PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TOUCHDOWN!

First and foremost, I’m so sorry for the delay in updating the blog. The last week has been a rollercoaster of activity and emotions. HOWEVER, I’m happy to report that MJ is home safe and sound. As you can see from the picture, he went from the lone 8-cell embryo from my third IVF (to review, I had 13 eggs but only ONE embryo to transfer) to the beautiful baby you see next to the photo. It was important to me that the first picture I posted acknowledged infertility and/or IVF in some way as without it, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to hold a baby in my arms. Yaaay modern science!!!


Secondly, after the last sad, scared, worrisome blog posting, I wanted to share with you two little lighter moments in the last week.

1.       The first night we brought MJ home, we had him in the bassinet portion of a Pack-n-Play. My husband, who clearly had other things on his mind what with both of us in the hospital, forgot to get batteries to make the Pack-n-Play vibrate. In a desperate effort, I found one of my vibrators (the Pocket Rocket to be specific, which I highly recommend) and tucked it away in the bassinet. I’m happy to report that it did the trick. I’m even happier to report that my husband, totally mortified by my “MacGyver-like-approach”, made certain to get the D batteries needed the very next morning.

2.       I didn’t realize the nursing pads were supposed to stick to the bra so for a good week, I’ve been sticking them directly to my breast. Lord only knows what the nurses in the NICU thought when they saw this. Although this was NOT how they were intended and although I feel like a total idiot, I do feel I inadvertently stumbled on a new design as sticking them to my breast kept them from slipping. I’m an idiot genius.
The Readers Digest version of the last week goes like this: MJ was officially diagnosed with Persistent Newborn Pulmonary Hypertension. This is defined as the failure of the normal circulatory transition that should occur after birth (you can read more about it here).  He was intubated, given proteins to help build up his lungs, closely monitored and he had both an arterial line and central line put in.

Since I got kicked out of the hospital, we booked the cheapest hotel room nearby and basically went back and forth from the hospital to the hotel. Although the hotel was not anywhere you'd want to steal soap or towels from, it was good for me as I could rest and recover when I needed to but be no more than a five minute walk away so that I could go visit my son whenever possible. It was REALLY F*CKING DIFFICULT to leave without him but I knew he was in good hands and more than anything, I wanted him to be where he could be given the best care.
His progress really started when one night, he peed a whole bunch and MJ’s doctors were super excited about this. They said that was him losing excess fluid from his lungs. Who knew peeing and lungs were at all connected???
Then, the next day, they took him off of the intubation (still giving him oxygen support to be safe) plus they also removed the arterial line. Luckily, he responded well. His respiration, heart rate and blood pressure all started improving so we then saw if he knew how to eat/suck from a bottle. After he passed that test, they removed all breathing support and we tried breastfeeding. Like any man, he was all about the boobs, so they removed the central line, which had been feeding him up until this point. After morning rounds on Sunday, February 5th, we were told we could take him home.

Obviously, there’s more to share but at present, I’m in that whole, “Holy sh*t! I have a baby and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing phase”. Today is actually my first day with him alone and I hope it goes smoothly and doesn’t become something that he needs to talk to his therapist about.

I just want to say again how much I’ve sincerely appreciated all of your thoughtful, encouraging, kind posts and emails during this time. To be honest, I’m a little shell shocked from the past couple of weeks. Weeks? Who am I kidding! YEARS! Infertility, financial strain, emotional strain, a difficult pregnancy, a last minute C-Section and then the baby having to be in the NICU. I’m beginning to think I need an exorcism.

The thing is that you guys have been here with me through it all and for that, I’ll never be able to repay you. You’ve been my virtual form of Prozac and you have found my uterus as challenging and funny as I do. You are my kind of people and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beautiful Baby. Empty Arms.

I’m absolutely overjoyed and proud to share with you that our baby was born on Friday, January 27th in the early afternoon. He weighs 6 pounds, 9 ounces and I swear to you – he really is beautiful. A perfectly round head that would give Charlie Brown a run for his money, deep blue eyes (from his father), dark brown hair (from his mother) and the meatiest most kissable legs you’ve ever seen. My mother said she’s never seen a baby with such cute knees! Who knew a baby could even be complimented on his knees??? Several of the nurses and doctors have even said that he is an exceptionally handsome baby and when I say, “I’m sure you say that to everyone!”, they promise me they don’t. Even if they are lying, I don’t care. I think he’s gorgeous.

