Ryan was here ...

My not-so-sweet nothings, mostly comprised of my feelings at losing my two-day-old son, Ryan David, to congenital heart defects, and to celebrate the arrival of Ryan's healthy little sister, Megan Elizabeth, and hopefully welcome another little miracle into our brood in July 2010.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Scare #1

Today I experienced my first true scare with this pregnancy. I pretty much knew it was inevitable, but I was still hoping to avoid any sort of scare nonetheless. I already have enough to worry about without history wanting to repeat itself in its worst way.

I had been very happy, albeit still nervous, because this pregnancy had been the longest I've ever been pregnant without experiencing any spotting. Emphasis on had, as today my heart skipped a beat when I saw the tiny tinge of color on the toilet paper. There's practically nothing that can suck the wind out of the sails of an anxious, paranoid pregnant woman with previous losses faster than seeing that can.

I called my OB's office and my OB was nice enough to return my call himself. He tried his best to reassure me, pointing out that all my bloodwork thus far has been good and my ultrasound last week was great. And, he further explained that I have a subchorionic hemorrhage (seen at my first ultrasound), so seeing a bit of blood can be completely normal.

Normal for him, maybe; but, terrifying for me.

Other than with Ryan, all of my pregnancies ended with the onset of spotting. And, I don't buy into the reassurance of the color I'm seeing on the toilet paper, as I've seen the "safe" color in the past, only to miscarry anyway.

I just seem to have a knack for being on the side of the bad odds, which is why this recent episode has me scared shitless. I keep poking my boobs, just to make sure they really are still tender. And, I've probably used more toilet paper for "patrolling" than I'd use in a regular day.

But, all I can do is sit and wait for my next appointment on November 20, when I should be just shy of 12 weeks along. That's three long weeks away.

The deep breathing commences. That's all I can do.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All's well

We have a heartbeat - and the little bean is measuring right on target!

I was very nervous at first, because our ultrasound tech was the same one who somehow overlooked all of Ryan's heart defects during our Level II ultrasound. And, when she was intially so quiet, I just assumed the worst and that we would once again receive bad news.

Then, she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, there's the heartbeat!"

And, the waterworks began.

But, they were all happy, happy tears. Mike had to dab his eyes, too.

I never knew tension weighed so much till it lifted off of me yesterday.

P.S. I tried updating a couple of times, but Blogger wasn't working with me. Nice timing!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Keep breathing

This afternoon at 2:30, we're having our follow-up ultrasound to hopefully get a peek at the resident in my belly ... and to hopefully see a deal-breaking heartbeat.

I'm 7 weeks 5 days as of today. If we saw a gestational sac and a yolk sac at just shy of 6 weeks, surely there should be lots going on in there today, right?

But, I know from my own unfortunate experiences and from those of others that we may not get the good news we've been hoping and begging and praying and waiting for. And, I'm prepared for that. I just hope that all my preparation for disappointment will be for naught, and there will be a beautiful little flicker on that ultrasound screen.

Now I just have to remind myself to keep breathing.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Never forgotten

Today's the "official" day to recognize all the babies who are no longer with us. I know we mommies in mourning don't need an official day to remember our little ones, but it's a bit comforting that others outside of our "club" will take a moment to remember and acknowledge all the little souls who can't be with us.

My candles will be burning brightly at 7 p.m. local time; please, do the same.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

So ...

If someone goes to a butterfly release to honor their angel baby and they're given a dead butterfly to release, that's not a good sign, is it?

I didn't think so, either.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No vacancy

I guess it's time to take the sign out of the window, because it seems that a new tenant is ready to take over Ryan's old home.

My first prenatal appointment was today, and I can't even begin to explain how relieved I am that it's behind me. The build-up to today has been agonizing and I haven't been sleeping well, thanks to overactive pregnancy hormones that are wreaking havoc on my once-peaceful slumber. It's a difficult thing when your safe haven (bedtime) suddenly becomes a battlefield, and all your fears and worries manifest themselves into terrifying nightmares.

But, apparently, vivid dreams are quite usual in pregnancy. Mine just aren't the normal kind of feel-good dreams with fluffy white clouds and beautiful rainbows. But, my life isn't like that, either, so I guess I can't expect my dreams to reflect that - at least not yet.

By today's ultrasound measurements, I'm six weeks along. There wasn't a definitive resident in that gestational sac, but there was definitely a yolk sac and lots of reason for us to trust and believe that our little resident will be moved in and settled within the next two weeks, when I have my follow-up ultrasound.

I'm very grateful that I have such a caring OB now, because I felt so abandoned by my last one after Ryan died. I was always met with pitying looks from the front desk staff the moment I entered the door. Everyone there knew what had happened, and I always hated the feeling of dragging my black cloud of doom with me into their happy baby practice. I was a sad reminder of what can happen, and I threw off their statistics. But my new OB, as well as all the staff, has been so hopeful in helping us grow our family. Sometimes I think Dr. B. had more faith in our success than I had in ourselves.

Today was difficult, too, because I couldn't stop thinking about Ryan. I looked at the picture of his sweet face that sits next to the bed, and I couldn't help but think about all the wonderful and exciting appointments he and I shared. And, I hate that he can't be there to share in them this time, too, as his little brother or sister makes their way into our life. I know he's there in spirit, but I'm missing the physical part of him that I can't have.

The next two weeks are going to go by terribly slow and I know there will be no guarantees at my next appointment, but I'm feeling positive enough that I'm ready to accept and believe that I can finally take down my "vacancy" sign and trust that this tenant is here to stay.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Is it a small world after all?

After Ryan was born, he was transferred to the "big" hospital, and I joined him the next morning. Since my OB didn't have privileges at the other hospital, my care was transferred to one of the attending doctors - someone I had never met before.

