Kindness

My husband is a true man’s man. He flies airplanes for a living, hunts, loves to fish, has a woodworking shop in our garage, and enjoys a nice glass of scotch. He’s never been one to get emotional with people, especially strangers. 

I’ve noticed his attitude changing throughout our journey to start our family and even more so now that we’re weeks away from meeting baby. I guess I overlook it sometimes, but he’s experienced all of the ups and downs of trying to conceive too. Although his part was physically easier, he has been just as emotionally invested in this process as I have. 

Recently he was in Dallas for a week of recurrent training on his airplane. He is assigned a random partner to fly with in the simulator. After the introductions and small talk, my husband found out his simulator partner has two adopted children after years of trying to conceive. 

My husband shared our journey with him too. Like his sim partner, we have unexplained infertility and have experienced miscarriage. We feel incredibly lucky for the amazing doctors and technology that helped us start our family. 

As my husband wrapped up his training his partner gave my husband a card from him and his wife. It was a kind gesture to let us know they were rooting for us. They also gave us a gift card to buy a gift for the baby. 

As my husband told me this story I teared up. It’s amazing how there are people in the world you are meant to meet. I also appreciate the strong bond you instantly form with another couple who has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility. It’s such an isolating experience, but we instantly just get each other. 

It reminded me why I share our story. There are so many of us who have walked this road or are still trying to start a family whether through medication, IUI, IVF, surrogacy, foster care, or adoption.  I plan on passing along the kindness to the next couple I meet that knows this journey too. 

Adventures in your twenties

I’m sure you’ve seen those articles friends posted on facebook. Those articles about how settling down in your twenties is lame. And how the only way to live is to have careless adventures around the world in your twenties to discover yourself. Women who get married in their twenties are selling themselves short. And partnering with the wrong man more often than not ending in divorce. Settling down is for your thirties. Or so those articles say…

I often read those articles and laugh. And I want to scream at the top of my lungs that women can have both. If I’ve learned anything in my twenty six (almost twenty seven) years on this Earth, it’s that women can do it all. And then some.

I like to say I grew up as a modern day nomad. In other words, I’m the daughter of a Marine. I attended 10 different schools on three different continents all before my senior year of high school. In college, I had wanderlust… bad. So I studied abroad twice, once to Thailand and then a longer stint teaching abroad in Western Australia. All the while my husband (boyfriend at the time) supported me stateside and waited patiently for me to return home. I thought at the time that these were the defining moments on my young adult years. What an adventure!

A few years later after getting married, and deciding to start our family, we were faced with a miscarriage followed by years of infertility. As much as I’d like to say my time spent traveling the world living among different cultures defined my twenties, it didn’t. My journey through infertility has.

I don’t have to explain how infertility shakes a person to the core, because most women reading this know exactly what I mean. I am far from the woman I was three years ago. I’m a hell of a lot stronger. And more self assured. I know the strength of my mind and body. I have a tested but powerful relationship with my husband. I know true friendship and have felt the greatest love from people around us. I have felt the deepest heartache after our loss and hope to feel the greatest joy when I finally hold our child. After the past three years, I know I can endure anything. I know myself, through and through. And I have learned to love myself, exactly as I am.

So I guess what I want to write to those stupid articles I see plastered all over social media pandering to women in their twenties is: don’t judge. Some women may need adventures around the world or frivolous time periods to grow up and mature. Don’t think a married twenty something, or a women with a baby on her hip, is just living the status quo. There are so many women out there who have experienced extraordinary things. There’s a story and strength inside of every woman. Just ask.

Moving in the right direction

Literally. I don’t understand the science behind it, but thankfully our baby is sitting nicely inside of my uterus versus teetering around the opening of my left fallopian tube. 

Yesterday I went to the women’s hospital for a 3D ultrasound. My husband came with me and we both sat in awe at the monitor on the wall that showed an in depth view of my uterus. Setting the insane anxiety aside, it was really neat to see the inside of my uterus in 3D. 

We were very tense as we sat watching the screen. I had the lead tech and a second women making sure my images were correct. Then they both left to get the supervisor and told me to not get dressed. I was freaked! The supervisor came in, viewed my images, and told the tech “you can tell them.”

She told us she viewed my ultrasound images from last Thursday and the gestational sac was waaaay high. But today, it was right where it should be. 

Then she zoomed in to the tiny embryo so we could see the heartbeat. She told me to hold my breath (which I wasn’t breathing anyways!!) and she recorded the heartbeat to send to my doctor. 

We’re still high risk. My doctor likes these images a lot more than my last ultrasound but she wants us to go for one more 3D scan on Monday just to triple check everything. I really appreciate how thorough she is and her efforts to reassure us. So we’re hopeful.

Dreams

I had the most vivid dream last night. I dreamed that we were in the hospital and I was holding our baby boy. My husband and I sat together on the hospital bed staring at our son. His face was so real. He was the perfect combination of my husband and myself. All of the nurses were in awe at how calm and happy he was. We decided to name him Walter, but called him Walt for short. 

