Photographic evidence

While on my disappearing act from the internet world, I have been growing a baby and there is little evidence of it.  I kind of like it that way.

Because the Child is an awesome friend who just happens to be an aspiring photographer (I say she is one, she feels she needs appropriate education first, so fair enough).  Either way, she is good with a camera and she comes cheap (as in we paid her in ice cream and love), we did the whole cliche thing and had some “maternity photos” taken.

I love pictures.  I don’t love pictures of me.  And when you are 36 weeks pregnant, it is even more challenging to love pictures of yourself.  Just saying.  Plus, it isn’t like we are get photos taken people.  We are the kids that didn’t have engagement photo shoots and had the Child and Patrick’s Aunt take our wedding photos.  I wasn’t so sure about the whole pregnant belly picture thing.  The weekly belly picture thing was a definite no (although it would have maybe proved to some people sooner rather than later that I really do look pregnant).

Needless to say, after some peer pressure and parental convincing and some weird sort of gut feeling that told me I really should do this, we decided to do the photo shoot thing.

And you know what?  It was fun.  And not just because I got a nice scoop of peanut butter fudge crunch in the end.

So, here are a couple of the lovely photos from the adventure (photo credit to the Child who has a blog she doesn’t update here: https://everydaysnapsblog.wordpress.com).

Excuses, excuses…

Hello world,

It’s me, Trisha.  The one who used to blog here daily and then it slowed down to a few times a week.  And, it seems that I haven’t posted a thing in something like 3 months.  That is a long time for me.

Confession…  In the time I haven’t been blogging, I also haven’t been reading many blogs, at least not ones that I regularly follow.  Heck, I haven’t even read many books that weren’t intended to teach me things about cancer or radiation.

I’m still alive.  Promise.

Are you ready for the giant list of excuses?  I have them.  And I think they are relatively legitimate.  But really, I know *most* people aren’t looking for excuses.  It’s not like this is my job or main life commitment. 

That being said, I really like blogging.  And really missed it (I know, then why did I stop doing it for so long?).  I have ton of things I would like to write about. 

My main excuse is the fact that I am very pregnant.  As in the Creature could make an appearance any day now.  And in the past few months, much of my energy has been put into growing this little creature or figuring out how to make our home/life hospitable.

Next up, I’m a resident.  Yes, I know lots of people are.  But, the combination of pregnant and resident is a whole lot to deal with.  Especially when you have issues with being a chronic overachiever who bites off more than they can chew, doesn’t want to say no to anything and has to do well on every single rotation.

Lastly, I have a life with other commitments.  I like my family and my friends and my church.  They all require time from me. 

So, by the time I got split into those three things, making sure I was clean, fed and got some semblence of sleep, there was little time left for blogging.  Sure, I had time I could have used for blogging or fun reading, but mostly, I wasted it mindlessly staring at the TV or What To Expect forums (more on those some other time).

Excuses, excuses. 

In summary (as if this is some sort of essay or proposal), I wish I wrote more, but I didn’t.  Now, I am going to try again.  Let’s see how this goes…

 

24 Weeks!

Today is the magical 24 weeks.

Hello, “viability”!

What do I mean? I mean the point in gestation where most North American hospitals consider infants born to have enough potential to live that they will try to resuscitate them. It ranges from 22-26 weeks, but 23 or 24 is the point I was taught.  Plus, at 24 weeks, at least half of the little ones born survive with the help of modern medicine.

As a crazy medical person, this is significant. Because I like my kid and want to keep it around. And because I know how the medical system works and fear the choices I would have to make or have made for me before this point. And yes, there would still be tough choices now and even at 40 weeks. Things go wrong. I know too many bad things. But, I also know the probability of good things increases on a weekly basis from here on out.

So, hooray for babies the size of an ear of corn. Who kick and roll around and grow at a good pace. Who give their mothers lumberjack sized appetites.

I hope this little one keeps cooking.  Because we are literally nowhere near ready for a baby to actually be in the house.  And I still have rotations to finish (and have a (what some people consider) lofty goal of working to 40 weeks).  And like many others, I fear childbirth and want to put it off as long as reasonable.

On a related aside, I’m obviously not a photographic/blog pregnancy documentarian. Those sorts of posts were a strange mix of fascinating and heartbreaking to me before, so I am choosing to skip them.

But, this was a milestone I looked forward to most after the disappearance of the mind numbing morning sickness and the 20-ish week ultrasound. So, I thought I’d share my joy.

My Study Buddy

I’m studying.  Again.

