Monday, August 31, 2015


That was a false alarm.

We just took another set of images.  Apparently my breast wasn't stretched thinly enough on the initial scan, resulting in a fold that resembled a questionable mass on one of the images.  "Stretch away" I told the radiologist.

I physically feel like I am a million years old.  In the span of 72 hours, I went from thinking:

1.  Everything could be fine, this is probably a false alarm, to
2. I am going to lose my final months of ttc because I will need biopsies and scans and perhaps radiation, to
3. Maybe the universe took away my babies because somehow it knew that I would develop breast cancer, to,
4.  Am I going to die in my forties?

I am still trying to bring myself down from the stress.  My husband just divulged that he was "fucking scared out of his mind" - so I guess that even despite my PTSD (I had to visit the same hospital as two of my D&Cs, including my TFMR), I'm not alone in having my mind go to dangerous dark corners.

I want to thank anyone out there who sent me positive energy.   Every bit helps.

Onwards.  After I learn to breathe again. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

the weight of the world

Ever feel like maybe the universe IS trying to crush you?  I know that I suffer from the effects of anxiety and trauma, I get that my heart will forever race when I enter the walls of a medical office.  I have been working to accept this as my normal for some time now.

Yesterday I got a terrible call.  Fucked up in every way.  My annual mammogram screen was abnormal.

Let me back up.... I went to get this mammogram because insurance covers it (thanks ACA).  A lot of literature is out there that says if you're in your forties, you are possibly better served going every other year because of the rate of false positives.  Nevertheless, I received a couple of reminder letters in the mail.  I happened to not be pregnant.  Sure, go get it over with.

My follow-up ultrasound is monday afternoon.  Could it be a false positive?  Sure.  There's anywhere between a 45 and 60 percent false positive rate in women my age.  I have really dense breasts.  My mom does too.  We don't have a family history of early breast cancer in our family.  Due to some stuff with an estranged family member that I will leave off this blog, I did happen to be tested for BRCA.  And I am not a carrier.  My mammogram reading could look different from the baseline one I had done at 40 because, well, you know, two fucking pregnancies.  I could go in and not even need a biopsy.

On the other hand, I could be really unlucky.  Because you know, it's me.  I could actually need a biopsy and then have to wait even longer in this state of being.  Fuck, I could be walking around with goddamn cancer right now.

In any event I am sort of angry.  Unfocused.  Tense.

Angry and tense by the way does wonders for my weight.  I get beautifully slim when I get stressed out.

And then there's the baby shower I am attending in a few hours.  You read that right.  PBFAW's baby shower.  I am one of the only people from our office invited, it's sort of a special thing.

I spend hours ruminating over whether my ttc days are going to end, how they're going to end.  On what terms.  Ha.  A fucking cancer diagnosis could well be how they end.

Risk of women to experience three or more consecutive miscarriages - 1:100
Risk of women to experience a partial molar pregnancy - 1:1,500
Risk of babies to develop a giant omphalocele - 1:5,000 to 1:10,000
Risk of woman to experience all three of the above scenarios, with a side order of Asherman's Syndome:  Fuck My Life.

With all of that, I should now note that there is this:
Risk of women at 40 to be diagnosed with breast cancer -1:68.  Which I realize is just under 1.5%.

1.5% is a pretty meaningless number, catch my drift?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving on from the chair

So, I was in a rough state last week. 

PBFAW was going to take a giant rocker-glider chair out of my cramped little office. it's a chair I got when Niblet was a tiny Nibble, a jaguar of rockers, a sturdy Dutalier that even my giant husband could sit in that I found on Craigslist for $300 bucks (trust me a few years ago this was a steal).  Well, I was excited to find it a new home until I learned PBFAW wouldn't take it because her husband didn't want it.  The inability to remove this chair and what it represents in my life, along with a series of negative pregnancy tests with phantom pregnancy symptoms set me on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  Was it the uphosltery?  Fine, so this upholstery might scream grandma gingham to you.  But you know what this upholstery screams to me?  FREE CHAIR!

