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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Most Pregnant I've Ever Been

25 weeks, say what?!?! That's right...we made it another week with Baby M snuggled up inside my uterus. I am happy, and relieved, to be able to say this is the most pregnant I've ever been! It makes me feel like we're finally getting this pregnancy thing down and doing all the right things to ensure our first live birth.

Today we had our level II ultrasound with the high risk OB.  We got some stinkin' cute pictures and a clean bill of health for Baby M! This little one is now 1 pound 11 ounces, with a heart rate of 138, and measured 25 weeks 1 day today.  We have a wiggle worm for sure.....there was constant leg kicking, arm moving, hand waving, and fist punching during the ultrasound.  It was the cutest thing ever:) And the best part was when the baby would move and I could see and feel it at the same time! Baby M is also very stubborn-he or she would not move away from the placenta and off the cord so we could get a good look at the cord insertion which was the whole reason we were sent for the high risk ultrasound to begin with.  The baby is literally head down in birthing position already. 
From what we could see, the placenta has moved away from the cervix completely.  My cervix is still long and closed.  And as far as the cord insertion-I'm just as confused as ever.  We've been told by our regular OB that it's a marginal cord insertion. But today the high risk OB said it looked more like a velamentous cord insertion.  Velamentous is the more serious and concerning of the two.  She's basing this assumption off of where the cord is actually inserted into the placenta, but also said the umbilical arteries don't look like they split into the placenta like a normal velamentous insertion.  However, that could be because we could not see it that well based on where the baby was positioned. 

So what do we do from here?  The high risk OB said she will talk with my regular OB about a monitoring plan.  She would like to do one more ultrasound in about a month to look at the cord insertion again to see if we can make a better determination of what type it is.  I know my regular OB wants ultrasounds every 3 weeks until we reach 32 weeks the way it we will probably have two more ultrasounds in the next 6 weeks.  And then once we hit 32 weeks I will be getting weekly non-stress tests and ultrasounds until we deliver! The high risk OB is referring us for the fetal echocardiogram as standard IVF baby protocol even though Baby M's heart looks great. 

With today's somewhat bad news I could let anxiety creep back in but I'm not gonna let it.  Baby M is growing normally and is as active as can be.  I'm healthy and the happiest I've been in a long time.  And God didn't bring us this far in our journey to leave us.  His protection surrounds all of us.  He has blessed us with a wonderful team of medical professionals that will deliver this miracle baby and place this baby in our arms for the first time.  In 15 weeks or less we will all be rejoicing and celebrating the arrival of Baby M.....I truly believe this now. 

Next week is my glucose test (it got pushed back a week) and in two weeks is my baby shower! I'm looking forward to celebrating the third trimester and revealing Baby M's gender at the shower:)  By the way-no, we don't know if its a boy or girl yet but my husband and I will find out very soon! The rest of you will have a wait until May 17th though...sorry! I am happy to say our first home that we've rented out the past 2 years is officially sold and we will now be hiring a contractor to come in and help get our current home "baby ready".  We've been working on our upstairs remodel since August 2012 and have made small strides towards its completion since my husband has done almost everything by himself (I helped with the demo and my dad helped with the drywall).  Our bedroom and Baby M's room will be upstairs along with a third bedroom that's being converted into a bathroom.  I. Just. Want. It. Done.  I'm wanting to get into nesting mode and can't do that yet and it's about to drive me crazy! We've already gotten a few baby items (the rock-and-play, a rocker/glider, a second car seat base, the swing/bouncer combo, the pak-n-play my sister gave us, and lots of stuff from when I was pregnant with Riley-clothes mostly) that I so badly want to find a place for.  Hopefully by the end of May the nesting process can begin!

Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate our way through the next 15 weeks.  And wish my husband a Happy 31st Birthday coming up this Sunday!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

We Made It!

