image: mamabrarian
Calliope over at Creating Motherhood has a beautiful post today making today a day of remembrance for all of us who have lost in life. Her timing is unfortunately perfect as I wait for what would have been our baby to leave the inner sanctum.

Here is my remembrance.

I should have a beautiful four month-old baby right now. It would probably have been a boy if there had been no Turner’s. Maybe I would have gotten the hang of breast-feeding by now and we would be settling into a nice routine. Maybe I would have started back at work, if only part-time. Instead, the room where the nursery should be is still filled with boxes that have no where else to go and the guest bed. The room is dark, unused and neglected.

I should be celebrating a second pregnancy right now, too. Instead, I’m waiting for a natural miscarriage and feeling particularly crampy and cranky.

I cannot verbalize my thoughts to the babies that we have lost here. They are kept locked away, deep inside where they are safe and looked after. But, I do remember them in a tangible way.

Shortly after my first miscarriage, I looked for a piece of jewlery that I could wear that would remind me of our little one. At La Belle Dame, I found the perfect necklace. It brought me a great deal of comfort as I knew that whenever I wore it, our little one would be close to my heart. I wore it a lot after my first miscarriage, but gradually the need to wear it lessened as my heart healed. I brought it out again yesterday because I wanted our first little one close to me as I confirmed that we were losing our second. Unfortunately, my necklace is now for two babies, not one.

I try not to think about the life that could have been. I try not to guess how old babies I see are and calculate how old our little one would have been now. I try to move on.

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Gone, Gone, Gone.

It was as we suspected. The gestational sac hadn’t grown and the yolk sac had actually disappeared. A miscarriage is imminent. No D&C this time, though, as it was so early on – this also means no karyotype. I did talk with Dr. Uterus about why this keeps happening and as I suspected, we just keep getting the bad draw as my first miscarriage was most certainly a random chromosomal event and this was one was likely the same. I told him if he used the “bad draw of the hand” analogy again I would hit him.

Sweetie and I will probably have chromosomal analyses run on our selves just to rule out some weird problems. We don’t anticipate that they will find anything, but it will be worth it to know anyway since that is likely the only testing we can do. I am very lucky that I don’t have uterine abnormalities, luteal phase issues or other problems that are usual causes of miscarriage. I just keep getting smacked upside the head by the roll of the dice.

We will definitely take a minimum three month break. Part of me is sad as it seems like we are giving up, but I know that it is the right thing to do. I actually feel incredibly relieved at the idea of just living for a while. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to completely extricate myself from Dr. Uterus’ grasp since I have to go back for the repeated bloodwork to make sure the HCG quant goes down. Hopefully it won’t take the six weeks it took like time since this pregnancy wasn’t that far along. And, I hope I don’t have a period for 45 freakin’ days straight.

I cried some at his office and I will probably cry some more, but I also was able to have a nice lunch with my friend who came with me. I had prepared for this (although it still hurts).

I am now a member of the even more unenviable club for women with two miscarriages in a row. And still, no baby. It’s unfair and sucky, but I have led an otherwise charmed life. I’m married to a wonderful man, have wonderful friends, wonderful parents, the fluffiest and sweetest animals, a good job, a beautiful home and unlimited access to a pied-a-terre in Paris.

I just also happen to have sucky luck when it comes to reproducing. Just once, I would like to work. Is that too much to ask?

Maybe I should just ask for someone to pass the vino.

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Packing It In

In anticipation of tomorrow’s likely bad news, I’ve begun the process of packing things away. The progesterone and accoutrements have been packed into a box and safely ensconsed on a shelf in the corner of the closet. I shut off the daily alarm on my phone for my PIO shot. I’ll take back my (very full) sharps container to Dr. Uterus’ office for disposal tomorrow.

This time, though, there will be no pictures to deal with, no scans, no notes on heartbeats or calculations of due dates. All of that makes this easier. There will be only small notations in the calendar of dates for tests and procedures. It won’t be like last time.

Last time, I made Sweetie immediately remove the baby name book that we had borrowed from his co-worker. I hid the scan pictures and whited out the weekly notations on how far along I would be for the next month. I wanted no reminder of the bitch slap that I had gotten.

