haunted

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i’ll love you forever, i’ll like you for always, as long as i’m living, my baby you’ll be

this is my living locket. i carry my babies in this locket, as i cannot carry them safely in my broken body. so instead i keep them here, close to my heart. in every sense that i can. the 4 birthstones inside are those of my angels (December 4th, February 7th, October 30th, and April 9th) and the charm in the shape of a small boy is for amazing son. truly he is a miracle.

today is especially hard for me. and before i jump into this black hole of emotion i want to give you full permission to stop reading now. seriously. no judgement. i won’t think any less of you. in fact, i may commend you for stopping the insanity.

today i should be having a baby. we found out we were pregnant february 18th. i remember the day exactly because we had tickets to see The Book of Mormon that night, and i suddenly did not mind at all that i would be the lone sober sister in the theatre. we were pregnant. and shocked. and forced awkward smiles as we ate dinner before the show. we wished we could be like any other normal couple. elated, no, ecstatic at the news. but those couples get to bring home babies with every positive pregnancy test. we instead were terrified. it had felt like an eternity had passed since the loss of our baby the previous summer. in hindsight, though, six months of trying for a child is a drop in the bucket of the abyss of infertility. and somehow we were once again given the ultimate gift, and with trepidation and cautious optimism we buckled up for what we hoped would be a smooth ride.

there are no seat belts for this.

this ride started off bad. really, really bad.

OB/GYN: “you’re lab work says you are not, in fact, pregnant. are you bleeding yet? no? well, you should start soon. i’m sorry.”

me: i’m sorry, what? i have 16 pee sticks telling me otherwise. :::cue devastation::: they just told me i’m going to lose this baby, if i haven’t already. :::heart breaking::: how is this happening again?

(3 days later and still not bleeding)

me: i pee’d on another stick and the line is darker. shouldn’t it be lighter or gone?

OBGYN: “hmm, that’s odd. :::more lab work::: your blood test shows you ARE actually pregnant. but your numbers are really really low. are you bleeding yet? you will probably start soon.”

another knife to the heart. okay, so NOW i’m going to miscarry. let me brace myself. :::heart shattering:::  i bleed all weekend. it’s over. that’s it. i am crushed. devastated. in disbelief to find myself here, in this gut-wrenching pain yet again. how many times do i have to suffer this broken record? why is this happening again?

(5 days later i pee on a stick, hopeful it will be stark white and i can trust that my body “reset” itself.)

me: holy god. the line is the darkest it’s ever been. i call OB.

OBGYN: “that’s odd. :::more lab tests:::  well, this is strange. your numbers have really climbed. maybe we just caught this pregnancy really early. let’s follow you closely and if baby is growing appropriately we should be able to see him on ultrasound in a week or so. but there is a great chance this is going to be an ectopic pregnancy. are you bleeding yet?”

they don’t make seat belts for this. no safety net can catch you, no parachute keeps you from hitting the ground face first. i’ll save you the million details. i have spent too many hours agonizing over them, you need not be subjected to that. this ride ended with 2 visits to the ER and confirmation that just when you think it can’t get worse, it can and will. not only was my pregnancy doomed with a baby that wasn’t growing at the right rate, baby was no where to be found. until i started bleeding into my abdomen. hospitalization and surgery left me with no baby. only 1 fallopian tube. and a prescription to see the magician.

OBGYN: “the baby was in your left fallopian tube. it was damaged beyond repair. your other tube is very scarred and abnormal looking. in my opinion you may never have a successful “natural” pregnancy again.”

me: “…” (there are no words. none.)

fast forward 9 months and here i am today, thursday, 10/30/2014. my EDD. one of 4 that jump at me from the calendar each year. the calendar is your enemy when you suffer these struggles. it haunts you with reminders of what will never be. oh god, and if you and a friend happened to be pregnant at the same time? kill yourself now, for you are forced to witness the never-ending reminders of how old your baby would be, what your baby would be doing now, you name it… with every harmless Instagram pic of that sweet baby you are stabbed in the heart with reminders of what you will not experience. i once viewed this day, 10/30/2014, with anticipation, and dreamt that it would bring me joy and happiness. that this time would be different. that i had suffered enough and surely i would be rewarded. that this pregnancy would break the bad luck. instead today is unbearably hard. 7 months have passed and i am now reeling from a failed IVF cycle coming on the heels of yet another miscarriage. i call that a loss.

