Monday, May 22, 2017

Adventures in Baby Making: Part Three

Well, hello there.

I have to admit, I'm a little surprised Blogger is still a thing. Is blogging even cool anymore? Was it ever? Do I care? I haven't touched this blog for 15 months and it's made me a whopping $30 whole dollars. Cha ching.  So I don't care what the kids say, it's cool.  Anyways, apparently the only thing I ever blog about anymore is tiny humans entering and exiting my body, sprinkled with occasional photo dumps. And this post is definitely one of those things.  I'm going to go ahead and assume you're all here from Facebook and know which thing that is. So, per usual, we'll start from before the beginning.  Because I know you all have the time to kill to read a 900 paragraph blog post about baby making.

*And if you don't, and want the majorly abridged version, scroll to the bottom.  If you don't care how we made our baby, but are curious about how the pregnancy has been, you can make your way to the bottom of this post as well.  Because, seriously, it's long.*

As much as I had hoped that this particular post would simply be, "Once upon a time, Shawn and I boinked and made a baby. The end."  Spoiler Alert: It's not.  That's certainly not for a lack of trying, either.  

Because heaven forbid procreation be simple.  And - gasp - free.  Fortunately the financial repercussions of this particular conception weren't nearly as severe as they were with Eli.  And hey, you get another riveting conception story. Lucky you. 

After I had Grace, I had a lot of anxiety about if I'd ever be able to get pregnant again. We had used our last two frozen embryos with her cycle - and there was no way I was going to be able to convince Shawn to drop another 15 grand on another fresh IVF cycle.  And the thought of having to try for years again to have another baby really stressed me out. I finally just had to accept, for the time being, that I was (and am) extremely lucky to have my two kids and I just needed to focus on them.   While, of course, secretly hoping I'd become one of those, "My infertility is magically cured and now I'm so fertile I got pregnant while I was breastfeeding" success stories.

Well, surprise, that didn't happen. As we got closer to Grace's first birthday, I decided I'd need to start weaning her so I could go talk to my fertility doctor about what she'd suggest - aside from IVF - to try and get pregnant again. Because after plenty of well-intentioned people, including my OB, suggested that pregnancy can sometimes "cure" infertility - I got it into my head that, surely, if my body has already produced two healthy humans, that's plenty of time for it to get its crap together and not need a full blown IVF cycle to get knocked up. Surely.

Somewhere around this time is when I learned that my employer, JetBlue, was going to start offering infertility coverage in the near future. And good coverage.  What?! I had emailed some higher up person back when we were trying for Eli about if they'd ever offer coverage - and they gave me the typical generic "It's something we're looking into, stay tuned" type answer. So after "staying tuned" for years, I never actually expected that it would be something they'd ever offer.  Because there's only a few companies in Utah that do. While I still hoped that it wasn't something I'd need to use, it was relieving to know that I had that as a backup plan.  Although I wouldn't be able to switch to full time to become eligible for the insurance until at least May of this year.

Grace was completely weaned by the time she was about 11 months old.  And although I managed to avoid the final-nurse meltdown I had had with Eli, I still felt the same guilt I did when I weaned Eli so I could try and get pregnant again.  I couldn't think about Grace being done nursing for too long, or I would meltdown.  In the back of my mind, I was terrified it was the last time I'd ever be able to nurse a baby - and I wasn't ready for that.  (Clearly always worst-case scenario-ing over here.)

I still had about 2-3 weeks after weaning Grace before the consult with my fertility doctor. I was eager to see if, now that I had stopped breastfeeding, my period would start on its own. I never got a chance to see if it would start after weaning Eli, because we immediately started the process for Grace's frozen embryo transfer (because we had won the fertility grant that had to be used within a year from winning it).  Well, as many times as I thought my period would start, it never did. I felt pretty defeated already. My body clearly hadn't "cured" itself. And maybe if I had waited a little longer, it would have? But I clearly don't have the patience for that kind of waiting. I was still hopeful that maybe just a boost of Clomid would do the trick this time. Even though it never worked the 8ish times that we had unsuccessfully tried it before Eli came along.

The day of my consult finally rolled around and I was anxious to see if my doctor would give us any hope of getting pregnant outside of IVF.  She scrolled through my history on her computer and shook her head and said, "Wow. You really didn't have great luck before IVF, did you?" 

She went on to say that she probably wouldn't have me try for very long before needing to do IVF again.  She mentioned that when we did IVF with Eli, it was the eggs they had ICSId (injected the sperm directly into the egg - instead of letting them swim around the petri dish and fertilize the eggs the "normal" way) that had went on to become our best (but still not perfect) embryos. The eggs that Shawn's sperm fertilized on their own had arrested before turning into good quality, transferable/freezable embryos.  She said that it really didn't add up - because Shawn's sperm analysis has always had great results - and in theory, PCOS should be treatable with drugs - like Clomid.  Leaving me with the impression that it could possibly be some sort of chemical issue between Shawn's sperm and my eggs - which would explain why nothing had worked until we did IVF.  She continued on to say that that was 3+ years ago, and things could be different now that I've had two kids.  She did an ultrasound with the ever-favorite vag wand to check out my uterine lining and my ovaries. My lining was thickish - but not super thick - which would have indicated that a period was somewhere near.  And, as usual, I had small cysts all over my ovaries.  Thank you, PCOS.

She said that they'd do bloodwork to make sure I hadn't already ovulated on my own and that I wasn't already pregnant.

And if everything came back negative, I wouldn't need to wait for a period and could start Clomid that day.  (Because apparently they've done studies that inducing a period doesn't improve the success at all and yadda yadda - so yay for that.)  She told us she wouldn't have us bother with paying for an IUI - since that's usually used more for sperm issues anyways. But nevertheless, a "timed intercourse" cycle was still going to cost us about $800 when all was said and done. Because WHY WOULDN'T IT? 

I left the appointment feeling really anxious and having some serious PTSD from when we were trying with Eli - because I knew how all those Clomid cycles ended. The nurse finally called and said, "Well, you're not pregnant and you're not anywhere close to ovulating - so you can start Clomid today!" 

The last time I had done Clomid, I didn't have any kids. This time I had two. And that was quite the experience as far as my patience, rage, and hormones were concerned.  The weird flashy vision set in, like usual. I went in for my ultrasound to check my follicles to see if I was ready to "trigger" ovulation with an HCG shot. They like follicles to measure at an 18 to release a mature egg, I had two follicles measuring at 14 and four at 10. I went back three days later to check their growth and had three nice, big juicy follicles that were ready. If I had had any more than that, they would have cancelled my cycle because of the increased risk of multiples.  The nurse told me there was a 5% chance I could end up with higher order multiples - which would be 3 or more. And I assured her that, with my luck, it wouldn't be an issue.  I felt hopeful, and then quickly remembered that I had had three big follicles for at least two of my Clomid IUIs.  And that left me feeling a little deflated.

Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like prescribed sex.  I even tried to make it more exciting by doing the 12 Lays of Christmas - because how fun am I?  I put the pillows under my butt and laid in bed for forever afterwards.  I probably even stood on my head at one point - just for good measure. I had ovulated three eggs.  We had had ALL THE SEX.  Now it was just up to my body and our ingredients to get their shit together.

Fast forward to pee stick time.  I only took about 100.  Apparently the First Response have curved handles now?  What?  If you're not ready to get your own pee on your hand, you're sure as hell not ready to have a baby.  Also, who doesn't use a cupAnyways.  Because I had taken an HCG shot to trigger ovulation - that meant I'd have HCG in my system for a certain amount of time - 10ish days, supposedly - which means it would show up on a pee stick and give me a false positive test for at least that long. So I "tested it out" - basically tested daily to see if/when it would disappear and start getting darker again, which would mean I was pregnant. Well, by day 12 I was still getting reaaaaaaaally faint positives.  I'm talking lines that only a trained pee stick addict could see.  And long, pee stick story short, it was all garbage.  If I was still picking up any HCG, it was from the stupid shot that apparently loves to linger in my body for as long as humanly possible.  I went in for my blood test, knowing that it would be negative, and later that day got the all-too-familiar call with a somber tone telling me I wasn't pregnant.

And this is when you realize you're only maybe halfway through this post.

Fortunately, I'd had my "I'm broken and I'm never going to be able to get pregnant unless we do IVF again" meltdown the weekend prior to my blood test. Initially our plan had been for me to apply to go full time in May, for the insurance - and then just try on our own until then - and if we could get pregnant the good ol' fashioned way, then splendid. I had sobbed to Shawn that I couldn't deal with another 5 months of negative results - especially if they were going to cost us $800+ bucks each time.  And I didn't feel like we could just try solely on our own to save the money - because, with our history, it would just feel like a colossal waste of time.  

There's a specific timeframe at JetBlue that you have to apply to switch from part time to full time and vice versa.  To go full time in January, I would have had to apply to go full time back in August/September, and I didn't - because of our overly optimistic plan to try "on our own".  I had emailed my supervisor and asked if there was any way they'd let me switch to full time outside of that application period.  As luck would have it, our team was a little short staffed at the time - so they okayed me to switch to full time immediately. And as nervous as I was to be working four 10-hour shifts a week with two kids - I was immensely grateful that they had let me switch to full time instead of having to wait until May.  So much for having learned so much patience while we tried to get pregnant with Eli. 

And some of you are probably thinking, "Well you still could have gotten pregnant on your own!" And you know, maybe we could have.  But after trying for close to three years with no success, I wasn't crazy about our chances - especially after talking with our doctor and seeing how hesitant even she was about our chances outside of IVF.  But I know IVF works for us.  It's given us some pretty great spawn.  And I never in a million years thought we'd have the chance to do IVF again - and have it paid for by insurance, no less.  So I felt like I would have been a fool not to take advantage of that while I could. So after we prayed about it and felt confident that was the route we should take, I switched to full time and made the call to my fertility clinic to let them know we wanted and were ready to do IVF.

If you've read Eli's IVF novel, this IVF cycle is pretty similar. We followed about the same protocol as we did last time, since it clearly worked out for us last time. So I may not go into as much detail (*gasp*), just because I already have before, this is already hella long, and when I'm not using up precious nap time to write bits and pieces of this (because seriously, this has been a two week process so far), I'm doing it while my kids run around and squirt applesauce on the walls, empty every drawer in our house, flush medicine bottles down the toilet, and otherwise wreak destruction.  So, you know. Priorities and stuff. (Also, I say this now, but I'll still probably end up making this post entirely too long.  Again.  Oh well.)

Anyways, I got my schedule in the middle-ish of January, and just like Eli's cycle, was scheduled to be on birth control for about six straight weeks before we could even start our cycle in the middle of February. Yeah.  I know.  GOOD TIMES.  So, needless to say I was a little bummed I wouldn't be able to start sooner than that, because clearly I was anxious, but it is what it is.  Birth control was just about as fun as it usually is. Lots of impatience, wanting to curl up in a ball and cry, and more grumpy days than I'd care to admit. 

The day before I was supposed to take my last birth control pill, I started bleeding. So naturally I freak out, because OH MY GOSH THIS DIDN'T HAPPEN WITH ELI'S IVF CYCLE AND NOW OUR ENTIRE IVF CYCLE IS GOING TO FAIL.  Because surely it couldn't be because I was on my second straight pack of active birth control pills and my uterine lining was just brimming at that point.  It ended up tapering off and stopping the next day - but I still called my nurse, because I'm that lady, and she assured me that yes, it was probably just breakthrough bleeding. Something I'm not used to, because I've led more of a "no bleeding ever" type of life. (Which no, isn't lucky.)

A few days after stopping my birth control, I had an appointment for a vag ultrasound to check my lining. Five minutes prior to leaving, one of the kids decided to spill a bottle of perfume all over the floor and then roll around in it. So, instead of being a good mom and changing their clothes, we rolled right into that doctor's office in a cloud of Jessica Simpson, because they could smell like worse things.  Anyways, my lining, as expected, was thick and ready to "shed".  Womanhood is beautiful, but it's also hella gnarly and ew. I was given the okay to go ahead and start my two daily shots the next day. 

Day 1 of shots and I was so. nervous.  Like I had never injected myself with hormones 800 million times before.  But I did it, and I survived.  So anticlimactic.  

Day 2 of shots, nausea and constant headaches joined the party. 

Day 3 of shots I had bloodwork done and they told me that I was "overachieving" with my Estrogen levels, so they were going to reduce one of my drugs a little, so I wouldn't overstimulate my ovaries.  Again, something that didn't happen with Eli's cycle, and even though my nurse told me that it wasn't a bad thing, I immediately spun back into THIS CYCLE IS GOING TO FAIL mode, because it wasn't following Eli's cycle just perfectly.  I had to slowly back away from Google, because Google is the devil.  

Day 5 of shots my ovaries started to get really sore, which was oddly comforting, because it was a familiar feeling from Eli's cycle, and as uncomfortable as it was getting (I'm talking, I could feel my ovaries when I'd sit down), I knew they were doing their job.  Although I'd occasionally get stuck with a looming feeling that this IVF cycle wasn't going to work - because surely we'd used up all our IVF luck already - I was still feeling 100 times more calm with this cycle than I was with Eli's cycle at this point.  Likely because we didn't have 15 grand riding on whether or not my lady parts would decide to cooperate.

