Thursday, April 19, 2012

Negative = Positive

The last week I've been enjoying some time off from work on a 2-week vacation which has included time spent in the Shenandoah Valley, Washington D.C., and bumming around at home. I've decided I need to do this more often. Between having a PTO freeze the last few years at work and working to bank up my time so that I can use it for a maternity leave, I've pretty much maxed out my PTO savings potential. So, in order for me not to lose it, I need to use it. I plan on taking some more time off this summer!

The nice thing about being away is that it not only gave me a break from work, but also gave me the opportunity to think about something else besides feeling sorry for myself because of the ectopic pregnancy. I think the thought crossed my mind maybe two times the whole trip after seeing some moms with babies. Now, that's not to say I was not reminded about my situation every day, however. I had horrible cramps and heavier bleeding for the majority of the trip (how romantic!). I was not sure if the bleeding was truly a period or some sort of reactivation of my molar-infected cells eating away at the insides of my uterus and fallopian tubes (yes, my imagination is quite vivid). I had to throw this issue on Jesus multiple times so that I would not go crazy.

The second to last day of our trip I noticed a significant decrease in the bleeding. The last day it was the same thing. I was hopeful that perhaps this was nearing the end of over 55+ consecutive days of some form of vaginal bleeding. Once we got home, I had to go in for another blood draw. I was unsure what the results would be considering my disappointment from the last time and the analysis I had done in a previous post. You can imagine my surprise when my results came back at...

2.1! (a 99.4% drop!)

Anything <5.0 is considered negative, which to me is actually positive because this means:
  • I'm officially no longer "pregnant"
  • No more needle sticks
  • I only have one more cycle to wait before I can try again
I think I'm in shock. I don't really know how to feel right now except grateful! Thank you all who have kept Dave and I in your prayers!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Music is the audible manifestation of emotion, the form of which is most easily consumed by the spirit. No translation or interface needed. Music + feeling = absolute comprehension on behalf of the soul.

I love the gift of music! Music helps you live life. No matter what you're going through, good or bad, there is a song to accompany you through it! (if you see a pun, none intended) I have a page solely dedicated to music on this site. My hope is that people can be encouraged through these songs in the middle of their difficult time. I've often used them as prayers.

When I first started experiencing bleeding with this pregnancy, I started my own music therapy plan. My mind can go down a really dark path if I don't keep it reigned in, so for the first 2 weeks I would just listen to praise & worship music. I wanted to fill my soul with the Great I AM and praise Him for who He is:

Awesome. Mighty. Holy. Powerful. Loving. Good. Just. Savior. Comforter. Healer. Everlasting. Long-suffering. Creator. Righteous. Merciful. Gracious.

When I am weak, He is strong. The music helped me rest in His strength.

My sister just recently introduced me to a song. In addition to this song becoming a current favorite of mine (and always running through my head), I've been inspired by the mission of the artist who wrote/performs it. Her name is Beckah Shae and she desires to make music with a positive message that is contextualized to our pop culture. Click here to read her story.

Anyway, when I first heard this song my imagination got the best of me. I immediately pictured myself in the ambiance of a heavenly night club (oxymoron?) where the music gradually enveloped me and I began to dance. My spirit was dancing alone, yet in the midst of many others. Translucent, sparkling rainbows of energy spiraled around me and whisked my hair. I could feel the freedom of weightlessness and freedom from the sorrow of this broken world as I danced uninhibited.

Back to reality.

I stink at dancing. Still, one my next to-do's is to start playing this song really loud in my living room and just start moving around in ways that I think are cool (even though, had I a mirror, I would humbly be met with the sad truth). I will get out of breath. I will be clutzy. But there is something poetic about that as well. It's being physical, being alive. It's loving the moment.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Trends and Forecasts

I had another blood draw today. It came back at 330. Not real crazy about this because it didn't even drop by 50% this time. It is still a downward trend, though and, typically, the closer to zero you get, the less percentage drop between draws.

The past few days I've had heavy cramping and increased bleeding/clots. I was hoping that it was because my blood levels were getting so low that my body is finally getting back to normal. Guess not. Not really sure what it means. The not knowing is what drives you nuts because you don't know  if what you're experiencing is okay or if you should be concerned. They always give you the same answer: if you are soaking an entire pad every 1-2 hours, that is too much. Well, it's not that much, but what is normal? I wish they would do studies and document it so that woman could gauge their symptoms across general trends in women instead of having to call the on-call residents who sound annoyed that they were interrupted for such stupid questions.

