Double Bagging It.

I need to write about my boobs.  My body is playing tricks on me and it’s driving me mad.

Since our failed cycle of IVF, we have officially stopped trying to conceive. Because we’ve had so many losses, it’s not really safe to try on our own (without medication).  I’m not ready to risk another loss at this time.  Never say never, but right now we’re not trying.  I’m trying to focus on our adoption and just hoping it goes through quickly.

By “not trying” I don’t mean that I’m on the pill, we’re not using birth control at all (it seems WAY too counter intuitive), to put it politely, we’re using the “withdrawal method”.  I know this isn’t 100% but that’s a risk we are willing to take.

Today is the eleventh day of symptoms.  My boobs have been SO swollen and sore.  Seriously, I’ve been wearing TWO BRAS (or as I put it on twitter, “double bagging it”)!  I have acne on my cheeks.  I’m tired, nauseous and grumpy.  These are all symptoms that I’ve had in my previous pregnancies.  These are symptoms I was hoping for during my IVF cycle.

I’m trying not to worry too much about it (yeah right). I’m doing my best to stay away from Dr. Google.   The chances of a pregnancy are so very slim. It’s just so frustrating  and physically uncomfortable. Maybe this is the proof I needed that my body needed a rest.  In the past couple of years I have been pregnant three times, done several medicated cycles, done an IUI and IVF. I’m sure my hormones are a mess.

I’m hoping that time will allow my body to go back to normal.  Constant pregnancy symptoms are making it really hard for me to stop thinking about trying to conceive.  It also makes it hard to put all I have been through into the past.  Let’s hope I can feel “normal” again soon…at least physically.

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Anniversary of a due date

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the due date of my third pregnancy.  My baby would be turning one.  My good friend was so excited when my doctor told me the date because it is also her son’s birthday.  This is the baby that I carried at my wedding. This is the one my doctor was so sure of.  My hCH levels were so high she originally speculated that it was twins.  This was the third time I was pregnant.  It was the second heartbeat that I got to hear. We got to keep a print out of the ultrasound.  I cried for joy.  I was so sure that three times would be a charm.  This was also the LAST time I was pregnant.  Since this third loss I haven’t even been able to conceive – not with monitoring, medication, IUI or IVF.

Due dates have been hard on me.  This time it isn’t AS bad.  Maybe I’m finally starting to get numb to it.  I’ll never be able to get those dates out of my head.  March 14, June 26, January 18.  These days will always represent what was lost and what could have been.  All I can hope for is that every year it hurts a little less.

A Week of Tears

So many tears this week.  All for different reasons.  Here is my pity party list – I need to get it out of my system!

1. Tears of Joy Quickly Turn Into Grieving the Loss of Having Biological Children

I learned recently that the younger brother of a former student (and now family friend) has been diagnosed with a form of Leukemia.  It broke my heart to learn this and a community of support has been created for the little fella.  The boy needs a bone marrow transplant and last week they found a match!  Even more exciting is that the match is his older brother (my former student).  I was so relieved that I cried.  Then I cried some more.  Then I cried because I realized that through adoption I’ll very likely only have one child (if I’m lucky enough to even get one).  No sibling for support and definitely no genetic match.  I know this is such a stretch, but for some reason this is where my mind went.  I guess that’s just a symptom of living with infertility and pregnancy loss.  I never know what’s going to set me off.

2. The Birthday Party

On Saturday night the plan was to go out with a group of friends for a friend’s birthday drinks. Most of these friends are single gay men. It’s safe to say that a typical night out with these guys means freedom from the world of babies and family life.  I put on a cute dress, loaded on the mascara (something I don’t do when potential crying is on the schedule) and headed out with my hubbie to meet them.  We got to the restaurant and ordered the first round of drinks. A few sips in, my evening changed.  My friend and her husband came in with their 7 week old baby.  I think I broke some kind of world record for fastest downing of a dirty martini.  It took everything in my power not to cry or run away.  Instead I went pale and started to shake.  My friend was very kind and carful when she saw me. I’m lucky for that.  She suffered a significant loss a year ago and understands my pain.  She parked the baby at the other end of the table with her husband and talked to me about non baby stuff.  I thank her for that.  It was still hard though.  There was a lot of baby talk. “She has your hair”, “she has your eyes” (more grieving of my bio child – these comments sting). There was at the table breastfeeding (something else to let go of). There was “you look so amazing, I can’t believe you had a baby 7 weeks ago” (I’m still so bloated that I  look like I’m pregnant). It was a rough night and my only escape was to drink too much.  Thanks to all the drinks, Sunday was a rough day too!

