SURPRISE! We're expecting! Meet our rainbow baby, due the day after Christmas. Santa sure did out do himself this year :).
I've been meaning to blog about my experiences with this pregnancy and how I've been dealing with each doctor's appointment, symptoms and milestones...but as you can imagine, life has been a bit crazy over these last few months and quite frankly, this pregnancy has been kicking my butt.
First Trimester Recap
Following our loss in the Fall, we tried on and off to conceive again and ultimately decided to hold off until next Fall. It took a few months for my body and cycle to adjust itself and get back to a predictable pattern. Also, Summer babies are made in the Fall and we all know how I feel about Summer babies :). But, as the saying goes, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. And well, let's just say life happened!
The week following Easter, I knew based on my newly adjusted cycle, I was due for my period. I've grown very in tune with my body so I was waiting for the symptoms to roll in, but this time something felt different. I didn't quite feel those tell-tale period symptoms. One day that week, 2 days before my expected period, I had the strangest urge to take a pregnancy test. I remembered that I had one more under my sink that was leftover from the winter months. I got home, got the kids settled and ran up the stairs to take the test. I knew I had a better chance of receiving a positive result in the morning but once I had the idea in my head, there was no waiting. I took the test, cover it with a tissue and left it on the ledge of my bathroom window. I can't quite recall what I did in those next few minutes, but I imagine it involved a lot of pacing and running around the house trying to stay busy. Those minutes after taking a test always somehow feel like hours. When I returned to uncover the test, I was already half laughing at myself. Why was I rushing to the conclusion that I was pregnant?! I technically hadn't even missed my period and I wasn't experiencing event the slightest of pregnancy symptoms. I removed the tissue and literally uttered the words, "Oh my God" as I saw two dark pink lines staring back at me. There was no denying it now, I was PREGNANT.
The next few weeks were a bit of a mix of excitement and nerves. I was incredibly happy, but part of me was extremely nervous. After experiencing two losses, I had difficulty accepting that this pregnancy was going to be different. Between 5 and 6 weeks, the morning sickness started. There was nothing "morning" about this sickness. In fact, it lasted around the clock. I experienced nausea around the clock and could vomit almost any time of the day. I had a leftover prescription of anti-nausea meds from my pregnancy in the Fall, so I resumed taking them, but they provided little relief. They, still trying to figure out who "they" are, say the sicker you are, the healthier the pregnancy, but it's so hard to find any comfort in that when you literally feel like you have the stomach bug 24/7.
One night, around 6 weeks, I woke up to pee. Before I got back in bed, I felt this radiating pain creeping up from around my back to the front of my abdomen. It was so intense I felt like I couldn't walk. I managed to get to Sean and woke him up. Something was definitely wrong. I was nervous I was losing the baby. I couldn't think straight and all I wanted was for the pain to stop. I asked Sean if we should call 911 and have an ambulance take me to the hospital, I wasn't sure how much more pain I could endure and it had just started! Sean didn't want to alarm the kids, so he called his mom who happens to live 2 minutes down the road. I somehow got myself dressed, grabbed a bag because through all of this I was still extremely nauseous, and got into the car. It only took about 10 minutes for my mother-in-law to arrive, but those 10 minutes felt like an eternity. I was in hysterics. As soon as she pulled into the driveway, we pulled out and made our way to the hospital.
I was admitted to the ER and put on fluids, anti-nausea medication and pain reliever. Due to the pregnancy, they couldn't give me the strongest pain reliever, so although more subdued, I still felt the radiating pain. I was extremely nervous about the possible effects that the pain meds and the trauma I was experiencing were having on the baby. An ultrasound revealed that I had an obstructed kidney and although they couldn't locate one, it more than likely meant a kidney stone was present. This was my second experience with a kidney stone, the first being 8 years ago. If you've never had one, be thankful. It's one of the most painful things you could ever experience...even more painful than childbirth.
In my case, I feel that that stone was brought on my my lack of water consumption. I had been so nauseous over those last few weeks and drinking water did not make things any better. Around 9 am that morning, they decided to discharge me and sent me home to try and pass the stone on my own. I had a prescription for pain meds and I was to follow up with a urologist as an out patient. A few hours later, I passed the stone on my own. I'm pretty sure it was due to all those fluid bags they had pumped me with in the hospital.
From this point on, the morning sickness stuck around until around about 6 more weeks. During this time, there were days were I didn't even know how I was functioning. Getting up and out the door for work was a struggle. My typical OCD ways around the house, fell to the wayside and Sean keep everything at home functioning. It was hard to feel so incapacitated at times, but I knew eventually everything would calm down and I would feel "normal" again. For me, that was around 11 weeks. When I felt my symptoms begin to subside, I started to wean myself off of the nausea meds. With each passing day, I gradually felt better and better. Such a HUGE relief!
Since finding out we were pregnant, I've had 3 ultrasounds. Due to my history, my OBGYN wanted me to come in beginning at 6 weeks.
At the 6 week ultrasound, the baby was measuring just shy of 6 weeks so they weren't able to determine anything other than the fact that I was pregnant. I remember leaving the appointment feeling defeated. Although it was confirmed that I was pregnant, I had wanted to feel more confident.
