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Déjà vu

It’s déjà vu, these blank ovulation tests, the waiting and the impatience, the cycle of hope and disappointment.

Heart pounding when I take my temperature in the morning, anticipating that maybe this morning it will rise, fearing that this morning it will drop.

Obsessing over fertility charts past and present, searching for a reason to have hope, right here, right now.

Analyzing my cervical mucous every evening.

Having sex all.the.time.

Spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

Déjà vu.

I’m still waiting for my one lucky post-weaning ovulation. That’s new. I’ve always ovulated, on my own, about three weeks after fully weaning my baby. It’s been almost six weeks now.

I had a reason to hope last week. Cervix was high and very soft. Tons of EWCM. OPK’s were getting darker (never positive). And then — nothing. All signs disappeared. A false start.

Déjà vu.

Anger at my body for failing me. Sadness that my body is so broken.

Sadness that my one chance to do this naturally is slipping away.

Sadness that this can’t be easier, that I can’t be like “everyone else.”

Sadness that there may be many more months ahead filled with sadness.

Sadness that the sadness has filled me already.

So, so much sadness.

Déjà vu.

Dropping to my knees in quiet prayer.

Fighting against what almost seems inevitable now — endless cycles of progesterone and Clomid.

Bracing myself for the pain, for the disappointment, for the frustration, for much more sadness.

Déjà vu.

Knowing, with great conviction now, that I want this baby I am waiting for. It’s déjà vu. Nothing like feeling like something may be out of your reach to make you realize how desperately you want it, eh? Déjà vu.

And to make you realize that, if you ever get it, it will be the last time. Definitively. Because you — because I — can’t do this anymore. I’m ready to be done. That’s new, too.

But most of it?

An ongoing, itchy, painful déjà vu.

And yet, the hope for another kind of déjà vu — one filled with positive pregnancy tests and skin stretched across a growing belly — persists.

I will do this over and over if I have to. I will live this déjà vu.

Renewed determination. Hope that won’t die. Letting go and having faith.

The most beautiful part of my déjà vu.

 

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The Fear: It Continues

I am not surprised by this. That is, by the fear. By its failure to cease.

I have been here before, after all. I have prayed in desperation for a child, I have believed that child may never come to be, I have worried through nine months of pregnancy when she did finally come into being, and I have fretted over her health and safety in the early months of her life. So I am not surprised that I am here again, afraid that Skittle may be gone at any moment, but it still leaves me exhausted, wishing I had a different way of handling things.

The fears now are different, of course. I don’t have to count fetal kicks every hour. I don’t worry about cord accidents and placental abruptions. I don’t envision every way the delivery of a baby can go wrong. Instead, I mostly obsess over SIDS — the silent, unpredictable killer of healthy babies. I worry that Skittle will stop breathing while she’s sleeping and so am I. Or that I’ll turn my back and won’t notice that her chest has stopped moving. I worry that I’ll always be too late in coming to her rescue.

To combat my fears, I have done my research. Of course, Skittle sleeps on her back. In a bassinet next to our bed. With a fan blowing, no matter how cold it is outside. We don’t overheat the bedroom and, as soon as breastfeeding is well-established, we will offer a pacifier. I know that I am doing all I can to avoid SIDS, making use of every tool that even has the slightest link to SIDS prevention. But it’s still not enough to keep the anxiety at bay. I still worry.

And sometimes, I still panic too. Like when Skittle was asleep in the bassinet the other night while I was getting ready for bed and pumping my milk and suddenly I was overwhelmed with a fear that she had stopped breathing while in the bedroom alone. I had to stop mid-pump to go check on her. And a week ago, she she seemed to be gasping for breath in her sleep just for a few quick seconds and, once I knew she was okay, I couldn’t quit crying because I realized how vulnerable she still is. And just last night, I had to shake her awake because I couldn’t feel her breathing through her swaddle.

Most of the time I’m okay, but sometimes it can get very, very bad.

And this is just the beginning. I know from my obsessive research that the greatest risk of SIDS is between 2-4 months and so I know with certainty that my fear and anxiety will peak at that time. After six months, the risk becomes negligible and so will become my level of worry. That’s the good news…there is an end to this daily rise and fall of fear. As a mother, I will always worry about my children, but once Skittle reaches the age of six months, I need not be constantly afraid that she might die at any given moment.

