“Some kinds of sadness don’t leave us, not because we want to be sad, but because we want to keep reminding our souls of how brave they were to overcome such pain.” –N. Zebian
“Some kinds of sadness don’t leave us, not because we want to be sad, but because we want to keep reminding our souls of how brave they were to overcome such pain.” –N. Zebian
I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with clever analogies about trains and tracks, routes and detours, positivity and baggage, but sometimes life is, simply, too much for positivity train parallels.
Everything was going along as expected. My HCG level was rising accordingly, I was having the pesky early pregnancy symptoms, I was anxiously awaiting my ultrasound on Friday the 30th, but I felt, for the most part, calm. This time things just felt right.
That was until Sunday morning. I woke up after having a terrible nightmare in which I was in a crowded building trying to tell someone I was miscarrying my baby, but no one could hear me. Needless to say I was freaked out, but I told myself to calm down…it was just a nightmare…the baby is fine. That was until I went into the bathroom and realized I was passing brown clots. I immediately called our fertility center and spoke to the nurse on call. She assured me brown clots were not concerning, but said someone would call me back in a little bit. Half an hour later my usual nurse Marsha called and reassured me again that brown clots and cramping was normal, but implored me to call again if I started passing bright red blood. I spent the majority of the day lounging on the couch, silencing the voice in my head saying something was wrong and forced myself to get dressed and go to dinner with my in-laws.
By Monday I felt mostly better, I was still passing small brown clots, but the cramping was minimal. I went to work and tried to busy myself, but I realized the voice in my head simply could not be silenced. Regardless of what everyone was telling me…something felt wrong. (I should note this week is the same week I miscarried our Warrior last year, so my guard was up). I called our IVF center and spoke to the nurse covering for my nurse, I told her I recognized everything I was feeling was ‘normal’ to them, but it didn’t feel right to me. I used the phrase drilled into a nurse’s head when something doesn’t feel right “I have a concern.” She told me she was going to speak to my physician and call me back. Ten minutes later she called and said my physician was fairly confident everything was fine, but to come in Tuesday morning at 930 for an ultrasound just so we could make sure. I jokingly said to her “Is he doing this because he’s worried something is wrong or because he’s worried I’m losing my mind.” She laughed and replied “Probably a little bit of both.” I went home from work Monday night feeling better, knowing we would see our doctor the next morning was reassuring. Dan and I watched some trash TV and we went to bed around 10pm.
At 10:15 I started having terrible cramps, like the first day of my period. I lay in bed performing deep breathing exercises and practicing mindfulness…’everything is fine’ I kept repeating to myself. I figured if I convinced myself everything was fine, maybe everything really would be fine. By 10:45 the cramping hadn’t stopped and I felt a terrible sensation something was really wrong, I crept into the bathroom and was horrified to find I wasn’t passing small brown clots anymore, this was bright red blood. I opened the door to our bedroom and as the bathroom light caught my husband’s sweet sleeping face I felt an overwhelming feeling of dread…In 30 seconds I was going to wake him up and blow up his entire world.
And that’s exactly what happened.
We rushed to the local ER where I tried to remain as calm as possible as I told the triage nurse I was fairly certain I was having a miscarriage. My hand shook as I reached out my arm to have her place my ID band on, but I refused to cry…I needed to stay in control, now was not the time to breakdown. We waited 2 hours for an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech asked a few questions as she performed the scan and at the end she turned to me and said…
“This is Baby A…and that’s the heartbeat” and then moved the probe and continued “This is Baby B…and that’s the heartbeat” Dan and I looked at each in absolute shock…TWO babies, TWO heartbeats. I asked the ultrasound tech if she ‘off the record’ could tell me why there was so much blood (it had been less than 2 hours and I had already soaked through a pad) and she shrugged “I don’t know, truthfully, there is a lot of blood in your uterus, but there are also two heartbeats.” And so I was wheeled back to my room in the ED and Dan and I waited.
…and waited…and waited.
The nurse and physician assistant who had been caring for me checked in a few times, but stated we were still waiting for the official read from radiology on my ultrasound. Around 3:30am the ER physician came in and explained that my ultrasound had been read…yes, there were two babies and two heartbeats, but Twin A’s heartbeat was very slow. (69bpm, it should be between 90-110bpm, Twin B’s was 109). I also had a large sub chorionic hemorrhage (hematoma) and some blood in my pelvis. He calmly explained that between the blood and Twin A’s heartbeat he was diagnosing me with a ‘threatened miscarriage’ and then said “I think Twin B is a viable pregnancy, I do not think Twin A is.” He agreed to discharge me because I still had my appointment with our fertility doctor that day. (At this point it was almost 4am). Both he and the nurse sent me off with the same sentiment… “Sorry…and congratulations.”
