Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hearts a mess

First off, thank you for all the wonderful comments on the last post. I needed them more than I knew. I'm still hurting from all of this, but slowly healing with each passing day. And a big part of that has to do with this community. Ladies, you are awesome.

The past few days, I've become more and more aware of the hole that exists in me. The years of failure topped with loss has left me questioning the process and what I want out of it. Mainly this idea of continuing treatments vs trying another path. Grey and I talked at length about all of this the other night, both agreeing that the hardest thing about this journey is not knowing what the outcome will be.

Last Sunday Grey and I had a phone conference with Dr. Optimism. Following my meltdown in the WTF appointment, we all decided it would be best to have a couple of weeks off to allow me to reset. During that downtime, I had a chance to do some reading and some thinking. The hope was to find some information or formulate a hypothesis for what had happened in order to determine how best to proceed. The two weeks after this were spent looking for any new research indicating that we had missed something. The end result: nothing.

My REs are making the best decisions based on all the information they have. They are doing everything that is medically indicated, if not more. If I was losing these pregnancies later on, then APA panels and looking at clotting disorders would be indicated. But I'm losing everything around 5 weeks. There is nothing in the literature about this. And it's so frustrating because I think we're missing something, but the only way to get at it involves doing research, getting at the basic biology of implantation failure. It's amazing how little we know.

But another thing has emerged from all of this, which is that we are quickly approaching the end of this journey and coming to the crossroads for the next paths. Grey and I have both weighed our options, looking at living child-free, choosing surrogacy, or pursing adoption. We've talked about adoption extensively, but it's always been a "when we get there" kind of thing. On the radar, but distant. Since the events of this month, though, things have begun to change. Adoption is no longer distant. And with recent signs, it's almost like it's meant to be.

Two nights ago, I awoke crying from a dream. In the dream, both Grey and I were in a hospital, surrounded by cries of women giving birth. Initially I was panicked, wondering why we were in this place when it was clear I was not carrying a child. Grey silently hugged me and then whispered "turn around." When I did, I found a women in white holding a small bundle. She walked towards me, beaming the whole way, and placed the bundle in my arms. Though I couldn't make out the face, I knew that this was our child. And as I pressed this small creature close to my heart, I could feel the hole inside me begin to fill. That it didn't matter where this child came from, because I already was in love with him/her.

Waking up was torture.

As I sit here and write, I'm very aware of the hole that exists in me. How empty I feel. I'm also completely aware that I have zero faith that this next FET will work. But I also know that if we don't pursue this that we can never really close the door on this chapter and move forward. Because I no longer have this image of my children having Grey's eyes and my nose.

My hearts a mess. How I long for the day when this hole is a distant memory.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

One, two punch

They're pregnant.

That's been the theme of the past couple of weeks.

Following the confirmation that I had miscarried on April Fool's Day, it's become of month of cruel jokes. Starting with the WTF appointment where there is no explanation for why I miscarried other than the idea that the pregnancy wasn't a healthy one. Okay, I can handle that. But to follow up all of this with NOTHING being changed for the next FET, minus close monitoring and Crinone 2x day, and I felt slapped.

Then last week, Grey's old roommate (the one who's wedding resulted in half the guests with food poisoning, which resulted in Grey's sperm count dropping) called to happily share the news that they are expecting, due in September.

Punch number 1.

Finally there was the news from this morning. BIL called Grey yesterday to tell him that they are expecting their third child. Grey didn't have the heart to tell me, thinking that there would be a way to tell me the news in a couple of weeks. Instead, last night it triggered a blow-out resulting in me sleeping on the couch. He leveled with me this morning, delivering the blow as best he could.

TKO. Frankly, it's almost comical.

I need to go on record that I am in no way wishing any ill-will on these people. They are family, we love them dearly and we look forward to meeting their babies very soon.

Still, this news hurts. It hurts because we've struggled so hard to get to this point of knowing that it's possible to even get pregnant only to lose both pregnancies while most people do this without a second thought. It's one cruel joke after the next and I'm beyond tired of it. I'm tired of longing for something that feels less obtainable with every passing day. I'm tired of grieving day after day. I'm tired of all the tears, and having to make excuses when someone shares their good news. Just tired.

Dee and I had a session last night. With one look at me, she immediately booked weekly appointments. "You're not in a good place" she said, and my brief update confirmed that. So last night she had me put the image of my broken body into an opaque tupperware container to begin dealing with next week. But with the news, that image has been screaming from its plastic cage and I've been having a hard time ignoring it.

Honestly, I'm ready to throw in the towel. After 2.5 yrs on this road, all I have to show for all of this is an extra 20 lbs and a very broken heart. I no longer have faith that I'll be able to hold my biological children and the images of those potential faces have been washed from my mind's eye. And it makes me so sad because all I ever wanted out of this whole process was to one day hold them.

