Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Raising Up

I named my rainbow baby Anastasia because I loved how the meaning of the name is so pertinent to what we had to go through to have her.  The meaning is usually said to be "resurrection", but there is more to it than that.  Anastasia comes from the Greek word anastasis, which also means "a raising up" and "a recovery from a debilitating condition".  There is no doubt that she has raised our family up to a better place.  

For me, the depression and anxiety documented earlier on this blog lifted once Anastasia was born, just as I expected it would.  What I didn't expect was the great improvement in health I've had since Anastasia was born.  It is well known that pregnancy and breastfeeding can put endometriosis into remission.  For me, it has stayed that way even after she was weaned.  The pelvic pain that plagued me for a DECADE, sometimes causing constant pain lasting for months, has been entirely gone these last four years!  This has been a lovely surprise and has enabled me to do things that were difficult before.  I used to be unable to sit for long periods without pain, which made things like traveling and watching movies unpleasant.  Now, to Q's great joy, I am capable of sitting on my butt for hours at a time.

Seriously, though, this pregnancy is kicking my butt like no other before it.  It must be my age, because I am utterly exhausted much of the time.  This means my house is often disgusting because I can't keep up with the dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc.  Also I only make real dinners a couple of times a week.  The rest of the time we rely on convenience foods from the supermarket.  It's great to have this option, but it is not good for the budget nor is it as appealing as a home cooked meal.  

The anxiety with this pregnancy has been very much like last time, but with other added stressors thrown as well, such as the fact that we need to buy a house and move very soon whether here in Minnesota or in some other state.  With my last pregnancy, we knew what stress we were in for and simplified our lives to make it easier to handle.  Not so this time around.  

This time, the biggest difference is that I'm coming at it from a very different angle.  Last time I was starting out from a very bad place, climbing week by week out of a deep depression and finally being raised up to a very high place.  The view from the top is stunning - everything I'd hoped for and well worth the climb.

With this pregnancy I began at the top, which is obviously a plus.  However, when I peer over the edge of the cliff and see the place far below where I lay broken not so very long ago, I am filled with a terror that is beyond words.  

So this is where I stand at nineteen weeks.  Miles died at nineteen weeks.  Jeremiah died at twenty-one.  My next appointment is on Wednesday, when I hope to get some good images of the cord.  Friday I leave for a family reunion.  The timing is less than ideal in my eyes, but hopefully it will be a good distraction so I won't feel stalked by death every single moment.  If I run away fast enough and go far enough, maybe death won't find me this time!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Physician Menace

I am so fed up with doctors I could just cry.  I fact I have.  

Things have been very tense around here lately and the pregnancy is just part of it.  I'm at eighteen weeks now and have been feeling the baby move for a couple of weeks now.  Hopefully this is a sign that all is well with baby and that it will continue this way.

I had an ultrasound last Tuesday at 17 weeks 1 day.  I had to beg and plead with the perinatalogy clinic to get this appointment because they were quite insistent that I wait until 20 weeks for another appointment.  I was quite insistent that this would not do AT ALL.  I was able to talk with Dr. Collins and he thought it was absurd that my clinic was being difficult about this.  This is the same clinic I saw when pregnant with Anastasia.  At that time they did weekly doppler scans of the cord starting at 16 weeks. They were only too pleased to take my money then and I just can't understand why they are taking this radically different approach now.   

So I went to the appointment and had the ultrasound, which showed baby's growth is on track.  They also did dopplers of the cord, but refused to do any other scanning of the cord, such as trying to look at it in 3D or trying to measure the coiling.  Q and I talked to the doctor and she said the dopplers looked OK to her.  She seemed generally dismissive of our concern about the cord despite our explanations about this being a recurrent problem in our case.  We also explained that we want Dr. Collins to look at the pictures since he is an expert in this issue.  She then gave us a disk with our pictures on it and we went on our merry way.

When I put the disk in my computer at home, however, I found that we had only 4 pictures - one of baby's profile and 3 of her legs.  This does me no good at all.  I called the clinic when they opened the next day (Wednesday) and was told there's nothing anyone could do until at least Friday when the particular satellite clinic that saw me Tuesday would be open again and could try to get the cord pictures off the ultrasound machine they used.  So I waited until Friday and after several phone calls, was told I could come pick up a disk of the cord photos at the clinic after 2:00.  

