Thursday, May 27, 2010

falling

I had to go in last Wednesday and again yesterday for follow-up blood tests to make sure my hcG level is dropping to reflect a completed miscarriage. It was 193 last week, and fell to 11.4 yesterday. Hopefully this means I'll be at 0 for next week's blood test.

The sooner the better. I want to put this behind me, to have tangible closure. I'm eager to move forward, to get to a good place again, emotionally just because I need to get there again and physically so that we can try again. I don't want to rush things, of course - but I do want to move forward.

I feel like we've spent soooooo much time in holding patterns throughout this whole process. The first year we tried to conceive, we assumed things were fine and we just weren't getting the timing right. We waited to seek help. The second year we tried to conceive, when I was really starting to get concerned, we sought some help but our insurance wouldn't cover ANY fertility testing, much less fertility treatment, so we just kept trying and praying. The third year we tried to conceive, Super Man lost his job due to layoffs, so we stopped trying for four months and waited for him to make his next career move, not wanting to get pregnant if we had no income and no insurance coverage. Thankfully, Super Man accepted a fabulous position at a great company that had excellent insurance, insurance that covered fertility testing and treatment up to and including IUI. Even then, however, we had to wait to see the specialist, wait for more testing to be done, wait for my surgery to remove the uterine polyps, wait to heal from that, and then wait to see if each month of IUI worked.

It's one thing to wait 9 months for a baby to be born; it's entirely another to wait, and wait, and wait just to get pregnant. My patience - already thin and patchy for, oh, my entire life - is virtually non-existent now. I know I can't control this, at all. As frustrating as that is, as much as this body belongs to ME, I have no control over what it does in this regard. The sooner we can get back on track with our fertility treatments, the sooner - hopefully - I will be pregnant again. That is worth the wait. That and that alone.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that this is all going on now, in late spring going into summer. I've always had issues with seasonal affective disorder (undiagnosed, of course - but I hold a degree in psychology and I know the symptoms) in fall and winter, and I know that if this were happening then I'd be in utter despair. At least I have sunshine and warm weather and fun activities to distract me from some of this, and that's huge for me.

Things will be okay. Each day that passes will get me closer to where I want to be. I am holding onto that.

With greatest hope,
SW

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

big boy

This past Sunday was Super Boy's 7th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUPER BOY!!! :)



This child is:

- a miracle.
- incredibly sweet, loving and nurturing.
- funny and charismatic.
- clever, witty and wise.
- very intelligent and articulate.
- a social butterfly and chick-magnet.
- the most beautiful human being I've ever laid eyes on.
- the very center of my universe, the core of my soul.
- so much Super Man.
- so much me.
- truly my little Italian angel.

I never knew it was possible to love someone else so thoroughly and completely and unconditionally until I had my little boy seven years ago. And that's saying something because I adore my husband, have been madly in love with him since 1998. This child, our child, just takes my breath away and he has since the moment I laid eyes on him.


I can't believe he's already seven. I can close my eyes and picture and feel his tiny but sturdy little body in my arms on Day One, and when I open my eyes and behold the big boy he is now, it's stunning to me. The time went by so quickly, and he changed so imperceptibly from one day to the next. Seven years go by in the blink of an eye.

I have been so amazed by everything my son has learned over the years, and especially just by what he's learned this year alone. He's so smart... I can't believe how much he knows, by how inquisitive his mind is.

I'm overwhelmed by his capacity to love and care for those around him, by his intuitiveness and instinct in his relationships. He is so loving towards his family, and towards me in particular. I hope he never loses that. He is so sensitive in good ways, yet strong and assured in others. I'm impressed by him and his character, every single day.

I want such a great future for my boy. I picture the things that will unfold in his life from this point forward, and I just want all his dreams to come true. I want him to live an extraordinary life, surrounded by extraordinary people, and I have every belief that he will. He's a charmed little boy, blessed by angels. I absolutely adore him.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy. I wish only good things and happy days for you, lovey!!

With all the love in my heart,
Your Super Mom

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

waiting and thinking, thinking and waiting

Well, I think the worst has passed physically, in that my cramping is very minimal and the bleeding is trailing off. Emotionally, on the other hand, I still feel like a train wreck.

I am numb. It takes so much energy to get excited about anything right now, to hold a conversation with someone, to remember details, to even put a smile on my face when I'm spending time with Super Boy so he knows that yeah, Mommy is sad but everything is okay. I feel like I'm going through the motions of my normal life but the meaning is lost right now. I know this will pass, but it's unnerving. If I could give in to my urge to crawl into bed and stay there indefinitely, I probably would. I suppose I'm grateful that my "real life" beckons, and I have to take care of my son and my dog and my house, at a minimum, so I simply can't let myself get sucked into a major depression over this.

