Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting back on the roller coaster

The main focus for the past couple of weeks have been healing and getting back into work. Work has been wonderful for the healing process, as I've been able to focus on my students and my lesson plans. Still, in the back of my mind, I've been thinking about the pending FET. Thinking about when this will happen, what it will take to prepare and trying not to worry about the outcome. Because of work I haven't had a lot of time to think about this.  Until today.

This morning, I received a phone call from the nurse that handles the IVF schedule for my clinic. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I been very fortunate to find this clinic because of how outstanding the doctors, nurses and staff are. So, without surprise, the conversation with E went quickly, was to the point and very informative. Basically it comes down to this: I'm on the calendar for a FET in the middle of March. Seems so very far away, but in reality it isn't and there's a lot to do.

1) I need to go in for a blood draw on Friday to check my progesterone levels.  They want to see where I'm at in my cycle.
2) If I'm in the luteal phase, then I start Lupron on Sunday. You read that right, THIS SUNDAY!
3) Grey and I are being sent consent forms.  We need to sign both of these and have them notarized in order to proceed with the cycle.
4) At the end of Feb, I go in for another mock transfer as well as a SIS (saline infused sonogram). Basically, because of the D&C, they want to check that my uterus is healing properly and then they need to repeat the measurements for the transfer.  Considering all the posts I've read about transfers-gone-wrong, I'm more than happy to chug a couple gallons of water in order to go through the procedure again.
5) If everything checks out, my first ultrasound will be at the end of February.

The nice thing about all of this is that I won't have as many appointments nor are they worried about pushing my ovaries. Plus the drug regiment is lighter, resembling what I was on after retrieval through to the D&C. Simpler and calmer.

Yet, after getting off the phone with E, I immediately felt the familiar wave of anxiety begin to rise. And immediately all I could feel was a sense of dread knowing that I would once again be allowing my life to be dictated by injections and pills. The madness of it all.

I've spent most of the day in a cloud because of this. Yes, I want to be a mother more than anything, but I also don't want to go through this limbo again; it's hard and exhausting. So as I made my way through the day, I slowly came to the realization that if I was going to survive around round of this roller coaster ride, I needed a few things to change.

1) I will schedule some time for myself to meditate and relax each week. Getting back into meditation on a daily basis will be essential for staying sane on a daily basis, but I also think I've earned that weekly bubble bath.

2) I will start jogging again. I was actually pretty good at this last semester, but fell out of practice because I was so bloated from the stims. Not an issue this time, so no more excuses.

3) I will make a point to do non-fertility related activities.  This one I've already started doing with the help of colleagues.  I actually had a chance to hang out at the faculty club with other co-workers last week. I was a lot of fun and very needed. Clearly that needs to happen more often.

4) Dinner parties need to start happening again. I figure bribing friends with the promise of good food and wine is a good place to start.

5) I will make peace with this situation.  This one is by far the hardest because this is kinda it.  If this cycle fails, then things need to change.  As I've said in previous posts, I don't have it in me to keep doing treatment for many years. I'm too impatient.  So, while all of this is happening, I will take some of Grey's coworkers up on their offer of coffee to begin exploring adoption. This doesn't mean that I will forever close the door on treatment (hell, something may come up that suggests success from another round), and I reserve the right to back out of this previous statement that this is the end. But I'm also not strong enough to spend another Christmas doing the same thing over and over again.

So ladies, as of next Sunday, I'm officially back on the coaster, riding through those crazy loops and hoping that at the end there will be good news and joy. G_d help us all.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Of sore boobs, hummingbirds and First Aid Kits

I've gotta ask: has anyone had sore boobs after a miscarriage? I've been experiencing shooting pain through both breasts the past couple of days. Completely new experience for me. And before anyone gets overly excited, I'm fairly certain this is not a pregnancy symptom.

