Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nothing Inside

I'm having a miscarriage.

Tuesday was my first prenatal appointment. Aaron and I arrived at the medical commons and were told upon registering that the doctor (who I hadn't met yet) was running quite late and that we were in for a bit of a wait. No problem, I thought...Grace didn't need to be picked up from day care for a couple of hours yet and there were plenty of magazines to read, so we made ourselves comfortable in the waiting area and enjoyed some quiet reading time.

After waiting 20 minutes or so, a nurse came out and called us back to a room. She told us that she would be asking me a bunch of questions to get information about my medical history since I was a new patient. Afterwards, I would need to wait some more and then I would be able to meet with the doctor. We went through all of the medical history questions, discussed family genetics for both my family and Aaron's, and then the nurse gave us the prenatal nutrition speech (diet, exercise, etc) and told us a little more about the facility where I would be delivering the baby. Standard first prenatal visit stuff.

We were sent back out to the waiting room, and after waiting a bit more, my doctor's medical assistant came out to us and told us that unfortunately the doctor was delayed a bit more. She suggested that I head down to the lab to have my prenatal blood tests drawn while we wait. She gave us the clinic's thick "Information for Expectant Parents" binder to read while waiting and sent us down to the lab. We paged through the binder while we waited and then I had my lab work done, peed in a cup, and soon we were heading back upstairs to the clinic.

Finally, about an hour and a half after our scheduled appointment time, we were called back to see the doctor. The medical assistant weighed me and said, "Let's get your blood pressure before we take you back to the ultrasound room."

Huh? Ultrasound?

I asked the medical assistant why I was having an ultrasound so early (I didn't have one with Grace until I was more than 12 weeks along), and she says that they typically like to do them on the first prenatal visit, but that they don't always have the space or availability to guarantee it for each woman, so it's not something that they don't tell patients when they make their appointment. Cool, I thought. We can see the baby today!

Then, suddenly, something inside me said, "No. I do not want to have this ultrasound." In fact, when the medical assistant took my blood pressure, she asked me, "Are you nervous?" I told her that I was, and she told me my blood pressure was high, something like 140/86. She joked and told me that she would let it slip this time. We walked to the ultrasound room, and waited for the doctor.

While we were waiting, I told Aaron how nervous I was feeling. He asked me why, and I told him that I was nervous that something was wrong. He told me that I shouldn't worry, that everything was okay, and that if it wasn't, that he would be here for me. I remember feeling so nervous that I could have jumped out of my skin. I even toyed with the idea of running out of the room and canceling the appointment. I just had a horrible feeling that something was wrong and I wanted to avoid finding out what it was.

The doctor came in and apologized for our long wait, explaining that she was on call and that she had a patient in labor over at the hospital who was getting ready to push. And then she got paged, excused herself to take the call, and eventually came back in. She quickly scanned the medical history information that her nurse had taken earlier, asked me some questions about my last pregnancy, and noted that I was vomiting earlier this week. She asked me if I had a fever when I was sick and I said yes, I had a low grade fever while I was throwing up. She told me that she thought that the vomiting was not related to morning sickness at all, because of the fever, and that it was probably just a fluke and a coincidence and that hopefully I would escape the morning sickness monster altogether. She also did some quick calculations and confirmed that I was eight weeks pregnant and that my due date would be January 5th. She was excited because I was to be her first '09 mom.

January 5th. I will never forget that date.

And then came the pelvic exam. Aaron stepped out briefly, at my request, because for some strange reason I wanted privacy during this part of the appointment. Over the course of the appointment, I had started to warm up to my doctor. She was young, knowledgeable, and had a good sense of humor. We talked about all of the great restaurants that there are in Bayview, near to our home, and talked about all of the great shopping that there is around my office in Brookfield. The pelvic exam went without incident, and Aaron was called back into the room for the ultrasound.

Aaron and I watched the screen intently, not really knowing what we were looking at, and there was silence in the room for several seconds. Then the doctor said, "Huh." Several more seconds of silence, and then, "I don't see anything inside your uterus." She said it like she was saying, "Huh, I didn't think it was supposed to rain today," or, "Huh, I thought I put my car keys in my purse." Just a tone of mild surprise and wonder.

I closed my eyes, and my stomach dropped. I grabbed Aaron's hand.

