G9P3A3: my struggle through 3 stillbirths, 3 miscarriages and 3 healthy pregnancies; continued

This story is continued from a previous post

CHAPTER ONE

When I first became pregnant I was thrilled, and of course I told everyone our exciting news. I went for routine checkups; everything was progressing well.   At 24 weeks gestation we went on vacation to visit my sister in Texas. She is a nurse and was able to listen to our baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope. Her prediction was that I was carrying a girl because the heartbeat was slow. We stayed in Texas for two weeks, and then drove through the Gulf States to Florida. I remember feeling nauseous and tired at Disney World, otherwise I had no reason to believe anything was wrong.

Upon arrival back home, I went to my scheduled 28 week check up. The doctor could not detect a heartbeat and sent me to the hospital for further testing. I remember being in “automatic pilot” after that news, most concerned about whether or not I could still go to work the next day. We were sent to a high risk unit at a local hospital where they were able to determine that the baby had died several weeks earlier from hydrops fetalis, which is a buildup of fluid around at least two of the internal organs, showing up on ultrasound as a halo-like white lining around the organs. This fluid had prevented the baby’s lungs from forming properly and put strain on the heart.   When I thought back to the slow heartbeat and little movement, I realized these were signs that all was not well. Of course, I had nothing to compare the symptoms to as it was my first pregnancy.

Labor was induced and I delivered a stillborn son. A C-section was discouraged because of my hope for future pregnancies. I was given Demerol which sent me into wild hallucinations, but did not do anything for the pain. We can joke now about the spiders I was convinced were all over the ceiling in my room.

I remember debating on whether or not we wanted to hold the dead baby; somehow it seemed morbid at the time, but we could not resist, and later were so glad we did. He was tiny, less than 3 pounds, but a perfectly formed little boy on the outside. It was an incredibly sad moment, but did provide the closure we needed to move on.

Although I had many blood tests done, they could not find a reason for the hydrops fetalis. At that time (the law has changed since then) we did not have to make funeral arrangements, and the baby was sent to the pathology lab of the hospital. We were too numb with shock and too naïve to request anything else.

We returned home and I was required to stay off work for a week to physically heal. I believe it was more mentally stressful for me to sit around and do nothing; all I could think of is why I was home. Even watching TV was difficult as all the commercials seemed to be about babies or families.

I remember a neighbor telling me jokingly that we were the only house on our street without children as she introduced herself and her young daughter to me. We had all just moved into our new houses in a brand new development and so were just getting to know each other as neighbors.   Of course she did not realize that I had been pregnant as it was winter when I finally began to show in this first pregnancy, so my long wool coat had concealed my growing belly. I did not have the heart to tell her the truth. I have since gotten to know her very well; she would be horrified to know how I felt at the time. A few years later her daughter was my eldest son’s first crush…

G9P3A3: my struggle through 3 stillbirths, 3 miscarriages and 3 healthy pregnancies

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Since the book entitled G9P3A3 that I wrote last winter about my struggle through 3 stillbirths, 3 miscarriages and 3 healthy pregnancies, all within the span of ten years never made the best sellers list, I thought I would post it in pieces on this blog….

DEDICATION:

This book is dedicated to my family; my three sons whose existence today made this arduous journey most worthwhile, and my husband whose love and support I could not have done without throughout this ordeal.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

I would like to thank all of the physicians, nursing and ultrasound staff in the high risk maternity departments of the Ottawa Civic Hospital and former Grace Hospital who went above and beyond to provide me with the utmost compassion and care throughout this frustrating and discouraging, yet triumphant journey. Doctors Denis Dudley and George Tawagi are the ones I admired and depended on the most. I wish I had recorded the names of the countless nurses and ultrasound technologists that looked after me as well. Although maternity wards are most often happy places, I was impressed with how professional the staff was under less than happy circumstances.

I would also like to thank my extended family, friends and co-workers for their support throughout this ordeal.  I know many of you thought I was out of my mind.

INTRODUCTION:

I grew up in a large family, the youngest girl and second youngest of six children, with two sisters and three brothers. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, I have always wanted to have a large family myself. My husband on the other hand, grew up with just one sister, so he was more skeptical of the prospect of a large family. Of course a large family today is probably only equivalent to half the size of a large family back then.

My ultimate goal was to have my children before the age of 30, so I could be a young mother and grandmother. After 3 and a half years of marriage, I stopped using birth control so we could start a family. It didn’t take long for me to get pregnant, but it took determination and perseverance throughout nine pregnancies within the next ten years to create our family.

I can write this story now with humor, candor, wisdom and hindsight, all things I did not have much of at the time.   Hopefully my story will provide inspiration and comfort to others that have already gone through or are going through the frustration and heartbreak of losing a child during pregnancy.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Hearing a great eulogy makes you want to be a better person

I recently listened to an awesome eulogy for a man I hardly knew and came away wanting to be a better person.  I was at the funeral for the father of my husband’s close friend.  I had only met this man a few times, but his life story, or at least the manner in which people close to him recounted it, had a tremendous impact on me.

There is nothing more uplifting than a great eulogy.  Great eulogies make you want to make your own life count for something in this universe, to make a positive and profound impact on the people around you.

To make that impact I believe you should maintain a healthy balance between family, work and fun.  To earn the respect of your family, friends and coworkers, you must respect and value them in return.  It is also crucial to realize what is important in life.  Appreciating and cherishing family, friends and the small things life has to offer instead of materialistic things is a step in the right direction.

I read this quote in a recent blog post and thought it appropriate to reblog it here:

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Are you doing your best to make the world a better place?  How will people remember you in your eulogy?