In other news, I have a pair of Anna's hummingbirds who have decided to stay the winter with us. I never saw hummers as a child, so I've been completely fascinated by them and am learning so much (had NO idea these guys could perche and chirp). Anyway, I'm currently at the mercy of these two nuggets as I'm trying to make sure that they are well feed. And are they particular! I made the mistake of not replacing their food for a couple of days and also letting it freeze. Boy did they let me have it! For the record, Grey thinks it's both funny and sad for me to be apologizing profusely to something that weighs less than a pound. Can't help it, though. Anyway, does anyone know anything about hummingbird shelters/ houses? I know they make nests, but I don't know if they're for long-term shelter.

Finally, I was listening to NPR and KEXP the other day on the way to work and found a new band called First Aid Kit. As it's rainy and cold here in Western Washington State, this music has been warming my heart.

Happy Sunday, everyone! May this next week be a good one.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I remember the beginning of this TTC journey all too well. Grey and I were optimistic, so certain that it wouldn't be long before I was pregnant. As time went on and we didn't get pregnant, I watched as women who had been trying for about as long as us or less became pregnant, one after another. I did my best to be supportive and congratulatory, but as time went on, those announcements became harder and harder. The worst part was the loss of connections and support, as these women moved on to have successful pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies. It's like there are two camps that exist in the world: those who are mothers and those who are infertile. Rarely do the two camps talk: partly because hearing complaints about raising a new baby has been difficult for someone struggling just to become pregnant. But I suspect the other problem is that fertiles too often put their foots in their mouths around infertiles.  For instance Grey has co-workers who, until recently, have thought nothing about complaining bitterly about their lot as parents. What changed was him telling them of our journey and, most recently, our miscarriage. For now, they are quiet.

Over the years, I've become hardened to this situation, chalking it up to a part of this journey and learning many techniques for dealing with surprise pregnancy announcements. In addition, I've been fortunate to find this community and people in real life who have been supportive of us while we've been in treatment.

Recently though, a new wrinkle has been throw into the mix. It started with a card from someone I knew in high school. This individual is nice, but clueless at best and keen on announcing his life achievements to all the world. I also don't hear from him unless he wants to gloat. So when I got the card that was of the exact size of a birth announcement in the middle of my IVF cycle, I made the decision to mark "Return to Sender." My most mature moment, probably not. But I was dealing with a lot of emotions at that point and didn't need the added stress. Two days before my first beta, I get an email.
Hey Cristy,
          Sent you an announcement about the birth of my daughter, but it got sent back to me. Then I tried calling you and it said the number was no longer in service. Then I tried Facebook to tell you the news, but I couldn't find you. So I figured I would try this. . . . . Hope you're alive.


Anyway, this message was the beginning of a surge of pregnancy announcements for those on their second and even third child. Where as previously I was able to swallow my pain and wish them a brief congratulations, I find I'm struggling to even do that, particularly in the "oops" cases. With each of these announces came the additional sting that not only am I infertile, but I'm being left in the dust by people who have no trouble conceiving. While they're complaining about balancing pregnancy with child-rearing, I'm left with a mourning this miscarriage. I'm happy for these people, I really am. I just wish they weren't so smug about it.

The problem comes with the fact that though I don't like being so distant, I no longer feel guilty about having these feelings. Granted, I recognize that no one is plotting to make me feel bad by procreating as quickly as possible. But I also no longer feel the need to congratulate who conceives without a thought every time they announce they are knocked up.

All of this is complicated by the fact that I don't have the same animosity toward pregnant infertiles or infertiles who have resolved their infertility. And I think a large part of that has to do with these women not only getting it, but also being willing to support those of us still in the trenches. Granted, this isn't universally true, as I know perfectly fertile women who have been awesome about being supportive and, likewise, infertile women who have become insensitive as soon as they achieve pregnancy. But it's like the rest of the fertile world has become separate from our existence. We may pass one another on the street, but neither of us has anything we can really say to one another. And, it's really too bad. Because with a little bit of compassion vs. silence and looks of pity, words of support instead of one-liners like "just relax," I think we'd all feel better about the situation.

