The story so far – part two

Did you read part one first? If you’ve missed it, then this will make much more sense if you read it first: http://canibeamummynow.com/the-story-so-far-part-one/

So we had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks and there was Iz, floating around in an amniotic sea of loveliness with his little heartbeat flickering away. Cue joy, masses of joy. This little miracle here was worth testing my blood for, so very many times every day. He was worth not having sugar for – even if it meant I would never eat sugar again. He was worth giving up my favourite blue cheese. The sonographer printed out a little photo of our blob and I cherished that photo. I had day release from the hospital – I was still in there, trying to get my diabetes under control – so I had to go back there after my ultrasound, but I took that photo back with me and proudly showed all the nurses the photo of our blob. You would have thought it was the royal baby the way I was showing that photo to everyone who walked in the room. But I was proud.

But I was still scared. The next six weeks progressed pretty much as normal. I had bi-weekly appointments with the Dr Lovely, sending in reports at the end of every week with what I had been eating, and all my sugar levels. I also had appointments with Nurse Pushy – who was my designated Diabetes Educator – and who was supposed to be teaching me about diabetes and healthy eating, but really liked to spend more time telling Dr Lovely and Dr Awesome (my seriously awesome Endocrinologist) what my medication should be. I don’t see Nurse Pushy any longer – I stopped seeing her in January, when to be honest, I felt she could no longer help me. I found I got better information from the Internet than I did from her. I still checked my knickers all the time for blood, still convinced that I was going to lose Iz. I was a ball of stress – and how I did not miscarry from the stress, I do not know.

Then. Then came the day of our 12 week scan. I was petrified of this day. I’d had more scans between our 6 week scan and this one, I’d only just the week before had a quick scan on the small ultrasound machine the doctor surgery had, got to see Iz flipping his little legs around, but there was a week between that scan and this one. There’s always the chance that Iz’s heart had stopped between last week and this. We went into the scan and it was a new lady doing the ultrasound, someone I’d never had before – I used to always see the same man, he had done every single one of our ultrasounds – she had no idea what my nerves were like. We got in, and I just said, please show me the heartbeat first.

She was a little taken aback, but to be fair, she said nothing. I had the gel put on, the machine fired up and there was Iz, kicking his legs around. I didn’t need to breathe a sigh, I knew his heart was still beating away.

But I’d seen enough 12 week scan pictures in our baby group online by then, to know what sort of picture to expect. And what I was seeing, was not what I’d seen online. Where was that gorgeously rounded head and the cute little nose? I didn’t say anything, but something didn’t feel right (mother’s intuition starts from the moment you conceive – I truly believe that now). The sonographer was quiet, she took measurements, she checked the heart, the valves, the blood flow. Then she said, she needed to do an internal ultrasound. She couldn’t quite get a proper look at the baby’s head, and that would help.

So there started the internal – I’d had a lot by then, I’d lost my nerves and pride about things like that by now. Still, there was no rounded head. She was still quiet. Then she left the office and I started crying. The Man was quiet. He just said there’s nothing to be worried about. Stop worrying. She came back in and said that she was sending the report down to the doctor, and we needed to go and see them straight away. I asked her what it was, and she said she couldn’t tell me, just that there were problems with the baby’s head. Anymore than that, she couldn’t say – she wasn’t a doctor. Please, go straight to the doctors surgery.

We went to our doctor. I knew it was really bad when we got called in to Dr Slack. She said nothing, just waited for Dr Lovely to come in. When they were both in the room, Dr Slack gave us the news. Our Iz, had either a Cystic Hygroma or Anencephaly. I’d never heard of any of those things before. We asked what they were. A cystic hygroma it turns out, can be one of numerous types of abnormality – some are fatal, and some are not, but can cause disfigurement (I apologise if I have no explained this correctly, but I am not really up on the info about cystic hygromas). Anencephaly on the other hand is where the brain stem forms, but the main part of the brain – the thinking part of the brain – doesn’t form, and neither does the skull. Anencephaly is terminal. You may be able to carry a baby with anencephaly to term, and the baby may survive birth, but a baby with anencephaly will die. It just a question of when. They are quite often born blind, deaf, and will not understand or feel your touch. They are just existing.

