I apologize in advance if this is TMI…

I do apologize in advance if this is TMI but I promised I would be more open sharing about the difficulties of fertility issues and our pregnancy loss, and coming up: Trying to Conceive again. This week I got my period back. Aside from being physically brutal, the first period after a pregnancy loss is also emotionally bittersweet: it’s sad because it means my body has completely put the pregnancy behind it.  My body has totally moved on and is ready to try again.  My ovaries have figured out that they need to ovulate again and my uterus has shed its lining and is ready to get pregnant again. But it’s also nice to know that things are moving along as they’re supposed to and returning to normal. It’s nice to know that my body no longer has pregnancy hormones, and that I’m physically back to baseline.

We’ve talked about the fact that we still really want to have another baby but that if we were to experience a third pregnancy loss we would probably be emotionally destroyed so we are probably going to give it one more shot and then if it doesn’t work we will consider not trying again.  I’m not ready to jump right back into taking my temperature and charting my ovulation, so for now we will take the “don’t try, don’t prevent” approach and let nature take its course.  If, in a few months from now I’m still not pregnant then we’ll probably do the whole temping and charting thing, but for now I feel like it’s okay to give my body a bit of a break.

We also need to focus on settling into the community here a bit more and finding more fun things to do.  The first few months we were here, we were so distracted by everything… Ken’s new job, my long commute, Julia’s new school, our new house, etc. that we didn’t really have time to build a community for ourselves but now that we have been here a while and Ken is settled into his practice, we have started making friends, getting involved, getting Julia into activities and it’s really starting to feel like home.  Over the weekend I took Julia to SkyZone (a trampoline place that she absolutely loves) and we went out to discover a new (to us) playground which was really awesome and which she loved!

We joined the JCC and I took Julia to a PJ Library event there a couple weeks ago.  We also started doing swimming lessons there a while ago and Julia will be heading there for their summer camp this summer!

Over the weekend Ken took Julia to the JCC for their Daddy-Daughter Date Night!  She had been excited about it for weeks.  Pretty much as soon as she heard that she could go to a dance with her Daddy, she was so excited about it.  She picked out the dress she wanted to wear and I took her to get her nails done the day of the dance.  They looked so adorable!

At the dance, they had a DJ, a photo booth, and the dinner they served was pizza and tater tots, with ice cream for dessert.  It’s a little girls’ dream come true!

After they got home, I asked Julia which was her favorite song she danced to, and she said “the slow one!”  She kept raving about how she “Danced the night away!”  It was pretty adorable, if you ask me!

In addition to finding activities to get involved with, we’ve been spending some nice time at home recently because Ken has been busy studying, so Julia and I have had a few lazy days at home, watching movies, playing with her toys here, etc.

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After all the activity that I like to plan it’s nice to have a few lazy days here and there!  We do of course have a lot of exciting things coming up which will distract us from the sadness we’ve had over the last few weeks, and will hopefully keep our minds off of “trying again”.  Ken’s parents are coming in town this weekend to celebrate his birthday, Ken is heading to Philadelphia next weekend for a board review course, Julia and I are going up to Connecticut the following weekend for Adam & Jenn’s engagement party, and two weeks after that I’m heading to Arizona for my friend Blair’s wedding!  Blair was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I have known her now for 13 years (!) so I am so excited to celebrate her marriage and see her on her wedding day! It will also be nice to get away by myself for a few days.  My parents are meeting me in Arizona and we’ll be doing a few activities together before the wedding.  It will be nice to have some time with them without Ken or Julia around (I love you both but it’ll be nice to have my parents all to myself for a few days!)

Now that this pregnancy loss is fully behind us physically, I suppose my blogging will turn back to regular every day life… and eventually, if I feel comfortable sharing, “trying to conceive.” So for now, over and out.

Today I did a thing…

Today I did a thing I had been dreading doing for a little while.  I threw away the Pregnancy Journal that I had bought, intending to keep track of the milestones in this most recently lost pregnancy.  I waited to buy it until after my 6-week appointment, when I was told that everything looked great.  There was a beautiful embryo, a lovely little heartbeat, and the Doctor told me he didn’t need to see me again for 4 weeks.  Encouraged by that news, I went out and bought a Pregnancy Journal to keep.  I loved keeping a pregnancy journal when I was pregnant with Julia and I wanted to give this pregnancy the same attention to detail and the same love that I gave Julia because I know that Julia loves to ask questions about when she was in my belly, and some day it will be so nice to share my journal with her.

