miscarriage

The Day That Changed Me…Forever

A warning to my Mom and Dad (who read this blog)…this might be hard for you to see.  I have so much to be happy about and look forward to in this IVF journey, but there is a part of me that I feel compelled to share first.

I remember every detail of that day as if it has been etched into my mind, and my soul, for the rest of my life…

We already knew that we lost the baby.  That we found out on the day before my birthday.  For some reason my OBGYN didn’t schedule the DNC until 3-4 days later.  At the time I didn’t think twice, I was so numb.

You would think learning we lost the baby would have been the the day that changed me, but it wasn’t.  We had already lost 2.  I knew something was wrong because the severe pain in my chest vanished.  Then…spotting.  When I went to the doctor the heartbeat that was so strong at our last visit vanished as well.  I cried, and hid in the changing room.  After that it was business as usual.  We had been through this already…the pain wasn’t anything new for us.

Then came the day…that day.  I had plans with my friend Alyssa to have some summer fun.  You see, we were both teachers at a charter school notorious for working teachers to the bone.  This summer we were going to live up the days we had earned with our blood, sweat, and tears during the school year.

We had plans…we were going to Six Flags.  I dragged myself out of bed and took one of my husband’s prescription strength ibuprofen pills.  The cramps were killing me.  I was unfamiliar with this sensation because the last time I lost a baby this far along the DNC happened immediately.  The surgery for this loss wasn’t scheduled for another day.  You can imagine how dark it feels to walk around with the baby you love so much still inside of you, no longer “viable”.

I remember driving to Six Flags and buying Coke because for the small price of the worst thing you can put in your body, you get discounted park tickets.

We drove in Alyssa’s new car.  This new car was something Alyssa was really proud of, and she deserved it.  It kind of reminded me of a space ship because it was so shiny and new.  I remember the sugar rush of the Coke, and loving that the sugar seemed to make me feel happy.   For that small amount of time I didn’t have to pretend to be happy.  Thank you, sugar.

At the park we went on a water ride, the one that has you get into a giant octagonal floaty and you spin around the rapids.  We got soaked, and I remember the maxi pad I had on (because I was bleeding) felt like a wet diaper.  We found a bathroom and I changed that wet diaper.  Then, we decided to get in line for the gondola ride to the other side of the park. That’s when the worst day of my life began.

The cramps were debilitating.  I remember struggling to stand up, and struggling to leave the park.  On the way home Alyssa was trying to make me feel better but there was nothing she could have done.  The pain, both physical and emotional, was unbearable.  Looking back I think my body was preparing to “give birth” to what was once our baby.  The ride home seemed to take forever.

When we finally got to my house Alyssa wouldn’t leave my side, and when I went into the bathroom it was incredibly comforting to know that she was there.  I was so, so scared.  The blood and matter coming out of me was fast and furious.  I had to change my pad every 2 minutes, and even then it was everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  So….I decided to take a shower.  You would have thought I was being murdered in that shower, and it just…kept…coming.  I didn’t know what to do.  I needed to go to the ER.  Alyssa came back that night and cleaned the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to see the blood when I came home.  She will forever have the biggest part of my heart.

I strapped on the biggest pad I had and put on a pair of Bryan’s underwear.  They were the kind that resemble spandex and I don’t know why, but they felt like armor at the time.  Like, if I put on his underwear the bleeding would stop…or at least it wouldn’t bleed through anymore.  I remember worrying that I would bleed on Alyssa’s seats on the way to the ER so I brought a towel to sit on.  Her new car…she worked so hard for that car, I was so worried I would ruin the seat.

When we got to the emergency room there was younger woman at the front desk.  She asked for my information and told me to sit down in the waiting room.  As I stood there bleeding out what was my child I begged her not to make me sit there and wait.  There was so much coming out of me, I didn’t want to have to continue to miscarry in front of all those people.  All those people.  She refused, and so I left.  I would rather be at home than have this happen in the waiting room.

I was back and forth with my OBGYN the entire time.  By the time I left the ER they were calling me wondering where I was.  You see, one of the gynecologists of the practice was on call and in the ER waiting for me because he knew….he knew what was happening to me.  He knew.  After reliving the story of the woman who turned me away the nurse at my OBGYN’s office instructed me to head back to the ER.  She assured me that they would be calling the front desk, and that I would be brought back immediately.  At this point I was broken,  I was angry, and I was scared.

By the time we got back Bryan was there.  Alyssa, thank God, had been in contact with him as we bounced back and forth from the ER to my house.

