Category Archives: Reflections

Ask Me How I’m Doing

I went back to work last Monday. It was initially really hard walking in and getting the hugs and condolences, and then it was just normal. Normal is so nice, and I have been wanting to feel some sense of normalcy since Colton died. One of the doctors shared with me that she also suffered a stillbirth. She said no one at our workplace knows and she only shares when it happens to someone she knows. In some ways I think it would be easier to have no one know. But since they do know, I think it’s appropriate to ask me how I’m doing. It allows me to open up if I’m feeling up for it, and it shows that people care. Another doctor did this, saying welcome back and asking how I was both physically and emotionally (physically almost normal and emotionally is day by day in case you were curious). I was really grateful that he did this, as I wouldn’t have expected it from him.

In my personal life, only a few people have been asking me how I’m doing. To be fair, I sent an email when Colton died saying I needed time before discussing it, so maybe I need to open up. But it makes it so much easier if my friends and family would just ask me how I’m doing. It’s hard to bring it up but I want to talk about it. My sister in law sent an email saying she didn’t know how to act and asking how she should act. I told her I wanted her to ask me about him and still be in touch with pictures of her kids. She has been texting pictures of her kids like we normally do, but then this past weekend when she visited, she said nothing about Colton. I even tried to bring up the delivery in a conversation and she just changed the subject. It’s so frustrating.

I have a couple of friends who have been texting and calling frequently and I am so eternally grateful for their support. It’s eye opening when you suffer loss to see who really cares. I’m not surprised by who has been in touch, but there are a couple of people I would have expected to be more present that have been missing. That’s life I guess.

In other news, at my follow up doctor’s appointment I still had the retained placenta. My OB was able to get me in really quickly for a D&C, which I had yesterday. It’s really hard to feel done with the physical part of birth when you’re still bleeding and cramping everyday. I was so incredibly scared to have this procedure done that I insisted it be done in the OR where I could sleep through it. Luckily this was accommodated. The OB who did it was fabulous and I even continued to advocate for myself by asking that the resident did not perform the procedure. After everything I’ve been through, if this procedure screwed up my uterus I certainly want to know that it was messed up by someone very experienced and not someone still learning. What a weird thought to have, right?!

I was so relieved to have the procedure over and done with yesterday that I was in a fabulous mood (after I napped for 3 hours). I had to have general anesthesia and a breathing tube due to heartburn, which was not something I wanted but it went fine so I’m just going to be thankful there were no problems. I am also so thankful that I didn’t lose my uterus. Being in the medical field, I just know way too much and I was so freaked out this would happen even though the risk is incredibly low. I certainly hope there is no scar tissue either.

Today I have no cramping and just light pink spotting. It’s glorious! I feel normal and it’s just so incredible to have my body be getting back to normal. Now I have to lose the last 10lbs of baby weight, but I can at least squeeze into a good chunk of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I’ve been running, walking and doing exercise videos with my husband to slowly get back into shape. It makes me feel so good. My husband and I both have noticed how we are in such better moods when we exercise. The mind-body connection is incredible.

Not a day goes by where I don’t think of Colton but I am no longer crying everyday. I do randomly have tears well up in my eyes and I also cry sometimes, but it’s much less frequent. I know that grief ebbs and flows and I’m pretty sure hitting all the milestones like the due date and birthday will be hard for me, along with lots of other random things. This is a part of me finding my new normal. It sucks that I have to do this, and I hate that I have to do this. Life is just so unfair.

Next week I meet with maternal-fetal medicine to go over the results of the stillbirth and figure out where to go from here. I already know there is no obvious reason for his death based on all the tests that were performed. However, I’ve crafted a list of questions to ask and I’m hoping to get something new out of our conversation.

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Things I never thought I’d experience…

Yesterday, I picked up  my son’s ashes.

