This blog is just about my life and mostly revolves around my son, Jamie. This blog is a combination of everything, whether it may be a new recipe I tried, a good freebie I found, something funny Jamie said, or feelings I'm having about life in general. There's little rhyme or reason. I'll never win any blogging awards, but I enjoy writing about our lives and I mostly do it for my son. It's so easy to forget moments over the years. I've got all these little tidbits of our life in print and I hope that someday Jamie can enjoy them.

I called this blog Mother of Life, Mother of Loss because of my issues with pregnancy loss and the joy of finally bringing this wonderful person into the world. Truly, I feel the pains of loss, but you won't see too much of that here. I am blessed and I am, above all else, a mother of life.

After all the years of infertility and loss, Matthew and I were blessed with a surprise pregnancy. We were pregnant with twins, but unfortunately, Baby A could not stay with us. Baby B grew into a healthy and happy baby girl that we named Bella Marie. We are so blessed to have two beautiful children.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bella's Story

Matthew and I had given up being able to have another baby. We could not afford to have any more expensive fertility treatments and our son was five years old. It was difficult for me to accept that I would only have one child. I always wanted a large family.

I had started dieting. Low Carb dieting works well for me since I am diabetic. I made the decision that I wanted to be healthy. I didn't want to be overweight anymore. I started walking, too. The weight was dropping off really fast. I had this dress I was trying to in as a goal. I just couldn't get in that dress. I could finally get it zipped, but it was just too snug. I wouldn't need to lose much more, though. Or so I thought.

On June 13, 2009, I talked to a friend on facebook. We were both lamenting over our inability to have more children. Little did I know that as I cried inside me a miracle had happened.

The next day, Matt called me before he left work. He wanted to know if I wanted him to bring anything on the way home. I had been fighting the urge to buy a pregnancy test. I am a pregnancy test addict. I've wasted tons of money on tests. With my irregular and often nonexistent periods, it was hard to resist sometimes. I couldn't fight the urge anymore, "If they have any of those dollar pregnancy tests, bring me one home." Matt knew the drill. There was no excitement. It was an exercise in futility that we had practiced many times before.

When Matt got home I took the little test to the bathroom. Immediately there were two lines. They were dark, too. I just knew it had to be a mistake. It was a cheap test. I sent Matt to the store for another one. My heart was beating so fast and it hurt. My mind raced, "It was the weekend. I would have to wait until Monday to go to the doctor. I would miscarry by then. Which doctor should I call? Would Dr. McCauley give me an ultrasound immediately? How far along am I? I needed a cerclage. I needed progesterone."

Matt finally came back with the second test. It was positive, too. One line was faint. Faint was bad. Faint could mean dropping HCG levels. Later I realized that the faint line was not the one that picked up hcg in the urine. The really dark line was!

The weekend just dragged. I waited to start bleeding. I didn't. Finally Monday came. I called my OB's office as soon as it opened. The appointment was strange. I set off early because I am notorious for getting myself lost. I did actually get a little lost, but quickly found an alternate route without setting myself back too much and without any panic.

I had convinced myself over the course of my restless night that this was an ectopic pregnancy. I'm having some sharp pains and in my world an ectopic pregnancy would be the worst case scenario. I could imagine seeing a beautiful little heartbeat and discovering it was located in a tube and would have to be removed. I'd have to kill my living little baby. I couldn't imagine anything worse. To say that I was pessimistic about the outcome of my appointment would be an understatement.

We got to my appointment about half an hour early, but that ended up being a good thing since both the kids and I had to use the restroom by the time we arrived. I was called back almost as soon as I completed the paperwork to update my file. I was taken straight back to the ultrasound room. They didn't want me to take the kids in under the circumstances and I reluctantly left them in the waiting room.

The tech inserted the wand and immediately a sac came into view. A immediately saw the flicker on the screen. It registered in my head before I heard the words, "There's a heartbeat." I'm not sure what I said, something small and ineffectual like, "Oh, good." I didn't respond at all like I thought I would. I didn't cry. To be honest, I felt kind of numb. Don't get me wrong. I was happy, but I didn't have the outpouring of emotions that I expected.

The tech started exploring, searching for the areas that caused me pain. The baby came in and out of view. She took repeated measurements. I watched on the large flat screen in front of me. She turned on the sound and the heartbeat was measured. I listened to the rapid beating of my baby's heart. She stopped and moved around, then turned it on again. Again I listed to the rapid beating heart. When she was done she told me to relax a few minutes while she went to see if the doctor wanted to see me in the ultrasound room or if he would like for me to go on in to another room. I lie there, just kind of blank. I stared at the still image on the screen in front of me.

