Not Compatible With Life

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

 

For the grieving! #infertility #RPL #Miscarriage

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Feeling Antsy…

I have been trying to think of the best word to describe how I am feeling right now and the only thing that I can think of is…antsy.  For an infertile, this is the feeling you most often get after you have tried something and it failed and you don’t really feel like doing anything because you are so tired of all of the poking and prodding and disappointment but yet you feel like you SHOULD be doing something.  Or maybe you kind of want to do something but not really but maybe you do and all that back and forth makes you antsy.

I finally got my period after 10+ weeks post D&E and feel how I always feel about my period…I am not really happy to see it but at the same time it’s arrival signifies a new cycle and new possibilities…maybe.  Dr. F recommended that we do a hysteroscopy just to make sure there was no scar tissue from the miscarriages or anything else going on since my last one last year.    So when I called to schedule it because as everything in the infertility world it has to be done on a CERTAIN day…days 9-11 to be exact.  They also wanted me to come in to do ANOTHER day 3 follicle count and bloodwork.  I am tired of bloodwork, my veins are tired of bloodwork and I am sure the nurse is tired of me coming in for bloodwork.  But off I went on Day 3.

Dr. F eagerly greeted me with a “So are we moving on to IVF??”  While I appreciate his enthusiasm, I still give my standard answer these days of “we’ll see” because it’s about as noncommittal as you can possibly be but yet still polite.  As I laid on the table waiting for my ultrasound, I got really sad looking at that f***ing machine.  I couldn’t help but think that I should be coming in for my whatever week ultrasound I should be on (honestly I have stopped counting the weeks that I would have been with this last miscarriage because it’s just too depressing) but instead I am looking at an empty uterus and my shitty ovaries.  Unfortunately things only continued to go down from here.  Dr. F informed me that my antral follicle count was 6 which I already know is on the really low side and almost half of what it was in January when it was on the lower average side.  On the positive side my FSH level was 8.4 so at least that hasn’t given up yet.  When I left the office I started to feel that awful infertility depression coming over me again…that pissed off, sad, angry, bitter, lost feeling.  I hadn’t felt it in awhile and I am attributing it to that damn ultrasound machine.  It can either be your best friend or your worst mother f***ing enemy.

Fast forward, to Day 9 and hysteroscopy day.  For those who are not familiar with this procedure…it is where they dilate your cervix and insert a small catheter into your uterus.  They then inject saline and a small camera so they can take a look inside your uterus.  It’s not too bad except for some mild cramping when they dilate your cervix but it only lasts a few minutes.  If you haven’t had one yet and you do end up having one I do recommend taking a look at the screen…I promise you will have a new found respect for your uterus. The worst part is when they have you spread eagle with nothing but a very thin paper sheet that barely covers you and you are waiting for the doctor to get started.  It’s so awkward…for everyone.

During the procedure Dr. F noticed an area of “junk”…yes those were the words he used!  Normally he is very straight and to the point and only uses proper medical terms.  So when I said he excuse me he proceeded to tell me it was probably leftover “matter” from the pregnancy and that most likely with my next cycle it would be gone BUT because there’s always a but…IF we proceed forward with IVF then they would need to do another hysteroscopy to make sure it was all clear.  WONDERFUL!  I also expressed my concern about my low follicle count from the previous week and asked at what point would they not recommend IVF?  He looked at me like I had 5 heads so I kept with my question as to how low was too low of a follicle count for IVF?  He told me “when it’s zero than it’s too low”

I left with mixed emotions. While I appreciate his let’s not give up until we have to attitude at the same time do I really want to put myself through all of that with such a low number?  He did say it varies from month to month and my body is still just get back to normal so it could be better next month. This is what also makes me feel antsy…all of the coulds, shoulds and maybes.  Nothing is ever just yes or no but I guess neither is life.  So for now, I am trying to be ok with antsy and all of the coulds, shoulds and maybes.

 

I thought this would be most appropriate for today’s post:

You think I'm a bitch? You should meet my uterus. #infertility humor

My Thoughts on Turning 40…

So in just a few hours I will be turning 40.  I have been filled with many different emotions over the last few days about turning 40…happiness, sadness, excitement, dread, hope, fear, fulfillment, longing, etc.  As I have been reflecting upon the last decade and taking stock of my life I have come to some realizations.  I am pretty confident about who I am and more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been.  I am married to my best friend and we actually really like each other.  I am a stepmother to two great kids.  I am at a point in my teaching career where I am not questioned about every little thing and I think parents trust that I know what I am doing by now.  I am in good health aside from my infertility.  Not too shabby right?  So why is it that we always seem to focus on the one thing that isn’t right in our lives?

For most people, turning 40 really isn’t that big of a deal but for an infertile like myself it is HUGE.  Every statistic is broken down into under 35, over 35 and over 40…apparently after 40 you fall off of the fertility cliff.  Everything drastically gets reduced to single digit numbers and they use the term “advanced maternal age”.  How is it that everything in society says you are still young, life is just getting started, etc. BUT your reproductive system is OLD.  I bet if you asked my ovaries how old I was they would not have a clue.

Today my husband threw me a beautiful surprise 40th Birthday party.  I felt extremely lucky to have so many family members and friends who came out to celebrate.  It reminded me that while I may not have everything I want, I do have many more things than a lot of people have and I am grateful for all of those things.  No matter what happens I will always have my family and friends.  So while I am not going to lie, there is a small part of me that feels a little sad that I am not exactly where I hoped to be in the baby area, the rest of me says 40…BRING IT ON!

I decided to make a list of celebrity moms over 40 to remind me that there is still hope:

Nicole Kidman

Gwen Stefani

Nancy Grace

Drew Barrymore

Halle Berry…although I am not convinced she is human

Selma Hayek

Uma Thurman

Kelly Preston…pretty sure the scientologists were involved as she was 48!

