Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Names in the Sand

So my best friend, Kristen, passed along this website to me from someone in her family. This family in Australia lost their son and now write names in the sand on the beach for families that have also lost children. I thought this was so cool. I think I'm going to have to frame these...they're beautiful!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Doctor Appointment

I went in for a follow up appointment today with my doctor, since he was actually gone when I delivered. He talked to all of the doctors and nurses and got caught up on everything in the meantime. He was pretty surprised to learn that 'they almost lost me', as he put it and was even more surprised that they released me from the hospital so soon, especially after all of the blood transfusions. He also thought I looked really pale, so he sent me for more bloodwork and gave me a different prescription for iron. He recommended counseling as well, which I think is a good idea, but we are going to contact our church to see if they have any recommendations first, since we'd really like to see a counselor that has the same beliefs as we do. I'll go back in another 4 weeks for more bloodwork and to make sure that I am physically healing.

He also talked to us about future pregnancies, which may seem a little premature, but I did want to know what his thoughts were. He said I definitely need 3 months for my body to physically heal, which is also what I was told last time, so he said I could start trying again in February. Before I start trying, he is going to have me consult with a peri to make sure we are all on the same page with what to do next time. He said that his plan would be that I would get a preventative cerclage somewhere from 12-14 weeks and would then be on house/bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. In his 22 years of practice, he said he has never had a preventative cerclage fail and overall has only had only 1 cerclage fail, and it was an emergency cerclage placed after the woman had already started to dilate. He has also had women with IC pregnant with twins that had a successful cerclage and made it to term, which is good to know, in case I ever got pregnant with twins again.

This does help me think that someday we will come home with a baby but just thinking about being pregnant again really freaks me out. I have such mixed feelings because on one hand, I want to be pregnant right away and on another, I never want to be pregnant ever again. I remember all of these emotions from last time, so I guess I know what to expect. I know that someday I will be able to talk about my girls and smile instead of cry, I will be able to laugh and not feel guilty, and I will be able to think about the future and be hopeful, but today is not that day. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

11/6 Update

I decided that I will probably continue to update this blog, even though I may not have much to say. It could just turn into useless ramblings. Anyway, we came home from the hospital last night and it feels good to be home. The hospital monitored me overnight and all day and the doctor said everything looked good with me, so we could go home if we chose, or stay another night. We just wanted to get out of there.

Standing up and walking again after in being in bed for 11 days is really strange. My poor muscles barely work and it's really hard to walk still. It gets a little easier each time and I did attempt to take a shower this morning. I say attempt because it ended with me blacked out, but still conscious, on the shower floor. Good thing I called Rob in as I was blacking out and he got to me right after I slipped down the wall. I guess I can't stand for long periods of time yet. Anyway, better luck tomorrow. I'm physically feeling ok, considering. I'm still in pain and everything but they're got me on a few meds that are certainly helping. I also look and feel like death. I checked my full self out in the mirror yesterday when we got home and it was not a pretty all.

I know some people are also wanting to know if our losses were related, and medically speaking, they were not. We lost Makenna for unknown reasons and will probably never know. At 23 weeks, her heart just stopped and it was confirmed during an ultrasound after I didn't feel her moving after a day. 50% of stillbirths are unexplained, so we never really got any closure from losing her and never will. I was scared during this whole pregnancy thinking that maybe they would just die for no reason, but apparently I had other things to worry about. It turns out that I now have Incompetent Cervix (IC), which means my cervix dilated early and I started going into pre-term labor. This then caused Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM). With IC, this means that any future pregnancy will also be affected, so if I ever get pregnant again, I would need to have a cerclage (stitching the cervix closed) anywhere from 12-14 weeks pregnant and would be on some type of restricted activity or bedrest for the rest of the pregnancy. A cerclage is not 100% though and I could always go into pre-term labor again that could not be stopped and lose another baby.

We went to the funeral home today to 'make arrangements' and it brought back so many horrible memories. At least the funeral home was really great and they don't charge for infants, so all we had to pay was the fee for the death certificates. Other places were trying to charge us anywhere from $300-$2000 per baby for cremation. Unbelievable.