You see, I have another sporadically scheduled treatment planning exam this Tuesday.  I had one last Tuesday (which got cancelled… And has yet to be rescheduled… UGH).  It seems that I have a “get me to do something” sign taped to my face.  This week’s topic is Rectal Cancer.  Last week’s was Small Cell Lung Cancer.  We can’t get much further apart.

I spent my morning picking up a few things at the grocery store and cleaning (ah, I do love a clean house (just don’t look in the guest/to-be-baby room or our room)).  I have mac and cheese in the slow cooker and the oven preheating to make some veggie crisps (looked like a good idea on the internet).  Patrick is playing Wii with his little brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters (great organization, by the way).

I decided to hole up finally and get some studying done.

I can’t study on my own anymore.  I have these two study buddies.  One goes everywhere with me, thanks to a little thing I call the placenta.  The other is the feline that can only travel as far as the confines of the apartment (hypothetically).

Jeter has a strange obsession with sticking nearby.  Today, he passed out on my textbooks.  Including the one I wanted to read. 10325749_10153286555099316_5885870976480320603_n

Silly cat.

Plus, the placenta attached study buddy is having a small dance party in my uterus.

Clearly these folks are not the best study partners.  They did not get the memo.

So, I’m updating my phone and my laptop and writing a blog post.  With a textbook open in front of me.  If it is open, it at least half counts, right?

Waiting, Anticipation, Hope and Gifts

‘Tis the season of anticipation.

Anticipation of holidays, anticipation of time with family and friends, of presents and for some of us, for anticipation of a celebration of the birth of our Saviour.

Anticipation is a part of waiting. Waiting can be hard. But, sometimes the wait is well worth it.

Look at the Jewish people in the Bible before Jesus’s time. They waited a long time for a Saviour. So long that some had given up hope and many had ideas of how He should look or be.

And of course, in the way God only can do, Jesus came in an unexpected fashion. In a way that defies our human expectations. I think that is so cool.

Sometimes God makes our lives like that. The things we anticipate, that we long for sometimes come in ways that we don’t fully look for or expect. I think it is a good lesson when I look at the way the world is headed or when things aren’t going according to plan. God’s plans sometimes get a bit weird or outside our expectations.

I think anticipation and hope is a form of worship. As we look forward to the Christmas season, I see hope in all kinds of ways, and really if our hope is in the right place and our anticipation is looking forward to celebrating well, it is a good thing.

Our life has recently had some moments where our anticipation and waiting turned into a more discouraging time. As we waited and hoped for a baby to come into and stay in our lives, we began to learn what hoping and trusting looks like when things start to fall away from what we anticipated, when pain keeps creeping in. Sure, we trusted, but I can relate to those who started to think otherwise when waiting on God to do something big. Who let bitterness and distrust sneak in. Because it can be easier to let that happen sometimes. Even though so many awesome things happen every day.

But, cool stuff happens when God is involved. I found out about “the Creature” the day before Patrick’s birthday. I told him as a part of his birthday present. Because after this long waiting, news of a baby really is a birthday present. “The Creature” is due just a few days before my birthday. Pretty cool.

I was thankful for the nausea, for the fatigue. Because that meant something was happening. It was affirming what we had been waiting for. That being said, I then started hoping for it to stop, but continued to (oddly enough) thank God everyday for the barfing (but confirming that it could stop anytime).

Laying in bed one night praying, I came to the realization that so many people had been praying for us, for a maybe baby and how lucky we are to have so many people in our lives who support us and intervene for us. It blew my mind how this was planned by God and seemed so intentional now, even though for so long it just seemed like we were forgotten.

We had our first (and only) ultrasound so far just a couple days before what should have been Elim’s due date. Seeing a flickering heart and a tiny human at a point when my heart was breaking was a big gift in and of itself.

On Friday, we got to hear “the Creature’s” heartbeat galloping along. Merry Christmas. There really still is a tiny human in there who will eventually come out.

So the anticipation continues. For this child, probably for others and all kinds of other things.  And I know it will persist the rest of my life.

The wait was worth it. I see that now. I see the trust that grew from that wait, the witness that it was and the growth we experienced. We learned practical lessons about suffering well and waiting well. In retrospect, I’m glad for the wait. It has taught me about how to love others in the midst of waits.  I think it is helping me to celebrate well.

Sometimes the best gifts come in ways that weren’t planned or expected in our human put-things-in-a-box way. Sometimes our anticipation makes things even better. Although my baby pales in comparison to the epic beauty of the Christmas story, I can see how lessons in waiting and hoping and not putting God into my human realm box can parallel the story and make me get how big it really is to an even greater.

