Tuesday, March 22, 2011

8 weeks, 5 days

After much contemplation with my husband, I had decided only to interview the doctors at St. Joe's Maternal Fetal Medicine department so as to begin prenatal care as soon as possible. We have met with Dr. Bryant, one of their doctors in the past and were pretty confident that we would transfer our care there anyway, but in light of having toured both U of M and St. Joe's NICUs and OB units, we felt strongly that we wanted to deliver at St. Joe's unless they were not equipped to handle the specific situation we may encounter. Shaun was adamantly against using U of M as the memories of living in that hospital for 5 days in 2006 would be too daunting for him to bear at this time. We also read and reviewed each of your comments and private messages about your experiences with various MFM departments and we weighed your thoughts carefully as well.

So, on Monday I had my appointment at IHA MFM with Dr. Williams at 10:20am. Shaun was unable to come due to having to attend class, but I was unwilling to reschedule as I needed peace of mind about how this pregnancy was progressing. I arrived after a long one hour drive and the receptionist was overwhelmingly friendly and smiley! I waited in the waiting room with several other moms-to-be and tried to calm my nerves. The office was very busy as moms walked in and out every few minutes. I eavesdropped, listening through the glass window as a nurse was talking to the receptionist that was so friendly to me.

"Really? You use glue? Like Superglue?" The middle-aged blonde nurse asked the receptionist. And then a chuckle erupted from all 4 office workers.

"No, not superglue," the young black woman said while stifling her giggles. "You know the glue that you use to glue on eyelashes? Well, the same glue is used for the weave. It sticks real good for about 2 weeks and then it starts to come apart. So I gotta get my hair glued again."

I smiled, looking away, so that the workers didn't know I was listening. It was kinda funny, but I am not sure if they know that they could be heard in the lobby. About 20 minutes later, I was summoned to the ultrasound room. Ironically, the ultrasound tech's name was Francie. Not the same young sweet Francie from U of M, but a woman who attempted to get an ultrasound of my fetus via abdominal scan. We saw the gestational sac and baby this way, but it was hard to tell anything as it was so small. She said my bladder was too full and she would need to do a vaginal scan. So, I emptied my bladder and assumed the position on the table.

An 8 week, 4 day old fetus showed on the monitor. A definitely flickering heart was visible to me and then she scanned over the heart to measure it's beats. And I could hear it...185 beats per minute. Amazing. Thank you Jesus! The baby measured 1.89 cm and they showed me the umbilical cord and how it goes from baby to placenta. My blood pressure was 108/63 and My weight was unmentionable. Perhaps I will feel comfortable posting that here, but for now, no way!! The tech was planning on putting me in a room, but there were none open and available at the time, so they sat me back out into the waiting room.

Once in the waiting room a woman in a blue jumpsuit with orange stripes and bulging silver bracelets connecting her hands in front of her baby bump entered the office escorted by a male and a female correction officer. The officers were cordial and cracked jokes to each other as they waited for the receptionist to check the lady in. "They usually let us sit in a room back there to wait," the female officer tried to whisper to the front desk.

"I know, ma'am, but there are no rooms available as we are super-busy this morning."

"Can we wait in the hallway back there at least?" The female officer continued her plea. I watched the inmate and saw no expression on her face. She was facing one of the most wonderful things, pregnancy, not escorted by her husband or mother, but by the people she would form relationships with because she was forced to. I sensed her sadness and fear as having been a juvenile detention officer for 9 years, I have consoled a couple of young ladies who found herself pregnant and behind bars. The receptionist acquiesced to the request and away behind the doors the entourage left. The buzz in the lobby was astir moments later when families chatted about why there wasn't doctors in prisons and how come she had to come there and a 4 year old girl asking her mom about the silver bracelets she saw on that lady's hands. I was sad to hear what the gossip was, as no one is certain to know what the reason for the lady's current condition. Maybe I have worked in this field too long and have identified with criminals too much to feel a sense of judgment toward the women. I felt sad. We all have done wrong things in our lives and sometimes it is just random on who is caught. I can't say for certain that the woman sitting next to me never stole a package of gum or the man who came in with his girlfriend never used illegal drugs, but because we knew that this woman must have committed a crime for being in prison, then these people felt okay to talk about her. I quietly observed and silently prayed for the people in the room. That helped keep my mind off the fact that it was 11:30, one hour and 10 minutes after my scheduled appointment time and I was still in the waiting room.

