August 02, 2016

Pregnancy Journal: Documenting My Nine Weeks of Pregnancy

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I was debating with myself, whether or not to publish this post, considering that I wasn't able to go full-term. I can very well discard this post and pretend that the last two months never happened, and just psyche myself up to try again. But then I realized that it wouldn't be fair to my unborn child to deny its existence.

We gave our best efforts, my husband and I, but not only us. "It" also tried its best, growing almost as big as an inch. It grew a beating heart, a human-like head, and was starting to grow little limbs. It wasn't fully human (or human-like) just yet--a week shy from being officially called a fetus--but it was ALIVE.

I was only pregnant for nine weeks (8 weeks and 6 days according to my last ultrasound), but I cannot deny that this experience has changed me in many ways. Physically, I was introduced to a lot of new sensations unknown to me before. Emotionally, well I'm still in grief (as I rightly should be), but now I know how it feels to hope, and to long, and to lost, and to (hopefully) hope again. Mentally, my scientific curiosity drove me to learn and to understand what I was going through. I believe that because of this I am able to stay strong throughout the process. Spiritually, I realized that "praying for the best" does not necessarily mean getting what you want, but doing so prepares you to accept the circumstances happening to you, allowing them to build your character. I still believe that everything happens for a reason, and in God's time. Financially, I admit that I have already invested a lot in this quest to have a baby, but at least there's government and company benefits to aide my financial needs.

I didn't want this to happen to me, but I don't want to think of this as something unfortunate. Hindi kami malas. I'd like to think that this is God's/nature's way to prepare me for the real thing, so next time I know what to expect and how to act. Demo version, kumbaga.

Publishing this post is a way for me not only to cope with the loss, but also to acknowledge that THIS happened; that we MADE something. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't successful, but it lived long enough for me to appreciate the complexity of life in a whole other level.

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(This blog post is a chronicle of my experiences, written during the time when I was advised to keep the news about my pregnancy private. As per OB, it is best to keep the news to ourselves while we haven't confirmed the overall health of the baby)

Week 5: Apparently, my baby has a tail at this point.

FUN FACT: Since no one can accurately tell when fertilization takes place, pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period. This means, Week 1 of your pregnancy is when you last menstruated, Week 2 is your ovulation (where fertilization may have taken place), Week 3 could be your implantation, and Week 4 is where you can start testing for your pregnancy, assuming that you didn't get your period by then.

Today I had my first pre-natal consultation with my OB. I broke the news to her that my urine test this morning turned out positive, and of course she was excited (a LOT more excited than the both of us combined, actually) to hear of our success.

After all the congratulatory remarks, she immediately got down to business, prescribing me a bunch of medicine to take, to ensure the health of the embryo:
  • Folart (continue taking this) - folic acid to protect the fetus against any neural defects
  • Obimin Plus - multivitamins + minerals + DHA + EPA, pre- and post- natal supplements (contains fish oil)
  • Calciumade - calcium supplement, because drinking milk will be fattening
  • Utrogestan - progesterone suppository capsules to help the embryo stick to the uterine walls
  • Isoxilan - uterine relaxants to lessen the abdominal cramps I've been having (early pregnancy symptoms?)

Also, the dreaded dietary restrictions were given to me:
  • No caffeine (coffee, iced tea, cola)
  • No hair treatments (hair coloring, perm, straightening)
  • No whitening products; use SPF with caution (eye and lip make-up is fine, but stay away from face products)
  • No raw foods (sushi, sashimi); wash and prepare your own salad (preferably organic)
  • No preserved foods (canned goods, cured meat, processed food)

As for tests, I was required to get the following lab works for Week 5:
  • Blood Typing with RH Typing (waived since I already know mine)
  • CBC (i.e. Complete Blood Count) - blood test that checks for anemia, etc.
  • Urinalysis - urine test that checks for infections in the urine
  • 75 gms OGTT (i.e. Glucose Tolerance Test 2-Hour with 8-10 hrs fasting) - tests for prediabetes
  • HBsAG (i.e. Hepatitis B Surface Antigen) - blood test that checks for Hepatitis B infection
  • Anti-HBS - (i.e. Anti-Hepatitis B Surface Antibody) - blood test that checks for succesful response to the Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Rubella IgG - blood test that checks for immunity against rubella
  • Vit D3 OH (i.e. 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D), blood test that checks for Vitamin D deficiency
  • RPR (Qualitative) (i.e. Qualitative Rapid Plasma Reagin) - blood test that checks for syphilis

Finally, the OB scheduled a trans-vaginal ultrasound for next week and consultation on that same day. That will be the first time I will be able to (hopefully) see my baby. Hoping that I won't do a Rachel Green, and panic because I couldn't see the baby in the screen, hahaha.

