Monday, December 27, 2010

Life is like a Blackboard

I was reading one of the many, many baby loss blogs I follow, Awful But Functioning. In a recent post she mentioned that several years ago, she'd written a post about political candidates that had lost children. And Elizabeth Edwards responded with a very, very beautiful analogy that was so eloquent and TRUE that I wanted to share it here. Even though it's three years old I just saw it for the first time.


I have often described the death of a child in this way: in life we have a blackboard on which we write all the things we are doing -- our jobs, coaching soccer, working at Goodwill, going to basketball games, whatever. And the board is full, so when the next thing comes along, we find a corner or the board to add a computer class or a space between other things for book club or sewing Halloween costumes. It is full and lively and seemingly all important.

And then your child dies, and all the things that were so important that you worked to squeeze them in? Well, they are all erased. And you are left with an empty blackboard. Everything you thought was important was not. And the next time you write something on the board, you are very, very careful about what it is. Your choices about what to do and how to do it are so much more deliberate. Doing something that is so patently important as public service -- whatever your politics -- well, that seems like an easy call. That is worth some of the space. And putting something on the board, well, it allows you -- in your words -- to function another day. And each day that you find something else worthy of the board makes it a little easier to put one foot in front of the other. And each day you functioned the day before makes it easier to function again. Are there still bad moments, even bad days nearly twelve years later? Sadly, there are. But they are not as frequent and they don't happen in that same emptiness you feel today. Now when they happen, we can turn to something that we have written, something worthy of our time, of his parents' time and we can function through that pain. As you will -- not without [your child], but with [your child]* not as a living, breathing daughter [or son] but as an inspiration and a helper to decide what is worthy of your blackboard. 


How beautiful and so spot on is that?

*Tash, I hope you don't mind that I changed this...I wasn't sure if you'd want your daughter's name out on someone else's blog, and I thought it was such a beautiful sentiment that I wanted anyone to be able to see their child's name there. Let me know if it's not ok!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas

Christmas was hard, knowing that we should have had a cute three-month-old in red and white striped footie pajamas being passed around and spoiled with "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments and toys well  beyond his age ability.  Instead, almost no one mentioned him.  Thank god for my mom, who *did* remember and gave us an ornament...but instead of "Baby's First Christmas" it said "Our baby angel".

So not fair. Babies should not die.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Taking a break

I will be back soon! I'm slammed at work and in my 2nd job as a photographer and need to catch the heck up! I'm also in a pretty good place mentally. I have one friend who had her baby a couple months ago and one preparing to deliver, and while I'm obviously insanely jealous, I'm also happy for them. I miss Caleb and think about where I should be at in my life every day, but...it's not as soul-sucking as it was. I just don't have a lot to post about right now.  That might change tomorrow and I need an outlet again, but for today: nothing.

So for anyone who is just starting this journey: it does get easier. It won't go away - I can't imagine it ever will, but it does get easier.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Please

Sometimes I am overwhelmed with fear that this will happen again.  I think anyone who has suffered miscarriage or pregnancy loss or infant loss goes through the same emotions. It's occasionally enough to make me not want to try again. To just give up.  But what if? What if it doesn't happen again? And what if I missed out on beautiful, wonderful children because I was scared?

But.

But what if it does? Would I be okay? Would Chris be okay? What would we do? My heart shattered on April 12 and it doesn't quite fit back together the way it did before. If it broke into a million pieces again, would I be able to put the shards back together this time?

Does that thought ever go away? I hate that I can't take comfort in the things most women do.  I just want to be naive again. I heard the heartbeat. I made it into the second trimester. I was days away from being halfway through the pregnancy. If I get pregnant again, will there come a day when I'm able to relax and consider the possibility of bringing an actual baby home with me, and not just a box of memories?  At this point I can't imagine it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Ship

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight…that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes!,” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

- Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

They just don't understand.

Note: This is a post that I wrote but never published back in May, just a few weeks after Caleb was born. I'm not sure why I never published it. I'm sharing it now because I know it contains thoughts universal to those who have experienced similar losses.


I know a lot of people don't understand. They don't understand why I'm grieving at all, much less why I'm still grieving. It's not like I lost a "real" baby, you know? But I did. I lost a real baby, a real baby who I held and named. Yes, I was only pregnant for five months. I don't even know what color my baby's eyes were. Once he was born, I was only with him for a few hours - alive for far less than that. If you've never been pregnant, you might not ever understand what it's like to lose your baby like I did. You must think I'm insane to let five months affect me like this. But if you have had a baby, perhaps you can imagine. You must remember how excited you were. How you loved that baby - the idea of that baby, if nothing else - since you peed on the stick. How comfortable you were after that 12 week mark passed.  How you fell hard for that little baby doing flips at your NT scan. How all of your future hopes and dreams centered on the little baby you planned on bringing home.  The baby was literally a part of every decision you made - what you ate, what you were going to do today, what you were going to do in a week, month, year, ten years. By 20 weeks, you'd made some concrete plans. I was in love, utterly and completely in love with Caleb before I even knew who he was. I was in love with the idea of him, of my hopes for him, of my dreams for us. Once he was born, I feel in love with him - concretely in love with HIM, the tiny little baby I held in my hands, and not the vague future I'd imagined. You loved your baby beyond words the first time you saw him, didn't you? I did too.

I didn't just lose my son. I lost all those hopes and dreams and imagined futures.

I didn't just lose all those hopes and dreams and imagined futures. I lost my son.

Friday, October 15, 2010

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I'm sure every single person who reads this blog is already aware, but today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Please visit IAmTheFace.org to donate, upload a picture of yourself, and show support.  They are trying to get 2,000 pictures from 2,000 women who have experienced loss in order to represent the number of women and families who lose a pregnancy or infant every day. Every day. Can you imagine?

Sunday my parents and grandma and I went to a memorial service that the hospital holds each year for all the lost babies and children. Tuesday marked six months from Caleb's birth and death. Today is this important day, and in honor of Caleb, I'll be going to the hospital to donate some outfits for babies born too tiny - they had nothing that would fit Caleb except a hat.  I'll also be going to a candlelight vigil and balloon release tonight (anyone in Omaha: Heartland of America Park at 7pm!) to remember Caleb...

and Adrian
Aidan H.
Aidan
Aurora
Avery
Avery and Alexander
Babies Holmes
Brody, Logan, and Wyatt
Christian
Ella
Evel
Evelyn
Isla
Jacob
Jillian
Joel
Jonah and Noah
Liam
Maddie
Nolan
Oliver
Olivia H.
Olivia
Peyton
Reid
Ryan
Sawyer
Sophia
Stevie
Sylvia
Valentina


and all the names I can't list here (if I missed your child, post in the comments and I'll add!), and all the babies that were gone to early to have names.

To all of them, I remember.  You can remember by lighting a candle in honor of today at 7pm to take part in the Wave of Light.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I think someone's trying to tell me something...

After I posted that I wasn't sure what to make of the ladybugs, I came inside to find the front door screen crawling with them - on the inside! No idea how they got there. There were probably close to a dozen. I shooed them off. The next time I came to the door, they were all back. And every time I chase them off (so they don't die trapped between the doors!) they come back.

It's like someone is trying to make sure I get the message.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Signs

Ok, I'm SO not the kind of person that looks for signs everywhere, but....

...every single walk I've taken since we got home, I've come back inside the house only to find a ladybug on me.  Every. Single. One. Today I specifically looked outside because I thought they must just be swarming all over the place, but I only saw one other one out there. 

Weird, no??

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five Days Out

Feeling okay. Chris went back to work, so I'm not walking like I should be. I will regret this tomorrow!

Monday, October 4, 2010

TAC Hints and Tips

It's been four days since my surgery (which, wow...time has flown!) and I feel loads better. The eight-hour drive home yesterday wasn't the worst, although sitting in one position for a couple hours meant that each stop we made to walk started out roughly. We probably made four half hour stops or so. It might have been better to stop every hour for a shorter amount of time, but on the other hand the extended walking really helped. So it's probably a wash in terms of which is really more beneficial in the long run. There were two painful times that stuck out in my head: one was laughing, and one was coughing. Both suck donkey balls. While we were walking at a rest stop, Chris made some ridiculous comment about pooping and intestines (you know you married the right man when you can talk to him about not pooping for four days) and I started to laugh, and felt one of the worst pains I'd experienced since the first day. It left me breathless and in tears. However, it did diminish fairly quickly, so I know that the healing is going well. The second was after a drink of water went down the wrong way, and I coughed. I was sitting in the car during that one, so there was little I could do for it except press the travel pillow in harder and breathe through it. That pain lingered for a while, I think because I wasn't able to walk it off.

In terms of how I feel right this very second, I'm good. I actually feel pretty great and have experienced just a little pain today. I'm still wearing the abdominal binder, and it's made a world of difference, and I'll be able to use it again after future C-sections. It's also helped keep the swelling down. The swelling hurts worse than the incision itself, I think. It's very tender and raw, though the binder helps with that. Still, the worst is that burning sensation I've talked about.  Updated: I've since learned that it's the nerves regenerating, and it's actually a GOOD thing, since some people permanently lose sensation in areas after surgery (any surgery).

