Thursday, December 5, 2013

Losing Tristan Revisted - One Year Later

Reflecting on the loss of Tristan a little over a year ago. I blogged about the loss the day after it happened, and rereading it I can feel how disconnected I was from the whole experience. It took a few more weeks, after the shock wore off, before my emotions hit. However, it was not devastation or depression. I'd been through this before, I knew a miscarriage was possible - compared to how I was so naive during my first pregnancy I thought it could never happen to me. During my pregnancy with Tristan I felt that maybe something was wrong. Particularly after my supposed 10 1/2 week ultrasound that showed the baby to be 8 1/2 weeks. Instead, I was left with anger. Anger that burned and destroyed. I put on a good face, smiled when I needed but inside I burned. The target of my anger was for the situation; not myself, nor God. But my arrow would miss the target and burn those around me. Why so angry? Well, after my first miscarriage it took 5 years before I got pregnant with E. During my 6 week follow-up after having E, I asked my OB when I could try for another one and was told after 6 months. I switched OB's within that same year and went back for my annual exam. I asked my new OB the same question. She was the doctor who delivered E, so she was more familiar with what happened. She knew I was upset that I had a c-section. She advised that if I waited 2 years for my c-section scar to heal, I would be a perfect candidate for a VBAC. The next baby could be due on E's 2nd birthday. So, we waited until December 2010. The first few months were fun "oh! If we got pregnant now we could have a baby around this time. Or we could announce this way!" But after 6 months I began to worry that my fertility issues were going to repeat, and this would be tougher than we thought. I will also touch briefly on how stressful 2011 & 2012 we for us, due to other circumstances. A year went by, I started thinking that maybe I needed to look into Clomid. But I was terrified. I decided instead to start tracking my cycles. I downloaded an app on my phone. Another six months went by, and after determining my cycles were normal I decided to try ovulation kits. In August, the most stressful event of all occurred. E had to go for dental surgery. I was a mess. After his surgery, I felt dramatically better, like I could breathe deeper. I also had a feeling that I would be pregnant soon, and I knew the baby's name would be Tristan. I won't go into the details of mother's intuition. I tested the end of August and got a big fat negative, preparing myself for another month. A week later, on September 7 I just wasn't feeling right so I took another test and this time I got a positive. When my due date was changed after my ultrasound and my new 10 1/2 weeks arrived and the cramping and spotting started, I hoped for the best but knew this was the end. The ER doctor commented on how dry my mouth was; it was fear. The second I pulled into the parking lot, I was struck with fear. So back to why I was so angry...I was angry that I had to go through trying for 18 months, to finally get pregnant only for that pregnancy to end. Even now that doesn't fully explain it. All the frustrations of trying to conceive before getting pregnant with E, repeating themselves. Plus, on paper my pregnancy with Tristan looked perfectly normal. My OB wasn't even worried about the difference in due dates after my ultrasound. Am I still angry? Yes, a little. But it is no longer burning, seething. This is partly due to the help of the support group I joined after my loss. It took a while. Why post this now? I felt that it was important for me to move on with my life. Important for me to enjoy this new pregnancy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

6 week update

I've made it to 6 weeks, 1 day. I had my ultrasound today and everything is looking great and is measuring right where it should be. I also got to see my sweet baby's heart beat. And confirmed that there is only one in there.
I had HCG and Progesterone levels run at 3 weeks, 6 days and repeated at 4 weeks, 6 days both with normal results.
The specialist released me to my regular OB/Gyn and I have an appointment with her the first week of November.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chasing Rainbows: The Last Puzzle Piece?!

Monday was a very exciting day. I got a positive pregnancy test. Yes! A POSITIVE pregnancy test! Actually, two tests. And then I went to the Reproductive Endocrinologists office and had a couple blood tests done. They confirmed I am pregnant and my HCG and Progesterone are both within the normal range. I am four weeks pregnant. I go back next week for repeats of these tests to make sure my levels are rising.
I truly feel that learning about the MTHFR mutation, and then treating it has answered quite a few problems. Or as my post says, I found the last puzzle piece. And because of this, God heard my prayers; I did not need to start Clomid! Can I get an amen! Because, I was very scared to start it.
Pray for a sticky baby (I don't know, it's an internet term for a baby that makes it to term).

I recognize that I have a very small readership on this blog but I also felt this was an important post for those following our story. We are planning on sharing this news with family after my 6.5 week ultrasound. And making a bigger announcement after the NT scan around 13 weeks.