Day 6 of shots I had an ultrasound to check out how my ovaries were doing, and sure enough each ovary had at least 20 follicles on it.  The one thing my ovaries can do when I force them to.  I had a few more follicles with Eli's cycle at this point - about 25ish and 30ish at this point - but I also hadn't reduced one of my shots with him, which is probably why I didn't have as many.  But still more than a lot of women get thanks to PCOS.

Day 8 of shots I had another ultrasound, and my follicle count was about the same as before - with maybe a few more.  Still not as many as Eli, which I was trying really hard not to let freak me out.  


Okay, quick pause here to say that my computer died (with 20% battery still left) in the middle of me working on this post randomly throughout the day AND SAVED ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  And I'm hella grumpy about it because I was close to actually finishing.  Thanks for nothing, BLOGGER "AUTO SAVE".


Okay, now that I have that (mostly) out of my system.  BACK TO DAY 8 OF SHOTS.  Whimper.  They sent me home with the trigger shot instructions, just in case they decided they wanted me to trigger before the next day.  She said it wasn't likely, but "just in case."

This was also my last day for high-impact exercise and sexy time. My nurse was explaining to me that if you jolt your enormous ovaries around too much they can flip upside down because they're so heavy - and if that happens, it's emergency surgery and bye bye to your ovaries. Yeah, you don't have to tell me not to exercise twice.  Not sure who would even want to exercise when they feel like bowling balls are about to drop out their crotch.  Except that she was telling me she had had women ask her if they can still do CrossFit.  Like, what?  Why?  Stop it.  Go eat a donut for hell's sake.

Day 9 of shots I had yet another ultrasound/bloodwork.  The ultrasound showed about the same as it had the last few days, with more of the follicles maturing.  They told me they'd call me later that day about my bloodwork and let me know if I needed to take my trigger shot, or continue my shots the next day and come in for a final ultrasound before my retrieval.

They certainly weren't kidding about the calling "later" part.  They finally decided to give me a jingle around 6 PM (on a Saturday) to let me know that my estrogen levels were "a little high" so I should plan to trigger that night - which was a day earlier than my calendar had said and a day earlier than I had with Eli's cycle.  Not only was I to trigger earlier than expected, they only wanted me using half the dosage that I'd normally use and that I had used with Eli's cycle.  Cue anxiety.  I had mixed emotions, because while, HOLY CRAP IT'S SO DIFFERENT FROM ELI'S CYCLE AND THAT CAN'T POSSIBLY BE GOOD NEWS, only taking half the dosage meant that the HCG wouldn't be in my system for as long as the full dosage.  (Imagine that.)  And that meant more accurate pee stick results SOONER.  And I can't complain about that.  As fun as fake positive lines are.  Full dosage usually hangs out for around 10ish days.  Which means half the dosage...

I had to take my trigger shot at a specific time that night, and we had plans to have dinner with my family at that time - and they had absolutely no idea we were doing IVF.  I had lied out my butt to get them to believe we were doing it in May, "when I'd be able to go full time and get the insurance."  Shawn's family had no idea either.  Fertility treatments sometimes take away some of the fun of being able to surprise people with a pregnancy - which is why we decided to keep it on the DL.  So I had to be sneaky about taking my shot.  Fortunately for me, when someone in my family disappears into the bathroom for 10 minutes, no one really asks questions.  Even so, I made sure that upon my return, I announced that I was totally constipated - you know, just in case anyone was getting suspicious of why I left in the middle of dinner.  Even though people camping out on the toilet in my family is totally not unheard of.  But neither is bowel movement dinnertime talk.  So, eh.

My egg retrieval was 36 hours after the trigger shot and I sat in the waiting room trying to find my zen and not freak out that they'd only manage to get two eggs out of me.  They got me all hooked up to an IV and got the anesthesia flowing and knocked me clean out.  I still think anesthesia is the most bizarre thing ever.  I remember saying in the post about Eli's cycle that they could have paraded me around that office buttarse naked and I would have been none the wiser.  You're just gone for a half hour and wake up to people telling you that you did a good job - because I'm at my most impressive when I'm passed the hell out, apparently.  I joked with the anesthesiologist about sending me home with some for later.  Because surely nothing could go wrong there.

They sent me into the "recovery room" with a nice warm blanket, and I suddenly remembered very clearly how sore my ovaries were after my egg retrieval with Eli's cycle.  Our doctor finally came in and let us know they had retrieved 34 eggs (when they're generally happy with 10-15) - and I was pretty shocked that they had gotten so many - it was only two less than we got with Eli's cycle.  So that was happy news.  She let us know we could expect to get about 3-6 good quality embryos out of the batch.  How's that for crap odds?  Like, seriously?  How the hell does anyone get pregnant ever?

A nurse came in and gave me my post-retrieval instructions - mainly that I was to start a vaginal progesterone suppository three times a day (groan) and that I needed to take it easy and not lift anything heavier than 20 pounds at the most - which, granted, was better than the "nothing heavier than a gallon of milk" I was told a few days earlier.  But still, I couldn't help but laugh as I looked at my 30+ pound children sitting in the room with me.  Surely Grace could just float in and out of her crib and high chair for the next few days.

As the day progressed, my ovaries got a lot more sore - to the point where I couldn't hardly walk like a normal human without waddling.  Not to mention the post-anesthesia constipation that set in. You go ahead and have your huge ass ovaries, that are three times their normal size, get poked 40+ times, then try and poop a poop that will never come and let me know how that feels.  I'd swear to you that I could almost hear my ovaries shrieking in horror.

Not too long after, it started to hurt when I'd take deep breaths - which is something that had happened with Eli's cycle as well. It was likely due to a mild case of OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) - which can happen when you more or less beat the hell out of your ovaries by making them produce way more eggs than is natural.  Basically the crapload of follicles that your ovaries can create when you stimulate them during an IVF cycle fill with fluid - and that fluid can start leaking into your stomach.  OHSS can get severe enough to send you to the hospital and have to cancel your cycle.  And obviously we didn't want that, so I made sure to drink enough Powerade to shave at least 5 years off my life and Saltine crackers for days.  Because that's what I did for Eli's cycle, and it all worked out then.  Oh, and the bloat?  The bloat was unreal.  I don't remember being nearly that bloated with Eli - but who really wants to remember not being able to fit in their pants?  The bloat lasted for weeks.  So that was fun.

