Tag Archives: doctors

What We’ve Been Up To and The Big “C”…

7 Feb

Preface: This post got very long and kinda dark and I’m not going to apologize for that. I needed to write it all out. You should get cookies if you actually read it all. Thanks.

I always thought that when I got pregnant, life would be blissful and I’d be walking on air. Not that pregnancy itself doesn’t come with it’s share of swollen feet, nausea, backaches and the like but I always thought I’d be able to deal with those things a little better because of how badly we wanted this baby and how happy I was to actually get pregnant. But sometimes life throws you curve balls…I haven’t been writing much because honestly, most days it just felt too raw to write about. I’ve decided that I need a little bit of an outlet so I guess now is as good a time as any. Here’s a more clear picture of what has been going on.

Back in September my Wife’s Uncle started to decline more steadily from a form of Leukemia that he had been battling on and off for 15 years. He was in his 80’s and although he was under excellent care, it  became apparent to us that he had relapsed and had grown pretty tired of fighting. We are very close with him and his wife and we tried to remain positive because he’s always been very strong through it. When Mrs. E was 20 years old, her parents and siblings moved to Florida and she decided to stay here where her school and girlfriend were, and since that time her Aunt and Uncle became more like parents to her. Sometime in mid-November we got a phone call that he had been taken to the hospital and that things weren’t looking good. His body was just not responding to treatment anymore and the family had decided to reduce his care to “comfort only” measures and bring him home (he hated hospitals after all he’d been through). We went to see him and held his hand, talked to him, hugged him told him that we were having a boy (we hadn’t announced the gender of the baby yet) and wished him peace. He passed away the next day.

At about the same time that that was going on, my own grandfather had started to show signs that his dementia was becoming more severe. Caring for him had started to take a physical and emotional toll on my grandmother. He was often confused, hallucinating and getting very aggravated on a more regular basis.  He started having “accidents” and would fall when trying to walk and she couldn’t help him up anymore. My family started taking turns sleeping overnight at my grandparents house to help her care for him. I learned a lot of things about about Alzheimers/advanced dementia in those months and he was definitely a textbook case. Most people think that the disease is merely mental but the most heartbreaking thing about it is that that’s not true. Over time with it, the body literally “forgets” how to do some of it’s most basic functions. Incontinence becomes and issue, walking and muscle control can become foreign, eventually even swallowing and breathing become challenges. He was already having trouble with the first two. One night, he got very aggravated and my grandmother woke up to find him standing over her side of the bed screaming at her. She wasn’t able to calm him down and she feared for her safety so she called the police. Eventually, they helped settle him but they sent a social worker out the next day to help her start the process to place him in a long-term care facility. He had become too severe for her to care for him at home anymore and we reluctantly moved him into a nursing home a few days later.

In the mean time, we had our gender reveal party, we were spending most evenings running over to the nursing home to visit Grandpa and tried to get through our childbirth classes and prepare for the baby when we had spare time.  Right before Thanksgiving, we became worried about my grandfather’s eating and he was losing a lot of weight and running a high fever. He had pneumonia and was coughing a lot so the doctor wanted to send him for a swallowing evaluation. It showed that he had been aspirating a lot of his food (half of it was essentially going into his lungs) and his swallowing reflex just wasn’t working properly. The pneumonia got worse and he was admitted to the hospital to recover while he waited for a feeding tube to be put in. He was very weak and I thought we were going to lose him in those few days. His confusion was at it’s height because he didn’t adjust well to new surroundings and he’d already gone from home to the nursing home to the hospital. It was hard to watch but kind of a blessing because he didn’t know he was missing Thanksgiving at home with our family. I was literally holding back tears sitting around that table without him last year. Only one time in my life, when I’d gone to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. E’s family, had I spent a holiday away from home with him. I should probably explain that my deep attachment to him was because he essentially had become my father. My parents split up when I was 2 years old and my Mom and I moved into my grandparent’s house with them. He became my father figure and my grandparents took on a lot of the responsibility of raising me.

He recovered from that bout of pneumonia, got the feeding tube and was moved back into the nursing home (another hellacious adjustment period) and seemed to be recovering well. He had one nurse that was very blunt with our family and told us that he would probably continue this cycle of getting pneumonia and going to the hospital, receiving antibiotics and being sent back to the nursing home indefinitely. That eventually his body would become resistant to the antibiotics and his body would shut down. It was sobering to hear someone lay it out like that ahead of us, especially when he seemed like he was recovering. Over the next month he did make another trip to the hospital for a few days and back, again for pneumonia. Mentally, he had his good days and bad. He stopped asking when he could go home and started saying “I love you” and “I have a really good family” all the time. Someone was with him in the evening every night and took my grandmother over to spend time with him every day. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary just before Christmas and he had an amazingly clear day that day. He was joyful and asked his wife for kisses and to sit on his bed with him continuously. Out of all the confusion, he never forgot who we were and he ALWAYS remembered that I was pregnant and asked about the baby constantly. He was so excited for the baby to come and that it was a boy. He also hated to be “scruffy” or unkempt and in the last few months I had taken on the responsibility of cutting his hair and shaving him every other day or so at the nursing home. It was really more about being fawned over than anything else, but he always reminded me that that was my job and was never bashful to ask when he needed to be “spiffed up” for my Grandma.

