Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who's Your Daddy

I figure it is probably about time I write a blog entry dedicated to the other half of this miracle growing inside me. While I cannot tell you his name and provide you a photo, nor will I reveal his California Cryobank (CCB) donor number (call me stingy), I can offer up some background information on the daddy in other ways..such as the type of information that made me make that ultimately difficult decision...who should father my child?

Here's another great video for you all.

First off, I think it is important to remember that choosing a donor is quite a different task than choosing a mate, although there were characteristics in his profile that I would have more than likely been attracted to had we met in some dark bar while slamming back a few shots of tequila...or something of that nature. Of course, to make that scenario more fitting, he'd have to be wearing a mask or a bag over his head during this imaginary encounter because looks was not something I was able to focus my choice around. Now he would be able to describe himself to me while wearing this facial concealment device, and provide a childhood photo or three, but that would be it as far as that goes. Imagine if speed dating was more like this! It might be a good thing to wipe away that superficial looks thing and delve more into personality on the front end, but hey that's a risky gamble if other options are available...like eyesight! In my scenario, however, description of features and a few childhood photos was all that was available to me in the looks department.

"Hi there beautiful.  My name is John and I enjoy long walks on the beach."
(Sometimes it's best not to know!)
So you may be wondering exactly what information was available to me through the CCB donor program. Besides his physical description and a few childhood photos (as mentioned previously), I was provided with his personal and family medical histories, physical descriptions of his family members (height, build, eye color, etc), personal essays and answers to short questions regarding what I like to call "personality quirks", the staff's impressions of him, his educational and occupational background, and his Keirsey Personality Profile (additional cost).  For more on what a Keirsey Personality Profile is and what my donor's was, check out my entry from May 21 I am the 1%. And after that go take a free test for yourself over at Personality Junkie's Free Personality Test.  Their test is based off the Myers-Briggs test, but they are extremely similar.  I took both that one and the Keirsey one and they both came out with the same result.

Yeah, it kinda is.
I'll begin with the father's personal and family medical histories.  Once again, basing a decision to create life with someone using their medical history is quite different than having kids with the person you love.  What I mean by this is that when you're in love and in a committed relationship you probably don't question whether your mate's parents had heart disease or if their sister had breast cancer.   And even if you are privy to this information, I doubt you would chose not to procreate with your love in fear of passing those genetics to your offspring.  While their may be some situations where you are forced to think about possibly passing on potentially hazardous genetics, such as if you and your mate are dwarfs, these types of possible deal breakers are few and far between.  Example:

Two dwarfs = 25% chance normal child, 50% chance dwarf child, 25% chance non-viable child

I hope no one is offended by my achrondroplaisia Punnett Square, it is meant merely to get a point across in the simplest manner. And as I hope it demonstrates, if you and your mate had a 25% chance of having a non-viable offspring, you might question whether or not you should risk such things. (Dwarfs are just an example here, there are other such risky genetic combos out there). However if all you have to worry about is if your child might have to wear glasses due to farsightedness running in your chosen mate's family, well that's a little easier to not freak out about. Okay, back to medical history...

What do I know about his and his family's medical histories? 
We'll start with his:
  1. He has no allergies. (This is good considering where I live and how bad allergy season can get, but it wouldn't be a deal breaker if he did.) 
  2. He has excellent teeth but they required braces. (Me too, we're so perfect for each other!)  
  3. He is nearsighted and wears corrective lenses. (Not a dwarf, so we're still good to go.)  
  4. He had ankle surgery when he was 18. (Thank goodness it wasn't a knee or I might just have called it off!) 
  5. That's it, he's pretty much got a clean bill of health.
Next we'll look at theirs: 
  1. Mother is in good health but does wears corrective lenses or had corrective eye surgery. (Still not a deal breaker.) 
  2. Father had lung cancer and died of a stroke at age 59.  (He was a heavy smoker, so this alone wouldn't worry me too much, but hang on to this thought.) 
  3. His has no siblings, so we can skip past them. (Maybe only-child syndrome here, but what you gonna do?) 
  4. His maternal and paternal grandmothers are both in very good health at ages 70 and 87, respectfully.  His paternal grandmother was diagnosed with arthritis at age 78. (I can live with that.) 
  5. Both his grandfathers also had lung cancer and both were smokers.  His maternal grandfather was diagnosed and passed away at age 70, while his paternal grandfather was diagnosed at age 40 and passed at age 50. (Here is where the only red flag went up...all of the males in his direct line had a history of lung cancer.  The fact they were all smokers is a bit of a relief, but only somewhat. Smoking can be avoided, but standard genetics cannot.  While there may be a genetic predisposition for lung cancer brought on by smoking, I imagine if smoking were out of the equation the outcomes would be different.  Either way, hopefully my little one will take this medical history to heart and never risk pushing their genetics to find out.) 
  6. His maternal grandfather, maternal aunt and uncle, and his paternal uncle all wear corrective lenses and/or had corrective eye surgery.  (I'm sensing a pattern here, but once again no deal breaker.)