Today is going to be a hard day. Thank the universe I had the foresight to keep Polaris in my purse.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NIAW: Don't Ignore . . .

First off, happy National Infertility Awareness Week! For anyone who is living with infertility or know someone who is, this week is an important one for raising awareness, educating the public about infertility and sharing the concerns of the infertility community. For more information, visit RESOLVE or the following links:

  • (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility
  • http://www/ (About NIAW)

The theme for this NIAW is "Don't Ignore Infertility," and like many of my fellow bloggers, I wanted to kick off this week by tackling this year's blog challenge, starting the post with "Don't Ignore . . "  and filling in the blank as it relates to infertility and the journey to resolve.

I've been thinking a lot about this theme this past month. On a lot of levels, I've been very lucky to not be suffering in silence while living both with infertility and healing from both my miscarriages. This has been largely due to Grey, family, good friends and this community. But even with that, I'm still very aware of how ignored infertility and pregnancy loss are by society. This post by Wannabeamom demonstrated this very well and Grey has talked about coworkers' silence and discomfort follow the news of our second loss. In their discomfort of not knowing what to do, most people will ignore infertility and miscarriage/infant loss, assuming that we'll recover on our know if given time.

Infertility and pregnancy loss are both forms of death: death of children, death of dreams. Death of an opportunity to love. Hence it's not okay to push those we love, care about or work with who are suffering from this to the wayside. To simply think that with time and maybe even another baby that everything will be okay.

Unfortunately, this means that the burden of change is on us. That those living with this disease and pain must find the courage and strength to speak out to change things for the better. Not an easy task, especially while dealing with treatments, loss, a new diagnosis or simply trying to find your way through the darkness. But, as Mahatma Gandhi once said " a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." And considering we may very well only get this one life, this one chance, well: why not rock the boat.

So here's my list of "Don't ignores, " adding on to posts from fellow bloggers. If you have some of your own, I encourage you to share yours either below or on your blogs.

Don't ignore the pain of infertility:
I spent a lot of time early in this journey trying to surpress the anger and pain I felt. Add in the fact I had a lot of help from those who were clueless about what I was living with and I was a pretty jumbled person for awhile. Let's face it, pain is hard to face. To really look it in the eye and dig for the cause can be draining, both physically and emotionally. But if you ignore the pain, be it your own or someone else's, it's not going to go away. If nothing else, it will grow and become tangled with other emotions and issues, making it that much more difficult to resolve.

Don't ignore loved ones living with this disease or grieving from loss
I can't begin to express how important this is. I've had many well-meaning family members and friends who have suggested that I "just needed to relax" or "to just adopt" or offered unsolicited advice on how they were able to get pregnant like "drinking 3L of water a day while taking B12." The end result was always the same: I felt belittled and misunderstood. Infertility is a disease, recognized by both the World Health Organization and the CDC. Though there has been a lot of work showing the connection between the mind and body for helping improve treatment outcomes, for 1 in 8 couples in this country expanding their families will require medical intervention. In short, stop offering advice and ignoring the signs of infertility and start offering support. Gives us the opportunity to talk without interruption. When we lose a pregnancy or a cycle fails, send your condolences. Tertia has a great post on how to be a friend to an infertile, which I highly recommend. Most importantly, though, be there for us and surround us with love. Following my second loss, it was the emails, the notes, the care packages that got me through. I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to be surrounded by love during a time I needed it most. I get it, people living with infertility and loss can be a bit prickly at times, but most people who are grieving are.

Don't ignore the lessons from this journey
For anyone on this journey, there will come a day when you resolve. Be it through being able to conceive, through adoption or by choosing to live child-free. When you do, please do not forget what it's like to live with infertility and loss. While struggling to expand my family, I've unfortunately encountered infertiles who developed amnesia regarding this process. One couple told Grey and I that we just needed to wait until we turned 40 and then to try IUIs again (then wondered aloud why I started crying), another began emailing the my infertility support group weekly ultrasound photos with pregnancy updates, ignoring requests to stop. Even recently, a blogger I was following posted words of advice about how just relaxing resulted in her becoming pregnant, suggesting this was really all that needed to happen. All of these examples hurt because they came from people who should have known better. This journey will be unique for each person, but there are common things that will touch each of us. I'm not saying that one needs to continue to live the same emotional state as when they were dealing with infertility, but don't forget these lessons you learned while on your journey.

Don't ignore what you've accomplished
Finally, living with infertility and loss is not for the weak. The reality is, you will be changed from this experience. Most of the time for the better. You may have learned your stronger than you thought you were. Your marriage/relationship with your spouse, significant other or even friends and family may have strengthened in ways you couldn't have imagined. You may a greater appreciation for yourself and your life. Going through all of this may have given you the courage to make changes in other aspects of your life. What ever it is, celebrate those accomplishments. I never wish infertility and miscarriage/loss on anyone, but have been continually inspired by the people I've meet during this journey who have risen out of the ashes and go on to change the world in their own way. Celebrate your accomplishments.