My back still hurts from holding it so stiffly. And my chest and lungs ache. Those things reaffirm to me that I made the right decision, since traditional cerclages often require bed rest, and my body just doesn't do that well. I remember it from when I was on bed rest with Caleb too - even after just a few hours of laying flat on my back, my lungs start to get congested and it gets difficult for me to breathe. I was made to be active! The trans-abdominal cerclage will allow me an almost completely normal pregnancy (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and all that).

So what tips or tricks do I have? Man, I don't know. I think this surgery is so different for everyone, but I'll tell you what helped me:

1. Get the first surgery slot in the morning!
This was the biggest difference, I think, between my fairly relaxed, on-time surgery with minimal waiting and lots of time with Dr. Haney and Trisha's crazier one that involved lots of waiting and little time with the doctor.

2. Bring your travel pillow...and lots of other pillows and blankets.
Ok, maybe not lots. But we brought the travel pillow (which is recommended up the wazoo by other ladies who have been here, for good reasons), and two full size pillows: a body pillow and a slightly firm foam pillow. Both from home, straight from our bed. First, it's comforting to have something from home. You don't even realize it, but the smell and the shape and the way you sink into it just like you do at home...all those things help you relax a bit more. Second, the hospital pillow was nothing. Maybe an inch thick. Might as well have tried to use an envelope for a pillow. Third, it helps you get into and stay in a comfortable position by offering support around your sides. I also brought a blanket - my "blankie" if you will. It's not a full-size blanket; more like a throw. Suede-ish texture on one side and faux fur in a tan zebra print on the other. I'm sure it sounds hideous, but it's a) really cute and b) really warm and c) super soft and d) super comfy and e) super comforTING. It was a Christmas present from one of my friends years ago, and while I don't go so far as to take it with me on vacations and stuff, I do use it almost every night. I had it in the hospital with me while I was on bed rest and had it with me when we delivered Caleb. So it's very special. But outside of the sappiness, hospital can be cold, so it's nice to have a good blanket.

3. Think about an abdominal binder.
Actually, don't think. Just get one. It's pricey, yes. But now having used it, I'd pay twice the amount. I have this one. There are other products out there, like the Belly Bandit, but this one was made specifically for post C-sections and abdominal surgeries. It helps support the incision, and the compression helps with post-surgery swelling. When I first used it, I thought that it was the cause of that super painful burning, like maybe it was putting too much pressure on it or causing a rash, but after talking to Trisha and taking the binder off, I realized that it wasn't related at all. I have it on pretty much all day and then take it off at night to let the incision breathe. The feeling of the surgery site with it on and with it off is night and day. Updated: Again, I've since learned that the burning is the nerves regenerating. NOTE: Some hospitals provide these. ASK before buying!

4. Keep ahead of the pain.
Use the pain meds they give you. They are there for a reason! You won't get a prize at the end for not using them.

5. Move around.
The more you move, the more it hurts...but the better it feels in the long run. It's painful. It's excruciating. You might experience a weird burning sensation that is more painful than everything else put together (Updated: the nerves again!). But it goes away, and each time you walk it will go away more quickly. I tried to get up and walk the hallways at the hotel every hour or so. Make your spouse or whoever is taking care of you make you do it. There were many times I wouldn't have done it without Chris, and I'm glad he was there. On the drive home, we stopped for about 20-30 minutes every two hours. If you’re flying, be sure to walk the aisles regularly. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks of you, limping along, walking slowly, hunched over, clutching your travel pillow. You will never see these people again, and you need to take care of youself. Just do it!

6. Don't overdo it.
You don't want you incision to open up, and you don't want the pain to become unbearable. If you overdo it, you'll be less likely to want to move around again in an hour, and in the long run that will prolong your healing time.

7. Drink lots of water and eat healthy food with lots of fiber.
Don't eat heavy, rich foods before or after the surgery. You won't poop for a few days anyway. Eating light foods - avoiding fried food or any of that food that makes you tired afterward - and drinking lots and lots of water will help you work through it. So say no to that hamburger and yes to that grilled salmon salad. Or something. I started taking Colace three days before the surgery and am continuing now. For what it's worth, I still haven't pooped...but it's not painful. Yet. UPDATE: I pooped. It was horrifically painful. I cried. I should have followed my own advice more. So to this I add: Drink MORE water. MORE. Have a water bottle with you at all times for the few days leading up to the surgery, bring a water bottle to the hospital, and have one with you when you leave. Make sure it's always full, and always be drinking from it. Also, eat lots of high-fiber foods. Raisins. Prune juice. FiberOne bars. Whatever it takes! And maybe take some of your drugs before you go for the first time. Note: If you are having your surgery at UCM, they don't give you a water bottle. You get a pitcher and paper cups. I should have brought one with me to the hospital to make drinking while laying down easier.

8. Go pee regularly once your catheter is out.
I don't know if this is universal, but for me, the pressure of a full bladder is really, really uncomfortable and actually makes standing and walking painful. So go pee right when you first feel that little tingle to avoid it. Keeping your bladder as empty as possible will keep you comfortable. And besides, you should be walking all the time anyway. ;)

9. Stretchy, comfy clothes.
I wore the hospital gown the entire time I was at the hospital. Once I got discharged, I changed into lounge pants, a tank top, and a sweater. I bought the lounge pants at Target the day before we left in a size larger than normal (they tie so I can cinch them tighter if needed). I can wear them above the incision or below and they're perfect. I have a million pairs of these Supersoft Hiphuggers from Victoria's Secret and they are the perfect post-surgery underwear. No tight elastic and they sit higher than the incision so there's no rubbing. I also brought a light summer dress (like this chemise from Anthropologie; thank you birthday gift cards!) that would have been completely perfect and I wouldn't have to worry about the waistline irritating the incision, but I never wore it. Truth be told, I barely changed. I wore one outfit on the drive down, lounge pants and a tank to the surgery, that same lounge pants and tank home to the hotel, and then stayed in same outfit for the next two days. I know, I'm dirty. I changed into different pants and a tank for the drive home, more for the sake of anyone I might run into at rest stops than my own. Looking like a dirty hobo who hasn't washed her hair in days for my husband is one thing, but for the general public I'd prefer a slightly cleaner reputation.

10. Get a Brazilian wax.
I'll give you a second to compose yourself. But seriously. It helped. Well, it didn't help, I guess, but it definitely prevented some uncomfortableness and pain. You don't have to go full Brazilian, but getting rid of the hair around where the incision was going to be definitely made life easier for both me and the surgical staff. When they pulled off the bandage, it didn't hurt at all, since there was no hair for the tape to pull out. Before the surgery, the staff didn't have to shave or clean up the area at all. I guess usually they shave it, and then use strong tape to pull up any remaining hairs, so basically a wax anyway. Might as well get it done by a pro! One of the nurses asked if I got it done just for the surgery, and said she always tells friends to do it when they're having C-sections or other surgeries in the same area. And yes, it's pretty painful if you've never had one before. But compared to the surgery itself, it's a piece of cake. Take a few ibuprofen, forcefully breathe out with each strip getting pulled off, and if you're really worried use some of this.


11. If your surgery is at UCM, use valet parking.
It's cheaper than the parking garage (for all time periods) once you get it validated from the hospital.

That's really about it. I slept most of the time in the hospital, so I didn't have to worry too much about entertaining myself. When I was awake, I watched bad TV or read a book. Chris got a new computer game just before he left so he played that pretty much the entire time and was glad for an excuse to sit around and play it. We brought a bunch of movies and TV shows and I downloaded a ton of books for the Kindle, but we ended up not really needing most of it. Your experience might be different, though, so I'd take all that you can. Better too much to do than to end up bored!

If anyone has any questions at all, please feel free to ask! Trisha is a great resource as well, especially if you're having it placed during pregnancy. Just know that you will hurt. You will be swollen. It will burn (though I still don't know exactly what is causing that). But quite literally, it gets about 50% better each day.

All in all, I think it's pretty obvious that this will be well worth it once we've got our one or two or three or four kids running around the house. Knock on wood, cross your fingers, and all that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Superhero: The TAC Details

I now have a bionic cervix. Does that make me a superhero? A super woman who is now able to carry a child to term! Oh, wait. That's most women.

Prior to heading out to Chicago, I'd read other stories of the surgery - particularly Trisha's and Jaded's - and had very specific ideas about what to expect. None of them truly prepared me for the excruciating pain. I don't think that it's possible to really wrap your head around it unless you're actually experiencing it. I was also expecting a ton of waiting and it to be loud and busy and crazy, but since I was the first surgery of the day, it was the opposite. Yes, we had to check in at 6am, which meant waking up at 5am, but it was well worth it. We didn't have to really wait at all, and everything proceeded on time. Highly recommended to get that slot if you can swing it.

We left Omaha Wednesday afternoon to drive out to Chicago, which took about an hour and a half longer due to tons of construction. On the way there, I got a call from the hospital asking if I'd consent to having my surgery photographed for some magazine. Of course I said yes - I'm all for educating anyone I can about the TAC. I told Trisha about it and she joked that my cervix would now be bionic AND famous. Autographs, anyone?