That about sums up the family medical history. Mostly good except for the lung cancer thing, but that I found to be a workable issue because every family history has something in it. All in all it's a pretty clean record. 

Now on to the fun stuff...physical descriptions of the clan!  What we scientists call the phenotypical expression of your inherited genes.  Also known as what you look like on the outside.

What does he look like and how does he compare to the rest of his clan? 

We'll start with the women in the family and stick to the finer points (Mother, maternal and paternal grandmothers, and maternal aunt): 
  1. Height: All the women are relatively tall.  His mom is 5'8", her sister is the shortest at 5'7", and both grandmothers are 5'10" (This was important to me, I want my child to have more of a chance of being tall rather than short.  No offense anyone.) 
  2. Weight: All the women have a medium build and maintain a normal weight.  (Good, no fat genes and no anorexic ones either!) 
  3. Hair: Dark blond mother, her sister was reddish-brown, both grandmothers were brunettes.  All but the maternal aunt had thick, wavy hair.  (Possible non-straight haired genes?  That would rock cause my hair is uber straight!) 
  4. Eyes: Mother was blue eyed, the rest were blue and green eyed. (Although their eye color does not matter since he had the eyes I was looking for.) 
  5. Nose: All have straight noses.  (Well at least we all have that in common.) 
  6. Special features: Seems that dimples and high cheekbones run in the family.  (I just love dimples!)
Now onto the men of the clan. (Father, maternal and paternal grandfathers, one maternal and two paternal uncles): 
  1. Height: All three uncles are medium in height ranging from 5'10" to 5'11" while his father and grandfathers were all tall. Their heights range from 6'2" to 6'4". (Once again, height was an important factor in my decision.) 
  2. Weight: All but the maternal uncle maintain(ed) normal weight (he was thin). And while all the uncles have medium builds, the father and grandfathers all had large frames. (Nice to know they all seem to be nicely built and not dweebish and weak.) 
  3. Hair: Quite a range of colors on this one. His father had black hair, all the uncles and paternal grandfather have/had brown and his maternal grandfather was blond. As for texture, it ranges from thick to thin but mostly average and there is a good balance between wavy and straight. (No male-pattern balding mentioned so that is good. And while there are still no curls, some non-straight genes in there seem promising). 
  4. Eyes:  Two blue, two brown, two green.  (Actually that would be four of each if you count them individually.) 
  5. Nose:  His dad had a curved nose but all the other men there is no data on.  (I imagine the straight nose dominance will come forth in my child, though.) 
  6. Special features:  Once again it's all dimples and high cheekbones!
So how does the daddy compare to his clan? 
  1. Height: 6'2"  (Just about what I would call perfect!) Weight: 168lbs with a large frame.     (CCB calls this a large frame, but most standard height/weight charts consider this a medium frame.  CCB also bases this off the broadness of the shoulders.  Either way, tall and broad... meow!) 
  2. Hair: Brown, wavy, average volume. (Once again, it'd be nice to have something besides completely straight hair.) 
  3. Eyes: Blue eyes that are large and have a round/almond shape to them.  (The one feature I would not budge on was blue eyes.  I wanted my child to have blue eyes like myself.  Two blue eyed people can only make a blue-eyed child, so that is one trait I can count on.  And big eyes, that would be nice.  Mine are almond shaped and not very large, so it will be interesting to see what shape we create.)  Oh, he also has long lashes and thick eyebrows.  My eyebrows are pretty thin, so I hope the little one gets his brows. 
  4. Nose: Straight with a rounded tip, average length and width. (Yep, I foresee the straight nose gene prevailing although mine has a straight tip.) 
  5. Special features: Wouldn't you know he's got dimples and high cheekbones!  (I've got dimples and high cheekbones so I definitely predict the wee-one will have the same.  Have I mentioned that I adore dimples?) 
