My Birth Story

This story should probably start a couple of months before Kerrigan’s birth – mostly because I’m behind on posting here (and there is actually a draft in my folder on this period of time…but it’s not finished yet!). So, let’s go back in time a little bit to my pre-natal appointment at 33 weeks.

I went into this appointment seeing one of the midwives in my OB’s practice because he was not available that day (another story for another time). It was my first appointment with someone other than my OB. During this appointment they did the normal things: checked my urine, listened for a heartbeat, checked my fundal height, etc. Up until this point I had been measuring normal and there was nothing that raised any concerns. I’d been discharged from the MFM after our Fetal Echocardiogram and told that unless my OB wanted me to have additional testing/monitoring I didn’t need to return.

The day following my appointment with the midwife, my OBs nurse called me. My fundal height was suddenly measuring two weeks ahead. They wanted me to go in and have a growth scan to see what was going on with the baby, amniotic fluid, etc. So off I went, back to the MFM for some additional testing. The ultrasound revealed that the baby was measuring 36-37 weeks. The MFM recommended that I do weekly monitoring starting at 35 weeks – this included weekly Non-Stress Tests and Biometric Profiles. It was also recommended that I have another growth scan at the end of my pregnancy to see where things stood.

Fast forward to week 39. The Monday before my due date we had that second growth scan and it estimated the baby at 9 pounds 15 ounces in size. The scan was done at 8:30 in the morning. The MFM had said I was right on the cusp of where they’d recommend a c-section, but since I had a frame that looked like it could support birthing a larger baby, I might still be a candidate for a vaginal birth.

At 11:00 the nurse from my OB’s office called. The doctor wanted me to come in today if I was available to discuss the results of the growth scan.  I called Robert at work and we both headed back out to see the doctor.

After meeting with the doctor, we decided that we would give the baby until her due date to go into labor and try to deliver her on her own, but if she didn’t make it by her date we would have a c-section given her size and not being a great candidate for induction. The doctor did warn me that if we did a vaginal birth, it was going to be a challenging endeavor. Once the head was out, it was likely that it would be difficult to deliver the shoulders and given her size they would not want to utilize forceps or suction to assist with the delivery.

I was still game to try.

Throughout the week I tried everything to get her to come before Sunday, the date of our scheduled c-section, but it just wasn’t happening. Saturday night we had everything packed and ready to go for the morning. I got almost no sleep Saturday night and was just a bundle of nerves throughout the night- were we doing the right thing, was the c-section going to hurt, would the baby be okay. I cried, I laughed, I tried to convine myself that everything was going to be just fine and there was a reason that she hadn’t come yet. By the time we were set to leave Sunday I was a tired, exhaussted, nervous mess.

We got to the hospital at 7:00 am, with the surgery scheduled for 9:00 am. We got prepped and my doctor came in to chat with us (admittedly, one of the perks of a scheduled procedure is getting your doctor for the delivery – which I was grateful for!). He asked if we had questions, explained everything that was going to happen, what to expect, and how long it would take. He joked and asked if we wanted to take wagers on her actual size, and gave a lighthearted air to the room, which was much needed.

When he went to scrub up the anesthesiologist came in to chat with us and give us our options, along with the associatd risks, but recommended doing a spinal, which we agreed with. Once he left the nurses finished prepping us and had my husband get changed into his scrubs in preparation to be moved to the OR.

And then, we waited. What seemed like forever! It was nervewracking! There was an emergency c-section and the surgeon got called to assist. Finally around 9:40 they came and wheeled us back.

The Spinal was probably the worst part of the procedure. The doctor and nurses were great, but I don’t think there is a way to make someone shoving a needle into your back a pain free experience. Once that was done, my OB came in and chatted with us a little more while waiting for the spinal to take effect. Once I was fully numb we started the procedure.

As far as the c-section goes, it actually wasn’t as bad as I had worried it would be and it ws a relatively positive birth experience. It took maybe 10 minutes from the time they started until the baby was here. The weirdest part was feeling my stomach muscles jumping as they workedtheir way to my uterus -but my OB let me know to expect it before it started, so I was prepared for it.

