… And a Happy New Year to Us

I am so angry at this moment. I feel like throwing everything I can get my hands on, smashing things and crushing them into walls. I took some clothes that are waiting to be ironed out of their basket, whispered profanities to them because it was late in the evening and my husband was sleeping upstairs, and I threw them against the wall as hard as I could. And then I left them there overnight, all dyed and wrinkled, until I rather embarrassingly had to pick them up in the morning. I am so, so angry! I have a rage building up inside me.

As feared, after a horrible beta result—18.1 on 22dpo and 18 on 24dpo—I started bleeding on Monday, which was 27dpo or 5w6d. It is going to be a wonderful year…

I went to sleep that night and woke up a few hours later with horrible cramps. They made me cry and I had to get up to get the strongest painkillers we had. Funny enough, they were leftovers from my miscarriage back in April. It hurt a lot and I barely slept all night. I took the day off and spent it in bed. Meanwhile the hospital had rearranged my appointment to Wednesday, because it was no longer a pregnancy one but a gynaecological one. It is always good to rub it in just a little bit deeper. But at least I was able to see the doctor sooner.

Wednesday came and was terrible to me. My cramps were not that bad anymore. I had a couple of stabs and twinges that stopped me in my tracks, but I felt better. I was nervous to see the new doctor though, scared of what he might say. I arrived in the hospital on my own and well in time because I had to take the bus and wanted to make sure I did not miss my appointment at 12pm. There were ladies with husbands or partners all around me. Some with big bellies, some with new pregnancy booklets and doctor notebooks in their hands. While I was waiting next to two older ladies for our doctor, a couple sat down in front of me with one of those notebooks I am desperately after. They looked complacent, the lady all done up and dressed fancy, the man purposely casually suited, wearing a scarf and his hair all greasy with gel and combed to the back of his head. They were commenting on the time and sighing. The doctor seemed really busy and the appointments ran late. It was about 12.30pm and the lady before me from 11.45am had just been called in when the fancy woman got up, walked in just like that and went to complain to the doctor that she had her appointment at 12.30pm. He told her to wait and she went to sit back down again. The man put his face in his palms and sighed more. I secretly smiled. Serves them right, I thought.

The lady before me got out and said goodbye to me and my heart started racing. I was next, it was my turn. I was the 12pm one. No! Wait… Stop the racing. The couple got in before me. They smiled and got up. Almost forgot their booklet too! 15 minutes later she came out, all smiling and happy, the man in front of her, a school example of conceitedness, aimlessly moving his foot over a spot on the floor while having his hands in his pockets. Assertiveness for the win, right?

Then it was my turn. That heartbeat doubled in a second. I had taken my charts with me. Proof that I am not crazy. Proof of one clinical and five chemical losses. No, I do not want someone saying to me: ‘Maybe you just thought you were pregnant.’ Or that same person asking me after the poor beta result what had to be done, or if I just was not pregnant to begin with. That same person that is now 37 weeks and about to have her baby soon.

The doctor looked at all my charts. He looked carefully. He asked a lot of questions. He sighed at the charts with the positive HPTs as if he was hurting for me. And then he said: ‘I would suggest you stop doing all this for now!’ I looked at him, thinking: ‘What?’ He was serious.

I crashed. In that office. My eyes started watering and there was no way I was able to stop them. And then I cried and apologised like a lunatic the whole time. And he was understanding and nice and everything and I do not even remember more than half of what he said except for phrases that hang in my head and that appear like thoughtbulbs Homer Simpson sometimes has. With a gloomy voiceover. ‘Stop the charting… I am not trying to play this down… Stressing out causes hormonal imbalances… You cannot make a pregnancy… Do not think too mathematical… Do some exercise and try to relax… See me in three months…’

I got out the room and made my way back to the bus, only realising after seconds that I could hardly see. I had been trying to wipe my eyes so frantically inside the room that I had pushed my contacts from my pupils. I burst into a toilet, freaking out and moving my fingers all over my retinas only to find them shoved all the way out in some corners. I still do not know how I managed to get them out.

