Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome, Little One

I am overjoyed to announce that our daughter, B, arrived safely into the world on the evening of the 28th of December. I'll share details soon, but for now we are safe and happy and I am relishing every moment of this.

Today is the anniversary of L's death - I just told her little sister about her. It has been bittersweet being in the same hospital where we lost L. On one hand, there are familiar faces, which means we do not have to tell the story over and over. On the other hand, I ended up having a c-section and it was in the same  OR where we found out L's heart stopped beating. I'll elaborate more in another post. 

Until we head home (New Year's Day), I'll leave you all with a photo of the best thing that has ever happened to me (a tie with meeting my husband). I hope that, for some of you, our story offers a little bit of hope. We were told "never" and here she is. The road has been anything but smooth, but wow, she is worth it. My heart has never been so full.


Friday, December 19, 2014

36 Weeks

I had a good cry tonight reading the archives on a blog that I follow.  The woman lost her baby to a cord accident and while I had read her story before, re-reading it tonight made me incredibly emotional.  It really touched a nerve as to the things that have me worried this week... is my placenta going to hold up this time?  Will we have a cord accident? Placental abruption?  Unknown issue that causes this baby's death?  My mind is definitely working on overdrive here and not in a good way.

On the other hand, here we are!  36 weeks.  My induction is scheduled for a week from tomorrow at 8 AM.  I may meet my little girl in a week.  Tonight my husband and I were both talking to her.  He suggested that we call her Meatball (ha) and asked her what she thought.  It seems like we are so close to having her in our arms.

Tomorrow morning we have our carseat check (first we have to actually install it) and we are finally going to put together the crib and the dresser and get the baby's room organized.  After L, I swore that if we ever had another baby, I wouldn't do anything until he or she arrived and would just have a friend or my parents bring us a carseat in the hospital.  I felt that way until about a month ago when the urge to prepare and nest kicked in and I just could not help myself.  Now I just want the room set up so I can feel like we are prepared in the only way I know how to be.

For those of you out there who have experienced a loss and have gone on to have a healthy, living child, how did you handle the anxiety at the end? I'm still exercising and going to acupuncture and I have times when I feel happy and optimistic, but the fear is always there...
36 Weeks - A Headless Bump Shot

Saturday, December 13, 2014

35 Weeks

I continue to be amazed that I am lucky enough to get this far and be able to write these updates.  35 weeks yesterday!  I had an ultrasound earlier this week and this little one is growing right on track (50th percentile) and weighs over 5 pounds now!  She was moving around like crazy at our ultrasound so we couldn't get a good 3D image of her, but I am happy to report she is head down (or at least she was on Monday).

Thursday was my second NST and it went much better than the first.  I ate part of a cookie at the start to get things going and she responded like a champ.  Phew.  I left this one feeling reassured rather than panicked, which is (obviously) the point.  I'll have one in each of the next two weeks and we scheduled our induction:

Saturday, December 27th!

Two weeks from today we'll hopefully be holding our little girl.  (She just kicked me. I hope this means she is equally as excited to meet us.)

R and I are spending this weekend in the mountains.  We rented a cozy cabin, we went hiking, there is a roaring fire, and tonight we are supposed to get snow.  I was reluctant to go away because there is a lot to be done at home, but it was a great decision just to have some time for the two of us.  Last night we spent time talking about names... we haven't settled on one, but we narrowed our list.  I'm having a hard time picking one at all because I think the perfect name is the one we gave L.  Does anyone have any favorite names for girls they want to share?  We are struggling!

The view from our hike today.
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So, yesterday a dear friend of mine had her baby.  She was due about a week before me and her baby arrived early (and everyone is healthy and doing great).  I need to confess something - I am jealous.  She has been married just over a year and now - poof! - she has a little girl.  Just. Like. That.  And before me!  I've been pregnant twice!

The worst thing is that this is a friend who I love and cherish and who has been incredibly supportive over the last year in particular and here I am having these terrible feelings towards her.  Obviously I am thrilled on one level, but it is these underlying feelings that creep up from time to time that I dislike but can't seem to control....

Friday, December 12, 2014

"A Photo of a Stillborn Baby, Proof of Life, and Grief and Memory"

This piece appeared in the New York Times yesterday and just hit home in the most poignant way.  The author describes her experience having a stillborn son, specifically describing her feelings about having a photo of Dylan.  The last paragraph really struck a chord:

I have often looked at that photo when I have felt ungrounded and alone, because this is the life work of bereaved parents — learning to inhabit, from time to time, a kind of necessary solitude, one that permits us to cull grace from agony. It is in this exercise that we can beat back despair and permit absence to underscore a beautiful presence as we gather ourselves and move forward. I remember. David remembers. He existed; he was here; he is here still.  
I sometimes feel this way about L.  We have so few tangible things that represent her and so few people talk about her that sometimes I worry she will just be forgotten or that she didn't really exist to anyone but me and R.  The entire article is included below.


A Photo of a Stillborn Baby, Proof of Life, and Grief and Memory

When I heard my brother, a writer, read an excerpt from his book about a character’s memory of the stillbirth of his baby sister, I almost fell to my knees. The scene was a gift; the private, unspoken and unseen blossoming into the public and documented. There was a him. My son Dylan, stillborn after days of labor, existed, and was remembered.
My brother, David Shafer, author of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” wrote the scene based on a photograph taken by a forward-thinking member of the hospital staff after my labor with Dylan. I was well into my third trimester when a blood-clotting disorder caused placental abruption, and I knew he would not be born alive before I went into labor.
As I write this, I recall being in labor. I am struck by my fractured memories, of how much of my labor and delivery was spent fighting to be truly present in that room, of how aware I was that his stillbirth would result in the kind of metaphysical scar that forever changes us, and how dual was my struggle: to keep him and to birth him at the same time.
How do we hold on to what we have loved and lost? To help, the hospital gave me a memory box. There were so few items to share with others; to my mother I gave a tiny heart to be hung on a chain, but we kept everything else, including a photograph.
Immediately after my loss, just discharged from the hospital, I sat disheveled on my bed holding this photo out to my brother David, who had flown across the country instantly when I needed him in the full snowy depths of winter.
Why did hearing him read the scene affect me so deeply? For a decade since the stillbirth, I’d imagined a shared community around losses like mine, though such hope had been whittled away. When I heard the scene, the hope suddenly regained vivid and sharp focus. In permanently recording the loss of my son, David helped me with the sieve-like quality of memory and its impermanence, which operate within a wider social taboo telling us not to dwell on our loss, or infect others with our sorrow.
After “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was published, David wrote to me about the photograph that inspired the scene: “It was a Polaroid picture. Those always make the subject seem ephemeral, like a fleeting memory. So when I saw this Polaroid of a stillborn baby held by his still-living mother — my nephew; my sister — I was seeing as much a ghost, as much a spirit, as I will ever see. The image stayed with me for years; and one day I wrote it down. That is a picture of him, there was a him.”
Proof of existence is essential to integrating loss, and this is the power of documentation. About that photograph: I have been cautious about sharing such a particular treasure. Writing here is the first time I have ever revealed publicly that it exists. Cheryl Haggard is co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit that provides remembrance photography for families facing infant death. She says that pictures may provide parents with a sense of peace and healing because they give the bereaved a way to share their child with family and friends. She explains that from these photographs people are able to learn that these babies are important in the life of a family even though they are not physically present.
Much is captured in my Polaroid shot. As I held my dead son, I tried to trace what the memory of his physical self would be for me. I knew that he was dead, but still in his body I saw all potential that had been and gone, and even that seemed beautiful to me; I felt his radiance pulsing from him like waves of heat from stone.
I have often looked at that photo when I have felt ungrounded and alone, because this is the life work of bereaved parents — learning to inhabit, from time to time, a kind of necessary solitude, one that permits us to cull grace from agony. It is in this exercise that we can beat back despair and permit absence to underscore a beautiful presence as we gather ourselves and move forward. I remember. David remembers. He existed; he was here; he is here still.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Husbands & Loss