Please, look harder, I thought. And she did. She looked harder, showed Aaron and me both of my ovaries, my cervix, and my empty uterus. She showed us where the baby should be, and all that we could see was nothing. Everything looked perfectly normal, except for the fact that our baby was gone. She mentioned a slight dilation of something, and I wish now that I had the presence of mind to ask her what she meant, but I didn't, so that comment remains a mystery. I remember being slightly conscious of the sound of Aaron shifting his weight back and forth on his legs and chewing his gum faster and faster.

All that I could think of at that moment was Aaron. No one deserves to be a dad more than this man. He has loved and accepted Grace as his own daughter, he is a good, good man, he DESERVES this baby. God, I know I have screwed up in my life and if you want to punish me, fine, but DO NOT punish Aaron. Please, God. I couldn't even bear to look at his face, because the disappointment and sadness that I knew I would see in his expression would have been enough to make me lose my shit.

The doctor stood up and told us that there were three possibilities to explain what we saw, or rather, what we didn't see. The first possibility was that this was a normal pregnancy but our dates were off and I wasn't as far along as I had thought. This was a remote possibility because I hadn't had a period for eight weeks and I'm healthy and have relatively regular cycles. The second possibility was that this was a tubal pregnancy and that the doctor was unable to see anything because the ultrasound machine she was using was not super high-tech and she didn't have a good view of my tubes. Again, this was not a very probable explanation, because if my pregnancy was ectopic, chances are that I would have had bleeding or some strong pain by now, and I hadn't had either. The final, most probable explanation was that I had had an early miscarriage and it was just starting so I hadn't had any symptoms yet. The doctor told me that she would order some additional tests on the blood that I had taken earlier in the afternoon and that she would call us that night with the results. If my hCG level was 2000 or more, she would order another ultrasound for the next day at the hospital and take a closer look. If the level was less than 2000, she would have me come back every couple of days for repeat blood tests to follow the levels. Either way, she said, this was most likely not a normal pregnancy and we are losing the baby. Then she apologized because her staff gave us the parenting binder earlier and said that she wished they could have done the ultrasound first.

No shit.

The doctor told us to take as much time as we needed, and left the room. We sat there for a long time, and I let myself cry for a while, and Aaron cried, too. After a few minutes, I realized that we needed to pick Grace up from day care and briefly thought that exactly four years ago, at that moment, I was receiving a call from my obstetrician in Oshkosh telling me that they would be inducing my labor the next day because my blood pressure was too high. Four years after hearing the exciting news that I would be meeting my first baby in less than 24 hours, I learn that my second baby is gone.

Aaron offered to pick Grace up, since I was a mess, and I headed for home. As soon as I arrived, I quickly jumped on Google to look up miscarriage and tubal pregnancies, but soon lost the strength to read the information. I sobbed and sobbed, and then I heard Aaron's truck pull in the driveway. I pulled myself together as best as I could, and got ready to put on a happy face for Gracie. She came in the door and immediately gave me a big hug--Aaron had told her in the car on the way home that Mommy was sad and needed a hug. This was not the first time in my child's life that she has been an immense comfort to me. Seeing her took the edge off of my grief.

I made a call to my parents to tell them what was happening and promised them that I would call back as soon as I heard back from the doctor. I went through the rest of our nightly routine as best as I could, and put Gracie to bed. Just as she was falling asleep the doctor called. She told me that my level of hCG was near zero, and that (thankfully) ruled out a tubal pregnancy. She told me that what was happening was that I had an early miscarriage and that many women in my case would not have even known that they were pregnant, but I took the pregnancy test early enough for the little hormone that I was producing to register. She apologized, told me that there was nothing that we could do, and told me that I should expect to start bleeding and passing tissue over the next week or so (she said she was actually surprised that I hadn't started bleeding yet). She said that the pregnancy was young enough that I should miscarry without any complication, so there shouldn't be any intervention (such as a D&C) needed. She told me to make an appointment to follow up with her in the next couple of weeks and that if I hadn't completed the miscarriage by then, she would give me some medicine to help it along.

So, now we are waiting. Waiting for the end of all of this. My doctor made it seem as though passing the remains of the baby was going to be a bloody and painful process, but after doing some research on my own and talking with some people who know something about this, it's possible that my body absorbed the tissue and that I won't actually need to pass it. I guess that remains to be seen. My appointment is a week from today and as I said, if I haven't at least started spotting by then, my doctor will give me the medicine to help things along.

