My name is Katie. This might sound a bit cheesy, but writing this first journal entry for StorkNet is like a dream come true for me. As I am writing this, tears are in my eyes. Now, some might say that it's just the hormones of being nearly nine weeks pregnant, but after I give you some background, you might understand why this is such a momentous occasion for me.
First, we have to back up to eight years ago, when I met my husband at college. On our first date, I felt so comfortable with him that I ended up telling him that my lifelong dream was to become a stay at home mom. When he didn't run screaming from the room, I knew he was the man for me!
We dated for three years before getting married on May 3, 2003. Our wedding was a simple, family affair, because we were basically paying for it ourselves and saving to buy a house at the same time. Our entire budget was $5000 - including our Honeymoon - and we had 125 guests! We were able to get a wonderful deal on a week's Honeymoon to Cancun and had the most amazing time.
Right from the beginning, kids were part of our plan. However, seeing as our plans also included me staying at home with our future children, we knew that we were going to have to wait awhile and figure out how to make that work financially. We bought a house that we could afford on just my husband's salary and moved in six months after our wedding. It was a busy year!
The next two years, we worked on paying off college debt, car loans, and building a savings account. On our second anniversary, we celebrated our financial good behavior and our marriage by returning to Cancun. On that trip, we talked seriously about "when to have children" for the first time. We have always done things by making a list of tasks and tackling each one together, so we made a lists of things that we still needed to do before taking the plunge and also decided on a timeline: We would officially start "TRYING" on our next wedding anniversary - May 2003.
After that, even though it was a year away, I had baby on the brain. One day, while "innocently" googling, I came across the StorkNet.com site and started reading the pregnancy journals. I was hooked! I decided then and there that when my time came, I would apply to be a journalist.
Time went along and in January of 2006, I wasn't feeling "right." It was hard to explain, but I was feeling tired, out of sorts, and thought that maybe I was coming down with a urinary tract infection since I had to go to the bathroom a lot. One Friday night, my husband and I went to Target and I decided that I needed some new bras. I grabbed a selection in my usual modest size and headed into the dressing room. To my amazement, none of the bras fit! I left the dressing room a little confused. For the first time, "What if. . . " flitted across my mind. However, I was on the Pill, and was very good at taking my daily dose, so I figured it was impossible.
The next morning, my husband reached for the tv remote in bed and his hand brushed my left breast. I thought I would go through the roof from the stab of pain that came from that simple touch. The word "pregnant" flashed into my mind again. I ended up going to the store on a donut run - which was really just an excuse to get a pregnancy test, which I was so SURE would end up negative.
It didn't. It was positive. Scared to death and with trembling hands, I showed my husband the two lines. I was afraid he would be upset, but he was thrilled. Once I knew that he was okay with our little surpise, I was thrilled, too! We went out that very afternoon and bought a score of the usual suspects, "Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy," "What To Expect When You Are Expecting," and "1000 Baby Names." They held a place of great honor on our coffee table. I called first thing on Monday morning for my first OB appointment. I got my prenatal vitamins filled. And I wrote to StorkNet.com, submitting my application to be a journalist.
We had two weeks of pure bliss before the unthinkable happened. What started as a faint swipe of red blood ended in the miscarriage of our first earlier-than-expected-but-very-much-wanted baby. My dream coming true had turned into a nightmare. Sadly, I had to cancel my appointments, take my prenatals for no reason, and turn down the acceptance from StorkNet to write about my pregnancy.
After our first loss, I was comforted by the overwhelming statistics that are out there. Did you know that 50% of first time pregnancies end in miscarriages? Women who have had one miscarriage are no more likely to miscarry in their next pregnancy than a woman who has never lost a pregnancy. I was devastated, but my OB assured me that it was very normal and that if we waited just one cycle, we could try again and everything would be fine. Although we hadn't been trying when we got pregnant, having our little one with us for even a brief time had made us realize how ready we were to be parents.