The other good news: I don’t have to wonder every second of every day. There’s no hoping that and worrying whether Skittle is okay. All I have to do is look at her, touch her, hear her rhythmic breathing to know she is. That makes this kind of fear a bit less painful.

And I know these days will pass fast, and I don’t want to wish them away because Skittle will never be this small again. I love and cherish her tinyness, her curled newborn body, the simplicity of her needs…but I do look forward to that day, down the road, when I can breath a little easier again and won’t be consumed by this fear every damn day.

Ahhhh, can you even imagine that a day such as that can exist?

Another Change of Plans

Thank you all so much for your words of advice, encouragement, support, and best wishes to yesterday’s post, written by my husband. (I can’t believe I actually let him publish something so wacky!) I appreciate every one of you more than you can know.

In both good news and bad news, Skittle is still not here. I am at home, on the couch, waiting for tomorrow instead.

The reason for this is that when we went in for our 7:45am consult with my OB today, we learned Skittle had performed yet another gymnastic feat and was back to being head-down. She has shocked her parents and baffled doctors, nurses, and sonographers alike. If Dr. Smiles wasn’t such a professional, I’m sure he would have muttered “WTF?!?!” today as we all stared at the ultrasound screen, stunned to see her head once again in the perfect position. Honestly, none of us know how this is even possible, this late into a pregnancy and with such a reportedly “big baby.” But somehow, Skittle is able to continually keep us guessing. She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum.

I had hoped that, should this small miracle occur, I would be able to go straight to the hospital for an induction instead. Though I don’t want an induction, I want a c-section even less and I am terrified of Skittle flipping again. But there’s no room in the inn — or the hospital — for this pregnant mama. At least not today. So an induction has been scheduled for tomorrow instead and if and when I go will once again be dependent on how full the Birth Center is.

So it’s on to more and more waiting. And while I am so relieved that, at this point, a c-section is not needed, I am also feeling a wee bit sad that nothing has really changed. I woke up this morning thinking that I would finally get to meet my baby.

Instead, here I sit, worrying about how little she is moving today and waiting to welcome her. The same story as ever.

An Early Morning Panic Attack

Imagine this:

You are nine months pregnant. Just days away from your due date. Days. Things are getting real. This baby is real to you. You love her. You want her. You are waiting for her, and have been for what feels like a lifetime. You are ready to hold her in your empty arms. One morning, long before your alarm goes off, you awake. You wait to feel her move in your stretched womb, as you do every morning. But she doesn’t. You poke your belly. Again and again and again. You roll from your left side to your right. Poke, poke, poke. You roll from your right side to your left. Poke. You sit up, cross-legged, on the bed. Poke, poke. Jiggle, jiggle. But there is no baby movement, no sign of life, and you feel the anxiety rise in your chest. You pray, silently, and try to convince yourself your baby is sleeping. But logic melts into panic. You wake your husband. You tell him you’re scared. You’re whimpering as he puts his hand on your belly and tries to talk to your unborn child, tries to wake her himself. It doesn’t work.

You leap out of bed and pace the floor. “I’m scared. I’m really, really scared,” you say, taking fast, shallow breaths in between each word. “She always moves when I need her to. I’m scared. She has to move.”

You run into the living room because your bedroom has become a prison. You tell your mom, who is asleep on the couch, that you’re scared. That the baby isn’t moving. What if she’s already gone? “Honey, you know she’s okay,” she says to you.

“No. No, I don’t. Babies do die. They die all the time.” You’re pacing again. Panicking still. More pokes to your belly do nothing.

Suddenly, your husband is next to you. He asks where the doppler is. It’s in the minivan, out in the torrential downpour that has been going for a day or more. He puts on his raincoat and braves it while you sink to the ground. You are crying, and crying out to God. Your prayers are no longer silent. “Please God,” you wail, doubled over. “Please let my baby be okay.”

Your husband returns with the doppler. You spread the gel on your belly and turn the doppler on and there is only silence. You can’t find a heartbeat, no matter how many times you try. Granted, your panic prevents you from making an honest effort. You need to hear the thump, thump, thump now. You need to feel her kick now.  You do not have a second or any energy to spare searching and waiting. You are losing it. You have nearly lost it.

