You are currently browsing the Uncategorized category
Displaying 11 - 20 of 20 entries.

Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month

  • Posted on September 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I got this blog challenge from my friend Cassie, in honor of Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month. Please feel free to join me.

Day 1: Who are you? Share as little or as much about you in general.
Day 2: Tell us about your child(ren). As much or as little as you like. Names, birthdays, stats.
Day 3: Through your grief process who has been your “rock”
Day 4: Through your grief process what has kept you going?
Day 5: Do you ever get subtle reminds of your angel(s)? If so what what are they? *Winks*
Day 6: How do you answer the question of how many children you have?
Day 7: Do you do something to honor your angel(s)? If so what?
Day 8: Do you feel you have more good days than bad ones?
Day 9: If you have other children how has your loss affected them? If you don’t other children how has your loss affected your relationship with your partner?
Day 10: If you have Rainbows or older children do they know and remember your angel(s)?
Day 11: It is said that Father’s and Mother’s grieve differently. Do you feel this is true with your angel’s father?
Day 12: How has the rest of your family dealt with your loss?
Day 13: Does anyone else besides your speak your child’s name?
Day 14: What have you done to preserve your child’s memories or make new memories of your angel.
Day 15: Today is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day. What are you doing today?
Day 16: Do you take time for yourself?
Day 17: Do you feel your child is watching over you?
Day 18: Have you found something that puts you at peace?
Day 19: What is your happiest memory of your child(ren)?
Day 20: If you have anger…..What are you most angry about?
Day 21: Is there something about your child(ren) that brings a smile to your face?
Day 22: Do you have a song or songs that make you think of your child(ren)
Day 23: Besides changing the outcome, what is one thing you would have done differently?
Day 24: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. Do you prepare for them?
Day 25: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. How do you handle them?
Day 26: On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your day today and why?
Day 27: Share a picture.
Day 28: Have you ever corrected or wish you corrected someone about your loss?
Day 29: What are your beliefs as far as where you think your child(ren) is/are. Will you see each other again?
Day 30: How are your preparing for the end of the year? (ie: Holiday’s and starting a new year)
Day 31: Do you feel like 31 days has helped you open up more about your child(ren) and your grief?

This challenge does not need to be completed each day in October. Do a day as your feel comfortable. Thank you for joining me.

Sometimes, I feel I need to find a new profession.

  • Posted on September 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’m a teacher in my eleventh year of teaching.  For the past six years, I’ve taught at an inner-city school, filled with a wonderful mix of students.  I love where I teach and I love what I do.

What I don’t love is my district.  It is the most corrupt, morally reprehensible district I have ever had the misfortune of working for.  In the past four years, I’ve been displaced three times and RIF’d once (layoff notice).  For those few who read my blog and might not be familiar with the term displacement, it means the school no longer has a position open for me and I’m forced to go to another school.  This happened to me at the end of the school year in 2009 (after being at the school for three years), the end of the school year in 2011, and now, five weeks after school has started.  I have packed up and unpacked my room more times than I should ever have to.

I’ve entertained the thought of leaving teaching again.  I left teaching back in 2002, tired of the politics and since I didn’t have my credential, I figured I’d find a job in the “Real World.”  After being away from teaching for awhile, though, I realized how much I missed working with young people, teaching literature that I loved, and helping students become better writers, readers, and thinkers.  So, I buckled down and finished my credential and started teaching again.

Now, eight years later, I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider something else.  I’m lucky to at least have a job that pays our bills, supports our daughter, and I have medical insurance that not only paid for my stay in the hospital, but my daughter’s nine week stay in the NICU and other hospital visits since.  Yes, I’m lucky in the sense that I have a job.  But, I cannot help but feel beaten down and chipped away.  I am constantly bombarded with the idea that as a teacher, I’m the one responsible for my students’ poor test scores.  I’m the one whose fault it is that my students aren’t succeeding.  On one hand, my district is constantly reminding me that we MUST have 100% graduation rate and we MUST raise test scores.  Yet, on the other hand, my district is constantly using teachers like me as a pawn in the games they play.  How on earth are we to help our students succeed if they’re instead being shuffled around like a bunch of cattle?  How on earth is forcing teachers to teach HUGE classes (45-50 students in a class) doing the students any favors?  When I first started at my school, my largest class had 34 students, and my smallest had 21.  Now, it’s rare if my classes dip below 40.  We’re told we must have 42.5 students in each class.  This year, the district has determined we should have extremely large class sizes in the fall so that by spring, when attendance is always lower, our classes will balance out.  How is this rational?  How is having a class of 50 students in the fall so that we’ll have 42 students in the spring, rational thinking?

