birth story

The Birth Story

My pregnancy lasted forever. Perhaps it is because we knew so early that I was pregnant, but it never seemed to end. Getting to the gender reveal was such a big milestone. I couldn’t believe it was finally here. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Andy and I both took the day off of work so that we could fully enjoy it. They told us right away during the ultrasound that we were having a boy. We were both thrilled. We were going to have a crazy, fun little boy running around our house soon. I couldn’t contain myself. We went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants downtown after the ultrasound to celebrate and then we went to Buy Buy Baby to pick out his crib bedding set. I didn’t want to do anything to the nursery until we knew the sex. We couldn’t help but talk about names. Oh, the name game. This game would continue for quite some time. Poor H. It took us forever to pick out his name.

As the pregnancy went along we didn’t have any major hiccups or issues. There were lots of little things to do and watch, but nothing that was insurmountable. I think it is because we had such a time getting to this point that I focused on every aspect of pregnancy. I diligently did kick counts, I sung to my belly, I read books to H in utero, and I genuinely was present and engaged for the whole pregnancy.

Toward the end, I told Andy toward that I thought H would come early. It was just a feeling I had. The way my body felt and the way H was positioned, I didn’t think I had much longer. The last trimester was brutal. Once I hit 35 weeks I felt awful every day and I was having large contractions. On the first day of week 36 my water spontaneously broke. This was it. We were having a baby. I was nervous because he would be premature, but at least he was a late term preemie.

We rushed to the hospital in rush hour traffic. I had not dilated very far when we got there so I decided to walk awhile. I walked up and down the hall of the hospital as the contractions started getting worse and worse. The way H was positioned had him pushing right on my sciatic nerve. By the time I decided I wanted an epidural I had waited way too long. I couldn’t feel any belly contractions, but the back labor racked my body with pain. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t lie down. All I could do was stand in one position and rock slightly with the wave of the contractions. As they were administering my epidural my position dropped H’s blood pressure. They had to put an oxygen mask on me. I remember this scared me to death and I tried to tell them not to worry about the epidural I would try to handle the pain, but I couldn’t get the words out before they were finished. Once the epidural was in place the intensity stopped. The pain was gone. I was able to breathe, think and rest. When they finally told me I was ready to push I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it was time. “This seems too easy,” I thought.

IMG_6434

Baby H came into this world very early on a Saturday morning during snow; his father came almost the exact same way more than 30 years earlier.

After over 6 years of tears, heartache, trying and failing our beautiful baby is finally here & he is amazing!

Peace, Love & Birth Stories,

Kristen

The Birth Story is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

Advertisements

On the Edge of My Seat

first trimester infertilityThe doctor verified my pregnancy! This was real. I can not even begin to explain how nervous I was. For the entire first trimester every twinge, every gas bubble and every hiccup made my heart race and my anxiety peak. When I started having searing and ripping pain on my left side I just knew I was miscarrying again. We raced to our Reproductive Endocrinologists office. She was monitoring us for the first eight weeks. She was so nervous too she met us in the parking lot. After the scan she met me in her office and said, “The fetus looks fine I don’t see any issue.” I felt so relieved. Then she followed up with, “I would like to put you on bed rest for a week.” What! Wait a minute. I was so confused. How could things be fine and I need to be on bed rest. She then went on to explain that I had a huge cyst from taking Femara and Ovidrel. To prevent it from bursting she wanted me to limit my movement. The idea was a little torturous, but that there was a part of me that was relieved. Maybe the less I moved and the less I did the safer the baby would be. What I hadn’t planned on having to tell work this early. I was barely a month pregnant. I had wanted to keep it a secret until we knew for sure if there was anything to tell them. I had a business trip the next week I would have to cancel. I decided to just tell the people that needed to know and ask for some privacy. I then negotiated the ability to work from home, but I did file FMLA in case things got worse and I needed some extra time.