maybe i’m being unfair. too hard on myself. that’s what they are telling me. it’s completely out of my control. hey everyone, i know this. but knowing does nothing to lessen the pain.

instead of holding my newborn child this morning i held my living miracle in my arms and squeezed him tighter than ever before. i recognize more than ever before that these moments are fleeting. this week i told myself to try to be in the present. try to focus on little things that make me happy, and i am trying. sure, i am underachieving. i’ll freely admit that. but i am trying.

so when my miracle looks up at me and says “i wuv you sweetie mama” i am completely swept away… holding back a torrential downpour of tears i tell him how i’ll love him forever.

and you too, littlest butterfly. may my love find you in the clouds.

how do i say it

i don’t know where to begin, really.

it’s monday. 88 injections since IVF started. endless blood draws. 20 months that we have actively been trying to bring home our baby. the one our hearts have been crying for. 11 weeks since i lost our most recent baby. 9 ultrasounds. 7 months since i lost our 3rd baby to an ectopic pregnancy. 6 weeks of acupuncture. 5 weeks of being a walking pharmacy. and 3 days until a due date is here for which i have no baby to hold.

and for 3 days now i’ve been hiding a secret.

it failed.

just typing that out is a dagger to the heart. i’ve been in hiding from you until i got the official call today. i couldn’t bear the wait. i had to take a pregnancy test. i couldn’t knowingly go into this morning’s blood draw blind and unprepared. i am not strong enough to bear the crushing blow all at once. in my mind it would be easier to gradually see my hope slipping away with each negative home pregnancy test. each stark white stick would be like an additional tiny little voice saying “well, we knew there was no guarantee…” and it was easier, in hindsight. easi-ER. but by no means easy. this is the hardest thing i have ever endured. and i’ve been through some shit. i put it all out there. i put in all that i could. 200%. and i have no regrets. and yet somehow that does nothing to ease the pain of disappointment.

magician’s office called me not too long ago (NOT EVEN MAGICIAN, geez): “unfortunately your beta-HCG level is 2, confirming you did not become pregnant. go ahead and stop all your medication and we’ll follow up with you this week. did you want to speak with the doctor?”

me: :::long pause::: collect yourself. breathe. you KNEW this was coming, you are prepped for this call. breathe damnit and say something. anything. no that’s fine. i understand.

i lied. i don’t understand at all. you sit there and tell yourself “this is going to work, it HAS to!” and smile and think positive (!) and yay science. am i right? how could it NOT work. i don’t understand. all my effort, the pain, emotional investment, and incredible sacrifice at my body’s expense… has somehow evaporated into the air with the finality of that phone call, so as to leave no evidence behind. except i bear the marks. inside and out.

it failed. i failed. disappointment doesn’t do it justice. heart-wrenching devastation. crushing defeat. hollow. i feel like i need to apologize to you. i’ve brought your hopes up too and now nothing.

i failed.

so what do i do. i torture myself and relive my only successful pregnancy via photos. i pore over them, my swollen belly, i can’t remember it ever being so big. did that really happen? i mean, i know it did, but it feels like a lifetime ago. i can’t stop looking at photos from adorable son’s infancy. i look at them and wrestle with my memory. i can’t remember how he felt in my arms, so tiny. i forget how perfectly delicious he smelled. and his soft skin. you forget these things. these little tidbits that now bring tears to my eyes. i know i cherished those moments at the time, sure. but the me then didn’t ever see this coming. because had i known then what rocky road lay ahead, i would have never put him down.

i failed. oh my sweet boy, mama is so very sorry. i so badly wanted this too.

