So I have been thinking a LOT lately about our last little one that we lost this March so I wanted to write a post that tells that story in his/her honor:
On December 31st my husband and I met with Dr. F for another consultation. We told him we wanted to go ahead and try one more of something and what would be his recommendation at this point. He told us that IVF with comprehensive chromosomal embryo screening (CCES) would be the most aggressive thing we could at this point given our history of miscarriages most likely due to poor egg quality. Those of you not familiar with CCES, it is when they biopsy a day 5 embryo aka a blastocyst and send it out for genetic testing to check all 23 sets of chromosomes for any abnormalities. It is a fairly new procedure and still considered to be experimental but it can tell you whether or not there are any abnormalities and if it is compatible with life. This new testing can help reduce the risk of miscarriages greatly since they would only transfer a “chromosomally normal” embryo…if you have one. That part of the testing sounds great to us especially given my crappy egg issues BUT because there is always a but…the testing could also come back as the embryo having Down Syndrome or some other chromosomal abnormality that could still result in a full term pregnancy. This is where it gets messy for us.
I truly believe that if we were meant to have a child with special needs that we would be at peace with that and we would love that child no matter what and do whatever we possibly could to help that child grow and succeed. Because of this my husband and I feel that we would not be able to say no to an embryo, which we consider a life at that point, just because it had Down Syndrome. But on the flip side could we choose that? Or what if we had to make the choice between that embryo or a “normal” one. This is the side of fertility treatments where we feel it is playing God too much and that part is very unsettling to me. So we decided we would move forward with IVF but not do CCES and whatever was meant to happen would happen. WELL what happened was Aetna said we only did 2 rounds of treatments and therefore would not cover IVF unless we did another round of something else first. I often wonder if this was a sign or just the fertility gods having a good laugh at my “current plan”.
So now our new plan was to do another round of injectables and an IUI. As I started this cycle, I felt I was in a pretty good place both physically and emotionally and had a good feeling that of course I tried to bury. For those of us who have been down this road one too many times, you know that having a “good feeling” can be dangerous. It gives you hope and makes you start thinking “well maybe…” but it’s too scary to build up that hope because there’s a very good chance that you will jinx it and that hope will only come crashing down.
All went pretty uneventful with the cycle. I responded well to the Menopur and got 4 good sized follicles when we did the IUI which Dr. F was pleased with and the IUI went off without a hitch as well. A few days after the IUI, I started to notice some “symptoms” but of course you try to ignore them because you could easily be imagining it all and I was also taking progesterone which conveniently has similar side effects to pregnancy…I wonder who’s cruel joke that was! I really started to suspect something was up when I saw a woman in a restaurant drinking a glass of red wine and I had absolutely NO desire to have any wine and it actually made me gag thinking about it. Which is very unusual for me since red wine is one of my most favorite things in the world.
After suffering through the awful two week wait, I finally went in for my bloodwork…a day earlier due to an impending snowstorm. I didn’t even take a home pregnancy test. When I got the call to tell me it was positive I thought ok that’s great, now tell me how low my hcg level is and that this is most likely another chemical pregnancy BUT she didn’t. My hcg was 54 which was my highest beta ever! So I thought ok great but when I go back 2 days from now I am sure it will drop or not double. BUT it did double…it more than doubled it was 135!! And it continued to double over the next week. Now at this point I could feel the hope slowly creeping in but quickly stuffed that back down as I have been down this road before and it only led to heartbreak and disappointment.
When it came time for my first ultrasound, to just check to make sure “something was in there” I thought for sure there wouldn’t be anything in there BUT after what seemed like an eternity low and behold there was something there tucked away in the right side of my uterus! I repeatedly asked Dr. F if that was “normal” and he said it was just fine and normal. So we survived another week! Then Dr. F printed out the ultrasound picture for me and I just held it for a moment with a “well what do you want me to do with this” look on my face. I didn’t want to take it because I thought for sure if I took it then I would be jinxing it and my “something in there” would disappear. I wanted to ask him to hold it for me and put it in my file so that if it all worked out he could give them back to me at the end and if it didn’t I wouldn’t have any reminders. But I just quietly took it and put it in my purse because I didn’t want him to think I was a total nut job even though I am sure that wouldn’t have been the only evidence to prove that I was a nut job.
This is the part of infertility I hate most…it robs you of what should be a very happy moment because you are scared to death to be happy. You hate the fact that everyone else gets to be pregnant and be happy and move along without a care in the world…I know that’s not true and that MOST woman worry their whole pregnancy but for those of us who have had a loss or have gone down the infertility road know the level of anxiety and worry that overcomes you because you have been here before in this fight… and lost.
