Saturday, May 08, 2010

mind games

My second round of blood was drawn yesterday. I won't know anything more until Monday when my doctor returns. I'm not holding any hope that this pregnancy is secure, unless it's possible that a fish could also survive by clinging on to the side of a bowl as all the water is drained out.

Since this past October, I've been battling one upper respiratory infection after another. This past March, around the same time I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, I was absolutely desperate to be well. One day when I was at the pharmacy picking up my prescription and replenishing my monthly supply of sinus rinse packets and cough drops, I spotted the herbal remedies and supplements.

After spending a solid 30 minutes reviewing the different bottles and what they claimed to cure or prevent (without validation of the FDA, but so?), I selected bottles of Vitamin B12, Echinacea and Goldenseal. And then I grabbed another crate of Kleenex and with fingers crossed that I'd finally be on the mend, I headed home and promptly began my regiment of treatment.

By the end of March, I was finally feeling better. Much like the small pills made with the liver of a deadly puff fish (as prescribed to me several years ago by a costly homeopathic doctor) cured me of a minor ailment I was suffering, I was moderately convinced that these supplements were doing something to help boost my immune system and ward off rogue viruses.

Without so much as a second thought, for the past six weeks, I've continued to take my supplements in conjunction with the multivitamin that I've taken every night for as long as I can remember. This past Tuesday - when I genuinely began to fear that I was experiencing a miscarriage - I stopped taking every pill except my multivitamin. For no reason other than the simple effort to open the bottles and take the pills to my mouth constituted too much effort.

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed - I picked up the bottle of Echinacea & Goldenseal and looked at the label. And although it is only in about the equivalent of a font size 8, the words jumped out at me, "WARNING: DO NOT TAKE WHEN PREGNANT."



I ran to my computer, fired it up, and typed in to the search engine, "echinacea, goldenseal, pregnancy complications." And while my legs wobbled and my lip trembled, I read page after page of warnings and recommendations to avoid these supplements, particularly goldenseal during pregnancy.

In one study that was conducted on the safety of echinacea during pregnancy, there were 13 spontaneous abortions in the echinacea group compared to 7 in the control group. Or, approximately twice as many. Statistically, I don't know how sound this data is but right now, it's enough to make me feel responsible.

Charlie came out to see why I was furiously cursing at the computer - and myself - and he tried to console me. But at this point, I'm not consolable. Because the fact remains that I should have LOOKED at the label. I should have KNOWN what I was putting in to my body. I should have been keenly aware that RISKS exist. The labels are there for a reason and there is absolutely NO good reason why I didn't review them. Except negligence and ignorance.

I'm convinced this IS my fault and if not for my stupidity, I'd be happily pregnant with a baby that is due to be born on Christmas Day. A baby that my children and husband want just as much as me. It's a lot more emotionally crippling to believe that I had a hand in these complications, than to believe that this pregnancy was simply not meant to be.

This morning, I woke up and feeling groggy, rolled back over to go to sleep for a few more minutes. As I dozed, I had a vivid dream. Charlie and I were standing in the kitchen talking and folding laundry. The triplets were in the backyard playing, Henry was in the small bathroom - just off the kitchen - splashing in a tub that was filled with no more than six inches of water. As we spoke, we could hear him happily playing with his plastic dinosaurs. After a few minutes had lapsed, Charlie ducked around the corner to check on him and he started to scream, "OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! HENRY! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY INSERT-BAD-WORD-HERE GOD!"

I forced myself awake and I immediately knew that it was just a nightmare that my little boy had drowned. I knew that he was sleeping peacefully in the bottom bunk with his big brother. But those feelings I have of extreme fragility and vulnerability are right there on the surface, invading my mind when I sleep.

As I look over my calendar of the past week, I can clearly see a "before" and "after" all of this has started. And I am keenly aware, as I look around at my life right now, that I am living in a "before" moment of some sort. Bad things will happen in my life. They happen to everyone.

If the possible loss of a six and a half week pregnancy (potentially caused by me) is having this kind of effect on my psyche, I am paralyzed with dread wondering how I could handle something on a larger scale. God forbid, if something happened to my husband or one of my children.

Right now, I'm caught in that space of living in the moment and treasuring my life, while trying desperately to block out the knowledge that at any time, and without warning, the entire floor of my world could drop out.