Kerrigan came out screaming and didn’t stop until my husband went over to the table with the nurse. As soon as she heard his voice she calmed right down. Even though my OB told us I would get skin to skin time and could hold her while they stitched me up, the nurses brought her to my cheek for maybe 30 seconds and then gave her to my husband and zipped her into his scrubs. That 30 second window was the only glimpse of her that I got until we left surgery. This upset me quite a bit, but my husband was glowing and I tried really hard not to let it show despite  disappointment.

We had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was given a 9/9 APGAR score and the only concerns were that she was breathing quickly and was a little shake-y, but the NICU nurse determined that they weren’t bad enough to require anything but additional monitoring and were likely from the baby still needing to transition from the birth. I was so relieved that she got to stay with us and wasn’t taken off to the NICU.

As they were finishing stitching me up, the doctor talked to me and told me that he was glad we opted for the c-section. After seeing her, he didn’t think I’d have been able to get her shoulders out had we tried a vaginal birth. I was so happy he shared this, and relieved that we’d made the decision for the c-section. Despite originally being a little disappointed about the c-section, I no longer had regrets about giving birth to my baby this way and felt confident the best decision had been made for both Mom and Baby.

I was wheeled into recovery, and finally got to hold my little girl. She was amazing and beautiful; everything and more than I could have imagined or dreamed. After years of struggles and heartbreak, followed by nine stressed filled months, I was finally holding a piece of us and it was nirvana. She latched immediately, with no difficulty, as if she’d been practicing for that moment the entire time in my womb. I don’t really remember much more about the time in recovery – just Kerrigan. She filled every moment and memory I have of that time.

The days following the surgery were challenging. I needed assistance to get out of bed once I could, and it was painful to move at all. As a result, my husband and the nurses had to do almost everything while I laid in bed, and it was frustrating. However, Kerrigan was never more at peace than when she was with me and she spent most of her days (and nights) lying with me. The doctors actually said that this was good, as it helped her to transition and regulate her breathing, ease her shaking and calm her.

In the end, it wasn’t a perfect birth; but the result is so far past perfect that it’s easy to overlook everything else.

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The Stats!
Baby’s Name: Kerrigan Ivy

Date of Birth: May 10, 2015

Original Due Date: May 9, 2015

Weeks Pregnant: 40

Height/Weight of Baby: 9 pounds, 13 ounces. 22 inches long.

Welcome Kerrigan Ivy

Kerrigan Ivy was born on Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 10:22 am via c-section. She was 9 pounds, 13 ounces and 22 inches long! Mom and baby are both healthy and we have all been figuring each other out!


The Best Thing I Bought Early in My Pregnancy

A some point early in my second trimester I cam across an item called a Snoogle. Despite the fact that I really liked the way the word “Snoogle” sounded when I said it, I was curious as to what function it served and if it would be worth the ticket price. So I read the advertisement on the packaging and decided that, yup! I needed a Snoogle. I brought it home, vacated the other pillows on my bed, and discovered my new best friend!

I have absolutely loved this thing. It is comfortable in any position, including using to prop you up on nights your heartburn is so bad you simply can’t sleep lying down (which fortunately for me have been very few). I have zero regrets about this impulse purchase and would hands down recommend it to anyone. In fact, it’s going to be hard going back to my traditional pillows after the baby comes! Well…not too hard, I’m a stomach sleeper by nature and will likely very easily transition back to sleeping that way.

The only thing I would recommend is buying a cover for the Snoogle that has a zipper. This makes it much easier to remove for washing and replace back on the Snoogle after washing. I took one look at the cover on it, and said “forget trying to take that on and off”. I also have zero regrets about that decision! This is the cover that I bought and it has been great.

I should give you one warning about the Snoogle. Pets love it! Every time I get up, our dog ninjas a spot in the Snoogle. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the night and I’m coming back to bed, or once I get out of bed for the morning. I turn around, and she has commandeered herself a prime spot! See the proof below!

Genetic Testing

Wow, so I have at least ten draft topics for ALL OF THE WRITING I wanted to do here, and, well, I guess things just got a little away from me! Since I have some time today, and I’ve been meaning to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d go ahead with what is likely going to be the longest of my intended posts. And that is a recap and some thoughts on our experiences with genetic testing.

