To Doppler or Not? 

Okay ladies! I would like to get your thoughts on purchasing a doppler in a few weeks. Its still too early now for me (Im 8w1d), but I am thinking ahead a bit.

I know some of you absolutely love them for peace of mind, but then I have read about how some of you have worried even more with one because you cant find a heartbeat. 

Here are my questions for those of you who have used at home dopplers-

  • How far along were you when you were able to consistently locate the heartbeat? I really dont want to use one before that time frame and increase my anxiety by not hearing a heartbeat. 
  • What doppler brand did you use and recommend? 
  • Are there instructions on how to use these dopplers? If not, share your secrets on how please. 

Of course, tell me anything else I should know about this topic. Im currently very torn on getting one or not! Thank you in advance. 

Advertisements

A Miracle in the Making 

I wont keep anyone waiting for this update, because I know how many of you have reached out over the past few days with prayers and support and are following along.  

We went in today for my 7 week ultrasound (well, 6w6d) and my post-op. I was very nervous to go, and told hubby I didnt even want to go at one point. My nerves were confirmed by my blood pressure reading before the scan. It was off the chart. 

Right away, my RE was able to find the heartbeat! It had increased from 115bpm to 130bpm as it should. Baby measured exactly on track. We listened for awhile and just held hands and smiled. I thanked God out loud & said what a miracle.


She then checked my incisions and said things appear to he healing as they should. We looked over all the gory pics from the operation as well. Yuk! Lastly, she noticed 2 small subchorionic bleeds during the scan and wants me on bedrest until my next scan at 8 weeks. So I got a doctors note, hubby took it to my job, and we are all set there. Im going to do my best not to worry about these bleeds. I know how common they are, and that baby has shown to be a fighter so far. We can only pray baby stays this way!

Thanks to my wonderful co-workers/friends, I have some reading to keep me company over the next week or so! They put together a lovely care package for me and had flowers delivered. Feeling incredibly blessed today. 

Faith 

The ups & downs of pregnancy after loss continue. I do feel like I am starting to get a little bit accustomed to it which seems bizarre since its so early on (6 weeks, 3 days).  

The bleeding stopped for a few days & has revisited as of last night. I had some slight cramping (for about 10 minutes) and when I went to the bathroom, pink it was. I showed my mom today because I cant really decide if its bleeding or spotting, and she said its spotting. This makes me feel somewhat better. Hubs says the same. At most, I have like a quarter size drop of blood on a pad over like a 5 or 6 hour span.  Thanks to all the ladies out there who have reached out to me & comforted me with their stories of bleeding during pregnancy that did not end in miscarriage. That & God get me through these long days. 

Anyways, due to my wonderful aunts who were in not long ago from out of state, my mom & I had about $250 worth of free coupons to a local department store here in town. When they were here, they earned “bucks” for all their purchases and the bucks could only be used on certain (future) dates. Well, the date for the bucks to be redeemed was today & they have already gone back north. Hence, we got to spend the bucks! Awesome right?

Despite all the bleeding, and doubting, and how early on the pregnancy is, we decided to spend the free money on baby items. Meaning, we decided to choose faith & believe as much as possible today that this is our take home baby. Let me tell you, doing this was not easy at all for me.  In fact, I had a lot of fear, knowing things could easily go left at anytime.  But I have to try and embrace this. 

Here is a pic of what we got (tried to keep it gender neutral)–


Adorable right?!? I also got a casual blue dress that I will wear to one of my bestest friends gender reveal this upcoming weekend. I havent mentioned it before, but she is about 3 months ahead of me. We are both so excited to go through this together & I pray everyday it continues to stay this way.  Ive already lost several pregnancies while pregnant at the same time as close friends. It sucks to say the least. 

Symptoms? 

Pimples!! I never break out but right now I have about 4 popping up. Extreme thirst in the middle of the night. Peeing all the time, & pretty tired. Mostly hungry this week rather than a lot of aversions. Craving fried food, I know, bad!

Praying for a heartbeat this Thursday at our ultrasound. Praying to defy all the odds stacked against us. It would be really really nice to have a Mothers Day down in the books without so much heartache. Please pray for us. 

Our Story as Featured on Rachel McGrath’s blog, “Finding the Rainbow”

When author Rachel McGrath asked us to share our infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss story on her blog, I was honored!

Little did I know how difficult it would be for me to put it into words all at once.  I am used to writing bits and pieces of our story over time, not the whole thing in 1 piece.  

