On the mend

I am finally – F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. – turning a corner. Fingers crossed and all that. By the time Saturday rolled around and my decongestant was doing essentially nothing, I cried uncle and used my handy doctor app. It’s actually not covered by my company’s new health insurance, but it’s so cheap and convenient that I used it anyway. (Not to mention healthier too, in a way. All I could think about when I contemplated dragging myself to an urgent care center was that I hope I don’t get the flu while I’m there.)

Steroids – check! Antibiotics – check! And as of today, Wednesday, five days after starting steroids and antibiotics, I think my ears have finally mostly released the pressure. I mean, they still feel kind of stuffy and pressurized, but, you know, it’s better. Ish. Mostly. I take my last dose of steroids today though so I’m hoping it will hold me. I really don’t want to visit with my allergist this week too, but I may not have another choice.


Speaking of all of this medical related business, you know how most things (medically speaking) in your life are inconsequential? You would never report back to your primary care physician that you had a cold a year ago when she was unavailable. You don’t mention to your GYN that you had a random case of hives a few months ago. Most illnesses and oddities fade into memory without a blip on the ol’ medical chart. Then there are the things that do stick around – the surgeries, the major complications, the major illnesses. I got to face my new reality this week.

I have my well woman’s visit scheduled for this Friday. (And yeah, I know I was supposed to have had it back in January, but I guess since I told them I was pregnant, my doc billed it as a prenatal appointment. Shrugs.) My office finally got on board with emailing our annual medical history questionnaires before the appointments. This makes me unreasonably happy, but I won’t bore you with those details. I’m filling out my medical history questionnaire as usual and come to the section regarding pregnancies. Last year, I was super excited to be able to mark down “1” pregnancy and “1” c-section delivery. Yesterday though, I was far less excited to update that to “2” pregnancies, “1” c-section delivery, and “1” miscarriage.

There it was, in black and white. Still just as hard to see it written out as that news was back then.


On a much lighter note, I took up a new hobby! Crocheting!

I had been idly toying with the idea of taking up a hobby like crocheting to give me something to do with my hands in the evening. I hate that thing I do, let’s see if you recognize it too. Have you ever been watching TV but been sort of, I don’t know, bored? So you pick up your phone? And the next thing you know, you’re simultaneously browsing Instagram while watching your show and you don’t really know what’s happening with your show, because you’re browsing Insta, but you don’t put your phone down? Please tell me other people do that too. Personally, I hate that. I hate when I take a step back and realize that I need a screen to entertain me while I’m literally watching a screen.

The other thing that I’m painfully aware of right now is how much the dumpling sees Luffy and I on our phones and computers. I’ll throw Luffy under the bus right now (love you honey!) and say that he’s on his computer and/or phone all the time because he pretty much is. Not that I blame him for that! It’s just that everything he enjoys doing is electronic – from games to articles to forums to learning – it’s all on the computer/tablet/phone. As are most things nowadays. Hell, even when I read the dumpling interprets me as being on a screen since I read a kindle.

Screens! They’re everywhere! Run for your lives!!

[And yes, I do crack myself up.]

Don’t get me wrong. Luffy and I don’t kid ourselves that we’ll be able to raise a screen-free child. We wouldn’t want to even if we thought we could. Screens are the future. We are only going to be inundated by more and more digital media in the coming years. But, especially for his age-range, I do like modeling an activity that isn’t screen-related. I wanted the dumpling to see me do something for fun that isn’t electronic. On the plus side for me, crocheting isn’t as enigmatic and alluring as a phone to the dumpling. He sees me crocheting and he’s like boring whereas he sees me on my phone and he wants to take over and watch videos of himself. Win win for me!

So that’s how crocheting came into my life. I started with some quick tutorials over the weekend and quickly decided on my first project. I want to make a blanket for the dumpling’s bed. We don’t really have a suitable cold-weather blanket for his crib (and what will be his toddler bed). Our blankets are either too big or too small, which is fine right now because he’s still in his zippy. But he’ll drop that eventually and when he does he’ll need a better blanket. Cue me and my new crocheting skills! In all honestly, other than the size, it’s an easy first project. I decided to use two colors – turquoise and guacamole (which sounds really weird in print but I swear looks good together) – in stripes. I had decided to do a pattern like 10 x 5 x 2.5 x 1 x 2.5 x 5 x 10 (in rows, basically meaning that each stripe is narrower than the one before until you reach the center and then they widen), which I still like. However, it occurred to me last night that I need to do some math first because I want to make sure the blanket as a whole looks good. So we’ll see. Still brushing up on that.

