Well that was unexpected, Part II (aka, weird experiences with the in-laws)

Thank you all for your sincere messages and concern the past few days. I’m trying to hold things together and keep from thinking too much about the situation until we know more, but it’s pretty hard to not think about it with the constant reminder of the nausea and other symptoms. In the meantime though, we decided it was time to finally tell G’s family. I told my mom pretty much right away and have kept her updated along the way, but I left it to G to decide when he wanted to tell his family.

Telling them has been stranger than we could have imagined. In the past two days we’ve had  two of the most surprising and/or strangest interactions we’ve ever had with them. G called his parents on Thursday night, but he happened to catch his dad on his commute, so he ended up telling them separately. FIL was sweet, if a little in denial. He kept telling us how he’d pray for us (which doesn’t do a lot for me since we’re atheists, but I appreciate that it means something to him), and that God would fix this. Again, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want him to end up more let down later because he didn’t beleive how serious this is.

Then G called his mom, and she had a similar reaction, if a little less in denial. She said she’d pray, but she understood how unlikely it is to work out. Then she went on to tell us about how we could still do this, it could still work for us eventually. We made it clear that we don’t really think it’s an option to keep trying if we can’t figure out what’s wrong, and she eventually said she could understand that.

She also suggested that maybe surrogacy was the best option, and maybe my parents could pay for it. This offends me a little because they seem to think my parents are rich, which is far from the case. They own a small business that may or may not go out of business in the next year after they put all of their funds into it (leaving aside some for retirement). That’s a sore spot for me I guess, but we made it clear that we wouldn’t be asking them for money. Then MIL started to get into how much she has saved, and maybe if we were okay with only having one child, they could help us. My initial reaction to this was, wow, coming from her that’s crazy generous. She’s insane about saving money, which is why she might have enough to pay for maybe 2/3 of the cost of surrogacy despite the two of them having very modest incomes.

I really really don’t think we would take their money to do surrogacy, and honestly I’m not even sure surrogacy is something I’m interested in anyway. But, I was impressed that she would be willing to give us her hard-pinched pennies at all. Then, it came out why. We said we think that adoption is probably a better option for us, both because it costs less, and for other reasons as well, and she says, “Well, I just don’t know if that’s a good idea. You have to be so careful. We know so many people who’ve had problems with adopted kids. And look at all the problems they have when they grow up”.

Now, first of all, this is only sort of true for them. They do know a few people who’ve had serious problems with adopted kids. But these were people who chose to adopt very high risk babies. One had a very serious physical disability, and the other was born addicted to drugs. These are amazing people to be willing to take on those challenges, but it isn’t remotely a fair way to judge adoption as a whole. In her own family, MIL has three adopted nieces. One is very well adjusted, albeit a little annoying, and the other two have dealt with addiction. They are both extremely lovely women who just ran into some challenges (arguably partly due to the way they were raised!!). And lets not ignore just how many problems there are in the family amongst the people who are NOT adopted. I just despise the fact that she’s judging, rather openly, members of her own family for being adopted. The bottom line is, she’d rather give us all her hard earned money, that she won’t even spend to go out to dinner once a month or buy a functional coffee maker, on a surrogate for us, rather than have us take in one of those dangerous problematic adopted babies. This is so not what I need to hear right now, when I need to know that if pregnancy is not an option, I still have a way to have a family. I don’t need any additional reasons to be worried about adopting (my child’s grandmother talking about him or her as a family problem).

So, Friday morning I wasn’t in the greatest place anticipating having to go visit them. When out of nowhere, G forwards me this email:

Hi G – I have been thinking about you and J(me). We would love to have you come for Christmas. I want you both to feel comfortable about coming, so if you think it wouldn’t be a good time to travel, we understand. You know when you stay at our house, you can relax whenever you want. If you come and would like me to change any plans, I can. We are having the Christmas Eve dinner at K’s (SIL) and Christmas Day at Aunt K’s. You could drive separately on that day and go back to our house early if needed. Thursday was the brunch plans and (cousins with new baby) and (pregnant cousin) can’t come. Talk this over with J. I could cancel these plans for Thursday if you would rather not have a bunch over.  We can talk over the weekend. I said my prayers for you and J. This would be great if things turn around. Love, Mom

Wow. Just wow. I’m so shocked that these words came out of her mouth (well, hands). I never would have thought she could anticipate how hard it would be for us, particularly to see the cousins with the new baby, who are specifically the ones I wrote about here. I’m overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of this email, and I feel so so much better about going to visit (doesn’t hurt that we no longer have to see the baby/pregnant cousin). It even inspired me to think that if she could surprise me about this, maybe she can surprise me and be supportive if/when we adopt.

