another day

April 7, 2015 — the day we said goodbye to Molly. Three years past, and I haven’t moved on. It’s commonly thought that the way you go forward from a termination for medical reasons is that you get pregnant and have a healthy baby, and that hasn’t happened for us. Three years of mourning and it still feels like yesterday. I remember so vividly feeling Geoff’s tears run down my legs as he rested his head in my lap and we played You Are My Sunshine on a music box set on my slightly bulging belly and listened to her heartbeat one last time on my at-home doppler. I can still feel that wrenching feeling in my heart and it is physically painful so I wrap my little cat up in my arms and pull him in close.

The only thing that comforted me after the procedure was the thought that things just had to get better. That didn’t happen either. I’ve endured terrible hardships since then, so many that I can’t help but feel cursed and spat upon. I’ve had enough miscarriages that I don’t even remember those anniversaries anymore, although those four spirit babies will never be forgotten, as briefly as their light once shined inside me. Geoff and I will celebrate them all on the 7th. We’ll make cake and we will remember.

The distance between me and my loved ones has become so vast, almost infinite. I talk to my own mother on the telephone and feel like I’m shouting across a chasm with the wind whistling through it. I cry often. I never go out.

I have to close this chapter of my life soon. I woke up this morning feeling inexplicably cheerful and grounded but as the day wears on I feel myself sinking again. I’ve ceased feeling guilty for my past indiscretions, feeling that I have to have paid the price by now. Three years of unimaginable suffering. I’ve suffered enough.

*******

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waiting for the impossible, waiting for a phone call

And these children that you spit on as they try to change their world are immune to your consultations; they’re quite aware what they’re going through….”

I remember being young and beautiful and furious at the unfairness of the world. I remember feeling the energy that flowed and sparked through my experiences, my mind racing with ideas and idealism as my neurons fired randomly and I, only one marginalized young girl, examined every facet of identity to get even the slightest toehold in the cruel society that viewed me as crazy.

I was always different. I had strong opinions on politics and philosophy but they were silenced by each unrelated insult hurled my way by my peers. My face is too long, my head freakishly large, my calves too bulky from years of horseback riding. Ching chong, they whispered at me, pulling at their blue eyes to mimic my near-black Asian ones. One boy called me, “that ugly black thing”, said it loud and proud right there in a junior high cafeteria in liberal Massachusetts as the student body laughed and cheered. When I was a girl, no one allowed any physical attribute to pass without criticism.

The electricity running through me led to irritability and eventually rage. My youthful idealism slipped into a morass of self-loathing. I resented that I was wasting my childhood and informed voice just in constantly asserting my basic right to exist.

Over the years, I was assigned various diagnoses to explain how an intelligent mind could be so corrupted by illness and hatred, and I became invisible for many a lonely year, tucked away from the innocent pretty white girls in hospitals and institutions.

Unexpectedly, I emerged from chrysalis and became a stunning twenty-something. Old pictures I keep stashed away revealed the form of the most fertile looking woman you could imagine, slender with wide childbearing hips. I chose to focus on my art and addictions, rage still simmering beneath the surface but sublimated by my coyness and deliberate flirtatiousness. I wasted years chasing closed off men, men who were abusive and dangerous, or just plain empty with nothing left inside to give.

When I met Geoff, the electricity flowed again. My terror of being unable to sleep dissipated — if I was tossing and turning and tormented, I could just think about him: our first date, the first time he kissed me. Those first nights we spent in his bed, in the pitch dark because he was self-conscious about his skinny body. I would drift off with a smile on my lips, and still do.

Is it possible to find that happiness again? Our only crime is wanting a child, and that deep longing persists even though our odds are astronomically low. Can we find happiness together again even if we lose this raging battle against biology?

I think we can. Our hearts are shattered by RPL, but hardship has made me love him more than I ever dreamed possible. I am lucky that every night, I fall exhausted and broken into our bed next to him and every morning I reach for him and he is still solid and real.

