Posts Tagged ‘infertility’

An Anniversary I’d Rather Forget

photo(4)

I’m obsessed with time. Particularly the past. On any given day I might reflect where I was a day ago, a month ago, or even a year ago. A week ago or so, February 19th, I had an anniversary, actually a double anniversary.

February 19th, 2010 (yes, that’s four years ago), my husband I officially tried to conceive our first child.

One year ago, February 19th, 2013  I lost my second pregnancy.

Yes, one year ago while I was lamenting three years of TTC, I was also losing another baby and losing my mind in the parking lot of the ob-gyn’s office.

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said already about the four years of trying to conceive. I guess that term may not even be accurate anymore considering we did conceive at the 2 1/2 year mark.  Maybe I should call it when we first started trying to conceive a healthy baby.

I’ve been thinking about miscarriage number two a lot lately  because this time of year reminds me of it. Like I said in a previous post, I never actually processed that loss for two reasons. One reason was because I found out I was not carrying an embryo, just products of conception. Somehow this prevented me from emotionally attaching myself to the pregnancy, though I have attached myself since then.  The other reason was because I actually feared for my life.

At that time one year ago, I blew things out of proportion. I know that now. But one year ago, I expected the worst and assumed the worst. On that first ob-gyn visit (where I was already bleeding anyway), the doctor suspected a molar pregnancy.  A molar pregnancy means that the egg either had no genetic material or the egg was fertilized by two sperm.

What does it mean for the pregnancy?

It means that it’s a no-go, but it means much more than that.  Follow along.

If you have this type of pregnancy, there is no question that you must have a D & C.  There is the hope that removing the pregnancy will remove all cells which may or may not be cancerous. From there, you get weekly blood tests and then monthly blood tests to make sure the pregnancy “doesn’t come back.” But, that isn’t the worst of it. A molar pregnancy has a chance of turning into choriocarcinoma which is a rare cancer of the uterus. When the doctor told me this, all I thought was that I was going to die.  It didn’t matter that the doctor said that she wasn’t certain that it was a molar pregnancy. It didn’t matter that the huge blood clot beside the pregnancy could be affecting the way the pregnancy looked.  Nothing mattered at all.

A few days later, the pregnancy no longer looked like a molar pregnancy, but the emotional damage had already taken shape.  I went from 125 pounds to 111 in a little over two weeks.  I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t function. After we were certain the pregnancy wasn’t viable (it took about two weeks) I had the D & C and the results came back normal.

Physically, I was fine afterwards but my periods were scant so I convinced myself that I was sick.  I continued to lose weight so this also convinced me that somehow the test results were inaccurate.

It was during this time that I was absolutely convinced that God hated me. What kind of God let someone lose a pregnancy right after losing the first one? What kind of God let someone feel so alone and utterly terrified? What kind of God let them feel like they could die at a moment’s notice? The months that followed were some of the darkest I’ve ever experienced.  I confided in my family, but no one truly understood what I was going through. I needed some type of help but did not have the emotional capacity to even know how or where to ask for it, something that I regret to this day.

Interestingly, choriocarcinoma has been in the news. Jen Arnold, from the Little Couple, had been trying for quite some time to get pregnant. She had adopted a son and was on her way to adopting a daughter when she got pregnant.  For the first time ever!  Sadly, she miscarried and her pregnancy turned into cancer.

My heart goes out to her. How long she must have waited to get pregnant! How she probably even gave up the idea only to discover a miracle after she had “just adopted.” I keep thinking how devastated she must have felt when the ultrasound revealed an unviable pregnancy.  But, she was strong. So, she picked herself up, had a D & C, and moved on.

Except her nightmare was only beginning! After years of personal challenges relating to her physical size, infertility, a miscarriage, and a D & C, she discovered she had a cancer relating to her miscarriage.  Essentially, she got cancer from getting pregnant.  From trying to achieve her dream.

It makes me sick that something like this can even exist in this universe.

However, Jen’s story does have a happy ending.  She is now cancer-free and has the family that she dreamed of. How this woman has so much strength, I’ll never know.

