Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Surprise

It was a Friday when I recognized this familiar feeling that my diaphragm was squeezing my chest like a tightening zip tie. I went on about my day, the thought always in the back (far back) of my mind, and told my husband when he got home that I thought something was up. Amazingly, I was very calm and collected about the whole thing. I told him I wasn’t worried about it really, we’d go through the weekend and see how I was feeling on Monday. It felt the same way as last time, but different. Very hard to explain, but it felt “right” this time. I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t freaking out, I didn’t have a million crazy thoughts running through my head… I felt very peaceful. Monday came and went and I still had this gut feeling that my body was preparing for something big. So I went to the bathroom and grabbed the only pregnancy test I had left (as I swore I would never buy them again) and took a seat on the throne. I held the little white stick in the flow of urine until I was empty and set it beside me while I wiped up. When I turned to put the cap on it, there it was, clear as day… "PREGNANT"

The next few moments were a flood of contrasting sensations. First, I giggled at the test in delight… Next thing I knew I was cussing at the stupid white urine wand and had chunked it at the waste bin. Acting like I had not just gone psycho on a piece of plastic, I strolled into the kitchen and started taking everything out to make dinner. I remember thinking, “what the hell is wrong with you?” I started laughing hysterically - tears running out of my eyes, snot down my nose, drool out of my mouth and cackling wildly… Yep, this was real. No sane person would have gone through so many emotions in a 2 minute time frame unless they were being bombarded with hormones (or watching Lifetime). I ran in the bathroom and grabbed the test, praying both that I didn’t break it and that pee wasn’t splattered all over the walls from me hurling it across the room. I took a picture of the reading and sent it to my husband with the following message, “Either I don’t know how to work these things, or I’m pregnant!” His response, “Seriously, okay, I'm on my way home.” *giggle*

The next morning I went to take a blood test, and 3 hours later the phone rang with the good news. This time I did 3 rounds of blood testing over 8 days so they could make sure my hCG levels were rising like they should be. This was totally different than last time. I felt relaxed and ready for whatever was going to happen. And this time I was prepared. I set a couple of rules for myself that I would follow to a “T” and I knew what my rights and options were this time. I waived the pelvic culture until after my 10 week mark, which is as long as she would allow me. I did this because the culture seemed to be where all my problems started last time and, while I don’t blame my OBGYN for the miscarriage, in order for my head to be in a positive place I had to avoid this procedure as long as possible. We scheduled an early ultrasound, per my request, at the 6 week mark to make sure everything looked right in there (I knew that the heartbeat should be visible between the 5-6 week mark). I promised myself I would not look at baby things online until after the first trimester was over, so as not to get too ahead of myself (the baby bed that I ordered when I found out I was pregnant the first time was delivered the Saturday after we found out there was no heartbeat, what a slap in the face!). We also decided not to tell any family until we got a good look at the healthy beating heart of our little nugget.

Everything went smoothly until the week of the first ultrasound. Where there was calm and peaceful thoughts, slowly filled with anxiety and fear. I wasn’t sure that I could go through another devastating ultrasound. Every time I went to the bathroom, I checked the toilet paper closely to see if it had even the smallest hint of pink to it (as in held it two inches from my face). I paid attention to every little twitch and cramp and pull and tug and fart that my body made. Finally the day had come; it was time to see what was going on in there. As we sat in the waiting room (again for over an hour) my husband played Words With Friends on his phone and read the newspaper. I wanted to strangle him for being so nonchalant about the whole thing, just acting like it was another day at the doctor’s office. I asked him if he was nervous and he just smiled telling me he wasn’t worried one bit and that everything was going to be okay… he could feel it! I could have spit on him for being so positive and not being worried the least little bit. The same technician that we had 3 months earlier called our name, and we headed to the back. I wasn’t in the mood for messing around, it was all business today. Before she had closed the door behind us, I had my drawers off and was spread eagle on the table. “Let’s just use the wand so we can see a clearer picture, yeah, and please give me some good news,” I demanded of her. She didn’t skip a beat and got right to it. The nerves… oooohhhhhhh the nerves. I wanted to close my eyes, but at the same time I didn’t want to miss a single little detail. I held my breath for what felt like 10 minutes. Then I saw it, the little flutter… THERE WAS A FLUTTER!!! A little bitty tiny wee little flutter. Holy shit!!! I just let her do her thing (while the fireworks went off in my chest)and show us what everything was. I clinched my husband’s hand and just thanked the heavens for that little flutter. Warm, gooey, melted relief washed over my entire body, like I had just taken a shot of hot sake. We were capable of producing life!