Through these past few days, I’ve been reminded of the poem by W.H. Auden that I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t actually ever read until Four Weddings and a Funeral:

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I feel a certain peace now. As far as I’m concerned, tomorrow is just confirmation of the bad news and the time for starting to move on. I’ve already been through the initial freak out (which always sucks) and am now moving on to the deeper process of grieving another failed pregnancy.

I emailed my dad today to ask him how we move forward. His advice? Take a full year off from trying to conceive, infertility treatments, the works and focus on us, our life outside of infertility (there is such a thing?) and basically recuperating. Initially, a year seemed rather draconian to me, but the idea of time away from Dr. Uterus and the shots, the expense, the inconvenience, the heartache, the waiting, everything IF-related is so tempting and … liberating.

I mentioned it to Sweetie during his daily call and he said that ultimately, it was my call. I don’t think I can wait a whole year. I thought about six months and then three months. I decided that I could do three months and Sweetie was cool with it. So, we decided that if things are as we expect them to be tomorrow, we will take three months off and then re-evaluate. Our little totscicles will wait for us.

In the mean time, we plan to go to Paris in the spring and just enjoy each other. I will continue making the baby quilt for my friend (and learn to quilt at the same time). I will also try to finish a certification process for my job that I have been putting off.

And, we will grieve our second baby. That is all we can do right now.
image: R.I.Pienaar

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Hopes vs. Expectations

image: herby_fr
I’ve been trotting out the line, “I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst” since yesterday, but I have to admit that I’m a bit of a poser on this issue. For me, hoping for the best and expecting the worst is like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time. It’s impossible. I feel the pull of one of the tasks to the detriment of the other. I either hope or I expect. I can’t do both.

What’s worse is that I have these bipolar vacillations between hope and despair. It’s the worst possible roller coaster. I have already consulted Dr. Google and doped up on stories of women who had small gestational sacs and went on to have normal pregnancies.

But, when I start hoping I swing back to expecting the worst.

A River Runs Through, who took this picture above, had a wonderful comment in her notes to the picture: “I knew what to expect, but sometimes expecting the worst, doesn’t prepare one to accept the worst.” Truer words were never spoken.

I am working today (well, trying to) in an attempt at maximum distraction. I also had a lovely dinner last night with my neighbor who went with me yesterday and her husband. I got to snorgle multiple poochies which definitely helped. Sweetie has been calling regularly and will be home tomorrow night. My therapist is on call and my parents are wishing themselves to be magically transported here. I also turned to my best friend who is pregnant (which amazingly so doesn’t bother me right now) and she has been a wonderful source of encouragement and love. My other best friend has been equally supportive. And of course, all of you have provided such wonderful support.

And yet. I still have to get through this on my own because otherwise, I will never be myself again. I know that peace will come because it finally came after my last miscarriage (although the pain will always be there). Grieving, though, is hard work and not particularly fun. To their credit, my beasties have been very loving and have snuggled up with me in bed for purr support.

I’m also looking at adoption … of a furry animal, that is. There is a huge adoption fair this weekend not far from our house. I feel the need for more fur in the house to make up for the lack of the at least one baby we would have had.

I will also fight the urge to once again shake my fist at the sky and scream “why me?”. I know there is no answer. I will also go through all of the reminders of this IVF cycle, like the insurance bills and other documents that will strike me as particularly cruel. I will hear dates in the future and automatically calculate how far along I would have been. I will have to go through the hell all over again.

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Not Looking Good.

I had my appointment with Dr. Uterus and there’s not much good news to report. There is a gestational sac, but it measuring small based upon the date of the embryo transfer. There is also a yolk sac which is measuring on target. And, he couldn’t find the fetal pole. Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the nightmare. I have to go back on Thursday to confirm things because it was such an early scan, but it’s not looking good.

I don’t know how many more times I can have my heart stomped on.

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I haven’t been to the appointment yet. No new news. I just need to blow off some of these thoughts.

** Spotting Watch – nothing really overnight, dark brown this morning. **

image: dieselbug2007I totally rocked the verbal portion of the SATs when I was in high school (math, not so much). I was particularly good at the analogies. I had a particular gift for the subtleties that are involved in these. With this scare and the memories of my last miscarriage resurfacing, I was struck by my own SAT-esque analogy about trying to get pregnant:

Trying to have a baby is like dating.

