July 23, 2007

Hope and Stress

Hope is still alive. Today's appointment went well. But this pregnancy in particular, because it is the one that has provided us with the most hope, is also one of the very most stressful experiences of my entire life.

And that's saying something, because I'm not exactly a stranger to long-term, high-level stress: I served as a full-time caregiver for my diabetic, bedridden grandmother when I was 12 and 13 (while still going to school); when my dad left and my mom fell apart right before my senior year of high school, I got a job and spent two years making the mortgage payments before my mom was able to pull herself together enough to function; R and I lived through about two years of continuous uncertainty during which his company conducted 8 rounds of layoffs.

All of those were painful, difficult experiences. But this is different. The stakes are even higher.

Everything went fine all last week. I was calm. I reached yesterday and I thought, "If tomorrow's appointment goes well, I'm going to try very hard to be a normal pregnant person. I'm going to try to relax and enjoy this and let myself blithely, naively think that of course there's going to be a baby - a happy, healthy, perfect little baby - that pops out of me in a few months."


I went to the bathroom last night. And wiped. And saw a chunk of mucous that immediately made my mind think "cervical plug." Followed by, "Oh, God, my cervix is dilating." And, "This can't be good." And, a little later, "Why are those uterine pains not as strong? Does that mean my uterus is shrinking back to its normal size? Oh, God, my uterus is shrinking! This is SOO not good."

You can imagine the night I had. And of course, I went online and found a web page written by a woman who lost something at 10 weeks that sounded a lot like the mucous I saw. Everything seemed fine for her for several more days, and then she started bleeding and miscarried.

I didn't tell R about any of this, because he wasn't feeling well yesterday, and I didn't want to add stress to the headache and nausea he was already experiencing. And I couldn't come post on here because I can't figure out how to get Blogger to let me switch over to the new Blogger, so I have to go through a convoluted process to reset my password every single time I want to log on even though I haven't forgotten my password. And I just didn't have the strength or energy last night.

Fortunately, my appointment was already scheduled for this morning. Once again, I was in tears by the time the ob walked into the room. But he did a cervical exam, and he said my cervix was very tightly closed. He thinks what I saw may have just been the byproduct of all the progesterone suppositories I've been taking.

Then we did the ultrasound, and he was quiet as he studied the screen. I didn't see a flicker anywhere, but then again I didn't have the best angle for viewing. I kept waiting for him to say something, and then finally I couldn't take the silence any more and asked, "Do you see something? Is there still a heartbeat?" There was. Apparently, I need to tell him to speak up sooner next time.

The baby measured right on track. We were hoping Kiddo would be 1 cm today, and it was 9.9 mm - close enough! It measured exactly 7w1d, which is what I am today. And the heart rate had increased to 148 bpm, up from 111 bpm last week.

My ob knows what we've been through, and he's good about not just blowing off my concerns and saying "Everything looks fine, don't worry." Instead, he's taking a much more realistic approach. Last week, after the ultrasound, he said, "This is a step in the right direction, but you're not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot. You've still got a ways to go."

This week, he said, "These are a few more steps in the right direction." I like that he's not just taking a cheerleader attitude, but at the same time, I wish I was the kind of patient that would allow him the luxury of that attitude.

I'm trying to be grateful for this. I want to be hopeful. After almost 4 1/2 years of hell, I want to be happy that we're here, that we're seeing a heartbeat and making progress. But instead, I'm in tears. Partially tears of relief, I'm sure, but if I'm being honest, a lot of those tears stem from fear, too. I don't want to be like this - for Kiddo's sake, for my sake and even for R's sake. But I don't know how not to be.

Larisa of "The Waiting Womb" wrote a post at the beginning of this month about the "ifs" of IF. It struck a chord with me, because I, too, wonder "When will the 'ifs' stop?"

The ob said we could come back in two weeks, but he left it up to me. Our next appointment is for next Monday morning. As we were leaving the doctor's office, R asked me if we are going to have weekly appointments for the whole duration. Yes, I told him, yes, we probably are.

July 17, 2007

A Tiny Little Flicker of Hope...Literally

After I had blood drawn yesterday morning, I decided to call my ob/gyn and have them fit me in for an ultrasound. I wanted visual documentation of how far the pregnancy progressed so that we'd have that information for the future in case we needed it.

The blood test was inconclusive - the number (14,523) was higher than Thursday's (6,849), but the doubling time was 83 hours, which was also a lot slower than it has been (29 hours, 32 hours, 45 hours) to this point. So I didn't know if that meant the number had been higher on Sunday and was on its way down or what.

So at 4 p.m., R and I went for the ultrasound. By then, some of my symptoms had started to return. But I was still completely freaked out. And then, the moment of shock came - my ob said, "There's a sac." And, a few moments later..."And there's a heartbeat!"

I'm still trying to process it. A heartbeat. A tiny, gorgeous little flicker of light. And hope. We even got to hear the heartbeat. It was 111bpm. Ob said anything above 100 bpm is normal at this point. I thought it was supposed to be faster, but he said it should get faster during the next couple of weeks. I haven't googled it yet to see if that's really true or if he's just trying to keep me calm.

