Our Girls

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Monday, March 29, 2010

second baby's first ultrasound

Photos here.


I have been looking forward to today for 3 weeks... well actually... for 8 months. But 3 weeks since the appointment was made I was counting the days. The ultrasound tech and room were both different from when we lost Kathlyn, but I know that tech remembers me too. She was training the new one. (The one who delivered the news no one should ever have to hear, doesnt work there anymore.) Despite the fact that she was training, she said absolutely nothing the entire actual scan. I was shaking so hard the tissue paper under me was rattling.

Last year, at my first ultrasound, I was 6 weeks, she zoomed right in on the baby, and immediately the heartbeat, which was 110. She said "that's good, that will go up." She measured the baby, labeled her as "baby" and differentiated the yolk sac.

This time, I saw a perfect circle, but she grazed right over it and measured my ovaries about 4 times each. I was sure the baby was dead. Why focus on the ovaries unless you were wondering what went wrong. She zoomed back in on the baby, zoomed in again, and again, and again, as if she was looking for something more that just the sac, and it felt like a million years until I saw the heartbeat. She clicked on "early gestation." then she clicked on "HR" (heartrate) and the little EKG strip appeared at the bottom for her to measure the beats. (The strip I so desperately looked for on July 30, 11am, with Kathlyn, and never saw.) The first measure was 86.

Fuck.

The second measure, 94. She stopped the ultrasound, I say again, after absolutely NO words of reassurance, because she had none.

She printed the pictures, didn't give me one, and said "the baby is measuring behind and the heartbeat is low... so we'll see what the doctor says." I hugged John and he tried to tell me not to panic. We went into the next room and I burst into tears and laid down, thinking WHY?! WHY GOD?! WHY AGAIN!? HAVENT I BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH ADVERSITY?! WHY CANT IT JUST BE OK THIS TIME?! I was so sad I didn't get a picture and was thinking the worst must be about to happen; but not that I'm not used to having pictures of my dead child all over the house already. I still want a picture if the baby dies!

I know Dr. Finlon was seeing everyone else so he could see me last like they always do. He came in, shook John's hand, and gave me a hug, and handed me my picture, which is a blob but it's MY blob and I'm in love with it. He said "we know this is going to be a rollercoaster the whole time." He told me he wasnt blowing smoke, that he acknowledges and understands the anxiety, but that it's just that I'm 6 weeks instead of 7, the heartrate should be over 100 but we're close, and the shape and size look normal. (sometimes the sac or baby can look "distorted" or something.) He just expects to see one week normal growth next week when I have another scan, and at that time we'll set the accurate due date based on the two scans. He said he won't lie or give false hope, that I have the same 15-20% miscarrage risk that everyone has. My "unfortunate obstetric history" doesnt raise my risk for miscarriage, and miscarriage and stillbirth happen for different reasons (most of which are unknown.) I forgot to ask if my HCG or progesterone should or could be redrawn to make sure they're in the right direction, and I forgot to get my pap that was due. I think he just knew I'd been through enough and we can do it next week. A pap smear! Just what I want for my 30th birthday! I will take 1000 pap smears every birthday for the rest of my life, over a miscarriage. I also forgot most of my questions, the only one I remembered was the stupid "ask a doctor before taking these PRENATAL vitamins if you are pregnant." Of course, it's fine.

Part of the problem with the tech, was that based on my last period, I was due Oct 31, so she looked at that and saw that I should be 9 weeks, and saw this tiny 6 week size baby. She didnt know what we and the doctors already know... that we know that's inaccurate because we know I ovulated much later than that.

So That's part of why she scared me and was so quiet... because SHE was probably scared too.


I told him I was impressed the other day when I called with a question, and one of the doctors I dont know as well was the one to answer, but she made it clear that she was familiar with my case right away. I am so attached to my favorite two or three doctors, and I told him that, but that I was happy to see was familiar with my case too, and he said "they all are." It's a huge practice... so that is very good to know. When scheduling my next appointment, he wrote a request for me to see him or the other favorite specifically. Last time, I just saw whoever was on. It's comforting to know they'll let me see who I want, but also that I'm in good hands with the others too.

Such an emotional day... but what else is new...

Keep growing my little cherry... Mommy loves you so much!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

time away

We had a nice time in Charleston this weekend. It's nice to get away from work, the house, the chores, and spend some quality time with our friends and our faith. For the first time in 8 months, I did not resent the sun. I found on the way home though, as it poured rain, for that to be comforting too.

