Pressure.

When I was pregnant with Alden after Kenley’s death, I never felt “pressure” about my pregnancy. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to most people but the mothers who have lost babies will understand it.

I thought in my head (very naively) that the universe had done me wrong enough by taking my perfect daughter that I was pretty much guaranteed to take Alden home. That awful awful thing couldn’t happen twice in two years to the same family right?? I mean looking back I know that I had and continue to have zero control over the “universe”, and while I say I didn’t feel pressure to keep her alive that’s probably false as well. Alden’s pregnancy was the most mentally taxing thing I think I’ve ever done.

I was just focused on getting her here alive. I felt we were monitored wonderfully, which we were, and I felt confident in her living. It was still very scary but it was different than this pregnancy.

This pregnancy, however, I feel something odd. And I really don’t know what else to call it except for “pressure”. Pressure to make sure that Rowan is born alive. Pressure to make sure I’m very conscious of her movements, pressure to remember her every pattern. Everyone’s excitement is overwhelming and I’m so thankful that she is so loved already and people can’t wait for her arrival, but shew.

I feel like the universe gave me my “freebie” and now I have to work for this one. My brain is overwhelmed constantly and I feel like I’m second guessing everything. Our care protocol is identical to that if Alden’s so I know I’m being monitored well, and I’m on lovenox again so I know that’s helping as well. I guess I don’t really know how to explain it.

Pressure is the best description I can come up with I think. I feel like if I were to lose another baby people would think I was unfit to be a mother (more than some of them probably already do…). I feel like I would hear “how did you not feel her moving-AGAIN”. Or similar things that you just know people are thinking and saying behind your back.

I need to get this baby here alive.

She has to survive.

11 days.

routine.

Rowans pregnancy has been pretty much routine aside from the fact that she’s a complete miracle. I do however have a fear that she will die, just like I had the fear with Alden, and just like Kenley did. I don’t care how many precautions we take, or how many NST’s I have, I will just always be fearful because of our past.

That being said I believe in my heart that we will bring her home alive. I trust my MFM and I am so ready for her to be here. I had an NST on Thursday which ultimately went well, but Rowan was just doing whatever she wanted to do….

I got there, hooked up to the monitors and immediately found her heartbeat. Then, within 5 minutes she rolled into some weird position and we couldn’t find her heartbeat for approximately 20 minutes. I felt her moving around a ton, and we would get a bunch or random heartbeats but nothing solid enough for her to pass the NST. My favorite nurse Cathy sat with me, constantly moving the monitor trying to find her heart rate and I know she could just see the fear in my eyes. She called the ultrasound tech down and had her scan to see how Rowan was laying. It turns out she was head down like always, but then flipped her spine up and at a weird angle. She was able to listen to her heart beat via ultrasound and we were able to see her moving around.

I don’t care if I could hear her heart beating or not, it stressed me the fuck out. PTSD. I mentioned it to the nurse and she asked why I was feeling that why. I told her that at the hospital this is how they couldn’t find Kenley’s heart beat– an NST. It was the first time I felt real fear during this pregnancy. I felt concern on 12/30 which prompted me to go to L&D to find out if she was moving ok.

I cannot tell you the stress and anxiety that comes with the last 2 weeks of a pregnancy after loss. Tomorrow, I’m 35 weeks pregnant. 35 WEEKS. again. I can’t believe that I’m here again. It’s a serious mind fuck honestly. All of these crazy preparations we did for Kenley, then again for Alden, we have done NOTHING for this baby except we have a dresser. I feel guilty honestly, but we don’t have a bedroom for her, so I mean I don’t know what were supposed to do. Ugh.

Tomorrow my Mother in Law is throwing me a “diaper party”.  I didn’t really want one, and I don’t really know how I feel about it honestly, but it is what it is…Having a baby shower for a baby after loss is weird anyway, and this is my second baby after my loss. I dunno. I obviously will appreciate everything we receive and I am grateful that she wasn’t to throw one for us, it’s just weird for me.

14 days to go.

growth.

Today was our final growth scan! Possibly our final ultrasound ever, honestly! We will probably have one at the hospital before the c-section, but this was the final big one. She of course didn’t cooperate at all, and we weren’t able to see her face. We did see everything else that we needed and she is now (34 weeks) measuring in the 83rd percentile at 5 lbs 15oz! I wanted to see her face so badly, but she’s just nestled in so tight that it was impossible.

She passed her NST as well. I love listening to her heart beat on the monitor. I could listen to it all day; as long as she’s moving its very relaxing to me. After everything was done, I met with my Dr for a little bit. There’s nothing to really talk about when we meet, so just a formality really. So we have 6 NSTs left; 21 days.  I can’t even believe it.