But friends call or email and want to get together, and I can't. I just can't. I know it might make me feel better to be able to talk about it with them (especially those who have gone through it themselves) and cry on their shoulders a little bit, but honestly, I feel like my grieving process is the only private thing I have left with this. I realized that I've shot myself in the foot, so to speak, by talking so openly - here, on Facebook, on my mom websites, and in person with people - about our whole struggle to conceive. I felt obligated to tell everyone that I WAS pregnant and then to inform them that now I'm NOT. I can write about what it feels like, what I'm going through, but to actually sit with someone and cry about it with rivers of tears and snot running down my face, my arms wrapped tightly around my middle to keep it from falling apart, and let people see me in the midst of the mourning is just not something I can do right now. This is all I have left.

I had to go in for a follow-up hcG test this morning. My doctor didn't mention that when I was in his office last week, but when I spoke with his nurse Monday, she gently told me that I will have to go in weekly until the number is below 5 again. I sat there in the blood draw this morning thinking that the last time I was there, I got the best news ever a few hours later, that my hcG was 99.6 and I was definitely pregnant, at long last. I know the news this time will not be happy. My hcG should be dropping. While that is what is "normal" in this situation, it makes me miserable to imagine it.

I'm restless. All I can think about is getting back on track for IUI #4. If my hcG goes down fast enough, there is a possibility that we could try again in June, but then again the rational side of me knows that I should let my body rest, and wait until July. There's also the pesky matter of getting my period again at some point. Must have that before I can have another ovulatory cycle. I know my more practical side will prevail, but I'm not a patient person by nature, so the next 6 weeks (or more) of waiting will be torture.

And then I find myself trying to caution my heart into not getting its hopes up that IUI #4 will be our salvation. Just because #3 technically worked doesn't mean #4 will. I may end up disappointed again when that cycle comes to an end. Still, I can't help but hope. And - as stupid as it might sound - I hope that now that my body has finally accomplished getting pregnant again, maybe the skids are greased to make it easier to achieve again on one of our future attempts, you know? You hear about that happening sometimes.

Hell, I just read this morning that Kelly Preston and John Travolta are having another baby -- she is pregnant, and she's 47. If she can do it at 47, surely I can manage it at 36 with the helpful medical intervention of my fertility specialist! Right? Right?

aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh....

And then I have other situations that I don't know how or whether to deal with. Rather than go into detail about the situations (trust me, I've learned my lesson with that), I figured I'd post a few tips for people on how to help someone around you who is going through or has recently been through a miscarriage, now that I'm living it first-hand.

-- No matter how early the miscarriage happened or whether it was a blighted ovum or not, don't ever tell the person that they weren't "really" pregnant. If the person went through some form of fertility treatment to get pregnant and then miscarried under any circumstances, don't tell them that the treatment didn't work. If you've ever been pregnant before, you know that - deep down - when you see that positive pregnancy test or hear the doctor or nurse speak the words YOU'RE PREGNANT, you are all-in. There is no "kind of" or "not really" or any middle ground. Pregnant is pregnant, whether it continues to a healthy baby being born or not. And when it doesn't result in a healthy baby being born, you need to show compassion and respect for the pregnancy that failed. When fertility treatment is involved, saying the treatment didn't work only discourages the person from trying it again, which is not helpful because a person going through that needs all the faith they can muster to get through those treatments, and the reality is that the treatment DID work; the pregnancy didn't.

-- Everyone is different, so just because you may have been through a miscarriage yourself doesn't mean that the person next to you going through it is going to have the same exact experience with it that you did. They might be in more or less physical pain than you were (pain is a very subjective thing), it might take longer for their miscarriage to wrap up than yours did, they might take longer to heal or "get over it" emotionally than you did. You shouldn't judge them for their experience, nor can you push them into getting through their process any faster than they can get through it. You're only going to make the person feel worse - and angry - if you try to force them to "perk up" or "move on." Just let them be and be supportive.

-- Don't talk about the miscarriage behind the person's back. She may have told a million people already, but it's not your place to tell anyone else about it, or to discuss it with other people regardless. This is a heartbreaking situation, and if you're truly a friend, you've got to show respect and care.

-- Don't use meaningless platitudes like "I guess it wasn't meant to be" or "it's God's will" or "I'm sure you'll get pregnant again" when offering your condolences. If you don't know the "right" thing to say, just tell the person that you're sorry for their loss and will keep them in your thoughts or prayers. Really, just that means so much to someone who is hurting and mourning that loss.