I honestly think if I wasnt pregnant, I would not have enjoyed myself. At all. Because Charleston on the Church Marriage Retreat was constant reminders of my pregnancy last year. This was supposed to be the first time we left Kathlyn overnight. If I had no prospects of that hope again, I would have been devastated. I "announced" my pregnancy, again like last year, as we went around the room to introduce ourselves, even though in that church, my story pretty much preceeds me. Regardless, I got a round of applause. My pastor told me when I saw him again today that I have more people praying for me than maybe he's known anyone to ever be prayed for, and that means a lot coming from such a popular pastor.

It was very different to have just the adults in my church and none of the babies. I love those babies from the bottom of my broken heart... to not have them there feels very strange. I would say part of me was relieved... it wasnt just babies everywhere and a reminder that mine is missing while the others are being fawned over and passed around (by me included, I love to hold them too). But then again, it's a horrible reminder that she's missing, when they're ALL missing. What would it be like without any of them? It would be nice for maybe a day to just be the adults, but it's just not the same. It's so much more terrible than it is a relief... LIFE IS NOT THE SAME WITHOUT THE BABIES.

This is the life I have ahead of me. I missed those three baby girls, someone else's children, over one weekend; imagine the emptiness in my heart every day for as long as I live, without my own flesh and blood.

What's it going to be like, when I have one of my own (pretty please!??!?!), and yet one is still missing. It's as they all say, the baby-bereaved: Life is just full of sad-happy moments. So is the joy to finally raise a crying, hungry, pooping, living child, and yet a minutely reminder of what was missed the first time around.

I am waiting impatiently for... well, pretty much every milestone in pregnancy. I want to see my baby's heartbeat, even though I'm quite sure it will be the same room where I saw my first baby's heart, but not beating. I want to know what the gender is. I want to know that it's healthy. I want to see the belly growing. I want to feel this baby kick, and kick, and kick, and always kick so I never have to wonder if it's alive. This baby has already been named (not telling), although pending approval from Daddy on the new girl's name. We had a name picked out, quite a lovely one, but a movie coming out soon, the star will be named the gorgeous, exotic, never-heard name that I had picked out for the middle. I wanted it to be something no one had ever known anyone with that name... now it's gonna be "oooohhh! after the girl in that movie!!!" Actually, no. And that's part of the reason we're not telling the name ahead of time, because I got too many unsolicited opinions on my names. I want to do some of the things differently this time... so the name will just be between us.

I have pictures to show, and a sweet story about writing Kathlyn's name in the sand in Charleston, but uploading is a pain and I don't feel like it right now. I'm too busy being worried.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

counting

8 more sleeps until I see my new baby. 217 or less until I hold her. i do not know the countdown to seeing my first baby, and i never will until the countdown's over.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

bloodwork update

hcg almost 1000! good news! Dr. C called it "a great rise!" my sweet secondborn is growing ♥

ride, part two

I wrote a note on September 2 that I consider to be one of my best, called "ride". Anytime someone wants to read my entries who hasnt before, and I'm telling them that it's very long, I always alert them to a few of my favorites and that's always one of them.

John and I went on the bike again for the first time this season. It's obviously way too cold in the winter. I was reminded of that ride we took in September, and how we are one on the bike. I said in that entry "if he dies, I die." As he guided the bike out of the garage, it crossed my mind, as it often does, how easily he could die on that thing. And that this time, if he crashed, I would die too. I seem to be preoccupied with (and, terrified of) the subject. At the risk of upsetting a few of you (ok, maybe a lot of you), I dont think I'd really mind if I died, but the idea of John or this new baby dying is something I absolutely will not be able to bear. So there is a sense of relief that I was getting on the bike with him: if he dies, I die too. As opposed to the many times he rides on the bike without me: he dies alone.

I am "saying" this so matter-of-factly, as if in a normal every day conversation about groceries or housework. Just an every day thing. I'm terrified of it happening, but I understand the reality that none of us are safe. My two greatest losses in life, I had absolutely zero time to prepare for. They snuck up on med and attacked without warning. Imagine surviving a strike of lightning or getting hit by a train that you didn't see coming.

I always love the motorcycle rides... I'm alone with my husband and the wind and sky. I don't have to do anything, and I can think about whatever I want or nothing at all. I "wrote" most of the original "ride" while I was on the bike. This time, it was mostly just song lyrics running through my head.. things Kathlyn might be saying to me.