At 8 weeks I returned for my second ultrasound and by that they were able to see the baby's heartbeat, 167 bpm. Additionally, everything had caught up and 12/26, my original due date based on my cycle, was confirmed as my "official" due date. This was the first time I felt somewhat at ease...one of my milestones. What made this ultrasound even more special was that it was shared with Sean, Mason and Emory. Sean has come to every appointment so far, but I loved that the kids were in the room with us and we were able to experience this milestone as a family.
By this point the "High Risk" designation had been added to my file due to some information I had shared with my OBGYN about the shape of my uterus. Mason and Emory were both delivered by another practice when we lived in New Jersey and although I had normal pregnancies with both, this doctor wanted to be cautious and let Maternal Fetal Medicine, who handles high risk pregnancies, decide if I needed to be monitored more closely.
My 12 week ultrasound was done in the high risk office and can I just say, the patient experience was phenomenal. Due to the heightened sensitivity of most high risk pregnancies, they really go above and beyond with the care they provide their patients from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave.
Both Sean and Emory were with me and I was excited for Emory to share this experience with us. She had a TON of questions about the baby and the ultrasound tech was more than patient with her. At one point I was concerned that she might have been TOO chatty and the tech could sense that. She repeatedly reassured me that she was fine and she wasn't a distraction :).
During the ultrasound, they performed a routine Nuchal Translucency Screening Test which measures the amount of fluid behind the baby's neck. Extra fluid can be indicative of a heart defect, structural issue or a chromosomal abnormality. While trying to get this measurement, the baby was not cooperating for the tech. For this measurement, the baby needs to lie completely flat on it's back in order for the measurement to be taken. When the tech left, the doctor came in to discuss the results with us. Everything looked fine, however, the measurements obtained behind the neck were what they consider to be concerning. They typical threshold is 3cm of fluid. The tech took measurements between 3.4cm and 3.6cm. Based on my age (being young) and no history of chromosomal abnormalities in my family history, the doctor said there was only a 5-10% chance of the baby having a chromosomal abnormality. However, she advised that I meet with a genetic counselor to discuss having testing done to rule out the possibility based on the measurements taken.
At this point, the doctor left the room and said someone would be by shortly to bring me to meet with the GC. Based on the time, I knew Sean had to leave to get Mason off of the bus. He's been by my side for every part of this pregnancy and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was by myself last Fall when I was told our baby no longer had a heartbeat. His support means the world to me but I knew I could handle this conversation on my own.
Sean left with Emory and I was taken into another room to meet with the GC. The GC must run through all of the worst case scenarios, however, she did reassure me that my measurement was small, sometimes they see 8cm or 10cm and that is a different story. If the measurement had been 5cm, we would having a conversation about more invasive testing, such as an Amniocentesis where they test the fluid within the placenta or an Alpha-Fetoprotein screening (AFP) where they test a piece of the placenta. Both tests increase the chance of having a miscarriage and I knew that unless they were my only option, I didn't want to have them done. The GC suggested a blood test called the Cell-Free Fetal DNA which looks to see if there's any extra or missing chromosomes. When you're pregnant, you carry the DNA of the baby in your blood, so the test would be able to be run by drawing my blood. The GC advised me that the results could take 8-10 days to receive as they use a specialized lab in San Diego. In some cases, the results come back inconclusive and the test needs to be run again. Once received, she would call me with the results. Due to the sex chromosomes being looked at, we also at the option to know the gender of the baby if we desired. I agreed to have the test run. Moments later, a nurse entered the room and took two viles of my blood and sent me on my way.
Over that next week, I was a bundle of nerves. I walked out of that counseling session not knowing whether or not our baby was going to have a difficult road ahead and that absolutely killed me. I pray all week long and I prayed HARD. On the 9th day of waiting, I received a call first thing in the morning from the GC. "Hi Amy, this is Sara calling you with your normal test results." I appreciated that her first sentence disarmed me right off the bat. THANK YOU, GOD. Before she went any further, I asked her if we should conference in Sean. She suggested that we continue with the conversation and said Sean was more than welcome to call her with any questions he might have. Then, if we decided that we wanted to know the sex of the baby, she was call me right back and leave a voicemail for us to listen to together. She has definitely done this once or twice before ;). Before the end of the conversation, she did said that they would continue to monitor the pregnancy closely because there is a small change that there could be a structural issue based on the measurements taken at the 12 week ultrasound. My gut tells me that the baby is completely healthy, but I know that it's her job to tell me all of the scenarios.
Sean and I work on the same campus, so when he arrived to work that morning we met outside to listen to the voicemail from the GC together. It was a beautiful day. As we sat down on a bench that overlooks a small body of water, I remember thinking just how perfect of a day it was...one of the first early days of Summer. I put my phone on speaker and we listened to the voicemail together and finally, I felt a wave of comfort wash over me. Again, another milestone reached. From this point on, I plan on putting my fears behind me and enjoying every second of this pregnancy until we meet our rainbow baby.
Stay tuned for our gender reveal post, next! :)