No Longer Pregnant

I wanted to preface this entry by warning you that it will be long, and sometimes very detailed. This is more for me than for you, dear reader, so please don’t feel bad if you can’t get through it all. I have read every message since my last entry, and I am so very appreciative of all the kind words and supportive comments. 

I spent the last week begging my baby to go before our appointment to terminate. I explained that it wasn’t her time, but that she could and should come back to me as soon as possible. I told her over and over that I loved her, but that this body wasn’t meant to be hers. I promised that we would try hard to make a new one for her, one that would be more whole. I told her that if she left now, it would be a wonderful gift to mommy, so that I could stay home with my family. I don’t know if I even believe that she could understand that, or even if there was a “her” at all. But I was desperate. Desperate for this to be over. Desperate not to have to get on a plane and travel far from my home to say goodbye to my baby in a strange place.

Not only did I beg my baby to let go, I pleaded with gods I didn’t believe in, and with relatives who had passed long ago, to help me convince her to leave. And, you know, maybe she did leave. Maybe she left behind a shell that still had a strong heartbeat. I suppose that’s possible. I don’t know how this whole life/soul/spirit thing works.

But, of course, what I really wanted was for her heart to stop beating. Because if it did, termination wouldn’t be necessary, and I wouldn’t have to leave home for medical care. That didn’t happen.

Wednesday, September 21

I spent the morning of our flight unpacking my regular clothes and packing away most of my maternity stuff. I kept a few pieces out in case my body didn’t get the message right away. I fought back tears and hoped with all my might that I would soon need those maternity clothes again.

As the plane took off, I couldn’t help but notice that the trees were starting to show their fall colors. Fall is my favorite season. The weather is finally cooler, and soon it would be my birthday, and my husband’s birthday, then our anniversary, and the start of the holiday season. As I watched the ground get farther away, I felt my love for the season diminish. Fall will always hold a deep sadness from this point on. Fall was my favorite season.

Upon arrival in the Big City, our plane was met with some undesirable weather. We ended up in a holding pattern for a while, and the pilot warned us that if we were there too long, we would need to be diverted to another city. Great, I thought. The icing on the shittiest cake ever. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Though we did experience some awful turbulence before landing.

fullsizerender

The storm that almost diverted us 300 miles from our destination.

Thursday, September 22

Morning came slowly, after a night of tossing and turning in an awful hotel bed. I managed to eat a little, but my stomach wouldn’t allow much. All I can think about is how today might go.

So much fucking waiting. I was warned about the time it would take, but that didn’t make it easier. Too much time to think. And cry. I tried to stay distracted by focusing on the conversations my husband and best friend were having, but it was all so trite and annoying.

When it was finally my time, I was taken to an exam room for vitals, etc., much like any doctor appointment. More waiting, then another ultrasound. Pure torture. I chose not to look, but I cried anyway. The tech was really nice, and told me I had an anterior placenta, which explains why I hadn’t felt much movement, even though she was always moving like crazy on the ultrasound.

More waiting, more information about what was to come, and finally it was time for the dilation rods, or laminaria. So far, everyone has been very courteous, but the support person assigned to me and the doctor who placed the rods were incredibly friendly and compassionate. The insertion was almost completely painless. In fact, I hadn’t even realized that she had started until she was nearly done. Right at the end, as the last rod was placed, I began to experience some pain. More waiting in the recovery area, then I was discharged for the day.

Back at the crappy hotel, the pain was almost unbearable, so I took the pain killers they gave me and tried to relax. Eventually, the drugs kicked in, and I was able to get some rest.

Friday, September 23 

19 weeks 6 days

I cried in the shower. This is not how this was supposed to go. At 20 weeks, I should be posting pictures on Facebook of my “half baked” baby bump, not getting ready to “terminate for medical reasons.” I can’t eat or drink, but, for the first time in my life, that’s just fine with me. We drove in silence to the clinic, arriving a half hour early. They called me back right on time. More consents, more vitals, and then I changed into a hospital gown. More waiting, then the IV, pain medication, and finally (but right on time) I’m in the surgical room. Everyone was kind and compassionate, telling me how sorry they were to meet me under these circumstances. The doctor asks me about our plans to try again, and gives me the same recommendation as the OB and MFM: at least 4 mg of folic acid, starting ASAP.

