Beta #2

I thought I’d better update because so many of you have checked on me through Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress.

When you’ve had 4 miscarriages, it’s hard to believe anything could go right. You sort of just assume that bad things are coming and you’re hoping and praying for the best, but so many times before it has ended badly.

I am working on believing the good, I am… but it’s terrifying.  Honestly, I even hesitate to update my blog with this post because I know with every pregnancy announcement or update, it could cause pain to someone still trying. I know that even if I was happy for someone else, it still hurt and I was still reminded of my failures. I’m still like that though. I don’t feel out of the trenches and I’m not sure when I will. Recurrent pregnancy loss is my infertility and I know none of this is guaranteed.

If I even make it that far, here on this blog, there will never be bumpdates, ultrasound pics or adorable bump pictures. Although I understand how this can be a right of passage, especially after infertility, I just can’t. I’ll write another post on this eventually, but for now there will be no unexpected pictures popping up on your feed.

You see.. Although everything could go right, I am also acutely aware that everything could go wrong too. And I’ve been on the painful side of statistics 4 times. Sometimes I cannot even believe I’m still standing when I look back at everything I’ve been through, that I’m still trying, and I’m still smiling.

My first beta on Friday 13dpo came back at 61, my highest starting number so far. Just to give you a reference, my 1st beta never made it above 123, my second beta was so low and didn’t double, my third beta (although we saw a heartbeat twice) I was originally told I was miscarrying after the 2nd blood draw when my beta dropped. My 4th betas were 19 at 14dpo, 29 at 16dpo, and then 62 at 18dpo??. They never quite doubled accordingly and the number always remained low. With the 3rd and 4th pregnancy, I don’t think my numbers ever went above 2,500.

I left for the beach on Monday and although I had made up my mind I wasn’t getting another beta and I was leaving for the beach, I knew the importance of getting my thyroid and glucose checked. So straight from blood work, I headed down to the beach with my niece to meet my SIL and her family.

On the way to the beach in NC, after getting a lovely speeding ticket in VA, I got the call I had been waiting for– my second beta results.

I had already decided that I had no control, I was going to enjoy the beach regardless, and that no matter the outcome, I would eventually be okay. Throughout this whole thing, I’ve truly learned that I’m stronger than I know. Pain I didn’t think I could endure, I have.

The nurse called, I pulled over, and she said, “Congratulations!” I was praying for at least 180. My response though was, “Well, now that depends on the second set of numbers.” She laughed, and told me that my number was 363. I had to ask her to repeat it and again she said, “Three hundred, sixty-three and your progesterone is 21″ she proceeded to say, “Your thyroid is a bit high, so we are increasing your meds, I need the pharmacy number of where you are staying.”

My niece willing looked up my doubling beta time (and was so supportive- I’m glad she came along), which came out at 28 hours and I cried. I don’t know why I cried. Maybe because I actually thought that yesterday I’d find out I would have my 5th miscarriage, or if it was because now I’m in uncharted territory. With uncertainty also comes fear.

I know how much I’ve changed through this process and I can truly see that. The old me? Would have needed another beta and probably another, would have skipped the beach just for more blood work, would have stayed home and worried.

But do you know what? I’m not getting another beta, I’m enjoying the sand and sea, and I’m doing what is best for my well-being. I cannot control a thing and knowing the beta results won’t help. It’ll only cause anxiety. I’ve been here before- the needle sticks, the anxiety over those phone calls from the nurse, and then the endless hours of Googling praying I’ll find a success story just like mine.. I just can’t do it.

So on August 6th, I’ll go for my first ultrasound for my 5th pregnancy, just over a week away. I’m praying I make it that far and I can be pregnant, at least until that ultrasound. I’ve said this before, but every second pregnant is a second I’m grateful for, I know how quickly this can just disappear.

According to my calculations, I’ll be 5wks 4days on US day. Although I know a heartbeat isn’t likely, I’ll know if this pregnancy is off to a good start. I know what to expect. I know what they should see at this point.

So there’s my update. Thank you for all of you the support- those of you in my life that take the time to read my blog and my Twitter, Instagram, and blogging community. Your support and continued prayers are so important to Tony and I. I’m grateful for every text, private message, and comment. Thank  you for giving me strength. I know no matter how this turns out, we will be okay.

 

 

 

 

A Much Needed Distraction

Sometimes I think back to three years ago, when I got that first positive pregnancy test. I had not a care in the world and I was full of hope and planning our future. I had everything mapped out in my head, I had our boy and girl name picked out, our nursery pinned to my secret board, and we even started going to yard sales. I remember the excitement. Things were so different.

