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On holiday

12 Jun

Thank you for everyone who has been following along.  I admit that my attempt to have a baby story has gone on way longer than I ever could imagine!  I SO appreciate your comments and posts and it means so much to me that you took the time to stop by.  This can be a lonely journey, but it feels a lot less lonely with your company and support.

To help recover from everything and treat ourselves a little Mr. Star and I are taking some time off and going to Maui for a week.  We leave tomorrow morning and I can’t wait!  We are celebrating 9 years together.  Although this is sadly not a baby-moon too, the one positive is that I don’t have a pregnancy (aka impending miscarriage) to stress about, which does make it a more relaxing trip.  Nothing is off limits.  Swimming, hot tubbing, wine, exotic foods (sushi and cheeses),  sex and water sports – all part of a good vacation are back on the menu.

When we get back it will be back to all this stuff again, We are scheduled to meet with two surrogacy agencies after we return.  We found two candidates we actually like!  If you have any surrogacy stories or know of any surrogacy blogs that I should check out, please let me know!  We are still new at this and finding our way around.

I also want to update my blog page.  My husband warned me to use a different image saying that it was bad luck.  He said that since there were 6 starfish, which meant we would have 6 miscarriages (we had only had 3-4 at the time).  Wouldn’t you know it, it came true!  Stay tuned for something new.

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I wish i was a seahorse

2 Jun

We had our follow up consultation with the IVF doc yesterday.  I left the fall feeling crest fallen.  He advised that given our history that it wasn’t worth it to try again.  He thought it would be a waste of time.  Instead he recommended that our best shot at biological children was with a gestational carrier.  He confirmed what we thought all along.  There is something wrong with me that we currently have no treatment for.

The alternative to the gestational carrier would be to try IVF with an egg donor.  From there Mr. Star and I debated the pros and cons of each.  Since it sounds like our embryos are fine (as far as we know) the gestational carrier makes the most sense.  Also I think in the long term, having the biology will outweigh the carrying/giving birth connection.  At this point I think my embryos would be safest in anyone other than me.  Hell, I think even Snookie could be a good surrogate at this point.

While I had suspicions of this all along I also had deluded fantasies that if we just kept trying one of these days something would work.  Even now I have fantasies that we will get pregnant naturally and magically have a healthy full term baby.  I’d heard so many anecdotal stories that ended with this.  Why couldn’t that happen to us?  The statistics seemed to be on our side, at least in the beginning.  70% of women who have had 3 losses go on and have a healthy pregnancy.  Remember that?  Once it gets to 6 losses the odds are down to only 40%.  So after 10 are your chances only 0%?  Maybe statistics in this case are not very helpful, or even applicable.  The statistical odds of having 6 miscarriages are so low that I don’t think anyone can really explain what someone in that situation can expect.

Changing gears really feels like giving up, especially considering how long we’ve been on this path.  Part of me is grateful for his honesty and not getting our hopes up for another try that would also end in failure.  Maybe this is just what we needed to finally stop trying and give up on having a baby the “normal” way.  Normal at this point just means I conceive in some way or another and carry to term a biological baby.    Giving up natural conception to IVF was a huge blow.  Now giving up the pregnancy is the next.  Logically we should have gone to adoption years ago.  But Mr. Star didn’t and still doesn’t think we are at that point.  And I had my own struggles with the concept of having a biological mother out there who is “the real mother”.  So we are left with two options both super expensive and both assuming a major loss for me either to my biology or to my role as the carrier.  And it goes without saying that both are giant blows to our bank account (and my ego, what’s left of it that is).

To top it off, after this dismal phone consultation I had a rough rest of the day.  I had an appointment to see a my new counselor for the second appointment but somehow I mixed up the time and arrived 30 minutes too late.  The receptionist told me after I arrived (and drove 25 minutes in rush hour traffic) that she needed to reschedule and that I was late.  I thought I arrived right on time and was more than ready to have a chance to talk about all this stuff going on for me with someone.  Instead I felt like I had the reverse of counseling. I got back in my car totally upset and angry and now having to drive 25 minutes back home in rush hour traffic knowing the whole drive was a waste and it was my fault.  To top it off, they told me that she had to go because “she has to pick up her daughter”.  I barely know this person, but now I already know she is a mom with a young daughter.  I can’t help but think of this the next time we meet.  I really don’t want to know this about my c0unselor.  Seriously!

