TWENTY-FOUR.

Viability week! 24 weeks down; 16 to go … and for anyone wondering, we’re nowhere close to a name yet! It was so hard to name T — I honestly think we discussed every name out there. And by “discuss,” I mean I threw out name suggestions and D shot them down because they “just didn’t feel right.” After not coming up with any suggestions of his own, in the end he finally agreed to my top pick, since he knew I loved it. At least he picked the middle name. Honestly the worst part about finding out we were having a boy was knowing how hard it would be to come up with another boy name we like! And so far our name conversations seem to be following a similar pattern. I actually do have a couple favorites, so if he doesn’t start coming up with ideas soon I’m going to be picking the name by default again — which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world (after all, I do like getting my way!), but I’d really love it if he felt strongly about a name! I’d probably agree to anything he loved, just because he loved it. But I guess we have a little more time.

At 24 weeks…

Baby: is the size of a cantaloupe now. His once translucent skin is becoming more pink and opaque. He’s still moving like crazy. T has even felt him kick a few times. Or at least I think he has. Sometimes he’ll lean on my tummy and exclaim “baby is kicking my head!” (even when baby is being perfectly still).

Mama: is starting to slow down. I just feel larger these last couple weeks and I’m noticing that while my energy level is actually pretty high, I overdo it easily. I’ve never been the type to be able to sit still, especially on weekends, my only time to really get stuff done. So after a weekend of running around nonstop I usually spend a day or two stiff and sore. Interestingly, actual exercising doesn’t wipe me out the way a day of running errands or vacuuming do — although exercise is getting progressively harder. I missed my barre class last week so we’ll see how this week goes. I’m officially resolving to make it to my class twice a week from here on out. I’m worried if I fall out of practice I simply won’t be able to pick it back up. I’m still getting that weird side cramp/stitch feeling, which I’ll be sure to bring up with my OB this week. I have a checkup Friday, and will also take the gestational diabetes test at that time. Here’s hoping my candy cravings haven’t sent me to a diabetic state!

Weight: up one pound this week, for a total gain now of 13 lbs.

Cravings: fruit and sour candy. Or fruity sour candy. I discovered these last week and they’re amazing!

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24 weeks.

24 weeks.

TWENTY-THREE.

23 weeks – just one week from viability! 24 weeks is when the medical community recognizes a baby’s likelihood of surviving on the outside, so it’s a pretty big milestone. And while those odds are still only 50-70 percent, that’s a lot higher than they are at 23 weeks (20-35 percent). In fact, between this week and next, baby’s chance of survival increases by 3-4 percent every day. Obviously I’d prefer to keep him baking until 40 weeks, but there’s something about reaching viability that makes this nervous mama breathe a huge sigh of relief. Just one more week!

At 23 weeks…

Baby: is still somewhere around a foot(ish) long and between 13-21 oz. I think this is the stage of pregnancy where babies start to really vary in their measurements, so the pregnancy websites start backing off a bit on those stats. Though one site told me this week he was the size of a grapefruit, which I’m trying to wrap my head around since I’ve never seen a footlong grapefruit. Maybe they mean by weight? Anyway, he’s getting bigger. And he’s now forming nipples (what’s the evolutionary reason for those on males?). His face is now fully formed and just needs a little more fat to fill it out. His pancreas is kicking into gear around this time, and lungs are also undergoing some major developments, which plays a huge role in viability.  I also suspect he may have flipped to be head-down (more on that in a minute), but we won’t be able to confirm until our next appointment, and doesn’t really mean anything at this point since he can still move around quite a bit. I do wonder if last week‘s inner ear developments have given him the sense of balance to figure out which way is down and to start getting into position.

Mama: is feeling a ton of movement, and the kicks are getting stronger. In fact, yesterday I felt him stretch and push his foot out so hard, that I could actually feel a hard lump on my upper right side (at least I’m pretty sure it was his foot, hence why I think he’s head-down now). I pushed back on it and he kicked my hand a few times and stretched out again. I pushed him in again and he did the same thing. It was like a fun little game (I was probably annoying him).

