365 days

It has been a year since we have been serious about getting pregnant. We have actually been trying for longer – we lost Grey in March and started trying at the end of May 2017 and went to see a fertility specialist a year ago. One morning, a month or so after Grey had passed we were driving to breakfast and Stacy asked me if I was crying the night before as we were laying in bed to sleep, “yes” I replied. A few moments later he said,

“So, are we going to have another baby or what?”

Yes! Yes, so much yes I cried. I had been wanting to talk to him about having another child but I felt like a crazy lady, like- give yourself some time. But also, in the back of my mind, thinking about my age and the reality that we should get started right away – another child would help to heal our aching hearts and fill my empty arms. Nothing became more important to me than giving our Grey a sibling. It was the strangest thing going back to trying to conceive mode, removing my IUD, tracking my cycle in my fertility app, taking prenatal and restarting acupuncture. My acupuncturist gave me a lot of hope, she said I was riding on a wave of hormones that would be good for getting pregnant again. I went back to see the doctor that delivered Grey to make sure that getting pregnant again would be safe and had my blood drawn to check my hormone levels. I wanted to recreate everything I was doing that I believed helped me conceive Grey; eating healthy, fertility smoothies, exercising, having a positive mindset (that one was very tough) even down to the scent I wore and music I listened to (reggae). Looking back, it was a good distraction and gave me something to focus on other than my grief.

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Supplements, tests, acupuncture OH MY – TTC is fun!

Towards the end of August last year I started to get worried about our success in having a baby. I was constantly online reading about TTC over 40 and implemented every bit of baby making voodoo I thought could possibly help us. I decided to make an appointment with a fertility clinic to see what they had to say about our chances. When I was driving to my first appointment I got to the off ramp to the clinic and instantly started crying, I couldn’t control it. I entered the facility and let me tell you, my visit with them didn’t help the tears, in fact, when I left it felt like they pushed me off a cliff and yelled, “good luck ya old hag” after me. It was the worst. But, still we decided to follow through with treatment. I read that one can improve egg health in 90 days by eating right and taking an array of supplements. So, for the following 90 days (and subsequent days) I have pretty much been a pillar of health, full of supplements, alcohol free and caffeine limited. I wanted to make sure that if we were going to go through with IVF that I was giving myself the best possible chance by being as healthy as possible. We still tried on our own every month but it just wasn’t working out for us, it was devastating. We started our first, and only, IVF cycle in January 2018.

I am not going to sugar coat it- our IVF cycle was a complete disaster. I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve which is terrible for any woman and awful if you are over forty. My RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) suggested protocol was a mini IVF where I take less medication than a traditional IVF cycle because she predicted that I would produce the same amount of follicles on less medication as I would if I took traditional IVF medications. OK I thought, I am going to trust in the process and go with what my RE suggests. At my follicle scan I had 3 – two good-sized ones and a third smaller follicle. At my second scan the third follicle had not gotten to the size she wanted and she suggested that we flip to an IUI. I told her that I wanted to discuss with Stacy and I would get back to her. When I called her back she said that I should go in for a third scan the next morning to see what growth we got from the follicle over night. When I went in that next morning I told the nurse that I didn’t want to do the scan and I was OK with flipping to an IUI. She said we should just take a look at my follicles and see where they were at and wouldn’t ya know – the third follicle got to the size they were hoping for to move forward with an IVF cycle. I am going to stop and say – this really makes me mad, IVF is a big deal and very expensive. When you are under the age of 40 they give you package deals – some even let you pay in advance for a guarantee that you will take home a baby. If you are over 40 you get no deals, you have to pay full price for everything. Each decision that is made has to be a good one and this was not the right choice.

When we went in for our egg retrieval the RE sat next to me and said, “We can get 3, 2, 1 or 0 eggs today.” Um, excuse me – where does zero eggs come from?! Not getting any eggs was never discussed as a possibility prior to the retreival. She then said it was weird that my 3rd follicle got to the right size. What?! In my mind I thought that I was there for a reason and told myself that we will get a good result. The doc then asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to while they put me under, reggae of course, Bob Marley. When I woke up I saw Stacy sitting next to me and the first thing I asked was how many eggs we got.

One.

We retrieved one egg, I was devastated and immediately started crying. You want as many eggs as possible and I just couldn’t believe we went through all of that for one chance. Stacy was so wonderful and positive, he did his best to make me see the good in what we had. The next day they called us to say that our egg fertilized with no issues and that they would call us in 3 days and let us know if the embryo survived and divided enough to transfer back to me. On day 3 our egg divided to a 5 cell embryo and they said that we should transfer it back to me. We went in for the procedure and when we left they called me “PUPO” – pregnant until proven otherwise.

