Saturday, March 14, 2009
Then the everything came crashing down in a blink of an eye.
My boss called me into her office. I will admit it. I had no idea what was about to happen. She knew of my plans to adopt and I had made sure I was working as hard as I could even though business was slow. She had been so supportive of our plans to adopt and I felt that being honest and up front with her and working my butt off would count for something. But it didn't. She laid me off. I felt me heart sink when she gave me the news. I didn't understand it but then I knew. When I asked her why me? She said she couldn't tell me but I knew. It was because I was the only one that didn't have children to support. My other co-worker was a single mom who had moved from another state to take the job. Everyone else in the company had little kids. I began crying. I even said, "This is because I don't have kids and I'm not a single mom isn't it?" She wouldn't give me an answer. I told her that now I couldn't qualify for adoption. There was no way I would get approved without a job and all she could say to me was "I'm sorry. I have to cut my ties."
I called my husband in tears and told him the news. I was laid off and that day would be my last day at the office. As I packed up my things and cried one of my co-workers came in and tried to tell me that this was based on a business decision. I told her, "no offense but that is crap and you and I both know it." I will spare everyone the details but if this was a business decision there was no way I should have been the first to go.
So I packed up my things, accepted my severance check and headed home to call my adoption agency and cancel my home study and let the other agency know what happened. I couldn't believe it. I had the contract in hand and was ready to sign and the rug was ripped from underneath me again! This was not fair. Hadn't I been through enough? 3 pregnancy losses, my dog had died while I was on a business trip, I was having trouble getting pregnant and now this? We had worked so hard towards this. My husband had even taken on a second job to save up for adoption and now I was jobless. This felt like another pregnancy loss to me because in a second my dreams of adoption were put on hold.
Feeling extremely depressed I turned to a friend I met on the fertility boards and she sent me this book Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. What an amazing book!! It filled me with hope for the future. The author had been given the same news about her FSH levels and through changing her diet and altering her lifestyle she was able to successfully get pregnant and have her 2nd child after every Dr. she went to had told her she would need to use donor eggs. I immediately went to work. I did yoga, I did visualizations, I borrowed a juicer from my friend and started doing the morning cleanses, I ate organically, I took DHA pills, I did acupuncture once a week (which I loved) I did it all. I took herbs, I listened to imagery CDs. I did everything I could. I even called in on one of the author's call circles and listened to her speak to a bunch of women about infertility and overcoming it. I was a power house. I thought, I need to give this my all.
In the meantime we were still moving forward with adoption but I just had this feeling in me that I needed to give it one last shot before we proceeded with adoption 100%. I hadn't been pregnant in almost a year and thought, if I could just get pregnant one more time. I figured, if I lost that pregnancy I was meant to adopt, if I didn't maybe I was meant to adopt later. Who knew?
August: BFN (Big Fat Negative) Pregnancy test
September: BFN (and delayed period. Had to take Provera to get my period to start again)
That is when we finally had saved up enough money to sign on with an adoption agency to help us locate a birth mom. We were going to move forward with adoption.
We decided to try a new Dr. and he did a full work up. We finally knew conditions I had exactly by name. I was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden (blood clotting disorder treated with heparin or lovenox injections) I had done this already in the 3rd pregnancy but it was nice to know which clotting disorder I had. I also had MTHFR Heterozygous which basically meant that I had a folic acid deficiency and required I take folic acid 3 times a day (which I had already been doing anyways). My progesterone was fine but I would continue doing that anyway just as a precaution. My FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) looked a little high so the new Dr. decided that we would do the Clomid Challenge.
The clomid challenge test is an evaluation of female pituitary hormone levels. The test utilizes the fertility medication Clomid (clomiphene citrate) to increase the accuracy of finding women with decreased ovarian reserve. The clomid challenge test is also known as the clomid challenge, the clomiphene challenge test, the clomiphene citrate challenge or simply CCCT.
Here is how the clomid challenge test (CCCT) is performed.
