Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bah Humbug


That's pretty much all. I have gone shopping and gotten some gifts for people but mostly ended up with more stuff for me (because I'm buying my happiness right now until I have a child). I was also ordering some stuff from Amazon and making my Christmas wish list and I found my old Amazon Wish list that I made so long ago with Patriots maternity shirts and little Patriots onesies and some ornaments that I would've used to announce my pregnant to my parents, if the timing ever lined up. Delete. Oh to be that fucking optimistic again.

Now the idea of a Christmas at my parents house with no kids, the first year without our family dog and with no good news to share, and with no husband as usual as he has to work holidays; it's enough to make me want to crawl under the covers and not come out until January. Although early January brings my 31st birthday and another depressing milestone without kids.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer and venting, I've actually been feeling pretty great and having a great time just not being consumed with IF/IVF for a bit but when it comes to the holiday season, I can't. And don't even get me started on the excessive family holiday posting on Facebook that has started already. How much can you honestly be enjoying taking your kid to see Santa if you're spending the whole time Facebooking about it? Like I said, Bah freaking Humbug.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Five Stages of Negative Beta Grief

As I'm sure you can infer from the title, I received word on Thursday afternoon that I am not pregnant. It is now Saturday and I'm just starting to feel that I can type this out without coming completely undone.

As I lay on the floor crying before Husband came home, I thought about how I would be able to get over the grief and move on in time to see anyone outside of the two of us. Being "in the closet" has plenty of advantages for us, but when grieving over the loss of something that wasn't actually yours or even real yet, it's hard to explain to anyone why or what you're grieving over. No one sends flowers or cards, there is no obituary, nothing to eulogize, and nothing to mourn for except for the loss of what you thought was meant to be.

The stages of grieving over a failed cycle have been different for me than the well known Kubler- Ross model*; it's really hard to "Deny" when a doctor tells you that you're not pregnant based on bloodwork done that morning. For me, the initial reaction was, "try to be strong until I get off the phone. Then I can cry," yet I hardly heard a word the nurse said because all I could feel was Devastation.

Does anger come next? I cannot speak for others but it's hard to be angry at anyone but myself, and yet anger did not come after Devastation.. For me, I was more angry as I was waiting and waiting for hours longer than they should have made me wait to take the call. I took my blood test at 6:10am and did not hear back from them until nearly 3pm, but once the phone rang there was no possible way anger could beat the anxiety that was then replaced by devastation. It's difficult for me to be angry when you're grieving something that never was. Anguish describes this time best.

It's impossible to bargain a negative beta. I suppose the argument can be made that it is also not reasonable to do so after a death, but I felt that I had done all of my infertility bargaining previous to the test results, "if I do this, I will be pregnant", "God, please please let me be pregnant, I'll never swear again." What can I offer up now? The test is done and nothing that I gave over in my bargains was accepted. No, anguish does not turn into bargaining, it turns into something much worse and uglier: Blame. 
On myself, on my RE, on my dogs for touching my stomach, on the random lady who bumped into me at the store, I'm extremely ashamed to concede that I felt tiny flashes of blame towards Husband but mostly I blame myself. I blame myself for the stress I put myself under, for taking the two weeks off of work, for going too fast up the stairs one day, for what I ate and didn't eat and for what I've done or haven't done in my life to cause karma to take her vicious vendetta against me now. 

Depression is a reoccurring theme throughout infertility. I'm not clinically depressed by any standard, but I do get down about all things babies and infertility. Disappointment is what I have been dealing with. Disappointment sounds like such a tame word compared with "devastation" or "anguish" but when you're thinking in terms of not being able to share happy news with loved ones, or with spending another holiday season without a baby in your belly, disappointment is a powerful stab that leaves it's mark. 

If we were mourning the death of a loved one, we would undoubtedly come to Accept our loss. Usually after the services and the body has been buried or ashes spread into the ocean, many people describe feeling a release or a calming acceptance that they've said goodbye and that their family or friend is laid to rest. Yet, to task me to accept that I am not pregnant? No. There is no acceptance that I can't have a baby after all my husband and I have put ourselves through for years and for this cycle alone. Crackheads and murderers have children; I cannot and will not accept that I cannot have a baby. Yes, this cycle failed, but I won't accept that, either. I want answers and I want a solution. There is also no "final " stage of mourning a failed cycle until the next cycle comes along and brings some hope. Until then, all things infertility and fertility related will make me Apathetic. Many women in the infertility world have said that it is extremely difficult to get excited when they are about to start a new cycle. The feeling of apathy comes from the grief that we've become so familiar with and have learned to brace ourselves for. Yes, hope will reappear and push me into another cycle, however, - call it self-preservation - with each negative test, a little piece of me breaks off and a fraction of the amount of hope I had last cycle is now taken over by apathy. 

