Friday, January 31, 2014

The littlest trigger

Last night I had dinner with some old friends, including a lovely woman who joyously announced she is now four months pregnant with her second.  She is my age.  She was thrilled to report that she conceived this child "very quickly" though she was girding herself for a longer fertility struggle.  Thus far all scans and blood-work show a healthy, beautiful boy. I truly breathed a sigh of relief and happiness for her. 

But the effect of this dinner felt profound on me last night as I went to bed.  When I heard the news, I smiled and cheered along with everyone else at the table.  But when I got home I felt spent, dejected.  Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who generally believe that when one person gets a benefit, something is taken away from me, or anyone else.  I am trying to look at her pregnancy as a source of hope that women my age can and do get pregnant with healthy babies.

But I have a reason for panic, and a selfish one at that.  Frankly, it is shameful.

When niblet asks why so many people have brothers and sisters, I often resort to explaining that in fact, she is not alone.  Why, there's lots of only children out there.  I am an only child after all.  Of course, this answer doesn't please her, so the only thing that ever placates her is a list of all every other only child in her universe.  My friend's son - up until yesterday - was on that list. The list is shrinking. 

When I go to bed at night, I know that I can be happy with just niblet.  I will never ever post her picture here, but I promise you, in my eyes there is nothing more beautiful on the planet than my daughter.  But mothering isn't about me, is it, it can't be.  My daughter, each and every day, asks when she can be a big sister.  "When will your egg and daddy's sperm meet?" she asks (she got that from here.)

This journey, this fucking obstacle course really, it isn't just mine, it isn't "containable" -  I wish it was.  Sure, I often feel like miscarriage and infertility have permeated my bones, my blood, every fiber of my being.  But I also got through the day knowing that I am AWESOME at internalizing things.  Seriously, I can show up to work being eaten alive by fear and depression (as I did day in and out during and after each of my losses) and still be mistaken for an entirely functional human being.

But what I am so troubled by now, is that for the first time it is hitting me that I am not the only person walking this path.  What a fucking narcissist I have been.  Sure, my husband has been holding my hand right there with me the entire time.  But now I see that I can't shield my daughter from the reality of what it means for me to be infertile.  She may not ever be a sister.  I have had to tell her as much, as gently as possible.  But as each friend who shared a commonality gets crossed off the list, how will she process the information? 

My miscarriages have often made me feel isolated.  And now I am left to wonder - what about her feelings of isolation?  The rational human in me is perfectly aware of the fact that we can only control so many of the external factors in our children's lives.  And my daughter who has two healthy parents, and four healthy grandparents, has so much love surrounding her.

But what of the things I can't control, what of her loneliness?  These are the questions of sleepless nights, my friends.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fear and fertility

I think I am working through some internal turmoil right now. 

Every now and then - at both predictable and unpredictable moments - I discover that I am a walking ball of fear and anxiety.  Acupuncture and massages be damned, I can't shake the feelings of dread. 

This weekend  - Sunday the 26th to be precise - will mark the estimated due date of my last chromosomally doomed baby.  And this morning I made the terrible mistake of taking another home pregnancy test - the stark white negative was a smack in the face.  Talk about ruining your day in a totally avoidable manner.

I turn 40 in two months, and it is really hitting me hard that I am now so much older than I was when I embarked on trying to bring a second child into our home.  And to top it off, I am now looking pretty damned infertile.  This was our 7th continuous cycle of trying to conceive since my last lost.  We can't blame any extraneous factors either.  Our timing was impeccable.  The Clomid did it's job, I definitely ovulated.  But none of that means much at my age.  I have joined the ranks of the women who desperately want to get pregnant and can't.

The other day Niblet started talking to me about how she would like to wait in the hospital waiting room with Daddy when I am having another baby.  I think she got the idea from this book which has such a waiting room scene at the end.  My heart is breaking.

My morning drive is now characterized by my recitation of affirmations:  I have a beautiful daughter.  I have a loving husband.  I have a good, stable job.  I have a lovely roof over my head.  Two living parents.  I need not feel so keenly what I lack.

