Processing miscarriage

In the weeks since my miscarriage, my state of being has been up and down. I still am having a difficult time wrapping my mind around the purpose in all of this. I try to remember that so many have it worse, or are fighting bigger battles. I remember what a gift it is that we have our precious Eden. I remember just how truly blessed we are in this life and the absolute gift it is that we have such a strong, beautiful marriage. I remember, I give thanks, but the sting still hurts. From the very depths of my being, I grieve, I fight the longings and the ache of it all. Just tonight, a friend announced a pregnancy with a due date in the same week our precious little one would have been due. I thought I was good, but it brought back all the emotions, the hurt, the turmoil and confusion that surrounded those few weeks of my pregnancy given my emergent surgery and everything.

What’s been equally challenging is just how long this miscarriage is lasting. I thought it would all be over with the passing of the gestational sac, but now I wait for my hcg to drop. It has been 4 weeks. It went from 7700 to 95 to 31. In one and a half weeks I will go back in again for another hcg. I hope and pray that it will finally be less than 5, the magical number for which I wait. Once it is there, we will wait for a period to begin and then the whole process starts again. So potentially we are looking at another few months before we will be able to do an embryo transfer. I know what many may be thinking…”it’s just a few months, what’s the big deal?” And I know, it is easy to say such things…but I am telling you, it’s not that easy when you are living it, when daily you walk in the uncertainty of your future, when getting pregnant means injections, appointments, missing work, bed rest and so many thousands of dollars. It is all worth it, believe me and I know it completely but nonetheless it is taxing. And it becomes even more wearisome when it doesn’t work. And let me be honest in saying that I just felt so messed with with this whole last pregnancy. I just feel like the person Job in the bible and that God allowed everything to come crashing down in front of me…bit by bit. I know it is nothing compared to what Job lost, but it was a disheartening journey. The carrot would be dangled in front of me, and then hope would be dashed and then I would be asked to wait…and then the whole cycle would continue, hope…hope dashed…wait…hope…hope dashed…wait and then finally…complete LOSS and DEVASTATION.

Yet, as I have always said…faith endures, I will wait on God. I know that everything will be beautiful in time, that the waiting will be fruitful, that we will be blessed beyond measure…but it won’t be on our timeline. Right now I am in the refiner’s fire…getting worked over, molded. Day by day, my character grows stronger, my ability to persevere increasingly steadfast.

Get ready y’all…it’s going to be a beautiful story.

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2nd TRIMESTER!!! Woweeee! 14w1d

October 1st marked the first official day of my second trimester according to babycenter.com!!!  I am so excited to reach this point.  I have been feeling great.  I couldn’t have asked for a healthier, more feel good pregnancy thus far.  So, I decided to celebrate and post my first bump pic.  This was taken at 5:30am, before breakfast.  I get so bloated by the end of the day, so I wanted my bump pic to be tried and true – not the late evening bloat belly.

I feel that I have really settled into my pregnancy and don’t find myself anxiously anticipating my next change day as much as I used to.  It’s a real joy carrying our little “half pint” as my husband so affectionately refers to them as.

I look forward to writing more.  It has been a busy fall thus far.  Tomorrow we are headed to the mountains for our annual FALL get together with our dear friends.  It’s always a wonderful time for some R&R and a WHOLE lot of the great outdoors.  Last year they were pregnant during our trip.  How I remember dreaming that we would be on similar journey of our own this year and HERE WE ARE!  Such a blessing.

12 weeks and LOVING it!

We have made it to 12 weeks!  It is a BLESSED, HAPPY, SOLID number!!!  It felt so good to get that pregnancy update from baby center today!