  1. I was put on an antibiotic after my procedure and I too didn't read the bottle. Turns out I took the pill right before bed with minimum water (I never drink enough water). The darn pill dissolved in my esophagus instead of stomach and as a result, I have an ulcer in my esophagus. All because of one stupid pill! Now I am taking a bunch of pills and have another endoscopy scheduled.

    I am sorry for all your worry. I have been there and we have to believe that things happen for a reason besides our own doing.

  2. Though there might be circumstances, these little creatures are tough. They are born in times of great famine, during horrific wars and strife when ones body can barely care for itself. you know these studies are done on rats, not humans. You know that they put do not take while pregnant on everything from peppermint tea to simple antacids. This is not your fault.
    An abrupted amniotic sac was not because of a supplement. My prenatal doctor had one after she worked 12 hours straight..... she felt guilt even knowing that that could not be the only reason.

    It doesn't matter if the baby is 6 weeks or 30 weeks. It's your baby, your hope for a baby and in the instant you find out you are committed to that life as if it is your own. My heart and prayers are with you and your family so that you heal.

  3. Thinking of you. Keeping you in prayer. XO

  4. I had two miscarriages and i have two children. The first was the worst and that, plus my inability to get pregnant again for almost two years did a lot of mental damage to me and I didn't really heal until my daughter was born. I guess Im just trying to say that i hope you are not having a miscarriage but if you are, i know the feeling and I would never wish it on anyone.

    Having said that, while i like to think of myself as a scientific person, please don't blame yourself. I really think if there was a reliable way to end a pregnancy (or get pregnant for that matter) people would know that and use it. I spent two years hating myself and my body for my first miscarriage and i just hate to think of anyone else going through that.

  5. Oh Jen ((((I wish I could do or say something to help you feel better))))

  6. You are having nightmares. Go for a walk and smell the fresh air. MOM

  7. I don't know what you're going through, what you're feeling, I've never been there, but I just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you and your family. And God certainly does understand (He lost a child once, too...)

    Psalm 56:8 "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

    May you really feel God's presence through all of this, through every test, every anxious thought, every tear. Every hug.

    And keep praying for a miracle! He's done bigger things with much less.

    If I could bake you some Oh Henry bars right now, I totally would. (Not that I condone emotional eating, can't mess with something that works! And cheaper than retail therapy)

    Rooting for you all the way.

  8. "As I look over my calendar of the past week, I can clearly see a "before" and "after" all of this has started. And I am keenly aware, as I look around at my life right now, that I am living in a "before" moment of some sort. Bad things will happen in my life."

    I don't understand. What do you see? And why does it mean inevitable Bad is looming?

  9. Stop beating yourself up! Whatever happens is not your fault. Yes we should all read labels, do we? No. You were trying to do something to make yourself healthy.

  10. Moments like those are the worst. All you can do is hang tight to your faith and listen to others stories of how they have prevailed through the rough times in their life.
    Hang tight Jenn. We are thinking of you.

  11. There are no words.
    My prayers are with you and yours.

  12. Oh, Jen. That just SUCKS. I'm sure that isn't why you might be losing the baby, but I totally understand your anger.

    Did you know that the week before Greg's father died of lung cancer, I finally went to the doctor and I begged for SOMETHING to help me cope with everything. The babies were 7 months old. Bob was dying. Greg and his mom were insane with grief.

    He handed me a 2 week supply of Lexapro and a prescription. I took the Lexapro for 2 weeks, then didn't like the side effects and never got the prescription filled.

    I conceived Austin during those two weeks. If you Google anti-depressants, there is absolutely evidence that they cause brain tumors in unborn children. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that Austin's tumor was from Lexapro. But I can't prove it, so I just have to live with that knowledge.

    It's heartwrenching. I am so sorry.

  13. I cannot begin to imagine what you are feeling right now and won't pretend to. I will say though, I will pray for you. For peace, healing, and strength for whichever way this leads your life. I will also pray for Charlie and the children.

  14. I've been thinking about you a lot and checking in often, as I started following you back when Henry was born and I was expecting my first around the same time.

    With that pregnancy, I was told by one doctor that I was having a miscarriage, only to find out a week later from another doctor that the baby was still there, but still might not make it. The days of waiting to know for sure were excruciating. I hate that anyone has to go through that. I just remember an endless stream of sobbing.

