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.

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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???

The beginning of the end

Two days ago, at 5w2d, I started bleeding. Bright red blood along with some decently strong cramps. It only lasted for a minute or two, but it was enough to show that the process is starting. This is identical, practically to the minute, to my other miscarriages. Everything is peachy until 5w2d, and then it all turns to shit.

I have an ultrasound scheduled for Tuesday, which I expect will involve a heartbeat. The first one always does. But then the bleeding just continues to get heavier and heavier and we all know what the outcome is. It usually takes 4 weeks or so from the start of the bleeding before I have a dnc scheduled and the whole thing is over. 4 weeks of feeling horribly sick, depressed and hopeless. Here we go again.

I can’t say I was that surprised when I saw the blood. I had been checking religiously. Scrutinizing the tp every time I peed. But I had managed to convince myself that it was possible that it could be different this time. I wouldn’t say I was totally optimistic, but I was being negative either. I was even talking to the embryo, telling it to ‘please please please please be okay this time’. G was much more involved this time too. In the past he’s been so detached, not wanting to get his hopes up. But last week (after an emotional breakdown on my part) I convinced him we both needed to be present this time, even knowing it might go badly. I spent so long wishing to be pregnant again, I didn’t want to ignore the experience while I was having it. So G was asking me about every tiny symptom, and he even started calling the embryo peanut. It’s been a totally different experience, feeling like I’m not the least bit alone in this.

I don’t know why, but I haven’t cried or gotten emotional. And it’s not because I think it’s going to be okay. I’m 98% sure this is over. I think it just hasn’t hit me yet. When I saw the blood, I called G in to the bathroom to see (I know, gross, but he said he wanted to see), and we just sort of stared at it for a minute and said, ‘okay, well I guess that’s that’. We got into bed and had a long talk, but mostly we talked about what comes next. I have a feeling that at some point it’s going to hit me that this is happening now, and I will have to deal with it.

So what comes next? Ultrasound this week, more waiting and bleeding, then eventually another ultrasound with no heartbeat (I know I sound morbid, but it’s just the reality). Most importantly, this will hopefully give us the opportunity to do the embryoscopy procedure I wrote about before. The last thing I wanted was for this to happen again, but if it had to happen again I want to know as much as humanly possible about what’s going wrong. I know I’m getting my hopes up because there are a lot of factors that have to work out to do the procedure (doctor agreeing to do it, not having a natural miscarriage first, not having so much bleeding they can’t do it, etc), but I just so badly want to know what’s going on it’s driving me insane. I just keep thinking if I had some clue what was going on, I’d be able to come to terms with it. Not to mention having an idea of how to proceed from here. After my hopes get dashed over and over, it seems like too much to ask to even be able to get some answers.

On top of everything, now I’m getting sick. G has had a cold for the last week, and we tried so hard not to share germs, since I didn’t want to risk getting sick while pregnant. I managed to keep it at bay until today, but now I feel awful. Interestingly though, I don’t feel like I have a cold, I feel like I have the flu. My chest is super heavy, I’m dizzy and weak, and the nausea I’ve had for the last two weeks has increased dramatically. I don’t know if it’s just that the combo of morning sickness with a cold feels like the flu, or if there’s something else going on, but I feel like crap. I’m just SO not in the mood to be feeling so sick on top of everything else right now.

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.

What do I really beleive?

Yesterday at the end of my post, I said that I didn’t beleive I would ever be one of the ‘The Mommies’. Continuing the discussion, My MMC Story wrote a great post called ‘Is it healthy to be hopeful?’, where she talks about whether or not she believes she’ll ever carry a baby to term.  This has gotten me thinking about the statement I made, and what I truly beleive. Clearly I’m still trying to get pregnant, so it can’t be as simple as I do beleive or I don’t. There’s definitely more going on here. 

So what do I actually beleive? After one and then two miscarriages, I definitely believed it was a fluke, and surely I was meant to carry a baby eventually. I was frustrated with the lost time, but I didn’t doubt that I could or would be pregnant for real. After three and then four miscarriages though, a feeling of deja vu set in. Everything was happening exactly the same way, and I thought I must have been an idiot to think it would be different this time. Now when I start to picture myself 5 or 6 weeks pregnant, I have trouble imagining it without that same feeling of deja vu. I just can’t picture myself making it past this point. I’ve said elsewhere that I have the feeling that its possible that I could have a healthy pregnancy someday, but any given instance will fail. It’s the difference between a hypothetical reality and the actual reality I have to live in.

Yet, despite the fact that I can’t picture it, there is still a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind that it will happen for me eventually. This must be true on some level, or we wouldn’t still be trying. So why do say I don’t beleive? I think the real reason is self-protection. As My MMC Story says in her post, we seem to think that by being negative, it will protect us somehow from the pain if it fails again.

I do this with a lot of things. I expect the worst so I won’t be disappointed. When I was preparing for my dissertation defense, I absolutely did not allow myself to think it would go well. There’s a sort of superstitiousness about this. It’s as if I think that if I let on that I want something, the universe will be more likely to steal it away. So I act as if I’m expecting the worst, and maybe the universe won’t notice. In fact, part of me thinks that it won’t happen until I truly convince myself it’s impossible. This will somehow magically trick the universe into giving me what I want. I’m not just acting and speaking as if I don’t beleive, I’m really and truly trying to convince myself I don’t beleive.

As a method of self-protection (not to mention universe-tricking), I’m not at all sure this method is effective. If I think about the miscarriages where I expected it and those I didn’t, there might have been a marginal difference in how I felt, but barely noticeable. It certainly didn’t protect me from the pain, it hurts no matter what. I want to be practical about my chances, so it wouldn’t be better to pretend everything is peachy, but I could probably afford to be a little less negative. It probably wouldn’t hurt me as much as I think it will.

