06 December 2011

Did God Abandon Us?

In my last post, I talked about having a second surgery to repair my uterus and taking some time to refocus. To continue...

We moved to Lafayette in April because it seemed very clear that God was moving us. My husband had a much better job to move to, and we were offered a great relocation package that would help us sell and buy a home and put us up in temporary living for up to three months. We put our Texas house on the market with the expectation that it would sell very quickly, and that we would break even financially because we were confident that God would come through since he was moving us.

The first week of May, we lost our baby Gabriel with a tubal pregnancy, thus affecting my future fertility. Our loss was devastating and discouraging. Then a couple of months on the market, we discovered that our home in Texas was not generating much interest. I became concerned because I realized that our time in temporary living was flying by. We were going to have to move out before the middle of July. And we didn't have anywhere to go...

And then, in the middle of June, I got a call from a friend in Texas who was checking in on our house every couple weeks. She called to tell me to get a plumber there ASAP. I frantically called a plumber, my husband, my parents for prayer, and my friend back to ask her how bad it was. Apparently, water had been shooting out of one of our upstairs bathroom sinks and had flooded half of the upstairs and had leaked into the downstairs. I packed a bag, put Abigail in the van, and started out the 4-hour drive back to Texas.

I spent the drive praying and on the phone. The plumber fixed the problem, but also said that we needed to have a drying company come out. I think that was when I realized that this was not going to just be a clean-up job. I arrived at the house to find the kitchen counters swollen, the hard wood floor in the living room swollen, about 1/4 of the walls swollen, the bathroom completely saturated, and carpet on both levels soaked and discolored. And I cried.

Since all of our furniture was still at the house, we were very fortunate that none of it was damaged. We were also fortunate that we didn't have any mold. In total, though, the insurance claim was more than $25K.
 
Initially, I handled all of this pretty well, considering. But after I started getting bills, and our mortgage company messed up getting us the settlement money to pay the contractors. Well ....that's when I started to fall apart.


 Our baby was gone, and we couldn't even start trying again for probably another month, with even less fertility than when I had two fallopian tubes. We had now lost almost $10K in mortgage, utilities, and deductibles and additional repairs for a house we weren't selling. My daughter, whom I had been cloth diapering since infancy was now in disposables full-time, and I was feeding her processed foods and fast food because of the chaos of our lives. She had been sleeping in a Pack-N-Play for three months now with no end in sight, and I was not even sure where we were going to live in a month. The house that we had decided to build wasn't going to be ready until August, and I was pretty sure we couldn't really afford it anyway, so we bailed on it and had to start looking again. Everything was a mess.

Where was God? Had he abandoned us? Was this move a move out of His will? What did we do wrong?

All of these thoughts were spinning in my mind, and I was dealing with a lot of anger. 

What is worse was that I had just started writing this blog. I was in the process of telling the story of our struggle with infertility and our first pregnancy and subsequent loss. I was writing this blog so I could help other women with these struggles see that they were not alone in their pain, and that God could bring victory even when you feel you are in the most desperate situation possible. How could I reach out to other women and how could I talk about victory when I was angry at God and questioning whether he even cared about me anymore?

On July 26-27, I was texting a close friend of mine about my frustration with God and my insecurities about whether we would ever be blessed again. And then on July 27, while I was still frustrated and feeling abandoned, I wrote the blog "Counseling and The Promise". My friend wrote to me later and basically called me out for questioning God after He had given me such a beautiful promise.

And I began to pray for God to change my heart and make me more grateful for the blessings He had already given me. A few days later, I woke up refreshed and feeling relieved. I was grateful for my husband, and for Abigail. I was grateful for a job that my husband loves, and that we had the ability to start over in our house hunt. I was grateful that we had this temporary apartment for another couple of weeks because of an extension we had been granted. And I was grateful for the children God was going to bless us with. The only thing that had really changed was my attitude, and it made such an amazing difference in my whole family's lives. 

01 December 2011

Another surgery (3rd this year)

In my last post, I talked about deciding to go to a new fertility specialist after the loss of our baby to a tubal pregnancy. To continue ...

So we went to the fertility specialist, only about a week after losing our baby Gabriel and my left fallopian tube to a tubal pregnancy. Of course, we knew that we were not going to immediately pursue another pregnancy, but we wanted to make a plan. I also had some fear in my mind that we could have more tubal pregnancies because of my new increased chances of having another. My husband hoped that we would get pregnant without assistance this time, and I did as well. The visit to the fertility doc was to get my system checked and cleared for another pregnancy over the next couple of months.

He recommended that we do a full check on both me and my husband to be sure everything was working properly. Hubby's test was just a semen analysis, which we had refused during previous checkups because we knew he didn't have any issues. I underwent two blood tests and another HSG, which is an x-ray of my uterine cavity while saline and iodine is injected through the cervix. This was the test that my last fertility doc had done after the surgery in January that was supposed to repair my uterine septum. I already knew that some of the septum was still left in the uterus, but they were not able to measure the amount left over.

Since the last fertility doctor had recommended going back in and removing the remaining septum, and we had seriously considered it, my mind was already thinking that it may be a good idea. So before I went in to have the HSG, I decided that if it was any bigger than 1cm, I would have surgery again. The doctor said it was about 1.5 cm, and so we decided to have the remaining septum removed while waiting to be able to get pregnant again.

And so, my third pelvic surgery in 6 months was performed the Friday before July 4. This time it was a laparoscopy, 3 holes in my tummy for cameras, lights and air, and a hysteroscopy, which goes up through the cervix and performs the surgery. The surgery was a complete success.

The recovery was not very bad at all. I had a few days with pain, and about a week of low energy and low activity. I also had to refrain from picking Abigail up for 2 full weeks though, which is complicated and difficult when you are a full-time mom of a 1-year-old!

The coolest thing that happened while I was laid up from surgery was that my new friends in Lafayette poured out so much love on me and my family. I had joined a group called M.O.P.S., Mothers of Preschoolers, just a few weeks before, and we had also found a great church, so we were starting to get to know some people. The ladies in my M.O.P.S. group were amazing! They brought us dinners for a week, and even ran to my aid when my husband got called into work while Abi was napping and I couldn't get her out of her pack-n-play. I was amazed at the love shown to me by people I had just met.

I decided to re-focus the attention that I had been spending trying to get and stay pregnant. I started focusing more on my precious little girl and helping her develop into the intelligent, happy little princess she was becoming. I also started researching adoption and planning for our move into the new house that was being built. We were waiting two months after the surgery before we could start pursuing fertility methods to get pregnant again according to the fertility doc's instructions. So I was in a bit of a holding pattern, and it was a great time of recovery and restoration.

15 November 2011

To RE or Not To RE

In my last post, I described my frustration at having our third pregnancy end with a surgery to remove my fallopian tube. To continue ...

After I was checked out by the new OBGYN, I got a call from his nurse letting me know that I would not be able to get in to see the new fertility specialist until August. I was pretty disappointed. Once they scheduled that appointment, I got a call from the fertility specialist (RE)'s office to let me know that I needed to complete a questionnaire online. They also told me that if I completed the questionnaire, I would immediately be placed on a waiting list for the next cancellation. So I completed the questionnaire that day!

I just really wanted to get in to see the RE as soon as possible to start making a plan for how to proceed from there. I was still going to have weekly blood draws to monitor the decrease in my HCG (pregnancy hormone), and I would be required to prevent pregnancy until it was negative ( <10). So either way, I wasn't going to be able to immediately get pregnant. But I just wanted to map the future. Unfortunately, my husband did not share my enthusiasm to move on. (Keep in mind that it was only days after my surgery.) He was not 100% comfortable with moving forward, especially with fertility efforts.

The following morning, the RE's office called me to let me know that I could come in that week! I was excited that I would be able to meet with the new doctor and hopefully make a plan for how to proceed from here. My husband was supposed to go with me, but I wasn't sure if he would support me going at all. He was comfortable with both of us going, but not with pursuing another pregnancy via fertility methods ...at least not yet.

It seemed to me that he was very down on the idea of fertility medicine altogether, and he wouldn't explain exactly why. He just told me that he felt like God was going to restore our pregnancy and that he didn't want to use fertility methods yet. He questioned whether I had faith that God could get us pregnant without fertility medicine. He also asked me if I could be happy with just him and Abigail if God never blessed us with another child.