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Blowing kisses to my 3 follicles, our one embryo, the dreaded two-week wait.

You are then sent on your way and they tell you to take a pregnancy test in 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS! Guys, that is like forever when you think you might be pregnant but yet, still have to wait to see if you are. If you know me – you know that IVF did not work for us. Two weeks later I took a home pregnancy test and it couldn’t have been more negative. We were crushed.

I tried to look at the positive things that we learned while we were thinking about what we would do moving forward.

  1. I have eggs
  2. Our egg fertilized on its own
  3. Stacy has super sperm
  4. All my other hormones and levels are normal

We had enough money saved to complete 3 IUI cycles and decided to go that route. When April rolled around we had made it past the anniversary of losing Grey and I just prayed and asked God to please help us, haven’t I suffered enough? I pleaded. I am ready, my heart is open and I am so ready to be a mommy again.

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Getting real serious about timing, more follicles, hope and prayers.

After 3 failed IUI and 2 medicated timed intercourse cycles I just couldn’t let it go. Does my body really have some sort of internal clock that knows that I turned 40 and it is now somehow impossible to have a baby? I got pregnant naturally at 39.8 years old, why can’t I get pregnant again?! I researched on the internet and found that my fallopian tubes could have been damaged during my c-section so I asked my RE to give me a hysterosalpingogram, or HSG test to check if my tubes are clear. We discovered that my right fallopian tube is completely blocked. I mean, seriously….WHY WASN’T THAT TEST ORDERED MONTHS AGO? I had to take that day off of work to come to terms with the results of the test, because…my right ovary is my super producer. During one of my cycles I had 4 follicles on the right another time I had three and another I had two. For two of my cycles I had nothing on the left side and others, just one. All of that time and energy spent and I feel like it was for nothing. I know we would have made different decisions if we had this knowledge months and months ago. With our finances dwindling, continuing with treatments does not feel like it will get us our baby and it is time to move on to other options.

Stacy and I had already started looking at other options on how to bring a child into our lives. I must admit that I am coming to terms with the fact that my biology will likely not be in the equation and that is hard, it’s just very hard. But then I think of all the things I have been waiting to do with my child, sometimes my heart feels like it will burst with the love that I have to share. I know that whatever is decided we will be ok as soon as that little soul enters our lives.

I would love to connect or hear from other moms that have taken alternate routes to parenthood, please leave me a comment or send a message.

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You made me the happiest mama in all the land, I love you ~March 4, 2017~

 

 

Grief

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
— Washington Irving

I woke up the other day and as I was laying in bed I was thinking, if I don’t start my period today I will take a pregnancy test, Stacy and I have been trying to conceive for 13 months. We had been getting fertility treatments (more on that process later) and I decided to take a month off, to give my body some time away from the medications. Maybe I will be one of those stories– the woman who gets pregnant after fertility treatments stop?! Maybe it will be like when I found out I was pregnant with Grey, no real symptoms, just not starting my cycle and hoping pregnancy was the reason?! I thought–don’t get too excited. I went to the bathroom and there it was, old aunt flo. Damn, damn, damn! I laid back in bed and I thought that I don’t have to cry about it, I have been through this before. But, yeah – that didn’t happen.

 

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“Melancholy”  by Albert György

 

I spent most of the day crying and wondering why? Why won’t my body give me another baby? Having trouble conceiving after loss adds another layer of intense grief to my every day pain. At first, I was so hopeful that we were going to give Grey a sibling. But, as time continues to pass and my time away from Grey gets longer and longer, I am often filled with fear and sadness. We are still trying, I am not ready to give up, but now we are also exploring other options on how to expand our family.

I think about everything that I am missing out on, pretty much daily.  My son should be 19 months old– walking, taking, growing, eating, laughing, falling and playing with his cousins and friends. I should be going on playdates, taking a gazillion pictures and planning fun things for us to do.  We should be lounging at the lake or hanging out at home with the dogs. I should be a over-worked, exhausted and happy mom. Grey was supposed to bring me closer to people. Lately, I feel so far away from everyone and very, very lonely. I get nervous going out into the world, scared to meet a stranger who may ask me if I have any children. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I am not strong enough to ask about or to spend time with the kiddos who are the same age as Grey. Not that I have not been around children, I work with families, I see babies and children every day. I just dreamt so much about my future with Grey and his friends and their mama’s – I am still working through that loss as well.

