Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On to a New Year...

I had my follow-up appointment with the doctor today and we were pleased to see my HCG levels at 34. Six and under is considered negative, so I should no longer be pregnant by the time we check next Tuesday. At that point, the true fun begins.

The doctor can't tell if this ectopic is part of a pattern or a fluke because it doesn't fit with my previous two pregnancy losses. Therefore, we will have to start doing some serious testing to figure out where we stand. She said we need to give my body a few weeks to "reset" before we check anything. Then, I guess it's game on.

Sounds like we will be looking at genetic issues, autoimmune issues, and now, due to a certain ectopic pregnancy, we will have to do some CT and MRI scans, among others, to determine if there is damage, scar tissue, etc. in the area.

In other words, we're starting down what sounds like a long and frustrating road. I'm trying to look on the bright side and believe that in the long run we will have some answers that will help us move forward and help us carry a pregnancy to term.

Happy New Year a bit early. I hope it's better than 2010 :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Good to be Home....

For a minute...then we're off again. But it's still nice to stop and pause.

Have lots and lots of tests tomorrow at the doctor's - will report more then.

In other news, Christmas was happy and sad, as I expected it would be. Surprisingly, the hardest part of the entire trip was Mass. I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising, but the homily was all about our children and birth and how we raise them and hold them and love them. That was pretty hard to sit through. The worst part was that we were on the side of the altar in the front row, so everyone could see me. I'm sure no one noticed, but I felt as though everyone was staring at me as I sniffled and cried my way through the service.

Other than that, things went pretty well. Katie, of course, made out like a bandit! Brian has spent all day today trying to figure out where to put things and how to make room. Her big gifts were her baby doll and kitchen - both from Santa. She's absolutely thrilled with them and having a ball. It was absolutely beautiful to watch her on Christmas morning - to see that pure joy and astonishment. I loved that. I think having Katie makes everything so much more doable.

Well, I'm exhausted for now, so I'm going to watch Snow White with Katie. Toodles. And thank you to those of you who thought of us during this difficult time and shared those thoughts with us. We really appreciated it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Had a terrible day today.

Needed a blood draw since it's been a week since I was released from the hospital and, likewise, my last one. When I got to the hospital and the outpatient lab, there were so many people there it was insane. You have to be admitted, register, and then go to the lab. It's a very long process.

In any case, I tried to make the best use of my time by calling to reschedule my doctor's appointment. I called the office and asked if I could move it from the 29th to the 28th and was asked what it was for. I said it was a follow-up visit and she cut me off and said, "Oh right - you delivered."


But when I said that, she explained that medically, I had delivered. After she asked how the baby was and if I was sleeping.

The same thing happened in registration and in the lab.

Perhaps we need some new terminology. Or perhaps we need to acknowledge the fact that not everyone who "delivers" actually got to take their baby home.

In any case, it sucked.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Silly, I know...

But I'm going to have a party for all of my babies on December 24th. I feel it's the only way to really appreciate, acknowledge, and move on. I've now lost three babies that would have been due in July, December, and July - respectively, but December 24th was my first real due date, so it's the one I'm going to celebrate.

I ask for nothing from you except your thoughts and prayers on that day. I just want to have a small cake and remember them. So, even though it's a busy day and a holiday, if you can take a moment to say a small prayer for us or to think of us, I would honestly appreciate it.

love you all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's been going on...

It's been a long few days, but hopefully the worst is all over. As you know, Monday wasn't looking good and the pain was becoming pretty unbearable. I had called Brian to let him know we were going to the ER when he got home (this was about two o'clock), but then I pre-empted that decision and went on my own. Needless to say, he was a bit pissed when he found out, but I'm glad I went in when I did since we were there for days. Literally.

When I checked in, they did a lot of the standard tests - blood quants, ultrasound, etc. Thankfully, I got some really good pain and nausea medicine. Then they started to scare me because they started pumping me full of IV fluids, adding wristbands to my arm, and prepping me for emergency surgery. Now, surgery in and of itself isn't necessarily bad, but the more "emergency" it is, the more likely it is that they'll take out things that don't need to come out.

After monitoring my condition for about six hours, I was admitted and sent upstairs so they could continue monitoring throughout the night. The plus was that I had my own pain pump that I could use every ten minutes. The down side was that I was rooming with an elderly woman who a) had a husband who had decided that his rightful position was to set up an "office" (no, I'm not kidding - he had a fax, computer, phone, etc) right in front of the only bathroom door and b) groaned, moaned, and screamed all night long. It was like a combination of snoring and moaning that I am going to call snoaming. Unbearable isn't the word for it. These were really loud moans and yells. Crazy.

When I got up in the morning, I was still in pain, but it seemed to be better. The doctor looked at all the sonograms and quants and had determined that surgery should be a last resort. She felt the fetus was now microscopic and that there was a good chance she would miss it if she did have to go in surgically, so we were going to try to avoid it. About an hour or so later; however, things went really badly really quickly. I started running a fever, hallucinating, shaking, I was about to vomit and I was crying with pain. We thought that might be it and that surgery was certainly on its way, but thankfully we rode it out and made it through. On top of all the regular pain, my sinuses have stepped up to add in to the joy and I had a massive migraine yesterday.

