Currently viewing the category: "Infertility and Miscarriage"

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I realize that I’ve posted quite a bit about pregnancy-related topics lately. Hang with me if pregnancy posts drive you crazy, because I have some great recipes coming to the site later this month! Since opening up about our difficult journey to baby, my inbox has been flooded with questions about doctors and medicines and acupuncture. I’m always happy to answer each question individually via e-mail, but I wanted to put it all into a single post as another resource for women traveling the same journey.

Before I launch into what we did differently this time around, I want to say that I was a bit torn about sharing this post. First, despite the fact that we’re now past 16 weeks, I have no idea what the ultimate outcome will be of this pregnancy. Second, I strongly believe that the baby I’m carrying is a miracle and a result of so many heartfelt and sincere prayers. I don’t ever want to steal away from the miraculous nature of this pregnancy in favor of condensing it down to a science. We truly have no idea what “did the trick” but believe that God worked through some of the many medical resources available to us.

1. A Daily Baby Aspirin
After our second miscarriage, one of the first things our doctor suggested was for me to start a daily baby aspirin regimen. Aspirin isn’t typically recommended for pregnant women, but in some cases it has shown to have benefits for women who have difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant. Although my blood tests came back negative for any clotting disorders (a common cause of recurrent miscarriage) my doctor said sometimes a small dose of aspirin can prevent small clotting issues that may go under the radar undetected.

2. Acupuncture (a lot of it!)
The week after our second miscarriage, I started going to weekly acupuncture treatments at a practice specializing in pregnancy and fertility at the recommendation of a family friend. Thankfully the treatments were 80% covered by insurance (!!) so it was affordable and extremely enjoyable. I went every week for two months leading up to getting pregnant and every week through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Now I’m going once every month until the end of my pregnancy, when I will resume weekly treatments.

I can honestly say that the acupuncture helped tremendously with recovery after miscarriage compared to my previous experience and helped my body get back on track right away. It also helped my stress levels and most of the time I found myself falling asleep during the treatments. Additionally, my acupuncturist prescribed me several herbal supplements that I took throughout my cycle and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

3. Lifestyle Modifications
My acupuncturist also suggested several lifestyle modifications that I followed during the first trimester, which included eating organic, grass-fed red meat to help build my blood supply and focusing on exercises that were “nourishing” rather than depleting to my body. That means lots of walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates and avoiding running, high impact cardio and other intense workouts that would deplete my body.

4. Changing My Vitamins 
Almost everything in my blood panel came back normal except for the fact that my doctor informed me I tested positive for MTHFR, a common (but rarely tested for) genetic mutation that inhibits my body from properly processing folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and B-vitamins, which are key nutrients in pregnancy. My doctor didn’t think it was a big deal or cause for concern, but after doing more research on my own, I talked with her about prescribing me Metanx, a prescription-grade form of natural, active B-vitamins. She agreed there would be no harm to me taking them and wrote me a script. I also switched to a MTHFR-friendly prenatal that would work well for people with and without MTHFR.

If you’ve been diagnosed with MTHFR, I would highly recommend you doing a little research of your own. I started with this website, and this one, too. Or, you can always e-mail me. I’m happy to chat!

5. Added Progesterone
Although I never tested low for progesterone in my second pregnancy (we didn’t test with the first) my doctor and I decided to err on the safe side and supplement the pregnancy with progesterone during the first trimester. She prescribed twice daily progesterone suppositories that were a total pain to take, but worth the peace of mind knowing I was doing everything I could to help this baby grow strong and healthy. I stopped taking the progesterone at 12 weeks, which made me nervous, but my doctor assured me that it was perfectly safe.

I have had this post written in my “drafts” folder for a long time, but I got another e-mail this morning from a friend with questions about getting pregnant, and it gave me the push I needed to hit “publish.” If you have any questions or I can be of any other help, I’m happy to chat!

Madison

*I am not a doctor or medical professional. This is simply what worked for us, but as always, please consult your medical professionals about any lifestyle modifications and medications when trying to get pregnant. 

madiandjoe

*First note of business: I’m terribly sorry for the lack of recipe posts lately. Just when I thought I was starting to feel better, I got hit with another round of morning sickness that has prevented me from making almost anything worth blogging about in the kitchen. I’ve been on a steady diet of sandwiches, smoothies and cereal, but I’m looking forward to *hopefully* feeling better soon so I can start cooking with more regularity! 

