525,600 Minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?  The song from Rent came to mind as I pondered how to label this post.  It's been 525,600 minutes since my last post.  The break in writing has been deliberate for the most part.  After the scare I had a year ago today at 26w4d into my pregnancy, I feared that it would end badly somehow like my other three pregnancies.  I couldn't bring myself to write any more.  I remained somewhat detached from my pregnancy, never truly believing that we would experience the miracle of giving birth to a child of our own.  The fear and apprehension shaped the remainder of my pregnancy in many ways.  I refused to have a baby shower while I was pregnant for fear that I would end up with a house full of baby items I would have to get rid of.  My family respected my wishes and there was no pomp and circumstance  (although my coworkers threw a surprise shower for me a few weeks before my due date).  We didn't order baby furniture in anticipation of a child or really set up a nursery in advance.  I polled a few of my family members and close friends and asked them to give me a list of items they thought were essential to have immediately after the baby's birth and we purchased only those things that seemed necessary.  We took a 5 week hypnobirthing class, but honestly never made an elaborate birth plan.  The plan was simple - baby out safe and breathing.  If I was able to give birth naturally, great.  If the baby was delivered by c-section, great.  I honestly didn't care.  I just wanted the baby to come out alive and healthy.  I would try to breastfeed and if it worked out, great; but if it didn't, oh well, my husband and I were both formula fed and we turned out okay.  The goal was to bring home a live baby and to keep him or her alive once he or she was here.

Tonight is a much different night than it was a year ago.  Tonight, I feel incredibly fortunate to be writing this from my couch as I watch my nearly 9 month old son as he crawls all over the living room, pulls himself up to stand for a few seconds at time on his own, plays with all of the new toys he got for Christmas and smiles at me.  He was born on March 30 at 39w5d by scheduled c-section weighing 9 pounds even and was approximately 19 inches long (his recorded length at the time of birth was 17 inches, but it was clearly wrong - otherwise he grew 2 inches during his first 24 hours of life!!).  I am so glad we didn't find out his gender until he was born.  Nothing was better than hearing my husband announce, "It's a boy!" as the doctor held him up for us to see for the first time. 

He is beautiful and sweet and everyday I still can't believe this is real.  We had a welcome baby party when he was 6 weeks old instead of the pre-baby shower.  It was a celebration of his birth and we invited family, friends and co-workers who all got to meet our baby in person. He slept in our room until he was 16 weeks old when his crib finally arrived after we got around to ordering it.  We decorated the nursery in a baseball theme and it is now our favorite room in the house.  My paranoia that he will stop breathing for some reason is slowly subsiding as he gets bigger and stronger and with a little reassurance from the Snu.za that is clipped to his diaper every night before we all fall asleep.  So now, a year later, I felt I owed it to myself and to whoever may still occasionally check in with my blog to update my story.  I may add some additional posts after this one to reflect on parenting after infertility and recurrent loss.  For now, I will leave you with the text from a card I received from a dear friend after our son was born because it was the only card that brought tears to my eyes:

Someday he'll be a strong, confident man . . .
but you'll always remember the first time you held him in your arms.
Someday he'll have his own hopes and dreams,
not knowing that once upon a quiet time,
you closed your eyes and dreamed to have him in your life.


A Late Night Scare

26 weeks 4 days.  Just when I was starting to feel more secure, to start entertaining the possibility of actually agreeing to have a small baby shower at the gentle prompting of friends and family, and after my husband and I gave each other some sentimental baby-related Christmas gifts, the insecurities of infertility and repeat loss became reality again last night around 12:30 a.m. when there was red blood on the toilet paper after I went to the bathroom.  It was mild, but it was bright red.  And I was jolted awake from my drowsiness by the sight of it and also jolted my husband awake in my panic.  My fears were heightened by the fact that I really hadn't felt the baby move since lunch time yesterday.  That alone wouldn't have freaked me out because I have yet to experience any patterned movement by our little one and what I have experienced has been inconsistent.  Some days the little one is more active than others and I have just come to expect that as normal for me and this pregnancy - especially because I have an anterior fundal placenta which apparently makes it more difficult to sense the baby's movements.  But that combined with the blood caused immediate fears.

