Soulmates-My Baby, Her Belly 

We meet tons of people throughout the span of our lives. Maybe you have heard the saying, “some people come into our lives and quickly go, others stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.”  I believe we can categorize these people into groups based on our relationships with them.

  1. People we never say more than 2 or 3 words to such as “hi and “how are you” in passing just to be polite (a co-worker in a large firm, a fellow jogger or person waiting in line with you). 
  2. People we wish we would have never said more than 2 or 3 words to, unfortunately did, and now avoid them at all costs (acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, or friends turned bad). 
  3. People we interact with for professional, need based reasons (hairdressers, postmen, bankers, doctors, realtors, etc.) 
  4. People we deal with only on or at special occassions because we feel obligated to do so (fellow Christmas party goers and wedding party guests, great aunts and uncles we havent seen in 15 years, or any family member that we are distant from). 
  5. People we enjoy spending our time with and vice versa (good friends & family). 
  6. People who we cannot imagine not having in our lives for its entirety, who we would do anything for, and vice versa (soulmates). 

*Note-these are all totally subjective generalizations; yes there are surely exceptions and overlaps depending on who you ask.  

To most, a soulmate is looked at as 1 romantic, intimate life partner. I too, look at my husband as my 1 and only romantic soulmate.  But is it possible to have a soulmate that has nothing to do with romance? 

I would say so; I would say it all depends on your definition of a soulmate. To me, the defintion of a soulmate is what I described in category #6 above.  For this reason, I also consider my mom to be my soulmate. I could even go as far as saying I consider my furbabies to be too.  The past few weeks, I was really reminded that I am blessed to have friends in my life that are my soulmates as well. 

  

A few weeks back, after our FET was cancelled and we got the bad MRI report, I was feeling pretty down. Literally, I was in bed crying, thinking about how weak I am, and how I wanted to give up, when my husband brought in an unexpected card from a cat 6 friend and handed it to me. It was exactly what I needed at exactly that moment.  

  

A few days later, I sat and cried again, staring at the computer screen. I had just researched the cost of an average carrier in the U.S….$50,000, with the most expensive part being hiring someone you do not know to carry. We knew there was no way this could ever be afforded.  Ever.  And we were so frustrated that neither one of us have a sister to even consider asking for help.  Neither one of us would ever as a friend, its just too much to expect of someone in our opinions.  But having someone you know as the carrier significantly reduces the cost. 

Next thing I know, my husband hands me more unexpected deliveries from another friend from category 6.  Again, the timing was nothing short of a miracle from above.  

These cards were numbered in the order to be opened

If you have been following our infertility, IVF, and RPL battle you know that eventually we *may* be faced with pursuing our family through a gestational carrier.  I said in my post yesterday that I had some uplifting, positive fertility news to tell. I am not going to go into detail about it, but I will share this much-one of my cat 6 friends, who has been following our story all along, who is one of my soulmates, has extended the offer of carrying our child for us should it come to it in the future.  She said it would be an honor to do so.  

There are really no words that can describe this incredible, selfless offer or the magnitude of our wonderful friendship. 

For those of you who are struggling, who think everything seems impossible, and who are feeling that there is no hope left-my husband and I get it. We really do. In fact, just a day before this offer we said we might as well give up on our dream of our family. But I want to remind you that there is always hope my friends.  Just when you are at your weakest and about to give up, God will remind you there is hope. 

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A Renewed Sense of Hope

As of lately, I havent had much good to report in terms of our IF/IVF/RPL struggle. Today, for the first time in awhile, I feel like we have some better news to share. 

My formal, sit-down, post MRI appt. with my RE was today.  Although I had briefly discussed the results with her via email prior to our meeting, this was an in depth review.  

We started out reviewing the recent images together. I had already looked at these on the CD I was given at the hospital after the MRI, but none of it made any sense to me.  I couldnt even tell my intestines from my uterus and so on.  Seriously, it looked like an alien.  We pulled up before and after images from the last mass removed back in May.  We compared the images, and they looked very similar then and now, as far as the shape, location, etc. 