Needless to say, I shed some major tears when I wrote it!

Here is Our Story (as featured on Rachel’s site, “Finding the Rainbow”) and shown below.


After my high school sweetheart and I finally tied the knot in 2007, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted children, and about a year later, I went off the pill. A few months later, I went to my annual OB appointment and asked her what we could do to make it happen. She made it sound really simple… ‘go home, do it on days 12-16 of my cycle, and voila!’ I should be pregnant by my next annual appointment. When my annual appointment rolled around again, and I still wasn’t pregnant, she looked a little puzzled. We had followed all of her directions, so why weren’t we pregnant yet?

She decided to do some simple blood tests, all of them came back picture perfect. Her next idea was to get a semen sample from my husband. I will never forget the day she called me with the results because that was the day our lives completely changed. His count was extremely low; his motility was low, among many other things. By the end of our conversation, she had referred us to a fertility specialist, or Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).

About two years into our marriage we found ourselves at our first RE appointment. They did another sperm sample on my husband to be sure it wasn’t some “fluke.” It wasn’t a fluke at all; it came back even worse than it had the first time. That’s when we were told, “Your chances of conceiving on your own, without IVF with ICSI are about 1%.” We at least wanted to try IUI first.

So, we did two IUI rounds and both failed. By the third year of our marriage, we decided to take a break from the RE and see a Urologist. The Urologist found that my husband had a pretty large Varicocele vein and suggested we do a Varicolele repair in hopes of improving his count.

Six months after his surgery, we went in for another sperm sample. No improvement. Another year later, still no improvement. We decided at that point to find a new RE, who again reminded us of the dreaded words we had heard so clearly before, “you have about a 1% chance of conceiving on your own without IVF with ICSI.” Finally, we took the plunge and decided to move forward with this option.

The RE did a myriad of tests on us – genetic testing, HSG’s, SIS’s, blood panels, etc. All of this to make sure we were “cleared” for moving forward with IVF. We passed all of them with flying colors. In fact, my husband’s sperm count on the day of our egg retrieval even increased! It had been a year and a half since his surgery and although still low, it had increased by about five million. Our first IVF cycle was what the RE’s called “textbook perfect.” I was very responsive and they retrieved eighteen mature eggs, and eight of them fertilized via ICSI to day six blasts. The embryos were graded extremely high- three 6AA’s, three 6AB’s, and two 6AC’s. This being said, we chose to transfer only the one 6AA embryo back into my uterus.

About a week later, in the spring of 2014, we finally saw those two pink lines we had been waiting now five long years for. I cannot begin to tell you the feelings we experienced at that moment. My first beta came back at sixty which seemed low, but the nurse reassured me “as long as it doubles the next time, it is fine.” Well, the second beta came back at thirty-two! The joy we had been so filled with and waited so long for had been stolen from us within a week. My betas continued to fluctuate up and down for an entire month, forcing a D & C. For almost five weeks straight, I endured the torture of getting my blood drawn almost every other day before I rushed to make it to work on time. The D & C results came back inconclusive as to whether or not the products of conception were genetically normal. In other words, we had no idea why we miscarried an embryo of such high grade.Angela's story

We had seven frozen embryos left, and we scheduled the first FET around five months after that first miscarriage. This time, my body didn’t react as well and my lining was pretty thin a week before transfer. My RE said we had a 50/50 chance of it working with my lining as it was, and that it was up to us if we wanted to move forward with the transfer or cancel the cycle. Of course, we wanted to move forward! We transferred two embryos this time. Low and behold, a week later, two pink lines again!

We were a little nervous to get too excited after what happened with our betas last time. So we thought “OK, if we can just make it through the three betas, we will be good!” Our first beta came back at 305. Twin numbers! The second at 675, and the third at 1569. The doubling rate was over 100%! We set up the appointment for our first ultrasound. However, a few short days after my 3rd beta, I started cramping and bleeding pretty bad and ended up in Emergency. I was hooked up to an IV and the blood work and ultrasounds began. I had miscarried again.

We were completely heartbroken. We started to wonder if miscarrying was going to continue happening to us. We were reassured though that the chances of us miscarrying three times in a row were only 1%.

At this point, we had five frozen embryos remaining. We didn’t take much time off before starting next cycle; waiting only 2 months in between. My RE wanted to increase my estrogen intake and the length of the cycle to ensure my lining thickened as it was supposed to. I started doing yoga and acupuncture around the clock. My lining was measured at 11mm by transfer time, the thickest it had ever been!

