Bodily frustrations

I find women’s bodies to be both fascinating and infuriating.

On one hand, it’s pretty amazing what our bodies are (sometimes) capable of doing.  Pregnancy, as frustrating and challenging as it can be, totally blows my mind.  I somehow managed to grow two humans.  Then, if that wasn’t enough, my body allowed me to feed these tiny humans.  Crazy!

On the other hand, though, is the uncertainty that comes along with having this miraculous body.

I got an IUD inserted two weeks ago at 10 months postpartum.  I am still breastfeeding and, until that moment, I had not had any bleeding or even any menstrual symptoms since before getting pregnant.  I had a bit of spotting for two days after the IUD was put in, which I’m told is normal.  Then it stopped.  Five days later it started again, but this time I had the familiar cramping that always comes along with my periods.  WTF?  Can it really be back?  Nonononononoooooo!  It’s now a week later and I’m still bleeding.  Argh!

I had an ultrasound a couple of days ago to confirm that the IUD is in the correct position.  It is.  Everything is normal.  So, it appears that my period has miraculously returned.  What irks me is that one of the selling features of this IUD is that periods can be lighter than normal or disappear altogether.  That sounded pretty great to me but apparently I’m the exception to that rule.  So far, mine is twice as long as normal!

I hope this is just a fluke or my body is just sorting itself out after all that time being pregnant and nursing.  Because what the hell’s the point of having this stupid IUD if I’m feeling too gross to have sex?  I know some people don’t mind getting down to business while having their period but I’m not one of those people.

My breastfeeding experience – part one

I’ve been thinking a lot about breastfeeding lately, as I prepare for the arrival of Baby Bo.    Of course, everyone I know has a story about their own breastfeeding experience – with many of them suffering challenges or rather unpleasant situations.  Recently, I’ve followed along (in utter fear) as Esperanza at Stumbling Gracefully  has dealt with thrush and mastitis. 

As I think about breastfeeding again, I can’t help remembering what it was like when Littleman was first born.  I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby, so I read as much as I could about it before he was born.  I was aware that it may be challenging, so I tried to arm myself with as much knowledge as I could.  I purchased a breast pump, a couple of nursing bras and a nursing pillow.  While we had a couple of bottles on hand, we decided we wouldn’t introduce a bottle until a few weeks after birth, to ensure that nursing was well established.   And, finally, I promised myself that I would try as hard as I could to stick with it, but that I wouldn’t feel bad or guilty if it didn’t work out for us.  It’s funny how naïve one can be…

When Littleman arrived, we were lucky enough to have some great and helpful nurses in the hospital.  They showed us how to get into the proper position to breastfeed.  Unfortunately, Littleman just didn’t seem all that interested.  We tried regularly throughout the first night and the next morning.  He really wouldn’t latch.  The nurses showed me how to try to hand-extract some colostrum, but we didn’t have much luck getting anything out. 

About 24 hours after giving birth, they decided I should try pumping.  They set me up with a hospital grade breast pump.  It was a serious piece of machinery!  The plan was that I would try to feed Littleman and then pump every three hours (I can’t remember for how long).  My first encounter with the pump was pretty scary.  I was sitting on the edge of the hospital bed while the double pump did its business.  After pumping for the specified time, I shut it off and stood up.  That is when I felt a massive gush and tons of blood started to rush out of me. 

I booted it into the bathroom where I felt a big clot come out of me in the toilet.  Luckily my mom was visiting at the time (I’m pretty sure D had taken Littleman for a walk in the hallway while I was pumping) so mom buzzed the nurses.  I was terrified.  I remembered reading/hearing that breastfeeding causes your uterus to contract, but somehow I missed the part where you can bleed heavily!

The nurse (bless her heart) arrived in my room and reached into the toilet to check the clot that had come out of me.  It was huge – about the size of my fist.  She said it was totally normal and that I wasn’t hemorrhaging to death.  Thank goodness.

After that initial time, the pumping went fine.  However, Littleman still wasn’t latching and didn’t show much interest in eating at all. 

I visited the breastfeeding clinic within the hospital to meet with a lactation consultant.  We practiced a bit and I felt like I knew what we had to do.  They weren’t going to let us leave the hospital until Littleman fed properly, but luckily we got an actual feed in on his second morning.  Time to go home!

Knowing that nursing had already been a bit of a challenge, we decided to be proactive when we got home.  Our pediatrician had given us the name of a private lactation consultant who does home visits.  D called her right away and scheduled her to come the next day.  In the meantime, we just kept trying what we had learned in the hospital.  When the lactation consultant came, she helped us some more and seemed to think we were on the right track.  Onwards and upwards.

I realize this is getting quite long so I’ll continue the rest of the story in a separate post.  Stay tuned!

Another scary day

Things have been getting pretty crazy around here.  When I said that last week’s incident probably wouldn’t be my only “freak-out moment” of this pregnancy, I don’t think I realized the next one would come quite so soon…

I didn’t have any more spotting after the ultrasound on Thursday.  I also hadn’t heard any results from that ultrasound, so I took that to mean there was nothing out of the ordinary to report.  I felt pretty crummy off-and-on over the weekend – mostly feeling nauseous in the evenings and had been going to bed super early.