They called the next morning with our fertilization report.  Of the 34 eggs they had retrieved, 24 of them were mature, and 21 of those fertilized with ICSI.  For comparison's sake, of the 36 eggs we retrieved during Eli's cycle, 34 of them were mature and 18 (of 24) of them fertilized with ICSI and 5 (of 10) fertilized the "normal" swimming around in a petri dish way.  So our total number of fertilized eggs actually ended up being around the same - but the fact that we injected the sperm into all my eggs this time seemed to help a lot - so that was good news.  They told me they'd call back on day 3 to let me know how everything was looking.

Later that day, my face started burning up.  Like, major hot flash status.  Except it had never happened before - not even during Eli's cycle - so I wasn't sure what the heck was happening.  My cheeks turned so red and my face was super warm to the touch - but I didn't have a fever.

I know.  I'm the prettiest.

I had assumed it was the surge of progesterone I now had thanks to the baby cannon pills I was now taking - but in good ol' crazy lady fashion, I still called and left my nurse a message just to make sure I wasn't dying.  She called back and let me know that, yes, it was normal, as long as I didn't get a fever over 100 - which I didn't.  And it didn't last much longer than that night, but was still random enough for me to include in this post that I'm still ticked about having to retype.

Day 3 after the retrieval rolled around - my birthday - and I sat around anxiously waiting for them to call.  I was sure they would call in the morning, which made my day so much longer when they didn't call until almost 5:30.  They had the cell break down of everything, which I was happy about - except that they hadn't given me cell breakdowns for Eli's cycle so I had nothing to compare it to.  Because clearly that's all I had done this cycle: compare it to Eli's.  They went on to tell me that they liked to have at least 6 cells by this point and nine of them were 6-cells, three were 7-cells, one was an 8-cell and two were 9-cells. (The more cells, the better, in theory.)  So that was 15 of the 21 that we started with that were on track and doing well. They said they'd still keep an eye on the other six which were: one at a 3-cell, three at a 4-cell, and two at a 5-cell - to see if any of them caught up.  So all in all it was great news.  Happy birthday to me!

Day 5 after the retrieval finally came - the day my doctor was going to put a baby in me.  

Also the day I got to take my Valium prescription.  I sat in the waiting room, anxious on about a thousand different levels, counting down the to the time when they'd tell me to take my chill out pill.  Usually they've had me take it right when we get there - a half hour early - and it had been 15 minutes already.  I went to the front desk and said, "So, Valium is fun. Can I take mine now?"  They realized that yes, it was time and I could go ahead and take it.  And if you haven't ever had the pleasure of visiting Valium town, I highly suggest it.

I felt a little more loopy on it this time than I remember being with Eli and Grace. Shawn said I kept giggling at everything.  And I felt like I was 100% moving in slow motion.  But I felt good, so I wasn't complaining. They led us back to the room where the magic happens and our doctor greeted us and let us know that we had four good embryos - and since we had transferred two with both Eli and Grace and ended up with a single baby, we could go ahead and do that again.  She said we could plan on having at least 2 frozen embryos, but that they'd keep an eye on the rest of them until the next day to see if they were freezable.  That was really relieving to know we'd have at least a few backup.  We had two backup embryos with Eli's cycle - and that's where Grace came from.  So hooray!

The top two boxes were our four good embryos and the bottom 
boxes were the rest of them that they were going to keep an eye on.
How's that for baby's first picture?

If you feel so inclined, here's a video of them dropping the two embryos into my uterus.  If you're not familiar with the procedure, it probably won't look like much - especially if you're watching the video on a computer. But you'll see a white catheter show up in between the two dark black spots, my doctor will count down from three and you can just barely see the little embryo bubbles drop in.

And for those of you who are like, um, what?  

See those two barely visible white dots?  Embryos.  Pretty crazy, right?

Anyways, as you can see, that took all of maybe one minute - in true baby making fashion.

Juuuuuuuust kidding. They sent me home with post-transfer instructions that included "Princess Days" for the following two days.  Which is basically what it sounds like - more or less, modified bed rest.  But I don't know if you've ever tried to take a "Princess Day" when you have a one year-old and a three year-old, but it's basically not a thing.  Fortunately the transfer was on a Saturday, so Shawn was able to be home all weekend and keep the kids out my hair.  After I went home, I took the epic post-Valium nap that always knocks me out for a few hours. I'd be lying if I said I didn't check to see if they put any refills on the Valium - which they didn't.  Sigh.

Eli, bless his heart, kept asking about the baby in my tummy and really wanted to see it.  We had told him during the transfer that they were trying to put a baby in there - because he was curious, and even though it would have been easy to make something up, I didn't feel like it.  So we had to be extra careful when he was around people, or he'd start blabbing about how mom has a baby in her belly - even before we knew if the embryo(s) actually implanted.  Fortunately, he always talked about babies in tummies, so I figured it was something we could talk our way out of easily enough.

The day after the transfer, I took a pregnancy test to see if the HCG from the trigger shot I had taken 7.5ish days ago was gone, like it should have been, but naturally there was still a really faint line, which totally annoyed me.

And I know half of you are probably like, um, no.  There's no line.  You're an idiot, woman.  But there is.  So there.  And no, it's impossible to get an actual positive that early after an embryo transfer.  So it was definitely still remnants of the shot that my body refuses to get rid of.

I eagerly awaited the call to hear how many embryos we'd have to freeze while I tried to rest as much as I could to keep the embryos from free falling out my lady.  Just kidding, that's impossible.  But it's crazy how much it feels like they're just going to drop out.  Or maybe I'm the crazy one.  But in any event, they finally called and told us we had five embryos to freeze!  FIVE!  I was so happy with that number, especially because it meant we'd likely never have to do another fresh IVF cycle again.  And frozen transfers are way less expensive than a fresh transfer.  (Still isn't free roll in the hay, but comparatively speaking to a fresh IVF cycle, I'll take it.)  In theory, that could give us at least three more tries in the future - and not knowing yet whether or not this cycle was going to work, it was incredibly comforting to know we had some good backups, just in case.

Two days after the transfer I got a pretty gnarly headache, which is something that had happened with Eli's cycle as well.  So I sat and tried not to overanalyze whether or not I was pregnant.  Can't say that was super successful, because I spent most my time perusing Google.  (Seriously, when I die, can someone please be in charge of deleting my Google history?  Hella embarrassing.)  I had decided that I wouldn't take another pregnancy test until at least 4 days after the transfer - which is when I had got a positive with Grace's cycle.  (I had gotten a positive with Eli's cycle at 5 days after.)  So I figured waiting a few more days would give the stupid trigger shot plenty of time to get the heck out.

Except that day 3 rolled around, and I couldn't help but pee on a stick - not because I thought I'd magically have a positive - even though Google women told me it was possible - I was more curious what the trigger shot was looking like.  Also, I just have a major problem - some might say addiction - with peeing on sticks.  The lines were more or less negative, which was good.  Now I knew anything darker than what I was seeing would be an actual YOU'RE PREGNANT line.