With the beginning of NIAW comes a sense of hope that I've been missing for the past month, feeling that despite the pain for the last 2.5 yrs, there will be a happy ending to this journey. A main part of that hope comes from knowing we are not alone. That with the recognition for infertility and pregnancy loss comes the hope that one day soon, we'll have a better understanding of this disease. And that no one will have to suffer silently and alone.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This helps

Welcome everyone from ICLW! For those of you who are visiting for the first time, brief history on me. My husband Grey and I have unexplained infertility and have been trying to expand our family for 2.5 yrs. This past December we proceeded with IVF and received the news the cycle was successful. 4 days later, on New Year's Day, we learned something was wrong and a week later were diagnosed with a blighted ovum. Following this news, we decided to immediately try again. On March 14, we did FET#1 and 9 days later received the news that my beta was 306 and climbing. 5 days later, the spotting and cramping started. Despite this, my HCG levels climbed and we were told that everything would be okay. On Friday March 30, I passed a very large clot and the next morning my cramps stopped. On April Fool's Day we learned my HCG levels dropped from 8225 to 1298. Diagnosis was completed miscarriage, possibly of twins. The past month has been spent with Grey and I trying to find our way to recover and rebuild. 

A few days ago, the aftermath of this past miscarriage began to hit Grey. I've learned from this journey that he tends to process emotions after the dust settles. A response that is very different from mine. Anyway, this past Thursday was a hard one for him. He woke up angry at the world and angry at life. I worried about him as he biked to work, hoping for some sunshine as well as bike-friendly drivers. In the middle of the day, he sent me an email title "This helps me." The words brought tears to my eyes, as they've taken on a new meaning.

Tonight I am sharing them with all of you. Cyndi Lauper is an incredibly wise woman.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

(When I last saw you laughing)
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show

Your true colors
True colors
True colors
Shining through

I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Thursday, April 19, 2012


First off, thank you for the responses on the last post. I've had a chance to calm down and reflect on this issue. The decision was to not go to the meeting last night (I'm voting with my feet) and instead try to get into contact with RESOLVE about my concerns. Thing is, I'm having trouble doing that! Tried finding an email address or a contact for the WA chapter with no luck. I did call the main office today and am hoping for a response, but I think I'm missing something. If someone has a suggestion, please let me know. 

A couple of nights ago, I was looking back on photos taken before Grey and I jumped on the TTC bandwagon. In a lot of ways, life was simpler: we both had an idea of what we wanted out of life and the paths to obtaining those goals were generally clear. We had our rough moments (most people do), but my motto was "with a little hard work" whenever attacking a task that seemed difficult.

The past 2.5 yrs. have changed all of that. Looking back, I now realize how naive I was with this "sunshine and roses" line of thinking. Though it is true that a happy-ending to this story is entirely possible, what's also undeniable how changed both of us already are and will forever be because of this journey.

On some ends, this change has been for the better. Grey and I were always close, but living with infertility has strengthened our marriage in ways I didn't know possible. He has journeyed to the pits of hell with me, standing beside me during moments where it would have been easier to simply walk away. Before this experience, I was simply happy to be married to someone I loved. Now there isn't a morning I don't wake up and thank the universe to bringing this man into my life. Many other things have changed too, like learning to put the needs of myself and Grey first, learning to be more patient, etc. All these life lessons that would not have come if we had not been on this path.

But not everything has been for the better. Since losing this second pregnancy, I've become hardened. The grief has caused me to be less sympathetic to the problems of others. Some of this is legit, as it amazes me how much unnecessary drama people allow into their lives. But some of it makes me wonder if the scar tissue has turned into a thicken hide, making it very hard to connect with others.

I realize what I'm talking about isn't a new concept. There are many posts from so many amazing women in this community that cover this from many different angles. They do a better job of dissecting this than I can hope for. But what I will add is how foreign it feels to be so detached from the world. Almost like something has been broken inside of me.

As women, we learn from an early age that our role is to be "the caregiver." We spend much of our lives learning to put ourselves second for our families and loved ones, making sacrifices to help promote other's well-being. My childhood conditioning is very much to that extreme, as I was taught that my problems had to wait because "so and so" had more pressing issues that needed to be dealt with. The rational is that we are supposed to be "strong." With any hurt or disappointment, the first words of encouragement are how strong and beautiful we are. These words are meant to encourage perseverance and pushing through. Helping us find the will to reload our burdens and move forward.

