fragile

My days are spent staving off panic. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel the grip of anxiety — I know when I was younger these times existed, but as I’ve aged and lost the interludes between my attacks grew increasingly abbreviated. Nowadays, it comes in frightening waves with not a lot of respite. I’ve become a sick girl. It’s hard to get up.

I do the things I need to do. I take my Geodon on time, which is the most important thing. Since my folks are coming for the holidays, I work on tidying the house, which has been long neglected. There is basically a layer of trash — unpaid bills and seemingly important papers, empty Diet Coke bottles and old receipts — on top of Normal House, I find picking it up solves most of the problem. I turn to the window…my squirrel is standing there, gazing at me beseechingly. I throw a handful of nuts to him and as I watch him munch away, it occurs to me that I feel happy. 

This stops me in my tracks, sends me straight back to bed for another half hour. This is no good. Have I felt this in any of my other pregnancies? I feel like I haven’t and that makes me sad, and I berate myself for jinxing the whole thing with that singular thought. I realize I am actually humming along with the depressing Leonard Cohen album I’m spinning and I have to do my breathing exercises. I feel incredibly fragile, held together with fraying string. I start picking price tags off the presents I bought for my small extended family, and realize I feel somewhat festive. A quick assessment reveals that I don’t even feel manic. This is alarmingly real, but so tenuous…

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untitled 

Life keeps happening even though I’ve dropped of the tracks. The panic attacks keep coming, but they’re not as bad as my first pregnancy after Molly, when I’d been on benzodiazepines for over a year following my unfortunately timed bout with serotonin poisoning post-tfmr (Lexapro + BuSpar + Remeron = bad times all around). I try not to think about anything related to pregnancy, which helps. I try to think about the holidays, which doesn’t. 

I think it says something about the human condition when I remember how blindsided I’ve been by each and every one of my pregnancy losses. Despite all my negativity and pessimism, I keep expecting good news. As much as I anticipate those first fateful drops of blood, they still catch me off guard. I think about my sister, gone twenty-one years by now…I was 17, she a month shy of 15. When she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, I responded the same way I would now — since I’m old and this was 1996, I went to the library at Salem State University and researched the illness on microfiche (back then, any search term you entered into any search engine yielded nothing but pornography, I shit you not). I knew her prognosis was fatal, but when my uncle showed up at my friend’s house telling me I had to get into Boston and meet my family at the hospital immediately, I still was like, Huh? What? Right now? 

Maybe it doesn’t say anything about the human condition. Maybe it says something about me.

My husband goes to take out the trash. I find I’m scared to be alone. I’m not sure how long it will be before I begin to feel all right again. Ever. I snuggle up with my little cat, pulling the blankets over my legs. Geoff comes inside, but I’m already gone.

night terror 

…and the panic attacks begin. They started yesterday, when I forgot to take my lunchtime Geodon. One minute I was just bopping along, listening to the Jawbreaker demo tape they released on Bandcamp (awesome shit), and the next I was huddled in my bathroom freaking out and unable to breathe because I got white goop on my new angora sweater. It passed quickly, but another followed. And another. I recognize this pattern from when I got sober in 2004, although on a smaller scale — I’m having medication withdrawals from the Restoril and Trileptal. I knew I would. 

I have a weird tingling feeling in my uterus. It is a familiar sensation. I get it before my period and miscarriages. So I’m convinced I’ll start bleeding in the next couple. However, it’s only on one side. Ugh. Fuck. I’ve never not bled after having this, but I’ve also never not bled.

Sigh.

I can’t call the doctor and say I’m freaking out because I have a “weird tingly feeling” in my uterus. I’m through terrorizing them until my u/s. I hope. My chest feels heavy; I know I’m on my own to an analyze and interpret each little twinge and cramp I feel. The responsibility is overwhelming. Even Geoff can’t calm me. For the eight millionth time in our marriage, I wish Geoff could carry the babies, noting that he has a more suitable temperament. 

And so my days are spent crazy, sensations wrack my body, and despite everything I am happy to be pregnant again; maybe it’s worth it just to have a shot. And me, the eternal pessimist — I cannot believe how much I want to believe that this time around things are going to be just fine.


cruising along

My first ultrasound will be on the 20th. I haven’t had the chance to work myself into a frenzy about it yet, but I guess I’ll have time. There’s nothing I fear more than ultrasounds and impassive ultrasound techs, except perhaps centipedes and a Republican Congress (so I’m constantly terrified these days). I will be 7 weeks and change, and it will be the day before my parents arrive for the holidays. No pressure, huh?

