Moving on from Miscarriage

As time carries on, and the weeks and months grow into many that separate us from the first news of our untimely miscarriage, we move forward.  I would say that time heals, but I would be lying.  Time removes the sting, the punch in the gut sort of feeling, and maybe even the heartbreak, but I am finding it doesn’t seem to remove the, I’ll call it…the abyss that is miscarriage.   The abyss…the God-given area of our heart that attaches to its unborn, the part of ourselves that gives completely to that in which grows in her depths.  Oftentimes, we are unaware of just how deep our feelings and connection goes until our baby is born or until we have time to feel its bond.  Yet, it is real no matter where you are in you are in your pregnancy and when you lose it, you know that this special area of your heart, created just for this little person, will forever be vacant, will forever wonder if and what.  There are big reminders…dates, pregnancies in similar spots and there are small reminders…musings of your mind, the to do list in the back of your head that you began to formulate upon realization of conception, the shoes you saved for the what if it was this gender or the picture you found at the thrift store – perfect for your future child’s room.  Yes, it’s there…my abyss, my longing for my child.  I wonder how this space will evolve over time.  Will I ever be able to rectify its presence? Time marches on, friends and family move forward, miscarriage is often forgotten, but a mother carries forever her abyss, her God-given hole for her baby.

Even in the face of knowing we get to move forward and try again and are deep in the planning stages for our next embryo transfer, I feel the longing.  I almost unknowingly calculate in my mind where I would have been in my pregnancy.  I can’t help it, I long to be able to begin to feel the movement of my baby, to have scheduled the anatomy ultrasound and be in the planning stages of a gender reveal party.  I am hopeful that there will be news of another baby soon enough, a successful transfer and a celebration of a healthy pregnancy.  In time, I trust I will have these things again.  In time, I know that my heart will feel fulfilled and that it will give immeasurably more love than I ever thought it capable to the sweet lovelies whom I will bear.  In time, the pain will continue to lesson, slowly replaced with a heartfelt understanding that God always KNEW what he was up to.

aka…FAITH.

Like so many other battles I have endured, Faith enters the picture, triumphant and certain.  There are just so many things in life you have to accept on Faith.  We have a very limited understanding compared to God.  Ultimately, healing comes with trusting in His promises. Our Faith carries us forward.

Faith that all will be made right some day.

Faith that He makes everything beautiful in time.

Faith that my baby dances with Jesus.

Faith that He is GOOD.

Faith that He will give me the strength to forever carry on, to bear even more hurts and to live in even greater JOY.

To Him be the Glory.  To Him I surrender my heart, my abyss…please fill it with your love.

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I dream of……………DiAPeRs!

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Ok, I said it. It’s out and on the table. I am BEYOND obsessed with my new cloth diapers. So much so that I had to share my obsession with you and can hardly wait to try them. Can you tell that I am clearly NEW to diapering? What expectant mom of one dreams about cloth diapering and can’t wait to begin diapering her second. But a first time mom…these are the things we get excited about. I could be wrong. But I just imagine that moms getting ready to have their second one are OVER it! (Ok, maybe I am alone even amongst first time expectant moms, but the thought of saving thousands of dollars and reducing my environmental footprint is definitely appealing – had to throw that last part in because I am from Portland, Oregon and it is only appropriate that I say that.) But for me…opening up my box of brand new bumgenius 4.0s as well as some gently used ones I found on Craigslist for a killer deal just had me over the moon and around the corner. Specifically, these put me around the corner. I am already OVER the moon in LOVE with our sweet daughter…but to imagine her in these wonderful little diapers and a cute headband on her head. BLISS! Call me crazy. I am…and will fully admit to it.