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numbers

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68.

that’s the exact number of injections i have given myself since september 28. damn. to say i feel like a pin cushion is the understatement of the year. people ask me about IVF and most often the question comes up: “do the shots really hurt?” no, silly friend, they feel amazing.  hell yes they hurt. well, that’s not entirely true. to be totally honest, the heparin shots in my belly don’t hurt. at all. they do, however, leave a fun little constellation of bruises. this week i considered injecting myself in certain spots so as to make sad faces and such. oh the things we do to pass the time. but, the progesterone shots? well that my friends is a whole other beast.  see that needle? it’s 1 1/2 inches long. the WHOLE thing dives into a muscle in my butt. every. damn. day. i want to cry just writing that. oh and let me mention the progesterone is in OIL. so it takes like 3 minutes to push the whole dosage into the muscle, it’s incredibly viscous. 180 seconds with a giant steel pipe sticking out of your ass. it feels amazing. said no one ever. it hurts to sit. or lay down. or stand. i no longer have 2 butt cheeks. they have been replaced with lumpy-pillow-like extensions of what used to be cheeks, in various stages of healing bruises. so sad. oh and that diagram of where to stick the needle? hilarious. no one’s butt looks like that. if they really want to be transparent, they should replace it with a pic of what your butt will look like post-injections. on second thought, maybe not... i think no woman would go through with it.

but this isn’t the pain olympics. not today. i’m not here to whine all over this blog. trust me, i could easily do that. today is about numbers.

7dp3dt

what the heck does that mean. today i am 7 days post 3 day transfer. it’s been a week since magician placed my 3 day old babies back into Ute-opia. and for 7 loooooong days i have been STARING at the clock, wishing it to move faster. it’s killing me. it is too early to know for sure if i am pregnant, because if i took a home pregnancy test there is still a chance it would give me a false positive,. how is that possible you ask?  because the trigger shot could still be floating around in my system, jacking up my hopes, just waiting to bring them crashing down. remember the trigger shot (which i gave myself on 10/8) is MADE of the same hormone that home pregnancy tests detect. hey science, that really sucks. magician makes you inject yourself with the “baby hormone” and then tells you “sure, go ahead and pee on that stick. do you see two lines there? yeah, sorry, that’s not a true pregnancy result. keep waiting.” what the hell. 

7

that’s how many more days it will be until i have my blood draw to see if the magic happened. NEXT monday. THAT is how long magician wants to wait to ensure trigger shot is completely gone. he is crazy. who can wait that long. i sure as hell can’t.

12dpt

today i am 12 days past trigger shot. Dr. Google cautions that the trigger can stay in your system on average 10 days. but of course there are some women who are lucky to have it float around their system for 14 days. i am sure i will be that lucky gal. oh Dr. Google. you are a bad bad person. why must you let me spend hours poring over pictures of other women’s pee sticks, analyzing them for darkness of test lines. why must you allow me to read these stories where women are getting legit big fat positive (BFPs) pregnancy tests on 6dp3dt. it’s going to drive me crazy. why why why. put away the computer.

this morning, and every morning, i woke up and reached over to my nightstand to look at that photo of my three. the photo of hopes and dreams. and like every morning before this one, i took a deep breath and said a prayer for a miracle. that this worked. and also that time would hurry the f*ck up already. i am DYING to know.

Posted in IVF

three

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go ahead. blink.

yup.

they are still there.

all THREE of them.

my off-Broadway act.

they are now kicking back with a beer in Ute-topia.

snuggling in for a nice long 10 months.

first things first: i am not looking to be the next Octomom, i assure you. and plus also she gives me the heebie jeebies. who in their right mind elects to have 8 babies all at once? let’s not even open that can of worms.

Triomom doesn’t even have a nice ring to it. hell, i don’t wish triplets on anyone, especially me. not that having multiples is anything less than blessings abounding, let me make that clear. i just imagine the sheer work associated with multiples and i want to run the other way and jump off a cliff screaming. one baby was a handful, i can’t imagine two at once. i bow at the knees and kiss the feet of those moms who have survived with 2 babies at one time. or 3. gasp! you guys are seriously amazing. so with that being said, let’s discuss what happened today and i promise you will not lump me in with Octomom and all the crazy.

magician called me this morning and basically said aside from 1 embryo, the rest looked pretty bad. where is a chair, i can’t…breathe… he told me we needed to transfer them back this morning to give them the best chance of sticking. i frantically called up my acupuncturist to update him on the plan, and amazing husband drove us to the clinic.

