Family, Personal

I Had a Baby

Like hundreds of millions of women before me, I have successfully birthed a child! It’s one of those things that is, by definition, so incredibly mundane. But so incredibly insane to experience!

Baby feet in baby booties
Baby feet in baby booties

I started having signs of preterm labor at 35 weeks, so you can imagine my shock and frustration when at 41 weeks I was still pregnant. After 3 miscarriages maintaining a pregnancy is pretty exciting. But dudes, being 41 weeks pregnant sucks no matter how much heartbreak it took you to get there. It is uncomfortable, and you can’t make medium-term plans to do anything fun because you literally might explode at any moment. Which is to say, I still owe my dad an outing to see Star Wars.

Did you know there are many old wives tales natural induction methods? If not, you will soon because everyone you meet will suggest them to you. With a sample size of 2 postdate pregnancies, I feel I can tell you definitively which ones work: none of them. I did enjoy the acupuncture and foot massages though.

I originally had an induction scheduled for Saturday night, but chickened out and moved it back to Tuesday morning. Something about being at the doctor’s office reminded me what childbirth is actually like and suddenly I was all JUST KIDDING I CAN STAY PREGNANT LONGER. Plus the prenatal testing came back great so I was no longer worrying that my baby was slowly expiring in my sad, defective womb. Admittedly after 3 miscarriages I also have very little faith in my body’s natural ability to make good choices.

On Saturday afternoon I had my usual “bullshit contractions,” which are vaguely more legit feeling than braxton hicks contractions, and last longer (maybe an hour or two), but never go anywhere. I had these almost daily for 4 weeks. I stopped paying attention to them. I got a pedicure, they went away. Then they came back! Then they went away. Chris started cooking dinner and I was like “FYI I might be in early labor, I’ll let you know in an hour.”

And hour later I was still having regular but mostly painless contractions so we called the doula to give her a heads up, and called my in-laws to pick up the 3 year old, still not really sure if this was legit. An hour after that I was having not-very-painful contractions 3 minutes apart, and was very confused about whether I should be going to the hospital now or not. My doula said it was either very early labor, or I was handling a fast labor very well. Without any real way to tell which was which I sat down to watch The Simpsons, and everything slowed down. I felt stupid for having called in the cavalry for more false labor.

At the doula’s suggestion I took a hot shower, and about 20 minutes later it was very clear that this was not false labor and that we needed to go to the hospital NOW. There was lots of cursing in the car. The security guard at the hospital did not need to ask why I was there (also no one else shows up to a hospital late at night carrying a yoga ball). Then I went to the PETU (I forget what it stands for but it’s basically labor triage) for THE WORST 20 MINUTES EVER.

For reasons that almost certainly involve lawyers, they need to get your baby on the monitor for 20 minutes at intake. This involves lying on a stretcher with a thingy strapped to you while you labor. THIS IS THE WORST. I have absolutely nothing positive to say about whatever lawyers suggested this was a good way for the hospital to cover their asses. During this part of the process I decided that unmedicated labor is for chumps and that I would probably like an epidural. The nurse encouraged me to wait until I was no longer attached to the Goddamned Monitor to make that decision.

Once freed from the Goddamned Monitor and reunited with my yoga ball the pain was indeed a lot more manageable. My doula arrived and after working through a few contractions I decided an epidural still sounded great. An OB checked me and said a bunch of numbers that describe my internal organs, the only one of which I remember was “6cm.” I was congratulated. I was then admitted to Labor and Delivery.

The next part is a blur and my husband and I disagree about the order of a few things. His memory is probably more accurate than mine.  I was repeatedly assured the anesthesiologist was on his way. It’s entirely possible this was even true, but within 20 minutes it was very clear to everyone that the baby was going to beat him there.  I had a bunch of truly miserable contractions, my water broke, I had a couple more miserable contractions, and then I started involuntarily pushing (still sitting on my yoga ball). I started freaking out because GUYS I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS WITHOUT DRUGS and my support team very lovingly explained to me that I was shit out of luck there.

