "we'll have a boy for you, we'll have a girl for me." That outcome once seemed not a privilege, but just what would happen to any two people in love.

I cried in that ultrasound with grief for the thought that I could be hurting my precious baby, no matter the number of chromosomes it carries. Despite my firm pro-choice politics, I cried with true moral revulsion at the possibility of terminating a much-wanted life. And I cried at the thought of what it would mean to devote our limited time, energy, and resources to the difficulties of raising a child with special needs. I cried with grief that 6 seemingly endless years of infertility and loss mounted up so quickly in the end, making me old enough to merit this invasive procedure.

I went home and drank the recommended glass of wine and slept for hours. Wish I could sleep till Tuesday when the FISH results should arrive, till October, when the baby is due. Wish I could wake up finally from this nightmare of repeated miscarriage, happy and whole. Wish I felt no need to glance continually back over my shoulder while alternately squinting to scan the horizon ahead.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FISHing for Trouble?

I seem to live life on the statistical edge. One half of one percent is the percentage of women who have recurrent miscarriage for which no explanation can be found. It's also the risk that the baby I'm currently carrying has Down's Syndrome. My nuchal results were great, but the news has gotten progressively worse. My odds are now 1/190, worse than my age-related risk of 1/287. The odds of miscarriage due to having an amnio are 1/400. What's a five-time miscarrier to do?

I feel absolutely whipsawed by this latest twist of events. What are the chances that fate could be so cruel as to let me hold a pregnancy with a chromosomally abnormal fetus after I've lost FIVE chromosomally normal ones? You might think the odds are slim. But given the improbable bad luck I've already experienced, I find little comfort there.

I'm currently scheduled for an amnio on Friday, but I'm scared and ambivalent. I just don't know how much more I can take...Suffice it to say that this is doing nothing for my efforts to get back into a work writing routine. Somebody stop the bus. I want to get off.