My whole point with this rant: being lapped sucks. And it hurts all the more right now as I realize that today, if I was still pregnant, I would be 8 weeks along. Instead I sit here with an empty uterus and memories of 4 days when after 2 years on this journey I actually had what comes so easily to others. Pardon me if I don't jump up and down when I'm blind-sided by a round-two (or three) pregnancy announcement.

End rant

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Last night few nights, I've been having nightmares. My personal favorite was one from a couple of night ago: I was working with a group, trying to protect our home. We were overwhelmed, surrounded by a force that would take away our home. We were desperate, so I began searching for answers. On one end was the uncertain solution of fighting. But there was a myth of summoning a mystical guardian who would wipe out our enemy and protect us. There was a price for pursing this route: I had to pick-up, pet and then move to another chamber a spider.  A big hairy spider. Somehow, beside every warning going off in my body, I did this. Because I needed to protect our home, our family. The reward was that the guardian did appear. To our horror, though, it was not what it seemed, And I was left with a spider that was threatening to harm me. What I had subjected myself in hopes of protecting my family was ultimately our undoing.

I'm not big on dreams having exact meanings, but I do believe that our dreams reflect what our subconscious is processing. So, after calming myself down due to encounters with phantom spiders, I began to reflect and came to a conclusion for what is triggering this series of nightmares:  I'm scared of having another miscarriage. I'm scared that my body will kill another potential child. That all of this will be for nothing.

Logically, I know that the loss of this pregnancy in January was nothing I could have prevented. I did everything the doctors told me. Yet, I've struggled with the idea that all of this has been due to chance. That maybe there's something going on that we've missed.

The past couple of weeks, I've been searching for answers for my infertility. I've scoured through the PubMed hoping to find some reputable source on connections between unexplained infertility and immunology. Nothing (or at least nothing trustworthy). I've turned to Dr. Go.ogle in hopes of finding something that would help guide my search. More rubbish. All of this lead to a long fight with Grey, one of the rougher ones we've had since we've started treatment. His concerns was that I was allowing myself to believe the quackery; not assessing clearly the rubbish that litters the internet and preys on those who are desperate for answers. And, most importantly, that in an attempt for answers, I would inadvertently harm myself.

Last Saturday, we sat down and had it out. Grey pulled many articles from some of the top IVF centers around the US looking for answers and they all said the same thing: try again. Because right now, we don't fall into the RPL spectrum. There's no indication to even begin thinking about that route. In addition, there's data to suggest that IVF success rates are higher the second or third time around.

So, armed with all this information as well as the information I had been finding online, Grey and I met with Dr. Optimism on Monday. The appointment was pretty straight-forward: she checked to see how I was recovering, we went over the pathology report from the MVA (confirmed pregnancy tissue was found in my uterus), gave me an ETA for the cytogenetics and described what information we would likely be getting back/ what they would be looking for (balanced translocations are the main concern) gave me paperwork for a final beta (found out yesterday that HCG level = 6, so I'm officially no longer pregnant) and then talked about scheduling the FET. Finally, I brought what I had been finding about unexplained infertility and the suggested connection with immunological issues.

I love Dr. Optimism for many reasons: her ability to explain completed issues, her cheerful bed-side manner, her connection with each of her patients, etc. But one of the things I value the most is her ability to talk candidly about any issue, no matter how strange the topic. Basically her explanation came to this: through RPL, there is data for a connection between APL and clotting issues that is accepted by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. But there is no data suggesting such a connection for unexplained infertility. We talked quickly about Factor V Leiden, my family's history with type I diabetes and my eczema and she did acknowledge that if this FET didn't work we would have the possibility of exploring these possibilities. But for now, there was no medical indication. Unfortunately, unexplained is still unexplained. But that doesn't mean that they won't provide the best care possible.

At the moment, I'm satisfied. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I do trust my doctors and because of what Grey and I have (and have not) been able to find. I realize that what I'm saying isn't going to be popular with everyone, but I also know that for me, until we have more data, we need to proceed with what we know.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow days

Well, as I'm sure most of you know, Seattle is in the middle of a snow storm. The drop in temperatures and the accumulation in precipitation has resulted in the city being shut-down, except for essential services. We're currently lucky to have power (no overly large trees in my neighborhood to interfere with power lines), but not everyone is. It's all suppose to start melting by tomorrow.