I was herded onto the bed (even the progressive hippy hospital won’t let you actually pop your kid out onto a yoga ball), my midwife just barely managed to get her gloves on, and I started whining about how much I did not want to be doing this. I gave birth on all fours, not so much out of any choice but because there literally wasn’t time for me to try anything else. I also really had no control over the situation (because if I did I’d have quit). It took less than 5 minutes of pushing for a tiny baby girl to show up. It was about an hour and a half after I arrived at the hospital. Our car was still illegally parked out front.

Despite whining about the pain the entire time, I was actually sort of underwhelmed once it was over. Most of my anxiety stemmed from thinking the worst was yet to come, but it never did. I showed up at the hospital in a lot of pain but it never really got worse. I thought I was in “active labor” and kept bracing for “transition” and “ring of fire” kind of stuff. In reality I showed up in transition, and I think the ring of fire thing must only be for first time moms. Overall on a scale of 1-10 I give natural childbirth a 9. With the caveat that I don’t ever want to find out what 10 feels like.


After the baby (who we named Ada) was out, I was given pitocin to stop some stubborn bleeding. Then my blood pressure refused to come down. And despite having way less tearing than with my first birth I ended up with a bunch of stitches because apparently some vein just refused to quit bleeding everywhere. It took about 3 hours for everyone to decide that things looked OK enough to send me on to postpartum recovery. Ada stayed with us the whole time and even managed to get some decent nursing in.

Ada was born slightly shorter and a pound heavier than her sister was. At just a few days old she already has her own personality.



How to actually block Caillou and other irritating shows from Netflix

There was a post that went around a couple months ago explaining how to block irritating kids shows on Netflix. Unfortunately it was light on details and it’s actually a multi-step process. I spoke with someone at Netflix who said they’re working on offering more granular control for parents but in the mean time here’s how you can at least stop Netflix from suggesting mind-numbing crap like the demonspawn that is Caillou.

This was all done from the web interface, which will affect any devices that profile uses. We’ll assume you’re aware of step 0: log into your account.

1. Make your kid’s profile an ‘adult’ profile.

Yes, this is counter-intuitive. But only ‘adult’ profiles can rate shows so you have to temporarily set your kid’s profile to be not a kid. Don’t worry, we’ll change it back when we’re done. Go into “Manage Profiles” and uncheck “Kid”


2. Log in under your kid’s profile. Find the show you hate and give it 1 star.

Before the UI change you could mark it as “not interested” but now for some reason you can only give it 1 star. So go ahead and do that. This will let Netflix know you hate that show.

3. Go into the viewing history and remove the show entirely.

You can find the viewing activity link under your account settings, or just go directly there with this link. Make sure you’re on your kid’s profile.  Find the offensive show (ctrl + f to search the page if you have to) and click the X on that line. You’ll get something like this:

The Hoarders episodes are mine.
The Hoarders episodes are mine.

Click the Remove Series link to remove the entire series from the viewing history. This will make it as though your kid has never seen the show (for Netflix, sadly memory wiping for your child isn’t part of this).

4. Turn your kid’s account back into a kid’s

Re-check the button you checked in step 1.

This isn’t a perfect solution. If your kid can read/write they can still search for and find the show. But at least Netflix will no longer suggest horrible irritating stuff you hate. And maybe someday they’ll let us truly block certain shows. We can hope.