I am numb. I am devastated. This is quite possibly one of the most difficult things that I have had to face and I'm not sure what to do to make it better. I know that I wasn't pregnant for very long, but we HAD a baby, and now it's gone, and I am grieving. We are grieving.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace

I have heard stories from many moms who say that it took them a while to fall in love with their babies. I consider myself among the luckiest of the lucky--I fell in love with you from the moment I first laid eyes on your perfect little face, and the grip you have on my heart has tightened with each passing day.

You're not a baby're a little girl, full of your own personality and verve.
You have the best sense of make me laugh out loud every single day with the things you say and do.
You're truly care about people around you, and you show it. You give hugs when someone looks sad. You give little "presents" to make people feel better. You want those around you to feel happy I didn't think a small child was capable of showing such compassion, but you have proven me wrong.
You're continue to amaze me with the things that you know and you just keep soaking up information, and you look for opportunities to learn. You ask questions and you truly WANT to know the answers.
You're my favorite little snuggle bug...I sincerely look forward to having a chance to snuggle with you each night on the couch, smelling your hair and nuzzling your perfect skin, and I love the little hugs and kisses that you give me every day.
You're fun...I cherish our "girl time", when it's just you and me, just hanging out or shopping or playing. I love chatting with you about how our days went and life in general, just because you're my most wonderful little friend.
You're and I have been through lots of changes this year--we moved to a new house in a new city, you started at a new day care, we added Aarie to our little family--yet you have consistently shown me that you can go with the flow and you have adjusted beautifully. I am so proud of you.

Four years ago today, my life changed forever. Thank you, Gracie, for bringing me more happiness and love than I could have ever imagined. Happy birthday princess.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ay, me siento bien feo.

What we have here is a classic case of "Be careful what you wish for..."

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been troubled recently by the fact that this pregnancy has been relatively symptom-free, and given the fact that my first pregnancy was fraught with every symptom in the book, I joked that I wished I could puke my guts out, just once, so I could feel like this pregnancy is a normal one. Well, today, I got my wish and then some. We had spent last night with my in-laws, since they had a big family get-together/fishing derby for the holiday weekend, and bright and early this morning, I proceeded to puke my guts out. Not once, not twice, but SEVERAL times. The nauseousness was so bad that it woke me up out of a sound sleep and had me sprinting to the bathroom every ten minutes or so, until the contents of my stomach were thoroughly emptied.

Naturally, since I am not a quiet puker by any stretch of the imagination, the whole house was privy to what was happening, including Grace, who, when I told her that sometimes mommies get sick when they have babies in their bellies, decided that the baby was being naughty and needed a time out. I had to agree with her.

So, my in-laws gave me some kind words of encouragement and sent us along on our way home, armed with plastic bags in case I had to heave and we couldn't pull over in time, and we commenced the longest, most uncomfortable three-hour ride home in my life. I managed not to hurl at all until we returned home, thankfully, but after a full day on the couch and only eating a few saltine crackers and sipping on room-temperature water, I feel like crap. My back hurts, my butt hurts, my legs and hips are killing me and I feel like I am on the verge of chuffing again at any moment. Ugh.

Fortunately, I go to the doctor tomorrow, so we will see if she has any words of wisdom for me. I am seriously hoping that the sickness is transient this time, and that I am not sick for 95% of my pregnancy like I was with Grace. Like I told Aaron, I just don't feel mentally prepared for another pregnancy like that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It is soooo on.

Aaron showed me a photo today on Pitchfork that brought me much delight.

It's a picture of my fav band in the whole wide world, the Decemberists! (mmmmm...Colin Meloy on the far left...). Oh yeah, and Barack Obama is in the middle.

((angels singing))

This photo was posted on Pitchfork and was taken at an Obama rally that took place recently in Portland. This rally hauled in over 75,000 spectators, which blows away Obama's previous rally record of 35,000. Man, I would have loved to be able to attend that event.

Anyway, the thing that inspired me to write about this at 10pm on a school night is the actual article that went along with this photo. You can read it in its entirety here, but basically the article talks about how some Conservatives are downplaying the enormity of this event, stating that "The assumption here, of course, is that the Decemberists played a significant part in enticing those 75,000 people out to that lovely park on that sunny spring day, and that the Times and other "liberally biased" media outlets somehow conspired to ignore the band's presence in order to make Obama look better."


And then, at the end of the article, there is a reference to a piece on the obviously conservative site The Campaign Spot that suggests that the Decemberists are nothing more than a bunch of Communists.

