Sunday, February 18, 2018

Keeping Katie Part Two

How we announced to the world that Katie was on her way. At the time the picture was taken, we didn't know she was a girl! 

After we left the hospital, we finally got to tell Gracie she was having a sister. Ya'll. I thought she was going to spazz out and die. She prayed so hard for a baby sister and I was so glad she got her wish. I will never ever forget her face when we told her. Danny however...was and sometimes still is, in STRONG denial about having a baby sister. It took him a LONG time to even admit there was a baby at all, let alone a girl. Now it's about 50/50 on if the baby is a girl or if the baby is Batman. Ha! 

(We got a Batman onesie for Katie to wear when she meets Danny, how cute and funny will that be?!)

Because of the clots, I had to see my MFM all the time. Especially because we couldn't actively treat the blood clot in my placenta anymore. Each appointment we would measure the clot and just pray that it either stayed the same size or got smaller. Getting bigger was BAD, obviously. 

Another blessing: the clot never got bigger. 


On Halloween we found out the clot was GONE. I was moved to bi-weekly appointments and was feeling pretty good! 

During all of this, I had RIDICULOUS morning sickness. I was on a lot of medication to stop it, and while it worked most of the time, it was still rough. 

I also kept (and keep, this crap still plagues me) getting a bacteria in my uterus that would cause contractions and irritate my uterus. Both of these could obviously cause pre-term labor. So my lovely two week appointments lasted all of two weeks and I was put back on weekly's. Ha! Fun while they lasted.

I was also told not to drive more than two hours outside of my delivery hospital and flying was an absolute no. Which meant all of our holiday plans changed. I also got put on moderate bed rest because I could not quit swelling. My legs, ankles and joints would get SO swollen!

Not gonna lie...that sucked. But, because I had also stopped doing cookies, it was nice to be with just our family and enjoy each other before Katie comes into the fold. 


20 weeks! HALFWAY!!


                                  Me & My Girls!                                                       Love these guys 


Eventually the bacteria went away and so did the contractions so my doctor gave me the clear to go to Maryland for New Years Eve. We had to stop every hour for me to walk around but we did it!


We were limited on what we could do and how long we could do it for thanks to me, but we were with our good friends so it was a really fun time anyway. 

I started to really regret the trip though about halfway through it, not because we weren't having a good time, but because I really started to not feel good. I was on antibiotics for a different infection, I was having some mild contractions and I was just uncomfortable. The ride home was horrible. I am still glad we went but holy cow. I was never so glad to be home. 

I found out a few days later that I had a yeast infection. Y'all. I have NEVER had one of these so I had no idea what was going on with me and as a rule this pregnancy, I am not allowed to google. (Ha!) It was from all the antibiotics I had been on for the different infections. Woof. Ouch. OUCH. Hope I never ever ever ever get one of those things again. Once was enough, THANK YOU.

While I was being treated for the yeast infection, we found out I had a lot of protein in my urine. So I was asked to do a 24 hour catch and bring it back at my next appointment, which would just so happen to be my Gestational Diabetes appointment. You know, the sugary drink appointment.

I wasn't even worried! I had never even failed the one hour before. The drink doesn't even bother me, tastes like a flat orange soda. Heck, I'd even have another! But third time around wasn't lucky for me, my number was so high they didn't even bother with the three hour test. I was sent straight to a nutritionist for counseling. Not gonna lie, I cried at this appointment. Katie had been fine through all of these complications so far, that's what we were so grateful for. I can handle any problems with me, as long as she would be ok. GD can really affect her. It can cause heart problems and under-development. It also causes early breakdown of the placenta, and I already have placenta problems. Sure enough, my doctor came in and told me Katie would be coming no later than 37 weeks. Sure, 37 is better than anything earlier, but it's still three weeks early. (This is my last pregnancy and I wanted to carry her as long as I could; for my own selfish reasons but mainly because I know how much development takes place in the brain during those last three weeks.) 

