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It's a loss

I had an appointment with an OB last Friday. They did an ultrasound in the office, and very quickly confirmed it was a miscarriage. The baby had not grown at all and there was still no heartbeat. I cried. I didn't think I would, I thought I was expecting it, I thought I had already processed this enough. But there came the tears. My sister was with me and she cried, too. It was finally final, and that hurt.

The doctor explained my options: take a pill to induce miscarriage, have a D&C, or wait until my body took care of it. The OB I saw was pretty obviously opposed to the pill. She stated frankly that she had seen too many people end up in the ER from the pill, so I quickly ruled that out. I spent the weekend debating the other options. It was such a hard decision. I wanted there to be a third choice: go back in time and make none of this real. How could I choose between one terrible option and another?

In the end, I played a game with myself. I pretended that I had no choice and that I had to wait for my body to do it, and I realized I felt scared and anxious. Then I pretended I had no choice and had to have the D&C, and I realized I felt a kind of relief. I decided to listen to my gut. On Monday I called to schedule the procedure.

Unfortunately, not even that could be simple. I was scheduled for Wednesday, and the doctor doing surgeries that day had a different opinion about the pill than the one I saw Friday. The nurse told me her instructions were to take the pill the night before and morning of the procedure to facilitate the process. I said I was not comfortable with that, so the nurse was going to talk to the doctor and see if I could decline. I knew that if she said no, I would need to reschedule with a different doctor. I chose the D&C to avoid the pill, to avoid excessive pain and other unpleasantness. Now I'm instructed to take it anyway?

I didn't get an answer until 4:45 Tuesday. The nurse said the doctor "Would like me to take the pill blah blah, but she would respect my decision if I declined." I declined. 

I won't go into details about the procedure. But I'll say this: it was even less of a big deal than I had been told. The worst part was by far the IV. I hadn't even considered the IV. I used to be terrified of needles, but I've had so many pokes in the last few years, it didn't worry me. But I wasn't allowed to drink for 10 hours before, so I was very dehydrated. It took four attempts, three different people, and about 30 minutes to successfully place an IV. I was holding it together just fine until the IV debacle. That made me nauseous, light headed, teary. I was overwhelmed by everything happening - people kept coming in to introduce themselves, explain their role, ask me questions, all while I'm trying not to have a break down.

Eventually Trevor, the nurse anesthetist, got an IV in. He became my hero. He was so kind, he treated me like a person going through something real, and he was genuine. I was thankful for Trevor. I was grateful he'd be in the OR with me. 

Shortly after they got the IV in, they were rolling me down the hall. In the OR, I thought there would be some fanfare. Some sort of, "We're getting ready to get started Shannon. We're going to start the anesthesia and you'll fall asleep quickly." But I was in there about one minute while the medical staff carried on small talk about Trevor's kids and I counted the lights on the ceiling, and one second later I was waking up in the post-op room. It was like nothing. I couldn't believe how nothing it was.

I'm glad it's over. I took the rest of the week off to recover physically and emotionally. I need this time off, this time away. I know it will take more than a few days to move on from this. I know I'll never forget, it will always be part of my story. But I'm ready to accept what happened and start to heal.

Regarding the physical part, I had so many questions and concerns about a D&C. I won't be detailed here, but if you're reading and you're wondering what to expect, please feel free to contact me. I'll share all the details. If you're contemplating or facing a D&C, I think it'll help to know what to expect. And if you need someone to ask, I'm here with an answer.


Another loss?

The first time we sat in the radiology waiting room, we were filled with hope. Maybe a little apprehension, but mostly excited anticipation. The second time, a week later, we knew were there to confirm the bad news we suspected.

Three pregnancies so far. Only one baby. I'm indescribably thankful for my Mo right now. As broken hearted as I feel, it is nothing compared to the last time a pregnancy failed. I look at her and I know she's all I need. If she is all there ever is, it's enough. She, of course, is blissfully ignorant. And thank god. We had started to talk about a baby brother or sister. We mentioned a few times that she was going to be a big sister. But at 20 months, that is essentially meaningless. And so is the fact that it has now all changed. We don't have to try to explain it to her, and that is one of the silver linings to this situation.