Then comes this morning, and we get a call from SIL. G never got a chance to tell her himself, but we assumed his parents would tell her. They live down the street and talk every day. SIL calls today to ask us what we want to drink on Christmas eve (an odd question in retrospect since she did know I’m pregnant). It was probably just an excuse to talk though. I didn’t hear the whole conversation they had, but I could tell from the odd look on G’s face that it was going very strangely. After he hung up, he said, “my sister just offered to have a baby with your brother”.

Yep, you heard that right. Her solution to our problem is to use my brother’s sperm and do artificial insemination. I just. I don’t. I don’t even know what to say. I wanted to laugh, but my stomach was turning at the thought of it (not that it doesn’t do that constantly anyway). I just said “Honey, hug me, I’m scared”, and started laughing. I mean, ewwwww! There is nothing good about this idea. I would never ask that of my brother, knowing how weird it would be for him. Plus, there is no chance in hell I would let SIL carry for us. I couldn’t handle it. We’re not exactly close, first of all. Her pregnancies have never been easy, she seemed to barely survive the second one. I guess I should be honored that she’d offer given that, but I just honestly think I wouldn’t survive the experience knowing she was suffering that much for me when we aren’t even close. That doesn’t even get in to the level of awfulness I would feel having to watch someone else (someone who has everything I’ve ever wanted and I struggle with jealously of to begin with), do the one thing I can’t do, for me. I would feel so unbelievably powerless, and useless. The whole thing is just so awkward I don’t even know what to say.

I know the appropriate response to an offer like this from SIL is to be appreciative. I do appreciate that she wants to help. But, it’s very hard for me to beleive or accept that she could be doing it from a generous place. I feel like an awful person for saying it, but the bottom line is she has never once said she was sorry for our losses. She’s never implied that she cares about how hard this is for me. She’s generally done the opposite. For example, she came to visit when I was going through miscarriage number 4. She was about 7 months pregnant. I told her how I was pretty miserable and I had just had an awful experience of bleeding so heavily I almost passed out while teaching a class full of undergrads. Her reaction was “yeah, me too, I don’t know how I’m going to make it two more months”. Just wow. Last summer when she was visiting with her 3 month old and we were talking about our situation, she said “yeah, I can’t imagine if it ever happened to E (the baby, meaning if E was infertile, not if she’d had a miscarriage with E)”. What???? In what universe is even this about your baby?? I just don’t know how to ignore all of that, and take this as a generous and sincere offer. Either way we will have to have a talk with her at some point. G left it that he appreciates the thought, but we need to let this pregnancy play out before we make any big decisions.

So, that’s been my last few days.  It certainly has been an eventful two weeks of pregnancy purgatory so far, we’ll see how the rest goes…

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A new day, a new doctor

First of all, I want to start by saying thank you to all of you amazing ladies out there who have posted such thoughtful and helpful comments this last week. I feel very different this time around, and I think a big part of that is having so much support. I know how many people go through infertility and loss with little to no support, and I feel like I’m beyond lucky.

Emotionally I might be doing pretty well (at least for now), but physically I’m doing HORRIBLY. The nausea has hit full force and I’m barely keeping it together trying to function. It starts before I get out of bed in the morning, as I’m woken up by waves of nausea. It’s always worst when my stomach is empty, so first thing in the morning is a huge struggle. I force myself out of bed and brush my teeth half doubled over (because it’s worse when I’m standing up straight). Somehow I make it through a shower (the heat has a negative effect too) and to the kitchen to eat breakfast. I always feel a little better with a full stomach, but it only lasts for an hour or two. No matter how much I eat, the nausea will be back an hour or two later, and I have the choice to stuff myself with more food and face gaining enormous amounts of weight, or suffer. I’ve been falling on the side of stuffing myself with more food, consequences be damned.