This was only to I think a little over my halfway point. I plan to take one frame from each of these strips and have them framed. I think it's cool to literally see a weekly progression. 

But I was told that as long as I controlled my diet and didn't do anything crazy, that Katie would be largely or completely unaffected by GD. So that has become my new mission: to get my numbers to be consistently amazing so it never bothers her. GD means pretty much no sugar, and definitely no added sugar. Because I am not overweight, it's not really a huge diet issue. It's a restriction issue. I can only have so many carbs, proteins, starches and fats in a day. I have to have 3 meals and 3 snacks daily and at specific times. My blood sugar is tested 4 times a day. It's exhausting to be honest, and it's frustrating to not be able to eat what I want or what I am craving. But Katie will always matter more to me than chocolate, so in the big picture it's not a big deal. Each ultrasound I have now includes a longer look at her heart and every two weeks she has a growth scan to make sure GD isn't bothering her. So far, so good. 

A few days after the GD diagnosis I started bleeding. Not a lot, but any time I bleed with no reason behind it, I have to go in. Thanks in large part to my bleeding disorder but also to the clot in the placenta. Just because the clot is gone, doesn't mean we are out of the woods with it. We check each time to make sure the clot is still gone and there aren't any spots we need to be worried about. So any bleeding at all, has to be checked. My doctor came in and said Katie and I were okay but that I looked like crap and needed to take it easy. (She is very blunt this doctor, which is why I love her.) She also told me to follow up with her at my next appointment in a few days.



My 24 hour urine catch was back at that appointment and the news wasn't good. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. I had a ton of protein in my urine, and it'd been a problem for awhile but now it's a real issue. I had been having some mild vision issues as well. Luckily, my blood pressure was still great. But I am basically a bad blood pressure reading away from having to deliver Katie.


My hopes of being able to talk my doctor into delivery at 38 weeks went right out the window. Now I was hoping we wouldn't take Katie until 37. 

For the last few weeks now I have been monitored every Monday. Every Monday I have non-stress tests done, I have an ultrasound and they check my cervix (because guess who is still having contractions!). Every second Monday they do a growth scan to make sure Katie isn't getting bigger faster than she should be. So far, every test they have done, she has gone above and beyond expectations. 




At the last scan, Katie was in the 60th percentile for her weight. Which is a perfectly fine place for her to be, and she has a big noggin' just like my other kids so we aren't concerned about her weight as of now.  

This brings us to now. 31+2. 

I still have contractions and insane swelling. But luckily, they are all able to be managed from home. Katie is as active as ever which brings a LOT of peace to my soul and I thank God for that every day. 

Katie will be coming on April 2nd. Which is 37+3. I was able to get my doctor to agree to 3 extra days so my kids would have separate birthday months and so my kids could enjoy Easter outside of the hospital. (Easter is April 1st!) 

It's been a rough road to get here, but the greatest blessing in all of this is Katie has been right as rain the whole time. How insanely lucky are we? 

We pray and pray that remains true and that she can stay baking till 37+3. 

Till then, we will be grateful for every single day she stays on the inside and look forward to the day we can hold her in our arms and love on her and watch her grow into the awesome woman she will become.

She's the last piece to our puzzle and I can't wait to finally have her here. 

Keeping Katie Part One.

Our sweet Katie girl.


There she is.

You can just barely see it in this picture, but Katie was a twin. (I can't find the other picture I had that clearly showed both.) There's another baby in there with her, but we knew from the get go that baby wasn't going to develop.

In many ways that makes it so much easier on our hearts, because we didn't ever get attached to the idea of two babies only to lose one. But it's still hard to think of "what if"and be sad for the baby that wasn't meant to be. But we still came out of this appointment very grateful that at least there was one baby in there who looked to be doing ok.