I also arranged for my psychiatric obstetrician to consult with my regular psychiatrist about my medications during pregnancy. If there is anyone near Seattle dealing with mental illness and pregnancy, I highly recommend Swedish Hospital’s Perinatal Bonding and Support as a resource. My doctor there has completed residencies and training in psychiatry and obstetrics, and knows everything about which meds are safe for use during pregnancy. They have a group about infant bonding for women experiencing postpartum depression as well, which is the only group of its sort on the West Coast… postpartum anything is still a pipe dream for this RPL’er, but really, what a great resource. 

I appreciate all the support I have on this blog and online. I don’t have any IRL support in regards to infertility and RPL and *deep breath* pregnancy after loss, and I wish I did. Last night I mentally went through each friend and family member I have, checking to see if there was anyone I could confide in. When I asked myself, would this person be supportive of I miscarried or had to tfmr again?, every last one of them elicited a “fuck no” response based on past experience. 


unreasonable me, *results in (sort of)*

I have surrendered to the idea that I am a crazy person who is unschooled in the rigors of decorous behavior. Perhaps I shouldn’t bring up my now-barely-contained mental illness. Apparently normal people dont flip out over their betas. I really have no idea what normalcy entails, having been isolated for so long and having been raised in a family where histrionics were typical. I should really settle down and use my Stop Anxiety and Panic app. I should go back to community acupuncture; while it never seemed to work for me, while I was there I was privy to watching the needleman calm many hysterical people who’d come in off the streets with questionable maladies in the course of simple thirty minute sessions. Do normal people feel soothed when doctors tell them everything is fine with no empirical evidence to back up the claim? Apparently. 

So I’ll wait. I guess I have nothing fucking better to do. 

ETA, 9AM.  My results are apparently in, but the doctor has to go over them before calling me. In my mind, this doesn’t bode well, my inner voice says miscarriage, and I’m just waiting for the blow. My boobs don’t feel tender anymore, either. I feel increasingly despondent, and am just praying this ends before someone tries to jam a dildo cam in my ladybits. However, my inner voice has led me horribly astray before…sigh. 

ETA, 10AM. They have my fucking test results, why aren’t they calling? I am desperately terrified, sweating and shaking and nauseous. Hate, hate, hate. Rage, rage, rage. WHAT THE FUCK. 

ETA, 12PM. Sanity has exited the premises. They will not fucking give me my test results. I rue my decision to have a third beta in the first place…had I received good results at a reasonable timeframe, the joy would have run out by now anyway. I fucking hate doctors. I despise them. You’d think they’d give me results just so they wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore. When this us all over, I’m writing a nasty Yelp review or something.

Powerless.

ETA, 1PM. Geoff wrested a vague estimate of my beta from the nurse. It is over 3000. We were shooting for over 2000…our doubling time is ~33 hours (this is good news, for my readers not well-versed in onine fertility speak). I feel like I can finally breathe. And I hate them for doing this to me.

I have to call my psychiatric obstetrician now, but I may close my eyes for just a few minutes…

ETA, 4PM. I slept a bit. It was heavenly. I’m still annoyed with the clinic…they told Geoff my doctor wasn’t even in today! So if I hadn’t implored him to call at lunchtime, and if he hadn’t been so persuasive and charming, we still would be waiting into tomorrow. They say the doctor has to put together a plan and will contact me soon. Apparently this is acceptable procedure here.

I dread going through the rigmarole of trying to schedule an early ultrasound. What if they won’t do it? 

…and my parents will be here for Christmas. How do I get through that without them finding out? Ahhhhhh. 

waiting, always waiting for updates

I expect to hear my beta results today. Whatever freak optimism I indulged in this past weekend has dissipated this morning, my heart is heavy and my hands are shaking as I type this. I’m wondering if it’s too early to call, I’m wondering if I have the guts to call or send a message. I am literally wringing my hands and shivering wildly. I am not well. 

ETA, 12.30PM. I feel at odds with the world. The clinic seems baffled by my nervous mania. They’re not understanding why I’m not calming down when they tell me everything will be fine. Consider the following statement:  Yes, this is Kathleen [G—-] calling, I’m wondering if the results for my quantitative beta are in. I don’t mean to be a nuisance, but I have a history of pregnancy loss and I can’t take the medication I need for my bipolar disorder so it’s really important that I hear back as soon as I can. 

They remind me that stress causes miscarriages (piffle!).