-- Don't bring the person's age or other qualifying factors into your condolences. We know how old we are and the rates of miscarriage for our age groups, we know that we may have had fertility problems, and your bringing them up isn't making anyone feel better. Just say you're sorry for the loss and leave it at that.

-- Be gentle. Be respectful. Give us time to heal.

I'm going to take my dog for a walk somewhere today to enjoy the sun and clear my head. And then I might do some weeding in my yard that's LONG overdue. I'm in a very solitary place right now; I really need this time to myself. I'll be better soon enough, I'm sure. But right now, this is what I need.

Introspectively yours,
SW

Monday, May 17, 2010

miscarriages suck

There's not much else to say besides that, but you know I'll say it anyway.

Friday was a nightmare. Never in my life have I gone into ANY appointment thinking it was going to go one way only to have it veer off in completely the opposite direction. Hearing the news that my baby wasn't there, that my pregnancy stopped at some point and I would miscarry imminently was quite literally the biggest shock I've ever had in my life. The wind was instantly out of my sails, my big giant red balloon of happiness and love and hope was instantly popped, and my heart literally broke into a thousand pieces as I stared at the empty circle on the screen.

Worse than that, when my doctor left the room so I could get dressed and get myself together, I tried to call my husband to tell him the horrible news -- and I couldn't get a hold of him. He knew what time my appointment was at, and he has his work cell phone on him at all times, and I kept hitting redial redial REDIAL and he wasn't answering. (Turns out, he was in meetings all morning in a conference room where he had no cell signal.)

I was furious. Furious and heartbroken and stunned by the whole situation. I called my mom instead, and from two hours away she had to listen to me sob about how my baby was gone.

The rest of the day passed in a blur of crying, disbelief, phone calls, well meaning family and friends sharing their condolences. Eventually, a phone call from Super Man, who hadn't heard my message yet and still thought everything was fine. He was shattered by the news that it was NOT fine.

I was numb. I still didn't believe it. I had no bleeding. No spotting. Everything still felt the same inside.

Saturday morning, Super Boy had a soccer game. I had started spotting that morning, but didn't feel too bad just yet, so I went to the game. He played so well, my little guy, and even though they lost their game it was just so nice to do something NORMAL. To be living life with my beautiful boy and my husband. We went home and had lunch. And then the pain and cramping started.

I was curled up in bed all afternoon and evening. I was told it would be like a slightly-heavier-than-normal period. It is definitely like that. Times ten. The cramping is awful. Not just in my uterus, but in my lower back. It feels like back labor, and I'm still having it today, two days later. The bleeding hasn't been so bad - I was told that if I was soaking maxi pads within an hour to go to the ER, but it's nowhere near that bad. And while I've passed a few clots, they're small: nickel- or quarter-sized, and only a few. No, the pain is by far the worst part. Tylenol will work for a little while, but it doesn't keep it fully at bay.

I literally spent the entire day in bed yesterday, moving my electric heating pad from my lower back to my belly and back again, all day - and all night - long. I woke up Sunday morning at 5am feeling sick from the pain, and nearly passed out. My stomach has been upset and I've had ZERO appetite. I keep drinking fluids and Gatorade, but I don't want to eat, feeling like this.

I can't tell you how much I want this part to be over. I pray for it to just be done. It's such an insult to injury to have to find out you've lost a pregnancy and try to process that emotionally and THEN have to physically endure the loss of what was. I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up in 3 days and have it be over and done with.

Clearly, this is the first time I've experienced this. Knowing now that this is what it is like, I think about the women whose fertility problem is repeated miscarriages, inability to maintain a pregnancy, and it makes me feel a little bit grateful that my fertility problem has been a sheer inability to get pregnant again. I cannot imagine going through the emotional and physical pain of this over and over again. That thought makes my heart absolutely break for women who have and do struggle with recurring miscarriages.

Someone on one of my local mom websites said to me after I shared the news of my miscarriage that she thinks it's admirable that I haven't wallowed in asking "why me?" over the past 4 years of trying to conceive, and especially now after this. She's only partly right, because of course I think that from time to time. Of course I've thought that in the past 4 days. But I don't voice it, and I don't allow myself to linger on that thought when it does cross my mind. Because as bad an experience as this has been for me, I know it could be so much worse. I know that millions of other people in the world have it so much worse than I do. Is this sad and frustrating and "unfair?" Sure; yes. But there are many sadder, more frustrating and infinitely more unfair things that happen to good people every single day. No matter how low I feel, I know that to be true.

