Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mom to three dearly missed little ones
June 2009, August 2009 & July 2010
Philadelphia, PA

Our story starts in 2003, when we got married on a sunny day in August. We are best friends and we love children. I am a children's counselor, and Pete is going to be a pediatric nurse. We are so deserving aren’t we? We decided to start trying TTC while pete was in nursing school trying to time it so we'd be pregnant when he was done, and well-timing it so I could work part time as a counselor. We also timed it so we could try and have children that are around the same age as my sisters’ children. How silly of us right? Planning? HA! Maybe the rest of the world, but not us.

I remember the initial excitement and thrill of shedding protection and the excitement of our first pregnancy stick. Didn't work. Hmmm...that is weird we thought. My sisters and mom all got pregnant by accident at least once, some of them twice, and never had any trouble. (If you are reading this- no family history is NOT an indicator of whether or not you will be have trouble TTC.) We tried again for a few months. Still no luck. Maybe it was the way I was laying. Maybe it was our timing. We did some research. I charted temps on a little graph. We tried ovulation predictor kits. Still no luck. We took it in
stride: a few tears but we are still young. None of our friends have children yet. We have time.

After a year, I went to my ob-gyn and MD for thorough check ups. I was age 26 or 27. Nothing could be found. I think people- medical and in our personal life- were largely dismissive due to our age. At the Reproductive Endocrinologist, they didn’t do much to resassure me, and seemed to continue with the attitude this would be quickly resolved. No problems could be found with myself or my husband. We did several rounds of intrauterine insemination with no luck, and decided to take a year off without protection. We went back to the world of reproductive endocrinology in 2009, and on our second cycle, after we got our dog, we got pregnant! It had been 3 years and 3 months and finally the positive home pregnancy test!

We were in shock. We were afraid. We were overjoyed. We said “I can’t believe it” probably about 1000 times. Our beta blood test also came back positive, I told a few friends and family. After all we had been trying for a few years, everyone was happy. There were tears of joy. We left for an oddly timed vacation to visit my sister. Then my next beta didn't double the way they would like, the next one was only okay. We worried but tried to enjoy it. I dared to look at the online bulletin boards (which I would later join, so thankfully I discovered them as they would be a help), and Babies R US. I had my betas every other day on vacation. The I had two great doubling betas and I stopped betas and we scheduled an ultrasound. We celebrated at dinner. This is really happening!

And then I started spotting. My BIL (an ob-gyn) told me not to worry, it happens all the time. I showed Pete the pad, and his face fell. It was more than made either of us comfortable, but it was brown. Which is okay… right? We fell asleep holding each other crying, on our alleged vacation. Tissue started to come out the next morning and my BIL brought me into the office for an ultrasound on the day before I was 6 weeks. It was gone. I was in shock. I shook violently. I held my belly wishing I could keep it in somehow. “I'm sorry,” said the ultrasound tech. I started fully bleeding two days later. Fortunately my BIL ran some tests and found out I am RH neg so he got me a rhogam shot. (Another thing missed on my work up at the first RE!)

We flew home on a red eye. I sobbed in the dark cabin the entire way. My shirt was soaking wet as the sun rose in the windows. My heart had broken in two. It hurt to breathe. My chest ached from crying. I cried morning, noon and night. I took a week off of work. It was every bit as sad as other losses I have had, as anyone who has had pregnancy loss can tell you. I found the little embryo and we buried him with tears on our faces, in a light rain. Shocking that after only a few weeks it could have so much definition. We saw its little armbuds... It's heartbreaking. To come so far after so long, and lose it.

The world is unfair. I enter a deep state of depression, deeper then I let on maybe. I put on a fake happy face, but the shadow of grief follows me everywhere.

I start to feel better and now I want to try more than ever. I throw myself into researching everything. We try Letrazole again and an IUI. In July and on our 6 wedding year anniversary, after some familiar symptoms, I test positive again! We celebrate our anniversary, we have photos we are so happy. This is it we think, this will work. The first one was a fluke, but this is it. Then, spotting and a low beta test. Our second loss was a chemical pregnancy. The doc does RPL testing and does find low levels of antiphosphopholipid antibodies. He tests again, I have none. Was probably just a sinus infection. I had my hopes up that we had found an answer for all this pain and loss; no such luck.

I am lost again. It's all so unfair; I am pure sadness. It’s not bad enough I can’t get pregnant, but then when I do, it doesn’t stick around? To make it worse, over the course of time this summer, I know 13 people personally who are pregnant. It definitely rubs salt in the wound. Babies and pregnant bellies cause me pain I have never felt before. I am not allowed to live like the rest of the world. We try 2 more IUI’s (It's a total of TEN IUI's) and now I have cysts from the miscarriages which cause problems. I meet with the doc, I demand IVF. Surely that will fix it, I've heard so many wonderful things. At least our odds will improve. I set all of my hopes on IVF, and probably bury my grief into preparations for the “big guns.” I want it to work badly.

I have one cycle of IVF covered under insurance, and it is scheduled for our 4 year anniversary of TTC, and during Christmas time- surely this all must be kismet? I am such a faithful little follower of IVF. I make myself little calendars and checklists, and be totally type A about it. I take off 4 days afterwards to rest. I take lots of vitamins and supplements. I go above and beyond. But, it doesn’t work.