But I want that baby that was promised us by past narrative, that first positive pregnancy test that became our Molly. I really believed it would result in a living baby, who I could see growing into a child that would change both our world anf the world at large. I would not have dismissed her ideals the way society dismissed my own. I would nurture her dreams and not impose limits.

We have clearly suffered greatly, and are waiting for a miracle that probably won’t happen.

Still waiting on tenterhooks for beta results. I’m sure they’ve dropped since my bleed, but I really would like to know the values so I can plot out this next cycle. I’ll keep you all posted.

*******

My beta is 12, down from 47. It’s a big load off my mind that it’s dropping, but I wish it would hurry the fuck up.

must be some way outta here

The apartment is silent. I’ve stopped bleeding, but I’m still on the couch with my heating pad and little cat, wondering about how random the universe is and if things will ever get better for me. It’s silly, but I wish my mom were here with me — she’s shown zero empathy for my losing babies, but I want her nonetheless. I’m almost forty, longing for the assurances that only come with youth.

Rolling through my head in a loop, I think of every fucked up thing I’ve ever done, every indiscretion, wondering which one I’m being punished for. I’m waiting for my clinic to call with the beta results from my draw this morning. I’d so much rather they come in via web portal; I hate answering the phone and am not in the mood for phony sympathy from the nurse. My insurance won’t be covering this bloodwork but what’s another bill? I feel like I’ve been wronged by everything, and I am tired of feeling like a victim of circumstance.

It’s all wrong, everything is wrong; I try to remember the last time I felt okay. I wasn’t always like this you know. When I snap at others, the unasked question floats in the air between us — what happened to make you like this? When I do tell my story, their eyes glaze over, become glassy and they seek escape. This is too much, they’re thinking, I can’t handle all of this bullshit.

I get through the days, writing my immediate feelings here and working on more polished writing in the interim. I read a lot as well, and procrastinate it all by visiting IF forums. My days are devoted to words, as I scramble to find a way out of the morass of my life. Solitude suits me right now, but I am also lonely.

Five dead babies. One shattered heart.

too many questions

These Parkland kids are really making me want a child, so badly it hurts my heart. I’m so proud of what they’re doing. It took me a couple days to realize why I felt so sad following the news this past weekend. I long to have a child of my own that I can be proud of — of course, if they inherit my mental illness(es) they may hit a rough patch or two but I believe those with mentally illnesses can make a powerful difference, even if it’s only sharing their stories.

Am I crazy? I don’t want to end up an old lady still mourning a family that couldn’t be. If I throw in the towel, I want to be sure I can move on and not spend the rest of my life sad and full of rage. I’ve read stuff by infertile couples who have chosen to be childfree and many say they don’t even want children any more because their lives are so full. Being disabled and wracked with schizoaffective disorder, being scared of everything from airplanes (many say they’ve found travelling so rewarding now that they’ve made a choice), to sharks (I used to love the ocean), to driving (how can I be independent?) to creepy-crawlies (I am terrified to go anyplace that may have a lot of bugs)…how can I imagine a full life? Am I always going to be this fearful?

I have to think about these things, even if I am still foolishly chasing a dream that is in all probability an illusion. It ties my stomach in knots just to think about stopping, even though two failed pregnancies ago I felt like I was ready. I’m so scared biology has already taken my power of choice.

dull.

I feel nothing but inexplicable physical pain. My periods are not like this — I don’t usually even have cramps. The lab opens at 8am, what a hassle it is to go talk to the nosy phlebotomist about loss and procedures that are not on the table for us. I hate her, I think. She can bear the brunt of my rage.

Maybe I do feel something inside. I shouldn’t have read those books about miscarriage as both of them basically said the prognosis was decent for everyone but me. It’s not like I never knew that, but it cast a shade over everything. What the fuck am I thinking, putting my husband and I through this seemingly never-ending hell of loss and infertility? Maybe I’m overmedicated — I just feel so numb, an automoton that reaches for a thermometer before she opens her eyes everyday, pops pills, and refuses to leave the safety of her home.

What the fuck am I thinking?

