The two week wait: again.

Today we are 2DPT (or days past transfer for anyone new to the IVF lingo). I forgot how difficult this period of waiting was. Before we get to that, though, let’s talk transfer.

The transfer: 

Our transfer was the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States – on “Black Friday” (a.k.a. shopping heaven or hell – depending on how much you like deals or dislike people). My sisters and I usually make an early trek out to a few stores to start our holiday shopping, with the exception of last year: as I was busy getting married. This year, our anniversary fell a day later; however, the date of our transfer happened to be another special occasion: my in-law’s wedding anniversary (and odder still, the day we will get our pregnancy test results will be my parent’s wedding anniversary.) I think many people would attribute that to serendipity, but I hope there is something even more special and meaningful behind it all. I hope this process works and we get that good news on a day that’s always been special in my family.)

The second transfer was significantly easier and less painful than the first. We arrived at the clinic an hour ahead of time so that I could have an accupuncture treatment (I had read that it is helpful, and when I asked my clinic about it, they actually said they recommend it and share the name of a local acupuncturist who frequently visits their facility to perform day-of-transfer acupuncture treatments.

The woman we met with was amazing. She brought my wife and I back into the room together for the treatment, called me “love” and “dear” and kept asking if I was warm and comfortable enough. She put the acupuncture needles into my feet, hands, abdomen, forehead, and the top of my head, and explained that it helps to increase blood flow to the uterus and can increase the success rates of IVF by up to 13%. I am pretty skeptical by nature, but since my clinic recommended it (and they are very science/evidence based in their practice) I figured it was worth the $250 we spent on an in-clinic treatment. Afterward, the woman hugged my wife and I, and told us to let her know how our procedure pans out. It was such a loving and warm way to kick off the transfer, and I think it may have been worth it for that hug alone.

The acupuncturist told me ahead of time to stay hydrated the morning of my treatment. The clinic asks you to arrive at the time of your treatment with an uncomfortably full bladder, but since you have an hour of acupuncture ahead of the actual procedure, they suggest going to the bathroom on arrival and then making sure to drink throughout the procedure so that it’s filled again for the transfer.

Long story short: the receptionist ended up having to give me about 4 cups to continue letting out a little at a time while I waited for my actual transfer to start, as I was apparently too hydrated. I kept only going a little at a time as I was afraid to go into the transfer with a bladder that wasn’t full enough (and the receptionist gave me a few evil glances when I kept asking for cups and assured me that I’d be scolded by the doctor), but when I got up on the table to start the transfer, the doctor told me that it was still too full and that she couldn’t get a good read, so she asked me to go again, and I was literally SO comfortable after that, after having sat with a painfully full bladder for about 30 minutes prior to the procedure starting. I guess I am also used to the range of tools that pry open, poke, and prod my lady parts as I watched this entire procedure (unlike the last time when I couldn’t bare to do anything but wince in pain and barely glance up at any of the images) including the beautiful image of my hatching 5AB embryo after having been fully re-hydrated after spending a few months in the freezer. I could make out every part of the ultrasound screen: my bladder, my uterus (and the lining) and even the catheter going in, and eventually the tiny embryo flashing out at the tip. It was magical compared to the last experience.

Lesson: they tell you to have a painfully full bladder, but literally: a glass of water should do the trick. My pain was totally unnecessary as I was able to walk in completely comfortable once my bladder was the size they actually wanted it to be.

After the procedure, we went to lunch (we ate in the car so I could recline a bit and stay warm), and then I went home to nap on the couch, do a little online shopping, and finally go over to see my parents, sisters, my nieces, and even my cousin and her daughter who are currently living with my parents. It was a really nice night surrounded by family.

As we were getting ready to leave my parents house, I asked my 2-year-old niece if I could have a hug. She usually ignores me or tells me “no” but she ran up with a huge smile and flew into my arms, and I was so caught off guard by her spontaneous affection that I stood up with her in my arms and hugged her tightly. As soon as I assumed the standing position, I remembered my clinic discharge paperwork about not lifting anything heavy, and I looked at my wife and waited to be scolded (she really makes sure I follow all of the orders) and I went home afterward and cried – thinking I may have just cost us the entire procedure because of an unexpected hug. My wife comforted me as I fell asleep crying (I’ve been more emotional than normal these last two weeks anyway, but was pretty hysterical on Friday night). I asked my nurse about it in the morning when the clinic called to check up on me and she told me that she wouldn’t think twice about it. She said that the instructions are important, but when it comes to lifting she said it was more important for women coming out of retrievals due to the size of their ovaries and potential to injure themselves. She said that the microscopic embryo is well protected in my uterus and that I shouldn’t worry about picking up a two-year-old one time.

Has anyone else ever messed up their orders or done anything you thought was going to jeopardize your procedure? What did you do?

