Hello again. I hope that you all had a nice Christmas and a good New Years. I have some news. First, right around Christmas (when, by the way, I had a bad respiratory infection), I discovered that I was pregnant, unexpectedly and unplanned. Pregnancy #7.
Of course, I was apprehensive, given my track record, but also thankful to God for this new life, and the hope and chance, however slim, of bringing it into the world. Because I hadn't been trying to become pregnant, I hadn't been taking progesterone supplements as I otherwise would have. To be honest, I was expecting a chemical pregnancy. At times, I was experiencing some brown spotting. My husband and I both felt like we didn't want to share the news with anyone until I was much farther along, God willing. I trusted in God to either help my to have the baby or to give me the strength to deal with another loss, and I felt some peace. I didn't feel any need to write about it or talk about it. I felt badly that I have dragged people through my miscarriage dramas so many times already. We didn't tell anyone.
I also just couldn't face getting betas, and I decided not to get on the roller coaster of weekly ultrasounds. I didn't even contact my doctor. Since we know from repeated HSGs that my fallopian tubes are wide open and that I am at no particular risk for an ectopic pregnancy, I couldn't think of any medical necessity for getting the betas and the early ultrasounds. I think they are mainly prescribed for recurrent miscarriers as a means of TLC and reassurance, but they do nothing to reassure me and only serve to make my stress level shoot through the roof. I have had great betas and still miscarried. I have had great ultrasounds and have seen babies' heartbeats and still miscarried. I find no reassurance in betas or ultrasounds, and in my last pregnancy I remember feeling so stressed about them that I had trouble breathing. Either a pregnancy is going to work out or it isn't; in my experience, the medical profession has offered me nothing to prevent a first trimester miscarriage. Also, after the complications that I had with my last D&C and the lack of conclusive results on chromosomal testing of the baby, I am not now particularly inclined to choose a D&C over miscarrying naturally. I decided that ignorance was bliss, and I would assume that everything was okay unless red bleeding or cramping alerted me otherwise.
The days continued to go by, and my pregnancy symptoms increased (sore breasts, loss of appetite, some nausea, fatigue). The symptoms weren't as strong or as debilitating as they were in my most recent pregnancy last summer, but they were strong enough that it was making it harder to keep up my normal schedule. Going back to work after the holidays (while still battling the last remnants of the respiratory infection) was difficult, but I kept plugging along.
I prayed often and fervently, begging to be able to carry this baby to term and give birth to it, to get to know it, to raise my child, but telling God that I trust him and will accept his perfect will no matter what it is. I was acutely aware that I have no control over the outcome of the pregnancy, and I kept saying to myself "I am letting go, and letting God. He will take care of me, no matter what the outcome."
Then, last Wednesday evening I was at home, and during a trip to the bathroom I discovered bright red bleeding. Definitely more than spotting. I wasn't surprised, but I was sad. I didn't have any pain or cramps, but I figured it was the beginning of the end of the pregnancy. I told my husband and wept quietly in his arms. I actually felt some measure of peace was able to sleep well that night. In the morning when I got up to go to the bathroom, I was surprised to find that the bleeding had miraculously stopped. There was no bood on the pad that I put on right before going to bed, only some slight reddish brown spotting on the toilet paper. Thankful but puzzled, I called my OB/GYN for an appointment. They got me in that morning and did an ultrasound.
Due to being crazy busy at work in December and working long hours and weekends, I remembered that there was only one time mid-cycle when I possibly could have conceived, and I noted the date. I must have ovulated almost a week later than normal. Therefore, although on the day of the ultrasound I was six weeks, five days from my last period, I was expecting that, if I hadn't miscarried, the baby would measure right around six weeks. I completely expected to have miscarried, though, and was looking for the ultrasound to confirm it.
Instead, the ultrasound revealed a yolk sac and fetal pole measuring right around six weeks, and the doctor thought she may have seen a heartbeat flickering, but it was inconclusive. It also revealed a dark spot in my uterus, a pool of blood that in actuality was about one millimeter across. A subchorionic hemorrhage, the source of my bleeding. It is not a good thing to have; it increases the risk of miscarriage and, if miscarriage is avoided, of some other serious complications that could result in stillbirth or other problems. It's not a good thing to have, but it also does not necessarily spell doom. Sometimes they resolve on their own, early. The doctor was hopeful and upbeat and said, "It's still very possible that this pregnancy could work out for you." She asked me to come in again in a week to monitor the growth of the baby and the status of the hemorrhage. She said to contact her if I have cramping or more red bleeding that doesn't stop relatively quickly.
I left the ultrasound feeling extremely grateful that the pregnancy still had a chance, but also a bit shell shocked. From past experience I know that the farther the pregnancy progresses, the higher the stakes and the harder it is for me, emotionally and physically, to miscarry. I resolved to keep trusting God, but I must admit that the red bleeding and the knowledge of the hemorrhage stole most of the peace I had been feeling about the pregnancy.
I came home to receive the news that one of my friends, who is a few years younger than I am and has been suffering from unexplained infertility for the past few years, had just found out that she probably has ovarian cancer. I felt sickened for her. Why, Lord? She is one of the sweetest, truly Christian people I have ever met, and I didn't want her to have to face such suffering.
