Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Weeks 7-9

Trigger warning: pregnancy discussed

Things have been a little up and down since our first appointment where we saw the heartbeat. Mainly great but I've also had some very anxious moments.

Dr. Peppy, the doctor at our fertility clinic gave me a plan for how to taper off Prednisolone the steroids I've been taking. It was quite a steep drop. I was to go from 15mg a day to 10mg then three days later drop again to 5mg then three days later to 2.5mg and then stop completely. I reduced the first amount from 15mg to 10mg but then I noticed my glands were slightly swollen and I wondered whether it might be a side effect. I also started to get nervous about going off the steroids so soon. I did some research online and most women who take prednisolone to reduce inflammation stay on them till the twelfth week of pregnancy before then gradually tapering off.

So I decided it best to phone the immune doctor to confirm with her. The treatment plan I had been given just said to reduce once the heartbeat was established but it was vague. When I phoned and explained the situation the lady at the practice seemed alarmed and said I shouldn't have reduced already, that it was too soon! She said that she would get the doctor to email me to tell me what to do. Obviously that phone call worried me! I decided to not reduce any further and to stay on 10mg until I heard from the doctor. It took several anxiety filled days before I got an email from the immune clinic. The email emphasised again that it had been too soon to go down without having my natural killer cell level activity rechecked. I was asked whether I wanted another treatment plan sent out to which I immediately replied in the affirmative. I was freaking out after the email though. Really worried that I might have ruined everything. My sister had also told me all about a friend of hers who had had a traumatic missed miscarriage at 10 weeks recently and I couldn't stop thinking about it which probably didn't help my worries.

Hubby thought we should trust dr. Peppy. Another friend I asked thought I should listen to the immune doc who is the expert in the area. Hubby offered to phone the practice to discuss what I should do. I thought that would be a good idea because I didn't want anything to be lost in translation (remember all the communication had been in German)! The email had come across as very harsh! But then things in German can often come across that way to non native speakers. Anyway hubby phoned and discussed my treatment with the doctor - He said that the fact that I reduced the prednisolone wasn't that bad, the issue was that I had gone down too severely, I should have only reduced by 2.5mg amounts not 5mg. The new plan was that I stay on 10mg for another two weeks (till week 10) and then in one week intervals start to go down by 2.5mg.

I am also able to reduce the Granocyte injections from every third day to every four for two weeks then every five days. I felt very relieved after that phone call! That said I was still nervous for the eight week scan. This time the appointment was done at my local gyno. It went great thank God! The baby is actually starting to look like a tiny person now, not just a dot! It was really incredible to see the head and tiny hands. Everything looked perfect. The doctor also gave me a book about pregnancy. Afterwards I got another Intralipid infusion done.

The only bad thing was that my doctor was pretty against flying at all during pregnancy. He said it increases the risk of thrombosis and miscarriage slightly so we would be taking a risk travelling to Dublin for my brother's wedding. Hubby and I did discuss whether we should cancel the trip but I really wanted to go. Also lots of people have flown pregnant and been ok so I felt like it should be fine. That doesn't mean I wasn't anxious though! I avoided the x-ray machines in the airport and even wore a "belly band" which is meant to protect against radiation which I'd ordered online! We had a great time, it was so nice seeing everyone. I even told a few friends and an aunt who had been praying for us and knew about our struggles our "news" in person, which was lovely. Everyone has been extremely happy for us. It still all feels surreal though to be honest! I wonder when it will actually feel more real. Part of me is scared at times to enjoy it too much in case I jinx it, but then the other part wants to enjoy every second!

I noticed a few more "symptoms" kicked in since week eight. If I let myself get too hungry I will start to feel quite nauseous. My sense of smell is sharper. I've also been feeling more tired and I've been more forgetful too! After the Ireland trip, I felt exhausted. Work was quite stressful too for various reasons. Then a few days later for the first time in this pregnancy I had some red spotting. It happened late at night. It reminded me of the awful miscarriage I had after our first IVF and for several seconds I just thought "Oh no, no, no..." However it was only a small amount of bleeding and it stopped soon after thankfully. I found it hard to sleep that night and kept wondering what I should do - go to the hospital, phone my gyno in the morning or do nothing and assume everything is fine. In the end I decided to call my doctor first thing. When I phoned and explained about the small amount of bleeding (but no cramps) I was told to make my way there immediately. That was quite nerve wracking as you can imagine! It was a different doctor this time but she was very nice. She checked my cervix which was closed and the right length, and she couldn't locate the source of the bleeding. She said that some spotting can be normal in the first trimester. Then she did a scan to check on the baby.

At first it just looked like a blob this time! I couldn't make out where the head was. She said the baby was in a funny position with his/her head leaning over the body looking at the feet. We both stared at the screen and there was no sign of a heartbeat at first. It seemed like it took forever while the doctor kept moving the ultrasound wand around. I was thinking something like "Oh God, oh God, please can the baby be ok". After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a minute, she found the heartbeat and everything was fine! She did comment that the baby was "small". I didn't like the sound of that. It took ages to get a measurement because of the awkward position but it looked like baby is about a week behind in growth. The doctor said not to worry though. She also wrote me off sick for several days and told me to rest at home and take magnesium. If I have any more bleeding or get cramps outside their practice opening hours then I should go straight to the hospital.