I ordered a few things for Rowan the other day. I bought her a onesie for the hospital, a hat that is adorable, and a blanket that has her name on it. I bought a newborn insert for the halo bassinet as well. Alden hated sleeping in it with nothing around her; I think it wasn’t “secure” enough for her. Too much wide open space and she wanted to be cuddled up.

I cannot believe there will be another baby in our home so soon. It really doesn’t even still feel real. I’ve been feeling really guilty about Kenley lately. Just the would have and should haves that I’m sure most mothers feel after their child dies. It’s like with each subsequent pregnancy I thought maybe it would feel different, but I was way wrong. It still feels like I’m leaving her behind.

weekend review.

Landon’s birthday party was this weekend. On Wednesday he will turn 7! I can’t believe it; how in the world can he be that old already? Ugh. The party went well and he seemed to have a great time. We rented a video game truck to come sit in our drive way for 2 hours so the kids could go inside and play a bunch of different video games. After everyone left, Landon’s cousin from Norwalk spent the night and drove home with my mom the next day. It was a great weekend.

On Friday, before Shane went to work, Rowan was moving all over like crazy. She was moving so much that it actually made me feel nauseous. I kind of felt scared because I’ve never had a baby move that much and as strongly as she was so I laid down for a few minutes and she sort of mellowed out. Well, the next morning was Saturday and I usually take a belly picture because that’s my “new week”. So, 33 weeks, and Rowan has dropped SO much. I’m not sure if it was from all the moving she was doing or what was going on but shooooo. So now I’m feeling tons of pressure in my lady bits, but I can breathe so much better. This has never happened in any of my pregnancies so I’m kinda freaked out. If you google it you can easily find that when a baby drops labor could happen soon, or it could be super far off still.

Mind is in overdrive about it obviously. I’m having a scheduled c-section so I do not want to go into labor, but I’m only 33 weeks…I don’t think I have anything to worry about but who knows.

Today I have an NST @ 2:45, and I’m planning to talk to the nurse about it. You know, cus anxiety overload is gonna happen any way we slice this…ugh.

Landon’s birthday was the last “milestone” before Rowan is born…I can’t e even believe it’s going to happen so soon.

25 days.

 

NST 3

Today I had my third NST. Everything looked wonderful, and Rowan was very active once hooked up to monitoring…

Yeah. Once we hooked her up, I felt less crazy. Let’s start from the beginning…

As I’m driving to my appointment it hits me that I can’t remember when the last time I felt her move was. I thought hard about it and decided I felt her move this morning around 6:30 when Landon woke me up. I rolled over in bed and she started kicking- I’m pretty sure that’s the last big movement I felt from her that I could really be positive about.

Usually she will kick when I shower- I did that this morning and I can’t recall her kicks.

So I’m driving down the road completely zoning out about movement, poking her and begging her to move. Nothing. I wish I could say I believed things would be ok, and I didn’t spiral into crazy town in my head but that’s not the case at all. I turned the music up really really loudly, poked my belly, pushed my belly, drank my cold water, and still no movements.

Then, PTSD kicked in. I had all the thoughts and feelings of when Kenley died. I could just picture myself going to this NST thinking everything was fine only to be told it wasn’t. It would be the same thing- unable to find her heart on the monitor…ultrasound…the world comes crashing down around me.

I hustled to my appt, walked inside and checked in. As I was sitting there waiting I felt her kick. Then again, and a few more hard jabs.

I felt a little relief.

My favorite nurse came to grab me for the NST and I explained what was going on. She hooked me right up and we heard her heartbeat immediately. We watched as she had proper accelerations and eventually the nurse told me to lay back and relax. She was going to keep me on for about 10 more minutes.

I put my phone down, and laid there with my eyes closed, alone in the room with my baby girl. I listened to her heart beating away nice and strong. In those moments I realized (all over again? Had I been pushing these feelings down? Idk…) that I will NEVER be a normal mother again. Ever. No matter what. After what I have endured, nothing will be normal for me again.

As my nurse unhooked us and told me we sounded wonderful and passed with flying colors, she said something that I really needed to hear.

She said “Don’t ever hesitate to call us. Come in, we’ll hook you right up, and you can stay here all day if you need to. Or go to L&D and stay there as long as you need. After what you’ve been through it’s absolutely understandable.”

