A Love Story

My husband and my love story is like any other love story: two people met and fell in love. But it’s not like any other love story because it can only be like ours.

A boy and a girl met on a dating application meant for hookups. Neither were looking for a hook up. Neither really knew what they were looking for. Both were lost in their own worlds of school, and working, and drinking with friends, and heartbreaks, and Facebook likes, and just stuff. They met at a predetermined restaurant, him in a plaid shirt and jeans, and she in ripped jeans and an oversized sweater, an outfit painstakingly picked out and approved by her best friend/gay fashionable roommate. She had told no one about the date, save for fashionable roommate. Interestingly enough, he had also told no one, save for his gay roommate who made him sign up for the hook up dating app.

They met for drinks and shared a bottle of wine that she would later find out he didn’t really care for much, as he preferred the classier side of life through a Miller Lite bottle. The date was like any other first date except it wasn’t because something felt different for both of them. It also ended when the boy abruptly informed the girl that he had to pee, and that this somehow indicated the end of a date.

They would go on many more dates after that, and a month into their relationship, while he was out of town visiting family, she would get wine drunk with her roommates and declare that someday she wanted to have his babies (yeah, I see you, Irony).

She waited about six months to inform her now official boyfriend about her incurable wanderlust. He’d never left the country, unless you counted a cruise with his fraternity brothers, of which he remembered very little from all the blacking out due to alcohol consumption. She did not count this. He was content to stay in his ever growing southern town. She felt suffocated by it. He thought her desire to travel would pass. She started actively applying for jobs abroad.

In most scenarios, the story probably would have ended here. The differences are too big. The wants, too extreme. One desires a picket fence, the other hates them. One craves stability, the other finds it boring. Yet they persisted. He watched her pursue trying to live abroad and each heartbreak when the job was given to someone else.

Until one almost summer day when a school in Belgium emailed on a weekend to tell her they wanted her to move there and be the new learning support teacher. She read the email (which she’d figured was a rejection email at first because who emails to tell a candidate they’re being offered a job to live in a new country?) and texted her friend to meet her in the park because how was she going to tell her boy even though he had been on this interviewing ride for almost a year now? She told him as he played video games. They decided soon after to accept.

He quit his job. He sold all their belongings and his car. He packed up a house, said goodbye to friends he’d had for 10+ years. He married the girl. Got on a plane to move permanently to a country, on a continent, he’d never been to, or cared to go to. He couldn’t find work, so he started learning a new language. He traveled to countries he didn’t think he’d ever see (or sometimes, want to).

They didn’t have much money. They still don’t. He doesn’t have a job and checks their bank account on the reg. They sometimes live paycheck to paycheck. The girl struggles with infertility and guilt and sadness over her still empty womb. Their first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Sometimes life feels like it’s shitting all over them and it’s easy to get caught up in the angry and bad parts.

All of this is what makes up love. Sometimes it’s really, really hard. There are really bad parts. Those parts are sometimes easy to remember or allow to dominate the daily rhetoric. What can be harder to remember? The really, really good parts. The driving down some of the most beautiful coastal roads you’ve ever seen in one of the most beautiful countries you think might have ever existed, even if the car had just been towed and it had cost an arm and a leg that you don’t have to spare to get it out just 24 hours earlier. It’s staring at a sunset in a kayak you share in the middle of a sea and wondering how all this is here in this world and goodness you two are so lucky to be witnessing it. It’s back rubs as you walk along the road, expressing how much you miss a baby that you don’t have yet, a conversation you’ve had a million times in three weeks but that he listens to you have yet again. It’s head rubs that he gives you ‘on the house’ because you’re a sensory seeker and love to rub his fuzzy head. It’s all the hard and all the good and everything in between all wrapped into one that you get to share together.

Love stories aren’t really unique to anyone but ourselves. But it’s nice to remember them, and how you got to here, where you are today, whether in the midst of heartbreak, or the throws of joy, or the mundane of the everyday. In between every little bit of sad, is something to be grateful for. In between every joy, is something to be grateful for.

I read this fantastic quote today on a fantastic blog that I’ve been reading by a fantastic writer who is helping me to put life in perspective (although she doesn’t seem to like The Big Bang Theory which I think is insane).

“…when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born-and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that is can be born as perfectly as possible.”

This was a wonderful thing for this girl to read in this moment. No, things don’t always go according to the plans we set for ourselves. Look at that love story. If you’d told that boy that he would be married to a wanderlust, living in another country, and unemployed, he would have either laughed in your face or run away from you to the nearest white-picketed fenced house he could have found, with a minivan tossed in for good measure, and bought it right then and there. Likewise, if you told the girl that in a few years she’d be living in another country, but that she still wouldn’t have children and that ‘I don’t want to be a first time mom at 35 years old’ deadline was now a foregone conclusion, she probably wouldn’t have thought it possible, or made some arbitrary comment about how people are having babies later and later these days, things she despises hearing now.