I was so hurt for so many reasons:

  • I felt like my husband blamed fertility methods for the loss of our baby. It seemed like he may have never been comfortable with our fertility pursuits, despite his willingness to go ahead with all of it. I was afraid that he blamed me for our loss because of the fertility medicine.
  • I didn't think we shared the same desires for a large family anymore, and I was afraid we were growing apart.
  • I definitely believed that God could get us pregnant how ever He wanted to, but I felt peace that God was using fertility treatments in our case.
  • I couldn't believe he questioned whether I could be happy with just him and Abigail. I love my little family of 3, and I was perfectly satisfied with my family. I just know that I have a promise of 6 and that God is not done with me yet. 
I began to realize over the next few weeks that my husband was just very grateful that I was alive after our life-threatening tubal pregnancy, and he was afraid that I was becoming obsessed with having more children. And I agree that I was definitely too focused on growing our family. 

I also figured out that I was feeling guilty. I felt like I didn't deserve to be a full-time wife and mom if I only had one child to take care of. Now, those of you who have only one child understand that it is a full-time job to take care of a child and a home. But I still felt like my husband might feel like I was a slacker since I didn't have several children. Part of the reason I felt this was was that I was constantly comparing myself to his mother. She had her first 3 children very close together and raised 5 children altogether. She managed all of this while earning their devotion and respect. He holds her in such high regard, she had to have been a wonderful  mother. I felt like I would never earn my husband's devotion and respect unless I could prove to him that I could be an amazing mother too. 

My husband does not hold me to nearly as high a standard as I apparently hold myself. He also DOES share my desire for as many children as God will bless us with. I think he was just trying to protect me.

And that's when I realized that I really needed to get over my insecurities. My family loves me so much, and I didn't have to have any children to earn their love. And more importantly, God knows me, and he gave me the desires of my heart. My life is already in full swing, and I believe that God has promised me 6 children. I will just keep moving forward and pursuing the desires of my heart with God's help and with the support of my family.



02 November 2011

Anger and Doubt

In my last post, I described the night after losing our baby Gabriel to an ectopic pregnancy. To continue ...

The next morning, I called my husband to come get me from the hospital, and he arrived a couple of hours later. He took me to our house that was for sale and went to the airport to pick up my mom, who was coming to take care of me and Abi while I recovered from surgery. My husband wore a shirt that read "I LOVE MY WIFE!", and it meant so much to me. Once my friends had brought Abi to our house in Texas, and my husband arrived with my mom, pain medicine and rental car, we got ready to leave for our apartment in Lafayette.

I was so happy to see Abi. I just wanted to pick her up and snuggle her, but I wasn't really in good enough condition to do more than give her a kiss on the forehead. I was also not really in good enough condition for a 4 hours ride on the interstate, but I didn't want my husband to miss work the next day. So we loaded up in our car and the rental car, and my mom and husband drove the family back to Lafayette to return the rental car and go to our apartment.

I already had a 1st OB appointment set up the following week with the doctor I had chosen in Lafayette, so I called them to let them know, through tears, that I was no longer pregnant but that I still needed to keep the appointment as a follow-up to surgery. The receptionist at the doctors' office put me on hold and when she came back, she informed me that the appointment was strictly an OB appointment. Since I wasn't pregnant, the doctor wouldn't be able to see me until September. And I began to weep while explaining to the receptionist that I still had to see a doctor within a week to follow up on my surgery and that it wasn't my fault that I lost the baby. She sounded panicked and set me up with a different doctor. I was so hurt by the experience that I really didn't even want to go see the new doctor, but I did.

The new doctor checked me over, and then set me up with the best local fertility specialist in Lafayette. Of course, we weren't ready to try again right away. I still had to recover from the surgery and mourn our loss, but I was definitely very eager to start trying again as soon as I was healthy enough to do so.

I guess I thought I would handle this loss much better because I had been through a loss before. But I began to feel intense anger a couple of days after the surgery. I had specifically prayed for the baby to implant in the perfect spot, repeatedly. And yet, God allowed our baby to implant in the worst possible place. I was so frustrated. I knew the whole time that God has a master plan, and He knew this was going to happen before we ever got pregnant. I guess I just didn't understand why He was allowing all of this to happen ....again.

Was God saving our baby from implanting on the leftover septum? Should I have had that surgery after all? I had so many questions .....and I still do have questions. I don't understand why God has allowed me to go through all of this.

I also questioned whether we were being punished for taking fertility measures. But we felt peace about fertility and taking that approach ..... But my husband also questioned the same thing. And a couple of family members made comments that implied that this wouldn't have happened if we hadn't taken fertility medicine. And again fame the guilt. Did I cause this by taking a medical approach to resolving our fertility issues? I was so frustrated and angry and most of all sad ....so sad.

I realized about a week after the surgery that my life had been saved. I had been misdiagnosed in Lafayette by the terrible doctor I had been seeing, and things just worked out perfectly for me to see the right doctor at the right time in Houston. I could have died had the baby grown much more. I was so grateful that I was still able to be a wife and Abi's mommy instead of dying from a ruptured fallopian tube.

I really began to question whether God's promise of six children was real. Despite three confirmations, I still wondered if I had made it all up in my mind. I mean, I was (and am) 33 years old. That doesn't leave a ton of time to have five more kids, especially if we continued to have all of these problems.  I also know that sometimes God directs our paths toward a future that we will never see here on Earth. Everything just seemed so uncertain all over again, and I wanted more than anything to just know what the future holds.

26 October 2011

Longest Night


In my last post, I talked about having surgery to resolve an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and waking to the news that the baby and my left tube were removed. To continue ...

When I woke up from the surgery, I was in excruciating pain. My husband was already on his way, but had not reached the hospital yet. My doctor told me that she had to take my tube, and that what they thought was twins was only one baby. I begged for pain medicine and wept.

Once he arrived, my husband was obviously extremely disappointed and exhausted, so he went home shortly after talking with the doctor by phone from the hospital recovery room. I was hurt that he didn't want to stay, but I also understood... He had just lost a child as well. And since I ended up sharing a room with another woman, he wouldn't have been allowed to stay with me anyway.

After I woke up completely from the surgery, I was pushing for more and more pain medicine. I had had several surgeries prior to this one, but only one that involved over 100 stitches was as painful upon waking. I was in recovery for over 3 hours while they waited for a room to open up for me, and during that time, they gave me so much pain medicine, my blood pressure started to decline. They had to keep urging me to take deep breaths to get my heart rate and blood pressure up. They had maxed out the IV pain meds they could give, so they started bringing me oral meds.

I think one of the worst things about that night was how awake I was. I was alone and in pain and so sad. My cell phone was dead, and I was not within reach of a room phone and wouldn't have known who to call and wake up anyway.

All I wanted was to see and hold and love on my precious baby girl. My sweet friend who had been watching her for the day was so gracious to keep her overnight that night so that we wouldn't have to worry about her. As upset as I was about losing Gabriel, the experience made me even more grateful for the beautiful child God had blessed us with already. I couldn't wait to see her.

Once they placed me in a room with another lady, I realized that she was also very awake. She had the TV on, and I was so glad! I wanted something to entertain my heavily medicated mind so I could think about something other than my loss. We had most of the room lights on as well. I could tell both of us were slipping in and out of drug-enduced naps though.

The night was creeping by SO slowly. I really don't know if it was because of the medicine, or because of the surprising and horrible experience I had just had. I am positive that it was the longest night of my life to date. I was shivering cold and itching like crazy from the pain medicine, so they gave me something for the itching, which made me nervous and antsy. Toward the end of the night, I realized that if I wanted to go home in the morning, I needed to ease off of the pain medicine, no matter how badly it hurt. And as I slowed down my requests for pain meds, time moved even slower because my pain was increasing.

The lady next to me asked me if I was ok sometime in the night, and I realized that I was crying out loud. I told her I was ok, but just very sad. She asked why, and I told her the short story of my 3rd pregnancy. She told me how sorry she was for my loss, and then she told me her story ...

A few days ago she had been 6 months pregnant, and all was well. She was feeling movements and getting prenatal care. But her baby passed away inside of her just a couple of days ago. They gave her the option of delivering the baby, but she was sure she couldn't handle the emotional part of that. So they surgically removed her baby, and she was there recovering from the surgery. I was so moved by her story and the fact that she had just given me condolences on my loss. She was very calm, and almost sounded numb. I couldn't even imagine .... It's hard enough to lose a desired baby 4 weeks after finding out I was pregnant. The emotional turmoil after carrying a baby for 6 months ....feeling him/her move, knowing the sex, and preparing the nursery ....it was unimaginable to me.

The next morning, while I waited for my husband to come get me, I heard the nurse come talk to the woman next to me while she was being discharged. The nurse explained to her that she would need to call a funeral home within 48 hours to make arrangements for her baby. And I tried to hold back my tears for her as I watched her walk out with her little leftover baby belly.

