Silence

I should be 36 weeks pregnant today. We would probably be getting ready to meet our little guy by next week. Instead I’m sitting on my couch holding back tears. Trying not to get anxious about my return to work next week. Glad that my first postpartum period is over. Talk about another punch in the gut showing me I’m no longer expecting and that we don’t have our first baby to love on. I’m just sitting here. Embraced by the lonely silence.

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More Than

I haven’t just lost my baby through all this. I’ve lost so much.

I’m no longer pregnant. I don’t have my baby in me that I can talk to or just feel moving around. His little kicks and movements may have been out of control a few times but they were always welcomed. Now I’m alone. I never got to take a baby bump photo because I never felt like I had really “popped” the typical preggo belly. It kind of makes sense since Ethan was smaller than he should have been.

Any and all future pregnancies will have to be c-sections due to the type I needed to deliver him. I don’t even get the chance to try a natural birth. C-sections are major surgeries and are riskier each subsequent time which is scary to think about. I still have several weeks to go before I’m cleared by my OB to do anything more than just walking. Several weeks left to physically heal. Milk is still coming in too and I have to go through the pain of that for who knows how long. It’s been almost three weeks and while it’s no longer as painful physically, it is emotionally. My body knows there’s a baby I was supposed to be caring for. Hopefully, the milk dries up soon. This is a whole other kind of torture.

The future plans we made and even those we had not thought of yet were lost. There’s no filling out Ethan’s baby books with all the milestones. Tomorrow he would be one month old, but that page will forever be left blank. Empty. Just how I feel at times. We will never hear his laugh. We won’t ever compete to be his first word. No potty training him. There will never be a first day of school photo. No watching him run around our home and playing with his doggy best friends.

I know, well, I hope, we will get to experience these things with future children. But I also was excited to experience these with our little Ethan. Our first baby. Everything is shattered and broken now and I’m just left here to pick up the pieces. Thankfully, my husband, our family, and our friends are a great help.

Up, Down, and Crashing

I just read my last post and so much has happened since then. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and changes this year. This post is going to be a long one…

At the start of this year, my husband and I decided it was time to grow our little family of four (two fur babies). By the end of February, we were expecting! Shocking. We didn’t expect to get pregnant so quickly and easily. We were completely over the moon and couldn’t wait to tell our families. They all thought we were pulling some sort of prank on them at first, but they were all happy.

We heard our little one’s heart beating for the first time a few weeks later. It was one of the best sounds in the world. I almost cried. I managed to hold myself together. We started having regular ultrasounds and loved seeing our little creation grow and grow. We broke the news to our closest friends on St. Patrick’s Day while everyone was together. That was a fun event.

At the same time that we found out I was pregnant, I received a call for a job I had applied for in November. Everything went so quickly and by the start of April, I was in a new position and things were really looking up. My new coworkers made me feel welcomed immediately and my supervisors didn’t have any issues when I told them I was pregnant.

Baby and I had genetic testing done and received the results at the beginning of May. These results also told us we were having a boy. Our first baby boy. Our little guy. My little buddy. We named him Ethan Alexander. My mother-in-law started sending us boxes upon boxes of clothes, blankets, and toys. Other family also started gifting us things for the baby and offering so much support.

The second trimester was full of sonograms and we started seeing a specialist for extra monitoring. I was diagnosed with hypertension and gestational diabetes early on during the pregnancy. I had to start taking blood pressure medicine and insulin to help control things. At 20 weeks, our specialist told us Ethan was measuring 2 weeks behind. This was a surprise since up until our 18-week appointment he was measuring exactly where he needed to be. We ran some more tests to make sure it wasn’t due to common genetic issues or infections and the results came back clear. We waited and hoped he would have a significant growth spurt by the next visit. Unfortunately, we were eventually told he had intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) so he’d be small. Every day I hoped and prayed that our little guy kept growing. I started feeling him move around and kicking in me and I loved it. The human body is amazing and growing another life felt incredible.