Family, Personal

What I learned seeing Walt Disney World in a wheelchair

My 10k run at Disney World went really well. Unfortunately the run + all the walking after really aggravated my plantar fasciitis and I ended up unable to walk well by the last two days of the trip. I rented a wheelchair from the parks ($10/day) and learned the following:

  • Disney wheelchairs are not in great shape. The second one we got was OK but the first one veered so heavily to the left that it was nearly impossible for me to push straight by myself.
  • Disney wheelchairs are not designed to be powered by the occupant. Yes, they have those big wheels so you can in theory wheel yourself around. In practice this is nearly impossible for more than a few feet. First, the chairs are entirely too wide. I felt like a gorilla reaching out for the wheels. Second, the handlebars in the back (so someone can push you) get in the way of anything resembling a smooth motion.
  • Having to rely on someone else to push you around is frustrating no matter how much you love them and how awesome they are.
  • If you try to push yourself and can’t keep up with a walking pace, people will give you annoyed looks for being in their way
  • It’s nice having a drink holder if you’re going Around the World at Epcot

None of this was even remotely surprising to me as I have heard it all before from friends with disabilities, but it was still interesting/aggravating to experience first hand. I was reminded of an article I read last year called “how to illustrate wheelchairs.” It explains that the chairs you see in the hospital, and Disney World, aren’t the sort of things anyone would use regularly to get around.

Something like this is more what I would have wanted to use, but obviously that’s not what the average Disney wheelchair renter wants. I was curious if any of the off-site rental companies offered something a little more maneuverable. While some of them offered narrower chairs, they were all hospital-style.

It looks like the popular option for most people who want independence is an ECV (aka scooter). The expense and size of those made them pretty unappealing to me – getting one from park to park on the buses is routine but it takes a little while to secure/unload. It would have been a lot to deal with while travelling with a toddler.  They also just seem a lot less nimble than a chair. I could spin around in place in the wheelchair, which is handy when you’re watching your kid zoom around a playground.

There’s so much walking necessary in Disney World that even minor mobility obstacles can become big ones. Now that I’m home I’m getting around just fine – as long as I stay off my foot most of the day it doesn’t bother me. But at Disney I was on my feet 8-10 hours per day and it hurt. I’m guessing there are a significant number of people who decide mid-trip that they can’t deal with the walking anymore.

Lastly: no I did not get to go to the front of lines (nor did I ask to). Aside from the fact that I was absolutely capable of waiting in line like everyone else, Disney has recently(ish) changed their policies due to rampant abuse. Now instead of going to the front of a line Disability Access Service Card holders get a fastpass-like service allowing them to pass their wait time somewhere more comfortable.

Crafting, Family

Princess Bubblegum Hat

The toddler is Princess Bubblegum for Halloween this year, and I got a BMO dress off of Think Geek. For the record, Princess Bubblegum is pretty much the only princess I’ll ever allow.13bubblegum

I used a pink dress she already had in her closet, and made a quit hat with some fleece I’ve had in my closet for years, so the costume cost zero additional dollars, which is my favorite amount.

The base pattern for the hat is this earflap hat pattern, I just extended the ears to be longer and added a panel in the back. I freehanded the crown (which is a separate, removable piece) and stuffed the top of it with bits of scraps so it would stand up. I hand sewed the “jewel” on afterwards, but if I did it again I’d probably do it before sewing it together. The whole project is a little slapdash (and turned out a bit too small because I didn’t measure properly) but not bad for a quick costume.




Kellbot’s Big List of Baby Crap

Baby registries. They seem like fun until you realize you have absoutely no clue what you need. There are countless articles written about this topic, and most of them seem to be written by either a) people trying to sell you crap or b) the world’s most intense helicopter parents. Here’s my slightly more practical guide to registering for baby stuff. I’ve linked to the version we use/like where appropriate.

Babies don’t really give a damn about anything except eating and pooping, but the baby shower is your opportunity to get stuff that matches your decor (sort of not really) instead of “whatever is on sale when I realize I need it”.

Obviously she loved her Woombie, can't you tell?
Obviously she loved her Woombie, can’t you tell?

These are the best swaddling blankets. They are also astronomically expensive. That’s why they go on the registry.
My daughter also enjoyed a variety of baby straightjackets, particularly the Woombie and Swaddle Me although she usually escaped the Swaddle Me.