As I threw away the pregnancy journal (which is now sitting in our trashcan with wilted flowers, some scrambled eggs that Julia didn’t eat this morning, and the peel of a clementine), I thought about how I might do things differently if and when I get pregnant again, and how I might think differently.

When I first got pregnant with Julia, I was all smiles.  I was excited, hopeful, optimistic and overjoyed to be pregnant, and after only one month of trying!  Sure, there was a part of me that worried about what could happen since we knew about my unicornuate uterus and the risks that brought to a pregnancy, but because it was my first time getting pregnant, I was mostly just excited to know that everything seemed to be in working order.  I immediately went out and bought a pregnancy journal… we told all our closest family and friends right away, and luckily everything went well.  We never had to un-tell anyone, we didn’t have any complications and at the end of 37 weeks and 6 days, a beautiful and healthy baby girl was born.

The second time I got pregnant, I had that same joy and excitement.  We were in Las Vegas when we found out, and we told the friends we were with.  We also called our parents to let them know the exciting news.  I didn’t buy a pregnancy journal until we got home to Baltimore, but then just a few weeks later we were given the awful news that we had just an empty gestational sac and that it was a partial molar pregnancy.  We had to un-tell our friends and family, we had to throw away the journal, and we had to sit with the disappointment and heartbreak for months as I went in week after week for blood tests and 2 D&Cs.

After one loss, getting pregnant again this most recent time we were both hesitant to get too excited.  We told fewer people this time than we had last time (though I am still of the opinion that I would rather people know so we can be surrounded by love if anything goes wrong than keep it to ourselves and have to suffer in silence).  Ken was better at keeping his excitement in check… he said that he was “cautiously optimistic” and “nervously excited,” but I immediately started making plans in my head… I’d be almost 20 weeks at Blair’s wedding and I’d be showing by then and would need a maternity dress.  I’d be over 30 weeks at Adam and Jenn’s wedding and would surely need a fancy maternity dress for that occasion.  I’d be due in the middle of the summer, but luckily Julia would be in summer camp then, and she’d have a 1-month old baby sibling by the time  school would be starting.  We all know what happened this time…

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So there sits my pregnancy journal in the trash can.

Next time, how will we feel?  How will we act?  Will we do anything differently?  Will we tell fewer people?  Will we be less excited?  Less hopeful?  When will we feel ready to tell people, ready to buy a journal?  Ready to post about it on Facebook?  Will I feel comfortable telling people I’m pregnant before it’s been confirmed on ultrasound?  Before we get past the first trimester?  Before I’m showing?  Who knows… it’s hard to say.  But I do know that having 2 pregnancy losses definitely will affect our feelings the next time.  I don’t know how, and I’m not prepared to make any grand plans about how we’ll do things differently because I know myself, and I know that I like to share exciting news, I like to be surrounded by supportive friends through happy and sad events.  But I don’t think I’ll be overjoyed like I was the first two times I got pregnant.  I don’t think I’ll count weeks on the calendar to figure out how far along I’ll be for various upcoming events.  I think when I see “pregnant” pop up next time, I’ll feel scared, terrified, nervous, and a little bit hopeful.  Will I feel comfortable telling my parents again, and risking breaking their hearts?  Will we want to tell Ken’s brothers and risk having to get those well-meaning but terrible to hear phone calls from family telling us how sorry they are to hear our bad news?  I don’t know.  Only time will tell.

Why we Marched

Dear Julia,

On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, we woke up at 7 in the morning and drove two hours down to Washington, D.C. to go to the Women’s March on Washington.  Getting to the march was an adventure in and of itself–we parked a mile from the Metro Station, walked in the cold to the Metro with you on my back in the Toddler Tula and all our snacks in a plastic bag on your stroller, we waited in a line that wrapped around the parking lot just to get in the metro, then we got on a train which took over an hour to get us to our stop.  You complained the whole way there that you didn’t want to be in your stroller, but there were no seats for us.  The metro was crowded, hot and stuffy, and you ate about half our snacks on the metro.  Once we got there, it took at least 15 minutes just to get out of the metro station because it was packed full of people.  And then when we got outside, despite my best attempts to meet up with friends of ours who were also in DC for the march, it was impossible to get where you wanted to go because it was so crowded and it was difficult to get in touch with anyone because the cell service was awful.  But once we got there, the experience was incredible: thousands and thousands of people, many with pink pussy hats on, many with poignantly written signs, many chanting various chants about democracy, our rights as women, and our dislike of Donald Trump.  You are 4, so you asked a lot of questions.  The whole way there you asked, “When are we going to be there? How many more minutes?” and I tried to explain to you that we were going to a march with a lot of other women.  I wore my “Nasty Woman” shirt and you picked out a rainbow shirt which was perfect for the occasion.

