Monday, June 19, 2017

22 Weeks


So, this week and weekend was most definitely better than the previous. Our counselor was so right about switching to Friday appointments. We had a really good appointment Friday and got a few good pictures of baby girl. I also asked if there were ANY indications that I should be worried or concerned or that it looked like I could have pre-term labor and he said no. This was reassuring to hear.

Of course I felt confident for about 24 hours and went back to feeling anxious again. From the beginning I have been counting to 24 weeks. That's the current state of viability where it's said if a baby is born that early he/she has a 50/50 chance of survival (those who live often have long term challenges, but survival is very good!). I've said if I got to that point I would be able to start believing we could actually bring home a baby. But, as I approach that gestation I know it will probably take until 28 weeks until I actually feel significantly more optimistic and less anxious. 



Of course I wish I could be excited and truly believe we will be bringing home a baby, but I am SO not there yet. I had a friend ask a few weeks back how I was managing to balance preparation with my anxiety and I said that there is absolutely no preparation going on, and there wouldn't be until July. Now, I'm thinking we will wait until at least August to prepare anything. Some would say that 2 months isn't enough to prepare for a baby, but we have brought home babies twice with less than 48 hours of preparation, so 2 months would feel like an eternity. :)

Anyway, I would say that the nerves and the milestone weeks are the big things where my focus lies at this point. Even though every doctor visit and ultrasound has been encouraging, I still start counting down to the next one pretty quickly. Even if I was told there was a 99% chance this baby would come home healthy, it would still be impossible for me to believe that until we get to several more weeks in the future. (And no one has said that. I think it's actually like 95%. Which was super reassuring to me last pregnancy, but obviously we fell in the 5%, so how could I not be worried the same would happen again?)


In good news I'm told she's about the size of an ear of corn (woa!) and weighs about a pound and is about a foot tall. She's definitely bigger than Miriam ever was now. I feel sad to compare them to ea but once you've seen and held a baby born too early it's impossible to not think about that size of baby being inside you on the milestone dates. Pregnancy apps say that within about 4 weeks she should double in weight and that feels like that will be a good milestone too. 


One super sweet thing. Thursday afternoon I had a voicemail from the cell phone of our fertility doctor. He was calling because he just wanted to check in and see how I was doing. That man is seriously the sweetest. I swear, if we were having a boy that kid would be named after this doctor! I called him back Friday after our good appointment and he was so happy to hear all was going well and he asked me to keep them posted, especially around milestone weeks because he and others there at the clinic think about us often and are really pulling and hoping for us to get this baby girl home! He assured me (like everyone else) that it will be normal to continue to have anxiety and that reaching 24, and especially 28 weeks will be huge accomplishments. He said if I can get to 32 weeks I will be set. Of course we want this baby girl to "cook" the whole time to be as healthy as possible, but he said that 32 is such a great gestation and that even though babies born that early may have significant NICU time, but that they almost all have fantastic long term health. That seems like forever away, but I will most certainly be doing some significant happy dances if we make it that far!

And in great news, Dave got his doctorate degree yesterday! He started working on it before the buddy came home, back in January 2012, and he is officially DONE with school! He has worked SO hard over the years and it's such a great accomplishment! It's also the perfect degree for him and what he feels called to do- it's a Doctorate of Worship Studies. Go Dave!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

21 weeks





 
Oh man. This week has been a doozy, and not in the best way. 

Miriam was stillborn at 21w1d, so I was dreading Saturday, the day I would be the same gestation. I was so ready to get past it and was ready to celebrate at 21w2d so that I could be the most pregnant I had ever been. But, Friday night, I had enough extra discharge (TMI I know, but there's no better way to explain the situation) that I was worried. It definitely didn't feel like my water BROKE like last time, but it was different enough that I was worried I was leaking or something.

Of course the worst time to be worried is Friday night since the doctor's office is closed until Monday. Friday-Monday doesn't sound like a long time to be worried until you are right in the thick of it. I called the on-call doctor line at my OB's office Friday night (she's in a practice with 5 other OBs) and the on-call doctor was the same one that insensitively told me I was going to have a miscarriage back in February. So, I was obviously disappointed she was the doctor on call. But, I explained the situation and although she tried to tell me not to be worried, she also spoke in a way that was (again) really insensitive, and also essentially said she didn't want to come in and check me out. It was really dismissive.

I tried not to worry, but how do you make your brain stop worrying when PTSD kicks in? I spent most of the weekend on modified bedrest in case I WAS leaking amniotic fluid, and every trip to the bathroom, sneeze or bathroom urge was compared to those last days of pregnancy with Miriam between water breaking and losing her. It was a ROUGH weekend. I counted down hours until Monday and I'm not exaggerating. I called in a replacement for my church job and stayed home from church on Sunday. I wish that I could have 100% believed the doctor on call when she said she didn't think I should be worried, but I was a wreck. When you've had a loss and something reminds you of the trauma of last time, it's almost impossible to get out of that worried cycle without confirmation that all is ok.

Side note: Dave is amazing and wonderful to me. He is quite literally the best husband. He was so kind and gentle all weekend to me and took care of the kids all weekend. He didn't tell me I was crazy or exaggerating and although he tried to calm me down he completely understood why I was so anxious. And he completely supported me when we had a baby-sitter come Monday morning at 7:45am to watch the kids so we could be at my MFM's office (high risk OB) the moment they opened at 8 (even though I didn't have an appointment until 3).

