Almost to the end!

I’ve been bad at blogging lately. πŸ™‚ I’ve been trying to get caught up with a bunch of sessions that needed to be blogged for my photography business, and get caught up with organizing our house before the baby arrives, and everything else has been pushed to the back burner.

So here’s my third trimester update! Still dealing with the awful all-day “morning sickness”, but the medication helps keep that mostly under control! Previously, my back/hip/pelvis pain has been manageable enough to keep working and everything, at least in the mornings. By 5 pm every day, I hit my pain threshold though and I am pretty much useless. My husband got me a wheelchair for when we go out places (like Disneyland) so I can limit my walking, which has helped a lot with the pain management. If you have ever broken or fractured your spine, hip, or pelvis, 3rd trimester pregnancy will be incredibly miserable. If in the past you are super lucky like I am and have injured all three areas, you are in for a real treat toward the end of the pregnancy lol.

My heart rate has been better for the most part with this pregnancy compared to when I was pregnant with our older son, but I have had bouts of problems with my resting heart rate getting a bit scary when my pain levels get to be more than I can handle. There was one day in particular when my pain levels were awful and I just wanted to take a nap. I heard a loud thud and opened my eyes to find my wild monkey hanging out our bedroom window, only holding on by his feet. My pulse went over 150 and I started having shooting, tingling pain down my left arm and in my chest. I was seriously concerned I was having a heart attack so we went to the ER where thankfully they said it was just a combo of stress and dehydration (my vomiting had been particularly bad the day before of course!).

Other than that, things have thankfully been pretty uneventful this time! I seem to have hit my limit with pain after I hit 38 weeks though and now walking, standing, sitting, just about anything, hurts incredibly bad all day long. I am looking forward to being done very soon! And on top of it all, we are having a heat wave in February, which makes my nausea worse again! I was really enjoying the cooler winter weather and less vomiting the past month or so! πŸ™‚

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21 Week Update

Last Friday, I went in for another appointment with my doctor. As always with my pregnancies, there was good news and bad news. I’ve been in a slump all week about the bad news so I will start with the good news.

The good news is, the baby is doing very well and measuring a little on the big side like his brother, despite all my extreme nausea and slow weight gain. πŸ™‚ Also, my uterine bleed is finally completely gone! That was great news. Amazingly, my previously huge fibroid has also disappeared! Perhaps it somehow bled out with the previous bleeding since they were around the same area? I’m not really sure but it sure is nice now that I no longer have to worry about whether or not that thing is cancerous!

The bad news is, my pelvic and leg pain suddenly came back in a big way. I worked so hard in physical therapy after our son E was born, and I had made such good progress (my pelvis dislocated in labor with him and the ligaments got damaged and separated from the bones). I had so much trouble walking after he was born, and I worked really hard to regain that ability without assistance. When E turned 1.5 years old, we were out as a family that day and I finally was able to walk up a flight of stairs on my own. When we got to the top, he turned to me and shouted “we did it!!”, hugged me and we cried a little. He knew at such a young age that what I had just done was a big deal and I hadn’t been able to do that previously.

The day before E turned 2.5 recently, my pain suddenly came back and I had to pull out my cane again for a short trip to Disneyland. I was so disappointed. I had 364 days after E was born where I didn’t feel disabled and felt proud of my physical progress. I know that I will get back to that point again some day, but it is still discouraging. The trip to Disneyland was difficult for me, not so much because of the pain but because I had forgotten how horribly so many people treat those who are differently-abled.

The stares and comments about seeing a pregnant woman walking with a cane really got to me at the end of my pregnancy with E, and I had totally forgotten how much those words and odd looks can sting. I guess people are used to only seeing elderly people walking with a cane, so when they see a pregnant woman with a cane, their brains can’t compute the combination and the result is insults.