3. Seriously????? It’s MY turn!!!! 

While nursing a hangover (something I haven’t experienced for YEARS), I got a message from my aunt.  My younger cousin is pregnant again.  All pregnancy announcements are painful right now (and maybe forever), but this one hurt even worse.  My cousin (who I used to be very close with) was pregnant with her first when I was pregnant the first time.  Our babies would have been a few months apart.  I still have a little onesie that she gave me in a box in the basement.  We were so excited to be having babies together.   I lost my baby the weekend of her shower.  Ouch.  Hearing that she is pregnant again only added to my “what if” list.  Would I be having my second baby now? Would we be starting the adoption process for our second?   What makes it worse (for her and me) is that she’s not even with her husband anymore. He’s returned , on her request after years of fighting to his country of origin and isn’t expected to return. This just goes back to the stork distribution problem. Why can’t I have a baby when I’m SO ready while other people can get pregnant when it’s unplanned and not the right time in their lives? I no the answer is “there’s no reason”.  It still stings though.  When I got the news I cried.  No, I sobbed.  I went up to my bed and sobbed for hours. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t be consoled.  This news coming the day after seeing another baby was too much for me.  I was mourning my first baby all over again. It all came right back up the front. All the pain, all of the losses, all of the disappointments.  I’m sure I cried because I needed to.  I’m so tired of crying. When will this hurt less?

A Look Back and a Plan for the New Year

The last few years have been very difficult. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Mother’s Day even Halloween always remind me of all that I have lost.  For years now I have suffered through “the worst Christmas ever”, only to have it trumped the following year.  On New Year’s Eves I have put the pain of the previous year behind  looking forward to a “fresh start” only to face another difficult series of events.

Christmas was hard.  It’s impossible not to think about what might have been, what Christmas in my home SHOULD be like, the celebrations that are happening  in the homes of my friends and their new families and where we could have gone on vacation if we hadn’t have spent our money on a failed IVF.  I got through it.  There were tears, arguments with my husband and loneliness but I got through it.

I got through New Year’s Eve too.  I thought a lot about last year’s New Year’s Eve reflection.   I knew last year that 2013 wasn’t going to be a good one.  I wasn’t being pessimistic, I was being realistic.  This year is a little different.  This year there is actually a chance.   Not a guarantee, but at least a chance.

My husband and I were approved for adoption over a year ago.  The original estimated wait time was 18 months.  The numbers have gone up and down since then, but it does mean that REALISTICALLY, we could be matched with our child this year.

As frustrating as the fertility treatment fails were, I’m glad that I did them.  I can say with confidence that I tried “all the ways“.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not mourning the loss of that potential biological child, but it does mean that I need to shift my focus towards the adoption.

Unlike fertility treatments, focusing on adoption alone feels much less productive.  There are no calendars or early morning appointments.  I had to consider what “focusing on adoption” meant to me.    I think it’s going to mean the following:

  • getting into shape to prepare to run after a potentially terrified running toddler (I’ve heard stories about this from other adoptive parents)
  • taking care of myself, continuing acupuncture and mourning my losses so that I’m ready to be a happy parent
  • continuing and possibly increasing my involvement with the adoption agency. ( I currently write for the newsletter)
  • saving money so if I get my referral the trip to Vietnam and time off work won’t put me into enormous debt.

That’s a start. If the adoption doesn’t go through this year, none of those actions will be a waste. They’re all positive things.

