14 weeks

I’ve been meaning to write a post for weeks now, but somehow the process of sitting down and actually writing it never seems to happen. It’s been an enormous few weeks, weeks that I’ll never forget.

First, we entered the second trimester! It was a huge day in my mind, quite an ‘accomplishment’. I don’t think I need to say just how unlikely I thought it was that I would ever see that day. With this pregnancy or any other. I am now a person who can carry a pregnancy to the second trimester. Unbelievable. I’m not going to pretend I’ve been just handling it calmly and easily though. I’ve been mostly getting by, but I have moments of terror. Moments where I’m sure the baby’s not alive in there anymore. Moments where I can visualize all too easily what it would feel like to get the news that it’s over. Those feelings are always there, but I decided that all I could do was give myself permission to try to let them go. My instinct is to try to protect myself by not allowing myself to be happy. But, I know that realistically it’s too late to protect myself. If this goes badly, I will be devastated, whether I try to protect myself or not. And if it does, miraculously, work out, I will be angry with myself for not enjoying and appreciating it while I could. So, I’m allowing myself to let go of the fears (as much as it’s a choice), and enjoy it.

And when that doesn’t work, I use the doppler. We first got it to work about 2 weeks ago, right after our last ultrasound. I figured that was a good time to try it again because we were still coming off the confidence of seeing the baby looking so healthy on ultrasound. I figured if we didn’t find the heartbeat at that time, it would be less terrifying than waiting another week, during which anything could have happened. And we got lucky! It worked, and we heard her little heart beating away. I’ve done it just a few times since then, but on a day when I can’t stop the worries it’s a lifesaver.

The other thing that has helped me with the fears is that our MaterniT21 results came back. Totally normal. Let me repeat that, TOTALLY NORMAL!!!! I can’t tell you the level of relief I felt hearing the geneticist’s voice on the phone, clearly upbeat and chipper. I knew she wouldn’t have that tone of voice if it was bad news. She asked how I was doing, and I said, “you tell me??”. All good, our baby has the right number of chromosomes, at least for the 5 sets they look at.

As soon as the reality that the baby is most likely totally normal set in, I immediately wanted to know the sex (the X and Y chromosomes are one of the sets they look for the number of). Ready for it?? We’re having a girl. I can’t even beleive it. I KNOW I would have been overjoyed to hear the word boy too, but a girl is what I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve dreamed about tiny lace dresses and frills. Pink and purple. I would adore a son, but a girl will fulfill all the dreams I’ve had of being a mother my whole life.

G is unbelievably excited about a girl too. I always assumed he would rather have a boy if he could choose. He’s a sports guy, so I figured he’d been dreaming about coaching sports teams and watching games together (not that he can’t do those things with a girl). I’m sure he would still love to have a son one day, but he’s SO glad this baby is a girl. There’s just something about a little girl with her daddy that melts my heart. I can already picture him holding her while she sleeps.

We also have her name picked out already. Since I’ve always dreamed about a girl, I’ve had a girl’s name in mind for years. Since college, or maybe high school. I’d told G about the name years ago, and he never seemed to have much of an opinion on it. But as soon as we found out it’s a girl, he started calling her the name. He’ll ask, how’s L today (we’ll be keeping the name a secret, so I’m just sharing the initial here)? Or ask me if L wants some dessert. It’s adorable, but it also has me a little nervous. I love the name, but we hardly gave it any thought with respect to this baby. I’m afraid he didn’t actually consider if he likes the name, he just grasped on to it because he thinks if he lets me pick the first name he can have freedom to pick the middle name. This is most definitely not true. I want the decisions we make to be joint decisions, and either way I will definitely not give him free reign to pick a middle name. His family has a Finnish background, and he’s always talked about giving our kids Finnish names. I think he has in his head that he’s going to give this baby some insane Finnish middle name, and it just isn’t going to happen. Either way, the longer we think of this baby as L, the more attached I’m getting to it as her name. If we don’t figure this out soon, it’ll be too late and I’ll be hooked.

The other huge thing that happened in the last few weeks is that we announced the pregnancy to family and on facebook. I really struggled with it at first, because it felt like an enormous step. It felt like a complete change of my identity. It felt like I was going from a secret infertile to a pregnant lady overnight. Obviously it wasn’t overnight, but there’s something about everyone in the world knowing about it that makes it very permanent and irreversible. I was also superstitiously terrified that as soon as we made an announcement everything would go wrong. Making an announcement is kind of like advertising to the world that you’re happy and expect this to work, which to me sounds like a big flashing light asking for trouble. If this is some sort of mistake (because good things don’t actually happen to me), this will surely get the universe’s attention. This all goes back to giving myself permission to be happy though. I’m 14 weeks, it was time to make an announcement. I had to just take the leap and go with it. We thought a lot about how to do it, and this is what we came up with….

Image

I had to acknowledge the struggle it took to get here, but I didn’t want that to be the focus of the announcement either. I also hate funny announcements (which is unfair, but it’s all just too important for me to appreciate anyone who’s so casual about the whole thing as to make a joke about it). I thought this was a perfect symbol of us together, still holding hands at the end of it all, waiting for our little girl.

