Friday, September 2, 2011

A call to 911, an ambulance ride, a visit to L&D ... but all is ok now.

I'm not sure if I can communicate how seriously traumatic last night was for me.

After picking up my son, around 6p, I was cooking dinner and feeling a bit dizzy and generally not well. I had some water and sat down. I let my husband finish making dinner when he got home at 6:20p. I ate dinner and had more water and told my hubby that I wasn't feeling well and that I'd be going to bed right after dinner and he asked "at 7p?" and I said "yep". I was realizing that I had been having BH contractions for like 20 mins straight with no relief. I know that you're supposed to drink water and lay down ... so I grabbed some water and headed to the bedroom.

Then I started feeling pain. I was timing things and it seemed like pain was washing over me every 8 mins, I started to wonder ... how many BH contractions do you have before you call the on-call? I called the on-call and waited for her reply. And since at that point I'd had 3, in less than 30 mins I thought ... what's the timing you should wait for if the contractions are painful and not just BH? should I be calling with these symptoms, maybe I'm overreacting? ... and then I realized ... it *wasn't* normal to have rhythmic PAINFUL contractions (it's then that I realized I was out of the realm of BH ... that took a few mins to process though) ... and then that fourth contraction was a serious doozy ... I was panting, breathing through it, I was switching positions, I called my old doula but got VM ... it felt JUST LIKE labor. It felt like back labor and I had the feeling of wanting to have a BM, I wanted to push. I knew this wasn't good. But there was no mucus plug, no bleeding ... my uterus was rock solid. It was painful to touch my uterus - that was weird. The only relief I could find was to do a hard pelvic tilt forward. But that only came with some relief.

This entire time my husband was bathing my son (on the other side of our small house) and putting him to bed - giving me time to rest ... little did he know how quickly things escalated. I tried repeatedly calling the home phone - his cell phone was next to me. He didn't answer. I yelled for him and he was shocked to learn what was going on. He tried to quickly return to handling our son, putting him down for bed, but before he could return ... I couldn't wait for the on-call to call me back nor could I wait for my husband - I couldn't imagine walking to the car and sitting for the ride to the hospital - I called 911 ... I just wasn't sure this baby would stay inside for the time it would take to be seen by a medical professional. But I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

When the EMTs arrived it had been 10 mins since the last contraction (which was great since they were more like every 8 mins), they did the vitals and my heart rate was around 125. They took me to my hospital (about 25 mins away) ... I had two mild contractions in the ambulance and noted that I was at least feeling the baby ... I was still having BH, but the pain was all but gone.

I realized I had to pee in the ambulance - and I knew that holding pee exacerbates BH and contractions, so I asked the young EMT guy (note: he was single, no kids) if he had a diaper or pad or something ... he didn't, I told him he'd need to rig something or else I was going to pee on his gurney ... we found some chux pads and some absorbent wound dressing material and I tried as hard as I could to pee en route ... but I couldn't I guess I'm too well potty trained. I felt bad for the poor young guy ... I said - "unattractive bathroom activities ... this is what you can look forward to in marriage!" Poor guy.

When I got to the ER I demanded - who's going to help me go pee! and quickly they took me to the ER bathrooms - and I realized I was barefoot (ewwww) ... the orderly got me some skid proof socks and I tell you - I haven't peed more in my life. Then they wheeled me to L&D.

When the ER nurse who was wheeling me up to L&D asked me if I was still having contractions I told her no, that they were only BH at this point. When she dropped me off at L&D the L&D nurse asked - what is she here for? ... and the ER nurse replied "braxton hicks" ... and without delay I said, "No, painful, real contractions" ... punk.

As I mentioned, after arriving at the hospital I had no more contractions. I was seen by a fantastic L&D nurse and doctor who gave me an NST and an internal/pelvic ... I told them that I had eaten/drank just as much as I usually do and though this is usually caused by dehydration, I don't think that was the case here for me. The NST showed an irritable uterus (as usual for me - I had that with all my NSTs with Dru from 32-39w and again at my anatomy scan for this LO, they could SEE on u/s my uterus contracting!) and the baby was moving a ton :-) ... I haven't had an internal with this pregnancy (I opted out of the 10w appt) but I told her that in my last pregnancy I fell at 25w and my OB found that I had a soft cervix and she had my length checked via ultrasound - and since everything was good in that case, that perhaps a soft cervix was more normal for me. So with this exam she wasn't surprised to find that it was soft around the edges, but firm otherwise and a couple of centimeters in length with no dilation or effacement ... and high up - she said there's more centimeters inside the uterus and she was encouraged by the results. They monitored me for another hour just to make sure. She also said it was good news that: I've carried a baby to term previously, that after all those painful (seemingly progressive) contractions - the cervix was robustly in tact, and that there was pain ... she indicated that incompetent cervix usually presents with no indication, no pain. That and she said we did all the right things - that was nice to hear.