My first band concert (in a long time)

Today was my first band concert and what turns out to be almost 7 years!

I played my last band concert with the previous community band I was in in August of 2008 just before I started med school.  That was 6 and ½ years ago.

This makes me feel super old.

And so does this band sometimes.

As I said before, it is a “feeder” band and is mostly made up of junior high and high school students and their parents and then people like me who used to play in band but haven’t in a while.  So, the band that I often call the “good” band often calls us “the kids.”  Funny enough there is an age range in our band that I am smack in the middle of (although in near the older edge of that, I think).

The concert went fantastically.  The “good” band is AMAZING.  I could listen to them all day and they remind me of a somewhat better version of the band I played in in university.  The band I’m in played really well, and I think our sound was great even though many of our pieces are on the simpler side of things.

Patrick came and cheered me on like the awesome husband he is.

I remembered how much I missed performing in this kind of setting.  I’m so glad I am doing this and plan to keep on with it even after the baby and residency inclusive if both let me.

Also, speaking of baby and band, I am finally starting to look a little pregnant and not just fat.  As a result, I was stopped by an older man in the “good” band this afternoon on my way to the bathroom before the concert and he asked me if I was one of the kids in the 9am band.  I told him am in the 9am band (and refrained from the kid question).  And he asked again, are you one of the kids or are you older, so I told him I’m older, like way out of high school older.  He told me that was good because his wife pointed out to him that I was pregnant and they were concerned if I was a kid (or something like that… I was busy being puzzled by what was happening to get the exact wording).  I told him I’m happily married, have a career and am a good 10 years or more older than the “kids”.

It made me laugh pretty hard.  Partly because that was a bold statement (I could just be fat and I could be a teenager) and partly because I couldn’t believe that conversation really just happened.

Patrick took me out for a quick supper on the way home, so that I can spend my evening focusing on studying (and procrastinating while writing this blog post… whoops).

The Cat’s Out of the Bag

So, I have an excuse and an announcement.

I haven’t been posting very often because my life has been consumed with trying to do my job adequately, sleeping and trying not to throw up.

Jeter has helped me out with the announcement part with his new choice reading material…IMG_0463 IMG_0469There is a tiny human growing inside me and in June, the M family will contain 3 humans (and a giant cat).  Really, it has 3 humans now, but one of them can’t live not inside of me.

Because of past events, my healthcare background (aka my insane ability to worst case scenario any possible health event because I have either seen it or have heard of it) and social norms (I know, I’m not always big on social norms, but fear was a big driver in this once) we decided to keep this whole thing on the down low until I hit the “magical” 12 week mark (which I don’t actually think is that magical).  So, now that we have released the gag orders on our parents and best friends and told our friends from our old small group, my “other mothers” and our church family, I get to tell the blogesphere (because not only am I now the kind of person who announces their pregnancy with annoying cat photos, I am the person who tells the internet).

Stuff got so much more real over the weekend (and strangely, will be a bit more real when I hit “publish”).

Funny how other people being in on your little gift from God can do that.

The cat is out of the bag, so they say.

So, yay new life who we celebrate every day because I get such frequent reminders of what a gift it really is.  I know I am so fortunate I am to get to be sick and tired and slowly expansile.  Sometimes waiting for something is hard, but the lessons in that wait are huge.  I keep seeing that piece more and more every day (more on that later too).

To Elim, On Your Estimated Due Date

Dear Elim,

I thought I would write to you on this, your estimated due date, to say a few things that have been on my heart. Had we not lived in this fallen world, you would be in my arms by now or I would be just itching to have you the heck out of me so we could cuddle and do all that newborn-mommy stuff. But alas, that was not how it was to be.

I want you to know first of all that I love you. And I always will. Even though I barely knew you, I know God made you and I will cherish our short time together before you went to heaven to be with Jesus. A lot of other people loved you and mourned your short life too.

I miss you. I miss what could have been. But, I am so happy you are in heaven now. That you are safe and protected and loved. One day, I’ll actually get to meet you and that will be awesome.

You are a gift. You are an answer to prayers and longings. And you were used by God to teach me big lessons about redemption, real love and how to celebrate well and suffer well.

Because of you, I appreciate new lives more. I appreciate the miracle that it is to see a pregnancy progress and babies be born and children who grow. I want to celebrate new lives instead of hiding them with secrets and fear. I will be honest and say, I also know how fragile life can be and it scares me a little and that is okay. I empathize better with other Moms and Dads who have to miss their kids until they see them again for all kinds of reasons.

