Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Special Moment

I had a special moment today...

For the past 5 months, I've taught the 4-year-old children at church. Today was my last day. As we were doing 'singing time', the little girl next to me leaned over and rested her head on my arm. She then placed her hand on my belly and rubbed it a little and asked,

"What is that? Is this your baby?"

"Yes, I have a baby in there."

"Is it a boy or a girl?"

"It's a little girl."

"My mommy showed me a picture of your baby on the computer...
(An ultrasound picture off Facebook, most likely)
She is so pretty."

That moment was just so sweet and tender, I wanted to remember it forever. For a woman who wondered for years if I would ever have a child, words can't say how touching that moment was.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm a Work in Progress

Early this morning, I read a blog post from my friend, Sarah. She was talking about her “spare room” and the longing she has to turn it into a nursery. Her words really resonated with me. I, too, have a spare room. It started about 7 years ago when I insisted we rent a 2 bedroom apartment, so we would have room for a baby. When we bought our house nearly 5 years ago, it had 3 bedrooms. We made one our bedroom, one a music room and threw everything else we didn’t know what to do with into the 3rd bedroom. We even called it the “3rd bedroom”.

As the years went by, I began to wonder if it would always be just the “3rd bedroom”. Part of me wanted to change it into something else, but the other part couldn’t bear to do it. So it just sat.

When I became pregnant this time around, I told Ryan I was going to jump in right away and get to work on that room. But I haven’t. Because there is so much to buy, I thought I would start making purchases immediately. But I haven’t. I am 5 ½ months pregnant and I haven’t even begun to clean out the bedroom closet. I’ve bought one thing for the nursery (the baby monitor). That’s it. I’ve had the time and energy to do it. But I haven’t.

I kept giving myself deadlines… I’ll start cleaning when the morning sickness is better. I’ll buy something with my next paycheck. When I find out the gender. When I confirm the gender. When Ryan and I have days off together. New deadlines I never meet.

Why is that? I am beyond excited. What is my problem then? After reading Sarah’s post today I realized… I’m scared. For so long I wondered if I would ever have a baby’s room. I stopped imagining what it would look like. I stopped thinking how I’d decorate it. I pushed it out of my mind and pretended that room didn’t exist.

Now that the time is here when I can finally create my child’s bedroom, I feel intimidated. Scared. Unrealistically afraid that in doing so, I will ‘jinx’ myself. If I let myself be too excited and carefree, it will hurt more if all of this is taken away. Every item I buy and every decoration I make would be one more reminder of what we’ve lost if we were to lose her.

I am starting to wonder if I need some help in dealing with these emotions. It’s like I have a mild form of PTSD or something. I have to make a concerted effort not to visualize the bad things that could happen. I won’t go into detail, but I would like this to get better.

Just writing it out has been helpful, as jumbled as this blog post may be. I think I need to face my anxiety, have some faith and jump in with both feet. It is a disservice to those 7 years of infertility, and all the other women still waiting, if I don’t enjoy this to the fullest. And my daughter deserves a mom who isn’t paralyzed by fear.

I took a big step and chose the colors for the room, and I have some ideas of what I’d like to do. My next goal is to clean out the closet within one week. Baby steps…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Room Colors

After weeks of searching, I think I have found the fabric I want to use for Katelyn's room. I don't think it is possible to express how big of a deal it is that I finally made a decision. I don't plan to have a "theme" so much; just fabric prints and colors I love, kind of eclectic, where every item is something special chosen just for her.

Our crib and dresser are dark espresso-stained wood. My mom offered to make the crib blanket out of the chosen fabrics. We're planning on a neutral wall color and drapes, with touches of color around the room. Some of the special things we are planning are: refinish and distress Ryan's childhood rocking chair and rocking horse, homemade decor for the walls, a special 'vintage' looking handmade doll, and other little odds and ends picked out by mom.

I am not a decorator. Not even close. I'm not artistic or very creative. Even so, this is something I really want to do for my little girl. I want this to be my gift to her, which is why I agonize over every little decision (while still loving every minute of it). I have no idea how this all will turn out, but at least we'll have fun in the process!