Some background before I go any further

Before my surgery back in May, my RE said she thought it was an Adenomyoma that we were going to try and remove. Of course, there is no sure fire way to know 100% what it is until it is sent out after removal. When we got the path back from the lab, after removal, it came back as a submucosal fibroid.  Hmmmm…

We (my RE included) were all very surprised by this report, as it didnt look like one at all.  But what were we going to do? Fight the labratory? Ask for the mass to be sent to me? I dont think so. They dont even speak to people there, trust me. The lab has no connection to the RE- it is an entirely separate entity.  If you even try calling a lab, good luck.  

That brings us to current time. We noticed during my last H/S in September that something was back in my uterus yet again. We ordered an MRI and the official read of the current mass- Adenomyoma. Might I add, in the same exact same location as the last mass.  Hmmmm…

So my friends that “fibroid” back in May was NOT really a fibroid-it was an Adenomyoma as we all originally suspected.  There is no way a fibroid was in the exact same spot as an Adenomyoma now is. Fat chance! 

That would mean the lab was wrong.  How is it possible that a lab could inaccurately diagnosis a specimen sent to them? Well, for one, they are human. Two, its my luck. But here is the real deal on how a misdiagnosis of an Adenomyoma vs.  Fibroid happens–my RE said that when they check for fibroids, they are looking for endometrial tissue and if they find it, they sometimes just classify it as a fibroid.  Both masses have endometrial tissue, but fibroids are much more common than Adenomyomas.  

I do believe this reasoning on their *uck up is true, because when we got a second opinion over the summer at another RE’s and I showed him the path report and the photos, his exact words were, “that is not a fibroid.” I argued with him, explaining that the lab said… and he interrupted me quickly with and I quote, “they are just testing for endometrial tissue.” 

Pretty amazing that labs can get away with this type of work if you ask me.  Nevertheless, I I feel confident this is a regrowth of an Adenomyoma versus a fibroid, and that we have in fact been dealing with an Adenomyoma all along.  So does my RE, the radiologists, and all of the RE’s at her practice.  

To be sure, today, we compared numerous images of fibroids versus adenomyomas; the outcome- my mass looks NOTHING like a fibroid. I do not want to ponder this matter any longer. We have had so many unanswered questions and curveballs throughout our journey.  This FINALLY feels like a solid diagnosis to us, and we plan to leave it at that.  

Now, with all that being said, it appears this adenomyoma has indeed grown back since the operation in May.  It stayed away for about 2 1/2 months in total after the operation.  Keep in mind, before the operation, my RE told me there was a chance this mass growing back may happen (if she couldnt get all of the cells from it out).  She made it clear to us then that she did NOT want to damage my uterus in anyway=not a lot of digging and scraping to get it out.  I do appreciate that.  

Do I wish she got it all? Yes. Do I want to have a bunch of scar tissue or damaged cavity from her getting it all? No. And I dont, thankfully, because then I would be super pissed it was back.  But I am not mad at all today, for 3 reasons-

  1. As mentioned, we now have a firm diagnosis of what the mass is. 
  2. My uterus looks great overall. Surprising right? Ill explain more below. 
  3. There is hope!

Looking Good

I dont know if anyone out there has had an MRI of the uterus, but let me tell you, it really gives you a clear view of it all…more than any HSG, H/S, or SIS can.  The only troublesome area is the small spot where this Adenomyoma is. The rest is normal size, shape, and so on. Thank God.  This is good news my friends!  

Here comes the hope

We can try to shrink this mass using Lupron for 3 months. We discussed success rates, side effects, etc.  and when it boils down to it, my husband and I think it is at least worth a try.  We are feeling very hopeful, and at the same time, cautiously optimistic about it.  

The Plan

We ordered the script for Lupron, and my nurse is going to try and get my insurance to cover it, meaning it probably will not be in for a few weeks.  This is not the typical Lupron you inject yourself with subcutaneously in the abdomen before an IVF cycle. I wish! I have been on that dose of Lupron plenty of times, its not bad at all.  For this though, I will go into their office once a month and get an intramuscular injection in-you guessed it-my ass.  Ugh.  I guess its like regular Lupron on steroids (super strong). 