In addition to the advice of many friends of mine who cloth diaper and LOVE it, I have spent months researching the many options and finally settled on these. There was a spectacular Black Friday Deal at bouncing babies where I was able to snag these brand new for about $12 each. Hardly could believe it!  So here I am, enjoying these treasured gifts beneath the tree. Treasured because they signify so much more then just a diaper to me. They are just another reminder of the new life that God is blessing us with. Reminders of the gift that being a mom will be…especially the joy that comes with the knowledge that God has hand picked us to be the steward of our little girl’s heart as she grows into the woman God has created her to be. It’s the little things that have become so special now. I could have only dreamed about going so far as to think about diapers a year ago…but now I can google and research and price compare to my heart’s content.

Oh, what will be next…..

17 weeks! So much excitement in the air…

Hello all!

I have missed blogging. It has been a very eventful 3 weeks since my last post. From a trip to the mountains (picture to right) to attending a marriage retreat to a day trip to Seattle to all sorts of nesting projects and some intensive book writing…busy, busy, busy and I have loved each moment of it. Especially given that fall has finally settled into the northwest. Cozy sweaters, warm beverages and ALL things PUMPKIN have been in order.

My pregnancy continues on uneventfully. We had another OB appointment last week and I really think we could have accomplished most of it (minus the vital signs and weight measurement) via the phone. She listened to the heartbeat but couldn’t quantify a number and then went over with us the food dos and don’t of pregnancy (which I thought was a little late given we are in our second trimester). That’s it and sent us on our way. Oh well, I imagine our appointments will become more involved the further we get. One important thing did happen though and that was that the order was placed to schedule our big 20 week ultrasound! We are SO excited about that one. This will be our first ultrasound in over 10 weeks.

On a side note, we opted not to have an NT scan or do any genetic testing. We chose not to because I have always heard about the relatively high rate of false positives. This truth became a reality just over 2 years ago when a dear friend of mine received a false positive that sent her into a state of anxiety and depression for the remainder of her pregnancy. Of course, at the time, she didn’t know it was a false positive. Instead of enjoying her pregnancy, she prepared herself emotionally for a child with Down’s Syndrome and processed through long established expectations of what she had hoped this baby would mean for her. Bottom line for us is that no outcome of these tests would cause us to terminate a pregnancy. So rather than deal with the small chance of a false positive, we would rather just leave it all in God’s hands. What will be will be! Of course, this is just the right decision for us. I know myself and know that I would most likely respond in a similar manner as my friend. This is an area where I am choosing ignorance over knowledge. Perhaps, instead of ignorance I am just going to call it faith. I am learning that all parts of infertility, pregnancy (and very soon I will be adding parenting to that list) include releasing control and having increasingly more FAITH.

Other than that, things have been going pretty smoothly. I guess the biggest thing I have had to deal with is a whole lot of constipation. There have been moments throughout the last few weeks where I didn’t think my belly could stretch any more, the pain and discomfort close to unbearable. As a result, last weekend, our household initiated operation FIBER and that has really turned things around. My husband has been trying to help me eat 30 grams of fiber per day. He has been making all sort of fiber rich meals and breakfasts. Let me tell you, that is a LOT of fiber and my body is responding appropriately. Praise God though! I feel so much better.

We are busy planning our gender reveal party that will be coming up after our ultrasound…actually 9 days after. This was the earliest that we could find a free weekend night to plan it. Though it means a little more waiting, it will give the baker a chance to make our cake and for us to get all the last minute details together. SO FUN! I will definitely give you more details as it comes together.

Also, we are planning to finally announce our pregnancy to the world (aka facebook) sometime in the next week or 2. We are meeting up with a dear friend on Sunday to take some pregnancy announcement/holiday pictures. Another thing I am VERY excited about. I keep using that word over and over again, but there are just a lot of great things going on right now. I feel really blessed to be where we are at.

Here are a few more photos from our weekend in the mountains.

Tonight I will post a 17 week picture and a few more updates. Blessings to all!

