I had to stop in the middle of my cleaning to knock out a quick post. I thought to myself - so much of what I write is negative or sad or frustrated, that as I run around my (now) clean house, with the windows open and the sunshine pouring in feeling really GOOD - I should go put this in writing.
Now, since the purpose of this blog is to help me get through what has proved to be the long and arduous task of having a baby, I understand that most of my posts will be of the more negative variety. Its when I feel down that I have the need to write. So its cool. I feel no need to be Sally Sunshine all of the time.
But today is a good day. The sun is shining. My lavender is blooming. I am going to get a pedicure - one of my FAVORITE things to do. My huge zit is gone. My house is clean. A woman whose blog I follow is pregnant. The Wiz closes tonight. A new Cooking Light is waiting to be read. Since I am not pregnant or in the 2 week waiting, I will drink some wine tonight after the show. I don't have ANYTHING I have to do tomorrow.
So I stayed home sick today - I seem to have caught the bug half of my cast had during Tech Week. Although I started to wonder if I was having symptoms from another cyst - headache, fatigue, nausea, a little woozy... That's how I felt after the first IUI that resulted in a not-insignificant cyst.
So I emailed my doctor this morning to see if she could get me in and she did. I had not been in to see her since the negative pregnancy test - there simply was no time. We had decided that starting another round of injectables during Hell Week was not something I could handle. So this is a month off. Anyways....I haven't written a post for so long, I didn't go in to see my doctor at the start of my current cycle, I had to take a month off, I haven't even felt bad about not being pregnant....all because I was SWAMPED with trying to get my show open. Which I did with great success by the way!
Now that the show is open and the rest of the school year should be do-able (not EASY mind you but nowhere near as stressful as it has been), it is back to "trying to have a baby." And, for the moment at least, this is very exciting and I feel renewed determination.
So at the appointment today, she gives me an ultrasound - I do not have a cyst. Yay! Guess I just have some virus. She also said it looks like I am about to ovulate (on my own - no drugs!), so we could do an IUI if we wanted. Sadly, the husband is in North Carolina for a week so that's not going to happen. But the good news is, my left ovary is about to ovulate - we had started to worry a little that my left was not working, but it appears to be okay, at least in this cycle.
She also said she thinks we should stick with IUI a little longer. Which made me breathe a huge sigh of relief - I know that IVF may very well be in our future, but I certainly wouldn't start that until school was out and I'm not sure my head is ready for that step. This gives me a couple more cycles of trying during the school year - I won't feel like I have to put the most important thing in the world on hold any longer because of my stupid job. We'll get to keep trying. And if we need to go on to IVF, I can think it through in the summer.
What else?.... She wants to put me on Menapur next time instead of Gonal F because she thinks I go too fast on the Gonal and maybe my lining is not ready for it. And she said we could do back to back inseminations to cover any timing issues. The husband was not too happy to hear that, but he'll make it work.
I also asked her about my nagging fear that something is wrong with my eggs - like maybe ALL of them. I have had two unsuccessful pregnancies and a very hard time getting pregnant when supposedly everything else is just right - my husband's sample, my lining, the number of eggs, my ability to carry, etc. I told her I also realize that this may just take awhile and I haven't given up or anything, but I do have this fear. It may not be rational, but its there. So she ordered a blood test - I'm embarrassed to say that I can't remember what for, I should have had her write it down - MTA or something? But I know its something to check the quality of my eggs.
And, get this - she said that I should call when I start my next period and come in for a "talk." They won't charge me the $130 for a "talk." But she is still going to "make sure" that I actually ovulated and don't have another cyst. Get my drift? What a nice woman.
So, even though I don't feel well today, it was a good day. The sun is shining. I wore flip flops for the first time this year. They played good music on the radio as I drove to and from the doctor. I do not have a cyst. And we are going to get a few more half-price IUIs out of my insurance before I stop working for this district. And tomorrow is already Wednesday...
