Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not this time

I am fairly certain that I am not pregnant this month.  Technically I am about 4 days away from my period being due, but you have to trust me on this, I'm not feeling it.  When I said this to my husband he told me he was sorry, and I could see the disappointment on his face.  I am honestly okay.

First off, based on what the REs say, I have what, a 2% chance of finding myself knocked up each month?  So while I always live with the expectation of pregnancy and miscarriage, the fact is that a BFN for a 41 year old after one cycle of "not really trying" is more normal than not.

I think I am also giving my sad little reproductive system a high five for not allow my body to fertilize and implant a crappy egg that will only result in a miscarriage.  Because to be honest, that's sort of new for me.  The theory of "superfertility" is bandied about quite a bit on the RPL boards, and there's some good rationale behind the notion that we who suffer from recurrent losses have uteri (?) that will grow just about anything.  It's not a comforting thought.

So, this is the first month in many many moons that I am all but certain that I am not pregnant.  (Can I add that if I add up all of my pregnancies, I have either been pregnant or in the process of miscarrying for roughly FIFTY WEEKS in the past three years?  Think about THAT:  A YEAR'S WORTH OF WALKING AROUND PREGNANT without ever taking home a living baby).  With the state of not being pregnant, I can to stick with my diet, and work out, and try to feel physically at peace.

You know, it would be a novel concept, if I hadn't been here roughly this time last year.

Last April I miscarried.  By July, after being given the talk of doom by some awful doctors, I said fuck it.  I drank wheat grass and downed supplements.  I practiced yoga and taught a fuck-ton of zumba classes.  I looked fit and kind of great.

And found myself pregnant with Celine in my third cycle after my miscarriage.

I would be lying if I didn't wonder, can history repeat itself?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This is your brain on sleep deprivation (and residual alcohol)

I was telling my acupuncturist this morning about how I got my drink on while away for a work conference in NYC, and I am still recovering from a two-nights ago late night that had me back in my hotel room after midnight, and left me with only 4 hours of sleep (the perils of being over 40 and throwing down like you're 32).  Anyways, I overslept this morning and had to rouse myself frantically from a particularly wackadoo mash-up of dreams.  Niblet was pregnant (?!) No wait her classmate was pregnant (?!) No wait, I was bleeding and no wait I was giving birth (?!) but then handing the baby over to the doctor to give away (?!) and then I was riding in a car with some coworkers and they were supposed to drop me off at the hair salon which they couldn't find and I was late for my appointment.  Ummm, yeah, what the fuck?

Maybe I should lay off the gin and tonics.  Especially after I ovulate.

Monday, May 18, 2015

All in my head

So I'm pretty sure I ovulated yesterday.  Here goes nothing, right?

On my drive to the office today, I did what I often do, I recited my backstory to myself?  Am I the only one who does this?  I do so, because when I do actually see new doctors, it makes life much much easier to have total recall - dates and all - of a complicated history to recite. 

At 34 I had an uneventful pregnancy that resulted in my one living child.  I went off of birth control at age 37 and waited three cycles.  In April 2012, I had just turned 38 and was pregnant, only to learn it was a partial molar pregnancy.  I had a D&C at 12 weeks, and then was told I was struck by lightening, and needed to be screened for gestational trophoblastic disease for 6 months.  During that recovery time, my period never returned and it took four months for me to convince anyone that perhaps I had Asherman's Syndrome, I was told I was stressed out with the prior events and if I relaxed my period would return.  Only after I demanded an HSG where the catheter couldn't go in because my cervix was sealed shut did anyone believe me.  In December 2012 I had the scarring removed by in-office hysteroscopy by a specialist in Boston and was told to resume trying.  The following April I was pregnant again, but lost the baby in June and had my second D&C.  It was a rare trisomy - T14 - and we were karyotyped for suspicion of carrying a balanced translocation, but it was a de novo event and we were told to try again.  I then went to a new RE and I had another hysteroscopy in November 2013, after not getting pregnant and it was discovered my scar tissue was starting to reform.  My then RE who tested my hormones, which were normal, and eventually did a few clomid cycles.  On a clomid/IUI cycle I was pregnant again in April 2014, but this was a blighted ovum.  I miscarried that one naturally.At that point I was told to attempt IVF with PGS.  I went to a clinic where this could be done but they rejected me as a patient because my FSH jacked up to 18.5.  I was told I would never get pregnant or carry a healthy baby with my own eggs and that I was entering menopause.  I did demand to be tested for MTHFR, and was almost denied because the REs believed that it has no bearing on recurrent loss.  But the test came back with a result that I was homozygous with the 677 mutation.  That was in June 2014.  One month later I was pregnant again.  This time I had morning sickness and all the sensations of a normal pregnancy.  I self-prescribed baby aspirin because of the MTHFR, and took vitamins with mthyl-folate instead of folic acid.  A panorama screen at 10 weeks indicated I was carrying a healthy baby girl.  And then at our 12 week NT scan we discovered she had a giant omphalocele containing all of her internal organs.  It was the size of her torso and doctors were very cautious and grim about her prognosis because her heart and lungs would absolutely be impacted.  We researched long and hard and after much struggle, terminated the pregnancy to spare her - and ourselves - suffering.  We were told that the MTHFR had nothing to do with her defect, even though I found NIH published papers describing a corrolation between her diagnosis which is similar to a neural tube defect and MTHFR.  I had a D&C in October 2014, and waited three cycles.  I was pregnant again in February 2015, but that pregnancy resulted in blighted ovum as well.  I had my fourth D&C.  I have had four D&Cs, one hysteroscopy in the OR and two hysteroscopies in-office.  To this day despite my age and history, I am told I am not a high risk patient for cervical incompetence, despite all of these surgeries, and that I don't need lovenox.