The next 6 weeks dragged on like molasses running down the side of a mason jar. Waiting is just something you have to get use to when you are pregnant because you have never waited for so many things in your life as you do when you are pregnant. I disapprovingly let them take the cervical culture, and thank GOD the Q-Tip came out clean or I would have freaked out and probably strangled my OB with my thighs (I actually pictured that scenario in my head when she was under that cover). At 10.5 weeks we had another ultrasound and wouldn’t you know it, my little nugget was just a dancing and moving around in there! Growing on schedule, little moving arms and legs and a huge head and body all very distinguishable, and that little beating heart just fluttering away in there. They even let us take a short video (see below)! Eeb was right, I could feel it too, we were going to have a baby! When that 13 week mark finally came, I was so relieved. It was like I could finally breathe and take it easy for the next 27 weeks. But week 13 brought with it a whole new set of challenges and obsessions, and whether to stay with my OBGYN would be the first of many big decisions we would have to make!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Blow - Part 2

There are no words to prepare any woman for this conversation. Shock. Devastation. Disappointment. Disgust. Bewilderment. Confusion. None of these words even come close to describing even the first 10 seconds after the ultrasound technician left the room. I felt like I had been robbed, like someone had stolen a vital organ from me… and then a couple seconds later my thoughts shifted to self infliction.  My mind started to rewind and review every little thing over the past week. Trying to think of anything I did differently in my routines - maybe it was the pregnancy workouts, or maybe it was the sushi we ate, or maybe I stood in front of the microwave at work for too long (that thing is like 50 years old and could be putting out some major radiation!)… I didn’t want to be touched, or looked at, or talked to… I just wanted to drown in the silence of the room. My husband just wrapped his arms around me and squeezed so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. I heard the door open in the middle of heaving and tried my best to gain some self-control so I could focus on my OB. Needless to say, I barely heard a word of what she was explaining because all my energy was being occupied by trying to keep myself in one piece and not splat all over the walls. I did hear her mention something about it wasn’t my fault, and this happens to about 20% of all pregnancies, and how the most probable cause of the miscarriage was chromosomal abnormalities… blah, blah, blah. Okay, so I did hear a few key notes behind what she was saying, but I was still mystified. Then she asked me if I had any questions and I think I just stared at her blankly. What did she expect me to say, "Sure, lady… I have a million questions. Do you have a day or two to talk things over? Want to have lunch and talk about it?"

She handed my husband a bunch of pamphlets and literature on grief and loss, and asked if I wanted her to schedule a D&C (dilation & curettage – basically they heavily sedate you before entering vaginally and remove the dead embryo and yolk sack) for that afternoon. I was taken aback by how quickly and easily this question was asked and that it looked like she actually expected an immediate answer from me. 3 minutes ago I found out my baby had no heartbeat and now she just wants to suck it out like it never happened and send me on my way. Ridiculous! Instead of grabbing and shaking her and asking her why this could have happened, which is what I really wanted to do, I stayed composed and told her that we would have to take a day or two to take in everything and would get back with her on Monday on how we would move forward. She then led us to the back entrance and bid us farewell. I understand why they do this, but I felt like I was infected with some kind of disease being ushered out the back like that. We waited for the elevator with 2 other very pregnant couples, and I just bawled.

