Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Follow-Up and Healing

I had my follow-up appointment today with my Ob.  Everything looks good physically, thank God.  She said I can resume normal activity, gradually.  I still have to get some labwork to check my iron levels (I lost so much blood I was anemic when I left the hospital), but otherwise I'm allowed to resume exercise (desperately needed), abdominal workouts, and most importantly TTC.

However, she warned me that it is recommended to wait 3-6 months after a m/c to TTC again.  She said the risk of a subsequent m/c is higher soon afterwards.  I asked her why that is and she said it's a number of things - hormones, uterine lining can still be inflamed, basically just that your body isn't quite back to normal yet.

I was initially disappointed but maybe it's better.  Maybe I just need some time to not think about all of this IF, m/c, TTC stuff for awhile.  Even if I wait 3 months, it will put me in Feb/March, which is when Marshall was conceived, and I'd LOVE another holiday baby.  Of course, that's assuming I conceive right away.  And even though the last 2 pregnancies have happened on my first cycle of trying (or even without a cycle, in Marshall's case!), I've learned nothing is certain.  I just desperately want to be pregnant before Baby Frances' due date or I might have to be committed on May 21, 2013.  Prayers.

I heard back from my priest with our options for memorializing our babies - both Baby Gerard (Marshall's twin) and Baby Frances.  Here was his reply:

Hi Nicole, if you would like I could say an actual funeral mass for your miscarried [babies] (I think I can do both at once), because the funeral rite for children has alternative prayers for children who died before receiving baptism (the bodily remains do NOT have to be present). or there is a service in the Book of Blessings for parents of miscarried children, which is a service, not a mass. or we could have a memorial mass for miscarried children of the parish and invite other families who suffered the same thing. let me know what you want and we will talk dates and times. Fr John
I really like the idea of having a memorial mass for miscarried children and being able to invite others who have experienced it, especially since I'm seriously considering starting a diocesan IF/miscarriage support group.  On the other hand, I would really like to have something private for our babies and allow them to be recognized by name.

Any thoughts or suggestions?  Have any of you done anything like this?

I just feel so incredibly blessed to have a priest who is so pro-life and understanding and so willing to work with us on this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Yeah, I'm definitely going to have one more."

That was said to me during a conversation at the gym.  Right after I found out I was pregnant, I was in a conversation with a gym acquaintance who has a daughter about the same age as Marshall.  She asked if I was going to have any more kids.  Let me just tell you - I HATE THAT FREAKING QUESTION.  Hate it.    Because - like I know!!!  I have gotten bold recently and usually answer, "Well, I've learned that it's not always up to me."  In other words, "Hint, hint, don't ask people that, you moron."  But this time I already knew I was pregnant, but obviously we weren't telling people so I just said, "Hopefully."

Her response?  "Yeah, I'm definitely going to have one more."  Oh, really???  You know that for sure???  It was so nonchalant, like, "Oh yeah, I have my whole reproductive life figured out and I'm going to have my perfect three kids and then probably get my tubes tied and my life will be effing perfect."

Ok, I might have made up that last quote.  But it made me SO mad - even before my miscarriage - and I'm not even really sure why.  I guess because I've learned the hard way that this is soooooo not up to us.  This is not how I expected my reproductive life to go.  I didn't foresee having 4 years of secondary IF, then getting pregnant with twins, then losing a twin, then getting pregnant again right away and then miscarrying.  I mean, I know no one anticipates that.  Most people have a sort of plan, or the way they think their childbearing will go, and for a lot of people, that's exactly what happens.  Good for them.  But what about the rest of us???

I've also learned that there's not a lot of empathy going around for people like the rest of us.  True, it's impossible to understand what we're going through if you've never experienced IF or m/c.  But I feel there is also very little attempt to understand.  There are so few support groups.  I guess that's why our little blogosphere is so popular!

And praise God for it.  I've found so much support from you guys.  Stacy has been like a big sister.  I don't know how I'll ever repay her.  And so many of you have offered prayers and advice.  JoAnna recommended this book and I've just started it. It brings up a lot of emotion, but I think it will be good for my healing process.  If you have suffered from m/c, I highly suggest it:

My hubby also suggested I start The Problem of Pain .  It's a tough read, but I think it will also be good for me.

And for some escape from the real world, I'm halfway through this.

