The Third Time Really MIGHT be the Charm!

In the last post, we left off with Guille and I heading to the hospital on the evening of January 11th. 2016. If you remember, we went to one hospital but they didn’t have emergency gynecological services and recommended we go to Hospital Nuevo Belén. These two hospitals are about 5 minutes away from each other but it felt like the longest drive of my life.

When we got there, after what seemed like the longest wait ever, they finally called me in. Dr. Cruz attended to me. He asked some routine questions, which I answered and I told him about my two previous miscarriages. He decided to do an ultrasound. I didn’t want to look at the screen because I expected to see a bit of the same- empty sac, irregular shape, blah blah blah. Wait a few days, rest, blah blah blah.

Instead, he calmly said:

”Pero tú no estas sangrando!” (But you’re not bleeding!)

I said ”Yes, I am or at least I was!”.

He told me again that I wasn’t and said, ”No! Allí está tu bebé! Y mira, esta luz chiquitita que esta como parpadeando- es su corazón!” (No! There’s your baby! And look, that little blinking light, is his heart!)

I must have blinked like someone sprayed somethig in my eyes! I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t stop smiling! For the first time in 3 pregnancies, there was a baby AND a heartbeat! Dr. Cruz was funny and kind. He explained that it is normal to have a bit of spotting in the fifth week. He then congraulated us telling us that we’d just have to wait and see but he was sure that there was a 50% chance that the baby was going to be a boy or a girl. I thanked the doctor and we left happier than ever.

Four days later we went to my regular gynecologist and for the first time we heard the baby’s heart. I made my doctor play it over ad over. I asked him so many questions! Was the heart rate normal? Was it strong? Did everything look ok? He answered my questions as best as he could and laughed a little.

He scheduled me to come in every 2 weeks- since my pregnancy was considered ‘high risk’ due to the miscarriages that I had suffered not too long ago. I had to continue with progesterone tablets and he added low dose Aspirin to the mix- to prevent blood clots.

 

20160115_083740
Ultrasound- the day we first heard his heartbeat! 🙂

The 2 week wait always seemed like an eternity. Since it was still early and I couldn’t feel the baby move yet, I was always anxious and impatient just waiting for the appointment dates to roll around. After the 12 week scans and tests, my doctor then told me that I was no longer high risk and he would now only need to see me once a month.

While that was exciting news, it also made me nervous. I would now have to wait longer. There would be no extra monitoring or tests. Each time I went to the doctr, everything was fine. The baby, who we had by then found out was going to be a boy- MUCH to my delight- was healthy and progressing well. He was even measuring bigger than most babies measured.

I still couldn’t get all the way excited. Every day I was nervous about something. I didn’t go on the Internet to read much about pregnancy and babies because I know I’d just convince myself that something was wrong or diagnose my baby with some disorder or deformity.

Hearing his heartbeat and feeling his kicks assured me that he was still alive but those appointments were now few and far between. I was so paranoid that I decided that maybe I should buy a home heart monitor. I looked at applications that I could possibly download so I could hear his heart everyday. Everything was either too expensive or had bad reviews.

I checked to see if I was spotting SEVERAL times a day and the if the baby moved a bit more or less than usual, I was convinced I needed to run to the hospital. Guille was good about calming me down and trying to reassure me that everything was and would be fine.

You see, the truth is, no matter what the doctors said, how much physical and medical proof I had that the baby was fine. At the back of my head and in the pit of my stomach was that sadness over the two previous miscarriages.

I have a healthy, happy and handsome almost 6 month old baby. In many ways, I had what many would call, a great pregnancy- no morning sickness or any of the other common complaints (except the last month and a half or so), I didn’t gain a lot of weight either. At the same time, I didn’t enjoy being pregnant, like some women do because I was worried the entire time- worried and scared.

I didn’t share that was pregnant on social media until I was pretty far along. I didn’t want to publicise my pregnancy and then have to explain or answer any questions if something bad happened.

The main reason I eventually shared was to help myself get over some of the anxiety; to attempt to positively reassure myself that things were going well and they would continue that way. It didn’t take away the fear or anxiety though.

In many ways, I feel like suffering two miscarriages robbed me of enjoying what is supposed to be a very beautiful time- or at least I allowed it to rob me of the experience.

In my next post, I’ll share my labour and delivery story.

