Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Miscarriage of my 2nd Pregnancy

On Friday, April 4, 2014, I found out that I was pregnant after one cycle of trying to conceive (TTC)! It hadn't been a normal cycle for me, which was strange as I have always been very regular! I got a positive pregnancy test about 8 weeks from my last menstrual cycle and I'd been testing fairly regularly, so I was pretty sure I had just conceived. I had thought I was pregnant the previous month, of course. When you're looking for pregnancy symptoms, you are sure to find them! So when my cycle hadn't started when I thought it should and I was still getting negative tests, I was a bit concerned but figured I'd give it a couple weeks to see if something would happen. 
On April 4, one of my coworkers asked if "the rumors" were true. I laughed and asked her if she was asking if I was pregnant and if so, the rumors were not true. When I went home, I told my husband how silly that was. I said I was feeling a bit light-headed but nothing compared to the extremely obvious pregnancy symptoms I had early on in Robbie's pregnancy. I had one test left and was like, what the heck, let's see what it says. I used the test and closed my eyes and wished really hard it would be positive. I almost even started crying, hoping so hard. When I opened my eyes, there was a positive test! Even though I had hoped it would be positive, I'd had so many negatives in the past month (probably like 20) that I didn't expect the positive line to show up. I ran out into the living room and my husband and I started jumping up and down and then Robbie joined us, it is such a great memory. I had to go to my parents' house that evening so we put Robbie in the "Big Brother" shirt I had bought him at the beginning of February and drove over there, just a few minutes after taking the test.

When we got there, Robbie didn't want Daddy to put him down but we really wanted everyone to see his shirt! My husband sat down on the couch and put Robbie on his lap, facing everyone. My mom asked, " is this how you're telling us you're pregnant?" jokingly. I said, "well, yes!" After we went back home, we invited my husband's family over and everyone was so happy.
The symptoms I had with that pregnancy compared to Robbie's pregnancy were so different! With Robbie, I was very nauseous all the time and my skin was clearer than it had been in years. I was waited for these signs and my skin never cleared up, I had a bit of light-headedness and I didn't develop nausea until a few weeks later. Another symptom I had this time that I didn't have last time, because I wasn't breastfeeding last time, was extreme sensitivity to Robbie nursing. W00-wee, I am not looking forward to that again. So I felt pretty normal for a few weeks besides the nursing sensitivity and then I developed slight nausea around April 18. I figured it was a reassuring sign, although I did up my magnesium consumption, as I've heard magnesium deficiency can be a cause of pregnancy nausea. 
The ultrasound to calculate my due date was scheduled for April 21. I wasn't sure how far along I was because I had the strangely long cycle. I could have been as far as 10 weeks at that point! I thought I was about 7 weeks, based on when I got my positive test. I was a bit nervous about the ultrasound because I tend to be, not pessimistic, but cautious. The nausea kind of reassured me that the pregnancy hormone was still around and even increasing. 
On April 21, my husband and I went to the appointment and were very happy as we had such great memories of the area where the hospital was since our son was born there. We reminisced about the childbirth classes we took and fun appointments. When we got in the ultrasound room, we were excited and I was a bit nervous but I really didn't think anything would be out of the ordinary. We didn't have to wait long before the doctor came in and we started the ultrasound right away. And right away I knew it wasn't a normal pregnancy. I saw the shape of the uterus and a small circle inside it. The doctor also started making those "confused" sounds, like "hmm." I turned to my husband and he knew too.
I knew it was totally normal, even in the moment, to have an early loss. I immediately thought about what action I would have to take to start miscarrying, since it hadn't started on its own. I cried. I was sad, of course, but also I didn't want my mom and mother-in-law to be upset. They are both very emotional people. My husband was sad but strong.
The doctor said it looked like the egg stopped developing and that is common and completely normal. It's called a blighted ovum. People say that perhaps I wouldn't have even known I was pregnant if women didn't test so early these days but after two months of not having a cycle, I would have known something was up. And my body hadn't miscarried on its own so no matter what, I needed to start the miscarriage for my health. 
I already knew my options from other women's miscarriage stories and I knew I wanted the least invasive procedure possible. My doctor offered misoprostol (Cytotec,) which is an [off label use of a] medication that causes the uterus to empty, or a D&C, which is a procedure where the doctor physically removes the pregnancy. I knew immediately that I would take the Cytotec because the D&C would upset me and it can also cause scarring in the uterus if the procedure goes wrong. I would have to take an antibiotic as well to prevent infection from the miscarriage. She also prescribed pain medication as miscarriages can be very painful.