Thankfully, as I began last night dreading another evening of moaning and yelling, my nurse noticed my discomfort and found me a new room. I cannot thank the two nurses enough who moved me and all of my stuff at nine-thirty at night into my OWN private room. Not only was I free of my neighbor and all of her noises, but I could go to the bathroom whenever I wanted. It was fabulous.

This morning, things were definitely better. I was finally able to eat (I had been on a clear liquid diet since Monday), and I managed to keep down a pancake and some juice. After that and a shower, I was ready to hit the road, and my doctor agreed. So I came home and crashed.

I'm still a bit woozy and don't feel 100%, but the doctor thinks that the past couple of days were the worst of it. She believes almost everything has flushed from my system now and that we're in recovery. Obviously, I'm left out all the really bloody parts of this story because it's just gross, but we can safely saw that most of the fetus is gone. I'm very thankful that we didn't go through with a third dose of methotrexate yesterday (we were THIS close - I begged the doctor not to), and I'm hoping to be feeling good by tomorrow or Friday.

Thank you for the good thoughts and positive messages. I'm hoping there's a clear light at the end of the tunnel for us now :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Small Update

We may be looking at emergency surgery. We're still waiting for all the results to come back. If my CBC shows that I'm stable, then we'll take it from there, but if it's gone down then it means that the pregnancy has ruptured and it's a pretty serious situation.

Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts...I'll let you know as soon as I know.


I don't want to post much because there isn't a lot of happy stuff to say. I had my second two shots last week and they totally took me down. I was so lightheaded and dizzy (not to mention the nausea and pain that exist with the condition) that I couldn't function. Driving to work I felt like I was drugged and I could barely make it through the days. Brian even had to come pick me up on Friday. Of course, it was the last week of class, so canceling wasn't an option.

We did discover on Friday that my levels had finally dropped, but we don't know by how much. I went in this morning for another draw and hopefully it will show that they have dropped significantly. Still a lot of pain and blood and I would really like for this all to end. At this point, if they want to go in and cut something out, they're welcome to do so.

Will let you know when I know...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The News

Well, we had another sonogram today and they seem to think that the embryo is shrinking or collapsing on itself. They looked all around and there is still no rupture, so we're safe to continue with medication for the time being. I have to do more quant counts on Friday and Monday to see what happens, but we did a second dose of methotrexate today (another two shots). This time I was able to get some nausea medication and some stronger pain meds, so with any luck, I'll be able to make it through the week (thank GOD that this is the last week and I only have two days of finals next week).

Apparently, only about 1% of pregnancies are ectopic, and, of those, 90% respond immediately to methotrexate. So, I've not only been lucky enough to have an ectopic pregnancy, but I've also been lucky enough to fall in the group that doesn't respond quickly to medication. To make me feel better, the doctor told me that the most times she's had to give a dose is three times. Let's hope that two is the magic number for us.

So very very ready for this all to end...

Prayers, please!

My levels went up again. They shouldn't do that.

Another sonogram today. We have to decide how to proceed: more drugs or surgery.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I'm in a strange place right now. It's weird to say this, but I was actually more sad and upset before all of this happened. It's like I'm emotionally numb now or that I'm so worn out emotionally that I have nothing left to feel. Maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. Whatever the case, I'm doing ok right now which is both scary and comforting.

Some of it, I'm sure, is due to the fact that it's the last week of the semester. With all the papers coming in, finals coming up, and assessments to collect, it's too busy to really think about much. But then something will happen...like Katie...ever the precocious child, saying "Mommy, your tummy is big." Yes. Yes it is. But it won't be for long. And that takes me down a notch. Or when she asks for a brother baby or sister baby. That makes me sad because I want to tell her how hard we're trying to give her that...unfortunately, it's just not meant to be right now.

I'm honestly afraid that it's all going to hit me after the semester ends. I think that between my previous December 24th due date and this, I might have a hard crash coming. Thankfully, I'm back on my meds for depression, but I don't know how far that will take me. I did step down from my teaching chair assignment because we have a lot of big projects coming up, and my family and I need to be my focus right now.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. It makes me feel so loved when I log on and see those - it makes me feel less alone.

Friday, December 3, 2010

And so it goes...

Christmas is coming. I'm trying really hard to be ok, but I don't know how it will play out.

The good news - since I'm going to be undergoing tests for a few months, I'm back on my meds, so that should help.

The bad news - well, December 24 was still my due date. And with this most recent event, well...that sucks.

I've been really lucky because so far I haven't fully comprehended what's going on or this particular loss. I know that denial and postponing aren't great ways to go about life, but if it gets me through the holidays, I'm all for it. I'm a bit afraid of what will happen when this sinks in.