(And now, once again, I'll inundate you with pee sticks.)

Finally, day 4.  I ran to the bathroom to test and got this:

And again, you're probably all thinking that I'm insane and there's totally not a line there.  And if you're not seasoned at peeing on sticks, you probably won't see it.  Especially because the picture washed it out way more than it looked in person.  But it was "darker" than the test I had taken the day before (which is on top), so that had me hopeful.

The next morning I, again, rushed to the bathroom to take another test (on the bottom):

See!  I'M NOT CRAZY.  Also, I was indeed pregnant, and felt like I could cautiously celebrate.  And because I haven't already proven how much of a problem I have, I was peeing on these cheap tests I buy in bulk from Amazon to compare as well - because WHY NOT?  

6 days past transfer:

7 days past:

Okay guys, this is stupid.  We're skipping to the day of my blood test:

And there was much rejoicing.  10 days after my transfer, and I was stiiiiiill pregnant.  (The spaz test was because it didn't look darker than the one before and I'm a paranoid basket case.  So.)

My blood level ended up being 201 and now I felt even more officially pregnant.  I had to wait another 6 days to have a follow-up test to make sure my levels were rising appropriately - and that's the blood test I was most anxious for.  Fast forward to 6 days later, and my levels were at a whopping 3,928, which was perfect.  And although HCG levels aren't really an indication of multiples or not, I couldn't help but notice that my levels were a lot higher than Grace and Eli had been on the same day - and that my level fell within an "average" twin level.

At this point I was still working full time, and although I hadn't had an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy was all good yet, Shawn and I decided that it was finally time for me to quit my job at JetBlue and be an even more full time mom - something I've dreamed of being able to do my whole life. Leaving my job after 6 years was incredibly hard.  A lot harder than I would have expected.  Mostly because it was an awesome job working with awesome people, and that isn't easy to walk away from.  However, after praying about it, we knew it was the right decision.  So, for the first time in 13 years, I was officially unemployed.  It was incredibly weird at first - especially to be able to freely make plans without having to worry about work getting in the way - but it's all worked out and it's wonderfully exhausting to be able to spend all my time with my family.

I had to wait for almost three weeks to have my first ultrasound, which, sure isn't as long as most women have to wait for their first ultrasound, but it still felt extra brutal.  Especially because I was super curious if one or both had stuck.  We finally arrived at ultrasound day, and the ultrasound tech said she was going to look around for a minute to make sure she found everything, and finally told us that we had one beautiful little baby with a beating heart in there, and a wave of relief instantly washed over me.

Turns out that my cycle didn't have to be identical to Eli's cycle to result in a beautiful little bean with a beating heart.  Imagine that.

It was after this ultrasound that we finally told our parents.  It was Shawn's mom's birthday that day, and, hello, easiest present ever.  We had taken pictures of our kids for "Easter" a little bit after finding out initially that it had worked - and threw in some of these:

So we put all the pictures in albums for our parents and put these at the very end.  It took them a second to figure out, but they were both excited and that was fun for us.

We had our final "graduation" ultrasound with my fertility doctor about 3 weeks later, and everything still looked great.  I'd post pictures, but I'm pretty sure they're on Shawn's phone, and I'm ready for this post to be done.  About a week after that I had my first ultrasound with my OB, who was relieved to hear that it was only one baby.  When we told her we had transferred two embryos with each kid, she gasped and said, "HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU WANT?!"  And honestly, we'll take what we can get.  We feel incredibly fortunate that this worked out for us - financially, and otherwise.  We're incredibly blessed to have had three successful IVF cycles, especially when I know that there are so many women out there who struggle so much more than I ever have to have babies of their own.  Infertility is hard.  IVF is hard.  But I wouldn't take it back, because it's given me some pretty beautiful humans.


And if you're down here because you couldn't be bothered to waste hours of your life reading a long post that's more for more own memory's sake than anything, here's the mega-abridged version:

Once upon a time we wanted to have a third baby.  My job started offering insurance that would cover IVF.  Tried a cycle of Clomid, just in case.  Didn't work.  Cried.  Got over it.  Went full time and got fertility insurance.  Did a whole new IVF cycle and got pregnant.


As far as how the pregnancy is going, and all the typical questions people seem to have, I'll do my best to quickly get it all out there:

How far along are you?
I'm 14 weeks.

When are you due?
November 20th - day after Shawn's birthday. However I fully expect it to be at least a week earlier than that, because - woo woo - inductions.  (My OB told me she's going to have me start progesterone shots at 16 weeks to make sure this one doesn't decide to surprise us a month early a la Grace.)

Do you have any feelings if it's a boy or girl?  What are you hoping for?
Honestly, now that we already have one of each - it's a toss up.  I'd be okay either way, but find myself referring to "it" as a she.  So if I had to choose, I'd probably say that I feel and hope that it's a girl - not for any particular reason other than I think it would be nice for Grace to have a sister close in age to her and we have a girl name picked out.  Boy names are a completely different story.  But I'd be perfectly happy either way.  As long as it's one gender or the other and I don't have to choose.  We should find out in the next few weeks, because I'm certainly not patient enough to wait until the anatomy scan - or birth, for that matter.

How have you been feeling?
The nausea and exhaustion seemed to start pretty early for me - but fortunately it was just nausea, no puking - similar to both Eli and Grace.  The nausea seemed to subside for the most part a few weeks ago.  I still get waves of it here and there, but it's not too bad.  The exhaustion, on the other hand, seems to have gotten intensely worse.  I've been so. damn. tired.  And, sure, I would imagine that a lot of that is because I have two other kids running around.  But it's definitely felt a lot more crippling this time around than I remember it being with the other two.  I'm hoping that within the next few weeks I'll get that second trimester boost of energy.

Have you had any cravings?
Besides naps?  Not particularly.  Certain days at certain times I'll really want something - but it changes day to day.  And sometimes even by the time I get what I've wanted all day.  So that's good times for Shawn.

Okay, that's it, right?  I'm pretty sure this post has covered everything and then some.  We're all crazy excited and grateful for this little nugget - especially Eli, who asks daily for me to take it out so he can see it.  All in good time, kid.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Because Everyone Loves a Good Birth Story

And by everyone, I mean the cool kids.  So, welcome.  The miracle of life sure is something.  The miracle of me finding more than 5 seconds of free time to sit on my arse and blog about the miracle life is something else entirely.  You wouldn't believe the list of things getting trumped by my blog at the moment.  Showering.  Napping.  Mopping our gross tile.  Cleaning out our car.  Organizing a multitude of OCD flare-up drawers and closets.  Heck, even changing the sweats I've been wearing for 3 days.  But, eh.  We'll see how far I can get before one of my offspring decides they need food.  Or a clean butt.  Or to chase the dog around with a plastic shovel.  The good news is that this birth story shouldn't be nearly as long as my first.  I mean, I say that now, but I'll probably still manage to make just as long of a blog post (ETA: Yeah, I did.), even though I was only pushing a human out my crotch for a fraction of the time I was the first time around.

