Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lessons in Faith

I've been a christian for years. A believer in a God who is loving, caring, stronger than we can ever be, and who has a complete plan for our lives laid out from the beginning.

I learned a lot over the past few months. But the biggest is that when we put all of us into Him, anything is possible.

The word all is what I want to stress. Not just us on Sunday. Not just us when we need something and we come to Him in prayer. Not just us when we're praising Him for something good in our life. But all of us.... all the time.

As I have previously mentioned, we have been trying for baby #2 for over a year. That year was full of prayers each month that we would get pregnant. Usually, most of those coming right after I realized that month wasn't a successful one. When we moved to Alabama in May before starting residency, we made it a mission to find a church that we would feel at home in... something we were never able to find in other cities we lived in. Luckily, we found just that place at the second church we visited, and we quickly joined the church and began going to a small group. This church gave me a drive like I have never had before to study God's word and grow in my relationship with Him. Quiet time each day, studying His word, and truly wanting to know Him in a way I haven't was now the highlight of my day. I looked forward to nap time for a different reason now... not just getting a little break, but for the opportunity to have my quiet time with God. I began praying not for us to be able to get pregnant again, but for Him to reveal His plan for the continual growth of our family, whether that be another biological child or for our "future" plans to adopt (something I've always known I would do) to be the next step for us.  I finally realized that He knew how our family was going to look, and I needed to quit trying to be in control of that and hand it over to Him completely. And I prayed this every.day.

God's hand in our life has also been revealed to me in another way. Four to five years ago He brought a new face into my life. We became friends, but because of busy lives, never had time to grow that friendship into anything really close. But over that time, we kept being pulled back together through seemingly the most random occasions. Moving to same cities, being placed together for school requirements, having kiddos a few months apart. Through all of these events we never lost connection with one another. A few months ago this sweet friend recommended the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility to me. She graciously sent me her copy, I read it in about 2 days, and instantly took the things it taught and started to apply them in our trying to conceive journey.  Two months later, I found out I was pregnant. And I know it's because of the things I learned in that book.
This same sweet friend helped me through the day to day struggle as I learned I was miscarrying and as I was recovering through my ruptured ectopic pregnancy. She sent encouragement and prayers my way and I was very thankful for that.
Almost exactly one month after I miscarried, this same friend found out she was going through something very similar. Now we were able to be there to cry with each other, ask questions to each other, and encourage each other. 
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God knew what he was doing 5 years ago when He placed her in my life and He made sure that throughout our busy lives we didn't lose connection with one another. Because at this chapter in our life we would need each other to make it through.

I think the biggest revealing of God's faithfulness came through the sense of peace I was given throughout the miscarriage. I have mentioned in previous post the gut feeling that something wasn't right starting the first day I knew I was pregnant. Because of this gut feeling, I instantly prayed daily for peace in whatever was to come. I didn't want to pray that the baby would be okay, because I knew that God already knew what was going to happen and there was nothing I could do to truly change that.i had given my body and my family over to Him. He was faithful enough to give me the baby, so I needed to keep up my end of the deal and continue to give my everything over to Him. I just wanted a feeling of peace within my heart at whatever the outcome was.   As I was faced with the news that I was miscarrying only days later, that sense of peace was never felt stronger. I knew He wasn't taking from me, He was only saying "not yet". I didn't break down in the hospital. I truly felt at peace with what had happened. He had revealed to me that I can in fact get pregnant, and I had to trust in Him to carry me through the next chapter. Now don't get me wrong... I've had my days of sorrow and crying.... but even in those moments I still had that peace.

Now I'm able to see God's faithfulness and hand in my life through all the things the last several months has brought upon me. He lead us to Alabama. He lead us to our church home. He put that special friend in my life and kept them there. He gave me the peace I prayed for. And in all the seemingly small things, such as Daniel being on nights when all this happened letting him be at home when I would need him the most, the original doctor I planned on seeing wasn't taking new patients therefore me taking an appointment with my wonderful doctor now, computers freezing when my mom was trying to book a ticket back home letting her be there for when my ectopic ruptured. All of these things just reaffirm the hand of God in every. single. thing. we do.

