Ectopic - Here we Go

I went to the OB appointment and had to see a different doctor, which turned into a huge blessing. My appointment was at 4, and I went back around 4:30. I heard them discussing that I needed another ultrasound, and a few minutes later the tech came to get me. She didn't say a word to me when I asked, but I knew it when I saw it on the big screen.  (This is my 5th pregnancy after all!)

 I sat back in a little waiting room for about 3 minutes, see the ultrasound tech talking to the doctor and nurse,  then immediately I see a doctor. When they find out it's ectopic, they move pretty quick, thankfully. He doesn't know how much I know since it's my first meeting with him, but starts explaining the dangers and prognosis. (Scary stuff!) 

Then come the Junkin tears. The tears weren't really from the loss, because I already had a good sense of peace from that. They were from the sheer relief that I wasn't going crazy and I knew my body. I'm not imagining this pain. (I also had a not so Christian like flash back of wanting to slap the insensitive ER doctor from last week who told me to relax and have a glass of wine, especially when my OB was telling me I've probably been in serious pain.) We've been dealing with this since November 28, with a LMP October 28. Should be 9 weeks pregnant. (But the HCG was wayyyy off from that, and I've studied enough about all this to have a good peace about what's going on.) With early pregnancy losses and blood and repeat ultrasound monitoring the days and weeks get excruciatingly long, because there are no answers until the voila moment when they have certainty.  I'm exhausted mentally from having to be my own advocate and researching all this, and forcing people to listen to what my body was telling me. (That whole I'm really not crazy moment. And yes, I said them outloud several times that day.) Of course I trust doctors, but they are so overworked and busy I believe it's my own responsibility to be prepared with questions and know what to ask. You can't do that by just showing up unprepared anymore. Especially when you are switching practices.

While I'm still in with the doctor, a nurse comes in to tell me the next process. I go to big DCH registration and check in as an outpatient. Then they take me to the Peds ward where they will do bloodwork and give me a chemo methotrexate infusion to start dissolving the ectopic pregnancy and the false pregnancy in my uterus.  I did not realize it was a several hour process, and my phone was almost dead, so I didn't call anyone to come to the hospital with me. AO was so much better in her routine with John, and truthfully, sometimes time by yourself is what you really need. 

The Peds nurses were also wonderful. It took several hours before the cancer center nurses came in decked in hazmat gear for my double shots. Quite an experience. And one I hope we don't have to repeat any time soon. 

First, I am extremely thankful that we have not had a rupture, and I'm still hopeful that it will not rupture. 

Second, I'm thankful that God uses every minute as a teaching tool. A lot of that comes from having a teacher as a Mama. Everything is always educational.  They gave me a chemo drug, and I am so very thankful this is my only time to ever see anything like that in action. It made me think repeatedly about our family and friends who fight big and very real cancer battles.  I was on the Peds floor, a place that we've never had to take Arleigh. Hearing those kids cry, I'm very thankful for a happy baby.  I had a tech who couldn't find my veins. Several sticks later, we were having a heart to heart about miscarriages and her late term loss of her son. I get to go home to my precious daughter.  Life and situations are most definitely what you make of it.

Part of me puts all this out as a record for myself.  

The other part just wants to shout from the roof tops that all types of miscarriages and losses are common. 

Our Pregnancies: 
BFP #1 - EDD March 4, 2011. MC. DNC August 2010.
BFP #2 - EDD March 4, 2012. Arleigh Olivia was born February 15, 2012.
BFP #3 - EDD January 17, 2014. MC at 7 Weeks.
BFP #4 - EDD December 27, 2014. MC at 6 Weeks

BFP #5 EDD August 4, 2015. Ectopic pregnancy discovered/registered on ultrasound at 9 weeks from LMP. 

