Empty Stomach, Empty Womb

No food or drink after midnight, the nurses said.

I hate fasting. I really, really hate it. On the car ride down to my D&E, NPR aired a story on gluten free food that made me so hungry I had to change the station. When we arrived at the hospital’s surgical center, the receptionist gave us a buzzer just like we were at a restaurant. The waiting room smelled like french fries and I wistfully watched a woman sip her grande Starbucks drink.

Our buzzer buzzed and we were led to the pre-op room, where I changed into hospital attire and joked about the handy pocket in the johnny. (The “pocket” is actually a quick-access portal to my chest in case of emergency, a nurse explained.) The OR nurses have a completely different vibe from the IVF ones. The IVF nurses always seem a little blasé and patronizing, plus they’re mixed in with the green fellows and interns, who I never fully trust. Here, there were no students– just the nurses, the anesthesiologist and the OB/GYN– and I instinctively KNEW they were good.

I was asked again if I was a medical professional. Sigh. I’m flattered, but no, I’ve just been doing this for a really long time.

The actual procedure was easy, thanks to the expert anesthesiologist. She had me completely out for the exact length of the procedure and no longer. I wasn’t aware of them putting my legs in stirrups, sticking on electrodes, doing the procedure, putting mesh panties and a pad on me, or transferring me back onto the gurney. It is really an exercise in giving up control. Sadly, it must feel like this sometimes for the elderly.

Back in recovery, I woke up crying. One of the nurses was right there beside me with a comforting hand and a box of Kleenex. I’m sobbing now as I remember. She even offered to give me a minute alone before K came back into recovery, which I was relieved about, but alas, K was already on his way in. It’s not that I’ve wanted to hide any emotions from him; I’ve just wanted to be strong for him. This time around, he’s needed to lean on me.

I’ve been happy to be strong for him, but I definitely could’ve done without making my own dinner that night. It p*sses me off and perplexes me that K does NOT have the gene to wait on me hand and foot after a procedure like this. I was STARVING after fasting all day (DUH), but he just didn’t understand that food needed to happen for me RIGHT NOW. So I put some chicken noodle soup on the stove and informed him that he was in charge of bringing it to me when it was ready. I guess that’s as close as I’ll ever get to hand-and-foot. Either way, there’s really nothing better than chicken noodle soup followed by a giant bowl of ice cream. ❤

(By the way, I'm sorry this update took so long. You guys deserved to read something substantial, so I sacrificed speed.)

(Ahem) What I *Actually* Did Yesterday

Using my handy How I Can Feel Better Today list as a guide, here’s what I *actually* did yesterday.

1. Made the list
2. Canceled work
3. Re-read and replied to all of the thoughtful comments you left for me, which made me feel loved and cared for. Thank you so much.
4. Received a gorgeous sympathy bouquet from my doctor-friend Claire, delivered by a chipper man who told me to “Have a Nice Day!”
5. Burst into tears as soon as the door was closed. That was actually the first time my floodgates opened in this pregnancy. I was relieved to cry a little because I’d been feeling too paralyzed to do it before. The tears were almost more of a gift than the flowers were.
6. Showered, dressed and put on a little makeup.
7. Received the pre-registration phone call from the nurses.
8. Decided not to complete any more items on my list.
9. Bought tickets for K and me to see the LEGO movie.
10. Looked in the kitchen for something to eat and discovered that there was basically nothing there, specifically ICE CREAM.
11. Went grocery shopping. Bought several days’ worth of food that will take minimal preparation. Also bought all our favorite junk foods: Cheez-its, chocolate cereal, and Reese’s sundaes for K; raspberry danish twist, rocky road, and shake-n-pour pancakes for me. I also got a couple gallons of juice because the nurse said I could drink that before 9AM today.
12. Saw the LEGO movie, which was great and exactly what we needed! “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!”

We’re headed off to the hospital in a few minutes for my D&E. I’ll be groggy for a while, but I’ll check in again when I’m lucid. ❤

How I Can Feel Better Today

When I first opened my eyes this morning, my first thought was, “There’s no baby.”  Then as K reached over to comfort me, my second and third thoughts were, “Ohh, poor baby, he feels sad, too,” and, “I’m so lucky to have him.”  My fourth thought was, “How long have our three cats been on the bed, staring at me?  Yikes!”

Then I was faced with a decision:  What should I do today?

My D&E was inconveniently pushed off until Wednesday at 1PM, so technically, there is nothing medical on my schedule today except for a pre-registration phone call at 2:30PM.  Should I take the day off from teaching viola lessons, knowing that I will also have to cancel Wednesday and Thursday’s students because of the D&E?  Or should I keep my usual work schedule so that I don’t just sit here wallowing in self-pity?