Once we arrived in Chicago, we got some deep dish pizza (can you go to Chicago without doing that?), checked into the hotel, and grabbed a few hours of sleep. I wasn't nervous at all, surprisingly. The next morning we woke up early, around 5:30, and headed to the hospital. We found the parking garage right away, and note: you do have to pay to park. Which...am I just small town spoiled? Paying to park at a hospital? Valet is actually cheaper, so I recommend that, and obviously that has the advantage of delivering you right to the door.

Once we checked in, Chris was given some paperwork to read over and a code that he could use to check my progress on a monitor. I was called to pre-op almost immediately with three other patients who were also having various surgeries. They set me up in a little curtained-off area with a recliner where I changed into the hospital gown, was given an IV, took a pregnancy test (which I knew would be negative, sob) and answered a bunch of questions about my medical history. When she was putting in the IV, she couldn't do it in the back of my hand like she prefers, because I have "tiny" veins. She has to do it in the crook of my elbow, which meant I had to keep my arm straight...a problem since they put it in my left arm and I'm left handed. So ouch. After about 45 minutes, they brought Chris back to wait with me. Dr. Haney, a few of his staff, the anesthesiologist, and a few residents talked to us, answering any questions we had and giving the details of how the next two days would progress. I was under the impression that I'd be given the choice between general anesthesia and a spinal, but I don't remember them actually asking. I told them about my bad epidural experience, so maybe they made the choice for me based on that. The nurse then walked me back to the OR room, and Chris went back to the waiting room.

The OR room was just like in the movies - bright white, big lights, bed in the middle of the room. It was a little surreal. They strapped me onto the bed with my arms out, crucifix style...and that's the last thing I remember.

The surgery took about two hours - longer than average thanks to my severely retroverted uterus. After it was over and I was in recovery, Dr. Haney talked to Chris for about 20 minutes and let him know that the surgery went well, and they talked about the loss that we experienced. Dr. Haney told Chris that while I was going under I was chanting to the staff, "Let's do this! Yeah! Bionic Cervix! Whoo!" and got them all excited. Don't ever give me drugs. When I woke up, I was in a recovery room and Chris was next to me. I remember very little about the next few hours. I felt really shitty. My stomach didn't hurt - but my head was groggy and I felt dizzy and nauseated, like a really bad hangover. I was in recovery for about three hours, and drifted in and out of consciousness for most of it. I vaguely remember Chris taking this picture of me and asking if I looked cute. Obviously the answer is a resounding NO, but he said yes like a good husband. That black cord I'm clutching for dear life is the pain pump. I could press a button every eight minutes to dispense pain meds.

After I was deemed sufficiently awake, the transporter (sadly, not Jason Statham) wheeled us across the hospital complex to my recovery room in maternity. It shows how far I've come in my grief that it only momentarily bothered me. The last time I was in a maternity room was after delivering Caleb.

Chris brought up a body pillow, another pillow, and a blanket that we'd brought from home. Best idea EVER. I would not have been even the slightest bit comfortable without those things. We spent the day watching TV, movies, and I slept on and off. Chris played Civilization 5, and I think he was glad to have an excuse to be off work and play a computer game all day. ;) In terms of pain, there was actually very little from the incision. However, I was extremely dizzy and felt sick whenever I moved my head. I attempted to have some water and a bit of a smoothie, and immediately threw it up. Hours later I tried to eat dinner, and threw that up too. The puking is what caused my incision to hurt - without that, I would have still been fine, pain-wise. Of course, that also could have been thanks to the pain pump. Since after dinner I was still feeling dizzy and nauseous, the anesthesia resident came to check on me. I had to get my blood pressure taken laying down, sitting up, and standing. Standing, it was 90/60, which I thought was low, but apparently it was okay. The resident said I was just taking a long time to recover from the anesthesia - that is, after grilling me to make sure I wasn't suffering from drug withdrawls. "Could you be suffering from withdrawl from anything? Do you take any illegal drugs? Be honest." Yes, ma'am. The lack of heroin at the hospital is positively disgraceful! Ok, I shouldn't laugh. I know people lie about drug use all the time at hospitals. But I'm me, and I'm so not a drug user...I don't even drink caffeine. (Not because I'm some crazy health nut, but because it upsets my stomach, so you can go back to not being impressed.) That was the first time I'd sat up or stood and it hurt like a mother effer.

Shortly thereafter, around 10:30, Chris headed over to the hotel to sleep for the night. I fell asleep right after he left, but woke up off and on until about 3am, when I woke up for good. I passed the time reading and watching TV, which was difficult since I had the IV in my left arm and had to keep it straight. Every time I bent it, an alarm would go off and I had to call the nurse to turn it off. A catheter had been placed during the surgery (while I was out of it), and I hadn't even realized it until a few hours into the day. At one point I felt like I had to pee really badly, which I knew wasn't right because of the catheter (which, by the way, I couldn't feel at all and didn't hurt a bit). I had to call the nurse yet again - I think I was a "problem" patient - and it turned out the tubing had gotten tangled so it wasn't draining correctly. The relief I felt after she untangled it was amazing. I wouldn't mind having one of those all the time, you know, minus the whole having to carry around a pee bag thing.

At 4am - almost a full day after the surgery and a little over twelve hours since I'd been in recovery - the nurse came to remove the IV and catheter. Neither hurt, but since I was still feeling dizzy from the drugs, the nurse decided to keep the IV cap in just in case I couldn't keep down the pain pills and they needed to do intravenous drugs again. Luckily, I was able to keep down two Percocet. Just after that, I had to get up to pee, which was again excruciating. It was actually kind of funny (the situation, not the pain), because I couldn't go. I could feel it right there, but nothing was happening...so the nurse ran some water and put my hand in warm water. Is that funny just to me? That nurses use frat party tricks to make you pee? Okay then.

After that she had me sit in the chair for a few hours. Apparently I was supposed to have done that the day before, but due to the dizzy spells didn't want to risk it. Around seven I got back in bed and tried to get some more sleep. Dr. Haney came and talked to me for almost an hour around 8am to make sure I didn't have any more questions. We talked a bit about the sad state of treatment for second trimester losses. Chris made it back to the hospital around 9:30 (after leaving an hour earlier... Chicago traffic!), just in time to miss both Dr. Haney and a crying jag, after I'd asked twice for more pain pills and over an hour later they still hadn't arrived. That was the only real failing of the hospital, and the nurse apologized profusely when she finally showed up. I had some breakfast - about one bite of sausage and one bite of French toast - I just wasn't hungry at all. I was able to keep that down, so they decided I was okay to be discharged. They removed the IV cap, I changed into my street clothes, got one last dose of Percocet, and waited for the transporter to arrive to wheel us out to the car. I was still feeling the incision from puking, and was still dizzy and feeling slightly nauseous. However, as you can tell from the picture, I felt a lot better.

The ride to the hotel sucked for obvious reasons, as did the walk from the parking garage to the hotel room. I'm sure I looked like total hell and like someone fresh of a bender or something. Chris made me get up and walk around the room every hour or so, and oh my god. I don't know exactly what caused it, but Trish said she had it too, so it must be normal, but there was this burning sensation that was beyond excruciating. It wasn't at the site of the incision, but off to the side. I have no idea what it was, but I still feel it occasionally, and it's the most painful part. I kept taking two Percocet every few hours until I passed out for the night.

The next morning (this morning) I woke up and could tell it felt a ton better already. I still have slight dizziness occasionally and the incision is still painful, but the terrible burning sensation is mostly gone. Don't get me wrong - walking around still sucks. And my back is killing me from walking around stooped over. But compared to yesterday I already feel better. I haven't had any discharge or bleeding, which I know some women experience. I bought an abdominal binder that is specifically for use after C-sections and abdominal surgery, which has helped quite a bit by supporting it and offering constant pressure. I also take a travel pillow with me to press against it when I am standing up or coughing or whatever. Each time I walk it's really painful for the first few steps, then gets progressively better. Right now, it's a toss up between what hurts worst - my back or my incision. I'm down to one Percocet every three hours. The bottle actually says one pill every four to six hours, but the hospital said one to two every three or four hours, and I called my best pharmacist friend and he told me that what the hospital said is fine, especially for just a few days. They gave me 50 pills, which means I'll have plenty left over to sell on the black market. Takers?

I keep half joking to Chris that I'd better get fucking pregnant now that I've gone through this. And I will say that I'm now scared of the C-sections that I'll be having in the future...this is painful shit! And to do this on top of having a newborn? Yikes. I don't know how people do it. Maybe the newborn cuteness acts as a numbing agent or something.

So now I just wait. Wait to feel back to normal, wait to get knocked up, wait to put this damn thing to use. Oh, and wait to shower. I am grosssssss right now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm TACed!

I now have a bionic and famous cervix! It's 3am here and I can't sleep, but I also cam barely type thanks to an lV, so I'll write out the surgery story later and tell you why my cervix will soon be signing autographs.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Emotions

I don't know why, but this week has been really hard. I made it past Caleb's due date, and it was hard, but I survived. A couple weeks later our good friends had their baby girl, and I'm just thrilled for them. Insanely jealous, of course, but I think that's to be expected. I love seeing pictures of her.