Guess what today is?!?! If you've been following our baby quest journey, then you probably guessed right! WE MADE IT TO 24 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!! Baby M is still kicking and wiggling around inside of me. Some days I feel like he or she is doing somersaults.

It's such a great feeling to have reached our second goal of this pregnancy.  Our first goal was to make it to 12 weeks since all of our miscarriages happened before our 12 week ultrasound.  And once we made it passed that goal, we needed to make it to 24 weeks since our first daughter was stillborn between 23-24 weeks.  Our next goal is to make it to the third trimester for the first time ever.  And our goal after that is to give birth to a crying, screaming, healthy baby! I'm so proud of my body today.  It has not failed us this time....and even though I know there is still time that it could fail us, I'm going to believe that it won't. I'm going to repeat this pregnancy affirmation over and over to keep myself calm the remainder of this pregnancy:

Can you believe that in 16 weeks or less Alex and I will finally be parents?  It has been a real struggle for me to actually picture that happening.  But this past week I felt this unbelievable peace that I had not felt in a long time.  There was no negative thinking this week.  No thoughts about giving birth to a stillborn baby.  No thoughts about having to plan another funeral for a child we would never get to see grow up.  No thoughts about needing a back up plan if this one doesn't work out for us.  I just felt with every kick that I could feel that this baby is going to make it out alive and turn the pain we've felt for so long into a joy that we've never felt before.
Next week will be a big week for us.  On Tuesday I will have the glucose test completed and on Thursday we will have our level II ultrasound with the high risk specialist.  Lots of prayers appreciated that both appointments will go well, and hopefully we will get a better picture of Baby M to share from our ultrasound next week since all we got was a picture of Baby's M's spine from the last ultrasound!
Speaking of today's title-"We Made It"-I want to give a big shout out to some girls that I've become great friends with through our journey's to parenthood.  My friend Molly just welcomed her twins, Harper and Ezra, into the world on Tuesday at 35 weeks. These two adorable babies are her rainbow babies after having an early miscarriage at the beginning of last year and going through several months of fertility treatment.  And my friend Rachel is 11 weeks pregnant with rainbow TRIPLETS after having two previous early miscarriages and also going through fertility treatments.  We have all made it past our furthest loss and have done it with the amazing support we all give each other.  I love being able to see my fertility and loss friends come out on the other side of this long and draining journey.  It makes my heart so happy for them and to be able to go through these journeys together is pretty amazing:) That goes for all my online friends too-so many of us have been together through the loss of our babies and now through our rainbow pregnancies!
Many wishes for anyone reading this today, that one day you will be able to say "We made it" too! Lots of love and baby dust:)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Make Me Brave

It 3:52am on Sunday morning in Ohio as I start typing today's post.  I am at work and struggling to keep myself awake for another 5 hours before I get to lay my head on my pillow.  Its been a long time since I picked up overtime let alone a third shift.  I try not to work Saturday nights anymore because it prevents me from going to church on Sundays which I've enjoyed doing since I started going back to church last summer. 

Since I will miss out on worship service today, I decided to do a little bit of my own worship service in my office. I started thinking about a song that I recently started hearing on the radio and that has quickly become one of my favorite songs-You Make Me Brave by Bethel. This song has entered my life at such a pivotal time frame.  A time when fear could overtake me. A time when the words of the Devil could flood my mind.  A time when I could easily forget about God and what he has done for us and will continue to do for us. 

I watched a video tonight by the writer of this song about the meaning behind the song.  She explained that she woke up one day with the realization that she did not have to be afraid because God is by her side and is helping her through every storm that she has ever been through and will ever go through.  And that is exactly how I feel about this song.  Looking back at the storms I've been through, as angry as I would get with God, I couldn't have endured the crashing waves without him holding my head above the water. I wouldn't have been able to find a life boat. And I wouldn't have been able to float back to shore.