I called my OB's answering service and got a call back from the doctor on call within 10 minutes.  By that time, we were already on our way to the hospital.  The OB on call asked me a series of questions - was the blood red or brown? [red] Did I have any cramping? [no] When was the last time we had intercourse? [a long time ago because I have been too nervous to have anything potentially disrupt this pregnancy].  When I told her that I had multiple miscarriages in the past, she told me to go to Labor and Delivery to get examined.  I thought she said she would meet me there, but as it turned out, once I was there and being monitored, one of the residents did the examination and consulted with the OB on call.  The OB had called L&D and they were expecting me when we got there to check in.  I was quickly taken back to a bed and placed on a fetal monitor and we were able to hear the baby's heartbeat right away.  It was strong and we were so relieved.  We spent a few hours at the hospital on the monitor while they ran a series of tests.  Everything came back normal and the cause of the bleeding could not be determined.  I wasn't having any contractions, my blood pressure was low, I didn't have a UTI, my urine tests came back good, my cervix was closed and the resident couldn't see any blood anywhere.  In addition to hearing movements on the monitor (which sounded pretty forceful and strong, but I couldn't feel), we had a quick ultrasound and saw the baby, too.  We headed back home around 4:00 a.m. and all the excitement apparently made the baby finally decide to be more alert.  Thankfully, I was feeling the baby on and off on the drive home and as I was finally able to fall asleep once we got home.

I stayed home from work and spent the day in my PJ's on my couch.  I'm drinking tons of water and just hope that I won't see any more red blood any time soon (although I was forewarned that I might spot for a few days since they were poking around in there last night).  The baby has been pretty active today, maybe because I have been lounging around so much more than I have been lately.  I know that we are technically in the viability stage, but I really want this baby to stay safe inside for as long as possible and continue to grow before making his or her grand debut.  At my last appointment with the OB, we discussed the possibility of delivering either by induction or c-section around 36 weeks due to my prior losses and the increased risks of cord complications and meconium poisoning beyond that point. Basically, my OB is of the opinion that once we make it that far, he wants to avoid any other potential complications at the end.  Last night's bleeding scare has brought back the lack of trust in my body.  Keep growing strong, baby!  Only 10 more weeks to go!!



Today marks 20 weeks and this pregnancy is still somewhat surreal to me mainly because I really haven't felt much movement from the baby yet, if any at all.  Because I have an anterior placenta, my OB told me that I might not feel any of the movement until 20-22 weeks.  I must admit that I am starting to get impatient.  As someone who has experienced multiple losses, it is still hard to accept this pregnancy as a reality especially because I have been waiting and waiting for a physical sign of life that I can feel.  I think I will start to feel more attached to this pregnancy once I can feel the baby bouncing around in there more often.  There have been a few times over the past week where I thought I may be feeling a kick or punch or something, but I am honestly not sure.

Another ironic pregnancy symptom I've been experiencing is increased vaginal discharge.  All of the books and websites say this is completely normal, but I'll tell you what, as someone who has had multiple miscarriages, this symptom is enough to drive me crazy.  I'm constantly holding my breath every time I go to the bathroom because I am afraid one time it isn't going to be just plain ol' increased vaginal discharge.

I also occasionally get these sharp pinching jolts of pain in the right side of my abdomen.  Because they only seem to happen in the same spot, even though they are not all that frequent, it has been freaking me out a bit.  It's probably just this round ligament pain I have been reading about, but I will be asking about it at our monthly appointment next week.

I haven't been able to bring myself to start thinking about childbirth classes, nursery decorations or baby registries yet.  I still feel awkward talking about my pregnancy with friends and co-workers who keep fussing over me and asking me all sorts of questions.  I wish I was able to embrace this pregnancy with 100% joy, but the scars I have from our other losses have been holding me back some.  I am just thankful at each appointment that everything seems to be progressing as it should be and I have been taking this pregnancy one appointment at a time. 


Happy Halloween!

My creative and artistic hubby decided to make this costume for me and the baby this year (mask was purchased, shirt was designed and painted by my talented husband):

Trick or treat!  I love Halloween!  Time to pass out candy to the little goblins who come by.  We usually get close to 150 kids at our house every year.


Sharing the News

We started spreading our news more publicly over the past couple of weeks.  I was reluctant to let our secret out for fear that once we did something would go wrong.  But it was getting harder to hide and actually now that the news is out I feel a sense of relief.  Honestly, if something does go wrong at this point, we will need all the love and support we can get.  And our announcements (we made them in stages) of this pregnancy have always included some kind of disclosure of our prior losses.

We started by telling our close relatives in person.  We visited Grandma WOW and gave her an enlarged version of one of our 12 week ultrasound pictures which my husband photoshopped to include a cartoon bubble with the baby introducing his/herself as her great-grandchild who she would get to meet in the spring.  Her reaction was priceless.  Before we told her the news, she was lamenting over how old she is.  She can't believe she is almost 86.  But a few minutes later when we told her that she was going to be a great-grandma, she laughed and said, "but I'm too young!"  Although her memory has been fading more rapidly, she seems to have remembered this news over the past couple weeks and I really hope that she will have the chance to meet her first great-grandchild.

