Thursday, June 30, 2016

I know you don't mean that.

"At least you already have one child." 

"You should be grateful for the child you do have." 

"Everything will work out the way it is supposed to." 

Let me give a little advice. Don't say these things to someone dealing with pregnancy loss and/or infertility after having a successful pregnancy. EVER. 

It's offensive. And rude. 

Ok. Let me back down just a little bit and explain. 

I am a rational, understanding person. I know you do not really know what to say. I know you have only the best intentions. But, those things are not the right things to say. 

I am grateful every single day of my life for my son. He is amazing and perfect and sweet and I could not be more honored to be his Mom. And after going through what we have been through in the last four years I know exactly how lucky we are to have him. I will never take for granted the fact that I get to be his Mom. After all we have experienced, I will always hug him a little tighter. 

However, for my ENTIRE life I have dreamed of a little family that was made up of me, my husband and our two kids. And as I get older, my dream of having two kids gets stronger while at the same time seems like it is being torn away.  

Struggling to achieve that dream or worse, having to face the fact that I may never be able to achieve that dream, is heartbreaking. 

It doesn't make me selfish. It doesn't make me greedy. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have more than one child. It doesn't make me love my son any less. 

So yes, I want to have two children. Yes, I already have one amazing one. Yes, I am absolutely grateful for him. Yes, I know how lucky I am to have him. No, I don't need you to tell me how grateful I should be. No, I don't need you to judge me for wanting to have another baby when I already have one. And no, I really don't care what you think. 

And while I will not show you, your words are painful. They are a reminder of what I deal with every day. They can change my mood in an instant. And sometimes they can ruin my day. They may make me cry, later, for what my husband will see as tears for no apparent reason. But he knows why they come. 

But I forgive you because I know you were not trying to hurt me. But only searching for a way to help. 

So what should you say? 

Ask me how I am. 

Ask me about our experience. I will tell you my story if you ask. And for me, sharing my story helps. 

Just be there. Some days are really hard and I just need someone to be there and distract me from all of this. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Fourth Time.....Part 2

I just remember flashes of things for the first 12 hours after surgery. A moment in the recovery room. Being aware my husband was there with me. My sister was there with me. Dr. D was there. I remember thinking it was weird that he was there, I don't usually see him after surgery. Nurses were checking on me. Then I was in a hospital room. My in-laws were there. The TV was on. I had a catheter. I had an abdominal binder on. I did not want to move. Everything from my rib cage to my hips hurt. I just wanted to sleep. 

I remember the night. Someone came in every hour to take my vitals. My husband was there. He had the nurse bring me ice packs for my incision. Any time I moved he was right there to make sure I was ok. I had a button in my hand and when it was green I could push it and I would just drift back to sleep. 

Early the next morning I remember more. My husband had to leave early to go home and check on our dogs, pick up some things for both of us as I was going to be in the hospital for a few days and he was staying with me, and go to his post-op appointment (he had wrist surgery about 10 days before this). It snowed overnight. I was awake for longer periods of time. I was anxious for my doctors to come in. The nurse took my catheter out and I was not happy about it. That meant I would have to get up soon. I texted with my sister and a couple of close friends who knew what had happened. 

I do not remember the exact moment when I found out what happened to me. As hard as I try, I just cannot remember. I do remember always knowing what happened. When I was more aware on Monday morning there was never a moment of panic when I didn't know what happened. 

So what did happen? 

During surgery two amazing doctors, Dr. D and Dr. W (the GYN surgeon Dr. D called in) put me back together. I was bleeding internally, but it was a challenge to determine from where. Everything really looked fine. They then discovered a small hole in my uterus. On the right side, underneath. Our baby was in a very wrong place and caused my uterus to tear. They delivered our baby, repaired my torn uterus and made sure everything else was stable. It took three hours. 

I lost a lot of blood. 

And our baby. 

I had a blood transfusion. I spent four nights in the hospital. I swelled up so much I weighed 15 pounds more when I left the hospital than I did when I went in (and let me tell you, it is not fun to lose 15lbs of water weight in approximately 36 hours after I got home! I made 15 trips to the bathroom the first night I was home.) I had 45 staples that closed a 9 inch vertical incision that started at my navel. 