We need to quit hiding ourselves in corners when we face losses. We lost part of ourself. It's ok to put it out there. It's ok to tell people you don't want to talk babies. You need new friends if they don't understand. It's ok not to want to hold newborns. It's ok to cry the first time you do hold a newborn.  It's ok to avoid the baby aisle and departments like the plague. It's ok to refuse to read the big sister/little sister book from the mail. It's ok to be at peace about it. It's ok to feel like crap. It's ok to pray and be happy for all the babies in heaven - or talk about your babies in heaven. Or want to avoid the topic.  It's ok if you need to stay in your pjs for a week. It's ok if you are like me and need to go back to work and your routine immediately. It's ok to talk. It's ok not to talk. 

What's not ok is thinking it's ok to face it alone. It's not ok to think that no one cares.  We live in an age where we stub our big toe and the world knows about it. Everyone always over shares!  Why not losses? 

My question----Why do we hide from the things that matter? 


Kinda-sorta Pregnant, Take 5

At some point, I would love to share the news of how our family keeps expanding. But it's not happening. This has happened so many times now, we have let Satan steal all our joy when we see those double lines or pregnant spelled out on a digital. Or a better way of thinking, God has us so guarded and protected that we are waiting on our joy. 

 On November 28, we got our positive. One week later, December 5, we started bleeding like a regular period. I assumed another early misscarriage, so I didn't give it much more thought. God has my heart protected something fierce. 

 I retested on December 15th, thinking it should be null or getting close. It was brighter than before. Then a quick test using the clear blue weeks indicator, and I knew something was off.  My hcg was rising, not getting lower. I'm a constant charter - you have to be with this type stuff - so in my heart I immediately know it's not viable and something is majorly wrong.  

Typically with an early misscarriage, I don't always run and get 900 HCG draws done. They don't really take it seriously until you've had three in a row, and once your HCG is dropping there isn't anything they can do. I just test from home with sensitive tests and make sure it drops. I've unfortunately become an old pro. 

 So here we go - with pregnancy number FIVE, finally third in a row. In the middle of all this, I realize I have to change OBGYN offices. I'm now double covered with insurance - John's and with my work. However, our insurance plan with work changed, so I have to switch practices. (The joys of medical insurance.) 

I make my appointment, have two blood draws 48 hours apart, have an ultrasound. My HCG is rising, but it's certainly not where it should be. (I knew this already....please don't preach fake hope to the serial baby maker.) They think it's possibly ectopic, but there's no way to see yet.  Everyone keeps mentioning the ectopic word.  (Insert my mad google skills, and bingo. Ectopic - loosing your ovaries, internally bleeding - it's scary stuff.) The HCG is going up, so the doctor doesn't want to do anything until we know for certain it isn't viable. (Although in my heart I know that answer and have had my peace for a while, the doctors need their peace.) We'll keep drawing blood to check the hcg, and follow up after Christmas. 

Christmas Eve rolls around, and we are at my in-laws. We were suppose to be at John's grandparents, but with PawPaw and Uncle K in the hospital, it was canceled. I had just fixed AO's plate and started fixing my own, when I had the awful sharp stabbing pain in my lower left ovary area. This is coming from the very pain tollerant girl who was up with no pain meds after DNCs and a csection and fine.  I immediately start stripping (my poor inlaws) and crying. This hurt. Something was wrong. After trying to catch my breath I thought maybe it could be an ectopic rupture. Every doctor, nurse, and ultrasound tech had kept preaching to come in the minute I thought something was off or hurting. That's exactly what google said, too. I'm sure a lot was sheer panic  because I didn't want to loose an ovary. 

So John and I made the decision to leave AO at Judy's and head to the ER. (Thank goodness I had a set of pjs in the car from Polar Express! She at least slept in her monogrammed Christmas gown on Christmas Eve.) 

