You may have read my last post about pregnancy #8. This is a follow up post. Fair warning….things did not go well. Stop reading now if you are overly sensitive/easily upset.
Two weeks ago, we went back to my ob-gyn for another ultrasound. At that point, it was determined that I had suffered another miscarriage. Despite the fact that my hormone levels continued to improve, and my body still thought I was pregnant, there was no longer a baby present. My husband and I were crushed. The doctor gave me two options: wait for my body to figure out that I had another miscarriage, or schedule surgery (a D&C) to remove the remnants of the pregnancy. My last miscarriage was a particular strain on my body, so I chose the surgery.
Last Monday, I went in to the hospital for the surgery. In years past, I had some really awful reactions to anesthesia (for dental surgery and problems with my GI tract). Once I learned that I have a severe egg allergy, an anesthesiologist told me my reactions had been so severe because the most commonly used anesthesia is egg-based. Those past experiences were so awful that it made surgery my #1 most feared thing in life. I explained to the anesthesiologist this time that I have a severe egg allergy, and have had severe reactions to egg-based anesthesia in the past. Irritatingly enough, she started debating with me about the severity of my allergy. She eventually assured me that she would use an alternative anesthesia, even though that was not her preference.
The surgery itself was uneventful. I was unconscious, and woke up fine, just in pain. There were a few insensitive comments from some of the staff about whether or not my son was my “real son”, given the fact that I have had 7 miscarriages. I may have had a very difficult journey, but that makes us appreciate that little guy even more. He truly is a miracle baby!
The day after the surgery, I started noticing itchy hives all over my body. They weren’t too bad, so I ignored them and just tried to rest. The post-surgery instructions stated that I could not pick up anything heavier than 10 pounds for a week. That meant I would definitely need some assistance with our son. The company my husband works for offers a “backup care” service, where we can call in to have a caregiver come into our home to help out for a day. They even pay for the service in full this month, which is really nice. The day after the surgery, we had a lady come to our house to assist me with Edison.
Last year, I used various babysitters quite often when I was working with the photography business so much. Our son usually seemed fine with the situation, and was usually not too irate about it all. I always had that mommy guilt that all working moms deal with though…am I spending too much time away from my baby? Will he remember this time when he gets older? Is this ruining my commitment to practicing attachment parenting? Our son was a very colicky baby, and his temperament did not seem to be influenced by the fact that a babysitter came in for a while. Since he has gotten a bit older (and too many babysitters proved completely unreliable), I made the change to only meeting with clients when my husband is available to watch our son. I figured that since he did okay with all of the random babysitters in the past, he would be fine with the service sending people to come help while I rested and recovered from surgery. That was not the case at all unfortunately.
As soon as the lady came last week to help out, my son started screaming, “no, no, no! Mama going away!”. Great…He remembered how much I went away when I was working previously and apparently it had been upsetting to him. I thought it was a coincidence that his colicky behavior stopped as soon as I cut back my business availability, but now I am thinking that was no coincidence. So not only do I feel awful about the miscarriage, but now I am dealing with the worst case of mommy guilt. That day was absolutely awful. Even if I was sitting right next to them when the lady picked him up for a diaper change, etc., he started screaming his head off. I definitely could not relax at all.
I told my husband that the next day I wanted to try things on my own, and just see if I could get through the day without picking him up. I very carefully explained to Edison that Mommy could not pick him up for a few days, but that we were going to be okay just the two of us. I put a step stool next to our bed so he could climb in with me, set up his little art table in the living room so he could eat there instead of his high chair, and set up a diaper change area on the floor. With the exception of a couple of tantrums here and there, the rest of the week went surprisingly well. My sweet little guy followed me over to the diaper changing area when he needed changing, and he even took care of me, bringing me snacks and juice in bed, whatever he could reach in the pantry. :) Words cannot express how lucky I feel to have been blessed with such an amazing little boy. Usually he gets stir crazy when we don’t leave the house all day, but he was amazingly patient and understanding of the fact that we were just going to be at home all week.
In the meantime, the itchy hives I had been noticing had been getting progressively worse. By Thursday, they were the worst I have ever had in my life (which is saying a lot given all of my allergy problems), were now covering my entire body, and they were unbearable. I started to worry that maybe I had gotten shingles or something since the welts were so painful. My husband took me to the urgent care, and I was evaluated by a doctor. The doctor was from England, and actually worked as an ob-gyn back there, but worked in urgent care now. He took a particular interest in my medical file since obstetrics were where his heart lies. He said my skin problem definitely looked like an allergic reaction, most likely to the antibiotics I was given in surgery. We ruled out any food allergen exposure since I had only eaten food I had cooked from scratch the entire week (I always keep at least a week’s worth of meals frozen in case of an emergency where I need rest and am unable to cook each day. Life with food allergies can be dangerous when eating out).