Once I got home, I crashed even more. I mean bawling like Iris in The Holiday crashing. I went upstairs, gathered all my tests and basal thermometer in a frenzy and chucked everything in the back of the bathroom cupboard. I never felt so alone at that moment. I felt completely abandoned by both hope and science. I still feel completely abandoned. I took the rest of the week off and I have been trying to sleep. Trying to sleep. I am so angry at the world, angry at everything. I have to give up the only controle I have over the one thing I truly want, leave things like that and no one here understands how difficult it is for me. Even if it is supposedly only for a few months. No one here understands how defeated I feel. How angry I am at everything and nothing. Not even my husband does.

What I gather from all this, is that I am to blame for all our early losses. Far worse, it is not my body that is inadequate, it is what is between my ears that is responsible. My every being, my thoughts, my delusions, the thing that makes me me, that is the culprit. I apparently do not have a hostile uterus, I have a corrupting mind.

‘Twas the Perfect Christmas Gift…

When there was no conception in Cycle #7, I started suspecting that for me also, the progesterone supplements postpone menstruation for a couple of days on the cycles where we do not conceive. I tested up until 14dpo and had stark white HPTs, so I decided to stop taking the progesterone as to not postpone menstruation any further. The bleeding started at 16dpo. I had gotten the results back from my blood work and everything was normal, although there still is no result for the lupus coagulans test.

The Wellman Conception tablets I ordered online for my husband came in and I went to a local pharmacy to get myself Omnibiontal Pronatal. I also got evening primrose oil (EPO) in capsules that I wanted to take in my next follicular phase. I read that they can help sort out your cycle and just thought I would give it a go with a small dose. And I ordered Pre-Seed as well. All set for Cycle #8 which started on December 1. With any luck, this should be the best Christmas present ever!

And so it was. I took my prenatals and added 500mg of EPO daily until a positive OPK showed up at cd9. My nipples were getting really sore throughout that day as well, so I knew we had to take action. We used Pre-Seed for three consecutive days. Just like last cycle I ovulated early, on cd11, and I wonder if this is because of postponed menstruation where the main follicle would already start maturing a few days before the bleeding starts since there was no conception anyway, but I cannot find any information about this. I did not want to focus too much on symptoms because now I know how tricky and misleading they can be, but 1dpo was marked by having really sore breasts. Once again, I was convinced I was pregnant and started testing at 7dpo. Utter madness, yes. I know what you are thinking.

I swear I saw something, but it was too dodgy. I blamed my stupid internet cheapies for giving me bad evaporation lines and got quite upset with this cycle. My breasts were getting sore again after subsiding for a few days and then on 11dpo I had a really big crying spell in the evening. It only got worse, so we left the youth band concert we were attending immediately after it finished instead of catching up with friends. I could not for the life of me explain why I could not stop crying that evening and I knew that my husband was worried this journey had taken its final toll on me and that I had completely lost it. He took the emotional mess I was to bed and went to the bathroom to get ready to sleep himself, when suddenly I heard him say: ‘There’s a line on this test!’

I went to check the test I accidentally had left out that morning and there was a clearly visible pink line. Of course that test was dried, so I knew it was more than likely a false positive, but it made me take another one that evening. And there it was, a first BFP on 11dpo. They steadily got darker for days. We were over the moon. On Christmas Eve, 13dpo, we used a Clearblue Digital with conception indicator and it came up with 1-2 weeks pregnant (3-4 weeks from LMP). This Christmas was the best and we felt very good about this pregnancy! On 16dpo I had my first mild, dull cramps. I knew this was different from my other early losses. By this time I had already started spotting with them and I never had the cramps at this stage either.

I decided to take another digital test on 19dpo. It still said 1-2. My IC looked fainter. Panic struck! I cried my eyes out all morning. It did not look good. A second morning urine test revealed a line just a fraction darker then the 18dpo test and some lovely ladies from the twoweekwait.com forum were able to talk some sense into me. It was not over, maybe my first morning urine was very diluted. I was going to wait the next few days out and see if I started spotting, because that has always been the symptom that meant the end of a pregnancy for me. But there was no spotting, no bleeding. There were even more painful breasts, I was still cramping mildly and being very tired. Perfect early pregnancy symptoms. My trips to the loo were horrifying each time and I sighed with relief when I did not see anything on my panty liner. New Year’s Eve was perfect. I felt pregnant, I felt really strong about it and took comfort in a new year, a new fresh start, a new beginning where things would go our way.