March 5th will mark 1 year since my last D & C. So, essentially, I have been miscarriage free for a year. In that year, my husband and I have been “not preventing” but not actually trying to get pregnant either. However, the time is coming soon where we will begin “trying” once more.

This terrifies me. I have to put myself back out there with all my heart. It takes a lot of faith, faith I’m not even sure I have, to try. I’ve been broken and have spent this last year just feeling safe and ok again. I’ve made some changes in my diet, started taking DHEA and other supplements, and continued acupuncture. I hope that it is enough.

It’s not easy to change my diet. Actually, it’s quite difficult and I’m a far cry from perfect. When I get emotional, I want sugar. When I get angry, I want caffeine and sugar. It pisses me off to see people around me not have to worry about their food affecting egg quality and it really, really pisses me off to see a pregnant women stuffing her face with doughnuts. Particularly, when said pregnant person sits right beside me and already has one child.

Yes, the bitterness and sadness come over me every day, but sometimes I’m really good at pushing these emotions aside. It means that I don’t connect much with a lot of people on a personal level, but that’s the price of being. Some days I want to tell the world what I’ve been through, share my story. I want to scream it to the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen, but other days it’s safer just to rest in my thoughts.

So, that’s where I am right now. Just trying to find courage and just waiting for normal. Just being.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Way to a Baby

IMG_2465

The way to a baby for me (according to my RE) is. . .

(drumroll please)

Through donor eggs!

Yep, we had our WTF appointment today and the doctor said nothing that I hadn’t figured out on my own already.

It turns out the follicles during the IVF cycle were truly empty and that her initial prediction was that I would get four eggs retrieved. Of course, I got two. She also said that my two retrieved eggs didn’t make it to the cleavage stage which indicates an egg quality issue.  Had the eggs made it past this stage and made it to transfer, she would likely recommend a second try at this with my own eggs.

She made it clear that she would indeed do a second IVF, if this is what I wanted, but predicted a similar outcome.  Taking into account my years of trying, my two losses, and this failed IVF, the egg quality just isn’t there.

I’m a little confused about my husband’s sperm issues with all of this.  Initially, the doctor felt that my 4 IUI failures were due to a lack of fertilization, but now she thinks egg quality issues were coming to play even back then.  So chances are, I’ve had poor egg quality for years now.  The higher FSH that I have now is only compounding the problem, I think.  I remember having my FSH tested over a year and a half ago and it was only 6.5 which was great, but I still had problems conceiving even then.  It just goes to show you that a good FSH does not mean good egg quality, no matter what your age.

I have to face reality. I may only be 37 (which is still a good age for a “normal” woman to have a baby), but my body thinks it is older.  Premature aging.  It’s supposed to be harder for a woman my age to get pregnant, but not this hard.

Ask any woman who wants a child. Her dream is to bear a biological child. I am no different. Not being able to bear a biological child means grieving.

But I have to be honest with myself. I’ve been grieving this loss for a very long time now. I didn’t start grieving when I failed this IVF cycle, I didn’t start when I miscarried, and I didn’t start when the IUIs didn’t work. It’s been a continuous process for years now, I guess.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t cry when she recommended donor eggs. If she had recommended this a month ago, I would have fallen apart. Maybe I’m finally at the last stage of grief–acceptance.

Like I said before, I think I’m done blaming myself. As far as I know, my egg quality could have been gone in my 20’s. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t ask for it to happen and it’s not my fault. I don’t know why it happened to me, but I know I can’t change it.  I used to be a happy person; maybe I can find my way back to it. I’ve got a lot going for me in my life and a lot to be thankful for.

I’m going to beat infertility, one way or another. My desire to be a mother hasn’t wavered. I choose to believe that God put that desire in me and that he will fulfill it somehow. It may not be in the way I choose, but I believe that it will happen.

I don’t intend to do another IVF cycle with my own eggs, but I will continue to try to conceive naturally. I did ask the RE about DHEA and she said that in some cases it has helped women and it some cases it has not. It certainly won’t hurt to try. Her recommendation is 50 mg in the morning. I will also go back to acupuncture and try changing my diet.