The beginning of my miscarriage:
The doctor placed the Cytotec vaginally at about 2:30 pm. It can also be taken orally but can cause stomach upset to the woman and also a nursing baby (it passes through the breastmilk.) She said not to worry if the tablets came out as that doesn't mean the medicine hadn't absorbed. It was a very simple, mostly painless procedure. 
We picked up my prescriptions at Target and got some supplies for the bleeding. We went to lunch before we went home to tell people. My MIL, who was watching Robbie, took it better than I expected. She didn't cry but was teary a few times during the next few days. I wanted to tell my mom in person but she was busy helping an injured family member. She kept sending me text messages, asking how the appointment went and when I wouldn't give her a straight answer and finally called to tell her, she said she had guessed by that point. She also took the news better than I expected.
I wasn't sure when the bleeding and cramping should start. I wanted it to start immediately so I would know it was working but it took about 5 hours. At about 7, I started cramping and at about 7:30 pm, the bleeding started. The cramps were bad. I used to have terrible menstrual cramps as a teenager and these cramps were very similar. I had to breathe through them and my husband gave me a back rub. I decided to take some ibuprofen. The rest of the evening I pretty much sat on the couch with my legs up as the cramps died down. When they went away completely about two hours later, I was shocked. They never got really bad again but I did take the ibuprofen once more a few days later.
I told my sisters and brother about the miscarriage by sending them text messages. It sounds impersonal, but I didn't want to talk about it much yet. They responded kindly and I reassured them that I was okay.
The bleeding was not as heavy as I anticipated and that confused me. My mother-in-law, who is a nurse, suggested maybe because the pregnancy was only about 5 weeks long that light bleeding could be normal. That made sense to me but when I called the doctor for an excuse from work, I still asked the nurse if it seemed normal. She said the doctor said it could be normal but that I should come in for the follow-up ultrasound in one week, not two, as previously scheduled. 
I was in a okay mood the rest of the week and physically all was going as it should. I would feel sad sometimes thinking about what I had anticipated, like having a baby right before Christmas, wouldn't happen. I had no animosity toward pregnant people until one time I caught up on a month's worth of posts from one of my favorite bloggers that included pictures of her growing baby belly. I was mad, not at her but at the situation, for just a minute. I also felt sad when watching "Call the Midwife," a fictional show about pregnancy and childbirth, but also so happy whenever a baby was born. I mostly feel back to normal though, besides a few moments here and there.
My follow-up ultrasound went perfectly fine. The doctor said all the tissue had passed and there was just some fluid remaining that would pass in a few weeks. Two and a half weeks after the start of the miscarriage, I am still bleeding. Strangely, I am bleeding more this week than the previous two, maybe because we are back to TTC. I bought some OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) and have been using them this week and I think I ovulated three days ago. Since I've been bleeding more this week, I just don't think it's likely we will conceive this cycle but I'm happy to see that I ovulated and should be back to normal next month. The doctor recommended I wait to TTC until after a normal period for reasons including a higher chance of miscarriage (to do with the placenta and progesterone or something.) I didn't want to wait but I don't think I'll conceive this cycle anyway.
I'm excited to conceive again and holding a six month old yesterday made me really want another baby! This experience has actually made me focus on Robbie's babyhood again and I'm happy to nurse him whenever he wants (most of the time) and I'm not so exhausted. I know I will be tired and nauseous and have sensitivity while nursing again soon but I am appreciating the break from pregnancy symptoms for now. We conceived the first time trying so I'm hoping it will be that easy again. I have no fears that it will happen again- if anything, I will be less worried than before the miscarriage I think.
My experience with a misoprostol- induced miscarriage was different than any I'd read before. I did not have terrible physical effects from the miscarriage and I think I'm handling it emotionally like most would, especially with an early loss. I hope my story can help others who want to know they aren't alone. Miscarriage is a sad thing to experience but for most women, with average fertility, it is just something that happens when the egg and/or sperm just isn't right. I don't expect it to happen again, though it could.
If there's anything worth updating, like how long the bleeding lasted since I am still bleeding, I will write a miscarriage update. Hopefully that update will include a new pregnancy!
Thank you for reading about this sad experience of mine and if you've had your own loss, I'm very sorry for your loss. Please feel free to share your own experience in the comments.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sign Language at 2 Years (and a verbal language update)

