I get asked ALL the time about pregnancy, Warner, & his defect (Gastroschisis), so I decided I would share our entire “baby” story. I will do it in multiple parts so I don’t have to leave out any details and you won’t have to read FORVER. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below!
A couple of years ago, I started seeing a new nephrologist (kidney doctor) in Northwest Arkansas for my Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). We went over my old scans, I had the blood work done that they require every appointment and he asked me if I had any physical complaints. I mentioned that I got a lot of headaches and sometimes my back ached. He informed me that the backache was normal, but the headaches worried him, as patients with my disease had a higher risk for brain aneurysm. I scheduled a head MRI and Jordan went with me, for moral support!
The nurse we had explained it would take 25-ish minutes and I would just need to remove all metal and be completely still. I figured I would catch a quick nap in the middle of my workday. He asked if I needed an eye mask or music, as some people get nervous in the machine. I said I was fine and crawled up. He said he could hear me in the other room and to let him know if I needed anything.
He started up the machine and I was pushed into the tube up to my shoulders. I felt pure panic. I started sweating, got nauseous, and screamed that I needed out. He rushed back in and asked what was wrong.. I couldn’t describe it and I am not claustrophobic; I was just scared. Not scared that something was wrong or that anything was going to happen, just an overall feeling of doom. He offered major anxiety medicine but said I wouldn’t be able to drive or work for the next day. I declined and he said “Do you need your husband”? I nodded as I started to cry.
Jordan removed his keys and watch, walked in, grabbed my hand, and was silent. The nurse gave me the eye mask and turned on some music. I was ready to try again, so he revved up the machine and sent me back in, Jordan still holding my hand. I spent the rest of the time wondering why I felt so panicked the first time around and towards the end I started feeling ill again. Jordan squeezed my hand and “Over the Rainbow” came on in the machine. That was one of my mom’s “songs” and instantly I felt at ease.
After the MRI we had to go to a waiting room while the disc was being printed to take back to my doctor. I was still feeling really emotional, I think partially because I was worried what the MRI might say and partially because I remember the hospital days when my mom was so sick with cancer. Jordan finally asked me how I was feeling and I didn’t say much. He, in a nutshell, said he hadn’t ever been through an experience like that and it was unsettling. We both agreed on that and Jordan said it made him feel like we should have kids sooner than we had planned. That was the extent of the conversation, but from that point on, “when we have a baby” came up a lot more frequently in our daily lives.
Now I have always been a little more morbid than most since my mom, Maria, died when she was 39 from Ovarian Cancer. Jordan knew I thought in a different way about things early on in our relationship. I revolve certain scenarios and build timelines around death. When talking about having kids I would say things like “You’ll be a good dad if I die” or “maybe we should have kids soon so they will be old enough to remember me when I’m gone”. I realize that sounds absolutely insane when I write it out, but it’s how my brain works.
I remember the evening Jordan and I decided we were ready to have a baby because it was my 26th birthday. We had been casually mentioning stuff like “when we have kids” more and more & on that night we were having sushi at Shogun when we finally came to the decision & had “the baby talk”! We were both hinting about it & this talk was kind of out of nowhere. We had always thought we would start trying when I turned 30 (making Jordan 32-33), but it just started to feel like the right time. We were both happy in our careers, had the space in our home, were financially prepared, & thought we knew exactly what we were signing up for! (Cue laughs from every parent, everywhere, in the history of parenting.)
With my PKD, and I knew the blood pressure medication I was taking wasn’t safe to be on when trying to conceive. The next day, I called my doctor to switch the medication to a pregnancy safe option. We waited a few weeks to make sure it was out of my system and then stopped preventing pregnancy.
I am sure many of you can relate, but “trying” to have a baby is SO stressful! I knew tons of people who got pregnant “on the first try” or “not even trying”! Which is great for everyone else, but when it’s been 3, 4, 5 months and you are pregnant, you start to worry if you’re broken.
After 5 months, we found out we were having a baby the second week of July! It was a Saturday and I took the test as soon as I woke up and ran SCREAMING into the bedroom and jumped on the bed to wake Jordan up! I took two more tests, just to be sure. Those first few days are hazy, aren’t they? Is this really happening? How do I quit drinking without anyone noticing? When should we tell our families and friends!?!
We had our 8 week appointment and everything was perfect! We saw the heartbeat and my hormone levels were perfect. I was due March 22!
I was already super nauseous, exhausted, & emotional- more emotional than usual, even! We waited until after the 8 week appointment before telling our close friends and immediate family members. Everyone was SO excited! Jordan and I are the oldest of the kids in our families and the first to have a baby- so everyone was going to become something new; aunts, uncles, grandparents, & great grandparents! We bought parenting books & I stopped drinking coffee & we were blissful!
We soaked in almost 2 weeks of being expectant parents with all of our loved ones before I started having light bleeding/spotting at almost 10 weeks pregnant. I was about to drive to Springfield that Saturday morning for a wedding shower & a 1st birthday party that weekend when I decided to call my OB’s office. They said I could wait until Monday to have an ultrasound for go to the Women’s Hospital ER if I needed to see someone then, but that spotting could be completely normal during early pregnancy!
