Thursday, August 28, 2014

A cure for what ails you

Hell to the yeah.  Ok, so the name isn't terribly inspiring and conjures up images of pet treats.... But how have I been stumbling through life this past week - like a very drunken sailor about on a very rocky boat -  without these?  Shout out to the universe to my acupuncturist for handing me a bag of these little wrapped bits o' goodness.

Gin Gins® Original Chewy Ginger Candy

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fu*kin' A Dolphins

These past few days I have been thinking a lot about self-care, TLC, finding peace.  Thinking about that happy place I wrote about in the month prior to this pregnancy.  Thinking about the pure bliss I felt at the beach, when I didn't have a care in the world.  And wondering if there was a way that I could at least recreate some of that sense-memory.  Because I am cranky, and anxious, and well, very very nauseous this past week.  I have a great many cares in the world, but my monkey brain won't shut down.... and the intensity of everything I am thinking and feeling will cause me to keel over.  None of this is very nurturing to either myself or the flicker in my abdomen.

So last night I set an intention as they say in yoga.  I put Niblet to bed 15 minutes early, and started to pretend to be that woman in the Calgon commerical from the 80s.  I filled a tub with warm water and lavendar bath salts.  And shut my eyes, and fucking sat in there until the water got tepid.

Then I finished my night routine of brushing, flossing and moisturizing immediately afterwards.  I got into my jammies.... and crawled into bed (mind you it is about 8:45pm about now, that's how early it is)....and turned on the soothing sounds of.... dolphins.

You read that right.  Fucking awesome dolphins.

After Niblet was born, my aunt asked what gift I could possibly use?  And my answer was the Brookstone Sound Machine.  This motherfucker would save my teary-assed, milk-laden life.  Before the package arrived in the mail I was resorting to calm Niblet down with the soothing sounds of the hairdryer. By the time this picture was taken, we had already blown out a vacuum.  Distressed babies, you see, seriously need some white noise.  To recreate the soothing sounds of their in-utero experience.  Below is an example of the lengths I would resort to to ease this kid's distress. (Note that she is swaddled within an inch of her life, and also please trust me when I say that I am not pointing a hair dryer *at* her, photo perspective is everything.  Oh, and clearly my daughter's nursery looks more Dickensian baby prison than Pottery Barn catalog, but that is a post for another day).

However, when THIS came in the mail, I no longer needed to document such disturbing images of babies juxtaposed with hairstyling apparatus.

A good friend who borrowed this little bit of magic returned it to me this weekend.  And last night, I decided to give it a whirl.  I set it on "Dolphins" (we went on a dolphin watch boat ride at the beach with some friends, a high point on our vacation), crossed my fingers to find a happy place....and completely passed out.  Cold.

So that worked.

This week I've scheduled a visit to my acupuncturist.  Next week I'll schedule a massage.  Bring on the TLC.

I am trying to find comfort in the nausea (which occasionally leads to vomiting. Huzzah.).  My OB called yesterday to talk next steps.  Another ultrasound to schedule next week.  A refill on my progesterone prescription, because, why the hell not.  "Are you feeling more confident?" she asked, "you had to feel a little better after that scan."  She also noted she was praying for me, which was sort of a nice, albeit awkward touch from a doctor I've never met but who knows that I have the uterus of doom.

No, Dr. H, I'm not quite there on confidence scale, I doubt I ever will be.  But a lavender bath and the sounds of squeaking mammals against a backdrop of gently swishing waves didn't hurt.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Familiarity breeds numb

When I was pregnant with the cancer baby, I felt "off."  Definitely pregnant, once in a while during those 11 weeks, maybe a little queasy.  But I think I've mentioned in the past, I felt a sense of doom somewhere in my gut.  I knew enough pregnant chicks in my life to know that some will feel awful morning sickness, others none, and it would vary with each pregnancy.  But it never felt *right*

The second two losses were notable for my not feeling much at all.  Little if any nausea. Maybe I had to pee a little more.  But as for my daily routine, there was little indication I was knocked up.  And my HCG peaked to only around 6,000 during one of those losses (the trisomy baby).

