My template

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A confession

Can I make a confession? I guess I probably can because I've shared everything with all my readers over the past year.

I am scared, scared to death honestly, that something is going to go wrong with this pregnancy. It doesn't help that July 9 is coming up. That is the date when our nightmare last year started. It also doesn't help that I am now at the same point in this pregnancy as I was when our nightmare was taking place.

I even rationalize in my mind what I would do if something happened. I think, "Oh, I won't have to start all over again with a baby again," or "I won't have to do those middle of the night feedings," or "You've already been through the pain once; it won't be so bad again."

But then, I'll think about holding a healthy baby in my arms come November, and all those rationalizes flee. I honestly don't mind starting all over, and I loved the middle of the night feedings with Tessa. I have insomnia anyway. Being up all night is the norm for me. And, honestly, I really do think the pain of something happening twice just might break me.

Yesterday, when we made our ultrasound appointment, I thought about when we made it with Jenna. It was the last truly happy, worried free day I can remember. We made our appointment for Aug. 4, two days before my birthday. I was so excited to find out what we were carrying. Little did I know at that point I would know a lot sooner that our baby was a girl. I would get that news, along with something a whole lot worse.

I told myself at the beginning of the pregnancy I wouldn't get close to this baby and wouldn't invest any love for it until we knew the baby was healthy. But, I couldn't help it. I have gotten attached to this pregnancy.

I miss the carefree days before I knew what all could wrong. My cousin told me the other day that she thinks in this day and age we know too much, and I agree. I think I know even more because I'm friends with all the mommas who have lost babies, all to many different reasons.

Sometimes, I get so scared I get close to having a panic attack. Not quite, just a little bit of pulse racing. I always take a deep breath and get it back under control, so it's not really a big deal. It's just anxiety and worry getting the best of me.

I think it's normal, but has anyone else experienced this kind of fear?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Three more weeks

Today was a very in and out appointment. I peed in a cup like always, had my blood pressure taken and was weighed. I've gained two pounds, which is good. Dr. McGowen doesn't want me to gain too much.

We talked about some pain and pressure I had been having while on vacation, which she attributed to walking too much. I think it was probably that, too.

She felt around on my belly and said it felt just right and then listened for the heartbeat. She found it right away, thumping right along. I told her that I had found it with our at home doppler, and it ranged between 149 and 165, which she said was normal. I also told her about the flutterings I've been feeling, and she said that was good.

So then we moved on to talk about the big ultrasound. I knew she wouldn't give in on the 20 weeks, so I'm having to wait three weeks. I can handle that. At least I'm not having to wait four weeks like I was afraid. So, our appointment for the ultrasound is July 20. Dr. McGowen can't see us that day, so I'm going in the next day. That's fine with me. I don't want to wait another week, and Brian can't come unless it's on Monday.

By my calculations, I am 18 weeks today. At exactly 18 weeks with Jenna, we received our diagnosis from the FISH results. I'll never forget that day. Part of me knew what I was going to hear, but I was hoping it wouldn't be bad news. I carried my phone into an interview with me, an interview about a teenage girl who attended a Confederate girl's school re-enactment. I told them I was waiting for my amnio results. After Jenna died, she sent me a card and told me she remembered me having my phone with me that day.

Part of me really wants the ultrasound to get here, but another part dreads it because I am so scared something is going to be wrong. I've told Tessa we will take her, but what if something bad happens. I'm not sure I want her there for that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Will this paranoia ever go away?

I'm almost 18 weeks, and I go back to the doctor on Monday. We will be setting up my 20 week scan then. She will probably want to make me wait until my next appointment since they are going by what my first ultrasound said and not by when I think I ovulated for a due date. By their calculations, I will be about 17 weeks, four days on Monday.

I think I'm going to beg for one sooner than that. When we were pregnant with Tessa, we had the big ultrasound done at about 18 weeks, and they were pretty much able to see everything then. They weren't able to get a good shot of her heart then, but we just had another one later on.