After I get comfortable in the stirrups with my ass hanging off the end of the bed, a cool breeze on my nether regions, they give me the fast-acting sedation. It’s glorious! The procedure took only a few minutes. It was mostly just uncomfortable, but as soon as I told them I was in pain, the doctor paused while the nurse gave me more pain medication. The nurse and doctor talked to me the whole time, asking me about my work and my daughter. I don’t remember much, but I am grateful for the distraction. It was over quickly, and I was wheeled back to recovery where I ate and drank and was discharged about an hour later.

Physically, I felt fine. I was expecting pain, but had none. I bled heavily the remainder of the day, but it was down to spotting by the time we arrived at the airport. Our flight was delayed by about 30 minutes, which isn’t bad at all, but feels like torture when all you want to do is be home and holding your child after losing your baby. It was about 10:30 pm by the time we walked through our front door, and I did indeed pull my little girl out of her bed to hold and rock her for a few minutes. I breathed in her scent, whispered how much I loved her, and told her I was sorry that she wouldn’t be a big sister just yet, but hopefully some day. I fell asleep, crying, but happy to be in my own bed.

Now

It’s hard to say at any given moment how I am doing. Now that the physical part is over, I feel like I can finally move ahead. I’ve returned to work, trying to get back into a normal routine, which will include regular therapy sessions for a while. I’m grateful to be surrounded by caring and supportive people in my “real” life and online. Friends and family are constantly checking on me, and sending lots of love and chocolate. I continue to feel good physically, and it’s my hope that my body will recover it’s “normal” cycle soon.

Advertisements

Very Bad News

“Anencephaly”

“Incompatible with life”

“Worst type of neural tube defect”

This has been the most horrible, awful week of my life. And I’m not exaggerating, not even a little bit.

Monday, September 12

I received a Facebook message from a high school classmate, someone I see around town occasionally. The Buddy Walk, a fundraising and awareness event for Down syndrome, is coming up soon, and I know she’s heavily involved, so I just assumed she was contacting me about that. I waited until later in the day to read the message. When I finally got around to it, she tells me that her cousin, and my friend, died the night before. Suicide. I was shocked, but not exactly surprised. I knew she struggled with anxiety and depression for quite some time. But I had no idea how bad it was. No one did. I somehow muddled through work, periodically looking at her Facebook page and the final messages she had shared late the night before. If only I had still been awake to see them, I kept thinking. I looked through all the photographs on her page. She was a wonderful photographer. In fact, she photographed my wedding, and took all of my daughter’s professional photos from birth. She never really liked taking pictures of people, but she would make exceptions for friends and family. It was hard to believe she was gone.

Tuesday, September 13

Still in shock and saddened by my friend’s death, I was looking forward to today and my anatomy scan. I wasn’t worried, because I had just heard baby’s heartbeat on my trusty home Doppler that morning. I couldn’t wait to see my baby, and maybe even come home with a nice image of her face.

The ultrasound tech was friendly and upbeat. She pointed out all of baby’s parts and noted how much she was jumping around. At the end, she said baby was lying really low, so she wasn’t able to get a good look at everything, and told me to expect to return in a couple of weeks. She sent me home with a few pictures of baby’s hands and feet.

An hour later, in my OB’s office, I found out the truth about why she didn’t let me see her face. Anencephaly. Incompatible with life. Those were my doctor’s words. Devastated is an understatement. The OB had me call my husband to deliver the bad news to him, too. She told us both that while she wanted us to see a specialist for confirmation (an MFM, or doctor of maternal fetal medicine), she was confident of the diagnosis. The condition is fatal. She will not survive.

We went home in tears, and I spent the rest of the day and night crying and telling my baby that I was sorry, so sorry that my body had failed her. I told her that I loved her with all my heart and soul, and that the universe was a son of a bitch, and that we didn’t deserve this horrible situation. I told her how much she was wanted, about all the things we had planned as a family. I cried until my head pounded, and then I cried even more when I realized that there was no longer a reason for me to avoid taking Advil.

Thursday, September 15

My husband and I left our toddler with my mom at 6:00 am to make the 3 hour drive to the MFM. Before the ultrasound, I found myself hoping, even praying, that my baby wouldn’t have a heartbeat. I already knew the outcome would not be good, that we wouldn’t be bringing this baby home. But as long as she had a heartbeat, the laws in my state would limit our options moving forward. So, I hoped for no heartbeat, something I never dreamed I would ever do.