  1. milk
  2. more
  3. food/ eat
  4. bug
  5. horse (also neighs)
  6. dog (also woofs)
  7. dada
  8. cow (also moos)
  9. apple
  10. cracker
  11. thank you
  12. baby
  13. help (not the ASL sign but baby sign)
  14. water
  15. hat
  16. nose
  17. ball
  18. bird (also chirps)
  19. all done 
  20. outside
  21. cat (also meows)
  22. hair
  23. grandma (uses father sign)
  24. grandpa (uses father sign)
  25. mouse
  26. please
  27. orange
  28. nut
  29. cereal
  30. tree
  31. sign
  32. time
  33. book
  34. mama!
  35. juice
  36. flower
  37. chicken
  38. pig
  39. light
  40. thank you 
  41. banana
  42. balloon
  43. bubble
  44. goat (also bleats, haha)
  45. popcorn (makes a popping sound)
  46. lion (also roars)
  47. monkey (makes a monkey sound)
  48. bear (also roars)
  49. carrot
  50. cookie
  51. butterfly
  52. fish
  53. orange (the color)
  54. strawberry (uses the same sign for blueberry)
  55. ice
  56. moon
  57. star
  58. hot
  59. pear
Verbal words:
  1. bubble (he was calling his birthday balloons "bubbles" all day, so cute!)
  2. mama
  3. dada
  4. apple  
  5. book 
  6. two (says doo)
(He also thinks that anything more than one is two and it's so cute!) I've decided there is no point in stressing about his verbal development when he is doing so well with signing. He will follow a verbal command perfectly and immediately so as far as I can tell, he is processing speech just fine. He picks up new signs very quickly, even if he's just mimicking the action, which other kids may do with verbal words. He can communicate very clearly, although since most people don't know ASL, it can be a little confusing when he signs to people other than me and my husband, and people who know ASL, of course! At two years old, children are expected to use at least 50 words and ASL counts toward that, so he's right on track! I know a few children his age that clearly speak sentences (!) but they are mostly girls, who tend to speak earlier, and all children progress at different paces anyway. I try to compare him to other children sparingly and enjoy him for who he is, and not just his abilities. He impresses me everyday with different things he can do like puzzles and climbing. It's so awesome to see him thinking and then do something; you can actually see him figuring things out.
So I've counted 59 signs and I'm sure I'm forgetting some. I'm so proud of my smart little guy. I love him so much and I look forward to updating more about his new accomplishments.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Time "In": Our Gentle Discipline Solution

Over the last few months, Robbie has been hitting and throwing things at me and Daddy.  It is obviously really frustrating.  It became much worse with the holidays as he was really overstimulated and was around people that he didn't know or didn't know well.  We would just say "no hitting" and remove him from the situation but it would happen again right after.  He wouldn't do it all day but when he was tired or frustrated, he would hit.
One night at home alone with Robbie, enough was enough.  I knew I wasn't going to spank him, especially since it would be me hitting him for him hitting me.  It didn't make sense to me to do that.  I'd heard of "time in" before on an Attachment Parenting Facebook page but at the time, he wouldn't have understood the connection between the "time in" and the misbehavior.  That night though, after he hit me one too many times, I laid a blanket out in a more quiet area of the house.  When he hit me, I picked him up and sat him on the blanket, sat down with him and said, "no hitting" very sternly.  He immediately stood up, which I was completely fine with, but as he walked past me, he smacked me on the back.  I sat him back down on the blanket and he started crying and stood up and hit me on the back.  I sat him back down and said "no hitting."  Thankfully Daddy came home at that point and Robbie ran over to him, without hitting me.  I told Daddy what I'd been doing and he wasn't sure it was a good thing since Robbie was so mad at me.  We also discussed that the behavior seems to start when he's tired and decided that we should start the bedtime routine when it starts.
The next day I went to work and Daddy said that he had to do "time in" twice but that Robbie hadn't cried and that he stopped the behavior after.  He even warned him asking if he wanted to sit down and Robbie had stopped without having to actually sit down.
Since then it has been going well!  He only cried that one day and I was sitting next to him offering love the whole time.  He will usually stop if we warn him that he'll have to "sit down" if he continues to hit or throw.  We also emphasize that it's okay to throw balls only and praise him when he does throw them.  We're not sure if this is confusing to him but he seems to get it.
All we expect with "time in" is for him to sit down.  That's it.  He can get up immediately if he wants.  We don't expect him to sit for 5 seconds or 2 minutes or anything.  As he gets older, if we have to use "time in," we will increase the time he has to sit.  I do also plan on teaching him the sign for "sorry" soon and maybe he will have to sign it to us before he can walk away.
He is hitting and throwing less and less!  We are so proud of him learning so quickly.  We weren't sure if we could encourage him to stop hitting without raising our voices or using other not-so-gentle means but we have!  The misbehavior still happens sometimes when he is tired but he listens and doesn't want to have to sit down.  We also judge whether he is tired at this point and start winding down if necessary.  Sometimes he gets wild when one of us comes home but if warned, he will direct it in a different way.
We haven't used it out of the house yet and I don't think Gran, who babysits once a week, has tried it.  I don't think he usually acts out with her much though.
This may not work for everyone.  Robbie, for example, would not respond to just warning at the beginning and we had to start "time in."  Perhaps a warning will be all he needs in the future!  I do hope that it will help someone, especially before resorting to less gentle means.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Is Homeschooling Crunchy? Or Part of Attachment Parenting?