Then came our 28-week appointment with the specialist to follow up on Ethan’s growth. We had the ultrasound tech do her thing. We even got a 3D view of our little guy. He measured 4 weeks behind. That was a significant delay in growth. Then our specialist came in to take his official measurements and discuss the results with us. He told us that Ethan was suffering from something called intermittent absent end-diastolic flow (AEDF). Essentially his placenta and umbilical cord were not providing him with enough blood to grow. That’s when the doctor said it was a “sign of impending fetal demise.”

So you know in movies and tv shows when the character just sees everything moving away from them? Like tunnel vision I suppose? Well, that’s exactly how I felt in that moment. I tried my best to keep listening to what the doctor had to say but I broke. My husband and I started crying. Those aren’t words you want to hear. After a bit, we were able to calm down enough to have the doctor tell us to go to the hospital and get admitted into the high-risk OB area. There was no going home after this appointment – it was straight to the hospital with me and Ethan so we could be constantly monitored and be ready to deliver.

I was put on hospital-bound bed rest and told I’d be there until he was 37 weeks or until we saw that he was in distress and needed to be delivered. The following day was super stressful and my blood pressure was insanely high. Like hypertensive emergency high. They heavily medicated me and monitored me all day until it went back to normal. It was frightening and I would’ve had to deliver if they hadn’t been able to lower it with the last round of medicine they gave me. Thankfully it didn’t happen. The next few days were busy with monitoring Ethan 3x a day. Our nurses were amazing and so helpful. Our little guy seemed to like letting them find him with the doppler and once it was strapped down he would move away! What a little tease. We also noticed he’d move when my husband talked to him. It was the sweetest thing…

I was admitted on Friday evening. By Wednesday evening, Ethan hadn’t moved as much as usual but I wasn’t concerned because he was moving. One of our friends had stopped by to visit and was there when we did our second NST of the day. The nurse stepped out and Ethan’s heart rate was lower than usual. Suddenly 3 other nurses came in and started telling us it was time to have a baby. They had already explained everything so I was ready for it. My husband was panicking as any new dad probably does. Our friend helped by getting in touch with the rest of our friends and updating them. I was given oxygen for Ethan and wheeled off to Labor & Delivery to be prepped. My OB showed up and we had enough time to do an epidural and have my husband in the operating room with me.

At 4:52 PM, August 22nd we heard another beautiful sound. The cry of our first child. Our little miracle. And boy was he truly a miracle. It turned out he had a knot in his umbilical cord very close to the placenta. We were told that oftentimes that ends with having a miscarriage or stillbirth. Our OB and the other medical staff were surprised by the knot and the fact that Ethan was opening his eyes and breathing pretty well on his own at just 29 weeks. He also measured a bit bigger than they expected. He only measured 2 weeks behind, not 4 (ultrasounds aren’t the most accurate). I got to say hello and kiss my baby boy before he and dad were whisked off to the NICU. I was stitched back up and returned to recover. My family and our friends started showing up. It wasn’t the ideal story of Ethan’s birthday, but it was a happy evening nevertheless. We had our baby and now we just had to wait for him to grow in the NICU. I was to be released from the hospital at the end of the week.

Leaving the hospital without my baby was tough. I got home and essentially had an anxiety attack by the next day. That week we spent going to the hospital twice a day and watching our baby on the camera when we weren’t at his side. The NICU was full of its own ups and downs. We were able to do kangaroo care (skin to skin) with him and hold our baby. Seeing the joy on my husband’s face when he held Ethan for the first time brought tears to my eyes. It was a special moment I will never forget.

