Tag Archives: IVF

Daphne’s birth story

2 Jul

Meeting our daughter Daphne for the first time

Our daughter Daphne was born at 12:08 on June 25th, making all of our dreams come true. For those interested in the nitty gritty of childbirth, here’s a short account of her birth story.

I started having mild contractions last Saturday night. By 10:00 pm, they were painful enough that I knew the real deal was about to begin. I took my midwife’s advice to take a combination of Gr.avol and Ty.lenol to try and take the edge off and sleep. No such luck. Every time I laid down to rest, another contraction began. They were sporadically spaced out, but painful enough that I needed to change position and get Caitlyn to press on pressure points and push on my lower back. I was up all night. We called the midwife at 4 am and she suggested more Gr.avol in another attempt to rest. Cait ran out to a 24 hour pharmacy, because it turns out that the stuff I had taken earlier had expired in 2009.

Once again, the drugs had no effect. By 7 am, we called the midwife to come to our house, as well as Caro, our amazing doula/student midwife (more on her heroism in my next post). She sent Caitlyn to sleep for a couple of hours and quickly took over administering comfort measures. She encouraged me to moan, bounce on a yoga ball, and shift position periodically. When our midwife Sarah arrived, contractions were roughly five minutes apart, but I I still had a sense of humour and could maintain a conversation in between. After listening to the baby’s heartbeat a couple of times and observing me for a couple of hours, she told me that I was on the cusp of active labour and had quite a while to go. She left to do a post-natal visit with another client and told Caro to call her when things picked up.

And boy did things pick up. By the time the midwife returned at 11am, I was in the bathtub, moaning incomprehensibly. My contractions were closer together and I started to feel pressure on my bottom. The midwife measured me in the bath and she told me I was at eight centimetres — when she had checked me three hours before, I had only been at three. It was time to make a critical decision — to go to the hospital as planned, or stay put and give birth at home. At that point, I couldn’t imagine moving, so we decided to stay at home. Caro and Sarah snapped into gear, setting up our bedroom with various delivery items, towels, and bed pads. It all swirled around me as I moaned through contractions.

But after a while, I got out of the bath and something changed. The contractions were suddenly sharp and much more painful, mainly focused in my back. Our theory now is that the baby flipped posterior at that point, so the excruciating pain I experienced was due to back labour. We made the decision to have the midwife break my waters (which was agonizing). She also did another examination … and announced that I was only at seven centimetres — her bath-time examination was somewhat inaccurate. At that point (about 3:00 pm), I decided to invoke the safe word and request an epidural. I had reached the limit of my pain threshold, and the knowledge that transition was far away was enough to convince me that I needed a break.

So in a split second, Caitlyn threw last-minute items in the hospital bag, I waddled out the door (mid contraction) and we made it to the hospital in eight minutes flat (with the doula driving, thank goodness). And then we waited over an hour for the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. I kept praying, “please let this be the last contraction that I have to feel.” I was not so lucky. But once the needle was in my back, I finally relaxed and slept for a couple of hours. The midwife administered a drug to augment my labour and open my cervix. Caitlyn went out to pick up Chinese food for our birth team. I sipped ginger ale and rested.

By 9:00 pm, the midwife declared that I was fully dilated and I started pushing around 9:45 pm. After a much-needed break, I suddenly got so excited. I was going to meet our baby! But the pushing was physically taxing and started to take a long time. Our midwife became concerned that the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating, so she brought in two OBs for a consult. They told me that we needed to get her out soon, but that they much preferred that she be delivered vaginally. I was so relieved. We agreed to a brief transfer of care to the OBs, so they could administer forceps or suction if necessary. But everyone agreed to allow me to push for as long as possible, as I was making good progress getting her to descend into my pelvis.

The next hour was a blur of breathing, pushing and taking sips of apple juice. The midwives and a labour and delivery nurse got me to change positions and talked me through each contraction. As the clock struck midnight , I was starting to lose stamina. The OBs came in and told me that it was time to meet my baby. One Herculean push and a little help from a vacuum brought our daughter into the world.

Our sweet baby Daphne was born at 12:08 am on Monday morning. I started sobbing hysterically, asking “is she okay?” Caitlyn got to cut the cord, but the doctors whisked the baby away to be suctioned. I was disappointed that they didn’t put her on my chest right away. But Caitlyn and our doula followed her and kept calling out to tell me how beautiful she was. “A full head of red hair … she’s cute, we swear …” A few minutes later, they brought her over to me. She was wide-eyed and alert, staring right into my eyes. And our whole world changed in an instant.

