Monday, December 28, 2015

The Holidays and Mixed Emotions

Second trimester has brought with it easier days, both emotionally and physically.  I have been feeling fantastic and am finally understanding why some people say they loved being pregnant. Right now, it's no more morning sickness, a cute little round belly, and lots of energy and motivation to nest the hell outta my house.  I realize this won't last forever, but for the time being, I'm enjoying every (well, almost every) minute of it.

But the holidays have brought with it some other feelings I don't think I expected to feel quite as much as I have.  It's not the holidays themselves per say - they just happen to coincide with the timeline of my last pregnancy so well.  Last time, we found out we were pregnant shortly after Thanksgiving.  We squeezed in our first ultrasound before Christmas Eve.  We announced to our close family at Christmas.  We announced to close friends at New Year's.  We started the ordeal of loss just a week after New Year's.  And worst of all:  This was supposed to be our baby's first Christmas.  

I am so, so happy we are expecting; I can not imagine how much harder all of the above would be if we weren't.  But I would be lying if I said there wasn't an undertone of what we have lost as well.  It's so very true that getting pregnant again doesn't magically erase all the heartache.  There was a different baby, another little girl, and to think that this new little girl somehow erases her completely is just not realistic.  

With that, I'd like to share some photos.  When we told our family last year, my husband captured it on camera.  Neither one of us can bring ourselves to delete the photos.  They are a testimate to the joy our first pregnancy brought, even if the joy was short lived. 

Right when my husband spilled the beans.  My one sister in law (kneeling) had guessed the news, and we had shared a quick look of knowing before we announced. I think she's saying, "I knew it!".

You can't tell but it was LOUD.  All I was able to register was screaming, and it completely overwhelmed me.  All I could do was stand there covering my face.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Night of Hope

A couple weeks ago was Resolve's Night of Hope.  Clicky, clicky:

When I got there (super early, thanks nerves!), we kind of milled around for a bit.  I was then asked up to the stage area for some photos and some practicing of how the night would go.  I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water - you have to remember I won for writing a little blog.  Other people were there for doing amazing, wonderful things.  But when I met the President and CEO of Resolve, Barbara Collura, I instantly felt better.  She greeted me with a big, warm hug and said, "We love our blog winners!".  Here she is, and folks, she is honestly one of the most charming, warm people you could possibly meet.  She's one of those people who make all social interactions look like a breeze and a joy (how do they do that?!):

So I got my photo taken, practiced walking on stage, and then I was off to cocktail hour. My husband and I knew nobody, and pretty much kept to ourselves, so we wondered how awkward it would be at dinner eating with a table full of strangers.

But off we went to find our table, and almost right away, another couple came over that we instantly clicked with.  With our insta-friends, and with the rest of our table filled in, it was actually pretty great.  As it turns out, the wife of this couple had been asked to be there to share her experience with the audience.  She had a medical issue at 15 which left her unable to have children without the help of medical intervention and she and her husband have been heavily involved with volunteering with the organization.  (Perfect example of the the amazing, wonderful things I mentioned earlier).

Another girl at our table was there because she had petitioned her company to cover infertility treatment, as she herself had no coverage and guess what?  Someone in HR actually listened to her (imagine that!) and added coverage.  (Amazing and wonderful examples 2 and 3).

So get this - when I was speaking with Barbara, she actually told me they had a very hard time finding companies to agree to accept an award from Resolve.  There are a lot of companies out there that do a fantastic job of providing infertility treatment coverage and support for their employees.  Wouldn't you think they would be proud of it, and happy to accept an award?  Nope!  Why?  Well, it's an awful reminder that there are A LOT of people out there who still disagree with things like IVF, and part of that stems from the Catholic church's continued official stance against it.  So companies are leery of press that may show them supporting something that many of their customers may adamantly disagree with.  It's really kind of frustrating and depressing to think about so let's move on to a nicer thought:

I had no idea how beautiful I would think it was to be in a whole room of people who either experienced infertility themselves, or have dedicated their lives to helping people who do (or sometimes both).  Normally we are the minority, the 1 in 8, but in that room we were the 8.  It was pretty cool to have conversations with anyone we met where our experience was so freely asked about and discussed.

And last but not least, the host, Bobbie Thomas was AH-MAZING.  She hosted with such ease, and when it was her time to share her own story, she told it was such emotion and heart; she even brought up her doctors to the stage to honor them too.

Oh... and then I got an award ya'll!

For awhile, I had been in denial that I was going to have say anything.  I would just walk up, get my award, wave to the crowd, flash a smile, and off I go.  In the back of my mind I had a little voice that said that typically people getting awards say a little something but I consistently told that little voice to shut the hell up because I so, so hate public speaking.

But then, about a month or so before hand, I got an email saying I would (of course) be given time to say something (90 seconds) and some tips for what to do (and not to do).

I had so.much.time to write my speech, but there I was a few days before the ceremony, sitting in front of a computer screen ready to start writing.  Luckily, it had been on my mind (a lot), and I had a general idea of where I wanted to go with it.  The inspiration came from Mad Men (of all places), probably because my husband and I have been binge watching the episodes like it's our second jobs.

In Mad Men, they often use a two way mirror to watch a group of people react to a product.  The group on the side that can see into the other side must sit in relative darkness, as turning on the lights would cause the guinea pigs to be able to see these creeepsters watching them.  And so my speech was born (no pun intended):

Reactions to my blog can be categorized into one of two groups, and I see these two groups as being on either side of a two way mirror.  One reaction was something along the lines of, “I totally understand because I went through it too”.  These are the people on the side of the mirror that can see through to the other side.  They can see the other group – the group that responded with, “I had no idea.”  They can see this group growing their families, while they themselves sit in darkness, struggling month after month with infertility.    It’s my hope that in some small way, my blog is contributing to what Resolve has done such a wonderful job of doing, and that is turning the light on the 1 in 8, so that everyone can see through to the other side.

Thank you Resolve for being such a great resource for those dealing with infertility, for advocating on our behalf, and for this award.

And thanks to my husband, who when I started this blog, only asked me for one thing – to keep it anonymous.   I obviously failed at that request in a pretty big way, and still he has supported me the whole way, just like he always does.

Picture a girl clinging to the podium, reading in a shaky voice (not to mention a bit stuffed as I was recovering from a cold) and you have a pretty good idea of how it went.  Here I am looking much more composed than I actually felt:

It was a pretty great night, and once my speech was over I was able to enjoy it without the jitters.

I'll say it one more time:  thank you Resolve.  For everything.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another memory in California

I travel to California for work a lot.  Not quite so often these days, but there was a period of about 2 years of my life where my client would joke that they just should just have bought me an apartment out there.

As I walked around with a coworker on my latest trip there, I remarked that both the hotel and the office I work at there were the backdrops to many fairly big work/life moments.  I can remember standing by the window in the client's office as my awesome manager announced to me that he was leaving our firm after over a decade.  I recall being told I had made consultant at our firm, and then promptly walking to the Nordstrom across the street to buy myself a congratulatory present (a big expensive ring I still wear daily).  I remember standing by that same window a couple years later, feeling elated and a bit teary eyed while being told my bonus and raise information after a really successful year.

This trip was no different.

The one good thing about being sent for genetic counseling is that it also qualified me to have a special blood test, which tests for 3 various chromosomal abnormalities.  It also is able to tell the sex of the baby.  Right now our family has no idea that we even know; they all still think we are weeks away from finding out at the anatomy scan.

We had to wait a week for results, and I had to fill out a form that gave them permission to tell me the sex.  I was very clear on the form - tell me, tell me now!! And yet, when I checked the voicemail left for me from the sex.