1. Call the office with the first day of your full flow period. (Day 1). When you call, be prepared to schedule an appointment for either Day 2 or 3 and Day 10 or 11.
2. Day 2 or 3-Come to the office for your blood test and a transvaginal ultrasound.
3. On Day 5, start taking the clomiphene citrate tablets. Each pill contains 50 mg. You will take two pills each day (a total of 100 mg) for 5 days.
4. Day 10 or 11- Come to the office for your final blood test (FSH only).
5. That’s it! You're done
I scored a 10.6 on CD (cycle day) 5 and a 14 on CD 10. Not good results.
They told me I had a 30% chance of IVF working with my own eggs and an 85% chance of IVF working with donor eggs. This broke my heart. I couldn't believe it. I was only 28 years old! My eggs were too old? How could this be? We sat in on a consult with the IVF coordinator and cringed at the prices. We talked to her and said that we would like to look at the donor egg prices as well. I said, "but even if I did donor egg I could still try again later with my own right?"
Her response was, "with an FSH of 14 you should just stick with the donor eggs." That pissed me off. Who was she to say that I couldn't have a baby with my own eggs? I immediately I felt like the office we were in just wanted to rush us into IVF with donor eggs and call it a day. Leaving the office my husband and I decided that we would take some time to think about everything.
Because of my elevated FSH and my 3 miscarriages, I didn't qualify for the money back guarantee so if it didn't work we would be our about 20K which we didn't have anyways.
We decided to go ahead and put any money we were going to save towards adoption. It was hard enough losing babies getting pregnant on my own but to lose a baby after paying 20K would be even harder to handle.
I just couldn't put myself or my husband through that disappointment and heartache so we figured we would explore adoption and continue trying on our own.
I had a friend of mine help me with the gift. I have this thing where I have to personalize everything when I give gifts so I had 3 onies embroidered with the baby's initials, a bib, a bag, and a wooden letter with his name on it. I wrote a letter to my SIL (sister-in-law) but decided that I should just tell her in person why I couldn't go. The day I invited her over I was so nervous. My heart was pounding. I could feel it in my chest. I knew it would hurt to tell her I couldn't attend her shower. I knew it would hurt to see her pregnant. I knew it would hurt, but I also knew I had to face this head on.
She came over and I started to read the letter to her but couldn't stop the tears from rolling down my face. I just handed her the letter and once she was done we talked and I gave her the presents. I felt so much better after that although I still felt filled with sadness and what should have been one of the happiest times in my life. I should have been having a baby shower or inviting friends to come over and see our new son but instead I was mourning the loss still and disappointed from a recent failed medicated cycle.
The day my nephew was born was a hard one. I was so happy for my BIL and SIL but it still hurt to know that I wouldn't get to experience the labor pains, the visits in the hospital, the pictures being taken, the excitement and the joy. God I wanted that so badly.I couldn't bare to go to the hospital. It was just too much.
About a week after my nephew was born I had this strange feeling as I was driving to Walgreen's that I would run into my BIL and SIL and new nephew. Ironically, after I had that exact thought, I turned in and there they were! So I took a deep breath and hopped in the back of the truck and held my nephew for the first time. He was beautiful. What a cutie. I just held him, trying to keep my mind off of thinking how my baby boy should have been just about 2 months older than him. I had all of these day dreams about them playing together and us taking family photos but none of that would be for my husband and I.
As I drove away I felt a lot better that I had seen my nephew for the first time and faced the fears I had felt leading up too that day but I also knew that I needed to keep my distance as well. There would be nights that I would lay in bed and think about all of the wonderful new things my BIL and SIL were getting to experience and it would just bring tears to my eyes. I wanted to be woken up in the middle of the night by a crying baby. I wanted to change diapers and warm up bottles of formula. I wanted all of that so badly. I often wondered- why not me too? It just didn't make sense. I had lost 3 babies and everyone else I knew had gotten pregnant and carried to term on the first shot. It just wasn't fair, but this was my reality.