If I could just be curled up on a couch all day (like I am today), I think I could manage okay. But having to get dressed and go to work, where I have to pretend everything is totally peachy, is really pushing me to my limit. I count every single minute until the day is over, then start dreading the next day. I’ve finished 4 of 10 work days before my next ultrasound, and I’m barely holding it together. I’m not sure what I’d do if I wasn’t working part time, maybe I’d have to consider unpaid leave.

I have to say though, the hardest part of feeling sick all the time is that I’m SO ANGRY that I feel this way. I’ve had to do this FIVE times!! Is it not unfair enough that I have to have miscarriage after miscarriage, do I also have to be punished with months and months of feeling like I have the flu too? I’ve done the equivalent of a full pregnancy’s worth of first trimesters, feeling more nauseous than most pregnant women ever feel. If I actually had the flu I could stay home, or if I was a normal pregnant woman I could get away with telling people. But instead I have to pretend everything is f*ing fine, and go about my life like nothing is wrong. It just feels like kicking me over and over when I’m already down.

In less angry news, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days thinking about my options, however few, going forward. As so many of you commented, there are options out there, and the question for me always goes back to just how much time and money am I willing to risk on a longshot? Adoption has always been our backup option, our plan B. And the thing about adoption is it’s close to a sure bet. It’s expensive and seems insanely hard, but we know that we could do it and in the end we would have a child. We’ve already done a lot of research, so we know what agency we would probably use, how much it would cost (we could set an upper limit), and most of what’s involved in the process. It would also feel like we were taking control finally, after 3 years of having absolutely no control over anything. Plan B doesn’t have to be the end of the world, maybe (maybe) I could even get excited about it eventually.

BUT. I can’t do any of that while I’m bogged down by unanswered questions. I’ve always said if I had some sort of explanation for my losses I could start to move on. When you don’t know whats wrong, it feels like an answer or a solution could be right around the corner. What if I just asked one more question? What if we did just one more test? What if we saw just one more doctor? Maybe the answer is just sitting there waiting to be found, and all the horror of the past 3 years will melt away as we suddenly have a miracle cure. There are always more articles, more blogs, to read and get ideas about possible explanations. I could truly fall down the rabbit hole and never come out chasing answers that ultimately might never exist. I’m already feeling the frustration of the having wasted this last full year on a single attempt. If we’d moved on after our loss last December, like we said we would, we could have a child by now. So, as badly as I want answers, I feel like I need to be careful not to be too drawn in to the possibility that one more (test/doctor/treatment/attempt) could be the magical solution. It’s a fine line, because I don’t want to give up too early when there are valid things left to try, but I don’t want to waste the rest of my life chasing a hopeless dream either.

With that in mind, we have decided to see just one more doctor. We made an appointment with a doctor who is a definite proponent of the embryoscopy procedure. We were super lucky to get in to see him so quickly, our appointment is next Thursday (the 12th), so it won’t be too late to still do embryoscopy if he convinces us there is information to be had from it. From his website, it’s clear that he has a different opinion about RPL than Dr. O., and as much as I respect Dr. O, I’m beyond fed up with the attitude that we have to ‘just keep trying’ because there are no more answers to be had. Ultimately he may be right, but I need to at least try asking one more person. I strongly suspect that this new doctor (Dr. A), will have something different to say, and then the question will become, who do we beleive? When all you have to go on is one person’s opinion versus another person’s opinion, how do you know who to trust? I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

So, today what I’m working on is the list of questions we want to ask Dr. A. The bottomline question is, what do you think our options are? But, to get to that point, my hope is that we can look at the ‘evidence’ so to speak, in the form of my history and the details of my losses, and see if they provide any clues to the type of problem we’re dealing with. From what I’ve heard/read of him so far, I think that he may be the type of doctor who is willing to think things through this way with us, rather than just saying ‘no way to know, just keep trying’.

