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Earlier this week I wrote a quick post to share my gratitude for TriCare. In that article I briefly mentioned the trials that I’ve gone through while pregnant. It’s so important for those who’re ready to speak about their difficulties in pregnancy to do so. When I started down this path not many people spoke about their losses and it’s so easy to feel alone. That’s why it’s so important for me to share my story.
I found out that I was pregnant for the first time in May 2013. It wasn’t a planned pregnancy. My husband and I’d just gotten married the month before and I think we got pregnant on our wedding night. We moved to Washington in early May and still in a hotel when I took the pregnancy test. It scared me. Any thoughts of parenthood were far into the future. As the pregnancy progressed those feelings changed. I began to dream about what our little family would look like and I fell in love with the idea.
I Never Expected to Lose a Pregnancy
The afternoon of June 5 started out pretty like any other day. Or as normally as any military family in the middle of a permanent change of station. We were in our new home surrounded by boxes and I didn’t even know where my plates were. The cramping started while looking for a cereal bowl. I’d never experienced pain like that. My husband came home to me laying on the floor of our bathroom. He rushed me to the emergency room where they confirmed our worst fears. I’d lost the pregnancy.
The following weeks were a blur of craziness. My husband took amazing care of me, but I don’t think he was prepared for my emotional anguish. There were still so many boxes to unpack and we found out he’d deploy overseas in a week.
Milspouse Life Left Me to Cope on My Own
I had a doctor’s appointment the day after he left. I wasn’t expelling everything that I needed to on my own and needed to have a D&C. I was in a city 3000 miles from home where I knew no one and it wasn’t possible for a loved one to get to me in time for the same day surgery. I didn’t have anyone to drive me home so I took a taxi. All this time my husband didn’t even know what happened. He was on flights that stopped somewhere in Kuwait and then on into Afghanistan. I didn’t hear from him for 3 more days.
While I was lonely over that deployment, it did give me a chance to heal my mental and physical states. I also knew that when my husband came home that I wanted to try again. My doctors assured me that it was possible for me to have a healthy pregnancy. They told me that 1/5 of pregnancies end in miscarriage and that statistic is higher for first time moms.
Ready to Try Again
At that time Steve served in a unit that was on a tough training schedule. He was gone for weeks at a time and after 6 months “at home” he’d deploy again. It was important to us for him to be with me when I delivered so we only tried during months that would guarantee his presence at the birth. Luckily we got pregnant right away. Steve left when I was 11 weeks and he came back when I was 36 weeks, just in time for the birth.
Joseph Ray was born in late September and he’s been an absolute joy since the day we brought him home. Words can’t ever express the gratitude we felt after a healthy and normal pregnancy and delivery.
Our family moved from Washington to Georgia when Joe was about 9 months old. That was also the same time that we started thinking about having another one. It didn’t cross our minds that we’d encounter more difficulties.
Just before Joe’s first birthday I found out I was pregnant again. I was over the moon. We were in Georgia for my husband to complete a military training school so I knew that he’d be able to be with me every step of the way with this pregnancy.
A Great Doctor Can Help More Than Just Physically
Yet again, that excitement ended. This time I made it to my first ultrasound, so excited to see my little peanut. The ultrasound tech began taking measurements and then became quiet. She excused herself and came back in with our doctor, Dr. Gonzaga. She remains the best OB/GYN that we’ve ever had and I highly suggest using her if you’re ever stationed at Fort Benning and have TriCare Select. As soon as I saw her face I knew that something was wrong. She broke the news to me while holding little Joseph, our peanut had no heartbeat. If their measurements were correct, I lost the baby a few weeks prior. She sent me home and told me that if I didn’t start to pass material within 48 hours I needed another D&C. I had surgery later that week.
After waiting the recommended amount of time we tried again. And again, we got pregnant almost immediately. I was more cautious this time. I didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, I was scared that I would manage to jinx it in some way. Again, I made it to my first ultrasound only to be told that there was no heartbeat. Again, I needed another surgery.
Dr. Gonzaga began testing me for markers of genetic disorders that could cause my miscarriages. Unfortunately, we moved to Kentucky within a few weeks of the miscarriage. So it was on to a new OB. While he was competent, he was nowhere near as kind, conscientious, or thorough as Dr. G. There was zero continuity of care. I’d sent in all my previous records and brought a second copy with me to my first appointment and he basically dismissed them.
