12.18.2008

Michael

Little did I know just how long (and painful) that road ahead would really be! Hcg can be taken every 48 hrs and it typically doubles in 48-72 hours. In those early days, I clung to hcg levels, the only way I would know if things were going right. My doctor (local ob/gyn) was sweet to get hcgs taken regularly and run them stat so I could get results back the same day. Tuesday, two days after we found out we were pregnant, I got back a level of 1544-tripled! We rested comfortably for the next 48 hr window. Then 3438 and again we were excited. I was able to get an ultrasound that day, unusually early, mostly because my doctor was so sweet. It showed a very small sac in the right place. At this point I was considered 5 weeks, 1 day even though I just found out the previous Sunday and it was Thursday!
I had switched from my hcg shots to progesterone shots. Poor DH thought he might get a break from needles, but no such luck. Before they were four times a month all in one week. Now they were twice a week (so spread out and twice as many) and the progesterone had to be given slowly because it was in sesame oil and my muscle needed to absorb the liquid. So a 2 cc shot should take over 5 minutes because the plunger had to be pushed down slowly. I got one the day after we found out we were pregnant- I was not going to lose this baby to something as elementary as low progesterone! We got the levels back from my P+7 draw and saw they were good levels and so we cut back the shot in half. I would continue to get blood draws, now every two weeks instead of once a month, and that would tell us how to adjust my progesterone shots. Dr. Hilger’s in Omaha monitored this and local ob/gyn monitored the hcg and did ultrasounds. I was proud of my team working together. I even had a primary care doctor in the loop that was local and trained under Dr. Hilger’s in case I needed him for anything.
The following Monday my hcg was drawn again. It was 5271. I was devastated. It was supposed to double in 48-72 hours. It has been four days and it didn’t double once. I was told not to worry, it slowed down as it got bigger (usually more in the 20k, not 5k). I was told as long as it increased, it was okay it didn’t double in time. So we were on pins and needles for 48 more hours until another draw came back. 5184 was the fateful number-it had done what the nurse said wasn’t okay-it dropped! But I was told then that it could drop a bit as the baby grows, but I should come in for an immediate sonogram. It was a different doctor (mine was out of town) and Dr. Su said that it was a perfectly healthy very early pregnancy. She said that possibly my dates were wrong and that the sac was growing. There was no yolk sac visible yet. At that time I was 6 weeks.
I didn’t take much comfort, but I tried to be calm. I knew my dates weren’t wrong, that was the one thing I was completely sure of thanks to CrMS. On Monday my progesterone was drawn and it was a terrible 13.2. But because of the holidays (around Thanksgiving) I wouldn’t get this news for another week. So on Thursday I went in for another sonogram and found that the sac had grown and there was a yolk sac for the first time. My doctor worried that there wasn’t a heart beat. He took an hcg-said it should be 60-80k by now, but it was a sad 7600. I didn’t get this until the following day due to bad weather. The doctor called it a blighted ovum, which I had recently learned from a friend’s experience that it is when the sac grows long after the baby stops developing. It can keep growing, giving the impression you are still pregnant, when you actually lost the baby awhile ago. My poor friend didn’t find out until she was 13 weeks because her doctor didn’t perform ultrasounds early. Again, I was grateful for my doctor and happy to know sooner rather than later if that was our fate. We were told they would do another ultrasound on Monday, just in case, but they would probably schedule me for a D&C to remove the sac, etc. I went straight home to bed, glad class was cancelled. As you can imagine, school was not the top priority anymore and I had trouble thinking about anything other than the next blood draw or ultrasound. Not to mention all the time I spend actually at the doctor’s office. That night DH came home early. We ordered pizza and watched movies and tv all night from our bed. We mourned the loss of our baby that wasn’t meant to be. But more surprises awaited us…
Of course, with my regular visits now everyone in the doctor’s office knew who I was. And everyone also knew I was losing the baby. I felt like I was in an exhibit and the whole world was looking at me, pitying me, and I felt sorry for myself. The ultrasound revealed the sac had grown, the yolk sac had grown, and we saw a 3.9mm baby (measuring head to rump). Best of all a heartbeat was visible-better late than never right?- and I felt there was a new lease on life! We had ourselves a miracle. The ultrasound tech literally ran out of the room to get the doctor and he came in. He checked my heartbeat to make sure there wasn’t a vein that was pulsing of mine getting accidentally picked up on, but he determined the rate of the heartbeat wasn’t the same as my own. My baby, there on the screen, with it’s very own heartbeat. I cried tears of joy and shared the news with DH. The doctor assumed my hcg shots had played with the numbers and that they were falsely elevated. My dates were wrong, they thought, and this baby was just fine. I ignored my thoughts about the date being correct, and how Dr. Hilger’s had already accounted for the hcg shots that I had stopped taking a full week before the first hcg. I wanted only to dwell in good thoughts. My baby was basically brought back from the dead in my eyes.
