The Baby Bean Blog

Monday, January 31, 2005

Not a CF Carrier!

Good news. I got my results back, and I'm not a carrier for cystic fibrosis. Yippee! Everything looks good, except that my iron levels are a little bit low, which could explain why I've been exhausted this past week. I've been tired for the whole 11 weeks, don't get me wrong. But this past week, oh my god, it's a whole new level of exhaustion. Apparently, this could be the result of not eating green vegetables, which are high in iron. As I've mentioned before, vegetables have been making my stomach upset, so I've almost completely abandoned them this past two weeks. I guess it's time to start choking them down again.

But anyway, the good news is that there's no chance that my kid will have cystic fibrosis. Perhaps this is a good omen....

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Very Cool Link

I actually found this link a while back, but for whatever reason, I didn't post it. It's a little online tool so that you can see a baby's fetal development over the nine months of gestation. Check it out when you get a chance. The coolest thing to me about it is that (I assume) it's showing the growth by scale.

Without further ado, Your Baby's Growth Over 40 Weeks. You'll also see a link to it in my sidebar, so if you're curious, you can see what stage the baby is in as you read the posts to come.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cystic Fibrosis Screening

So I went to get some blood drawn yesterday. What a pain in my ass, as I have mentioned before, namely because it takes so goddamn long. But anyway, I did it. It's kind of annoying, because the "pregnancy panel" thingy that was the main agenda for the blood draw was completely comprised of tests I'd just had run in August. Hello, I haven't gotten syphilis since then. But whatever. I probably would have put it off longer...except for the fact that I decided that I wanted to be screened to see if I am a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene.

For those who don't know, cystic fibrosis is a bad disease to have. It attacks the lungs and digestive tract and the reproductive organs. People who have CF have a lifespan of about 33 years. So how does one "get it"?

Well, both of your parents have to carry the gene, and if they both do, you've got a 25% of being born with it (as it is a congenital disease). I have never been screened for CF. I assumed that my sperm donor had. Imagine my surprise when I contacted the sperm bank and was told that, no, he hadn't. Their more recent donors have been, but not him (he donated 10 years ago). Great. I particularly liked this comment from the email I received from the sperm bank: "PS Most to carry the CF gene don't know it." Aw, thanks. How sweet. Like I'm not already freaked out enough about this possibility.

But the odds are low. I have a 1 in 25 shot (as a white American) of carrying the gene, which works out to a 4% chance. Now, as my donor must also carry the gene, and he also has a 4% chance, those are some pretty slim odds. On top of that, even if we both had it (unlikely), then we're dealing with a 25% chance the kid would have it. Of course, I don't even want to go that far.

I imagine that I will have the results back next Monday. If they say I'm not a carrier (fingers crossed), then this whole concern will be settled.

Monday, January 24, 2005

First Prenatal Visit

I went to the Birth Center today for my first prenatal visit. It was actually quite stressful for two reasons. First of all, they couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler. I'm trying not to worry about this too much, as it is still early in the pregnancy, and it is not uncommon that they would be unable to find the heartbeat via an external doppler at 10 weeks, 4 days. But I do have to admit that I would have felt much better if I had heard the heartbeat. Apparently, my uterus is tilted and my pelvis is deep and who knows what else. Anyway, these things mean that it's hard to get a good position, externally. It's times like these when I really wish there was an ultrasound available.

The second sort of complication that comes along with the failure to hear the heartbeat is that it makes me second guess whether or not I should tell people about the pregnancy in two and a half weeks, as I had planned. My next appointment with the midwife, hence my next opportunity to hear the heartbeat, is in four weeks. So I could just wait until after then....except that I'm going with my mother to see the dentist the day before my appointment, and I'll have to tell my dentist that I am pregnant before she starts scraping around inside my mouth. Our dentist's office is very open, and she is chatty, so there's no way that my mother wouldn't overhear.

So what I think I'm going to do is go back to the Birth Center in two weeks and ask them to listen again. Hopefully at that time, 12+ weeks, they'll pick up the heartbeat. And if they don't, I'll just demand a prescription to get an ultrasound. I'm sure everything is fine, but I'm not fucking around with this anymore than I have to.

The other stressful thing about this appointment is that we discussed genetic screening. I am not at any risk of having a baby with a genetic/chromosonal abnormality...but of course I wonder if something has gone wrong anyway. I think a lot of pregnant women do. You can't see that everything is fine, and you want so desperately to believe that everything is fine, that you can't help but contemplate the worst. Right now I'm leaning towards not doing any genetic screening, but I'll have to think about that a bit more. Perhaps I'll dedicate a post to that sometime soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Week 10 Progress Report

My little bean, this is a big day for you. You have officially made the switch from embryo to fetus! Much like your first five weeks, your last five weeks have been chock full of growing and becoming a "little one" (which is what "fetus" means).