I’m tired.  My brain hurts.  My stuff is in boxes while I wait for word on whether or not I’ll be going.  I haven’t said anything to my students yet.  I don’t want to because I’m more upset about how they’re being treated than I’m being treated.  What does that say about the state education is in now?  That these students are constantly being shuffled around from place to place, from teacher to teacher, because the district doesn’t give a shit?


I received word.  My job is safe, at least for this school year.  I’m angry at exactly how it happened, though, but I really can’t go into the details behind it all.  Who knows what will happen again in the spring?  I miss the years when I just put things away in my cabinets, locked them up, papered over my bulletin boards, and had a nice relaxing summer.  That hasn’t happened to me since 2008.

Small Pleasures – Day 3

  • Posted on March 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

1.  Misty, gray mornings

I enjoy misty, gray mornings so much.   If it’s a bit chilly, having a cup of hot cocoa and spending quality time with my family warms my heart.

2.  A good book

The ability to fall into a good book and get lost in its plot is something I immensely enjoy.  I don’t have the time to read as much as I’d like to and my “to be read” pile is growing at an alarming rate.  Someday, when I have the time (ha ha!) I’ll try to get some reading done.

3.  My husband’s cooking

I am very lucky my husband likes to cook and he does it well.  He thinks I don’t give myself enough credit for my cooking, but I just don’t enjoy it.  I hate making a mess in the kitchen.

Small Pleasures – Day 2

  • Posted on March 29, 2011 at 8:43 am

1.  Driving with the top open

When I’m in my car alone, I enjoy driving with the top open, to let the sunshine and wind in.  My husband doesn’t enjoy it so much, but I do.  Even when it’s cloudy, I’ll drive with it open and put the heater on.

2.  Chai tea

I adore Chai tea.  The spicier, the better.  I sometimes make my own, but when I can, I treat myself to an ice blended Chai from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

3.  Blowing raspberries on Gracie’s belly

Well, this just goes without saying.  Gracie has started to giggle at everything, so blowing raspberries has become standard whenever her belly is exposed.

Trying to Move Away from Terror

  • Posted on March 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I have been remiss about posting here.  I build many entries in my head, but when I want to sit down and write, I don’t have the time.  Or, I do have the time, but I have other things I want to do, such as take care of Grace, wash bottles and pump stuff, and do some beading.

Something happened this past weekend that is burned into my brain and I’m still struggling with it.

Let me backtrack a little bit.  Gracie used to have reflux, which caused her to choke on viscous-y, slimy mucous.  We would have to suction it out of her nose to help her breathe.  The first time it happened, it was beyond frightening.  Her eyes got wide, her arms and legs windmilled frantically, and I think I lost years of my life from the whole experience.  But, once we figured out what was happening and she was put on some medication to help her have fewer episodes, we were able to clear her out when she had them.  The blue bulb syringe the hospital gave us came in handy on several occasions.

Eventually, Gracie didn’t need the medication for her reflux and she no longer had the episodes.

Sunday, I noticed Gracie had been spitting up a little more frequently than she normally does.  I decided to change her shirt into a fresh, clean one and put her on the changing table.  One second I was making her giggle by blowing raspberries on her belly and the next, her eyes went wide with terror, her arms and legs windmilling.  I panicked.

I said, “Michael, something’s happening! Michael!  Something’s wrong!”  He rushed in, and there I was, panicking, not knowing what to do.  I had already reached for the bulb syringe and started to automatically suction out her nose, but there was no viscous-y mucous to suction.  Her face started turning red, and she stopped breathing, her eyes round with terror.

She managed to cry a few seconds later and all I could do was cry right along with her.  I held her for a moment and then Michael took her and sat her down in her rocker.

The terror I felt and have felt since scares me.  I’ve already lost a son.  Even though I can’t control the future or know what is in store for myself or my family, I can’t stand the fact that there’s a possibility something bad can happen.  I watch other people I know who have small children living seemingly carefree lives with their children and I can’t help but wonder if they know what it’s truly like to feel the terror I feel every day?