Symptoms: 

After my first transfer, I felt very light period-like cramps in the middle of my abdomen around the time I was going to bed the day after my procedure, and they came and went periodically in the two weeks that followed. So I have been cautiously watching and waiting for those cramps, while also reminding myself that this could feel different and that every attempt may not yield the same symptoms for the same person. (No cramps, yet). It’s just so incredibly hard not to compare, and it’s basically impossible not to worry everyday: especially after the last time.

After the cramping commenced the last time, I also got really sore breasts – another symptom that hasn’t kicked in yet, this time.

All I’ve really had this time is some light abdominal aches and pains, but I don’t know if it’s implantation, gas, or even just my hopeful imagination.

My wife is very against taking a home test this time, due to the last outcome (we tested early, got a faint positive, got really excited, and then got a low initial beta followed by an eventual miscarriage). I am on the fence – part of me thinks it will help to ease my unsettled mind and/or help manage my expectations, but another part of me knows very well that it could crush me. We will likely end up waiting (just another week at this point) for the actual results from the clinic.

It’s just so hard: part of me wants to hope and dream, and get excited (and I do) and another part of me is so jaded by what happened, and fearful of an outright failure of this cycle altogether, that I know that hope will only lead to a more heartbreaking end, if this does – in fact – end negatively. It’s SO HARD not to think that way.

In the meantime, I have one last work trip that I leave for in two days, so I am going to try to let that distract me and get through the week and take the clinic test on my parent’s anniversary and hope/pray for good news.

We welcome any extra hopes and prayers.

This is working. This embryo is growing. This is going to be good. 

Thankful.

Our second embryo transfer (first frozen embryo transfer) is on Friday. Today I had my final pre-transfer doctor’s visit, and it couldn’t have gone better.

The doctor came in flanked by his medical assistant and got right down to business with the ultrasound wand: as soon as he popped it in (literally, my head wasn’t even fully down on the table, yet) he exclaimed, “this is the BEST lining I have seen all day.”

Granted, I didn’t do much to get my lining into perfect shape but take the medication that they prescribed to me, when they told me to take it, but it was a compliment that I basked in for the entire hour drive home. My thighs might touch a little, my house may not be perfectly clean all the time, but damn it – my uterine lining was a 10 (literally and figuratively!)

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(If you’re a GOT fan, I literally hate Baelish, but I totally made that face when we got into the car after the appointment…)

So, lining was great and around 3:30 I finally got the call about the rest of my bloodwork and follow up instructions. We waited for the call ALL DAY. After the appointment, we ran some errands, stopped by a few open houses (still looking!) and then headed over to my in-laws for dinner. Before we got there, I decided to run into the liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner (I just have a glass here and there – I haven’t been abstaining leading up to the transfer like I did the last time, as my doctor said there really isn’t any reason to do so as long as it’s consumed in moderation). My wife asked me to leave my phone in the car as she’d forgotten hers a home, so I asked her to take the call if the clinic were to ring while I was in the store. I couldn’t have been inside more than 4 minutes and once I got out, she let me know that they JUST hung up. So I asked her what they said, and she let me know that….SHE DIDN’T ANSWER THE PHONE!

She said she wasn’t sure what to say, and figured I could listen to the voicemail. About 10 seconds into the 1 minute and 30 second voicemail, the nurse mentioned that I should start taking methylprednisolone tonight – a prescription I didn’t have filled as I’d forgotten that I had taken it the last time (I literally only introduce it for the immediate few days before and after the transfer – it apparently helps prevent rejection of the embryo…at least, that’s what I think they told me back in September).

So it’s Sunday, the clinic is closed (their phone system always routes you to their emergency line on the weekends and they only work limited hours in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays, so I’d imagined already that I was one of their last calls) and after a panicked two hours or so, I got a script called into a local 24 hour pharmacy, and now the pill is floating safely in my belly along with 2mg of estrogen, a prenatal vitamin, a baby asprin, a glass of water and a few Hershey’s kisses (you can’t take all of that on an empty stomach…right? 🙂 )

My wife is a saint. She patiently helped me make the phone calls to get the prescription called in while I was a miserable monster and yelled at her for not taking the call (but real talk: she did hold onto my phone in the event that the clinic called, and we could have had the script called in an hour sooner had we mentioned it to the nurse during the call…but it all worked out, and will likely make for a good story later when we tell our friends and family).

So now: I relax and enjoy this glorious week off from work and get some much needed meal prep and other chores done, and then enjoy family time on Thursday and soak up transfer day on Friday (and maybe do some online shopping, since it IS Black Friday after all!)

Fingers crossed. My heart gets more excited with the possibilities every single day, and then simultaneously terrified as I recall what happened the last time.

Please think of us, pray for us…put something good and loving out into the universe in our little embryo’s honor. We are grateful for everyone who has loved and supported us to-date, and we feel incredibly grateful for everyone who reads these posts: however rambly and incoherent they may be at times (it depends on how tired I am and how fast I’m trying to write, haha).