In late spring, when Mike found a job to end his temporary unemployment, we stopped preventing a pregnancy. We had decided if I got pregnant in the next six months, that would make for a good age gap between Mo and her younger sibling. We knew it likely wouldn't happen right away - it took us over a year, some Clomid, and one ectopic pregnancy before we conceived and had a healthy pregnancy last time. But we had also heard that a lot of people, even when they struggle greatly with their pregnancy, have a very easy time of it the second time around. We were hoepful.

At the end of August, we got a positive test. We were not casual about conceiving. After a month of "not preventing" we got serious. I learned last time that timing is everything, so I used ovulation predictors and kept track of everything. That it took us only a few months is a) a great blessing, and b) not entirely by luck.

I took a test two days before my missed period because I suspected I might be pregnant. I had been having some abdominal pressure I recognized from my pregnancy with Mo. I took two tests, the cheap kind you buy on Amazon. Both had a faint line, but I wasn't convinced. It was early morning, but I drove immediately to Walgreens and bought a Clear Blue early detection kit. Within a couple minutes, it popped up "Pregnant," and I cheered.

It was very early. I was only four weeks. I told my immediate family because we tell each other everything. We also told a few people in Mike's family, and a couple friends. I asked my doctor for an ultrasound because my first pregnancy was ectopic. I wanted to be sure everything was in the right place. She had me wait until I was 7 weeks to be sure there would be something to see, so when I was 7 weeks 2 days pregnant, Mike and I went to see our baby. Right before we went in, I whispered to Mike, "I'm nervous." I know how often these things don't go well, so I was nervous, but mostly hopeful. 

The tech told me before doing anything that she may not see much with an abdominal ultrasound, and she didn't. So she did a vaginal scan. She pulled the monitor where we couldn't see it, and she looked around for a very long time. She said very little, but I had an overwhelming sense that something was not right. Mike rubbed my arm the whole time - I think he sensed it too.

Eventually, she said, very casually, "Sorry it's taking so long. The baby is so small I can't see it well. Only 2.2 millimeters!" I knew that meant bad news. I had just read on my Babycenter app that the baby was the size of a blueberry. A blueberry is bigger than 2.2 millimeters. I said, "That's smaller than expected right?" and she simply said, "It doesn't line up with the data you gave us."

Meaning maybe I conceived later than I thought. Maybe I had the date of my last mentrual cycle wrong. But I didn't. I kept track of it all, I wasn't wrong. The tech can't really say anything, so I didn't ask anymore questions. I took the photos she printed (while saying, "Congratulations!") and we left.

Mike had to stop in the restroom on the way out, so I stood in the hall holding my purse, my coat, two water bottles and my ultrasound photos. And I cried. I couldn't stop the tears. Nobody had to tell me anything. I knew what was going on and I knew it wouldn't end well. I cried big ugly tears, and I had no free hands to wipe them away. 

When Mike came out we walked quietly to the car. We had driven separately, so we sat in his car for awhile and decided what to do next. I knew I couldn't go back to work, but I didn't want to go home and face his mom (who was watching Mo) either. I couldn't talk about it yet. So he went home and I sat in my car for half an hour crying. Heaving, sobbing, painful crying.

I wanted this pregnancy to be different. My pregnancy with Mo was so wracked with worry and guilt. I had been through a lot, I knew so many people struggling with conception, and half way through my pregnancy my best friend delivered her baby far too early and lost him a few days later. Every day I worried about what could happen. Every day I felt guilty for having a healthy pregnancy. I wanted this time to be different. I knew bad things could happen, but I didn't want to focus on that. I wanted to be able to talk about being pregnant without following it up with, "As long as things work out."

I know it's irrational, but I feel like I jinxed this pregnancy by not worrying enough. If I do get pregnant again, I'm going to worry the crap out of it.