Mariah Carey

Jane Seymour

Celine Dion

 

 

So What Do You Want to Do Next?

This seems to be the question of the day and quite honestly I have no clue.  Well that’s not entirely true…I have a few clues swirling around in my head but how do you know which one is the right one?  Anyone who is or has gone through infertility knows that this is the most difficult part…what do you want to do next?  Most often you are being asked this after you have just undergone a failed cycle or a failed pregnancy and usually after you have just pumped yourself full of hormones and/or spent a shitload of money…not a good combo!  But yet EVERYONE wants to know “what are you going to do next??”

Usually my approach to decision making is as follows: explore all of my options, see which ones sit better with me than others and usually one will eventually win out over the others and that’s the one I go with.  If I had all of the time in the world to decide this would be fine or if there wasn’t a whole other person in this equation aka my husband than this would be fine.  But time is not on my side and my husband’s feelings and opinions are just as important as mine and sometimes we don’t always agree.

My top three at the moment are as follows and in no particular order or maybe subconsciously they are:

1.  Continue trying either naturally or take the plunge into IVF

2.  Consider other options such as adoption

3.  Live our lives as is with no children of our own together

On any given day I could see myself in any one of these scenarios but that is the problem…it changes EVERY DAY!  My new Asian therapist, who I LOVE but haven’t thought of a nickname for her yet, has suggested that I shelve this decision until I am in a place where I can actually make a decision.  I am still grieving my losses and trying to heal.  My husband and I are trying to get back to just being a couple again and having fun.  I am a girl who likes  correction NEEDS a plan but every time I make a plan the fertility gods seem to laugh at that plan and say I don’t think so sister!  So for now my plan is no plan.

Some “helpful” advice we all just love in ecard format:

Gotta love it when struggling with infertility, people tell you, you can 'just adopt'. 'Cause it's so easy- I always have $30,000-$45,000 laying around, don't you?

I can't tell you how many times I was told this load of bull,,lol

You know what works best for me when I feel bad? When someone has no idea what I'm going through and tells me to get over it.

When you say everything happens for a reason, don't be surprised when I slap you in the face. It happened for a reason.

My Story and Welcome

If you are reading this you are either a fellow infertile, former infertile or a “sort of “infertile who isn’t ready to commit to that label just yet or you are a family member or friend of mine.  Regardless of who you are or why you came, I welcome you to my infertility blog with open arms.  I started this blog at the suggestion of my husband who thought it might help me to write about my feelings but more importantly to spread awareness and connect with others who are also on this crazy ride.  Being able to share stories, talk with others and just vent has been my lifeline on this journey.  Please feel free to comment, share stories or ask questions.  This blog is just as much yours as it is mine:)

Here is a timeline of our journey thus far:

January 2012- officially began “trying”

July 2012- got our first PREGNANT

August 2012- found out our 9 week ultrasound that our little one stopped developing around 6

weeks:(

September 7, 2012- had my 1st D&E

December 2012- got our second PREGNANT

January 2013- after weeks of bloodwork and ultrasounds it was confirmed I had a blighted ovum:(

January 3, 2013- had my 2nd D&E

February 2013- Began seeing our fertility doctor AKA Dr. F

March 2013- Clomid Challenge test…responded well so Dr. F recommended doing an IUI so we said sure!  IUI #1=fail

April 2013- all testing was normal BUT very low AMH level…official diagnosis: Poor Ovarian Reserve…my ovaries and I were not happy to hear that news!

June 2013- began injectable hormones Menopur for IUI #2 =fail

end of June 2013- had my first “meltdown” during my consultation with Dr. F to which he recommended I take a little break but offered to monitor me in a “natural cycle”

July 2013- got our third PREGNANT!

July 2013…two days later HCG levels confirm a chemical pregnancy:(

July 2013-October 2013- took a much needed break

October 2013- got our fourth PREGNANT!  Surprise!

October 2013…two days later another chemical pregnancy confirmed:(

November 2013- found an awesome support group through RESOLVE

December 31, 2013- Consultation with Dr. F who recommends IVF with chromosomal embryo screening but Aetna says oh no…you have to do 3 rounds of something else first before IVF and you have only done 2…BOOOOO!

****my insurance disclaimer: I teach in NJ therefore I have, according to Dr. F, “the Cadillac of fertility coverage!”  And yes I do feel VERY blessed to have this coverage and believe that ALL woman should have fertility coverage.  However this can also be a curse as it keeps you on this crazy ride for a lot longer than it sometimes should and makes it that much harder to know when enough is enough.  So I am not complaining by any means nor am I not appreciative but sometimes it just makes it harder to make the right treatment decisions.  Really Aetna I do love and appreciate you beyond words!***

January 2014- started another round of Menopur injectables for IUI #3=success!!  Our fifth PREGNANT!

February 2014- all looks good…HCG levels…fabulous!  4 week, 5 week and 6 week ultrasounds…fabulous!

March 2014- 7 week viability ultrasound…HEARTBEAT!  FABULOUS!!!

March 13, 2014- no heartbeat:(…not fabulous:(((

March 14, 2014- had my 3rd D&E

End of March 2014- started acupuncture and seeing my new Asian therapist

April 2014- genetic testing on our little one comes back showing an extra chromosome- trisomy 16

April 2014-present- I have no idea what we will do next…TBD

 

So this is where we are at now, that awful what the F do we do now? stage.  It sucks…

 

Some inspirational quotes that get me through and hopefully they will help you too:

You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it. #infertility #inspiration #hope

Dear God,      I've tried my best, but if today I lose my hope please tell me that your plans are better than my dreams.                                           #infertility. I am so close, though .... each day gets harder ...