Anyways, moving right along.  It was December 14th and I was 35 weeks and 2 days when I had a normal check-up with my doctor.  I go into the room and they tell me that my doctor's going to go ahead and do the Group B strep test today.  Not thinking I'd have to take off my pants until the next week, I was immediately and inexplicably overcome with embarrassment about the wookiee I had hiding down there.  And yes,  I'm fully aware that my vagina doctor has likely seen bajingos in a lot worse shape than mine was, but that didn't make me any more proud of the luscious pube forest I had burgeoning down under.  (How's the for a colorful mental image?  You're welcome.)  The nurse tells me to disrobe from the waist down as she hands me a giant paper towel sheet to cover myself with.  A sheet which, as usual, I manage to rip in 8 different places with my wedding ring while I wait awkwardly bare-assed on the table.

My doctor comes in nice and cheerful and we engage in the usual pre-exam pleasantries.  Admittedly, I didn't really remember what this "Group B strep test" involved - I just assumed that it was PAP smear-ish, so instead of worrying about having medical equipment jammed up my love tunnel, I was still obsessively worrying about her seeing my copious amounts of lady fur.  As soon as I'm laid back with knees in separate counties and my lack of crotch grooming habits on display, I immediately launch into an apologetic explanation of the glorious vaginal mess she was witnessing.  I tell her that I was waiting for the perfect time to get waxed, where it wasn't so early that it would already have grown back by the time I gave birth, but not so late that my kid would have to journey through the vaginal thicket to get to fresh air.  She laughed and said, "I don't think I've ever heard anyone put it that way before."  Yeah, probably because no one has.  I'm just a psychotic basket case.  Anyways.  As I was mentally giving myself a reminder to schedule a wax for that week, I was very suddenly reminded what the Group B test involved as she shoved some kind of swab up the ol' poop chute.  Good times.

After taking our relationship to the next level, she went elbow deep into baby town to see if I had progressed at all.  She tells me that I'm a "1+ to 2 and 60% effaced" which, while I was glad that something was happening, I wasn't expecting for that to progress much further any time soon.  She tells me she can feel baby's head, and that up to this point, she hadn't really been concerned about how big the baby was, but "feeling around [she wasn't] so sure anymore".  She commented that baby girl seemed pretty tall.  Tall, I can do.  Big is a much different and way more traumatizing story.  She let me know that we were at the point that if I were to go into labor on my own, they wouldn't try and stop it.  She followed that up by asking me if I wanted an elective induction at 39 weeks, and I'm not sure that my immediate "YES, PLEASE" could have been any more enthusiastic if I had tried.  I was due on January 16th, and because I'd be 39 weeks on a Saturday when my doctor wouldn't be on call, she was going to schedule the induction for January 11th.  It still seemed like forever away, but it was nice to have an actual, concrete end in sight.

Early the next morning (the 15th), I could not stop shivering to save my life.  It wasn't just a quick little shiver here and there, it was full on, non-stop shaking for a good solid 10-15 minutes.  I was pretty sure I was probably sporting a pretty good fever and managed to eventually stop shivering and fall back asleep.  When I woke up again, my body felt weak and sore all over.  As I was walking around, I felt more pressure downtown than I was used to feeling.  It wasn't the, "I have to push NOW" type of pressure, obviously.  More like a "this kid's head is resting on something down there that isn't holding it properly and she may or may not fall out of my vagina" type pressure.  (If only child birth were that simple.)  

The morning went on and my back was on fire and I kept having random sharp pains from down under.  I suddenly wished I knew what an actual contraction felt like, for comparison's sake. The only contractions I felt with Eli were the few that happened when my epidural started wearing off.  And, naturally, those were immediately repressed into the dumps of my memory.  I did notice that this pain, although bearable and not incredibly intense, would get a little worse and then randomly subside.  I wasn't sure if it was just how the baby was positioned, or if it was maybe contractions.  I decided to time the random waves of pain as best as I could - even though it wasn't super obvious when it was starting and stopping.  I managed to time some that were happening ever 5 or 6 minutes and lasting about a minute, and I was fairly certain that they were actual contractions.

My doctor always ends each appointment telling me when I should call in versus when I should skip the call and go straight to Labor & Delivery.  "Scary contractions" or "More than 4-5 contractions in an hour" were some of the "go straight to L&D" qualifiers.  The supposed contractions I was having weren't necessarily "scary", but I had definitely had more than 4 or 5 in an hour.  Even though I felt super dumb, I called and left a message for my nurse about the fever and figured I could casually slip in that I was having some random pain down yonder to see what they'd say.

While I waited for the nurse to call me back, I kept stressing about whether or not I needed to go to the hospital.  And then subsequently stressing about all the crap I needed to do before baby made her grand entrance into the world.  Like, you know, get waxed.  I decided to take a shower to see if that would stop the contractions, and while it mostly seemed to stop the waves of pain, I still had a pretty constant, unpleasant ache going on.  Probably a 6ish on my completely weak scale of pain.  The nurse finally called back and more or less told me to just treat the fever with "comfort measures" and if the contractions didn't subside with rest/shower/bath/etc., to go into L&D.  Even with the contractions more or less subsided, I still felt pretty weak and useless to do much else.  Shawn, bless his heart, cleaned the entire house while I was curled in bed drinking a crapload of water to make sure the contractions didn't come back.  I felt pretty weak, exhausted, and just all around crappy.

The next morning I had another episode of the "shivers".  Except it was a lot worse than the previous day.  I was shaking uncontrollably to the point where I couldn't even pick Eli up.  I was worthless to the world, and I could not make it stop.  I piled several blankets on top of myself and tried to make them stop.  When that wasn't working as quickly as I needed it to, I called Shawn and through sobs and rapid breathing told him I had a fever, I couldn't stop shaking, and he needed to come home.  You can imagine how quickly that got him home.  After standing in the shower for 25 minutes, I finally was able to stop shaking.  My lady garden was still hurting like a female dog though, and I decided that I should probably go into the hospital, if anything, just to make sure that all the shaking and the fever weren't adversely affecting the baby.  I figured I probably wasn't in labor, but needed the peace of mind that my baby was okay.