My new doctor and I kept missing one another throughout my hospital stay, as I spent the majority of my time in the NICU with Ryan, and my new doctor, Dr. S., was busy delivering babies. Our first exchanges were through handwritten notes that were left in my room, but Mike and I finally met Dr. S. just after dinner on the evening of August 11, a few hours before we lost Ryan.

I'm not sure how I expected Dr. S to look, but my idea wasn't anything close to the real deal. When he first entered my hospital room, I wondered to myself, "who is this geeky-looking doctor coming into my room?"

Dr. S.'s eyeglasses sat so low on his nose that I feared they'd slip right off his face and fall onto the floor. His stark-white doctor's coat was at least a size too small, and the wrong size was accentuated by the sole button pulling the coat together in the middle of his chest. His hair looked a bit disheveled. And, when he entered my room, it was as if a giant gust of air blew in, as his demeanor and personality were on the high-strung side.

He sat with Mike and me for a few minutes, asking how I was feeling and how Ryan was doing. The conversation lasted all of five minutes, before his pager beeped wildly, letting him know that another little life was ready to enter the world.

After Dr. S. rushed out of the room, Mike and I looked at each other with matching bewildered looks and commented, "That was strange."

And, it was strange. I'm not sure how else to explain that first encounter with Dr. S., because he was so different than all the other doctors and nurses I had met, that "strange" seemed to be the most fitting way to describe him. And, it wasn't a bad kind of strange - just a different kind of strange.

The morning after Ryan passed away, there was a flurry of visitors, some I don't even remember, regrettably. I mostly remember hearing lots of, "I'm sorry for your loss" and condolences of that nature, but not much else. My mind was too wrapped up in trying to accept the horror that had unfolded just the night before to be too concerned with remembering people's names or faces.

About mid-morning Dr. S. came by to check on me and to see how we were handling what had happened to Ryan. He pulled up a chair and said he had a few things to share with us that were important enough that he didn't want to beat around the bush, but he didn't want us thinking he was being insensitive - he only wanted to give us honest advice, both clinical and personal.

Dr. S. also lost a son. Again, my memories are somewhat sketchy on that last morning at the hospital, but I believe his son was killed in a car accident. So, he understood some of what Mike and I were feeling and wanted to offer his personal experience from what had happened when his own son died.

First, he told us that we could not allow what happened to Ryan to interfere with our marriage. He said the last thing Ryan would want would be for us to divorce because of losing him. He continued to explain that he had witnessed other couples experience what we had, and many parents began the blame game, blaming their spouse for what had happened. Both Mike and I assured him that that wouldn't and couldn't happen. And, we both sincerely meant that, as we knew that neither of us was to blame for what had happened.

Second, Dr. S. said that we shouldn't allow what happened to interfere with our dreams of expanding our family, because Ryan would want us to go on and give him brothers or sisters and be happy. Our lives shouldn't end because Ryan's did.

Lastly, he suggested that I begin taking 4mg daily of folic acid (the recommended dosage is a mere 400mcg), since there are many medical papers supporting evidence on the advantage of extra folic acid to help prevent heart defects.

Then Dr. S. asked if it would be alright to say a short prayer, and all three of us prayed together before once again being interrupted by his pager.

He wished us luck as he hurried out of my room, and once again, Mike and I were left wondering what had just happened, because Dr. S.'s visit left us both with a very powerful feeling. We both sat there, speechless, absorbing all of the honesty that Dr. S. had shared with us - honesty that came not just from him being a doctor, but also from being a person who's lived through a horrible experience, too.

Mike and I have reminisced several times about that moment with Dr. S., now more than two years ago, and we've both carried his wise words close to our hearts. During our painful journey with grief, Mike and I have never once blamed each other for what happened, and we both understand that it was a horrible, horrible fluke of nature that cannot be explained. And, even though at times we're fearful of having another baby with heart defects, it has always seemed that giving Ryan at least one sibling was the right path for us to follow. That decision may not seem logical to some, but for us, if our hearts are leading us in this direction, then it must be the right choice even if we can't understand why.

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from my OB's office with information for my ultrascreen appointment, which is performed between 11 weeks and 13.5 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure is similar to a level II ultrasound, which is generally performed around 20 weeks of pregnancy, but my OB (and the genetics counselor) both felt that the screening earlier in pregnancy would help to ease our fears a bit, since they know we need all the reassurances we can get.

The gal on the other end of the phone gave me the pertinent details (date, time, location), and then said, "Oh, and Dr. S. will be performing the ultrascreen."

I was very surprised to hear this, as I thought that Dr. S. worked solely out of the big hospital and figured he didn't handle appointments of this nature. So, I told the girl on the phone that I was very pleased to hear that Dr. S. would be our doctor that day, because we already had an established relationship with him and felt confident in his knowledge and understood our history.

When I told Mike that Dr. S. would be our doctor for the ultrascreen appointment, his face lit up and a huge smile spread across his face as he uttered an excited, "Really?"

So, is this newest development a coincidence, or is it really a small world after all? Either way, I couldn't be happier.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Still here ... and waiting

So far, so good with this little bean o' mine.

I had my first blood draws last Friday and this past Monday and all looks well, thank goodness. And, as of today, I'm all of five weeks pregnant.

But, all this waiting is killing me. I can be a very patient person, but when it comes to something this important and yet so fragile, I don't want to wait for answers. I want them now.

I have to wait till Tuesday to get a sneak peek at our little one, but I'm happy I get a look so soon, considering so many other women in my position end up waiting much longer.

Once that appointment is under my belt, I'll have a better idea of where to go from here.

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