In the meantime, here is my starting point, the fabrics I have chosen for the room:
They don't look quite the same on the computer as they do in person, but it gives the idea.

(I haven't actually ordered these yet. As I was just about to order, I hesitated and decided to wait until after our next ultrasound, just to have a secondary confirmation that this is Katelyn growing in my belly. I've had another couple dreams about having a little boy, and I just want to be as sure as possible before pulling out the debit card. ;) I feel pretty confident this is her, I'm just being a bit cautious. Aren't I always???)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Relax

I absolutely *hated* this phrase when we were struggling with infertility. It is blaming, condescending, demoralizing, not to mention not factually based and no help at all!

But now I am telling myself these 2 words because in this instance they will actually do me some good.

I am taking a deep breath and trusting my baby to grow as she should, and trusting my body to help her do that.

I woke up this morning and listened to Katelyn's heartbeat. In true Carter-fashion, her heart was beating perfectly, just in time for our doctor's appointment. The little stinker. ;) It was a relief to hear it sounding so nice, but now I wondered how this appointment would go.

Of course, a couple hours later, it continued to beat beautifully as the Nurse G took a listen.

Just in case, Nurse G also took a peak with the ultrasound machine. She was surprised as Katelyn’s heart instantly came into view, a perfectly clear picture of all four chambers. Nurse G remarked that she hardly ever saw the four chambers of the heart so clearly on their ratty old machine. But there they were, beating and pumping away with a textbook rhythmic motion.

I asked Nurse G to listen to a recording of what Katelyn’s heart sounded like on Tuesday, with the missing beats. She did, but told me she couldn’t diagnose or give me much feedback on it. She said Katelyn must have been moving and that’s why I was losing heartbeats. I remain highly skeptical because I have heard the difference between losing heartbeats from movement and what I was hearing this time... but, I digress.

The next step in this process would be a fetal echo cardiogram. This would be done at Children’s Hospital. She asked if I wanted to take this next step. I told her not at this time. Instead, I’m going to “just relax”. And here’s why:
  • If a problem was discovered, they would not do anything while in utero. They would wait until Katelyn was born and then assess the issues at that time, if there were any. In other words, “There is nothing they can do for her now".

  • I will have several more check-ups and ultrasounds prior to delivery. As Katelyn grows, we could see any potential issues much more clearly. There isn’t any reason to think an irregular heartbeat will hurt her growth or delay her in any way at this point.

  • In another month or so, she will be too big to flip around in my uterus as much as she is now. Thus, if the heartbeat is still skipping, it could no longer be dismissed as “losing the heartbeat due to movement”.

  • In her ultrasound today, she was punching both hands and kicking both feet. Nurse G said that indicates she has good circulation to all her extremities and the blood is flowing well. If one side was limp, it would hint at a problem.

  • From what I’ve read on the internet (which we all know is the best place to get factual information – haha), most all of these cases resolve themselves on their own, with no explanation for the irregularity. There is no reason to think this will be any different.

  • Katelyn is an incredibly active baby. According to Nurse G, that is the number one indicator that the baby is healthy and thriving. It would be more productive to count kicks and monitor activity daily than to listen to the rate of her heartbeat.

  • The biggest reason I’ve decided to “just relax”? On Tuesday night, my husband gave me a priesthood blessing that has brought me a lot of comfort and peace. I am ready to try and let it go.
As I have said from the beginning, I am not closed off to the idea that it could be machine error or Katelyn’s movement causing her heart to sound differently. I may have my own gut feelings, but I am the first to admit I have a lot of fear and anxiety, just like any new mom, especially because of the long road we've traveled to get here.

So for now, I am concentrating on those beautiful little baby kicks, and I am putting the doppler away. I am so blessed in so many ways… and I am thankful for an active baby who will nudge her mama periodically and tell her to “just relax”.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Appleseed’s Due Date

In September 2010 we lost our little Appleseed, our first pregnancy. At some point, during the bliss of the positive pregnancy results, I had googled my due date. I knew it wasn’t ‘official’ until the doctor confirmed it, so I didn’t pay much attention to the specific date other than to note it was right near Mother’s Day.

How perfect, I thought. After 7 years of waiting (exactly), I find out we’re expecting on our anniversary with a due date near Mother’s Day. Life couldn’t be better.