This whole thing has also reinforced my desire to start an IF support group in my diocese.  It's just that now I'll add miscarriage support to it.  Please pray for me in that endeavor.  I have a lot of discerning to do regarding my pro-life work and this new frontier.  I hope I'm on the right path.

Friday, November 16, 2012

After the Fact - Part 2

I actually MISS my baby.  I want to hold her so badly.  (Yes, I just know she was a girl.)  My babies would have been 18 months apart.  But I really tried not to get too excited before my first trimester was up.  I learned that the hard way with Marshall's twin.  But it was still pretty exciting to have babies so close in age, after such a big gap between Jack and Marshall.

While all the ups and downs of my first tri were going on, I found out my sister-in-law, who married my brother in July, was pregnant.  

I also found out that my cousin's wife is pregnant again.  They have a son a couple months older than Marshall and their kids will be 19 months apart.  I was so excited that we would have kids so close in age again (and that mine would be closer together).

I have another cousin who is 7 months pregnant.

All of these people I'll see at Christmas.  If I'm even able to go.  I was seriously considering anti-depressants a few days ago.  My mom left on Monday.  That was the worst of them.  I was unable to function.  I cried all day.  I've been through all of the emotions.  But unlike with IF, when I was pissed at God (and told Him), I've been neutral in my reaction to God so far.  I don't know if I'm still trying to figure out my feelings towards His will, or if I just haven't gotten that far yet.  I know I'm not particularly happy with the fact that He gave me a child and then took it away in such a traumatic and horrible manner.  But I haven't screamed at Him yet either.       Yet.

I was told by a friend that I would be mad at my husband and that it would be difficult to accept his offers to help because he wouldn't know what to do.  Thankfully I've found it to be the opposite.  He was so solid.  He was so there.  I know he felt/feels helpless, but he's doing his best and I recognize and appreciate it.  The other night, he just let me cry into his shoulder.  It's what I needed.  And I know this is affecting him like he never thought it would.

Then there's other family.  Siblings who just don't get it and say insensitive things.  My mom, who feels terrible that she had to leave.  My dad, who I can tell is hurting from it, which makes it hurt for me even more.  Extended family who I haven't spoken to, but who have sent their prayers and condolences.

But one thing I've learned, no matter how badly you may feel for someone who miscarries - you'll never understand unless you've been there.  

And it's awful.

I've talked to our priest about having a memorial mass for our lost babies.  I hope that will provide some closure.  We named Marshall's twin Gerard since St. Gerard was so instrumental in gaining my fertility back, and this baby Frances, after Padre Pio.  We also have one more saint in Heaven, my would-have-been-adopted Baby Jude.  We'll include him in our memorial mass as well. 

I have NO idea what God has planned for this.  I'll be 35 in February and I pray that I still have time for a couple more blessings.  I hope and pray.  In the meantime, I really hope that I was able to release a couple of souls from Purgatory.  This suffering can't be for nothing. It just can't be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

After the Fact - Part 1

I've planned to write a post this week for two months.  It was supposed to be full of joy and excitement. Instead it's going to be full of loss, pain, and sorrow.

I found out on Sept. 13th that I was pregnant.  I remember the exact date because it's DH's birthday, but that was a complete accident.  I realized that morning that my FCP had told me to take a test on P+14 or 15, and that morning happened to be P+15.  I had zero expectations.  I knew there could be a chance it was positive since we did TTC on my peak day, but it was only my second cycle since Marshall was born, and the first that we would have had a chance to conceive.  So I was in shock when I got the BFP.

I've been dying to post about my first trimester because it has been filled with ups and downs and I've needed your support.  But my mom was coming to town this past weekend and I really wanted to tell her in person.  Since family has access to this blog, I didn't want to take a chance of her finding out this way.

I called the doc and got my blood test and had my first appointment, which was pretty routine since I had just been there a year and a half ago.  I had two ultrasounds, around 6 & 7 weeks.  They were a little unnerving.  In the first, the gestational sac only measured 5 weeks and they didn't see the fetal pole.  TCIE assured me that this is normal and not to worry.  My second ultrasound was at 7 weeks and we saw the heartbeat, but the baby only measured about 6 weeks.  Although my doc was happy and said it was consistent with the first and the heartbeat was strong so I didn't worry.  During the next few weeks my levels were monitored and were always perfect so I felt comfortable.