My doctor said that I have to expect that the pain will just get worse as my pregnancy progresses and there really isn’t much we can do about it at this point other than trying to keep the surrounding muscles in shape for support. Knowing that you need to exercise when you are in pain is the most difficult part but I know that I got through this once and can handle it one more time for this sweet little guy too. πŸ™‚

My goal is to be able to walk up a flight of stairs again by the time this baby turns 2. I am giving myself a little extra time since things may be worse this time. Thankfully, our house and my studio are all handicapped accessible since they were a former nursing home. That helps a lot! At times, I wish we had a bigger house and I had a larger studio with tons of space to spread out. However, when almost every step is painful, I am incredibly grateful for our small little space! It really helps me a lot when I am working that everything is within close reach.

So I am back to my previous restrictions…no stairs, no uneven terrain or sand, and using my cane when walking long distances. Thank goodness we finished our garden design after E was born! I planned it all out specifically for the reason that I knew this may happen if I became pregnant again, and I wanted to make sure that I would still be able to continue to work with photo clients here on our own property, without worrying about aggravating my condition or possibly injuring myself. So life continues! Except thankfully now despite the return of my pain, I feel a huge weight lifted that I no longer have to worry about the risk of the internal bleeding, and the constant fear that I may have had a cancerous tumor growing in there is gone! πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, this little guy is starting to get really responsive and cute. Last night, my two boys were playing little tapping games with each other through my belly. I was so emotional yesterday thinking how amazing it is that I get to have these two miracle boys despite all of the odds. This baby is due in February, and February will mark 5 years since I simultaneously took the two biggest gambles of my life…making the decision to refuse a hysterectomy despite several doctors urging that I needed it (they were trying to convince me that my risk of ovarian cancer was too high at the time to continue without a complete hysterectomy), and deciding that it was time to follow my dream and start my photography business. So much has happened in the past 5 years…it’s truly amazing!

Almost 19 Weeks….

Today I’m 18 weeks and 6 days along with this pregnancy. πŸ™‚ I’m still having a lot of pain (presumably from the pressure on my large fibroid). I also have a lot of pain when my uterus expands at all. With my t-shaped uterus, the muscle fiber in my uterus is not as elastic as a normal uterus, so every bit of stretching hurts. Thankfully, this time is not as painful as it was with our first born. πŸ™‚ With that pregnancy, I was in excruciating pain with every tiny bit of stretching.

I’m still having trouble with bad, consistent nausea, but I am at least able to eat regularly now. I am close to the half way point in the pregnancy and I have finally gained 3 pounds! That might sound silly but it’s a pretty big deal considering how much trouble I had keeping any food down the entire first trimester. πŸ™‚

We’ve been getting a lot of questions from people asking if we are happy that we are having another boy, or comments saying, oh well…you can try for a girl next time. I don’t understand why people say things like that in the first place. Any baby is a blessing, especially when you have lived most of your life under the assumption that your multiple diagnosis of infertility were going to make it impossible to ever have any baby, let alone two!

Honestly, I am a bit relieved that we are having another boy lol. I had been having dreams about our son having a little brother ever since he was born, and I have all kinds of really cool photos planned for my two little guys. πŸ™‚ I was a bit disappointed that I won’t have a daughter that I can dress up like my mini me and in pretty, fancy dresses (especially for photos), but other than that, I would totally prefer having another son. Some of my fondest memories from my old babysitting days were when I would babysit these two little boys who lived down the street. Little boys are so adventurous and so much fun!

My husband was really hoping for a daughter. He has seen too many photos of me when I was little and was hopeful for a mini me. He has gotten past the disappointment though and is excited about the concept of having two sons. πŸ™‚ He does get frustrated though when people make the “try again next time” comments.

Just a word of advice…don’t ever say “try again next time” to someone, especially if you do not know them well. You do not have any clue how difficult it may be for them to have a baby, or if they can even continue trying. It just isn’t polite. It also implies that the baby on the way is not something to be excited about!