I decided to test again on 22dpo. That was yesterday. I had a feeling it was going to be great! I just wanted to see that digital go up to 2-3. But it failed to do so. 1-2 and a much fainter IC. I could not take it anymore and my husband took me to the ER. I was scared of an ectopic. We spent hours waiting and then I had a young doctor give me a vaginal ultrasound which lasted really long and it was rather uncomfortable. She moved the stick around everywhere, even went for an abdominal one and then finally said she could not get a good look at my uterus. She asked if my doctors ever told me I had a tilted uterus. I was dumbfounded! As far as I know, nothing is wrong with the position of my uterus. It has never been mentioned and I have had about six ultrasounds since first trying to conceive. There has always been a clear look and things were very visible. The fact that she could not see anything made me worry even more. I asked about my ovaries and she said things there all looked normal. She added that the ultrasound machine was a small one, so maybe that was the problem?

They took blood for a beta and to check my progesterone levels. I have to go back tomorrow for a second one. They kept my original appointment on January 14 with a gynaecologist that specialises in RPL for what is supposed to be my intake for pregnancy, but I think I will have to call them to change the reason for the appointment. Yesterday shortly after the ER visit, I was still hopeful, but this morning I do not feel good about my betas anymore, even though we do not know the results yet. I think I know where this is headed and I just hope that if things turn out for the worst, I do not have to deal with an ectopic pregnancy.

Mind-tricks by the Body?

Cycle #6 turned out to be a normal ovulatory cycle. It already started quite differently from other cycles in that my flow was full and the brightest red of red. And I had actual menstruation cramps. No dodgy half cramps, almost too dull to be noticed, but painful ones. I felt relieved. It felt normal. Then on CD4 I found a huge clot on the toilet paper. It was over half a golf ball size. I could not believe my eyes. Apart from passing the sac, placenta and tissue during my first miscarriage, I never had experienced anything like this before. I panicked at first, but in hindsight, maybe it was a good thing. Maybe it was the final clearing of my uterus. Autumn cleaning? Or wishful thinking?

For the very first time since my first miscarriage, while testing for ovulation, I had a blazing positive on CD13. Two days in a row. I was so happy I started shimmying in front of the bathroom mirror and yelling out to have a party. I had never had positive ovulation tests with my early losses, I figured my surge was too short and I missed it, even when I was testing two times a day. So evidently, we were very busy the next few days. For a whole while I thought I had ovulated on CD15, but Fertility Friend would not put a crosshair on my chart until CD20, where it marked CD17 as the day of my ovulation. Looking back at it, I still think I ovulated on CD15 rather than CD17. But in the end, it did not really matter, because I had negative HPTs the whole Two Week Wait. The odd thing though is that I was so convinced that I was pregnant. I even had the same pains I remember from my first pregnancy on Fertility Friend’s 11DPO. I was convinced it was implantation pain. Especially because a few hours after, I was spotting brown. Only a few drops. And same thing 12DPO. I felt good about it, but still no positive test. But I was still convinced, and I was calm and relaxed, because I knew it was going to pop up soon enough. But instead, Aunt Flow showed her ugly face. Enter Cycle #7.

I had been tricked. I wonder if I just made up all those symptoms now. If anything that cycle, I was very much disappointed in myself. Or was it just the progesterone supplements finally showing me what they can do to your cycle if you have not conceived. On 14DPO I started spotting again, heavier this time. The day after I had a very light flow, so light I was debating whether to classify it as spotting or menses. But this time around, Cycle #7, I was going to take action. I showed up at my gynaecologist’s private practice on CD2 and he wanted to have a look with an ultrasound. I was still not sure if I was menstruating when we were talking, so when I got ready for the ultrasound and noticed full flow on my pad, I felt really embarrassed. He still wanted to go ahead to make sure nothing was wrong, because after the pain on 11DPO, I started worrying it might have been a cyst. Everything looked perfect, he said. No cysts, no abnormalities. He even showed me two big follicles in my left ovary that were likely to be released soon. I remember I thought they looked really big and ready to burst. (Which is absurd because I have no clue how big mature follicles look like on an ultrasound, of course.) He gave me paperwork for a semen analysis for my husband and blood work for me around 10DPO.