But for some reason, I've just been really emotional and sad this week. I don't know exactly why. I know I'm disappointed that I'm not pregnant yet. I know I'm sad that I don't have a newborn. I know I'm sad that I never got to complain about stretch marks or swollen ankles. I know I'm so frustrated that all these sixteen-year-old girls with no jobs and no insurance and no support keep getting pregnant. I know that I'm just so stressed and mad at work and every day that I'm there reminds me that I was going to quit after the baby was born and work from home on my own business, and take care of the baby. I know that I see babies and pregnant women everywhere and while it no longer sends a knife thought my heart, I still think about how unfair it is that it's a breeze for most women, but the women who seem to want it the most have to fight for it the hardest, and some of them never achieve it. I know that I got in a fight with Chris yesterday and started crying and couldn't stop and I'm crying now and I have to suck it up and stop because I need to leave for an engagement shoot in seven minutes.

My surgery is in just a few days, and I'm so excited. Not scared, yet. Talk to me again when they're coming at me with a scalpel and I might feel differently. But not yet. I'm excited, but I'm worried. For the vast majority of women who get the TAC placed pre-pregnancy, there's absolutely no impact on their ability to concieve. But for a very few number, it does seem to make it more difficult. I should be able to relax in comfort knowing that almost everyone is able to go on and have a baby with no problem, but once you're on the losing side of statistics, you never find numbers comforting again.

God, I just want to be pregnant. I just want a baby. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

YES!

Just got word that insurance approved the TAC surgery! I almost cried. YES!!!!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

...except it's not Wednesday and I'm not wordless. I feel wordless. I feel like I have nothing to say. The truth is, I'm just kind of frustrated. I'm not pregnant. I didn't REALLY think I'd get pregnant right away, but I'd hoped.

And now in our second month, I haven't ovulated yet. Hello, world of complete and total TMI that comes with the territory of talking about trying for a loin fruit.* But whatever, right? I talked about spewing a tiny person from my vagina, so talking about something so innocent as an egg (or lack thereof) is comparatively tame.

So I both chart and use the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor (CBEFM). That means that I generally know the exact day I ovulated, exactly how long each phase of my cycle is, and just generally am pretty in touch with my body. The CBEFM measures two different hormones in your body, and tells you which days you have high fertility and which days are peak fertility. Generally, you get a few days of high, followed by a couple days of peak, followed by another high day. For instance, last cycle I had high readings on CD 13 and 14, peak readings on CD 15 and 16, and a high reading on CD 17. I ovulated on CD 15. The cycle before that I had a high on CD 16, peak on CD 17 and 18, and high on CD 19, with ovlulation on CD 18. The cycle before that, I didn't have the monitor, but I didn't ovluate until CD 23. Today is cycle day 19 and I haven't even gotten a high reading yet.

My cycles were getting MORE regular and MORE typical, and then this cycle all of the sudden is going back to late ovulation. If I even ovulate at all. Stressing about it probably isn't helping (don't you know that all you need to do to make a baby is relax and have fun? Or, more likely, be 17 and in the back of a Chevy), but dude. You need an EGG if you want a BABY. And my g-d ovaries aren't reasing their little prisoner! Come on, you little bitches. Just one. Give me my egg! It's mine! You can't friggin' keep it from me!

Anyway, so that's frustrating me.

And then I was thinking about getting pregnant at all, and I realized that holy mother of god, I don't want to go through all that again. I want to jump right ahead to 20 weeks. I don't want a freaking poppyseed. I want a cantalope. I worked my way to a cantalope and I want my damn cantalope! You really should be able to just jump ahead to where you were pushed off track. Look, dude, I didn't ASK to leave the baby train. I was forcibly removed! I should get a free pass to get back on at the same stop I got off at. It was a long enough trip there. Do I really have to start all the way at the beginning again??

And on top of that, there's a mother fucking mosquito biting me in my own house! You don't belong in here! Get out!

So yeah. Frustrated would be my word of the day.

On the plus side, I had some really awesome coconut bonbons over the weekend. But now they're gone. So back to frustrated.



*Is loin fruit the best way you've ever heard of to refer to children, or THE BEST WAY you've ever heard of to refer to children??

Friday, September 3, 2010

Due date

Just trying to make it through today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crawl under a rock

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. Friday is Caleb's due date. I'll never be able to forget his due date because it's so close to my birthday. I had it in my head that maybe I'd go into labor a few days early and we'd share a birthday. Or even better, he'd be born a few days early and I'd still be able to say I was 29 when I had him. I should be worrying about my mucus plug falling out or my water breaking in the middle of Target, not worrying about whether surgery is the right decision and whether I'll ever be lucky enough to be pregnant again. Can this week just please be over?

I miss him so fucking much.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Man with the Plan

So, like I said in my previous post, my surgery is scheduled for September 30. I have to report to the hospital at 6am (SIX. A. M. Gahhhhh.) on Thursday the 30th. I'll be there overnight and discharged Friday, then we'll come home Sunday (I mentioned this is all going on six hours away in Chicago, right?). I should be able to resume normal activities about 10 days later.

It will be similar to recovery from a C-section, only without the trauma of just having pulled an 8lb baby out of the incision. On the downside, you also don't have a cute newborn to distract you from the fact that there are staples. Staples in your stomach. Where no staples should ever be. Maybe I'll put a bib on Riley (our 100lb hound dog) and pretend that he's a baby. That's veering off into towel-baby territory, isn't it? I'll just take a step back from that statement now.

Ahem.

After all my worries that Chris wanted to wait an extra month or two before we started to try again, he DID decide that he was on the bandwagon to FWP last month (FWP = my favorite baby-making acronym: 'fucking with purpose.' Be sure not to put a typo there and type 'fucking with porpoise,' which is an entirely different animal. Literally.).

Sadly, the much-despised Aunt Flo is here, so month one of trying to conceive is a bust. That's probably a good thing since Chris spent much of the time in the week before I ovulated drinking with his buddies,* and I'd prefer a non-flipper baby...but now that I say that I'll absolutely take a flipper baby if that's what I get. Hey, he'd be a great swimmer, right?? We're not waiting until after the surgery to keep trying for a baby, however. If I get pregnant between now and then, we'll just push the surgery back until I'm 10 weeks along, which is when they prefer to perform the procedure if you're doing it during pregnancy.

T-minus 36 days. Whooo!



*Chris was actually pretty cute when he realized that we'd been trying that week - he freaked out a little that he'd gone to a bachelor party and told me that next time I needed to let him know beforehand so he can not drink. Which is a pretty generous offer considering his work has beer Fridays. My work doesn't have beer Fridays. I want my work to have beer Fridays, and then I want to NOT be able to participate because I'm knocked up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I think I'm going to do it!

Where it stands right now is.....

I think I'm going to do it. Almost everyone I've talked to has expressed the same thought I have: "Better safe than sorry." If a (fairly) minor surgery is what it takes, then it's a small price to pay. I keep reading story after story after story about TVC (the vaginal cerclage) failing, especially when it's placed on an emergency basis. Apparently your cervix can tear right through that sucker. Who knew?

I keep thinking: if I don't get it placed and something happens, I'll never forgive myself. I'll blame ME for losing another pregnancy, or if my child has health problems from being a preemie, or anything like that. But. If I got it placed and NOTHING happens, and I have a successful pregnancy, I'll never know whether it's because the first time was a fluke or if it was because the TAC (abdominal cerclage) worked. Obviously, since the TAC was the only thing that would have changed, I'll assume it was that. Therefore, I won't be able to regret having it placed. Does that make sense? And if, God forbid, I had another loss after it was placed, I'll know that I would have done everything I could have done to prevent it. In all those scenarios, the only time I come up with any possible regret is if I DON'T do it. So I have to do it.

Granted, something could go wrong with the surgery itself. I could have a bad reaction to some part of the it, but the risk there is so minimal I can't consider it. I've gone under before, and generally they say if you've done it once without issue you'll be fine in the future. And Dr. Haney is one of the few doctors in the world who is an expert at this, so I feel 100% confident in him doing the surgery.

Dr. Haney has another Omaha patient who was cared for by the team at the other big hospital here, and I called that MFM team today and they are willing to take me on - and support the TAC decision - once I am pregnant.

So if a C-Section is what it takes to get our take home baby...well, then my husband can just thank his precious-vajayjay-not-ripped-up-from-vaginal-delivery stars.

Now all I need is to get the surgery scheduled and to get knocked up!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Conflict resolution

Hmmm.

HMMMMM.

That's all I can really say. Once again, I'm super conflicted and left to sort out the pieces on my own. I said it in one of my other posts, but I'll say it again: I hate that the lives of future children depend on me making the right choice in treatment. This is why we GO to doctors! So they can tell us what to do! I want to blindly be pointed in the right direction, please.

I had the Maternal-Fetal Medicine appointment today and it was a mixed bag. On the plus side, he agreed that the loss could very likely be the result of an incompetent cervix.

On the down side, that's about all he agreed with.

He would place me on progesterone shots, though there's no evidence that they are helpful one way or another with 2nd trimester losses like mine - they're proven to help later in pregnancy, but studies haven't shown they are helpful at 20 weeks. But then, they haven't been shown to NOT be helpful either, so there's no reason not to use them.

