after miscarriage · grief and loss · Infertility · iui · pregnancy loss · sermon takeaways · trying to conceive

The valley of “should be”

I can’t help but think about the fact that today I should be halfway through my pregnancy. We should already know our baby’s gender, we should be planning for baby showers and where to fit a crib in our apartment…I should be starting to show and…and…and…

I thought when my period came a few weeks ago that things clicked into place and that I was ready to be okay again. In some ways, I have been; I’ve at least been able to be productive and not zone out in front of the TV for hours on end (see previous post).

But every time I see a baby I want to cry. Every time I hear about another pregnancy it’s a gut punch. Every day of my cycle feels like it’s another day closer to be reminded of failure; because at this point I really don’t have a whole lot of confidence that we’ll be able to conceive completely naturally.

I’m just so tired of this being all consuming. But I honestly don’t know how to think about anything else.

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On a separate note, at least things are in process again with infertility treatments. It was super stressful for a couple weeks; I was beginning to be afraid that our new insurance wouldn’t be accepted anywhere (though technically I didn’t even know enough about our plan to get accurate information from any of the clinics I called).

But after a bunch of phone calls and (unnecessary) stress…I was able to switch our insurance ‘group’ to the one that is accepted at the clinic where our previous RE already works. I’m very hopeful that because she knows us she will just let us jump right in to another round of IUI with my upcoming cycle and not make us go through all the testing again; though if it’s a matter of getting insurance to cover things maybe she’ll still have to. I don’t know. I’m just grateful to be able to go back to her; it’s a small blessing in all of this.

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I’ll close with a couple reflections from one of my pastor’s recent sermons. He just finished going through Psalm 23; and the sermon on verse 4 (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”) had some especially helpful observations.

First was just the quote that he started with…an ancient proverb or something. “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.” Enough said about that.

He also pointed out the following observation, something I’d never noticed before. The first three verses of the psalm refer to the Lord as “He.” (he leads me, he restores…etc) After the valley…after the first part of verse 4, David refers to the Lord as “you.” (“You are with me, you prepare, you anoint…). Walking through the inevitable valleys of life deepen our relationship with our shepherd and make it personal. We’re not just sheep being herded around…we are children walking through life with a father who pursues us with goodness and mercy. (that was in today’s sermon; the word for follow in verse 6 actually can be translated as “pursue.”)

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And as I pondered a title for this post I realized that the whiny first part is it’s own type of valley…so I guess I need to actually take what I just shared to heart. Hopefully it encourages someone else but apparently I also needed to be reminded of it again.

after miscarriage · appointed time · grief and loss · Infertility · pregnancy loss

It’s not just our testimony

I read something last night that was really profound; and at least for the moment has pulled me out of my funk just a little bit.

Found a series of ‘letters’ on a blog while browsing Pinterest and what I discovered in the one written to “my future mom self” was this gem.

“I know you always imagined what an amazing testimony you would have one day, but it wasn’t just for you. It was for your children too. Because of their story, they will never doubt God as their Savior and King.”

That stopped me in my tracks. This journey of struggling to conceive and of now multiple pregnancy losses is only making it more and more evident that any children we may be blessed with are perfectly timed and perfectly planned by God.

And that’s not just for my husband and I to be able to say, “look at God’s faithfulness and goodness in what he did in our lives.” It’s so we can tell our precious children that not only were they wanted and prayed for and that they are loved by us more than they can imagine…but that God in his sovereignty has chosen them and has a very specific purpose for them that involved them coming into the world at the exact time they did.

I guess in light of that it’s a little harder for me to be angry that baby ‘waterbear’ was not that child. I can still be sad, and I still will be for a long time…but I think there’s a little less anger now and I can start rebuilding my trust in God’s faithfulness.

(Disclaimer: obviously God has a purpose for every life. Every child is ordained by him and is equally valuable in his eyes. I’m not discounting that. But it seems that this truth should sink a little deeper and feel a little more tangible for a child who comes after loss and after infertility.)

