A few more things…

After the amazingly positive response I received on the post I made yesterday, I wanted to add a few additional thoughts.

Sharing the News

Getting pregnant is an exciting thing and it’s natural to want to share that news.  People go to great lengths to plan funny or exciting ways to share their news.  They make funny videos, do photo shoots, take cute pictures with their older child holding a sign saying “only child expiring July 2016” or with a tiny pair of baby shoes between the parents’ shoes.  When I got pregnant with Julia, Ken and I told our parents right away.  Within a week of my positive pregnancy test, we had told the rest of our immediate and extended family.  Within a month we had told pretty much all of our close friends, and by the end of the first trimester we posted on Facebook to share the news with the world.  We were blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy and we got to bring a baby home at the end of 9 months.

I am the type of person who likes to share exciting news with the knowledge that if anything horrible were to happen, I would want the support of my friends and family.  I’ve never been a private or secretive person.  (If I were, I wouldn’t have this blog!)  But deciding whether or when to share news of a pregnancy is a very personal decision.  When we started telling people, a couple friends were surprised and suggested that we wait until 12 weeks to tell more people.

This time we did the same thing we did last time… we told our parents immediately and shared the news with some close friends.  We told Ken’s whole family on Thanksgiving (my sister-in-law asked if I would drink some of the sangria she was planning to make, and when I said no, she immediately knew something was up!)  I don’t regret telling people, even though it has been hard to un-tell people.  I’ve had to send texts and messages to people saying “Never mind, there won’t be a baby in July.”  But the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from those same people has made it all worth it.  Next time I will definitely be a bit more guarded with my emotions surrounding pregnancy and I have no doubt I will be on pins and needles until we have a healthy ultrasound and see a heartbeat but I don’t think I will hesitate to share our exciting news because even if it ends with sadness, it’s still exciting at the time, and if anything were to happen again, I know I will need the support of friends and family.

The one regret I have is that we told Julia, too.  People warned us not to tell her but I think because my first pregnancy went so well I expected this one to be uneventful, too, and I didn’t want to wait.  She’s sometimes a rough-and-tumble kind of kid and she was being a bit too rough with me, wanting to sit on my belly to “ride the horsey.”  So we told her by explaining that she needed to be gentle with me because there was a tiny little baby inside of my belly.  We told her it was teeny tiny and that it was going to grow and grow and grow and eventually come out and she would be a big sister.

On Friday after my appointment, when we found out that the pregnancy was not viable, we had to tell her that we were wrong and that there wouldn’t be a baby.  Her reaction surprised me–she started bawling.  She was devastated and kept saying, “I want a baby brother!  I want to be a big sister!”  She still brings it up even a week and a half later.  Whenever we are sad, she asks, “Are you sad because there’s no baby?”  And every time she asks it breaks my heart.  Next time we will NOT tell Julia until much later in the pregnancy.  I can’t bear to break her heart again like we did this time.

Why I’m still very blessed

I have one beautiful healthy 3-year old.  I know I can get pregnant (and fairly quickly at that).  With Julia I got pregnant the first month we tried.  This time, I stopped my birth control (and weaned) in July.  I got pregnant our 5th month trying but my guess is that the first few months my hormones were leveling back to normal after birth control and breastfeeding.

I know that the number one predictor for having a healthy pregnancy is a prior healthy pregnancy, and when I came home after my D&C, Julia was there waiting for me, giving me hugs and promising to take care of me.  She reminded me why this is all worth it.

Many many women don’t have that when they lose a pregnancy and that would be so much harder to handle (in my opinion).  At least I know that I’m only 30 and that my body seems to know how to do this.  Unlike so many friends of ours, we do not seem to struggle with infertility because I can get pregnant, it’s just a question of getting pregnant with a healthy embryo and staying pregnant.

My heart goes out to families struggling with getting pregnant in the first place because that is a very difficult road to walk.  We are lucky to live in an age with lots of technology but it’s not easy to need testing, to take hormones or shots, to make your body ovulate if it’s not doing it on its own, to create embryos using eggs and sperm removed from the body.  That’s a much more expensive and treacherous road to walk and I feel grateful we have not had to do that.

Comparing Losses

Pregnancy loss sucks, no matter when it happens, and no matter how.  And everyone experiences that loss in their own personal and unique way.  I don’t think there’s ever a need to compare one person’s loss to another.  I do think the timing and type of loss we experienced may be slightly easier to handle than it would have been if I had been farther along, or if we had seen a heartbeat one week and then went back to see no heartbeat the following week.  But pregnancy loss is not something to compare or compete on.  It sucks and each person experiences it in their own way.  A loss at 7 weeks is just as sad and tragic a loss as one at 13 weeks.  It’s a personal experience and sad no matter when it happens.

