This part is the history behind Kaiden's conception, aka our TTC journey. If you're squeamish, turn away now! Don't worry, it's not pornographic but it is a bit graphic.
I'll start this out with what we went through, and end it with my beliefs because of what happened.
We first started not trying, not preventing in Dec of '04. No pregnancies . . . we thought that the stress from my job (not my job per say, but the people I worked for) was part of the reason I wasn't getting pregnant. Since we planned for me to be a stay-at-home mom anyway, Nick highly encouraged me to quit my job and just stay home. After much consideration (and many frustrating events at work) I finally agreed and left in Feb '06.
A short four months later, we had our first pregnancy. Within a week of finding out, I knew something was wrong. I had excruciating pain in my left side and spotting. I went to the local clinic several times, and each time they sent me away saying I was "just having a miscarriage" and to go home and wait it out. I read about other women's experiences of miscarriage and it didn't fit at all. I felt strongly that I had an ectopic pregnancy with internal bleeding. After 3 weeks of trying to convince the doctors, they finally agreed that it was ectopic, and I was bleeding internally. And they still sent me home, and told me to set up my surgery for the next day with Outpatient Surgery. That was a disaster. Nobody knew what procedures were scheduled, who was doing the surgery, or what was going on. During the surgery, the nurses reported to Nick a bunch of conflicting information. They were taking the ovary, they weren't taking the ovary, or was it the tube?? After the surgery, the doctor came out to Nick and said, (and I quote) "she only needs one" and left. One what? One ovary, one tube, what?? Nobody would answer my questions after the surgery and the doctor claimed he never received my (several) messages. I had to watch my surgery video and compare it to others online to figure out what happened in there. At the post-op appointment, the doctor dropped another bombshell: It was twins. One in the left tube, half of which they removed, and the other was in the uterus, very deteriorated (this is called a heterotopic pregnancy). So deteriorated that it didn't test positive as a "product of conception". He also said that he didn't have to remove my left tube, but did it anyway because I still had my right tube and that one was fine.
After this, we began actively trying to conceive and 5 months after the surgery, I was pregnant again. And one week later, the spotting began and I miscarried and thought it was over. Turns out it wasn't. I was suprised to find out at my follow up doctor appointment (I went to a different clinic this time) that I was still indeed pregnant. The doctor felt it was another ectopic, but refused to do an ultrasound to confirm and encouraged me to terminate. Without confirmation, I refused to terminate the pregnancy. What if they were wrong? Turns out I was wrong and they were right, it was another ectopic and this time I lost the entirety of my right tube. Since I had also miscarried, it meant this was another heterotopic pregnancy. One is rare, but two back to back is extremely rare.
We moved on to IVF (invitro fertilization) and I became pregnant for the 3rd time at the end of 2007 with the transfer of 2 fresh embryos. I gave the local clinic another chance. Given my history, I asked they be extremely thorough and careful in the event of another ectopic or heterotopic pregnancy. Even with IVF, the risk exists. Instead, they assured me that would never happen and only did a quick sweep for the first fetal ultrasound. The nurse practitioner (who "specializes in ultrasounds") saw one sac in the uterus that was behind in development. Looking back, I know I ruptured the very next day. Because they only did a quick look, they never saw the healthy baby with a heartbeat that had implanted into the tiny opening where my right tube would be if I still had one. It ruptured out of my uterus and I lost half my blood volume into my abdomen. I didn't know it at the time. The symptoms I had I associated with being pregnant and having been on IVF meds - fatigue, bloating, constipation. It wasn't until 3 days later when I noticed a sharp pain in my shoulder when I bent over and took a breath at the same time. I happened to mention it to my RE's (reproductive endocrinologist, IVF doctor) nurse as we talked about blood test results. They told me to go straight to the ER, as it sounded like a blood clot, which can be a side effect of the IVF meds.
We went to the ER, and it took them 7 hours to find the problem. They did a cat scan and an abdominal ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech was able to find the baby's heartbeat (mind you, we didn't know about baby #2 - I thought it was the sac in the uterus the nurse practitioner saw at my first fetal ultrasound) and I was elated. I did notice that the placement didn't look right, but the ultrasound tech wasn't concerned so I blew it off. Later that night the on-call OB performed another ultrasound and confirmed our worst fears. The healthy baby was not in my uterus. I was rushed into surgery, where they took the healthy baby and stitched me back up, leaving the sac that was behind in development within the uterus. It didn't have a good prognosis.
After this mess of gross incompentence for which we filed complaints, I chose to be monitored by a clinic that specialized in high risk pregnancies. If the baby in utero was going to develop, I was very high risk having just had a ruptured uterus. The baby did not develop; it became what is known as a blighted ovum, an empty sac. Because of the rupture, I could not have a D&C and I refused meds to terminate as my RE said those meds could interfere with our chances of conceiving in the future with IVF. So I waited it out . . . 8 long weeks . . . finally at 15 weeks gestation, I miscarried the empty sac. This was now our 3rd consecutive heterotopic pregnancy. So rare it is totally unheard of . . . try to find somebody else who has been through that!