I panicked and Jordan drove me to the Women’s Hospital ER. The mood was light- the ER doctor did a cervical exam and said he didn’t see anything abnormal or any bleeding. They decided to do an ultrasound to be safe. The ultrasound tech took photos and measurements with the machines on silent; apparently the doctors have to give all of the news in the ER so they wouldn’t turn the sound on for the heartbeat even though I kept asking. She was the same ultrasound tech I had at our 8 week appointment and she, smiling, had told me the baby looked wonderful and had a strong heartbeat. I had a bad feeling.
After waiting over an hour, our jolly doctor came in silently and said our baby no longer had a heartbeat & that he was very sorry. They said the baby had stopped growing a few days or so before (around 9.5 weeks gestation) & informed me that I had a bicornuate uterus, which may have caused low blood flow & been a reason for the miscarriage, aside from the “chromosomal abnormalities” reason that women often receive. I was beside myself- Jordan was hugging me and the doctor was saying it wasn’t my fault. I was getting shots? It’s all kind of a blur… I wanted to leave, but it was taking so long. He said it could take my body 6-8 weeks to “pass” the tissue and I could experience heavy bleeding & labor-like cramps.
I went home and slept for… I don’t know how long. Jordan called our families. I had an appointment that following Monday to “confirm the miscarriage”. While I would never say it out loud, the fact that they called it “confirming” gave me hope! Maybe the tech messed up. I read stories online; techs messed up all the time and babies were fine!
It was “confirmed” & I opted for a D&C, ASAP. We scheduled the D&C for the next morning.
As expected, it was AWFUL. I had the procedure at the Women’s Hospital and the place is COVERED in professional photos of families & their children. I cried to the nurses how uncomfortable it made me feel as I went through boxes and boxes of tissues. I realized most couples were there for happy occasions, like births & ultrasounds, but I wasn’t ready for it. I was hysterical the entire morning & they opted to put me in a private room because I couldn’t control myself and I think I was frightening all of the other women. I picked off all my nail polish and they gave me heavy anxiety medication, which did calm me down. I remember that morning so vividly, now that I am thinking about it.
That was one of the most miserable weeks for Jordan & I since we had been married. Neither of us knew what to do or say. I took the week off work & Jordan’s boss told him to stay with me. Jordan isn’t typically over-emotional, but I needed that from him. I am ALWAYS over-emotional and Jordan is so great at balancing me out; but not this time. I was a sobbing mess & Jordan was just quiet and blank. It was really hard to express what we were feeling verbally because it was the first time we had experienced this before. I just felt like such a failure. I know miscarriages, unfortunately, happen all the time, but most people don’t talk about it. I just felt like my body had failed me… women’s bodies are MADE to carry babies & mine didn’t!
Jordan kept telling me now that I had energy again, he wanted us to clean the house. I wanted to talk about the baby we just lost that was surgically removed from my body. Jordan just wanted the house clean. WHAT IS GOING ON, I thought? I was hysterical. For days, I laid on the floor in front of our bedroom box fan and sobbed until I didn’t have tears left. Jordan left me alone. I didn’t want to be left alone.
I finally snapped. He was sitting in the living room and I stopped my crying and was filled with rage. I screamed that I needed him to to say something, I needed him to talk about the baby, about the loss. Something switched in Jordan because then he screamed, too. Screamed that he had never had anyone die. Screamed that he didn’t know how to deal with the pain he was feeling. He cried and cried and cried and told me he didn’t want to talk about it because all he could think about was a dead baby. I had never seen him cry like that. We cried together and talked and hugged. We decided we would start trying again once we got the go ahead from my doctor. Then we cleaned the house and it felt good.
After the D&C, my OB-GYN told me to wait 3 periods before trying to conceive again. I had a checkup 4 weeks after the procedure and he asked me how I was doing emotionally. We discussed & he told me I seemed emotionally stable enough to start trying again, whenever we felt ready.
I had a normal period (sorry for all the period deets, male readers) in September. In October I started feeling pregnant again… I only knew because I had just been pregnant the month before. I knew my menstrual cycle may be off because of the miscarriage and D&C, but I always had regular periods and had been keeping track with an app while trying to get pregnant. My period didn’t come on the day I expected it, so I took a test: NEGATIVE. I took another 2 days later: NEGATIVE. Almost a week later, I still didn’t have a period. It was Halloween and Jordan and I were passing out candy and playing video games in the front bedroom. I went back to our room to grab something & saw the pregnancy tests & decided to give it another whirl. PREGNANT, woohoo! I sprinted to the front of the house, locked the door and turned off the porch light. Jordan, confused, asked if we were done passing out candy & I whipped out the pee stick, crying, of course!
I’ll stop there and post Part 2 in the coming weeks.
I had a lot of friends/coworkers that shared their miscarriage stories with me & that truly helped me feel less alone. The statistic for miscarriages is something terrible like 1 in 4. I know many of you have probably had a similar experience & I am SO sorry and I am, genuinely, here to vent (or drink) if you need an open ear. I will say, had I not had that miscarriage, we wouldn’t have Warner today & that is something I just cannot fathom. I’m not a religious person, but “everything happens for a reason” sure does ring true for this portion of my life.
All love & no sass, this time!