A few days later we sent emails and text messages to some select people, close friends and extended family, who have known about the struggles we have endured.  The subject of the message was "We've Been Keeping a Secret" and the message included a photo of me wearing a tshirt we had made that says "Future Indians Fan" with an arrow pointing to my belly.  If I haven't mentioned it before, my husband and I enjoy going to baseball games and listening to them on the radio if we aren't at the game itself.  We wanted to make sure these people heard the news directly from us first before we shared the news with coworkers and others.

I shared the news at work last week.  I met with my supervisor first to let her know the news and that I planned to tell the office right after we met.  She's not that great at keeping secrets so I made sure to tell her just moments before my big reveal.  The night before, my husband and I went to a party supply store and bought this baby balloon which I brought and hung outside my office door:

I also brought in munch.kin donuts from Dunk.in Donuts and sent out an email (which also included the pic of me in the tshirt) which said:

There are Dun.kin Donut munchkins on the conference table for everyone to celebrate the announcement of the little “munchkin” Hubby and I are expecting on April 1, 2012 – just in time for the start of the next MLB season!!

A few days later, after much back and forth in my head about if and when to share the news on Face.book and how to share it without sounding like your average fertile, I decided on the following post which also include the photo of me in the tshirt (I have not posted any ultrasound photos):

Our journey to become parents has been anything but easy. We have spent years trying to start a family of our own and have endured multiple losses along the way. Now into the 14th week and out of the first trimester, we are hopeful that this pregnancy continues to progress beautifully and that we will experience the joy of meeting this little one some time early next spring!! :)

We have received lots of congrats and supportive comments since posting the announcement.  I have also heard from others who have had difficulty themselves.  Although I continue to wonder every day if everything is still going well with this little one, I'm glad we have shared the news and I am not stressed by trying to keep it a secret anymore.  Our next appointment isn't until a week from tomorrow and our anatomy scan is scheduled for the end of the month.  This is the longest I've gone without an appointment of some sort so I am a bit anxious about everything still being okay.  I'm still sleeping more than normal for me, but am not as tired as I was in the first trimester.  Other than some occasional twinges, abdominal aches and now this weekend some short, sharp pains in what feels like the cervical area (I haven't started to worry too much about these yet since I've read similar experiences from other bloggers), I'm feeling pretty good.  I will be so much more relieved and relaxed once I can feel this baby moving around.  Pregnancy is such a mystery as it is and, for someone who has experienced multiple losses, it seems harder to wrap your head around when you have no idea if what you are feeling, or not feeling, is normal.

On another note, my sister got engaged this week and I am so absolutely happy for her.  She and her fiance are a great couple.  No specific date set yet, but the wedding will probably be some time next summer.

The weather is beautiful here this weekend and I have tomorrow off so I am off to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  :)


Starting to Feel More Relaxed

Today marks the beginning of 13 weeks and I am so grateful to have made it this far.  Although I haven't gained too much weight yet, my waist line has started to expand and my belly has morphed into different stages of "pooch"-iness which has become more difficult to hide.  I must say that I have had a sense of reluctance throughout this pregnancy.  With three miscarriages in the past, it's hard not to be reluctant and have this underlying worry that something is bound to go wrong.  I am looking forward to the day when I can actually feel this kid moving around so I don't have to continually wonder what is going on in there.  I decided not to purchase a doppler because I am afraid it will cause me more stress than I need or want.  I know many people in situations similar to mine find comfort in these devices, but I just can't seem to shake the idea that at some point I won't be able to find the heartbeat, even if it is there, and that I will panic.  So I am just relying on the fact that everything seems to be going smoothly for the most part.

I can't believe that I have made it through the first trimester.  I have mixed feelings about the limited symptoms I have experienced these first few months.  I'd like to explain because the lack of many of the common physical symptoms so many people experience freaked me out to the point of causing me psychological/mental/emotional anxiety.  I don't know what I expected, but I don't think I expected to feel relatively normal these first few months.  My "worst" symptom was fatigue.  I definitely slept more than normal, took uncharacteristic naps and found myself wishing I was napping while at work and having a difficult time concentrating at the task at hand.  I had occasional bouts of queasiness, but not much.  The lack of "morning sickness" freaked me out because I heard/read that nausea is a good indicator that the baby is growing and healthy.  When I wasn't nauseous or throwing up and can't feel whether or not the baby is growing, I was convinced there must be something wrong.  Now I have been taking Fol.gard since April (three months before this baby was conceived) and perhaps there is some merit to the thought that increased amounts of B6 lessen the effects of morning sickness.  I also can't say that I have been urinating more frequently yet.  Maybe some at the beginning and I often do have to get up once in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom which isn't typical for me.  But overall, I expected the symptom of "frequent urination" to remain a constant throughout the first trimester and that really hasn't been the case.  I have also been somewhat fixated on the changing shape of my belly and waistline and wondering what it means, if anything.  I think I expected it to be a gradual outward development into the cute little bump.  Early on, I had a low pouch for a few days.  That pouch has seemed to move upward and at times I think my belly is getting flatter instead of rounder.  The shape seems to change some on a daily basis which keeps me guessing whether that is normal or not.  The only other symptoms I am linking to this pregnancy are vivid dreams pretty much every night (or at least ones I actually remember when I wake up because before this pregnancy I rarely remembered my dreams if I had them), my face breaking out a lot more than normal and more recently, I haven't been very hungry throughout the day.  I am sharing my experiences and symptoms here in case there are other women out there who are wondering if their seeming "lack" of the more common symptoms is normal because I think that the absence of the common physical symptoms can be disconcerting and nervewracking along the way.