We are feeling a ton of love and gratitude this week (and always, but especially this week) As we reflect on this Thanksgiving holiday we just feel so incredibly fortunate to have our family, and our friends, and all of the wonderful people we have encountered in this last year – especially our fellow women on this fertility journey. Whether you are doing (or have done) IVF, IUI, or at home inseminations: whether you are straight, gay, married or single, in your mid-20s or mid 40s, whether you had (or will have) success on your first try, or your 10th: we see you, and we appreciate you. We will forever have an understanding, a common bond, a link…by this journey we are both on, and we wish for you all: perfectly timed ovulation, high embryo counts, good HCG numbers, a full ultrasound screen, two pink lines, and everything you want, really. And if things don’t go well and the news isn’t good – I look forward to talking about it, and appreciate all of the kind words when we got our bad news in September.

When we pray at night for good news, we pray twice: once for us, and once for all of you. Hopefully our prayers are answered, soon. ❤

grateful

We’ll update you on the other side of transfer.

xoxo

It’s a date.

Pros and Cons

So we have a date for our second (frozen) embryo transfer. We have been so torn about this cycle over the past few weeks: we debated waiting until the new year – after all of the hectiness of the holidays was over – and weighed so many different pros and cons of proceeding now versus in January – a few of which are below (I’m chart obsessed if I didn’t tell you that before. Tables=my life).

Procon

I know that some of the pros and cons are silly – but I wanted to map out everything that has been floating through our heads recently so I could figure out what made the most sense. Of course: the first and most important detail is whether or not this try would be less successful by moving ahead now, versus waiting for a full second period to pass. After a conversation with our doctor, however,  who said that he thinks that my “natural” period, plus my second period that was the result of two weeks of birth control is enough to proceed, and he feels confident that all of my stats – coupled with my recent successful hysteroscopy – make me a good candidate for a frozen November transfer.

The Hysteroscopy

The hysteroscopy was on Monday – it was my first, even though most women have one before their first transfer. My clinic does theirs at a surgical center (which has limited availability and schedules months in advance, so if you recall from a few posts back: my doctor elected to forgo the hysterscopy the last time since I had a successful HSG, and then he did some sort of saline test with my mock transfer in his office and said I was safe to move forward at the time). He said this time they wanted me to have the hysterscopy because of our loss: to ensure that there was no scar tissue, or other problems resulting from the miscarriage that would prevent this next try from being successful. The test – which lasted about 3 minutes – was honestly no big deal overall. That is a LOT coming from me after my HSG ordeal. They prepared me mentally for a lot of cramping and discomfort, and I had a white knuckle grip on the exam table when the doctor inserted the speculum and then the tiny catheter camera that was subsequently pushed through my cervix to examine the inside of my uterus. They gave me the option of watching the procedure on a television screen, but I wanted to deep breathe and prepare myself for the ensuing pain when I saw the first flash of shiny, pink, inner body camera footage – but about 20 seconds and a few medical descriptions of what was on the screen later – it was over. No severe cramping.

I do think the fact that I took three advil this time – exactly 45 minutes before the procedure – helped a lot. Plus I have had so many internal exams – including my transfer – since the HSG test, that perhaps my body is becoming used to that “pain”. Either way: I was super grateful.

About 5 hours after the procedure, I developed some pretty intense stomach pain. My abdomen felt sore and tender to the touch – kind of the way your stomach feels after you’ve been dry heaving or maybe doing sit ups for a few hours. That pain lasted through the next day, and finally dissipated about a day and a half after the exam: still unsure if the two were related, but even with that pain the procedure wasn’t terrible. The good news is: both the doctor who did my procedure as well as our regular doctor both said that everything looked fantastic, and that I have the green light for a late November transfer if we want it (which I labeled as December above – same thing).

So…here we are. I had my baseline visit at the doctor’s yesterday and my ultrasound and bloodwork looked great (forgot to document the stats, this time). I told them I’d call them today with a definitive answer on whether or not we’d want to take advantage of this cycle for a transfer, and after a lot of deliberation, we decided to go ahead. We transfer in exactly two weeks! I started estrogen and baby asprin last night, and I will incorporate the PIO shots again next Sunday.

How many embryos?