In addition to movement, I’m just feeling a lot more of everything these days. I’ve started having the occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions (normal and painless, if just a bit uncomfortable – I started having these with T around this time too). Heartburn started up this week too. The sciatica comes and goes, mostly when I overexert myself, but overall still isn’t as bad as it was when I was pregnant with T. New this week are these weird side stitches, like you get when you run, only they’re not quite in my side — they’re about halfway between my side and my belly button. Then again, maybe that’s where my “side” would be if the belly wasn’t stretching everything out. Similar to side stitches, they seem brought on by exercise (or in my case, walking), and when I stop, they stop. I’m trying to drink more water to see if that helps. Could also be round ligament pain, though I thought that was usually lower. Pregnancy is weird.

On the emotional front, I’m feeling pretty good and just realized I haven’t used my doppler in about 2 weeks. I definitely think the constant movement helps.

Weight: No gain this week. Still holding out at 12 lbs.

Cravings: Starburst jelly beans. And oranges.

A coworker told me I don't look pregnant from the front. Clearly from the side it's a whole 'nother story!

A coworker told me I don’t look pregnant from the front. Clearly from the side it’s a whole ‘nother story!

TWENTY-TWO.

Another week down, 18(ish) more to go! Not a lot new to report this week, so let’s get right to it…

Baby: is now close to 12 inches long and weighs about a pound. About the size of a coconut or an ear of corn, depending on the website you’re looking at. The websites say he’s sleeping about 12-14 hours a day, but I have a hard time believing that since he is constantly moving! His inner ear is now developed to the point where he should have a sense of balance, and can also hear a fair amount. Funny, we were visiting our friends Sunday night and they have two girls, and the little one kept screaming (in play). Every time she would screech, baby would jump around.

Mama: is feeling streeeeetched. Hard to believe I’m only a little over halfway, because my belly feels like it’s going to burst. You know that really full, uncomfortable feeling you have after a huge meal? Multiply that times 100 and that’s how I’m feeling right now. I wonder if my abdominal muscles have reached a certain threshold now and that’s why I’m noticing it or something. Maybe they just need to get used to it and then the stretched feeling will subside. I haven’t been to Barre class in almost two weeks so it will be interesting to see if my abs have been rendered completely useless when I go again on Wednesday. Thankfully I’m not experiencing any swelling in my hands or feet, which a lot of the websites say I may be experiencing by now. We’re having a mini heat wave and I think I’m getting a preview for how uncomfortable this summer may be, though! Belly button has started to pop out, depending on how I’m sitting/standing. Really hate the outie belly button stage of pregnancy, but certain clothes hide it better than others. I just learned of a product today called the Popper Stopper that is meant just for that – ha! Don’t think I’ll be buying that though. Oh, and you know how I’ve been saying how much bigger I feel, so much faster this time around? On Saturday night I was at a friend’s party and there was another pregnant woman with this teeny cute bump. I figured she was probably due in September … maybe October? Nope, July. So she’s a full month ahead of me and looks far less pregnant. :/

Weight: up 2 lbs. this week for a total gain now of 12 lbs. Exactly where I was at this point with Theo.

Cravings: nothing really, this week. Maybe fruit.

22 weeks

22 weeks

TWENTY-ONE.

Last week we had our anatomy scan and I’m happy to report everything looks perfect! That was a big relief, to have checked off that major milestone, and to see baby again since we hadn’t seen him since 13 weeks. I think we got kind of spoiled in the beginning with the weekly ultrasounds. Pros and cons of being mostly “normal” now, I guess! I am kind of bummed that we didn’t get very many good images to take home with us. We didn’t even get the classic side profile shot that always looks so much like a real baby. The only face shots we got were head-on, and those always look so alien and scary. Our next appointment is at 24 weeks, where we’ll do the glucose test (for gestational diabetes), and then at 28 weeks we’ll get another ultrasound due to my slightly increased risk of IUGR (according to the repeat loss testing we had done early in the pregnancy).

