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The Nine Circles of Hell

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
Abandon all hope,  ye who enter here.

-Dante’s Inferno

Dante was led by Virgil through the nine circles of Hell, just  as I was led through my own circles of Hell by my own personal guide, hope.

And such as with Dante and his journey through Hell, once I embarked upon my journey through infertility, there was no turning back. The moment I entered that first circle of Hell, I had no choice but to continue all the way through.

It has been over three years since I passed under the inscription over the gates of Hell, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. I walked right through those gates without really even realizing it.

Circle One, trying naturally. I spent about a year in my first circle of Hell. I hoped, I timed, I charted, I temped. To no avail.

On into the Second Circle, diagnostic testing.  I am thirty. Pain. machines. Dye. Speculums. Bad news. More bad news.

In the Third Circle is where I had to come to terms with the fact that we were infertile. We have a 3% chance of achieving pregnancy on our own.

The Fourth Circle is where we made our decisions. Adopt. IUI. IVF. ICSI. Painful, difficult, expensive decisions that shouldn’t have to be made. We decide to adopt. We sign up with the County Social Services. We go through the classes. Time drags on and on. It feels like we will never finish. A year after starting the process and still not being finished, we decide to try IVF.

I floated  into the Fifth Circle in a cloud of hormones. Cycle one. Bravelle. Ganirelex. Menopur. Two shots a day, then three. Acupuncture and vitamins. Asprin and folic acid. Transfer. Morning sickness. Pregnancy. Heartbeat. We’re sorry, the heartbeat is gone. D&C. I cry and cry on the operating table as the anesthesia washes over me. The Fifth Circle was so very dark.

The Sixth Circle is where it all begins to twist. I walk out of Circle Five, damaged, heartbroken. I crawl into Circle Six. Mom has cancer. There is an operation. Two weeks are spent in the hospital. I am in the midst of preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer. I do not cancel it because life  must go on.

In the Seventh Circle I am pregnant. Sick and pregnant. I am sick and pregnant until I am told that I am not really pregnant. That is, in the sense that there is no actual fetus. There is only an empty sack. The Seventh Circle is a blighted ovum.  A second D&C in five months time. I wake up from the procedure and lay with my face under the warm blankets and cry. I am able to make it through the Seventh Circle much more quickly than the previous two. But I do not come out unscarred. There are scars, and they are deep. Wounds that may never fully heal.

It is in this Eighth Circle of Hell where  my relationship is tested. We can not agree. I am depressed. He hates it. I hate that he is not more damaged. I want him to be as damaged as I am. I am angry at him and at the world and at God and at Cancer and at chemo.  We must figure out how to meet back in the middle. It is not easy.

We try and try and we enter the Ninth Circle together. Do we keep trying or do we move on? In the Ninth Circle we are faced with the most difficult of decisions to make. Keep going? Give up our dream? Can we fully recover if we never try again? Can we fully recover if we do try again? We played our hand with IVF. The odds were good, but good odds just weren’t enough.

Through the Nine Circles of Hell and out the other side, Dante enters purgatory. Purgatory is now where I sit. Waiting. Going nowhere. In a stalled state. Reassessing. Trying to find peace. Climbing every day. Higher and higher, climbing toward happiness. Toward Paradise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I forgot my password. I had to reset it.

I don’t really know where I’ve been. I’ve been in a great state of avoidance. I’ve been keeping tabs of those of you on twitter although I haven’t had too much to say. What is wrong with me? I don’t know. Well, maybe I do. I’m doing so well with “dealing”. But it’s not really dealing. I think about writing all of the time, but I fear that if I start, the emotions will come out. The dam will break, it will flow, and it will never ever stop.

I think I am done. We still have 3 frosties and one prepaid fresh cycle that would cost only the meds and ICSI out of pocket. At this point, the answer is no. We still haven’t determined why 5 embryos would fail. Why two would implant but one fetus would leave us at 7.5 weeks and one would fail to grow. I am still waiting on the genetic test results from the last miscarriage. I have a feeling that lab messed up and that I may never get those results. Does it matter? Not really I guess, unless I’d like to use the information going forward with more fertility treatments.

