Monday, May 27, 2013

Oh Baby

Everyone has had tragedies in their life. It's the nature of the universe, you can't have the good without the bad. Some people, myself included, manage to skate through most of life without accruing an incredible amount of traumatic experiences. However, I don't believe you can go through life without at least one experience that is so painful it changes you forever. This is that story for me. It's a sad story, but it has a happy ending.

I got married in November of 2009. Since my husband and I were both nearing 30, we wanted to try for kids right away. I was doing everything I could: staying away from alcohol, eating healthy, tracking my ovulation. Still, months went by with no results. Then in August of 2010, I was feeling kind of strange. Sometimes your body has a way of realizing something is happening - sure enough, around mid-August I found out I was pregnant! I was nervous, excited, so many emotions running through me. I called my doctor, and they told me I didn't need to come in until 10 weeks. Ten weeks?!! That's an eternity! But I summoned up all of my patience. My appointment was on September 21st, the day after my birthday.  On Labor Day weekend, when I was about 8 weeks, we decided to tell a few people. Our parents, my husband's brothers and sisters-in-law, and our best friends. That same weekend, I noticed a little bit of blood when I was going to the bathroom. Nothing big, just a couple dots. I did some internet searching, and was fairly reassured that I had nothing to worry about. Still, I had this little nagging feeling that something wasn't right.

By the time my appointment came around, I was a bundle of nerves, although for me that's really quite normal. I'm a worrier. It's just who I am. The doctor did a physical exam first. Everything looked fine. I mentioned the spotting, and she agreed it was probably nothing. Then came time to listen for the heartbeat. I wasn't sure what I was listening for, so I concentrated on watching the doctor move the Doppler around on my abdomen. After a few moments, she said she wasn't hearing anything, but it could be any number of reasons. She sent me into ultrasound so they could take a look. By this point, my heart was racing. Thankfully the ultrasound tech called me in pretty quickly. This was another first - I didn't know what to look for on the ultrasound, so I just looked at the tech's face. She had a mostly blank expression, and then she said the following sentence, which will forever be cemented in my brain:

"I'm so sorry... There's no heartbeat."

It was like I had just been hit in the chest by lightning. I didn't know what to say, what to think. Just when that first piece of news was sinking in, she dropped another bombshell, one that I never could have prepared myself for:

"It was twins."

Twins?!? What? How could this happen? How could I go from being pregnant to losing two babies in less than five minutes?

This was all too much to handle. They ushered me back into the doctor's office pretty quickly, and we discussed my options. I decided that the d&c would be the best plan. We scheduled an appointment for the next morning. By this point, I had big angry tears running down my face and I didn't even care. Once I left the doctor's office, I wasn't sure what to do. My husband was at work, and wouldn't be going to lunch for about another hour. I didn't want to drop the bomb on him while he was working. I basically drove around aimlessly for awhile. If you've never tried driving around while bawling, I really don't recommend it. I'm surprised I didn't get in an accident.

Fast forward a bit: the d&c went well, at least physically. Mentally I was a wreck. For weeks I would lay in bed at night, crying, unable to sleep. I would break down crying at work. A few people knew what was going on, but for the most part people probably thought I was crazy. I didn't care. All I wanted was for the hurting to stop.

After a couple months, we decided to start trying again. It was a frustrating time. I felt like I was never going to get pregnant again. Then in April of 2011 I started to get that strange feeling again. I was waiting for my period to start, in fact I was sure it was starting, because I had a bunch of spotting. But then after a few days the spotting continued. It never turned into a period. After a week I was really starting to get suspicious. On April 15th, which would have been my original due date, I finally took a pregnancy test. It was a faint positive. By now I was freaking out because it was a Friday night and we were leaving for Maryland the next morning. I had to wait until Monday to call my doctor, but I managed to get an appointment for that Friday. Sure, it meant cutting our vacation short, but we hadn't really planned much in advance, so it wasn't a huge deal.

When that Friday finally rolled around, I was a nervous wreck. We went into ultrasound first, and I was hoping for good news, but somehow I knew it wasn't going to be. Sure enough, the ultrasound tech told us that yes, there was a fertilized egg in there, but nothing else. No brain stem, no heartbeat. Just an empty egg sac. She tried to be optimistic and say 'it's possible your dates were wrong, maybe you just aren't that far along yet, etc etc..' I held onto that little glimmer of hope, but deep in my heart I knew that my dates were absolutely right, and no way was a baby going to develop from this egg. Another ultrasound a week later confirmed my suspicions. This was a blighted ovum. An egg had become fertilized and implanted iteself in my uterus, but there was no baby developing.

After this letdown, I decided to wait awhile before trying again. I just didn't want to deal with the pain anymore, so I wanted to take the summer to get healthy and recover both mentally and physically. I opted to go the natural route this time and let my body miscarry naturally, since there was no tissue involved. While I was waiting for my body to catch up to what I already knew, I decided to start running again. I hadn't run seriously since high school, so I had to ease into it, but from the start it was already helping me out. I was feeling better physically (exercise will do that to you!) and mentally. Somehow it was just what I needed at that time in my life. I even ran my first 5k, and finished in under 30 minutes! Because of this tumultous time in my life, running will always hold a special place in my heart. I even started training for a 10k, but sometimes life just has other plans for you.

Aside from running, I was also performing in a show that summer. I've been involved in a group called Shakespeare from the Heart since 2008. We perform Shakespeare plays outside, and donate all of our proceeds to a local charity. That year we were doing Othello, and I managed to get the lead! I was Desdemona, and I got to die on stage. It was a lot of work, but a total blast. The guy playing Othello was also my running partner. The only bad thing was that it was incredibly hot that summer. Summers in Indiana are always kind of iffy - it can be 100 degrees most of the summer, or it can be high 70s-low 80s and rainy. This summer was one of the hotter ones. During the weeks of our performances, it was incredibly hot. I was cranky and tired, but I just chalked it up to the incredible heat we'd been having. I also thought I was PMS-ing. But after that first week of performances, I realized that I was late. I was skeptical at first, but I finally convinced myself to take a pregnancy test. It was positive! Time to freak out again! I was convinced this was going to go down just like the last two. I was so nervous. I called my doctor right away, and the phone nurses told me I'd need to come in for a blood test first. They couldn't see much from an ultrasound until my Hcg levels were up to a certain number.

The next two weeks were a blur. Three blood tests, all came back with steadily rising Hcg levels. Good news! Finally they let me come in to do an ultrasound. My husband and I were tightly gripping each others' hands in anticipation. This was it. This was going to tell us whether we were finally doing this. The moment we heard the heartbeat for the first time was one of the best moments of my life. It was finally happening!

The next few months, other than a few late-night emergency room scares, were quite uneventful. I had a fairly easy pregnancy. My daughter was born on March 28th, 2012. She was perfect and I can't imagine my life without her. And I always think, if either of my first two pregnancies had been viable, I wouldn't have this baby I have right now. It doesn't make it hurt any less, but I know that she is the child I was meant to have. She truely is my sunshine.