As I made a special candle holder to light on October 15th, I painted the word "Faith" on it. Because if there's one thing I have learned from my Angel Baby and God..... it's faith. True, 100% faith.

I'm a big music person and I often turn to music to say the words I can't or to help me heal. This song here....I listen to this song at least every other day. It's just so so perfect.
I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

Though tonight I'm crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You're still all that I need
You're enough for me
You're enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

 And I shared this video before, but these words have especially stood out to me more now than ever.

"What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today is 4 weeks since my D&C, and Saturday will be 4 weeks since my ectopic pregnancy ruptured.

Those four weeks have been full of resting and recovering, mentally and physically. For probably the first two weeks afterwards, all of my energy was focused on healing physically. I had been through the ringer to say the least.... and every bit of energy I had mentally and physically was put towards physically healing. The past two weeks emotional healing has taken the drivers seat and continues to take me on quite the adventure.

I think the best way to break down my last four weeks in a way that will help someone else who has gone through this journey or will go through this journey is to break down my recovery, week by week.

Week 1:  I went in for the rupture on Saturday morning, and stayed at the hospital until Monday afternoon. The evening after surgery they had me stand up for the first time. That lasted about 2 minutes and I physically couldn't handle it anymore. So we waited another day and we tried again. This time I walked a few feet down the hall, and made it back to bed. The walking itself wasn't that awful... it was the getting up and down out of bed that was miserable. During my hospital stay they were coming in my room every 2 hours and checking my vitals so rest was minimal. In my 3 day hospital stay, we had several of Daniel's coworkers come by and check in on us. Through everything we've been through over the last month we have been completely reassured that this residency program is the perfect one for us. They've been so so wonderful and we couldn't be more thankful.
After coming home I was taking ibuprofen and prescription strength pain meds regularly, my moving was from the bed to the couch and back again,  and I had to sleep with literally 5 pillows around me to be comfortable. Week one the majority of my pain was from the incision spot itself. I was also very tired and got light headed really easy and fast, sometimes even when just sitting on the couch. Unfortunately my appetite remained at basically nothing (other than a few bites of my mom's meatloaf and a few sips of soup).

Week 2: This week was better.... but not anywhere near normal yet. Getting up and down was still the biggest pain, and though I could go further now, I continued to walk like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. This week I started having some cramping as well. It wasn't all day long, but would randomly come here and there and would almost feel like a contraction that lasted a few seconds and then went away. By the end of this week I had cut back to only taking my strong pain meds at bed time and ibuprofen throughout the day. I was still dealing with exhaustion, light headedness, and loss of appetite but it was slightly better than the last week. I also had my first follow up visit this week. He said my incision looked great and I seemed to be getting around really well. I had more blood work done to see where my beta was at... 150.... so it was dropping great from the 11,000 it was at when I ruptured. When it finally falls below 5 my body should get back to normal hormone and cycle wise. He let me know that after 2 regular cycles we can begin trying to conceive again if we're ready. My risk of another ectopic does now go up an additional 15% so I'll start seeing the doctor day one next time we conceive (no waiting until 6-8 weeks like the normal person would do). And speaking of conceiving, he let me know that my chances of conceiving now drop by 30% because of only having one tube, but that he sees "lots of little Sooners running around" in our future. If we haven't conceived again in 6 months, then we'll continue on with seeing a fertility specialist.

