Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Alicia's Story -- Baby Kenneth, Stillborn at 22 weeks

Alicia contacted me through email and asked if she could share the story of her son. Kenneth was stillborn just last week, following 9 years of trying to conceive and a diagnosis of secondary infertility.

Thank you, Alicia, for sharing the story and photos of your beloved son.

-- Rachel

I recently gave birth to my son Kenneth Raymond, Jr. He was 22 weeks and 5 days old. He was 11" and weighed 1 lb., 10.5 oz.

My son was healthy, and up until that point, my pregnancy was problem free. He didn't take his first breath but he "lived." He lived inside my heart and he made his presence known from the inside every day.

The journey I've endured to conceive my son started nine years ago. I had many difficulties trying to get pregnant. I was diagnosed with secondary infertility after two years of trying. I've taken fertility drugs, I've done artificial insemination but to no avail. I still wasn't pregnant.

I had personally given up and had begun to deal with the fact that I would possibly never have children. After getting married last year, my husband would tell me of these visions he had of me carrying his child. Those visions and the way he described them were music to my ears and that alone made me look into seeking treatment again. After some tests we found out that my fallopian tubes were blocked and that that was probably the reason why I've been having a hard time conceiving.

I opted to have laparoscopic surgery to open my tubes, and lo and behold three months later I was pregnant with our son. I was ecstatic and my family was so excited for me because they knew how much I had longed for this. My one goal in life when I was a child was to be a mom.

Two days before losing my son, I had what I thought would be a regular monthly check up with my doctor. I mentioned some spotting and slight bleeding from the day before which prompted them to do a speculum exam. I had begun to dilate and my son's membranes had begun to bulge through my cervix. I was sent to the emergency room right away. I was admitted and kept under observation. I was having contractions I had yet to feel and my cervix was slowly opening throughout the day.

I had high hopes in getting a cerclage placed in but it was too late. My son was slowly pushing through and through. This was all due to a bacterial infection and an incompetent cervix. There was nothing my husband and I could do except expect the arrival of our son.

He was absolutely beautiful. The moment I held him in my arms was pure bliss. It tore me up inside to have to let him go knowing that meant I'd be coming home with nothing but a card with his prints and two pictures of his lifeless body.


It hurts every day. Without the love and support of my husband, I'm not sure where or how I'd be right now. As our last wish, we decided to cremate our son so that he could be by our side forever.

It's a scary thought for us right now, but we have hopes in conceiving a child again. Our son in some type of way has taught us what to look out for this time around. Because of him, we know what has to be done in order to carry out a full-term pregnancy.

Thank you for letting me share my story. I hope it inspires others to do the same.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Can someone PLEASE just find that switch?

I'm not sure exactly the moment when it happened, but I'm pretty sure it happened the moment that second line popped up on the pregnancy test with Olivia.

A switch was flipped.

And for the life of me, I don't know how to turn it off!!!

It was the baby-making switch. The one that gears my heart, my finances, my emotions, my decisions, my (lack) of rational thinking, my fears, my apprehensions, my (almost) everything in me to wanting to MAKE A BABY!

That switch got turned on with Olivia. I desperately wanted to make her, keep her, and love on her forever.

I didn't get 40 weeks with her. I didn't get to take her home. I got 7 weeks with her. It was not enough.

But that switch did NOT turn off. In fact, whatever messages it was sending my body only increased in intensity and drive.

I wanted Caleb. I wanted Elliot.

Now, I'm pretty sure what you might be thinking. "But Rachel," you may say, "you have little miss. You have Maddy. You have full arms and a full heart. You are in the middle of adopting. Surely you are satisfied??"

And the answer is . . . "Yes, I know those things. Yes, my arms and heart are full. But I'm not satisfied. That switch is still on. No matter how much I try to ignore it, appease it, educate it, rationalize to it, excuse it, give in to it, talk about it, indulge it . . . that stupid switch is still on and I can not turn it off."

And you know what? I think you should know that if I COULD turn it off, I actually would at this point. I really would. I would wait until my next promotion. I would wait until Ryan has his dream job. I would wait until the adoption is finalized. I would wait until we owned our home. I would wait until Little Miss was potty trained.

