Saturday, October 27, 2007


While most people would have us believe that time marches forward at a steady pace, infertiles know otherwise.

The cyclical ebb and flow of time associated with each cycle of trying to conceive "the old-fashioned way" are familiar to us all, as the days speed by in the exciting peri-ovulatory period (if ovulation occurs at all), and then slow to a glacial pace during the dreaded two-week wait.

For those of us who have upped the ante by adding medications or other interventions to our attempts, time crawls by as we wait to start a cycle, rushes by at the speed of light during the early days of the cycle, and then once again slows to something approaching unbearable as we stare down the barrel of the beta gun, which we know is capable of delivering both unbelievable joy and crushing despair.

When one of us is lucky enough to "win" one of those rounds of Russian roulette, time starts acting up again. The first few days feel like years, as we wait for repeat betas to either confirm our joy or dash our hopes, and then for that first ultrasound, and then for a date, in some cases arbitrarily chosen, and in other cases cruelly established by a history of loss, at which we have promised ourselves to believe that the pregnancy will actually stick.

When that date finally arrives for us lucky ones, most of us still don't really believe, yet time nonetheless speeds up a bit. Several weeks pass in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden you're in the 3rd trimester. Almost there...

Then time stops completely.

And that's where I sit right now. It's not a bad place. It's actually pretty wonderful. I can no longer deny that there is a real live baby inside of me, and that there's every appearance that this baby will be arriving in the next few weeks. I'm not on bed rest. I don't have hyperemesis, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or any other known pregnancy complications. Eggbert has finally admitted that he/she was just being a drama queen, and doesn't have Down Syndrome OR IUGR. On the whole, all is well. Yet for some reason, days pass like years.

I saw the doctor today, and thus far, my cervix is neither dilated nor effaced at all, and Eggbert is "definitely not engaged". So, I'm on standby. I could go into labor tomorrow, but it could also be another three weeks.

I'm not complaining. I always wanted to carry a child to term. Now I have. It's a glorious thing that I celebrate every day. It's just that now that we're at term, I'm kind of ready to move on to the next life goal, which is the birth itself, and then being a mother. However, my body clearly has its own plans once again. And so once again, I wait.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Grade A Jumbo Eggbert

I had the growth scan this morning (exactly three weeks after the doctor uttered the dreaded words "growth restriction") and I'm happy to report that all of the eating that I've been doing has not been in vain. I had gained two pounds in the last two weeks, and it turns out that's all Eggbert! The weight estimate has been revised upward from 3 pounds 10 ounces to 5 pounds 12 ounces. Yippee! The Egg is still a little behind, but is growing at a steady clip, and is even catching up a bit with gestational age. I didn't actually see the doctor today, but she instructed the nurse to send me on my merry way until next week. It's looking like I may get to go to term after all. I may just be the happiest mama in the world today.

Monday, October 15, 2007

An open letter

Dear Korean people,

I came to your country about a year ago, and have found it to be for the most part a delightful place. My friends and colleagues here have shown me incredible kindness and loyalty, the dynamic city of Seoul has kept me entertained, fascinated, and amazed with its rich mix of high technology and modern and ancient culture, and the natural beauty of the mountains and forests can take my breath away. So, it is with deep respect and admiration that I offer you the following (admittedly unsolicited, but hopefully not unwelcome) advice.

I read today, not for the first time, that the birth rate in Korea is among the lowest in the world, which is leading to rapid aging of the population, and fears of associated social problems in the years to come. While the reasons for this trend are complex, and cannot be addressed using a quick fix, I nonetheless recommend that if you are interested in increasing the number of women interested in having children in this great nation, you adopt the following policy: stop being so mean to pregnant women.

By mean, I don't mean the alternative (older) definition which is to be stingy or ungenerous. While many people have noted in public communication spaces that the prices of baby-related goods in Korea are absurdly high (to the point at which my Korean birthing class instructor and my Korean OB/GYN both recommended buying such basics as car seats and strollers overseas and bringing them here), I am enough of a believer in the power of the market to rest assured that an entrepreneur will soon notice the opportunities available for the first business to market low-cost, high-quality baby goods here, and solve this problem. Rather I am referring to the everyday practices of jostling and pushing pregnant women, pushing the "close doors" button on the elevator in blissful disregard to the pregnant woman shuffling toward the door as fast as she can on her swollen feet, elbowing pregnant women in the belly to encourage them to take up less space in the elevator, and denying even the most heavily pregnant women seats on the subway.

I know that my descriptions of these behaviors may come as a bit of a surprise to you. Do you really jostle and push pregnant women? Well of course you do. You jostle and push everyone. While I understand that this behavior is considered acceptable (although not necessarily polite), what to a normal person is a slight inconvenience can be a real danger to someone who is suddenly burdened with 10-15 extra kg, has had a dramatic shift in their center of gravity, and has the softening ligaments associated with late pregnancy, throwing their balance off, and rendering their movements distinctly wobbly. Just today, I was knocked over by someone, apparently someone in a hurry, as I walked down the street and fell so hard that I have badly bruised my wrist and shoulder, and skinned my knee. Luckily, I twisted during the fall, and managed to avoid landing on my huge pregnant belly. However, the fall was shocking, painful, and frightening. To add insult to injury, as I lay on the ground gasping for breath, not a single bypasser (and there were many) bothered to check and see if I was OK, or to help me up. Now I'm no expert on human behavior, but I would have thought that seeing an 8-months pregnant woman fall flat on her face should cause witnesses to feel some kind of concern. However, it seemed as if I could die or miscarry right there on the pavement in a busy public place without anyone being much disturbed.

