Thursday, July 26, 2012

PCOS: My story


Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of a female sex hormones. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other health changes.—ncbi.nlm.nih.gov


When I started typing up this blog post I thought I was going to go more in the direction of scientific facts about PCOS.  But, the more I think about it, the more that’s not what I want it to be about.  I am open to answering any questions about PCOS, and it’s symptoms, but I want to tell my story.


Before PCOS I never questioned the fact that I would be a mother.  It’s something all little girls dream of.  Once I started college I knew there was something wrong with my periods but I didn’t know what.  I was fairly active in high school, playing softball, and I knew that or the change of pace to college life, could change my cycles.  It finally got out of control and my mom took me to an ob/gyn.  One of her friends was a receptionist there, that’s how we picked the place. He did a routine first gynecology exam.  He put me on birth control because I wasn’t married and not trying to have kids.  He told me once I was ready to come back and we would discuss doing something different.  The birth control stabilized my cycles, but it also made me crazy.  At the time I was young and didn’t realize there are so many different kinds of birth control.  Or the fact that I could just call up the dr. and say I didn’t like the side effects and ask for something different. 


Fast forward to 2005.  I had stopped taking the birth control because my prescription ran out, I believe.  I had gotten married in October so I knew if I got pregnant I would be fine with it.  In December I found myself pregnant.  A few days later I found myself in the ER having the worst experience of my life.  I had been at work and was bleeding and cramping, both heavily.  By the time I got to the ER the bleeding has slowed tremendously, but I still had no doubt that something was wrong.  They took me to do an ultrasound, of the trans-vaginal variety.  I remember the tech asking me to insert the wand into myself.  I said “excuse me?”  She said that was the way I gave my consent.  I would much rather have signed a form.  There was no sign of a baby.  I had already lost it.  They gave me some pain pills after my mother in law demanded them, signed a form for me to have a day off work, and sent me home.  On that day, my life changed completely.  I will never be the same.  The innocence was gone. 


After we took a break for a while, we decided we were ready to actually try again for a baby.  I went back and the dr. told me to try 3 months without taking birth control and then we would do further testing.  I knew this wouldn’t work because I had been without birth control for a while.  And my period was pretty much a non-stop thing.  But, I did what he said.  When I went back and did the further testing he told me that I had PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome.  I immediately went to the internet to look it up.  It was a “duh” moment.  I had almost every symptom on the list.  Why had no one ever suggested that I had this?  But alas, you take some pills, ovulate, and get pregnant.  This wasn’t the end of the road.  He prescribed clomid for me to take at the beginning of my cycle.  That with timed intercourse would do the trick.  It was around this time that I got hardcore into tracking my cycle, and temping.  I went back for CD13 (cycle day 13) bloodwork.  He called me the next day to tell me that I had definitely ovulated.  Now to just wait to find out if I was pregnant.  I will tell you over and over that I have ZERO patience.  That applies to every aspect of my life.  I started taking home pregnancy tests long before I should have and finally was able to see a faint line.  I bought a digital test and saw that magical word, “PREGNANT.” But within days, I was bleeding.  First just a little, then more, then more.  I called the office one morning early and the Dr. called me back.  I told him I was bleeding and the nurse told me to call if it got worse.  He told me not to call him back “unless you feel like you are bleeding to death.”  I was taken aback.  I thought dr’s were supposed to be compassionate with this sort of thing.  I called Jacob’s aunt because she’s a nurse.  When she found out who my dr. was she made me an appt with her ob/gyn immediately.  She had worked with my current dr in a hospital setting and had seen him to less than favorable things. 