Probably the thing about this storm that has gotten the biggest amount of attention is Seattle drivers. I've seen my share of videos, with cars sliding around and into one another. Looking out my window, I can see the result of some of those encounters. Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of head shaking, but I do need to point out one thing that is generally overlooked when people are watching all of this: Seattle has some steep hills.  Steep enough to sled down when you get a few inches of snow. It's bad enough that even a seasoned winter driver as myself knows to stay away from the hills and to walk vs. drive. Where I start shaking my head is after watching people who attempt these hills and, without fail, lose.

Anyway, I digress.

Because of the weather, the past two days I've been home. This normally wouldn't be something that I would be frustrated by, but considering I was out sick on Monday and barely functioning on Tuesday, I'm really to be back in the world. Or at the very least, not stuck inside.  The reason I was out sick? Well, Sunday night the cramps started to intensify. By Monday morning I had full-blown menstrual cramps, ones that I haven't had since before I went on birth control at age 20. And with the cramps came bleeding.

Monday was spent trying to figure out how to manage the pain and bleeding. The bleeding wasn't overly heavy, but it wasn't spotting either, which initially had me a little bit worried. After all, I thought they had removed everything during the D&C, so I wasn't expecting anything like a normal menstruation. The cramps were a new challenge: Advil helped, but the heat pad actually made them worse. It took me a couple of hours to finally figure that one out, during which time they came in intense waves. I broke down after hour two and called the REs for advice. Despite the weather, Dr. Practical called me back immediately and calmed me down. Based on what I was experiencing, she wasn't too worried, but she recommended no heat pad, more Advil and to call her back if things didn't change so they could start pain management. This left the heat pad for Jaxson, who spent the next couple of hours after that laying completely prone on it. At least someone was happy.

By Wednesday, all the cramps were gone. And outside of some spotting, I'm back to my pre-IVF state. It's almost like November-early January was a dream. A long dream filled with so many emotions and a sad ending. Usually with those, I'm happy to wake up and tell myself that I'll never have to live through something like that. But in this case, me feeling better has had me beginning to worry about the FET that is looming. What that experience will hold.

To be honest, I'm a bit terrified of this next step. Not because of the physical discomfort from the medications and the procedures, but because I don't want to have another failure. I know logically that we do need to proceed, as staying in a state of doing nothing is ultimately worse. But losing another pregnancy is not something I want to go through and I'm terrified of the thought of doing a FET only to be back in the stirrups for another D&C.

Because of all of this, I've been doing more reading into reproductive immunology. This is a topic that is still quite controversial, with people falling into two camps: it's relevant or it's not. Because of this, finding articles from reputable journals has been hard. I'm not going to lie, there's some junk out there. There are people who write things that make little to no sense to me, covering up their hogwash with jargon in hopes of convincing everyone that the reason they don't understand is because they're not as smart. If I've learned one thing during my time in science, it's that these people are liminal and not to be trusted. But, there are some good articles: doctors and scientists who are interested in educating the public about this area and are trying to help.

Where I'm going with all of this is that I'm thinking about talking with my REs next Monday about the possibility of autoimmune disease. My family now has a history of type I diabetes and for the past year, right before I start menstruating, I've developed eczema on my eyes. That and the fact that we now know that Grey and I can make embryos, but there seems to be a problem with implantation suggests that it's worthwhile asking. And, to date, my REs have been very good about talking with me candidly. Yes, there's a risk of them blowing me off, but considering they haven't done so to date, I find it unlikely.

Today, though, all I intend on focusing on getting Grey outside, making some snow angels and finding some hot chocolate. I'm leaving you with a photo of two very happy kitties and a song that makes me want to dance.

Nice and warm in their condo

Monday, January 16, 2012


This past weekend, Grey and I journeyed to our sanctuary. The journey was not without complications, as we encountered a snow storm while making our way down the coast. At one point, the storm was so bad that we almost didn't make it. At that moment, we looked at one another, remembering similar moments during our journey through infertility and decided to chance the road for a few more minutes.  Through luck and cautious driving, we made it to our destination.

