30 January 2019

Little Sister

If you listen to old wives tales about pregnancy symptoms being related to the sex of the baby then Natalie should have been a boy. I had no morning sickness and virtually not a lot of other symptoms. I let that idea go to my head and I really did believe I was having a boy with her.

This pregnancy has been identical to the first. That made me believe I am having another girl, but I convinced myself not to get attached to that idea because I was wrong about the gender the first time. I even joked to a co-worker that my intuition is so wonky that I think this baby will be a boy since my gut feeling is telling me it's a girl.

Much to the delight of Natalie who wanted a little sister, IT'S A GIRL! Matt and I found out together at my sonogram, then filled a black balloon with pink confetti and had a mini gender reveal party. My sister in law, nephews, and some neighbors came over and we watched Natalie's face light up as pink confetti flew into the air!

The next day at school Natalie did a gender reveal of her own for her teacher and even though she wears a uniform she accessorized it with pink from head to toe. Her teacher was happy and excited too and eve let Natalie go to her former kindergarten teachers classroom to give her the news, which I thought was super sweet and thoughtful.

I am so glad to bring another child into our world of love and support within the community and our family.

20 weeks pregnant 

28 January 2019

Brother or Sister?

Tonight I write this with only a few hours left not knowing if my child will be a boy or girl. While I'm excited for the big reveal tomorrow morning, I have been enjoying the mystery thus far. It's been fun to switch between imagining life with another little girl and the bond I hope her and Natalie will have one day like only sisters can, or envisioning a fun, energetic little boy who will take our family on new adventures. I am so happy that my daughter gets a sibling. Having siblings myself I can safely say that whether it's a brother or sister, either way they'll drive each other (and Matt and I) crazy. :)

Little baby, whoever you are I love you so much already and I know that our connection will only get stronger from here. I can't wait to see you on the sonogram screen tomorrow and your big sister sure is excited to find out if you're her little brother or little sister. We're all so lucky to have each other.

22 January 2019

First Kicks

As special as things like the first time you hear your baby's heartbeat, or first time you feel your baby kick is, it's hard to remember exact dates of these events if you don't document them right away.

It's said women who are pregnant for a second or more time feel a baby kick earlier than first time moms. I don't remember what week it was when I felt Natalie kick for the first time, I do remember I had a doctor visit and the doctor told me I would feel the baby soon, and sure enough either that day or the next I felt my first real movement from her. 

I've been trying hard to tune in to my body and any little rumble I feel I want it to be the baby. I have felt a sensation that I can best describe as the feeling of carbonation in my belly for a few weeks here and there. I do believe those were probably the baby moving around, but it's so subtle that it is hard to say for sure. 

Everything I read says moms should feel the baby move by 18 weeks, and given that this isn't my first child and second time moms are supposed to feel it earlier, I was feeling really anxious that I haven't felt something for sure. A few days ago I tried bending down, poking my stomach, I even shone a flashlight on my belly in hopes to get the baby to move and feel it. Nothing worked. I woke up as I do sometimes in the early morning hours on Sunday night/Monday morning about 3:30 a.m. I was laying on my left side and felt a definite kick. It made me so happy and relieved. 

Today I was laying down on my back, watching T.V. and felt a pretty big kick, followed by some smaller motions. I laughed and then cried a little as a typical hormonal woman does. I am so happy! 

15 January 2019

Proceed with Caution

You may expect that from my last (very lengthy) blog entry that much anxiety came into play when getting a positive pregnancy test after an early miscarriage this summer.

It was Saturday, October 13th. I woke up feeling a tinge on nausea. I was getting ready for work, or maybe I took the test before getting ready, I don't know, but I took it and there it was: two vague pink lines. It was so hard to see I thought I might be imagining it.

I took the test downstairs and woke my sister who stayed the night to ask her if she could see it too. I told her it was really faint and to look closely at it under the light. She told me she could see it too, and then said, "that's crazy," before shutting her eyes again.

I got the validation from her I needed that it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me. I checked my dates and did the math, and sure enough it all added up to what could be a successful pregnancy. I was excited, but cautious. So cautious, I didn't even tell Matt yet.

