Ultrasound

Sarah

This week, I was able to see the beautiful little boy growing inside me. My anatomy scan was done and I had the outcome for which I had hoped. The scan showed a sweet little boy who is growing strong with no signs of distress. Ultrasounds can be so comforting to see that baby growing inside and is such a precious open window into the world unseen. The pictures were not as clear as I hoped they would be as he was asleep and quite tucked inside. The heart rate was in the 140’s. He is measuring at 21 weeks. The highlight of my ultrasound was seeing him yawn! These pictures left me with a peacefulness knowing he is alive, breathing, and finishing his growth-time inside his comfortable environment.

Before you were born, I carried you under my heart.
-Mandy Harrison

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Siblings

Sarah

When I began the journey of embryo adoption, I never thought much about the other embryo’s that may not be used after the first transfer. I had been told at the clinic that they encouraged parents to use the leftover embryos for siblings. At the time, my mind was so concentrated on having just one baby. I had experienced so many failed attempts to conceive over the last six years that just having a successful pregnancy was the big dream of accomplishment. After my daughter was born, I immediately felt a great emotional weight as to what would be the fate of the last two embryos. This was neither something I nor my husband had expected. In fact, with the miscarriages, money spent, and disappointment we were still carrying a lot of emotional baggage after years of trying to conceive. We both had similar levels of emotions and mentality regarding another pregnancy.

As I came to my check-up six weeks after the birth, I was feeling so distressed about the decision of keeping our last two embryos. I tried to put it off as long as possible. We decided that we would wait to make a decision on the embryos that were in storage. As adopting parents, I was surprised that we would be so emotionally attached to the remaining embryos that were not biologically ours. I feel that time helped us make the best decision possible. This is defiantly a hard subject to offer an opinion on, as every family has to be in a healthy place to have more children that are wanted and can be cared for. I do feel that there is a level of guilt that can be attached to giving up sibling embryos. That is one of the reasons that I felt we needed to wait on this decision. I really wanted to make sure the decision was right and was made without obligation or guilt.

My daughter was a year-and-half when we finally decided to use the leftover siblings. We were also timing out with our combined age limit. One of the biggest fears that haunted me was that I would not be able to conceive and would feel damaged by wanting “that baby all over again.” I really had to get myself emotionally ready to go through another transfer. My husband was scared we would have twins and have to take too much on at one time. It was a challenge for both of us in different ways. In the end, we are thankful for a sibling for my daughter and my husband is thankful we are having just one more. I feel very relieved to emotionally bring closure to our adoption as we have used all the embryos from our group and feel we made the right choice for our family and my adopted daughter. I am very blessed to achieve two pregnancies and bring these two beautiful babies into the world. It will forever be my greatest accomplishment!

Halfway

Sarah

I am 20 weeks and I can’t believe I am halfway done! Already with this pregnancy, I have been so much more relaxed and I have done nothing to prepare! I am feeling a little behind now. I am feeling the baby move more each day. I received my spinal bifida test and it was normal. Thank God! I am so relieved things are staying healthy at this point. Next week, I get an anatomy scan done and, yes, I am running behind on that, too. Basically my doctor and midwife friends have all left so I have been interviewing people to take their place. It has been a struggle to find a perfect fit. I am working through my birth-plan and trying to decide how to proceed with all of that. I feel buying anything for the baby has been the last priority. I have been more concerned about having the birth I really want in the end. I live in a smaller city with fewer options and providers for health care.

I did schedule my newborn photos and am trying to decide if I want to do the 3-D ultrasound pictures of the baby. I didn’t do them with my daughter as I was unsure of the exposure risks. However, while I know there are people who feel this may be an unsafe exposure on the baby, I am still looking into this and working out my feelings on getting these done (as this will be my last pregnancy). There seems to be so many more tests and interventions than ever before related to pregnancy. I do feel women have to really educate themselves on all tests and stand strong for what they don’t want or is not necessary.

My husband and I are currently talking over all the newborn interventions at birth. As a pediatrician, it has been emotionally challenging for him to stop and evaluate policy over my wishes and feelings. As a mom, I have challenged him to give me information on what is necessary and defend himself over policy and what he believes is good for our baby. This was definitely the monster in the closet I was waiting to bring out way before the birth of this baby. I have looked back at the birth of my daughter with questions of why we did some of the interventions that were policy at the hospital and am not feeling so comfortable with all of that! I will be blogging more about those interventions after our discussion.

People tell me I am so lucky to live with a baby doctor!! My response is- not always- as it can be educationally and emotionally challenging in debating heart issues verses policy and medical interventions. In the end, my husband has a lot of respect for mommies and their babies, especially me!

Birthday Blessings

Sarah

Our sweet Vivienne turned two this weekend! What a celebration of life it has been in remembering our journey with our miracle baby who was born January 9th, 2013. Her birth was an awesome event that has changed our lives. Words can’t describe the anticipation and pining that I had for this sweet baby! As most Mom’s on here can know so well, there was a lot of pain before her life was connected with ours. These memories have impended my heart and I continue to pray and advocate for all the frozen embryos that need those moms with open hearts to receive these miracles.

My pregnancy with Vivienne was not easy, nor the birth and recovery after my C-section, but every time I look at her face it melts my heart to feel chosen to be her Mom. I could have never imagined that I could feel so connected to her. Even in adoption the bond can be just as strong as a biological child. This was not something I thought was possible before I went through my transfer. I thought that this baby not looking like our family or having a connection to us, it would feel strange and something I would have to work on, but that was not the case. It was an immediate loving connection. Her life is truly a celebration each day. Attached are pictures at birth and on her second birthday.

