Saturday, April 11, 2015

20-25 weeks

By now it will finally be out to friends and family that we are pregnant!! And if you are reading this coming from my instagram or have followed me for a while via blog world you now know too! It has been the best secret we have ever kept, and frankly I can't believe my loud mouth didn't slip. Hibernating is over and I can wear this belly proud!

Weeks 20-24 were very scary for me mentally. I had to get passed when Knox passed for peace of mind as well as when Sloane passed. 

I have been having every other week visits with Dr. Font getting to see the little guy and to be honest he isn't camera shy. Takes after his sister. Always looking at us, so we get these creepy big eyed photos that aren't fun ultrasound photos. I'm still waiting for a good profile view :)

We see Dr. Khater once a month and things have been going well. I finally was able to feel him kick and move around and now that I have he is non stop. Definitely more than any of his sisters or brother was that's for sure. Collins thinks everyone has a baby in their belly including herself and loves using our doppler to find his heartbeat. It is super cute. 

At a little over 22 weeks baby measured 1lb 3oz which is right around what every other baby was at this time. So he's in good company! 

At 23 weeks we went for a fetal Eco to make sure that his little heart was perfect. (After loosing 2 babies I am no stranger to depression and I am not "shy" about sharing my feelings so I have been on Zoloft). With that said I did stop taking my anti-depressant soon after finding out we were pregnant however they still wanted to check his heart to make sure nothing had come out of that. Great news his heart is perfect :)

Amazing that I have four babies and its even crazier to compare each at 20 weeks :) Ahh to have a nice young body again hahaha after your fourth pregnancy the boobs get a little lower, and the body gets a bit bigger :)

Antithrombin III Deficiency

At around 15 weeks I had a routine appointment with Dr. Font. He had ordered some extensive blood work just to take a look at a few things to rule out a couple of blood disorders. As all doctors do he wanted to make sure a blood clot or disorder wasn't one of the reasons as to why we kept having so many issues with our pregnancies. 

That's where the big Antithrombin III Deficiency comes in. Medically speaking Antithrombin III (ATIII) is a nonvitamin K-dependent protease that inhibits coagulation by lysing thrombin and factor Xa. My numbers were low and Dr. Font as a precaution wanted me on blood thinner immediately even before meeting with a hematologist. So as if enough wasn't enough I would begin twice a day injections of Lovenox in my belly that my sweet gentle husband would administer because to be honest I was freaked out. 

We had no idea I ever had this disorder before, and it is hereditary so my family is in the process of being checked out themselves. We can't know for sure if this is a reason for anything that has happened in the past but as far as we are concerned taking these injections can't hurt for this pregnancy, so why not. 

After meeting with my hematologist she wanted to re run the tests one more time just to make sure that I in fact had this. My number was on the low side the last test however a year ago when I was pregnant with Knox my number was normal. After taking the second round of testing my number did go up but still remained a bit low. After speaking with Dr. Font, my hematologist made the decision to lower my dose of lovenox to once a day instead of the twice a day, which was music to my ears. I am not a baby but not a fan of any type of injection. 

I will say Marty has done well so far, every morning waking me up to injection me with the goods. I am bruising a bit on either side but that is to be expected. 

I am also on the progesterone injections once a week that my private nurse, Mrs. Mazzoni :) is ever so kindly giving me on every Sunday. Marty doesn't trust himself with that big of a needle and honestly neither do I :)

Gender Reveal

As usual like we did with Sloane, Collins, and Knox we went to Peek a Belly in Lockport to find out the gender as early as we could at 15 weeks :) But before we tell you what baby Mitchell 4.0 is here are the wives tales and what we thought all along...

Heart Rate High 160's- GIRL
Chinese gender Calender- GIRL
Craving sweets sweets sweets-GIRL
Stealing mom's beauty (my face has been a hot mess)-GIRL
Gender Dreams-GIRL
Emotional Wreck (always ha)-GIRL
Carrying high (however that has to do with cerclage)-GIRL
Mayan Calendar-BOY

Marty and I said from the beginning that this little one was a girl and by all these wives tales it seemed as if we were correct! 

Well truth be told its a...BOY!! God has granted us with another little boy :) We are thrilled to be adding another little boy to the family and cannot wait until July when he arrives. Its only perfect that Collins has Sloane as her guardian angel and this little guy will have Knox as his :)

Collins was a little less than thrilled...I think she wanted a sister :)

Flexing and showing off

10 weeks

Christmas came and went, knowing our little secret is hard especially around family because its great news and you want to share exciting news but I know its for the best. Although I have a very nosey family who will ask anybody anything, so while I'm elbow deep in salad practically slurping the dressing my Uncle in front of everyone asks me if I am pregnant. I froze, turned red and almost started crying. I guess through this whole process I didn't actually think anyone would have the balls to ask me if I was actually pregnant. Knowing I had just lost Knox 11 months before and to anyone other than our parents all you guys know is that Surrogacy is the route we were planning to take. I was wrong. So I kindly just stated I was a little chubby and just really hungry. Ouch.