And then the nurse called me back to the room. She apologized that it had taken so long as they were so busy this morning. I smiled and asked if I still had time to use the rest room as my bladder was once again full. She said it shouldn't be too long now, but that I did in fact have time for another rest room break.

About 10 minutes later, Dr. Jennifer Williams arrived in the room and apologized to me for running late. She said, "I have to be honest that I usually am late, but never this late. There have been several unexpected circumstances this morning and I am sorry." She went on to say that neither my OB or fertility clinic had sent records so she was hoping that I would fill her in on why I was here.

I was upset, but quickly went through the pregnancy with Ethan and the traumatic delivery and then discussed my infertility and miscarriages journey from the last two years and then said I was here to identify if you will take me on as my doctor or if you would recommend someone else. As I was sharing I had a notebook and folder and papers on the couch next to me. On top of that was Ethan's picture. I had deliberately set this picture here as a test.

Once I was done with my story, a nurse knocked on the door and told the doctor that another doctor was on the phone. Dr. Williams quietly excused herself as she said that this would be a quick call and was an emergent one for one of her patients.

She returned within minutes and then asked to see the picture of my son. I gladly handed it to her and introduced Ethan. She stroked her finger over his pic and said quietly to herself, "what a pumpkin." We talked about many of the details of everything and she said, "I probably won't need to get the documents as you are a wonderful historian."

I asked her if she would recommend her practice over U of M as I knew that she had trained there. She praised Dr. Van de ven at U of M, stating that he had delivered all three of her children and he was her mentor and he would do wonderfully if I decided to go with him. What she did mention was that U of M did some things decidedly better than St. Joe's and St. Joe's did some things remarkably better than U of M, so she felt comfortable saying that as long as I didn't have a twin to twin transference or a cardiac emergency or the baby didn't have a cardiac emergency, then I would have great care here. She also mentioned that the NICUs at U of M and St. Joe's were essentially the same quality except that there was no cool cap at St. Joe's, but of course we should not need that. This practice does not believe in bed rest or pelvic rest as it has not been shown to help the outcomes and instead works against the marriage in intimacy and financial and domestic areas. Mentioning that 90% of their patients were referrals and/or consultations, she felt that with 10% of their patients being lower risk primary patients, they were better able to service us with personalized care.

I continued to ask questions about preemptive antibiotics or tests to check the weak spots of the placenta and Dr. Williams smiled and related that I knew the answers to these questions, that really placental abruptions are very unpredictable, there is no real cause for this and as much as we want to control the outcome, we simply are too limited to do so. Odds are that we will have a very healthy baby in October. If I want to do a trial of labor, I could, and if I wanted to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks, I could. And if there is anything that is alarming or emergent, then we will take care of that. I asked several more questions and then she said, "if you wish to go talk to the U and then decide what you want to do, then let us know."

I told her that I was ready to begin treatment here as I was almost 9 weeks. She scheduled a nursing visit for me next Monday for education (and I can have a scan if I want). She also scheduled a establishing patient appointment for me on April 15. I will be 12 weeks and I will have the newest 1st trimester screening ultrasound for down's symdrome and Trisomy 18. When I asked about how this clinic was as far as being able to provide emotional support, she said, "I don't think you will have to wonder about that. Everyone here, the nursing staff, the office staff and the doctors are compassionate. You won't have to worry about that." She started to tear as I did talking about how scared I was. "Oh, you are gonna make me cry," she said, "this is gonna be a long road for you and we are gonna get you through it."

I am worried, though. I loved the fertility clinic. I guess I will have to just begin to develop relationships with the staff here. I already miss Miss Francie, Dr. Marsh, Dr. Randolph, the MAs, the other staff members. Everyone knew my name and was so patient with me. I feel like starting over. I never even got to go over everything I wanted to because I to spend the time going through my pregnancy history. I forgot about some of my medical history. I left the office with a bottle of glucola for my 1 hour diabetes test and a prescription for my prenatal lab work.

