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.


  1. I could have written this post myself moons ago.

    I do want to encourage you, and to tell you your not alone. We miscarried in 2008, and then met our son in 2011. I thought at 38 that Id never have the opprtunity for another pregnancy when suddenly PREGNANT appeared on all 6 tests. I miscariried on Aug 7, and have yet to ovulate again...and 39 is less than a month away...but....we are not giving up and neither should you.

    Hugs and good luck!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kindness, and I greatly appreciate your support. Congratulations on your dear son! I am sorry to hear of your miscarriages, and my heart hurts for what you've had to handle. However, I love your positive attitude and I agree--we shall both persevere! Please keep me posted!

  2. Here from LFCA. I'm sorry for the loss of your sweet girl and the struggles you have faced since. My husband and I lost our first, easily conceived pregnancy at 17 weeks in 2010, and have faced subsequent secondary infertility. I also underwent chemotherapy in young adulthood and have worried that this is related, though doctors say not. I am now 38 and have just discovered we are pregnant for the fourth time, which we so hope will finally be our first healthy take home baby.

    I'm wishing you the best with the RE appointment and hope that you'll soon find your way to a healthy pregnancy.

    1. Sadie, thank you. I am sorry for your loss and the challenges you have faced. I am so happy to hear of your pregnancy, and I will keep my fingers and toes crossed that this pregnancy is nothing but happy and healthy for you! Thank you also for sharing your chemotherapy experience; selfishly, I am glad to know that I am not the only one who struggles with those fears that my infertility and chemo history are related. If you would, please keep me posted on how you are doing.