Monday, August 31, 2009

Gender and names

As you might have noticed, we are not finding out the sex of our baby until he/she's born.

This is very unlike me, the ultimate control freak. But when my DH said that if I was dying to know, he'd be OK with it, but he'd prefer to wait, it all of a sudden sounded like a good idea to me. Publicly, I say it's because after all our high tech attempts to become pregnant, it ended up happening the old fashioned way, so we're sticking with old fashioned. Privately, though, I think it has a little something to do with the nursery, believe it or not.

I'm not a big fan of the pink/blue themes, or even the really "baby-looking" pastel themes in general. My decorating style tends to be more contemporary, with simple lines, dark woods, a little minimalistic. I like neutral colors, symmetry and balance. And the idea of having a pastel, cutesy nursery just doesn't appeal to me. Since we're not finding out the sex, I feel a little more justified in going with browns, tans, taupes and creams in the nursery. The walls are (will be!) 2 shades of light taupe with a chair rail, the furniture is espresso wood, with beige microfiber for the glider, and the bedding is 2-tone brown stripes and dots. Hardly sounds like a baby's room, right? Well, I'm at least doing an animal theme, so I have a bunch of pictures and wall hangings picked out to spruce it up a little.

But I want the nursery to be muted and quiet, not bright and stimulating. I want it to be a place for sleeping, not for playing. We're lucky enough to have a formal living room connected to the family room that will become the playroom (it's now our gym, but once DH finishes half of the basement, all our equipment is moving down there). The playroom will have bright colors, motivational posters, chalk boards, those rubber floor puzzle tiles, and all kinds of fun, stimulating stuff in it. Toys will go in the playroom, where bedtime books will go in the nursery.

So in a weird way, not knowing helps me feel good about a more "adult" neutral nursery style!

Plus, we're having fun picking out names for both sexes! We actually had both the boy and girl first names picked out before we even got pregnant. We both agreed completely on the boy name, and were tossing around a few girl names we both liked, and then a few months ago my DH came up with a really unique, awesome girl name that I just love. So we've been playing around with middle names, and I think we're all set (I even setup birth announcement templates in Shutterfly to see how it looks on paper!). There have been two deaths in our families, and we are able to honor both with the first and middle names we've chosen, which we both feel really good about.

Most everyone I know who has been pregnant recently has found out what they are having, and it's fun to be in the dark!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Like a kid at Christmastime...

OK, I'm just like a little kid. My husband even has to hide his gifts for me at holiday time because he knows I'll peek!!

Well, I'm peeking now. I was looking at my registry yesterday, and I saw that something had been purchased already!! The invites for the shower haven't even gone out yet, so it must be someone from my close family who's involved in planning the shower.

It was such a thrill seeing that a gift has been purchased. And it's our jogging stroller - whoo hoo!! I'm so excited. I won't be able to use it for a while since I'm due in December, but I can't wait until I can start running again, and now with my baby! When I'm at the shore I always see people jogging on the boardwalk with their jogging strollers, and I've always dreamed of being one of them.

I don't think I'm going to be able to hold back from peeking at the registry every day. I'll use the excuse that I want to check if anything has been discontinued, or that I need to add or remove some of the items, but the truth is, I can't stop myself! DH just shakes his head.

And we hit another milestone today, without even planning on it. We were out doing some errands and returns, and wandered over to the baby clothes section. The new fall/winter clothes are out, and we were checking out all the cute outfits. And we bought two of them! The first baby purchase we've made (excluding furniture). We found two adorable outfits for bringing baby home - one boy and one girl outfit. For the regular layette stuff I'm just picking neutral colors, but I wanted the cutest, gender specific homecoming outfit for all the pictures. So we bought one of each. There is no time limit on returns, so we'll just take back the one we don't need.

Now... how likely do you think it is that we'll end up buying 10 more homecoming outfits before the baby is born???

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Babymoon fun!