And finally we had plans for dinner with friends.  They brought their 2-year old with them and I just spontaneously burst into tears.  It was totally awkward and everyone was averting their eyes and trying to change the subject to something funny.  Normally we get together afterwards to hang out, but they didn’t even bring it up.  It was like I was left out to dry with my grief and burned a bridge at the same time.

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.”

Ticket to ride?

12 May

If pregnancy was a train ride, I’d say I keep getting kicked off at the first stop because my ticket expired.  On this particular ride I feel like my ticket might not even be valid.  I’m hanging onto the back hoping to make it to the first stop anyway, but I’d really feel better if I at least had something to go on that suggests I can at least make it that far.

I took another pee test today and as you can see by the faded line, it’s giving me the finger.  The second line is just pink enough to say “Yeah, ok, it’s positive”, but not dark enough enough to say “You’re pregnant!  Next step ultrasound!”.

It’s another level of tentativeness to this that I don’t need.  This may be the shortest ride ever, so I need to just sit tight and try to enjoy what I can before it’s all over again.

We’re back!

28 Nov

So after a long hiatus from trying and failing we are back to trying again to get this family started.   Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted I feel like I should give a recap of what’s been going on.  After 5 consecutive pregnancy losses (each at 8-10 weeks) we dragged ourselves to the Alan Beers Center in August to look at possible immunology causes and treatments.  According to their nurses they have an 85% success rate, that is IF you follow all their recommendations.  So we bit the bullet and went for it.  After spending thousands on blood tests we were told I had elevated Natural Killer Cells and low Leukocyte Antibodies.  Based on this we were advised to go to Mexico twice for Leukocyte Immune Therapy to treat both issues.

We did it (see previous post) with two trips to Mexico and got retested to see if our levels improved.  Our test results came back today and (drumroll) our numbers are excellent now!

  • LAD
    Before :19.7
    Now: 95.9 (Excellent!  We were just shooting for 50 to be in the “healthy” range.)
  • NK Assay 50:1
    Before: 21
    Now: 14.5 (normal, no longer elevated)
  • NK Assay 25:1
    Before: 11
    Now: 7.1(normal, no longer elevated)
The only test number that is still in the problem zone is my CD56 ( These are the NK cells in the uterus) They went from 19 to 17.8 (and should be 12 or less).  Because we have elevated CD56, they want us to do an infusion of IVIG if/when I get a positive pregnancy test. This is supposed to help”calm” my killer immune response in the uterus during pregnancy.  I am not at all excited to do this one as IVIG still creeps me out a bit plus it is pricey, $2500 per infusion.
I started Femara this month to up my odds (my last three pregnancies happened in month 2 on Femara).  Here’s hoping we get lucky in the first few months again.
On the emotional front I’ve just been crashing.  The anxiety from waiting for all the treatments and tests and wondering if any of this makes any difference and if we we will EVER have a healthy baby is back in full force.  Sometimes it was even hard to read others’ blogs on the subject which is why I stayed away.
January will mark our four year anniversary for trying for a baby.  With each loss I felt my own level of confidence and satisfaction with life just plummet further.  Four years later, this whole thing has gone from fun to a complete nightmare full of humiliation, heartbreak and a constant fear of time running out.
Right now I am trying to think positive, relax and get into a low stress mode that is more conducive to baby making.  According to my fertility friend calendar my peak day will be on Thursday of this week.

What next?

29 Jul

I felt pretty depressed and crappy these last few days.  Sad about where I am in this path.  Looking back and wondering where the time has gone.  Pissed off at my rotten luck and my lack of answers.  We saw our RE yesterday and talked for a very long time.  This was our first visit since the D & C and she didn’t even take a look under the hood.  It was a meeting to refer us to a clinic that offers immunology testing and treatment.  They don’t do that in house at their clinic so it’s almost like we’ve hit the end of the road.  I had been planning a big ramp up to IVF with PGD but now that we have these test results (normal 46, XY, ie. healthy baby boy) I don’t know know what to do.  If we HAD done IVF with PGD, we would have implanted this healthy boy embryo and sure enough I would have miscarried it.  It makes no sense.   What does make some sense is the hope that maybe finding an issue that may be treatable with my immune system may help.  It at least has some logic to it.  We’ve ruled out all the other possible causes of pregnancy loss.  Perhaps my immune system is just rejecting my babies as it would a transplanted organ.  No research or studies is going to help.  My doctor said the only way to know what is going to work is to try it.  It’s come to this.  I figure it’s worth it.  If we are able to do these treatments and skip IVF, even better.  While I am open to anything right now, donor eggs, sperm, embryos, surrogacy, etc. I really want to give the natural biological thing a shot.