Let me finish by saying that I do feel like kind of an a-hole for being so excited about losing my job - did I mention that I was pink slipped? When there are hundreds of thousands of people around the country dreading losing their jobs, I was so happy to see that envelope come certified mail. But, terrible economy aside, the husband and I had decided that this job is just TOO MUCH. Financially, we will be okay in the short term - not sure about the long term. Maybe we are crazy for taking this risk, but we are going to do it. I will not go back to this job or this school even if they ask me (which they probably will). And that makes me feel so much better.
So I get tested today - to find out the result of IUI #2. As if I don't already know. Spotting yesterday and still this morning, boobs no longer sore, cramping and back pain. I think the prometrium is the only thing keeping me from a full blown period.
And the weird thing is, I don't feel mad or sad. Maybe because I still hold out a glimmer of hope, maybe I am just getting used to this, or maybe its because of this heinous job I have. These next two weeks will be the most stressful of the whole year (the show opens next Friday) - I am literally working from morning til night. I can't fall apart for even a second until March 21 because I don't have time.
I'm willing to do ANYTHING to have a baby. That is my number one priority. But I have this job that holds me back from truly taking care of myself in that regard. I'm not going back for the next school year - of that I am SO sure. But these three and half months until summer vacation still seem so long. I RESENT them. I try not to do a daily countdown because that makes me feel worse. I think I'll start the countdown at about 30 days left....
I told Greg that I wished I was pregnant and had to be put on bed rest because then I wouldn't have to go to work. How pathetic is that? I mean, obviously I want to be pregnant for many reasons, but I was actually thinking - maybe two or even three eggs took and I will be forced on bedrest for the first trimester.... Forced?! HA!!! Willing to run the risk of multiples because I hate my job? Nice.
Two years ago today I lost my baby. We found out on February 27 about 20 weeks into the pregnancy that our baby had anencephaly and would not live. I guess technically February 27th is the day that the world fell out from under me. But March 7 is the day my baby died and this is the date that has such meaning for me.
This is the date that signifies "before." Before we lost the baby. Before I had ever known such pain and loss and grief. Before we struggled so hard to get pregnant again. Before we learned there were fertility problems. Before we had a second loss - a miscarriage at 7 weeks.
I started a journal on my laptop on February 28, 2007. I have never been much of journal writer. I had diaries as a kid that I would start and stop over the years, but that's about it. But when I found out that I would lose my baby, I felt like I needed to get some of what I was feeling out of me. I had to write. I was too numb to talk yet, but I couldn't just keep all that pain and confusion in my head. I felt like I would explode. So I wrote some things in a word document on my laptop (I don't think I even knew blogging existed at the time).
Here are some excerpts from what I wrote:
February 28, 2007
We found something in the results and you need to see Dr. B in the other building. The ultrasound technician handed me a post it note with his name on it. I felt the blood instantly drain from my face. They don't send you to the doctor straight from the ultrasound for a good reason. Greg and I started to walk down the hall. This can't be good I said. I don't know baby he said and took my hand. My heart was pounding in my chest.
I started thinking....what could it be? Is the placenta too close to my cervix? The technician said she was checking for that. Is it spina bifida? Downs? I don't want that - that will be so difficult. Maybe I have a tumor in my uterus or my bladder. Please let it be me. Please let me have a tumor.
We check in at the women's center. They ask for my copay. I think but we're just talking to the doctor. Would they really make you pay to hear bad news? We sit in the waiting room holding hands. It feels like an eternity. Every time the door opens, my heart jumps. Every other woman waiting is called. I really start to believe that they would not make me wait this long if it was something serious. It must have something to do with the placenta. Maybe I'll be put on bed rest or have weekly appointments.
Finally a nurse calls my name and takes us to a room. I sit on the exam table and Greg sits in a chair next to me. We keep holding hands not saying anything. I want to ask him...what could this be? What could be wrong? Why are they taking so long? But I know he doesn't know and I don't want to upset him. And if I say these things out loud my fears will be real before they have to be. We wait for another eternity but it is only ten minutes. Every footstep outside the door stops my heart, but they just keep walking by.
