Numb

Haven’t updated in a while. I have nothing new to share, or at least, nothing exciting to share. I did switch fertility clinics because I moved states for my job. The new clinic is working me up from scratch before we proceed with another transfer. I have lots of little things “wrong” with me, but nothing big enough to account for all my miscarriages, so that’s frustrating. I was supposed to have a scope with endometrial biopsy, but then covid entered our world…

I’ve mainly been working from home, which is nice, although I have been going to the office from time to time. Even though my family planning is on pause for now, I am oddly calm about it. I just found out 5 new people were pregnant over the last 3 days, and who cares. People make jokes how in 9 months from now there are going to be a lot of babies born, and I shrug my shoulders. (would I love to be one of them? Of course! What are the chances of me being one of them? Probably low.) I’ve been through so much physically and emotionally that I feel like I used up all of my negative emotions.

I’m sure they will come back.

In the meantime, stay safe, be well, and please be extra considerate of yourself and others.

Obsessed with Pregnancy Tests?

So, before this whole infertility garbage consumed my life, I used to be a very positive, laid back person with a very Type B personality. After dealing with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss for years, I became a Negative Nancy. Recently, I feel like I have become a little OCD, especially when it comes to checking pregnancy tests at home. Whether I am doing a cycle or not, the week my period is due, I find myself checking at least once a day, sometimes even twice a day. I use the ICs (aka “internet cheapies”) so I have a huge stash at home and don’t feel as guilty about “wasting” the tests (because that is esentially what I am doing. Wasting.)

The thing about the internet cheapies is that the pregnancy line is often very light and can be hard to see, especially at the begining of a pregnancy. I would know because I have used thme when I was pregnant and I have seen what the line looks like. So you would think I would know how to interpret these tests. But what kills me is even when I get a clearly negative result, I find myself constantly holding it up to the light, looking at it in 500 different angles, to see if maybe, just maybe, there is a faint second line there. I drive myself crazy! And then I essentially do the same song and dance every day until my period comes.

Why do I do this? I don’t know, maybe I need that glimmer of hope in my life. Although I hate to get excited about anything prematurely, only to be let down later.

Infertility is the worst.

Mom Culture

Hi y’all! How is everyone’s new year so far? Anyone feeling completely jaded? I am!

One thing I noticed is that I have a new trigger, woohoo! And by trigger, I mean seeing something that conjures up negative feelings and has the potential to ruin my day. Up until now, my biggest trigger was pregnant women. Trust me- baby pictures, pregnancy/birth announcements, baby showers and gender reveals are no walk in the park, but there is something about seeing a pregnant woman that honestly breaks my heart. Clearly these women are doing nothing wrong or offensive. It’ just that all of the happiness they are feeling, I am feeling the same intensity but in sadness, jealousy, bitterness and frustration. I have never carried a pregnancy to term, I wish I knew what that was like. I wish these women knew how lucky they are. Do they know hoe lucky they are? It’s funny, I know exactly how I feel in my head but I am having trouble articulating it.

Anyway, I realized a new trigger that I have, and it makes sense- MOM CULTURE. I don’t know if that’s an existing term or if I invented it. But when I say mom culture, I mean making EVERYTHING about being a mom, mostly on social media (and in real life too). Here’s an example. An acquaintance of mine recently had her first kid. She posted a picture of herself and some friends out to dinner. She captioned it “mom’s night out.” AND THAT DROVE ME CRAZY. It’ hard enough I had to see her other pregnancy related content. Now that she finally has some “intertiltiy friendly” pictures to share, she has to bring it back to the fact that she is a mom? Of course she is probably over the moon to be a mother, I don’t want to stop her from feeling this way. But for me, someone who doesn’t have any children and would do ANYTHING to be a mom, it just makes me so sad when I see all these moms flaunting their new status. Nothing against them at all, I promise. It’s a trigger. Makes me sad. That’s it.

Another example- someone I follow asked on social media if anyone gets their kids gifts for valentine’s day. An innocent question, but that is assuming that everyone reading that has kids. Clearly I don’t have kids, so just one more thing that doesn’t apply to me. Wonderful.