My period was due the next day, so I nervously expected it to begin at any moment and trample on any hope I had. What added more to my fears were the cramps and stomach pain I started experiencing. It was now Monday, two days after my positive test. Just as I had foreseen, some light spotting began. I didn't delay in calling my new doctors office and telling them what was going on. They got me in for an appointment later that day.

I went through the standard proceedings at the doctors office: blood work, vitals, lots of questions, and my doctor said she was going to do an ultrasound. I was pretty nervous, I wasn't sure what would be seen on the little black and white monitor and I did not want to see an empty sac or baby without a heartbeat.

Turns out, not much could be seen, which was relieving. She told me there was a cyst on my right side that was found in pregnancy called the corpus luteum. That was the extent of my appointment, and I went home still unsure of anything.

I got a call later that day with my pregnancy blood test results. My hCG levels were 17. That to me was confirmation of a pending miscarriage, since last time my levels were only 20, so surely them being even lower was bad. I was upset and cried and deleted the pregnancy app I felt I had so foolishly started using, but I reminded myself if it was going to happen, it might as well be extremely early on. They told me the same thing as the last time my levels were checked in June: come back in two days for more testing.

Two days later I had my day planned to go in for more blood work. Matt and I were out for a morning walk, I left my cell phone at home. When I got home I had 5 missed calls and a couple text messages from my boss saying: call me, it's an emergency. I was a bit annoyed, thinking she locked herself out of the salon or something along those lines. I called her back and she answered in one breath saying, "She's okay, but Brittany is going to the hospital," Brittany is my sister and co-worker, the one I showed my positive test to.

Before she could explain, my mind jumped around to possibilities of why my sister was going to the hospital. My boss told me that Brittany was hit by a car while crossing the street on her way to work. Concern grew to furry. I already knew my sister was in the crosswalk with the right of way to cross, because neither one of us are stupid or risky in that way. I got so angry with the driver, knowing it was their fault for not paying attention.

Once the confusion of the chaos and figuring out exactly what happened and if she was injured settled, I knew I would be going with Brittany to see the doctor. She has Kaiser insurance, so we had to go out about 25 minutes away to the closest urgent care, since she refused the ambulance/ER.

Hours went by of waiting for x-ray and CAT scan results, but somehow she walked away with only bruising and pain, no internal damage and she was ALIVE, which was super important. In that time of waiting I was able to sneak off to the lab at the urgent care facility for my blood work, since I have Kaiser as well. There was so much relief that everything was okay with my sister, even though I was still upset about the ordeal.

Later that day I called my doctors office to see if my results were back. The nurse told me news I did not expect to hear. My hCG levels were up from 17 to 44! I couldn't believe it. That meant I was pregnant after all. On a day where I could have lost my sister I found out I was carrying a new life inside of me. I thought about how screwed up everything could have ended up, but how lucky we were it didn't. It was a crazy day of every emotion imaginable in me. Confusion, fear, anger, sadness, hope, relief, happiness.

After all the disarray resolved itself I told Matt the next day that we're going to be parent's again. I am now 18 weeks pregnant and though anxiety still runs high, I am so happy and excited to be fortunate enough to have this little being to grow and nurture in me.

08 January 2019

Chemical Pregnancy: My Miscarriage Story

Many times in my life I have heard the term: the miracle of birth. (In fact, I think I watched a disturbing video titled that when I was 12.) I thought that phrase was a bit exaggerated. After all, babies are born literally every single day, there's nothing miraculous about it. It was completely ordinary, that's what living creatures do. Man was I ignorant about the human reproductive system and how many things have to go right in order to actually create a baby.

Getting pregnant with Natalie was a breeze. We started trying in January 2011 and by March 2011 we conceived. I knew that those results were not typical for most couples. We were certainly very lucky and grateful that it happened so soon for us.

Fast forward about 5.5 years down the road when we decided to start trying for our second child. We had been on the fence about the decision for a long time, mostly thinking we were one and done with kids. We finally decided in July 2017 we wanted to go for it.

I cheerfully made the assumption that it would again be super easy to reproduce this go around. It was the first time, right? Same two people, older and a bit more banged up than before, but we already made one human together with ease, why would another be challenging?

