Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Scoop

So here's the scoop.  What I had thought was a miscarriage, what the doctors told me was a miscarriage, I found out 6 weeks later to be an ectopic pregnancy.  And I didn't find out because of a scheduled ultrasound, or because the doctor saw something particular about my symptoms to alert them.  No, I found out after I decided to go to the ER after a second batch of unbearable pain.  Lovely.

The ER story goes like this:  I was at my father-in-law's house for a going away BBQ with Dustin's family.  We were to fly to NY to move in 3 days.  After telling my mother-in-law and sister-in-law how great I was feeling, finally, and that I thought my miscarriage and the 6 weeks of bleeding and cramping were over, I started to double over in pain.  I had felt similar pain 2 weeks prior, but when I had called my doctor's office, my practitioner had waived my pain away and told me that sometimes miscarriages took a while, that the pain was to be expected.  My HCG quants had mysteriously gone up 4 weeks after they had started dropping, but she wasn't worried.

In pain once again, I had Dustin drive me home while I curled up in a ball on the passenger side seat and gripped the door and arm rests until I could get home, pump my system full of Advil, and sink myself into a hot bath.  Dustin asked if he should take me to the ER, but the thought of sitting at the ER in that much pain sounded awful.  He took me home, I went through my cramp diffusing routine, and curled up on the couch knowing the pain had exhausted me enough to sleep.

With my assurances, Dustin went back to the family party to collect our son and to say his goodbyes.  By the time he got I home I was feeling better enough to devour some Wendy's and think clearly.  I couldn't move to a new state, without a doctor, and without a clue as to what was going on with my body.  But it was Saturday, we were leaving Monday night, and I was sure that my doctor would brush me off again or not schedule me for an ultrasound until later in the week.  We thought about going to Urgent Care the next morning, but then we ran the risk that they wouldn't have the right equipment if I did need an ultrasound.  So we left J. with my parents and headed out.

It felt pretty ridiculous going to the ER at this point.  I was feeling a lot better.  I looked fine.  I sat in the waiting room cracking jokes with Dustin, watching the news, pretty much expecting to be sent home with a tummy ache.  That was not the case.  Instead they forced a catheter on me, did an intrauterine ultrasound, stuck me with methotrexate (to end the "pregnancy"), pumped me full of morphine, and admitted me for the night.

The ultrasound was a difficult moment.  My budding doctor of a husband watched the ultrasound, and with the pieces of knowledge that he has, he saw what he thought was a heart beat, and he noticed a mass.  This made the news that my pregnancy was ectopic especially hard to hear.  I had already mourned the miscarriage, I had pulled my sorry butt out of my depressed state and and gotten all giggly about my future NY move.  I was over it.  But the new information broke my heart.  I had no choice, a life can't thrive in a fallopian tube, but it still seemed unfair that I had to do with drugs what my body couldn't do for itself.

The methotrexate made me feel awful, dizzy, hot, cold, and I couldn't control my emotions.  Luckily, however, sleep won out and I felt much more myself in the morning, just in time to make my next decision.  My doctor came to the hospital and told me that I could do surgery to remove the pregnancy now or wait for the drugs to do their work.  But I didn't hesitate.  I had had 6 weeks of not feeling well, of being unsure what was going on with my body, of being constantly reminded of what I had lost, and I didn't want it to go on a day longer.  Lucky for me, when I went under they found that my colon was wrapped around my fallopian tube, there was blood in my abdomen, and that my fallopian tube was a mess.  So I lost a tube, but I gained a newly healthy body and freedom from the nagging sadness.

Dustin had to move to NY a few days ahead of me while I healed, and the next few days were exhausting, but overwhelmingly I was happy for all that happened.  At the church I now go to I have had startling moments of revelation about my faith that have been answers to my prayers.  I have a renewed sense of gratitude for all that I have and am able to experience.  And very strangely, I feel that the loss of what seems like a very necessary organ, will actually lead to our gain.  I don't know what will happen, but I know more children are in our future, and I am sure we will know soon how that will come about.

My lesson learned on faith: Our trials remind us of our faith.  We don't have faith in an event or a blessing, we have faith in Christ, that he knows us, loves us, and that our faith will bring us eventual joy, even if it is not the way we have planned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

The title of the post pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately: sarcastic, a little bitter, with an underlying sadness that creeps up on me when it is most inconvenient.  Yup, Dustin and I have just had our 3rd miscarriage, so we are officially a part of the chronic issues club.  Now not only do I struggle with getting pregnant, but keeping the baby seems an impossibility as well.  One scenario where a 2fer is not appreciated.

