Grief

I have been thinking about writing this post all week, but really dont know how to put my grief into words. No, this isnt about our new bundle of joy that means the world to us. He is doing great. 

This is about the struggle that stays with you after you become a mom…dealing with loss and infertility after motherhood.

Two years ago today, I underwent my last d & c at 10 weeks pregnant. It was our 3rd Frozen Embryo Transfer, and we thought we were almost out of the woods (or first trimester). I wont rehash all of the awful details with our loss, you can read about them in our archives back in March of 2015 if you are in a place where you need to relate. If you are, my prayers go out to you. However, I will say that this February day back in 2015 still haunts, or hurts me deeply. 

I sat in the bathtub last night, when I should have been relaxing after a long day filled with cluster feeds, dirty diapers, cries and sweet rainbow baby coos, only to find myself grieving deeply. 

You see, having a baby doesnt replace losing one. Having a miracle in your arms actually makes you wonder even more about what your other child would have been. All the moments you are enjoying now that you lost with them. There is even a smidge of guilt mixed in with the grief. 

We will never know why we lost Isaacs brother that winter day a few years ago, or why we lost all 5 of his other siblings before that. All we can do is thank God for what we have and cherish it even more. Pray for peace for all the babies taken too soon, and for all the moms that became moms the second those embryos were placed inside of them…regardless of the outcome. You are a mother even though many might not recognize it. The love starts way before the baby arrives. Losing many and now having one has made me realize it even more. 

Rest in peace Isaiah William with all the other angels gone too soon 💙 today we think of you 💙

I Will Never Forget 

Although we have finally made it to a point in our pregnancy where we are very hopeful we will bring our rainbow baby home, it doesnt mean I will ever forget. 

I’ll never forget the sleepless nights dreaming of what it would be like to become pregnant and watch my belly grow. To feel life inside of me. 

I’ll never forget the desperation every month to see 2 pink lines. The timed intercourse over & over again, the old wives tales I held on to, organic foods I stuffed myself with, and the vitamins I overdosed with time & time again. 

I’ll never forget the disappointment and heartache month after month when it never happened on its own. Ever. 

I’ll never forget how scary every single treatment I had was. Every shot, ultrasound, IV of anesthesia, blood draw, d & c, egg retrieval, fibroid removal, hysteroscopy, HSG, tube removal, MRI, SIS, and transfer.

The various emotions I felt monthly, if not daily…bitterness, denial, hope, sadness, excitement, fear, anger, love, jealousy, peace, rage, the list goes on. 

I’ll never forget all the 2 week waits and the bargains I tried to make with God. If you….then I’ll…

I’ll never forget all the arguments and money spent trying to have a baby, something that should be so easy. 

I’ll never forget how I had to put my career on hold to be able to carry our baby. Something most women can do without a problem. Why couldnt I be normal too? 

I’ll never forget all the tears shed every pregnancy that was stolen from us.

I’ll never forget what it was like to hold my breath everytime I went to the bathroom pregnant, praying for no blood. 

I’ll never forget all the family and friend gatherings I avoided over the years to remain somewhat sane. 

I’ll never forget the anger and why’s I yelled out to God. 

I’ll never forget all of the endless trips to the doctor and psychologist. The anxiety attacks, nightmares, and medications that followed. 

I’ll never forget all the nights I tried to self numb my pain and distract myself but it never worked. Shopping trips, yoga, girls nights, drinks, date nights, you name it. 

I’ll never forget all of those pregnancy announcements that seemed to come so easy for some. The endless bump shots and ultrasound photos I couldnt bare to see at times. 

I’ll never forget what it feels like to be left behind or misunderstood. Gut wrenching. 

I’ll never forget the conversations based solely around kids and being the only one in the group without one. Trying to find an excuse to get away before bursting into tears. 

I’ll never forget what it was like to fake a smile just to get through the days without having to explain. 

I’ll never forget the support of those who picked me up when I needed it the most. 

I’ll never forget all of the people in this community who helped me realize I wasnt alone. Oh the gratitude. 

