Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bump In the Road

Well, I survived. And to be honest - it wasn't as horrible as I had prepared for. I arrived about twenty minutes early so that I could sit in the waiting room a minute and be forced to act rationally. Most doctor's offices have tiny, overly crowded, hot, stinky lobbies - accept this one. It's huge and cold with plenty of seats. As I walked in the room, a loud TV in the corner roared with the sounds of laughter. Ellen was on - how could anyone have anxiety with Ellen on the television? I took a seat in an area by myself and thumbed through the new Parents I just received in the mail this morning. One woman on the other side of the room complained about someones Cadillac taking two parking spots. Wonderful.

When my name was called, the anxiety kicked in. GET IT TOGETHER WIMPY MOM!! Now this room was tiny, claustrophobic. The little Russian man who would be conducting the ultrasound instructed me to remove everything from the waist up and put on the paper blouse. He informed me we would be preforming an ultrasound of my heart as well as my thyroid. Routine check-ups, he explained. He instructed me to lay on my left side with my left hand holding up my head. And then came the ultrasound machine. Little, un-alarming, quiet - the machine looked harmless enough. So why did my wimpy mom heart skip a beat?

And this is when things flipped a switch. Mr. Russia asked if I could hold my left breast up so that he could hold the ultrasound wand under my breast. Excuse me? Now, remember that I had nothing on under my paper blouse. When he saw the look of confusion in my eyes, his cheeks flushed and it all became crystal clear - Mr. Russia was more nervous than me. What a relief! From this point on, I decided to focus my attention and energy on making Mr. Russia as comfortable as I could by keeping all my body parts covered.

The heart ultrasound went fine - less than 10 minutes passed and he told me my ticker looked great. He checked it from three angles: from the front of my chest, just slightly to the left of my sternum, then from under my left breast, and then up through my stomach (I know - strange). I was so distracted by trying to keep Mr. Russia's cheeks from burning that the sound of a heart beating through the ultrasound machine only caught my breath once. Thank god for being half naked. 

Example of a thyroid ultrasound - while fully clothed.
Then came time for the thyroid ultrasound. I was asked to tilt my chin towards the ceiling to expose as much of my neck as possible. And as soon as the ultrasound wand touched the right side of my trachea, I knew something was wrong. I felt as though Mr. Russia was choking me with the wand, pushing it so hard into my neck that it was gagging me. I quickly asked Mr. Russia if there was something wrong, and he quietly informed me that there was a "bump" on the right side of my thyroid gland. A... bump? What the hell did that mean? I asked him how big it was and he kindly informed me that my doctor would have to give me that information. I let him know I was uncomfortable and he finished quickly, informing me that the left side of my thyroid was "bump free". He left the room after instructing me to get dressed. 

When the door shut, I stood and dressed quickly. All I could think about was how quick could I get to the check out desk so that I could schedule the first appointment available with my GP. I opened the door with a vengeance and was about to leave without  my paperwork. Mr. Russia gave me a nervous nod of the head for goodbye as I rushed out the door.

The "Bump"

The woman at the check out counter asked me to sign the paperwork and let me know I was good to go and the doctor would call me. Without thinking twice, I barked out what Mr. Russia had told me about the "bump" and asked when I could schedule a time to see my doctor. I guess the wimpy mom took a break for a moment because the look on the woman's face let me know I was being rather abrupt. I smiled gently in apology and let her know that I was trying to conceive and didn't want to waste any time if there was something wrong. Kindness never returned to her face, but she informed me that it would take a week for the results to come back so we scheduled an appointment for exactly seven days from today.

As soon as the door to my Durango was shut, the questions starting running through my mind like a movie reel. Does this mean I am having hormone issues? Could this have been a contributing factor to my miscarriage? Would I need to be on daily medication for the rest of my life? Could it be cancerous? I couldn't drive home fast enough in order to get onto the computer to do some research. I called my husband and let him know what was going on and he gently said we would figure it out (his favorite motto). I suppose he was right - what else was there to do other than to "figure it out"?

Monday morning I have an appointment with my OB/GYN. I had the appointment scheduled already to discuss my conception attempts. I now have a whole new list of questions I have neatly scribbled onto a piece of paper from a Hello Kitty notepad.

For now, I wait. I think I will take my children to see the mermaids this weekend. I could use a little magic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testing, Testing... 1 2 3...