We transferred two embryos again. And on Christmas Eve 2014 (our first babies due date), I tested super early and got my BFP. But this time once we saw the positive, we were more worried than ever before. Our innocent way of thinking had been stolen. We knew this positive didn’t guarantee anything, and neither did the upcoming betas. All we wanted was to get to that first ultrasound and see the heartbeat(s)!

All three of our betas all came back super high—almost tripling. I got a fourth blood test at around six weeks just to make sure it hadn’t dropped and it was over 20,000 already. I knew I was carrying twins then. We made it to the first ultrasound and saw two sacs and two heartbeats. The sweetest thing we ever did see! My RE wanted to do weekly ultrasounds up until ten weeks, and then release me to my OB. Our next ultrasound at 7w4d showed one of the twins was slightly behind and the heartbeat slower than it should have been, however the other twin was measuring exactly as it should and its heart rate was spot on. At our 8w4d appointment, the smaller twin had vanished, but the other one was doing great still and actually looked like a real baby this week!

The day I turned nine weeks, I went out and bought some maternity clothes, as my bump was starting to shine through my regular clothes. We were feeling really great because after you see a healthy heartbeat, the chance of miscarriage itself is only 5%. We had seen a healthy heartbeat now four weeks in a row! Ironically, my 9w4d appointment was the first one I went to alone. Usually when the ultrasound technician puts in the probe, it only takes a second or two for her to turn the screen and show you’re your sweet baby. Not today. It was dead silence for almost two minutes. Finally she said, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat today.” Those words I will never forget.

I was diagnosed with a “missed miscarriage” and underwent a D & C at the hospital two days after the ultrasound. It was truly like a nightmare and I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was supposed to be ten weeks pregnant! We were supposed to be announcing to the world that our baby would be arriving in six months. I can’t even put into words the bitterness and wrath I felt towards the world. I questioned my faith, my body, doctors, infertility treatments, everything!

The results from our D & C came back that we would have been having a sweet baby boy and he was genetically healthy; 46XY, just as he should be. We decided to name him Isaiah William.

Once my HCG levels finally went down two long months after the loss, I underwent a procedure that I had never had before-a Hysteroscopy to biopsy my uterus and examine it with a camera. This procedure found that I had a “mass” growing inside my uterine cavity. The mass never showed up on my three pre-transfer SIS’s or ultrasounds throughout any of our cycles. Questions began to race through my mind. Did it cause all of our losses? Just this loss? Or does it not have anything to do with any of the losses? There were so many unanswered questions. My RE suggested that there was an 85% chance it caused our third loss. By now, I had lost all faith in statistics anyway.

We scheduled an operation to remove the mass. The pathology report determined that the mass removed was a sub mucosal fibroid, which can indeed cause a loss to occur. A month after my operation, we did another hysteroscopy to make sure my uterus was completely clear, and it was. We were officially labeled not only as infertile, but as recurrent miscarriers, or as the medical world likes to call it, “habitual aborters.”

It has now been five months since we lost Isaiah & his twin, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of where my pregnancy would be. I also think about how our first baby would now be six months old, and our first set of twins would have been one month old.

Every day is a new day of healing for us. We have found peace knowing our babies are in heaven and we will see them again one day. I have gone to grief counseling. I now understand that I may never have all the answers and that I don’t need to. I resigned from my job to take some time to get back to the old me. I have restored my faith with the big guy upstairs. I have become an advocate for infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss through various social media outlets.

But most importantly, above all else, we still have hope. We haven’t given up the fight. The way I look at it is we have lost three battles, but that the war isn’t over. We will win! I am confident that one of the remaining three embryos we have left will one day be a part of our family here on Earth!

Baby A, Baby B, & a Bleed

After my first ultrasound, I was eager to buy something baby related.  Especially since the doctor had informed me that once a healthy heartbeat is established, the chance of miscarriage dropped to under 10% for Baby A. Don’t ask me why, but I clung to that number, even though I should have learned my lesson about percentages way before. Anyways, we took a trip to Babies R Us, and bought the infamous weekly bump stickers, a baby name book, and a pregnancy journal so I could record how I was feeling every day.