That isn’t how it worked out. It doesn’t always make sense. How wonderful that our love story didn’t make sense. How lucky that two people who, on paper, make no sense, are living a life that sometimes makes no sense, but living it together? For now, there are sunsets to look at, and love to be had, and memories to be made–the good kind and the bad because all of it shapes everything, and at the end of the day, you can choose to have made more good memories than bad or you can choose not to. We’ve had a lot of distractions thrown at us lately. Here’s to the big and lovely.

I Hope You….

The IVF journal I’ve bought to assist me in chronicling this journey in paper form wants to know my hopes for our future baby.

 

It says, I hope you get your…..

And I write:

Dad’s sense of humour and playfulness.

Mom’s sense of adventure and determinedness.

Dad’s dancing ability, and not caring how it makes you look as long as it makes someone around you smile and laugh. 

Mom’s love of music and its ability to reach deep into your soul.

Dad’s ability to love unconditionally and selflessly (except when it comes to cleaning his facial hair out of the sink)

Own sense of purpose in life, find something that drives you, and follow it wherever it takes you

I hope that when you finally come earth side and take your first breath, you know how long you’ve been wanted and that you’ve finally arrived to this wonderful, heartbreaking, beautiful thing that I’ve wanted and hoped the most for you: Life.

 

 

 

Thankful

Thank heavens for good doctors. Or in my case, a good doctor. I finally went in yesterday afternoon and I’m so glad I waited until I knew his office wouldn’t be busy because I felt a lot better by the time I walked out. It was also really good timing because earlier that day, my principal had come to my room, closed the door, and said she had something semi-confidential to share with me, and had wanted me to hear it first. I was initially concerned that I was in some kind of trouble, but it was nothing like that. One of my colleagues in the primary school is pregnant and word is starting to get out as she had her first ultrasound last Friday. It was incredibly kind of my principal to give me a heads up in private and I’m grateful she did as it felt like I’d been sucker-punched when I found out. I just wasn’t expecting that at all. While I am genuinely happy for my co-worker, it was hard news to hear and I couldn’t help the wave of sadness that overtook me. It’s only in the last few days that I haven’t actively strayed from looking at betas and positive tests on my support groups on Facebook because they had hurt too much to see. It was good that I had some time to process her pregnancy on my own.

All that to say, when I went in to my doctor, I was definitely feeling down about my situation. I would say this week has felt like I’ve returned more or less to my ‘normal’ state of mind. I’m back to working out, drinking water, giving an overall shit about my well-being, and actually caring about others. I had a temporary set-back yesterday and I think it was evidenced when I walked in to his office. The first thing he commented on was how quiet I was. I honestly think I’m one of his generally happier patients, and I’m usually on the chattier side. That wasn’t the case as I walked in yesterday.

It was a good meeting overall, though. My doctor was great about asking me how I was doing and acknowledging that this is a tough thing to go through. He said from his point of view, the transfer was a success because it showed I was able to get pregnant, even if I didn’t stay pregnant (needless to say, we had slightly differing opinions on the definition of success). I asked about my two remaining embryos and expressed my concern since my ‘best’ embryo was put in first. He said that just because an embryo looks good doesn’t mean it is good, and there isn’t any reason to think that there is anything wrong with the other two. I also asked about if he thought I had an implantation issue or a gene mutation, to which he replied he did not and the only problem with me was that I was American. Fair point. 😉 Basically, there’s always a 15% chance this could happen, and while it’s unfortunate it happened to me, it isn’t all that uncommon and isn’t a predictor for future success. At one point he said to me, ‘You’re going to be my success story’, to which I said ‘Why?’  He said, ‘You just are going to be my success story. You’re going to have a baby by next year.’

That was a really kind thing to say and it made me feel a lot better (and also, that I should receive the Favorite Patient Award). The next steps moving forward are for me to continue waiting for my next period to show up. That conversation went roughly like this:

Me: What if my period doesn’t show up?
Him: It will.
Me: What if it doesn’t?
Him: It will.
Me: But how do you know?? What if it doesn’t??
Him: Because I’m the doctor and it will!

I was worried because last time I started a period four days after stopping progesterone, and I was already 8 days past with no signs of another one starting. I bled a lot when I miscarried, and for a full week, so I was concerned that was it. He said since the HCG has been leaving my system, it can delay everything starting again. I’m back in the waiting game until that happens. Once I start, I take estrogen almost immediately after and then come in for a scan on day 7, and then we begin it all again. None of my medicine protocols are changing so it should be similar to this past frozen transfer.