With this in mind, I tried something new today. I actually walked myself in to a baby clothing store and looked around. I’m convinced that this particular store  was put on the earth specifically to torture me. Their clothes are just so damn cute that it’s painful. Going in to a store like this is strictly against my self-imposed rules, because it lets on that I think I might get to shop there someday.

Shockingly, I didn’t implode upon entering said store. I held up some clothes, and thought about what I would buy if I could. In fact, that aspect wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected. What turned out to be the hardest part was the other shoppers and the saleslady. Immediately upon entering the store, I had this strong feeling that everyone could see straight through me, and could tell that I was an imposter. I felt completely transparent. I kept thinking, it must be blatantly obvious that I’m a *gasp* infertile. But, I fought these thoughts, finished looking around and left. End of story.

So, I learned that I won’t crack if I let myself admit (and show) my little glimmer of hope. It still feels completely and totally terrifying to consider being optimistic, I don’t think I can go that far. But maybe I can handle being just a tiny bit less pessimistic in the future.

“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.

Resurfacing

It’s been a few days since my period ended, and I guess I’ve bounced back from the low point of the TWW. Although bouncing back is probably not the right metaphor. It’s more like I was pulled under, and now I’ve resurfaced. I really hate this pattern, and I so wish it didn’t have to be this way. Which has really gotten me thinking a lot over the last few days. This will probably be a pretty serious post, I have some stuff I need to get out of my head and onto ‘paper’. Sorry to drag any patient readers into my head, but I’m hoping if I write it all down I can possibly move past it a little. I guess we’ll see.

So, the hardest part of the past (almost) three years of infertility have been my lack of patience with how long this whole thing is taking. Every month that goes by, and really, every day, feels like a million years of waiting. I’ve described this as impatience, but the more I think about it, it has to be more than that. Impatience is when you can’t wait to go on vacation, or can’t hold off on eating desert until after dinner. This is definitely more than that. When I think about another month of not being pregnant, I feel lost and helpless. If I think of having to wait another year, I’m downright disgusted at the idea. So, I asked myself if I knew I would have a baby for certain at the end of five years, could I wait that long? The obvious answer is yes, because that’s the whole point here, right? But the idea of having to wait that long, even knowing it would work out in the end, is extremely uncomfortable to me.

The more I thought about this, the more I started to realize how ridiculous and irrational it is. There is every reason to think that I will have to wait a lot longer before I manage to have a baby. Maybe I could get pregnant this month, but even if I did, it would probably end in another miscarriage. Most likely I will have at least one more miscarriage, and so even if I do go on to have a normal pregnancy at some point, it will be a long time before I have the baby. If we decide to move on and adopt, it will definitely be at least a year and probably much longer. So, this whole process would just be so much more bearable if I could accept the fact that its going to be a long time and expect it. In other words, I would be much better off if I could start playing the long game. Thinking about things from the perspective that I will have a baby at some point, and a few months here or there shouldn’t matter as long as I get there in the end.

But honestly, even knowing how much easier things would be that way, and knowing it’s the rational approach, I hate the idea of it. It feels like giving in. It feels like, if I say I’m okay with it taking 5 years, it definitely will take that long. It feels extremely uncomfortable to me to think about days and weeks and months to come with no progress. This tells me that I have some weird stuff going on inside my head, and I need to try to sort it all out or I’m just asking for trouble each month.

So, as all of this has been rolling around in my head for the past few days, I’ve been trying to figure out why I have this irrational fear of waiting for a baby. I think somehow I’ve gotten to the point where I beleive that my value as a person is based on my ability to reproduce. This is surprising to me because it goes against everything I was raised to beleive, and it goes against everything I’ve done with my life up to this point. I was not raised to beleive that being a mom was the most important thing I could do. I was pushed to have an important career and do something valuable or impressive in the world. When I met my husband, I made it clear that I would always work and my career would have to be as important as his. In fact, up until a few years ago, I was probably too far to the opposite extreme, in the sense that I was determining my entire value as a person on my ability to be successful as an academic. This is something I had to work on pretty hard with a therapist, because I felt that I was failing at my job, and thus had no value. There’s much more to that story, but ultimately I think I moved past it to a large degree, and I’ve tried to get to a place where I can just be happy with doing a good job at a job that I enjoy, and not worry about being competitive or impressing people.

But, I think in the process I might have gone too far to the other side. After grad school I took a job that isn’t competitive and doesn’t make me a huge ball of anxiety. I’m a happier person and I’m glad I did it, but I’m struggling with feeling like what I’m doing isn’t impressive, and that people will think I’ve failed. Basically, my anxiety now is that people will think I’m a failure, and so I’ve tried to find something else to give me value instead.  And that something became having a baby. If I’m not going to be a high powered driven academic, then it would at least be justified if I had a bunch of kids and was an amazing mom. It would give me a purpose and a value that I apparently feel I’m missing. I think I was holding out, thinking that it was okay that I didn’t have an important, impressive job because soon I’d have kids and that would make it all worth it. But instead, I just ended up with neither.

Rationally, I think this is all ridiculous. No one, including me, should need to have an impressive career or kids to be valuable. I’m a good friend, I have a great husband and family, I do useful and fun things with my life. But for some reason none of that feels like enough.  I wish I knew how to change my attitude about this. I’m hoping that putting it all out there and shining the light on it will make me see how dumb I’m being. Honestly I think it’s so important that I get past this because having kids isn’t going to suddenly fix all my problems either. I need to be happy with myself and my life, or what kind of role model would I be for my kids? Hopefully I can start to rethink things a little, and if I’m lucky, maybe it will make it just a little easier to handle the (probably inevitable) wait that’s still to come.