Early pregnancy definitely wasn't the same as it has been before. Maybe it's because we found out so soon and were monitored from the get go because of the fertility center...but we had some scares with my HCG at the beginning. After my first draw they told me the numbers were low and I'd need to come back in 48 hours and test again. I kept doing that for almost two weeks. The numbers would double, but they weren't very high. I knew what not having high numbers meant and I knew from my last miscarriage how that could end. So we prayed and prayed and prayed that my numbers would keep doubling. I went out and bought a bunch of the clear blue digitals and would take them every other day to ensure my numbers weren't going down and if they were, I'd know it before the doctors office could tell me. For some reason, having that control made that situation a little better. 

But my numbers kept doubling until we could finally get an ultrasound that would record her heartbeat. It was there. It was strong! The pregnancy was declared viable (!!!) and we got sent to our High Risk Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor the next week. 

The ONLY thing great about being High Risk, is that you get a bazillion ultrasounds. It soothes me SO much to know that she is constantly being watched and I get weekly or bi-weekly confirmations that she is ok. 

On one of the first visits to my MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine), we found out my Factor VII levels were insanely low but on top of that...we found out I had a blood clot right up against the placenta. That is dangerous for obvious reasons, the main one being it could go under the placenta and detach the placenta from the uterine wall and that would be fatal for the baby and because of my bleeding disorder, it could be very bad for me. 


Right by my finger is the blood clot. 

They usually treat this problem with blood thinners, only I have a bleeding disorder that already thins my blood so I can't have blood thinners of any kind. So the only solution was to do small amounts of engineered Factor VII injections--every day. 



Each one of these shots bills for around $10,000-ish. This was one months supply, which meant I had a ridiculous amount of medicine in my fridge that was worth way more than my house, like...double my house. 

Let's take a pause here and thank the good lord for insurance. My cut of that medicine was small and affordable. My insurance is INSANELY amazing about paying for anything maternity related, even infertility related. While the infertility stuff did drain our savings, it was at least something we could afford with savings and cookie money

We know we were lucky there. We were and are lucky in many places:

1. Our infertility journey lasted almost 2 years. You could minus 6 months out of that because Daniel was deployed, but I was still on and paying for medication so meh. Although two years is a long time to be trying for a baby, it's definitely not as long as many people try for a baby. 

2. We could get pregnant. That is a blessing that was still heartbreaking, because while we could get pregnant, we were having issues staying pregnant. But there are so many women who can't get pregnant at all and that creates a whole new road to have to go down.

3. We didn't have to do IVF. IVF is a big heartbreak and bank break of infertility and luckily we didn't have to go down that road. We let our fertility doctor know from the get go that it wasn't something we wanted to do (financially and emotionally). But we were grateful that we were never faced with that decision because I am sure when it's actually at your door, it's harder to not open it. 

4. We have access to affordable fertility doctors and mfm doctors so we didn't have to fly anywhere to get treatment, we didn't have to drive far either. 

5. Again, insurance!! My insurance covers up to IVF. If we had to reach the IVF part of this, it would all be out of pocket. But any other procedures like IUI's would be covered. I had two procedures done to clear my fallopian tubes and to aide in helping us get pregnant. Both were covered. Both would have been VERY pricey had they not been. All of the pills and shots were covered. I paid a small amount. My appts with my fertility doctor were all out of pocket for a long time until I hit my deductible. At $250-$500 a visit, and going sometimes twice a week, it didn't take long to drain savings. But again, it was all manageable because of the extra income I was bringing in. So if you bought cookies from me this summer, you helped make this baby possible. 


All of these blessings made our journey easier, for sure. But I'm not going to downplay it, this journey was heartbreaking in ways I couldn't fathom. More on that another time...

Back to Katie...

Because of the shots (that had to be given through a butterfly IV) I was having every day, my veins would atrophy, or blow. My body was just not fan and eventually my veins were a big old pile of NOPE. The doctors then decided to put in a PICC line to make the shots easier on my body. I was nervous because PICC lines are generally sealed with a heparin lock to prevent clotting. I can't have heparin. But the doctors all thought it wouldn't be a problem because my blood doesn't clot easily on it's own so my blood is it's only heparin lock, basically. Well, that's how it was SUPPOSED to go...