The “M” word

After I posted yesterday’s blog post, I got about 12-15 messages from people saying “I read your post.  Thank you for sharing your experience.  I had a miscarriage too and never felt comfortable talking about it.”  There is this horrible silence that surrounds miscarriage.  It’s as though the word is a bad word.

I really think that needs to change.  Because people don’t talk about it, when it happens, you feel so alone until people start sharing their experiences and then you realize you are in good company.  The statistic I’ve heard is that one in 5 known pregnancies ends in miscarriage.  On top of that, there are miscarriages people experience when they never even knew they were pregnant.  They assume their period is just late and heavier than usual but it turns out they were pregnant and just never knew it.  One high estimate is that 1/3 of pregnancies ends in miscarriage.  And yet there’s still this silence around it such that people feel so alone and isolated when it happens.

I don’t know how to change the culture around Miscarriage but I’m going to do my part by talking about it, sharing my experience and encouraging others to share their experiences.

Miscarriages suck.  I wouldn’t wish one on my worst enemy.  But it’s not a bad word.  It helps to talk about it and to know that you’re not alone when it happens.

 

Poppyseed is becoming a Prune

Our little poppyseed is going to be prune-sized tomorrow, as I hit the 10-week mark.  We’ve only got 3 more weeks until we hit the 2nd trimester!  Today I went for my annual exam with my OB but at the end of the appointment, she did another Ultrasound (yay!).  Little Levin (as my mom has been referring to him/her as) has little arm and leg buds now and was waving to us!  We heard the heartbeat again, and it was still beating strong at 170 beats per minute.   

So far I’m feeling really good about this pregnancy… the doctor seems to think everything is going well, and it’s been great getting to see the heartbeat three times already.  Each time she prints out pictures, she says they look “textbook,” which definitely makes me feel good.  The baby seems to be growing appropriately and today on the photos (you can see them above–they look best if you turn your head sideways), we saw the Umbilical Cord. 

The hardest thing about Mullerian Duct Abnormalities, and Unicornuate Uteruses in particular, is that the risk doesn’t really go away once you get out of the first trimester.  Most people, when pregnant, can relax and breathe a sigh of relief once they hit the 13 week and 3 day mark, which is the official beginning of the second trimester, but with the condition I have, that’s when the up-hill battle begins.  There’s a big risk of miscarriage in the 2nd and third trimesters and a risk of preterm labor, so at the point in pregnancy at which most women are able to sit back, relax and enjoy their pregnancy glow, I’m going to be worrying constantly that something could go wrong, that my uterus won’t stretch enough to accommodate the baby, or that somehow I’m going to go into preterm labor way earlier than healthy and I’ll have to go on bed rest and take all kinds of medications to stop the labor and to help the baby’s lungs to develop faster.

The advice I’ve gotten from everyone–doctors, other women who are pregnant with high risk pregnancies, and friends–is to take it one day at a time.  I’ve heard this mantra that some women say to themselves each morning: “today I am pregnant and I love my baby.”  That’s a good way to sort of force yourself to take it one day at a time, and to live in the moment.  Ken has expressed his fear to me that I’m getting too attached too soon or too excited too early, but I find that it’s hard not to be excited.  I don’t want to live in constant fear of something going wrong, because then I would never be able to just enjoy being pregnant, but I don’t want to get so attached that if something happens I’ll be unconsolable and devastated.  I think feeling devastated if something happens is only natural but I do think I have enough faith that I’ll be able to get through whatever happens.  My mother-in-law uses the Yiddish word, “Beshert” quite frequently, which means “What’s meant to be is meant to be.”  If this baby is meant to come into this world, then that’s what’s going to happen.  If he/she isn’t meant to, then it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen, at a different time. 

So in medical appointment news, my next visit (with my new OB) is scheduled for April 4th, and the following week I will be meeting with the Maternal and Fetal Medicine Specialist for the first time, on April 12th.

We have a heartbeat!

Today I am 7 weeks and 6 days pregnant (though my ticker on The Bump says I’m 8 weeks based on when I think I ovulated) and we had our second visit with the doctor this morning. 