Let me take this moment to state that I have my own personal opinions which are acknowledged in this blog, however, I would never judge any woman on what intervention (be it medical or natural) that she chooses to relieve herself in a situation like this, especially when it comes from an educated mindset. Too many women think that there is only one approach to situations like this (and many other future topics that will be in my blog) because the doctor only offers one and that is just NEVER the truth. If your provider ever tells you that there is only one way to deal with whatever it is you are going through, that should raise a big red flag. There are always alternatives and it is your right to make the choice that is best for YOU, not your caregiver. Remember, they work for YOU… You pay them big bucks to provide medical advice and care for you. Yes, they went to medical school and are certified, but you have to remember that they all have their own opinions, too, and a way that they like to do things and they like to stay within their comfort zones. Giving you a limited number of solutions is a sure fire way for them to predict your decision. It is your job to take a few minutes or hours or days, if you need to, to think about your decisions because you are the one that has to live with them, not your doctor.

We decided against the D&C and chose to see if we would miscarry naturally. After the initial shock, I knew I would need closure. Having a procedure in which I would hardly remember sitting in the waiting room before hand would have traumatized my already fragile frame of mind. I can totally understand, though, why women choose this option. It just wasn't the right choice for us. I did research online about what it would look and feel like when I actually had the miscarriage. I read tons of literature, and blogs, and asked questions on a few discussion boards I was a member of. Before I knew it, 2 weeks had gone by and still nothing was happening. So I called to set up an appointment to talk to my OB about options. She knew that I was against D&C and came to the meeting prepared with an alternative, Cytotec (Misoprostol). To keep the description short, this drug is a medication to prevent or treat ulcers and all explanations of this drug warn severely about its effects on pregnant women. It is also a medication preferred by some OBGYN’s to induce labor. It causes uterine contractions and thinning of the cervix. It is these side effects that make it a useful option for missed miscarriages (meaning the fetus has died, but the miscarriage has not yet occurred). This is a very controversial treatment and should never be taken without consulting with your physician.

We weighed the pros and cons of our situation and decided to go for it. The past two weeks had been torture for so many reasons and we were ready to move on. My OB explained that it would take about one hour for the medication to start working and the whole process shouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours and I would need a few days to recover. So that Wednesday after work, I filled the prescription and told my husband it was time. This is where the past 2 weeks of preparation and research came in handy. In some ways, I’m glad I wasn’t surprised by the miscarriage because both my husband and I would have been scared to death. My heart truly hurts for women that this just happens to out of the blue. We were lucky in that we had some control in at least this one part and had a chance to mentally prepare ourselves for what we were about to go through.

The following is a little graphic:
I inserted the two little pills vaginally about 5:45 pm. About 7:00 pm I started feeling a little queasy and tense, so I ran a hot bath. By the time the tub was filled, I had started bleeding red. I sat in the tub for about 20 minutes before I started getting really uncomfortable. I tried several positions and just couldn’t get right, so I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet. Immediately I was nauseated and yelled at Eeb to get a trash can to put in front of me. I was pouring in sweat and had some back cramps. I kept trying to just focus on the lining of the trash can, but my damn dog (bless her heart, I love her) insisted on sitting between my legs and licking my calves which distracted me terribly. My head started getting very heavy feeling and my husband came to stand in front of me for support. The only comfortable spot that I could find was sitting on the toilet with him bent over facing me and my head in the crease of his neck and shoulder. Little did he know, I would demand him to stay in this arrangement until it was all over. The next 45 minutes consisted of constant pressure in my lower abdomen and pelvic floor, combined with involuntary pushing with very short 10 second intervals of rest here and there (think of having terrible diarrhea and not being able to control the release – ew!). It was very intense, but honestly, it was never actually painful. Then all of a sudden, it was over. It was like someone had slapped me in the face and woke me up. I remember telling Eeb, “It’s over, I think it’s over.” I freed my arms from around his neck and he just sighed. He was just as exhausted as I was and probably sore from bending over for an hour. I waited a couple of minutes to see if any any more remains where passing. Then I cleaned myself up, put a maxi on and we went to bed.