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It’s a Boy!

Sarah

I am still in shock over the news of the gender of this baby. What a wonderful surprise! In my past blogs, I have stated how much this pregnancy was so much like my daughter’s and even more hormonal. When I carried my daughter, my symptoms were very similar – but the nausea has been so much worse. I really believed I was carrying a girl and would have bet money on it! I still haven’t seen the ultrasound but my blood test came back that I am carrying a boy. God is full of surprises! I will be getting my anatomy scan on the baby and will post pictures soon.

We have begun preparing my daughter for the baby a little more each month. We talk about the baby everyday and I show her pictures. It is amazing how quick toddlers pick up on these things. It is very exciting to see her think about it and take it all in. These last few days we have started potty training. The thought of trying to accomplish this task either right before giving birth or after does not seem workable. She is very excited about the attention she is getting and it is going very well. Vivienne really has blossomed into a toddler. Here birthday is this week and she will be 2. She is doing and saying so much more everyday. I am excited to keep working on the big transition of her going from baby to big sister!

Finally, I am trying to get creative on how I can use some of the pink baby items we have and convert them for a boy. It was so hard not to buy pink with my girl so I was not thinking – if I had another, it would be a boy! We are not planning on having any more babies; it seems wasteful to buy all new baby stuff for a boy because it’s pink. It will be nice to have a change of color to blue and the see how each child will compliment the other.

Reflections 2014

Sarah

In September of this year, we transferred our last two embryos. In preparation for the transfer, we traveled to Tennessee for our trial transfer in May. We were able to meet up with another couple who were also embryo recipients. This was an awesome opportunity and experience. At the same time, we were going through a lot of emotions with being back at NEDC for the first time since 2012.

I was very excited and nervous to get medically cleared and talk about our embryos and what our options were if the transfer was not successful. I tried not to have too many expectations; out of experience, there are always circumstances that may arise to alter what plans we have made. I was worried about what may come up in our returning interview that would change our desired course of having a sibling for our daughter.

During our visit with Dr. Keenan, there was a discovery that I had two strange-looking growths on both of my ovaries. The look on this man’s face told me something could be terribly wrong. We left that day with cancer being a possibility and the fate of our leftover embryos in God’s hands. I went from being hopeful to terrified! I just couldn’t believe what was happening. Like I said, you just never know what can change the outcome of our plans. At that point I knew trusting God was what I had to do and that maybe this day saved my life.

After getting the tests back with a wonderful negative to the cancer possibility, I still remained at an emotional distance. I had no control over the outcome of things. Our transfer was successful as both embryos survived the thaw and found a home in me. But even Dr. Keenan said, “Its in God’s hands now.” I truly believe that God orchestrated this decision. Only one baby survived out of the two and, by embryo standards, they were top-grade. It is so hard to embrace that outcome, at times.

Even now with every ultrasound and test done, I can’t bring myself to think ahead because I know I have to take one day at a time. I am now 17 weeks and get nervous that everything is ok. Will this baby make it to its birthday? When I go over every milestone of its life so far I have to bring myself to surrender. Even then it is a hard and emotionally challenging some days to trust God for safekeeping. In looking back on 2014, I am thankful this path has led to a sibling-pregnancy and cancer-free outcome. Thank you Jesus! Hoping and praying for a healthy baby and all the new babies that will come from embryo adoption in 2015!

Safekeeping

Sarah

Lately, I have been dealing with decisions for my prenatal care and birth outcome. I really wanted to blog about issues regarding patient rights and medical care decisions. While being passionate about this, I keep in mind the vow I took to protect the embryo that is adopted inside me.

At my recent prenatal visit, I was told (and not asked) that I would be having a vaginal exam. I declined to have this done and stated that I would not put my baby at risk of being exposed to bacteria. I stated I that I would not have a procedure that was not necessary. The nurse that was helping had a shocked looked on her face and scolded my decision and said, “But this is protocol.” Like everyone else, I have had bad experiences with health care professionals and the system itself. I have tried to educate myself as an individual and a parent of regarding my rights. I was relieved that the lady taking care of me was a midwife friend and did not react in a way that the whole situation could have escalated. But really, unless I was having a pap smear done, was this really necessary?

In the same appointment, I was asked if I wanted a new test that is being offered to women over 35 (it is a blood tests that tests for several birth defects and will tell you the gender of your baby). It is supposed to be 99% accurate. My first thoughts were “no way” as the outcome would not push me to make a medical decision to terminate this pregnancy; but, I really wanted to know the gender and I thought that, by getting this test done, I would be less tempted to get ultrasounds done that were not necessary so I could know the “secret” of my baby’s gender. Ridiculous, I know, but I know where my weak points are.

I got the test done and, a few days later, a huge article was put in a main news source which revealed that the test results for this type of test from different companies were coming back with false positives as high as 50%! The article interviewed a mom that almost aborted her baby because the test showed it would was severally deformed and the test was wrong (more tests showed the baby was normal). Thank God!

I was very upset from this article and upset with myself that I wasted time and money to do this. I have been evaluating what is medically necessary and what decisions I need to make to protect my baby at birth from unnecessary procedures and forced decisions on me. I hope and pray that moms that have taken the vow to protect the gift they have adopted will educate themselves to make the best-informed decisions.