March: BFN (Big Fat Negative) Pregnancy test
May: BFN (which I found out on my EDD- estimated due date for the 3rd baby)
I usually would get pregnant in about 3 months so I started to think something was wrong. That is when the nurse asked me if I wanted to go ahead and do a medicated cycle to stimulate more eggs. I said sure. I thought I would take some clomid and that would be it but I was wrong.
They had me on all sorts of injections. Human Growth Hormones, Repronex, and Clomid. I don't remember all of the details of the things I did and when I did them but I do remember having to go in for a ton of ultrasounds to see how the eggs were developing. After my first ultrasound I had about 20 eggs that had developed. This concerned my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) because I was only 28 and had produced a lot of eggs but he said that not all 20 of them would mature into eggs that could be fertilized. He sent me home and I continued my regime. The injections were awful. My husband would have to inject me twice a day in my lower back and sometimes I would have to do it to myself in the stomach at work. Once I hit a certain day they had me start taking Antigon to prevent me from releasing the eggs too early.
When all was said and done I had 2 options. Do the HCG trigger shot to release 2 eggs or wait one more day and release 6! 6 eggs scared us big time so we chose to trigger and release only the 2 and we were to do the deed once in the morning once at night and once the next morning. The 2 week wait (waiting to find out if you are pregnant) was awful. I was slightly hyper-stimulated so I was very bloated and uncomfortable. I couldn't wear jeans so I pretty much lived in sweats whenever I was home and drank a ton of Gatorade to help relieve the symptoms.I felt so pregnant. I had all of the symptoms, sore boobs, nausea, fatigue, etc. On top of that I was on progesterone suppositories too so I was irritable and sleepy. My poor husband. The day before I went in for my blood test to see if I was pregnant I all of sudden didn't feel pregnant anymore and knew immediately that the HCG trigger shot had worn off and it hadn't worked. Did the blood test which confirmed a BFN- BIG FAT NEGATIVE :(
I couldn't believe it. I had spent all of that money on those fertility drugs and the ultrasounds, gone through the painful bloating and everything and I got a BFN. It felt like I had just gone through another pregnancy loss. I was so disappointed. I thought for sure we would get at least one fertilized out of all of this. So I started to regret my decision to only release the 2 eggs; Would I have finally gotten a pregnancy to stick had I released 6? Who knows? It may have had the same outcome as all of the rest. But to this day I still wonder.
So June ended in a BFN.
So here is the scientific explanation of LIT according to Dr. Beer's website:
As a result, she does not make the blocking antibody, the baby dies, and her immune system recognizes the placenta as "altered self" (i.e., a cancer cell) and category 1 problems move on to worsen to categories 2, 3, 4 and 5 (see diagram below).
Inadequate blocking antibody formation.
Ineffective camouflage of placenta.
Placental cells fail to grow and divide.
Death of placental cells.
Activation of category 2, 3, 4 and 5 immune problems.
HLA-G: Message sent from father to stimulate blocking antibody.
Blocking Antibody: Protects and stimulates the growth of placental cells.
Placental Cell Death: Consequences of low blocking antibody.
Info taken from Repro-Med (Dr. Alan Beer's website)
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The Monday after I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant I spent the majority of my day under my desk, in my office, just crying on the phone to one of my sorority sisters. It just wasn't fair. How come everyone around me was able to carry a baby to term and I couldn't. I wish I knew the answer to that question but to this day I just don't know.
The saddness and emptiness you feel after losing a baby is unmeasurable but to lose 3 babies just plan hurts right down to the core. The hardest part is that no one around you understands your pain. They just don't get it. They don't understand that although no one saw that baby in the living world (besides on a screen) that baby was a part of you that you have lost.
I think one of the hardest things for me was when a relative of my husband's saw me at a wedding just days after my D&C. I still had some baby weight on me and a little belly and she asked me "do we have a bun in the oven?" I just burst into tears and cried saying, "no, we just lost our baby this week." Her response? "Oh you can always have another one." I don't think she realized this was my 3rd loss and she felt horrible after the fact but boy was that a hard one to handle.