Father, thank you again for keeping my little one alive. I pray that she/he grows up to honor you and live out your purpose for his/her life. I thank you that you continue to provide for me and my child and give us peace about the outcome for the pregnancy. I thank you again for allowing me to miraculously bear a child and to miraculously care for it from the inside of my belly. I love you and praise you for all that you are. You are amazing. I ask that you continue to show faithful by showing a healthy baby growing right on track at each successive visit and I ask that you give my doctors your wisdom in how to treat this pregnancy. I thank you so much and ask you to bless me and my friends who are currently on this journey and I ask you to bless all my readers in their current situations. Only you know what they are and you know how best to navigate this. I pray all these things in Jesus' name, AMEN!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I want to say that I appreciate all of you readers. Thank you so much for following and seeing what God is doing in our lives. Today was no exception. I thank you for the notes, the emails and likes on facebook. I have been challenged by God to be authentic and sometimes authenticy comes with a price and sometimes it is saying things that need to be said even when it might hurt someone's feelings. I hope that you all know that this is a place of my being real with my emotions, real with my thoughts and real with my heart. Thanks for allowing me to be this way.

My appointment in Ann Arbor began in a hurry. I arrived 10 minutes early and had no wait time. I was quickly asked to get ready for the ultrasound. Miss Francie came in the room singing my name, "Sunshine, I know this is gonna be really good news, I can feel it!" She said she was so excited to hear that I was pregnant and reviewed my chart noting that I had 4-5 mature follicles. We small talked about the storm we had the last time I was there (the blizzard on my birthday) and I told her I was nervous because my beta almost quadrupled. Her eyebrows raised and she inserted the probe.

"Looks like we have one gestational sac!" She announces and then I saw a flutter on the baby. It was the heartbeat. "Awww," she said, "there's the heart just beating away!" I smiled, cautiously waiting to know its measurements. "Are you about 6 weeks?" she asked.

"6 weeks, 5 days," I said to clarify.

"Right on...6 weeks, 5 days!!"

She took about 3-4 different measurements and each one was exactly measuring 6 weeks, 5 days. The crown to rump length was 7.1 mm. Francie looked all over in my abdomen, no other signs of any other babies. She did notice a small tubal cyst, but said she thinks she remembers seeing on there before.

When Francie was done she gave us three ultrasound pics and said the office would call in the afternoon and let me know what their recommendation was, but Francie thought I would have to come in next week just to be sure all was well. She gave both of us a hug and requested that I set up my appointment with my OB now as it may take some time to get in.

Once Francie left the room, Shaun and I didn't say much. Maybe shock. We basically just walked out of the clinic like we have any other time. The receptionist, Rosalyn, with white hair, asked to see our pics. She smiled ear to ear and said how happy she was for us. Again, Shaun and I barely responded except with a small grin. "I have been coming here since May, I sure hope this is it," I tell her.

"I know. Some people come here 3-4 years. I don't know where you women get your stamina. Good luck, Sunshine. I will cross my fingers for you."

We left the clinic and high-fived in the car. After several hours of shopping for size bigger pair of jeans, and a large lunch at Red Robin, we traveled home.

At 3pm, Dr. Marsh called. "Hello there, Sunshine. Are you excited?"

"Anxious," I tell her.

"Well, we are all very happy and pleased with this. Everything looks wonderful and I told you it would only be ONE!"

I smiled saying I remembered that conversation about if I choose to go for it there would be one and if I canceled then that would be the time I would've had 4-5 babies.

"Well, I wanted to be able to call you myself in person and tell you that you are free to go to the high risk doctor now."

"You mean I graduated?"

"Yes, and I have to tell you that we are all so excited for you. When we talked about you at our meeting this afternoon, everyone stood up and cheered for you!"

AHHH! They cheered for me! YAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!

"Well, I am gonna miss everyone there," I told her.

"Oh, don't. Just bring that baby in once all is over, okay?"