While I was there, I drank 3 cups of water and I took a fourth cup on the road. When I finished that in the car, I ate some nuts my husband had packed while the EMT guys were doing there thing and taking care of me, there wasn't much else my husband could do to help - so he packed a bag and followed behind the ambulance in the car. Anyhow, while driving home from our experience, I had an incredibly dry mouth trying to eat those almonds ... and just wanted ... needed ... more water.

I got home and during the hour it took me to get to bed, I was parched for water and drank 20 oz. Between midnight and 5A, I drank 20 more ounces ... since sleeping and drinking a ton ... I've really felt almost back to normal. Now I'm really wondering if I *was* dehydrated and just didn't know it! It was 80 degrees here yesterday and I was carrying around a smaller water bottle than I usually do and I didn't fill it up MORE times to compensate. I'm hoping I was just dehydrated ... because what the heck happened??! When I asked them this, when I was afraid to be released (because there didn't seem to be a cause and without a cause - what can you do to treat it??!) ... they said that with an irritable uterus, if the baby went through a growth spurt - this could have been caused by that ... but that doesn't provide me with any action to take to avoid this in the future. Just prayer, trust, and suppressing fear.

If you're wondering why they didn't give me an IV in L&D, it's b/c I kept telling them that I drank and ate as much as I usually do - it wasn't until leaving (and needing to drink SO MUCH more water) that I realized that maybe this was a dehydration issue.

I'm so glad that is behind me. I can't even *imagine* what it would have been like going through this in public or at work or something ... it was really scary and I felt very vulnerable. Both Berilac and I kept saying why did this have to happen this week? Why couldn't it be next week??! (I'm 23 weeks and my hospital considers viability with a baby's weight of 650g - that's the 50% for a 24 week old baby) ... I have been waiting to get past viability ... and all this happened just 6 days prior. Thank the good LORD nothing more came of this ... it could have ended very poorly.

Today, I'm drinking like a camel and maintaining my pattern of eating something every 2-3 hours ... I'm hoping this will keep that experience from recurring. I've had enough drama for one pregnancy.

Praising God and thanking all my friends that surrounded me in prayer. James 5:16

With much love and gratitude,

Friday, August 26, 2011

A milkshake to celebrate gender :-)

We didn't find out Dru's gender because we felt like there were very few good surprises in life - we wanted that experience of waiting to find out. Well, we've been there, done that ... and it was nice. But I will say that as a woman who has experienced infertility/loss, not knowing contributed to my not bonding as much as I could have with my son. I kept calling him "it" rather than knowing the gender and naming the baby early. I remember being shocked that they put a live baby on my belly at delivery - I was really shocked I actually had a baby. Now, I'm not sure that's linked to not knowing the gender, but I think we can safely say that for self preservation reasons, I'm prone to not bond with a baby developing in my uterus. So ... this time, we wanted to try finding out the gender. I wanted to call the little one our baby girl or our baby boy. I wanted to start the bonding process early ... and hopefully - be able to name the baby well before they require it before letting you out of the hospital. It took us a few days to name Dru and many friends thought we were just trying to keep them on the edges of their seats - when in fact, we entered the hospital with 100 potential names - our problem is - we like 'em all! So we were kind of hoping that by finding out, we could settle on a name before we are enroute to labor and delivery ;-)

According to Ramzi’s theory, our 8 week ultrasound showed the placenta on the right side of my uterus – which is supposed to have a 97% chance at boy. I was emotionally preparing myself for another little boy. Thinking about all the advantages and disadvantages to having two little boys. I was really marinating in the possibility of little brothers.

Then came the NT scan at 12w1d – where they analyzed the nub angle or angle of the dangle (as all fetus' at this point have protruding genetalia, the techs can sometimes use the angle of it compared to the spine/backbone to correctly guess the fetus' gender) and so at mine they guessed (with 90% certainty) that this baby would be a girl – but they encouraged us not to buy anything yet.

So I went from thinking blue to thinking pink … I thought I would be excited for something new and different - for a same gender baby – but instead, I was sad not to have a baby brother for Dru. I was really getting excited about two boys. Then I started to notice the baby's movement on the right (which, according to Ramzi is supposed to mean girl) yet most people who guessed - based on how I'm carrying, would guess BOY. And Berilac REALLY thought boy and wasn’t convinced by anyone’s guesses – with nub “proof” or not (not really proof – this theory too has a good chance of being wrong)!