I leave for work and worry about other people’s driving skills because I want to come home.  I worry about everything.  A friend once said I worry about the whether the sun will rise in the sky each day, so it’s nothing new for me to worry.  But, this fear I have is almost all-encompassing.  I wish I could shake it.  I’ve been told by other parents that the fear for their children never goes away.  I think a healthy fear is fine, but what I feel is almost debilitating.  What happened this weekend drove home that feeling.  I was starting to feel more carefree with Gracie, enjoying all her milestones she’s reached and watching her grow with pride and wonder.  This was unexpected.  I guess in a way, it was a sobering reminder that anything can happen and I need to remember that.  Still, I want to be that parent who is more carefree and less of a worrywart.

Other than the episode this weekend, Gracie is doing really well.  She’s sitting on her own more and more and has almost figured out crawling.  Watch out world.  When she wants something, she reaches for it and will try and take it.  She’s gotten really good at noticing when we take something and put it out of her reach or hide it behind us so she can’t take it.  She follows the item with her eyes and knows it’s being hidden.  Recently, she’s become obsessed with my phone bag.  It’s a little zipper pouch I bought from an Etsy seller who makes the cutest stuff.  It fits my phone perfectly, but I don’t want Gracie playing with it because I’m around teenagers all day and who knows what kind of cooties they bring around?  So, I gave her a zippy pouch I haven’t used.  Michael put one of her little toys in it and now she’s completely fascinated with it.  That’ll keep her busy for awhile.

Watching Gracie grow into a little person is an amazing experience, if not a scary one.  Hopefully, I can move away from the terror I feel.

Back to Work

  • Posted on December 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

So, Monday was my first day back to work after being on leave since May.  Thankfully, I was able to use my summer vacation as part of my leave of absence.  When school started in the fall, I took 12 weeks off as a bonding leave to care for my daughter.  I simply could not justify returning to work when Gracie only weighed about 6 lbs and for all intents and purposes, was equivalent to that of a 3 week old baby.  Plus, I was trying to work out a nursing schedule with her to give her the best food to plump her up.

And, boy did she plump up.  She now weighs over 14 lbs and is finally on the growth chart for her regular age.  She’s even better on the growth chart for her adjusted age.  But, just seeing her on the growth chart at 6 months old, when she spent the first three months of her life in the NICU, is pretty dang amazing to us.

I wasn’t sure how the first day would go.  I didn’t know my students, but I hadn’t really heard anything negative about them, either.  Last year’s 10th graders were crazy.  Well, what a relief!  My students seem to be pretty good.

I’ll have to admit, though.  It’s been a crazy week.  I get up at 4:50 AM, change Gracie’s diaper and feed her.  I hold her upright for 20 minutes, and then put her back in her pack-n-play while I get ready for work.  I bring my computer, my pump, my lunch, and my purse with me every day.  I feel like I’m going camping with all the crap I bring with me.  Then, with very little time to spare, I run to the bathroom during nutrition.  I come back, pump for 10 minutes, and while the kids are waiting outside, put everything away.  If I time it just right, the kids are coming in for the next class right about when the bell rings.  I pump again at lunch.  Thankfully, there’s a little bit more time during lunch where I don’t have to rush as much.

I come home and before I even say hello to my daughter, I take the pumping stuff that’s been sitting on the drying rack from the night before and place it to the side so that I can wash the two sets of pumping stuff I took with me to school.  After that’s washed, I strip and place all my clothes into the dirty hamper and take a shower.  Only when I’m squeaky clean can I hold my daughter and give a big kiss.  Since I work at a school, the cootie factor is pretty high.  I am constantly using hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes to clean my desk.  I’m just worried I’ll bring something home and Gracie will catch it.  Being a preemie, her immune system isn’t as robust as a full-term baby’s system, so we just can’t take the chance.

I have to say, though, this week was exhausting.  I’m lucky in that I can now take three weeks to recuperate from it all.  Still, I have no idea how I’ll be able to keep up the pumping and nursing.  Gracie is eating more solids.  Eventually, she’ll be nursing less and eating more.

