Tuesday, August 19, 2008

All About Reagan, Part III: The First Trimester

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Conception

"The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him."
~Pablo Casals
I was beyond excited about being pregnant with twins. Shortly after finding out, we we went on a 7-day cruise to the southern Caribbean that we had booked long before I got pregnant. The day I turned six weeks pregnant, I was in the shower at the hotel, getting ready to board the cruise ship. Out of nowhere I thought, "I think I'm going to be sick." I didn't even have time to get out of the tub. I hurriedly pulled back the curtain just in time to hurl into the unsuspected toilet while still standing in the shower. That marked the start of the all day sickness that plagued me through most of my pregnancy that no amount of prescription medications could alleviate. By the time my first trimester was over, I would have lost 17 pounds during a time when most women are gaining. But I didn't let a little morning sickness get me down on the cruise. We all had a great time on the cruise anyway.
When we got back from the cruise I settled back into life and started to get used to the idea of life with twins. I immediately started buying maternity clothes justifying in my mind that I was going to start popping out sooner than singleton moms. Never mind the truth was I was just excited over the plausibility over this actually being the real thing this time. This is the furthest I had gone in my pregnancies without any big red flags or scythes of doom reaching for my womb so I was almost starting to feel comfortable about things and starting to believe this was the real deal.
I continued my appointments with the infertility specialist and everything seemed to be going exceptionally well. I kept up with my 20 pills a day, 2 vaginal suppositories, and the blood work tests three times a week to make any modifications. The highlight was at least once a week my appointments would also include an ultrasound check. Baby A seemed to be measuring a bit ahead than Baby B most weeks. But it was never anything of large concern and there were a number of healthy plausible reasons why this could be the case. But by week 8, Baby B was a super star. Baby B's heart rate and growth had caught up and everything looked right on target with Baby A. It looked like Baby B was just a slow starter and Baby B was going to be just fine after all.
But then it happened. During the ultrasound on week eight, one casual little sentence of one seemingly insignificant measurement, and all the sudden Baby B looked like he may no longer have a future. Had that sentence been said to anyone but me, it probably would have gone without notice. But I heard it and with my obsession for research, I turned to the internet. The tech mentioned that the yolk sac was measuring a little big and gave the precise measurements. I took mental note of them. I also took mental note of the look of concern on the doctor's usually perfectly preserved poker face. I wasn't understanding why a yolk sac measuring 2mm bigger than they would like would mean that big of a deal, it wasn't even part of the baby. I could see my little bean floating perfectly inside, its heart beating strong. Before I left I got a talk from the doctor that felt like he was starting to prepare me for losing Baby B in his own way. I didn't hear most of it. I didn't understand the problem. I wasn't ready to hear Baby B wasn't going to make it.
I spent the next three days doing very little actual work related work. I mostly cried and poured over the Internet into every professional journal I could hack and understand and every PowerPoint presentation and any resource I could get my hands on that talked about the issue of having a yolk sac being 2mm too big. I found very little research on it. Most just don't measure it. Where I did find measurements I found nothing but despair. It all came down to those 2mm. Everything I read told me that because my baby's yolk sack was 2mm too big, he will die, and soon. There was nothing to do but wait. A familiar problem in an all too familiar scenario.
There had been no fanfare, no drama, no severe cramping, no massive loss of blood to mark the passing of this little life of Baby B. There would be no D&C or visit to the doctor to remove the baby. Baby B just quietly stopped his heart beating during the night at 8wks 3 days and became another angel baby. That following morning, I had woken to no morning sickness like I did every other day. Instead of the violence of sickness I felt only peace. I was still lying in bed when Bill told me "tell the babies bye-bye for me" as he was getting ready to leave for work. I calmly told him there was only one now. It was the first time I hadn't been crying since I left the doctor's office. Bill said "you can't know that." I told him that I do know that and it's going to be ok. And I am ready to move forward with the one little one that I know is still alive and well in there.
Bill went with me to my next ultrasound appointment just a few days later since we were expecting the bad news. It confirmed what we already knew. Baby B slipped away and stopped growing at 8wks 3 days. But Baby A was doing really well. I laid on the ultrasound table for a bit, gaining my composure, letting myself have another cry. Then we walked out together as our new, smaller family: Bridget, Bill, and Baby A. Baby B will never be forgotten. Baby A will grow up knowing that there was another. Another who waits in heaven to be reunited with its twin and the rest of its family one day.
We had mostly recovered from loss of Baby B and tried to get into a routine. We were looking for a new house, and I had taken on a new job, but it unfortunately required me to travel to New York City as much as I was able.
It was during one of those trips, at 11 weeks I woke up in severe stomach and side pain. It was so bad that I was crawling rather than walking to the bathroom for my morning barfing routine. It was about 4am and I had a flight at 10. I asked Bill to drive me to the ER so that I could get some decent pain drugs that would hold me over and still let me make my 10 am flight. I don't know what I was thinking. I didn't make that 10am flight. I didn't check out of there until a week later. It turns out I had a diseased gallbladder that no longer wanted to fight. They had me on a IV and drugs and allowed me to eat nothing but chicken broth and jello for a week in an attempt to make my angry diseased bladder happy again (clearly they have no experience in hostage negotiation- I've never seen chicken broth and jello on on a terrorist's list of demands). My gall bladder responded to my diet even angrier than ever. With no hope of it getting better, after a week they made the difficult decision to remove my gall bladder.
The only way to remove a gallbladder is under general anesthesia. When I go asleep, Baby A would go asleep. We still hadn't completely gotten over losing Baby B and I wasn't sure I could live with losing yet another baby. In the end, they assured me my condition was bigger danger on the baby as is than to undergo the surgery. I didn't like the odds, they told me there was a 20% chance Baby A would never wake back up. But I didn't see that I had a choice.
I was wheeled down into surgery and had one of the most panicked moments of my life. My fear wasn't for me, it was always for the baby. I only had a few moments to say goodbye to Bill and tell him I loved him and all I could think was how sorry I was that I kept failing him like this and losing his babies. I cried my way down to surgery with Bill standing in the hallway saying goodbye.
I pulled through the surgery. I woke up looking like a snowman with four little button like stitches and cover bandages going down my belly. They told me that I could go home now. I told them I'd be happy to go home. But I insisted I wasn't leaving until I saw an ultrasound of Baby A and saw a heartbeat.
I was 12 weeks 4 days pregnant. I held my breath while the tech put the ultrasound goo on my stomach and attempted to moved the wand around for signs of life. Almost immediately, Baby A returned with signs of alive and well. Heartbeat looked well, good movement, good fluid. I breathed. Letting my color return to normal, I pressed the tech a little harder and said, "I've heard you can sometimes tell gender on really good equipment at this age. I won't hold it to you, but what would be your guess?" The tech hesitates for a moment and says"it really is still awfully early. but if I had to make a guess today, I'd have to say you are going to have a......GIRL!"
To be continued...


