My Due Date and What I Got Instead

On Sunday, March 3, 2013 I got my first positive pregnancy test. There was joy. There was apprehension. A natural pregnancy after trying for over a year and just 2 weeks after our first meeting with a reproductive endocrinologist. Read about all that.  I went to see my doctor, she agreed I was in fact pregnant, patted me on the head and sent me on my way with a piece of paper indicating that my due date was somewhere around November 9-11, 2013.

November 10-11, 2013. So…..now.

Nearing the end of March I started spotting and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I wrote about it here and afterwards we embarked on the quest that brings us to present day.

My husband and I talked this past weekend and I told him that when I woke up Saturday it occurred to me that we would have been due this weekend.  He said, “wow, things sure would have been alot different.”

And it dawned on me: Things ARE alot different.

While we aren’t sitting here with a baby (which yeah, wouldn’t that be nice), alot of good has come:

1) I started blogging and the act of writing has been hugely cathartic. It’s been an amazing way to process my feelings during what could be an overwhelming time.

2) I started tweeting under my blog’s name. Between the blog and the tweets, I’ve found a supportive and vast online community of ladies going through exactly what I’m going through. I can reach out to folks and ask questions, seek advice, compare experiences, etc. I am so thankful for these ladies (and a few gents) who I will likely never meet.

3) I’ve learned that I can give myself lots and lots of shots (to date it’s in the area of 118, one IUI with follistim and 2 IVFs with follistim/menopur,lupron/progesterone). I feel pretty kickass about this and very empowered. Read about my thoughts on needles. I mean, you want me to give myself a shot right now? Name it: where you want me to do it, I’ll do it. Want me to give you a shot? I’ll do it.

4) My husband and I have gotten through all of this. Period. And I’d bet money on the fact that we’re better.

5) We’re now serious about adoption, which while it seems über daunting, also excites me. Even if I do get pregnant this current IVF, adoption could still be a likely scenario for us: we both have siblings and feel they’re pretty important. If our little one’s to have a sibling, it could very likely end up that adoption’s our route.

6) I learned that IVF can be a positive experience. It can be. For me it is not at all the horror story I’ve read about for years in the media. I know IVF isn’t nice to everyone. Some ladies have a terrible time with the hormones, there can be alot of expectations and emotions, doctors can be brusk, nurses can say things or look at you in ways you don’t like. HOWEVER, it’s different for everyone and you don’t know what it’ll be like for you until you start – try to go in expecting the best instead of the worst.

7) I now know more about what it takes to make a baby than friends I know who’ve actually HAD babies. For real. It’s an effing miracle ANYONE EVER gets pregnant with all the stuff that needs to happen for eggs and sperm to come together in a perfect chemical mix in the perfect uterine environment during a tiny narrow window of monthly fertility that the little egg’s even viable.  FUCKING MIRACLE.

8) I’ve learned alot about supplements and foods that are good for fertility. I’ve found people who are knowledgable about supplements and are good enough to write about them: InfertileChemist, I’m looking at you http://infertilechemist.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/supplements-part-i-dhea/#comment-1173   The CCRM website is also good for this:http://www.colocrm.com/FertilitySupplements.aspx   (There’s also alot of bullshit out there so you really just have to do the best you can with all of it).  Me? I took wheatgrass for a long time (my RE asked me to let that one go once we started IVF), but I still take: CoQ10, Royal Jelly, PreNatals…recently I’ve added Pycnogenol and a little extra Vitamin C.  As for food, I try to eat plenty of protein, vegetables, whole grains…..in particular lots of blueberries, chia seeds, avocado, yams if you can find them…..watch your caffeine and booze (some REs say absolutely none and others say moderation) and I’ve tried to cut out processed foods and am watching sugar….which is my kryptonite.

9) I’ve joined a support group and get to look into the eyes of other ladies who are struggling. We share stories and there are knowing nods. We learn from each other. It took a long time for me to take this step, but I did when the time was right and I’m very happy I did. We’re all in different places, trying different things, but we help each other.

10) I still have my hope.

There’s likely much more that I haven’t put my finger on, but one newish friend gave me advice a few months ago that I now carry with me every day:

We now live in a time that if you really want a family, there are so many ways that it can happen: pregnancy, IUI/IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy, fostering, adoption, etc. You may not know right now how your child will come to you, but you have to believe that they will come to you somehow.