We are looking for time on the calendar to take a drive to see a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor with experience with RPL patients who is roughly an hour away from us, for another opinion.  About my risk-status, about MTHFR, about cervical incompetence, about everything.  Is it more than likely I will never be pregnant with a healthy baby?  Sadly yes.  But do I need to prepare for the possibility that I could be pregnant again and line my ducks in a row? Fuck yes. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Here on in, let's just try sleeping

Well, the morning started out good.  I felt my right ovary cranking.  I fit into a slim pair of pants.  So, I headed into acupuncture and she laid some needles around my ovaries to get things flowing.  And I shut my eyes and attempted to think happy thoughts, happy cozy belly thoughts....

And then suddenly as if I am in a time machine, I am back at my 12 week ultrasound with Celine.  My hand is on my little bump.  She is wiggling around the screen.  And I am brought back - in a flash - to that moment in time between joy and trauma.  She is wiggling on the screen and in moments I will learn that all of her internal organs are developing outside of her body. The doctor is looking at me with sad eyes explaining the gravity of our situation.

I opened my eyes and realized my heart was racing.  I stared up at my acupuncturist's lovely painted ceiling.  It is sky blue with clouds, just like the unused nursery in our house that has been converted into an office and repository of old furniture and junk.

I think I'm a little too damaged for visualization exercises. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Babies or Bellies

A few weeks ago while lying all needled up on the acupuncture table, I tried doing some visualization exercises that were an utter failure.  I was trying to imagine a new baby in our household and man, if the visions didn't completely fuck up the zen.

How would Niblet get on with a baby given the huge age gap?  How would Princess get on in our household with an addition?  How would we pay for childcare?  How much time off could I get?  Would Husband be able to take time off?  Would she (I tend to imagine girls because of Celine) be healthy?  Was I kidding my 41-year old self that I had the physical energy to do this?  The power of visualizing your dreams took a dark turn into stressful alley.

My acupuncturist rightly noted that I was thinking way too big.  Start small.  Imagine growing a healthy baby in my belly. Maybe imagine delivering a healthy baby and holding it.  But stop there.

I don't know if I've shared this before, but I get very emotional thinking about my pregnancy with Niblet, and not for the reasons that many people get emotional about pregnancy.  Yes, I had morning sickness, but as far as my health, well, I never looked or felt better once I entered the second trimester.  I look back with nostalgia at those days and regret not getting professional photos taken.  Because I was as close to a pregnancy model as a 5 foot 1 chick could get.  My bump was adorable and firmly in my middle.  My ankles never swelled.  In all honesty I looked amazing.  When husband told me I looked hot pregnant, I could truly wrap my brain around it (well, except those last few weeks when I morphed into a beached whale).  My cravings were all healthy - aside from plowing through carbo-rific giant servings of fettucine with marinara sauce - I mainlined peaches and nectarines and never developed gestational diabetes.  I took long walks and weekly yoga classes.  I gained a total of 30 pounds from start to finish. 

I have been slightly, unhealthily obsessed with bump pictures lately on babycenter.  I stalked a thread on one of my boards that showed survivors of loss proudly holding their bellies.  Today I was watching PBFAW rubbing her belly in a staff meeting, and I had to stop myself from wistfully staring at her.  She's about 18 weeks, and I would be roughly 17 weeks had I not recently miscarried. 

We said goodbye to Celine just shy of 14 weeks.  I was just beginning to develop a bump and even panicked that I was showing to the outside world.