The bed rest really did fly by. Once I was off of it, I tried to go about my normal routine. The first trimester is extremely tiring. I slept a lot. I would take little naps before Andy got home from work and sometimes I napped in my car at lunch. When we got around the ten week mark I was worried. This was the same time we found out we had lost the other baby. Everything seemed fine though and we sailed into our anatomy scan without any other incident. This was for real. I was 100% pregnant and the baby was on the way.

Peace, Love & Here Comes Baby,

Kristen

On the Edge of My Seat is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

Two Pale Pink Lines

ovulation and timed intercourseA few days before my missed period, I wanted to take a test. I was having some small pregnancy symptoms, but I had felt them before during the acupuncture phase with no luck. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and I remembered what my Acupuncturist told me. Whenever a pregnancy was viable the pregnancy test results would start to show HCG very early. The ones you have to worry more about are the pregnancies that don’t start off with strong hormones. With this factoid in my head Andy and I decided to take the plunge and take the test.

After taking the test, I continued to hold it in my hand. I watched the urine slowly move across the window. I felt my breath catch as I waited to see what would happen to the lines. Slowly I stated to see one then another. They were both fairly faint. As the test processed, I called Andy into the bathroom. “Andy, what do you see?” I asked. He said, “It is faint, but there are definitely two lines.” “You see it too,” I trilled!!

pregnancy test

I couldn’t believe that on our first go it had worked. I couldn’t believe that maybe we were having a baby. I still had to wait a few days before the Reproductive Endocrinologist would verify the pregnancy. I felt lucky, excited and scared all at the same time.

Peace, Love & Maybe Baby,

Kristen

Two Pale Pink Lines is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

ovulation

The Prescriptive Way to Have a Baby

What I loved about our fertility treatment was the prescriptive, scheduled way that everything happened. We did X, Y & Z and then we waited to find out if we were pregnant. There was no guessing. There was no, “let’s try one more time this month just in case.”

The instructions my Reproductive Endocrinologist gave me were perfect for my type A personality.  Honestly, I was surprised at how simple everything was and how easy the steps were to follow. Sample instructions: Ovulation

  1.  A series of ultrasounds will be done to determine where you are in your cycle. The lining of the uterus and the readiness of your ovary will be reviewed. Once the timing is appropriate, you will told when to start your ovulation drugs.
  2. Femara, a drug to help with ovulation is prescribed first. You will take the drug three days before inducing ovulation. This helps the ovary produce the egg.
  3. Based on your ultrasounds we will provide you a date to give yourself an Ovidrel shot. This shot will induce ovulation.
  4. Finally, you will have timed intercourse after the shot is given at intervals specified by your physician.

During the whole process I continued with the acupuncture. As I mentioned before, I felt like it was helping and I wanted to give our potential baby every advantage possible. It is odd and a little comforting to know this level of detail. Now all we have to do is wait.

Peace, Love & Micromanagement,

Kristen

Image credit: Babymed.com

The Prescriptive Way to Have a Baby is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

 

acupuncture for infertility

The Acupuncture Trial

After my boxing match with modern medicine I didn’t want to darken the door of a doctors’ office. That is probably what made me very adamant about using natural methods to try and get pregnant. I continued my interval training, but I added acupuncture to my regime. Once a week I went for my treatments. They lasted about an hour and the Acupuncturist would place needles in different places depending on my symptoms and where I was in my cycle. I would lay down on a table in a dark room with relaxing music and feel the needles tingle and shoot sensation across my synapses. The other part of my treatment was drinking warm herbs. My core temperature is normally 96.8, that isn’t a typo. Therefore, I needed to warm up my body to help an egg implant. Despite my continued efforts toward weight loss during this time period I lost nothing. My Acupuncturist explained that sometimes the body can only focus on one major thing at a time. Since my energy was focused on getting pregnant, it was not being used to lose weight.fertility monitor

At the same time I was also using several, expensive devices to monitor my ovulation. Every day I would pee on a stick or place a saliva tester on my tongue. These tests were supposed to read hormone changes and thus know when I was ovulating. When I got close to ovulation the pressure to make sure we were together was intense and trying to hit the correct day felt like a crap shoot.

