April 20, 2014

That one time there were two...

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Since we have had to keep the pregnancy on the "down low" the last 3 months, I feel that there are so many things to catch everyone up on.  Mostly good things, normal...preggo things.

This is not one of those things, so I just want to get it out of the way.  If my last post made you tear up, this one may not be much better, I am hoping to get through writing it without crying!  This is a long, long post.  Sorry about that!

My first few weeks of pregnancy were as normal as they could go.  I didn't have a lot of symptoms, just slight cramping, which I have had on and off this whole time, and some slight nausea that never ended in puking (except when I had an actual stomach bug) and extreme fatigue.  Those first weeks were full of telling family, and just getting used to the idea of being pregnant.

Our first OB appointment was on a Tuesday, March 11th.  It went well, the only hiccup so far in this whole thing was that I noticed that my fasting blood sugar was high a few mornings.  I don't know what moved me to start checking my sugars, except that I know gestational diabetes is a thing, and I have had once instance before (2 summers ago, during my horrible allergic reaction ordeal) where my sugars where a problem.  The midwife was really sweet, said everything looked good, and even though she seemed concerned about the sugar numbers, she said it could be controlled easily.  She wanted me to come back a few days later, that Friday, for our first ultrasound and a fasting glucose test.

Dave and I were excited for the first u/s, we were actually going to see our baby for the first time, and maybe even hear a heartbeat.  I remember waking up that morning thinking that after that day, I could relax a little, knowing this whole thing was really real.  For reals real.  Dave had worked the night before, and my OB is at his hospital, so he met me at the office and we got ready to meet our baby for the first time on screen.  The tech we had was so sweet, she tried doing the regular u/s but since I was only 8 weeks at the point, it was sort of hard to see what was going on.  So she prepped me for the internal scan, which I've had before, so I wasn't that worried.

Right away, the baby popped up on the screen.  He or she was so big!  Already!  Maybe the size of an olive.  The tech took pictures and chatted through the whole thing with us.  Then she moved the wand around a bit, and for some reason to me, it looked like a whole other baby was in there.  But...I couldn't tell, everything looked blurry and was going so fast.  She started labeling things.  Baby A.  Baby B.

Um...I looked over at Dave.  Was there TWO in there?  Or...was I just looking at it wrong?  Maybe it was two different views of the same baby.  The view of Baby B looked smaller.  Baby A came back on the screen.  The tech typed some things in.  She took pictures.  She chatted with us some more.  Then the screen went back and she typed Baby B again.  Then, this beating sound filled the room!  Oh my gosh!!!

"Is that her heart beat?"  Dave asked the tech.  "No, if that was hers, she would be in cardiac arrest.  That's the baby's heart beat!"  She smiled at us.  I teared up, trying to keep them from spilling over but not succeeding.   "Is it...a healthy heart beat?"  I asked her?  "Very healthy, very strong."  She replied.  Then, just like that, it was gone.  She had switched back to the Baby A screen.

At this point, I'm looking at Dave and saying things like "Oh my gosh, there's two in there," under my breath.  Dave finally asked her, "Um...we aren't looking at twins, are we?"  The tech gave him a look like "yes" but didn't actually say anything.  I had heard that the techs don't say a lot, they just take the pictures, so I didn't think anything of it at that point.  She took a few more pics, and was very friendly and talking with us, and then told me to get dressed and that the OB would be in soon to see how everything was going.  I thought that was normal, again, so I didn't think anything of it.

As soon as she closed the door, Dave and I exploded.  "OH MY GOSH.  TWINS."  We both were freaking out.  How the heck are there TWINS growing in there??  How??  I didn't take fertility drugs.  Twins don't run in my family.  They do, however, run in Dave's but the odds of twins when it's in the fathers genes are rare.  We stepped out in the waiting room and so many questions were running through my mind, and I was saying them aloud.

"How do I take care of TWINS?"
"Where are we going to PUT them??"
"Can I use just one crib?  We only have ONE crib!"  A friend from work gave us hers.  There is only one of them!
"I am going to have to quit my job, I can't make my parents take care of twins, it will kill them..."

Dave was just as shocked.  We will figure it out, that's all he said.  We will figure it out.  We kept saying how crazy it was, over and over.

After about 5 minutes of thinking of this possible new lifestyle, the midwife that I saw on Tuesday called us back.  We sat down with her and she started talking.

"Well, it looks like you are pregnant with twins, however, we couldn't find the heart beat on Baby A.  This happens more than you think, some women don't even know that they are carrying twins."