In know a lot of you out there are still in the midst of enormous struggles. I hesitate to say this, because when I was in the midst of it all, I hated when people would tell me I should be hopeful because of someone else’s experiences. What does their success have to do with me? So, what I’m NOT saying is that you should all have hope because this seems to be happening for me. What I do want to say though, is that I used to feel like hope was completely impossible. I honestly truly felt that I could not, would not, be one of the people to end up with a successful pregnancy. And it looks like I was (hopefully, please please please) wrong. So, I guess my point is that just because you might feel hopeless doesn’t mean there is no hope. Our feelings of hope or hopelessness are just that, feelings. Not premonitions. If I was wrong, you could be too. I know that might feel like meager help when you’re feeling the lowest, but I wanted to try. If my optimism annoys the hell out of you (as it probably would have done for me), I won’t blame you if you ignore me and stop reading (or stop reading for other reasons for that matter). I will be thinking of and hoping for each of you either way.

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…

All out of options.

Without further ado, in the words of Dr. O, the outcome of our ultrasound today was “not optimistic”. Coming from him (the eternal optimist), this is basically the same as saying it’s hopeless. At 5w6d, there was a yolk sac, but no visible fetal pole. In a normal person, this could just be chalked up to it being too early. But for me, it’s ‘not optimistic’. There were some other lovely findings too, including a ‘periovarian mass’ and a weird asymmetrical thickening of my endometrium. His interpretation of these was they are ‘interesting’, and we shouldn’t ignore them. It doesn’t appear that they’re related to the pregnancy though (or what’s wrong with it), so it’s hard for me to care too much about them right now. He tried to reassure me that the mass ‘probably wasn’t cancer’ (probably?), but even that didn’t get a rise out of me. If it’s not related to figuring out what the hell is wrong with my ability to reproduce, it’s not much on my radar right now.

Honestly, I was super relieved to hear that the pregnancy was not totally normal. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I was really worried they were going to tell us that it looked totally normal and we shouldn’t give up hope yet. Then I would spend the next two weeks letting the hope sink in, and be extra special crushed when it (of course) wasn’t. Instead, now I get to spend the next two weeks before the next ultrasound feeling absolutely miserable with nausea (did I mention it’s awful now??) and dragging my feet to muster the energy to act like a normal human being at work all day. In fact, right after the appointment today I had to go back to work and stare at my computer screen, interact with other human beings, and basically pretend not to be a person-shaped ball of anger and frustration. That was fun.

Up until today, my emotions have been conspicuously absent. I went from being an emotional wreck in week 4 to being completely numb and emotionless the moment I started bleeding. I didn’t cry, I didn’t obsess over it, it just….was. But I knew that couldn’t last. And sure enough, my emotions chose the middle of our appointment with Dr. O to reappear. One minute I’m asking him logical rational questions, and the next my lips are shaking and I can’t eek out words. The thing is, I’d been keeping it together up to that point mostly by thinking about what comes next. As soon as I read the article about embryoscopy, the idea has been growing in my mind that we might be able to figure out whether my problem is uterine or genetic (assuming those are the main two options). It was a quick jump from there to, well if it’s genetic, we have options! We can try donor egg, sperm, or more likely, donor embryo. If it’s just our genetics screwing us over, we can fix that by throwing some other genes into the mix! The feeling of finally having options gave me such a feeling of lightness, it almost drowned out the pain of another loss.

I should have known better than to get my hopes up though (haven’t I learned by now???). We asked Dr. O about the possibility of doing embryoscopy, and he was not exactly supportive. He said he would be willing to do it if we really wanted to (and he’s done it before), but he doesn’t see any point. Basically, he thinks that it’s almost inevitable that our embryo would be developmentally abnormal, because, (duh) it didn’t develop. He doesn’t agree with the papers that I’ve read saying that abnormal development implies a genetic problem (karyotypic or otherwise). He feels that a uterine factor could cause the same abnormal development as a genetic factor. So, it wouldn’t give us any information if we did it. In fact, when really really pressed, he said he thinks my problem (and most people’s problems for that matter) are uterine, not genetic. This is just an opinion of course (he admits there’s no way to know for sure), but ultimately if we decided to do something like donor embryo it would have to be just because we beleive the problem is genetic not uterine. In other words, it would be an enormous roll of the dice.

So what’s wrong with rolling the dice? We’ve already done it 7 times, right? In my mind the difference is that with donor embryo (or donor egg, or donor sperm), it’s not just us involved anymore. The genetic parent’s of the embryos we’d receive worked insanely hard to create them, wanted them very badly, and donated them out of the generous hope that they would have a chance at life. Who am I to take their (probably perfectly viable) embryos and toss them in to my death trap of a uterus? It’s not a risk I’m comfortable taking unless someone can give me a decent reason to beleive it will work.

Given that, I’m now feeling like doors are very quickly being slammed shut in my face. Where last month there were at least a few doors left open (trying on our own, donor embryo), these are quickly becoming obsolete. I’m almost completely sure (lets say 99.5%) that we won’t be trying again on our own. I don’t care what the statistics say, I no longer beleive that I am capable of creating and/or carrying a viable pregnancy. Ever. I simply don’t beleive it anymore. The pattern is too strong. Every time I get pregnant it will happen the same way, unless we figure out what’s causing the problem and treat it.

Dr. O reiterated that there are simply no  more tests or treatments available though, and so trying on our own is pretty much out. If donor embryo is out too, we are at the end of our rope. The words I was trying to get out through the tears to Dr. O were “I just wish we had some sort of option left, we just want to have some chance”. So, I guess it’s the time we’ve been dreading. The time I spent years going through more wasted cycles and wasted pregnancies to avoid. The time when we have to accept that it is what it is and move on to the only option left: adoption. Now if I could just figure out how the hell to accept that, that’d be awesome.