Where we really derail is regarding the cerclages. He believes that a TAC - or any cerclage, even - is overkill. He wouldn't place a preventative vaginal cerclage at 12 weeks, but would place an emergency one if the bi-weekly* cervical scans showed funneling or shortening of the cervix. He listed the risks of TVCs as the main argument against using one unless absolutely necessary, such as risk of rupture, infection, the cervix rejecting the stitches, etc. When I brought up TACs, he repeated the conventional wisdom: that they are only used when TVCs fail. He also said if a TVC is overkill, a TAC is beyond overkill; that it's riskier to place a TAC; that you always have to deliver via C-Section (all of which I knew).

I asked if there was a chance that your cervix could go from "okay" to "Houston, we have a problem!" in the two weeks between checks, and he said it's possibly but not likely.

Dude, it wasn't likely that my water would break and I'd lose my son. NOT LIKELY means nothing to me at this point. When you're on the losing side of statistics, numbers are never comforting again. (Ahem...a bit of frustration apparently, there.) I asked if doing weekly checks during the timeframe when my water broke would help at all, and he said it wasn't necessary but if it would make me more comfortable, he'd have no problem doing it.

I wasn't processing very well at the time, so I missed questions that I now want to ask. Like: "If you think it's IC, I don't understand the 'wait and see' approach." Like: "I thought that placing emergency cerclages were riskier than placing preventative cerclages. Is that the case?" And: "If so, why wouldn't you just do a preventative one?" And: "Please can you just give me a magic pill to fix everything?"

So now, I have a consensus on the diagnosis but two very different treatment plans.

If it happens again, would I ever be able to forgive myself for not moving forward with a TAC? Really, that's all it boils down to.

But the idea of going "behind" my doctor's back and doing something he specifically said wasn't needed makes my heart race, like I'm cheating on a test and scared of getting caught. Only this time I'd have to tell the teacher I cheated. How do I even do that, anyway? "Hey, I'm pregnant..and I'd like to be seen by your high-risk group...and, um, I had a TAC placed, despite your recommendations." For a majority of doctors out there, having a TAC placed with just one loss is...I don't know, equivalent to having chemo started with one abnormal pap smear. I'm sure they'd think I was crazy...and probably that Dr. Haney is too. I know he's on a mission to eradicate the TVCs because of the risks associated with them - namely, that they fail up to 25% of the time, and in the 75% of cases where they work, you still end up with premature babies up to 40% of the time. And the skipping the TVC to go straight to the TAC - that's an out there proposition that few doctors prescribe to today. But I get it. I'm on board with it.

Don't get me wrong - I really, really like the doctor that I saw today. I have full confidence in him. If I hadn't talked to Dr. Haney, I'd be all over this treatment plan. But he doesn't have the stake in this that I do.

I suppose the next step is a third opinion. Sigh.



*One of those confusing words with multiple meanings. Here we're looking at every two weeks, although I'm not going to lie - I'd love twice weekly. Or even daily. Hourly, perhaps. Maybe I can just permanently hook an ultrasound machine up to me?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why have this blog?

A blogger - who in all other regards I would generally agree with and probably get along with in person - recently devoted two posts to these "baby loss" blogs. She questioned why anyone would have one, why people feel the need to post pictures of their children who have passed away, and the general mental health of someone who keeps this type of blog. She believes it "cheapens" death and the emotions of grief and sadness, and is disrespectful to the dead. It obviously sent a ripple through our little close-knit community and hurt deeply many of the bloggers that I love. Because I know that these aren't uncommon thoughts, I wanted to share the response I posted to her blog (things I added afterward for clarification in brackets):

I just wanted to let you know another side, maybe. I lost my son at 20 weeks pregnant. I loved him for five months that I carried him, and for the 20 minutes he lived after he was born. Losing him is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. It absolutely broke my heart. I blog about it for many reasons, but mostly because it's cathartic for me to get my feelings down on paper (per se) and because it allows me to point friends and family to one place for updates on how I'm doing, rather than having to repeat it constantly. In five months of pregnancy, I grew attached to the little being I was feeling every day, and I had plans for the future of our family. So many plans. On top of the loss of an actual physical person, I'm mourning the loss of all my plans for the future.

I started my blog as a pregnancy blog, and after he died it turned into a loss blog. Hopefully if I become pregnant again in the future, it will be about that. While right now it certainly talks about my son a lot, it's a life blog...and right now, in this point of my life, I'm mourning him.

I know it bothers you, and I know it bothers other people, but the other "baby loss" blogs out there have helped me tremendously in the healing process. Knowing that I'm not the other one who has suffered this loss, knowing that the feelings I've felt are normal, knowing that missing my son is totally okay - that has helped me come to a good place. While obviously the subject is controversial, I also enjoy the pictures. It makes their children more real, and gives them substance. It lets me see other babies that passed away around the same time as my son, and validates my experience and my journey. Believe me, blogging has not hindered my healing or caused me to focus on my loss. It's been the complete opposite. If those blogs didn't exist, I'd probably be in a dark corner cradling his baby blanket and trying to feed it.

I have pictures of my son. I took them while he was alive, but it's likely that they would bother you or anyone else just as much as dead baby pictures do. People see a small, under developed baby...I see my son. I think he was beautiful and I'm proud of him, and I enjoy sharing his pictures when people ask to see them. No, I don't have any on my blog, but it's not because I don't want to post them. It's because I'm scared of the reactions of people who might stumble across them. No one should have to censor what they post on their personal blogs - your posts are great examples of that - and I hate that I'm scared shitless to share my pictures.

For many years, taking pictures and celebrating the dead was the norm. Death is and was an everyday occurrence. It's only been fairly recently that people have stopped talking about it and stopped being open about it. The community is trying to change that and to get rid of the stigma associated with dead babies. Yes, it's disconcerting and maybe even traumatic for people who haven't suffered losses to come across these types of blogs, but they are vital to our little community and essential for our healing - since death [particularly baby death] has become such a terrible, unnamed thing in our society, we have to find connections through things like these blogs. And it is terrible and unnamed - after my loss, six people who I've known my entire life came up to me and told me that they suffered similar losses....and I had no idea. These people all have carried an enormous amount of pain inside them for years (one was 80 and still cried on a regular basis because of a loss 60 years ago) because of that stigma - if it was a brother or parent that died, they wouldn't have thought twice about sharing their grief. And yes, these babies didn't life a full life, but we imagined a full life for them, and losing that hurts as much as anything else. Hopefully [because I've had the chance to be open about my loss], when I'm 80, instead of having this secret [grief], I'll remember my son and the small amount of time we had with happiness, and to everyone who knows me it will just be a part of me - not a good thing, certainly, but not a bad thing. I had a baby who died, I loved him, and that's just a part of my life.

Anyway. I would never expect you or most people to be comfortable with these blogs. But perhaps this will give you some small insight into the world of why they exist.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Club

Betsy mentioned in her latest blog post a book about baby loss that she read and enjoyed (linked below). I can't second her recommendation more; it was an amazing, powerful read. When I finished, I had a huge smile on my face and tears streaming down my cheeks. I was overjoyed at having found this book, heartbroken at her story (and mine), thrilled with the happy ending. While the details she wrote about are hers alone, in the overall story she could have been writing down the the music to a song from my own heart. And that song is one familiar to all DBMs. I started highlighting passages, but had to stop when I realized that on one page more was highlighted than was not. At one in the morning, the second I finished it, I emailed her to let her know how much it touched me and how perfect it was. I'm sure the email was completely nonsensical and full of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but I had to let her know how it touched me.

The book is called An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken. I can't recommend it enough. I wish I could buy a copy for everyone who has gone through this and I wish I could make everyone who doesn't understand what I'm going through read it.

Two other books that I also found comforting and enjoyed (well, as much as one can enjoy a book while they are in the throes of grief) are Naming the Child, by Jenny Schroedel and A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis (yep, that C.S. Lewis). Both great books. A little more religious, but I'm not a religious person at all and didn't find that aspect overwhelming with those books like I did some others. A Grief Observed is about the death of Lewis's wife, but his insights are universally applicable.

All three highly recommended, and all three are fairly quick, easy reads.

(C.S., Jenny, Elizabeth...I take kickbacks.)

(C.S. I know you're dead but you can send some winning lottery numbers my way and we'll call it good.)

Dr. Stitches

I just got off the phone with the Dr. Miracle I talked about in my previous post, or Dr. Stitches, as Courtney calls him. We were on the phone for about an hour and 15 minutes...and holy cow, does that man talk a lot! But in a good, "I'm-really-passionate-about-what-I'm-telling-you" way, not a condescending "I'm-the-doctor-so-you'd-better-listen-to me" way.

We went over my history in more detail and he was more convinced than ever that I have incompetent cervix, and he's certain that when I talk to the doctors they'll agree. We (well, he) also talked about the types of cerclages in details, and why he believes that the only person who should ever have a TVC (transvaginal) is one who refuses to deliver via c-section and who is willing to risk the death or extreme prematurity of another baby. His mission is to replace all TVCs with TACs (transabdominal), as he believes they are safer and more effective by miles. We talked about the risks, the procedure itself, future pregnancies, and what the next steps would be if I decided to pursue this option.