I was taking by surprise with this cycle’s early ovulation though. I had one positive ovulation test on CD10 and probably ovulated on CD11. Maybe the follicles really were big because ovulation would be there soon. Two days ago, my husband’s SA results came back. The count was good, but the motility and morphology were below average. My gynaecologist told me not to worry and said things are doable. I got upset with that term, what does that even mean? My husband took it really bad, he was greatly disappointed with himself and felt very guilty towards me. And so I in turn felt guilty for him feeling bad. We had never thought something might be off on his side. But does it really matter when we were able to conceive so many times and so easily? I have a feeling this one time SA does not really reflect the long-term quality. No one conceives with any of the low motility and abnormal morphology semen anyway. It is still a survival of the fittest in the race to the egg. And I am hoping we caught it this time. And that we caught it good. And that in about 38 weeks, we will be holding our strong and healthy baby.

The Biological Clock at the First Station

I turned thirty-one last Sunday. I am no longer a newbie on the thirty train, I just passed the first station and while some people got off, other people got on. I was supposed to be thirty-six weeks along if my first pregnancy had not been lost and we would have our baby about a month from now. Back in March and April, I remember how I thought about my next birthday and how I would have a belly that was so big, it would look like a balloon that was about to burst. I imagined myself awkwardly walking along, grabbing my back and huffing and puffing, yelling obscenities to everyone to make them slow down. I vividly imagined myself as an almost due character in The Sims. But I would feel so proud. And I could not get my mind off celebrating Christmas while nursing our baby. Sitting next to the decorated tree and marvel at the beautiful being we had created. But he/she will not be there.

We celebrated my birthday on the 20th. We met my close family–grand mum, dad, mum, sister and partner–went to shop and had a nice dinner together. I even got my own name and sparklers on the chocolate cake my husband organized. I love sparklers. It was a great time, but I had this strong feeling of sadness. I did not want my family to see me cry, so I cannot count the times I had to fight back the tears that afternoon and evening. I walked around and shopped as if I was just a spectator, watching myself go into all the shops, feeling like the arm that stretched out to have a closer look at a dress was not mine… I was noticing pregnant women and maternity clothes everywhere. I was seeing young mums push around prams that had tiny hands and feet sticking out. I felt like nothing could get worse, if it already was this bad. Except when I tried to fit myself into some clothes. I would look at myself in the mirror and feel disgusted. I would see my stomach and my tummy and feel super-sized. I would stare at my pimple-ridden face and wonder why in Dickens’ name that acne kept popping up. I would notice the blue veins on my breasts that have been there since August and lose all hope for the validity of any future pregnancy symptoms. I would look deep into my own eyes and think: ‘What a waste!’ And I felt sorry for myself.

I stumbled upon a post written by Sunny from Cease and Decyst and agreed totally. The worst advice you can give someone with infertility problems is ‘try and not to think about it.’ I know my grand mum, my mum and my sister, who all dealt with miscarriage themselves, are just trying to help and be nice about it—The one month I did not think about it at all, is the month I fell pregnant—but in all honesty, it makes things worse for me. How can I not think about it, when it is the one thing I really want? When I put it over career opportunities? When, when people ask me what I would like for my birthday, the only thing that comes to mind is a sticky bean? And when I would not care if they would take everything I own away from me if I could just have a healthy baby. When it is haunting my every being? Every moment of the day. Every single second.

The problem with me, I think, is that the people close to me do not see it as an infertility problem. I fall pregnant every single try, so how can it be infertility related? The other day, I got very upset with my dad, who is a male nurse, when we were instant messaging and he wrote: ‘I think you should just continue to try to conceive for about a year. If you are not pregnant by then, you could get help.’ And later on he added: ‘Maybe they might find something. APS or a blood clotting disorder. Or maybe you are just ‘too fertile.” Too fertile? My body does not make a difference between low- and high-quality embryos and is very good at letting everything implant? Well, that is some consolation!

I am too fertile? Really?