 

Holding pattern

I’m 7 dpo, and the antsiness is setting in hardcore. I keep opening up my ovu-tracker app or looking at the kitchen calendar wondering if by some miracle another few days have passed while I wasn’t looking. I was doing so well being patient during the tww the past few months, and all that appears to be out the window this month.

The problem is I’ve put a lot of pressure on this month. The longest it’s taken me to get pregnant in the past is 5 months, and this is our 5th month of trying this go-around. I remember very clearly that by the 5th month last time, I was going totally crazy, positive that my reproductive organs had crapped-out completely. So, the only way I’ve been maintaining some form of sanity (a meager one) this time is by reminding myself it’s taken this long before and still happened. If it doesn’t happen this time though, we’ve moved into entirely new territory. The territory of ‘oh shit, there’s something else wrong here’.

5 months has become an important landmark to me because of this, but when I started doing some reading it turns out its not completely arbitrary. From everything I’ve read, if you’re putting all the things in the right places at the right times so to speak, it should happen within 4-6 months. I’ve done everything I could possibly do this month, bbt and CM charting, minimal caffeine, extra folic acid (on top of a normal prenatal), acupuncture, full-fat dairy, I even started eating fish once a week or so for the omega-3s, despite being vegetarian for 15 years (yup, apparently I’m even willing to bend my principles a little if it will get me a baby). The stars aligned and we tried 3 whole times during my fertile period, and my CM did its grossly fertile thing. If it doesn’t work with all of that, things are just not looking good.

Rather than being totally depressed or anxious about what it will mean if this month fails, I’ve actually been pretty darn optimistic for most of the month. I even went so far as to promise G I’d be pregnant by his birthday (in December). I know, what was I thinking putting that kind of pressure on myself? It happened when we were laying in bed after our last ‘attempt’, knowing we’d done all we could. The topic turned to his birthday, and what he might want as a gift, and I, apparently in a post-sex high said “I know, I’ll get you a baby for your birthday!”. Dumbass. Well, at the time we both thought it was funny, but he’s brought it up a few times since, as if he believes it’ll happen. I had to put a stop to it eventually, explaining that it just feels like a lot of pressure for something I can’t control at all.

In the middle of all this, a friend from a local support group sent me a link to an article about a way to investigate miscarriages. I’d never heard of it, and immediately gears started turning in my head. Basically, what they do is after you’ve had a missed miscarriage (I suppose you’re sort of out of luck if it happens suddenly), they go in with a camera and actually cut through the sac and look at the embryo itself. I’m sure there’s a lot of factors that go in to whether you can do this or not, and whether or not it will work, but this article made it sound like a very simple procedure that theoretically any doc could do.

And what they see is whether the embryo looks essentially normal or not. If it looks normal, you’d assume that the problem was something external, like an implantation problem, or an immune issue of some sort. If the embryo has clear malformations, then you’d assume that the problem is probably genetic or developmental. Now, I’m not sure you’d know exactly what to do with this information, because it doesn’t really tell you much about how to treat it, but I would DEFINITELY want to know at least this much information if I could. It would make an enormous difference in my mind to have some clue about even what type of problem we have. For example, it would suddenly open the possibility of donor embryos or surrogacy. Not that I’m saying I would necessarily jump to doing either of those, but they’ve always been off the table in my mind because we have no idea if my problem is me or the embryos, so how do you know which one to even consider?? This would open doors to start considering if they should even be on the table at all.

Another reason to do this type of procedure is that you can be sure to get cells from the actual embryo for karyotyping, without having to worry about maternal contamination (ie, when you accidentally get the mother’s cells instead and the test comes back normal female, but it isn’t representative of the embryo). In my case, both of my embryos that have been tested came back normal male, so whatever our problems were, they weren’t chromosomal. What they found in this article though is that only something like 40% of the time when they observed a malformation in the embryo that was likely caused by a genetic problem it was picked up by karyotyping! This shouldn’t be shocking because there are just so many things that could go wrong genetically, and aneuploidy (the wrong number of chromosomes) is just one. What was shocking to me is that no one ever talks about this! When my embryo’s karyotypes came back normal, my doctor was surprised, but then basically wrote off the possibility that we have a genetic problem. I’ve even asked before, couldn’t it be something genetic besides a chromosomal problem? His answer is always, well yes, that’s possible, but basically shrugging it off as unlikely. Well, if this data is correct, karyotyping only ever had a 40% chance of finding a genetic problem if there was one!

This has all been swirling around in my mind the past few days, and honestly there’s not much I can do with the information yet. I’ll either be pregnant this month or not. I’ll either have another miscarriage or I won’t. So, what we’ve decided is that if I am pregnant this month, then awesome, we’ll take that for what it is and try to be optimistic about it. We will hope that either the things that have changed since my last miscarriage (less stress, acupuncture, thyroid medication, higher dose of progesterone) will make a difference, or that for some unknown reason that has nothing to do with those things,  it will go differently this time. If not, and I have another miscarriage, we will start to ask questions (and possibly be really pushy) about considering this procedure. If it gives us any sort of half answer that will be amazing.

And, if I’m not pregnant, we’ll call the doctor and see about figuring out why. I’m not sure if they will take me seriously since the standard is 6 months (or maybe I’ll just bend the truth and say it’s been 6 months), and I’ve been pregnant naturally so many times already, but I simply do not have the patience for another month of the same. Either way, things will be moving forward in one direction or another next month. So yeah, now I just have to manage to make it through the next few days….