By the time I had my appointment with the new Dr, I had already spent more time in the ER and lost the baby.  It was heartbreaking to go to that first appt and have to explain to them that I was no longer pregnant.  But I loved the dr.  I loved her bedside manner, and I loved the fact that she didn’t write me off.  She started making plans.  Scheduling more tests, deciding what we should do next.  You’ll have to forgive me because I don’t remember exactly what happened, and since I wasn’t blogging then I don’t have the greatest records.  I know we did a lot of bloodwork.  That’s when she found out that I was in fact insulin resistant.  It’s one of the symptoms of PCOS, so there wasn’t any shock there.  She started me on a medication called Metformin.  It’s usually something that people with diabetes take.  But, it helps stabilize your blood sugar, which has a profound impact on ovulation.  We also did more ultrasounds to look and see how bad the cysts actually were.  The next step was to do more clomid.  Once again I don’t remember the exact protocol we did, and which cycles worked and which ones didn’t.  But eventually I became pregnant once again.


Before my blood work to confirm pregnancy I had already taken a home pregnancy test and seen that magic P word.  But when the nurse called me to tell me the results of my bloodwork she was shocked that I had gotten a positive home test.  She said my test results shouldn’t have been high enough at the time I tested to get a positive result.  They ordered more blood work 24 hours later.  The numbers were climbing, but not fast enough.  They weren’t even high enough to be able to see anything on ultrasound.  My dr personally called me at home one night after hours to tell me that there wasn’t anything we could do.  We just had to sit and wait to see what happened.  She hadn’t given up hope completely, but the outcome probably wasn’t going to be good.  She was right.  Eventually the bleeding became too much and I lost the baby. 


We decided to take a break from trying to conceive.  The tolls infertility takes on your marriage are extreme.  As a woman you feel like a failure as a wife.  I mean, one of the reasons a man gets married, is to continue his name.  When you can’t give your husband that, it isn’t pretty.  Jacob never made me feel like a failure.  It’s just the personal standards I had set for myself.  We notified my dr that we would be taking a break for a while, just to get grounded again and decide what our next step would be.   One of the last things she told me was to be careful.  Because the metformin can stabilize your blood sugar enough that you can ovulate on your own.  I kind of laughed to myself, because I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  But it did!
One day I got the urge to take a test.  I still had some stashed in the bathroom, and Jacob was out with his brother for the night, so I took a test.  It immediately turned positive and I thought the test must be broken, so I took another one, and the same thing happened.  I couldn’t believe it!  I called my dr the next day and she ordered bloodwork to confirm.  In the back of my mind I was still very concerned, because I had never had good bloodwork results.  But when they called me back I was in awe.  It was a number so high that I couldn’t believe it!  Our Lexi Rosemay was born on May 3, 2009 and she is truly our miracle!


After Lexi we knew we wanted more kids, but we weren’t going to rush anything.  I was out of work for a while after I had Lexi, so that meant I was without insurance.  In January 2012 we were preparing to move into our first home that we had purchased.  I had a job with insurance and even though we hadn’t talked about it, I think we both knew that “the talk” about when to start trying would be coming up soon. On February 14 I stopped on my way home from work and bought a dollar store pregnancy test.  I just hadn’t been feeling completely right lately, and even though I knew it was a long shot, I still wanted to test.  Once again, a super fast, super dark positive.  WHAT?!?  Because of PCOS I hadn’t even had a period since November.  I immediately started googling things.  And come to find out…you can ovulate without having a period.  Scheduled an appointment with my ob/gyn, who I hadn’t seen since my follow up after I had Lexi.  She was amazed.  I am still amazed.  Our Rex Allen is due October 1, 2012.  He is our second miracle. 


I have a lot of guilt about getting pregnant miraculously 2 times when I have so many deserving friends who are doing all kinds of treatments, and still can’t get pregnant.  But I have to push it aside.  I know I was chosen by God to be the mother to these 2 babies.  They are my miracles.  They give my life meaning.  I love them with my whole heart and then some. 