The next day was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. My Granny came to stay with me for the day so my husband could go to work and I slept most of the day away, not really wanting to converse with anyone. By Saturday, I was up moving around and cleaning my house (my natural stress reliever). Again, I truly believe my recovery went so smoothly because I had time to educate and prepare myself on what it was going to be like. While I never found firsthand accounts, I had a chance to process and except what was happening. It wasn’t in anyway easy, but it was manageable and I would not have changed any of our decisions would I have to make them again. Our experience, while tragic and painful and heartbreaking, brought us closer as a couple and we have a stronger bond between us because of it.

Within the week, I was cleared by my OBGYN and back to my life. I picked up where I left off, working out and eating healthy and spending as much quality time with my sweet husband as I possibly could. Before we knew it, a couple months had gone by and summer was approaching. I went to get a new bathing suit because all my other ones were a bit uncomfortable. And then something hit me as I walked though the entrance door where two guys were smoking… a wave of nausea! I sprinted through the doors holding my breath and did not let go until I got in the bathroom. I leaned over the sink and splashed water on my face. I looked in the mirror, mascara smeared down my cheeks like a hooker on a rainy night, and a thought crossed my mind… “I’ve had this feeling before, but that’s impossible???” Well, apparently nothing is impossible!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Blow - Part 1

"Trigger" warning for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive - You may want to read this after you have given birth. This was the hardest phase to write about, so I've split it into two parts. I already had most of this written out from a year ago, but it's taken me 3 days to get up the courage to post it for the world to see. While it's therapeutic to get these feelings documented, it takes a great deal of gut-wrenching nerves to put it out there to be judged and criticised by all. But it is a subject that is so much more common than I ever knew.

I had been working out about 5-6 days a week for about an hour a day, putting on my music and doing some rigorous ballet bar routines (my absolute fave workout) and every once in a while adding in a Brazilian Butt Lift video (the most fun 30 minute workout ever!).  One day I was in the middle of a workout and totally out of breath. My routine is intense, but they were steady and consistent throughout and I’ve never been completely out of breath before. The next day I couldn’t even get through my initial 15 minute stretch without having to catch my breath several times. I knew something was off.

I looked on my period tracker (an app on my iPhone which I had not looked at in at least a month) and noticed that I was due for a visit from the Red Lady the next day. So I figured maybe I was just tired and would take a day off from flailing around in the living room. I’m VERY regular, as in “my cycle starts between 12 noon and 2 pm on the 28th day 11 months out of the year” normal. So after 2 more days of waiting and panting and still no flow, I called to make an appointment with my OBGYN.

I remembered the day like it was yesterday. It was a Tuesday and I went to get my blood drawn before I went to a bid announcement for work in Port Allen. My meeting was at 2:00pm and I was sitting in the car passing time when the phone rang… it was the hospital! I answered the phone without actually saying anything. The nurse finally asked if I was there, and I just grunted.

I guess she knew I was holding my breath, so she began “Kelli, I just wanted to call you and let you know that your hCG levels need to be over a 3 to be pregnant and your levels are at 151.”

I could feel my eyes well up and I finally caught my breath. “No shit! Really! OH MY GOD!!! What do I do now?” I kind of half yelped-half screamed at her. Thank goodness she took it as excitement and laughed at me in amusement. She went on to explain that I was about 4 weeks along, per the hCG levels, she would set up an appointment with my OB in a couple of weeks to do a culture and I would have my ultrasound at 8 weeks.