***Update: In case anyone would like to read the article about embryoscopy, here it is. Also, there are other articles out there I’ve found today searching for ’embryoscopy’ and ‘miscarriage’ on google scholar ***

 

Well that was unexpected.

Wow, so much to talk about. This weekend with the inlaws was quite eventful, and pretty much the opposite of what I expected.

The weekend started out rough, they arrived around dinner and were exhausted from the drive. I had a long day too; work then yoga then the grocery store, and then they were waiting for me when I got home. We were all a little crabby, and it took some maneuvering to figure out what we were going to do for dinner, and the result (just like usual) was me and my opinion were the odd man out. The next day went just about the same. They’re all happy to do their thing together, and I just don’t fit in 100%, so unless I push my way in, I’m usually a bit on the edge. Normally this doesn’t bother me that much, but I was finding myself so crabby and angry over our last visit, I just couldn’t seem to muster the energy. I just didn’t have it in me to make all the stupid small talk, and pretend everything was peachy. The result wasn’t pretty, and I was feeling alternately pissed off over some tiny thing MIL said, and then guilty for overreacting. I also managed to totally take it out on G, and scream his ear off a few times. In my defense, he does handle things pretty badly sometimes, but my expectations may have been a tad unrealistic :).

Then this morning rolls around, and suddenly the miraculous happens. MIL actually asked me how I’m doing, you know….’with the whole pregnancies thing’. Not exactly the epitome of sensitivity, but hey, I’m working on keeping my expectations realistic here. I was so not expecting it, and my reaction was just about as awkward as her question. “Well, we’re still trying, but, uh, it’s not going that well, and uh, we’re assuming it won’t work out even when it does, uh, happen’. What followed was totally uncomfortable, I did a lot of staring at my empty breakfast plate, but I tried to remind myself that this is what I asked for. I wanted her to show she cared even a tiny bit by asking how I am. So, I tried to just answer her questions and not get angry, defensive, or close off.

It was a weird conversation in a lot of ways, and part of me isn’t really sure what to make of it. I want to just be happy that she asked at all, and take it slowly, but there are things that grate on me as well. So here are a few of the highlights and low points:

  • She demonstrated that this has been on her mind. She brought me a book that she read on the drive down here, meaning she went so far as to look for a book about recurrent miscarriage. I never would have expected that.
  • But, when she gave me the book she told me she ‘skipped all the parts about the feelings and stuff’, because she was mostly concerned with figuring out how the woman in the book solved her problem. I think this perfectly represents how she’s thinking about our situation. To the point that she’s concerned, she’s concerned with fixing the problem, not with how this might be affecting us emotionally.
  • She said she knows it must be hard for us.
  • But, she followed that up by saying “Everybody has hard things to deal with”. This statement came up many many times, and eventually I couldn’t hold back from saying, ‘yeah, but honestly I think this is harder than most people’s hard things’. I don’t mean to diminish other people’s problems, and I did say that there are definitely worse things that could happen to us, but to compare infertility to not getting a job promotion or having financial problems is just not fair. It came across like she was telling us we shouldn’t complain because if it wasn’t this it’d be something else.
  • She made it very clear that she’d be happy if we adopted. This is something I’ve actually worried about. Given how she treats people in general, I could see her making a comment like ‘well, my real grandkids don’t misbehave like that’, or something along those lines. I suppose her saying that she’d be happy if we adopted doesn’t protect from that happening, but it’s a start.
  • She tried to tell us that, really, not that many people are having babies, its just that we’re paying too much attention.
  • Oh, and she tried to tell me I should get my cervix sewn shut and go on bedrest. So yeah.

Ultimately, I think it’s good that we’ve made it clear that the lines of communication are open now. I know a lot of people don’t want to talk about their infertility, and I TOTALLY get that. I think the only reason I wanted to in this case is that she already knew the details and had seen how much it was affecting me. There were no secrets left. To not talk about it at that point felt like she was judging me for how I was feeling, or like I should be ashamed of it. As uncomfortable and sometimes grating as the conversation was, I feel like it will be better going forward.

After we talked this morning, I found myself suddenly able to interact with everyone the way I normally do. I wasn’t feeling the extreme resentment I described in my last post, so I could make small talk and listen to MIL’s stories without hiding my face to roll my eyes. When they left this evening, I was able to stand outside and wave goodbye without thinking, ‘thank god they’re gone!.

And when I say that the lines of communication have been opened up, I’m not exaggerating. Not three hours after they left, I got an email from MIL entitled “Natural Ways to Prevent Miscarriage”. She must have been googling in the car, since they shouldn’t even be close to home yet. I opened the link, and immediately started to wonder if I’ve created a monster. It’s My Aunt Jane Knows More Than My RE all over again. This website is the type that drives me completely bonkers, with all kinds of crazy ‘natural’ remedies. It’s not that I don’t think that natural remedies can be good, I mean, I got on board with yoga and meditation. But, there is so much out there that is passed off as ‘medicine’ without a shred of evidence, and it’s exactly the opposite of what she needs to be reading. Case in point, it promotes bed rest as a way to prevent miscarriage. That’s sort of besides the point though, because by sending me something like that it sends the message that either I’m too dumb or lazy to have bothered with a google search myself sometime in the last three years, and/or that there’s something I should have been doing (laying in bed the moment I got a BFP???) that I haven’t been doing, which makes my miscarriages my own fault.