This sentence is so short, yet so incredibly loaded with grief. The fact that anyone should ever have to pick up their child’s ashes, or bury their child, no matter how short or long they lived, haunts me now that I have experienced it. We did not pick out an urn. He came home to us in a box wrapped in brown paper that was placed in a purple velvet bag. He sits on the headboard above my pillow, next to his memory box that we brought home with us from the hospital. This is the tangible proof that I gave birth to him.

Now I am trying to figure out how to make sense of these things I never thought I’d experience. I never thought I would experience a miscarriage, let alone five of them. I never thought I would experience a stillbirth. I never thought I would hold the lifeless body of my baby. I never thought I would leave the hospital without him in my arms.

I never thought I would cremate my son.

How do you memorialize someone that no one knew, who never existed alive on this earth? His only existence was in the comfort of my womb, a womb that was not able to give him a life on this earth. It could only give him death. We only met him after he had passed away, but he was very much alive inside me until he was gone. I am lucky that I know his kicks. But I will never know the sound of his cry, his laughter or his voice. I do know he had blonde hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. But I will never know the color of his eyes or the curl of his hair.

Life is so incredibly unfair.

How can you wish that the worst experience of your life never happened? Because if it didn’t happen, you would never have had the short opportunity to hold him, kiss him, cuddle him and love him. Nor would you have had the opportunity to marvel over his tiny, perfect features and how he had your husband’s nose. And you never would have seen your husband hold his son, the son that you both so desperately wanted. Nor would you have gotten to hold the precious little body of the baby that has made you a mother all over again, regardless of whether he is alive today.

Life goes on, but how does it go on without you?

 

The big ”V”

Today marks 24 weeks (by my calendar) so I’ve officially hit viability. Not that I want this baby to come anytime soon but it’s a bit of a relief to know if something does happen and I have to deliver early he will actually have a chance.

I had my 24 week appointment yesterday and my fundal height is measuring right on track, so that’s good. I was supposed to do the gestational diabetes screening but I ate grapes so it could have been a bit risky to try. We also had cake at work to celebrate January birthdays (yum). So I’ll do it next week when I have a half day. Hopefully that will not be an issue.

My weight is slightly higher than it should be this time. I’m up 19lbs (12 of that was by 16 weeks…eek). My OB isn’t really worried about it, especially with the history of IUGR, but I am a bit concerned. I do not want to put on too much weight. If I want to stay at 35lbs total I can only gain 16lbs more. With A, I gained 37 or 38lbs so not too shabby. I ate so much at the end trying to get A to gain weight. I now know that doesn’t work, so I will not bother eating too much extra if it happens again.

Next step is the GD test, followed by 28 week appointment, and then the ever important growth scan. I wonder how my fundal height will be measuring in a month. Hopefully all will be perfect!

20 week ultrasound

So in my true blogging form I am late to the game once again. My 20 week ultrasound was a week and a half ago and I’m happy to report that everything looks within normal limits with the baby! He is measuring on track with dates so far, which is a huge relief. And we confirmed that he actually is a he.

My cervix is measuring 3.2cm which is still in the reassuring range, but of course I’m concerned that it’s been shortening every two weeks. I started in the 5cm range, down to 4cm and now closer to 3cm. I held steady around 4cm for my last pregnancy. Hopefully my cervix check this week will show no change and I can stop worrying about it (yeah right, I am a huge worrier).

Next up is my last cervix check at 22 weeks, and then I will have a growth scan around the 30 week mark. With baby A, the growth scan at 30 weeks was where the IUGR was diagnosed so I’m hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself.

I’ve been feeling movement since 15 weeks but over the last week it’s become very frequent and it’s getting stronger. I even saw a kick through my belly the other night. My husband has been able to feel him this past week as well, which has been great for bonding.

My Braxton hicks contractions have been increasing in frequency over the past week as well. I hate that I feel them so early. I’m always concerned they are going to turn into preterm labor. I’ve also had some period-like pain that I’ve been attributing to round ligament pain (this has been my norm for weeks). It’s been way worse this pregnancy but luckily it’s only severe for 10-15 mins before subsiding.