For now I am on the pill. Give my brain and the endo a rest. Revisit at a later time. Or never.

The news of  Mo this week threw me through a loop. Poor, Poor Mo. Poor Shmerson. Losing sweet baby Nadav. What a beatiful and kind hearted person she is, what a beautiful tiny little boy to have lost. She is such a strong woman. I don’t know that I could be that strong. I have been thinking about her constantly. Thinking about whether the attempts are worth the heartache. Of course they are worth it if the procedures work, but for those of us who lose what is so so precious to us, is it worth it? And for Mo to loose what she lost. I know it was worth it to know Nadav even for that short time. She will carry him in her heart always.  My heart is cracked in two. I imagine hers is smashed into a million tiny pieces.

Being a part of this community is both beautiful and unbearably painful. There is so much sadnes here but there is also so much strength. So much resilience. I fear I can’t match up to those who posess such strengths. As I flounder and put my energies into useless, meaningless things just to keep my mind busy I wonder if any of you do the same or if I am just appaulingly weak.

Just a Few Thoughts

As of today we have not yet gotten any results. Nothing from Husband’s new doctor and nothing regarding the genetic test of the tissue from the D&C. I really hate being without answers. I really  hate being in a stalled state.

In all honesty, I am losing hope. Maybe have already even lost it.

I’m really leaning toward adoption.

It really sucks to have spent $25,000 on nothing but pain and heartache. I never in a million years thought that it would happen to me. But it has to happen to someone right? So why not me?

It really sucks to currently be broke due to said $25,000 dollars.

I am lucky in that I have a child.

I am saddened that with every milestone he passes, I am reminded that it may never happen in my home again.

I don’t know that I am strong enough to lose another pregnancy.

Even though I want nothing more than to be pregnant, the past 6 months has taught me that I actually hate being pregnant. Even more so when it ends up that I was so so sick, and it was all for nothing.

The only reason that I have managed to not fall apart is because of my son. Because of my falling apart last time and the effect that it had on him. I will never do this to him again. I will always feel guilty for causing him such emotional pain.

Husband doesn’t understand and is not very supportive. He will never get that just get over it, why can’t you just be happy  does not and will not ever help me emotionally. It’s lonely here sometimes. He has never learned to process or express his emotions in any way other than anger.

I wanted to wait until January for the FET. Husband pushed for November. If I had waited, I’d probably be in the 2ww, unaware of how it would end. I’m glad I already know. I’m glad that I got through it already.

We have 3 embryos left and I don’t want to use them. I am afraid that since the first 5 didn’t survive, the lower quality ones don’t have a chance.

I don’t ever want to have a miscarriage again, and if that means never being pregnant again, I may just have to live with that.

I am going to lose the twenty pounds I gained with the cycles. I’m tired of my jeans not fitting. I’m tired of only wearing baggy shirts. I’m tired of not even wanting to be naked when I’m alone.

My heart breaks every time my son asks me why he doesn’t have a brother or sister or asks when he is going to get one.

My heart breaks every time I walk past the nursery upstairs.

Things are not easy right now.

 

Stop The Insanity

I don’t often talk about husband here, as this is my blog and it is about me. I like to keep his part in this quiet, as it would be up to him whether or not he wanted to share. Not me. However, today I am going to break that rule. Because today is the day that he has gone in and provided his sample to do the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay.

“The SCSA is performed using an instrument called a flow cytometer in which cells that have been stained with a fluorescent dye are sent through a glass channel in liquid suspension. The cells pass through a laser beam and the light from the beam causes the dye to emit fluorescent light of a certain color. When performing an SCSA, the colors measured are red and green; green fluorescing sperm have very low levels of fragmented DNA and red fluorescing sperm have moderate to high levels of fragmented DNA”. GeorgiaIVF.