We have decided to transfer one embryo at this time. If this try is unsuccessful, we will seriously consider two next time. We’ve actually read quite a few stories about couple’s highest quality embryo being a dud, and people having success as they worked their way down the line, so we are hopeful that what we experienced last time is a fluke, and that we’ll have success with the next try. Fingers crossed. Prayers up. Good vibes out to the world. “This could be good, this could be good…

So this is it…

We are equally thrilled, terrified, and I also have this weird feeling that I can’t entirely articulate. I feel like we haven’t waited long enough since that heartbreaking failure, or like maybe for some reason we don’t quite deserve this. Maybe its a protective mechanism so I don’t get my hopes up too much. I honestly don’t know and can’t shake it. I just keep telling myself that this is what it is and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but the truth is: if it doesn’t work, we are officially $3k in the hole, as our next transfer won’t be covered by the initial plan we purchased, and we will be getting closer to that “WTF do we do” point as we will have gone through 2 embryos without success. But….WE HAVEN’T EVEN TRIED AGAIN, YET. I’m getting ahead of myself. We aren’t there yet. This could be great. We just need to breathe.

In the meantime, we are now fully immersed in my absolute favorite time of year. I have already started the Christmas music, the air finally has a crispness to it, I have a TON of time off coming up (thanks to a really busy year and inability to use much of my vacay time), and I am getting ready to decorate. I am trying to maintain a sense of peace among all of this craziness and soak up this time of year that I love SO SO much.

Hope everyone else is in a good place as well. ❤

I won’t give up.

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

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Since the last time I posted, I left the window open and the light has continued to creep back in, casting a warm glow on everything in our lives again.

We have been laughing more, smiling often, spending time with friends and family, and we even took a trip recently. Not a true vacation – my wife joined me for a trip I had to make for work, but we got to explore a new city, eat some good food, and enjoy each other for a few days. Our trip started and ended a little hectically with a big storm delaying our trip by several hours and the airline misplacing our luggage temporarily on the way home, but we had a lot of fun and made some incredible memories (including getting to see an MLB playoff game!) so it worth the hassle.

We are still planning a year-end trip, and haven’t yet decided where/when to go, but with only a few weeks left in the year (um…can you seriously believe that?!?) we will have to decide, soon.

On the babymaking front, after what felt like the longest month of my life, I finally got my period. While we were away last week, I noticed blood after going to the bathroom and excitedly ran out of the room with my pants down (TMI? Eh…it’s a blog about our fertility story…I guess nothing is really TMI anymore) and my wife grinned ear to ear when I told her.

The next morning, the blood was gone and my heart sank as I began to worry that perhaps I hadn’t gotten my period and was expelling some kind of residual blood from the miscarriage. I’ve been terrified of experiencing problems from the procedure, so I have been watching closely for any symptoms of  potential problems.

The next day, I had dark blood, followed by periodic bright blood, but I only had a drop here and there – nothing major. Finally, about three days after that started, I began to bleed slightly heavier (which was still nowhere NEAR the volume of a normal period for me) at which point I called my doctor to tell them that I thought I was starting my “full flow” period. They brought me in for bloodwork and ultrasound, and the nurse who did my ultrasound informed me that my uterine lining was still pretty thick and that she thought I’d be experiencing heavier bleeding soon, and that the bloodwork would reveal if this bleeding was – in fact – my period, or some kind of random abnormal bleeding.

Fortunately, she called early in the afternoon to let me know that my blood work looked “perfect” and that my period had arrived. I was still a little nervous as I had NO cramps, and the bleeding was very light, but she insisted that it looked good and I included my stats below in case they help anyone else (and so I don’t forget in case I need them later):

Estrogen – 34

Progesterone – 1.3

FSH – 9.8

LH – 5.2

I have a hysteroscopy scheduled for two weeks from now (during which they will insert a scope through my cervix to examine my uterus and ensure that there is no residual content or scarring from the miscarriage) and as long as everything looks okay, I will stop my birth control (which I started this week) and they will begin my cycle of medication (exactly what I forgot to ask, but I am assuming will include estrogen, baby asprin, and injected progesterone again) in order to prepare me for a frozen embryo transfer….almost exactly one month from now!!

We are trying to keep our excitement at bay in case we get any bad news during the hysteroscopy (or in case anything else unexpected happens) but we were thrilled to have a date to look forward to (and one that is so close!).

I had to advocate for us again, as the nurse wasn’t prepared for any kind of date for the next potential cycle start, and simply told me to call with the next period after my hysteroscopy to begin discussions about dates, but I reminded her that my other nurse told me that a medicated 2nd cycle (using birth control) was possible to speed things along, and she consulted with the doctor who was in strong agreement based on how everything looked so far – as long as the exam doesn’t reveal anything unexpected. I was really glad that I pressed her on that, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have transferred until January as our clinic is closed in late December and they stop accepting new cycles for transfer after the first week of December. I did ask her several times if doing things this way (with medication, and also…so soon) would in anyway impede our success, and she felt very strongly that it would not, and that this was a great plan based on our circumstances.

So now… we wait two weeks, and pray that everything goes as hoped during the hysteroscopy.