Sunday morning, I awoke to familiar panges from menstrual-like cramping. As I cursed my body while hunting for the Advil, I turned over and looked out onto the ocean.The view from our room is the same as the one above.  I began to watch the waves as they rolled into the shore. As each wave crested, slamming into the shore, so did my cramps peak. Before long, I was left only with the waves. Mesmerized with the peaceful roar and they're steady pattern, becoming lost in their beauty. It was only then, as the snow began to fall, that I knew it was time to let go of my fear of the future and move to the final stages of my grieving process. Acceptance, reconstruction and hope. 

Being at the ocean has always been a spiritual experience of sorts. I grew up around lakes and always found peace with being near water. But the coasts of the Pacific Northwest have an added element due to the cooler temperatures, leaving them shroud in mists a lot of the time. Though sunbathing is a rare event in the winters, I've learned that wandering through those mists can be incredibly therapeutic when all seems hopeless in the world. 

This time as different from anything I have every seen before, though. The winter storm brought with it lots of precipitation in the form of snow and I saw some of the fattest snowflakes I've ever had the pleasure to behold. With the snow was an added level of silence, muting the roar of the waves so that it all seemed like a dream. Moments later, the clouds parted and suddenly a large rainbow appeared in the sky. Wide at the base and with a full arch. And with that rainbow, peace finally returned to my heart. Somehow, things are going to be okay.

Grey and I spent the trip reconnecting and regrouping. We talked candidly again about the plan, with me offering options that I never would have considered before. Finally, in a moment where I felt like I would lose myself, he held me and reminded me that we promised not to break ourselves in order to bring a child into this world. Because the reality was, if we were broken, how could we be good parents? It doesn't mean we'll be giving up, it just means that the plan is firmly in place for the next 6 months. We will try again. We will give it our all. And no matter the outcome, we will move forward together.

Today, I'm no longer frightened. I don't know what the future holds for us, but all doubts from decisions in the past are gone. Sure, there's everything that I could have done. But there's no guarantee that the outcome would have been different or for the better. I've made the best decisions I could during those times and despite how much infertility sucks, I don't know if I would have done things differently.  


Saturday, January 14, 2012


Silence. That's what my home has been filled with. The phone hasn't rang since Wednesday and things have been quiet around here. What's been strange is that I really haven't pushed for more interaction with the world. I've preferred the silence, as it brings no reminders, no triggers. I've been living in a cocoon.

The problem is, I hate the fact I'm currently in this state. Yes, a lot of bad things have happened in the past couple of weeks; things I hope I never have to go through again. But I can't stay in this state. Life is too short and I made a promise to Grey that infertility wasn't going to break us. To wallow means the bitch wins.

There have been some good signs suggesting that I'm beginning to emerge from my cocoon. The cramping from the D&C has begun to subside and my body feels stronger. I'm dreaming again too. A good sign that my soul is finally beginning to heal. My need for sleep is decreasing and my energy level, though still low, is beginning to rise. The thing is, to continue the healing process, I need to start taking steps to promote healing. And this is a problem because a very lazy part of myself doesn't want to leave the comfort of the cocoon. It's like trying to get out of bed early on a cold winter morning: the first step of getting out from under the covers is always the hardest. Yet, I know if I don't start, the wounds will never truly heal.

Over the years, Grey and I have found that following trauma, a retreat to a safe haven has been critical for allowing the healing process to advance. During summers while we were both in graduate school, hikes into the mountains or camping was an easy solution to reconnect and feel rejuvenated following failed experiments or bad work weeks. But for more serious traumas, we've retreated to the ocean. Wandering through the mists that engulf the shore and the constant lower roar of the waves helps me find my footing and forces a sense of calm on my heart. It's spiritual in a way. Almost like being reborn.

