A Light in the Dark

A year ago this month we lost our first pregnancy.

This is a strange time of year for me, because of it. I was thinking the other day about how I really need to rake the leaves in the backyard and then I remembered, Oh! I was raking leaves the day before I started to bleed.

I had known it was coming – my hCG had dropped to 7 at my Thursday morning blood draw and the nurse told me it was a matter of days, if not hours. I took that Friday off from work and did chores all day, desperate for something to do, desperate for something to break through the heavy numbness that had washed over my body, and then sickly horrified when the next day something did.

That Friday when I got back from the grocery store, I headed out back and slowly, carefully raked the rotting yellow leaves into piles. As I raked, my thoughts skittered around in sharp jerks. I thought about those monks that created meticulous sand gardens only to destroy them. This thought was both strangely comforting and vaguely irritating. I thought about ladies in Victorian novels that were always dying of a broken heart. Previously this had seemed like a slightly pathetic yet amusing literary technique, and my know-it-all 10 year old self was smugly sure this wasn’t an actual, medical possibility. Now I questioned that former certainty. I thought about death. Would it hurt to die? Probably, I thought with detachment, it depended on how you died, but I wondered if your body reached a certain point and no longer felt anything? I hoped my baby wasn’t feeling anything. I hoped my baby was already dead, and my body was able to comfort it before it left, in the only home it ever knew. I wondered if a miscarriage would hurt, even one this early. I wondered if there would be anything to see. Would “it” come out resembling anything? Or would it just look like a period? It was awfully small, I thought, doubtfully.

Interspersed between these thoughts I was chanting over and over to myself. With each stroke of the rake I thought, “I’m sorry, baby. Mommy loves you. Mama loves you. I hope you’re not in pain. We’re so sorry. We couldn’t keep you. We couldn’t save you. I’m so sorry. I hope you’re not in pain. I love you. I’m sorry.”

I didn’t cry at all that day. I’d cried so much in the days preceding it that my body felt like a dried up and brittle husk. Each gust of the November wind threatened to shatter me into a thousand pieces.

I woke up early Saturday morning and thought for a brief moment that I was dying. The pain in my abdomen was strange and intense, but the pain in my chest gripped me so hard I could barely breathe. There was a howling in my head that seemed to echo around and around in my body.

I woke Tammy up at 5 and asked her to draw me a bath. My brain was only working in short bursts, and I could only seem to think one step at a time. All my brain could do was signal to my body to get somewhere warm, and float. So I did. The pain was coming in waves and I thought, how curious! I’m in the water, and the pain is like waves! My thoughts were stopped short by the realization of what those waves were. I lay there in the rapidly cooling water and thought, dully, “this is it.” I wasn’t bleeding yet, but I knew.

The howling and the waves of pain intensified as I stood up out of the now cold bath, and the first trickle of bright red blood ran down my leg. I watched it hit the tiled bathroom floor and said softly, “goodbye, sweet baby.”

Then I went back to bed.

Ahoy, you Dumb Ovaries!

It was definitely negative. The Hope Monster had crept back into my brain, telling me I was a late implanter! That was going to have a healthy pregnancy! With TWINS! but of course, I wasn’t, and I’m not.

Tammy and I spoke with the doctor this afternoon, and we have decided to move forward with IVF. As the doctor said, I should be pregnant by now and they aren’t sure why I’m not. She also told me I shouldn’t waste my money on another IUI cycle. Can’t get clearer than that.

As for the timing, she’s having to check to see if we can move ahead with this month, due to our committment April 25-26th. She does want to put me on birth control for 2-3 weeks, and 3 weeks might be pushing it, especially if my period decides to stay away for a few days. But IF my period starts by Wednesday, and IF she thinks less time on BC might be OK, we’re moving full steam ahead with IVF. Or, as my fertility nurse put it, “we’re going to really blast your eggs”. Blast away, matey!

Ship Battle

(Artistic rendering of my reproductive organs in a few weeks. Not to scale.)

The Negative, and the IVF Talk

My blood test came back, and it was, as we thought, negative.*

My RE doesn’t know this, but we’re leaving her. I’m incredibly conflicted about that decision, but it’s something Tammy’s been advocating for, and it’s not like a second opinion is ever a bad thing.**

The reason that’s relevant is that after giving me the bad news, the doctor asked what we were thinking in terms of next steps, and that was awkward, because, again, very shortly I will no longer be her patient. So, I acted all cagey (and I’m sure weird) and  asked what her recommendations were. She said we have the following options:

  1. Continue with 1 or 2 more Clomid IUIs
  2. Upgrade to IUI with injectables
  3. IVF

There are pros and cons to all of them, everything from the cost (which is obviously a huge factor) to the success rates. What we’re doing now costs in the ballpark of $2,000, – $2,500 a try. IUI with stims would be in the range of 5k, and IVF is around 15k. BUT, IVF would give us the greatest success rate (close to a 50% chance per try) while our current method is only in the 15-20% chance of success range, and clearly it’s not working all that well. The doctor wasn’t sure that doing IUI with stims would increase our chances all that much, but would almost double the cost.

Is it worth it to try a few more rounds on our current level, or should we take the plunge and move toward IVF? I’m hoping that the new doctor will either be able to tell us something new, or have other options/suggestions for us. After 8 rounds, 25 thousand dollars, and no baby, I think we need a re-set.

In other, non-lack-of-baby news, my parents were visiting for the past few days. They’ve been out of the country for the past few months, and it was incredibly good to see them.

*Weirdly to me, my HCG wasn’t 0, but 1.1. Maybe that explains the eeevvver so faint positive (like, almost not there positive) that I got 12 days past ovulation? Does this mean that I was briefly pregnant? I wish I could have asked the doctor some questions, but I work in a cubicle, and she always calls when I’m at work. Obviously, this means I either need a pay (and office) upgrade, or I need to quit working and be a housewife. The housewife option is extremely tempting, but then how would we afford all those delightful injections?

**Unrelated but annoying note: they’re charging us to make a copy of my medical file, which we need for the the new clinic. It’s a $25 fee, plus 50 cents a page. What the actual fuck. You’ve already gotten 25k out of us, you don’t think you could throw in some free copies? C’mon now.