I was put in a wheel chair, and said goodbye to Alyssa.  She told me I was the strongest woman she knew and that gave me courage. I didn’t feel strong, I felt like I was crumbling.  I looked down, and the blood already soaked the wheelchair.

When they brought us back there wasn’t a room immediately ready so we had to wait outside while they cleaned after a previous patient.  We might have been waiting ten minutes, and in that time the blood had risen over my thighs.  My new tank top, the one I bought to make me feel pretty during my summer pregnancy, was soaked around the bottom.

There was an elderly couple across from us as we waited in the hallway.  The woman was the patient, and her husband was tenderly holding her hand.  I remember feeling so embarrassed.  The blood was everywhere.  At this point it had gotten all over my forearms and hands.  I kept apologizing, and shaking…I was so cold.

When they brought me into the room they cut off Bryan’s underwear and I took off my new tank top.  I was put into a hospital  gown, and I remember that my legs and stomach were covered in blood.  I laid down and the nurses set me up with an IV.

For the next hour, in waves, my body got rid of what it had created to keep our baby alive.  I will never forget Bryan’s face.  He looked terrified.  My husband is the strongest man I know, a true thrill seeker…and his face was white.  I learned, after the fact, that he thought I was bleeding out.  He didn’t realize that what he was seeing was mostly placenta and separate from the blood system that keeps me alive.

The entire ordeal was so uncomfortable, and I remember at some point resigning myself to what was happening.  I was going to be covered in blood until this was over, things were going to keep falling out of me and being collected.  So, I went numb.

 

I don’t remember much else leading up to the surgery.  So much blood.  I vaguely remember being put onto the operating table and shaking uncontrollably.  I remember hearing my surgeon (the same doctor from my OBGYN that fought for me earlier) yelling for the nurse to get me a warm blanket.  I felt protected, and then I fell asleep.

When I woke up in post-op I met the most amazing nurse.  She had curly red hair, and her smile made me feel warm.  She asked how I was doing and, for a moment, I was happy.  Then I remembered….I remembered why I was there and my soul ached.  The nurse hugged me.  I will never forget that hug.  She smelled like love.

She asked if I was in pain, and I said I was.  I’m not sure if the pain was from the surgery or my broken heart, but I hurt…so deeply.  The nurse gave me morphine and I fell asleep.  I remember being in and out of sleep for the next few hours.  At some point I was in a hospital room with Bryan by my side.  It was late.  I would wake up and remember, and struggle to keep my eyes open.  Bryan would squeeze my hand, tell me everything was going to be ok, and I would fall asleep again.

When I was discharged we went to Wendy’s and got cheese fries and a lemonade.  I didn’t even know Wendy’s had cheese fries until that night.

I have not been the same since this experience.  It felt like a little bit of the light inside of me dimmed.  For a long time I wondered if I would be able to come back from what happened, and for a long time I didn’t think I would…but I did.  I am a more anxious and skeptical version of my previous self, but I am once again relishing in the magic that comes from the little moments that happen every day.

I will never forget that day.  I will never be able to thank my dear friend Alyssa enough.

#IVF Strong

 

 

 

Fertility Testing · IVF · miscarriage

My Curvy Uterus

IMG_5581

Today I went for my second saline sonogram to check up on my good ol’ curvy uterus.  My first saline sonogram happened about a year ago following the routine HSG (which, ladies, is VERY painful and you should take the day off from work and not drive back to school in the rain and teach all day in Newark!!!!!) which showed some shading.  The initial saline sonogram also showed shading, and so I was sent to a surgeon to get a better look and clear the pipes, so to speak.

When I met with the surgeon (this was a year ago) it was the oddest experience.  He was an older man, extremely nice, but he had this porcelain egg collection in the back of his office. I could NOT stop staring at these eggs…there were hundreds of them. Big eggs, small eggs, eggs of various different colors on the most peculiar little stands.  Who makes those stands??  Is there a market big enough to sustain an entire company in making porcelain egg stands? There can’t be.  Are there people other than this man who collect THIS MANY porcelain eggs?  Lemon nets!

Anywhoo, as I am sitting in the surgeon’s office desperately trying to think of ANYTHING other than porcelain eggs, and who makes their stands the (again) very very nice older man starts drawing uteruses on his little white notepad.  Now…I REALIZE I was in the office of a fertility surgeon, and fertility involves the female organs, but COME ON. There is something SO ODD about a man that could be my grandfather drawing uteruses on paper.  Am I right?  Right?!?