The day after the ultrasound, I had a blood test, and another one three days later. My hcg levels rose, but not nearly enough. That means something is developing, but it's not a healthy pregnancy. I had another ultrasound last week Thursday, a week after the first. I knew I wouldn't see anything promising, but I was ready for confirmation of what I knew. Instead, the scan was inconclusive. There was no heartbeat (though she did see some "heart movement" that turned out to be a blood vessel outside the uterus), and the baby was now two weeks too small. But the radiologist wouldn't say for sure, suspecting that maybe I had my dates wrong.

My dates aren't wrong.

But hoping for some closure, I did another blood test the next day. Surely my hcg levels would have dropped and we can decide what to do next. Except they didn't. They rose. But only very slightly. My doctor wanted another ultrasound, but I said no, not yet. I couldn't go through that again. So instead this past Tuesday I had another blood test, and my hcg levels rose again. Again though, barely. Finally my GP admitted defeat. She suggested another ultrasound, but I asked to see an OB. I just want someone to tell me what is inevitable. So Friday I have an ultrasound at the OB's office, and I'll see the doctor right away.

I don't believe this is a viable pregnany. There is no baby at the end of this, yet they can't conclusively say I'm miscarrying yet. But how long can this drag on? Do I have to wait until my body takes care of it? That could be weeks yet. At some point can they say it's not good, even if my levels are rising slowly? I don't know, but I need to be able to move on.


Mo - Twenty months

Mo is amazing right now. Isn't that true of every stage? Probably, but right now I get so much joy out of just having her around. She's so full of innocent happiness and cheer! She loves people, loves when people come to visit her. She shrieks and dances and spins in circles when someone comes over or when Mike or I get home from work. 

Mo picked out her outfit

She picked out her own outfit.

When I dropped her off at daycare recently, she followed me to the door as I was leaving. The door has a full-length window and she stood there watching me, waving good bye. But not longingly, not crying. She was laughing and smiling and waving, and eventually turned away to go play with her friends. It made me so happy.

She still loves to climb on everything. Everything! Enough said.

Mo climbing into pool

A few weeks ago at swim class, Mo slipped and split her chin. It was kind of chaotic because there incident reports to fill out and we were both dripping wet and she was crying and bleeding. The staff kept asking if she should go to the ER, but I didn't think it was necessary. It stopped bleeding quickly and was easily contained with a band aid. But several weeks later it's still not fully healed, and I wonder if I made the wrong decision. It doesn't bother her anymore, and hasn't bothered her outside of that first 20 minutes, but still. It sucks to wonder if my mom instincts were off.

Mo bandaid chin swim class

She also fell out of her crib for the first time recently. She was home with her grandma, down for a nap, and she climbed right over the edge and crashed to the floor. She wasn't hurt, just startled, but we moved her mattress down as far as it would go. When do most people transition to a toddler bed? Mo is so all over the place at night. Even with a side rail, she would for sure fall out! When does that change? Or when does it stop mattering?

Mo in crib

Mo loves to climb the stairs and insists on using the railing. She can crawl up and down herself or easily climb up or down holding one hand. But she prefers to hold the railing, which actually makes things a bit more difficult. She likes to get kisses to make things better. If she falls, she'll shove her hands in my face and make a kiss sound. Kiss it better mama.


She's obsessed with watermelon (wyo) and asks for it all the time. She loves to eat in general. Daycare told me that she makes the sign for eating all day long. Girl loves to snack!


Mo corn on the cob

She still loves to read. And we've been doing some songs together. She doesn't really sing along, but she likes the motions. Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake, Skidamarinky Dinky Dink, Head and Shoulders, and one we learned at swim class where you do ducky wings. She LOVES that one! If she's upset and I start singing it, she immediately smiles and makes ducky wings.

Mo's hair after pig tails

Crazy hair after pig tails.

