For Those of You Just Joining Us

Alternatively known as: Filling in Everyone From Facebook

It’s no secret we’ve struggled over the years to build our family. Various torturous medicated cycles, and then three rounds of IVF and two losses were under our belts (literally) before we had Gus.

Last year we decided to try again, and I rather optimistically thought it would be a walk in the park, now that we’d found a protocol that finally worked.

Boy, was I an idiot.

This time last year, we found out we’d lost another pregnancy. After a few months off and some extra embryo testing, we tried again in the fall, and it honest to god almost killed me.

After that, we decided to explore other options. Adoption. Fostering. People reached out to us about being gestational carriers. We found out more IVF was a possibility, if we eliminated certain medications.

We had a lot of possibilities to consider. But one thing we knew, for absolutely sure, was we were going to wait at least six months so I could recover physically (pancreatitis is no joke, friends).

And then like eight weeks later, clouds parted, and angels sang, and my boobs hurt, and I took the last pregnancy test in my possession on a whim, because why the hell not — they’re always negative — and all hell broke loose.

I got to surprise Mike. Technically I got to surprise EVERYONE, which I never thought would be possible. But I suddenly found myself in the position to surprise my husband with a pregnancy like a REGULAR PERSON, and I was so excited, I told him five minutes before a dozen neighbors and their kids came over for a pizza party, and then was like, “ok, that was the doorbell, lets go act totally normal for a few hours!”

(That’s the flabbergasted face of a man who has had zero time to process what I’m telling him.)

Also, I just want to point out how close I came to being one of those women you see on TLC who gives birth at home on the toilet, because they had no idea they were pregnant. I never got my period after the last loss. I have an anterior placenta, and a breech baby who likes to face my spine, so five months in and I still feel nada in the movement department. Now, maybe the nine weeks of dry heaving would have tipped me off eventually, but we’ll never know for sure. Anyway…

I’m 19 weeks along now, so I’m halfway there. I’m due in early October, but thanks to all my fancy high-risk factors, I’ll deliver by the end of September.

So far, everything looks good. I still have to take blood thinner everyday, and they tested me early for gestational diabetes, which of course, I failed (again.) The good news is, it’s mostly diet controlled at this point, so I’ve only gained three pounds total (to the shock and horror of pregnant women, everywhere). My blood pressure has been great (which was not the case with Gus at all) and more importantly — so far my pancreas seems fine (knocking on all the wood).

After last fall, I genuinely believed we would never have any more children, so just to have the possibility is such a miracle and we’re so excited, and still a little shocked. Thank you, everyone for all the heartfelt congratulations and well wishes!

Another (Good) Surprise 

When I was pregnant with Gus, I was sure he would be a girl.

I’m a girl. My mom is a girl. Her sisters — all girls. My cousins, overwhelmingly girls. All their kids (you guessed it) even more girls.

But at 16 weeks, we found out he was, well, a he. The first boy in my immediate family, in more than two decades. 

And all the old wives’ tales were true. I wanted salty foods. I looked preeeeetty good, glowing and all that. Whatever his heartbeat averaged, meant he was a boy. That old Chinese gender chart (while technically not applicable thanks to IVF) said he’d be a boy.

This time?

I want sweet things. And salty things. Basically I want all the things that aren’t vegetables. But last time, sweet just seemed gross, and this time it seems like a good idea.

And I’m less pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super cute, as long as you’re not put off by all these pimples and this beard I’m slowly growing.

I don’t know why, but my intuition has been screaming GIRL GIRL GIRRRLLLLL at me for weeks.

My intuition, it seems, is crap.



Little Brother, coming in September.

(The anatomy scan went very well, and baby was measuring on schedule with all of his (HIS!) bits and bobs right where they should be.)

A Teeny Tiny Update with Little to No Information.

I’m still here.

Still (miraculously, amazingly, unexpectedly) (18 weeks!) pregnant.

We’ve told our families (shock!) and our friends (awe!) and all my new various doctors (confusion!) and I’ve technically told the internet full of strangers (hello!) but we haven’t made anything Facebook official.

Why?

Eh, I don’t know. Probably because every time I tell one new person my first thought is, “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” and every time I purchase a new baby outfit (twice) I immediately think, “YOU MONSTER, YOU’VE RUINED EVERYTHING.”