And that is when I really felt God moving my heart toward helping other women who have gone through the pain of infertility and pregnancy loss. There wasn't much I was willing to do that day, because I was in way too much pain. But I felt more than ever that morning that maybe God wanted me to do something to help others who were feeling the pain I had felt.

21 October 2011

Gabriel: Surgery, Praying, and Disappointment

In my last post, I told about finding out that our 3rd pregnancy was failing because they found two sacs, one with a heartbeat, in my left fallopian tube. To continue ...

After my doctor called and told me to go to the St. Lukes ER to be monitored until they could start surgery, I was terrified to call my husband or anyone else. I had a terrible fear that people would think I was choosing my life over the lives of our twin babies. I felt like people would question my faith and think I was giving up without a fight. I felt so much guilt already .... What would this feel like after it was over?

When I called my husband, I told him first and foremost that I needed him to get in the car and drive from Lafayette, where we were living, to Houston, where I would be having surgery. I told him that the pregnancy was definitely ectopic and that there were twins in my left tube. And I told him that I was being taken within a couple hours to surgery to have the babies, and possibly the tube removed. And before he could say anything, I asked him if I was making the right decision. His reply was a huge relief in light of my fears: "You don't really have a choice, do you?"

He was right. I didn't have a choice. The doctor never asked me if I wanted to have the babies removed. She said I had to have surgery immediately and that I could bleed out otherwise.

Then I called my dad and mom to tell them what was happening. My father is a pastor, so I asked him if he thought this was anything like having an abortion. He said this was not the same and that I should not feel any guilt. He also said that he would start praying and would contact others to have them pray, not only for my surgery, but for a miracle for my babies. My friend called a couple of other people for me as we drove the few blocks from one hospital to the other.

Now that I knew what was happening, the pain that I had been feeling in the left side of my belly was really starting to bother me. I had been dismissing it until now because I was so confident and at peace that this pregnancy was going to be ok. Now that it was the opposite of ok, I recognized the pain for what it was. And I embraced it because it was all that I would ever get to feel of my babies.

Once I had been prepared for surgery, I got to meet the surgeon and had a chance to ask all of my questions. Through my tears, I asked her some questions to which I already knew the answers:

  1. Was there any way they could move the babies into my uterus? Her answer was what I knew it would be, there was nothing they could do to keep the babies alive once they removed them from the dangerous place they were located. Once the bloodflow was stopped, the baby with the heartbeat would pass away, and the other one wouldn't be able to survive either.
  2. Was this like having an abortion in any way? Her answer was that this was in no way even remotely close to electing to have the pregnancy terminated. I did not have a choice. There was not any chance that the babies would survive even if I sacrificed my life for them.
  3. Could she save the babies for me to see so I could say goodbye? (I know how morbid this sounds, but I needed some type of significant closure.) She could not, but agreed to take as good of a picture as she could without damaging my body.
I also asked her to please try to save my tube and all of my reproductive organs if at all possible. And then she told me something I was not expecting. She said that it was possible that even though it looks just like twins, it might not be. It was possible that it was a baby and some other type of anomaly, like a cyst.

I called my husband and he told me that he was on his way. He also told me that there were hundreds of people praying for a miracle, and he sounded optimistic. He prayed for me over the phone, and I could tell that he believed we would have our miracle. 

And then I went back to surgery.

The next thing I remembered was intense pain. I woke up from the surgery in excruciating pain as they were wheeling me into recovery. As they pushed my bed into place in the recovery room, the surgeon came to my bedside and told me that there was only one baby, and that the other one was just a cyst in my ovary. She also told me that she had to take the tube because there was already significant damage. 

And I cried ...and cried ....and cried....

Partially because I was in terrible pain, but mostly because I was so disappointed.

I begged for the nurse to let my husband come back, and I didn't understand why they wouldn't. I also begged for more pain medicine. Every time I came to again, I would ask for my husband again through tears. And finally he came back. He had just gotten parked and updated from my two friends who were still waiting in the waiting room at like midnight or so on a weeknight. He had such a defeated look. I could see the disappointment and exhaustion all over him. And I wasn't surprised when he left me alone at the hospital that night. It took them almost 3 hours to get me into a room.

And so, that night, May 4, 2011, Jesus held our baby Gabriel in heaven.

Pictures of Gabriel in my tube

12 October 2011

One Heartbeat, Two Sacs, and an Emergency

In my last blog, I talked about driving back to Houston with Abi to get a second opinion on my pregnancy. To continue ...

My doctor in Lafayette had seemed very unsure of what was going on with my pregnancy. I needed to talk to a doctor I knew and trusted, and I trusted the doctor that delivered Abigail with my life and the life of my children. So the morning after I got to Houston, I left Abi with a dear friend for the day, and I went to work in my old office.

My doctor's appointment was in the afternoon, and another friend of mine came with me to the doctor's appointment in case the news wasn't the positive news I was hoping for. My hope was that the doctor would do an ultrasound and find the baby immediately, and that all would be fine. I was actually quite optimistic all morning, and in turn I was very productive at work.

When I saw my wonderful doctor that afternoon, I was a bit surprised that, after hearing how my numbers were increasing slowly, she immediately said that it sounded like an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. I hadn't even told her about the pain in my left side, and she hadn't even done an ultrasound, but she was pretty sure already. So she was not at all surprised when she did an ultrasound that she didn't couldn't find anything in my uterus. She scanned the tubes, but with the bedside ultrasound machine, she didn't see anything. She began explaining what would happen next ...

She would send me for an ultrasound in radiology so they could identify where in my body the baby had implanted. If they found a baby in a location other than my uterus, we would have to treat for an ectopic. There were two directions this could go: 1) If a gestational sac was found outside of the uterus, but no heartbeat, they would give me a chemotherapy drug that would destroy any fast-growing tissue in my body. That basically meant that the drug would kill my baby. It would also make me very very sick, and I would not be able to travel for a few days. 2)  If they found a fetus with a heartbeat anywhere outside of my uterus, I would have to have emergency surgery within a day or two. The surgery would remove the baby, and any part of my reproductive system that was damaged by the growth of the baby in the wrong place. The surgery would also end the  life of my baby.

But I kept thinking that there would be a third possible outcome: 3) They would find a set of twins who were just too small to be visible on a bedside US. I would be 4 or 5 weeks pregnant instead of 6 or 7, and I would get to go home with no issues.

A couple of hours later, I was laying on the table in the radiology department with an ultrasound wand inside of me. This was the first ultrasound I had ever had where they turned off the monitor on the wall so I couldn't see what was going on. It seemed to be taking forever. I must have been laying there for about 30 minutes before the ultrasound tech turned some nobs, and I started hearing a very familiar sound. It sounded like a very rapid heart beat, and I started to get very excited. I asked her what it was, and she hesitantly said, "That is just your blood pumping into your ovary." That's what she said, but I could tell she was not telling me everything. Soon after, the technician left, but told me not to get dressed in case the radiologist wanted to take a second look. And then I was alone with my friend, and I was very afraid.

The radiologist came in and explained to me that he had spoken to my doctor already, and that I would need to speak with her before leaving the medical center. He explained that they had found the pregnancy in or on my left fallopian tube, and that one of the babies had a heart beat.

One of the babies .....

One of the babies? How many were there? What did this mean?

He could see the shock on my face and quickly informed me that it was a twin pregnancy, but that one of the gestational sacs did not have a heartbeat that could be found.

And then I cried. I had held myself together all day, and I had been strong and optimistic. But this was too much. I had prayed for twins for years, and God was giving them to me and immediately taking them away. I was really confused, shocked ....devastated.

The radiology team excused themselves and told me I could get dressed, and to take my time. My friend held me and prayed for me while I wept.

And then I realized that I would have to explain this to my husband...that our babies didn't have a chance, and that I had to make the decision to go into surgery, knowing that it would end their lives. I was terrified that he would tell me to wait and that the pregnancy would kill me, leaving Abi without a mommy. I didn't want him to think I would make a decision to end the lives of our babies just to save my own. I was afraid he would think I was being selfish by listening to the doctor.

Two gestational sacs. The one on the left had a heartbeat.
He would want to see the babies, right? We had no evidence that they were ever conceived or even alive. I needed a picture. And so, I found the ultrasound tech and asked her for a picture, which is apparently not a common request from a mother who was about to say goodbye to her babies.

My friend and I walked out to her car while I waited for the doctor to call with next steps. And the whole way to the car, I told her how afraid I was of telling anyone. I felt responsible, and I was afraid to make the decision to have surgery because I was scared that I was murdering my babies. I didn't want people to think I had aborted the babies I wanted so very badly. Maybe I would have a couple of days to make the decision ...

