A Difficult Journey: Infertility- Miscarriage

A little recap for anyone who is new here. A year ago December 2015 I went to my 3rd doctor for help trying to conceive. We had been trying for over a year. I was finally diagnosed with suspected Endometriosis and scheduled a surgery early January 2015. During the surgery it was discovered that I have stage 3 endometriosis and adenomyosis. I took lupron injections for 6 months which put me into menopause at age 30. After the injections were complete we did a round of IUI in mid September which was unsuccessful. We decided to try on our own until the new year. Which brings us to now, the hardest part thus far.

I went to the doctor for my yearly exam on December 9th. During that exam it seemed that my endometriosis was making a come back. My doctor was puzzled but we put a plan in place. As soon as I started my next cycle I would go back on birth control and we would check my ovaries, uterus and everything else to possibly prepare for another round of IUI. Then on December 14th I was at day 31 of my cycle with no signs of it coming so I took a pregnancy test. It was faintly positive. I was shaking, crying, scared, nervous, excited and had no idea what to do at all except call the doctor. I called them and text my fertility nurse. I called Andrew and almost couldn’t even tell him because I was in complete shock. Did this really happen after all this time, did we really get pregnant on our own? I went to the doctor and had blood work done. It came back with low numbers showing an early pregnancy. They put me on progesterone twice a day and I was to go back for more blood work in a week. The morning I was due to go in December 21st I was spotting. Bright red blood that was preceded by intense cramps. I called the doctors office as soon as they opened. I called Andrew and told him. The rest of the day I think I spent crying, shaking, worrying and just flat out not knowing what to do with myself. As the day went on the bleeding increased from spotting to full blown period. Andrew and I went to the doctor around noon for blood work and an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that it was not an ectopic pregnancy which was a relief, if that is even possible. The rest of the ultrasound showed that although it was early there was no sign of a viable pregnancy. I just had to wait on the blood work to back it up. The call came Monday evening that in fact my HCG level had dropped from 64 to 9. Late Monday evening I guess you could say the miscarriage was complete. What was forming as our baby passed. It was thick dark red/maroon and the shape reminded me of the round top of a balloon, it was bigger than a water balloon and smaller than a standard balloon. That part was followed by a white/pink thick thing that made me think of a slug. It wasn’t painful it just happened and then it was over. All of a sudden I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

How could it be so emotionally wrecking to loose something that we only knew was there for 7 short days? How can it hurt so bad but not be physically painful at all? Maybe its a good thing it happened early instead of after we heard a heartbeat. Could it have happened at a worse time? Is there even such a thing as a good time for a miscarriage, NO there isn’t. Why did this happen? Did I ever really want to add this to my life journey, NO NEVER. Is it going to happen again? When will the day come that I can stop walking around pretending that this didn’t happen or actually accept it? When will the sight of Blake crying or upset stop making me completely break down? When will nights not be so hard? When will we truly understand what this means for us? When will this seem real? There are so many questions and feelings that I have been experiencing over the last few days and I know that I will continue to feel for a while. I know that this is part of the grieving process, I know that with time things will be better.

This Christmas went from being the most exciting one to one that I will never forget and not in a good way. I was absolutely dreading spending time around everyone and pretending to be okay. I guess lucky for me I happened to get a bilateral ear infection right before we left town to celebrate with family which gave me a great reason to sit back and be much more low key than normal. I am very thankful that we have the best most supportive family but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them. I can still barely type it let alone say the words out loud without breaking down. I know that with time this will get easier but right now its still fresh and raw. Right now it still hurts deeply.

There has to be a silver lining in this though right? I have somehow been able to make it through this entire journey with hope that good things are coming. I thought this was finally our good thing, I though this difficult journey might actually be over for us. Clearly it isn’t. So back to the silver lining and all the good that I am trying to pull out of such a horrible thing. This has shown me that I/we can get pregnant after all. Our miscarriage has shown me that giving up is not what we should do. (I was done after my appointment in early December when we thought my endometriosis was coming back, I had completely given up.) Even though our baby did not survive this time it gives me hope that we can continue on this journey. That we can go on to have a healthy baby and healthy pregnancy in the future. I’m not sure how near future that will be but I have a restored hope that our family will grow at some time in the future.