The first week has been a challenging one. I’ll write more about it soon, but we have been having some significant problems establishing nursing. Still, Daphne is thriving on my pumped milk and is almost back to her birth weight, a week later. We are learning to function on little sleep as we pinch ourselves and stare at the beautiful creature we created — from scratch! Life is pretty sweet right now.

Hello bright eyes! We’ve been waiting for you.

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Six months!

6 Mar

This is what 24 weeks — or six months (!) pregnant looks on me. Not too shabby. I am grateful to be feeling well and to have picked up this fabulous frock.

The other side

4 Mar

As of Tuesday, I will be 24 weeks pregnant. That’s six months. I am now at a point that I didn’t even allow myself to dream about at the beginning of this pregnancy. My milestones included getting from the first ultrasound to hearing the heartbeat and 12 weeks, and then to the 19 week anatomy scan, and then to when I would finally feel fetal movements. And now all of those things have happened and I appear to be having a totally textbook, uncomplicated, normal pregnancy. It’s actually been quite enjoyable. I feel like I am on an extended vacation. I eat and sleep when I want to. I socialize with friends, but generally in small groups over a good meal. I have been reading novels and daydreaming — generally enjoying this precious quiet time before our lives change forever.

I feel my libido starting to creep back. I am happy about this and hope it continues. It took a good, long time to get over the trauma of constant medical poking and prodding when we were trying to get me pregnant. I thought it was all fine at the time, but now I realize that I wasn’t okay. I was keeping it together, moving from disappointment to disappointment. I hinged my hope on the next attempt and even started to believe that I may have been somehow broken. Who knows what combination of science, fate and circumstance made this pregnancy possible? But right now I am really grateful and feeling more content than I have in years.

At two points this week, it occurred to me that I am now on the other side of that struggle. Of course, I won’t count my blessings till we are holding a healthy baby in our arms, but I am definitely out of the rabbit hole of infertility.

Earlier this week, a co-worker in her late 40s complained that everyone around her seems to be pregnant these days. She had wanted to be a mother desperately, but decided to stop short of IVF a few years ago. It was a painful and difficult decision and one she still struggles with. At first, I found myself irritated and a little offended by her pronouncement. And then I remembered that I felt exactly the same way last summer. It’s hard to see so many fertile people around you when you are struggling so hard with regret and loss.

Yesterday, we spent some time with a newly pregnant friend and her partner. She had been three weeks ahead of me in pregnancy, but found out at her 12-week scan in the fall that the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. She is now cautiously re-entering pregnancy, having suffered a devastating loss. She is torn between optimism and fear. She is treating early pregnancy much like I did. I remember saying to myself, “Wow, I am pregnant. This may actually lead to a baby.” It seems like a ridiculous sentiment, because generally pregnancy does lead to a baby. But I had been poisoned by so much disappointment and had read too many sad stories to believe that it was actually going to turn out okay. It was a lovely experience to console her yesterday, because my compassion came from a visceral place. If I can take anything from the journey that we began in August 2010, it’s an embodied knowledge of how hard it can be to face multiple losses.

Feeling little kicks and murmurs gives me daily re-assurance that this is a healthy, thriving pregnancy. It’s still cold outside, but the light is beautiful and the days are getting longer. I am filled with optimism for the first time in a long while. It’s delightful to watch Caitlyn get excited about scouting out deals on kid gear, purging our basement and framing art work for the nursery. We still have a ways to go, but we are starting to think of ourselves as future parents. Totally mind-blowing. I feel so very lucky.

19 week update

30 Jan

I want to apologize for not writing anything for weeks. I frequently come up with blog posts in my head and then lose the gusto to actually write anything. As my mind shifts from the mysterious early symptoms of pregnancy to weightier queer family matters, I promise to get back at it. I’m almost there. In the meantime, a photo. Me at 18 weeks:

14.5 week musings

30 Dec

I swear I had a dozen blog posts in my head over the last two weeks, but I didn’t bother to sit down and pound them out. So consider this a digest of my pregnancy-related thoughts as of late …