If you want to wear your baby around, the Ergo carrier was the most versatile for us. I still throw my toddler in it sometimes. They make a newborn insert for it, which I affectionately call the “baby taco” but honestly you don’t need it long and can probably use a rolled up towel to the same effect. Put it on the registry if you’re good on closet space.

A pack n play with a raised “newborn crib” area makes for a handy makeshift crib wherever you are. We also got a lot of use out of bouncy chairs and slings. Basically for the first 6 months you are constantly in need of somewhere you can set the baby down without it screaming. The baby never seems to accept the floor for this purpose.

I suggest baby toiletries and baby sized nail clippers. I tried cutting Bitmap’s nails with a normal pair of clippers and felt like I was going to cut her whole finger off. WHY ARE THEIR NAILS SO CREEPY AND TINY?

Get a changing table, changing pad, and like 8000 extra covers for the damned thing. Oh while we’re at it, waterproof crib mattress pads (plural). And at least 2 fitted sheets. More is better because babies leak. Babies aren’t allowed to have top sheets so don’t worry about those. All cribs and changing tables are pretty much the same so get whatever you think looks the least awful.

I really liked having a baby bath tub. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Holding them in the sink is harder than it sounds. To those of you who had no trouble bathing your infant in a sink/bucket/natural flowing river, just shut up and let me have my baby tub.

Register for clothes in the 6-9 month range. Everyone will get you a million newborn outfits, which your child will outgrow in approximately 3 days. 6-9 month clothing will get you through to the first birthday, where you’ll get more clothes.

If you feel like making your kid their own baby food puree pouches, infantino makes a “Squeeze Station” I find really handy. I still can’t get Bitmap to eat vegetables in any other form. Don’t get their blender though, it’s garbage. Get one of those mini cuisinarts or an immersion blender.

Homemade baby food pouches. Now accepting nominations for mother of the year.
Homemade baby food pouches. Now accepting nominations for mother of the year.

If you plan on breastfeeding, register for some hippie nice lanolin cream for yourself. Or just the Lanisoh stuff, whatever. DON’T ASK WHY JUST DO IT.

We have a standalone high chair and I like it because honestly it’s kind of like baby jail. I can put Bitmap in it, give her dinner, and then go cook mine without her under foot. She still uses it even though she is way too old to need it, I think she just likes having a chair that is hers. Ours is super easy to clean and has a cover we can throw in the laundry. This is not unimportant. We also have a portable booster seat which in theory we take when we go to friends’ houses but in reality we always forget to bring.

We have literally FOUR different strollers. Two joggers (I like the Baby Trend Expedition just fine), a stroller frame that her infant seat straps onto (super handy), a folding “umbrella” stroller that is quite frankly way too heavy. Definitely test drive the strollers in the store. If you actually plan on jogging/running, and not just walking in yoga pants, the bigger the wheels the better and a locking or fixed front wheel is essential. Unfortunately the strollers I can actually stand running with tend to be kinda big for navigating malls and other places.

Also, this thing has come in EXTREMELY handy.

One last note on car seats

The car seat thing seems confusing by design, and apparently now kids have to be in some sort of seat/booster/whatever until they’re 25. I jest, but here in Pennsylvania the law says 8 years old or 80 pounds.

There are four basic types of car seats:

Infant buckets – these are just what they sound like. They have a handle and usually clip into some sort of base for easy removal
Convertible seats – These are huge but go all the way from rear-facing (birth to age 2) to front-facing 5 point harness (ages 2 to 4).
High Back Booster – These come in two flavors: 5 point harness (ages 2+) and “belt positioning.” (roughly ages 4+) The ones with the 5 point harness usually convert to a belt positioning later, and most of them also convert to backless later.
Backless booster – This is just a foam wedge to raise your kid’s butt up. Some have cup holders. This is what your svelte 7.5 year old is gonna be surreptitiously sitting on.

At a minimum you will need two of these. You can get away with skipping the infant bucket, but they’re considerably more convenient for popping into the store with a sleeping baby. The car seat models seem to change hourly so I’m not going to link any, but having shopped for 4 of the damned things here’s my advice:

Infant bucket: go with something light. Moving these from car to car isn’t too bad, you can probably live without the extra seat base.