I have 12 more weeks before I will feel like I'm in my "safe" zone.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Busy Brain

Since Thursday I have been in research mode about MTHFR A1298C, and it's given me a lot to think about.

First and foremost is this just continues to reenforce that my son E is a miracle! The fact that I had this diagnosis since 2006 but did not know until now, did not use any of the treatments and had a baby that survived is just beyond astonishing.

Secondly, that God is good. And he has heard my prayer for answers and he's been providing them to me. It's been puzzle pieces as I mentioned before. But I like puzzles. For the most part I'm very reserved in medical treatment. I look for the most natural approach to my situation. But I also acknowledge that sometimes we need medical intervention; that the medical intervention may be part of God's plan in helping us heal.

This diagnosis also encourages me to keep following the Blood Type A diet. Not because I want to lose weight, it's never been about that. For years I have had chronic stomach issues. Do you know what is on the list of possible conditions caused by MTHFR? IBS. Well, that's bunch of acronyms but hopefully you can follow along. Do you know why MTHFR may be the explanation? Because of this genetic mutation, my body has a hard time removing toxins. And according to the Blood Type diet, certain foods are toxic to certain blood types. I've found a lot of relief following the guidelines in D'Adamo's book. Although I'm having a really hard time giving up olives. Maybe I'm the only one that makes sense of this.

The last thing I realized was that I needed to forgive the OB who delivered my first loss in 2003. On Wednesday I was reminded of where I was 10 years ago; at the hospital delivering the baby I lost. I had many emotions rambling around which I shared previously but I held out on one; bitterness. I was bitter towards that doctor for her terrible bed side manners and the mistreatment of my baby. Her behavior was so terrible it even shocked the nurses, and I received so many apologies from them trying to make up for it. I learned a few years later of what was going on in the L&D floor that may have contributed to her behavior. I just wish she would have left that bad mood at the door. I could go into details, but I don't want to ruin her career. And I think if I put it out there, it would just make the bitterness live on. So, Dr Juicy Fruits (not her real name)...I forgive you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Another puzzle piece

I tried to describe to someone what my fertility journey has been like. It's been like trying to arrange a puzzle, realizing there are missing pieces and then finding the pieces lost all over the house and putting them back one by one.

Where to start...there are a few things on my mind.

Saddest first. Today is the 10 year anniversary of my first miscarriage. Ten years later, I cried today. Do I cry every year, no. Unfortunately, September 11th is a big reminder of what the date is. 10 years ago on September 11th, I had my 16 week prenatal appointment. It was 2 years after the attack on the twin towers and I felt like there was a curse on the day and was worried about my appointment. B and I sat in the waiting room for an hour and a half before being called back. The doctor got out the doppler and couldn't find a heartbeat, and then she tried the in room u/s machine. She told us our baby's heart had stopped and that it was a couple weeks ago - a missed miscarriage, then told us to go home to gather our things and go to the hospital. I chose to be induced and delivered Jacob on 9-12-03.

This year, on the 10 year anniversary I went to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. There were so many emotions tied to this appointment.

Anxiety - over what the treatment options would be. What if they are too invasive? Am I really willing to do them?

Anger - at the medical community who kept telling me I was too young, not trying hard enough, or not trying long enough and blowing me off for so long.

Grief - writing out my medical history brought up those feelings of grief over my losses.

Fear - that the Doctor would tell me that we are a hopeless case.

The good new is the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) was the nicest doctor I have ever met; kind, compassionate. He listened to my concerns, read my history (I wrote it out at home and brought in 4 pages typed), and gave me options. He told me we could be as reserved or aggressive as we want. He does not want to push us into doing anything we didn't want to do, and it was his job to educate us on the options and help us find a good fit for us.

He didn't have a magic answer that explained exactly why I was having a hard time getting pregnant. I wish it was that easy.

He calmed my fears about taking clomid. I had many; I was worried about the side effects that I would feel, and if it would cause issues with my child's fertility. He educated me on the drug, explaining that it's been around since the 1960's and that we have seen children conceived using clomid, now go on to have healthy pregnancies with and without clomid. And he did offer me a second drug option that has less side effects for me, if the clomid makes me feel terrible.

I left the office feeling comfortable with the treatment plan.