Oh, one last pahabol. Here are the symptoms I felt during Week 5:
  • Soreness of breasts. For those who experience this as PMS (i.e. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome), the feeling is pretty much the same, with slightly higher intensity. I've pretty much grown accustomed to the sensation; to the point that I only notice it when changing my clothes.
  • Intermittent abdominal cramps. Again, this symptom is similar to what we usually experience during PMS. This one made me worry a bit, because I don't want this symptom to cause me to have my period. This is why OB prescribed Isoxilan. Internet also suggests avoiding green papaya.
  • Slight improvement of acne. This must be because of the hormone pills I've been taking, but I'm noticing that I no longer get cystic acne on my neck and jawline. Acne scars haven't been subsiding, though.

Week 6: New pregnancy symptoms and first ultrasound.

Alas, more uncomfortable sensations are coming in:
  • Soreness of breasts? Still there.
  • Intermittent abdominal cramps? Pretty much subsided, yay.
  • Slight improvement of acne? Still getting whiteheads and little zits, but still no more cystic pimples.
  • Frequently hungry. I feel hunger pangs every three hours or so. Pre-pregnancy, I am able to ignore these hunger pangs or satiate it by drinking water, but now I just HAVE to eat because I start to get dizzy and faint when I don't. Must learn to distribute my day's worth of food properly as not to gain weight. OB says that I'm only allowed to gain 20lbs of pregnancy weight.
  • Morning sickness. I've recently been starting to feel queasy in the mornings, but the full-blown effect of this symptoms come at night, usually after dinner. For no reason at all, I have this sudden urge to vomit, accompanied by motion sickness-like sensations. So far, I am able to keep it down until the symptom passes. I don't want to throw up what I have consumed, because that would include the pre-natal vitamins and other medicine that I just drank. Forget my last statement as I already threw up most of my dinner during Week 6 Day 3. I was about to sleep when I felt this terrible sensation in my stomach, like a mix of kabag and diarrhea. I went to the bathroom and tried to poop, got a few out, but eventually ended up retching my dinner and bile. I hated it.
  • Constipation. Perhaps it is because I was munching on bananas and apple to satiate my hunger, but it is now a challenge to regularly poop in the morning. Must change my diet to include high fiber foods.
  • Feeling feverish. I've only felt this a couple of times, but apparently because of my hormones going haywire, I would sometimes feel like I'm coming down with something even if my body temperature is normal.

As for the test results, most came up normal, except for these two:
  • Urinalysis showed a slight trace of UTI, which my OB related to reduced fluid intake. I need to hydrate myself more.
  • Vit D3 OH showed that I have Vitamin D3 deficiency, probably because I don't get the needed recommendation of sunlight. Rather than risk myself to skin cancer, OB prescribed more supplements for me.

And now, proof that I have a thing growing inside of me... ta-dah!

Say "cheese," baby!

That little protruding bump inside the hole (i.e. yolk sac) is the baby (i.e. fetal pole)... I hope I got the names right. The size is barely of a pea, but at Week 6, we were able to see a heart beating. OB says the heartbeat is still slow and is expected to quicken within two weeks. Thus, I am scheduled for another ultrasound on Week 8.

A closer look.

Another thing to note is that the ovary where I ovulated from (i.e. the left ovary) showed a "normal" state, meaning that it isn't polycystic anymore. My right ovary, however, still showed some polycystic qualities.

All in all, I am happy to report that I am having a normal pregnancy so far. OB says that I can already announce it to the world (at the moment only our families and closest friends know) i.e. social media, but we're thinking to keep things mum until we finish the first trimester... that's about Week 12.

I'm only halfway there.

Week 7: Almost no symptoms--is this good or bad?

Things are pretty much quiet this week. I only had one major throw-up after a dinner of pakbet, but other than that, nada.
  • Soreness of breasts? Already dulled in intensity.
  • Intermittent abdominal cramps? Almost none.
  • Slight improvement of acne? Emphasis on slight.
  • Frequently hungry. An individual pack of crackers can keep me going for half a day.
  • Morning sickness. None; only this one time after dinner.
  • Constipation. Back to regular programming, with the help of pears and brown rice.
  • Feeling feverish. Almost none.

There was no spotting or intense abdominal pain, but this observable lack of pregnancy symptoms is starting to make me worry. Is my baby ok? Is it healthy?

My second ultrasound is coming up on Week 8 Day 4; only then I will know the situation of my little one. Until then, all I can do is pray.