She came back in and said that he would see me in an examination room, but she wanted to talk to me about the findings before I went out. "There are two." She explained that she didn't want to show me during the ultrasound because one was much smaller than the other, but that they both had heartbeats. I didn't respond at all. She showed me the ultrasounds and explained what I was seeing. Baby A was smaller and didn't have much fluid in his/her sac. Baby B looked great. There is no way to predict what will happen. I might miscarry Baby A or he/she might absorbed (become a vanishing twin). I might go back next time and find that they are both fine.

No tears. No reaction. I stared blankly as she spoke. I can't even remember if I was thinking anything. I just nodded in recognition of her words.

"There's also a fibroid tumor. That may be what's causing your pain." Fibroid. I know what that is. Generally harmless. Check. She might have said more. I don't know. She popped her head out the door, "Do we have a room ready for Laura?" No. I was sent back to the waiting room. Two sets of eyes met me. Dynisha, who knew what was going on, looked at me expectantly. I smiled at her and sat down. I showed her the pictures the tech had picked out to give me. "This is one baby and this tiny spot here is the other baby." Dynisha squealed, "Twins! There are two?!!" Suddenly I noticed that the waiting room was full and all eyes were on us. Smiles passed around the room. "Shh, calm down. I don't want you to get too excited," I told her, "Baby A is very small and might not make it. We'll have to wait and see." At this point Jamie's attention was drawn. "This is your baby brother or sister." I told him. "I don't like boys," he said, "I love sisters." He examined the pictures, trying to figure out where the baby was. I told him the baby was in my tummy like when Hayden was in Aunt Rachel's tummy. He got that and then was disinterested and went back to playing.

Dynisha continued to babble on excitedly until they called me into the back. This time I took the kids with me. Dr. McCauley came in. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again." I told him. He smiled. We chatted briefly about Jamie and Matt and my friend Geri, who was his patient as well during her pregnancies. He told me everything looked good. He did a small internal exam, still trying to ascertain the source of my pain. We're still unsure.

He started to say that Baby A was smaller. I finished his sentence for him. "It might not make it." I finished it wrong. He said something about it possibly catching up by my next visit. He said something about me not being so frightened. I had problems in the past, but I had two heartbeats. He sounded like he wasn't worried at all about Baby A. I said, "I'm cautiously optimistic."

Prenatal vitamins, a dozen vials of blood, results in the morning, cerclage at twelve weeks... the rest is a blur.

I checked out. My next appointment was set for July 2ND. I recognized the nurse behind the counter. I have a picture of her hold Jamie just weeks after he was born. Everything was so surreal.

We all had to take a restroom break again. I tried to decide how to tell Matt. He was anxiously awaiting my call. I had promised to call as soon as I knew anything. I wanted to tell him immediately. It was almost an hour drive to get home. That would be a long time for him to wait to hear something. But twins. How could I give him this news over the phone? I couldn't. I wanted to show him the ultrasound picture. I thought about how to tell him on the drive home. I thought of some cute things to say, but when I finally arrived I blanked. He looked terrified when he saw me. I felt the blank expression that was still on my face. I probably looked sad. He would expect me to be smiling and jumping for joy if there was a heartbeat. He rushed out the office door to greet me. "There's a heartbeat." I said, handing him the ultrasound pictures. Relief washed over his face. "Actually, there are two heartbeats." I told him. His eyes got big. I pointed out the babies and explained the situation with Baby A. Matt was so excited he barely registered the customer that was in his lobby. He stared at the pictures in dazed amazement. Soon he was bragging to the customer about his twins and showing her the ultrasound. As soon as she was out the door he called his mother. Dynisha was upset because she wanted to tell their mother. Matt told her, "Too bad. She's my mother, too, and I want to tell her." Then he started compiling his mental list of who to call. Even with my history we just couldn't wait to tell people.

I was on pins and needles all week. I had forgotten to ask what the babies heart rates were and called to see. Baby A's heart rate was 115 and Baby B's heart rate was 121. Monday my hcg was 30,938 and my progesterone was 20.1. Thursday my hcg was 38,284 and my progesterone was 22.6. Friday my hcg was 43,143.20 and my progesterone was 29.6. My progesterone levels looks good, but I knew my hcg levels were not going up the way they should. I prayed and begged God for a miracle. I wanted both of my babies, but I knew in my heart that it was over. Monday, June 22, 2009 my fears were confirmed. Baby A was still there, but had no heart beat. My heart was broken even though I really knew from the beginning that Baby A was just to small.

The months that followed were hard, especially the first several weeks after finding out Baby A had passed. I waited to lose my other baby. I mourned the loss of the twin. Jamie was sad, too. He asked me a million questions that I didn't know how to answer. He wanted to know why the baby died and who killed it. He wanted to see it. He thought the doctor could give it a shot after it came out and make it better.