Tonight, we will journey to our special place. The skies are threatening snow, yet we will chance the weather in an effort to advance this process. I have a few things that need to be finalized before we leave, but with luck we should be able to begin our journey before the weather turns nasty.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Grief. It's such an ugly, though necessary, process. One can spend hours reading article after article on how best to deal with it. Yet everyone is different. Some will spend longer periods of time than others at the different steps. There's no correct way to journey through this process. But one thing I've found is that sometimes grief can trigger change; opening doors that previously were unknown.

The past couple of days, I've been searching for these doors. Searching for an explanation for why this happened. My REs were clearly as surprised by the outcome of the IVF cycle as Grey and I were and are advising us that we should try again with the embryos we have. The thing is, I'm not much of a gambler; I like hypothetical explanations for what might have gone wrong with options for how to test those possibilities.

My anxiety over trying again comes from the fact that we are "unexplained." Based on all the tests Grey and I have undergone, there is no reason why we haven't been able to achieve pregnancy. This IVF cycle didn't give us much insight either, as everything went exceptionally well. I responded well to the drugs; I ended up with 13 mature eggs. Grey's sperm was able to fertilize my eggs and we ended up with 8 beautiful embryos. I still remember the excitement in Dr. Optimism's voice when she called to tell me that we were able to freeze the remaining 6. It was all considered textbook.

So why? Why is this happening? What is it that went so terribly wrong? Because, after two long years on this road, I have a hard time believing it's just a bad roll of the dice. I'm worried we're missing something. Something important.

If you Google "Unexplained Infertility," a number of websites and articles appear. Many will scare the hell out of anyone, using terms even I haven't heard of. What I managed to put together with the help of the National Library of Medicine is that unexplained infertility falls usually into 3 categories: problems with getting sperm and egg to meet (usually due to mild endometriosis or scarred fallopian tubes), inability to fertilizer (poor egg quality, poor sperm quality, genetics) and finally implantation failure (genetics, maybe immunology). The beauty of IVF is that it over comes the first category, and one can get an immediate answer for the second. But the third one is tricky. One failed IVF attempt isn't enough to raise red flags.  Usually it takes 2 or 3.

In a way, unexplained infertility is a curse. Don't get me wrong, I'm not belittling anyone who lives with male factor infertility, endometriosis, PCOS, blocked tubes, etc, as these diagnoses are life-changingly awful too. But with these diagnoses usually comes a treatment plan and an idea on how to proceed. With unexplained, from the moment you walk through the door, the doctors are clueless on how to help. Some are even arrogant enough to assume that this is all in your head and will be readily resolved. But as time goes on, the conundrum grows and you begin to question whether what's limiting you is something no human will be able to resolve.

Bu there are many hypotheses: I've read about mutations in the folate pathway, specifically focusing on a mutation for an enzyme on the biosynthetic end, and how they COULD be a cause. The big problems with these papers is that they only show correlations with a small population and their statistics havent' been overly convincing. Though I do believe these mutations exist, I have a hard time believing that a single mutation is the case of all of this. Especially this one mutation as it's easy enough to treat by supplementing with folic acid, which we're very good at doing in this country. Another hypothesis which does make a bit more sense to me  is this idea that one's immune system may play a role. I need to send some more time here, but considering I don't have a family history of autoimmune disease, I don't know if this will help.

Finally, I've begun digging back into the research about  the mind-body connection. There's been a lot of work that's come out showing a direct link between mental state and basic body function (hormone regulation, mood, even IVF success).

I'm scared about proceeding with this FET because I don't want to go through another miscarriage; another failure. I had the D&C yesterday: it was painful, but it was over quickly. The hardest thing was waking up today and immediately feeling that my body was empty. It's like any residual hope was sucked out of me. I know it was the right decision, but it's not something I want to ever go again. Hence I search, hoping that I'll find something that will help guide my doctors so that I can prepare my body for the next round. So that I can reduce the risk of living through this heartache again.