  6. Other interesting facial features: 
    • His ears are on the large side but they don't stick out and he has detached ear lobes.  (I also have detached ear lobes but my ears are smaller, so who knows what ears the baby will end up having.  I have a thing for ears, so no matter what I bet they'll be adorable!) 
    • He has a medium sized lips.  (I have more of a thin upper lip, so I hope the baby gets his upper lip.) 
    • He has large, straight teeth.  I'm not sure what is meant by large, but I have a feeling they go with his face since the staff thought he had a great smile.) 
    • He has an oval shaped face with a squared chin that has an average prominence.  (Thank goodness for having a chin.  If he didn't have a chin, or had one that was really obnoxious, that would have been a deal breaker for sure.) 
  7. Ancestry: Almost forgot this one.  My ancestry is German, Irish, and Scottish.  Baby daddy's ancestry is nothing like mine.  His mom's side is English and his father's side is Polish (insert joke here if you must.)  Interesting mix the little one will have.
Yep, that about covers it!
That about completes the physical description of this program.  What should we move to next?  I guess the easiest thing would be to lump education, occupation, and "Hobbies, Favorites, and Hidden Talents" (as per CCB's form title) together. 
  1. Education: We'll start with high school.  His SAT score was 1200 with a 575 in verbal and 625 in math.  He scored a 26 out of 36 on the ACT.  He's not a rocket scientist, but hey, that was high school and the scores are above national averages.  But I kid! His high school GPA was 3.7 and for a guy that's pretty impressive.  No offense dudes!  As for college, yes he completed that with a B.A. in Electronic Media with a GPA of 3.6 which is pretty damned good.  Not as good as mine, but I'm an overachieving genius!  Once again, I jest!  Sort of.  Oh, and his favorite subject was English/Literature (yay, he can read!) and his least favorite was Chemistry...you know we could almost be twins.
  2. Occupation: Okay, I'll go ahead and premise this section by saying he's on that whole California acting track.  Which means his current occupation is a "server."  I'm assuming that is the same as waiter in these parts.  His past jobs included sales associate and marketing coordinator.  While his resume is not all that to write home about, and at 26 mine wasn't either, by his educational background I can tell he has the brains to do whatever.  Let's hope he hits it big with the acting, however, because he deserves for his hard work to pay off...all that good karma for getting me preggers! 
  3. All the quirks:  This is basically a compiled list of random things that CCB asks.  I'll go through these as best I can, but they are kinda random. 
    • CCB asked about mechanical skills and abilities and gave a list of things to check off.  Interestingly enough he checked off model building.  I'm taking this as excellent fine motor skills which is great cause mine suck! He has good mathematical skills.  My kid will need this gene as the Funderburgs are known for their lack of mathematical skills.  (Stupid imaginary numbers!)
    • He is extremely athletic with his favorite sport being basketball (must be that tall gene).  Sports he played regularly in high school and after:  Basketball, golf, football, soccer, swimming, running, weight training, triathlons (wtf!), racquetball, and volleyball.  (Definitely athletic I would say, which I find highly attractive and uber important.) 
    • Things he likes to do:  Cycling, working outside, staying in tune with fashion (Hollywood metrosexual?), singing with friends (karaoke?), creating music.  He also acts regularly in theater and film.  (Maybe he's not too much of a struggling actor after all.) 
    • His favorite foods include sushi, pizza, and steak.  (My kinda foodie!) 
    • His favorite animals are elephants...aw, how cute! 
    • His travel dreams include going to Africa and spending time with indigenous tribes and exploring the vast landscapes.  (This really spoke to my inner anthropologist.)
    • His funny bone is activated by puns and awkwardness.  (I was dubbed bad pun girl for a bit in my 20s, so that I get.) 
    • He claims to be nerdy and fun.  (My heart melts for nerds!)