Since the loss of the baby, I think I have seen five doctors, had 21 vials of blood drawn, and still have no answers as to why my baby had to die. (I'm sorry if that was harsh, but it is true.) When I first had the miscarriage, I bought books about how to handle the loss of a child, what to expect during the physical healing process, and how to make my way through the emotional and psychological healing. I bought books like "Empty Arms" something or other and "Trying Again". All I wanted was to feel normal - to know that other women had been through what I went through and came out on the other end ALIVE. Probably not the best idea. Instead of learning that I am not the only to suffer such a devastating loss, I learned that LOTS of other women had suffered losses two or three times more gut-wrenching than mine. A crazy 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage and that is based on the losses that have been documented. I learned about all the horrible things that could go wrong - not very beneficial when you are trying to lower your anxiety levels about having another baby.

Since discovering that I suffer from Factor V, I have been on edge about blood clots. Thrombosis - the bane of my existence. Although I have never (knock on anything wood please) suffered from a clot, my grandmother has and I am at a much higher risk. So what does a freak like me do after being diagnosed? I overdue it on the research to find out anything and everything I can about thrombophelia and how to protect myself from it's ugly symptoms. I saw two hematologists to learn about the blood disorder and how to prevent complications. I was told to immediately start on a baby Aspirin regimen and use the Lovenox while pregnant. Easy enough, right? (Did you Google the Lovenox shot yet? You answer that question for yourself when you do.)

Not so much. Instead of feeling better about what to expect and what could happen, I read about the symptoms of clots and what happens if you don't seek help. Great plan Tiffany - well done!

About a month ago I began having pain in my left calf. Oh no, wimpy mom is coming out. Instead of thinking, hey, this might just be muscle pain or I need to eat more bananas, I made an appointment to have a leg ultrasound in order to rule out DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Luckily for me, I am free and clear of any abnormal blood interactions in my legs! PHEW! However, the doctor says, your other symptoms lead me to believe there is something else going on. Hypothyroidism.

Oh boy. Really? Did I pass a point on the gameboard of Life where my body falls apart? Because if so, give me the card that sends me three spaces back!! HYPOTHYROIDISM! What the hell is that?! So there I went, BACK on the research mission from hell. But wait - I find there is a link between this ill-fated hormone interruption and miscarriage. Really?

So doc orders more blood work and an ultrasound of my thyroid.

Now, to most, an ultrasound would sound like nothing. Doesn't hurt, doesn't take long, isn't invasive. However, to a mother who had a prenatal ultrasound without a fetal heartbeat, ultrasounds are terrifying. When I had my leg ultrasound last week, I was so worked up about the potentiality of a clot, I didn't think twice about it. Until I left. Then the memories sunk in like shot of tequila swallowed ten minutes earlier. And here I was - having to do it again.

Well, let me say, this wimpy mom may have a panic attack when I think about peeing on a stick, or walking into my OB/GYN's office, or ever using a Doppler again. But I am going to suck it up on Thursday when I sit down for the thyroid ultrasound. I went today for the blood work (fasting SUCKS by the way). That was the easy part.

Before the loss, I never questioned my body's ability to conceive and to carry a healthy baby. I never through there was a need for pre-conception genetic testing or random ultrasounds to check normal bodily functions. However, I get a gut feeling that from this point on, I will be begging for any test that will ensure a healthy and happy baby for the Clyne family. Let the testing begin.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Good Night Moon...

Two eyes that shine so bright
Two lips that kiss goodnight

Mikayla, 5 months old
Two arms that hold me tight
That little girl of mine.

No one will ever know
What her coming has meant
She's surely something
Heaven has sent.

As she climbs upon my knee
She means the world to me
As cute as she can be
That little girl of mine.

My mommy used to sing that song to me when I was little. Now I hear, "Mommy, will you sing me the little girl song?" every night when I lay Mikayla down for bed. After the bath has been taken, the teeth have been brushed, the books have been read, and every living creature in our house has been kissed goodnight, it is time to sing the little girl song. I will never forget how warm and fuzzy I felt when that melody was sung to me; I hope she never tires of my serenade.

There has been so much support tonight, I am in shock. So many people reminding me to grab hold of the wimp and stand tall. Thank you. I created the blog for women like you - the strong women, the women who have been there, the women who are going to be my crutch through this long journey. Thank you all for your support. I pray I find a map soon.