When I got to the hospital, they hooked me up to all the machines to monitor the baby.  Again, I find myself apologizing to the nurse for the untamed va-chia pet that was ravaging my loins.  (And seriously, I don't know why I feel the compulsive need to apologize for the condition of my cookie to medical professionals that literally look at them all. day. long.)  Anyways.  Gratefully all was well with Grace.  Her heart rate was a little elevated, but still within the "normal range."  I, obviously, had a fever and my doctor decided to have them do a flu swab to see if I had the flu, or if it was just some other random virus.  And if you've never had the pleasure of enduring one of those, they basically take a freakishly long cu-tip and shove it up your nose all the way to your brain and leave it there for 10 seconds.  I'd take a butt hole swab over the flu swab any day.  Anyways.  We waited for what felt like forever to get the test results back.  In reality, it was probably more like 2.5-3 hours.  In that time, however, my contractions started to pick up.  Up to that point, the little contraction monitor hadn't really registered much of anything, which made me feel ridiculous and like I didn't know what the hell my body was doing.  My nurse had told me that the pain I had been feeling down there was likely just my ligaments freaking out when Grace moved.  She didn't seem overly concerned about that, or the contractions I was sure I was having.

Towards the last hour that we were waiting for the test results, my contractions picked up even more consistently, and I finally shifted around to see if I could get the monitor to show anything, or if I really was just mental. As soon as I had shifted around, the monitor finally started picking up the contractions.  They weren't all that big on the monitor which, according to the nurse, didn't mean much, because it was an external monitor.  But nevertheless, I felt pretty vindicated with physical evidence that I was indeed having contractions.

The bottom line are the contractions.  (Top is Grace's heart rate.)

They finally came back with the test results and told me that I had the "coronavirus", which is pretty much the fancypants science way of saying, "Hey, you have a cold."  They told me it should fade after a few days.  You know, like a cold.  I made sure to call the nurse's attention to the contraction monitor before they booted us out of the hospital.  I confirmed with her that they were indeed contractions.  Even though by this point, they were painful enough that I didn't need a monitor to tell me they were contractions.  I cracked a joke at one point about getting an epidural to go, to which she responded I could go home and take some Tylenol.  Because that's the same.  I didn't bother mentioning that this particular brand of lady pain would likely be completely impervious to the vain efforts of freaking Tylenol.  She decided to do an internal exam, just to make sure Grace wouldn't fall out of my body on our way to back to the car.  I was still just somewhere between a 1 and a 2.  She gave me the, "You're fine, this is just normal false labor stuff that'll go away in a few hours" speech.

Yeah.  It didn't.

I decided that I'd make use of our amazing, giant bathtub when we got home to see if that would ease up the apparently "false" contractions I was having.  Shawn barely got it halfway filled before we ran out of hot water for no damn reason.  I tried to get in to see if I could still make it work.  And then the make-shift drain plug we were using (because ours is apparently broken) failed.  Probably because our idea of a make-shift drain plug is shoving one of Eli's plastic balls down the drain.  So, here I am, flopping around like a damn beached whale trying to get my enormous, naked body completely submerged in as much lukewarm water as possible while the tub is slowly draining.  All the while, cursing like a sailor through the contractions that weren't even kind of letting up.  I finally gave up on  what was literally the worst bath I've ever tried to take.

Again, I curled up into fetal position in bed and continued to wait for this "normal" pain to subside, like the nurse had been so sure it would.  After a bit, the contractions finally started to slow down a bit.  As in, they were closer to 5ish minutes apart, instead of 2-3 minutes.  Even with that brief moment of relief that the nurse was right, I asked Shawn to give me a blessing that this TOTALLY NORMAL FALSE LABOR wouldn't kill me.  The good news is that I'm still alive.  Yay.  The less great news is that I haven't gotten a full night of sleep since then.

Just when I thought the contractions were maybe starting to slow down, they came back just as quickly and with more vengeance than ever before.  It was mother lovin' BIRTHQUAKE CENTRAL up in this bi.  I tried my best to breathe through each one, but some how my breaths managed to come out full of expletives.  I paced around.  Tried sitting and laying in different positions.  All the while, Shawn was blissfully unaware of the R-rated scene unfolding in our bedroom, as he had ear plugs shoved clear to his brain so my pregnant snoring wouldn't keep him up.  I got in the shower to see if that would help at all.  I spent a solid 45 minutes in there.  I'd sit.  I'd stand.  I'd almost fall asleep until I felt the next contraction start to ramp up.  My breathing/swearing/moaning must have finally gotten loud enough to penetrate the depths of Shawn's ear holes, because he finally woke up and was like, "Are you dying?"  Trying to lighten the mood, every time a contraction would hit, he'd yell, "PUUUUUUUSH!" Fortunately for him, it was fairly amusing at the time.

At around 2 or 3 in the morning, I went to the bathroom and there was a bunch of blood.  I've always read in the crazy pregnant lady forums about the "bloody show" that happened prior to labor, but didn't really know much about it.  I did recall that my doctor said that if I had any bleeding, I should go straight to L&D.  So, between that and the unforgiving birthquakes,  I decided to call L&D to see if they'd give me any hints as to whether or not I should come in.  They told me the bleeding may just be from the internal exam I had had when I was there earlier and more or less said, "Well, if you feel like you should come in, then you should come in."  YOU DON'T MOTHER FLUFFING SAY.  I decided to just wait it out, partially because I didn't want to have to wake up either our families during the butt crack of night to watch Eli and partially because I didn't want to be the woman that cried LABOR and ran to the hospital only to be shooed out the door again.

I spent the next 5 hours wide awake and hunched over in pain.  By the time 7am rolled around, I finally decided that I needed to go to the hospital.  I was convinced that there was no way that I just stayed up all night long swearing at my uterus all in the name of false labor.  That said, I apparently still couldn't be bothered to make myself look even remotely presentable, let alone pack a hospital bag.  All I could focus on were the contractions.  And when I wasn't having a contraction, I was dreading the next one.

We dropped Eli off with my mother in law and headed over to the hospital.  The contractions were at a nice steady 2-3 minutes apart.  Every time the car went over a bump, I was sure my uterus was going to explode.  When we got to the front desk, I hurried and grabbed a mask to avoid the "Mask up, bitch" glare I had gotten from the front desk lady the day before, and collapsed into a chair.  (A mask I'd end up having to wear the entire time I was in the hospital.  So. Annoying.)  Luckily, they were able to take me back pretty quickly and hook me up to all the stuff.  Again.  Part of me felt ridiculous for even being there.  But the other majority part of me didn't give two craps because I was in pain, dammit.  The nurse came in and I explained to her that I had been having consistent, painful contractions for the last 15 hours and that it'd be super cool if she could make it stop.  She grabbed some gloves and was down checking my still unwaxed cha-chi when I hear her say, "Looks like you get to stay with us, you're at a 5 and 90%."  Then a bunch of angels started singing the Hallelujah chorus.  But it sounded more like, "EEEEEEPIDURAL. EEEEEEPIDURAL.  epiDURAL.  epiDURAL.  EPIIIIDUUUUURAAAAALLLLLL."

