Friday, September 2, 2016

Feared Happiness

It's difficult to know where to start to describe my thoughts and emotions right now. I'm so very happy, but I have this nagging fear that keeps creeping into my heart.

I am 9 weeks pregnant.

This is what I wanted. Deeply. I imagined that once I was able to get pregnant again I would feel intense joy. But that wasn't exactly what happened. For one, I wasn't expecting the positive test when I read it. Sure, we had been trying, but I had settled into the mindset that it could potentially take some time because of my surgery in April. Secondly, my grief process after surgery was complicated. I didn't grieve heavily immediately afterwards. I actually felt relief. An ectopic pregnancy can be very dangerous so I initially felt relief that I was under care of a fantastic midwife and a fantastic physician who helped save my life and preserve my future fertility. But, grief did come to me. Certain days and certain events would trigger something in my brain that made me relive my miscarriage from 2012 and then also realize that something similar had just happened...again. The day I found out I was pregnant again happened to be one of those days. I had spent my afternoon and evening grieving and then that night I found out I was pregnant. I had to reach out to my closest friends immediately, not because I was even ready to share this news, but because my emotional state felt so raw and unsteady that I knew I needed their support right away.

The very next day started a myriad of testing. At my surgery follow-up appointment my doctor had said that I would, unfortunately, have to have a bit of a "pessimistic" (his exact word) mindset right at the start of learning I was pregnant purely because I was now at a higher risk for a repeat ectopic pregnancy. Once my lab values indicated we would be able to see an embryo, I had an ultrasound to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. I don't know that I've ever been more anxious than those minutes I spent in the waiting room waiting for that ultrasound. I was shaking and had tears welling up in my eyes.

This is not an ectopic pregnancy. This is absolutely amazing news, but I noticed my fear was not relieved. I found that I was still waiting for anything bad to happen. I have miscarried before, after all.

Thankfully, I have been feeling more content with my pregnancy lately. This likely has to do with my already rounder lower abdomen and the other first trimester symptoms that I'm feeling. I am incredibly thankful to be feeling these crappy feelings! When I learned my progesterone was low and I should begin injections, I was not happy. I felt that perhaps my body was "failing" again. When my progesterone levels proved to be rising very well, I did feel happy! This is all still so early (which is terrifying), but I want to be able to talk openly about how I'm feeling. This is healthy for me. I also think that this could help me in feeling excitement rather than dwelling on the "what-ifs".

Phew. I need to be transparent right now and share that writing all of this down has realllllly brought on some deeply scared feelings. I feel no shame in requesting all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. Oh, and for you curious people, my estimated due date is April 4th, 2017. :-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This Wasn't Part of the Plan

As I write this I am 3 days post-op from my laparoscopy. Also, it has been 3 years and 1 day since my first earth baby was born and it has been exactly 4 years since I learned my very first baby had no heart beat.

Early May wields a heavy blow.

Physically and emotionally speaking, I truly have been doing well since surgery. I've been surprised by my lack of sadness. I was sad and scared the day just before surgery, but from the moment I woke up from anesthesia I've simply felt relieved. Today, though, has been a struggle in a way I wasn't anticipating. Babies bring your body hormones and when that baby needs to be removed from your body, those hormones shift, and boy have they been a-shiftin' today. I tried to go to work, but after an hour I headed home. My exhaustion and my migraine have been kicking my butt this entire day. Also, my mind has started to entertain thoughts of the future, but it's different now.

I know I want more children. My pregnancies, births, and postpartum experiences with Eleanor and Beatrix were so healing for me. After trying to have a baby without success for a great while, and then losing our first baby, I was wrecked with fear and I wasn't certain my body could handle the task of having a baby. I know many women would wholeheartedly disagree with me, as their experiences are their own and not mine, but for me there has been no greater time than my first few weeks with my new baby. I accomplished this great task called childbirth and it was exhilarating. I felt such empowerment and strength after birthing my babies and in those immediate weeks that followed I felt so much pride introducing the world to my new child. I loved constantly holding my new baby, I loved changing my new baby's diaper, I loved nursing my baby, I even loved waking with my baby...sometimes.