I think about the fear that I've had the past three and ahalf weeks of this pregnancy.  It's only natural to have fear when your a pregnancy after loss mom, especially when approaching the weeks where your angel babies were taken from you.  And it's even more natural to be afraid when you learn something isn't the way it's supposed to be during what is supposed to be your Rainbow Pregnancy.  So considering my first and furthest loss was 24 weeks due to a cord issue and we found out a little over three weeks ago that we have a cord issue that can cause growth problems and stillbirth, I was very anxious about the possibility of losing another baby.  But this song has reminded me that God is with us every step of the way, and he is making me brave and helping me face my fears.

I sit here and can feel Baby M kicking away as I type.  There has been a peace that has come over me this week even though we have not made it to 24 weeks yet.  We are a few more days away from that milestone.  And even though I had a terrible dream Friday morning about our baby dying, I knew the dream was ridiculous and did not let it put me in a funk...maybe because the baby I delivered in my dream had a bunch of tentacles instead of legs or maybe because my eye doctor was the one who delivered the baby in my dream instead of my OB? Or maybe just because I believe that Baby M is growing perfectly and has God's protection surrounding him or her. 

For anyone going through a storm right now, for anyone buried in fear, and for anyone who is pregnant again after loss-I hope these lyrics resonate with you the way they have with me.  You are one brave soul-and you will get through this too. 

Here is the link to the song:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

Today we celebrate the best news imaginable at this point in the pregnancy. Baby M is still swimming around inside my uterus in a pool of his or her own urine and is doing wonderful! I am 22 weeks, 4 days-but Baby M is measuring ahead at 23 weeks 3 days and weights a whopping 1pound,5ounces with a heart rate of 160:) We could not be happier with the progress this little miracle has been making despite the obstacles that stand in its way.
Once we found out about the marginal cord insertion three weeks ago our anxiety level started to rise and worry found its way back into our hearts.  Hearing that the cord insertion could cause Interuterine Growth Restriction took me back to Riley's pregnancy and death.  She was measuring on the small side and between 23-24 weeks was born with the cord around her neck and with the cord being extremely thin where it attached to the placenta.  I didn't remember them ever telling me she had a cord insertion, but I think there were things going on in my pregnancy with her that I just wasn't told about to be honest.  The simple fact that she died, as far as we were told, from cord complications and we were having cord complications again-I seriously wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  After all we've done to ensure this baby would be brought into the world, and then something like this that we would have never been able to prevent and only happens in a handful of pregnancies just had to happen. 
But I believe that God is protecting us this time.  Baby M is already bigger than Riley was when she was born a week further along than Baby M is right now.  That brings us a huge sigh of relief! And it gave me the confidence that I needed to put my baby shower invites in the mail following our appointment today.  We were also told that the placenta moved a little bit further away from the cervix so there is a good chance now that we may not need a c-section after all.  It doesn't matter to me to be quite honest....but I do know the further away the placenta and cord are from the cervix the better it is for the overall health of the pregnancy because there are a lot less risks involved for the baby.
Our OB is sending me to a high risk specialist for an ultrasound just to cover all our bases.  We will have a fetal echocardiogram done during that ultrasound since IVF babies are at a higher risk of heart defects.  But Baby M is not showing any signs of heart problems so not to worry.  I'm hoping to get in to the high risk doctor in two weeks and hoping we can celebrate being the most pregnant I've ever been at that appointment! The next appointment I will have thought is the lovely glucose test on April 28th....I've heard they aren't much fun, but hey....I've never been able to do one before so I will celebrate one more milestone accomplished once I get to that point! Until the next time we get to see Baby M on the big screen-just keep swimming little one!
I'm leaving you with some belly and baby pics today! Hope you enjoy:)
Baby was butt up, head down, and curled up in a ball during the ultrasound today! This was the best picture we could get.
The bump is growing, growing, growing! And I've only gained 3 pounds according to the scale today-it's all baby inside that bump!



