Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Long Journey to Luca

August 6, 2018
Written by: Kimberly Shanahan
After losing Reagan it was hard to think of anything else. There’s so much that goes through your head constantly. I wanted to focus on something else and was completely distraught with losing her and not having the child we had planned for. Having a baby was still in the cards and the plan was to try again as soon as possible.
Getting pregnant with Reagan wasn’t easy, but I felt with all the knowledge I had gained it should be easier this time. I mean I could literally write a step by step manual on getting pregnant fast and I even did for someone! I was figuring it would be so soon, like an Irish twins type situation.
I pulled out all the stops, tried every silly product, wives tail, you name it in hopes that I could get pregnant ASAP, but it wasn’t happening. So not only being depressed each day from the traumatic experience we had, also finding some hope in another child also felt lost.
Month after month of more disappointment, I started to think maybe there was something wrong with us. Maybe getting pregnant with Reagan was really a luck of the draw situation and maybe I wasn’t going to be so lucky again.
We decided to get tested at a fertility center to check what was holding us back. The good news was we were fine, but it also still felt disheartening that there wasn’t any reason that I shouldn’t be getting pregnant. It just felt time after time we weren’t getting lucky at the chance. The doctor suggested we try IVF and felt confident that it would work for us. We were desperate and would try anything.
Very few people know that we did that. I hate to say that I was embarrassed to talk about it. I felt  ashamed that my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to and when I needed it to the most. But now I see constantly how many people document their journey of IVF on instagram, celebrities like Chrissy  Teigen have no problem talking about it. I mean it’s just science jumping in to help a biological process!  I’m not trying to create an alien baby or something in a lab, science (and a great doctor) is just putting what needs to be done together for us and then we take it from there.
When the process began in December, I could have started a pharmacy in our house from all the medications and needles I now had. We had a whole table set up with needles, alcohol pads, gauze pads and whatever medication didn’t need to  be refrigerated in the nursery. Each time I had to stick myself with a needle, I was doing it in a baby’s room to motivate myself.
I didn’t know quite how IVF worked, but I sure as hell didn’t know it’s still a long process. Since I have never had chicken pox the doctor highly suggested I get vaccinated for it since if I were to somehow get it while pregnant it would be bad for the baby and me. I received the vaccine from CVS, that’s super fun and confusing for the pharmacist to do! Well I didn’t realize that it’s two vaccines. I would need a second one in four weeks. Things were already taking too long for my liking and I signed off with the doctor, against her wishes, forgoing the second vaccine.
For months I was on a strict schedule of injecting myself twice a day, multiple times in one sitting. You needed to do the injections at specific times, which when working nights required Keith to come to my work where I’d run out to his car and shoot up like an addict. I had to inject myself in the stomach, one which looked like an insulin pen, one like a regular vaccine needle and upper glute which looked like a horse tranquilizer. It was terrifying.
The first time I had to inject into my butt with an 18 gauge needle 1.5 inches long, I had a panic attack. It happened multiple times and each time I had to psych myself up to jab myself in a quick motion. I even had Keith do it a couple of times which was just as scary.
I had to get my blood taken every 2-3 days at 6am before work and if you know me I HATE getting my blood taken. I’m on the verge of fainting or vomiting. I’m the person that needs someone else to drive them to get blood taken. I had so many pokes on my arms I looked like I needed to be rehabilitated.
So the point of the injections and pills is to get your hormones where they need to be and get your body to release multiple eggs. They take your blood constantly to check these levels and find out when you ovulate so you can get the procedure to remove whatever eggs your body has made. For some reason you need to take a month of birth control to get your body on a schedule. So that’s another month added on to this. I believe I made it two weeks and had Keith call the doctor to say I’m not doing another two. In her mind a month is nothing, but the way Keith described it to her is the past 10 months of my life have been a jail sentence and she wanted to add more time on it.
About a week after that the injection of all injections happens one night. The trojan horse of injections that primes you for ovulation and the next day you go in to remove the eggs.
So after three months of all this, at the end of February, I had the scheduled date of going in to get the eggs removed. I had no idea how this was to be done or anything about how it works. I’ll forewarn you now if you ever plan on having this procedure done, go into it not knowing anything like I did. I looked into it later and it’s terrifying. It’s like how you wouldn’t want to watch the Lasik video right before you get your eyes lasered.