I believe that was the time I began calling the baby Michael with DH’s blessing. Michael is my dad’s middle name. But it was also the name of the archangel that is known for being a warrior. My baby was a fighter and that was great to know! I began talking to him in the shower, during the day, even one day in the mall parking lot as I sat in my car. I remember some high school kids came out and noticed me and joked that I was smoking pot via guesture. I didn’t care. I had a baby in my tummy and that baby had a heartbeat. I knew the risk of miscarriage went down to 5% with a heartbeat, but it was with a typical heartbeat. That first day we could see it but not measure it. So I remained on pins and needles waiting to hear an actual number and know we were out of the woods.
One thing I did around this time was let the priest know our situation. He was wonderful and gave me a blessing. He asked me if I knew who the patron saints of pregnant people were and I did not. We looked them up and found three, but only one women-St. Margaret of Antioch. My mother’s name! I loved that and was even more overjoyed that her feast day was my due date, July 20th, 2007. (Before even our first anniversary, hard to imagine since it felt like had been married forever-in a good way of course!)
Wednesday I returned to the doctor for another ultrasound. This one was with another lady and the machine was more up to date (I hated all these variable, I wanted to be able to compare across). The heartbeat measured 93. It was supposed to be over 100, so we couldn’t say that it was typical yet, but we were happy it was so close and continued our waiting game to measure it again.
That actually happened much sooner than we expected. I had some spotting that day and was rushed back to get another ultrasound-yes, two in one day! It was with the older machine, which was less sensitive, but they actually got a better reading-104! They said the baby was fine and that the blood was either from sex or the first ultrasound (all ultrasounds are vaginal this early).
I wasn’t able to get another ultrasound until Thursday, a week and one day later. I think they were starting to see me as in the clear. Unfortunately this one showed a devastating heart beat of 73. At this point it should have been 150-170s. I was told that this baby was not going to make it for sure (a second time) and I was sure we had run out of miracles. The worst part was that the baby was alive, yet dying. Still in me, yet there was nothing anyone could do. I confirmed this with my pro-life RE, Dr. Hilgers, in Omaha. If there was anything that could be done, he would have said.  Nothing we could do but wait. Waiting was becoming something we hated.
I went back Monday and found out that the sac had grown a lot and the baby now measured 5.6mm, probably due to the fact we were still taking progesterone shots trying to give the baby every chance to fight. The heartbeat had only gone down to 67 and I resigned myself that this was going to be a slow and painful process. On Wednesday, I remember talking to Michael in the shower and telling him that I knew he was a fighter. But I also knew that it was time to let go, so if he was fighting for me alone, he could stop. I knew he was going to be with God and I had let go of hope that I would hold him in my arms someday. I sobbed.
That Thursday, Dec. 21st, I was 10 weeks and 1 day. I was shocked to hear the heartbeat was no more because I expected, at this point, for the pain to continue to be drug out, despite my heart to heart with the baby. But Michael had taken my words to heart. The Lord knew I couldn’t take a slower death. I was a little shaken, taken off guard at the quick drop and my prayer being answered. DH was with me, thank goodness. My ob/gyn's coworker was the one who was there; she gave us our options and we decided not to do a D&C the next day because we wouldn‘t be able to travel to DH's home town 3 hrs away for Christmas. But I did want to do one, I was so scared to see anything I would recognize come out with the bleeding-I had heard of people seeing babies, or sacs or placentas. I didn’t feel strong enough, so for me the D&C felt like it was the right thing. We schedule it for the 29th and tried to have a good Christmas and stay distracted. It was hard to believe we had just been to his hometown for Thanksgiving telling his family about the pregnancy. Now they mourned with us. I began bleeding on Christmas Eve. I found the blood very disturbing. This wasn’t my cycle. It was my baby’s blood. I had a reminder every time I went to the bathroom. I prayed for God’s strength.
The bleeding got heavier and darker and full of clots. I saw the black blood as full of sorrow. On Thursday, the day before my D&C, I was bleeding extremely heavy. I was deathly afraid I was miscarrying that day and that I would not make it to surgery the next day. I was afraid of what I would see. I was told if it was more than a pad an hour then I would have to go to the ER for hemorrhaging. I didn’t know how much I was bleeding because so much of it was pouring out when I sat on the toilet. I called the Dr. office several times for reassurance and they were great. They told me I didn’t need to come in. Laying on the bathroom floor, bleeding and crying alone, was the lowest point of that pregnancy and I sobbed my heart out.
Thank God my surgery was the next day. I never saw anything recognizable. The surgery was very easy, no pain, no nausea, very little blood and no cramping. I felt the D&C decision was the right one for me.

5 comments:

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry that you lost your sweet Michael.

Abigail said...

I'm also missing the son that I miscarried in 2006 this week. It's an honor to read about your Michael. What a brave, sweet boy!

A Martha trying to be Mary said...

I am crying for both our Michaels, named after the fighting archangels. You are such a strong woman and your story gives me so much hope

Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

OH WR, I am heart-broken to read this story. I feel such pain reading your story- your anguish, fear, and pain. I am so happy to know that you have a baby in your arms right now. I'm so sorry for the loss of baby Michael.

Julie said...

I am so sorry that you lost your Michael. I pray that God blesses you with strength and hope as you journey onward!