So while I didn’t get my due date, and I am still waiting for our little bundle to show up, I really did get a whole lot more.

(But little peanut for reals, you can show up any old time now).

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The double-edged sword of “What If.”

WHAT IF can keep you dwelling on the past, treading water, living with regret.  But, WHAT IF can also propel you forward, risking steps into unknown territory, creating possibility.

We hear it all the time:

WHAT IF I’d caught that bus instead of just missing it?

WHAT IF I’d gotten that promotion?

WHAT IF I hadn’t spilled coffee on my blouse?

What if?

Well…..

What if I hadn’t gotten pregnant in February?

What if I hadn’t had that miscarriage in March?

What if that first IVF would have worked?

But I did, and I did, and well, it didn’t.  But I at least got to show my husband a positive pregnancy test and share that joy, and because of that miscarriage I saw a new depth of compassion in my husband and our marriage is stronger because we weathered that storm together, and due to that first IVF kapootzing I know what coming at this next time. I mean, I’m real good at giving myself shots, y’all.

What if I try to look for opportunity instead of failure when things go an unexpected or unwanted way?  What if I look forward instead of back.

Dwelling on the failure aspects of these questions for a few minutes here and there is one thing, but giving hours or weeks to them means that I’m treading water: these events are behind me and I can’t manipulate them into something they aren’t because I didn’t get what I wanted.

Is that it? Is that why we live with regret? Is it because we didn’t get our way?

Well I didn’t get my way. It sucks. I’m disappointed. I hate it.

And what about:

What if I’d met my husband when I was younger?

What if I’d never moved to Chicago?

What if my parents hadn’t divorced when I was 13?

Well then I’d be someone else, right? And I don’t really want to be someone else.  I mean I wish my thighs were less ample, there were a few dudes that I should’ve known better about way sooner, and of course there were some key times when I wish I’d just kept my big mouth shut, but other than that….I’m doing okay.

What if….can create opportunity and excitement.

I mean, What If I get pregnant this next IVF? What if I book a national commercial? What if my husband gets a new job and we move?

Yes, in my past there’s been heartache and worry and regret. I have mourned, I have grieved, I have given energy to negativity. And then those events gradually move from being my present into being my past.

Because what if something is coming that i need to be ready for?

What if I shut myself off and I’m not even watching?

What if I MISS SOMETHING?

I miscarried in March but don’t really know how far along I’d be if I was still pregnant. I know when I was due and when that day comes I’m curious as to how I’ll feel. My miscarriage was early at 7 weeks, but I was definitely attached and devastated when it ended.  But I can’t keep something alive that isn’t. I lost that baby because that baby wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t do anything wrong – didn’t drink a 5th of Jack or compete in a rodeo pogostick contest. I rested. I ate well. I took very good care of myself. It just stopped growing, likely due to chromosomal issues. For me to dwell on “What If I was still pregnant” is a delay of game on what still lies ahead of me.  I’d be investing my energy on something I can’t change rather than taking steps towards making the future what I want.

And that brings us to a “What If” I’ve recently chosen for myself:

What if I change my attitude towards pregnant ladies? For awhile I felt like I was encountering them everywhere as if the universe was mocking me, putting something in my path that I couldn’t have for myself, making me have rain when I wanted sunshine.

But WHAT IF the universe is simply pointing out what I myself will someday be.  WHAT IF the universe is providing me with a fashion show of how I should and should not dress myself as a pregnant lady?  WHAT IF I need to keep seeing the joy because seeing the joy makes me feel a lot better than seeing the regret.

And:WHAT IF I never get pregnant?

But, What If I do….

What if, right?

What if.

Up to now Part 3: There you have it

We decided to move forward pretty quickly following the miscarriage. One last thing about that –  prior to getting pregnant I had read, “Don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant who you’re not comfortable telling you’ve miscarried.”   Thank goodness we only told a couple of people…not only did we avoid having to awkwardly tell a mess of folks that we were back to the drawing board, but more importantly, as excited as your dearest friends are for you that you’re pregnant, they also know just how to help you when you’re not.