So, I guess I will start at the beginning, and lucky for readers, conception isn't necessarily the beginning of this story, so the details won't get too juicy.  Dustin finished his first 2 years of medical school in May and, after we moved our lives from the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada back home to our parent's in Phoenix, Dustin checked out of our lives for all practical reasons to study for his Step 1 exam.  However, despite the huge transition and the looming lack of husband for the summer, we felt a lot of hope and excitement.  We were back in the States!  We were among Target, Costco, Children's Museums, and summer sports opportunities.  We could eat out anywhere and everywhere, and our families became closer than a Skype call away.  Most importantly, we could start the adoption process again.

We wanted to wait until we made our next move, to where Dustin would be completing his final 2 clinical years of medical school, but I still made phone calls and checked off the necessary boxes to make sure we could hit the ground running.  My sense of urgency had grown tremendously over the previous months, and I wasn't feeling the same sense of peace about not having a new little one in my life.  I knew family members were getting ready to grow their families, and Jackson seemed to be crying out to have a sibling as a companion.  My anxiety was building and the sleeping giant of my infertility was rearing its head.  I needed a baby, and I already knew from experience that adoption was a blessing of an option.

Of course, settled on adoption, heart and mind set in one direction, that is when I found out I was pregnant.  Having taken a pregnancy test, brought on by sore breasts and fatigue, I sat in the bathroom, elbows on knees and head in hands, crying over the positive result.  It felt miraculous.  I took Dustin to lunch and showed him the test afterwards.  And after a few exclamations, we drove home in awed silence, smiles on our faces.

I went right to the doctor, having an ultra sound and blood tests, and Dustin and I had conversation after conversation over his feeling of peace and my anxieties.  We told parents, and I planned in my head over and over again how I was going to make the big announcement.  I bought the book What to Expect for the 3rd time, subscribed to 2 or 3 different pregnancy websites, downloaded 2 pregnancy apps, got on progesterone, started popping prenatals, stopped caffeine, took a break from exercising because of the doctor's recommendation, and monitored every twitch or ache in my body.  I did all of this in the one week I was pregnant.  And by the following Monday I had blood work back that said I was miscarrying.

Since then I have felt slightly lost.  I struggle with the idea of faith because I can have faith in God's plan for me, but I don't have, or don't want to, have faith to get and stay pregnant.  What if I were to put all of my faith in that and it isn't meant to be?  I don't understand how it is supposed to work.  I don't understand why Dustin felt at peace.  I don't know if I will get pregnant again soon or in another 4 years.  I don't know if I should pursue adoption or work on my reasons for miscarrying.  And through it all I have a little boy who needs another little person in his life.  He is getting older and older and something is missing.  He may not feel it, but I feel it.  Our family is so incomplete, and the hole is only bigger because of the miscarriage.

Yet life calls, and we do swim lessons and play dates, laundry and work, dinners and bedtimes.  I am fine.  I laugh and joke and play and pray.  Mostly I just want all of this emotion that is boiling under the surface to go away.  I want to not ache when it is quiet.  I don't want to cry when I push myself too hard while working out.  I want the stupid weight I gained from the progesterone to disappear, and I want to stop waiting around everyday for this miscarriage, which I am waiting to take place naturally, to be done with.

So, I guess that is it.  I  finally felt settled enough to write this blog, so I guess that is a step in the right direction.  I have the most fabulous of husbands who took off precious time from studying to take care of me physically and emotionally.  I am surrounded by family.  And my sweet boy, who I think needs a sibling so desperately, needs me ever more, and I love that.  Hopefully I will get back to all the hopefulness this blog is supposed to be about soon :)

P.S. I love information, it makes me happy.  Feel free to share anything you have learned about your own miscarriages.  Research calms me and gives me somewhere to put my emotions.

P.P.S.  I want that shirt!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Damon's Story

My friend Emily, whom I met while doing a study abroad program in Paris, is beautiful inside and out.  If you think I use the adjective beautiful too often to describe my friends, its true, I am constantly surrounded by beautiful women.  Emily's husband created a video of the story of their adopted son to share with others.  If you are like me, you will bawl your eyes out.  I love how Emily and her family are another great example of a unique and brave family.