Now, though, the process is tainted again. I cruelly joked with myself that I only have a 50% success rate carrying babies so far. While it isn't incorrect, it also isn't a healthy viewpoint. Fear has crept back into my life. I'm not sure how long Phillip and I should pause now. This recently lost baby was planned so perfectly. I was so pleased with how it all came about and how my postpartum experience would be even better this time around, but now that's gone and I can't make sense of what another time might look like. Will my next pregnancy end with a baby? When is the right time? Is there a right time? That damn 50% keeps ringing in my ears. I've spent time today really assessing this life of mine. My miscarriage was real, yet now it seems so long ago. My surgery was so recent, yet it doesn't seem like a part of my timeline. No one ever plans for things like this, but even now that it's a part of me, I still can't seem to quite accept it. Did this really happen? I just had surgery?! The worrying part is the closer I get to acceptance of this truth, the closer I creep to the fear of it all happening again. I know I should be content with my two amazing children, but when I consider the possibility of no more children, of straying from MY PLAN, my perceived happiness, my brow furrows and sadness overwhelms me.

This is the story written for me. I don't know the ending and I'm only just coming to terms with the middle plot. I am exhausted. I am uncertain of many things. I am certain, though, that during this very difficult past week, I have felt some of the most tangible love from people in every facet of my life. My coworkers, my family, my church family, my dearest friends, and distant acquaintances have blessed us in ways great and small. I suppose that is how I can continue to walk and make sense of even the most unsettling things in life: I have love in my life. I want a plan. I want to know all of the answers. I know that's not reality for any of us, though. There is fear and darkness, but there is also love and light. With time, and with help, I'm sure I'll feel the light's warmth.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Beatrix Kay

I woke up around 2:30AM on September 12th to regular contractions occurring about every 2 minutes and lasting 30-40 seconds each. They weren't terribly severe, but after a couple hours, I figured I should call Janice (my midwife) since they were so close together. Since I didn't sound to be working terribly hard to overcome the contraction pains, Janice suggested I take a bath, take some Tylenol, drink some water, and see if the contractions die down or endure. Even though the bath was really relaxing, the contractions continued. I was hoping I would be able to get some more rest after the bath since I was pretty tired, but the dang contractions prevented it. The contractions were particularly annoying because even though they continued, they weren't picking up much at all in severity.

Because the contractions kept going, I was pretty convinced I was going to meet my baby that day! I was quite disheartened, though, because it was seeming as though this labor was just going to take f o r e v e r , which I really hadn't anticipated. We spread the word to the masses and our loved ones started heading our way and making arrangements. Phillip went off to class for a quiz because I was confident that I wouldn't be having a baby anytime too soon. Not too long after he left for school, though, I texted him saying the contractions were more intense so he should try to take his quiz and then head back home. He agreed, but it wasn't more than an hour later that I texted him again saying the contractions were lightening up! I was seriously so confused by what my body was doing.

For the rest of the afternoon I only had sporadic contractions. Mom, Eleanor, Margot, and I went on a walk to see if that would rev things into a higher gear, but...nope. I was beginning to feel guilty thinking that all these people were headed our way to celebrate a new baby that wasn't even going to be making an appearance that day, after all.

Around 6:15-6:30PM the family (my mom, my dad, Phill's mom, Trey, myself, Phill, and Eleanor) all sat down for dinner. This is also when contractions started back up again. The contractions were painful and again starting to form a pattern, but I wasn't even thinking of them being actual labor contractions anymore. I had essentially convinced myself that it wasn't going to be tonight, especially since it was already evening. For the rest of the meal, I made frequent pauses to get through the contractions. My mom and Phillip's mom both stated they thought I seemed to be working much harder to overcome these contraction pains. After laboring around the dining room for a while and experiencing quite a bit of pain, I started to realize (although not quite believing it) that these must be true labor pains. I finally called Janis at 7:15PM. We agreed that I would labor and then call her back after 30 minutes to check progress. However, only 7 minutes after hanging up with her I had Phill call her back to have her go ahead and make her way over. I was having a hard time dealing with the contractions, so I knew I wanted her there. I also knew it would take her at least an hour in travel time.