Please know that if you have experienced a miscarriage or had a still birth, you are not alone. It’s normal to be sad, depressed and angry. Seek professional help or at least talk to someone. I joined an online support group called Daily Strength. It didn’t take away the pain but it did help to know that I wasn’t alone.

IS The Third Time The Charm?

In my last post I shared the story of my miscarriages. Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is a lot more common than we may realise or want to admit. As common as it may be, it’s still not at all a pleasant experience.

For me, it was obvious that I had no problem getting pregnant. After all, I had gotten pregnant twice in the space of about two and a half months. Other friends had been trying for almost a year with no success (an equally frustrating experience).

In Spain, the protocol is that only after 3 consecutive miscarriages will they run tests because again, miscarriage, although sad, is very common. Some weeks after the second miscarriage I went to our family doctor. I don’t remember why I went. Maybe to get a letter or something- I don’t know. What I do remember, is that she said that if we would be trying again, we should wait about 3 months.

Well… I just lost it. ”3 months for what? To go through this shit again?” I asked her. I told her I was never going to have a baby and that she might as well schedule me to tie my tubes. I would prefer to go through that than to get excited all over again and then have it go sour in a matter of weeks.

To cut it short, she scheduled me for testing. The public system here, though really good, can be a bit slow. So we scheduled with my private doctor and he ordered some tests to determine whether or not Guille or I had some genetic issue or something that was preventing the pregnancies to progress successfully.

By the time we sucked it up and made the appointment, had the tests done and got the results. I was pregnant yet again. The results showed that we were both healthy and confirmed that the miscarriages were just ”bad luck”- that somewhere along the way, something went wrong and the pregnancy wasn’t viable.

I suppose that was good news but it still stung that I’d just had bad luck.

On Christmas Day, I put the positive pregnancy test under our little tree for Guille. I spent all of Christmas break lying down with my hips elevated and my feet up. I decided on my own that i was going to take progesterone pills. I went to the doctor a few days after my birthday and he confirmed that I was pregnant and said things looked good, though it was too early to be sure. I told him I was taking progesterone (though he didn’t prescribe it), so he told me to continue.

January 11th. 2016. I’m 5 weeks along and back at work after Christmas holidays. I go to the bathroom between classes and again… I’m spotting. I call my friend Lucía who’s the only person at work who knows I’m pregnant and she comes to where I am and I just cry and cry and tell her I absolutely cannot go through another miscarriage; that I am pretty sure the sadness of it will sink me into a deep depression or kill me. She offers to take me to the doctor or whatever I need and tells me repeatedly not to worry.

I pull mysef together, call my doctor and finish teaching my class. It’s a Monday so I will have to wait until Wednesday to see my doctor because Tuesday is his day off and I work in a different city and it will take me over an hour to get to his office. So I hope for the best and see if I can wait until Wednesday.

BY the end of the day I’m barely spotting but I’ve cried at least 2 or 3 more times and the principal (along with half the staff) now knows I’m pregnant. I get home and decide that I have to go to the hospital because I won’t get through the night without worrying myself sick.

We head to Nuestra Señora de América hospital but they don’t have gynecologial  emergency services and they tell us we can go to Hospital Nuevo Belén.

That night was the beginning of 38 weeks and 4 days of nervousness and worry.

 

Mind Your Business & Miscarriages

A very common question that people like to ask, especially once you are a newly wed or have been in a relationship for some time, is when you are going to start having children. I too, have asked friends this and while they’ve always smiled and or given an answer, what they should have done was told me to mind my business!

IF, when, where, how and with who people choose to have children with is a very personal matter. You never know why someone who YOU think should have children doesn’t and by asking you just may be bringing up something painful for them. So mind your business, will you!

Before I had my very precious almost always smiling little boy, I also had two miscarriages. One at 5 weeks and another about 2 months later, at 8 weeks. The first pregnancy wasn’t planned but we had just done our pareja de hecho, I was late but not too concerned (cuz I was wearing a white dress) and I was sure I wanted to have a baby eventually with Guille anyway. (Guille would be HuzBun dearest from a previous post).

So I took a test, it was positive and we were shocked but happy. Didn´t waste too much time in telling our immediate family and one or two close friends. A few days later, I start spotting but friends who have had children tell me it’s normal and the Internet indicates more or less the same. So I carry on with life.