The urgent care doctor suggested there may be a connection between my egg allergy and the way that my body absorbed or appeared to have attacked this last pregnancy. He suggested that it may be possible that my allergy made my body see the baby’s yolk as a foreign entity to attack. He also suggested that I look into testing for an autoimmune disease since I seem to have had progressive problems with allergies and arthritis. I had always wondered if my egg allergy would explain some of my miscarriages, and my husband and I were excited, feeling like we were possibly getting some answers that could help us on the next round. I had always felt like that was a crazy question when I had asked doctors in the past if there could possibly be any connection between the two issues. The doctor gave me a shot and two prescriptions to deal with the current allergic reaction. Given the fact that I have had anaphylactic responses to allergies in the past, and the cause of this reaction was unknown and progressing worse each day, he gave me some pretty high doses of a steroid to take each day.
The pharmacist that filled my prescriptions warned that the steroid would make me probably feel hyper, edgy, or agitated, but the other medicine would make me sleepy so they would probably balance each other out. The first few days were okay, but then I stopped taking the medicine that made me drowsy since the hives were no longer itchy, and I was just way too exhausted to keep up with our son while dealing with extra drowsiness. When I stopped taking that medication, I noticed an unfortunate side effect. The edginess that I felt from the steroid was also affecting our son since he was getting it through the breastmilk. He started getting angry and violent, totally not his normal personality. Thankfully, we are finished with all of that now, and he is back to his normal sweet self. If you ever want to know what hell must be like, give even a microscopic amount of steroids to a toddler. It is not a fun experience, I promise.
After all of that, I went in for my follow up appointment today with my ob-gyn. My husband and I were excited to hear his opinion on what the doctor at the urgent care suggested. Unfortunately, he dismissed the idea as not a plausible issue, and just told us to try again after one cycle has passed. He also dismissed any concerns we had about the fibroid, saying it was nothing to worry about now (I wanted to have it removed before we try to get pregnant again). We left feeling frustrated and defeated. We know that many of my miscarriages are most likely caused by my deformed uterus (which cannot be corrected via surgery). However, we initially felt hopeful that perhaps we had found something else that could help us improve our odds of having another successful pregnancy. So far, my success rate of 1 in 8 has not been great at all. After today’s appointment, we both felt frustrated and extremely discouraged.
The doctor at the urgent care had suggested that I contact some of the doctors at USC or UCLA medical school to see if any research was currently taking place about maternal immune system interactions with pregnancy. I found one doctor that states his current work includes studies on maternal-fetal immune interactions. I emailed him and a week has gone by with no response. My husband and I are so incredibly frustrated. On one hand, we know that any child we have (even if it is only our son) is a huge miracle, given the way I was born with a deformed uterus. We went into this marriage with the expectation of no kids. Our little guy is so wonderful, and such a blessing. He makes me smile and laugh even on my worst days.
While that helps tremendously, we still have to cope with the pain of all of those losses. Someone told me recently that I didn’t lose these babies, I just gave them temporarily to mother Mary to babysit for me. That was such a beautiful way of looking at it, and it brought tears to my eyes. I have often told my husband that I know in this life, we probably will never have our “ideal life” (a big house in the country with a whole bunch of kids). However, if there is any upside to dealing with 7 miscarriages, it is taking comfort in the thought that we will have our “ideal life” with a whole bunch of babies once we are all reunited in heaven.
This past miscarriage was particularly difficult in its own way since we had such high hopes for this pregnancy. The improvement in my hormones based on my dietary changes had really gotten our hopes up. We thought for sure this pregnancy was going to bring us another child. The emotional and physical strain of each pregnancy and loss has been getting increasingly difficult to handle. I honestly do not know how many more times I can go through the whole process and not have a nervous breakdown or fall into a severe depression. I know that whether I have one child or 20, I am still a mother, but each loss somehow often makes me feel like less of a mother. I don’t know why we as women tend to feel that way…after all, one of our best examples of motherhood was a mother to only one child (Mary, the mother of Jesus).
I feel guilty knowing that our son desperately wants a little sibling, and my husband has his heart set on a little daughter (I wanted a mini of him, and he wants a mini of me). At this point, all I can do is give the situation to God and have faith that all of the details will work out in His timing. I don’t understand why we are going through this journey, and it makes me angry at times, but I trust that ultimately He has a master plan for us. I have been through way worse things in my life, and somehow eventually found peace with all of those situations, so I know at some point we will feel better about our current struggles. In the meantime, I’m spending extra time in prayer, and lots of time hugging and kissing our little guy and enjoying every minute we have together.