This go around, well, I am something of a walking stereotype.  Given my high HCG levels, this isn't surprising. I am nauseous in the morning.  I am nauseous in the middle of the night.  I threw up twice yesterday, after eating what I thought was an innocuous bowl of cereal. 

Speaking of which, can I note how fucking hard it is to find cereal - or anything in the store for that matter - these days that isn't fortified with folic acid? 

This week has been reminiscent of my first trimester with Niblet.  I crave peaches and nectarines.  I crave bland foods (huge shout out here to the Dunkin' Donuts egg and cheese wake-up wrap -sans bacon - I seem to keep those puppies down).  Right now I am boiling potatoes on the stove like the good Polish Jew my ancestral DNA has made me.  I crave water over coffee.

And all of this familiar pregnant normalcy is precisely why this will be an anxiety-ridden experience.  Or perhaps, a strangely numb experience is more accurate....Should I lose this little bean, it will be the ultimate mind-fuck.  I am just hella pregnant right now, at only about 6 weeks along, and even my Husband is noting how similar this pregnancy is to the one successful one I carried to term.  But my own personal experiences, and my years on the boards, tell me that I can't feel complacent.  I certainly would be foolish to start imagining the future.  There will no thinking about decorating a nursery or baby names for me, not for some time.  Pregnancies can and do end in the blink of the eye.  Maybe not for most women.  But I am unfortunately in a sad little sisterhood that trusts in the cozy security blanket low expectations.  I keep hearing the ominous words of REs, telling me that my only chances for successfully carrying a healthy baby were with donated eggs of a much younger woman.  Nope, those words don't serve to stave off the anxiety.

However, the rational author of this blog understands that those REs are often selling women the fear that they will fail to ever carry natural pregnancy. The hefty price-tag of a donor egg cycle stands in stark relief to the price of vitamins and supplements.  High-tech reproduction is their bread and butter after all....Butter.  That's right.  I have to go soften some for the giant bowl of potatoes I am about to snarf down.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Today is a new day"

Words of my husband before our appointment.  He also says he could see my legs shaking under the blanket on the ultrasound table. 

We were hoping to see a gestational sac in my uterus, maybe a yolk sac and if we were lucky with an experienced tech, maybe a fetal pole. Dr. H warned me again not to place too much merit in what I didn't see today.

Though my last menstrual period dates me at 5 weeks 3 days today, the tech is dating me at just shy of 6 weeks along.

There was a flicker.  Too small for the machine to register any accurate bpm, but visible.

I should probably start eating healthy foods again.  As a precaution.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"You're going to combust"

"You can't keep this up.  You're going to combust" - wise words spoken by my husband today, when I relayed the latest to him.

Today I reached out to Dr. G, the only molar pregnancy expert in the U.S. to get his thoughts on protocol for me.  I was informed that I would only really be out of the woods after a 10-week ultrasound to rule out another partial molar pregnancy.  Uh, ok.

Then I (finally) spoke with Dr. H, my OB.  She requested that I get an ultrasound this week solely to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.  "Your HCG is strong and your progesterone is as well.  All I want to see is that there is a gestational sac in your uterus, a radiologist won't necessarily find a fetus in there so early."

"But Dr. H," I said, "didn't my HCG level raise your eyebrows?  It's awfully high."

"My eyebrows stayed in place," she responded. "Your numbers weren't the highest I have seen, there's a very wide range for HCG, it can be all over the map."


So today I gave more blood, and tomorrow husband and I will be together at an ultrasound - for the first time since Niblet's discovery at 10 weeks.  I have been going to these alone for many moons, and it is without any hyperbole at all that I say the trans-vaginal ultrasound is a terrifying and traumatizing experience for me.  I haven't had a good one in years.

But back to the title of this post.... I see that Husband is right.  There is absolutely NOTHING I can do if this pregnancy is a recurrence of a partial mole or some other rare freak of nature.  And it's not like I would be smiling all easy-peasy at the 10 week mark anyways.  Hell, if I make it past that, the pregnancy will continue to be a white-knuckle experience.  There's no getting around it.