2nd TRIMESTER!!! Woweeee! 14w1d

October 1st marked the first official day of my second trimester according to babycenter.com!!!  I am so excited to reach this point.  I have been feeling great.  I couldn’t have asked for a healthier, more feel good pregnancy thus far.  So, I decided to celebrate and post my first bump pic.  This was taken at 5:30am, before breakfast.  I get so bloated by the end of the day, so I wanted my bump pic to be tried and true – not the late evening bloat belly.

I feel that I have really settled into my pregnancy and don’t find myself anxiously anticipating my next change day as much as I used to.  It’s a real joy carrying our little “half pint” as my husband so affectionately refers to them as.

I look forward to writing more.  It has been a busy fall thus far.  Tomorrow we are headed to the mountains for our annual FALL get together with our dear friends.  It’s always a wonderful time for some R&R and a WHOLE lot of the great outdoors.  Last year they were pregnant during our trip.  How I remember dreaming that we would be on similar journey of our own this year and HERE WE ARE!  Such a blessing.

12 weeks and LOVING it!

We have made it to 12 weeks!  It is a BLESSED, HAPPY, SOLID number!!!  It felt so good to get that pregnancy update from baby center today!

Over the past few weeks we have really begun to embrace our pregnancy and my ever so slightly growing bump.  Last week, I even splurged and bought some maternity shirts.  Not that I need them, what I really need are some pants, though rubber bands are doing me wonders.  But, I have to tell you that I kinda hit the jackpot at ROSS of all places.  I bought 9 new maternity shirts for $76 total (The really nice kind with rouched sides!)  It felt great!  Ross, is the one place that I essentially have a free ticket to shop all I want!  My husband loves to save money and Ross fits nicely into the budget.  Typically little money is spent there though as I have never really enjoyed shopping and especially not at stores like Ross that require massive amounts of patience to sift through all the clothing.  But the maternity section was small and quite easy to maneuver.  Anyway, all the shirts are are super cute.  I should post a few pix.  The experience certainly beat the $24 I paid at Target for one shirt.  Anyway, there is always a compromise though.  I am going to splurge on one pair of fantastic maternity jeans.  I live in my jeans and have yet to find anything I like, so I am going to go for it, though I hope to purchase them through consignment…but if not…then I am just going to take the plunge.

Anyway, enough ramblings about clothes.  On to some God talk.

For some time, I have felt that I need to do more for women battling with infertility.  My heart is soooo heavy for women yet in the trenches and I want to help them find hope.  It was SO hard for me to cling to hope and not give up on my faith entirely at times during our long road to conceiving.  I have felt in my heart a real desire to write some sort of devotional or bible study to help encourage women through this season in their lives.  We’ll see what becomes of it, but I can’t seem to shake the idea.  Honestly, it seems so daunting to me. I am not a good writer and to put together some sort of booklet sounds like a huge undertaking, but at the same time, I want to be a voice of compassion and encouragement to women going through this.  Fortunately, for so many of us, we have found community and a voice through our blogs, but I know there are so many more out there that are feeling humiliated, isolated, and without support during one of the greatest challenges that life can bring.

Anyway, so that is a bit on that….

We have begun to tell family and friends about our pregnancy and it is just wonderful to hear their responses.  It is like a long awaited Christmas gift that we are just now beginning to unwrap. My husband and I cherish these moments together with our family and friends and find such joy in their responses.  I think we will wait to post it on facebook for some time just because I kinda like keeping it to our inner circle for now.  Maybe when I bust into those maternity clothes I will post a little pic or something, but for now, it has been so delightful just letting people know as we run into them or call them or however the connection may occur.

Praying for so many of you ladies and so thankful to be able to share in your stories!  This community is a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement for me!

10 weeks 3 days. Doppler Success!!!!!!