Here’s the thing. You meet someone for the first time, you’re interested and you think, this is going to be pretty easy. You begin to reveal yourself and slowly open your heart to the person. Sometimes, this happens with little drama and the person accepts your heart as it is with all of its flaws and quirks. Other times, you aren’t so lucky. The person stomps on your heart, and makes you generally wish you hadn’t even started the whole process.

If you are one of the legions to suffer infertility, it would certainly seem like you are already destined to start heading down the second road. That road is cemented when subsequent pregnancies have complications, or worse, ends in miscarriage or still birth (with or without infertility preceeding it). As much as infertility, experiencing a pregnancy that does not end happily is, as far as I’m concerned, the equivalent of getting your heart stomped on.

But, as humans have realized and written about for millenia, you have to put it out there, you have to try, otherwise, you will never even have a chance at the happiness that could result.

There is the inclination, however, to retain some of your heart the next time around to try to prevent the full effect of a subsequent stomping. I have definitely tried to do that here, but I can’t help but miss the full effect of letting go with the innocent assumption that you will be caught while you are falling.

image: Vicki’s Pics

Very Scared.

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but this one has not turned out that way. I started spotting yesterday (very light brown) which stopped and then started again (this time pink) then stopped and started again (this time darker brownish red) and then it stopped again and the last wipe revealed light brown. To say that I am freaking out would be an understatement. I never had spotting of any kind with my last pregnancy (which was why the Ultrasound of Doom was such a shock). So, even though it is very common, it’s not common for me. I now dread going to the bathroom.

To make matters worse, I won’t be able to see Dr. Uterus until tomorrow morning. I was able to talk to him this morning and he was quite reassuring, but nothing short of an ultrasound showing everything as fine and the spotting as just some random event that will I finally be able to take a breath.

(He also knows me very well which was illustrated by his comment, “Don’t jump to conclusions.” This is like telling me not to think, but I will do my best.)

Please, please, please send me good thoughts and help me get through the wait until I can get some answers. I am terrified.

Wherefore Art Thou, Mrs. X?

image: notanartist
I have felt very much out to lunch these past few days. Between distractions and complete exhaustion, the best I could muster the other day was a paraphrasing of Sweetie. His man-musings are good filler, but let’s face it, he’s not the one writing this blog. I am. So, I’ll see if I can step up to the plate.

I think I have turned the corner on my anxiety, no doubt in part to just being plain tired of being anxious. It takes so much out of you that unless you are prepared to really expend a lot of energy, it’s not sustainable. Since I can’t abuse alcohol, drugs or caffeine (yes, I include chocolate in this category), I had to address my anxiety head-on or continue to suffer anxiety and the utter exhaustion that it brings. Sweetie, and one of his man-musings actually got me over the hump. I asked him if he was worried about the scan next week and he very quickly and decisively said, “no.” His theory: there’s not much we can do about it and so worrying isn’t very productive. This is the lesson that I have spent the last 32 years trying to learn (and obviously, still haven’t completely internalized).

I realized that a lot of my anxiety is trying to avoid another suckerpunch like the one I got last time. I figured if I prepared myself that it wouldn’t hurt as much. I’ve tried this in the work context and it doesn’t work, so I don’t know why I suddenly had delusions that it would work in this situation (actually it is yet another manifestation of my need to control EVERYTHING that happens to me). I’ve prepared the best way I know how and now I will just sit back and enjoy the weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, the man and I are hitting the road, taking a jetliner, getting out of dodge, etc for the weekend. We had this trip planned for about a month now and it turns out to be spectactularly timed for purposes of maximum distraction. We will be seeing his family (who I lurve) and enjoying that mellow feeling you get when you are at someone else’s house and they don’t expect you to do a damn thing other than sit with them and talk. I plan to catch up on my magazine reading (back issues of numerous magazines are strewn about my office and staring accusingly at me that I haven’t molested their pages at least once since they arrived), work on my cross-stitch (the project I was going to finish in November), and avoid thinking the big P word at all. It helps that the rels don’t know and we won’t be telling them. image: rah77az

I’m also going to use this weekend as the opportunity to take a minor and short hiatus from the blogosphere. I will return when I have news. In the mean time, remember to play nicely with everyone, don’t run with scissors and whatever you do, make sure you do something I wouldn’t do.

