Heartbeat

Friday May 19th, I finally got to meet the perinatologist who will stay with me for the remainder of this pregnancy. It will be nice to have some consistency. I felt genuinely respected during our appointment and I think he will be a good fit for the rest of our journey.

We got some news, and as usual, it isn’t the best. First, there is almost no fluid, 3mm to be exact. This is less than the 2cm (which is also incredibly low) that I measured 2 weeks prior.

Second, the baby’s head measured a little smaller than before, by about 2 weeks. This could mean he’s not growing, the measurements are off due to not being able to see as clearly because of the low fluid, or my uterus is constricting him.

And the most alarming news is that his heartbeat was almost undetectable. That blinking light that brought so much hope and strength was only a flicker. A normal heart rate for a baby in utero is 120 to 160 beats per minute. After looking on two different machines, the doctor was able to determine our baby’s heart is beating at 100 bpm.

I was so thankful the doctor didn’t give up on the first machine. Even though the heartbeat is slow there is a chance my position was causing him to pinch the cord momentarily. We have an appointment next week to follow up.

Still, I was told that baby is likely passing. This was hard to take but I kept my composure. We discussed “birth” options and he was supportive of my choices. We also discussed care options starting at 24 weeks if baby holds on.

I wasn’t until about an hour after getting home, when my husband took the kids swimming and I was alone with my sweet unborn baby, that I really lost it.

I shared my heart with him, words too soon to repeat. But he knows. I pray God’s best for him and I’m making peace with whatever that may be.

Control

Coming to terms with the possible outcomes of this pregnancy is something I’m still working on. Letting go of control has never been easy for me. It has been a recurrent theme in my life over my childbearing years though. I know I’m a better person because of it.

The process of growth is painful sometimes, this time is proving to be the hardest so far. I know there are lessons to be learned and even joy to come, but as with most challenges, I probably won’t recognize the blessing until the moment has passed. And I am thankful because I know my life experiences could be so much harder.

But something that still bothers me is the way miscarriage is treated as insignificant. I never understood the grief involved in losing an unborn child. I, like many who’ve never experienced miscarriage, thought it was terribly sad but that you “move on” or “try again”.

Now I understand that a child lost before “viability” is no less important than losing a baby at term or beyond. This baby is my child and I don’t want him forgotten.

After searching on the Internet, I found some resources for parents facing infant death. One of the most comprehensive sites I’ve found so far is stillbirthday. They have a lot of ideas how to honor your child’s birth and death. You can also find Doulas who specialize in loss, learn about what to expect, see babies born at the same gestation as yours, get emotional and spiritual help, make a birth plan. There is even support for your spouse or loved ones and helpful advice on announcing the birth and death of your baby.

Another resource is Now I lay me down to sleep, which provides volunteer professional photographers to take remembrance photos of your baby. The photos are free of charge however there are a few restrictions. It appears they only dispatch to hospice or hospitals and they request the baby be at least 22 weeks gestation. The site does offer resources for families and links to other ways to memorialize your baby.

Heaven’s Gain Ministries offers caskets and urns, miscarriage kits for home miscarriages and resources for families.

Indie Birth is a wonderful resource for natural, empowering childbirth but they also have some beautiful, (graphic) birth stories including natural miscarriage. This is one of my favorite sites that honors the woman’s body and intuition during childbirth and even loss.

These are just a few resources. I can’t control what will happen and I hope I won’t need any of these resources (I wish no one did), but I’m glad to know there are many out there who help honor babies who are born into heaven.

 

 

 

From my Heart

I know a lot of what I share here is full of complaint. It’s a way for me to vent all my frustrations. It’s a way to release the negative thoughts from my mind and deal with my feelings. But this time I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude.

During all of this I’ve had loved ones cooking, cleaning, shopping, and spending time with my kids so I can continue giving baby the best chance at life. I’ve had many who are praying diligently for me, my child, and my family. I’ve been encouraged by those who check in on me by calling, texting, emailing and commenting here and on Facebook.

There are a few doctors, birth professionals, and health care workers who offer support not condemnation. My husband is always willing to pick up the slack, happily. My children are patient, helpful and come and cheer me up throughout the day.

I am thankful for all of you. Every bit is appreciated.

Love and thanks,

Kristina

Clot

Saturday May 13th was my middle son’s 5th birthday. Although I couldn’t do much more than planning, the family pulled together to throw him a party. It was a small family gathering at our house and I planned to prop myself on the couch so I could visit.

Just as company arrived I went to use the bathroom and I felt something large pass out of me. Hoping it wasn’t my baby, I quickly turned to look. It was about 2.5 inches in diameter. A blood clot, the largest I had ever seen.

I called for my husband who decided I should see a doctor because I started to bleed more heavily. I apologized to my son for having to leave. He was having lots of fun with his siblings and cousins so he was fine.

I told my mom what was happening and left for the hospital. While in the car, I decided to call the advice nurse, who connected me to a nurse in labor and delivery. She had me explain what was happening.

After some Q&A and checking with the doctor on call she informed me that I didn’t need to come in. She said she was sorry but I was beginning to miscarry.