Today I have already gone through a rollercoaster of emotions. Everything from denial, to shock, to anger and sadness and I just remember how we're already done this all before. I am totally living out my worst nightmare all over again and I almost can't even comprehend it. I really truly believed with all of my heart that I was coming home with those little girls. It all just seems so unfair and I wonder how much can someone take? I know God doesn't give us more than we can handle and I wonder why in the world He thinks we can handle this. I pray that He will reveal to us why this happened, or at least show us the good that will come out of it. A verse from one of my favorite songs says 'the beauty of Grace is that it makes life not fair' and I try to remember that too. It seems like it shouldn't be too much to ask to just be able to bring home a baby. We want to be parents so bad and it's hard to see some people out there popping out kids like there's no tomorrow. It makes me very jealous. I'm also having irrational thoughts about what I could have done differently. I know this wasn't my fault, but I can't help but feel like me body keeps failing me. I just wonder how many babies my body is going to let die.

I feel a lot of uncertainty about everything in my life right now but I do know a few things. First, I know that God loves us and wants us to be happy. I know that He will be by our sides through all of this if we just let Him. Second, I know that all 3 of my girls are happy as can be in heaven playing together and they must be so beautiful. I just can't wait until I get to see them all again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

11/4-Delivery Day

I'm really not even sure how to say this, but I did want to give an update, especially before I forget any details. Both of our little girls were born today and are now in heaven with their sister.

Alexis's Story:
This afternoon, they couldn't stop my labor, but I was holding steady and they were doing regular monitoring. The plan was to still deliver Alexis and try to keep Ashlen in as long as possible. Alexis's heartbeat had started to waiver a little with contractions at one point, but the last time they checked it was going strong. Two hours later they couldn't find a heartbeat and then confirmed with an ultrasound that she had passed during labor. They immediately broke the bag of water that was still hanging and she was so low that after a few pushes, she was born. They cut the cord, put it back and hoped that the placenta did not deliver. My contractions stopped pretty quickly, so it was looking good and I wasn't bleeding that much. Then all of the sudden I started bleeding a huge amount and the doctor knew that we needed to deliver the placenta immediately to stop the bleeding. I didn't have any pain meds but he needed to work quickly to deliver the placenta because my blood pressure was dropping quickly. He basically had to use his hand to dig around and try to pull the placenta out, which I literally screamed bloody murder. They got an anethiesiologist in pretty quickly because he wasn't having luck getting the placenta out. At this point that also ordered 4cc's of blood for me stat. I had two working IV's in at the time, one in use, and one for this type of emergency. The anethiesiologist tried to give me a narcotic only to find out that both IV's literally just stopped working. It became a mad dash for two emergency IV's to be placed. They then wheeled me to an OR where the blood would arrive. By this time, I was in a ton of pain, had lost a ridiculous amount of blood and was going into shock. At one point I believe my blood pressure was somewhere around 80/40 (Rob corrected me and said my BP was in the mid 60's/40). I was shaking uncontrollably and was very cold. They were finally able to give me blood, which saved my life before I bled out and then gave me some narcotics so that my doctor could reach in and deliver the placenta. That is the last thing I remember for awhile. I woke up in a recovery room where I was being monitored for contractions. We were able to spend time with Alexis and take some pictures and she was beautiful. She weighed 14 oz and was 10 1/2 inches long.

Ashlen's Story:
A little bit after I was being monitored in recovery, I started to get the shakes, which they said was normal after delivery. My contractions started to pick up again and in no time I felt pressure and needed to push. They rushed the doctors and NICU team in and after few pushes, Ashlen was born. They whisked her away and Rob went with her and then I delivered the placenta. (Rob also corrected me on this and said a doctor with hands twice his size had to reach in and reposition Ashlen before I could push her out because she was coming out back first. He also pulled out the placenta immediately after I delivered her.) Rob returned with bad news. She was alive but had no chance for survival. She was just too small for them to even work on her and her skin was so thin they couldn't even warm her up. I couldn't leave, so they brought her to us to spend her last moments with us. She was just perfect looking and was a little bigger than her sister. She weighed 1 pound and was 11 inches long. We spent time with both of them together and took some pictures of them. They then took us to a private L&D room where we held Ashlen until her heart stopped, about 2 hours after she was born.