I’ve actually made a lot of progress since that pic, which was snapped on Saturday night. I’ve doubled the width of the blue strip and I am already finished on my first green one (the 5 row-er). So yeah! We’ll see if this becomes a long-term hobby. I mean, there are only so many blankets you can crochet, though I’ve already thought up a couple of ideas for future gifts.

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Intangible.

It turns out we didn’t have to wait that long.

The results from my labs came back yesterday afternoon. My hCG level was ridiculously low (4 mIU/mL*). Especially considering the strong initial positives I got, the level is low enough to indicate a miscarriage. I go back next Monday to have my labs redrawn. We want to make sure my hCG level drops completely.

And with that, my second pregnancy truly is over.

I have restrictions for the next month or so, to make sure my body heals properly. Since I was pregnant, my doctor wants to make sure my body returns to its pre-pregnant state. We have to put our attempts at conceiving on hold for a while, again to give my body time to heal.

We’re doing ok though, honestly. My doctor commented that we were in great spirits, considering. And we really are. In our minds, this is a good outcome. Clearly something happened during conception, be it chromosomal issues or a botched implantation. A clean miscarriage is a much better option than a complicated, risky pregnancy. It definitely throws a wrench into our timeline, but we’ll adapt.

*I can save you the googling. The typical hCG range for a women who is 5 weeks pregnant is 18 – 7,340 mIU/mL. It varies a lot due to late implantation, plus the fact that it doubles so quickly during early pregnancy. The pregnancy test I used can detect hCG of 25 mIU/mL. And remember, I got a glaringly obvious positive result the first time, implying I was well above the minimum of 25 mIU/mL when I tested the first time. I agree with my doctor’s conclusion. Even without another blood draw for a comparison point, it’s pretty clear that my levels are dropping.

No news

I really don’t have any further official news since Monday.

I started the progesterone Monday evening. The heavy bleeding subsided Tuesday morning, though I’m still having what I would consider heavy spotting. And I’ve done a whole lot of googling, from what little information I can glean from my patient portal. A whole lot of googling.

[And here is where I will put a pinpoint as a warning for all of those who are trying so hard to conceive or those of you experiencing loss or the tenderhearted among us because we are about to have a real tough conversation, you and I. Fair warning.]

The way I see it, I basically have three diagnoses on the table: (1) threatened miscarriage due to low progesterone, (2) threatened miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities, (3) subchorionic hematoma or SCH.

In the first case, low progesterone is the cause of the bleed and the pregnancy and baby are otherwise viable. I have already been prescribed a progesterone supplement and was shocked to see that it’s a three-month prescription. I suppose I would have to be on it for several weeks, until the placenta takes over production, though I would obviously need to clarify that with my doctor. Honestly, this is probably the “best” outcome though it seems somewhat unlikely given I’ve already carried a baby to full-term without the need of progesterone supplements.

In the second case, a miscarriage is the final result. This may take a while to play out, considering my bleeding has stopped at this point (so I’m definitely not actively miscarrying at this point in time). I’ve already had two ultrasounds and we’ve seen development between them. I could be experiencing a blighted ovum where there’s actually no baby to begin with. The baby could simply stop developing. My body could refuse to finish the job, so to speak. I’d need medical intervention at that point. Though it may take a while to unravel, I’d say that this is my second best diagnosis if only because it’s a clear-cut resolution and a clean slate.

In the third case, an SCH is the only complication of an otherwise viable pregnancy. This is where things get really complicated and unsure because the outcome depends largely on the size and placement of the SCH. Resources vary vastly in their prognosis and long-term outcome, though they unanimously say that many women with SCH’s go on to have healthy pregnancies. Some resources mention bed rest or activity limitations (for instance, no lifting anything over 10 pounds which would mean that I wouldn’t be able to lift the dumpling). No exercise. Some exercise. Pelvic rest, including no orgasms (which, dang, that would suck). But then again, other resources make it seem like a perfectly normal and simple complication. And I can’t find any information on whether these limitations are for the entire pregnancy or just while the SCH is actively bleeding. This will probably come off as callous, but I do not want this baby bad enough to not lift my preschooler or not teach my exercise class or not have sex for the next nine months. I am not that desperate.