Every time we leave the parking lot at the doctor's office we say how grateful we are for such a good, compassionate, and knowledgeable doctor less than 10 minutes from our house. Despite not being on the calendar for 7 more hours (although I did cry from the moment I stepped into the office) he saw me right away and had the ultrasound done showing every thing was normal and baby girl had a full fluid sac. Even after having good news I continued to cry as emotions were very high after the weekend for goodness sake! He sat with me and answered all kinds of questions and concerns for at least 20 minutes and never ONCE made me feel like a crazy lady. Actually, he reassured me over and over how normal it is to have high anxiety in a pregnancy after a traumatic loss. He is a good man and I'm so grateful he's my MFM!

But, unfortunately, my anxiety has stayed high this week. My counselor has showed me this chart (or a similar one) a few times and mentioned how it would be ideal to live in the 1-2 range. But, that of course I will be living in the 3-5 range for a lot of this pregnancy and that that that's ok. Of course we talk about strategies for getting closer to the 2, but to be honest, if I'm at a 3 level that would be success. 



But, I was definitely at a 6 all weekend. After being at a 6 all weekend, it's hard to get all the way back down to a 3. Especially if you're already a naturally anxious person. So, I've still been functioning at a 5, even after the good visit on Monday. I would say there are time I'm distracted enough to be at a 4 (hooray!), but I don't know if I've gotten back down to just a 3, and certainly not to a 2. But, I'm working on it.

Have I also mentioned how much I love our counselor? She's is a total gift. She is an infertility survivor and seriously one of the kindest and wisest people I have ever met. Today she gave me more practical tips for helping to manage the anxiety. Like calling my OB's nurse and explaining how I felt Friday night talking to the on-call doctor to discuss possible ways to be sure I feel like I can come in whenever I need. And seeing if I can change my MFM appointment to Fridays instead of Mondays so that I can go into weekends with a (hopefully) good report. Isn't she so smart? Both calls have been made and so I get to go back to the doctor in 2 days! Never in my life have I counted down with such intensity to doctor appointments! ha!

Anyway, the weekend was tough. And I'm super disappointed that my anxiety didn't go away once I hit 21w2d like I had hoped. Sigh. That was an unrealistic expectation. But, it's still a good accomplishment that I have made it this far and so has baby girl! 


And I will end the post on a positive note... despite the weekend being mostly stress, there was a very high moment. Saturday night, so the exact gestation I was when Miriam passed, we felt baby girl kick! Eek! I felt it AND saw it through my belly! I never once felt Miriam move so this was so, so exciting. Dave was sitting right beside me and got to see and feel it too. It's actually quite an odd feeling. Since I've spent most of the pregnancy not wanting to talk about pregnancy or this baby as a real person it's kind of scary and weird to think about there being a little 1lb (ultrasound Monday estimated her weight to be 15oz, about 3-4 days ahead of schedule... go girl!) being inside of me pushing against my insides. It's quite miraculous, and honestly, quite unbelievable. I hope she gives me some good clear kicks more regularly to give some reassurance that she is doing well in there.

So, there you have it. I would LOVE for next week's update to be more optimistic. For now I'm still counting down days and sometimes hours to be closer and closer to when I will hopefully start to feel more optimism than anxiety. Today there's still more anxiety than optimism, and that's ok. But I would sure love for that balance to switch.

Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers! And can you do me a favor and leave a comment if you read this? I would love to know who is reading and it really is like a little virtual hug of support knowing people are caring and checking in on us. <3

Monday, June 5, 2017

20 weeks



Today is 20w3d. I actually took this picture on Friday when I turned 20w. It felt significant since last pregnancy my last weekly "bump shot" was 19 weeks. Once my water broke and I was on bedrest I didn't attempt weekly photos since my belly totally deflated after my water broke and I was also so depressed and anxious. So having a 20 week shot seemed like a big deal. I also wanted to take it early in case something bad happened before Sunday (I usually take the photos on Sunday since it's the only day I'm guaranteed to wear something nice and do my make up). 

Today's appointment with the MFM went really well again. Whew! My cervix is doing great and baby girl was active enough that we saw her curl up to do a flip. My pregnancy apps say she is about 10in long and weighs about 10oz. It's hard to read those stats since they're so close to what Miriam measured when she was born. 

Today as I was putting the buddy down for his nap he asked me if there was still a baby in my belly. I said yes and told him I was going for a check up after his nap to check on the baby. He very excitedly asked if he could come along and I said not this time. But hopefully we will make it far enough that I will feel confident to bring him to one. I'm sure he would love it. 

I also got my 5th progesterone booty injection. I am feeling so so grateful that I didn't have a reaction to them as I was so worried that I would! I always go to the OBs office to have it done (MFM is on the 4th floor and OB is on the 2nd of the same medical building) and today we had Dave watch how she drew up and administered the shot to consider having him do it sometime. However, after watching the process I think he's going to recommend I just keep having a nurse do it. :) After all the injections he's had to give me through the IVF process (seriously there have been over 100) you'd think he would be used to it, but those intramuscular needles are BIG and he's not wild about it. Hehe

Last week was very tough emotionally. The days before and right after the my previous PPROM gestation were so anxiety filled. I was literally shocked when my water didn't break on those days. It's amazing experience is such a strong teacher. Most people reading this see pregnancy as durable and your personal experience as well as those around you is that once you get pregnant, and especially once you're out of the first trimester, you will have a baby. That is 0% my experience. Experience has taught me that pregnancy leads to death and trauma. So I'm having to re-learn that that isn't the truth about pregnancy. Its serious work to re-train your brain to go in a different neural pathway. You know what helps? Experience that proves it otherwise. So even though I'm not convinced that this pregnancy will bring home a baby, I AM now convinced that I can make it to 20 weeks without loss. But it took actually living it to believe it. The next brain retraining will be to reach and pass 21 weeks. 