The doctor confirmed the original diagnosis, adding that it was pretty much the worst type of neural tube defect possible. He said she didn’t have a brain, just a the stem, which was why she still had a heartbeat. Her body was developing normally, but her skull above the chin was missing. No nose, no eyes. No brain. But a perfect little body. And a strong heart. He went on to explain that this was “just a fluke.” My MTHFR mutation did not play a role, he said. I was already taking a high dose of folic acid, which was actually more than he would have recommended for someone like me, who had already had a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. I did everything right. And we still got fucked.

Though we were expecting bad news, I broke down again. It didn’t matter that I barely heard what the doctor said about our options going forward. I already knew. Our options were: 1) Terminate the pregnancy through induction or D&E. 2) Carry on with the pregnancy, and maybe she would pass away at some point before full term, or maybe we would make it to full term, but she wasn’t going to survive longer than a few hours.

Not such great options.

But I knew right away that I simply could not continue with the pregnancy. For some, it’s the right choice to carry to term. But not for me. Not for my family.

We chose termination through D&E, for which we would have to go out of state. A nurse put us in touch with Planned Parenthood, and we made an appointment for next week. It would mean two days and two nights away from home, away from our toddler. But it would also mean closure.

Friday, September 16

Today I’m feeling… Conflicted. I’m at peace with my decision, but I’m still torn between wanting my baby and wanting to no longer be pregnant. When you’re talking about a child who has already been born, you obviously want as much time with them as possible, right? But when you’re pregnant with a baby you know will not survive, it’s difficult to imagine how you can go on with the pregnancy with that knowledge. How do you go on with life? How do you go to work? How do you get up every day, shower, do chores? How do you look at your growing belly and not break down? How do you cope with all the terrible side effects that pregnancy brings, knowing that it’s all for nothing? Not to mention, what do you say to other people about your baby? People assume that a visibly pregnant woman is planning to bring that baby home. Or, at the very least, to expect to give birth to a live baby. They engage her in small talk about due dates and names and daycare options. What does she say to those people? How does she tell them she’s just waiting for her baby to die?

I feel horrible about it, but all I can think about is moving on, packing up my maternity clothes, boxing up the ultrasound images and few things that I purchased for the baby, and unsubscribing from all those pregnancy emails. Is there something wrong with me that I don’t want as much time as possible with her? That I don’t want to feel her moving? I’ve read so many stories about women who chose to carry to term, about how they “had beautiful moments” with their babies before they passed away. And all I can imagine are months of heartache and torture, followed by a painful (and maybe risky) labor and delivery. Only to have to say goodbye anyway.

So, one week from today we will be saying goodbye to our baby girl. I don’t know what happens after that.

Stuck

For the past month, I’ve been stuck at the same weight. That’s actually the good news. The bad news is that it’s because I’m largely out of control (again) with my eating. Obviously, I’m not as out of control as in the past, otherwise I would have gained weight. But it’s still rather upsetting for me. Things were going so well, and then I started cheating a little here and there, adding in an extra snack (or two or three), or ignoring portion sizes. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

Part of it is the anxiety of my upcoming FET. It’s still more than 2 months away at this point, but I’m already on edge. My husband and I gave it the old college try during (what we thought was) our last natural cycle before I started birth control – no temping, but I did use OPKs – and of course I didn’t get pregnant. In fact, good old Aunt Flow showed up just 7 days after I ovulated. Nice, huh? The nurse had instructed me to notify her when I got my period in March, which turned out to be March 1. I assumed I would be starting birth control at that point, but the RE said I couldn’t, that I would be on it for too long before my baseline, which could cause me to become too suppressed.

So, we technically have one more try to make a baby the good old fashioned way. But I don’t want another try. It’s too stressful. Besides, my LP is pretty much nonexistent at a whopping 7 days, so even if one of my lazy ovaries released an egg, and even if that egg were half decent, and even if that egg managed to navigate through my mangled Fallopian tube and meet up for a party with the hubs’s sperm, and even if the two combined in a chromosomally normal fashion, it wouldn’t stand much of a chance in my stupid, trigger happy uterus. But then I feel guilty for not wanting to try, because I know some couples would kill for the chance. And, hey, who wouldn’t love to save $6,000? Sigh.

I suppose I should just stay focused on my weight loss journey. That, at least, is a much more realistic goal. I just have to get myself unstuck.

20 Pounds Gone

Starting weight:  236      

Current weight:  216      

Weight loss so far:  20

Things that weigh 20 pounds: a car tire, a fat cat, 2 bags of sugar, 4 chihuahuas weight

Lately, my weight loss program hasn’t been easy. I’m an emotional eater, and lately, my emotions have been getting the better of me. Our upcoming FET, our empty savings account after paying for our upcoming FET, a toddler who hates to sleep and doesn’t want to quit breastfeeding, an increasingly demanding job, a decrease in “me time.”