I walked out of the office with renewed hope for a baby. The loss of the pregnancy has been the first time that I’ve really begun to question if I would actually have a baby one day. Ever since we started this journey, I’d always assumed, perhaps naively, that it would happen. Even as the months went on and we didn’t have answers to why I wasn’t getting pregnant, my faith that I would eventually conceive never wavered. When we moved to IVF, if anything my confidence went up that I would get pregnant, which terrified me throughout the entire process as it finally started to feel ‘real’. It never occurred to me that it might not actually work. The miscarriage undid all of that. It made me realize that I was guaranteed nothing and so I began to question if this was going to happen for us. A lot of ‘what ifs’ showed up. Having a doctor who is so sure that I’ll have a baby, who takes the time to listen and to make sure I’ve gotten all my insane questions out of my system, was a big help towards renewing my broken confidence. I’m still nervous about the future and the next transfer, but hope has started to sneak back in. I’m slowly starting to feel excited about trying again. And for that, I am thankful.

A Letter

This is an article written by Samantha Wassel on Scary Mommy. While my situation was slightly different (To the embryo that didn’t stay for very long after our IVF transfer), the content is a lot of how I’ve felt the last ten days, but especially in those raw first few days of finding out I was losing the pregnancy. As of today, my HCG is at a 1, which means everything is about back to ‘normal’ levels and it is all really and truly over. It seemed appropriate today and I thought it was worth sharing.

To our little embryos, the ones that failed to implant after our IVF transfer:

I wish I knew why things work out the way they do, but I don’t.

I don’t know why you didn’t stick around (literally) the way I hoped and prayed you would. I don’t know why our IVF transfer failed, why you didn’t grow into the beautiful little babies I imagined you could have been. I don’t know why I’ll never get to hear your hearts beat, feel your tiny feet kick, or swell with your growing life inside of me.

I don’t know why you weren’t meant to become my children. I don’t know why the children I already have won’t get to call you siblings or why my parents won’t get to call you grandbabies.

I don’t know why I won’t get to call you by the names I so carefully chose for you.

I don’t know why I was chosen to bear the burden of infertility. I don’t know why I can’t just be “normal” or why my body so strongly resists giving me what my heart desires.

I don’t know why you left me empty in so many places—my womb, my heart, the part of my soul that attached to you when the doctor put you inside of me. I don’t know how long the holes you left will take to close. I don’t know if they ever will.

I don’t know a lot of things, little embryos, but I do know this:

For you—and for all you gave me in our short time together—I am grateful.

I am grateful for the sense of purpose you gave me.

I am grateful because you made me feel like something bigger than myself (and I’m not just talking about all the bloating from the hormones and IVF medications). You made me feel responsible for protecting you. You made my body feel like a gift instead of a curse. You made me aware of the fragility of life, and you taught me how to cherish it.

You made me feel like I was worth something, like I was something.

I am grateful for the 11 days of “pregnancy” you gave me.

I am grateful because in that short span of time we spent together before my negative blood test, I got to feel like any other pregnant woman, even if I was never technically pregnant at all. I got to make decisions based on what was best for you. I got to request decaf coffee and hard-cooked eggs at the diner we went to for breakfast. I got to avoid hot baths and heating pads, even when I was cramping. I got to practice prenatal yoga and monitoring my own heart rate so it never rose above 140.

I got to feel just a touch of that unique pregnancy paradox—to experience something that’s so innately natural, yet so breathtakingly extraordinary.

I am grateful for the memories you gave me.

I am grateful because even though I feel an emptiness now, I remember the fullness I felt when we were together. I remember how it felt when you filled me with love and optimism, with promise and possibility. I remember how it felt when you filled me with life.

I remember how it felt to carry you in my body and in my heart. I remember you. And I always will.

And for that, little embryos, I am grateful.

So even though we’ve parted ways, even though our destinies were not meant to intertwine, even though I am sitting here at my computer typing you this letter through tears of grief, I am grateful.