Kisses, Mrs.X

The Silly Boy Award

Sweetie earned the title of Silly Boy today in a phone conversation we had about my PIO injections. Ever since I have been doing them, he keeps me company in the bedroom. Originally, he was there in case of some dire emergency where I was unable or unwilling to go through with the final poke. Now he’s just there because it’s nice to have him with me and we get to catch up on things while I poke myself. He also helps me keep track of which side’s night it is – left or right?

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: I can’t remember if it’s a left night or a right night.

Sweetie: Well, obviously neither side can be hurting that much anymore if you can’t remember which side it is.

Me: They both hurt! That’s why I can’t remember!

Sweetie: Oh.

Oh, indeed.

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“You Made My Mascara Run!”

image: tanakawho
Thanks to everyone for their lovely comments to my last post. (PJ – I inadvertently rejected your comment when I meant to accept it. Sorry!) You are all correct that I need to just focus on the present and practice some mammoth distraction techniques. It’s a shame, really, though, that I need to use mammoth distraction techniques rather than allowing myself to be joyful. I just don’t think I have reached that point yet. Frankly, I don’t know if I will ever reach it. I do know that I miss the innocence that I had last time. I knew the statistics, but I was fairly confident that we would be in the 90% who go on to a successful delivery after hearing the heartbeat. We heard it twice and still lost our baby. That experience taught me a very important lesson about odds: they don’t mean shit. Statistics are a crude way of giving clinical meaning to important events. The insurance industry is built upon statistical chances, but it’s no way to live in real life. If I only looked at the statistics, would I have still done IVF? Would I have tried to get pregnant again? I don’t know. I made both of those decisions based upon how I felt, not what numbers told me.

So now, the odds that a woman who miscarries once will go on to have a successful pregnancy 85% of the time doesn’t really mean much to me because I have been on the winning and losing end of the stats. I know in my heart of hearts that what will be will be and the control freak in me can’t do anything to change it at this point, so there is no purpose in worrying about the heartache that might come. Worrying about it doesn’t make it any easier than if you are completely taken by surprise with bad news.

While I don’t think I can be joyful yet (or as my friend put it, we haven’t reached “woo!”), I can actively not worry either. I can just exist. And visit to see adorable pictures like this:

If this can’t make things all right, nothing can.
My zen attitude has already been put to the test, though. I realized this weekend that Sweetie will be out of town the week I have my first OB scan. He’s on a business trip that has been scheduled for some time and he can’t reschedule. Dr. Uterus’ office gave me the option of waiting until the next week, but my need to know sooner is greater than my need to have him there. That may sound harsh, but I prefer to get my news (good or bad) as quickly as possible.

This of course left me with a Class A Dilemma. Should I go by myself? I went to my Last OB Scan of Doom by myself because we didn’t think there was going to be much drama and it was right after vacation (so Sweetie needed to show his cherubic face at the office). Of course, it turned into the OB Scan of Doom. It was horrible. It was up there in the top 3 worst days of my life and I went through it by myself. By the way, I have no ill-will toward Sweetie about this. Neither of us had a clue and if we had, he would have certainly been there.

All this past weekend I vacillated between “yes, I can do this by myself” to “no, there is no way I can do this by myself.” I hinted to my mom that it I wanted her to fly here for the appointment but she’s not available. I asked my neighbor down the street who went through IVF, but she’s working. I had one option left: my other neighbor (no, not nosy lady) who I’m still becoming good friends with.

I had told her briefly that we were going through IVF and bless her, she didn’t really ask for details. It was one of those, if you want to, you’ll tell me, otherwise we’ll talk about how adorable my dogs are (and they are). I was kind of afraid to ask her to go with me because it’s a very private moment and we haven’t known each other for more than 10 months or so.

I finally decided today that I really wanted someone there with me who cared about me and could handle the good and the bad. I called her and told her that I need to ask for a really big favor. I told her that I was pregnant and asked if she would go with me to the scan since Sweetie will be out of town. Her immediate response: “Absolutely!”. I was so relieved and grateful that I had someone who was willing to do this for me and be there with me. I thanked her profusely and she told me, “You’re making my mascara run!”

I’m not nearly as worried now because no matter what happens, I have a really good friend with me. And, I’m even luckier since I have all of you as well. Now my mascara is beginning to run.

image: DanAllison