And then the doctor called, and she told me that I needed to go straight to St. Lukes ER. My surgery would begin as soon as her associate could make it to the hospital. This was considered an emergency because with two babies growing rapidly, my fallopian tube could rupture, and I could bleed to death at any moment. They wanted me to be monitored in the ER until the surgery began so that if i started bleeding internally, they could save my life. She was apologetic that she couldn't do the surgery, and she was sorry about the outcome. I asked her if there were any other options to save the lives of by babies. And she said no.

It was time to start making phone calls. I was so afraid to tell anyone.

05 October 2011

Pregnancy #3

In my last blog, I talked about trying to get pregnant again even though my uterine septum had partially grown back. To continue...

Finding out we were pregnant again the day of our move from our home in Texas to our temporary apartment in Lafayette was so awesome (April 2011). I was overjoyed! Before we ever found out we were pregnant, I began praying that God would cause the baby to implant in the perfect spot. The location of implantation was so important because I still had that portion of septum that could interfere with the pregnancy. I prayed every day before and after we found out we were pregnant.

Moving pregnant also presented us with the interesting challenge of finding another wonderful OBGYN while pregnant in a new city. We already knew that the Houston area was saturated with excellent health care and that we were moving to an area that has good doctors, but that was not saturated like Houston was. Our first Monday there, I started calling OBGYNs with good online recommendations, and I found several. Unfortunately, almost all of the doctors that I called were either not taking new patients, or they wouldn't take high risk patients. So I finally found a doctor that would see me before the second trimester, and he happened to be a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, which is a high-risk doctor. I scheduled an appointment for the following week at 5 and a half weeks pregnant. I was delighted they were willing to see me so early.

Later that night, I started spotting bright red blood. Abigail was already sleeping, so I left her and my husband at the apartment to sleep while I drove myself to the emergency room. I was scared, but I also had a peace about the pregnancy. I knew that the ER was the right decision, but I was also sure that things were going to be ok. The ER staff at 11PM were very busy. I was there until about 2AM before they took me up to have an ultrasound, which of course showed nothing but a thickened uterine lining at 4 weeks. They did mention that my beta HCG (the pregnancy hormone) was so low, they were surprised I could have gotten a positive on Saturday. They sent me home with instructions not to have sex and to take it easy.

The next morning I called my new doctor, and they told me to come in the next morning for my first appointment. They saw me, did a complete exam, and then scheduled me for not only another beta HCG test, but also a 1-hour glucose tolerance test ....at 4 weeks pregnant. They didn't have their own lab in the office, so I had to drive to a hospital to get the labs done. At this point, it was almost lunch time, and Abi was livid about the whole process. So when I found out that I would be there for over 2 hours for the 1-hr glucose, I wasn't exactly thrilled. We used all of Abi's snacks and watched a lot of PBS while in the lab that day.

The results were not stellar. I failed the glucose test, and was scheduled for a 3-hr glucose test. And my HCG had not quite doubled. For a healthy pregnancy, it should double every 48 hours, and mine was calculating to be almost 80 hours. I still had peace.

I went back to the lab for another HCG and the 3-hour glucose on Monday. Then on Tuesday, I went back to the doctor's office to get results and talk to them about what was next. I passed the glucose, but my HCG was still only doubling about ever 75-80 hours. The doctor and the ultrasound tech were out of the office, but the nurse practitioner explained to me that it might be a "chemical pregnancy" which would result in a miscarriage or would require another D&C. I still had peace, but I was starting to get a little nervous.

I was also starting to have a recurring sharp pain on the left side of my abdomen, which was not very bad. I assumed it was related to the pregnancy, but since it was not bad, I also assumed it was nothing to worry about.

The following week, I went back to the office to have an ultrasound. My HCG was about 2000 at that point, and a gestational sac should be visible when a woman's HCG is 1000. The ultrasound revealed nothing ....literally nothing. No sac .... nothing. I asked about the pain on my left, and the ultrasound tech and the nurse practitioner assured me that it was probably just the left ovary since it was enlarged from producing an egg. She also said that it was probably not a viable pregnancy and that I would get a call from the doctor.

At that point, I got scared. I held it together until I got to the car and got Abi buckled in. But once I called my husband, I lost control and started crying so hard I had to pull over the car. I decided that I really needed a second opinion. The ultrasound machine at that doctor's office seemed really old to me, and I had also experienced some staff incompetence at that office, so I had no confidence in what they were telling me. I scheduled an appointment for the following week with another doctor in the area so I could get another opinion. That afternoon, the doctor called me to review my ultrasound results, and he explained to me that it could just be an early twin pregnancy. He was not concerned, and he said we would repeat the ultrasound the following week.

I had work scheduled for the next few days in Houston, and I almost cancelled the trip in light of the news. But then it occurred to me that I could possibly stop in and see my amazing, wonderful OB in Houston to get that second opinion. I trust her completely, and I knew she would get to the bottom of what was going on. Their office was happy to oblige, and so I packed Abi into the car and drove to Houston.

I was feeling afraid and concerned about what I would find out, but I was also still upbeat and positive about how this pregnancy would turn out. I was sure that not only would God take care of my baby, he would take care of me.

We were going to be ok ....weren't we?

03 October 2011

Moving Day

In my last post, I talked about having surgery to correct my septate uterus, finding out we were moving again, and finding out that the surgery was not 100% successful. To continue ...

So after taking a little over three months break from trying to get pregnant again so I could have surgery on my uterus, I found out that the surgery did not completely correct the problem. When I saw the HSG (dye test to see the shape of the inside of the uterus), it looked SOOOO much better than the pre-surgery HSG. The day of that test, I got excited about trying again and began planning. Then, about a week later, my doctor called me into her office and told me that she recommended having the surgery again. Apparently there was still a significant portion of the septum that had grown back together.

But I was already so excited about trying again .... She was changing my plans again, and I was not ready to hear what she had to say.

When she saw my spirit collapse in front of her, she backed off of her news and began explaining the risks of not doing the surgery again:
1. Miscarriage if the baby implanted on the portion of the septum that had regrown.
2. Preterm labor.
3. Continued difficulty getting pregnant.
She also explained that the risk of each of these possibilities had already been dramatically decreased by the first surgery. And then she left it completely up to me.

I took the information home to my husband, and we discussed the risks and benefits. We talked about the fact that we would be moving in April, which would be about a week after the earliest date I could schedule the surgery. We talked about how traumatic it could be to have another miscarriage, and how difficult it would be to have another baby go through an extended NICU stay with a toddler at home. And we prayed.

In the end, we decided that we would do one cycle of fertility meds with the fertility specialist before moving. If we got pregnant, we would pray A LOT for a healthy pregnancy and trust that God would not possibly let us go through another loss. If we didn't get pregnant, we would find a fertility specialist in Lafayette, and discuss it with the new doctor. We also decided that if we had another pregnancy loss, we were definitely having the surgery before trying again.

I started Clomid again with the March cycle, and we hoped for the best. We were not totally focused on getting pregnant because we were preparing for a move in just a few weeks. My husband had to start his new job on April 18, and his last day with the old job was April 15. We had one weekend to move. And we weren't moving from one house to another. We were moving into a temporary, furnished apartment until our house in Texas sold, which we were certain would take no more than a month or two. We packed up all of our necessities, some toys for Abi, and got ready to move into a furnished, non-child-proofed, 3rd story apartment that was about a third the square footage we were used to.

For about 3 days before our move, I took pregnancy tests every morning. (I use dollar store tests, so I wasn't blowing too much money on pregnancy tests.) The move was scheduled for the 11th day after injecting myself to make my body ovulate. Technically, it is possible to get a positive on day 10 after ovulation, so when I got a negative on day 10, I decided I was probably not pregnant.

The morning of April 16, when I woke up to start preparing for moving day, I decided to take another pregnancy test. To my surprise, it was a big fat positive. I was so excited, I woke my sleepy husband up before 7AM on a Saturday, which is generally a bad idea. So we were pregnant again for a move! Yay!

And then the panic set it. What if we had made a mistake? What if the baby implanted on the septum and we lost it? I had to make a very fast decision to trust that God would not let us go through another loss.

And we started our move ...pregnant.

29 September 2011

Surgery and a plan to move

In my last post, I discussed my new correct diagnosis of Septate Uterus. To continue...

A new diagnosis ...It was actually a difficult challenge believing this new doctor we had just met.  I really wanted her to be right and to get the problom corrected. But the challenge came from 7 years of living with a wrong diagnosis. It was hard to get it in my mind that my uterine problem was correctable, and that I would be able to schedule surgery.