Mo's vocabulary is slowly growing. She is still not as verbal as many other kids her age, but she's a great communicator. For instance, she hasn't learned to say "more" but she knows the word "two" and knows t'hat it means more than one. If she wants more of something or wants to do something again, she says "two." She is also really good at showing us what she wants. She will grab our hands and put something in them to let us know she wants to do that activity, for instance. Someone told me that their child's vocabulary exploded between 20 and 24 months, so maybe Mo's will too, but for now I actually kind of love that she's not growing up too fast!

Mo looking up

Poor baby has been waking up with nightmares lately. She wakes up in the middle of the night crying or screaming out of nowhere. I pull her out of her crib and often she doesn't recognize me right away. I hold her and tell her she's safe, but she remains agitated for a bit before she relaxes into my arms. Eventually I suggest going back to bed and she immediately cries again, I guess because she's scared of what happened in there. After enough time she does let me lay her down, but it's sad. I can't imagine what she's dreaming about to make her so scared.


Mo on swing at cottage

She should always be full of smiles. No more nightmares!

Around Labor Day I took two days off work and enjoyed an extra long weekend. I tried to get in as many fun summer activities as I could before summer is gone. Despite our best efforts, there are just not enough weekends available, so I'm glad to have plenty of PTO at work so I could spend some extra time with Mo. We went to breakfast one day, followed by story time. Another day we went to a wild animal park.

Mo with giraffe

And over the weekend, we we all (Mike included) went to Chicago for a night. We visited the Lincoln Park Zoo and Millenium Park, and walked around the city a bit. 

family photo in chicago

Mo at the bean

Lincoln Park Zoo

The day after Labor Day, I took Mo to a nature center.

Blandford 2014

The next weekend we finally went to the beach on Lake Michigan. It was a cool, windy day, but we were determined to hang at the beach. Mo even went in the water! And we spent the afternoon at the park.

Mo at the park

Grand Haven beach 2014

It has been a fun summer. Now that it's over, I feel like we're going full speed ahead into her second birthday. Wasn't it just yesterday we were celebrating her first? I mean we've already started researching preschool options. How is this happening?

Mo being so adorable!


Mo - 19 Months

At 19 months, Mo is 23 pounds and 32.5 inches. She's long and lean, in a higher percentile for height than weight. We visited the doctor twice in a week recently. When we got home from camping, she had a diaper rash we just could not get rid of. Eventually I figured it was a yeast rash, so I called and I needed to go in for a diagnosis, so we went. That was a week before her 18(.75) month appointment, of course. Luckily, other than the rash, everything was ship shape! That's a blessing every time.

We started swim classes a couple weeks ago. Her obsession with water and insistance she knows how to swim needed some structure. The funny thing is that she doesn't love swim class. She just wants to swim and splash around, she doesn't want to do all the things they're trying to teach us. She believes she can swim already, and doesn't understand the value of learning how to float or reach for the wall or safely climb in and out. It's fun though!

Mo swim class

Mo knows her name and calls herself Muh. I can't tell you how overwhelmingly adorable it is. She plays itsy bitsy spider and patty cake. She can count to two. She's obsessed with shoes. Every time we walk into an echoey room (garage, public bathroom) she say "woo woo woo!" to hear her voice bounce around.

We may have a writer on our hands, or an artist. Mo loves nothing more than to have a pen and a paper and to scribble away. The other day at the doctor's office I was given a clipboard with a pen and a form to fill out. She was sure that was meant for her, and when I wouldn't let her express herself all over it, she was mighty upset. Sometimes when she's having a tough time, she'll grab whatever paper and writing utensil she can find and just scribble. We call it art therapy or say "write out your feelings honey." Unfortunately, her expressions aren't quite limited to paper. She's learning, but we still find little drawings on furniture, clothing, skin. So far no real damage though, and I love that she likes to draw.

Mo drawing

I love how trippy she is. She's always falling. She loves to spin and twirl until she's dizzy and tumbles over. Recently she tripped at the top of a small hill and barrel rolled down. I couldn't stop laughing and every time I picture it I giggle. Same thing when I imagine the time she ran full speed into the laundry basket and flipped inside head first. It's one of my favorite visuals of her.