The hospital called in a volunteer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which is a great organization that takes pictures of your child after they have passed. It's a free service and I think they did a great job and can't wait to see the pictures. We are so devastated right now and I think that I am probably still in a little bit of shock. The girls are sleeping in our room tonight and we will contact a funeral home tomorrow to make arrangements, which is all too familiar. No one should have to bury 3 babies. While I am on this earth, I will never understand why this has happened to us again. Even though they did not survive, they are still my miracle babies and I was blessed every second of every day that I was pregnant with them. I am so grateful for every movement that I felt and that Rob was able to feel them too. I just find myself asking why this all couldn't have just happened a few short weeks later, and they would probably still be here or how this could have even happened. I truly thought that we would bring them home. It is hard to not be bitter or angry, but I am trying with all of my heart to just lean on Him. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and thank you so much for all of your support.

I also have to add that this is the single most devastating day of my life. I lost my baby girls, almost died, and it looks like Obama won. I really don't want to go back to work after this, so I may just quit my job and let Obama 'take care' of me, since he is spreading the wealth and all. Don't ask me why I have a sense of humor right now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

11/4 Update

Today's update is being typed by Rob, so I will do my best to transcribe what Jen is dictating without too many typos :) My lovely wife is laying flat on her back at a slight incline due to today's developments, and cannot be moving around much, so here goes:
Well, it looks like today might be the day, but we are still hoping and praying for more time. I am now on my third doctor (grrrrr...), since Doctor K is still on vacation and won't be back until Friday, and his back-up is now on vacation too. Not sure about the new doctor yet. He came in this morning and decided to do an internal exam, even though I told him that Doctor K was not doing them, and I told him that I did not want one; but he said that he would be "very careful" not to break my bag of waters. He said that the bag is extremely low in my birth canal, and his best guess is that I am anywhere from 6 cm dialated to fully dialated, and if that part of the sac breaks, she (Baby A) could just "fall out". He then announce that he thinks today is the day, and that I will probably deliver by tonight.

They immediately sent me to L&D, and I am now only allowed to have clear liquids. My contractions did pick up last night, and weren't too terrible, but as of this morning they are about four to nine minutes apart - but very small. They have already given me all the medicine they can to stop the contractions, so there isn't much else they can do on that front except to wait to deliver.

Baby A is breach, but the plan is to deliver vaginally, because that is the only way that we could possibly keep Baby B in longer. Once Baby A delivers, I will have a 24 hour waiting period where they will monitor me and hope that my cervix starts to close and I will stop having contractions. During this time, they will continue to give me antibiotics and continue my meds to stop contractions. After 24 hours, they will reasses the situation, and decide if they can put in an emergency cerclage and keep Baby B in longer. I will be at an even higher risk of infection at this time, since they will be leaving Baby A's placenta and cord inside.

The likelihood of all this happening they way we hoped for (keeping Baby B in) is less than 2%, as she may deliver immediately after Baby A. We are also praying that Baby A (and Baby B) are big enough to intubate, since in order for the NICU staff to rescusitate and/or keep them alive, they have to be big enough in size.

We have also chosen names for our two little girls: Baby A is now Alexis Cailen (Alexis means helper or defender and Cailen means pure or girl) and Baby B is now Ashlen Selah (Ashlen is a combination of Ashley - tree field and Lynn - from the lake, and Selah is a Hebrew name for a break in music or "to pause").

Monday, November 3, 2008

11/3 Update

Had a crazy night last night. I started having some contractions, which wasn't unusual, but had enough for them to give me a shot to stop them again. Instead of stopping as usual, they got more frequent and stronger. They gave me another shot along with another dose of my regular meds to stop contractions and it didn't seem to be working. Keep in mind that my temp was continuing to go up and I felt crappy and also, the side effects of the shot is a racing heart and anxiety. After all of this, I started losing a ton of blood...more than usual.