Christmas is just around the corner.  I haven’t done hardly any shopping and probably won’t do much with lack of money.  Being on leave was nice, but not getting paid was a bit difficult.  I’m not even really in the Christmas spirit.  We don’t have our Christmas decorations up, either.  No tree, no ornaments, nothing.  Maybe when I get home, we can get the tree set up.  It is Gracie’s first Christmas, after all.  I also received some ornaments for Benjamin and I would like to place them on the tree.   Maybe when we get all the pretty ornaments out and put the tree up, I’ll feel more Christmas-y.

I truly though that returning to work would be emotionally difficult.  I haven’t had a chance to really think about anything other than work and the business of teaching 10th graders, so I guess that’s good.  In a way, I feel guilty for not thinking about Benjamin as much.  I still think about him every day, but just not as much, or not while I’m working.  It’s when I’m home and holding Gracie that I remember him.


  • Posted on November 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I truly have much to be thankful for.  My daughter turned 6 months old today.  With the exception of having to go back into the hospital for surgery to correct her pyloric stenosis (after spending 11 weeks in the NICU), our daughter has thrived.  She weighs over 13 lbs, she laughs more than cries, and is a joy.

I’m trying to enjoy these last few weeks I have left before I go back to work.  I wish I didn’t have to.  I wish I could just stay home and take care of her until she’s old enough to start school.  Then, I’d go back to work.  But, money is a necessary evil and so is insurance.  I have to work in order to provide insurance for our daughter, so off to work I will go.

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving with family.  It wasn’t the big to-do like last year and I needed that.  The coming holidays are firsts for us:  first holidays for our daughter, and first holidays without our son.  For every milestone our daughter reaches, I am so happy, but another part of me is so sad.  Even though I only got a very small amount of time with my son, I miss him.

This next week, there’s a memorial service we were invited to for parents who have lost their children.  I’ve been nervous about going because I know it will open up feelings I’ve been keeping hidden for months.  When our son was buried, we were not there.  I still feel terrible that I wasn’t there to say goodbye to him.  A friend told me that going to the memorial service would possibly be good for me since it would a chance for me to actually have a memorial for him and to say goodbye.

I look at my daughter and I wonder what our son would have been like at the stage she’s in right now.  I wonder if she feels his absence as much as I do.  Still, I am incredibly thankful for her and I count my lucky stars every day for her.  I am also beyond thankful for my husband and for all the support he has given me since March, when we found out our son would be lost to us.  I really don’t know where I’d be without them.

2nd Trimester

  • Posted on October 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

On March 23, 2009, my husband and I excitedly made our way to a perinatologist’s office for my formal ultrasound.  I also had a genetics screening with a counselor the same day to go over the results of blood work done.  Despite my age at pregnancy (36) , I was confident that nothing was genetically wrong with my twins.

We sat in the office with the genetics counselor and she went over all the statistics of what she found.  We were as normal of a pregnancy as we could be, which was really nice to hear.  Even though I was more at risk for having a baby with Down’s Syndrome because of my age, the blood work came back that there was a very small chance the twins had it.   Everything was normal.  She did mention that I could have an amnio done on both babies to be absolutely sure, but I had already turned down the test before because I didn’t want to run the risk of having a miscarriage.  The chance of miscarriage is present enough when an amnio is done that I didn’t want to risk it at all.  After all the heartache, drama, and blood, sweat, and tears we went through to be at the place we were right then, I had no intention of causing any kind of risk, no matter how small, just to find out something I would eventually know about when they were born, anyway.  Plus, the idea of having a long needle plunged into my abdomen really squicked me out.

After the genetics counseling session, we were escorted to a room with a lot of very expensive-looking equipment.  The whole reason why I was having my formal ultrasound at this office and not my regular OB/GYN was because they had the very expensive-looking equipment that could do all sorts of interesting things, and my OB/GYN’s little po-dunk ultrasound machine could not.

I remember laying down on the table and waiting impatiently for the ultrasound doctor to get started.  This was a momentous occasion for us.  We were finally going to find out what our babies’ gender.  I really, really wanted a girl, but also wanted a boy.  How perfect would that be?  A boy and a girl.  That’s the ultimate perfect family.  One boy and one girl.  I kept saying it in my head.  I hoped the girl would look like me and the boy would look like my husband.  I just knew in my mind that we were having one of each.

