Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One more update

Today was the day of the specialist appointment at the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at the hospital.  I was seen by an ultrasound tech, then the doctor and an ultrasound tech, and then just by the doctor.  I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork before I went, but since I had so much history of everything that went on, I ended up just writing out a hand written page of the dates I was seen and everything I had been told thus far, plus my blood levels and measurements from the ultrasounds.  

It calmed me down a little when I got there, because the tech that was seeing me today was the same one who had completed little man's nuchal translucency testing back in August of 2010, and I was able to tell her she was right when she told me he would be a boy at 13 weeks along.  She started with a abdominal, commented on my tilted uterus, and then proceeded to get the doctor and move to the vaginal ultrasound.  She didn't initially show me the baby, so I kind of flipped out a little, and started crying and asked if she could see the baby, at which point she immediately showed me and then gave me some kleenex.  

If I were less emotional still at that point (I think I'm getting some ultrasound anxiety- they are not fun anymore in that I'm always flipping out before I go in fear), the following situation would probably be funny to me.  The very Russian doctor came in at that point.  She asked me a few questions about my pregnancy so far based on all the information I had written out.  She also asked if I was still nursing and how many times, and seemed okay with the fact that it is often more than just the one time per day the other Ob recommended.  The doctor and the ultrasound tech then took turns probing me with the wand, muttering "Hmmmm" and "Grrrreat" (half in a typical Midwesterner dialect and half in a Russian accent) for about 5-10 minutes.  I'm pretty sure DH would have gotten a few laughs out of how odd/awkward that situation was if he would have been there as well.

While the tech continued to take pictures and data, the doctor came down and sat down by my other side and talked me through everything that has happened so far.  She said they can't be 100% sure what is going on until I actually deliver, and they can analyze the placenta to know for sure, but that she thinks it is probably a hemorrhage or a vanishing twin, although a hemorrhage looked more likely at this point.  She told me that she was sorry that I had been through so much already, but that at this point, she thought I could be calm in the fact that she was 99% sure that this would be a normal pregnancy from here on out.  The doctor also said that at this point, she would like to continue monitoring me, and wanted me back to complete the nuchal translucency for this baby to give them a further look in 2-3 weeks.  She said they would also want to be the ones who completed my anatomy scan at 20 weeks to more fully assess the baby at that time.  The doctor said that those would be the minimum ultrasounds they would do, that if they started thinking the area was growing, that they would monitor me more frequently, like every week or two, with more ultrasounds.

And yet again, at the end of the day, I am one lucky lady.  I am thankful to have this child growing inside of me, I am thankful that I got and have a second chance with this baby.  I know how tough it is for a lot of women to get pregnant, and for many more women to stay pregnant, and that is not lost on me.  However, from here on out, I am going to try to no longer think about what has happened, and try to just move forward and love this child without fear, without anxiety, without any sadness from what I've been through.  It is the best I can do for me, and the best I can do for the baby.  From here on out, I'll continue to update, but I've made a promise to myself to focus on the normal things, the happy things, the uncomfortable/typical aches/pains and changes to my body.  I am going to celebrate this pregnancy and this child all I can while I am still carrying them with me, because all too soon they become babies that become toddlers that become children, and I want to savor every moment I have without being afraid.


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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Power of Connection

This weekend, I was lucky enough to meet up with 6 other mamas, some of their husbands, and 7 of their babies for an amazing weekend of cuteness.  


This group of mamas are a diverse, beautiful, supportive bunch of women that I've had the privilege to meet and get to know since I found out that I was pregnant with little man.  So, I've been getting to know some of these ladies for almost two years at this point.  Having babies that are all within about 1-6ish months apart, we've been able to experience a lot of the new world of being mothers together.  The good, the bad, and the ugly, these women have always been ears to listen and words of support and encouragement through many of the great and not-so-great days since little man was born (as with several other wonderful ladies who were not able to make it due to distance or other conflicts).  

As a new mama, it has been extremely helpful to me to have a support system.  Of course, I have my husband, my parents, my family, and my close friends, but there is something of an unspoken bond to be said of a group of mothers who come together in support of each other and a good baby poop joke or two :)  This weekend, several of us ladies traveled quite a distance to make it to the gathering, including one mama who came with not only her toddler, but also her newborn, from hours away.  

Thankfully, I have one very close local friend who is part of the mom's group who decided she was in for the ride, so we attempted the trip sans husbands and braved the 5 hours in the car and hotel stay together (which I'll dedicate an entire other post to in a day or so).  It was SO great to be able to spend time with her, and actual REAL quality time with her and a few of the other mamas while we were there.  

I find that, at times, it is difficult to be able to connect fully with other women and mothers at short play dates, park trips, etc. at times, because you are so focused on making sure your little one is taken care of, that half the time you don't even really get to talk to the other parents.  This weekend was a little different of course, because it was somewhat extended in time (my local friend and I stayed overnight two nights), but also because these mamas knew each other and already had connections that this visit sufficed to only strengthen.  Even if it were only for short conversations, we were able to really make the effort to better know and support each other this weekend.  

If you are a new mother, or are going to be a new mother, I HIGHLY recommend finding a mother's group you are comfortable with and in which you can express your feelings openly.  These women above are some of the women I run to with questions or alternately give advice to, and it has been such a helpful part of my path into becoming the mama that I want to be.  To all the ladies present this weekend, and all the others who were unable to come, I appreciate you, and I thank you for being in my life.