But of course, at this stage, I knew none of this. All I knew is that our baby had one of these things. And then, Dr Slack said the thing to me, which makes me hate her to this day. She turns to me and says, that now she has to tell me something very hard. That this was more than likely her fault. Her fault for never having chased up on my high sugar readings I had nearly a year ago, when I first went to see her before getting pregnant with Moonlight. High sugar readings from a person who has told a doctor that they have a history of diabetes in their family. And they were never chased up on. I’d been walking around with diabetes for nearly a year by then – probably longer – I should never have conceived one child, let alone two. But for me, it was a slap in the face, that she found that the hardest part to tell me. Not that my baby had a potentially fatal problem, but that she hadn’t checked up on my results. NO Dr Slack. The hard part should have been you telling me that MY BABY WAS PROBABLY GOING TO DIE!!!! (I’m still not over it. I say it again, I hate this doctor so much and when I have to see her in town, it takes all my willpower not to slap her stupid).

We were sent to a large hospital in town for further ultrasounds and tests. I went home and Googled. Ahhh what did we do before Dr Google? The Man and I both decided that if it had to be anything, we would prefer it to be Anencephaly. Sounds harsh right? Go for the more drastic of the options, the fatal option, over the option which could still be a life giver? Our thoughts were though, that a cystic hygroma could be nothing, or it could be fatal. But we wouldn’t know for many weeks – weeks of living in limbo and not knowing if we should get attached to this baby growing in me, or keep our distance from it, waiting to see if Iz was going to die or not. With anencephaly – for us it was clear cut. We didn’t want our baby to suffer through a pregnancy and birth only to be given a death sentence and a life of no real living, just existing. For us, that was the only choice we could make. (Please, please everyone, realise that this was our choice. It is not the choice everyone makes, and there are many people who will carry anencephalic baby’s to term. That is their choice. Please be respectful of this choice on this blog). We had the ultrasounds, by specialists, the conferred with each other and then we were given the outcome. Iz had anencephaly. I think we already knew it by then. But to hear the actual words. That this little baby, who was kicking and waving his arms around inside of me didn’t have a brain was gut wrenching. I couldn’t put together the fact that Iz could move and had a beating heart, but didn’t have a brain. But it was definite. And today, when I look back over all my ultrasound photos (yes, I have them all, and I cherish them) I can see the lack of brain and skull.

So the next day, at the end of January, two days before our dear friends had their last little baby girl, we said goodbye to Iz. Our second pregnancy was over. Our baby was gone.

I went home and ate chocolate. Tim Tams, Mint Slice biscuits, anything that was shitful food – I ate. I just didn’t care. I had done everything right, everything I possibly could and still we had lost our precious little baby.

But I got help. I talked to a (new) counsellor, The Man and my friends. God help me if my friends hadn’t been there for me again. I got more help from them than I ever could have gotten from the counsellor. But this time, it wasn’t quite so easy to get over. Every day it felt like my heart shrivelled a little bit more and every day I would yearn to have Iz back again. I knew I couldn’t, but I wanted it so, so, so badly. Most days I would just paste a smile on my face, and fake my way through the day. I cried myself to sleep – a lot – I got really good at silent tears, so silent I still don’t think The Man realises how many nights I cried myself to sleep. I plodded along through life. Gradually, the smile became real, though there was always the fake smile, ready to replace it when the real one faltered.

We were given the go-ahead to try again. I had my sugar levels under great control again (I didn’t eat chocolate for long I should point out). So we tried.

And at the end of June, on a dreary Sunday morning there was a faint second line on my pregnancy test.

This time, there was no excitement. This time, I went down to The Man, showed him the stick and cried. And cried some more. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy – I was. But I was fearful. And I felt like I was cheating on Iz. That I shouldn’t be happy that I was having another baby. Mostly though, I just kept thinking this is wrong. I should be so heavily pregnant now, just a bare month away from delivering Iz, not starting out all over again with a new baby.

I went straight to see the psychologist on the Monday. She helped me put it into focus, I left a little happier. But still not entirely happy.