Let’s start at square one. Given our age and the slew of problems that we had trying to get pregnant, my husband was very concerned about a baby with genetic problems. It’s a fair concern, and I think it was fair of him to be honest with himself that he did not think he would be capable of handling the needs of a fully special needs child. It was something that we discussed at length, and together came to the decision that if there was decisive proof that there was a problem with our baby, we would have most likely terminated the pregnancy (I don’t care for a debate or any moral grandstanding on this topic – it’s an individual choice, that must be made by each individual. Period.). So, because of this, we decided from the get go that we weren’t going to mess around with what is often considered standard testing, and would start our genetic testing with a Cell Free Fetal DNA test. Even if that meant we had to pay the cost of the test out of pocket.

The Cell Free DNA Test

Once we met with our OB, we were sent to a genetic counselor to have a discussion on if genetic testing was right for us. It’s probably not for everyone – and some people opt out of any genetic counseling. After sharing our own experience, you may see why. Anyhow, we went in and basically said we didn’t want to do the scanning tests. Just jump to the cell free fetal DNA exam. Our lab performs this under the name “Harmony test”. Other, similar tests, may be called Materniti21 or another one that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Anyhow, what this test does is it is able to pull fetal DNA from the mother’s blood and look for the most common, major chromosomal abnormalities with a very high accuracy rate – with the main ones being Trisomies 21, 13 and 18. They can also test for extra X or Y chromosomes, and find out the gender of the baby. This is generally done between weeks 11 and 13.

Before we had this testing, we met with a genetic counselor. She sat down with us and took a medical history from both sides. Robert’s was very, very quick as he simply told her he was adopted and that was the end of the conversation. My side, however, was a bit more complicated. We went through my family history – and I do have some concerns on my father’s side, being that his family is a carrier for familial adenomatous polyposis. It’s a hereditary form of colon cancer, that if you have it, you have a 50% chance to pass to your children. My grandmother had it, my uncle died from it, and my aunt has less than half her colon. Now, if you don’t have it, you generally aren’t a carrier and can’t pass it on. My father gets tested regularly, and his gastrointerologist  has told him that he is most likely not a carrier.

Well, during all of my medical issues the past few years, one of the things my hematologist (who is also an oncologist) had me do was go meet with my own gastrointerologist and be tested myself. So I did. And I had many tests – for this and other potential GI issues – and I was healthy. No problems. He subsequently told me that I am likely not a carrier, but I should be retested every 5 years, even though I’m younger than the general age you would start routine testing. Cool. No problem.

Well, my our first appointment with the genetic counselor, she pushed REALLY hard for some genetic testing related to this problem. I get it, it’s her job. However, despite advising her my father had been tested and told if he didn’t develop it, his kids were safe AND my own specialist in the area indicating the same thing as well as me not having any issues at my age (issues generally start to appear in your late teens/early twenties), she wanted me to go to my aunt and have her submit a blood sample for genetic testing to compare  against mine. After advising her that wasn’t going to happen – and repeating what both my specialist and my father’s specialist said, she finally conceded that the extra testing was likely unnecessary and that everything was fine.

So after all of that, we were sent with our lab paperwork to have our cell free feta DNA testing done. About a week later we received the results indicating that we were all clear for the major Trisomies and we were having a girl! Great!

The Nuchal Translucency Scan

Around 12 weeks, we were given an ultrasound to measure the Nuchal Translucency on your baby. This is a pocket of fluid on the back of the baby’s neck. This scan is generally used to look for genetic risks, such as Down’s Syndrome, but is very inaccurate alone – and is considered a screening test. It is usually paired with other tests, such as blood work, to come up with a percentile risk for problems. They also can check to make sure all of the body parts seems to be forming correctly, and the intestines are on the inside of the baby, etc. Since we’d already had the cell free fetal DNA testing, we knew that we didn’t have any major issues, but were encouraged to still do the 12 week scan as it can help identify other potential problems, such as heart defects.

