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Miscarriage —The Day We Learned the News

The morning of our second ultrasound was almost like any other.  To begin, I was a bit nervous because we had been told our baby’s date of conception had been miscalculated by 11 days.  Our first ultrasound appointment didn’t go as we expected.

Instead of learning our baby’s heart rate, and leaving with a picture, we left knowing that our baby was in the right spot and that the baby was just “small” in comparison to the size of a typical 8 week old baby in the womb.  We didn’t know there was a heartbeat.  I had two choices:  fixate and worry myself sick for ten days; or try to take my mind off the situation.

distraught

There was no way I was going to let myself fixate and worry, I’d never forgive myself if something happened to the baby.  I’d always wonder if my intense worry had in some way caused it. So, I tried to keep busy.  I applied for jobs, interviewed, cleaned the house, and spent time with our furbabies.  The time passed with as little worry as possible.

On the morning of our second ultrasound, I took care of our dogs and played with them for a bit.  I couldn’t focus enough to work on a craft, so I watched TV and spent time playing and letting them in and out numerous times.  The last time I let them in, something was different.  My oldest furbaby, the princess of our house, came through the door with something in her mouth.  I thought perhaps she had gotten into the trash and had found something disgusting like a chicken bone.  I wish it had been something so banal.

dog with tail hanging out of its mouth

As I approached Princess, I noticed something was sticking out of her mouth, and it wasn’t a chicken bone.  It was a thin black tail!  At that point I turned into a 7 year old girl, and screamed!  She didn’t quite understand this, because mommy screaming is something that doesn’t happen in our house.  She misinterpreted my screams of terror as signs of joy.  Her response was to jump up at me with the tail still hanging out of her mouth, providing me with an even closer look at the disgusting, vile, thing!

There was a lot of commotion, more of mommy’s screaming, and finally she spit it out.  At that point I really lost it, because laying there on the floor in front of me was a dead black wet rodent!  I am not someone who stays quiet in the presence of rodents.  Simply put, I do not like them nor do I tolerate them.  When I was a teenager and the child I was babysitting brought his hamster out, I suggested he put it away before I taught it to swim.  I do not do rodents.  And there was one…dead…in my house!

I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to scoop up the rodent using our long handled dustpan and carry it out to the trash.  It took almost an hour before I could calm down.  On the bright side, I wasn’t freaking out about the ultrasound during that hour.  Just about the time I stopped freaking out, my husband came home from work, and we got ready to make the trip up to Dr. C’s office.

couple in car

We made small talk on the way up.  We talked about whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, and how relieved we’d be to hear our baby’s heartbeat.  We agreed that we had each been on edge a bit over the last ten days, so hearing the heartbeat would bring us both much needed relief.  I didn’t mention the rodent, I couldn’t bear to relive those moments.  Besides my husband wouldn’t have been able to drive with all the laughing he would have done.

After arriving at the hospital, we checked in at the radiology department and waited our turn.  The technician showed us to the ultrasound room and we got ready for the procedure.  We were so excited, and couldn’t help but ask about our baby.  She told us that before she looked for a heartbeat, she had to measure my uterus and ovaries.  After time had passed, we asked about the heartbeat again.  She explained that she wasn’t allowed to say anything.  Out of desperation, I asked for a picture, okay I didn’t ask, I begged in between the tears I was trying to hold back.    I needed to have a picture of our baby.  I needed to feel like a normal mom, I needed to leave with a picture of our baby.

woman having an ultrasound

We took our picture and headed up to Dr. C’s office with a copy of the radiologist’s notes.  We waited for our appointment and held hands hoping that the ultrasound would show signs that our baby was healthy.

After a few minutes we were led to the exam room and waited to meet with Dr. C.  The nurse who checked my chart and asked how I was feeling inquired about the baby’s heartbeat.  She reacted neutrally when we told her that we didn’t yet know.  The nurse excused herself and took the radiologist’s notes to Dr. C.

Male doctor talking to couple in waiting room

When Dr. C. entered the room, he told us he had just gotten off the phone with radiology, and that things were not as we had hoped.  Instead of getting bigger, the baby had gotten smaller.  The radiologist was unable to detect a heartbeat.  We should have seen a fetal pole, the beginning of the spinal column, but that had not developed.  At some point over the last ten days, our baby passed away.