I scared everyone. Myself, my husband, my parents and siblings, my friends and co-workers, my doctors. 

I was grateful to be alive. I was grateful I didn't try to wait out the pain at home any longer than I did. I was grateful for Dr. D who somehow knew what was going on before he even saw me and set all the wheels into motion so quickly and saved me. 

My recovery was long and short all at the same time. It took me 8 weeks to feel physically normal again. But I did fully recover. I took five weeks off of work. I battled with sore everything. Weakness and fatigue like I had never experienced before. Let me tell you, blood loss is no joke. 

Emotionally, I am not sure I have recovered fully, or that I ever will. I'm writing this 16 months after my surgery. 

The emotion of losing our baby and being in a life-threatening situation took about a week to hit me and I know exactly when it did. 

I was released from the hospital on a Thursday. On the following Monday my husband took me to Dr. D's office to have my staples removed. My appointment was good. Dr. D took all of my staples out. We talked about my surgery and how I was doing. We talked about totally random other things. He gave me a copy of the op report of my surgery. When we left my mom met us in the lobby and we talked for a few minutes. My husband went to get the car so he could take me home and then go back to work. As I stood there with my mom, waiting for my husband to pick me up, the tears came. Right there in the lobby of the medical building in the hospital. And I couldn't stop them. I cried and cried. I cried more on the way home. I got home and read my op report and cried some more. I cried until I don't think I could have cried any more. 

This wasn't fair. How had this happened?? How had we lost a fourth baby, and in this terrible and scary way??? What did we do to deserve this??? 

These questions follow me. As I move further and further away from the trauma of my surgery and our four pregnancy losses these questions still linger, but I do not let them control my life or my emotions. I have spent hours and hours with a wonderful women's health counselor who has provided me with the tools to not let this take over or consume me.

This has not been easy and has definitely been the hardest fight of my and my husband's lives. But we are still standing, we are still working toward trying to have another baby. And we have learned so much about love, life, and ourselves. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Fourth Time

After our third loss, my husband and I did some soul searching. We lost three babies. Were we meant to have another? Was it time to give up on this dream of having two children? Every fiber of my being said it wasn't. We needed some time to heal, but giving up wasn't an option. 

We took several months to heal and focus on ourselves and our son. We definitely needed the time. I was an emotional disaster. But after a few months I was ready to refocus. I needed to get past all of this and to me the only way to do that was quite simply to have a baby (which clearly is not that simple!). 

After about six months we headed back to Dr. D's office and started fertility treatments again. It took a few months, but right before Christmas of 2014 I discovered I was pregnant again. We were very happy and cautiously optimistic. 

A couple of days later, on my birthday, I sat in Dr. D's office. I was 5 weeks pregnant and trying very hard to not be terrified. All seemed well. I walked out with a prescription for progesterone injections (ouch!!) and Lovenox. We were going to do everything we could to stay pregnant. My husband and I were determined. 

Just over a week later I had an ultrasound and all was well. The baby seemed positioned a little high on the right side of my uterus, but no one was worried. At a repeat ultrasound two weeks later the baby was well positioned in my cozy uterus and all was going exceptionally well. I couldn't sit down from the soreness on my bum from the progesterone injections and my abdomen felt like a pin cushion from the Lovenox, but none of that mattered. I was pregnant and all was going well. 

At my 10 week appointment Dr. D said he wanted to see me four weeks later. I remember feeling panicked. That would be at 14 weeks. I was headed into what was the scariest part of my pregnancy, where I had lost two of the last three. I really did not want to wait 4 weeks. But he was right, all was well. There was no reason to come in sooner. And he was just a phone call away if I needed anything. So I made an appointment for March 2,  2015 when I would be 14 weeks. 

I didn't make it. 

The morning of February 15, 2015 was as ordinary of a Sunday morning as it could have been. Our son was at my Mom's house. My husband and I enjoyed date night the night before and were spending a quiet Sunday morning just laying in bed. My husband was headed to work later that morning to try to catch up on some things and I was going to spend some time catching up at home. 