We are, with this little miracle baby, inching closer and closer to the end of the first trimester. Can you believe it? Because I certainly can’t. Standing in the kitchen two nights ago after our 11 week appointment, I was brought to tears thinking about how close we came to throwing in the towel on this pregnancy and moving forward with the D&C. But, despite everything we were told we are, by the grace of God, still here, moving forward day-by-day with the pregnancy our doctors said wouldn’t happen.

At our 11 week appointment on Monday we were able to hear our baby’s heartbeat on the doppler for the first time. We heard the heartbeat on the ultrasound a few other times, but for some reason using the doppler felt more real. And while those good appointments really do provide peace of mind, I find that the peace and reassurance is fleeting. Here I sit, two days later, wondering if everything is okay inside, praying continually that our baby’s heartbeat would continue to beat strong and that he/she would continue to grow and develop normally.

Part of this I’m sure is just a normal part of any pregnancy. What mother doesn’t worry a little bit? But as I was telling a friend last week, being pregnant after two miscarriages is not for the faint of heart. There is a deep fear, based in past experiences, that easily sneaks into everyday life if you’re not constantly on guard. Heck, even when I am constantly looking out for those negative, fearful thoughts they still creep back in.

This pregnancy in particular, with it’s rocky beginning and the fact that it’s a pregnancy after two failed attempts, has been one of the most challenging and trying journeys. Of course I’m trilled to be pregnant, but when the worst case scenario has been reality in the past, it’s hard to walk through the day-to-day with ignorance or bliss. Each day of this pregnancy has been stepping out in faith, trusting that God’s plan is higher than my plan, and that He has planned for our little family to come together in just the right way.

I wish I could say that I’ve conquered my fears, but it’s a daily battle that I’m waging. Reminding myself that it’s out of my control and that the best I can do is take it day-by-day are two things that I’ve found to be the biggest help when my mind starts to wander. Although it’s scary to admit that I’m out of control, once I’ve accepted it it’s remarkably freeing.

Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Madison

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This week we went for a follow-up appointment at my OBGYN office for, you guessed it, yet another ultrasound. I’m thankful for so many opportunities to see our little one, but I’ll admit that the ultrasounds make me nervous and jittery and filled with all kinds of anxiety leading up to the appointment.

We were blessed, and maybe still a little surprised, to see another image of a healthy little baby, who is starting to look more and more like a baby every week. The ultrasound tech, who we’ve come to love, pointed out the head and showed us the spinal cord and the little flickering heartbeat. We even saw our baby move for just a second. Crazy! The little jellybean was measuring right on track, once again, with a heartbeat that had gotten quite a bit faster from our last appointment.

So now we’re entering into uncharted territory, and I find it a little scary. Entering into our 8th week soon will be the longest we’ve ever made it with a pregnancy (though we didn’t find that out last time until the 12th week). Most of the time I feel a lot of peace, much more peace than I’ve felt with either of our two previous pregnancies, which I find strange and wonderful. But sometimes I find my mind grasping onto old memories, feeling fearful of what we’ve experienced in the past, sometimes convinced that we’ll experience that same fate yet again.

I’ve been praying a lot lately, for other women who are on a difficult fertility journey, for our little baby’s heart and that it would continue beating, that our little one would love the Lord and would be a living example of the miracles that God does in our lives. I’ve found so many opportunities in the last few weeks to talk about my faith in a very real way, something that I will admit I was never all that great at in the past.

This week my doctor sat down with me after our ultrasound, all our various scans printed out on a sheet of paper, and said that she was unable to explain how what we saw at 5 weeks turned into what we saw at 7 weeks. You could tell that science was failing her in explaining what had happened, and she seemed very cautious about this pregnancy. And believe me, I get it and I understand her questions. If I didn’t have faith myself, I’m not sure how I would explain it, either. But instead of feeling cautious and fearful, I’m diving headfirst into the scary waters of the next four weeks. Sometimes those four weeks feel like a mountain! Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to get through the next four weeks, with all the uncertainty and questions and our scary past. But when I think about our God, who cares for us and looks over us, knowing exactly what we need, I find a little more peace. One day at a time, Joe and I are stepping out in faith, trusting to walk down a road not knowing where it leads.

Our doctor offered to do another ultrasound next week, the day before we leave on vacation. I decided to pass, not wanting to risk ruining our vacation in any way with bad news, so we are going to have our next ultrasound two weeks from today, on August 1st. We’ll be about 9 1/2 weeks at that appointment. I can hardly believe it!