I got a bracelet for Christmas from my cousin Alyssa. It is a Lokai Bracelet. The particular one I received is the red one for feed the children. Thats not the part of the bracelet that means so much though, the thing is the bracelet has a white bead and a black bead to represent the highs and lows you experience during life. They say the white bead is a reminder to stay humble when you are on top and the black bead is to remind you to remain hopeful when you’ve hit a low. Each time I look down at the bracelet I am reminded to stay hopeful, that maybe this low is a sign that things could happen for us after all. Thank you Alyssa for giving me this bracelet and restoring my hope without even knowing it.

A friend of mine that I haven’t been close to in a while also dropped off the most heart warming gift when she found out about my miscarriage. She had a miscarriage of her own fairly recently. A lady sent her this bracelet and she brought it to me. It says “one day at a time” It is a reminder that the pain doesn’t go away but it does get easier with time. Now when I put this bracelet on each morning not only is it reminding me to take each day as it comes but its also like I’m wearing a peace of her heart on my wrist. I don’t think I will ever have the right words to properly thank you Hannah but I know that you know exactly how I feel and until I find the exact right words thank you.

Now that it has taken a me a week and another trip to the doctors office (OBGYN and Primary care) to write this post I really am ready to share. I get to start 2016 off with a reset of my body. I am taking a month to allow my body to heal from the miscarriage, the bilateral ear infection, and the allergic reaction to a second round of antibiotics. As hurtful as the end of 2015 was I am looking forward to taking on 2016.

 

A Difficult Journey: Infertility- My IUI Journal Part 1

  

I decided to stop sharing weekly about our infertility journey as we approached “go time” for our intrauterine insemination or IUI. I just wanted to keep it as low key as possible and I thank you all of you for being so understanding about it. Now that I am ready to share here is my day by day or more like doctor appointment by doctor appointment journal from our IUI process.

Preface: I started taking follistim and metformin on Monday, September 21st. My follistim injection was 50Ius every night. I took metformin every other day for 5 days then started taking it daily over the weekend. At this doctors appointment I had about 20 tiny follicles in my right ovary and about 15 tiny follicles in my left ovary. My doctor started my follistim does off smaller than he normally does to prevent me from growing 5 large follicles, after all we aren’t after 5 babies just one. 🙂 If 5 follicles were to stimulate we would have to stop all work toward this round of IUI. At the end of this appointment I made a follow up for Monday September 28th.

Monday, September 28th: I shared a little about that visit here. The little details that I left out were this, I have one follicle that measured at 13mm and they want it to be at 20 mm before IUI. I had been taking 500mg of metformin every night and 50IUs of follistim. I had blood drawn so they could check many things but especially my estrogen level. When they had the results of my blood work they decided to up my follistim to 75IUs in order to get the follicle ready by the weekend! I was so excited I was basically dancing out the door and everywhere for the remainder of the day! I mean seriously how can I not be excited about this, it could mean that our difficult journey is over. It could also mean that we are learning a lot about how my body works and we can be better prepared for the next round. Staying realistic here. I made a follow up appointment for Thursday October 1.

Thursday, October 1st: I’m back in the office for another ultrasound of my ovaries and my uterus as well as more blood work. I’m all smiles because I’m super excited. My uterine lining was not quite as thick as they wanted it to be but it was really close. My follicle had also gone up to 17mm! That means its go time! I got my instructions for the next few days. Tonight I do my last injection of follistim, Friday night I will have my trigger injection in my butt at 10pm (I have happy faces on my upper butt hip area to direct where the injection is supposed to go), Saturday we just enjoy ourselves, Sunday Andrew has to take his semen sample in at 9am and I will go in at 10am for the insemination, Monday we will repeat the same process. Then we wait to see if it worked.IMG_0270

How am I feeling: I feel like I am incredibly constipated but I’m not. It’s the activity in my ovaries. It hurts to wear jeans and even my workout pants are uncomfortably tight. I have been having some serious mucous discharge which is normal and expected. I have some serious tightening feelings going on in my uterus/ovaries. I can tell exactly where each ovary is and there is no question that they are both growing those follicles. I can also tell that the right one has the biggest follicle, it is more “sensitive” I guess I could say.

