January 3, 2015

PAL should be labeled "Anxiety Disorder"

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First let me say a huge THANK YOU to everyone's wonderful comments and thoughts and prayers for us after our big announcement on Thursday.  We are so lucky to have a community praying for us and routing for this little baby!

When we first found out we were pregnant, Dave & I both didn't want to tell a single soul besides our closest family.  There was no way we were parading the news around this time, only to lose another baby.  Dave still feels that he could wait until June to tell people, but I don't have that luxury since the belly is already growing.  It's growing faster than last time!  Anyways, as I thought about our fear of telling people, I started feeling like that wasn't the way to go.  Yes, it's hard losing a baby and then telling people I've lost a baby and then FACING people who know I've lost a baby...but it's also healing and helpful too.  We had a lot of support when we lost Jackson, and I'm not sure how we could've gotten through that without it.  As the Christmas holidays got closer, I felt that this week was the time to share with the world.  We've told a handful of people as we became more comfortable, and more confident, and it got easier with each person we shared with.  So I am glad we decided to tell the world, because we have another community lifting us up and praying for a healthy baby.

I didn't expect to be pregnant so soon after losing Jackson.  It took us almost 2 years for him and Lily, so when doc told us that we were safe and ok to try again after 2 months, we figured it would take us a while, maybe even a year.  I can't even explain the pool of emotions that came with that positive pregnancy test back in September, but I can tell you one thing - anxiety moved right into my heart and our home.  

I once read that Pregnancy After Loss (PAL) was like being handed a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.  That is the absolute truth.  While I can get by most days by either be excited about this baby, or just not thinking about her (or him, but we think its a her.  We have a 50/50 chance!) if I am feeling anxious, the doctor appointments are brutal.  Extremely brutal.  With Jackson, every doctor appointment seemed to bring heartache....twin with no heartbeat, Jackson's gestational sac was small, awful exams because of the bleeding, etc.  That was my first experience in the pregnancy world, and the innocence was shattered.  

I'll never be a blissful, naive, excited pregnant mom, and that breaks my heart.  Something has been stolen from me.  Being in the baby loss community, I know almost every single thing that can go wrong in a pregnancy.  I've met moms who have been through hundreds of different problems and lost their babies...cord accidents, preterm labor, Trisomy diagnoses, fatal neural tube diagnoses...if something has killed a baby, I know about it.  I don't regret meeting these moms, or pouring over their stories, because it got me through our loss.  I knew I wasn't alone, even though for a while I felt it because no one around me in my life could really get it unless they and their bodies had been put through it.

The problem is now, that I have to pack up all that knowledge and try to have faith that our baby will make it this time in spite of all the things I know that could go wrong.  I am really struggling, especially at the doc appointments.  Up until yesterday, each appointment went as well as can be expected.  There's only one baby this time, she (or he) looks great so far, heartbeat has always been great.  Yesterday was a little rough for me, because at first the doc couldn't find the heartbeat.  I tried NOT to freak out, because I KNOW my baby is alive, I feel her move around all the time, and we could hear her move on the Doppler, but not hearing the heartbeat right away set off my panic.  What if??  I starting crying.  Finally, she found it, and it was just and as healthy as can be. Then, our doc starting talking about the testing...

I am high risk this time around, not because of our loss since the docs truly believe that was a freak accident, but because I have gestational diabetes.  I had it with Jackson, and after we delivered him my sugars went back to normal, but almost as soon as we were preggo again they creeped back up.  They aren't really high or anything, but in pregnancy the docs are brutal about wanting those sugars to be very low.  Plus, because the docs know how anxious we are, they want to to give us as much peace of mind as they can.  My blood pressure has been a little high each appointment, which we thought was just the anxiety of being at the doctors, but it hasn't gotten any better.  So, they are putting me on a low dose of meds.  I have to get an EKG, and do a urine test, which our doc said yesterday is just routine, just to get my baseline, etc etc...she doesn't think there is anything wrong with me or the baby.

But...I've read stories, I know percentage rates, of what high blood pressure can do to moms and babies.  I know that preterm labor and stillbirth...those percentages go up.  I try not to think about it, try not to let that fear live in me, but I am struggling with it a lot today.  What if??  What if something is wrong?  What if it gets higher?  What if that puts me into labor again?  Will I say goodbye to another baby?

If I focus on the heartbeat I heard yesterday, that helps me relax.  We have a live baby for now.  That heartbeat is all I need to talk myself into calming down.  We have another day with this baby, and I have to try to enjoy each day.  When I feel the baby move, which I have been feeling since 13 weeks (so early!  I think God knew I needed it!) I get so happy and so confident that we have a healthy one here.  Overall, I have been much more confident this time around, and hopefully that means something.  With Jackson, I always felt off.  I don't feel that way this time.  

I know that God doesn't want me to live in fear.  I know that is not Him.  I know He wants me to have faith.  But faith is such a tricky friend in PAL.  I have to have faith, no matter what.  Live baby, or baby in Heaven.   God thought I could handle Jackson's loss, what if He feels that way about this baby too?  Where does faith fall in all of this?  I choose to believe that this IS our Rainbow baby, our healthy baby after a loss.  I choose to believe that God is blessing us after a terrible storm.  I choose to believe that God wants us to take this baby home from the hospital.  I am choosing to have faith, and to fight the fear with all I have.  It's hard, but I'll keep fighting!

For prayer, I know people are asking specifically, here is what we need.  Prayer for a healthy baby - we go for our anatomy scan later in January and will find out any problems there - I don't want there to be a single thing wrong with this baby!  Prayer for a healthy me - that all the tests and extra appointments will just confirm that I am ok, that my body can handle this pregnancy this time and get to the end without any complications.  Prayer for my peace, my family's peace too, that our anxieties and fears won't get to us.  We can't thank you enough for support us and investing in this with us.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, well this village will birth a healthy baby, hopefully!
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