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The whole day I tried to answer your questions as best I could, but because you’re 4, you didn’t ask all of the questions, and I certainly couldn’t really explain to you fully why we marched so here is my attempt at explaining to you why we marched together as mother and daughter on January 21st.

When I was little (about your age), my mom took me to two marches… I don’t really remember either of them but I’ve heard the stories. One was about pro-choice issues, and one was a Gay Pride parade. Even though I don’t remember them, I’ve always felt like that was the beginning of my starting to understand why it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for those you care about. So even if you don’t remember our day, I have pictures to show you and stories to tell you, and even now (almost 2 weeks later), I still love hearing you chant, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”

When my mom (your Gaggee) was younger, she marched on Washington for women’s rights, the right to choose, equal rights for Blacks and Whites, and other vitally important issues of human and civil rights.  We marched on January 21st because it is sickening and disheartening that we are still fighting for these same issues over 40 years later.  My mom marched in the hopes that I wouldn’t have to fight the same battles she fought and now I marched for you in the hopes that you don’t have to fight these same battles.  These issues should have been settled long ago and we should not be fighting again and again for the same things. (Sure, new issues come up all the time as society changes and technology advances, but we should not still be making arguments about why a woman should be the one to decide whether or not she wants to go on birth control, whether or not she wants to have an abortion.  We should not be arguing anymore about the fact that women should be paid just as much as men for doing the same job they do as well as they do it.  We should not be arguing about the fact that inner-city Black kids deserve the same educational opportunities that suburban White kids have.)

We have kept you shielded as much as possible from the ordeal we just went through, but if Donald Trump and his people have their way, the decision we just had to make would be illegal, or at least significantly more difficult than it was.  Cause call it what you will, I just had an abortion.  We terminated an otherwise viable pregnancy.  We saw and heard the heartbeat.  We saw the embryo with its little “crown” and “rump.”  The little thing inside of me could have grown into a baby.  There is a small possibility that I could have carried that pregnancy to term, but making that choice could have put my life in grave danger, and could have left you without a mother and Daddy without a wife.  Given all the information available to us, I decided that taking that risk was not worth it.  Instead, I chose to continue with the other (the “good”) side of my uterus intact in the hopes that some day we can have a healthy pregnancy on that side and carry a little sibling for you to term. Believe me, the decision we made was not an easy one, but it was one we had to make and one we were free to make on our own, as a family, based on our beliefs, our hopes for the future, and with the advice of my doctors, who gave us all of the information they possessed.  Nobody pressured us to make a decision one way or the other and I never felt judged for making the decision we made.  That is how it should be.  NOBODY should ever be allowed to tell another human being (well… with limited exceptions (I’m a lawyer, what can I say?)) what choices they should make for their body.  Pregnancy is not an easy thing and nobody should ever be forced to go through a pregnancy that they do not want.  I don’t care what the reason is that they don’t want it… NOBODY should be forced to go through a pregnancy that they do not want.  It’s your body, it’s your choice.  The choice that we had to make was made ever so slightly easier because, from a Jewish perspective, there was only one choice to make.  In Judaism, life does not begin until birth and in the case of choosing between the life of an unborn baby or the life of a mother, the life of the mother is always considered first.  But even if I just didn’t want to be pregnant, that should still be my choice to make.  Even if the condom breaks, it’s a woman’s choice to decide what should happen to her body.  If a woman is raped, it’s her choice and her choice alone what to do with her body.  And that is why I marched.  Because YOU should always be allowed to make the decisions that you want for your body.

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother.  I wanted you so badly and was overjoyed when I found out I was pregnant with you.  I am so happy I got the little girl I always dreamed of having (a boy would have been cool too, but I really really wanted a little girl!) and you are everything to me.  Yeah, I complain sometimes that you’re stubborn like your daddy, and that you’re defiant and too smart for your own good, but you are such a smart, confident, creative, loving and wonderful little girl and I hope you always know how much we wanted you and how much we love you.  I marched on January 21st for you, for your future, and to show you that you can do anything you put your mind to.  These days you tell us you want to be an Obstetrician when you grow up.  If that remains true, I hope you get there some day.  But I want you to know that whatever you want to do, you can do it.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl.  I marched on January 21st because I love you more than you can possibly imagine and I want you to know that you have a world of possibilities open to you always.