Fast-forward 5 hours and I was again sitting in exam room 7 with our fertility MD. He initially did an internal which revealed my cervix was still closed, he said this was an excellent sign. Then he started the ultrasound: Twin B’s heartbeat was found right away: a strong 110 bpm. Twin A’s…well after searching for what felt like an eternity…my doctor looked at me and for the second time in 14 months stated “I am so sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
I wasn’t stoic this time. Tears streamed down my face as our physician explained the hematoma was massive and was directly next to Twin A. Sub-chorionic hematoma’s occur in about 1% of pregnancies and are the cause of 20% of first trimester bleeding, normally they cause no harm to the baby. Sadly, mine was just really bad luck…it was too big and too close to A. The good news is there was no evidence of active bleeding, the bad news is there is no way to prevent another bleed.
Which is why I sit here in my bed writing this long and detailed blog post, because I have been officially placed on bedrest for an undetermined amount of time. I go back to the doctor tomorrow for a repeat ultrasound to check on Baby B, but my physician explained we need to treat this (for the time being) as a high-risk pregnancy, he said we cannot take any chances with Baby B.
My heart aches today. For the baby that wasn’t and for the baby that is. I won’t physically miscarry this time, if baby B continues to thrive, baby A will simply be ‘absorbed’. I’m not really allowing myself to mourn the loss of A, because I am afraid of how that will affect B. I’m so profoundly grateful this baby’s heart is still beating, I’m trying to live in the happy place I’ve created around that.
So for now, I’ll sit in my bed. I’ll watch trash TV, read books and blog. I’ll try to keep my mind occupied with positive thoughts. I’ll remind myself repeatedly that we still have one growing baby and how much luckier that makes us than so many. My doctor asked me Tuesday how long (financially) he could keep me on bedrest and I joked “for the next 8 months if it means I’ll deliver a healthy baby” and truthfully Dan and I both agree if bedrest is the best thing we’ll make any sacrifice we have to to ensure a live birth.
This train is certainly not taking a smooth ride, but for now, at least, we’re still on the right tracks.
“There are all these moments you don’t think you will survive. And then you survive.” –D. Levithan
“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.” –J. Guare
…well I’m not riding off into the sunset on my train just yet, but so far my blood work has confirmed a pregnancy!!!!! (as have 2 home tests because, how could I not?!) The husband and I are overwhelmed with happiness, it is hard for me to find the words. But, we are also aware that we’ve been here before and while positive pregnancy tests and HCG’s going in the right direction are something to celebrate, they do not promise a baby. So today, we celebrate what we have and look forward to our ultrasound on the 30th. My motto right now is to take this all one day at a time…and thus far they’ve been really great days.
“She was always waiting, it seemed to be her forte.”- D.H. Lawrence
Well we’re officially in the 9 day wait.
Transfer day was uneventful. The two weeks prior to transfer I kept having issues with my estrogen level (one day it was 766 and 3 days later it was 94) so my doctor kept changing the number of patches I was wearing and increasing the frequency of bloodwork and eventually he decided to add oral estrogen as well. I found this to be slightly stressful, but at the same time worrying about my estrogen levels served as a fairly simple distraction from worrying about our transfer. (In truth the estrogen number wasn’t that important as my lining was at 12mm and it really only needs to be greater than 8mm). By the day of transfer my number was well above the 200 mark they told me the body needs for implantation so everything worked out with that.
With regards to transfer day: I woke up early, did yoga and tried to get myself in a very relaxed mindset. My transfer was scheduled for 1030am, but the nurse came in at 1025am and told me our doctor had been called upstairs for an emergent ultrasound, so me (and my full bladder) would have to wait. Now, last year is this had happened I am 100% sure I would have been freaking out, complaining about my bladder, getting myself worked-up and anxious….but this year…well I just sat there with my husband quoting lines from ‘The Office’ and when I started to feel uncomfortable from my bladder, we reenacted the Bluth family being chickens on Arrested Development. (Has anyone in this family ever even seen a chicken!?) Mind you, I recognize this is a very weird way to spend your time, but the husband and I wanted to laugh and these things make us laugh. By the time our doctor came in (closer to 11am) I was still in my happy/calm/Zen place.