They decided to transfer me to labor and deliver, from the high risk maternity area that I'm normally in. They had already given me everything they could for the time being, so I couldn't get any more meds to stop the contractions and we just had to wait and see. After a few hours of contractions, they finally started to go away! They gave me another ultrasound to check positions and my dialation and Baby A is still breech, and is folded up with her butt down bumping my cervix and Baby B is still transverse, which means side to side, not up and down. The tech said it looks like my cervix is about 3.7cm dialated, so it's a little more than the 3cm that I was last Sunday. I was feeling pretty good until my nurse told me they just delivered a 21 weeker at only 4cm dialated. Thanks for that bit of information!

Anyway, I have lost so much blood over the last week that I am pretty anemic and with last night's episode, they decided that I needed a blood transfusion. I am currently getting 2cc of blood in me as I type. I haven't had any more contractions, which is great news, and I should be moving back to my old room soon and out of L&D. On a side note, I really feel like I was coming down with an infection, because I was starting to get all of the signs (elevated white blood cells, high temps, not feeling good), but all of the signs are completely gone at this point. Praise the Lord for that! Last night after I came to L&D, I was also really calm and just knew that I was not about to deliver. I just felt like it wasn't time yet, so I know God is letting me know He is here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

11/2 Update-22 weeks

The neonatologist came and talked with us last night and she was really great. Very warm and compassionate, unlike some of the peris here. She explained a lot and gave us realistic expectations. She did say she has never seen a 22 weeker survive, but that it does happen but said they usually do live for a few weeks. She said she personally knows a 15 year old girl that is completely healthy and was born at exactly 23 weeks. Once we get to 24 weeks, she said the survival rate goes from practically nothing up to 70%! That is way better than what I read. She also said the steroid shots do help significantly but are best at 24 weeks. I can get them at 23, but they don't have quite the same benefits, so if I seem stable at 23 weeks, I should consider going a little longer. We'll just have to wait and see on that.

Shesaid we also need to understand the risks and that we could have children with serious disabilities, and sometimes they won't even show up until 5 years or so. That's a risk we're going to take though. Rob got to tour the NICU last night and said it was really cool and full of tiny babies! He was really encouraged by what he saw.

Well, lastly, my temp does seem to be creeping up, which is a sign of infection, but not in the danger zone. My nurse said they aren't alarmed until around 100.4 (I think). I've always been in the 98's, but lately am in the 99's. They are checking my white blood cell count daily, which was fine this morning, and that is more definitive sign. We are just praying all the time for God to protect me and these girls and that infection stays away.

Oh, I promised early that I would post a pic. This is actually from a few days ago, but now I have my own room. What a difference that makes!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

11/1 Update

Wanted to let everyone know what happened last night. I started to have some lower back pain earlier in the day, but not too bad. Then, as the evening went on, it started to get worse. I started to feel a lot of low pressure in the front as well. The monitor said that I was having some contractions, so they gave me a shot that stops them completely. I'm also already on two different meds to help keep contractions away that I take regularly. With all of the pressure and her kicking so very low, I was convinced that Baby A was coming last night. My nurse even alerted the neonatal team, just in case. I think the shot helped calm things down and we made it through the night.

This morning I am still having a ton of back pain and some pressure in the front, but not as bad as last night. It's impossible to get comfortable, so I just flip from side to side (not as easy as it sounds) because being on my back, even tilted, is unbearable. Still haven't talked to the neonatologists, but someone is supposed to come by today to discuss what they can and can't do at this age. We did get a statistics sheet that talks about gestational age, survival rates, and the rates of serious long term disabilities. I hate statistics.

I just got off the monitor and had about 5 contractions in the last hour, so they are going to give me another shot. Hopefully it makes them stop. Anyway, please pray that Baby A stays in there!