Mo playing with her garden

It has gotten easier to bring her to daycare. When we first brought her back after the unemployment hiatus, she struggled a bit. She cried when I dropped her off and I hated it. But now, as soon as we walk in she makes the sign for eat because she knows breakfast is first on the agenda. She lets me put her down or hand her to someone without a tear or a struggle. It makes me happy to see her happy there.

Mo piano

In July we went camping. I was nervous about how that would work with a toddler, but it was amazingly painless. Mo slept like an angel for naps and night time. She only once put up a (weak) fight, and she hardly stirred when we came to bed after her. The hardest part was creating boundaries. A campground doesn't have walls and Mo likes to explore, so we found three things worked: 1) Just suck it up and follow her around every step. We'd take turns doing this when we weren't trying to accomplish other things. 2) Hang out in the tent or camper for awhile. Between our whole family there were three tents and two campers, so we'd mix it up to give her a change of scenery within closed walls. Sometimes we'd just hang out in one of the cars. 3) Craft-finement. That's what we called the play yard we set up with a little table and chairs inside. We gave them (Mo and her cousin Will) chalk and paper and crayons and some toys. I wasn't sure that would actually work, but they spent a surprisingly amount of time playing quietly in there. It was a tiring weekend, but overall, I was pleased with how it went.


At her check up, Mo was 23 pounds and 32.5 inches. They measured her on the "big kid" scale - theone you stand on - rather than the baby scale for the first time. They measured her height while standing, rather than her length while laying, for the first time, too. My baby is a kid!

Mo watermelon



Mo - 18 months (holy crap, a year and a half!)

A year and a half ago yesterday, my baby girl was born. I knew it would go fast, but damn, it goes FAST! It wasn't long ago I was cuddling a tiny, helpless infant, and now I'm trying to get an active, rambunctious toddler to slow down long enough to give me a kiss. 

Actually, the last few weeks, Mo has been pretty clingy. In June, I went on a work trip and left her for four nights, the longest I've ever been away from her. The very next week Mike started a new job and Mo went back to daycare. I think those things must have happened at an important stage for developing trust because now I think she never quite trusts that I'm not leaving her. She wants to be carried a lot, and if I put her down even for a few seconds, she cries. Not just whines or whimpers, but cries real tears. If I walk out of the room without her, she panics. I do love that she loves me so much, and much of the time I'm happy to just hold her and hang out with her, but sometimes I need to be productive and that's hard to do with 25 pounds of toddler in my arms.

Mama and Mo snuggles

Overall she's doing well at daycare though. After a series of ups and downs and changing circumstances, we ended up at the same place we left when Mike lost his job. I thought, even after three months, that she might remember it, but if she did, she didn't show it. That first day, she acted like I was leaving her with complete strangers. She has gotten better with each drop off, but it definitely goes smoother when Mike does it. I don't think she fully trusts me to come back when I drop her off. However, as you'd expect, they tell me she is fine moments after I leave and does well all day long. Plus, Mike's mom retired at the beginning of the month, and we are very blessed that she wants to watch Mo two days a week. It saves us a little money and gives Mo some one-on-one attention during the week.

Mo pretty eyes

Mo has also become obsessed with her stuffed animals. She has always loved her loveys, two in particular, but lately she has really attached herself to them. Puppy and Kitty. They are a pair, we call them PuppyKitty, one word, and they go everywhere with her. She sleeps with PuppyKitty and carries them down with her in the morning. We've drawn the line at taking them to daycare, and we try not to let them out of the house lest they get lost, but otherwise she tries to go about her life with two stuffed animals in her arms. And often, she brings along some of their friends. She'll try to climb the stairs (which she still needs her hands for) with an armful of animals, or drink her water or get a book off the shelf. I love that about her.

