I remember walking out of the sono tech’s room to discover Deandra waiting patiently for me to emerge outside the door. Tears were still streaming down my face, so I’m sure she assumed the worst. Without saying a word, she embraced and held me long and tight. Overcome with emotion and unable to speak, all I could do was sob into her shoulder.
“Everything looks great. Baby is measuring just over seven weeks,” chirped Erin from the doorway.
“Really?! See? Didn’t I tell you about miracles?” Deandra said as she held me tight. “I told you not to give up hope. Let’s get you into an exam room.”
I followed her down the hall, and into a room. I was clutching the line of ultrasound pictures Erin had given me; still marveling at the tiny little blob with the miraculously beating heart. I was in a state of disbelief, and shaking from adrenaline.
After Deandra collected my vitals, she left to get the doctor. For a few minutes, I was alone and tried in earnest to compose myself – at least enough to call Trevor. But, of course, the second the phone started to ring, I lost it again. So, when Trev answered, all he heard was me crying on the other end of the line.
“It’s going to be okay. What did the doctor say? Did you schedule a date for the surgery?”
“It…It…It…,” I choked through tears, “has a heartbeat. Our baby is alive. Erin said everything looks perfect.”
One of the best moments of my life was being able to deliver this good news to Trevor. The pic from THIS POST is the actual image I sent him after I hung up.
(I also felt incredibly guilty for him not being there to witness it in person.)
Not long after, my doctor walked in to the exam room. His smile was from ear to ear as he congratulated me.
And then things got serious.
The results from the Total Loss Panel revealed several problems; including three different clotting disorders and a gene mutation. I had asked myself WHY repeatedly after losing the baby in the spring of 2014, and now I had my answer. Most likely a blood clot formed on my side of the placenta, which – ultimately – killed him.
The chances of it happening again, I was told, were great, and I was immediately put on injectable blood thinners. Not five minutes later Deandra walked in and showed me how to give myself shots in the abdomen…something I would do multiple times daily throughout my pregnancy and for months after delivery.
Had you asked me before that day if I could give myself injections, I would have told you “no”. It is amazing what you can do when you have to.
I was also given a regime of pills to take. During my pregnancy with Banner, I took nothing except my prenatal and the occasional allergy pill. I remember sobbing when I was told that I needed antibiotics to treat a bladder infection when I was about seven months along with Ban. And, yet, here I was just over seven weeks and taking more in one day than I probably took in 41+ weeks with my son.
I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. The low of thinking I’d lost another baby, the high of hearing the heartbeat, the low of realizing was essentially a walking blood clot. And that was all before the doctor leveled with me about my chances of miscarriage or stillbirth (both very high). Suddenly I was back in that place where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Even thinking about how much time I had left before the baby was viable (much less term) sent me in a place of panic. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.
I told no one anything except Trevor. I refused to share our news, because it all seemed impossible somehow and doomed to fail. Even today, when I think back and reflect upon my pregnancy with Schafer – even knowing what I know today – I still feel queasy, nervous and, strangely enough, grief. I would see other friends post about their pregnancies and feel sadness. Not because I was pregnant. But because I could never feel excitement…only terror. I’ve never been so scared of losing something in my life.
Two of the clotting risks were being caused by Protein S and Protein C deficiencies. According to my hematologist (because I have a hematologist now), people who are deficient in S and C are either deficient in either S or C; not both. A fact that, according to her, make me "medically interesting".
To date, I've found very little good in being labeled "medically interesting". Just to START the process of getting my veins fixed again (because - wow - did they make my pregnancy with Schaf super uncomfortable towards the end) took three months, two trips to the hematologist and about $5,000 in blood work. I was told I needed to get my veins treated, because - not doing so - increased my clot risk. But so did the process of...you know, actually fixing them. And that's just for a routine, outpatient procedure.
Just for the record, I also experienced my first blood clot in my lower, left leg at the beginning of April (2016). The pain was intense and came out of nowhere. The terror of being home alone (Trevor was in Detroit for work) with two kiddos was breathtaking. I think that part of the reason Schafer's story is so hard for me to tell is because - in so many ways - the story didn't end with her birth. I'm still trying to get my mind (and body) around my new reality. A reality I may have never known about if I hadn't lost that baby boy back in March of 2014.
But I digress.
Back in October of 2014, all this information was overwhelming. Toss in the pregnancy hormones and I could barely function. I seconded guessed everything I did. Sleeping was impossible because I couldn't turn off all the "what ifs" shouting in my brain. In many ways, I was just going through the motions of living between injections, taking pills and taking care of Banner.
Then our twelve week appointment rolled around, and I just about made myself sick with worry. It was, of course, the same "end of first trimester" appointment that we learned we lost the little boy earlier that same year. So, when the doctor couldn't find the heartbeat right away, my stress started manifesting itself physically. My blood pressure and heartbeat skyrocketed, which - of course - made hearing the baby's heartbeat nearly impossible. I started to cry and hyperventilate; convinced that I had lost this baby too. My doctor actually apologized, and said - considering my history - that he should have just scheduled me for a sonogram. It was the longest two minutes of my life, but then - just as he was about to give up and send me back to Erin - he found it. My blood pressure and heart rate started to subside immediately as my tears turned to sobs of relief and joy.
Because of the high risk nature of the pregnancy, my doctor ordered a bunch of tests. One of them checked on the health of the fetus. So, just before Thanksgiving 2014, we learned two things. 1) that the baby I was carrying was healthy and free from whatever number of genetic abnormalities and malformations they can test for; and 2) was a girl.
I can't prove it, but I already knew long before the results were back that I was having a daughter. Just like I knew she'd be born in May.
When my doctor called to tell me the baby was healthy on the day before Thanksgiving, he asked if I wanted him to write the gender down and leave it in a sealed envelope for me to pick up at his office. That way I could open it with Trevor over the Thanksgiving holiday. Initially, this sounded like a plan, but then I just couldn't stand it and told him to simply tell me over the phone.
I know, I know. I probably should have gone and picked up the envelope, but I wanted - NEEDED - to hear my doctor say the words out loud.
(Sorry again, Trevor.)
Don't worry, though. When Trevor came home that night, I had decorated the kitchen with giant IT'S A GIRL balloons. We later took each of our parents the same balloons in boxes with a balloon inside as a way of letting the family in on our little secret. It was both a "Surprise! We are pregnant!" and a "Surprise! It is a girl!" all rolled into one. We told our mothers on November 27, 2014 in Dallas, and Mimi and my dad on November 28, 2014 down at the ranch. Again, I can't prove it, but I remember thinking she would be born six months later on May 28. I just couldn't get that date out of my head from the second I learned I was pregnant; even though she technically wasn't due until June.
Speaking of due dates, Schafer was due on June 8th. Exactly 8 months after the due date of the baby we lost (he was due October 8th). My favorite number is 8. Even though all that could be chalked up to coincidence, I clung to it as a good sign during my entire pregnancy.
That and the song ODDS ARE by the Barenaked Ladies. Because difficult times in life needs a mantra.
My goal is to finish telling Schafer's pregnancy and birth story by girlfriend's 1st birthday. So stay tuned...