I will say I think the #1 thing that helped me get through last week was distraction. I would love to give you some deep or spiritual answer and say it was prayer and/or meditation, but it was definitely distraction. When I got super anxious (and dave was around to watch the kids) I would put "Friends" on my cell phone to stream and would clean out a cabinet or closet. It was the only way to distract myself enough to cope. Our therapist said this was very normal as it allowed me a chance to be in control of something. And to be honest I'm in control of very little right now. I also started practicing piano out of my childhood practice books, which has been a challenge, and also lots of fun. 😜 It has literally been 20 years since I played so I'm impressed with my "level 2" piano playing skills. 


I am SO READY FOR IT TO BE JULY! July means viability. If I make it to July it means if something goes wrong baby girl still has a chance to survive outside the womb. It's about a 50/50 chance, and most babies born that early do have significant health concerns, but I'm hoping that reaching that point allows me to breathe a little deeper. And I'm really really hoping we make it to August, at 28 weeks. And really really really hoping we make it to September! I'm hoping if I arrive at my birthday still pregnant (I'll be 34 weeks) I'll believe that there will be a baby to take home. 

Now if there's so much worry and doubt when is a good time to upgrade to a minivan? (Only very slightly rhetorical). 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

19 weeks 😳



Today I am 19w4d. That means tomorrow I will be at the gestation I was when my water broke with Miriam. Thank goodness I have a counseling session booked for tomorrow already! There will be plenty to talk about.

To be honest I've been pretty proud of myself for how well I've been doing emotionally the past few weeks as we got closer to this date. Last week at the anatomy scan I was surprised how many times it felt like I would burst into tears. Not necessarily happy or even sad tears, just really overwhelmed tears. I can remember so vividly all the ultrasounds that were so terrible last time with Miriam, and since the anatomy scan is the longest ultrasound I had so far all of those memories came flooding back and it was hard to focus on the happiness of a good and healthy ultrasound.

Yesterday was a very anxiety filled day. Every twinge or pinch I felt and trip to the bathroom were PTSD reminiscent of last time with Miriam and convinced me it was the beginning of the end again. It took me a bit by surprise, but I've found that when anxiety really hits me I can live and breathe through it, but I don't get a big sigh of relief until a good doctor visit. So, I struggled through yesterday (you know I'm not doing well when I don't even care if the house is a total mess) and thank goodness had an appointment this morning.

I specifically asked about my amniotic fluid level and that looked great. Whew. Baby girl also looked good and had her little feet up by her head this time. And my cervix was also long and closed and measured at 4.8cm! The longest yet! Yay! So, we took some deep breaths and were grateful for such a good appointment.

However, there is still a lot of anxiety. We've talked in counseling that it's ok for me to feel anxious and that it would be unusual if I didn't feel this way. That's what a previous traumatic event does to you.  You may think I'm exaggerating, but if I shared with you the details of how everything happened you would agree there was trauma involved. Dave and I both have flashbacks to August and the upsetting and heartbreaking things that happened. These memories pop into our heads at inconvenient times and are hard to get out of your head. Thank goodness for good counseling because I have strategies in place to help put those out of my mind as much as possible while in this already anxiety producing stage. But, it still happens and still contributes to mental and emotional unrest. 


So, if you think of us in the coming weeks, please say a prayer for us. Please pray that baby girl continues to grow healthily and that my body will continue to be a healthy place. My biggest fear is my body failing this baby too. And please pray for emotional and mental health in the coming days and weeks. There are going to be days where I feel somewhat incapacitated by fear, which is to be expected. But, I'm hoping and praying (and begging) we get to viability the last day of June and that this baby girl will still be going strong! It seems like I may never get there, but I'm trying so hard to take it one day at a time.  

To be honest, when I saw this profile today all I could think was how similar it looks to Miriam's face profile.
A open mouthed grin and a foot by her head. A promising future in dance or gymnastics, right?






Thursday, May 25, 2017

18 weeks

Tomorrow I will be 19 weeks, so I'm a little late to this weekly update, but so be it.




I'm seriously in the countdown now. Today I'm exactly 6 days from the gestation when my water broke last time so anxiety is high. I know that will continue as I (hopefully without incident please God!) live out the days between my PPROM and Miriam's birth/death gestation at 21w1.

Until then I'm attempting to be busy and counting down all the days to every appointment. I feel like when I've seen "pregnancy update" blogs before they do cutesy things like what the mom is craving or how her clothes fit, etc., but I just can't make myself go there yet. Hopefully once I get to 24 weeks I'll feel more "cutesy" about this pregnancy. And hopefully I GET to 24 weeks! It's just 5 weeks from tomorrow but seems like an eternity!

Good news from this week! We did the anatomy scan on Monday at 18w3d and baby girl looks great! All the measurements looked good, and so did my amniotic fluid level and cervix. Every time we leave our weekly appointments Dave and I just talk about how grateful we are for our doctors and how close they are to us (10 minutes in traffic). And I'm TOUGH on my doctors. :)

Here are the photos of our little girl from the anatomy scan! Isn't she just so cute? ;-) And if you're curious about names, many have been discussed and nothing has been decided. With all 3 other kids we were in a total time crunch and we're happy with all the names we chose, so I have a feeling we won't settle on anything until we absolutely have to. Please God let that be at least 4 months from now! 

Cute, little profile

Open mouthed smile!