Speaking of how I was feeling, well of course I was extremely tired and hungry, but things could have been a lot worse (like not pregnant at all worse!). I was in bed by 8 every night, and I was eating every few hours, because if I didn’t, I didn’t feel well.  I got nauseous mostly in the afternoons, so I bought a pair of sea bands and kept them on my wrists. Those, with saltines and ginger-ale did the trick for me.  At night, when I slept, I was having crazy vivid dreams, but I didn’t mind.  I was feeling pregnant and I loved it; even the twinges I felt as my uterus was growing made me smile.

When we arrived at our 7 week 3 day appointment, I got more blood work done which determined I was Rh+ (hooray!).  I got my progesterone checked again, but only because I requested to.  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t dropping, because that can cause a bleed, or even worse a loss.  As usual, my progesterone level came back high as it always had.  I was still taking both the Crinone 2x daily, and Prometrium 3x daily for progesterone, along with the estrogen patches and pills.  Let me tell you, I couldn’t wait to stop taking these at 11 weeks.  My blood thinner injections would unfortunately need to continue throughout the duration of my pregnancy. These burned like hell! My stomach was so bruised and yellow from them, that I began to wonder how it would survive 7 more months of it.  But hey, whatever it took, we were willing.

The nurse took us back into the room for our ultrasound.  The doctor came in with more congratulations, and some small talk about how I was feeling.  Before she started the scan, she informed us that she wanted to see a heartrate of > or equal to 120 bpm. As she began, I took a deep breath, held Shane’s hand, and looked his way instead of hers. I feared that if I looked at her, I might see disappointment or sadness, and that it would all be over again.  She quickly turned the screen for us to see that Baby A was still measuring perfectly, with a heartbeat of 136! We got to hear the heartbeat together for the first time. What an amazing experience. There is nothing like that sound. You can’t forget it.

FullSizeRender (3)
7 weeks, 3 days

Baby B was still measuring behind, but hanging on with a slow heartrate.  She informed us that by next week, she believed Baby B would vanish, and that we would go on to have a healthy singleton pregnancy. We asked some questions about this “vanishing twin,” making sure that it would not affect Baby A in a negative way. We learned that a vanishing twin is actually quite common, and that Baby A would receive all the nutrients from the loss of Baby B.  Seeing Baby A healthy and Baby B hanging on that day was a bittersweet experience for us.  We were absolutely thrilled for what God was doing with Baby A.  But, at the same time we hurt for Baby B.  We began to pray for God to take Baby B soon if that was his plan. Neither one of us wanted to see it struggling again the following week. Really though, in my heart, I hoped that Baby B would make it.

And then came the not so good news. The doctor found what appeared to be a 3rd sac.  Strangely, the sac was empty. After some more investigating, it was determined to be a subchorionic bleed.  Sounds scary, right? Like they couldn’t have given it a friendlier name.  It’s basically a pocket of blood in the uterus.  About 50% (here we go again with the statistics) of pregnant women get them, and surely I had to be in that group.

She explained that there are several possible scenarios of what can happen with a subchorionic bleed.  My husband spoke up and demanded right away, “Give us the worst case.”  The worst case scenario was that I could bleed it out, and in turn, it could flush out the pregnancy with it.  She said chances are very slim this would happen.  Ummm, very slim??? Not good enough. The second scenario was the bleed just dissipates on its own with no bleeding, almost like it is absorbed by the body.  Or, third, it sticks around the whole pregnancy and causes no harm.  I did not want this thing sticking around at all. And I definitely did not want to start bleeding again.  She told me to stay off of my feet as much as I could.  Real easy when you are a teacher!

Finally, she said she would like to continue to see me for serial ultrasounds (instead of betas!) at 8 1/2 weeks, 9 1/2 weeks, 10 1/2 weeks, and then, FINALLY, I could be released to my regular OB-GYN.  So, we set up the remaining appointments and were on our way.  On our way home, we stopped and sat under the bridge at the inter-coastal waterway.  I still recall how beautiful the water was that day.  Our feelings were all over the place between Baby A, Baby B, and the bleed.  All I know is that we thanked God for the life growing, and prayed for everything else to fall into place.

For the next week, we were literally living one day at a time.  When I returned to work, I told my administrators that they may see me sitting down more often and why.  I told my students I needed to be off my feet too.  As a teacher, I was always up and moving around my classroom, so this was going to be a challenge.  But, my students helped me tremendously, and we made it to week 8.

