Friday, August 12, 2016

My PAL Journey: Weeks 1-9

Pregnancy After Loss is more easily referred to as PAL.  I'm hoping to document MY pregnancy after loss - or my PAL journey.

Pregnancy after loss is different. High risk pregnancy with hyperemesis after MULTIPLE losses at various stages of pregnancy for several different reasons is filled with sheer terror.  As much as I WANT this baby, as much as I already LOVE it, I’m barely HAPPY or excited.  Anxiety & Fear are the dominant emotions and dwarf any competing thoughts.

I’m only 9 weeks pregnant and have already spent over 5 weeks with life at an absolute standstill. It’s been an adventure.  It isn’t even that interventions are needed so much as caution and awareness based on past history.  As of now, things are good. Meaning if I was an “ordinary” pregnant woman I’d be going in for my first routine visit just now. But I’m not normal. So every symptom must be investigated.
The emotions this time around are all over the place. This post talks more about that.

First came a week of blood draws every 48 hours (and I’m a hard stick so that took a lot of work – but worthwhile since we found my progesterone is low and supplements are needed) concluded by an ER visit for severe lower-left-sided abdominal pain (where my only remaining tube is).  I told the ER it is either a cyst on the ovary (called corpus luteum) or an ectopic pregnancy.  With a history of ectopic/tubal pregnancy it was important to investigate.

The ER told me there was no cyst, my uterus is filled with fluid from a subchorionic hemorrhage, and that there was a gestational sac (step 1), a yolk sac (step 2), and fetal pole (3) with no cardiac activity (4th step) and most likely the baby was dead.  Here’s the thing about being pregnant 15 times and being a “professional patient” of sorts: I knew that some, if not all, of that is incorrect. At the ER they know a little bit about a lot of things but I know at 4 weeks and 5 days along there most certainly is NOT a heartbeat and that is EXPECTED & normal.

2 days later I had a follow up ultrasound at my usual clinic with my usual trusted tech. NO free fluid, no hemorrhage, YES to the corpus luteum cyst (told ya), and this time there is a possible but not definite yolk sac within the gestational sac but there was NOT in the ER ultrasound (they viewed the records). I knew that.

3 weeks ago the ultrasound showed this time a clear yolk sac AND a heartbeat in the fetal pole.  The heartbeat was lower than the size I was measuring BUT it was perfect for the true to life dating of 5 weeks and 6 days.  The baby itself was measuring a week bigger and that’s very unusual at this stage and they didn’t know what to make of it. So there was this new fear if all would be okay or not.

The following week (7weeks) we found perfect measurements & perfect heartbeat (as in if I never went in for all these tests all would have been just fine).  The measuring big is due to some weird globby in my uterus next to the sac – it is easier to tell now that it is scar tissue because my poor uterus HAS been through a lot this past year. I just gotta laugh.

The ultrasound at 8 weeks and 4 days looked amazing as well! All is on track - growth, heartbeat, etc.

Having Hyperemesis is like morning sickness on steroids. I’m normally active, over scheduled, and multitasking but have been reduced to a bedridden mess. The nausea is so bad that if I try to take a shower I throw up while I’m in it. Yup. That sexiness continues in all settings - like throwing up in the car. Yum.

Life is on a survival mode now – take meds, sleep, try to force some food down, cuddle with the kids. I’m blessed to have people in my life that support me- who are taking the kids to their appointments and caring for them when I struggle to. That alleviates some of the misery.

I’m scheduled to receive hospital IV fluids and meds twice a week.  I’ve been for a couple weeks now & although this is helpful it IS hard to be in the Maternal Assessment Center and hear women in the other rooms hooked up to the monitors. Hearing their babies healthy heartbeat. Watching them head to delivery – to be on the other side of the stressful pregnancy part.

I'm gonna whine a bit more here: I am a hard stick especially when it comes to IV lines.  Each time I come in for fluids it generally takes more than one try to successfully set up a line.  My veins roll away and blow.  The day of these photos was 3 pokes and once they had a good connection they used that SAME EXACT SPOT 4 MORE TIMES.  On that 5th day the vein blew and my skin puffed up and burned.  It's really not all that pleasant.

So, here I am.  9 weeks.  I had another scare - this time with a fair amount of spotting and cramping. It stopped the next day.  I have not been in to the clinic since then BUT I do find the baby on my home doppler every day! I love that reassurance.

I've officially been transferred for care to the Perinatal Clinic (high risk specialists) in Minneapolis.  I am in great hands and they know my medical history well and I love how familiar the doctor is with each patients file.  I trust this medical team.  The doctor looks up from my chart and says "Wow, you just can't make this stuff up."

I started my blood thinner shots this week.  I hate them but understand why they are important.  I am also on baby aspirin the duration of the pregnancy & progesterone supplements until week 12.  The plan is the same as usual.  I will take 17P injections weeks 16-36 to prevent preterm labor (this has been successful for me every time).  They monitor cervical length as well as weekly heart tones and check ins.  We are doing all we can do but since nothing is "wrong" this is ultimately in God's Hands, as it is with any pregnancy.

Guys, I really want this. Like, we are all putting in the work and investing in this pregnancy.  This child is loved.  I can't wait for our happy ending to arrive.