At 21 weeks…

Baby: is about 10.5 inches long, and the ultrasound tech had estimated his weight around 13 ounces last week, which is right on track. So hopefully that means the risk of IUGR is low, though I don’t think that usually starts presenting itself until later, anyway. This week baby continues to produce meconium and his skin is wrinkly, since it will eventually fill out with fat. He’s still pretty skinny, compared to how he’ll be at birth. At 10.5 inches he’s already about halfway there in length, but his weight will probably increase tenfold before he’s born!

Mama: is feeling pretty good, but definitely slowing down already. The sciatic pain flares up every now and then, mostly after I’ve done something to strain it, like vacuuming the house. I think I overdid it this weekend as I ran a million errands, grocery shopped, vacuumed top to bottom, bathed the dog and put the finishing touches on our bathroom remodels (hung towel hooks, a shower curtain, artwork, etc.). When I got out of bed to pee in the middle of the night Sunday I almost collapsed from the back pain and had to shuffle my way to the bathroom. When I got up for the second (and third) time to pee, it was a little better, and two days later I’m back to normal. Belly is definitely getting bigger, and my skin feels really tight. Still hoping I can mostly avoid stretch marks again. With Theo, I didn’t notice any while I was pregnant, but after I had him, I noticed two faint little parallel marks, each about an inch long, on the left side of my stomach. I’ll count myself lucky if I can get away with just that again, as I know some women’s bellies get completely destroyed from pregnancy.

Weight: up 1 lb. this week for a total gain of 10 lbs. now.

Cravings: still loving sour candy!

Alien face.

Alien face.

21 week belly - and return of the bun. I need a haircut!

21 week belly – and return of the bun. I need a haircut!

TWENTY.

Happy halfway! It’s hard to believe I’m halfway done. So far things are still looking good. We have our big anatomy scan on Thursday, which I’m really nervous and excited about. I still am terrified every day that something will go wrong, and in some weird way I almost feel like I’m an impostor with this pregnancy. Like it’s not really happening. But there’s no denying the belly I’m sporting these days, or the party that’s happening on the inside. Here’s what’s going on at 20 weeks…

Baby is about 10 inches long and now being measured head-to-toe instead of head-to-rump. He consumes multiple ounces of amniotic fluid each day and is growing tooth buds, lips, eyelashes and eyebrows. He’s also beginning to produce meconium, or what will be his first poops, though they’ll just sit in his bowels until after birth (or sometimes shortly before).

Mama is still feeling pretty good, relatively speaking, though the sciatic pain seems to have reared its ugly head again. Definitely feeling like I’m handling the pregnancy better this time, though, despite the fact I’m getting bigger faster. I took a peek at my 20 week entry from T’s pregnancy and I was dealing with quite a bit of hip pain with him by this time. Haven’t had much of that this time, minus the couple nights we spent up at our cabin while we had some work done on our bathroom. Not sure whether it was the mattress itself, the lack of a mattress topper, or the fact that it was a full-sized bed and I didn’t have room to surround myself with pillows like I do in our king-sized bed, but I woke up with achy hips both nights. But my hips haven’t bothered me at all since, and even though the sciatica has crept back up the last week, it’s definitely been less bothersome than it was with T.

Weight: up 1 lb. this week for a total gain now of 9 lbs. I was up 8 lbs. at this point with T so I’m feeling okay with that number.

Cravings: Still sour candy. Still “snashing” it in my car. Speaking of cars, we bought a mini-van last week (gasp)! I always swore I would never own one, but D actually talked me into it and it’s sort of awesome. I’m going to really love those automatic doors when juggling a toddler and an infant seat, and we can fit two kids, two dogs and all our stuff in there when needed — and we won’t have to remove car seats to put friends or family in there either. Gotta say, sometimes functionality trumps ego (though I was sure get the black exterior and leather interior because it seemed the least “soccer mom” to me!).