Then I woke up. 

And I remembered that tomorrow is our big appointment. I pray our baby has moved, even by millimeters, into a safer position. I pray we find a heartbeat tomorrow. I pray that our baby has a chance to grow and live. 

Even if we get good news tomorrow I realize we have a long road ahead of us. I have an increased risk of miscarriage and uterine rupture. I know there will be weekly appointments. I’m terrified. I’m basically spending the weekend curled up on the couch isolating myself from everyone. 

All the excitement of our long awaited positive has disappeared. I’m still avoiding all things baby. I refuse to take any photos or document this pregnancy in any way. I’m even having a hard time looking at our ultrasound picture hanging on our fridge. 

I thought the hardest part was behind us. But I’m realizing that we’re still living in it. 

If things go wrong

Yesterday was my first ultrasound. The tech said everything looked ok, printed me a picture to share with my husband, and said the doctor would call to follow up. I left feeling good. 

Today I got the follow up. And it’s not good. 

She said they are worried with how high the pregnancy implanted. She told me it was very high in my uterus close to my left fallopian  tube. She used the term “possible cornual pregnancy.” I think she sensed the nerves on the other end of the phone and tried reassuring me that 9 times out of 10 the pregnancy would correct itself and grow out into the uterus versus rupturing. But she said it was important that they followed it closely. 

Instead of doing my next ultrasound in the office they referred me to the imaging department at the women’s hospital. Initially I made the appointment for September 9th but the nurse called me back and said my doctor took a second look at my last ultrasound and recommended I go back this Monday (Aug. 31). She used her doctor authority to get me in. None of this makes me feel reassured. I guess if things go wrong, they go wrong fast. 

I’m trying not to google too many things. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. Just pray. 

16dpiui beta

459!

I had a mild panic attack this morning where I imagined the nurse telling me my numbers were dropping and the worst would happen. But I’m very happy with our number.

I’ll go for one more beta check on Monday and then our first ultrasound next Thursday. Appointments are becoming a little tricky because next week is my first week back at school. I’m hoping my new principal is accommodating and won’t mind if I take a late lunch to go to my doctor’s office.

Every phone call with positive results is a little less stress taken off my shoulders. That anxiety won’t disappear until I’m holding our baby in my arms.

Beta #1

14dpiui beta number was 116!

I’ll go back in Thursday for my second check.  

I’ve been a nervous wreck since we found out. We finally told our families last night. I just needed a few days to let it sink in. Having miscarried before, I’m terrified of everything! I don’t want to get my hopes up or everyone around us.

So far I’ve been having some mild cramping and a feelings of pressure. They are different than period cramps so I’m trying not to worry. I’ve also noticed a dull ache on my left side which I’m hoping is a residual cyst instead of all the terrifying alternatives. 

Besides that, I’ve been more tired (because I’m not sleeping well at night!), really thirsty, and the girls are pretty tender. 

As the nurse told me today, just relax, come back Thursday, and we’ll go from there. 

10dpiui BFP

I wrote this post yesterday. It took me a full day for it to sink in and start to believe I’m pregnant!

This afternoon something told me to take a test. A gut feeling. I’m 10 days past my first IUI. I’ve been more tired than usual. I’ve noticed some changes with the girls. And I’m extremely thirsty! (which was the biggest thing I noticed with my first pregnancy) 

So I used one of my cheapie tests, set it on the bathroom counter, and walked away. I actually watched an entire lifetime movie before remembering I peed on a stick! I figured it was another negative to toss in the trash.

When I went upstairs to check it, I was shocked to see a faint second line! So I peed on another. And another. And they all had faint second lines. Eeeeeekk! 

My husband was flying in NY so I decided I wanted to surprise him when he got home. Earlier in the day I went to a Scholastic warehouse sale to stock up on books for my classroom. I decided to go to Barmes and Noble and pick up some pregnancy books. I put the expectant father book in my bag of classroom books.

As it turns out, this was the night my husband decided to dink around at the airport for an additional hour. “Be home by 9” turned into “maybe by 10.” The anticipation was killing me!! 

Finally on his way home he called me. Within minutes he asked if we should make a target run for a test. I shut him down. Then he started talking about having a beer, which he gave up this past month to help with the TTC process. I told him no and tried to change the subject. I wanted to just scream at him to get home but I had to laugh it off and play cool.

When he finally got home I told him about my day and that I found some books for my classroom. On cue, he asked if I found any for him. I told him as a matter of fact I did! He was excited at the thought of an airplane book. 

He opened the bag and started rummaging through. Finally he pulled out the expectant father book. He said, “Oh.” Then it clicked. “Oooohhhhhhhhh!!!!” I put the positive test inside the cover. He studied it and said, “there’s a second line! Does that mean…?” And we hugged. And cried. I wish I could live in this moment forever. 