Left foot











Thursday, May 18, 2017

What causes PPROM? And what is a TAC?

I mentioned that I got a TAC a few weeks ago, so here is the post where I explain it.

There are a few theories as to why I lost Miriam, and we decided to do everything possible to prevent either one of these possible things from happening again.

1. Underlying infection
My MFM actually thinks this is the reason that I had PPROM (water breaking way too early) last time. There was never any infection found in my bloodwork, Miriam's placenta, or anything else, but this is what he thinks. This is not a crazy thought though as it's a common theory for undiagnosed PPROM. This is the scariest option to me since there's not much doctors can do to prevent this, since they never identified an infection last time, even after my water broke. The only thing I can really do is pay attention to any signs in my body. BUT, we also have a "natural guy" that does electro-dermal screening and detects infections WAY better than doctors can. It's a little on the "woo woo" side, but hey, we are up for trying anything to detect infections. I'm currently seeing him once a week to be on the lookout for any infection, and so far so good. Whew!

2. Pre-Term Labor
This is not highly suggested by most doctors because it's not usually considered 'pre-term labor' unless it happens after 24 weeks, and my water broke at 19w5d. BUT, we are still doing the only thing they know to do by giving me weekly progesterone injections. If I started having contractions or cramping, there are other medications I could be given to prevent labor. But, I seriously hope and pray that doesn't happen this time, at least not until at least 24 weeks! (Doctors are more likely to treat pre-term labor then, as opposed to earlier when baby wouldn't survive outside the womb anyway). 


3. Cervical Polyp Removal
At 18 weeks last time (which I'm very close to now... yikes) I started having spotting, which obviously scared me. After a healthy ultrasound, a cervical polyp was found by my midwife, and she said it was nothing to be concerned about, but that I would continue to have heavy spotting unless it was removed. So, she referred me to an OB who removed it several days later. 6 days after removal, my water broke. All the doctors say this was not related at all, but it's hard to not wonder. We also found a couple of studies online that showed that removing cervical polyps makes you more likely to lose a pregnancy, but apparently they are not widely accepted.

To help prevent any polyps in this pregnancy I had a hysteroscopy done by my RE in November. This is where they send a tiny camera up through the vagina, cervix and uterus to make sure everything looks good. When this was done they found a couple of budding polyps and removed them. So, hopefully none pop up in this pregnancy! But, of course if one does there is zero chance we will remove it. So, please pray I don't get any spotting or a polyp as this would freak me 100% the heck out. 


3. Incompetent Cervix
If you have undiagnosed incompetent cervix you will just keep losing babies. This is the most common reason for multiple PPROM losses. It's also believed by some doctors to be the primary reason for 2nd trimester losses. The usual treatment for this is a cerclage. Typical cerclage placement happens after first trimester (so they know you won't have a miscarriage due to genetic issues), and they stitch your cervix closed (or as close to it as they can) through the vagina. These cerclages have a 70% success rate for healthy babies coming home (although some are still born prematurely).

I heard about the abdominal cerclage through online support groups for women who experienced PPROM. It was also recommended to me by my RE and he suggested I not transfer any more embryos until I had the TAC (trans-abdominal cerclage). This cerclage is placed at the very top of the cervix, and provides a 95% success rate instead of 70%. However, because it's so high it has to be placed surgically. Instead of a stitch, it's a permanent band up there. Usually before recommending a TAC doctors want you to have TWO second trimester losses and/or a failed vaginal cerclage. However, there was zero chance we were going to just "see what happens" to see if I had another second trimester loss!  Pregnancies with vaginal cerclages also often involve bedrest, and we really wanted to avoid that. You can see in the picture below how much higher TACs are than other cerclages. 




So, in December, we drove to Indianapolis to get a TAC laparoscopically placed by one of the top 2 successful TAC surgeons in the country. It was my first ever surgery (besides my wisdom teeth taken out and that hardly counts). The surgery and recovery weren't too bad and I just have 4 tiny scars on my belly. Because there's a pretty permanent band at the top of my cervix I will have to have a c-section. Pretty ironic for the lady that chose to get her pre-natal care at a birthing center last pregnancy, right? However, after losing Miriam my "ideals" for birth went out the window and my priority now is just living child. One would think those are low expectations, but for me they seem rather high.

Anyway, so that's what a TAC is and why I got it. There's certainly a chance that I don't even have an incompetent cervix and didn't "need" it placed. But, which is worse? Having it and not needing it? OR needing it and not having it and losing another baby? I would certainly take the former!

As you can see we are being very proactive about preventing PPROM this time around, but of course, I'm still a nervous wreck knowing that any day anything can go wrong. Last pregnancy I truly believed pregnancy was durable, but this time my head couldn't be further from that truth. Please continue to pray for us and this little baby girl. We would love for her to be a full term baby!

Monday, May 15, 2017

17 weeks



Today is a good day. I will admit that my weekends are pretty anxiety filled since they are the last 2 days before my weekly doctor visits. And my appointments aren't until 3:15 Monday afternoons, so I'm READY when the ultrasound tech calls my name. 

I have 4-5 more weekly checks before I move bi-weekly checks. My MFM wants me to come weekly at least through my loss date (21w1d) mostly for my own anxiety. At these appointments after the tech calls me back she always does a general belly ultrasound to be sure baby overall looks good, measures the heartbeat, and checks the fluid level. Today was the first day I was actually worried about the amniotic fluid levels and thank goodness they were good! She also confirmed for sure that baby is a girl, so the blood test 6 weeks ago was correct! 

