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Friday, July 27, 2012

"Rainbow Baby"

I just read the most amazing quote that I wanted to seems to really be appropriate for me today for two reasons.  First, we met with a high risk doctor in the maternal fetal department at U of M today who gave us a lot of hope for this pregnancy.  Second, on our way home from said appointment today the sky turned dark blue/green and it started pouring and hailing (I even have some hail damage to my car).

"A "Rainbow Baby" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm after you have experienced the loss of a child, stillbirth or miscarriage. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope. It is a term about the baby one has after the baby that dies. No matter the storm, when you trust God, there is always a rainbow waiting."

Anyway, our doctor appointment went well today.  The doctor said that he believes that all of Bristols problems were interconnected....basically that her fate was predetermined from basically 5 or 6 weeks of pregnancy.  The doctor wants us to have the first trimester screening on August 15th, another ultrasound around 14 weeks, another one around 17/18 weeks, and then another one around 20 weeks. He said by that point we will have a good idea how healthy the baby is growing. Today is 9 weeks 1 day, so hopefully in 10 weeks 6 days we can breathe a small sigh of relief.  I love this baby so much, but im not gonna feel 100% comfortable until he/she is safely in my arms!!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Graduation Day

“Congratulations! Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!You're off and away!” 

I thought graduation days were supposed to come with a renewed sense of pride or happiness.  You are starting on a new journey in your life, one that should be filled with excitement.  Well, today we "graduated" from the reproductive endocrinologist to the high risk OB department of U of M hospital.  Well I am happy about making it this far, and I am grateful for every moment I have with this baby, I am in no way going to kid myself that we are "safe" yet.  No, I think I lost that "innocence" if you will on January 19th of this year when the NP came in to the room and told us at 21 weeks that there was something wrong with our baby.  And I lost that innocence again at 26 weeks when we were told our baby no longer had a heart beat.  

My heart smiled today though, when at our ultrasound, we saw our baby and its arms and legs moving.  It was moving around in there and almost looked like it was waving to us.  Some how its only the size of an olive but it has arms and legs and the ability to move.  It has a heart rate of 163bpm.  The dr kept calling "it" a him today, though she did say that its too early to tell.  I have a feeling, that this baby is a boy.  

We go to our first appointment at the high risk OB department at U of M on Friday.  Im kinda nervous.  I have only been back there twice since we lost Bristol.  And this time it will be different because we are pregnant.  

When we were going through our IF problems it aways seemed like pregnant women were smug to me, like they think they are superior and that nothing else mattered since they were pregnant.  Now, I feel that they are smug in a different an almost naïveté way thinking that nothing could possibly go wrong with their pregnancy.  Oh to have that luxury, to think that nothing bad ever happens to pregnant people...that once you hit a certain point you are "safe."  Well, I know there is no safe time, and I will probably be worried till the moment I hold our baby in our arms.  And then probably until the day I mine, I love you!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

6.5 weeks

So we went yesterday (7/10) for our 6.5 week ultrasound and blood work.  I was happy to hear that my beta levels went up to 3781 from 540 just the week before.  My progesterone levels are good too (probably from the prometrium vaginal suppositories that I am taking twice a day, but whatever it takes).  The ultrasound was good  too, the baby is measuring 6 weeks 2 days (when I questioned that it should be 6 weeks 5 days she said that at this early stage just a mm can throw it off and not to worry).  Tomorrow I am officially 7 weeks.  We also got to hear the heart beat...a proud 125 bmp.  I cried.  We go back next Tuesday and then the following Tuesday.  My first appointment at with the fetal maternal medicine department at U of M is on July 27th at 9am.  I am hoping they will tell me how we are going to proceed with this pregnancy...I will be considered high risk but I don't know what that means as far as this pregnancy is concerned.  How often will they see me?  How often do I get ultrasounds???  I have a lot of questions...I just pray that this baby is healthy and that he/she makes it.  I love him/her already!!!

On a completely unrelated note, the people who just danced on So You Think You Can Dance were pretty good.  I can't stand the show...the one lady judge annoys me to no end, but there were some good dancers none the less.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Husbands Take

Ok, so my husband started a blog a few weeks ago and I wanted to share his first post with talks about what infertility and stillbirth is like from the eyes of a husband.  Reading this made me cry as I realized that my husband feels the same pain I do in just a different way...

"What can I say about what I am going to talk about on this blog.  I can say a lot about what me and my wife have been through, and I can say a lot about what we are going through.  But in order for you to understand all of that, you need to know a little bit about the beginning. 

My wife and I have been married for over six years.  She is in her early thirties, and I am in my late twenties.  She is the love of my life, and there is no one else I would rather be married to in the entire world.  She is beautiful, a dream that I had when I was younger come true in real life.  The start of our relationship was perfect, we met, we slowly fell in love after being great friends, and married on a beautiful summer day surrounded by our friends and family.  We first purchased a condo and then were lucky enough, even in this economy, to buy a beautiful house.  We have two dogs and a cat, a wonderful family, great friends, good jobs, and the ability to live comfortable.  We had achieved the American Dream, and now wanted to share that dream with someone else, a baby of our own. 