The newest member of the family.

The newest member of the family.

20 weeks pregnant.

20 weeks pregnant. The belly doesn’t lie.

EIGHTEEN/NINETEEN

I slacked on my weekly update last week, so this week’s will be a combined update. As of today, I’m 19 weeks pregnant. Almost halfway done! We have our big anatomy scan a week from Thursday, which can’t come soon enough. Even though getting the early bloodwork means we aren’t waiting on the anatomy scan to reveal the sex of this baby (which is what people typically associate with the big anatomy scan), this very important ultrasound will tell us whether everything is in working order. They’ll be looking at the brain, heart, kidneys, stomach, liver and will be taking numerous measurements to make sure everything is developing as it should. They’ll also check to make sure my cervix is staying closed tight as it should. While I have no reason to worry at this point, I think I’ll breathe a lot easier once we can confirm all looks good still. It’s been a while since we got to see baby.

Here’s what’s going on at 18-19 weeks:

Baby: went from about 5.6 inches last week to 6 inches this week. He’s now about the size of a mango. Last week’s big accomplishment was yawning, hiccuping and swallowing. This week his brain is developing his senses: taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch. He’s developing a layer of vernix over his skin, which will protect him from marinating in all that amniotic fluid for the next 4.5 months.

Mama: is feeling baby a LOT more. I even felt my first kick from the outside today. I’m actually really happy to say I haven’t used my doppler as much these last couple weeks because of all the movement I’m feeling. He throws a dance party 2-3 times per day, lasting several minutes at a time, and will give me the occasional nudge or kick throughout the day as well. Dare I say, I’m actually feeling pretty good right now, physically speaking. I’m working out more with this pregnancy than I did with T, and I think it’s paying off. I started taking barre classes just before I found out I was pregnant, and I’ve managed to stick with it, even though it’s getting harder, not easier as time goes on! And while the numbers on the scale are continuing to rise and my middle is getting thicker, I’m noticing my legs and arms are looking more fit, and the sciatica has eased up in the last couple weeks, which has been a huge relief! So while the ab work I’m doing in barre class seems pointless at times (no flat tummy or six pack in my near future), I do think perhaps a stronger core is contributing to less back pain. Hooray!

Weight: up 3 lbs in week 18 (yikes!), then down 2 in week 19. Total gain now of 8 lbs.

Craving: sour candy. Funny story: my sister-in-law coined a term, “snash” a while back (snack + stash), and it’s been an inside joke ever since. I texted her today to tell her I totally had a “snash” of sour jelly beans in my car console and lemon heads in my desk at work.

Here’s a picture from around 18 and a half weeks:

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SEVENTEEN.

Another week down and things are still going well. This period of time between appointments seems to drag on forever, though. Our next appointment/anatomy scan isn’t until April 6th — I’ll be 20 weeks and three days. Our last appointment was March 2nd, at 15 weeks and two days. So that’s more than five weeks in between appointments. The gap feels especially long since we saw the RE weekly during the first trimester and, then I had OB appointments at 13 and 15 weeks. If all looks good during the 20 week scan, I will keep going monthly until 28 weeks, and then the bi-weekly appointments start up. Then weekly appointments start at 36 weeks. Hard to believe I’m almost halfway done!

Here’s what’s going on at 17 weeks…

Baby: is approximately 5 inches long (head to rump – legs don’t count for some reason) and 5-6 oz in weight — about the size of an onion (or an iPhone). Big developments this week include the ability to swallow and moving his joints. I’m definitely feeling more of that movement now, which is fun.