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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today's ultrasound update

Just a quick note as to the ultrasound update from today, because we completely screwed up little man's nap schedule for the appointment this afternoon, and are now paying for it with a sad, teething, grumpy bucket that DH is currently playing with to try and calm him down.   

The first baby looked great, measured 8 weeks and 4 days, which is exactly how old I would measure it to be based on my suspected ovulation date.  Heart beat was loud and strong and heart rate I think was somewhere in the low 180's?  Although I'm not sure because the Ob did not give me an exact number.

The second sac had not progressed at all, there was no second fetal pole, baby, heartbeat, etc.  The Ob also didn't seem to find a second yolk sac today?  He said something about the sac had grown larger, as had everything else, but began to vacillate about what the sac was at this point.  His next step was to refer me to the maternal fetal medicine department at our hospital for a third opinion as to what exactly was going on with the second sac.  They are supposed to call within 24 hours, and I am supposed to have another ultrasound with that department within one week.  I had asked the Ob again if the repeat ultrasound could wait until the NT scan, as we did that last time with little man and will do it again with this pregnancy at 11-13 weeks, and he said no, that he wanted to know what was going on sooner than that.  That will be my 7th ultrasound so far.

In the brief amount of time I have before DH needs me to take over little man duty, I will say I am both relieved and saddened at the same time.  While I was really hoping to go into the ultrasound today and find two babies, I can't say that there wasn't a feeling in the pit of my stomach, gnawing at me, asking 'What if there aren't any babies in there?'  At the end of this whole ordeal, if I make it out of this pregnancy with one healthy baby, I am going to thank my lucky stars and be appreciative for everything I have.  As I said in one of my other posts, for today, I am pregnant, I am lucky, and I am so happy to be in this place.

Also, to each and every one of you who made this day so much easier for me by texting me, calling me, sending me cute/funny pictures on facebook, and giving your time/thoughts/prayers to me and my little one, I want to say thank you so much.  My heart has swollen today with all the love you've shown.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

If you have a spare minute tonight or tomorrow

Please say a prayer or think a few positive thoughts for my two inside babies.  Tomorrow is the day of my repeat ultrasound, and while I'm extremely nervous, I'm so hopeful for a good outcome.  We could use any prayers, thoughts, or hands to help carry us all through the next day or so until we find out further details.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

MomsRising

A few weeks ago, I posted a few of my views on the maternity coverage in the United States here.  Ever since then, especially with my more recent pregnancy news, I've been thinking quite a bit about how terrible our benefits are here as women and mothers, and have been wanting to do something more.  A few days ago, I discovered MomsRising.  It is a great site and a great cause for mothers, women, men, and anyone who really cares about the rights women have in our country.

MomsRising's slogan is 'Where moms and people who love them go to change our world.'  They stand for each woman having an impact and becoming a powerful force together.  Some of the issues that they stand for are as follows:

Maternity & Paternity Leave
Open Flexible Work
Toxics
Health Care for All
Early Care & Education
Realistic & Fair Wages
Sick Days, Paid

You can read more about the issues they stand for and fight for here.

I was made aware of this group by a friend who had passed along this letter to electronically sign and send in to Time magazine.  If you've hid under a rock lately and haven't heard the controversy regarding Time's magazine cover of a mother breastfeeding her three year old, check out your news sources, because it will be easy to find.  Anyway, so MomsRising basically wrote up a letter to Time magazine that they are asking women to sign and they send it in.  Their request was this:

Together, let’s send TIME Magazine a strong message:“Enough with the false, outdated mommy wars.  It’s time to cover the real issues that face mothers and families now across the nation every day.” 

I think this message is SO important to pass along, and I hope you do too.  Please check out the site, sign the letter forward, or take some time to see how you can help fight this battle that benefits us all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Early Pregnancy Symptoms- a 7.5 week update

I've been a little bit hesitant to begin writing about this pregnancy other than announcing that it is still happening. I think that I am still holding on to some of that fear from being told this baby/babies would not be coming home with me.  But, in saying that, I think the more open I am about things, the better I'm going to feel.  I'm already invested in this child/these children, and writing a few more posts about it/them isn't going to change how much I care for them if in fact something does happen where this pregnancy ends.

I've been comparing a lot about this pregnancy to little man's, as I'm sure every second time mom does.  Some things have been right on track normal, just like I had last time around.  Some things are totally new.  And some of the symptoms I've been having are surprising the heck out of me.  So, at 7 and a half weeks, I figured I'd do a check in, but slightly less formal than some that other bloggers do, because I find that most of the questions in those pregnancy check-ins don't apply your whole pregnancy, and then you are constantly typing not applicable when you could just address the symptoms you are having.

