Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Being Pregnant after a Loss (Part 2)

(If you haven't read Part 1, you can go read it here.)

After reaching my 2nd trimester, I spent a couple of calm weeks feeling hopeful and joyful, as opposed to cautiously optimistic, until about a week before my next appointment.

Frightened thoughts reappear.  Will the baby still have a heartbeat, or will they tell me to be preparing to deliver a stillborn baby?

At my 17 week appointment, my doctor found Sprout's heartbeat the second he touched the Doppler to my skin.  Praise the Lord, for small blessings!

However, my doctor asked me if  I had started to feel any movement yet, which was cause for 4 weeks of obsession over every little feeling.  This was one instance where the pregnancy forums on www.babyfit.com were helpful.  There were a lot of people who said they didn't feel much until close to 20ish weeks.
Sprout's Feet at 21 Weeks and 1 Day

I had my Anatomy Scan at 21 weeks (and we are almost to the present, so bear with me).  I spent some time looking at the grainy ultrasound pictures trying to discern if Sprout was moving.  I can't remember exactly what happened but at one point I finally asked "So he's moving right?  He's alive with a heart beat and everything?"  The Tech, bless her heart, quickly told me that she hadn't even thought to tell me that because it was a given, and she hadn't known I was stressing over it.  She quickly showed me the beating heart and let me listen to it, and laughed about how Sprout had actually just headbutted her Doppler wand right before I asked about him.

She showed me all the parts, and explained that everything looked really good.   Sprout looked healthy, I was far past needing to worry, and I should just try to enjoy Sprout. (That's much easier said than done, but I appreciated the kinds words.)  Heart, Brain, Spine, Arms, Legs, Stomach, Mouth, Cord.  All good.  She told me that Sprout looked like he weighed 1 pound 1 ounce, was currently head down and sunny side up, and that I had an Anterior Placenta.  For those that don't know, an Anterior Placenta is in the front of your uterus and baby, rather than behind.  It doesn't really matter at all except that you can't feel the baby as early because it's like they are punching a pillow.  It absorbs the impact.  She told me that if I felt anything it would probably only be bubbles really low.  (And on the  BabyFit forums again, mothers with Anterior Placentas have been quick to reassure me that many of them didn't feel much until closer to 23 weeks.)

I breathed a TRUE sigh of relief because that was just where I had felt the little bubbles during my weeks of obsession.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), Sprout kept his legs crossed the whole time so I don't know if I've got a boy or girl yet.  I guess (s)he is just a calm baby right now.

I'd be lying if I said that the ultrasound where I got to see my precious baby's face laid to rest all of my fears.

Sprout's hands at 21 weeks and 1 day
I'm grateful that because I didn't get to see Sprout's gender that they scheduled another scan for two weeks away from that day.  That means that I get to have an appointment (and the reassurance that comes with it) in between my 21week scan that I just had, and my 25 week appointment.  That's right, I get to see Sprout again this coming Monday.  Praise the Lord again for small blessings!

Here's where I probably need to be very clear.  Most people would say that they completely understand being fearful during the first trimester, especially after a loss (or repeated loss), but might have a hard time understanding someone who remains fearful after that.  Most of the danger has passed right?

Knowing that, isn't the same as believing that. I've been trying to come up with a good analogy, but I can't think of one.  I hope you can settle for a crummy one.  Let's say a person is struck my lightening and lives.  Even though they know that the chances of ever getting struck again are minutely small, they still might be afraid of thunderstorms, or even rain.  They aren't scared because they think lightning is out to get them but because there is always that chance of getting struck again, however small.  They know how much it sucks being struck by lightening.  They know it isn't fun, it hurts, and that it talks a long while to recover from.

So I want to say something to people who are in their 2nd Trimester after a loss, who thought they would feel this huge sigh of relief, but don't.  This is normal.  Even if you were so sure, and said you knew what it would take to feel better and it didn't happen.

I've made all sorts of claims about when I would feel like a regular pregnant person who doesn't always have loss in the back of her mind.

I've said:
"I'll feel better when I hear the heart at 9 weeks."
"I'll feel better once I'm showing."
"I'll feel better after I hear it again at 13 weeks because that is 2rd trimester."
"I'll feel better after my 17 week appointment and I hear Sprout again because that is really really 2nd trimester."
"I'll feel better after the anatomy scan."
"I'll feel better once I know the gender."
"I'll probably feel better in the 3rd trimester when I can feel Sprout kick harder and more."

From my friends whom I've spoken to who have experienced loss too, this is all normal.  It's normal, and in my my experience so far, the anxiety does ease up considerably, even if a small part is always there in the back of your mind.

It's normal even if people around you don't understand it.  It's normal even if you know that you are being "irrational".  Even if, even if, even if.  It's all normal.  It's okay.

My advice?  Pray daily.  If you are Catholic (or toying with the idea) a Chaplet to St Gerard is a great addition to your prayers.  There is comfort in knowing someone in heaven (and a specialist non-the-less) has your back.  Trust in the Lord's plan.  Hold tight to your friends who have walked through it already, whether you know them in person or online through blogs or forum groups.  Tell your family you are expecting (if you haven't already).  You need their love, support, and prayers through good or bad.