And so, we’re just waiting to see what happens. I haven’t heard back from my doctor on the results of my labs from Monday (which is beginning to drive me bonkers). I keep thinking that the ultrasound on Tuesday will provide some answers until I remember that – through all of this activity – I will only be six weeks along. We may not even verify a heartbeat on Tuesday if only because it’s too early still. Gah!

Anyway, all of this… deluge of information is just my way of trying to wrap my brain around this. I truly thought I was having a miscarriage on Sunday and I have already grieved in a way. The idea that this pregnancy could continue just doesn’t compute. And when I think about trying to continue the pregnancy in face of dire statistics and heavy restrictions and poor fetal outcome…. well, I’d just rather not, thanks. But then, did I really just think that? And what if there’s never a definitive diagnosis, which is probably just as likely a scenario as any other. What then??

I have no idea.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Not quite over

Apparently, there’s a little more ambiguity to the tremendous amount of blood coming out of my nether-regions than I originally thought.

Oh I’m sorry, were you eating? My apologies.

I called my doctor today, honestly half expecting for them to tell me to stay home and rest and what-not. Self-care and all that. Instead, I got the red carpet treatment as appointments were shifted to accommodate me as early as possible. I had a wonderfully embarrassing moment once I arrived, which I’m sure you’ll all enjoy: I didn’t really know what to expect out of this appointment. I had stopped on the way to get some water, thinking they’d need me to pee in a cup (they didn’t). I was shown into the examination room and told to strip from the waist down in case my OB wanted to examine me (I hadn’t even thought about that). Since I was bleeding, they helpfully put what resembled a puppy pad on the table for me. I stripped down and hopped up on the table and waited for a minute or two before realizing… you know, I bet my cup would be in the way if he wants to examine me. I thought about going to the restroom for a minute, but spotted the sink in the exam room and hopped off the table to take my menstrual cup out right then. Of course – OF COURSE – my cup decides to hug my cervix as close as freaking possible and I was frantically groping at it, trying to pull it down within my grasp. That took up precious seconds that I didn’t have, apparently, as my OB knocked to enter the room while I was emptying my cup, clasping the pink paper sheet clumsily around my bare butt while trying to turn off the water and also get paper towels and also make this seem like the most natural thing in the world. Ahhh, such class and grace.

Anyway, I hastily wrapped my cup in a paper towel and hopped back up on the table. I’m 95% sure I didn’t flash him or anything, but then I remembered that he has seen inside my vagina. Hell, he’s seen inside my abdominal cavity…. I don’t think seeing my bare butt would phase him.

ANY-anyway, the appointment resulted in more questions than answers. I am definitely bleeding, a lot, but my cervix is closed. The ultrasound didn’t really show anything (no cute little blueberry) but that could just be because I’m still not quite even 5 weeks along. They drew blood for lab work and prescribed progesterone, just in case. My doctor let me go with instructions to call back if my bleeding gets heavier or hasn’t let up in a couple of days. We kept my original follow-up appointment on the books for next Tuesday, complete with an ultrasound.

And that’s where I am right now. Google University tells me that I’m experiencing a threatened miscarriage, where my body is basically deciding whether or not to miscarry. My cervix being closed is good news because once it opens, my body is truly miscarrying and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Crazily enough, about half of women who experience threatened miscarriages go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. Which is a crazy thought, given the amount of bleeding I have right now. Luffy sort of thinks we should just wipe the slate clean now. I tend to agree. I mean, if my uterus is wishy-washy on the viability of the whole pregnancy now, perhaps we should just go with its gut and start over.

So yeah – we’ll see. I think I’m still going to miscarry. I’ve been having cramps, felt even through a double dose of Aleve. My doctor thought my bleeding would subside since he “wiped” most of it out of me this morning. I can assure you that it has not subsided. I haven’t taken my progesterone yet, so perhaps that will help. Only time will tell.

Intangible

And just like that, my second pregnancy is over.

I don’t want to be dramatic about it, frankly, because I don’t “deserve” that badge. I was pregnant for a week. I found out ridiculously early, so this miscarriage is actually deemed a chemical pregnancy. There are many stories much worse than mine.