So, let's think about the numbers and get some hypotheticals.

If all I have is a 27% drop each week from now on, it will take 14 weeks to get down to negative. That puts us in the middle of July 2012. I'm assuming that I will not start to have a real period until these HCGs go negative, so give myself a week or two to start after that. Then I have to have 2 periods before trying to conceive. The soonest I could potentially conceive would be beginning of September 2012. Considering it typically happens within 3 months for me, the more likely date would be mid to late November 2012. Now, lets assume this pregnancy actually takes and is not a complete disaster. That puts me having my first kid in late August 2013. I would be 29 1/2 years old.

Let's be more positive about this now and assume this was just an off week. If I have a 50% drop each week from now on, it will take 7 weeks to get to negative, which is around the end of May 2012. Give me a couple weeks for a period to start and then add another cycle, the soonest I could start trying to conceive would be late July 2012. Again, if it takes 3 months like usual, we're looking at late June 2013 before a little Kuck comes around.

Again, this is all assuming somewhat of a happy path (though the ultimate happy path is that in the next two weeks this blood draw thing is over...). It could take 6 months to conceive. I could have a few miscarriages along the way. Who in their right mind knows?

So, I guess we have at least another year of paying down the house aggressively. If I'm good, maybe I can chop off 50% of our remaining balance by the time a baby is born. I wish I got paid more! As much as I like paying down my house so that I can reach the Dave Ramsey baby step 7 "Build Wealth & Give", I would much rather have a child. I knew I shouldn't have told God that if He helped us get rid of our mortgage, I'd give back to His service! He took me way too seriously! (Seriously, though. That is one of my life goals to give to others in need. I've been the recipient of so much generosity, I would like to bless others in the same way!).

Final thought: my husband and I never fully agreed on how many kids we wanted to have. He wanted 2 or 3 and I wanted 4 or 5. I've told him since all this started a few years ago that for every year we are married without children, I get to have a kid. We are up to 5!

I want kids, God! Thy will, not mine be done!

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I did end up calling the nurse last night and shared with her my symptoms. I couldn't take it any longer because all I could think about was "What if I'm getting ready to hemorrhage?". The bleeding just looks more like bleeding than a period, and reminded me of what things looked like close to when I did start hemorrhaging after my molar.

So, per the nurse and the doctor, the thought is that this could be a period. I asked if it was possible to have a period this soon when my levels are still positive. She said yes. So, if that is true, this ranks up with one of the weirdest periods I've ever had in my 18 years of perioding. These cramps are stronger than any cramps I've had in the last 5 years. But, if this IS a period, then maybe this will help my trends out immensely and I could potentially start trying sooner? We shall see.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Photo Album

When I was first married, my husband's grandmother gave me a photo album. It was filled with pictures from when he was a baby through his college years. This book was my guilty pleasure. I would sit for extended periods of time and just soak in every picture. I mean, who wouldn't want to sit and look through pictures of the man of their dreams?

My favorite part of the book was the beginning where all his baby pictures were. This man was a gorgeous baby. As I paged through, I would daydream about having his children and, with anticipation, imagine what our children would look like. I couldn't wait!

As time went on, it became more and more apparent that he was not yet ready to have kids. Confused and heart-broken, I put away the photo album. Very rarely did I look at it, and when I did, I wished I'd hadn't because it just made me too sad. Top onto this the whole molar pregnancy fiasco. What a recipe for dust collection! The book sat unopened for a couple years.

I just recently opened it again. It was like meeting with an old friend. Time has been good to this book 1) because it is in great shape, and 2) because it has given me the chance to heal in regards to daydreaming about its contents.

Here are a few of the reasons why I get excited about my future children:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Vicarious Mothering

The jury is still out as to whether or not this "mother" thing will ever happen to me personally. In spite of this, I do believe I have been given the gift of vicarious mothering opportunities over the years via different relationships in my life.