Since this miscarriage, I don't feel "strong" anymore. Frankly, I feel like I've crumbled. My trust in my body has been greatly shaken and I worry at times about my sanity. Hence the hardened feeling. Because I am like that animal who, having survived being beaten time and again, is now surrounded by humans who don't understand how frighten I am. And yes, I've already snapped at many hands.

This post has no point other than the fact that I'm trying. I'm trying daily to move forward and on. Because the only other choice is to stay in this current state and it's not a place I want to be. But with the trying comes the realization that I am forever changed and what that means. How deep and ugly these scars truly are.

We have our follow up appointment with Dr. Optimism on Friday. And both Grey and I have ideas for a plan. The end of this 2 week wait is in sight. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I remember the first time I saw Gattaca. Being your average science geek, I was immediately engrossed by the story line, following the hero as he fought to achieve his dreams in a society that dictated class based on one's genetics. What made Gattaca particularly provocative was the idea that one could use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to select embryos with desirable traits. The movie goes on to show class separation for these designer babies from those conceived through traditional means, painting PGD as a tool for discrimination and portraying reproductive technologies in less than desirable light.

It's no secret that reproductive technologies are still viewed in a negative light. I've written before about the bad rap IVF gets from those who have not been touched by infertility. PGD is an even hotter issue, thanks to movies like Gattaca. The idea that one can create "designer babies" sends your average individual off on a tirade about the evils of "playing God." Rarely do the look at the actually uses of PGD, such as screen for embryos that are chromosomally abnormal and helping eliminate detrimental diseases such as cystic fibrosis. Mainly because many are ill-informed.

This morning, I received the following email from the WA Chapter for the Association for Women in Science (AWIS):
Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Invites you to
Join us for a Discussion about Bioethics, this Wednesday, April 18th.
Bioethics Discussion on Human Genetic Engineering: Why I Love Designer Babies?
Featured Speaker:Kathyrn Hinsch - Founder and President of Women's Bioethics Project
I felt like I had been punched.

A quick Google search on Ms. Hinsch reveals a biography of someone who has what I consider a superficial view on the subject matter. Add in flyer attached to this email, where she uses Gautam Naik's Wall Street Journal article to launch into her dissection of the "designer babies" topic and I found myself growing angrier by the minute.

The more I read, the more it became clear that this women has no idea the horrors of infertility. I have no idea if Ms. Hinsch has children, but I suspect that her ability to conceive and bear them has never been called into question. Add in the fact that her flyer does nothing to talk about PGDs current uses and we now have a discussion that is ripe of misinterpretation.

I feel Ms. Hinsch is adding yet another layer of discrimination against the ALI community. That her discussion on Wednesday will result in a one-sided argument against not only PGD, but fertility treatments in general. That anyone who pursues IVF will be villainized and considered "selfish." All of this coming from a majority who will not be faced with traumas caused by infertility and loss. And I'm not happy about it.

Tonight, I'm trying to figure out what to do. Part of me wants to attend this discussion solely to punch as many holes in Ms. Hinsch argument against PGD. But the other part of me feels that this may be exactly what she's hoping for. After all, everyone remembers a heated discussion. In addition, I'm still in the process of healing. As wimpy as that sounds, I know I'm not at my best, meaning it's quite possible that I'll do more harm than good. In addition, it's entirely possible that I'm making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

In short, I'm asking for help. I need some advice on how to proceed. What would you do?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

To lighten the mood.

It's Q&A season in the blog world and, as usual, I'm a bit late to the party. Thank you lovelytransitions for tagging me and giving me the opportunity to participate.  
Here are the rules:
  1. Post the rules.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
  3. Create 11 new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
  4. Tag 11 people and link them to your post.
  5. Let them know you’ve tagged them.
1. What is your all-time favorite food?
Hmm, this is a hard one. There are so many different types of food that I enjoy, many dependent on my mood and the season. But I have comfort foods and this past week I've been craving one of them: Macaroni and Cheese.   
2. If you went to college, what was your major? If not, what was your favorite subject in high school?
Depends on which part of "college" we're talking about. I received my BS in Zoology and Botany (my university did not have a biology major at the time). Originally I intended to complete the Zoology degree and then pursue a career as an ecologist working on large mammals. The Botany major only required two additional courses, so I figured "why not" and decided to be more well-rounded. Following my first plant anatomy course, I was hooked. So hooked that I proceeded to pursue a senior thesis, which got me hooked on lab work. 10 years later, I received my PhD in Biology with a focus on Developmental Biology. My thesis focused on the molecular interactions of two plant hormones and how they work coordinately to regulate plant growth and development. 
3. If you could change one thing about your physical appearance, what would it be?
Did I mention my body and I are not really on speaking terms? So let's instead focus on what I like about my body. Right now, since I've started jogging again, I find I'm loving my feet. They have this amazing ability to sustain my balance in some of the most strange terrain. Plus I love walking around barefoot, feeling the coolness of the Earth. So I'm currently a huge fan of my feet.
4. Beach or mountains?
Both. Hence the reason I live in the Pacific Northwest. 
5. What is your favorite color?
Being plant-minded, green comes to mind. But I'm quickly becoming a fan of yellow as yellow = sunshine. 
6. How tall are you?
5'6" After many years trying to convince everyone that I was 5'7", I've given in to the fact that I am your average American female in this department. 
7. If you could go any one place in the world (money is not a factor) where would you choose to go?
Despite how much I want to travel, I haven't had much of a chance. Because of this, simply traveling the world would be awesome. Right now, the goal is to head south and visit friends in Brazil and Argentina. But ultimately I'd love to see the rest of the world.