Luckily everything has been fine since then. I've just been taking it very easy. Watching lots of The Good Wife again! I go back for another scan early next week. Hopefully the baby will have grown more by then. I'm trying not to worry about the growth thing. I read on online forums that it's normal enough in the first trimester for the baby to measure a week ahead or behind. I also think that the baby's awkward position could have messed up the measurement. So that's a run down on the last few weeks! Only a few more to get through until, please God, I'll make it safely into the second trimester.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Silly question of the day

This question was doing the rounds on social media recently. If you had a choice of taking a blue pill and restarting your life at age 10 but with all you know now, or of taking a red pill and waking up age 45 with 50 million dollars, what would you choose?

I did think about it for a moment but to me it's clear, I would go for the blue pill! Why would I want to wish the next ten years of my life away? Sure I would get a million dollars but so what, to me the years in between spent with friends and family are a lot more valuable! I do realise that being in a position to turn down a million dollars probably also shows that I already have a certain amount of privilege. I have a roof over my head and plenty of access to food and health care. I'm sure there are lots of people who would be desperate for the money for various reasons.

Life is short and the thought of getting more time is appealing. That said, I don't particularly like the idea of having to start at age 10 all over again! I would have to go through the teenage years with all those crazy hormones, immature friends, not to mention exams which doesn't sound particularly appealing. However I have gained a lot of knowledge by now that I think I could manage it!

The main advantage for me of course would be the opportunity to spend time with my late Mum again. She passed just before my 23rd birthday. The idea of getting another 13 years with her would be amazing. And this time I would make sure we have more quality time. The idea of having to watch her get sick again is hard though, but maybe with my knowledge I could send her to the doctor earlier so she could get diagnosed sooner. I would try to be a better daughter this hypothetical time too.

I also wouldn't care as much about what other people think of me. As I've gotten older I've realised how little that really matters and that you should rather be true to yourself.

I would invest in shares, haha! Google, Facebook, Apple... maybe that way by age 45 I'd easily have saved a million dollars.

I was considering whether I would study something different at university for a total change but then I realised that the subjects I picked (German among others) ended up leading me down a path where I met my now husband and moved to Germany. I'm very happy with these decisions so I'd probably be better off studying the same topics and not changing any of the big life choices I made in the past.

It is also possible that maybe I would drive myself crazy trying to stop awful events which I would know in advance about. There's this character from ancient Greek mythology called Cassandra. She was given the gift of foresight but no one ever believes her so it becomes a horrible curse.

Which would you pick if you were given the choice? I guess choosing neither is also an option.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Trigger warning: pregnancy mentioned.

Firstly I wanted to say thanks so much for all the lovely comments and messages from everyone! It really means a lot to us.

Well I finally the day I've been waiting years for arrived. It was my first pregnancy ultrasound ever! The appointment wasn't till 5pm and it felt like such a long day waiting for it. On the way to the clinic, hubby and I both felt pretty nervous. I couldn't help thinking that either it was going to be an amazing moment or an awful one! Once we were called in to Dr. Peppy we spoke for a few minutes and then she suggested we do the ultrasound. I jumped up, pretty eager to finally see what's going on in there!

She started having a look and pretty immediately found something - the gestational sac with a tiny fetus..and a heartbeat too! I literally burst into tears at that stage! Mostly from relief to be honest. Just all the anxiety had been building up and I was so relieved and happy to know that everything is ok! The doctor also confirmed that there is only one baby in there. I did feel a little sad thinking about the other embryo that didn't make it but we are still absolutely delighted with one. A multiple pregnancy would have had more risks. We would be so grateful for one healthy baby! Once I pulled myself together and stopped crying I was able to ask some questions. It was so amazing seeing the little heartbeat! You can't really see much at this early stage (six weeks), just that something is there. The baby is only the size of a pomegranate seed!

Then Dr. Peppy discussed all my meds. I am to continue taking something for my thyroid plus baby aspirin. The Granocyte injections will be kept up every three days until I reach the 2nd trimester. I will need to continue getting the intralipid infusions every two weeks until then too. Progesterone tablets and steroids I can gradually start reducing now. And then she said that that would be my last appointment there, the next one would be at my local gyno! Wow, gradation from the fertility clinic already. We thanked the doctor profusely for all her help. She could see how happy and overwhelmed we were!

Afterwards I got another Intralipid done. That took almost two hours. The clinic had really bad reception so it was ages before I was able to message my family to let them know how the appointment went! Everyone was delighted. To be honest this whole experience still feels completely surreal. Sort of like I've woken up in a parallel world where our dream is actually coming true. This morning I phoned my gyno and arranged an appointment for two weeks time. I'll be eight weeks pregnant by then, please God.

I don't think either of us will be able to fully relax until the second trimester to be honest. I still have a fair bit of anxiety. That said, I am absolutely loving the thought that there is a tiny baby growing in there right now. I'm praying so hard that it will be a viable pregnancy and the little one will stick around. So far my only symptoms have been increased appetite, sore boobs, tiredness and lots of heartburn! Hubby is excited too. He's even been thinking about how many months he'd like to take as parental leave (In Germany, you get 14 months to share among the parents). It's so amazing to dream and imagine.