Saturday, July 19, 2014

On the road back to normal

After spending the better part of a month bleeding in some form (spotting for two-ish weeks and miscarriage bleeding for one week), I am now free.

My feelings on the end of this month's reign of blood?

This video sums it up best:



I asked my doctor if I could have a "get out of periods free" card for the next few months, and he laughed. Not mockingly, he genuinely thought it was one of the funniest things he's heard in the eight years he's been an OB. I am so sad that he's leaving the practice and going somewhere that doesn't take my insurance. Otherwise I'd have him deliver my next child. Sighs...oh well.

If you are male and reading this first part, I am so sorry.

Hopefully the mood swings will go away too. Seriously, one day I'm doing fine, and the next....

For all of my fellow Whovians.

That's probably an exaggeration. Really what happens on my bad days is that I just become more withdrawn and don't really want to be around people. Actually, I still have some trouble being around other people--mostly because now that they know I had a miscarriage, I feel as though no one really knows to act around me. It could just be the anxiety talking though. Oh yeah, my anxiety has been acting up more recently too, causing some insomnia and the like. I hate anxiety--I wish it would just go away and never come back.

What are my plans now? Mostly getting back into the swing of things, but not overdoing it. I've re-started FlyLady's baby steps because housework was on the backburner while the methotrexate made me want to sleep all.the.time.

Are we going to try again? Eventually. Again, I need a bit of time to recover, and frankly it's nobody's business when we start trying to get pregnant again ;)

However, I have found out that my progesterone levels are not so hot. I've been spotting for at least a week before my periods for the last several months, and that's a classic sign of progesterone issues. My doctor and I are going to be working on getting that balanced out so I'm not bleeding two weeks out of every months.

And since my doctor is leaving and the midwives I saw during my pregnancy with Kate have left, I'm in the market for a new doctor. Yeah, I could follow the midwives, but they've moved to a really large practice and I'm afraid of getting lost in the shuffle over there. Plus, I feel like I need to see an actual OB for my next pregnancy, since I'm pretty much guaranteed to have ICP in future pregnancies, and there was some disagreement in how to handle my case, since it was a pretty big practice. I don't mind group practices, I just want a smaller group for my next pregnancy.

Then there's the fact that Stephan needs a doctor. Do we both just go to a family practice so I have a way of renewing my prescription when it's time and I look for an OB when I'm actually pregnant? Urgh, decision decisions. Or I could stay with the current practice, which is going down to three doctors, but again, one of those doctors was willing to let me go longer even though my Bile Acids levels were borderline severe. Argh.

I shouldn't panic about this right now, but it's so hard not to because...ANXIETY!

For some people it would be easy to just go to whoever is close, but unfortunately, we don't live very close to a lot of doctor's offices. Oy.

I miss living in Orem--we lived close to three hospitals and so many doctor's offices. Sigh. Oh well.

Okay, I got off on a tangent there. Back to our regular posting.

I'm also going to try getting back into a routine of moderate exercise and healthy eating. I've been cooking dinner most nights this week, so that's a good start.

So...that's how things are going. Miscarriage complete, want to not have periods for a while, trying to get back to normal (or something like it), and contemplating doctors.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Craziness

This last week has been nuts.

On Sunday, I started miscarrying. There have been many emotions surrounding that--grief, relief, moodiness, etc.

Then on Monday night, our air conditioning died.

Going through a miscarriage and having your air conditioner die in the middle of July is just as awful as it sounds. Did I mention that our condo is on the top floor? Yup.

I talked to our landlord the next morning and she gave me the number for the company that could come fix our AC. When I called the AC people, the earliest they could send a repair man by was Wednesday afternoon. While it was nice knowing that there was help coming, having to go through yet another night of no air conditioning was not fun.

Thankfully, a friend invited Kate and me over to her air conditioned house, so we didn't need to spend all day sweating in our own. Kate and her son (whose name is Jonah) really hit it off too, and it was so nice to have adult interaction. I also bought fans to help us get through that night.

Another tender mercy: we were having meals brought in for a few days this last week, since I've been recovering from the shots and having a miscarriage. It was a good thing because then I didn't have to cook in our sweltering house, and we didn't have to spend money on going out to eat.

The AC repairman came by on Wednesday and restored our AC to its wonderfulness. I had to restrain myself from embracing him passionately when he was finished. Well, not really, but I thanked him profusely.

I went in for more blood work yesterday to make sure my HCG levels were going down like they're supposed to. My OB called me with the results a few hours later, and said that my levels had gone from 455 to 39, which means so far that the injections have been successful. The goal is to get my levels below 5, which at this rate may happen next week.