Jamie quickly decided that the deceased baby was a boy and the living baby was a girl. He had his heart set on a sister. I wondered if it would make things even harder for him if the baby turned out to be a boy. I tried to explain that it could be a boy, but he would say, matter of factly, "Mommy, it's just a sister." My niece, McKalah, was sure, too. She wanted me to name the baby Bella. We thought that was a really pretty name and found ourselves referring to the baby as Bella.

Jamie's Birthday fell around the time that my preventative cercalge needed to be scheduled. I decided to wait until after his birthday party to have the cerclage placed. I was afraid something would go wrong. I didn't want to be sad for his birthday if something went wrong.

I had the cerclage placed on August 5TH. I went in at 5:30am. My nerves were completely shot. I felt like I might throw up. I had asked my OB ahead of time to give me antibiotics following the procedure but he refused. I cried about it the night before. I was frightened of infection. I was determined to talk my OB into giving them to me.

The first couple of hours were spent getting changed into a gown, getting an IV, and waiting around. Just before I was taken to the operating room for the procedure the nurse tried to listen to the baby's heartbeat. She couldn't find it. My heart began to pound. My doctor took the doppler and attempted to find the heartbeat. I couldn't even speak. I was so afraid. I lay there while they located a portable ultrasound machine. I don't think I took a breath while I waited to see the baby come into view. Then it was there, moving with a lovely little heartbeat.

I was taken to the operating room. The anesthesiologist was there to give me an epidural. Because of my past experience, I knew that she might have difficulty placing the spinal in the usual place I let her know that previously they had place it higher. I wanted to avoid the multiple sticks I endured the first time. She felt my spine and said she could feel some scoliosis in the area they normally place it and she placed it higher. I still wouldn't call it loads of fun, but she got it in fairly quickly. I laid back on the bed and scooted into position. Then I had a moment to talk to my OB as he prepped. "Please let me have antibiotics." He refused. "Please, I'm frightened of infection. Can you just give them to me to ease my mind?" I pleaded and pleaded but he refused. They strapped my arms down and my OB began his work. Everything seemed surreal. Everyone was talking and laughing, but I don't have a clue what they were saying. I lay there with tears streaming down my cheeks, helpless to wipe them away. The nurse would ask me every so often if I was alright and I would tell her that I was just nervous. Everyone's words blended together so much that my OB had to say my name several times at the end of the procedure to get my attention. "I was able to get 3cm of cervix. We'll have none of that hourglass opening this time." I'm not sure if I replied or not. Then it was over. I was moved to a bed and rolled into recovery.

I don't remember anything about my emergency cerclage or the recovery time after the cerclage that I had placed when I was pregnant with Jamie. I just remember waking up in my hospital room needing to use the restroom. This time I was fully aware of everything. I kept feeling my legs because it still felt like they were in the stirrups. The monitored my blood pressure and heart rate. Matthew was brought in to keep me company and my breakfast was ordered. After about an hour I began to feel really trapped by the inability to move. I wanted to bad to roll over on my stomach and go to sleep. There was no television for a distraction. I began to feel a little panicked. I struggled to make my legs work, but it was no use. I had Matt call the nurse and they helped move me up in the bed so that I could work the bed controls and change my position.

It took nearly five hours for me to regain any movement and nearly six before I could walk and go home. I was told to stay on bed rest for twenty-four hours and then "light activity" for the next couple of weeks.

That night I had a lot of cramping and a pinching feeling in my vagina. I had that cramping and occasionally that pinching feeling for the remainder of my pregnancy. I had quite a bit of cervical mucus. There was enough that I even became concerned that my membranes might have ruptured and I went to the OR to let them check. Better safe than sorry. I saw my OB again on August 12TH. He checked the baby with the fetal doppler and this time was able to pick up the heartbeat just fine. He did a manual exam of my cervix and said that my cervix was closed. I had lost almost four pounds in a few days and he lectured me on increasing my calories.

I was constantly nervous. I counted milestones from previous pregnancies. I made it through 17 weeks, when I lost my first babies. I made it to 20 weeks and learned the gender. I was excited to tell Jamie that he was getting the sister he wanted so badly. His response was, "I know." I guess he always did. I made it to 24 weeks, when things went so wrong with Jamie. It's also the week when you are considered viable.

Everything went extremely smooth. I had the normal pregnancy I had always dreamed of until 30 weeks. I got my first 4D ultrasound at my 30 week appointment and that was really cool. Unfortunately, we learned that my fluid was low and my OB put me on bed rest.

Bed rest was not so bad. It wasn't strict like during my pregnancy with Jamie. I could get up and do some things. I could pick Jamie up from school. Still, with Jamie to take care of I found it difficult to stay in bed the way the doctor wanted me to. He constantly threatened to admit me.