Week 3: I could finally drive and go up and down stairs now so I feel like a new woman :)  Week three was a big turning point for me. I am no longer taking any sort of pain medication! Cramping was a lot less than the week before and now my biggest pain was not being able to be comfortable in once position very long. Because of feeling better physically (and because of my whacked out hormones trying to return to normal) I was a little more emotional this week. I had days where I was completely okay, and days where I was pretty down. I was sad that I lost a baby after trying for over a year, frustrated that all of this craziness happened to me, and worried about having lost one tube and it affecting my chances of having any future children. Pretty much you name the emotion, I had it.

Week 4: We're in week four now. Physically I'm doing great. Moving around like normal (still have restrictions on what all I can do for another 2 weeks but for the most part things are back to normal), haven't been having any cramping, and my energy level is back up. My appetite has finally returned (after losing 10lbs) and I'm only getting light headed when I get up and down. Right now my biggest pain is that I'm still pretty swollen around my incision site...making it tender and a pain to wear anything other than gym shorts (which normally I would not complain about, but right now I just want my body to feel normal again). I also have stitches poking out at each end of my incision site which are really annoying. Emotionally, I'm doing a little better than last week. I still have days where I'm down but it's much less than last week. I went to church this week for the first time in a month and that definitely lifted my spirits.I go back to see my doctor on Monday so hopefully it's all good news then as well.

Today is October 15,  Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.... and the first time I'm really taking part. I had heard of the date before because of a few people in my life that have lost babies,  but today is the first time that I'm truly a part of it. I have a candle lit in honor of our angel baby and all those who have ever been affected by pregnancy or infant loss. I've been so touched by the number of people who have sent me a message or who have let me know that they have a candle lit in honor of our angel. If you have a moment today.... please light a candle and say a quick prayer for all of those who are touched by today.

I'll be posting in the next few days about a few things I've learned over the past month....so stay tuned for that.

Friday, October 4, 2013

And the Saga Continues Part 3

If you're just now making your way to the blog make sure you catch up on our full journey when you get the chance.... it's only a total of 5 post  (including this one). Our story has just began.
Also, there are going to be lots of details in here... so I apologize if you don't want to read all the nitty gritty.... but for my sake and the sake of others who may go through something similar in the future, I'm writing them. 

The next day after my first shot (Friday) I felt pretty normal. A little achyness and a little bit of cramping but nothing bad at all. In fact my doctor called me Friday afternoon to see how I was doing and I had nothing but good things to say. Friday evening came and Daniel headed off to work (remember he was on his month of night shifts). I had a sweet friend text me to see how I was doing and I began talking to her about how I was really struggling with anxiety, to the point that I was really scared taking a shower and sleeping alone because I was afraid something like a rupture was going to happen. I kept getting slammed with bad news after bad news, so I think that started taking a real tole on me... subsequently making me expect the worst. She reassured me, just like Daniel did when I addressed it with him, that it was going to be okay. 

Saturday morning (September 21st) I woke up a little after 8:00am and headed out to spend some time with my mom and Dax. I felt just like I had been.... a little achy, no appetite... but no change from the day before. Daniel got home from work around 9:00 am (ps most of these times are guesstimates, it was a lazy Saturday morning so I didn't really have any true concept of what time it was). He was spending some time with us before laying down to sleep for the day, so we were all hanging out in the living room sitting on the couches. I started getting a couple pains, more cramplike than what I had been having. About that time Daniel and my mom headed to the kitchen to get some breakfast... and I headed to the bathroom because I thought I was going to get sick. While in the bathroom it hit me strong, exactly like it did the first day I started miscarrying (back on Thursday, September 12th). I got extremely nauseous, extreme cramping, very light headed, and started seeing black. I made it a few steps out of the bathroom and was able to whisper (from what I was told) Daniel's name. He helped lower me right to the floor where I was standing and elevated my feet. The lightheadedness got better, but the pain never let up. Eventually he carried me to our bed and everything just continued. At this point we didn't think much about it. Everything seemed just like it did the first day, so I think we all figured it was just the separation pain that the doctor had told us would happen. 