And did our little story finally end happily?  Of course not.  At 1:00 the clinic called again to say don't bother coming in because actually they can't give me the pictures after all.  Suddenly it's against their policy to let patients have any images except a few "just for fun".  I assume then that if recurrent leg problems were an issue with my children, I would not have been given the three "fun" leg pictures I now have and may instead have gotten some "fun" cord pictures.  I made clear that this was entirely unacceptable.  When I made the appointment I stated that the purpose was to get pictures of the cord to send to Dr. Collins.  I also discussed this with the actual doctor when the ultrasound was done.  She didn't say one word to indicate this was a problem, but now she is the one who "made the call" not to let us have the images.

Next, I got to speak with the actual doctor.  I do not not take kindly to know-it-all, condescending, patronizing doctors and was very direct while still remaining civil.  Where we stand now is that I'm supposed to be able to get the images from the clinic on Tuesday (tomorrow) when they are open again.  Doing it that day was apparently just too much for the overworked staff.  You know how hard it is to transfer .jpg files onto a disk.  

If that doesn't happen, I am making an appointment at my regular OB office to get pics of the cord.  They don't have the expertise to interpret such pictures, but they've said they do have the capability of at least giving them to me.  I am supposed to go to Tennessee for a family reunion in two weeks.  I will be twenty weeks - the same time frame when both Jeremiah and Miles died.  My stress level is 
at Severe already and I want to know what Dr. Collins thinks about these images before I hit the road.

And on top of all this, Q has a job offer in Texas to consider.  This is a VERY dramatic decision, especially given the timing.  

Also, I will run out of Lovenox tomorrow despite my best efforts over the past two weeks to acquire a new supply from a mail-order pharmacy as required by my insurance.  Just found out I will not be getting it in time from them and now have to fight with my insurance to let me get it at a retail pharmacy locally, if  I can find one that actually has it in stock.  

After that, I will spend the rest of the day taking kids to the mall and the beach because it's summer break now.  We're going to have fun, dammit!  One of the most exhausting things about the current situation is trying to act like everything is perfectly normal.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Due to lack of time, I haven't been able to document this pregnancy like I did for the last one, so I'm just going to have to summarize the last three months and try to do better going forward.  Let's hope there will be five more months of going forward.  Here's the timeline so far:

March 3-8:  Family vacation in Texas.  Besides visiting tourist sites in San Antonio and Dallas, we also met with a couple of friends, including Cindy (see here), her husband, and two miracle kids!

March 10:  Back in Minnesota, I realize that my period is late.  I had not been alerted to this fact while on vacation because although I expected my period, I'd left the date of my last period at home and thought I must have miscalculated when to expect the next one.  There could be no other explanation, right?  Wrong.  I went and bought a pregnancy test.  Positive.  One might think I'd be overjoyed to get pregnant without trying after years of infertility and I do hope to get there in time.  But if one knows what recurrent pregnancy loss is like, then one knows why I said A Very Bad Word.

The first item of business was to inform Q, who unfortunately could not be reached by phone at that moment.  So I sent him the following text:  "Turns out it wasn't the Whattaburger that made me feel ill."  This is in reference to the time I felt a little sick after eating a Whattaburger in Texas.  I thought it was just the result of days of eating meals that featured few fruits and veggies and precious little fiber.

Also sent Q this photo, because what man doesn't appreciate getting a message
like this in the middle of an important meeting at work?

After spending years of our lives and tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatment, we had been enjoying the compensatory benefit of saving tens of dollars on contraception for these last few years.  We thought that pregnancy was inconceivable for us and this news is shocking beyond expression.  

After calling my sister and talking to Cindy, I called my doctor.  With my last pregnancy, I had to do a little doctor shopping to find someone willing to prescribe Lovenox from embryo transfer instead of making me wait until week six or seven weeks when a heartbeat could be seen, which is standard practice.  Luckily, no one gave me any crap this time about starting Lovenox right away.  I started about two weeks later than I did with Anastasia, but about two weeks earlier than it would normally be allowed.  Also, I am taking the same vitamins/supplements as before (baby aspirin, folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, prenatal vitamin).   
Shootin' Up!
April 7 - 8, no 9 weeks along

This was my first doctor appointment.  It was supposed to be on April Fool's Day, which was very appropriate because the whole thing still feels like a joke. However, after realizing that prenatal care is no longer covered as "preventive care" under our insurance, I decided to see my regular OB rather than the high-risk clinic at least for now since there's nothing anyone can do this point if things go wrong.  Might as well save some $$$.

At this point my hope was that either A) everything goes well with this pregnancy and I get to bring home a live baby or B) I miscarry early - the risk at my age is over 20%.  Although I'd obviously prefer scenario A, I feel I could live with either of these.  What terrifies me is the possibility of suffering another late loss.  Having done it twice before does not make me better prepared for this.  More knowledgeable about the process, yes.  But better at doing it?  No.  NO!!  Burying babies is not something one gets better at with practice.