I’ll never forget all the babies we lost. Every date is forever in my heart. 

I’ll never forget that we are in fact infertiles and suffer from recurrent pregnancy loss. 

And I’ll never truly feel we “beat infertility” as it will always be a part of us. Always. 

Flashback to 2/6/15

*Originally written on 2/6/15, one of the hardest days of my life.

My mom drove me home from the ultrasound appointment as she tried to hold herself together. I told her to text the news to friends or family members we had excitedly told about our pregnancy.
I couldn’t believe I was telling her to do this. Instead of our pregnancy going public in 2 short weeks, we would be suffering yet another loss. Celebrated by serial beta testing. I hated the world. And I despised my body for failing again.
When I got home, I started throwing things away immediately. This was not like the last loss when I asked my husband to put all of the “stuff” away nicely for me. I started pitching medications, cards, maternity clothes, positive tests, books…basically anything I could get my hands on. GARBAGE.
When my husband arrived home that night, we both just laid in bed and cried. There was NOTHING to say. We stared blankly at the ceiling, just as I did at the doctor’s office earlier that morning. I didn’t sleep that night, I sobbed. And from time to time, I shoved my face deep into my pillow and flung my fists. My entire face was pretty much swollen red for days.
The d & c was set for 1 p.m., just 2 days after the ultrasound that changed our lives. Like any other surgery, I couldn’t eat or drink after midnight Thursday night. The eating part I was just fine with. In fact, I had barely taken a bite out of anything since we found out we lost the pregnancy. I went from literally eating non stop, to not eating at all. It was the not drinking part that was a problem for me. Mostly because I had come down with a terrible sore throat and headache Thursday. My throat was as dry as a bone and my head was throbbing.
I stayed up all night, tossing and turning, in true despair and pain, starting to feel like I was being punished. Or tortured for that matter. I had a lifeless child inside of me. I couldn’t have water, and I couldn’t take anything for my headache. I guess the truth of the matter is, that many people, even children, all around the world, experience this torture everyday. No water or medicine to help them feel better. For some reason, in my darkest moment, my heart actually ached for them and not for us.
We made it through the night, and the next day arrived. The day of the d & c, the day I should have been 10 weeks along. Part of me wanted to get it all over with right away, but another part of me wanted to hold on to what was left. The doctor thought it would be in my best interest to undergo general anesthesia, so I had no recollection of the event. But general anesthesia or not, this day of the d & c was plain awful. And when I say awful, I am not by any means exaggerating.
We got to the hospital at 11 a.m. thirsty. After checking in, we went into the waiting room. Of course, there were babies everywhere and wouldn’t you know it, a very pregnant woman directly in front of the empty chairs we had to sit in as we waited. 

They took me back, and as usual, got more blood (honestly surprised I have any left). I undressed, put my belongings into a bag, and slipped on the gown. Next, the nurse stuck the IV into my hand (worst place ever to get an IV). I had bruised, greenish-yellow, swollen hands. This nurse was not my doctor’s nurse, and not very gentle to say the least.
She asked me to confirm why I was there, and I (literally) choked on my tears. I mumbled the answer. She simply looked at me and said, “OK” in a perky voice and she walked away. Not, “I’m sorry to hear that,” or “that’s very sad,” or anything. I was simply another patient in this place of death. No longer was this hospital looked at as a place of life. I guess it can be viewed either way depending on who you ask. If you asked me a week earlier, I would have told you I was excited to take a tour where we would have our baby. Now, I loathed the place with everything in me.

Around noon, my mom requested the anesthesiologist give me something so I would calm down. He did, even though I still continued to cry long after it was supposed to have “kicked in.” My doctor came in a little after 1 pm and talked with us. She informed us that the POC (products of conception) would be sent out immediately to the lab. At the lab, the POC (real nice name for a life that was lost) would undergo genetic micro-array testing. The results would let us know us if the baby had a genetic anomaly, such as Trisomy 18 or 21, that caused it to just stop growing. The results would take up to 2 weeks. Another 2WW. FML.