The sheer joy of knowing I'd be able to stay was quickly replaced with, well, another contraction, and then completely panicked thoughts of, "Holy crap.  I'm having a baby.  Today.  I'M NOT READY TO HAVE A BABY TODAY.  MY VAGINA IS STILL A MESS. I DON'T EVEN HAVE MY HORSE HEAD."  (For the record, that was literally the first thing we told my little sister to grab from our house to bring over.  Not clothes for the baby.  Not a toothbrush.  Not a phone cord.  A HORSE HEAD.  Priorities, people.)  

We called our families to tell them that, surprise, we're having a baby.  And I texted our photographer that I totally understood if she couldn't make it, because it was super last minute, but that we were at the hospital.  (And, bless her heart, she dropped everything and found somewhere for all her kids to be and came over super fast.)   The anesthesiologist came pretty quickly and I couldn't have been any happier to see him.  He cautioned me to hold still, because you know, he didn't want to paralyze me.  The process of getting the epidural was just about as not fun as I remember it being from Eli, but I didn't even care, because DRUGS.

For some reason they still hadn't gotten the results of the Group B butt swab that my doctor had done earlier in the week, so they told me they were going to treat me as if it were positive and put some penicillin in my IV.  Some of my family showed up to come hang out with us and bring Shawn some food.  After about an hour and a half, they came and checked me again and I was still at a 5.  The nurse left the room and came back after a little bit and told me that the doctor on call (because mine was out of the office for a few hours) said that because I was still so early, they didn't want to do anything to progress my labor and if I hadn't progressed on my own in the next 2-3 hours, they may just send me home.  ACCA-SCUSE ME?!  I immediately started panicking about getting my epidural taken away, much less having to go back home while I'm dilated to a 5 and almost completely effaced.  Did they WANT me giving birth on my kitchen floor?!  I immediately started pep talking/threatening my vagina to do her damn job.

The next several hours were pretty uneventful.  It reminded me a lot of all the waiting around we did when I was induced with Eli.  Although at least that waiting wasn't overshadowed by the sheer dread that they might rip my drugs away and send me home.  At one point during the waiting, my actual doctor showed up and explained, again, that they didn't want to do anything to further progress my labor and if my lady didn't cooperate, they'd take away my epidural and send me upstairs.  Now, upstairs is better than back home.  But they were still threatening to take away my drugs which made me feel a little stabby.  Even with the epidural, I was still feeling contractions.  Not nearly as bad as before I had drugs coursing through my body - but I could definitely feel them, more on one side than the other.  And it wasn't for a lack of me pressing the magic "MORE DRUGS" button or switching which side I was laying on.

My epidural continued to progressively stop working and the contractions were getting worse as I waited.

And worse.

And worse.

Around 2, the moment of truth arrived in the form of my nurse gloving up to check my progress.  The first thing I heard my nurse say from down there was, "Well, there's your bloody show.  Something's happening down there."  She told me I was at an 8 and fully effaced.  They decided they were okay to go ahead and break my water.  Oh, you mean you don't want to SEND ME HOME?!  Grumble.  It was going to be go time soon, and I was ready to have the contractions over with.  They were trying to get the epidural re-filled, or something at this point.  I honestly don't even remember.  All I remember is that the nurse didn't sound like she knew what the hell she was doing and kept paging random people to figure out some kind of code?  Meanwhile, I was feeling the contractions pretty full force at this point.  

My doctor came in around 3ish to deliver the baby and saw me clinging to the bed rail for dear life and asked if I wanted the anesthesiologist to come back and re-dose me.  I nodded an emphatic yes.  He came and gave me another dose and said it should be working in about 5ish minutes?  (Or some other amount of time.  Heck if I can remember.)  I do remember that it still wasn't completely working when he said it would be, and I was starting to panic about having to feel a baby rip through my loins.  Like Eli, Grace was posterior as well.  So they had me lay in a funky position for a bit to try and get her to flip.

As I was getting close to delivery time, my nurse asked me if I wanted the drug man to come back and I told her if it was an option, I'd take all the drugs they'd give me.  He came back pretty quickly and gave me some super drug that totally deadened my legs and while I could still feel the contractions a little but it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been.  It came time to start pushing, and I honestly couldn't even tell if I was even pushing the right way.  The doctor assured me that I was doing just fine.  Which, in my mind, translated as, "Yeah, you're crapping on the table. Atta girl!"  After a couple pushes, I got totally emotional out of no where.  I couldn't stop thinking about Eli and how he wasn't going to be my only baby anymore and I was worried about how he'd handle everything.  I was worried about everything being okay with my month-early baby as the NICU team stood in the background ready to whisk her away.  And I was just really, really tired.

I pushed for about 3 or 4 sets and she finally flipped and after a couple more pushes...

 It took her what felt like an eternity to cry - but really, was only probably a couple seconds.  And as soon as she did, I was sobbing.  The NICU team took her over to the table to measure her and all that stuff.  She was 6'13 and 20 inches long - which, for a baby that was a month early, is pretty good-sized.  When my doctor pulled her out, she was pretty surprised at how big she was.  She easily could have been a 9-10 pounder had I gone full term, or even to 39 weeks.  So, thanks for that, Grace.  I managed to get away with a teeny tiny 1st degree tear (which has made recovery stuff incredibly more comfortable than it was with Eli.)

They brought her back to me and let me just hold her and do skin-to-skin for about 45 minutes before they took her to the NICU to monitor her.

She passed all her NICU "milestones" like a champ, and was back to me later that night in all her perfect, newborn splendor.

Ever since I got pregnant with Grace, I had a pretty strong feeling that she'd come early.  I always just figured that was just me hoping she'd come a little early, so I didn't have to wait as long.  I never expected her to be a whole month early.  Turns out my momtuition is pretty on point.  I thank God every day that it all turned out alright, and that she was and continues to be perfectly healthy.  Eli is the cutest with her and has acclimated just fine to having a little sister.  I'm pretty darn grateful for my little family.  As I think back on how hard we fought to get these kids here, I can't help but feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude and love for both of them.  I am so unbelievably blessed to be a mother.  It's everything I've ever hoped for and then some.  And because it's starting to sound like I'm about to break out into song, let's go ahead and end this ridiculously long post with a nice little video of BIRTH.  Weeeeeee!