Finally the doctor comes in. He is a nice looking man and his face tells me that he has bad news. He looks like he feels sorry for us. He introduces himself and sits down in front of me. I don't remember all of what he said, only bits and pieces. I remember hearing....anencephaly....a neural tube defect...about 1 in 1000....the brain never developed. He puts his hands up to his skull to demonstrate and I think oh my God, my baby only has half a head? It is a fatal condition...the baby would only live a few hours, or was it days, after delivery. They didn't know until the ultrasound because everything else develops fine. But I remember seeing two arms and legs. The baby waved, put her left arm up to her forehead like Greg does when he sleeps. We saw the heart beating, the four chambers of the heart, the face. Everything looked fine. The doctor says they don't really know why this happens.....could be a lack of folic acid.
But I did that. I took prenatal vitamins. I'm not an idiot. He says he was on the phone calling another doctor, trying to schedule a D&E. Its a very specialized procedure. Some women choose to carry to full term, but he doesn't recommend that. Waiting increases the danger to me. He hands me two paper towels because there is no Kleenex in here.
I don't remember much else until we get outside. Its raining. I hate walking in the rain. But now I don't care. Greg says he's driving me home. Right. We drove here separately. I can't say anything. This cannot be real. Everything feels heavy and foggy, like a dream. When I get in the car I think....last time I was in here everything was different. I was so excited and happy. I can picture Greg standing by his car as I drove up. We walked into the hospital holding hands, talking about the snow on Mt. Diablo and how I had to pee so bad even though I didn't drink as much water as they told me to. Greg gets in the car and starts crying. We hug. I ask him if he is okay to drive home.
It rains all the way home. I keep seeing that little hand waving at me. Seeing Greg smile at me and our baby on the ultrasound monitor. I will never forget these images that for a moment were so wonderful and happy and now are so painful and sad. A couple of times I think that this must be a mistake. This just cannot be happening. In the span of a couple of hours everything has changed.
I remember the dreams I had. I'm scared to remind Greg of this as if it somehow makes it my fault. I hadn't told him exactly what I dreamt anyway, just that I had a bad dream about the baby. I dreamt that something was wrong with the baby's head. I had woken up and told myself to relax, all pregnant women worry, have bad dreams. Only now something IS wrong with my baby's head.
I had finally stopped worrying about the pregnancy. I had finally started to feel good again, well enough to get excited and make some real plans. I feel bad because I was so sick and unhappy for the first trimester. I did not like being pregnant and I complained a lot. I wanted to skip the whole pregnancy thing and just have a baby. I shouldn't have complained. I didn't understand then Now I do.
Finally we are home and sitting on the couch in silence. We go back and forth between crying and just sitting. I think we need to call our moms. But I don't want to yet. As soon as we do, as soon as I say the words out loud to someone, its out there, its really true. Other people will know. We will have to tell everyone and I don't know if I can bear this. I have to call my mom. As soon as she hears my voice, she knows something is very wrong. She is coming over. I don't know what to do. I am so tired. And starving. What do we do now?
I google pregnancy loss. There are many websites. All seem to list pregnancy loss as miscarriage, stillborn or neonatal loss. None of those are me. I find a website for anencephaly support and go there. This is a website for women who choose to carry their baby to full term. The website counsels you and offers you support to complete the pregnancy. Many of these websites are religious and don't consider mine a valid choice. How can that be? Half of anencephaly babies die in utero. A quarter die minutes after birth. A quarter might live a few days. Is my choice not valid? It doesn't even feel like a choice to me. I never even considered the alternative until I see these websites and read these stories. But I know this decision is right for me. I ask Greg if it is right for him. Thank God we agree on this.