Oh no you didn't. I know you didn't just call my favorite band in the world, a talented group of musicians whose music speaks to my soul a bunch of Commies. I know you didn't do that.

I could go on and on about how this is just another instance of Conservatives tossing around words that evoke negative reactions and emotions for some in order to frighten those people into their movement. Here is their logic: Barack Obama had this group of Commies open for him at his rally, so by default, he must be ONE OF THEM too. But, I won't get too high up on that soap box right now.

But, you picked on my band. I am shaking my fist at you. It is sooooo on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Feeling Fine

Here's the reason why I have been flipping my shizzy about this pregnancy: I feel great. Other than feeling a little bit tired, having the short bout with cramps, not really feeling like eating much of anything at all, and having some aches in my abdomen after toting Grace around more than I should have this weekend, I feel like regular ol', non-pregnant Sara. Not even my prenatal vitamins are making me sick! I guess I wouldn't be as concerned about feeling as good as I do if I hadn't had such a HORRIBLE pregnancy the first time. When I was pregnant with Grace, I was sick from about week six all the way up until about five hours before I delivered her, and I had just about every other pregnancy symptom in the book, from achy boobs to heartburn to weird food cravings. Well, if my calculations are right and we conceived when I think we did (it's hard to know, since all of the ovulations I took over the course of two weeks in April came back negative and I have no clue when I actually ovulated), I am six weeks along and I feel...great. This should be a good thing, no?

I was actually hoping that my trip to the dentist this afternoon would get my queasiness started, just so I could have a little reassurance. But there I laid, with the dentist elbow deep in my mouth (God, I hate going to the dentist) and the hygienist sucking out my gums with that gross sucker thing and I didn't feel even the slightest bit nauseous. Not even a little gag. Nothing, except for my sweaty back and tense neck muscles that can be traced back to the four syringes full of anesthetic it took to numb my mouth and mascara streaks on my cheeks from when the drilling started and the dentist realized, probably because of my groaning and eventual crying, that he needed to give me EVEN MORE anesthetic. (This is coming from a woman who gave birth without an epidural willingly--this is how much I hate dental work. But that's another story.)

This may be the first time in my life that I have wanted to puke my guts out, just once.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Need to Clean More

Life has been nutso lately, and my house cleaning has suffered greatly because of it. Over the last few days I have been getting more and more upset about the state of things and I vowed that this weekend, I'd set aside some time to get some serious cleaning done.

Tonight, after a trip to Target to buy a gift for a birthday party that Grace is attending tomorrow, I found a rare, quiet moment to get some quick preliminary cleaning done. Aaron decided to run to the grocery store and Grace was busily working on a new puzzle, so I decided to pick up our living room a bit. Our coffee table had become a landing pad for mail, Grace's art supplies, books, and DVD's. I managed to go through all of the mail and put all of the other stuff away, and I was so proud of myself. In fact, I did such a good job that Grace exclaimed, "Hey! We got a new coffee table! It's so clean!"

Nope, kiddo, that's the same one we've had for months. You just don't recognize it without all of the junk on top of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Today I chipped a tooth while eating some crackers at work. These were just your average, run-of-the-mill, Wheat Thin-type crackers...not even something extra crunchy like Melba toast. I was just happily chomping away, trying to rid myself of the mid-morning munchies, and CRUNCH--a rather large chunk of my tooth was gone. Luckily, I didn't realize what had happened till a few seconds later so I didn't notice it when I swallowed the newly chipped part of my tooth along with cracker bits. Also, luckily enough, the affected tooth is not one of my front teeth. Actually, it's a lower tooth towards the back of my mouth, so the only person it's noticeable to is me, and the only time I really notice it is when my tongue rubs up against the sharp point left at the top of my tooth where the chippage occurred.

I showed my tooth to Aaron tonight and his exact words were, "Oh my GOD! When are you going to the dentist?!?" Sadly, the receptionist at our family dentist's office couldn't be bothered to find me an appointment any sooner than next Monday. I guess missing a chunk-o-tooth doesn't rank you high enough on their triage list to warrant a same-day appointment.

I guess today is the day for apathetic health care providers. I have been having some moderate cramping over the past 24 hours or so, and although I know some cramping is normal in early pregnancy, I decided to call my doctor just to see if this is something to be concerned about. I mean, these aren't debilitating cramps and I haven't experienced any spotting or anything. It just seriously still feels like I'm going to be getting my period any second, even though I am 14 days late and have had two positive pregnancy tests. I'm a little concerned.

