Thursday, April 6, 2017

24 | viability and gratitude

Week twenty-four. This is one of my favorite pregnancy milestones. Viability. If you're not familiar with this milestone, at twenty-four weeks a baby has viability which means if, God forbid, the baby is born 16 weeks early, the miracle workers in the NICU can give the baby a fighting chance.  While I am hoping to make it to July 27 (or you know, July 19), it's nice to know we have crossed this major hurdle when it comes to the safety of the unborn babe.  This milestone makes me all kinds of emotional since this is our last pregnancy and our journey to get here makes me a bit weepy and so incredibly grateful. So while I am feeling super emotional, it seems like a really great idea to talk a little bit more about our journey to get to 24 weeks and the three women who helped make this possible.

When I made the decision to come back to SGF, I was lucky enough to be put on Dr. O'Brien's clinical team, or as we like to call ourselves the #dreamteam. At that time, I had no idea the magnitude of the role that the three women pictured with me below would play in not only getting me pregnant but also getting me through my first trimester and beyond. The support and compassion that my team has shown me makes me feel like the luckiest person alive. I truly am blessed beyond measure.

Dr. O, Jessica, Me and Shawn
All in all, a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle is really pretty easy (at least at SGF).  You pick a day (Monday through Friday) that you like that has availability, you date the protocol backwards from the date of transfer and boom, you're all set.  There are three appointments: a baseline appointment, a lining check and the transfer.  For comparison sake, my IVF cycle had nine monitoring appointments, the retrieval and then the transfer for a total of 11 appointments.  The medications are a bit intense for IVF but it's 12 days of shots. My cycle had a total of 26 tiny subcutaneous shots.  Meanwhile, an all-injectable frozen embryo transfer cycle has just shy of 80 intramuscular shots. Ouch. When B and I made the decision to go through with an FET cycle, I was told that the best course of action was going to be an all injectable cycle. Studies show that the success rates are better than mixed medication protocol cycles. I was nervous. Jessica and Shawn eased my fears and offered to give me my shots before I left work every afternoon.  So with the exception of maybe 10 or 12 shots, Jessica and Shawn gave me almost 70 shots. That alone is a lot to be thankful for but my teammates did not stop there.

I wanted this pregnancy, badly. Jessica and Shawn knew that. When I made the decision to test early, they held their breath and were cautiously optimistic as we waited for the stick results to come back.  They did the same thing the next day when I used a digital test. I later found out that on the day of my first blood test, they had come up with a back-up plan if my initial blood pregnancy test was not promising. Jessica would call B and let him know, then she would drive me home and Shawn would follow to get them back to work. They were not going to let me stay at work miserable and emotional. They were going to protect me from the bad. Could I have sweeter teammates, better friends? 

My first trimester was a, seemingly, easy one. I never felt pregnant or had any symptoms (other than exhaustion but with a toddler, is this anything new?) so it was easy to get through those first weeks. However, at 11 weeks, I had a gush of blood while I was at work. It was the most terrifying moment and reminded me so much of my miscarriage. It was still very early in the morning but I text Jessica and Shawn and waited for Dr. O to arrive. Dr. O did not hesitate to do a scan since my OB office was not open yet. When Shawn got to work, she never questioned the necessity for her to be in the exam room with me and held my hand as I held my breath and waited for the news. Jessica got to work and came to find us in monitoring. While all three of them knew that whatever was happening was beyond their control, they never hesitated to make me feel like we were doing everything we could to make sure my pregnancy and my baby were safe.  As we learned more about the subchorionic bleed, they reassured me and every ultrasound that showed change and a smaller bleed was celebrated. 

After my anatomy scan, I returned to the office with my news of the placenta previa. My teammates, former L&D nurses, reassured me that we would still be able to have a great outcome. We talked about the implications and they answered all of my questions. Shawn and Jessica kept me sane and eased my concerns. 

Each week that has passed since, my team has made me more excited than nervous about this next chapter. I know that this pregnancy has been so easy (you know, minus that whole subchorionic bleed and placenta previa), in part, because of them. I have made it to viability with their help and I am so grateful to be at this milestone with these incredible, compassionate, wonderful women by my side.