Over the past few weeks we have really begun to embrace our pregnancy and my ever so slightly growing bump.  Last week, I even splurged and bought some maternity shirts.  Not that I need them, what I really need are some pants, though rubber bands are doing me wonders.  But, I have to tell you that I kinda hit the jackpot at ROSS of all places.  I bought 9 new maternity shirts for $76 total (The really nice kind with rouched sides!)  It felt great!  Ross, is the one place that I essentially have a free ticket to shop all I want!  My husband loves to save money and Ross fits nicely into the budget.  Typically little money is spent there though as I have never really enjoyed shopping and especially not at stores like Ross that require massive amounts of patience to sift through all the clothing.  But the maternity section was small and quite easy to maneuver.  Anyway, all the shirts are are super cute.  I should post a few pix.  The experience certainly beat the $24 I paid at Target for one shirt.  Anyway, there is always a compromise though.  I am going to splurge on one pair of fantastic maternity jeans.  I live in my jeans and have yet to find anything I like, so I am going to go for it, though I hope to purchase them through consignment…but if not…then I am just going to take the plunge.

Anyway, enough ramblings about clothes.  On to some God talk.

For some time, I have felt that I need to do more for women battling with infertility.  My heart is soooo heavy for women yet in the trenches and I want to help them find hope.  It was SO hard for me to cling to hope and not give up on my faith entirely at times during our long road to conceiving.  I have felt in my heart a real desire to write some sort of devotional or bible study to help encourage women through this season in their lives.  We’ll see what becomes of it, but I can’t seem to shake the idea.  Honestly, it seems so daunting to me. I am not a good writer and to put together some sort of booklet sounds like a huge undertaking, but at the same time, I want to be a voice of compassion and encouragement to women going through this.  Fortunately, for so many of us, we have found community and a voice through our blogs, but I know there are so many more out there that are feeling humiliated, isolated, and without support during one of the greatest challenges that life can bring.

Anyway, so that is a bit on that….

We have begun to tell family and friends about our pregnancy and it is just wonderful to hear their responses.  It is like a long awaited Christmas gift that we are just now beginning to unwrap. My husband and I cherish these moments together with our family and friends and find such joy in their responses.  I think we will wait to post it on facebook for some time just because I kinda like keeping it to our inner circle for now.  Maybe when I bust into those maternity clothes I will post a little pic or something, but for now, it has been so delightful just letting people know as we run into them or call them or however the connection may occur.

Praying for so many of you ladies and so thankful to be able to share in your stories!  This community is a tremendous blessing and source of encouragement for me!

10 weeks 3 days. Doppler Success!!!!!!

Well, we did it.  We gave in and bought a fetal doppler.  Honestly, I had no idea these existed and were available for home purchase until reading about them on people’s blogs over the past few months.  I never thought I would get one.  But since graduating from the RE after our first ultrasound at 6w6d, we have yet to see the OB.  Our first OB appointment is at 11w1d, which happens to be next Wednesday, but I’m not even sure they will do an ultrasound then.  It is supposedly an “intake” appointment.  This OB practice is very laid back or at least that is what I am telling myself as they weren’t in any hurry to get me in.

So, on to the good news.

We ordered a Sonoline B off a website called Clinical Guard and paid about $55 for it.  Not bad and I am SO happy we bought it.  It was worth every penny.

It took us about 5 minutes to locate the baby’s heartbeat.  During those 5 minutes, all we could hear was the placenta.  That, in and of itself, was quite reassuring to me.  I didn’t mind if we couldn’t find the heartbeat, knowing it was still early to get a good listen.  But I kept probing and then all of a sudden the pitch changed as well as the sound.  You could hear the valves close and I knew we had honed in on our baby.  The heart rate was 164bpm.

Yeah!!!  This was the best thing I have heard in weeks.  Music to my ears!

 

Battle scars. When will I settle in? 9w4d pregnant.

I wish I was able to let go and get excited about this pregnancy.  I wish I could experience the resounding JOY of a first time mom.  I wish I could DREAM about nurseries and bonding with my baby and dwell on our sweet future together.  I think about these things, but do I DREAM?