My doctor gave me a hug, and a kiss on the forehead, and said she would take care of me like I was her own daughter. Then she said she would see me when I woke up to let me know how it went. The nurses rolled me off to the operating room. Unfortunately, I still remember the room they took me in. So large, bright and white, with metal instruments surrounding me. They rolled me onto a different bed than the one I was on. Above me, I saw what looked like the small lamp a dentist uses at an exam, but instead the lamps were super sized and everywhere. Creepy. They strapped my arms down, and put the oxygen mask on my face. The anesthesiologist popped in, and said it would be only a few seconds and I’d be out. He was right.

I woke up as they were rolling me into the recovery room. My first memory is throwing up all over myself. After that, opening my eyes and starting to cry within seconds. The little old lady attendant who was waiting to check me into recovery said, “Oh no! Please don’t cry!” I was completely groggy, but still in a lot of pain. The cramps were BAD. My new recovery room nurse gave me Vicodin through my IV right away. About 10 minutes later, the cramping started to subside. As I tried to get comfortable, I felt gushes of blood. I was disgusted in my half alive state. Utterly disgusted. This was not supposed to be happening.

I ended up staying in recovery for a few hours because I kept needing Vicodin. In turn, the Vicodin would make me sick, and I would need Zofran, which would knock me out. It was a vicious cycle- Vicodin, puke, Zofran, sleep, repeat. My doctor came to check on me and tell us how it went.

She said she was able to clearly take our little angel out. That’s all I really heard her say. 

At that moment, I wondered what he or she would have looked like, and what it would have been like to hold them.

Originally Written on 2/4/15

Miscarriage #3

So, by now you may have already guessed what happened at our 10 week appointment today.
I woke up early as I usually did to make it to the 7:30 a.m. scheduled ultrasound. This was the 1st ultrasound appointment I would be going to alone. 

When I woke up, it was the 3rd day in a row that I had 0 pregnancy symptoms. I felt like everything had been stolen from me, yet I still tried to keep my faith. 

 I got in my car and turned on the radio. Immediately the song, Oceans, Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong United came on. https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw
I started bawling my eyes out. If you haven’t heard this song, it’s a Christian song about keeping the faith and trusting God through the hardest times of your life. Ironically, I had heard this song the exact day we had our 2nd miscarriage. And here it was, playing again as I drove to my appointment. I knew right at that moment, without doubt, that this pregnancy was over. I just didn’t understand why. My heart ached.
Within minutes of arriving, I got my vitals taken and was in the ultrasound room. I briefly informed the nurse of how I had been feeling the past 3 days. She started the scan, I took a deep breath, and as always, I looked the other direction. I couldn’t even stand the thought of seeing her face when she told me. Seconds of silence turned into minutes of silence. More confirmation that it was over. When nothing is wrong, it only takes seconds to locate the heartbeat and turn that screen to the proud parents. Not today.
Everything I prayed so hard against was coming true. Again. Every time I told myself to fight off those negative thoughts. Every time I believed people telling me this was the time, this was our year. Every time I thought we would defy the odds. Every time, I was wrong. And my heart ached.
Finally, the nurse who had been by our side for over a year now, pulled out the wand without saying a word. I turned and looked at her. She was crying. I blurted out “WHAT?” rudely. 

 She whispered, “I’m so sorry. There was no heartbeat today.”

I immediately demanded she show me. Let me see it with my own eyes! I thought. And so she did. I saw our sweet little angel, who was now in heaven. The heartbeat was gone, along with any flow of blood through the tiny body that had so wonderfully formed.

I sat up. She hugged me. Then she angrily said, “Why does this keep happening?!” I hadn’t shed a tear yet or spoken a word other than my nasty “what?” a few minutes earlier. I just stared blankly. I couldn’t speak because I felt like someone had ripped out everything inside of me. 

 She asked me to please wait for the doctor to come in at 9 to confirm. It was only 7:45. I said OK. Then she told me to just stay in the room and wait. This was not the norm, as the practice is very busy, and they only have 2 exam rooms… hence, rooms are golden. Not today.