Sunday, October 4th: Andrew took his sample to be washed at 9am. Now I’m at the office waiting for the doctor to arrive and holding the gorgeous specimen (that’s what the lady called it) that will be injected into me. It’s funny how this is funny. It’s kind of like a right of passage, one of those little sperm in there could be what makes our baby! As Andrew said, you are holding half of our future kid! I can’t even see anything in there it just looks like light purple water.

So now I wait. Anxiously and impatiently! By the time my doctor finally arrived 30 minutes later, so much for time sensitive, I was relaxed. It wasn’t the most painful procedure but I would say it was an uncomfortable one. He had to navigate past my c-section scar which was a little more work for him and pain for me. When he did the actually insemination I couldn’t feel a thing. That part took seconds. Then I laid there on the table with my legs up and played on Pinterest.

Tomorrow same thing all over again!

Monday, October 5th: Here at the doctor again waiting my turn. I’m excited and nervous all over again. I am a little more relaxed about the actual process this time since I know what’s going to happen. I’m still nervous though. I mean I just heard them say my name and I got a little excited. Thankful for a very funny conversation with a good friend as I made my way to the doctor this morning. Laughter is good for the soul no matter the situation!

Today was painless. They asked if I was okay and I was so confused why. I didn’t hardly feel a thing! He said it was because his angle was much better today than yesterday. My wonky uterus was just tilted the right way today. He said it’s possible that yesterday one of my ovaries had slipped behind my uterus and today everything was in a more workable position.

Today when they asked me to verify that in fact that was my husbands name on the side of the specimen we joked about the importance of getting it right. (It was his!) Also that men’s handwriting is much worse normally than women’s! Seriously the people at my doctors office make this so much easier! I’m so thankful for them! Still hopeful that the egg inside that big follicle was a good one!

Friday, October 9th: I feel better today than I have all week. I actually made it through the day without taking a nap! I have taken at least an hour nap every day this week. The only thing I did differently today was just sit at home and fold laundry instead of trying to go out and do anything. I got the hint from my body to slow down so I did. I am going out of the house tonight for an Oktoberfest party with my boys but I rested up all day so I should be fine.  

I’ve been reading a lot of things about how women feel after having an IUI and I can pretty much relate to all of those symptoms and feelings. For anyone who is about to have an IUI or considering it I decided to break it down by days past IUI (dpIUI). It will be helpful for me too as I continue this two week wait!

 

  • 2nd IUI day- complete emotional meltdown at the end of the day.
  • 1dpIUI- a little bit of cramping, extreme exhaustion
  • 2dpIUI- extreme exhaustion
  • 3dpIUI- extreme exhaustion, light pain on the right side but seemed more like a muscle pain
  • 4dpIUI- light cramping on right side more like ovary cramping than muscle, more energy than previous days this week
  • 5-8dpIUI- completely aware of the exact location of my right ovarie, exhaustion, swinging through every PMS symptom there is
  • 9-10dpIUI- same feelings as previous days with the only addition being breast enlargement (my boobs only get large fast when one thing is happening, my period which is hind site now that those days have passed)
  • 11dpIUI- major cramping followed hours later by the start of my period/bleed. I’m not talking spotting either, I’m talking full flow. Bring on the tears, defeat, sadness, frustration, etc. I called the doctors office to let them know that I won’t be coming in on Tuesday for my blood test after all because I see no point. Unless if they call back before then I won’t be going in.

Friday, October 16th: I was having a lot of intense cramping and then it came. The hope shattering period. If I said I handled it well I would be lying. As hard as I tried not to get my hopes up I was so ready for this journey to come to an end. I knew as soon as I felt that first gush that the IUI hadn’t worked. It was a long day. Andrew and I were both pretty(really) bummed about it. I have the best husband and friends ever though! My friend Stephanie showed up at my door with ice cream and flowers and most importantly a hug. Andrew came home from work a little earlier than normal with flowers too. (They are both so pretty still almost two full weeks later!) I tried to make sure that everyone who knew the IUI took place knew that it didn’t work and also informed our parents that we had done the IUI and that it didn’t work. Let me say that one more time, this round didn’t work. I was done. Defeated. Hopeless. Frustrated. Extremely emotional.