*******

The nosy phlebotomist never showed up. Aside from being nosy, she is also the only phlebotomist. So much for that…there are other labs but I don’t care enough to go to one. I shall go tomorrow, if it strikes my fancy.

Maybe this very early loss wasn’t chromosomal? Maybe my uterus is just fucked up after my d&c and there was some sort of implantation failure? Who knows, who cares. I can hope it’s not aneuploidy, which would increase my odds of having another miscarriage — but once I get to the big 4-0 in July, I have a 50% chance of miscarriage just factoring in advanced maternal age, and not factoring in my history of pregnancy loss which at this point is becoming fairly extensive.

In Coming to Term, which of course is out of date, the author says that live birth rates for RPL ladies improve simply by receiving supportive care (frequent visits with the doctor, learning relaxation techniques and mindfulness, etc.). Now I feel like punching everyone who has informed me that stress causes miscarriage, but for me “stress” means full blown panic and panic attacks, heart pounding and inability to breathe all day, so it’s hard not to wonder if this has an deleterious effects on my pregnancies. Of course, babies are conceived and birthed in war zones and the stress of early pregnancy after loss, or even early pregnancy after several losses, is not going to impact an inherently chromosomally abnormal embryo that has been doomed from the moment sperm fertilized the egg. In that case, stress or no stress means diddely-squat.

I wonder about my first miscarriage after losing Molly, the one we didn’t test the chromosomes for. I was in a sheer panic the whole nine weeks, gasping for breath, feeling my heart flutter ominously, unable to eat or sleep or do much more than listening to cheesy guided meditations to pass the horrible hours. I was abruptly changing my medications as well…I remember trying to sign release papers to allow my psychiatrist to consult with my psychiatric obstetrician and I screwed up the paperwork three times before finally going to Outpatient Psychiatry and having them walk me through it — I was so panicked I literally could not figure out how to complete the simple forms correctly. Was all that anxiety the cause of that particular miscarriage, and not aneuploidy? I’ll never know, but secretly suspect it had some effect.

The point is, I am not going to receive any sort of supportive care to help me carry to term if my ovaries ever spit out a good egg. I like my OB, but I’m just another number at The Baby Factory, my therapist is awesome but I feel she doesn’t know how to handle the emotions that come up in pregnancy after RPL, and my psychiatrist has bubbles for brains.

Sigh. People have volunteered to donate eggs, but none of their eggs are really top shelf (they’ve all been AMA women, one of them post-menopausal and another a genetic carrier so they wouldn’t even be allowed). Sweet gestures, but DE IVF is not a financial possibility for Geoff and I.

In other words, I am fucked. But I keep going.

*******

I thought chemical pregnancies would end in a maybe-slightly heavy period. This is so painful. Not as painful as the night between the two days of my D&E (second trimester abortion), when I had laminaria sticks shoved in my cervix and later, misoprostol in my cheeks, but I’m definitely incapacitated by cramping. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain…my little cat has joined me on the couch and I’m comforted by his presence, but wish I could be comforted by a big ole shot of Dilaudid instead. Okay, maybe that’s overkill. But I have definitely become leery of what further torture my reproductive organs may bring in the future, and I’ve definitely considered walking to the weed shop to see if marijuana is actually good medicine for cramps (I believe it does have medicinal uses but have never used it medically myself). I won’t though…since Geoff and I met in recovery, I’d be too embarrassed to let him see me stoned and I get paranoid so I’ll probably be freaking out that he’ll make fun of me.

******

I’ve become very anxious that something is going wrong. Maybe since I never get cramps I’m just being a huge crybaby? I don’t want to call the doctor because I don’t want to actually go to the doctor — that place is trigger city and I’m scared to get even more bad news there. If I’m still hurting tomorrow to the point I’m considering treating myself with grass (apparently there are strains that help without making you stoned but I’m too paranoid — I’d die of embarrassment if my husband witnessed me all giggly and wanting cookies), I’ll call, and if it gets worse tonight will go to urgent care or the ER. I think it’s too early to be an ectopic? They said they couldn’t tell yet. It feels like cramps in my uterus, just bad ones.

moving forward

My uterus seems to be functional. It’s always a downer to bleed out a miscarriage, but I hope to be on track again soon. I’m encouraged by the bright red bleeding but I could do without this cramping. I could probably get up and move around but I’m just sitting here with my heating pad and popping leftover pain medicine. My usual periods are light, crampless, and last three days — so this is different for me. I’ll take it. I was so convinced I’d never bleed again.