Mama: is definitely feeling bigger. Yesterday I got my first public comment from someone assuming I was pregnant — which seems ballsy to me, considering I still think I just look like I’ve had too many cheeseburgers. I mean, you’ve got to be reeeeaaaally sure someone is in fact pregnant if you’re going to comment on their pregnancy! I’m almost 100% in maternity clothes now and I’m finding some of the pre-pregnancy clothes I thought I could make work just don’t cut it. I should have known better – this isn’t my first rodeo. And even though I have a very large maternity wardrobe, thanks to my pregnancy with T (and some friends who have passed down some clothes), I’m finding a lot of my clothes aren’t the right season now that we’re headed into spring. (And let’s face it, these clothes are 3 years old, so not everything is still in.) So I may need to do some shopping. My belly button is getting shallower already, which I don’t remember happening until quite a bit later last time. Not looking forward to the inevitable outie – AKA the belly nipple. Having a pretty good week as far as the PGAL brain goes, but I still use my doppler almost daily, just for that added reassurance. I’m also finding that now that we’re mostly past the risk of spontaneous miscarriage, I find myself worrying about things like incompetent cervix or premature labor/rupture of membranes. I really have no logical reason to worry about these things, but it’s like we’ve been through so much that my brain can’t comprehend that things could go right, so I’ve got to move on to the next thing to worry about. Shut up, brain!

Weight: Up 1 lb. this week for a total gain of 7 lbs. now.

Cravings: Fruity and/or sour candy.

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SIXTEEN.

I keep meaning to start up the weekly posts again. And every week I chicken out. We’re now three weeks past our last loss milestone, but I still haven’t been able to shake the fear. I put on a smile for other people (mostly because I’ve found my fears tend to make other people uncomfortable or cause them to try to convince ME to feel okay) — but deep down I’m still scared. And so is D. Probably even more than I am. I guess that’s just the hand we’ve been dealt and I wouldn’t expect anyone who hasn’t been through what we have to understand. That said, I’m definitely clearly pregnant now. And I do find myself looking back at my weekly updates with T and wishing I were taking the time to document this pregnancy, so I guess now is as good of a time as any to start. (deep breath) Here we go…

Baby: is about 4 and a half inches; about the size of an avocado (or a grenade, according to one website!). His ears and hearing are becoming more developed and he should be able to hear what’s happening on the outside now. This means he will start to recognize mine and D’s voices so he’ll be familiar with us once he’s on the outside. He’s also growing hair, lashes and eyebrows. (I wonder if he’ll be born with a mohawk like T!) Baby is also forming taste buds and should begin to develop preferences for certain things I’m eating.

Mama: is feeling pretty good, aside from some sciatic pain. That came on around 20ish weeks last time, and this time around it started around 13 weeks. I’m finding that everything seems to be happening sooner this time, really. Last week I started feeling him kick and roll a few times a day. I’ve been feeling what I thought might be flutters for a couple weeks now, but as of last week, it’s suddenly become much more obvious. I didn’t start feeling clear movement until about 19 weeks with Theo – but I also had an anterior placenta with him and it’s posterior this time. I’m also showing much faster this time. Granted, I’m starting pregnancy about 5 lbs heavier than I started with Theo, so that may contribute some to the tummy, but there’s a definite bump there now, and it’s about the size it was closer to 20 weeks last time. I’m working out more this pregnancy than I did with T and I’m hoping that will keep the weight in check, despite my higher starting weight.

Total weight gain thus far: 6 lbs.

Cravings: jalapenos, Girl Scout cookies.

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Motherf*cker.

So, I got the results back from my repeat loss bloodwork. Diagnosis: heterozygous C677T MTHFR (which I can’t help but read as motherf*cker every time), high TPO levels (which are most likely related to the thyroid problem I already knew I had,  but could also be indicative of an autoimmune disease) and borderline ANA levels (which could also indicate an autoimmune disease).

Motherf*cker.