With two ultrasounds that have been positive under our belt, it might seem like we’re doing good and it’s smooth sailing going forward. But may I continue to ask for your prayers? If anything, I feel like the next four weeks are going to be the biggest hurdle of all, and the hardest path to walk down. Your continued prayers for the sustained life of our very loved baby would be greatly appreciated.

Madison

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Last night was  a restless night of sleep. As much as I wanted to go into a deep sleep, I kept waking up, tossing and turning, wondering what the next morning would hold. Would we see our little baby on the ultrasound, healthy and heart beating? Or would I be sent to surgery immediately after and spending the rest of the day recovering on the couch, piecing together a broken heart?

I want to be clear that whatever the outcome was going to be today, that it doesn’t change the fact that our God is a good god who loves us and knows what is best for us, even when it’s scary, hard and confusing. This isn’t just, “God gave me what I wanted, so I’m going to give Him the praise.” No matter the outcome, we would be praising Him all the same. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t desperately praying for a miracle that went against every bit of medical advice we were given just a week ago.

It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in my life, to hear the ultrasound tech tell us, “I see a baby,” followed by, “Oh, my gosh, I see a heartbeat, too!” Our little baby was there, heartbeat flickering on the ultrasound, measuring 6 weeks 3 days, exactly on track with my calculations. See that little zig-zag on the bottom of the ultrasound picture? That’s the heartbeat!

We have a long way to go, and if I think about it too hard the next 5 1/2 weeks seem incredibly scary. We’ve heard a healthy heartbeat before, only to have that good news followed by heartbreak weeks later. The next few weeks we will continue to be monitored closely. I think this baby is going to have more pictures by 12 weeks than most full-term babies! And although the road seems long and paved with uncertainty, I am trusting in God’s plan. And I would appreciate more than anything your continued prayers as we go into uncharted waters in the weeks to come.

But for now, praise be to God! Know that if you lifted up a prayer for us in the last week, I believe with every fiber of my being that you had a hand in helping this baby get this far. God heard us, and He answered our prayers today! I know it doesn’t always work out that way, but Joe and I are both rejoicing. Thank you for your support, your prayers, emails, comments, texts and general love. We’ve felt so supported and surrounded, knowing that when we are too weak or weary to pray, others are praying on our behalf.

Madison

 

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First, thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Although things don’t look good, knowing we are being lifted up in prayer by so many people, including friends we’ve never met in person, absolutely humbles me. Sometimes thinking about it brings me to tears and I feel so undeserving of those prayers. Would I respond in kind if I were on the other side? I hope that I do when given the opportunity.

My tendency is to tie things up in a neat little package, to use the right words and put our pain in a box that’s easy to explain and talk about. But infertility and recurrent miscarriage don’t fit into a neat little box; those type of things exhaust you physically and mentally and you find yourself hit like a ton a bricks during everyday moments when you least expect it. I’m weary and absolutely exhausted. I’ve been pregnant three times in the last 12 months, meaning I’ve been pregnant for over 24 weeks total with nothing to show other than pain, exhaustion, a lot of tears and pretty regular medical bills.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to God, asking Him lots of questions I didn’t really expect Him to answer. There has been yelling and wrestling with Him, wanting an explanation as to why in the world this would be part of His plan for our lives. Sometimes, if I’m being totally honest, it’s made me feel abandoned and unloved and questioned whether I’ve done something to anger God unlike all those women with healthy babies.

Of course, in my moments of greater clarity I realize that this isn’t about punishment but about refinement and growth, that we all go through trials at one point or another, and that it’s God’s way of growing us in the deepest of ways. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that it’s okay to question God and ask Him hard questions; it’s okay to be real with our heavenly father.

Although I’m weary, I think it’s so important not to lose perspective or make having children some type of idol in my life. Infertility can so easily become an obsession, an all-consuming game of temperature taking and ovulation strips and two week waiting periods and fear-filled first trimesters. Joe and I have so much. Truly. And sometimes those blessings get overlooked in search of the “next great thing” which, in this case, happens to be a baby.

Is God enough for me? If Joe and I never get the babies that we so desire is God enough? Are His promises and His word still true to me? The answer needs to be yes.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the last few days two people have brought to mind Lamentations 3, yet again. It was the verse I read time and time again after our second miscarriage, and what I have been meditating on this time around, too. So for those of you who are weary like me, who feel exhausted and drained in the deepest of ways, take heart! The Lord our God is a compassionate and loving father and these trials we are going through are not in vain:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

*Know that if you’re going through something similar and need prayer, please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail. I’ve found over the past year that it helps when I take the focus away from myself and pray for the needs of others. 

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