Because I was having a hard time accepting that the new diagnosis was correct, I was afraid of the surgery. The way the surgery would work is that the doctor would enter my uterus with a camera, called a hysteroscope, and an instrument that would cauterize the extra tissue inside the uterus that was dividing it in two. In a septate uterus, that tissue gets no bloodflow, in most cases, so the surgery wouldn't cause much blood loss at all ....unless the new diagnosis was not correct, in which case, I could end up with a ruptured uterine wall or a hysterectomy. The doctor was confident though, and she also planned to do a laparoscopy as well, to make sure the top of my uterus was flat, thus verifying her diagnosis.

Most women with a uterine septum as large as mine suffered multiple miscarriages before diagnosis, and for that reason, I decided it was worth the risk. And, although there is no proof, there are a lot of people who have connected infertility with uterine septums. In truth, there is a good possibility we have had several eggs fertilized that never implanted because the septum made it impossible.

So, now came time for scheduling ... My doctor told me she could schedule me for some time in February or March, but I told her I would talk to my husband and call the office to schedule. We decided to definitely do the surgery, so I called the nurse, and practically begged for her to schedule the surgery as quickly as possible. She was SO wonderful! She actually got me scheduled for just over 2 weeks later in late January 2011.

My mother was gracious enough to come down from Pennsylvania to take care of Abi and me during my recovery from surgery, and actually missed spending her anniversary with my dad. I was so glad she was there, because I was so afraid the day of surgery ....not for my life, but for my reproductive ability. Having her there really helped me stay calmer.

I don't remember waking up from that surgery, but I do remember my husband telling me that everything went really well, and that we could start trying after a couple of months and a good HSG confirming that my uterus was in much better condition. I was so grateful, hopeful, and anxious to get started trying again.

In February, my husband accepted a new position with a new company in the Lafayette, Louisiana area, and we were starting to plan another move. My hope was that we would have enough time to do one fertility cycle before moving to Louisiana and that we would move pregnant (again).

Then in March, I had an HSG, which showed that a small part of the septum had grown back ...sigh. My doctor recommended that we do a repeat of the surgery, but left it entirely up to me. She was willing to do a fertility cycle with me if we decided not to have the surgery again.

Decision time ...

27 September 2011

Misdiagnosed

In my last blog, I talked about having to see a fertility specialist while trying for another child after Abigail. To continue...

From my first meeting with the new doctor, we discussed the possibility that I had been misdiagnosed with bicornuate uterus, and that the doctor suspected it may really be a septum, or septate uterus. The major differences were that Septate  is reparable, and can cause miscarriage and other complications, while bicornuate is irreparable, and only causes preterm labor. On my first visit with the new doctor, she recommended an investigative ultrasound to see if she could identify which condition I had.

Within 30 seconds of the start of the ultrasound, she told me that she was positive that it was indeed not bicornuate. It was actually a complete septum that split my uterus into two halves. This should be good news, right? It was a reparable issue. A reparable problem that causes miscarriage, preterm labor, and can contribute to pre-eclampsia...

Miscarriage - check
Preterm labor - check
pre-eclampsia - check

So basically, I had been misdiagnosed years ago, long before I started trying to have babies. It took me a couple of days to realize that if I had been correctly diagnosed from the start, my uterus could have been repaired, and I may not have lost Angel. I may not have had Abigail at 33 weeks, and we may not have had to spend 37 days in the NICU. I was beyond livid. I mean, I know doctors make mistakes too, but this one affected 4 lives, my entire family. And I had insisted multiple times that they double check to see if there was any possibility that I really had a septate uterus rather than bicornuate.

I remember exactly where Angel had implanted in my uterus, and it was right on the septum. The difference between a septum and the lowered fundus of a bicornuate uterus is that in the bicornuate uterus, there is blood flow. So, even though we saw a heartbeat at 6 weeks with Angel, my poor baby hadn't received the appropriate level of blood flow to stay alive in my uterus.

Besides anger, there were a lot of other feelings I had:

  1. Regret - I should have gotten a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th opinion when I was originally diagnosed. I should have been more vigilant until I felt confident in the diagnosis myself. Maybe Angel would have survived.
  2. Guilt - My body was deformed in a way that killed my child. My baby didn't survive because he or she didn't get enough bloodflow to support life. And I had even more guilt that Abi had to struggle so much early on, also probably because of my deformed uterus.
  3. Frustration - Now I would have to have surgery ...Yet another delay. I knew God had a plan, but it was so far from my plan! Sometimes I think God allowed these delays just to show us how much better His plan is.

  4. Gratefulness - This is what I felt with the greatest intensity. Once I saw how little space there was in my uterus, I was again reminded of what a miracle Abigail is. We were so fortunate that she made it until 33 weeks gestation. It was a miracle any baby could have survived my uterus. But God knows the plans He has laid out for Abigail, and He brought her into this world miraculously. Since that realization, I have had several doctors remind me just how much of a miracle she is when they see my HSG from December 2010 and realize that she was born BEFORE my uterus was fixed.
I can rest in the knowledge that God has big plans for my little girl. She is special, and she will always be a beautiful reminder that God can still do miracles in our lives today.

14 September 2011

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)

In previous posts, I described our battle with infertility, our subsequent 2 pregnancies and birth of Abigail, and our struggle to get pregnant again. To continue...

So after trying to get pregnant again with my OBGYN'S and Clomid's help for almost 6 months, I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), otherwise known as a fertility specialist. I really struggled with the decision to go to the RE. I really believed that we shouldn't have to seek the help of a specialist because we had been pregnant two times already.

It was more though... I didn't want to acknowledge that our infertility was as much of a problem as it was. There are so many other women out there who are dealing with infertility far worse than ours. We were not so bad off that we required a specialist. Were we?
I had to let go of my pride.

My doctor had just gone on maternity leave though, and since I was not excited about seeing her partners, I decided to go ahead and see the RE. They had recommended one of the best-known REs in the Houston area, and I called to get an appointment. The earliest they could see me would be late March. That was almost FIVE months! I was also just not terribly comfortable with the doctor in question, and I am not sure why. I just didn't feel settled.

So I went to a wonderful RE that a good friend recommended. It took us a month to get in to see her, and we had our 1st appointment in December 2010. I talked to her about my previous diagnoses of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Bicornuate Uterus and about our miscarriage and preterm birth with Abigail. I also told her that I had initially suspected that my Bicornate uterus diagnosis may not have been correct, but that it had been confirmed during my D&C after we lost Angel. When I told her that, she looked at me like I was a little crazy and told me that the doctor performing my D&C should not have been able to confirm a diagnosis like that during a D&C. She also told me that she would like to take a look to confirm that diagnosis herself.

After ordering a battery of tests, including labs and a HSG (which is a dye test and Xray of the uterus to determine how open my uterus and tubes are), she asked if I would like for her to take a look at my uterus via ultrasound to see if she could determine anything about the deformation (more on that later). She also offered to do some labs on my husband, but we declined the semen analysis. It just didn't seem necessary. He had managed to get me pregnant pretty successfully considering I was barely ever ovulating.

And so our journey with a fertility specialist began. I was excited, a little nervous, and definitely annoyed at the delay this was all causing. I had no idea what was in store for us over the next few months.

06 September 2011

Here we go again

In previous posts, I described our infertility and pregnancy loss before having Abigail. To continue...

When Abi was 6 months old, I stopped breastfeeding so that I could start taking Clomid again in hopes of having another child close in age. My body had already returned to normal operation for a women, and in fact, was actually closer to normal operation than before giving birth ...at least for the first few months. I was also considering that I was 33, and it took about 4 years to bring Abi into our lives. That was in July 2010.

The doctor who delivered Abi started me on 50mg of Clomid. She was very cautious and monitored me through each cycle by doing several ultrasounds to determine if I was going to ovulate. The first Clomid cycle was very disappointing. No follicles matured, which means I wouldn't ovulate and there were not going to be any eggs to get fertilized. Then, since I didn't ovulate, I didn't start a period. So, in my mind, no period means that I could be pregnant! I began to have hope that God had done another miracle, and we would be welcoming another child to our family soon.

Every month for a women trying to conceive is like a dramatic ride. It is kind of like those swinging ship rides at an amusement park. You know... the ones that start slowly swinging and build up to the point where your hanging upside down for a few seconds? Well, that's what a cycle (or month) of trying to conceive is like. At first, you start getting hopeful, but you tell yourself not to get too emotionally involved. But as the month goes on, you have moments of confidence that you're pregnant and then moments when you are convinced that you aren't. And by the end of that two week wait between ovulation and expected period start date, you have days where you feel like you are hanging upside down.

So I took pregnancy tests ....lots and lots of them. Thank goodness for Dollar Tree tests, or we'd have spent hundreds each month on tests. Seven days and probably 10 hpts after my period should have started, my doctor started me on progesterone for 10 days to jump start my next cycle. A few days after I finished the prescription, my period started. I was so disappointed, but excited to get started on the next cycle.