So after I lost the 3rd baby I was faced with a descision. What do I do now? How do I move forward. Not "How do I move on" but "how do I move forward?" I will never "move on" because those losses will always be with me but I can "move forward" and continue on with my life. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well- when all is said and done I better be one of the strongest women in the world!! Not really but you get the point.
We were going to Rocky Point that weekend so I made sure that I took it easy and relaxed. I could already tell this pregnancy was different than the other ones. I was feeling very tired, couldn't stand the smell of certain foods, and my cravings were extreme. I had to have hot spicy salsa, lots of salt, and chips every day. (which worked out because I was in Mexico)
At 7 1/2 weeks we went in for an ultrasound. I was so nervous but felt a little more confident because I hadn't had any of the complications I had with the other pregnancies. No cramping, no spotting etc. When the doctor did the ultrasound we saw the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. A little baby with a strong beating heart. It was truly amazing. I was so happy I had tears in my eyes. We recorded on our phones to play over and over again. The Dr. gave us pictures for us to take home. We had finally done it. This was it! We were going to have a baby!
Once we saw the heartbeat we felt more comfortable telling people about our pregnancy. Yes it was still early but statistics I had read said that there was only a 3% chance of a miscarriage after seeing the heartbeat so we felt confident. I continued on with my shots and was feeling all of the normal pregnancy symptoms. I was even getting a belly. It was so exciting. I had started to show already and I was only 11 1/2 weeks pregnant. I remember one weekend my mom say me and she was amazed at how early I was showing and even said, "this is the real deal this time." (or something along those lines) I was a happy pregnant 28 year old finally on my way to being a mom.
We were going to announce to my husband's family November 1st about my pregnancy but something in me said to have one more ultrasound before we did the announcement. That week, October 30th, I was at work and saw some spotting. I called the doc immediately and they had me come in for another ultrasound. He had told me that this may happen and not to worry because it was most likely old blood but to come in anyways if it happened and we would just make sure everything was okay. I called my husband and he asked if he should come down and I brushed it off like it was nothing. I told him it was going to be a routine thing and that I would tape it for him.
Driving to the appt I had a little bit of fear in me that I was going to get bad news but then I kept remembering what we saw earlier that month and calmed my fears. When I had the ultrasound the RE looked and said, well- there is the baby. Now let's find the heartbeat. He searched and searched and there was nothing. My baby had died 3 weeks prior and I had no idea. I was devastated. I couldn't understand it. I was getting bigger! I had a belly! I had the cravings and the morning sickness. I had it all. How could my baby be gone? How could this happen and I not even know about it? I was in shock. I was so upset my dad had to come pick my up at the Dr.'s office and my husband met me at my parent's house. I remember calling my brother to tell him we had lost the baby and he started to cry. When I hung up I just felt so empty. Like the carpet had been ripped from underneath me. I was there. I had that baby, and then it was gone.
Pictures taken from my journal: 1st pic (7 1/2 weeks with heartbeat)
2nd pic(at 11 1/2 weeks but measuring 8 weeks 3 days-no heartbeat)
They scheduled my D&C for the following day. My husband sat in the waiting room while they did the procedure and watched them carry out a cooler with our baby inside it and send it off for testing. The results came back a month later. It was a chromosomally normal boy. This meant that the baby was healthy and something else went wrong. My RE's theory was that my body saw the baby as foreign and my natural killer cells (cells that fight off disease) caused the pregnancy to fail.
I was once again heartbroken. I had let everyone down. What hurt the most was that I had let my baby boy down. It was my job to protect him and my body might have done this to him. As I was mourning the loss of my 3rd baby my brother-in-law and sister-in-law announced their pregnancy just a couple of weeks after our baby boy had been removed via D&C. The news cut like a knife through my heart. I was happy for them but sad for us. All I could think about was how our son should have been 2 months older than their baby.