The spotting gets heavier and the colour changes so I decide I need to go to the hospital. They examine me and tell me I need to rest due to amenaza de aborto which translates to risk of miscarriage-I’m worried and scared and pray like crazy but about a week later, my gynecologist says something to me about the embryo and the sac being irregular. I can’t tell you what he said because I was crying so hard. He said it’s normal and it happens. I respond that I don’t care and I don’t get why it has to happen to me.

usound
Sac with no baby

The miscarriage drags on and the remnants of what would have been a baby leave my body in the form of an extremely heavy and painful period.

The next few days I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions but was mainly just angry. Angry at God, at my body, at my husband (then partner)and very angry with people who said to me ”Well at least it was early. You weren’t that far along!”. I suppose the purpose of those (stupid) commments was to comfort me but all it did was piss me off more.

After being angry I was jealous. Jealous of everyone with a baby and every smiling, glowing pregnant woman I saw. One day I went to the park and sat for about an hour just looking at mothers with their children and babies and baby bumps and that’s when I decided that surely these women have nothing over me. They were no better than me and if they could have a baby, so could I! So while Guille was hesitant, I wanted a baby! And I usually get what I want.

A little over a month later, I was pregnant again! I got prescribed low dose aspirin and progesterone shots. Once the injections were finished, we switched to progesterone pills. I felt fine. There was no spotting and every week I rejoiced!

I passed the 5 week mark and was optimistic! 6 weeks! 7! Going great! and then the spotting started again. I didn’t wait to hear from a doctor, I just knew it was going to happen again. Later that evening, we went to the doctor and the same story about an irregular sac. I decided they didn’t know what they were talking about so we went to another doctor and they said almost the same thing but that I should rest. SO I confined myself to bed, put a pillow under my hips and had my feet elevated. The spotting stopped, friends came to visit and we decided to go on a mini road trip to the beach. The doctor said I could, but that if the spotting came back I knew what that meant. So I stayed on the beach while my friends went to the aquarium, still hopeful and smiling.

beach

A few days pass and I go back to the emergency room, they examine me and tell me to rest and come back in about a week to see if anything changes. I go back a few days later and things have changed but they are worse and they tell me they can schedule me for a D & C the next morning or insert pills in me to bring on contractions and help my body pass the remnants of the pregnancy out.

I chose to have the pills because going home and waiting hours knowing what would happen the next morning was too much for me. I didn’t speak to the doctor because I was angry with her and when she put the pills in me and it hurt I didn’t cry or react because I was pissed at my body and thought I would ‘ignore’ it in that way.

misagain
Sad after Miscarriage # 2

Fifteen minutes later I started having the worst cramps I’ve had in my life. I could barely walk. I got home and intense cramping, felt a constant need to go to the toilet and vomitting. Add heaving bleeding to the list and you have the process of miscarriage # 2.

A year later I would experience these symptoms again but with a completely different outcome.

I suppose that each miscarriage is different and that varies even more with each woman. For me they both started with spotting. I didn’t have pain until the process started- by the process I mean my body actually passing  out the remnants. I use the word remnants, not to be cold but because in both cases there was no embryo or a barely developed one. According to my doctor the foetus is what comes after the embryo develops. I don’t know how accurate that is but I’m no doctor.

I had one naturally occurring miscarriage and the other was induced. With both, the cramps were almost similar to labour pains with a lot of bleeding. At some point you pass a HUGE clot and then the pain becomes a bit more bearable- more like regular period pains. The pain eventually subsides but the bleeding lasts about 2-3 weeks.

The emotional side effects lasts probably forever. Even though, I now have a healthy, happy beautiful 5 month old, I still get upset about having lost 2 pregnancies. I still wonder what life would have been like if I had a baby before. Would those babies have been boys or girls? Would they look like Liam? Would they be happy and smiley like he is? SO many questions!

So, the next time you think about asking or commenting about a woman not having children, stop yourself. She’ll talk to you about it or bring it up if she wants to.

In my next post, I’ll be discussing how these 2 miscarriages affected my pregnancy and how you can heal emotionally after losing a pregnancy or baby.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated!