Link to article: https://www.in-due-time.com/fertility/a-letter-to-my-future-mom-self/

D&C · grief and loss · missed miscarriage · pregnancy loss

On D&C

(Post contains sensitive content)

I elected to have a D&C for my missed miscarriage. My rationale for this decision was mainly that I didn’t want to wait it out and deal with the emotional toll of being pregnant with a baby that had died (and potentially the surprise of things starting at an inconvenient time in my workday) and then having to go through the trauma and pain of watching my baby be born; and I was concerned that taking medications to induce at home would include all the above elements (except the surprise) and that I could risk it being incomplete and having to have a D&C eventually anyway.

I went in under the assumption that I would be sedated…which would essentially eliminate most of the pain and the trauma. In light of this assumption, I didn’t eat anything all day (which will play into the story later).

Our particular health care network does not typically do D&C’s under sedation. I did not know this. I suppose I could have changed my mind yesterday when I found it out during the initial evaluation, but we were already there, we’d already taken time off work, and I guess I figured maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.

———-

I cried a lot on Thursday. It suddenly got very final; obviously now I’ve known for a week that the baby is gone and the pregnancy will not continue. But reading up on ways to prepare for the surgery made it real and I began to grieve anew the loss of the baby that we had wanted so badly.

I cried a little more on Friday morning for the same reasons; just not wanting to go through with this but also knowing it was the best option since what I really didn’t want to go through had already happened.

We made it to the first appointment, the ‘pre-op’ appointment. Blood pressure check, then a repeat ultrasound to confirm the status of the baby. No change. No hidden twin that decided to show up healthy on another side of the uterus (the tiniest sliver of hope). Doctor reviewed our options again, then explained the procedure. She starting talking about having to take some norco an hour beforehand for the pain; then explained that she’d numb me ‘down there’ and give me an additional shot just before. I then realized that it wasn’t being done under sedation. I confirmed this with the nurse as well. But again, we were already there so we proceeded.

We were sent down to the pharmacy to collect cytotec (to take immediately), norco, and doxycycline (both to be taken about an hour before). I started sobbing again as I held the cytotec in my hand; just not wanting to actually have to start the process of making my body deliver this precious baby.

We waited around outside for a couple hours; I started to get pretty uncomfortable once the cytotec kicked in and I felt a gush of fluid the first time we got up to change seats.

We returned to the office; I was taken back again for a repeat blood pressure and the shot of toradol. I asked if my husband could come in with me (as I wasn’t going to be sedated I really wanted to have him there) and the nurse said we’d have to ask the doctor. While waiting for them to prep the room, the tears started again. They didn’t stop until well after everything was finished.

I was taken back to the procedure room and left alone to get undressed and onto the table. The basin below the table with the red biohazard bag did not help the tears. I just held my hand over my belly and told the baby that I loved it so much.

Doctor came in, and said that my husband couldn’t be in the room. Nobody had even thought to tell him that I was already being prepped and the D&C was starting; I had to ask them to send someone to tell him (he’d basically already figured it out by that point and he was furious at both the lack of communication and their refusal to let him be with me since I had to be awake for it).

It started out mostly just uncomfortable; thankfully the numbing shots were not as bad as I had anticipated. More of my pain was emotional at that point. One of the nurses came over and held my hand, which was very sweet of her. Once the doctor actually started the D&C the pain got really bad. Again, the emotional aspect of hearing and being aware of everything that was happening (without my husband being able to there) did not help my perception of said pain, but it was definitely intense.

Finally it was over and they let my husband come in. He held me and I sobbed for several minutes more.

I got dressed, we went back to one of the exam rooms for discharge instructions. Pain was still pretty bad but improving at that point, so after she finished, we were allowed to leave.

We’d almost gotten home when the pain got really severe again; I think that combined with all the medications and the lack of any food in my system made me really nauseous and I vomited in a cup; I legitimately thought I was going to pass out in the car at that point as well.

Once we got inside I went to the bathroom, almost fainted and almost puked again; then managed to get into bed. My husband tried to get some food in me I was in so much pain I couldn’t even eat or sit up; finally was able to take more norco and naproxen and after another 30 minutes or so the cramping finally eased enough for me to eat (all of which came up an hour later when another round of nausea hit).

