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Hang in there

22 May

It’s been quite a week.  Today would have been our first ultrasound.  I knew it wasn’t going to happen even when we scheduled it.  It still hurts to see the appointment come and go.  I am officially un-pregnant as my hcg is now under 2.  The good news is, that’s the last needle poke for a while.

The next question is why?  As usual, we have no explanation.  These things tend to be physical, chromosomal, or possibly immunological.  Because we did CHG, we already know the two that were implanted were considered chromosomally normal.  I was hoping to get some information from the immunology Dr. showing that it was an immune issue.  Their tests came back and showed that no, there were no immune causes.  We tested during the pregnancy and found that my immune system was responding fine with everything coming back as normal or slightly elevated.  So there goes that theory.

My new theory is that my unexplained repeat pregnancy losses all have one thing in common:  me.  Since I can’t pinpoint any specific cause, not even a specific body part or system that is causing this I am really left to just blame myself-  me as a person or my behaviors.  Maybe I should have grilled that burger longer… maybe I should have not been weeding so much…  Maybe I should have just given up a long time ago and started the adoption process.  By blaming myself it is almost easier to accept than to just think the world is a random scary place where unfair unexplained things can happen to anyone at any moment, or in my case, repeatedly happening to the same person again and again. Self-blame naturally leads me to feeling guilt, shame and embarrassment which results in me wanting to just isolate myself from the world and hide.  Each time I get the question “how are you?” I force myself to smile and say “great” when I really just want to tell the truth, but I can’t, at least not to most people.  Since I can’t tell the truth to most people it just takes so much energy to hide the truth and act happy that I prefer to hide at home alone.

The secret keeping and isolation that comes along with RPL is almost as bad as the RPL.  I feel like all my friends just had babies and jumped on a boat and left me abandoned on a deserted island.  I can see their happy status updates on Facebook and we see each other at BBQ’s with their little ones, but they seem miles away.  I feel like I have only 2 choices : be alone or be with friends and feel awkward.  When I stay away from them I feel even more guilty that now I am pushing them away.  I am to blame for my own isolation.    I am not sure what to do.  When we all get together with the kids I am just miserable. I feel like a giant spotlight is on me and my failure to have a baby.  Now that all of our friends (even the gay ones) have at least one baby it’s all they want to talk about and I feel totally awkward around them.  It’s just embarrassing to be there when they all start talking about being parents.  I hate being so lonely, but I hate these awkward social interactions even more. I want so badly to have good news and be able to rejoin my friends, but instead I just feel ashamed and embarrassed that we are still at square one 4 and half years later.  Actually it isn’t even square one, it’s more like negative six.

 

Here is some interesting information about the Hang in There Cat-

The image, of a tiny kitten hanging off a tree branch (or rope in the case above) with the words “Hang In There” has been around since the early 1970s. Many have tried to reproduce the original’s genius, while others, such as The Simpsons, have parodied the motivational poster. In ”The Twisted World of Marge Simpson” Marge sees the poster’s 1968 copyright date and says, “…determined or not, that cat must be long dead. That’s kind of a downer.”

One of the cats from the posters passed away last October, to which singer John Mayer tweeted, “That cat from the “hang in there” poster just died. Makes a man just wanna give up.”

Day After D & C and Final Ultrasound

7 Jul

I am feeling surprisingly upbeat despite what’s been going on.  I have to say that everyone’s comments have been SO appreciated.  This whole experience has been so surreal and having online blogging friends like you guys helps me stay sane and reminds me that we are not alone on this path (even though it often feels like we are).

All in all the experience itself was fine.  I definitely got closure.  It started with my last ultrasound.  I was surprised to see that one week later nothing had changed, there was still a sac, an embryo and a heartbeat- but it was definitely not normal and not measuring up to a normal 9 week pregnancy.  It measured only 6 weeks in size and appeared abnormally formed – not like a normal embryo/fetus should.  The heartbeat was still going in the low 90’s which really surprised me.  This pregnancy has had the best track record of a heartbeat compared to my previous pregnancies and I was amazed to see it struggling for life to the bitter end.  Although it doesn’t prove anything I did get some encouragement that maybe if we just had a healthy embryo in their that my body could actually carry it to term.  Seeing my body support even this crappy pregnancy so well, it makes me think maybe there is still a chance to make a healthy baby in me with the right raw materials from the start (ie. IVF with PGD testing first).  This feels like a big relief as I was seriously researching surrogacy thinking it might be my only option other than adoption.