Hurry Up and Wait

It’s the name of the infertility game, isn’t it? Patience has never been my strongest virtue and I find the days are going soooo slooowwwwwllllly as I wait until I can go in to see my doctor again. I just want to know what comes next and if they can tell me why this happened and what they think the odds are for the two remaining embryos and if we should test them and, and, and. I just have to wait. As it is, I’m thinking of just going in Monday for the blood draw and coming back Tuesday afternoon to actually meet with the doctor which means even more waiting! I hate going in on mornings though as there are at least four hundred thousand other women all waiting to be seen and I feel like I end up being rushed out of there, whereas if I go in the afternoon, it’s usually just me waiting and I can ask my million questions and receive answers in peace. I hate the idea of waiting longer but I also don’t want to find myself frustrated on Monday morning if I feel shoved out the door. Also, I found out that an appointment like this is referred to as a WTF appointment in the infertility world. It literally means ‘What the fuck went wrong’ appointment. Didn’t know that, and once I found out, I have to say it made me laugh a little as there couldn’t be a more appropriate acronym as that one. I’ve said it a lot the past week.

In other ‘What the Fuck’ news, I had to call my general practitioner yesterday, as the big vein in my neck was bulging out Wednesday evening (because that’s normal and why not?). It happened right before I was heading out to a workout class, and I noticed it because I was putting my hair up. I thought it seemed weird, but I’ve never had that happen before so I didn’t give it too much thought. We were in the beginning of the class when J happened to look over at me and noticed it bulging out. He said it looked like there was a marble in my neck. It stayed that way through another set, so finally at a break, I showed it to my instructor. He wasn’t really sure what it was. He touched it, and it wasn’t a hard lump of anything, it was just the vein sticking out. There is a girl who has more medical background who works there, so he went up and asked her and she said as long as I wasn’t having headaches, it was okay. The problem is I AM having headaches, but I’m off progesterone, and that gives me headaches (although, as a side note, they’ve been way better with the tablets than they were when I stopped suppositories last time). I’d never know if I was having a headache for another reason right now as the progesterone ones are basically all day. Otherwise, she didn’t think it was a big deal. They advised me to finish the workout, but take it easy, so I did. The vein went down and I didn’t have the issue again. I was telling Trish about it the next morning and she said it might be a good idea to talk with the nurses at school. I went to them, and they took my blood pressure and heart rate. Everything was in the normal range, although my heart rate was a little higher than a resting heart rate should be, but it wasn’t of concern. They did recommend that I talk to my doctor though, and since I wasn’t seeing my fertility doctor until potentially Monday at the earliest, they called my general practitioner to see if there was time that I could speak with her. I called her and she seemed to think it was okay but to monitor if it happens again. I ended up speaking with my sister later in the evening and she said to make sure I do mention it to my doctor, as I’ve had a lot of side effects during the IVF process and it would be good for him to know, in case they decide they do want to investigate it further. Either way, it hasn’t happened again so maybe it was just a fun fluke.

As I was heading to bed last night, I got suckered into one of those very accurate Facebook quizzes. Titled ‘When Will You Get Pregnant?’, it calculates the genders, number of children, and months that you’ll DEFINITELY get pregnant. I’m sure it’s incredibly scientific, as most Facebook quizzes tend to be, to be able to tell anyone something so complex based on their profile picture. Regardless, some girl in one of my fertility groups posted it (incidentally, it told her to expect to get pregnant with triplets in October, which seems likely) and I decided that I’d take it for shits and giggles and all that. I took the quiz and my results are below.

cool

It said I’d get pregnant in September but it didn’t ever fully load. Irony is cruel sometimes.

Afterwards

Yesterday I went in for my blood draw to check my HCG levels. As expected, they were dropping and I officially have lost the ‘baby’. I hate to just call it an embryo but am fully aware it was not an actual baby yet. I didn’t cry when I got the call. I’d known that was going to be the outcome. I’d spent all weekend bleeding and cramping so it didn’t take rocket science to figure out my very short lived pregnancy was ending. I went to workout class that night, we made a real dinner together, watched some TV and went to bed. It was for all purposes a regular evening. I stopped all medicine yesterday to bring on my next period (because bleeding for the last six days is not the period, which only makes this that much more awful). I’ll get a final blood draw Monday to make sure my levels are at zero and I also meet with my doctor.

While I’ve still had some moments of frustration and anger, I felt that I’d moved into acceptance primarily. What happened has happened. I wrote the days the embryo ‘lived’ on my picture, signed the nickname we gave him (I think it was a boy, and J always jokes that he wants to name a boy Doug which horrifies me), but left it hanging up. I was putting some closure to the situation, especially now that I knew without a doubt that the pregnancy was over. Today has been theoretically fine albeit some crankiness on my end. I usually try to eat lunch in the teachers lounge, but I haven’t had the energy to do so the last few school days, today included. Tuesdays are a busy day for me anyways, and I just wanted to eat alone with my music. I do this at least once a week regardless, so it’s not that uncommon for me. I was halfway through my lunch when tears just started down my cheeks. They came from almost nowhere. I was feeling lonely and sad I guess, but I don’t usually sit at school and cry whenever that happens. I just couldn’t help it. All I feel today is depression and lethargy. I don’t care about anything, I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I’m so tired.

