While sitting here on the couch watching the new season of Giuliana & Bill reeling with crazy intense heartburn I can only assume is caused by this little one in my belly, I'm reminded of how we got here. This post is incredibly appropriate since October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I feel that it's important to talk about the struggles we incurred while trying to conceive because sometimes it's nice to know there are other people out there who have or are struggling, too. Not every person can get pregnant "on the first try" or when they're "not even trying". A Random Note - these are phrases that should only be uttered when you know the surrounding company has had the same amazing fertility luck that you have, otherwise you may get punched in the throat ;o)
Back in December, I shared our story up to that point in my One Day in December, I Feel Lucky post - at that time last year we had gotten pregnant and miscarried after a very rough few weeks. We also believed we were having issues getting pregnant again. In late December after a chat with my lady doctor I had an ultrasound just to ensure everything was in working order and thankfully it was. So we kept trying - counting days, taking basal body temperatures, the whole nine yards - all while attempting to still have fun and not become crazy, baby-making obsessed people.
At this point we were a few months into the new year and I began to put two and two together - my periods had always been 100% predictable and never incredibly painful, but for the past several months (we're talking at least since September) they arrived a few days late and were completely out of the norm for me. Even though I had been a few days late each month, I wasn't taking pregnancy tests each time because I didn't want to get my hopes up. . . see "attempting to not become crazy, baby-making obsessed people" above :o) Anyway, I started to think that maybe I was getting pregnant each month, but it wasn't lasting long. Ilario agreed that this could be a possibility so we kept trying.
The next month we got a positive pregnancy test on March 19th. Sadly, I miscarried a few days later on the 22nd. On a positive note, this miscarriage happened all at once instead of lasting several weeks like our first one the previous February. This was the final straw for us - we needed answers so we made another appointment to see my doctor a few weeks later. Then began the most frustrating few weeks of my life - the doctor didn't agree with or truly even listen to anything we had to say. She simply shook off ours thoughts of getting pregnant and losing it each month with a, "Probably not." When asked what our next steps were (at this point we'd been trying for well over a year), she proceeded to treat us like a couple who wasn't getting pregnant. Her course of action was to have Ilario tested and for me to begin treatments for ovulation and have testing to see if my tubes were open. Meanwhile, we're incredibly annoyed because I could feel my ovulation each month, not to mention I had recorded my basal body temperature for what seemed like forever at this point, and having already been pregnant twice I knew at least one tube was open. When asked what they would do if I only had one, she replied, "Nothing." So what are we doing all this for, Lady?!?!
I wasn't settling for any of this. We had Ilario tested then I started to call and chat with the nurses before doing anything else she suggested - someone was bound to listen to me, right? They agreed to write up a call for a Thrombophilia test to see if I had some sort of clotting disorder. While I had absolutely no family history of miscarriages, the possibility of Thrombophilia was always in the back of my head because I knew several people who had dealt with it while pregnant. The nurses agreed and I had a 8 vials of blood drawn (oh the joys!). Then I waited. And waited. Finally, after the full two weeks they said it could take for the results I called to check in. My awesome doctor got the results back (which were negative), never called and then went on vacation. Hey, thanks, Lady! The nurses said there really wasn't anything more they could do so they decided to refer me to a specialist.
While all of this was going on, I had a predictable, normal for me period. Why? Because Ilario and I didn't try to conceive that month. In my mind, this solidified my theory and I was determined to figure out why I was getting pregnant each month, but unable to carry it longer than a few days or weeks.
A huge double blessing came in mid-May in the form of another positive pregnancy test and a last minute cancellation at Reproductive Gynecology in Akron. I had an appointment to see a reproductive endocrinologist just three days after I found out I was pregnant.
When Ilario and I met with Dr. Mooney he simply sat there and listened to us. It was amazing - that's all we had wanted this entire time! He then proceeded to list off all the things they do for someone who is suffering from recurrent miscarriages - HE BELIEVED ME, another amazing sound to my ears! Before we even left the office they took a sample of Ilario's blood and made an appointment to do the same for me the next morning. If I thought 8 vials was bad for the initial Thrombophilia test, I was in for a rude awakening - they took 11 vials that next morning to test things like karyotype and to re-test for Thrombophilia because apparently my first test appeared to be missing a few things.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mooney immediately started me on a course of Progesterone pills, folic acid (on top of my prenatals) and low-dose baby aspirin. We then scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound on June 4th. That was the day we first heard our little one's heartbeat and got to see its tiny beginning. It was a dream come true - absolutely unbelievable. Though incredibly ecstatic, we were far from relieved because we were only 6 weeks along. That was when everything started going downhill the first time around, but we felt hopeful hearing a heart beat - something we hadn't experienced before.
