Tag Archives: Breast Feeding

Endometriosis: Is it Coming Back?

It’s 2 am and I’m sitting here wondering: Is the endometriosis coming back? Little by little, the pain has started to return with each subsequent cycle that I have had since Rachel was born. I sat up in bed last night and a very sharp pain in my lower right side took my breath away for a few minutes. The same pain had occurred the day before. There is now a dull ache in my side, almost like my ovary is tacked up against my abdominal wall. It’s a pain I am all too well familiar with.

The other thought I had, which seems much more unlikely, was an ectopic pregnancy. I only have one fallopian tube, and I’m pretty sure it’s mostly or completely blocked, based on the last hysterosalpinogram I had years ago. Although I am high risk for an ectopic pregnancy, it’s seems pretty unlikely that I’d been feeling pain from such this early on in my cycle (I think I’m on CD 25).

I’m tempted to feel frustrated that I seem to have crazy aggressive endometriosis, but miraculously we have two children (despite thinking I would need a hysterectomy 3 years ago). If there’s anything I’m learning these days, it’s that the past does not necessarily predict the future, and despite my best guess– I actually have no idea what God has for our future. I’m learning to stop making assumptions. So I don’t know if this means that more exams, ultrasounds and surgeries are in my immediate future. I don’t know if it means we will be able to have more children. But I do know that God can do anything, and that His plan is always best. (And His plans are usually a complete shock to me.)

In the meantime, I’m attempting to wean Rachel. The reasons for this are complicated and varied, and it’s going about as well as trying to get a lion to go on a vegetarian diet. She wants nothing to do with either the bottle or formula. She just wants to nurse, and it makes it doubly hard for this mama to see that. Weaning Josh was hard and yet still much easier than this, so I am not sure of the path forward from here. We’ve tried just about every trick in the book. I’m warming up formula at the moment that I’m 99% positive she will reject (but like I said, I don’t know the future!). Maybe this time she’ll take it. Or maybe we’ll still be at this in a few weeks — please say a prayer for us!

 

 

 

 

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Moving Forward

It’s taken me a while to muster up the courage to write this blog post. For a while I’ve been thinking that maybe I just wanted to have a more private life, and that I didn’t really want to broadcast on this blog the latest, the greatest, the saddest or the baddest happening in my life. Maybe I should stop blogging altogether, I thought.

Looking back, I didn’t blog much (okay, actually not at all) before, during and after we went through IVF. At the time, I felt that I couldn’t. I was realized that this was mostly due to the crippling fear I had that it wouldn’t work.

But then the Lord gave us Josh. A blessing greater than I could have ever surmised.

Since I find myself wanting to retreat from this blog again, you might have guessed why: We’re headed towards a frozen embryo transfer (FET) soon.

It seems a little soon,” you might say. And as Josh is a handful of days away from turning 6 months old, you would be quite correct. It is early. We had hoped to wait longer, so that my body could have more time to recover and so that I could keep nursing Josh for at least a year. But things didn’t turn out as planned (when do they ever?). If you read my blog much, you might remember my post about never ending PMS symptoms. At the time I felt pregnant. For a month I had nausea, heartburn, fatigue, bloating, cramping, spotting… which finally resulted in my first postpartum period, 30 days later. I felt relieved, as it meant my month of PMS torture was finally over. But at the same time, my heart sank. I knew that it meant my (aggressive) endometriosis would be able rear it’s ugly head again, and conceivably soon. In the past, I’ve gotten endometriomas (chocolate cysts) in just two months. That’s right– in just two cycles I had been diagnosed with two endometriomas and scheduled for surgery. And since I’ve had surgery three times, I’m not into waiting it out  to see how it goes. I’ve got 4 other embryos to think about, and I don’t want to risk having to have a hysterectomy or having multiple surgeries that might impair their ability to implant and grow. Our IVF doctor, taking the aggressive nature of my endometriosis into consideration, thinks it’s a wise plan of action to do the FET soon.