R and I finally decided it was time to take a few classes at the hospital (prompted by the fact that this is the last opportunity before our induction... nothing like waiting until the last minute).  Last week we took Infant Safety together, I took Baby 101 (R was traveling and missed it), which taught swaddling, bathing, diapering, and basic newborn care, and R went to Daddy Boot Camp over the weekend.

To tell the truth, we were both reluctant to take any classes. I am an only child and neither of us baby-sat much or has a lot of experience with children, but I was really nervous about sitting in a class with a bunch of parents-to-be who can't relate to anything we've been through.  I dreaded our situation with L coming up somehow and not knowing how to respond (and frankly, to having to respond and totally freaking out all of the other parents - ha).

Past pregnancies, L, etc. did not come up at either Infant Safety or Baby 101.  But it did come up in Daddy Boot Camp.  The class is much more hands-on and personal and started with each guy giving a little background on themselves.  R would never have shared L's story without prompting (and he didn't share any details), but another Dad shared that he and his wife lost a baby at 22 weeks last year and this prompted R to mention our story.  Apparently the other Dad came over and talked to R and they are going to get drinks this week to talk further.

This is all a long introduction into the fact that I've thought on numerous occasions how differently R and I have handled everything in the last year.  I think he felt like he had to be strong and stable for me.  And he is a problem-solver by nature, so he wanted to assess the situation and figure out the steps we could take to "make things better."  He spoke to his family and maybe a friend or two about what happened, but he didn't go to a therapist or a support group.  And truthfully, we talk less about L at home than you might think - my suspicion is that we both hesitate to bring her up all the time because we don't want to upset the other person.

When R came home from class, he immediately shared that it was surprisingly emotional.  He said it was very hard to be back in the hospital again (the class was just off the labor and delivery floor), to talk about babies, and to hold the babies, particularly since they were all around the same age that L would be (as part of the class, alums bring in their babies so the men can practice comforting them, changing diapers, etc.).  It caught me off-guard to hear him express his emotions about the class and it also prompted a really good conversation about L, about how we are both still so apprehensive about getting excited about this pregnancy, about how we want to handle discussing L in the future, about how we might finally spread L's ashes somewhere, etc.  It was so nice to talk about our fears and worries and we both agreed that we need to do this more.

This has turned into quite the rambling post, but this week was a reminder that we are both actively grieving for L.  Even if it feels odd to talk about it when we are hopefully on the brink of something wonderful happening, we still need to do it.

Do any of you have thoughts on communicating about grief with your significant other?  Any tips or advice?

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On a different note, has anyone read the book "Someone Came Before You"?  I've been thinking of ordering it and would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, November 28, 2014

33 Weeks

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone is enjoying a long weekend away from work and that time of year isn't especially hard... I know the holidays can be such a tough, tough time when you are struggling with infertility or loss.  They certainly still serve as a huge trigger for me - this time last year I was 21 weeks pregnant with L and all I could think about was how different the holidays would be for us this year.  I'm thinking of you all and hoping that even if life isn't going as planned right now, you have still found people or things to be thankful for this week... I know I am thankful for all of those who read and comment on this little blog (you! thank you!).  It is so wonderful to not feel so alone.  Thank you!

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Today marks 33 weeks!  Thank you all for your thoughts on getting the non-stress test (NST).  I had my first one on Tuesday of this week.  I'm not sure the name "NST" is fitting in terms of how the first one went!  I was settled into the recliner and strapped to the baby heart rate monitor and the contraction monitor and baby's heart rate was consistently between 130 and 140, which is great.  However, she appeared to be asleep, so I felt very few movements and there were no spikes in her heart rate, which is apparently what they are looking for (movement combined with spikes to show activity).  After an hour and a can of juice (which did no good), we called it and I had an ultrasound.  I wasn't worried that something terrible was happening, but I didn't feel great about the test and it was just unnerving.  I found myself getting a little panicky and thinking "This is it. I'm going to be admitted to the hospital right now."

Everything was fine.  Once we started the ultrasound, she started moving around and all of the measurements are right on schedule so there was no cause for concern.  Apparently I am to eat a meal before I come in for my next NST so this doesn't happen again.

So, baby looks great (and so baby-like at this point), although she has flipped back over and is again in breech position, which I am hoping she'll resolve in the next few weeks.  I had been feeling this movements very low in my pelvis, which now makes sense... she's kicking me with her tiny feet.

We didn't "schedule" the induction, but my OB is on call on the 26th through 28th of December, so we'll likely start on the 26th.  It seems crazy, but that is one month away.  We just need to hang on and stay healthy for one more month.

33 weeks! It looks like her tiny nose is pressed up against a window.
And those lips!  I cannot wait to meet her.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Non-Stress Tests

Hello out there!  I'm looking for a little bit of advice today and hoping that some of you have thoughts on Non-Stress Tests or NSTs.  Both my high-risk OB and regular OB have offered me NSTs starting at 32 weeks.  Apparently they are pretty standard after one has a stillbirth, but given that we generally know what caused L's death (clotting in the placenta), both doctors think they won't actually be very helpful for me   Both of them think that if I started to have clotting in the placenta, we would see growth restriction (which we haven't).  And if I have an "acute event" like I did last time, the chance of us catching it while it happens is almost zero (so comforting).

That said, they have both brought it up and left it up to me as to whether we do them.

And I don't know what to do.

I've definitely been all for monitoring of any kind during this pregnancy.  I have probably had 20 ultrasounds and I've been seen every other week since 20 weeks.  But those visits were recommended and it seems like the doctors are not really recommending NSTs but instead just giving me the option.

I live in fear of making the wrong decision, but I don't want to do something just to do it (not to mention that NSTs would be twice a week for an hour each visit).

Any thoughts?  Has anyone done NSTs?  Were they comforting and/or helpful?

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In other news, the high-risk OB confirmed today that we'll induce at 37 weeks, which is the day after Christmas!  So, I'll work until Christmas Eve and that will be it for me (provided all goes well until then, of course).  So, this little nugget should arrive before the New Year. Crazy.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

30 Weeks

This is a big 3-0 that I don't mind reaching (I wasn't as crazy about my 30th birthday).  I'm 30 weeks today and, officially, 7 weeks plus a few days from my induction.   Less than two months!  I can hardly believe it.