8. Who is the biggest role model in your life?
Grey. He is my rock and my light. Whenever I feel like things are too hard, I just need to picture his smiling face and I know I can move forward. Without Grey, a lot of things would not have been possible. 
9. When you die, how do you want to be remembered?
As a stubborn woman who refused to let anything or anyone dictate how she would live her life. That and as someone who loved her children with her whole being.
10. Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?
Robert Pirsig: "The solutions all are simple - after you have arrived at them. But they're simple only when you know already what they are."

Cicero: "Dum spiro spero" (While I breathe, I hope)

Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
11. Make up your own question! : If you could change anything…
I'd find a way to relearn playing the piano and make the time to play music. I gave it up years ago, but music is an amazing thing. It heals the soul. Maybe an activity for the summer.

Alright, here are my questions:
1) What do you want to be when you grow up?
2) Do you have a favorite season? Which one and why?
3) What is your fondest memory (childhood, teenagehood or adulthood)?
4) Name one thing you absolutely love about your sweetheart.
5) Speaking of music: Hip-hop or hard rock?
6) Tell me one thing you did in the past week you are proud of.
7) Tell me one thing you love about your body.
8) What was your favorite childhood toy?
9) Share a funny story.
10) Looking back on this journey, what is one thing infertility has taught you?
11) Finally, in honor of Mel's picky eater posts, share with us the one food you think everyone needs to try before they die. Explain why.

Finally, the blogs (if you've already been tagged, I do apologize).

1) HRF @ Waiting for Little Feet
2) Shelley @ tales from the waiting room
3) Lora @ Hope Delayed
4) sass @ (In)fertility unexplained
5) Detour @ Detour to Motherhood
6) Jenny @ Sprout
7) Chanel @ Just waiting for my turn . . .
8) JM @ Meier Madness
9) Lindsay @ Tiny Bits of Hope
10) Emily @ a blanket 2 keep
11) Amanda @ My life in a nutshell

Friday, April 13, 2012


About a year into the TTC journey, it became clear that I needed to find a therapist. The continual monthly reminders that things were not working was a source of stress that was greatly affecting daily life. Add in the fact that it seemed everyone around me (be it in real life or on internet support groups) was able to achieve pregnancy and I was one big ball of anxiety.

I'm no stranger to therapy. From the time I was a teenager, I would periodically see a therapist to manage my depression as well as for referrals for medication (my family's preferred form of dealing with these issues).  So when I started as a process of seeking help, I figured it was just a matter of finding someone who I could connect with. I mean, how hard could it be?

Finding a needle in a haystack would have been easier.

The issue with infertility is that it is a disease that few people understand. Because of this, finding a counselor becomes incredibly difficult as most don't know how to address the grief and anxiety that comes from treatments, waiting and recovering from loss. I had one well-meaning counselor who was dynamite at dealing with depression and anxiety as well as marital stress. But when Grey and I started talking with her about infertility, she could not connect. I remember one session where I had to spell out that I was grieving from the months of failed natural cycles and though she did have the "ah ha" moment, I knew that I could't invest my energy training her on how to help me.

So, I began looking for support. First joined a support group, which was helpful for a time, but quickly fell apart when our leader was no longer there to guide us (mind you, I have no problem with support groups, but one person CAN alter a group dynamic). Following my mother trying to push adoption of my second cousin, I decided it was time to get serious and solicited names of counselors from my clinic as well as from trusted sources.

What I ended up with was a list of 10 counselors in the Seattle area, all of them reputable but with limits as far was when they had appointments (all of them were booked solid), what insurance they took and when they could meet.

Long story short, it took about 6 months of talking, hunting and strong-arming my insurance to finally find Dee. And that process would have been a LOT longer if all those counselors hadn't helped me with suggestions of who else to talk with if things didn't line up.