The only thing that has kept me going has been the love and support I've received from so many of you. I've read every single one of your comments, and they all reminded me that I'm not on this path alone. A very special thanks to MissC for her amazing gift. You have brought so much peace to my heart. Because of all of you, I know that I will be okay and will be able to move forward. For now, I just need to build my strength.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weird Goodbye

It's confirmed: Pregnancy is not viable. We had our ultrasound today and I should be 5w5days pregnant if everything is normal. Instead we saw a very small gestational sac that measured under 4 weeks. Dr. Sage and Dr. Optimism agree on the diagnosis: blighted ovum. Medication has been stopped. I have a D&C scheduled for Wednesday.

I'm numb from all of this. Part of me wants to be angry and bitter over all of this. To scream at everyone who told me coming up to this moment that everything would be fine and that I simply needed to relax. But the other part of me is simply at peace because the roller coaster from last week is now over. Grey and I will move forward with our plan; we will try again with our other 6 embryos. And though we don't know the outcome of this plan, we do know that we will expand our family. For now, we have some closure.

The other question I'm struggling with is whether this is actually a loss. I hurt so much right now because I wanted this baby, but in truth we didn't get very far with this pregnancy.  We never saw a heartbeat; an image of a fetal pole. It's more like the loss of an idea instead of the loss of something that was real. Because of this, I feel guilty for even grieving, for calling this a miscarriage. Because I know so many of you have lost your babies, experienced the pain of no longer seeing your baby's heartbeat.

So this is my weird goodbye to this baby. My tribute to my child who I will never hold in my arms. Your father and I loved you and will always love you. We both wish today would have been different, that a miracle would have happened. Instead, all I can say is I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you and help you grow. That I couldn't bring you into this world. You will always be in our hearts.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Beta history (i.e. "the rollercoaster)

28 December 2011: Beta #1 = 66
30 December 2011: Beta #2 = 124
1 January 2012: Beta #3 = 91 (diagnosis: chemical pregnancy)
3 January 2012: Beta #4 = 119
5 January 2012: Beta #5 = 300
7 January 2012: Beta #6 = 887

I have an ultrasound and beta #7 scheduled for Monday morning.

Crawling back into my cave now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Short post today. My mind is racing and putting together coherent thoughts has been very difficult.  

Here's why: apparently I'm still "pregnant."

On Sunday, Grey and I received the news that my HCG levels were down from 124 to 91.  Dr. Practical suggested that it was a chemical pregnancy and that I should stop the meds. I pushed for one more beta to verify this (I'm a biologist and I like to see trends). Tuesday morning ultrasound showed some blood in my uterus.  Dr. Sage was pretty convinced that I would start bleeding that day and that we would be reassessing in two weeks.

Then I got the phone call that evening. It's never a good sign when your RE starts the conversation with "there are days when this job really isn't easy." Take home message: HCG levels were back up to 119.  Another beta scheduled for Thursday. I'm ordered to stay on medications. Mourning has been put on hold.

I'm pretty sure that everyone believed that I would be bleeding by now and that the next beta would level off or drop. Imagine all the new confusion when, today, we learned that my HCG levels are at 300.

Let me be clear: no one is celebrating at this point. There's a lot of doom and gloom, with my medical professionals preparing me for the worst. There's the very real possibility that me being "pregnant" means the only thing that is growing is placenta (blight ovum). So I may have to have a D&C (tentatively scheduled for Monday). Then there's the all so fun possibility of an ectopic. 

But the other possibility is that I only lost one embryo. That the other one implanted late and is now growing. This is something that is talked about after the fact, because it's rare. Add to the fact that Grey and I have learned that HCG isn't really a great indicator for how the pregnancy is progressing (think PSA tests for prostate cancer), but it's the only early marker we currently have, and that adds a whole new level to the anxiety mix.

I want an answer. "No" hurts, but at least I get to grieve and have some closure. Limbo is it's own special hell and Grey and I are beginning to wonder what we did in out past lives to deserve this.

Beta #6 is on Saturday. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Picking up the pieces

The last couple of days have been hard ones. Harder than I every imagined. I've cried a lot, both in private, with friends and with Grey. I've watched him cry too, which broke my heart all over again. I've bargained with the universe, had moments of sadness and anger. But mainly I've been kicking myself for allowing myself to finally feel some peace follow the first couple of betas. Though short, those few days where everything was progressing allowed me to feel that we might actually be able to move forward for the next few months. How foolish of me.