It's this weird situation: it's good to know what's going on. I don't want to go in that in-between land of "is it a miscarriage" or "what's wrong with this baby," but I know that at some point it will sink in. I honestly hope it doesn't for a while because I really don't know how I'll deal with that.

I focus a lot on Katie right now. She's absolutely amazing and the best thing I've ever done...but what if that's all I get? I never thought that would be my only pregnancy and my only child. I always thought I'd get another shot at it. Maybe Katie is the miracle baby and that's all we're going to have. I know it sounds silly to worry about something retroactively, but I always thought I'd have another baby to hold and love and feed and wake up in the middle of the night for.

I guess three children, like I wanted, might be a pipe dream. Two children might not happen. I worry that if I have another child that I will think of it as my "miracle" and Katie will suffer.

I'm sorry...there's just a lot that's going through my mind right now. I never imagined that this would be me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So, my doctor sorta forgot to mention that this would make me sick (thankfully, when I saw it was a cancer drug, I kinda assumed as much), but I am so dizzy, nauseous, and in pain that I can't see straight. Thankfully, she brought me back in today to make sure there was no internal bleeding and no rupture - not yet :)

Now I'm on medical leave from work until I'm re-evaluated on Monday. Fun stuff. I feel terrible since next week is the last week of the semester. What a nightmare time to have this happen! Hopefully my students can figure out email if they need it. For now, I'm curling up in bed with a heating pad and trying to get the world to stop spinning. Still have to do blood checks on Thursday and Sunday...I look like a pin cushion.

Enough moaning and complaining. Have a nice evening; I'm going to bed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Official Diagnosis

Ectopic pregnancy.

The blood draw today revealed that we had increased from 970 to 1200. Rising, but not enough. Sonogram reveals the pregnancy is in the left tube. I was given a cancer medicine - methotrexate or something - to "dissolve" the pregnancy. Hopefully, this will be successful so that I don't have to have anything surgically removed. Right now, we wait and hope this works. Blood draw on Thursday and Sunday to confirm that levels are decreasing. For the moment, we just hope for nothing that would send me to the ER, since that would probably send me to the OR as well. And I honestly can't afford to leave anything in the surgeon's office at this point.

Thanks for your good thoughts. At least we know.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Situation: So far...

So, it's been a long weekend with a lot of travel and very little good news to report. The best news, my new doctor is amazing. Thank God! She's been so on the ball and has helped so much this weekend - especially with it being a holiday weekend.

On Thursday, we went in for a new HCG quant and found that our levels had gone to 560. Since we were at 300 on Tuesday, a true double would have been 600. We weren't there, obviously, but it was close - too close to call. So, we had to come back to OSF in Bloomington on Saturday to get another level. In short, we left Brian's parents on Friday, drove to my parents, spent the night, got up early Saturday to drive to Bloomington for a blood test and then back to E'ville, and then drove back to Bloomington today.

Our quant on Saturday was 900. Definitely not a double. That's an indication that something is wrong, but it's still not clear what. A miscarriage will drop and an ectopic will eventually level off, so we're on to the next step. I have to do another quant tomorrow morning to see if it's done one of those. If it's still rising, then I don't know what's going on, but in the afternoon we'll do another sonogram to determine how to proceed from here. They're going to pay close attention to my tubes, obviously, and we'll determine if another surgery is necessary.

And so, I continue my tradition of ending each semester with a pregnancy mishap. Yee-haw. Hope everyone had a more restful Thanksgiving than we did.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After sobbing on the phone with my doctor, I decided I was done. This is too much for anyone, and I'm done.

I got on the phone and started calling doctors and found one that was not only willing to help me, but got me in this afternoon for a full exam. In addition, she gave me her pager number so I can find out tomorrow if the number goes up or down.

There are good people in this world and they don't always get the recognition they deserve. This doctor was an honest to goodness God-send to me; I know that God answered my prayers and that was confirmed when I saw that cross around her neck.

Thank you for your prayers. I know that helped.


We are able to get a level on Thursday, but I was informed that my doctor leaves for vacation at noon today and will not return to read the results until Tuesday.

I have begged them to find a doctor who can read it on Friday (when the offices are open), but have yet to hear back.

And here we go again...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Life is Unbelievable....

And I'm not kidding.

First of all, I had an AMAZING morning getting to see baby Grace born! I'm so thrilled that I have a friend who lets me be a part of that amazing experience. She came out singing and was just beyond beautiful - AND - she managed to be timely enough that I made it to class with three minutes to spare. Excellent work, Grace!!

Now, if I hadn't lived it, I wouldn't believe it.

I've had some pretty serious bleeding for the past fourteen days. It varies between spotting and bleeding, but today was accompanied with full out pain. After taking three pregnancy tests, they turned out positive. So, I headed back to the same hospital that told me I was negative and asked what the hell was going on.

In short, we don't know. I appear to be five weeks and six days along with an HCG count of 300; however, we don't know if that's going up or down. Again. So we begin the waiting game yet again. Thankfully, I can be tested on Thursday, but I don't think I'll get results before Friday or Monday...it's going to be a long, tense weekend. The cramping and bleeding are obviously not great signs, but we don't have anything definitive yet.