As for donor eggs, it is an option that we are strongly considering in the coming months. I’m not saying that it is a definite, but I’m no longer completely against it and my husband has warmed up to the idea as well. There’s still a major hurdle–money. In case you are wondering, we don’t have any. Even if we still had insurance coverage, my policy does not cover donor eggs.

So there you have it. My day. Now it’s time to clean up my house for the holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

The Road Not Taken

yellow wood

If only my fertility were as easy as choosing between two divergent roads I’d have a 50% of having my own baby and those odds sound like heaven! After three and three-quarters years, however, I’ve always ended up on the wrong road.

I was thinking today that our WTF appointment is only two days away and realized that attending it doesn’t change anything. The IVF failed–period. We can’t go back and unfail it. Though I know how it failed, I don’t really know why. The most dire question I have is why more eggs weren’t retrieved. Technically, there were more there. Lots more there! I’m assuming the estradiol levels matched what was on the ultrasound or they would have told me. I guess that is a question for Tuesday. I just hope that I’m not rushed out of the appointment before I have the chance to ask my questions. I’m making a list of questions and they better answer every one of them!

I guess the thing I fear the most is the doctor saying that I have poor eggs and don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of having my own child!

But I’m so tired of being afraid all of the time. So tired of blaming myself. So tired of the endless grief that clings to me each day. So tired of others feeling sorry for me yet at the same time desperately needing their words like a parched man needs water.

I am trying to come to terms with the idea that I may never have a biological child. I am trying to imagine myself going the donor egg or the adoption route. It’s not what I want and not what I planned, but nothing on this “journey” has been of my choosing. I close my eyes and let myself visualize these other options to the point where they don’t scare me anymore. This is progress for me.

As for donor eggs, like I said, not what I imagined for my life! But. . . I would do it for my husband so he could have his own biological child. He deserves a child. He really does. He’s the most wonderful man on Earth and doesn’t deserve the train wreck that came along with trying to have a baby with me. It’s the least I could do for him and I would do it with all my heart. I would fall in love with my husband’s child, plain and simple.

Except for the fact that he doesn’t want me to do donor eggs.

He said he wants a child that is the best of him and the best of me. . .not the best of him and some other woman. I love him for this, but at the same time I don’t think he really knows what he would be giving up. He feels that if a child can’t be conceived from both of us, he’d rather have a child that isn’t conceived from either of us, hence adoption.

I’ve only done a small amount of research on adoption, but it seems to be more expensive and just as challenging as IVF. I worry that we’d be turned down–I’m almost 38, he’s 45. Oh, and I take anti-depressants. For some reason, I think that would be held against me. Of course, I wouldn’t be on them in the first place if my life hadn’t taken a serious wrong turn in the last three years.

I feel like I sound horrible in this post. I’ve read so many posts from women who have adopted and I know that once they lay their eyes on their children, it was love at first sight and the fact that they were not biologically related became of little consequence. It’s just that I’m not there yet. I can’t visualize that joy, because my heart is so full of grief. Full of grief from the babies that I lost and the grief from this last cycle.

If it were up to me and I knew that I could only choose between those two options, I think I would go the donor egg route. But then I realize that this is just as risky as anything else.  The majority of research out there pushes donor eggs as the perfect solution for older women or those with poor egg quality but what they fail to mention is that it is not a done deal. The success rate for donor eggs is not 100%.

I need 100%.  That’s just the cold, hard truth. Odds have never been in my favor. Technically, I only had a 4% chance of having a second miscarriage, but guess what, it happened! That’s four chances in one hundred. Pretty phenomenal.

I guess I’m rambling because I’m more nervous about this appointment than I am admitting. I fear the doctor’s words, I fear that I will be blamed, I fear everything. I know what she says isn’t the final verdict on anything, but it’s just going to be hard going back there when before we had so much hope. I’m afraid of bursting into tears when I’ve tried so hard to be composed there. I always feel like I have to appear to be in control. I have no idea why.

I am not brave. I am not composed. I am not professional. I am broken, worn, and tired. I wish I could just taken whatever energy I have left and be myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Unexplained Infertility Explained

IMG_2463

Well, all the official IVF prescreening has been performed and the results have been delivered. Everything seems to be normal, except for the FSH which is borderline. The RE said that she would have liked that number to have been lower (yeah me too), but was very pleased with the antral follicle count. The higher FSH result just means that I will be started out on a higher dosage of medication. I can live with that and am trying very hard not to Google FSH 12.8 during any given moment of the day. Hopefully, I’ve gotten that out of my system and can just concentrate on the positive antral follicle count.