Following the doctor's instructions, we waited dutifully until March. I spent February scouring the internet, looking for ways to improve our chances of fertility - my main concern at that point was that we wouldn't be able to get pregnant again. When I had the signs of ovulation in our "good to go" cycle, I literally jumped my poor, unsuspecting husband! My plan worked and we ended up with our second positive just two short weeks later. As I sat next to my husband on the couch and showed him the stick, I promised him that this time would be different.
Three days later, the spotting began. I sobbed as our hopes and dreams for our second pregnancy were literally flushed down the toilet.
Despite our growing sadness and concern, my OB assured us that all was still fine. Perhaps we just hadn't waited long enough. She suggested taking a three month break and trying again. Doctors don't consider miscarriages a problem until you have three in a row, simply because early losses are so common.
It was really hard to wait three months. Looking back, I would definitely say that I was depressed during our hiatus, but I made good use of our time, researching causes of miscarriage and fertility issues. We booked a trip to Cancun, which coincided with our first "trying again" cycle.
Two weeks after our return from vacation, we were blessed with discovering our third pregnancy. This time, my doctor took our pregnancy seriously and we got blood draws checking my hormone levels - HCG and progesterone - every 48 hours. The progesterone was fine and the HCG was a bit lower than they liked to see, but was doubling as it should. I was scheduled for my first prenatal ultrasound, our first! One day before that appointment, the spotting started and my blood levels showed that the HCG and progesterone had fallen drastically. Our third baby was not to be.
After our third loss, we finally had what we needed to get to a specialist who could do all of the testing. I had all of the physical tests done and my husband had a sperm analysis. All of our tests came back "normal," which was a bit of a let down. After all, how could we fix a problem that we couldn't find? Our specialist suggested that we try again and this time, they would do even more monitoring and see if we could see anything on ultrasound.
We got pregnant in late September and everything seemed "different" from the beginning. My hormone levels were high and doubled. We were so excited at our first ultrasound, when we saw a small little speck on the screen - and that was our little baby - the first we had actually gotten a chance to see! We went back two weeks later, and the little speck had grown into a little gummy bear shape that had a beautiful beating heart, flashing away at 176 BPM. It was Thanksgiving time and we told my family of our good news on the big holiday. I was sick as a dog with morning sickness, dropping a total of 9 pounds and needing IV fluids several times to keep from getting dehyrdated. Despite my sickness, I was thrilled to be pregnant with our little "Gummy Bear." We were released from the specialist and sent to our regular OB. At our first appointment with that doctor, at 11 weeks pregnant, we were horrified and stunned when our baby had no heartbeat. I had the D&C ten days before Christmas.
After that miscarriage, and with still no answers to our losses, to say we were devastated would have been an understatement. Our specialist recommended that we try medicated cycles to improve my egg quality. Since we had had no problems conceiving in the past, we assumed that when we were ready to try again with the assistance of medication we would get pregnant with no problem. After a six month break, we started again, this time with no luck. After three medicated cycles, our puzzled RE moved us to IUIs. Three more cycles of that with no luck had us all scratching our heads. Since the chances of pregnancy go down dramatically after six unsuccessful cycles, we decided to move to IVF. This way, our doctors reasoned, we could make sure that the right egg and sperm met up to create good embryos.
We started our cycle in November and ended up with a transfer in December. We found out that we were pregnant on December 23, which was the most wonderful Christmas gift. Pregnancy after loss is an especially tenuous time, and we are being monitored with weekly ultrasounds. So far, everything is progressing normally. Our most recent scan showed the growth measuring two days ahead and a heartbeat of 174 bpm. We will continue to see our specialist until we reach the second trimester safely.
When I found out that I was pregnant this time, I once again applied to be a journalist for StorkNet. When I received the acceptance e-mail, I was thrilled. I have imagined this so many times, and I can't help but feel that this is a good omen of things to come. We have worked long and hard to get here and summing it all up in one journal entry doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the emotional pain that we have endured. It is all so much more than worth it for our precious baby. I look forward to the exciting days, weeks, and months ahead, and getting to share it with all of you.
It is a dream come true. Finally.