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.

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

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.

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.

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.