Now, the good news is, the nurse left the really important information, which is that our baby is not at  a higher risk for the 3 issues tested for.

That is awesome! sex?

I listened to the voicemail two more times.

No sex.

It was now 4:15pm EST.  I frantically called the hospital, as well as my OB (who also gets a copy of the results), but to no avail.  I was going to be in suspense for as long as it took someone to call me back.  At close to closing time, I wasn't hopeful I was going to find out before the next day.

But then an hour later, while walking back to my hotel room with some lunch, my phone rang.  I practically threw the food and everything I was carrying to the ground; I couldn't get to my cell phone fast enough.


Is this Karen?


Did you want to know the sex of your baby?


" are having a baby girl."

I responded with something which I'm sure didn't even sound like English, raced back to my hotel room, and called my husband.  I just said over and over again, "It's a girl!"

The next day, after a long day of meetings with the client, as I was walking back to my hotel room, I passed by that same spot.  I smiled to myself and thought, "And that's the walkway where I learned I was having a girl."

That California memory is my favorite.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

oh hai, I won

A couple months ago, I was over the moon to have found out my blog was nominated for the 2015 Hope Award for Best Blog.  You can see my post about it here:

I never really thought I would win.  It's such a cliche, but I really was just so happy to have been nominated.  Clearly, I totally underestimated the power of the awesome community I am a part of at

One of the admins of the site graciously posted about my nomination along with a link to vote.  But it wasn't until she pointed out that given all the support from those on the site, I might want to start thinking about what it meant to win.  I had kept my real life identity purposefully separate from my online identity.  In fact in the beginning when I first signed up for the site, I had been so paranoid about anyone knowing what we were going through that I had used my middle name, rather than my first name or my commonly used nickname, on the infertility support groups.  My blog remained completely anonymous; you may have noticed I never even refer to my husband by name.  I didn't even tell many people I was close to in real life what was going on.

As the months went by, I started to open up to some close family members.  My mom was shocked to learn all that I was doing each month.  Once the loss occurred, I really noticed a shift in my openness.  Sadly, a lot of this was out of complete despair - it was hard to act normal or talk about much else in those first few weeks after the loss - but it was something else too.  I was actually mad - mad that I didn't feel like I could talk about what had happened.  I felt like I had to be hush, hush, and that many people didn't know what an appropriate response is, because people typically don't talk about these issues.  Quite frankly, I stopped giving a shit, and decided that if I wanted it to change, I was going to have to at the very least, start talking about it myself.  And so I did.  I told more family, I opened up to friends, and I even spoke to some coworkers.  I could tell I made a couple people uncomfortable, and I felt silly in those instances, but now I don't give a shit about that either.

At this point, I was ready to "go public".  My husband was much more reluctant, and so I of course respected his wishes.

It's about at this point that I got the nomination.  So I shared my blog with more friends and family, still keeping the circle tight for my husband's sake.  To his credit, when I asked what we would do if I won, he was completely supportive.

And then...I won.  I actually won.

As I have said in previous posts, I always thought that my social media announcement of pregnancy would be coupled with a reference to what we had gone through to get there.  When it came time however, I decided not to.  I wanted our happy news to stand on it's own.  Every other step of the process came coupled with fear and thoughts of our loss - I wanted to separate the two. 

But here we are several weeks later, a month out from getting an amazing award (which I plan on posting about on social media), and it just so happens October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  No better month to do my little part in bringing awareness.  Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

12 weeks and some number of days

This week was my first trimester screening, which basically means lots of viewing time using a high tech (external!!) sonogram machine.  It.was.awesome.

Baby is measuring 5 days ahead and is also very, very energetic!  His constant bouncing made it very hard for the nurse to take the photos she needed (but made it that much more entertaining to watch him*).  "This one is going to give you guys a run for your money" she said.

So we've got a giant baby who is never going to stop moving. I fear for our house.

We went public a few days ago, telling more extended family both in person and via phone calls.  We also did the whole social media announcement thing.  You would think at this point it's starting to feel real, but nope.

This week we also had genetic counseling.  My RE thought this was overkill, but the OB felt it necessary given the prior loss, which was due to a chromosomal abnormality. I pushed back on going but as the OB said "it's just talking" so why not?

I'll tell you why not: because after 30 minutes of going through our family history (which is really boring because everyone is pretty damn healthy), we got to listen to all the reasons why our baby is at a higher risk of an issue.  The big takeaways:

1) I'm 34, which increases chances of a problem
2) We had a prior loss due to a chromosomal abnormality, which increases chances of a problem

so all in all:  no shit Sherlock

And the real kicker is - there's nothing we can do about it.  So all that counseling did was scare the crap out of me.

Tomorrow is an appointment to the regular doc (it's like a part time job keeping up with all the appointments) to check out the trouble breathing and heart racing problems I am having.  A lot of times it feels like I just can't get enough air.  Since this is happening so early in pregnancy, both the RE and the OB are a bit concerned.  I'm not concerned really, but it is unnerving and uncomfortable, and it happens a lot.  So I'll be happy if there's something they can tell me to do to help when it happens.

Yesterday I was terribly sick all day and now I am sitting here trying to suck in air.  I must admit it gets to me every now and then.  But then I take out my doppler and hear that fast little pitter patter of baby's heart and I'm reminded what all this is for.

*No, I don't know the sex.  The anatomy scan is not until 20 weeks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

8 weeks, 3 days

**This is part of a series of posts I wrote when pregnant, but before we announced publicly.**

At my RE's office, once you are pregnant, you switch to seeing the "pregnancy nurse".  As you can imagine, I've never been so happy to see someone again.

After seeing the heartbeat, we were given the choice of weekly or bi-weekly ultrasounds.  I'll give you one guess as to which one I picked.   (Honestly, who chooses to wait 2 weeks to see the baby again?!).  The weekly assurances have been incredibly helpful.  It's nice to have affirmation that all the things I felt in the 7 days prior must have been normal, because the baby is still growing, heartbeat flickering away.

The heartbeat has gotten steadily faster.  Going from 127, to 157, to today's 172.  Something else that has been steady: the nausea.  Not to mention the cramping.  It's like every fiber of my body is screaming at me to lie the hell down at all hours of the day.  As someone who is not used to sitting still, it's frustrating and hard to get used to.  My house needs cleaning! The garden is out of control! All I can do is shrug and hope that I'll feel better when I hit the second trimester.

I feel like I have to constantly add a disclaimer every time I talk about symptoms:  I still feel so lucky, and wouldn't change this for anything in the world.  But you know, I'm still a pregnant lady looking forward to a day when I feel a bit more normal again.  I already feel like my body is not my own (I've already said goodbye to my thin waist, which stopped being thin almost immediately), but that's okay.

I still don't feel like I've let out all the breath I am holding, and probably won't until I'm holding a crying baby in my arms.  Although the pregnancy nurse made a really good point as she said, "My kids are in their 30's and I still worry all the time."  I suppose worry is here to stay.

For now, I take it one week at a time, with an eye on hitting 12 weeks.


**This is part of a series of posts I wrote when pregnant, but before we announced publicly.**

127 is the most beautiful number.

My betas continued to look awesome, and our first ultrasound was perfect.  Everything was measuring on track, as opposed to last time when I tracked a bit behind.  Looking back, there were a few little signs that were screaming "warning" at us, but we had no idea what we were looking at.  So long as the nurse told us everything was fine, it was.