I was a mess.  Jittery.  Constantly on the verge of tears.  Depressed. Bleak.  Stressed about returning to work after a two week vacation.  But slowly and steadily, I moved on.  With a lot of help.

First, I met a dear friend for lunch who has been through the gates of hell and back and emerged from the ashes 21 weeks pregnant.  (She also didn't want the chair).

Then, I visited my acupuncturist.  With some needles and a little aromatherapy, I went from saying a tearful goodbye to my fertility, to believing that anything is possible.  An hour later my period came in with a bang, in a good way for an Asherman's patient.  

So today I am CD 2.  Feeling good.  Anything is possible. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Old habits die hard.

Man, hormones are a bitch.  On my ride home from a lovely beach vacation characterized by food, zumba classes to work off the food, and endless days on the sand, I felt nauseous.  I wanted to throw up.  I was 6DPO.  Fuck.  Who the hell takes a pregnancy test at 6dpo?  Anything that implants that early could be ectopic.  Who tests I ask?  THIS idiot (who bought a 50 pack of wondfos ages ago).

So I got home and tested.  And then tested again at 7, 8, 9, and 10dpo.  Today, at 11dpo I can assure you, I am not pregnant.   I am however, angry.  Angry at myself for falling back into this trap.  August was my fourth consecutive cycle of sort of trying/not trying hard to get pregnant after my last miscarriage.  Why am I so angry?  I am 41.  I went through an 8 month stretch of BFNs when I was 39.  Who knows.  Maybe this is it. Maybe I am on the fast train to infertility.  Maybe this is my wake-up call?

For all of these years I have been hesitant to put a date or time stamp to ends this madness, but maybe I need one.

OK universe, here goes:  I turn 42 in March.  I think it ends then.  Yeah, March sounds good.

Yes, there are plenty of 42 (not to mention 43 and beyond) year olds who end up knocked up with healthy babies.  Hell, I know a few of them right now, one is even 30 weeks along.

But March of 2016 will also mark the FOUR year anniversary of this madness.  My first pregnancy that ended in loss began in April of 2012.  I started ttc the month I turned 38, in March of that year.

Four years sounds like a nice clean number.  It's been a long run.  Maybe in March I will wake up and say, "No!  I need more time!"  Maybe I won't.  But right now, setting a firm end date feels healthy. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Let's not mince words

I had an abortion.

In telling Celine's story on this blog, I have avoided the word.  "We had to say goodbye."  "I spared her suffering."  "She is gone."

True as all of these statements are, I see now - so starkly- how crucial it is that I speak with unflinching honesty. 

If I lived in another state, maybe just a few states south or west... well, in my second trimester at 14 weeks pregnant, there's a good chance that I would have been sent to a Planned Parenthood clinic.  I could well have been asked to fill out a form to donate her tissue to science.  And use that form to try to find some glimmer of purpose in the hell of our experience.  Western doctors have largely failed me in my quest to control my fertility.... but western medicine diagnosed my daughter, and western medical research could potentially unlock the answers necessary to protect other babies from her fate.

My personal abortion story is marked by questions, and handwringing and agony.  The nights leading up to my decision to have an abortion were sleepless nights.  I laid awake, my head aching with unanswerable questions as tears flowed down my face.

Would she suffer?  Would she be in pain?  Would her infancy be spent on a morphine drip?  Would she survive?  If she survived, would she be able to eat?  Would she be able to breathe?  Would her heart work?  Would she need open heart surgery?  Would she ever make it home?  What if she died?  What if she died in pain?  Would we end up in medical bankruptcy? Would we lose our house?  If we couldn't pay our mortgage, where would we live?  What would Niblet's life look like?  Who would watch Niblet?  Who would help her with her homework?  How exactly does one parent their healthy child when their infant is hooked up to a NICU ventilator?  Who would pick her up from school? Would we have to move and change school districts?  Would my marriage survive?  Would my husband have to quit his job?  Would I have to quit my job?  Would Niblet have to watch her sister in pain?

The list is endless.  Just conjuring it up, takes me to a place and time that I do not like to visit often.  My heart is racing now, a vestige of PTSD.

I think I have made it abundantly clear that my decision was not made lightly. 

