Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The winding road

We have spent a lot of time driving over the last few months. Our IVF doctor, and our pharmacy for the IVF drugs, are a little over an hour away, one way. We've had consultations, ultrasounds, needed to pick up extra medications, and seemingly a million other drives.

At some point I decided to start thinking about our path to a family as a road. We had started with just two roads to choose from - adoption or my vasectomy reversal. We chose the reversal, and eventually arrived at a sign that it wasn't going to work. It was a signpost, sort of.

It wasn't necessarily final, but it was enough to make us choose a different path, one that might have better success getting us to our final goal - a family of our own. So we chose a new path, starting our IVF journey with hope seasoned with a healthy dose of skepticism. We knew the statistics, we knew our age, and so we liked to think we had a chance, albeit a small one, to still have children naturally.

At some point I got it into my head that it was all going to work. I couldn't have told you why, as it made no rational sense, but I just knew it was going to work. I think it first hit me when we were doing injections, right after Christmas. I could see the future, and it had twins of our own. The days went by with 2 and then 3 injections a day. R stood tall through all the pain and discomfort, and we made it through. Then there was the waiting, the interminable waiting, for each step in the process. First the blood test. Of course it was positive, I knew it would be. Over 500 hcg - must be twins, I thought. Sure, nothing I found online would make the positive correlation, but I knew. I'm not religious in the slightest, but I had faith like I've never had before. Then the ultrasound. Twins. When I first saw the two sacs on the screen, I just smiled to myself - it was exactly what I knew it would be. For all the time that I had spent trying to convince R that it was all going to work out, I felt like I had vindication. Sure, there were problems, as R was bleeding, but the doctor didn't seem concerned, and said to expect more bleeding. So nothing to worry about - it was all going to be exactly as I envisioned it.

When R called out to me from the bathroom this weekend, there was something extra in her voice. She was worried, I could tell. She'd been worried through much of the past week, of course, but this sounded different. There was the call to the nurse, then more driving to get to the hospital. Even during that drive, I thought to myself that it was all going to work out, it was just clots coming out as the doctor had said. Nothing to worry about. I still had faith.

And then it all came to a crashing stop. I will never, as long as I live, forget the sight of one of our babies of only a little over 7 weeks in R's hands. Her pain, the agony she must have felt as only a mother can feel, I can't even imagine. She's the toughest person I've ever met, and she confirmed it twice that day as she held our two hopes in her hands. I've never felt so empty as that evening. Nothing in the house had changed, it was the same as it was when we left that morning, but everything had changed. My vision was gone, and all I could see was darkness.

We're fortunate, though, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. First, we have each other and our family and friends to get us through. We know it's possible for us to get pregnant together, which is no small thing. We have enough money to try one more time to head down a new road, to put ourselves through the process, to have the hope to create children of our own.

I thought to myself over the last few days that maybe as we head down this next road I won't have the same conviction, that I won't be able to stay positive, that I'll expect the worst. At the end of the day, though, it's just who I am. This time I'll know to take each day as it comes, because there are no guarantees. I'll be thankful for every good thing that happens to us, and even if it doesn't work out the way I foresaw, the way I dreamed and hoped it would, we'll still have each other and we'll still have other roads that we can travel to get to our family.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What a difference a day makes

To cut a long story short, we have lost both babies. It's been an emotional few days, and will probably continue to be so for a while. Having had bleeding episodes on Saturday and Wednesday, this Saturday morning I started bleeding again, only this time it was different.

On Wednesday we saw our OB and got to have another ultrasound. They found two healthy hearts beating and sizes were good, however the size of my "bleeding area" or "Subchoronic Hemorrage" had grown. We talked to our midwife and she assured us there was really nothing we could do but watch and wait, and that this happens sometimes but good outcomes happen a lot.

On saturday morning we got ready to go out and meet a friend of ours at Freeport. Before we left however I started bleeding again, but this time I passed a large (very large) clot. B called the midwife and she asked us to come into the ER. By the time we got there I was bleeding heavily, in a lot of pain and passing lots of large clots. Before the Dr or midwife even arrived i'd passed one of the babies, a sight I hope to never have to see, or experience again. In a fog the midwife came in and prepared me for a pelvic exam. She saw my cervix was partially open and confirmed I was in the middle of a miscarriage. By this time my pain had got better and we were given the option to go home and wait or to have an ultrasound and potential D&C. I went for the later, more for the ultrasound than D&C, as I wanted to know what was going on in there.