I'm going to just suggest that you log in when you want to see something more amazing than your daily soap opera. I'm emotionally numb at this point and just waiting. The bleeding and cramping scare me, but we'll see....

God - one of these days could you give me something definite? I'd be pretty happy with that ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking Steps

One of the things that I find most interesting about this whole aftermath is that pregnancy upsets me. It's very hard to see people who are pregnant or to hear about them. When my sister-in-law was pregnant this year, it was very hard to see her and be around her and I dreaded the day she gave birth. I didn't know how I would handle it - especially since she was due in July and I had just had so much trouble in May. The surprising thing was that the birth didn't bother me at all. I wasn't jealous and I wasn't upset. I was simply happy to meet my nephew.

Now, the same thing is happening again. My friend is going to be induced tonight and I'm so excited for her and for the baby that I can barely sit still. I have had a hard time being around her in the past few months and have avoided situations to keep myself from thinking about it. But now I can't wait. I want to meet her beautiful baby girl and hold her and kiss her.

Perhaps that's where my focus needs to be. Maybe I need to stop seeing pregnancy and start seeing families. I still hurt and I still am sad, but I'm very excited to meet the new baby. Send good thoughts her way tonight!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To you

I just want to say that I love you and I thank all of you who read this. Just listening to me and just allowing me a space to post makes my life so much better - just like having all of you in my life makes my life better.

There are two things that are really helping me right now. Knitting. Ok - I suck at it, but I can do a repetitive motion over and over and it brings me a sort of meditation. It's a very nice feeling when I'm in the zone and not thinking about anything.

Blogging. I hate that all of you hear my sadness and negativity, but it feels like a weight off of my shoulders when I post. It's just nice to have an outlet for everything. I know that a journal should work, but I feel like I'm doing something more productive here. Maybe I'm just making you drink more, but it's still better for me ;)

Thank you and I love you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life After Miscarriage

Is so weird because most of the world just ignores it. My family ignores it because, in their mind, I was never really pregnant. All the blood tests confused them and they just decided it wasn't true.

Another reaction, and one that was truly terrible, happened when I finally went in for my surgery on my foot. The nurses were asking me why I was still testing positive for pregnancy (I was still at a low HCG level) even though I had my OB/GYN send them a notice saying I had miscarried. So I had to explain it. And then again to another nurse. Then they hooked me up in bed to get my meds and IVs going. And I had to explain it to the anesthesiologist. Then, the nurses decided to lighten the mood by talking about the situation right outside my curtain - where their desk was. They were joking around and asking each other who wanted to take home the positive pregnancy test to freak out their boyfriend or husband. A curtain is not a wall. Often, the curtain was even open. Most of the nurses didn't know who had given the positive test and were openly laughing and joking about it in front of me. It was terrible.

Today at work, a co-worker stopped by my table to congratulate me. I asked the two people who knew (who, if you remember, were almost puked on) to keep it to themselves...which they did not. She asked when I was due and I was sitting at a table full of people. What do you do? I smiled slightly and said "July" because I honestly hope that sometime this summer we may have a baby. And then she left and some of the others left and a co-worker started teasing me about Katie having a sibling and I told him I lost it. Hopefully that will make the rounds as quickly. And of course he was upset that he said anything, so I told him it was ok and that it was fine. I know I shouldn't have to make other people better, but I don't want to be the downer that no one wants to sit with because she told people she was pregnant too soon and now just wants attention.

Other great moments involve buying ovulation predictors and/or pregnancy tests. The cashiers always feel the need to comment on my purchases - "Oh - hoping you have a bun in the oven?" "Wow! I wish I needed an ovulation test - I just look at my husband and get pregnant." "Trying to get pregnant? I'll give you one of mine." Yeah...thanks. That helps a lot.

So, what should we do? Well, this article says it best:

Are you at a loss when it comes to knowing what to say or do to help a woman who has miscarried? Often, we don't know what to say or do and opt for either saying, or doing, nothing. To make matters worse, we make the mistake of dismissing her grief. I'm here to help you by offering a few simple support tips if you find yourself with a friend or loved one who has miscarried.

1. Don't say:
* You're young, you can always have another.
* It was meant to be, or It was God's will.
* At least you have other children.
* Miscarriages are common.
* Ignore it and say nothing at all.
* Why don't you just get over it and move on?
* At least you weren't that far along.
* There must have been something wrong with the baby.
* You can always try again.

2. Do Say: There are six simple words for you to say to a woman who has miscarried, and they accomplish several things.
* They acknowledge her grief and loss.
* They show compassion, sympathy and understanding.
* They make her feel less alone and not crazy for feeling like her world's been ripped out from under her.

Those words are: I AM SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.

By simply saying you're sorry for her loss, you are comforting a woman who has miscarried. That's what she needs to hear. You're letting her know her pain is real and she has every right to feel, grieve, cry and heal. A miscarriage should be viewed just like the loss of a loved one. A miscarriage IS the loss of a loved one.