I finally started telling people at work, and it’s certainly time because I cannot hide I anymore. Hilariously enough I have a co-worker who is due 2 days before me! She also waited until the 20 week mark to say anything. I know she and her husband had a hard time conceiving (although I don’t know the details) so I am super ecstatic for her! Sadly, I have another co-worker who is currently experiencing her third miscarriage in a year. She had a late miscarriage at 18 weeks where her water just broke out of nowhere, followed by two first trimester miscarriages. I’m so sad for her and I did my best to offer her support yesterday when she told me (I disclosed my five miscarriages to her) but I’m still unsure how much support she wants from the pregnant girl so I’ll just keep checking in.

In other news, we are potty training A. She is still in diapers for naps and nights but she’s doing great otherwise. She still poops in her diaper but has also pooped in the potty several times as well. I initially didn’t want to bribe but my husband started giving her 3 chocolate chips if she poops in the potty and that has helped immensely. She doesn’t need any bribing for pee. We had one day this week where she peed herself FIVE times in an afternoon and I though we had completely regressed, but it’s now been almost 4 days and no accidents since then. She is also doing great at daycare using the potty. I hope it keeps going well.

Wishing everyone all the best in the new year!

16 weeks and the cervix checks begin…

I had my 16 week appointment yesterday and everything looks good so far! My cervix is measuring 5.15cm which is fabulous. Thank goodness! (Side note, I went in around 14 weeks for intense pelvic pressure and my cervix measured 3.2cm so I am very happy with the longer measurement). My uterus is also measuring on track for 16 weeks.

I asked if she could try and estimate the baby’s gestational age and he is measuring right at 16 weeks 3 days, so perfect growth. I am super concerned about IUGR after last time. It didn’t show up until sometime between my 20 week ultrasound and my growth scan around 28-29 weeks. So I’m reassured that things are fine now but not entirely convinced it won’t happen again. Baby A was somewhere in the 30th percentile at 20 weeks and <3rd percentile at the growth scan so we shall see.

I’m still taking the vaginal progesterone twice a day which is messy and not my favorite thing but I have no interest in seeing what happens if I stop. I took it though the entire pregnancy last time and will be doing the same this time. The new pack of pills are red, which is lovely because it looks like blood when it comes out. I was reading about this on google and someone pointed out that if it was real blood, it would turn brownish on your pad, while the red progesterone stays a bright red. That was extremely comforting and so far only bright on the pads!

I’m also still on the baby aspirin. I’m not sure when I will stop that. Last time I stopped at 28 weeks. I have my doubts that the aspirin actually helped the blood flow later in pregnancy because of when A was diagnosed with IUGR relative to when I stopped the aspirin. We shall see.

I’ve been feeling flutters since 15 weeks which is amazing! I never had flutters with baby A because of my anterior placenta. Only pokes. This time my placenta is partially anterior so better for movement. I’ve also been having some intense round ligament pain. Feels like really bad period cramps only on the right side (the side my uterus is on). It’s not daily thank goodness but several times a week. Very uncomfortable. Otherwise feeling good!

Lastly I’ve already put on 12 pounds so not good! I blame the holidays and needing to eat when I felt crappy. Hopefully it gets a bit better now that I’m feeling better. But I really have to watch it.

Hope everyone is well!

1st trimester is almost done (depending how you look at it…)

As of yesterday, I hit 13 weeks. Since I like averages, I’m in the camp of 13.3 is the end of the first trimester. That is in a couple of days! I spent 4 weeks to 12 weeks pregnant sick with some horrible virus that went from cold to horrific cough to sinus infection so I finally took some antibiotics and it cleared right up. I wish I would have taken them earlier but I also was really hesitant to take anything. I also waited to get my flu shot until I was better and I was even hesitant to get that, but I feel pretty strongly the benefits outweigh the risk. Plus for my job I have to have the shot or wear a mask from November to the beginning of April. No thanks!