And on the Wednesday, when the blood started, it was like I had always known it was going to happen. That there was a reason that I hadn’t gotten excited or happy. I had just lost our third baby – this one we called Blip. (It is important to me, that all our babies have names. They are very real to me, even if I only knew about them for a few days, they were still our babies).

So fast forward just over a month after we lost Blip. We hit Iz’s due date. I’m not going to say that it wasn’t such a hard day. It was painful and excruciating. I took the day off work, I knew I would never have coped there that day and booked myself in for a massage – which I cried my way through, and then just wandered all day. I felt completely lost and didn’t know what to do with myself. The counsellor had suggested I do a balloon ceremony, but I’d laughed that idea off, saying how I thought they were such a wanky thing to do. But you know what? In the end, I totally went out and bought a pink and blue balloon. (At this point, I should probably mention, that I always refer to Iz as he. We never found out Iz’s sex, but I always hated calling our baby “it”, so would always refer to Iz as him or her – mostly him or he).

The Man came down to meet me at the beach after work, and we sat there with me gripping these balloons with a death grip just watching the ocean. There were grey clouds overhead and they just seemed to fit my mood. Eventually The Man gently said to me that I’d have to let them go eventually. I just couldn’t. I felt like if I let them go, I was going to be letting go of Iz forever. But I knew, deep down I knew, that he was right. Eventually, the time came and I finally let go of the balloons. We watched those two balloons float off, watched the clouds part a little, watched the sun peek through and finally, finally I felt the weight lift. I am always going to miss Iz, always going to wish that all of our pregnancies had ended differently, but I know that I can’t live in the past, wallowing.

So I’m not wallowing. I’m looking after myself, looking after The Man and The Cat, working towards our future, which I’m sure will have a happy ending. I’m watching my diabetes like a hawk. I’m temping, I’m charting, I’m taking my folic acid and vitamins, I’m having sex at the right times, I’m seeing a fertility specialist (more on that in a future post) and I’m feeling a lot more positive.

Now. Now I feel better. And what do you know. A week and a half ago, I peed on a stick. You know what?

There were two pink lines…

Let the story continue.

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The story so far – part one

The last two years have been – to put it mildly – hellish. Hellish, for me, would even be an understatement.

It all started back in February last year when I found out I was pregnant with our first baby. For a couple of blissful weeks I walked around with a smug grin, thinking “yeah everyone, look at me, I’m carrying a baby. I rock, you know it”. And then it all went to shit. We lost that baby, over four gruellingly long weeks. Back and forth to the doctors, you’ve lost the baby, no you haven’t, it’s just too early to see the baby on a scan, it’s just implantation bleeding, no, you’ve lost it, no you haven’t. No, you really have lost it this time, I’m so sorry. And that last time – we really had lost it. I knew we had. I lost it when I was at my brother in laws funeral. So to top off the loss of our first baby, I was dealing with the grief of losing a man who had been more of a brother to me, a part of my family for longer than some of my younger sisters had been a part of it. I went into a deep dark hole and I stayed there for a long time.

But eventually, with the help of my partner, a fantastic counsellor and some pretty freaking awesome friends – I would be nowhere without my friends and my partner, I pulled myself out of the hole. I missed Moonlight (yes, we named our first Moonlight – we had reasons…) every day. But the baby was gone and nothing I could do would bring our baby back. It was time to move on and get myself into a good place to have another baby.

And it’s funny how things work out. In October last year, I decided to go on a sugar detox. Since losing Moonlight, my weight had been slowly creeping up and up. I didn’t care what I was eating, I just ate – I’ve always been an emotional eater, and I had a lot of emotions to eat. So I did a sugar detox, I started taking Evening Primrose Oil (because apparently that’s supposed to give you good mucus… who knew!), I did a bit of exercise (only a bit, because, to be honest, I hate exercising) and I also started charting my temps and making sure that we had fun times together at just the right time of the month. In November, a few days after Moonlight was due, I was sick. High temps, throwing up, so sore all over. And really, I don’t know what made me do this, but I took a home pregnancy test.