Today? I don’t have a darn thing planned. It’s literally one hurdle at a time- one day to the next. Every second pregnant I’m thankful. The only guarantee is right now. All I have is this moment and to me, this moment is everything.

I’m full of anxiety, but also full of peace. Complicated I know. You see, I know how quickly things can change and how different things can be.. my world can be turned upside down in a matter of seconds. But strangely, I feel at peace. I can’t control anything and that’s just the way it is. Yes, I wish things were different, but this my reality.

So, I’ve been doing my best to distract myself. Instead of avoiding the world and living in constant fear. I’m keeping busy and keeping plans and surrounding myself with those that care about me.

Today turned out to be a lovely distraction from my worries. My sister and two very good friends joined me for a Coloring Canvases for a Cause fundraiser.

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It was to benefit our local Share, as you know an organization I hold close to my heart. We spent the afternoon painting flowers and we had a great time.

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My finished painting

 

Here are our 4 paintings! So fun!

 

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Our paintings

 

If you’ve never done one of these classes, you should. I promise you, you’ll love it.

Tomorrow I’ll pack for the beach and do my best to distract myself, but thankfully I have a lot to do. Thank you all so much for your kind messages and prayers on my blog, Twitter, my Facebook page, and through texts. It’s truly giving me strength.

When a Negative turns Positive Twice..

**IF sisters- triggers in this post. Thinking of you. If you’re having a rough time, skip this post. I’ve been there.

 

 

Yesterday morning I wrote a post that will sit in my drafts folder. I have many posts that I sometimes write that turn out to be just for me.  I got a negative test yesterday morning and so I wrote a post I was going to publish today.

A few things I wrote:

  • A negative test still stings but it’s not a miscarriage. A BFN is predictable, doesn’t require physical healing, and is an easier hurdle for me to clear.
  • I wrote about how positive tests are terrifying because there is so much unknown about it and although I was ready for a positive, it was okay that it didn’t happen just yet.
  • I’m trusting His plan for our battle. I’m accepting His timing for us.

I planned on posting that draft today after I got my beta… with my negative result. Only yesterday afternoon that negative turned positive. I took quite a few tests and..

ALL POSITIVE. The digital even said YES.

I texted a few IF sisters (thank you for being there), called a close friend and drove to therapy. I cannot even begin to tell you the emotions that you experience after four miscarriages seeing that positive result for the 5th time. I felt stronger leaving therapy and content that what will be, will be.  And that there was nothing I could do to change the outcome.

I left with a sense of empowerment. I’m so glad I chose a Christian therapist because she asked me some hard questions that eased my worry. I had accepted that my negative was now a positive and that this was beyond my control. I cannot stop something bad from happening. And my track record? I’m still here, stronger than I’ve been in a long time.

Then I woke up this morning (beta day) and took my last digital and FRER. I wish I would have just waited for the beta. The digital said, “NO” and the FRER was lighter. Anyone that knows anything about HCG knows that in the morning it should have been darker, but it wasn’t.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t even wake Tony. I just went back to bed and talked to God for a while. No, I don’t think that by talking to God he’ll somehow save my baby if this pregnancy isn’t going well. I used to think that. I don’t think if I just pray more, I’ll get a baby (although I do believe in the power of prayer, but we don’t always get what we want. We just don’t). It doesn’t quite work like that, but I did pray for peace and strength. And do you know what? I know I will get that.

I did think I was out this cycle and I’d have to wait for my body to miscarry naturally. Only, my beta was 61. I’m 13dpo and my RE likes to see anything over 50 at 14dpo. My progesterone is 21 and he doesn’t like it going below 10.

So my numbers? They’re good, at least for now. They need to double every 48-72 hours and the doubling is what matters.

The plan? I tried to get out of a Monday morning beta, but they assured me that it’s not so much the beta that’s needed, but the thyroid test and glucose blood test. So, I’ll head to the beach with my SIL and her family. I know by going to the beach with them, I’ll be surrounded by love and faith.  I’m grateful.

I don’t how this will end, but I sure hope it’s in March/April sometime with a healthy baby in our arms. But what I do know, is I’m okay right now and no matter what, I’ll be okay. Thank you for all the positive thoughts, texts, Facebook messages, and prayers.

Our Roller Coaster: Get the Heck On!