I’m trying not to overreact over the email. I screamed a little at first, then calmed down some. She’s trying to help. She doesn’t realize how it comes across. I’m not sure how to handle it though. Should I ignore it? Respond with some attempt at maturity, and tell her I appreciate the thought, but I’ve read lots of these articles already?

Now, there’s one more aspect of this that’s bothering me, and I’m not sure if I’m being paranoid. In some sort of fit of insanity, the lovable G decided to mention that I have this blog. It was mostly in passing, but I’m pretty sure she got the message. She later asked me how one would find a blog online, because, um, her friend has one. I tried to throw her off and say that you’d really need to have the name of the blog, and lots of people write anonymously, but I can’t be certain she won’t try to find me here. That would be completely and totally awful, given what I’ve written before. As much as I mean everything I’ve said, I only have the nerve to say any of it knowing that no one I know in real life will ever read it. If I haven’t said it before, I’m completely and totally terrified of conflict. So, the question is, am I being paranoid that she could find me? My blog doesn’t exactly pop up in the first set of results on google, but I’m sure if she looked hard enough she could find it eventually. Am I being paranoid here, or should I take down the posts I’ve written about her? Anyone have thoughts??

 

 

The inlaws are coming, the inlaws are coming…..

There’s nothing like a visit from the inlaws to punctuate the tww. I ovulated on Sunday, and my mother and father in law will be arriving Friday night, so just in time for my monthly symptom spotting extravaganza. My plan is to have a sip or two of wine as soon as they get here, just to make sure they don’t start wondering if I’m pregnant. I’m on top of that already, I don’t need any help from them.

My relationship with my mother in law is complicated to say the least (father in law is super sweet, no complaints there really). If you saw us together, you’d think everything was peachy. We interact just fine in person. But under the surface is a lot of resentment on my side, and god knows what on her side.

Our relationship started out rocky from the beginning, all because of religion. G and I are both atheists, but when we first met, his mother didn’t know this about either of us. She assumed G still believed in the Catholicism he was raised in, and since I was raised Jewish, she assumed I was practicing that. When she eventually found out, she assumed that I had ‘turned’ G atheist. As if he didn’t have a mind of his own. So yeah, that was fun. We know this still really bothers her, but instead of handling it directly, both she and G will talk around it, or through his dad. Or she’ll tell the whole extended family what she wants to say to us, figuring one day it’ll get back to us. Queen of passive-aggressiveness that one.

MIL has acknowledged that I’m not all bad though. She knows I have been an extremely good influence in G’s life. When I met him, he had just gone through a bad break up, and was, let’s just say, sowing his wild oats. This was our first year of college, and he was doing drugs and drinking like crazy every weekend, and he was close to failing out of school. He was not headed in a good direction. I can’t say I’m responsible for his turning things around, he deserves all the credit himself, but I think our relationship just gave him something to hold on to, and some motivation. The last time I saw MIL, she actually told me how happy she had been at the time that G met me.

Despite MIL’s issues with me, my issues with her were pretty minimal up until I fell into the infertility hole. Despite her extreme passive-aggressiveness, and a tendency to be the most judgmental person the planet, I didn’t harbor any real negative feelings towards her. But for the last few years things have been getting worse and worse.

To describe the support we’ve gotten from her as luke-warm would be generous. She has barely said two words to us about it, despite knowing the complete and full details right from the very beginning. She might have said she was sorry after the first miscarriage, but with about as much feeling as a robot. Since then, the best she’s done is to tell us it’ll happen when it’s time. How useful, thanks! Maybe you could forward me the memo about when that time might be so I can stop wasting my energy in the meantime. The last D and C I had, she forgot I was having surgery at all, and called G while I was in surgery to tell him stories about his nephew. She never even asked what happened with that pregnancy. Basically the message we’ve gotten from her is let me know when it’s finally good news, until then, don’t bother me with it.

My resentment for her total lack of concern has been building and building over the last 3 years, but it was brought to a head this past summer. We went to visit his family for the 4th of July, right in the midst of my 2nd chemical pregnancy in as many months. I had a BFP, but I’d been having spotting on and off, and the line wasn’t getting darker day to day. I never had a chance to go in for a blood test because we left for the holiday. During the trip, I was basically in limbo, assuming my period would start any time, but still in the back of my mind wondering if it could just maybe be a real pregnancy. Eventually my period did start, a few days after we’d gotten back home.

The day we got in the car for the road trip, I got a text from his sister saying “Saturday morning we’re going to go visit M and the baby in the hospital”, referring to their cousin, who had given birth two days earlier (oh joy). No asking if we wanted to go, no outs available. How is that even remotely fair to ask of us without so much as a thought? Wonder if I have some resentment towards SIL as well?? So the weekend was starting out awesome right from the start.

Saturday morning arrived and we all piled in to the car to head to the hospital. I was in a crappy mood, but I really thought I was in control. Just another shitty day, same old same old. If I’d known how bad it was going to be, I would have made a bigger effort to get out of it. Well, the proverbial shit hit the fan as soon as we got to the hospital. I started getting a little teary-eyed as we walked in, but no biggie, still in control. We made the elevator ride up, and I was getting more jittery by the minute. Then, we stepped out of the elevator into the maternity ward and were in line to get ‘IDs’ to be allowed in to the recovery rooms. The nurse made some offhand comment about not wanting any of the babies to walk off. I have no clue what it was about this statement, or maybe it had nothing to do with that statement and it had just reached a boiling point, but at this point I proceeded to lose. my. shit.