A Big Fat Full Moon

I was sitting down yesterday afternoon, having a rest while working on putting together a chest of drawers for our bedroom and I decided to watch and catch up with one of my guilty pleasures, Up All Night. As the title sequence rolled on the screen, I particularly noticed the part where Reagan and Chris are sitting down on the bathroom floor, looking at each other desperately after having a positive home pregnancy test. This is a TV show, but I still had to laugh. In a sad, bitter way. Because things could not be so much further from the truth in my case. A positive test certainly does not mean having a baby. Five do not either. Twenty? …No.

I have been peeing on a stick since what probably was seven days past ovulation. My cheap One Step sticks I got through Amazon all showed really faint lines, so faint I was sure they were just evaporations. So last Sunday, on eleven days past ovulation and coincidentally a nice big full moon, I decided to pull out one of my FRERs (First Response Early Result) or, as I like to call them, magic wands. Sure enough, not even three minutes into waiting, a line showed up. My heart skipped a beat and then I immediately started crying. Sheer worry. What if we have to go through heartache again? What if we loose it again? What if? My husband held me and kept saying: ‘It’s still early. Let’s see what happens first.’ Keep our feet on the ground. Don’t start floating now.

I gave myself a day off of testing yesterday. I just enjoyed the fact that I had a nice clear line and that I was pregnant. Without worry. If it takes about 48 hours for HCG to double, then I only have to test every other day. I put the positive FRER in the pocket of my sweater and kept it with me all day long. I pulled it out now and then and stared at it with a big grin on my face and then I tucked it away safely again, tapping it gently. I had all of the early pregnancy symptoms plus some extra twinges and pulls in my tummy and my bladder was just full all the time.

And so, this morning, a dreary, grey and rainy day, it was time for another FRER. I thought I was prepared for every outcome. It was going to be okay if the line was fainter. I was prepared. But I had just seen my temperatures, they were high and I was hopeful. I tested and put the FRER in front of me next to the bathroom sink. And then came three minutes of staring without blinking…

Four minutes…

It seemed like eternity and it felt like seconds at the same time.

Five minutes…

Six minutes…

Seven minutes…

Nothing.

There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a hint of a line. Not even the faintest of the faintest lines. And with the emptiness went my hopes. I kept strong at first, because I told myself I was prepared for this. But after I ate the last bit of my breakfast cereal, I crashed. I broke into a thousand pieces. It happened again. It happened again. Did it happen again?

Those Waking Moments

Do you know that moment after you went to lay down in bed and steer your mind to fantasise about the things you want most—when thoughts meander off completely and aimlessly and you suddenly, but very thinly threaded, realise on that last waking moment that you are at peace and things will turn out just fine? Why do we experience it when it feels like nothing will ever be perfect during all the other times of a day? Is it because maybe it eventually will, but we simply do not know yet? And, is that because we need to go through suffering, pain and misery before we can appreciate true happiness?

You fall asleep—even if it is only for a few hours, after which you start tossing and turning. You dwell gloomily and are fed up with yourself for not being able to let go, resulting in insomnia. And just before you are meant to get up and start the day, you slip into the most vivid dream of the night. But are you really sleeping? Or are you once again in that waking moment, which now seems to last much longer and does not give you any peace at all. You find it hard to see the difference between what has been your unconsciousness self through dreams and what have been figments of your conscious imagination.

I get up, have a healthy breakfast and smiling broadly, think: ‘Today is going to be a new start and so much different from the other days.’ I am already contemplating exercising routines and drinking and eating healthy. I am thinking about spending my time doing something productive and as a reward feeling like I accomplished something at the end of the day. But my husband did not even leave the street for work and it becomes very evident that things will just be thought about and not be done. I find comfort in sweets and soft drinks, I sit down all day watching the computer or television screen and sometimes burst out crying. Then I pick myself up and do a chore to convince everyone but me that the day was not completely useless. I throw myself into the couch and think: ‘It’s alright. Today I can wallow. Tomorrow is the new start.’

In the evening I go to bed and I try to manipulate my thoughts to envision better times. I try to talk some sense into myself, ask myself to please try harder. I think about making a difference, I think about our future children. And my busy mind wanders off to things I do not remember the next day, but just before I drift off to crazy dreams that would probably make some people very rich one day, it seeps in: ‘Everything will be alright.’