Then I get a transvaginal ultrasound to measure my cervical length (the main purpose of the appointment) and today it looked good at 4.7 cm long. Then, the high risk doctor (MFM) comes in and answers my questions. He is so awesome and gracious with his time with me. He always answers all of my questions thoroughly and kindly. I have probably said this before, but I hate it when doctors talk down to their patients and/or treat me like I'm stupid for having lots of questions. But he never does and he also appreciates my nervous/stupid/self deprecating jokes, so I really like him. 

I then venture 2 floors down where my OB's office is and a nurse gives me my Makena/progesterone injections. Today was my second so here's hoping it goes well again like last week. I also love that these doctors offices are so close together and only 5-10 minutes from my house. Each one of these recent appointments I leave feeling so grateful. I continue to hope and pray that all continues to go well and I will keep having good appointments for 20 more weeks. That sounds do-able, right?

This weekend I realized that I was exactly 4 weeks from the gestation I was last time when we lost Miriam. So I know the next month is going to be especially hard. To be honest most days I can't yet see past that point and things still going well and this baby still growing healthy and strong, but I hope and pray every day that that becomes true. It's hard to not fixate on my anxiety and think about the trauma of what happened in August. I want there to be a new ending so very badly. 

In my head there is endless counting. Today I am 2 weeks and 2 days away from the gestation when my water broke. That's scary to think about. I can't even imagine how my emotions and mental health will play out that week. I know there will be fear in the coming weeks, especially when I hit that 19 week mark. Deep breaths necessary. 

In good news, I ordered some maternity pajamas and they are glorious. The shorts are the most comfortable shorts of my life, and the nightgowns are even more amazing. My sister also loaned me her fancy pregnancy pillow (the snoogle) and it is also awesome. So between the cozy pillow and pjs I really, really look forward to bedtime now. ❤️

Thank you all again for all the prayers and thoughts. I believe they are carrying us through this anxity filled time. The countdown continues. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

16 weeks


Here's a question... when I post weekly updates should they cover the week before? Or should I post them at the end of the week in which I'm pictured? So if I post a "16 week update" should it include what happened before I hit the 16 week mark? Or what happened during week 16?  I've never done this before and this is a legitimate and not a rhetorical question. Haha

Since I'll be 17 weeks tomorrow I guess I'm choosing the latter for now. Adjustments can be made so please advise. 

The hardest part of this pregnancy by far is the anxiety. I know there are uncomfortable and difficult parts to pregnancy, but I don't care much about those. It's the mental and emotional hurdles that are tough. I look forward to every doctor, counseling, and acupuncture appointment as if I'm clinging to them for dear life. I breathe a sigh of relief each time there is good news or I get support. But at home and in between every appointment I wonder when things will go wrong. It's nearly impossible for me to imagine there being a healthy baby at the end of this. I wonder if today is the day we get bad news or that my water will break. I have moments of panic where I wonder if my water is about to break any second and what I would do if I'm in a public place. That may sound silly, but last time my water breaking totally came out of nowhere and was completely unexpected. And without a definite reason for what went wrong last time I'm terrified it can happen again, even if I'm told it's not statistically likely. 

But I will say that my apt Monday was good. We heard the heartbeat again, which is always reassuring. I also got my first progesterone shot. Often times after a loss like ours progesterone shots (usually called p17 or the name brand of Makena) are recommended in subsequent pregnancies to prevent pre-term labor, if in fact that was part of the problem. These needles are huge and go right into your behind. 😳 

Your nurse can give you these injections and that's what we opted to do. I had a small amount of anxiety about this due to my horrible reaction to a different kind of progesterone shot used for fertility treatment (progesterone in oil). Dave gave me these shots, which were also right in the booty, starting right before our embryo transfer back in February, and my body reacted terribly. My butt muscles got so tight that I had to sleep on a heating pad on the couch, and I still could barely sleep at night, and I also could barely walk. So I was very nervous this was going to happen again! Thankfully it did not, so I will be able to keep taking the Makena injections once a week through the rest of the pregnancy. I hope they help! My OB's nurse is so kind to be willing to give these to me once a week. 😀

In possibly exciting news I may have started to feel baby move. I have an anterior placenta, so I'm told I likely won't feel her until 20 weeks or so, but over the weekend I felt what may be early flutters. It was a very new sensation to me and felt like a "flip flop" on one side of my uterus. My OB said it could be baby, but she doesn't want me to get disappointed if I don't feel her again much, if at all for several weeks. So, who knows? 

Otherwise, my body feels healthy and I don't feel sick like I did in the first trimester. I've officially gained 10 lbs so no worries there either. I bet I could slow down a bit. Haha 

Thank you all so much for the thoughts and prayers. I know we will need them especially in the next month as we come up to the gestational age I was when my water broke and we lost Miriam. I'm trying to take it one day at a time, but I know the coming month will he emotionally difficult and I just pray we make it to the other side without anything horrible happening. ❤️

Thursday, May 4, 2017

15 weeks


Please pardon my tired smile here. Posed photos do not come naturally to me. 

No big updates this week, except I had my first cervical length check. I have a TAC that was placed laparoscopically in December (more about that to come since you probably have no idea what that is), and it is helping to keep my cervix nice and long, over 4cm as of Monday. 

My MFM is great and I will be seeing him regularly for my cervical checks, and maybe some other stuff if I make it to the third trimester. He knows I'm a total worrier, but never belittles me or my questions and explains everything as thoroughly as possible to help put my mind at ease. This is not that common in doctors so it's much appreciated by me! 