On his little white notepad he showed me all of the possible reasons for the shading that showed up during my HSG and saline sonogram.  Two options I remember were that I had a septum (where parts of you that were supposed to dissolve didn’t dissolve or something like that) or a curvy uterus.  The surgeon was 99% sure I had a septum, and that was something he could correct during surgery.  Added bonus-this would explain why we had suffered so many losses.  The babies wouldn’t have gotten the blood supply they needed to survive and grow.  I was excited.

During the surgery, as it turned out, there was no septum.  The truth was that I had a curvy uterus….and some polyps, which they removed.  For some reason this really bothered me.  I was almost ashamed.  I think it stems back to my constant battle with my weight, and the pressure to be thin and healthy.  The pressure to look and act like what I perceived to be “normal”.  The word curvy really struck a nerve.  Was my uterus FAT?   Great…another part of me that isn’t thin and perfect.  To make matters worse, what I thought would be the answer, the cause of the “repeated losses” turned out to be something that does not impact pregnancy in the slightest.  I was devastated.

Isn’t that sick?  I was devastated that my body didn’t have something TRULY wrong with it that needed to be surgically fixed.  I would rather have had the doctor need to cut apart my body INSIDE my uterus than have the label of a “curvy uterus”.  I understand the urge to want an answer, still to this day I feel that.  However, it makes me sad to look back on the woman who was ashamed of her curves (inside and out).

Fast forward to today, my second saline sonogram.  The doctor gave us the good news that this curvy uterus is healthy, polyp free, and ready to begin the IVF journey.  It’s taken me a while, but I am beginning to love my body-flaws and all.  Through this fertility marathon I am able to see that there is SO MUCH that happens to a woman’s body every single month. What we go through is amazing, and should be celebrated, not hidden in shame.  I guess I have found my silver lining to all of this pain.  Without our struggle, who knows if I would have begun to repair the relationship with myself and my body?

Now, my curvy uterus and I are going to enjoy a lovely meal with the love of our lives.

#IVF Strong

 

 

Insurance Company DRAMA · IVF · miscarriage

I Love/Hate my Insurance Company

 

Bryan (my husband) and I recently switched insurance companies.  The MAJOR plus is that IVF is covered, all that we are responsible for paying for are our office copays (and that pesky $7,700 for genetic testing since we are a “repeated loss” couple….).  For this, I am eternally grateful because I know there are many people who have to pay for everything out of pocket.  For this, I love my insurance company.

Yet in this moment, as I sit here typing, I hate my insurance company.  We used Schraft for our medication during the first IUI and it was a breeze.  The people were friendly, and every time they told us something it was true.  Every single date they gave, whether it was a phone call or shipping, was REAL.  Well, our new insurance won’t go through Schraft.  Ok, not a problem…right?  Wronggggggggg…after being transferred to not one, but two other medication suppliers we finally found the company our insurance will work with.  Freedom Fertility.  That name is a Joke with a capital J.   I haven’t felt less free working with a company in my life, chained to the damn phone trying to get the shots that Bryan will jam into my body parts for the foreseeable future.  Our medication was supposed to be delivered yesterday, but there is no delivery without $ and typically they call the day before delivery to get the copay from you.  Being an eager (and nervous) beaver I decided to be proactive.  I HAVE BEEN CALLING FOR OVER A WEEK.  Every time I get “your order is processing, someone will call you tonight with your copay.”  Liar.  Your pants are on FIRE LIAR LADY!

Today I decided to take no shit, and I told them that I was not hanging up the phone without answers.   Apparently they need to speak to my doctor because my insurance company (who I hate in this moment, have I mentioned that yet?) requires prior authorization, and needs to switch one of the brands of medicine.  After a full week of me calling them, they just called my doctor tonight, at almost 8:00.  Genius.

As if this process isn’t daunting enough.  Let’s make the acquisition of allllll the needles as painful as possible.

I was proud of myself for being firm, and remaining emotionally constant through the entire process.  Then, my husband made me a cup of tea and the string of my teabag fell into the burning hot liquid….and I cried hysterically for 10 minutes.

IMG_5577

#IVF Strong.