Let's start with the lovely morning sickness.  It came early and often with little man, and it made it's debut with this pregnancy right on time as well.  I had pretty significant morning sickness to which I was on medication for it last time around, and I was hoping for a reprieve this time.  The doctor did order the same medication for me this time as last time, but in a new 'gold standard for morning sickness' version of a dissolving tab instead of in pill form.  This new tab is supposed to help you ingest the medicine without having to swallow the pill, thus saving yourself from throwing up trying to take the pill.  I have taken this exactly three times, and thrown up immediately after on two occasions.  After that, I just have been bearing with the symptoms.  Once it hits about 2:00 in the afternoon, I do start to feel a little better and I get a second wind for the afternoon, which actually works out really well, because that tends to be little man's most active time of the day, so we get to play as usual.  The morning sickness actually hasn't been as bad as last time in that, this time, I'm somewhat thankful for the symptoms.  Every time I throw up, sadly, it is kind of a peaceful confirmation that everything is still working right and my body is doing just what it should be.  I think that when the end of the first trimester hits and these symptoms go away, I will be left worrying more if everything is progressing the way it should.

The fatigue has also hit at this point.  There are some moments where I honestly just lose all energy and have no motivation to do anything but sleep.  I don't know if it is necessarily worse this time around, or if it just seems worse because I can't just lay down when I want to.  I have been trying to take more naps during the day, and I keep telling myself I will sleep when little man naps (especially since he has been doing an excellent job napping for me at home lately, he is cutting several teeth at once and it seems like he needs extra sleep around teething time because he needs to recuperate), but it is just hard to not look at the laundry piling up or the ironing needing to be done, etc. to justify needing a nap that badly.

I have also had some very odd, weird cravings for who I am this time around.  Last time, with little man, I really just craved things like peanut butter and hummus- probably because of the protein?  Yesterday, I was making turkey hamburgers for DH on the grill for dinner, and I was literally salivating at the smell.  I have NO clue what it was about turkey hamburger meat, but that is actually the second time that has happened to me since I found out I was pregnant.  As most of you already know, I'm not a big fan of meat.  Not at all.  Last pregnancy with little man, I thought that I would be craving stuff like that, because they always tell you that you crave things opposite of what you normally would like.  But with little man, I never wanted meat, and in fact, sometimes the sight or smell of it would make me even sicker.  This time?  Totally different.  I actually went to the fridge this morning thinking the whole way down the stairs, "I hope DH didn't eat that last burger!"  And thankfully, he hadn't.  :)  I don't think I've had cravings for anything else out of the norm yet, but turkey hamburgers and this turkey meatloaf recipe from Cooking Off the Beaten Path (with a few changes, as I take out the stuffing mix and add bread crumbs, and take out the mushrooms and chili sauce) have been seriously a drool-worthy item around here lately.  

As for the serious stuff, I've still been talking to both babies every day, and preparing myself mentally for whichever way this is going to go.  My repeat ultrasound is in a week from today, so I'll have more updates at that time.

*Edited to add- Dang it, now I want another turkey burger...!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Last year was my first official year as a mother on Mother's Day.  But, at that point, when little man was only three months old, I think I was still figuring out what the heck it even meant to be a mother.  This past year has been filled with so much love and so much joy from this little child I was given shortly over a year ago, I am so lucky to be his mama.  Thankfully, I've always had a really strong role model to follow.  My mother has been not only a constant source of stability, patience, generosity, and most of all love for me, but she is also one of my very best friends.  If we don't speak every day or at least every other day, one of us is calling and saying, "I miss you!  What have you been doing?"  She set aside her career when my sister and I were younger to stay at home with us, and devoted her life to our care.  As little man and the squishy babies inside right now are the only creatures who know my heart's beat from the inside, my connection with my mother is strong and unbreakable as well.  She is my friend, my supporter, my comfort, and to me, she is the best mother I could ever have been given.

I was lucky enough to spend the day today with both of my wonderful parents, my husband, and my son.  My husband and parents let me sleep in until after ten this morning which was amazing to say the least, and then off we went to have breakfast for lunch at a restaurant that is probably going to become more of a Sunday ritual.  I could not have asked for a better day spent with better people!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!!!



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Part Six

For those of you who are just starting, see below:

Part One
Parts Two & Three
Part Four
Part Five

Part Six- Twins?

This will probably be the last 'chaptered' post, as I'm hoping I won't have as much information to update as frequently, but I wanted to add one more post onto the end of all of my words to let people know where I am at right now.  (Well, other than sitting here in front of my computer while little man sleeps).

I went in for a repeat ultrasound on May 8th with the Ob.  He took a few quick looks and immediately found the baby with a heartbeat.  The heart rate was 129, up from 110 at the second opinion ultrasound.  The baby also measured right on track again today.  I could not be more thankful for this healthy, growing miracle.

The Ob also looked more deeply at the dark spot in the gestational sac.  Initially, he said that it might just be a hematoma, but as he looked further, he did say he thought it was a second sac for a second baby, with possibly a separate placenta and a second yolk sac.  At this point, he said that the second yolk sac is very large, and did not see a fetal pole or a heartbeat, so he thinks that the twin will be compressed by the healthy baby and just reabsorb, but that he wants to see me in two weeks to be sure.  (I was still only around 6.5 weeks pregnant at that point.  Also, he said he didn't see a lot of blood flow to the second gestational sac, that it was mostly going to the baby with the heartbeat, but when the tech at the imaging center had looked 4 days prior, there was no second yolk sac, so that baby was possibly still progressing since my last ultrasound.)