For me, I am absolutely done after this pregnancy. People often think I’m just being hormonal when I saw that I plan for a hysterectomy as soon as possible, but it has been my plan for a while now. This fibroid is getting unbearably painful, even when I am not pregnant. My monthly periods have gotten so awful that I literally have to schedule a week every month to just stay home. Plus, as we have seen, I have a 0% success rate with pregnancies when I am not on the hormone supplements. I physically cannot handle going through another pregnancy with those supplements since they make me so extremely sick (it has been suggested by a few doctors that I may actually be allergic to progesterone, which is why I have such a hard time with my pregnancies and the supplements). The bleed with this pregnancy has had me worried about how much more my uterus could handle since my type of uterine abnormality puts me at higher risk for uterine rupture. I’m afraid that after 11 pregnancies, it is just getting worn out. I mentally can’t handle going through any additional miscarriages, so that’s kind of it. In addition, I can’t handle the heart condition I develop when pregnant with more than one child to take care of. It has been really difficult this time with only one kid. My normal resting pulse is around 65 when I’m not pregnant. When I am pregnant, my resting pulse is way higher, usually between 95 (only on a good day) and 120. In my previous pregnancy with our son, it was consistently 120 even though I was on strict bed rest. It got really scary. I started to feel like my heart was going to explode at any moment.

I feel guilty at times openly telling people that I am planning to be done after this pregnancy, since as Catholics, we are supposed to be “open to life”, which generally means open to the idea of conception. When my husband and I were engaged, we had a long talk with our priest about it. At the time, I was dealing with some massive cysts on my ovaries that were suspected to be pre-cancerous. I was on strict orders to stay on the birth control pill until the situation resolved or I had them surgically removed (which thankfully, they resolved without surgery). Our priest assured us that in our case, being open to life also meant keeping my health and my life as a priority, and trusting our gut and our doctors’ advice that there may be things we need to do in order to keep my health as a priority. I feel strongly that continuing trying to get pregnant after this would be putting my own health at risk. So this is it for us! No more trying after this pregnancy.

I am incredibly happy. It’s been scary, and it’s been insanely difficult, but compared to how I expected my life would turn out, having two boys feels like such a huge miracle! I can always play dress up with my clients’ daughters anyway, so in my mind, no reason to be disappointed at all. πŸ™‚

2nd Trimester Updates

I am officially into the second trimester, which is exciting for many reasons. The biggest reason being that most of my pregnancies have not made it to the second trimester, so it feels like a great accomplishment for me.

My nausea has gotten significantly better now that my doctor gave me the okay to go off the hormone supplements. I am still having some trouble with nausea and vomiting, but I am able to eat now which is a huge improvement! I still cannot go out in the heat, especially mid-day right now though. I’ve been okay in the morning if my son and I are playing in water, but other than that I have to hibernate in air conditioning during the hottest hours of each day. I can’t wait for fall weather to start soon!

The pain in my uterus near the bleed location has gotten significantly better, so between that and the lessened nausea, I am finally starting to feel like a normal human being again. πŸ™‚ I have been still having the occasional pain and contractions when I am stressed (mostly thanks to some Terrible Twos Tantrums), but other than that, things seem to be improving! We will find out more info on the status of the bleed once I have my next ultrasound. In the meantime, I’m still trying to take it easy, keep any lifting to a minimum, etc.

Contractions

So I went one day without my progesterone supplements. I had a few contractions through the day yesterday, but then they started getting really bad last night. The ones during the day weren’t painful so I wasn’t concerned. Since I have been pregnant so many times by now, I am very finely attuned to noticing warning signs with my body at this point. Last night, the contractions got painful, with back pain too. I had my husband run and get me another hormone supplement and some chamomile tea. Eventually the combo was able to get the contractions to stop, but in the meantime, I was up until 2 am last night in excruciating pain. 😦 I am just so thankful that the contractions stopped and nothing worse happened.

Yesterday was so nice otherwise though! Without the extreme nausea from the hormone supplements, I was actually able to eat three meals and drink as much water and juice as I wanted, without any worry of getting sick. That was the first time that had happened in months! I would rather be throwing up all day though than loose yet another pregnancy, so back to the progesterone for now. Definitely will be following up with my doctor when he gets back in town!