When we went into the procedure room for the transfer the nurse commented on my especially full bladder (glad to know I still excel at that hah) and started the ultrasound. When my doctor came in he took over the ultrasound in order to find the perfect spot to have her hold the probe and said “Sorry, I’m going to be a little anal-retentive today…I cannot begin to tell you how hard Meghan here has worked for these embryos.” It was a simple comment, but it meant a lot to me in that moment to know he recognized how important this transfer was for me and Dan.
So here we are 4 days in…research says if one (or two) of these embryos are going to implant they’ve done it by now. So now I spend the week just trying to keep my mind peaceful, my body relaxed and my heart optimistically hopeful. (But if this train could hurry up and get me to Sunday that would be awesome.)
“Courage is not closing down and denying yourself of hope. Courage is being tender with your vulnerability and acknowledging how much you want it, whatever it is. Courage is also believing in your own strength no matter how it turns out.” –R. Ray
*Today’s words courtesy of Instagram, I follow this woman’s account which is basically just really inspiring/motivating words and almost fell off my chair when I read these ones. So here I am, moving forward with as much courage as possible for Friday.*
So a lot has been going on over here. All leading up to my transfer next Friday!! Yes, I repeat NEXT FRIDAY!!!
From the IVF end things have been fairly routine: I had my hysteroscopy May 1st: our physician ended up doing an endometrial scratch, D&C and removing a polyp. (I can proudly admit I woke up from anesthesia smiling this time, no tears!) All the biopsies came back benign and at last week’s ultrasound everything looked great. I’ve been on Lupron since May 3rd and started estrogen patches May 14th. Aside from the Lupron induced headaches and the terrible rash I get from the patches adhesive everything has been smooth sailing… (My husband would probably argue this isn’t entirely true, as I’ve been known to cry over ice cream and have more than once cursed at him for not leaving our bedroom windows open the right amount…but this is my blog, so I can pretend my hormonal hysterics aren’t that bad). I start Progesterone on the 28th (the dreaded IM) and transfer is scheduled for June 2nd.
From a personal end I’ve been really focusing on keeping myself in a state of “peaceful positivity”. I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing mindfulness, whether it’s really focusing on my breathing during yoga or settling my mind while meditating I feel as if I’m the most calm and collected I’ve been in a long time. (Of note, I did have a mini-mental breakdown 2 weeks ago which I attribute to a combination of hormones, stress at work and the basic fact that I’m my mother’s child and I was looking at celebrating my 1st Mother’s Day not with her and also my 4th not being a mom while trying to be a mom…so I did what any mature adult does: I booked a flight to Florida and spent 4 days with my family. Nothing comforts me like laughing hysterically with my sister and watching my dad roll his eyes when my mom and I ramble after 2 glasses of wine…) But, now I’m back in my happy, calm, peaceful place.
Dan and I decided to get away this weekend, so we’re leaving for Cape Cod on Friday where we’ll spend 4 days relaxing, eating seafood and drinking wine in our favorite place. He keeps calling it my ‘last fling’ which I really hope is true, but I also know I should just appreciate it for what it is: 4 days of bliss with my favorite human.
This Wednesday is my last scheduled shift at my per diem job for a while. I told my director I just need to really focus on taking care of myself and it’s difficult to do when I’m running like a mad woman in a busy ICU. (Because going 8 hours without eating, drinking or peeing is not healthy). I love being a nurse there, but I know the environment isn’t what I need right now. I’m also lucky enough to have the security that come July or August, when I feel ready to go back to the chaos, my job will be waiting for me.
Dan and I also made a conscious effort to make plans for the summer. We’re going to Florida for our nephew’s birthday and Virginia for our Goddaughter’s Baptism in July, we’ll be in Boston after another nephew is born in August and plan on spending at least one more long weekend in Cape Cod. We’re also doing some things around the house and it’s finally starting to feel like our home. I think there is a silent agreement between the two of us, that while we both hope I’ll be pregnant for all these fun events ahead of us this summer, we cannot stop living if I’m not. Gone are the days when we put our lives on hold waiting for baby.
Last week I went to visit my grandmother and she looked at me and exclaimed “You look good Meghan…better than you have in years.” And while the sting of knowing I’ve looked like garbage more often than not recently hurt a bit, I can also appreciate the compliment my grandmother was trying to give. I feel better than I have in a long time. I feel good about where I am in life. Regardless of what happens with the transfer I feel at peace…I truly feel as if I’ve done everything I could to make this IVF cycle successful. At some point you have to recognize it’s out of your hands…it’s up to science and those embryos now.