The ultrasound in which we found out was a sonographer training (that’s how we got it early - 18.5 weeks – and they paid us $50 to do it! Heck yeah!) so we went into it as their subjects with the caveat that we would only participate if they told us gender – and they were more than happy to cooperate! So on our way into the scan Berilac says to me “I hope it’s a boy” and with surprise, I ask him “how come?” and he tells me …. “because if it’s a girl, we’re more likely to be done having kids, if it’s a boy, I’ll want to try for a girl” … I didn't know he wanted a girl, much less, that he was interested in having more than two kids :) after all that we've been through, I was surprised to hear his inclination.

We brought in a blank card and asked that they determine gender, write it down on our card, put in a photo and seal it up. We wanted to experience learning this information on our terms, not theirs. So, they had us close our eyes when they did it and they told us the baby cooperated and that they were able to meet our wishes.

During the ultrasound, after the gender check, they used the words “she and he” and “her and him” (look at "his" vertebrae!) but it didn't seem obvious to me what we were having … so we enjoyed the rest of the ultrasound got a really cool dvd and I asked for my cervical length out of curiosity (3.7mm, good.) and we left the hospital in all smiles. We headed directly down to a local diner to celebrate. Because I have been having milkshake cravings this pregnancy we thought it appropriate to celebrate with something the baby loves! I called in advance and found out they didn’t have blueberry shakes, so we came prepared, blueberries in tow. We tried to decide if we wanted to give them the card and have them bring out one shake (Berilac didn’t want them up in our business so that was nixed), we considered ordering one shake in each flavor and only drinking the one (but that seemed like a waste) … so eventually we settled on opening the card and letting the great news absorb while we waited for our fries and appropriately colored shake to arrive.

We prayed in thanks for the amazing gift we had been given (regardless of this precious little ones gender), we opened the card, and I cried.

Berilac said “I knew it was a girl because during the ultrasound they kept using the pronoun – SHE!” I told him that I thought I saw the bits when I think they showed us a quick glance at the potty shot while moving around (because the baby moved A TON) and my first thought was … “no penis, I’ll bet that card says girl!”

But … we both still could have been wrong. It was nice to see the pic and get the confirmation. Pretty in pink, here we come. During the ultrasound, after they had told us that they were able to tell and write down for us the gender, we asked how certain they were, if they were 100% and they laughed said - you can only be certain when they are here - and they mimiced rocking a newborn baby.
We've had the official 20 week ultrasound since then (last Thursday at 21w1d, today I am 22w2d) and they were able to confirm girl again. This tech said that she was 99.99% sure it was a girl and she showed us (me and my mom this time) the potty shot - complete with three lines and nothing more. We also got to review all of the organs, the cervical length, the amniotic fluid levels, and size of the baby and everything looked "unremarkable" and "normal" ... this baby is measuring in almost exactly the 50 percentile ... so a wee bit tiny-er than Dru, and for that I'm grateful. He was 8#11 at birth and I'm hoping not to exceed that this time.
A little girl to celebrate and less than 2 weeks until viability. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heartbroken for another family ...

If you get a chance to head over to Sandi's blog about her precious twin boys, born in late January of this year, victims of TTTS ... one of their sweet boys, Sebastian, was released home from the NICU about a month ago ... but today their other precious boy lost his fight. He was 12 oz. when he was born at 27 weeks, he survived surgeries, tubes, nearly losing his life many times ... he had quite the fighters spirit. But today he went home to be with the Lord.

This family could use your love if you have a moment to give it.

Samuel Bradford Stambaugh

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy 4th

I am shocked that today marks my fourth annual blog-o-versary ... can you believe it; I've been shouting from the rooftops for all to hear ... for four years??! ... And I'm so fortunate to say that four years later, I have an amazing son and a bun in the oven - when I didn't think I would.

I'm so grateful.

In honor of that I will share my most recent belly pic :) This is me, the morning after our NT scan, 12w2d.

Check out my belly-zilla!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Extremely fortunate ...

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've checked in. Since the last post, I've been attending a parental bereavement support group on a weekly basis where I've come face to face with my broken heart. With working, and raising a toddler, life is very busy - so busy that sometimes I compartmentalize my dad's death and don't face it for days at a time. The support group provides me the space I need to take time for my grief. It's a huge blessing. I feel like I am tying loose ends, I feel so grateful.