For the past couple of weeks I have had a lot of twitches, pinching, pulling, and unknown uterus and uterus-adjacent feelings which have had me on edge. He assured me that it sounded within the realm of normal and that with a TAC I would likely feel more of this than in a pregnancy without it, so that made sense and helped me feel less worried for about 24 hours. 😀

Dave and I have been going to weekly counseling and it has been invaluable. Now that I'm well into the second trimester and just 4 weeks from when my water broke with Miriam, we are doing everything possible to support this pregnancy and my mental health. Yesterday in counseling we talked about the fact that managing anxiety is healthy, but that I'm having to come to the place of accepting that I'm going to be anxious. It would maybe even be unhealthy if I wasn't concerned in a subsequent pregnancy after loss. So I'm "ok" with being anxious. But I also know that there's a dangerous level of anxiety and I have to use various coping measures to keep in manageable. I'm sure I'll have plenty to share about anxiety in the weeks to come. 

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Each day that I pass seems like a huge accomplishment and I'm grateful for each day. But each day also feels like an opportunity for something to go disastrously wrong. It's so so hard to imagine things going well when all we know from experience is things turning tragic. Experience is a strong teacher. 

Tomorrow will be 16 weeks! I celebrate each daily and weekly milestone! Please baby keep cooking! 
 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ultrasound and Belly Pics


So, I kind of hate belly bump and ultrasound photos. Or at least they were super hard to see for over 5 years for me. These kind of photos popped up at least on a weekly basis on social media for quite some time and it was always hard to see others' pregnancy announcements. So, I won't be showing any of these photos on Facebook due to their sensitive nature. But, I figure if someone takes the time to actually visit this blog they won't mind (and probably would appreciate) seeing these photos. So, here are the belly bump and ultrasound pictures so far. Due to me taking most of these photos in the evening, and also to the fertility drug hormone bloat, my belly was fairly puffy and much the same size in most of these photos so you can't really see a difference. But, I still plan to print these pictures and put them in a baby book. Hopefully there will be a child born alive that will appreciate seeing these one day!  

First of all I'll start with the day we transferred the embryo. This is me that very day at the fertility clinic hoping for the best! 


One pretty cool thing about IVF is that you get to see a picture of your embryo 5 days after conception. So this little blob is how an embryo looks 5 days after fertilization. Cool, right?! The app text is totally wrong though. It's definitely not the size of a grain of rice. Our doctor (RE) said it would fit on the end of a pen. So, it's teeny tiny. 



This is my refusal to smile big at week 6 since we were nervous as heck. We took it just a few days after hearing that I was going to have a miscarriage (but after we saw the heartbeat), so I was still quite an emotional wreck.


The first time we saw and heard the heartbeat at 6w3d. The baby is the little white worm looking object at the top of the sac. It's hard to believe there's "fetal cardiac activity" from such a tiny thing! 


I look way more pregnant than 9 weeks in this photo. I will blame a giant Mexican meal.


Ultrasound photo from my first OB (vs RE) appointment. Look at that little shape! This is when she started measuring one day ahead. So technically I was 8w5d, but she measured just shy of 9 weeks here.


At 10.5 weeks I had my first MFM (maternal fetal medicine specialist, or otherwise high risk OB) appointment. At this appointment he said I had a 90% chance of bringing home a healthy baby. That was encouraging! 



She was SO wiggly at this appointment! Like super wiggly. They say when you are this early they have plenty of room to move around. 


By 12 weeks we had just gotten the blood work back that baby was genetically "normal" (not a super thorough blood test, but detects common trisomies) and that she was a girl! So, we were feeling pretty good this week.




This was at 12w3d and look at that cute profile! That was also when they did the nuchal fold test, which measures the back of the neck, which can detect abnormalities, but the measurement looked great. She was pretty wiggly then too. :)


There you have it so far! I was hesitant about getting too many ultrasounds when I was pregnant with Miriam, but this time my thoughts are, "Give me all the ultrasounds to reassure me that everything is currently ok!" 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

An Update with News

I hate how neglected this space has become. But, life is busy and that's what happens. When I feel all the big emotions I write a blog post because it helps me process and also share what's going on in my heart and mind. But, sometimes it seems overwhelming to get something on the blog that makes it a worthwhile blog to read. And I get intimidated with my internal pressure and just don't write. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one who gets overwhelmed with all the various social media options of sharing what's going on in life. Right? Even after I stopped blogging regularly I would follow friends' blogs closely. Sadly, I haven't even taken the time to check the blogs! Ack! So, I apologize if I've missed some big (or even small) stuff from any of my readers! 

But, things continue to be busy here. After lots of darkness, confusion, and sadness, Dave and I decided we wanted to try to get pregnant again with our only other good embryo (it was created/conceived last April in the same cycle I got pregnant with Miriam). Since IVF has about 50/50 odds we assumed it wouldn't work since it did work the first time with Miriam and those odds made sense. 

However, we were shocked when we got the call that I was pregnant (I don't do home pregnancy tests. They have been mean to me for far too long. Instead I got a blood test at the doctor). We were so happy. I thought that if I ever found out I was pregnant again I would be immediately anxious, but we were actually very happy that day, and again 2 days later when we found out that the numbers doubled as they should. 

But, I had some spotting that was worrisome and at 5w6d a concerning amount and went to my OB's office for an ultrasound. The on-call doctor did an ultrasound and told me I was going to have a miscarriage based on what she saw. We were devastated. We called my fertility doctor to ask if I should stop taking the hormones to support the pregnancy, and he said no way! He recommended waiting up to another week to do another ultrasound, this time with him, to see if anything had progressed. Well, praise God that we listened to him. Because 4 days later we took the 2 hour drive to his office, confident we would get confirmation that I would miscarry, and instead there was a heartbeat! WHAT?! We were in total shock and were totally grateful! 