Ellen DuBois is the Author of
I Never Held You: A book about miscarriage, healing and recovery.

Again...more than anything, I hope that I can help other people with this. It's a problem we ignore until we know someone who brings it up - and chances are that we know SO MANY people who have had this experience but don't know how to say it or bring it up. I hope they can find peace as well.

Baby #1

Was a surprise. This baby came at a point where Brian and I were really in need of something to bring us together, and, to us, that was exactly what this baby was.

I was supposed to be going in to an outpatient center to have surgery on my foot, and when I went in they did a routine pregnancy test. Or two. When they called me back and told me, I had to sit down - I was so surprised. I was thrilled. They brought Brian back and I told him and then they gave us the tests and congratulated us. Obviously, I wouldn't be having surgery that day.

It was a total shock but we were beyond thrilled. Having Katie made us want so many more children and now we were on our way. I called my doctor to make an appointment and we set up a blood draw so we could see what was going on. At that point, I wasn't consciously trying, so I wasn't sure how far along I was.

We went in that day for the blood draw. Little did I know that I was about to begin one of the longest and most painful experiences of my life. We knew that we would give blood that day, a Tuesday, and again on Thursday to see if the levels doubled. If so, then everything was progressing. Well, I didn't get a call with my levels on Tuesday because it was afternoon by the time I went in. Oh well. When they called on Wednesday, they told me I was at 68, which meant I was either early on in my pregnancy or that I was about to miscarry.

I didn't know how to process that information. How do I go from a positive test to: we don't know if you are or not. I knew that it would be hellish to wait for those tests to come back, but I tried my best to put it in God's hands and wait.

On Thursday, I knew I could wait no longer. The lab opened at 7am, so I was in the door at 6:50 ready for that blood draw. I needed it to go in early so I could get some results that day. I even explained the situation to the person drawing blood and she put a rush order on it. And I waited. The pickup was at 10am and at 5pm. I knew I had made the 10am order, so I expected (and was told) I would hear something. I called at 3 - nothing. I called at 4:30 - nothing. The office closed.

I called first thing Friday morning and was told I had to come back in because they had "misplaced the sample." I was there as soon as possible and told them I had to know - they couldn't keep me waiting all weekend. Well, it didn't make the 10am pickup, and by the time the next pickup came it was too late to find out that day.

That weekend, we went to visit my family since it was Halloween weekend. I had to try to explain to my parents that I was "sort of" pregnant, which, of course, they didn't understand. When they were pregnant, you waited a few months and then found out for sure - there was none of this blood testing stuff. I didn't do this with Katie either. We were just pregnant. No problems. So, they didn't know what to do or say and it was a very stressful weekend of waiting.

I called first thing on Monday morning and was told I would hear from the nurse when she had the results. Then, I started calling hourly. At 3pm, I was nearly hysterical. I had now waited almost a week to find out if my baby was alive and no one would or could tell me. I called Brian and forced him to call and find out. They told him that the nurse had not come in that day and that no one else was able to release those results to me.

I lost it. I literally fell apart. They had the results and "couldn't" tell me. I didn't know what was going on and I felt like I was about to have a breakdown. It was excruciating and so painful.

The next day I called first thing in the morning and found that the results had increased to 80. Not doubling. No viable pregnancy at that point. I now had to go in every other day for a blood draw to make sure the miscarriage actually occurred. Three weeks later I still had a level of 75 and I was in severe pain. I had been to the ER and told I was miscarrying, thankfully they gave me medication; however, my levels just weren't dropping. The baby was trying to grow and couldn't.

After three months of twice a week blood draws, my levels finally returned to "normal" and I had officially miscarried. I guess I was supposed to feel better, but I didn't. The doctor said that since it was a surprise, we should just wait and see what happens in the future.

Well, the future held Baby #2 and 2 chemical pregnancies. This past Friday when we learned it was non-viable, I had a breakdown. It hurts like nothing I could imagine. I honestly don't know if I can try again. I don't know that I can go through that pain again.

Damn, this blog is a downer...but it really helps me to put it out there. Thank you for listening and for all of your kind words.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A prayer

God give me strength this week:

* As I enjoy the holidays with my family, but think about the member(s) of my family that are not there.

* As I learn of three more people who are pregnant. Who I want to be happy for, but cry when I see them.

* As I wait anxiously to meet my friend's new baby girl, and silently pray for my own.

* As I prepare to see the onslaught of new baby postings online and on facebook of people who were due the same time I was.

* As December 24th approaches and I wish for nothing more than my precious child.

God give me strength, serenity, and love.

God, we are weary and grieved. We were anticipating the birth of a child, but the promise of life was ended too soon. Our arms yearned to cradle new life, our mouths to sing soft lullabies. Our hearts ache from the emptiness and the silence. We are saddened and we are angry. We weep and we mourn. Weep with us, God, Creator of Life, for the life that could not be.