The anatomy of an infertility counselor is different than most. First of all, everyone single one of them have been touched by infertility. One counselor I talked with made of point of saying she did not recommend counselors who hadn't lived with infertility as there was no way they could understand this disease otherwise (and she had plenty of examples from those failed attempts). Another thing that is important is that they have all resolved, be it through adoption, IVF, surrogacy, donor gamete or even choosing to live child-free. A final component is that they have additional training to deal specifically with infertility, be it Mind/Body (one I met actually trained with Ali Domer) or some sort of cognitive therapy.

Enter Dee. I met her in November 2011 just as I was start Lupron and finishing BCPs for IVF#1. During our couple of phone conversations it became very clear to both of us that I needed to be seen ASAP as I was processing why too much shit and not very well. Dee specializes in EMDR, a form of therapy that is specialized with trauma-related disorders. Dee's thought (and I agree with her) is that infertility is a form of trauma. Add in the fact that I'm a survivor of an emotionally abusive parent and it became clear I'm a textbook patient.

Dee helped me during IVF #1 with processing my fear. A lot of our sessions where spent with her letting me talk, allowing her to gain the necessary information to start tailoring therapy. Following my first miscarriage, I took a break from therapy, thinking that I needed to focus on healing and preparing for FET #1. With news of my second miscarriage, I knew I wasn't doing well and immediately contacted Dee for an appointment.

This past Wednesday, Grey and I met with Dee to talk about how we were processing this recent loss. It was a hard appointment, where it became clear that we both needed to talk. But what we came away with was a plan for moving forward. Starting in a couple of weeks, I will begin EMDR. Dee has all the information she needs and wants to begin working through all the trauma I've experienced, both recently as well as past. In addition, she wants to have sessions where Grey and I met with her together. Dee was quick to point out how common it is for infertility to drive couples apart, leading to separations and even affairs. Though Grey and I are not at that point, she feels that the check-ins will help prevent further destruction caused by this horrible disease if not help strength our relationship. In fact, Dee firmly believes that most couples will emerge from this experience with stronger marriages/partnerships that fair better than the average couple.

There's a lot of work to be done. I recognize now that infertility isn't the sole cause of a lot of my unhappiness and that resolving is no longer just about bringing home a baby. But as Grey and I have talked more, we've both realized that the one gift infertility has given us is the push to finally address all the dysfunction and rot that exists in our lives. Though initially it was easier to pretend it didn't exist, we now are so emotionally fragile that we have to address it. Who knew that some aspects of infertility could actually be a blessing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Body Issues

My senior year in high school, I took an AP Literature/Composition class. For those of you not familiar with these courses, it's a way for high school students to receive college credit without every having to leave the comfort of their surroundings. One of the assignments was to dissect a poem, analyzing the writers intention and the pattern.

At the tender age of 17 yrs, I picked Andrew Marvell's "A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body."

By A. Marvell
Soul.                                                               Body.
O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise          O, who shall me deliver whole,
A soul enslaved so many ways?                     From bonds of this tyrannic soul?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands         Which, stretched upright, impales me so
In feet, and manacled in hands;                       That mine own precipice I go;
Here blinded with an eye, and there                And warms and moves this needless frame,
Deaf with the drumming of an ear;                 (A fever could but do the same),
A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains                And, wanting where its spite to try,
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;                   Has made me live to let me die
Tortured, besides each other part,                    A body that could never rest,
In a vain head, and double heart?                     Since this ill spirit it possessed.

Soul.                                                               Body.
What magic could me thus confine                But Physic yet could never reach
Within another's grief to pine?                       The maladies thou me dost teach;
Where, whatsoever it complain,                     Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain;                     And then the palsy shakes of fear;
And all my care itself employs,                      The pestilence of love does heat,
That to preserve which me destroys;              Or hatred's hidden ulcer eat;
Constrained not only to endure                       Joy's cheerful madness does perplex,
Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure;             Or sorrow's other madness vex;
And, ready oft the port to gain,                       Which knowledge forces me to know,
Am shipwrecked into health again.                 And memory will not forego;
                                                                         What but a soul could have the wit
                                                                          To build me up for sin so fit?
                                                                          So architects do square and hew
                                                                          Green trees that in the forest grew.

At the time, though the poem fascinated me, I didn't understand it. I misinterpreted it, trying to make it about something it wasn't. And for years, though I remembered it, I was at a loss for it's meaning.

After 2.5 yrs of living with infertility and living through two miscarriages, I think I'm finally beginning to understand Mr Marvell's message.

Lossing this pregnancy has broken me. It's left me in doubt and frightened to move forward. But most of all, I've found that I'm angry. Angry with many things. But mainly, angry with my body. I'm angry that it has let me down, let Grey down and is not doing what it was designed for. I'm angry that it failed my children, not providing the home they needed to be able to grow and come into the world.

The thing is, I know if I'm going to move forward I have to confront this anger. I have to learn to trust my body again. So, this past week has been spent with me trying to resolve these issues by having a dialogue with my own body.