Maybe a growing belly is my starting point when I attempt to visualize achieving what appears to be the impossible.  Hell, taking care of a baby (!) is understandably a fear-inducing image for anyone in the best of circumstances.  But trying to imagine my body doing something that it did once before, grow another Nibble, well, that seems in the realm of miraculous possibility.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hanging on on Mother's Day

It's a tough, loaded Hallmark Holiday, isn't it?  My miracle child keeps me sane.  What of the women who are childless?  Who lost mothers?  Who lost babies?  Who lost grown children?  Who are estranged from their own mothers?  The list goes on and on, and much the way "Christmas Cheer" makes many a poor soul want to jump out of the nearest window (or huddle with a bottle of scotch), Mother's Day is a gauntlet for so. many. women.  And don't even get me started on the way we gush about mommas in the U.S. of A. from one side of our mouths, while most mothers are denied paid maternity leave in order to, you know, actually nurture their babies.  (I think John Oliver said it best:  We love you Mom, "Now get the fuck back to work!".....Yeah, best not to get me started).

In our house, we have tended to keep things low key the past few years.  As a foodie I will assure you it's the worst day to eat out at restaurants.  Niblet and husband made me beautiful cards, and brought me flowers.  Most importantly they let me sleep late, enjoying a trashy romance novel whilst drinking the coffee they brought me in bed.  What more could a momma want? 

Other than that we spent the day.... weeding.  Yeah, not a glamorous day at the spa by any means, but just trust me when I say that my front yard  - which was completely covered in weeds - was starting to bring down the property values of our neighborhood.  Have I ever mentioned that Niblet's miraculous existence is also key to preventing my household to being a complete and total neighborhood embarrassment?  Speaking of gardening, I sent my own beautiful momma  - who is more inclined to handcrafted jewelry than Tiffany - some pretty earrings I found on etsy that reminded me of a spring garden....

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let go

My Mom and I were talking about my period, as we often do because this is me.  Yes, it's a little dose of good news that I got one and that I don't have to include "scheduling a flight to Boston" in my daily planner.

My Mom is also  - surprisingly - fundamentally optimistic about my ability to bring a healthy baby into this world.  Now I've talked at length about holding onto shreds of hope, yada, yada, yada, but this is a bit different.  You see, based on our conversations, my Mom seems to believe at her core that I can realistically give birth to a healthy sibling for Niblet.  Despite everything. 

Shocking right?

When I peruse the Over 40 TTC boards, there's a whole lot of gloom about the lack of family support for a woman's wish to take care of a newborn over 40.  Lots of women describe mothers who are disparaging and cruel, and who ultimately just hide their deepest hearts' desires from their families.  I recognize that I am lucky to be free of such baggage.

Y'all know I am actively focusing on my physical health right now.  I am down a few pounds.  I taught a kick-ass zumba class last night.  I am really watching what I eat, and much more specifically, how I snack.  (Long story short, the devil is in the details, and snacks are the devil and man, snacks will cause you much grief when you're trying on a pair of slim cut pants).

I've also informed the husband that we're back in business in about 8 days.  Yeah, that's right, I expect to be ovulating sometime next week.  "Not trying not preventing" is a bit of a stretch for a middle-aged couple that will plan to enjoy sexy times during a specific timeframe.  But seeing as I'm not peeing on ovulation sticks, let alone monitoring my ovaries, for now, this is going to be the limit of our getting back on the ttc horse.

For my money, I'm looking at the coming months more in the mind frame of "just showing up on time."  What does that mean?  For one,  I will continue to listen to my ovaries when they are twingling with the message that I am fertile (as they always have, quite clearly).  I will also continue to take my vitamins and supplements, they're good for me right?   Finally, I will continue to tackle three years worth of pregnancy weight and then some (11 pounds to go!) - to look  better and feel better.

All of this is to say that I am trying to find the right recipe, the right balance, for how you approach your deepest hearts' desire in a way that won't render you a sobbing basket case driving to work when your period arrives the following month.  I keenly understand that for my sanity, I have to let go.  The lower the threshold of expectation of success, the better.  Let my Mom be the one to cross her fingers and pray for a miracle.  Praying for miracles can be exhausting business when you've been let down for three years running.  By not laughing at the idea, she's proven herself up for the task.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Renewal for reals

After a few false starts I can breathe.  My period trickled in yesterday, and looks as normal today as I imagine the period of a woman who has had four D&Cs will look.  So, Yay.

Yesterday I spent a good deal of energy on some new Zumba routines that I am rolling out to some of my office-mates at a class I'm holding after work tomorrow.  We all know how toxic sedentary life is for me... Well, I've mentioned before that I work with some seriously stressed out women  - some of whom live in a dangerous public health demographic:  African-American, overweight and pre-diabetic.  My colleagues are also the kindest, most supportive group of colleagues that anyone could wish for, and that's without knowing all of the gory details of the hell and back I have emerged from.  It's sheer pleasure to try to sweat out my own issues with them while trying to get us all on a road to better health.

Between the cardio and an app on my phone to track my meals that I am finally deciding to use, I believe this is going to be the spring where I get my body back.  I don't want to own the strange puffy body of that chick who's had pregnancy hormone running through her for the past three years - take a moment to imagine:  5 first trimesters of weight gain.  I want to own the body of a former dancer who can still fit into cute clothes from H&M.