Dru is growing by leaps and bounds. He's 18 months old now. He's got at least 100 words, he can repeat just about anything you say, so I've given up counting :-) He's been walking since the day before my Dad died. We were able to take a video to the ICU to show my dad before he passed - that was bittersweet. Dru is now running, climbing, and generally just non stop. He recently started taking 1 nap a day, and with all the chasing we do, we are grateful that that is always longer than 2 hours. He's eating four times a day, drinking 24 oz of whole milk from a sippy. He's still in diapers, but we've definitely started introducing the potty concept to him - he can tell us when he needs to pee and poo, so I don't believe we are that far off from training. I am very proud of mommy's little helper, as he carries his step stool to and from the bathroom, his high chair, and the place that it belongs - he is so independent and can do so much! It's so funny to ask him to put away his step stool - and he does! He carries his dishes to the sink, he wipes up the floor when he's spilled food, he carries his laundry to the dirty laundry bin. He puts his toys and books away and he sings along to "Clean up, clean up, everybody help!" ... we are very much so working on helping him to understand that he is part of a family and it's not all fun and games! Though we also enjoy plenty of trips to the park, many walks (with and without the stroller), sprinkler and water table activities now with the warm weather ... and we purchased three separate local amusement park season passes - so we can just jump in the car on a Saturday morning to enjoy a day out with the family! He loves those little rides :-)

My favorite story about Dru: after a minor fall or tumble, if he's crying we offer a kiss to the owie site in hopes of declaring "all better" and moving on :-) he will regularly now approach me, telling me about his owie and pointing to and saying "knee" (cause that's where the majority of them are) and I'll ask him if he wants me to kiss it and he says "kiss" ... it's very sweet. Well, the other day, we were doing some naked time as he was dealing with a pretty sensitive diaper rash (which are typically rare for us), I was laying down, playing with Dru on the diningroom floor, when he started pointing to his sweet little cheeks and declaring - "owie" as he was trying to back up into my face, all the while requesting that I "kiss" ... his hind region. My husband laughed so hard, asking me, "are you going to kiss his butt?"

And to give an update on cycles and the like ... I will tell you, after our most recent miscarriage. In January, I was pretty deflated. Combine that with the loss of my Dad and I was just crushed. Berilac and were trying to decide what to do. We knew we didn't want to travel to Colorado again (interupting our work, our families, costing a fortune) ... all to have another miscarriage. We started to consider what else was out there for us. We had some left over meds in the fridge that we didn't want going bad and we have 6 IUI's covered by our insurance that we've never used. We had nearly agreed that we would pursue the low-grade interventions of oral and injectible ovarian stimulation combined with IUI, while we investigated and prepared for embryo adoption, homestudy, fostering, and domestic adoption. I signed up for an embryo adoption website account and we were contemplating what to write in our profiles. I was calling many different agencies, including local government to learn more about adoption options. I was considering getting a homestudy that could be applied toward the many routes we were considering. I investigated my adoption benefits ... and we just soaked in as much as we could, waited, and prayed. We had hybrid cycle in February with Femera + injects + IUI and that was a BFN. We opted to take the Mar/Apr cycle off, as we needed a mental break, and that cycle would produce another Christmas baby. We instead opted to get monitored that cycle - to get an idea of what my hormonal baselines were b/c trying naturally was not something we'd actively pursued for so many cycles that I was curious where all my hormones were at at various stages of a cycle. And for the first time in 5 years, I ovulated before CD19.

I was planning on coming in on CD 17 and getting some hormone levels drawn to see what my estrogen and progesterone were doing just before LH surge, but instead I had my LH surge on CD15 (WHAT!?) and the best news was ... is that the surge disappeared as soon as it had arrived (most months my surge lasts 5-8 days ... literally, I pee on an OPK and it's positive for about a week) ... so I went in for an ultrasound, and there in my ovary was one perfect little 21mm by 21mm follicle. We gave myself a trigger shot that I had lying around (who can say they have those?) ... and my husband and I opted to ... well, DO what people trying to have babies do ;-) ... and two weeks later, I was staring at the first positive pregnancy test I had seen from a "natural" cycle in over 3 years. After Dru's birth we started trying at the 6w post partum visit, so I had tried for over a year, with a CCRM fresh IVF cycle thrown in there ... and it wasn't until 14 months later that I was looking at a positive stick.

My first beta at 14dpo was 112 (with Dru it was 108)
My second beta at 16dpo was 286 (with Dru it was 300)
My third beta at 20dpo was 1855 (we didn't do any more with Dru)
We experienced heartbeats with a perfectly measuring bean at 6w5d, 8w, 9w, and 10w.

And this past Thursday we had our NT scan and the nuchal fold was 1.3mm with a risk of DS at about 1:8000.

I am ecstatic and in utter shock.

CCRM is also in shock, they of course are very happy for me, but they really can't believe it happened. I too didn't think it would happen to me. So many embryos so few lives babies. I truly didn't think a spontaneous pregnancy could result in a healthy LO.