The RE felt my body was healed enough to do a FET (frozen embryo transfer, we had 3 frozen embryos left) and we proceeded in June of '08. (Sadly, we lost our beloved female rottie Iria to osteosarcoma a week and a half before the transfer. Honey, our rescued female rottie then entered our lives although she later succumbed to blastomycosis from her days as a stray.) The RE's office had a bit of miscommunication - we only wanted 1 embryo thawed and transferred, and they thawed two. As it turns out, it didn't matter. The first one totally disintegrated upon thawing and the second lost 3 of its 7 cells. So they thawed the last embryo, which came through perfectly. They transferred what I like to call 1 1/2 embryos, and I became pregnant with Kaiden. We don't know which embryo he resulted from but it could have been either. All we knew was that I was finally pregnant the right way, in the right place, and I was being monitored at a clinic that specialized in high risk pregnancies.
The pregnancy itself was fairly uneventful at first, with some dehydration induced spotting that lasted for 3 weeks. As all women are, they offered the option of having an amnio done at 12 weeks to test for various things. We declined. Kaiden was our last embryo and we were out of money to go another round of IVF and I wasn't about to do anything that could possibly cause a miscarriage. An amnio carries that risk. At the 19 week ultrasound it was determined without a doubt that we were having a boy - Kaiden was not shy and put the goods on display for all to see!! The doctors also noticed Kaiden had a shortened nasal bone and told us we now had a 10% chance Kaiden could have Down Syndrome and sent me to Maternal Fetal Medicine for another look and the offer of an amnio, which I refused. They said, as all doctors seem to these days, that if it came back as positive, we could terminate. I told them, after all we've been through, who cares if Kaiden has Down Syndrome! We WANT this child, no matter what, period!
The pregnancy progressed. I must be the luckiest woman alive, during all 4 pregnancies - especially Kaiden's pregnancy, I never got sick. I felt great and had tons of energy - so much I had trouble sleeping. My only discomfort stemmed from carrying him so high that he kicked me under my ribcage. And he was so high that heartburn was constant. Then I began hemorrhaging at 7 months. Although mostly painless, the amount of gushing blood was frightening. The first time was maybe 1/2 cup (it was at this time we lost our wonderful rescued female rottie Honey as she succumbed to blasto. I was not allowed to grieve for her because every time I got upset, the contractions would start. Soon after, our current female rottie Lola entered our lives). The second time was probably a full cup. The third time, I don't even know how much it was but I knew it was very bad. Nick later said the upstairs looked like a murder scene from me running from the bedroom to the bathroom where I continued to gush blood into the toilet. At that point, I knew I wasn't coming home from the hospital until Kaiden was born, which was supposed to be another 3 weeks away. (Because of the previous rupture, I was to have a scheduled c-section at 36 weeks so I wouldn't go into labor and rupture again.)
The placenta had other plans. All the bleeding irritated my uterus so bad I went into premature labor and no meds would stop it. Finally, the doctors decided to see how I did without meds since they weren't doing any good. They said if I had more than 6 contractions in an hour, Kaiden would be born early. Shortly after stopping the meds, I began having 6 contractions per minute and was freaking out over the possibility of another rupture. Within a couple hours, Kaiden was born via emergency c-section. I only got a glimpse of him as they rushed him to the NICU. I have to say, the c-section was an interesting experience - I got to ask the doctor all sorts of questions about my insides while she literally had her hands in there and could answer me.
Kaiden spent 6 weeks in the NICU to finish growing. Overall, he did very well and exceeded his doctors' expectations at every turn. He got to come home on March 10th, 4 days before his original full-term due date.
My spiritual beliefs differ from the norm. I was raised Catholic, and no longer consider myself so. I believe we schedule certain events/people into our lives before we incarnate, specifically to learn from them. Not predestination by any means . . . I believe it is up to us what we learn from the experience - and if we don't learn what we wanted to learn we may repeat that experience whether in this life or the next. So what does this mean in regards to Kaiden? Looking back over it all . . . if we had conceived early on rather than waiting so long to even think about it . . . we probably would have agreed to an amnio and if the baby had tested positive for Down Syndrome . . . we may have chosen to terminate. Not saying we would have, but doctors so highly encourage parents to do so. What if every successive pregnancy had turned out the same way, a baby with Down Syndrome? I think we went through what we went through to ensure we would want our baby no matter what. And I suppose it helped that we didn't have the financial option of trying again if the FET failed. Kaiden chose us as parents, and we chose him to be our son long before we set foot on earth. That's what I believe.
Even Lola chose Kaiden before he was born. We went to the breeder to see a 4 month old pup as we knew Carl, our (sadly, very recently deceased) senior male rottie, needed a companion. This pup completely ignored us. The breeder then brought out a 3 month old pup, who immediately barreled toward me and gently put her gigantic paws on my pregnant belly. Then she went to Nick, then to the other pups to play. She repeatedly came back to me and and placed her paws on my belly. We took her home. I even have a picture of her snoozing cuddled up, with her head resting on my belly.
Kaiden is one incredibly special, very much loved little boy! I couldn't ask for a more perfect child. Even with his latest accomplishement of exorcist-style temper tantrums! :)