The reason for the spotting was found. There was a SCH, which according to our understanding, is like a clot that is on the outside of the baby's sac that can rupture and/or bleed at any time. It does raise your risk of miscarriage, so we knew it would need to be watched. Most of the time they shrink with time and aren't an issue, but they do cause spotting and bleeding on and off, and they can be worrisome. Of course this was frustrating, but we took the good news and hoped and prayed the SCH would do what we wanted it to and eventually disappear. 

By 12w the clot had gotten down to a very small size, small enough that the OB was not longer concerned and that I hadn't had spotting in a couple of weeks. Whew! At this point we also got blood test results that the baby didn't have any of the most common trisomies and was also a girl! A reason to celebrate! I call the call while Dave was at work, so I bought 40 pink balloons with the kids (I lied and told them they were for Dave's doctorate) and surprised him with the news of a girl when he got home from work. The truth is that we would have been thrilled to have either gender of course, but knowing which it is, helps the baby seem more person-like to us. 

Anyway, despite all the good news, we know what it's like to have everything be healthy and wonderful in a pregnancy, and things unexpectedly take a turn for the worst. I have held my dead baby in my arms and I am terrified it could happen again. So, as much as we are grateful, there is a lot of anxiety and a lot of extra visits to the doctor to be sure everything is ok. This time I am seeing a high risk pregnancy specialists and weekly visits start Monday with him. BUT, I do know there are friends and family that will want to know how the pregnancy is going, so I figure this is a good place to post regular updates so that I don't have to repeat myself multiple times. Especially since talking about it often makes me anxious. :) We have been much quieter this time around with announcing, and to avoid saying it multiple times, we went public on Facebook yesterday. But I won't be updating on FB much at all, especially since I know how hard it is to see pregnancy news on FB after dealing with infertility.

So, there you have it. Here is what we posted on FB. And I'll share more soon here. <3

"These two sweet kiddos are happy to share that their mom is currently 15 weeks pregnant with a baby girl!
After our recent and unexpected loss of Miriam at 21 weeks, you can imagine we are celebrating this pregnancy with very mixed emotions. Each day we hold both gratefulness and anxiety as we celebrate that signs point to a healthy pregnancy, but also know what it's like for that to be true and still have a late loss.
We hope you will join with us in prayer and in hope that this baby girl continues to grow healthily, that my body will carry her and keep her healthy until October, and that we are able to handle all the big emotions along the way. For the next 2-3 months it will be pretty difficult for us to imagine actually bringing home a baby, so it's possible we may not want to talk about babies, this baby, or even this pregnancy much yet, at least until we get to the point of viability. So, even though we are guardedly happy and aren't exactly jumping up and down and squealing, we are very grateful for this girl's life no matter what happens. And if we do bring her home I can assure you there will be jumping and squealing and we hope you would join us in that."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Oops!

This was written weeks ago and I forgot to push "publish."

I know that last post ended super dark. It was intentionally done that way. I hate how I feel like Christians have to always provide hope or an upside to something. Sometimes there literally is NO upside to a dark place. And I think we all need to be ok with sitting in the pain and not having to provide a joyful response to in the midst of or in spite of it. When we do we minimize the person's pain.

Of course, I have picked myself up and kept moving. There is much to be done and so much to take care of. I got back to work less than a month after losing Miriam (it is part-time so that helps). The kids needed food and someone had to make it. My to-do list got long and the time got short and I had to get moving.

But, I am still a different person. I'm a person that sees the world differently. I'm told that I will feel both sorrow and joy in a deeper way, but that hasn't happened yet. For now my life moves with a different rhythm. My mind is thinking about heavier things, like what God's role is in suffering, and how we should be interacting with those around us as we all carry different heavy loads of pain along with us.

I am so grateful for the gifts I do have. I have no idea what I would do without Dave, and our two precious and amazing children. We are just plain lucky to have a warm home and food and people that love us while we grieve. There is a LOT to be grateful for.

Yet, the rhythm and melody of life has changed. There is a low tone of sadness that follows me wherever I go. This doesn't mean I cry all the time (I actually cry very rarely), but there is a loss in my life that colors how I view the rest of the world. While others rejoice and celebrate things worth celebrating I offer a smile and kind world and wonder how I will ever feel true joy again. I long to join in their joy and feel it completely the way they do, but my heart just can't. It's too broken at the moment.


I absolutely know that people care about us and love us, but still continue to say words that wound. And that's ok. I am used to it and know it's not intentional. But, it does make social situations hard. And making friends hard. I am a difficult person to get close to and I know it. I know if I were in a completely healthy place I would be an extrovert, but for now I protect my heart and stay close to home. It's how I cope and how I can control one tiny aspect of my life and allow myself to feel safe. I know most people will never know what this loss feels like and they know that so they are so gentle and kind to me. It's so appreciated, but it doesn't take away how I feel and how I get through the days. And that's ok too.

And as this writing rambles along as my thoughts come out onto the page I will close this post for now. This is how I feel today. Tomorrow I may feel differently. But, I'm learning that however I feel it's ok. Today I am sad, lonely, ashamed, angry, but also happy. They are felt simultaneously and warmly. I carry them with me and I share them with you with an open heart. Know that I appreciate every word and smile shared. I know I am not alone, but in this rare quiet moment I reflect and decide that for today, loneliness is quiet alright.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Darkness

After Miriam died the world went dark for me. Dark and still and motionless. Everyone else's lives kept moving and mine completely stayed still. The day we came home from the hospital I was in physical pain, but I didn't care. My heart had been shattered. I had the recovery of giving birth but without the baby. I had never felt more empty in my whole life. 

