Anchorage Trip: Round Two

 I hesitantly left December 30th for Anchorage, planning on meeting my best friend there for a five day rendezvous minus our collective six sons, and enjoying a mommy respite.  The trip was originally planned for OB appointments, as I would have been twenty weeks pregnant, having my big ultrasound and follow up.

When I lost the baby at the end of October, we kept the trip on the calendar, knowing we could both use a break after the holidays, but when the time finally came to leave my boys, I was having a hard time getting excited.

It didn't help that that morning I had taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. 
Barely, but still.  
I could hardly wrap my mind around it, and Josh and I were both hesitant to believe it was current, considering I never had a follow up after my D&C.

 Despite delays on both ends,  Julie and I made it to Anchorage that night and we celebrated with dinner at Red Robin, both in shock that I might be expecting again.

 The following morning I took another pregnancy test, and sure enough, it was positive.

 Thankfully I had a doctor appointment planned for later that morning, so my doctor did a blood test to double check and took an HCG measurement.  She also ordered a follow up HCG (to see how the numbers were rising) for two days later.  Aside from taking care of my pregnancy questions, she looked at my ears, which have been bothering me since my last trip to Anchorage.  She said I have dysfunctional eustachian tubes and that a nasal steroid spray should take care of it within a week.

 After my doctor appointment, we went to Walmart to place my bush order. 

I filled a grocery cart with everything on our list and left it in the bush department.  They will box it up and ship it out COD (Cash on Delivery) to our post office.  We'll write a check when we pick it up, and that's it.  It's pretty much the coolest thing.

 We also went to Barnes & Noble.  I didn't buy anything, but it was lovely to wander around, looking at all the books, journals and stationary they had.

 Then we crossed a new "first" off my list.

First trip to Target in Alaska.

It was as great as I remembered Target to be, even though it's been five sad months since I set foot in one.  I found some great toys for the kids, new cups for the kitchen and a few other things that were on my list.

 Then we went and saw Unbroken.  It was really moving, and I loved it. Almost as much as I loved the movie theater popcorn {with butter!} that I got!

Wednesday night we rung in the new year with me in the emergency room, thinking I was having a reaction to the nasal steroids. Long story short, I wasn't.  I was having a panic attack.  I was embarrassed that it wasn't a reaction to medication but a reaction to my life circumstances that landed me there, but the ER doc was really understanding and sent us on our way as quickly as possible.

 Friday we headed back to the lab so I could give more blood for a second HCG count to make sure the levels were rising as they should.  Then we headed to my follow up appointment (two months late) for the D&C.  

At my OB's office I informed the nurse & doctor that I'd had a positive pregnancy test and that a blood test had confirmed it.  We proceeded through the appointment as if it were a first trimester care appointment.  They took more blood for a full prenatal panel, and the doctor walked me through the odds that it was left over HCG from my D&C two months ago.

Then we waited for the results of my quantitative HCG from my primary care doctor.  They finally called and confirmed it was a new pregnancy, but the numbers looked questionable.  From 25 to 38 over 48 hours.  Not awful, but not great.  So my OB ordered a progesterone test.  That, he promised, would tell me more.  (Namely, is it a normal pregnancy or is it an abnormal or ectopic pregnancy.)

We waited for what felt like an eternity for the results of that test, knowing that I couldn't go home to my village until it was clear this wasn't an ectopic pregnancy.  Finally he called us in.  The test was inconclusive.  My progesterone was high enough it could be a normal pregnancy, but low enough he couldn't rule out ectopic.

I would have to stay. 
Two more days.  
For further testing. 

 We headed reluctantly back to the hotel to change our flights, car rental and hotel reservations.  Instead of going home Saturday as planned, we now wouldn't leave until Monday.  The time between leaving the hospital on Friday night and going back for more blood work Sunday morning was an eternity.

I was devastated to be stuck in Anchorage two more nights, away from my children and husband.  I was devastated to find out that I was indeed pregnant again, only to discover that the pregnancy wasn't progressing as it should have been.  

Somehow we limped through those two days and made it to Sunday morning.  All night we had prayed that the results, whatever they were, would be clear.  The idea of having to stay in Anchorage indefinitely until the pregnancy proved it was either viable or not, felt like torture.  

