Week 19 — It's a…

Healthy baby! We had our sonogram this last week and everything looked good. For that, we are so very thankful for a good report.
I have been feeling the baby move a bit more which is reassuring. I felt the baby move a little later in my pregnancy than my others and it doesn’t happen as often, which had me a bit concerned a couple weeks ago. I found out at my sonogram that I have an anterior placenta, which means it’s on the front side of my uterus, so that serves as a cushion for feeling movement from the baby. I had an anterior placenta with Titus too. One of the big concerns with a placenta on the front and my history of c-sections is that the placenta can grow into the c-section scar, which can be a big problem after the baby is born. Thankfully, the placenta seems well out of the way of the scar and since it will be moving up as my uterus grows, it won’t grow down towards the scar. Whew! Good thing.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what we were having this time, I kind of wanted it to be a surprise. There was no hiding it though when we were watching the sono. This baby is definitely another boy and we are thrilled! When this baby is born we will have 5 boys in our home (and one waiting for us in eternity). I told Kerry that surely the comments we’ll get when we have 5 boys with us won’t be any worse than the ones we get now with 4 boys. One of our sons was a bit disappointed when he found out he was having a brother. He said “But mom! I prayed for a sister!” Once he was assured that a baby brother would want him to hold him as much as a sister would he seemed to be okay. The bigger brothers were both delighted! So now comes the big “name debate” at our house. It is completely likely that this little guy won’t have a name until after he is born. We like to lay eyes on them before we make it official.
I’ve been feeling okay this week, eating is still a challenge. Nothing ever sounds good and I have a really hard time making myself eat. I get hungry, but have a difficult time finding anything appetizing. This is all pretty typical for me. Spicy things generally go down easier, but still it takes a bit of convincing to make me feel like eating.
Here are a few pictures from our sonogram this past week.

18 weeks cravings and a peek

Well, I’ve made it to 18 weeks. I am ever so thankful for each passing day and each week that this baby lives. We pray daily for this little one and his or her health and birth. We thank God for giving us one more day.
We’ve had a rough week at our house this week. We were fighting two different bugs. The boys seemed to deal with the stomach bug and my husband had terrible headaches and fever. I can just tell you that stomach bugs in general aren’t something I handle well, but especially when I’m pregnant. Oh my goodness it was tough. I was thankful most of the time they got sick on a fairly empty stomach and my darling son, knowing how hard it was for me, tried really hard to not get sick around me. He kept apologizing to me for being sick and kept saying “I know it’s hard for you and I don’t want you to get sick.” Leave it to Otto. My heart just went out to him, I reassured him repeatedly that it was okay. Thankfully it appears everyone is on the mend.
Cravings have hit me big time this week. Breakfast is still hard though, nothing ever sounds good first thing in the morning. I hate to admit how many times my breakfast consists of either orange juice or chocolate milk. I just can’t seem to stomach anything else. I generally crave pretty savory kinds of things, like verenika (recipe coming this week). Spicy has been big on my list lately. I was really grateful when someone from church brought over a scalloped potato and ham dish for our family this week. It was really yummy and great with some hot sauce on top. 🙂 The boys are sure that this baby is a boy now because I want spicy food and that’s what I’ve wanted with each of them. I do have to say that I did make some brownies this week. I ate one. Actually I ate a spoonful of dough and then one brownie when they were done. So yeah, sweets aren’t big on my list.
We have a sono this week on Thursday. We are praying that we will see a happy healthy baby. It is hard for me not to be anxious every step of the way with this pregnancy. I pray regularly to give up my fears and that this baby will be healthy. This sono, in a way, seems like a big hurdle for us (for me). The last two sonograms I had were the ones that showed Knox and Lily had died. When I think about the sonogram, I remember what it was like to see those sonograms and the babies that we lost. It’s hard for me not to dwell on the images of empty chests, still babies and the sinking feeling I had each time. It is a daily struggle, sometimes moment by moment. I am thankful for a God who is walking this path with me.
I am still on the fence about whether I want to know if this baby is a boy or girl. We’ve found out with the others, but I’m just not sure I want to know this time. I can’t say why, but I’m just not sure. Kerry definitely wants to know and the boys want to know, in fact they’ve asked several times this week if we will tell them, so we’ll probably find out. I really just want to see a baby with all of his/her parts where they’re supposed to be, growing like he/she is supposed to.
We are thankful for another week. I’m thankful to be feeling bits of movement this week and I am looking forward to our sonogram on Thursday.