In the ultrasound room, we see that not only is baby alive, but also measuring a full week ahead!  My due date gets changed to November 9 and I am officially nine weeks along.  Nice to have an extra week under my belt that easily.  This means that I successfully produced a mature, viable egg by day 7 of my cycle, a feat I never managed previously even with the aid of powerful drugs.  Also, Q managed to produce sperm capable of going the distance and finding that egg, and this despite his very low testosterone levels.  Inconceivable!

April 24 - almost 12 weeks

Another ultrasound.  Baby is measuring on track.  We did a blood test which extracts fetal cells from my blood to determine the presence of Down Syndrome and other chromosomal defects as well as gender.  The baby is a GIRL and has normal chromosomes!

My survival mechanism so far is denial.  I've been sick and tired in the first trimester, but that hasn't made it seem real.  Also, I thought doing injections again would rather drive home the point that this is happening.  It was a little weird taking up needlework again, but only for a couple of days.  It had been so much a part of my life for so long that it really does seem like a perfectly normal thing to do.

Alas it's midnight and so I'll have to finish later!

Next time:  Annie Argues with Stupid Doctors 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A New Hope

So it appears that improbable things DO happen to me after all.  A full eight years after Q and I were last able to make a baby just with tools we have around the house, I found out that I am pregnant again.  How did this happen, you may wonder?  I'll tell you when you're older.  Seriously, though, I'll write more soon about how Q and I got this shocking news and what has happened between then and now.

Where I am now is 14 weeks along.  What we know so far is that the baby is a girl, she has normal chromosomes, is measuring on track, and the due date in November 9, which is the week of my fortieth birthday.  What we don't have any idea about yet is the state of the umbilical cord.  If you know of my history, you know this is a critical matter.  Until more is known about the condition of the cord, I hardly dare imagine what the future holds.

When I was pregnant with Anastasia, my older two kids were in school, so I had a little discretionary time each day.  I tried to compartmentalize all things pregnancy-related into that time - appointments, finding baby's heartbeat with the doppler, writing this blog, and worrying.  Of course, I was unsuccessful at compartmentalizing the anxiety, but it was nice to have the free time for the other things.

This time I don't have any regular free time for myself and when school gets out in three weeks I'll have to cut back further, and that's really going to hurt.  In the past, I was able to write and read other blogs frequently and thus became part of a community of bloggers.  This time around, I'm simply writing for myself and to update friends and family, as well as for the benefit of anyone who suffers recurrent cord-related losses like mine.

My kids, who are now 12, 10, and nearly 4, know nothing of the pregnancy so far.  One of the most difficult things about our situation is the need to hide the pregnancy until it is far enough along that we feel there is some hope that the baby will live.  We have a high-level ultrasound scheduled at 19 weeks which we hope will yield good enough news that we could tell the kids.  I look back at how fun it was a few years ago to tell them I was pregnant with Anastasia.  But then I also remember when I was pregnant with Miles, who died just days before we were going to tell the kids I was pregnant.  This could go either way.  Not having much free time to think about this is not such a bad thing after all!

? at 11 weeks because the 14 weeks pics are even fuzzier!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The End

Anastasia (Mei-Mei) is now over two months old.  So many roadblocks  could have prevented her from even being conceived, not to mention all the other things that could have gone wrong. 
I'm in a state of perpetual amazement that Cradles and Graves has ended with a cradle!  

It's been a long journey that began with one critical step - daring to try again despite multiple losses and infertility.  Trying again could have brought us the worst disaster we'd ever faced.  Instead it brought us our finest hour!

The hope and courage to try again were largely inspired by Cindy, who showed us that success is possible even after multiple losses.  Thank you, Cindy, for being willing to share your experiences!   My wish is that through this blog, I can pass on that hope and courage to others who have experienced similar losses and are afraid to try again.  It really is possible to have a live, healthy baby even after multiple cord-related losses.  Post-loss pregnancy is very hard,  but also very worth it!

It's been a joy "meeting" so many wonderful bloggy friends over the past few years.  Thank you for all the kind words, prayers, and support!  And with that, I will sign off:

Good morning, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well, it's my penultimate post.  Blogging has been fun (despite some very grim subject matter), therapeutic, and educational.  I've learned a lot from reading your blogs and will continue to follow along.  Before I sign off on my blog, it's time for one last chance at fun prizes here at Cradles and Graves.  Here's the scoop:

The objective is to match the items in The List below to the post referencing it - you can use the post title or date.  [Example:  AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Are Not Dirt Cheap (7/5/10)]  You get one point for each match. All the answers can be found in posts dated from November 2010 until now.