I had an appointment earlier this week with my OB, which included another growth scan, and an appointment with my MFM, and everything seems to be going well.  Baby (still no nickname) is growing and looking fatter by the week!  She weighs 3 pounds and is in the 46th percentile.  An epidural is out for me, so I'll take a baby on the smaller side, thank you.

I saw my therapist last week and she encouraged me to start thinking about some preparation for the little one.  I have been reluctant to do anything beyond making a detailed list of things we need that I can order from the hospital, but I took what she said to heart and talked it over with my husband.  He said he is ready to prepare a bit and that gave me the confidence to do the same.  We've since ordered a glider and ottoman and selected a crib and dresser (we haven't ordered them yet, but I will).  It feels crazy to be planning for this baby to arrive (and to be alive)... but it also feels exciting and really, really good, so I am going with it.  We also booked a weekend getaway in early December (just to the mountains, no airplanes).

October flew by and I am hoping that November will do the same and be similarly uneventful.  Next week we see the high-risk OB and will talk over the details and timing of the induction.  When she brought this up around 14 weeks, I barely listened because it seemed improbable that we would get there, but now I'm looking forward to learning some details and perhaps even scheduling it.  Yikes.

I'm getting kicked as I write this and it is just the best feeling... keep it up, little one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

27 Weeks, 4 Days

It's all uncharted territory at this point.  I delivered L at 26 weeks and a 3 days, although we already knew that we had lost her.  You all know I've been a bit stressed out the last few weeks as we got through the time period when everything fell apart with L... not that there is any correlation between that time period specifically and the likelihood of me clotting again, but it certainly existed in my head.

Writing or speaking about positive aspects of this pregnancy worries me because I fear jinxing everything, but I'm going to do it today in an effort to be optimistic and rational.  
  • I saw my vascular surgeon last week and had full ultrasounds on both legs and my stent (located in my IVC). My veins and blood flow look great and my stent is open and in place.   Phew.
  • I passed my glucose test last week with flying colors.  Woo!  I didn't really think it was that bad?!  The drink didn't taste good, but I just drank it as quickly as possible and then went in for an ultrasound. 
  • My Anti XA level dropped to the border between therapeutic and prophylactic.  I have to stay comfortably in a therapeutic range, so I am bumping up dosages again.  My high-risk OB manages this and reminds me that this is normal as blood flow increases from pregnancy and I gain weight, but my regular OB also told me she has never had a patient on as much Lovenox as I am on (100 mg, 2x day).  It worries me a little bit, but I try not to think about it (and I do look forward to the day when I no longer have to take blood thinners).
  • Babies measurements are all back on track and comfortably around the 50th percentile.
In non-medical good news, my in-laws visited last week and are now gone (their visits stress me out quite a bit), and I spent last weekend with my college roommates, which was just wonderful.  We see each other once a year and getting to catch up and talk about life and just have fun together is a highlight of every year.  I also have one last work trip this week and then will officially be done traveling.

So... the third trimester is just a few days away, which I can hardly believe, and I have allowed myself several moments of thinking that things might just be different this time.  It terrifies me to have these thoughts, but every night when this baby kicks away and each week that I creep closer to being full-term, I hope and pray and sometimes allow myself to believe that things will be different.  We'll see.

I had an ultrasound yesterday and have to share this 3D face image that I just love.  Holy baby!  My husband says she has my nose!  

Oh, and one funny thing that happened last week.  I traveled to San Diego for work and when I was waiting in the security line in San Diego, a TSA agent offered me a WHEELCHAIR.  He was very sweet and wanted to be sure I was okay, but I got all flustered - How bad do I look if apparently I appear to need a wheelchair?  Do I look like I need a wheelchair?  I'm still running - I hope I look like I can survive a security line.  Anyway, it cracked me up and I kindly declined his offer.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day

I remember first putting this date on my calendar back in January just after we lost L.  I knew people who had miscarriages at that time, and I hope I was sympathetic and caring, but obviously I couldn't really relate, and I'd never met anyone who shared with me that they had a stillborn child (although a few did after L).

In January, October seemed so far in the future.  But here we are.

October 15th.  I'll be 27 weeks on the 17th.  L would be about six months old.  That fact takes my breath away every time I see a baby about that age and I think about how things could be so different for us.  Brooke from By the Brooke posted this image today and it so perfectly describes how I feel about L.

Image crated by Small Bird Studio
I'm thinking of all of you who have lost a (or multiple) precious children.  I suspect we will all wonder who they would have been and will always feel their absence in our lives.  I'm going to try to think fondly of L today and how much joy she has brought to us, and how she would have brought us even more if she were still alive.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

25 Weeks, 4 Days

I'm 25 weeks and 4 days today.  Tomorrow is the day I was admitted to the hospital with L.  I knew this was going to be a tough week and L certainly has been at the forefront of my mind, but here I am - just one day away from being the "most pregnant" I've ever been.

We did get good news yesterday that is helping to quell my anxiety.  I had a growth ultrasound and baby's head is measuring right on!  She's overall measuring one day shy of her due date and everything looks great.  Susie (u/s tech) and I spent some time just watching her move around, suck her thumb, etc. and it was just so reassuring (as are her kicks).  I breathed a sigh of relief that her growth caught up and, in general, to be at this point without back or leg pain or signs of clotting.

I'm (obviously) still worried about things taking a turn for the worse without me knowing, but I left my appointment with the most wonderful feeling yesterday like things might work out.  I am cringing as I write that because I don't want to jinx things, but I'm trying to think that being positive probably has a better effect on my mental health and therefore the health of this baby than is outweighed by being superstitious.  So, I'm choosing to try to be let myself me optimistic when I feel up to it.

Anyway, just a little update.  I've got a smile on my face and will try to keep it that way through the rest of this tough week.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Terrible Tale from El Salvador & 24 Weeks

My husband shared this podcast with me last night.  Quintanilla, an El Salvandorian woman, lost a baby at 7 months.  She was accused of aborting the baby, even though it was stillborn, and was imprisoned as a result.  I can't even imagine being imprisoned after the trauma of having a stillborn baby - being accused of aborting your baby when you had a horrific medical event that caused your baby's death.  The following is an excerpt from the whole story, but if you want to read the whole story, you can do so here.  I know things aren't perfect in the United States, but this is a reminder of how good we have it relative to many others.
In Quintanilla's case, an anonymous hospital worker had called the police and accused Quintanilla of having an abortion. As a result, she was dragged into a court case that lasted almost 12 months. 
She and her family members say they'd been eagerly awaiting the birth of her second child. They'd even had a baby shower for her. Quintanilla says emphatically that she did not kill her baby. 
The hospital had found no evidence that she had intentionally aborted the pregnancy. But the district attorney pushed forward anyway, arguing that Quintanilla had terminated the pregnancy because she couldn't support another child.
During the trial, Quintanilla says, her public defender was awful and couldn't even remember her name.  In the end, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She served four years before a young lawyer stumbled across her case and managed to get her sentence overturned. He argued successfully that no one ever established the cause of her baby's death.
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In happier news, I had an appointment yesterday(24 weeks, 3 days) and our ultrasound looked good.  My office will only do measurements every 2 weeks, but the baby was moving everywhere and looked great and my ultrasound tech (who I love and see every time I go in), said she was so upset that Dr. G mentioned the small head.  She said that if she were worried, she would tell me and that everything looks great.  And my doctor didn't mention it at all and felt like things were going well.  I'm trying to just take that to heart and be as calm as possible about things.  Next Tuesday I'll get another growth scan and hopefully her head will be growing!