INTRODUCING - a wimpy mom!

Yes, that's me. I am Tiffany, and I am a wimpy mom. I know, I know, how dare I give myself such a negative label. But let's be honest; I'm pretty wimpy. Sure, I have no problem with blood or boogers or vomit - but when it comes to trying to have another baby, I am Queen Wimp herself. "Well, you're already a mom - how can you be so scared of something you've already done?" you may be asking yourself. I suppose a little back story is necessary for complete understanding.

Yes, I am a mom of two beautiful children. And when I say beautiful, I am not just being bias. My daughter, 4 1/2, is the most gorgeous little redhead you will ever lay your eyes on. Her heart is the kindest, most sensitive of any child I've ever met. And brains? Man, I could write an entire novel on those. My son, 2 1/2, is handsome, strong, hilarious and the love of my life. He should bottle his charisma and sell it for fortunes. As parents, my husband and I score high on the granola-meter and raise our children outside of the box most of the time. But again, we could write a novel on that one.

In some ways, I am a very strong mom. I teach my children to respect others by first respecting themselves. I teach them to listen to their own hearts first before the words of others. And most importantly, I teach them to believe in themselves and relish in the sweet victory of personal accomplishments.

The wimpiness really didn't set in until February of this year. In November 2010, my husband and I found out we were expecting our third marvelous child. We couldn't have been happier. Although we had planned this child a little more than we had the others (OK, entirely more than we planned our son) it took a little longer than usual for us to conceive. But we did! The pregnancy was normal and healthy as far as anyone knew. As a certified birth doula, I made the decision to have this baby naturally without any unnecessary medical interventions. However, that dream was shattered in late February at a routine prenatal visit.

When the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat, we were under the impression this was nothing to worry about and it happened sometimes; faulty doppler. When the ultrasound tech said the baby was gone, we were under the impression we were dreaming. And when our daughter asked why Heaven needed the baby more than we did, we realized we had a long, sad road in front of us.
Friday we were told the baby was gone and the following Tuesday I had the surgery finalizing the end of my pregnancy. It was the longest four days of my life. Not to mention my poor daughter, who was trying to understand what was happening to her family, celebrated her fourth birthday on that Saturday. Looking at pictures, I feel as though I wasn't even there. 
We never got an answer as to why we lost our baby. At sixteen weeks, it was called a second-trimester miscarriage; something uncommon, but very possible. Without explanations and without closure, I didn't know how to begin the healing process. Today, seven months later, I still wonder if I will ever really be over it.

Our angel baby did more than just remind us to appreciate life's little miracles; we learned that I suffer from blood disorders that can cause some complications with pregnancy. I suffer from a thrombophelia called Factor V Leiden as well as two forms of MTHFR. I am not going to get into the mechanics of these disorders, but in layman's terms, I am at a higher risk of having a blood clot and even higher risk while I am pregnant. Who knew? Now, I am not the first nor will I be the last to be diagnosed with these mutations; thousands of women suffer from these daily and carry perfectly healthy, term pregnancies. Maybe I can be one of them?

We are now up to the wimpy mom part. I want to try again - desperately. My family is not complete and I am not ready to give up on my dreams of four children. But man, I am really scared. Really, really scared. (Hence, the wimpy part.) In order to have a healthy pregnancy, my doctor suggests that I take a daily injection of a blood-thinner known as Lovenox. This daily shot is purposed to prevent blood clotting associated with the thrombophelia I suffer from. I encourage you to Google Lovenox and take a look at what the shot looks like - you would be a wimpy mom too.

It is September and we are in month 3 of trying to conceive again. Most days I am able to wake up in the morning and remind myself that I am brave and I can do this. I repeat the lines from an Adele song... "... next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior...". But will I? I envision myself looking at a positive pregnancy test - try to imagine how I will feel - and I come up empty. Will I cry with excitement? Will my chest hurt with anxiety? Probably a mix of both. Hopefully I will find out soon.

So here I am - writing on this blog - hoping that some other BRAVE, STRONG, TOUGH, ENCOURAGING moms out there will help this wimpy mom through. I am embarking on an unknown travel through a very dark forest, hoping to find magic - can you help me?