On Christmas Eve, I had my own breakdown about it. I felt wrong celebrating the holiday with the rest of my family when he was “in there” all the time. It felt like a prison for his illnesses. Even though we visited frequently and at length, it never felt like enough. I knew that he was slowly slipping away and I cried about it hard. When you are on the verge of becoming a parent, it can feel like a very scary push into adulthood with no turning back. I felt as though I had a little girl inside that was very upset that things weren’t the way that they were supposed to be anymore. Those holiday weeks I struggled and felt very much “in limbo” between those two worlds. The rational adult in me would focus on doing what needed to be done, and could handle dealing with his declining condition in stride, however the girl that hated watching what was happening to her Grandpa was having a hard time keeping it together.

As much as I hated to leave town, we had planned our final vacation before the baby for just after New Year’s. We were escaping for a week to Florida to enjoy some warmer weather and time with Mrs. E’s family. As soon as our flight landed, I came down with a bad cold/flu and I was miserably sick most of that trip and wasn’t able to take much to curb the symptoms. My wife wasn’t feeling well either and ended up having to go to Urgent Care on our 2nd day to get checked out because there was blood in her urine. Everyone else in her family has a history of kidney stones, so they dismissed it as that, gave her some meds and sent her on her way. As much as we were trying to make the best of things, it turned out to be a pretty pathetic vacation. I was grateful to be able to lay in the sun and float in the pool though! It took some pressure off my weight and back which felt good cause…Oh yeah, I was 7+ months pregnant! Unfortunately, there were days that I had to stop and remind myself of that with everything else going on.

We returned home but I wasn’t allowed to go see Grandpa because the flu was rampant, I was still quite ill and therefore the nursing home had a quarantine in effect. Can’t say I blame them. In those days while I recovered, we readjusted to life a bit and we had an appointment with a family doctor. We were joining the practice so that when the baby comes we could all go to the same place. She also referred Mrs. E to get an x-ray and go see a Urologist and get her kidney stone thing figured out. She got that all setup and in the mean time Grandpa was having lots of “bad days” and was barely communicative. He frequently had high fevers and was on more antibiotics and slept 20+ hours per day. I got a call at work one day from my Mom at work. She was crying and simply told me to come to the hospital, they had just taken him there by ambulance and that the doctor had advised her to “call the family in”.

When I got there, they were telling us that his prognosis was not good and that he had possibly hours to live. His fever was high, his blood pressures and oxygen levels were dangerously low and they told us that he was in septic shock. They placed him on a breathing machine that was forcing pressurized oxygen into his lungs and they gave him fluids and antibiotics. The doctor advised my grandmother to call a priest to come in and have his last rites read to him. We were beside ourselves. They admitted him and moved him up to a private room and the doctor told us she would be very surprised if he lived through the night. So we called all of the rest of our family and stayed by his side, holding his hand and talking to him all night. From about the time he came in, he was not very responsive. His eyes would scan around the room briefly in response to certain noise or touch, but the most we saw from him was when he was being re-positioned in bed. His eyes would stare open with a look of pain on his face. We tried to make sure that a family member was always there to comfort him and be in his view but it was so hard. He was on some morphine to keep him comfortable but all we could do was sit there while he slept. And wait.

That first night was excruciating but he lived through it. And the next day, and the next. I took off work and my Mom, my cousin and I took “shifts” in his hospital room. There were never less than 2 of us with him at a time and someone was always awake, watching and making sure that we noticed any big signs of decline or discomfort. The nurses were so nice. I don’t know how we would have done it without them. They brought us food, came in and talked to us, laughed with us, some even cried with us. Mrs E even took a shift when she could. We told stories and held his hand, until that even seemed to cause him some pain and we had to quit doing that too. The doctors informed us that his vitals were still so weak and he was in kidney failure now. His body would continue to shut down and it was only a matter of time. Our vigil continued.

Four days after he was admitted, there was nothing more that we could do for him. All of my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins had flown in from out of town to come and sit by his side. We made the decision to take him off the breathing machine, stop antibiotics and give him a morphine drip. Again, we were told that he wouldn’t live through the night. And we waited. I had never seen some members of my family so stripped down like that. Some just couldn’t do it. They made excuses to leave the room every 10 minutes, or cracked a lot of jokes. It became frustrating at times to see how we all dealt with things differently. My body was tired from sitting and sleeping in hospital chairs every day and night but I couldn’t leave him. It made me too anxious. We thought when he was switched to a regular oxygen cannula that he probably wouldn’t be able to sustain himself for very long, but he proved us wrong again. We watched him day and night for three more days and could not believe that he had now outlived his original prognosis of hours, by an entire week. My grandmother made the decision to formally put him on Hospice care.

