Heartbeats

Two years of negatives and three chemical pregnancies later I’m finally able to say I heard my babies heartbeats. About 8 weeks ago I found out that I am pregnant. It took about twelve tests to convince me as most of you know I’ve had positives in the past and they all faded and went away. To say I was expecting something to go wrong this time too would be accurate. Going through infertility and losses robbed me of my ability to believe that everything would be okay, because it’s never been okay before. Seeing those two pink lines both terrified and thrilled me, but I spent the week leading up to the confirmation ultrasound secretly worrying that something was wrong and then feeling guilty that I was even thinking of all the things that could be wrong.

The day of the appointment I was extremely nervous and to be honest I was preparing myself for something, I just didn’t realize that something was going to be TWINS. It took about five seconds for Dr. W to see those two little babies and then about a week for me to really process that not only was this pregnancy happening, I was also having twins. I wish I could say that I had some super emotional response when I heard their heartbeats, which by the way at 6 weeks I wasn’t expecting to hear, but I was so overwhelmed that he had just said twins that I just laid there completely shocked. I was amazed that these babies had heartbeats, but I was in disbelief that that image I’d had of us fawning over our one and probably only baby wouldn’t be happening. In that image’s place I’ll be honest I was imagining the chaos of having two newborns at once and I was terrified.

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Twins at our 6 week appointment. Amazingly, Dr. W was able to pick up both heartbeats for us to hear. 

So to say my world kind of flipped is probably the most accurate description I can give. It seems kind of ridiculous now, but during those fertility treatments I didn’t really prepare myself for the possibility of twins. When they told me the percentage of twins that occur during the type of treatment I was doing it was only 15% which in my mind was not that big of a chance. Now I could just slap myself for not thinking about the possibility, but really it wouldn’t have changed anything. We weren’t planning for twins and I’ll admit part of me is still panicking, but after years of wondering if I’d even have my own children this is honestly perfect in its own way. Just goes to prove God is always in control. I knew I didn’t want to have an only child and I guess God decided that he was going to ensure that didn’t happen. After all the heartache we’ve been through trying to get to this point I can’t help but look at this as a gift. I shared previously that I really struggled keeping my faith when I felt like miracles were just there to taunt me. Infertility made this journey feel so clinical and sterile, these twins remind me that God was watching and he heard my prayers and worries.

As for my pregnancy, the twins are doing well. We’ve had 3 ultrasounds so far and 5 appointments. They are di/di twins which is the safest type of twins to have. They each have their own sacs and placentas which usually means they are fraternal but it could be that the egg split very early on which would make them identical. My OB says we won’t know until they are born or obviously if they are different genders that will tell us. We think that it is most likely these twins are fraternal just because we know I dropped two eggs this last cycle. Twins are automatically classified as high risk here at the Naval hospital, but because I also have Grave’s Disease I have been referred to an MFM in Palm Springs (A High Risk Specialist) who will monitor our twins growth and be watching my thyroid closely. What this means for us is we will be seeing our twins a LOT. About every two weeks I’ll have an ultrasound, which honestly I do not mind because I am such a huge worrier! As for me, I am almost out of the first trimester and have lost about 6lbs… maybe more now. I honestly do not know how because my eating habits are terrible. I pretty much crave fries and burgers. I am also almost out of the first trimester and am so ready to just watch our babies grow.

Anyways, I apologize for how long it took me to update everyone, but I have been very overwhelmed with everything. The excitement has hit us and I am now just trying to prepare myself for twin life. We’ve had to rearrange our expectations, but that is okay. This journey has not gone at all how I planned, but it’s for the best. I have stated before that sometimes you have to just believe God has a reason and I’d like to say I’m starting to see it.

 The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. -Romans 8:18 

Being Thankful for Small Victories

 

I went into this season with a lot of negativity towards this holiday. It’s hard to be thankful when you feel like you are being denied the one thing that would complete you. It’s the season where families come together which means that unfortunately it’s a season filled with reminders that I am still without a child and that undoubtedly makes me question a lot of things, including my faith.

For me, one of the hardest things in this journey has been keeping faith in God. I grew up in a small, Free-Will Baptist church and my faith is very important to me. I don’t talk about it often because for me this is a part of me that is very personal. I know this sometimes leads people to think that I am just not as deeply connected to God as I should be, but I feel this is just who I am and I feel my relationship with Him grows each and every year.However, it’s been hard to not be resentful sometimes or all the time… It’s difficult for me to try to understand why He would make this journey so hard on me, especially when I see people everyday that shouldn’t be having children. Keeping faith is tough and I don’t have any answers as to why God is allowing this to happen to me. I may never have answers and I would be lying if I said that didn’t bother me, but I also know sometimes that sometimes keeping faith does not come easy and that is just part of it.