“I have to go to the ER,” you say, but you don’t move. You can’t. If there’s no heartbeat, you don’t want to know. This horrible doubt and fear is somehow better than that awful truth.

With your mom watching in silence on the sofa, your husband tells you to lay back. He puts both hands on your belly and waits for your baby to move. She doesn’t. He talks to her. You roll to your side and you both wait some more. There is a subtle change in your belly and your husband asks, “Was that her? It felt like a shift.” You aren’t sure. You put your own hand at the top of your belly. You think you maybe feel something again. But it’s not enough. It’s not a guarantee.

You sit up. You all wait. And then there, right there, is the nudge of an elbow or knee as your baby rolls over and you cannot deny it was her. She is alive. She is okay.

And suddenly, you are in your mommy’s arms, sobbing. Because you are so relieved. Because the terror you felt is still so real. “I need her,” you say. “I need her here now.” And the tears just go on and on and leave you exhausted all day long.

Friends, today at 5:30am, that was the scene at our house. Not pretty. I wish I could say I am being melodramatic, but this was exactly the state I was in this morning before sunrise. It was horrible. Horrible. I really was, somehow, convinced that our Skittle was dead. Knowing that she has been a little quieter over the last week or so, coupled with the fact that she just would not move no matter how hard I tried and that never happens, led me into a tizzy of uncontrollable panic. I have not felt that much fear in maybe forever.

I am not proud of my mental breakdown, but I’m not ashamed of it either. I know it is part of the infertility and miscarriage package. At least, it is for me. It irritates and baffles my mom and my Honey, but I have accepted that this is what it will always be like for me. I know what it’s like to lose a baby, even if it was early in pregnancy. And I have known and heard of many others who have suffered a great deal more. I am always aware that pain and loss do not discriminate. They can happen to anyone at any time. They can happen in the final hour, just when you think you’re safe. Babies do die, in- and outside of the womb, and it’s awful and no one is protected from that. I have learned how to handle that reality for the most part, but as we get closer to welcoming Skittle, I find myself growing scared and anxious once again. Losing her now, when she is perfectly whole and ready to be born, would kill me. And I am never far from imagining the worst.

Today’s experience has left me feeling very vulnerable. So vulnerable that I’m almost ready to agree to an induction. My OB has mentioned it. All I have to do is give the okay and then Skittle will be here. It’s not what I want for us and yet, it’s hard to wait right now. I don’t want to live through another moment of fear like the one I had today. I just want my baby girl here, safe from all harm, and I’m growing more impatient with every minute that passes. These final days are harder than I ever thought they would be.

Skittle Update

It’s been another week full of appointments as we monitor this pregnancy and Skittle’s well-being and I wanted to update all of you on our “progress” (if you can even call it that)…

MONDAY’S DOCTOR APPOINTMENT

With my elevated blood pressure, I have been having twice-weekly prenatal appointments. For this visit, my BP was the lowest it has been in three weeks or so at 137/85. The nurse practitioner and I were both quite happy with that. Either way, we did a non-stress test and Skittle passed yet again without any question. A quick ultrasound showed that she is head-down (just as she was at last Thursday’s appt), which made this mama very happy to hear. And a cervical check showed that my cervix is very soft, 40% effaced, and 1cm dilated. It’s not much, but it’s something and I was excited to hear that things are heading in the right direction!

YESTERDAY’S ULTRASOUND

This ultrasound was mainly to monitor my amniotic fluid levels and Skittle’s growth, but I was also super happy to see that Skittle is still head-down. I was feeling hiccups by my ribs on the drive over and it made me nervous that she had flipped. But she hadn’t, thank goodness. My amniotic fluid is more than adequate, in the 74th percentile, which is great. And in the last two weeks, Skittle appears to have gained another pound or so. She is now estimated to be 9lbs 9oz, give or take up to 22oz. This is probably an over-estimate, but either way, it looks like Skittle is going to be a big baby. Which scares me, I’ll admit. Because that’s a whole lot of baby to push out of my vagina without the use of drugs. And how much more will she grow before she decides to make her entrance? Even more, though, it saddens me. Cupcake was much smaller at birth (7lbs 2 oz) and I think I’m going to miss having a teeny tiny baby. Everyone assures me that she’ll still feel small and precious, but it’s something I have to come to come to grips with. I don’t know if that even makes sense to any of you, because it’s hard for me to adequately articulate, but I feel like I’m mourning. Just a little. I’ll work through it, though, and we’re still very excited to welcome this baby into our home. Another couple ultrasound photos of Skittle (probably my last ones!) have been posted on the Skittle page.