In the meantime, my cramps commenced as my body began filling pads with blood that is roughly the volume of Lake Michigan, and since I’m still wary of using tampons or a silicone cup (my preference) I feel like a vacuum cleaner is pulling out my internal organs every time I stand up. Fortunately, I think I’m just about finished and definitely feel better knowing that this is a true period and reflects my normal monthly experience. I’d much rather feel normal than comfortable when it comes to this entire process.

My wife and I have been discussing the remote possibility of transferring two embryos. Our clinic has a policy of only transferring one (I think I may have mentioned this a while back – they believe it to be irresponsible to transfer two as they said that it only increases the overall odds of pregnancy by a negligible amount, but that it dramatically increases the potential for twins, which they discourage due to all of the problems with premature births and risks to the mother), but our fear is having another “bad” embryo (since that is what we now believe to have been the problem with the last pregnancy – all of our research led us to believe that what we experienced is “blighted ovum” which generally results from a chromosomal abnormality with the embryo). We fear that due to my wife’s PCOS that we could have more poor quality embryos (even though our doctor said that he does not believe that to be the case), and we just wonder whether transferring two embryos might increase our odds of success – especially since this is the last transfer that is covered by the package we paid for, and any additional transfers would cost us roughly $3K/ea.

We really don’t want twins, but we really DO want success, and if we do proceed – we would likely have to beg our doctor to do it (and I don’t know how firm they are on the policy, so it may not be a possibility anyway). Has anyone been provided research or stats that are any different than what our doctor provided? Anyone’s doctor feel as strongly as ours did about double embryo transfer? Has anyone’s doctor RECOMMENDED transferring two? We would love to hear about it, if so.

We still have a month to think all of this over, and have elected to do something a little differently this time around: we do not plan on telling ANYONE about this transfer. We had each looped one friend into our last cycle early-on and shared most of the details with each of them. After we were fairly certain of the impending miscarriage, we told our immediate families and a couple of close friends (which helped a LOT!), but we want this next cycle to be just the two of us…and of course: anyone who reads this blog. I am literally the worst secret keeper ever as I get so excited about everything, so if we didn’t document it here I think I’d burst from anticipation.

So…here we are. One month out. Hope time doesn’t pass TOO slowly (although with Thanksgiving coming up, I also hope it doesn’t fly) and here is to hope and good news.

Cheers!

“I’m just beginning: the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned.”

This weekend was the first one in a few months during which I experienced a feeling of immeasurable joy – a feeling that I didn’t expect to experience for a while.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gained about 10 pounds – I do think that a small part of it was due to all of the fertility meds I’ve been taking, but a bigger part of it was my eating habits. I just haven’t been eating healthy.

So last week, my wife and I elected to dust off our “My Fitness Pal” aps, start walking more, and investing some time in some healthy food prep. I baked two loaves of bread last weekend (I know – bread is typically the opposite of healthy eating, but it was a whole wheat blend, and it gets consumed in moderation and tracked..), we made soups, overnight oats, mapped out some crockpot meals, and bought lots of fruit and veggies.

I’m not down anything, yet, but I feel better as I don’t go to bed every night feeling guilty about what I ate, and I know I’m taking steps that will get me back to where I want to be. In the meantime, I have felt horrible in almost every article of clothing that I own, and I don’t believe in buying new – larger – clothes to accommodate weight gain, but at the same time: I needed to feel better when I stepped out of the house (and I am prepping for another business trip next week – the first in a few months) so my wife and I went shopping and I got a new pair of jeans (which I needed anyway as I hate jeans shopping and my last pair was starting to look ragged), a really cute dress, a few tops, and a black jumpsuit (which my wife thinks looks like a costume of some kind, but I assured her was fashion-forward, and it made me feel really amazing).

This may sound weird, but the new clothes and the healthy eating just made me feel like a real person again. I finally started to feel hope and possibility, and it made me so incredibly happy.

On Saturday night, we got to spend some time with my aunt who I haven’t been in close contact with for over 10 years. Her son – my cousin – passed away two weeks ago (right after I had the miscarriage) and – although sad and horrible – his death seemed to be the spark needed to rekindle the relationship between her and my mom, and my mom invited all of us over for dinner and a bonfire. It was so wonderful exchanging stories from my childhood with her, and catching up on the years we missed.

The Friday prior was my best friend’s wedding (isn’t that a movie?) and although it was beautiful and magical, I still struggled to shake my sadness that day (but managed to dance and have an amazing time in spite of it). And…bonus: since I wasn’t pregnant, I got to have a few drinks, after which I fell asleep at the hotel fully dressed in my bridesmaid gown and false lashes (the exhaustion you experience as a result of this entire process and all of the meds is REAL!)

Right now, my wife and I are casually glancing at houses (the one I posted about a while back ended up selling – it was a bit of a heartbreaker as we LOVED that house, but are hopeful that something better is on the horizon), and we are in the process of planning a mini end-of-year vacation as we didn’t really get to do anything big over the summer. We are eyeing up a few big cities (New Orleans and Orlando – we’re looking at you!) but are still undecided. Planning this trip has also helped me to keep my eyes up and forward, and has filled me with some kind of a purpose.