A week or so later, the world came crashing down, and that date I googled became a distant memory.

On Mother’s Day, I thought about our Appleseed. I wondered what that day would have been like if he or she had made it. Would I have a brand new baby? Or would I be waddling along, praying for labor to begin?

There were a few friends and a couple acquaintances that became pregnant at the same time I did. Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen their birth announcements, new baby pictures, etc. I think about our Appleseed and it makes me sad and wistful. He or she would have been here by now too, right? I wasn’t sure.

I didn’t want to know Appleseed’s due date prior to that day. I can’t explain why. But as I watched my last friend give birth to her May baby, I figured it was time. Last night, I again googled my due date: May 12th, last Thursday.

I am so grateful to have Katelyn at this time in my life. She does not replace our Appleseed, just like she doesn’t take away the pain of losing Andie. I love all my babies. But it is such a comfort to have Katelyn with me, to touch my belly and know that one of my babies is still here and, Lord willing, I will be able to mother her in person in only 4 more months.


Update on Katelyn's heartbeat: It is still skipping beats, although sometimes more frequently than others. I was able to get an appointment with Nurse G tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Katelyn's Heartbeat

I guess I didn't find the cause of Katelyn's irregular heartbeat after all. It has returned. Bummer. :( Just as Dr. M instructed, I called and asked to come in. Again, I got the run around. It is so frustrating to have a wonderful doctor who tells you to contact him, and then deal with his staff who makes that almost impossible.

So most of today has consisted of waiting. Watching for the phone to ring and waiting...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thank You

I just wanted to say thank you for the sweet comments on my post, A Message. I was not expecting such an outpouring of support. It really touched my heart. Thank you.

20 Weeks - Half-way there

My 20 week mark was a bit of an adventure.

The night before I hit 20 weeks, I listened to Katelyn's heartbeat with my home doppler for the first time in about a week. I noticed it sounded like her heart was periodically skipping a beat. I thought it was because she was moving around so much and maybe I was hearing it wrong.

The next morning, I listened again, and she was definitely skipping beats. Other times it seemed the beats were too close together or her heart rate got a little bit faster then slower.

I read online that heart arrhythmias happen to a small percentage of babies, and rarely indicates a serious problem, but I still felt a bit nervous. I did what Dr. M always told me to do if there were any changes or I felt concerned, I called his office.

A couple hours later, his assistant returned my call. Dr. M was out of the office that day. She tried to tell me I’m not really hearing a missing heartbeat, that my machine is just malfunctioning. (Well, I’m sorry, but I have the exact same machine you use.) She said that maybe I am just hearing my own heartbeat, or that I’m just not hearing it right. (I’m not an idiot. I’ve been listening to my baby’s heartbeat for almost 3 months now. I know when it’s different. It’s one thing to tell me an irregular heartbeat is not a problem; I was expecting to hear that. But don’t try to dismiss what I know I am hearing.)

Then she says they can’t see me until next Friday. So I ask her, “Just *assume* my baby’s heartbeat is irregular, is that something to be concerned about?” and she says it is, because it can indicate a problem. So why not believe me then and check it out sooner??? Honestly, I expected them to call and say don’t worry about it. I did not expect them to not believe me. Ryan is the last person in the world to overreact about something or make a big deal and the minute he heard Katelyn's heartbeat he said, “That’s not right”. He still wasn’t super concerned, but even he knew right away it was different.

She said she'd try to find an earlier appointment for me and would call me back. I cried for about an hour. It's an awful feeling to believe something might be wrong, but have no one believe you.

Luckily, Dr. M called me back instead of his assistant. I didn't hear the call, so he left me a voicemail. He said that abnormal heartbeats usually appear around mid-20 weeks of your pregnancy, and since I’m only 20 weeks, that’s why they were thinking it might be the machine. But he said he trusts what I hear, so if I am feeling really worried about it, he wanted me to go to Labor and Delivery and have them check it out since he was out of the office on family business. Otherwise, I should call Monday morning and they’ll get me in Monday or Tuesday. It was just nice to hear someone validate what I *knew* I was hearing (and Ryan heard, and my mom heard - via a phone call…).