Seriously, we talked for over an hour and it would be impossible to summarize it all here, so if you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer.

But I think it's obvious that I'm in love and would drive myself to Chicago tomorrow if I could.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

People are Good.

That friend, "Sally"?

She amazed me today. I'd posted a link to "Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope" on Facebook and forgotten that my story on there linked back to this blog. I'd never meant for her to see anything that I posted - this was my place to vent about things that might be misunderstood by outsiders.

But she saw it.

She saw everything.

And she wrote me a beautiful, sincere apology. I was visiting my grandma in the hospital (recovering from hernia surgery) so I couldn't call, but I immediately texted her to let her know I got it and how much her words meant to me. We had an open, emotional exchange and I felt so much better afterward. I hope she did too.

Looking back at what I wrote now that we've talked, I'm ashamed. I considered deleting it all. But you know what? It was honest and raw, and what I was feeling. I'm sure it hurt her to read it; it hurt me to write it and to experience it. Of course, I never meant for it to be painful for her - just a catharsis for me - but in the end, I'm glad for both of us. It healed a wound and closed the book on a chapter that was extremely difficult for me. And okay, the wound probably isn't completely scabbed over and the book isn't closed all the way, but the process has begun. When we were talking I got excited to see her baby belly and meet her little man in a few months. I know it will never be easy - she's living the life I should be living, that I WANT to be living more than anything - but I'm still looking forward to it. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. And I am. I think. Right?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dr. Miracles?

My mind is just spinning. (This is going to be a long one; I apologize in advance. But when aren't they?? I write like I talk....a LOT.)

I have a friend who lost her twin boys at around the same time I lost Caleb. She had true incompetent cervix; she was 2cm dilated and her bag of waters was bulging out before she went into labor. Recently, she found her "Dr. Miracle" and has been having consults with him. She emailed me and told me that during their consult, he mentioned that he firmly believes nearly every case of mid-trimester loss can be linked back to one cause: incompetent cervix (IC), where your cervix either funnels or opens prematurely. To treat IC, most doctors will do something called a transvagincal cerclage (TVC). This puts a stitch at the bottom of your cervix to keep it closed. The problem with it is that because it's low in your cervix, your cervix can still funnel down to the stitch, creating a V shape that puts all the pressure from the bag of waters on one small point, so the chance for pPROM occurring again is present. To prevent this, a patient with a TVC usually goes on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy. It has about a 80% success rate. If all goes well, the stitch is removed once you've reached full term and you can deliver normally. Another way of treating IC is by placing a transabdominal cerclage (TAC). This puts the stitch at the top of your cervix and is 99% effective, and requires no bedrest. However, it's permanent and all future pregnancies must be delivered via C-section. Most doctors and insurance companies won't approve a transabdominal cerclage unless a transvaginal one has already failed.

For several reasons, I didn't think that IC was the cause for me, but at her urging I looked up his profile and emailed him. My email to him and his reply to me are below:


MY EMAIL

Hi, Dr. Haney!

I was given your name by several different people. I'm not sure if my situation is something that can be treated, or if it was truly a "fluke". My water broke at 18.5 weeks pregnant in April of this year and I went into labor at 19.5 weeks. Obviously the baby did not survive. One of your huge advocates, Txxxxx Mxxxx, said that you mentioned during her phone consult that almost all cases where the woman went into labor mid-trimester are cases of IC. I THINK I'm one of the rare cases where that wasn't the situation, and just wanted to hear your thoughts and be sure that I and my doctors are not missing something.

According to the last ultrasound I had, on 4/9 (my water broke on 4/7), my cervix was high and closed. They didn't do a vaginal ultrasound, though, and I'm not sure how accurate abdominal ultrasounds are for cervical length. When I did go into labor, I was a fingertip dilated and they had to give my Cytotec to allow me to deliver.

I have had a full RPL panel and an HSG and thus far none of the tests have come back abnormal. My doctor suspects placental abruption, but the pathology came back clear without any signs of that. I had spotting during the pregnancy and I know that blood can act as an irritant and therefore cause your water to break.

I'm assuming that because my cervix wasn't dilated when I went into labor and the last ultrasound showed a good cervix length that I didn't have IC, but just wanted to verify and ensure that we're looking at all possible angles.

Thanks!
Lara

HIS RESPONSE EMAIL

Dear Lara,


I am sorry to hear of your loss and am sure this was devastating for you. You history is virtually conclusive of an incompetent cervix. There is virtually no way you could have preterm labor or an abruption at 18.5 weeks. That is why your pathology revealed nothing as the problem is your cervix, not placental abnormalities. If your spotting occurred in the weeks prior to your loss, this likely represented the bleeding associated with cervical changes as is common at term when cervical changes precede labor. I can explain it better over the phone but the funneling of the cervix which is seen in IC is caused by inadequate support at the top of the cervix. As the membranes descend into the top of the cervix they contain the amniotic fluid and the hydrostatic pressure from the fluid pulled by gravity widens the “incompetent” cervix. As the membranes containing amniotic fluid continue downward and shorten the length of the cervical mucus column, vaginal bacteria come into contact with the membranes and the inflammation causes the rupture of your membranes. Since the dilating force is related to the descent of your amniotic fluid-filled membranes, once your membranes rupture and the fluid is lost, your cervix no longer has this hydrostatic wedge and the cervix will temporarily appear normal by ultrasound because of its elasticity. To detect funneling, you would have to have had your ultrasound prior to the rupture of your membranes.

Quite simply, this was no fluke as membranes don’t rupture with a normal cervix. Unfortunately, my experience tells me that you have IC and will undoubtedly repeat this clinical course with subsequent pregnancies. I can appreciate that this may be a bit confusing so I would recommend that we talk on the phone so you can ask all your questions and get a clear understanding and make a decision you are comfortable with.

You can arrange that by contacting my assistant, Ms. Exxx Fxxxxxxx, at 773-xxx-xxxx. I look forward to speaking with you. Good luck.


A.F. Haney


Needless to say, this shocked me. It was absolutely not the answer I expected. My mind went a million places.

This was never even mentioned as a possibility by my OB. Is this a cutting-edge study? Is it something that most doctors have considered and dismissed? Is this one of those beliefs that have doctors split?

Could it be a scam? Honestly, one of the first thoughts I had was, "Yeah, but isn't he going to say that to everyone? Is he preying on bereaved parents who would do anything to have a living baby to get them to do this super expensive procedure?" Would a doctor really be a scam artist? I don't know enough about the medical field to know, but we're conditioned to respect doctors and trust their opinions.

His profile looks respectable, though, and his explanation makes complete logical sense to me. I don't see how it can "just happen" - doesn't there have to be a cause for everything?

I'll take this email and whatever information I get from him during my phone consult (scheduled for Friday) and present it at my MFM appointment and see what they say. If the MFMs don't agree, then do I go against their advice and look into it anyway? Do I get a third...or fourth...or fifth opinion until I find someone else who agrees with Dr. Haney? What if the MFMs are on the fence about it? What if they say it's not the cause at all? How would I even pursue Dr. Haney's ideas without offending my local team of doctors?

And I hate to say it, because I would do absolutely anything for a live baby (see: wearing diapers on my head), but I would be disappointed that I'd lose my chance for a natural, unmediated delivery if I had to have a TAC. Obviously I would come to terms with it, but it'd be yet another thing to mourn the loss of (along with Caleb, my innocence, my naivety, the excitement for another pregnancy, the ability to say "when" instead of "if" when talking about the future...). It's the least of my concerns, but since I'm being so honest here, it was another thought I had. "Oh...there goes my hippie, soothing, moving around, unmedicated, natural birth plan!"

So. many. questions!!

I hate that the world of maternal fetal medicine (and even regular OBs and RE and all that) isn't conclusive and that there are so many differing opinions. It's up to each of us to find the theory/doctor/practice that we believe is most correct, and if we choose wrong....we could end up with another dead baby.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life, as it happens.

Since having a huge, epic cry over finding out that our "friend" is having a boy, I've been doing pretty good. And I have to give a shout out to Chris (who doesn't read this, but I still feel the need to give props) for dealing with me that night. I know he didn't quite understand where I was coming from, but he just let me cry and held me, which is exactly what I needed. And in the morning, I felt better. I won't say I'm entirely at peace with the fact that they're having a son (and that she's blogging about "folding cute, little clothes for my son...my special little gift to come.") but I got most of the emotions out during TearFest July 2010 and have been feeling pretty great since then.

I've talked a little bit before about our plans for any future pregnancies and what we've been doing thus far. I would wear a dirty diaper on my head if it meant that I would have a take-home baby in the future. I'd accessorize with air fresheners and glitter, but damn straight I'd rock that diaper 24/7 if it'd help. Hence the supplements I'm taking, the acupuncture I have scheduled for next week (so excited), the tests I've brow beaten my OB into performing, etc. Anything I can do to achieve a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, I'll be all over.

That being said, I don't really know that my OB is on the same page as I am. I love her - she's very nice, extremely competent, and also very unworried. She's confident that it was just a fluke and that I don't need to make any changes for the next pregnancy, especially after all the tests came back normal. She's probably right. But I can't shake the feeling that I need to be doing SOMETHING proactive next time.