17 weeks

This week went quickly. I was surprised how fast the week went from 16 to week 17 and I am thankful. I have been feeling good although food aversions have been pretty intense. I don’t want to eat anything, or I do and then when I get it…it doesn’t sound good anymore. I’m eating though.
I *think* I’ve been feeling baby move here and there which is encouraging. I’ve noticed this little baby’s heartbeat is lower than the boys were at this point. The boys always had heartbeats in the 140s-150s throughout my pregnancy. This baby is content to just sit around 120-130. I don’t put a lot of stock in the whole wives tales that say the heartbeat is higher or lower depending on the gender of the baby. So beats me, I’m hoping that means this little one is laid back.
I’m trying a new chiropractor on Wednesday this week. Hopefully I’ll find someone I am comfortable with and who I feel confident in.
We are praising God for another week with this baby. We are taking each week as it comes. Praying daily for this little one and his/her safety and arrival.

16 weeks — Scary

I’m not going to lie…this last week was scary for me. I haven’t made it to 16 weeks with a live baby the last 2 times I’ve been pregnant. As of this week I have spent 45 of the last 60 weeks pregnant and I don’t have a baby here to show for it. I spent three trimesters in the 1st trimester.
This week was, in a way, a milestone for me. I know realistically that there is no magical “safe” point in my pregnancy. I know that every week, every day, every moment is precious. While I *know* that realistically, there is still part of me that hopes that if this week is successful…next week will be do. We have prayed every day for this little baby, our children have prayed every day for this little baby…this child is always on our minds.
This week was scary.
I had a horrible cold. I felt miserable. There is no correlation whatsoever with having a cold and losing a baby, but it’s the thought that popped in to my mind. I hated to take any medication because of the effect it could have on our growing baby…even though I have a list of “safe” medications on my fridge. Every cough, every sneeze and every stuffed up breath I took, though I was worried if my cold was having an effect. There were so many times this week that I had to give up my fears to God…only to pick them back up again and start to fret.
This week was scary.
Then came today. The 16 week mark. The day we listen for the heartbeat. We listened after lunch this afternoon. Kerry was still home and we like to hear the heartbeat together. As the baby gets bigger, it should be easier to hear each week. But today I couldn’t find it. I searched and searched. I tried the other doppler (yes I have two). No matter what angle I held the probe, I couldn’t pick up the baby. My heart sank and I tried not to panic. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend searching because the boys had an art lesson. So I had to put the doppler away, put the little ones to bed for nap and carry on with my day. Kerry left for work and our afternoon and evening carried on. He told me to call an make see if I could make an appointment with an OB doc an hour away (the closest we have). I tried not to worry.
This week was scary.
All afternoon and evening, it was there niggling in the back of my mind. “What if” God makes you go through this again. “What if” you’ve lost this baby? “What if…What if…what if?” I was short tempered with the boys. I was grumpy, worried and starting to get angry. I didn’t want to try listening again with the boys around so I was going to try one more time after they went to sleep, but before Kerry got home. When I was alone and could grieve alone a bit.
I laid down with the boys to help them fall asleep like usual. There in the dark, I held my belly, cried and prayed. I was thankful for the blanket of dark and the fan to drown out the sniffles. Part of me was already grieving, part of me was angry and I begged, I questioned and I planned. I started to think about “what if”. I started in my mind to go through the steps, which doctor I would call for the induction, what would happen and how it would all go again.
I was scared.
The boys were restless tonight. I think they sensed something was up, but no one asked. They finally fell asleep and I stole away to the living room. Found my doppler and prayed. I closed my eyes (like that helps anything) and I listened.
The quick woosh, woosh, woosh of a heartbeat too quick to be my own. I checked my pulse to be sure. 70. I was hearing clearly, loudly 150s. I thanked God.
I breathed for the first time all evening.

Isaiah 41:10
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

14 weeks

Today was a big day. Today I turned 14 weeks pregnant. Most people would say “Yay! You’re at the *safe* point, you’re in the second trimester now!”. But that is far from the truth I know.
I have learned in the last year that no point in a pregnancy is *safe*. Sure, risk goes down, but you’re never *safe*. I have experienced 2 early losses (before 6 weeks), but until last December, bought into the myth that the second trimester was the safe part.
But…
Our daughter Lily was born on May 19, we found out she had died on May 18…the day I was 14 weeks pregnant. Our son Knox died when I was 15 weeks in December. With those losses, I felt like my innocence with pregnancy was lost. I knew after they died that no point is “safe”.

