So maybe I am crazy after all…

So I came across this interesting piece of information today: “From a mental health point of view, up to 1 in 5 women who experience miscarriage have anxiety levels similar to people attending psychiatric outpatient services, and up to a third of women attending specialist clinics as a result of miscarriage are clinically depressed”  I thought this was very interesting because over the past 2 years I have found myself so much more anxious over many things that have nothing to do with miscarriage or infertility.  I find myself up in the middle of the night thinking about the most random crap and wondering why I am worrying about it so much and at 2 o’clock in the morning!

A fellow fertility friend of mine told me about her friend who wrote his thesis statement on couples going through infertility treatments and asked her how she didn’t go f***ing nuts!  And it is true…how do we not go crazy??  Or maybe we are crazy but God forbid should someone point that out because they might get punched in the face.

I often times think I might be just a little crazy for continuing on this journey after everything I have been through.  Who else in their right mind would willingly keep getting pregnant after so many losses or  pump themselves full of hormones and go through torturous procedures just to get pregnant?   Over and over gain no less!

The worst part about all of this is that miscarriage and infertility are such taboo subjects that no one really talks about.  So many of us are just suffering in silence.  I am very fortunate to have found a therapist that specializes in working with woman going through infertility and miscarriage and have also found a really great support group through Resolve.  I also have a great network of friends who have gone through similar struggles but I wouldn’t have found these people unless I started talking about it.

When I think back to those statistics I read today, it made me realize just how deep this effects us from a mental health stand point.  It also makes me very sad for all of those who are going through this on their own without a support system.  I know first hand the levels of anxiety associated with miscarriage and the levels of grief and depression that one goes through when suffering from a miscarriage and no one should go it alone.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with others and if I was able to reach even just one person and make them feel like they are not alone than that will be one less person out there suffering all alone.  I remember how relieved I felt when I talked to someone about my struggles for the first time because I knew that I wasn’t alone and that everything I felt was normal.  IF you are going through this alone, I encourage you to find others to talk with and find a support group or therapist who can help.  You wouldn’t tell someone who was going through a major depression to just buck up and get over it right?  As I wrote earlier, the Resolve website is a great resource and can help you find a support group in your area.  Also the Psychology Today website is a website you can use to help find a therapist in your area.

I say if they really want to punish people in prison…put them through infertility treatments.  Pump them up real good with hormones and then make them think they are getting out in two weeks and then when their two week wait is over let them know they are not in fact getting out of prison or give them hopeful updates every 2-3 days and then tell them 8 weeks later they are not getting out.  And then just keep doing this over and over again.  I bet our crime rates would go way down!

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I Just Knew…

Two years ago I got pregnant with my first little one.  I was so happy and excited.  I downloaded the What to Expect App on my phone so I could track my progress.  I signed up for updates and emails from The Bump.  I even went as far as to purchase one of those maternity belly bands because my pants were getting tight.  We made announcements to our family and very close friends because you know that’s what people do when they get pregnant right?  They tell everyone!

It was also around this time 2 years ago almost to the exact day that I just knew something was wrong.  It was 2 weeks before we were leaving for vacation and I was getting ready for bed when all of a sudden I had this very strange feeling.  To this day I will never forget that feeling and it is hard to explain but I will try.  I felt like everything got really quiet, not just in my house but even my body got real quiet. It was like everything just stopped.  Then I just had this strange thought in my head saying “it’s gone, it’s over”.  And then just like that things weren’t quiet anymore.  It was such a strange, almost surreal feeling.

I quickly googled signs and symptoms of miscarriage and went down the list to see if I had any of them.  The most common: cramps…not one, bleeding…not a drop, back pain…nope.  I had none of the signs.  My boobs were still incredibly sore and I was feeling exhausted so my pregnancy symptoms were still there.  So I proceeded on and went on vacation the following but I still kept thinking about that feeling and couldn’t get the feeling that something wasn’t right out of my mind.