Keep Calm, and Carry On.  That's all you can do.  That's all I'm doing.

On Being Pregnant after a Loss (Part 1)

Here's the thing.

For me, being pregnant is pretty scary. I'm not speaking of the "oh my goodness, I'm going to be a parent to this child and be responsible for feeding them, cleaning them, training them, and nurturing them" type of scary.  I'm sure some of that is there.  I would be doing myself and my family a disservice if I didn't recognize the awesome responsibility that comes with being a parent.   But then again, I moved an 8 year old that I hardly knew into my childless home with only 2 months notice back in 2009, and the only reason it took 2 months was because we had to file court documents and go to a hearing in another State (and those things take time).  I guess you could say that we are pretty open to life in all the forms it comes to us.

For me, pregnancy is scary in a "did I sit wrong, or sleep wrong, or move wrong, or eat wrong, or breath wrong...and is my baby still alive" type of way.  Think about it: One minute you are going about your day completely unaware of the miracle taking place, and the next there is a new life that has been created and is growing within you, completely and utterly dependent on you. For everything.

It took me something like 3 or 4 years to get pregnant the first time.  Then, after all that waiting, I lost my first two babies, right in a row, 5 months apart, in 2010.  After that, it took me more than another year and a half to get pregnant again.

You don't look at a new pregnancy the same way after that.

You can't.

You don't trust your body to be able to do what is is supposed to in order to nourish, protect, and sustain your little one.

When I saw that very faint extra pink line confirming a positive pregnancy test super early at 11 DPO, I cautiously told my husband because I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.   I didn't call my mom to excitedly tell her the good news.  I got ready for the OBGYN appointment that I had that day for my annual exam.  That was the only reason I took the test anyway.  So that on the off chance it was positive, I could ask for a urine test.  And a blood test.  And talk about my options for hormonal support.  Because I couldn't trust my body to do the right thing.

After repeated loss, I was hopeful, but afraid to be excited.

I took some blood tests and a prescription for some progesterone to help things out until Sprout's placenta could do it on its own.  Just in case.

My fist HCG levels were low (looking back I was only 3 weeks along, and the numbers were perfectly normal for that early) but I was told to take another one on 48 hours to see if I was miscarrying or not.  I was such a wreck, I could barely function.  All my prayers were something to the effect of "Please Lord, not again."  That was also when I started calling this little one "Sprout".  I'd say "Come on Sprout, get big and strong for mama.  Keep growing and make big numbers.  You can do it."

My numbers more than doubled. My doctor, satisfied, told me that he didn't see any reason to keep sticking me every 48 hours and he'd see me in a month.

My doctor seemed content, but I was still pretty worried about Sprout.  His brother(s)/sister(s) didn't make it much farther than Sprout had already come.  I lost them both in the first trimester.

My older sister called to tell me that she was pregnant when she was 6 weeks along.  (Her baby girl was just born in January!) This was/is her first baby.  She's never experienced a loss.

When I was 6 weeks along, my doctor had me scheduled for an early ultrasound, to confirm pregnancy (because of my history, they did it earlier than they would otherwise) and I got to see that tiny heartbeat.  Did I make an announcement? No.  Because I had been 6 weeks along before.

While my fears were eased in that moment, watching that tiny heart flutter, I was back to a paralyzing fear the next day.

When I was 7 weeks along, I saw one speck of blood, one time, after using the bathroom.  I was convinced for the next two days that it would be only moments before the miscarriage bleeding started.

If all you have experienced is loss, that is what you brace yourself for.  More loss.

As long as I am being honest, for the first 13 or 14 weeks, every cramp, or ache, or ligament pain, meant that I was going to miscarry.  I checked for blood every time I used the restroom.  Every time.  *Sigh*  Who am I kidding?  I still check for bleeding and I am 22 weeks along.  Sprout weighs a pound, and I'm still not always convinced that my body won't betray me.  (I'm gaining more confidence in Sprout's though.)

I told my family I was expecting at Christmas, when I was 10 weeks along.  The only reason was because  I had always thought I would like to make that type of big announcement at Christmas, and only because the week before at 9weeks along, my doctor was able to find the heartbeat with the Doppler.

I know how rare and lucky, and amazing it is to be able to hear the heartbeat at 9 weeks.  I know intellectually, how amazing that is, and what a good sign it can be.  I know that it isn't uncommon to not  hear a heartbeat with a Doppler until as late as 13 weeks.  Knowing something isn't always the same as actually knowing something. I hope that makes sense.

Was I convinced that there would still be a heartbeat at my 13week appointment?

Absolutely not.

If I remember correctly, they had to take my blood pressure twice that appointment.  At the beginning, it was not "high" per se, but it was higher than usual.  After my appointment, having heard the heartbeat again, they took my BP a second time and it had gone back down to normal.

After 13 weeks, and especially when I made it past 14 weeks, I was able to relax a little more.  I started walking again, I started some light pregnancy fitness.

I breathed a sigh of relief and concentrated on the blissful fact that I was now in my 2nd Trimester!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Personality Tests

I took a personality test today and found out that

I am an INFJ.

It seemed fairly accurate.  According to the information given about it, "Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types."

That explains so much....