I will be honest-the side effects described are not pretty. Hot flashes, night sweats, nausea, insomnia, etc.  I am trying to remain hopeful I do not get the worst of it.  I am focusing on my fresh IVF cycle, and how I never got sick like a lot of women do, and also my pregnancies were pretty much the same.  I am usually pretty good at fighting off side effects, so we will see.  If they become too much to bear, there are some options of things I can do, but I am not going there yet, one day at a time. Either way, I know it will all be worth it in the end if we can finally bring our baby home.  

Best Case Scenario

The Lupron shrinks it down & we transfer immediately after I stop it, knowing the Adenomyoma stayed gone for about 3 months, we could get through the first trimester without it coming back during that time (hopefully, nothing is guaranteed).  This would mean a spring transfer and maybe our baby in time for the holidays next year! 

Worst Case Scenario

This Lupron does not shrink it.  We would then be faced with a few options-

  1. Try to surgically remove it again & transfer right away after (again, this would be just a temporary fix, trying to get us through a first trimester without it, knowing it will likely be back soon).  We would also be risking damage to my uterus again going this route.  
  2. Gestational carrier – I will post about this separately, but we did discuss it in detail today and I got tons of info. on it.  

I failed to mention that I discussed getting a second opinion from another Dr. with my RE today.  One that specializes in uterine masses to be exact.  She showed me the areas the other REs at her practice specialize in and are board certified in- several of them being uterine issues like mine.  If they have already reviewed my files, and specialize in this area, why would we bother going anywhere else? What will they tell me these REs havent? I really dont want to become more confused and I am so tired.  Most importanty, we feel content today, like we are moving forward, and thats what matters most.  


Left Behind 

Today, I feel left behind. It’s a grave feeling, one that tugs deep down at my soul.  It’s a quiet pain, watching the days and months turn into years, passing by with an empty womb and empty arms, making for an empty heart.  Watching everyone enjoy their growing families.  At times like this, I briefly feel bitterness and anger, but not nearly as much as I used to.  When I feel left behind like this now, I am consumed by hurt more than any other emotion.

Yes, I have triggers that make me feel awful, and for the most part, I try to avoid them. Usually this involves people complaining about their kids or pregnancies, making jokes about getting pregnant, or acting like I do not understand their kid problems because I am not a mom in their eyes (“just wait, you will see”).

But there are also things that I choose not to avoid anymore, like FB pregnancy announcements, bump updates, and newborn photo shoots. I used to run from these, now I try my best to find joy for those people.  After all, these are happy things.  Dont get me wrong, some days it is still too much to bear.

Overall, I think I have learned to make the most of the cards I have been dealt and so, the majority of the time I try to believe this is just a shitty chapter of our love story.  But when I am brutally honest with myself, I know that being childless might not be just a chapter; it might be how this story ends.  Before you tell me not to give up, that no one can stop me from being a mother, hear me out.  Let me whine and listen to what I want, please.

Part of me wishes I could turn back time, which I just told my husband the other night.  If I could, I dont know if I would have ever done IVF. Seriously. I dont care how strong it has made me/us. My husband & I were so incredibly naive. We truly thought it was the ultimate fix.  We believed wholeheartedly we had a simple issue (male factor), and we would succeed the first time.  Never in our worst nightmare did we imagine that two years and over 30,000 later we would be sitting here with nothing to show except broken hearts and dreams. Oh, and wallets, but honestly money is the last concern if you have gone through what we have…FACT.

Anyways, 5 lost babies and now we are being faced with the news that I may never be able to carry our child.  That appointment is just 2 days away from now; something we never fathomed. We are so deep in the IVF trenches it is almost like there is no turning back.  I know some of you ladies here me on this.

I dont regret carrying our babies for the time that I did, but at times I do regret jumping full force into something I really didnt fully understand. I wish so badly that IVF would have been the answer for us, the answer every infertile couple is so desperately searching for.  Maybe it still could be, but not without a lifetime of scars along with it.