Well, we did it.  We gave in and bought a fetal doppler.  Honestly, I had no idea these existed and were available for home purchase until reading about them on people’s blogs over the past few months.  I never thought I would get one.  But since graduating from the RE after our first ultrasound at 6w6d, we have yet to see the OB.  Our first OB appointment is at 11w1d, which happens to be next Wednesday, but I’m not even sure they will do an ultrasound then.  It is supposedly an “intake” appointment.  This OB practice is very laid back or at least that is what I am telling myself as they weren’t in any hurry to get me in.

So, on to the good news.

We ordered a Sonoline B off a website called Clinical Guard and paid about $55 for it.  Not bad and I am SO happy we bought it.  It was worth every penny.

It took us about 5 minutes to locate the baby’s heartbeat.  During those 5 minutes, all we could hear was the placenta.  That, in and of itself, was quite reassuring to me.  I didn’t mind if we couldn’t find the heartbeat, knowing it was still early to get a good listen.  But I kept probing and then all of a sudden the pitch changed as well as the sound.  You could hear the valves close and I knew we had honed in on our baby.  The heart rate was 164bpm.

Yeah!!!  This was the best thing I have heard in weeks.  Music to my ears!

 

Battle scars. When will I settle in? 9w4d pregnant.

I wish I was able to let go and get excited about this pregnancy.  I wish I could experience the resounding JOY of a first time mom.  I wish I could DREAM about nurseries and bonding with my baby and dwell on our sweet future together.  I think about these things, but do I DREAM?

Instead, I feel cautious.  I am SO happy to be pregnant, so blessed to finally be in this place, but it is NOT the bliss I would have always thought it would be.  Leading up to my first ultrasound, I was nervous, my mind fraught with anxiety.  When could I OWN this pregnancy?  When would I settle into it?  When would I just ENJOY being pregnant everyday?  The ultrasound came and went and though I worry so much less now about whether or not it is real, I have to admit that I have yet to settle into it.  Yet, to wake up in the morning, overcome with feelings of joy and elation that we are PREGNANT.  In my heart I am so thankful and praise God each and every day for this little miracle.  I have been researching baby gear and look forward to putting together a nursery, but I still find myself…well, numb.

This numbness of mine has resulted from so many months of battling with infertility.  Unmet expectations, broken dreams, waiting, enduring, hoping, and so much failing.  A relentless cycle that has left my soul forever changed, my heart hardened.  As the months turned into a year + many months, more and more I began to protect myself.  I worked hard to keep the pieces of my life together.  I went into full on self-protection mode and was able to give very little to those in my life and in my community.  Month after month, I continued to reach out, clinging to any hope I could find in God, Google, or some new treatment plan.  Time and time again, failure.  After a while, I grew calloused, I had to find a way to cope with infertility and no longer allow it to own me.  I had to find a way to rid it of the power it had over me and find myself again.

Well, new life has begun in me and with it, I am trying to restore my heart.  As I learn more about myself and how I respond to pregnancy, I realize just how much work there is yet to be done.  This journey is far from over.  I want to feel again, to LIVE in the moment again.  I want to enjoy each and every moment of this pregnancy and this beautiful baby that is growing in side of me.  I don’t want my past to determine my future. I realize that infertility has shaped me in countless ways for the better of my future family.  I want my children to have a mom who feels their pain and disappointments, who laughs at their sweet jokes, and whom can cry when necessary.

I will regain my soft heart…one day I may even wear it on my sleeve again.  In the meantime, I just thank God for this amazing privilege of finally working towards becoming a mom.  A dream I had all but given up just a few short months ago.  I hope I can find myself settling in soon and I hope that this baby in my belly is in our life to stay.

 

***

I had written this post last night and then thought I should sleep on it before posting it.  Part of me feels guilty for the feeling the way I do, for not being OVER the MOON excited.  But then, as I logged in to my Word Press account this morning, one of my dear blogging friends, Chanel, just found out yesterday that her baby had no heartbeat. This was her second U/S.  She had had a fabulous one just a few weeks ago.  Chanel and I received our BFP within days of eachother and so I have felt a special connection towards her and this baby.  I am heartbroken and so very sad for her and it just serves as another reminder of just how hard this journey really is.  There are no guarantees once receiving that long awaited BFP.  Please send her some LOVE!