On my drive home today from Quest Diagnostics, I put in my zumba playlist.  Amazing how a little ass-shaking music took me out of my head.  I have to find a way to recreate the happy place I found on my beach vacation, despite neither having any more vacation nor beach.  Maybe I need to order a pregnancy yoga DVD now.  Maybe I need to get a massage, or sit in a lavender bath and pretend I am in a spa.  But I have to do something other than peruse the internet for horror stories, because fuck, if I feel this anxious at only 5 weeks, I honestly won't make it to 10 with a shred of sanity.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Someone talk me off the edge

Ok, friends, I am on a goddamn cliff right now.

My first betas are in.  Exactly 5 weeks after my LMP.  21067.  Yes, you read that right, there are 5 numbers in there.

The optimistic chicks on boards who see such a number might say, wow, looks like the betas you see for multiples!  Yay!

Unfortunately I have seen super-high betas before folks.  During my first miscarriage, the partial molar pregnancy. 

Any statisticians out there who can calculate the odds of experiencing a partial molar pregnancy (1:1500), Asherman's syndrome, three consecutive miscarriages (this will happen to less than 1% of pregnant women y'all), AND then a second molar?  It is said that the odds for a repeat mole are about 1-2 in 100.

Let the true panic begin.

Fuck me.

When life throws you nails....

With little fanfare (hell, not even an actual conversation with the OB) I gave my first vials of blood for this pregnancy to the lab yesterday afternoon.  And then later that evening proceeded to completely lose it.

Of course last night I made the mistake I often do in this situation (gah, there's a fucked up word, often).  I spent way too much time on the boards, and on the interwebs.  Haven't I learned?  Shouldn't I know better?

The symptom watch.  The failing-to-find-a-symptom watch.  The fatigue - is it because I am pregnant or because living in a constant state of anxiety would exhaust anyone? 

Life's tiniest setbacks are spinning my emotions out of control.  The leak in my tire that caused me to burst into tears on Sunday afternoon.  Then yesterday, the nail discovered in that tire by the mechanic who didn't have my tire in stock.  Of course he didn't.  So today, instead of lying around the pool with Niblet enjoying the sunshine I will be driving my sagging car to the mechanic.  Because life throws nails at my tires.

And poor Niblet.  "Why are you crying Mommy?"
And poor Husband. "Why did you tell Daddy he wasn't helping you, Mommy?"

The kind-good-not-sociopathic part of me is thrilled that most women will never ever experience the living torture that is recurrent pregnancy loss.  The anxious-fraying-at-the-edges part of me hates feeling so alone.  Wallowing in the crazy.  Isolated and freakish.

I miss the beach.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Here we go again.

I am still pregnant.  I should be 5 weeks pregnant tomorrow.  On this particular go-around, I wake up feeling queasy and nauseous, and I am exhausted.

Reality is smacking me in the face now that I have returned home from days of beach vacationing.  About 5 days ago, when I was still in the 4 week arena , a pricey Clear Blue digital test informed me I was "3+ weeks pregnant" (the highest level it detects).  This presented quite the shock.  According to the instructions, this means I had the amount of HCG present in my urine to signify 3 weeks had passed since ovulation - a doctor could date my pregnancy as 5+ weeks.  Ummm, ok.  I guess this little cluster is overachieving.  As of this morning, I am still "3+ weeks" on the CB digital.

I have to request betas now. Which means I have to call a doctor.  On my acupuncturist's advice I am going to the nice OBGYN who oversaw my second loss.  We spoke on the phone a few times last year, though never met face to face.  I am hoping that the numbers are high enough by the end of the week to schedule an ultrasound.  High enough to warrant a look-see  to rule out an ectopic pregnancy.