That day I sat with him all day. I talked to him, told him what the weather was like outside and about the baby. I noticed that his color looked a lot more drained and the nurse said his heart rate was a bit slower but we had all learned in the past week not to count him out just yet. So we watched Ellen in the afternoon (he loved Ellen Degeneres, it really was adorable) and I even caught a nap beside him while the sun was setting. His breathing seemed slow and steady as I had always remembered from his catnaps. I used to climb into his recliner and catch a snooze with him all the time when I was growing up and this felt sort of reminiscent. A nurse came in to clean him up and I helped a bit. We shaved him and although he didn’t seem responsive to anything else, he stretched his top lip in response when I shaved under his nose. It made me smile because  I used to ask him to “go like this” and do that for me when I would shave him at the nursing home. I said bye to him for a while and left to get some dinner. Mrs E. had been busy at work and hadn’t been to see him for two days so she was coming over after we ate to see him that night.

We got there at about 8pm and he seemed to be resting comfortably, but I soon noticed that his breathing was much more shallow. My aunt and uncle were also there and we didn’t want to call the family and cause unnecessary alarm but after about 10 minutes of watching him, it was apparent that this was a big change and we started calling the rest of the family and warn them that he may pass away that night. His breathing got slower and I asked Mrs. E to go get a nurse to listen to his heart rate for any big changes. I stood by his side and rubbed his head, told him that we loved him and that everything would be okay and in the next two minutes, he took his last breaths. By the time the nurse got there to check him there was no detectable pulse and he was gone. All of a sudden after an entire week, there was nothing but heavy silence and we cried. He died around 9pm that night and and in the next hour, the rest of my family arrived and said their goodbyes. Watching my grandmother enter the room, rest her head beside his and weep was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever witnessed. It didn’t even feel real. We all knew that he was finally at peace and that we had done all we could do while showing him immense love and respect, but it still felt like he had been ripped away from us.

Over the next week, we all grieved but I found it harder to escape the images that kept replaying in my head. I tried to rebound from the exhaustion of only getting 2-ish hours of sleep per day and living in a hospital room. I had lost 14 pounds and felt guilty that I hadn’t been protecting my baby as well as I should (later our midwife confirmed that he’s just fine though). The funeral was a blur. I only remember some of the details and that I cried an awful lot. I did feel relieved that we had all found some peace, and as difficult as it was to watch, that his decline only took months and not years but I was still feeling anxious, like I was waiting for him to die. I ended up having to contact his Hospice service and inquire about their counseling services for family members. I was dealing with a lot of post-traumatic stress from re-living his last days over and over again. I talked to someone and it helped a little but the dreams and flashes still haven’t stopped. I went back to work and have been trying to pull things back together, but another week has gone by and I still don’t feel like I am “my old self” most days. I’m sure the pregnancy hormones don’t help but I’m not using them as an excuse. I don’t think that emotionally much of this would be different if I weren’t pregnant but people treat me as though it should make a difference.

We decided to go ahead with our baby shower even though it was the weekend between my grandfather’s passing and his funeral. Part of me just didn’t want the hassle of rescheduling, part of me felt like we needed a happy occasion and part of me didn’t want to celebrate at all. It was nice to see everyone, but difficult to put on a happy face. I was OK but barely and when one person hugged me and told me that she lost her grandfather when she was 8 months pregnant and she knew how I felt, I lost it. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUCH A HAPPY TIME! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? We are both so excited for this baby, but if I could pause this pregnancy and take a break I would do it in a heartbeat. I never thought I’d feel like that.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, we got Mrs. E’s x-ray results back. It looked like she had some kidney stones and possibly a blood clot in her bladder. We didn’t know what the ramifications of that were but she was told that she would find out more at her Urologist appointment…which was yesterday. When I got home from work we sat down so that she could tell me what they found at her appointment. I knew it couldn’t be good because she waited to tell me in person instead of over the phone. As it turns out, the doctor wanted to do more testing to be sure what he was looking at because he didn’t think it was a blood clot. He used a scope to look inside her bladder and confirmed that what they had found were actually two tumors. He explained that bladder tumors are pretty much always malignant and that they’d have to schedule her for a procedure to have them removed ASAP and do a CAT scan to make sure nothing had spread to other organs. After they take the tumors out and evaluate the tissue, he’d be able to give us more information about the type of cancer she is dealing with and if she will require chemotherapy as a follow-up. Her prognosis is pretty good because they are small tumors and they can hopefully be removed pretty easily. Unfortunately, there’s also a tumor on one of her kidneys. It’s more likely though that that is benign and may even go away on it’s own. I’m assuming that we monitor that and figure out how to deal with it after we get past the bladder issues. Her CAT scan was scheduled for this morning and we’ll probably get those results tomorrow.

She had had a few hours to deal with this, but I was reeling from what I had just heard. I thought we were going to sit down and talk about kidney stones and blood clots and medication, not tumors and surgery and chemotherapy. I couldn’t find words and “bladder cancer” kept echoing through my head. What the fuck was going on? We’re supposed to be having a baby in less than 6 weeks, not dealing with this shit. I got scared. CANCER. I had flashes of struggling through years of treatment as her uncle and aunt had and thoughts of possibly having to raise this kid on my own. She was able to remain calm. She always does. I think she was more worried about me than she is about herself. She’s so selfless.

