Thursday, October 24, 2013

0-4 (or The Canvas, Part II)

One day after my BFP(s), my beta hcg at 14 DPO was only 17...very low for 4 weeks of pregnancy.  Still, we held onto hope, knowing that the base hcg number was not necessarily predictive of pregnancy loss, as long as the number continued to steadily rise and doubled approximately every 48 to 72 hours.   My beta hcg yesterday (16 DPO, just shy of 48 hours from the first draw) was 20.  I was crushed...I had so hoped that this was our miracle baby.
The nurse at the doctor's office ordered blood work for tomorrow, simply to make sure that my levels are going down. She/they hold no hope of this pregnancy being viable, and my husband and I are devastated. He shared with me last night how a little part of him is hoping that my blood work tomorrow shows a huge jump in hcg, but I don't know that I share the same hope.   I'm cramping some today, but no bleeding yet.  Maybe the lack of bleeding isn't surprising since I am on prometrium. 
It is so hard to live in limbo...I am not getting anything done except feeling sad and crying. Which, my counselor yesterday reprimanded me for because "it isn't good for the baby". That really hurt my feelings, considering I had spent 20 minutes explaining to her what we were dealing with and that there likely isn't a baby. 
This is such a roller coaster--we started this TWW with such high hopes, and got the BFP we had longed to see for a year.  It was so perfect, too perfect apparently.  The clinical name for what we are experiencing is most likely a "chemical pregnancy"...I wish I could be that detached from this loss as that name implies.  I know that in a few days, I will feel optimistic again about our trying again, but today I just feel disheartened and doubt that I will ever know what it feels like to get a BPF and have the pregnancy stick.  I know that is overly negative, but getting my hopes up month after month has exhausted me, taught me to be careful with my optimism, and that for me, it is more likely that the pregnancy will fail than it will succeed.  I am 0-4.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Canvas

I am approximately 13 dpo (days past ovulation) today and this two week wait (tww) has been so very hard.  I've lain awake at night, staring at my Fertility Friend app on my cell phone, counting down the days until I could take a pregnancy test.  Fertility Friend said I should test on Tuesday, the 22nd, because that is when my period is predicted to arrive.  I read the very informative article that gives stats on how taking tests before the expected period date often result in negatives and false negatives.  I tried to wait, I really did, but I'll be honest:  I broke down and tested yesterday (and, well, the day before that as well) and both were negative.  Negatives aside, I've had a number of strange symptoms over the past two days that are abnormal for me.   Namely, shooting pains in my lower pelvis, shooting pains in my breasts, and bleeding gums while brushing my teeth this morning.  Simply stated, I just "felt pregnant" (although a part of me was afraid I was making up the feeling as an excuse to test).  TWW-induced schizophrenia notwithstanding, I decided to test late this afternoon.  My loving husband watched me pee in the cup (just another facet of my romantic nature, ha!), dip the First Response Early Result test in said urine for a count of 5 seconds precisely and carefully cap and lay it on the bathroom counter.  He checked his watch for a start time and we both hovered over the test, united in anticipation of the results.  

I saw it first, a light pink line in the space that had always in months past been snow white; a pink line in the canvas that holds so much power of the two of us.  I looked at my husband, hugged him, and we went back to staring at the test, random comments being tossed out: "Yep, it is definitely a line"and "Yeah, and it is pink, not gray, so I don't think it is an evap line...and "Let's take it outside and look at in the sun, just to make sure!"  And the pink line stayed pink, and in the sunshine, my husband hugged me and said, "We're pregnant."

Two little words that carry so much wait.  I'm excited, but I'm frankly terrified.  What if when I temp in the morning, my temp has dropped below the cover line and I know that that this is a chemical pregnancy and AF is on her way?  What if my temp stays elevated, but the line is lighter, not darker?  So many questions, so many "what ifs".  I want so much to just enjoy the sheer joy that should come with a positive pregnancy test (or two, since I immediately took a second to make sure) without worrying whether this time will be the time we get our baby, or if we will again be saddened by loss.  But for tonight, I am trying really hard to just focus on the fact that the tests are positive and hoping so much for a happy and health pregnancy.

To Be Continued...