So, to help me make that decision, I made a list of things I could do today to feel better.  I’m being very conservative with my ideas, and I’m not putting pressure on myself to complete every item on this list; I’ll only do what feels right at the moment.

How I Can Feel Better Today

1.  Make a list of things I can do to feel better today.  (Check!  I feel better already!)

2.  Cancel as much work as I can for the week, but don’t wallow in self-pity.  Instead, do other things that will make me feel better and help me cope, such as:

3.  Re-read and respond to all your wonderful, thoughtful, touching comments on yesterday’s post.  After my quartet concert last night (which went well despite everything), I was so exhausted physically and emotionally that it was all I could do to read your comments before I conked out.  I honestly slept a little more comfortably knowing that so many people were thinking of me and wishing me well.  A giant thank you to A Calm Persistence for sharing my post with her readership.  🙂

4.  Wash and put away all the dishes and wipe down the counter tops.  Having a clean, uncluttered kitchen makes me feel less lazy and also less embarrassed should we have any last-minute guests.

5.  Take a shower, get dressed and put on a little makeup.  This little bit of advice came from the FLYlady.  It’s surprisingly hard to do on a day like today.

6.  Go buy groceries.  We are out of most staples here.  I’ve often said that grocery shopping is my zen, because I’m not thinking about anything but food.  There is satisfaction in providing sustenance for my family, even if my family right now is just K and our three feline fur babies.  Plus, I NEED ice cream.

7.  Watch the dumba$$ Bachelor on DVR and appreciate that I have already found my soul mate.

8.  Respond to a few emails that have been hanging over my head for a while now.  In each case, I’ve dragged my feet because, basically, I don’t know how to say NO.  Well, people, get ready to read “NO” because that’s what I’m gonna type.  NO, NO NO.  (Just practicing.)

9.  Excuse myself from exercising.  I know, I know… they say that exercise improves a person’s mood.  Well, not today.  Today, NOT exercising is improving my mood already.

10.  Spend 15 minutes cleaning out the garage so I can eventually PARK IN IT.  Home improvement is always my go-to for post-miscarriage or post-IVF healing.  Usually, I want to paint a room or put up shelving, but it feels a little early for that right now.  I’ll start thinking about that after tomorrow’s D&E.  Right now, 15 minutes in the garage seems manageable.

11.  Complete ONE item on my to-do list for the May kickoff concert to my new monthly concert series.  Just one item.  There are like, 50 things on the list, but that is OK.  One item is progress.

12.  Arrange a time for Big Brother Big Sister to pick up the clothes and household items I’ve been wanting to give away.  Every few months they send a truck to my neck of the woods and I can sign up to have them come right to my front door for free.  I feel good about donating to that organization, it’s super convenient, I’m helping needy people, and I always feel positively giddy about getting rid of things I no longer use.  K and I are locked in a never-ending battle over that one… he loves collecting things and hates giving anything away… even trash!  So I just do it without telling him, and he NEVER notices.

If any of you have other ideas on how to cope today and over the next few days, I’m all ears.  ❤

Schrodinger’s Baby Is Dead

Today’s ultrasound should’ve shown an 8 week baby with a heartbeat.  Instead, we saw a 7.5 week baby with no heartbeat.  Schrodinger’s baby is dead.

Before the appointment, we had been so careful to guard our emotions, but in the exam room, K couldn’t hide his excitement.  Seeing him like that made me want to shield him from experiencing any pain or sadness.  I, on the other hand, was expecting the worst.  When the scan started, we could both tell right away that there was no heartbeat.

This sad news comes right on the heels of AMAZING news we got this week.  According to a brand new Fragile X blood test by Assuragen, the risk of my specific Fragile X Premutation expanding into a Full Mutation is LESS THAN 1%!  This makes us feel a whole lot better about conceiving naturally, because now our chances of needing to terminate for full-blown Fragile X are very minimal.  If we’d known, we wouldn’t have bothered with PGD.

Unfortunately, this wonderful genetic news unearths new questions about why the frackety fracking frack I’ve had 3 pregnancy losses.  If not Fragile X, then what?  Well, today our RE reminded us that Fragile X prematurely depletes a Carrier’s ovarian reserve, so my eggs are crap.  “Your healthy 36-year-old body has the eggs of a 43-year-old,” she said.  My decrepit ovaries are probably producing embryos with a host of OTHER chromosomal/developmental problems besides Fragile X.

