My Preconceived Life

trying to add another person to the planet

Other People’s Pain

One of my husband’s colleagues is in town for a conference, and last night he came over for dinner. We were having a normal kind of chat; you know, sex, politics, religion. Then the colleague asked if the station wagon in the driveway was mine. When we told him it was my husband’s, he looked confused. “I thought you had a boxster or something,” he said. We explained how I’d forced the hubs to trade in his sporty car for a dad mobile and the colleague laughed. He said the car he really wants only has two doors, and his wife won’t let him get it because they are trying to have kids.

I began salivating emotionally, like a lion who smells a wounded wildebeest.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t know the colleague was wounded. I only knew that he mentioned my favorite (or least favorite, or at least most consuming) subject of the last few years: trying to make another human being. The conversation was moving too quickly for me to zero in, so I waited until the next time my husband went to the kitchen before I pounced.

“So,” I said, you guys are trying to have kids?” My eyes were shining with enthusiasm. That’s so great! I wanted to say. That’s so exciting! I was so proud of myself. Finally, for the first time, I could be happy that someone was trying. Look at me not shying away from the subject! Look at me being NORMAL!

“Yeah,” he said, and he hesitated. Still I somehow suspected nothing. “We actually had our first setback recently. D was 16 weeks. It happened about 3 weeks ago.”

And all of a sudden I was the person I never want to be, the person I have come across so many times–the one poking directly into someone’s deepest wound. Fishing around for scraps of bone, breaking scabs, draining blood.

“Oh God,” I said. “I am so sorry.”

He was open to talking about it, a little. But as I was trying to listen and nod empathetically, I could only thing one thing: I’ll be 16 weeks on Thursday. 

What happened? I wanted to ask. Actually, I wanted to scream it hysterically. What happened? What went wrong?? What were the signs??? What should I look for???? What can I do?????

And: This isn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to be past the point of danger. am supposed to be past the point of danger.

I was quick to tell the colleague our story: the losses, the years, the IVFs. I wanted him to know we weren’t just regular, fertile assholes. I wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone.

He said with a grimace, deep lines around his tired eyes, “Everyone has something.”

And I realized that he was alone, in the way we are all alone. In the way that our universal pain is always tinged with a personal flavor. Loss is loss. And our losses are our losses. It knits us together and keeps us apart.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts we can give another person is their suffering–without trying to fix it or make it go away.

Maybe it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

Gratitude

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, and well-wishes. It’s been a tough weekend with a lot of tears. I am anxious to go in tomorrow, hoping like crazy that baby A is still going strong. I imagine I will feel like this every second until s/he is in my arms. 

The support of this community means so much to me. I know a few people in person who have been through infertility, but they are all on the other side. Their children are happy, healthy elementary school students or teenagers. Most of the parents hardly remember all the rigamarole involved in their conception. It is nice to think that time may heal these present wounds. That there a chance the pain will fade enough to enjoy parenthood. But I hope I never forget this particular type of wanting. I hope that I can help others, if they find themselves in these cold, dark woods. 

Each one of you who reached out over the past few days has been a guidepost to a warmer, safer place. I may not be out of the woods yet, but I think I am on my way home.

Thank you.

Vanishing

I’m not really sure which blog to post this on, so I’ll probably just post to both. Today I found out that one of the twins has stopped growing, and his/her heartbeat is slowing. We were warned that this was a possibility (about 50%, my doc said), but I figured that having two genetically tested embryos growing in there meant that we would have two babies. I figured that everything I have been through meant that I deserved two babies. Certainly I would be exempt from further loss.

At this point, I give myself a gentle smile.

I know better than that. There is no limit to the amount of suffering we will experience in our lives. I am grateful that one twin remains and looks healthy. I am worried, of course, that I will lose him/her too. I am still trying to process that I am losing one of the lives inside of me. Still trying to figure out how to grieve. Still trying to understand that there is nothing I can do.

There is nothing I can do? It seems impossible to have so little control over something so intimately connected with my body.

And yet. 

I don’t know how to end this post, except to say that thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Right now we feel a little hopeless and broken.

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and I’ve decided I won’t continue blogging on this site unless it is specifically about infertility. I don’t want people to feel they have to unfollow because of continued pregnancy news, and I’d like to have a space and community to turn to if (God forbid), this doesn’t end up being the end of our IF journey. So, from now on I will be blogging at http://mypostconceivedlife.wordpress.com. Follow me if you would like! 

xoxo

This is Wanting

Second beta was good: my hCG doubled and my progesterone rose. My estrogen went down, of course, so I am now taking every hormone supplement known to man. I will go back in on Wednesday to make sure the estrogen and progesterone are where they need to be. Assuming all goes well, I am just waiting for my 6 week ultrasound.