Now...I didn't necessarily get into this whole pregnancy thing to have twins, but...knowing for 5 minutes that I had twins growing and living inside of me and then finding out that one of them was...well, not alive anymore, rocked my world.  Instantly.  I managed to hold myself together for the midwife though.

"Did I...do something wrong?"  I asked her.  Immediately my mind was running over all the things that I had done wrong.  My blood sugar being high.  The two times I drank early on in pregnancy before knowing (karaoke with work friends, Krystal's surprise party...)  I lifted some heavy things at work that week.  Is there mold in my house from all this STUPID AWFUL flooding that was toxic to me?  What had killed that baby?!

"No.  Absolutely not" was her answer.  "This happens more then you think, we see it a lot."

"What will happen to the one that doesn't have a heart beat??"  I can't remember if I said it, or Dave.  "What will happen to the one with the heart beat?"

"Usually, the non-viable baby sort of just absorbs back into the moms body.  This is the norm.  Sometimes, the mom may miscarry.  So, if you have any bleeding or cramping at all, just come right back in and we will take a look."  She was so calm and so nice.

"And the one with the heart beat?"  I asked again.

She pulled out the picture.  The babies were almost exactly the same size.  Which, I figured out almost right away, that the one must have just stopped growing that very week.  My mind was still turning over all the things I had done wrong.  My heart was breaking.  I had to keep it together.

"The baby that didn't make it was the bigger baby, Baby A.  Baby B looks smaller, and has a smaller sac.  That doesn't necessarily mean anything bad, but it is something we want to keep an eye on.  It could be that Baby A implanted a little earlier and that is probably what happened."  She was looking at me intensely now.  I had already told her I am an anxious person.  I'm sure she was wondering what this would do to me.

"So, Baby B...may not make it either?"  I could barely get the words out.  She was honest with me, as she should be in this case, because you can't give a pregnant woman false hope.

"It's possible.  I know you are worried but there isn't anything you did wrong, or even anything you can do to make this go either way.  You don't need to be on bed rest, you can continue to live your life normally, and everything will probably be ok.  We'll have you back next week, for your peace of mind, and so we can see how little Baby B is doing."  She held the picture up to me and starting cheering, "Come on little baby!"

I looked at Dave.  He too was looking at me like he was worried about how I was doing.

"Do you have to work today?"  She asked.  I nodded.  I had just taken the morning off, and planned to go in at noon.  "I can give you a note for today, if you need it.  Remember, we are here for you.  If you feel upset or feel something that worries you, just call us.  One of us is always on call for emergencies.  If you get scared, come to the ER and they will let us know.  Please don't feel like you are alone, we are here for you."  She really was so sweet.  "Do you have any questions for me?"

I took a deep breath.  "I am supposed to have my fasting glucose taken today, should I still do that?"

"Absolutely.  You can follow me around when we are done.  Anything else?"

I shook my head.  I knew I had a million thoughts, but I couldn't organize them.  I couldn't think.  "Not right now, but I can call later if I do, right?"

"Yes of course, anytime."

So, I followed her out the door.  Dave was tired from working all night and then getting this news, he look tired, so I turned to him and told him to go home, I'd be there in a little bit after the test.  He asked if I was sure and I said yes, I would be fine.  I did the glucose test in a daze, it was just the one where they take blood and let me go.  Walking out through the OB waiting room, I already felt like a fraud.  Like I didn't belong there anymore.  My body already killed one baby, and I was convinced the other one wouldn't live either.   It is just the sort of thing that happens to me, my body does nothing the normal way.

I got to the car, got through the garage and toll, and onto route 24 to go home and lost it.  I couldn't believe my heart was breaking this badly, for a baby I didn't even know existed until 1 hour before.  But, that baby had grown in me, and lived there, for 8 whole weeks!?!  It had a body and a brain and a heart that beat at one point, and little webbed feet and fingers...and it was gone.  Still there inside of me, but gone already.  How was I supposed to process this?  I had lost a child I never met.  One I didn't even know about.  I shouldn't be this upset, right?

I got home and Dave was waiting on the porch for me.  He hugged me tightly and I sobbed all over him.  He knew that I was broken.  We went inside and sat on our big couch and he just held me while I cried it out for Baby A.  Not only that, but I was terrified for Baby B.  Would it last?  Would it live?  I was also so upset for the day we could have had!  We should have had good news, a reason to clear our minds and worries!  A reason to start telling people the good news.  Now I was even more anxious and worried.  How was I supposed to wait a whole week to know if things were going to be ok?  Plus, there was a little human inside of me that wasn't living anymore, and it was just supposed to absorb into my body?  I was freaking out over everything.  The tears kept coming.