And yet, with a racing heart full of grief, I have no regrets. 

None.  We made the best decision we could, in the worst circumstances imaginable.  My husband and I hugged our daughter tight and silently vowed to appreciate every fucking day we get on this earth to breathe the same air as her. 

Anonymous as I am out here in the ether, I have many readers.  From around the world.  Some, in my shoes, might make the same choice I did.  Others might not.  Some might view my decision as mercy.  Others might view it as murder.  Some might breathe a sigh of relief when they realize that I have survived this nightmare, because they see that they too will survive.  Others might pray for my soul.

Without going to deep into the wonky facts (i.e., that only 3% of the work done by Planned Parenthood are abortions, and that due to the Hyde Amendment none of those abortions receive a dime of taxpayer federal funding), I think about the women who walk into those clinics for abortions.  Those women carry their own thoughts.  They may or may not have endured the sleepless nights I described.  Maybe their thoughts raced with the devastation of a poor prenatal diagnosis.  Maybe they didn't. 

It doesn't matter.  It is not for me to judge.  It is not for any of us to judge what thoughts swirl through the head of a woman who has to cross the threshold of a clinic through the shouts of protestors.  At 8 weeks.  Or 14.  Or 24.

Family planning is under attack.  Private medical decisions are under attack.  Women  - our bodies, our lives - are under attack.

My baby's name was Celine.  I thought the universe was finally granting me a pass to bring her to me after years of losses and surgeries.   But as deeply as I longed for her, I couldn't bring her into this world.  I chose to put the dice down, I just couldn't roll them on her life.  I chose my own grief instead.  I chose an abortion.

I think of her.  I miss her.  She would be nearly four months old right now.  But I have no regrets.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


My therapist was really helpful today. I went in with jumbled thoughts.  Pregnant women surrounding me.  Baby showers.  Newborn cousins.  Triggers everywhere.

I have been afraid the last few weeks, very afraid.

Afraid of waking up one day and finding myself pregnant.  And then afraid that I will dare to dream that I can actually carry a pregnancy to term, and end 40 weeks or so later, with a healthy baby in my arms.

I recently found a photo album in a photo account that I hadn't seen in years.  An album titled, "35 Weeks Pregnant."

The pictures brought tears to my eyes.  First of all, I was hot.  No seriously, I am not one to think highly of my looks (most of the time I will grant that I am cute and I clean up well).  But whoa, I was one gorgeous pregnant woman.

There aren't enough words to express how lucky I am to trudge this road with a miracle child at my side.  With that, I will confess that mourning my babies has been deeply connected to mourning my pregnancies.  Never making it to that big, beautiful 35 weeks that I carried once.  After all, since Niblet, I have never made it past 14 weeks.

And the joy I associate with my one successful pregnancy, well, this is a feeling that I will never experience again.  Because even if the stars align and the one in a million lottery winner for an AMA "habitual aborter" like myself strikes the jackpot, pregnancy can NEVER be beautiful.  Pregnancy is now sheer terror. I have to reconcile myself to that fact.  If I find myself with child, I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I am entering into a state of being that is my personal definition of hell.  Anxiety.  Fear.  And please trust me on this, it's not irrational fear.  With the number of D&Cs and surgeries I have had, even if I made through a clear genetic screen and past random birth defects, I am a prime candidate for Incompetent Cervix.

"Am I crazy?" I asked my therapist?  Am I quite literally insane to dream of myself at 35 weeks, imagining myself beautiful and glowing and ready to mother an infant again?

No, she said.  She went on to explain that my active imagination is my brain's connecting line to hope.  And maintaining hope isn't unhealthy.  Hope sustains us.

Hope gives us the ability to face another day.

Everybody Hurts

When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life, well hang on

Don't let yourself go
'Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you've had too much
Of this life, well hang on

Everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts
Don't throw your hand, oh no

Don't throw your hand
If you feel like you're alone
No, no, no, you are not alone

If you're on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you've had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries
Everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes

So hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts

REM - Writer(s): Bill Berry, Michael Stipe, Michael Mills, Peter Buck