Whose Body is This Anyway? Part 2- It’s All About the Boobs

Like many of the things pregnancy and baby-related, I thought breastfeeding would be simple. As simple as: you have the baby, your milk comes in, you breastfeed the baby until you see fit. That’s how it goes- as simple as that- in VERY FEW CASES! Breastfeeding is not as easy as you may think, but this post is not about breastfeeding. It’s about the stuff that happens to you actual BREASTS that no one bothers to mention or at least they don’t go into it in much detail- Have no fear, Queen Overshare is here!

2z23lxa

Somewhere during that 2 hour period of skin to skin bonding with my baby, a midwife came in and asked me if I was going to breastfeed him and if I wanted to try. I said yes, they turned Liam’s head towards my breast and he made his way- unassisted to the nipple, latched on and fed until his little heart was content. Great right? Amazing! Loving, sweet touching and all that!

Why however did the boob he wasn’t feeding from hurt?! And more so, why did no one tell me about this? So with that put out there, here goes my list of things that happened to my boobs that I wasn’t prepared for…

  • In Trinidad, we have a saying ‘don’t let yuh right hand know what the left is doing‘ (or something like that). If this applied to breasts, then I’d be in trouble. Aside from the ‘pain’/tingling in the breast that I wasn’t breastfeeding from, out would spout milk as well. Anywhere from a goteo to a full fledged chorro. Granted, this happens more if the baby hasn’t breastfed in a few hours and not every time you breastfeed. But it almost always still catches me by surprise.

What can you do? Wearing breast pads is handy so that you don’t get your shirt wet. My favourite disposable ones are Medela and Chicco brand. They’re soft and discreet and not too expensive. I also bought some washable organic bamboo nursing pads but as fancy as that sounds, I honestly didn’t like them that much. They’re bigger than the disposable ones and absorb a bit more, you can also obviously wash them and use them time and time again, but I just prefer the disposable ones.

 

  • I don’t know if this has to do with pregnancy and breastfeeding or my skin just happened to be really dry but OH DEAR LORD did my boobs itch the first  couple of months! Obviously you can’t scratch too hard because breasts are sensitive, that or you’ll end up squirting milk everywhere! But I just wasn’t prepared for the constant itchiness.

What can you do? There are tons of creams for this but I didn’t like any that I tried. What worked for me was olive oil- extra virgin. Right after getting out the shower I’d rub olive oil all over my boobs and let them air dry (or at least try to- let’s face it, long, luxurious showers are a thing of the past). If you don’t have time to let them air dry; you can gently pat them dry. The olive oil on your nipples is safe for the baby as well. (Says our pediatrician).

 

  • Then there was the one (read thousand) time, my boobs were so full that they were rock hard, a little lumpy and hurt like a bitch! This happened a lot in the beginning. They recommend you feed the baby every 2-3 hours for about the first 2 weeks, then you feed on demand- that can be as often as every hour or two or more than 5 or 6  hours if your baby sleeps a lot. Because our bodies are wiser than we realise, so our boobs tend to fill up around the time our baby will want to be fed. Perfect! Or maybe not, because sometimes they fill up really fast and you might have the spillage I mentioned before long with some pain and tingling. But what you may also notice is that your boobs are hard (call them firm if it makes you feel better) and they hurt to touch. They also look very ‘veiny’.

What can you do? Take a warm shower or put warm wash cloths on your boobs. This alleviates some of that pain and tenderness and it helps get rid of some of those lumps. It may cause the milk to leak out though.

 

  • WHOSE boobs are these?! There is so much that can go under this heading. The fact that your baby is now the CEO of your breasts is probably the top of the list. Your baby gets the boobs when are where he/she wants/needs. Once they hit about 2 or 3 months and start observing things around them, so they pull your boobs in which ever direction that catches their attention and without much gentleness while feeding! Also the fact that it’s hard for your boobs to be used during ‘sexy time’ because getting milk squirted in your eye or face is pretty much un-sexy (unless you’re into that kinda thing…). But in direct response to my question… your boobs when full are round and firm. After breastfeeding they are soft and saggy! My haven’t fallen to my navel just yet but once they aren’t full, they are somewhat sad looking! The joys of motherhood, I suppose! Does this get better? I’m not sure because I’m only 5 months in and will probably be breastfeeding for at least another 5! Who knows though. I hope it does but if it doesn’t at least I know my saggy boobs would be the result of a good deed and a full baby!