I listened politely and felt my body go numb.  I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, this couldn’t be happening to us.  I felt so numb that it didn’t hit me at first, but after a few minutes, I started to cry.  These were the most painful tears I had ever cried in my life.  Our baby, the one we had dreamed of, the one we had charted for, planned for, and spent almost three years longing for, our miracle baby, had passed away.

doctor and couple

Words cannot describe the pain I felt at that moment, or the pain that would hit me during the coming week.

Always the patient caring practitioner, Dr. C explained what would happen over the next few weeks.  He explained that I needed to stop taking the progesterone suppositories, and that in a few days I would begin to bleed.  It would be like a double period, and should end within a few weeks.  He excused himself, so that we could have some time alone to process all this.

I don’t remember much about that time, I remember being delirious with tears, I remember Frank holding me and expressing his sadness.  I remember us trying to compose ourselves for Dr. C’s return.  We didn’t know what to say or do and we really needed to know what would happen over the coming days.

Dr. C was amazing.  He spent over an hour with us, sharing in our sorrow, sharing a story of his loss of a child, and confirming that our baby was already with God so that we didn’t have to worry.

After spending more than an hour with Dr. C, reviewing the options that were available to us, and making an appointment with a local surgeon in case I needed a D&C if the bleeding got too bad, we composed ourselves enough to go home.

supportive husband

I don’t remember much about that night.  I know we cried more than we ever had in our lives, I know that we called our parents to share the sad news with them.  They took the news as hard as we did.  They expected we’d call to give them the heartbeat and tell them everything would be okay.   None of them had ever been through a loss like this before and other than “let us know if there’s anything we can do” there really wasn’t much to say.

All I could do was ask for their prayers as we went through the process of losing our baby.  There wasn’t anything we or anyone else could do, we just had to let the miscarriage happen, and make sure that I stayed as healthy as possible during the process.

Conquering Food Allergies, the Next Step on This Journey…

The next baby step on this road from infertility to conception is getting my food allergies under control.  At my second appointment with my Naturopathic doctor, I learned that I have food sensitivities to apples, almonds, bananas, corn, dairy, oats, potatoes, and wheat.  These foods are causing inflammation throughout my body and wreaking havoc, and most likely are related to our inability to conceive.

food allergies

Considering that I had cut grains out of my diet more than a year ago; this new list pretty much limits me to eating: meat, fruit, vegetables, water, chocolate and wine.  When I cut grains out of my diet I increased my intake of both dairy and potatoes, so seeing both of them on the list stuck a knife in my heart, not to mention my stomach!

There are two possible ways to deal with this: I could spend time lamenting about all that I have to lose; or I could focus on all that I have to gain by eliminating these foods from my diet, knowing full well that my tolerance of these foods may improve once my body has time to heal.  I have one goal, to become healthy enough to conceive a child and be a mommy.  When we started down this road my husband and I agreed that we would both do whatever it took to become healthy enough to conceive.  This is something I have to do.  I know that if I do not, it may very well be something I regret or at least wonder about for the rest of my life.

Thanksgiving table

Tastiness, and culinary desires aside, it is time to learn to live life anew.   Please don’t think I’m a Pollyanna. There were lots of groans, and some serious mourning of all the delicious foods I was about to eliminate from my diet.

coffee

Yesterday, while I sipped my morning coffee, complete with organic cow’s milk,  I decided to try a day without all these foods  (with the exception of milk in my morning coffee b/c I hadn’t yet purchased coconut milk).  I didn’t do anything crazy like chart my symptoms, or even pay particular attention to what was happening to my body throughout the day.  I had the opportunity to deliver another sample lesson for another potential job, so I started my morning as I might on any other grain free day: with grain free toast, and coffee wtih milk.  After the interview, I came home did a few things and felt lethargic.  Rather than fight the fatigue as I might have if I were working, I decided to be good to myself and see if a nap might help.  I woke up feeling sluggish and didn’t have much go for the rest of the day.  I didn’t feel like myself at all.  That was how I felt when I was working, not when I had been so well rested and healthy as I’ve been on this leave of absence.  I kept my word and did not consume any of the foods the Naturopath identified as allergens for the rest of the day.

Later that evening as I was talking with a friend who understand food allergies very well,  it hit me, I felt like I went through withdrawal yesterday!  I spent the afternoon super tired, and didn’t have any go.  I have been reading Grain Brain By Dr.  David Perlmutter and he talks about our brain reacting to foods that cause inflammation similar to the way it reacts to narcotics, with a high followed by a withdrawal period that produces cravings, moodiness, lethargy, and an overall feeling of blech.  That has how I spent my afternoon yesterday.  Then after supper, which was completely allergen free, I felt great.