Monday, October 7, 2013

The verdict is in: I have a good looking uterus

My husband and I saw our RE, today and our appointment went really well. We had met with Dr. C before and he is a fantastic physician who is tremendously committed to his patients. He also has great nurses who are kind and understanding. As I noted in my last post, I was a wreck before the appointment. Also as noted, I had been taking ovulation predictor kits over this past week and got a positive result today (CD 18) right before we headed out for our appointment. I shared the news of the positive OPK with Dr. C while we were discussing my ovulation patterns and my recent symptoms (hot flashes, tender breasts, abnormal cramping, etc.). He thought the symptoms might indicate an ovarian cyst. Because of my symptoms and the positive OPK, he wanted to do an ultrasound right then and there (thank you for not making me wait!) to see what could be seen. Let me interrupt this tale to share that my husband went to high school with Dr. C, and while they were not best buds, the two did get along quite well. Up until today, this history between the two made for comfortable interactions between Dr. C, my husband, and me. However, I must admit it was a little odd for me to have my husband's former school mate inserting the ultrasound wand into my va-jay-jay while the three of us tried to hold a normal conversation (as normal as anything can be with one party's feet are up in stirrups).
Anyway, I digress. Dr. C was really happy to see that my endometrial lining was nice and thick. He was also pleased with the shape of my uterus. In fact, I learned today that my uterus is "tri-linear". Furthermore, he commented that my uterus was (and I quote) "the best looking uterus he had seen all day." His nurse agreed. It was kind of like being in a Saturday Night Live skit where I'm the guest host but I really have no idea what was going on, but it was a compliment, so I will gladly take it!. Anyway, he also confirmed that I have a "beautiful" follicle on my right ovary that looks like I will ovulate tomorrow.  So, my husband and I are to baby dance tonight and again tomorrow in the hope that can indeed still conceive naturally.
So, hoping our planned fun for the night and tomorrow results in a positive pregnancy test in two weeks. If I don't get pregnant this cycle, I will do FSH and Estradiol testing and then he will start me on Femara from chart days 3 to 7. Dear Husband will also have a sperm analysis done at that point. If my FSH and Estradiol comes back with good results (and DH's sperm analysis comes back ok) then we will try Femara for three cycles. If no success after three cycles, then we will move on to IUI or IVF.  
Of great relief to me, Dr. C also indicated that the ultrasound shows I have sufficient antral follicles in each ovary, indicating that my ovarian reserve is sufficient. Specifically, I had four visible antral follicles in my right ovary and 10 to 12 in my left. So, at this point (unless the FSH and Estradiol comes back odd) it appears that my ovaries are still in good condition and so hopefully egg quality is still good.
Ok, my husband and I are off to have a romantic, yet perfectly (I hope) timed encounter. Please wish us luck. And should we fail to conceive this cycle (I hate the word "fail" but I don't know what else to use), I am going to go buy a piece of fabric and make myself my own sash that says "Best Looking Uterus, crowned October 7, 2013". Hey, it may not be much, but at least I can spice up my Pinterest page.

Waiting and not waiting patiently

I'm sitting here on the couch, half-way listening to the TV and trying not to stare at the clock.  Only 35 more minutes until my husband will be home from work and we can drive the two hours necessary to meet with our RE.  I should be working, and I have managed to send a few emails, but mostly I'm just staring at the clock and googling really creative things like "what to expect at the first real appointment with a fertility specialist".  Argh.  I've been using OPK's the last several days, and I'm going to take another right before we leave for the appointment.  I should be ovulating today or tomorrow, so my husband and I have been baby dancing at all the right times, just in case and by some miracle we are able to get pregnant on our own this cycle.  But, it also just occurred to me that since I am so close to ovulation, could the RE possibly schedule me to have a follicular ultrasound study today?  I am so new to this world of fertility treatments, I don't know what to expect.  I am overwhelmed.  So overwhelmed.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Babies, babies everywhere

I love Facebook, I really do.  It gives me the opportunity to keep in touch with friends and family near and far and helps me feel like we aren't so separated.  It provides me a forum to connect with other young adult cancer survivors, including establishing contact with men and women who have the same rare cancer I do.  Yet, Facebook also manages to remind me almost every damn day that I am childless.    How?  First, there are the ultrasound pics that excited parents have made as their profile pictures to announce to the FB world that they are expecting.  This is followed by numerous photos, updated frequently, to document how the baby bump is growing week by week.   Invites to baby showers, clips of adorable baby clothes, swings, car seats, stuffed animals, and elaborate nurseries ready to welcome home the little one.  As the glamour of pregnancy wears off, there are posts about how awful morning sickness is, the unwanted weight gain, heart burn and arrival of cankles.  At varying points, the countdown begins to when the baby will arrive, discussion of nesting, and hints dropped about the name and gender.