And then other moms join in. They call each other “mamma.” They talk about their growing families. Label themselsves as proud working moms or stay at home moms- because mom is their new identity. They post mom-related croud-sourcing questions. I hate croud-sourcing in general, but I don’t need to be asked where I can find the most sustainable, organic, chemical free crib.

I’m not singling out moms for being moms. But seeing the strong mom community presence is just a reminder of how badly I want to be included in this mom club, and how, through no fault of my own, I am still excluded.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but…

…if you can help it, please don’t bring your kid to your fertility appointment. Believe me when I say that I don’t want to sound insensitive. I know that infertility and miscarriage do not only affect women without children, and I know that having to go through it is a nightmare no matter what. I get that. And I also understand that it is not easy or cheap to arrange for child care. But please hear me out. I went to a fertility appointment the other day, with my future plans very much in limbo. I was not happy to begin with, as I can imagine are most of us in that waiting room. Anyway, in the waiting room was a couple with a toddler, among others. The couple with the toddler were, understandably, making the most noise and drawing the most attention. The toddler was walking around, playing on her noisy iPad… things like that. Totally innocent! But it made me feel down. Obviously babies and children exist and I will be seeing them out in the world. But I don’t want to see them at my fertility clinic, the ONE PLACE where I don’t feel alone, the ONE PLACE where there are other women going through similar struggles. I fall into the category of women who would do anything just to become a parent. I don’t have a child to go home to and give extra hugs and playtime after coming home from my fertility appointments. I don’t have that.  I am not saying my struggle is better/worse than yours, but it is different.

Just like going to a baby shower is hard because it is a reminder that you are not pregnant, seeing babies in the fertility clinic is hard for me because it is a reminder that I am not a mother.  I’m not expecting you to agree with me, but I ask to at least try to understand where I am coming from.

 

 

 

No no no no. Not Again.

With a heavy, devastated and frustrated heart, I write this as I was given the news today that I will be having another miscarriage. My THIRD.

I thought this would be different. This time, I went through IVF (twice!), sent the embryos for genetic testing, and had an embryo transfer.

Yes, I had an embryo transfer in June, and it took!  Some people like to give updates on these blogs/forums every second, but I was hesitant to provide my update because I didn’t know how things would turn out in the end. But then again, the ones who are always like “OMG I’m freaking out!” always seem to end up with a good ending, am I right? Maybe I should have updated more frequently. By the way, I don’t mean to single anyone out or offend anyone, I am just being bitter.

So yes, we had the transfer, and when we found out we were pregnant we were “cautiously optimistic”. Obviously very happy, but we also knew that one good hcg or ultrasound today does not guarantee a good one tomorrow. In fact, we wouldn’t feel completely at ease until we had a live baby in our arms.

But something is clearly wrong. Three first trimester miscarriages. Most cases of first trimester miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, but we ruled that out with genetic testing. So something else is wrong and we don’t know what it is.

What IVF has taught me… a second time!

Hi guys! If you were following along, you may know that I was planning on going through another cycle of IVF so that I would have more embryos to work with (right now I have only one, which is amazing but I figured I’d do another round before the famous biological clock runs its course). If you are new to IVF and are looking for a general overview of it- like the process, what to expect, etc- you can start here (via IVF! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). I think I did a pretty decent job summing things up 😉

But now, having gone through IVF a second time, I learned even more about the process! And it would be my pleasure to relay not only my experience, but also some tips and tricks I learned along the way. Because I’m technically an expert now, right?

Some advice, in no particular order:

1) Take some time to think about your previous cycles. What went well, and what could have gone better? Since hindsight is 20/20, was there anything you would have wanted done differently? Or would like to do differently in upcoming cycles? I find this to be super helpful before starting ANY cycle! Sometimes the fertility monitoring can make us feel like a mere statistic, but no. We are individuals and what works for some might not work for others. And to that end…

2) Schedule an appointment to meet with your fertility specialist in person before starting a cycle, especially an IVF cycle.  It’s nice to actually sit down with you provider and re-group to make sure you are both on the same page. If you have ideas, suggestions or questions, now is the time! Infertility has made me feel so helpless, so it is important that I advocate for myself whenever I can. I can’t recommend this enough- please advocate for yourself, and question any time something does not seem right. The worst that can happen is maybe we misunderstood something and the provider can re-direct us. The best that can happen is that we help ourselves. At the end of the day, we know our bodies best.