The biggest downside to doing the embryo transfer soon is that I had to wean Josh. I found it quite an easy thing to talk about and a much harder thing to actually do. Now, before I go on, I must say that nursing Josh has not been an easy feat. I didn’t write about it on this blog, but I dealt with Josh’s tongue-tie, multiple block ducts, never ending milk blisters, a mastitis scare (basically fever, chills and body aches that self resolved), low milk supply, and lots and lots of Josh crying with frustration while nursing. Often times, I would cry too. Despite all of the hardships that came along with nursing, I found it unbelievably hard to give up. I planned to make it as non-traumatic as possible–starting with one bottle a day with something like 3/4 breast milk and 1/4 formula, while slowly adjusting the ratio over time so that it was only formula, and slowly substituting nursing with bottle feedings over the course of a month. But Josh would have none of it. By the third day of my “plan” (remember, my plans don’t work out very often) Josh was completely refusing the bottle, even if it was solely breast milk. So, I had to force the issue and had to wait it out until he was thirsty enough to A) take the bottle, and B) take the formula all by itself. I felt awful during this process and cried buckets of tears. It was also a hit to my body to go from nursing 6-7 times a day to not at all. Talk about dropping prolactin levels! I prayed and asked God to not let Josh go 3 days or something horrible like refusing the bottle and without fluids. And to my great relief, he didn’t! He actually didn’t go any great length of time at all. I nursed him Friday night (his last time nursing) and when he woke up crying at 4 am, I gave him a bottle with formula and he took 2-3 oz. He sucked it down and sat happily in my lap while doing so. Now he is really cuddly and even cries sometimes if I don’t get the bottle in his mouth fast enough, taking anywhere from 4-5 oz at a time. So, although things didn’t go according to my plan, they still went remarkably well and sped up the process much faster than I could have imagined. And for all my attempts over the past 6 months to give Josh a bottle here and there, and to give him formula occasionally — well, let’s just say that it was pretty much pointless in the end.

I’m not sure when the embryo transfer will be (probably in the next month or two?) but I covet your prayers. I’m surrounded by fears again — such as: What if I don’t get pregnant? Or if I do get pregnant: What if I have another incredibly painful pregnancy, this time with a toddler to care for also? What if it’s twins and I deliver prematurely? What if it’s twins and one of them dies? And on and on the worries can build. But it’s just another opportunity to seek the Lord, to ask for another child, to rest and to not spin these worries out of control. I have to look around me and see all that He has done, and how greatly I have been blessed!

And now that I have gotten over my initial fear by letting people know about our plans to do an embryo transfer soon, I will do my best to keep you updated. The hardest part about this is not getting pregnant and then having someone ask you about it. But conversely, there is the great joy in also telling an inquiring person that it worked and that you’re pregnant! We just don’t know what the Lord has in store for us. Either way, I’m counting on Him to carry us through it.

Thanks for praying!

And why not end with some happy pictures of our little guy? (The first two taken by my talented friend Katherine while I was over at her house.)

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Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, Pain, Pregnancy

ER Visits, Back Blows & God’s Mercy

Way back in the day, when my 28 year old disabled sister was just a newborn, my parents gave her the prescribed daily dose of liquid multivitamins using a dropper. She ended up choking on the vitamins– so severely that she turned purple and my dad started CPR while my mom called an ambulance. She remained purple until the paramedics arrived and they were able to successfully resuscitate her (they actually defibrillated her– something rarely done on newborns nowadays) . Even though she had graduated from the NICU recently, she earned herself a readmission to the NICU that day. Talk about a traumatizing event. I don’t remember it happening (I was only 3) but just hearing my mom talk about it has always made me very sober.

So if you can imagine, I heeded my mom’s advice when she saw me give Joshua his vitamin D supplement through a dropper the other day. She gently reminded me of what had happened with my sister. I remained very cautious with the dropper, but Joshua seemed to do really great with it. I’d put one drop in the side of his mouth, and he’d immediately start sucking it down. It was a breeze. After a couple of weeks, I decided that perhaps the difference was that Joshua was a healthy newborn, whereas my sister had been in the NICU and had always had issues with choking.

It turned out that I was wrong. Sunday afternoon, my husband was holding Joshua upright and I decided that it was the perfect time to administer his vitamin D because my hands were free. Joshua was crying, but in the past he always stopped and immediately assessed the presence of something new in his mouth by starting to suck. I slipped the dropper in his mouth and put in (what I thought) was a drop. Instead of sucking, Joshua immediately started making attempts to gasp but couldn’t. He was unable to make any noise at all. He started to turn pale and his eyes widened as hubby and I both patted his back (with more and more intensity) hoping he would cough up the inhaled vitamins. I didn’t panic at first, because babies choke all the time. When it became clear to me that he still wasn’t able to breathe (and when I realized that almost the entire dosage of vitamins had gone into his mouth), infant CPR class kicked in and I instinctively snatched him up, put him head-down and started back blows. Not what I wanted to be doing to my not-even-four-weeks-old newborn. Not at all. After a couple of back blows I finally heard him cough weakly and saw some color return to his face. I put him upright and continued to pat his back. Bubbles started to come out of his mouth as he slowly coughed up the liquid he had inhaled. He sounded wheezy and “wet” — like there was still a lot of liquid in his trachea that needed to come up.