When the time comes for birthing, there may be hour by hour status updates on how labor is progressing.  Always there are pictures of the brand new blessing, swaddled in the trademark white blanket with pink and blue stripes and photos of the new family.  There are happy tears, tears of bonding, tears of seeing the baby that finally arrived.  The next years are filled with posts and pictures about the milestones the child is achieving:  crawling, walking, talking.  Family pictures where everyone is wearing coordinated clothing, pictures of the first day of school, dance recitals, sports activities, and so on.

I know how bitchy I sound in recounting the above, but that is only because I would dearly love to a part of that elite Facebook group.  But I am not, and I may never be, and at 36, that possibility is a hard pill to swallow.  Please don't get me wrong, I am happy for my Facebook friends and I celebrate their children...many of them are my "nieces" and "nephews" and I am honored to hold the title of Aunt.  But, sometimes seeing those ultrasound pictures and baby bumps reduces me to tears because I so badly want a child of my own.  And yes, I know we can adopt (that deserves a blog of its own) but I want to know firsthand what it is like to feel a baby move and kick, to call my husband over to touch my pregnant belly to feel his little boy or girl do somersaults.  To pack a bag for the hospital and create a birthing plan and the feeling of holding my newborn baby against my breast for the first time.  I want to share that moment with my husband and thank God for the miracle with which we have been blessed.

Somewhere in my house is a box filled with five positive pregnancy tests (I was in shock, so I kept taking tests to convince myself it was really happening), four ultrasound pictures, and a tiny pair of ruby red Mary Janes that I bought on impulse because I knew in my heart we were having a girl.  Our nursery colors were picked and I had my eye on a crib I loved.  Our family and friends were so mom was finally going to be a grandmother.  It was a dream come true.

I started spotting in my eighth week of pregnancy, but the baby's heartbeat was strong and fast.  It was so exciting to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, but nothing can ever compare to hearing that galloping beat with our own ears.  My OB nurse said this baby was strong like its mom.  I miscarried here at home in my 10th week.  There is no easy way to say this, but I held our baby in my hand as she passed out of my body.  I remember screaming and my husband saying prayers that God would comfort me as he took our baby and wrapped it so that we could take it to the hospital as we had been instructed to do.   The rest of the night is a blur...the ambulance coming to take me to the hospital because there was a risk of my hemmoraging, our ER doctor holding my hand because he had been through this with me before, just never this far along.  While I stared at the ceiling and cried,  my husband quietly removed the ultrasound pictures from the fridge door, gathered the mary janes from the soon to be nursery, and collected the tests and put them out of sight to lessen my pain.  My husband is an amazing, amazing man.

A couple of months after we lost the baby, we received the results of the genetic tests they had performed on our tiny fetus.  It was indeed a girl, and she had Trisomy 13, which is incompatible with life.  I instantly blamed myself, certain that the chemotherapy I had undergone when I was 20 had caused her condition.  A very kind genetic counselor at the lab where her remains had been sent listened to my concerns and assured me that it wasn't my fault; that Trisomy 13 just sometimes happens.         She also assured me that it was not likely to happen again and my next pregnancy would surely be successful.

But there has not been another pregnancy.  Month after month we try and I cry when my period arrives because I feel I have again failed.  My husband and I met with my gynecologist this past Monday and he told us in no uncertain terms that it is "now or never" if we want to conceive.  His concern is that my menopausal-ish symptoms (hot flashes, irregular periods, etc.) may mean that my fertile window is nearing an end and he believes there is no more time for us to try to conceive naturally.  He recommended that if we want to have a baby of our own, we need to see our Reproductive Endrocrinologist as soon as possible to start fertility testing and treatment.

Our appointment with the RE is two days away, and I am an emotional wreck.  So, I started this blog to keep me sane in the coming months.  I do not know if I will share this blog with my loved ones, or if it will remain a semi-private diary of our struggles with fertility.  I just know that I need a place to share my thoughts, my fears, and hopefully someday, a picture of a baby swaddled in a white blanket with pink and blue stripes.