My mind is starting to spin with the potential next steps.  The betas.  Then the weekly ultrasounds. Then more blood labs and nuchal translucency test.  IF we even make it to a heartbeat I know that there is so much more sheer awfulness that awaits that I have yet to experience. The possible chorionic villus sampling (CVS). The possible amnio if I even made it that far (the second trimester might as well be a decade from now, it is so hard to wrap my brain around).  And for anyone wondering, no, I won't proceed in a pregnancy without this invasive testing.  Not given all of the chromosomally abnormal pregnancies I have carried thus far.  I have to trust the fact that I will be seen by doctors at a large urban hospital where high-risk pregnant ladies like myself gravitate to, doctors who perform these procedures routinely, so the miscarriage risks from these procedures will be lower.  If I even make it that far.  And right now, aside from the "if" statements, I can't even bring my brain there.

Case in point: Last night I spent maybe 30 minutes obsessing about what would happen if I needed a CVS because I have a highly retroverted (tilted) uterus.  OMG, just google "CVS and tilted uterus" and you will see why one should never google this.

It's a terrible feeling, this feeling of doom that translates to numb.  I am most fucking angry at the doctors of a particular clinic who told me that it was highly unlikely that I would ever carry a healthy baby to term and planting a toxic seed of doubt in my head.  Even if it's true, it's a horrible weight to throw on a woman who still apparently gets knocked up on a regular basis.
I am angry at myself for not being able to just give up these hopes for another baby.  And then I shift that anger into a different direction, still self-inflicted, but now angry for allowing the feelings of hopelessness to creep in.

There has to be meaning to all of this.

I just need a little luck.  A little positive roll of the genetic dice.  "Healthy babies are born every day to forty-year old women," I reason to myself.  "No, not to you," a snide little voice says. The sheer whiplash between hope and doubt and fear is exhausting.

Pregnancy is a crushing weight. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

And nary an emotion in sight

Today I am 13 DPO.  My period is supposed to arrive tomorrow.  I will not be getting a period, at least not yet.

I am well aware that some women are only first getting faint lines now, and yet, will move on to wonderful healthy pregnancies without a care in the world.  I can imagine these women, perhaps waiving their sticks around with joy, grinning from ear to ear....

Such a sight has not been seen in my house, not in years.  (And wow, I have been in *this* place for years).  Now is not the time for waiving sticks with glee.

This is my 5th pregnancy.  

"Here's the latest," I say in a serious voice, as I show my husband, presenting the stick for his viewing.
"Yes," he says, stoic, with barely an emotion discernible on his face. "That is a pretty dark line this time."

We have been here.  We know how fleeting this can be. We live the Groundhog Day of lines on a stick. I am dutiful  in my regimen, taking prenatals, vitamin d, baby aspirin, and as of today - because why the hell not - progesterone pills.  I found them in the medicine cabinet from Pregnancy # 3 (or Miscarriage #2).  If this little cluster of cells fails to thrive, I will not be left with any guilt or doubts. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

And it begins

I am 10 DPO.  I still have a nice solid line when I take a HPT.  I am still pregnant.

I am also, right now, spotting.  It is brownish blood, only visible when I wipe.  I am also cramping, just a little, they are slightly dullish, washed out cramps that are smack in the middle of my uterus.  All of this of course can signify everything from normal to the specter of doom.

When you google "early pregnancy brown spotting" you will get a million hits.  Such spotting is attributable to everything from your hormones (normal), to implantation bleeding (rare but normal), to the precurser of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (specter of doom).  And this is why the internet can be a terrible thing.  For every "I spotted my whole first trimester and my beautiful little girl is sitting on my lap as I type this now" you can read there is also an "I spotted and it resulted in a miscarriage" or worse, "I spotted and it resulted in the loss of one of my tubes" anecdote.

There is a silver lining - albeit a twisted silver lining - in this development. If this turns out to be a chemical pregnancy, this would by far be the "easiest" loss I will ever endure.  No surgeries.  No protracted waiting.  I am all of three weeks pregnant, there's not a whole lot in there.  This little cluster of cells will go gentle into that good night.*  I will dutifully return to my regimen of supplements, to hopefully avoid the loss of cluster #5.

*I love me some Dylan Thomas.

Monday, August 4, 2014

To Beta or not to Beta

So, here I am, 9DPO, and still pregnant.