3) Determine the anesthesia to be used and come up with a “pain plan.” Both of my retrievals were under conscious sedation- aka I was awake and alert (even though I technically was not supposed to be alert. I was alert alright!). Both of my retrievals were painful, I will not sugarcoat that. BUT- my second retrieval went a lot smoother. Here’s why. With conscious sedation, my nurse would alternate giving me painkillers and anti-anxiety meds through an IV.  During my first retrieval, she was pushing meds IN RESPONSE to SEEING ME in pain. For my second retrieval, I did not wait for her to see me whimpering in the chair. If I felt something that hurt, I would ASK the nurse to please give me something before the pain became unbearable. And yeah, I asked a lot. Call me whatever you want, but this method helped a lot more.  Again- advocate for yourself. I would say the worst pain is at the very end of the procedure, and the first few hours after. When my first retrieval ended, I was given extra-strength tylenol. I then had a 1-hour car ride home and the pain was still there. It did get better by the time I got home, but it was not fun. So I asked my doctor what to do about pain to prepare for my second retrieval. He actually prescribed a painkiller and allowed me to take it as soon as I was allowed to eat after the second retrieval. That time around, the car ride home was fine! I can’t speak to what the experience is like for general anesthesia, but I’m sure after the procedure, there is still soreness.

4) Don’t forget about constipation! Sorry if this is TMI, but after the retrieval, everything in my lower region felt sore. Having to poop was painful especially the first few days after the retrieval (is there a more sophisticated way of saying poop?). So here is my recommendation- on the days leading up to the retrieval, eat lots of fiber-rich foods. You want to be able to empty your bowels before your retrieval because if you don’t you will feel sore AND constipated. And that is no fun.

5) Put yourself first. Please! It’s important to be relaxed, so don’t push yourself during the days leading up to and even after the retrieval. It’s okay to decline social events for a little self care. On the other hand, if social events relax you, then go all out! In case you can’t tell, I’m an introvert 😉 But seriously though- it is very important to take the stim injections around the same time every day, and you don’t want to be stuck rushing home worrying if you’ll make it in time. These medications have to be refrigerated so it’s not like you can take them with you anywhere you go.

6) Do whatever you can to make you feel stress-free. For me, it was upping my organization game. I set alarms in my phone for all the different meds I needed to take. After I injected the meds, I would record it in my planner- the cycle day, the stim day,* the medication, the dose, and the side of my abdomen that I injected. This made it easy for me to rotate sides. Yes, I could have very easily used my memory, but it was nice to have an extra backup. It’s also helpful to have a written copy of things so you can look back.  *(So if my first injection was on cycle day 3, I would record that as cycle day 3, stim day 1. And then the next day would be cycle day 4, stim day 2, etc… )

7) It’s okay to be emotional. Infertility is no walk in the park! For my first IVF cycle I was very hopeful and in a great mood throughout. But having to go through another cycle again, I felt soooo defeated.  I would have to take a step back and re-frame my thinking so that I wouldn’t go down a rabbit hole of negative emotions. It took effort, but it was better than blaming myself for feeling bad. Instead, I accepted the fact that I have every right to feel bad, but for now, let’s try to focus on the good.

8) Be prepared to constantly feel “in limbo”- this applies to anyone in the infertility process. We try so many different ways to get pregnant, and while there may be small victories along the way (nice follicle growth, good hormone levels, even a positive pregnancy test) for me, it’s not a complete victory until the bundle of joy is in my arms. I hate to end on such a cynical note, but I’ve been through my fair share of disappointments. So for now, I take everything in stride.

I hope this was helpful! I would love to answer any questions you may have!

Can I start IVF already?