  • Clothing: Maternity jeans are a dream. Why don’t we all wear pants like this all the time? Stretchy fabric in place of an actual waist band? Yes please. The rest of the shopping has been mostly depressing so far. I guess it should be no surprise that the maternity clothing industry functions like the rest of retail fashion: it’s designed for skinny people. Or at least women without hips. That being said, I managed to scavenge a few decent pieces. I also did well at a higher-end boutique that was having a Boxing Day sale. I got a couple of cute dresses that actually reflect my personal sense of style. I am going to have to accessorize the hell out of everything else.
  • Bump: My stomach still looks like two lumps, rather than a solid baby bump. I know this will take time. I just can’t wait for when I stop looking/feeling fat and actually start looking pregnant.
  • Energy: I’ve had a noticeable upswing in my energy in the last couple of weeks and was on a bit of a roll at the gym … till I got sick. Cait and I both have a lingering cold and it’s grounded me for the last four days. Ah well, at least I am off work. And even if I wasn’t sick, I probably would have spent the last few days lazing around anyway.
  • Sex drive: Still virtually non-existent. It’s been this way since we started the IVF in September. I would really like to start feeling like a sexual human being again (and before I get too huge to move and am totally sleep-deprived thanks to the brand-new tiny human ). I stocked up on some hot reading at the local feminist owned sex store. We’ll see if that helps.
  • Paranoia: Given that most of the first trimester symptoms have faded, I’m not really sporting a bump yet and I have yet to feel any fetal movement … it’s hard not to worry that something’s wrong. Looking forward to the 18-week midwife appointment and the 20-week ultrasound.
  • Sharing: Well, the cat’s pretty much out of the bag. If I know you in real life, you don’t have to keep this pregnancy as a closely-guarded secret. It feels good to be able to share the news with people. I think it will feel better in a month or so.

So that’s where I’m at. I wish I had politically charged feminist musings on future parenthood to share with you. Maybe after the shock of actually being pregnant starts to fade. It still amazes me every day.

Thank you doppler!

14 Dec

Just a quick note to say that today’s midwife appointment was wonderful — we heard the heartbeat for a brief few seconds on the doppler. Such a relief! Once again, the couch has eaten me. I’ve decided that evening gym trips are not going to work for me anymore. So I am going to take a co-worker up on an offer to pick me up in the morning, starting a couple of days next week. I really love getting exercise, but I am much more alert and energetic at 7 am than I am at 7 pm. I am going to try and push myself out the door an hour earlier, in an effort to earn the opportunity to totally hibernate at night. We shall see how this pans out …

But in the meantime: whoa. We are having a baby. Crazy.

“All I do is eat and sleep”

9 Dec

I had a bit of a hormonally-induced cryfest this afternoon, after an otherwise lovely day off. I got 10 hours of sleep, went for an (intense) massage to help clear up some of my headache/jaw/neck pain issues, went for lunch in China Town, spent some time purging my home office and then took a nap. I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, because my plan to actually make it to the gym afterward devolved into tears, television and take-out Greek food. Caitlyn giggled as I half-cried/half-laughed about the fact that “all I do is eat and sleep these days.” It’s true. I have a vague dull ache in my lower back from being too sedentary. But all I want to do is lie on the couch and snack these days. Which is not terribly helpful to my social life or my self-esteem.

I’ll be 12 weeks pregnant as of Monday. And then on Wednesday, we will hopefully get to hear the heartbeat on a doppler. We’ve told a lot of people that I am pregnant, but by Christmas/Chanukah, I will feel comfortable bringing it up in conversation with acquaintances and it will make socializing much more appealing. Plus, I will finally go out and buy myself some maternity clothes, so I don’t feel so darned awkward in whatever I’m wearing anymore.

I feel like I am in the adolescent stage of pregnancy. My body is starting to change, though not dramatically yet. I am rocking some super sexy acne and my favourite clothes don’t fit particularly well. I am moody, needy and prone to tears. Thankfully, I haven’t been puking. I know that exercise is that thing that almost always makes me feel better — but it’s been really hard to force myself out the door and over to the Y. Cait and I are going to do just that in an hour (after the souvlaki settles) because I know it will help lift my spirits. I am also going to try my first pre-natal yoga class on Sunday. I haven’t been to yoga since we started IVF and since then I have been too worried to try a regular class. It’s time to get limber again. The headaches and sore back are a sign that the couch is starting to eat me alive.

Every day that I stay pregnant, I am more invested in wanting to hold a baby at the end of this process. I have been reading too many horror stories on the internet and I need to stop. It’s just that I get into the downward spiral of being alone on the couch and bored … and then I start googling and it all goes downhill. But I guess the cryfest (and yesterday’s Sudden Onset Cheeseburger Craving) are good signs. I’m just going to hang tight till next Wednesday and then hopefully breathe a giant sigh of relief. Or  few happy sobs.

EDIT (9:45 pm): We went to the gym! I did 40 minutes of mild cardio and stretching and feel so much better. I took a hot bath, but didn’t make it back out to go to an art opening. Ah well — you win some, you lose some. Maybe I will actually feel like going out after 7pm after my first trimester is over.