Next steps are to just wait for the test results.  I am optimistic to hear SOMETHING new.  We are guaranteed to not repeat our last disappointing and un-usable test that showed a healthy female.  “Healthy female” may have been the pregnancy or it may have been me and there is no way to know, so the test was basically considered invalid.  This time we are testing my cells and the pregnancy cells separately in a more extensive test (PDG) from a fancier lab- Gene Security Network.

The other big news is I finally convinced Mr. Star to take me on a vacation!  Other than quick overnights once in a while we haven’t had a real vacation in years.  The last few were cancelled because of medical issues like this or because of Mr. Star’s grueling work schedule.    Since we want to go in the next month and are planning things a bit last minute we are struggling to find deals.  I  had dreams of going to Europe or even Bora Bora, but those require more time to plan and are much more expensive and stressful if we plan to do site seeing too.  For now I am eying resorts in Hawaii as it sounds low stress and is easy to get to from San Francisco.

Also this next weekend my friend is throwing another bash at a nightclub in SF and I plan to take full advantage of the experience now that the drinking ban has been lifted.  ;   )

Game Over

30 Jun

Our third ultrasound showed more growth but a slower heartbeat (less than 90).  So even though it’s still alive in there, my RE expects it is not going to make it and recommended we call it, rather than do another wait and see.  I scheduled the D& C.  Her next available time for a  D&C is next Wednesday, almost a whole week out.  I was hoping we could do something sooner, but I am coming up on a long weekend and that’s just the way it is.

This time we are doing slightly different testing afterwards.  It is actually PGD testing, the same thing many people do at the front end when they are choosing an embryo to implant for IVF.  The hope is that it can provide more information and the odds are better that the test can identify the difference between my cells and the pregnancy cells (unlike last time when my cells dominated).

I know I was optimistic about doing next steps, but now I am just thinking that babies aren’t coming out of my body or from my eggs.  I have little hope in either.  It would be nice to have some confirmation of something working, but at this point all I know is that my body doesn’t want to carry past 8 weeks.  I was excited to try IVF, but there’s a part of me that feels like it’s a giant waste because it requires my eggs and uterus to play a role and they seem to just fuck up everything.  We are definitely completely giving up the old school bedroom trying.  That just seems like a recipe for more disappointment.   For now I think I am going to just fantasize about storks.  Maybe I have better luck with those.

20 Oct

Good news!  We had our genetic counseling today and they confirmed what I was hoping to here.  We are NOT carriers of balanced chromosomal translocation!  Our fetal tissues had a translocation as well as some extra chromosomal material, but it is believed to be a random occurrence.    The results of our individual genetic tests that looked at all 23 of our chromosomes individually (from the test we thankfully already took back in February) show that we are both normal.   The good news here is that we can continue to try naturally and there is no hurry to try the painful and expensive approach of IVF plus PGD as we were considering.  The next steps are trying to get pregnant again naturally and relying on prenatal genetic testing (2 tests- amniocentesis and CVS)

The only bad news is that we continue to have unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss with no new steps to change the outcome for the next round.  The only changes I am making right now is trying weekly acupuncture trying to improve my overall health through diet and exercise.  I’ve been twice so far and I actually do feel something happening to my body while the needles are there.  The specialist I see also wants me to take chinese herbs, but) my RE doesn’t want me to take any herbs at the same time because she is concerned about the affects of the combination with the fertility drugs (Femara and Progesterone).

For helping with the emotional side my RE approved my request for anti-depressants.  I will see my primary care physician tomorrow to ask her for the actual prescription.  Of course I also have my blog community (thank you readers!), message boards, face-to-face support groups (via Resolve and at Stanford), individual counseling as well as (and a loving husband) for emotional support.  Next week there is even a seminar on the topic just up the road at Stanford.   It will be good to hear opinions from other medical experts on the subject.

In case you are interested, here is a nice link to information on recurrent pregnancy loss.