I’m glad she understands. But, it just goes to show you that the medical field is still a bit out of touch. I know she meant “what you’ve been through” = the death of Kenley, but it’s just like…Kenley is not something we went through. She IS my daughter. She is my every day, my every second, my reality. I’m not going to come out on the other side of her death as the phrase “what you’ve been through” suggests…I will always be in the thick of it.

So today was less than fun…

2 down, 8 or 9 to go.

My first NST was Thursday. Rowan wouldn’t sit still the entire time I was hooked up. It’s like she felt the pressure from the monitors and wanted nothing to do with it. She kicked and moved and ultimately the nurse had to stand with me for 20 mins holding it in position so we could try to get a decent reading. When she had gotten enough accelerations, she showed my MFM who said it was fine and that I didn’t need to have an ultrasound to confirm she indeed passed her NST.

Then, an ultrasound tech came in and checked my amniotic fluid. She was new. She was super sweet, but she had notes with her (I know you have to learn and start somewhere but how about NOT starting on someone who has lost a baby…)

She took forever to get the measurements and when she was done she said I was measuring 8cm of amniotic fluid (average between 25-32 weeks is 14, then it decreases in preparation for birth). Two weeks previous it had been 12.6 during an ultrasound with an amazing tech whom I love/trust fully. So after some calculations she came up with the number 10.

I wasn’t happy and I told my MFM this but she said she wasn’t worried. I trust her. But, it’s so hard to not allow my mind to go there and freak out. Which I proceeded to do from after Thursday’s appt until today at my NST when they measured my fluid again.

Same (new) girl. Same notes. Same length of time to complete the test….13.76 cm.

Seems odd….but whatever. It is what it is. Rowan passed her NST with flying colors today and I feel satisfied for now. Shane was able to come with me today but I could just tell it was so nerve wracking for him. I don’t know if I’m going to let him come again.

Afterward, we went to Panera Bread, without kids! It was so nice to sit with him and enjoy a dinner where I’m not feeding someone else or having to get up to get more drink, a spoon or a napkin for someone else.

Landon’s birthday party is this weekend. I have so much to accomplish this weekend (Shane’s weekend– Tuesday and Wednesday). I’m hoping he feels motivated to help me get it all done cus lord knows I can’t do much of anything with this giant stomach. I am SO ready to be done….I love being pregnant, but nearly 3 straight years is just too much.

4 weeks and 5 days left.

I can do this.

and we’re here again.

Tomorrow starts the long (yet short) last few weeks of this pregnancy. I start 2x weekly NSTs. They will be every Thursday and Monday. I’m hoping that Shane will be able to go to some of them, but it doesn’t seem likely and honestly maybe that’s for the better.

When we started NSTs for Alden he was a wreck. I think in part because the first one he came to we couldn’t find the HB on the machine for what seemed like 59 hours but was a few seconds. So, he was stressed over that and things just kind of spiraled from there. I think it would be better if I went to them alone honestly.

Then, on February 9th I will have an NST, growth ultrasound and a doctors appt. If things go right, this could be my last ultrasound EVER. It’s crazy to think that way. Also, if all goes well during delivery, I will be getting my tubes tied. This really brings up a lot of weird emotions for me.

We tried for so long to get pregnant naturally, then we were diagnosed with infertility, then Kenley died, then IVF and Alden was born, then a healthy spontaneous pregnancy. It just seems so final to tie my tubes but really it’s not. If for some CRAZY reason we ever want more kids (no) I have embryos and need no tubes for IVF so there’s that…

Plus this saves us from the possibility of a random pregnancy when we’re like 45.

I guess the next 37 days will be jam packed with NSTs, basketball games and Landon’s birthday party…and of course at the end of the 37 days we will hopefully add another baby girl to our lives.

Fingers crossed.

those people.

When we found out we had fertility issues I was devastated to say the least. I was thrown into this world where I knew nothing and was supposed to emerge on the other side with a healthy baby. Navigating infertility was awful and lonely; it was the scariest thing we had to deal with as a couple up until we lost Kenley.

Many fertility treatments later I began to realize that I needed to see someone who know what the fuck they were doing and not a NP who was playing doctor. I will never forgive my previous physician for not sending me to a RE, ever, and for me pretty much having to advocate for myself and request to be seen by myself. Which…is funny because my NP suffered from infertility and had to do IVF a bunch of times…but that’s whatever. It is what it is.

When I started seeing my RE it was just night and day difference. This is when I began to research my diagnosis and found things to help me along my journey. I found that certain meds would be better for us vs lower doses etc. Ultimately, I think my RE was annoyed by me. I think he didn’t really like that I googled the shit out of everything and spoke to other women who had gone through treatment and had gotten their opinions on my diagnosis.