 

This morning, I awoke and I’m feeling pretty good.  I have more energy than yesterday and I’m in a pretty good mood.  Having never been a morning person, this is pretty cool.  If I can feel like this every day, staying away from the allergens will be totally worth it!

Chronicles of a Stress Ridden Infertile Part 2

The back story…

It’s been determined that the major source of stress in my life is my job and that it is keeping us from conceiving.  Not okay! Time to make a change.  I’m officially on a two month leave of absence from work. Unofficially I’m looking for a job.  I don’t want to be out of work for two months, but I need a few weeks to regain my health.

What could be so bad you ask?  I’ve gotten this question a lot.  Okay, folks haven’t asked it directly, they’ve said things like, “Everyone is over worked these days!” or “Tell me about it!” and then glared at me like how dare I say such a thing!  How hard could it be?

Let me say first and foremost, I’m not comparing myself to anyone else.  The only thing I’m comparing my workload to is what is in my contract.  My contract binds me to a workday that is seven hours and fifteen minutes.

Typically, teachers work way more than that, no complaints there, it’s part of the job.  When I could work ten hours a day or an average of fifty to fifty five hours per week and feel like I did a good job and accomplished all that was set before me, I was happy.  Things have changed!

This year, in order to accomplish the tasks that were set before me, I spent 10 hours per day at work. Not much of a change there.  After going home and cooking dinner, I’d sit on the couch for another two hours grading or reviewing various essential documents such as individual education plans, or 504 plans which accommodate general education students with handicapping conditions like ADHD. This really isn’t a choice; I am bound by law to accommodate those plans in my instruction, planning, and assessment.  Since these things are not optional and we weren’t given time to do them during our work day, after school, on my own time it had to be.

Again, it wouldn’t be bad if I were able to accomplish all the tasks set before me, however, I never finished! Despite all the work I was doing, I was constantly behind, new tasks were constantly being thrown at me.  Whether it was a new grading program which was implemented with no training, data team meetings every week- for which I had to make sub plans, or the loss of our team time while still having to complete tasks that were previously designated to be accomplished during that time.

too much work

My body started to show signs of extreme stress.  How bad could that be? By itself each sign is no big deal, but ask my husband what it is like to live with a woman who was dealing with everything in the list below, and he’ll tell you it’s not a whole lot of fun!

  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping, including inability to fall asleep and wake well rested
  • A really cool twitch in my left eye
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Perpetual hunger from my stomach producing extra acid in response to circumstances
  • Mid cycle bleeding
  • Delayed ovulation
  • Low hormone levels

 

In short, the effects of stress negated all of the treatment I was receiving from my NaProTechnology doctor!  Not to mention that I virtually had no life outside of work!  We used to entertain friends on the weekends, or I’d spend hours in my craft room, or I’d decorate the house for the particular season we were in.  Not this year, I had time for none of it.

dinner with friends

Then, it hit, the event that held the mirror up to my face and made me see how ugly this had all gotten.  A dear friend of mine lost everything in a fire.  Thank God she wasn’t home at the time, but she and her husband lost all of their possessions, as well as their beloved fur babies.

When I heard about her devastation, I immediately wanted to do anything I could to help;  not that I could restore what she had lost, but I wanted to do something to show her I cared and that she was not alone.  I spent a Saturday afternoon cooking her food and bringing it to her, it was one small gesture that I know she and her husband appreciated.  The following week we had her over for dinner, again these are small gestures that say you’re not alone.  They’re things that I know she would do for me and which made me feel that in some way I was helping her heal from the trauma.

The back lash from these small gestures was monumental.  I spent all day on Sunday doing school work to make up for what I hadn’t done on Saturday.  And during the week that she came over for dinner, I fell way behind at work.  Obviously my job had taken over my life, but there wasn’t any way I could cut back.  There just isn’t such a thing as a part time teacher in our district, nor is there any way I could spend less time on my work and still make sure that all of my students’ needs were met.

Progesterone the Misunderstood Hormone…

Whether you have been diagnosed with infertility, you’re trying to conceive, or you just happen to be a woman; knowing what progesterone is and how it affects your body is an absolute must.  If you’re like me, you sat through years of health class looking at the diagram of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, hearing the same thing year after year, and not learning much. female reproductive diagram

Let’s start with the basics, the stuff they should have told us when we first menstruated, oh so long ago.  During the first half of a woman’s cycle, the estradiol levels rise, the cervix produces cervical mucus which will allows the sperm to travel into the uterus and make their way to the ovaries, where they’ll fertilize the egg- if the ovulation is strong enough.