I had lunch with a friend a few weeks ago. She reached out to me after I shared my blog publicly because years prior she had quite a struggle of her own. I won’t share her story here, it’s not my place. But I can tell you, I’m grateful for her kindness, compassion, and support.

But during our conversation, she said so much that got me thinking about my own battle. She hadn’t told anyone when she was going through a tough time and when a family member found out, she said, there was not enough room on her roller coaster.

You know, she’s right. Especially with infertility, where we all sort of handle this very differently and it’s not ever talked about. I’m not judging her and always feel that coping with anything is very individual. I’ve learned to never apologize for how I’m handling this. I’m doing the best I can and I think we all are.

Some choose to tell everything, while others tell some details to a trusted few, and some never tell a soul. I can tell you that all of these ways of coping are okay. Again, everyone handles it differently and that doesn’t make one way better.

Her roller coaster comment got me thinking about where I stand though. How many people do I have room for on my roller coaster? Well, after a lot of thinking, I’ve decided that anyone who wants to can get the heck on.

This battle is full of hope and disappointment. There has been so much Tony and I have had to deal with and we didn’t let very many people in. And maybe at that time, there was not enough room on the roller coaster. But we were alone.  We were trying to figure it out for ourselves, and do you know what? We still are. We don’t have everything figured out and we don’t know what’s next, but that doesn’t mean we have to be alone.

 

Tony and I made the decision to come out about this struggle for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we don’t think we should have to do this alone. We know there are a lot of people that care about us and it’s not fair to push them away.

So, yeah get on the roller coaster. We greatly appreciate your prayers and support.  Honestly, it feels nice to not be alone.

Welcome to our roller coaster- Here’s where we stand in our cycle:

As you know from my previous posts we were able to do the HCG trigger shot, which was great news. But I was a little uneasy that we triggered so soon in the cycle and my estrogen levels were hesitant to climb. But my RE didn’t seem too concerned about that, but in an ideal world my body would respond well. However, in an ideal world I guess I wouldn’t even need these injections, would I?

The plan this time was to add HCG booster shots after ovulation (along with the progesterone daily). My levels have been low in the past and he wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.  So he’s been closely monitoring my levels to see if I needed them (they’d give a boost to my progesterone and estrogen levels if my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing).

I had a blood test at 4dpo- which included progesterone, estrogen, thyroid panel, and prolactin. Everything came back within normal range (although I haven’t received my prolactin results yet).

Progesterone: 22 (they wanted it above 10)
Estrogen: 163 (they wanted it above 100)

So no booster shots yet.

I then had more blood work yesterday (6dpo).

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We were going to a car event, so we went to breakfast first and then I went for blood work. I was expecting lower progesterone levels because progesterone can drop after eating.

Progesterone: 18 (they were not concerned with the drop and thought it was still a great number).
Estrogen: 183

So no booster shots at all. I’m slightly concerned with the drop, but I know that it’s completely normal to see the progesterone numbers fluctuate. I am happy though because these are the highest my numbers have ever been at this point, so it means my body is doing what it’s supposed to do and it is responding.

We are scheduled for a pregnancy blood test on July 24th to see if this cycle worked or not. Any prayers you can send our way will be appreciated. I know if it’s negative, I’ll be okay- ironically it’s the positive test that I have more anxiety and fear about. Either way, we could use some prayers.

I don’t know when I’ll update those results, but now that this blog is public, I may need some time to process the results and I’ll update the blog when I’m ready.

Thank you for getting on this roller coaster with me! :)

 

Fearless

There was once a time I was fearless.. Who knows, maybe we all go through something like this and with age, we realize we are not invincible, we wise up and start living our lives more cautiously.  Maybe there is a point in everyone’s life that they realize bad things do in fact happen.

Perhaps this is a completely normal part of life, something that just happens as the years pass. Perhaps everyone goes through this stage. But I often wonder if everyone who used to be fearless misses that feeling the way I do.

I can tell you when I stopped being fearless. Almost to the day, although looking back I can now see there were many events that contributed to that change. With every bad thing that happened in my life, I was still fearless. I once believed that everything happens for a reason.  I was okay with anything because it happened for a reason. If you know about my childhood, you’d know that I had my challenges, but despite that, I still believed. And now? Well, I just believe sometimes bad things just happen.

We can get into a whole religious debate about that statement, but I just think sometimes bad things happen, but I do believe God is good and finds a way to show us some light in these situations.  But no, I don’t believe there is a reason I’m losing my babies. I just don’t. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen.