I hope that I am not boring anyone to death with all this wealth of information, but I'm not quite done yet.  Only two more sections and then I'll wrap it up, I promise!

First off, staff impressions:

"This donor is a sweetheart and GQ model good-looking." (Oh yeah!)  "Despite his attractiveness, he is one of the sweetest and most humble donors I've worked with at CCB."  (Everyone likes hot, humble pie!)  "He works very hard and is focused on his acting career." (Maybe my child's father will be famous some day, wouldn't that be a hoot!)  "He has an eclectic sense of style and likes to try out new things.  It 's not a surprise to see him one day with a mustache and the next without." (Porn stache?  They didn't say what kind of acting he did, hahahahaha!  Yeah, I jest again.)  "He is very charismatic and talkative."  (Now there is a set of genes the little one just can't escape.  We Funderburgs are also known for our charismatic, talkative ways)  "It is a pleasure working with him."  (That's what she said!  Just couldn't help myself!)

I think the staff impressions were definitely something to pay attention to.  It's like having that first impression without actually being present.

And finally, we are down to the last section, woohoo! 

This part is based on his personal essays. Don't worry, I will not be posting them word-for-word. I will however post the question asked, then simply highlight the things that caught my attention. It was his answers to these questions that really made my decision for me. I truly wanted someone who was sort of like myself. Why you ask? Mainly, and this may sound weird, but I didn't want the other half of my child to be completely foreign. Does that makes sense?  I figured if the father and I had some basic things in common, even personality wise, then those traits have a chance of coming out in the child. While these "traits" may not necessarily be solely controlled by genetic factors, that whole nature vs. nurture thing, they spoke to me in ways only I could truly understand. You may read these things and scratch your head, but to me these things came across on a whole different level.  I have no real way to explain my reasoning, all I can really do is offer up the info and let you go from there.  So here goes:
Here's your signs! Seriously, this is about how I felt.
"How would you describe your personality? Please give examples of how you display those traits."
I love his response of being a very "old soul" with a modern twist.  To me that was a super awesome response.  He says he has always been mature for his age and likes to push boundaries.  He also does things that others wish the could get away with but won't try because it's outside of their comfort zone.  I understand both these points.  I've always felt more mature than my age, although I don't always act like it, and I have definitely done things in my life that required getting out of that comfort zone and facing fears.  I truly hope this is a trait I can instill in my child.  It's okay to be afraid, but it's not okay to let those fears consume you or hold you back.  Push the limits, you'll be surprised at what you'll discover when you do.

"Which family member(s) are you closest to and why?  What is your favorite story they like to tell about you?"
Understandably he is closest to his mom, as she raised him alone (remember his dad passed away).  But that's not what got me in his response, as that seemed a given.  What struck me is the story of her laughing hysterically at him when he crashed his bike learning how to ride it. (Mind you this was almost off an 8 foot drop-off.) At the time he said it infuriated him but later he learned not to sweat the small stuff cause it's not that big of a deal.  And that story is all funny and good, but it's the finer points that I related to.  The fact he learned later than other kids made me feel at ease since I also learned late...as in not at all!  Yes, I am the only human with two legs who can't ride a bike!  Mine is a long story, but I remember how it felt to be laughed at for falling off while trying and how mad it made me.  However, now I wear my inability to ride a bike as a badge of uniqueness.  So in the end we both had memorable bike stories that helped shape who we are.  I get if you don't!

"What are you most proud of and why?"
His response, sense of self and his independence.  Wow, couldn't have been more spot on to how I feel about my own self.   He is able to handle anything that is thrown his way and he knows exactly who he is.  While I spent some years discovering all the parts of who I am, my sense of self is very strong.  I have also been very independent through life.  Hello, I'm having a baby on my own.  If that's not an independent move I don't know what is.  These traits are once again very important for my child to have.  A lot of that is parenting, but I imagine quite a bit comes from nature, too.  To compete in our family, those are basic survival skills!

"If you could have lunch with any person from the past or present, who would it be and why?"
This response could have gone in any direction.  What I expected was something prophetic like Ghandi, Jesus, or some other larger than life figure.  You know how most people are when answering such a question, they think overly large and get all complicated.  But he said Jim Morrison of The Doors.  Love it!  It was very odd that I had just rediscovered my Jim Morrison poetry books right before I ran across his profile.  I believe in signs, so I took this as one.  I'm a big fan of Morrison myself (not that that would be who I would choose).  Why Mojo Risin?  Besides be a fan, he said he found his approach to the industry and fame very unique.  That Morrison didn't let popular culture dictate his approach or his music.  He was also impressed with the impression he made on the music industry at such a young age.  Being that the daddy is someone who is involved in the "industry," I can see why this would be of interest and importance to him.  It was an unexpected answer and I dig the unexpected.  It seems more honest than just choosing someone just to impress other's with the response.

"What life lessons would you hope to pass on to your child one day?"
Another could go anywhere question.  His responses...the balance of being independent and knowing when to lean on others, that it's okay to show emotion, and don't let fear hold you back or change who you can are or can be, and don't bully others.  All very good, strong responses.  What struck me most was the it's okay to show emotion part.  I firmly believe that men who can't shed tears or show emotion are seriously fucked in the head!  If they were raised that way, then shame on their parents! If I have a son, which we're all betting I will, then making sure he knows that real men aren't the ones who stand stoic and blank-faced.  Real men shed tears, laugh heartily, and everything in between.  Of course I think anger is an emotion that should be kept in check for the most part, but that's not really what we're talking about here.  And not being to stubborn in your independence to take help from others when needed, yeah that pride has to go!  Another important part of his answer that meant a lot to me.  