It came over me so fast I barely had time to notice what was happening, and I immediately turned my head and shoved my face into G’s chest to cover the first sounds of the oncoming barrage of tears. He managed to call out, ‘we’re going back down to get coffee’, before I threw myself back into the (luckily still open) elevator. I didn’t turn around, but I could tell we’d gotten their attention. And by ‘their’ I mean, G’s parents, sister and her husband, multiple cousins, and some random bystanders. Even though I made it into the elevator before totally melting down, the elevator door was not moving at my speed. It stayed open for a full and agonizing 3 seconds after I starting sobbing at full volume. And I don’t mean crying, I mean gasping for breath, barely holding myself in a standing positing, sobbing. I have never lost it like this before. Honest, I don’t think I cried this hard after any of the miscarriages, at least not all at once (it was more of a gradual sadness than being overcome like that). I have no idea why it had to be that moment, but it all came out.

We made it downstairs to the lobby, and G got some coffee in me and sat me in a big comfy chair. I drank the coffee and managed to get the crying under control. But I was so completely embarrassed. We couldn’t just go back to the car and wait (no keys, plus we figured they might wait for us up there since we implied we were coming back), but my face was as blotchy and red as a face can get. Would I lose it again if we went back upstairs? How could I walk in to that room to their staring faces, looking like a blubbering fool? I should mention here that not everyone there knew about our situation (including the new mom). What the hell would they possibly think was wrong with me?

Knowing there was no getting out of it, we did eventually go upstairs, and I didn’t lose it again. We walked in to the room with all his family members standing around, preparing for someone to ask if I was okay, or at least give me some sort of reassuring look. Honestly, what I wanted was for someone to say ‘I’m so sorry we made you come here, that was really insensitive of us’. Ha, as if. No one said a damn thing. They barely glanced up when we walked in. When I sat down in a chair as far from the baby as possible, MIL looked over at me with this shit-eating grin and said, “Isn’t she just the cutest!! Look at those little toes!”.

As the day wore on, we kept thinking that SURELY someone would say something eventually. Maybe they just didn’t want to say something in front of the whole family, maybe they wanted to wait for a more appropriate moment to give us some sort of support. Ha. Not a single person ever showed even the smallest sign of concern. We thought, is it possible they didn’t actually notice? No, there was no not noticing, and G remembers seeing them watch us get in to the elevator.

I have no words for how angry and hurt it makes me that no one could be bothered to give me so much as a pat on the shoulder after so public a display. It’s as if someone fell down the stairs in front of you and you didn’t even bother to go check to make sure they were okay. I mean, who ignores someone in that much pain right in their face?? They can’t pretend that I’m fine and none of this is bothering me that much, they’ve seen it. I am just so freaking angry and resentful that they carry on with their lives as if nothing has happened, and my pain doesn’t matter in the least. I’m not the only one bothered by this either, G is really hurt by it as well. But he was raised by the reigning queen of passive-aggressive land, so how do you think he’s handling it?

What gets me the most is MIL should know better. She had two miscarriages before she had SIL. I mean, she’s been through this for godssakes, how can she act like its nothing?? The only explanation I can come up with is that she feels like she got through it, so I should be able to too. Maybe she just thinks I’m being a giant baby and should get the hell over it like she did. I don’t know, but I don’t relish the thought of spending a weekend with someone who feels this way.

And another month bites the dust.

I tested yesterday and today, 11 and 12 dpo. BFN. I haven’t felt very pregnant this time around, despite the progesterone, so I sort of knew it was coming. It’s really strange to me that I seem to have such strong symptoms from the progesterone some months and not others.

When I saw the result yesterday I initially felt like throwing things, or breaking something. We tried to stay busy, and as the day went on I began to feel really fragile, like a piece of glass that could shatter at any minute. The worst part of the day was after lunch. G and I decided to go to the zoo (trying to stay busy, but arguably a terrible decision). He dropped me off at the entrance because my hip has been bothering me a lot lately, then went to find parking. It was packed of course, and he ended up driving around looking for a spot for 20 minutes. Then he had to walk another 15 minutes back to the entrance. All this time I was sitting alone, watching all the young families passing by. The zoo is definitely the worst possible place to be by yourself when your feeling lost and baby-less. I tried to keep busy on my phone, but of course I couldn’t help seeing pregnant woman after pregnant woman, baby after baby. I teared up a few times, but (mostly) held it together. Then by last night I was able to joke around with G a little, and felt like I was within sight of normal at least.

So, overall this month has not been as bad as last month. I’m not entirely sure why; maybe the fact that I haven’t felt pregnant has helped, or maybe trying to work through why I’ve been so impatient has helped. I’m glad for this, clearly, but it’s also kind of scary. Part of me feels like if I’m okay with how long this process is taking, it will definitely take longer. More superstition. It also occurred to me yesterday that if we hadn’t made the decision to try one more time after the miscarriage last December, and instead decided to move forward with adoption (I’m definitely going to get around to writing a post about adoption and our issues/thoughts on that front soon), we could very well have a baby by now. This was very hard to think about. I never expected this ‘one more try’ to take so long, and delay us so much. At this point I have no concept of how much longer this ‘one more try’ will take, and then I still have no idea if I’ll even be able to move on at that point either. Since the second miscarriage, every single time we’ve said ‘just one more time’, and we’ve never been able to stick to that decision. If we had, we’d be parents by now and not still suffering. Are we just wasting our whole lives away for no reason? I really have no idea if we’re making the right decisions, or just chasing an impossible dream.

