Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Year. New IVF. New Mood.

I really wish I had kept up on the events of the past year as a lot happened.  Technically, most were bad.  But I also wish I had kept a journal of the small miracles that kept me going during this dog of an infertile year.

For the record my son is now 2 years and 4 month old.  We've been starry-eyed for baby number two since taking home the first from the hospital.  It was a dream come true, and I secretly bought into the common notion that having a baby cures infertility.  I have seen it happen to so many: Once the first baby/hurdle is overcome, siblings will follow.  Nature and universe will it to be so.  Perhaps the universe and I are on two different schedules.  Or more likely, I am still just a mule.

For the record, since my son was 10 months old I have endured the following:
August 2012.  FET. 2 embryos.  1 didn't survive the thaw.  Other didn't take.  Failure.
November 2012.  New shared risk contract.  Awesome stim, awesome embryos.  4 frozen. 2 Transferred.  Tiny, confusing chemical pregnancy, beta at a 7 for days. Failure.
Husband lost his horrible job.  I went back to work.  It was really difficult to switch roles and begin work right at the beginning of busy season. However our life has been better since he lost that horrible job.
January 2013.  Frozen embryo transfer.  2 thawed. 2 transferred.  PREGNANT.  Awesome betas.  Then weird betas.  Then no heartbeat at six weeks.  Check again at 7 weeks.  Still no heartbeat. Confirm on March 15th, an enormous tax deadline, on a 15 hour stress filled workday interfacing with a whiny client, that I have indeed miscarried.  I smiled and acted kind and professional to clients and coworkers that whole day with only one hour long break to sob silently in the public bathroom and dry out my wrecked face.  I would never want to relive the two weeks of hell I endured in limbo wondering if I had a live or dead baby in me.  But whenever I feel doubt as to my ability to survive hard things I remember that day.  I am strong.  And as future horrible events came to pass and I felt like I might lie down and die, I eventually remembered that day, remembered that I am the strongest person I know.  
A D&C would have been lovely, but I decided I couldn't afford the luxury of a day off work.  I would have chosen differently if I'd known that I would still be chronically nauseated even with a dead baby.  It was the bitterest of pills.  Nauseated to my fingernails 24 hours a day on a 70 hour work week.  I miscarried exactly a week later.  My sister coached me through what it would be like, and I planned to head home when the bad cramps and bleeding started.  Sitting at my desk my cramps were their very awful, but totally normal level, and I remember groaning in my head "if my cramps are this bad I hate to think what the miscarriage will feel like".  Then I stood up to go to the printer, and my baby fell out into the Depend I had been wearing "just in case".  Shocked, I walked to the bathroom, pulled out the Tupperware I had hidden in my purse to capture the baby for testing, dumped it into the container, stared at it for a really long, wide-eyed while, hid it in my purse and then went back to my desk to turn off my computer and leave.  It is VERY noticeable to leave work at 2pm in busy season.  I told a manager "I am going home because I am sick" and by the time I reached the word sick I was shaking.  My voice and body.  I told her I had a miscarriage sitting here at work and couldn't work another minute.  To her credit she covered for me professionally and kept it completely confidential.  She was the last person I wanted to tell, but in that moment I realized the ridiculousness of stressing about work to extent that I had gone NASA style for a week, and had miscarriage remains hanging out in my purse like leftover lunch.  
 Because this was technically a second miscarriage my doctor talked me into the full panel of genetic testing on me, Lowell and the fetus.  This $4000 testing would cover every scientifically known reason as to why this was happening.  Apparently very few people are as desperate as we are, so no one at my infertility clinic seemed to know what to do with the baby.  It was a horrible circus getting them to accept my Tupperware.  It took over two months to get the results back.  I tested negative for everything of consequence.  My doctor told me that I was in the fraction of the fraction of people who truly have a problem that science can't even test yet.  Yay.  
August 2013.  Another fresh IVF.  Surprisingly poor stimulation.  I have always been a rockstar at this part, and they thought they might even have to cancel the cycle.  They put me on the max follistim dosage allowed.  The "old lady" dosage.  This was depressing and brought about new anxiety, but in the end I had one great and one medium embryo to transfer.  PREGNANT.  But low Betas.  Spent another tortured week with young nurses telling me I should be hopeful, as I waited to hear what I knew to be more failure.  Finally on September 15th I found out that I had again miscarried.  This one was so early that I just had a normal sad period.  