How am I feeling currently? I'm doing okay--I just want to stop bleeding (it's getting lighter). If you are pregnant or just had a baby, I do not, repeat DO NOT hate you. I'm just a little sad that my turn isn't coming yet. I save my resentment for people who do cruel things to their children--like that guy who left his toddler in the hot car on purpose and that woman who killed six of her babies right after they were born. Why are those people allowed to reproduce again? Right--agency.

I have seen the Lord's hand in all of this and we have received so many tender mercies along the way--friends who have watched Kate, brought us meals, people praying for us, those who lent a listening ear, etc. For all of this, we are grateful.

My turn for having another baby will come someday (when we start trying again is no one's business ;)), and I will be overjoyed when it does. I know Kate will be a great big sister when the time finally comes. Until then, I am giving her extra loves.

Eight months old and oh so adorable.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ectopic

A timeline of events.


Monday--June 30

I got a positive pregnancy test. But I knew something wasn't right because I had been spotting for two weeks (expecting my period)--spotting and a positive pregnancy test can be a bad thing. Plus, I wasn't feeling nauseous like I did even before I got a positive test with Kate.

Tuesday--July 1

I called and made an appointment to see one of the OBs at my practice. Normally, I see the midwives but I just wanted to see whoever was available. This would be the first time I ever met with one of the doctors at the practice.

That afternoon, I met with Dr. Wall. He was very kind and listened to my concern about the spotting, and agreed that it could be ectopic. He walked me back to the ultrasound room so we could get a look at what was going on inside of me. He did tell me that we might not see anything considering how early I was in the pregnancy. The image of my uterus came on screen--there was nothing in it. So, we looked around the rest of my reproductive system....and found something near my right ovary that looked consistent with a six-week-old embryo (I was only five weeks).

"It looks ectopic," Dr. Wall said.

He walked me to the lab so I could have blood drawn and told me that if I started having things like severe cramping, vomiting, dizziness, etc. to go straight to the emergency and have them call him, even if it was in the middle of the night. He also told me that his nurse would call me everyday to check in on me. I felt a lot of comfort knowing that he was always going to be aware of what was going on with me.

After the blood test, I went home feeling like a ticking time bomb. Was I going to wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the emergency room? What would happen with Kate if I needed to go to the hospital? What if I lost some of my reproductive organs to this? Agggghhhh!!!!!

I went over to a good friend's house and told her what was going on and told her my worries. Even though she's still recovering from surgery, she said that she would take Kate if I needed to go to the hospital, even if it was in the middle of the night. That helped ease my fears knowing that Kate would be taken care of should that happen. She even got us pizza so I wouldn't have to worry about dinner, and her husband assisted mine in giving me a Priesthood blessing. In that blessing, I was promised that I would not have permanent damage and that doctors would know what to do.

Wednesday--July 2

My doctor's nurse called me to tell me that it looked like that the pregnancy might *not* be ectopic after all, but I was having a miscarriage. She said to come back the next day for another blood test.

Thursday--July 3

I went back for another blood test.

Dr. Wall called me back within two hours (on his cell phone!), and told me that it was ectopic after all. He said we could wait, which he did NOT recommend, or we could go ahead with methotrexate injections. Since I had been spotting for coming up on three weeks and I didn't want to risk a middle of the night trip to the emergency room, I opted for the injections.

So later that day, I went to the hospital first for yet another blood draw to get a baseline for my liver function (since methotrexate can affect the liver). Then I went to the IV Center so I could get methotrexate injected into my hips. Oh yeah, that was fun. The nurses who injected me did it simultaneously too, and since it's a cancer drug (a type of chemo in fact) they were gowned up and everything.

I'd have taken pictures, but it would have required partial mooning. You're welcome.

It's a good thing I don't have a needle phobia because my poking days are not nearly over. I have to go back for pregnancy tests every week until my HCG levels are down to zero. Well, if I had a needle phobia, this would be a great way to conquer it.



I'm sure all of you have burning questions you want me to answer, so I'll answer the ones I'm most likely to get.

How are you feeling?

Physically, I am very tired. Fatigue is a common side effect of the methotrexate. I have been sore from all the poking, and have had some aches and pains. I'm only allowed to take Tylenol right now, but it is actually helping. I am grateful that it's a holiday weekend and Stephan is home so I can rest while he tends to Kate. I have already contacted our Relief Society President about having meals brought in so that's one less thing for me to worry about while I recover.

I've only had some spotting so far--I was expecting more bleeding, but maybe this is all my body will do until I have a period again.