Source of healing, help us to find healing among those who care for us and those for whom we care. Shelter us under wings of love and help us to stand up again for life even as we mourn our loss.

--Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, from Lifecycles: Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones

My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me
I cannot see the colours He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow and I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper and I the underside.

Not till the looms are silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skilful hands
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

Written by Jane Parkinson

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baby #2

I'm going to start with Baby #2 because it was more recent and the one that hurts the most. We were really trying to get pregnant because we really wanted another child. I know a lot of people who have one child and feel like that's enough. In fact, at my follow-up visit right after the delivery, the doctor asked me if I'd be having more children - her version of a joke since you're sleep deprived and recovering from surgery. My honest answer was, "yes." Ever since we Katie arrived, I knew I wanted more. I loved her so much that I knew I wanted to have other children to share that love with.

We didn't have a lot of trouble conceiving Katie. It was a very stressful time in my life - finishing up my PhD, getting a new job, etc., but once we really tried, we were lucky. This time, it didn't work out so well. By the time we were pregnant with Baby #2, I was ecstatic - having already lost one earlier in the year. But it was not looking good from the start.

When I first went in and had my HCG levels tested, I was at 36. This was now five weeks after my last "period;" however, I had had a pretty significant period only the week before. The positive was a surprise since we were pretty sure that I had just had a period. Getting our counts back told us that we were either very very early in the pregnancy or that we were going to have problems. The told me to get ready for a miscarriage (simply based on dates and history).

I was a mess. I called my mom, who helped talk me down. Then I went home to wait. We did the second blood test a day later (48 hours in between to see if the levels doubled). Well, they did - to 70. That's not quite doubling, but it was growing - a good sign.

I went to visit my family that weekend and started spotting on Saturday. We told ourselves it was nothing. The spotting continued and then became heavy. On Sunday morning, as we were preparing to leave my parents' house, we called the nurse who sent us to the local ER. We spent a very long and painful day there as they did all kinds of tests to see what they could. The absolute worst was that they had to use a catheter to fill my bladder so they could see anything - this was all done without any kind of pain killer or anesthetic and was excruciating. That took about two hours and was horrible. After several hours of useless blood tests and sonograms, we found that they couldn't see anything (you can't really until you're at about 2000), but that the cervix was closed and my level had gone up to 110. Again - still not doubling, but growing.

Back at the doctor the next day, we found that it could be any one of the following: a cystic pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, a normal pregnancy with spotting, or a pregnancy about to miscarry. They didn't know what. At this point, I had spent three weeks going to doctors and ER's to determine what the incredible pain was I was having. I started having pain in my lower abdomen and back; during this time, they did numerous pregnancy tests which always came back with an HCG of less than 5 - no chance of pregnancy. Therefore, I was on painkillers and lots of antibiotics. I was diagnosed with everything from kidney stones (not on the CT or sonogram) to Pelvic Inflammatory disease caused by an STD (tests for which came back negative). At the doctor to determine if I had cysts on my ovaries - another possible culprit - I was told to take a pregnancy test (that I knew would come back negative because it had as recently as a day ago) before treatment...this is the one that surprisingly came up positive.

The pain had become so excruciating that I simply couldn't handle it. I could barely stand upright. I couldn't take anything because I was pregnant, but I was still spotting.

Our next HCG went up to 115 and we were told it was over. The pregnancy was no longer viable and not growing. It was over. And I was still in pain.

It went down, but just barely. Over the next set of tests, it went down to 111, 110, and 108 - too slow to miscarry. At this point, the doctors became concerned it was an ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy) which can be fatal, so I was scheduled for immediate surgery.

In the surgery, they removed all they could and concluded that the embryo either left the tubes or that they were able to remove it (based on their post-op findings). In any case, it stopped the pain, which was good, but was a horrible experience. We were asked if we would like to keep the "fetal waste" after the operation. The what???? They suggested we not try to keep anything (since we were only about 11 weeks along at this point) and that we let the hospital do the disposal. In my foggy state, I agreed. And yes, that was probably best.

The worst part is that in one month I had spent almost every day getting blood drawn. I was in the ER four times. I was in surgery for a day. I was in the doctor's office six times. No one at work, except my boss, knew. I was miserable, tired, and not myself and no one noticed. I'm the drama queen who blows everything out of proportion, so of course I wasn't going to bring it up.

And now it happens again. As I've rushed out of classes to be sick, gotten ill in my office, and generally been foggy minded and forgetful, I've had to tell a couple of people. How do I walk in and say - 'sorry - wrong again."? When I was having a lot of trouble last fall in my relationship and with losing the baby, my office mate actually told me that she dreaded coming to work because she couldn't deal with hearing about my problems. It was at that point that I realized I couldn't share at all. Which, I guess, is what leads me here to cyberspace.

But how do you function in daily life if you have to keep everything you are inside you? How do you smile and joke and laugh and hear about everyone else's lives and problems yet know you can't share your own? This is something I"m really struggling with.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And so...