But the pain never let up.... and continued to just get worse. So bad that it was making me sick. I remember telling Daniel multiple times that I couldn't do it anymore. It was 10 times worse than any labor pains I had before. Eventually the pain started moving up my left side, and when I told Daniel this that sent up red flags and he instantly pulled the car to the front door to take me to the hospital. I remember him and my mom trying to get me to sit up on the bed so I could go out to the car, and just feeling like jello and falling over. Daniel ended up carrying me to the car (poor guy).

The car ride is pretty much a blur to me. I remember Daniel saying my name a few times and waking up and responding to him, but I think I was sort of in and out of it most of the ride. 

We got to the ER entrance, Daniel ran in to get a wheel chair, I unlocked the door for him, heard someone say something about him being a medical student, to which Daniel quickly corrected them "I'm a physician" (this makes me laugh now),  and that's all I know for a few minutes. 

I passed out right as we got to the hospital. Talk about good timing.

The next thing I remember is being in the ER and having a nurse practitioner on my left side putting in an IV, the on call doctor on my left side putting one in (both pumping me full with fluids) and what seemed like 10 people in this little room running crazy. I remember hearing bits and pieces of Daniel's conversations with them. I remember them cutting off my shirt. I remember so many familiar faces because I had been in and out of the hospital so many times in the last week. I remember the pain stopping, but shaking uncontrollably (what I'm guessing was shock). I remember them layering tons of warm blankets on me. I remember them reading my blood pressure "70/30."  "Is that accurate?" They did it again, "Yes". I remember the wonderful nurse practitioner that I had seen the very first day I started miscarrying looking me in the eye and saying over and over, "you're going to be okay" and feeling so comforted. I remember another nurse saying "Poor baby" multiple times. I remember them doing an ultrasound. I remember Daniel telling me that I was going to have surgery and him kissing my forehead.  I remember being quickly taken back to the operating room, continuing to shake uncontrollably, the anesthesiologist letting me know that I would be falling asleep soon and that everything was going to be just fine.

The next thing I knew I was in recovery. I think Daniel said my surgery was about an hour and a half long. Recovery was pretty blurry and I only remember bits and pieces. I do know that Daniel's program director came in to check on me.... just reassuring our knowledge that this program was great.

At some point in the day I learned how serious things really were. My ectopic pregnancy had indeed ruptured my left fallopian tube. The surgery is usually done laparoscopically through a few tiny incisions in the belly and abdomen. But when they got the camera inside my abdomen, there was too much blood for them to be able to see. I had a total of 2 liters of blood in my abdomen from the rupture. They had to end up doing not only the tiny incision inside my belly button, but an incision about 6 inches long at my bikini line. I ended up loosing my entire left fallopian tube and receiving 3 units of blood.

Daniel has told me several times, "I don't think you realize how serious this was".... and he's probably really accurate. Things are still pretty surreal to me.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

And the Saga Continues Part 2

So my last post finished up on Tuesday, September 17th, the day of my first surgery, the D&C. We thought we would be in the clear and that it was finally time for us to begin healing and moving on. I didn't have much pain Tuesday or Wednesday, just a little acheyness so I tried to rest and relax as much as I could while I had my mom (her plan was to catch a flight Saturday to head back to Oklahoma).

Well Wednesday afternoon roles around and I get yet another dreaded call from my doctor. The pathology report was in from my D&C, and there were no "products of conception" in what was sent to the Pathology lab after my D&C on Tuesday. Anything that was in my uterus had been passed on it's own already, yet my beta remained SO high. This was confirmation that there was for sure an ectopic pregnancy. 

My doctor instantly got the ball rolling for me. In over 85% of cases,  shots of a medicine called Methotrexate will resolve the ectopic pregnancy without surgery. Because of such a high success rate with that, we felt confident in trying the shots before surgery (because with surgery came the chance of loosing a tube). He wanted me to get the shot first thing in the morning so that the process could be started.