There are billion things I could wait for to make the timing "perfect."

And yet, that switch keeps sending me the message:

 "NOW. Do it now. Make that baby now. Try this month. And if you don't get it, try next month. Keep on trying. Because you don't know how many eggs you really have left. You don't know their quality. You don't know how much time you truly have before your ovaries stop doing their job, nor do you know when all those "perfect" circumstances will line up. You don't know how many more miscarriages or losses you will endure before you bring home a live baby. You have no idea. SO for the love of EVERYTHING IN YOU, KEEP GOING GIRL!!!!"

And yes. That's really what it sounds like.

The hard part is that I don't feel like many people understand. Nor are they supportive. Now, don't get me wrong. They are supportive of ME and love me to death. They are supportive of our family. But they are tired of seeing me hurt. Maybe they want me to move on. Maybe they are telling me I'm doing enough right now, I can't handle another loss or another high-risk pregnancy. Maybe they just don't want me to risk my life again. Maybe they want me to focus on little miss right now, and not another baby.

There are some people that really understand from MEND and from our Rainbow Baby group. But most, well, most don't.

And I get it. The part of my brain that is still totally rational can agree with most of their cases, and I could logically say, "Sure, it's probably not the best time to be trying to conceive."

But I can't find that switch.

It is like being hungry. You can tell yourself it hasn't been that long since you've eaten. You can tell yourself that you shouldn't feel so hungry right then. You can avoid all restaurants, and menus, and even ignore the fridge. You can refuse to read on Facebook what others are currently eating for dinner. You can even give meaning and purpose to your hunger.

But you can't just will away hunger.

It is a force to be reckoned with, willing your body to just satisfy it!

And a force just like the one that is in me.

I wish I could find the switch. I really do.

But I can't.

So, please, be patient and gentle with me as I work through this. As we try to conceive (or try not to conceive even when I want to) and I go through a lot of ups and downs every month. Please don't remind me of every reason right now is the wrong time, because I know all that. Know that some months Ryan and I are on the same page, and other months we really aren't. He is the rational one in all of this, and I'm doing my best to have us make good decisions and be as much on the same page as we can be.

Maybe instead, just ask me how I'm doing with all of it. And be gentle.

And one last favor -- if I do get pregnant and we have a baby, please don't ever say "I knew you'd be pregnant as soon as you adopted! It always happens." OR "You just had to let it go and relax. Once you let it go, God knew and gave you a baby." Or anything like that sort.

We aren't adopting so we can get pregnant. We adopted because we set on that course of action before we were pregnant with Olivia, and I always wanted to adopt. We've been on the adoption road for more than 2 years. We are adopting because we love little miss.

And "relaxing" has never really been a cure for any disease, let alone infertility. So we'll just leave that one alone, too.


One last thing. (I promise). Thanks for still reading my blog. I know it's a lot of the same . . .  "I want a baby I can't have." But -- you're still here, and I still appreciate your support. Maybe now more than ever. <3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

15 things you thought you knew about miscarriage . . .

1. Miscarriage could happen to you. But you never thought it would.

2. It couldn't happen to you -- you're too strong.

3. It couldn't happen to you -- you're not strong enough.

4. If it DID happen to you, it wouldn't take long to move on.

5. Love must grow with weeks. The later the miscarriage, the longer and harder the grief.

6. In a miscarriage, the baby just sort of disappears . . . there is no labor or contractions involved.

7. You are safe after 12 weeks.

8. If you lost a baby to miscarriage, your friends and family would know exactly how to support you in your sadness.

9. As long as miscarriage happens in the first trimester, the grief can't be that bad.

10. If you take your vitamins, exercise, plan it out just so, and do everything RIGHT, you are not at risk of a miscarriage.

11. Only unhealthy babies and pregnancies are lost to miscarriage. There are very few other reasons for a loss before 20 weeks.

12. You have control over your body.

13. You would know if something was wrong with your baby.

14. Miscarriage is a bump on the road to family-building. You can always try again.

15. Miscarriage is a tragedy for other people. Not for you . . . Never for you.

15 things you thought you knew about miscarriage . . . 
until you had one.