Convertible seats: these things weigh a ton and can be a pain to move between cars. If you don’t want to buy a million different car seats, look for one that will last you until you can switch to a backless (i.e. cheap) booster. The maximum height/weight should be listed in the product details.

High back booster: get one that covers 5 point, belt positioning, and backless booster stages so you don’t have to own a small army of car seats

Backless booster: as far as I can tell these are all pretty much the same. And mercifully much cheaper than the others.


In Case You Have a Miscarriage

Occasionally I get questions about my miscarriages that come from a place of “could it happen to me?” They want to know what they can do to not end up in my shoes, or the comfort of knowing I have some sort of extreme weird situation that will never happen to them. But while I totally understand, I can’t give them that because miscarriage is actually pretty normal. So instead I offer advice for women who find themselves in the aftermath of their first miscarriage.

You are not alone.

It probably feels like you are, especially if you’re watching your Facebook feed explode with hundreds of perfect adorable babies. But you’re not. In fact, many of those perfect adorable babies were preceded by a miscarriage, maybe multiple. It’s not something a lot of people talk about, but if you start you’ll find people come out of the woodwork. Friends you didn’t even know were trying. Friends with multiple children and even more miscarriages. Older women, younger women, those with seemingly perfect lives, and those who are complete disasters. Miscarriage is surprisingly indiscriminate, for better and for worse.

You might have postpartum depression.

This one is a real kicker if it happens to you. You don’t get a kid, but you do get the debilitating depression that comes with it. This isn’t just the normal sadness that is to be expected when something tragic happens, it goes beyond that. It’s the feeling that even when you try to look at the bright side of things your awful brain just keeps dragging you down. It’s lying awake at night thinking “this is pointless, I wish I was dead. Wait what? I don’t believe that, why do I keep thinking it?” It’s being unable to feel the joy you know is there. The only good news is that for many women it passes as their hormone levels return to normal.

Find a way to keep your head above water.

Even if you don’t have postpartum depression you’ll probably be a mess of emotions. That’s normal and healthy, but find ways to keep it from overwhelming you. For some people this includes a therapist, or diving into a new hobby, or leaning hard on some close friends. For me it’s exercise (ok and therapy). Strategies I have tried and don’t recommend include drinking and binge eating.

There is probably nothing wrong with you.

The statistics vary depending on whom you are talking to, but if you’ve had a miscarriage the odds are nothing is wrong with you. An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Even 3 in a row like me is not out of the statistical realm of “just unlucky,” which is why most doctors hold off on the fancy/invasive tests until you’ve had multiple. By all means talk to your doctor about next steps to make sure everything is in ship shape, but unless you’ve got other suspicious stuff going on they probably won’t do a ton right away.

Keep taking your prenatal vitamins.

This is where the science gets a little sketchy, because running randomized double blind studies on pregnant / miscarrying women is not only unethical, but damned near impossible. So doctors end up dipping into the “doesn’t hurt, might help” category. Pretty much all of the vitamin supplements fall into this scientific gray area.

While failing to take your vitamins does not cause miscarriage, there are a handful of conditions which are greatly improved by increasing vitamin intake. Conveniently, most of these vitamins are found in prenatals. There are other supplements to consider, with considerably more argument as to their usefulness, but prenatal vitamins are pretty much universally recommended.


As for my own story, some days I feel better than others. Some days have more hope, some have less. I’ve reached the point where I’m getting fancy / invasive tests, and to be honest it’s not super fun. I’m definitely glad we didn’t start all this right after the first miscarriage. I spend way too much of my time at doctors’ offices and labs, and even more time googling weird medical terms like “antiphospholipid syndrome.” I have a meeting with a Reproductive Endocrinologist who will likely do things like inject my uterus with radioactive dye to see if it’s shaped weird. And despite all that I’m still within the odds of “could just be bad luck.” It’s not all bad though, and every time my toddler throws a tantrum I think “yeah, maybe it’s OK to wait a little longer.”