Her procedure is scheduled for Tuesday. She called and told her sister, brother and dad what is going on, but other than that we’re really not saying much yet until we know more about what we are dealing with. She knows I’m writing about it here and thinks that’s okay because she wants me to have some space to cope. If you know us in other outlets that converge with family and friends, please be discreet about this until we are ready. There’s just only so much that we can take on at once and for now this feels easier if we keep it close. This is not at all what I thought my 3rd trimester of pregnancy would feel like. I just want to be happy. I just want to buy baby things and organize his room and decorate and focus on how our life will be changing for the better. Not this. Not now.

One of the hardest things about the past several months is that I’ve started to get upset with how people respond to me. I am not fragile. I am an optimist but when people go on and on about how everything will be okay or tell me to look at the bright side, I want to slap them. I’m not an idiot. I realize it’s the conventional nice thing to say, but it’s not like I don’t already tell myself those things and I’m tired hearing it. I don’t want to hear most people’s comparison stories and how they experienced this or that and know what I’m going through. Or how this stress and sleep deprivation are preparing me for “life with baby”. Quite frankly, I wish I ONLY had the stress and sleep deprivation of a newborn to deal with right now.  Some of my friends that I thought would be there for me more have been starkly absent and that hurts too. I don’t always need to be consoled, but it is nice to feel like people think of you, or ask or care at all. I just need to feel how I feel when I feel it. I’m not depressed, I’m sad and scared and a little bit angry. And that’s OK for now and it’s all I can do. It’s how I’m processing.

I can’t wait until we have enough focus again to spend more of it on preparing for the baby. We all could use a little happy right now…We’ll get there. We have to. And then I’ll write about that.

Meet Sprout!

7 Aug

Today was my first prenatal appointment. Mrs E and my Mom went along just in case we got to do an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat, which we were all hoping for. Most of if was a pretty routine review of my medical history by an OB nurse.  She asked me a series of questions about my symptoms to this point and when I told her that I have had some pretty intense cramping, she said it would be a good idea to go ahead and do an ultrasound. I wasn’t too happy that I threw a red flag with that, but SOOO grateful for the opportunity to see our baby for the first time. It was very emotional and when we finally got to see that little heartbeat on the screen, all three of us were fighting back the tears.

The tech took A LOT of  pictures and it felt like forever until she got to the baby and would turn the screen around so that we could see. It was hard not to be anxious and worried that she couldn’t find the baby or that something was wrong but then…We met Sprout.

The baby is only measuring about .78 inches long at this point and she said it looks as though I am about 8 weeks and 3 days.

We didn’t get to hear the heartbeat, but we could see it on the ultrasound. Sprout was jumping around and the little heart was beating away at 180BPM (that’s the part that made me cry a little).

You can’t see it quite as well in this video as we could on the screen but it’s definitely there. The baby is laying sideways and the head is to the right. The body is the larger mass and that’s a tiny arm sticking up from the top. The heartbeat can be seen as a small flicker just below the head.

Both Mrs E and I are so happy and relieved that everything looks good. We are definitely in love with this little one already!

Weeks 5 & 6

30 Jul

We made it through weeks 5 and 6! 34 more to go… We’ve known for almost 3 weeks and sometimes it still doesn’t feel quite real. I’d imagine that it won’t until we have that first ultrasound and it just feels so far away. While feeling “under the weather” is no fun at times, it’s kind of a nice reminder that things are progressing as usual. My worst symptoms are exhaustion, sore breasts and acid reflux. Taking naps, sleeping in a bra and popping some Tums seems to be helping a lot. I have been getting some pretty painful cramps in the middle of the night that are scary but they aren’t accompanied by any bleeding or anything so I just try to tell myself that everything is fine and try to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, we had a death in the family last week and lots of Mrs E’s family came into town for funeral services. It was so difficult not to be able to tell everyone our news! We are trying to keep a lid on it til we are out of the first trimester but we did tell her Dad, Sister and Brother since they were staying with us. It’s pretty unusual for me to be taking naps everyday and to not have a few beers with her brother, so it was well received news. They are happy for us and her brother, the financial planner is already talking about college funds and such. We told my Mom two weeks ago on her birthday and she got a little emotional because she knew we had been trying for so long. She teared up a little bit and I think she was pretty shocked. I was glad we could surprise her!

I’m nowhere near having a bump yet, but I have experienced some bloating. I’ve gained a few pounds of fluid already but that’s just because my blood volume is increasing so even though my pants are a little tighter, none of that is from baby growing yet. Thankfully, my coworker gladly passed off a box of maternity clothes to me already. They’re ready to go when I need them or start to get uncomfortable. I did buy a fetal doppler that was on sale and came highly recommended. Hopefully in a few weeks we’ll be able to use it to hear the heartbeat at home whenever we want. It’s still a little too early yet.