I did not go to L&D. Instead, I did some research. I saw a few explanations regarding why Katelyn's heartbeat would be irregular. One was dehydration and another was caffeine. I drank a caffeinated soda the day before because I was having one of my migraines. Although I had done that before without any ill effects, I still I wondered about it. Just in case, I began drinking a ton of water.

I also found an interesting study... it linked cocoa butter to fetal heart arrhythmias. While there was some debate on the topic, there were conclusive findings that the use of this product caused some babies to have an irregular heartbeat, most likely due to the absorption of caffeine through the skin. Another group of doctors found that simply having the cocoa butter product on your skin can cause false doppler readings, making the heartbeat appear to be irregular. All very interesting.

After my ultrasound the previous Thursday (where Katelyn's heartbeat was regular and normal), I began using cocoa butter all over my mid-section. I had been using it for a week when I listened to her heartbeat again and found it irregular. I am very sensitive to caffeine. Could it be that my little girl is the same way?

I immediately washed the cocoa butter off my skin and continued flushing my system with water. Within 12 hours, her heartbeat sounded a bit better. 24 hours later, there were no more skipped heartbeats, but it still wasn't quite normal. As of tonight, she seems to be back on schedule.

I know that this incident could have been caused by anything. It could have been a fluke or maybe the nurse was right and my machine was acting up. As much as I hate to think something I was doing was causing the arrhythmia, I still can't help wondering if the caffeine had something to do with it. Regardless, I am relieved that she seems to be doing better. And the cocoa butter is put away for good.

Somewhere in the midst of all this chaos, Ryan snapped a 20 week pic. I know I fought the idea of doing regular 'belly pics' at first, but I have to admit, I am loving watching this belly grow each month.

And a few new things about pregnancy... My body feels like an old woman's if I get up after sitting too long, it's hard to stand on my right leg because of a weird tendon that is constantly feels 'pulled', Katelyn is doing less popcorn movements and more kicks, my feet swelled up for the first time, I am tired but have a feeling I will never sleep through the night again, and I am loving it all.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Message

After a comment and a couple emails, I have something I need to say...

I apologize if my pregnancy posts hurts anyone in any way. That thought torments me with every picture I post or pregnancy tidbit I share. In real life, on Facebook, and here. I have posted, deleted, re-posted and edited the heck out of each one, trying to make it okay. Some people find hope in what I write, but other people don't. Either way, I have to record this journey. I recorded the years and years of heartache and disappointment... every harsh detail. The purpose of this blog was to write my story to share with my children someday (see my sidebar: "Purpose of this blog"). That has to include the miracle that has found its way into our life.

I wish for all women who desire children to have their dreams to come true. For several years, I watched friend after friend (in real life and blog-friends) with infertility finally realize their dream, while I kept waiting. I did not begrudge them. Seeing their pregnancies hurt though, and I fully recognize that feeling. I hate to make anyone feel sadness or pain.

Reading through my posts since the pregnancy, one can see that infertility is still with me, still part of my every day existence. I have not forgotten where I once was, and I never will. Although with this blessing there is a huge guilt that follows me, I know that I will continue to support, love and lift up those who are struggling. And in the end, that's all I can do.

If you are no longer able to read my blog, that is okay. There are no hard feelings. My hope is that you can find those places which are most supportive and helpful to you, and if I'm not one of them anymore, I completely understand. Just know you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I have a huge amount of love for you and compassion for the trial that you bear right now.

Beanie has a Name!

On May 5, 2000, my high school sweetheart anxiously waited for me to get home from work. I was a server at the local Mimi's Cafe and my shift ended quite late. When I got home to my parents' house, he was waiting for me. Still in my uniform, he guided me up a ladder and onto the roof, where he soon proposed.

On May 5, 2011, I held the hand of that same sweetheart as we walked into the perinatologist's office for our second trimester ultrasound. That day would be the day when we learned the identity of our first child... the child we wanted for a very long time... our miracle baby.

Boy or girl? Jack or Katelyn? Who would be joining us in September?

The ultrasound tech was cautious to make a declaration. She wanted to be really sure. Soon she mentioned she thought she knew, and she told us. A huge smile spread across both our faces. The tech kept looking and soon confirmed it again. Finally, she stated, "If it were me, I'd paint the nursery." She seemed pretty convinced.