Some quick feelings

There’s a lot going on but it’s been really hard to find any time to blog about it, or really update anyone beyond a quick Facebook post.  I don’t really understand how the folks who blog 2-3 times per week (or more!) pull it off. I suggest ghostwriters. Or maybe addictions to 5 hour energy.

I had yet another miscarriage. At this point I’m more aggravated than sad. I mean I’m sad too. But this time when the ultrasound tech said “let me check with the radiologist” I knew what was coming. I cried when they came in and told me there was no heartbeat, but mostly I was angry. The whole situation just seemed stupid. I also immediately (and rather unfairly) started hating the mom on 19 Kids and Counting. Why does she get to have like a million kids, and I can’t even have 2? And what the hell is suddenly so wrong with my body? I had my first daughter with no incident. I’m starting to wonder if she torched the place on her way out.

The silver lining here is that now I’m officially an infertility patient, so there’s a new crop of doctors and tests waiting for me. Of course there’s still a good chance that we’ll never find anything noteworthy, which is annoying, but there’s also still really good odds for me having another child. 70% of women with consecutive miscarriages go on to have more children1 . So it’s not all bad news. But after 3 pregnancies in the span of a year I’m just feeling tired and grumpy.

While I’m glad we’ll be getting some more testing it sometimes feels like there’s an infinite number of steps between me and even attempting to have another child. I had a D&E last week so they can run tests on the not-even-a-fetus. Hopefully next month my body will be back to “normal” and then my OB can start running blood work. Many of the tests have to be repeated over a span of a month or two in order to get meaningful results. For example: Antiphosopholipid Syndrome (a blood clotting disorder) is one of the first things they check for, and the treatment is relatively simple and effective (blood thinners), but the test has about a 5% false positive rate so you need two positives 6-8 weeks apart for it to count.  If nothing exciting turns up in my blood I’ll likely be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), genetic counselor, or both. They’ll check to see if my husband and I are horribly genetically mismatched, if my uterus has any obvious problems missed by the ultrasound, etc.

My mood and outlook come and go, and today I mostly feel exhausted. Between my four pregnancies I’ve had a cumulative 10 months of morning sickness. I’ve lost count of the number of ultrasounds I’ve had. When I went in for surgery my arms were so bruised from blood draws they had to put the IV in my hand. As much as I’m looking forward to getting some test results, I’m dreading all the trips to the doctor’s office.

Philly, as seen from my OB's office
Philly, as seen from my OB’s office

Fingers crossed that someday soon I’ll start loving this view again instead of resenting it.


  1. Every time I say those odds they seem terrible. But then I imagine someone saying “70% of people who eat this die immediately” and those odds seem really incredibly high and obviously I would not eat that because obviously it will kill you. So I suppose odds are a matter of perspective []

On Family

Every Sunday we go to my husband’s grandmother’s house for dinner. On an average week 15 people show up, but if everyone happens to be there we cram 30 people into her living and dining rooms. On those weeks we hope for good weather so the kids can go outside instead of playing tackle football at our feet. There is always cake, because it is always someone’s birthday. Through marriage I’ve gained entry into an extremely close knit family, practically an amoeba that absorbs new members like they’ve always been there. My own grandparents have been gone for quite some time, and it’s nice, albeit a little strange, to once again receive cards signed “grandmom and grandpop.”

By contrast, my family appears a bit aloof. We don’t get together often, and when we do there are generally a lot of introductions that go something like “Hi, I’m soandso, I think I’m your cousin.” Some of it is due to the huge age spread within each generation. My grandmother had 7 children over about 30 years. I’ve got cousins in high school and cousins with grandchildren. The sheer size of the family makes it hard to keep up with everyone, and we don’t all live in a concentrated area like my husband’s family does. Our families are very different creatures, and when my husband and I first got together I started to feel very sad that my own extended family didn’t look like his. After a wake this past weekend where I saw uncles and first cousins I hadn’t seen in 20 years I spent a lot of time thinking about why we’re so distant.