After three cycles with no success I got a bit discouraged. One mistake I feel like I made was telling people that we decided to starting trying for another child. I don't know why I felt the need to share that with a few co-workers, I guess because I thought it would be a quick process, but being asked repeatedly if I was knocked up yet was a big reason I threw in the towel so quick. I was like, well damn, I'm not pregnant, this isn't working, I quit. It was also embarrassing for people to know I yearned for another baby and my body wasn't producing one. I just needed a break from thinking about it, so we put trying on hold for a few months.

We resumed again in January 2018. February. We skipped Marched. Then April. I was obsessively taking pregnancy tests each month. I mean like 7 or 8 tests in a couple days span. (You can buy test strips in bulk for $20 bucks on Amazon.) I would get negative results each time, but whatever, they were cheap tests, probably not accurate, so I kept taking them thinking it was wrong and holding out for two pink lines. In April my period began right on time, starting with some typical light spotting. I had just taken a negative test two days before, so now here was my proof it wasn't a faulty test.

The spotting continued, followed by my regular time of the month flow for a few days, followed by more spotting for several days, then heavier bleeding, then spotting, then stopping, then a bit more bleeding and finally ending with more spotting. This lasted into May, on and off for about 3 weeks total. I was a bit concerned, but prolonged spotting happened to me in March as well, so I just figured it was something my body did sometimes and moved on.

I had been tracking my ovulation using an app called Ovia along with taking ovulation tests each month to know when my peak time to get pregnant was. At the end of May was when I knew I would be fertile, but life was super hectic at that time. My two year old twin nieces were staying with me while my sister Courtney was out of town for major shoulder surgery, so it was almost impossible to think about trying to get pregnant, let alone actually find the time to do so. When the opportunity somehow presented itself for us to have sex, we did. I didn't take an ovulation test that month, I just went with the hunch that the timing was correct.

Then came June. 6 days after I should have ovulated I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. while my nieces were napping and Natalie was at school, and I got super weepy on a scene with a baby in it. I've always been a very emotional person, but I paused and thought I was being overly hormonal, even for myself. An idea clicked and I got a surge of excitement. I went upstairs to take a pregnancy test. I waited, expecting the same outcome I had been getting each month. Then, very faintly, two pink lines appeared. I. Freaked. Out. I cried tears of happiness! So many joyful feelings ran through me! FINALLY I got my positive test!

Then the joyful feelings left, and logic set in. I checked my ovulation app to confirm dates.  I only had sex/possibly ovulated 6 days prior. I knew even once the sperm and egg meet it takes about 10 days for implantation to occur, and until implantation happens you cannot get a positive test. So it dawned on me: the on and off bleeding in April must have meant a miscarriage, and my body had just enough hormones left to give off a dull positive. But if there were enough hormones now, certainly two days before my period was due in April I would have gotten a faint positive too. Maybe I was pregnant after all! Maybe implantation happened freakishly quickly. OMG, what if I was having twins!? Twins produce stronger hormones than one baby, so it seemed feesable. But no, all the bleeding wasn't right. There was no way I didn't have a miscarriage.

This was the emotional roller coaster I was on for how ever many days it took me to get in to see my doctor. Back and forth between sheer excitement and happiness and then disappointment and fear.

I kept taking tests every day, waiting for the lines to dissipate, but they remained unchanged. I scheduled the appointment only revealing to the receptionist that I took an at home pregnancy test and it came back positive. When I went in for the appointment the nurse was friendly, asked me for a urine sample after taking my height and weight and then lead me to the exam room. She asked me if this was my first pregnancy, and I told her no, I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter. She congratulated me on my current pregnancy, asked about the medicines I take, took notes, and then left.

I waited, feeling nervous, for the doctor to come in. After an unusually long time, she finally entered the room. She greeted me, and then said, "So you took an at home pregnancy test and it came back positive?" and that's when my heart sank and I knew theirs said otherwise. I explained to her that I wasn't delusional, and I took many, many tests all displaying the same thing: two faint pink lines. I don't remember if I started crying then, or after she replied, "I believe you," but my god, I became a bawling mess.