Relationship #1: Sibling
As the second oldest of seven, I have had my fair share of caring for children. I've often thought of myself as a live-in nanny, though it wasn't necessarily by choice. There were ups and downs.
  • Watching them fall asleep while feeding them
  • Helping them learn new things
  • Making them smile
  • Playing with them
  • Watching their personalities develop as they grow older
  • Kissing their cheeks
  • Taking care of them (when I was in a good mood)
  • Being stuck watching them for hours on end with no idea when my mom would come back home
  • Changing dirty diapers
  • Cleaning up after them
  • Dealing with strong wills with absolutely no authority to do anything about it
  • Taking care of them (when I was in a bad mood)

For some time, I felt the need to balance "sisterhood" with "nanny-hood" because there were so many times where I had to be responsible for their well-being. But as the years have gone by, my relationship with my younger siblings has slowly morphed into sister/equal, which I quite enjoy. The transition has been a unique experience.
Holding Christine at my Kindergarten graduation when I was six. She is the middle-middle child of us all. We had "school" when she was little and I helped teach her spelling and math before she was even in pre-school! I have enjoyed watching her grow up and develop her many creative talents (art, music, communications). Once I graduated college, I felt strongly about encouraging her during her college years. For the last six months she has lived with my husband and I. It has been a privilege to mentor her as she makes the transition into adulthood. She has taught me many things as well! I will miss her!
Holding Christopher when I was six, right before going into 1st grade. I remember planning his birthday parties with my other sisters when he was little. He and I are similarly strong-willed and passionate about what we believe, so it was always a character building experience to watch him when mom was gone. He made it very clear to me that I was not the "boss" of him. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow up to be a man who is a deep thinker, born leader, and hard worker. He has taught me how to love no matter what!
Multi-tasking with Nathan when I was in high school; I'm playing checkers, feeding him pretzels, and eating the pretzels he's offering me at the same time. Of all the siblings, he's the one I probably helped raise the most, primarily due to my age at the time. I made a point to make sure this child had a proper baby book, took him to the pool, picked him up from school, and the list goes on. I kind of spoiled him, too. After moving out of the house, I can remember being emotional at the thought of him growing up. I will never forget the day I called home and heard a deep voice on the other end: "Chris?" (No) "Dad?" (No) "Nathan?!!?!" (Yes) Yeah, I started bawling. He's in high school now and I am so proud of him!
Holding Hannah on a weekend home from college. I had the privilege of caring for her in her toddler stage. While I didn't have as much time with her compared to the others, I did have a year with her. I would feed her, put her down for naps, take her on walks, dance to music with her, and of course spoil her. She's always had such a funny personality. At 3/4 years old she would call me at college to talk. I would ask, "Does mom know you're on the phone?" She would usually dodge the question and change the subject. She's in grade school now. I love getting to know her and having "sis time" together.

Relationship #2: Aunt

Being an aunt is so much fun! I love my nieces and nephews! The great thing about aunt-hood is that you have all the benefits of the "ups" listed above, but hardly any "downs" (that's what the parents are for!). Though, I will say I have had to change diapers with these guys, and some pretty nasty ones at that, but it is worth it! I find it miraculous how much love can come out of a person. Just when you think you've loved it all out, another baby comes along and you find more.

These are my older sister's kids (she is older by 1 year). I love these guys! Each personality is so unique. Watching them grow up is so cool! Of course, every time I see new pictures on facebook I get teary-eyed because they live so far away. I cherish every visit!
These are my younger sister's girls (she is younger by 1 year). I'm so lucky to be close enough to be able to see these sweeties every few weeks. They bring me so much joy!

Relationship #3: Friend
As a friend, you don't have quite as many opportunities on the "ups" side and virtually no downs, unless you elect to babysit! But you still have the joy of watching the kids grow up and hearing the stories of the crazy things they do with their parents. They can be quite entertaining at 10:30 p.m., especially since they are not your own!

Relationship #4: Teacher
I've had the privilege of being a Sunday School/VBS teacher at different parts in my life. Most recently, I have lost some of my patience for misbehaved children that stems from lazy parenting, so I have not been as involved. But, in my earlier days, it was so much fun. I really tried hard to help the kids learn about Jesus and tried to incorporate memorable/out-of-the-ordinary activities in my teaching to make a difference. I find so much joy seeing from a distance how these kids grow in the Lord. It is an honor to have been a small part of that development.