Well, we had our mini-babymoon this past weekend, and it was definitely the perfect getaway.

We arrived early on Sat morning so the guys could make their 10am tee time, while us gals headed to the "biosphere" pool. It's enclosed in a huge greenhouse, and they retracted the roof and sides when it wasn't raining. Nice way to enjoy an indoor pool, but still get the breeze as if you were outside. We did a lot of reading, chit-chatting and relaxing. Plus we took a bunch of pics of our baby bumps!

Then the guys returned, and we got couples / prenatal massages. Not as good as the one I had on my birthday, but still fun. And then dinner was fantastic.

The next day, we met up for brunch, spent a few hours at the outdoor pool, and then DH and I played golf at a different course called Black Bear. And wouldn't you know it, on the 9th hole, a black bear walked across the fairway!!! Couldn't have been more than 50 yards away from us... just strolling along. It was pretty wild (and definitely a little scary!). Then we had a nice dinner at the lodge, then headed home.

It was just enough of a getaway to feel nice and refreshed without breaking the bank! We might try to fit in another weekend golf trip to the winery where we had our wedding reception. They have a really nice golf course and hotel at the winery, and the food there is really good, too. Although it may be a little tough to be vacationing at a winery when we're not drinking!!

Meanwhile, I am closing in on the postpartum doula front. I have three of them coming over one night next week and will make my choice then. We are also making good progress on a bunch of home improvements for the nursery and playroom.

But the best is all the kicking! My little one is very active, and s/he kicks all the time. It's so reassuring to feel him/her every day, and makes me much more calm, especially as I have another 3 weeks before my next OB appointment! Plus, DH has been able to feel the kick on the outside a few times. Very, very cool. We are such typical first-time parents, eating up every little new experience, and feeling like it's an absolute miracle!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OB appt and updates

Had another good OB appointment today. At 20w6d I'm up 3.5 pounds, and they took a new measurement - the fundal height. That's from my pubic bone to the top of my uterus, and it was about 20cm. She said that's right where it should be (approximately 1 cm for each week). The heartbeat was in the mid-150's, and she commented that the baby was very active! She even felt some kicks while using the doppler.

Speaking of active, I'm feeling the kicks every day. My DH even got to feel it one night! He felt about 2-3 kicks. That was very cool!

We also talked about the flu shot situation. She said I should definitely get the regular shot (thimerisol free) and the swine vaccine. She believes that the vaccine will all be thimerisol free. Unfortunately, in NJ, OB offices cannot get insurance reimbursement if they give the shot. Which is completely backwards, as pregnant women are at the top of the list to get it. But it has to be administered by a regular doc. Great - another doc appointment I need to schedule! And after the last fiasco with my regular doc, I'm not going back to her so I'll need to find a new one. Ughh.

I had also spoken to my cousin's husband this past weekend. He's a consultant to pharmaceutical companies. He definitely thinks I shouldn't be worried about the swine vaccination. He explained to me that it's really just another strain of the flu, it's not like they are developing a completely new vaccination, it's just a variation on the regular flu shot. He said that every year, the regular flu strain changes, so every year's flu shot has been modified from the year before. So the swine vaccination is not much different then the current flu shot in terms of testing, safety, etc. That made me feel better.

In other related news:
  • We've picked our daycare! After seeing all three in the area, we both felt strongly about one of them, so I'm going to register this week.
  • I'm done registering - except for the layette, I haven't figured out exactly what clothes, etc. I'll need, so I'll do that soon.
  • My shower is scheduled for Oct 10. My mom picked out this beautiful restaurant with a private room, two fireplaces... sounds wonderful. I can't wait!
  • Our baby furniture has come in! We got the call from the delivery company 2 days after it was ordered! Yikes! We're having it held until Oct so we'll have time to clear out the room, paint, shampoo the carpet, and put in closet organizers.
  • I'm starting the serious search for a postpartum doula to help out in the weeks after we come home
  • We signed up for 3 classes at the hospital - birthing, baby care and breast feeding
  • Mini babymoon this weekend! Golf, spa, pool, nice dinners with good friends - can't wait!