We haven't been in an ER in about 15 years. (Yes, we are counting our blessings.) Apparently at the ER ectopic is a fast way to be seen quickly. The check in, triage and see a doctor for the first time took about 30 minutes. (I should probably mention that I had no shoes, socks, pants..... The one night I get gussied up with a dress, leggings and boots! Some sweet nurse found me a pair of socks for my stay.)  No bleeding, and a long ultrasound didn't really show anything either. The tech even said that the OBGYN office would be better for this.  Christmas Day, 6 hours and morphine later, the verdict was to just follow up with your OB on Monday. (And per the not so sensitive ER doc, just have a glass of wine and relax a little. I'm hopeful I never have to see her again, because my sweet self may just slap her.) 

Needless to say, Christmas Eve and Day were not how I had it in my brain.  My baby girl wasn't at home to wake up to presents from Santa - on what should be her first excited year. There was no annual looking at Christmas lights or for Rudolph's nose flying in the sky on Christmas Eve.  This mama felt so crappy I didn't get a single picture. AO was so out of wack and grumpy she didn't even want birthday cake for Jesus. 
We've racked and racked our brain trying to figure out what is going on. Is this pain even related to the pregnancy? The ultrasound showed a cyst on Monday. Why wasn't it there Wednesday at the ER? Did the cyst rupture? Wouldn't something have shown on the ultrasound?  Why the period like bleeding with clots and cramping - just like my previous miscarriages so early? Is it ectopic? Where is it in me?  Was it two different pregnancies? Why is the HCG rising? And sometimes even rising correctly? And the list goes on and on.

So we're back to the waiting game. Another doctor appointment, hcg/progesterone test, and ultrasound today. :(  At this point, I'm convinced it's ectopic and I'm not crazy. But I need someone to figure this out before we have a rupture and a massive problem on our hands. I know - and have known that something wasn't right from the get go. Especially on that lower left side. 

The good news - same as every other time. We can get pregnant. We also know that our progesterone is too low, so once we move on from this, we will hopefully find some answers to why it keeps happening. Prayers are appreciated. 

In other news, we are getting ready to list our house in January and make the move to Gordo this spring. Our Christmas vacation "prep the house to sell" to-do list didn't get finished due to all this, but sometimes I think God makes you slow down and have all day PJ days with your kiddo.  At least He makes me! 


Beginning a New Chapter

This new chapter in our lives has been a lonnnngggg time in the making. John starts full time with the post office on May 3! We're in our 11th year waiting, so our house is jumping for joy!

This means we finally get the benefits that come with his job at the post office, which are pretty darn fabulous, like most government jobs. Exciting stuff! Not to mention the pay raise. Hallelujah!

On a not so exciting note, we had another miscarriage this month. I'm beyond the point where we can beat around the bush about things like this. I'm fine, we're fine - It's just part of the journey.  This was another very early miscarriage, and unfortunately or fortunately these become easier and easier to deal with emotionally. I'm more sad that we didn't even really get excited. There are no celebrations when we get positive pregnancy tests anymore. That part kinda stinks, but I also know that it is God's way of guarding my heart.  I would like your prayers, though. This one has been harder on my body. Very draining and achy physically. I haven't even told anyone but John. I just don't like or want to talk about it. (It's WAY more fun to talk about the cute antics of my TWO year old.)  There's no good way to start this conversation. The benefit of living in this generation is taking early pregnancy tests. The downfall is taking early pregnancy tests. Twenty years ago I would have assumed it was just a two-week late period. Like I said, we're fine. Honestly.  Just needed to get that off my chest.

So if you are keeping track, here's what's happened so far:
BFP #1 - EDD March 4, 2011. MC. DNC August 2010.
BFP #2 - EDD March 4, 2012. Arleigh Olivia was born February 15, 2012.
BFP #3 - EDD January 17, 2014. MC at 7 Weeks.
BFP #4 - EDD December 27, 2014. MC at 6 Weeks.

Back to the fun stuff. I am excited about seeing what is next for our family. We've got our three year plan in motion to save, sell the house and make a decision about private or public school for AO. To my surprise, GORDO public high school has higher 11th grade test scores than any of the public city or county schools in Tuscaloosa. (Yes, I'm the nerd who makes spreadsheets from the data on greatschools.org.)  So the big debate of the moment in the Mansell house - do we relocate to Gordo or stay in Tuscaloosa and do private school?