Dave just sat and comforted me.  He was convinced everything would be ok.  Baby B had a heart beat, a very strong, viable heart beat.  Once you hear that, the chances of things going wrong go down.  We've heard that, read that, been told that...and it is true.  But I was still freaked out.  I had to let him go to bed.  He was exhausted and our sad news just made him even more so.  He asked if I was staying home now, since I was so sad, and I just didn't know.  I knew I had to go over and tell my mom, she would be able to talk me out of my worries, so I assured him I wouldn't be alone no matter what I did, and that I'd see him when he woke up.

I did go over and tell my parents.  Mom cried with me for a while, she looked so sad for me.  Dad just stroked my hair.  They convinced me to lay on their bed, between them like a little kid, so they could talk me through it and comfort me.  Mom offered to take me out, to eat or to shop, but I couldn't help but feel that I needed to go to work.

You see, as my heart was breaking, I thought to myself, "Wow.  This sort of thing could really break a person.  I'm lucky enough that I have two babies, and one of them is still living and healthy.  I could break for Baby A, or I could live for Baby B."  There is always something to live for.  There is always something to be broken for.  We have the choice to let something break us, or to let it make us stronger.  I could stay home all day, I had a pretty good reason to, and be sad and broken and just let it overtake me.  Or, I could trust that God had a plan and had me in His arms, go to work, tell the few people that knew what happened, and start getting over it right away.  The news of Baby A had the duplicity of being a big deal, and not really a big deal at the same time.  The enormity of what was happening inside of me was crazy, but then again, it happens more than we think and usually doesn't mean any harm for the surviving baby.

I didn't have a crazy schedule at work that Friday.  I even had a built in break for a bit in the afternoon, I had to go to Central Office to get a picture taken for The Sun, they were doing an article on my counseling cohort.  I decided to dry my tears, pick myself up (metaphorically) and get on with my life.  I went to work, told my principal and AP what was going on, as well as a few friends, and it was the best decision I could have made.  I had an immediate support group who helped me through it.  They didn't treat me differently or act like they needed to tip toe around the subject.  It's just something that happens.  It really is.  It's sad, but it's life.   It happens.

Am I still heart broken for my little baby that didn't make it?  Of course.  Like I said, the enormity of what was happening to me was rocking my world.  I was anxious for weeks.  Is there blood?  Is that cramping normal?  Even after our ultrasound the next week, I still worried.  I'm still worried today.  But you know what?  I will worry for the rest of my LIFE.  My child will soon be out of my body, walking around in this crazy, dangerous world, and the worrying will never stop.  I may as well get used to it, right?  And fast!  All I can do is trust the plan that God has for us and this little survivor growing inside of me, and thats about it!

That next Friday, I was terrified to go in and see what was going on in my belly.  I almost didn't want to know the outcome.  Was Baby A gone already?  Was Baby B ok?  I cried to Dave in the waiting room, I was so worried.  The same tech came out to get us and she was so sweet.  She remembered us, and what happened, an apologized that she couldn't say anything to us.  She got Baby B right up on the screen with the u/s on my belly and immediately told me she could see the heart beating.  I cried, hard.  She wanted to do the internal one for me, just so I could hear it.  I could have kissed her. She brought all those images up on the screen, and we saw the sweet little heart.   It was beating fast. We heard it going strong.  It was the best sound in the whole world.  We even saw our little baby wiggling and dancing like a little Mexican jumping bean!  It was so cute!  A little bobble head.  Dave was out of his seat, glued to the screen hanging from the ceiling.  I had tears streaming down my face the whole time.  Growing a baby is such an amazing miracle.

This.  This was the happy day I wanted.  Leaving the office, knowing things were ok so far.  Knowing that my baby is living and growing and getting ready to come meet us in October.  I know that there is a little tiny soul in Heaven, waiting for us.  Baby A for Angel.  Maybe Dave's dad is taking care of him or her, and they are anxiously awaiting our arrival someday.   I also know that my God won't give me anything that He knows I can't handle.  I know that He holds me and Dave and Baby B and our whole family in His hands and He will help us through anything, no matter what.  I am not sure what God's purpose is or was with Baby A, but I was happy to be his or her home on Earth for a few short weeks.  I am honored.

As I reflected on our lives today, this Easter Sunday, I realize again how very blessed we are.  I owe it all to our Lord who rose from the grave on this day, proving that even death can not win.  That is a wonderful comfort to me in all of this!!

Happy Easter everyone!