Since we’ve moved abroad, I have always said that even though things are tougher here, I enjoyed the lifestyle so much more than when we were in Nashville. This is the first time where I’m truly questioning us living here. I have no family to help get through this. It’s just me and J tackling this, and while he’s been wonderful, I’d give anything to have a hug from my mom or my grandma or my sister or just someone in my family. I can’t do that and that has been really tough for me. It’s also the first time that I’ve just become so overwhelmed by this whole process, where it’s started to feel like too much and that I’m struggling to balance working and dealing with it. Because we moved here for my job and due to visa restrictions, it hasn’t been possible for J to find work. This means that our ability to stay here rests solely on my shoulders. I’ve always said I’d want to be a working mom, but right now, I wish I had the ability to stay home and grieve. I don’t. Every appointment that takes me out of school for some period of time stresses me out. And if I don’t keep working full time, not only can we not afford to be here, but legally we wouldn’t be allowed to either. There’s so much pressure coming from everywhere. My work has been really understanding but I can’t ask for a week off because I don’t give a shit about behavioral concerns for a kid who can’t sit still because right now my head and my heart are a little bit fucked up. I feel like I’m dropping the ball everywhere. I’m not as effective at my job anymore, I’m missing out on family time with people who won’t be here one day, and I can’t seem to have a baby. Everything feels like so much.

Today is a hard day. Tomorrow might be too. I don’t know what to do except wait for time to work its magic. Until then, I’m slowly slogging through each day, waiting until I can get home and collapse on a couch, no longer pretending to be the human that is parading around in my empty body.

One day at a time.

Well Hello Anger

After a sad day Friday, and lots of tears, I went to bed pretty early, exhausted. I woke up Saturday morning with a new buddy–Anger. It showed up and I wasn’t expecting it. I would be sitting on the couch when this wave would overtake me.

Why is this happening? Why is my baby being taken? Why didn’t it get a chance? Why couldn’t this work? This isn’t fucking FAIR.

I know, life isn’t fair. But this feels so incredibly unfair. I’m furious. There isn’t anywhere for my anger to go, so it just stews inside of me. I often find myself wanting to lash out, but the only person near me is J, and he’s been really supportive, and I’d only be lashing out at him because it feels like it would feel good to just scream at someone. Sometimes I want to punch something, sometimes I want to sit in silence and just be angry, sometimes I want to sit and cry, and sometimes I’m okay. I’m not supposed to work out yet, so I can’t even go to a class to try to sweat some of it out. I look at the picture from the transfer on our refrigerator that I can’t take down just yet, and I feel the anger build again. It’s quickly followed by disappointment and a feeling of inadequacy. Tears will show up at the slightest thing.

Meanwhile, the bleeding has picked up and as I’m writing this, the cramps are getting worse, which is also making me angry.  Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t feel this angry, or sad, or upset. I only knew I was pregnant (officially) for three days. The same day I found out, I started bleeding. I transferred just a week ago. I criticise myself for being upset when women have lost babies much later than me. I mean technically, this was considered a chemical pregnancy and probably not even a ‘true’ miscarriage. Guess what? It still feels like a miscarriage because I KNEW I was pregnant. Fuck chemical pregnancies. I know comparing myself to others or criticising isn’t going to make this feel any better and it isn’t going to make this process any easier. If anything, its probably going to slow my ability to move on. I know it, I get it, and I’m trying not to do it. It’s only been two days. My inclination is to always push myself to just feel ‘fine’ and to not be upset because it could always be worse. The reality is I’m upset, chemical pregnancy or whatever. I’m angry at how much longer we have to wait to meet our baby. I’m angry for the embryo. I’m angry that I know it was probably genetically abnormal and there’s a reason for why it didn’t stick, but I DON’T CARE. I’m angry that I feel like I should be alright and I’m just not. I’m angry that when we try again, I’m going to be wondering if it’ll happen again.  I’m angry that I won’t be able to be as excited the next time we try (I mean, did you see the excitement in that raised eyebrow picture from the transfer? Can that happen again?).I’m angry that I have to move on from this one and I don’t want to. I’m just really angry right now.

Tomorrow is blood test #2, and then we’ll probably have an appointment with my doctor to get more information. I don’t know the protocol after a chemical pregnancy, or if it’ll be the same. We only have two embryos left, and I’m worried about if they’re all going to be genetically abnormal, and if we should end up PGS testing them. I don’t know if the problem was with me either.

Every day is a new day, and I know I’ll be okay. You move on and try again. I’m just not ready to move on yet. I’ll get there. I’m trying to sit with the anger and acknowledge it and let myself be.