And the truth is, I'm BLESSED. I am married to a wonderful man who loves me and provides for our family. I have a beautiful, smart, funny little boy, who I have come to see as even more of a miracle because I haven't been able to give him a little brother or sister and I now FULLY understand just how miraculous it is that I was able to have him. I have a loving, wonderful stepdaughter who has become like my own daughter over our years together. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table, beds to sleep in, families and friends who love us and care about us, and we enjoy a life that many, many others in the world do not. Things could be so much worse. For that reason, I'm grateful that this is the worst thing I've ever experienced.

Things will get better. I will feel better physically. I will make peace with it emotionally. We will move on. We will try again. And I believe that, eventually, we'll have another miracle. And we'll appreciate it that much more for having gone through this.

One day at a time.

With my heating pad on my back and hope in my heart,
SW

Friday, May 14, 2010

the lord giveth, and the lord taketh away...

Oh, God...

I had planned to write a much different post here today than the one I find myself writing now. A much different post.

I don't know how else to say it, so I'm just going to come right out and say it.

I found out on Wednesday 4/28 that our third IUI attempt worked: I was actually pregnant, after 49 long months of trying. I was sooooo excited.... It took every ounce of restraint I had not to scream it from my rooftop and tell everyone I'd ever met, not to mention write post after post about it here. As it was, I told a dozen people over the past 2 weeks, many because they asked how our third IUI attempt went and I didn't want to lie to them considering that I've been SO open and forthcoming with information on every step of our journey.

I started going through Super Boy's baby things, checked his old car seats to see if they were still usable (they have expiration dates, apparently, of 5-6 years, so NONE of them are still "good" from when Super Boy used them), and even started buying some summer maternity clothes from eBay because all the maternity clothes I have are cold weather clothes, as I found out I was expecting Super Boy in September and had him in May. I knitted my first two baby hats, and have been working on a baby blanket. I shifted everything in my world to focus on preparing for a new little miracle to arrive.

I had a 7-week ultrasound today with my Super Doctor, expecting to see my teensy-tiny growing baby (or babies) and see at least one heart beating. Instead, as soon as he found the egg sac, I knew something was wrong. There was only an empty circle -- no baby or anything else inside it. My heart sank and I fought back tears, hoping and praying he'd find another one somewhere else in my uterus with a baby growing in it. He didn't.

It's called a "blighted ovum" and is considered a miscarriage. I've had no spotting or bleeding of any kind. I've had swollen, tender breasts for weeks. I've had nausea so bad I've been back on my old morning sickness cocktail of Vitamin B6 and Unisom for nearly 2 weeks already. I've been exhausted and emotional. I was pregnant.

and now I'm not

My Super Doctor offered me three options:

1) Wait and let it pass on its own, probably in the next 2-4 weeks.

2) Put me on an intravaginal medication that will make me cramp and bleed heavily to force it to pass.

3) Schedule a D&C.

He recommended option #1, which is the one I was more comfortable with anyway. I don't want to be incapacitated in any way because Super Boy's 7th birthday and party are next weekend, and I don't want this to ruin that at all. So now we wait for the empty egg sac to go away on its own, and then give my body a month to rest, and then re-start IUI again.

I'm devastated. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I've wanted this so much, for so long, that to finally hear the words, "You're pregnant!" again was literally magical, miraculous, insanely wonderful. To find out that, yes, I was pregnant but something didn't work out right was just heartbreaking. God bless my doctor - he was so kind and sensitive in talking to me about it and discussing what will happen and how we proceed, that that alone made me cry. He hates delivering this kind of bad news, and I can't blame him one bit. He sees those of us who have agonized and tried for YEARS, and to finally give good news and then have to give condolences can't be easy. Regardless, this is going to be a very hard, very dark day for me.

On the other hand. As I was talking to my doctor, I asked him: "Despite the fact that this didn't stick, it IS a good thing that SOMETHING happened this time, right? I actually did get pregnant - it just didn't make it. So this isn't all bad, right?"

He said that as ironic as it sounds, yes - this actually is a good thing. We now know that I CAN get pregnant. We also know that we had the right components this last time we did IUI, with the new medication that I tolerated so well. He feels very optimistic that once this situation is behind us, we can resume IUI and get the outcome we really want: a healthy baby.

So despite the fact that I'm devastated and heartbroken that this baby wasn't meant to stay with us, I firmly believe that it was a little angel letting us know that we shouldn't give up, that our miracle is still out there. And I feel hopeful that maybe next time will be the right time, and the right baby.

With a heavy heart,
SW