Sadly, Ethan wasn’t tolerating feeds and his belly was getting distended and discolored as the days went on. One night we were told to head to the hospital right away to be with him. Not knowing anything else, we thought we were going to get there and he’d be gone. My husband and I were a mess driving to the hospital. That 15-minute drive was the longest it could be. Once there we saw his vitals were ok but he still wasn’t doing well. We spent two nights in a room at the NICU. The worry was that he’d get NEC and require surgery. The day we went back home because he was doing better we received another call. After 11 days in the NICU, his bowels perforated and we were told that if all went as expected it would be a fairly simple surgery to redirect his system with an ostomy bag for a few weeks and then another surgery to connect his bowels when everything healed. We agreed he needed the surgery and went back to the NICU room we had just left hours before to wait. Shortly after the nurse practitioner went to get us and walked us to Ethan’s NICU area where the surgery was being performed at his bedside. They sat us down and the surgeon started explaining:

Originally they thought that a very limited section of Ethan’s bowels was not working correctly. Once they opened him up, they realized it was the opposite. 98 percent of his bowels were dead. The 2 percent they saw on the x-rays was actually the live portion. Due to two very rare malformations while in utero, Ethan’s bowels had not grown properly. That’s when we heard another thing no parent wants to hear. The living portion of his bowels was not “viable to sustain life.” Ethan’s blood pressure and heart rate were already declining. We were asked if we wanted to hold him as he passed away. So for the next hour or so we cried and held our baby and each other. He was a tough little fighter. He didn’t seem to be ready to go. I didn’t want him to go. Leaving the hospital and the NICU this time was different. We were going home alone without our precious miracle, with only our memories of this short time we got to spend together and all our future plans and dreams crushed.

I still have almost a month left to go on my recovery from the surgery but a lifetime to go on recovering from this deep hurt. Some days are ok but most nights are not. Some nights are full of a deep pain and sadness. Today is a tough day. I was supposed to have my baby shower. We were supposed to be celebrating Ethan’s upcoming arrival… I am crushed but trying to work through it all…

 

 

 

Shh, Here’s A Secret.

Full disclosure: I started this post 10 months ago. It’s been sitting in my drafts since then. Warning: this is probably going to be a long and emotionally-fueled post. As hard as it was to write the first part and update with the latest, I’m not sure if I’m ready to talk about this in real life – even with my closest friends. I love y’all and if I do talk about it it’ll be difficult and probably only online and maybe only bits and pieces. That’s just how I am. I don’t think any one person knows EVERYTHING about me, except Dustin. Even he gets things delayed. Sorry babe. Anyway, my last post touched on this whole topic a bit but these were some of my thoughts from earlier this year regarding our future.

10 months ago: My overall and deepest desire this year is to lose weight and be healthier. My husband’s #1 goal is to decrease our debt significantly. The reason? We want to start our family. :O Shocking! I’ve gone and said it!

Honestly, that’s not something I really like to talk about much but perhaps sharing it and just putting it out in the universe is what I need right now. For years I’ve jokingly told my mom and family we were only going to have dogs, no children, whenever the topic came up. First of all, I don’t need or want others’ input and opinions on when to start a family or how big of a family to have. Second, my husband and I would ideally like to have our stuff together before bringing a child into the world. But then again, my mom raised two kids alone for a while with a lot less than we have. My brother and I turned out alright (shoutout to my first frienemy for life). Finally, my body is in no condition for this but who knows if it will ever be.

This is the biggest issue I have to deal with everyday. I suffer silently. I know I’m not alone. I follow many women on Instagram and in my PCOS support group on Facebook who are in the same position. That doesn’t make it any less lonely. I fear that even if I lose weight I won’t be able to have children. Do you know how heartbreaking and depressing this can be? I can push the thoughts and negativity away most of the time. But there are some days it all just piles on and I can’t handle it anymore.

– That is where my draft ended 10 months ago. Obviously, I was not ready to share it then.-

Present-day: Last night I broke…and my poor husband… I am so lucky that he is understanding and most of the time has enough patience to deal with the crazy mess that I am. He let me break down and sob and stress out and have an anxious moment. He patiently watched me and let me be even while I obsessively messed with a strand of hair to soothe myself and rambled on and just poured my worries out. He knew I had to work through it but he knew that just him being there was more than I could ask for. It’s what I needed of him and he understood without me actually having to say anything. True love and friendship right there. After I basically bombarded him with all of this he was loving and suggested I keep working through the stress and anxiety. We walked our dogs then went to the gym. It definitely helped to work some of that energy off.