We continued to see Dr. Mooney each week and at 8.5 weeks (a point we had never before reached) he finally had our blood test results back. He said I had MTHFR and PAI1 - the first a form of Thrombophilia and both genetic deficiencies. Why my first doctor's test hadn't found this out weeks earlier, I'll never know, but thank God it hadn't been an issue. He went on to explain that since I had made it this far that this pregnancy probably wouldn't be affected, however, if I came in for my next appointment and my baby had no heartbeat they wouldn't look so smart :o( He also said that my deficiencies (I'm like an X-Man, but not as cool!) put the baby at risk for low birth weight and me at risk for preeclampsia and premature labor. We had a decision to make, continue as we had been with just the Progesterone, folic acid and low-dose baby aspirin or add a twice-daily Lovenox (a blood thinner) injection to the mix through my 20th week.
While stabbing myself in the stomach twice a day wasn't exactly the way I had planned on spending my next 12 weeks, Ilario and I wanted to do all we could to make sure this baby arrived as planned, safe and sound. So I began the injection regimen - every 12 hours, twice a day. After the first injection I bawled like a baby and just knew there was no possible way I could ever do this. Thank God my mom was here to read back through the instructions with me and calm me down so I would try again. That second time, with a little baggie full of ice to numb the area, was like heaven compared to the first shot. With some continual self-pep-talking I made it through those 12 weeks and if you're faced with the same thing know that you can, too! Some days it's awful, but most of the time it's a breeze - you eventually find your "groove" so to speak and it is just one extra thing you have to do each day.
Ilario and I continued to see Dr. Mooney through the rest of our First Trimester and we were so blessed to get to see and hear our baby each and every time. I don't know how "normal" pregnant ladies can stand not getting to see their babies each visit, it was amazing and exactly the reassurance we needed. Our final appointment at Reproductive Gynecology was July 18th. Typically, I would have started seeing my original OBGYN at this point, but since she had done nothing to help me reach this point I decided she was no longer an option. I loved the practice she was at though so I thought I'd simply switch to another doctor and I made my first appointment there. Most larger practices will have your first OB appointment be with a Midwife and I was no different, even at 15 weeks pregnant.
My hopefulness and optimism at this appointment were struck down time and time again. During that short visit, I was told approximately 15 things I didn't want to hear - ranging from the fact that if I delivered at the hospital we had chosen and my former doctor was on call the night I went into labor that she would be delivering my baby (NOT gonna happen, Folks!) and that I was going to need to take injections the entire pregnancy, switch to Heparin a month before my due date and get induced a week early. Oh, and by the way, "You're doing your injections wrong". It was awful and I was heart broken (and in a lot of pain when I tried to give myself the shots the way the midwife instructed - also not happening!). I had felt so comfortable, confident and downright awesome the entire time we'd seen Dr. Mooney - I had every right to be a nervous wreck, but he put me at ease (and made me laugh at every appointment with his smart-assery, lol!) and I realized that I truly needed that. In one hour, the mid-wife made me nearly have a panic attack and totally freaked me out.
So we decided we'd search for a completely new practice with a new doctor - a very scary thing to do at 15 weeks pregnant. After asking the opinion of friends and family, we came across Dr. Stewart - a high risk OB with his own practice. Everyone that had worked with him sang his praises and when I met him for the first time (at 17.5 weeks) I had all the same reassuring, comforting feelings I had experienced with Dr. Mooney. It was settled, Dr. Stewart was our man!
Ilario came with me to what is typically known as the "Anatomy Scan" appointment because not only did I need support in saying, "No, we don't want to know the baby's gender", but I also needed help with the fact that they were going to have me stop taking the Lovenox injections (at this point I was past 20 weeks). Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled at the idea of no longer having to shoot myself up every day and night, but I was so afraid at what could happen when I stopped. Once again, Dr. Stewart and his entire staff reassured me that all was well and the injections were no longer needed. MTHFR is such a common deficiency and thankfully mine is heterozygous, which is the least scary version.
So here we are at almost 24 weeks with a heartburn causing, hiccup-having blessing growing large in my belly (at our last ultrasound we were told the baby's head is in the 98th percentile, so I don't lie about the large part - lol!) - I can't even begin to describe how thankful I am to be having this experience and how indebted I am to the fabulous doctors that have been with us throughout this journey. It's so joyous and simultaneously crazy - especially knowing all that it took to get here. I am so looking forward to the next 16 weeks and to meeting our maybe not-so-little one :o)
For all the mommas-in-waiting out there, know that it's possible - don't give up, ever - no one can take away your dreams of becoming a parent. Maybe it's not in the cards for you to carry your child in your womb, but know that one day you'll be carrying them in your arms and that's what is most important. God bless and good luck!