The second cycle was slightly more optimistic because there was a follicle that had grown to about 15mm. Ideally, they want them to be between 17 and 23 for a good healthy egg to develop, so the doc gave it a few more days to grow and then triggered ovulation with an hcg injection. But again, there was no positive, and along came my period two weeks after the injection.

The third cycle was similar to the 1st and was also long and drawn out. Then the 4th cycle was similar to the 2nd despite using 100mg of Clomid.

So  after 5 months and 4 cycles, my OBGYN gave up and referred me to specialist.

02 September 2011

Who said BFing was easy?

In previous posts, I told the stories of pregnancy loss and Abigail's premature birth. To continue...

Before Abigail was born, while I was still in the hospital, I was visited by the proactive lactation consultants from the NICU. They reaffirmed what I already knew about how great breast milk is for babies - especially premature babies. But they also let me know that it may not be the easiest process because of the prematurity and my hypothyroidism, blood pressure, and breast reduction.

The day Abi was born, I started pumping, and I pumped and pumped and pumped. Every 2-3 hours around the clock without exception. There was nothing happening. 6 days after she was born, the pumping hadn't produced anything. But I kept doing it. I had so many people praying for my breasts, it was ridiculous.

On Abi's seventh day, her doctor started letting me try to nurse despite the fact that she was still being fed by a tube up her nose. That day, I made a few drops, and the next day, almost 0.1oz, and within a week, a few ounces. I actually got to the point at around 2 months, where I was producing enough in a day to feed Abi without having to supplement with formula. According to the lactation consultants, the amount I maxed out was was more than double what they had thought possible for me.

The whole time I was pumping, I was also trying to nurse Abi. We were on a 3 hour cycle: nurse, feed breastmilk by bottle, supplement formula, pump, wash all equipment, relax for 5-10 minutes, repeat. The nursing part was by far the most difficult. Needless to say, there are some sizing issues for a baby that small to latch properly. The lactation consultants provided a latex 'adapter' of sorts, and we still struggled with the latch ...for four months.

Another thing I never knew about nursing was how bad it can hurt if you're having latching issues like we did. There was a LOT of pain, and I had to used a lot of salves and ointment.

Finally, at 6 months, I stopped nursing and pumping, so we could start trying to get pregnant again.

23 August 2011

Leaving a Piece of my Heart Behind

In previous posts, I told the story of our first and second pregnancies, and the birth of Abigail at 33 weeks gestation. To continue...

On her second day of life, Abigail was moved out of the high-risk area to the low-risk area of the NICU. We were already feeling better about her status there.

Over the next couple of days, I spent as much time in the NICU with my baby as possible. On the 3rd day, Abigail had elevated bilirubin and had to be put in a jaundice bed the day we left as well. So she was laying under a bright blue light with foam goggles on, and I wasn't able to hold her as much that day. Later that day, I had to check out of the hospital. My doctor had already given me an extra day by justifying it to my insurance company with my blood pressure and the magnesium drip. But I had reached my max. The hospital was very lenient with me by letting me stay until around 8PM.


I know many women who have had to leave the hospital without their baby(ies), and for those of you who have been lucky enough to have never gone through this, it is a surprising and indescribable feeling. Throughout the pregnancy, every time I walked into that hospital, I would see one or more women being transported to their car with a car seat on the transport cart and the baby in their arms. That is what I had envisioned for myself. But that was not my reality. I had to say goodbye to my baby, and get transported down to my car without a baby in my arms.

I was so afraid of that moment, and I had known it was coming for a few days. As we were loading my stuff on the cart, and my husband was driving the car from the parking garage to the pick-up area, I felt that feeling of forgetting something. And I was embarrassed to be wheeled down with my pink baby celebration stuff and no baby. I felt like a piece of me was being about to be torn away. She was inside of me for 8 months, and now I had to sleep across town from her.

We left the room, and I started to cry. The lady who wheeled me down to the car told me the story of her daughter's stay in the NICU. She showed me a picture of her school-age, healthy daughter, and God used her to keep me from bawling the whole way to the car. I did cry most of the way home though.  It was so hard leaving Abigail behind. I knew she would be ok, but it was still difficult.

Leaving your baby at the hospital is like leaving a piece of yourself at the hospital. It is unbelievably difficult. It's like cutting out your heart and leaving it behind. I cry still when I think about it.


19 August 2011

Is this my child?

In previous posts, I described the loss of our first child, Angel, and the birth of our first-born, Abigail. To continue ...

When Abigail was born, almost 5 years after we started trying to have children, I was overwhelmed with joy. She was born at 33 weeks, so they took her away from us pretty quickly after she was born. I got to spend about 2 minutes with her before they wheeled her incubator away at around 4 PM on January 3, 2010. The NICU doctors told my husband that they needed about 45 minutes to get her set up in her NICU area before anyone could go see her. So around 5 PM, my husband went to visit with her.

Because I had an epidural, I wasn't allowed to get up until my legs worked and I had been transferred to a recovery room. So while my princess was laying up in the NICU, I was getting placed in a postpartum room and getting loaned a breast pump so I could hopefully make some milk for her (more on that later).

I was ready at about 6:45, but when we called up to the NICU, they told me to wait until 7:30 because it was almost shift change and we would be thrown out at 7 anyway. After several delays, it was about 8PM before I finally got to go into the NICU to see my baby girl. We had been separated for 4 hours.

Now, here is where things got painful. When my husband rolled me into the 'Rabbit' room, where Abigail was located, there were 6 or 7 babies in the room, and I felt no magnetic draw toward any of them. I didn't have any idea which one was mine. I was so embarrassed. I had to ask which baby was ours. Feelings of shame overwhelmed me because I didn't just KNOW which child was mine. She had been in my womb for 7 months. Shouldn't I feel some magical link to her?

When we located her, I looked into the incubator, and she did not look as healthy as when she was wrapped in a baby blanket and all I could see was her sweet little face. She had a tube taped in her mouth, an IV in her foot, and cords hanging off of her. She was sprawled out in the incubator with her eyes closed, ribs sticking out, skin a little orange, and her chest heaving. She was so tiny. So fragile. So scary.

Once we had been there for a few minutes, the nurse practitioner asked if I would like to hold her. First, they had me move from the wheel chair to a more sturdy chair, and then she wrapped the baby up and transferred her from the incubator to my arms. I looked down at this tiny baby that they said was mine, but I felt nothing but fear and confusion. Again, I was so ashamed. Shouldn't I feel some type of connection with this child? She was, after all my child, wasn't she? Was this the right baby? My fears of being a bad mother came again very strong at that point. A good mother would have a melty feeling of love when she looked at her baby, even if she had been separated for 4 hours.

I was afraid that something was wrong or that maybe the time apart had destroyed our bond. I wasn't sure what to do to fix it, but it had to be fixed.

Over the next couple of days, as I cared for her and showed her off to my parents and our pastors, the feelings began to grow. I don't pretend to understand the way that hormones may have played a part in that initial feeling of ...well ...of nothing really toward my child. But as I began to spend more time with her, I found myself being very protective of Abigail, and I started noticing little things about her that were like my husband. And my love for her grew exponentially from there. By her third day, I felt so much love for her, I would almost cry just looking at her little face. I didn't want to be away from her for more than a couple of hours.

16 August 2011

From 2 to 3

In previous posts, I described our first pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and our second pregnancy. To continue...

The morning or January 3, 2010, came early and with no sleep! I was lying in the delivery room, 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant with my blood pressure elevated. The doctor put me on Magnesium to reduce the possibility of me having a seizure, so I was very warm and a little loopy. The Magnesium made me feel like I had been drinking all night.

According to the nurse, I was having contractions all night, but I never felt them at all. I was just awake, wondering what delivery would be like and how beautiful and wonderful our tiny baby would be. I had spent the past 33 weeks trying to keep our baby inside my womb, and now we were trying to get her out. My womb had become an unsafe place for our baby, and the situation had become pretty dangerous for me as well.

At a little after 6AM, the nurse started a pitocin drip in my IV. I started to feel the contractions just a slight bit, but still not strong, and not very painful at all. This was not the horrible pain of labor that had been described to me so many times. If this was it, I was going to be fine.
Amniohooks AKA giant crochet chopsticks

Then around 8AM, my doctor checked me, and since I was only 4 cm dilated, she increased the pitocin and said she needed to break my water. She then proceeded to pull out an alarmingly long plastic thing that looked like an oversized chop stick with a crochet hook at the end. I began to panic for my child! "Isn't her head right against my cervix? Are you going to poke her in the head with that thing? Is this safe for her?" were the questions that I asked my doctor as she prepared to stick the giant crochet chop stick into me! But fortunately, my doctor knew what she was doing, and moments later I felt like I had just peed all over the place...

