Tuesday, June 27, 2017

23 Weeks

Last Friday I reached 23 weeks. Everything looked good at the doctor. I'm so glad I switched to Friday appointments! It helps to have reassurance going into the weekend. The MFM (high risk OB) gave me some encouraging statistics. He said of course that the goal is to get to 39 weeks, but that if at 24 weeks (so in a few days now) something goes terribly wrong and baby is born there is a 50% chance of survival. Many of these babies have long term issues, but 50% of them live. He then said that each day after that gives an additional 2% chance of survival, and by 28 weeks there is now a 95% chance of survival! It's amazing what they can now do in the NICU.

Of course we really truly hope we make it into the 30s for sure, and getting to 38/39 weeks would be amazing and the best possible outcome for baby. But, for now these statistics are reassuring.

But, I will also say that it's hard to remain optimistic. I want to be hopeful and plan on having a full-term baby, but after what happened with Miriam, that came out of the blue, it's hard to imagine everything going well this time. I still fear the worst most days and my nerves are totally frayed. June has been the LONGEST month of my life, and there are still 3.5 days left of the month! Aargh! It seems like an eternity until the point where I feel confident that we will bring home a baby! 

It sucks and is totally unfair. I want to enjoy being pregnant and planning to bring home a baby. I want to be filled with joy and be picking out names imagining them for a healthy baby girl. But, it's all tainted with loss and fear. Ugh. You can say what you want about trusting God and that I shouldn't be anxious because it's in the Bible (and yes, people have said this to me), but people said that during my last pregnancy too, including me! When I got worried I would tell myself that most pregnancies have no complications and would push worry out of my mind. And then our baby died. So, no matter your theology it does not make sense to trust God that this baby will come home because that trust didn't work out last time.

Well, sorry for that darker turn. But, the good news is that I have felt more baby movements. Overall that's great, except for the days that I don't feel much and freak out. haha Within the next week I'm told I should feel some movement every day, so she better continue to stay active so that I know she's doing well.

And in other news, the buddy is still super excited about this baby. And somehow he and Sweet P think that since there's a baby growing in my belly that there's one growing in Sweet P's belly as well. Whenever I mention that the baby is kicking they start talking about the baby in her belly too and try to feel her belly for kicks. Obviously a strong understanding of biology is not within the grasp of a 2.5 and 5 year old brain. :) And during prayers the buddy has also requested that this baby come home this time and has mentioned he's sad that Miriam didn't, and regularly asks me if the baby is still in my tummy. So, he's processing as well the events of the past year as we do too. I echo his thoughts and wishes and sure do hope this baby comes home too.

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).