This time, everything leading up to the second ultrasound was looking great.  Better than great.  But we kept our breaths tightly held.  No amount of "perfect" or "beautiful" could calm us.  We knew all too well that we needed a heartbeat.

We counted down the days to the ultrasound.  Two days before, I woke up at 5 am, symptoms totally gone, and wondered, and panicked.  I never did get back to sleep that day.

On the day of, we barely concentrated on work, and we left early so we could get to the appointment.
I felt nauseous all day.   Was this morning sickness or just nerves? My husband did his best to convince me he wasn't worried at all, so I shouldn't be either.  He's usually a terrible liar, but this time he was the picture of calm.

As I sat in the room waiting, I was shaking.  I could barely speak when the ultrasound tech came in.  But a few seconds into the ultrasound she exclaimed, "There's a heartbeat".  I started sobbing happy tears and my supposedly calm husband let out a giant sigh of relief.  A machine malfunction and a switch of rooms later (way to keep us in suspense technology!) we learned the heart rate was 127.  Given that they had hoped to see it between 80-110, 127 is incredibly strong.  (Of course I asked if it was too high - it's not).  And then we got to see the little heart beating on the screen.

At this point, we were ready to call my sisters-in-law.  If you heard a loud noise around 5pm on August 12th, that was my one sister-in-law screaming.  Up until now the announcements to a few close people (mainly, parents) had been wary.  We smiled a cautious smile, and people said words of hope and encouragement.  But this was...well, the exact opposite.  This was pure happiness, in the form of the loudest screaming I've ever heard.  Her reaction made both me and my husband tear up.  In a process that has stolen so many moments of unbridled joy, this gave us back one of those moments.

We know we are not out of the woods, but this was a huge step.  As I texted to a friend, "Shit just got real."

Oh, and that nausea?  That was no nerves.  It hasn't gone away since.

"When you see a rainbow, the storm is still lingering."

**This is part of a series of posts I wrote when pregnant, but before we announced publicly.**

The glorious honeymoon period of getting a BFP has warn off, and I feel like I spend every minute of the day silently panicking that something might go wrong again.

In the beginning, the best indicator that things are progressing well is something we in the infertility world call a "beta". A beta is a blood test to check hormone levels, mainly of human chorionic gonadotropid, or hCG (because honestly, that's the last time I want to type that full name out).  HCG is produced during pregnancy, and it's actually what those at home sticks are detecting when they return a positive.  In early stages, it's key that levels of hCG double somewhere between 30 and 70 hours.  Here's what I have so far:

7/24/15 = I have no idea, I was too excited to listen.  On this day, it doesn't really matter what the number is, just that it's there.

7/27/15 = 321  (awesome number!  last time at this point I was at 93, but again, it's the doubling that is key)

7/29/15 = 644

That's almost exactly 48 hours to double.  The nurse has so far called my numbers "beautiful" and "excellent".

But they said good things last time too.

*sigh* and there it is.  There's that voice.  That same voice asks where my pregnancy symptoms are, points out that I feel exactly the same as I did last time, and cautions me not to get too excited.  Worst of all, it asks me how will I survive if something does go wrong again.

I don't have a good answer for that one.

I reached out to the ladies on, in a specific chatroom for people who are expecting after having suffered a loss.  So many people knew exactly what I meant, and agreed that that little voice is a dirty rotten bastard.

Later, someone posted this:

Faith Instead of Fear

And it so very well described what it feels like.  Getting pregnant again has brought moments of such joy and hope.  It's also brought with it bittersweet memories of last time, and such intense feelings of fear that it's all I can do just to remind myself to breath sometimes.

And so I wait, in both light and in rain, straining my eyes in the hopes of seeing a rainbow.   

Try #2

**This is part of a series of posts I wrote when pregnant, but before we announced publicly.**

Remember that post where I said this cycle was already over before it began?  I lied to you.

I recall laying in bed one night, crying because the cycle was going to be a bust.  My husband was all, "You don't know that yet!".  I will probably never live that one down, because the cycle turned out to be just fine.  Beautiful in fact.  Nice mature follicle, on time release of the egg, and a lining thicker than I've ever had.  When I went in for the Lupron shot my nurse even told me she had a good feeling about this cycle.

July 25th is when my blood test was scheduled.  July 21st is the night I had 3 separate dreams that I was pregnant, and the morning of June 22nd is when I took my first at home test and it was....negative.  The awful thing is that the sleepy haze I was still in led me to read it wrong, so for a good 10 seconds I thought it was positive.  When I realized my error, it was a bit soul crushing.

July 24th is when I took the next at home test.

I swore I could see a faint blue line - but it was a cheap test and at this point, I had to wonder if I just wanted to see a line so bad that I was convincing myself it was there, when it wasn't.  The line was pretty faint.  But in the back of my head, I heard the commonly used saying on the message boards - a line is a line.

I decided new, expensive tests from the drug store were needed.  NOW. My husband was at work, so I threw my clothes on, put on some shoes, and rushed down to the garage.  I opened the door only to car was still in the shop.

I considered walking there.  I have no idea how far it is - it didn't matter - I was going to get that damn test.  But then I had a brilliant idea - I happen to have a neighbor that is also one of the most loyal, thoughtful, wonderful people you will ever meet.  So I woke her up at 7 am with a phone call begging her to take me to the store.  And because she is such an awesome friend, she calmly said, "I am going to brush my teeth.  Then I am going to brush my hair.  And then.....I am going to come get you!!"

While I waited, I drank all the water I possibly could, knowing that may result in a negative if my hormone levels were really low.

When we got to the store, I ran in, threw down 50 bucks for 4 fancy tests (why I thought I needed 4, I have no idea), and then spent the couple minutes in the car ride home opening the tests to get them ready.  I swore to my neighbor I wasn't going to actually pee in her car.  When we got home, I ran inside, my friend right behind me.  "Don't think I'm not coming inside with you!" she had said.

The test required 5 seconds of urine.  I managed about 1.  And then I set a timer for 3 minutes.

And that test, in all it's $12 dollar glory, popped up with a totally irrefutable YES.


I spent the next 4 hours wondering how I would tell my husband.  I didn't get to do that the first time, and here I was with time to plan.  I thought of a lot of cute ways, but ultimately, wound up just standing right on the other side of the door, with a positive test in hand, and a big smile on my face for when he walked in.  Sometimes simple is good.

When he walked in, I got a shocked, "oh my god".  After about 3 seconds of him staring at the test, it sunk in, and I got a big smile, eyes that he'll claim were just being attacked by allergies, and a, "That's awesome" before a big, long hug.

Awesome indeed.

We decided to go for the blood test right then (half of my husband didn't believe it still), and the nurse called back asking if I had cheated (by taking the at home test) and an "I TOLD you I had a good feeling!".

My husband has expressed some fear of this going wrong again, and my parents were cautious in their reaction to the news (which really kind of sucks), but I'm firm in my resolution that we are going to be excited.  I am pregnant now, and no matter what happens, I will enjoy the shit out of this time.  Infertility and loss have taken so much, I won't let them have this one.  I'm convinced Baby G is sticking around this time.

And so, July 24th is when we learned I was pregnant.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An amazing cause

This nonprofit organization was started by a couple after losing their daughter at 20 weeks into the pregnancy.  In their grief, they felt alone, and rather than just leaving it at that, they decided to help others.

I am so in awe of what they have done.  You can read more about their story and the cause on the link above.  You can also donate there, or you can purchase actual items for the care packages they deliver to those suffering from a pregnancy loss here:

And finally, if all you can do is spare 30 seconds, please help them to win:

Scroll down until you see Through the Heart, and simply click "Like".  It's as easy as that folks!