Apparently I am unreasonable. I find them unreasonable, but clearly I’m the insane one. They tell me I should talk to the doctor about my medication. They say everything was looking fine, and that the doctor will get back to me this week (?!). Geoff, too, seems actually surprised that I have worked myself into a state over what he clearly feels is no big deal. Maybe I am overreacting and neurotic. I am so out of touch with what normal people behave like. Sigh. Back to waiting.

I could really use a stiff drink.

ETA, 4.15AM. I give up on my fucking beta. Apparently the lab sends test results to my loathsome and much-maligned-by-me primary care clinic, and then they forward it on to the fertility clinic. So they have it and they won’t deal with me, and I have to wait for them. Fuck everything. My hatred of Providence Medical Group knows no bounds, and they seem to hate me too. They also seem to have a stranglehold on every medical facility in town, because they’re all affiliated. Rage, rage, rage. Hate, hate, hate. I idly wonder if I would still qualify to be seen at the low-income clinic I went to when I didn’t have insurance (sure, they once misdiagnosed me with tuberculosis when the correct diagnosis was perfectly healthy…I can let bygones be bygones, right?). 

On another note…a while back, I posted a picture of Piggy, a stuffed pink hippo that followed me from my childhood home in Massachusetts to my currently disastrous and rage-trashed apartment in Olympia, WA. You can wind Piggy, and he will sing You Are My Sunshine on an old-fashioned music box inside him, and we played his song and sat him on my tiny baby bump the night before they stopped Molly’s heart. He’s been silent since April of 2015, and I keep him between the pillows of our bed to remind me of her. And this morning, without winding, he randomly sang three plaintive notes.

I know she’s still with me. I’m not sure what is going to happen to me right now, but I know she’s here. 

back to panic mode

Waiting for Geoff’s lunch break so we can go have my beta drawn. I don’t expect to hear results until tomorrow. My doctor has adopted an attitude of oh, everything’s going to be just fine, just get it drawn sometime this week, despite there being considerable evidence based on my past experience that for girls like me, nothing is ever just fine and as a result I am incapable of having patience. I do recognize that with my sudden med changes, I’m not in my usual frame of mind and my perspective is distorted…

And if this pregnancy ends tomorrow — I can’t be sure, I think I might want one more chance. My biological clock seems to be ruling my life with an iron fist, handing down imperatives. I don’t think I can walk away…yet. My uterus is still begging for babies; it’s these fucking eggs that just don’t play.

Note to self: don’t pay any mind to the phlebotomist. Apparently she had no business telling me when to expect results last Friday. I have to remember not to trust anyone when it comes to medical personnel. As Betty said to me…the stakes are so high.

I’ll update if by some miracle, I get my labs back today. Or if I’m just freaking out and feeling alone. I’m encouraged by my super-painful breasts, a darker hpt this AM, my poor bloated tummy, and bouts of nausea…I’ve gagged over the toilet a couple times, but haven’t thrown up. 

Someone sent me this quote after my tfmr and it’s been hanging on my wall since (crappy lighting, my walls aren’t actually all yellowed and shit)… if you recognize it’s origins, let’s be friends. 

ETA, 12.45PM. Geoff’s lunch break is an elusive thing, teasing and ephemeral and…infuriating. The lab is now closed for lunch, and I hope to be there when it reopens at 1.30. Sigh. It’s times like this that I miss Boston, where everyone is possessed of a sense of urgency and IIRC, I didn’t need to put up with everyone poking. around. so. slowly. all. the. time. 

ETA, 2PM. Beta drawn…now the indefinite wait…

ETA, 6PM. I am a wreck again. My uterus is cramping. I didn’t hear about my lab results and I’m not sure how I’ll sleep at all tonight. I got my blood drawn at around 1.30, same time as my initial beta and for the initial beta, I received my results at 8am the next day. So, perhaps unrealistically, I’m hoping to hear from the clinic tomorrow morning. Sure would like a tranquilizer right about now. 

back to the grind tomorrow 

I’m laying in bed on a Sunday night, sipping decaf coffee and skating the edge of my evening panic attack, and I feel so fragile but my heart is full and I’m so hopeful for the future with my husband at my side and…

I’m balancing on a razor’s edge because at any second the pain could hit again; tomorrow’s beta might break me again just as quickly as that first hpt rocketed me into this... When I’m depressed and suicidal, I often comfort myself by remembering that I am capable of feeling joy that is every bit as intense as the pain I feel in that moment. I’m extremely conscious of the fact that tomorrow may hurt me as much as today has comforted me. Today I feel so much like I did when I was pregnant with Molly, and it’s probably just because it’s the same time of year and not that I’ve forgotten the wrenching of repeat trauma.