I want to start meds again. But I think a natural cycle is in order. I’ll see what my beta comes back at tomorrow, and continue to monitor the bleeding. Cross your fingers for a low or nonexistent number for me.

So many people have tried to console me and state that chemical pregnancies are often followed by a full term pregnancy. I’m not reassured, but it is tempting to jump right back into meds, with or without my RE blessing off on it. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to go rogue, but I’m bad with authority.

Geoff’s gone to work, so I’m going to try to get into Coming to Term. It has a lot of info, but if it offers no practical advice on my situation it will be a waste of time.

*******

Apparently women that have had five or more chromosomal miscarriages are screwed. Fantastic.

********

Well, that was demoralizing. Sigh. I’ll try not to put too much weight in Coming to Term, as it was published in 2005.

Why do miracles happen for so many people, but not me?

gimme rivers of red

I am bleeding. Not bleeding a lot, but more than my last two bleeds and red blood rather than brown. I’m tentatively hoping for a somewhat normal flow, if not heavy — heavy enough to wash my worries away, but it’s still just a light bleed for now. I’m cramping (I still have those big ass ibuprofen from my last D&C, thank god) so would expect a heavier flow…is there any sort of blood flow rain dance I could do? A special deity I could pay homage to?

Anxiety is coming in waves, but I took a temazepam and should feel normal soon. I finally got a message from my psychiatrist regarding the safety of using Trileptal during ttc and pregnancy — there are no studies on it whatsoever, which is fairly discouraging as there’s too much of a risk imo. So if I get pregnant again, I’ll go off it and go back to Lamictal, which doesn’t keep me very even. I wonder if this will be my last pregnancy ever, just a flash and it was over, a brief bout with disappointment…

I’m scared to check out how much I’m bleeding. What if it’s stopped? What if it’s just another stop and spot period? Do I have adhesions or not?

******

No, I really shouldn’t still have hope. Really. Trust me.

*******

I dare to say this is like, medium flow? Haven’t run plan by the good doctor, but I’ll do this cycle without meds and next cycle go back on Femara barring further complications.

If you go by my blog stats, it seems like the world does take you back when you have even a chance for a healthy baby. When you’re losing another, the world loses interest. Or maybe it’s because I’m bitter and hostile when I lose babies. Whatevs.

*******

Still bleeding. Yesterday I was longing for the heaviest crampy-est flow ever. Still medium flow — my typical periods are light and short with no cramps, but I’m really feeling quite a bit of pain and am grateful for leftover d&c pain meds. Hoping bleeding will pick up, but it’s hard to say as the cramps have kept me horizontal all day and gravity can’t help me…

I just read Not Broken, all about RPL by an RE in Seattle. No surprising new info, but it was encouraging that she wasn’t all IVF heavy about it, and did seem to indicate I still have a chance without IVF with PGS even after multiple chromosomal losses. Still, I know IVF with donor eggs is my best option, but I’m still 39…maybe we’ll have a windfall in the next couple years and I’ll get to try it…ha!

I’ve started Coming to Term, which so far also seems to indicate that I have a chance. I’m not calling for Scruffy to come out of hiding or anything…but I feel more confident in my decision to keep trying, even though my old eggs are withering each day.

I’m impatient to start Femara again, but this mc might not suck up too much time after all.

*******

I can’t seem to jibe with a man mansplaining about miscarriage. The uterus isn’t more commonly referred to as the womb in my world, even pre-ttc. Maybe I just feel grumpy because of hormones, but I’m going to put Coming to Term down until tomorrow.

sigh

I’m going to recap this cycle because apparently there is confusion and I’ve received multiple messages that I should still have hope. No, I can’t officially call a miscarriage based on a beta of 47 at 20dpo but I can see the writing’s on the wall.