YESTERDAY’S DOCTOR APPOINTMENT

My BP is staying fairly stable at 142/86 and Skittle once again passed her NST.  My doctor is still slightly concerned about Skittle’s size, but he says he doesn’t feel like I’m carrying a 9-pounder, just by palpation of my belly. (And for the record — neither do I! I just don’t feel that big.) And he did a cervical check as well, but in his words, my cervix “isn’t doing much.” So yeah. That was a bit of a disappointment. Just because I want it to do something so much. I want this baby to come out before she does turn into a baby with a two digit birth weight.  I go back on Monday and then again next Thursday, at which point Dr. Smiles and I will come up with a “plan.” I know that’s his way of hinting about induction. And that’s not a discussion I want to have.  So I’m feeling impatient and nervous and anxious, all while still trying to enjoying these last few days…or weeks? (Please, no!)

In other news, my mom arrives tonight to await the birth of her second granddaughter and we are excited she’ll be with us for a month or more to help care for both of our girls while we adjust to having another baby around here. It’s so hard to believe that we have finally, finally arrived at this perfect, long-prayed-for point in time. My due date is next week!  And, as everyone keeps reminding me, Skittle could come anytime now. Whenever she is ready, so are we. We are more than ready!

An Update on All Things Skittle

Well, this has been The Week of Medical Appointments, with two visits to my OB, blood work, and an ultrasound. Not to mention the many trips I have made to Fred Meyer, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and the mall just to check my blood pressure.

I am happy to say, though, that I’m in a much better place than I was on Monday, when I was incredibly worried about preeclampsia and felt like my body was a ticking time bomb, just waiting to destroy my dreams of the perfect birth, or much worse, kill my baby. For now, though, those fears have been relieved.

My doctor also seems to view my high blood pressure in a much more positive light. After reviewing the BP readings I have been getting outside of his office (in the 120s/80s), as well as my blood work and the ultrasound, he feels pretty confident in saying that I do not have preeclampsia at this point. It appears to simply be pregnancy hypertension, which is a much easier thing to deal with — especially because no where else am I getting the outrageous blood pressure readings (yesterday it was 154/77) that I do at his office. I don’t quite understand why it’s so high there, but I’m glad that my doctor is willing to accept and believe that I am getting much lower readings everywhere else. He does want to keep a close eye on me, so I will probably be going in twice a week now, and he wants me to continue to monitor my BP outside of his office, but he’ll take no further action at this point and seems rather unconcerned now. Thank God.

However

There are a couple other issues that he is worried about.

One is Skittle’s position. When I first arrived at the ultrasound, I came with a full bladder and Skittle was head-down. The moment they had me empty my bladder, though, she turned sideways. Sigh. I haven’t written much about it here, but I’ve actually been concerned about a breech baby for some time because I often feel hiccups near my ribs. Yesterday and today, though, I have felt them in my pelvis. So it appears that our little miss is still turning every which way. I’m not exactly sure how she has the room to do that, but it may have to do with the fact that I’ve still got plenty of amniotic fluid for her to dance around in. Either way, Dr. Smiles says he has a “hunch” that she will probably turn head-down as she prepares for birth. But if she doesn’t turn by 39 weeks, then we’ll have to talk. About the “C-” word. Oh, dear.

And yet, that’s not even the biggest problem. The big whopper that seems to have my doc very nervous is Skittle’s growth. He scheduled the ultrasound to check on the baby’s size because growth restriction can be an issue if there is preeclampsia. However, little Skittle is definitely not having that problem. And she’s not so little. At 36 weeks and 6 days, she is estimated to weigh about 8lbs 10oz, though that’s only a very loose estimate and can go 20oz in either direction — or even more (from what I have read and heard from friends). The ultrasound tech told me that she thinks they have a tendency to overestimate and when I told Dr. Smiles he said, “Uh….yeah.” Twice during my appointment, he looked at me and said, “I just cannot believe you are carrying a 9lb baby. You’re too small!” And he’s not the first person to comment on my “small” belly (which doesn’t feel very small to me!). So while he seems skeptical of Skittle’s approximate weight, he also seems nervous that she could, indeed, turn out to be a big baby. And so the “C-” word was mentioned again. That word has been used way too much in the last few weeks.