I realized this weekend that I’ve all but stopped my spiritual practice. I’m still doing guided meditation, though I’m using a CD provided by the fertility clinic. A little sip of secular mindfulness with a focus on the glowing, healing light of my uterus. It feels kind of like cheating, but I’m betting Buddha would approve. I always picture him as non-judgmental with a great sense of humor. I always picture him as the 14th Dalai Lama. 

Here’s the thing: it’s not like I’ve even tried my usual type of meditation (pretty much straight-up-emtpy-minded-Zen). I think part of me is worried about what will come crashing through the jungle of my mind. Which is funny, because the whole point of meditation is to let that monster lumber, to take a step back and give it compassion. 

I can do that in small doses. On the way to the transfer, the blank canvas of hard, bright Colorado snow unrolling alongside the car windows, I was overwhelmed by fear. It washed over me in stomach lurching waves. Jesus fuck, I thought. I need that Valium NOW.  But then it came to me like a flash of sun through breaking clouds: This is wanting. 

That has been my mantra over the last two weeks, when the worry prickles my skin and I am sure that I will lose this baby. That I will lose everything.

This is wanting.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting. It is not good or bad, it just is. If I do not get what I want, I grieve.  When I lose what I have, I grieve. 

It is normal to fear pain. It is also important to remember that there is nothing I can do about this fear. I cannot stop this wanting. I also cannot will a child into being with this want. If I could do that, I wouldn’t be here, blogging about this aching journey.

So I will give myself credit today, for letting the monster stomp around this page. And maybe tomorrow I will sit with it silently. Or maybe I will put in my headphones and let a voice guide me through. 

Holding My Breath

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot has happened, and I’ve just been trying to take it one step at a time.

Turned out that of our 8 embryos, only one made it to blast. I was pretty upset. Four of those were the best looking day 3 embryos we’d ever had–I was sure we’d get at least three. We biopsied the two blasts we already had and the additional one. The wait was excruciating. Hubs and I started talking about adoption and donor eggs. If none were genetically viable, we were ready to move on. We were surprised and delighted to hear that two were chromosomally normal! (The third was trisomy 19). We set the date to transfer both of them.

We headed to Denver the first week of February for the transfer. I was a nervous/excited wreck. It was great to know that I could make a couple of genetically viable blasts (even though it took two retrievals and nearly 50 eggs), but would they implant? Could I support a pregnancy? We transferred the embryos on 2/4 and I settled in for two days of bed rest with a stack of magazines and an iPod full of guided meditation.

24 hours after transfer I felt it. At least I thought I did. I had a cramp in my uterus and my breasts started to get sore. I was 90 percent sure I was pregnant.

Which didn’t stop me from obsessing over the next 9 days.

My first beta was yesterday: 337.

I was thrilled, overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. For about an hour. Then I started freaking out. My progesterone had plummeted (from 50 before transfer to 8.6). This is right where I was a year and a half ago: when my second beta showed that something was wrong.

Now, to be fair, those were different circumstances. The embryos hadn’t been genetically tested. My uterus and my left fallopian tube were full of scar tissue (though we didn’t know it at the time), and our poor little guy was ectopic. And my beta was only 50. But I know I won’t breathe again until I get good news tomorrow. 

God, please let us get good news tomorrow. Please let this be our baby. (Babies??)

Consolation

If I don’t have a baby this year I can:

1) Go to Paris

2) Ride my bike across England

3) Buy this adorable dress

4) Continue taking Melatonin to help me sleep

5) Get another tattoo

6) Do Pilates

That’s all I’ve come up with so far, but the list is ongoing.

On January 3rd, our eight day 3 embryos were thawed in an attempt to grow as many as possible to blast. Four of them were growing normally at the time of freezing, and four were not.  Any blasts will be biopsied for PGD along with our two current blasts. I won’t get the results for a couple of weeks, but I should (hopefully) know tomorrow how many blasts we’ve ended up with.

Of course I am terrified that we will have none. Or that all of them will be genetically abnormal. Or that only one or two will be viable but will not implant. There is nothing I can do about any of this. It is completely out of my control.

And so I make a list. I make a plan. If the worst case scenario becomes the reality, I will have a map to follow. I’ll have something else to do in addition to grieving. It pales in comparison, but hey, some of that stuff sounds pretty fun, too.

Am I the only one who does this? What do you guys have on your lists?