This test is not one that is covered by insurance and is not one that is typically used. However, on the advice of a family member, Uncle Urologist, we had decided to find a doctor in our area who is familiar with this test and performs it for patients. It is not routinely used, as it’s results are not generally useful, except in the case where there is recurrent pregnancy loss with ART, and male factor IF is a primary issue for the couple. HI! That would be us! Basically we are looking to find out if the sperm used for ICSI, those that look “normal” on the outside, are infact, abnormal on the inside. This test is running us $500.00, but in the whole scheme of things, if we find that we have a DNA fragmentation issue, that $500.00 will be saving us thousands in the long run. I CAN NOT go through this again without more answers. If the answer is, “Holy crap you have some messed up sperm”, then fine. We grieve, we move on, and we do not spend another dime on trying to make a baby.

The other thing the husband gets to do this evening is a testicular ultrasound. Which I’ve been trying to get him to do for 2 years. But no, he’d rather me go through the IVF wringer a couple of times I guess. But NOT anymore. No sir. My body has closed up shop until we have some more answers on his side of things. Thats the thing with these fertility specialists. They DON’T CARE about MFI. They just don’t. Their answer is ICSI. They are there to get you pregnant, cross your fingers, hope it works out. Anyway, I have been bugging husband to get a testicular ultrasound forever. He has ALL of the symptoms of a varicocele. ALL. OF. THEM. We went to one urologist before that couldn’t feel one and who’s only advice was to stop drinking caffiene. Ok. That helped. It did bring him from ZERO to ten million. But what about the rest of them? And Uncle Urologist had recommended an ultrasound at the time because not all varicoceles can be found upon maunual examination. (hehe. manual examination).

Anyway, during my husband’s consultation with Dr. MFI, he was told that he had a suspected varicocele in the right testicle. HA! Big I told you so dance..Followed by extreme annoyance for having waited 2 years to look into this. That would explain how he fathered my son. (Up to 80% of secondary male infertility cases are due to vericocele) his low sperm count, poor motility and poor morphology. that would explain why his FSH is just ever so slightly above the “normal” line. Not even close to being classified as “testicular failure” but not within normal range either. A varicocele would also explain a high level of DNA fragmentation, if the SCSA shows he has it. I know that a varicocele can be fixed, and I also know that sometimes it can not. I know that fertility can return to normal, and sometimes it doesn’t. But you know what? Even knowing that, I just want an answer. I want to know why.

So today he is maxing out our flex spend account the rest of the way. Wow. Between the D&C and this MF testing, there’s four thousand dollars gone and it’s not even February. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it for the answers and in order to know whether or not to move on.

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Brainy Quotes

I feel like we’d be doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results if we went in for another try without looking to find more answers first. We can only look at my uterus so many times. It’s fine. We can only test my hormones so many times. They’re fine. We need to try something new. We need to take this in a new direction. It’s time to stop the insanity.

2dp6dt

Elated, miserable, elated, miserable. Back and forth, back and forth.
I have been nauseous all day. And with heart burn. F you, prednisone, i blame you. Yesterday one teensy tiny drop of blood, so small I’m not sure how I saw it without a microscope. But it was there. Minor twinges here and there but nothing like yesterday. Bloated. Cursed myself for returning belly bands when I miscarried. Woulda been so comfy tonight. Ugh. I’m using belly bands now just to get through treatments? Embarrassing. Tired but I can’t sleep. Saw the most beautiful baby blankets tonight and headbands with giant flowers and pink tutus. I ran my hand across the soft chenille of a blanket and held up a flower to my husband and smiled. And then I set it down and left the store because it made my heart hurt.

I have no…

No progesterone symptoms other than my boobs are a little sore. I am not sick, not dizzy, not tired, not veiny. Nothing smells, I’m not peeing excessively and my dreams are no crazier than usual. I am completely 100% pregnancy symptom free.