In the meantime, my favorite 3D image from Tuesday.  She is starting to look like a "real" baby!  Look at that nose and those lips!  The image is a bit blurry because she would not stay still, but I love it (and her).  Thanks to you all for your support with my freak out last week, it really means a lot to me.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My First Freak Out

I know these feelings were/are inevitable, but it has happened.  I'm officially in the midst of feeling very anxious about this pregnancy.  After seeing the high-risk OB on Friday (who was very pleased with how things are looking and not at all worried that our little girl is a little small), I saw my normal OB yesterday.  She noted that while on average (the average of all the measurements taken, baby girl is just 2 days behind (which is normal), her head measurement is quite small.  She (OB) said that if it were the abdomen, they would be worried, but they don't worry with the head and sometimes babies are just small.

Regardless, I am freaking out.  This has (unsurprisingly) led me to Google "small head on baby 23 weeks."  There haven't been any terrifying results (don't tell me if you know of any), but I see this as the beginning of growth restriction, which suggests clotting, so of course I am extremely worried.  My OB wasn't, and she just wants me to come in weekly to see how things are going, but the mere fact that she raised the issue has me extremely concerned.  This is coupled with the fact that my fundal height is actually measuring ahead (26 weeks), so it doesn't comport with the baby being small.

There isn't really a point to this post (is there a point to any of them?), but I'm just venting because I am concerned.  I see my doctor again next Tuesday, but of course I know I will be worried until I see her squirming around and hopefully with a larger head size.

Has anyone had any experience with a baby measuring small (particularly the head)?

I'll leave you with a very cute (in my opinion) photo of baby girl's legs, which she was daintily crossing during our ultrasound.  She was also holding her feet in her hands next to her face - so very flexible!

Thanks, as always, for listening.


Friday, September 19, 2014

23 Weeks

Another week has come and gone and things are looking good.  I met with our high-risk OB this morning.  My ultrasound looked good and this little girl was moving around a bit and waving her arms for us.  She's measuring just shy of 23 weeks and the doctor thought everything looked great.  Phew.  She weighs 1.3 pounds today, which is more than L weighed when she was born.
I'm still loving having a posterior placenta and feeling all of her kicks.  There were a few big ones last night and I just love staring at my belly as it moves.  That will never get old.

I'm thankful for another week with a healthy baby and am trying to approach the time when we lost L with optimism and a positive attitude.  This time, things will be different.

To my grapefruit-sized baby in there, please just keep growing and kicking!  We can't wait to meet you in a few months.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

An Ornament for L


The leaves are starting to turn here in Denver and I can sense fall is just around the corner.  My thoughts immediately turn to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  I have been thinking back to how much hope I was filled with last holiday season.  Last Halloween, I passed out candy to trick-o-treaters and thought about what costume L would wear this year.  We spent Thanksgiving on the East Coast with my husband's family and talked about how next year, we'd have a little girl joining the festivities.  And Christmas... at Christmas, I had started to not feel well and already had my blood clot (and just didn't know), but I had purchased a stocking hook for L for 2014 and was planning for a joyous Christmas celebration with a baby.  My Dad gifted us a wooden cradle he had made for L. 

The changing seasons remind me how different life is than I thought it would be and I've been missing L like crazy.  At the same time, I am so excited by the possibility of this little girl growing inside of me.  

After a long walk tonight, I was thinking of how I wanted to be reminded of L this holiday season.  I have a collection of Christmas ornaments that are special to me and I thought of how I want L to be represented on our tree this year.  I ordered a customized ornament with her name, birthday, and her initial on it and I can't wait to hang it on the tree to be reminded of her every Christmas.  It's just a little thing, but I know we'll have it for years to come, and hopefully next year we can add one for our second daughter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

22 Weeks

Tomorrow marks week 22 of pregnancy.  Miraculously, my anxiety is in check and under control and I'm feeling really good, keeping up with exercise, etc.  I had my Anti XA (clotting) levels tested today and they are comfortably in the range where they should be and my TSH is still within normal limits.  Phew.  For today, great news.... that along with hearing a strong heartbeat and feeling some powerful kicks after I ate lunch.  Those kicks will never get old.

I am so grateful for these good days.

It's especially important to feel thankful today, on the 13th anniversary of September 11th.  I was reminded by the flags at half staff that I saw on my way to work today.  Sometimes it helps to have a little perspective on everything else going on when I find myself so easily consumed by what is happening in my life.

Anyway... just a note of thanks, especially when I know others are going through very hard times.

Here's to another uneventful 15 weeks...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Jealousy

I saw another post about this yesterday, so I know I am not the only one feeling this way, but I had a very strong (and wildly irrational) jealous reaction to Kate Middleton's second pregnancy.  Her first pregnancy was announced right around with I found out about my DOR and was told donor eggs were my only option.  And even though I am pregnant now, I just keep thinking that it will be extra unfair if she has a second healthy baby before I can have one that lives.

Crazy and irrational?  Yes.

Do I still feel these crazy feelings?  Yes.

Also, has anyone ever looked so good preggers?   Quite unfair.

I did get an e-mail yesterday that made me laugh out loud from one of the women in my support group.  It had no subject, but just said "F&*# Kate Middleton."  It made me happy to know I wasn't the only one feeling so resentful.

On a happier (and more relevant note), this little baby has started kicking up a storm every time I eat and I love it.  Last night, I got home from work, had a snack, and just laid down and enjoyed feeling her kick.  I will never get over how amazing it is to know she is in there, alive and well.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Halfway

Sort of giving us a thumbs up?
We are back from an incredibly relaxing and adventurous vacation in the mountains, followed by a productive Labor Day weekend at home where I got so many organizing projects done.  Perhaps I am starting to nest?  I felt this overwhelming urge to sort through all of our closets, get organized, get rid of stuff, etc.

I'm 20 weeks and 5 days along today and we've officially passed the halfway point.  My ultrasound today looked good and baby is measuring 1 day shy of today's date, which I was reassured is just fine and totally normal.

I'd been feeling really great until I weighed myself at the doctor's office today.  One month ago, I weighed NINE pounds less than I do today.  NINE.  I have been eating healthy and exercising a lot (sticking to my 10,000 steps each day or more, still running, etc.) so I am totally befuddled and as much as I know I shouldn't let it bother me (and the doctor said the same thing - she said I looked healthy and that was good enough for her), I am sort of beside myself about it.  I know that excessive weight gain puts you at greater risk for clotting, which is part of why I am worked up about it.... and I just generally like to be healthy and this seems quite unhealthy to me.

To focus on the positive, baby is looking good, and I can feel her kick ALL the time. I love it.  I could sit and stare at my moving stomach all day long... but alas, that is frowned upon in the office.  So, overall a great visit and week.  Below is the first bump shot I've shared.  I think it is finally obvious to everyone that I am pregnant, not just packing on the pounds.  Or maybe I am doing both?


Monday, August 18, 2014

Is this your first?