Needless to say I shut down. I couldn't handle it. I was still mourning the loss of my baby and couldn't comprehend dealing with yet another person around me being pregnant. I knew for them, everything would be fine. Why couldn't I have that same outcome? Everyone else that gets pregnant knows that 9 months later there will be a baby. Why can't it be that way for me too? It just doesn't seem fair. Believe me, I would never wish what I have been through on anyone. I never dreamed in a million years that I would have such a hard time trying to make a family but here I was- 3 pregnancies and no baby to show for it.
My D&C was Jan 26th 2007 and I still hadn't been back "on track" (if I am being discreet about this). I was still having cramping and spotting and even worse incidents in which I thought I might have to go to the hospital (again, I am trying to spare the details). My new doc, the RE, had and HCG blood test drawn and it came back positive again. They had me go back again 2 days later and do tests and my numbers had doubled at that point it was a viable pregnancy according to the numbers. I was pregnant again!
He immediately started me on the injections and the progesterone and started to track my progress. I had to learn how to inject myself in the stomach twice a day with heparin and take progesterone 3 times a day which made me irritable and groggy and emotional. Just want my husband needed!
On April 13th (Friday the 13th no less) I began to have issues again. I thought, here I go again. I'm losing another baby. Blood tests confirmed that my HCG levels were at 0. The RE now believes it was left over products of conception from the D&C in Jan and was a false pregnancy. We will never know if that was in fact a true pregnancy or not.
After the false pregnancy I was back on track and things seemed to be going well. The RE had my husband and I do an immune therapy treatment just to make sure we didn't have any infections and then in June we were given the green light to try again this time under the care of a specialist.
*HCG levels are what they measure in your blood to tell if you are pregnant or not and if your pregnancy is progressing as it should be.
The NP told me that the chances of this pregnancy being another blighted ovum were like winning the lottery and not to worry. They took my blood and sent me on my way. Well- the numbers came back and they were low, but they wanted me to come in again in 2 days to have another blood draw. (Your numbers are supposed to double ever 2 days in the beginning if the pregnancy is continuing as it should).
My 2nd numbers were still a little low but they were almost doubling so they sent me for an ultrasound. At the ultrasound there was a sac but no baby again. I kept hearing, "it's still early" and I was measuring as I should be. I went in for an ultrasound every week and every week the sac would grow as it should but there was still no baby in there. The painful cramps and bleeding would come and go through the day and I knew I was losing this pregnancy too but the dr.'s just kept saying we needed to hold off until we knew for sure. The pain was unbearable. I would sit in the car on the way home from work and just cry and beg for the painful cramping to stop. I remember screaming- "If it is over then please just let it be over already!" Finally it was determined at my 4th ultrasound that I had another blighted ovum making this miscarriage #2. This time they had me go in for a *D&C. (surgery to remove the baby or remains of the sac to complete a miscarriage).
Going in the for D&C was heartbreaking. I went to the hospital and all I could think about was, "this is the hospital I was supposd to come out of holding a baby in my arms." This was the hospital that was going to make my dream of becoming a mom a reality. But instead, this was the hospital I was having what was left or my baby removed.
It took us 5 months to get pregnant with our first baby. I remember thinking- "what is taking so long?" Little did I know that 5 months of trying was nothing in the grand scheme of things. Many couples try for years before they finally get pregnant. I found out I was pregnant the week of the 4th of July. July 7th to be exact. I was so surprised and shocked and excited. I couldn't wait to tell my husband. He was on the phone when he walked in the door and I just handed him the home pregnancy test. I think his reaction was "already? We got pregnant already?" but he was happy. We decided to tell our close friends at dinner that night. Immediately I felt different. It's amazing how just looking at a positive pregnancy test can change your whole world. So many emotions and feelings run through you. Dreams flash before your eyes of the future you are going to have with this little one that is finally on his or her way.
We thought we would wait for the official word from the doctors before telling anyone else but we couldn't resist. So we told my parents that weekend. We even had thought of a creative way to tell them. A couple of months before we had found these little coins that said Grandma and Grandpa on them. So- when the time came, we gave them the coins. They didn't get it at first but then the light bulb went on and they were excited. My mom and I went and bought the book "What to Expect When You are Expecting" and my husband and dad went out and did "guy stuff." It was such a happy day. We were already talking about possible names and thinking about the nursery.