My husband wants me to start considering that our life may not include children.  I’m not ready to think about that.  For now I have to assume that I will have a child. I just “can’t choose when“.

 

 

Prepping (grumbly tummy and sobbing at acupuncture)

I have an appointment to set up my IVF protocol on October 4th.  In keeping with my summer resolution, I’m doing all I can to prepare.  I’m working on getting healthy and I’ve started going to acupuncture.  All a part of feeling “productive” I guess.

I have friends that have gone through IVF (some successful).  Several of them went on a “fertility diet” to prepare for the procedure.  No dairy, no soy, no wheat, no sugar, no alcohol, no caffeine.

The alcohol and caffeine are the easiest to cut it out.  I feel like I’ve been pregnant so often in the last couple of years that these have been cut out most of the time.  Dairy, soy, wheat and sugar…that’s another story!  I love bread. I love bread with cheese on it!

I’m not going to go 100% on the fertility diet.  I think that would be setting myself up for failure.  I also think it would take away from some of the joys I do experience in my life. My husband works long hours (this month he’s on nights and we don’t even cross paths until the weekend).  Our time together is important.  We like to go out to restaurants. Cutting out all of those foods all the time would mean cutting out the restaurants (or at least the good ones).  I have to find the balance, so I’m cutting those things out Monday to Friday and doing my best to cut down on the weekends.  Did I mention I’m also a vegetarian and my kitchen is under construction?? It hasn’t been easy, but I’m managing (grumble grumble).

My favourite part of preparing has been the acupuncture.  This is something I have always wanted to try. The only thing that held me back was the expense. It’s still expensive, but considering the cost of IVF I want to do everything that will work in my favour.

The Naturopath that I’m seeing does a combination of acupuncture and CranioSacral therapy. I didn’t even know what CranioSacral therapy was before I started and admittedly I was kind of a sceptic.

On my first visit, after a full medical check up, the doctor placed the acupuncture needles in me.  For the CranioSacral therapy, she told me that she’d be placing her hands on parts of my body.  At first I didn’t feel anything beyond good old fashioned relaxation.  She held my feet, she held my legs, she held my arms.  Then she placed her hands on my hips.  I was instantly overcome with sadness.  A knot formed in my throat, tears rushed down my face. It took everything in my power not to full-out sob.  Next, she placed her hands on my shoulders, back to relaxation. The tears were gone. Then she placed her hands under my head, lifting and supporting it  – the sobbing started right back up.  To clarify – I’ve had my head held before, I get my hair washed at the salon – this was different, I can’t even explain it.  When it was over I felt that a huge weight had been lifted.  I feel like I should have done this ages ago especially after the losses.  This might be exactly what I needed to help me let go.

I have gone back once more since the first visit and had a very similar reaction.  Relaxed most of the time and this time the tears started when she held my pelvis.  It’s no coincidence that these areas are what are bring the sadness forward. Time for me to heal.

Boot Camp Baby Bomb

Last year, around this time, I signed up for a boot camp with a friend.  It was in the time just before I got into the fertility clinic. Another little window for exercise.  I stopped the class when we started to “try”. There was no way I was going to lose another baby.  I know that exercising is very likely NOT the reason that I lost my babies, but in the back of my head there is always the wonder and blame.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have gone swimming”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have done those push ups”

“Maybe, maybe, maybe….”

To take the class in the first place, I of course had to fill out the medical questionnaire.

  • Recent Surgery? Yes, two D&Cs
  • Medication? (insert long list of fertility drugs here)
  • Recent Weight Gain? Yes (see above)
  • Reason to want to “Get Fit”?  So that I stop looking pregnant/ So that I can get pregnant

Tonight I went back to Boot Camp.  I have a small window to “Get Fit” so it seemed like a great idea! (And I’ve already filled out the stupid form, so I won’t have to fill it out again!)

Feeling extra sporty, I rode my bike to Boot Camp. I got there a little early and was waiting outside the studio with my friend.  A woman who had been in the class with us the first time arrived and spotted me.