We went to our first wedding of 2014 over the weekend.  It was black tie, and I borrowed (thankfully) a dress from a friend... and apparently it is now quite obvious (even to strangers) that I am pregnant.  It isn't that I'm hiding it, but I'm tall and both with this pregnancy and with L, it was unclear until about 20 weeks whether I was putting on belly fat or was pregnant.  Apparently the cat is out of the bag.

I'm thrilled to look pregnant because I am obviously over-the-moon excited about this little baby growing in my belly.

That said, I have a confession.  I don't love strangers asking if I am pregnant in the same way that I did with L, because they always ask "Is this your first?" and, truthfully, I don't always know how to respond.

Twice over the weekend, when people asked me if this was my first, I just said "yes."  I definitely paused, thought about how to respond, and then just said "yes."  It wasn't because I wasn't thinking of L, but I just couldn't, in the situation, bear the idea of launching into what happened.  The first woman to ask was the woman from whom I got a pedicure on Friday who is also pregnant.  She was very sweet and we chatted a bit about being pregnant, but I just didn't want to share with this stranger what happened (and we also had a bit of a language barrier and I feared it would just get awkward to explain and that others nearby would overhear).  The second person was the wife of a friend of my husband's.  She sweetly asked if I was pregnant and then asked if it was our first.  We know the couple, but not well, and then don't know what happened with L (obviously).  We were at a cocktail party, and it just didn't seem like the time or place to share.

Ever since I said it was my first, particularly to the woman at the wedding, I have been feeling this overwhelming sense of guilt.  I feel like I let down L somehow - like me not acknowledging her to those people means something horrible about me like that I don't love her with all of my heart, which I do.  I wish I could rewind and just be honest - succinct, but honest.

I know there is nothing I can do to remedy the situation now, but I've just been feeling so guilty and sad about it all weekend.  Am I the only person who has lied to someone to avoid an awkward discussion? Is there a time and a place when it is okay to not tell someone the whole truth?

In happier news, we saw a spectacular rainbow over the weekend, and rainbows always make me think of L and this new baby, who I hope will be our rainbow baby.




Friday, August 15, 2014

18 Weeks & Anatomy Scan

We had our official anatomy scan this morning and I am thrilled to report that everything is looking good and we have confirmation that we are having a girl!  All of the vital organs are growing and the baby is measuring right on track and blood flow to the placenta and through the umbilical cord looks good.  Phew!


I've realized that I really need to come up with a nickname for this little one so I can stop referring to her as "she" or "her."  We called L "Lemon" the whole time she was in the womb and I loved having a nickname for her (we were very superstitious and didn't give her a real name until she was born... not that it helped).

Today's ultrasound was with the high-risk OB who finally clarified something for me that I have been quite confused about.  We lost L due to extensive clotting in the placenta, which essentially cut off her blood supply.  My understanding has been that the only way you can see potential issues with blood flow before birth is through the use of doppler ultrasound showing blood flow.  Typically this isn't done unless and until the baby starts measuring small, but L was born at a normal size, so she didn't have growth restriction.  My fear is that if we wait until we see growth restriction, it would be too late to help this baby if something is wrong.  All of my doctors thus far have said that since doppler ultrasound hasn't been studied to show effectiveness to detect clotting, they don't suggest it.  But since I had clotting in such an unusual way, of course it hasn't been studied!  Does that mean we shouldn't be as proactive as possible in preventing it from happening again?  I certainly don't think so.  Does anyone have experience with doppler monitoring for blood flow? I'd love to know.

The OB today finally agreed that we would use doppler ultrasound to look at blood flow starting at 24 weeks as a precautionary measure.  It certainly isn't a guaranteed way to detect clotting, but since there is no harm, I'm relieved that we'll add it to our normal monitoring.  If nothing else, it will give me some peace of mind.

It will be a few weeks before we have another appointment and in that time we have our first vacation in over a year.  I cannot wait for a week off!  The last two weeks I have felt like I did at 10 weeks with L - so, SO exhausted every day.  At 9 PM, my eyelids are shutting and I cannot force myself to stay awake any longer.  I think a week off will be just the break I need.

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

17 Weeks

This morning I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  I had become absolutely convinced in the last week that something was wrong with this baby.  The combination of the ultrasound where she was sleeping and having trouble with the doppler (and my general anxiety and fear about this pregnancy) resulted in me just agonizing all week about her not being okay.

But then.... there she was!  Moving away and with a strong heartbeat in the 140s.


Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world.  Hello, baby!  Hello, cute feet!

The sonographer was able to basically do a full anatomy scan as well (we have the official scan with the high-risk OB next Friday) and everything looks great so far.  We could see her brain, spine, liver, etc.  It was amazing.  She also scolded me for not coming in sooner since I was feeling so anxious, gave me her cell phone number, and told me the next time I was worrying to just call and she'd squeeze me in.  I have no doubt I'll take her up on it as we creep closer to when we lost L.

I'm just feeling so thankful today.  Thankful for this baby, for my supportive husband, family and friends, and for support from readers who I haven't met, but who have shared in similar experiences and can empathize in a way that others cannot.  Thank you!

One more week down...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

16 Weeks & Home Doppler

I worked from home earlier this week and decided that was the day I'd finally give in and use the home doppler my friend sent me.  I knew that it might cause more anxiety than joy and boy was I right!  For me, it was a *terrible* idea!  I tried twice without any luck and finally, a few hours later, I was able to find what I assume is the baby's heartbeat, but even then I wasn't absolutely sure.  There was a nice strong heartbeat in the 140's and I decided to just assume it was the baby's and be done with the doppler!

Many people have had luck with it, but I think I'm putting it away for good.  For those of you who have used one with great success, any tips or tricks?  I just kept getting random "heartbeats" all over the place, which I assume were actually veins or arteries or maybe even my heartbeat?

Hopefully we'll have a good ultrasound next week and soon I'll be able to feel movements, which I can use for reassurance.  I thought I'd be okay during this couple week gap without ultrasounds, but I'll admit to having a lot of anxiety about whether our little girl is still alive.  I haven't had any signs to indicate that she isn't, but my head just keeps going there.

In an effort to distract myself and keep exercising, I set a goal for my 2nd trimester of walking 10,000 steps each day.  I have a FitBit that I love and am addicted to.  In my "normal" life, I run marathons and have finished a few Ironmans, so I'm very goal-oriented and even though 10,000 steps should not be that hard to reach, I've found it very motivating.  On days when I want to just curl up and read or watch TV, I force myself to get out for a run or a walk and I never regret it.  Anyway, it's a great distraction.

One week until our next ultrasound... not that I'm counting!

Monday, July 28, 2014

15 Weeks & Perceptive People


On Friday, I had an incredibly sweet woman at work come up to my desk and ask (in a very hushed voice) if I am pregnant.  Now I haven't told anyone at work, so I figured that my attempt to wear blousy tops to mask my bump must be failing.  Instead, after I responded "yes," and asked "Is it that obvious?" she actually said "No" and that she could tell because I seemed so much happier these last few weeks.