Twinkies

After the joy of the positive HPT’s (notice I said plural because of course we finished off the box to make sure every one came back a little darker), I got my first beta done 4 days later. The nice part about these 3 back to back betas was the fact that I was off work.  So in the mornings, I didn’t have to get up at the *** crack of dawn to get them done, I didn’t have to worry about trying to answer the phone with a classroom of 23 students eavesdropping in, and if I got bad news from one of the betas, I could easily sulk at home, no questions asked.  This was all part of our reasoning for doing a December transfer.

The first beta came back at 335, with a progesterone level of 150, when I was just 4 weeks 1 day.  The second beta, 772 when I was 4 weeks 3 days. And the final came back at 2,620 when I was 4 weeks 5 days on what just happened to be New Years Eve.  What a perfect way to bring in the new year.  And boy, did we welcome 2015!  Everyone told us it would be “our year.”  And so far, we had no reason to believe different; we made it through the betas with each one way more than doubling.  2014 was a terrible year for us and we were ready to put it behind us.  But, in the back of my mind, I was still extremely anxious.  You have to remember that our last loss we made it through those 3 betas too, only to miscarry days later. Needless to say, the days following the 3rd beta were pretty intense for us.  I kept replaying over & over the exact date & time I miscarried the last pregnancy.  Surprisingly, that day came & went, and I was still pregnant.

We scheduled our first ultrasound to see the heartbeat for 7 weeks 3 days.  I could have set it up for a little earlier but I wanted to make sure we saw that heartbeat.  I went back to work and resumed life as normal, still taking it easier than I usually would. The week after the betas was difficult.  For one, we had never made it this far.  And two, there was no more blood or ultrasound appointments.  I keep thinking I wasn’t pregnant anymore.  I called the doctor and actually requested to have a beta done! It came back at 23,000 when I was 5 weeks 5 days.  Another sigh of relief.

One afternoon not long after, while the kids were watching a presentation at school, I started to feel crampy.  I asked another teacher to watch my class and I went to the bathroom. I have to tell you that every time I peed from the moment I found out I was I pregnant, and didn’t see blood, I spoke out loud, “Thank you, God.”  I kid you not…every single time I peed.  Today, I was bleeding.  Not spotting, bleeding.  I almost passed out right then and there.  I stayed in the bathroom for about 5 minutes, shaking. Suddenly, I found myself thanking God.  I started crying out to him and I remember saying, “Okay, God, if this is what you want, it’s OK.”  I repeated it over and over again, until I was calm. I didn’t tell anyone, I just went back into my classroom and started teaching again.

At the end of the day, I emailed the doctor and told her what happened.  She said she wanted me to come in first thing the next morning to do an ultrasound and to get a progesterone level.  I was now 6 weeks 3 days. I knew that if the bleeding and cramping continued through the night, it was without a doubt over.  Even if it didn’t continue, I knew there was still a chance it was over, or would be soon.  I didn’t understand how I could be miscarrying again-my lining was thick, and I was on a blood thinner this time around.  I just kept praying I wasn’t.

I slept through the night with no bleeding or cramping.  My hubs couldn’t get off that day (but he kept assuring me that nothing was going to be wrong anyways) so my mom went with me instead. The nurse took my mom and I into the room that we had sat in so many times before over the past year.  Before she began the scan, she explained that it could be possible to not see a heartbeat today because it was too early on, and that everything could still be just fine.  Basically, don’t freak out was what she was telling me.  However, what she did need to see was a yolk sac and a gestational sac, which I knew from her and from my own research.

I laid back and held my breath.  And then, I heard the words that I had been waiting so very long to hear, that I’ll never ever forget… “There’s Baby A, with a strong heartbeat already!” She rotated the screen and we could see it fluttering. Then she turned on the doppler so we could hear it.  It was already beating over 100 bpm; 106 to be exact.  Both my mom and I were crying.  My heart was so full.  Once we calmed down, she said, “You can see Baby B’s heartbeat is flickering, but it’s not picking up yet, it’s probably just a little too early.”

TWINS!!!

FullSizeRender (1)
Baby A measuring exactly 6 weeks, 3 days, and Baby B measuring just a little behind.

My progesterone level came back perfect that day, and my cervix measured nice and long as it should.  The doctor reassured me (again), that sometimes women bleed and everything is perfectly fine with the pregnancy.  I prayed I would not be one of these women and bleed; I was too scarred from the other bleeds and how they turned out.  God answered my prayer, and I never bled again during the pregnancy.

We were still on for our appointment the following week, when I would be 7 weeks, 3 days.  I was over the moon that my hubs would get to see and hear his babies heartbeats in less than a week!! Finally!!