4 weeks, that’s nothing right… WRONG! 4 weeks is a long freaking time… My mind went crazy. We told our family that it was official and confirmed this time. I even videotaped (with America’s Funniest Home Videos in mind) my mom’s reaction when she opened a paper bag with a pair of infant shoes in it. She totally freaked, as expected, and immediately ran to my husband and shook him screaming “WE’RE GONNA HAVE A BABY!!!” I even went so far as to order a convertible crib from JC Penney online that was a steal. But it still didn’t feel real.

I went to my first OBGYN appointment with a couple na├»ve, first-timer questions and she took a culture of my cervix (process: legs are in stir-ups, salad tongs are inserted into vagina and locked open, a super long Q-Tip is inserted and it is gently swabbed along the cervix). This is when my first stage of panic began; when she pulled out the cotton swab it was bloody. The look on her face was one of alarm and then forced calm. She gave me a maxi and said she hoped it didn’t bleed that long and said she’d see me the next Friday for my ultrasound and bid me farewell. What do you say? Even if I did have a question or concern, I would not have been able to put it into words in the 30 seconds after she closed the clamps and left me to my fears. I did the only thing I could do; I put it at the back of my mind and went home…

A couple days later I was still spotting, I called the nurse and she said it was completely normal and she would see me for the ultrasound in a couple days unless I felt it was necessary to come in sooner. I didn’t know any better, so I tried to just stay calm. I told my husband I didn’t feel right, I had a feeling that something was off. It’s a very hard feeling to describe, one that can only be understood by another woman who knows firsthand where I’m coming from. We know our bodies!

Eeb and I sat patiently in the waiting room for an hour before being called in for our ultrasound (and we were 20 minutes early). On the outside, I was the vision of calm for my husband and the other pregnant moms in the waiting room, but on the inside it was like a nest of hornets stinging me in every organ. The tech started the ultrasound and said she really didn’t have any good visibility, so she was going to do a trans vaginal ultrasound (long penis-shaped “wand” that gives a close up view of the uterus from inside the vagina). It could not have been 5 seconds after she inserted the wand that I looked at her face. She showed where the baby was and my husband quickly drew his cell phone to take a picture. I grabbed his hands almost as a reflex and at the same time the tech told him to wait. I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. A couple minutes later the tech looked at us with apprehension and confirmed there was no heartbeat and rushed out the room to get our doctor. Her words ran through my mind a million times before my husband grabbed my hand, and I melted into the table like ice on an oven…

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Wait

“You’re not exactly a spring chicken,”… I do believe that is the exact statement my husband (let’s call him Eeb) said to me in the car when we were on our way to the country for our wedding reception. We had an amazing destination wedding in Jamaica the day before Valentine’s Day 2010 with 30 of our closest family and friends, and decided to have a huge party when we came home for 300 others that could not make it to the gorgeous island that weekend. We had the party in Mansura, the cochon de lait (slow-roasted pig) capitol, and this weekend was when the baby demands requests started pouring in, first by my husband and then by everyone else we saw that weekend.

I knew Eeb wanted a big family… Both his mother and father come from a big brood and his sister has 3 kiddos herself. Plus, he had made it clear on several occasions that he expected our family to have quite the head count, considering he had already picked out the names of our first 12 children by the time we tied the knot. I, on the other hand, wanted to have kids but I had a plan that was ironing out almost exactly the way I imagined and kids weren’t supposed to be in the picture for another year. Little did I know that the baby fever would kick in by our 3 month anniversary, and we still didn’t get pregnant until after our 1 year anniversary.

This phase of my life I will call “The Wait” because that’s exactly what it was. It was the most stressful period in our marriage, and our marriage was BRAND STINKIN’ NEW!!! I didn’t think the power of suggestion was so, well, powerful. When everyone around you keeps reminding you that you are over 30, and time is running out, and how your clock is ticking slower by the day, and how you were born with only a few million eggs and only about 300,000 made it past puberty (and you, of course, are well past puberty)… it sticks to you like molasses. The first month we didn’t get pregnant wasn’t a big deal; the second month, I was kinda bummed; the third month that Aunt Flow showed her crimson face, I was enraged. So I started searching the web using terms like “getting pregnant” and “pregnancy tips” and trying to find out reasons why it wasn’t as easy as everyone said it was. I mean really, I honestly didn’t know it required directions.