Lily at our 13 week sonogram

 

And today I turned 14 weeks with my current pregnancy, I am 6 months from my due date.  We are living in a new community and I don’t have a healthcare provider yet. I haven’t been able to find a midwife who will be willing to travel to where we live for a home birth and I don’t have a doctor who will let me VBAC here yet. God has always provided the right person to care for us when we needed them and we trust He’s going to do it again. So for now, I am doing my own prenatal care and monitoring my weight, blood pressure, heart rate and baby’s heart beat every week.  It’s been going well. I have easily found the heart beat every week for the last month. And I have been peaceful for the most part.
Then today came.

Daddy and Lily's finger just after she was born

14 weeks, it seemed like I was giving my anxiety over to God every moment of the day. I tried hard not to think about what today meant to me and why it was significant. The boys remembered what today was, they prayed specifically for the baby this morning, they asked when we would listen for the heart beat.
I debated for a long time today. I was trying to decided if I wanted to listen alone or with Kerry and the boys here. I thought about sneaking off to my bedroom while the boys were playing and Kerry was gone to a visitation. But that’s how I learned Knox and Lily had died. I was just listening at home and couldn’t find their heartbeats, I was alone both times.
So tonight, just before bed Kerry suggested we try together to hear our little one’s heartbeat. It is always such a highlight for Zeke to hear the baby. He gets so excited to hear “his baby”, but I didn’t want him to not hear it…I was scared. I pulled the doppler from the closet and laid down on the living room floor. I prayed.
I prayed, as I have every day, that God would protect this little one, that we would be able to hold this little one in our arms…alive…and that he/she would be able to be born at home. I have been able to tell my uterus is growing, which means the baby must be growing. And then we listened. Daddy and I held our breath and we listened.
Lily's foot at 14 weeks

We heard my heartbeat and the blood vessels feeding  my uterus and the placenta. The slow woosh, woosh beating in time with my heart. And just below, in the background we hear the light sound of baby. The faint gallop of hoof-beats. Slight relief, but I want louder…I want more…I want to listen until this baby is born…I want it to be the soundtrack of the next 6 months.
We wait and move the doppler…slow woosh, woosh…then galloping. Strong, loud, steady…my baby’s heart is still beating. I am thankful. I close my eyes in prayer. A prayer of gratitude and thankfulness. Thank you God, for the life of my baby. That this life is still here and we can hear the heart beat. Thank you God!
We listen for a few more minutes and are thankful for each beat we hear. Eventually the baby kicks and moves away. Then in a moment…my mind immediately goes to fear again. Knox had a heartbeat at 14 weeks. My baby is alive…for now.
Ugh! Where does that come from? Why do I let it in to steal the joy and blessing of a heart beating within me? I start to quote in my mind the scripture verse we’re memorizing as a family. “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philipians 4:8. Fear is not true, honorable, right, pure or any of the things mentioned in this verse. Fear is the language Satan speaks and uses to control.
There are many times I have to remind myself to be thankful for the blessings I have been given, to be thankful here in the moment for the blessing I have now. To remember, not to get caught up in the fear of what might happen or what has happened in the past. I know that today my baby is alive. I am joyful, hopeful and so very grateful.
Lily's hand

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Defiance of fear

Today I won a small victory against fear. I will be 11 weeks pregnant this week, rapidly approaching the mark in my pregnancy where I lost Knox and Lily. I try not to dwell on it, I try not to let the fear seep it’s way into my daily thoughts. There are fleeting moments where I think…”what if it happens again?” I can usually push it out and keep going.
But…
Every morning I am greeted with three tubs. They hold my maternity clothes. And I struggle.