I had some spotting last week, starting on Wednesday, that never really let up. It didn’t get any heavier though, so I just assumed it was due to the pelvic exam Tuesday and (ahem) sex. I made a mistake though and took another pregnancy test Friday morning. I had been hoping to see some line progression – darkening lines on the hCG indicator. I had tested Tuesday morning and had been a little dismayed to find that my lines hadn’t gotten any darker since my first test, four days prior. However, my retest on Friday in pursuit of reassurance brought me far from that. My test, though still technically positive, was drastically lighter than my first test a week prior. That, combined with the spotting, made me concerned I was going to experience a miscarriage. A worry which came to fruition this morning when I woke up to bright red spotting that quickly turned into a heavier flow.

The silver lining here though is that since this is basically a heavy period, we can start trying again right away (at least, according to my research – I intend to call my doctor tomorrow to make sure). And I have another couple of weeks to drink some wine, so there’s that.

And that’s all I really have. My inner superstitious self is side-eyeing my writing though. It can never really be that easy can it?

Doctor’s confirmation

I mentioned that I had my Well Woman visit scheduled for yesterday. It went well. Hooray! (as the dumpling would say)

As I was being led back to get my weight and blood pressure taken, I mentioned that I had just gotten a positive pregnancy test. They administered their own test and my doctor went through the routine Well Woman’s visit as we waited for the results. They came back positive as well – yay! – though faint. My LMP puts me at 4w0d exactly. (And, in talking with my OB, we decided to use the later date, 12/11, as the date of LMP. As painful as that is right now to “lose” several days of progress, it will ensure that the dumpling 2.0* is as mature as possible in the end.)

My doctor had me go in for an ultrasound, but there really wasn’t anything to be seen at 4w0d. I’ll go back in two weeks for a follow-up, to check placement of the embryo and see if there’s a heartbeat to be seen.


As far as how I’m doing at barely four weeks along, I have to say better than last time. At least in terms of head space. I’m feeling really great still, though it’s pretty early to be feeling any true symptoms. I have some moderate cramping that seems to be helped with hydration. Overnight my water consumption more than doubled in an effort to stay ahead of the cramping. I’m also waiting for the reassuring line progression on my pregnancy tests, just like last time. I tested again this morning and was a little dismayed to find that my line is identical to the line from Friday morning. I’m reminding myself that I’m still really, really early. I’m going to try to hold off on testing again until next week, though I might not make it that long.

Other than that, I’m pretty relaxed this time around. It almost feels like an afterthought as I remember to take my prenatal vitamin or have a thought to have wine with dinner and then remember – oh right! that!

*I really need to brainstorm a better nickname. I don’t like dumpling 2.0 because this little bean isn’t the second version of the dumpling. He/She is his/her own little person! I could stick with the whole theme I have going on here… maybe pot-sticker? Or I could call this little one bao. As in xiao long bao. Guess I’ll just have to see what sticks!

And suddenly there were two… Part 2

If you’ve been around here long enough, I probably don’t even need to explain, but who am I kidding? I’m going to anyway:

I’m pregnant!

It honestly feels so crazy and, dare I say it, easy that I can’t really believe it. I mean, after it took us nearly 18 months to conceive our dumpling – 18 months! Numerous doctor’s visits. Fertility drugs. Literally hundreds of ovulation tests. Dozens of (negative) pregnancy tests. And here I am, pregnant with our second within our first month of trying.

But wait?! I’m confused… didn’t you guys decide to stick with one child?

Yeah. We did. Luffy didn’t want another at the time and there’s not exactly a lot of room to compromise over the second child question. So, we were decided. So what happened? Luffy changed his mind. It happened last September, just a week or so before we were going on our vacation. His decision came out of the blue for me. We were eating dinner, him and I, and he just announced that he wanted another, if I still did. Though it seemed unexpected to me, knowing Luffy, I’m sure he put a lot of thought into it. I remember laughing, in a way, because he said over dinner that perhaps next year (as in 2019), when the dumpling was three, we’d talk more about it. But then, just a couple of days later, we had to go over our health insurance selections for work and he mentioned trying in January (which is obviously much earlier than the dumpling’s birth month of October). Anyway, this part is getting really long and rambling, suffice to say that once he changed his mind, he really went full throttle. We mutually decided to have my IUD removed in early December, to give us about four attempts at conception before we’d discuss holding off.