I explained the whole situation to her as best as I could. The bleeding, when I would have ovulated, the negative test and how my period came on time. I asked if miscarriages can coincide with your period due date and she said yes. She told me the urine tests they use in the office look for a hormone level over 50, and we would do a blood test to check my levels. I just kept sobbing, even as the nurse lead me to the lab for blood work. I pulled myself together enough to not have tears rolling down my face when we got there. I remember having the sniffles hard when the lab technician was drawing my blood, and she asked me if I had allergies, which I lied and said yes.

Later that day, or maybe it was the next day, it's all a blur to me, my lab results were back. My hormone level was at 20, which could mean a super early pregnancy, or a resolving miscarriage. Great. Still no answers. I was told to come back in two days to see if my levels doubled or not. I did just that, and I know the results for that particular test took two days, because I went in on a Wednesday and I got the call while I was at work on Friday with the conclusion: my levels were now at 10, so that meant miscarriage.

I cried in the coat closet at work and a co-worker comforted me, one who knew I was trying for another kid. When I was off of work I had to make another trip to my doctors office for a Rhogam shot, since my blood type is A-. (It's a confusing medical thing that I don't even really have my head wrapped around, but if your blood type is RH negative and you're pregnant with a baby that has RH positive blood, the bloods can mix and this can cause an issue.) I didn't ask in detail why I had to get the shot after a miscarriage, I was told it would protect future pregnancies, so I just did it. I had to go back two weeks later to see if my levels dropped to 0. They did and the doctor gave me the green light to resume trying to conceive.

Statistics say that about 15-20% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage. They say recognized, because  some women miscarry without ever knowing they were pregnant. I was almost one of those women, I almost didn't know I had had a miscarriage. Just like everyone's body adjusts from miscarriage at different paces, so does their heart. I wasn't glad I lost what could have been, but if it was bound to happen to me I was certainly relieved in the way it transpired. I could only imagine how heart broken I would be if I got more attached to the idea of the pregnancy being viable. In a less than ideal situation I knew it could be and often is always worse.

03 January 2019

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! 5 1/2 months until our baby arrives, or as Natalie pointed out, maybe earlier.

Natalie: You and Daddy have been married 7 years, right?
Me: 7 1/2, it'll be 8 in May.
Natalie: Oh, May what?
Me: May 28th, so the end of May.
Natalie: So almost June. You're going to be very pregnant on your next anniversary. The baby might even be born, since some babies are born early.

Thanks for the dose of reality, my smart girl!

This new year has started off well. I obviously wasn't hungover on the 1st, so that was a plus .The weather was nice, mild with a bit of a breeze but no rain. We took a family trip to the playground, then went out to lunch, then did some shopping at Target where Natalie burned through her Christmas/birthday gift cards and some cash she's saved and bought a giant LOL surprise toy. She spent the rest of the afternoon playing with it, then we headed to my father in laws house for a delicious steak dinner.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day were good, minus the random stomach bug Natalie ended up getting the night before Christmas eve. We went out to dinner at Outback, then at about 1 a.m. Natalie came in our room and complained of a stomach ache. She had been on and off sick since her birthday, but that was with more cold like symptoms. She eventually ended up getting physically ill, so Christmas eve I stayed in bed with her all day, trying everything in my power to make her comfortable. She wanted me right by her side every waking second. By nightfall she was still in kinda rough shape but well enough to visit at Matt's mom's house where family was having dinner and then exchanging gifts. She perked up once she was there and we had a great time visiting and opening gifts as well as watching our nephews enjoy their gifts.

Christmas day was spent at my parent's house. My niece Bridget is so sweet and waited until we arrived there in the afternoon before she opened a single present. I told her she could get started without us, but she said it was okay and she would wait. Not an easy task for a 9 year old to do! We played games and lounged around on the couch for awhile after gifts, then I helped my 12 year old niece clean her (very messy) room and redecorate with some items she received for Christmas. We ordered Chinese food for dinner, so no one having to cook was involved, and it was great. Then we popped by my sister's house who lives a couple blocks from my folks but didn't make it, and saw more of my nieces and nephews, who I don't get to see often.

Today was the first day back at school, and I sure do wish the winter break were longer, just to have more time together. I always enjoy my time with just my girl, but knowing how much life is going to change with a sibling on the way just makes me want to be together even more.