(A funny thing about that - a well-meaning friend who knows my tangled history said to me the yesterday, "Justonemore, how can you be pregnant if you haven't actually missed a period?"  Ahhh, to live in such a blissfully ignorant state of how early the female body can start producing HCG immediately after an egg has been fertilized.  She's clearly never bought a 50-pack of Wondfos online.  And oh, yeah, fuck you Wondfos).

Anyways, I am pregnant right now and an inevitable question arises:  Do I call a doctor to request beta labs to be drawn to track my HCG?

This question is surprisingly challenging.  First off, I am leaving for a much-anticipated BEACH VACATION this Saturday.  "Quest Diagnostics" and "BEACH VACATION" are really never words that should be conjured up in the same sentence. 

Furthermore, this week is pretty jammed packed for me work and meeting-wise, seeing as I'm all, you know, BEACH VACATION.  Running to labs for blood-draws three times would be near impossible.

To top it off, I wouldn't even know which fucking doctor to call.  Do I contact Shady Grove?  Dr B suggested I have them track a pregnancy early on with them because my hinky tube puts me at a 10% risk for ectopic.  But that sounds awful.  Like, "Hey doctors who believe that my chances of having a healthy live baby with my own eggs are nonexistent.  Why don't you track this pregnancy for me to its doom?  Because I think words of negativity are exactly what I need right now."  A call to Dr. Cuddles would produce similar results, I think, plus the whole "I am abandoning you for another practice" angle.

Then there's Dr. K with the new practice.  My appointment with her is scheduled for September 15th.  I could call them right now and beg for them to take me on as a patient earlier, but I feel like that's premature.  Because, I am what, three weeks pregnant?  If I can cram three betas in this week they won't tell me very much.  Surely they will be very very low.  And if they don't double, I will surely be very very depressed on my beach vacation.

When I return from BEACH VACATION, if I am still pregnant, I will be exactly 5 weeks pregnant.  Early enough to start betas and catch a possible ectopic if they aren't doubling, but also late enough to see SOMETHING on an ultrasound.  And I also get a little time to call Dr. K's office and try to get in earlier.  If they say no, I can always try the nice OBGYN who oversaw my second miscarriage, the rare trisomy pregnancy of 2013.

This particular BFP is throwing me for a loop as far as protocols go.  I've already been on my methyl B vitamins to address my MTHFR.  But I am also going to pre-emptively put myself on some baby aspirin to try to prevent clotting.  Lord knows, it's never been a factor in any of my other losses, but the MTHFR diagnosis has me freaked out about it.  Dr. B noted that despite the scary MTHFR mutation I carry, she wouldn't have put me on lovenox shots, and I suspect Dr. Cuddles wouldn't either, so I can't worry about the "what-if I need lovenox?" issue right now.  There are no MTHFR specialists anywhere in my area. And I'm already a "habitual aborter" in the medical world.  With three miscarriages under my belt I have to throw a little caution to the wind here.

Not to mention, this could end up a chemical pregnancy and I could get a period before the week is out.  Rendering this whole blog post moot.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Best laid plans....

Early morning conversation with Husband, who is sleeping.  Conversation rendered only slightly more absurd because I am wearing zumba pants:

Me:  So, I just peed on a Wondfo and there's a faint line I am pregnant.
Husband:  zzzzzz grumble zzzzz grumble..... Oh.
Me:  I am only 7DPO.  This is insane.  I only even tested because I felt cramping and a little nauseous.
Husband:  Cool.
Me:  Cool????
Husband:  zzzzzz

I was supposed to be on supplements for three months to try to get my crappy eggs a little more mitochondrial energy, darnit. Everything you will ever read says it takes three months to show an impact, and I have been on this particular cocktail for a little less than two.

Not to mention we really only did the deed once during my fertile time.

For someone whom most doctors have written off as statistically unlikely to ever have a baby with her own eggs, I get pregnant an awful fucking lot.

Now what?

(Update:  I peed on another stick.  The line is no longer faint.  I am completely knocked up right now).