[We’re planners, as I’ve mentioned before, so we have multiple reasons why we want to conceive in the first few months of the year. (1) Fall birthdays give an edge to kids because they’re automatically some of the oldest of their class. We could of course “hold them back” if they just barely meet the September 1st cutoff that most schools have, but this way we don’t have to. (2) For health insurance purposes, getting pregnant at the first of the year means that all of your costs for the pregnancy are within a single deductible cycle. This lowers your out of pocket cost as the insurance company is forced to shoulder their portion of the pregnancy/birth. It would sort of suck to have met your deductible in the first eight months of your pregnancy, only to give birth in January and face a newly reset deductible. (3) I really liked having the holiday season during the dumpling’s newborn months. It gave me something to look forward to in the monotony and stress of the newborn days. I think it helped me avoid PPD in a way.]

So any-anyway (jeez, I can sure get verbose about things, can’t I??) I had my IUD removed in early December, right before my next period was due. And here’s where I need everyone to start paying attention because we’ve got a mystery on our hands! slaps hands together and settles in to give ALLLL the details

[TMI warning! You and I are close, but you might want to head out if period talk bugs you. I won’t take any offense!]

So I had my IUD removed on December 5th. As it was cycle day (CD) 29, I was expecting my period within the next week or so. You guys know I have irregular cycles. They had settled into a “pattern” of short and long cycles. So I’d have one cycle that was 32 days and then the next would be 37, then 34, then 42, you get the idea. Just enough inconsistency, that I could never really pin it down. My previous cycle though had been 33 days, so I expected the next one (in which I would have my IUD removed) to be on the longer side.

So my IUD was removed on CD 29. Shortly after it was removed, on CD 32 (aka a Saturday), I started spotting. Very light. Very inconsistent. Spotting usually heralds my period within 12-24 hours, but no dice this time. Sunday (CD 33) brings the same, as does Monday (CD 34), and even Tuesday. By Tuesday though, it was a consistent enough flow that I decided to call Tuesday the first day of my period (aka CD 1). At the time, this weirdness didn’t seem like a big deal at all. I went on to have a ridiculously long period (ten days of bleeding), followed by another week or so of medium to heavy spotting. Very weird, though I figured the removal of my IUD caused it.

But! This was going to be our first cycle to try to conceive. So I looked at the calendar to figure out when to start ovulation testing and settled on CD 17 (aka the Thursday after Christmas – aaka A WEEK AGO). I figured it might be a touch early, but that’s ok, after all, we didn’t want to miss it. I got up and tested that morning and was met with a resounding positive. I was definitely in an LH surge. I had my first woah moment as I stared at that test. I meant it up there, when I said I had gone through literally hundreds of ovulation tests the first time around. All that summer when my body tried multiple times. Through failed rounds of Clomid. So. Many. Tests. So many, in fact, that I didn’t hesitate in ordering 40 for this round of trying. Have your own woah moment: Hundreds of failed tests for pregnancy 1.0. 40 ordered tests for pregnancy 2.0. Used one.

Woah.

So CD 17, as in last Thursday, I get a positive ovulation test. Luffy and I do our part towards conceiving a child. Maybe a few times for good measure. And then, this morning, I could not shake the urge to test. Just couldn’t. I was literally having the argument with myself mid-peeing, that it was ridiculous to test this early. It’s way too early! Only CD 25! Only nine days after my positive ovulation test! You’re just wasting a pregnancy test Belle!

And yet, I couldn’t shake the urge. So I tested. And it was positive. Just like that.

Woah.

So now I’m actually questioning my dates. I mean, my results were much more pronounced this time around than they were the first pregnancy even though I’m using the same brand. Last time, I got my positive result twelve days after ovulation (and it’s a barely-there, squint-to-see-it result). This time, I got my positive result supposedly NINE days after ovulation and it’s an unquestionable positive. Makes me wonder if that CD 1 up there (good gracious – three paragraphs ago – I sure meant it about alllll of the details) was actually CD 4, which would put me ovulating on Monday or Tuesday of last week (as opposed to Thursday). Perhaps my positive ovulation result was the backside of the LH curve (the first chart on the page). That would mean this positive pregnancy result came eleven or twelve days after ovulation. That seems much more likely. I mean nine days post ovulation is five days before my missed period which is just inconceivable, especially with a test result as unquestionable as mine is.

Oh, wow, didn’t realize you were still sitting here; I’m just yammering on to myself. Thanks for reading so far, for listening to me as I try to wrap my mind around the fact that just. like. that. I’m pregnant with Little Dumpling 2.0. I need to think of a better name for him. Or her. Oh my god I’m gonna have a baby.