Sorry to have withheld this news from you. It's been a rollercoaster these last few months. It's hard to be excited and in utter joy about this baby, all while running into experiences where I miss my Dad so much it hurts. It has all been very overwhelming for me.

I am 12w5d pregnant. My next appointment is in 8 days. I'm continuing to thank God for this, and asking for protection for the little bean.

Oh ... and by the way ... this baby has a due date 3 days after Dru's 12/28 ... yet the baby was measuring 3 days large at the NT scan ... Christmas baby much? Yes, please.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The eulogy

I was honored to deliver my Dad's eulogy on 1/22 in California and 1/29 in Utah. We cremated my Dad, so the last step in this process will be spreading his ashes - that is yet to come. Below is what I shared about my Dad.


I am truly honored to be here today. Although the occasion is sad, it’s an honor and a privilege to represent my Dad’s life to those he cared for and loved most. My Dad was an amazing man, a descent human, a loving father, and a very involved grandfather. I don’t think words can do it justice – to consider how great my Dad was. Forgive me as words alone are inadequate.

On a normal day, if you happened to see my father on the street, the first impression that my father gave was that he was not materialistic – the furthest thing from it! He might have been climbing out of one of his many jalopies, coming directly from doing some form of manual labor – proven by the disheveled hair left on his balding head. Clothing: mismatched, oversized, spattered in paint. He’d be carrying half a cup of cold 7-11 coffee, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He would bounce by making conversation with anyone he passed and as quickly as he appeared, he’d be heading for his next adventure – likely whistling and smiling.

Unpredictable, maybe a little scattered, and definitely eccentric, that was the man you’d see on the outside, but I’m here today to talk about the man on the inside … that we, as the closest to him, knew him truly to be.

My Dad was warm to an impractical fault: He was an old softy. You know those adorable little chicks? The cute yellow ones that are all fuzzy and cuddly? My Dad was walking through the local pet store with my then 5 year old niece when she saw these adorable little creatures. My Dad immediately went home, brought together a make shift chicken coup and returned the next day to buy my niece a couple of chicks. He nursed those chicks in the early days – keeping them in his bedroom overnight to protect them from the cold. The bright incubator light and incessant chirping robbed him of his sleep, but he didn’t care. My niece was in love with the cute fuzzy chick aspect of these animals, my Dad knew that those chicks would grow out of their adorable phase and into that awkward pin feather stage within weeks of purchase – but he wanted to give his sweet granddaughter those adorable chicks she wanted so badly, even if the long term investment paid off only for a matter of days.

My Dad was humble: Days after turning 18 I found a room to rent and I packed my bags. In the middle of the day, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, without warning, I started loading my belongings into my car – I was moving out. My Dad was sitting at the dining room table talking with one of his tenants. He was half engaged in the tenant’s complaint and half perplexed by what his daughter was doing. My Dad was crushed when he learned that I was moving out. Weeks later my Dad invited me out to lunch, asked me how he could have missed this huge transition in his daughter’s life. He humbly admitted that he’d been an uninvolved parent throughout the years. He apologized for not taking the time to get to know his daughter. We shared some hard truths that day; we shared our hurts and found forgiveness. Through tears he asked if we could start again. From that day forward our relationship blossomed into what it is today.

My Dad faced challenges with courage: We anticipated my Dad’s death. In August of last year he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. With every doctor’s appointment he wanted and asked for the truth; if he was afraid he sure didn’t show it. He took every measure, endured every treatment; he never complained, he never wanted to be a burden. When he showed up to his first oncology appointment he arrived wearing a three piece suit with dazzling suspenders and a ridiculous grey wig and top hat. My Dad was a bit of a nut case like that, but when I look back on it now I realize he was trying to make light of the situation to protect us all from the extreme gravity of his reality. He chuckled when I let him know that when the doctor ordered a brain MRI as one of the follow up screenings … an oncologist would only look for metastasized tumors in the brain if the patient were showing behavioral issues – I called the Oncologist to provide my Dad a character witness – this cute costume get up was not something out of the ordinary for my Dad – THAT, was normal. Even in his final days, he withheld from us that he was ready to go, to the very end he was protecting those he loved most. He showed courage in protecting us.

My Dad was thoughtful: The gift was not something expensive and impressive – honestly, his gifts never were. I remember right after we had our son and laundry somehow became overwhelming – just getting to it proved challenging. When Dad was helping around the house he noticed that the washing machine knob had broken off. One night, when our son went down for bed, my Dad stepped out for a bit, and upon his return he was talking about something rather benign, the traffic or the weather or something and as he chatted, he pulled out this small accessory. Discreetly he tested the knob on the washing machine. It was a little thing, but he knew that even the little things, like a working washing machine knob made the harder things in life, like caring for a newborn … just that much easier.