I am in awe. Next step done. Woohoo! Still not ready to make a truly public announcement as I need to see another good ultrasound just to be sure. So now we must decide on a hospital and doctor. I love my doctor in Adrian, but with 3 losses and a major emergency in my first pregnancy, the clinic has recommended that I go with a high risk specialist. They gave me a list of the doctors at U of M, but Shaun doesn't feel comfortable with being near Holden. I researched Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists in the area and learned that Toledo Hospital's MFMs only consult with regular OBs, so we probably won't go there. And then the only closest place is St. Joseph's hospital in Ann Arbor. I had previously consulted with Dr. Bryant in 2008. I had planned to go with him, but he now has two other doctors in his practice. After research on them, I discovered that they both graduated from U of M and did there residencies there until 2003. I have scheduled a consultation with them on March 21. That is 13 days away! AHHHHH!

Anyone have any experience with Maternal Fetal Medicine in either Toledo or Ann Arbor and want to give a recommendation? And does anyone know how I tell my Adrian doctor that I am going to go with high risk care without hurting her feelings (we go to the same church as well and she already knows I am pregnant)?

Father God, I praise you that you allowed me to see a perfectly sized, living being within me. I thank you for letting me have peace today. I am incredibly blessed to be your daughter and I am so grateful you are letting me be a parent again. I pray for those who are still trying that they find the strength to continue and I pray that you give peace to those who are currently pregnant after loss that they will carry these babies to term. I am so in awe of your MIRACLE of Life. In Jesus' name, AMEN!

Monday, March 7, 2011

6 weeks, 4 days

Nervous. Worried. The confidence I had just a couple of days ago has slipped into the other side. I had no reason to fear the outcome of the first ultrasound in October and look at what happened there (couldn't find a heartbeat, then found one, and then came back a week later to learn the baby probably had died). I was confident and happy and just trying to live in the moment and appreciate that for that day I was pregnant and the baby although measuring small, had a heartbeat. Deep in my heart I knew that baby was not going to make it after that first ultrasound but I tried hard to have faith.

Today is similar. I am afraid to go into the appointment tomorrow as I know what the fetus is supposed to look like and what I am supposed to hear. I am afraid that they will tell me there are four embryos. What will I do then? Will I share with you all what I find? Will I have to selectively reduce? Will I survive this pregnancy?

I wonder if I should pull the plug on this blog. The publicity is getting to me. If I hadn't promised God that I would be open and honest on this blog when he asked me to write it, then I don't think any of you would know that I am currently pregnant. I would have kept it a secret until people began guessing from my growing belly that I was carrying life within me. I think the hardest part was when people I am not even friends with on facebook came to me at church yesterday to congratulate me. Shocked, I said, "we'll see." Folks, I don't share my news on here for the sake of gossip or exalting myself. This blog is fully intended to glorify the LORD. I will politely ask you to please direct people here to read the full story rather than "share the prayer request" with others. I am not confident that God will allow me to carry this pregnancy, and neither should you be, as he did not promise me that. I don't feel like a congratulations are in order, because frankly, the doctor said 75% survival rate. That is 25% chance of another miscarriage. REAL LIFE. I know this blog is public, but it has a much bigger purpose than announcing my pregnancy, I promise you that. I don't want my pregnancy to be public knowledge unless they've read this blog. And to be honest, I haven't told any of my family members except via this medium.

I also have endured listening to those well meaning people who keep telling me about your friends who couldn't get pregnant for years and just when they stopped worrying they got pregnant, or who say, don't you think it is great when you hear that God allowed so and so to get pregnant on her own after 10 years when she finally adopted. For you, I say, I am blessed beyond measure that God in his miraculous knowledge and skill as a Physician allowed me to get pregnant 4 times. He did so in 4 very distinct ways, but HE allowed it to happen. Whether or not I used medicine to enhance it has no bearing. Sure, I could have waited for the LORD to bless me on the natural timing, or I could get medication to heal my hormonal imbalances and start living my life sooner. Yes, I know there is a possibility that he could have allowed me to get pregnant on my own, but we know medically that was not likely to happen. Would you tell the person with diabetes that you know of a friend who just relaxed and their diabetes went away? No. That would be absurd, because surely, someone should go the the doctor and get insulin and exercise and eat healthy when they have a medical condition such as that. Diabetes is a condition in which there is a hormonal problem that their bodies do not produce enough insulin. Same with me, my body does not produce enough follicle stimulating hormone or estrogen and progesterone. I am in awe the God allowed me to MIRACULOUSLY become pregnant as much as I am in awe by when HE allowed my good friend who has a similar condition as me to become pregnant on her own and is due the same week as I am!! The LORD works in his own ways in each individual. If I were destined to remain barren, then the medicine would do nothing. God is in control of everything. No, I don't want to hear about your friend because I know that this is the right way for me.