After I went home that night of course I took out the picture and started at the little blob in the picture. And again I started to feel that hope creep up and instead of telling it to go away, I welcomed it. I decided that night that I was going to try to enjoy this pregnancy however long it was going to last because for that day I was pregnant and a mom to the little one inside me. I also decided to write a little message on the back of the picture to my little one that I couldn’t wait to meet him or her in October when I would be due.
The next week, Dr. F told us he was looking for a fetal pole and possibly a heartbeat. He did see a fetal pole but no heartbeat…yet. He reassured us that it was still a little early but that there had been good growth since the previous week so not to lose hope. Again, I told myself I am going to stay positive. The following week was the BIG week…the viability ultrasound. I think I lost a few years of my life worrying about that ultrasound and as luck would have it my husband was out of town for a business trip that week. I warned him that if it was bad news I was going to kill him and I probably had enough hormones in me to actually do it. As I laid there staring at that damn machine I just kept thinking “please let there be a heartbeat, please” over and over again. And all of sudden there it was…blinking on the screen! It was beautiful. I think Dr. F was just as in shock as I was and I just wanted to press pause and just stay in that moment for awhile. When I told my husband he couldn’t believe it either. We had never gotten to that point in any of our pregnancies so this was BIG and it just got REAL!
As the days went on I began to feel a little lighter and some of that anxiety and fear started to lift because as I Googled numerous times and read that the rate of miscarriage drops dramatically once you see a heartbeat and that information eased my fears. I was still a little nervous though because despite Dr. F’s reassurance that it was a strong heartbeat, I was measuring a couple of days behind and that had me feeling a little unsettled. Once I again I Googled and found that it was normal in the beginning weeks so I just tried to brush it off.
When Thursday rolled around for my 8 week ultrasound I started to feel very anxious and scared but just kept telling myself that everything was ok. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew immediately when I saw the ultrasound and didn’t see that little flicker anymore that it was gone. I remember Dr. F confirming it saying that the strong heartbeat will saw last week dropped out. My husband was quiet but I knew he was just as heartbroken as I was. I immediately went into my “rock mode” where I don’t want to show emotion because I am afraid if I start crying I won’t ever stop. The doctor told me my options which I already knew were all awful but I chose another D&E because it seems the least traumatic and the quickest of them all. I was scheduled for the next day. When I went home I finally cried. I was still in shock and didn’t want to believe that life could be that cruel to show us that little heartbeat one week and then take it away especially after everything we had already been through. I was angry, sad and heartbroken.
The next day I had the D&E which went as smoothly as one can go. The next few days were kind of a blur and I just remember feeling so lost and overwhelmed. My husband was great and made sure I was well taken care of. He said he was worried about me and honestly I was worried about me too but I kept that to myself as I didn’t want to worry him even more. I told a few of my “fertility friends” who were all great too and offered words of comfort and support. When you have a miscarriage, it feels like something is missing but you can’t quite put your finger on it. It’s an odd feeling because there is no “person” that was here to mourn but yet someone is gone. I find it hard to get closure on this kind of loss. There’s no funeral or memorial to say goodbye and most often very few people if any even knew you were pregnant. I was much more open with this loss than the others. When I went back to work, a few asked if I was sick and I was honest. I didn’t want to pretend I had the flu or a stomach bug because I didn’t…I lost my baby. The only thing worse than that would be to pretend it didn’t happen at all.
As the days and weeks went on, the grief lessened and I started to feel a little more human again. We opted to have genetic testing done which showed there was an extra chromosome…Trisomy 16 which is not compatible with life. When Dr. F told me this I wanted to laugh because how could there be a heartbeat if it wasn’t compatible with life? On the flip side, I was actually relieved that there was at least a definitive reason for this loss. An answer.
This miscarriage hit me the hardest. I don’t know if it’s because I saw the heartbeat or if you just get to a point where enough is enough or maybe a little of both. Even now 2 months later though, I still feel like there is a part of me that is missing. In the past few days, I have heard of at least 5 people that are due in October when I would have been due. I didn’t ask Dr. F if it was a boy or a girl but after much contemplating I talked it over with my husband and we would like to find out when we are ready. I had a feeling it was a boy from the beginning. I don’t know if that will help me get closure or not but I need to find out for us and for our baby.
This is the story of our little one and I know he or she is with our other little angels and always in my heart. xo