We've made a major life decision that I consider crunchy for me, though some people who do this would vehemently disagree.

We will homeschool our children!

It's been something I've considered for a long time, I don't know how long, or why I became interested in it.  Working at a public library I see a lot of homeschooling families and although it obviously depends on many things, these families seem really happy.  
Both my husband and I are unsatisfied with our K-12 public schooling and we even have different reasons why.  School was really easy for me in elementary school and then pretty easy through middle school and high school.  I would look at the syllabus and calculate just how much work I had to do in order to get an A and then would do just that much work.  I was in for a rude awakening when I went to a public university.  Not only was I unprepared for how hard I was expected to work, I don't know how to write a paper that includes analysis or critical thinking.  And I was a tutor in my 11th grade honors English class!  For my husband, he is thriving at a public community college and is applying to a few public universities.  He didn't test very well on standardized tests in high school and he doesn't like "busy work," which is what we were assigned in each high school class after the teacher briefly "lectured."  He writes very well and has even been published in his community college political science journal!  So though I did "well" in public school, I don't have much to show for it.  My husband did not do so well in public K-12 and now he's doing great in college.  This shows us that public school does not prepare us well for life after high school, especially if you plan on higher education.
Academics are not the only thing children are exposed to at school though.  Though I'm not homeschooling for religious reasons, for many religious parents, they homeschool to keep their kids young for just a while longer and in some cases, to prevent "bad influences" that children are exposed to in school.  This may seem extreme to people but there are many things I learned too young from people at school that I would be devastated for my young children to deal with.  In sixth grade, when I was 12, I had classmates who were doing drugs and experimenting sexually.  I am not exaggerating.  It's true that children can be exposed to these things from neighbors or family members but this way, some of those influences can be avoided or delayed.  And in the case with neighbors and family, parents will have some control over who their children interact with.
All children are different.  Some need to wiggle or read aloud to learn best.  Some like to read or be read to or watch a documentary.  That's one thing I am most excited to discover: how my children learn best, and provide resources for them that fit best.
We plan to put our children in sports and art/ music programs and everything else other children experience out of school.  Our children will be able to do these things during the school day though!  We will also have a chance to visit the zoo or museums when we want and even visit famous places around the country when we want, without having to worry about missing school.
I will likely continue to work part-time while homeschooling for financial reasons.  Ideally, I would stay home but you do what you gotta do!  Since I normally work in the afternoons, I can school in the morning and my husband can finish up when he is not working.  And there's no reason that they can't do schoolwork on the weekends or evenings or year-round instead of having summers off.  There are regulations in some states about how many hours a day students must be schooling and even some regulations about what hours they are schooled.  But we will make it work.
We are hands-on parents and plan to continue to be hands-on with education as well and to us, that means homeschooling.  That doesn't mean it is right for everyone or that public or private school is an evil place.  In fact, depending on how it goes, our children may go to school if it is appropriate and we think that's best.  The funny thing is the vast majority of parents do homeschool for a while.  Your children learn so much from you in the early years and we wonder, why stop?  As they get older, there are more opportunities for them to learn independently if desired and there are many online programs.  We won't necessarily be teaching them ourselves 8 am- 3 pm through 12th grade.
There is so much information on the Internet these days about homeschooling but for secular homeschoolers, there's not as much.  An amazing place I found is  I've also placed a button in the right sidebar.  They have forums, secular curriculum reviews, links to secular homeschooling blogs and more!  It is really an amazing resource. 

These are some but not all of the reasons we chose to homeschool.  If you want more reasons, just ask!