Instead, I feel cautious.  I am SO happy to be pregnant, so blessed to finally be in this place, but it is NOT the bliss I would have always thought it would be.  Leading up to my first ultrasound, I was nervous, my mind fraught with anxiety.  When could I OWN this pregnancy?  When would I settle into it?  When would I just ENJOY being pregnant everyday?  The ultrasound came and went and though I worry so much less now about whether or not it is real, I have to admit that I have yet to settle into it.  Yet, to wake up in the morning, overcome with feelings of joy and elation that we are PREGNANT.  In my heart I am so thankful and praise God each and every day for this little miracle.  I have been researching baby gear and look forward to putting together a nursery, but I still find myself…well, numb.

This numbness of mine has resulted from so many months of battling with infertility.  Unmet expectations, broken dreams, waiting, enduring, hoping, and so much failing.  A relentless cycle that has left my soul forever changed, my heart hardened.  As the months turned into a year + many months, more and more I began to protect myself.  I worked hard to keep the pieces of my life together.  I went into full on self-protection mode and was able to give very little to those in my life and in my community.  Month after month, I continued to reach out, clinging to any hope I could find in God, Google, or some new treatment plan.  Time and time again, failure.  After a while, I grew calloused, I had to find a way to cope with infertility and no longer allow it to own me.  I had to find a way to rid it of the power it had over me and find myself again.

Well, new life has begun in me and with it, I am trying to restore my heart.  As I learn more about myself and how I respond to pregnancy, I realize just how much work there is yet to be done.  This journey is far from over.  I want to feel again, to LIVE in the moment again.  I want to enjoy each and every moment of this pregnancy and this beautiful baby that is growing in side of me.  I don’t want my past to determine my future. I realize that infertility has shaped me in countless ways for the better of my future family.  I want my children to have a mom who feels their pain and disappointments, who laughs at their sweet jokes, and whom can cry when necessary.

I will regain my soft heart…one day I may even wear it on my sleeve again.  In the meantime, I just thank God for this amazing privilege of finally working towards becoming a mom.  A dream I had all but given up just a few short months ago.  I hope I can find myself settling in soon and I hope that this baby in my belly is in our life to stay.

 

***

I had written this post last night and then thought I should sleep on it before posting it.  Part of me feels guilty for the feeling the way I do, for not being OVER the MOON excited.  But then, as I logged in to my Word Press account this morning, one of my dear blogging friends, Chanel, just found out yesterday that her baby had no heartbeat. This was her second U/S.  She had had a fabulous one just a few weeks ago.  Chanel and I received our BFP within days of eachother and so I have felt a special connection towards her and this baby.  I am heartbroken and so very sad for her and it just serves as another reminder of just how hard this journey really is.  There are no guarantees once receiving that long awaited BFP.  Please send her some LOVE!

What made it work? IVF prep, God’s grace, and a fabulous RE!

For some time I have felt the need to write about some of the different things that I did leading up to my IVF cycle that could have helped it work.  One will never know what exactly did the trick.  Mostly, I just give all the credit to God and figure it just FINALLY was the right time for us.  Nonetheless, the further out I am getting from our cycle, the more I seem to forget.  I never thought I would say that as we lived it for so long – the shots, the oral medications, the vaginal suppositories, but I am.

So, let’s get to it…

One of the first things I did upon discovering that I might have endometriosis earlier this April, was to get on what I am calling a anti-negative immune system regimen.  There are some negative immune things going on in endo, I sought to counter these effects with:

DHEA 20mg.  I took a very low dose.  DHEA had many positive effects apart from increasing the better parts of my immune system and decreasing some of the unwelcome parts.   (I could go into so much more detail about DHEA and get all scientific, but don’t want to lose you, so we’ll stick with my better/unwelcome parts analogy. ) Apparently it also helps with egg quality.  (Somehow, according to our RE, all our embryos turned out “perfect”, so I’m thinking this really helped.)  Was my RE really on board?  Not really, but they let me stay on it. There are a lot of clinics around the country utilizing DHEA as part of their IVF protocols.  In my humble opinion, I think we will begin to see more of it.

DHA.  Found in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, I took some additional DHA on the side.  Also, to help out my immune system and improve my egg quaility.