After 4 or 5 failed cycles, I convinced him to allow me to use injectable medicine along with an IUI (intrauterine insemination). I responded well, the IUI went well, and I ended up pregnant with Kenley. I fought so hard for her…she was worth every stab, poke, and transvaginal ultrasound.

When we lost her and I found out that my diagnosis was even worse now, I freaked out. We were told by the OB to wait s year to try again, and my RE suggested a year and a half (nope). I did my research and decided that I wanted to see a maternal fetal medicine doctor. I made an appointment at OSU MFM and they ended up clearing me to try on the spot. They said based on my infertility diagnosis it was worth it to start now; my csection scar was healed and would only keep healing.

This is when we started IVF for Alden. I’ll never forget meeting with my RE after Kenley died, and just seeing the look on his face. I will also never forget him saying these exact words to me: ” Randi, if I’m being honest here, I think you should take the money you have for IVF and put it into an account to send your son to college”. He thought we didn’t stand a chance. He thought it wouldn’t work.

With each appointment I proved him wrong. My body rallied and we ended up with 7 eggs which is a big deal for my diagnosis. 3 of those 7 were genetically normal after testing. We had 1 girl, and 2 boys. Alden was transferred into my body, and was born 37 weeks later.

We have 2 male embryos frozen.

Then, the thing that everyone with infertility wishes for happened to us.We became pregnant naturally.

I cannot explain how this made me feel. I’m not even going to try because it’s a whole huge cluster fuck of emotions and honestly there are VERY few people who would be able to understand or read it without judging me in some way, shape or form.

So we are those people. The ones who paid $23,000 out of pocket for IVF and then BAM get pregnant. We’re the people who adopt then BAM the wife is pregnant with twins! We’re the people who “stop trying” then BAM!

I don’t want to be those people, because that’s not my story. Like…it is…but it’s SOOO much more than that. I don’t want to be the couple that my sisters friends brothers wife talks about to her friend who’s struggling- ” I know this couple who did IVF and then got pregnant naturally when their daughter was 3 months old”!

I don’t want to be those people. That’s not who I am. I am a mother who suffered infertility for YEARS, who lost her daughter that was conceived after multiple failed cycles, who insisted on IVF even though it meant taking out a home equity loan on her home.

I feel like just being the person who got pregnant naturally when her daughter was 3 months old sells my story short.

I guess I shouldn’t give a shit, because I know the truth. The people who matter know the truth (even though some of them seem to forget the struggle we’ve had…).But I will always care because I feel like being “those people” discounts Kenley’s existence and our struggle. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just feeling everything all at once, again. It seems to be something I do a lot of lately.

I don’t want to be those people.

I want us to be Landon, Kenley, Alden and Rowan’s parents. That’s all.

And I really fucking wish that we could parent them all on earth with each other.

snow.

December 2015 was hot. Like balmy even. 72-75 degrees when I went to the hospital the night we found out we lost Kenley. I was wearing flip flops. We got the best parking spot and walked in all smug because I told myself I wasn’t leaving u till the let me have my baby; She was ready to join us in the world.

December 2016 was cold. December 2017 was even colder– like super cold. Negative temps even! I’m so thankful that each December has been colder and colder. I always fear that it’s going to resemble the worst December of my life and that the temperature might make it harder to handle her birthday. This year we had snow…a lot of snow.

I’m thankful for the stark contrast from the December I lost part of my heart, to the December I’ve known the last two years. I mean December is always going to be December, and nothing will change that but the way it physically feels on my skin helps with the PTSD.

Speaking of PTSD…I went to L&D on 12/30 at like 10:30 p.m. because I had noticed decreased movement. She was of course fine, and I of course had the oldest grumpiest nurse on the floor. When the OB on call came in to talk to me I felt better. She was so kind and easy to talk to. She reassured me that any time I feel like I need to be there, for any reason, that I should just come up. There is no reason NOT to. She said it is never an inconvenience and with our history that she absolutely understands if I want to be there every 30 minutes.

Then, when she could tell I was upset still, she offered to grab the ultrasound machine and we took a look at Rowan. Her tiny little heart beating away in her tiny little chest. Safe and sound. Yet, it offered little reassurance that anything will turn out ok. Kenley was fine at our 36+5 growth scan. She had a strong heartbeat the day before she died. I have it recorded on my phone …

I don’t know. I want to believe everything will be fine, and I have hope that it will be, but it’s always there…that gigantic black cloud. Death. Demise of a perfectly healthy child inside of my body. It’s enough to seriously send you over the edge, no joke.

Some days I don’t know how I’ve made it this far since losing her…