As someone who has been through a loss can tell you - simple things like socks and candy may seem silly,but knowing there are people out there who understand what you're going through, and cared enough to send you something means more than we can express.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today was my due date

I don't really have a whole lot to say about this.  I quietly acknowledged my lost one to myself earlier this morning, and I thought I would do so on here.

She would have been so incredibly loved.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Little Blog that Could

In case you missed it, a couple months ago I wrote a post based on the the theme of this year's National Infertility Awareness Week:

You Are Not Alone

Today I received a call from RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association.  I have written about this amazing organization before, but in case you missed that too, check it out:


Of course I missed the call because I'm completely unreliable when answering my phone, so when I listened to the voicemail, I thought it must be some kind of joke.  But I listened two more times, and then I read the email that was also sent, and sure enough - my simple little blog has been nominated for the 2015 Hope Award for Best Blog.

I keep asking my husband what it's like to be married to an award nominated blog writer.  He's starting to look more annoyed than impressed.

In all seriousness, I can't put into words how honored I feel.

Of course I am proud from a very selfish standpoint (don't we all still have the 6 year old in us that wants the gold star?), but my view of this is a bit broader.

Let's face it - there's nothing fancy about my blog.  No frills, no bells.  I don't have thousands of followers, or even hundreds.  Quite frankly, I'm lucky if I get more than a dozen readers of any given post, and about 11 of those readers are my closest friends.   I have spent exactly $0 on this blog, and I honestly really have no idea what I am doing (please don't tell RESOLVE that).

But what I do know (all too well) is the heartache of infertility and loss.  And what I've invested here is every bit of myself - my sadness, my frustration, and if you look closely enough, my hope and my strength.

I started this blog during a particularly dark time, and by getting my thoughts out of my head and into cyberspace, it has brought me some measure of peace.  But since then, I have striven for more.  I've tried to be a voice for issues that often receive only a hushed whisper.  I have tried to be this voice both on my blog and in my life.

To me, that's the key: to lend another voice.  I may not be the loudest, or the fanciest.  I may only be reaching a number of people I can count on my fingers and toes, but it's a voice nonetheless.  And if all I ever do is offer some form of comfort or understanding to that one person who isn't just reading because they know me, then I have accomplished something.

Today, RESOLVE affirmed that every voice counts in bringing awareness to infertility and loss , no matter how small.

With that, I present to you:

Shazam!  My blog actually just got a little fancy.

Also, please please (please) vote for me here:

Shamelessly Asking for Votes

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Let's talk about pregnancy loss

I want to share this article, because it so loudly speaks to my experience that I feel like I could have written it myself:

Sharing About Pregnancy Lost

We too tried for 14 months, and we too shrugged off the people who cautioned us not to tell anyone too early.  But we had waited so long, we couldn't help but shout it from the rooftops.

When we got the news that there was no heartbeat, there were so many emails, texts, and phone calls to be made.  It was not easy.

But in the long run, I am glad that we did.  I'd like to think we gave a voice to something that many other people may not be willing to share.  I knew my mother and my best friend had suffered a loss, but by sharing our happy (and then sad) news with so many, I heard from several others.  A neighbor, a friend's sister, my sister in law's friend - the list goes on and on.  All women who had been through the same.  Despite several of these people being complete strangers, they reached out to me with arms wide open, and shared their experiences with me.  It was also encouraging to hear that all of them who continued to try went on to have healthy babies (including me - I was my mom's first successful pregnancy after a devastating 5 month loss).

Recently, a neighbor and friend had reached out to me because a friend of hers that I had met a few times had just suffered a loss.  I felt an enormous amount of responsibility (and desire) to reach out to her and try to provide to her what so many others did for me.  I remembered how painful those first few days and weeks were, and my heart went out to her.  I told her I was sorry she now knows that pain, and I couldn't have meant it any harder.

As you may have seen, Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg have recently announced they are expecting, along with an announcement of 3 lost before.  Pink has also alluded to her struggles with infertility and loss, and she even wrote a song about it.  If you have never heard it, give it a listen here:

Beam Me Up

I hope we continue towards a culture of being more open about this issue, as it impacts so many men and women.  I also hope to lend another voice to it one day, much in the same way the Zuckerberg's have (albeit with a little less fame).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

$1500 to not have a baby

I got a big fat bill from the hospital yesterday for my D&C.  My D&C that was on January 15th.  Six months ago.  $700 for the privilege to be reminded of the shittiest shit that ever happened to me.

I spent an obscene amount of time today figuring out why I was being billed again, since I have already paid about $500 for this same procedure, which covered 2 separate bills sent over the course of the past 6 months.  Turns out, they were separate bills for anesthesiology, hospital, and doctor.  And to make it all that much more complicated, neither me nor 3 people I spoke to could figure out why the doctor charge wasn't on file.  It wasn't until later that I realized one bill came from Cooper Institute (the RE I go to, and where the doctor who did my surgery is based) and one came from Cooper Hospital (where I had the surgery).  Total coincidence on the names.  I also had a completely separate bill for $300 for the additional surgery to remove the leftover tissue and fibroid.

I verified that they were billing me exactly to my yearly out of pocket maximum, so it's right, and I wound up paying it of course.  It just really left me with a bad taste in my mouth, for a few reasons.  Mainly, because I realized that I have now paid $1500 to NOT have a baby.

I'm so lucky to have great insurance ($1500 max out of pocket for the year is fantastic), but I still wound up with 3 different bills, with no explanation why, and no warning that I could still get billed 6 months later.

We are lucky in that we can cover the $700 without giving anything up but a little less savings this month - but what about people who can't?  I couldn't help but feel for the people who get this bill and have no idea how they are going to cover it.  Like this whole process and the procedure didn't suck enough.

Is an estimate and one timely bill too much to ask for?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finding happiness on the river

I don't know how I ever made it through March.

It was shortly after our loss, the winter weather was wearing on me, and my husband was stuck working every day.  I often woke up on Saturday and Sunday without him there, wondering why in the world I should even get out of bed.

But out of bed I went, and now that I look back and can clearly see the shit storm of depression I was in, I'm kind of proud of that.

I tried to find reasons to get out of bed.  One of these reasons was to get to a local Amish market by us.  I always knew it was there, but it was just habit and ease that always led me to the supermarket instead.  The first time I went to the market, I remember grinning as I walked around buying baked goods and roasted chickens.  I was surrounded by people, wonderful smells, and all kinds of fresh delicious food.

To this day, going to that market makes me happy.

Shortly after surviving that awful month, I sat down and made a list of things to do in the summer.  The idea was to look ahead - to make sure we actually do stuff this summer, rather than just working on the house, or looking at one another on a nice Saturday wondering what the heck we could do.   The last thing I wanted was more time alone to wallow.  It has since been my mission to have something fun planned every and any weekend we possibly can, and so far, I am succeeding.

It has helped immensely.  I feel like I have purpose.  I have fun things to look forward to, and consequently, interesting things to actually talk to people about.  I had previously found myself having difficulty in social situations, because the only thing on my mind was loss.  I was at a serious loss for anything else to talk about.  I started not wanting to go anywhere, or to see anyone but my mom and my 2 closest friends.  I was withdrawing.  As you can imagine, this wasn't helping my situation.

So as part of our summer of doing stuff, we recently found ourselves with some good friends on a cocktail cruise.  At about 9pm, after a few drinks, my friend asked me if I wanted to row with her in the morning.  I've been meaning to give it a try for years, but never found the time or inclination.  This time, between my mission to try new things and the alcohol, the answer was a clear yes.