Vitamin D – 2000IU.  I increased my Vitamin D intake as it also appears to modulate the immune system.

Melatonin 3mg every night to help improve egg quality.

…I figured if endo was preventing my embryos from implanting or attacking them prior to even reaching my uterus, well, it was time for me to take the offensive position and get it UNDER control. I will never really know how my immune system was really functioning as I did not undergo testing.  Nonetheless, I felt these changes were very important and there was enough literature out there to support them. On a side note, as much as I loved my RE, he isn’t really into the whole immune system side of things and only begins to delve into these things in women with recurrent miscarriages. He kinda laughed at me when I brought it up early in our treatment, but I carried on anyway.

Next, I ordered a book.  IVF Success Program.

This book was GREAT!  Definitely overwhelming and there is NO way you can incorporate everything into your life.  But it provides all the research on everything from diet to exercise to medications to acupuncture to little changes that can make all the difference in having a successful IVF cycle.  A few changes I made as a result of reading it were that I started going to acupuncture again.  I went once a week and then on the day of my transfer, I had acupuncture before and after.   I tried to incorporate more pH basic foods into my diet including cucumbers, red peppers, kale, etc…while decreasing pH acidic foods such as red meat in hopes to encourage more positive changes in my immune system and overall fertility.  She also recommends drinking mint tea everyday…so mint tea I did.  I am not going to get into all the research here.  Too much to talk about, but I really liked the book.  She also goes over the whole process from starts to finish, the different medications you are on and all of the tests you will endure.  There is a yoga book included, as well as a menu planner, and a journal to track your experience.  She also talks about the research behind the eating of pineapple core for 5 days post transfer….

Thus, that is what I did.  Pineapple core post transfer for 5 days!  Just the core.  The bromine helps with implantation.

I had NO caffeine whatsoever, no alcohol, and apart from a few luna bars each week, did not consume any soy products.

I was on bed rest for 2 days post transfer and was not allowed to exercise or have sex until we had our positive beta.  Our RE wanted my body in REST mode.  Walking was okay as long as it wasn’t too strenuous and I kept my heart rate under 140bpm.

These are the main things I did to improve our chances of success.  I really believe they helped as our embryo quality was “perfect” on all of our embryos according to our RE and embryologist. Also, I felt really good throughout our cycle and think the acupuncture and diet changes really helped with that.  Yet more than anything, I prayed…a LOT and left the whole cycle in God’s hands.  I realized pretty early on that worrying would get me NOWHERE.  I had no control except to take my medications and eat as best as possible, the rest was up to my body and God.  I knew that if He willed it to happen that it was going to happen.  I just had to keep the faith, keep the trust!  Of course, I got anxious from time to time and fretted and worried and googled, but as quickly as I would see my mind spiral out of control and count us out for this cycle, I would try to take captive these thoughts and replace them with ones of faith and belief.  Mind over matter.  I was NOT going to let my worries get the best of me.

Of course, I realize that my RE deserves a great deal of credit too!  Oregon Reproductive has an AWESOME protocol and amazing doctors and I feel SO blessed to have received care under them!

Post transfer, I was on Endometrin 3x daily, Estrace 2x daily, and Aspirin.  I am still on the Endometrin and Aspirin and only finally got off the estrogen last week.  I am hoping that starting next week I will get to begin my wean from Endometrin.  I still take my 2000IU of Vitamin D and prenatal with DHA, but stopped all other medications.

Anyway, much credit to Dr. Hesla and his colleagues.

Hopefully, I didn’t leave too much else out. If so, I will add it in later.  I have really enjoyed other bloggers post of things they have done to improve their success so thought it important to contribute my own!  All the best to all of you!  I am praying for so many of you and am so thankful for this community!

Ultrasound, ultrasound…what will you show?