Because of you, your Dad and I got to learn to lean on God and each other a whole lot more. We got to grow up more (which I’m sure sounds crazy because we are theoretically grown ups, but even grown ups have more growing to do).  We got to see God do amazing things with what seemed like a terrible situation.  That is what He does, but I suppose you had that figured out already.

I been counting down to this day for many months. Not because of some sick fascination or because I wanted to feel sad or bad. Just out of instinct. I like numbers and it is simple math to know where I would have been with you at any given point. Plus, today’s date has been etched in my mind. And to be honest, I wanted to remember when you would have hypothetically come into this world. Just like I will remember when I knew you went out. Because I care. These are important moments, even though others may not see them as such.

You will have brothers or sisters, maybe both someday. I will be grateful for each of them and know them as individuals. I pray every day that they get the chance to grow up and that it will hopefully be a long time before you meet them (no offense). I also pray that they will all one day meet you in heaven. Know that in my heart you will always have a special place and when they are ready and old enough to understand, I will tell them about you.

You count in my kid count in my heart. So, happy “birthday.”

Love you always and forever,

Mom

G1P0A1

G1P0A1.

This was one of those weeks where you just can’t help but remember.

I went to visit my family doctor for the first time since we lost Elim today for some general prescription refills.  She did the right thing and asked how I was doing since the loss, if we were trying again and then reminded me that at least I know I can get pregnant.

I know.

She sent me off saying that she hoped she saw me again soon with good news.

Me too.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t exist in perpetual fear of another loss. Some days I wonder about losses that I don’t know about.

But, in that appointment, with our conversation, I realized that watching someone type those letters and numbers was bizarre.

G1P0A1.

In medicine, we have what I liken to a secret code when it comes to describing women and pregnancy. G means gravida. Number of pregnancies. P means para. Number of babies born after 20 weeks. A means aborta. Number of babies delivered before 20 weeks. Some expand it to GTPAL with G being number of pregnancies, T term deliveries, P preterm delivieries, A induced abortions or miscarriages and L live children.

When I learned this system, I found it awful. I found it really tough to keep straight and was forever getting my Gs and Ps mixed up. Plus, it bothered me that A was for both induced abortion and spontaneous abortion. People often specified, but both caused pain and one can have repercussions on future pregnancies if recurrent.

The system bothered me because you could look at those numbers and see joy or pain or fear. At least I could. My heart broke for people who had more Gs than Ps. I hated to ask about losses because I didn’t want to bring up that pain. For me, there was always something devastating about pregnancy loss. It was always something I worried about.

On the other side of the desk, knowing what it means, it still sucks. I think my fear of bringing it up with women was a bit excessive. I was uncomfortable then because it bothered me, not them. I mean, it is a fact of life and it kills me more when people ignore the fact that I had that loss than when they ask about it. I guess I needed to see that for myself.

I was grateful that she cared enough to ask how things were and where we were at.

Still. Seeing it on a screen was weird. Especially when I have thought it before. And knowing that really, months before Elim, there could be another G and A that I suspected, but never confirmed because it all happened so fast. It could be G2P0A2. But, I won’t know in this lifetime. And I think I’m okay with that because I never really knew for sure.

G1P0A1.

What if those numbers never change? What if the Gs change but the Ps never do? What if I match my Gs for Ps from here on out?

I can’t predict the future. I wish I could sometimes, but I can’t.

The things I do know are that I am healthy, that God is good and that there is so much to this life that I don’t understand. I know how much good has come out of our journey so far. That I have grown in leaps and bounds in my faith. That we have been tested as a couple and as individuals and keep coming out the other side. The experience has helped me to love other people in ways that I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

I don’t talk about it a whole lot. I has become easier, but I miss my little A1 every day. Maybe I’ll tell you more about that one day.

It freaked me out to see the letters and numbers on the screen. Sometimes the letters and numbers in your head seem not so real until you realize someone else acknowledges the reality of the situation. In another sense, it made me feel better because it is only one, it is real and it is normal.
God is good. His timing is perfect. I am trying to hope in Him and not my future children (or job or spouse).

Letters and numbers don’t make me whole. They don’t save me from myself. They are just statistics. There are bigger things.

Learning in Ultrasound: A Person is a Person…

I can’t believe how fast February flew by.  It is Medical Monday again, which means time to link up with some other lovely medically affiliated blogs.  Check them out at the link below.

As you may know, I am on a radiology rotation.