The good news is, the RE feels good about the course of care we’re on. The MTHFR gene mutation inhibits  folic acid absorption and he had already proactively put me on an extra dose of folic acid. So we’ll continue that. I’m taking Synthroid already to deal with the hypothyroidism. And the heparin shots I’ve been taking could help the autoimmune disease – if that’s what I have. The doctor wants to run a few more blood tests that may tell us more about the autoimmune possibility, and could also will look at both mine and D’s kareotyping, which could show whether one of us could be genetically predisposed to passing along chromosomal abnormalities (which are the most common cause of miscarriage). The tests are expensive and not fully covered by insurance – and the doctor said we didn’t need to them if we just want to stay the course of treatment and hope for the best. But to me, it was a no-brainer: we’re running the tests. We’ve come this far already – I just want to feel like we’ve checked every box.

So, we go back again on Monday (10 weeks!) for another ultrasound and the blood tests. Then the following Monday (at 11 weeks) we have our first OB appointment. I’m planning to do the NIPT testing with my OB, which will look at the chromosomes of the baby to rule out the major chromosomal defects and hopefully put our mind further at ease (and as an added bonus, we’ll get to find out the sex of the baby at that time too). Depending on the results of the kareotype testing, the RE said he might also recommend an amniocentesis, which I have mixed feelings about. An amnio looks at ALL the chromosomes (whereas the NIPT just looks for the most common chromosomal disorders), and is considered a diagnostic test (NIPT is still just considered “screening” even though it’s about 99% accurate). Problem with an amnio is that it comes with a small risk of causing a miscarriage. It’s only about 1%, but it’s still enough to make me nervous, which is why I’m leaning toward just doing the NIPT unless the RE strongly recommends otherwise. I mean, we’re doing all these tests to figure out why we’ve had miscarriages, and hopefully prevent another one. I’d never forgive myself if during that course of testing we unnecessarily caused another one.

I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Onward.

Heavily medicated.

I’m starting to feel like the Collette Reardon character from Saturday Night Live with how many times I’ve been to the pharmacy in the last couple weeks.

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As I mentioned in my last post, my doctor has recently started me on a few medications to help my body do a better job at keeping this baby. I’m on so many meds right now — many of which need to be taken at different times — that it’s getting hard to keep track of everything. I actually had to go buy one of those “days of the week” old lady pill cases and set alarms for myself just to keep everything straight. Here’s what a typical day looks like now:

6:00 a.m. – alarm goes off, take Synthroid (for low thyroid; must be taken an hour before eating)

7:00 a.m. – inject myself in the stomach with Heparin just before leaving for work (to prevent blood clots)

10:00 a.m. – phone alarm goes off, take Prometrium (for low progesterone; 12 hours before bedtime dose)

6:00 p.m. – eat dinner, take prenatal vitamin, DHA, extra folic acid (4 pills), B6 and B12 (for fetal health and pregnancy support; must be taken with food)

7:00 p.m. – second Heparin injection (12 hours after the first)

10:00 p.m. – second dose of Prometrium, just before bed

For anyone counting, that’s 11 pills plus two injections every single day. After the first trimester I should be able to stop the Prometrium, and I may be able to drop the Heparin at some point, depending on the results of my blood clotting disorder tests.

Speaking of tests. I had betas drawn again today. I’m happy to say my betas are at 315.3 (up from 91.4), so they’re still more than doubling. The doctor wants me back for one more draw on Wednesday, after which they’ll schedule me for my first ultrasound if my numbers are high enough. Also today, I had all my repeat loss testing done. 16 vials of blood in total. I was surprised I had any blood left and didn’t pass out walking out of the building. My poor arms look like those of a heroin addict from all the blood draws, not to mention the all the bruises that will soon be covering my stomach from the Heparin injections.

It’s a lot to handle, but I just keep saying – whatever it takes to bring this baby home. I’m reminded of a powerful image I saw recently of a sleeping baby surrounded by hundreds of syringes and vials, illustrating the journey through in-vitro fertilization. And while I know what we’re going through pales in comparison to IVF, I can certainly relate to the great lengths, pain, discomfort and money many couples go through in order to do what so many people take for granted.

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