 Today I sat in the same room for over an hour without moving. Everyone else would just have to wait. I didn’t care, and surprisingly the staff didn’t either.
Another nurse came in to take my blood. The anger had turned to despair and I was now sobbing uncontrollably. She told me I had to call my husband. I didn’t want to. I refused to tell my husband that we lost another child. This has to be a nightmare right? I was going to wake up any moment! 

 The doctor came in next. She performed another ultrasound. I heard her and the nurse speaking as they were pointing, but it was all a blur. I looked at the screen one last time because I knew that would be it; my good-bye

 The doctor confirmed we had lost the baby. She diagnosed it a missed miscarriage. No bleeding. No cramping. No shortened cervix. No nothing. The life inside of me had just stopped living.
She gave me our options next. 1.) Miscarry naturally. This could take weeks, or even longer since I was only a few days short of 10 weeks. 2.) Take Misoprostol orally and miscarry at home. She recommended against this, again since I was further along it would be “very uncomfortable,” or 3.) Have a d & c in two days at the hospital under general anesthesia. I scheduled the d & c.
I called my mom & asked her to come get me. I couldn’t drive. The doctor and nurse walked me out. They hugged me, and kindly told me to stop taking all my medications right away, especially the blood thinner, since I would now be undergoing surgery in 2 days.
I stumbled out to my car and dialed my husband as I waited for my mom to arrive. All I heard him saying was, “NO, NO, NO,” over and over again.

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision seemed like an appropriate title for this post being the gargantuan MRI machine feels like being stuck in a shallow tunnel, surrounded tightly on all sides with blaring fireworks going off directly into your ears.  

I arrived at the dreaded hospital (aka place of death) about 15 minutes early for my MRI.  Thankfully, they are currently in the process of renovating so it didnt even look like the same place I stepped foot in 8 months ago when I underwent the D & C.  I checked in, got a wristband, and was pleasantly informed that my insurance would pay 100% for it.  While waiting, I asked the lady at the desk if I could request a copy of my images that would be taken.  She gave me a form and I filled it out. Finally, the technician called me back and reviewed the script with me.  I must say how sweet this lady was…she asked questions, listened to my story, and even took the time to call my RE’s office to ask a few questions.  

I have only had 1 MRI before and that was for the herniated disc I have in my neck. What I remembered most from that was how long the scan seemed and that I couldnt really move much. I didnt remember it to be too bad.  Now, I should add that this neck MRI was a several years back, which were pre-anxiety days, or the pre-IVF and pre-RPL days of my life. 

This being said, I contemplated the idea of taking a Xanax before todays MRI, but did not since I drove myself to the appt. straight from work.  Anyways, I had an IV adminstered this time for the dye which I did not have in the past.  After the IV, she had me take off all metal items, empty my bladder, and lay on the table.  She asked me what type of music I wanted to listen to, reviewed the protocol with me, put on my headphones, and pushed me into the tunnel.  

Immediately, I caught myself feeling anxious.  I started breathing heavier and suddenly felt like I was going to die.  If you have not experienced anxiety/panic before, this probably sounds insane to you…nevertheless, its true.  I closed my eyes and started praying.  I was able calm down after a few minutes.  I considered pushing the help button several times as I stared at the top of the tunnel above my face.  Then I started to think of all the people with terminal diseases who constantly go through procedures like this.  Just for a moment, I felt like I could relate to them.  Please dont misunderstand, my disease is in no way fatal like theirs; but my level of empathy and understanding for the pain they endure was taken to another level at that moment.  Something I will never forget.  Something positive that infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss have bestowed upon me…more compassion. 

Needless to say, I sucked it up and did not push the button.  Instead, I began to think about the journey to where we are now.  I imagined an imaginary line running up the center of the tunnel, from the bottom where my feet lay, to the top of the tunnel where my head was. Sort of like a timeline with my feet being start and my head finish.  I wondered where we are on the line in regards to bringing our baby home…are we close to the top? In the middle? Still at the bottom? I started to place events on the line, giving each a few moments of my time.  I couldnt see above my feet as she slid me at times…this was good…putting those events behind me.  I ended up placing us somewhat close to my head, in the vicinty of my upper torso to be exact.  