Well, it turns out that our NT Scan was very slightly over what would be considered normal in the US. I specify that because in other countries we would have fallen within “normal” ranges. Anyhow, I digress. This lead to a  second meeting with the same genetic counselor – and it did not go well at all. I know that her job is to offer a risk assessment based on the information provided. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this job. And I would say that she hit all of the wrong markers. The conversation went so poorly, that Robert refused to see her again.

Let’s talk about how she started this conversation. It was with telling us that our scan was slightly elevated – and since we’d already ruled out major problems with our lab work, it meant there was a less than 5% chance of a rare condition called Noonan’s Syndrome or a less than 5% chance of having a congenital heart defect. What she didn’t tell us, until we REALLY pushed and at the end of our conversation, was that there was a greater than 97% chance that absolutely everything was okay and we would deliver a perfectly healthy baby. But there was a lot of bullshit that happened in between point A and point B to get there.

One of the things that we were both adamant about was that we didn’t want invasive testing unless it would be conclusive and/or was necessary. Our reasoning for this was simple: there is a risk of miscarriage associated with chronic villus sampling and amniocentesis. For us, this risk had to be weighed against what we would learn from the testing. We were both very clear about this from the start of our session. Well, it turns out that these tests can only pick up Noonan’s Syndrome 65-70% of the time. That is pretty far from being a definitive test. We weren’t interested given the very small likelihood of Noonan’s being an issue (>5%). We communicated this repeatedly, yet the genetic counselor kept pushing it. Robert was livid.

We had a lot of questions regarding Noonan’s – and we are both fairly educated people asking, what I felt, were fairly on point questions. And she flailed about trying to answer them, often times not having an answer. Throughout this process she seemingly referenced a sheet with information on the disorder. Well, it turns out that when we asked for a few minutes to talk things over amongst ourselves and asked for the reference sheet, it was just a prop! It didn’t have the information about Noonan’s and was completely unrelated. I was furious. We were eventually provided with a fact sheet to aid in our discussion- but by that time, I’d already hit the internet and read quite a bit about it. We’d also decided that the risk was so small and the condition was something we thought we could handle, that we wouldn’t terminate even if the test came back positive – and, as we had previously stated, we would not be doing the invasive testing.

The other thing that was suggested was having a fetal echocardiogram done to look for any potential problems with the heart. This is a non-invasive procedure, and helps to identify any potential problems that we would want to be aware of that might affect fetal care, as well as post natal care of the baby. While Robert’s ass was still pretty chapped over the previous conversation, I did think this was an important test to have done, even with such a small chance of a problem, so that we could rule out any potential issues.

Ultimately, Robert went home really pissed at the genetic counselor for how she presented the information. I went home super worried that something was wrong. And we decided to opt out of an amniocentesis but to go forward with the fetal ECG. And this experience is why, I suspect, many people will opt out of genetic testing.

The Anatomy Scan

At 20 weeks we went back in for another detailed ultrasound – this is frequently the only ultrasound a lot of women get throughout their pregnancy. This ultrasound is used to look at make sure that the baby is developing probably. Two arms, two legs, internal organs, etc. This is also the ultrasound where most couples will found out the sex of their baby if they want to know and didn’t have the cell free DNA testing done. Ours was relatively uneventful – other than the fact that our little stinker wouldn’t cooperate and move into a good position to get a profile/facial shot.

We met with the actual MFM doctor this time (much to Robert’s relief), and were told that everything looked great. The Nuchal Fold had normalized, effectively removing the noonan’s risk – and cementing that we made the right decision declining the amnio. They also did not identify any major issues with the heart. She asked us if we would mind pushing the fetal ECG back a couple of weeks to let the heart develop more so that they would have a better look at any minor issues that may exist. All in all, this was a good appointment and we both felt good (and relieved) after we left.

The Fetal Echocardiogram

At week 24 we had our fetal echocardiogram. This is probably the most boring ultrasound! It’s about an hour long, and it all of the heart. The look at all four chambers and they watch how the valves are functioning. They can even observe how the blood flows in and out of the chambers and the valves! Its’s pretty amazing…but also pretty boring. After the ultrasound we met with the same MFM doctor and she told us that everything looked perfect and there were no concerns. We were graduated from there unless my OB felt we needed to go back (I’m technically considered high risk given my age – and probably my autoimmune problems and medication). Spoilers: we are back seeing the MFM (nothing serious!), but that is a post for another day.