I had a routine appointment at 9 weeks and she didn't hear a heartbeat, but she assured me that this was normal and she could hear the uterine vessels which meant the baby was growing.  So again - I didn't worry. Three weeks later, at 11 weeks & 6 days, I had another appointment.  Still no heartbeat.  Doc was certain it was because I have a tilted uterus which makes it harder to hear (and I was technically not 12 weeks yet), but wanted to be sure, so we scheduled an ultrasound for the next day.

I was worried, but tried to stay positive.  After the u/s tech was done, I immediately knew something was wrong.  Instead of bringing my DH into the room to see the baby, she said she needed to show the images to the radiologist.  She tried assuring me that "this is routine procedure."  But I'm not stupid.  It's the exact same thing they told us when we lost Marshall's twin.  When everything is fine, they just call in DH and show us the baby.  They seriously need a new procedure.

I was made to wait about 20 minutes before they finally told us to go upstairs to the OB's office and talk to a doctor.  I knew it was over.  After another 15 minute wait he finally called me into a room and told me the baby only measured 8 weeks (I was now 12) and there was no heartbeat.

He told me I could have a D&C, wait for it to happen, or he could give me a pill to speed up the process.  I've never been here before.  I didn't know what to do or think.  He told me to go home and think about it and get in touch.

Just this choice was traumatic and painful for me. In my line of work, "D&C" has a certain connotation that didn't sit well with me (even though I knew the baby was already gone).  On the other hand, the thought of passing this baby at home was something I couldn't bear.  After asking advice from some bloggers (you know who you are, and I can't thank you enough), the next day I elected to have a D&C under sedation.  This was Friday afternoon and I was able to call my doc back and get it scheduled for 9am Saturday morning.

I felt so relieved just having made a decision.  I was unstable enough just having learned I lost a baby, but then the decision of "what to do" just piled on the agony.  So it was a huge weight lifted when I made the decision and had the procedure scheduled. The doctor said there was still a chance I could miscarry overnight.  I told him how terrified I was that I would pass the baby at home.  He said that since the baby had been gone for so long, there would likely not be any recognizable body. For my sanity, I had to believe that.

The relief didn't last.  I started bleeding at 8:30 Friday night.  A lot.  I know I don't have to tell a lot of you how unbelievably horrible miscarriage is.  But it's nothing I could have even imagined.  I was so pissed that God didn't at least let this wait until morning.  It was all such a nightmare, and then He had to go and keep piling on the shit.  But if there was a silver lining to all of this mess, it's that it happened at night when DH was at home, and it happened the weekend my mom was visiting.  At least she was able to be home with the boys.

My poor husband.  He was there for me through it all.  He's usually a pretty unemotional guy, but I've never seen him like this before.  He was visibly distraught.  But he was there.  He was my rock through all of it and I absolutely couldn't have gotten through it in one piece without him.

Especially since he had to drive me to the hospital at 2am.  The bleeding got so bad that I was feeling faint and came close to passing out several times.  He called the doc who told us to come to the hospital immediately.  I was terrified to get into the car because I was still bleeding but I knew we had no choice.

When we got there by blood pressure was extremely low and I had tachycardia (heart rate over 100).  And apparently I was as white a ghost.  They put me on IV and a heart monitor.  Thank God they were able to get my heart rate down rather quickly, and stabilize my blood pressure.

They took me to the OR around 3:30am and I got an emergency D&C.  They told me there was a chance I would need a blood transfusion.  The procedure didn't take long and I was only under an IV sedative.  I had to stay at the hospital all day on Saturday so they could monitor me, and make sure my blood count went up, because there was still a chance I'd need a transfusion.  They finally released me at 6pm and were happy with my count - it was low, but within range of not needing one.

I'm supposed to take it easy this week.  I still get woozy sometimes and I have a headache that I cannot shake.  But physically I'm getting better.  Emotionally it's still rough but I've gotten out the last 2 days (and showered and dressed) and that seems to have helped a lot, although certain things tend to set me off.

We'll call this one the "logistics" post.  I'm sure there will be a few "emotional posts" in the next few days.  But in the meantime, thank you to those who already know my story and have been praying.  I assure you, the prayers are felt.