December 30th finally came and Dr. Khater came into my room hugging me as usual and saying there is my Ashley a very pregnant Ashley. I loved hearing those words. I have been embracing this pregnancy each and every step of the way. Through feeling nauseous 24/7 just waiting to puke, to bloody noses, ligament pains, being way too tired for my own good and not to mention welcome back rosacea. I am kind of rambling here but I noticed that I haven't touched on my cravings or feelings for that matter. Lets talk buffalo sauce for the first month or so. Buffalo wings were  staple in our home at least once a week. I couldn't get enough. That is what I craved with Sloane :). Something new chocolate. I am OBSESSED with it. Marty can contest. Chocolate milk, chocolate doughnuts and chocolate covered pretzels are always stocked in this house. I eat a box of doughnuts in a week and two bags of chocolate covered pretzels in two weeks. Both along side a nice glass of chocolate milk. Love it, and I'm the type of person who doesn't really enjoy desserts. However pregnant with this little nugget I am all about it. I don't share either. Well kind of, with Collins, sometimes :) I am also very very tired. From weeks 6 to like 10 I could barely get out of bed. It was rough. I don't remember being this tired with any of the other babies but Marty said I was like that with Sloane. When Collins would nap I would nap. With Marty being off for two weeks during the holiday I took full advantage of that and slept as much as I could. I am just now getting back my energy. Ill be 11 weeks on Sunday.

Now back to Khater's office. There wasn't much to be done just went over my labs from when I was in the ER, and found out I passed my glucose test! Awesome. We couldn't find the heartbeat on the Doppler and I am smart and always make my appointments on Tuesdays when I know the ultrasound tech is in, so he said lets get you in real fast and just take a peek, lucky me :) Its weird though because Marty and I just a few days before were able to find the heartbeat on our Doppler, at first it was 190 woah, then went to average between 157-165.

Look at our sweet nugget all comfy
  Of course we had a heartbeat and of course the baby was doing great. All is well! What was so weird is that I'm pretty sure I am housing Collins twin because their ultrasounds at 10 weeks look almost identical. I know at this point they aren't fully "human" looking but take a look for yourself

Collins on top baby on bottom
I'd say twinkies for sure :) Next Appointment is Dr. Font on the 8th, Marty's birthday :) We also get to find out the gender of this little babe on February 1st and we can't wait!

8 week scare

December 13th Happy Birthday Mom! Marty, Collins, and I had invited my mom over for a special salmon dinner to celebrate the big 5-4 :) I had an appointment to get my hair done beforehand and had just gotten home right when she walked into the door. Marty was preparing the fish and sides and Collins was excited that Nonna had arrived.

I on the other hand had just finished using the restroom. Crap I'm spotting. It is what I look for each and every time I use the bathroom. Having had a miscarriage before all my children I knew what it was like. This was different in color but still I was concerned and didn't want to just wait it out and see, my nerves are shot as you can imagine and unfortunately I wasn't taking any chances.

Sorry mom, can you watch Collins while we go to the hospital instead of eating this delicious salmon. Thanks and oh Happy Birthday :)

Marty and I just went across the street to the Edward ER since it was so close. All I needed was an ultrasound. All I needed to see was a heart beat and my nerves would be calmed. Well it isn't that easy. They don't know me, and they certainly don't know my story. I needed to have blood drawn, get an IV. Be checked by the on call OB vaginally, drink tons of water to be "full" for the ultrasound finally. 

After you see your baby's heartbeat you send a selfie :)

Marty and I sat in that ER room and just tried thinking happy thoughts. I remember being in a similar room right before I delivered Knox thinking he's fine, we just can't find his heartbeat. I looked at Marty and I said we need to pray together. I have prayed before to myself and Marty and I had together said something like "Please god let our baby be ok" each and every time something went arise with Sloane, Collins and Knox. However we've never really both prayed together. So we did. And it worked :) Four hours later the ultrasound tech took us back. I said to her please just show me a heartbeat and then do whatever else you need to do, I just need to see that flicker. Sure enough 154 beats there was our little gummy bear measuring one day ahead...

Our ultrasound tech was AMAZING! She showed up everything. Where the brain was forming, where my placenta was starting to form, the little legs and arms etc. How I have a cyst on my right ovary that is producing progesterone for the baby too! She was great. I couldn't believe it, everything was fine. They ended up not being able to tell me where my bleeding was coming from and it was more brown than anything so more than likely old blood, possibly from surgery or from an old period.