She wasn't being nosy and I wasn't at all offended by her upfront question because she knew all about L and we actually had a heart to heart about her own fertility struggles (she is probably 30 years older than me).  She was actually one of Dr. Schoolcraft's first patients (pre-CCRM) and one of the first women to undergo IVF (for the record, it didn't work for her, and she was on a few adoption lists when she naturally conceived after years of trying).

It really just drove home that it isn't just that I feel better and have hope again, but that those emotions and feelings are visible to everyone around me, which made me a little sad and made me reflect on just how tough things have been... not that they are all wonderful now with the anxiety surrounding this pregnancy, but I am no longer wallowing in a despair.  I'm even able to think about L in a happy, nostalgic way without always ending up in tears.

And speaking of anxiety, guess who failed to make it to her next ultrasound without scheduling a last-minute ultrasound last week?  Yes, that would be me.  I have just been fretting a bit about going almost 4 weeks without seeing this little girl move around, particularly since I can't feel her yet and this morning I desperately wanted some reassurance.  I went in on Friday.  Her little heart was beating away... but she was sleeping. I've never seen a baby sleep on an ultrasound before.  The tech assured me this was normal, but it is freaking me about a bit.  She was just so still!  Has anyone else seen their baby sleeping on an ultrasound?  L was *always* moving and so far this baby has been, too.

Oh, and my doppler arrived, but I've been too nervous about it creating extra anxiety to actually use it.  I'm really looking forward to when this baby starts moving around so I can feel her and be reassured!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Faith

Friday marks 15 weeks of pregnancy and also the longest stretch I've gone without an ultrasound.  I'm mostly feeling pretty relaxed, but I have moments where I want to jump in the car and zip over to my doctor's office for a peek at what this little girl is up to.  Is she moving around in there?  When will I be able to feel her?  My stomach certainly seems to be growing as if she is growing...  A fried is sending me her doppler machine (is that the right term?) so I can hear her heartbeat at home.  Has anyone used one of these?  I'm worried it might just freak me out instead as I am certain there will be times I can't find her heartbeat.

We have some acquaintances who I just found out terminated a pregnancy at 20 weeks because of severe heart abnormalities.  My heart just breaks for them.  Stories like this remind me (as if I really need a reminder) that this baby-making process is so very fragile, uncertain, and truly miraculous when it works out well and you have a healthy, living, breathing baby at the end.

After we lost L, I joined a support group for women with recent losses.  It was such a lifeline during the first 8 weeks and the women continue to be dear friends.  In one of our sessions, we had to write a letter to someone with whom our relationship had changed as a result of our loss.  I wrote to my husband, but two of the women wrote to God and wrote about how they were having so much trouble believing in God after such a horrific event had occurred in their lives.

Interestingly (at least to me), I've had the opposite experience and I've spent a lot of time thinking about it lately.  I've never been particularly religious.  I wouldn't say I didn't believe in God, but I also don't attend church or like to put my hope and faith in someone or something intangible.  I'm just being honest here, so I really hope this doesn't offend anyone.  That said, since we lost L, I have had a renewed sense of faith and hope.  I have been praying.  And I think a lot more about a greater power existing in the world.  And I hope that L is in a nice place - I really can't fathom it being any other way.

I'm not sure what to make of these feelings yet in terms of how I might change my life to accommodate them in the future (e.g., by joining a church), but for now it feels really good and right to pray.

I just re-read this post and realize it is all over the place, but thanks for sticking with me :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sugar & Spice...

and everything nice!

It turns out our little nugget (I'm still working on a nickname) is a little girl!  After asking my doctor's office to mail my results on Friday, I then made my husband call back and ask for them to tell us over the phone.  The office was so confused that they called me to be sure this was okay and just told me on the phone: "The results show that the fetus is female."  So typical of the doctor's office to make the best announcement into something so clinical.

A little girl!

A little sister for L.

And that was when I started crying on the phone.  The poor nurse who called to share the results...

They were tears of joy and tears of sadness.  I am thrilled we are having a girl. I would have been thrilled about having a boy, too, of course, but I'm so very excited.  And I'm also really sad.  I'm sad that we don't already have a daughter that this new little baby could meet.  I worry that this pregnancy is like my last one and that everything is going to go catastrophically wrong after going so well in the beginning.

But mostly, I am just really, really excited.  I imagine what this Christmas will be like as I will likely be induced a few days after Christmas.  And I imagine a New Year's Eve with our new little girl, unlike last year when I was induced and R and I spent the night separately waiting for our stillborn baby to arrive.  I feel guilty about letting myself get excited, but then I love how happy this little baby makes me feel.

This may be the most incoherent post that I've written, but my feelings are pretty jumbled and that my worried about "jinxing" this pregnancy will not go away, no matter how often I tell myself that there is nothing I can do to make things go well other than what the doctors instruct me to do.

And just in case you missed it (and because I love saying/writing it)... a GIRL!



Friday, July 11, 2014

MaterniT21


Phew.  A huge sigh of relief on this Friday afternoon as our MaterniT21 results came back and they were negative for all chromosomal abnormalities! I asked the doctor's office to mail the gender results but now am so very anxious to know that I am tempted to call back and have them tell me (I like it when my husband and I find out at the same time... it seems fair, which is why I prefer them mailing the results but suddenly I am feeling very impatient).

When I heard today that the results were negative, I experienced, for the first time since losing L, pure, unadulterated joy.  I just am so happy to know that I am growing a healthy little baby inside of me.  I just hope that my body can cooperate, not clot, and that I can actually have this baby to keep.  One day at a time... and today is a great one.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

12 Weeks

We snuck in our 12-week ultrasound last Thursday before dashing to the airport for a trip east to see family and sneak in beach time over the 4th of July weekend.  My husband hadn't been to an ultrasound since 6 weeks, so it was awesome for him to be there and to see the baby's growth.   Everything looked good at the ultrasound and we are just awaiting the results of our MaterniT21 test (which we likely won't have until next week).  

This was our first pregnant visit to the high-risk OB.  We saw a different one than we saw in the hospital when I lost L and when we had our non-pregnant consult.  I don't love her bedside manner as she was a bit brusque, but the visit was fine and she seems to know her stuff, including enough about clotting and our situation to make me feel comfortable.  I've mentioned this before, but I feel as though I spend a lot of time wrangling doctors and making sure they all know what the other has told me... it is exhausting keeping all of their opinions straight and trying not to trample on their sometimes very fragile egos!

Our little baby was moving all around.... not as much as L did at her 12-week ultrasound, but still bouncing around in my uterus.  I hate that I compare the two ultrasounds (and the two pregnancies in general), but I just can't help but go there.  It is the same way that I compare my cravings (currently mashed potatoes, salt and vinegar potato chips, and any salad with mayo, which I usually never eat (e.g., egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad)), which are different in this pregnancy.  I have this bizarre feeling I've shared before about this false sense of control if I do things a certain way.... if I don't crave the same things, this baby will live.... if this baby moves differently, he or she will definitely make it.  Totally ridiculous, I know.

For now, we've made it to 12 weeks.  My next ultrasound will be at 13 weeks, 4 days, which according to some sources means I will have made it to the second trimester.  We shall see.  One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Six Months

Yesterday was the sixth month anniversary of the day L died.  And Thursday (the day of our 12-week ultrasound) will be sixth months from her birthday.  I still haven't settled on which day I want to "celebrate" each year as her day.  Is it the day we knew she was no longer alive?  The day she was actually born?  Is it both?