About a week ago Mrs E came down with a nasty flu bug and I tried desperately not to catch it. I felt a little sick for a few days last week but it didn’t take me down completely. We’ve just been trying to rest and push the fluids more. She’s still not really regained her appetite but everyday she gets a little more energy back, which is good because every day, I get more tired!

As far as getting things done for the baby, there’s not much we can do (or will allow ourselves to do) yet. I feel as though I want to start doing everything NOW but my wife is holding me back. Oh, but I couldn’t stop myself from doing some looking at things and researching purchases. I did buy a recliner that was in great shape off of craigslist and someone gave us a stroller this past weekend but we hope to stop there for a while. We did make a list of things that need to be done around the house before the baby comes and divided that up into months. There’s a lot of home improvements and we’re planning to start in August. We’re going to be away most weekends though, so I hope we can stay on track. We’ve gotten lazy with our home renovation intentions in past years so hopefully this is the motivation we need to get those things done. We think we’ll be in this house for a few more years so we should at least be able to enjoy the improvements that need to be done before we can sell it in the mean time.

Lastly, we have our doctor situation to figure out. I called the day after we got our positive test and scheduled an appointment with the OB/GYN practice that I’ve already been going to. We knew we wanted to explore our options, but I also wanted to make sure I started prenatal care as early as possible. The appointment with the OB nurse is on the 7th and I think that’s just to ask questions. It’s not likely that we’ll have an ultrasound until the 21st when we’re 10 weeks. It feels so long to wait! In the mean time, I started looking for a Midwife, because I’ve always wanted one and been interested in a water birth (as long as I remain low-risk). Their whole philosophy is just more my speed. I got an excellent recommendation for one and we have our first appointment also on the 7th, but in the evening. I told my Mom about it and she’s pretty adamantly against anything that doesn’t include me birthing in a hospital with an OB right there. The backstory is that my Mom lost my sister in a hospital birth and so she had some serious trauma and anxiety resulting from that and REALLY wants to make sure that I am safe as possible. My gut instinct is that I want to trust my body and not be in a hospital where unneeded interventions and possibly even a c-section could be forced upon me. I want to trust my body and my Midwife to make this happen as naturally as possible. Well, that scares the crap out of my Mom so she’s coming along to ask the Midwife questions and I really hope she comes around. Our options locally are limited. Hospitals around here have water tubs, but you may not deliver in them. The nearest birthing center where you can deliver in water is just over an hours drive away. I feel that my best option is at home with a hospital within 10 minutes, just in case. I hope my Mom will do some educating herself like I have so that she can feel safer and respect my wishes. I guess we’ll see what happens!

Planning To Start A Family

16 Jul

One of the best things about having this blog has been meeting and coming to know others who want to start a family and talk about that journey. In fact, I just got this from my ask box on tumblr:

Hey there. Through mutual fangirlness of Grey’s I started following your tumblr and twitter and from there found your blog about trying to get pregnant. Basically I am asking you for any advice that you have. Me and my fiancee are planning our wedding and we know that in the next 12-24months we are gonna wanna start trying to have a baby. We just want to know if you or your Mrs have any advice, anything we should think about before starting any preparation. Thank you.
Susie

It can be a very intimidating road and I have been asked by lesbian couples a few times where to begin. I decided to write a post with what we thought was some good advice. This is a very personal process and decision so undoubtedly your roadmap will vary but this should give you some things to think about.

Since I’m mostly asked by other lesbian couples, this is tailored to them.

Start Saving Money – It is never too soon to start a “baby fund”. Really, never.  Sit down with your partner and look at your finances and figure out how you will afford getting pregnant, doctors visits, birth, adoption, legal fees, all of the things the baby will need and even child care eventually. Don’t overwhelm yourselves, but it’s a good way to financially commit to this decision. Even if you don’t earmark the costs specifically, trust me, you will be able to find some way to use that money and the earlier you can start socking it away, the better. Starting a family is especially expensive for same-sex couples and can be even more so if you live in a state where you cannot be legally married.

Live In A Stable Environment – Is there room where you currently live for kids? If you will need to move then that’s another cost that you will have to plan for. Some people feel like they need to own a home before they are ready to have kids, but I don’t necessarily believe that. You should know that you live in a place that will work to raise a family. If you start somewhere less optimal and get stuck there for an extended amount of time, it helps to know and like the school system that you are in. Think about your own education too. If you have educational goals that you are still working on, try to finish them before you start trying to conceive that way you can focus on your family when the time comes. It also goes without saying that you should feel like your relationship is stable and your partner is someone you want to raise a child with. Talk to your partner about marriage if you haven’t already done so. If one or both of you would like to be married or have a wedding before you have kids, that’s obviously another large cost you may need to plan for.