I had my cerclage removed at 36 weeks. My OB thought that I would give birth within three days, but Bella would surprise us all. One week passed. Then two. I kept asking, "How can a cervix that can't hande a baby that weighs about a pound handle a baby that weighs 7 pounds?" and "Oh, now it decides to become competent."

At the end of my pregnancy I was having a lot of trouble with my stomach. I couldn't keep food down. I was losing weight and my doctor just felt that it was in Bella's best interest to get her out. We scheduled an induction for January 26, 2010. Matthew and I took Jamie out that night for our last family outing as a family of three.

At 38 weeks and 5 days I checked into the hospital right at midnight. I changed into the shirt I delivered Jamie in and the blanket that was on my bed during my long stay in the hospital with Jamie. We were in the very room that I had been in the day my water broke with Jamie. The room seemed so different this time. My imminent birth was exciting and not terrifying. I figured that we would have her within a few hours. Again, Bella would surprise us.

I was too excited to sleep. I waited to feel the contractions. As morning was on the horizon the contractions were of sufficient strenth that I called for my epidural. The monitor showed a really good, strong contraction pattern. I was guessing I was probably 6 cm. I got my epidural and the nurse checked me. Three cm. That is all. I felt like a wimp then.

Hours went by with little change. Finally, I moved to what they "might call four". They called my doctor. If I didn't change in the next half hour I would have to have c-section. I nodded in resignation, but my heart sank. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't want one. I wanted a beautiful birth like Jamie's. I wanted her laid on my chest the moment she arrived. I wanted to nurse her. I didn't want a c-section. The nurse checked me again in thirty minutes and I had changed to five. Finally, this thing was moving. The c-section was off and a vaginal delivery was back on!

My friend was there with her children to help with Jamie. My mother-in-law and father-in-law were there with Brianna and Dynisha. It was getting late and everyone was hungry. The snacks we had brought for the kids in preperation for this day had been eaten long ago. I sent Matt, my friend, and all the kids to the caffateria to get some dinner before the baby was born. I thought we still had plenty of time since I was only 5 cm. While they were gone the doctor came to check me. I was ready. He told me to try a test push. I did. He told me to push again. I said, "Wait, is this the delivery?" He said it was and I told him I needed to call my husband. I had his mom call the cafateria. I felt her coming out. I remembered this feeling from Jamie's birth. I was sure he was going to fall out. Even though I had done this before I was still sure she was getting ready to slip right out. I didn't think Matt would get there in time.

I was relieved when Matt arrived. I wanted to have Jamie in the room, too, but my doctor wouldn't allow it. He said he would only allow two adults and my husband. I let my mother-in-law and my mother stay. Matt took one leg and my mother took the other and I commenced pushing. All I could really think about during pushing was my mother. She kept trying to pull my head, even though the doctor told her not to. She smelled bad of cigarettes and she kept talking. I was rude to her. I couldn't help it. I asked her several times not to talk. I was actually feeling sick to my stomach lstening to her. I know that sounds bad. I probably hurt her feelings, but she was ruining my delivery. Luckily, it only took a few pushes and she was out and on my chest.

When they took her over to the isolet and began getting apgars, cleaning her, measuring her, testing her I began to cry. I couldn't believe I had a baby girl. My mom was trying to hug me and talk to me. She kept telling me that Bella was fine. I kept trying to tell her that I was crying because I was happy. I wanted her to get away from me, stop talking, and let me just enjoy the moment. I think I was pretty rude to her, again. I'm usually not the kind of person to be rude to anyone. I still get sick to my stomach when I think about it. It wasn't the beautiful moment I had when Jamie was born where I felt like he and I were the only people in the whole world for a brief moment. It kind of felt like my mom took control of everything when she was there.

We let Jamie come in first. I was glad to hold both my babies in my arms. Jamie smiled at her. We gave him the present we had gotten for him from his sister, hex bugs. He was definately more excited about the hex bugs than the sister. We let everyone else come in. Everyone snatched away my baby. I hadn't even seen her toes yet. Everything was chaos to me. I wanted to nurse her and see her toes really bad. Finally, the nurse interveined and told everyone I needed to nurse her. I took my baby and unwrapped her so I could see her feet before nursing her. She had the longest toes I had ever seen.

I was glad when the place calmed down and Matthew and I were alone to enjoy our precious princess together. I marveled at her. She weighed 7lbs 2 oz, but she seemed so tiny. I couldn't remember Jamie being smaller than that, though he was almost two pounds smaller when he was born. She had quite a bit of hair, too.

I got to bring her home 48 hours after I gave birth. I was positive for the group B strep, so we had to wait the full 48 hours and it was night time when we left the hospital. We picked up Jamie and went to our house, a family of four.

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