Quick Holiday Wish

Sending love to all my readers during the holiday season. If you are struggling with infertility like myself, or with loss of a loved one, strained relationships, feelings of sadness, anything- I know the holidays can be tougher than regular days. Please take care of your self this holiday season. Know you are not alone in whatever you are going through, and that it will get better. I don’t know when, but it will. It has to.

xoxo

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.

Infertility, Miscarriage and Grief

I will start this post the same way I ended my last one, by stating that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  My recent miscarriage made me reflect on my fertility journey and I realized that I was grieving throughout the entire process, but in different ways. I’d like to share the different ways I grieved with you. Maybe you have felt the same. Maybe you have felt completely different. But if you are reading this my guess is you have gone through some sort of loss or heartbreak and I hope that sharing my experience can somehow provide you comfort.

1. The first time I grieved was after my first miscarriage. This also happened to be my first pregnancy. I was heartbroken,  I cried a lot, and took off work, but I was able to get “back on my feet” relatively quickly, with the help of rationalization. This was an early first trimester miscarriage. The baby would not have been healthy. This was nature’s way of doing things “for the best.” Also, so many women have miscarriages and go on to have healthy babies– at least that’s what doctors and non-doctors kept telling me. I’ll just keep on trying. I was sad but I had hope.

2.  Over the next 2 years, my hope was completely destroyed. Not a single pregnancy after trying on our own or with the help from our reproductive endocrinology friends. During this period, I grieved much more frequently, but on a smaller scale.  I was able to go to work, but sometimes I would cry on my commute to and from. I could get out of bed and function on a day-to-day basis, but if I checked social media and read about a new pregnancy, I’d be in a bad mood for most of the day. I found myself declining invites to baby showers and other baby related events. I was slowly withdrawing. During this period, I wasn’t grieving over a loss per se, but over the same endpoint- nothingness. I felt hopeless and helpless. The lack of control over my situation tormented me.

3. A second pregnancy, with a heartbeat detected, followed by a miscarriage (actually I’m still waiting for that to happen. That’s another story). This one hit me hard. I still cry daily. I couldn’t go to work for a while. I could barely get out of bed. I could barely eat. I did not want to see anybody or talk to anybody except for my husband. I was sad, devastated and angry. I strongly questioned my faith. I was in a state where absolutely nothing could make me feel better. I am still in this state and I don’t think I will ever fully recover. But one thing that helped a little is the passage of time. It made me realize that there are things I cannot change. I am in the midst of another loss, and I cannot reverse this. It will always be heartbreaking and devastating. I feel what I feel. But I have to move on. See my doctor, come up with new plans, take care of myself, go back to work and get things “back to normal.”

I  will end with this: if you are going through something, ANYTHING, that is getting you down, tell someone. A loved one, a friend, a co-worker, a therapist, a counselor– anyone. You might be surprised how supportive they can be. Support is so important during a time when you are most vulnerable.

From the Highest of Highs to the Lowest of Lows

I don’t normally like to share medical updates, but I think I have gone through every human emotion imaginable over the past few months that I wanted to share.

So remember when I told you that I needed IVF? (see Putting the I in IVF) I asked to take September “off” because I would be out of the country for 2 weeks for a conference and I didn’t want to miss any of the monitoring or have my trip interfere with scheduling the retrieval.  My doc told me “Sure, we’ll begin after your next period.” Well…

My next period never came.

WHAT?! No way. Iv’e been seeing my reproductive endocrinologist for over a year and I was not able to get pregnant AT ALL despite using all different types of medications for ovulation induction, trigger shots and even IUI. And now, I go on a completely UNMEDICATED cycle, and I conceive???? This is unreal. The last time I was pregnant was over two years ago. This is huge! Maybe I don’t need IVF after all! What a story!

Although my husband and I were over the moon with happiness, we were also cautious about our expectations, because the last time I was pregnant, it ended with a first trimester miscarriage. But so far, things were going well. I was going in for hcg checks every few days and the levels were appropriately rising. Good sign.

Then I went for my first ultrasound. They found the gestational sac and yolk sac, but no fetal pole. This worried me a bit, because during my last pregnancy, the ultrasound was not lining up with the expected dates. But my RE told me “don’t worry, you probably just ovulated late. Come back in a week, we should be able to see the heartbeat by then.”

I was pretty nervous. I kept thinking back to my last pregnancy where the heartbeat was never detected. I went for my return ultrasound. I told them I was nervous. They said “Why? Look, there is your baby and there is the heartbeat.” They found it almost instantaneously. Oh my God. This is really happening! Finding the heartbeat is such a reassuring sign! Again, the fetus measured to be younger than expected since my last period, but again, “I ovulated late.” They wanted me to come back in a week.

So I went back, this time without the hubby. Everyone was overly cheerful. The receptionist asked “is this your last visit with us?” My doc saw me and said with a smile, “still nervous?” He proceeds with the ultrasound. He stops talking. He shows me the fetus and the cardiac activity.  He tells me that the fetus was very small and did not grow appropriately. He then proceeds to measure the heart rate. It’s 90 beats per minute, which is slow.  You know things are bad when you can hear your doctor say “shit” under his breath. He told me that things didn’t look good. The fetus was still alive, so there was nothing we could actively do, but he wanted me to come back by the end of the week. That would either confirm the worst, or maybe a miracle would happen and everything would be fine.

Since then I couldn’t even bring myself to go to work. My husband and I were devastated. We let our families know, and they were devastated as well. They cried with us, and the grieved with us. I went back for my repeat ultrasound, and our worst fears were confirmed. I will be having a miscarriage. Again. They sent me for a slew of bloodwork and they gave me collection cups so they can study the products of conception. So now, I wait for this dreaded thing to happen. A piece of my heart has left and will never be replaced.

What went from an amazing 2 months changed to the worst week of my life in an instant. I’ll come back and write about the coping and grieving process, but in short, there is no wrong way to grieve.