As estradiol levels rise, a follicle in one of the two ovaries matures.  Ovulation usually occurs within one or two days before or after estradiol levels reach their highest levels of the cycle. At the same time the estradiol levels are rising, the cervix is making mucus.  In the realm of NaProTechnology, the last day of the cycle in which a woman observes mucus is known as peak day.   Peak day typically occurs two days before or after ovulation.   Ideally, estradiol levels should be between 300 and 400 to have an “effective” cycle.

After peak day, your estradiol levels drop, not gradually, sharply.  Estradiol has had its turn, the post peak phase is where progesterone comes into play.  Once your estradiol levels drop and you ovulate, that egg will hang around anywhere between 12-24 hours if you’re lucky.  It could actually be much less.  It’s different for every woman and it’s often different for every cycle.

corpus luteum

That follicle that matured and produced your egg is now known as the corpus luteum, it is responsible for producing the progesterone your body needs.  Your progesterone levels generally reach their highest levels about seven days after your peak day.  If you are trying to conceive, your doctor may draw your “day 21” progesterone levels.  These can be misleading; if you’re not sure when your peak day is, the levels could be off by a few days.  NaProTechnology doctors rely on a peak plus 7 blood draw to assess a women’s progesterone levels, this is much more accurate for most women.

blood_tube

To conceive, your progesterone levels should be above 15, in a medicated cycle.  However, progesterone levels vary from cycle to cycle.  I’ve had cycles where my progesterone was 28 and others where it was 9!

If your body is not producing enough progesterone then pregnancy is virtually out of the question.  Not to mention that your body will continue to make estradiol in the absence of progesterone.  That means you’re at a higher risk for cancers.  During my laparoscopy / hysteroscopy / selective HSG, they actually found a large polyp which they attributed to estrogen levels going unchecked by progesterone.  The polyp was located right where a baby would have implanted.  Good thing we had it removed.  No wonder we were having trouble conceiving!

By the end of your cycle, if you haven’t conceived, your estradiol and progesterone levels will continue to drop and you’ll menstruate.

If your doctor determines that your progesterone levels are too low, you’re not out of luck.  Progesterone can be supplemented!

Once when talking with someone about supplementing hormones, I was asked “Isn’t that dangerous, isn’t that how other women have gotten cancer?”  The difference is in the details, in this case.  Like someone who has diabetes whose body cannot make enough insulin, a woman with low progesterone can supplement her progesterone levels to achieve optimum levels.  Because she is only restoring what nature intended to be there in the first place, there aren’t any risks of illness.  That’s the great thing about NaProTechnology, it only restores what should be there in the first place; it does not expose a woman to the risks that come when using Artificial Reproductive Technology.

NaPro pic

What is progesterone made of?

Progesterone is a hormone which is created by the corpus luteum, the remains of the follicle in which the egg matured.  Like many other hormones, your body makes progesterone from cholesterol.  Let me say that again, you need cholesterol in your diet to produce adequate amounts of progesterone. Yup, that stuff that you may have been avoiding is actually an essential nutrient for ovulation, and conception.

Cholesterol is found in dairy products made with whole milk, and other animal products containing fats such as butter, beef, salmon, etc.  This may explain why women who eat low fat dairy products have a higher incidence of infertility than those who consume dairy products made with whole milk.  Besides, it just tastes better!

cabot greek yogurt

I’ve correlated my diet with my peak plus seven blood draws and have noticed that when I consume Cabot Greek Yogurt with 10% fat, my progesterone levels are in the 20’s.  When I’m not on my Cabot Greek Yogurt kick, my levels aren’t so great.

If you are opposed to including the foods that contain cholesterol in your diet, you can also consume naturally occurring progesterone.  One food with the highest level of naturally occurring progesterone is the yam.  Yams are such a vital source of naturally occurring progesterone that many progesterone supplements are actually made from yams.

Are you surprised?  Stay tuned for more info about progesterone’s role in pregnancy…

Chronicles of a Stress Ridden Infertile Part 1

Here I am on a leave of absence from work.  How did I get here?  Well since I’m a teacher my summer was pretty low stress.  I still worked on curriculum, professional development, and special programs; but I wasn’t teaching.  My hormone levels were all in the effective ranges during my summer cycles.  Everything about me was well within normal ranges, then the school year hit and things changed drastically.  To put it simply it was as though I hadn’t even had my laparoscopy.  My estradiol levels only got into the 160s and since they need to be in the 300s for an effective ovulation, you could pretty much say that my reproductive system shut down due to stress.  I had mid cycle spotting, and my peak day didn’t even come until day 20!  Typically peak day should occur by day 15.  Stress was taking away our chances of having a child.

