Getting Help When You Need It

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Yesterday I hit a milestone I didn’t even realize I was approaching. Yes, it was May the Fourth for all of you Star Wars fans out there but that wasn’t it. So, what was it?

I reached a year of regularly seeing my current therapist.

A few years back now before we had started trying to conceive, I regularly worked with a therapist and a psychiatrist when I was actively having panic attacks. It took about two years of constant work to get to a point where I felt good again and we could back off on both the appointments and the medication I was on. That was about 6-9 months before we started trying to conceive.

Even before the pregnancy was over in April last year, I reached out to find a new therapist. We had moved to our house in the middle of nowhere and my insurance had also changed so my last therapist (who I absolutely adored since we could bond over “Doctor Who” but also for the hurdles she helped me overcome during regression therapy) was no longer covered but it also was more than an hour-long drive one-way to see her. I knew I was going to need therapy after this kind of experience (what they refer to as a “traumatic event” in the medical terminology in my case-file) and I didn’t want to go back to the really dark place that I was in a few years back.

We had to update paperwork yesterday so that’s how it came up that I had reached this particular “milestone.” I go see my therapist about every two weeks or so. I’ve gradually been able to stretch it some times to a month.

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Going Full Circle

Tomorrow starts the beginning of going full circle. It will be one year since we first heard the words “cystic hygroma” at our first ultrasound. Emmett had developed a large, fluid-filled cyst on the back of his neck, what doctors told us is usually caused by chromosome issues such as Down’s Syndrome, Turner’s Syndrome, etc.

We went from being perfectly elated hearing our baby’s heartbeat the first time and seeing a bouncing blob on a monitor to being completely petrified and devastated in the matter of minutes.

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At that appointment, we were instructed to get a follow-up ultrasound later that week at a different medical center to see if the findings were true. They were… but the news got worse. The advanced u/s machine also detected he had developed fetal hydrops, a condition where his organs were filling up with fluid. This causes them to work much harder and in a fetus that can be difficult to do for a full-term pregnancy.

The chances of Emmett making it the full 40 weeks was going to be a long shot since he had developed the cystic hygroma and hydrops so early. The chances of him ever making it outside a hospital was even lower. The chances of him celebrating his first birthday, lower than that. There was also the risk that I could develop maternal hydrops, putting my health and life at risk. It was a lot of news and information to absorb in such a short time.

They gave us the option to end our pregnancy that day or wait it out to see if things would improve. We did the latter and it was the longest April of our lives.

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Sex and Intimacy After the Loss of a Pregnancy or Child

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Note: this topic may be unsuitable for some readers.

Oh snap! Did I just write that? Are we really going here?

Yes.

We all know how babies are made. Still, our society is still very prudish when it comes to openly discussing the topic but we should be able to talk openly about sex and intimacy…and, how both change physically and mentally after the loss of a pregnancy or child. I’ve been dabbling in my mind of writing this post for some time now so I figure the week of Valentine’s Day seems appropriate to publish it.

I was in no way prepared for how hard it would be to become intimate again with Brett after our loss. I craved for physical contact – to be hugged and to have someone hold my hand or caress me in a supportive manner. However, kissing and sex were very difficult for me, and still are.

We couldn’t have intercourse while I was recovering after the delivery as well as the infection that I developed from the retained pregnancy tissue, which was about 6-8 weeks. When the doctors told us that, in the back of my mind, I wholeheartedly thought, “Ok, that’s not a problem. We’ll be back to trying to get pregnant again in no time once my cycle gets back on track.”

I was entirely wrong.

The first time we just tried making out I was in tears within minutes. Hormones raging inside me. Massive amounts of guilt. The deep hole in my chest became ever more evident and I realized I wasn’t ready yet for this type of activity with my husband, a man who I have been with for more than a decade and who I trust with my life and my heart. I felt like such a stupid idiot. This is an entirely natural action and part of life but there was that part of me that felt it was wrong and abhorrent.

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I Hate My Body Pt. 2

Update – 3:40 p.m. Feb. 3: Talked with my doctor’s nurse. They looked at the pelvic exam notes from yesterday and don’t think it’s consistent with PID. However, if I still have symptoms next week, I should come in for a urine test and then see an ob-gyn. Not what I hoped for in regards to definitive answers but at least it’s starting the discussion.