So far, I haven't been successful.

Unlike other situations where I would have nursed my body back to health, I instead spent this time nursing my soul. My worked longer hours to distract myself, ignoring my body's request for water and food. I started running again, despite the cramps. And when I plead with my body for some relief from the bleeding, promising it relaxation and warmth, it hit back with uterine pain and more spotting.

The reality is, my body and I are currently in dangerous territory. If we could be physically separated, we'd be sleeping in separate rooms and talking with divorce lawyers. And I'm at a loss for how to fix this.

Because I want to be able to experience pregnancy, to bear Grey's child. I want the ability to be a vessel for life. But I think my body has other plans.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Yesterday was suppose to be our 6 week ultrasound appointment. When it was originally made, I happily dreamed of walking into the room with Grey and holding his hand as they located the sac for our growing baby. It was suppose to be a happy day.

Instead, we had our WTF appointment with Dr. Optimism. Not an appointment anyone dreams of being part of, be they the patient or the medical provider.

It was hard seeing Dr. Optimism. She could not hide the sadness from her eyes as she started to talk about what may have happened. I know she cares and that having to be in that room with us was hard. Add in the fact that I'm not my most stable and most of the appointment was spent consoling me.

Dr. Optimism thinks this is another case of "bad luck." That it's not a genetic issue or something with me. The problem is that the literature agrees with her. That there is probably no rhythm or reason for why we aren't able to conceive.

I don't do well with "bad luck." After years of dealing with failed experiments, I've learned to stop and revisit them following a period of rest. Usually it's a matter of starting over with new reagents, changing back to an original vendor and even recognizing that it's operator error. Hence, bad luck is a one time thing for me. And in my mind, we have a pattern. Two failed pregnancies that have become problematic at the 5 week mark means something is off.

I told Dr. Optimism that I feared living through another miscarriage. That I worried about going crazy.

What I didn't tell her is that I have an additional fear. That, even with progressing forward, that I would never bring home a baby. That we would burn through all our embryos only to be told that it was just a matter of trying again. That after 2 years on this journey, we would come up empty handed.

And so, sitting on the on the exam table, I cried. Big fat tears and all. I cried for my lost children, I cried for the failure of two years, I cried for fear of an uncertain future, and I cried because of the reality that I might never be pregnant.  And because of all of this, I cried because I was crying.

It was a hard scene.

So, here's where we stand: I'm taking the next two weeks off to not think about infertility and pregnancy. I'll follow all of you, but I'm not making any decisions. In 2 weeks time, Dr. Optimism will contact Grey and me and we will have another phone conference. At this point, her advice is to repeat the Saline Sonogram to exam my uterine cavity and to proceed with another FET. If we want, though, she will also order karyotyping for both Grey and me as well as a APA test.

Honestly, I don't know what we're going to do. But I really can't think about it.

In the meantime, I plan on being hard on my body. After 2 years on this journey, my weight is 20 lbs higher than it originally was. I was never model thin, but being at my previous weight allowed me to move and be a part of the world. My current weight has hurt this. In addition, for the first time ever, my blood pressure is high. All TTC logic about being restful and loving to your body is going out the window.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Meet Polaris

I found the pattern for him last August and immediately had to make him, knitting him within 5 hours. Polaris was meant to be a sign of hope, a gift for my child. I believed in the hope he symbolized so much that I pulled him out of the hope chest at the beginning of this FET cycle as a promise to my embies.

On Sunday, following the news that I had miscarried, I picked Polaris up and crawled into bed, holding him close. On my first day back to work, Polaris was stashed away in my purse, coming out during the moments I couldn't hold my sorrow back. This toy that was meant for my child has become my security blanket, helping me deal with this loss.

The past couple of days have been a struggle. Tears have appeared for no reason and I've found there are moments where I am overcome with sadness. Monday was spent crying in the library while trying to finish grading and waiting for car repairs to be completed. Today I hid out in my office until I needed to teach, hoping to prevent others from seeing my grief. What got me through the day was having moments to hold Polaris, allowing me to remember that they did exist.

The wound created from this miscarriage is larger than anticipated. Deeper too. I'm struggling with daily dealings, trying to find as much distraction to prevent the tears. That's been the easy part.

The hard part has come with fighting the bitterness that wants to seep in. It would be so easy to give in and hate anyone who is able to produce children without a second thought when I so desperately want to hold mine. To give into despair, giving up on life all together. I find during rough moments that I have to consciously stop the unhealthy dialogues that run through my head. If not for myself, then for the ones I lost. Polaris helps remind me of that.

The reality is, I'm raw. Very raw. Grey is too. He's trying hard to hide all of this with humor and hope. But we are forever changed by this. By this whole journey.