“The Mommies”

On Wednesday nights, G and I go to yoga class. We try to make it three times a week, and Wednesday nights just work out well for some reason. Plus the instructor is pretty consistent, we know we’ll get a good work out plus a lot of stretching, not too hard and not too easy. We started going to yoga classes a little over a year ago, and I’m pretty impressed with myself that I’ve kept it up this long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terrible at it. I’ve only improved very marginally over the last year, and I’m still the worst one in every class we go to (it doesn’t help that I’ve had a series of injuries that I have to work around). The only other kind of exercise I’ve done consistently for a year or more is walking, which is only because you can do it pretty much anywhere and it’s easy enough that I don’t try to come up with excuses to get out of it. Yoga has been like that too, it’s tough during the class, but then you end by laying flat on the ground practically passed out for 5 minutes, so you can’t help but leave with a positive feeling about the whole experience.

It just so happens that right before our beginner yoga class on Wednesday nights is a prenatal yoga class. We’ve known this for a while now, so we usually plan to leave at the last minute, and rush in after all bumps have cleared the room. Given all the other factors involved, it hasn’t been enough of a motivation to avoid this class. But, if we plan badly, or if there’s especially light traffic, we get there just in time for the slew of preggos to spill out of the studio.

Much worse than the pregnant chicks themselves though is the instructor. She doesn’t teach our class, I’ve only ever seen her teaching prenatal classes. She says things like, “great job mommies!”, and “you’re all such strong mommies”, and “don’t worry mommies, I’ll get everything picked up”. Now, infertility aside, I’m pretty sure I would not want to spend an hour listening to this woman. This instantly became a running joke between G and I. “oh goodie, we get to see all the special mommies today!” (to be read in the most high pitched snarky voice you can muster). “look at all the special mommies, in their special mommy outfits, doing their special mommy yoga!”. Thank god G comes with me to this class, if I couldn’t mock them beforehand I don’t think I’d manage to get inside.

Seriously though,  I wonder if I could actually ever take a class like this if I somehow end up miraculously pregnant some day. The annoying instructor aside, I always figured I’d be in the prenatal yoga class eventually. In fact, the first time I ever did yoga was during my first pregnancy. I was feeling so horrifically sick I couldn’t seem to do any regular exercise, so I borrowed a prenatal yoga video from the library to see if it might be a good alternative. I only managed to get through the video twice before I wasn’t pregnant anymore and didn’t have any need for prenatal yoga. I’ve hidden two pregnancies since we started going to our current studio. I couldn’t possibly come out and tell the class I’m pregnant like everyone else seems to do (at six weeks??) because I knew I probably wouldn’t be pregnant for much longer.

If I was magically 4 months pregnant tomorrow, I don’t know that I could go to prenatal yoga classes, and make baby registries, and do all the normal things you’re supposed to do. As much as I’ve been dying to be admitted to the club and finally get to do these things, I’ve built up so much hostility and put up so many walls against anything and everything pregnancy related. I march past the baby section in Target with my head staring straight down at my shoes, and I immediately scroll past ‘maternity photo session ideas’ and ‘what to pack in your hospital bag’ posts on pinterest, as if I might get burned if I peek. I’ve made these things completely off limits to myself, I can’t even start to think about them or I’ll crack. How could I suddenly  be expected to love these things if I got pregnant? I would feel like I was some sort of imposter, or a traitor.

I’m sure part of the answer is that it happens gradually, as you start to trust that the pregnancy is real. The anxiety might pass, but the feeling of being an imposter who doesn’t belong in the club, or a traitor to the version of myself that I am now probably won’t pass easily. I’m not sure I want them to. Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter because I probably won’t ever be in a position to find out. I can play the games in my head, pretend that one day I’ll make it to the other side, but I don’t really beleive I’ll ever by one of ‘the mommies’.

At last a good day

DSC_0035In the interest of not posting only when things are bad, I wanted to make sure to post today to say that I actually had a pretty great day. It wasn’t a special day, I just went to work, had coffee with a friend, went to a presentation, came home to have dinner with G, went to yoga, and now I’m relaxing on the couch. But all day I just felt at peace with the state of things and happy to be with friends and G. I know this will be temporary, in a week or so I’ll be back to my standard tww freaking out, so I need to appreciate and enjoy the peace and quiet in the meantime.

In other news, a close friend who I’ve written about a few times before might be pregnant any minute. I mentioned before that she recently found out that she has PCOS, was having 40-60 day cycles, and wasn’t ovulating. She tried clomid for the first time this month, and things are looking great. Home ovulation test was positive, and her progesterone levels are looking awesome. She seems extremely optimistic, and although there’s no reason to assume it’ll happen the very first month, the fact that the clomid is doing it’s job is great news. For the last few months (particularly since she found out she might have trouble getting pregnant), she has been a really great support. She told me that she thought she understood what I was going through before, but once she got her own diagnosis it really clicked. Granted, she’s only been going through this for a few months, but I think she definitely gets the fear and anxiety of this process now. I’ve been able to open up much more than ever before and we’ve gotten even closer.

With all of this, I have honestly been extremely happy for her good news. I had to stop and check to make sure I wasn’t kidding myself that I would truly just be happy for her if she got pregnant, but at the moment I really don’t have any negative feelings about it. I told her that I don’t want her to think that she can’t talk to me about it just as much if she gets pregnant and I don’t.