But although the beginning of this story sounds like something out of a romance novel, and it really was, most dreams that come true in real life have a nasty way of turning sour even if you try to stop them. 

After being married for a while, my wife and I took a bold move.  Well, I took the move per her direction, and one day tossed her birth control pills into the toilet in a proud declaration that we would soon be pregnant.  I mean, my parents told me that was how they did it, and by golly, that was how I was going to do it.  In my parents case (or so they say), after a fun romp in the living room, they were pregnant a few weeks later.  My wife and I had the fun part, but month after month, we learned that getting pregnant is not as easy as it seems. 

Heck, we all know how to get pregnant.  Most of us like the idea of trying to get pregnant (myself included), when we are ready.  Teenagers can get pregnant without even trying after a one night stand. But, despite our best efforts, and that first few months there were a lot of "efforts," nothing seemed to happen.  Pregnancy test after pregnancy test was only 1 line, or in cases where I wanted to be "a tech guy" the digital test said not pregnant.  Period after period would come, and we would just wait to see, wait for something that seemed like it would never come.

One year went by.  Friends who started trying to get pregnant only months before were succeeding where we had failed, and my ego was starting to stutter.  But more important than my ego, my wife was  changing her mood when the negative tests came from laughter and being positive, to tears and hopelessness. What was wrong, what was I doing wrong, would there ever be two lines on that test...

After the first year, we went to a doctor for me.  That was fun.  He did all sorts of fun stuff and asked me all sorts of questions.  Then came the tests...yea he asked me to fill a rather large container with a "sample" to test.  This was the first time in my life that I wondered why those damn cups were so big...I mean who to they think I am, a porn star?  Well, I did my best, and apparently did well because everything looked good.  I was thinking this would make my wife happy, but in our quest for answers, there were none, so she seemed even more hopeless. 

About six months later, she was due for a few doctor's appointments.  She went, got ultrasounds (the fun one's up the ho ha), blood tests, and a random assortment of other test, all of which told her she was fine. 

Six months later, we went to see a reproductive doctor.  By this point it had been almost two years since we started trying to get pregnant, and those friends I was telling you about, well they had beautiful children that were getting older by the day, and all we had was an empty room, and diminishing hope.  The reproductive doctor was fun, more tests, more talk, less answers.  We were told that we were fine, and that we should try "some procedures" to get pregnant.  Teenagers can do it with one night of pure passion, we needed "medical intervention," and boy, that does not feel good. 

So we decided together that we should try some of these procedures.  We went in for what they call an IUI, a fancy way of describing me providing another "sample," them cleaning it, and then "injecting" it into just the right spot, at just the right time of the month, after just the right does or cocktail of medicine, and then, hopefully, (after about $6,000 for those uninsured) you can get pregnant. 

So what happened after that?  Well, we only got one line on the pregnancy test that month.  All the hope that came from the possibility of a new baby dwindled away with just a few drops of yellow liquid and a silly pink line.  Tears, sadness, hopelessness. 

As a side note I have often wondered if the people who work in production facilities that make pregnancy tests think about what those tests will do to people.  It's not their fault, and our reaction is not really the most adverse that could be had, however, I can only assume that the few ounces of molded plastic, cotton, and other materials that make up a pregnancy test are not thought of, generally, as life changing.  But think about it, that teenager we talked about, a couple who is surprised, a couple waiting for the news, or someone like me and my wife, learning the fate of a "procedure" that could have changed our lives.  That is some powerful stuff. 

Anyway, my wife cried that day.  She sobbed actually, and me, I don't really cry anymore, but I felt powerless.  I almost wished that someone was breaking in the house making her cry, or stealing her purse, I could do something then, I could be a man for her.  But what do you do when you have "good health" and she has "good health" and everything should be fine, but it isn't?  What do you do when you can't buy her what she wants, can't take away her pain with words or talking?  You suffer in silence, you try to console her, but nothing seems to ever work.  Stress build, and you have nothing to do but wait.

Twice more we went through this, but the last time, something changed.  I was at McDonalds that day in between jobs, I do IT work, and she called to tell me the results of her bloodwork after the last ultrasound--she was crying, but this time they were tears of joy, I couldn't tell by the tears, but she was pregnant. 

So, everything seemed great, we finally were able to breath a sign of relief. 

It was short lived.

The first time we realized that we were going to worry about this pregnancy, was a few weeks after we found out about it.  Things were going well, the reproductive doc said we were doing well, and despite a few "off to the races scares" everything looked promising. 

She went to her first appointment at a real GYNO, and we were told "at this point you have a 95% chance of taking home a beautiful baby."  That sounded promising, but my wife just didn't feel right...she had a bad feeling, and I thought she was crazy.  However, we worried every day after that. 

At about 18 weeks we could not wait any longer to find out what we were having.  One Saturday night we got a 3D ultrasound and found it we were having a girl (I wanted a boy at the time).  We celebrated and were once again positive that everything was fine, we smiled, we laughed, we cried, we didn't notice something important. 