* Otherwise known as the 5 stages of grief

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Two Week Wait

Those who have not been through the hell of a 2 week wait (aka "2WW in the infertility and TTC world) will not understand the agony of a woman waiting to take a pregnancy test (either by peeing on a stick or by blood test known as a "beta"). I'd heard the ladies on the infertility boards clucking about the wait but usually was so jealous that they even had gotten that far, I tended to ignore them completely. "Weak!" I thought. "Those girls are ridiculous! With their symptom spotting and their neurosis." Ahh to be blissfully ignorant once more.

Here is an insider tip for anyone just beginning to navigate the world of infertility: the "2WW" will turn you; it will change you into someone indiscernible from your current self, someone your current self may actually loathe. Having the two weeks off of work has not helped the situation at all. During the week it is just me, alone with my thoughts and with an endless ocean of internet knowledge and myth at my fingertips. Lucky for me, this week I am even without car because, wouldn't it fit for my husband's truck to break down this week? Not that I'd be going out much anyway, as going out in public has proven nerve wracking enough after a particular-run in with the masses of Red Sox fans fighting for World Series Championship gear last Wednesday (in all seriousness though, when you're in a crowded store and you're talking on your cell phone and bumping into people because of said-cell phone conversation, you're a fucking asshole).

A few other "anxieties" I've accrued over the past 8 days:

  • Sneezing/Coughing (can't I pop the embryos out? I mean, I know it's not supposedly possibly but what if it happened to me?)
  • Peeing too hard
  • Doing #2
  • Having strangers bump into me
  • Having strangers anywhere near me (why are people so dirty? What kind of animal sneezes into her hand in the year 2013? Use your damn elbow)
  • Having my dogs run/walk/sleep on my belly. All 10lbs combined of them cannot be good for development, right? 

The Embryo Transfer Experience

Only 2 great embryos available on the day of transfer (last Monday). There were a few that the RE said the lab would watch for one more day but he wasn't hopeful for any of them to make it to freeze. With no time to dwell on those and a ridiculously full bladder, I laid back and got ready for the 2 "great" embryos to become property of my uterus.

When we got to the clinic, I had downed a 23 oz of water. I always have to pee and think that my bladder must be abnormally small so I wasn't at all concerned. Well, joke was on me; the ultrasound tech took one look at the insides of my belly and said, "you're not full at all, you must be dehydrated." What? I am drinking water and peeing nonstop normally, but I assumed it was because I had just weaned myself off of the post- Egg Retrieval Gatorade and I'm sorry, I know it's good for you but there's just only so much of that stuff you can force down. So the US tech grabbed me a big gulp of water and left, taking the US machine with her.

Trying not to think about where the water came from, I gulped it down and husband and I had almost an hour of me, sitting on the table with my crotch up in the air and naked from the waste down. There was a *lot* of laughing in that hour, which was comforting because occasionally my husband can be a real pain in that ass when he's nervous but thankfully, today was not the day for that. Finally I had to make him stop making me laugh before I peed the table and we had to sit there another hour while my bladder re-filled. I sent him to alert everyone I was ready and within minutes the US tech, the RE and a nurse were in the room, standing around me with my feet in stirrups and everyone looking at or inside my most intimate parts.

Then came the fun part with the catheter: the first one was "too flimsy": repeat nightmare of HSG, thanks to my tilted uterus. Now, there was not much pain for me at all to feel the tiny catheter trying to make its way in, but when your bladder is so full it could burst at any second, and when you've anticipated this moment for years, it's going to cause some amount of pain. Commence new, stronger, catheter. It took a bit more wrestling, but finally made it in and we all watched with baited breath as the RE pushed the two embryos through (not that you can see the tiny things, but the flush of them looks like a shooting star across the US monitor). The RE made a joke about sending my husband to Home Depot if that catheter hadn't worked and I let out a nervous laugh. Then everyone left us for our ten minutes of me laying there and husband making me laugh. Just when I thought I couldn't take the pressure of the full bladder anymore, a timer sounded outside the door and the nurse came in to release me.

Husband was in rare form and told me to "not push any pee out". I was in too much pain at that point to even try to pee, but it came and I felt infinitely better but I was extremely sore and crampy for the rest of the day, which I had not expected at all (I'm still assuming it's from the poking of the catheter). Once we got home, Husband was extremely attentive, almost too much so, to the point where he got upset that I picked up our 4.8lb chihuahua when I walked in the door. The rest of the day is kind of a blur. I know that I ate a roast beef sandwich and tried to sleep but was extremely uncomfortable and that night felt extremely light-headed to the point that it brought me to tears (although I'm sure a lot of the tears were a result of stress and hormones). I also felt some rolling contraction-like cramps right before falling asleep that night but woke up feeling infinitely better.

That was all one week ago, yesterday. I will break up the "2 week wait horrors" into another post for fear of sending anyone who has yet to experience the transfer into an anxious tailspin.