So today I called the Maternal-Fetal Medicine department (MFM) and scheduled a consultation. After my water broke, I saw one of the MFM doctors and he had mentioned that while not necessary, I could be a candidate for MFM care next time. Since I haven't felt 100% comfortable with the lack of action plan for next time (other than a couple extra checkups/ultrasounds), I want to explore my other options for care should I get pregnant again. I am not hoping for miracles; I don't think they'll be able to give me answers as to why this happened; I don't think they have some magic test that hasn't already been performed. I am hoping that they'll be more understanding and offer me weekly or bi-weekly checkups and ultrasounds to keep my mind at ease; that they might be more aggressive with treatments (even if unnecessary...if it can't hurt, I want to do it); that they might be more willing to work with an admittedly bat-shit-crazy-paranoid woman (a title which I loathe, but is well-earned).

I told Chris the other day that I have this sinking feeling that our journey isn't over yet and that this will happen to us again...that there is something wrong with me that the HSG and RPL screen didn't pick up. I'm sure that's coming from a place of pure terror and is normal when when something this devastating occurs for seemingly no reason. But in the back of my head, I can't help but think we have to go through this one more time before we get our take home baby. I hope not. I really, really hope that's not the case. I know people who have gone through this more than once and it's so fucking unfair. But they made it through...and I know that if it does, I can too. That being said, please god no.

Where's that crystal ball when you need it??

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lucky

I wasn't sure I'd ever call myself lucky again, but I am, really. I am lucky enough to have some really amazing friends (I also have an amazing family and amazing husband, but that's a post for another day). July 24 was supposed to be my baby shower. My best friends had planned the date well in advance because their jobs don't give them a lot of flexibility, so they had to start early to find a date that would work for everyone. Yesterday, I should have be 34 weeks pregnant, huge, and sharing in excitement and love with my friends and family (while awww-ing over adorable baby clothes, of course). Because they knew it would be a hard date for me, they took me out to celebrate our friendship. We went to dinner, had a few drinks, and then played games* at one of my friend's parent's house. If your friends don't have amazing parents, that might sound weird, but I laughed every minute I was there.

It feels like forever since we lost Caleb, but I still haven't been without him as long as I had been with him. That blows my mind. And it won't be until the very end of August that I'll even reach that milestone. Wow.

*Telestrations. Get it. Best game EVER.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't get me wrong.

"You need to get over it."
"People are going to have babies...boy babies...you can't let it make you sad."
"Don't let it bother you."
"Can't you just be happy for them?"
"You'll have one too someday."
"Focus on the positive!"

Look, I know. I get it. The world doesn't stop procreating and people don't stop having boys because of what I went through. I'm not going to lie to you; if there was a button I could push to make that happen until I caught up, I totally would. Selfish? Sure. Self-preservation? Absolutely.

You can't force yourself to feel something other than what you do. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for them. I'm glad they are living the dream. I know that they were really looking forward to having kids - and lucky them, they got pregnant right away and have thus far had a perfect pregnancy.* I wish nothing more for them than a screaming, healthy baby in 20 weeks. I'm glad they didn't have to suffer infertility or miscarriages to get where they are.

But.

BUT.

That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. It doesn't mean I'll ever be able to look at their son without thinking of my son who should be running around, three months older than their son. I understand how easy it is to say that I can't let it bother me, but unless you've been in my exact shoes or worse, you simply don't get it. And I'm GLAD you don't get it. Because getting it would mean that you are suffering as much as I am. But it's going to bother me. It's going to make me sad. It's going to be hard. It's going to make me mourn the loss of my son all over again.

I can't make you understand if you don't. It's a gut feeling. It's a certain drop of the heart. It's tears welling up without control. To go as far in the opposite direction for an example as I can, imagine that you put in a bid on a dream house, and didn't get it. Shortly thereafter, your friends put in a bid on the same house, and get it. Wouldn't you be a little jealous of them every time you visited? Wouldn't you think, "Man, this should be my master bathroom with jacuzzi tub and marble tile!"? It doesn't mean you're not happy for them - but come on, they're living in the house you always wanted, and that's gotta sting. Or imagine you saved up for months to go on some fabulous vacation to Italy. At the very last minute, it fell through, and you have nothing to show for it. You're out all that money, all that time planning, all that excitement you had. A few weeks later, you find out your friends are going on vacation. And not just any vacation, but that exact Italian vacation that you wanted to take. Wouldn't you be sad you didn't get to go? Wouldn't you think to yourself, "Man, I wish they would have chosen to go to somewhere else, anywhere else." You'd be happy they got to have an amazing time, but you still wish you would have gotten to go on YOUR vacation. And you think it'd be a lot easier to look at their vacation pictures if they were showing you pictures of Australia, or Antarctica, or Arkansas, or anywhere other than Italy.

It's like that.

Times a million.

*Fertility ho's**, as we call them one on of the forums I go to. And there's nothing wrong with that. I was a fertility ho until we lost the baby.
**Don't get me wrong. As much as I complain, they're good people. I think. Self-centered, thoughtless, tactless people, but still okay people. They deserve a baby as much as anyone else.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gdamn it.

They're having a boy. Of course. Of freaking course.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

traveling

I spent the last week or so traveling; first to Philadelphia and then to St. Louis. I flew to Philly, but drove to St. Louis and back. About an hour into my trip home from St. Louis, I saw a pro-life billboard that said something like "You have one job...protect her and keep her safe." with a picture of a late-term fetus. And of course, there's nothing like seeing a billboard like that while driving by yourself with nothing to take your mind off it. Bring on the waves of guilt! I had one effing job to do...to keep my baby safe for nine months...and I failed spectacularly. He did his job; he was perfect. I didn't do mine. I was the only one who COULD keep him safe, and I'm the only one who failed. Once he was born, the task of keeping him safe and alive would be shared by dozens of people - Chris, relatives, babysitters, teachers, doctors. But for those 40 weeks, it all was on me. And I didn't pull through for him. Needless to say, I spent about an hour of the drive home crying uncontrollably.

After I'd finally pulled myself together, I stopped to eat and checked Facebook on my phone. The "friend" I've mentioned a few times (Sally) just keeps shocking me. There are so many things going back years that she's done that are thoughtless, but she's seemed to ramp it up since she became pregnant (or, more likely, I'm now more sensitive to it). She posted on about a big surprise...her first stretchmark. She emphasized that it was tiny and barely noticible, but said, and I quote, "It really is devastating." It took all my strength not to reply to her, "Sally, I don't think you actually know the definition of the word devastating." Or maybe, "Wow, if a stretch mark is devastating, what do you consider what happened to me?" Or maybe, "No, Sally, a stretch mark is not devastating. MAYBE disappointing. Certainly not devastating. Losing a baby? That's devastating." Or maybe just a simple, silent wish that she gets super fat and covered in stretch marks.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Snake oil and quackery

I'm not a crunchy-granola hippie - I haven't checked my shampoo for phthalates; I eat lots of frozen foods chock full of unnatural preservatives; I love coating myself in chemicals to fake a tan; I got the flu shot; I plan to vaccinate my kids. But I was going to a midwife and planning a natural birth and I am open to the idea that modern science might not have all the answers; that you can't necessarily isolate one part of the body and diagnose it without looking at the rest of the body as well.

Today I went in for a consultation at a natural healing center, which was recommended by several people. I figured it couldn't hurt to see what they said about getting my body in balance and the best health it can possibly be in for the next baby.

During the consultation, I told the herbalist/healer/owner guy about my medical history (it's always so comfortable telling guys about your period, amiright? Or is that just me??) and about what I hoped to achieve...namely, a baby. Full-term. Alive.

He checked a pressure point in my ankle, my eyes, the pulse in both wrists, my ear, and my tongue. He said that my pulse is pretty sluggish and that I might be slightly anemic. He also diagnosed a food allergy by looking at my tongue - which one he can only guess at, but that he's confident that I have one. He also mentioned (based on a slightly inflammed pressure point and history) that I might have minor thyroid issues. He advised that I continue to take the supplements I currently am taking (Vitex, Pom juice, fish oil, Green Tea, acidophilus, prenatal) and added a fertility one and a tincture that he explained in detail, but I can't remember the details other than that he was adding something for digestive health and stress. I've had issues with dairy before, so he advised trying to cut that out for a week, then the last day adding it to all three meals to see how I feel. If that doesn't seem to be the allergy issue, I'll add it back in and cut out something else the next week.

In a month or two when we're actively trying to conceive, the supplements will change, and once I get pregnant, they'll change again. He said that he knows of several herbs and supplements that are thought to help strengthen the amniotic sac and can help prevent pPROM.

Whether any of that is backed up by actual medical science, I couldn't tell you. But I'd drink the urine of a unicorn if someone told me it'd help. So I'm giving it a month or so to see what happens - whether my cycles become more regular, if I feel like I have more energy, if I'm sleeping better - and if so, I'll continue it. I'll also likely add in acupuncture at some point. It certainly won't replace modern medicine, but I'm hoping that supplementing it with a more holistic approach will help. And if it doesn't do anything, then no harm done...right? RIGHT?!?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

No, that's not comforting...but thanks?