Ah IVF. I hoped I wouldn’t need you. But now that I know I need you, I need you NOW. Why are there so many things getting in the way of our love, when we are clearly meant to be together? One thing I wish I knew about IVF- not only is IVF itself a process, but the checklist prior to starting is a process too! I have been ready since September 2018!!  Here are the things that got in my way:

-To my biggest surprise, I got pregnant in September- no complaints there! But then I miscarried in November. I lost a potential child and also months off my TTC timeline. It was (and still is) a VERY dark time for me.

-My hcg needed to drop from the thousands, to <2. And it took months for it to get there.

-Next, I needed a sonohysterogram. That didn’t take long at all, but I couldn’t even schedule it until my hcg was low, which, see above, took months.  I totally understand the reason why, but still, more waiting.  Side note- I got some pretty bad cramps from the SHG! Despite taking motrin before!

-Next I needed to wait for authorization approval, attend an IVF class and pick up my meds. All done, but boy did I make sure to move this along.

-Next, I needed to take estrace before my IVF cycle. And guess what- it messed up my periods. My periods were FINALLY occurring every 28-30 days for the past few months. And now on day 34, still no period in sight. No I’m not pregnant again. I now need to take provera to induce a bleed, so here goes another few weeks or so of having to wait.

So can I start IVF already? I’ll let you know when I know.

Frustrated With Your Fertility Clinic? Comment Please!

Hi all, happy new year. I was going to post something sappy about reflecting over last year and my hopes for this year, but no.  A lot of bad things happened to me last year including a miscarriage at the end of the year, so I’m not in the best place to be sappy.

I’ve been going to my fertility clinic for over a year now. The more time goes on, the harder the burden of infertility weighs on me, and I am trying not to let that tarnish my view of the fertility clinic that is supposed to be helping me.

But I am pretty frustrated with my clinic, and I want to know if this is a systemic issue across all/most clinics, or if I just have bad luck.  Like most clinics, bloodwork and ultrasound monitoring  is done in the morning. When I get my monitoring done, I usually get a call or email from one of the nurses to relay results and plan. This is fine. My problem is getting in touch with my doctor. If I want to talk to him, I have to go through the nursing line. I leave a message with the nurse, she talks to my doctor, he answers her, and the nurse relays the message back to me.  I trust the nurses, but when you pass along a message, who knows if things get lost or misinterpreted. This is not my doctor being a jerk– at least, I hope not!– this is how my clinic works. All doctors in my clinic communicate with their patients via the nurses. But getting a message relayed to you is not the same as having an actual conversation with the doctor! If I have any follow-up questions, the whole thing becomes a back-and-forth nightmare. And I am tired of it. Is it that hard for a doctor to get on the phone? I am lucky to be in a clinic that has a respectable name. And when I have an actual appointment with my doctor after a failed treatment, he does spend a lot of time with me. But if he orders tests and results come back after the appointment, I do not hear them from him. When I had the miscarriage, and they were unable to perform genetic testing on the products of conception, I did not hear this from my doctor. Not even a courtesy call to apologize or explain why.

Am I being unreasonable? Am I just losing my faith? Also, is your fertility clinic like this? What do you like/dislike? I think it’s good we know about the options available to us.

Coping with the Winter Holidays

The holidays have always been a tough time for me while I was struggling with infertility, but this year was especially hard, as I had a miscarriage right at the start of holiday season.

What I find so hard about the holidays is the emotional burden. Yes, holidays are supposed to be a happy time, however it is quite difficult to be happy just because you are “supposed” to be. I can’t be happy on demand. Not when I am still mourning my previous loss and not while I am unsure of what the future will bring.

What we do on the holidays is up to us. Sometimes, being with family/loved ones is a nice distraction from our problems. But sometimes it can make us feel worse. Thinking of all the traditions you loved as a child, and being unable to share it with yours. Seeing other family members with children of their own. It’s emotionally taxing! To that I say- do what is best for you.  I received news of my fetal loss the week of Thanksgiving.  I cried to my family over the phone but there was no way I could attend my large family gathering and put on a happy face, even for a few hours. I needed time with my husband to mourn, to reflect.

I’m not advising you to skip on holiday traditions, but rather do what will bring comfort the most.

As the new year is approaching, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting (more on that later, probably). Stay strong and wishing you all brighter 2019.