We have a D&E scheduled for tomorrow.  They will test the baby for chromosomal abnormalities.  Meanwhile, I have to hold it together for a quartet concert tonight (“the show must go on”).  Thank you so much, dear readers, for your support.  ❤

Schrodinger’s Baby Lives!

Last week, I was completely unprepared for what we saw on the ultrasound.

It was an actual baby. Measuring perfectly for 6 weeks. With a heartbeat of 123. The tech even caught the sac via the abdominal ultrasound before she used the dildocam. I try not to take the Lord’s name in vain, but in the exam room, I did… three times.

The heartbeat was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, even more beautiful than the one I saw at 8 weeks with my first pregnancy. It sounds cheesy, I know, but this time around, it was delicate, lovely and all the more magical because of our long struggle.

The radiologist chatted with me a little while he interpreted the results. “Are you a medical professional?” he asked. “You sound very knowledgeable.”

No, I’ve just been doing this for a really f*cking long time.

The RE said this pregnancy could not look any better, but that with my history I simply cannot bond with it. I’m still at a high risk for miscarriage and this could be the pregnancy that I’ll have to terminate for Fragile X. I should take my prenatals and avoid eating all those things you’re not supposed to eat, but otherwise pretend I’m not pregnant. And she instructed me to stop humanizing the baby by calling it Schrodinger. That is kind of funny to me… I have to wonder if she knew the reference.

“Don’t tell people about your pregnancy,” she advised, “because talking is a huge emotional drain. And no one needs to know that you might have to terminate.” It was interesting to hear her say that, because I had come to that same conclusion last summer, which is what led me to blogging.

The nurses made me mad this time. They were quick to congratulate me after my second beta, excitedly saying, “It’s a good day!” Then when my third beta didn’t rise much, they were SURE the baby had died and said to expect bleeding in the next two days. (There is still no explanation for the slow rise.) I wish they would’ve just given me the facts without editorializing, because it’s hard to stay even-keeled when a nurse is super excited or crying in sympathy, whichever the case may be.

The next step is the 8 week ultrasound, which will be Mon the 24th. This will be a pretty important test; they want to see 2 weeks’ worth of growth. I go back and forth on pregnancy symptoms. My bb’s and nipples hurt like a SOAB, I chomp on prunes for constipation, I take two hour naps in the middle of the day, and I cry like a baby at The Bachelor even though I think he’s a dumb*ss homophobe and Sharleen was smart to leave. Then suddenly I feel no symptoms and I’m 100% convinced I’ve lost the baby.

So, we wait. ❤

Schrodinger’s Baby

So the ultrasound techs and the radiologist found the pregnancy, and to our relief, it is in the uterus. At least we know I won’t die from a ruptured tube!

It took some intense time with the Dildocam though, almost an hour. We saw the yolk sac and it measured correctly for 5 weeks. Unfortunately there was no embryo to see since it’s too early. I made the tech print a picture of the sac anyway. She obliged but definitely thought I was crazy.

The nurse said she’s “seen some crazy things” but that this pregnancy is probably still doomed. The only way we’ll know is to look inside… Like Schrodinger’s Cat. Meanwhile, I can still feel lots of progesterone in my body (ouch) and Pregnany Nose has set in. Pregnancy Nose SUCKS. The scent of my husband’s breath and the cat litter are inconveniently amplified. It makes me feel really badly for dogs.

I’m back at the hospital for a followup ultrasound. They will measure everything again, and if they see a week’s worth of growth, then we’re in business, at least until we do the genetic testing at 11 weeks. If growth has stopped, then a missed miscarriage or blighted ovum will be diagnosed. I’m totally convinced it’s the latter, but the doctor will tell me at my appointment later this morning.

Reality sets in

Reality is setting in here at the hospital.

As usual, it was a real PITA to get in here before the lab closed at 8:30 AM. The rush hour traffic always starts blowing at 6:30, and for every minute I leave after that, it adds 2-3 minutes to my drive time. Sleep was fitful last night, so it was exceedingly hard to get up early and I finally got on the road at 6:45. Not a great start.

Nevertheless, I made it there in time for the vampires to take my blood. They instructed me to go home and wait for the results. If I needed an ultrasound to rule out an ectopic, I’d come back tomorrow morning.

The prospect of having to do this sh*t again tomorrow morning was too much for my tired, impatient, grieving self to handle. I almost lost it in the waiting room but managed to keep down 95% of the percolating emotions. The nurse took pity on me and put a rush on the blood work so that I can wait here and do the ultrasound today if I need to. She thinks, however, that given my history, this is just another embryo dying of chromosomal abnormality. I guess that is a relief.