You've developed a brain and a spinal column. The neural tube between your brain and spinal cord has closed. You've started to develop sex organs, although it's far too early for us on the outside to know which gender you are. You've been busy growing arms and legs, and you've even started to refine your limbs with wrists, ankles and very tiny fingers. Most of your "bones" are still only cartilage, but just recently, real bone cells have begun to form.

You've got your own bloodstream now, although for most of these past five weeks, the placenta has not been quite up to speed yet. Your face is starting to adopt all the human characteristics, such as eyes! ears! a nose! a mouth! a tongue! little, tiny tooth buds! Don't get me wrong; your face still looks a little strange; but it's coming right along.

Your fledgling nervous system has enabled you to move, as early as my last ultrasound, when the tech told me that you kept moving around, making it hard to get a read on your heartbeat.

Most astounding of all, you have increased your length by over 30 times what you were five weeks ago. You were barely over 1mm in length, and as of today, you are around 1.5 inches! No wonder I'm so tired! In order to accomodate all this growth, my uterus is now twice the size it was before you were there.

We are 1/4th of the way through now. 10 weeks down. 30 more to go!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Birth Center Downside

The big downside of using the Birth Center, for me, is their lack of high tech type equipment, particularly an ultrasound. Actually, that's the only thing that they don't have that I wish they did. I know I've already had two chances to see the little bean, but I had really been looking forward to a 10 week-ish ultrasound. By that time, the little one looks kind of like a little person. You know, a distinct head, arms, legs, the whole works.

The Birth Center can write a prescription for an ultrasound, and they will do so somewhere between 17-20 weeks, because I will be having that ultrasound. It's the one where you can find out what sex the baby is as well as see how all of his/her systems are developing.

They said that health insurance companies usually only authorize one ultrasound per pregnancy for normal, healthy pregnancies. So how have I gotten two already? Well, my fertility doc checked off a box that said my pregnancy was at risk, so I guess then you get however many the doctor wants. But I don't know if the Birth Center would do that. It's just a difference of philosophy. The fertility doctor is dealing with people who have problems conceiving and/or maintaining pregnancies. He considers all of his pregnancies at risk, whereas the Birth Center specifically deals with healthy, normal pregnancies. They won't take you if you have a problem, because if you have a problem, you should be giving birth in a hospital.

So what does all that mean? No 10 week ultrasound.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hello, Cravings and Aversions!

Of late, I have been experiencing the strangeness of cravings and food aversions. Like many, I'd been led to believe that a pregnant woman's body craves foods that have nutrients she requires and feels aversions to foods that would be harmful to her or to her baby. Unfortunately, I can't find much basis in fact for that argument with my own food aversions.

It started way back about a week after I found out I was pregnant. Up until then, I had about two cups of coffee every morning. I loved my coffee. It gave me something to sip on for about an hour or two. And then one day, I was pouring myself some coffee, and my stomach tensed up and said, "No....we're just not in the mood for that, 'kay?" I shrugged it off and thought to myself that it must be something else causing this reaction. I mean, it couldn't be my coffee! But I couldn't finish my two cups of coffee that morning, and when it happened the next day, even stronger, I realized that yes, it was my coffee.

I know what you're thinking. That makes sense. Caffeine is bad for you and ergo for the baby. And you'd be right to some extent. Studies show that two servings of caffeine a day are completely safe for pregnancy, so I didn't feel much guilt about continuing with my coffee habit. But when the aversion struck me, I decided that my body was being very sensible and I would listen to it. Although, I'd like to add here, my body had no problem whatsoever with my drinking Coca-Cola.

But then about a week or so ago, I developed a new food aversion to....vegetables. Obviously, this makes no sense at all. Vegetables are not bad for me nor my little one. Vegetables are good, and I should be eating lots of them, and in fact, I was until this happened. Around the same time, I found myself desperate for sugar. Ice cream, candy bars, etc. Again, obviously, these food are not good for me or the baby and have almost zero nutritional value. Although you could make the argument (and I have) that ice cream is at least a source of calcium.

After doing a little research, I've found that many pregnant women have aversions to foods that are bitter. Coffee, yes, that's bitter. And although I never really thought of them this way before, non-starchy vegetables are bitter. Vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, etc. etc. Vegetables that I formerly liked and tried to eat because of their high nutritional value, now make my stomach turn. Fruits, pastas, and protein sources are just fine. And also starchy vegetables like potatoes and peas. I've got no problem with them. Of course, your body converts those veggies into glucose quicker than it converts a candy bar.