The ultrasound doctor came in and briskly started the ultrasound, taking measurements as he went.  Focusing on Baby A, the doctor talked over our heads to the ultrasound nurse, rattling off numbers in conjunction with lengths of arms, legs, abdomen, etc.  I was fascinated with what I saw on the monitor.  There was one of my babies, moving and kicking, looking as perfect as could be.

Then, the ultrasound doctor moved on to Baby B, rattling off measurements and numbers as he did with Baby A.  He seemed to be spending more time focusing on Baby B, so I asked what he was looking at.  He said, “I’m concerned about the lack of amnionic fluid around Baby B.  I need to go get another doctor.”  When he left, I remember feeling hot and cold, all at the same time.  The ultrasound nurse continued to push down on my stomach to try and get a good angle on Baby B, but Baby B couldn’t change positions.  Another doctor came in with the original one, and they continued the ultrasound.  It felt surreal – like watching this all happen in a dream.  There I was on the table, there the doctors worked over me, conferring here and there about what they saw, the ultrasound nurse moving the wand around to try and get a better angle.

At one point, I heard over all the measurements and words being discussed about Baby B, that Baby A was a girl.  I remember feeling bereft, almost robbed.  Where was that ultrasound all new mothers talk about?  The one where the doctor says, while beaming down at the new mom, “You’re having a girl!” and points out the girl parts with a cute little arrow on the monitor, typing the words “IT’S A GIRL” next to the arrow.  Then the new mom goes home on a cloud, staring at her ultrasound picture in awe, imagining what her baby’s nursery will look like, what linens to buy, what colors to paint the walls, and what crib set will go best with the color scheme.  And, of course, within the hour, the ultrasound picture with the jaunty little arrow gets posted on-line to share with family and friends.

Instead of all that, my husband and I find out we’re having a girl because the ultrasound nurse was looking at the ultrasound pictures while the doctors worked on my belly to try and get the best angle they could to figure out what was wrong with Baby B.

My little Baby B was stuck in a placental prison, no amniotic fluid to swim in, grow in, or develop lungs in.  All the pressing down on my belly was to try and locate kidneys.  They couldn’t find any.  My little Baby B had Potter’s Syndrome, a congenital disorder where the absence of kidneys or kidneys that aren’t functioning cause the low amniotic fluid, which then cause the baby to not develop properly for lack of space, as well as lack of lung development.  The doctor found something else with Baby B’s heart.  We were asked to come back in a few days so that a Pediatric Cardiologist could look at the heart to determine what else might be wrong.

I sobbed.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I had told my family, my friends, all my students, and my coworkers that we were going in to find out what our babies were going to be.  I remember being so excited for one of my coworkers who was having twins, too.  She was six weeks ahead of me and had just found out a few weeks before that she was having a boy and a girl.  I wanted that, too.  I wanted to feel that excitement.  Instead, I was ecstatic for our little baby girl who was perfectly fine on one side, and my poor Baby B, squished and not able to form properly on the other.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  People have told me countless times that things happen for a reason.  God only gives us what we can handle.  God had a plan.  I don’t know what to say to that.  Despite my upbringing, I’m not a very religious person anymore.  Too many times, I’ve seen religious people turn mean and have treated those I love in a very unkind way.  I’m sure people had good intentions when they said they’d pray for us.  I even had a few people who didn’t believe what the doctors said and that we should just believe in miracles and our Baby B would be just fine.

If anything, we were not “just fine.”  We were anything but.  I don’t even know how we made it through the second ultrasound with the Pediatric Cardiologist.  As if having Potter’s Syndrome wasn’t enough, let’s give him yet another congenital defect that’s fatal!  Baby B’s tricuspid valve wasn’t closing, allowing blood to backwash back into the heart.  Eventually, the cardiologist said, fluid would develop in the heart and around the lungs.  If I were to go full-term with the twins, Baby B would pass away in-utero.

All I could remember thinking at this point was there had to be some way to save our Baby B.  With all the technology available today, couldn’t the doctors do some sort of surgery where they could give the baby a kidney?  And, the cardiologist did say that people can live with Ebstein’s Anomaly.  I’ve seen episodes of “House” – I know they can do surgery on babies while they’re still in the womb.  Of course, that’s just Hollywood.  In real life, if a baby doesn’t develop kidneys, the baby’s lungs won’t develop.  I remember the doctor telling us this in a matter-of-fact way, that our Baby B would not suffer and would slip away peacefully.