Last night I think reality started setting in a little for K. I was wondering if any of you ladies have advice on how to help a husband grieve? My strategy thus far has been to let him zone out with video games until he is ready to talk, usually about 3-4 days later, and then his grief usually takes the form of being frustrated by something else.

The French Press

The only upside to having a fasting blood draw is being able to go out for breakfast afterward.   Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so much so that our wedding reception was a brunch buffet. 

Thursday after blood work I stopped at Starbucks for my current obsession, the Cinnamon Dolce Latte.  Looking at the many lovely coffee-brewing apparatuses, including the classic french press, I was reminded of an exchange I had with my mother about 15 years ago. 

It was after college and I was staying at home while I took auditions for grad school.  I was accepted to my dream school for my dream degree, the only one like it in the country.  The only caveat was that it was an expensive school in an expensive city with a program so demanding that a part-time job would be impossible.

My father immediately expressed his disapproval of this financial risk but offered no solutions, advice or alternatives.  I went forward with my plans and sent in my deposit.  He and my mother kept their heads in the sand all summer while I took out student loans, booked my flight, researched apartments, and whittled down my living essentials to one backpack, two suitcases, and a viola.

Just as I was packing my french press (the only piece of kitchen equipment I owned), my mother walked by.  In the most judgemental tone possible, she sneered,  “Can’t you do without coffee while you’re there?!”

And that was the entire conversation my mother and I had about grad school. 

The next day I asked my dad to drive me to the airport.


“You’re actually doing this?”

And that was the entire conversation my father and I had about grad school.

When I arrived at grad school, I had almost everything in place except a signed lease.  In hindsight, I was fine.  But I was terrified and I lacked a support system.  Rather than help me acquire the skills to succeed, my parents just told me that I’d never be able to do it.

The biggest regret in my life so far is that I believed them.  Two weeks later, I withdrew from my dream school and flew home.   The next year was more depressing and demoralizing than any year of infertility has ever been.  I still think of it with great sadness.

This kind of self esteem baggage makes it so easy to slip into blaming myself for my infertility. But for the first time, I didn’t apologize to K for losing this baby.  Small step for mankind, giant leap for Haven.  ❤

Go in Peace

What I can only assume is the first miscarriage cramp happened just now, across the top of my uterus, for about 30 seconds. Maybe I’ll be lucky and get through the worst of it this weekend. There hasn’t been any bleeding yet, just a slight bit of pinkish staining. I have begun traveling with a stash of super maxi pads and adult diapers in my purse.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was that I demanded a progesterone test this time. It was normal. The nurse said we can definitely rule that out as a potential cause for the miscarriage. Most likely, this baby died because it had Fragile X.

Dinner with our 8-month pregnant friends tonight actually wasn’t that terrible. The guys ended up monopolizing the conversation with job interview stories, so aside from having to see my sweet petite friend with a big baby bump, our evening was thankfully baby-lite.

We bought our fancy new LED TV, which, sadly, won’t be delivered until Monday. Gypped of the full retail therapy experience!

Pregnancy loss could be the worst reason to decide in the world to adopt a third cat, but nevertheless we put in an application today for a really nice adult male. We met him just before Christmas and haven’t been able to forget him! So maybe our little family of fur babies will grow even if our human family is on hold.

Despite being emotionally numbed, I feel sad, but also grateful that our embryo lived, however briefly. I’m grateful that my body hosted our little embryo as long as it did. I’m grateful that our baby didn’t suffer and only knew the comfort of my womb. And I’m grateful that we weren’t forced to make any heartbreaking decisions 6 weeks down the road.

Go in peace, little one. You will always be loved. ❤


I had just started believing that this pregnancy might actually be the one, and POOF! it’s gone.

The first HCG on Tue was 892. Terrific number for just over 4 weeks!

The second one, two days later, was 1950. The nurse told me, “it’s a good day.” F*ck her stupid optimism messing up my head.

I went for the third one this morning. I could tell by the way she hesitated that the news wasn’t good. It was 2140. She cried for me on the phone.

The best case scenario for me right now is that the baby has died in utero and I’ll miscarry soon. The worst case scenario is an ectopic.

They’ll test me on Mon to make sure the number goes down. I can expect to start bleeding soon. If neither of those things happen, they’ll do an emergency ultrasound to make sure it’s not ectopic.

After each loss, I always get the urge to do some kind of home improvement. Today it will take the form of a new LED TV! K got a new, better paying job yesterday with a pay raise and an additional 20% bonus, so we have something to celebrate and it makes retail therapy OK. 🙂

We have dinner plans tonight with an 8+ month pregnant couple. God help me. ❤