Based on the past few weeks, I'm not putting anything out of the question.  Especially since the diagnosis regarding the second baby sounds eerily similar to the diagnosis regarding the first baby at that terrible appointment on the rainy day a few weeks ago.  So, at this point, I'm assuming that I am still pregnant with twins and I'm talking to two babies every day, hoping that they both come home with me.  If not, I'll be okay, and I recognize that it may be a long shot, but in the past few weeks I've learned that miracles do happen.  I will possibly return in two weeks for a repeat ultrasound to check what is going on with both babies at that point in time.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Part Five- The Second Opinion

If you're just stopping by the blog, you'll probably want to check out a few other posts first to understand.  They are listed here:

Part One
Parts Two & Three
Part Four

For everyone else, Part Five- The Second Opinion.

I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.

And nothing happened.

No cramps, no bleeding, no pain.  I still woke up every morning and felt pregnant, some mornings, I did even have to return to my well-used spot in worship of the porcelain goddess just like so many days in my last pregnancy with little man.

Closer to the end of the week, I decided to take action.  I'm not one that sits well.  I just kept thinking to myself, god forbid, if someone told me that little man were to have an incurable illness in which he only had a week or two left, I wouldn't just go home and wait.  I would go to as many doctors as I needed to hear what I needed to hear.  Even if going to another doctor would confirm the diagnosis of miscarriage, it would help me to know, to process the loss, and to begin to heal once the actual process began.

Back before all this started, I had an appointment scheduled for a dating ultrasound initially after I had seen my PCP for the first blood test.  The ultrasound scheduled initially was a routine thing, especially since I had not had a period to give them an estimate on my due date.  After everything that had happened, I didn't think I still had this appointment, I thought I had cancelled it.  But apparently, I had not, and when I did go to cancel this appointment, I asked to be patched back to one of the ultrasound techs to ask a few questions.

The tech I spoke with over the phone was very kind in regards to my questions, and actually helped me problem solve through a few of my questions.  I was surprised at this because typically, in my experience, (and I'm in healthcare so I understand) healthcare professionals don't want to give any advice to unknown patients over the phone, for fear of someone claiming they were 'diagnosed' or some other nonsense over the phone.  But this tech asked for all the information I had to give, such as my hcg numbers, my prior ultrasound results, my symptoms or lack thereof.  She highly suggested that based on how I sound over the phone, that I should have my blood work completed again, and she highly recommended that I keep my appointment for the ultrasound the next day to review what is happening.  

I was somewhat wary at first, because I had already been through so much this week.  But then I really thought about it, took a deep breath, and called my PCP.  They were happy to repeat the blood work, although their tech was not working that day, so I had to go to a local hospital to have it repeated.  

I received the results of the blood work the morning of the ultrasound.  Surprisingly to me, the PCP had called my Ob, and relayed the blood work hcg numbers to him.  The Ob called me that day before the ultrasound and gave me the numbers, which were almost at 30,000, which was a great jump from my prior numbers of 7,000. This meant that because those numbers were still rising and doubling, it could be a good thing.  The Ob talked to me over the phone on that call, and said that while he did not want to send me off thinking that it was all gloom and doom, that it could just be that my body hadn't gotten the message yet that there was no baby in the sac, and that eventually, when it did, the numbers would go down and that I would start to miscarry.  He asked me if I wanted to come in and have a repeat ultrasound done with him that day, at which time I told him that I had already had one scheduled for later in the day elsewhere, and I was planning on keeping that appointment.  The Ob then told me he hoped I would prove him wrong but didn't see it as likely, and gave me his cell phone number to call after the test to verbally give him the results if they told me anything about the test.

The appointment was late in the afternoon that day, and since little man had taken a late afternoon nap, he was still sleeping when I needed to leave.  So, DH stayed home with little man and I left for the appointment.  When I got to the imaging center, they had me fill out some pieces of paperwork.  I had quite a rough time with this. One of their intake forms had the question: Pregnant?  And then a check box for yes, and a check box for no.  Of course, tears began to well up, and the somewhat confused receptionist looked across the desk at me.  My only response at that time was, "I'm not sure which one to check."

After I finished filling out the paperwork, I waited for a few minutes and then the tech who was to complete my test brought me out of the waiting room.  She sounded fairly upbeat and positive based on the results of my blood work and how my hcg levels were still rising, but I was a complete wreck at this point.  Shaky, crying, unable to form a coherent thought at some points, the whole nine yards.

I was so scared.  I was so scared that I had given myself room to hope where there was none.  I was so scared that I gave my mind and heart the liberty to run with the idea that my baby was still with me, and I was preparing for the worst, preparing for another grim message that my baby was no longer with me.

The tech began with an abdominal ultrasound, in which she wasn't able to see a lot (mainly because I was still just about 6 weeks pregnant at the time), but she showed me a little blob and said, "I think your doctor had you scared for nothing."

She began the transvaginal ultrasound and was ever so quickly able to locate a fetal pole.

With a heartbeat.

In a matter of two days, there was my child.  

I was almost as much shocked as I was ecstatic, and as much confused as I was to both of those.  Apparently, it was really early on to say that there would be no baby at my appointment a few days prior.  The tech also measured the gestational sac to be 6 weeks, with the baby measuring at 5 weeks 6 days, right in line to where I thought I should be based on when I ovulated.  I asked about the measurement a few days prior of a 9 week gestational sac, and the tech said no, that it did not measure 9 weeks, it measured 6 weeks, and it would not have measured 9 weeks a few days ago because it wouldn't have been right on track for the first ultrasound, ballooned in size by 3 weeks beyond what it should be by a few days later, and then have shrunk back to normal size a few days later than that.