Halloween and other random junk

I haven’t written much lately and I really don’t know why. Just busy I guess. Getting back from vacation and trying to get back in to the swing of things. It’s hard. I’ve also been trying desperately to find a job to help pay for this infertility nonsense and to have a little more disposable income. It’s hard. I went to school for 6 years. I do not want to take a job that pays $10.00 an hour. But that’s whats out there right now, and its starting to PISS. ME. OFF. Living in the Great State of California Sucks. Especially when you’re in education. Especially when you’re in educational counseling, which is, when our fine govornator takes more (and more) money out of the education budget, one of the first programs that schools cut. So anyway…

I have a lil Halloween story for ya’ll, and I know you guys will “get” it…So we went to a friends house to trick or treat. Did the neighborhood round then back to thier house to hang out for a bit. A few of us were sitting on the front porch handing out candy and chatting, when up walks a teenage girl. 16 if she’s a day. A PREGNANT 16 year old girl. “Trick or Treat”! Holds out her candy bag. OMG. My jaw must’ve dropped. I’m sorry, but once you make the decision to have sex and you get pregnant, you are just done with trick or treating.  “It’s not for me, the baby wants candy!” Bitch I will slap you if you don’t walk your little ass back down that driveway and away from this house. Those were my thoughts. Harsh? Probably. But give me a freaking break. So my friends mom was out on the porch with us. She is a wonderful hispanic woman who DOESN’T hold back. Let me put it this way. She WORKS AT THE DMV. Thats how tough she is. So anyway, Mrs. G. says, “Ahhhhh look at you, gonna have a baby are ya?” She obviously doesn’t catch the tone  of Mrs. G’s voice because she continues to babble on. It comes out that the daddy is a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD BOY who lives in the neighborhood, that my friend’s family knows. Mrs. G. says, “Ahhhh, so he’s gonna be a daddy, huh? That’s nice. Real nice”. Mrs. G. is quiet for a minute and says, “so did he finally get a car? And a job?” Pregnant teen says “oh yea, he got a car, but its older…He has a really good job now”. Mrs. G. says, “oh wow. That’s great. Just great”. All the while she is shaking her head in a way that suggests that she doesnt think for a minute that any of this is great. As the conversation continues we learn that 17 year old baby daddy finally got a car manufactured sometime in the 80s. It’s cool, but it doesn’t always start. And Baby daddy’s great job? HE WORKS PART TIME AT BURGER KING.

Ok. I may not be rich and I may be on the hunt for a decent job, but lemme tell ya. My husband and I live together. Not seperately with our parents. We own cars that run, and should I ever be lucky enough to go in to labor, I know that my dependable car will get me to the hospital. My husband also has a great job. Now we may not have free whoppers or chicken fries at our finger tips, but dammit if we don’t have the money to put good meals on the table anyway.

It was just so frustrating. It made me so mad. And sad. And guilty for feeling this way about this poor girl who made a stupid mistake that will probably make her life so much harder than it ever had to be. And she probably has to deal with people like me every day, who judge her because she is a teenager and she is pregnant. I know my thoughts and feelings and glee over the fact that she was harrassed by a DMV EMPLOYEE  are wrong. But you know what? Thats why I’m telling you guys about it. Because I know that you guys (deny it if you want), would have the same or at least similar feelings. It’s hard to watch and listen to this immaturity. This girl in a zombie costume who is trick or treating with a 7 month pregnant belly. Who is rambling on and on and sounding not 1 day older than her 16 years. It’s kinda hard for those of us who are financially and emotionally stable and ready. And have been trying for years and throwing thousands of dollars toward making it happen. It may not be right to feel that way, but I’m just telling the truth.

Ok so quick subject change. Question: Who has done acupuncture with thier cycles? I did it for my endo and I did it with my first cycle and I’m trying to decide if I want to do it again. What is it really best for? Relaxation only, or does it acutally have an “effect” on the uterus? I ask cus heres the thing. I HATE acupuncture. I don’t mind the needles. What I mind is laying in a dark room for 40-50 minutes. I CAN NOT RELAX. I think it has the opposite effect on me. I get so anxious. I CAN NOT clear my mind, and all the things that I stress about come at me full force when I’m laying there. BUT, I will say it did take my cramps down a notch or two when I was doing it, so theres gotta be something to it? I just don’t know because I want to give myself every chance to have my FET work, and if it doesn’t will I be going, dammit, its cus I didn’t do acupuncture… Thoughts please…