Friday, April 10, 2015

If only I could Help Her the way She has Helped Me

Since today is National Siblings Day, I am going to dedicate today's post about my sister.  I haven't talked a whole lot about my sister since we found out we are pregnant, other than continuously saying how grateful we are to her for giving us this opportunity.  A lot of people have asked or wondered how she has been doing now that her part in all of this is completed. So here goes.

My sister has been in an off an on again relationship for the past three and half years.  The past two and half have been torture for me to watch.  And it's only gotten worse since last year when we started talking about egg donation.  The hard part is knowing what my sister wants, and knowing I can't do anything to help her get it.  I have an immense amount of guilt that I am sitting here 22 weeks pregnant with a baby that she helped us to conceive and I can't do anything to make her relationship with this guy better or can't just magically produce the perfect man to sweep her off her feet. 

I've tried to take away her pain by telling her over and over, until I'm blue in the face, that she is a wonderful person who deserves a guy who respects her and doesn't toss her back and forth like a duffel bag. 

I've tried to tell her how much of a piece of crap I think this guy is and how she shouldn't invest all her time and energy into him when he doesn't do the same for her. 

We've (my husband and I) have tried to tell her how gorgeous she is and how she could get any man she wanted if she could just allow herself to move on without this jerk. 

I've tried to tell her how good she's doing for herself and how much better she is than this douche bag. 

But nothing has seemed to work.  Nothing makes her feel she is good enough.  Nothing makes her feel she is worthy of love.  Nothing makes her feel strong enough to walk away and stop looking back.  And I don't have a magic wand to wave in front of her to make her realize these things. 

 What do you do when your sister is hurting and you can't take away the pain?  There are few problems in life that we can truly help our siblings with.  My sister watched me in emotional pain for the last 7 years as we lost our babies one by one.  She can never take away the pain that losing them has caused me.  She has been able to lessen it by still recognizing my feelings and doing special gestures like getting me a mother's day gift or taking my niece to the cemetery and talking to her about her cousin Riley.  But she can't bring my babies back.  That's something she can't fix. 

But what she has attempted to fix is my inability to become a parent and to carry a child who I can give birth to.  She is taking away the pain of the thought of being a childless mother and my husbands pain of having no biological children. And for that....there are no words great enough to express the amount of thanks we owe to her.  So being in a situation where I can't repay the gift that she has given me and take away the pain that she has been feeling for so breaks my heart.  I want to see my sister happy just like she has wanted to see me happy. 

I honestly dream of the day that I can stand next to my sister holding her bridal bouquet with tears in my eyes as she says "I do" to the man of her dreams.  I can't wait to be able to give my speech at her wedding reception.  Crap...I'm tearing up now just thinking about it! This girl really has no idea how much she deserves to be happy and to have a completed family.  If only I could help her the way she has helped me.

Please pray that my beautiful, fun, and goofy sister finds the happiness she is so deserving of!


Monday, April 6, 2015

The Best, yet Worst, part of Pregnancy

Ever since losing Riley at 24 weeks, my biggest fear has been that my body just isn't capable of carrying a baby to term.  After having three miscarriages following Riley's death, it just exacerbated those fears even more.  But doctors were convinced it was just my poor egg quality that was to blame for our recurrent loss.  We thought for sure since all my ultrasounds showed tons of eggs inside my two ovaries that IVF with pre-implantation genetic screening would surely work for us if egg quality was the case and all we had to do was find one normal egg.  But it didn't work and sucked all the confidence that I had in my reproductive system right out of me.  Every last egg they got was tainted with some form of abnormality. 