My HCG was a whopping 124,021. Between 7-9 weeks it should be between 7,000 and 229,000 (quite a difference) however I was more than enough so we were happy! I was told to be on pelvic rest (which duh we are) and to take it easy. I called Dr. Khater that Monday and he didn't seem too worried. I understand regardless at 8 weeks there isn't much that could have been done but to know that my baby was doing great was all I needed to keep me a little calm :)

I also did a little side by side of all the babies right around 8 weeks, except for Knox he was 10 weeks :)

From top left: Sloane, Collins, Knox, baby 4.0

My little heartbeat

At six weeks pregnant I finally went in to see Dr. Khater and get a dating ultrasound to make sure everything looked good. For some reason I was really scared this time, every other time I was exactly as far along as I had thought and everything was perfect. This time I thought what if I am wrong or what if I am not pregnant. I'm still crazy.

Well I measured exactly six weeks :) strong heartbeat of 118. Right where that arrow is is where the little bean of a baby is. Due date of July 26th.

All my babies at 6 weeks except Sloane (8weeks) Top left to bottom right Sloane, Collins, Knox, Baby

The reason why I kept this all a secret was because as a family we decided to go through it together and when we got to a point to where we were comfortable and felt safe then it would be the time to let everyone know. At this point its just a lot of questions and worry from others that I didn't want to put on everyone. After meeting with Dr. Khater he said he wanted to see me in four weeks and that I should call Dr. Font and let him know as well and get an appointment set up with him as well. It being close to Christmas I wouldnt see Dr. Font until after the holiday on January 8th, and I'd see Khater on December 30th. He also wanted me to take my glucose test (yuck) to make sure I didnt have this early on. For both Collins and Knox I didn't have it until later on so I figured my chances were pretty good. I had also decided that I didn't want to take that glucose drink. It's gross first of all and second not the best thing for the baby and I had taken more glucose tests than I could count on one hand so Dr. Khater agreed with me and said that if I could find a lab that would allow an alternative to the drink then I could take it there, but his lab didn't so happy searching.

I called a few places around town asking if I could eat jelly beans or a jelly sandwich instead (I had read this article that stated those were two different options). I finally landed on the phone with Edward Hospital right down the street from me. They allow you to eat a list of foods that are on a sheet of paper they provide and after two hours from finishing it go back and they draw your blood. I was sold! Little did I know I'd have to eat enough breakfast for both Collins and I. I usually don't eat a lot in the morning so it was a little rough but instead of drinking that nasty drink I didn't care :)

That morning I picked up my sheet of paper with instructions picked up Collins and Marty and we headed to Plainfield Delight for an interesting breakfast.

I had to eat the following: 1 glass of milk, 1 glass of OJ, 1 cup of decaffeinated tea, two plain pieces of toast with 1 tablespoon of jelly, 1 tablespoon of sugar/1 cup of cornflakes (I put them together and asked for Frosted Flakes which worked perfectly) and 1 egg. I think drinking most of the drinks was what screwed me up because I got full from that but I kept on chugging. With no help from Marty and Collins who both had wonderfully looking pancakes and bacon. ugh

Two hours later I went back to the hospital where they took my blood draw. Results when I see Dr. Khater on the 30th...fingers crossed.

Five Months Later

Now if you know me well then you know I am crazy, and waiting to become pregnant for five months I was the conductor for the crazy train. Getting pregnant with Sloane took one month of trying, Collins: two, and well with Knox SURPRISE! So Marty and I both went into this fourth time super cocky. Ha pun kind of intended. Five months is nothing. It takes the average couple six months to a year, but in our world we meaning I didn't have that time. I wanted to be pregnant yesterday. After the fourth month my crazy ass went to Dr. Khaters and cried asking what was wrong with me! Did the surgery clog something making it impossible to get pregnant!? He laughed at me. He said, "Ashley think of it as the lottery. You just so happened to hit the jackpot three times and unfortunately this time you aren't as lucky. You can get pregnant we know this, just have fun!" Uh just have fun. Hi I'm Ashley, I've lost two children, do you think my husband and I are actually having fun trying to make a baby. At this point it was a job, we wanted it so bad and I think that's why I was getting pregnant. I put two much stress on Marty and myself and frankly I was still conducting that crazy train (testing ovulation, special sperm friendly lubrication etc...).

After leaving Dr. Khater's office that day I said to myself, ok its ok just keep trying. We will get there. That exact month it happened...

I wasn't even "late" yet. Up until now after four months of trying I had taken probably a dozen negative tests. So when Marty went to go give Collins a bath in my head I thought just go take a test, we need some good news just maybe we got it this time. So I peed on the stick and threw it in the garbage because Collins came running into the bathroom and I didn't want Marty to know. Haha crazy I know. So once we got Collins in the tub and I knew Marty was distracted playing with her I hurried to the garbage just to check it, very well expecting it to be negative. When I finally saw those two lines I took one look at Marty and said OMG WE ARE PREGNANT!!! He just stared at me. He thought I was kidding (hence the 12 negatives from before).