Yesterday, I was 8w5d.  I woke up and went to work as usual.  I was having a bit of gas-like cramping, but my tummy had been a bit off (I was a little constipated over the weekend and then had some diarrhea) so I wasn’t really concerned.  Just before 10:00 a.m., I got up from my desk to  go to the washroom.  I felt a bit of wetness “down there” but I assumed it was my usual pregnancy discharge – watery/creamy/whitish stuff.  When I arrived at the washroom and sat down, there was an immediate huge gush of blood.  It was bright red and way more blood than a normal menstrual bleed.  I was freaking out.  How could this be happening?  I just saw Bo looking perfect on Thursday.  How could I have a miscarriage now?

I pulled myself together and made it back to my desk.  I somehow managed to set my out-of-office response on my email and stumbled over to my boss to tell her I had to leave.  She didn’t know about my pregnancy yet, so I felt I had to tell her.  She was very good about it and I rambled about my situation as she walked me down to catch a cab.

D was up at the farm doing some work, so it would take him a while to get back to the city.  I couldn’t get a hold of my mom and first, so I knew I was going to have to go the ER on my own.  Mom finally called back and met me at the hospital.  She made it there before the triage nurse had even seen me.  I managed to hold myself together until I was talking to the nurse.  That’s when I started sobbing.

I made it through triage and registration relatively quickly.  Our hospital is massive and has a crazy busy ER, so usually the wait is very long.  Of course, once inside, I was escorted to yet another waiting room.  To wait.  D arrived while I was waiting to be seen.  Around noon, a doctor came to get us.

We went into an examination room and I described my symptoms again.  At this point, I hadn’t had any more bleeding beyond that one big gush.  I told the doctor about my spotting and subsequent ultrasound on Thursday.  He said he would do a “screening” ultrasound right away and then we’d take it from there.

I lay down fully prepared to be told that I had miscarried.  I felt sick to my stomach, but strangely calm.  He pulled in the portable ultrasound machine and got down to business.  D was standing beside me and I knew he could see the screen but I couldn’t see anything and D was keeping quiet.  Finally the doctor asked if I wanted to see the baby and turned the screen toward me.  It was much less clear than the previous ultrasounds, but I could definitely see the blob of a baby and the fluttering heart.  Thank God.

He told us that the ultrasound machine wasn’t good enough to measure the heart rate properly but that everything looked normal to him.  He said he suspected that I had a subchorionic bleed, which apparently is common cause of first trimester bleeding.  I would get a more detailed ultrasound that afternoon, as well as urine and blood work.

Back to the little waiting room to wait some more.  In the meantime, I called Dr. P’s office to let him know I was in the ER.  His receptionist said that my ultrasound from last week had been “normal” but did show a small subchorionic bleed.  She said it was good that I was getting checked again and that they would look out for the results.  Um, why hadn’t they called and told me about the bleed??  I’m sure I still would have freaked out, but maybe not quite as much…

Anyway, after many hours of waiting, we were finally taken to radiology for the second ultrasound.  After a quick abdominal ultrasound, they moved on to transvaginal.  When I say “they”, I mean that I got to have it done twice because there was a student as well as the regular technologist.

After that, I was given a radiology report to take back to the ER doc.  It was stapled shut so I couldn’t read it (I sure tried though).  Shortly after returning to the ER, the doctor pulled us aside to tell us the findings:

  • a very small subchorionic bleed was seen on the ultrasound
  • likely a lot the blood came out in the morning during the “gush”
  • there may be some more bleeding or the rest of the blood may be reabsorbed by my body
  • the baby looked good and measured normally with a heart rate of 171 bpm, however this is still considered a miscarriage risk – meaning I could go on to have a normal pregnancy or it could cause a miscarriage
  • there are also signs of an umbilical cord cyst (not related to the bleeding) which needs to be re-checked at the NT scan between 12 and 14 weeks

Woosh, that’s a lot to take in.  By the time we got home, I was completely exhausted.  I had a quick dinner and was in bed by 7:00 p.m.  I did a bunch of reading online (which sometimes helps, sometimes not) and had a bit of trouble falling asleep. 

This morning, Dr. P called after receiving all the results.  He definitely made me feel a lot better.  He said the baby looks great and doesn’t seem to be affected at all by the bleed.  My HCG levels look great.  He expects that I may bleed some more (in fact, I had another smaller gush last night before bed) and he said any bleeding should be dark red to black in colour. 

Dr. P told me that I can do normal light activity (i.e. go to work) but no intercourse, heavy lifting or strenuous activity.

I asked about the umbilical cord cyst as well.  After reading on the internet, I was a bit scared (can be a sign of chromosomal abnormalities in the second and third trimester) but it looks like most cysts found in the first trimester – especially between 8 and 9 weeks – disappear by the second trimester and end up with normal pregnancy outcomes.  Anyway, he said it was so small that he wasn’t even sure that there was a cyst and that we’d check on it at the next ultrasound.