And that's about it. Everything continues to go really well!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The club

I've noticed a very strange thing. I seem to be in "the club" now. The mommy club.

There are a few people in my family that I'm not crazy about, but that recently, I have enjoyed their company.

First, my DH's brother's wife. She is somewhat the outcast of my DH's family. Her daughter is 4.5, and she "withholds" her from the rest of the family. She has never let anyone babysit her daughter, not even her husband. He is not allowed to go anywhere but the local park alone with her (how weird is that???). She will never leave her daughter with the inlaws without her being there, and they can only see her on Saturdays when SIL brings her over, that's it. And these are really nice people. (In fact, MIL will be watching my Little One once a week while I'm at work, plus backup days as needed).

SIL seems to "disdain" them a bit because they work in the cleaning business. Meanwhile, FIL and MIL started this business from the ground up when they were newly married and struggling, all the kids (my DH, hers and their sister) work in the business, and it provides them all with salaries, medical benefits and a 401(k). I'll tell you what - I respect the heck out of them and think it's admirable that they have created a successful business that has provided for their whole family. And oh, P.S., SIL has never lifted a finger to ever earn money of her own, even with a college degree, and even BEFORE they had a baby. The in-laws (who are by no means wealthy) have bought them everything to help them out along the way (all their formula, diapers, groceries at Costco, even a mini-van). But yet she looks down on what they do for a living.

Anyway - I have never been a fan of hers, and I think she was completely intimidated by me when I entered the family - successful career, means to buy a nice house, vacation home, etc. Plus the inlaws and I get along great. She didn't come to my bridal shower (or even send me a card), and we've always been just cordial.

Well, since I've become pregnant, we've actually had some really nice conversations. Baby gear, challenges, the local schools, etc. And she hasn't been preachy, even though we will have very different parenting styles (stay-at-home mom vs. career mom). Maybe it's because we now have something in common, or because I've been asking her questions making her feel like the "expert". I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it's interesting. She's even opened up to me about her relationship with her husband, and even their sex life (OK, definitely TMI for sure!).

And the other one is my cousin, who I've mentioned before (had a good career, married wealthy, quit her job, moved to a prestigious neighborhood into a 1.2m home, has 2 kids, but the hubby travels 5 days a week). We had a family party on Sat and her family was there. We talked a lot about babies, baby gear (she offered to give me anything I wanted of hers, as she is not having any more kids - a very generous offer), and the whole stay-at-home mom vs. career mom thing. She even opened up and said she really misses working and feels a little lost in her life right now. She feels irritated that she's basically a single mom with her hubby gone all week, and she resents the cattiness of the mommy-cliques. That even though you try to stay out of it, you realize that somehow you got caught up in it, just like high school. But when she was working at the beginning of raising her first child, she felt very left out of things by having to work and not being able to have play dates or socialize with moms during the week.

I thought she was being very honest and open about difficult feelings, where there is really no "one" answer, and I was surprised that she was being so candid and thoughtful with me.

So I wonder... are moms talking to me more now because we have something in common, or because the now see me as being "in the club"? That I'm somehow now "worthy" of their time because now I'm one of them? Or is it me... was I never interested in what they had to say as moms, and I'm just taking a genuine interest now? Did I come across as intimidating or dismissive somehow because I seemed to have a lot more to talk to their working husbands about?

It really does seem a little "us and them", and I want to be sensitive to that when I'm with my friends without children. I don't want to make anyone feel like a "them".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The second half

Today, I am 20w1d... officially in the second half of my pregnancy!!

I'm feeling great - still no major symptoms at all. Well, except the growing belly! I think it's so interesting how pregnancy affects people so differently.