My family is like the elephant in the story of the blind men and the elephant. It’s so big that no one person can really get the full picture of what’s going on. We can only see a small part at a time, and make conclusions based on that. For a long time, I believed my uncle destroyed my family.

When I was younger, in grade school, I remember getting together at my uncle’s house for holidays. There was croquet and billiards and a big dinner around a huge dining room table. In the mid-nineties my aunt died, and I don’t remember many regular family parties after that. My uncle fell apart after his wife died, and from my perspective as a 12 year old, the family fell apart with it. Family gatherings, when they happened, were tense. If my uncle wasn’t there, his absence was noted and mourned. If he was there, his drinking made him unpredictable and sometimes scary. I watched my dad repeatedly struggle to bring my uncle back to reality, only to have it fail catastrophically every time. Eventually my uncle became “my estranged uncle,” and remained so for another twenty years. I saw the family less and less as I started my career and family.

My uncle passed away recently, and our loosely assembled family coalesced for his wake. At first it was pretty awkward, and I tried to figure out how to introduce my husband to a cousin when I was only 50% sure of their name. I was embarrassed that I could name my husband’s family members more readily than my own. But once people got past the obligatory “I haven’t seen you since you were this big,” I could start to see that we were still a family, even if we weren’t so closely knit as others. Not everyone had a bond with everyone else, but there were threads of connection running all around the room that held us together. There was something there, even if it wasn’t as picturesque as Sunday dinners at grandmom’s. There was laughter, and shared memories, and the occasional surprising discovery of things we didn’t know we had in common.

I now understand that it takes more than one broken man to destroy a family. Even weird families like mine are made of tougher stuff than that. We may never fully clean up the damage left in my uncle’s wake, but we’re not dead yet either. Although we’ll probably never all be in one place again, or function as a singular amoeba-like entity, we can strengthen the individual links between people. We can move forward, and try to heal as we go. We can become friends on Facebook and ‘like’ each other’s photos, celebrate our successes and offer sympathy for our failures. We may always be a little awkward, and that’s OK. At my uncle’s wake I finally learned to stop resenting my family for what it wasn’t, and love it for what it is.


6 week checkup

After you have a child you’re considered “postpartum.” I don’t know what the analogous word is for miscarriage, but at this point I am 6 weeks post-miscarriage. And still bleeding.

It hasn’t been constant and it hasn’t been much, but it’s clear my body is still processing the miscarriage. And like seemingly every other pregnancy-related symptom I have it is “not common but not unusual.” Just what every girl wants to hear!

To be fair, it’s better than hearing “yes, something is wrong, let’s schedule you for surgery.” Or at least that’s what I tell myself. I met with my midwife yesterday and was told the same thing I’ve been hearing the last 6 weeks: wait and see. Although at this point it’s more “wait it out.” Unless I start massively hemorrhaging or having other go-to-the-ER type problems, there’s not much left to see.

All my lab work and exams came back well within the range of normal, my body is just taking its sweet time getting all the pregnancy hormones out of my system. In the mean time my body is trying to ovulate, but not quite making it, so it’s in what my husband creatively described as a “race condition.”. Or in more concrete terms, it’s like a toilet with a broken flapper. It’s just constantly filling and flushing. It’s just as glamorous as it sounds.

I had a good cry at the midwife’s office. She reassured me that everything is normal and there is really nothing to indicate I can’t carry another child to term. I told her I didn’t believe her, and she said that was normal too. She expects the bleeding to resolve “within a few weeks.”  I’m trying to focus on all the awesome that fills the rest of my life, but it’s hard. As I come up on the due date from my first miscarriage (February 28) I’m trying not to obsess over calculating the earliest I could possibly have a second child (January 31, 2015), but it’s impossible.