We are cautiously optimistic because of the outcome of our previous pregnancy. But no matter what, I’m going to enjoy every single day as it comes. That’s all I can do. 

I’m waiting on pins and needles until Monday and will schedule my first beta check. I’m hoping this is it for us… I’ll just take it one day at a time. 

Seeing infertility everywhere…

I’m in a book club. It’s part of my pilot wives support group online. We all can get pretty lonely at times when our partner’s are gone for extended periods of time with little notice. So a book club is a harmless way to stay connected and busy.

A few months ago we read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. If you plan on reading the book, skip this paragraph. If you have read the book, you know the main character Rachel is a divorced alcoholic whose husband left her after rounds of unsuccessful IVF and went on to impregnate his mistress. The book features complex characters with an interesting murder mystery story line. Every character is this book is flawed, much like real people. One of our book club questions was about the least favorite character. I read as the women in my group just tore apart Rachel for her lack of self respect and acts of helplessness. Yes, she messed up. A lot. She has some huge issues. But I didn’t feel the same way toward this character as the other women in my group. I empathized with her. I know that shitty feeling where you just don’t feel like you’re good enough. I know that empty feeling inside that Rachel described after not being able to conceive for years. She was broken. I know that feeling too. So I felt like I had to stick up for Rachel and that shut the conversation down.

Leaving-Time

This month we’re reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Again, another murder mystery this time entwined with elephant facts. Harmless, right? Spoiler alert. As I’m reading the book I’m noticing a theme of pregnancy loss, grief, and death of a child. Not exactly what I’m wanting to read at the moment but it was a compelling enough story for me to finish the book. This passage about an elephant who just delivered her still born calf stood out to me as I read next to my sleeping husband.

“If you are a mother, you must have someone to take care of. If that someone is taken from you, whether it is a newborn or an individual old enough to have offspring of its own, can you still call yourself a mother? Staring at Kagiso [the elephant], I realized that she hadn’t just lost her calf. She had lost herself…. Nature is a cruel bitch.” p199

I broke down and cried. These imaginary characters and story lines are starting to get to me. I can tell myself that they’re not real, but for too many women it is real! The book described how elephant grief was a communal process. All of the elephants in a heard would mourn the passing of one of their own. They stayed together. They made sure they were taking care of each other for however long the mourning process was going to be. And of course, elephants never forget.

The book club started discussing our grieving process versus an elephant’s. I immediately thought about pregnancy loss. The elephant who lost her calf was surrounded by all of the other elephants. They all touched the calf. They all bellowed out in pain together. The mother was never alone.

Then I think about pregnancy loss in our culture. Until recently, it was taboo to talk about. Women still don’t announce pregnancies until after the first trimester and the largest risk of miscarriage has passed. Is this to protect the women or everyone around her? Personally, I mourned my loss alone. I didn’t reach out. I didn’t tell anyone. I had all of those terrible feelings that come along with pregnancy loss that I tried to just shove away. I wanted to just move on. And I found that in order to truly move on, I had to talk about it and grieve. And even though I lost my child, I still feel like a mother. Everything I’m doing right now is for my child. That’s what keeps me going through procedure after procedure.

So now I feel like the crazy hormonal lady in my book club that sees infertility everywhere. And gets waaay to defensive about fictional characters, in this case, an elephant. I thought I’d just share a little piece of my brain today and two books worth avoiding if you don’t want to think about infertility and pregnancy loss.

Avoidance 

My husband very kindly warned me that we got a baby shower invite in the mail today. 

I wrote a few months ago how our friends told us about their pregnancy. It was a nice gesture telling us before announcing publicly, but still really hard to hear in person. Cue the cheesy fake smile. 

Honestly, we’ve been avoiding them since their announcement. I’m just not in a place to hear about all the joys of pregnancy and parenthood. Nevertheless, we’re still invitedto a  backyard baby-q to celebrate at the end of this month. 

Ideally it would have been nice to get a text heads up about the invitation. And it would have been ever better with an understanding that we may not want to attend in light of what we’re currently going through. 

But that’s in an ideal world where people understand the emotional nightmare of infertility. Not our reality right now. 

So now I feel stuck. The last baby shower I attended was pretty awkward. I held it together but I just felt so out of place. And I told myself that I wouldn’t make myself attend another one. 

I was recently having a conversation with my mom about our IUI. I told her I don’t like to think it worked because it makes it harder when things don’t work out for us. She started to chastise me about negative thinking but I interrupted her saying, “It’s my body and my experience. I can feel however the hell I want to!” And I’ve been really embracing that lately. 

I decided I don’t want to go. I can feel and act however the hell I want to right now! And I feel like I need to protect myself. 

How do you get out of baby related events? Half of me wants to educate our friends on why we won’t be attending (even though they know our circumstances right now). The other half just says to politely decline and send my gift.