The doctors say this is a rarely seen event. I had 26 folllicles, and they were only able to retrieve 10. And of the 10, 8 are immature. Which gives me 2 eggs, which both fertilize, though one late. The later fertilizing one makes it, the other does not. We do a 3 day transfer of ONE 5 cell embryo. Less than ideal. We cry again. We stare at each other and say “I can’t believe this, we have the worst luck in the world with infertility.” We decide to love that one little embryo and still hope for the best. It only takes one…. Right? And actually until the last day or two, I swear I feel old pregnancy symptoms resurface. But maybe it’s just the hormones.

In early 2010, we attempt a second IVF. This time, I was understimulated after 10 days on medications, so we can't even do egg retrieval or embryo transfer. We feel broken, how can so much continue to go wrong?

In May 2010, I begin seeing a new doctor and we try IVF a third time. This time, for the first time ever, we make two beautiful embryos. They are transferred and once again, I feel those old symptoms resurface. And then, several home pregnancy tests reveal it's another pregnancy! We feel nervous and hopeful that this is it for us. But then, my beta tests reveal slowly and erratically rising numbers. Once again, we are on vacation in a beautiful place, wondering what has happened. It takes several more weeks to figure out that it was an ectopic pregnancy. Another loss in another fashion. This time it just all feels so unfair; how can we be so close- literally inches- yet so far away? And all of the appointments to see that little embryo in my tube were just heartbreaking. Ectopic is truly the definition of adding insult to injury. On top of the pain of losing your dearly wanted to child, you are in constant fear of losing one of your tubes or future fertility- or maybe even your life!

Looking back, I have not been myself since my first miscarriage. I am in some ways a shell or husk of my former self, and in other ways I feel stronger than ever. I may have to accept this may not work for us. I find myself open to other possibilities. This is out of our control, and it's a test of financial and emotional strength. We can steer it in a certain direction but this is not our fault. It’s a medical problem. We’ve done all we can with what we’ve been given. Accepting this has brought us relief, we don’t have to be responsible for the control over it. We’ll keep trying, but there has to be more to life than infertility. Over time, I have learned to blame myself less. I see it as a medical problem. I see we have many options. And our new mantra is, “We will have our child someday. It may not be on our timeline. And it may not be in the way we’d originally imagined, but we will have our family.” It's easier to live this mantra some days than others. 

I miss our three little angels. I have no doubt that you can begin loving a little angel the moment you see two simple little lines. And can miss someone- three someones- you've never even met. I have truly lived and learned the meaning of the word bittersweet. I feel such joy in the little moments, however brief, where the world felt perfect with my little babies inside of me. I dreamed of the future. My husband rubbed my belly and talked to them. And the bitterness comes at us needing to try so hard- for so long- at such cost for these three little ones to lose them so early. It just doesn't seem fair.

But, I just don't want to give up yet. Hope is the darndest thing. I will be a mommy someday, somehow, some way.

If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. ~Flavia Weedn

Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well. ~ Buddha

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday. ~Author Unknown

You can contact her at


Christinie said...

I am so sorry! I had a ruptured ectopic that almost killed me and took my tube then 6 months later lost my baby at 16weeks 6 days and then 3 months after that lost a baby at 5 weeks 5 days. I have a 19 and a 3 yr old. I did fertility drugs/IUI/IVF etc etc for 10 years after my 19 yr old was born, then gave up and had my 3 yr old by chance at age 37 and then had ALL the losses. My prayer for you is to not give up HOPE! I will be praying for you!

Carolyn said...

I am so sorry! We also have no living children. We lost our son to s/b in 2004, then endured 11 IUIs and 1 IVF because 2 idiot fertility drs told me I was "old" and for 3 years I fought with them to test my husband (he's morbidly obese.) He had his first ever normal semen analysis (once the problem was discovered 2.5 years into a misdx of "unexplained secondary infertility") and I was pregnant at 40! It was a miracle! I had been off Letrozole for just one cycle. Our miracle turned into a nightmare when we found out that our daughter had Trisomy 13 Femara has been linked to birth defects and some successful lawsuits prior to 2005. Their website warns BIG TIME about not TTC while using it. It's a breast cancer drug used off label for fertility). Of course my dr admits no culpability, but I do wonder because of the info sheet I got from the specialist about holoprosencephaly, another condition our baby had. She had no chance. I woke up every day what turned out to be 15 weeks from the day of the dx (June 2, 2009) until her stillbirth on 9/10/09 at 34 weeks.

I wish I could say that all stories have "happy endings", but sometimes you just have to deal with the reatlity of prayers that will go unanswered despite how wanted the child is, what awesome parents a couple would be, how much they've already suffered etc. You just have to decide how many turns you'll go on the cosmic slot machine before closing the door and moving on.

Art & Yashmin said...

Hi Jess, sorry to hear about your rough road. You're not there yet, keep on trucking!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of your losses. I agree it takes two lines or three little words {you are pregnant} to fall in love.

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