I didn’t just say “that’s it I quit,” instead I tried to talk with my principal and superintendent about the increase in our work too much workload, the changes in our work day, the fact that two of my classes had more special education than regular ed kids in them and there was no special ed teacher in the room with me.  All of this was stated multiple times.  Our superintendent said she had: “nothing but whiners” in our wing.  Every time I turned around we got more work to do with no time to do it.  They even took away our team time, meaning that our only time to communicate with each other about students and their needs was after school! My typical day meant that I spent 9-10 hours working on school grounds and then another two hours working at home after dinner.

After looking at my hormone levels, Dr. C. my NaProTechnology doctor called and said I needed to come in for an emergency appointment.  Since we already had plans to go away for the weekend, my husband, Frank, came with me.  Boy did he have a lot to tell the doctor.  He’s the one who pointed out the differences between my charts over the summer and during the school year.  It was Frank who also commented on the differences in my CM and its arrival time.  Dr. C had one thing to say about this: “There’s only one of us in this room who can get pregnant and it’s not me.”  I asked Dr. C. if it were possible to get a note for a leave of absence in case I needed it.  He immediately wrote me one after he confirmed that the only cause of the drastic change in my fertility could be stress.

I went back to my superintendent’s office and told her that I had been recommended for a leave of absence.  She was not happy.  To be fair, it’s tough to find someone with one my certifications at this time of year, and it takes the knowledge behind both of my certifications to do what I do.  Too bad.  Had she listened when I tried to tell her what the increased work load was doing to her teachers, we wouldn’t have this problem.  She asked that I give her two weeks to find someone who has the appropriate certification. She put out a call for long terms subs, and I sent an e-mail to my friends and colleagues asking if anyone knew a certified sub who would be willing to take the job.

Midway through the second week, I broke out in hives.  Considering I didn’t eat any new foods, I was pretty sure they were from stress.  The last time I broke out in stress hives was when I was about to lose my job four years ago, so knowing that it was indeed possible, I figured that  had to be it.  I popped a Benadryl, promptly made sub plans, popped another Benadryl and finally stopped scratching.  I became drowsy quickly and fell asleep just before the Sox won the World Series.  In New England, that’s just something you do not do!

substitute teacherWhile I was out of work the next day, I got an e-mail from a prospective sub.  The hives had subsided and I was only resting, so I decided to give him a call.  Since my husband and I had already decided I was looking for another job and had even begun applying, I explained to the sub that there was a possibility that this job might become permanent, he wasn’t sold but he was interested.

I returned to work the following day determined that my LOA begin ASAP.  I informed the superintendent that I had a possible candidate and she was quite surprised since she had none.  At that point I gave her his contact information, told her the date I’d begin my LOA, and got to making 5 days’ worth of sub plans which my contract requires me to do for any prolonged absence.

So why haven’t we conceived yet?

should shrug

I’ve spent the last year as a NaProTechnology patient.  I keep asking myself why we haven’t conceived yet.  Dr. C. says we’re just now approaching prime time for conception and that it should happen within the next year.  If you’ve been following my blog or facebook page, then you know that diligence, not patience is my greatest virtue.

Years ago, a friend of mine told me: “When God whispers in your ear and you don’t listen, sometimes, he smacks you upside the head until you do!” I can’t count the number of times I’ve reminded myself of that quote over the years. Once again, I am reminded of that phrase today!

Four years ago, I was laid off from a job that I was pretty miserable at.  I didn’t want to quit because I pink sliponly had one teaching certification at the time, I was nearing tenure, and I was raised to appreciate the blessings in my life, my job being one of them.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but that layoff was a blessing!  I found another job before the school year was out, spent the summer writing curriculum and was pretty happy that first year.  I was taking two graduate courses, teaching full time, and I was happy with the situation.  Two years later, I finished graduate school and I was ready for some time off since I’d only be working full time.

We were one year into our TTC journey and I hadn’t yet had my first NaProTechnology appointment yet.  I’ll admit I was consumed with the thought of getting pregnant and I threw myself into my work.  Before I knew it I was up to my eyeballs with committee work, a stipend position, the new evaluation system for which our superintendent had volunteered our district. .