For 4 months I carried her inside of me. She was my constant companion. Practically everything I did was for her and all of a sudden she was gone. I had so many hopes and dreams for this baby girl. She was going to be so mighty and fierce. She was going to be loved and kissed and hugged tightly and often by us and her two older siblings. But, when we came home she wasn't there. Her body was at the funeral home and her soul was in heaven. None of her was with me.

I wondered how I would get out of bed the next morning. Or any morning. Ever. I didn't understand how that could happen, but I did it. I got out of bed but it was a struggle. I wondered how I was supposed to care for the two kids that needed me. It seemed like far too overwhelming a task when my heart, body, and mind were broken and not functioning.

I shuffled through my days in a fog, unsure of how to function. Friends and church members volunteered to bring us meals and I don't know what I would have done without them. But I couldn't open the door to see the people who brought them. The anxiety of seeing or talking to anyone was overwhelming. People sent emails and texts and I knew it would be impolite to not respond but I just couldn't. Every single task in front of me felt like slogging through an enormous pool of mud. Even my body didn't make sense to me. God didn't make sense to me. All I could tell myself was, "I should have known this would happen. I never should have believed that we would actually bring home a baby. I should have known better."

I cried a lot. But, probably not as much as I should have. When I think to that period just a few months ago I see it through the lens of a very dense fog. I couldn't see anything around me and I couldn't do anything productive. Everything was dark. So dark.

When you are in the literal darkness it can be scary. You can't see what's around you or how to get your bearings. The figurative darkness is the same. Everything you thought that was true about life, faith, God and love seemed so clear before the darkness settled in and clouded your entire view. 

I will never understand how a woman can hold her dead child in her arms and not be an entirely different person afterward. I view my life now in two parts. Before Miriam died and life made sense, and after she died and life made no sense. I always knew that children died and that God made the rain fall on both the just and unjust, but now life just seemed especially cruel since it happened to me. To us. And to be sure, it's not like life was perfect or easy for us before this either. Infertility was dark and hard and confusing and faith shifting. But, the death of a child? It's a darkness, confusion and faith shifting that I didn't know existed. I knew it would feel tragic, but I didn't know it could feel this dark.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sharing

I haven't written in a few months. To be honest I haven't felt like I had a lot to say. I have no special wisdom about grief or moving forward with your life. And it's hard for me to even know how I'm feeling or how to deal with what I'm feeling when my days are consumed with taking care of two small children. And that's ok, because I have no idea how I would be surviving without these kids. They are the life and breath of my days and true gifts.

And of course, November and December are months of insanity in our home. Mostly because Dave and I both work for the church, he as the Music Director. And as you can imagine his job responsibilities become constant going into Advent and Christmas-tide. So, that leaves even less time for thinking and feeling. Which again, was ok, because I had the gift of preparing for and celebrating Christmas with the kids, and with the buddy being 4.5 years old now, he is starting to really understand the excitement and build-up of Christmas unlike he has before. It was a joy to participate in.

But, Miriam's due date has loomed over my head for as long as I can remember. Of course it was seen as an exciting date while I was pregnant and imagined bringing home a baby. But, after losing her, it was a date of so much sadness. So, Dave and I planned a trip to the beach for January 5th just the two of us. We needed something positive to look forward to in the New Year. So, we planned a trip (that almost didn't happen due to horrible holiday germs, but that's a story for another post) while two sets of grandparents watched the kids. And we actually got to go. And it was filling.

That probably sounds like a stupid adjective. But, it did fill us. To be honest a lot of the "filling" was of food and drink (all-inclusive resorts are glorious), but it was filled with rest. And quiet. And gentleness. It was confirmed that both of us were emptied out introverts by the fact that other than meals we spent every daylight hour lying on the beach reading our respective books. Listening to the sound of the waves. And the quiet. And also some pretty obnoxious vacationers. But, we did our best to ignore them. :)

I'm usually a "beach novel" kind of gal, and I did read two of those while we were there. But, I also finished 5 non-fiction books (there is a lot of daylight and time to read while on vacation in Mexico). Books about faith, and quiet, and God, and life. Books that reminded me that I'm not alone and that my story is important. And that God calls us to speak and live in truth. The truth of our stories. Our family's stories. My story.

So, despite my fears about sharing what I'm really thinking and feeling and the questions I have about faith, and quiet, and God, and life, I'm going to start sharing them. Here. As much as I wish I could find the words when I'm talking with people in person I just can't and don't. My words out loud are messy and foolish and confusing. And I use "like" and "ummm" way too much even when I try not to. But when I write the words they tend to sound nicer and make more sense and seem worth sharing. So, I'm going to try.

This seems like enough words for today, so I'll stop here. I have so many thoughts all jumbled in my mind and heart, but I'm hoping as I write they become (at least slightly) more clear and concise.

And of course, please share your thoughts as well. My hope is that as I write and you read it will lead you to want to share your story too. Or it will remind you of the questions and hurts in your own heart and life. And I hope you will share them with me. I'm kind of obsessed with people's stories (umm... 7 books on a 6 day trip? I would say so!), so please considering telling me yours. Share your blog link or your own personal thoughts as the posts come. All of our lives and stories matter so let's not keep them to ourselves.