Talk About What You Both Want…A LOT – There are a lot of decisions to be made in this process and it’s intensely personal. Talk about why you each want a baby and if they are good reasons. You have to be ready to give up a lot and put your children’s needs first. Talk about the process: ICI, IUI, or IVF? Known donor or anonymous? Would you like your children to physically resemble you? Who will carry? Would you prefer to just adopt? We spent many evenings talking these things over and revisited some of them many times. You should know what is important to you and to your partner and what you can compromise on. A lot will depend on your budget and some things may not go exactly as planned. For us, we decided that we were going to start this process with the least evasive methods possible and take more aggressive steps forward in six month increments only as needed. Other friends I knew decided that IVF was a better choice for them and they began with that. Of course, you’ll need to work with a doctor before you can determine what your best course of action will be. You should have discussed these things enough to know your general preferences as a couple before discussing it with a Physician though.

Get A Good Lawyer – We found a great family law attorney and worked with her to get our medical power of attorney, wills and living wills in place years ago. If you do not live in a state where you can be legally married, these are very important to secure your rights and wishes. You may want to find an attorney that specializes in gay rights and adoption. We also used our attorney to create legal agreements between us and our known donor. These protect him as well as us and our child legally to the best of our ability and we would not have dreamed of trying to conceive without them. It’s likely that you’ll need a good attorney to complete an adoption or second-parent adoption for you in this process as well. Some lawyers specialize in adoption only. If you know same-sex couples in your area that already have kids, they are often the best to ask for a referral.

Educate Yourself – Read books and surf the internet to try to find resources. One of the best books I read early on was The Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy for Lesbians. The book has a lot of other resources listed in it and it will give you A LOT to think about. If nothing else, it was a really good tool to get us asking ourselves those important questions about what we wanted. As we talked about our choices, my curiosity about all of the options grew deeper. Learn about artificial insemination methods, sperm donors, adoptions and pregnancy as much as you can now. You’ll be glad you took the time to become informed proactively when you have to start calling the shots.


Create A Supportive Environment – The internet became my best friend. I found comfort, support and a lot of good advice in the blogs of other couples who were going through this process. Often, I found links from there to other blogs (I’m a bad blogger and never set that up, but they are out there). Talk to others who are going through it. I also created a good little support system for myself on twitter and that has been amazing! We ended up having a community that was rooting for us and picked me up on some pretty dark days. It was nice for me to have a bit of anonymity sometimes so that I could be honest and vent. But, there’s a dark side to the community too. You will inevitably watch others reach their goals before you do and that can be hard. I liked using the internet because I could turn it off when I had to escape. Some people prefer the comfort of talking to their family and friends about the conception process instead. I would just caution you to choose your audience wisely. Not everyone may approve, understand or have positive words for you and you should trust your gut about who will listen and be supportive in a way that you need when you are fragile. Communicating how I felt at times was very cathartic and some days when I was depressed about it I just couldn’t stand friends asking me how it was going. But everyone reacts differently. I wanted to tell my Mom what I was going through but I didn’t want her to know too much so we could hopefully surprise her with news one day and I was SO glad that worked out. I guarantee you will go through so many more emotions than you can anticipate. Find those who you can come to on good days and bad alike.

Get Healthy – If you’re planning on getting pregnant, or supporting your partner through a pregnancy you should be healthy first! Your body mass index should be in an optimal range for your best chances at fertility and if you have weight to lose or gain, a year in advance is the best time to do it. Try to achieve your optimal weight (and stay there) for at least 6 months before you start trying. If you smoke, quit now. It’s one of the best adjustments you can make for your whole families’ health. If you plan to quit drinking coffee and soda while you are pregnant, wean yourself off the caffeine about six months beforehand too. The morning sickness will be enough on its own without the caffeine withdrawal.  Start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months to a year before you plan to conceive to prevent birth defects and find out if any medications that you are on are safe to take during pregnancy. If they aren’t, try to find ways to get off of them in that year prior. I also found it was helpful to find out your blood type if you aren’t sure. If you are the one trying to get pregnant it’s important to get familiar with your menstrual cycle. Track it and try to learn about your body’s ovulation signs. Maybe even buy a basal body thermometer and start taking your temperature or use ovulation strips. Anything that helps you get the hang of when you will be most fertile. I found that keeping the info in a fertility app on my phone was easiest. Getting in shape goes for your mental health too. If you have baggage or emotional issues, consider getting therapy and working through it. Be the best person that you can be before you start bringing more people into this world.

Find A Good Doctor/Practice – You have to be comfortable talking to your doctor about your relationship and your plans. If you want to get pregnant, you should make a preconception appointment with your OBGYN (or take time during your regular appointment) to talk about it. If you have irregular periods, I’d advise doing that a year out. My doctor put me on birth control as an attempt to help my endometriosis subside and give us better chances before we started trying. That was a six month process and if I hadn’t gone so far in advance, I would have felt a little disappointed by the setback. It’s also a good idea to have regular STD testing done even if you think you have nothing to worry about. Most insurance covers them anyway and they will probably be required before any type of insemination. If there is anything to find out and treat, you’ll be glad you did it early. Talking to a doctor that doesn’t specialize in same-sex families can be a bit awkward at first, but you have to be willing to speak up and you should have a good feeling about your doctor and their bedside manner before you decide if you want them to handle your pregnancy.  This all makes sure that you have your ducks in a row and it will ease that transition from TTC into pregnancy when the time comes.