Started out my cycle with a short, light, stop and go period and started fretting about uterine adhesions. Took Femara 5 mg days 3-7. I ovulated CD 14. At 13dpo, I got two faint positives on Wondfos. Later in the day, after my usual excessive beverage consumption, I got a bfn. I started bleeding lightly, used one tampon and bleeding stopped. I assumed this was my period and I was in a new cycle. I didn’t test again, figuring the bfps were the standard false positives people online always bitch about but I’ve never experienced…also I had no breast tenderness, so I assumed I wasn’t pregnant as that is usually my first sign. I started taking my next round of Femara, but my temps were still over 98 and I was suspicious — however, I still had no breast pain and I was still convinced the light bleeding was my period and I had adhesions mucking things up. I had stopped temping after confirming ovulation, and restarted a few days into what I thought was a new cycle. On CD7 (which was actually 19dpo), I did test and I got a light positive Wondfo pregnancy test, confirmed with light lines on FRER.

My HPT lines are very light still at 22dpo. Seeing as they haven’t darkened significantly since those original bfps at 13dpo, and with a beta that low at 20dpo, I am assuming this is some type of loss, hopefully a chemical that will resolve on its own. My OB agrees that this is not a viable pregnancy. My progesterone, as a consolation prize, is fantastic. So yes, I have a second beta on Monday, but I am a realist and although I’d love to see this miraculously turn around, I know it won’t — I am in the don’t-kid-yourself school of pregnancy loss.

Some of you are being pretty hostile and argumentative, and I really think that’s unnecessary. I know this kind of thing is triggery so I get it but I’m pretty vulnerable right now…this is my second loss this year and it’s only March and my anxiety is through the roof.

******

The cat tree I ordered for my little cat and bestest buddy will be here today. I’m stupidly excited, and nervous it will be lame and puny and not look anything like it does in the picture.

Maybe I should stick to cats and forget about babies. Hell, maybe I should stick to cats and forget about people.

I feel weight pressing down on me as I lay on the couch, making it hard to move. I don’t think anyone gives a shit so why go out, or write, or even brush my hair? Why keep trying to conceive a healthy baby? I feel vaguely self destructive this morning, isolated and hurt.

I think I’d feel more settled if I would start to bleed.

*******

I’m still worried about uterine adhesions. What was the bleeding on 13dpo that I assumed was my period? Was that late implantation bleeding (a phenomenon I find highly dubious)? It was brown blood, with a touch of bright red…was the brown blood left over from my stop and go first post D&C period? Or was my body trying to bleed out this miscarriage and it was blocked by adhesions?

What if I can’t bleed anymore?

******

After each loss I’ve had, I have always thought, is this it? Is this the end? I wonder if this is the lost baby representing the dramatic conclusion to my suffering. Is this the loss that will make me accept a childless family? Every time, I’ve had a choice and I’ve chosen to continue.

This past loss wasn’t so dramatic. I didn’t have high hopes. But I worry my power of choice has evaporated. I’d choose to keep going, am I insane? Surely a body can only sustain itself through so many tragedies. I imagine my uterus is fairly weary, if not damaged. Checking my cervix this afternoon, it was hard and shut up tight.

Does progesterone have to drop before I’ll bleed? That would make sense, wouldn’t it? They waxed rhapsodic about my glorious progesterone level, as if that somehow compensates for the horrendous hcG (they also wouldn’t tell me the P4 value but I have a sneaking suspicion that the gossipy phlebotomist will look it up on the computer for me).

Ugh. My one natural miscarriage at 9 weeks was sudden, swift and painful. And unexpected. This waiting to see if I bleed is bullshit.

*******

I’m perplexed by how many more people are reading this than usual. Where are people coming from?

*******

beta hell

I fucking hate waiting for test results. I turn into a maniac. It’s 8.22am, hoping beta will come back this morning which I feel is acceptable turnaround time. I just want to get an idea of what fresh hell is awaiting me this time, so I can get through that and start trying again. What is wrong with me?