Constant Moves Ruins Continuity of Care
Conventional medical wisdom is that one doesn’t have “recurrent miscarriage” until they’ve experienced 3 consecutive miscarriages. Since I had Joe in between the first 2 losses, I didn’t count. As such, he didn’t do much of a work up on me. I’m not saying he was a bad doctor… he just forced me to start all over again and at this point I was terrified of being pregnant though I wanted more kids.
So we tried again. This time it took a little while to get pregnant. That threw us off a bit. Even though it’s totally normal for it to take months to get pregnant, it wasn’t what we’d previously experienced and at this point we read into everything. After a few months we scored.
Be Your Own Patient Advocate
I called the OB and was told that they wouldn’t see me until I was 10 weeks pregnant for a dating ultrasound. That left me in a total state of panic. I couldn’t imagine sitting in another ultrasound and not hearing a heartbeat. So I decided to be my own patient advocate. I marched into that office and demanded to an appointment. After a lot of run around and me threatening to barge into the back of the office to confront the doctor, I had an appointment the next day.
I put on my sweetest personality the next day, hoping to combat the batsh*t crazy that i threw all over the place. Amazingly, the doctor seemed as disconnected as ever. Thank goodness I had done my research. So I began to make demands. I demanded blood draws to track my beta levels to make sure the pregnancy progressed properly. I requested a prescription for progesterone suppositories and asked whether low dose aspirin could help. Basically, I brought up everything I could think of. And he agreed to all of it. He said nothing I asked for was harmful if unnecessary so why not try. He also sent me to a maternal fetal medicine specialist for closer care and weekly ultrasounds.
It was a wake up moment for me. With the constant moves and new doctors I needed to advocate for myself. With no continuity of care so much falls through the cracks.
Making it Out of the First Trimester Isn’t a Guarantee
Thank goodness I did. When I went to maternal fetal medicine some irregularities were found on the ultrasound. I had a subchorionic hematoma between the placenta and uterine wall. It prevented my placenta from fully attaching. This had the potential to limit the nutrients the placenta delivered to my baby. There was also a risk of hemorrhage that could cause a placental abruption. I went on bed rest with fetal monitoring for the first 6 months of the pregnancy. They finally let me off of bed rest when the clot absorbed. And not a second too soon because my husband deployed around that time and I needed to go back to being Joseph’s primary caregiver.
Robert James made his debut in late February and absolutely stole my heart. I wish my husband was with me, but he was able to be in the room via Facebook Video Messenger. They met when Robbie was about 3 months old and I don’t think my cup has been more full than in that moment.
After Robbie we began to consider whether or not our family was complete. With the difficult pregnancy and the previous losses it didn’t seem smart to put our family through all of that again. And yet… we wanted just one more.
We Just Weren’t Done
During the deployment we moved our family onto the military installation so that I could have quick access to a support system especially given the fact that I was in the middle of a difficult pregnancy. Moving onto the installation also meant a new OB. This time I went in as soon as the strip turned pink. While they were ok with seeing me, cool with checking my beta levels, the doctor didn’t see any reason to put me on progesterone even though my history indicated that it could help me.
Guess what? I lost that pregnancy. Is it 100% because I didn’t take the suppositories… who knows. But I’ll always wonder. Steve and I took it as a sign. Maybe we should be happy with our two little blessings and stop trying for more.
So that’s what we did. We decided to move on. The universe had other plans for us, though. As a complete surprise to us, I was pregnant… again. This time when I mentioned progesterone the doctor prescribed it to me.
Gratitude Is Keeping Me Going
This pregnancy is difficult, but I’m still pregnant. I developed another hematoma which puts the integrity of the placenta at risk. Just last week I woke up with an intense concentrated pain in my belly. Come to find out, my placenta has partially detached. My little guy gets all the nutrients he needs but it’s back to bed rest for this momma. Since I’m so far along the partial abruption kick started early labor. It looks like this little guy wants to add his bit of drama to my pregnancy story.
This time it really is it. Steve will head down the vasectomy path. I’m stressed, I’m tired, and I’m not getting any younger. I’m glad that I never had to worry about the financial obligation associated with medical care thanks to TriCare. I’m so grateful for the constant love and support my husband provides for me. I’ve had some difficult times dealing with what I assumed to be my own inadequacies. Most of all I’m grateful that I get to hear the pitter patter of little feet and demands for hugs.