After Joshua recovered from the back blows, I sat there in the rocking chair, holding him upright on my chest while patting his back and rocking him back and forth. He looked exhausted from choking and coughing so much. As I sat there, thinking about my mom’s warning about the droppers and how pathetic Joshua now looked and sounded, I started to weep. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I prayed over Joshua that he wouldn’t get sick from aspirating the vitamins and emailed my older sister and asked her to pray too. But I still felt horrible. I sat there miserable and worried, rocking my exhausted little 8 pound baby. The tears kept coming.

Over the next few hours we kept a closer eye on Joshua. He sounded raspy when he cried and coughed up more liquid as the evening wore on, but by night time he sounded and looked fine. I was so relieved! I’ll never use one of those droppers ever again.

That was Sunday.

On Monday, I was hanging out with my mom in our living room when I noticed that I had some pretty sharp localized pain in my left lower abdomen. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I had just been telling my mom how great it was to be pain-free these days. I got up to take Joshua back to the nursery so that I could nurse him, and found that it was sort of hard to walk on that side. While I nursed Joshua, the pain got worse and so I tried to stretch out my body and lean back as much as I could to see if it would help the pain. It didn’t help. When Joshua was done nursing, I got up and asked my mom if she’d be willing to burp Joshua so that I could use the restroom, thinking it might help with the pain. I hobbled into the restroom. The pain got worse from there, so much so that I was practically in tears. I exited our bedroom and announced lamely to my mom, “Uh… I’m in a lot of pain… ” I hobbled out to the living room, and before I knew it the pain was out of control. “I don’t know what’s wrong!” I said to my mom, doubled over, barely able to move. The tears started to come. “Maybe it’s an ovarian cyst rupturing?” I tried to think of what could possibly going on. I knew it probably wasn’t appendicitis since it was on my left side and not my right side.

After about five minutes of sheer agony, mom said she wanted to call an ambulance. I suggested she drive me to the ER instead. “What if I get there and they tell me it’s just gas pain or something silly like that?” I said to my mom. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot. But the pain soon made even forget about looking like a fool… all I knew was that something was very wrong. At that point, my mom kicked it into high gear and swiftly got Joshua into his car seat and loaded in our car. She packed the diaper bag, helped me get in the car, and off we went. I managed to quickly call hubby and told him to meet us at the ER.

At the ER, I was called right back. I had my mom take Joshua home and away from all the germs in the ER waiting room. From there we waited in a room for what seemed like an eternity while I lay there in agony. I felt like I was in labor all over again. A doctor came in and I told him I suspected a rupturing cyst. He agreed and ordered an IV, pain meds, labs, and an ultrasound. I turned down the pain meds because they told me I would have to pump and dump if I took them (at that point I thought I might be home in time to nurse Joshua again). Plus, even though I was still in a lot of pain, it was a little better laying down than it had been standing (sitting was impossible though). From there, we waited four hours for the ultrasound. And as I lay there on the ER bed, I cried over the silliest stuff– I cried because of pain, I cried because Joshua was going to get his first bottle (since his first week of life) at home without me. I probably cried because I just wanted to be home taking care of my baby. It sounds ridiculous to me now. I guess I was a mess! I also really needed to pump but I couldn’t lean forward at all and I was stressed out trying to figure out what to do with my milk situation when I couldn’t nurse and I couldn’t pump.

Finally, after five hours in the ER, I started to feel better. I then finally got my ultrasound. It was negative. However, my urine sample came back looking positive for a UTI. So they decided that I must have a UTI (somehow just localized in one spot–on the left side). I started on antibitoics that evening but was already feeling 50% better before I even started it.

So I am being told I have a UTI, but my theory is that I had an ovarian cyst that burst before my ultrasound was done. That would explain why the pain subsided before I had the ultrasound and also before I started on antibiotics. And it would also explain why I’ve had some improving residual pain (only with sitting) the past few days in the same location. Also, the intensity and duration of pain felt pretty similar to a previous time when I had an ovarian cyst burst (this was back in 2010).

ER visit and horrible pain aside, God’s mercy on me through this whole event was that my mom was visiting when it happened. My mom’s not one of those people that needs a lot of instruction. She just jumps in there and gets the job done. I really needed that because I was totally unable to care for Joshua when the pain struck. In fact, I was barely able to call my husband and let him know what was going on. I don’t think I could have waited until my he had made the 40 minute drive home from work to get to the ER. I probably would have called an ambulance and then what would have happened with Joshua? I’m sure it would have worked out, but I’m just so relieved that I could leave Joshua in my mom’s capable hands. And it was nice for my hubby to be able  to stay with me while I was in the ER.