After much trying and anxious waiting, we finally found ourselves with a positive. I had been sick, nauseous, and dizzy for at least a week and we knew these were all good signs...until today.

It was a false positive. Yes; we had it confirmed by a doctor. We had a chemical pregnancy where it started and didn't develop. In case you're counting, that's now two of those in a year. Crushed isn't even the right word for how we are feeling right now.

Will try to write later.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Stone

So - a bit of background just to catch you up.

I was raised in a VERY Catholic family. Primarily guilt Catholic - you always go to Church because you have to - but we went to Catholic school and participated in the Sacraments and were very active when we were younger. However, I found myself drifting away in college. I think I was a very typical college student who was self-centered and focused only on my own enjoyment and life. However, when I got to graduate school, so many of my courses opened me to questioning really fundamental and foundational beliefs and that's made faith more difficult.

No, let me change that. I have a lot of faith. I'm a very spiritual person. I have issues with "religion." Religion troubles me and I haven't found that space for myself yet. I pray; I read the Bible; I say the Rosary; I fully believe in Jesus and God - I just can't, in good conscience, say that I'm a Catholic - or any religion.

Well, I spend a lot of time in the car (it's a forty minute drive to East Peoria) and so I listen to a LOT of audio books. Sometimes I listen to something I've already read - as I've been doing this week. I like to do this to hear things I skimmed or missed while reading, or just because it was a book I really enjoyed.

This week I've been listening to A.J. Jacob's "The Year of Living Biblically" which I really enjoy. In particular, on Monday he was discussing his trip to Israel and walking with a shepherd. He talked about the peacefulness of the work and the tradition behind it and the long line of shepherding references in Biblical works. Then, he talks about herding the sheep - that they are skittish and can easily get off course. In order to bring them back into the flock, the shepherd throws a stone near the wandering sheep and they return to the flock. This is a technique that has been used as far back as David.

And then I thought...have many of these events been my stone? I know that we always seek meaning in our lives to give sense to what often seems senseless, but - perhaps these things have happened to move me or return me. Perhaps this sadness and tragedy was simply the stone thrown near me to bring me back and prepare me for something else.

I know...unnaturally deep, but it's been on my mind all week.

Friday, October 22, 2010


And I know a lot of what is bothering me.

I can tell now that there are a lot of things that are all coming together and weighing me down. That's one huge problem. I need to separate them and learn how to deal with each of them individually - rather than taking them as one large problem.

Problem One: I'm terrified. We're going to start trying again very soon and I'm absolutely terrified. I honestly don't know how I will handle another miscarriage or another ectopic. What will I do if that happens? Will I be able to mentally handle another one? I'm not sure. It's taken such a toll that it's really scary to think about.

Problem Two: What if it works? The last three times, clearly there has been something very wrong. A genetic abnormality; an ectopic pregnancy, an unknown miscarriage. We only know so much. What if I am just pushing my luck? What if I am just supposed to be happy with the beautiful little girl I have and not try for more? If I have another child and there's a serious disability, then my daughter will suffer from a lack of attention - that's just a simple fact. Any child that has any different ability needs more attention. Am I just being unfair and should I just settle with what I have?

Problem Three: It bothers me that I can't speak openly about this. I missed a TON of work last year due to the surgery and miscarriages...yet no one except my boss knows. How do you bring that up in conversation? When we went to a conference a couple weeks ago, people asked about the new tattoo I have on my wrist of double hearts. Of course, I put it in an obvious place because I wanted to be reminded daily of it. And I don't mind explaining it, but we were all sitting at dinner. How can I say, "Oh yes - I got it because we lost two babies last year?" How is that fair to anyone else? So I have to be elusive when others ask if there is a meaning and just say "yes." Unfortunately, I want to explain the whole story, but I'm afraid of laying it all on someone. It was really DAMN hard to go to work every single day and pretend like everything was ok. Like I didn't have surgery the day before or like I hadn't been in the ER four times in one month. I couldn't talk to anyone and it was the most difficult time of my life...and the loneliest.

Problem Four: Comes from problem three. I care about people. I want to be liked. I have recognized everyone at work and in my life for whatever they have going on - whether it's a birthday or award or promotion or whatever. I always get someone a card or a present because I feel like it's the nice thing to do. And then my birthday came and there was no reciprocation. Don't get me wrong - I don't do these things expecting anything in return. But I do hope that something might come back to me. I hope that someone will acknowledge. And yes - those of you reading this did acknowledge and I love you for it. Thank you. I think I'm speaking primarily of people I work with...perhaps I need to just create more of an identity away from work and make sure they don't have this much control over my own feelings and self-esteem.

In any case, I just kept hoping for a happy birthday email from people I work with. It never came. I thought they were confused and it would come today. It didn't. I'm sad. In the past month, I've recognized three of theirs - and they've referenced mine. A simple email would have made my day, but apparently I'm not that far on the radar. It makes me sad.