It was March 9, the day of that ride. March 9, exactly one year from the day we found out we were having a little girl. There was a time when I would have had to write about that on the very day, to mark the one year milestone, but I just didnt get to it. After the ride, dinner with friends, I was simply exhausted and went to bed. I definitely suffer from the early pregnancy fatigue.

I suppose that's another sign of my healing, that I dont have to mention the anniversary of finding out we would be buying a lot of pink, until a few days have passed.

But, I saw my doctor today, the second time this week, and he gave me yet another reason to love him. (My favorite doctor, by the way, the different one from who I saw the other day, the one who's going to Iraq.) He asked how I was feeling about everything, the pregnancy, my anxiety, etc, and I told him that the depression still finds its way to the surface. I said how everyone notices and points out how much better I'm doing and how much better I look, and with the therapy and the new pregnancy, everything must be ok now, right? His response was something I've said myself... and something that is extremely sensitive and compassionate and totally surprising coming from a man: he said "they do that because they WANT you to feel better, because they care about you, but also because it's MUCH easier on THEM if you're better now. It's easier to handle." Wow,seriously, what do I need a therapist for?? Can't I just have him?

I know I *am* doing better. He pointed it out too, and the other doctor had told him already, "she looks great" and he was so happy to see it for himself. I told him I was so sad that he was leaving, how I wanted him and the other doctor (the one I saw Monday) to do my c-section and he said "yea, I know, we wanted that too" which is also just so nice to hear. It means so much to me that he's upset that he'll miss the birth too. I love that they've already discussed it behind the scenes and I can tell that they really care about me. He assured me that even though he's leaving, he's still going to be the one making the plan for me, and the other doctors will follow it after he leaves.

He also said that my blood levels came back consistent with very early pregnancy, and he was reassured that there would have been no reason to see anything on ultrasound on Monday. It was redrawn today to make sure it is still rising, so it was good that I was neurotic and wanted to go back 2 days later! My progesterone level came back slightly low. Nothing that would concern him too much, but for me, he's taking extra extra precautions, so he gave me the choice for a progesterone suppplement, if I wanted it, and of course I said yes, because it will significantly decrease my chances of miscarriage. When I went to pick it up, it was a whopping $365 per month, for 3 months. I said to the pharmacist, knowing full well it wasnt her doing, "JEEZ! This is so my baby doesnt die!! How could it not be covered?!" After 17 phone calls, I'm going to be taking a different brand that I have to drive an hour to a freakin apothecary to get. Anything for the well being of my baby, I would have paid the $1000 if I had to, but it just goes right along with my path where nothing is easy. In the process of all the phone calls and trying to return the diamond-studded progesterone, I also locked my keys in the car. In the rain. Uh huh.

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and messages of support. Along the same lines of "thinking I'm all better because it's easier that way", I have noticed a lot of people coming back out of the woodwork to congratulate me. I don't really feel like congratulations are in order yet, I want to be congratulated when I know I get to bring the baby home, but I appreciate it anyway. It's what you say when someone gets pregnant, and it's what you say again when the baby is born, unless the baby dies. Then, unfortunately sometimes for the parents, you say nothing at all. I also appreciate so many of you who have apologized and recognized that you havent said much until there was something happy to talk about again. I know it's not easy, not for the bereaved, and not for those who dont know WHAT to say, and especially a bit impersonal if the only real way you had to contact me was on facebook. I just wish I would have known you were praying for me all along. There were so many times I felt so alone, and yet I had so many people praying for me that I didnt even know about.

My baby died for no reason, you all know how strongly I feel about that. I feel just as strongly that beauty can come ashes. So I'm telling you this with the kindest sincerity: when someone dies, and you're afraid to say the wrong thing... just simply say "I'm sorry, I'm thinking of you." You can even say "I dont know what else to say!" It's not uncomfortable for the person you're saying it to, even if it's uncomfortable for you.

Two and a half more weeks until my next scan, where hopefully the heartbeat will be visible. And just a few more hours until my bloodwork comes in again.. hopefully with good news that the levels are rising.


Tonight's freakout: a crumb sized dot of superglue on my finger. Again, can't you just see it on the American Journal of Obstetrics Full term stillbirth linked to drop of superglue on mother's finger at 5 weeks gestation

Buckle up; gonna be a bumpy ride.

Motorcycles don't have seatbelts..