And so there I was, 12 hours later, in a boat, trying to keep up with 3 experienced rowers.  It was not pretty, but I loved it.  I mean, really, really loved it.  I drove home with the music blasting, and as I sang at the top of my lungs, I had a very sudden and undeniable thought:

I am happy. 

My next thought was that I hadn't felt happy in five months.  I had some laughs, some good times with friends, but this was the first time I felt joy.  And so back to the river the next day I went.  I joined a learn to row class.  I have plans to join the club, to take more lessons, and maybe even join a competition.  I'll probably come in last place, which would normally drive my super competitive self insane (OK, it probably still will a bit), but I know I'll drive home feeling accomplished, and with a new goal to do better next time.  

My arms and legs are sore.  I'm pretty sure I pulled my neck at one of the classes.  I have a permanent bruise in one spot on my leg (and I am honestly not sure why), and my hands are so blistered it's hard to hold the steering wheel.  

Yet here I am, looking at my schedule so I can figure out when I can row that beautiful river next.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

On to the next one

Despite my tiny fibroid companion, I am officially deemed healthy enough to try to conceive a child. This marks the first time I've been healthy enough to get pregnant since...well, since I was pregnant.

It's been a long, hard 2015 so far, but we're hopeful the second half will bring much happier days. I had been feeling emotionally stronger as the days and weeks went by, but I always had a feeling that reaching this point would help, and I was right.  I feel more like a happy couple trying to start a family than a sad couple grieving a loss.  There are still difficult moments and days, and I will be forever changed, but a sense of optimism has found it's way back into our lives.

We are currently still doing what is known as a "regular" cycle.  This basically means we're trying to have a kid the old fashioned way (more or less), rather than moving to IUI or IVF. Furthermore, I am fortunate to have regular cycles, with no reason to think ovulation is not occurring.  This is important to note because it means that I have it a lot easier than so many couples who are dealing with infertility.  I don't want to give any sense that my experience is either unique or the norm for infertility (or easy, for that matter).  The treatment varies wildly by a number of factors, including: diagnosis, where the couple is on their journey, financial constraints, religious beliefs, and the RE being seen.  Not to mention the couple's choices based on all of the above and more.  Believe it or not, we still do have some say in this process, and sometimes breaks are needed.

With that very long disclaimer in mind, I present to you: a cycle in the life of TTC:

CD1:  This typically is a really tough day.  It means the last cycle was a bust.  However, this time it marks a new beginning, so it's actually more bittersweet for me.  I call my RE's office to schedule the cycle's first ultrasound and bloodwork, which must occur on cycle day 2 or 3 (or 4, if you're like me and are sometimes trying to work around work travel).

CD 2:  This month I manage to get in on CD2.  I get my bloodwork done (never fun), and then the ultrasound (also never fun).  Although let me tell you - after everything I've been through the ultrasound and bloodwork are like a damn walk in the park.  While in the ultrasound room, I note the tech is writing a lot of stuff - way more than usual.  So I ask what is going on, and I am told my "ovaries are not empty".  When I ask what the heck that means, I am simply told, "The nurses will explain more when they call."


(Have I mentioned I figured out how to add pictures in here?  Be prepared for so.many.gifs.)

I had some wonky cycles before getting pregnant (including ovulating on CD5 once) and they never phased me *too* much.  But the thought of our first cycle after 5 months of waiting being a bust is enough to make me lose my mind.  So I call my husband, and then we both proceed to be in a bad mood for about 2 hours, waiting for the nurse to call.

When she does, she doesn't even mention the stuffed ovaries.  When I ask I get a breezy, "Oh yeah, you've got stuff in there leftover from the last cycle."  I feel like the nurse is not comprehending that the sky is falling.  But when I push a bit, she says not to worry.  I'm told come back in on CD8. 

CD8: Ultrasound and bloodwork today.  Well, those non-empty ovaries may have an explanation after all - I actually have an 18mm follicle at this point.  For those who don't know what that means, here's a quick lesson:

Follicles (within the ovaries) will grow during the cycle as the egg within it is maturing.  They will grow until reaching ovulation, at which point the egg is released. Follicles are typically 20-24mm at ovulation, and ovulation occurs at day 14.  

So the fact that I am rocking an already 18mm follicle on CD8 is unusual.  It probably means what was seen on CD2 was this follicle already growing.  It's times like these when I want to scream at my body.  I have no idea why this is happening and as someone who lives off of getting as much knowledge as I can about things, this is really frustrating.  I've been asked to come back in tomorrow.

CD9: Ultrasound and bloodwork today.  (Noticing a pattern here?)  That 18mm follicle is now 21mm. It grew 3mm in 24 hours.  Typically, they grow 1 to 2 mm a day.  It's like my follicle is on steroids.  The catch is my hormone levels are no where near what they need to be to ovulate, so that sucker is just going to keep on growing... 

CD11: Ultrasound and bloodwork today.  24mm!  And the good news is that now my hormone levels seem to be on board.  My estradiol is 246 and LH is 81.  LH is the hormone that surges about 48 hours before ovulation.  Everything is looking good finally!

Before our loss, I viewed this process as such a thorn in my side.  Getting to the RE and getting poked and prodded constantly just seemed like adding salt to the wound that was opened after not being successful conceiving on our own for a year.  But having to sit on the bench for 5 months has really shed a different light on the situation.  Just knowing that we have a shot this month, that I have a 20% chance of getting pregnant, is so incredibly exhilarating.  

I'm sure I'll feel different if we go more than 3 months or so of this, but in the meantime, I'm snatching the happy up and clinging tight.

CD14:  Ultrasound and bloodwork today.  The ultrasound showed I did indeed ovulate on either CD12 or CD13.  It would have been easier to pinpoint if I had been able to go in on CD13 like they wanted me too, but I was traveling for work.

So now the progesterone fun begins.  I use Crinone every morning, an additional 400mg suppository at night, plus Prometrium taken orally for good measure.  It's a lot of progesterone.  I wasn't always on so much, but it seems my own progesterone is quite low.  This hormone is what builds up the endometrium (or lining of the uterus), so without enough of it, my lining may not be the plush landing a fertilized egg needs.

I'm now in what we call the two week wait (2WW).  I'll go back in a week for another ultrasound and bloodwork, this time with an added shot of Lupron to help implantation.  Otherwise, it really is just a waiting game to see if everything we've done this cycle will lead to a pregnancy.  It's depressing to say, but mathematically speaking, chances are, it will not.

CD20:  Ultrasound and bloodwork today, with an added bonus: a Lupron shot to the stomach!

CD22:  Crazy has officially set in.  I would describe it myself but this blog already does a way more amazing job than I ever could:

Below is a snippet from this post that summarizes how I am feeling:

The second week of the two week wait is spent on the edge of your seat. I have a cramp – is that my period or is it implantation? It’s probably my period. But it is the day that implantation is most likely to occur. Could I be pregnant right now? I wonder if I’m pregnant RIGHT NOW. My baby will probably have my eyes. If I’m pregnant right now what’s my due date? Should I pee on a stick right this minute? I probably should. But it’s still too early to get a positive, then I’ll just be disappointed. But I want to pee on a stick. At least then I won’t be so disappointed when my period comes. No, just wait. But that cramp… OK… If I implanted today, I could have a good shot at a positive pregnancy test by… Wednesday. Ok, Wednesday we pee on a stick. As long as I don’t have any PMS symptoms by then. But I’m having nothing but PMS symptoms… Ugh… Who the hell decided PMS and pregnancy symptoms should be the exact same?! What kind of cruel irony is that?!?! I want to speak to someone about this. Do you think I’m pregnant? There’s no way I’m pregnant.