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I’m sorry if this is incoherent but I’m writing this in a puddle of tears…

I recently wrote about why I hate my body in a post and none of that has changed. I think I just may hate it more today. (Note: sorry if there’s too much personal women’s hygiene detail in here but it’s part of the story. Plus, if you’re a woman, you’ll most likely relate from at least some point in your life.)

I was at the doctor’s office…again…yesterday. I noticed the other night some weird smelling discharge (and lots of it) when I was going pee. Back in November, I went to urgent care for something similar. They said I had bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection so I started a course of antibiotics and a vaginal gel to clear it up.

The symptoms this week were just like that so I messaged my PCP and asked if there’s something OTC I could take to clear it up or if she’d like to see me. So, I went in for a pelvic exam and they found the exact same thing as November. I’m on the same antibiotics and vaginal gel but this time a double-dose.

One of the side effects of one of the meds is insomnia. I already have bad insomnia from the grief and anxiety (it’s been getting better recently but still at least a couple of nights per week.) I was up last night so I was just reading about bacterial vaginosis, in hopes, that it would put me to sleep being so boring.

In reading, I found out about a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID. It’s usually caused by STD’s but as I read further, it can also be caused after miscarriages or abortions.

This had me thinking back to April 2016 when I was doubled over in pain and enduring copious blood loss because my cervix was being held open by left-over pregnancy tissues that I didn’t pass naturally after being induced or when the doctor did her manual evacuation of the placenta. I ended up in the ER and was told that I had an infection and was given antibiotics.

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I Hate My Body

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Most women to a certain extent hate their body. Too flabby here, too much jiggle there. I’m just like that. I could certainly stand to lose a little around my midsection and tone my upper arms up a bit more, but I don’t dwell on it to the point where I “fat-shame” myself for how I look or feel. For the most part, I’m happy about my body and I’m comfortable in my own skin in regards to my physical appearance.

I hate my body for a different reason. It failed me. Or, at least I think it did.

The one thing a woman is supposed to be able to do that is unique to us is bear a child. I couldn’t do that properly. A part of me feels like less of a woman since I couldn’t accomplish something that seems like it should be perfectly simple to do, since countless other women have done it since the beginning of time.

I failed to do one of the most important responsibilities that a mother could do for a child. Protect their life. I couldn’t keep my baby safe for nine months. I only held him in my body for 18+4, just a little under 5 months.

Everyone always says you should be pretty safe once you get out of the first trimester and it should be smooth sailing but it wasn’t in our case. We lost our baby part way through the second trimester.

A week after that loss, I was back in the hospital in horrible pain. I had developed an infection because my body couldn’t pass all of the retained pregnancy tissue after the loss. More pain and more reminder of the failure.

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Things About My Pregnancy I Was Never Able to Share

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There are a lot of things I was never able to share with anyone about our pregnancy since we had decided to wait until the second trimester to let everyone know. By that time, we already had learned that something was amiss so we never were able to share what-should’ve-been-joyful news with most of our family and friends.

I wanted to share a few things about our pregnancy. Some aren’t entirely new but some I haven’t shared with people before.

I experienced horrible morning sickness

It’s really common for pregnant women to have morning sickness. However, mine was really bad. I developed something called “hyperemesis gravidarum” around the 8th or 9th week of pregnancy and it lasted pretty much until I delivered in April.

Let me just say, it was awful. I would eat something and within five minutes would be rushing to the bathroom, enduring violent vomiting (or dry heaving if I didn’t have enough in my stomach). I tried nearly everything. Candied ginger. Mints or chewing gum. Eating smaller, more frequent meals. Saltines. Cold compresses.

My doctor also prescribed me some medication, along with some Unisom, to help with the nausea. However, Preggie Pops seemed to be my best friend during the last few weeks once I found them at GNC. I was popping those things like Skittles to keep my tummy settled. I think Brett was on a first-name basis at the store when he’d pick up their entire supply for me.

The nausea was so bad that I lost weight during pregnancy so I didn’t even look pregnant. I was wearing all of my normal clothes up until the end at nearly 5 months. I think that’s what makes me the saddest sometimes that I never got to experience the joy of looking pregnant and having people come up to me and ask to touch my belly.

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