Time was finally up. The wonderful technician surprised me with the CD of my images on the spot, so I did not need to mess with getting them another time. I popped in the CD and tried to examine it when I arrived home.  All of it looks utterly insane to me.  I tried Dr. Google, still no help there.  Regardless, it was comforting to be handed the CD, even if I cant make anything of it until my RE calls me.  Its the little things in life, right? 

Celebrating the Small Things-Lining Check #2

Earlier this week, I got a positive OPK on day 13 of my cycle (currently in the 2WW!), and set up my lining check for day 15.  In case you haven’t been following along, I have a history of thin lining.

In 2 of our 3 prior IVF cycles it wasn’t ideal; our first fresh transfer- barely 7mm, and FET #1-barely 6mm (8mm or > is what we are going for). And that was with estrogen to make it thicker.  I took even more estrogen for FET #2 and my lining got up to an 11 finally.  But with all that excess estrogen came an absolutely insane woman, fluid, and a fibroid in my uterus that most likely caused a miscarriage.

Since our loss with FET #2, I had to undergo another D & C and Operative Hysteroscopy with my already thin lining.  I was not happy about this, but what could we do? Anyways, in June, my first lining check post surgeries measured 5mm.  Not horrible, but not great either.  Here comes the good news…our most current lining check this week measured 8.4mm! And it had the triple stripe going on!  Super exciting news for us!

Why? Mostly because I am currently not taking any estrogen at all.  My nurse was even like, “Wow! This is amazing! We had such a hard time getting your lining this thick even on estrogen!”  Um, yea exactly why I do not want to be on it again in the future.  Or maybe I should say why I won’t be on it again in the future.

We have another lining check (#3) set up for August 6th at our current RE’s office.  We also have an IVF chat following the ultrasound to hear what she has to say about the protocol for moving forward.  In the meantime, we have 2 appointments set up for July 22nd with 2 different RE’s.  Both appointments are for second opinions.

That being said, by the first week of August (will be here before we know it!), we will have made our decision as to where and when we will be transferring our frosties. In the meantime, we will celebrate the little things along the way…like my triple stripe, thick lining!!

  

Guest Post-Rachel’s Story on Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Today, I will be featuring a guest post from Rachel McGrath.

Unfortunately, like many, Rachel has  battled recurrent & unexplained pregnancy loss.   

Feel free to check out her blog and book available for purchase at http://www.findingtherainbow.net/

Here is her story. 


I am now one of those ‘statistics’ when it comes to miscarriage!   I am the one in four women who have a miscarriage in the first trimester, and I’m also part of the total 1% of the population who experience ‘recurrent miscarriages’.  Recently I also found out I’m one of the 5% of women who following a D&C (dilation and curettage – the surgical removal of a miscarriage) resulted in a condition called ‘Ashermans’ Syndrome’.

With these odds I should really be entering the lotto right?  Wrong!  Here is my story…

We were so very planned about starting a family, and like many unsuspecting couples, we were oblivious to how difficult getting pregnant and having a baby would actually be.  It was exactly a year after I married my husband that we agreed to ‘start trying’.  I was thirty-six years at this point and quite impatient to become a mother.  When it didn’t happen immediately I made an appointment with my GP to question why?  She told me to relax and explained at my age it could easily take several months to conceive.  She also advised that if we did not fall pregnant within twelve months that I should investigate.  That calmed me.

We were lucky!  Almost six months after trying, we got our positive pregnancy test result.  I was certain everything had now fallen into place, and I was looking forward to being a mother.  I was wrong.

It was at seven weeks when I had a little bit of break through bleeding.  I panicked and went to my doctor who sent me for an ultrasound.  The ultrasound was my reality check!  I was told that the heartbeat was slow and I would need to return in a week for a second scan.  The tone of the nurse’s voice told me this wasn’t good.  That week ran forever, and I became so stressed about the pending result, fearing and expecting the worst.  At that second scan my fears came to life, with the confirmation that there was no heartbeat and I had a missed miscarriage.  I was scheduled for a D&C and suddenly all those hopes had crashed.