The last and most confusing thing is I discovered I have a genetic mutation which may explain my miscarriages. I am Mthfr 1298(A->C) heterozygote. How did I discover this? I requested my file from my previous OB be faxed to the RE. I mentioned specifically that I was looking for some genetic testing I had done in 2006. I remember my old OB telling me that she ran this testing, everything came back normal. But that there was one result that was slightly abnormal but it was nothing to worry about. I asked to see the test result while in the RE's office. I recognized the MTHFR mutation because a couple of girls in my support group have the same thing. I messaged them asking for translation; It causes microclots between the placenta and baby which causes the baby to die (missed m/c) due to lack of nutrients and blood supply. The MTHFR mutation causes a reaction with the folic acid cascade in your body so you're at increased risk for neural tube defects.

I asked the RE about it, and he said that he really has no concern over it. He said I could take additional folic acid to cover the deficiency caused by the mutation.

In some ways this gives me peace, knowing that there was a cause. But because it is something that isn't really researched in the medical community, there's not a lot of support in helping me treat it. Looks like I have my research cut out for me.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Meet The Mercers Took a Vacation

So the Mercer's took their first vacation in 6 years. First time with a kid, and we added our 8 month old puppy too. We went to our favorite home away from home - Rochester NY. We left Friday night and came home Sunday afternoon. And while it was good as a first trip it was honestly way too short. I was hoping to do two kid friendly activities while there; the Strong's Children's Museum and the Seneca Zoo. Time would only allow a trip to the Children's museum but it was totally worth it. If we are Facebook friends, you can view the pictures there but since this blog is a little more public, I'm going to keep the pictures limited.

Bailey was such a good boy during the 4 1/2 hr car ride

 Mini Wegman's exhibit - Kids shopped for 5 items, and then went through checkout. They could also be the cashier and work the belt and the register. The food was so realistic looking. E loved this so much he went through twice.

 Left: Bearenstein Bears exhibit
Right: Sesame Street exhibit

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anxiety...taking this month off

So it's August and this time last year I got pregnant with my May 2013 angel Tristan. If I were to get pregnant this year, this month; my due date would be the same. It was a little too much. I debated, feeling like if I skipped this month I'd be losing momentum. But then every time I thought about the due date and all the milestones being the same I'd just get this sick feeling. Plus the last two cycles have been very symptomatic, I wanted to see if I would still feel that way knowing that it was a very (very) slim chance that I was pregnant. I mean, sure things happen and birth control methods are not 100% but chances are very slim.
Next month I will be visiting a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). I finally got a Doctor who listened to me about having a hard time getting pregnant and didn't tell me I was too young or hadn't been trying long enough. She looked at the whole picture and then referred me to the RE. 
Since May I've been using the natural methods to increase my progesterone; a Vitamin B supplement with Vitamin C, Zinc and Magnesium. Plus Vitanica Pregnancy Prep which contains Vitex. I have noticed some of the signs of low progesterone get better. For instance, my heels were terribly cracked. I always thought it was because I walk around barefoot the majority of the time. But now I notice that they are not nearly as cracked, and are getting softer. I've also been losing weight without much effort and my general anxiety levels are lower.

"Even miracles take a little time." ~ Cinderella

Monday, June 10, 2013

Advice I would give my 25 yr old self about TTC, Miscarriage and Infertility

  • Join a support group. No really, do it. In 2012 you found one through Babycenter, after the loss of Tristan, and it has helped so much. You were left wishing you would have found one in 2003 after the loss of Jacob. Not only for your emotional help but because you have learned so much about fertility and how to advocate for yourself at the doctors. 
  • Be an advocate for your health. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let the Doctors tell you that you are too young to be worrying about infertility. Trying for over a year and not being able to get pregnant is considered infertility - whether you're 23 or 32. And it's 6 months of trying if you're over 35. 
  • Learn what they can test beyond just prolactin and TSH, those are the standard tests. I have a friend whose been through this, and she recommended getting my progesterone checked 7 days past a positive ovulation test. Therein lies my issue - progesterone, I'm not ovulating regularly due to low progesterone. Now that I know what's causing the issue, I know what I can do to increase my fertility. 
  • Because of your miscarriage, there is now a loss of innocence during pregnancy. When you do get pregnant in 2008 you are going to be a hot mess of worry. And it's ok to worry but your baby is going to be a great kid. He's now 4 years old and absolutely amazing. 
  • It is ok to announce your pregnancy early. You are a mommy the second that the pregnancy test turns positive. And after trying for 5 years you're going to want to shout it from the roof tops, enjoy. If you were to have miscarriage, it is nice to have the support of those around you. 
  • Not everyone will stand by your side, you may have friends who pull away. Grief is difficult to go through, and it's just as difficult to see. Many people do not understand the loss of a child and they expect you to "just get over it". 
  • Dad's grieve differently, but they've lost a child too. For B, that means going on 60 mile bike rides. 
  • You will learn to be happy for preggos.
  • People can say incredibly cruel things.
  • There is nothing you could have done to save Jacob or Tristan.
  • It was nothing that you did that caused the miscarriages.
  • Give yourself time to grieve. 
  • Some days are easier than others, and some days are really hard.
  • Miscarriage can happen again.
  • You are not alone