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time I go see some ultrasound imaging.  Other aspects of imaging are more comfortable for me (especially Nuc Med for obvious reasons), but ultrasound is my black box, so I figured learning is good.  So, I am doing ultrasound at the hospital where I usually work.  Lots of livers and thyroids and kidneys.

Then, up on the screen pops up a perfect looking 8 week embryo.  Cool, I think to myself, that might be my kid in another four weeks.

Image from babycenter.com.

I then remembered that all of the obstetrical ultrasounds are generally done at the children’s hospital unless there is someone in emerg.  I asked why this ultrasound was done at the hospital we were at.

Its for the TPU replied the fellow.

Termination of pregnancy unit.

My heart sank.

He said I could leave if I wanted to.  But really, this is part of my learning.  Part of life in a hospital and in this world.

I watched him read four ultrasounds of perfect little embryos between 6 and 11 weeks all with heartbeats and the works.  Perfect little embryos that might have otherwise grown up, although it is tough to say for sure because bad stuff happens.

I went home and cried to Patrick because it seemed so sad and so unfair that these babies had to die when maybe they wouldn’t.  It seemed so unfair that so many women want babies so badly and yet here are people who for whatever reason or circumstance don’t or can’t want their own.

Just over a week later, after losing my own baby, Elim, I sat in that department again.

Yet again, I saw babies getting their photo taken to confirm that they were indeed alive (because the procedure is different if they are alive or dead).  I saw one person who had terminated pregnancies 6 times.

I had an overwhelming urge to go in and yell at these people.  To tell them that I am here, working and trying to piece together what is left of my sanity because my baby died before it would have even been very visible on an ultrasound.  That I really wanted that baby.  That it isn’t fair that they get to choose, but I can’t.  To ask a big huge why.

But, I didn’t.

Because that isn’t fair of me (or very professional).

Their baby dying, my baby dying, really, it is all a loss.  Those kids are all with God now.  They all had potential.  They all died because they were made in a fallen world full of brokenness.

That mom may mourn the loss of her child like I do.  Everybody grieves differently.   Maybe not now, but maybe later.  I have heard of the struggles of moms who make that decision.  And maybe she won’t.  I can’t put myself entirely in her shoes.

We aren’t very good at putting ourselves in other people’s shoes.  We are, however, really good at trying to point out other people’s wrongs.

Image from chzbgr.com.

I’m not here to have the pro-choice or pro-life debate.  In fact, I don’t want to hear it because it is often hurtful, overdone and narrowminded on both sides of the coin.  Sin is sin.  Death is death.   Pain and anguish are universal.   We have free will.  That is all on that.

I read this blog post from The Lewis Note called “Why Miscarriage Matters When You’re Pro-Life.”   It was strangely timely based on the adventures of the last few weeks.  Check it out.

I read this post the night after my second day in the ultrasound department when I was really struggling with the value of life and how we see it as a society.

It rocked my world.  Because it is so true, especially in a Christian context, but I am sure it works for others as well.

I have already experienced both the good and the bad sides of this post.  Some people are really nice.  Other people aren’t.  And some nice people say stupid stuff (I sure do).

Thinking on how I responded to people who lost kids at the same point, I think I had empathy and sympathy for both.  I think I did place more value on the aborted baby.  I also think I had more sympathy for that child’s mother because there was action and potential.

Looking at scans, it is the same.  Already dead babies are already dead, so in a way, it seemed less sad than about to babies about to die.

That isn’t necessarily fair of me.

Both an electively aborted baby and a spontaneously aborted baby were both alive at one point and had potential and value.

And then, there is our approach to the mothers and fathers.

Don’t forget the fathers.  Many people do.

Everyone needs love.  It doesn’t matter how voluntary a loss was, it doesn’t matter how old the child was (although this does often impact they way people can grieve and what is considered “acceptable”).  You need people willing to live the grief with you.  To sit it out with you because that is what you might need, even when it is uncomfortable (just like sitting through scans that are upsetting helps us to learn and grow in a different way).

If you claim to care about a person, to care about life, then you should stand by the mourning no matter what they are mourning and no matter how long that what was alive.  If you want some practical suggestions and examples, check out that post.  I am the first person to admit that I tend to project my feelings on others, so if I think something would weird me out, I tend to avoid doing that for someone else or letting someone do it for me.  I’ve learned that I am often wrong and my assumptions were totally incorrect.  If you aren’t sure how to help or love someone where they are at, ask.

I guess I’m learning more than I anticipated on this radiology rotation.