After four months of acupuncture sessions, herbs, only eating and drinking warm food and micromanaging the heck out of our sex life the only thing I knew was that I possibly had had a chemical pregnancy. The stringent regime was stressing me out. The opposite of what is good for getting pregnant. To help appease my type A personality, I decided to head back to the Reproductive Endocrinologist. She tested my blood and told me I had not ovulated the month before. This was despite my expensive equipment having said that I did. I felt let down and sad. We discussed the thinking that getting pregnant again the first year after a miscarriage is usually easier and she told me that I may only need to ovulate to get pregnant. “Not having enough ‘chances at bat’ can prevent things from every happening,” she said. I agreed. I felt like the acupuncture was doing something, but I need to take it up a notch. “Let’s start with some basic fertility treatment,” I said.

The Acupuncture Trial is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

D&C pre-op

Round 2

I felt like I was in a boxing match. I was down for the count and my miscarriage was sitting on women's boxingmy stomach just beating the daylights out of me. Where was the referee? I was dazed, but as I checked back into the outpatient department of the hospital I felt a little calmer. I had known something was not right. I felt worse after the first D&C then I did before. I met with the OB doing surgery that day and explained that I needed antibiotics. She seemed puzzled when I told her I did not receive them the first time, but instead of ignoring me she checked my chart. Then she looked up a little concerned and surprised and said, “No, you didn’t did you?” As we discussed it she promised me that her ‘standard of care’ included using antibiotics and she proceeded to order them prior to induction. Finally, someone was listening.

After the surgery I felt very different. I didn’t have the horrible discomfort or pain ‘down there’ that I had the first time. This physician had been much gentler. This surgery although easier was harder from an anesthesia perspective. Since it was an emergency surgery I had taken my thyroid medication which prevented tradition sedation from being enough. Instead they had to intubate and put me under general. Poor Andy! He was so worried because it took forever for me to wake up. Once the surgery was complete the doctor spoke with my husband. She confirmed that I did have a uterine infection and assured him that the level of antibiotics I was given in pre-op should take care of it. The key word is should.

For my follow up I saw the rotating OB physician yet again. During the exam I jumped off the table in pain. He agreed that the pain was abnormal, but since I didn’t have a fever wouldn’t agree that I had an infection. He also didn’t review my chart. He did an ultrasound and they found nothing. Before I left he said, “I am not going to bet my license on the fact that you don’t have an infection so here is an antibiotic.” At the time I thought, what a jack ass. If you would stop and take a minute you would see the note from my surgery that said I had an infection. You would also see the notes from the other physician stating possible infection. Finally, you would probably deduce that it wasn’t gone. Insert exasperated exhale. Instead of arguing I verified the type and strength of the antibiotic. I wanted to be sure I was getting something with enough punch to get rid of the infection once and for all.

At this point I felt like I had really taken a beating. I also was very disheartened. I knew that I would never use the preferred office method of rotating OBs again. My care had suffered because of lack of consistency. I also was scarred. What if I had scar tissue now or the infection had damaged my uterus? What if there would never be another baby or what if the infection wasn’t really gone after the antibiotic?

I am not a person to take adversity sitting down, or to necessarily believe authority figures like physicians. That is why I took it upon myself to call the Reproductive Endocrinologist that I had seen several years before. I scheduled an appointment with her for later in the week. When I met with her I cried telling her the whole story. She did what an excellent doctor should do by developing a game plan to make sure that I was healed and that my uterus didn’t have any damage. Two months later I had my final test a Saline Sonohysterogram. This test injected saline into my uterus during an ultrasound to determine if there was any scar tissue, adhesions, lesions or other damage caused by the infection and multiple D&Cs. I passed with flying colors. Everything looked excellent and she even gave us the green light to start trying again.