The week before Knox was born, I had just unpacked all of my maternity clothes and hung them in my closet. I had finally told work I was expecting because my regular clothes were looking suspiciously tight and not in the “she ate too many chili fries” kind of way. Co-workers who knew me well had already guessed. So before we came back for our Thanksgiving visit, I unpacked, hung up and folded maternity clothes.
Then Knox died.
The night before I went to the hospital I stood in front of my closet and pulled all of those clothes out. I put them back in their tubs…I wouldn’t be needing them after all and I knew I wouldn’t want to pack them when I came home. I cried and I mourned and I was angry. I could hardly see through the tears I was crying as I folded my favorite black sweater I wore with Zeke.
So when I got pregnant with Lily, I decided not to get maternity clothes out until I had passed 15 weeks. I didn’t want to have to pack them away. But I had to pull a few things out because regular clothes were just too uncomfortable. I kept them in their tubs though. Nothing maternity went in my closet. And then she died too.
So now, here I am. Almost 11 weeks pregnant, starting to struggle to button my jeans and not look “frumpy” in anything else. There is a little bulge where this baby is growing and while most of the time it just looks like I ate too many donuts, I could use some clothes that are a little more forgiving. In addition to that, we moved 2 weeks ago and I really hate unpacking clothes. I’m sitting there thinking “if this baby makes it, I’m going to be putting these all away in a month anyway” (I hate thinking that “if” but it is a reality I know now).
But I haven’t been quite daring enough to take the lids off the bins that hold those clothes that signify the “thick around the middle” isn’t fat…it’s baby. I pass those bins sitting at the foot of my bed every morning when I wake up. They remind me of my fear, of my hurt and of the hope that just might be this time. Every day they have psyched me out and dared me to open them. And until this morning I have left the right where the guys who unloaded them put them.
Until today.
In a moment of defiance, of sheer “screw you fear”, I decided to unpack them. “It’s going to be a time waster to unpack my “regular” clothes now and put them away in a month”, I told myself. “They’re just clothes” I reminded myself as I pulled shirt after shirt, paneled pant after paneled pant out of the bin and put them in my closet. “This isn’t going to determine the outcome. God does.” Every so often I would pause and wonder if I’m doing the right thing…if I should wait until…
But I know that God has numbered this baby’s days before he or she was ever created. God knows. He has a plan. Psalm 139:13-16 says…

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

So I unpacked. And I prayed. I prayed for the health and safety of this baby. I prayed that I would find someone who would care for me, who would support me in my quest for another home birth or at the very least another VBAC.

They hang together in my closet, clumped to one end…but they are there. The empty tubs sit now in the storage room in our basement. If I have to put them away too soon, so be it, but today I defied the fear and the reminder of “what if” that has greeted me every morning.

Why I'm not losing weight…

And why I’m okay with it.
It’s okay to be a little shocked. We were too. The week after I started my weigh in Wednesday posts, we found out we were pregnant. Looking at this pregnancy from the world’s perspective, this is really terrible timing. We got pregnant right before we moved, right before Kerry started a new job and right before my insurance ran out. But…we trust God for His timing of our children. He can see the future and we can’t, so we know that because it is His timing, it is perfect for our family.
And we are thankful, so very thankful.
I am 9 1/2 weeks this week and I am exhausted. We have been in our new home for a week and a half. We have been busy unpacking and getting settled. The work seems unending and all I want to do is sleep.
As I mentioned before, we got pregnant right before my insurance with my old job ran out (tomorrow to be exact). And since I will be a stay at home mom, we have to buy insurance privately. Kansas though, considers pregnancy a pre-existing condition so no private insurance will cover me. Which leaves two choices…buy COBRA from my old job which is way expensive or go without insurance. We are praying for guidance in this area. If I hadn’t just experienced two losses in the second trimester, I would be less nervous about going without insurance.
I am still looking for a provider. I could drive 4 hours back to Pueblo and see my providers there…but that’s a four hour drive. I don’t really want to just go and stay there for the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy waiting for labor to happen and a 4 hour drive in labor doesn’t sound appealing either. Not to mention my labor with Titus wasn’t exactly a long one. There are no midwives here in Western Kansas and the ones closest (3-4 hours away) won’t drive here. I haven’t had much luck finding a doctor who will “let” me VBAC either, so I’m still searching. I guess it’s okay I don’t have insurance yet because I don’t have anyone who will see me. We’re praying we can find the right person to care for me. God has answered this prayer in the past and we trust He will again.
We are so very thankful to be pregnant again. We are praying that this baby will be born healthy and the pregnancy will be uncomplicated. We know that God has created this little one and He is in control. We pray daily for His provision, His guidance and His protection for our children.
Thank you for praying for us.

Two years ago

Two years ago I had one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life. It was the day we welcomed Titus into our family. So much has happened in the last two years to our family, and yet I am thankful because those experiences help me appreciate the blessing of my children even more. Two years ago our little guy looked like this…


And today…
He is such a busy boy and a huge blessing to our family. He is very opinionated and not shy about telling us exactly what he thinks. At the same time, he is so tender hearted and works hard to do everything his big brothers do.
Below is the story of his birth I posted a few days after he was born. I am so thankful for the gift that he is.

