Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's all in the genes

I survived yet another appointment at the OBGYN on Monday.  Nothing much really, just three gallons of blood being removed for testing and other unmentionable women tests.  It is still too early to hear the heartbeat although we can see it on ultrasound, there was no ultrasound performed at my last appointment,  so there has been a pit in my stomach ever since.  We will have to wait until tomorrow to nervously anticipate our baby's heartbeat on ultrasound.   Tomorrow's appointment is a DNA screening, not the normal type that pregnant women get at their normal OBGYN.  No, no, no, we get the special treatment.  Our DNA tests will take place in the neonatal unit at the hospital and while the normal test does an overall scan, our scan will test for anything and everything they can test for.  By taking blood and taking measurements via ultrasound, I would not put it past the doctor's to find out what our little offspring's SAT scores will be or at least put our minds at ease that our child is healthy and thriving.  We're not worried about CHARGE reoccurring, the chances of that are too minuscule.  Ok, it is in the back of our minds, we are 1 for 1 on having a child with a genetic disorder.  We don't know anything else but bad news.  Christmas will be a joyous time for us on some levels, but in the back of our minds we will be wondering what we will find out about our unborn child after the holidays.  The truth is, these types of tests are scary no matter what the circumstances, but especially when you've already lived through it once and know what's coming if the news is not so good.  I keep thinking about how tomorrow's appointment falls on the 23rd of the month, the same day of the month that Trey was born.  Our first ultrasound was on the 23rd of November.  So far, the 23rd has brought us good news during this pregnancy, I am hoping the luck continues.  I just can't wrap my head around something so tragic happening to us again, it's all too familiar to my heart. I want to deny that anything that terrible could ever happen to us again.  And the roller coaster continues...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2nd Verse, same as the first?????

They say every pregnancy is different which I am sure is true even in the most normal of circumstances.  But my definition of "different" is WAY different, so to speak.  My first pregnancy was a breeze up until a little over six months.  I LOVED every minute of it, for better or worse.  I loved my pregnant body, reading the books, getting the scans, going to the doctor, progressing to the next week, month, or trimester, the clothes, the movement of the baby, EVERYTHING!!!  Every doctor's appointment and milestone was exciting and the time flew by.  For seven and a half months I lived in a world where nothing bad could ever happen to me or our baby.  It never entered my mind, despite the circumstances of those near and dear to me, I KNEW it would not happen to me.  Every thing was going to turn out just fine!  I fully expected to experience pure bliss during all of my pregnancies.

In this case, the second verse is not the same as the first.  It seems like a lifetime ago that we found out that we were pregnant, the time just creeps by.  Each appointment fills me with anxiety and dread, the back of my mind always filled with the what ifs.  With each scan we have had, my heart stops until I see the baby's heart ticking away.  Every trip to the bathroom is accompanied by worry.  Though the joy is ALWAYS there, so is the fear of something happening.  I am sure if Trey would be fine and toddling around right now, I would not be so wound tight.  My anxiety has led me to speak to others in my support groups about their experiences with subsequent pregnancies after a loss and they all have similar stories so I know I am not off my rocker totally.  There is a lot of fear and worry among our group of women who have lost babies.  Losing a baby makes one realize that no matter how careful you are, how healthy you are, or how responsible you are, you might still become a statistic, one of the percentage who lose a baby.

Someone told me recently not to even think about something negative happening with this child or the pregnancy.  The reality is something bad CAN and WILL happen EVEN if I cross my fingers, pray, make three wishes, blow on a dandelion, live in denial, blow out my birthday candles, wish on an eyelash, or click my heels three times.  There are just some things that are out of my control and it sucks to face that reality, but it's true.  We can only hope that this time, things go smoothly.  I am not sure I will ever understand or know why we were chosen to lose our first born, as for what happens in the future only time will tell.

We spent so much time fearing that we would never become pregnant again and those fears have been squashed.  With our new joy, a new fear comes into play.  Don't get me wrong, we don't go around biting our nails and sweating with nervousness, though these feelings are always with us.  With every positive appointment and ultrasound we breathe a sigh of relief.  Lots of elements about this pregnancy and the child developing inside me make us smile, laugh, and look forward to the future with our child.  We try to keep ourselves in the positive and focus on what we do have control over with this pregnancy, like healthy choices and taking care of ourselves as individuals and as a couple.  I don't expect us to be worry free anytime soon, but I am hoping that with each milestone passed and each development checked off, our minds will be more at ease, readying us to hold our healthy son or daughter while we greet him/her into this world.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Beginning, a very good place to start

It's been a long road for John and I to have another baby, not as long as others, but long enough for us.  We spent nearly a year trying for a baby.  Lots of folks say that if you just relax you'll get pregnant, I would like some scientific proof on that one.  Both of our pregnancies are the results of careful planning, timely approaches, attention to every detail, and an obvious amount of pressure on both of us.  There are people that can get pregnant just like that, WE are not those people.  We have to follow the schedules, take the vitamins, plan our "get togethers", elevate my feet, bicycle, take my temperature, pee into fetility calculators, and, dare I say it, look out for the dreaded discharge (EWWWW).  Kudos to those who are lucky in fertility, but the rest of us have to work a little harder and we don't want to hear that we need to relax.  That is the last thing we are able to when juggling every possible strategy of conceiving a baby.

