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The initial relief of finding out I’m not allowed to do any more rounds of IVF has been replaced by heart wrenching grief that we’ll never have another child.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.

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PGS Results

We had 10 remaining embryos on ice, and after our last loss, we decided to have them all PGS tested.*

Before our embryos could be tested, they’d need to be thawed, biopsied, and re-frozen. We also needed to participate in a consultation with the lab that would be doing the testing.

We were told since we (me, really) were both 31 when our embryos were made, we could expect around 60% of them to be normal, and the rest, obviously, abnormal. I knew that all my embryos had made it to Day 5 before they were frozen, but I’d never known what they were graded.

They were ALL 5AA.

If you’re blessed in the fertility department — this is practically unheard of. If you’re currently undergoing IVF — I don’t need to tell you how amazing that is.

So, two weeks ago, all ten were thawed and biopsied. Nine out of the 10 survived the process and were re-frozen.

Yesterday we got the call from my nurse, and EIGHT of the nine are chromosomally normal!

I know that a PGS diagnosis of “normal” is no guarantee, but I’m very optimistic about moving forward with a frozen cycle this fall. I also can’t help but wonder if we really DID hit the 60% mark:

1st transfer — Chemical Pregnancy, one embryo
2nd transfer — early loss, one embryo
3rd transfer — healthy baby, two embryos
4th transfer — early loss, one embryo

So we’ve used 5 of the original 15. Assuming the ones we lost or didn’t take were abnormal, plus the test results we have now, that means 9/15 (60%) were/are normal.

We’re on schedule to try again in October. Now if only I could stop eating and drinking like I’m still on vacation. 

*Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is a powerful genetic test that may be performed on embryos during IVF treatment to screen for numerical chromosomal abnormalities. PGS is performed on a small embryo biopsy prior to transfer and identifies which embryos are chromosomally normal.

Relief

Today was my D&C.

My husband has a wonderful, and inappropriate, bedside manner. Like, after he used my purse to modestly cover my crotch while I was climbing onto a gurney in my assless gown, he only referred to my purse as my “goody bag.” He also said a lot of other things I shouldn’t repeat, and then called himself a “selfish Patch Adams.”

I’m sad, and tired, and sore. But I’m also relieved.

I’ll explain.

One of the cruel realities of a missed miscarriage, are on-going pregnancy symptoms. I’ve spent the last four days, nauseous, tired, short-of-breath, and achy (in addition to sad!) — only this time I knew it was all for nothing.

And I’m sure there are lots of experiences in life that cause as much anxiety as pregnancy after recurrent miscarriage does. But those things are probably like, oh I don’t know, being kidnapped. Or dangling over an Indiana Jones-esque pit of snakes. Or being repeatedly bumped by something you can’t see in the ocean. And then doing any of those things for 10 months straight.

I’ve spent the last 9+ weeks agonizing over every twinge, cramp, pull, and ache, and frantically checking every square of toilet paper for any signs of trouble. And then, God forbid!, there are actual signs of trouble, and the Prophet Of Doom takes over in your brain, and obviously everything is ruined!

It’s been a few hours, and my ever-present nausea? Is already gone. The aches and pains I’ve been dealing with? Well, they gave me Vicodin, so those are all better too.

I’d gladly deal with all this craziness, and more, if it meant we could undo what’s already been done, but since that’s not the case, I’m relieved to know 1) my body* and, 2) my mind** will get back to normal soon.

And by “normal,” obviously I mean *chubby, and **full of annoying children’s songs.

An Unexpected Surprise

There’s a longer version of this story, and maybe I’ll feel like telling it later, but right now, I don’t.

Today I went to the doctor for an ultrasound, because I was almost nine weeks pregnant.

Was, being the operative word here.

After several successful betas, and TWO previous ultrasounds that showed a growing, healthy baby with a very strong heartbeat, today we saw a baby that was measuring a week behind.

No more heartbeat.

We knew that was always a possibility, and I’d be lying if I said I’ve been overwhelmed with warm, fuzzy feelings for the last nine weeks.

Instead, I had a growing, lingering, dreadful sensation that something was wrong.

Luckily, I don’t believe in self-fulfilling prophecies. I’ve been down this road before.

I am surprisingly ok. I know there’s nothing I could have done differently to change this outcome. I am a little surprised, only because we had two wonderful ultrasounds in the last few weeks, and the odds were (not, it turns out) in our favor. But then the spotting started, and the panic set in.

Initially I thought, I can’t go through this again. But then this morning, after talking to my nurse, I knew I wasn’t finished. My family is lovely, and whole, but still not complete. We will try again.

We were, and are, very sad. But we’re also so lucky to have each other. We hadn’t even made it home from the doctor’s office before we were laughing.

Mike asked if I wanted to help with the yard work, now that I can get Zika. Then I made him stop for a drink full of caffeine. #silverlinings

Say what you will about using humor as a coping mechanism, but it sure is effective.

But I think it’s much easier this time, because I have Gus, the original rainbow baby. A sweet little boy who came to see me last night while I was laying in bed and said he was going to give me a check-up.

Then he laid his head on my chest for a minute and said, “your heart sounds really good.”

And it is. 

#2

I want more babies.

ASAP.

The plan was always for two kids, if we were lucky – maybe even three given everything we’ve gone through so far (or if twins ever come along). Mike always said he wanted them to be about four years apart.

Then it took almost two years just to get, and stay, pregnant. And that was before the gestational hypertension and diabetes. On top of the clotting issues, and RPL history. Not to mention the (minor, thankfully) placental abruption, borderline IUGR, and the emergency c-section.

Geez. When you put it that way, it sounds terrifying.

The bottom line is: my 34-year-old baby maker can’t wait two more years. Or maybe it can, but it doesn’t want to.

And so the plan is to wait until after the holidays, and then get the ball rolling for a frozen embryo transfer. Granted, I’ve never had a two-year-old before, so I may end up eating those words, but it seems like a good idea on paper: Spend quality time with baby #1, but not so long that my already questionable reproductive system craps out on me.

The good news? For once in my life, my ovaries were over-achievers. I have 11 frozen embryos left. So many people struggle to get just a fraction of what we have, so I know how unbelievably lucky we are.

Do I want 11 more kids? While it would make for an amazing reality show (complete with faaabulous gay BFF nanny), no. No, I do not.

But I don’t expect all 11 to survive the thaw, when the time comes. And who knows if we’ll have the same early issues we had before. And when we got pregnant with Gus, we’d opted to transfer two embryos, and obviously only one took. So, 11 doesn’t necessarily equal 11. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m hoping to get in to see my RE and my Hematologist in the next few weeks to get my ducks in a row/baseline tests/protocols and prescriptions in place so we can start (hopefully) in January.

And so I’ll get to spend yet another holiday season avoiding all my favorite things: sugar, gluten, alcohol, and caffiene.

Starting after Halloween.

And my friend’s wedding in Wine Country, obviously.