As a couple we were lucky as we fell pregnant naturally and easy.  I was excited at getting my second positive test around six months later.  This time however we didn’t even get to six weeks before I started miscarrying naturally.  It was over before it began!  The doctor’s told us not to worry as getting pregnant seemed to be no concern, and at my age my body was potentially just getting used to ‘being pregnant’.  My cycle was a regular twenty-eight days, and so we were encouraged to try again.  Within four months I was again pregnant – my third pregnancy in the in the one year!   This one had to be the one, and I was confident this time as all the signs were strong.

Again Mother Nature proved me wrong, and we only reached six and a half weeks, and no heartbeat.  I tried to miscarry again naturally, but this time my body wouldn’t let go.  I hemorrhaged for over two months, being admitted to hospital twice with blood infections.   I was physically, emotionally and mentally overwrought, and we were now being asked to start investigating our options.

We did visit a fertility specialist, who ran some initial tests.  My husband tested positively, so no concerns there.  I had a strong egg reserve and again they could find little to fault me.  Well we had to stop before I could undergo blood test because I fell pregnant a few months later.  Surely this was the one!  This time our doctor’s recommended an early ultrasound at six weeks, and low and behold we had a heartbeat!  Our confidence was growing.  It was recommended that we have a weekly scan to ensure that everything continued on track.

Our excitement was curbed quickly with the devastating news at our second scan – the heartbeat had stopped.  This was our fourth miscarriage and I was devastated, destroyed.  Given the problems I had experienced in my last miscarriage I was recommended to undergo a D&C to remove the pregnancy.  It seemed the best way to help my body recover from the loss, and to move through a painful experience both emotionally and physically.

Little did I realise that in taking this ‘surgical short cut’ I was actually not helping my own situation, and I was potentially removing all hope of ever conceiving naturally again.  There were no warnings prior to the procedure, the doctors gave me the standard script, but there was there mention of potential creation of scar tissue which could in fact lead to infertility.

Months after my D&C my periods still had not returned.  Prior to this I was experiencing a regular 28 day cycle and now each month I experienced severe period pains (more painful than my past periods) but nothing, no period.  After several months I knew something wasn’t right and I met with my specialist who sent me to an ultrasound and scheduled a hysterscopy. They found some retained tissue (leftovers from the miscarriage) and I was told to wait a little longer.  A few months later, still nothing, and again I went back.  After seven months and still no period, naturally I became concerned.  I still wanted to conceive a baby, and yet I couldn’t even get back to a normal cycle to even consider restarting.  It was then suggested that I try some hormone medication for ten days (Provera) which is aimed to induce a period.  After another two months, still nothing.

When the ‘due date’ for my lost baby passed, I was finally was referred to an ‘Ashermans’ specialist’.  The lining on my uterine is not thickening which means that my body is not menstruating; ergo pregnancy wasn’t even an option and now may never be.

My specialist administered a hysteroscopy where he was able to better examine my uterus.  He found extensive scarring from the D&C procedure and also the presence of fibroids.  He advised me that he did his best and that I now had a 50% chance of recovery and future pregnancy.  A month after my surgery I had a very light period and was given the green light to try again.  Six weeks later I didn’t have a period, so I thought maybe I’m pregnant?  Wrong!  No period, no pregnancy, back to my specialist.

So now I’m scheduled for a second hysteroscopy, to try again, and hopefully remove any remaining scar tissue and rebuild my chances of a future pregnancy.  Even now, if I have a successful result, I will need to pursue IVF to help with any chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant.

I feel I need to  warn other women, those who have had D&C’s and are experiencing lighter or more painful period pain, and those who may be experiencing nothing at all like me, please follow through with your investigations quickly.  I hope that my condition can be managed, but had I known the risks in the first place I may have taken different options throughout the miscarriage.

I still hope that I will in fact get pregnant again, and with the close guidance of my specialist and assisted fertility treatments, I pray that one day I will get my rainbow baby!

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