Almost immediately after I had the PICC line placed, I'd say about 30 minutes after, I felt a REALLY strong pain in my clavicle. It felt like I had been punched. They said I was okay, so we went home. Well, a few hours after I got home, my tubing all filled with blood. So we went in and they flushed it, I asked how badly it was supposed to hurt because my arm was really really hurting, especially in my clavicle. They said I was fine and we went home.

That night was INSANE. I couldn't move my arm, I was in INSANE pain. It was just not good. I toughed it out though thinking I was just being a baby and I needed to get used to it. 


Well, by nightfall that day, my tubes were both filled with blood and I couldn't move my arm hardly at all. And then something really scary happened...

I completely lost consciousness. Daniel had to call an ambulance. It was not good. A quick vein ultrasound revealed I had clots. Everywhere. I had one big one in my chest, right in my clavicle at the end of the PICC line. I also had several smaller ones in my arm and a medium size one by the insertion site. (Which explains the pain everyone was telling me was normal. Oi.) 

They admitted me right then. 


We kept trying to get ahold of my MFM during the night and they said they had and she said to take the PICC line out. They also told us that my blood doctor told me to keep the PICC line in because if the hospital took it out, the vascular center would not put one back in. At that point I didn't care, it was confirmed that the PICC line was causing the blood clots and it needed to be taken out and I didn't give a crap who took it out. 

In comes my doctor around 6 am pissed as HELL that no one called her. We were like "They said they did! They said you said to take the line out!" Then she had some words with that hospital (the ambulance took me to a different hospital that is not the one my doctor normally goes to) and came in looked at my arm and said "Well if I said to take this line out, why is it still in her arm!?" My doctor is sassy when she is mad and I love it. I felt very well protected LOL

She put orders in to have the line taken out, another vascular ultrasound AFTER the line was taken out and then I would have to have an MRI later in the day to make sure the clot didn't look like it was going to travel anywhere dangerous. My doctor took care of BUSINESS. She also had one of HER nurses (from the OTHER hospital) come do an ultrasound to check on the baby. Everything was well with the tiny human and that's when we found out that Katie was a girl. 

One of the tests I had done for the MFM included a DNA test that would determine if the baby was a boy or a girl. I had honestly forgotten about it until she just randomly said "We got your test results back and this was negative and this was negative and this was negative and oh you're having a girl and this was negative." It was hilarious to me how it was so casual. 

Daniel was home with the kids and taking Grace to school, so he wasn't there when I found out. I debated keeping it from him, but I just dangled it for awhile (only 15 minutes) but eventually couldn't keep it a secret. 


We were having a girl! 

Even though the blood clots were scary, and the blood clot in the placenta was scary--the baby was fine. She was floating along, growing and growing. 

Having that sweet moment in the hospital where we got to celebrate her and not focus on the scary? It was pretty great.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Infertility

This has taken me a bit to write.

(In part because I can't find the  pictures I had saved to document this long process. I'll add them in when I find them.)

When Danny was around 9 months old, I got a pretty strong prompting that we needed to start trying for our last baby. It took a bit to convince my husband of that, because we had agreed that when Danny was 1 year old that is when we would start trying, but he eventually got on board. Especially because it had taken about 7 months to get pregnant with Danny and if we didn't get pregnant right away, that was ok.

We didn't start out charting, and temping and all of the other fun things that come with actively trying to have a baby. We just stopped trying to *not* get pregnant. After the first few months of that not working, I started paying very close attention to my ovulation times and making sure I was ovulating when I needed to be.

But still nothing, then Daniel's deployment came into our lives that January. At this point we had only been trying for about 4 months. We debated stopping, because getting pregnant right then meant he may miss the birth because he wasn't going to deploy until May and would be gone 6 months. We put our plans on hold...for like two weeks. HA. Eventually we just knew that we needed to keep trying, regardless of what that meant. Which sounds CRAZY now, especially with how insane this pregnancy has been.