What has helped me the most of late is a story in the Bible about Job. As a child I thought that this was the worst thing that could ever be done. I couldn’t even begin to try to understand why God would allow someone who obeyed and loved Him so much to endure so much pain. It seemed incredulous to me that God would kill a righteous mans family  along with many other horrible things just to prove to Satan that Job would remain obedient to God. Yet, now I can see that in putting Job through all that suffering, Job was able to witness to his friends who didn’t believe. Through Job, God showed that even though it may feel like there is absolutely no reason on this planet that you should have to be suffering He has a plan and if you keep your faith in him something good will come of it. I may not see the end of this dark tunnel yet, but I know there is a light at the end of it. Just as God gave Job double the blessings in the end, I know that eventually good will come of my own suffering. It may be a long time before I get to see that good, but God always has a reason and that is something that this holiday I was able to see a glimpse of.

Most people know that I have been waiting a long time for an appointment with the infertility clinic. It’s a very long waiting list and the last time I spoke to the appointment line I was told to not even expect to be seen until later this coming summer. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. So it was a giant surprise this week when I got a call from the clinic letting me know a spot had opened up and it was mine! I am now going to be seen on December 21st. It may not be the big blessing I am holding hope for, but it was something and it came right when I needed it.

God didn’t however stop there this week. As some know, Mark decided to reenlist and so we have been waiting to hear where his next duty station would be. Yes, I might have been hoping for Hawaii (who wouldn’t?!) but we found out the other day we will be heading to Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert, in late January. It isn’t the most enchanting destination for sure, but it does mean that we will be able to continue our infertility journey with the clinic at Balboa Naval Hospital. Which is a big blessing when you think about it as Balboa is one of the few hospitals out there for military and their families that has an infertility clinic that also applies some discounts towards treatments. So while it will be a bit inconvenient to drive 4 to 5 hours to my infertility appointments it is a much better outcome than we could have hoped for. There are so many other bases Mark could have been sent to next that are much, much farther away so perhaps God was looking out for us after all! And who knows, maybe the next base we go to will be Hawaii! A girl can hope!

I Remember You

Hope is what keeps us going through the storm.

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   Rainbow Baby: A baby born after a miscarriage, still birth, neonatal death, or infant loss. After a storm a rainbow of hope always appears, hence the name Rainbow Baby.

So yesterday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, I however did not post intentionally. I wasn’t honestly sure if I should. To me that day just isn’t something I completely feel comfortable being part of, not because I am ashamed of my losses but because I feel guilty for putting myself into a group of women where many have lost their babies at points that are far more devastating than mine. Women that remember this day have often lost their children at much later stages in pregnancy and many have even met their babies outside of the womb before they had to say goodbye. For me my losses occurred when most wouldn’t have even known about the life that was growing inside them and if they had they probably would have suffered through the loss quietly. For me though, I let it out there. I can’t suffer alone, I’m just not that person.

So yesterday I turned to the infertility page I am on and let it out there. It may not be a physical place I can go but it is somewhere I feel safe and never feel guilt. It is day’s like yesterday where a lot of us retreat as the term “rainbow baby” begins making it rounds on Facebook. It’s a term that not a whole lot of people know but recently it’s been getting some attention so I thought I would talk about it today. I placed the definition above but I wanted to explain why it’s something that is hard for some of us to see. It’s not that we don’t like the term, I think it is beautiful personally. It stands for hope to me and hope is basically what keeps me going. But, it’s also a term that I can’t even think about without feeling guilty. While I yearn to have a child, whether or not I will tell people that the child is my rainbow baby is something that eats at me often, especially of recent. You see, there’s a lot of us who feel we didn’t experience enough pain to earn that term. But, last night I came across something that helped ease my guilt. Suffering is not a competition and just because someone else may have suffered more than me it does not excuse my own pain. So while I felt guilt yesterday I do not today. What matters is that I lost something precious and no matter how fleeting my barely conceived babies were they still existed and thus they deserve to be remembered.

The day hasn’t come yet where I can say this is my rainbow baby, but when it does I think I will say it proudly. After all, the term came from the concept of it having to rain in order for a rainbow to come and I think I have endured plenty of rain.

That Light, Pink Line

Sometimes, moments of hope bring the most pain.

 

When I met Mark I saw a future that I didn’t ever think about. It sounds corny I know, but I suddenly realized all I really wanted was a family of my own. It’s not a huge dream but it was my dream and that was enough. I started dreaming about raising our own kids. We’d take them to church every Sunday just like my parents had done with us. We would teach them to be kind, I would teach them to love reading, Mark would teach them how to shoot, and how to be brave. I had a whole future planned for us by the time Mark asked me to marry him. Everything was falling into place, or so I thought.

Then everything sort of unraveled. I kept getting sick and landed myself in the hospital twice while my husband was deployed. I had been to the ER a few times prior over ovarian cysts I kept getting. Doctor’s didn’t really seem concerned so they would just give me pain medication and tell me to follow-up with my primary care doctor. Of course, nothing came of it so it settled back into the back of my mind. Then one night my heart rate decided to just shoot up. It didn’t really alarm me till the next day when I realized it wasn’t going down and it was starting to hurt. So back to the ER we went. The doctor’s found that my thyroxine levels were extremely high. I was given beta blockers to lower my heart rate and a referral to an Endocrinologist. Again, I didn’t really think much of it.