My Dad valued connection and relationships: My Dad and I were very close. If ever I had good news or difficult news to share, after I got off the phone with my husband Berilac, I’d call my Dad. For many years my husband and I struggled with recurrent pregnancy loss. During that time of struggle I called my Dad four times to tell him that we were miscarrying … again. And every time my Dad did not have a trite “just relax” or an almost callous “I guess it wasn’t meant to be” … instead my Dad wept with me. When we would see each other, he would just wrap his arms around me and tell me how sorry he was. He tried to keep his tears from me; he didn’t want me to see how heartbreaking the experience was for him when he knew we were carrying our own very heavy burden.

I remember the day my son was finally born. Given our journey, many people surrounded us in love and support, waiting outside the delivery room. I tell you, if my Dad were a girl – he would have been in there with me every step of the way! When Grandpa came in to finally meet his new grandson, Berilac handed him to my Dad and my Dad through alligator tears said “we’ve been waiting a long time for you”. And he had to hand him back and leave the room to rebuild his composure. The days, weeks, and months following Dru’s birth were tough. And who was there, taking the overnight shift to allow a couple of exhausted new parents to get some sleep? … my Dad. He’d jump at the chance to change a dirty diaper. He held, and rocked, and sang to Dru – comforting him in those early days – it was such a blessing. Months before he died my Dad said to me “I am so proud of you, you are such an amazing mom” … now that would have been a nice compliment coming from anyone, but it meant so much more coming from someone who knew me and knew my life – coming from my Dad, a man I love and respect.

He was filled with compassion: My Dad not only opened up his apartments to help those who needed an extra hand, but he would also take people into his home. He would meet folks on the bus, at the store, and he didn’t care what kind of complicated trouble they were in; he judged people on their heart and their character, not on their worldly belongings. He was the kind of guy who would still pick up hitch hikers, because hey they were having a rough day – with no regard for his own safety, he would help out someone in need.

The recurring theme here is of my Dad with a servant’s heart. Whether expressing his love in warmth or compassion his actions were ALWAYS surrounded in servant hood. He would drop whatever he was doing to help another in need. The stories that I’ve shared of my Dad putting other’s first was the tip of the iceberg. I am confident that if we polled everyone in here we would hear story after story of how my Dad helped them in some way. Dad was always giving out of his heart even when he didn’t have much to give materially. He was generous with his time, always willing to help, never willing to take anything in return. When I reflect back on my Dad’s life I see a man who may have struggled a bit, but still a man with Godly character. If my Dad had a life verse, it would be:
Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

I love my Dad, I miss my Dad; I can’t believe I have to say good bye to him … for now.

In spite of all these wonderful stories my Dad had his struggles, life wasn’t always easy for him … but when I think of my Dad and the legacy he left it is the attributes mentioned today that will reach far into his family for generations to come.

And because some were asking - we miscarried on January 10, 2011. Another IVF is not in our future. I will share more of our next steps when we've had more time to process them, but as of now our best "medical" chance at a biological baby is behind us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Loss: my Dad died ... .and another miscarriage.

The night following the transfer I was bed-resting on an Amtrak train in the middle of Nevada on my way home from Colorado, when at 2AM my brother called me in a panic asking me what sort of measures he should take with my Dad in the emergency room.

What I have withheld from you for the last five months is that my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in August of this year. It was such heartbreaking news. I knew what it meant, my Dad, however, was much more optimistic about his illness. He didn't want me blogging about it because he didn't tell his family until just recently and a few of them follow my blog. So I couldn't share anything on here - which was hard. These last five months my Dad endured bi-weekly chemo treatments, moved in with us, quitting smoking, lost 50 lbs easy (and he was only 150 to start), stopped eating, slowed down quite a bit ... but that didn't stop his spirit. Two days prior to going into the ER he baked 12 dozen Christmas cookies. My Dad was a very functional dying man.

Back to that night, December 22nd. My brother and my Dad were in town, because my brother was taking care of my Dad while we were in Denver cycling. Late that night my Dad attempted to swallow one of his morph.ine pills with some water and instead slipped and choked on the water and the pill - they went right into his lungs. Almost immediately he started with shortness of breath - and he was frightened. My brother called 911, the Fire Department and an ambulance was dispatched and he was taken to the local hospital. Upon arrival the ER docs were grilling my brother on whether or not they should treat my terminal father (most stage 4 cancer patients have DNR - do not resuscitate - directions) they gave my father an hour to live, so he had 10 minutes to make up his mind about treatment - so my brother called me, as I was my father's durable power of attorney and we had discussed and signed his advanced directive ... I knew all of my father's wishes so I immediately told my brother to resuscitate, resuscitate!!! There I was woken at 2AM, trying to stay calm and receptive for these embryos - all the while stressing out about not being able to see my Dad before he died. I was going through scenarios of getting off the train in Reno or Sacramento and flying home to be able to say good bye ... even when I was on the train because I can't fly due to the stress it causes me and these little embryos. Thankfully by 5AM, before the next train stop, my Dad was put on a Bi-PAP and given antibiotics and his diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia was already looking better - according to the x-rays they had run.