Sunday morning I gave blood and exactly two agonizing hours later received a call from my OB.  My progesterone had dropped from 14 to 7, and my HCG, which had gotten up to 49 the afternoon I gave blood at the hospital, had dropped to 30.  With both numbers dropping my doctor felt confident that this was not an ectopic pregnancy.  Unfortunately this also showed it not to be a normal, healthy pregnancy.

He assured me it was safe to go home, and that it should pass naturally within a month.

So now, I wait...


 In the meantime, I had to get home.
 So yesterday morning we packed our bags,

 headed to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage,

 and said our goodbyes.

The trip was certainly not what we had envisioned (before the first miscarriage and after it!) but I am so grateful she was there, by my side, as I walked through yet another heartbreak.

 I hopped on my plane and got one step closer to my boys.  The flight was quick and painless, except for all the empty time I spent thinking about how I am most likely done having babies.  


 When you leave Anchorage it's all snow capped mountains like you saw above.  By the time you reach Bethel, it's all flat, frozen tundra, covered with tiny ice lakes.

It was freezing when I had to climb out of the belly of the plane and onto the tarmac in Bethel.  It was five degrees and COLD!  While I was waiting, I was approached by a person named Simon (who was adorable), whose wife Kristina (Sorry if I spelled your name wrong!) had spotted and recognized me in the Anchorage airport, but didn't want to approach me.  Once she left to go check in for their following flight and he was waiting for their luggage, he asked if I was the Cunningham girl.  I laughed and said yes, and we spoke briefly about how my blog had helped them in preparing for their move from Pennsylvania to bush Alaska.  It's always so fun to randomly meet blog fans (if I can call them that!) and I love to hear that my experience and posts have been helpful to others who are relocating.  

Please, if you ever see me about, no matter what I am doing, or how flustered I may look surrounded by my three energetic children, feel free to say hello.  Tell me you read the blog.  Let me know that you're there, and we should be friends!

 After that fun encounter, I quickly gathered my luggage and booked it over to RAVN to get checked in for the afternoon flight to Marshall.

 After four hours of reading and waiting, our pilot called our flight.  We loaded the plane and I let Josh know I was on my way.

We took off with tears in my eyes.

I was finally going to see my boys.

Seeing Mt. Pilcher and that red barn building at the airport have never made me so happy.

I landed and as soon as my feet hit the ground, I was in Josh's arms. Oh, I was so happy to hug that man of mine!  Then I made my way to the truck where our beautiful boys were waiting.  I hugged Wyatt first, and by the time he peeled me off of him, I was bawling.  Then I hugged Jack and Logan and they were like, "Are you crying happy tears?"  

This mama is home.
And she's crying happy tears.



Krista said...

Oh man, I'm crying for you. What a crazy up and down trip. So sorry. :(

Fun to have some blog celebrity status though and cool that you could help someone else. :)

sylvia said...

Im so sorry I hope you have a quick recovery with hormones etc. Take care of yourself , I can tell you are a great mother and wife to your family!!

Kristina said...

Oh sweet girl...I am praying for a miracle! You are so strong and such a fantastic mama. Praying for pece that surpasses all understanding my dear friend.

W Bryant said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time - for strength, peace, comfort, and healing. I'm not exactly known for saying the right thing, saying it well, or saying it at the right time, but I hope this message comes across alright. I may not know you personally, but I do enjoy reading your blog and want to tell you I am sorry for what you are going through. I am however glad you had someone with you this trip, and that you are now safely home with your husband and sons. Also, I hope you know what a strong and brave woman you are. ***None of us knows what our stories will be and the book is not over yet.***

Anonymous said...

There are no words to make this pain better or pass more quickly but you are not alone. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sending you hugs.

You are such a wonderful woman, mother, wife. You are such an inspiration. I love the way you love to learn and grow even as you guide your precious little angels on their learning journey. You set a great example for them - and us!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us. The love and happiness on your boys' beautiful faces brings tears to my eyes. Even the occasional frowny face melts my heart. You are a blessed woman. The trials are HARD but the blessings immense.

More hugs.

Bad Rebecca said...

I'm so sorry for everything you have gone through. You are so strong and brave. Thank you for sharing-- you are in my thoughts.

Simon and Christina said...

Hi Shelly! Know that we've been following your journey these last 20+ weeks quite closely. We're praying for all of you. Thanks for all of your great tips about bush Alaska! Next time we cross paths I promise to find you and say hi. Simon enjoyed getting to meet you!