Peace, Love & Being at the End of the Tunnel,

Kristen

Round 2 is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

 

miscarriage

The Dreaded Event

The morning of my D&C I had to be at the hospital extremely early. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never had a procedure before or been put under anesthesia. I was nervous. I remember checking in and being taken back to the pre-op area. I saw this contraption with a hose attached to it. I wondered if they used it to extract the fetus. Looking back now that was an idiotic though, but at the time it stayed with me. I later learned the hose was attached to your hospital gown and that it blew warm air into the gown to prevent you from being cold. What filled me with dread was actually kind of a nice device. Once the nurse came and talked to me they started my IV. It was not easy to do the IV. Multiple people had to try and I ended up looking like a pin cushion. I decided right then and there that I hated IVs. I spoke with the doctor, the anesthesiologists, and the CRNA. I requested antibiotics before induction and the anesthesiologist told me the physician had to order them. I requested to speak to the physician again. When he came in he told me it was not standard of care to administer antibiotics for a routine procedure such as a D&C. I remember arguing about it. It didn’t make sense to me that they would remove a dead fetus by scrapping my uterus and not give me anything to prevent infection. The doctor assured me that antibiotics were not normally given. I finally agreed and they started the anesthesia process. Before I was taken back a nice nurse gave me her headphones so that I could listen to music. She said, “I don’t want you to hear anything and sometimes you can hear the vacuum.” The gesture was very kind, but the statement gave me chills. Thank goodness I didn’t have long to think about it because sedative started to kick in and I begin to relax. My mother and Andy said that I got all goofy and loopy as they pushed me into the OR. It was the only humorous part of the experience.

After the procedure I woke up feeling very violated. My whole nether region hurt. Honestly, it felt like a brutal rape or what I imagine one would be like. (At this point I think it is important to say, not all D&Cs are like this. Although it is a terrible event, most are fairly easy and there is minimal pain. My other experience with a D&C was nothing compared to this one. I have since learned the doctor I saw was particularly rough and as you read the rest of the entry also not my favorite physician.) I went home in a large amount of pain. I have a fairly high pain tolerance, but the pain kept getting worse. I took the few pain pills they gave me, but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t go to work for two days and every evening the pain would increase to excruciating levels that left me in tears. A few days after the procedure I went in to see one of the rotating physicians at my OB practice. After an exam he concluded that I had an infection of the uterine lining. I told him that I had not received antibiotics prior to the procedure. He proceeded to argue with me claiming that I received them while I was “asleep” and I would not have remembered. I told him that wasn’t accurate. I explained that I specifically requested them and I was told they were not the standard of care. He subsequently ignored me. He also didn’t bother to check my chart. What I didn’t realize is that by ignoring me he only prescribed me a very low dose of antibiotics, believing that I had indeed received antibiotics prior to my procedure. The antibiotic that he prescribed did nothing for the infection. It is also one of the reasons I landed in the ER that Sunday. In addition to the pain I started passing clots the size of golf balls.

Poor Andy, he was at a Panther’s game when I called him. My parents insisted that I call an ambulance and the whole family met me at the hospital. They did a scan and then sent me home with a diagnosis of vaginal bleeding. I was overcome. I knew something was horribly wrong and I didn’t understand why none of the medical professionals trained to deal with this could help me. The very next morning weak and exhausted from pain, I started vomiting. Andy rushed me to the OB practice refusing to leave until I was seen. The rotating physician took one look at the scan from the night before and told me that I had retained tissue. This meant I was going to have to have surgery again. They sent me directly to outpatient surgery. This time I told Andy, “If they refuse to give me antibiotics, take me to a different hospital.”

Have you had to have a D&C? If you feel comfortable share your experience.