Tomorrow I will be 7 weeks pregnant.  Today, in about 45 minutes, I will leave for my ultrasound appointment.  I have been anxiously anticipating this day for the past 3.5 weeks upon discovering that we were pregnant.  Since then I have had a few symptoms including frequent urination, sore breasts, acne (YUCK!), and one bout of nausea where I actually threw up.  Other than that and being tired there has been little to report and often my emotions play with me and I wonder if I could really be pregnant.  Luckily, according to the “What to Expect” book, I have learned that these are very normal feelings.

It is just so hard after all we have been through to get to this point, plus the overwhelming awareness of so many tragedies in our IF community and joy-filled pregnancy announcements quickly turning sour.  At moments I project these stories onto my own and assume the worst for myself.  I quickly try to shake myself from these thoughts.  I guess it is just hard to accept that my story is my story and it will be different than every other story.  The best thing I can do for myself is to keep the faith and stay positive.

It just always comes back to that for me.  Hope, Faith, TRUST!

Will keep you posted!

Thank you for all of your support!!!!

Beta # 2 Results!

I just want to thank everyone for all the love and support over the last 2 days.  We are still in shock but little by little things are starting to sink in a bit more.  I know this news isn’t always easy to read or receive in this community.  That said, I just want you to know that my heart and prayers are with everyone wherever they may be in their own journey to have a child.   I don’t know how to express that well, but that’s where we are at.  We are so humbled by this most recent turn of events in our world and give all the glory to our God.

Our Beta was 427 today.  The number went from 98.4 to 427 in just 2 days. Our first ultrasound will be on August 13th.  We are really looking forward to it!!!!

9dp5dt. Beta Results. Pregnant!

I don’t even know where to start.  These past 9 days have been a faith building exercise.  Learning to trust, learning to wait.  Lessons that seem to reappear time and time again in my life.  This past week and a half was no exception.

On 3dp5dt transfer I had my only “symptom” of a possible impending pregnancy.  I felt a few quick, sharp stabbing pains in my left flank. I also experienced a few brief cramps with the intensity of my uterus feeling like it was being wrung out like a wet rag.  That was it.   Other than that, I have felt 100% completely normal.  Though I guess this is not a surprise as I have not really experienced any side effects of any of the medications throughout this IVF cycle.  The only thing I had was a little nipple tenderness with my high estrogen levels prior to retrieval.  Nonetheless, it began to make me nervous, I scoured people’s blogs and the internet…should I be feeling more?  I worried and I fretted…but then I remembered, every story is different, there are plenty of people who don’t feel pregnant for weeks.  I realized, once again, that this WHOLE thing is out of my control and that all I could do was keep trusting God, keep walking, and keep hoping.

My husband and I decided that we would test early.  I figured I would rather ease into whatever is ahead.  If it’s negative, I wanted to begin to prepare myself slowly.  I figured that would be easier for me to shoulder than waiting until beta day with all the stress and anxiety of finally getting to that day only to find out it was negative.  We took our first test last Saturday at 6dp5dt.  After  peeing on the stick, I quickly dismissed it as soon as I saw the control line appear without the slightest mark on the test line, assumed it was negative and jumped in the shower.   Perhaps in hopes to convince and prepare my own heart, I had reminded my husband prior to taking the test that it was too early and that it would probably be negative.  Nonetheless, in the shower, my heart sank and I prayed that God would give me the strength to handle this whole thing if it didn’t work.  Lo and behold, upon getting out of the shower, I looked at the test and there it was…a faint pink line.  The first I have ever seen in our 20 months of TTC.  My husband could hardly believe it.  I thought back to all the encouraging posts I have seen of women with pee sticks that started out faint and slowly grew darker.  Where would this go?  Could this be it? Was it still possible the hcg trigger shot was still in me?  It had been 13 days since we had had our trigger shot.  Only time would tell.  So we kept waiting and continued living.  We prayed and prayed and prayed to our faithful God who is sovereign whom we knew had the perfect plan for our lives.

The next day the test was positive AGAIN!  We decided there must be something wrong with these cheap 88 cent Walmart test sticks and dug in the bathroom closet for our one and only digital pregnancy test.  This would tell us for SURE that we weren’t pregnant, I just knew it.  That’s all they had ever shown us.  A big, fat emotionless NOT PREGNANT.  But within a minute I realized it had left out the NOT and only the word PREGNANT had appeared on the screen.  Could it be true?