It’s strange: for the last few months, we had almost always had regular doctor’s visits, and dates to look forward to. Now we are at a stand-still, and I think that has fed into my sadness a bit. Keeping busy and trying to find meaningful things to do (like plan this trip) has helped a TON.

This trip will also be a first anniversary gift from each of us to the other. We are quickly approaching one year of marriage (and five years of dating!) so we are really looking forward to celebrating. And on that note…I know I don’t post many (any?) photos, but here is a shot that I love from our wedding last year. It was taken during our candle-lighting ceremony (a really amazing ceremony that I think I discussed a while back in this blog that my mother-in-law wrote, after which we lit the candles of our bridal party and they – in turn – lit all of our guests’ candles and the dimly lit room was filled with the warm glow of family and friends).

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Speaking of our wedding, I don’t think I ever told you all about our honeymoon-that-almost-didn’t-happen. Four days after our wedding, we were planning to hit a Sandals resort in the Caribbean, and the night before we were supposed to leave, I went online to check into our flight (as I always do when I travel) only to find that the tracking info didn’t work. Two hours on the phone with a Sandals representative later, I found out that our flight had been cancelled by the airline SIX MONTHS PRIOR and we were without a way to get to our destination. Sandals offered to “generously” pay for another flight for us out of an airport that was an hour further away than the airport we were ALREADY driving an hour to (and likely another $100+ in tolls/parking which they refused to compensate for us) so we ended up cancelling the trip and booking a last minute getaway to Mexico for a few days. We can laugh about it now, but we were really upset when it all happened.

We have a similar chaotic story of when we purchased our first home, and a friend recently reminded me of both when we were talking about the miscarriage. She said,  “this is no different than all of your other life events, but just remember: they all seem to work out on the 2nd try.”

That really made me smile, and I’m going to try EXTRA hard to stay really positive in the coming weeks.

Hope everyone is getting lots of good news out there. We love hearing it and are rooting for you all. ❤

“You took it all, but I’m still breathing.”

So I lied. I said I was going to take a break from writing. I suppose I thought it would help me feel better. In reality, for me – writing is like popping the top off of a champagne bottle: there is so much energy and pressure inside that needs to find a way out, and writing just does that for me – regardless of who reads it (though I appreciate every person who does). It lets a little air out so my heart and thoughts can settle.

So here I am.

It has been 13 days since I took the pills that ended my pregnancy. It feels like 13 weeks, or maybe 13 months, sometimes. Other times, it feels like it has been 13 hours. For the most part: it’s been just fine. I took the pills (vaginally), had cramps for about 48 hours, bled for about a week, and then it was over. So far, no other symptoms or pain – aside from my right hip/butt area that has become a combination of numb, itchy, and tender from the progesterone injections – which ceased 14 days ago. It’s kind of cruel if you ask me: I didn’t have any pain while I was pregnant, and now that its over, it hurts. Or maybe I was just so hopeful and happy that I didn’t notice the pain. Either way, it’s just uncomfortable and annoying – other than that I’m totally asymptomatic (par for the course, really.)

I was pregnant.

That sounds so strange to say, now.

I went back to the doctor’s office for a follow up visit last week. He said that everything looked as it was supposed to, and my HCG level dropped that day from 1500+ down to 50. Today, it finally dropped to 0.

I thought I would be relieved when I got that call. (I wasn’t). I waited for that name to show up on my phone so many times – waiting to hear about an HCG rise, some small amount of good news, some tiny glimmer of hope. I almost felt like I was cheating on myself when my heart skipped as the number came up on my phone’s screen. “This is good news after what you went through,” the nurse reassured me. “Now you should just call us with your next period and we’ll discuss next steps.” Good news.

I think the only news that would soothe my aching heart at this point is for someone to tell me that this was all just a big mistake and that I can still expect to have a baby in my arms sometime in late April/early May, but I’m going to go ahead and take her word that this is good.

Later this afternoon, another nurse called – interestingly, the nurse with whom I was assigned to work, who was absent during the last few weeks of this ordeal, and just happened to pop up again like one of those old friends you don’t talk to for a year, and just pick up with where you left off.

She let me know that I should expect to get my period sometime in the next few weeks and when I do, I’ll let them know, but in the meantime, she is scheduling me for another HSG test (you can only imagine the sheer joy on my face when she told me that. To relive the excitement of my last test, feel free to skip back 6-7 posts – it was a real treat!), and afterward, she said that they can put me on medication to “speed up” the process, and she left me with a tiny bit of hope that we could transfer again before December. At this point, though, it’s really up to my period. Fingers crossed that it’s fast and furious.