Damon's Story

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Am I the only one in constant denial? Does anyone else not take the evidence that 7 years and 2 miscarriages makes this month an unlikely one to get pregnant? It doesn't matter if I have been having cramps, I still think there is a chance. I could have been spotting, and there is still a chance I could be pregnant. I could have been using a tampon for 3 days, and there is still a chance I could be pregnant. I hate the thought that flashes and then lingers, whispering, "you could be pregnant". And why? Why must I believe and hope and try and try again. I don't want to ever hear the words that solidify my fears that I will never get pregnant. But then again, it would be nice to no longer have my crimson smattered underwear crush my hopes month after month. I the ONLY one in denial?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yeah, So You're An Idiot

Amy was one of the first women I met when my family moved to Grenada. She is sweet, fun, and would do anything for you. I have enjoyed getting to know her over the last two years and love that we can share our stories of infertility and provide comfort for one another. Here is her story:

I remember when I was a young girl knowing that I would grow up, get married and have babies. I never had a number picked out, but I just knew I was going to be a mother one day. Fast forward to many years later. I meet my prince charming and we get married. We never tried not to get pregnant from that day on. Sure it would happen. It’s only natural right. Easy, yes? Um No. So when I first talked to my doctor about trying to get pregnant they told me to start taking some vitamins and that practice makes perfect. Simple, yes? Um No. After a year of trying and one failed miscarriage, I began to believe that people were idiots. I was raised that it is better to be thought an idiot, than to speak and prove yourself one. Apparently not a lot of others around me were taught this. So let me let you in on why I started saying, “You’re an Idiot”.

At first, when nothing was happening month after month, I became very disheartened. I felt let down by nature. I mean come on, it is so easy, and everyone around you is able to do it. Why not me? So instead of telling people I became ashamed of it. I bore my pain alone. I didn’t understand infertility. No one I knew had ever experienced it or ever talked about having problems with having babies. When the inevitable phrase, “So when are you guys gonna have kids” was asked, it was more like a knife being stabbed into my womb. Oh how my body ached for one. I hated and envied my friends who were having their first baby showers. A few upsetting times I couldn’t even attend them. The pain was too much and too raw. I avoided all talk of kids and babies. So one month I won the lotto or at least that is what it felt like. I was pregnant. Yeah. We were over the moon. We were getting ready to go on vacation with my in-laws and were going to tell them there. I had made my first doctor’s appointment for when we got back. We left on a Saturday and by Tuesday night I started bleeding. I was miscarrying. So instead of telling them good news it was telling them bad news. So in all efforts to make me feel better I was told, “It’s ok, at least you know you can get pregnant”. Yeah so, You’re an Idiot! Under no circumstance does this ever make someone feel better. So yeah, You’re an Idiot. I felt like screaming at them. Instead I just choked back my tears and nodded in agreement.

I would have many more of these “You’re an Idiot” moments to come. Eventually, I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. He is the best on the east coast and rightly so. By this time a few of our friends and family knew we were having problems and that I was taking measures to the next level. So we started the testing and what not. Trying this and that and taking this pill and that one. It ended up being that dreaded PCOS. If you are reading this blog then you probably know what this is and I will spare you the details. 5-10% of women have PCOS, so you would think that I would know someone with it too right? Wrong. It wasn’t until I came to the wonderful island of Grenada that I met girls like me. It was wonderful for the first time in my struggle to meet so many just like me. It was almost comical having talks at the pool about our side effects from this drug or that drug. For the first time I saw the other faces of infertility and they shared their stories with me. Instead of having a “You’re an Idiot” moment we shared our struggles and their own moments like mine. It felt nice, even if we didn’t relish on our infertility, that we knew what each one of us was going through. We were fighting a battle and we were determined to win.

Still I had those people back home to give me those moments. I heard it all the time. “You’re on a tropical island with no stress, surely you’ll get pregnant now.” Well yeah, You’re an Idiot”. Or still we people would ask us “When are you gonna have a kid?” Like, really people, “You’re an Idiot”. Eventually I met a great woman whom after another moment I broke down to and told her my struggle. She suggested a wonderful book by Jennifer Saake called Hannah’s Hope. Click here more information I can’t say enough about this book and what it means to me. It is about a women’s struggle with infertility, miscarriage and failed adoption and how she got through with it with God’s help. I have been making light of my experiences but it was hard and lonely for a long time and this book gave me hope when I lost all of mine. So read it when infertility gets you down to give you a little extra boost to get you back to that hope.