Then there's the subway. Now I know that nobody likes to stand, and that seats are distributed on a first-come first-served basis. However, I noted with admiration on my pre-pregnancy trips on the subway that special seats are designated for the use of the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. This is a wonderful design feature of the Seoul subway, and one of which the public transit system should be proud. However, it is now apparent to me that many of the people of Seoul are apparently unaware of the purpose of these seats, as just yesterday, I, a hugely pregnant woman, was forced to stand on two separate subway rides while young healthy families sat in the handicapped seats. On the second trip, I tried to gently remind one young family of their civic duty by pointing at the sign indicating that these seats are reserved for the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women, then pointing at my belly, and then pointing at the seat. The family thought that this was a very good opportunity to enjoy a detailed conversation with their young son about the fact that I am this funny shape because there's a baby in my belly while resting comfortably in their seats. Now I'm a big fan of education, and do believe that this was undoubtedly an important and special moment in their parent-child relationship. However, I nonetheless was somewhat disconcerted by their obvious comfort in sharing this happy moment while I stood on my hugely swollen ankles right in front of them, fuming.

Now I know from my interactions with people with whom I am actually acquainted that the Korean people are by nature kind, generous, and loyal. You have much to be proud of in this great nation. Therefore, I am confident that a little more attention to the etiquette of pregnancy will address this problem, leading to positive effects on the feelings of women here about pregnancy and childbirth, and hopefully an improved birth rate.

With respect and friendship,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Still at large

According to the non-stress test that I had on Saturday, Eggbert is doing just fine. Two different doctors commented on how active the Egg is (no kidding! last night's kick count broke 200). I was proud, of course, but also a little frightened to think about what that level of energy will mean in a toddler. Anyway, I had been expecting an ultrasound as well, but it turns out that will be next week. Based on my recent weight gain (worthy of Miss Piggy), and the non-stress test, I have been released on my own recognizance. So, unless something exciting happens between now and the ultrasound, it looks like Eggbert will get to stay on the inside at least until 37 weeks. Whew!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

There are worse things than a BFN

I spoke with an old friend this morning. H has featured in my blog before, when she lost her IVF twins at 19 weeks and 20 weeks last spring to an incompetent cervix. This was followed by a life-threatening uterine infection. H has been through a lot.

Since I've been in Korea, we had been in touch every few days or at most every week for a while, when she suddenly went completely silent in late July. I have been worrying a bit, but thought that her silence might just indicate her inability to cope with my ongoing pregnancy in light of her own losses, which would have been completely understandable, so I didn't push. Finally, though, a few days ago I phoned her with a whole speech planned in my head about the fact that I didn't want to talk about me, but just really wanted her to know that I am thinking about her and that I am here for her any time she wants to talk about HER. Well, she wasn't there when I phoned, but then this morning she surprised me with the news that she did another round of IVF in July, and is now 12 1/2 weeks pregnant.

With twins.

Her high-risk OB/GYN estimates that her chances of ending up with living babies is only about 50%, in light of her history of preterm labor and her twin pregnancy.

I just don't know how to react. On the one hand I am ecstatic that she has a shot of having the family of her dreams after so much unhappiness, and I am SO proud of her for not giving up. It took a lot of courage to walk into the RE's office again, and I really admire her for finding it somehow. I congratulated her from the bottom of my heart, as I do feel that every pregnancy for an infertile mom is something to be celebrated.

On the other hand, I simply cannot understand how a medical professional could transfer THREE embryos (two good-quality embryos, one poor) to a patient with a history of cervical incompetence associated with a twin pregnancy. Yes, she had a slightly higher chance of pregnancy with a multi-embryo transfer, but she had a much better chance of actually taking home a living baby with a single embryo transfer. Is the BFP really worth the risk of the loss of TWO more babies?

I am hoping and praying for a good outcome. But I'm also terrified. And angry.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I'm too tired for this post

Well, the good news is that Eggbert's training for the baby Olympics continue. We haven't had a kick count of less than 50 since my last post. I know that this is silly, but it seems that the kicks are reaching higher up under my ribs, too, so I've decided that the Egg is still growing.

The only fly in the ointment is that I'm suddenly so tired that I can barely cope with getting out of bed. I see the doctor again on Saturday, and now I'm actually secretly hoping that she puts me on bed rest. It was my worst nightmare until recently, but at this point, I could really use a good excuse not to haul myself to work every day. Of course it would be better yet if Eggbert got a clean bill of health, and I started feeling better too. Still, at this point, I'm getting quite ready to hunker down and just wait for the big day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lord of the dance

Thanks so much for the advice, encouragement, and good wishes. I'm trying to just take things as they come and to keep a close eye on Eggbert's movements.

Here are the kick counts for the past three days (one hour each day). My doctor ordered me to go straight to labor and delivery if the count is ever below 3.


Obviously Eggbert hasn't looked at the ultrasound, since his or her preparations for the baby Olympics continue.

Over a hundred kicks/hour. No wonder I can't sleep.