I have to focus on what I have. I have wonderful friends who, unfortunately, live far away. I wish I could bring you all here and keep you here. I have a beautiful family that I adore. I need to focus on the positives...sometimes it's just hard.

love you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I find it funny that these thoughts are almost always on my mind. I've been obsessed with thoughts and ideas before, but never like this. Something Marcy said really resonated with me: we don't know what to say. We don't know how to feel. In fact, isn't that what's true for any situation? Who's to say how we should react or feel.

I think often about friends I know who have lost children - babies and children - and I think about how my own grief must seem. While I have no honest memories of that person, those people live every day knowing what they lost and what that life brought to their own lives. But I don't know what to say to them either. I'm beginning to think that maybe that's the biggest problem here - it's not that I'm grieving, but it is that there are so many of us and that there are so many people with so many problems that they can't talk about. When you see someone going through something terrible, you feel like your problem can't even come close to comparing or to measuring up - why would you bother someone who has a bigger problem than you do.

But they don't. I know that I need to stop measuring problems. My pain isn't any less real and my experience isn't less than someone else's. It's different. My experience isn't the same and my memories aren't the same. One of the things that always amazes me is how many people will sympathize or come clean about their own problems or a similar problem once one person does. Why do we feel the need to be alone in our thoughts and our grief? Any load that is shared is lighter on many shoulders; I guess that just means that I shouldn't be afraid to talk about it or to help someone else. But I am. What if they think I'm a downer or what if I make them uncomfortable?

Is that why I'm turning to a blog? So I can say the things that I need to say without fear of rejection or discomfort? So I don't have to look you in the face and see the confusion or sympathy or whatever other emotion might be there? I'll admit that I've never been very comfortable with people. Period. I've always felt a bit on the outside and that I didn't belong. Part of that was my own mind and part of that was just my own introverted tendencies. I think of one of the people I work with and how she always wants to talk face to face or over the phone and how uncomfortable that makes me. I think about how I send an email and then I sit and fret for hours about how it will be perceived or what will return. There's an instant gratification to a blog that seems to be similar to those personal conversations - except that it seems I am removing a great deal of the risk.

What hurts the most is that I have several friends who are due in the near future and several who have recently had babies. One of my friends was very close to me and I can't even bring myself to contact her now because she's due two weeks before I would have been. I can't see that and I can't handle it. It brings out a full panic attack when I think about it. But I'm a friend and I should be there for her. I shouldn't let my own thoughts and feelings stand between us so that I miss out on this time with her. It's something I'm really struggling with. I see so many women everywhere who are pregnant or with their baby and I really really just wish it were me.

My due date was December 24. That was the ectopic pregnancy. There's been one since then, but that's the one that's really sticking with me. I think that's why it's all building up right now - I see it coming and I'm thinking more and more about it. I should be in my last trimester. I should be getting ready. Every time Katie pats my belly and asks where the baby is, I cry. She doesn't mean anything. I don't think she even knows there was a baby - she just wants one.

I need to find a way to live and grieve and I haven't found it yet. Honestly, though, I think this may help. I feel a bit better now.

With love.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I feel silly.

When I started blogging, there were only a few of us. We did it because it was a way to log our journeys and to share our lives with people who were interested. Now it seems as though literally everyone has a blog. So what's my point? What can I add? Where do I fit in or why do I matter?

Short answer: I don't. There's no reason to read this over anyone else's thoughts. We're living in a narcissistic society that believes that everyone wants to read about all of our thoughts and movements throughout each day we live. I don't think that. In fact, I'm pretty sure my life is insignificant enough that few would be interested in such minutiae. But I am sure that I have experienced some of life's gifts and that I'm not alone. I'm not alone, I'm not significant, but at the same time, I'm as alone and as lost as anyone who experiences any of this.

I've thought for a while about whether or not to even start this - to even open this can of worms. I've decided that this isn't for you - this is for me. If you find me and you follow me and you want to be involved, thank you. I love you for it. But you aren't my audience. I don't even know if I'm my audience. Is God my audience? Is it my babies? I'm not sure. I just know that there is no such thing as permanence, but I'm going to try.

In the past year, I've had at least two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. I do have one living child that I adore more than life itself. I've decided that I don't want to go into the details right now. Each of those stories deserves its own space and its own time. Now is not the time. What it is the time for is grief and life. How do you grieve for a life that never was? I don't have a body or a grave or a monument that I can visit or that I can point to. There is no where that I can visit that will grant me any sense of peace or serenity. In fact, once I stop telling my story, there will be nothing other than a piece of paper in a medical record that will ever acknowledge that these babies ever existed.

Perhaps that's what pains me more than any other aspect of this experience. When I die, there will be something. A memorial - a gravestone - scattered ashes - memories - something. There is no one to remember my children. No one who held them or loved them like I did. There is no one who will ever know what was lost or what I felt when they were gone. They were medical waste - a procedure. Something that had to be completed and then done.

What else is there to say? I don't know...not today. Perhaps not tomorrow. But they will live on - I'm going to ensure that.