When I finally got in to see my Endocrinologist I had to get a Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test, where I basically had to swallow some sort of pill and come back later for a scan that took forever to see how much of the radioactive tracer my thyroid absorbed from my blood. From that my doctor diagnosed me with Grave’s Disease. I was then taken to a room where a panel of doctors laid out my options for treatment. I was a little overwhelmed by so many people firing off their opinions on what was best so I chose what was in my opinion the least invasive – Antithyroid Medication. It seemed pretty simple, take the pills and my thyroid function would hopefully go back to normal. I was upset when I learned I’d have to wait till my levels got back to normal to try to get pregnant but again I thought I’d be okay and went along with it.

Some time went by and the pills just were not working. My thyroid levels were fluctuating dramatically and to make matters worse the pills were extremely difficult to swallow. They tasted so bitter and for some reason I found it hard to take them without tasting them. I was irritated because all I wanted was to get back on the baby making train. I knew my health was important but I was starting to doubt my ability to wait. Then, I developed a case of hives that would not go away. I went back to my Endocrinologist who decided to switch me to PTU which my body responded to much better. I was told to wait a few months and then I could start trying to get pregnant. I was happy. Good news for once.

Everything seemed to be back on track for me. For the first few months I really thought that all that waiting was over. I was convinced I’d be pregnant within a few months and so I told my husband we shouldn’t stress about it. We’d just let it happen naturally. Three months into that and I started getting antsy and so my obsession with buying ovulation tests and pregnancy tests began. I became what people in the infertility world call a Pee on a Stick Addict. I read everything I could get my hands on that dealt with getting pregnant. Many of the things I read said stress would affect your ability to get pregnant so I did my best to not be stressed. Then, I’d say about 7 or 8 months into trying I started to panic and so I joined every TTC group I could find. I learned how to temp, how to chart, how to read cervical mucus, I learned and tried about anything and everything people suggested. We used special, sperm friendly lube that cost a ton. Nothing was working. It had been over a year and a half at this point and I was angry. I was angry at the people who got pregnant so easily, I was angry at the people who had kids, I was angry at my doctors for giving me hope, and I was extremely angry at myself.

I stopped liking myself. I couldn’t give up on my dream and yet I was so tired of it all. It seemed so hopeless and every month that went by, every two-week wait (that time in between ovulation and period time) I would get my hopes up and then sit in the bathroom and cry as I held another negative test in my hands. It was infuriating and I didn’t think it could get much worse. Then worse came. It was the first of what would be several where I would get a positive. I was so excited. The first positive pregnancy test I got, I rushed to show Mark and my friends. I was beaming as I showed my friends at the pool one day. I hadn’t even had it confirmed by my doctor yet, but I didn’t care. I thought we’d be okay, I thought this was a win. And then it was gone. That positive line faded the closer I got to Monday when I could go in to confirm the pregnancy. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening and everything online was scary.

Monday came. I was a week late for my period by that point. I started bleeding that day and so I didn’t go to confirm. I knew it wasn’t a good sign and I just didn’t want to let my hope go yet. At least at that point all I had was fear, I could still hope I was wrong. On Wednesday I went to my pcm who explained what a chemical pregnancy is. She explained that they are fairly common when trying to get pregnant. Most people don’t notice they’ve happened because usually you will only be a few days late before you start your period, the ones who do catch it are usually the ones that are testing before their period. Basically it’s any miscarriage that occurs before or at 6 weeks. It all sounds so clinical, like they can’t acknowledge that there was something. Even if it was small it was something. I didn’t know how to feel. Of course, she went over how it was normal to still feel grief and that if anything my period would just be a little heavier than normal and then she sent me on my way.

I tried to push it to the back of my mind. Telling the one’s who had known about it, that it was gone was awkward. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. On one hand I had been pregnant but on the other all I had to remind me of that was a very light, pink line. The bleeding was just like a normal period for me and to be honest I had hoped it would be worse. I wanted something to remind me that it had been there, but nothing did. A couple more months went by and I pushed it all back into the deeper parts of my mind and focused back on TTC again.

Then… I got another light, pink line. This time I didn’t say anything. I told one person in confidence and decided to wait to confirm till the line got darker. After all, I was testing early again. The line never got darker. I was pretty sure I knew what it meant but I tried to hold hope. Another trip to my pcm confirmed another chemical pregnancy. At this point my pcm was a little concerned and told me that if it happened again she’d want to see me. Sure enough a month later the same thing happened. I went back to my pcm after the bleeding was over and she decided to try me on prednisone around the time implantation would occur if we were successful in fertilizing the egg that month. Supposedly prednisone helps with implantation and preventing early miscarriages. Unfortunately, for me it didn’t work.

And now we have arrived back to the part of the journey I am currently at. I’m not trying right now as my husband isn’t here to try at the moment and I am waiting to be seen by the infertility clinic. Hopefully the beginning of November my husband will be able to get his Semen Analysis and I will hopefully be seen by the end of October. It’s been a rough two years of trying and I know that it may be a while longer and maybe not the way we planned for it to happen but one day I’m going to be a mom. And once I have that sweet baby of mine, all the pain and the tears will be worth it.