Tag Archive | infertility

Still blogging and charting…

It makes me so sad that almost four years after starting this blog I am still blogging and still charting.  I’ve come to terms with Frank and I most likely never having a biological child.  I see the more than 200 hundred likes on my Facebook page, and my heart breaks for the 200 families who find themselves in our situation.  I wish I could be more helpful.  I wish medicine took us all seriously.

We’ve gone from wanting to adopt children who needed a home most of all, to admitting they would never be a part of our family.  The work we did identified their intense needs that CPS preferred remain unaddressed because documenting them made the children hard to adopt.

The responses of family and friends can often be its own challenge.  Yes, people mean well.  But most are rather unaware of how raw we are.  In attempts to cheer us up some have commented that things are, “so much quieter now,” with a broad smile.

I don’t expect them to know how deafening the silence of infertility and a failed adoption can be. However, when one moves a loved one to inconsolable tears, an apology usually follows.  Others just ignore things and let them go by without acknowledgement…cookie parties happen and we’re not included because we don’t have kids this year.  What should have been our baby’s due date, passes without acknowledgement.  The anniversary of our loss passes in silence.  There’s either silence or sadness.  Sometimes there’s numbness.

I still chart to monitor my health.  Right now charting is telling me that my endometriosis is most likely coming back.  We knew there was a chance.  The bright side is, another surgery would optimize my fertility again and make conception possible.

We’re also saving for a private adoption.  Since the children have left our home things haven’t gone back to normal as we might have wished, instead things from other realms have popped up: the death of a colleague; the death of a former student at the hand of another former student; friends and loved ones battling illness.  Not really the best time for a home study…but we’re getting things together.

Despite all this, I’m still in it.  I’m exhausted but I’m here…blogging…and charting…barely.  I don’t know if the exhaustion I feel is from all the loss and change, the new puppy who slathers us with kisses, or from endo as it takes a hold.  I’ve known this journey would be long…thanks for walking it with me.  Love, Catherine

Food Allergies and Our Ability to Conceive Part III

Since I first became a NaProTechnology (NaPro) patient 3 years ago, I’ve learned a great deal about my body.  I learned that my reproductive health could be evaluated by examining my bio-markers or biological signals which women’s bodies send out all the time.  And it worked; I did everything I was supposed to, charted the data, which was very valuable when I saw the NaProTechnology physician every three months.  After years of sharing my symptoms with doctors, my NaPro doctor was smart enough to diagnose my endometriosis,  and suggested I have surgery to remove it. doctor meeting with patient

Even after all this, I still wasn’t feeling fabulous.  At my first visit with my NaPro doctor, he thought I might have some difficulty digesting grains, so I stopped eating them and although I felt better, I didn’t feel as healthy and well as I should have.  Jordan, the same NaPro mentor and amazing friend who gently nudged me into seeing a NaPro doctor in the first place, suggested I see her Naturopathic Doctor.  Since I still wasn’t feeling the greatest, I went.  Even if she told me there was nothing she could do to help me, I would know that I had done everything possible to conceive.

It turned out there were a lot of factors causing inflammation in my body, specifically other food allergies.  I was identified with allergies to: apples, almonds, bananas, corn, dairy, eggs, all grains, potatoes, and soy.  It took a long time to completely eliminate these from my diet; but when I did–boy did I get results.  In addition to finally feeling better, my fertility went from a subfertile diagnosis of ovarian dysfunction, to fertile, to optimum hormone levels.  My NaPro doctor actually asked what meds I was taking to get post peak estradiol levels above 200 and progesterone levels above 15.  I wasn’t taking any prescription meds, just the vitamins my Naturopath prescribed.  Oh, I also lost 17 pounds!

naturopath medicine

There I was with peak fertility, a great body, but still no baby.  Month after month, the story was the same we wondered why.  My husband, Frank, finally wondered if his health might have something to do with it.  So asked himself, which did he want more food or fatherhood?

Fatherhood won out in the end, so it was off to the naturopath.  We learned that just as my food allergies had affected my fertility, food allergies could very well affect Frank’s fertility.  Once again, it was blood draws and a three week wait for the results.

The results weren’t surprising.  Frank’s body reacted to many foods, including: wheat, corn, rice, peanuts, yeast, eggs, and casein- the protein in dairy.  His A1C- the best rating of blood sugar- rated him at risk for diabetes, his testosterone was low, and his CRP showed he was at risk for a heart attack, his testosterone levels were so low that conception was impossible.

dreams of being a dad

I had gone from sub-fertile to optimum, and he had gone from fine to “sub-fertile.”   As much as Frank loves food, he loved the idea of being a dad more, and so he decided to make some changes!

Food Allergies & Our Ability to Conceive Part II

Allergies word cloud

Three months after my food allergies were identified; I learned to live a life free of: apples, almonds, bananas, corn, all dairy including butter, all grains except rice, potatoes and soy.   Although I had made these changes, I didn’t learn about them in time for it to make a difference in my pregnancy. There I was, back in the office of Dr. M, my Naturopath, the doctor who had helped me identify my food allergies and MTHFR genetic mutations, copies A&C.

Though I was no longer pregnant, I was more determined than ever to get healthy enough to conceive again. In fact, the thought of having a baby to hold was what got me through most days.

I won’t say that I was excited about getting my results. I spent most days surrounded in a cloud of grief, my body still bleeding as my levels of HCG, the pregnancy hormone, declined.

At the follow up appointment, I was ready for the results of all my hard work.   Dr. M asked if I stuck to my diet. I replied I had, with the occasional unknown exception. I was bracing myself for bad news. I thought it hadn’t worked, I thought my efforts had left my values unchanged. I was surprised when Dr. M revealed the results.

proud-woman-in-red

“Your results certainly show you’ve been working hard. You’ve done as much in three months as some of my patients do in a year!”