So when we were contemplating our next steps for building our family after our failed IVF cycle, it was hard to imagine that anything would actually work for us.  I had a friend who was pregnant and kept telling me she would gladly carry our baby for us-but that meant we would have to wait so many months past her due date and come up with several more thousands of dollars, and we obviously couldn't use my eggs because they down right suck.  My sister offered us her eggs but definitely did not want to carry for us so that meant I had to try to carry again myself or take my friend up on her offer of being our surrogate.  After finding Dr. Braverman and coming up with a game plan for treating the issues that we thought were impacting my ability to carry our babies all along and deciding to use donor eggs from my healthy 23 year old sister who already had a healthy 4 year old child and was in no rush to have more children of her own and who did not carry the chromosome issue that my eggs carry, we felt like we were on the right path and regained some confidence in my uterus to do the job it was intended to do when God made me a female instead of a male like my parents were told I would be until the day I was born. 

This pregnancy has been full of anxiety from the very beginning.  At first I was terrified that I would miscarry every time I saw a drop of blood on the toilet paper when I wiped and every time I would be doubled over in pain from cramping.  But this little nugget proved to be a fighter just like it's momma and has hung on for dear life.  I started feeling more and more confident with every ultrasound where we heard glowing reviews on how Baby M was doing in there.  And then we hit 20 weeks and found out the cord is not attached in the proper place of the placenta.  Anxiety began taking over again and filling my head with thoughts of having to bury another baby.  Dr. Google only made my anxiety worse after reading how rare umbilical cord insertions really are and the risks associated with them.  Yet stories from other mom's whose babies had cord insertions brought me some hope and made me feel like it's going to be alright.

But you know what, we never know that things will be alright.  We can never be too certain or confident that things will just work out for us.  All my adult life I have been plagued with horrible luck.  Things have not worked out for me...for us.  I always seem to have something "rare" going on with me.  I'm kinda sick of being rare.  I'd really love to just be normal for once.  I'm absolutely terrified that our bad luck streak is going to continue.

 The only reassurance that I have right now are the moments when I can feel Baby M kicking.  Most mom's would say this is the best part of being pregnant...and they are probably right.  It's amazing to think that there is a little human growing inside of me, and it brings me such happiness when I can feel that the baby is actually there.  But the moments of stillness paralyze me with fear.  Logically I know that the baby isn't going to kick all the time, yet when I can't feel any kicking my mind instantly remembers the day that Riley stopped kicking and I ignored my gut feeling that something was wrong.  All I can say is thank God for the fetal doppler to calm my worries during these moments when Baby M is just trying to relax, or sleep, or whatever he or she is doing in there.  I used to use the doppler once a week just for the fun of it because I love hearing the sound of our baby's heart beating.  Now it's getting used every two days for reassurance when I need it.  And I'm sure it's going to be this way for the remainder of this pregnancy.  As long as I can feel kicking or hear the heart beating, I will know all is well in there. 

We are approaching 22 weeks and are just one week away from our next ultrasound.  I got to speak to my OB on the phone on Friday and she changed my ultrasound to Tuesday morning so I could see her instead of the nurse practitioner since she knows how anxious I've been these last two weeks.  She also discussed the cord issue with me to help me understand it a bit more.  Now I know that it's called a Marginal Cord Insertion which is rare but not as rare as the other form of insertion, Velamentous.  She also informed me the cord is underneath the placenta right over the cervix so if my water happens to break we need to get to the hospital ASAP because it is too dangerous to deliver vaginally.  I told her at this point I'm 100% okay with having a c-section because I just want the baby out safely and she told me that I have the right attitude about everything that is going on.   She will be sending me to a high risk specialist for an ultrasound and a second opinion on the cord/placenta issues and just to make sure all our ducks are in a row.  We will continue ultrasounds every 3 weeks until 32 weeks. Once we hit 32 weeks we will be doing non-stress tests twice a week and an ultrasound every week to monitor the baby's movement, growth, and my fluid levels.  If need be, the baby will be coming out early which I am so glad to hear! I think we have a great game plan moving forward and I have all the confidence in the world in my medical team to make sure our baby is born alive and healthy.  But like my doctor told me, we are all going to hold our breaths and keep praying until that day happens.  The anxiety is just going to be there and I'm just going to have to keep working through it like I always have.