I read this today, and it’s very true: Grief only exists where love lived first.

I sure did love you my little one, even if it was only for a short time.

The Call

I went in this morning to my doctor. I told him about the pregnancy test and the bleeding. Initially, when he heard about the positive test, his reaction was ‘That’s great!’, to which I said, “Did you hear the part about how I’m bleeding? And that it’s a lot?’ He said some women bleed throughout their pregnancy and have healthy babies, so I could just be one of them. I asked if it could be ectopic and he said that it was way too early for that. I started to get a little upset and asked if I was miscarrying. He kind of shrugged and looked at me and said, ‘If you are, there isn’t anything anyone can do about it.’ I was incredibly annoyed at the time, as this is not the response I wanted (essentially I wanted him to fix it which I know isn’t rational). Before I walked out though, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘All you can do now is pray’.

I went next door to have my blood drawn by the nurse. As she drew my blood, she asked if it was my first pregnancy. I said it was, and that even as of this morning I’d had a positive test. She asked about the bleeding and how much there was. I told her I often had to use something besides a panty-liner. When she asked if it was bright red and I confirmed it was, she shook her head a little bit, sadly. Once the blood was drawn, she said they’d call me this afternoon with the results and I was on my way to school.

I left feeling frustrated, sad, and knowing that I had no control over what was going to happen next. It’s no secret how much I hate feeling out of control and this was worse than not being able to control what the medicine and whatever did to my body. I couldn’t control what was going to happen to my baby. It was either going to stay or it wasn’t. As I walked down the sidewalk to my building, I did something I rarely do–I prayed. I asked for the baby to be spared, but if that wasn’t possible, for it to be welcomed by my grandparents and uncle who have already passed on. I’m not a very religious person and often struggle with what I believe in, but in a perfect scenario, I’d like to think everyone is up there together.

I waited all afternoon and finally at 2:15 they called. It was the same nurse who drew my blood. She said she had good news but bad news. I was indeed pregnant, but my levels (I’m guessing progesterone) were too low to indicate that this was a viable pregnancy. I was likely miscarrying or would fully miscarry this weekend. I have to go in on Monday for more blood work to confirm the levels drop. She said she didn’t want me to get my hopes up as everything was indicating this wasn’t going to stay. After Monday, I’ll meet with my doctor again to discuss the next steps.

I got off the phone and cried. I cried for a ball of cells that I’ll never meet. That will never get to experience life. I cried because I’m so sad for that little ball and the person it won’t get to be. I’m sad thinking of that ultrasound picture hanging on the refrigerator of our apartment, showing our hope for our little embryo. I’m sad for my husband who is trying to be strong throughout all of this for me, but who I know is going to be devastated. I’m sad for all the people who were excited for us and also hopeful for this little embryo. I’m sad for me. I’m just sad. My level of sadness has even surprised me, as I don’t think I even realized just how much hope and love I had for that embryo the day that it was put inside of me until I was being told I would likely never get to meet it. You can’t prepare for something like this, even as early as it happened, and I’m not.

We aren’t going to Munich tonight. We decided before we knew officially that it was just too much. My brother will be in Paris next weekend, so we are hoping to go there for a day to see them again. In the meantime, I think J and I will lay low and support each other through this uncharted territory for us. I’ll continue to hope our little guy is surrounded by loved ones somewhere up above.

Any positive thoughts you can send our way would be much appreciated.

Until Monday…..

The In-Between

I wrote yesterday about the transfer and how I was feeling. Well, I tested yesterday and had a very faint positive. I was really surprised when I saw it, as like I mentioned, I wasn’t feeling any different than normal. I knew it was about as early as I could possibly get a positive, so that likely explained the lack of symptoms.

Then the evening hit.

I went to the restroom in the early evening. All day I had that feeling I’d get before a period starts. You just can almost feel it coming on, and that’s how I felt, but I had this positive test, so I really didn’t know what to make of it all. When I went to the restroom, I noticed there was a lot of pinky-brown on the toilet paper. It looked exactly how spotting looks before I start my period. I was a little concerned and again, wasn’t sure what to make of it. I texted my sister, who said it could be implantation bleeding and unless it turned bright red, I shouldn’t be too concerned. I went to the grocery store with J, and was in the middle of unpacking and getting dinner ready when I felt a gush from down below. That felt really familiar and I ran off to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down, I saw the blood. Not just a few spots, but a full on gush. It was bright red when I wiped. By now, I was also having cramping that was starting to get worse. I started crying immediately.