I think I cried throughout almost the entire rest of the test, with the tech at one point telling me, 'So long as those are happy tears, then I'm okay with it" And happy tears were they ever.  I had a second chance.  My baby, this perfect little miracle inside of me, was right there, with their little heart beating away at 110 beats per minute.  All those thoughts about those teeny hands, the sweet kisses, the fluttery eyelashes, even the tears in which your baby only wants you, all those thoughts came flooding back in and I couldn't quite hold it back.  I had a second chance with this child.

The tech also did notice, and mention, a large dark spot in the gestational sac close to the baby with the heartbeat, but separate from.  She reported that part of the ultrasound, she would be unable to comment on, because it is a diagnostic finding, and that would have to go through the radiologist first prior to giving me that information.

I left the office that day feeling relieved, hopeful, and happy.  I immediately called DH to tell him, and then after I got off the phone with him, called the Ob as he requested.  He sounded shocked, but said he would like to see me back on the following Tuesday for another ultrasound to check everything again, and to call him with any concerns over the weekend.  He also took a guess and said that sometimes he has seen dark spots in pregnancies where there is a twin that reabsorbs if the twin does not make it, but that he would need to see and possibly repeat the ultrasound to be more sure of that diagnosis.  We'll delve into this topic and what that spot really was/is probably in my next post, there's too much information to share here.

I am so, so, so, so, so very lucky.  I don't know of any women who have had a threatened miscarriage to the point where they were told to go home and wait to pass the baby, who have come back to the next appointment to spontaneously then have a baby with a heartbeat.  I realize just how lucky I am.

(I had to strike out this previous statement because in between the time I started and finished this post, several people have contacted me to let me know they have been through something similar, and offer support.  I am sadly surprised on how much more common this is than I thought it would be.  Apparently, this is much more common than I thought.  There are many questions that come to mind in regards to women being told they will no longer have their baby, but one of them blazes in the forefront.  Who gives any man (or woman) the right to think he is God?  I cannot predict the future.  You cannot predict the future.  While we can give a guess that things are not looking well, to offer a prediction in a confident tone regarding a life is just not possible.  Even with working with the sick elderly I know this.  You can guess that someone does not have very much time, but in many of those cases, they surprise you.  They are almost always stronger than we give them credit for.  Again, I turn in this situation to my midwife friend's words, to pray to my baby to stay, but pray for it to be quick if not.  She did not presume anything.  She did not suspect anything.  She prayed for me and for my body to do what it was going to do, whatever that may be.  Why are more practitioners more respectful of life like she is?  I can't even imagine what I would have gone through if this would have continued the way it was starting, if I had taken those pills, or decided on a D&C procedure because I wasn't mentally strong enough to handle the pain or the agony of waiting any more.  I'll say it again, life and death, they can never be predicted, just like you cannot predict the future.)

I am dealing with the fear, the pain, the grief, the sadness, the anger that also accompanied the loss I was expecting to have, but I am trying very hard to focus on the positives.  I am trying not to focus on the fact that I was incorrectly told I was going to lose my baby, and spent several days in hell because of it.  I'm trying to focus on the fact that babies are never guaranteed until they are in your arms, and that I have a second chance with this child, and that I need to take it and be as positive as I can to keep this baby in as safe of an environment as I can produce for it. Just because I saw a heartbeat, still does not mean this is a take home baby.  Again, they are never guaranteed.  But, in the meantime, all I can do is be my absolute best to give my child the best I can.  To be calm, to be still, to be appreciative, to be aware, to be their shelter and their solace.  So, as of today, I am pregnant, I am happy, I am thankful, and I am loving this new child.

There is one additional post to this story, and I'll get on about writing it soon, but the little man is back and forth up tonight, needing some extra kisses and snuggles, so I'll share my next appointment and the other bit of information soon.



Part Four- Grieving.

The sorrow, the pain that I was carrying around, it was overwhelming.

At that point, that night after the appointment, I was pretty much lost.  I didn't know what to do with myself or how to think, feel, or be.  When little man went to bed that night, DH tried to put on some tv shows to distract me (and himself) from thinking about just sitting there, waiting for this to start, waiting for my body to begin to pass this child.  The show he put on was Glee.  We are behind on our shows always because we watch on Hulu, as we don't have cable, so the episode that we watched was the Whitney Houston episode.  I did pretty well sitting through that, trying to occupy my mind while not really succeeding, until the end of the show.  We listen to the show at a lower volume and always have the closed caption subtitles on so that it doesn't wake up little man, so when one of the final songs came on, the lyrics were right there in front of my face.

"If I should die this very day
Don't cry, 'cause on Earth we weren't meant to stay
And no matter what the people say
I'll be waiting for you after the judgment day."

The song ended with a resounding silence in our living room as both H & I sat there with tears showering down both of our faces, sobbing quietly.  In that moment, I thought about everything.  I questioned myself, my faith, my beliefs, everything.  I haven't believed in a god or religion in a long, long time after being raised with a religious faith, but sitting there on the couch that night, I found myself hating my prior resistance to a god and hating myself for being so resistant, because there could not be a world in which I would never see this child again.  That just could not be the case.