So, I guess you could say I’m dealing with a little bit of anxiety.

Despite having four or five ultrasounds now, and doctors repeatedly finding the heartbeat on the doppler, and maybe feeling something kick me sometimes, I’m still finding it a little bit difficult to believe this is happening. That it’s happened at all. That it will continue to happen.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago when I felt confident in my pregnancy with Gus, and I told them, completely honestly, when I was walking into Labor & Delivery and my contractions we’re two minutes apart.

And yet, I am surprisingly less anxious than I was back then. Maybe it’s the fact that now I no longer feel the pressure of being barren forever. Maybe my cold agnostic heart has been touched by a freaking angel, and I can’t help but feel like this is something that is supposed to happen.

Time will tell, I guess.

So far, so good.

 

Sixteen Going on Seventeen

This year was not my best. It was stressful, and disappointing, and scary and heartbreaking from time to time. But we laughed a lot, and had a lot of fun too (when I wasn’t sobbing).

It sort of reminds me of these photos, which are some of my favorites from this year. They look good, but really, each one was taken in the midst of a disaster.

In the first one, our trip to the train museum was a makeup trip from the week before when Gus threw up on everything (and everyone) in our car.

The second one was taken in the middle of a full-on meltdown/refusal to participate in a class I’d already paid for, and that – up until that very second – he used to love.

The third was taken after I spent the morning packing a cooler, and a beach bag, and slathering lotion on everyone, and hauling 25 pounds of stuff down to the beach, and 15 minutes later he was like, let’s go to the pool, I hate it here.

So I try to remember that sometimes annoying things happen, and you’ll be stressed and frustrated and tired, but something good can still come out of it. (At least as long as you’re willing to let your toddler wander fairly far away from you, and you happen to be holding a camera).

I hope that everyone has a happy(ier) and healthy(ier) 2017

Recovering

I’ve been out of the hospital for just over a week now, and I’m slowly getting better.

Somewhat ironically, the best way to describe how I feel now would be to compare it to morning (mourning, now, more like it) sickness.

I can’t eat much. When I do eat, nothing sounds very appealing. After I eat, I occasionally regret it.

It’s not pain, so much as never-ending queasiness.

But I lied, because there’s also pain. One of my doctors explained it best, I think, when she compared pancreatitis to having your body fill up with leaking battery acid. My back aches most of the day, so I stay glued to a bottle of Advil and a heating pad, and there a small area along my abdomen that feels numb, tingly, and sort of dead.

And I haven’t figured out why, or how, but every night, between 4-6 a.m., I wake up totally nauseous and unable to fall back asleep.

It’s a real pretty picture, isn’t it?

I miss just feeling normal. Not even good — just normal. Just going to bed and waking up in the morning. Or grabbing any food and eating it without being terrified of how my body will react.

So, I’m nowhere near 100% yet, but I’m so much better than I was a week, and two weeks ago, it’s insane.

Emotionally, I’m a dumpster fire.

The initial relief of finding out I’m not allowed to do any more rounds of IVF has been replaced by heart wrenching grief that we’ll never have another child. And then I feel guilty, because I have Gus, and he’s perfect, and I shouldn’t be greedy. And then Gus wraps himself around me and tells me how much he loves me, and oh boy, here come the waterworks again.

And then people tell me they’d carry a baby for me, and I think ok yes! but also, how in the world can you ask someone to do such a huge favor? And I pepper my friends with adopted brothers and sisters with overly personal questions. And then I wonder if I can try again, without estrogen? Is that even a thing? And then I get exhausted, and cry some more, and can’t think about it anymore.

See? Dumpster fire.

Silver lining? Between my two hospitalizations in November, and the limited recovery diet/forced starvation treatment for pancreatitis, I’ve lost almost 25 pounds, and counting.

So it’s not all bad.

A Sudden and Unexpected End of an Era

I just came home from another 10 days in the hospital. Collectively, I spent nearly half of November in a hospital bed.

I missed Thanksgiving.
I missed Gus’ first trip to the dentist.
I missed my cousin-in-law’s entire trip out for Thanksgiving weekend.

I got out of the hospital (my 1st trip) after three days, feeling like my old self, just taking the occasional tylenol and ready to get on with our planned embryo transfer, which was pushed back a few days to give me time to heal.