Email me your answers on or before October 31; DON'T put your answers in the comments section below - that is just helping the competition! My email is cradlesandgraves at yahoo dot com

This is intended to be EASY. Almost all of the answers are in the post titles, so just look at the archive list. Three items are quotes within posts and can easily be found using the handy "Search This Blog" feature on my sidebar.

The person with the most points wins a $30 Victoria's Secret gift card.  If it's a tie then the prize goes to the person who got the score first.  It's fine to send multiple emails - send them whenever you find answers and I will keep a tally of your total.
One winner will be chosen randomly, so make sure to enter even if you find only one answer.  [Hint:  Look at the post just below!]  The winner will get a selection of fine chocolates and shortbread.

YOU can win.  It doesn't matter if you're a blogger or not.  Doesn't matter if you're a previous winner here, or if you live in a different country.  Or whether you're just stopping by for ICLW or are a long-time real-life friend.  

The List:  

1) the musical Annie
2) Tori Amos
3) A period of violence that occurred for one year and one month after the onset of the  French Revolution
4) The Beatles 
5) Tracy Bonham
6) Johnny Cash
7) Christian hymn
8) Bill Clinton
9) Charles Dickens
10) The Joy Luck Club
11) Lady Gaga
12) Led Zeppelin
13) Leo Tolstoy
14) A pop standard from the 1940's by Frank Loesser
15) A young-adult novel by Lois Lowry
16) Madonna
17) Marilyn Monroe
18) John Mellencamp
19) H. Ross Perot
20) Queen
21) Orson Welles
22) TV show in which the hosts use scientific methods to test the validity of various myths and misconceptions
23) TV show that profiles fugitives wanted for various crimes
24) Variation on the title of a theological book by C.S. Lewis
25) Young MC
26) 1967 romantic comedy/drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft
27) 1977 comedy film produced and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays the lead role of new administrator of The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous
28) 1995 comedy based on Jane Austen's novel Emma 
29) 2000 movie about a hostage rescue starring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe

Update November 1:  And now, the winners of my contest! The Victoria's Secret gift card goes to Embracing the Rain, who scored an impressive 28 points.  I've decided to pick TWO random winners, so chocolates/shortbread go to Jana at Find Joy Now and Sissy Wisk in Kentucky.  

Also, here's a recent pic of Mei-Mei:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Suicide Bombs and Sleeper Cells

One of the many great delights of being pregnant was that it put my endometriosis in remission.  Now that I am breastfeeding, my hope is to enjoy at least another full year of feeling fabulous.  I also hope to keep my knees together and stay out of the stirrups, 'cuz I'm a lady.  

These days, my mind is usually occupied with happy things, but sometimes I worry about what awaits me when the endo becomes active again.  I picture the endometrioma(s) on my lone ovary as suicide bombers just waiting for the chance to blow it all to hell.  

And of course there are all the other endo implants lurking who-knows-where.  Right now they're sleeper cells,  but they may become quite menacing once activated. 

I've already had some familiar, though short-lived pain since Mei-mei was born.  Alarmed that the sleeper cells may be reactivating so soon, I reported this to the proper authority.  According to my doctor, the pain is likely caused by my innards yanking on some adhesions as they shift back into place.  

My doctor also mentioned birth control.  Ha!  He said he's seen miraculous post-IVF pregnancies, but I don't think that will happen to me.  Improbable things don't happen to me!  I don't know whether a do-it-ourselves pregnancy is impossible or just extremely improbable.  Maybe adhesions have distorted my anatomy.  Or maybe my only tube is blocked.  I have no intention of doing any sort of tests to find out:

As far as reproduction is concerned, Q and I are taking a laissez faire approach. I'm 99.9% certain that we can't make another baby just with tools we have around the house.  While we would welcome another living child, we have no intention of messing things up by risking another traumatic loss.  Not that it's up to us anyway - thanks infertility!  The objective now is to relax and enjoy our lives sans fertility treatment.  For me, no more charting, no more injections, and no more planning my life around doctor appointments.  For Q, no more Wacking Day, no more Uplifting Reading in The Back Room, and no more dealing with an erratic hormonal wife.  Ok, so maybe he's not totally off the hook on that last one.  

Since our story has reached a very happy ending and there will be no trying again, the time is nigh for signing off on this blog.  But first we will be having a little contest and giveaway, so stay tuned!

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, 

on where you stop your story.  -Orson Welles