The unfortunate news is that he’s been in the NICU since he was born. I was only able to hold him for approximately 20 seconds before having to hand him over. He’s been in this world for five days now and I haven’t held him again since. I can’t even begin to express how much that has hurt me. I’ve never known such torture.

Despite the fact that the baby was born at 37 weeks and is a good size, his lungs weren’t quite ready for the real world. He can breathe on his own but it’s a lot of work for him. He has both amniotic fluid and air pressure in his lungs so he’s been intubated (which scared the crap out of me but was necessary), he’s been given both medication and a protein to help him build up his lungs, he’s had a central line put in for nourishment (which also scared the crap out of me) and he’s being closely monitored 24/7.
I had hoped that my first post after having my baby would be nothing but a funny, happy one. I do have a few anecdotes from the day he was born as well as some of the events leading up to it but it feels wrong to share them now as the only thing I care about is getting my baby well and back in my arms.
After spending so long trying to get pregnant, many have said to me that infertiles appreciate their baby so much more because they had to work for it. I was also at a baby shower recently of a good friend who got pregnant after struggling as well and I heard a friend of hers say, “It makes sense that after all her struggling to get pregnant, she’s had such an idyllic pregnancy.” Considering those two statements, I can’t help but feel a little pissed off right now. I went through a lot to get pregnant and no one could appreciate or love this baby more than I do and even after all my struggling, I had a fairly difficult pregnancy filled with morning sickness, gestational diabetes, vertigo, a stress fracture, cholestasis and a rushed C-Section. I would have hoped that the universe would have seen it fit to spare me from now having to see my baby hooked up to a million tubes struggling to breathe. I've already learned the 'life isn't fair' lesson. Seriously… can’t any of this ever be easy? Just one part at least? When is enough enough? Yes, it’s a pity party but thanks to my husband who brings me food often, it’s well catered.
I do apologize if that at all seems ungrateful as I truly don’t mean it to be. Every time I see him or get to touch him, the word ‘grateful’ doesn’t even begin to cover what I feel. Nothing is more important to me than him. I have never known I could feel so much love for one little person and the slightest sign from him that he’s ok or that he knows I’m there is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever known. It’s just that we all have our breaking point to how much strength and humor we can have… and I’m officially close to mine. It’s been a long, crazy road where there have been more than a few times where I’ve had to adjust my sense of what is “normal” and I was hoping to at least have the typical birthing experience where you hold the baby, have him sleep in your hospital room, learn to nurse and bond with your baby while the proud father takes pictures. Instead, I’m bringing people to a room where they see my baby and start to cry because it all looks so scary. I’m alone in my room at night listening to someone else next door comfort their baby. All my pictures of our son, he has a tube coming out of his mouth and he’s sedated. And the worst part, I have to be careful how I even touch him as they don’t want him agitated or it will affect his breathing.
I’ve waited so long for this and dammit, I just want my baby happy, healthy and home.
Many who have known what’s been going on have sent me links, emails, posts and texts about “kangaroo care” and that’s where the mother having skin-to-skin contact helps heal the baby. I just want to say now that BELIEVE ME, that’s not possible in this case. Even though I know people are trying to be helpful, the fact that everyone keeps bringing this up as a possibility just upsets me. The NICU my son is in is considered one of the top ones in the country. They are well aware of this care (which is more for preemies than full term babies) but they have advised me that it would be incredibly difficult especially with the amount of tubes and wires he’s hooked up to monitoring him. Right now, it is what it is and we just have to wait until he turns a corner. As soon as he does, I am going to hold him and probably won’t let him go until he’s off to college.
As of this moment, I’m about to go downstairs and see how he’s doing today. They have begun to lower his oxygen (which is a good sign), they say his lungs are healing and he’s breathing a little calmer so this is all encouraging. That being said though, I’m getting kicked out of the hospital today but he will have to remain here for an indeterminate time. Even though I’m immediately checking into a hotel nearby, I know I will have an emotional breakdown when I leave. Even as I type this, I’m beginning to cry as the thought of leaving without him is almost too much to bear.
So, this isn’t the post I had envisioned but if you’ve been following my blog for a while, this is yet again another challenge I didn’t want or expect but have to deal with. I will post pictures once he’s more presentable and in case you were wondering, we named him Michael Jay (the second name may sound familiar) and from what I’ve been told, all the nurses in the NICU have been calling him M.J. which I think is pretty adorable.
In closing, if you wouldn’t mind, please keep our son in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. It would mean the world to me. And as always, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your love and support. This has been a tough, emotional time and it’s a great comfort to know others are thinking of us.