    Then my second child was born this past winter with digestive problems that mean she needs a special formula and can't digest breastmilk. No one knows for sure why this happened, but I can't help but think it's because of something I did or didn't do while I was pregnant. As if the pain of not being able to nurse and comfort your newborn isn't enough, the uncertain guilt piled on sure is.

    I so feel your pain and I thank you for articulating it better than I ever could or can.

  15. This just breaks my heart that you are going through this on top of everything else on you plate.

    Sending cyber thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  16. Hi~

    Oh Jen, I can feel how deeply vulnerable you are feeling. My heart is going out to you.

    Be kind and patient with yourself. Stop blaming. Lean on Charlie. Lean on anything that holds you up. Know that so many of us are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

    With much love and peace~

  17. Just know that no matter what, you are not alone. Those that you care about, care about you and how you are. Others, who may make hurtful comments, don't matter. As you said in the previous post, all you can do hug your children, love your husband, and wait.

    Not to turn this into a "me too" moment, but I had a miscarriage. That pregnancy never felt right the way the others (one before and one after) did.

    You've had three miracles (your trips, Henry and this pregnancy)- there is no limit on the number of miracles that can happen.


  18. Don't beat yourself up. It's so easy and yet so destructive. I went through 8 years of infertility, 7 miscarriages had my gorgeous miracle daughter, had the 8th miscarriage and then my adorable miracle son. Our fertility doctor told me you can't shake a good apple out of a tree and the same analogy applies to pregnancy. It won't be from taking a few vitamins. My successful pregnancies happened during two of the most stressful times in my life.

    I'm sending lots of positive thoughts and energy your way for a successful outcome to this much wanted pregnancy. I love reading about your little family and know through your reading how much you embrace motherhood.

    Hope the weekend brings good news!

    Happy Mother's Day!

  19. I hope you are reading these at least, because I want you to both get the support of your readers, and also, hopefully, realize you are NOT to blame.
    I wanted you to know that goldseal causes uterine contractions, but that would require a much further along pregnancy to be a problem. As far as Echinacea goes - that one study was only 1 study and nothing was done to verify if there was any other factors affecting the women in either group - so in effect, you have no clue that the data is conclusive. Without collaborating studies as well as background on the women, there is nothing you can get from that study other than a non-answer - it didn't cause any obvious side effects. Also, at 6 weeks pregnancy (as I'm sure you know) you are very hormonal and I can understand your fears - I don't know about you, but when I was pregnant (my oldest is adopted, my twins were a pregancy), I developed irrational fears, that I KNEW were irrational, but I couldn't help feeling. I was certain that I, personally, was going to break my childrens necks by doing something (like dropping them, or lifting them up wrong, or anything). I didn't, of course, but that was my first exposure to the hormonal affects that pregnancy can have on a woman's mind, I didn't have any of those crazy feelings, fears, etc. with my oldest, because I didn't have the hormones. So, give yourself a break, and please, don't think you did anything to cause this. You didn't.

    I am hoping for you to have another chance soon. I am very sorry you are going through this.

    Take care

  20. I lost a baby at 16 weeks. I convinced my self that I had contracted Listeria when I ate a luke warm hot dog at our local show. I blamed myself completly and was inconsolable, I know how you feel. After time goes by you do stop blaming yourself, it isn't your fault that is IF you are having a miscarriage. No point to this but to say I know how you feel and it is horrible, you will get through, you will come out the other side and you will be different and that too can be a blessing in disguise,

  21. I wouldn't get too excited about the warnings label. My toaster says: "Warning - hot surfaces". Duh. At McDonald's, the coffee is labeled: "Caution, handle with care! Hot coffee", or something that stupid. Zatta fact? Hooda known??? :O How many people would buy cold coffee???

    Did you ever look up the warnings of Benedryl? The horrible side effects and all. Ain't NOTHIN ever happened to anybody that took benedryl, I don't think. The old PDR went on for PAGES about it. All that is SO over the top. They have warnings about eveything, because people are so sue-crazy these days. I wouldn't get too excited about warning labels.