The other option is moving to Gordo is doing PA, where my first two "nieces" Libby and Millie attend.  Lots of decision making and porch night conversations! Gordo is only a 25 minute drive from my office in Northport, which is quicker than the 40 minutes it takes me to get home in Hillcrest. The traffic on 69 south is HORRID! It would be a longer jaunt for Johnboy (40 minutes compared to his current 7), so we're still weighing all the pros and cons.   John would like AO to start and stay at the same school. I'm fine making changes up to about second grade. I'm a little concerned about the future in Gordo, but currently they seem to be doing a fantastic job. OF COURSE I will keep a check on these until we make a decision, but it's exciting to think that we are almost there!

I really have an old fixer-upper in my head, which is pretty much the only options if we head west. Or we can build, but the fixer-upper charm has my pinterest boards on FIRE.  The fact that we would be 45 minutes closer to my family, right near with John's, and about 15 minutes from my Aunt and Danielle, are HUGE factors in my mind. There is something about small town charm that is appealing.  And room for chickens. Who doesn't love chickens!!!!

It's a big time at the Mansells! Now I'm going back to pinning! :-)


Spring Break

We had a ball spring break. As a working Mama, I couldn't take the whole week off, but we made the most of it. I've joked all day that I went back to work for a BREAK!

AO has been in school since she was teee-tiny. I bawled my eyes out when I left her at school the first time. By the end of the first school year, I was CRYING because I didn't want her to leave her teachers. Her teachers were just that great. She's a social, happy kid. She loves, loves, loves school.

Now that she's two, Mama's new job is chief entertaining committee.  I cram every available Mommy & family time into the bits and pieces we get together. Last week for spring break was Camp Arleigh.

Just so you can get a feel for our life - here's what went down.

Sunday - Cooked breakfast (FROM SCRATCH), John and I kept AO's class at church. Came home, fed John's parents pot roast, dill potatoes, deviled eggs, fresh asparagus, carrots, and my new favorite, mashed cauliflower. Homemade strawberry muffins with coconut whipped cream for dessert.  AO played outside, got muddy, took a bath, then we fed my parents the leftovers for supper. AO left with my parents to head to Columbus for a couple of nights.

Monday was a blur - we didn't have AO, so I folded clothes for three hours without a toddler, and John did the three loads of dishes that came with Sunday's homemade cooking and feeding a small army. We did grill out and have a mini date night with no kiddo. AO had Libby, Millie and Alexa for entertainment at O's.

Tuesday - after work, I headed straight to Columbus. No romantic anniversary plans for the Mansell clan.  I Spent the night with Nano and Poppy to start my spring break.

Wednesday - we picked up breakfast for us, Swayze and Nano and headed to Swayze's for a cousin playdate with Nano and Poppy. Watched Frozen for the first time. Left around lunch time and drove back to Gordo. Picked up AO lunch and she ate at JuJu's and Papa's house. AO helped (entertained) JuJu in her store. Then we went to visit John's grandparents, MawMaw and PawPaw that afternoon. Grocery shopping, then home to crash.

Thursday - we got up early and did the Zoo in Birmingham with NanO and Lib and MC. It's a fantastic zoo. However, I will never make the mistake of a spring break trip again. It was insanely crowded, and I don't think the zoo was prepared for all of the people. We had to wait in massive lines for everything. Even the windows and exhibits were backed up  3-4 people deep. But, AO loved it. She rode the camel with Nano, rode the train and carousel, and got to see the giraffes. She fed birds nectar and got up super close to a tiger. It was a great trip. We had the "big sisters" Libby and Millie as our guides and nannies.  We made a quick stop to California Pizza Kitchen at the Summit for a snack, then went on home. Thursday evening, Lib and MC entertained AO while John grilled us burgers. AO crashed, and we stayed up late watching Frozen. :-) (Catching the pattern?)