Peacefully.  How can losing your baby be peaceful?  It’s anything but peaceful.

Infertility 102

  • Posted on October 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Once it was established that we would not have a family of our own unless we pursued IVF with ICSI, we decided to forgo buying a house and put all our efforts into starting a family.

This was no easy task.

In no time, I was met with a rather large box of drugs and had to start injecting myself with all sorts of hormones.  The color-coded calendar I had was rather intimidating, not to mention the first time I had to give myself a shot to stimulate my follicles.  I remember my hand shaking with the fear that the shot would really hurt.  I probably shouldn’t have looked at youtube videos about the kinds of shots women have to give themselves for IVF.  I remember one woman had bruises all over her belly from all the shots she had to give herself.

Thankfully, the follicle stimulation shot didn’t hurt… most of the time.  At one point, I had four different shots to take, all at very specific times of the day.  I even had to use a color-coded calendar to help me make sure I was taking the right drugs at the right time.  My husband also had to give me a shot in my hip every night after the transfer, all the way up to the day of the Beta blood test.

During the chaos of the first cycle, I had five ultrasounds in five days.  The fertility doctors had to monitor my follicles to the exact point where they’d be best for retrieval.  My follicles were responding so well to the drugs, one of the fertility doctors was very close to canceling my cycle because I had too many follicles.  Too many follicles can cause the follicles to not grow to the right size for egg retrieval.  Not only that, but my ovaries were maxed out and I was teetering on the edge of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which causes fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity and can be potentially dangerous.

When I look back on all of this, it seems so confusing and so overwhelming.  I really don’t know how I went through it all, other than to say that I had a one-track mind that was focused on nothing but doing what I needed to do to get pregnant.

Pregnant.  It seems like such an easy thing to do.  Egg and sperm meet, baby is conceived, nine months of joyous anticipation for the blessed birth.  This did not happen for us.  I had to shoot myself up with a ton of hormone drugs, have a wand shoved up my hoo ha more times than I could count, and I got very used to almost-strangers looking at my girl parts to the point where it didn’t bother me anymore.  I remember a time in my life that the mere thought of having a well-woman exam scared the crap out of me.  I had to deal with bloating and weight gain and my clothes not fitting me anymore.  But, worst of all, I had to deal with what seemed like EVERYONE around me getting pregnant and having cute, bouncy babies.  EVERYONE but me.

That first cycle seemed like such a surreal dream.  Here I was, standing on the precipice of something I had never experienced before in my life: having a baby grow inside me.  Even though my doctor was tempted to cancel my cycle because of my over-stimulated ovaries, he did not.  Apparently, my follicles grew enough to where they could be retrieved safely.  So, on with the cycle we went and I administered the shot that would ripen my follicles so they could be retrieved.  I went in on a Tuesday morning, my husband driving me to the clinic.  I remember feeling extremely bloated and uncomfortable, and well, nervous.  Who wouldn’t be?  We had just spent thousands of dollars on a procedure that wasn’t a 100% guarantee.

I was asked to undress and wear a hospital gown with the ties in the front.  I didn’t bring a pair of socks, which now that I think back on it, if I had known, I would have totally rocked a pair of cute socks.  I have a whole drawer full of cute, funky socks.  Instead, I went barefoot.  My legs were put into some sort of leg holders and strapped down and I was asked to scootch myself down to the very edge of the bed.  And then, the anesthesiologist put me to sleep.  When I woke up, my lower abdomen hurt and I was completely groggy and out of it.

The news was good, however.  I had produced 17 eggs.  SEVENTEEN!!!!  I couldn’t believe it at first, but then, looking at my swollen abdomen, I did believe it.

17 eggs retrieved, 15 of them were mature, and 14 fertilized.  That is an extremely high number.  Many women end up with maybe a couple of mature eggs and have to repeat the entire first cycle over again.  Two embryos were transferred and the rest were frozen, leaving us with ten embryos.

We were very lucky.