In the meantime, I rotate through a series of – now predictable – emotions: peace, happiness, sadness, and anger. I find myself crying randomly (usually when I’m alone in my office or the car) and sad songs really do me in. Damn you, self, for stumbling upon that random video of some girl doing an acapella version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” two months ago, and then downloading it to your phone’s music list, only to have it pop up in the playlist every few days.

I just don’t get it. They say that 1 in 4 women have miscarriages. I mean, I know that not a lot of people talk about this but…where the f*&k are they?!? This process makes me feel so incredibly alone – especially when I’m 31 years old and almost everyone I know is pregnant or has small children. Where are the 25% of people I know who get what this pain is like. I want to have a drink with them. Understand how they got past this. Figure out how they managed to not punch every person who told them that “this is only the first try – there will be others” or “you’ll get there” or “everything will be fine”. I need these women to teach me their ways. I need them to help me to be gracious, and grateful, and not be angry or envious when I see ultrasound after ultrasound flood my Facebook feed, and women skip happily out of the doctor’s office with their sky high HCG numbers and good news. I think I mostly want to know when they got to the point at which the tears stopped welling up in the corners of their eyes randomly, or when they stopped feeling anxious, scared, and alone.

And then – there is this completely other side of me – a side that says: buck up, buttercup. Earlier this week, almost 60 people lost their husbands and wives. Their grown children. Their parents. Their fiancees, boyfriends, and girlfriends. You lost a baby that you barely knew. 

I know. Sadness isn’t a measuring contest. A mother isn’t easier to lose than a child. A sister isn’t easier to lose than a fiancee. A small child isn’t easier to lose than a big child. Or, maybe I don’t know. Maybe one is worse than the other. It just all sucks. And it makes me sad. And it makes me angry.

And my wife and I (okay, mostly me, but she supports me and goes along with it) had big plans to do some volunteer work this month, but I just feel so frozen by all of this. It is like when there is a big task ahead of you, and you wonder how it will get done, so you just lay down and don’t even start. I know we just need to do it – the good will probably help more than the writing, but I just don’t know where to start anymore.

Ideas? Words of wisdom? Comforting recipes? A butt-kicking pep talk? Does anyone have anything that can help jump start my heart?

 

“You’ll be with me, like a handprint on my heart.”

“How are you today, Mrs. ____?” It was a simple enough question. One I’d answered hundreds – probably thousands of times in my life, but one that had me stumped on this particular occasion and made my eyes fill quickly with tears. “Fine.” My answer came out harsher than I’d intended, but it was as if adjusting the tone of my voice was suddenly outside of my control. “Hang in there, honey,” the nurse whispered as she finished setting up the ultrasound machine and closed the door to the room.

I stripped down and took my obligatory spot at the end of the exam table, feet ready to be swung into the stirrups when the doctor walked in.

After what felt like an eternity as I mentally recited a mantra of, “you are strong, you are brave, you will overcome,” the doctor walked in and repeated the nurse’s question. I repeated my gruff response.

I choked back tears as he inserted the ultrasound wand which revealed a slightly larger, but equally vacant sack on the ultrasound screen. “Well, I feel confident that we are not dealing with an ectopic pregnancy here. That is definitely a sack in the uterus, but just like last time: we are not seeing a defined yoke sack or fetal pole inside. We can wait another week if you want – I know that you went through a lot to get here, but I am confident that nothing will change between now and then. In fact, I would say that there is pretty much a zero percent chance that this pregnancy will progress normally.”

His assistant opened a new box of tissues and handed me one as the tears streamed silently down my face. “I can write you the script for the cytotec, and you can think about it a little more if you want to.” I nodded.

“Will it hurt?” I asked. “Cramping, bleeding – probably a little more than a normal period,” he cautioned. “Can I have something for the pain?”

“Of course,” he said before plugging my information into a narcotics database to ensure that I wasn’t an addict in search of a high. (Which – to be honest – was a little offensive, even given the rapid culture of drug abuse in my state. If I wanted a high, I wouldn’t spend $15,000+ to get pregnant, and then lose my baby on purpose to get high, but rules are rules I suppose.)

By the time Friday arrived, I felt calm and peaceful about our decision. Long talks with my best friend – who happens to be a nurse practitioner – really helped a lot. She agreed with my doctor’s decision, and explained that fetal development at the beginning of pregnancy should be rapid and the fact that we didn’t have that made it very clear that this would not be successful – no matter how long we waited and how many additional positive signs we experienced. “In your professional opinion,” I asked her, “Am I making the right decision? Should I assume that this has no chance? I feel like we are, but am so scared to kill something that might have a chance to live – however small it may be. But [the doctor] said that holding out any longer would only be for our mental benefit, and not for the pregnancy itself, though he was happy to wait.”