All in all, I was told to try not to worry.  Easier said than done, but I don’t have much other choice right now.  There’s nothing we can do to stop the bleeding so I just have to wait it out.  I’m trying  my best to stay positive and hope that everything resolves itself.

 

Could it be IB?

It appears that yesterday’s post was extremely timely.  This morning, after using the washroom, I had a spot of red mucus on the toilet paper.  It was actually more of a glob (sorry, that sounds gross) and was probably a bit smaller than pea-sized. 

My first reaction was minor panic.  Anything red tends to stress me out.  But then, of course, my mind went right to the very topic I was thinking about yesterday.  Could this be implantation bleeding?  According to Fertility Friend, I’m 8dpo.  And, according to FF’s Pregnancy Monitor (which, I’ve decided I hate, by the way) only “6.7% of pregnancy charts show spotting at 8dpo.  18.2% less than for non pregnant charts.”  Great.  Those are pretty crappy odds.

Up until now, I had been doing really will with my vow not to obsess about how I’m feeling or google random symptoms this month.  But this current development has driven me right back to the internet.  Damn, I have no willpower.

Implantation Bleeding: fact or fiction?

I’ve always been a spotter.  At least, I’ve spotted ever since I went off birth control in 2009.   I can’t remember if I spotted much prior to going on birth control many, many years ago.   I guess it wasn’t really something I would have cared about back then.

When we first started trying to conceive Littleman in 2009, I experienced some light brown spotting before my period was due.  I remember googling something like “spotting before period while trying to conceive.”  The results were my first introduction to the phenomenon known as implantation bleeding.  I remember thinking to myself, “this is it!  We did it!  I’m pregnant for sure!”

Of course, a couple of days later, my period showed up.  This went on for months and months.  And, although I knew the spotting was likely just that – spotting – I never really gave up on the hope that it would turn out to mean implantation had occurred.

When we hit our fourteenth month of TTC, I spent my two week wait in the usual way.  Waiting, hoping, googling.  All of a sudden, I realized that I hadn’t spotted.    When I finally gave in and took a test around 14dpo, I think I already kind of knew.  I didn’t have one speck of spotting and I got my BFP!  So, at that point, I decided that this whole implantation bleeding thing was a myth.

Fast forward to 2012 and TTC baby #2.  As usual, the spotting occurred regularly before my periods.  During some cycles it even happened for as many as 6-8 days before my period arrived.   The spotting was always such a disappointment.  It dashed my hopes each month because I knew right away that it meant I wasn’t pregnant.  On the positive side, it saved me some money on HPTs.  No point in testing early when I was spotting.

In December 2012, I wasn’t taking my temperature or using OPKs.  But I did monitor my CM and mark down my period.  I had some light spotting in the second half of my cycle.  I remember it being light pinky mucus and it happened a couple of times when I wiped over a span of two days.  Since I was pretty certain we had missed most of my fertile window due to holidays, sickness and D’s work schedule, I figured this was my usual pre-period spotting.

Turns out, I was wrong.  The spotting disappeared all together so I gave into my temptation to test.  BFP!  Looking back, based on our intercourse timing, I can guess that the spotting happened around 8-9dpo.  Implantation bleeding?  Perhaps.  Something else?  Maybe.

Now that I’m well into the TWW, I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable internal debate: implantation bleeding vs. pre-period spotting. UGH.

The bleeding

I apologize in advance if you don’t want to hear about the gory details of my post-D&C bleeding.  I need to write about it for myself so I can remember what happened – and for anyone who is trying to figure out what might be normal after a D&C.  Feel free to click away now!

Anyway, a constant reminder of my loss and subsequent D&C was the bleeding and spotting that followed the surgery.  Over the course of the 2 1/2 weeks following the procedure, my body has played tricks on me.  Some days there would be barely any spotting, leading me to think that everything has made its way out of me.  Then BAM it would come back, heavier than the day before.

I kept a log of my bleeding in my iPhone, so I’d remember in case I needed to tell Dr. P about it.  It started out heavy and bright red on the day of the surgery.  Then it turned lighter, then more like spotting.  It varied in colour.  It was pink, then deeper red, then rust coloured, then brown, then beige.

Each time I’d visit the bathroom, I’d hope to see nothing.  Each time, I’d be disappointed.  Then, one day, I got that Leona Lewis song stuck in my head, “Keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding…”  Oh man, I had totally lost my mind.

I knew it was probably normal to still be bleeding (although I don’t believe there’s really anything normal about having to deal with this situation at all) but I really wished it would end.  It made it hard to forget what had happened to me, even for a moment, when I continued to bleed.

Finally, it feels safe to say that the bleeding has stopped.  It’s been three days of nothing.   It kind of feels like a milestone.  While I should be celebrating being 17 weeks pregnant today, instead I’m celebrating being three days blood-free.  This isn’t a milestone I ever would have expected (or wanted)  to celebrate, but it’s a milestone nonetheless.  It means I’m taking one small step forward, moving away from the miscarriage toward whatever may come next for me.