So that was Sunday and Monday. We all survived, and there were blessings to be found.

But if I never have to do back blows or go to the ER again, I really wouldn’t mind.

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First Two Weeks

We took Joshua to his new pediatrician yesterday for his two week check up and received the news: Joshua was up 12 oz from his birth weight! As a first time mommy who’s sort of unsure of her milk supply, this felt like a huge accomplishment. Sure, he felt a little chunkier and he was having tons of wet diapers, but it was nice to know for sure that all was going well in the feeding department.

This picture's kind of blurry and Joshua looks dramatic, but this was the only one we got of him on the scale.

Joshua being dramatic while being weighed. 😉

So here’s a recap of the last two weeks, starting with some of the drama that took place while still in our postpartum room at the hospital.

–Right after Joshua was born, his newborn nurse noticed right away that he was mildly tongue tied. We were very surprised to learn that because it’s hereditary and neither of us know anyone in our family that had it. I wasn’t sure how he would latch because of it and decided to keep an eye on it. From there on out, every time I fed him I called a lactation consultant or my nurse to come in and make sure that he looked like he was latching well. I did NOT want to go home uncertain of whether my baby could suck properly or not. Everyone seemed to think he was latching “ok” — but I had my doubts. Especially when he started crying non-stop and crying with nursing. I know colostrum only goes so far, but he seemed to be starving. By the second night I requested that the nurse bring me some formula so that I could see if he was able to suck the formula out of the bottle. And so began a major fight– it turns out that we were staying at a “breast feeding friendly” hospital and that formula is a big no-no. In fact, it’s viewed to be so incredibly evil that if you want to give your baby formula while at the hospital, you have to listen to your nurse educate you on the long list of evils about formula, you have to sign some sort of “waiver” AND the nurse has to call the pediatrician to get an order for the formula. The first nurse reassured me that my baby was doing fine and that we didn’t need formula, and that it was awful stuff, etc. So I listened to her and decided to wait it out. But then Joshua just got more and more unhappy, despite me try to feed him every two hours. I asked the next nurse on for formula and around the formula merry-go-round we went. Again I listened to the evils of formula and was just extremely annoyed and concerned for my baby. I told her I could have my husband run out and bring me some formula and there actually would be little that she could do about it! Then I requested that she check a blood sugar on my baby, because he had been jittery for quite a while. She obliged and his blood sugar was 49. I wasn’t impressed, and told her to do what she needed to do, but I wanted the formula. She left and miraculously, she had called her manager while she was out and got the whole formula protocol waived, meaning that I didn’t have to sign anything and didn’t need a silly order. She brought the formula in and I quickly discovered that no, my baby could not get the formula through the nipple without some significant cheek support. I didn’t want to jeopardize breast feeding too much, so I gave him a little formula– just enough to keep him happy.

–The next morning, the pediatrician came on and was discussing discharging Joshua that day. I had already received the “all clear” from my OB to go home as well. I passed along my concerns regarding his tongue tie and mentioned that he needed a lot of cheek support to get formula through the nipple of a bottle. She asked me how I knew about “cheek support” and I just said “Well, I’m a NICU nurse.” She immediately shot back “Well, he’s NOT a NICU baby.” I was pretty emotional at this point and was fighting back tears but I just felt defeated by the staff there. All I wanted was to prevent Joshua from having to be readmitted due to something like dehydration or jaundice. I sat down and felt like giving up but told her that I thought he should have his tongue clipped before being discharged. She went about her assessment and to my surprise, at the end she said, “Yes, I think he should have his tongue clipped. It’s a really fast and pretty painless procedure–should take 5-10 minutes. I have a few discharges to do but can be back here in an hour to do it.” I was so relieved to hear this, and frankly pretty amazed considering she had seemed so against anything I had said when she first walked in the door.

–An hour later, Joshua got wheeled away in his bassinet for his procedure. And yes, this new mommy totally cried a little! Joshua was back in our room no more than 6 minutes later, and was happy as a clam. I noticed that he could now stretch his tongue out much closer to his bottom lip, and felt much more hopeful that things would go well at home.