Am I still worried about PCOS?  Yes.  We know after Rex is born, we are done having kids.  Since we got married, we always knew we wanted 2.  Now we have to decide how to prevent pregnancy…something we haven’t done for several several years.   I don’t want to be tied down to taking a birth control pill every day for the rest of my life.  Jacob is completely willing to do his part.  But, even if he does that I will still have to do something or else my cycles will be completely out of sorts because of PCOS.  I’m too young to have a hysterectomy.  I know my dr. won’t do it.  And I’ve read some articles that state even if you have a hysterectomy all of your symptoms of PCOS won’t go away.  I could still suffer from the weight gain, acne, excess facial hair.  I still have lots of research to do before I decide what’s best for me. 
I do know that this isn’t the end of the road for me as far as talking about PCOS.  PCOS changed who I am.  And I will never stop advocating.  I will never stop offering advice.  I will never stop reading about it.  And until my baby girl has kids of her own, I will never stop worrying that it is something I have passed on to her.  Please know your body.  Please ask questions.  If there is anything I can do for you, please don’t be afraid to contact me!

Danielle.brigance@live.com


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aurora, Colorado: How can you help?

Updated with additional links 7/23/12


On Friday, July 20, 2012 a gunman attacks an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.  He killed at least 12 and wounded many others. 
20 minutes into the movie, in Theater 9 James Holmes entered the exit door to the right of the screen, threw in tear gas and then starts firing into the crowd.
I can’t imagine the fear and panic that immediately flooded the people in that theater.  It’s something I don’t want to imagine.  It’s something that I can’t wrap my head around.  How does someone have it in them to do this?
While I have been reading articles about this since I got to work yesterday morning and have been somewhat immersed in the story, I don’t want to focus on the man, James Holmes.  Part of me doesn’t even want to include his name in this blog.  I don’t want all the focus to be on him.  Honestly, I don’t want to learn more about him.  I don’t want to hear about how “normal” he was, and how no one thought he could ever do something like this.  The fact is he did it, and I hope he pays tremendously for his crime.  But, my focus here today is about what I can do, what you can do, to help the victims of this tragedy.  I have been searching for links about what aid is available at this time, and I haven’t been able to find many.  I hope to keep searching and find other things that I can update the blog with.  But this is what I’ve found.


Thrive With Confidence has organized a local gathering and donation drive in Aurora, CO., aimed at supporting the community during this time of need.  They will provide support for those affected.  Donations, such as food and bottled water are encouraged.  Donations can be delivered directly to the Rec Center at 15528 East Hampden Circle, Aurora, CO 80013.
For more information visit their Facebook Page


Simply choose "American Red Cross Colorado Chapters" to donate directly to the Aurora, CO area.

Bonfil Blood Center

If you follow this link you can search by location on where you can donate blood. The neat thing about this site is it shows permanent locations and blood drives. The center in Colorado has been booked solid since yesterday but you can set up an appointment for a set time to donate.  They have sent approximately 342 units of blood to 5 local hospitals treating the victims.  
They particularly need O-negative and A-negative blood to replenish their supply.
303-363-2300


Huffington Post Impact/Crowdrise Fundraiser


"Your contribution will go to the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that funds relief projects.  New Venture will distribute donations to organizations such as charities, churches and hospitals supporting the families of victims.  In some istances, donations will go to directly to families.  Donations accepted here."


Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance


COVA helps heal those who have been affected by crime.  COVA is working with the Aurora Police Department to coordinate donations for victims of Friday's mass shooting.  To donate:  Send a check to COVA at 90 Galapagos Street, Denver, CO 80223 or at Giving First.

You can also follow them on facebook and twitter for updates and information.

If family or friends need to check the status of a family member they can call 303-739-1862 or 303-739-1863.

United Way Denver

United Way is working to reunite families with lost loved ones who they believe may have been victims of the Aurora shooting.  Those looking for missing relatives can contact the organization's 211 hotline for help.

To support United Way Denver, click here.