"What is the funniest thing to ever happen to you?"
Okay, I will not go into the full details of this story.  The gist is that at one point in his life (freshman in college to be exact) he was tossed off an angry treadmill.  This small little seemingly insignificant fact was the clincher for me.  I know, hardly seem like baby daddy choosing material, right?  Well maybe not for some, but for me it was almost kismet.  I, at one point in the not too distant past, had also been tossed off an angry treadmill!  While the circumstances surrounding these two events are in no way similar, the fact we had both had this occur and lived to tell about was absolutely rolling on the floor hysterical to me.  And there is nothing more I like in a man than the ability to make me guffaw!  
In case you were wondering about that term.
I mentioned previously that I was looking for someone who struck me as being similar to myself in certain ways.  I may have not known exactly what I was looking for per se, but when I found it it was like magic.  I know how absolutely silly that sounds, don't worry, but I can't help how I feel even though I may not be able to fully explain where exactly my feelings stemmed from.  After all the complex genetics I examined and all the contemplation of medical histories, in the end it what truly spoke to me were the simple things...enjoying puns, Jim Morrison for dinner, anecdotes about riding bicycles, and horrifically funny treadmill attacks.  These are the things that make me smile and are the types of things I know had I met the daddy in some alternate universe in that dark bar shooting tequila while he was wearing a facial concealment device and telling me his life stories...these are the things that would have gotten my attention and possibly made us life-long friends.  And who better to have a child with than someone you consider a friend?  I presume most couples who have children at least start out as friends and hopefully some of them remain that way, although statistically this is becoming less and less the norm.  So why not base my decision on a prefect stranger who might have in some alternate universe been a perfect friend? Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it! 

Yes this is in regards to those treadmills that attack!
I thank you all for getting through this very lengthy post.  I really had no idea I would drag it on like this, but oh well!  If you can all be dolls and please click the link below and vote for me on Top Baby Blogs...I'd be so appreciative!  

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Most Amazing Day Ever

Hello readers.  Hope everyone has been waiting in anticipation for this entry, for this entry is all about the most amazing day yet of my entire life.  I am sure this statement will be repeated often over the coming  months, but so far it stands factual and as of yet un-toppled from the #1 rank it holds.  Also, to get back on the you get a video/song for the price of a blog...here is one from Massive Attack.  I chose this particular video for the mere fact, besides I dig the band, that a fetus in the womb sings the song.  I think, as you will soon see, it fits well with where I am heading today...
"Teardop" by Massive Attack

Now that the musical portion of this blog has been taken care of, onto the good stuff!

This past Thursday, which was August 16th, I went in for my first ultrasound.  I was 6 weeks and 1 day into my pregnancy, and so very lucky to get such an early glimpse at the life taking shape in my womb.  I can honestly say that nothing truly prepared me for that first moment of seeing the life I helped create.  I would love to be able to high-five the father at this point and give him a great big hug, but since he is merely a unanimous donor, I will have to settle for a simple thank you vibe sent out across the universe in hopes that he somehow feels it.  Honestly, there really is not enough thanks that can be given.

But before I once again get ahead of myself, I should begin with the agonizing wait that occurred in the doc's waiting room, aka holding cell, and the additional even more agonizing wait in the actual exam room, aka where the magic happens.

My appointment was for 9:30am, and while I knew I wouldn't get immediately back to see the doc, this particular morning the wait for my appointment felt like a conspiracy.
A conspiracy I tell you!
It just happened to be one of those mornings when the entire office was running behind and the waiting room was full of people.  It was very cool to be sitting there waiting knowing I was in for my first view of my wee-one.   For a change I wasn't like everyone else waiting...I had finally crossed to the other side from trying to conceive to official mommy in waiting.  It was kind of hard not to just bust out telling everyone in the room about my new pregnancy, but I refrained.
I felt like doing the Snoopy dance!

You never know when you might make some woman or couple who has been trying for ages cry from frustration at their own situation.  Even though I would like to think spewing happiness about my accomplishment would provide hope and give props to the awesome doctors, I have no real idea of what all those other people in the waiting room are going through.  I know we are all in for the same reason, but I also know our stories are vastly different.  I saw a lady come out of an exam room crying on one of my past visits, and I would never want to seem like an inconsiderate braggart to others who may be in for bad news rather than good.

So I'm sitting in the holding cell with my mom patiently waiting for my name to be called.  Every time the door back to the exam rooms opens and a nurse steps out with a chart in her hands and opens her mouth to call a name, I catch my breath.  And this happens over and over and over (I could keep going here but I'll refrain).  While waiting my mom did amuse me by knocking over a trash can lid while trying to throw her cup of water away.  It made a loud crash, I busted out guffawing as I am want to do, and everyone had to take a glance at our silliness.  Once again we managed to be the loudest people in a relatively quiet room.
I'm sure somewhere Godzilla actually did this!
But that's not really an important part of the story, I'm just drawing out getting to the point to make you feel somewhat like I felt that morning.  Additional happenings while waiting...I flipped through a Fit Pregnancy magazine, checked in via Facebook (btw, please go like my FB page www.facebook.com/singlemodernmom as I'm trying to build up my audience there as a fun extension of the blog, and I would truly appreciate many more fans...shameless plug, I know!), I finally talked my mom into going to the bathroom since her small bladder was being taxed by the wait, stared out the window for a bit, twiddled my thumbs, etc, etc, etc.