There is still 24 more hours until I know some of the result of this pregnancy. But, these are still just steps in the right direction. We could have 33 more weeks of worrying, obsessing and wondering. I am praying for a healthy pregnancy with a low number of fetuses (one or two) and for a very uneventful pregnancy. Can you also pray with me as I choose my obstetrician and hospital in which I will deliver?

Thank you Jesus again for your MIRACLE of life. 4 times you have allowed me to carry life within me. The first naturally, and the others with medication. I pray that you allow me to bring this or these little one(s) home healthy, able and alive. I promise you that I will teach them to be God-honoring, people-loving, and productive Christian citizens of the world. I pray that you bless us again by giving us more than we are able to ask for or even imagine.

I continue to ask you to bless this blog and let it be a place where people see YOU. Where they learn about your ways and what it means to be faithful. I pray that you teach others about purpose, life and transparency in and through it. I ask for you to calm my heart and mind as I go through the next 24 hours and that you give me the peace that only you can give. I love you LORD and ask all these things and more in Jesus' name, AMEN!

Friday, March 4, 2011

6 weeks, 1 day

The wait is driving me crazy. When I was called by the nurse to arrange the ultrasound, she told me that March 6 was the date I could come in. Since it was a Sunday, she told me to pick either Friday or Monday. And before I chose, she suggested that I wait until Monday so as we could probably be able to hear a heartbeat by then. Everything in my being wanted to be able to come in Friday, but since my hubby is out of town today, I decided that Friday would not be good. He wanted to be able to be a part of the ultrasound experience. He wants to see just how many and how healthy each one is for himself. So, in keeping with that theme, allowing Shaun to attend, I also had to postpone it until Tuesday because he would be able to make up his clinical rotations better than missing his Monday morning classes.

So we wait.

4 more days.

4 long worrisome days.

Superstitiously, I think if I share with you what my inclinations are telling me then it won't come true. So, without sharing my full vision, I think this pregnancy is going to be great. I am excited and ready to face this head on. I have to say that 5 years ago this week I was having my 6 week postpartum checkup with my OB. We were discussing the safety of another pregnancy and how waiting 2 years to even try to get pregnant was her recommendation. At that point, I was devastated and confused. Of course I wasn't going to try again, I thought, EVER! That pain was too much to bear.

That fear enslaved me. It captured me then and held me hostage for 3-4 years. The fear I have now is incomparable to what it was then. I fear a life without children. I fear an existence that is self-absorbed. I fear the possibility of wasting what God has called me to do. I am in this moment, right now, to share with you what a blessing He is to me and how grateful I am because HE is my GOD!

Father, I thank you for all that you have shown me in the last 5 years. Sometimes it does take an unthinkable tragedy to remind us of how fragile life is, to teach us to be humble, to examine our faith and to recognize our own limitations. I thank you so much for my Ethan, my baby in June and little girl Plato that you allowed to be apart of our lives for a moment. And I thank you for whatever you have in store for us in this womb. I pray that you bless us, that you take care of the little one(s) in there and you give us a peace of mind on Tuesday and beyond. Please, if it is of your will, allow us to carry this pregnancy to term, to deliver as un-complicatedly as possible and to have health be a result for baby and myself. I pray that you show us favor in this pregnancy and that you guide our every step. I thank you for the friendships I have made because of this blog and I ask that you bless each of the readers in a tangible way. I pray for my TP sister who is about to deliver, that she is comforted and births her little girl without complications or fear. I pray for my other pregnant friends, that they remain healthy despite the flu and colds they encounter and that their little ones do as they are supposed to. I ask you to send a special blessing down today. Touch all of the little ones in the wombs and remind their parents to dedicate their little lives to you. In Jesus' name, AMEN!