So that’s my situation, a series of unfortunate events. Nothing major, nothing wrong, just a nice tidy pile of bad luck.


Now is the hard part

Three weeks ago I had my second miscarriage. It was very different than the first, in nearly every way. I was farther along, it was a home, and 3 weeks later I’m still not back to normal physically. Nevermind emotionally.

The reaction from friends and family has largely mirrored my own: how could this happen? One miscarriage is not so unusual, but two? Well, it turns out they’re not so unusual either. At least, not unusual enough to justify the extensive testing that comes with recurrent miscarriage, which is done after your third.

No one is surprised that it’s an emotional time for me. Now, at three weeks out, it’s starting to get hard. The remaining physical symptoms make it impossible for me to put the miscarriage out of my mind for more than an hour or so. But everyone else has moved on. Even my husband is pretty much business-as-usual at this point. Meanwhile I’m on my third package of maxi-pads, knowing full well that the longer this continues the longer it will be until we can consider trying again. I was originally due in February 2014, and now the soonest I could have another child is 2015. Or, from where I’m sitting, an eternity.

One of the hardest things to navigate at this point is well meaning friends who try to point out silver linings, or “at leasts.” At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you’re young and have plenty of time to try again. At least this will give you some more time to sleep in. At least you already have a child. They’re genuine expressions of sympathy, and they’re true, but to be honest they’re not very comforting. I have a hard time remaining gracious when people say them, but I know they just don’t know what else to say.

To their credit, there are a lot of silver linings. We’ve made quite a bit of lemonade from the situation, not the least of which is planning a family trip to Disney World. The first time I went I was pregnant with Bitmap, and couldn’t go on any of the rides. RevolvingDork is excited to take me on Space Mountain.

There’s a second type of reaction I get: people who are afraid it could happen to them. They want to know as many details as they can acquire politely. What caused my miscarriages? Is it something I did? Something I am? Is it likely to happen again? I actually don’t mind these, and try to be as forthcoming as possible.

Here’s what I know: having two miscarriages in a row is uncommon, but not abnormal. In most cases miscarriage is a way for your body to handle a fetus that wasn’t going to make it to begin with. It happens often enough that it’s well within the statistical realm of “bad luck.” Lacking other complications or signs of problems, most doctors won’t refer you to an endocrinologist until your third miscarriage.

My two miscarriages were very different. The first one was ‘missed,’ we only found out about it during the ultrasound, and was surgically removed. It was more or less painless, and I recovered within a few days. The second was exactly like going into labor. I had contractions for eight hours, my water broke, and then I delivered something. It was terrifying and painful and three weeks later I’m still wondering when my body will be done with it so I can move on.

We did genetic testing on the first one, and it came back genetically normal. I also had a lot of genetic testing done on myself, and all of that came back normal. Thyroid problems sometimes cause miscarriages, but mine is normal. Add to that a totally normal first pregnancy with a happy healthy baby girl (which itself rules out a few major causes of miscarriage), and it looks a lot like bad luck. I know I should be glad to hear there isn’t anything obviously wrong with me, but at the same time not knowing what went wrong doesn’t feel great.

I’m not sure where to go from here. My doctor, midwife, and husband all feel confident I can carry a child to term again. I waver back and forth. On good days I gather the strength of all the women who came forward to tell me about their multiple miscarriages. I look at the wonderful children they were rewarded with for their perseverance, and think “of course we’ll try again.” Other days the thought of going through this again is just too much to bear, and I start mumbling to my husband about maybe investigating adoption.

I know eventually I’ll start to feel more normal. The bleeding will stop and I won’t have such an ongoing reminder. When spring comes I’ll almost certainly want to try again, and if I do get pregnant I’ll be a neurotic mess for at least the first four months. Meanwhile I’ll try to focus on other things, like my business and my existing family. I have a lot of good things going on right now, and I haven’t forgotten them. But some days I just feel sad and crappy, and I think that’s OK too.