Today I went in for my final blood draw. When I called the clinic to find out where I could pick up my lab slip, I learned that Dr. Sage wanted to see me after my blood draw. I barely held it together in the waiting room, dreading seeing all of them again. But I'm glad we saw him. Dr. Sage examined me and confirmed that, though the pregnancy didn't last, there were good signs that this cycle had been successful. He told me that he thought it was simply a bad roll of the dice and encouraged us to take a month off and then to proceed with a FET. I have an appointment in 2 weeks with Dr. Optimism to check on my progress of recovering and to talk about the future. In the meantime, I've been ordered to rest, allow menstruation to start and to take care of myself. Both Grey and I received many hugs and condolences as we were leaving, reaffirming how lucky we are to have found this clinic.

The question, now, is how long do we stay on this path. The answer is different for everyone; some stop at IUI and immediately move on, others will continue with treatment for many years. There's no "correct" choice and I would never be naive enough to suggest someone take a particular path. Yet it's something, if you've been on this road long enough, that you'll start thinking about.

Last night, something shifted. A good friend took me out for some tea and we spent 2 1/2 hours of me talking/crying and her listening, followed by 30 minutes of her offering words of support and comfort. During our "conversation" it became clear that I needed to begin the process of resolving my infertility. I've been on this journey for too long and I only have a short amount of patience left for treatment. That's when our conversation turned to adoption.

A bit of background on Grey and I regarding this issue: we come from families with two very different view points on this issue. Grey's family is rich from adoption; his maternal grandmother was adopted, one of his cousins and even his eldest nephew. He's always viewed this process as a beautiful thing, as without it he would not have the family he has today. My family views adoption as a great option . . . for everyone else. Like many others in this country, adoption is very misunderstood and is seen as something only "broken" people pursue. And adopted parents are seen as substitutes for the child's "real" mother and father. Granted, this is never spoken outright. Hell, they'll even deny it! But this summer, this view-point became glaringly clear after my mother and aunt conspired to have me adopt my cousin's son after the state threatened to remove him from my cousin's custody. My mother's response to my reasoning why this wasn't a good option of "no child you adopt will ever truly be yours" still echoes in my head.

My view on adoption began to change when I first meet Grey's nephew. Though physically different from the rest of the family, this child was clear one of them. And it was infectious, as they demonstrated to me that love was not a conditional thing. When Grey and I were starting off our marriage, adoption was something we talked about, something to consider after we started our family. It wasn't until last year that I was faced with really analyzing this option that it became apparent it was something I really wanted to do. As I talked with members of my support group about resolving, I realized that no matter if pregnancy was or wasn't an option, adoption would be the path we would take.

Now I know that the road to adoption is a hard one. The process is filled with many different options (domestic vs. international, closed vs. open, infants vs. small children) and I'm more than aware of all the stories of heartache from adoptions that have fallen through, delays and even stress from the process.  In addition, there are many things that need to be considered within the next few months, if this is going to happen, and none of it can be decided overnight. But I also see the stories of those who have come out on the other side and see how much they love their children. The joy that is there in those families. And I want that.

So, here's our plan for 2012: We're giving ourselves 6 months.  We'll proceed with the FET and hold onto hope for pregnancy. But in 6 months, if our situation hasn't changed, we begin the adoption process. I've already looked into local agencies such as AMARA and Holt, but plan on spending time that I normally would worrying about a cycle on researching our options.

Tonight, we are saying goodbye to our two embabies. We will tell them, though they were with us for such a short period of time, how much we love them and miss them. Tomorrow, we'll begin picking up the pieces and moving forward.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's over

Beta #3 = 91.

Dr. Practical has agreed to do one more beta on Tuesday, but she's fairly confident that based on this trend, we had a chemical. I'll stay on meds till Tuesday and if the results indicate trending downward, will stop all medication.

Both Grey and I are in shock and denial. Heartbreak will follow soon.
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