I start looking at adoption websites. I find Justin & Brian's page and imagine what Greg and I would put on ours, what would we say, what pictures would we choose. I am thinking this and my baby isn't even dead yet.
Today is my pre-op and I think I am scared. I was in bed last night watching TV and I started to feel very anxious and worried that I would have trouble sleeping so Greg got me some Tylenol PM. Even still, I woke up several times, heart pounding, thinking I was late for my appointment.
Since last week (its been a week now...it feels like only an hour and a month at the same time), whenever I think about the procedure today and the surgery tomorrow and I am relatively calm. Which you wouldn't expect from me.
I'm the person who almost left the hospital, had to call Kathleen to talk me down and then sat sobbing in the waiting room when I had to have my first blood test in college. My only experience with surgery was when I had an infected spider bite. It wasn't even real surgery, it was a procedure in the doctor's office. I was only about 9, but my mom AND a nurse had to hold me down. As an adult, I would get anxious for two days before a Pap Smear. I pay extra for the gas when I get a cavity filled.
But I don't feel panic this time. I will come out of this alive. My baby will not. What's going to happen to my baby is so much worse than what is going to happen to me. I can take it. I am the mother and I have to be strong for my baby. Plus, they gave me good drugs....
The pre-op was okay. I had taken an anti-anxiety pill and two Vicodin so I was pretty out of it. Dr. B is so nice. He talks to me as he puts the laminaria in my cervix - 8 little sticks of seaweed that will help me dilate in preparation for tomorrow. He explains that they will each get to be about the size of a pencil. Holy shit - eight pencils in there? He keeps the conversation light. At one point he says how this kind of reminds him of The Simpsons when they are working in the nuclear plant - the nuclear rods, you know? I look over at Greg like - Seriously? Because that's not at all what it reminds me of. It is kind of funny though. I appreciate that he is talking about something and that we aren't doing this horrible thing in silence.
So its over.
I don't remember anything from the surgery. I was put under anesthesia. I started to come to as they were rolling me out and I think asked the nurse if it was a boy or a girl. And if it was definitely anencephaly. I'm not sure I made much sense, but she understood me and told me it was a girl and it was definitely anencephaly. Then I was out again. I come to again in recovery an ask her the same two questions. And then I was out again.
When I finally wake up, Greg is sitting on my left, holding my hand. I tell him I think the nurse told me it was a girl and he says he knows, the doctor told him. I am so glad he is here.....
Some "its been two weeks" thoughts:
This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through
I still can't quite believe my baby is dead.
I am so thankful that Greg is my husband and partner. He is the best support and I just love him so much. I cannot imagine going through this without him.
We have a wonderful family and incredible friends. I knew that before, but something like this really reminds me in a very concrete way. I am overwhelmed by the love and support that we've gotten. It has made this more bearable. People don't know what to say, they feel helpless - I would too. But a phone call, an email, flowers, a meal make a world of difference. I have learned much from my friends in the last two weeks.
I'm not only sad for myself, but my heart breaks for husband. And I am so sad that our parents are so sad. And I can't imagine how my brother and sister-in-law must feel (we were due almost the same day).
We will have another baby. At this point (and I keep going back and forth), I want to try again. But I am willing to adopt. We will have another baby one way or another.
I don't think this "happened for a reason." I think sometimes, things just happen. And there was nothing I could have done to stop this. Some things are out of our control. And I hate that. But I accept it.
I am going to be okay.
Back to 2009. So here I am two years later, remembering the worst days of my life. Why?
Because in a strange way it makes me feel better. As I type this and remember, it makes me cry a lot and even smile a little. I have not shared most of these details with anyone except my husband. And even though not many may read here, part my story is now out there. And that makes me feel better.
And because I am still a childless mother. I have lost another and I have struggled and struggled to get pregnant. This place is where I still find myself. But I know that even if I wasn't still a childless mother, that in the future when I have living children, I will always stop on this day and remember my first baby. She deserves that. She was a life and she mattered.