I love being pregnant, the headiness, the exhilaration of hormones and the sudden promise of a future — part of me (the damaged part) is already planning out how I will get pregnant again when this doesn’t work out. I realize that, in a way, I am fortunate to have had this experience but I cannot extricate the joys of early pregnancy from the horrors of grief and loss. It’s become an addictive process for me and one way or another it has to stop.

Beta, no beta. I’m still sort of confused and wandering. Geoff says he feels it too, but I don’t know if he can.

weekend in crazy land

It is 4.30AM and I’m tired of being damaged. My mind is racing and I am hilariously hypomanic. I nudge my husband. Geoff, wake up. He rolls towards me. I had a dream I had jury duty and voted in favor of the death penalty, I inform him. Geoff is incredulous that I’m disturbing him for this. 

You know in your heart that you would never vote that way, he says patiently, before pulling up the covers and resuming a soft, steady snore (I abhor the death penalty). 

I’m thinking of skipping my third beta. A good number would provide comfort for maybe twenty-four hours max and I am struggling with so much anxiety now that I’m off my chill pills. My clinic cannot, apparently, get me same day results, and Friday was a special sort of hell that I’m not sure I can repeat as the panic of benzo withdrawals really has set in. I’m also unsure that the blood draw has even been ordered for Monday. And as scary as it is to admit it…I feel weirdly optimistic. Like, the Universe can’t possibly make me suffer more than it already has. However, I’ve felt this way before and been so so wrong.

It’s the transvaginal ultrasounds I’m really afraid of. They reassure me that the procedure is painless. It’s not the procedure that scares me, I try to explain. It’s the inevitable soul-crushing bad news that tends to follow. 

And now it’s 5AM and I’m so tired of being mentally ill. I never feel all right. I always hear and see things that other more blessed folks don’t see or hear, and I’m forever terrified of episodes even though it’s been over a decade since I’ve had one. I feel the neurons in my brain snap crackle and popping and I realize I am sweating. Geoff is suddenly animated as well, having remembered that he has a burrito in the fridge (he loves burritos).

Beta, no beta. Beta, no beta. My thoughts are meandering, tormented as I battle with the mania and panic. Why do I do this?

Then I remember Molly… 

ETA, 6AM. I need my psychiatrist to get me back on Lamictal. This is no bueno. I did just take another hpt and it was reassuringly dark. 

ETA, 8.15AM. Wendall is so sweet.

beta number two day: the continuing saga *result in*

Beta hell is agony when you are suffering rebound anxiety from benzodiazepine withdrawal, and have stopped your mood stabilizer and are creeping towards hypomania. It’s 3.13 AM, I am wide awake and wired, feeling tiny razors slash at my nerve endings and the weight of my hair is unbearable on my neck. I worry that I am not more fatigued; I am resisting the urge to pee on a Wondfo, knowing that a light line would completely unhinge me. Today might actually break me, and I’m so scared of being broken. Too old, I tell myself. Geoff inches closer to me in bed, but I still feel all alone.

ETA, 7.45 AM. We are at the lab…

…being emotional at the phlebotomist, with whom this is the third beta hell in addition to testing out two miscarriages, paid off…she put a STAT on my order and said my doctor would have results by noon. We are using this satellite lab at my loathed GP clinic because of scheduling conflicts with Geoff’s work. Send me good juju. I am a nervous wreck.

ETA, 9AM. I gotta get good results…I can’t have anything ruin the joy of #FlynntasticFriday…

ETA, 10AM. I’m in full panic mode. I was happy to have a solid number Wednesday, but 626 seems far too high to hope for today. I just got a message from my RE’s office and was hopeful for my results, but they were just informing me that my progesterone was fine. They didn’t tell me the value…anyway, I almost had a heart attack thinking they knew my hcg. Apparently someone will call as soon as my beta’s in — I don’t believe them. I’ll be calling them at 1pm. 

My little cat tries to soothe me…introducing Wendall.

ETA, 1.30PM. My RE hasn’t heard from the lab yet. FML. I am sick with anxiety. 

ETA, 3PM. I don’t understand what’s going on with my beta. They keep saying the lab hasn’t gotten back to them yet. What if I don’t get results today? What if I haven’t heard, and gave to wait all weekend? I guess going to the lab at my loathed old OB’s was a bad idea. I’ve been crying for hours now.

My RE’s office is apparently open until 6PM, but I don’t know about the lab I went to…they just send all their samples to the hospital and I can’t, apparently, call them. 

ETA 3.30PM. Beta is 655. It doubled! Much relief all around. One more left to go…