I hadn’t told J about the positive test because I was waiting for Monday’s blood test to confirm it officially before I did. Instead, I came out of the bathroom crying, causing him to jump up in concern. I told him I’d had a positive test but now I was bleeding bright red and didn’t know what that meant. I could tell he really had no idea what to do, plus this was the first he was hearing of a positive test. I imagine it was a lot to take in. I texted my sister, who said to monitor it and call my doctor the next day. The bleeding continued throughout the evening, although mainly when I used the restroom. My stomach was also really upset and I was having pretty intense cramps. I ended up taking painkillers to try to help with them. My mom called and I told her I was bleeding and again, I could tell she didn’t know what to think either. What is there to say? No one knows what’s going on, so you want to be optimistic but also, the signs aren’t good. I slept terribly last night, waking up every couple of hours, which didn’t help any, as I’m not someone who does well without sleep.

I woke up this morning and used the restroom where it was still red. I’d hoped maybe it would stop overnight, but that didn’t seem to be the case. By the time I got to school, I had had enough ‘gushes’ that I was concerned I was going to bleed through my pants. I don’t know if you’re supposed to use tampons during a time like this, but it’s all I had, and it was that or have a very obvious stain. I called my doctor’s office and they have me coming in tomorrow morning. I don’t think he was at the hospital today so I couldn’t see him any sooner. I’m still bleeding, it’s still red, my stomach is still upset, I have pretty bad cramps, and now a headache, but that could be due to lack of sleep and crying. I did test this morning, and it’s a stronger positive than yesterday, so I’m really not sure what to make of it. I’ve read that ectopic pregnancies are more common in IVF so I am wondering if that’s possibly what’s happening. I won’t know anything new until tomorrow, but my gut isn’t feeling too good right now. I’m trying to stay positive because you just never know. Maybe this embryo is stronger than I give it credit for. Maybe my body just doesn’t know what to do with a pregnancy. I’ll know soon enough.

To be continued….

Transfer Day

I transferred a ‘beautiful’ embryo on Friday, so said the embryologist. I wanted to write it up after it happened, but as it was, my mind was so scattered at work knowing it was coming up, I left my computer charger at school and then spent the weekend in Cinque Terre, Italy, so it didn’t get done (I know, how unfortunate that I spent the weekend in Italy rather than writing up a blog post. Do feel sorry for me). As of now, I’m currently five days past a five day transfer.

On Friday, I went to school without any idea of when I’d be leaving to head to the hospital. Almost exactly at 9:00am, the embryologist called to tell me that they had thawed said beautiful embryo and that I still had two more in the freezer. This already exceeded my expectations as I’d been worried about the survival rate of the embryos during thaw. She said I should be there at 10:00am, which was much earlier than I’d expected. I wanted to finish my morning classes, which went til 10:00am, before I went to the hospital. Obviously, when you’re transferring your possible future child, the priority should definitely be finishing up your classes. After I squawked about the earliness of being there, she said as long as I was there by 11:00, we were good to go. That was perfect, and everyone stayed happy (meaning me). I texted Trish, my friend at work who would be driving me over that we needed to leave at 10:00am, and that was that. Unfortunately, J wasn’t able to come as he is in intensive Dutch classes right now. His final exam is Wednesday, and he was already going to miss class on Monday due to us being in Italy, so he really couldn’t afford to miss two classes. I wish he had been there as it’s definitely a big step for us, but life happens that way sometimes.

Trish and I ran out of school right at 10:00am. Belgium is notorious for having awful traffic, but the traffic gods smiled down on us and we arrived at UZA, the hospital, in great time. I was pretty calm on the outside but inside I was so nervous. Also, they like you to have a full bladder for transfer, so I already had to pee pretty badly as we walked in which isn’t the most comfortable. I’m really glad I had Trish with me, because UZA was way more daunting than my regular hospital and I had no idea where to go. Even when we got to the fertility desk, they sent me to a different waiting room and the directions were literally ‘Go down the hall until you see another hallway to take a left on and go down there and wait’. There are a lot of ‘other’ hallways, so we went down the first one, didn’t see anything that looked like it would be for an embryo transfer and finally had to flag a worker down. We ended up being in the right spot, but it wasn’t the clearest. At that point my heart had moved into full on race mode as I realised this was about to GO DOWN.

There were only a few people in front of me, so I didn’t have to wait too long before being called in. This is where the transfer gets really fun. I thought I had lost all my dignity throughout this process, as I’ve shown my vagina to more people than I ever thought I would in my lifetime, but it turns out there is always room for further embarrassment.