I know this list isn't much.  But if at least one person could donate because they saw the links here, then it's worth my time.  Like I said, I will continue to research and hopefully be able to add more things to the list.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Exciting Day

This is a pregnancy related post, so if you don't feel like hearing about that, here's your change to leave.



Ok...
I woke up this morning to blood when I wiped.  I automatically got panicky because ya know, blood in pregnancy is never a good sign.  And I've been having some whopper contractions.  I called the answering service at my ob's office.  My ob called me back in probably less than 5 minutes and told me what time she would be at the office.
Jacob and I dropped Lexi off at the baby sitter's and headed to the ob's office.  She checked me with the speculum and couldn't find any blood.  She had them send my urine off to be tested for a UTI because that could cause blood.  She then checked me for dilation.  Not the best feeling process, but definitely necessary.  She said I was not dilated at all, which is great.  I just knew that I was going to be dilated some.
I told her that I felt like Rex is going to just fall out when I walk, there's that much pressure.  She assured me that wouldn't happen.  As we were leaving she kinda joked that we wouldn't make it 11 more weeks.  Realistically if I make it 7 more weeks that would be awesome for me.
I went and got an ultrasound to check the location of the placenta, which was great.  The amount of fluid, which was great.  And the length of the cervix, which was great at 3.61 cm.  We still couldn't get a good shot of his face because he had his hand up there.  But he moved around a ton to let us know he didn't like his space being invaded.  We also didn't see/hear the arrhythmia this time around so that's really good.
Over all it was a great appt for an emergency.  I heard everything I needed to hear.  I was terrified about being admitted for any length of time, and being placed on bedrest.  That didn't happen today.  So, there's one more week I can have a paycheck.  I'm sure there will be more on that subject coming up soon.
I have been pretty sore from all the action down below today, so I've been trying to take it easy.  So hopefully I can get a good night's sleep and finish off the work week.

Rex Allen,

Stay put and stop scaring your mommy so much!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

28 Week Bump Update

*How far along?: 28 weeks 3 days
 *Total weight gain: I'm right around the even point.
 *How big is baby?: 3 pounds
 *Sleep?: I generally don't sleep for more than a couple hours at a time without having to wake up and use the potty.
 *Best moment this week?: Getting to see his sweet face on the ultrasound
 *Movement? He is definitely a mover. Constantly! 
 *Food cravings?: Nothing in particular, but when something happens to cross my mind I need it right now. 
*Labor signs?: I have had a few contractions, but nothing major.
 *Belly button in or out?: Still in.
 *What I miss: Being able to sleep on my belly. 
 *What I’m looking forward to: Jacob feeling more movement.  Rex moving so I am not in as much pain.



Letters to Alexia

I know she just had a whole blog devoted to her, but I feel like I should share her formal letter that is in her book.

Lexi-
You are so big and smart!  You come home every day and ask to do schoolwork with Daddy.  You have started tracing lines and shapes.  Hopefully we can get you writing your name soon.

You love to play games on Daddy's I-Pad and read stories on Mommy's Kindle.

You love to go to Miss Bethany's house every day and play with Brayden.  We still aren't decided on if he's your boyfriend or your best friend (wink.)  Yesterday you saw me crying and you automatically burst into tears.  You have such a sweet soul.  You remind me so much of my own heart.

You ask me about Rex all the time and you tell everyone that his name is baby Rex Allen.  You love to kiss my belly and talk to him.  You were laying on my belly and Rex kicked your back.  I don't know what you thought had happened.  I can't even begin to explain to you how much we love you.
I love to see your experience life with your whole family.  You still aren't sure about Pa (Claude) but we are trying to get you to not say that you don't like him.  You are scared of him because he is loud and gets in your face.  But Lexi - he loves you more than life.  All you girls make his world.
You love to stay all night with Nanny and Poppy - and make Poppy sleep on the couch.
Nanny lets you do whatever you want pretty much.
You also love to go to Aunt Lisa's because she takes you to the library and lots of fun places.
You have been swimming with Daddy and Aunt Twila this summer and you really love that.
Our favorite Mommy and Lexi time is having slumber parties in the big bed.  We love to snuggle up, watch cartoons, and read stories until we fall asleep.  Then mommy takes lots of pictures of you and steals lots of kisses.
We love you so much!

