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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.

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.

D&C

Second D&C in five months. I think I’ve had it. Im numb mentally. Physically, it hurts. The sac had grown, but was still empty. Its all over but the recovery.

This is WAY TMI and Maybe, Kinda, A LOT disgusting, So READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!!!!

 So the title says it. If you proceed with the next paragraph, its all your fault..

Ok. Ummmm, Does anyone have experience with passing the sac? I realize that this is WAAAAAYYY TMI, but really, where else could I go to ask such a question? Has anyone actually seen one? Ok, cus it could have very well and most likely been a clot. But it also looked suspiciously like the doctor said the sac would look. But it came with no fanfare, no big hooplah, no big splash of anything. Just a small gray rubbery stringy thing that happened to not look as much like the rest of everything else but more like something specific. (I was told that the sac was appx 6mm and that it would come out as a small stringy rubbery thing). It’s probably nothing because my body hates me and wants to do everything opposite of what I want it to do. It was just a small weird looking thing. And I know that I can count on you guys to pay enough attention to notice weird looking things and not judge me for my bathroom inspections. And yes, I realize that I’m reading A LOT into all of my physical symptoms, but I think it’s just easier to focus on the bathroom inspections and such than it is to focus on the big picture, being: By the time my body heals from this, no matter what we do, I WILL NOT be bringing a baby home in 2012.

My Story

I can honestly say that I went through hell this weekend and made it out the other side. I want to record what happened here. If you are worried about TMI, I understand if you don’t wish to continue reading. However, I was very thankful for DeadCowGirl’s account of what she went through during her miscarriage. I’d like to provide the same for others who are both scared as hell and wondering what might happen to them.

01/03/2011: 9am appointment at 6 Week 5 Day scan shows only a gestational sac. Sac is measuring on target. Nurse says she will consult with doc about whether we will wait for another scan or stop meds. Nurse asks whether I prefer a natural miscarraige or a D&C. As I had just had a D&C 5 months ago and was concerned about scarring, I told her I’d like to try and do it naturally. She warned me of the time it may take and the pain involved. 4pm the nurse calls and says Dr. K is “comfortable” with my stopping the meds. I do not take my evening doses.

01/04 & 01/05: I have cramps here and there but am still experiencing pregnancy symptoms. At this point I am considering D&C because it is mentally strenuous to be throwing up and having all the other symptoms of pregnancy knowing that you aren’t really pregnant. On 01/05 in the afternoon the RE’s office calls and says it will be $2900 to perform the D&C if I use my insurance, $2200 if I don’t. I laugh really hard. My decision is made. I will not be paying nearly as much as I paid to have the embryos transferred, to have them removed. On Thursday we have to go to a colleague’s house about an hour away and sign business documents. I am cramping but trying to play it cool. We take a winding mountain road home. At the bottom of the pass we pull into the parking lot of a liquor store and I vomit into a trash can and cry. For a full ten minutes.

01/06: Cramps increase througout the day although I don’t have any type of spotting until later that night. I go out and buy ginormous, heavy flow pads. At approximately 8pm it starts, although it remains fairly light throughout much of the next day.

01/07: I am on the couch for much of the day with cramps. I am taking norcos, which make me a little bit more high than vicodin does, but which I am apparently not allergic to. Husband has friends over and tries to keep everyone outside, but I have kids coming in and out of the house most of the day and have to see my brother-in-law and two of his friends a couple of times. I’m sure they were frightened by me, as I looked a hellish mess. I went to bed at around 8:30pm and slept like crap. Took a norco every four hours.

01/08: Got up at 8am and sat on the toilet. I was in excruciating pain and last does of painkiller had worn off. Husband had fallen asleep in the playroom with son so I was alone. I screamed his name, yelled out in pain, texted him twice and called his phone. He finally came in at about 8:30. By  8:40am I had managed to produce a small bowel movement and nothing more. I went back to bed. For the next 3.5 hours I proceeded to have contraction like cramps every one to two minutes. The pain was pretty intense. Husband stayed with me for most of that time. At right about noon, I felt something leaking. I went into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet. Over the next ten minutes I passed everything. It was painful and scary and felt like nothing I had every felt in my life. I was extremely hot and was sweating and shaking uncontrollably. Husband was downstairs so I called to him and he came in. He sat with me until I was finished. Just as the flow was ending I lost it mentally for a minute. I was sobbing and couldn’t stop. Husband Helped me get back to the bed and lay down. I couldn’t look at what was in there, but he did, and confirmed that it looked as though the sac and everything had passed. I continued to cramp for the next hour or so but it was much less intense. I got up to check my pad, and oddly, there was hardly any blood on it. I sat down on the toilet and passed a little bit more. I decided then that I wanted to shower, which I did but it was extemely difficult because I was so incredibly weak.

Since then I have been laying in bed drinking juice and looking at Pinterst. I just ate a couple of rolled tacos. I’m no longer cramping at all and just feel incredibly tired. All in all it took 6 days from my confirmation ultrasound to finish. It has not been an easy week. I am thankful for all my blogger and twitter friends who have had similar awful experiences and who helped me get through. And helped me stay somewhat sane.

I wish it didn’t have to happen this way, but I am thankful that I  have gotten through it.

Well I have 3 positive First Responces and 1 positive Clearblue Easy digital. I’m nothing if not obsessive. I just can’t believe this is happening. Why oh why did I have to hit a number under 100? All along I’ve been telling myself that if it is ment to be it’ll happen. But now? I’m not feeling that zen about it anymore. No. now, I just want it to freaking happen. I keep asking myself if my number would be 100 or over today, if I had waited until 10 days post transfer, the day that they normally test. She even said “well we tested a day early”…I FEEL pregnant. I’m still completely sick to my stomach. My boobs are still all veiny. I woke up to pee once last night. (Thats my monitor. God help me if I dont wake up to pee one of these nights). So I spent $33.00 on 3 First Responses and 3 digitals, all of which I’m sure will be gone by Monday…Tomorrow. I KNOW that I can not control this. I know that whatever happens is beyond me.

Ok, I know I sound like a broken record and I know that there is nothing anyone can do or say to reassure me that it will end up fine. Because nobody knows if it will end up find. I could’ve gotten a kick ass first beta and still have it end in miscarriage. I’ve been there before. I want this so badly, but I don’t know if I can do it again. I don’t know if I can go through this emotional wringer. I don’t know if I can spend yet  more money and put my family in to yet more debt over it. Maybe it’s just not meant to be. My gosh I am so glad that I didn’t do this the entire 2ww and that I was able to hold off the crazy. I’m telling you, the wait between beta 1 and beta 2 is far more torturous that the 2ww.