So that’s all I’ve got. I hope in a few weeks I’ll be writing about our successful transfer and sharing some happy news, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that I know I’ll survive if not.
Feel free to send any wishes, prayers, positive vibes or whatever it is you believe in our way. This train runs on positivity remember…choo choo.
“Some people survive and talk about it. Some people survive and go silent. Some people survive and create. Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously, remember…you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit so quietly before you, looking like a calm ocean on a sunny day. Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. Whilst somewhere the water is calm, in another place in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.” -N. Gill
This is my second year blogging during NIAW (my 3rd year being an active resident of Infertility Island) and Lord do I feel like a lifetime has passed in the past 3 years. Looking back to this time last year I was only weeks out from our miscarriage (I was still going to our fertility center every 3 days to trend my HCG levels, they wouldn’t say I ‘completed’ my natural miscarriage until my level was back to 0…), and I was a mess. I can remember how I felt this time last year: I was filled with grief over the loss of our Warrior, but also so much anger, resentment and disappointment. It’s not pleasant to remember. Two years ago we were just at the beginning of our infertility journey (I genuinely hate using the term ‘journey’ because it reminds me of every episode of The Bachelor, but work with me here), Dan and I had just met with two different genetic counselors and were fairly confident in our decision to pursue IVF, but we were weeks away from meeting with our fertility specialist and being told IVF wasn’t just ‘one of our options’ it was ‘our only option’. I was overwhelmed, but did not yet grasp what the future had in store for us. Go back even further to April 2014, I was 2 months off birth control and every month held excitement and promise…our conversations about having children were still all rainbows and sunshine. It’s been a long road for us and for some reason this week causes me to reflect on that. But instead of writing a post about infertility, I’ve decided to write a post to infertility instead…
You snuck into my life three years ago like an unwelcomed houseguest who tore through my happy home, uprooting every aspect of my life and refusing to conform to my house rules. You laughed at my dreams, you mocked my hope, you spit on my perfect plans. You were hell-bent on destroying my relationships, my body and my mind. You were like a teenager with their parents ATM card: you kept taking more money and then not holding up your end of the bargain to earn it back. You kept me up at night, you forced me to go to work with tearstained cheeks and bloodshot eyes, and at times you caused such physical pain I questioned my ability to go on. You forced my hand in almost every aspect of life: you dictated my diet, my job, my vacation schedules, where I built a home and how I spent my paycheck. You made promises you couldn’t keep through heartbeats we never heard. You kicked me when I was down, time and time again. You made me bitter and angry and sad. You made me someone I hated.
And then one day I stopped fighting you.
I welcomed you into my home. I acknowledged how you wanted to live and I accepted that I could live with some of your terrible habits. I made a room for you in my new house and in my heart. I realized I quite like the diet you put me on (I was drinking too much caffeine), the yoga you force me to do daily and the mindfulness you strong arm me into practicing was decreasing my stress level. I realized if I shared you with my friends and family, if I talked about you and shared the details of how my life was changing because of you, that they could teach me different ways to accept you. They grabbed hold of some of the luggage you were forcing me to carry around and it became bearable, it (and I) became lighter. You were an uninvited marriage counselor, you forced Dan and I to acknowledge where we fell short as a couple and inspired us to be better in every aspect of our marriage. You were a cruel teacher at times, but I recognize I needed almost every lesson.
And overtime, without really noticing, I stopped seeing you as the enemy.
I stopped seeing you as something destined to destroy me and realized maybe, in your own terrible way, you were saving me. You were forcing me to be kinder, more present in my life and more generous with my love. You taught me to appreciate the little wins in life, because they really do sustain you during the big losses. You taught me to take the time to tell the people I love how much I love them and appreciate them, because nothing is ever promised. You replaced years of seeing myself as someone weak and insignificant with a profound sense of strength and the knowledge that I’m a survivor. You taught me every lesson there is to know about love.
I don’t doubt you have more to teach me. I don’t question that I will still curse you at times. I am confident you will continue to irritate me and make me cry. But I will remember to say thank you. I will remember that even though you came into my home and rearranged every part of my life, I like where you put some things. You’ve been a terrible companion, but you’ve made me a better friend.
I hope someday you leave. I hope someday there isn’t room for you in my house. I pray you get kicked out by 1 (or 3) of these little embryos we fought so hard for. But even after you leave, when every aspect of my life isn’t dictated by you, when you don’t occupy every moment of downtime in my mind, I’ll remember you. I’ll remember how you changed me, by forcing me to change myself.
So, infertility, thank you…thank you for all of it.