By month 6, I was obsessed. Crazy.  Infatuated. Possessed. What the hell was going on? Apparently my ovaries had packed up my little eggs and went on an extended vacation in my lungs because I was doing all the sex positions exactly how they said on the How To Get Pregnant Fast website, I was checking my temperature daily, I took Mucinex 2 days before and 2 days after my ovulation dates, I waited at least 10 minutes standing on my head after sex before getting up and walking around, I cut out all alcohol and caffeine (ugh!)… It was an around the clock circus, but not as fun. You would think having sex every day in 102 different positions would be extremely enjoyable and amusing… Sorry to say, but NO! I had gotten so tangled up in the web of getting pregnant that I had lost the magic behind making a baby; and even worse, I had strung my poor husband along on my crazy train. Finally after a false-positive reading on a pregnancy test in January 2011, in which we told our families we were pregnant without confirming the pregnancy and in turn had tell everyone that we weren’t really pregnant (humiliating), I threw in the towel.

To make up for a rough and demanding first year of marriage, I arranged a Valentine’s weekend getaway for the two of us to reconnect on the beach. I also started working out and taking care of myself, started eating healthier and letting myself enjoy life a little more and not take everything so seriously. It’s amazing how much stress I was putting on myself, and my husband, and how much that stress affects your body and mind. I read a million times on BabyCenter and other websites that you should just have fun with it and it will happen, you can’t force it. I would be reading and thinking to myself, “If it was that easy I wouldn’t be on your stupid website trying to figure out how to get pregnant, now would I?” Sure enough, the next month we were pregnant… and for real this time. The wait was over!

The Beginning

Where to begin? My little nugget (we'll call him Tuff) is only 3.5 months old, yet so much has happened in that time that I have no idea where to begin. So it’s safe to say this will be a long post… Hope you are comfortable!

I wanted to start a baby blog because I have read so many that have helped me... Helped me feel good about myself, helped me see that I wasn't the only one (with whatever was going on with me at that moment), helped me weigh options I didn't even know I had. The women in these blogs are my little “phase-in-life” savers. I love to write and get it all down on paper, I love to share my experiences, and every once in a while I find out from a friend of a friend of someone I might have spoken to about something I was going through and it helped them. The feeling you get from helping someone is incredible to me, it is a high that can only be reached by being selfless and truthful in your confessions and being truly compassionate to your audience. I have always “blogged”. Maybe not in the new modern way of blogging, but I have notebooks upon notebooks of handwritten journals detailing almost every chapter in my life from the time I could write to the present day. I read back in my diaries and am instantly brought back to that day, but with the knowledge that I have now, and I remember how so many times I felt like I was the only person in the world traveling on the road of life. My life has been through many phases, and I want to share this phase with whoever will listen (read) it. May it bring you comfort, may it help you through a boring part of your day, may it piss you off, may you be disgusted by it… I can’t promise to keep it light, as we all know there are dark and heavy times that we all go through, but I promise to keep it real and be honest with my experiences.

Seeing the title of my blog should illuminate you on what my life consists of at this time… my baby boy! He is truly an angel from the heavens. My most consistent prayer has been for God to give me patience. Admittedly, I’m not really that into church and all that. But that does not mean that I’m not religious. I say prayers and thank God and the heavens and Earth for everything good AND bad in my life, for without the one I would not have the other. And one thing I have always had a problem with is patience, and I am fully aware of this hitch. To make a long story short, the answer to my prayers for patience came with the birth of my son “Tuff”… and this is our story in 4 parts… “The Wait”, “The Blow”, “The Surprise” and “Rebirth”…