I also sat there and thought about my son.  I thought about every single little moment of joy he has brought me in the short time he has been with us.  I thought about what my life would have been like if he never came into my arms.  I would be missing so, so very much.  My happiness now is astronomically larger than it was before I gave birth to him, and I didn't even know it then.  Without him in my life, I would be missing so much.  I thought about just how much I love my son, and just how much I will miss of this baby, this child, that I would never, never know about.  I thought about all the sleepy smiles, the giggles, the personality, the gentle softness of their skin, the sweet sleepy breaths, the touch of their hand reaching out for reassurance from mine.  I would never know this child.

I feel like, for me, it almost makes it worse to know how much my life was enriched by having my son.  That maybe, if I didn't have him, I wouldn't understand as much, and while I would still have to heal from this gaping wound, I wouldn't understand as deeply it's opening.  

For the next few days, this was my life.  I cried, I prayed, I talked to the baby, I laid in bed, unable to function, unable to sleep, unable to do anything even remotely productive or purposeful.  

And I waited.  


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Parts Two & Three

* I am trying to continue to be somewhat less verbose in these posts, but I'm also trying to get out the things that I need to say.  So far, I think there will probably be at least 4-5 parts of this story, maybe more at this point, based on how things continue.  If you haven't read part one yet, find it here.

Part Two- The Early Bleeding
Disclaimer: this might get graphic.

On Thursday, April 26th, just three short days after I had the positive blood test at my PCP's office, I began to have some problems.  It had been a long, stressful week, as DH was out of town.  You all saw my post about that here.  I worked my normal weekday shifts, and on Thursday night, before I went to bed, I realized that I was bleeding.  Not like the little spotting they talk about, but also not like the bleeding accompanied with cramping and clots you read about when you hear about miscarriage.  I, like any normal woman, being alone at home with my child, freaked out and immediately called my husband about 10 times until I woke him up at his hotel room.  I also called my doula from little man's birth who has now become a midwife (from now on, to save space and lengthy explanations, we're just going to call her my midwife friend- because she certainly is both, and then some) for some advice.  She gave me comfort with her words, offered to come over and sit with me if I needed it, and suggested that I have it checked out the next day, offering to order some tests for me if needed.

I went to work the next day, because I work at a hospital (the same hospital where my Ob from little man's birth sees patients), but my employer was thankfully very forgiving with my tearful anxiety.  While I was at work, I was able to have my blood re-run to compare to Monday's Hcg numbers, and also have an ultrasound done per my Ob from little man's birth.  I did call the Ob and had him order the tests, so that I could have them done and at the same time get as much work done as possible.  (In any normal circumstance, I would have just called off, but let's just say that option isn't on the table right now).

On Monday, when they had taken my blood, they had completed a qualitative pregnancy test- basically meaning that they tested for hcg present- a yes or no.  Since they still had that sample at the lab, the Ob's office asked them to re-run that sample as a quantitative test, which would tell us how much hcg my body had on Monday, and then we could compare that to how much hcg my body tested for on Friday.  What they would be looking for is a rise in the number.  I had my blood drawn on Friday morning.

They also completed an ultrasound, with the tech measuring the gestational sac at 5 weeks and 2 days, which was actually 2 days ahead of where I thought I was.  She saw a yolk sac (which provides early nourishment to the baby), but did not yet see a fetal pole (the start of the baby) or a heartbeat.  The tech said it was a good sign to see the yolk sac at this point, but that she couldn't comment further other than at this point things could go either way, and that the blood work would tell us more at this point than the ultrasound would.

My blood work came back later in the afternoon, and showed positive results.  My hcg levels were around 1,500 on Monday, and by Friday, had increased to around 7,000.  Hcg levels are apparently supposed to double every 48 hours initially in a pregnancy.  Based on that assumption, my levels were doing just what they were supposed to, and still going up.

At that point, the Ob scheduled me for a repeat ultrasound on Tuesday, May 1st, just to recheck everything and confirm everything was going well.  He also gave me progesterone supplements to begin to take, from now until the end of the first trimester, just to be sure I wasn't having difficulty because of low progesterone. (It was 19 when he tested it on Friday, but he said he typically likes to see it over 20 at that point.)

And I was back to thinking everything was going well again.  I went home, spent some time with my boys that weekend, and went back to life as normal.  But, as with the first time, that didn't last for long.


Part Three- The Second Ultrasound

As mentioned in my last post, I was scheduled for a repeat ultrasound on Tuesday, May 1st.  This was just to check and make sure everything continued to go well.  It was pouring rain, and I packed little man and I into the car with a few snacks and toys for him, and headed on our way to meet DH for the ultrasound.  This is the first ever ultrasound (non-emergent, as we had some ultrasounds more emergently completed due to the placenta previa last time around that he was able to see) appointment he has ever been able to block out and go with me.  He had a different job last pregnancy, where he worked about an hour and a half away, so even to go to an early morning appointment, or late afternoon appointment, he would be off for a lot of times half or more of the day.  We didn't ever opt to do this because that job also had poor vacation/time off policies, and we needed all of his time off for when little man was actually born.

