Our sweet Eila girl is now two months old and happy as a clam. She is such a pleasant baby like her brothers before her. But she wouldn’t even be here had I listened to the opinion of my former doctors. Even after firing those doctors, our girl (and this mama) hit one road bump after another. Here’s how it all went down:
If you read this post you know I had a miscarriage while we lived in Nashville. It wasn’t my first rodeo. It was actually my third. So, any positive pregnancy test I’ve ever gotten has come with some trepidation. This time was no different. Especially since this test was positive on the EXACT same day as the one only a year before, June 2nd. The good news is I am VERY in tune with my body. I pay attention to the cues my body gives me and I stay very much in-the-know when it comes to my medical options. Otherwise, our little girl might not have been.
So, the day I got a positive test I called the office of the midwife who delivered my 2nd child and set up an appointment right away. With three miscarriages under my belt I knew the drill and I wanted to make sure I had early prenatal care no matter the outcome. But I also have an abnormal, albeit regular, cycle and I knew I was the earliest I could possibly be in the pregnancy for a positive test to even show up. So, my goal in setting up the appointment was to get in, get reacquainted since I hadn’t had a baby in almost 6 years, and establish a baseline. I made sure to mention the specifics about my cycle dates and point out that I was extremely early and that their date “wheel” would not give an accurate depiction of how far along I was. I saw the P.A. that day and I can only assume she chose not to hear that part of my medical information. Or she didn’t trust that I knew my own body better than she did. My blood was drawn to measure the amount of HCG and labs would be repeated two days later to see if the number had doubled. Now, here’s where it can get really scientific and I won’t go into all of the science and debate over how many days apart you should test HCG levels or if you should at all or if it makes a difference before or after a certain point in the pregnancy. The point is, my first round of HCG levels didn’t double. I was scheduled to have the blood work repeated. Blood would be drawn and drawn again 48 hours later to see if it would double the second time around. It did not. Now, I know it is common place for doctors and midwives to expect the HCG to double. But a simple blood test was not enough for me to call it a loss yet. I had no other symptoms to suggest such a thing. I was scheduled for an ultrasound as a last resort before calling it a miscarriage but you could already sense the P.A.’s tone. She had made up her mind and you could see it. She informed me that they would be looking for a yolk sac or something, anything in the uterus. And that if they didn’t find one we would need to explore our options for helping my body through a miscarriage. I informed her that it was much too early according to my calculations to see anything in the uterus. And of course, the ultrasound showed nothing but a thickened lining that might’ve been preparing for a baby. But no yolk sac, no baby, nothing.
If you’ve ever experienced a miscarriage you know how it plays out at the doctor. If you have to go into a room that doesn’t have needles or a place to put your feet up with your pants down then it’s usually not good news. If it’s just talking you’d usually rather not. And on this day, I was taking the long walk down the hall to the “office.” The P.A. came right out with it. “So, it looks like you’re miscarrying. If you don’t start to bleed in the next couple of days I’d like to go ahead and start you on methotrexate to help your body along.”
Ummmm, excuse me?! You mean a chemotherapy drug? To do what my body has done naturally, on it’s own, and without any hiccups, three times before? Why would I do that? Why, when I’ve already told you I don’t have any cramping or bleeding and that my dates are different than the ones you have written down on your paper, take a drug to terminate my pregnancy? All because my HCG didn’t double and nothing was seen in my uterus?
Something didn’t feel right about that.
I understand that sometimes these interventions are necessary and can’t be avoided. And I’m all for modern western medicine when medically necessary. But my body had given no indication that I needed to help it along and something just felt wrong about doing so at that point in the game.
So, I said “Thank you” in the bitchiest tone I could muster (since the P.A.’s bedside manner had been rather flat and cold anyway) and headed straight home to find a new doctor.
And since we all know this story has a happy ending I’ll cut to the chase. My HCG levels NEVER doubled. Repeated testing at my new doctor’s office showed them rising but never doubling. Which isn’t the norm. The new doctors and midwives were realistic, but sensitive, in explaining that this might not be a viable pregnancy but that we didn’t have to intervene unless something went awry and we could just wait. So we did. We waited, because my body was not giving any indication that we should do anything to the contrary, and we ended up with a healthy baby girl. Had I not listened to my body and trusted my instincts I would’ve terminated a perfectly healthy baby at the advice of a hasty medical professional. I’ve thought many times about other women who might sit in that same chair. Only it’s their first time hearing news like that, faced with a tough decision, hormones surging through their bodies making a hard thing even harder to think about, only to have a doctor they trust tell them it’s over and it’s time to help the body so the mind can move on. What if that baby is perfectly healthy like mine was but just didn’t follow the baby protocol that all the science books deemed “normal?” What if that mama had a weird cycle last month or something out of the ordinary took place? Would she know that she knows that she knows? It’s scary to think about.
That wasn’t the end of our uphill climb to meet our Eila girl. We faced a new battle every week it seemed. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in the first trimester, for which I am still on medication for. The medication causes a skin defect if given in the first trimester so I had to wait it out until the second trimester to get any relief from my busted thyroid. The thyroid issues caused a boat load of other issues: pounding and racing heart, shortness of breath, chest pains, dizziness, headache, the worst kind of exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, depression. And then came the maternal-fetal specialist appointments to monitor how she was growing since babies of hyperthyroid moms can have trouble growing. Later those visits would turn into monitoring her for a goiter. Next came the cardiologist to monitor the wacky things going on in my chest. And the late night trip to the ER for chest x-rays, echocardiograms, ultrasounds on both legs to check for blood clots. And then the hematologist because my iron levels got so low that I had the blood count of a ghost. The entire pregnancy, from HCG blood test right up to delivery day, was fraught with scary medical terms like congestive heart failure, autoimmune disease, blood transfusion, goiter, etc. I was physically spent but my mental game took a big hit, too. Every week, for 39 weeks, I felt like I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Tests always followed with waiting for results. And I had a new test every other week. I hadn’t been sick enough to see a doctor in years. My own primary care doctor considered me a “new patient” because I had not needed him in 7 years! I was rarely ever sick most of my adult life and now I had seen more doctors in a few short months than I had in years. All the waiting for results and the accompanying anxiety took a toll on my already tired body. When 39 weeks rolled around and she stopped moving, my doctors and midwife made the call to take no chances. We had dodged enough bullets. When I let them know I had not felt her move in 24 hours they sent me to the hospital straight away.
The labor and delivery went fairly smooth. There were some really low blood pressure scares for me and some really low heart rate scares for her but only 10 hours after I walked in we had our girl, healthy and happy.
Before we left the hospital her thyroid and my thyroid had to be checked. Mine was fine and hers was elevated. But a week later hers had normalized and the only issues we had left to address were an umbilical stump that fell off early and wouldn’t stop bleeding (which our pediatrician fixed right away) and reflux (which we’re still working through). She is perfectly perfect.
We arent getting much sleep but, in general, she is a delightful and pleasant baby. The baby we didn’t plan for, who almost wasn’t, that tried to kill me from the inside, makes me want a thousand more. What IS that phenomenon? It makes no sense, only that:
Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
(Psalm 127: 3-5)
Eila Winter: our joy, our little acorn and someday mighty oak.
Take THAT science!