I made it home and to the hospital by 8PM on 12/22. I found my Dad admitted to the ICU, hooked up to the Bi-PAP (a partial ventilator) and a glucose/saline IV, very weak, unable to breath on his own, unable to speak, and sleeping. I didn't realize the end was coming. You see this "incident" occurred 7 days after his most recent chemo treatment and most times he hit his physical low 7-10 days following chemo - so we all thought this was a set back for him and not the end. It wasn't until the late evening of the 23rd that I realized that we'd be spending Christmas in the hospital. On Christmas eve morning my Dad had graduated from the Bi-PAP and he was breathing room air - something, I found out later, the doctors didn't think would happen again for him. Then we learned that my Dad had blood clots in his legs, he couldn't move his body except for his arms so we had to worry about bed sores and more clots at this point. But his blood was WAY too thin for his condition (having clots, being a cancer patient, being a chemo patient - it didn't make sense) so we couldn't even give him blood thinner to help him, we just had to wait them out, hoping they'd go away ... and the next day, they did. We snuck the kids into the ICU and had them open up gifts from "Grandpa" in front of him - but he was so out of it with pain meds, I'm not sure he'd say he remembered the occasion. We decorated the room with pictures from our family photo shoot in September (right after we learned of his diagnosis, we took pictures to remember him by - I'm so glad we did this). We put up a tree and lights, stockings, garland, and family photo ornaments to decorate a gift wrap cutout tree taped to the wall. The best part was the santa hat placed on my Dad's cute balding head. That man was loved.

By this time it was the weekend, between me, my husband, and my brother, we took turns watching the kids (Dru and Laila our 6 year old niece) while the other two went to the hospital to visit my Dad. I was there in the early mornings to meet with the staff, strategizing about treatment options, then I'd take an afternoon break to relieve someone watching the kids, then I'd be back to the hospital for the dinner and late night timeframe because my Dad was most alert between 10P-2A. He would use that time to write messages to us on a white board or point letters out to us spelling messages - like "I want to eat" and "let me decide". So he had recovered his ability to breath and his blood levels stabilized, but he had gone 5 days without eating. It was time to start eating or time to start dying. The problem was - he had lost his ability to swallow (something we later learned had landed him in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia to begin with). When I asked our new doctor (let's call her Dr. Kavor.kian) about placing a feeding tube - kick starting him back to nutrition she told me she didn't recommend it and suggested it was time to comfort him into death. I knew my Dad was not ready for that - though I asked him EVERY night - "Dad, are you suffering? Is it time? Are you ready to say goodbye? Because we will support whatever you need to do. Always being answered ... no, I want to eat. So the doctor and I did not get along. As an infertility patient, I have learned to be an advocate - and that's what I was for my Dad until the end. That doctor didn't intimidate me. I held my ground and we followed my Dad's direction.

This was how I spent the first week of my two week wait.

Then came Monday and my Dad was determined to pass a swallow test - so that we could stop talking about feeding tubes or dying and he could get back to living. The swallow therapist came for a visit and my Dad, try as he might, could NOT swallow like he used to. He failed the test and his eyes showed so much disappointment. He had gone 6 days without food and I knew that we'd need to use the feeding tube if he had a chance - otherwise, if he wanted to keep trying the swallow test every day - even to fail - at least he felt like he was still fighting - not just waiting for death to come. That night we delayed in placing the Fente.nyl patch - because we wanted to keep my Dad alert the next morning to pass his swallow test. He agreed and endured the pain all night long, just getting boosts of 1 and 2 mg of Mor.phine while he waited for dawn to break. I met the swallow therapist at the hospital that morning and she brought him vanilla yogurt though he didn't look as excited as the day prior. She gave him a teaspoon of yogurt and he resistantly swallowed it. Somehow, on that day, Tuesday 12/28 he passed his swallow test - we were all in shock. And my Dad whom I thought would be beaming from ear to ear just gazed right passed me, as if I didn't exist. Something had changed.