What made it work? IVF prep, God’s grace, and a fabulous RE!

For some time I have felt the need to write about some of the different things that I did leading up to my IVF cycle that could have helped it work.  One will never know what exactly did the trick.  Mostly, I just give all the credit to God and figure it just FINALLY was the right time for us.  Nonetheless, the further out I am getting from our cycle, the more I seem to forget.  I never thought I would say that as we lived it for so long – the shots, the oral medications, the vaginal suppositories, but I am.

So, let’s get to it…

One of the first things I did upon discovering that I might have endometriosis earlier this April, was to get on what I am calling a anti-negative immune system regimen.  There are some negative immune things going on in endo, I sought to counter these effects with:

DHEA 20mg.  I took a very low dose.  DHEA had many positive effects apart from increasing the better parts of my immune system and decreasing some of the unwelcome parts.   (I could go into so much more detail about DHEA and get all scientific, but don’t want to lose you, so we’ll stick with my better/unwelcome parts analogy. ) Apparently it also helps with egg quality.  (Somehow, according to our RE, all our embryos turned out “perfect”, so I’m thinking this really helped.)  Was my RE really on board?  Not really, but they let me stay on it. There are a lot of clinics around the country utilizing DHEA as part of their IVF protocols.  In my humble opinion, I think we will begin to see more of it.

DHA.  Found in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, I took some additional DHA on the side.  Also, to help out my immune system and improve my egg quaility.

Vitamin D – 2000IU.  I increased my Vitamin D intake as it also appears to modulate the immune system.

Melatonin 3mg every night to help improve egg quality.

…I figured if endo was preventing my embryos from implanting or attacking them prior to even reaching my uterus, well, it was time for me to take the offensive position and get it UNDER control. I will never really know how my immune system was really functioning as I did not undergo testing.  Nonetheless, I felt these changes were very important and there was enough literature out there to support them. On a side note, as much as I loved my RE, he isn’t really into the whole immune system side of things and only begins to delve into these things in women with recurrent miscarriages. He kinda laughed at me when I brought it up early in our treatment, but I carried on anyway.

Next, I ordered a book.  IVF Success Program.

This book was GREAT!  Definitely overwhelming and there is NO way you can incorporate everything into your life.  But it provides all the research on everything from diet to exercise to medications to acupuncture to little changes that can make all the difference in having a successful IVF cycle.  A few changes I made as a result of reading it were that I started going to acupuncture again.  I went once a week and then on the day of my transfer, I had acupuncture before and after.   I tried to incorporate more pH basic foods into my diet including cucumbers, red peppers, kale, etc…while decreasing pH acidic foods such as red meat in hopes to encourage more positive changes in my immune system and overall fertility.  She also recommends drinking mint tea everyday…so mint tea I did.  I am not going to get into all the research here.  Too much to talk about, but I really liked the book.  She also goes over the whole process from starts to finish, the different medications you are on and all of the tests you will endure.  There is a yoga book included, as well as a menu planner, and a journal to track your experience.  She also talks about the research behind the eating of pineapple core for 5 days post transfer….

Thus, that is what I did.  Pineapple core post transfer for 5 days!  Just the core.  The bromine helps with implantation.

I had NO caffeine whatsoever, no alcohol, and apart from a few luna bars each week, did not consume any soy products.

I was on bed rest for 2 days post transfer and was not allowed to exercise or have sex until we had our positive beta.  Our RE wanted my body in REST mode.  Walking was okay as long as it wasn’t too strenuous and I kept my heart rate under 140bpm.