I was extremely excited at the thought of our little family all going in and seeing the ultrasound together, getting to see the new baby and spending the appointment together.  In retrospect, I'm glad that I was not alone for this appointment, as it didn't turn out quite as I expected.

Little man was sweet as pie in the waiting room, calmly sitting, watching another baby girl around his age in the room, and munching on some puffs.  We were called back to the ultrasound room and while I got undressed, DH wrangled little man by reading him a few books, in between making jokes about the ultrasound machine and the transvaginal wand.

(Do all men do this when with their wives/partners for ultrasounds?  I'm beginning to think so.)

The Ob came in to complete the ultrasound, and we got started.  I noticed a difference almost immediately.  I've had a lot of ultrasounds done, and while I have not much of a clue what I'm looking at, I could tell the reaction was not the same from the doctor.  He was very quiet, and kept moving the wand around as if he were searching and really concentrating on something.  I don't know how to keep my mouth shut, so I'm pretty certain I asked him if everything was looking okay.

He replied that it did not.

The next part of the appointment is largely a blur to me, mainly because I was crying and thinking and reacting and not processing all of what was said to me.  But, the basic gist of the appointment was that the Ob did not think this was going to turn into a healthy pregnancy.  He reported that while he still saw the gestational sac, it was measuring more of the size of a 9 week gestational sac, and he did not see a fetal pole or a heartbeat.  (Just for reference, by my calculations, I was 5 weeks and 4 days along at this point).  I do remember asking him if this pregnancy was going to turn into a baby, and he said that no, he did not believe it would.  He made some question of a possible molar pregnancy, but didn't say much further at that point other than to say that he thought it was too early for a d&c procedure (where they go in and remove the beginnings of the baby), and that he thought I should just go home and wait to miscarry at this point.

That appointment could very well be one of the worst days/times/moments of my life, and I think it might just be number one.  As we were leaving the office, he gave me several pills to take if the bleeding became too severe, like scary bleeding, to cause the uterus to contract, as well as a pamphlet on miscarriage and molar pregnancy.  As we were leaving, the office staffer who usually checks women out said, "I'm sorry for your loss."

As we walked outside, I asked DH to put little man in his car and to drive him home separately from me.  DH wanted to drive me home, but it was pouring rain at the time and we were standing out in it trying to discuss this and when I refused, that I wanted to drive myself, he finally gave in and got in the car with little man, although he did tail me like the secret service on the way home.

By the time I got in my car, I was soaked.  From the rain, from my tears.  I sat in the car for a few moments just trying to think and get my head on straight before I tried to operate a vehicle.  I tried to clear my eyes enough so that I would have better visibility in the storm, but eventually I just gave up and started driving.  I know this may not have been the safest choice, but I just needed to be alone for a few moments.

On the way home, I called a few people.  My parents were first.  They know about every little hiccup in my life, and they have known about the pregnancy all along, although as with little man's pregnancy, I had sworn them to secrecy for the first trimester.  I actually feel somewhat guilty about calling them in the car on the way home now, because I was in no shape to be explaining anything to anyone, and could barely speak to relay the information to them.  I also know that they are the type to become extremely worried about me when I'm not okay, and I was very much not okay at this point.  They also have had some history of loss, and looking back on the phone call now, I really wish I would have given myself some time to process a little bit and not call them when I was so raw, so broken, as to not open any of their long-ago acquired wounds.  But that is neither here nor there, and that is what I did.

I also called my midwife friend.  She provided everything I did not get at the doctor's office.  She stayed on the line and listened to me and my tears calmly, but also offered advice.  She spoke of similar experiences and gave me comfort again in her words.  She also gave me some of the toughest to complete but best advice I had heard throughout this whole ordeal.  She told me to talk to my baby.  She told me to speak to the baby and encourage it to stay if it could, but that I should also ask the baby that if it couldn't stay with me, that it needed to help me by passing quickly so that I may also be okay.

At some point in the day, I also called my boss, who was extremely helpful.  I had been planning to take a trip out to New Jersey to become trained in videostroboscopy for my job at the end of the week (we were actually supposed to leave the next day).  He was completely understanding and called the course to cancel and get me out of attending, as I did not think it was in my comfort level to miscarry this baby in a car or halfway across the country during a course or at a hotel.

We got home, finished giving little man dinner, washed him up, and put him to bed, and then I just collapsed on the couch in a state of utter sadness, fear, anger, and depression.  That was pretty much the worst day of my entire life.  


I guess I'll start here.

This is going to be a really long one, so hopefully you're sitting down and have your cup of coffee already.  I am probably going to divide this into several posts based on the fact that 1) I have an active toddler running around 2) I tend to be long-winded in nature anyway and 3) This is an extremely emotional post and I really want to fully give it the space it deserves.

I know people also may question why I choose to share this information, because it really is, SO early, even yet, to be talking about some of these situations, but right now, I am really trying to heal, and I know that for me, being honest and open with myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my hopes, my sadness, my fears, that this is part of the road to recovery for me.

Here we go,
Part 1.

DH and I have been very lucky in our lives.  We've been blessed with little man, who is a beautiful, amazing, perfect little boy who we just absolutely adore.  To us, there is nothing better in the world.  DH has always had the mindset of, 'Well, let's have one, and if that goes okay, we can try for another baby.'  I used to be all, 'Oh heck no, I'm not the type of person to have kids,' which in a few short years of growing up turned into, 'If I am lucky enough to have children, I'll take as many as I can get.  The love can only multiply.'