Lo and behold, there were two pink lines. And that second line, was so dark, and it actually came up before the control line. Cue excitement! (There was a lot of excitement). I think I knew it would happen that month though, because we had just booked ourselves a cruising holiday, and when I checked I realised that if I did get pregnant that month, we’d have to cancel because I’d be too pregnant for them to let me on the ship. But it happened. And after that initial excitement wore off, the nerves and worry set in. Actually, that was pretty much an immediate response. Worry, worry, worry.

The Man kept telling me not to worry. It would be okay. Last time was a freak occurrence, and we would be fine. I so badly wanted to believe him. I went to the doctor and I had a blood test done to confirm the pregnancy – though there really was no doubt I was pregnant  – I just had to look at yoghurt by then and I’d be sick. At this point, I had a great doctor (we shall call her Dr Lovely). I’d been pretty much tossed aside by my previous doctor (Dr Slack) who was “looking after” me before I got pregnant the first time (I use “looking after” very loosely – if I sound bitter when I write about this Dr Slack – I am and always will be). When I started losing Moonlight, it was like she wanted nothing more to do with me and I got passed to her new and almost inexperienced registrar Dr Lovely who had just started. But in the end, it was the best thing she could ever have done for me and I continued to see Dr Lovely after we had lost Moonlight. So I thought nothing of her doing not just my HCG levels, but testing for any infections, sugar levels etc. I didn’t expect anything to come back except – yes, your HCG levels are rising (and they were, very nicely thank you).

Oh, but then I got that call. A call saying that I had high sugar levels, and she was concerned. Could I please come in (on a Friday afternoon) and grab a blood glucose tester and just test my sugar levels for her over the weekend, while I waited to have a second – fasting – blood test on the Monday morning. No worries. I honestly didn’t think anything of it. My mother has Type II Diabetes, my sister had Gestational Diabetes when she was pregnant many years ago. But still, for some reason, I wasn’t taking it all too seriously yet. I tested my blood over the weekend just as they asked, and went in on the Monday morning and had my fasting test. I continued to eat pretty much as I had been – still trying to watch what I was eating, but not doing the whole sugar detox thing any longer.

It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon when I got a call from Dr Lovely at work that it sunk in just what the hell was happening. “You need to come to the hospital tonight straight after work, we are booking you in for a couple of days”, she says. “Your fasting levels have come back very high, and we need to get you in straight away and on insulin. This is important, you need to come in tonight and we need to get this under control now”!

After my initial response of “Can I come in on Friday and do this, I’ve had so much time off work already” and getting severely told off by Dr Lovely, I went in on the Tuesday night and straight away I was given insulin and started on tablets as well. I cried. I cried a lot. I had just wanted to have a simple pregnancy, it was bad enough that every single time I went to the toilet I was checking for blood, but this was a whole different kind of scary. We had wanted to keep this pregnancy quiet, get to 12 weeks and gladly announce it to the world. I had been wrestling with how I was going to tell one of my best friends I was pregnant, just a few months after she had lost her first – I remember how badly it hurt having people tell me they were pregnant after I had lost Moonlight. I figured I would have many weeks to find a way to tell her, but all of a sudden, here I was in hospital and it wasn’t so easy to come up with a good excuse for being put in hospital on insulin – they don’t tend to do that with diabetics. Just pregnant diabetics apparently. So people found out. I wasn’t even 6 weeks yet and half the town knew we were pregnant. Or that’s how it felt – the reality is that it was probably only a handful, but a handful feels like a helluva lot when you don’t want anyone to know!

The Man and my friends were great, understanding and supportive and everyone helped me get my head around this new lifestyle of no sugar, counting carbs, pricking my fingers 8 times a day and testing my blood, injecting myself with insulin 5 times a day. Then came 6 weeks and our first scan. I was fully prepared to see nothing. Just like we always saw nothing with Moonlight. But there s/he was. Iz (yes, we named this one Iz. Iz he a boy, or Iz she a girl? Fitting right?). Little heartbeat flickering away. This miracle baby that had managed to withstand my sugar levels up at 13.7 and was steadily growing, right on schedule. Once again in an ultrasound I cried. But this time, they were happy tears. Only happy tears.

This post is continued in part two – http://canibeamummynow.com/the-story-so-far-part-two/

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