Monday, March 8, 2010

back and forth

On Friday when I got home from work, I really dont know what made me decide to take a pregnancy test. John was in bed having trouble sleeping, and I was kneeling on the bathroom floor squinting at the test when the faint little 2nd pink line appeared and I think my reaction was that I laughed. I went to our room to tell him, and he gave me a thumbs up. Everyone has been asking "what did John say?!" and I guess he is just a man of few words when it comes to emotional sentiments. The most profound and emotional thing he said was later, when I asked "is this too good to be true? do you believe there will be a baby in our house this year?", he said "seeing is believing." So I know he's nervous and cautious too. When he got home from work, he said he had told a few of his coworkers... that to me, was proof that he's excited too.

I'm having a hard time trusting this whole thing... John hit it square on when he said "seeing is believing." How can I possibly buy anything for this new baby when there is no guarantee that s/he'll come home with us this time? How can I possibly NOT buy anything though... if my sweet little cherry baby were to die (please God, no!) and I have a million things for Kathlyn in the house and nothing for that baby?? That's just as heartbreaking. I am being pulled in so many directions. I remember sitting in the hospital bed on July 31, and maybe even on the 30th before I delivered, that I "won't be able to do this again." "This" referring to being pregnant. THIS. How am I doing THIS?! It's been less than 4 days. Time is creeping by.

I made a few calls after I found out. I had just worked the entire night, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. My mom burst into tears. My friends mostly screamed and said "are you serious?!" I got a lot of congratulations, but I wish those were actually in order. I remember another mom wanting to say, Congratulations for what?

On the way to the doctor today, John and I exchanged some banter in the car and I caught myself laughing. What a sad thing, when you notice your own laughter because its occurances are so few and far between. I was wondering if John was thinking it is nice to have his wife back. That's what everyone said for weeks.. that John lost his baby and most of his wife. At the doctor's office, everyone smiles at me and points outloud that I'm smiling too. For awhile there, that occurance, especially in that office, was also very few and far between. They are all so happy for me. It seems that hippa does not apply to me (I dont mind at all, prefer it that way) and the news of my pregnancy has spread through that office like wildfire. Except to that lab technician, who asked if this was my first pregnancy. I said no, second. And that was the end of the conversation. Phew.

But I'm still fighting this depression. If I had any worries myself (and I admit that I did) that a new pregnancy would mean a replacement baby, I don't have to worry about that anymore. (How nice to scratch ONE worry off the list). It is tearing me apart because when I realize it's *not* a replacement baby, I think to myself "but I want Kathlyn!" And then I have the guilt that I'm rejecting my new baby. I love this baby too! I want them both! It's all just so back and forth all the time. I'm sleeping a lot again, which is expected in early pregnancy, but I know my mind needs the break too.

I also know this is not a replacement baby that just causes "all to be well now" because the depression and aches for Kathlyn are still very prominent. I "forget" that I'm pregnant, and at times decide I just don't feel like getting up or doing anything. I'm not interested in cleaning or going out or exercising or playing with the dogs or spending time with John. 70 degrees and sunny? So? What's your point? Am I supposed to enjoy 70 degrees and sunny? Because I really don't care. The feelings of obligation to enjoy 70 degrees and sunny just make me want to pull the covers over my head and sleep more. I still prefer the rain. My therapy, my family, my friends, going back to work, my meds, my new baby, not a single one of them cures my grief for my baby girl. It's still not ok that she died, and it never will be. It's still a daily battle for me.

This pregnancy has already been starkly different from the first one. Two hours after I found out... I proceeded to throw up all over the bathroom. This was not pregnancy nausea and vomiting though, I think this was something I caught from work.. I haven't thrown up in seriously 10 years, since I was at Rutgers. I have never thrown up from drinking, never caught a stomach bug from the hospital, never threw up in Katie's pregnancy... but I think my immune defenses are down and that's why this happened. Was that a preview to the next 33 weeks? I hope not. That was miserable. Not quite as miserable, but still totally sucks, is the sinus infection I've also caught from work. I recognize this mucus, I've been suctioning it out of patients' trachs for 2 weeks and now it's in my own nose. Sorry for the visual, but my coworkers understand. What a lovely way to remember the day I found out I was pregnant with my little rainbow-after-the-storm baby.. fluids coming out every opening of my body.

If you're still reading after all that, I know you're in it for the long haul.. the back and forth, the good, the bad, the ugly. Be warned, I'm a nurse, I'm depressed, I have a dead baby, and absolutely no modesty left. Fair game for pretty much anything.


Based on my last period, my due date would be October 31.. Halloween. The day of the dead. Thanks, but no thanks. No more tricks for me, I've earned the treat. I know it's not accurate anyway, because my ovulation was delayed, so I'm guessing my due date is more like Nov 14. My doctor knew I'd still want to be seen today though, so he let me come in and even let me have an ultrasound, which he performed himself.