Eventually I did get my miracle baby. I was blessed in February 2009 with a beautiful baby girl and the light of my life. My infertility story doesn’t end there and I have had many more “You’re an Idiot” moments since her birth. Now as we struggle for baby number two, and have miscarried again, we hear “Well you had one so the next one will come easier”. Well yeah, “You’re an Idiot”.

Some lessons I have learned have been….

1) Never give up. Where there is a will there is a way.
2) Whatever you have to fight for, when you get it, it is sweeter and you cherish it more.
3) God has a plan for each of us. It may not be what we want or when we want but He has a plan. Just trust in Him.
4) People are trying to be nice and most of them just do not understand about infertility. Forgive them of their “moments”.
5) And lastly, remember to laugh.

Also, I am a lover of quotes. Here are a few that get me through:
“It’s going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay. It’s not the end.”
“If you can’t find hope. Look in a new direction.”
‎”Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.”

Here is my miracle baby, Sophia

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Putting Up A Wall

Do you put up a wall when you are told, "It will happen for you soon hun"? Do your eyes start to glaze over when story after story is told of a friend of a friend who adopted 5 children and then had 5 children of their own? Do you feel like sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming, "LA LA LA LA" every time someone tells you to, "just have faith,"? I know I have, I do, and I will continue to wince at every cliche and overused expression in the how-to-comfort-a-friend-who-can't-have-a-baby-but-I-can book. Bitter much? Yes. It comes and goes in waves. And yet, sadly, I too am guilty for using these same beaten-to-death expressions.

Recently I have had friends ask me how I have dealt with a recent miscarriage, and after giving them my knee-jerk answers, I thought I had better examine them to see why I thought my words of wisdom would matter, should matter, to anyone who I would grace with my sage advice...please note the dripping sarcasm.

First, pray. My mom has been telling to me to pray since I could remember. Over every lost key, test, broken heart, and now over every negative test, miscarriage and unfulfilled desire. It is the best of advice, but when it is given as an answer in a quest for help sometimes I just want to say, "Yeah yeah yeah. OK, now tell me what will really help." But now I find myself repeating the words of my mother. If you are feeling sad, pray. If you are struggling with a problem, pray. And if you don't get to be in charge of the when and how of starting a family, pray. Prayer has brought me strength to endure, the peace to continue, the knowledge that my trials are not only my own. However, it is not only this communion with God that is an important part of prayer, but the humility that comes from asking for help. And this leads me to my second piece of advice.

Be grateful. This is probably one of the most hated of phrases for me, having been thrown at me with each low point, an advice givers solution for every problem. And it is so much more difficult to do than the ease with which it is dispensed. But while not a quick fix, being grateful is a solution. It is salve to the wounded heart. Being grateful sets priorities in order and allows healing to occur. So the next time some one who means well tosses out this loved little gem, take it, grab hold, humble yourself enough to know they are right, and take a look around. We may not have our heart's desire now, but we are surrounded by one blessing and silver lining after another. It may take some looking, but noticing what we have on hand can make the wait for our dreams that much more bearable, and most likely, into a fulfilling journey.

Third, share. Share so that others will open their mouths as well. Share so that so many will know they are not alone. Share so that all know they have a place at this conversation, no matter how many years, miscarriages, children or reasons why their family can not be built as they see fit. I have read that infertility is often as difficult to take in as it is to find you have cancer. While I cannot compare one thing to the other, I know that my emotions are valid and that infertility need not be hidden like a shameful secret. After telling my own story I have heard so many of others that have given me hope, ideas, advice and the joy of knowing that I am part of a community. So, share.

I hope that in the future we can all take the fingers out of our ears, choke down some of that bitterness, and say thank you when our sweet friends and family seek to give us love and comfort through a few well-intentioned phrases.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Late Bloomer and the Art of Reinvention

I have the most gorgeous of friends who shares her feelings about infertility with the most gorgeous of words. Ashley is brilliant in all that she partakes, and I am sure this will follow her into eventual motherhood. Here is her story:

The reptile tongue of discouragement is inventive and convincing. I know it doesn’t make sense in the late hours of the night, but I still listen to his whispering words with baited breath. He's an enemy, I am aware, but I invite him into bed with me anyway and let his persuasive words prick my soft eyes, sending sleepy tears down my tired face. It’s too late to fight tonight. I'll let his sad words about delayed dreams lull me to sleep.

