• Helen Hawersaat

A Personal Update + Guadalupe

[Note: contains ultrasound image and discussion of current pregnancy]

Well, I'm dusting off the ol' blog again!

I have been gone for a long time because I have had too many things to write, so I wrote none of them. And also because I am pregnant again, and writing about pregnancy loss during pregnancy after recurrent loss felt like a recipe for disaster. So I took a break.

But it's been nagging at me, even though this is one area of my life where I feel no guilt taking breaks. I'm definitely going to keep taking things slow if I need to, but maybe I will finally write those things and get them off my chest! In the mean time, here is an update on me.

Tomorrow, February 16, I will be seventeen weeks pregnant. Medically, everything is going fine so far. I'm taking prenatal vitamins, a handful of different supplements, low dose aspirin, Zoloft, and three (count 'em, 3) different kinds of progesterone, including one that needs to be injected into my unlucky behind twice a week. I'm seeing an Ob-Gyn at the hospital five minutes away, and my NaPro doctor is monitoring my progesterone levels. My friend Betz wins the Number One Friend in the World award for driving an hour and a half to my NaProTechnology doctor's office with me to learn how to do the injection, and then coming home to teach my poor needle-phobic husband how to do it. He is sweaty, shaky, and needs a hug whenever we are done, and it kind of cracks me up (sorry, Brian!).

Because of my history of loss, my very awesome OB has been letting me just stop by once a week to hear a heartbeat until I can feel consistent movement, which has been such a relief! I felt my first kicks earlier this week in the middle of playing a loud Dvorak symphony and the following morning while I was waking up, but nothing definite since then. I got the nuchal translucency scan at 12 weeks, and the baby is super wiggly and looks great, and if we make it to the beginning of March, we will have our anatomy scan and be about halfway through pregnancy!

A blurry little bebe at 12 weeks

Physically, I have been feeling bad enough to be comforted and distracted by the presence of symptoms, but not so bad that I can't usually function. I was consistently nauseous and throwing up every few days from weeks five or six through fifteen, but it seems to have improved in the last few days. I did have to go to the emergency room to get fluids once when I caught a stomach bug around week 13 and got super dehydrated. I also went out to dinner with my husband and two single guy friends at week 15 and then threw up on the way back to the car. Three times. In the middle of a large crowd of hockey fans leaving a game downtown. Pregnancy is sometimes ridiculous.

My mental health has definitely been more difficult. Perhaps I should leave this part out so that my various employers and colleagues don't see it, but I prefer to live in a world where it's reasonable and acceptable for people to have predictable mental and emotional reactions, like being traumatized after traumatic events. And that has to start with suffering people being willing to take a risk and trust those around them!

I already had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression after losing Rosie, and on the day I got a positive pregnancy test this time, my PTSD diagnosis was made official. I am seeing a therapist who specializes in treating women with anxiety, depression, and PTSD from fertility issues and pregnancy loss. She has been unbelievably helpful. I feel comfortable talking to her and I leave each session with something to think about and something practical to do. I am also taking Zoloft, which has also made an incredible difference in my mood.

The hardest periods for me have been when I run into a lot of PTSD triggers: passing stages of previous losses, waiting for that first ultrasound at five or six weeks to make sure my pregnancy wasn't ectopic, waiting in the lobby for my appointment, frozen with fear that there won't be a heartbeat. I had a small subchorionic hematoma around week seven that caused some spotting, and I was a disaster for a while because blood is a big trigger for me. The last couple of weeks have been especially difficult, since I'm passing the time Rosie died, losing my morning sickness, and feeling very infrequent movement.

But most of the time, I feel okay enough!

Through most of this time, my rock has been Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had never thought much about Our Lady of Guadalupe before December. She seemed like she had come for bigger things than me, things that were somebody else’s business: Mexico (a whole country!), two entire continents. But one day, she shook me by the shoulders and reminded me that she was my mother, and she was here with me, for me, and for my children.

One summer night last year, I had a dream that I was buying earrings from a Catholic jewelry shop. They were gold and green, and they had little medals of Our Lady in the middle, and I was really surprised that I liked them because I don’t usually like medals as jewelry. The next day, someone I follow on Instagram was doing a giveaway of something by a Catholic jeweler, so I started following her shop. I checked to see if she had anything like the earrings from my dream. She did not.

But five or six months later, she put these Our Lady of Guadalupe medals up for sale for her feast day. They were the earrings in my dream! I bought them. Obviously.

I make no special claims about this dream or any other. Maybe I had seen the medals before. Maybe it was a coincidence. But however it happened, Mary definitely used it to tell me something.

Listen, she says to you and to me, just as clearly as to St. Juan Diego, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you…Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.

Am I not here, who am the mother of your children, living and dead? Am I not here, who have held them in my hands, in the presence of God, since the moment they were created? Am I not here, who held the Son of God in my womb, and raised him from infancy on earth? Am I not here, who asked him to turn water into wine? Can I not ask him to preserve your child's life on earth, without fear of refusal? Can I not ask for their salvation? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.

I cannot see the future, and life is messy and can end at any moment. I might not ever be a happy, naive, first timer, waiting for her baby. Nothing is guaranteed. But whatever happens, however I fail and however I feel, I do have a mother, and my babies have a better mother than me.

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