I imagine there are many people that know that date. The date they were no longer fearless. The date where something terrible or unsettling happened to them. Maybe someone you love left, or parents or siblings you cared about deserted you. Maybe it was the divorce of your parents or an abusive relationship with someone you once trusted. There are many who follow this blog that have lost loved ones, maybe that was the day for you were no longer fearless. Maybe it was a devastating diagnosis of a loved one or a health diagnosis you just can’t accept, or the loss of a dear friend.

Do you remember when you became no longer fearless? Mine was three years ago when we lost our first baby. Then it happened again. And then my anxiety truly set in the third time I was pregnant. We had heard the heartbeat twice before, but then on that final visit, the ultrasound tech looked at us and told us, “I’m sorry, there is no longer a heartbeat.”

It was during each loss that I realized, bad things do happen to me. My anxiety and fear has resurfaced with my husband’s newest purchase-he got a motorcycle.  It’s nothing special, but it is a similar bike he had years ago.  We sold everything when we decided to try for a family and now we are tired of putting our lives on hold. We don’t know how long we will have to wait, so we might as well enjoy our time.

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We used to always ride. We’ve always had motorcycles, four-wheelers, and dirt bikes.

I remember early in our marriage when Tony first taught me how to ride my very own motorcycle. I had my permit and he taught me in a vo-tech parking lot. He said, “Just get on the bike and ride it. You ride a four-wheeler, you already know how to shift.” There wasn’t much more direction than that.

I got in the bike, drove it around the parking lot for about a half hour and then we were on the road. I wasn’t scared. I was fearless.

Not once did it cross my mind something bad could happen. We just rode. 

But now things are different. I know how quickly someone I love can be taken. I know that bad things do happen. And do you know what? They happen to me.

The thing about a motorcycle ride, especially when you’re on the back and someone else is driving, you have a lot of time to think..

I realized just by allowing that purchase, getting on the back of that bike, I’m not as scared. I’m not the same person I was months ago. But do you know what else I realized, getting back on the that bike, it reminds me of being so fearless. I’m reminded of that point in my life and it brings me peace. I guess I didn’t expect that at all.

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I don’t know if I’ll ever be that same fearless girl, the one that existed before recurrent pregnant loss, but today I feel gratitude that I can at lease feel peace on the back of that bike.

A bit of everything…

Monitoring Appointments: 

As you know if you read my post about my baseline, we were given the go-ahead to start Follistim (low dose- only 33ius because I don’t respond well to Clomid and just need a little help). So, I started injections on Saturday, July 4th and that carried through until Tuesday. I’ll never get used to injecting myself with a needle. If you knew me when I was younger, you’d know how fearful I am of needles, but I’m getting over that fear little by little.

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Yesterday I went for my first monitoring appointment and the nurse said everything looked great, we were just waiting on blood work. My lining looked great and I had one follicle measuring 17mm.

I got a call back and my estrogen was too low. At this point in the journey, I’m hopeful yet realistic. I know at any point in time there can be a problem. You wouldn’t believe all of the things that have to line up for a cycle to be good to try. It’s a miracle anyone even gets pregnant..ever.

So they increased the Follistim to 75uis and I’d have another appointment (today). At today’s appointment, I had a follicle now measuring 20mm and another one measuring 15mm. The cycle was yet again dependent on my estrogen levels, which need to be 150-200 per mature follicle (16mm or larger).

The girl that draws my blood is so fun. She has very colorful tape and even matched the dress of the girl before me. I chose hot pink. :)

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A Car Accident: 

One the way home, I got a call from Tony. I fear losing Tony the most and when you get a call from your husband and he tells you he’s been in an accident, it really puts things into perspective.

I thought, he’s okay because he’s talking to me and thankfully, he was okay. Everyone involved was okay. I know how differently this could have turned out and I’m thankful today.

Apparently some guy in a box truck sneezed and when he looked up on a busy highway-going 60mph, traffic had stopped. The guy swerved left, hitting my husband’s full size Chevy pick-up truck, causing damage on the passenger side fender & hood. The box truck’s front end hit another car too. Tony said the box truck at one point was on two wheels and almost flipped.

Thank God everyone is okay. Tony was able to drive his truck and I’m sure he’ll be able to fix his truck. But honestly, even if his truck was totaled, it wouldn’t matter as long as he’s okay. The truck can be replaced.