Updates!

I had another appointment yesterday at my doctor’s office! My usual doctor is out of town this week, so I am still a bit anxious to follow up with him once he gets back but in the meantime I have a few updates.

Since I have had no visible signs of bleeding in the past week, I thought my subchorionic hematoma had gone away (basically a huge bleeding sore inside my uterus). Unfortunately, the ultrasound showed that the hematoma is still there, and still quite large. So I am still not cleared for lifting/strenuous activity.

I was permitted to stop taking the hormone supplements at this point since I am past 12 weeks, especially since my vomiting had only gotten progressively worse lately. Yesterday, I had trouble even keeping down water. I am nervous since I have had miscarriages past the 12 week mark in the past, but I will definitely be following up with my regular doctor once he returns.

The good news is, going off the progesterone suppositories seemed to significantly help my nausea today. I was actually able to eat breakfast and lunch today without getting sick! That is the first time that has happened in a long time lol. I have had a significant amount of cramping today so I am a bit concerned and trying to take things easy still. That is incredibly difficult with a wild two year old boy who seems to have recently started protesting naps. :/ I started to doze off at one point for a minute today and woke up startled when he was apparently getting into some kind of confrontation with one of our cats. I’m hoping that once we can get back to our normal routine he will resume his regular nap schedule. Pregnancy is exhausting enough…add in no break from a wild toddler and it’s a bit overwhelming. πŸ™‚

When we went in for the ultrasound, as soon as the baby came up on the large screen, my son immediately shouted “my baby!!”. As the son of a maternity/newborn photographer, he definitely as a very clear understanding of babies and pregnancy for a two year old! πŸ™‚

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Unfortunately, things have gotten worse….

I have been trying my hardest to find a balance of getting adequate rest and still keep up with as much as possible with my business. It has been very stressful and difficult, to say the least. I have only been shooting with the use of my tripod and my husband’s assistance, but apparently even that has been too much for me in my current weakened state.

The past several days, the nausea and dizziness has been getting worse, some days unmanageable with the medication. A short walk to a beach location for a quick group photo I had scheduled was more than my body could handle unfortunately. I woke up the next morning and realized I had soaked through everything and was covered in blood.

I have a few sessions left to finish up in my studio that are already booked, and I will be completing those to the best of my ability. However, once those are finished, I will be closing down bookings temporarily until things actually improve and the bleeding fully stops. I hate to bring my business to a halt since it is disappointing for me and for clients, but clearly my body is trying to tell me to slow things down at this point and let myself heal.

I also noticed that my SPD pain in my pelvis is starting to come back again, so I need to clear up my schedule a bit so I have time to start going back to physical therapy again. Things got so bad with that after my pregnancy with my son that I wasn’t able to walk on my own for two months after he was born. I am going to do anything I can this time around to make sure that doesn’t happen again!

100% honest moment: I’m frustrated and angry that I have such incredibly challenging pregnancies. I feel horrible guilt that I can’t play with my son all the time in the way he wants me too. I am trying to stay positive and get through this but I’m not going to lie…it is incredibly difficult. My current condition makes me feel like I am failing at every aspect of my life: wife, mom, friend, business owner, and even failing in my religious life since my condition has often prevented us from attending church like we normally do. If you know me and I seem a bit short tempered or cranky, I apologize. Please bear with me…this is one of the most difficult challenges I have ever faced, and I have been through some horror stories in the past! The pain in my uterus is excruciating, and at times the dizziness has been so severe I’ve felt like I was about to die (not trying to be melodramatic, just don’t have a better way to describe the feeling!).