I made my way upstairs to the bedroom and asked Phill to begin filling the birth tub. His mom helped me change into my bikini top. I was really struggling physically and mentally. The intense bodily pain I was feeling after such a short amount of time convinced me that I wasn't handling this labor as well as I did with Eleanor's birth. I remember saying things like, "I don't know what to do" and "Nothing is good!". I couldn't find any sort of comfortable position. Somehow, I ended up on all fours on the floor of our bedroom. It nearly seemed like I was beginning to feel the urge to push. I couldn't help but embrace that feeling, and then my waters broke. It was so surprising; a big ol' explosion! I remember my initial thought, after surprise, was fear because I just knew this meant things were actually about to get more strong and intense. I simply wasn't sure how I would be able to handle it. Phill called Janis to tell her my water had broken. He called her back just 6 minutes later to report that I was saying I felt like I needed to push. She was still on the road in Roanoke. The tub was only half full, but we all began to realize this baby was COMING. No time to wait for a full birthing tub! I then began crawling around the floor assisting and instructing "the moms" to cover the floor with plastic tarp, towels, and absorbent chucks pads. Janis was on speakerphone steadily giving instruction. Praise the Lord for Phill who had read through the "In Case of Fast Labor" instructions we were given. He was so in the zone and focused on delivering the baby properly and safely. It may have been an incredibly quick experience, but it's still impressive that I never for even a second saw a glimpse of doubt on his face. Other than overcoming the physical battle I was enduring, my only thought was getting the baby out and ensuring the cord wasn't tight around her neck. Mom J. and Mom O. were kiiinda freaking out, but reasonably so!

A contraction came on. I was on my knees on the floor next to the half-full tub. I swear I wasn't even pushing yet but baby was coming down and out so I had to make the conscious decision to push the baby out. More pain? Yes. Burning? You got it. I had my hands down feeling for a cord around the neck and Phill had his hands in place to catch the baby. With that one push, Beatrix Kay entered this world with a cry, perfect in every way. I glanced at the phone; it was 8:04 PM. Less than 2 hours since active labor began. I looked her over intently while making sure she was covered with the towel. I quickly noticed her dark hair just like her sister had, and vernix across her back and head differing from her sister.

It's safe to say shock was the overall feeling in the room! I didn't know what else to do, so I just brought her to breast to start nursing. We all sat there examining sweet baby and discussing our disbelief with what had just happened when Janis finally arrived and began looking us over and taking the reigns. Shortly after she arrived I felt another contraction and delivered the placenta. Janis cut the cord.

Tash arrived at some point shortly after delivery, as well. So many exact details are blurred in my mind because the whole process went so ridiculously quick! I feel like I'm leaving holes in the story, but I also know there wasn't a lot of time so perhaps there really aren't too many holes missing anyway! Elissa, the birth assistant RN, arrived, too, and the rest of the time was spent examining myself and baby. Beatrix's lungs were a bit congested so Janis began working to get her to cry to help clear the lungs. This turned out to be much more difficult than you could imagine! This sweet newborn just did not have have anything other than a little cat-like meow cry in her! Ultimately, of course, her lungs cleared out anyway and all vital signs were good.

Beatrix was nearly identical in size to what her big sister Eleanor was at birth. Beatrix weighed in at 8 lbs 3 oz (just one ounce more than Eleanor) and measured 20 3/4" in length (identical to Eleanor). I was stunned, and THRILLED to be finished with the crazy difficult labor pain. Did we really just deliver our baby on our own?! We'll always have this impressive, bizarre story to tell. It still blows my mind that I went from thinking it wouldn't be that day to birthing a baby all within the matter of a few hours.

There are literally no pictures of the labor or birth because no one had any time to take any!