But then I start Googling antral follicle count only to look at the clock and realize that I’ve been Googling for 3 hours.

All the other tests are normal, though I forgot to ask for an exact number for the TSH. I assume it’s normal or the doctor would have said so otherwise  I also have no infectious diseases though there was a slight scare when one of the tests for Hepatitis B came back positive. The IVF coordinator assured me that those tests always come back false positive and that I shouldn’t freak out. Amazingly, I hardly freaked out at all, but yes, I did have a little Googlefest when I got home.

Hepatitis B is contacted through sex and blood and I logically convinced myself there was no way I could have it. Keep in mind that logic is not my strong suit. But then that little nagging voice reminded me of all the blood work I’ve had over the years. Was it possible that I got stuck with a contaminated needle? Did I have an open cut somewhere on my body when I went to the doctor? A week and a half later, the IVF coordinator called back to say that the original result was a false positive and the second test had indeed come back negative. Cue the sigh of relief just the same.

I also got the results of the mega-expensive anti-nuclear antibodies test and the Natural Killer Cells tests. Both negative. These tests aren’t routinely run for the most part, but the RE was trying to figure out the reason why it had taken me two and a half years to get pregnant and why I had four IUI failures. I’m glad that she was willing to run them because there’s a reason I haven’t gotten pregnant, even if that reason hasn’t been obvious.

Then we got the results of my husband’s semen analysis.

The test revealed that only 2% of his sperm sample was mature!

The RE believes that this is the reason for our four IUI failures and lack of success. Now, my husband has had a semen analysis before with our previous RE, but those tests only measured count, volume, shape, and mobility, not maturation and antibodies. If sperm aren’t mature, they cannot attach to and penetrate the egg (no matter how many IUIs you try). Hence, the reason for my infertility.

I have mixed feelings about this news, but it mostly sets me free. I’ve spent the last couple of years blaming myself for my lack of being able to get pregnant. I listened to my old RE whose standard answer to my questions about my lack of success was “Maybe it’s just your age.” I can’t tell you how many times he answered my questions with that response.  It left me nowhere and now that I look back, I had a gut feeling that there was something incomplete and even unprofessional about his responses.  I wasted a lot of time, money, and emotion going to him. I could go on here, say more, but I’m not. I have my answer (from someone else I should have gone to in the first place) and that’s what’s important.

The good news is that this problem is easily treatable through ICSI. As you have all heard, it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, and any of the 2% of a million sperm can do the job. It just takes a little medical assistance for those 2% to reach and penetrate the egg and that’s where the ICSI comes in. Obviously, if I had this information years ago, I would have gone straight to IVF, no matter how expensive or scary it seemed. I believe that has been the answer all along; I just didn’t want to see it. I’ve proven that I can get pregnant without IVF, but who’s to say when that would come around again with such a small percentage of mature sperm.

So for all you ladies out there with unexplained infertility, makes sure you have a doctor that will run a complete semen analysis on your husband. Ask the doctor to make sure that a significant number of the sperm are mature and antibody- free. If your husband has already had the basic semen analysis, ask your doctor to do a more comprehensive one. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Uterus and Time to Obsess

IMG_2453

 

I’m a worrier–as you know from my last post. My worrying is by nature and by the circumstances of the last several months.

One of my most recent worries has been about the state of my uterus. It carried one baby for 7 weeks and carried something that should have been a baby for about 6.

Then, there were the D & C’s.

Two within 5 months.

So, I’ve spent the last couple of months imagining the worst–scarring, adhesions, and other bad things.

But that’s not the case, because my new RE performed a saline sonogram and called my uterus beautiful!

Cue the great, big sigh of relief!

After much consideration, and if all testing comes back normal, we will proceed with an October/November IVF. This is still months away and I am both excited and nervous. I have months to obsess and worry, and true to my character, I am already doing so.