Initially, in even thinking about having a second child, the question of my nursing relationship with little man was our first and main barrier.  I am one of the few ladies that did not have a return of my cycles at all while nursing little man.  Most women would think about not having a cycle for years (my last period was actually in April of 2010, to be precise) and do a happy dance of joy.  I did too, in the beginning, until I realized that no cycle meant no more babies.  I referenced in an earlier post about nursing little man, where I talked about dropping down to only one time per day.  This was, mainly, to see if I could get my cycles to start again.

We dropped down to one time per day, which actually was really hard for me.  I know that this is a whole other topic, but I felt like I was putting my needs for another child over my first child's needs.  It was really hard for both of us, but in the long run, it worked out and I was able to get my cycles started again and pick back up nursing like we were before once I did.  Thankfully, with charting my temperatures again, dropping to one time only of nursing each day, taking herbal medicines that are supposed to help regulate fertility in women (not sure how much exactly this one helped, but I did it, so I'll add it), and taking ovulation prediction tests twice per day, we were able to catch the first post-partum ovulation.  My heart was overflowing with excitement and happiness for this baby when I had a positive pregnancy test on April 15th.  We were SO elated for this pregnancy and new baby to come.  Also, yippee!  No periods for this mama for a looooong time!


After finally convincing myself that I was actually, indeed pregnant, after peeing on about 8,348 sticks (okay maybe more like 25, but I used mostly these- they're cheap!), I made an appointment with my primary care physician (we'll just refer to him as PCP to make it easier).  I saw my PCP on Monday, April 23rd to complete a blood test to confirm the pregnancy and also to check in with him on a few other health concerns I had at the time.  The blood test was run and came back as positive as well.

This pregnancy, I had so many thoughts running through my head already.  Having little man is the best decision I have ever made in my life.  He is everything to me, and I am vastly different from who I was before I had him.  With his pregnancy, I enjoyed every single little moment of it.  Even the bad parts (I had a diagnosis of partial placenta previa and had bleeding throughout the late first trimester, which eventually resolved itself, but was scary during that time), I still tried to enjoy every moment of this being that I was creating.  I took pride in my role as his mother and really changed my habits to be the most healthy for him.  I watched the amount of chemicals I was putting on my body, went to prenatal yoga classes, decreased my stress level by leaps and bounds, etc.  This pregnancy, as with my last, I want this baby to stay inside and to stay growing as long as they need to, but it is different.  I know what that end result feeling is when they put that baby on your chest.  I know what it is like to hold this beautiful creature in your arms and just stare at them for hours.  I am so excited for that part that I feel like I am going to be much more impatient this time around.

I had also several thoughts about my first child, and how he would react, what we are currently doing for him and wondering if he will be beyond a few of those things when the new baby comes, like the fact that he still really loves to be spoon fed, or that he still just wants to be held some nights before he goes to sleep.  I worried, and worry, as I think every mother does, of how I can still give my everything to him, while giving my everything to our second child as well.  It will probably be an eye opener and a learning process for both of us.  Little man is a pretty easy baby, I will admit that freely.  He has been wonderful to parent.  He is  generally fairly easy going.  He sleeps REALLY well.  He is content to be worn or even just to sit in my lap and be held in many situations where I don't want him running around in public.  He freely hands out affection to me and DH, and the other people he loves.  There are certainly some things that he doesn't like, and he has a strong will and tells us when he doesn't like something, but I'm glad for that.  He knows what he wants, and isn't afraid to show that.  Pretty much like me.  :)  I think that having one child was the biggest adjustment for me.  A lot of people say that going from one to two is worse than going from zero children to one, but I might disagree.  I obviously am not there yet, but if I could guess, I would think for me that it might be a somewhat easier transition.  I am already 100% used to being selfless, where I really wasn't before and had to completely adjust when little man was born.  My needs come last right now, which is fine, but that is just how it is.  I make sure that my child and my husband are completely taken care of at all times, and if there is time left over, that is what I get.  With adding another baby to the mix, my guess is the 'me' time will decrease even further, as the 'taking care of someone else' time will increase even further, and I am okay with that.  I have babies to love them, to provide for them, to mold my life around them.  When they are bigger and I no longer have little bodies or little hands to hold, I can get back to me.  For now, it is about them.

I spent several days just thinking, about all those things that run through a mother-of-one's head.  Well, all of the good stuff at least.  I knew it would be a challenge, but I was up to it.

However, in the next few weeks, I'd certainly have my patience, my sanity, my strength, and just about every other aspect of my life challenged.  This was just the beginning.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grey Street

I have had a terrible day.  Like, ranks up there with the worst days of my life kind of day.  I'm not ready to quite delve into it fully yet, but when I'm ready, I'll share.  For, now, I'll leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, that is a strikingly accurate description of how I'm feeling tonight.

there's an emptiness inside her
and she'd do anything to fill it in
and though it's red blood bleeding from her now
it's more like cold blue ice in her heart
she feels like kicking out all the windows
and setting fire to this life 
she could change everything about her
using colors bold and bright
but all the colors mix together
to grey
and it breaks her heart
to grey, yeah.

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