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.

Image

Advertisements

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“.

 

 

Memory Lane

I caught myself watching one of my own memories today as if it were a movie.  The memory was so clear, I could feel it, touch it and smell it. It was a memory of a time shortly before everything went wrong.

I was almost two months pregnant.  It was my first pregnancy.  My husband and I were both glowing with excitement.  My husband was on board with starting a family but it wasn’t until I was actually pregnant that we both realized how much it really meant to him.

We were at a barbecue at a friend’s rooftop pool.  It was a beautiful warm day. The sunlight was bouncing off the water. I didn’t swim, but I put my toes in the water.  The view was amazing.  Everything felt perfect.  When our friends were all swimming, my husband and I had some time alone poolside.  We sat on a beach towel on the deck.  He looked so happy.  He was actually tearing up.  He put his hand on my belly.

“I was thinking”, he said, “that after we have this little chicken, we could adopt a sibling for that chicken”.

For him to say that meant so much to both of us.  It meant that we could have more than one child. It meant that we hadn’t abandoned the idea of adoption even though I was pregnant.  It meant  that his ideal family was based on the model of his own family.  Our life was really beginning.  We had so much to look forward to.  Both of our dreams were coming true.

It was hard for me to “watch” this memory.  This is the part of my life that I now have to file under “before”.  It seems so long ago.  I feel like we were different people. I have since lost three babies.  I have cut friends out of my lives who have had babies since.  I have watched the world move on as my world seems to stand still.  I have been living in pain. My life has revolved around fertility treatments.  Adoption has evolved from a way to grow our family to quite possibly the only way we’ll be able to grow our family.  Our sex life has been scheduled to the minute and full of the fear of a miss-timed broken pregnancies.  I miss my life.  I wish I could go back to the pool and dip my toes in the water and not worry about anything but a sunburn.

Image

Warm and fuzzy

Being a teacher, preparing for retrieval (and hopefully a transfer and a tww) has kept me very busy. I had to leave enough plans to potentially be home until the Christmas holiday- or maybe just for a week. I had to find a replacement teacher who was willing to replace me for either one week or 2 or maybe even 4…
I also had to consider explaining my absence. I have no obligation to explain my absence. If I’m gone more than a week, a standard note goes home with the students explaining that “due to medical circumstances the teacher will be absent for an undetermined amount of time”. The only problem with this note is that parents and students always jump to the conclusion that the teacher is dying!
I decided to speak to a couple of the parents, ones I know well and have taught their other children in previous years – parents who knew me and were supportive when I had to take time off for miscarriages and D&Cs.
One of these parents, who had gone through fertility treatments herself, saw me off on Thursday with a care package.
She gave me a warm pair of socks with owls on them and a magazine. This really warmed my heart. I got my socks! After convincing myself that it was silly to buy lucky IVF socks, here they were. It was an amazing gesture and a concrete example that people care and understand. I hope they work!!!!

20131119-161632.jpg

20131119-161703.jpg

20131119-161720.jpg

This is it!

then there were two

then there were two

The time is now.  My eggs have been retrieved and now I’m waiting.

The whole process so far has been exciting, exhausting and time consuming.  As soon as we decided to do IVF, I decided to do everything in my power to make it work.  That way, I’d know that I’d tried everything.

I’ve been exercising a lot.  I’ve been going to bootcamp twice a week and jogging or swimming on the other days.  I’ve changed my diet.  I’ve cut down on wheat, dairy, soy and sugar and I’ve cut out alcohol and caffeine all together.  I’ve been going to acupuncture/Cranial Sacral therapy and reflexology.   I feel good, I’ve lost weight and if nothing else, it’s given me a sense of control over this whole crazy situation.

The weeks building up to the retrieval were stressful.  They found a cyst and almost cancelled the cycle.  They decided after all to go ahead with it.  My estrogen was sky-rocketing but my follicles were growing slowly.  We were really going day by day and altering the doses of my meds.  The only way for me to get through it was step by step.  I was far from thinking about embryos and tests and transfers, I just had to focus on follicles and getting to the retrieval.

We got there! The retrieval was on Saturday (a day later than originally scheduled). It was SO painful.  They had to move around my ovaries to get to the eggs.  Ouch. The team in the OR were great though and hubby was really supportive. We were able to retrieve 14 eggs.

The numbers game has been the hardest part.  We started with 14 eggs.   From the 14 eggs, 9 were fertilized.  I thought this number was pretty good and I started to relax.  The next day I got the call that 6 embryos had survived, 3 were thriving and three were a little behind.

Today the doctor called me directly (never a good sign).  Only two embryos have survived and now I had decisions to make.

1. We send the two embryos for genetic testing (sending the embryos for testing was the original plan).  Sending only two is very risky because they don’t all survive the process.  It’s also very expensive for just two embryos.

2. We wait until day 5 to see if the other embryos grow, freeze them all and transfer at  a later date.

3. We transfer the two survivors on day 5 and skip the genetic testing.

After a good cry, I called my husband and we made our decision.  We’re going with option 3.  There are risks involved with all the options!  I’m feeling ok about skipping the testing.  The fact that so many embryos didn’t survive is maybe the answer we needed.  Maybe we just needed some good strong embryos.

I have another check up/blood and ultrasound tomorrow and if those little guys survive, we’ll be doing the transfer on Thursday.

One step at a time…