These are the main things I did to improve our chances of success.  I really believe they helped as our embryo quality was “perfect” on all of our embryos according to our RE and embryologist. Also, I felt really good throughout our cycle and think the acupuncture and diet changes really helped with that.  Yet more than anything, I prayed…a LOT and left the whole cycle in God’s hands.  I realized pretty early on that worrying would get me NOWHERE.  I had no control except to take my medications and eat as best as possible, the rest was up to my body and God.  I knew that if He willed it to happen that it was going to happen.  I just had to keep the faith, keep the trust!  Of course, I got anxious from time to time and fretted and worried and googled, but as quickly as I would see my mind spiral out of control and count us out for this cycle, I would try to take captive these thoughts and replace them with ones of faith and belief.  Mind over matter.  I was NOT going to let my worries get the best of me.

Of course, I realize that my RE deserves a great deal of credit too!  Oregon Reproductive has an AWESOME protocol and amazing doctors and I feel SO blessed to have received care under them!

Post transfer, I was on Endometrin 3x daily, Estrace 2x daily, and Aspirin.  I am still on the Endometrin and Aspirin and only finally got off the estrogen last week.  I am hoping that starting next week I will get to begin my wean from Endometrin.  I still take my 2000IU of Vitamin D and prenatal with DHA, but stopped all other medications.

Anyway, much credit to Dr. Hesla and his colleagues.

Hopefully, I didn’t leave too much else out. If so, I will add it in later.  I have really enjoyed other bloggers post of things they have done to improve their success so thought it important to contribute my own!  All the best to all of you!  I am praying for so many of you and am so thankful for this community!

Ultrasound # 1 at 6 weeks 6 days!!!!!

Our ultrasound couldn’t have gone any better.  Our baby…yep, just one…is growing beautifully and perfectly measuring right on schedule!  It was a HUGE relief.  We are so excited and it made it all so much more real!!!  We have been curious leading up to this ultrasound if we would be having 1 or 2.  When I initially received my first beta result a few weeks ago and it was 98, our RE told us at that time it would probably be just 1, but then when my beta quadrupled in 2 days, we thought maybe they had both made it.  I was really rooting for both of them…but having found out the news today, honestly, I felt a HUGE sense of relief wash over me.  Twins would have been fun, but there also would have been a lot more risk involved to both them and me.  A single pregnancy is the best for baby and mom and I really am so thankful that though we put in 2 what was meant for us was one.  There is a small part of me that wonders about that other embryo…was it a chromosomal thing, did it just not find a good spot on my uterus, did my body just only allow one…who will ever know and I won’t dwell on it, but I am just so thankful to have 1 healthy, strong growing baby!  Thank you, God!!!  This is the greatest gift I could ever possibly dream of!

And…I get to officially graduate to my regular OB!  Yeah!  We are SOOO excited to have appointments closer to home and no more paying out of pocket for everything!  It’s the small things, right? : ) But, of course, we would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Thanks for all your support!  It means the world to me!

Ultrasound, ultrasound…what will you show?

Tomorrow I will be 7 weeks pregnant.  Today, in about 45 minutes, I will leave for my ultrasound appointment.  I have been anxiously anticipating this day for the past 3.5 weeks upon discovering that we were pregnant.  Since then I have had a few symptoms including frequent urination, sore breasts, acne (YUCK!), and one bout of nausea where I actually threw up.  Other than that and being tired there has been little to report and often my emotions play with me and I wonder if I could really be pregnant.  Luckily, according to the “What to Expect” book, I have learned that these are very normal feelings.

It is just so hard after all we have been through to get to this point, plus the overwhelming awareness of so many tragedies in our IF community and joy-filled pregnancy announcements quickly turning sour.  At moments I project these stories onto my own and assume the worst for myself.  I quickly try to shake myself from these thoughts.  I guess it is just hard to accept that my story is my story and it will be different than every other story.  The best thing I can do for myself is to keep the faith and stay positive.

It just always comes back to that for me.  Hope, Faith, TRUST!

Will keep you posted!

Thank you for all of your support!!!!