Week 8: Second ultrasound--not so good news

Fetal heartbeat went down to 101 bpm, which is not a good sign as per OB. OB advised that I get bed rest for one week and have a follow-up ultrasound on Week 9.

At 8 Weeks, Fetal Heart Rate should be at least 160 bpm--101 bpm is WAY below the floor limit.

101 bpm was the "best captured" fetal heart rate, as previous captures showed heart rates in the mid-90's. OB reassured us that we aren't at fault for the baby's condition, because if it is stress or poor maternal health, I should be experiencing spotting or bleeding, which I haven't. Hoping that the bed rest improves the heart rate of the baby.

Subchorionic hemorrhage also appears, near the yolk sac. 

Another detail found in this week's ultrasound is some kind of bleeding near the embryo's sac. Since I wasn't experiencing any kind of spotting or bleeding, there is no cause for concern for now.

Crown-to-rump measurement of the embryo shows that its growth is on track.

Symptoms check: Maybe perhaps it is because I have nothing else to do for the duration of the week but to rest in bed, but I feel that my symptoms are getting stronger--at least for the evening nausea part. I now have strong aversions to food with strong odors, even the ones that I cooked myself. And almost everyday, after dinner, I'm having this wave of nausea just before going to sleep.

Week 9: Inevitably, we lost the baby

But first, I want to commend Dr. Comia, head of Women's Health Care Department in St. Luke's Medical Center Global City. Granted that the ultrasound result is an ominous one, so many details were discovered which weren't seen before.

Most surprising of which: I was supposedly carrying twins.

(Dr. Comia is a guy, BTW. At first, I wasn't sure if I'm okay with being examined by a male doctor, but since he's the head of the department, I decided to take advantage of the expertise.)

Twin A was the embryo we were monitoring all along, which died four days after my Week 8 ultrasound.

The subchorionic hemorrhage that was found in last week's ultrasound was actually a gestational sac from a "twin," which unfortunately did not develop into an embryo. I believe the clinical term is a blighted ovum, wherein the egg was fertilized by a sperm which resulted in a gestational sac, albeit an empty one. Blighted ovum is one of the causes of missed miscarriage. 

Twin B is an empty sac, which stopped developing at Week 6 Day 6.

Needless to say, the thing that we feared most happened. There was no heartbeat found during that ultrasound. Poor thing was starting to look human, but its heart gave way. Dr. Comia even showed a close-up of the heart, which has bloated from its normal size.

Weak fetal heartbeat almost always attributes to chromosomal abnormality. Right from conception, may mali na. All things considered, I believe that this is for the best, for it to end inside the womb, and not have the baby suffer a sickly life.

Ultrasound was not able to capture a beating heart.

A blood clot is also starting to form between the uterus and the sac, indicative that miscarriage is on the way.

After showing the ultrasound results to the OB, she did a quick internal examination to check if my cervix has opened or not (it has not), and then advised me to wait for two weeks to try to naturally induce bleeding, During this period, I am free to go back to "normal" activities, i.e. exercise, eat canned goods, preservatives, and raw food, and drink caffeinated beverages. In short, lahat ng bawal pwede na gawin. I guess as means of telling the body to expel the baby?

But if I wasn't able to completely miscarriage within the said period, then I would have to undergo D&C. More on that if that time comes. I much rather focus on naturally inducing the bleeding for now.

Hopefully this means that I can induce the bleeding naturally, and not to resort to D&C.

Another thing to note is that my left ovary is polycystic again. Welcome back, PCOS. :(

Currently I have availed the 60-day SSS Maternity Leave benefit, in hopes of safely completing the miscarriage, and to fully recover in time to try again.

Final picture of the little one. Thank you for sharing your life with us. :)

What next?

Of course, at the soonest possible time, we would like to try again. But I guess, for the time being, we have to ensure that we are the healthiest versions of ourselves. Hopefully by then, we can produce a fully-functioning human being. Tuloy ang laban!

Apologies to those who misunderstood my Part I as a successful pregnancy. Well, yeah, technically I DID get pregnant, but... didn't end well.  Regardless, our heartfelt thanks for all the prayers and kind words offered our way. :)

4 comments:

  1. Im sure dadating din sa tamang time. Praying for you guys. Stay strong and find strength from one another.

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  2. Tuloy ang Laban! God has plans for both of you.

    Please give time to rest and after 3-6 months, attempt ulet.

    Do it the natural way, no meds. Your body will tell you if you are fertile or not. If your temperature is not the usual. Attempt agad! Pero make sure your husband is well rested. It takes two to tango. A healthy baby is also a healthy sperm.




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    Replies
    1. Thanks! :) Hopefully next time I blog about my pregnancy, it will be a positive one. :)

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