Finally at around 10:30am my name was finally called. YAY!!!  I was so damned excited and anxious I about couldn't stand it any longer, so good thing they finally called me.  Once again it was the usual, undress from the waist down and hop up on the exam table...and wait!  I had made it to the exam room, but my agonizing wait was still not over.  At first my mom and I chit-chatted thinking the doc would be in at any moment.  The nurse came in about 15 minutes later and I was so thrilled, but she was just there getting supplies, UGH!  And so we waited some more.  I flipped through an Entertainment Weekly and skimmed over why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split, admiring the pics of their daughter Suri whilst thinking about what my future child was going to look like.  I glanced at the Fit Pregnancy magazines available but realized I had read them all already.  I twiddled my thumbs some more.  Laid down, sat back up, repeated this over and over.  Am I getting across how excruciating the wait was yet?

Yes, this is similar to how I felt!
(except for the being a dude part)

By the time 11am rolled around I was about ready to grab the magic va-jay-jay wand and do the ultrasound myself.  I should probably explain that an ultrasound performed this early on is done vaginally and not through the belly.  I swear I could have!  But instead I kept telling myself that patience is a virtue...whatever!  About 11:15 the doc finally came in.  It was Dr. Batres this time, the only one of the three docs on staff I had yet to meet.  You see, my main doc is Dr. Miller, yet I had also seen Dr. Moutos on several occasions.  The thing I really love about Arkansas Fertility & Gynecology Associates (http://www.arkansasfertility.com figured I should give their offices another plug since they are so amazing) is that all the docs on staff are invested in your success.  They share the work and they all get credit for being a part of my conception team.   It's nice to know they all are rooting for you and got your back!

So in walks Dr. Batres, into the stirrups my feet go, and into the hoo-hoo the magic wand goes.  Finally after the wait of a lifetime, we are underway!  Well, almost.  First the doc scares the bejesus out of me, because at first all I see on the ultrasound monitor screen is what looks to be a big empty hole.  WTF?  Where is my baby?  I guess he sees the look on my face so then explains that he is first examining my ovaries before he moves to my uterus.  It seems that when you take fertility meds such as Clomid, the Clomid causes ovarian cysts to form from the ruptured follicles that released the egg(s).
Yeah, my thoughts exactly!
Remember that I had the one massive follicle in my left ovary? Well it left a nice-sized cyst.  I also had a smaller cyst in my right ovary.  Don't worry, this is completely normal and both should be gone by the time I'm 12 weeks along.  The doc did measure them to later make sure they are shrinking as expected.  After explaining what he was doing and what I was seeing, I felt a lot better.  And after he was done with those, he moved the magic hoo-hoo wand to my uterus.  And low and behold  there was my little bean!  Literally, the wee-one looked like a bean!  Even though he/she was just .529 cm in length, I was overwhelmingly amazed at what I saw.  There was my baby!  The cutest damn bean-shaped blob I had ever seen!
My baby's first pic!!!
See, it does look like a bean.
And it gets better.  After he pointed out where the head and feet were (by feet I really mean the tail-end as there are no "feet" yet), and took measurements that showed the little one was measuring at 6 weeks and 2 days, which is odd since I should have been 6 weeks and 1 day as per my last missed period, he then let me hear the heartbeat.
My baby's second pic!
See the heartbeat measurement lower left.
As you are probably aware, my mom is witnessing all this along with me.  Back in the day when she was pregnant with my brothers and myself, they didn't have this type of advanced equipment.  Not only could you not see the baby at such an early stage, but neither could you hear the heartbeat.  When I asked her later she informed me that the only time she got to hear our heartbeats as babies was on the fetal monitor in the delivery room.  So this was a first for both of us.  And let me tell you, there is no sound quite as spectacular as the sound of that little heartbeat.  It's alive!!!!  I also got to see the heart beating via the ultrasound.  It was going 110bpm (beats per minute).  The doc said this was very good as they were looking for a rate between 100-120bpm at this early stage.  That will increase as the fetus grows, but so far I was right on target.  It's alive!!! Wait, did I already say that?  I just can't help myself.  Seeing and hearing my baby for the first time absolutely took my breath away.  And at that moment everything seemed so much more real to me.  This was happening!  It isn't my imagination or a crazy dream, this is really happening.  I am carrying life around inside me that I created.
Here is a close-up.  Doesn't look like much but I'm so proud!
I, and I hear this is pretty true across the board, felt at that moment like I was the only pregnant woman on the planet and that everything going on inside me was truly a miracle at work.  There really are no words that can possibly describe the feelings I'm speaking of.  I'm sure other moms know exactly what I'm talking about.  But for women who have never experienced this before, and sadly for all men, this is an experience that shadows all other experiences.  Well at least it is so far.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, I am sure I'll be repeating those words numerous times in the coming months...and that makes me uber excited!  To know I get to have more of these moments and they are all going to subsequently top each other in making my jaw drop, well there just isn't anything better on the planet that I can imagine!

