The year 2004 had brought our third miscarriage in three years. It felt like we'd been through so much, but we had no idea what was still to come. Our fourth pregnancy would be one of the most difficult and darkest times we would face. (And I'm sure this post will be a long one as there are a lot more details about this pregnancy. Thanks in advance for sticking with me.)
While we had begun some initial testing, it was at this point that we realized it was time to really investigate what might be going wrong. The first step was exploratory surgery, which we scheduled with our specialist on November 12. During the hysteroscopy, the doctor could not see both of my fallopian tubes at the same time with the scope, suggesting that my uterus had a different shape or an obstruction.
The next step was an MRI and and IVP test, which we scheduled for December 2. The tests came back showing the better of the two scenarios that the doctor suspected -- I had a septum (like a wall) dividing my uterus. She told us it's a congenital deformity and that it was likely to be the cause of my miscarriages, considering it can create concave areas in the uterus, making it difficult for a baby to grow. The really good news was that it could be corrected with outpatient surgery.
I wasn't excited about hearing that news, but it definitely gave us something to hold on to. This could be the answer! Maybe we finally had a REASON, medically speaking. We started 2005 with a renewed hope and on January 21, just a few days before my 28th birthday, I had surgery to remove the uterine septum. The doctor also looked for endometriosis, which she didn't find. We felt like we were in good shape to start trying again after some time to heal. I didn't have a regular cycle until March, and then I decided to have my wisdom teeth pulled in April. After all of that was done we were ready.
The positive pregnancy test came on June 9, 2005. It was the start of a roller coaster of emotions, with the biggest ups and downs we had experienced yet. I had still been using the progesterone and following the routine that I explained in my last post, so on day 30 I took a home test. It was negative. It was my fourth time around, though, and I had a feeling otherwise. Four days later I took another one. Positive. I went that same day for blood work. HCG 1266 and progesterone 41. Great news, they said. Things looked promising.
We went in for the first ultrasound on June 20 but saw only a gestational sac. This did not devastate us. We still felt very positive and thought we needed to give it some more time. When we saw the doctor that day, though, we were surprised (unpleasantly so) to discover two things: first, our regular doctor was gone. She wasn't working there anymore and we did not like this new doctor. Second, the new doctor (whose bedside manner was lacking all sensitivity) abruptly told us that the sac looked too large and the numbers were too high. She didn't think the pregnancy would last.
Folks, I don't need a doctor to coddle me or try to make me think things are okay when they're not. But her delivery was awful. I had more blood drawn and we left feeling frustrated, confused, and lost. We had a real connection with the other doctor and she was gone. We went there that day thinking our baby was okay and left thinking we'd lost another one. The news came that night: my HCG and progesterone were still looking very good. We scheduled another ultrasound. In the meantime, we decided to try calling our other doctor, the one who had left. We felt funny about calling her at home but we were so unsettled and didn't know where else to turn. She answered, and she was totally great about it. Even better, she told us she had moved to an office in Houston and that we could follow her there if it was what we wanted. It was.
We kept the ultrasound appointment that we'd already made (June 27), and we went in praying that we would see a yolk sac this time. We did! We were relieved... until Dr Doom came in to tell us again that it wasn't going to work. I know that a big part of the anger and frustration we felt at that time was out of sheer denial, or refusal to accept more bad news. We weren't doubting the doctor's ability to do her job, but we couldn't understand why she did not seem willing to let us have an ounce of hope. Things WERE progressing, and until they weren't, we were going to have some HOPE. After some persuading, she agreed to do another ultrasound in two weeks.
July 11 finally arrived. We had prayed our hearts out. We'd even decided to tell our church family this time so they could be praying with us. And after all that hoping and all that praying, there it was: a heartbeat. Our baby looked amazing. There was the little head, the body, and the arm and leg buds! The baby was measuring 8 weeks, 2 days, and even the doubting doctor seemed surprised. She said that aside from a bit of a fast heart rate, the baby looked fine. Today as I write this eight years later, I'm looking at the cherished ultrasound pictures, paperclipped in my journal, of that sweet little baby. He was our dream come true. Our hearts were so full of love for that miracle.
After that visit, we made the decision to make our next appointment with the doctor with whom we felt more comfortable. Even if the news was going to be bad, we preferred to hear it from her. We informed the doctor and had our records transferred to the new office. A week later, on July 18, we made the hour-long drive to the see our old doctor. We were excited to have the ultrasound and get another look at our growing baby. And the baby HAD grown, measuring 9 weeks. And there were the chambers of the heart... but the heart wasn't beating. We saw it as plainly as she did. Our doctor was surprised. We were shocked. It had been only a week -- just 7 days -- since we'd seen the heartbeat, and our baby had died.
After we talked to the doctor for a little while, she checked again just to be sure of what we saw. I appreciate that she did that for us, but we knew it was over. It felt like she was giving us a moment to say goodbye as we took one last long look at the screen. She asked me if we wanted her to print a picture and I said yes. I have that picture here with me now, too, that last precious image of our baby. He looks perfect to me, even though I know his heart wasn't beating and his soul was in heaven. It breaks my heart to see it, but I'm grateful to have it.
Every loss is hard. This one was particularly hard for us. We felt more heartbroken than ever. There had been so much hope and so many prayers -- so many of them answered in those 9 weeks. We were learning to trust a God who loves us and cares about us, and who sees the bigger picture and knows all of the answers to our questions.
I'm thankful that we got to spend as much time carrying this child as we did. We got to see him on an ultrasound screen more times than we had with any other pregnancy. We watched him grow and saw that flickering heartbeat, reassuring us that he was here and he was real. He had lived longer than any of our other babies had to date. And I'm thankful that we got to stick with a doctor who was sensitive and considerate of our needs during that time. On the day of the D&C, she invited us to her office to do a final ultrasound so we could be certain. Again, I know she did that just for us. There was no lingering look this time, and she did that for our benefit, too. Even though I know he'd already gone to heaven by then, we said goodbye to our fourth baby on July 22, 2005.
We've named our second son Adam Louis.
Adam is a name I've come to love in recent years. I considered it for Anna if she'd been a boy. The last name Adams is a family name on my mom's side. Louis is my husband's middle name, and had been his paternal grandfather's middle name as well. Of course I love having a son named after both of them, and I also really like that Louis is a French name. It reflects our heritage and is part of our home state, Louisiana's, name, too. Louis means "famous warrior," and we certainly felt that our little guy was a fighter. Our Adam Louis's name was chosen with lots of love and from a long line of family names from both sides of our family.
Your daddy and I are so grateful for the time we got to spend with you. We never got to hold you, but we knew you and loved you so much while we prayed and hoped for you for nine weeks. Thank you for giving us that hope and for teaching us to keep holding on, no matter what. You were worth it! We love you and can't wait to see you again one day.