At this point I have two frozen embryos and one more fresh and one more frozen attempts on my contract.  I am so emotionally wrecked and depleted even thinking about going through the torture of another round I cry at the very thought.  Technically I am supposed to use my frozens next, but it doesn't seem right to put my "children" in my poisoned body.  I decide to forgo my free frozen, and go directly to my last fresh round.  My last IVF ever. Thinking about the fact of this being the last is both simultaneously the most heavy and most relieving concept I've ever grappled with and my poor mind can't handle it.  My losses have accumulated.  I am disturbingly happy and functional in my day to day life, but just under the surface is pain so intense it scares me.  The doctor suspects that my endometriosis  is why the last stim went bust so I have the choice of a laparoscopy, or three months of Lupron injections.  I chose the Lupron.  I have started the drugs for my January 2014 round.  
As I retype I get lost in the awful parts, and I forget that I meant to document the lessons of this terrible time in my life.
I would have thought that I would be feeling the love during all of this struggle, but from my standpoint, God was noticeably absent this year.  That compounded my pain, and I frequently asked Lowell whether my past conviction that my life is easier because of my testimony in Jesus Christ was actually wrong.  I didn't question my testimony, I was just experiencing so much pain that had no relief, had prayed so hard, been so disappointed and was not feeling any help or love at all.  So in essence, I believed I had a loving Heavenly Father, I just was broken hearted that he was not loving me.  
It would be hard to pick which event hurt the most, but it may have been our August 2012 FET.  It was the most positive and hopeful I had ever been and when I unceremoniously picked up the beta from the hospital and saw it was zero my heart felt turned inside out.  Driving home crying and shaking my fist & yelling at God with baby Vincent happy in the backseat I was overwhelmed by rage and pain and decided I needed some radio to distract my thoughts.  Some lame pop song about sex or gansta rap was what I had in mind.  Instead I turned it to the sweetest, albeit weirdest song ever, Fireflies by owl city.  I love that song, but in this moment I was disgusted at my "luck".  I thought in my head how I loved fireflies in Texas, and how happy they made me.  How I don't have fireflies anymore, but I guess I have dragonflies and I do love those.  *Note that these are just the weird stream of thoughts that aren't significant at all, normally.  Quickly I found some gross sex song, felt marginally distracted, drove home and went about my life.  That evening I looked out the window and noticed about 20 dragonflies in the frontyard.  The backyard could have had 100.  Flying in beautiful squares.  I called Lowell out to witness them.  He loves them too and we stood there in amazement.  They were enormous and beautiful.  They were flying so deliberately, yet calmly and were so close I could see their patterns and colors as they passed.  It was other worldly.  Lowell loved the show and new it was a special gift from nature that probably would never be repeated.  But I knew it was so much more.  I knew my Heavenly Father saw me beating my fist in the air, heard me cursing him.  He heard my thoughts about fireflies and needed me to know that he was with me on one of the lowest days of my life.  I know.  
Unfortunately, as the dark events continued, that wonderful event served not to buoy me up, but to make me question even more.  "Why did You show me love in what to me was such a personal and undeniable way, yet continue to allow me to destroy my heart time after time after time?"  Having babies is a commandment!  It is a GOOD thing.  I am not asking for anything selfish or unnecessary.  I am not ungrateful for what I have.  Further, I would quit all this madness this very moment if I felt it were right to adopt.  That would be wonderful.  I am not being stubborn!  I will do what you want, when you want.  I consult with you every time I do this.  And I feel I get a "go-ahead" each time.   I just feel this major conviction that I need to go to the end of the infertility universe to make this next baby if that is what it takes.  But it is taking everything I've got.  In more ways than a person can imagine.  I know You know this.  So why the torture?  
As previously mentioned, I became fascinated and scared by how much I could function and even feel joy and fun despite the pain.  In the summer I had a 


This grief feels like it weighs 300 lbs.  And all of it is on my chest and shoulders. And heart.  So I am writing in the attempt to, almost literally, get some things off my chest.