I've had NO:
  • sickness
  • nausea
  • food or smell aversions
  • cravings
  • ravenous hunger
  • mood swings
  • change in nipples
  • veins
  • change in sex drive - I've read that women typically are not into it the first tri, and then very into it the second... I've just been more hesitant overall due to my worrying about the fragility of the pregnancy, but no real change in libido. Too bad for my DH - no big surge in sex drive for him! :(
  • change in hair or nail growth - I was hoping for much quicker growth, but I've been taking the prenatal vitamins for 2 years now

So, what HAVE I been feeling?

  • Tiredness - very tired in the first trimester, but much more energetic now (but if I try to take advantage of that and end up with less than 6 hours of sleep, I become exhausted)
  • Popping joints - more amusing than anything
  • Constipation - not pleasant for sure, but reasonably under control with Colace
  • Slight increase in boob size - about 1 cup size
  • Strange minor aches and pains - the doc said it's my muscles and ligaments stretching
  • Lots of peeing!
  • A "glow" - I don't see it, but that's what people say. I'll take it! I think it's just that I'm so happy!

I have to say, a great pregnancy experience so far, I hope the second half is just as good!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


So.... I think I've been feeling the baby move for the past several days! :)

It's hard to tell, it feels a little like gas, or like your stomach digesting food and shifting a little, but I'm pretty sure it's the baby moving. I like to think it is, anyway! It seems to come in spurts, and it makes me smile every time. It's pretty wild!

Unfortunately, the movements can't be felt from the outside, so DH hasn't gotten to experience it yet, but he asks me each day if I've felt our little one. I can't wait until he starts to feel it, too.

On other physical fronts, my bump is definitely a good size bump now! I love it. It still is not definitely a pregnancy bump, but I play it up by wearing maternity clothes. I've only gained two pounds, but my shape has really changed! I've had 2 people ask me if I'm expecting - one at work, and one at the nail salon. It feels good!

Meanwhile, we just ordered our furniture last night. My mom is buying the crib (and conversion rails - it's a convertible crib), and we're getting a matching dresser/changer combo unit. I originally wanted the hutch to go on top, and a separate armoire, but I realized that is a lot of furniture, and it would give us less flexibility for things like a toy chest, a mirror above the dresser, etc. So we just went with the two pieces, in a style and finish I LOVE (and was highly rated in Baby Bargains), and then we'll add a lot of decorations that can change as our baby grows up. I was able to get a free crib mattress, plus 10% off for opening a credit card, plus there are 15% off coupons effective later this week, so I can go back for a price adjustment. All in all, not a bad deal!

And I did another round of registering. It's exhausting! Learning about everything you need, researching the brands, types, etc., and then picking it out. Whew! I'm going back tonight, then I'll probably need one more trip.

We're also closing in on a daycare - visiting the 3rd place this afternoon, and I've spoken to some baby nurses / postpartum doulas (I want to hire one to help out for the first few weeks - get us into the swing of things!). I feel like I'm moving well through my exhaustive baby checklist and making good progress.

It's an exciting time!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The big ultrasound - 19w1d

We had the big ultrasound this morning, and the news is 90% good. Great actually!

First, the technician started doing the exam, and I asked if she could turn the monitor so I could see, but she said she needed to do all her measurements with the screen facing her, then we could have some fun.

So I was in the dark for a while, but DH got to see everything. At one point he laughed and said the baby looked like s/he was running, that the legs were moving real fast! How cute! I'm a runner, and while I've toned it down to fast walking on the treadmill since becoming pg, I think the baby is picking up that trait from me! The technician commented that the baby was very active, and it was hard for her to get a few measurements. She said the doc would try when he came in.

So then she turned the screen, and wow! The baby was so big compared to the last u/s. I could see chambers in the heart, the spine, and when the baby turned to me, we could see facial features, it was very cool. She printed out a few pics for us, then the doc came in.