On the waiting end my hcg levels are still up there (190).  I guess if I took a pee test today it would still come up as positive.

Meanwhile my mom just emailed me something about adopting Russian orphans.  Clearly she had given up.

On a happy note we watched Cedar Rapids on Netflix (a comedy that most people missed in the theater).  Totally funny!  Tim:  “How do you make the tiger dance? Man: You gotta show them a little teet

Who do you tell?

26 Jul

My parents recently forward me Wall Street Journal story: “My Fertility Crisis” by Holly Finn (excerpted from The Baby Chase).    I love that they were thinking of me, but I admit I was a bit concerned.  It sounds like, now whenever they hear a story about someone struggling to have kids they think of me.  It’s very thoughtful of them, but it makes me feel really sad to get these emails as it makes it clear that this is what they are thinking of when they think of me.  Kind of embarrassing I guess.  Even the article title freaked me out with the word”crisis” and the phrase “baby chase”.  It screams of desperation.  I guess it has gotten to this point. Yikes!  Somehow looking at myself through this lens REALLY makes me feel even worse off.  Believe it or not I actually had some optimism, but reading this story made me feel foolish for having any hope what so ever.

On another note, one thing the article did was call out the tendency to talk about this online and only online. I am completely guilty of this.  I have a lot of friends and family that know nothing (other than the obvious fact that I don’t have kids and I’m 7 years married).   They don’t know about any of the pregnancies, miscarriages or the incredible emotional roller coaster we’ve been riding for over 3 years now.  They just guess and (most likely) talk about us behind our backs with our other friends/family and noone asks us anymore (hello white elephant in the room!).  I don’t tell them because I’ve had enough experiences where I’ve shared a little and felt completely misunderstood and invalidated.  Too many people act like they get what you are going through and then start spouting advice when they have no clue.  Often well meaning friends jumped to the “just adopt” advice or “just get a surrogate”.  These folks clearly have no clue the costs and are talking out of their ass.  (My theory is they want to give you advice to solver your issue quickly to solve THEIR anxiety about it as they feel so uncomfortable hearing about a problem doesn’t have a real solution).   I find myself defending my choice to keep trying and not “just adopting” etc. and getting really frustrated (and feeling insulted) by their directing me, as if I didn’t know about these other options.

The author argues that IFers and RPL-ers should be more up front and outspoken and essentially come out of the closet about their issues as it would help dispel the myths and ultimately help raise awareness, sensitivity and understanding of the issues we face.  For this reason I totally praise those that do, but I can’t follow suit, at least not with everyone.  There are way too many people who just don’t get it and it’s a waste telling them.  Telling them is like “giving pearls to pigs” (my therapist uses this expression).  When I do tell people I really do feel like I am “outting” myself. The difference is that I don’t have a community with pride in its identity behind me.  Instead we are more like a community ruled by shame and embarrassment.  We are all here because our bodies have a disease causing us to malfunction in one way or another.  Our struggle will end one way or another when our childbearing years end and so it is all temporary which makes it seem even easier to avoid telling.

Here is her exact quote:

There’s a reason women flock online for solace. The trouble is, every woman’s experience is subtly different, and IVF success often lies in the devilish details. Beyond empathy, online message boards and autobiographical books tend to offer few useful facts. And even anonymously, not everyone is honest. Online forums are a good start, but if the conversation is contained among those already in hell, myths will continue to be told outside it.

Who do I tell?  At this point most of my good friends know (I define good friends as ones I see 1-on-1 and not just in couples or groups) and select members of my family (my mom and sister).  Co-workers, neighbors, group and couple friends are still cut out.  The Facebook community is totally out (and I’ve blocked most of my fertile friends so I don’t have to see their updates).  I figure if I don’t see them as someone who can support me or be there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on, they don’t need to be weighed down with my story.  Another way to understand it is if they don’t open up personal, vulnerable stuff to me, they don’t get to hear my story.  It’s only fair.

Who do you talk to about this?  Do you tell your friends, family, co-workers, etc.?  How public do you go?  I praise people who do go public but I admit I don’t have the trust-level (aka balls) to go all out and tell everyone I know.  That’s why I have this anonymous blog, I don’t use my real name and I pour my guts out here instead of to the people I see in person.