When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I finally had a reason for the intense pain I had experienced for years, and eventually I had the laparoscopy.  After that I felt fabulous and I thought that so much of my stress before surgery was due to my pain.

frustrated teacherThe new school year began and although the first three weeks of school are usually full of housekeeping details that are part of setting up our school year, I couldn’t keep up.  Every time I turned around administration was heaping extra duties on us and taking away the time we needed to complete our work.  I was working 60+hour weeks and I still wasn’t getting all of it done!

I’m no stranger to hard work, heck I’ve gotten glowing evaluations for each year I’ve been teaching.  I know what my kids need and I make sure they get it.  Enough about teaching, this post isn’t about my career, rather it’s about how my current teaching job is affecting our chances of conception.

I knew things weren’t right, so I decided to talk to administration about how things are going up on my floor.  We’re all working hard, we all feel as though we’re not accomplishing the tasks we’re charged with, and we’re all feeling defeated before we begin.  Administration was of a different opinion, there were comments made about how we’re in it for the wrong reasons, and other ridiculous remarks.

While I was working like a crazy woman, and begging to get a break, my body was going to pot.  My chart showed evidence of a decrease in health.  I was bleeding like crazy.  Although I wasn’t bleeding heavily, I bled for 16 days out of a 28 day cycle—not at all normal!  My hormone levels were not what they should be, despite taking medication to bring them into the effective zone!  During the previous month, my estradiol levels hit 399, but during my first whole cycle after returning to school, I couldn’t even break 200!  I barely ovulated, if I even ovulated at all!

When Doctor C’s office got the results of my peak plus 7 blood draw, they called me immediately and said I had to come in the following Friday to see what was going on with my body.  Off I went to my appointment with Dr. C, this time my husband, Frank, had the day off and came with me.

We asked if stress might be to blame for the changes in my chart.  Dr. C inquired as to whether I was still on clomid, I was, and whether I had been taking the naltrexone, yes to that as well, and whether I was still on the antibiotics for mucus enhancement, yes again, and finally had I been taking the vitamin D, B6, kelp, Bcomplex, Magnesium, and pycnogenol, yes to everything.  Given that I was following all of my doctor’s orders stress could be the only reason for the decline in health.  It was time to do something about it….

I’m not giving in to the infertility blues!

As I begin a new cycle, I’m tempted to go to that dark place where despair, inadequacy, frustration, and doubt lurk.  Like many women living with infertility, I’ve been there a few times before; regardless of how many times I’ve been there, it’s not a place I’m going today.

despair

There’s no magic reason, no drug or therapist that is responsible for this choice, it’s just me.  As I look at my situation, I have much to be thankful for. Thanks to a NaproTechnology, we have the best chances we’ve ever had!  For the first time that I’m aware of, my body reached the optimum zone for fertility: my estradiol level hit 399 before peak day, optimum ovulation requires it be between 300 and 400; my peak plus seven estradiol level was 116 and my progesterone was 28.  I couldn’t ask for more in terms of chemistry.

And yet I’m not pregnant.  Wish I knew why!  There are some things we’re not meant to know and of course, everything comes in God’s time.  I may very well be like my grandmother (and her mother before her) and give birth after 40.  Who knows what God has planned for me?

baby steps to big dreams

It’s tempting to allow the thought that God does not have motherhood in his plan for me, but I’m not going there, not till I have to.  I will enjoy every beautiful day that is filled with my husband, Frank, and our four beautiful fur babies.  I will appreciate my students for all the joy and richness they bring to my life.  I will appreciate the irony that I have more young women without mothers in my class than ever before, I will be the confidant they need because it gives me purpose on this journey.

I’m not out of hope yet.  My doctor defines that as completing 12 cycles at optimum levels without conceiving.  One down eleven to go.  That’s eleven more tries, eleven more months for my body to get healthy enough to nourish another life.   I feel that I owe it to my body, mind, and soul to give this all I’ve got.

This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  I’m not going to quit or even entertain the thought that motherhood is not in my future.  Why?  Because I’m surrounded by an amazing supportive network of friends, coworkers, church family, even some biological relatives, and of course my amazing husband.  They’ve been my cheerleaders, carried me when I couldn’t get through on my own, and offered innumerable prayers on my behalf.  Their encouragement keeps me going.

friend meme

It would be so easy for them to focus on their own tiny circles and just inquire now and then.  Yet their support is steadfast.  I am blessed to have them in my corner.  During those times I have ended up giving in to despair and allowing myself to feel the letdown of a new cycle, they’ve pulled me out and reminded me what I’m working towards.

