a year ago today…

A year ago today, I learned that pregnancy #2 was not viable. I was eight weeks along, full of hope that the miscarriage ending pregnancy #1 was indeed a fluke, as everybody said. But instead, we saw an empty gestational sac on the ultrasound screen, and with our spirits crushed, we were forced to decide whether or not to go forward with the D&C I ended up having two days later. Today, exactly one year later, I once again sat pregnant in the OB’s office, with that same timid hope, yet terrified of what news we could possibly receive.

I have so much gratitude that what we ended up seeing on the ultrasound screen today was completely different from what we saw a year ago. We got to see our little peanut, still with a healthy heartbeat, still dancing, still measuring strong. Today was our first appointment with the new OB, with a doctor and ultrasound tech I had never met, at an office I had never been to before. I got really scared to go this morning. We had received so much good news at our RE’s office lately, continually seeing strong heartbeats and growth, that subconsciously I thought that if we went somewhere new our good luck streak would end. I was afraid for anything to change. Even traveling over the holidays had me spooked. As long as I was in my same routine, I felt everything would be fine. As long as I did everything the same as when our good news had come, then I would feel ok. But leaving our home, traveling across the country, dealing with the stress of airports, and having a different day to day routine made me really anxious that it would change things. 

We also told my husband’s family over Thanksgiving, since it was our one chance to share the news in person. Initially, I had been excited to spill the beans, but as it got closer I started to feel a lot of pressure and anxiety. I know my in-laws are so excited to become grandparents, and I don’t want to let them down, yet again. And I know that none of this is in my control, but I feel responsible for the outcome nevertheless. With our first pregnancy, we waited until after our first ultrasound to tell them, but then miscarried three days after sharing the news. I still held that association in my mind. Irrationally, I felt that if we told them, then a few days later it would all get taken away.

I am starting to learn that having these irrational thoughts and fears doesn’t make them real. They are just thoughts and fears.

Our little babe is still thriving. While I should be 10w3d according to my LMP, the little one measured 11w4d. I’ve consistently measured a few days ahead, but this was a huge jump. My doctor wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, and debated moving up my due date by a week. But she said that earlier ultrasounds tend to be more accurate with dating, so we decided to continue to stick with the LMP to assign the due date. She said right now, it only really matters in order to time the first trimester screening correctly, so that I don’t miss the window because my baby is measuring ahead.

I also brought up the fever I had when I had the stomach flu about two months ago. I had a fever for about 3 days, which hovered around 101, but spiked at one point to 102-103. The fever was right around when implantation most likely occurred. It’s been a nagging fear that’s followed me, and I’ve worried and fretted incessantly that we are at increased risk for neural tube defects as a result. Although my doctor agreed that fever and flu during pregnancy is not a good thing, she said since it happened before four weeks I was in the clear. In addition any medications I took (which was mostly Tylenol) before that four week mark would not have an effect on the development of the baby. I pray she is right, and am going to choose to believe she is right, just for some much needed peace of mind. She said if the fever and flu were to affect anything, we would have had an early miscarriage. But we are passed that point and she said our baby looks strong.

I feel so grateful today. Last year, as Christmas approached, I was in a world of pain, despair, sadness, and grief. I was reeling from losing our second baby, wondering what that meant, and had so many questions and fears swirling inside of me. On Christmas day I just felt alone, grieving what never would be. When I got pregnant last year, I thought that this Christmas would be the first Christmas with our son or daughter, and that my parents would have their first Christmas with a grandchild. This will indeed be my parents’ first Christmas with a grandchild, but only because my brother had a baby instead, just a few weeks before my due date. I feel blessed to have my nephew and love him to pieces, but I was really afraid to go into this holiday season empty once again. All I’ve wanted was to have Christmas with my little babe, whether on the inside or out.

I’m thinking of all my readers and fellow bloggers who are facing the holidays this year with heartache. I know how hard it is. I know how much it can hurt, and how isolating it can feel. My heart is with all of you. All I can do is hope that this is the last one, and that next year you either have a baby in your arms or a baby in your belly. My thoughts are with all of you. 

my tiny dancer

After my big panic moment last week, I decided to spend this following week choosing to believe everything was ok. I still battled moments of worry and concern, and the inevitable thoughts of panic would enter my mind, but I decided to let them have their momentary space and then I chased them away. I managed to stay relatively calm until my ultrasound yesterday, when all the inevitable nerves came flooding towards me.

Little babe measured 9w3d and was dancing up a storm. The baby was so active that even the nurse and doctor were laughing. Little arms flailing around, looking like a video game avatar from the 70’s. My husband proceeded to imitate the little one’s frenetic dancing for the rest of the day, for my endless amusement.

And with that, graduation time. I’ve been officially released from my RE and will visit a regular OB for a scan next week. I love my doctor and the entire staff and am so sad to go even though I know it’s a great thing to be released. I’ve never encountered a doctor’s office that was so organized, compassionate, friendly, and as well run as this one. My RE has been amazing and I wish she were the one that could deliver my baby. 

Saying goodbye felt surreal. My entire journey flashed before my eyes as I hugged my doctor goodbye. I felt elated to be moving on with such hope, but I still carry the baggage from the past two years. I felt like crying and I didn’t know if it was from happiness, feeling overwhelmed, or saying goodbye to such an intense chapter. The idea that I could become just another normal pregnant lady sitting in just another regular OB’s office was hard to grasp.