We also had the NT scan earlier this week.  Because I was out of town for work last week, it had been almost three weeks since our last ultrasound.  After our history of recurrent losses, this was a LONG time especially since I had been getting ultrasounds on practically a weekly basis before then.  The measurements came back good and combined with the bloodwork results, the chances of Downs and Trisonomy issues were greatly reduced which was a big relief for me since I am 37 years old and already in a higher risk category.

For now, I am becoming more comfortable with the fact that I am really pregnant.  I can talk about it more with my husband and family which I had been avoiding for fear of jinxing something along the way.  We are planning to tell Grandma WOW today and some of my husband's closer relatives who don't know yet.  I have also been trying to figure out a clever way to tell my co-workers which I plan to do this week because it is getting harder to keep secret.  My job also requires me to frequently wear business suits and I only have a few left that are bearable to wear.  I've been starting to look for some more comfortable clothes that I'll be able to wear for work and that aren't terribly expensive.  I think I may have to switch to dresses instead of business suits if I don't want to break the bank to have work clothes for the remainder of this pregnancy.  Or I am going to have to figure out how to pick a few pieces that I can mix and match so it doesn't look like I am wearing the same thing every day.

I am also in a stage where I am hesitant to blog, on one hand, because I don't want to seem like I am bragging about finally being pregnant.  But, on the other hand, I want to continue to share my story so those of you who are still waiting for that BFP know that pregnancies can happen after recurrent losses.  Others have blogged about this awkward new position we find ourselves in.  My experiences with infertility and loss have shaped who I am today and have still affected my approach and anxieties with this pregnancy so I believe it is still important to share my story.  I hope you all feel the same.


Double Digits

Today marks 10w0d.  No matter how much time has passed, I still can't believe this seems to finally be happening for us.  I'm still nervous that something could go wrong, but at the same time I am hoping that everything goes smoothly for the remainder of this pregnancy.  I mean, we've been through enough heartache already, right?  We definitely seem to have a little fighter this time.

We "graduated" from our RE's office and had our first appointment with my new OB on Thursday.  If first impressions mean anything, I LOVED the OB.  He was so nice and compassionate about our situation.  He took his time with us and never made us feel rushed.  I had my first non-vaginal ultrasound at the appointment.  The OB didn't do a physical exam because he said given the weekly appointments I've had along the way that I've had enough "intrusion" down there for the time being.  He emphasized how he is part of a small group practice.  Only 4 OBs who deliver.  And he told me to call any time and he would call me back or if I was ever concerned for any reason or didn't feel like something was right, I could just drop in unannounced and he would see me.  Loved him!  The best part of the whole appointment was the ultrasound.  At first we just saw the baby and the heartbeat like the past few times.  About a minute or so into the ultrasound, after taking the measurements, we were amazed to see his/her arms and legs move!!!  It was like s/he was swimming or running.  Completely amazing and both my husband and I teared up. 

I'm supposed to start weening off the estro.gen and endometrin over the next couple of weeks, but I am not sure that I am ready to do that yet.  The OB said there is a good chance that I will experience some bleeding/spotting as I ween myself off of the extra hormones and I'm definitely not looking forward to that . . . especially since I have to travel out of town to DC for work the week of September 12.  So I think I am going to wait until after I return from my business trip to start the weening process.  And I am so lucky that my husband is able to travel to DC with me.  Thankfully, we are only about a 6 hour drive from DC and I was able to drive instead of fly for this trip (it actually turned out to be a bit cheaper that way anyway).  It may be silly, but I was scared to fly and since it is still technically the first trimester, I was nervous travel alone.

I've been bad about commenting on everyone else's blogs these days and for that I apologize.  I have been reading them, but have been so tired after work I just haven't had the energy to write entries or comment.  I hope everyone enjoys the holiday weekend with family and friends!!