I allowed myself to be happy about this last night. And hope has certainly snuck in, in a big way. But at the same time, this makes it even more scary. I know how to deal with an early loss. I know how to deal with "I'm sorry, but the sac is abnormally shaped and it's measuring a week behind. I'm afraid there's no hope for this." I've had lots of practice. But with this, I've had no practice.

The next ultrasound is scheduled for next Monday. Ob understands that I'm going to be extremely high maintenance, so he didn't even try to suggest scheduling something further out. In the meantime, I'm going to try not to freak out quite as much about any fluctuations in my level of symptoms. We'll see how that goes...

July 16, 2007

Disappearing Symptoms

I may have come out of my cave too soon.

Last night, after I posted, I noticed that I wasn't as tired or as nauseous as I have been in the past, and I wasn't as bloated, either. I also had some lower back pain and pelvic pain that made me a bit nervous, although it did stop after a little while and it was mild.

Then when I woke up this morning, I realized that my chest isn't nearly as sore as it had been, even when I go poking at it. And I'm still less bloated.

So far, there's been no spotting. And last time, I still had all my symptoms when the cramping and bleeding suddenly started.

I'm not quite sure what to think. I'll probably ask R when he wakes up if he's sure he gave me the PIO instead of the E2V last night, but I'm sure he did.

I'm leaving for the lab now. I have an appointment in 5 hours, so I e-mailed the clinic and asked them not to call me with the results; I want to get through that appointment and then I'll call them.

July 15, 2007

Will the 4th Time be the Charm?

Obviously, I haven’t been blogging during these past few months. To be honest, it simply became too painful. Our friends in normal life have kids, many of them two or three at this point. We’ve been long since left behind. Friends we made through Resolve, who started out in the same place as us, also now have at least one or two children. We’ve been left behind by the infertile community.

And then the veteran bloggers who were around when I started blogging all moved on to success, along with many bloggers who started after me. And once again, I’ve felt left behind. Everyone else is moving on to the new phase of their blogs – life with pregnancy, life with kids – and here I am basically retyping the same old variation on a theme: I’m pregnant, oops now I’m not; we’re adopting, oops now we’re not.

I needed my life to focus on something else for a while. And that plan was working, until our fertility clinic decided to brighten up the week leading up to Mother’s Day for us. It’s a long story, but for the sake of brevity, let’s just say the clinic’s financial coordinator was telling us we had to do an FET, the RE was insisting that our next cycle had to be a fresh cycle, and we got stuck in a very awkward tug of war between the both of them, who apparently are either unwilling or unable to communicate with each other.

It was handled, in my opinion anyway, very badly. But regardless, the upshot was that we wound up having to do an FET in June. It was a total no confidence cycle – the RE made it very clear that he didn’t see the point of it, and it was obvious that the feeling rubbed off on everyone, R and myself included.

I forgot to go get blood drawn, the clinic forgot to put me on the schedule and so didn’t realize that they should have been seeing lab results for me, I had to self-dose a couple of times, the clinic forgot to schedule a procedure I needed, they added a medication to my calendar that I wasn’t supposed to be taking, I left $350 worth of meds in a hotel room when I was traveling out of town, a bottle of suppositories I brought when I was traveling out of state to the clinic melted and congealed into one big glob of goo, etc. And then, to top it all off, the morning after bed rest ended, I backed R’s truck into a pole. It was pretty much the perfect cap to an absolutely laughable cycle.

And then, of course, the betas came back positive. I’ve had four so far, and they’ve all risen appropriately. I have the next one tomorrow morning.

My enthusiasm for this pregnancy is totally and completely underwhelming, to the degree that it’s causing concern among those who know me well. But it’s the best I can do at this point – it’s all I’ve got in me to give.

I’m 6 weeks today. That makes tomorrow 6 weeks 1 day. And 6 weeks 1 day has historically not been a good day for me. In Pregnancy #1, I began spotting on 5 weeks 1 day, and it ended in a miscarriage on 6 weeks 1 day. Pregnancy #3 seemed to be going fine. No spotting, nothing. 6 weeks 1 day came, and I thought we’d make it past that point. I was starving for lunch by 10 a.m., my sense of smell was very strong, I was running to the bathroom every couple of hours, I made R come bring me a huge dinner at 4:30 p.m., there was not even a speck of spotting. Then, at 7:15 p.m., I felt some cramping. I was in Target. I went into the bathroom, and there was a lot of blood. We lost twin A a few hours later, and then twin B 9 days after that.

I’m nervous and scared, about the blood test and about the whole day. Not that getting through tomorrow means that we’re in the clear by any means. Every day is limbo, and each morning I get up and go through it all over again. It’s like I’m living the pregnancy version of Groundhog Day. If this isn’t going to result in us holding a live, healthy baby in our arms in 7 ½ months, I just want it to be over with now.

Like I said, my enthusiasm for this is less than underwhelming.