I felt great. I woke up with some energy. The nausea was starting to fade. I was 12 weeks and two days. 

Then about 8:30 I started to feel this pain in my right shoulder. It was odd, but familiar pain. I had felt something similar before after my appendix was removed, gas pain from laparoscopic surgery. But I clearly had not had surgery. Then it started to spread. It moved across the back of my shoulders and down into my upper abdominal area, just below my rib cage. And it hurt. Bad. 

My husband was right next to me and helped me shift to try to get comfortable. Propped up on pillows I started to take inventory of my body. What hurt? It felt like everything from my navel, up. What didn't hurt, my pelvis. Good. Hopefully that meant the baby was ok. That was comforting. But I was still freaking out. What the hell was this pain???? 

I tried to give it a little time to settle. The pain I had like this before was gas pain. I tried to get it to settle, shift. No good. That kind of made it worse. 

I decided just to rest for a little bit and see what happened. I called my mom and she agreed. Give it a little bit of time to see if I changes, gets worse, anything. The only symptom I had was pain. No nausea. No shortness of breath. Nothing. Just pain. 

Just before 10am I had enough. It was not getting any better, if anything it was getting a little worse and I knew I couldn't just lay there forever. I called Dr. D's exchange. He was on call for the weekend (seriously.....he is always on call when I need him!) and would call me back within 30 minutes. 


It was right at 30 minutes later when he called me. I told him what was going on and we decided a trip to the ER was the best. He didn't really have an idea what could be going on, but we needed to find out and to make sure the baby was ok. 

So, I worked to get ready to go. My husband has to help me with everything because the pain was horrible. I could not bend over, I could barely walk. Everything hurt. 

Five minutes later, Dr. D called back again. What???? My husband answered my phone as I was getting dressed. Dr. D had gone up to his office to look at my ultrasound images again. Remember when we said the baby was really high and right at my first ultrasound but then was better at my second? He was concerned something was very wrong and we needed to get there ASAP. He would meet us at the ER. Luckily I was so focused on trying to get ready to go I really couldn't panic. 

Then we were out of the door. My husband literally loaded me into the car. It was freezing cold outside and he covered me in blankets and my coat and fastened my seatbelt over all of it. I needed to stay warm because shivering made my pain worse. 

It was a quiet drive to the hospital. We were in the car for 20 minutes. I was grateful it was Sunday morning and there were virtually no cars on the road. When we got off of the highway I called Dr. D's cell phone. He wanted to know we were there. As soon as he answered he started talking. He believed I had ruptured, I was bleeding internally, he called in a second surgeon who was on his way, they were booking the OR, he would be right there. I heard all of it and none of it sunk in. Just as we were turning into the circle drive in front of the ER I hung up the phone, turned to my husband and told him what I had just heard. Ok. I got out of the car and walked into the ER. (Yes, under my own power, I walked into the ER). 

At the desk I told them my name and that Dr. D told me to come in. As soon as I said Dr. D, the nurse at the desk ordered the guy next to her to grab a wheelchair that was behind me. Two seconds later I was being run down the hall and my husband was sprinting to catch up. 

We turned into a room and there were six people inside waiting for me. Two techs, two nurses, the ER doc, and someone to document. Four seconds later they had me changed into a hospital gown, laying down on the bed, EKG started and IV's going into both of my arms. My blood pressure was shockingly not that high considering how freaked out I was. 

The ER Doctor started asking questions and my husband and I answered them. A few minutes in, the door to the room opened and I could hear Dr. D's voice. I immediately felt calmer. He was there and was going to figure out what was going on. 

Dr. D sat on the bed next to me. He talked to the ER Doctor. He scanned me -  the baby looked good - 12 week size, moving around. He poked at my painful belly. He looked at me and said we had to go to the OR. He didn't know what exactly was happening, but I was bleeding internally and it had to be stopped. 

So off we went. Within an hour I was headed into what would be a three hour surgery.