Knowing the effects of stress and negativity on the body, I’m not giving in to them.  I refuse to do anything that could make me less healthy.  I’ve given up grains, dyes, artificial foods, changed my lifestyle, and I can see the physical manifestations of these changes.  The evidence that my treatment is working increases by the day.  I won’t do anything to jeopardize that.   I firmly believe that I am on my way towards motherhood and better health.  Nothing, not doubt, stress, negativity, nor despair will jeopardize that.

My Short Career in Our State’s Foster to Adoption Program… Part I

After more than two years on this journey, we had to consider the idea that we might be called to adopt.  Although we had been trying for more than two years, my hormone levels still hadn’t reached the optimum zone.  Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, was starting to question if my body was truly ovulating.

Woman sitting in bed, holding stomach

Since diligence, not patience, has always been my strongest virtue, my first reaction was not to wait and pray about it, but to research how the whole thing happens.  After talking with friends and gathering information, we decided it was something we’d be interested in knowing more about.

This was an easy discussion for us.  When we were newly married and dreaming of our future family, we always saw either adoption or foster care as part of our family.  We love our careers and having married so young,  we thought perhaps adopting once our biological children were in middle school or high school would be a good thing for us and a child who would benefit from being part of a family.  (I’m aware of how presumptuous we were being, thinking we’d just get pregnant and have as many biological children as we wanted)

adopt

We decided that we’d like to adopt a child from our local community and so connected with our state’s foster care / adoption program.  We attended an open house and as luck would have it, we were the only family in attendance.  We got to ask all of our questions and I cried a lot.  Having to tell a total stranger that we were interested in adopting one of the children in their care because we can’t have our own made me feel a little selfish, but it’s the reality we’re living in.  We were looking for a child to foster, and there are plenty of children looking for a home.

We filled out the papers for background checks and made an appointment for our initial home inspection.  Our caseworker told us she’d be looking for two means of egress in the child’s bedroom, making sure that it would be on the same floor as ours, as well as initial overview of our home.  No big deal, we’d just make sure to do the dishes that morning, and make the bed before she came.

meeting

Well the day of our appointment happened to be the same day as our (not so) molar pregnancy.  It was quite the day.  By the time the caseworker arrived at our home, we had been through the wringer, but this was important enough for us to keep our appointment.  Our caseworker met our dogs, viewed our home and pronounced it a perfect place for children.  We were told that some more paper work needed to be done and that we might get an invitation to the upcoming foster parents’ class in early September.

Thank God for keeping infertility a surprise…

Women often say that they wish they had known about their infertility years before trying.  Perhaps they are thinking that they might have been able to do something to change the situation they are in.  Not me, I believe that God has a plan for us all, and specifically that he has a plan for where he wants me.

 

Let me explain, I was pretty foolish in my youth.  I didn’t drink, do drugs, or anything else that was illegal, I was just really self-centered and concerned about me what my life would be in later years. In fairness, my family situation wasn’t the greatest, so planning for a life that allowed me to leave that situation was a priority.  My husband, Frank, and I have been together since our senior year of high school. While I was in college, he worked as an apprentice.  He proposed the day I graduated from college, and long before that we were already starting to plan our life together.  We both wanted to be parents, but agreed that children deserved to have certain things.  We both grew up without certain luxuries and wanted our children to have toys like big wheels, dollhouses, jungle gyms, and a yard of our own to play in.

dream of a family

If I knew that I would struggle with fertility, I would have done things differently, and not for the better.  While many women in college may not think about being a mom one day, I was already dating my husband at the time. When I finished college, we had already been dating for four and a half years.  I can imagine my 20 year old self, saying, “Why finish college?  I’ll never really need the income since I won’t be able to have a family! Why get married after all? If I can’t be a mom, then maybe I’m not meant to be married.”  Had I known that I’d struggle with becoming a mom, I may just have been stupid enough to push the whole idea of marriage right off the table.

Yup, that was me in my 20's!

Yup, that was me in my 20’s!