By the time our friends came over with dinner, I was feeling a lot better (just super sleepy) and was able to keep some food down and visit with them for a while.

I went back to bed after they left, took one additional norco and a sleeping pill and woke up Saturday morning feeling almost completely normal again.

I still had a couple gushes of blood when using the bathroom overnight, but the bleeding had almost entirely stopped by the end of Saturday and there was no more cramping. Even the intense emotions had subsided some; strangely enough having everything be done gave it a finality that is enabling me (us) to just grieve the loss itself instead of the combination of the loss and the anticipation of the loss. Saturday night I did get pretty sad and tearful again; but I don’t expect those moments to just stop. This was our baby; we loved it, we wanted it, we rejoiced to see and hear it’s little heart beating; and even though it was early it is still an unfathomable loss.

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I wish I’d known ahead of time that I would not be sedated. I also wish I’d known how painful it was going to be without any sedation (and I also think I wouldn’t have had the severe pain/nausea that I did at home afterwards since I would likely have still been in post-op recovery under some degree of sedation). Knowing all that now, I would have likely chosen a different option; I wouldn’t have risked all the possible complications to still have to experience all that pain and trauma and intense grief.

So hopefully this informs someone else; just be sure to find out how your provider typically performs D&C’s before making a decision.

 

 

how to · Infertility · iui · journal entry · Resolution update · trying to conceive

On ‘exciting’

Couple updates before the main content of the post.

  • I gave up on the resolutions. I found I didn’t have the motivation anymore once my cycle started; it was supposed to get me through a cycle and it did, and I’m not sure I want to continue it for now. It definitely helped get some better patterns in place though and I have been reminded of the variety of activities I can use to fill time when I am so inclined.
  • Took my last dose of Clomid today. No significant unpleasant side effects thus far; though I guess it maybe hasn’t started working yet. Had hot flashes one night; and the last 2-3 days I’ve been abnormally tired.

I noticed something at the start of this cycle that irked me. I shared with several people that we were beginning a medicated/timed IUI cycle (as my period had arrived)…and two of the responses (from someone who is currently pregnant and someone who had no trouble conceiving at all) were essentially, “Yay, that’s so exciting!!” 

No, it’s really not. It’s not exciting to be disappointed again, it’s not exciting to have to pursue assistance with getting pregnant. It’s not exciting to anticipate going on hormone meds with potentially nasty side effects; to anticipate having to go be inseminated at the doctor’s office just to increase our chances (not even a guarantee!) of conception.

I wanted to respond with, “oh yeah, it’s the best; isn’t it a bummer that you haven’t had the opportunity to do it too?” 

See, getting pregnant is exciting. Hearing the heartbeat is exciting. Getting to start decorating the nursery is exciting. Having a baby is exciting. Starting an IUI cycle? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m so grateful that we have the resources to pursue this option right now. I’m hopeful that it’s just this little boost we need to finally make a baby.  But I’m also sad that we have to, and very afraid that the disappointment if it doesn’t work will be worse than all the ones before it.

As an aside; my mom and my sister responded much better to the initial news. My mom’s text was, “I’m sorry, that’s not what we were hoping for….are you feeling peaceful about this next step?” My sister echoed the apology, asked how I was holding up, and then when I shared the above ‘exciting!’ responses, she says, “yeah, careless choice of words; it’s emotional, heavy, and little (big) glimmer of hope to you.” 

I guess what I (re) learned here is that it is so important not to assume you know what others are feeling. Just ask them. Don’t project your emotions onto a situation; and realize that by doing this you risk simplifying a complicated emotional reaction. And this doesn’t just apply to infertility; though it’s my journey right now so I’m rather focused on that aspect.

 

Infertility · iui · journal entry · trying to conceive

It’s not a competition..

but I’m sorry…it kind of is. At least in the sense of being able to sympathize.

For the purpose of this post:

  • Sympathize: feel sorry for someone because you understand that person’s problems. Requires you to have experienced the same thing.
  • Empathize: choosing to feel the same things the other person is feeling. Does not require you to have experienced what they have.

I know that no matter how long someone tried, anything longer than immediately getting pregnant can feel like ages. I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s journey…I’m not living in their story (see previous post) and I don’t know how hard even just those few or several or eight months were for them.

