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'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.