That room. That was the room. The last time I was in that room, my life turned upside down, and hasn't flipped back yet. I can still see my remains splattered on the floor. Stained. I had to relive that moment today. This was the table I laid on. That was the wand that couldn't picture my baby's heart beating. That was the chair my mom was sitting in. This was the pillow. That was the screen I stared at, hoping.

I wondered if I should tell my doctor that was the same room. There are actually two u/s rooms.

I didn't mention it.

I wonder if he thought of it himself?

It doesn't matter if he did or not. He is amazing. He tolerates my millions of questions and understands why I ask them even though I know the answer to most of them. Such as, is it ok to use bacitracin? Seriously. Who THINKS of that?! Can you just see it now: Full term Stillbirth linked to Triple Antibiotic Ointment use During Pregnancy. as the latest article in the American Journal of Obstetrics.

The most comforting thing he said was about how he knows it's not quite to the same magnitude, but that he and the rest of the team of doctors are nervous just as I am. They want so badly for it to work out too, so they will make a plan together and do everything they can to ensure it works out differently this time.

Part of me is so heartbroken though, because the doctor I saw today is actually my second favorite (a close second, though) even though he's the one who delivered Kathlyn. My true favorite wasnt available today, but I better get used to it because he's going to be deployed to Iraq when I deliver! :( :( :( When the doctor today told me that, he added "and I'm not going to Iraq to deliver your baby" which is hilarious because I had already said a few months ago to one of the nurses "if he's going to Iraq, I'm going with him!" so I guess this doctor sensed that I might joke like that! I really wanted both of them to deliver since there are always two during a c-section, so I will have to pick someone else as my second doctor instead. John, my wonderful man of few words, said "I really think he wants to deliver anyway, since he did last time and it was so hard, he wants to give us a happier delivery." I have to agree with that, I think this doctor would be more than honored to deliver me again. And I'm definitely going to let him, I just cannot help that my heart literally aches when I think about my true favorite not being here. I love him, I trust him, I wanted to share this experience with him, so I'm very sad. I still want to see him as much as possible before he leaves and I want him involved in as much planning and decision making as possible.

There wasn't anything to see on ultrasound, which of course makes me nervous. But I should know better. I'm only 4 weeks, maybe less, so I knew we wouldnt see a heartbeat today, but I was hoping to see SOMETHING! But there was just barely something that might be the beginnings of a sac. And he said everything else looks healthy, which is nice to hear after a c-section. If my bloodwork numbers come out on the low side, that will also indicate that I'm very early in pregnancy and there's no reason to think there'd be anything to see today. I have another scan in 3 weeks.. I will probably be 7 weeks at that point. Last time at 6 weeks, we saw the heartbeat.

It will be a long, long 3 weeks. And then 30 more after that. Praying more often than every second.

appointment later today

When saw my doc's office calling, I was confused, not expecting a call before my appt.. on the other end was one of the RNs.. I rubbed my tired eyes, barely said "hello?" and I hear a very squeaky and excited "BETH!" They are so happy for me. She says I get an ultrasound today! sweet! performed by the actual DOCTOR no less!... Way, way too high a price I paid, but already I see such awesome, heartfelt, compassionate, comprehensive and full service in this pregnancy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

another cherry....

I can only imagine the national and even worldwide prayer chain I am about to unveil...


I'm pregnant.


I have so much to say. It has begun already. The cautious excitement. The planning laced with "if" this and "if" that. I asked my husband if he believed there would be a baby in the house this year... he said "seeing is believing."

I have an appointment tomorrow even though I think I'm only 4 weeks, possibly due Nov 14. I get my 2010 baby. (Hopefully?) I got my wish to be pregnant by my church's marriage retreat. Last year on the retreat, I was 17 weeks, and 3 days away from finding out the gender.

I know I'm announcing way early... but the first trimester safety means nothing to me. I know babies can die at any time. And I'd rather have the support and prayers than be secretive. There's no way I can be secretive at work either... I need my coworkers know that I need to avoid the sickest contagious patients now.

How do I do this?!

A hope and a prayer. Lots of em. And lots of doctor visits..

Dear God, get me through this.. and thank You!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Updates

Feb 15, my progesterone level was 0.6, so I did not ovulate. A week later, Feb 22, it was 7.8, which means I did.

My husband and I have been very busy.. both before and after Feb 22.

Hoping for a BFP later this week...