Anyway, the six month mark hit me like a ton of bricks in a way that I was just not expecting.  Truthfully, the date sort of crept up and then, the night prior, I found myself wide awake and crying until the wee hours of the night because I just was so sad about everything that happened.  So sad about losing L.  So sad about losing my ability to hope... for anything.  So sad for our family.  And then so scared about this miracle pregnancy and the pain that I know we could suffer through again.

I tried to calm myself by talking to the little baby growing inside of me... telling him/her how much we love them, how we can't wait to meet him/her, and how we just want to have him/her as part of our family so very much.  I guess the date and my reaction just reminded that while I can have "normal" days where I think of L, but don't necessarily cry or get upset, there are other days when I just feel absolutely bowled over by the sadness.

***************************

In a happier update, we had a good ultrasound Monday morning and Thursday is the big 12-week scan and Maternit21 test.  Update to follow!


Monday, June 23, 2014

10 Weeks

My husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary over the weekend and received the best present today of another good ultrasound, including a great 3D shot of our growing baby.  I usually find 3D ultrasound images to be a bit... creepy.  But I love this one.  And I love this baby.  It was moving it's little arms and legs and measuring spot on at 10 weeks, 3 days.  Next week we'll have the big 12 week ultrasound but for today (and this week), I'm trying to enjoy today's good results.

Today I did the dumbest thing at work.  I wanted to photocopy one of our ultrasound photos to put in the journal I've been keeping.  I made the copy but somehow a second was made (that I didn't know about and therefore left on the copier).  Luckily, a friend at work saw it and brought it to me and she is someone I trust to not share the news with anyone.  But it brought up all of these feelings that I hadn't previously thought about.  What will it be like to tell people I am pregnant? When will I do it?  If I wait until I am comfortable with the pregnancy, I won't tell them until this baby is born.  I also feel embarrassed about what happened.  I honestly don't feel like I did anything wrong or could have prevented L's death, but I feel like a total failure.  My body let her down.  I let her down.  And getting back to sharing our news with people, it makes me feel like they will think, "Oh, she's pregnant again.  I wonder if that is a good idea?  I wonder if she'll lose this baby as well?"  I am sure they have more important stuff to think about, but this is just one of my fears.  A minor one, but a fear nonetheless.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Amy Klein's Blog

Have any of you followed Amy Klein's blog on the NY Times website over the last few years?  She's been writing "Fertility Diary" and today wrote a heartbreaking update about the five embryos she got from her last round of IVF and how all of them are genetically abnormal.  I obviously don't know Amy, but I've been following her journey for so long and my heart just breaks for her, the same way it does whenever I read another story of loss or of failed fertility treatments.  If you are going through IVF or other fertility treatments, you might give her posts a read -- she's a great writer and has quite a story.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Finding Out Gender after a Loss


With my DOR, if we make it to 12 weeks with this miracle pregnancy, we'll get a Maternit21 test done.  Part of the results include being able to find out the gender of the baby.  With L, we found out she was a girl just after 12 weeks (on my 33rd birthday, in fact).  I didn't care one way or the other before we found out... in fact, when my husband read the card and announced she was a girl, my first thought was "I hope I don't pass along my fertility issues to her."

But after losing L, I have a vision of what our family was going to look like with her in it.  When I think about our family, I think about us having a little girl.  Of course that little girl is L, so any future baby would be different, but the idea is there.  Truly, all I want is a healthy pregnancy and living baby at the end... but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to thinking a lot about the gender of this baby.  How will I feel if it is a boy?  Or if it is a girl? Should I find out early again?  Should we just be surprised if we get to that point?

Has anyone grappled with knowing the gender after a loss?  Any thoughts or advice on finding out vs. waiting?  Ultimately, I know that if I get to hold a living, breathing baby in just over 7 months, I won't care at all.  But in this time period of waiting and over-thinking, I'm seemingly obsessed.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has been through something similar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

9 Weeks


Oh, phew.  The little peanut (who looked more like a T-Rex today with tiny arms and legs) looked great today and was measuring on track at 9 weeks and 4 days with a heart rate of 176 bpm.  It was moving all around, which was just incredible to watch.  I will never stop being in awe of something so miraculous happening inside my body.  I was particularly nervous about this week's ultrasound... I'm not sure why, but I slept terribly last night and the appointment couldn't have come quickly enough.  My husband hasn't been coming to each of my weekly ultrasounds (which is totally fine), but this morning my dear friend was in the office for her 34 week visit so she came to the ultrasound and held my hand, which was so comforting.

So, one more week down  in the first trimester as we inch closer to the big 12-week scan and the MaterniT21 test, both of which will happen on July 3rd.

I'm separately having some trouble wrangling doctors and trying to decide who will monitor me throughout pregnancy when it comes to my clotting.  I saw a MFM who I love, but she is in an entirely different hospital system than my OB and the high-risk OB we will see.  It is fine to have the MFM outside of my hospital system for now, but if we make it further along in the pregnancy, it will complicate things and I think there is a risk in having so many doctors involved leaving no one ultimately "accountable" for making decisions.  That said, the high-risk OB wants to be less aggressive with my Lovenox dosing (for clotting), which I don't like.  We'll obviously just figure this out, but I'm feeling a bit stressed about it right now with so many moving parts, coordinating test results and getting them sent to the right place, etc.  My past medical experiences have taught me that I have to advocate for myself so I'm just trying to do that as much as possible.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Bit of Anxiety...

Admittedly, I'm having quite a bit of anxiety about my ultrasound tomorrow.  I haven't felt as nauseous the past few days, which I have convinced myself means that something is wrong.  I'll know whether this is the case within 24 hours, but I am totally distracted today by thoughts of what would be wrong, looking at miscarriage statistics, etc.  Very helpful, right?

Ever since my positive pregnancy test, I knew anxiety would be an issue.  It hasn't been as bad as it could be, but I find it overwhelming from time to time.  Every twinge in my belly leads me to believe that something is wrong.

In an effort to quell these fears, I kept very busy this weekend, including building these two chaise lounge chairs that our cat immediately enjoyed.  If relaxing in the sun in a chaise doesn't make me feel better, I don't know what would (well, maybe if I were at a beach while on the chair or still in the chair today instead of at work).  Anyway, I'm just venting a bit and counting the hours until 7:45 AM tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

8 Weeks


8 weeks and 4 days!  We saw a little heart beating away (173 bpm) and all development seems to be on track.  I'm still in a state of disbelief, although with each ultrasound I let myself (for better or for worse) get a bit more excited about the possibility that this might really be happening again and that maybe, just maybe, things will work out this time.

I've been struggling a lot with feeling like I am going to "jinx" myself by doing certain things.  Does anyone else ever feel this way?  I'm not normally a superstitious person, but there are a few things that I am either doing or avoiding for fear that doing the opposite will cause something terrible to happen (e.g., I'll lose this baby).  For example, I have a necklace that I got after we lost L that I now refuse not to wear.  I've somehow convinced myself that if I don't wear it one day, that will be it!  I know this is absurd, but sometimes the feeling that something seemingly unrelated could cause us to lose the baby is just overwhelming.  It doesn't always go with what I am wearing, so I've been trying to finagle a way to wear it each day but have it look less conspicuous.