First, the doc went over the previous diagnostics tests for downs/trisomy, etc. All the great numbers I already knew. He also commented that the baby was very active and he understood why the technician couldn't get some of the measurements. But he was able to.

Then he told me that everything looked normal, and therefore, the odds of downs, which had previously been ~1/2000 was now ~1/4000. So that sealed the deal for us - no amnio!

He said the cervix looked nice and long and closed, and that the placenta is in the front. Which is no problem, but explains why I haven't felt the baby move, even with all the activity. He said it's like the princess and the pea - there's an extra mattress in the way! I thought I felt the baby move last night, but I think I want to so badly that I'm half imagining it... but he said I will appreciate this later, as it will help to buffer the kicks when the baby gets bigger!

But now the 10% that's not so great... my fibroid has grown from 3cm to 7cm, and is protruding into the uterus. It used to be on the outside. Luckily, it is in the back, so it's not sucking nutrients off of the placenta and competing with the baby. However, it is very close to my cervix. Which means is could block a vaginal birth and result in a planned c-section.

He wants to keep an eye on it to see how it progresses. He said he's not going to order ultrasounds every two weeks (even though I begged him!), but he wants me to come back for another ultrasound at the beginning of my third trimester.

I REALLY don't want to have a c-section, but I'm trying to look at the positive side of this....
1) I get another ultrasound in about 6w
2) If I do have to have a c-section, I'll get an additional 2w off of work on disability. meaning 8w of disability + 3 weeks vacation for 11w total
3) No possibility of an episiotomy or tearing
4) If it's planned, I get to plan it!

That's all the positives I can think about. Not sure if it comes close to outweighing the negatives (surgery, recovery, difficulty holding/lifting the baby, scarring, never getting my flat abs back, and missing out on a more natural birthing experience), but I guess it's out of my control!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Insurance companies

Now, I bet you all think this is going to be a post ranting about the bad practices of the insurance companies... Not so! (Not today, anyway!) My insurance company has actually helped me to save quite a bit of money lately. Let me share my "secret", maybe it will help someone else!

My insurance pays for any infertility related services (excluding drugs) up to a lifetime maximum cap of $10k. After that, they pay nothing. So basically, after all my diagnostic testing and 3 IUIs, I was on my own, having reached the lifetime cap. However, I still did 2 IVFs and more diagnostic testing at a new clinic, so I ended up spending about $30k altogether. But it could have been a lot worse.

If you've never heard of the insurance contract rate, you should become familiar with it. Basically, it's the rate that your insurance company agrees to pay your doctor or lab for specific services. For example, I might get a bill from my OB for a regular, prenatal care ultrasound for $250, which is covered by insurance. The insurance company gets the claim, and they "adjust" the $250 to the agreed-upon contract rate of $100 for an ultrasound. Then, the insurance company tells me I have to pay my 15% coinsurance ($15) and the insurance company pays the rest of the contract rate ($85). So the doctor has agreed to accept $100 for an ultrasound, instead of $250.

However, if you're not covered by insurance, the doctor bills you for the full $250, and expects you to pay $250. They expect to get paid MORE by an individual than they are willing to accept from an insurance company.

So here's the trick. I've noticed that on the explanation of benefits (EOB) that you get from your insurance company, they list the contract rate for the procedure in question. Even if they deny the claim because you've hit your limit. With that information, you can negotiate with your doctors and labs to only pay the contract rate. Some real examples I've negotiated:

1) IVF Clinic full rate for IVF w/o ICSI (not incl drugs) = $9410. Contract rate = $7820. Savings = $1600 (x2 for two IVF's = $3200!)