Emotionally, I'm doing a lot better than expected. As I said before, I felt like something wasn't right with this pregnancy as soon as I found out. I do have comfort knowing that since I already have a child, I'll be able to have another. However, I do feel some guilt knowing that the age difference between Kate and our next child is going to be even bigger.

I am also very grateful for modern medicine. Ectopic pregnancies used to kill a lot of women, and still does sometimes. The doctor who has been caring for me has also been very kind and respectful--it's really sad that he's leaving the practice. In fact, the midwives are all leaving the practice! Yeah, I might be looking for a new practice soon. I am leaning towards having an OB for my next pregnancy, since my next pregnancy (whenever that happens) will likely be high risk too.

Spiritually, I am seeing many blessings and tender mercies. I know the Lord is aware of us and is helping us through this. I also know that there is another little spirit who will join our family in time, and that brings me comfort.


Was it a planned pregnancy?

Yes.

It was always the plan to wait a little longer than the average Mormon family to start trying for child #2. The main reason was because the end of Kate's pregnancy was so difficult with the ICP, and knowing that I was probably going to have it again. Another reason for waiting was that I felt like Kate needed more time being our baby.

We'll have to wait until the methotrexate has cleared out of my system to try again, which may be a few months at least. I'm okay with this.


How is Stephan handling this?

He has been grieving in his own way, and has been much more protective of me than usual (which is saying something). However, he has also been driving me to my appointments, tending to Kate so I can rest, and has been treating me very well through this whole thing.


Anything I can do?

I am very grateful for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers being sent my way.

Of course, if you want to do more, food is always welcome. Just make sure it's nut free, so Kate can have some too :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Hippies or: How Stephan learned to stop worrying and love the cloth diaper




We use cloth diapers. As if you didn't already think we're weird, right? If you don't like reading about the bowel movements of small children, I would suggest not reading any further.



Still reading? All right, but don't say I didn't warn you!


I started cloth diapering when Kate was about eight months old and we had our own washer and dryer. There's a funny story behind how we started cloth diapering. Stephan was completely against cloth diapering, but I wanted to try it. I finally bought a couple to try out, but I didn't tell Stephan. In fact, the night before the cloth diapers were to arrive, Stephan was recounting a conversation he and his co-workers had about cloth diapers that day.

"What was the consensus?" I asked, keeping a good poker face.

"That they're disgusting and never want to use them," he replied.

I just smiled.

Two days later, I put Kate in her first cloth diaper, and it made her butt look all cute and fluffy. Stephan came home for lunch as he normally does, to see our daughter crawling around the house in a purple cloth diaper (of course, I would get purple).

"Laura, what is that our daughter is wearing?!" Stephan asked, with his eyes wide.

"Well, what does it look like?" I laughed.

"Our child...is wearing a cloth diaper!" he practically yelled.

"Yup!" I laughed some more. 

He was amazed that I kept my cool that night he recounted the cloth diaper conversation at his office.

"You do realize I'm not going to change those, right?" he said, still a bit annoyed.

I simply said, "Oh, you will."

He eventually warmed up to the cloth diapers and changes them without complaint.

Now that I've sufficiently embarrassed Stephan, I'll talk about our routine.


We use pocket diapers and bumGenius pockets are our favorites, hands down. We have Rumparooz Aplix diapers, but unfortunately the elastic in those is starting to give out and they tend to stick to each other in the wash despite the laundry tabs. BumGenius hook-and-loop (which is a fancy of saying velcro) work better, though only one of my bumGeniuses has it. The rest are snaps. 

So, how do we make them work for us?

First off, there's detergent. For cloth diapers, they don't recommend using scented detergent, which works for us because Kate's eczema necessitates using unscented detergent. Arm&Hammer for sensitive skin (unscented) is what we use and love. A lot of cloth diapering moms also love Tide.




Some cloth diaper manufacturers have their own cloth diaper detergents, but we haven't seen a need.

Okay, now that we've got detergent out of the way, let's talk routine.

Whenever Kate has a wet diaper, we simply remove it, shake the insert into the diaper pail, and throw the diaper in with it. Now, when I say diaper pail, it's simply a medium-sized trash can that has a Planet Wise Pail Liner in it. We keep the diaper pail in the cupboard underneath the sink in the hallway bathroom, so it doesn't stink. You're welcome.

Now, if the diaper is poopy, we take the diaper to the toilet, chuck the poop in, and flush. For messier bowel movements, some people have dedicated diaper sprayers attached to the toilet. We actually use one of these. Personally, I would love a dedicated diaper sprayer because the water pressure on those is SO much better. The cheap little "rinser" does work fine, and it is good for giving Kate quick baths too. Don't worry, we sanitize it after we use it to spray out messy diapers ;)

After getting the poop out and flushed, shake the insert into the diaper pail and the diaper after it.

