August 26, 2007


I know I promised to blog about our next steps, and I will, soon. I promise. But right now I'm still sorting through some other thoughts in my head.

I have to admit, I'm struggling with the "Why?"s of the losses we've endured.

Of course, there's "Why me?" and "Why us?" But honestly, to me, those are the less significant of they "Why?"s. The reality is, it happens to some people, some couples. I understand that. I can even accept that the best answer to those questions may be "Why not me?" or "Why not us?" Because really, saying "Why me?" implies at least in some way that perhaps I am less deserving of this than others.

To me, the biggest question is also the smallest: Plain and simple, "Why?"

Forget that this is happening to R and me, or to other RPL bloggers, or others IRL who have suffered RPL. Why does it have to happen to any of us? And like most situations that cause people to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?", there is no good answer. And certainly no obvious answer.

I'm beginning to think that, at least in some ways, we already have the answer within ourselves. The answer to "Why?" is the answer we choose to create by how we respond in the face of our pain and suffering.

I don't feel like I'm explaining this very well, so if you're scratching your head and thinking "What on earth is she trying to say?", my guess is you're probably not alone. I'll try to explain by giving a couple of examples that have stuck with me recently.

While browsing CNN last week, I came across a guest blog by Miles Levin. He was an 18-year-old diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is diagnosed in only 350 children in the entire U.S. each year. Sadly, at the time I came across his post, he had just passed away. His entire post was inspirational and thought-provoking, but one paragraph in particular stood out:

"Unlike many cancer patients, I don't have much anger. The way I see it, we're not entitled to one breath of air. We did nothing to earn it, so whatever we get is bonus. I might be more than a little disappointed with the hand I've been dealt, but this is what it is. Thinking about what it could be is pointless. It ought to be different, that's for sure, but it ain't. A moment spent moping is a moment wasted."

I often feel "entitled" to have children. I feel like it's unfair when I see a mom with her kids, and I don't have any to hug or take to school or bake cookies for. But when I read that paragraph, I realized that Miles is right. My whole life is a bonus, and I've been blessed to experience 15 more years (and hopefully many more to come) of this bonus than he ever got to. It helped shift my perspective back to more on what I do have and less on what I don't have.

The sentence "It ought to be different, that's for sure, but it ain't" also struck a chord. Life should have been different for him. It should be different for me, and for you, and probably for 99.9 percent of us in this world. But it isn't. I need to acknowledge that and keep moving forward, rather than allowing myself to get stuck dwelling on it.

Because, really, who knows how many moments any of us has left? I'd rather spend those moments cherishing what I do have than moping about what I don't have.

Another person I've been thinking a lot about is a woman with whom R and I went to high school. She was in R's class, and I was a year ahead of them. Neither of us knew her per se, but I knew of her. She was homecoming queen, and voted "most likely to make you die laughing" in the high school yearbook.

From what I read in her obituary last year, she kept that sunny, graceful outlook on life to the very end. She was 30 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she died less than a year later. She had been married for a few years but didn't have any children. I don't know if that was by choice, or if she and her husband just hadn't started trying yet, or if they also had problems with IF. But talk about life being unfair. I still get the opportunity to try for kids. She doesn't.

My life may be unfair, it may not be exactly what I want it to be. But at least I still have it. I'm living and breathing and in every single moment, I have the opportunity to make it the best life I can.

Losing these babies that have lived inside me (however briefly they may have stayed) is tragic, no doubt about it. But I'm also slowly beginning to understand how incredibly fortunate I am that my struggle comes in trying to create a new life, rather than fighting desperately to keep my own life from ending decades too early. And if that realization helps me to live life more fully, to take it less for granted and see more clearly all the good things I have to celebrate, then, at least in this moment, I can accept that as the answer to "Why?"

Thank You

I'm still here, and for the most part I'm doing surprisingly well.

The outpouring of support from all of you has helped tremendously, and for that I am very grateful. THANK YOU.

R and I were talking the other night about our reactions to this loss. He hasn't shed a tear or really shown much emotion about it at all. It's not that he doesn't care, because I know he does. But he was so much more emotional when we lost our first baby more than three years ago, so I was getting concerned about him.

He said this whole process has become unreal to him - that seeing all the babies (or lack thereof) on the ultrasound machine's video screen has become like watching a movie someone has made about something unrelated to you. And the injections that he helps me with don't make it any more real, because when you're first thinking about getting pregnant, you think of a romantic night in bed with your spouse, not jamming them with needles day after day.

I can understand his point of view. Obviously it's a little different for me, because I was feeling the nausea and uterine stretching pains and all that stuff. That made it a little more real to me.

But I think I'm getting so much practice at dealing with losses that I'm learning to cope better. For the most part, anyway.