Attention:

Telling me, "Well, at least you can _____________* now that you're not pregnant!" is in no way a comfort to me. I hope you realize that I'd give up doing ___________ for life to still be pregnant? I know, bright side and all, but really all that does is remind me that I'm not pregnant any more. Truly, a hug and an "I'm so sorry" is sufficient. I don't need to be told that God has a reason (unless he's personally told you the reason for this happening?? In which case, I'm all ears!). I don't need to be assured that "at least you know you can get pregnant!". I don't need you to assume that something was wrong with the baby (there wasn't). Don't tell me that it wasn't the right time or that maybe God is pushing me towards adoption (unless, again, you've spoken to him personally? In which case might I recommend a talk show?).

Just a hug is fine. Really.

*Drink, have sushi, go on vacation, go on roller coasters, scuba dive (um, I live in Nebraska...?), do a headstand while snorting cocaine, whatever.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Holiday cheer

I cannot WAIT for the 4th of July! It's my favorite holiday by far. Granted, I will have to deal with seeing the person I was talking about in my previous post (the friend that I've cut out as much as I can), but I'm hopeful that fireworks and s'mores will remedy that. What CAN'T fireworks and s'mores remedy, really? Not much, methinks.

I can't believe how fast this summer is going. It's hard to believe that it's been 10 weeks since I lost Caleb, and that when I was pregnant with him I thought this summer would drag on FOREVER. Not so! His due date is just around the corner...less than two months away. And with it is my birthday. I didn't remember until today how close our birthdays were supposed to be - mine is August 31; his was supposed to be September 3. Damn!! The two will always be associated in my mind.

I've spent most of the last 10 weeks thinking about next time. We've had so much advice from so many friends and family, and I seriously appreciate all the different viewpoints (and trust me, this post is directed at no one in particular...we've been hearing all sides for weeks now!!). Because my cycles were so irregular before - like, it's amazing it happened so fast with Caleb - I'd like to get going sooner rather than later [see: turning 30 in August]. The sad fact is that no matter what, if we get pregnant anytime in the next two years, this next baby (pleasepleaseplease let there be a next baby) wouldn't have been here had Caleb lived. However, I hope that our next child never feels like they are just a replacement, because truly they will have to some extent saved me. I did talk to the doctor about whether waiting any additional time could be beneficial; she assured me that it made no difference whether we waited three or four or five months. There have been some studies that have shown better outcomes if you wait a year or two, but, um, no way [see again: turning 30 in August]. This journey has already been long enough without stretching it out even further by waiting that long to even start trying. And it might take that long to just get pregnant, who knows?? I feel so much joy and hope and the prospect of finishing what we started back with our Big Fat Positive and I know that I'm ready when my body is. But I would never ever pressure Chris into trying if he wasn't ready. Ok...that's a lie. I would totally pressure him. But I'd never ever actually try if he wasn't fully into the idea. The sight of a plus sign on a test is going to be emotional enough; I don't need to feel nervous about his reaction on top of that - the same reason I never threw out the birth control pills before he was ready (despite the suggestions of several friends, an aunt, and a fortune teller.) (Ok, the fortune teller may not have said EXACTLY that but I was trying to convince myself that's what she meant so that it would be FATE that got me pregnant and not me cheating on birth control....who can argue with FATE?) (Well, clearly I can since I talked myself out of it.). Hopefully he comes around to three months; if not, then we'll wait four. In the long run, it's just a month and in the long run, September 3 is just an arbitrary goal that I seriously understand may not - probably won't - happen. I mean, it'd have to happen on our first shot, and while I'm sure Chris's boys are good swimmers, I'm not sure they're THAT good. I'm going to be gutted on September 3 no matter what, and if I have a bit of excitement to look forward to that day, then I'll take it. And if it doesn't happen....well, it'd be just a sprinkle of disappointment on the sundae that is life.

Wait, what?

Worst analogy ever.

In sad news, my mom found out that the college she's worked at the last four years is closing suddenly. She just found out yesterday - after a student called to ask her about it, no less - and school was supposed to start in just a few weeks. They're not sure if they'll be able to pay the teachers for July and August (which was in their contracts). She's completely devastated, and I spent today crying with her. I know it doesn't seem like a huge deal, but especially in this economy, especially in the post-secondary teaching world....it's going to be difficult to find a new position. I know that she just feels like the universe is dumping everything on our family and she's just waiting for the next shoe to drop. Hopefully fate is one-legged and there's not another shoe coming.

Good Lord, what is with these terrible analogies today??

In happy news, it's fricking beautiful out. Like the best weather we've had all year. I kind of want to take the next week off and just lay out back reading and sit on our porch and go camping and hiking and possibly float down a river in a barrel and be outside constantly. Mmmm. Just thinking about that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Is it wrong strongly resent work for keeping me inside during this weather?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Keep on keepin' on

Nothing really worth blogging about has happened recently. I'm almost mostly good. I am still sad. I still cry sometimes. I am excited to try again. I'm terrified to try again. I have pretty much had to cut one specific person out of my life and avoid her (not you, Rachel! Love you!) because I can't stand hearing about or seeing her pregnant. She's quickly approaching the time when we lost Caleb, and seeing her pass by that date is going to be a stab in the heart. If I'm entirely honest, I'm not excited for her. The jealousy and the feeling of unfairness has completely overshadowed any bit of excitement that should exist. Part of it is just who it is...there are other women who are having babies who I AM excited for. Still jealous of, yes, but there exists at least a modicum of excitement as well. Just not for this one person. It's just too unfair.

Chris and I are having a "debate" about when to start trying again. We were cleared to go after three cycles, but he wants to wait four just to be sure. My number one huge gigantic goal is to be pregnant by Caleb's due date, and if we wait four we won't hit that goal. It's unlikely that we'll get lucky enough to hit it waiting three cycles, and with four cycles it's impossible. He can't understand why it means so much to me to be pregnant again by that specific date, and I can't understand why he thinks waiting another cycle will be any safer. Since I need his cooperation, we'll probably wait four. But I'm continuing to try to convince him otherwise. I need some sort of bribery! Sex won't work (I won't have sex with you unless you have sex with me???). He buys himself all the gadgets and electronics he wants. Maybe clean, folded laundry every day so he doesn't have to root through a laundry basket for a pair of boxers? Putting on the "good wife" apron for a little while might just do it.

I just wish that the world wasn't chock full of reminders about what I lost. Example: Yesterday I went to the Summer Arts Festival - a local street fair - with my family, and not only was it apparently Pregnant Women Day, but the entire festival reminded me that last year when we went, Chris and I had just decided to try for a baby later that year so I went with the mindset of finding things for a nursery and child's room. Seeing those same booths this year - the wooden train here, the rubber ducky painting here - was such a slap in the face. HAHA! fate seemed to say, HAHA! Get excited about having a baby and be confident that you'll have one by this time next year and I'll show you!

Yeah, well, curse words and inappropriate hand gesture to you, fate. You sure showed me!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Planning Ahead

When I was pregnant with Caleb, I was extremely superstitious. I didn't buy anything for him until well into my second trimester. I didn't want to jinx anything. By the time my water broke, I had purchased a few outfits, but everything I had for him fit into one small box that is now packed up at my mom's house waiting for baby number two.*

I've always loved baby things, and started keeping a bookmark folder full of things I loved - toys, nursery decor, clothes, furniture - well before I was pregnant. Like maybe two years before I got pregnant (don't tell my husband!!). I came close to deleting it after Caleb died, but instead just renamed it and moved it so I wouldn't see it every day. After a month or so, I started slowly saving new things to it. Just one here, one there...but it was a start.

Yesterday I got an email that Threadless was having one of their rare $10 sales. Threadless is a community-based t-shirt design company, and on any given day there's a 90% chance that either my brother or my sister is wearing one of their t-shirts and a 60% chance that they both are (sometimes the same design). I don't wear t-shirts, but when I discovered that they sell onsies and kid's tees, I was beyond excited. So cute! When I found out I was pregnant with Caleb, I started stalking the Threadless site, waiting for one of those sales. The sale never happened in the five months that I was pregnant, so Caleb never got his Threadless onsies.

When I got the email, my heart leapt - and then sank. I had no reason to buy them.

But then. Then I had a revelation. Last time I was so cautious. I did everything "right." And a fat lot of good that did me. So screw it. I was going to take advantage of that $10 sale. And I was going to do it now, before the designs I loved so much went out of production.

Photobucket

And I did. I bought my next baby some onesies and some baby tees. I can't worry about what might happen next time. I am going to fully embrace the next pregnancy and the next baby and not be so superstitious. World, you will know when I'm pregnant the second the pee dries on the stick. I'm not wasting a moment before celebrating.

And maybe I'll have another loss. Maybe there won't be a next baby. I hope there will, but maybe there won't. And if that happens...well, I suppose the clothes will go to a niece or nephew. But I can't let that fear control me. I did last time, and I regret it.

So yes. I bought my as-of-yet-nonexistent-2nd-baby some clothes. And it felt great.



*I kind of love the idea that the next baby will have hand-me-downs from his or her older brother - just like in a regular, non-dead-baby family!