As we all know, ultrasounds are not 100% accurate. We will be looking to our 3D ultrasound in about a month to confirm. In the meantime, we are over the moon and can not wait to meet this baby...


Katelyn Marie Carter

Her name is very special. We have known our first daughter's name for over a decade now. My mother's name is Kathy. My mother, sister and I all have the middle name Lyn (or Lynn). Ryan's mother's middle name is Marie and his grandma Nanny's middle name is Marie as well. Lots of women are represented in our daughter's name.

We loved watching our little girl on the big ultrasound screen. Here are some highlights...

We call her our little "ball baby". She likes to be curled up in a tiny ball. In several of the pics, her knees are practically touching her nose! The tech said she’s going to like to be swaddled. I am glad she is snuggled in tight.

What a wonderful day that was! And what exciting news. But we kept the secret until Mother's Day. I didn't get to tell my parents we were pregnant in the way I had planned, so I settled for an in-person reveal of baby's gender.

I bought a pink picture frame that read, "It's a Girl!", placed an ultrasound picture inside and wrapped it up. After church on Sunday, we went to my parents' house. On the way, we called Ryan's mom, step-mom and grandma and told them about Katelyn. When we got to my parents', most of my family was there waiting. My mom unwrapped the picture frame and delightful chaos ensued.

After 7 Mother's Days full of heartache and tears, what a wonderful memory has been added now. This will be the day we told our family about Katelyn.

I still struggle to find another word for grateful, as that one is just not good enough...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day - Do you know the secret?

Do you know the true origin of Mother's Day?

I do.

I read it last night.

This was not a day to celebrate mothers, as noble a cause as that is.

This day was started in 1870 by women who had lost their sons in the Civil War.

Mother's Day was started by bereaved mothers.

It was a a peaceful call to action for women to protect children everywhere. The real feelings of this day started with pain, loss and grief. The *mothers* were honoring their *children*, and each other.

Now we have the 'Mother's Day' we all know. Somewhere in all the celebration, women who are enduring the original feelings of this holiday... pain, loss grief... are pushed aside by many and told that mothers 'deserve to be honored because they work so hard', while their turn to be recognized has to wait until someone calls them "mom", if that day ever comes.

I acknowledge this day for everything it has become, but also for everything it originally was. The women who started this tradition would not want me to simply prop myself up on pillows and wait for my breakfast in bed. They would also want me to seek out and remember those who are bereaved. Those women suffering the loss of a child (born on earth or in utero). Women grieving the loss of their mother. Women walking through the darkness that is the loss of babies they will never know. That 'reaching out' is what this day was all about.

Today, I honor my mom, my sister, my nieces, my friends, any woman who fulfills the original call to reach out to each other and protect a child. I remember those for whom this day is difficult, and I lift them up. Because that, my friends, is what Mother's Day is really all about.

"I will celebrate with you, if you first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mother's Day!"

Friday, May 6, 2011


I met with the neurologist. The wait was long... the appointment was long... I joked on my Facebook that the neurologist was really busy, so there must be a lot of people in my town who need their head examined... har har. (Joking helps relieve my anxiety.)

The neurologist was nice, but he is the typical "scientist"... Interrupting, mumbling to himself, shoving papers in front of me to read/complete, kind-of a confusing experience. One moment he'd make me feel better ("It does seem like these are simply migraine auras...") and the next he'd say something frighting ("however, these symptoms put you at a high risk of stroke, especially being pregnant and all."). It was a total roller coaster. After my appointment, I read reviews about him on the internet and they scared me (pushes pills, orders unnecessary tests, etc). I'm not sure I would recommend him...

I refused the MRI, but he did talk me into 2 tests (as of now - I haven't 100% decided to go through with them). One is the EEG (records my brain waves) and the other a blood test (to assess my propensity for stroke). I was worried about the EEG until he told me it simply records the brain waves, there are no x-rays used, and they even perform this test on small babies so it should be okay.

