Life, love, and loss. My journey to become a mother...

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all" - Emily Dickenson

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking a Step Forward

This past weekend was equal parts lovely and difficult.  I headed home to throw a baby shower for my sister.  It would be the first time I would see her since she found out she was pregnant and even though I was excited, I also felt a lot of anxiety.  Seeing her adorably round belly was like coming face to face with everything I've lost, and everything I've been wanting and reaching for, but haven't been able to touch.  She found out she was pregnant less than two weeks after my first miscarriage.  So, even though I can look at her and see everything good that is to come from becoming an auntie...I also look at her and see what could have been, and that is hard.  It was an emotional weekend to say the least.  I found the hardest part of the shower was the gift opening and seeing all the adorable baby clothes and gear, but I made it through relatively unscathed.

It really was nice to see and talk to my sister and catch up. We also got to celebrate my husband's birthday with a lot of my family, which was wonderful.

This week, I made an appointment to see my doctor in November. I'm feeling more ready to talk about the next steps and where we go from here.  I am also realizing that, based on abdominal pain I've been having, there's not a lot of time to play with before my endometriosis and adhesions start coming back full force.  I assume it will still be a month or two before we would be able to start trying again.  That should give us enough time to get any necessary testing done and get a plan in place.  Part of me wants to just take a step out in faith and forget all the doctors and medications and try one more time and see what happens.  Does that make me crazy?

I think part of the reason I've not been wanting to go on to this next step is that I don't want to go through all this testing and be told that it's just not going to happen or that IVF is our only option.  IVF costs an average of $10,000 to $15,000 PER treatment and that is just not feasible for us right now.  What good would it do to empty our life savings on one chance to "try" to get pregnant (there is no guarantee after all) when there'd be no money left over for a baby? I really find it irritating that more insurance companies don't cover fertility treatments. Especially in the case of my insurance, which will cover breast enhancement surgery or other cosmetic procedures.  Really.  They will give me bigger boobs but will not help me have a baby.  It kind of makes me want to stab someone.  (I won't though. I promise.) 

So, in two-ish weeks, I should have a better idea of what happens next and we'll see about getting this party started again.  All things considered, I feel pretty good about taking this step forward and am actually looking forward to my appointment.

I'll close with this poem (I'm not sure it's actually a poem, but I can't think of a better word.) that I came across recently.

Nobody knew you
“Sorry about the miscarriage dear, but you couldn’t have been very far along.”
Nobody knew you
“It’s not as though you lost an actual person.”
…were real
Nobody knew you
“Well it probably wasn’t a viable fetus.  It’s all for the best.”
…were perfect.
Nobody knew you
“You can always have another!”
…were unique.
Nobody knew you
“You should be thankful for all the other blessings you have.”
…were loved beyond measure.
Nobody knew you
…but us.
And we will always remember

- by Jan Cosby

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

The last year has been an eventful one, and my has it flown by.  A little over a year ago, right around the time of our first anniversary, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family.  If only it were as easy as just making that decision.  If only...

Six weeks after we started "trying", I had to have my fourth surgery (laparoscopy), to remove an endometrioma from my ovary.  Endometriomas are complex cysts that grow on the ovaries and are filled with blood.  They typically do not resolve on their own like simple ovarian cysts tend to do.  The doctor found some endometriosis and a lot of adhesions (scar tissue) and removed it all.  The doctor said we needed to wait one full cycle after the surgery before we started to try again.

After a few more unsuccessful cycles, a friend of mine gave me her copy of the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  This book changed my life, and I firmly believe that every woman should read it.  There is so much more that goes into this whole process than what they teach you in 8th grade health class.  So, I entered our fifth month of trying to have a baby armed with a lot of new, and kind of spectacular, information.  Then, on a Sunday night in March, after I nearly fell asleep at Old Chicago while we were eating with our church friends and then proceeded to have a mental/emotional breakdown over some irrelevant commercial, I took a pregnancy test.  I sat in stunned silence as I watched two pink lines appear.  I was in complete and utter disbelief.  I mean, I dreamed of this happening.  I imagined it and prayed for it, but there was nothing I could have done that would have truly prepared me for this moment.  My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I walked out into the living room and handed the test to Matt.  I started crying and he started laughing.  These tears...these were the best tears I've ever cried.  I had never felt such joy in my life.  I was pregnant, and I couldn't have been more thrilled to be a mother.