But like I was saying, after nearly a year of trying for a baby, our OBGYN Specialist told us that there was nothing more he could do and he referred us to a fertility specialist.  Needless to say I cried for a week!  We both knew that this step in our fertility treatment was going to start to get expensive.  A silver lining showed itself when our insurance company told us that diagnostics and office visits to the fertility specialist were covered 100%.  I went in with the attitude that they would perform some tests, find a minor problem and we would be on our way.  I readied myself to hear EVERYTHING the doctor had to say, surrounded by a new partner and two interns.  My eyes glazed over when he said $3000-$4000 a month with a 20 % success rate.  I wished then an there that my husband was there to hear everything else the doctor said because at that point I had checked out.  I caught glimpses of his speech like daily shots in my a fatty areas (pick a spot, no REALLY!) and something about John having to make love to a Tupperware container (I thought this was quite a flippant way of explaining that John would have to give a sperm sample twice a month).   The icing on the cake was that we had already exhausted the diagnostics that would have been free under our insurance. After what seemed like hours, I left the office numb and finally broke down in sobs as I called my husband to relay what little I had allowed myself to hear.

The water works resumed for another week, yet in the course of that week I was able to email the nurse with a long list of questions I had after the fact.  After two weeks of email and phone tag, she finally responded.  What was I being treated for?  Some condition that was a million letters long and impossible to pronounce.  How many weeks would I have to take the shots?  Throughout the first trimester.  With every question that was answered (there were ten all together) our decision on what step to take next became clearer and clearer.  John was against the torture that my body would go through during this procedure, so his answer was no treatment.  That cemented my decision, a firmer no.  Fertility treatment is a relatively newer technology and I was not so sure about the side effects and consequences of using the variety of injected chemicals that would be required.  How would they effect me, both presently and in the future?  What would they do to our unborn baby?  It was also our belief that babies ought to be created biologically rather than at the hands of chemists.  Others have a different belief and are able to endure and pay for the procedures that will lead to conception, that is their right and their choice.  In our minds, if it were meant to happen naturally, then maybe it wasn't meant to be.

So what was next for the Chathams?  We still wanted kids, we just knew we would have to go at it a different day.  We began prepping ourselves for the adoption process in early 2011.  We also turned our backs on western fertility methods and researched eastern practices such as Dong Quo and acupuncture.  Taking these steps forward took a lot of pressure off of me and gave me something to look forward to rather than a rocky road to continue traveling on.

Fast forward to the day that I am two weeks late, not a big surprise for us ladies whose cycles show up whenever they please.  I followed the ritual of taking the pregnancy test just knowing that it would be negative.  I wasn't even going to look at it until after I piddled around the kitchen doing a few things to get ready for the day.  Well, I HAD to look at it when I accidentally knocked it on the floor when leaving the bathroom.  And what to my wondering eyes did a appear?  Two pink lines, and they were VERY clear!  I grabbed the test and ran up the stairs to our bedroom, panting a chosen cuss word in the process and for the second time, John found out that his wife was pregnant while he was in the shower.  John repeated his performance from the first time around insisting that I take another test tomorrow.  He cautioned me not to get too excited yet (NOT A CHANCE IN HELL!).  Before I left for work, he called me "Preggo", kissed my belly, and reminded me to make an appointment with the doctor.  With that, the next leg in our journey had begun.

It was amazing to us that after all of the bad news we had heard, we were pregnant all along.  We were reminded of when we were trying to sell our condo and the stager had us buy all of this furniture, but before the furniture even got there, we had a contract on the house.  So much for $5000 worth of furniture, or for that matter, $3000-$4000 a month in fertility treatments.  Nevertheless, our fears of never having another pregnancy were put to rest, giving us much needed peace after nearly a year of uncertainty.  We both looked to the heavens thanking God, but also thanking our son Trey.  We know in our hearts that our dear son had a little something to do with our miracle pregnancy, and it gave us comfort to think that he hand picked the soul that inhabits the growing fetus inside me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

9 1/2 weeks

So here we are, pregnant with our second child.  It sounds so weird to say considering our first child is not with us.  Ever since we found out we were pregnant, I have been flooded with emotions, happiness, relief, thoughts, fears, joys, anxiety, memories, and more fear and anxiety.  I haven't felt this many mixed emotions since we lost Trey.  At that time in my life I wrote about it, sharing my journey, bumps and smooth sailing alike, with my friends and family.  It gave me such peace to put into words the struggles and triumphs of our tragedy and the year following, although there are not enough words, not the right words to truly express what I was going through, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I struggled with the decision to chronicle this pregnancy, fearing the backlash I might receive via my honesty and candor.  It puzzles me now why I am so concerned about it now, but I wrote so freely for a year about a situation much more tragic than a welcomed pregnancy.  On the other hand, there are things that I have already experienced in this pregnancy that I am sure would turn heads and have people telling me to chill out, and that's the last thing I need to hear.  So I have decided to go with my gut, to bring to light the realities of being pregnant after suffering the loss of a baby.

Not a lot of people openly discuss losing a child I found, and I am sure even fewer share the journey of a pregnancy following the loss of a child.  Most of the responses I received while journaling about the loss of our son were uplifting, gracious, and supportive.  I would like to believe that by sharing my journey, I helped other parents who were struggling, or at least shed light on the topic of child loss so that friends and family would have a better understanding.  That's my winning lottery ticket fantasy anyway.

With that said, I will not apologize in advance for my honesty and sincerity, I only apologize for the words that escape me.  This writing process is dedicated to my soul and the release that it will bring my soul to expel the nightmares of the past through journaling.