I’ve been able to maintain a steady loss, despite falling off the wagon on a regular basis for the last month. I’m glad for that, but I’m disturbed by how often I “cheat” on my program, as that’s really the goal here – to reduce my emotional eating and make better choices more often. I need to restart and refocus in order to get back on track. In a few days, when I meet with my coach again, I’m going to ask about making a few changes to my meal plan. I think maybe it’s too restrictive, leaving me wanting and vulnerable to cravings.

Overall, I feel pretty awesome! I’m proud of myself. I’m more comfortable in my own body. My clothes fit better. My wedding ring fits again for the first time in 2 years! I have a long way to go in terms of dealing with stress and food, but I’ve accepted that it’s going to be a struggle for the rest of my life. If I can make good, non-emotional choices most of the time, I would consider that a triumph!

stressed-is-desserts-spelled-backwards

 

Moving Forward With FET

Butterflies in my stomach! Our upcoming FET is so much more real now. Last week, I spoke to my RE, who was just lovely and very positive about this FET working for us. We talked about breast feeding, and how I will need to completely stop before starting the estrogen, as the hormone is transmitted through breast milk. We haven’t had our calendar visit with the clinic yet, so I don’t have an exact date, but it won’t be until at least March or April. That gives me a little more time for C to self-wean, but I have serious doubts that it will happen that way.

I’ll have to repeat the saline sonogram (which hurt like a motherfucker the last time), and have some basic blood work done. The protocol is simple: Birth control for a few weeks to time it to the schedule, estrogen to plump my lining, then progesterone (Crinone).

We have 3 embryos in storage. They will thaw one at a time, because we’re doing a single transfer this time. Last time, we were okay with the idea of twins, but this time… not so much. For one, I can hardly imagine what it would be like with ONE newborn and a toddler. In addition, I’m pushing 40, and I just don’t want a risky(er) pregnancy. I realize it’s possible that I could end up with twins from transferring one embryo – if that happens, we’ll deal with it – but I’m just not interested in tempting the fates. Considering the fact that both embryos implanted the last time… well…

The hardest part will be the cost. Our infertility benefits were exhausted with our fresh IVF cycle, so we have to pay 100% out of pocket this time. We’ve been saving for it, so it won’t be a huge burden. But if it fails the first time, I’m not sure how we will pay for another try. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but I can’t help but think that we used up all of our luck getting pregnant on our first fresh cycle. Is it possible to get that lucky a second a time?

819d6303a1dfff98c757253030470e57

 

The Old Green-Eyed Monster Returns

Damn. I was really hoping to avoid it this time. I thought there was a good chance, too, since I have my swee20523193968_7d332bd912_zt rainbow baby to keep me busy. But, here it is: Jealousy.

I’m jealous of pregnant women, specifically those who already have one or more kids. It doesn’t matter if they also suffered from loss or infertility. I want what they have, and I want it now. I realize I sound like a bratty child, but that’s how I feel.

I don’t even have a right to be jealous, really. I only JUST had my first postpartum period a couple weeks ago, so we haven’t even started trying yet. But already I’m dreaming of a sibling for C. He (or she) is already a part of our family in my mind and in my heart, so the longer it takes for him to get here, the more I miss him. Yeah, I know, he doesn’t even exist yet. But I think many of you will understand this feeling.

Of course, on the other hand, my fear is that he isn’t out there waiting to join us, that the picture in my mind was never meant to be. Part of me wishes my heart could just remain neutral on the subject: If more kids are in the cards, great, but if not, no big deal. Alas, that’s not the case.

For now, I wrestle with jealousy, and try to remind myself every day of the blessing that is my daughter.

That One Time I Was on a Podcast

I mentioned in my last post that I was interviewed for a podcast called “Beat Infertility.” In that post, I shared my thoughts on what it means to “beat” infertility. Well, you can now listen to my episode hereor through whatever podcast listening app you prefer – just search for Beat Infertility; my story is episode 8.

While you’re there, check out the other episodes, too. The personal stories are wonderful – it’s like an infertility blog come to life. You’ll also find bonus episodes on different topics like endometriosis, PCOS, and strengthening your relationships while going through infertility, all packed with great information from experts.

Hope you enjoy!

08: Endometriosis & Ovarian Cysts