When it's time to wash diapers (it's best to wash every 2-3 days), I throw them in (diaper pail liner included) my washing machine and run a cold rinse cycle to get the gross stuff out. After that, I'll do a hot wash with detergent and then two cold rinse cycles. I actually have a Power Wash cycle on our washing machine that automatically does two cold rinses.




Drying time!

It's best to air dry the covers, so I hang them to dry on the hanger rack in the laundry room. It's just wide enough! Some people try to dry them in the sun, but unfortunately we don't get a ton of sun where our condo is situated.


The inserts go in the dryer (no picture, sorry).

Once everything is dry, it's stuffing time!

Divide and conquer!

Here's how to stuff a diaper:


You've got your insert and diaper.



Start putting the insert in the pocket...


Make sure the insert is snapped to the proper size.




Cover the insert with the flat (microfiber can be a little irritating to skin)


Snap (or velcro) the diaper and you're ready!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On church discipline, inconsistencies, and my testimony

Yesterday, the internet news world ignited with news that Kate Kelly (founder of Ordain Women) and John Dehlin (the man behind Mormon Stories) are facing the possibility of excommunication. To those who are not familiar with disciplinary counsels in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it would seem like this is some kind of a witch hunt.

It's not.

While I am not intimately familiar with the workings of disciplinary counsels, I have learned about how they work. My dad served as a bishop when I was in high school and my father-in-law is currently serving as bishop. I alos have many relatives who have served in leadership callings--in fact, my grandmother's cousin is currently a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, though I have never met him.

Here is the first thing you need to know about disciplinary counsels: they are NOT made public. Great pains are taken to keep them as discreet as possible to protect the individual's privacy. My dad couldn't even share the details of these counsels with my mother, his own wife! The only reason why it is now public knowledge that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are facing disciplinary counsel is because THEY decided to make it public. To this day, I do not know who faced disciplinary counsel in my home ward nor do I care to know.

One could think that these disciplinary counsels are done on a whim or gleefully, but that couldn't be further from the truth. These counsels become necessary only when the sin is egregious and/or when the individual shows no signs of repentance. To this day, I remember nights when my dad came home from such counsels (involving excommunication) with a very heavy heart. Church leaders do not like these counsels in the slightest, and if they do, they should be released promptly.

Now, if the individual is excommunicated, this does not mean they will never have their membership reinstated. They can continue going through the repentance process (if they wish) and once it is completed, they can be re-baptized.

In the case of Kate Kelly, there are some inconsistencies with the circumstances surrounding her prospective disciplinary counsel. For one thing, it is a bishop from a ward (congregation) she is no longer in (since she moved) who has summoned her to counsel. When you move out of a ward, that bishop is no longer your bishop. Your records are supposed to be transferred to the ward you have moved to, and in as short order as possible. What appears to have happened is that Sister Kelly moved out of her ward without telling her bishop and hasn't attended her new ward to let her new bishop know she's there so he can get her records. In a matter of speaking, she has already taken herself out of the Church.

I don't know much about John Dehlin, although he happens to be from my hometown (turns out my mom knew his sister). I have looked through his site, and well, since he doesn't believe in the central tenants of the Church (continuing revelation, translation of the Book of Mormon, temple work, etc.), he has also effectively dissociated himself from the Church.

Do I look on their prospective discipline with glee as some do? No, I do not. I am genuinely sorry for them and hope they will find peace.

I'm sure people wonder where I stand in my beliefs, so I will tell you.

I have a testimony that we have a loving Heavenly Father and in our Savior, Jesus Christ in the Restored Gospel. I have received many spiritual witnesses in my own lifetime of this, and I cannot believe that our world was created simply at random. I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and the Bible to also be so as far as it is translated correctly. I believe in continuing revelation and I believe in the power of prayer.

My views on female ordination? Well, I don't believe there is some kind of conspiracy to keep women from holding the Priesthood if that's what you're wondering. I just don't think the time is now, but it may very well come someday. If you're wondering, I am not violently opposed to women holding the Priesthood as some are--I'm open to the future possibility, if it is the Lord's will, of course.

This particular blog post sums up my views on the matter, though I don't agree with everything she writes, of course.

http://www.jandmranch.com/2014/03/26/ordain-women-we-dont-know-what-we-have/

I also loved Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk.

My only issue with the Church is only with cultural stuff, like some of the stigma around mental illness (which is thankfully improving) and the stigma surrounding early returned missionaries/non-returned missionaries (I am married to an early-returned missionary).