went in for acupuncture… the needles did their trick, and surprisingly i was feeling extremely relaxed. or perhaps it was the valium i took. magician said to take one beforehand so my body would not tense up during the transfer time. regardless of the cause, instead of nervous i was feeling spectacular. everything was beautiful, warm and fuzzy.

then we sat down with magician and had a LONG talk about the state of our horses. as of yesterday we had 3 horses and 1 donkey. today we had 1 horse, 1 donkey and a mini horse. speechless. he said in his experience none of the other embies would make it to day 5, they were dividing irregularly or not at all. and thus, we probably would have nothing to freeze and save for later. devastation setting in. we had 9, and now we have 1.5?? 

he advised us to transfer 4. i’m sorry, what?  FOUR. pretty sure amazing husband just crapped his pants. he’s pale and sweating and searching for the exit. the logic is this: we have 1 embie that is on track, growing like it should. that’s our stud horse. then there are 2 that are lagging, growing slower than they should, but still growing. (at this stage the embies should be 6-8 celled, these ones are 3 and 4-celled.) i like to think the donkey is the 3 cell, and the mini horse is the 4 cell. it just makes sense in my mind. we told him we can’t put in 4. just… can’t.

amazing husband wanted to know if there’s any possible chance we would end up with triplets. um yeah, you don’t take this lightly.  magician emphatically said “i think if you transfer the stud, the donkey the mini horse you MIGHT end up with 1 baby. the donkey appears ready to divide again from 3 cells to 6 cells, which would almost be caught up to where it should be. but let’s take into account your history of pregnancies and losses and i think you are looking at very possibly getting pregnant but with only 1 baby.” he also reassured us that it would be like getting struck by lightning if we ended up with all three sticking. the color was slowly returning to amazing husband’s face.

deep breaths. and so we signed on the dotted line. we were going for three. oh my gosh, this is it. magician walked me to the procedure room and got the show on the road. the transfer was seamless and painless. thank you valium. and i got to witness my babies getting placed in their warm little bed. mind blown. technology is awesome. then i went for one more acupuncture session and fell asleep on the table. okay, maybe no valium next time. 

and now we wait. this is it. it’s going to work. it HAS to.

PUPO baby! (pregnant until proven otherwise!)

Posted in IVF

four.

magician: okay so we still have four embryos growing. oh thank you baby jesus

:::letting out a sigh of relief:::

magician: they look.. “okay.” not textbook by any means. nothing about my body has been textbook so let’s not be too surprised. out of the original 4 that fertilized on day 1, 1 has stopped growing. damn. but 1 of the original 4 that had not fertilized on day 1 is in fact growing. apparently that egg was immature at retrieval time but matured enough in the lab to be able to fertilize. that’s the donkey egg, i just know it.

magician: i need to see how they look tomorrow morning before i can decide if we should transfer them back tomorrow or wednesday. ideally we want to see 4 good embryos in order to wait the full 5 days to transfer… so it will come down to the wire.

me: i know you give the embryos grades, to sort of score them on their development right? am i crazy?

magician: oh yes, let’s talk about that. all of your embryos are grade 2, 1 of them is a 4-celled embryo, the other 3 are 2-celled. we generally like to see them be 4-celled at this point, but 2-celled isn’t bad. okay… um… I will call you at 9 tomorrow morning and at that point you will either come in in 30 minutes or maybe we can push it to Wednesday.

magician: okay bye now. *click*

fin.

me: :::speechless::: like an idiot i probably should’ve asked what the grading scale is. 0 – 2? 0 – 5? 0 to 100???  so i consulted Dr. Google like every insane person would. don’t do that. bad idea. it just makes you feel like sh*t. looks like most IVF clinics give embryos grades on 0 – 4 or 0 – 5. 0 is the worst, as in, the embryo is so jacked up it will never make a baby. 4 or 5 (depending on who you talk to) are the best, most gorgeous embryos. like, hollywood glam. symmetrical. voluptuous. seamless. no grainy bits. no extra pieces. not like mine. mine are keeping the pattern of staying kind of sort of ugly. like an off-Broadway act. at least they are dependable? i joke here because i have to. i am terrified. terrified that we may have only 1 “okay” looking one tomorrow. or none at all. or if i still have 4 what do we decide to do? you only have to take into account about 18127 things. just a small decision, really.

so that’s where we stand people. 3 horses and a donkey. not sure how i feel about that. oh wait yes i do… all i can feel is nerves.

this waiting is for the birds.