Another ultrasound will be scheduled for two weeks down the road to check on both Skittle’s position and size. That’s going to be one nerve-wracking appointment because it’s going to either crush my dreams for a natural birth or let them grow. I am prepared to fight against a Cesarean if needed, but I’m not much of a fighter and I don’t really want it to come to that.

Dr. S did say that, best case scenario, I will go into labor in the next week or so and we won’t have to worry about any of this (as long as Skittle does indeed turn head-down). I am now technically considered full-term now (37 weeks), but I think that seems unlikely. And yet, it won’t stop me from trying.

And so begins Operation: Evict Skittle….

P.S. If you’re feeling up to it, you can pop on over to the Skittle page for a couple photos from our ultrasound yesterday.

Good News, Bad News

Well, folks. There’s good news and there’s bad news, but it seems to be heavy on the bad news today. Or at least the bad news is heaviest on my heart.

Good News: I have successfully managed to eat a whole lot of protein this last week, anywhere from 80-100g/day, in an effort to lower my blood pressure.

Bad News: I’m sick of protein. I miss fruit. I miss chocolate. I miss popcicles. But after meeting my protein quota, there’s just been no room for anything else in my stomach. And I don’t even know if it’s working!

Good News: My weight at my doctor’s office is sufficient, but not over-the-top. I gained two pounds in the last week. With all the protein I’ve been eating, I have not been able to maintain my caloric intake in quite the way that I have in previous weeks.

Bad News: I’ve still gained more than is technically considered healthy. I’m up about 36lbs, when it should be 25-35. Oops!

Good News: My blood pressure has been all over the map in the last week when I have taken it outside of my doctor’s office — at Rite Aid, at the mall, at home. It has ranged anywhere from 141/88 to 130/88 to — on Saturday — 114/74 (and just two days before it was 136/84 on the same machine!). Thankfully, it has never been as high as the readings at my doctor’s office.

Bad News: My BP at my prenatal appointment today hit yet another record high for me…155/84. I wanted to cry.

Good News: I have never had high blood pressure in my life. In fact, I tend to run very low.

Bad News: None of that really matters now, does it, when it’s not just me who this BP stuff is affecting.

Good News: Skittle is doing well. Kicking and active with a good heart rate that increases just when it should.

Bad News: I had to take an unexpected non-stress test today, sitting there for 20 minutes with an antsy 2-year-old and a husband who should have been at work and never even told his boss where he was. (See the above good news to know if Skittle passed or not!)

Good News: There is still no protein in my urine.

Bad News: I had to have my blood drawn today to check for preeclampsia and its severity, I have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday to check for Skittle’s growth, and I have to return to see my doctor on Friday for a follow-up.

Good News: I tested negative for Group B Strep, which thoroughly shocked me since I tested positive with Cupcake.

Bad News: Group B Strep and having to take antibiotics while trying to have a natural labor was the very least of my worries. I would take GBS any day over preeclampsia!

Good News: I felt baby hiccups in my pelvis for the first time in over a week today, which temporarily relieved my mind about a breech baby.

Bad News: All of last week, Skittle’s hiccups were under my ribs, which gave me a very different reason to worry about a C-section. And, as she has proven over the last few months, she can change her position at a moment’s notice, so she may not be head-down for good. Or maybe she’s not even head-down at all? We’ll find out at my ultrasound this week.

Good News: I have not yet resigned myself to giving up the birth experience of my dreams because, at this point, we don’t know what will come of any of this and I want to believe that things can improve or at least stay stagnant. I’m choosing to believe that this is the worst of it.

Bad News: I still have a way of getting ahead of myself…of envisioning an induction or, even worse, a c-section and I’ve shed my fair share of tears over the whole thing.

So that pretty much sums it up. Sigh. I return to see my OB this Friday for another blood pressure check and to discuss the results of my blood work and ultrasound with him. Until then, I know nothing more. But I do hope you all have had a better start to this week than I have!