Would I Recommend Genetic Testing to Others?

That is actually a very difficult question to answer. For us, we knew from the start that it was something we would be doing given our age and difficulties conceiving. But I also feel that it may not be the right answer for everyone. It really is a very individual decision – and one that each couple needs to make on their own after a lot of thought and discussion. If you know that you wouldn’t terminate for any reason whatsoever, maybe skip it. If you want to know just to be prepared, or because you know that you aren’t capable of the care involved with a special needs baby, then participate. Nobody can make those decisions for you.

The one thing that I will say is that it definitely added a fair amount of stress for a lot of “what ifs”. And the truth of the matter is that much of the genetic testing that you can undergo is simply a series of statistics and guesses – very little of it is absolute. Which is also something that should be taken into account when making the decision on if genetic testing is right for you. I, personally, don’t regret that we participated in it – although I do wish the early meetings with the genetic counselor had gone more smoothly.


It is no real surprise to me that I have been a complete worry wart through my pregnancy so far – I mean, I’m just naturally a worry wart anyhow. But was has been a little surprising is the sheer level of anxiety that I have been feeling recently. Way more than worry wart stage. The kind where all I can think about is something going wrong, and then I fall down the rabbit hole (aka the internet) and I am starting to feel that I am drowning in my fears. Probably irrationally. But I can’t seem to help how just downright terrified I have been feeling lately.

The strangest thing about it is that as my pregnancy progresses, my risk decreases. But all it takes is one post on a message board to send me into a spiral of worry. I wish it were as easy as “just don’t read those things” – but it’s not. Even when I actively try to avoid them, I will inadvertantly come across something that just scares me senseless.

I don’t like these feelings. And I really need to get control of them. My anxiety seems to becoming more constat – and I am getting to the point that I almost feel like I need to bring it up with my doctor.

In an effort to try and get some ground under my feet again, and stop worrying so much, I visited the same place that is a large cause of my anxiety: The Internet. As it turns out, anxiety in pregnancy is a really common thing. One of the methods that I found to try and help control the anxiety was to make a sort of journal that not only outlines what is making you anxious, but also makes you find information to combat your concerns.

Since I am open to trying anything that will help me hold it together (and not end up a sobbing mess on my bedroom floor), I thought I’d give it a try.

Anxious Thought: That I will miscarry.
How that thought makes me feel: Terrified.
Evidence for the Worry: Many women miscarry, even after their first trimester. I’ve heard and read stories about it happening.
Evidence Against the Worry: While women do miscarry once they are out of their first trimester, once you have heard and seen the heartbeat your chance of miscarriage decreases significantly. In fact, once you enter your second trimester your chance of miscarriage is less than 5%. That means that there is a greater than 95% chance that your pregnancy is going to be uneventful and that you are going to deliver your baby.

Anxious Thought: Now that we’ve “announced” if something happens people will be disappointed.
How that makes me feel: Stressed. I have also had a problem with feeling like I disappointed people.
Evidence for the Worry: Everyone is very excited that I am pregnant. Disappointment is a natural reaction when something you want to happen, doesn’t.
Evidence Against the Worry: Everyone that is important to you, cares about you. They will be a support network, and will love you, even if something happens. Their first reaction will be to find out how you are doing, and what they can do to help you.

Anxious Thought: That something will come up wrong on the echocardiogram in December.
How that makes me feel: Scared.
Evidence for the Worry: There is scientific research that shows some percentage of babies with an NT reading that matches our has a heart problem.
Evidence Against the Worry: There is a less than 5% chance that something is wrong. In fact, over 93% of women who have an abnormal reading between the 95th and 99th percentile go on to have perfectly normal, healthy babies. The odds are very much in our favor that nothing is wrong.

Anxious Thought: That I will miscarry and not know it.
How that makes me feel: Terrified.
Evidence for the Worry: Women, even those in their second trimester, have missed miscarriages.
Evidence Against the Worry: While women do miscarry once they are out of their first trimester, once you have heard and seen the heartbeat your chance of miscarriage decreases significantly. In fact, once you enter your second trimester your chance of miscarriage is less than 5%. That means that there is a greater than 95% chance that your pregnancy is going to be uneventful and that you are going to deliver your baby.