All of you have been super helpful already by giving me suggestions for things to think/ask about. I’m going to list the ‘evidence’ and questions that I’ve got so far (with your help) below. If you can think of anything else that I should ask about, please let me know. I’m feeling a little more optimistic at the moment, hoping that either we can make some progress with this doctor, or if not, we will feel like we’ve asked all the questions and heard all the opinions there are to hear, and maybe this will help us move on.

Evidence:

  • Strong pattern with almost all losses: bleeding at 5 weeks, heartbeat at 6 weeks, no heartbeat at 8 weeks
  • Very heavy bleeding, starting early- what could be happening so early to start the bleeding?
  • Almost all were missed miscarriages, even by 9 weeks there has never been any sign of anything progressing naturally
  • Almost all embryos looked bad or ‘weird’ in some way on ultrasound (anything from no yolk sac to weird oblong shaped gestational sac)
  • No signs of fever/allergic reaction when pregnant (sometimes thought to be related to immune causes)
  • Very high AMH- most likely not an egg quality issue
  • ‘Wierd’ uterine stuff: asymmetrical lumpy lining with this pregnancy, former very small septum
  • Periovarian mass
  • Very slightly elevated TSH (2.92 pre-pregnancy) and hypothyroid symptoms during pregnancy

Things to ask about:

  • Embryoscopy- will it help us differentiate genetic versus uterine issues? In other words- will it tell us if it’s me or the embyros?
  • Could the bleeding itself be causing the losses (some sort of excessive bleeding issue? failure to clot?)?
  • Could this be a sperm quality issue (e.g. imprinting)? Is there any way to test?
  • Could this be related to my thyroid, even though I’m on thyroid meds now? *more on this another time, I’m feeling totally different this pregnancy, none of the extreme fatigue/low blood pressure/low pulse I’ve had in the past, so it certainly seems like the thyroid med is having an effect. But, the pregnancy is still failing, so it doesn’t seem like that was the cause.
  • In your opinion, without having done embryoscopy, is your impression that this is genetic or uterine (me or the embryos)?
  • Do you agree with us that the statistics about the odds of a successful pregnancy after this many losses don’t really apply to me? This is a tough one, but I feel strongly that my pattern is so strong that without figuring out whats wrong, I will never have a successful pregnancy. I think the statistics are more relevant for people who have had different kinds of losses, or something different has happened each time.
  • Should we do more thorough immune testing?
  • And finally, what do you think is our best chance of a successful pregnancy? If the answer to this is do nothing, just keep trying, then we have our answer. Adoption it is.

Anything else you guys can think of???

A little grey blankie

Yesterday G and I decided to try something new. We bought ourselves a gift for our (still imaginary) baby. Does that sound like a totally morbid form of self torture? Jury is still out.

Here’s how it went down. A cousin’s baby shower has been on the horizon for a few months, and we finally hit the point where we couldn’t avoid buying a gift any longer.  We aren’t going to the shower (we live pretty far away so thankfully they wouldn’t have expected us to). The dreaded shopping trip was on my mind as soon as I woke up yesterday, and besides all the other obvious reasons why baby shower gift shopping as awful, I just kept thinking how unfair it was that after we’ve purchased so many gifts for other people, we might never be able to buy things for our own child. I’ve been dying to buy baby clothes since I was in high school and worked at a baby/kids clothes store. It kills me a little every time I have to buy something adorable for someone else’s baby, and know that I may never get to do so for myself.

As I was thinking about it though, I started to realize something. This perfectly represents my attitude in general, which is that I can’t plan for, shop for, or even dream about, having a baby, because it might never happen. The thing is, it will happen. I don’t mean this in the optimistic way that I beleive I will get pregnant and keep a baby, because I don’t fully beleive that. In fact, I don’t think its even necessarily healthy to think that, because it’s entirely possible it won’t happen. What I mean is that if we decide to do it, we can and will adopt. Adoption is terrifying and I’ve spent the past four months pushing it out of my mind completely, but if and when we decide to just do it, we will have a child.