Particularly with my ovarian reserve. In April of 2012, the level was 6.5. A little over a year later it is a whooping 12.8!  How could it rise so quickly?  Did I worry all my eggs out of me? I know that fertility starts to drop off in your mid-to-late 30’s but this is ridiculous! I almost feel like it has to be a clinical error. 12.8 isn’t catastrophic; it’s borderline. Still it concerns me. But, there is good news. . .

My antral follicle count was 14 which the nurse and IVF coordinator thought was excellent, especially for someone my age.  It’s one point from ideal, but the nurse said that there are a lot of 20-somethings who don’t even have a level like that.  When I brought up the high FSH, she tried to reassure me that the good antral follicle count was what mattered most.  I just hope she’s right because this is pretty much a one-shot deal for me.

Plus, I’m wearing myself out from googling the hell out of 12.8 FSH level.

I want to spend these next several weeks in peace; visualizing the best outcome. I’m just afraid that my negative thinking will start to creep in. I want this to work. I need this to work. I really feel like my mental state can affect the outcome.

When I look back over the last couple of months, I think about my husband, the doctors, my family. Even when things were going wrong, they all stayed so positive. I’m the one who fell apart and couldn’t pick myself back up. Even when we knew that pregnancy number two was a bust, my husband, who I know was suffering as well, kept saying to me, “Don’t worry; we’ll have our baby.” He still says it. Even the ob-gyn, who knew I had been trying for years and witnessed my losses said, “A bad egg came up this time, but it’s just a matter of time before a good one comes up.”

People like this amaze me. They’ve kept me holding on even when my world was falling apart. How do they do it? How can I be like that? Is it even possible?

 

 

 

 

My Mind Jumped the Track

IMG_2530

Missing in action much?

Yep, that’s me.

My last blog post was about two and a half months ago. I never intended to go that long without blogging but I’ve done so for two reasons. Number one, I have nothing new, fascinating, or otherwise engaging going on in the baby-making department. Number two, I think I had some sort of breakdown.

I guess it was gradually building since miscarriage #2, but it hit me full force around June. Over the last couple of months, I began to lose weight. At first, I thought it was kinda cool, because hey, who doesn’t want to lose a few pounds? Then, there was more and more weight loss until my clothes barely hung to my frame. It didn’t help matters that my periods were coming sooner and were much, much lighter. I also had very light brown, sporadic, discharge-like spotting several weeks after the D & C. My ob-gyn said I was fine, but I convinced myself that she had missed something during the D & C and that I would probably start to hemorrhage soon. When those worries stopped, I convinced myself that I had had a molar pregnancy after all and that was the reason for the brown spotting. The pathology report had said I was fine, but all I could think about was the horror stories I read on Google.

Then, I replaced myself with a new worry. The reason I was losing weight and had shorter, lighter periods and spotting was because I had some type of cancer, maybe not related to the reproductive areas, but somewhere else. If I temporarily managed to convince myself that I was indeed fine, I began to worry about my loved ones. Maybe they were the ones that were sick? I spent time obsessing over them, analyzing their words and actions for anything that seemed out of the norm. Then, they cycle would repeat and I would begin to worry about myself again.

To say that I have spent many nights without sleep would be an understatement. The tears I have cried would fill an ocean. This is not living.

After waking up one morning asking myself, “Am I going to die today?” I finally took action and went to the doctor and cried my story out.

The doctor managed to convince me that all my problems were because of anxiety, depression, and grief, which is what I knew, but just needed someone to say this. The reason for the weight loss was obvious. I lost weight because I stopped eating. I stopped eating because I just didn’t have the appetite. I didn’t have an appetite because I was too worried and depressed to think about food. I was worried and depressed because I’ve been reliving everything that has happened over the last several months.

Most importantly, the doctor also convinced me that everything that has happened to me hasn’t been my fault. I told her about the chromosomal abnormalities with the miscarriages and she said, “You don’t have any control over how chromosomes line up.” I cannot tell you how much this has helped me because I’ve been blaming myself for a very long time. Blaming myself for my eggs, blaming myself for being 37, blaming myself for even trying to conceive in the first place, blaming myself for trying again after the first miscarriage. I don’t know, the whole discussion was just so. . .healing for me.