Then I felt my first REAL contraction. It was a little more painful than before, but still very tolerable. My plan from the start was to do the whole thing as naturally as possible without any pain management. That was my plan. But it was also my plan to have a full-term pregnancy and to attend classes on natural birth during my late second trimester. MY PLAN was NOT working out the way I had planned it. So, high on Magnesium, and against my husband's better judgement, I decided to rethink my pain management decision. To be fair, I recall my thought process through that decision, and it was very logical:
  1. The pain was not that bad, but it was causing me to fight each contraction. An epidural might help me relax a little more and let the contractions actually do what they were supposed to do.
  2. An epidural would not get into the baby's system at all.
  3. They had been threatening a C-Section because of my blood pressure and the concern that I could have a seizure. If I got rushed into an emergency C-section without an epidural in place, they would have put me completely out.
  4. I didn't need to prove anything to anyone.
  5. The medical benefits of natural birth would be almost completely overridden by delivering as early as I was delivering. And we had already gone completely off plan by letting them induce.
  6. I was already high as a kite on Magnesium, and so the very slim risk of paralysis didn't sound so terrible at the moment.
  7. I was already high as a kite on Magnesium ....
I got the epidural at around 10AM, and I do not regret that decision for this delivery. I think it helped move things along much faster since I didn't have the opportunity to learn how to manage pain through delivery while on bed rest. Before and after the epidural was in place, I played card games with my husband and mom. Again, this was not the nightmarish labor I was anticipating.

Then suddenly, I began to panic. I started crying. I was so afraid that I was not going to be a good mother. What if after all of this, I was just simply a bad mom? What if I didn't love my baby enough? My sweet nurse assured me that the women who worry about being a bad mom are the ones who turn out to be the best moms.

At around 2:30PM, my doctor came in and checked me, and I was only 8 cm. She told me to lay on my right side to help my cervix dilate more evenly. Unfortunately, they couldn't get a good reading on the baby's heart rate when I lay on my right because she was stuck in the right side of my funky uterus. So with the nurse's help I rolled in the bed for about 30 minutes trying to get on my right side with the monitor still on the baby. Toward the end of that failed attempt, my pain changed. It was not that dull pressure of a contraction as felt through an epidural. It was a sharper, harsher pain. So the nurse abandoned attempts to keep me on my right side and checked me again.

TA DA! 10 cm and ready for the doctor. Except, the doctor had just left to go home until I was ready. The nurse said, "Whatever you do, don't push!"

Oh my goodness! That was an incredibly scary 30 minute wait for the doctor and the room to be set up for delivery. The room had a button to press to call up the NICU docs before the baby was delivered. And I must have asked the nurse about 10 times during that wait to press the button. After several hours of trying to get the baby to come out, I was terrified that she would just fall out before her docs were there. I even asked my husband to go press the button while I lay there, legs crossed, clinching like I was trying not to soil the bed with a really bad stomach flu.

I was SO relieved when my doctor came in. They pressed the button and told me it was time to push. That was right after 3:30PM. After about 3 rounds of pushing, the doctor told me to put my hand down and feel the baby's head. It was SO squishy! It felt like a fuzzy water balloon sticking out of me. That put some more urgency into my pushing because I was afraid she couldn't breath in that position. (And yes, I am aware of how irrational that fear was.) With the next push, she was out.... 3:53PM

The next few minutes were a blur. The OB cut the cord before my husband even had a chance and passed the baby to the neonatologist. I was holding my breath and staring at her waiting for her to cry. She opened her mouth and out came a tiny little wail. And I exhaled.

My heart exploded with love. They rushed her into a little side room where all of the baby equipment was, and my husband followed them with a video camera. Click to view short video of her getting her hat put on her by the NICU docs.

1st family photo of the 3 of us
My doctor told me to keep pushing, but I was barely paying attention to her. All I could do is listen to that tiny little cry. I watched my husband's face to see his reaction to what they were doing to our baby.

A short time after, it could have been 1 minute or 10, one of the doctors brought my precious little baby girl to me to look at, kiss and hold for a minute.

When they wheeled her away in an incubator to the NICU, my husband went with her as far as he was allowed. She was doing well enough that they wheeled her through the lobby so my parents and friends in the waiting room could meet her. My dad, who had arrived just a few minutes before we started pushing, took some pictures.

She was tiny. Less than 4 pounds, but she was HERE and breathing on her own. Her skin was very thin, and her body lacked the fat that develops in the last few weeks of gestation. But I didn't see any of that. I just saw my daughter. My own child. Finally, after 4+ years of praying for her, she was here. My Abigail Nola, named after one of my favorite women in the Bible and my mamaw.

I was told I would never have children, and here was my miracle. Here was proof that God is faithful.

11 August 2011

Pregnancy #2

In my previous posts, I talked about our first pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and using Clomid to get pregnant again. To continue...

As I suspected, because of my crazy craving of my least favorite food, eggs, I was pregnant. I was not hopeful that we would get pregnant that cycle because I had messed up the fertility medicine. So when I saw the positive result on the pregnancy test, I was surprised.

For anyone who hasn't been through this, a pregnancy after a pregnancy loss is not as exciting, innocent, and joyful as a first pregnancy. Don't get me wrong, I was excited, overjoyed, and unable to sleep that night, but I was also afraid. There was a fear that I didn't want to admit I had. A fear that we would lose another baby. I was ashamed to feel that way, and I prayed a lot. But my husband said from the start  that we would trust God with this baby completely, and if something happened, it was on God's shoulders alone. When he made that statement, I wondered what he was feeling, but I didn't ask. I understand now that he was trusting God, and imposing that trust on me. If anything happened, we couldn't blame ourselves. I couldn't blame myself. So we trusted God .....
And I was still scared, some days terrified ....
Because I had trusted God with Angel as well.
7 weeks

When we went in at what we thought was 7 weeks, we found that we were actually only 5 weeks. I was so scared because we didn't see a heart beat. The doctor assured me that everything was fine and rescheduled me for a second ultrasound in a couple of weeks. At 7 weeks we saw what looked like a little seahorse with a VERY strong heart beat. I was confident that everything was going to be fine, but I was also still afraid. We had seen a heartbeat with Angel as well.

Because of my bicornuate uterus diagnosis, I knew that there was a possibility of early labor, uterine rupture, and possibly a very premature baby. So I researched how early a baby could survive and I prayed that God would give us a healthy, full-term pregnancy.

There were three major benchmarks for me as far as release of my fear:
1. When I felt the baby move at around 13 weeks
2. At 21 weeks, when the chances of survival were not so dismal
3. At 32 weeks, when the chances of breathing assistance and long-term effects were greatly decreased.

9 weeks
The pregnancy in general was not a pleasant experience, but it was much more pleasant than the previous pregnancy. I was super grateful to be pregnant and wouldn't have traded the experience for ANYTHING. We moved when I was about 8 weeks, and I found a new, wonderful OB. I threw up all day long for the first 6 months of the pregnancy and actually lost about 30 pounds before I ever gained. The doctor called it hyperemesis, but I called it my daily confirmation that I was pregnant and all was well. HA! At about 5 or 6 months, my blood pressure started to increase a little bit. And at 24 weeks, the premature labor began.

I never felt any contractions with my premature labor, but I did feel the baby's head pounding into my cervix every 30 seconds. She was incredibly active in the womb, and it was clear when she was sleeping and when she was awake. Because of the shape of my uterus, she was stuck in the right half of my uterus with less space than a baby normally has. My belly even looked lopsided!

30 weeks pregnant
So when they determined I was 1 cm dilated at 24 weeks, I was not entirely surprised, but I was pretty scared. I had to spend a couple nights in the hospital and then bed-rest and a contraction monitor at home. My birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were all handled by my husband while I laid in bed. He showed so much love for me and our unborn child. Then at 32 weeks, the day after Christmas, I had to go back to the hospital because my blood pressure shot up to 200/90.

My husband and mom were alternating shifts with me at the hospital to keep me company, and some ladies from our new church came by to visit with me and pray for me. I was not terribly upset or concerned about being at the hospital because at 32 weeks, if my baby was born early, she may have to spend some time in the NICU, but she should live! And I should be a mom soon!

On Jan 2, 2011, (at 33 weeks and 4 days) my doctor came in and told me: "Tomorrow is going to be a birthday." My blood pressure was just out of control, and it was unhealthy for both of us. We were so excited and so nervous. I was already 2.5-3 cm that evening, and they moved me into the labor and delivery room with a plan to induce at 6AM.