Regardless, of what the future holds for us, I know that I am a better person because of Frank.  He is my everything.  I know that without him, my life wouldn’t be even a quarter of what it is with him in it.  The life that we share as a couple is ten times better than any life than I ever could have built on my own.  I know this now, but could not have had any hope of comprehending this in my late teens or early twenties.  The me I was always concerned with, has been replaced by “us”  the amazing bond and promise that means we won’t ever be without support, love, or a reason to smile.

supportive husband

So, yeah, I was pretty stupid back then.  But honestly, it doesn’t matter.  I was smart enough to dream that Frank and I could have a life together.  Sooner or later, I know we’ll get there.  I believe we are where we’re supposed to be and there’s a purpose for all this.  Thanks for joining me on this journey!  Love, Catherine

My (NOT SO) Molar Pregnancy Part II

So there were completely devastated over a molar pregnancy.  After church on Sunday, we went to the hospital to have more blood drawn to confirm the diagnosis.  The doctor who was covering for my regular gynecologist over the weekend said that my situation wasn’t an emergency and could wait until Monday morning when I’d be guaranteed an early appointment.

All day Sunday into Monday morning we did nothing but cry and support each other.  I wrote a bit, he worked in the yard, we needed to do things to take our mind off of this terrible situation that was about to take away our ability to conceive for at least 3 months and possibly as long as a year.

supportive husband

Mentally and physically I could deal with having surgery to evacuate my uterus.  That’s no big deal, there wasn’t a baby in there just a “thing” that was growing uncontrollably.  It was the thought of taking oral chemo therapy for an entire month that was devastating.  I had so many questions?  What would it do to me?  Would it affect our chances of conceiving  after treatment was completed?  Would I be able to work? How long would the effects last?  When would I feel like myself again?

At random moments throughout the day, I just burst out crying!  We were so close to becoming parents and it was being taken away from us!

Throughout the day, Dr. C. called to check on us and give us more information on the treatment plan.  He was so patient with me, and answered all of my questions.  I couldn’t have asked him to do any more than he had.

One of the great things about blogging and running the Baby Steps and Tears Facebook page is that I have an amazing support network.  The outpouring of support from the blog and Facebook page were unbelievable!  I really wasn’t in the mood to talk, and I probably couldn’t have spoken much due to the uncontrollable tears.  Being able to connect with supportive people, typing back and forth made such a difference for me!

We needed to be a the hospital on Monday morning, which meant that my husband, Frank, needed to call out of work.  This is something he never does!  He only took one day off this entire summer!  But he swore that I would not go through this alone.  He called his boss, explained the situation, and was told to take as much time as he needed.

As (bad) luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a professional development seminar the following day.  There was no way I’d be able to make it.  I texted my coworkers and filled them in.  Thank God for electronic communication!  There was no way I could have made that phone call.

After a sleepless Sunday evening, we called my gynecologist’s office and got an appointment with Dr. D who was covering for my regular gynecologist.  We got an appointment for 10:30 and headed to the hospital.  First, she reviewed the data she received from Saturday which stated I had an HCG count of 6 million, then she read me the results of Sunday’s lab work.  The HCG level was 2 which signaled that I was not pregnant.  This was quite different than the Saturday’s HCG level which the lab reported as 6million!  She suggested that we do a urine test.  When it came back, the urine test showed that there was no HCG in my blood.  I wasn’t even pregnant at all!

doctor and couple

Once again we were in shock!  How could this happen?  All that we had gone through in the last 24 hours and now to find it to be the result of an error! Okay, to be fair, it wasn’t officially ruled an error yet.  Dr. D ordered more lab work and an ultrasound.  We went to the lab to get my blood drawn then headed out of the hospital to grab something for lunch.

While we were at the restaurant, Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, called.  He was astounded to look at the faxed lab results he had received.  There was no HCG in my blood!  Prior to calling us, he had connected with the lab who confirmed that the first test was an error due to a mechanical malfunction!  We couldn’t believe it and neither could he!  He said he’d keep in touch with us as he learned more about what had really happened.

We arrived back at the hospital and it was ultrasound time.  I got the full work up: an abdominal ultrasound and a trans-vaginal ultrasound.  Yup, lucky me!  Throughout all this, Frank was with me.  He never complained, he just supported me, took care of me, and kept making me focus on the positive.  He was convinced that this would be a mistake and that we’d be able try again sooner than later.

ultrasound machine

Frank was right.  The end result was that it was all because of a lab error.  We were emotionally drained, exhausted, and speechless. The good news was that I didn’t need surgery.  I wouldn’t need chemo, we wouldn’t have to stop trying to get pregnant!

When we got home, I started to notify all those who had been so supportive.  The word went out to the Facebook friends and followers. We e-mailed and called everyone who we had contacted.  They were as shocked as we were.

It took us a few days to recover.  We had barely slept or eaten for more than 36 hours.  Our bodies had run on nothing but pure adrenaline and we needed rest.  We felt as if we were spared from a great tragedy. We prayed and gave thanks.