So... am I just crazy?  Maybe I don't really want to hear your answer to that question.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

7 Weeks

Another sigh of relief for today... Little baby's heart is ticking away at 165 bpm and it's now measuring 7 weeks and 5 days.  I'm taking this one day at a time and today I am enjoying the good ultrasound and head to San Francisco for work! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On Motherhood


I just read a really lovely post on Darling about motherhood called "When Motherhood is Unknown."  
"Motherhood is absolutely one of the most precious gifts in this life. It is to be celebrated and revered. However, we also need to remember that, for some, the journey to motherhood doesn't often go as planned"
In the midst of loss and infertility, it is only natural to think about how unfair and terrible one's situation is.  But I try to remind myself that there are others going through a similar struggle for very different reasons, whether because they are unmarried and not wanting to have children alone, have battled or are battling an illness, or some other reason.  It is just another reminder to always be thankful for what you do have, even when that feels impossible.  

Separately, I really enjoy Darling magazine - it's worth checking out.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Return to Zero


26,000 stillbirths occur each year in the United States alone.  With a staggering statistic like that, I'm always amazed that prior to losing L, I didn't know anyone who had experienced stillbirth or even mentioned a friend / family member who had.  That's just one of the reasons I think a film like "Return to Zero" is so very necessary.

"Return to Zero" is a movie that just premiered on Lifetime about a couple who experience a stillbirth with their first child.  I had DVRed the movie when it premiered, but hadn't felt up for watching it until last night... and I am so glad that I did.  The films writer, director and producer, Sean Hanish, and his wife experienced a stillborn baby, which prompted him to write this script.  You can read an interview with him about the movie here and read his perspective on their loss here.

The movie touched on so many things that I think everyone experiences with a stillbirth.... all of the questions about what to do with your baby that you never thought you'd have to answer (holding him/her, funeral services, delivery, etc.), the awkward comments from people, the fact that friends are scared to see you and don't know what to say, the terrible depression that can occur afterward, how hard it is on your marriage, how terrifying the idea of being pregnant again is... I could go on and on.  I love Minnie Driver and thought she did a tremendous job playing the woman who loses her son.

I mentioned to my husband that I thought this was an important film for people to see so they could have some perspective.... he didn't necessarily agree with me and felt like, had this not happened to us, we most certainly wouldn't be watching this movie.  He may be right that we wouldn't seek out a movie like this, but I do think it makes one more compassionate and understanding.

There is also a book inspired by the film that I ordered but have yet to read called Three Minus One. Has anyone read it?  I'm planning to start reading it this weekend.  Has anyone else seen the movie?  What did you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

6 Weeks


Some tears were shed (of relief?), but all looks good!  I'm measuring 6 weeks and 1 day and the blueberry-sized baby's heart was beating away at 133 bpm.  The u/s tech saw the fetal pole and the yolk sac so, for now, things look good.  I thought I'd feel some relief, but I don't... I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to take a deep, relaxing breath during this pregnancy, but it is good news for now.

Thankfully, my doctor has been with us through L's loss and suggested that I come for weekly ultrasounds for my peace of mind.  I may decide I don't need quite so many, but I've scheduled them through the 4th of July so I can go if I want to.

Also, my adjusted due date is my husband's birthday.  Fingers crossed.

Beta #4 and Ultrasound Day

Street art in Los Angeles

Call me crazy, but my OB did say I could come in for as many betas as I wanted to, so I went in again last week (I know) and my numbers looked great at 13,123.  I went in before leaving for a work trip to L.A., so between the trip and a weekend away for Memorial Day weekend, I haven't allowed myself much time to worry about today's ultrasound (in just one hour) until last night.

I'm nervous.  I couldn't sleep last night and I have played out every worst case scenario in my head over and over... no heartbeat, no baby, ectopic pregnancy, etc.  Knowing that things are out of my control doesn't stop me from worrying.

Separately, I have a friend with whom I shared my news who it turns out is also pregnant and about a week ahead of me.  She has been wonderfully supportive through the loss of L, but yesterday she sent me a long e-mail ranting about how they shared their news with her mother-in-law who immediately said they'd have to plan a baptism for January and started discussing details.  My friend wrote me about how she is stressed about the baptism now.  It took ALL of my willpower not to write back, "Maybe you should worry about a baptism after you have a baby that is born alive!"  It seemed quite premature to be "stressing out" (her words) about a baptism in week 7 of your pregnancy and, frankly, quite insensitive to e-mail me about it.  Even before we lost L, I didn't make any plans for the future or allow myself to consider things like that until later in the pregnancy.  Am I being terrible?  I don't know how to respond to her, but I think I need to say something to the effect that I am not the person to be sharing these concerns with given that we will make no plans for a baby until one is alive and in our arms.  Does anyone have any advice?  I probably should just ignore it but that isn't like me and I am trying to keep my life as stress-free as possible, including removing any personal "drama" that is causing me to be anxious/worry.

58 minutes and counting....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Beta #3


I made a big mistake and took another one of those Clearblue Advanced Pregnancy Test with Weeks Estimator tests last week.  Despite me already having had a HCG beta at 417 (which should trigger the "2+ weeks according to this study), I still got 1-2 weeks, which caused me to panic and head in for Beta #3 last Thursday.

Thankfully, it looked great at 1727!  I threw out the remaining weeks estimator test because they do nothing but induce panic.  Unfortunately, I can't have my six week scan to look for a heartbeat until the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day, I'm keeping busy this week (taking all of your advice), getting exercise (the photo above was taken on a trail run/hike), and planning a getaway with my husband for the long weekend.  I'm very tempted to go back in this week for another beta...

My mood has been dramatically better since the two good beta results last week.  I feel more like myself than I have since L died.  I both love how I feel and am terrified -- I know how low the low will be if this doesn't work out and that is so scary.  I love feeling like myself (or close to it) for the first time in months.  Don't get me wrong - I don't, for one second, assume this will work out, that I'll have a healthy and live baby, etc. - but the glimmer of hope has shifted my mood dramatically and I fear the swing the other way.

In the meantime, I finished The Goldfinch and moved onto Delicious by Ruth Reichl, which is a light-hearted, easy, fun read -- just what I need.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Too Good to be True

My HCG yesterday was 417 and my progesterone was 28.  I don't quite know how to feel about this.  Obviously, on some level, I am thrilled.  I was 2 weeks from starting IVF, a process which I have been told repeatedly is unlikely to work for me given my AMH, resting follicle count, etc.  I am 5 months post-stillbirth of my daughter.  This is what we desperately want.

But I am so scared.  I'm scared of miscarriage.  I'm scared of no heartbeat.  I'm scared of how much my spirits have lifted in the last few days and how I know what I'll feel like if something goes wrong.  I know I'll survive, but I'm terrified.

Does anyone have any tips for surviving early pregnancy after a loss?  I'm trying to keep busy, keep exercising, stay focused at work, plan weekend getaways, and to distract myself.  I'd love any tips or advice anyone has...
 
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