As a matter of fact, I get to go back in on the 30th for my 8 week ultrasound.  I can't wait to see what the little one will look like then.  I know what to expect by Googling 8-week ultrasound pics, but it won't be the same as witnessing it for myself.  After my 8 week ultrasound, I finally get my first official "I'm pregnant" OBGYN appointment on Sept. 10th.  I have decided to go with the doc who delivered my niece Haven and has come highly recommended by several people I know.  My OBGYN retired, so I have been on the hunt for a new one, and now that I'm pregnant it made my choice relatively easy.  My fertility doc was happy with my choice and has already gotten all my info over to my new doc's office.  So it looks like I'm all set on moving this adventure along to the next phase.

Another fun moment of that ultrasound way was getting the first pics of my little bean (see pics above).  As the doc preformed the ultrasound he printed out several pics for me to take home and show everyone.  As I was checking out the receptionists ogled over the pics like they had never seen such awesomeness before!  And it was great walking out of the office and back into the waiting room with the pics in hand.  Since I hadn't bounced around the room shouting for joy before, this was my silent way of getting that "I'm pregnant" moment out to those still waiting.  I was even congratulated in the elevator whilst leaving the building...totally awesome!

And one more amazing thing...still no morning sickness!  I'm quite pleased that I have yet to hurl due to my "condition."  I really expected to be a puker as I've always had an easily upset stomach.  But so far, so good.  Not even a hint of nausea.
Free and clear so far!
 As a matter of fact, I still don't have all that many pregnancy symptoms.  I sometimes get fatigued easily but nothing too drastic, I do have to pee quite a bit more than usual but nothing too urgent has occurred, I have yet to develop food aversions or cravings, and while my boobs are still a bit sore and have grown a cup size (woohoo!), they seem to have leveled out on the growth spurt for the moment.  I will admit that my waistline has already began to expand, though.  My worst symptom besides random hunger is the bloating.  The bloating is the worst.  I actually had to finally break down and go buy maternity pants.
They're really not the bad.
It is really early to be moving into those, at least from what I have read, but my ass was not fitting into my other pants anymore.  For the past couple of weeks I have been strictly in dresses and skirts.  I finally decided I couldn't go another day without pants and went to the maternity store.  While most of my not fitting into my old pants is mostly bloating right now, I'm okay with the maternity pants.  They are remarkably comfortable and I have enough of a bump that they seem like a reasonable purchase at this point.  I'm looking forward to watching them expand along with my belly.  I always believed pregnancy would be the most amazing experience in the world, and so far I am completely correct.  I haven't had a bad day yet, and hopefully I'll continue to be lucky in that regard.

Well it's about time for me to gather up my mom and go for our 3-mile walk we've been doing regularly as of  recent.  I'm trying to get back into some sort of exercise routine now that I am less delicate than I was, or at least felt.  I want to keep myself healthy and fit throughout the pregnancy, and walking is about the best exercise I can do right now.  So on that note, I will leave you all for the moment and get back to my Sunday.  Hope everyone has had a nice weekend and I'll be back soon.

Oh, one final word.  I know I had mentioned that there was a possibility of up to three babies based on my mature follicles.  I was relieved to find I was preggers with only one baby, as now I can relax a little more and know I'll be able to focus my attention and spoiling on just the one.  I am already thinking, however, since I am only pregnant with the one, that I may turn around and try for a second wee-one before I turn 40.  My 38th is coming up on the 27th, so I won't have much time after this one is born, but I think I can do it.  Something to ponder...

Even The Dude is happy dancing for me!!!
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Down With hCG?

Yeah you know me!

I know I've started all my recent blogs with videos.  Today I will refrain, however, since my choice in video may be a bit offensive (you should probably get this if you get the title's reference).  Anyway, today I thought I'd talk a little bit about hCG.  I am currently in my two week wait for my first ultrasound which is scheduled for August 16th, so I need to do something to pass the time!

First to catch everyone up....

Last time I was on here I had just found out I was officially pregnant via blood test and I had an hCG level of 242.7 at 15dpo (days past ovulation).  I went back in for my second blood test on August 2nd (two days after the first test) and my new hCG levels were at 638.  At this point, some of you may be wondering what all this hCG stuff means.  Basically, hCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that is produced by the developing placenta once conception is achieved.  Once conception has occurred, the woman's body begins producing hCG and the amount of the hormone increases rapidly...usually doubling every 30-72 hours (this rate is for levels below 1200mIU...the doubling rate slows as levels increase).  