We both cried and hugged and screamed in joy at Collins telling her how happy we all were, her included ha if she knew what was happening. Like I said before I wasn't even late so before I called Dr. Khater I waited at least a week in a half just so he didn't think I was completely 100% coo coo. Although I'm pretty sure he still does. So in the next two weeks I took two more tests just to make sure my HCG was rising (not proven but taking the newer tests as long as the "weeks" calculator rises it means your HCG is as well. And it was!

Here we go! At this point all of you reading have either shit your pants in disbelief or are smiling ear to ear. Either way I hope you are ready for this ride. Which is probably for the best I kept it a secret, because it's pretty stressful :)

One week post surgery

This will be the first post that will explain our "secret" journey. I am officially nine days post surgery and feeling pretty good. Before I get into all that lets go back a few weeks ago...

Marty and I had been working closely with an agency that specializes in Surrogates as well as a Fertility Doctor. Over a month Marty and I got all the information for what we thought was our last option to expand our family. To put it lightly, holy crap expensive. I am talking tens of thousands of dollars. At first we weren't letting that get in our way, but when it came down to it, it was unfortunately something we couldnt do.

A few days after Knox passed away, in all of our pain we knew we couldnt end our family on this note. I looked at Marty and said I cannot go through this again, but we need to have another baby. He made the comment about looking into a transabdominal cerclage and at that moment I wanted to punch him for even suggesting that. It was too soon. But it wasnt until after knowing that Surrogacy wasnt in the cards for us that we finally looked into it. 

If you google Dr. Haney Chicago Illinois you will be bombarded with tons of information regarding this God (that he is) of a surgeon who performs a Transabdominal Cerclage on more than 200 women a year. He has been doing this for close to 30 years and has only had an handful of negative outcomes. With this procedure, an encircling suture is placed above the cardinal and uterosacral ligaments.  Transabdominal cerclage is not frequently performed and is only indicated for those patients with previous failed cervical cerclages, shortened or amputated cervix, and/or deep traumatized cervix. Where as transvaginal (which I had with both Collins' & Knox are performed vaginally and are designed to reinforce the cervix at the level of the internal os.  This involves placing a stitch of strong thread or tape around the cervix, via the vagina, and tightening it to keep the cervix closed. 

We decided to have a consultation with Dr. Haney to even see if this would be an option. Mentally was I ready? Will I ever be? Physically I was 4 months out after loosing Knox so that was up to the doctors. To cut to the chase, after speaking with him it was 100% clear that this is what I should have had done before Collins, even before Sloane. This procedure isnt really talked about much because it is invasive and most doctors dont know much about it. Dr. Haney is 1 of 2 that perform this in the United States. He said we were lucky to have Collins. With my risk of infection and then placing the vaginal cerclage it was like playing a terrible lottery, clearly. It was a no brainer and he is 99% confident that we will come away with this with a baby, or two or three. Believe me I told him to back up and lets take this slow. 

Well lets fast forward to...

Last Saturday June 14th Marty and I made our way to the Surgical Center on Michigan Ave. We had a 7am surgery time so we checked into our hotel at 545am and got to the center right at 6am to meet Dr. Haney. A little back story, Dr. Haney usually does his procedures at the University of Chicago however on the weekends for his out of town/country patients he will do them at the Surgical Center and have you stay at the Four Seasons next door for 24 hours with a nurse. So being the celeb that I like to think I am we jumped on this :) I have already had a c-section with Collins so it was going to be easy as far as Dr. Haney getting to my cervix. Prep went ok besides not being able to get to my veins for an IV and all I can remember is kissing Marty and only making it to the hallway before I "fell asleep". I woke up about three hours later totally out of it. I asked Marty to take a picture of me and to send it to Taryn & Jessica. Why? Who knows haha. But the surgery went great, he was able to get two bands around my cervix and even fix my c-section scar. It couldn't have gone any better he said. 

We made our way to the Four Seasons with Christine my nurse who I would have for the next 24 hours. Recovery wasn't bad. Staying at the Four Seasons made it even better. Marty and I stayed in bed watching the whole first season of Orange is the New Black, ordering in for lunch and dinner and watching the World Naked bike Ride of Chicago from our hotel window. Just as gross as it sounds :)

Our View

Besides being checked on every hour, Christine was amazing :)

Now is the waiting game. The lets try and make a baby game. One we never thought we would be playing... here's to Marty looking at me and me getting pregnant! Just like the first 3 times :)