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.


  1. Cristy you are absolutely an amazing person. I am so happy that you have chosen to fight this head on and you are so determined to overcome. It takes a truly strong hearted person to do that. Sending a hug your direction and looking forward to following and supporting you regardless what path you choose.

  2. We did anti-phospholipid antibody testing and anti-thyroid antibodies. The clotting disorders (factor V leiden, etc) are associated with late 1st tri m/c, so I opted not to do that. I am going to email you some review articles about immune issues that I have found. Also, Coming to Term by John Cohen is an interesting read. It's a bit old (2000's) but I found it reassuring. We have thought about a 2nd opinion (Dr. L actually recommended it), but I'm not ready to leave them yet. I think we will probably get a 2nd opinion before we give up on IVF altogether, but for now, I'm happy and I trust them. Good luck with your appointment on Friday.

  3. Oh Cristy, I've been thinking about you all weekend. I am so sorry to hear that you and Grey are suffering again. My thoughts are with you. I'm not a betting woman, but I would totally place a bet on you in this fight.

  4. What a beautiful post, I'm so proud of you. I know for certain that you will achieve the family you always dreamed of, and we can be thankful to those cherry blossom embabies for the gift of that resolve. Please continue taking care of yourself and know I'm here.

  5. Cristy, I admire you. For fighting through grad school, and now, for fighting to find answers for your IF. Not knowing why is so very hard. I am hopeful that the blog community and your research will lead you to ask the right questions, and that a clear way forward comes out of your meeting on Friday.

    PS You were never a victim. Always a survivor.

  6. Cristy, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. No words can tell you how deeply sorry I am for your struggle. You are a brave woman. I am glad you are moving forward with finding solutions and I know someday you will have the family you want and deserve. With love. mamajmamag

  7. Cristy,
    Wow - your words are so inspirational! After my second loss I was devastated. So encouraged by your fight!

    In terms of RPL testing - my clinic just ran it...aside from karotyping I'm not sure what else they ran. Definitely look into immune issues and thyroid (if you haven't already) there is a huge link between those and miscarriage.

    My natropath has also said there is huge research being done (don't have any to show you - I never ask for the 'proof') about gluten sensitivities and infertility/miscarriage. It apparently heightens your immune response thereby increasing the likelihood for a miscarriage. I went gluten free on Jan 1 and got pregnant in Feb. Not sure if there is a correlation or not. Maybe something to look into.

    Keep strong! You are very inspirational!

  8. You are truly amazing and strong. Such a fighting spirit! I am inspired to follow your lead regarding grad school and I know with your resolve you will win this battle and become an amazing mother. Hugs to you.

  9. I'm really hoping that you get some answers before the next FET if you still are planning on doing one. Its just tragic that you miscarried again.

  10. I have been waiting to see if you had thought through your options and it brings me happiness that you are coming out fighting. It is so easy to be swallowed up by loss and the fact that you are not just fighting for your snowbabies, but also for your right to be a parent is just wonderful. I will take some inspiration from you and harden my resolve to make this cycle happen.
    I am proud of you my friend.

  11. Your post gave me chills throughout. I think the fighter mindset can be so useful to get through loss.

    I'll tell you what my RE ran for RPL. I know there are docs who run lots of other tests, but I trust mine for my situation, so didn't push for additional testing. The tests they ran for me were: karyotype for me and my husband, anti-cardiolipin (IgM, IgA, IgG), anti-beta-2 glycoprotein 1, lupus anticoagulant, prolactin, and TSH. I honestly did not research these at all--they just seemed to be part of my doc's standard RPL workup.

    I also asked for my vitamin D levels to be checked. I'd had other thyroid tests shortly before my 2nd miscarriage: thyroid profile (TSH again and thyroxine) and anti-microsomal thyroid antibodies.

    My doc didn't test for stuff like NK cells, I think because she's not a big believer in that kind of immune stuff contributing to loss.

    Sorry this turned into a novel. Let me know if you need anything. I'm thinking of you and your husband as you deal with your loss.

  12. This post is so inspiring to me. I have a really hard time changing my mindset about anything, but you make a good point. You are def giving me motivation to have more of a "This will happen" attitude this cycle. I know this will happen for you and Grey, one way or another. Hang in there and take care of yourself.

  13. I admire your strength & courage. Hope is what has always helped me through. I wish you the best and hope that your dreams comes true in the very near future.

    Regarding tests, my RE was not big into testing but I would have your thyroid checked, and blood clotting issues like mthfr.

    Thinking of you.

  14. I am very sorry for your losses. I do recommend a second opinion with a RPL specialist. I remain an unexplained patient, but for many, there have been real golden successes. I suggest testing to include SCSA for your husband and do check vitamin D. There is a long list of my tests to share. Shoot an email to auntmisfitATgmailDOTcom and I'll give you the summary.

    It will happen. You must believe it.

  15. Losing yourself is easy to do. I think it is a normal defalt for us. But channeling that loss into anger, and inturn morphing it into resolve- well knock me over with a pitch fork and call me Bill because that kind ofof strength will get you places.

  16. My heart breaks for you and your loss, but at the same time, it is inspiring to read about your strengthened resolve. The determination you have to be a parent is something to be admired. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  17. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope that you are able to get some answers very soon. Your optimism is inspiring and has really forced me to check my attitude about some of our own struggles with infertility. I wish you the very best!

  18. Your strength amazes me. The fact that you are picking yourself up and fighting is inspiring. Beautiful post. Hoping and praying your Dr can figure out what is going on. Hugz!

  19. I'm a new reader who linked through, and I want to say I am so sorry for your loss. This is an inspiring post and a good reminder about the importance of hope. Wishing you strength to get through and hopefully your doctor can come up with some solutions for you.

  20. I'm also a new reader, referred by Her Royal Fabulousness. I can relate when you talk about comprehensive exams, dissertations, infertility and miscarriage. I'm sorry for your loss, and I wish you the best of luck.

  21. I'm sorry for your loss. I can relate to your discussion of comprehensive exams, anxiety, dissertations, infertility and miscarriages. Here's to peace, joy, and hope.

  22. I'm sorry for your loss. I can relate to your discussion of comprehensive exams, anxiety, dissertations, infertility and miscarriages. Here's to peace, joy, and hope.

  23. I am truly amazed by your strength of spirit. Not sure if this will be helpful for you, but I've just had the full immune blood testing done - all except for NK cell testing (I asked for it after our first failed IVF/suspected early miscarriage in Jan). My doc ordered the following:

    - Thyroid screening
    - Tests for thrombophilia and antiphospholipid antibodies
    - Karyotyping

    I tested positive for the Prothrombin II gene mutation so will be on aspirin for our next transfer. My gut feel told me there was something going wrong at implantation stage, so I followed it up with the tests because I didn't want to go through multiple failed IVF's, thousands of dollars and repeated heartache, if there was in fact something wrong and something we could do about it. I'll add here that I would recommend these tests to anyone, who like me, had been diagnosed with 'unexplained' infertility.

    I have also found this particular website very useful: in particular point number 14.1.2 on this page. There are more detailed notes on all of the tests if you go through the main index here:

    This link is not written by a doctor but instead, by a very experienced IFer, and I have found it to be very useful as an information resource.

    Sorry about the essay, but hope this helps!

    All the very best of luck with moving forward. Keeping you in my thoughts. BW x

  24. I'm an rpl patient. We did parental genetic testing, thyroid blood work, clotting factors, another rpl work up (I don't remember exactly what was in that one) and a progesterone level test. I believe I have a LP defect.


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