After we lost her and I went to message boards and found other people like me and read their stories, I saw that many people named their lost babies. I admit, at first I thought that was a little strange and decided it was not for me. We had a girl's name picked out, but I felt like I didn't know HOW to name her. I had no birth certificate, no grave. Its not like I would refer to her as her name if and when I talked about with people. I didn't feel like I really needed it. It was enough to think of her as just "my baby."
Gradually, I began to look at it differently. I started to feel like my baby deserved a name. The name wasn't for me, it was for this life that was lost. A life that was much more than a few cells, a life that probably looked a lot like a very tiny baby. I don't know what she looked like, I never saw her. But I still see that little hand waving at me and I know that she was beautiful.
I have kept her name to myself for two years. And mostly I will continue to do so. But I will write this here, on this very sad and special day....
You are so missed Naomi, my lost little baby girl.
So I've been pretty grouchy the last two days and last night I noticed that I'm getting 2 zits. Uh oh. These are the classic PMS signs.
Now, I'm not freaking out and I've been through this too many times to overanalyze every little symptom (I used to do that) and frankly, I'm too goddamned busy to even think about it much.
But when I got home from rehearsal last night, grabbed my two cuties (I'm SO glad its mandarin orange season), sat on the couch to watch American Idol on tivo, and had a moment to think....it kind of occurred to me that I was having PMS symptoms.
I am definitely in a "one day at a time" mode - that helps me get through trying to have a baby and survive my job. And I've been pretty good the last few days (what an accomplishment - feeling not bad for three days in a row). But with March 7 rapidly approaching and a possible/probable impending period, I can feel another bad spell around the corner.
Not much time to write - I have rehearsal tonight. Thank God its a choreography rehearsal, so I have to BE there, but I can do work while my choreographer (and friend) Anjee runs the musical numbers.
School today was not bad. I announced the Advanced Theatre show and most of the response was good - most of the kids are very excited. And the beauty of this show is that we will do the majority of rehearsing DURING CLASS!!!! YAY!!! While the next 3 weeks before we open The Wiz are going to be brutal, I am starting to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So today's symptoms - I am very tired, not very crampy, more hungry than usual, seriously bloated and my boobs are KILLING me. It is so wonderful having all these pregnancy symptoms (thanks to the prometrium) when one may not even be pregnant. Probably isn't pregnant.
School does make the day go by very fast - not much time to worry about the whole - am I pregnant? thing.
There is nothing profound for me to write today. But in my quest to keep better track of the ins and outs of this cycle....
IUI #2 was Wednesday. Stayed home Thursday. School on Friday was okay - came home and slept for two hours - very tired. Yesterday and today, feeling tired and crampy. Could be because there is a tiny embryo making its way down, getting ready to implant or could be because I'm sticking prometrium up myself twice a day. The bottle says "may cause dizziness" (which it does) and "may cause headaches" (which thankfully it has not). Boobs are very sore. But that is pretty normal for me post-ovulation and since I (hopefully) ovulated 3 eggs, I would expect heightened symptoms.
I'm a mom to my beloved Finn. I'm a wife to my partner and best friend G$. I used to be a teacher. I have three great parents and lots of friends who I love, love, love. I like to read, travel, eat good food, sing, sit in the sun, take my friends' Zumba class, fold warm laundry, laugh, shop by myself, watch a good TV show, drink maragritas....My husband and I lost our baby at 20 weeks to anencephaly. And then we had lots of trouble getting pregnant again. Infertility and loss brought me to a dark place. It was the most difficult period of my life. Maybe it sounds cliche, but I learned a lot about myself, my marriage, and who has my back. After Finn was born, the color came back to my life. Being his mother is the best thing. Motherhood is wonderful and hard, boring and exciting - I don't love it every second of every day, but I do love it. I would love to have more children, but, to be blunt, I don't have a uterus. So now we decide if we embark on the adoption journey.