–We came home on a Wednesday afternoon, and my milk had still not come in. By Thursday I was pretty stressed about it, and pretty much an emotional wreck thanks to postpartum hormones dropping. I was crying over nothing, and it was SO annoying! But then Joshua’s wet diapers dropped off, and when he did have a tiny wet diaper, his urine was orange. I knew this meant he was dehydrated, so I would give him little bits of formula here and there to help him get through. At the same time I was having trouble getting him to latch properly and was just overall freaked out that I was sabotaging my milk ever coming in by giving him formula (yes, I was a total stress-case). By Thursday night he had a tiny bit of orange urine in his diaper and his eyes looked extremely jaundiced. I went into the bathroom and just started crying, because he was scheduled to see the pediatrician the next day and I was afraid he would tell me that Joshua needed formula or that his bilirubin level was high. I cried out to God and asked that my milk come in. Yes, I actually prayed that! And immediately after that– God answered my prayer and my milk came in!!! During that night I nursed Joshua all I could handle and he started to have yellow stool and more urine in his diaper. At the pediatrician’s the next day, he had dropped 5% of his weight, which they were happy with (I was elated!) and told me that he looked great! I rejoiced at the news and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

–Since then, both hubby and I have been trying to figure out how to get some sleep at night. I have to admit that I dread the night coming, especially if I haven’t slept much the night before (which is pretty much always the case). We have Joshua on a schedule, which he does great with during the day. At night time though, he’s not so interested in sleeping. I try to keep him up some during the daytime (in an attempt to get his days and nights switched) but his eyes are seriously so droopy and he nods off in nothing flat! Last night he was just really fussy in general and would only sleep for about 30 minutes before waking up crying. By 5 am I had gotten one broken up hour of sleep and I was one out of sorts mama… hoping and praying that tonight goes a little better.

–Sleep or no sleep, I am absolutely loving these days. Taking care of a newborn is a lot of work, but it’s so fun to get to know him and watch him grow. And watching my hubby with him is a real treat, as tonight he read Joshua a story (Joshua looked around the room and noticed everything except the book, I think!) and he tells him these long winded stories that Joshua will probably love in about three years. It makes me chuckle. I love it too when Joshua gets this pouty bottom lip that quivers when he’s starting to get upset… okay I know we shouldn’t laugh but it totally cracks us up!

Lastly, here are some newborn pictures my talented friend took of Joshua:

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The Mini Pill & The Mega Planner

I’m a planner. I love to think about the future and the different possibilities of what it may look like, and prepare for it. It’s pretty ridiculous to some people, and smart to others. It’s the way I like to function, if I can at all help it. Spontaneity is definitely not my thing (which is something I share at the risk of looking like a complete stick in the mud!). But it’s true. Thankfully, hubby doesn’t seem to mind too much as he is very analytical in nature.

Which is why, even though I am only 33 weeks along (at least I will be tomorrow–I like to round up), I am already considering the period between when I have the baby and when our next embryo transfer will take place. For most women who have given birth and breast feed, their periods don’t return until they stop breast feeding. But that is not always the case. I’ve heard of some women getting their periods just two months after giving birth, even though they are solely breast feeding their baby.

Although I have no idea what my body will do when the time comes, this is a concern of mine. If I am having a period, then I am risking getting another endometrioma and needing surgery. The very last possible time when I want to have to surgery is when I am caring for a newborn! Not only that, but surgery means more scar tissue and another rough go with pain if I ever get pregnant again.

I talked with hubby the other night about my concerns. I told him that one of my limited options was to take the “mini pill” (progesterone only) after I have the baby. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So, I could possibly go on the mini pill after I have the baby.

Him: What’s the mini pill? That’s the same as birth control?

Me: Sort of, except without the estrogen.

Him: (Frowning now) I don’t know… even though you’ve had some mood swings being pregnant, it’s been really nice to have you off of birth control.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Well, you’re a whole lot less hostile when you’re not on birth control!

Me: (Stunned) Wow. Oh, wow… Okay, well, that’s something to definitely consider.

So we have some time to pray about these things. My husband doesn’t want a hostile wife, and I don’t want to be that wife! But I don’t want surgery either- and neither does he.

I’m realizing that sometimes life comes to this– there doesn’t appear to be any “great” options on the table and we must ask and trust the Lord through it. Actually, when it has come to dealing with endometriosis, it has seemed that there has never been any “great” options on the table. And yet, here I am– miraculously pregnant, in spite of stage 4 endometriosis, and after thinking several times that the best route for me to take was to have a hysterectomy. I can only thank the Lord for that, and remember how He has made beauty out of ashes in my life. I can trust Him for my future.

So there you have it. More insomniac 5 am ponderings from me. 🙂

On a completely new note, our fridge is fixed! Hubby was able to fix it with an inexpensive part. We are so thankful to the Lord for this! I am really enjoying not living out of ice chests anymore. I’m praying for a similar miracle for the leaking head gasket in our car. I would say that I don’t know for sure that it’s leaking, except for the fact that I can smell burning oil every time I get out of the car after driving it. Definitely not a good sign, but as a good friend reminded me the other day, anything is possible with our God.

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