The ultrasound tech, who by the way can't say anything medical about the baby, had a look on her face that wasn't quite right.  We were seeing a beautiful baby girl, moving around, with two arms, two legs, and everything perfect, she was seeing something else.

We never heard a word from her, and when I told my wife about the look I thought I saw, she fluffed it off.  Nothing could be wrong, Bristol Grace was beautiful. 

Then a few weeks later on a cold winter morning, we went to our 20 week ultrasound. 

Nothing in my life could have prepared me for when the doctor came into the room and said "well...there is something wrong with the baby." 

My wife, who seconds before that moment was talking to me about how she was worried, started to cry.  I had a blank, helpless stare on my face, and a feeling of helplessness again. 

We raced to another speciality hospital, hoping it was all a mistake.  They looked at my wife for hours and did a crazy was not a mistake, our baby was in serious condition.  Would she die? Should we abort the pregnancy?  They didn't know, it was our decision. 

We decided to continue, we loved her, we knew we had to try. 

We went back for test after test, week after week, and everything seemed OK...The Dr's were concerned, but not worried, at least not yet.

Then at about 26 weeks something weird happened...My wife didn't feel Bristol kicking for a day...she was so small, maybe it was just a fluke...and anyway, the next day we were going to the doctor for another scan...we would know more then. 

I only felt Bristol kick one time, which I am so thankful for, but my wife felt her every day, it was a reassurance she was still there, and she didn't fell her for one whole day...was she OK?  She had to be...

It was another cold morning, it didn't seem special.  There were no signs, there were no warnings.  It felt like any other day.  I wonder if all of the days that define us as people, really change us forever feel that way, but this one did, if felt standard.

We got to the hospital, my wife sat in the chair, and the ultrasound started.  Where we once say life, a beautiful baby girl, we only saw lifelessness.  There was no movement.  The tech spent about 5 minutes moving around and then told us what we already knew, she had to get the doctor, "she was sorry but there was no heartbeat..."  My wife cried, I was helpless again.  I though I was going through something rough, but I was selfish in my thoughts.  My wife was sitting there, our baby passed away inside her, and then she was told "we have to deliver you."  Or in the reality of the situation "you have to go through pain that no one should ever have to go through, and at the end, you will get nothing."

She felt like she failed the baby, I felt like I failed her, and three days later when it was all over, we felt empty, me less literally, but still empty. 

The pink room, the beautiful furniture, all useless, all for nothing...

It has been almost four months, and still, I will never forget holding my baby, having her baptized, and then leaving her, only to get her back in a different form, ashes of an angel. 

This blog is my take on everything that happens from this point on.  I want to talk about how I feel as we move forward, what is happening, what trials, tribulations, happiness, sadness and happiness we meet going forward

I want to tell the world that it is OK for fathers to have a voice, it is OK to be sad, OK to cry, and OK to feel helpless.  The truth is that we father's are not helpless, we can be there for our wives, and although it does not seem like it at first, it does not even seem like it to me now, I know deep in my soul that there is a reason for all of this, and that my wife and I will be closer at the end. 

We were going to try to start procedures again this month, we had the green light.

We hit a snag, a positive one though.  My wife and I who waited three years, went through procedure after procedure and still had only one line on the pregnancy test were given a miracle...

She is pregnant (the old fashion way). 

Tomorrow....we find out if everything is going well...

Sadness, fear, happiness, they are all wrestling with each other inside my brain...

Tomorrow, I hope happiness can win this battle, and in the future, this war...only time, blood work, and an ultrasound will tell..."

5.5 weeks.....

I know its been a while since I have written...honestly I still feel like Im in shock at this whole thing and I don't know what to say, let alone think.  We went to the RE's office last Monday and my levels were looking good.  By beta was up to 540 and we saw both the yolk sac and the gestational sac and the RE said they measured about 5.5 weeks.  I go back tomorrow morning for another ultrasound and more blood work.  I am praying that my numbers keep going up and that this baby sticks...I have found a prayer that I say as often as I can...

"This life you have given us is so tiny, fragile, and vulnerable, safe in the womb of flesh and hope, yet subject to danger and death. O God of love, creator of life, hear our prayer.  We want this baby so much.  Please grant this child of ours a full term of nurture, the joy and mystery of life, and the blessing of your love.  Grant us the fulfillment of our dreams, a baby to cherish and protect, a child to teach and to guide, a blessing to our family. Amen."

I am scared to get too excited but I already love this baby more than I can explain.  I am taking my Heparin injections twice a day (though I will admit its hard to give them to myself), taking my progesterone pills twice a day, and taking my prenatal pills and extra folic acid.  My dr said caffeine is ok but Im not having any of that either.  I even started eating salads (which I never liked in all my 31 years) and while I must admit Im still not a super huge fan I will do anything for this baby!!!  I am praying that the next 33 weeks go smoothly and then that the next 80 years of our babies life goes smoothly.