Love Mommy!


Letters to Rex

28 Weeks 2 days This is from our journal Rex Allen- You are quite the little stinker. You are always on the move it seems like. At our appt. Monday you weighed 3.3 pounds. We couldn't get a good picture of your face because you kept pulling your head back. You are still head up - which I could tell because your movement hasn't changed spots. You also have an arrhythmia with your heart. Dr. Lakin didn't seem concerned. She said it will probably heal itself before you are born, But we will watch it closely. You already have been causing a stir with pains and contractions. You are leading up to being just as big of a trouble maker as your big sister was. Daddy got to feel you move a lot the other day. We joked that it felt like you were running a marathon like Aunt Lisa. Lexi talks to you and asks about you all the time. We all love you so very much! Love Mommy!

The only picture of your face


Sunday, July 8, 2012

My sweet hearted Lexi

I was laying bed today, rather upset. Lexi came in to ask me if she could read stories on my kindle. She saw my crying an automatically teared up. Which made me cry harder. This isn't the first thing she has done this. She can not handle seeing me in pain. She was meticulously wiping my tears and telling me that I'm soaking wet, all at the same time that I'm trying to console her. My fear is that I have damaged her. That not only will she remember these times where she seems me crying in bed, but that somehow she will remember all the times when she was a colicky newborn and I lost my patience with her crying. I don't want to screw up her and Rex's lives. I want everything to be perfect for them. Lexi, You are my whole life. I love to sneak in and watch you sleep. I love to kiss your hands and your cheeks. I love to stroke your hair. I love when we have sleepover nights and we can cuddle all night long, until it's time to get up and go to work in the morning. I love how much you already love your baby brother. I love how you kiss and touch my belly. I love how you tell everyone about Baby Rex Allen. You are already his protector. You ask me almost every day if Rex Allen is ok. I already know you are going to be the greatest big sister. But, I see beyond that too. I see a lot of myself in you. I can let myself get completely wrapped up and distraught over people I don't even know and their hurt. I see this happening in your heart. I see your empathy working, and it's something I'm so proud of. I know you can truly feel sorry for people, already at your young age. Your heart is sweet and pure and amazing. Thank you for showing me all I need to be in life.

irrational fears?

Yesterday I had 3 contractions. They were spread out over 3 hours. They weren't painful, and I possibly wouldn't have even known that they were contractions if I hadn't experienced them before. The fact that I'm only 28 weeks tomorrow only slightly terrifies me. It's way too early for this to start happening. Then I have been having some heart palpitations. It makes me kind if short of breath when it happens. And of course it's frightening when anything happens with your heart. I have read that it is fairly common in pregnancy due to the extra blood flow, but I do have an ob spot tomorrow so I will bring it up. When I had the second contraction yesterday I was at my mom's. I kinds just zoned out. I had this completely panicked feeling. I know part of it is due to lack of control. I have a type a personality. I have to be able to plan things. And I am realizing that once again laborious and delivery isn't going to be something I can plan. I don't want another long hospital stay. I don't want my baby to be in the nicu again. I have had a few fairly bad headaches in the past week. That scares me because I had a fee really good weeks. I don't want them to get out of control again. And then just the fact that I have all these things, plus more running through my head all the time makes me feel even more panicked and out if control.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

ugly words

Twice within 2 weeks something has been said to me about my weight. So i get it...I'm big. I was big before, and I am only 3 lbs heavier now than I was before pregnancy. Maybe i'm a little extra sensitive. But maybe you should watch what you say about me....especially if you're going to tell me that you were talking about me. Maybe I should get some rest and it will be better in the morning.