Peace, Love and Good OB Care,

Kristen

The Dreaded Event is a post in a series on infertility. More articles in the series include:

 

Missed Miscarriage

I am a planner. This means that despite having a solid plan A, I also have plans B, C & D in the wings. I try to view most situations from all angles and I normally make decisions in a manner that mitigates problems. After trying, even unofficially at times, for five years to conceive all my common sense flew out the window. The idea of something going wrong was not even in my realm of existence. As far as I was concerned the winds of fate had finally blessed us with a baby and so a baby we were having.

When we went for our first ultrasound the fetus was underdeveloped for its gestational age and the heartbeat had just started. This should have been a huge warning sign. However, I have irregular cycles and I don’t ovulate like everyone else. I could have ovulated late. As far as I was concerned the “28 Day Cycle” had never applied to me so we couldn’t use those numbers. The doctor told me there was no need to worry and that they would do another ultrasound in two weeks to determine where things stood. Any concern I had was fleeting. Although it shouldn’t have been…

A few days before the ultrasound, I spotted. Not much at all just three tiny red dots on a piece of toilet paper.  My internal alarm went off a little, but my optimism was not to be deterred.

A few days later we went in to see the ultrasound. I remember missed miscarriage, infertilityit clearly. As the tech placed the wand all I saw was darkness. It didn’t look anything like the other ultrasound picture. It was empty. The dark circle of my uterus starred back at me. What was once hope filled with hope was now hollow. My heart grew heavy and sank deep into my chest to try and protect me from the onslaught of emotions. No one had to say a word. The baby was dead. The tech started showing me where the fetus was. It was collapsed, with no heart beat at the bottom of the screen; like a rag doll on the floor. I was crushed.

They ushered us into see a physician who made the comment, “I guess this was expected.” I don’t think he noticed the pain in my eyes. “Who expected this,” I wanted to ask, but I was too busy trying not to crash. Instead I was asking questions in a businesslike manner trying to make sense of what had happened.

It was labeled a missed miscarriage. The fetus was eleven weeks old, but only developed to seven weeks. I had to have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) to remove the dead tissue. They weren’t able to do it that Friday so they scheduled it for Monday. Afterward we went out for a late lunch. We didn’t really want to eat, but we didn’t know what to do. I had a Diet Coke because it didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t have to protect the baby from aspartame. There was no baby. I looked up at Andy and said, “I have a dead baby inside of me.” He looked at me with sad eyes and took my hand. Neither of us knew how to respond.

Peace, Love & Never Needing a D&C,

Kristen

Missed Miscarriage is a post in a series on infertility. Additional articles can be read below.

newborn baby bootiesq

Body or Baby?

What I did not realize about fertility testing is how protracted it can be. You have to wait until the precise time in your cycle and if you have irregular cycles you could end up waiting months. Andy also had to be tested. It took two and a half months before all of the initial testing was done and we were able to get the results.

When I finally met with the doctor I had good news. Andy might as well have been a Cro-Magnon Man.  All of his sperm numbers were off the chart in the positive direction. He is still proud of this fact. Whenever I mention it he swaggers a little bit and gets a twinkle in his eye. My numbers weren’t so bad either. My FSH and LH were solid. What the testing confirmed was in that I did not ovulate often if ever.

After learning all of this information we had some choices to make.

  • We could do more invasive testing to make sure that I didn’t have any other underlying issues.
  • We could keep trying
  • I could work on my other health issues to see if improving them improved my fertility

I was very torn. In a moment of despair I looked at Andy and I said, “Would you want a baby now if it meant I would look like this the rest of my life.” I was very unhappy with my weight and given the circumstances being a little melodramatic. Like a loving and doting husband he said, “Kristen, you are beautiful. I just want to have a family with you.”

Andy’s words meant a lot, but something felt off with my body. I was worried about what kind of complications would arise given my hormonal issues. I had recently started taking Victoza, an insulin resistance medication that was showing some promise. What if just by focusing on becoming healthier the rest worked itself out?