But for heaven’s sake; if you are talking to someone that you know has struggled to conceive longer than you have/did, acting like you know exactly how they feel because “we tried ____” is just infuriating.

My sister-in-law likes to over-dramatize their struggle to conceive. She also has a tendency to make it longer than it was; technically they started trying February of last year (it takes time to regulate after a miscarriage) and they conceived in late July/early August. By my count, 7-8 months. She talks about how they tried for 9 months and that it was ‘the worst’ and thereby implies that therefore she understands exactly how we feel. I want to say, “No, you don’t.  We’re going on 15-16 months, and looking at pursuing IUI if this cycle isn’t successful. That is not the same as 8 months.” And granted, the fact that she’s pregnant right now doesn’t help the situation, but the attitude is getting under my skin.

It’s one thing to empathize. To say, “Wow, that must be so hard; I know what I felt trying for ____ months and I can only imagine that those feelings are so much greater when you’ve been trying longer; would you want to tell me more about what it’s been like for you.” It’s quite another to attempt to ‘sympathize’ and to equalize your journey (that has ended) with the ongoing and longer journey of someone else.

They are not the same. 

I don’t pretend to know how it feels to try for longer than I already have. I don’t pretend to know how it feels to experience failed IUI treatments, to go through IVF, to miscarry again and again, to be told that there is nothing more that can be done. I can take my current experience and try to understand some degree of that pain, but I wouldn’t ever attempt to equalize my infertility struggle with someone who has gone through some or all of those things.

Maybe in a year I’ll be closer to sympathizing with some of the above. Hopefully not. But if not, I will make every effort to support those walking longer, harder journeys by simply allowing them to hurt and share their stories without attempting to make our journeys the same.

 

 

appointed time · Infertility · journal entry · trying to conceive

On bitterness

I found something out this week that made me feel very bitter. I had to have a long talk with God about it to even start to come to a place where I can be at peace with the situation. In the event that this blog somehow does not remain anonymous I cannot share any more than that. I wish I could, but what I found out is not my story to tell. I’ll touch on that again at the end of the post.

I went through the list of things I know to be true; then proceeded to have it out with God for the ‘unfairness’ of it all (which turned into a general meltdown about being so worn out from this journey of infertility and just crying out that frustration and pain). Then I cycled back to the initial truths and let them ruminate a little, and this is what it boils down to.

1) Blessings from God are not dependent on our behavior. Thank goodness for that; if it was, none of us would have anything good. We’re all pretty broken and rotten…my very bitterness and negativity already merit some degree of punishment. We may not understand why God chooses to give blessings to certain people who have done ______, and we may not understand why God doesn’t give us certain blessings when we have done ______, but at the end of the day; any blessing we are given is God showing his grace to us.

And I of all people should know that to be true. I was ashamed to realize that if it came down to not deserving something because of a previous action or decision…I should not be married right now. I rushed into my first marriage, disregarded my parent’s wisdom, and ended up getting divorced. Yet I got a second chance, I was given so much grace…and have been blissfully married for 17 months to a man who is everything I could have ever imagined. But some people, especially those who may still be waiting on their first love, may look at my story and think, “seriously? She gets that? Look what she did!”

2) I am only living in my story. I don’t get to know all the details of everyone else’s. I kept thinking of something Aslan says to Shasta in the Chronicles of Narnia…in fact, it’s so succinct and appropriate that I probably won’t even say much else. Shasta wants to know why Aslan wounded Aravis earlier in the story, this is the response. I imagine he says this very gently and kindly, but also in a no-nonsense, firm tone.

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

And honestly, we won’t even get to know all of our story until it’s done. How silly am I to think that I would ever be given the inside scoop on someone else’s. I can’t know what’s going on inside their heads or hearts; and I am not privy to what God is choosing to work on in their lives. If I truly believe that his timing is perfect, that doesn’t just apply to my story.

So I’m trying to let the bitterness go. I’m trying to rest in how God showered blessings on me when I didn’t deserve them, and letting him gently but firmly remind me that he doesn’t tell me any story but mine.