The nurse took me to my room and told me I could strip from the waist down. As she’s instructing me to undress, a male medical student pops in and asks if it would be alright if he observed the transfer. See the above statement about everyone having seen my vagina at this point, so I shrugged, said ‘why not?’, and started to strip. No reason not to make this a party. They gave me a few minutes alone to undress, and as I sat on the chair bare-assed, the nurse came in and out a few times, which was when I learned that fully closing the door was optional in situations like these. Again, at this point, what difference does it really make? At one point, she asked me if I’d like a towel to cover my legs, which is nearly unheard of in Belgium, and I happily agreed to take one. How wonderful it would be if I’d get to cover up after all! My nerves subsided a little as she reached up to grab my towel. Then she handed me the equivalent of a tea towel and all hope was lost again. I laid the slightly-larger-than-a-washcloth fabric across my legs and pretended that it covered anything up while I continued to wait for the full group to come in and put this embryo all up in me.

The doctor came in, followed by the kind towel nurse, and the dude who asked to observe. The nurse asked me to put my feet into the contraption I was sitting on–they were more like pedals than stirrups. I didn’t love it, but this isn’t my first time putting my feet up, so up they went. On either side of the chair were rounded handles. Once my feet were on the pedals, the nurse asked me to open my knees so that each knee touched the rounded handle on either side. Honest to God, that was the widest I have EVER had to open my legs in this whole process. There was extreme full exposure happening to this room of strangers. Naturally I made a comment about how much fun I was having, and the nurse was good natured enough to start laughing. While spread-eagled, my small comfort of a washcloth was taken away so they could put the gel on my stomach for the ultrasound. I’m laying there when a part of the wall slides open, and in pops the head of the embryologist. She tells me about the embryo they are putting in, it’s beautifulness again (leading J to immediately ask if they knew if it was a girl and that’s why they kept calling it beautiful when I texted him afterwards), and that I still had the two others in the freezer. It was very similar to the phone conversation, the only difference being that I could actually see the embryologist lab and where the embryos were stored, which was pretty cool, and that I was in the midst of flashing a room of strangers. It would have been cooler if that conversation could have been had while my legs were still down, but who am I to question the process. The doctor put a speculum into me, which did not help my full bladder at all, and squirted liquid to clean out my uterus before the transfer. They told me as the embryologist passed the catheter through the sliding window, and I could watch it go in on the ultrasound, and then as the liquid with the embryo was inserted. The embryologist checked the catheter to make sure the embryo had been inserted and wasn’t still in it, and once she gave the clear, the speculum was removed. A couple paper towels were handed to me to clean off my tummy, and I was allowed to put my legs down and redress  again (hallelujah). They gave me a print out of the embryo in fluid in my uterus and very kindly allowed me to use their restroom before I urinated all over the floor. All in all, the actual transfer took minutes. The time I spent on display was nearly 10 minutes. The things we do for our (potential) children.

I walked out and Trish got a few pictures. We were in the hospital less than an hour total. I thought it would take way longer. I’d already said I wasn’t coming back to work that day, so we decided to get lunch. In the support groups I’m in, lots of women get McDonald’s french fries after a transfer. That hadn’t been my plan, but I told Trish about as we were leaving, and we decided we should do it just for fun if nothing else. We stopped off at a Mickey D’s, got lunch and split an order of fries before I was dropped off at home. I spent the day alternating between cleaning to get ready for Italy and laying on the couch. It’s not everyday you’re encouraged to eat fries and lay on the couch. All in all, certainly not a bad Friday!

When we went to Italy, it was wonderful to be with my brother and sister-in-law and also helped pass 3 days quickly. I’m really lucky to have such a supportive family. My sister sent workout clothes because I’ve called her upset about the weight I’ve put on in this process. She also framed a wedding picture for us, as well as got us prints of more wedding pictures that we could frame. We just celebrated our year anniversary and she knows I’ve still never printed photos of our wedding or put them in nice frames (we didn’t love our photographer) so it was really great that she thought to do that. My mom gave my brother money to make sure J and I had nice dinners while were on ‘vacation’. It made me feel so loved to have all that support and know that no matter what happens, they’re all behind me.

My first beta blood draw is on Monday. I’ve told myself I won’t test beforehand, but I’ve never had such an urge to test as I have the last few days. I don’t feel any different, which makes me wonder if it worked, but it’s also super early. I just keep thinking, ‘Am I pregnant?!?!’ all day. I’ll probably cave before Friday, as we leave for Munich this weekend.

Fingers crossed!

t2
Before heading in for the transfer. I’m a very mature future possible mother.
t3
Heading in to my room with the kind nurse who gave me the tea towel to cover up with.
t4
And just like that, the transfer is complete!
t6
My first picture with the embryo, crazy eyes and arched eyebrow included.
t1
McDonald’s for the win.