A few months ago, during my second chemical pregnancy, G and I got so fed up we finally decided to get serious about adopting. We still felt like we needed ‘one more try’, but we felt so sure it wouldn’t work that we wanted to have everything in place to start the adoption process as soon as another pregnancy failed. It kept me a little bit more sane to know that plan B was in place. We picked an agency, talked about a lot of the decisions we would have to make, and even talked to my family about it. Then, thyroid testing happened, and the possibility that I might have found a fixable problem entered my mind. It was all over for adoption at that point. Even though I’m trying to be realistic about the chance that just taking a thyroid pill is suddenly going to fix my problem (it probably won’t), just letting that little bit of hope in to my mind has been a game-changer. I’ve been actively avoiding thinking about adoption and instead thinking I just have to be able to do this myself.

It’s not that I hate the idea of adoption itself, really. It’s that I hate the idea of the process, and what comes along with it. I want to beleive that when my baby is in my arms, I will not regret a single thing, but the process is just so terrifying/awful/unfair/expensive. Getting to that end point feels practically impossible, and during the whole process I will know that I didn’t have to be doing it. How would we survive the process and spend all that money knowing that we could have just kept trying? I’m worried that during the wait I’ll feel like I made a huge mistake, or feel insanely guilty.

Then there’s the issue of feeling like I have to share my child. Maybe I’m just being super duper selfish, but I want to feel like I’m the only mother my kid has. The thing is, with adoption, it’s not about you, it’s about the child, and knowing about/having a relationship with their birth family is usually what’s best for the child. Granted, when you have a baby yourself it’s also about the child not you, but there’s still no other family out there you have to share with. It feels like a huge responsibility to handle the birth family stuff the right way, and I just plain don’t wanna. It feels so unfair that I’d have to. And then there’s the horrible worry that I might end up feeling like I don’t bond with or connect with an adopted child enough. Rationally I don’t think this is a real concern, it seems like adoptive parents always have fears about this and it doesn’t end up being a problem. But I’m still scared. I play this horrible game where I look at kids on the train or at the grocery store and think, if that were my child would I be able to bond with them? Sometimes the answer is yes, the kid is so completely adorable I want to just grab them and hug them. But more often the answer is not so positive. Even just writing that I feel like a horrible person who probably doesn’t deserve to adopt. These are all awfully complicated things to try to put into a few paragraphs, but the point is, I’m terrified.

What does all this have to do with the little grey blankie though?? Well, the point is, by focusing on how hard and scary adoption is (well actually, ignoring it by pushing it to the back of my mind and not thinking about it as possible at all), I’m putting an insane amount of pressure on myself to be able to do it naturally. The past few months I’ve felt like I’m just not up for all that adoption entails, so I have to be able to do this myself. Every month I’m not pregnant is a reminder that I’m failing, and if I have the attitude that I have to be able to do it myself, then my failure means no baby ever. That leaves me unbelievably depressed and hopeless about the future.

So instead, what if I forced myself to remember that as hard as it might be, adoption is possible? That I will have a baby one day, however it ends up happening? I brought all of this up with G while we were still laying in bed yesterday morning, and I suggested that we try to remind ourselves that we will one day have our baby by buying something for that baby. Something small and gender neutral, that will likely sit in a closet for a ridiculously long time, but will get used eventually. He was not totally convinced, but was willing to play along.

blankieSo, when we went to Target to buy the baby shower gift, we picked out this little grey blankie. Cute isn’t it? It’s super soft, and fits perfectly with what I imagine our boy or girl nursery would (will) look like. This is the first, hopefully of many, things we get to buy for our baby. It may be a long long time, but our baby will eventually be wrapped up in it.

Like I said at the beginning, the jury is still out on whether this little experiment is going to work, or blow up in my face. It could be that before long it starts to be a mocking reminder of my failures, like my couple of maternity shirts hiding in the back of my closet. But so far, I think it’s helping. Yesterday after shopping, G and I went for a nice long walk around a beautiful park. We were both in a pretty good mood, and we talked a little about how the shopping trip went and how we were feeling. We both felt like the shopping trip was much easier than the last time we bought someone a baby shower gift. It could just be something about this particular couple, or maybe it helped to know that we were going to be buying something for ourselves too. We also agreed that we were feeling pretty calm and (mostly) at peace with this month’s BFN. In past months it’s taken me much longer than two days to get to this point, so that seems like a good sign as well. As for the future, we will have to see. The little grey blankie is now sitting on the top shelf of my closet, where it will probably sit for a very long time.