  

 

Tuesday, October 20th: All day long I was expecting a phone call from my doctors office because my nurse was going to be back in the office from her vacation. She called and I held it together while talking to her about our next steps and decisions we have to make. When I got off the phone I decided that I could have done without hearing some of the percentage facts she shared with me and that one of her 5 girls that went through the IUI was successful. I know that she had her reason for sharing that information and I get it now but that day I hated hearing it. I took a few minutes to be sad or emotional in whatever way I needed before I pulled myself back together and got on with life. I thought a little about her instructions for us to try on our own this month. I held onto this “sex every other day for the remainder (if/until your next cycle starts) will keep sperm in your fallopian tubes. Don’t take any ovulation test, that will increase the stress. We know your body is working. Call me if you don’t start in 32 days or call me when your next cycle starts and we will set up for the next round of IUI if you are ready. Hang in there.” I’m not going to even get into the sex every other day thing but I do have a post in the works on that. Stress. Anxiety. Defeat. Questioning everything.

As the days have passed I have become a little less emotional about it not working. I have also constantly reminded myself that the odds were not in our favor (1 in 4 IUIs are successful) but it was worth it to try. After all if it would have worked the money we spent wouldn’t seem like a big deal at all. Every time I think I’m completely over the fact that round one was not successful I realize that its easier to discuss with some people than it is with others. The true peace with it is coming though and my hopefulness is being restored. I went all the way from “screw all this” to “lets keep trying” in a few weeks. Now that brings us to today Thursday, October 29th. We are in the midst of trying on our own. I’m hopeful, and nervous, and anxious, and full of a million different emotions but most of all I’m okay.

I’m working on myself and accepting that sometimes things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would. I’m working on changing that image that I hold in my heart of my family of 4 to the image that I see daily of our beautiful family of 3. I’m working on getting my head and my heart in the same place. I’m loving my family hard and fierce. I’m holding onto hope and trying to live in the here and now more. I’m trying not to focus on the what to do next but instead on the what to do now. I’m being the best mom, wife and friend I know how to be. I’m more than okay, I’m absolutely perfect in my own way and exactly how I should be at this point in our journey. I’m very sure that tomorrow I will be even better and better each day after that. I’m feeling like my season of growth and expansion is here. It is here for a reason and although I don’t clearly see that reason yet, I will. So with no end dates set and no exact plans on what to do next we go on and that feels both freeing and scary. Answers and understanding will come along with peace and a renewed happiness.

Thank you all for understanding my need to process this before sharing and for allowing me to share it with you now. Thank you for reading and for all the love and prayers that are constantly coming our way. 

I’m off to have a fantastic Thursday with my boy who stayed up entirely too late last night watching world series game two. I hope you have a fantastic day too!

 

 

A Difficult Journey: Infertility- Curveball

*I started this post a few weeks back but haven’t been ready to share as I am still digesting and processing all of this news. As the stress sits heavily on me and I can feel the tension in my body I know that it’s time to share. I have learned that sharing throughout this process has made it a lot easier to deal with. I struggle with that fine line of over sharing but feel a major sense of relief when I can share what I’m going through.*

“It seems that you two got very lucky five years ago!”

Those were the very honest very real words spoken to me by my doctor today (Aug. 26th). I can’t tell you how many times throughout this journey I have heard, well maybe the stars and planets were aligned just right that night.” You know what maybe they were. What ever the situation it worked out and I really wish it would be that easy again. Obviously it is not.

I had another fertility doctor tell me that 40% of infertility is related to a problem with the female, 40% with the male, and 20% both. (Give or take on her numbers and take it as you will since she was a terrible doctor.) But Andrew and I fall in that lucky 20% that she mentioned. I think that’s why it stuck with me so well even though we didn’t like her. Anyway, not only do I suffer from stage 3 endometriosis but Andrew has an abnormality in his sperms morphology. The surgery cleaned my endometriosis up and the Lupron did its thing too but endometriosis is still a ticking time bomb. With every cycle it could come back quickly. We (Andrew, my doctor, and I) were hopeful that a second semen analysis on Andrew would show that the first was just a “bad” snapshot. You guessed it, it wasn’t. While his numbers did show some improvement it wasn’t enough for our particular situation. So, now what?