BIRTH STORY
We have been so blessed with the addition of Titus this past week! I’ve had several people send me messages asking if his homebirth was “on purpose” so I thought I’d write an abbreviated version of our birth story. In short…yes his homebirth was on purpose and it was awesome!
His birth story begins kind of with Gabe’s almost 8 years ago. I had a c-section with him after a failed induction at 37 weeks. With Otto I had a repeat c-section and when it was time for me to have Zeke, my doctor who had initially been VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean) friendly changed his mind and threatened to drop me from his practice. I felt very backed into a corner and consented to my 3rd c-section.
When I became pregnant with Titus, I wanted a different outcome and began researching my options and the current research regarding having a 4th c-section to having a VBAMC (VBAmultipleC). The research is limited, but what there is shows that even VBAMC are relatively safe and the risk of uterine rupture (which is the big fear with VBAC) is still less than 1-2%. The current culture in the hospital is not VBAC friendly even after 1 c/s and is definitely not friendly after 2 or more.  So I began researching a homebirth with a midwife, discussing options and research with Kerry and covering each decision with lots of prayer. I would encourage any woman to do her research and pray before making her birth choices. There is a lot out there.
We found a midwife willing to take me as a client, who was also a believer, and began our journey. My pregnancy, like all of them, was uneventful and pretty normal. As part of my care, I saw a chiropractor once a month to help align my pelvis and spine and help position baby correctly. One of the reasons I had a c/s with Gabe was because he was malpositioned, so I wanted to avoid that if at all possible.
We prayed regularly as a family for God to honor our desire to have more children (something that would be really frowned upon after having 4-5 c/s) and our desire for a homebirth. Every time fear would creep in, we’d pray and turn it over to God. He has answered so many prayers along the way!
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to get nervous that my body wouldn’t know what to do. It had never been asked to actually “get a baby out”. I was wondering if it would know how to go into labor, how to birth a baby, and would I be strong enough to do it?
The day after my due date I started having a few contractions, but they weren’t terribly uncomfortable or regular, although they felt different from the contractions I’d been having for weeks. We spent the day running errands, I made a quick visit to the chiropractor (just in case this was really it) and napped in the afternoon. My contractions kept coming, but were still irregular and relatively comfortable. I called our midwife a couple of times during the day to update her, but felt like it was going to be a long evening/night if this was the real thing.
That evening about 7pm or so we took a mile(ish) walk around our neighborhood. My contractions were still irregular, but I had to stop a couple of times to let them pass. I was still able to talk through them. Being a L&D nurse, I really wasn’t sure this was going to be it or that it would be any time soon, because nothing was textbook. 🙂
I decided to rest and just hang out that evening and talked to our doula and photographer about 10pm. I talked to her through a contraction and told her I wasn’t sure I’d need her yet, but she could come this way just so she’d be here when I did. Mom and I set up the air mattress in our spare room because I was sure they (the doula) would be sleeping here. I also called the midwife and told her I was still doing fine and I’d have Kerry call when we needed her, but not to worry I thought it was going to be a while still.
I laid down on the couch to get some rest, and had one really big contraction that was quite uncomfortable. But the next couple were manageable again. My water broke about 10:30 and that’s when things got “fun”. Kerry called the midwife to let her know and she said she’d head down. Kerry and I came upstairs to fill the pool (we had set up a little pool in our bedroom for me to labor in) and my contractions started coming much much faster and stronger. Mom and the big boys (Zeke was asleep) were downstairs watching a movie and had no idea things had really picked up.