Well, our line continued to darken yesterday and this morning.  I went in for my beta at 8am and waited 5.5 agonizing hours for my clinic to let me the know the results. Finally at 1:30pm my Doctor called to let me know that I was PREGNANT.  He told me that they had all been fighting over who would get to call me with my results and that he won the fight because he is the oldest.  I thought that was SOOO sweet.  I didn’t expect him to call at all, as the lab tech told me this morning that she is the one who typically calls with results!

Our beta was 98.4!  We are so excited about this number but also a little nervous.  I hope it is high enough, I guess we’ll know in a few days.  I just gotta keep the faith!  It all comes back to that for me.

We feel extremely humbled and are in complete shock right now.  We feel beyond blessed but are also experiencing a great deal of what I am calling “survivor” guilt until I can figure out a better term.  We don’t feel like we deserve this amazing outcome with so many still in the trenches.  Our hearts break for everyone battling infertility and we want everyone to get their joyous results too.  Also, I am all to aware of our how delicate this pregnancy is and will just have to wait and watch and keep trusting and praying that God will bring it to fruition.   I will never forget the road that has led me here and those that have journeyed with me.  Thank you for your support, your care and all your prayers.

I will keep you posted with our next results on Thursday.

BLESSED to be PUPO!!!! 1dp5dt

I can’t believe I am typing those words.  Long before IVF was a consideration for us and the hows and what ifs of our fertility were bent on timing and OPKs, in the days when I first began blogging, I remember seeing that as a part of someone’s blog title.  I remember racking my brain trying to figure out what it could mean.

1dp5dt:  1 day post 5 day transfer

Here we are and what a glorious cycle it has been!  I can’t even believe it.  Where to start?  All I can think to do is keep thanking God for his grace to us in this journey…but let me give you a little more detail first.

Yesterday was our embryo transfer.  It was went very smoothly.  Our Acupuncturist met us at the clinic and I was so thankful to have her there.  With a bladder full and screaming to be emptied, I was so glad the pre treatment needles helped the time to pass quickly.  Next my RE..if you don’t mind I just gotta give him a few kudos before proceeding.  We just LOVE him and can hardly believe we are so blessed to have him as he is one of the top rated in the country AND he came in on a Sunday to do my transfer though he wasn’t on call. What a guy!  Ok, back to the story, following the acupuncture, he and the embryologist came in to give us the good news….

Of the 10 that fertilized…9 had made it to the BLAST stage.  We were pretty overwhelmed initially, having expected only a few to survive to this stage of the game.  We transferred 2 embryos. For those of you interested, we transferred a 5AA and a 4AA.  Following our post treatment acupuncture it was off to our home and on to the couch.  I am on strict bed rest for 48 hours.  I can get up to use the bathroom but that is about it.  No showers allowed until Tuesday morning.

Bed rest has proceeded uneventfully.  My husband has such a servant’s heart and has blessed with me so much care over the last day and a half.  Home cooked meals, pillow propping, companionship, lots of good conversation.  I am enjoying our time together though I am EAGER to get off the couch and into the shower tomorrow.

This afternoon, I received more good news.  Our embryologist called to report that she was able to freeze 6 embryos.  All grade AA!!!!!!!  Unreal.  1 6AA, 2 5AA, and 3 4AA.  WHOA!  She told me that our cycle was absolutely amazing and they rarely see anything like it. To have 9 of 10 make it to the blast stage, all grade AA and to only have 1 fail to freeze…OUTSTANDING! We are once again feeling overwhelmed and humbled by God’s goodness to us.  I give him all the credit though I am thankful to have taken all the supplements I did to increase egg quality.  They seemed to have really payed off!

Anyway, I’m not sure how this will all turn out…but as of today, I am PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) and I couldn’t be more thrilled!!!

Here’s a scanned picture of our 2 sweet embies.