My dreams were about to come true! God was answering our prayers for a child, and he was giving us the first installment of his promise. The joy that night waiting was overwhelming. I stayed up all night while my husband slept on the couch in the room, and my mom stayed at our house.

06 August 2011

Clomid

In my previous posts, I told the story of our first pregnancy and pregnancy loss. To Continue...

After we lost our first child, Angel, at 12 weeks, I was very anxious to get pregnant. I felt like I couldn't move forward without giving birth to a child. The pain of being a mother but not having a child to pour my love into was paralyzing.

So many people do not understand what it feels like to be childless or the pain of losing a child you have never met. Many people encouraged me to get pregnant quickly so I could 'replace' the child we lost. You cannot replace a child no matter how early into the pregnancy or how early after birth you have lost that child.

My doctor encouraged me to start trying as soon as I had recovered from the D&C, which was after one full cycle. In fact, she wrote me a prescription for 'Sex every other day as needed'. I was super encouraged and ready to get pregnant again.

After 3 full months of trying to get pregnant without help, we were not pregnant. After praying, crying, and talking to my doctor a lot, we made the decision to pursue fertility treatments.

There are a lot of Christians and religious people who do not believe in seeking medical help for infertility. And I completely understand where those people are coming from. However, I believe that God can use different methods for helping people. Many churches are fine with diabetics using medicine to keep them alive, and while having a baby is not a necessity for surviving, there are still significant medical issues that cause infertility.

I believe it comes down to each person's relationship with God and the level of peace that He gives you on the subject of fertility treatment. We prayed about it, and felt peace about pursuing medical help to resolve our infertility.

We did not go through all of the diagnostic testing initially because we already suspected that my ovulation issues were causing the problem. I was already diagnosed with Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and a bicornuate uterus (heart-shaped uterus). Based on my diagnostic history, my OBGYN prescribed a drug called Clomid to try to stimulate my ovulation. They did un-monitored cycles with 50mg of Clomid to try to help my body do what it was designed to do.

The first cycle did not go well. I don't think I ovulated at all, and I had to take progesterone to stimulate a period after 5 weeks. The second cycle went a little better because we didn't need to force a period, but I still wasn't pregnant. So on the third cycle, we went up to 100mg of Clomid.

I clearly remember how the whole month went because we had A LOT going on that month. We had just found out that we would be moving to the Houston area for my husband's job. At that point, I was totally focused on the move, and I was not really paying much attention to our goal of getting pregnant. I was taking Clomid during our house-hunting trip in the Houston area, and I actually messed up taking the medicine by missing a dose and taking it a day later.  Once I realized that I had messed up the medicine, I wrote the cycle off completely and just planned to get moved before we tried again.

But then, something amazing happened.

I hate eggs. Hate is actually not a strong enough word. I would rather eat anything than an egg. But one day, as I was driving from a job site 6 hours away from our home in South Carolina (and about the time I should be having a period), I became extremely hungry for EGGS. All I wanted was a scrambled egg (or a dozen), but I knew I would have to cover it with ketchup to get it down. I stopped at a Cracker Barrel off the interstate and ordered scrambled eggs with a lot of ketchup. When my food came out, there was no ketchup, so I asked the server to bring me some. By the time he got back, I had eaten my scrambled eggs completely without any condiments.

That's when I suspected that I was pregnant. So I held my bladder ALL the way home, which was 4 hours away, and I took a pregnancy test as soon as I got there.

27 July 2011

Counseling & The Promise

In my previous blogs, I described our first pregnancy and resulting pregnancy loss. To continue...

During the 2-3 months after we lost Angel to a miscarriage, I spent a lot of time reading, praying, journal-ing, and searching for some way to feel ok again. I was confused because my husband and I felt like our future would involve lots of children. Were we supposed to adopt? Were we called to run an orphanage? Why did we see ourselves surrounded by children if God wasn't allowing us to have any?

I had been saying for years that I wanted 6 children, and we already had 6 names picked out. 4 boys and 2 girls. I believed it would happen before our miscarriage....

Counseling


I spent a lot of time questioning and doubting God. And I often expressed my anger and frustration to Stan. One day while I was crying and shouting about how God didn't love me enough to give me children, he told me something that stunned me. He told me that I needed to find someone else to talk to about my issues with God. My constant doubt was causing him some problems. Since I had alienated myself from all of my friends, and I was afraid they would judge me, I went back into my wallet and pulled out the name and number of the counselor my OBGYN had given me. The counselor specialized in pregnancy loss and infertility, and talking with her did help.

The point of telling y'all about the counselor is just to let you know that sometimes you have to ask for help, and sometimes that help comes in the form of a trained professional. I needed some help organizing my thoughts and feelings about what had happened to my family.

The Promise


While reading a Christian self-help book (not sure which one because there are SO many out there), I came across a passage of scripture I had never noticed before. The scripture is 1 Samuel 2:21. Basically, Hannah in the Bible was infertile and literally BEGGED God for a son. She promised God that she would give her son to Him if he would bless her womb. She delivered Samuel and took him to the priest once he was weened. She made robes for him every year and visited him at the temple, and every year, the priest would pray for God to bless her with more children. Then comes verse 21:

21 And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters.


So, including Samuel, Hannah had 4 boys and 2 girls ...

I had never seen that before! and I already had 4 boy names and 2 girl names. In fact, I had a picture frame with six spots in it and our children's names in place of pictures. That is how much I believed in our six children before our miscarriage. Why was I now discovering this passage of scripture I didn't know existed?!?  I got my hopes up that that was actually a promise from God that we were going to have our six after all. But then, my doubt jumped in....

Until ...

Shortly after that, a friend of mine called me and told me that she discovered the same passage of scripture, and that she felt that it was a promise from God. Yet, I still doubted...

Until ...

About 2 weeks after, a friend of mine that I hadn't spoken to in about a year called me to tell me that she had a dream about me and that in the dream I had 6 children. She didn't even know that I wanted 6 kids or that I had had a miscarriage.

And now I believe that God has promised me six children and that we will eventually have six kids, whether by birth or adoption. Here are their names:

Abigail Nola
Samuel Christopher
David James
Naomi Virginia
Elijah Joel
Caleb Jonathan

20 July 2011

Losing Control

In previous posts, I described our first pregnancy and resulting pregnancy loss. To continue...

A major effect that our loss had on me was that I learned how very little control I have. I can do everything in my power to make things work the way I want them to, but that doesn't mean I will get the outcome I desire. God has a plan for my life that I don't know or understand, and while I don't believe He caused our pregnancy loss, I do believe that He knew it was going to happen and chose to allow it.

A friend of mine told me a story when his first child was only a few weeks old. He had put his beautiful little infant in her crib, and as most parents are, he was concerned about her safety as she slept. After he was leaving room, he found (and killed) a very large spider heading toward her crib. He started thinking of all of the things that could have happened if that spider had gotten into her crib with her. The anxiety of being in responsible for her safety was becoming overwhelming. At that moment, he realized how little control he had over every little thing that could happen, and he felt helpless to protect his little baby from all of the possibilities. He felt out of control, but he also felt liberated by the complete and utter dependence he had in God to take care of his family.

After we lost our first child, Angel, I thought a lot about what I could have done to change the outcome or what I may have done to cause the loss. I begged God to help me understand why He had let this happen. I asked pastors and other people who had lost a baby why God allowed it. I couldn't move on until I knew how to prevent another loss and until I knew that we would have children. I was tormented by guilt and anxiety.

I was losing control. My plans were shot, and I couldn't control what happened next. I was angry that God chose to stray from MY plans for my life. But guess what? God gives us the desires of our hearts, which means that he gives us those Godly desires in our lives. It doesn't mean he lets us write out a structured plan for our lives so he can follow OUR road map.

God is in control? Isn't that liberating?!? Who can do a better job taking care of my life than the creator of all? Isn't it also a little terrifying, though?


1 Peter 5:6-7 says:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (ESV)

I was trying to make myself 'bigger' than God by controlling my own life. But I am (still) learning that my anxiety is actually just my struggle to let go and hand it over to God, who is much more capable than I am.


It was terrifying for me because I was so used to doing things in my own strength. But over the months after we lost Angel, I realized that I really don't want things to be in my control! If I had really been in 'control' of everything in my life, that means that it was my responsibility to keep Angel's heart beating. Then wasn't it my fault Angel died? God made my body, and he made Angel. He could have rescued my baby, but he chose to take him or her to worship Him in heaven.

It was NOT my fault. God is in control.

This Tenth Avenue North song really helped me get through that scary time when I was realizing how little control I have: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66njprg_fq8