My rock šŸ˜ 

When the meltdown was mostly over, he asked why I hadn’t told him before. Like I mentioned at the start of this, even he gets things delayed. I told him I was trying to be strong (it’s something I’ve done all my life as “the oldest” child and still have trouble with).

Part of my worries regarding trying to conceive is everything that comes with my PCOS. The hormonal issues can cause infertility and miscarriages. I’m already high-risk due to my weight which also causes issues. Although side note – I got my lab work back from my doctor and all the basic stuff was fine!

The other concern is now that my husband has decided to return to school. Full-time. This means he’s quit his regular job, picked up a part-time job and therefore taken a significant pay cut. He’s in training now and we don’t know yet how much he’ll be working after Thanksgiving. It’s scary thinking about trying to afford a baby and paying off debt and our regular bills on less than we’ve been making. I know there are people who do it with less but like I told him yesterday, I want more than I had for my children.

*sigh* I could probably go on and on in circles but I won’t. I’ll leave it at this for now. This was therapeutic for sure and it actually does make me feel a bit better knowing I’m about to take this off my shoulders. šŸ™‚

PCOS Challenge Symposium 2016

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PCOS Positivity support group pic

This past weekend I had the privilege Ā of attending the PCOS Challenge Symposium and Bolt 5K in Atlanta, GAĀ (a Facebook support group I’m in raised the most money for the 5K!) My very supportive husband joined me and we made a quick vacation out of it. We both learned so many new things that will help me along this journey of treating my PCOS and wrangling in my health. We also heard a lot of things we’ve heard before, but hey, sometimes you just need to be hit with the same information over again to help it stick. At least I do…often.

PCOS is a syndrome that has many symptoms and they’re not all the same for everyone. There is no one official way to treat it and treatment plans can vary from traditional medicines to holistic and natural approaches. Every person with PCOS must have a personalized plan and it takes a lot of time, energy, and trial and error. Not to mention finding a team of doctors who are supportive, knowledgeable, and willing to work together to find the right treatment.

At the symposium there were several breakaway sessions with different topic choices. Dustin and I focused on the integrative health and nutrition/fitness tracks. There were also some on emotional/mental health and fertility but we didn’t do those since we’ve got to get a hold of my health before starting a family. There were also Q&A panels with leading PCOS experts that included health professionals and advocates. It was definitely a wonderful experience and I hope to attend the next one.

I purchased an awareness bracelet and was entered into a raffle. There were several prizes, including books, cookbooks, fertility treatments, fitness packages, electrolysis, and even a very popular detox program. Guess who won one of the detox programs?! C’est moi! That’s right! I was surprised because I never win anything in raffles and I almost didn’t even buy the ticket! While I’m not one for “detox” programs and living off of shakes I figured I’ll give it a try and report my results to my fellow cysters (probably via my instagram). I prefer real food but I’ve never tried a shake program so let’s see how it goes. This program consists of 2 weeks of shakes and supplements geared towards women with PCOS. We tend to have insulin resistance/metabolic disorder so sugar can be really bad for us. This program focuses on getting all the necessary nutrients and a little extra of the vitamins and minerals that can help with insulin resistance. It also helps to cut back the amount of processed sugars in the body.

So far I’m halfway through day 2. The shake tastes alright. I’ve done protein shakes before so I’m ok with the texture and taste. It’s a mild berry/vanilla flavor. My husband tried a sip and didn’t like it. He said it was chalky but then again, he doesn’t like protein shakes either (and he likes nato which isĀ fermented soybeans so his palate can’t be trusted sometimes haha). By dinner I was a tad irritable and hangry. But I get like that whenever I start lowering myĀ carbĀ and sugar intake. It takes me a few days to adjust. So, for the next two weeks I’ll be doing two shakes a day and a well balanced meal with healthy snacks (as necessary). Fitness-wise I’m planning on going for walks during my lunch hour at work and I’m in a few daily and weekly step challenges via Fitbit. I did so much walking and hiking during our trip that I managed to lose over 4 lbs! But I also don’t trust my scale…She can be sketchy. I’ll try to update again when I’m done with week 1.