I just don't think I can wait four more weeks to see the baby again. I haven't had an ultrasound since 12 weeks. I know it's standard procedure to go that long without one, but when you have lost a baby in the past and are high risk in some ways, you shouldn't have to wait 10 weeks without one.

I am just so afraid they are going to find something wrong on the ultrasound. So many people on my birth board have had their ultrasound already, and a few have had things show up on it. Others are getting their AFP test results back, which are showing positive. I'm doing everything I can to make them feel better, but in the end, all it does is make me paranoid.

I am determined to try to get over it though, because I remember how alone I felt after we got the diagnosis. No one else on my birth board was really going through a horrible prenatal diagnosis. The ones from that board were great, don't get me wrong, but they didn't know exactly what I was going through. I don't want anyone else to feel that way either, but it's so hard to read those posts because it makes my paranoia come to the surface.

One the good side, I have been feeling the baby move lately. I can't wait until Brian and Tessa can feel it too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back from vacation

We got back from our vacation on Thursday. We had a great time. It was really nice getting away, but it was also nice to come back home.

Our first day there, we went to the Rainforest Adventure Zoo. The inside of it was really cool, and we got to see a lot of neat animals. However, they promised an Aussie Walk-About, which was not very good at all. It only had one kangeroo, some Australian Dwarf Goats, an emu, some tortoises and birds. I was expecting more from what the Web site said. Overall, it was totally worth the money, so if you are going to be in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, go for it. For the three of us, it was only $25 after a $2 off per person coupon. Here are a few pictures.

Tessa wasn't scared of the snakes, but she was scared of the crocodiles.


Brian made friends with the cockatoos.


We next went to the Ripley's Aquarium, which is also totally worth the movie. Tessa had a blast, and we went through it twice.

Tessa posed as a diver.


The sawfish were the coolest fish ever.


The best part of the trip was also the cheapest part. We drove over to Cherokee, N.C., and visited the shops and saw some Cherokee dancers. They shared a little of their history and culture with us. Tessa got to dance with them and even had her face painted. If you go to Gatlinburg, driving to Cherokee is a must.

Here's Tessa doing one of the dances.


She loved getting her face painted.


Here is the finished product.


It was a great vacation overall. It didn't rain until our last night there. Every day was sunny and clear and not too hot. We didn't walk around Gatlinburg too much because I was really afraid of overdoing it, but it's mostly shops, so I'm kind of glad we didn't.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leaving tomorrow

We are planning to leave between 8 and 9 a.m. in the morning for Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Cherokee NC. Tessa is calling it our V-cation.

My cousin is keeping Rosie, our dog, while we are gone. I'm sure she'll have a great time because Kim has two small dogs of her own. We have to drop her off at my aunt's (Kim's mom) because she is working at a camp in the morning.

We are taking the scenic route to get there and are going to stop and look at waterfalls and mountain landscapes. We're going to take plenty of pictures.

Check-in time is at 2 p.m., our time, so we have decided to spend the afternoon in the hotel's heated pool. I know that will be fun. Brian and Tessa are going to spend some time in the hot tub, even though I can't. I know it will be fun for them.

Tuesday is going to be a very busy day. We're going to go to the Rainforest Adventures, which is sort of like a zoo, with exotic animals and even an Aussie Walk-About. I know it will be totally cool. After we are finished there, we will head to Gatlinburg for the Aquarium.

A friend on Facebook went to Gatlinburg this weekend, and she posted her pictures on there. I know it will be a great experience for us as Tessa loves aquatic animals.

Wednesday we are heading to Cherokee, NC and Maggie Valley. I can remember going there as a child with my family and visiting the Indian village. My mom bought me my first real piece of jewelry there when I was six years old, the same age as Tessa. It was a pretty little turquoise and silver ring, and I think I'm going to buy Tessa one, too, and start a tradition.

We are doing a zoo in Cherokee, which has native animals, including bears. They have a petting and feeding zoo there, too. Then, we are going to Santa Land, which also has a petting zoo. Tessa is going to get to feed reindeer and monkeys. This place also has some amusement park rides.