We went in for the embryo transfer.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience at all.  I thought one of the three fertility doctors I had been working with would be there for the transfer.  Instead, I got a doctor I didn’t know and he didn’t know my body very well because he couldn’t get into my cervix.  He had to place a SUTURE on my cervix to bring it up enough in alignment to where he could send the embryos on their way.  It was so painful, I tensed up and had tears rolling down the sides of my face, pooling in my hair.  After the procedure, and the two very best embryos (3-day blastocysts!) were placed through my cervix and allowed to float around in my uterus, I was told to lay there for 45 minutes and the table was placed at an angle where my feet were higher than my head.  I laid there in pain, the 45 minutes slowly ticking by.  Why is it that when you’re in pain and you’re forced to lay there, time moves excruciatingly slow?  My back was killing me because of the awkward angle I was in and all I wanted to do was go home.

Because I had a moderate case of OHSS and the fluid in my abdomen was pushing on my organs to the point where I couldn’t eat more than two celery sticks cut in half with peanut butter, my 2-day bedrest was pure misery.  My poor husband also had to run up and down the stairs to fetch me my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, since the only thing I was allowed to do was go to the bathroom.  I had movies to watch and books to read while I lounged around in bed.  Except, I was in massive pain.  I couldn’t sleep because I had been laying in bed all day and my back hurt beyond all measure because I had been laying in bed all day.

Needless to say, the entire experience of the first cycle was miserable.  I went in for my blood test on July 24th, 2009 and waited on pins and needles for my Beta result.  When the nurse called to tell me I wasn’t pregnant, I completely lost it.

It just didn’t seem fair.  We had put so much hope and faith and so much of ourselves into what we hoped would be the start of our new family.  In retrospect, it was most definitely for the best that I didn’t get pregnant that first cycle, especially considering the OHSS I had to deal with.  A pregnancy would have exacerbated my condition to the point that I could have had my abdomen drained of fluid.  Who knows?  It still hurt to know that it didn’t work.

With the high number of embryos we had, we were lucky that we were able to continue IVF with ICSI without having to go through another egg retrieval.  I told my husband that I didn’t think I could go through that again.  And yet, there are women out there who have to do one for every cycle.  The amount of stress it caused was unbelievable.  The 11 days I had to wait for my results was mind-numbing.  And all the doubt!  When I found out the first cycle didn’t take, I kept thinking it was something I did wrong.  Did I lift something that was too heavy and cause the embroyos to shoot out of my uterus?  What about that time I had a piece of chocolate?  Or how about that coffee?  It had to have been something I did, right?  I mean, two perfectly good, top-quality embroyos were placed in my uterus, floating around in there.  Why didn’t they take?  I guess that’s just how the human body works.

For the second cycle, I had to go in for a practice transfer to make sure they wouldn’t have to resort to putting a SUTURE in my cervix to align it properly.  All this because the doctor who did the first transfer had such difficulty.  The practice transfer went swimmingly well and it was determined nothing was wrong.

The second transfer went fine.  In fact, I felt absolutely no pain and was surprised that I didn’t.  Everything felt so right: I didn’t have any pain, I wasn’t bloated from OHSS, and I knew the doctor doing the transfer.  I was positive the second transfer would be successful.  I would find out a few days after my birthday.  What better birthday present than to have the gift of starting a family of our own?  Instead, I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant with her second child.  The devastation hit me like a brick wall.  I felt so miserable.  I didn’t want to feel jealous, but I did.  I didn’t want to be angry, but I was.  My thoughts were right back to what I was thinking before we started the IVF:  why is it so easy for some women to get pregnant and others, not?  That was a dark time for me.  I felt really, really terrible for thinking the way I did.

I had a few more tests run on me to make sure there was nothing causing my infertility, like polyps or cysts in my ovaries.  I had a hystersonogram just to be sure because he thought it interesting that I said I had spotting for several days before my cycle started and my cramps were out of this world painful.  I told him I thought all women had spotting before their periods – how else would they know it’s coming?  Oh, but that wasn’t true at all.  Most women might have a little spotting a couple of hours before their cycle starts, but not for days before.  This was news to me.  The doctor told me that there might be polyps and/or cysts in my uterus, causing irritation and not allowing the embryos to take hold in the lining, which would also explain the spotting and the horrible cramping I had every month.  He couldn’t find any reason why the 2nd cycle was unsuccessful and wanted to make doubly sure there was nothing in my uterus causing trouble before we proceeded with the 3rd cycle.

He said that if there were no polyps and/or cysts, then it was most likely that I had what was called a dysfunctional cycle.  And, that’s what I have because my uterus was pristine and clear as a bell.