Over the years, I have watched each and every one of my close friends grow their family.  Keep in mind that none of these close friends had any kids back at our wedding, when we began our TTC journey. In fact, only 1 of my close friends you that you will read about below was married before my husband and I were.  The rest got married after us and have since easily lapped us many times over.  

My maid of honor, has just given birth to her second child, who was due just weeks before our last would have come into the world a month ago.

Another bridesmaid is delivering her 3rd child tomorrow, who would have also been just weeks apart from the birth of our last child a month ago.

My friend who read at our wedding ceremony just delivered her first born, just a few months before our last child would have been born.

Yes, all 3 of these friends above were pregnant and due within 2 months of when I should have been with our last.  In high school, us 4 were the best of friends.  The 3 of them carried to full term together, but I didn’t make it.

A different one of my bridesmaids underwent IVF and successfully conceived and gave birth to healthy twins after their first fresh transfer.

A close friend of mine for the past 18 years adopted twin boys and completed her desire for a family.

Another friend underwent medicated cycles at home through our same RE, conceived, and gave birth to her son, just a few months before our 3rd would have entered the world last month.

A friend has just had her second child, due weeks apart from when our 2nd would have come, naming him Noah, a name we both loved.

A close friend of my husbands who was a groomsman in our wedding gave birth to his son the day our son was scheduled to be here last month.

Am I happy for all of my dear friends? Absolutely.  It has nothing to do with that.  Remember the title of this post, please.  

Even here, in the blogging world, I am seeing so many ladies graduate on.  Again, I am so pleased for them (because of course that is the point!!), but at the same time, I am sad because I wonder if I will still talk with them as much.  I have seen a lot of bloggers disappear once they finally become pregnant. I pray not to loose that support.  

I think you get the point by now, if not here it is….I feel left behind today.  I want my baby.  Our baby.  I want to get pregnant at home with my husband. I want some of the normalcy all around me to rub off on us! 

I wish IVF would have worked on the first try, or even the 2nd or 3rd try.  I want to erase all my losses away. Why did I have to fall pregnant each time, only to suffer a loss??? It is one of the cruelest feelings one could ever know, to have joy ripped out from inside of you.  

And now, after all this, to be told that being pregnant all those times was basically a tease, that it may never happen again, is the icing on the cake… I don’t want a gestational carrier, I don’t want another surgery, or 10th opinion, I don’t want to adopt, keep putting our lives on hold, or spend thousands of more dollars…I just want it to be easy for me, just for once! Imagine being pregnant so many times but never experiencing it completely.  Like I said, a tease. Empty arms.  

If you are reading this and have not experienced infertility, or infertility coupled with recurrent loss, or loss in general, I pray you never do. Cherish every moment of your pregnancy and your children. I still remember the last time I felt pregnant, before I knew it was all over, and it is something I will never forget. If you are reading this and it is the opposite, and you are like me, my heart goes out to you.  

I want a miracle…to wake up from this nightmare that NO ONE should have to go through…to get pregnant, and carry a healthy child to full term without having a nervous breakdown during those 40 weeks. I want to catch up and experience some of the joy taking place all around me.  Is that too much to ask??? Guess so.  

MRI 

A quick update for those who have been following along…

My MRI is set up for next week. After talking with my RE, I will still be going to the same hospital she requested, even though the particular specialist they want to read it is no longer there.  

My RE and her colleagues are in the process of trying to track him down, but regardless, I can get the MRI in the meantime, and then just sign a release form for whoever we want to read it after the fact.  

At this point, we really just want to know the results so we know what options we will be faced with. The short of it is this:

If it’s an adenomyoma, we will probably try to shrink it for 3 months with Lupron suppression. If its a fibroid, they will likely want to try to remove it again. 

If either of these fail, gestational carrier is the next recommended form of action. Im not sure what we will do after the MRI results…one day at a time for now.  

