We made plans to go home for Christmas to surprise our families with the good news. We were realizing that our lives were about to change and we couldn't have been more excited. Our house instantly went from a comfortable size to too small with discussions of turning Nick's "I love me" room into a guest room and making the third bedroom the baby's room. (As you can imagine, Nick wasn't too excited about this idea! Why do we need a guest room anyways?? Ha!) I also downloaded a baby name app on my phone and began questioning Nick daily on his favorites. Each week we got more and more excited, and were having a harder time keeping the news from our family. Seeing Nick kissing my belly and talking to baby saying things like "Don't make mamma throw up today!" and "I can't wait to meet you!" have brought me the most incredible feelings of joy and love for both him and our baby.
Unfortunately, the next part of the story isn't as happy.
On Wednesday, November 30th while I was at work, I started bleeding. I texted Nick immediately and told him I needed to talk to him. Luckily, he happened to be walking out of the sim building, where phones aren't allowed, just a few minutes after I sent the message. I was in shock and couldn't even think of what I needed to do. I hadn't really told anyone at work that I was pregnant so I couldn't just tell them I was bleeding and leave, so I paced around the halls for a good 10 minutes. I searched for my managers that I had told, and couldn't find them anywhere. Finally I found the charge nurse and I told her what was going on. She walked with me over to Norfolk General ER which is connected to the heart hospital where I work. Nick arrived as I was getting my vitals in triage. They did a few exams, 3 different types of ultrasounds, and drew what seemed like all of my blood for testing. After 9 hours in the ER, we walked away with the following information: They were 95% sure it was a regular miscarriage but there was still a 5% chance it was an ectopic pregnancy. They did not see any gestational sac on the ultrasound which meant I had either miscarried or that the pregnancy had implanted somewhere other than the uterus (most ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube which can be very dangerous for mom). My hcg level (the hormone in your blood when you're pregnant) was over 5500 (1500 is considered a likely pregnancy). They told me to follow up in 48 hours to have my blood drawn again to make sure the levels were trending down to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and to make sure that everything had cleared out. Overall, we were very happy with all the doctors and nurses taking care of us in the ER. They were very compassionate and informative and we are so thankful for all of them.
Before leaving the ER, we had the chaplain come in and speak with us. She talked with us about grieving and healing and asked if we had plans to name the baby. Nick laughed and told her how I started asking him the day we found out we were pregnant what his favorite names were. I had a feeling that the baby was a boy and of course Nick was always hoping for a little boy he could teach to fly. We looked at each other and at pretty much the same time said two of our favorite boy names: Isaac Benjamin. Isaac means laughter and Benjamin means right hand son. So we decided to call him by name: Isaac Benjamin Choffel, or IBC like the root beer :)
I followed up with my primary care physician 48 hours later and they drew my blood to check hcg levels. They told me that since it was Friday and the lab was closed on the weekend, we would have to wait until Monday for the results. This was a bit frustrating seeing as ruling out a possible life threatening situation would have to wait 3 days. We called Nick's sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Jason who are both OB/GYN's in San Antonio, TX to get their opinions. We talked to Ashley, who was very reassuring, and said that the important thing was the levels were drawn and that it should be fine as long as I was asymptomatic.
It was a long weekend waiting for results.
The nurse finally called me at work Monday and informed me that the levels went down to about 3800 but that we still needed to schedule a follow up ultrasound just to make sure. Scheduling an appointment to see an actual OB/GYN was another huge pain we had to deal with, but long story short, we ended up getting an appointment Tuesday, Dec. 6th (today) at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. The Dr. was GREAT. She did another ultrasound and we had my hcg levels drawn again. Unfortunately we left the hospital this evening with just as many questions as the doctor had. She DID find a gestational sac on the ultrasound, however it wasn't nice and round like she would expect to see. It was slightly deflated and misshapen which she said was a little bit worrysome. The baffling thing is instead of my hcg levels going DOWN like you would expect to see, they went UP to 11,000. The conclusion: inconclusive. We have to come back Thursday or Friday and have more blood drawn and another ultrasound to get another data point and figure out what is going on in my belly. We are trying not to get our hopes up too much but at the same time we remain hopeful and know that this is all a part of God's plan and that He will take care of our family!
We will be sure and update everyone as we continue to get more information and results. Prayers are welcome and appreciated!
Nick, Laura, and Isaac Benjamin