And I did heal, and we had our transfer, and I was feeling really optimistic and got a few positive pregnancy tests starting six days after transfer. A little darker on day 7. I never got to test on day 8 — the hospital took over at that point.

A week after my embryo transfer, and 16 days after my first hospital stay, my body exploded from the inside, and I genuinely believed I was dying.

Dying in the car on the way to the emergency room. Almost fainting from pain, until someone caught me in a wheelchair (so cliché!).

Dying in the emergency room, when there were no beds and I willingly, joyfully laid down on the waiting room floor, and enthusiastically emptied my stomach into charming little plastic bins.

Dying in a small room, begging for drugs, or for someone to just Looney Toons-style knock my ass out with a frying pan to the head. Anything.

“It’s pancreatitis!” I shouted at everyone. “I need an IV! And morphine! And another CT scan! And I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant!”

They all agreed, and they tried to help me. They did help me, but nothing was helping.

I just kept comparing it to last time. Last time, I felt better by now. Last time morphine worked quickly and consistently.

This time the pain was 1,000 times worse, and nothing was managing it for the first four days. The first moment of relief I felt was several days later — After feeling like something exploded in my chest, when I couldn’t breathe, screaming at Mike that I love him, make sure Gus knows how much I love him if something happens to me, while a rapid response team doubled my meds and rushed me sobbing to a CT scan.

So, what happened?

Apparently labs came back after the first hospitalization, that showed I had elevated triglycerides. This means nothing to me, but a doctor assures me they shouldn’t be higher than 200, and mine were more than 800. That was what they were when I left the hospital the first time, but since I’d been discharged already, no one gave us the results. (I have strong opinions about this as a policy)

Do you know what can make triglycerides really high?

Estrogen.

Guess what I was taking a crapload of, for even longer than originally planned?

Want to guess what my triglycerides were when they tested them the day I went back to the ER?

More than 5,000.

Also, I was pregnant.

But you can’t take estrogen and lower triglycerides at the same time, so all my meds stopped immediately. I was also insanely dehydrated, and wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for 90 hours, so none of us were surprised when on top of everything else I started bleeding.

What happens now?

Literally right this second all I can do is sip clear fluids, and eat a few teaspoons of food a day and hope it stays in my body and that they didn’t send me home too early.

I feel horrendous, and am trying to remind myself that recovery is going to be more severe, because this time my illness was much more so as well.

I’ve been advised by multiple doctors that I should never, ever, undergo another round of fertility treatment again. That if I take any estrogen therapies in the future, it could kill me.

And so just like that, I’ll never get pregnant again. I’ll never give birth to my own child again. And, maybe it’s because I don’t have a say in the matter, but it’s a bit of a relief to step away from all the needles, and the anxiety and the worry and the fear that comes along with trying again.

I have seven healthy embryos left. Maybe someone will show up at my door and offer to grow one of them for me (I’ll name them after you!). Maybe I’ll win the lottery, and I can pay for a gestational carrier. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll do all those things.

Mike and his parents, and his cousin, and my parents have been so amazing, taking care of Gus and of me. I’ve gotten so many texts and calls and emails, and I literally can’t talk about it without getting winded — I’m not ignoring you, I literally can’t talk, or stop crying, but thank you, and I love you all.

I’ve been home for a day, and we’re all settling into our new temporary normal. I can’t wait to feel normal again. I miss normal.

Mike told me tonight, after the 15th time I was crying on his shoulder, to think about karma. I asked him if I was being punished, and he told me that something wonderful would happen soon.

Maybe he was talking about the painkillers? Only time will tell I guess.

What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago I was just getting out of the hospital, terrified of eating, and still a little sore.

I was also pretty confident we’d be celebrating our first female president on Wednesday.

Shit happens – usually when you least expect it.

While I’m not at all excited about the outcome of the election (I’m sad, and scared for families that don’t look like mine) I am taking comfort in every spiteful Joe Biden meme I see, and proudly wearing my safety pin.



One little bright spot, at least for me, was the news that my sudden bout of pancreatitis did NOT mean that my frozen cycle needed to be cancelled. My RE suggested pushing everything back five days to give me time to recover.

A week later, transfer day is fast approaching, and I finally feel like my old self again.

Fingers crossed.