The rides are one reason we have decided not to go to Dollywood. I can't ride any of the rides, which I love. Tessa will not be able to ride them alone, and Brian hates amusement park rides. Plus, it is extremely expensive, and since we aren't going to be able to do all that much while there, we decided to go to less expensive places, which we can do more of.

I know we are going to have so much fun, but I am going to have to try not to overdo it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

10 months today

It was 10 months ago today that Jenna was born. She weighed 4.4 ounces and was six inches long.

I looked on a chart that gives estimates for the weight and length of a baby at certain gestational ages, and this new baby should be around 4.5 inches long and 3.53ounces. Another week and s/he will be bigger than Jenna every got to be.

Of course, this baby will do all kinds of things Jenna never got to do or did, and that really bothers me. Today, I bought another pack of diapers (thought about doing cloth but have decided it's really not for me) and some baby bottles, just in case. It made me sad to think about, because the only thing we had bought for Jenna was a pack and play.

Today, I was on the way to the store to pick up a few things, and a song came on the radio. It was that song by Tim McGraw "Live Like You Were Dying," and these lyrics just made me tear up:

"And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin' at the x-rays,
Talkin' 'bout the options and talkin' 'bout sweet time.
Asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end.
How's it hit ya, when you get that kind of news.
Man what ya do."

So, some of it doesn't fit. We didn't look at x-rays, just ultrasound pictures. But, getting the results was a moment that stopped me on a dime, and we spent nearly two weeks talking about options and time and what we needed to do. I realize the song is talking about a terminal diagnosis for the person himself, but this was a terminal diagnosis for our child.

It seems like so many things are bringing the memories back up these days: songs, dates, the fact I'm about to be 16 weeks which is when the nightmare all began with Jenna. Monday, we are leaving for our vacation. It will be our first trip away (besides Brian's parents' house) since we lost Jenna. It will be our first time in a hotel since that disastrous trip to Atlanta. I'm afraid of the memories it will trigger. Sometimes, I feel like I might have post-traumatic stress disorder, but the truth is, I do believe it's all normal.

Today also made me think about how I've changed in the last 10 months. A year ago at this time, I would have died before giving a speech before 10 people, let alone the 100 or more that were at the hearing I went to. Even though I was passionate about politics, I wasn't passionate enough about any issue to write to our representatives, and I wrote many, many letters this past year. I've learned to stand up for myself and tell others my opinion, even if it is different than what they believe in. I'm more compassionate, reaching out to those who are facing a poor prenatal diagnosis and don't know what to do.

Sometimes, I wonder whether all the pain has been worth it. If I could change it, would I go back and never gotten pregnant at all that time? I'll be honest. I wish Jenna could have been healthy and be here with us and I'd never been touched by Trisomy 18, but I'm proud of the changes I've made in my life, proud of who I am today, and I know it wouldn't have happened without me losing her.

So, I'm glad I had her in my life, even for just the short time she was here. As the Garth Brooks song says, "I could have missed the pain, but I'd had to miss...the dance," and as sad as it makes me, I'm glad Jenna had the chance to dance in my belly for nearly 21 weeks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

15 weeks and dreams

I am 15 weeks pregnant today, and I can remember vividly being 15 weeks with Jenna. I was looking forward to Fourth of July and my next doctor's appointment, which was going to be at 16 weeks.

I knew we would make our appointment for the big ultrasound at that appointment. We did make the appointment at 16 weeks, but we weren't able to keep it. Our gender ultrasound would have been Aug. 4, the day after we got back from our disastrous trip to Atlanta.

Fifteen weeks was the last happy time I had with Jenna's pregnancy. We had our 16 week appointment on a Monday, and then I got the call on Wednesday that the results from our AFP test came back positive. From there, our lives changed forever.

I guess it's just the deju vu feeling all over again. My next appointment will be a little farther along, at 18 weeks, but we will be making our gender appointment at that visit. Hopefully, we won't have to wait four more weeks, but we can get it done in two. I know I won't be having the AFP test done, but it still worries me. I just wish I could get to 20 weeks and 5 days. I know I will feel better after that.