IVF · miscarriage

Preparing for IVF

The last time I blogged we were deep into the two week wait after our second IUI.  Much like the first, I got a raging period that made sure I knew I was not pregnant.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t, once again, devastated.  I really, really thought that I was pregnant.  All signs and symptoms pointed to yes.  Although, maybe I shouldn’t have had such faith in the symptoms since we miscarried every other time I was pregnant (insert hands up emoji).  You tell yourself EVERY time not to get your hopes up!  But…I am human, and I happen to be a human that is FILLED with emotion…sorry Bry Bry 🙂  Soooo I drank A LOT (hey, it was New Year’s!), ate terrible food, and cried when I thought nobody was looking 2-3 times a day.

Now, we are FINALLY starting the IVF process.  We have already met with our specialist for the refresher, signed consent forms that had WAY too much information, paid $7,700 for genetic testing (OUCH!!!), and ordered the medication Bryan will be jamming into my stomach and butt…to be delivered by a pharmacy in a package that is cooled and must IMMEDIATELY be put into the refrigerator. Whew.  Ok.  Interesting note, we gave consent to allow any failed embryos to be tested as part of a study.  It made me feel oddly at peace to click this button, almost like if everything fails again at least medicine, and perhaps some other woman like me struggling to have a baby, will benefit from the duds.

With all the medical mumbo jumbo taken care of, I wanted to make sure my body was uber healthy and ready for this process and started a cleanse.  There is already so much guilt that I carry with respect to our losses, so really I just wanted to make sure I felt that I did everything I could to be in the best health before we started this journey.  I have been using the Arbonne protein power and have tweaked their “30 Days to Healthy” program which I’ve used successfully before.  Basically I have a protein shake for breakfast, fizz stick and healthy snack (almonds, egg whites etc.), shake for lunch, another fizz stick and snack, and then a healthy dinner.  So far I have noticed a huge difference in my energy and overall health.  I don’t feel as sluggish, and honestly it has been easier to eliminate the bad foods and the BOOOOOOOZE.

Now, let’s talk booze.  As I prepare for yet another fertility cycle it gets harder and harder to cut out the drinks.  I don’t fancy myself an alcoholic (although some might disagree-eek!) but I do like the occasional, social drink.  It’s hard to give those things up especially when it begins to feel like it’s for no reason.  Make sense?  Think I am horrible yet??  When I was pregnant, all three times, I gave up drinking no problem…I had a purpose.  Now, it feels like I completely change my life over and over again, and each time I get a big fat NOT PREGNANT slap in the face.  Anywhoo, the cleanse makes it easier because now I am following a program, I am working on a healthier me and booze (pregnant or not) doesn’t fit into that equation.

What’s next on the IVF agenda?  Good question, and to be honest I am not totally sure haha.  I started taking birth control, I forget why.  Something about either controlling the cycle or my uterine lining. There was so much information I couldn’t process it all. That is why I am about to curl up with a sweet loaned gift from my IVF sister Nicole.  Hopefully by tomorrow I will know more about this crazy IVF journey that is our new normal.

 

IMG_5543

 

 

miscarriage

Repeated Loss…

Repeated loss…words I never knew held so much pain and anger until that became my very own label.  What a fancy way to tell the world that you cannot seem to keep a pregnancy “viable” (another medical term I have grown to detest).  Hi, I’m Sara, and I suffer from “repeated loss”.  Is this really my life?  If the medical world can call an ice cream headache Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia couldn’t SOMEONE come up with a more palpable term than repeated loss?!?

As I sit here, it is the anniversary of the day I naturally began to miscarry our third baby, two days before the scheduled (and my second) DNC.  Ironically, today also happens to be the first day of my cycle which is uncharacteristically heavy…I feel like I am being punished.  This was our third baby, and our third loss.

I started this blog today because there are so many emotions running through my mind.  Today I have cried, hysterically, at least ten times.  I have also watched a record 10 episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Normally I would feel guilty for being so unproductive but today…today I am giving myself permission to GRIEVE.  My poor husband, bless him, asks me how I am feeling and all I can say is “sad”.  How can I possibly sum up what is going on in this crazy body/mind of mine right now?  How can I tell him that every time I go to the bathroom and change my pad (because since the last DNC tampons don’t cut it) I relive that day one year ago (and 1.5 years ago….and 2 years ago…)? It’s like PTSD every time I go to the bathroom.  As if our periods weren’t torture enough, am I right ladies?!?

Anywhoo, I digress…I started this blog because I needed a place to honestly share my feelings and thoughts on living with “repeated loss”, and although I am sure no one will read this, the thought that maybe someone out there might identify with my story and feel some sort of relief in the kinship gives me a ray of hope and a reason.