My instincts were telling me to focus on my body. After deciding I owed it to the baby to be as healthy as possible, I set out to right my hormonal imbalances through medicine, exercise and weight loss. I spent the next year working on myself by doing the following:

  • I took Victoza
  • I took a low dose of Synthroid
  • I worked with a trainer doing interval workouts suggested by an Endocrinologist at Duke Medical Center 2 to 3 times a week at 5:00 AM

    hiking

    Andy & me after hiking Mt. Mitchell & Mt. Craig. After my training program.

  • I used Weight Watchers
  • Andy and I walked most evenings after work with the dogs
  • My TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and my Testosterone and Estrogen were measured on a monthly basis to make sure I was moving in the right direction

It was a slow, meticulous slog. I worked tirelessly to balance my hormones and lose some of the pounds that my failing body had added to my frame. It was a vicious cycle. The health issues cause weight gain and the weight in turn causes the health problems to worsen. I was determined to break the cycle.

During the next year I lost 50 pounds. It wasn’t quite as much as I wanted to lose, but I was very close to my goal weight. It felt good to be making big strides. Then something amazing happened. I found out I was pregnant. I had gotten pregnant naturally! After five years God had blessed us and all of the hard work with the miracle of a little baby. Andy and I were speechless. Our families were excited. This is what we had been working toward. This was meant to happen. Until it wasn’t…

Are you going through the pain and confusion of infertility? We welcome the opportunity to hear and learn from you?

Peace, Love and Hope,

Kristen

Body or Baby is Part 2 in a series on infertility. Read part 1: The Infertility Roller Coaster here. 

 

roller coaster

The Infertility Roller Coaster

Andy and I got married almost 8 years ago and the first few years of our marriage were all about fun. It Marriagewas a devil may care kind of time. He was finishing school, I was building my career and we both were enjoying time with each other and our friends.

We knew we wanted children, two for sure, but it wasn’t our focus. After the first year of marriage we stopped using contraceptive. At first I didn’t pay much attention. I didn’t ovulate regularly and I knew the process would take some time. I was also having some health issues. I had been diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I had a failing thyroid and I was becoming insulin resistant. All of these issues resulted in unwanted weight gain and none of them are the best combination when trying to conceive.

After the first two years of pretending we weren’t really trying, because let’s be real that is what I kept telling myself, I begin to do what any type A personality does. I begin to work the problem. I bought fertility kits and charted my cycles. I took my temperature and I even recorded when we had sex. When I decided to go to the doctor, I wanted them to have able to more information than they could possibly need. 

A year later after talking with my OB, I decided it was time to go a Reproductive Endocrinologist. My OB set up the referral and my husband and I both attended the appointment. We had the basic screenings done so they could understand all of our important numbers as well as collect baselines.  The tests included:

  1. Ovarian Reserve Testing (ORT). – This test was done on day three or four of my cycle. It indicated the quantity and quality of my eggs by measuring several hormones including the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH).
  2. Semen Analysis – This determined the quantity, quality and motility of Andy’s semen.
  3. Ultrasound Evaluation – This was done at a specific point in my cycle along with a blood test to determine if I was preparing for ovulation and to determine if I ovulated.

The Reproductive Resource Center provides a wonderful resource for initial fertility testing if you are looking for additional information. 

There were several other tests that we could do, including a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The HSG would have measured whether or not my fallopian tubes were open and if there were any abnormalities that would cause conception problems. We opted for the bare minimum. I didn’t want anything too invasive. Infertility scared me. Every little thing you do when you are trying to conceive feels like it could be the magic bullet. Not being able to have children naturally made me feel like less of a woman. The phrase, “I can’t give Andy a child,” repeated in my head. None of these things are true. Having or not having children doesn’t define you as a person. However, I wanted children so badly that not being able to conceive made it hard to breath. I felt like we had already ridden the scary part of a roller coaster and I was a little queasy. Subsequently, I wanted to take the whole process very slowly. 

Peace, Love & Hope,

Kristen

The Infertility Roller Coaster is part one of our infertility series. Want to read more? Register here. 

Image Credit: Sean Busher Photography