It also doesn't help that I've been having dreams of losing this baby. I've had two so far. I don't really remember the first dream, just that I know the baby was gone. The second one happened at about 20-something weeks, but I don't remember the details. I also had a dream that my aunt, who is in her 60s and has had a hysterectomy, was pregnant. She was walking along, grabbed her stomach, and a tiny red baby (about the size Jenna was) fell out of her pants leg. It was just so strange.

I also dreamed I gained 150 pounds from one appointment to the next, so I know dreams don't have to be prophetic or mean anything. I know it's just my anxiety causing me to dream this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Career choices

I have made up my mind. I'm going back to school to finish my psychology degree and then my master's so I can be a licensed psychologist. I applied tonight for an online school, so I can do it all out of my home.

My long-term career goals are to go to work in an ob/gyn's office as a grief counselor for their patients, specializing in those who have had a second trimester lost or a loss due to a poor prenatal diagnosis.

Something else I have thought of doing is volunteering as a counselor at an abortion clinic to help women who have received a poor prenatal diagnosis. With CVS testing, some women find out earlier there is a problem, and those women can do it here in Tennessee. Of course, I don't know if that's even possible or not, but I might look into it.

At my first appointment this pregnancy with my ob/gyn, I mentioned I was thinking of going back to school to become a counselor to help women who have experienced this. She mentioned she would love to have someone in her office like that. It's where I got my idea.

I am very excited to be going back. It's going to cost a lot of money, as online schools are a lot more expensive than local ones, but I am willing to pay for the convenience to do it online. We are going to be using student loans, so we are going to be going back into debt. At least, it's for an education and not an expensive car.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Updates -- Abortion debates first, then risk factors

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I meant to do so earlier and need to do my seven things post from Jenn that I haven't had a chance to do so. I will try to get to that later this week.

I've spent the last three days debating abortion on babycenter. The murder of Dr. Tiller has caused a huge swell of posts about abortion, and I can't help but chime in, especially when it comes to late term abortions, since many (if not most) of them are done to due poor prenatal diagnosis.

His murder brings back so many memories of last year when I felt like I have no where to turn. I can't help but think that some women might not have any place to go now that he's gone and will be in the same situation I was in. It was hell for me, and I wouldn't want anyone else to go through it.

I was told by one poster that anyone who terminates a pregnancy due to a poor prenatal diagnosis is a murder of a the worst kind. I shared my story with her, why I feel the way I do, and asked some rather pointed questions. She later apologized and said my story made her think. She now thinks she might be wrong about terminations for poor prenatal diagnosis.

Her changing her mind is one of the chief reasons I am speaking out against it. If I could make someone see that those who want to spare their child a life of pain aren't monsters or evil or want all people who receive a poor prenatal diagnosis to terminate, I will have done something good. When I speak out for a woman to have the right to choose, I am speaking out about the right to choose to terminate but also about the right not to terminate.

I'm not sure if anyone who decided to carry to term for a poor prenatal diagnosis reads my blog, but I just wanted to say I respect your decision to do so and will fight just as strongly for your right to do so as I am for the right not to carry to term and terminate. I've been on both sides of this equation.

I am definitely going back to school next year to finish my degree in psychology and then get my masters, so I can be a therapist. I've decided I would like to counsel women who have received a poor prenatal diagnosis or lost a baby. Since I've made the decision to terminate, came about as close as you can get to terminating without actually doing so, and then having to attempt to carry to term, I think I would probably be able to offer those women advice and help from all aspects. I've given it a lot of thought, and women who receive a poor diagnosis or have lost a baby are near and dear to my heart. I want to help them, and I think becoming a therapist would be the best way.

Anyway, on to some good things. I had my appointment with my regular ob/gyn yesterday. She read my report and said the ultrasound looked great. My risk factors are 1 in 99,000 for Trisomy 18 and 13 and 1 in 17,000 for Down Syndrome. She said if it was her, she wouldn't have the AFP test or the amnio. She wants me to have the 20-week ultrasound and decide from there, so that's what I'm going to do.