I’m counting on a promise, a dream, a capricious dancing image in a distant mirror. My dream is on the playbill in bold and glitter, but hasn’t made its grand entrance on stage. It promises to grace us with its presence before the end of the show. But my patience sometimes wears thin. I scarf some more popcorn and wonder if we’re in the wrong theater. Who bought these damn tickets anyway?


We both did.

So in the meantime while we wait for more characters to emerge onstage, I am learning to reinvent my life in the present. I’m a list maker. I start making lists of educational pursuits, career goals, hobbies, crafts. That last one was a lie. I’d rather file an old man’s toe nails than craft. I get busy doing good things and sometimes I go for days and weeks without feeding my cancer of unfulfilled desire. Life is good.

Then I step on the train in my expensive suit and shiny heels. I feel like a poster child for the modern woman pursuing career goals in my pumps and perfectly creased pants. I pretend that I don’t want a newborn baby against my chest or a toddler’s arms wrapped around my neck. I pretend. But then a two-year-old Asian baby with pig-tails and perfectly creamy skin boards the metro with her mom behind the stroller. My modern woman exterior falls off like an over-sized costume and melts in front of this perfect creature. She giggles and squeals as I make faces at her with the brilliance of innocence radiating through her eyes. I laugh and quiet my voice as my eyeballs start to get wet. I swallow hard and look up at the silver ceiling of the train car to keep my emotions from rolling down my face. Please don't work today, gravity. I wave goodbye and start walking home.

Deep breaths. The slithering snake of discouragement has turned the corner and is following me down the avenue home. Queue the music please. We’ve been through this drill before. It’s always the same.

Just when he almost reaches me, I feel a sudden encompassing feeling. The closest thing I can relate it to is when you step into a shower on a cold winter morning. The prickly shivers on your naked body make you want to dart back to bed. The cold tile on your feet makes it worse and you swear you can almost see your breath in the air. When you finally turn the shower on, the hot water dumps millions of stinging goose bumps all over your body. At first you think it hurts, but then you realize that the harsh water has replaced any former coldness with all-encompassing warmth. It dumps over every curve in your body turning bone-chilling agony into drenching comfort.

That feeling covers every molecule of my soul as I walk down the sidewalk. A smile comes over my face and the tears transform from bitter acid into sweet liquid. Without hearing a single word, the clear thought is communicated to my mind, “You will be a mother someday, Ashley.” In that moment, every fear dissipates. I know it’s true.

But the problem is that I don’t serve a Master who communicates dream fulfillment deadlines. By all reports He’s an organized fellow, but His executive assistant consistently fails to deliver a blessing deadline in my inbox. I keep checking to see if it's in the "spam" folder. I can’t add it to my calendar. I suppose knowing the precise moment might obliterate my faith.

So in the meantime, I’m trying not to spend my life waiting for my golden ticket. I’m trying to enjoy the sweetness I’ve been given without souring its taste with wishful “what if’s” and jealous “when me’s”. I’m reinventing my short-term dreams and expectations. I’m focusing on learning, being a good worker, being a better friend, and being a better lover and friend to my sweet companion.

I won’t feel guilty when I have teary moments at church or on the train. I’ll try not to let it break my heart when I see my husband get emotional about wanting a baby of our own. As long as these sad moments don’t lead me into frequent and soul deafening despair, I’m going to tell myself that those feelings are simply a heavenly reminder of what we both hope to be eternally. I also won't feel guilty when I go through periods where the desire is kept at bay. I'll remind myself that I haven't thrown the dream out the window and that that forgetfulness is a tender mercy allowing me to progress in life.

"Infertility" is difficult not because you simply want what someone else has or because you want to achieve something that’s socially expected. It’s that the label somehow chips away at what you are eternally. It makes you feel that you can’t somehow be what you believe you were born to be.

So I choose to label myself a “late bloomer” instead. God intends for us to be parents. I know that. I feel that at the center of my talents and God-given abilities is the divine nature to be a mother. His greatest joy is seeing His children grow and progress to eternal happiness and He knows that our greatest happiness will sprout from those same experiences. He has not robbed us. In His infinite wisdom, I believe He is letting our roots grow strong before this dream starts to blossom. Hopefully the delay will make that spring all the sweeter.

Whenever it comes.
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