I called The Russian.  Having just been ready to start IVF 7 weeks prior I suddenly found myself NOT ready to start IVF, and while I played with the idea of trying naturally for awhile (especially since I’d gotten pregnant naturally) the doc and I agreed that that route had delay of game potential and that it was time to get aggressive.  “Vee share the same goal and that is for you to leave vith a baby.”  The Russian is wise.

I did 6 cycles of Clomid last year and felt like Clomid could go F itself.  We opted for Folistim and an IUI.  I can’t say that I was excited to go the IUI route again, but I needed a middle ground between going natural and going full science…..and this was The Russian, not the old codger at the other clinic….so it was worth a shot.

Speaking of shots, I’d given myself the Ovidrel trigger last summer (fyi, Ovidrel mimics your natural hormonal surge that tells your body to ovulate) so it wasn’t exactly my first rodeo.  And, I’m enough of a tech nerd to dig the Follistim pen. That. Thing. Is. Cool.

1) It does all the work for ya.

2) it comes in a groovy little case

and

3) the needles are stupid sharp so it really doesn’t hurt but a smidge (allowing for the fact that everyone’s different, no judgment and my apologies if yours hurt like the dickens).

So I do the injections, I give blood, I have ultrasounds, I have one follicle kicking ass and 1 other likely to catch up by IUI time.  I trigger, we go to the office, while we’re waiting for things to process, we go out to breakfast nearby at a Denny’s that coincidentally has 30-40 members of a senior citizen Harley-Davidson club carb-loading for a big ride.  We head back to the office, I get the IUI and we wait.

Again with the waiting.

Alas, I get my period a few days before I was even supposed to go into the office for testing so we’re out of the game again.

This time though, I’m ready for IVF.

We sign a mess of papers, we get walked through a calendar of events and I start taking birth control pills to suppress my system before jacking it back up for the scientific magic making.

It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. And it’s a secret from almost everyone I know.

Up to now Part 2: Not So Fast, Tiger

I was waiting for my period so I could start the IVF process, when instead I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test, by which I mean three pregnancy tests (they’re like Lay’s potato chips, you can never have just one). The doc confirmed it the next day. A few weeks passed and I noticed a few symptoms here and there, mainly that the extra progesterone made me super sleepy and that I was finally getting a decent pair of knockers.  We were stunned and happy.

And then the bottom dropped out.

At about 7 weeks I started spotting. Serendipitously, we had our first ultrasound scheduled for the next day so I called them and they happened to have an opening in an hour, so I hopped a cab and hustled over. The doctor could not have been nicer – things measured far too small and there was no cardiac activity, so he felt very strongly that I was in fact having a miscarriage. (I saw him a week later to confirm).

The cab ride home, in retrospect, was cinematic and amazing. Imagine if you will: a grey March day, melodramatic music plays in the background, a lady sits in the backseat of a cab, eyes staring resolutely out the window, her jaw clenched, salty tears streaming down her face. Parker Posey would play me in the movie.

I got home and had a few hours before my husband got home from work, which may have been the hardest, but this allowed me to get out most of those ugly crazy-lady tears by myself. Now ladies (and gentlemen?), we’ve all had them, those ugly ugly farcical boo hoo tears…..the close to hyperventilating, sad sack, feeling way too sorry for yourself cries where tears spring forth Looney Toons style from your tear ducts with such force that they actually don’t even hit your face.

But man those cries are therapeutic.

Thankfully, my window of irrational self-loathing was very narrow. No matter how sad or hurt I’ve been in life, there’s always been the tiny voice that eventually speaks up to remind me that poop occurs.

Physically, it hurt like a mother, so I hit the ibuprofen and pretty much gaffer-taped a heating pad to my gut – but I was so relieved that my body took care of the process and I didn’t have to have a doctor help it along. Luckily, I had nothing on my schedule so I just loaded myself up with good books and bad movies, laid around and let it happen.

I will spare you the physical details but suffice it to say, I got herculean cramps that felt like a legion of tiny coked-up gnomes were grabbing ahold of my innards and playing a rousing game of whack-a-mole.

A few days on the air started to clear, I cried a little less, felt lots better and my husband did the best thing for me: in the morning he simply said, “okay, we’re getting out of bed and we’re starting our day. Come on, let’s go.”

A few days later I called The Russian and we started talking about what to do next.