I am back at the ugly place I haven't been in so long.  Where I am in so much pain, and so heartbroken and feel so much loss, that it is taking everything to just function normally.  I am back at the gross place of fearing that my sister is going to announce her pregnancy any minute now.  The announcement I was looking forward to just last week, because it would mean we would be expecting babies right around the same time again.  I hate when my pain threatens to stamp out my real joy.  

I experienced this duality of pain/joy after I had Vincent and was trying (and failing) for Weyland.  I discovered that joy does not vanquish sadness like people say.  You just learn to live and hopefully function with a divided heart.  Your eyes are opened to the fact that many people function this way, and it might in fact be more common than uncommon.  And the mysterious human heart becomes even more miraculous. It made me look at every person in the grocery store line differently.  Did they have a heavy heart too?  Were they dealing with extreme heart break while simultaneously out of milk?  It made me look at people who appear genuinely happy too.  Were they experiencing real joy while simultaneously mourning loss?  It gave me a greater appreciation for the human condition.  It helped me internalize those snippets you hear about being kind to everyone because you never know what they are really dealing with.  I'm tempted to call pain/joy duality "faking it til you make it" but there is nothing fake or counterfeit about the happiness and good parts of life that continue (thankfully) in tandem with the sorrow.  

I have a favorite family photo of me, Lowell and Vincent.  It floors me when I remember exactly how truly happy I was in that moment, and in my life at that time.  I also marvel at the picture because I remember perfectly what intense pain and sadness I was going through as well.    It was my first experience with pain/joy, and I remember that even though it was shocking to learn that joy doesn't eliminate pain, it was equally shocking to discover that the pain could not rob the joy. Not one bit. They were arch enemy superpowers doing their equal and opposite things, side by side in my heart, but not ever squaring off against one another.  Like they've known forever that they have to coexist, and it was me who had to quit expecting them to compete.  

So many days in the years since that picture was taken, I've glanced at it, and had the flood of thoughts above, and then realized I had in fact passed through those difficult days. I had made it. I was not "faking it" I was simply "making it until I could take it"  I'd learned a new lesson about life and came out the other side, not stronger,but feeling like I'd gained insider knowledge about the human heart.  I know, and don't want to forget, that joy always has a place in mine.

A Breakup

Long story short: I decided a gestational carrier was the new best move for me, and I found a wonderful person to carry my babies.

Gestational carrying felt like such a dramatic solution to my problem, perhaps overdramatic, and yet I felt like it was the best path to navigating my infertility Bermuda Triangle.  The three points of the triangle being: 1. The moral obligation I feel to give my embryos their best fighting chance at life.  2. Money  3.  The emotional cost of doing anything (including the emotional cost of doing nothing. Inaction is as much a burden as action, and Lowell doesn't understand that completely.)

Sad story short:  Me and the wonderful carrier broke up this weekend.  We had had an amazing first date.  We had both said how much we liked each other.  We were both giddy about the relationship.  We were both looking forward to the transfer in September.  And then she decided it was best for her young family that she not risk a twin pregnancy by transferring two embryos.  And I decided it was best for my family that I need someone to be willing to risk a twin pregnancy and implant two embryos.  And there you have it.  An impossible impasse.  And a very sad break up.

Someone posted a wise but cliche thing that went something like "If you would regret worrying about what you are worrying about if you died tomorrow, you should let go of it today."  Word.  But after some self assessment, this isn't something that I can let go of.  It is something that I will have to mourn.  And historically, my mourning has been allowing myself to get on the yacht chartered to Who Knows Where, with a path through the Bermuda Triangle.  You hope you land somewhere nice.  But the ride is out of your control, and sometimes you wonder and hope you won't die getting to the destination.