The week we came back from vacation, we had an ultrasound scheduled at 9 weeks…not because there was anything wrong but we had the opportunity to go early so we went.  We went to the hospital rather than my OB-GYN since it was technically a diagnostic ultrasound due to it being so early.  We were so eager and couldn’t wait to see our baby however the ultrasound technician made it very clear that she was NOT discussing anything with us and that she would just take the pictures and give it to the radiologist.  I would have to get the results from my doctor.  I thought maybe this was just a formality and she was surely going to show us our baby.  But no she did not…she took those pictures, told me to get dressed and that I would have the results from my doctor in 2 hours.  I remember I kept thinking “what results?”  It’s a picture of a human baby not an alien right??

At this time I noticed my husband was sitting very quiet.  I asked him if ge could see anything and he nodded yes but didn’t say anything.  So I said “well what did you see?!”  He told me that he saw a sac but no flicker on the screen which he remembered from his 2 daughters ultrasounds that he saw a flicker for the heartbeat but that maybe it was too early.  He saw I was getting upset and then apologized and told me he was probably wrong and not to pay any attention to what he said.  I tried to tell myself that yes my husband is dumb and has no clue what he saw or is talking about but I thought of that night before vacation and that awful feeling and I just knew.

A couple of hours later, the doctor called and told us that the ultrasound showed a fetal pole measuring about 6 weeks with no heartbeat and that I was supposed to be 9 weeks so this was not a viable pregnancy.  I just remember I kept saying that I had NO symptoms and maybe my dates were wrong and that’s when I learned a new term: missed miscarriage (A missed miscarriage is when the baby stops developing but you don’t experience any miscarriage symptoms and your body still thinks you are pregnant).  He advised me to come in the next day to the office to have an exam and go over my “options”.

We were in shock.  Everyone was calling and texting us asking how it went because you know we told everyone and now we had to untell everyone that there was no baby.  The next day we went to my Ob-gyn office and saw another doctor (I go to a large practice so I see a different person every time).  She examined me and went over our ultrasound results and then said that she thought it might be possible that maybe I am not as far a long as I thought and maybe I really am only 6 weeks which could be early to see a heartbeat.  She didn’t want to get our hopes up but wanted to make sure that it was not a viable pregnancy before we made any decisions.  I loved her…she was so bright and optimistic even though she looked twelve.  I didn’t care how old she was because on that day she was the best doctor in the world until she called 2 days later to tell me that my hcg level showed it was dropping.  And then the following week when we went for the follow up ultrasound and everything was exactly the same as the week before…no heartbeat…no baby.  We were devastated all over again and once again I kept thinking about that night before vacation which would have been around 6 weeks and how I just knew.

This was also the night before my first day of school which as a teacher I didn’t have time to have a miscarriage let alone miss the first day of school!  I can’t even tell you how I got through that first day with my second graders or really that week before of setting up my classroom and getting ready to start the year or the weeks that followed for that matter.  I had my appointment for my D&E the next day which was the 2nd day of school and luckily on a Friday.

When I think back on that time 2 years ago, I feel so many things.  Obviously sadness and pain but also a little jealous of my first pregnancy self.  I got to experience what it was like to get pregnant and be genuinely happy and excited rather than worry about how long this one is going to last or worry every day what the results are going to be at each appointment.  I am grateful that I got to experience all of that even though deep down, maybe even mother’s intuition…I just knew.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss AKA RPL

I have recently stumbled across some fellow RPL (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss- defined by having 2 or more consecutive miscarriages) Bloggers and have been interested in reading how others are dealing with this and what their plans are for moving forward.   RPL presents a unique challenge in the infertility world because you are able to get pregnant and usually without much effort which is a contradiction to the definition of infertility and not being able to get pregnant.  The problem with us RPL’ers is  we don’t seem to be able to STAY pregnant.

I have found others, like myself, are also usually diagnosed with Poor Ovarian Reserve or Diminished Ovarian Reserve…is there really even a difference??  They both suck!  And Poor Egg Quality as the most likely cause for the miscarriages.  So the difficulty really comes down to getting pregnant with a “good egg”.  For me this is what keeps me holding on and hoping that one day I will get pregnant with that one good egg and stay pregnant.  It also baffles me as to how I could have managed to get pregnant in the first place let alone five times if my “reserve” is so diminished and poor.  I often joke with Dr. F that I am probably one of his most fertile infertility patient.  Imagine how many babies I could have had in my twenties or early thirties?!