Make A Baby Bucket List – This process can take a while and sometimes, there is just nothing to do while you wait. We found it helpful to make a list of things that we wanted to do before we had kids and things that we wouldn’t be able to do for a while after. Go to Vegas, jump out of a plane, stay in bed all weekend, etc. (Okay, so I chickened out on the jumping out of a plane thing.)These are just examples of things that helped me feel like we were doing something for us that didn’t directly involve, doctors, lawyers or trying to get pregnant. Enjoy your lives, have fun with your partner and bond while you check things off your list. You’ll be able to look back one day and treasure that time before you were Mommies. I promise, doing those things will give you an escape and help you feel less overwhelmed. They’ll also make you feel even more ready to start your family.

Change Your Lifestyle – There was a time when we used to spend every Friday and Saturday out drinking with friends and dancing at the club. Even though I got very bored of “going out” I felt like if I was sitting at home on a weekend, I was lame. That may not be your speed, or maybe it is right now but you may want to work on changing that before you end up pregnant. Sometimes this just happens as you get older anyway. We started making a conscience effort to stay in watching movies at home on Friday nights if we didn’t already have plans. We spent more time with our own families and friends that already had kids and things naturally calmed down. It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a culture shock for you if you adjust slowly. We felt as though we had a group of friends in our lives that focused heavily on drinking and created more drama than they were worth so we sort of intentionally drifted out of that scene. We made new friends and we know that they will be there and want to spend time with us, even when there are kids in tow. Look at who you keep around you and if it fits into what you want your life to be.

Give Yourself Time – You have to be ready for anything once you start trying, but also patient enough for it to take a long time, especially if you are dealing with reproductive issues as we were. People are having kids later and later now and some of them fear that dreaded age 35 when your fertility begins to decrease. Find the balance that works best for you and don’t rush. The bottom line is that nothing teaches you patience and to expect the unexpected like having kids. Know what you want but try not to set unrealistic expectations. It can be a hard and scary process and I learned that sometimes things that you think won’t happen to you, do. It’s also the single most rewarding thing you might ever do with your life. Try to relax and enjoy every step of the way.

We hope this helps you and send our best wishes for starting a happy, healthy family!

E, the Mrs & Sprout 🙂

Isn’t ‘life’ what happens when you’re busy making other plans?

10 Jul

I can’t believe that summer is halfway gone already! How is it that I feel as if I’m ALWAYS waiting for things yet that time flies at the same time? It’s crazy.

Mrs E. started her new job yesterday. She’s going to be adjusting for quite a while but she likes it and the people there so far. I am glad to see her out of the stressful environment that she was in before so I hope this is a better fit and she’ll be happy. Her last job dismissed her immediately after she resigned. That often happens to people who have security access to as much as she did, so she got to enjoy a 2 week paid vacation. It was good timing since she had family visiting but again, it felt like we were really busy and those two weeks just went so fast for her!

While her family was here and she was off work, my acupuncturist recommended that I go on a 10-day juice fast as part of my treatment. Even though I had a pretty good diet beforehand, it was apparent to her that my digestion was off and I wasn’t absorbing the nutrients from my food as best I could. Having nothing but pure fruits/veggie juice and water was a way to hit the “reset” button and get things back in order. When your intestines are healthy your hormone levels are more balanced and that’s what we’re working towards. I can’t say that it was the easiest thing that I’ve ever done but it definitely was very cleansing. My digestion and eating habits have improved greatly since I finished it and I think being gluten, dairy and soy free before it started was a big help. I didn’t really crave any foods or go through withdrawal as some people do with it and I lost a few pounds in the process. Unfortunately, I was going through this while we had family staying with us so I was still going out to restaurants with them while they ate wings, steak, indian food, and lots of my other favorites in front of me. I was committed though and stayed strong! I’m still doing juice once a day or so now just because I like it.

When all the juicing commenced we had our follow-up appointment with the doctor did that all the screenings for the IVF program with us. We found that I’m not the blood type that we thought I was, so that actually opens up a lot more options for us when choosing a donor.  We were almost decided on a few and when that widened the spectrum it was back to the drawing board. We are still trying to decide but instead of driving ourselves crazy we just take time every few days to sit down and go through some of them. We were told to pick three and put them on file at our doctors office. They will literally setup our account and order it with our credit card on file when the time comes. They told us as long as we have our selections made a few weeks before our egg retrieval that we’ll be fine.