We already decided that if I miscarried without complication, it would be at home. It was hard to hear because I could feel baby kick. I know he would likely be born alive but only live for a moment. I understand why they won’t intervene for a baby who isn’t developed enough for survival outside of the womb. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

Taking my new stance, I knew that unless I had complications that warranted me going to the hospital, all I could do was wait and see. We got home and I laid in bed, unable or unwilling to visit. I missed my son’s party while I waited to see if I would miscarry my unborn son. It felt like I was chosing one child over the other. I feel guilty, I’d feel guilty either way.

I haven’t gone into labor yet. It could be today, it could be weeks, baby could make it to viability. Only God knows right now. I was told I was going to have to be OK with the unknown. The unknown is probably the one thing that’s hardest for me to be OK with. Each time I make peace with an unknown, another surfaces. I guess God is allowing me to process things one at a time, I’m thankful it’s getting a little easier.

 

View on Life

When I finally got called back to meet the doctor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was hoping I didn’t build up my expectations too high. His exam room was filled with pictures of babies and the thank you cards from their mothers. There was art work on the walls. No where were the cold, sterile diagrams of the reproductive system and models of the latest birth control device.

He had a friendly and approachable bed side manner. But what made the biggest difference to me was the way he talked about my son, he acknowledged my son as a person. And he acknowledged me as a person too.

I shared how I felt the constant push to terminate even though its an option I was not willing to consider. Instead of restating the devastating statistics he validated my experience. He explained that to most of his colleagues, I am making the “wrong” choice by continuing the pregnancy. But he affirmed that I am doing the right thing to give baby a chance.

It was such a relief to know I’m not crazy,  that the opposition I’ve been feeling was not a conspiracy I made up in my mind. And even though I already knew I was doing the right thing to give baby a chance, it felt good to hear someone else say it.

I know the odds are still not in our favor but the doctor left me with another helpful bit of advice. Even though I will still get the gloomy statistics and some of the other doctors will still have a negative opinion, I can approach my journey with a more simplified view to keep myself from going crazy with all the “what ifs”.

I only need to decide if something warrants coming to the hospital or not. If I experience a fever (or other sign of infection), heavy bleeding, or pain I need to come in. Otherwise keep going, day by day. What a burden lifted off my shoulders. There is no way I can predict what will happen with my baby and mulling over statistics won’t help since I’ve already made up my mind to keep him. We understand what we might face and our son is worth it to us. So day by day it is.

We looked at baby, he was moving around. We listened to his heartbeat. And for the first time in a few weeks, I left an appointment without feeling defeated.

Waiting Room

The bleeding I experienced last night had me worried but I already had a prenatal appointment scheduled for this morning so I knew we would be able to check on baby. I requested an appointment with this particular doctor because I knew from his bio that he values life and was against pushing procedures on women who didn’t want them. This would hopefully prove to be a refreshing change from what I’ve come to expect in my care.

Waiting in the lobby was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. Watching very pregnant moms go by with their happy waddle reminded me that from the beginning of this pregnancy all I’ve focused on was grief and stress.

I’ve either been mourning the loss of my child, not knowing I was pregnant, or being told to prepare to lose him again. I’ve had very few moments to enjoy this time of pregnancy like I usually do. A time where I feel blessed like no other, the miracle of growing new life, a whole human being, inside my humble body.

I had forgotten how special this time is and resolved to cherish it from now on. No matter how long or short I have with my son, he should feel my love and amazement at getting to be his mother. What if this is all he will ever know? I want him to feel loved, special, wanted. I want him to know he isn’t a mistake or a bad statistic to be forgotten about. I want him to know how sorry I am for not protecting him and allowing him to almost be ripped away from the place he should feel the safest. Teaching him the world is a cold hard place will not be the only thing I leave him with. He will know my voice, my song, my laughter, so help me God.

 

Blood

Tonight I started bleeding. I was spending time with my husband, snuggling and watching TV after the kids went to bed. It’s the time of day when I have the best chance of ignoring all the worries of this pregnancy and pretend things are normal.

I felt a large gush of fluid, more than usual. Now, whenever I feel anything in my body, I feel my heart start pounding. Every little thing signals the fight or flight mechanism in my brain. In my mind, everything has the potential to become a life or death emergency for my baby.

Worried, I went to the bathroom. My fear was confirmed. Blood. Trying to calm myself down, I started praying. I wiped my eyes and began recalling what other PPROM mom’s have said in my support group. “Bleeding is normal after PPROM. The blood can irritate the cervix and cause cramping. It’s scary but try and relax, lay down, stay hydrated.”

Easier said than done but ok, I would do my best. I laid down by my husband and started deep breathing. I told him it was really important to me to have a name picked out for our baby. Realistically, the baby could come at any time and if so I don’t want him to die nameless.

We ran some ideas and narrowed it down pretty good. It gave me comfort enough to turn the TV back on. I wanted to be distracted for a while before going to bed or I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep.

For the rest of the night, every trip to the bathroom was tense. Was it or wasn’t it going to be there? No, yes, no, yes. At least it wasn’t there every time. And thankfully no contractions or cramping ever started. I went to bed thanking God for one more day with my baby.