Throughout this entire journey that questions keeps coming back. So now what, what’s the next step? Until yesterday (Aug. 25th) I thought the next step was us trying on our own. We were all so confident that the surgery/Lupron treatment would do the trick. Now my doctor doesn’t think so. He feels like the numbers in the semen analysis didn’t improve enough. The problem with morphology of sperm is that it has a major impact on fertilization. If the sperm head is shaped weird then it cannot penetrate the egg. The problem with endometriosis is it could cause my uterus to not allow an egg to implant. Anyway with our factors and medical intervention we can still possibly have a baby.

The suggestion made to us is to attempt Intrauterine insemination often simply called IUI. We can try on our own as well but IUI will give us a little better of a chance. The IUI process will increase the odds of an egg getting fertilized. (If you want to read more about IUI just google it. Thousands of things will pop up.) I will give you my version of what will happen. Take it as you please and remember I’m not claiming to know it perfectly especially since this wasn’t even in my consideration until now. I didn’t consider it because I didn’t think we would have to go much past surgery. Naive yes, totally human, yes. Anyway, I will have a scan done to check the status of my ovaries and uterus. They will be looking to see if my ovaries are still suppressed and if my uterus looks healthy. Remember the Lupron put me into menopause and the birth-control I’ve been taking is bringing my estrogen level back up. My body is still trying to put itself back together. After the ovary scan we will start HCG injections, start date will depend on what is found during the ovary scan. I will do HCG injections for 7 days. I will be monitored through blood work and scans. When I am about to ovulate they will perform the insemination. I will actually have two inseminations that will take place 24-48 hours apart. Andrews semen sample will go through a wash process before it is used. There are lots of reasons why this is necessary but it helps prevent infection and washes out the weaker sperm. Once the second insemination is finished we just wait to see if fertilization and implantation occur. I will continue to be monitored during this time as well. Now let me remind you, I’m no expert so I’ve probably got a few things wrong here but I feel like I’ve got the main idea down. I am sure that I have missed something since I have never done this before and things don’t ever seem to be as easy when going through them as they are to read about.

This is not going to be easy. It will most likely take a toll on me in many ways. It will also take its toll on Andrew. The thing is we will get through this. We have a plan of attack and a “line” drawn for when enough is enough. If IUI is not successful for us and we don’t get pregnant when we try on our own then that’s it for us. It makes me sad to think or ever admit that truth but the reality is we already have one amazing little boy. We have no idea what will happen or what is in store for us but we are hopeful and positive and happy with whatever the outcome may be.

I go to the doctor September 15th to begin this next step in the journey. I’m nervous, excited, anxious, hopeful, confident and completely scared out of my mind. It wouldn’t be a major part of this journey if I were feeling any differently.

One thing I have realized through this infertility journey is that when things seem to be going in one direction it isn’t out of the ordinary for it to completely change course. It is best to just cry out the stress it causes then put your game face back on and adjust the plan.

I went to the doctor two days ago for a look at my ovaries and uterus. My ovaries are still suppressed and there is a blood clot in my uterus. Once again things seemed to be going one way and now they are going somewhere else. I cannot start the IUI process until my body is ready. I stopped taking my birth-control and am waiting impatiently for my bleed to come so that I can hopefully pass this clot. It isn’t a large one probably the size of a marble or smaller and should pass on its own. I am going back to the doctor on Monday so they can see if the clot has passed; if it hasn’t or looks any differently than it did on Tuesday we will create a new plan. I was not surprised that something was “wrong” but I had no clue what it was. I have been feeling like something wasn’t right but I had no idea that I had a clot. The good thing is we will have another paycheck before we have to start paying for all the meds and everything else that comes along with IUI. Looking on the bright side right! 😉 Hoping to pass this clot soon and move on to the next step whatever it ends up being.