For me, rather than having "morning sickness," I tend to feel the most nauseous in the evening. Then, it's basically impossible for me to eat non-starchy vegetables. But I can handle them--although not happily--around lunch time. So I've been trying to get them in then instead of at dinner. And as for the sugar cravings...well that's probably related to how tired I am all the time. I want that sugar boost to keep me going. I'm trying to manage it as much as I can.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Where the Little Bean Will Be Born

So it looks like I'm going to give birth au naturale in a birth center, not a hospital. My partner and I went to a local birth center last night. If you would like to read up on birth centers, check this out. Basically, having a baby in a birth center versus having a baby in a hospital means more freedom. Freedom to move. Freedom to decide what happens to you and to your baby. And oh yes, freedom to feel the pain. Birth center birth means no epidural (that thing they stick in your spine so you don't feel anything). No drugs of any kind. Well, not completely. Apparently, if you beg, they'll give you something called stadol (butorphanol tartrate), a synthetic narcotic.

Why am I choosing to give birth at a birth center? Good question. I guess it's a matter of philosophy. At a birth center, they treat labor and birth as a natural process. They have "clients," not patients. And like I said, I'll have complete say in what I do, what is done to me, and the same goes for the baby. Also, they don't whisk the baby away right after the birth. In fact, they don't take the baby away at all. The baby stays in the room with you the whole time. They do want to weigh him/her and measure him/her, etc., but that is done on your time frame. You might hold your baby for six hours before you let them weigh him or her.

At this birth center, you go home within 12 hours after the birth. That seems kind of short to me, honestly. But if the birth goes fine, and I am fine, and the baby is fine, I guess it will be time to go home and start being a family. The reason for the early release is that the birth center is an out-patient facility. If they allowed you to stay for more than 12 hours, then they would be a hospital.

Speaking of hosptials, you might be wondering why I would leave the safety of a hospital for this very important event. As it turns out, the birth center of my choosing (and most birth centers, actually) is located right across the street from a hospital. If something should be wrong with me or the baby, we would be transfered there immediately. At the seminar we went to yesterday, they spoke at length about the precautions they take, and I feel safe there--especially with the hospital so close by.

So that's that. Onwards I go. The birth center also does all the prenatal care. I have my first appointment with them on January 24. I'll be 10 weeks, 4 days pregnant then.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Keeping the Secret

As you know if you've been reading this blog, my partner and I decided not to tell anyone about the pregnancy until after the first trimester. This is a common recommendation in pregnancy books because of the high chance of miscarriage in the first trimester. As I've said before, dealing with a miscarriage would be hard enough. Dealing with having to tell people about it time and time again would be unbearable. So we decided to wait out the first trimester before breaking the news.

Only, that reason (fear of miscarriage) doesn't hold much water these days. According to my doctor, my chance of having a miscarriage has dropped to under 2%. Not much of a chance at all, although still a possibility. Of course, it will be a possibility until I'm somewhere in my third trimester.

My mother is the person I most want to share the news with. I am her only child, and therefore I represent her only opportunity to have a grandchild. And I know that she wants one because she was so excited last year when I was trying. It's hard not to just take her aside and say, "Mom, I'm pregnant!"

But even though fear of miscarriage isn't really dictating my decision not to tell her anymore, we've still decided to keep this news to ourselves for the next five weeks. I'm not sure why. I guess I want to keep this time for myself, my partner, and our baby. And I guess I want to hold onto the unreality of it for a while longer. I interact in a world where I am, essentially, not pregnant since no one knows that I am pregnant. Part of me wants to shed that unreality, but another, stronger part of me wants to hold on to it. Then when people do find out, I'll already be a third of the way through.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Here's Looking at You, Kid (Part II)

Today I went in for my final appointment with my reproductive endocrinologist (that's the kind of doctor that specializes in fertility). I got to have another ultrasound, and we got to see the baby's heartbeat! I know you've heard/read this type of cheesy stuff before, but it was amazing. I mean, the baby has a heart! A heart that beats! 158 beats per minute! I mean, there's getting to be a real, little person in there. And also a real little person, who is nonetheless much bigger than before, but still only 13.9 mm (or barely over half an inch). Without further ado, here's the picture!

In this picture, the baby is basically completely upside down (although I'm sure s/he doesn't mind), and the baby is facing towards the left. Yes, I know that it just looks like an oval blob, but it's my oval blob, and it was certainly more interesting to see video of it as opposed to this still picture. Not only did we get to see the heartbeat, we also got to see the beginning of its spinal cord! Very, very cool. And when you compare this picture to the first picture, it's amazing how much the little bean has grown.

In our last meeting with the doctor, he "graduated" me, and now we're off to find a midwife, most likely. We're going to a birth center on Thursday evening to check it out. We're pretty sure that's what we want to do, but I'm waiting to see the place before we make our final decision. The doctor also said that now that we can see the heartbeat and the embryo is longer than 8mm, the chances of miscarriage are less than 2%.

I was so worried before this that the baby had "stopped thriving" that I feel so relieved now. But a part of me wonders how long this contentedness will last. It would be wonderful if I no longer worried that there was something wrong or that I will miscarry, but I'm pretty sure that after a week or so, I'll be back to feeling anxious....