The doctor was very pleased with what she saw and heard.  We saw a little bean with a head and a tail, and we got to listen to the heartbeat which was right at about 170 beats per minute.  The doctor said that once you hear strong fetal heart tones like we heard, your risk of miscarriage goes down to about 5%.  The problem though, is that with my Unicornuate Uterus, the risk is not so much in the first trimester as it is in the second and third trimesters.  There’s a risk of preterm labor, intrauterine growth restriction, and other complications that can arise from having a smaller-than-normal uterus.  My regular OB wants to see me back in about 2 weeks to go over the blood work that they drew blood samples for today, and she said that sometime between 10 and 12 weeks she’ll send me to meet with the Maternal and Fetal Medicine specialist, who will determine whether she wants me to start taking Progesterone injections from about weeks 16 through 35.  The purpose of the progesterone injections would be to prevent me from going into preterm labor.  The doctor explained that it sort of relaxes the uterus (which is a muscle) so that it does not start contracting too early.  The problem with these shots is that they can be very expensive because if you buy them directly from the manuacturer they are about $1000 per dose, or you can buy them from a special compounding pharmacy, where they cost about $80 per dose.  So we’ll see what the MFM says… obviously we will do whatever we need to do to make sure that I, and the baby, are healthy.

The only thing making me feel different this week is that I am really exhausted.  Today it could be because I didn’t sleep very well last night, but even so… I just feel like I could crawl back into bed and sleep for several more hours this morning.  Unfortunately, I’m at work… and should get to work.  So, until next time!

A little poppyseed!

I’ve decided to start this blog privately for now, to keep a little pregnancy journal so that some day I can (hopefully) share with the world my story which will (hopefully) end with a happy and healthy baby born at the end! 

Ken and I found out about two years ago that I have a Mullerian Duct Abnormality.  My uterus is special and is a Unicornuate Uterus.  Given that I’ve always wanted to be a mother, learning this information caused us a lot of distress.  There is very little information online or in medical literature about this type of anomaly and the little information we did find was negative information.  We learned that with this condition, I would have a higher risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor, intra-uterine growth restriction and all of these only if I could get pregnant in the first place.  Different doctors I spoke with told me very different things and it was very hard to get answers.  The basic consensus was that it could lead to negative outcomes or it could not affect me at all and that the only way to find out for sure would be to try getting pregnant, monitor my pregnancy closely, and wait and see. 

To me, the unknown is always scary and intimidating, so telling me to “wait and see” is not very settling.  We agreed that in January, 2012, we would start trying to have a baby because we figured out that the earliest a resulting baby would be born is October, 2012, at which point Ken will be 4 months into his Internal Medicine internship.  We figured it would probably take a while for me to get used to being off of birth control, as I had been on it since the age of 18 (and I am now 26), so I took out my last Nuva Ring shortly before Halloween, in 2011. 

My first few cycles off of birth control seemed strange… they went from 28 days to 31 days to 25 days, and I had PMS symptoms up the wazoo, which I had never experienced while I was on birth control.  I was pissy, I had horrible cramps, I had 2-4 days of spotting before my period showed up, I had migraines, dizziness, nausea, horrible acne all over my face and my chest… it was not fun and I was complaining that I missed my birth control.  Ken was away for most of November and December on Residency Interviews, so we knew it wouldn’t happen the first two months.  During that time I started reading a lot of message boards about pregnancy and about trying to conceive and I became somewhat obsessed with analyzing every little sensation and twinge I felt in my body, assuming it was ovulation or implantation.  I was driving myself crazy!

So January arrived and we were officially “Trying to Conceive.”  I told Ken every little detail… and it was starting to make him nervous.  We kept hearing about friends of ours who were expecting babies and Ken would say “it seems as though everyone is pregnant, except for you,” with a sad look on his face.  We both were feeling as though we had to schedule sex according to my menstrual cycle and that is never how you’re supposed to go about getting pregnant.  It should be fun, you should be relaxed, and you should just let it happen.  Everyone I spoke with said that I had to relax.  So when I got my period on January 17th, I decided it would be a good idea to try to relax and to just take my temperature every morning to get an idea of my regular cycle–when I ovulate, how long my Luteal Phase is, etc.  Charting your basal body temperature is the only sure way to know if and when you are ovulating.  So I charted… my temperature spiked and the charting software told me I had ovulated the day before.  Luckily our “timing” was very good in the few days before and the day of ovulation.  Then I watched what my temperature did… it went up and then it went down and then it went back up and back down and I analyzed every single little change in temperature… could it be an “implantation dip”?  Could it be a “triphasic chart”?  I was going nuts! 