LauraC said...

Oh Bridget, I am so sorry to read all of this story. Even knowing that it has a happy ending, I am so sorry you had to go through all this.

Fullerton Family said...

Wow. That was very well written, it brought me to tears for you. I'm so sorry you had to endure that uncertainty and pain. But you ended up with a beautiful little girl!

Joanna said...

How heartbreaking and yet uplifting at the same time. What an unforgettable experience it must have been for you to wake up that moring knowing what you knew, and finding a moment's peace with it as well. To have that followed by a galbladder attack just seems so...wrong. You are one touch cookie.

Julie said...

Wow Bridget, I cannot imagine what you were going through. It seemed to me you suffered enough just getting and staying pregnant in the first place. Your story made me misty as well.

Zoey's Mommy said...

I really hope I wasn't the only one who about cried while reading this!! I find it just amazing to read everything that you've went through. Like Joanna said, you are one tough cookie. I think I would have just given up. You have a knack for writing. I love reading your blogs, and I can't wait to read more on Miss Reagan! :)

Martina said...

what an amazing story...i'm so glad you're a part of our group. i look forward to your posts. i'm glad to be getting back to a routine so i can check you out more often. :)

Deanna said...

My heart just hurts reading all that you went through. My baby sister is living through a very similar situation. It is so painful.

Mountain Mom said...

Wow. Your strength is truly inspiring. And I love how you are mixing it up a bit and throwing a pic or two of your beautiful girls while you are also telling this amazing story. Brilliant. (Please picture that Orbitz Gum chick saying that. LOL)

Jen said...

Bridget, oh my waht a story. I could just feel your pain and joy. What a roller coaster.

Michelle said...

Oh Bridget, you have gone through so much. Again, thank goodness I know this eventually has a happy ending. And yep, I had a couple tears, too. So eloquent.

And may I just say thank GOD you had the sense (although admittedly for the wrong reason) to go to the ER? I would have been the pregnant lady shrugging it off and continuing on my way to work. Unless of course I had a flight to catch, and I totally get your logic.

You've had more than your share in this life already. Here's hoping it's all sunshine and roses from here on out!

Tara said...

Wow - I was there for the whole thing and already knew the story and I still cried reading that. I know I was very blessed in the majority of the simplicity of how my children worked out - thank you for reminding me of that. We all need to remember that somewhere someone has it worse.

And Landon asked if he could go see Reagan again (for the eightieth time since he last saw her). He said, "Mom - I wanna see Reagan. When will it not be too far?" :-)

Rebecca said...

Your story made me teary. What a story. You write beautifully.