Peace out, y’all.

Japan Day 4 – Hoot! Hoot!

Alrighty, it’s time for our 4th day of adventure in Japan!

It was a pleasant Sunday. Sis-in-law and I woke up at the crack of dawn (5 AM-ish) and went to 7-Eleven to grab breakfast. After waiting for my husband to wake up, eat, and get ready we were ready to start our day. At some point during this day, or the night before, I realized I left one of my bags at our friends’ house! :O Oh no! We had to make a plan to meet up later to grab it before they left forĀ their honeymoon. Until then we were off to explore beautiful Japan.

Our first stop was the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya. When we got off the train, the area was PACKED with people. We did not realize how close it was to the Harijuku shopping area. There was also some kind of protest going on so there were a lot of onlookers blocking the sidewalk. Somehow we managed to get by and found the park where the shrine is located. It was gorgeous! We looked at a map but figured we’d just go where most people seemed to be going. Surely that’s the way to the shrine (it was). Outside of the temple was a fountain and people were getting water. We didn’t know what it was or the meaning behind it because the English pamphlets were all gone. We took a couple of selfies with the shrine gate behind us. As we went past it there was a wedding procession going by. It was a cool site to see. Once they were gone, we kept making our way to the temple. We spent a few minutes people-watching there. We then went out a different way and found another fountain. This one was less crowded and we found a pamphlet explaining the prayer and cleansing tradition. We took a few more photos and were on our way to our next stop: Yoyogi Park to find some cosplayers.

Meiji shrine

Meiji Shrine Gate

Shrine fountain

The fountain

We used GPS on my phone to try and find the actual area where the cosplayers would be. We walked for sooooo long. We found our way out of the park where the shrine is and wandered into the entrance for the actual park area. There were a lot of people once again. Out on the street we thought the protest was still going on, but it turned out to be a parade for Children’s Day. At the park there were many people walking around, picnicking, and just enjoying the day and scenery. There were a few street entertainers who were really interesting. We did some more walking around the park and never came across any cosplayers. By this point, I was getting tired, hot, and grumpy. I tried to keep my grumpiness and disappointment to myself as long as possible but eventually couldn’t anymore. I was done. Hubby and sis kept trying to get me out of my funk but I was having none of that, so we headed towards our hotel because I wanted to nap and get some rest.

We decided to walk and on our way there passed a shopping area. The smell of food was all around us. Since it was about time for us to eat, we looked for an inexpensive place to chow down. In an alley, we found a little restaurant underground. We dined, relaxed, and recharged. I was good to go. I guess I was just hangry before. It’s a real problem guys! Don’t judge. Our next stop was only a few minutes away. I wanted to go to a very popular Japanese stationery store (I don’t know why…). We regrouped and headed off. We found the place and had to cross the street. As we were crossing we heard an alarm go off and just watched as everyone in the street scattered. So what did we do? Run! Follow! Once we were safely across we looked around and laughed at what had just happened. We realized we were just a part of the famous Shibuya Crossing. It’s much like the Times Square of Japan (or so I’ve been told). We took some photos and got to see the Hachiko statue. After our little trip at the stationery store we had finally set up a time to meet up with our friend for my bag. We had some time to kill until then. Fortunately, we weren’t too far from another place we REALLY wanted to visit: an owl cafe!!!

