29 April 2012

Pregnancy #4 - Trimester 1

In my last post, I talked about finding out that we were pregnant with Pregnancy #4 and the fear that comes with pregnancy after losses. To continue ...

After the misdiagnosed ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and resulting emergency surgery that came with Pregnancy #3, Gabriel, I was very cautious about finding a good OBGYN whom I could trust. I found a doctor that came highly recommended and whom I thought might be a good option. She was a young female doctor, which is something I generally prefer, and she was also a partner of the doctor who saw me through the recovery from the last pregnancy.

I transferred to her and tried to schedule an appointment for 8 weeks. Unfortunately, her schedule was full, and they couldn't get me in until 11 weeks!!! That really made me nervous since I had already had two first trimester losses. So I also scheduled with another doctor who has a good reputation in the area.

I had an ultrasound (US) at 6 weeks before the fertility specialist would release me. However, I was happy that the new doctor was able to schedule me for another ultrasound at 8 weeks. That ultrasound came back great, and my lab results did as well. However, the office experience was terrible! I waited for SOOOOO long, and I wasn't terribly excited about the doctor being a man.

I saw that doctor again at 10 weeks and had another ultrasound, again confirming that all was well. However, my office experience was again, very bad, so I decided to keep the appointment with the female OBGYN for the following week.

Again, at 11 weeks, I had another ultrasound, and again, everything looked great! I was overjoyed that I was approaching the end of the first trimester. However, I was still afraid of what could happen.

My doctor scheduled me to start seeing the high risk specialist to manage my thyroid medication, because I have hypothyroidism. Also, since the pregnancy with Abigail had been so complicated, I would be seeing the high risk doctor about every 2-4 weeks throughout the second trimester to make sure the baby was growing appropriately and my cervix was staying closed. Each of these visits would involve an US, and for that I was very grateful.

So the first trimester had gone very smoothly, but my anxiety level was pretty high. And that made it hard to get excited about the pregnancy. I was afraid of a second trimester loss or another long bed rest stay or something else complicating the pregnancy.

And I was ashamed that I was afraid. I was ashamed of my feelings because I was supposed to be a strong, Godly woman. I am  a wife to an amazing husband, a mother of one earthly princess and two babies in heaven, a business woman, a manager of my household and our recent move, and a woman called by God to minister to other women who deal with infertility and pregnancy loss ..... I was supposed to be filled with faith and courage. I was not supposed to be worried about whether God would keep my child safe in my womb. But I was. And to be honest, as I write this, 39 weeks pregnant, with an induction scheduled in two days, I still have fear about the successful birth of this child.

I just know that no matter what happens, God loves me, and he has a plan that is far beyond anything I can understand. I will be ok, and eventually, maybe God will help me overcome these fears and anxieties around pregnancy. I know for sure that he will use my struggles to help other women through their infertility, losses, and fears.

04 April 2012

Fear That Comes from a Loss

In my last post, I talked about finding out that we were pregnant. To continue...

When most women find out they are pregnant, there is joy, excitement, and anticipation. But when you have lost a baby from a pregnancy that ends early, there is a tendency to have fear.

I was fearful.

Our first pregnancy ended with a miscarriage at 13 weeks. Our second pregnancy was filled with complications, and ended prematurely, at 33 weeks, with our little miracle, Abigail. Our third pregnancy ended in an emergency surgery because of a tubal pregnancy at 7 weeks. And all of them had started the same way that this one had, with a positive pregnancy test.

Statistically speaking, my fear was justified... But I felt like it was not very "Christian" of me to fear for the life of my child. God had it all under control, didn't He? He had it under control, and yet He still welcomed two of my children into His arms before I ever got to meet them.

The fear involved in early pregnancy, for me, includes things like:

  • Not doing any heavy work
  • No lifting, except for Abigail
  • Getting as much rest as possible
  • Taking prenatal vitamins religiously
  • Checking the toilet paper with every wipe
  • Being overly conscious of every little twinge or feeling of any kind anywhere in your body
  • Calling the doctor almost daily with a new concern
  • Etc .....
Because I had an ectopic/tubal pregnancy and a later-than-average miscarriage in my medical history, I knew that I would be monitored pretty closely during the 1st trimester. My fertility specialist had scheduled me for an ultrasound at 6 and 1/2 weeks to confirm that it was a viable pregnancy. However, I was so scared, and I called the nurses so many times, they bumped me back to 6 weeks, 0days. Fortunately, the baby measured 6 weeks exactly and had a very strong heartbeat. And I was so happy, but I was still fearful. 

While waiting for that 6 week ultrasound, I had called around to find a new OBGYN in the area and had scheduled a 1st trimester appointment for 8 and 1/2 weeks. So I knew I would get to see the baby again in just a couple more weeks, but I was still scared. I didn't have any morning sickness yet, and I was not feeling pregnant at all. I just wasn't ready to be joyful and confident that this child would make it to my arms.

Unfortunately, for those of us who have been through a pregnancy loss of any kind, the innocence of that first, joyful, positive pregnancy test is just kind of missing. The innocence goes away, and instead there is this fear of allowing yourself to be truly joyful until you know for sure that your baby will be ok. For some of us, that is when we reach the second trimester. For others, including me, that is when the baby reaches 24 weeks and has a good chance of survival if born prematurely. And for some, it is not until that precious baby is screaming in Mommy's arms. 

Don't get me wrong... I was happy to carry my Angel and Gabriel, even though I won't get to meet them until I get to heaven. And I still thank God for my two children in heaven and that they got to see Jesus face before anyone else, including Mommy and Daddy. I just really didn't know how much more heartbreak I could handle. But I had felt that way before. I thought I had reached my limit so many times before, and God's grace just carried me through all of the times I didn't think I could handle.

And so, the first several weeks of my fourth pregnancy were filled with fear, prayer, doubt, and memories of my other pregnancies. I just had to acknowledge that my God is more powerful than anything I could go through, and He has control. I had to keep reminding myself of that, and sometimes, fear still won out ...but I still reminded myself, over and over.