He was on his way to go look at a motorcycle (he was only 5 minutes away, so he went anyway). Again, his truck is drivable. I’m not sure how I feel about a motorcycle, but I’m sure that’s a topic for another post. I’ll be fine I’m sure, we both used to ride, but I do have some anxiety over this purchase.

Therapy and a Trigger Shot: 

I then went miniature golfing with my sister and then straight to therapy. I’m thankful my therapy is always on my most stressful days and I’m thankful I started seeing her. I knew trying again would reveal anxiety and it’s been truly helping.

While going over billing with my therapist, I received a call from my RE’s office. She encouraged me to answer it and so I did.

My estrogen is over 200, so that’s a good sign because I have one mature follicle. We do the trigger tonight, we get to try again, then progesterone starts on Sunday.   I have a series of blood tests over the next few weeks to see if HCG booster shots are needed to increase my hormone levels. We’re getting ready to do the shot soon, but of course if you want to read about our very first trigger shot, you can find it here: Trigger: Laughter.

Here we go again. I have mixed emotions about this, but I’m hopeful.

Side Note:  2016 Pet Valu Calendar

Something super fun happened yesterday. My dogs were in the top 50 finalist for the 2016 Pet Value Calendar. They are in the top 5 right now, but need votes! If you could help me out that would be great! You can vote once every 24 hours and the voting ends July 22nd. I know it’s totally silly, but I do hope they win a spot!

Voting is only through FB: At this link https://www.facebook.com/PetValuUS?v=app_393968127475518&app_data=referer_override%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%252F (It’s the Pet Valu US Facebook page, but anyone can vote)

Here’s the picture of my boys:

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It’s All My Fault

It’s all my fault
I could have prevented this from happening
This is something I can control
I am to blame

I know many of you reading this right now are wondering what I’m saying. My IF sisters are probably yelling “It’s not your fault!” at their computer screens right now, but I’m guessing have also felt this way at one point or another. Since you know my story, you’re probably wondering if I could actually be referring to our miscarriages. You might be thinking, does she actually think this is her fault?? Well, guess what?

I am.

But here’s the thing. I only think those devastating thoughts sometimes. Deep down I know it’s not my fault and I honestly believe it’s not. I would tell anyone experiencing infertility or a miscarriage that it’s not their fault. And do you know what? I would say it with 100% certainty. It is not your fault.  I know this is beyond my control. I know I’m not to blame.

I do feel this way sometimes though. Do you know when I feel this way? When I’m asked if I’ve tried relaxing. When I’m asked if my doctor has prescribed a vacation (no seriously, this happened to me last week). When I’m asked if I cut stress in my life.

When someone says, “Have you tried relaxing?” I actually hear, “You wouldn’t have lost your babies if you would have relaxed. This is your fault. You had control over the outcome and you didn’t relax.”

While that may not be anyone’s intention and as Tony said, maybe they just mean that I need to be patient, and I reminded him that I’ve always been understanding when it comes to what others say. I don’t ever think people intend to be hurtful (which I know shouldn’t give them an excuse to say hurtful things, but I just don’t believe that’s their intention). I always try to believe the best in people.

I know that this is hard to talk about and it’s rarely ever discussed.  I understand, nor do I want everyone walking on egg shells around me either.  In fact, when I get text messages with suggestions, I’m glad they’re trying to help and thought of me. When I get asked questions I don’t necessarily want to answer, I’m glad they want to understand and are thankful they are trying. And even when someone tells me about a friend who went through IF and now has a little one, I look at it as a sign of hope.

But I find  ‘just relax’ is different. I just don’t think it’s helpful. Is it really even a kind thing to say? To completely dismiss doctors and medical conditions.

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There is no amount of relaxing that would have kept my babies alive and by saying that, it’s insinuating that my stress caused my miscarriages. Two simple words, ‘just relax’ places blame. If I hadn’t stressed, I would have my babies. I can’t tell you how much that stings.  A medical diagnosis, chromosomal abnormalities, and why it actually happened are irrelevant. If only I had relaxed.

I often wonder if people can even relate? When you feel like the death of your baby is caused by something you’ve done or haven’t done. And let me tell you, that is guilt that weighs so heavily on you.  It’s an immense weight to carry; that blame. The feeling that it’s your fault and somehow was within your control to change… but you just didn’t do enough.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that by just saying ‘just relax’ to someone struggling with infertility is hurtful. It’s like saying my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) knows nothing and this is just my fault. That’s an awfully big burden to place on someone’s shoulders, isn’t it?