Friday was a bad day. I was in a professional development class all day, and it was a monitored class - in order to get credit, we couldn't leave the room while class was in session. That shouldn't have been a problem, because we were given two breaks in the morning and afternoon, along with an hour for lunch. But as we came back from the second break, I glanced at my phone and saw that it was 10:15 a.m.

Without warning, a thought struck me: "A week ago at this time, I was in my final hour of pregnancy. We were on our way to the surgery center." My eyes filled, my throat closed up, and right there in a class of 100 people, I began to cry. I tried to be as quiet as possible, and I think only a few people around me noticed, but it was still awful. I wanted to jump up , run out of there and hide in the bathroom, but somehow I managed to will myself to stay in my seat. I didn't even have any tissues with me, so I had to just keep wiping at the tears with the back of my hands and try to sniffle quietly.

When I got home, I crawled into bed. R stopped and picked up dinner for us, which I ate while laying in bed, and then I fell asleep. An early night was definitely what I needed. And it's been better since then. I know I'll have more bad days - and more good days - in the future. That's just how grief goes. It's a messy process.

But all of you make it easier. So, again, thank you.

August 17, 2007

The D&C is Done

This morning I was almost 11 weeks pregnant. Now I’m not.

I didn’t want to go to sleep last night, because I knew it meant that morning would come and then I’d have to go to the surgery center. And let them take my baby.

I hadn’t cried much up until today, but I knew today would be different.

I managed to blink back the tears at the registration desk. Then the intake nurse came to get me, and the tears began to fall. The whole time she was taking my vital signs and going over my medical history, she also kept talking about her own attempts to have children. I don’t know how many she lost, but I know she lost one at 7 months. An autopsy couldn’t find any reason why her baby was stillborn.

I continued to cry. She continued to talk, telling me that she and her husband wound up adopting two children. “My son was a great kid, but there’s something off with him. He doesn’t do well as an adult,” she confided. He’s a couple years younger than me. Apparently he got into a knife fight last week.

That was when she suggested we look into adopting. Thanks, we’ve been there. Then she asked how many pregnancies I’ve lost. The tears were still falling. Four pregnancies, five babies. She asked if my doctor had suggested we do any testing to find out what caused them. Gee, there’s an idea we hadn’t thought of. Then she said, “You guys should look into doing IVF or something like that.” Ok, thanks, we’ll consider that.

Finally, she escorted me to the bathroom so I could change into the hospital gown and robe. After that, it was off to the pre-op area. I was composed until Ob walked over to R and me.

“Are you sure?” I tried to choke it out, but it took a few attempts before Ob could understand me. He squatted down in front of me, took my hand and gently pointed out that even if he had somehow overlooked the heartbeat, the baby’s shrinking size was conclusive. I didn’t realize I was squeezing his hand with a death grip until he tried to stand up.

The nurse came to get me, and I had to say goodbye to R. The last time we would get to hug while I was still carrying our baby.

I cried the whole way as she walked me to the operating room. People we passed in the hallway were probably staring, but I didn’t care. I just concentrated on the floor, on forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other. She was very kind, telling me that if I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have to go in. That they would wait as long as they needed to. Do you think they would have minded waiting 20 years? There was no point in putting off the inevitable, so I just kept going.

The anesthesiologist was kind, too. He tried to lighten the mood by making a joke about being at my service as he took my robe. Then I climbed onto the operating table, and he began putting in the IV while the nurse put on a blood pressure cuff.

I remember thinking, “When I wake up, my baby’s going to be gone, and I’m not going to be pregnant any more.” And I remember trying to keep quiet and still as I cried.

Then I woke up. The oxygen mask was still over my nose and mouth, and I couldn’t open my eyes yet, but I realized I was sobbing. The hysterical, heaving, uncontrollable sobs you cry when a brief moment in time has just permanently, gut-wrenchingly altered your life forever. A moment as brief as the flicker of a tiny little heartbeat.

One of the nurses grabbed a Kleenex and pressed it against my eyes until I was conscious enough to move my arms and hold it myself. A couple of times, I heard someone say something about getting R, and then I heard myself begging, “No, please, don’t. Not yet. I don’t want him to see me cry.”

I don’t know how much time passed, but I kept refusing to let them bring him back to the recovery area. He’s seen me cry so many times during the past four and a half years. I know this is painful for him too, and I just can’t bear to add anything more to his pain. But then I heard the phone ring, and my nurse saying, “She’s fine. No, she really is fine. But I don’t know. She keeps saying she doesn’t want him back here. She hasn’t stopped crying since she came out of the operating room. I’ll have to ask her for permission.”

R is a very shy person, so I knew he had to be very worried to have approached someone. I realized that even though I wasn’t letting him see me cry, I was still causing him pain. So he came back to recovery, and I was able to leave about 15 minutes later.

Physically, it hasn’t been bad at all. I suspect this may be a lot less painful than the other four miscarriages were, particularly the first and third ones, for which I refused to take any pain relievers. (The first one because I didn’t know if I’d ever have another pregnancy and was determined to experience every last moment of it; the third one because I was still carrying Twin B at the time and refused to take anything on the very slim chance that the pregnancy would progress.)