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Chasing Rainbows: Part 2.5

Ok, so I went back to the vampires and had my progesterone checked for a second time this cycle. I did this for a couple reasons; the first is that the morning before they called me with my results I decided to take another ovulation test and it was positive. Now, the process of trying to conceive can really make us crazy. And this has been a crazy month. I didn't mention this to the nurse when she called with my results because I just thought I was crazy. But when cycle day 28 arrived and I didn't get my period, and after talking with a few friends who have been through all this I called my OB's office and requested a second 7 DPO progesterone draw, with the assumption that I ovulated cycle day 23.

So why did I take another ovulation test after getting a positive on cycle day 14? Well, I honestly didn't believe that cycle day 14's results were correct. I've been tracking my ovulation for almost a year - except obviously the months that I was pregnant and then the month I miscarried; and in tracking my ovulation I have ovulated either cycle day 17, or if it's a stressful month I ovulated cycle day 23.  And after 6 months of trying, after my miscarriage, and using the cheapo ovulation tests I was sick of analyzing lines and decided to use one of the big fancy brands with a smiley face that flashes to let you know you're LH is peaking, and then another smiley for ovulation day. As usual I started testing on cycle day 13 and got a negative and then cycle day 14 I got a positive, but there was no blinky smiley face. I thought it was strange but I'd been using red raspberry leaf tea this month, so I thought maybe I was finally regulating my ovulation or something. I still questioned the results so I ran out and bought the cheapos again. I tested the next day and after staring at the lines I assumed it was a positive. But after my cycle day 21, 7 DPO progesterone draw came back so low and then I didn't get my period on cycle day 28, as I usually do, I started to wonder if the test was wrong.

Honestly, it was worth it to me to get the progesterone draw at cycle day 30, 7 DPO for CD 23, and get a full picture rather than jump immediately into fertility drugs. And if this comes back low again, then I will have to think on it some more.

UPDATE: I got my results back and I am now at 3.3. So I am now in the normal range but still very low. I was told that I want that number to be more like 5, at the very least. So my plan is; between now and August, I am going to attempt natural methods to increase my progesterone. That will include reducing stress, eating whole foods and a combination of herbs including; red raspberry leaf tea and supplement called Pregnancy Prep. If by August I am not pregnant, I will see my OB again for my annual exam and I will discuss with her other options, to see if there is an alternative to Clomid such as just progesterone.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chasing Rainbows: Part Two