Also wouldn’t mind at least an answer to the message I sent my OB yesterday, or an answer from my psychiatrist.

******

I am out of my mind, checking my portal every five minutes. I don’t want to drag out this misery any longer than I need to. I didn’t pee on any sticks this morning and now I regret it. I’ve had two SmartWaters, two coconut waters, three cups of coffee, and a Diet Coke, so I feel I missed my window of accuracy with my Wondfos. And I know they’d just be squinters anyway, and depression will set in.

I have an oral fixation, and I cope with that by compulsive fluid intake.

10.09am, I feel like the results should be in any minute but who knows with the Baby Factory. My nerves are zinging — I actually for a brief moment considered walking down to the weed store and taking the edge off, but I’m not giving up my sobriety for fucking grass. I haven’t smoked pot in over fourteen years! But the thought was there, and my recovering addict mind goes there sometimes.

******

Miscarriage confirmed, beta 47. I feel sort of hopeful that it’s so low, maybe it will go down really fast and I’ll bleed. I’m hoping for a heavy, not spotty bleed. Month off meds, then back to Femara.

Really hoping this isn’t ectopic. With a beta that low, is that a concern? Edify me.

I can’t just give up when I’m still getting pregnant. Can I?

******

I wish this whole episode had never happened. I’m still fretting about uterine adhesions, and when and if I’ll bleed. This is the earliest loss I’ve had, and there are so many worries and I must say I’m pretty angry about the whole deal. I suppose I’ll try to focus on taking care of my health and just cross my fingers that this won’t set me back too far. Five lost babies is pretty fucking bullshit, if you ask me. I don’t feel ready to stop trying, even though I know it’s futile.

******

Does my beta have to hit zero for me to bleed?

And also, I think early losses are, actually, easier than later ones.

unlucky

I feel blessedly normal as my morning tranquilizer rushes through my bloodstream. It won’t last long, but the anxiety of contemplating a childfree life (I’ve been made aware of the distinction between “childless” and “childfree”) is receding as I write this. My little cat is with me, Geoff left early for work and I wonder if I’ll ever feel normal without Restoril again. If I’ll ever feel okay for more than a drug-induced forty-five minutes at a time.

I know it’s stupid, but I check the tracking info for the shipped cat tree every five minutes, my first non-infertilty related purchase in ages. I fret about possible shipping delays due to storms in the Northeast. I am unreasonably excited about it, feeling like a child waiting for Christmas morning. I pull my little cat closer and he purrs in contentment, my one constant companion through the mess of years of recurrent losses I’ve been through. I sip herbal tea, wishing it was coffee and that I could be the girl I’ve all but forgotten again.

I wonder what my next step will be. I’ve taken three doses of Femara so far, and don’t feel too crazy. I’ve made up my mind to skip meds next cycle, and then see my doctor. My temps are still high, puzzling me and causing me to fervently hope for a sudden bleed. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I long to bleed so much I need a fucking diaper and have these worries wash away on the crimson tide of restored subfertility. But it won’t happen. It sounds like self-pity, but things have a way of not working out for me.

******

I feel stuffed full of demons. Hate, rage, anger and sorrow flood my system. There’s a difference between childfree after infertility and childless after loss. Oh, with Molly I was so close. The bad memories start swirling, spiraling out into sharp fractals that slice at my insides as my Restoril wears off.

I consider exorcism. I’m tempted to look in Molly’s box and look at her ultrasounds, the little tidbits of solid evidence that she really did exist, although she was only real to me and Geoff. I still think of the extra bedroom as Molly’s room, even though Geoff has turned it into a large closet for his vintage finds and never-ending t-shirt collection.

I learned in recovery that the only way to make the random pain inflicted by an uncaring universe meaningful is to use your painful experiences to help others. I wonder if I could pull this off and find a niche helping women deal with infertility and RPL, to deal with transitioning from treatments to childfree. Would that be too painful for me? Possibly.