I think back onto the person that I used to be; happy, fun, a party planner, a positive person, someone who was there for her friends and family. Another loss mom and I were having a conversation about our grief and she said, “it makes you feel so selfish.” Whammo! Yes! She was so right and I felt relief when she said that. It is in my nature to be a giver and, right now, I just don’t have it in me. It is okay to be protective of myself and my emotions. Still, I mourn be the old me, I want to go back to when it was us and Grey and the future. Time feels like it is standing still for me while everyone around me is growing and moving and living.

I wonder sometimes what it is like to be someone who shares their truth more? I admire some of the loss mom’s out there that can share their feelings on social media regularly. Would it make me feel better if I was more like that? I likely can’t change how I share my truth and how often I do it, maybe that will change as time goes on. This blogs helps as it is important to talk about infant/child loss no matter how heavy it feels. Right now, I take things day by day and acknowledge little successes. The way I feel now won’t be the way I feel forever, will it? I think about a future and try to imagine it being happy.

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Be brave

Be courageous

Focus on hope

 

 

 

SIDS

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? I try to think back on what I thought about SIDS prior to loosing Grey and it is hard to remember what I knew or what I thought I knew about SIDS. When I would think of all the potential things that could happen to my son it was not at the top of my list. I remember getting so scared that he would get kidnapped. I stayed up some nights thinking about how could I put a tracking device on him. What if I turned my back for a second at the store or at the park? What if someone was babysitting him and they didn’t have their eyes on him for a few minutes? A babysitter will not love him or worry about him the way that I will. What if he runs behind a car that is backing up or chokes on a toy? How will I keep him safe when we go to the lake? I would think of endless possible scenarios and how I would prevent them from happening.

We practiced all safe sleep practices; have baby in a bassinet by your bed, don’t let baby get too hot, don’t put baby on soft sleep surface– check, check, check. Baby monitor -check. Breastfeed- check. Nothing in the crib with baby while sleeping, don’t let baby co-sleep with parents– check, check. Saying the words, “SIDS prevention tips” makes me crazy and so, so mad. See, the reality is there is NO WAY to prevent SIDS. That is a tough sentence to write and a very hard reality, I question that truth often. How is it even possible? Why does a healthy baby go to sleep and not wake up? The reality of losing your child to SIDS, to not having an actual answer as to why your child died, is incredibly painful. Trust me, I asked all the questions. I made sure that no stone was unturned in figuring out what happened to Grey. When I spoke to the medical examiner on the phone she told me that babies that die from SIDS simply shut off. I asked her if anything was blocking his airway and she assured me that she would be able to tell from the autopsy if something was. She told me that we did nothing wrong and that there was nothing that we could do.

So what is it? Here are the facts….

  • Major cause of death in infants 1 month to 1 year of age, with most deaths occurring between 2 and 4 months.
  • Sudden and silent– the infant is seemingly healthy
  • A death often associated with sleep and with no sings of suffering
  • A recognized medical disorder
  • Determined only after an autopsy, an examination of the death scene, and a review of the infants and family’s clinical histories.
  • An infant death that leaves unanswered questions, causing intense grief for parents and families.

What it is not…

  • Preventable
  • Suffocation
  • Caused by vomiting and choking or by minor illness
  • Caused by vaccines or other immunizations
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • The cause of every unexpected infant death
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The Triple Risk Model

Research that is being conducted to find an answer has several different theories or risks that can lead up to the event. There is the Triple Risk Model as per the above graphic– it is not one thing that will cause a SIDS death but several risk factors that all have to align at the same time. The biggest and most promising research being done is on brain abnormalities in our babies, “infants who die of SIDS may have abnormalities in several parts of the brainstem.” The research also states, “infants were found to have decreased binding of serotonin in the nucleus raphe obscurus { }, as well as four other brain regions.” Basically, a disconnect between the brain the the respiratory system -they stop communicating and breathing stops. Our babies arousal alert system stops and they don’t know that they are in danger. This is why all the emphasis put on the safe sleep campaign rubs me the wrong way. Babies are still dying and, I believe, we are not looking into the other reasons with as much vigor. It is so easy to promote safe sleep, it is simple, understandable and easy to communicate the message. When we start taking about brain abnormalities and the respiratory system it gets difficult to understand and explain. I have learned that 20% of babies that die from SIDS are in child care, was that his outside stressor? The questions can be endless and the heartbreak is tremendous. More money and time needs to be put into research to unlock the mystery of SIDS. Please see the links below for more information.

Research used was taken from Northwest Infant Survival and SIDS Alliance website: What is SIDS (PDF). 

https://www.nwsids.org/

http://sidsguild.org/

https://news.microsoft.com/features/love-aaron-children-may-susceptible-sids/

https://owletcare.com/

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Tummy time – March 12, 2017