Well, let's start with Part 2 doesn't have the fairy tale ending that I was hoping for...yet. Two days after my post on 4/29/13 I got my period early. My May 2nd appointment with my OB/Gyn wasn't my first prenatal appointment instead it was a discussion of what to do next which resulted in lab work being ordered: prolactin and TSH (Thyroid) and a 7 DPO progesterone reading.  As per my usual routine I started using Ovulation kits on cycle day 12 and got a positive on CD 14, which is 3 days early for me and in some cycles 9 days early. My Angel's due date, May 16 came and went and left me feeling a sense of closure. On May 16 a Facebook friend posted a scripture that just really hit home: Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (NIV). 
I went in and had my 7 DPO blood work and at 10 DPO I got the call from my OB's assistant; everything looks normal BUT my progesterone was 0.6 which is too low for me to have ovulated this month. She did stress that this doesn't mean that I'm not always ovulating, I have had 3 pregnancies so I have to have ovulated at least that many times. And then she started talking about clomid, ultrasounds, more blood work, sperm analysis for my husband, etc. When I received this call, I was in the car and my head was spinning. After handing up, I felt like my heart was as heavy as a ton of bricks. Clomid was not the path I wanted to be taking. An hour later I had to call my OB's office back because after hanging up the phone I then had a million and one questions. Unfortunately, none of them could be answered with that phone call and I will have to return for another appointment.
After a few days of consideration and research I've come to a couple of conclusions. One: Clomid is a last resort for me. I now know what the issue is, I know what to pray about and what I need to address. Clomid does not fix the progesterone issue, but yes I do realize that it may speed up the process. I have researched other natural ways of getting my progesterone levels back to normal. To include diet, exercise and herbal remedies. The good news with diet is that whole foods are recommended which is already part of my normal eating habits and is much easier to maintain during the summers in Ohio. And exercise is also easier with the nicer weather plus I learned how to ride a bike this spring and we have a 20 week old puppy who needs a good long walk frequently.
My second conclusion is that I'm realizing just how much of a miracle my son E is. For him to be conceived, and to have been a full term, live birth pregnancy is not only amazing. But for me to have gotten pregnant with him after 5 years of trying, not ovulating regularly and not having medical intervention is astounding. Praise God!
In my support group for the women who have lost our May 2013 angels, I posted this verse today: Romans 8:18 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." However, I shared lyrics to a song by Josh Wilson called Before the Morning based on that verse; "The pain that you've been feeling can't compare to the JOY that's coming!" I felt that this verse held some importance to my current situation but I'm just not sure what exactly that meaning is yet.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chasing Rainbows: Part One

**For those that don't know, a Rainbow baby is a baby that is conceived after a miscarriage. My son E is my first Rainbow, who was conceived 5 years after my 2003 miscarriage "Jacob" and subsequent struggles to get pregnant. In October 2012 I suffered a second miscarriage "Tristan" who would have been due May 16, 2013.
4/29/13 I hope part two has a good ending. I am currently in the two week wait, 11 days past ovulation and coming into the month when my angel would have been due (May 16, 2013). After being advised to wait for two years before trying to get pregnant after having our son, then trying for another two years to get pregnant, finally getting pregnant and then miscarrying last October; all I've wanted is to get pregnant again and move on with my life. I want another child, a sibling for E. And every month that has passed since we decided to try again I feel stuck in this cycle, like the movie Groundhogs Day. My period arrives, I have a week of normalcy, and then 10-15 days of ovulation testing, a positive ovulation test and then another two week wait. During that two week wait I start to analyze any and all symptoms, hope that they are signs of pregnancy and then talk myself into taking a home pregnancy test way too early, and then keep testing until my period arrives again. Every.single.month! I'm currently on cycle 5 of trying since my miscarriage. During the follow up for my miscarriage I talked to my OB about my struggles to get pregnant (5 yrs for E, 2 yrs for angel) and we decided I would track my ovulation and if by May 2013 I wasn't pregnant we would discuss further options i.e. medications. I would really prefer not to go on medication. But I also don't want to wait another 2 years or 5 yrs for another child.
So here we are, approaching May 2013 and I'm not pregnant. My appointment is May 2nd, I will be 14 DPO if my period hasn't arrived yet. I'm stuck in my Groundhog Day cycle of analyzing every symptom, and I've already taken ehem, 3 home pregnancy tests - all negative of course.
So why do I feel like if this month isn't it, then I'm hopeless? I'm not sure I could face my angel's due date without having a new pregnancy to look forward to. I did that for 5 years already - the years between my first angel Jacob and when I was pregnant with E. I also had asked a friend to pray for me and during her prayer she prophesied that I would be pregnant within 3 months. I wrote the date down, three months from the day she said that. Three cycles went by since that prayer and nothing has happened. But I still had some time before that date I wrote down, and coincidentally I had a positive ovulation test that day. I felt like it was a sign. I also called to schedule my May appointment with my OB, to talk about what was going on and it was scheduled for the day my period was due, sign #2. And if I don't get a positive pregnancy test this month, I think I'm considering myself crazy and a "pee on a stick addict" who is in need of a serious intervention.
So I have 3 options; I go to my OB's appointment and get a positive pregnancy test then because I'm doing taking them at home, my period arrives and I talk to the OB about going onto medication to help me conceive or my period arrives and I tell the OB I need to go onto birth control because I just don't want to think about being pregnant and I can't face another two week wait for a while.
That is why I am feeling hopeless.