And then my mind takes a more dangerous turn.  What happens if I get that elusive BFP?  Am I just kidding myself?  Can I survive another miscarriage?

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Hello.  It's been a while, hasn't it.  As of now I am 12 days post-ovulation on my first cycle using Clomid.  To my knowledge, I am not knocked up.  My period will arrive sometime in 2-4 days.  I have exactly one pregnancy test in my home, and I do not intend to use it  unless she fails to arrive.

The past week I have made a conscious effort to take a "detox" from fertility-think.  Now this is easier said than done, when you consider that a cycle is filled with items to ponder.  A sample cycle:
Day 2: Start Clomid
Day 6:  Take last Clomid
Day 8:  Start peeing on sticks, specifically, OPKs
Days 10-14: drive your husband mad with lust during your "fertility window" (do you all imagine a lush green field when you look out your window?  No?  Just me?)
Day 21:  Go to Lab for Progsterone test
Day 22:  Start identifying all kinds of real and imagined pregnancy symptoms - all a direct result of progesterone surge.
Day 23:  Is that stabby feeling in my lower abdomen implantation?  Or perhaps just that leftover cold chinese food I snarfed down while standing at the kitchen counter?
Day 24:  Take HPT and smack head for testing too early, when it is stark, stark white.
Day 28:  Wait with nose pressed to the fertility window for your period to arrive.....

Of course the above is only an example of a relatively non-monitored cycle.  Next month, when I do hopefully schedule an IUI, there will likely be lots of intimidating ultrasounds with Dr. Cuddles checking the quantity and size of the follicles hopefully bursting from my ovaries.

Speaking of my ovaries, this month's Clomid cycle produced some interesting effects.  As I said to my acupuncturist, if my ovaries were set to music, I would have heard the 1812 Overture blasting outta there.  Whoa.  Thankfully, all that follicular action wasn't for naught.  My progesterone tested 21 about 9 days after I ovulated.  A good strong number that could actually carry a pregnancy, if one ever stopped by to visit.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

If I only knew

It's really not surprising to read that women who suffer from Pregnancy Loss can be a cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  I don't think I can ever underestimate the sheer fucking terror that comes from losing a child.

For those who have to experience this multiple times, there just isn't a vocabulary for it.

The other day I was chit-chatting with a friend at work who is now 20 weeks.  She is glowing, and I am honestly, really, truly happy for her.   I actually could spot her pregnancy nearly 8 weeks ago, I just knew.  When a different acquaintance at work asked how I could spot it, I remarked as casually as possible, "oh, well, I have a lot of experience being pregnant."  And I could see the expression on her face.  She gracefully didn't press me on those words.

Despite the fact that I did a Clomid cycle and could literally fell my ovaries bursting inside of me (which is either awesome or means I am completely fucked for this cycle), I have felt as if I was living vicariously through the experiences of others this week, keenly observing and feeling the experiences of others while remaining as detached as possible from my own.  The close friend who is deep in the throes of an IVF cycle.  Another friend who is ttc and struggling. 

But then there was the picture on a babycenter board this week that stopped me in my tracks.  Posted by a mother in an "Over 35 and trying to conceive after miscarriage" group.  The picture of her tiny perfect sleeping angel, born too soon at 21 weeks.  Her cervix failed, despite an emergency cerclage. 

Readers, that post just undid me.  I can't jog the image of that baby from my mind.  The wheels in my brain can't stop spinning.  With grief for a woman I only know as a moniker online.  With terror at the prospect of suffering such a fate. 

I've remarked before that Asherman's Syndrome survivors like myself are at a high risk for incompetent cervix.  This week I had to engage in a serious conversation with my husband about what this really means, because it's a lot to plan for.