For the 3rd cycle, my fertility doctor felt it would be best if we took a more aggressive approach and transferred three embryos, rather than just two.  Obviously, two embryos didn’t work in the past and I wasn’t getting any younger.  And, with three being my favorite number, and it being our 3rd attempt at a pregnancy, we agreed to have three embryos transferred.

This time, the original doctor we had our consultation with, the one who perused my medical chart and noticed my hormone levels were not normal, was the one who would do the transfer.  I was relieved because I felt he was the best doctor and the most thorough.  This is not to say that the doctor who did our second transfer wasn’t good enough – she was.  I just felt that if Dr. R did our third transfer, maybe we’d have a better chance.

And, we did.  Not only was I pregnant, but I was pregnant with fraternal twins – two of the embryos took.

Oh, I remember the joy.  But, I also remember the anxiety.  Looking back on my pregnancy, I really wish I could have enjoyed it more, but I was too scared I would lose the pregnancy and we would have to start all over again.

Infertility 101

  • Posted on September 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm

My husband and I tried for two years to start a family.  I tracked my cycle for months, peed on sticks ten to twenty days a month, used a fertility monitor (which became just a very expensive cycle tracker), took my basal body temperature for that tell-tale sign of a temperature spike at the ungodly hour of 4:00 AM, and peed on countless pregnancy tests, crying into a towel in the bathroom to hide my sorrow and frustration when none of them said “PREGNANT.” Sometimes, as a cruel joke, my body would wake up at 2:00 AM to alert me that I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t go until at the earliest 3:00 AM.  There is nothing worse than knowing you have to pee, but not being able to for fear of messing up your basal body temperature.

I was told by my OB/GYN that I had to try for a year before we would even be considered for a referral to an infertility doctor.  I knew something was wrong, even before I met my husband.  But, I couldn’t have any testing done until after that coveted year.  I fudged it (we didn’t wait the coveted year), and, even though my doctor knew I did, went ahead and referred us to a fertility clinic.  I had a battery of tests done, as well as my husband, and even though my OB/GYN said my hormone levels were “Normal!,” I still knew something was WRONG.

The fertility clinic we were referred to was nice enough, but we couldn’t escape the feeling that they wanted our money right then and there.  We felt we were being pressured to start the first cycle right away and they were preying on our desperation to have a family.  I didn’t like the feeling of being pressured to start, not even giving us time to research the clinic or the procedures that would be done on me.  The doctor called some number while we sat in his office and spoke in a fast dialogue about the two of us.  It was all rather weird and strange and not something we really felt any comfort with starting.

I went home and researched the clinic we were referred to, as well as other fertility clinics in the area.  It became obvious after I was able to compare fertility clinics that the one we were referred to was not the clinic we would want to use.  Despite all the pictures of happy babies from happy clients decorating the lobby, the fertility clinic we went to had the lowest success rate for a woman my age (35 when we started) compared to other clinics in the area.

After looking over the data available, we decided to go with the clinic that had the highest success rate, with several offices smattered around southern California.  I called to make an appointment and because of my wacky coaching schedule, managed to finally squeeze in a consultation appointment for $250.00.  That’s right… despite having the best insurance coverage I’ve ever had in my life, to the point where I could add my husband onto my plan for free, it did NOT cover the cost of infertility.  My family doctor, bless his beautiful, old soul, managed to get expensive tests done on me that I only had to pay the co-pay for.  If he hadn’t written up the hysterosalpingogram as a necessary test to see why my cycles were so severe, I would have had to pay for the test myself, and that would have just added to the exorbitant amounts of money we would ultimately have to pay.

I brought all my test results, the hysterosalpingogram (normal), my progesterone levels (my OB/GYN said it was normal!), and my husband’s lab results to our consultation.  The fertility doctor looked everything over and said, very succinctly, “Your progesterone levels are NOT normal.  You are producing progesterone, but not enough to maintain a pregnancy.  Your husband’s results are not enough for us to determine whether you’ll need to do an IUI or IVF.”  So, my poor husband had to go and have more tests done.

It was determined that we both had nasty fertility issues, me with low progesterone, and my husband with a Kroger count of 1% (the normal range is 5-6%).  The only available option for us was IVF with ICSI.

Stay tuned… Part 2 in a few days.