“I agree with him,” she said. “Things should have progressed at this point. It was fine to wait up until now, but continuing to do so isn’t going to be fruitful effort. You absolutely connect emotionally from the beginning, but this isn’t a baby. It’s a failed pregnancy. You aren’t failing or quitting on a human. Please don’t torture yourself.”

That was incredibly hard to hear, but it came from someone with both a deep understanding of medical knowledge and a deep love of me and my wife, and it gave me comfort. It is really what I needed to hear in order to start the process of the miscarriage. (And I recognize that not everyone feels that way and respect that different things help different people make peace with this process, so if that isn’t helpful to you, feel free to continue to do what makes sense to you and your partner.)

So Friday came and went like any other normal day, and I was asked about five or six times what my weekend plans were at my office.

“Oh, you know, just taking it easy,” I responded aloud. And having a miscarriage, I recited mentally.

Friday night felt surreal. After a dinner of leftovers, I retreated to the bathroom and stripped down to a t-shirt and found a comfortable position in which to insert the 4 cytotec pills that my doctor prescribed. I then put on an overnight pad, and took a painkiller prescribed by my doctor along with a glass of water around quarter till seven.

By 7:30, I had some mild period-like cramps, and started to feel a bit dizzy and tired (probably from the pain medicine) so my wife and I retreated to bed to watch the new season of Fuller House on Netflix. (Don’t judge me, haha).

I fell asleep after one episode. I woke up around 10:30 to moderate cramps, and took one extra strength acetaminophen pill, and laid in bed for the next half our trying to breathe and count through the cramps.

One, two, three, four, five…. No more baby. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten….I failed.  One, two, three, four, five….It’s almost over. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten…things will get better.

By quarter after eleven, the cramps still hadn’t abated, so I woke my wife up to ask if she thought that I could take another painkiller. She wasn’t sure and fell asleep a few minutes later, so I took one anyway and got up to go to the bathroom. I looked down – nothing. No blood. No clots.

I got back in bed and scrolled through Facebook for a few minutes before falling back asleep.

I slept until about five and got up to go to the bathroom again and saw the first blood. I felt both sad and relieved. It was the end of one try, and the beginning of another. I was sad for the baby we lost, but looking forward to the babies we still hope to have.

The cramps continued on moderately throughout Saturday and I managed them with ibuprofen. Nothing stronger than my worst period cramps, and the bleeding was actually less than I anticipated. I know that it could still get worse, and if I don’t expel everything I could still require a D&C, but overall – this experience wasn’t as scary as I anticipated. I hope that brings comfort to anyone who may read this who may be gearing up for what I am (hopefully) going to finish up in the next week or so.

I vacillate between very sad and very hopeful, and pregnancy signs everywhere make me a little sad at the moment.

But I somehow managed to go to my friend’s daughter’s first birthday party yesterday (which had more babies and infants present than any first birthday party I’ve been to in the recent past), and I didn’t cry once (and actually smiled and laughed a lot).

This process is different for everyone, I imagine, but for me – the key is to not think too much, and to get up and move and live life.

My best friend told me to remember that this is a failed pregnancy – not a baby – and on one hand, I know she is right. The decision we made didn’t terminate a living baby – by the time we made it, that baby was gone. My wife and I are both Catholic, though, and recently started going to church more, although we have always both felt a deep connection with our faith. And we do believe that we lost a baby. We don’t think the Cytotec killed our baby: we aren’t sure why it didn’t continue to grow and develop, but we know that we now have an angel looking out for us, and we hope that it protects the next one that will live in that same spot (hopefully not too long from now).

In the meantime, we are going to practice a lot of self care. We made a plan to start going to the gym more, watching TV less, enjoying our life, and maybe planning a vacation for a few weeks from now. This process has brought us closer, deepened our faith in God, and made us want to continue to make this world a better place for the babies that we hope to one day bring into it. We aren’t past the hard days, the sad days, or the tears. But we are going to try really hard to be happy.

And – I don’t know if I mentioned this before – but my wife is actually alive today because of a miscarriage. Her mom had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy. She went on to get pregnant with my wife’s older brother a little while later, and then got pregnant with twins after that (my wife and her twin). She told us that she never would have had the twins had she not miscarried as she would have stopped at two babies, so – in a way – my wife is a miracle that wouldn’t have been here had her mom not suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage. That really helps me to keep moving forward in moments like these, and hoping and praying for our own miracle.

I’m probably going to check out of here for a little while, unless something major happens, but will update as we get closer to our next attempt. I am wishing you all luck, love, hope, and baby dust, and can’t wait to catch up soon.

In the meantime, thank you for your kind words: every single one has helped so much and we are so grateful for the little community we have found on here. Sometimes we wish we could get together for coffee (or a hug) as it feels like we know some of you that well. But please know we are rooting for you all and hope to hear lots of positive news from all of you very soon. ❤

 

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(Flowers and a card from my amazing mom)