                              NORMAL HCG DOUBLING TIMES
                Under 1,200 mIU/ml          Between 30 and 72 Hours
                1200-6000 mIU/ml          Between 72 and 96 Hours
                Over 6,000 mIU/ml          Over 96 Hours

Early home pregnancy tests (HPTs) measure hCG in a woman's urine and vary in sensitivity.  I used the First Response 6 Days Sooner test, and it is supposed to measure hCG levels as low as 12.5mIU (which is pretty low since most HPTs measure between 20-100mIU).  Since I got a positive five days before my missed period, that 12.5 seems about correct.  

At 15dpo, when I had my first blood test measuring hCG levels, my levels were at 242.7 and two days later they had jumped to 638!  By this time I had already done a pile of research and reading up on hCG levels and knew these were excellent numbers even without my doctor telling me.  Here is a chart showing average hCG levels that seems to be pretty standard across multiple websites.  It shows the normal ranges of hCG at various weeks the past last menstrual period (LMP).  As you can see by looking at week 4, my hCG levels should have been between 5-426mIU.  Mine were at 242.7 and 638 that week.  

weeks since LMPmIU/mL
35 – 50
45 – 426
518 – 7,340
61,080 – 56,500
7 – 87,650 – 229,000
9 – 1225,700 – 288,000
13 – 1613,300 – 254,000
17 – 244,060 – 165,400
25 – 403,640 – 117,000
Non-pregnant females<5.0
Postmenopausal females<9.5
As you can see from my numbers, I began within the normal range for the week but then my levels jumped and were then higher than the expected range.  When this occurs, the question of multiples always comes into play.  Of course, my numbers weren't hugely off the charts, so it does not mean I'm having more than one baby.  As per the experts, hCG is a very poor predictor of multiples since the levels have such a vast range.  A woman with low hCG numbers can have multiples just as easily as a woman with extremely high levels can have just a singleton birth.  The only real way to know is through an ultrasound.

Besides knowing if your hCG levels are within expected range for where you are in your pregnancy, the doubling rate is equally important.  One way doctors can tell if a woman's pregnancy has a chance of miscarrying is when her levels do not increase like they should.  If a woman's levels do not show signs of doubling properly, then this may be a sign that the pregnancy will not continue.  

Remember from earlier that the typical doubling rate is every 30-72 hours with levels below 1200mIU.  I went in for two blood tests...the first to get the base or beta hCG level and the second to measure the rate of increase.  I found this great little hCG calculator tool on BabyMed.  http://www.babymed.com/tools/hcg-calculator.  Basically you enter in your levels, how many days past ovulation each test was done, and BAM!  It calculates your doubling rate.  My doubling rate was every 34.42 hours, so I was definitely happy about that!  Also, as per the chart below, I am above the maximum hCG level range for where I am in my pregnancy.  Once again let me remind you that this does not necessarily mean I have more than one baby!  There are forums all over the internet where women are agonizing over these numbers and questioning the possibility of twins or more.  I will know next Thursday (August 16th) how many little beans I'm toting around and no sooner!

My numbers look great!!!

So there you have it, a bit of exciting information about hCG!!!  Are you thrilled?  Wait, there's more!  While I'm on the topic, there is another really cool website I enjoyed fooling around with...The BetaBase http://www.betabase.info/index.php.  This site allows you to add your hCG levels into the database and become a statistic!  In better terms, it uses the information input by thousands of women and then charts  hCG level averages of singleton, twin, and triplet births.  Here are the current charts:

Beta Scores for Successful Single Pregnancies (heartbeat detected)

I'm well above average here...then again, I always have been! ;-)

Beta Scores for Successful Twin Pregnancies (heartbeat detected)

As you can see from these numbers, my levels fall more within the averages for twin pregnancies.  

Beta Scores for Successful Triplet Pregnancies (heartbeat detected)

I'm not too far off triplet levels, ahhhhh!!!!

Once again, these charts can be found at the The BetaBase website.  When examining these charts, you get a really good idea of how vastly expansive hCG levels can be and see why it could be astoundingly difficult to actually predict how many buns you have in the oven.  But it is still fun to check out and pass some time pondering what it all means!!! The site also charts average hCG doubling times for singleton through triplet pregnancies.  It's just a very cool site, I highly recommend it! 

On that note, I think I'll wrap things up for this time around as I think I've officially slacked off enough at work today.  What can I say?  Slow day at the office!  And although there is a ton of information out there about hCG and pregnancy, I hope some of what I provided helped entertain and enlighten at least one person!  Once again, thanks for reading.

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