Love,

Your Mama

 

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Recovering

Well I’m now a little over a week post-op and am starting to feel normal again.  Mostly I’m so happy to have this whole experience behind us and I’m excited that we can start to move on physically from this pregnancy loss.  Emotionally I’m sure there will be little reminders here and there, but physically this loss is completely behind us now.  The next steps are for me to get my period back and then we’ve been recommended to wait 3 cycles before we start “trying” again.  I’ve already resumed taking my pre-natal vitamins and extra folic acid, so I’m ready as soon as we are given the “all-clear.”  And luckily now that my OB practice here has followed me through this whole ordeal, they know about me and are willing to see me right at 6 weeks when I get pregnant next.

My mom arrived Sunday before my surgery, and it was so nice that she was able to come help.  Julia and I picked her up from the airport and then the three of us went out for a girls dinner.  Monday was a good day for us to show my mom the routine… how to get to school, etc. and Julia also had her first swim class!

Tuesday, Ken and I had to leave bright and early to drive down to Baltimore.  We checked in and then they started all the pre-op things… a urine test, blood pressure, etc. The nurse was very confused when my urine pregnancy test came back positive.  The thing that was most annoying about this whole ordeal was having to explain what was going on to so many people over and over again. The whole reason I was having this surgery was because I was pregnant and the pregnancy implanted in the wrong place, and yet the nurse was confused about why my pregnancy test came back positive. I kept wanting to put a post-it note on my forehead saying “yes, I know I’m pregnant.”

Once I was all done getting checked in, Ken was able to join me and we sat and waited for a while until they wheeled me back for surgery.  All-told the surgery took about an hour and forty-five minutes.  I was in quite a bit of pain when I first woke up, but they gave me some pain meds that took care of it.  I was admitted for the night onto a VIP floor where they had fancy bottled water, no techs (only nurses), free coffee and tea 24-hours a day, and some other nice amenities.  Apparently it was an accident that I was admitted to that floor, but it was a nice accident to have happen to me! That night I had a couple of visitors stop by after Ken went to Pete & Sarah’s house to sleep.  I took the advice I have always been given about abdominal surgery, which is to get up and walk as quickly and as often as possible and I think that really helped my recovery process.

The next morning I was still in quite a bit of pain, but I definitely felt ready to head home and sleep in my own bed! 2-2-20176

We got discharged a little after lunch and Ken drove us back home, where I proceeded to get back in bed!  My co-worker, Nichole sent me the most fuzzy and cozy bathrobe I have ever seen, and it was so nice to know she had been thinking of me! 2-2-20175

I pretty much spent the next 2 days in bed… getting up just to walk around a little and use the bathroom, but within a couple days the pain started to get much better and I felt well enough to get out a little bit.  At this point, a week and 2 days post-op I am feeling mostly back to normal.  I still have some tenderness in my belly around the incisions and I still find myself getting tired if I over-do it, and in the mid-late afternoon, but I’m sure that will subside over the next couple of days.  We have a busy weekend planned, and then on Monday afternoon I’ll go for my 2-week post-op appointment with the surgeon, at which time she will write me a back-to-work note.  I’ll probably go back to work either Tuesday or Wednesday, but probably with limited driving the first couple weeks back.  Spending long periods of time in the car, sitting in one position, is probably not great for the internal healing that needs to happen since it causes additional pain and tenderness.

Overall I would say the experience I had at Hopkins was amazing.  All the nurses, doctors, techs, residents, everyone… was professional, kind, courteous, explained things well, etc. It’s not somewhere I would want to go for routine care but with something as rare and bizarre as what I had going on, I was so grateful for the care they provided.

And at home, it was nice to know my mom was holding down the fort while I rested and got back to normal.  My mom was originally going to go home on Sunday, but she decided to extend her trip a bit and stay until Tuesday so that she could help out with Julia’s second swim class and so she could visit with Uncle Neil & Aunt Karen and with Rachel (all of whom came to visit over the weekend!)  It was nice to visit with them, and I’m glad I had my mom’s help for the first two days of the week with getting Julia to and from school.

Now that my mom went home, we are trying to get back onto some sort of routine.  I’m glad I still have a couple of days to relax a little before I need to get back to work, and I’m looking forward to the fun things we have planned for this weekend.

I’m still anxiously awaiting the time I can finally write my post about “Poppyseed 2.0 being on his/her way” after a healthy pregnancy has been confirmed, but until that time I’ll keep you posted on our every day life and some of the amazing things our 4-year old is doing these days!  Maybe I’ll even be a little more open this time around about our “Trying to Conceive” experience for those who find that sort of information helpful.