Mo and all her stuffed animals

We are still nursing. When I think back to how hard it was when we first tried breastfeeding, I never would have imagined I'd still be doing it 18 months later. But it works for us and there hasn't been a reason to stop, so we haven't. Typically, she nurses when we wake up and again when I get home from work. Twice a day. And only if she asks for it. Sometimes she'll be busy or distracted and not ask for "milk" (using the sign) and we don't do it. If she asks outside of our usual routine, I tell her no. I explain it's not milk time, and that if she's hungry she can have a snack, and if she's thirsty she can have water. I will say, though, that because we're still breastfeeding, she has no interest in cow's milk. Like, at all. She gets lots of nutrients from breastfeeding though, and plenty of healthy fats in her food, so it's not a concern. Speaking of her diet, she is not the great eater she once was. She's not terrible by any means, but she used to LOVE all kinds of fruits and veggies, and now she's mostly interested in crackers, cereal, yogurt and cheese. And bananas. Oh the bananas. The other day I actually had to google "is my toddler eating too many bananas" because she will easily eat 3 or 4 a day. I got mixed results from google, but I decided it's just a phase so let her have the damn bananas. She drinks a lot of water and gets fiber in her grains, so constipation has not been a problem. And as long as that's not all she's eating, it's not worth worrying about.


Mo eating banana

We've started introducing Mo to the toilet. We're by no means potty training, but we have introduced some of the language. Where do you go potty? Toilet! Where is the toilet? And she can show you. We let her sit on it sometimes and talk about why she's there. There have been no...results yet. But that's not the goal right now. I think what will work for us is a progressive potty training rather than quick and dirty, so this is phase one I guess: start talking about it.

Mo is so long and lean. We talk about how she's gone through two major transformations in her short life. She started as a small newborn with dark hair and eyes, and transformed into a round baby with fuzzy blond hair and huge blue eyes. And recently she's transformed into a long and lean toddler with blond curls. Because Mike is tall and (somewhat) slender, we sort of assumed Mo would get some of that height. She didn't show it for the first year, but now she's starting to resemble her dad more. Her torso is so long that some of her 18 month shirts are too short, yet her hips are so narrow that some of her 12 month pants are still too large around the waist. It's an interesting phase.

Mo climbing on couch

We've been doing some fun things this summer. We took Mo to her first baseball game. She only made it through a few innings, but she enjoyed the crowd and ate an ice cream cone before Mike took her home. (I stayed at the game with the friend who had gotten us free tickets.)

Mo's first Whitecaps game

We've gone to my grandparent's cottage on a lake a few times where she gets to play in the sand and go for boat rides. On those days, we usually skip a nap or push it waaay back, and she is still always happy and well-behaved. 

Mo on a boat

This past weekend we spent the weekend at my mom's "cabbage." It's on a small lake, and even though the weather wasn't gorgeous, we had a great time. Mo is obsessed with my mom, so I got a break from carrying her around every second (though I'm sure my mom's arms are tired!). She got to fish with Gamma, chase her dogs, explore their property, splash around in mud puddles. It was such a fun weekend for a kid.


This summer, even though we didn't open our pool, Mo has had a few opportunities to swim. Turns out, she is fearless! Girl legitimately has no idea that she doesn't know how to swim on her own. She fights to get free of us, not because she wants to get out but because she wants to be untethered. The other day we were at our neighbor's pool, and Mike handed her out of the water to me. I put her down and reached for a towel, and in that microsecond, she tried to climb over the ledge to jump back in the pool. When I pulled her back, she screeched with frustration. We've tried dunking her and letting her go so she can see what happens, but she just smiles and tries to escape again. I think we need to get her in swim lessons so she can learn how to respect water, and maybe learn some survival skills just in case she ever manages to break away and actually jump in, god forbid.

Mama and Momo swimming

So that's it. We made it to a year and a half. I still think every day about how lucky I am to have her. I reflect on the rocky path it took to get to the moment I held her in my arms, and how blessedly smooth our path has been since she was born. I don't care that she's a thousand inches tall and weighs nearly four times as much as she did at birth, she's still my baby.

Mo's big goose egg - bump on the head!

(Oh yeah, did I mention she falls alot? This is her latest goose egg.)

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