Thursday, September 19th we woke up before the sun and headed to the hospital. Our doctor had left the script for us in one of the doctor lounges so Daniel could just go by there and get it instead of having to wait for the offices to open at 8am (perks to being married to a doctor for sure). We got our script and checked into the ER. Because it's such a serious medication (it's also used alongside other medications in chemotherapy) it wasn't as simple as walking in and getting a shot and walking out. I was also told it would burn really bad but in all honestly it wasn't that awful. I had prepared myself for a lot worse. The on call doctor came in and did a quick exam on me, I got my shots (one in each... *clear throat*  "cheek".... yeah that was fun), got some medication to help with nausea that's often associated with the shot, and headed out.

The plan after the shot was this....  I would have the first shot on Thursday, a second shot and beta done on Sunday, a check up with my doctor on Monday, and then betas done every Wednesday until they got below 5. I was told that about 3-4 days after my first shot (so probably around Sunday) I would have what was called "separation pains". Because of this, my mom decided to expand her trip just a few more days. We were all worried that Daniel (who was working the night shift this month) would be at work and I would be at home alone with Dax when the pain hit.

Little did we all know how thankful we would be that she expanded her trip. We had no idea what was in store for us in the coming few days.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And the Saga Continues Part 1

Well I wasn't lying when I finished off my last post with "our family story is just getting started".

This post is going to be full of dates and details ..... but I want to record and share our stories... all the details... so that maybe I can help someone else that will be going through this as well. Because it's so heavy in details and dates I'm going to break this part of our story up into a couple different post, so hang with me for a few days.

I left off our last post mentioning that I would be going to the doctor for a follow up on Monday, September 16th to discuss the next steps. When I got there he wanted to do a follow up ultrasound to see how the miscarriage was going naturally. We thought our biggest decision this week was going to be whether to let the miscarriage happen naturally, or to go ahead and have a D&C to complete the process. Little did we know.

During the ultrasound the tech was great at telling me exactly what she was seeing. We were still able to see the sac in my uterus, but could tell that it had made some progress and didn't look as defined as it did on Thursday. But while she was checking around a little more she saw a spot by my left ovary that she was a little concerned about. So she called the doctor in and they discussed it together with me. The consensus was that it could possibly be an ectopic pregnancy, but it wasn't as defined as he thought it should have been based off how high my beta (in layman's terms my pregnancy hormones) was. He sent me right over to the hospital to have another beta done.

A little back story on my beta..... when I went in on Thursday, September 12, my beta was over 10,200.  I had it tested again on Saturday, September 14th and it had dropped by 100. This is what you want to happen during a miscarriage. Once it's all the way back below 5 that your considered not pregnant anymore.

Well I received a call Monday evening from my doctor telling me my beta had gone up almost 1000 points since Saturday... mind you that is NOT what you want to see. Because of this he scheduled me for surgery first thing Tuesday morning to have a D&C done. This would get everything out of my uterus and help us know for sure on whether or not I had an ectopic pregnancy. If my hormone levels dropped after the D&C, we knew we were in the clear. But if they didn't or if the pathology report came back with bad news then we knew for sure I was having an ectopic pregnancy.  Ectopics can be pretty dangerous so he wanted to get things figured out as quickly as possible.

Living in a city where you have no family made everything just a bit more stressful. My mom couldn't get a flight that would get her here in time for the surgery, but we lucked out in the babysitter department and she was able to come over at 5:00am on Tuesday morning to stay with Dax.

The next day came quickly and I was as prepared as could possibly be for the D&C. My doctor is absolutely wonderful so I knew I was going to be taken great care of. I did have to be put under general anesthesia, but the procedure itself was outpatient. I was taken back to prep for the surgery a little after 7, and was home by 10. My mom got into town that afternoon and I spent most of the day resting and starting my road to recovery.

I thought I was done... for the second time, and thought we could start moving on... for the second time. But come to find out we really had no idea what was in store for us the rest of the week.