After the scan, I finally got the guts to walk into a maternity store, to buy a much needed belly band. My pants no longer fit comfortably, or at all. I perused the store awkwardly, feeling like a fraud. As I left with a giant “A Pea in the Pod” shopping bag, which included a free welcome gift of baby bottles and gadgets and coupons, I tried to breathe through my feelings of discomfort and imagine myself as normal. Someone who’s not afraid that what they just purchased will serve solely as a reminder of what was lost should something go awry. Someone who’s feeling a normal swelling of the belly for 9-1/2 weeks pregnant and needs more comfortable clothing. I left the store with my giant bag and as I walked down the street, on another sunny, warm California day, with Christmas carols playing on the streets as if coming from the skies, I put my hand on my belly and thought, just enjoy this moment.

8w3d and a major panic attack

On Friday night, I started getting cramps. I have felt many twinges, pulls, and the odd pain here and there, but these cramps alarmed me. A shooting pain that felt like my uterus contracting, occurring every few minutes, which continued for most of the night. I cried myself to sleep, thinking it was over.

On Saturday, I felt so nauseous that I managed to convince myself everything was ok. On Sunday morning I threw up. But after that, I started to feel better, my nausea abating to the point I started to fret again. As I felt better and better as the day went on, the knot in my stomach and dread I was feeling got worse and worse. By nighttime, I was convinced. Between the cramps I felt on Friday and the loss of my symptoms, I went into a total spiral of despair. I was 100%, without a doubt convinced it was over. I laid in bed with my husband and cried. “This is bad. I really think this is bad. I’m not nauseous!! Why aren’t I nauseous?!” I couldn’t believe I ever had the audacity to complain about the morning sickness. It was such a beautiful thing! And I desperately wanted it back. 

My husband took my face in his hands. “Avocados. Scrambled eggs. The smell of the refrigerator…” He continued listing all the things that had turned my stomach and sent my running for the toilet the past few weeks. I laughed at first, which quickly turned to more tears. “It’s not working!!” I said in total despair. 

On Monday morning I woke at 5:30am to use the bathroom, realized I still didn’t feel nauseous, and continued panicking. I cried in bed and couldn’t fall back asleep. I felt crippled with dread; I couldn’t imagine going through another loss. I had come so far in my healing in the last year and I didn’t want to start over, having to face all those complicated feelings again, having my heart ripped out, having to start the grieving process all over again. Incredibly quickly I slipped into a dark place, unable to even think about having to function or face my day. I called my RE as soon as the office was open and begged to move my Wednesday ultrasound to as soon as possible.

By 10:15am I was in the ultrasound room holding my husband’s hand, heart pounding, stomach in knots. I believed with everything I had that our little babe’s heart had stopped beating. That Friday night’s cramps was a harbinger of its demise, and the lessening of the nausea was just confirmation. I tried to prepare myself for when I had to hear those horrible words come out of my doctors mouth: I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.

But by 10:30am, we heard that beautiful thumping sound again. Our little one’s heart was still beating. I felt shock and relief wash over me, and then I just cried. I couldn’t believe what I had just put myself through. I had never felt so insane, so damaged. My sweet RE has probably seen this over and over in patients with a history of loss, as she seemed to almost expect it. Even with her packed schedule, she told me she knew she had to squeeze us in. “You’ve been through a lot,” she told us, and gave me a hug.

Our babe measured 8 weeks, 2 days (according to my LMP I should be 8w1d) with a heart rate of 164. And our baby is finally starting to look human-like, with a giant head and two tiny feet, somewhat resembling a misshapen sour patch kid. My husband and I couldn’t stop giggling at how cute it was. We are so used to only seeing a lentil-sized blob on our ultrasounds, and never had anything develop beyond that. Seeing it actually look like a baby blew our minds. “OUR BABY HAS A F*CKING HEAD!!” my husband texted me later, “I need some time to process this” he joked.

I realized too, that on Thursday I started taking B6 to help with the nausea. I had low expectations of it actually working, but thought I would try it first before moving on to other drugs. I have no idea if that is why my nausea has subsided, but if it is that means that I basically begged my doctor for something to help my nausea, and then when it worked I went into a tailspin thinking I was miscarrying. Which again, makes me feel like a crazy person. 

As I thought back on my meltdown, I realized that with my first two pregnancies, this is when they ended.  We’ve never really made it past 8 weeks. I hadn’t been thinking consciously about that, because even with our first ultrasound we measured larger than we ever had before, so I feel like we’ve already surpassed the first two. But somewhere within, I was aware, and the timing signaled to me that this one was coming to its own end.

But nope, not yet. Our little one is a fighter.

a heart still beats

Thank you for all the sweet wishes yesterday, when I was a nervous mess! The ultrasound today went well. The little babe’s heart is still beating at 154 beats a minute and is growing right on track. Right now, it’s looking like we are 7 weeks 3 days, although each time my doctor measured she got a slightly different measurement. I know there is a lot of variability in the beginning, so I will try not to obsess too much about that one…if my doctor is pleased, then I will try to be pleased!

Our next ultrasound is a week from Wednesday. Already, we’re measuring bigger than we ever have before. I have morning sickness which I’ve never had. And we’ve had two good ultrasounds, which we’ve also never had. I’m still afraid to get too far ahead of myself, but I am hopeful. And that hope feels very surreal.

Keep growing, my little love!