My entire family was there (my mom and my two brothers - my mom and dad divorced in 2000) - I had invited them down to say good bye because I assumed he'd fail the swallow test and we'd place the feeding tube and because it was a procedure with general anesthetic - I thought there was a chance we could lose him during the process. However, he passed the swallow test so we didn't need to worry about the feeding tube. So the four of us sat together in a nearby waiting room discussing policies, paperwork, funeral wishes, etc. While we were meeting, our Pall.iative Care consult team came and visited my Dad and they had a rare opportunity to talk with my Dad without us there. The doctor saw that my Dad was not doing well. She told him that she's seen this before and that he was a dying man. She asked him about his plans to try to swallow things and recuperate from this illness but she thought he looked like he was in a lot of pain and basically she asked him if he was being honest with his family about wanting to hold on versus being ready to let go and he confided in her that he was not being honest with us - my Dad was ready to go. When this doctor told us this, we broke down into tears ... the LAST thing we wanted was to drag this out. We wanted what he wanted! They recommended the mor.phine drip and my Dad wanted it. We were told my Dad had anywhere between 1 and 48 hours (with 48 hours being very generous) this was at 2PM on Tuesday 12/28 (11dpo for our cycle).

There was about 30 minutes between being told he was ready for the drip and having it actually placed and starting to work. After I got a chance to love on my Dad and tell him that we support whatever HE wants - and kissing him and hugging him and crying with him. I was able to call and reach by speaker phone all five of his siblings, his mother, some cousins, and a handful of nieces and nephews who were all able to say their last good byes to my Dad. It was such a precious and beautiful time. I cherish those words, those acknowledging nods my Dad gave, and the tears running down his cheek. I can't imagine what was going on in his mind. And because he couldn't talk, I'll never really know. But I hope he was glad to have some closure with his family.

For the next 9 hours we sat around my Dad, playing music he enjoys, singing to him, talking to him, kissing him, hugging him, keeping him warm, crying with him. It was beautiful. My favorite part was being able to tell him that I had so much peace about his departure - that we had left nothing unsaid. My Dad and I had the best relationship. He wasn't the greatest Dad from 0 to 18, but he really turned things around and made up for it from 18-33. I couldn't have asked for more. My Dad and I were close, we forgave each other, we were and are kindred spirits. My Dad was such a good man. The things that people kept repeating about him were that he was their favorite ______ (fill in the blank) uncle/cousin/son/etc. and that he would drop everything to help someone in need. He had that giving servant's heart.

I went home to sleep around 10:30 that night, I was very reluctant ... but we knew that I had 3 embryos cooking inside of me and I needed to protect them - it's what my Dad would have wanted for sure. And so I left. At 5:15AM I woke up and looked at the clock, I wondered if my Dad was still alive. My brother called and woke us at 5:19 and told us that Dad's breathing had dropped off ... by the time we got to the hospital at 5:40, he was gone. My brother was there with him, holding him, kissing him, affirming him as a Dad and as a person. It couldn't have been any better. Yes, I would have liked to have been there - but that wasn't meant to be. My brother will forever have that time and that moment and for that I'm grateful.

Barrie Eugene Wadman
August 11, 1941 to December 29, 2010
May you rest in peace

That day my brother, my husband, and I went to my Dad's house to find the important paperwork. Amazingly we found everything we needed - the burial policy and a good amount of the pink slips to his vehicles. I found his living will and learned that he had never submitted the paperwork to make me the Executor nor the beneficiary (which is fine, there's nothing really to benefit). I spoke with his attorney and learned that because my Dad liquidated two years ago - there's really nothing to do except tell his landlord, stop his accounts, and follow through on the burial and memorial service arrangements. There will be no probate process. That and the fact that I'm not the executor makes my life a lot less crazy, so I'm glad for that.

The next morning was 10dp3dt and our time to pee on a stick. Since 6dp3dt I had been peeing on sticks and putting them away without looking at them. I wanted to know if my trigger ever left but I didn't want the emotional roller coaster of seeing BFN's prior to a hopeful BFP ... especially given all we were going through. So the morning following my Dad's death we looked. And the stick was VERY positive. I looked back at all the other sticks and the second line was there the whole time - the trigger never left. We were both subtly excited. The excitement was hard to share with the events of the previous day.

I went in for a 11dp3dt beta (on 12/31) and learned that it was 67. They wanted it above 50, so it was fine, it's just that Dru was 108 and I got a BFN at 7dp3dt with his cycle. So things weren't adding up. Then I went through beta limbo:

11dp3dt: 67
14dp3dt: 114
16dp3dt: 129 (today)

So I'm waiting on a call from CCRM. I'm pretty sure they'll instruct me to stop all medication and wait for AF.

I'm numb. I'm back at work and I'm overwhelmed.

I picked up my Dad's remains today (he wanted to be cremated). We're shooting for a service on 1/23 and 1/29 - one is out of state for his family. We'll see.

So now it's back to the drawing board, with my heart broken wide open.