I spent about 30 minutes in the pool and then walked to the bathroom. Once I was there my contractions were so intense and my mind was racing. Kerry says I was really pretty calm, but in my mind I was going nuts. At one point I told Kerry “I’m hysterical….I can’t be hysterical”. He was so good at keeping me calm and focused. He wasn’t (at least he didn’t act like it) scared or panicked at all. About 10:15 I felt my body pushing and I couldn’t stop. In my head I was sure I wasn’t ready to push and was worried I was going to do something that would make my labor go longer.
At that point, Kerry took the cell phone to mom and asked her to call our midwife to let her know I felt like pushing and to hurry. 🙂 The midwife told me to go ahead and push if I needed to and that she was about 15 minutes away. Mom and Kerry stayed in the bathroom with me and the boys kept watching their movie. Kerry suggested I move to the pool again, because he thought I would be more comfortable and it would be easier to birth there. I made it about two steps before I said “I can’t” and kneeled on the floor.
The next thing I really remember was telling mom and Kerry “there is his head” and to “check for a nuchal cord” (a cord around the neck). He had a loose one that we could easily slip over and the rest of him was born. I was able to put him right on my chest and we covered him with towels  and dried him off, he was pink right away. I think I kept saying “I did it! I did it!” Kerry was so excited, but still very calm and had the presence of mind to grab the camera and take a few pictures.
He asked the big boys if they wanted to come see their brother and they both ran upstairs. Gabe (***note we later found out that Gabe handed the camera off to Otto) took the camera and took pictures, and he did such a good job! About 10 minutes after he was born our midwife came in. The apprentice midwife came about 10 minutes after that. Titus James was born at 11:32pm on 8/26/10. He was direct OP (which means facing up instead of down, the same position Gabe was in), but I truly think prayer, positioning and the care I received made all the difference. He weighed 7lbs 11oz (my second biggest baby) and was 19 3/4 inches long. The rest of the story is pretty “routine” for postpartum, but it just all happened at home which was awesome!
I didn’t really think I would go that quickly in labor, especially since I hadn’t done it before. I was completely surprised by the whole experience, but it was exactly what we needed.
I fully believe in birth choices. I think women should be able to choose when, where and how to give birth. By in large, those choices are being taken away for many reasons. If a woman wants to birth in a hospital, home or birthing center…let her. If she wants to VBAC or schedule a repeat c/s…let her. I often heard after my c/s that what really mattered was a “healthy mom and healthy baby” which is true…but that health also includes mental health. For some women it is mentally and physically the best choice to have another c/s, for others it is the option to have a VBAC.
For me, this time and every time from now on (Lord willing), homebirth will be my choice. I pass no judgement on whomever chooses something different for their birth. It is important that the risks vs benefits are considered for each option and in each case. And for each woman make the decision that is right for her, her family and her baby.
Each birth and each child is special and a blessing however they come. This birth for me though, has been incredibly healing, empowering and faith building. God is good and we are so thankful for His blessings and His faithfulness. I want to add too, how incredibly important it was for me to know that others were praying for me. My midwife, my doula, our families and friends. I believe God honored those prayers and they brought me so much peace and confidence throughout this whole process. He has blessed us many times over!
Praising Him,
Erin