    ~Just ~Cindy! :D

  22. Hugs!!! Don't be so hard on yourself. Those dreams are very normal in pregnancy, no need to read too much into it. And it is NEVER your fault, no matter what happens. It is just your body being smart and doing the right thing. I know how it hurts, I lost one last summer. However, I also know you will be fine. I was pregnant again after 4 months, and I am about to turn 38, no big deal. The most important thing seems to be that you decided against this job and for your family. Maybe your body will get some much needed rest. Things always happen for a reason. Love! (from a lurker that loves your blog! you have made so many days for me, I hope everything will be fine and you get better soon)

  23. Oh, Jen!
    You know, at age 39 it is more likely than not, if you are experiencing a miscarriage (which I pray you are not), that it is due to chromosomal abnormality. Even leaving advanced maternal age out of the picture, 90% of pregnancy losses are caused by chromosomal abnormality; I am sure that figure would be higher if only 35 years of age and older were considered.

    Desperately hoping that your little bean hangs in there, and sending you prayers.

  24. This situation would be tough on anyone. Try to take a deep breath and give your self a little bit of a break. There is nothing more that you can do really. I pray that things start looking better for you. **HUGS**

  25. Oh my, you poor poor girl. I know nothing I can say will make you feel any better, only lots of people don't realize they are pregnant for a while and take lots of stuff they are not supposed to. My heart is broken for you. I am so sorry.

  26. I found your blog through Michelle S's triplets + 1 blog. I just wanted to tell you that if it turns out that things are as you fear, I understand how you feel. My husband and I found out that we lost our baby on April 27. We have tried for 5 years to have this baby, and I FINALLY got pregnant. We were to have the little one on November 3rd. We had to have the baby removed by D&C on April 28. It has been awful. It was crushing, just as you said. I have all of the same things you have felt. I wanted THIS baby, wondering did I kill my child, was it this drug or that supplement, did I cause a fatal birth defect by failing to adequately manage my diabetes before I knew I was pregnant, was it the devastating stress I was under at exactly the same time our child died? The questions have gone on and on. I also told friends and people at work (we did not tell our 7 year-old because he has prayed literally every night for a sibling for the last 4 years and he would have been crushed), and like you, I have found that it really helps to have their support. I don't have anything to say to make you feel better. I just want you to know that there is someone out there that is going through the exact same thing at the same time, and if nothing else, I really, truly understand. We're going to make it through this, and today, especially today, we need to love on the little ones that we do have. Something about the smile of a child you love does help ease the pain, even if for a moment. A hug to you from a mom in St. Louis.

  27. Sending good thoughts your way!!! Love you!

  28. Praying for you all.

    Kari in GA

  29. Hi Jen,I've been reading your blog for over a year and I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you and am praying for you and your family. Please do not blame yourself for this - you are an amazing mom and I am so sorry if this pregnancy does end. Please know that you have support out here on the Internet and I admire your courage for being so open with everyone. Please lean on us!

  30. The waiting sucks! I hate it- not knowing one way or another. SO stressful. And I've beaten myself up more than once for things like the goldenseal. Thinking of you, and your tiny newest baby... and hoping and praying for the best!

  31. I am crying with you right now. I am so, so sorry.

  32. I'm thinking of you. I hope everything is okay.

  33. Please don't beat yourself up or blame yourself. There is a chance that those supplements did NOT cause any harm. I know it is hard though, I do the same thing. With the first pregnancy I lost I had been exposed to Yard Guard at a party, at precisely the time when they said that baby stopped growing. I am sure your doc will tell you not to blame yourself. Still praying for you!

  34. ((((Jenn)))) I wish I had something comforting. I've been here, where you are. That's all I have: a promise that you are not alone in this experience.

    Our situations are not exactly the same, so I don't completely understand your perspective, but I understand a lot of your emotional turmoil. I'm hurting here with you, not because of my experience, but because I know how much this hurts you.

  35. I'm so sorry. I took echinacea cough drops while pregnant and didn't even think about it until one day it just hit me that I hadn't checked to see if echinacea was safe. I mean they were fucking cough drops! I had been eating them like candy b/c the doctor's list had basically just said tylenol and cough drops were safe.

    I know you're blaming yourself right now and I'm so sorry. Its a heartrending guilty feeling when you think (know) you've unintentionally endangered your child. You feel so stupid. But you aren't stupid. You're a busy woman who was ill and didn't know she was pregnant. Supplements like that seem so harmless.

    I know there's nothing to say to make you feel better so I'll shut up now, just know that I'm crossing my fingers and sending lots of love your way.

  36. Breathe. I blame myself for things that can't be helped all the time. I suppose it gives me the illusion of control, but it can be crippling. I get it, but I also get why my husband keeps telling me to let it go.

    Deal with what is; what may be is for another time.