CD25:  While tomorrow is the official blood test, I've already tried 2 at home tests, both of which turned negative so fast it was like they were taunting me.  It got to me a bit yesterday.  It's not so much the failure of the one month, because I know in the scheme of things it's just the first try, one little month, and chances were low it would happen - but, it cracked open the window for all the negative thoughts again.

Well, there goes my last chance of getting pregnant at 33.  

We're going to be older than I thought when this happens.

Are we going to be able to keep up with a kid?

What if this never happens?!

It's scary, and very frustrating.  We have NO IDEA why it didn't work.  Everything was timed perfectly, and I was monitored like crazy.  How could it not work?

I don't know, but it didn't.

CD26:  Blood taken for the pregnancy test. At this point my poor arm seems like it's rebelling because I couldn't get it to stop bleeding.  And now I wait for the answer that I already know is coming.  I'm going to let it go to voicemail.  Having to answer back to the nurse like a normal human being after she says it's negative is not really possible anymore, no matter how much I expect her words.

Finally got the call at noon - negative.

At this point I have had 7 blood draws, 7 internal ultrasounds, and a shot to the stomach.  I hope you can see the frustration, and why it's so incredibly upsetting when people tell me I just need to relax. If only it were that easy.

On to the next cycle we go, just as soon as it starts.

CD32:  I am still waiting.  So I got bonus blood work today!  Also, a fun little procedure to scrape progesterone out, because apparently my body hangs on to it.

This happened to me before, and the main problem is that the rest of my body ignorantly kept chugging along, and I ovulated on what appeared to be CD5, but was really CD10.  However, because of the mismatch between ovulation and period timing, that cycle was a bust because it would not have given my body enough time to build up a lining for pregnancy.

This unfortunately means the next cycle may already a bust, and it hasn't even officially arrived yet.

Pardon my language, but I am so.fucking.frustrated.  Really?  I get ONE cycle to try before something else goes wrong??

No more Crinone for me it seeems, so at least we hopefully have a way to prevent this from happening again in the future.  .  

Friday, May 8, 2015

SIS #3

I had been feeling better mentally recently, and I had convinced myself I would actually get to sit in the doctor's office and not cry for the first time in 2015.  Unfortunately, that was not meant to be (I think I may hold some kind of record at this point).

I had a different doctor this time, and he explained every part of the procedure, which I found to be really helpful.  Just knowing what is happening is somehow incredibly reassuring to me.  Something about not being taken by surprise when something is shoved into you I suppose.  I also suspect he may be a wizard of some sort because this time the SIS was a lot less painful; almost verging on just uncomfortable.  Almost.

So I laid there while the 4 people around me got to stare at the screen and see what was going on.  As I looked up at their faces, I laughed to myself about how unfair that situation felt.  How about cluing in the girl who actually has her insides on the screen?! I wanna see!

Later, under more comfortable circumstances, the doctor showed me what appears to be a small fibroid chilling inside my uterus still.  The doctor didn't seem too concerned.  While it's harder to be not concerned when it's your uterus, I have to trust him here.  Of course, that is a double edged sword, because then I also have to trust him when he says we should wait another cycle to allow more time to heal.  Another.freaking.cycle.

It's really hard not to let this get to me.  I know logically it's not so bad, but it's not one visit in isolation, it's a not-so-great visit on top of everything else that's happened the past 4 months, and it's hard not to let even the smallest of setbacks feel like they are just piling on one more thing.  It makes me think of those arcade games with the quarters just barely staying on the ledge.  One more quarter in, and the whole thing goes tumbling down.  So I'll admit, I tumbled again for a couple hours.

On a different note, NPR released an article today dealing with miscarriage.

NPR - Miscarriage Misconceptions

It's a very good read.  I was most struck by some of the quotes.  One in particular really resonated with me:

I wish people knew how much it's possible to miss a person you have never met, and to mark time by their absence.  I will always think about how old my baby would be now and what our lives would be like if I hadn't lost the pregnancy.

I have admittedly been marking time by our baby's absence.  Very often I think about what I might be doing, or how I might look right now, if I was still pregnant.  I count down days to my due date.  There's never really a time where I couldn't tell you what trimester I would be in or how much longer I would have had to go.  It's a shitty way to go through life, so I've been trying to cut this out.  Some times it's easier said than done of course, especially on days like today when you feel a little punched in the gut (or uterus) again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You Are Not Alone

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  The theme this year is "You Are Not Alone". Read more here:

I've been thinking about this theme a lot this week, and how important this simple phrase really is.

Infertility can be incredibly isolating.  Life becomes a series of doctor's visits, and tests, and disappointment.  It's hard not to let your mind become a bit obsessed when so much of your month revolves around treatment; not to mention the effort of dealing with the grief and anxiety that are infertility's best friends.  The isolation, however, also stems from not being able to talk openly about what has effectively become the biggest "thing" in my life right now.  There are exceptions of course (I have a select few amazing friends and my mom has been like a therapist), but the general population is not expecting, "I'm doing shitty; I lost a pregnancy a couple months ago" as an answer to, "how are you?"  Trust me, I've actually tried this and it doesn't always go over so well.

In spite of this, this week's theme has really been driven home to me over the past few days.  First, I participate in an incredible community of people trying to conceive after a loss on a message board:

A few days ago, a lovely lady started a thread that just opened a door to vent.  Now, we do a lot of that anyway, but this was different.  This wasn't discussing a specific trigger that occurred one day; this was letting all the emotions and deep heartache and worry out of the cage.  And something amazing happened - you could almost feel everyone shaking their heads in unison reading each other's posts.  I found myself reading paragraphs that put into words what I was feeling way better than I could articulate myself.  Similarly, when I posted, I had a ton of people express that they felt the same way I did.

There were some clear themes - a feeling of loss, as if something had been stolen from us.  Besides the obvious loss, there are losses of happiness, of feeling like ourselves, and of the lovely innocence we once had about this process.  There was also a theme of anger; of wanting to smash things.  (This one may or may not have been started by me.  Seriously folks, it's been taking a lot of effort to not take a hammer to things.  My cell phone should be incredibly worried since it's usually the vessel of insensitive texts or Facebook baby announcements.)  In a nutshell - this shit is the shittiest.  But this thread was like looking around the trenches and realizing you had a ton of people fighting there with you.

On Monday I also went to my first support group.  I won't lie - I sat in my car for a good 15 minutes watching what kind of people were walking into this thing deciding if I should bail or not.  I ultimately went in; and I was very glad I did.  I kept picturing a, "hi, my name is _____ and we've been trying for a year and a half, let's all cry now" stereotype, but it wasn't that at all.  No introductions or stories necessary - we're all there because we're generally dealing with the same thing.  Maybe not the same protocol or the same medications, or even the exact same step of the journey, but infertility is a giant umbrella.  Just one in which the rain is on the inside instead of the outside.

We all just....started talking.  We shared knowledge about doctors (coincidentally, all of the girls there were either seeing the same doctor or about to) and treatment.  We shared experiences with medications.  We shared laughter over the silly things people have said to us.  And that 1 hour and 45 minutes flew by.  When I got home and my husband asked me how it went I simply said, "My god, it was SO GOOD to just talk with a group of people who just get it on every level."  (Ok, I've never "simply" said anything, so it came with a lot of other babbling, but that was the general idea).