The CBC test came back normal and she prescribed antidepressants which have helped a great deal. I was on antidepressants a year or so ago, but weaned myself off them because I was afraid that they were preventing me from conceiving. It was a very hard decision to go back on them because, obviously, they are a class C drug which may or may not affect a future pregnancy.  It was also hard going back on them because I had to admit that I had a problem that I couldn’t control or couldn’t solve. In the past I’ve always managed to pull myself out of depression and manage anxiety. This time, I knew I couldn’t.

I really don’t know what happened to me mentally over the last couple of months. I call it a breakdown, but I’m not a medical professional. For all I know, a breakdown is something else entirely, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m managing my anxieties better now.  I don’t worry so much about my health, but I do worry that I might have uterine scarring from the second D & C, but that discussion is for another post. I’ve been taking care of the house, talking more to friends (yes, even those with children), and I even forced myself to hold a baby a few weeks ago.  That is major progress for someone who will go well out of her way to avoid making eye contact with an infant.

For the first time in a long time, I feel alive.

More importantly, I can give myself permission to be alive. Permission to blog. Permission to heal.

Permission to just be me.

Golden May

May

May is right around the corner and has always been one of my favorite months, mostly because of the warmer weather and blooming bushes and flowers.  When I married almost 9 years ago, I deliberately chose this month.  For me, May simply meant promise.

This year, things will be different.  May 5 is the due date for the child I lost in September.

When I found out months ago that I was pregnant (after 2 and a half years of trying) and that the baby was due in May, I thought it was a miracle and a true blessing from God.  Little did I know that my world would soon shatter.

May 5 was to be my golden day, my day when my miracle would be in my arms.  This brings to mind a poem I found several years ago:

A Golden Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I Found you and I lost you,

All on a gleaming day.

The day was filled with sunshine,

And the land was full of May.

A golden bird was singing

Its melody divine,

I found you and I loved you,

And all the world was mine.

I found you and I lost you,

All on a golden day,

But when I dream of you, dear,

It is always brimming May.

 

This sums up what I really feel.  I had my dream, but she slipped through my fingertips, leaving nothing but a memory and a mark.

I wonder if I will feel any differently after her due date passes.  Will it just be a difficult day that I must get through?  Will the days afterward bring the enormous amount of healing that I need?   Will I finally be “ok” from here on out?

I try to stay busy these days, keeping my mind and body occupied but it seems that the reminder of what I lost is everywhere I go.  I go out and about and everyone is either pregnant or carrying an infant.    Literally, they are everywhere I turn my head.

Work is particularly hard.  There are two women who are pregnant, about as far as along as I would have been, who are having their showers tomorrow.  I can’t stand it, because I know I should be right there with them.  I’m not jealous.  I just hurt and I don’t know how to make it stop.  It makes me want to run as far as I can and never look back.  If only that were possible.

Another co-worker’s wife had a shower last week and there is yet another co-worker who is newly pregnant.  I’m not particularly close to any of these women, but the sight of their bellies is just too much.  Just the other day, I was having a conversation with one of them and for some reason, she kept stroking her stomach over and over as I was talking to her.  It felt as if my throat had plunged to my stomach,

So, yeah, work sucks, but it is the only thing paying the bills.

Speaking of bills, they are unpaid.  This is the time that we would have been saving for and planning for our IVF, but we are swapped with medical bills from pregnancy failure number two which I can only refer to as our pseudo-pregnancy.  So, here we are, not saving and not planning for much of anything.

Do we try again on our own?  In an unbelievable twist of fate, I’ve gotten pregnant twice in 5 months after years of trying.  Of course, both of those pregnancies were lost.  I asked my ob-gyn about repeated loss testing and she felt as if this wouldn’t really tell us anything.  She believes that both losses were “random” chromosomal problems, unrelated to each other.  Maybe she’s right.  I just don’t know.

I want a child, but trying again frightens me.  It frightened me after my first loss as well.  There are so many things that can go wrong and so much that has to go right.  I need one healthy egg and one healthy sperm to do what they are supposed to in order to make a healthy child.

I need a miracle.  I guess we all do.