The next steps are to go back to the RE we saw before and have our IVF consultation. Since he’s head of the program, it’s standard procedure. I was trying to be proactive and had scheduled that appointment for 7/13 before our bloodwork followup but they called yesterday and told me it had to be rescheduled. It wasn’t a long enough time slot to do the full consult. *Sad trombone*. I was so sad but the next earliest they had available was 7/24 so I took it. After that we should need one more appointment with a nurse to go over our med schedule and show us how to do all the injectables. I’m hoping that doesn’t take too long to get scheduled and done. If we have to wait past the 30th for that, then we’re probably not going to be able to start until the end of August. It’s frustrating but I’m trying to call and possibly get into a cancellation slot if we can. If we miss it, we miss it. It’s only a month (I feel like I’ve been saying that every month lately though…)

Lastly, we did complete two tries in June even though we knew we were headed into this whole IVF thing. Why not, right? Well, I didn’t expect anything and have been quite pre-occupied since then so I was just waiting for my period to come. Go figure…now I’m 2 days late. I did take a pregnancy test last weekend but it was negative. It shouldn’t have been too early for a negative but hey, stranger things can happen. Don’t they say that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans? I’m not getting my hopes up at all but I think I need to go home and pee on a stick just to be sure.

Until next time… 🙂

 

So We’re Doing In Vitro Fertilization

19 Jun

It feels really scary to write that title. Terrifying actually, but we just got back from our appointment at the doctor’s office and I’m actually very relieved like we might be on the right track.  We went in and they did a full review of my medical history and then the doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to take a look and compare it to one from December. It seems that I have a decent sized  fibroid in my right ovary and she seems to think that combined with my endometriosis could really be the issues preventing me from getting pregnant. There’s really no way to know unless they go in and remove it though. Basically, we were advised that with my medical history and our available funds that IVF would probably be the best situation for us. We discussed doing IUI assisted with clomid or injectables, but there’s a greater chance that my body won’t respond to it well and then we’ll have depleted the funds that we could have used to do IVF in the first place. Plus, if we end up having embryos that we can freeze, there’s a possibility that we could end up just needing to do another egg transfer to get pregnant again down the road. It’s a drastic measure but one that we’re willing to take now.

The scary parts are the money and I have a fear of all of the effects of these fertility drugs on my body. None of this is covered by insurance and the hospital doesn’t allow us to do any sort of financing for IVF so we’re looking at making one big lump sum payment up front. The success rate that we were quoted was 30%. I know I’ve heard different ones and some even as high as 50%. I’m hoping that the doctor is just being conservative with those numbers. I know in any case that we’ll be heartbroken if this doesn’t work but I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic.

We said right away that we were on board and we thought this might have been where we were headed anyway so we started the process right away. Both of us had to get blood drawn and screened for a slew of STDs and things like that and we had to sign some consent forms. We’ll go back for another appointment to review those blood results and talk about selecting a new donor from a cryobank. They absolutely will not allow us to use our current donor since he is not an intended parent. With all we’ve been through at this point, we’re fine with that. After we select a donor, we have to go back to the RE that I’ve been seeing for our first IVF consultation appointment and then I can start the injectables. They think that we should be able to get all of this taken care of and our first round will actually be in August. I can hardly believe it! It seems like everything always takes so long to get in order but August isn’t that far away at all!

The doctor said that we can keep trying the way we have been until we start IVF since it can’t hurt. We talked about it and we think we’ll still go ahead as planned with June but we may take July off. It would conflict with a scheduled vacation, and although we could work around it, it might be best for us to just take a month to chill out and give our heads and my ladyparts a rest. We’ll talk to our donor this upcoming weekend to sort some things out and let him and his boyfriend know about our plans changing. So, hang on this ride is about to get a bit more bumpy but hopefully this means there are amazing things ahead very soon!

Rainbows, more impatience and acupuncture

5 Jun

We still have a few more days until we find out if this cycle worked or not. I’ve been a little crampy, had a constant headache and have been tired lately but as strange as it sounds, I’m not even focusing on that right now. I’ve actually had to consult my fertility app on my phone to be like “how many more days?” a few times this week. I’m looking forward so much to our next doctor’s appointment in two weeks so that we can find out what the heck our next steps are. I need to know. It’s killing me. “Whenwhenwhenwhenwhenfinallywhen?” is so much louder than the rest of my thoughts.

This past weekend we helped our donor and his boyfriend move to their new place and it’s about a 35 minute drive away. That alone has me  really feeling ready to leave our current plan and move on to our next step/method. Emotionally, I’m just not feeling very attached to them right now and while they will remain friends, I’m sure the distance of their move will only add complications that I just don’t want to deal with anymore.

We also attended a family reunion this weekend and I spent some time talking with my cousin’s wife who is an OBGYN about endometriosis and infertility. While she doesn’t know the full scope of exactly what we’ve been up to she did ask if I had tried acupuncture. I had given it thought before but was really surprised at how quick she was to recommend it.  It motivated me a little more to find a local acupuncturist and I called her today to set up an appointment.

Some of you may wonder why I’m doing this now and why I don’t just wait a few more days or weeks until we know what’s going on. All these little things help me though. They give me some sense of hope and control over the situation. These changes and a bit of space have helped me to pull more out of “my funk” I talked about last time. I’m not all the way out of the woods but I think I’m headed there. We saw a double rainbow on Sunday night, so we’ll hope that’s a good sign and enjoyed the pretty.

So, not much going on but that’s going to be the case sometimes as I’m trying to update more regularly. Oh, and there was this over the weekend too so maybe you can look forward to a post from someone else in the near future for a change. *Ahem*