So, while this whole damn thing sucks so very hard, it is absolutely true that I am most definitely not alone.  And neither are you.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Conscious effort

After a rough few days last weekend, I was finally able to dig myself out of the pit I was wallowing in.   I've often felt through this process like I don't even recognize myself anymore, so to feel a bit more like my old self has been refreshing.   I can get through the days a little happier, but there's no denying that there's always a sadness right beneath the surface.  It takes focus and discipline to recognize when my mind starts getting stuck on the rough thoughts, and to force myself to stop.  It's a conscious effort - no longer is a happy day something that just happens.  A happy day is one I have to fight for.

It's hard.  My mind tends to highlight every little trigger.  If I see a pregnant woman I think, "She looks to be about as far along as I would have been right now."  If (like today) I hear friends announcing their pregnancies, I think, "We would have been pregnant at the same time."  It's a sad little math that my brain tends to get stuck on: how many more months will I have to wait?  how old will that make me when I have a child?  how many tries can I possibly get before my due date arrives?

I am walking a tight rope over that pit.

I hope it will get easier once I'm finally given a clean bill of health.  I suspect that knowing I am physically through the loss will help me feel emotionally more past it as well.  My brain could really use some cooperation from my uterus here!  In the meantime, when the thoughts start to creep up, I repeat to myself some lyrics that have been stuck with me:

But there's nothing more to it, I just get through it. Oh there's nothing more to it, I just get through it.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Up and down

There's no other way to describe the last 3 months - both physically and emotionally.

Physically, we thought we were finally done with the surgery last week to remove the retained tissue and polyp.  Only, it wasn't a polyp, it was a fibroid, which as it turns out, is a bit more serious because the growth was actually embedded within the walls of my uterus.  So rather than getting a clean bill of health, I instead have to let yet another cycle go by before I have to get another SIS.  If you're keeping count, that makes 3 SIS's so far in 2015.  Let's hope this one is the last one.

Let me just take a detour at this moment to tell you a little something else about my appointment.  When I walked in, I was asked if I had a stent in, which I was sure I did not.  No one had ever told me I did and I'd think I notice some kind of device inside of me.  But the thing is - my husband told me THREE times that I had one.  Except I was apparently still under some anesthesia at the time so I didn't remember this.  I'm told the conversation went something like this:

Husband:  hey, you're awake, how do you feel?

Me:  Ok.  Am I ok? are we cleared?

Husband:  Yes, but you have a stent in that will have to come out in a week.

Me:  Ok, but not another SIS, right?!

Husband: No.  No SIS.

Me:  Thank god.

Repeat two more times.

So color me confused when I waked into my doctor's office and she told me I absolutely had a stent in, and it had to come out.  So I asked how that's done, and if it was going to hurt.  I was given some nonsense answer, because the *real* answer would have been, "Sorry, despite amazing medical advances over the past several decades, no one cared to ever think of any better way than to just yank this thing out of you (with no pain medication) and it's going to hurt so bad you won't be able to form thoughts after it's done."

I still cross my legs when I think about it.

But the good news is now an SIS doesn't seem quite so daunting, because hey, at least it's not a stent removal.

So with that very painful and disappointing appointment, I am back on a roller coaster I thought I had finally gotten off of.  And back to good days and bad days.

Sometimes, like yesterday, I am absolutely toxic.  I am depressed, I am sad, and I am so very angry.  Nothing helps, and no matter how hard my dear sweet husband tries, I can't get out of that dark hole.  And the thing with bad days is you can't plan for them.  So I found myself in this awful place, and also having to head over to the in-laws to see the family.  On a normal day, this would make for a lovely time, but on a bad day, it's hard to feel lovely about anything.  But life goes on, even when you're not up for it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

1 in 8

I want you all to know more about infertility. Because the truth is, 1 in 8 couples has trouble getting or sustaining a pregnancy.  That means I have no doubt that if you haven't experienced it yourself, you know a couple who has gone, or is going, through it.  And I'd like to think you're an awesome person and you'd like to know how best to help your loved one.  When people are dealing with loss or sadness, we often don't know what to say.  And sometimes in our effort to say something (anything!) to show we are thinking about it, we say unintentionally insensitive things.  This post is meant to help you, and in return, help the 10% of the population dealing with this medical issue.  

First, a little bit about a really amazing organization:

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders.

RESOLVE to Know More

There are some awesome links for both those dealing with infertility, as well as their family and friends.  Please consider reading this.

If you don't mind some cursing and some humor, then read on (you're in good company).

Now, let me just come out and say  it:  people say the stupidest shit to us.  You would not believe some of the things we hear.  I'm going to post some awesome links to read, but there's a few that I want to address here first:

1)  Infertility is a medical issue.  This means no amount of "just relaxing" is ever going to work. Stop saying this to us.  Just....stop.

2)  It is not helpful, or relevant, what your views on Assisted Reproductive Technology or adoption are.  I promise you, anyone who is proceeding (or not proceeding) with either one has not taken the decision lightly.  They are both incredibly expensive and emotionally draining, and ART also comes with serious physical hardships on the woman.

3)  A wise friend of mine once said in relation to my miscarriage: "a loss is a loss".  Despite not ever wanting children of her own, this understanding led her to be one of the most truly supportive people through the shit-storm that was the weeks after our loss. Please treat it, and us, just as you would someone who lost a loved one.  Because, you know...we did.

4)  Please stop asking me to pretend this very big thing is not happening in my life.  I've been shocked by the number of people who basically have said a quick, "I'm sorry" and then have never asked me about it again.  It's exhausting having conversations where I have to put on a happy face; please just give me license to talk about it for a few minutes with a simple, "how are you handling everything?"

And now, some links:

How Not to be a Dick to Your Infertile Friend

10 Things Infertiles Want You to Shut the Fuck Up About

Stop Being a Jerk to Someone Dealing with Infertility

Lastly, a great little video.  If there is one little silver lining about my loss, it's that I'm now a more empathetic person;  I can climb down into the dark hole with others:

Still not over

At this point, I am now under the care of an OBGYN who is a part of my RE's office. She explains that I will bleed for a couple of weeks after the D&E, and then it's a waiting game until my next cycle starts, which can be anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks (although I later heard from women who had to wait much longer).

I am lucky as I only have to wait 32 days.  I take this as a sign.  "It's DAY ONE!" I shout in my house (as that day of the cycle is often referred to).  I march myself into the RE and ask if we can start trying again.  I am told it's early, but that she will do what's called a saline infusion sonohysterography (SIS) to make sure everything looks good. I am told by several nurses that the SIS is not nearly as bad as the HSG.  

They are all dirty, rotten liars.  

So I find myself lying on a table, tube and ultrasound in me, in what is quite frankly an unsettling amount of pain, and all I see are the doctors pointing at the ultrasound screen with puzzled looks, and there is an alarming amount of whispering going on.  I proceed to panic.  My wonderful husband had thankfully insisted on coming with me and he knows me well enough to tell the doctors, "you have to tell her what's going on, she's freaking out because she's probably thinking of the worst case scenario" - which of course I was.  So they finally clue me in by showing me the screen and explaining that I've got a whole ton of tissue I really shouldn't have at this point.  The plan?  To get it out.  Right there.  No pain killers besides some Advil in me.   I damn near kicked the OBGYN in the face.  But the real kicker (see what I did there?) is that despite taking some out, I am not healthy enough to try again.  So we count down 28 more days until.....

Another SIS.  

I'll be quick this time: it looked even worse than the first one.  I'm now also rocking a decent sized polyp, and there's no way around it:  headed back to surgery to I go.  

And so we cross off yet another precious cycle.  But at this point, surgery (with anesthesia) is a much nicer prospect than another SIS!