IF I can get pregnancy, and actually carry a healthy baby that can make it past the first trimester, I will need to get my cervix checked as early as 12 weeks (ordinarily, this is something doctor's won't do until 20 weeks).  If my cervix looks to be opening, then I will need a stitch placed in to hold it together.  If I get such a stitch, I could spend a great deal of my pregnancy on bed-rest.  And when they say bed-rest, they mean it.  I know many women on the AS board who spent months lying in bed with a laptop, watching the world go by around them, because moving around to pick the clothes up off their floor could launch them into pre-term labor.  I had to prepare my husband for the possibility that my employer won't let me telework and instead force me to go on unpaid leave (despite the fact that I research things for a living and most of those things are, umm, online).  We have to prepare for the possibility of a pregnancy could financially wreak total and complete havoc upon us (and I would need to go on short-term disability).

A few years back my old boss at another organization remarked that she thought bed-rest was "bullshit," her cousin was on it, and it seemed ridiculous, surely she was gaming the system in some way.  "I was on the elliptical machine the day before I gave birth," she said smugly.  Being one of those obscene pregnant women who glowed with yoga classes and hiking myself, I didn't say much in response but nod and smile.  Oh, if I only knew. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Of course there's a glitch

"Well hello!" says the woman who will not be having an IUI cycle this month.  Ahh timing.....
Long story short, we had some serious coordination issues in casa de justonemore today, including most importantly, husband's inability to get his swimmers to the far-away lab under a serious time constraint, with one hour's notice, during an icy commuting day where he used public transportation.  Not to mention, our insurance has still not authorized the procedure (though we were prepared to pay out of picket).  And the actual IUI would have been on the day of niblet's 5th birthday party. 
I am being completely honest when I say that I am ok with this development.  Here's why:
  • I dutifully took my Clomid as prescribed. 
  • My acupuncturist cleared the dusty chi from my ovaries two days ago. I shit you not, I felt like there were, well, "waves of energy" running through my uterus while I was laying in that dark room two nights ago. 
  • Husband has been, ahem, rising to the occasion as far a timing goes for a natural cycle.
  • I feel really fucking fertile right now.
Feel free to cheer along with me:  Go ovaries go!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Easy peasy.

Last night niblet engaged in what we like to call THE HARD SELL, for a baby. It was a little heart-wrenching, but thankfully, a little funny too, watching her hamming up her sad face, her pouty face, looking up at us imploringly from under her lashes.... and then baiting and switching her request for a kitten.  Sometimes I catch my breath at her expressions of loneliness, but ultimately I just know this kid will be fine.   And perhaps I will be too.

Today we chose to visit an exhibit of mummies from around the world was being featured at our local science center, with some friends and their kids.  I am going to leave aside the feelings that viewing embalmed former living humans conjure up.... but I just knew things would get a little dicey in one portion of the exhibit.  Behind one glass case were the mummified bodies of two preterm infants, one at 30 weeks gestation, one at 34 weeks, both with severe deformities.  Of course these mummies brought on lots of questions from the kiddos.  "Did the babies die?" asked Niblet.  I summoned my calm voice and explained to the children that sometimes babies are very sick and can't be treated in their mommies' bellies.  And sometimes they die.


On the IUI front, things are a go.  I finished my supa-dupa course of clomid last night.  Most women start at 50mg/day, but Doc Cuddles brought out the big guns, 100mg/day.  This is shaping up to be the "easy-peasy" IUI, to coin my child's favorite expression.  I'm not having any monitoring of my ovaries, and I'm not being given a trigger shot, because I ovulate quite regularly.  One part of me wonders if we are wasting a good shot at this by being so "shot in the dark" about it, because the clomid could potentially wreak havoc in there.  On the other hand, maybe all I need to get knocked up is a little kick-start to my ovaries.  Since the whole cycle will cost us less than $500, I refuse to dwell on it.  I am incredibly curious to see what side-effects the clomid brings on.  So far it's been limited to one headache and a little bloating. All of this just seems far too... easy.   Could I really be so lucky to have success with such limited intervention?  Of course, I've been in such a rut these long months that I forgot how easily I used to find myself pregnant with no intervention.  Easy-peasy y'all.