What happened to you boobs after pregnancy? Anything really strange or funny? Please feel free to share in comments.

 

***Just as a disclaimer (after the fact): This is about my experience. While other mothers have shared that most, if not all of these things have happened to them as well. This is not a guide to what will happen to you but if any of it does- know that it’s perfectly normal or at least, that it’s happened to me! However, if anything feels uncomfortable, too painful or just off, please see your doctor, midwife or lactation specialist.

Whose Body Is This Anyway? Part 1- And this belly?

The other day, while taking a shower- a quick shower- somewhere around soaping my tummy, I stopped and wondered ”what the hell happened here?!”.

Now I know I had a baby. I know my belly went from being the size of a LARGE watermelon to the size of- well… a smaller watermelon but jeez!

My friend Daniella, who really gives me great advice and is always there to give an encouraging word, always reminds me ”It took you 9 months to get this new body, don’t stress to get your body back to the way it was in 2 months”.

She’s absolutely right.

Everyone knows that during pregnancy, your body changes. There are the obvious physical changes that everyone is more or less aware of. Then there are the internal ones that maybe not everyone talks about.

Let’s start with the belly!

BLACK BELLY- During my pregnancy, I obsessively rubbed cocoa butter on my stomach every day- in the morning and at night. I would have my mother send me blocks of cocoa butter with anyone I knew who was coming from Trinidad because I couldn’t find it in Madrid. I was 8 and a half months pregnant with not a stretch mark in sight. 

20160813_140034

Now, I have pretty dark skin- deep mocha, I like to say. So I was quite shocked when I happened to look at my belly a few days after having my son and notice that it was black. I’m not talking about the ‘linea nigra’; I mean my entire belly was black. 

Apparently, this is hyperpigmentation which has different causes and can show up on any part of your body. During and after pregnancy, it’s mainly due to hormone (mainly progesterone) levels. 

If this new tummy colour wasn’t enough, it was also now covered in stretch marks. Lord knows l wasn’t pleased

Now, 5 months later, my stomach  has more or less returned to its normal colour but unfortunately, I haven’t found a ”cure” for stretch marks. They’re somewhat less visible and no longer itchy but they’re there. I make sure to put lotion on my stomach after I shower. Just that and hoping for the best but I’m not holding my breath.

SOFT JIGGLY FLABBY BELLY- I have never really been a skinny chick with a flat stomach (past the age of about 18 or 19) and I’ve never really cared to be. The one thing I’ve always been was thick skinned and firm- literally. Nothing jiggled unnecessarily. Well, until giving birth!

It’s recommended that you wait at least 6 weeks to begin/resume exercising if you’ve had a vaginal birth. The time is longer after a caesarean birth- for obvious reasons. I waited my 6 weeks and got the all clear to do light exercises. So I started off going to yoga for Mummy & Baby. I also tried exercising at  home. Let’s just say, I started this almost 3 months ago and I’m only today on day 3. Every time I tried t exercise, my baby would suddenly be extra fussy or need to be fed or changed. I took comfort in the fact that breastfeeding burns calories.

Now that my son is a little older and can entertain himself for a little bit, it’s become a little easier to exercise. I highly recommend this program I’m currently doing- 8fit. It can be done at home and on your own time . The program offers short, effective workouts, tailored to your specific goals. There are also meal plans and delicious recipes.

It will probably be hard to start whatever you decide to do- unless you are a fitness enthusiast. Whatever it is, start small. It can be as simple as taking your baby for a walk and walking 5 minutes longer. Every little bit counts. And while it may take a while to get that flat (or whatever you had before) stomach back, I can assure you that you will feel much better by just doing something for yourself.

WHAT THE GAS? The last thing I’m going to mentnion quickly has to do what goes on inside the body. I’m not going to get all biological or too graphic. But basically, after all that moving and stretching your organs experience during pregnancy, they need time to settle back into place. With this settling come (or goes) lots of gas.

My only advice is to take it in stride and in good humour. SO you fart 3 or 4 times in a row without trying- and maybe you have company? Oh well! Shit happens- not literally-at least not to me- but you just grew and gave birth to a little person. You can be excused- pun intended!

Did anything out of the ordinary or totally unexpected happen to your tummy after having your baby? I’d love to read about it.  Leave me a comment!