“It’s so great to see you!” and she gave me a big hug.

As her body pressed up against mine, I realized that for someone who’s been doing Boot Camp for a year, she hasn’t lost ANY weight.  Then I realized why her stomach was so big.  I almost threw up.

I thought I was going to be ok.  I held it together and kept eye contact with my friend.  This will pass.

Then the woman came into the class with us.  She was going to do Boot Camp.  My eyes started to well up and my friend (bless her) pulled me outside the studio right before Niagara Falls started to pour out of my face.  I tried to explain to her (whilst blubbering like a three year old and gasping for air) that it was just so hard for me to watch pregnant people working out. Especially a class like that.  Don’t they have their OWN classes to go to?  I know that it’s healthy for pregnant women to work out, but after so many losses, it’s hard to watch someone putting their pregnancies at risk right in front of me.  I’m sure it’s not even a risk. I’m sure she’s doing all of the right modifications etc., it’s just difficult for me when EVERYTHING I do is a risk. It’s difficult to watch someone who is pregnant be easy and care-free about it.  Those days are so long gone for me.

My friend was amazing.  I can’t say it enough that I have the best “team”.  I told her how important it was for me to do the class and use this time to get in shape.  She helped me build up the courage to go back in, and she even blocked my view of Ms. Pregnant the whole time.  Thanks to the support (and the blinders) I left feeling great and I will go back.  “Get Fit!’

The Other New Year’s Eve

I’ve been a very quiet blogger this summer.  I took a break from everything. I was off work.  I didn’t take any courses.  I didn’t see any doctors.  I didn’t make any decisions.

It’s been a good summer.  My husband by some miracle of timing (his industry is usually busiest in the summer) had time off as well.  We have spent a LOT of time together. We really needed it.  We needed down time.  We needed time just to “be”.

I’ll be doing some catch-up blogs to fill in those summer gaps.  My head is bursting with ideas and things that I need to write about, but it didn’t seem right to lock myself away in a room and type about sad things when I could be in a room with my hubbie getting cuddles or out enjoying the sun.

I’ve stuck to my “get healthy and exercise” plan.  I’ve lost a total of ZERO pounds, but I’m looking significantly “less pregnant” and my fitness level is back to that of a non-slug.  The “less pregnant” part is important to me.  So many people know I’m trying to have a baby so when my tummy gets to bloated I start getting those belly looks (one eyebrow up…I wonder if she’s… – nope just hormones and fat).

Labour day weekend starts tomorrow.  Right after that is back to school.  My summer of bliss is over.  For a teacher, back to school is the “other” New Year’s Eve.

This year marks the third “back to school” since my first miscarriage.  I barely made it through the first one.  My first loss was in August.  I’d had the whole year planned, I knew when I would be taking my maternity leave.  I knew when I would announce my pregnancy to the parents.  I knew which reports I would write and which ones I would pass on to the replacement teacher.  That’s the problem with teachers. We’re planners.

The second “back to school”, a few months after my third loss was also tough.  I resented being there.   I felt like I should have been off that year taking care of my baby (number one OR number two).  At the very least I should have still been pregnant with my third and planning a mid-year departure.  I never would have imagined that I would go that whole school year without even getting pregnant again.

Now I’m at the third “back to school”.  I’m not pregnant.  I haven’t been pregnant for over a year. I haven’t gotten a portfolio in the mail telling me that the adoption agency has found a match for us and that we’ll be travelling soon to pick up the squirt.

Nothing.  This is tough on a planner.

I’m also facing other back to school dread.  Two friends on staff are pregnant.  They’re not the big pregnant ready to leave any day.  They’re both just pregnant enough that I’ll be watching their bellies grow.  I’m dreading the next “batch” as well.   All of the young crew who weren’t ready to start a family yet when I first started my struggles are now happily settled in and will likely start reproducing soon.  Again, sometimes I wish I worked in construction!

So happy other new year to me.  I really hope this is my year. Sorry new crop of students, but I hope I get to leave you early this year.

(this is NOT me)

(this is NOT me)