I have spoken my piece, please have mercy upon me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

#notburiedtwice




I used to be an advocate for out of hospital birth. Before I was even pregnant, I read Ina May Gaskin, Henci Goer, watched The Business of Being Born...you name it, I read it. I believed the fear-mongering about hospital birth, and decided that whenever I did have a baby, I would go to a birthing center (it would be cheaper too!), but I was open to a hospital birth should I somehow feel it was necessary.

The day I took a pregnancy test and saw those two lines saying that I was going to have a baby, I had a powerful, unmistakable feeling that this baby needed to be born in the hospital. My husband felt the exact same way, though he was always hesitant about my previous desires for an out-of-hospital birth. I was already getting my well-woman care through a group of Certified Nurse Midwives, so I continued going to them for my prenatal care.

As you all know, I developed ICP and had to be delivered early. Can you imagine what could have happened had I decided to give birth outside the hospital? Kate could very well have died. While yes, she was born healthy and screaming and never needed NICU time, it was all because I received proper care for the ICP and was induced early.

In fact, around the time I received my ICP diagnosis, I watched a home birth video on YouTube where the mother was diagnosed with ICP, but her midwives did not transfer her care but rather, put her on a "special liver diet" (there is no evidence of this helping significantly, by the way) and she went to 39 weeks. Her baby lived, but she was really lucky that nothing bad happened. I was angry.

I am not against home birth, but I am against how home birth is handled here in the United States. Sure, everyone talks about how it's so safe in European countries, but people, in those countries, those midwives are the equivalent of CNMs, have hospital privileges, AND have OB backup! We don't have that here, and regulation just sucks.

In fact, in my state of Utah, midwifery licensure is optional. There are midwives who have gone through the training, but choose not to be licensed so they can attend high risk deliveries, such as breech and twins. There is a big problem with this law: there are midwives who have been prosecuted in other states for baby deaths who come to Utah and ride off this optional licensing. One prime example is Valerie El-Halta. She had had her license stripped from her (which rarely happens, by the way) because she had had babies die under her, and she came here and killed another in a home birth after THREE c-sections. And yet, the community of home birth midwives defended her, rather than discipline her. That is just sick.

The video I posted is in response to a tragedy that happened a few months ago on the Midwifery Today Facebook page.

The page owner, Jan Tritten, posted on behalf of another midwife (Christy Collins), asking about a client who was more than 42 weeks pregnant. The mother had no amniotic fluid left, and the midwife was asking what she should do about it.

First off, what medical professional would outsource a life and death situation like that?!

There were people who told her, "Get that mother to the hospital NOW!" but many others told her that there was nothing wrong with going past 42 weeks, giving her crazy remedies, etc.

The baby, Gavin Michael, was stillborn. And he did not need to die. As it turns out, Christy Collins has other dead babies under her belt and moves around to avoid prosecution.

As for the thread? It got deleted (screenshots still exist). Any mention of Gavin Michael on the page get deleted too.

In a sense, they are trying to bury him twice. But we won't let them.

Hence, #notburiedtwice.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On Epi-Pens




I finally got around to picking up the two-pack of Epi Pens for Kate. The pharmacy was out of the generic brand and only had the name brand, which made them even more expensive. It's a good thing Kate's allergist gave me a $0 co-pay card, but it only brought the price down from $360 to $260. That's more than I pay for a week's worth of groceries! Why two? One for the diaper bag and one to leave at home. I have mixed feelings about spending so much money for something I hope to never need to use, such as:

Well! I had better get my money's worth out of these!

There are a couple of problems with that line of thinking. For one thing, the only reason I would have to use one is if Kate is having a severe allergic reaction, and well, that's traumatizing for everyone involved. That, and if I use one Epi Pen, it means I'm going to have to pay for another one because we need to have two Epi Pens (one in the house and one in the diaper bag), which means more money. Yeah, I guess it's better to pay for this round of Epi Pens and pray that I never have to use it. Which brings me to my other mixed feeling:

If I never have to use them, what a waste of money!

This line of thinking is also flawed.

Sure, being a nut-free house and making sure relatives and friends know about her nut allergies is great, but there is such a thing as accidental exposure, so we have to be prepared. I'd rather not think about what could happen if we didn't have Epi pens. I am willing to invest in my daughter's health, and if that means forking over $200 for something that could save her life in an emergency, then so be it.

My decision: I hope that I never need to use it, but I'm grateful for the peace of mind knowing that it's there if Kate does have a serious allergic reaction.

MY almond butter, Mommy!
P.S. If you ever have the pleasure of watching Kate, you will get a personal EpiPen training session with the Trainer EpiPen! Because I'm that kind of mom.

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