What the heck is wrong with me anyway?

So after losing 2 babies in the second trimester in 6 months, my doctor and I decided maybe we should run some blood tests “just in case” there is something up with me that we don’t know about. We got a few answers this past week and there are still more tests that have to be done and referrals and unknowns to deal with. My fantastic doctor, I really mean that and I’m a hard girl to please, called me Tuesday night at 8:30pm to discuss my labs with me because he was going out of town. I can’t say enough about how happy I am with my doc (and this coming from a L&D nurse who had a homebirth…I really am tough to please).
Here is what we know, what we don’t and where we go from here…

I have 2 genetic mutations that affect my ability to clot blood. One is called Factor 2 mutation. We each get 2 copies, one from our mom and one from our dad. I have one normal copy and one abnormal copy, which means I am called heterozygous. In a nutshell it increases my risk of developing blood clots, especially during pregnancy. Here’s a link that goes over it pretty simply…http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/110/3/e15.full
Factor 2 makes fibrin to make clots along with platelets. My factor 2 works kind of in overdrive.
There are some other tests that need to be done to determine how we’re going to treat this for future pregnancies. There are some liver proteins (called Protein S and Protein C) that need to be evaluated at the end of June (when the pregnancy hormones are out of my body). The most likely treatment for this issue will involve blood thinners during pregnancy to decrease the likelihood of clot formation in the placenta and umbilical cord.
The other genetic mutation is called MTHFR. We all have 2 genes that code for this and we get two copies of each gene, one from our mom and one from our dad. I have an abnormal copy and a normal copy of each set of genes, which makes me compound heterozygous for this condition. We have another blood test to determine if I have another complication associated with this condition and complicates the long term outcome for me. We will be looking specifically at my homocysteine levels. The higher the level, the higher my risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and neural tube defects in babies (none of my kids have had these). It is treatable with extra folic acid and another medication.
So basically it’s this…I have 2 heterozygous genetic issues that both can cause complications during pregnancy but can be treated if we know how severe they are. It also means that I could be prescribed a baby aspirin every day for the rest of my life and then get injections of blood thinners while I’m pregnant. I would also require closer monitoring during pregnancy. There are some hurdles to cross if we get to full term at the time of birth. Some physicians insist on an induction at 39 weeks (this can’t happen for me because I have had 3 c-sections), but a surgical birth isn’t the ideal option either.
There are more labs that need to be done to have a full picture of what we might be dealing with and how it will affect future pregnancy management. I have to wait until my body knows it isn’t pregnant before we can draw those labs. I am going to have those labs drawn at the end of June and then I will be referred back to maternal fetal medicine and also to a reproductive endocrinologist for evaluation.
It isn’t uncommon to have uncomplicated pregnancies and then be diagnosed with these issues afterwards when other complications arise. It does mean that I need to 1. lose weight (being over weight increases my risk of blood clots). 2. Not take hormones (birth control pills, hormone replacement) ever. 3. Decrease any cardiovascular risk I have (eat right, exercise etc).
The doctor also mentioned that I need to have my platelets (the other pieces in my blood that clot with the factor 2) checked to determine if I have an autoimmune disease called ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura). My platelets were normal in early pregnancy but abnormal when I was admitted to the hospital. It is possible that the ITP is only active during pregnancy OR that my platelets were used up making clots as part of the factor 2 issue prior to the losses (which is the most likely scenario).
So that’s what we know and what we don’t. The blessing is that it can be treated, although it complicates things a bit. The additional lab tests in a few weeks will give us more information and I’m praying that God will give my doctors wisdom and willingness to help me have as “normal” of a pregnancy and birth (Lord willing) as possible in the future. I had such and awesome homebirth the thought of not being able to do it again, makes me a little sad. I’m hoping that there will be some way to help it happen again.

May 18, 2012

Today is a significant day. Today was the day Knox was due. Today is also the day we found out our daughter Lillian Faith has died.
We have been praying for her from before her conception. We prayed fervently for her life, her growth and her soul. This week we were told she had a chromosomal defect called Turner Syndrome, meaning she was missing a sex chromosome. 99% of the babies with Turner syndrome die before they reach term. We were praying our daughter was in the 1% who survive.
We were hopeful because she wasn’t showing signs of distress, such as fluid build up around her organs or in her brain  and she didn’t seem to have heart dysrhythmias. We heard her heartbeat for the last time on Tuesday morning when Kerry and I listened together before he went to work.
I have “had a feeling” the last 2 days that something was amiss, but I dismissed it as paranoia and anxiety because I was approaching the same time in my pregnancy when I lost Knox. My very understanding doctor said I could come in any time to have heart tones checked and check on baby. I went in this morning while Kerry took the boys to the park.
We searched for the heart beat with the doppler initially and when we didn’t find it, we did a sonogram. There was our perfect baby, her only movement was with my pulse and no heart beat. My heart is broken. I feel so numb, so wronged and so empty.
We have elected to have an induction tomorrow morning. I could have surgery instead, but I want the opportunity to hold my daughter. I want the option to look on her face and not just an outline from a sonogram. My heart needs that. We ask for prayers for a quick, safe and uncomplicated birth. My birth with Knox was fraught with complications after he was born and I would like to avoid that again. I am also praying for compassionate nurses.
We don’t know medically why Knox died. We didn’t have chromosome studies (as we already had 4 healthy boys) and there was nothing obviously wrong after he was born. We know medically why Lillian has died, but it doesn’t make it easier. We don’t know why God has taken either of them, why we are walking through such sorrow. We don’t know any of it. But we have to trust that He has a purpose. I may not know it for years, I may never know why. But I believe God has a purpose. I believe that He knew the outcome of this pregnancy from the moment He created it, when He was knitting our daughter together in my womb.
My grief is deep, my pain is intense. I get angry at the injustice of it all. I am jealous of the mothers who will get to hold their babies today, while I will sit with empty arms for a second time in 6 months. It seems unfair, it seems cruel, it seems so very wrong. But we believe that God is faithful, we believe that He loves us and the children He has created. We believe that He will carry us through and give us strength.
I am reminded after Job suffered terrible losses of family and property. Job 1 20-22
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,

“ Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.