Now I’m feeling actual pregnancy sickness. Pretty ironic I missed out on that because I was so incredibly ill! I’ve been super tired as well and incredibly bloated. But that’s it for symptoms so I guess I missed the worst of it. I did throw up once around 11 weeks and that was a pregnancy first (and hopefully last) for me.

We did the harmo.ny prenatal test because I am now almost advanced maternal age (but I feel so young). It took 6 business days and we found out everything is low risk and we are having a BOY! Both of us were shocked as I think we were preparing for a girl after the last loss being a boy. My husband always wanted one of each so I really hope this continues to go well and this is it for us!

I’ve been using my fetal Doppler to check the heartbeat once a week. I tried after my 10 week appointment and couldn’t find it, but I was successful at 11 weeks and it was still going strong as of yesterday. It’s so helpful for me otherwise I’d be in for frequent OB checks and I feel so silly for doing that even though they don’t seem to mind.

My next appointment is at 16 weeks and that is for my biweekly cervix checks until 24 weeks. Here we go again!

Freak of nature

There are some graphic descriptions of my miscarriage in this post so please do not read if you’re squeamish or not in a good space.

This was the quickest miscarriage. Once the real cramping and back pain set in around 8:30pm, I took a Percocet and promptly fell asleep curled up with my heating pad in bed. I slept HARD and woke up around 4:30am with a heavy feeling. Once I sat on the toilet I knew I was going to pass the baby and I caught it with a strainer. I immediately felt relief that it was over quickly and simultaneously felt so incredibly sad. I could see the tiny outline of something in the sac, and when I picked it up it made me think this will be the only time I will hold this baby. Of course there were tears. My husband got up with me as I put it into the container with saline, and then into a plastic bag, and lastly into a paper bag before placing it in the refrigerator where it would wait until my doctors office was open.

My husband took the day off to be with me so he drove us to the doctor. It was really weird bringing my baby to the doctors office and navigating the system to make sure it made it to my doctor. Everyone I interacted with was really nice but I just hate the pity that you see and feel in their actions. I had to do a lot of waiting as my doctor was on a long phone call, so I just clutched the brown bag, and got to take one last look at the baby who wasn’t meant to be while alone in the nurses office. Now the waiting begins to see if we can determine anything about its genetics.

I really didn’t start bleeding like a period until Sunday afternoon, I just had lots of pretty gross looking blackish discharge. I even took the second dose of misoprostol Friday night hoping to get things moving. But surprisingly I am having no cramping since the actual bleeding began, so nothing like my normal periods.

I’ve been googling to see if I can figure out what kind of genetic issues can have a heartbeat and then pass. It looks like it could be trisomy 21, 18, 13 or turners syndrome. Or the really scary totally normal chromosomes, meaning I miscarried a perfectly normal baby. Which I’m not sure how I will deal with if I get that news. I do know the likely reason is genetic issues, especially with my egg quality history, but this half uterus really throws a wrench in things.

My OB is putting in a referral to a different RE so we can double check that nothing has been missed. Most likely that’ll include re-testing my day 3 labs and AMH, and AFC. It’s funny but I’m not sure I really want to do that just yet but I’m certainly interested in at least talking to the RE. Side note: I now work with my old REs, Drs. N and H, and I just prefer to keep my professional and personal lives separate, which is why I don’t want to go back to them at this time.

One of the reasons I hate telling people I’m pregnant is that I really don’t like un-telling them. It’s way easier to tell people I’ve had a miscarriage after the fact. Either way, it’s really hard to disappoint people with bad news. People usually don’t know what to say when someone has a miscarriage, but what do you say to the person who has had 5? Seriously, 5? I never in a million years thought I would be here. While I know I’m not alone in having this many miscarriages, I certainly feel alone, and I feel like a freak of nature with all these miscarriages and my half uterus. I just want to be normal, but what is normal anyway?

Thank you for reading if you made it through this post. And thank you for all of the support I’ve received.