The tests are most likely expensive and I'm not sure the point. I am pretty convinced these are migraine auras and there's not much you can do about those. I don't want to take any medications, especially while pregnant. Not to mention I have to fast 12 hours before one test and get only 3 hours of sleep the night before the other one. Hmmm... sounds a bit rough as right now the things my body wants most are sleep and food! :)

It remains to be seen where this goes from here. I feel like I am handling the "episodes" okay. I am sure Beanie isn't hurt by what's going on. It was a little unnerving talking about medications and testing, all while feeling baby jumping and rolling around in my belly. The whole experience was a bit too much to handle and I had a tiny breakdown in the bathroom afterward. But I pulled myself together, got some lunch and went to work. All is well now.

Where I go from here though, I don't know. Do I just do the tests? Do I refuse it all? Maybe do the blood test, but not the EEG? Perhaps put everything on hold to see if the auras go away after the pregnancy? Ask Dr. M for a referral to a different neurologist? I just don't know...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm Pregnant

"Well, I'm pregnant."
"We're expecting a baby."
"We'll be adding to our family soon."

Why are these words so difficult to say?

My tummy is big enough now that someone who knows me can tell I'm pregnant.

In the last week or so, I have had several client meetings. In those meetings, clients have asked leading questions like, "So... anything new and exciting going on?" They are opening up the dialogue for me to share my obvious news (that's becoming more obvious as the days pass).

One client asked me this question 3 times. Even so, I still found myself unable to tell her my news. She must have thought I was crazy, or worse, that I wasn't happy to be in this position.

I always thought if I ever became pregnant, I'd be screaming it from the rooftops. And I am screaming it inside. I am the happiest I've been in my life. It's all I talk about with Ryan. I *love* to discuss it with people. But I just can't "announce" it. At least not out loud. I can't say those words.

Almost everyone who I told personally that we were pregnant found out via email or text message. My parents learned by phone. It wasn't until the announcements were over that I realized I didn't actually look anyone in the eyes and tell them I was pregnant. At least not that I can remember.

What is wrong with me? How can someone SO happy and SO grateful be SO unable to say those words out loud? It really bothers me.

I am wondering if I spent so long thinking I may never be here, I didn't allow myself to even imagine how it would be. For 7 years, I avoided the word "pregnant". Saying it out loud now makes it real, and I am too scared to believe it's real... I'm afraid if I say it, I'm going to lose it.

How long will this last? And how do I change it?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Today's Appointment

Today was my monthly OB appointment. Typically, we switch from Dr. M to Nurse R and back again. This month, I saw Dr. M.

For the most part, it went great. I have finally started gaining weight. I gained 1 pound in the 1st trimester, but I am rapidly catching up. :-/ I gained 5 pounds in 4 weeks! So I am up a total of 6 pounds so far. It may seem weird to share my weight, but it holds me accountable. I am trying to keep it reasonable and I think I'm doing okay so far.

The appointment was very quick. We listened to Beanie's heartbeat, which was beautiful. Dr. M answered a few of my questions. I learned my UTI is resolved and the reason I feel like I still have it is because I need to drink even more water, and because this little Bean is moving around so much it is giving me the 'urge' all the time! Pregnancy makes you have to pee in more ways than I realized. ;)

The scary part of the appointment was when we talked about the migraine auras I've been having. Dr. M is concerned about them, particularly because I've had so many in a short period of time. He left the exam room mid-appointment to schedule me with the neurologist. The neurologist typically has a wait of several weeks, but they rushed me in, offering me an appointment at 7am tomorrow. That time doesn't work, so I will be going Friday.

When he came back, he shocked me a bit, telling me he will still let me drive "for now" but suggesting I not drive long distances. It all felt a lot more serious than I initially thought. I felt like I was handling it fine, but I guess it's good to check it out. In the meantime, I'm just supposed to get a lot of rest.

My biggest fear is that they'll make me undergo tests or take medicine that might affect Beanie. The word "neurologist" scares me (I had migraine auras as a child and spent a lot of time with neurologists, including being misdiagnosed as epileptic for a while - all very frightening for a child). But I am just trying to relax and trust that it will all work out for the best.

On the bright side, I made my appointment for 3D Ultrasound #1. We'll get to see our baby's cute little face for the first time on June 14th!