I’m home now, and the tears come and go, as I imagine they will for a very long time. But I function best when I know what steps I’m going to take next, so R and I have made some decisions. We’re taking a different approach, and I’m going to focus on some other things, but we’re not giving up altogether. I’ll post more on the plan in a few days.

August 14, 2007

The Flicker of Hope is Gone

We had our 4th ob appointment today. I'm 10w2d. No heartbeat, and the baby measured at 8w4d - 0.3mm smaller than our last appointment two weeks ago.

There's no explanation as to why at this point. Everything looked perfectly normal - for an 8 1/2 week pregnancy with no heartbeat, anyway.

I'm waiting to hear when the D&C will be. It will be my first, even though this is our fifth miscarriage. The others never got far enough to need it. My ob is going to send the tissue for testing to see if it will give us any answers.

This cycle used the last of the embryos we had. We started with 17 during our fresh cycle in July/August 2006. 17. We worried at the time that we had created enough embroys for 5 or 6 families. And now there's none. Not one family, not one baby.

I feel dead inside. I've dealt with the pain of loss before, but this is on a whole new level. I don't know what to do, how to begin to process this. I don't want to eat dinner, I don't want to watch TV, I don't want to work, I don't want to do projects around the house. I guess what I really want is to not be inside my own skin anymore, to not be me. Because if I'm not me, then I don't have to deal with this.

I'm not sure where we're going to go from here. Before this pregnancy, I was getting to a place where I felt like I might just learn to live with being childless. It's not something I would choose as an option (though please know I'm not criticizing those who do). But since at this point that is the reality of our life, and despite trying our very best it still is the reality, I'm not sure we have another alternative but to accept it. After our devastating failed adoption attempts, I don't know that I have the strength to go back to that. And IVF hasn't given us any answers or any successes - it's simply added to the losses and compounded the pain. I don't see us going back to that route, particularly since R's counts are now normal and the RE doesn't have any answer to "why?" and just recommends trying the same thing again. Maybe we'll just try on our own and see what happens.

Progesterone Scare

Why does this process have to be so damned hard?

Every time I start to let myself get comfortable and relax a little, I get smacked upside the head with something that is cause for concern.

This time, it's my progesterone level. My clinic usually stops the PIO and suppositories at 9 weeks, so I went in last Monday to have my estradiol and progesterone levels tested. They were 958 and 45, respectively. The clinic told me to stop the shots.

Because I lean toward the paranoid side, I insisted on continuing the suppositories (with the clinic's blessing) and retesting again (which is something they don't usually do).

The results of yesterday's testing: estradiol is 543 and progesterone is 15.4. I'm not quite as concerned about the estradiol at the moment, but I'm on the verge of hysterical about the progesterone. From what I've been able to find online, it should be around 30 at 10 weeks. I'm 10w2d.

So far, I haven't had any spotting. I did have some minor pains last night and this morning that weren't totally familiar and made me a little concerned, but I was managing to stay calm.

I have a previously scheduled ob appointment in about 4 hours. I'm really scared. I can't imagine that such a huge drop in progesterone is 1) a good thing for the baby; 2) a good thing for the pregnancy in general; 3) a good sign about my body's ability to maintain a pregnancy.

Please excuse me while I go find a paper bag to breathe into for the next 4 hours... I'll post again tonight.

August 08, 2007

We're Both Still Here (As Far As I Know, Anyway)

I really have to get this Google Account thing figured out. Right now it takes me about 10 minutes just to log in, which is why I haven't posted nearly as often as I otherwise would...

I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to post quickly to say that so far, things still seem to be going ok. At our last appointment, Kiddo had grown to measure three days ahead, and the heartbeat was 173 - right on track.

Ob is on vacation this week - (the nerve!) - so my next appointment isn't until Tuesday. It's been the longest 9 days of my life, and there are still 6 more to go.

So far, I've been pretty calm and okay with things. I appreciate all of your comments on my last post. What Thalia said about Liana regretting that she didn't allow herself to enjoy her pregnancy before she lost Zappy really struck a chord. Regardless of whether this ends in 30+ weeks with us holding a healthy, bouncing baby or at some earlier point with a heartbreaking outcome, this is still the only pregnancy I'm going to get to experience with this baby, and I do want to enjoy it.

To that end, I've allowed myself to take a couple of little steps into the world of pregnancy. This week, I asked R to bring home a couple of pregnancy books from his parents' house. (When we moved last fall, I asked him to take all baby related things to his parents; I didn't want them in our new house.) And this weekend, I'm considering going maternity bra shopping with a friend. I'm only 9w3d - I can't believe how quickly I'm outgrowing some of my clothes.

I'll be back soon with more posts...