A few facts:  It is most likely that I will deliver a healthy baby. It is very unlikely that something is going to go wrong. While bad things do happen, they are statistically unlikely to happen to me.

It’s Been Three Months Since My Last Post

Some of you might have already guessed what the prolonged silence here meant. Some of you may have thought that I’d just been busy or forgotten about the blog. And some of you may have keyed into my lack of frustration and ranting on other social media venues. And for those who haven’t, or would just like some confirmation, here you go:

I am (finally) Pregnant!

(it’s a girl!)

It has been a completely nerve wracking, terrifying and exciting three months. Constantly questioning if this is really happening. Waiting for something to inevitably go wrong. Being hyper sensitive to every little ache and twinge in my body. But here I am, successfully through the end of the first trimester. And, well, I think this is really going to happen!

I suppose that maybe I should turn back time about three months, and start from there. We completed our fifth and final IUI in August, just before my birthday. We had a reconference with the doctor regarding our most recent lab results, and had decided that we were ready to go ahead with the jump into IVF. We would complete this current cycle, make sure that we’d done everything the insurance required for IVF coverage, and start the IVF process our next cycle. It was a done deal. We were ready to move forward and as my 37th birthday passed me by, we were keenly aware the time was not on our side for this adventure.

On August 24th, I received some lab results back from my hematologist. Of note was that my CRP, which was 5.1 and greatly improved in my last reading, had doubled and was back up to 11.2. We had known from the conversations with the RE that pregnancy itself might bring on some autoimmune responses, so I rushed down the block to the drug store and bought a pregnancy test. I sat in the bathroom at work afraid to be optimistic – and yet when that three minute marker passed, there was a definitive second line present.

Even though I wasn’t supposed to do a urine test for another day, I know from experience that the HCG from my trigger shots are out of my system 10 days after administration. So despite being a day early, I called the clinic, explained that I was a little concerned because my CRP was up again (and my WBC for that matter) but had gotten a positive pregnancy test and was worried this was indicative of an autoimmune response and that I was concerned about another loss. They had me come in that afternoon for an HCG and Progesterone blood draw, and sure enough it said I was pregnant. The RE said we can expect my CRP to rise with pregnancy, so he wasn’t concerned about that – but he wasn’t sure what would be causing the elevated WBC. They had me come back in 2 days later for another HCG draw, and my numbers had more than doubled. Another two days after that, and they had doubled again. It looked like this pregnancy was going to hold!

I went in at 5 weeks to have an ultrasound and look for the gestational sac and egg yolk, and sure enough, there it was. It had good placement within my uterus and everything seemed to be progressing as it should be. A week and a half or so later, I went back in for another ultrasound to look for a heartbeat. And there it was, beating away. I was told to schedule an appointment with my OB – who had me come in around 7 weeks 3 days, and there was that little heartbeat again. 9 weeks I had another scan at the clinic, and everything was progressing as it should. The clinic left it up to me if I was ready to graduate yet, but still nervous that something was going to go wrong I asked to come back one more time before the appointment for our genetic testing – just to make sure that everything was still okay. And sure enough, that little heart was chugging away and everything was perfect! An appointment the following week with the OB at 11 weeks 4 days and things were still progressing, with the OB advising me that it would be safe to share our news.

Wanting to wait until we had our genetic results back (I will write another post on this experience in the next few days), we held out another week and a half before sharing the news with family. Which we did this weekend. Which means that it’s time to share the good news with everyone else!

Even though I’m posting this today, I will probably wait until tomorrow to announce on my twitter account. I just thought it would be awkward to have added a few new pages to the blog here…and not say anything! Additionally, I will not be posting updates on my main twitter account. I have created a separate, private account for baby related updates (@MyPapoose) that you are welcome to follow if you’d like. (If you follow, and I don’t follow back, you may want to give me a nudge and let me know who you are!).

I’m sure now that it’s no longer a secret, I will have more regular updates to the blog – and already have a whole list of posts that have been rattling around in my head! Needless to say, I am really excited and can’t wait to chat a little more about everything!