The loss

There's no good title to this post.  This is the loss post.

At 7 weeks we went in for our third ultrasound.  This was the ultrasound to see a heartbeat.  We knew it was important.  

But there was no heartbeat.

There was a sac still, but no sign of life.  No little heart. 

I can not put that amount of devastation into words.  I won't try.  So we drive home, and all I can think about is calling the family.  I want it over with as soon as possible.  I don't want anyone to be hopeful anymore. So we call everyone, and we say that word: "miscarriage".

That word is finite and succinct, neat and tidy - it doesn't convey what it needs to.  Here's what has to happen next:  I have to pretend I am pregnant for a full week.  I have to carry around my sad little sac; I can't drink alcohol and I can't eat any foods I am not supposed to.  I have to figure out a way to work, to get through each block of 24 hours, to get to sleep.  I have to get to the next ultrasound to confirm what we already know.  Miscarriage sounds so final.  So complete.  But it's not.  This is just the beginning of a horrid process.  

But I make it, because what choice do I have?  And I make it yet another 2 days to the D&E.

The last thing I remember is being strapped down to a table and telling the nurses that I couldn't believe that something so happy had led me here.  

And then at least the physical part of this whole mess is over.  Or at least I think it is.  

The second line

We got it.  That second line.

Let me back up a bit.

For 14 months, I have daydreamed about how I would tell my husband I was pregnant.  I watched cute little videos, I heard some really great ideas.  But once you are under the care of an RE, things get...different.  A little less story book.  Pregnancy tests are now blood draws at the office, with a call later that day with either good news, or more likely, a sad nurse on the line saying sorry (seriously, those phone calls must almost be as terrible to make as they are to receive).  But those who know me know I am notoriously impatient.  So on the morning of the blood test, while my husband was still sleeping, I got up to get ready for the blood test.  And by get ready, I mean I took an at home pregnancy test.  So when it came down to it, my "cute announcement" was me screaming from the bathroom, "that's a line! I think that's a line!!" and my poor husband half awake wondering what the hell I am yelling about.

But he sees the line too.  And I take another test, and I'm up to 4 lines now.  And then I get a happy nurse on the other end of the line for a change and's real.  I am pregnant.  

Because I am under the care of an RE, I go for LOTS of blood tests and ultrasounds, and we watch all my numbers look so, so lovely.

At Christmas, I am 5 weeks along.  It's very early, but I've had all these tests, and's Christmas.  Not to mention that every one who knows me also knows I like a cocktail (cocktails), so keeping a ruse of not really drinking in front of people is becoming a full time job.  So, we announce to our (close) family.  And everyone is so, so happy.  And I finally feel like our future has begun.

The less sexy side of TTC

Our first visit to the RE involved some basic testing of both of us.  This will be the first and last time you hear of any testing of my husband (lucky him) as it was very quickly evident that the problem was not with him.  The day after these initial tests we discovered issue #1:

Issue #1: I apparently have had an untreated thyroid problem for (at the very least) several years.  Normally I wouldn't have known that it had begun years ago, but once the RE office called me and told me my levels were low, I recalled years ago being told the very same thing by my general practice doctor, but they were "not low enough to warrant medical intervention".  While that is probably generally true, here's where our society's ignorance of fertility issues shows:  I was a female in my late twenties with a thyroid issue, and despite this being a very well known cause of both infertility and miscarriage, my doctor never thought to ask me if we were trying, or at least just tell me I should have it corrected before TTC.  So, onto Levothyroxine I went.

Another month goes by, and I am officially text book infertile.

Issue #2: During the next cycle, it also became clear that my uterine lining tends to be a little on the light side, and my progesterone levels are too low.  So onto progesterone supplements I go.  So let me tell you a little about progesterone....

It sucks.  Alright, in the scheme of things it's really the least of the issues, but that doesn't make it a picnic.  At it's heart, it's hormones, and we are all pretty aware of how much hormones can impact your body and your mood.  So during the 2 weeks I am on progesterone, I slowly deteriorate into every stereotype afforded to a woman who is...well, pumped up with hormones.  But I'll get back to that in a minute, because while progesterone makes most women sleepy, it gave me terrible insomnia.   The day I started taking it, I was reduced to about 2 hours of sleep.  So now picture this:  a woman who is stuffed (literally, but I will spare you the details) of hormones, and running on very little sleep. Basically, I become an emotional mess during the 2 weeks of every cycle I am on progesterone.  I often found myself crying during commercials.  I once broke into sobs just relaying a commercial to my husband.  It wasn't pretty.  Luckily they were able to switch my prescription to a version that would at least stop the insomnia, but I'd be lying if I said that damn commercial where the couple uses Coca Cola cans to announce their pregnancy doesn't still get to me while on this stuff.

So we try again.  And fail.  And I use that word deliberately, because if you've never been there, you can't imagine what a failure it feels like to not get that second line at the end of 28 days (or more) of doing everything you possibly can to get it.  At this point, my months now consist of 4 to 5 visits to an RE that is 45 minutes away from me to get blood drawn and an ultrasound.  If you're picturing the cute little ultrasound that goes on a belly with some gel - let me tell you: that's unfortunately not the kind of ultrasound I am talking about.  This ultrasound is a little more on the internal side.

Speaking of uncomfortable things - at this point I am also scheduled to go for a test that makes those ultrasounds and blood draws seem like a day at the beach: the hysterosalpingogram (or HSG, or as I like to refer to it: that test that can go straight to hell).  Lucky for me, it shows that there is no blockage in my fallopian tubes, which if you recall from sex ed, are kind of important to the getting pregnant process.

Lucky.  Let me say this word again: lucky.  I know I am doing a lot of complaining (I'm really good at that - ask my husband), but in the scheme of things, we are already extremely lucky.  I have no major issues, I ovulate, and I have regular cycles.  So many women at this point in the process are finding out that they have a much bigger mountain to climb.  I will talk more about these couples later, but suffice it to say that my story is just one experience, and I recognize that there are many who have it much worse than me.  (I'm probably still going to complain though, okay?)

So after my HSG, we try for another cycle, and that's when shit really starts to get real.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The road to the RE

Our journey began in October 2013.  Well, maybe it begins before that.  After all, I spent 32 years of my life never really wanting children.  I thought my motherly instinct was defunct, and my biological clock was permanently off.

And yet, when I pictured my future, which in my mind was still so ridiculously far away (I still don't believe I am in my 30's), I pictured a kid.  It was a very fuzzy picture, but it was there.  So I kept waiting for that switch to go off, that call to be a mother to sound with fury.  But the truth is that's just not how it happened for me.  I knew where I wanted to go, and although I didn't feel ready (okay, I was terrified) for the steps it took to get there, I knew they had to be done, and so I dipped my toes into the trying to conceive (TTC) waters.

I vowed I would never become one of those "crazy" women who timed their cycles, or who cried when the test was  negative.  At risk of giving away the ending:  I now refer to this as the blissfully ignorant stage.

Cut to 6 months later, and a conversation with a friend who struggled for years TTC, and I started to get a little more serious.  I peed on a lot of things, quite frankly.  But still no success.

Another 5 months went by.  For those of you doing the math, and with a basic understanding of what constitutes infertility, we were now only one month shy of infertility.  For those of you who don't know, Resolve defines infertility as:

"...the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive.  If you are over the age of 35, the time of trying to conceive is reduced to 6 months.  It is important to see a specialist, or a Reproductive Endocrinologist, or in some cases your OB/Gyn or urologist for a complete fertility work-up and diagnosis."

And so off to the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) we went.