2) Lab full rate for initial bloodwork testing at new clinic = $840. Contract rate = $230. Savings = $610

3) Lab full rate for E2 and P4 bloodwork = $330. Contract rate = $60. Savings = $270 (I saved this at lunchtime today)

That's over $4k in saving right there, and these are just a few examples! My insurance company has a website where you can view and print all of your EOB's. So every time I get a bill from a doctor or lab, I go online and look at the EOB. If the service is not covered, I call the doctor or lab and negotiate to get the contract rate. It's more hassle and more legwork, but it is extremely worth it. The doctors are harder (I had to write a formal letter for the IVF discount, but heck - I basically got paid $1600 for writing that letter!), but my lab (Labcorp) is very easy. They say right on their invoices that if your EOB says to pay less, then you can pay less. I simply call them, tell them what the contract rate is, pay by credit card, get a confirmation number, and poof - I saved $270.

So I am grateful to my insurance company for providing me the contract rate even if the procedure is not covered, and for having a simple to use online system to easily look up old EOB's when needed!

Of course, even better would be if they covered everything, but that's a whole other blog post!

Two other cost saving tips:

1) If your lab is nearby, go to them directly when possible for bloodwork, rather than to your doctor (you'll need the doc to give you a requisition for the blood tests needed). When I was doing the IVFs, and having to go in for regular bloodwork, I realized that the clinic would charge $50-$100 for an "office visit", PLUS you would also have to pay the lab. If you go directly to the lab, you only pay the lab, no "office visit" charge. (I would only do this if it was a bloodwork only visit. If I needed an u/s, too, it was too much of a hassle to visit both places and still get to work on time!)

2) If you get pregnant (yay!), and your insurance doesn't cover infertility related services, make sure your clinic immediately starts classifying the beta tests, ultrasounds and office visits as "prenatal" instead of "infertility". Most insurance covers prenatal care, and once you are pregnant, the services are no longer infertility related. My clinic classified the first visit after becoming pregnant as infertility, so it wasn't covered, but I made them resubmit the claim under prenatal care, and that saved me a few hundred

That's all folks!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still worrying

I turn 19w tomorrow, and no complications so far, but I still have a bunch of worries....

1) First, I'm worried about my genetic ultrasound on Thursday. I'm worried the baby will not be alive. The last ultrasound I had was around 12w, and even though the docs have heard the heartbeat on the doppler, that doesn't feel as real to me. Plus, I'm not feeling any movement, yet, and starting at 16w, they say it's possible to feel the flutters of movement (although not unusual to not feel anything until 22w). I was good with being confident for the past few weeks, but now my anxiety level is definitely up. Thursday can't come soon enough!

2) Second, I'm worried about the flu shot. I've never had a flu shot before, but they highly recommend it for pg women. Getting a high fever when pg is bad for the fetus, plus it is supposed to pass along some protection to the baby who can't get a flu shot before 6 months. So they recommend it UNLESS, you've had a bad reaction to it in the past. Well, I've never had one, so I don't know if I would have a bad reaction. My mom and dad get the shot and have never had a reaction, so I'm guessing I'll be OK, but I'm worried. I like absolutes, not guessing. Plus, there's a preservative in it (thimerisol?) that's high in mercury and has possible links to autism (although never proven). There are versions of the shot without the preservative, but they are much harder to find. I'll have to talk this all over with my OB.

3) Third, I'm worried about the Swine vaccination. That's due out in Oct, and they are predicting a resurgence of new cases in the fall once kids go back to school. Pregnant women, parents of young children and care givers will be top of the list to get the vaccination. However, they are fast tracking the approval process to get it ready ASAP, which, from what I've read, means they do less safety testing than they normally would in a non-fast track cycle. Certainly, there won't be time for studies on the effects on the fetus for pg women. We would just be the guinea pigs! There was a problem in the 70's with a vaccination (for the avian flu I think?), with many bad batches of the vaccination that had to be destroyed. And I'm not sure if, similar to the flu shot, getting vaccinated while pg gives the baby any protection. Because then there's always the daycare issue - will an unprotected baby be safe in daycare before they can be vaccinated? More questions for my OB.

So, am I a raving lunatic here, and just worrying way too much? Or are these real issues I need to consider?