Posted in IVF

the wait just got harder

it’s day 1 post-egg retrieval. i’m sitting here holding the phone, willing it to ring for the last 2 hours. desperate to hear how my eggs are doing. my babies.

ring ring ring. holy crap. this is it.

magician: okay so we retrieved 9 eggs. 7 were mature. YESSSSSSS. The 2 eggs that were classified as immature were placed in a petri dish and coincubated with sperm (the sperm swim around it like what would happen in your body). 1 of those fertilized. Wow! That’s surprising. Ok great, what about the mature ones, get to those… Out of those 7 we performed ICSI (injecting a single sperm into the egg to ensure only 1 sperm fertilizes it). Only 3 have fertilized.

wait, what? no. only 3? wait, is this a joke?

The rest of the conversation was a blur. magician was telling me my eggs don’t look normal, something about granules and other unattractive qualities. so i have ugly eggs. i know this. old lady eggs. i asked him is it normal to have <50% of your ICSI eggs fertilize and he said no, it’s more like 75% usually fertilize. but he also said he’s seen them fertilize late too. he said just because i have ugly eggs doesn’t mean i can’t get pregnant. um… okay.

so all in all not a great report. not even a good report really. but it can always be worse i suppose. none of them could have fertilized. i keep telling myself i thought i was only going to have 5. and i got 9. and at the same time i am praying for the eggs to somehow pick up the pace and catch up. i am praying for the impossible.  magician said he would call tomorrow morning with another report and we would then determine what day to transfer them…

so i continue to wait. and stare at the clock. it’s completely out of my hands.

:::audible sigh:::

Posted in IVF

and now we wait

i’m going to keep this short and sweet because i’m still kind of doped up feeling foggy from anesthesia and to be honest, although a monumental event happened, it was over before it began so there’s really not much to talk about today.  with that said, there are two things i need to shout from the mountaintops today.

1. propofol is the best thing. EVER. one minute i was Chatty Cathy with Mr. Anesthesiologist and then things got all tingly and the room was wobbly, amazing husband was suddenly blurry and boom. LIGHTS OUT. next thing i know i’m giving thumbs ups and high-fiving and making inappropriate jokes with the nurses. at one point i swear the nurse had four eyes. i counted them each. out loud. she laughed. luckily, what happens under the influence of propofol can never be held against you. at least that’s what the staff said. but back to the Jackson Juice, my dear friend. you have been given a bad rap. when used appropriately (ahem not in your bedroom) you whisper sweet nothings in my ear and work your magic, just as you the doctor intended. i did not feel a THING during the egg retrieval. it was glorious. thank you Mr. Anesthesiologist.

2. we got 9 horses. NINE!!!!!!!! not sure if some of them had painted their faces with camo and were hiding behind my guts all this time, but what a shock. what an awesome surprise. but before we get too carried away, magician said that 1 of the 9 was pretty tiny and he was 99.9% sure it did not contain a mature egg inside, but because he leaves no man behind, he took it anyway. that’s okay. 8 is great. 8 is 3 more than i thought we would start with. no complaints here. there is no complaining while on propofol. hell, it’s near impossible to be anything but happy while that milk courses through your veins. but i digress.

so now begins the waiting game. insanely smart embryologist has already inspected my follicles for eggs, and injected each with a super strong sperm destined for greatness. my future baby(s) are growing as we speak, bathed in the warm natural glow of fluorescent lights and floating in a petri dish of hope. magician said he will call me tomorrow with the fertilization report that will describe how many mature eggs we got out of those 9 follicles, and how many fertilized correctly. and then i will get a call every day for the next couple of days telling me how the embies are growing and when the tentative embryo transfer date will be (it will be either Monday or Wednesday).

this is blowing my mind. this whole thing. what a trip. all this hard work so far, all the trials and tribulations, the tears and the joy, and don’t forget the needles… it all comes down to this. it has to work. it just has to.

so i will breathe. and hope. and try not to stare at the clock.

Posted in IVF