I continued to have brownish spotting, which the doctor had told me to expect, and by Saturday (two days ago) I had just started to recover emotionally from the bleeding episode. My husband and I had dinner plans with one of my old friends from high school, and I decided to keep them. We had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, although I was queasy and couldn't eat much. I didn't tell my friend about the pregnancy; we still hadn't told anyone about it. After dinner, we went out for coffee and dessert. While drinking my decaf tea, I decided that I needed to go to the ladies' room. It is a restroom with only one sink and toilet, and if anyone is using it the whole thing is locked. Someone was in there; it seemed like forever. While I stood there, waiting, I felt something gush out of me. I silently panicked, as the cappucino machine whooshed an wailed and people chatted casually around me. It took a few more minutes for the bathroom to open up. I discovered bright red blood, again, more this time, and a clot. I felt shaken. It was surreal; was I losing my baby right here in the public restroom of the coffee shop?
I woozily walked out an told my husband and friend that I wasn't feeling well and needed to go home. Once there, I laid down on the couch, and my husband made me a cup of herbal tea. Periodically I went to the bathroom to monitor the bleeding. Again, it suddenly tapered off. There was no more overnight or in the morning. Just some brown spotting, old blood. I chalked it up to the hemorrhage again, not a miscarriage, but I worried for my baby.
The next morning, Sunday, yesterday, I felt exhausted. Not well enough to go to church, even. However, my nausea seemed a little less, which concerned me. By afternoon, I was feeling a bit better.
The day before I had called my friend who is facing the possible ovarian cancer diagnosis and asked her what I could do for her. She asked me to come visit her and pray with her, and we agreed that I would come over at 5:30. Shortly before I left for her house, my sister called to tell me that my 79-year old dad who lives three hours away was having shortness of breath, and she was taking him to the emergency room. They thought he was having a reaction to some new medication. What next?
I dithered temporarily about canceling my visit to my friend, but quickly considered what she is going through and resolved not to let her down. There was nothing at that point that I could do for my dad, anyway, but I told my sister to call me on my cell the minute they had news.
I arrived at my friend's house with a big, cheerful bouquet of flowers for her, and was saddened to see her looking so ill. She was wan, pale, and her abdomen was noticeably bloated. In my mind, I wailed "No, no, no!" We hugged and talked for a while, until we were interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone. I explained my dad's situation to her and took the call. It was my sister.
I was not prepared for what she was about to tell me.
At the emergency room, an X-ray performed on my dad's lungs showed both of his lungs filled with numerous nodules that to my sister looked like marbles. More testing and a biopsy is required to diagnose with 100% certainly, but....
It appeared clear to the attending physician that my dad has advanced lung cancer, and what's worse, it appears to have spread from somewhere else.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My eyes welled with tears. I choked out some questions without really registering the answers. I heard that my brother and his wife were on their way from out of state.
I confided to my sister my dilemma, of my pregnancy and bleeding and the higher risk of miscarriage that it entails. She told me that we can't tell my parents my news, not right now. They would worry about me, and they have enough on their plates.
I felt at a complete loss as to what to do. I wanted to jump in the car and drive straight to the hospital, but I also am very afraid due to my recurrent, frightening bleeding episodes that could turn into a full-blown miscarriage at any moment. I feel afraid to be on a driving trip, afraid to be away from my doctor, and it will only make it worse for everyone if I have a miscarriage at the hospital in the midst of my dad's cancer diagnosis. But I really want to be with him and my family.
My sister took charge and told me not to come right away, to talk to my doctor about it. She decided to tell my parents that that I am not feeling well and can't make the trip to be with them immediately, but that I will come as soon as I can.
I called my dad in his room and talked to him. He has already made it up in his mind that he is about to die. He kept saying that he has had a good life, not to worry about him, and that I am a good daughter and he loves me. He has been in such bad health for the past few years, with cardiac bypass surgery, hip replacement surgery, and more recently, debilitating chronic back, arm and hip pain that the doctors could not find a reason for (I suspect that the prostate cancer that he had treated seven years ago came back and spread to his bones, explaining his pain, and then spread to his lungs). He does not want to go through chemo, and probably not radiation, unless his prognosis is very good, and it most likely will not be good.
So this is probably how I am going to lose my dad. If so, it will not be an easy road for him or for any of us.
I fell asleep after crying profusely last night, but awoke at 1:30 to go to the bathroom and couldn't get back to sleep until about 5:00. My poor dad, my poor mother. She is just barely back on her feet after her cardiac bypass surgery in October and subsequent string of complications. When I talked with her on the phone, she just kept saying "I just can't believe it. This is like a nightmare."
Today I am waiting to talk with my OB/GYN to tell her about my weekend bleeding episode and seek her advice on what I should do regarding my travel plans. In the meantime, I don't feel nauseated and my breasts are losing their soreness. In the past, decreasing symptoms always have been a harbinger of miscarriage for me. I always have missed miscarriages, so my baby already could have died; I don't know.
My dad is in the hospital having more tests and waiting to see an oncologist. Hopefully by the end of the day we will know more, have a more definite diagnosis, perhaps a prognosis.
I am at a loss, and all I know to do is to cling to God, to take things bit by bit and to trust him to give me the strength to get through whatever I need to get through. I am praying for my dad, my family, my friend who is facing surgery and a biopsy for ovarian cancer this week, my baby, my husband, and myself. If you are the praying type, please add your prayers to mine.