Are You There God? It’s Me, Angela…

Hysteroscopy #4 was Monday.  I know in some cases no news = good news, but that is not the case.  I wish I had better news to share.  We prayed and prayed for it.  We have waited almost a year from our last transfer for it.  However, it didn’t come.  And I can’t say I am surprised….What’s another major disappointment at this point?

Our upcoming October FET is off.  Cancelled.  Done.

During the hysteroscopy, my RE found that the mass that was surgically removed back in May returned.  The “something” on the ultrasounds really was “something” after all.  It only took 3 months for that f’n monster to grow back ( you will have to excuse my language).

I woke up from the twilight anesthesia with tears rolling down my face.  Not from any physical pain—just mental.  It reminded me of the feeling I had when I awoke from one of my D & C’s…EMPTY.  I could hear bits and pieces of the “oh no’s, “dammits,” and “shits,” from the staff during the procedure, and in my half alive state, I knew all too well what it meant.

I recall pushing the nurse off of me when she kindly tried to help me get dressed..hell, this wasn’t my first rodeo—I could do it myself. They showed me images and comparisons, blah, blah, blah.  They encouraged me not to give up hope…again, blah, blah, blah.

My RE said she wanted to consult with the 4 other specialists at her practice about what to do at this point, which brings us to today.  Their “meeting of the minds” took place this morning.  I sat by my phone waiting all day for the call to come in.  For some STUPID reason, up until today, we believed it might be a possibility that we could still proceed with our FET in October. It hadn’t been indefinitely ruled out on Monday…we had left it all hanging on the professional consensus today.

The call finally came around 4 p.m.  The consensus was that not ONE doctor thought we should move forward.  In fact, we won’t be moving forward for quite some time.  In fact, we most likely won’t even be bringing a baby home with us in 2016 at all.  If ever.

The recommendation is for an MRI of the mass next.  This has to be done by some specialist at some hospital.  My RE gave me all the details, none of which I remember any of tonight as I sit here and type this. Originally, I intended on writing things down and asking things during our call today, but none of that happened.  I dropped my pen, listened, and put my hands on my head as I blankly stared into space.

The MRI will rule out a few things (of which I don’t even give a damn enough to get into right now) and depending on the results, the plan of action would go 1 of 3 ways:

  1. Have another operation —looking at springtime for a possible transfer date with this scenario
  2. Lupron suppression for at least 3 months- looking at springtime for a possible transfer date
  3. Gestational Carrier

I guess it was only a matter of time before #3 was thrown directly on the table.  Because at this point, we all know options 1 and 2 may very well fail.  Shit, option 1 already did fail once.  

When she told me I may never have the opportunity to feel life inside me again, I felt all the blood rush through my body. She could barely get the words gestational carrier out…I was pretty much like “go ahead, give it to me.”  I can’t describe how I know I was pulling it out of my RE…I just do.  After 2 years of being in direct contact, I know her and she knows me.  She kept saying how sorry she was.  Yea, us too.  No girl grows up dreaming of IVF, miscarrying, or let alone, a surrogate.

I think this might be one of the hardest posts I have written.  Before writing this, I cried and yelled at my mom on my drive home.  I should add that I only did all this because I know I can let it all out with her.  She tried to tell me it’s not the end of the road, it’s not over, she loved me, and all that.  She tried to support me the best she could.  I mean, really, at this point, who knows what to say to us anymore.  I get it.

I don’t want to hear it’s all okay, because in our world it is not all okay.  There are no rainbows here today, folks.  And yes, you may tell me they are on the way, to keep my faith, and hope…but that doesn’t change today.  Another let down.  Time keeps on passing us by.  It’s been a LONG road and I would like to think we have done OK being patient on it…so I must ask…are you there, God??? Remember me?!?

So, tonight, my husband and I just laid in the dark crying.  All too familiar.  We talked about how we let our hopes get up again, how we feel so lost.  Yet again…  1 step forward…20 back.  There was a lot of silence.  What can we say? I feel like this may be our biggest crossroad yet.  We talked about giving up on all of it.  Who knows.  The conversation ended with how maybe we need to get the hell out of here and go away, from everyone, just the 2 of us.