I was speaking to a former infertile who had trouble conceiving but did eventually go on to have children. She said she was always so jealous of those who were able to at least get pregnant even if it didn’t last.  I thought just the opposite…why bother to get pregnant if it’s just going to end.  I guess it’s both a blessing and a curse?  Sometimes I wish I didn’t get pregnant at all but then I think of my little angels and know that they do have a purpose even if  I was just meant to be a mom to them for a short time.

The fact that I am able to get pregnant is one of the main reasons I am still so hesitant about moving onto IVF.  Why would I want to put my body through all of that when I can do it on my own with what could be the same results?  The benefit I guess would be that we would have a better idea which embryos would be more viable if any especially if we did CCES (comprehensive chromosomal embryo screening).  I still struggle with that part too…the knowledge of knowing which embryos are viable and which are not is so incredible but at the same time is that tampering with nature and God’s plan too much?  These are just my own personal thoughts and certainly don’t want to judge those who have or had gone through embryo testing.  In fact, I would be curious to know for those of you who have had embryo testing…was this decision a struggle for you?  If so, what made you decide to just go for it?

I never thought I would be here at 5 losses…one was devastating enough, then two was just heartbreaking, and so on.  I often wonder how many more I will have to go through or will my body just eventually say enough and I will stop getting pregnant?  But when I read the success stories of those that have suffered multiple losses too and then have gone on to have their rainbow babies it gives me hope and strength to keep on going.  I keep telling myself it only takes one.

For all of my fellow miscarriage survivors:

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Here are a few other RPL bloggers you may want to check out: My Hope Jar  Project Sweet Pea and My Perfect Breakdown

Chemical Pregnancies AKA Natures Cruel Joke

For those of you who are not familiar with the term “chemical pregnancy” it is basically a very early miscarriage.  It happens at a point where a home pregnancy test or a blood test are the only evidence that you were pregnant and before an ultrasound could show a gestational sac.  A lot of women have them and don’t even know they were pregnant.  They might just think their period was late or heavier than usual.  I like to think of them as Natures Cruel Joke.

I myself have had the unfortunate luck to have had two…that I know of.  The first one was about this time last year.  I was a couple of days late with my period and decided to take a test for the hell of it.  I didn’t really feel any different and we were taking a break from treatments and any real attempts at trying to conceive so I didn’t really think I was pregnant BUT low and behold my test showed that I was PREGNANT.  I remember shouting out loud in my bathroom “WHAT??!” because I really didn’t think that was going to be the result.  I quickly called my doctors office and they told me to come in the next day for bloodwork.  This time I was actually happy to go in for bloodwork.

I remember feeling so many different emotions but most of all I remember thinking that this was going to be it.  This was going to be my rainbow baby, third time is a charm, light at the end of the tunnel etc.  And then I got the call from Nurse T who told me that yes I was in fact pregnant but that my hcg level was on the low side at 30 so we should be cautiously optimistic until we see if my levels are doubling.  So of course all of those hopes and dreams came crashing down…again!  I waited the 48 hours to go back again which always seems like an eternity and then got the dreaded call from Nurse T that my hcg level had dropped and that she was sorry but it looked like a chemical pregnancy.  So that was that.  It was pretty much over before it even started and now nothing left to do but wait for my period.

The second one was last October and pretty much the same scenario as the first except I remember shouting out “FUCK” when I saw my home pregnancy test said I was pregnant.  I remember feeling pissed off because I just knew it wasn’t going to be good and I didn’t want to go through this all again.  And I was pissed off because I couldn’t just be happy.  I felt bad that I couldn’t just be happy.  Infertility is like a dark cloud that just hangs over any potential good news you might get.  Always waiting to shit all over everything.

So yes Mother Nature you have scored one for yourself with your chemical pregnancies.  Let us get our hopes up and all just to change your mind a few days later.  That is the only positive if there can be a positive is that it is very short lived.  Instead of weeks of building up your hopes with a pregnancy it’s only a few days which is slightly more bearable but still a loss none the less.

For those of you out there who have had a chemical pregnancy don’t let anyone tell you or make you feel like you weren’t really pregnant because you were and it was real. I think of those two little babies often who would have been born in March and June and what could have been. xoxo

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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