Hyperemesis Gravidarum vs. Morning Sickness

Okay, so I’m not a doctor, but I would consider myself an expert at being pregnant at this point. This is my 11th pregnancy so I’ve been through quite a bit in the past several years. I’ve had morning sickness with the majority of my pregnancies, but this is the first time I’ve dealt with actual HG. I had pretty severe nausea with the pregnancy with my son, but since I had no children at the time, it was much easier to deal with since I could just sleep through the nausea all day if I needed to. πŸ™‚

One thing that has been driving me nuts with this pregnancy is the attitude some people take when you try to explain that you are dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Since the majority of pregnant women deal with morning sickness to some extent, many people tend to treat women with HG like they are being melodramatic, just need to suck it up and continue on like everyone else. So I wanted to make a comparison to help explain the differences. πŸ™‚

Morning Sickness Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Extreme, sudden waves of nausea hit you at a moment’s notice, causing you to vomit. Nausea usually subsides for a bit after vomiting ends. Nausea is continuous throughout the day, often getting increasingly worse as the day progresses. There is no relief from the nausea after vomiting.
You have brief dizzy spells which feel better if you rest or lie down. You have intense dizziness that lasts for hours, even when lying down or resting, often preventing you from being able to fall asleep. Imagine the most drunk you have ever been, and multiply that feeling times 10 or 20. That’s what HG nausea and dizziness feels like, except it just gets worse throughout the day instead of lessening.
There are certain foods or drinks that can help alleviate the symptoms, such as ginger ale or soda crackers. The only thing that helps lessen your symptoms is prescription medication. Ginger can make the nausea worse, and throwing up strong ginger is a hell no woman should have to endure.
Strong smells can make the nausea worse. The following things can make your nausea worse: pretty much anything strong smelling, foul or otherwise, loud noises, a long car ride, a stuffy room, the hot sun, faint foul odors such as a skunk somewhere within a 2 mile radius, a neighbor’s car alarm, your child crying, exhaustion, pretty much anything.
You tend to start to know your morning sickness β€œschedule” and can plan around it. There is no rhyme or reason to when you will feel most sick and it is difficult to plan around.
You take comfort in the fact that most women only deal with this in the first trimester and know you will probably feel significantly better once your second trimester starts. It is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it is 9 long months away.
Nearly every woman who has ever been pregnant deals with some morning sickness, so everyone sympathizes with what you are going through. Only 2% or less of the population actually experience HG so almost no one understands what you are going through.

Uterine Bleeding Update

It has been a rough week and a half, the whole time scared I might loose this pregnancy, still with heavy bleeding through most of the time. I spent the time on bed rest, bored out of my mind for the most part. I had massive bleeding on Friday, but then only trace amounts Saturday, Sunday & Monday, so I was hoping that the blood clotΒ Β (subchorionic hematoma) had bled out and was no longer an issue. There was no way to know for sure though until my ultrasound today.

When I went in for my ultrasound, I thought I was initially seeing the screen incorrectly. I distinctly saw two separate amniotic sacs, one with a baby, and one mostly empty. The mostly empty sac was next to the bleeding. I thought in the ultrasound in the ER that I had seen two sacs but the technician convinced me the second circle I was seeing was a cyst. I asked the ultrasound technician today if I was imagining things or if I was seeing two separate sacs on the screen. She confirmed that was what it looked like. We now think that the pregnancy originally started as twins, and the bleeding started when one of the twins was lost.

The remaining baby is strong and healthy, with no visible issues. On the other side though, there is still a large area of bleeding, unfortunately larger than it was last week. I am allowed off bed rest since it appears the baby is not in any immediate danger, but I am restricted from lifting anything heavy (which unfortunately means I cannot be lifting/carrying my camera). Unfortunately there isn’t anything that can be done to stop the bleeding, so my doctor just recommended that I rest as much as possible, and we will recheck the situation in another month.

I am relieved that I can return to a somewhat normal routine with my son each day, with the exception that I won’t be able to lift him up at all. He gets frustrated by it, but he is pretty understanding since we have been through this before, after my d&c in November. My husband’s work provides a subsidized in-home care service which we used last week. The lady that came helped a lot, but my son was still really upset that I was in bed the whole time and unable to play with him. Hopefully we will have a better week this week. πŸ™‚

Hyperemesis gravidarum & Subchorionic Hematoma

This pregnancy has proven to be interesting and unique so far, to say the least. I talked to my doctor and evaluated all of my previous pregnancies. One one in ten resulted in a child born, and the only difference with that pregnancy was the use of the progesterone suppositories in the first and third trimesters. I hated using them since they gave me so many side effects, but I decided to try giving them one more shot in the hopes of having one additional successful pregnancy.