Then I started to spot… and the spotting continued for 3… 4… 5… 6 days.  Off of birth control I had spotting for 4 days, 3 days and 2 days before my period but never for 6 days.  And to top it all off, I didn’t feel like I was about to get my period: I was still in a good mood, I wasn’t feeling bloated, I didn’t have cramps, and the spotting seemed to be subsiding.  Fast forward to Sunday morning, February 12th which was 13 days after ovulation (according to this fancy charting software) and Cycle Day 27.  I woke up and didn’t feel anything, so I figured… what the heck, I might as well take a pregnancy test (I had about 6 of them in a drawer in our bathroom).  So I peed on it, left it in the bathroom and then went about my business for the morning.  I ate breakfast, gave Ken a big hug, and then went back into the bathroom to look at the test.  It had been (about) 10 minutes, and when I looked at it there were clearly 2 lines on it indicating a positive pregnancy test.  I ran over to Ken and said, “Ken!!! I think I’m pregnant!” and I showed him the test.  He asked me how long it had been since I took it and I said “about 10 minutes.”  He looked up the test brand and saw that their instructions advise against reading results after 10 minutes as they can be inaccurate.  So we didn’t know what to think… and I felt stupid for not following the directions. 

An hour later, I had to pee again so I went back into the bathroom and used one of the digital tests since I figured they have got to be easier to use.  The little timer came up and started flashing… and flashing… for what felt like 3 hours (it was probably only about 3 minutes) and then it said “Pregnant”!

I screamed to Ken “I did it!  I took another test and it says I’m pregnant!”  He and I both looked at it in disbelief for a few minutes, and then we decided to call my Mother to tell her.  I said, “Mommy!  I have something I have to tell you!  I’m pregnant!” and her first response was “I knew it!”  

When we had first started talking about trying to have a baby, we always said we were going to tell only my mom and Ken’s dad at first because of the high risk of miscarriage, and that we were going to wait to tell the rest of the family until after the first trimester and that we would wait to tell friends until after I started showing.  That plan quickly went to hell because we called Ken’s parents shortly thereafter, and the next day we called everyone else in the family as well as a few close friends, both at home in San Francisco and here in New Orleans.  We figure that if anything does happen, it’s more important that we have a good support system in place and that means that people have to know what we’re going through so we can call them and talk to them about things.  It’s more important to us to have people we can talk to than that we keep it a secret.

Today is Wednesday, the 15th of February, so this is the 4th day that I’ve known I’m pregnant, and the news still hasn’t quite sunk in.  In fact, I was in such disbelief at first that I took another pregnancy test Monday night (it said “Pregnant”) and I took yet another on Tuesday night (it also said “Pregnant”).  So now I guess it’s hit me… I’m pregnant!  I’ll probably continue taking tests until I actually see my doctor in a week and a half (I’m only half joking… a part of me will want to make sure everything is still going okay, and unless I start getting symptoms, the best way to tell is to figure out whether I still have the pregnancy hormone HCG in my system). 

According to the online due date calculators (if they’re accurate), if you go based on my last menstrual period, my due date should be sometime around October 23rd which means that today I am just about 4 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  According to a website called “The Bump,” the little embryo is about the side of a poppyseed (hence the name of this blog).  I scheduled my first OB appointment for February 27th, at which time I will be 1 day shy of 6 weeks pregnant, and we are hoping we’ll get to see the little poppyseed and its heartbeat at that visit. 

I’m feeling a huge mix of emotions: shock that it only took us 2 months to get pregnant, excitement because this is something I’ve wanted since I was a very little girl, and fear that something will go wrong and that I won’t stay pregnant.  That fear increases whenever I google something like “pregnancy outcomes in unicornuate uteruses” or “Mullerian Duct Abnormalities successful pregnancies.”  The numbers that have been published are very dreary… 30% end in miscarriage, another 20% go into preterm labor and only 50% deliver full-term babies.  But then I remind myself what so many doctors have told me: you never know until you see how your own body handles pregnancy.  The uterus is a muscle that is designed to stretch.  If “Octo-Mom” could carry 8 babies in her uterus, then my 1/2 of a uterus should be able to carry one.  Of course it doesn’t help that Ken is in Medical School and has a lot more knowledge than most, so he knows about the worst-case scenario.  Because of that, we’re saying that we are “Cautiously Optimistic” and “Cautiously Excited” about this whole thing.

But I figure that our story could certainly help someone down the road… no matter what the outcome is.  The fact that I got pregnant so quickly is very reassuring because we know Ken’s pipes work, we know my tubes work, and we know that it’s possible for me to get pregnant.  Now we just have to wait and see and I’ll keep updating this little blog throughout the process.  Maybe eventually I’ll share it with people or maybe I won’t.  For now though, I hope the little poppyseed stays right where it is and continues to grow and develop.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed and keeping prayers in my heart.