Well, May came around and still no baby. It was sad but we chalked it up to the stress of the deployment. I kept taking prenatals and charting my ovulation and temperature so that we would be 100% ready when he came home. Everyone joked I would get pregnant as soon as he got home and I had hoped and prayed they were right.

They weren't.

And what made it SUCK is that EVERYONE kept asking if I was because they knew we were trying and all the jokes about a wife getting pregnant right after a deployment...

Guys, if you know someone is trying to get pregnant, and they aren't announcing anything, don't ask. Don't ask, period.

Then, my sister in law got pregnant, like....really really quickly. I cried for a legit month over that. Not too long after she told us she was pregnant, I had our first miscarriage.

It was painful. It was really...well, bloody. I ended up in the hospital because a miscarriage and a bleeding disorder aren't exactly a match made in heaven.

After that miscarriage, my OB put me on Clomid to try and help things along. All that did was make me gain weight. We tried for three more months and then we were referred to a fertility specialist.

Right before my first appointment with the fertility doctor, I had some really scary stuff happen with my vision. Turns out that's a side effect of clomid. The doc immediately took me off clomid and put me on Femara. Which made me gain even more weight but at least my eyes stayed the same. Plus some more fertility medication on top of that.

Two procedures to clear my fallopian tubes later...I got pregnant. It was faint but it was there. And then my numbers didn't rise. Another miscarriage.

At this point...I was done. Completely done. My body was so tired from everything and it's not exactly fun actually TRYING for a baby when that trying is literally scheduled to specific days and times and there is no cuddling after, only legs in the air for 30 minutes. Gee, doesn't that sound like FUN? One of the cycles fell during our time at Disney World. Can I just tell you how AWKWARD it is to ask your mother in law to take the kids to the pool because it's your peak ovulation time?

Awkward. VERY. VERY. VERY AWKWARD.

So after the miscarriage, the next round came and I haphazardly took the medication on the wrong days the doctor told me to (not on purpose, he had just switched me to a different routine and I spaced it), we didn't really pay attention to peak days and were just really lazy about it. Because I had told Daniel if I wasn't pregnant by the end of July that I wanted to take a break for awhile. It was the end of July and I was over it. I think, in part, he was too. It had just been exhausting, really.

Because of those things, pregnancy wasn't even close to on my mind. I was pretty sure I wasn't pregnant, how could I be? I did everything wrong this cycle, perhaps even on purpose.

But then...

I started having really graphic nightmares. Which is one of my unique pregnancy symptoms.
I couldn't wash the dishes because the smell of old food was too overwhelming.

Daniel was sure I was, from the first day I asked him to do the dishes because the smell was making me sick.

I still didn't think I was. Too many times I had fallen for the "I'm nauseous, I must be pregnant!" trap.

I also knew that I had been put on a different medication and thought it could be a hormonal reaction to that. So I called the fertility doctor, concerned about having a bad reaction to the drug and she asked if I had taken a pregnancy test.

I almost laughed at her. I told her I had done everything wrong so I would be really shocked if I was and I really didn't think I was.

But, she said that I needed to test first and if it came back negative to call back and they would have me come in to see if I was having a reaction.

I rolled my eyes. I was going to the grocery store that day anyway so I'd just pick one up there. Even in the aisle I rolled my eyes and thought "Welp, there goes another $20 on pregnancy tests." 

I got home put the groceries away and stared at the pregnancy tests.

"May as well get this disappointment over with already." 

"Can't wait to say 'I told you so.'" 

On August 9th, 2017

Pregnant.

I promptly went back to the store & bought the clear blue digital tests. I knew that your HCG levels had to be fairly high to get a positive with those. So there is less chance of a false positive. (Despite the two First Response being positive.)

Pregnant again. 

I was pregnant. The clear blue made me feel like I was at least more pregnant than I had been the month prior. I called Daniel, crying. 

He was relieved and happy. So much so he left some expletives fly (and threw in an "I told you so" while he was at it.)

But we had been down the getting pregnant road and had that fail. Now came time to stay pregnant...