I went in for my exam at the Dr. and everything looked great and they confirmed the pregnancy. That was a Friday. The following Monday morning I got ready for work and noticed that when I went to the bathroom I had started spotting. My heart immediately sank as I knew this was not supposed to happen. When I called the Dr. they said not to worry about it and said that it was normal since I had just had an exam and to call if I had cramps or if it got worse. So I went on to work and everything was fine for the next couple of days. As the weeks went by I would start spotting again off and on which really scared me. (I'll spare everyone the details) Every time I would call I would get the same old, "it's normal. You are fine. Just wait until your 10 week appointment." The morning of my 10 week appointment I knew I wasn't going to get good news. The spotting had become more and more and I knew this wasn't a good sign. The nurse practitioner came in and did an ultrasound and determined that at 10 1/2 weeks she should be able to see a baby and a heartbeat. All she saw was an empty sac. I was having a miscarriage called a blighted ovum. A blighted ovum is when the sac forms the but the baby does not.
My eyes filled with tears as she gave us the news and my husband just held my hand tightly trying to do what he could to console me. They came in and did blood work and told me that I would miscarry in the next couple of days. I was told that when I felt like the pain was too much and I couldn't take it any longer, to just wait it out for a couple of hours and then everything would be over. Nice advice huh?
So we had to let everyone know the bad news. I remember my mom telling me on the phone how sorry she was. I felt so bad. I felt like I had let everyone down. That I had let me baby down.
That Sunday I began to pass the everything. I will spare the details as they are graphic but the pain I felt was indescribable. I can only compare it to what I think giving birth would feel like. Only when you give birth, you have this beautiful baby in your arms and the memories of the pain melt away. (so I have been told) Shortly after my miscarriage was complete we found out that my husband's grandfather was in the hospital and that we needed to go say good-bye as his prognosis wasn't looking good so we headed up to Heber. I welcomed the trip because it was a way to get away from everything happening back home. I had just wished it was under better circumstances.
It's interesting to see who comes around and who talks to you when they find out you have just lost a pregnancy. Some don't know what to say, some send flowers, some try to reassure you that you can try again, some disappear off the face of the earth. I think my greatest comfort was my 9 month pregnant best friend Rhea. She called before coming over because she wasn't sure if seeing her pregnant would make things worse. For some reason it didn't. Maybe it is because although we had been pregnant at the same time she was far into her pregnancy when I had just found out about mine. I don't know.
The depression and sadness I felt was extreme. I would cry myself to sleep and wake up feeling even worse because not only was a tired from the crying but I was reminded that I had lost a baby. I kept wondering why? Why did this happen? It's just not fair! Another emotion also filled me though. I was also filled with hope because I knew that I could try again and that I would. I knew that miscarriages were common and that I had a good chance that the next time things would work out. I still mourned the loss of that baby but I had a new hope for the future.
The quote that keeps me going is:
"I believe you can keep going long after you think you can't"
This is my journey to motherhood. This is my story.
A boy and a girl sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage.
Wait- that isn't how it goes is it?
But that is how it went for me.
When you hear of someone losing a baby you often think- well, it was a fluke. They can try again. And for most the next time around will have a happy ending and all will be well. In fact, miscarriage is actually quite common. What isn't common however, is 8 losses in a row.
So here is my story.
FIRST CAME LOVE: It all started after I met the man of my dreams in 2002. He was amazing. Everything I had ever dreamed of. I had never met someone so unselfish in my life. I had snagged the most generous guy out there and he was all mine.
THEN COMES MARRIAGE: We dated for 3 years and he proposed the day we got our keys to our first house. In October of 2005 we had our dream wedding. It was like a fairytale come true. The weather was perfect, the bridesmaids looks stunning and the groomsmen looked handsome. We celebrated the night surronded by our family and friends.