My new challenge is moving forward as planned. Though I'm determined to be the person my children would want me to be, I'm finding that I'm feeling very alone. Grey's mother is coming out to spend the weekend with us, but the rest of the family has been silent. And, honestly, I'm hurt by this. I'm sure there are a million explanations for why, but I really can't think of one that doesn't minimize this loss. Which only makes it harder to not go to those dark places.

The only thing that helps reset all of it is sleep. And holding Polaris. Both acts help shut off my brain, living in a state of not thinking, just observing.

Three more days until we see Dr. Optimism. Of living in a state of denial and shock. All the while clinching to hope in the form of an unusual teddy bear.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


In the spring of 2007, I took my general exam. For those of you not familiar with the PhD process, most programs have a comprehensive assessment for their students to determine whether they have the knowledge base in order to proceed with their thesis and ultimately obtain their doctorate. Each institution and program is different in format and how/when this is administered, but the feeling of anxiety from the students is the same. I spent 2 months preparing for this exam, meeting with committee members and spending multiple hours in the library. On the day of the exam, though, I froze. My mind went completely blank and I found I had difficulty answering some of the most basic questions.

Somehow I passed. But the trauma from that experience, coupled with a poor sense of self, resulted in 1 1/2 yr slump where I was convinced that I would be asked to leave. Add in the fact that my project wasn't working, and I was one depressed and anxious graduate student.

In the middle of my fourth year, something changed. I decided to stop wallowing in a place of self-doubt and start taking what I wanted. I figured they now knew the impostor in their midst, might as well make the most of it. With the help of my advisor,  I switched projects and began working on a question that would ultimately lead to a publication and lay the groundwork for post-doctoral interests. I made choices to no longer isolate myself and began attending journal clubs, signed up for Toastmasters to improve on my public speaking skills and made a conscious choice to spend Saturdays with friends. What I realized was that though graduate school was a trying time, my outlook was making it worse. That I was the one holding myself back and, though there were still moments that were painful, I had to chose to move forward and demand what I wanted if I was to triumph.

The events of the past week have been the stuff of nightmares. Surrounded by beauty and signs of spring, Grey and I received the news that my body had failed our embies on Sunday. Grey and I have done our share of crying over this loss, wondering aloud why this is happening; what we did to deserve this type of pain. Honestly, we're no closer to those answers.

But something changed yesterday. Unlike January, where we were both defeated, the news of this loss has only deepen our resolve to be parents. We've decided that we both want this so much that no matter what, it's going to happen. We made the decision that, like it or not, the universe will give us our children.

In other words, we're done wallowing in the despair caused by infertility. Now we're fighting back.

Yesterday, after sleeping for a few hours, we talked about a plan. Adoption is still something we both want to pursue. But Grey wants to try one more time. He's not ready to give up on the 4 snowbabies we have left. And I'm willing to try given that our REs agree to investigating the cause for both of these miscarriages. I'm no longer willing to fly blind on the basis of "bad luck" and I've begun pulling literature from PubMed to discuss with Grey and hopefully with our REs.  In addition, we started pulling out the literature we have on adoption and made note of the different meetings from the agencies in our area.

We meet with Dr. Optimism on Friday in hopes of formulating a plan. IVF is diagnostic, and we now know where we are failing. Because of this, I want to know what we can do to investigate these causes, as now we have a pattern. Some of you have asked if I'm considering getting a second opinion. Honestly, I don't know at the moment. Both Grey and I have grown to trust this clinic, this team of care providers, and we want to speak with them about all of this prior to making any decisions. In addition, we've heard less-than-stellar stories about other clinics in this area, so seeking a second opinion may involve looking nationally. We'll know more following the meeting.

What would be helpful, though, is suggestions on testing to ask about. I'm unfamiliar with RPL panels or types of immune testing. We will be talking about karyotyping for both Grey and me.

I'm not going to lie, all of this is hard. And the temptation to curl up into a small ball is very high. But I know that's not going to change things, to help us bring home our children. I will grieve for my lost children, forever associating them with the cherry blossoms. But I'm no longer willing to be a victim to infertility. Instead, I chose to face this tragedy and fight. Fight for my family, fight for those I love who are also living this nightmare. I'm determined that this journey will not have been in vain, that something good will come out of it.

Thank you all for your comments and love yesterday. They have been and continue to be a source of strength during this time. There are no words to express our gratitude.

I'll end today with a scene from the musical "Across the Universe" that is now our battle anthem.

The untelling

How does one find the strength to go on in the midst of so much pain? When life is so hard?

HcG levels dropped from 8225 on Friday to 1293. Diagnosis is complete miscarriage. My body has killed my babies.

We're both in shock from the destruction from this storm. But the numbness will wear off soon and we will once again be left with our grief.

For now, all I want is sleep.
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