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

Back in the Saddle.

As we get ready to start another FET cycle, I’m trying to get as healthy as possible.

And along with that comes (or goes?) all the usual suspects.

Caffeine.
Sugar.
Artificial sweeteners.
Alcohol.
Refined Grains.
Good ole’ gluten.

Goodbye old friends. We had a good run, didn’t we?

And, unfortunately for me, since our last loss I have just been eating my feelings (they taste like pizza and ice cream!) for months. Then, that rolled into vacation eating.

And so all that had to stop.

And then I did something unthinkable.

I started going to the gym again. On purpose! Repeatedly! It’s not as often as I’d like, and I can’t work out as hard as I used to (who remembers when I was thin?!) but it’s better than never, ever going to the gym, which is what I’ve been doing for, ohhhhhhhh, six years?

And after all these years of infertility treatments, and pregnancies, and breastfeeding, and going dairy-free, and then eating ALL THE DAIRY, I honestly cannot tell you what my pre-pregnancy weight was.

The good news is, I’m not focused on being a certain weight, or a certain size. This body of mine will never be perfect, but it gave me Gus, and that’s a body worth celebrating as far as I’m concerned, even if it doesn’t look perfect in a bathing suit. But leggings and tunics seem like they’re here to stay awhile, so amen and hallelujah for stretchy pants!

My goal is to lose as much weight as I can (healthily) between now and our FET, while getting stronger and eating these things called “vegetables” I’ve been hearing so much about.

So far, so good.

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.

Next Steps

After our last (failed) IVF attempt, we’ve been talking about what our next steps are.

I’m definitely planning to try again, but the more I think about it, the more I’d like to take a few months off before starting again.

For starters, we’ve decided to have our remaining embryos genetically tested. While it doesn’t guarantee success, it certainly increases our odds (and the odds have not been in my favor). And despite the extra cost, the price is significantly less than it was four years ago when we started this process, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Then we have our annual family vacation coming up, and I would love to run, and jump and play in the ocean with Gus. I’d also like to take him on rides, and to splash parks, and eat (and drink) at all my favorite restaurants and bars.

After that, we have a destination wedding coming up in September, and making either 1) a long car ride, or 2) a plane ride with a toddler while pregnant and taking blood thinners was not something I was looking forward to. Now I just have to deal with the joys of toddler traveling, and I can drink away my feelings if that’s what it comes down to.

After THAT, my oldest, and dearest friend is getting married in the spring, and her bachelorette party is possibly happening in Vegas, in the fall, and now I can go and not be the sober party mom, and instead I’ll be the least drunk party mom. (Once the party mom, always the party mom.)

I don’t actually drink that much — despite my last three points being mostly alcohol related — I swear.

Our new house is pretty great, on the inside. But the outside? Needs some work. Like chopping down trees, and clearing overgrowth, and horrible gross outdoorsy-type work. Work I despise, but would like to do as cheaply as possible, and that means getting out there and doing most of it ourselves. I can’t really whack things with an axe on my best day, let alone when I’m super high-risk and pregnant.

And can we talk about Zika for a minute? Because it scares the bejesus out of me. I live in an area they’ve classified as low-risk, but those little bloodsuckers are nearby, and guess who has two thumbs and a giant reservoir in her back yard? This girl. So I’m ok with waiting for mosquito season to end.

And, maybe most importantly, I’m excited to spend a little more time with Gus —  just us. We’ve got a lot of things on the horizon for our little man in the next few months, and I had a lot of anxiety about how a new baby would change things for him.

We just started potty training. He’s starting preschool at the end of August. He’ll be a threenager, and probably transitioning to a big-boy bed in the fall. That’s not so much for you and me, but it’s a lot in a few months when you’re under the age of three. Add all that together, I’m ok with waiting a few more months.

Physically, waiting gives me more time to keep getting healthy. Selfishly, it lets me go on vacation and drink. Financially, it lets us save for the next cycle. And mentally, it’ll be nice to take a break from needles, and medicine reminders, and worrying about all the what ifs.

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.