Prepare and enjoy an authentic Thai dinner at Urban Element Culinary School in Ottawa

Recently my husband and I went to Urban Element Culinary School in Ottawa to prepare and enjoy an authentic Thai dinner.  Our eldest son had given us this treat as a Christmas gift.  Our session was named Cheater’s Thai because many commercially available sauces were used as the ingredients.  He chose the Thai dinner (as opposed to Italian) knowing that although I am wheat intolerant/sensitive, I would be able to eat most of the food prepared.

It was a fun night out and the food was delicious, yet still fairly easy to prepare.  A group of approximately ten couples prepared the meal under the knowledgeable yet friendly instruction of chef Mark Wells and his sous-chef, and then  enjoyed the fruits of our labor with a few glasses of wine…

We started off the meal with an (pre-made by the chef) appetizer of roasted sweet potato slices topped with goat cheese and tamarind chutney.  In addition to the items pictured (curried coconut and shrimp soup, pork cutlets with peanut sauce, chicken satay and a Thai version of crème caramel), also on the menu were pork dumplings (the only thing on the menu that contained wheat), a green curry stir-fry of green peppers, snow peas, shallots and fish sauce, a sweet chili sauce and a lightly marinated cucumber salad, all of which we made ourselves.

The recommended main ingredients of this and any authentic Thai meal are a good quality coconut milk such as Arrow D or Savoy brands, Maesri red or green curry paste, Thom Yum Thai shrimp paste, 3 Crab Blend fish sauce, bird’s eye chilis, turmeric, cane or palm sugar and cilantro.  All of the commercially prepared ingredients mentioned here are available in Ottawa’s Chinatown near the corner of Booth and Somerset streets.

Urban Element Culinary School is located in a converted fire hall at 424 Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. Phone 613-722-0885 to register for a similar dinner plan.  If you are looking to plan a private evening out for a group of friends, co-workers or relatives, this would be a great option.

Foxes in residential neighbourhoods of Kanata

Recently on our evening walk through our neighbourhood of Kanata (suburb of Ottawa, Ontario) we have encountered a fox on two separate occasions.  Our neighbourhood is fortunate enough to still have a few wooded areas, but the sight of a fox on the streets was a surprise.

The first sighting was just around the corner from our home.  We first heard a yapping sound like a small dog barking, then saw a small fox sitting in the middle of the road.  It barely moved as we cautiously approached on foot and merely moved to the side of the road when a car went by.  There was a cat in a nearby driveway that we assumed the fox was interested in.  We knocked on a few doors in an attempt to alert the cat’s owner, but were told that this particular cat and fox played together often.  I thought I was able to take a few pictures of this fox with my phone as he was in no hurry to escape from us, but they turned out much too dark to share.  This is what he looked like, compliments of google photos:

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A few weeks later we encountered a second, larger fox running across the street in front of us, a few kilometers into our walk.  This one appeared to be less friendly and more interested in getting away from approaching people and cars.  Although it was lighter out that evening, and the pictures probably would have turned out much better, I was not quick enough to snap a picture of this fox; he was in a hurry to get where he was going.

With these two fox sightings in a residential neighbourhood, I can’t help but wonder: is it merely a coincidence that there seem to be lots of signs posted in the neighbourhood regarding missing cats?

Hola from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

My family (except for my eldest son, who unfortunately could not get the time off work to join us) just returned from a week of vacation in Puerto Plata in Dominican Republic.  Similar to the recent challenge post of introducing my home town, I thought I would share our time in DR through pictures. I had planned to post this from there, but vacation got in the way.

Our resort was nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, with spectacular views of both.  Although the rooms (clean and comfortable), food (lots of it, with a good variety, including many gluten free options for me) and beach (shelly, lots of coral, and short in length) were of average quality, the mountain scenery was the best feature.  This trip was planned around our youngest son’s spring break, and as it is his last year in high school he invited a few friends to join us.  The unlimited food and drink for a reasonable price and great weather was the selling feature.  After all, you do not go to the Dominican Republic for the food; you go for the weather.  The resort was one of three in a row, connected by a winding, palm tree lined walkway, approximately a ten minute walk from end to end.  Vacationers staying at any of the three hotels, all of which are under the Riu banner (Merengue Village, Merengue Garden and Bashara), were welcome to use the amenities offered at each site.

The following pictures represent a typical day, from sunrise to well after sunset…

sunrise over the mountains, right outside our balcony:

830 am breakfast was mandatory; our rule to get the boys up and moving rather than sleeping all day after partying all night:

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While a walk to the far end of the beach was next for my husband and I…

…the boys filled their day with various activities such as swimming (pool and beach), volleyball, soccer, bocce ball, basketball, kayaking, sunbathing (napping), and shopping:

The boys were on their own for lunch, often eating at the “snack bar” just steps from the beach:

snackbar2 snack bar

we often went elsewhere:

Dinner was a group event scheduled for 730 pm following an afternoon of more activities (them) and another beach walk topped off with a dip in the ocean (us)  Between the three hotels, there was plenty to do and see each evening as well:

The weather was great; hot and mostly sunny each day, with a few quick downpours, usually in the early evening or through the night.

It sure was painful to arrive back to the winter weather here in Ottawa; where would you rather be?

 

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: partly cloudy and 28 °C (82F)

or

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: mostly sunny and -12 °C (10F) with winds at 26 km/h (16 mph)

Me too!

Are you a purpleholic?

Are you a purpleholic?  I love the color purple, whether in clothing or flowers in my gardens.  In fact, i did say it was one of my favourite things in a previous post.   I did not realize how much though until someone asked me last week if I am a purpleholic. I was wearing a purple shirt, purple boots and carrying a purple purse at the time, so I guess the question was a fair one.   I laughed at the question, but I do gravitate towards purple anything.

This week I went to a salon to get a pedicure; guess what color I chose for my toenails?

 

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