The Scramble

“The Scramble” Shibuya Crossing at night

My goodness y’all. You have not lived until you get to be up close and personal with these precious creatures. It was like being in Harry Potter! Well, probably not at all, but let me dream. We walked through Takeshita Street to check out all the shops on our way to the cafe. If you love fashion, shopping, or people-watching, this is definitely a place to visit. It’s very close to the Harajuku area. We eventually found the owl cafe around an alley and had to take the elevator up a few floors. We were very excited! I mean, who wouldn’t be? Unless you’re a fun-hater. We got to pet, hold, and even feed the owls. There were several kinds of owls, in all shapes and sizes. They were all so soft!! I can’t even find the words to properly convey my feelings for this event. Seriously. It was amazing. Just look at the joy on my hubby’s face in the pictures! We had a hoot! (See what I did there???)

owl4

The largest owl

owl3

The smallest owl

Owl2

Schola

owl

Cool owl

Dustin2

Hubby with the large owl

Dustin

Hubby and his new BFF, Schola ā¤

After our wonderful owl experience we were headed to meet our friend near his house. We made the trip all the way there and met up at a restaurant. After eating and chatting with him and his family his lovely wife offered to go home and grab my bag on her bike so we could make it to the train on time. In the time it took us to wait for the local bus and get to the train station, she was able to make it home and back. I was so grateful to have my stuff back and to be able to head back to the hotel. We were all pretty tired by this point. Unfortunately, we exited the train station on the wrong side and it took us a while to find our way to the hotel. We went in circles a few times. All in all, it was a fun day exploring the Shibuya area.

Japan Day 3 – A Quick Flashback

As previously mentioned, day 3 in Japan was pretty chill. What wasn’t mentioned in my long rambling were two things I’d love to share with y’all. One: My husband and sister-in-law’s experience trying natto. Two: I found a pine cone!

Ok, so about the first one: Natto is basically fermented soybeans. Apparently my husband watched many videos on the plane ride to Japan that explored various topics about Japanese culture, including food information. This is where he learned about natto. He loves fermentedĀ andĀ weird things like sauerkraut, so of course he wanted to try natto! He jumped on the opportunity when we went grocery shopping for the cookout. When we got back to the house, our friend’s wife cooked up some rice to go along with the natto. Our friend’s host dad said that most Japanese people don’t even really eat it. My husband was ready to dig in and somehow convinced his sister to try a good amount herself. Poor girl. We all watched in anticipation of their reaction. Now, this stuff is weird…they picked it up with the chopsticks and this slimy, gooeyness just dripped down. TheĀ smell alone was off-putting.

Dustin’s reaction: *chewing* Mmm, not bad. *keeps eating*

At the same time – his sister’s reaction: *chewing* *makes a disgusted face* *immediately looks forĀ a place to spit it out*

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Before picture. I wish I had an after.

Everyone else: Shocked that Dustin liked it!

He made me try it to and luckily I’d already had enough whiskey shots in me to not taste or smell so well, or care for that matter. I was smart and only ate one individual bean though. It was not good! I was quick to wash it down with some delicious, fruity wine. Ugh!

I wish I had a close upĀ photo of it to share but y’all have to settle for Googling that gooey mess.

Continuing the flashback: My pine cone!! šŸ˜€

Back in February, hubby and I went onĀ our belated honeymoon to lovely Colorado. Looking back through my posts, I’ve realized I never really mentioned it or what we did. One day we went snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn’t get far with my bum knee and it was a very cloudy day so we didn’t want to be stuck out there too long. However, on our way back to the car I saw a couple of pine cones. They were just the tiniest, cutest things ever! I brought one home as a souvenir, because I’m weird like that. So anyway! While we were in Japan at our friend’s house, we stepped outside and sis-in-law pointed out this perfect little pine cone in the middle of the street. I swear I didn’t see that there on our way in and it’s not like it was a street full of traffic. It was more of a dead end kind of street. So for this little pine cone to be sitting there so perfectly was fate! Right? I told you I’m weird. I guess I’m starting a vacation pine cone collection?!

 

Haha, well I hope you enjoyed the two random little stories. Wait for day 4. That’s when it get’s really interesting, maybe.