Friday morning - after cinnamon rolls, eggs and two packs of smithfield bacon, we watched Frozen again. Who am I kidding? It was on repeat ALL morning!  Then we loaded up at 9:30 and took Clarence to the vet in the pouring rain. After Clarence's check up, we came home and got ready to go to town. We went to Target and the girls helped me gather up AO's Easter basket treats. We ate lunch at Taco Casa, blared our new Frozen soundtrack, and went and ate yogurt at Yogurt in Love. Did a little monogramming, and my Libs and MC headed back to their Mama.

Saturday - I attempted to clean up. My sweet husband spent Thursday, his off day cleaning house, and me and my girls made one BIG mess of his hard work. After lunch, AO and I piled up with Aunt BB to run errands. Michaels, the pet store and Target again. Fun stuff! Can you tell we like shopping? Then we dropped BB (Aunt Beth, our neighbor) at home and out we went again to go grocery shopping. We grilled out Saturday night while AO played in the water and made mud pies. (Yes, I know it was WAY too cold, but I had no luck convincing my toddler of my case.) That night, I killed my first snake at our Moonlight Drive house.

Sunday - we skipped church and got lunch ready for the Sunday lunch with the inlaws. Bacon wrapped grilled pork chops, big salad, baked purple potatoes, asparagus, wheat rolls and fruit salad. Sunday afternoon the boys put together AO's swingset from Santa, and AO & I went shopping with JuJu.  We picked up a few things at Walmart and Dollar Tree, then came home. AO played outside ALL AFTERNOON. Making mud soup and sliding. She had two baths before 5 PM. She had visits from BB, and Brooke & Drew. Then another bath time, a lunchable for supper and straight to bed.

I'm tired just thinking about it all. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we had a sing off complete with microphones, made playdoh princess dresses, had an impromptu baseball game and painted our toe nails.

The reason I list it all is this: I work. But I also work really hard at creating memories for me and my family. We aren't at a point in our life where I could stay home. And truthfully - I wouldn't want to stay home.  But don't knock me for saying it out loud.  When I'm with AO, I'm really WITH her. I may not text you back. I may not answer you call.  It's all the time I get, so we pack it in!  I know we both have our limits. She loves school and her friends. Why in the world would I want to take that away from her? Even if I stayed at home, I would send her to school. Because she needs it. It fits her personality. She's happy and extremely well adjusted.  Of course I have my moments where I want more time.  I have a small slice of me that could stay home and do this around the clock.  Or maybe its' just that I want to have a day where I can stay in my PJs. But that's not us. Not now anyway. She's an on-the-go busybody who never slows down.   My point - love all Mamas. It's a hard call to figure out the juggling life that is family. There's no way it has to be done.  I keep going back to something my daddy-in-law said before we had AO. I was just certain how everything was going to be and how it was going to be done. He said to throw it all out the window. Parenthood is NEVER like you have it imagined in your head. If you just let go and roll with the punches, you will be much happier. Throw all the "have to do it this way" out the window and just let them be kids. Cold water for mud pies doesn't give them a snotty nose, it's a virus. Just let them be kids. Let them get dirty. Don't freak when they bust their lip for the 5th time in a month by jumping off the concrete steps. They'll survive.

The most important think I'm learning - when you need to step away, STEP AWAY. Not just in those seconds where you threaten to beat their hineys black and blue with the spankin' spoon for not listening to their mama. I step away to the real job. To grown up time in a grown up world. It makes me cherish my spring break vacation days that much more. It's a lot sweeter when you know it's all you get.

Just don't say -  "she's not going to remember any of this."  Well guess what folks, I will remember. I'm not sure when this notion started that you make memories for your kids to have and hold. You have kids to make memories for yourself. So if you want to slide, roll in the grass and make mud pies or buy purple potatoes because that's the color of the week, JUST DO IT. :-)