From what I read online I thought I was gonna get some laughing gas like at the dentist and badda boom eggs retracted. Not the case. I went to a hospital like setting, was on a gurney with an IV of drugs and gas that LL Cool J style knocks you out. Apparently it’s one of anesthetic situations where you don’t think you’re awake or remember anything, but I had a lot to say about Beyonce. Don’t worry all nice things. I figured I was shit talking her since she just had twins, so I made sure.
I had a terrible cough that concerned them while I was under and therefore they had to wake me up
during the procedure. The doctor said she was just about done and asked me if I wanted to continue
still. Not realizing time had passed or anything had happened I said “Sure, you’re already in there why not”
*If you don’t want to hear about how the procedure works, politely skip ahead this next paragraph. *
Excuse my non scientific and graphic vocabulary for it, but to remove the eggs they put a very long
hollow needle inside of your uterus, if you understand the female reproductive system you know the ovaries are diagonal from the uterus and needles are straight, well the needle goes straight though the uterus wall to the ovaries and plucks the eggs like little painful daisies. I was awake for about 3 of these plucks. And to have an idea of how long this whole thing took, I had 29 eggs removed. Apparently my cup (ovaries) overflowth with them.
Now that is a unusually large number, to put in perspective research says 15 is optimal. So that can also cause issues with there being too many and then removing too many, ovaries can hyperstimuate which causes fluid to leak into your abdomen and chest. Usually they would create the embroyos and put one back in a week later. Well because of the chance of hyperstimulation they wanted to hold off on that.
I had to once again, continue injections, medications, birth control and getting blood every couple days. The doctor told me all the eggs worked out and we had 29 embroyos. It’s weird to think I could have 29 potential children just waiting.
I was scheduled St. Patricks day to go in and have one lucky embroyo placed. This procedure is much easier and quicker and only requires you having a very full bladder and only about 4 people looking at your crotch. We were given Luca’s first photo. A thousand timed zoom of an embroyo that I held on to dearly. 
We went to get a blood test two weeks later to confirm everything worked, but I of course took a test myself 7 days later so already knew. I had to get blood again every few days to confirm that the hormones were increasing.
I couldn’t imagine a more exciting and terrifying moment. It was so exciting that everything worked and we finally are  able to start again working toward a family, but this time  around we were no longer naive to everything. We knew  things could change at any moment and I felt unlucky like  there was a good chance they could. Especially when the adoption situation didn’t work out, I started to feel like maybe we were meant to have living children. What an awful thing to think and feeling right? Not something a lot of people think when trying to start a family.
We were able to make it the entire 9 months of Luca without telling anyone besides our immediate family and my work. We were given more doctor’s appointments and specialized ultrasounds and towards the end Non Stress Tests twice a week. We also bought a doppler to listen to his heartbeat ourselves, which was terrifying at first when it was harder to find, but ended up helping in dire times.
You would think listed on every record of mine there would be a big alert “LAST CHILD DIED” but that wasn’t usually the case. I had many times people ask if this was our first or mention other things that you think would be more sensitive to someone whose gone through what we have.
I made it appoint as time went on to be very upfront that this isn’t my first rodeo of pregnancy. I know how it goes and I know the worst of it. And I’ll expect the worst of it, so if someone could hold my hand the entire time that would be great. 
We found out somewhere around 24-28 weeks that I had an velamentous cord insertion. Hearing that anything was different was even more scary. The specialist said this is common and no precautions are needed, but it was one more thing to worry about. It basically means that the umbilical cord goes into the membranes first and not the placenta directly so the vessels are unprotected. Just means he could have laid on the vessels and restricted them, NO BIG DEAL.
I had a scheduled induction that I was able to get done at 38 weeks. Those last few weeks were the worst of all. I made sure to ask at every ultrasound where the umbilical cord was, was it in a safe spot? Was it by his neck? At this time last time everything was great and Reagan still died. There never felt like a safe time.
We drove to the hospital November 20th the same way we did June 6th, 2016. Except this time we were more scared. I got hooked up to the machines the same way I did then and held my breath until I heard a heartbeat. I didn’t feel like I was in the clear until I could see him. It didn’t help that he continued to move and the monitors needed to be placed again continuously. I was less drugged this time, but felt even more in a daze that this was happening. He came out the way any alive baby does.. screaming. I was in shock. I didn’t believe any of this was happening. Keith kept telling me we did it, he was here.
Our rainbow baby Luca was born alive November 21st at 12:14am
“A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better.”

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