I called my new doctor's office and asked to speak with her nurse. I have never been in to see this doctor since this is my first need for an OB in Milwaukee and I haven't hadn't had my first prenatal visit yet, so this was also my first experience with this office's triage nurses. I explained my concerns the nurse and she pulled up my file. Here's a relatively accurate replay of our conversation:

Nurse: So this is your second pregnancy?

Me: Yep, sure is.

Nurse: Did you have cramping with your first pregnancy?

Me: Not that I recall, but it was four years ago and I'm a little hazy on the details.

Nurse: Are you spotting?

Me: Nope.

Nurse: How severe is the pain on a scale of one to ten?

Me: Probably a three or a four.

Nurse: Well, cramping is relatively common in early pregnancy. Call us back if you have any spotting. Is that all?

Me: Um, yes?

Nurse: Have a good day. (click)

Ok, yes, I know from my zillion Google searches of "cramping" and "early pregnancy" that some cramping is normal during pregnancy. I know that these nurses probably get this same call several times a day. But, a little more reassurance or possibly the offer of a blood test or something might have gone a long way to calm my fears. Seriously, whose idea was it to wait until a woman is in her eighth or ninth week of pregnancy for an initial prenatal visit? I know I could have been a little more assertive and asked for an appointment and just a quick check, but I was so stunned by this woman's lack of concern that I was rendered speechless. I'm sure that I am just being overly sensitive and that things are fine, but if things aren't, am I supposed to just sit here and wait until something happens? Ugh, ugh, UGH!

I don't know. I'm a little concerned about what will happen for the rest of my pregnancy if this is how the phone nurses react to my concerns. I am the type that will call in when something is bothering me and if I am met with this type of treatment each time, the time it will take from me to go from quiet, happy patient to screaming, nightmare patient will be able to be measured with an egg timer. I'm gonna give them one more shot. If the cramping continues or get worse, I'm calling back and asking for an appointment. If I get the same treatment, I'm out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holy. Crap.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Here's why:

Yep, that's two blue lines...the control line on the right, and the test line on the left. Yeah, the test line is fainter than the control line, but it's definitely there. Believe me...I have stared at this stick from every possible angle. This is actually the third test I took. Here's the first:

Obviously this picture was taken before Aaron gave me a tutorial on how to use the close up function on my camera. Anyway, the two options on this test are either "Not Pregnant" and "Pregnant" and since the display only contains one word, you can guess at the result even though the picture is fuzzy.

The second test I took was negative. Yeah, I don't know either.

So, if the first and third tests are to be believed, I am pregnant. The news was actually quite shocking to me, since we *technically* weren't even trying to conceive this month. And, I am still feeling quite crampy and I feel more premenstrual than I do pregnant. (Although the cramps are slightly different in nature than period cramps...right now I have more of a dull burning pain than crampy pain. It's weird.) And, the fact that I had that negative test puts some fear and doubt into my head. But, after doing tons of research on false negatives and false positives and after contacting the customer service hot line (twice) for the manufacturer of the digital test I took, I'm starting to let myself believe that it's true--that I am pregnant.

Holy crap.

**Update: I actually wrote this post more than a week ago, but Aaron and I decided to wait to post it till I was actually, sufficiently, late. I am now 12 days late, so I consider that sufficient. So, according to the zillion due date calculators that I have used online, my due date falls anywhere between January 6th and 9th. Although if my first pregnancy is any indication, I'll be a couple of weeks early, so we might have a Christmas baby on our hands. Keep your fingers crossed for's still quite early in the game and I have another 3 weeks before my doctor's appointment, so hopefully all is well.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yay Spring!!

Grace is a big fan of the warmer weather, and I am finding that each Spring is getting more and more fun with her. For Christmas this year, Santa brought Gracie a new "big girl" bike--her first real bike with training wheels. This evening before supper, we tried it out:

She's getting the hang of it, but she's still working on the whole braking concept.

One of Grace's other favorite thing to do outside is to get her sidewalk chalk and draw all over the driveway. Tonight, she told me that she wanted to draw The Red Store (our family's name for Target). Behold the power of branding:

Yep, that's Grace's rendering of the Target logo. The marketing is not lost on an almost-four-year-old.

The other thing Grace loves about Spring cream!!!

Yay Spring!!