The day after starting the progesterone suppositories, I started feeling absolutely awful. I was getting extremely dizzy and nauseous. Not the kind of “morning sickness” that peaks in one part of the day and goes away the rest of the day. The kind that progressively gets worse and worse as the day goes on, with no break at all. After several days went by when I had only eaten a few bites of food (and had not been able to keep down any form of protein at all in days), I started to get concerned. One day in particular, I couldn’t even keep down any ginger ale. At that point, I knew this was more than just “morning sickness”.

As I sat waiting for a client to come for a photo session that night, I felt incredibly weak, almost non-functional. My head was spinning and I could barely stand. Imagine the most drunk you’ve ever been in your life, and magnify that feeling by ten. That’s the only way I can describe it. Somehow, I made it through the photo session (barely). I called my doctor’s office, and they confirmed my suspicion, that I was dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum and gave me some samples of diclegis to help with the nausea and dizziness.

The worst part of dealing with the HG is that I am normally already have a problem with my blood sugar when not pregnant, and have episodes of hypoglycemia when I don’t eat on a regular basis. It can get really dangerous for me not to be able to eat at regular time intervals. The most frustrating part of this ordeal has been when a couple of clients have been less than understanding. Yes, most pregnant women get morning sickness, but this is on a whole other playing field than any morning sickness I’ve ever encountered. My previous ten pregnancies with regular morning sickness were a cake walk in comparison to dealing with this severe HG. When the progesterone made me extremely nauseous when I was pregnant with our son, I could rest, take a nap, etc. That’s not always the case when you have a toddler running around, and exhaustion makes the nausea and dizziness worse.

The diclegis has been helping some, but it does leave me a quite groggy. The first morning was the hardest. I felt like I had been roofied…I was so tired and disoriented. I literally couldn’t get out of bed until after noon. I don’t normally handle any kind of sedatives well, so I decided to try half the recommended dose, along with some extra b6 which has been working better for me. The nausea isn’t quite gone, but it is way better and I’m more mentally alert.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to something horrifying. When I went to the bathroom first thing in the morning, I noticed blood. I was absolutely terrified. I wasn’t having any cramping like a miscarriage, so I was completely confused. We went to ER to get it checked out. The wait for the ultrasound was torturous.

During the ultrasound, the technician kept measuring things that were unfamiliar looking to me. I realized later that was the area that was bleeding. I did see the little tiny heartbeat moving inside the baby’s chest, which made me feel instantly incredibly attached to this pregnancy. At only 6 weeks and 4 days, I wasn’t expecting to see a heartbeat already. It was so cute. After my blood tests and ultrasound results came back, the ER doctor informed me that I have a subchorionic hematoma. She recommended bed rest and follow up with my regular OB on Monday.

Saturday happened to fall on the 4th of July, which is strangely becoming my most hated day of the year. Last year on the 4th, I had one of my most traumatic miscarriages. Every year, the week of the 4th of July always feels very high stress as we are all sleep deprived and trying to comfort four anxiety-filled pets who can’t get any rest at night.

I followed up with my regular OB today who checked my blood work and gave me an exam. Minus the bleeding, he said everything else looks really good and we will follow up with another ultrasound next week. In the meantime, I am on bed rest for the next week for now (may be extended if the bleeding continues past that). He said the bleeding could possibly continue for a few weeks or longer. There is no way to predict at this time what the near future will hold, but I have to put everything on pause temporarily until I am doing better. The SCH is painful and incredibly scary. I am trying to do the best I can to not think about the pain I am in and the incredibly precarious situation my baby is in. Thankfully, my husband’s work provides subsidized in-home care, so we will be utilizing that service this week. I will post another update next week once I have more updated info.