The next morning I went to my doctor's office to confirm the pregnancy with a blood test.  The doctor went over some do's and don'ts with me and then told me she'd call me with the test results within two days.  Before I even got the test results back, I started to have some bleeding and though my doctor assured me it wasn't abnormal for that to happen in the first trimester, I just knew.  I knew something wasn't right.  My blood work confirmed I was pregnant, but also confirmed that things weren't progressing as they should be.  By the same time the following week, I was no longer pregnant.  It was like I'd been kicked in the gut.  How cruel it is to think your dreams are coming true, only to have them ripped away so quickly.  I was slightly comforted by the fact that miscarriage in early pregnancy is very common and also took comfort in the fact that I did get pregnant.  My doctor said we could start trying again right away since it happened so early.

It was June, and I just found out that I was pregnant again.  I was happy, but this time it was different.  With the joy also came fear and uncertainty.  I don't think I'd ever prayed so hard and so desperately in all my life.  Please let this be it.  Please let everything be OK.  I went in for more blood work and this time the doctor checked my progesterone levels too because I had been bleeding off and on since before I even found out I was pregnant.  The test showed my progesterone was low, so the doctor put me on Prometrium pills.  The results of my other blood test appeared to indicate that things, again, weren't progressing as they should.  The doctor had me wait a week and then come back for more blood work.  (Your HcG level should at least be doubling every two days.)  Those results showed that my level doubled, but barely.  More blood work was ordered for the following week, and with those results came the crushing news that this would not turn out the way we hoped.  This would not be a viable pregnancy.  The baby was just not growing as it should.  A week later, and after a short hospital stay due to complications from the pregnancy, I had a natural miscarriage.  

We took a couple of months to grieve, heal, and consult with a new doctor.  I was diagnosed with a luteal phase defect.  To overcome this, my new doctor prescribed progesterone that I was to start taking after ovulation.  I would remain on this medication for something like 16 days, unless I became pregnant, in which case I would remain on the medication through the first trimester.  It was great to feel like we had an answer to the problem and the medication to help.  It was September, and our first cycle trying since the miscarriage in June.  I had to take a pregnancy test in order to know if I should stop taking the progesterone.  Positive!  "This is it!", I thought to myself.  I told Matt I was going to run to the store for coffee creamer and while I was out, I picked up a little pair of baby booties and a bib that said, "I love my daddy."  I wrapped them up to give to him as a gift when I got home.  I wanted to tell him in a special way...I wanted this moment to be a purely happy one, not overshadowed by doubt and fear.  We had been through so much already, and I felt so good about the fact that I started the medication and it seemed to be working.  (I wasn't bleeding like I had before.)  If only...

A little over a week later, I miscarried again.  I was devastated.  I was desperate to understand why I was going through this, but, I will never really know.  There are some answers we just don't get to have.  The progesterone did what it was supposed to.  My doctor was extremely pleased with my medicated progesterone levels and suspects there's an issue other than the luteal phase defect that is causing the miscarriages.  When it comes to miscarriages, three is the magic number with most doctors.  So, since it's been a year since we started trying and we've had three unsuccessful pregnancies in that time, my doctor will be sending us to a fertility specialist.  There are several tests that will need to be done before we can start trying again and I'm really not quite ready for all of that.  We are giving ourselves a little time, however long it takes, to be ready for this next step.  

With this journey has come more emotional and physical pain than I could have fathomed, but it hasn't been all bad.  We still do our best to live each day with love and laughter, though, some days that's easier than others.  And in the past year, even with all the bad that came, I got to experience those moments of sheer joy and wonder and, if only for a fleeting moment, I knew what it felt like to be a mother.  To worry about your child, to love your child, to dream of what the future holds for your child...I got to experience all of that.  If only for a moment.