We were taken down to the ultrasound once the on call tech got there (within 15 minutes, we were impressed). To our shock one baby was left, and the heart was still beating, though slower than it should have been. It's sac was compressed as well, and my entire uterus was clotted and filled with blood. Though it was a high to see the heartbeat, what was inevitable was obvious. While there was still a heartbeat I couldn't do a D&C, so we went home. Within minutes of arriving home I was in excruciating pain. The second baby was passed shortly after, along with more large ugly clots. I kept passing clots all that day, though the pain did start to fade and the bleeding started to slow by sunday.

I'm still emotionally lost, after all this work, effort and not to mention cost, we're left with nothing. From such joy a week early, to such pain. We're both ready to move on though, we're just figuring it through but are hopeful we can swing another IVF round. I don't want to wait, I know some people need time, but that would be worse for me, i'm not getting younger and with our issues the longer we wait the harder it'll be to realize having a family of our own. The longer i'm made to wait, the more anxious and stressed i'll become. It's not that i'm not mourning the loss of two, healthy, babies to something neither of us expected (if anything I was ready for a chromosome issue to take one or both of them, but not this), I am, I was ready, we were ready, we were thinking home improvements and double cribs. But we need to move on rapidly, especially since I might be out of a job at the end of the year, making expensive IVF treatments an impossibility on any salary I might pick up outside of Academia.

We'll see our OB to get an ultrasound to show everything is gone, and see the IVF clinic sometime this week to discuss next steps. I'm scared as I felt so fortunate to have IVF work on the first round, can that really happen again? Unless money falls from above, we've only got one more round in us.

Saturday 15th February we said goodbye to our 8wk old twins. We'd only known them for two month, and seen them a week earlier, but loved them no less.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paging Dr. Google

Well, with the ups and downs that we've gone through in the past week, it's hard to find your footing and set reasonable expectations for how we're doing, how our pregnancy is going, and what to expect next. 'Dr. Google', as we refer to the idea of searching for any and all information you can find, has been both a blessing and a curse.

It was a blessing because when R started bleeding this past weekend, I was able to find other folks online who essentially said 'yep, I bled a lot, but I have a beautiful baby now - hang in there!', which gave me hope that an ongoing and successful pregnancy was still at least possible, even if it might not be probable.

Of course, it can be a total curse because every time you search for symptoms, you find the tragic stories of folks who had very similar sounding symptoms who lost their baby.

Since the internet is what it is, it can be hard to figure out which outcome is more likely, and so I decided to make today a Dr. Google free day. R is bleeding again, heavily, and I know from past research that may be a bad sign, or it may mean nothing at all. Either way, there's not much we can do about it. We have an O/B appointment this morning, so we hope to get more information from a medical professional rather than random folks on the internet... but even that may not reassure us much.

This is going to be a long journey, it appears. All we can do is keep moving forward one step at a time and make the best decisions for us that we can.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The lowest lows and the highest highs

Today we'd been scheduled for our "viability scan". The wait for this day had been longer than the 2 week wait, so much longer. We knew we'd got pregnant from the beta, but was it real, how many were there, and were they growing properly. We'd had a tough few weeks trying to distract ourselves.

And then saturday came around. The excitement of monday had built, we were so close. We'd visited B's parents and were headed home, stopping at Lowes on the way back, talking about baby carriages and names. We'd let ourselves get excited. I got out of the car at Lowes and immediately felt something was not right. A 'gush' came out into the pad i'd been wearing because of the progesterone, so I headed to the bathroom. I was bleeding, a lot. We headed home, just 30 minutes away, B called the Boston IVF on call nurse and I headed to clean up, by this time i'd bled through my jeans and it was everywhere. It also wasn't stopping. The nurse said we should watch and wait, if the bleeding didn't stop to head to the ER. We did a bunch of google searches - some stories saying they got through it, many saying they didn't.

Around 6pm we headed to the ER in Augusta, figuring it was bigger than our small local hospital, so we'd be more likely to be able to get a scan. They took us through to a room and there we waited, watching the olympics on TV, trying not to cry more than I was already. The bleeding had slowed a little at this point, though was still a lot. After nearly 5 hours we headed home, having had an exam but no scan (there was no-one available, so they said to wait until Monday's appointment). My cervix was still closed which was a good sign, but there was so much bleeding, they couldn't rule out miscarriage.

So the wait for this morning was made even longer. Our friend A arrived on Sunday morning in her PJ's just to sit with me and keep us company as soon as she heard. We couldn't have asked for a better support person. This morning we arrived at Boston IVF in Portland at 9.30. Waited ten minutes and went in to get our scan.

Amazingly, the news was good. Two sacs appeared, followed by two hearts beating. Both the right size, both beating the right beats. A large "bruise" was seen in my uterus, the source of the bleeding, but apparently of no harm to the babies inside. We'll go for another scan next week to be sure, but all is looking well. We cried, we hugged. An emotional day. We have a long way to go, but are so happy.