When I found out that we would be ovulating only a week apart, for one little moment I allowed myself to think about how amazing it would be if we were both pregnant (for real) together. I would have someone I could be completely open with about the anxiety of being pregnant (which it seems like regular pregnant women don’t get). I would have none of the frustration I expect I’ll have towards other pregnant women who can just blissfully enjoy pregnancy without that anxiety. It would be just too good to be true. Which is why it most definitely won’t happen. Even if we both get pregnant this month, she will most likely stay pregnant and I won’t. Which means I’m just setting myself up for an even worse fall. As much as I honestly feel happy for her now, I doubt that will be true when I’m in the middle of a 7th miscarriage and she’s happily pregnant. I don’t want to let this change how I feel about her getting pregnant at this point though, so I will just have to deal with it when and if it happens.

This blog post is brought to you by the number 6

It is officially ovulation day for me. I had a clear positive yesterday, preceded by a few lighter tests and a nice lighter test today. It’s about cd 12, so slightly early, but after my day 9 ovulation last month I’ll take it. Since the timing was more predictable this time, we got in two perfectly good ‘attempts’, if ya know what I mean. Would have been three if I’d ovulated on day 13 or 14, but nothing to complain about. So, overall, this cycle is about as good as I could expect a cycle to be. Everything appears to be in place this month.

As of yesterday I was feeling very optimistic about this. Usually, positive opk day is the high point of my month, because anything is still possible. But, already today I’ve dropped in to my usually negativity. When a BFP is just theoretical, I can be optimistic and beleive it might happen. In fact, I do beleive that in some theoretical world it’s possible for me to have a successful pregnancy, and as long as it remains theoretical I’m happy. But as soon as the moment passes from theoretical to an actual egg and an actual sperm that have to do all the right things with each other, and then my body has to not do whatever it did the last 6 times to spit them back out, it all becomes very real.

Basically, I beleive that hypothetically I could get pregnant and stay pregnant, but any actual attempt to do so will always fail. It’s kind of like taking an exam- you might beleive that you’re capable of acing it, but when you sit down to actually take it you lose all your confidence. This has been a really tough issue for me because it’s really tied up in whether or not we keep trying or not. How can I ever give up when I beleive (and the statistics agree) that its entirely possible that I could have a successful pregnancy at some point? But when I sit down to start taking the exam I just know I’m going to fail again.

With all of this in mind, and knowing how miserably I succumbed to anger and frustration last month, I’ve been trying to get my head in the right place for the coming tww. First of all, I’ve adjusted my thinking a little about the chemical pregnancies I had in May and June. A little back story quickly: May was the first month we started trying again since my 4th miscarriage in December. I got a faint positive on day 12 or so, but then the symptoms started to go away right around day 14. I had a feeling, so I took another test and it was even lighter than the first time, and I knew. The next month I was having lots of cramps and started spotting around day 13, and figured my period was starting. I tested anyways though just to be sure before I stopped taking progesterone. I was surprised that it was a full positive, not even faint. I was pretty sure it was going to be another chemical pregnancy given the spotting, but I was out of town and couldn’t go in for a blood test. I kept spotting, but never got a real period, then tested again a week later. It was still positive, but getting lighter. I stopped taking the progesterone and got my period a few days later.

I’ve said a few times before that I wasn’t counting the chemical pregnancies as miscarriages, and I was doing this mostly for emotional reasons. First of all, they just didn’t hit me as hard as the miscarriages. In fact, the last BFN was harder than the June chemical pregnancy- probably because with the spotting I knew it wasn’t going to happen before I even knew I was pregnant. They just passed through before I got attached at all. On the other hand, there’s no medical reason to make a distinction between a chemical pregnancy and a miscarriage; it’s just a matter of how early it happens. From everything I’ve read, medically they probably do count in understanding my situation and risk of future miscarriages.

Which brings me to what I think is the biggest reason I didn’t want to count them. The number 6.  I am completely terrified by it. It feels so unfair to have jumped from 4 to 6 so fast, with so little time to get used to the idea. 4 miscarriages is also a large number, but I had 2 and a half years to adjust to it. This feels thrust upon me out of no where, and just so unfair. A change this drastic feels like the situation is completely hopeless. I mean, if you failed a test 6 times, you’d just cut your losses, right?? The odds are just racking up against me faster than I can keep up with.

With this on my mind, I’ve spent the last week or so fixated on figuring out how to be realistic about the chances of success with a number like 6. I’ve been googling all over the place, desperately looking for examples of people who were successful after 6 losses. There just isn’t a lot of data, presumably because by the time they hit 6 losses, most people have either gotten too old or given up. They are damn hard to find, but there are a few cases out there of successful pregnancies after 6 or more losses.

It’s going to take some time, but I’m trying to come to terms with the number 6. It’s a little like my identity has suddenly changed, and I need to figure out who I am again. The biggest reason to do this right now is that I’m hoping it will help me handle the tww. If I count from June as the last time I was pregnant, we’ve only been trying 3 months, rather than 5. This is really a silly thing to be taking so seriously, but it actually does help. I’m terrified that I’ve hit some tipping point (um, turning 30 maybe??) and on top of everything else, it will be harder and harder to get pregnant each time. So, there’s a definite trade-off here. I’m hoping that by thinking that this is only month 3 of trying, I won’t be as upset if and when it’s another negative.