I was so happy to hear something was working!

Although I was overwhelmed with grief from the loss of our child, this good news gave me hope that we might be able to conceive again one day.

It was two and a half months after our loss; and yet, my HCG levels had not yet hit zero; and so we were not allowed to try to conceive. Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, suggested we wait three months after my levels hit zero to avoid having sequential miscarriages. The idea of going through another loss was something I couldn’t even handle thinking about! After a D&C we waited three months before we even considered trying.

couple grieving

Those three months were a time of healing for us. We cried a lot. Sometimes we walked around as empty shells that just went through the motions of everyday life. We didn’t feel much other than pain. We did the best we could to put one foot in front of the other. Thank God, we had each other! I can honestly say I would not have made it through this time without the support of my amazing husband, Frank.

Just as we were getting ready to try again, I received a letter from Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, telling me he was closing his practice to help other doctors learn to treat patients with the respect and kindness for which he is famous.

I was devastated, again! There I was, about to get back on the TTC roller coaster, and my doctor was getting out of the NaProTechnology business!!! It was one of those moments that made me question my journey in life and whether I was following God’s plan for me or walking the path of my own desires and wants. I quickly reminded myself that while I am strong willed; I am not patient. The only reason I could have ever stuck on the TTC roller coaster after IUI, surgery for endometriosis, and a miscarriage would be because God was with me, giving me the strength to take each step down this path. I reminded myself of something I said to my dear friend, Jordan, a few weeks before she conceived her miracle baby: “God wouldn’t have gotten us this far, only to leave us here.” I wasn’t going to quit.

Still, I had a problem. I needed a new doctor. Thankfully, Dr. C had included a list of possible new NaProTechnology doctors in his farewell letter. I made an appointment for August and called Dr. C to request lab work. He authorized estradiol and progesterone levels to be drawn on peak plus 7, what we NaPro patients call 7 days after ovulation.

Analysis of blood in the hands of a medical

Analysis of blood in the hands of a medical

If you’re uncertain as to why my doctor ordered estradiol and progesterone levels, the short explanation is that based on those levels NaProTechnology doctors prescribe doses of ovulation assisting medications such as letrozole, to help compensate for any ovarian dysfunction. I was unable to conceive without this medication the first time, so I was fairly certain I would need to take the medication again.

The results of the estradiol and progesterone tests were very surprising. While I was previously unable to conceive without the assistance of medication, the initial peak plus seven blood draw showed that I wasn’t having this difficulty eight months after miscarriage. My post peak estradiol was 249 and my progesterone was 28.4. I was stunned. The test results showed my levels were above normal, they had reached the optimum range for conception. Other than my vitamins, I was taking no medications.

To put this in perspective, to conceive, the post peak level of estradiol should be above 120 and progesterone should be above 15. I had gone from sub-fertile to fertile!

My husband, Frank, and I were over joyed. It appeared that it would only be a matter of time before we conceived! We followed doctor’s orders, taking the vitamins, and mucus enhancers to compensate for the damage done to my cervix by years of birth control.

Month after month my peak plus seven blood draws continued to be in the optimum range. And yet we had not conceived. At my first appointment with my new NaProTechnology physician, Dr. R flat out asked why I was there with numbers like those.

Food Allergies & Our Ability to Conceive Part I

It’s almost a year after we conceived and our lives are forever changed. How could they not be? In one moment we were given everything we ever wanted, only to lose it a few weeks later. The weeks which followed our miscarriage were filled with the most raw, indescribable pain we had ever experienced. There was nothing we could do, we just held on while my body went through the process of losing our child. We were hopeful that things would happen naturally and at least I’d be able to avoid surgery. That was not to be. My body took forever for my HCG levels to decline. I ended up in surgery almost four months after the loss had begun.

couple grieving

Shortly before I learned I was pregnant I made an appointment with a Naturopathic doctor to investigate food allergies. Thanks to Dr. C, my first NaProTechnology doctor, I knew that I had a grain allergy; however I was suspicious that there might be other allergies which were keeping us from conceiving.

By the time of my first appointment, I was already pregnant. It was Christmas time, and we had received the best Christmas gift ever! There was nothing else would could ask for!

My appointment happened to be on Christmas Eve day, I went with the thought that good nutrition would be important during my pregnancy and whatever knowledge she gave me would make my pregnancy a healthier one.

At the appointment, my Naturopath, Dr. M, explained that there were two types of allergies: IgE allergies, the kind that result in anaphylaxis; and IgG allergies which are sensitivities and cause a high amount of inflammation in the body. When there’s inflammation in the body, conception can’t happen since reproduction is the first thing the body shuts down when it’s in distress.

She explained that by identifying the food allergies and removing them from my diet, my pregnancy would be easier, and my baby would be healthier. That was enough for me! My husband, Frank, and I had tried to conceive for almost three years; there was nothing that I would not do to ensure we had a successful pregnancy.

Pregnant woman rubbing her belly

I was a bit surprised to learn that there wasn’t any different in what she had planned for me than had I not been pregnant.  I still had to do the blood draws, identify the allergens, then return in two weeks to get the results and make a plan to get healthy. We celebrated Christmas and rejoiced in knowing that we would soon be parents. I ate even more than usual at Christmas dinner; as I wasn’t sure which foods would be off my plate after my allergy tests results came in.

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­­­­­­­­­­­­ Before I ever thought of visiting a Naturopath; I learned that I had an allergy to grains during my first visit with my NaProTechnology doctor in October of 2011. At first I wasn’t very sure about that, but since I had gained 24 pounds in a year, and no other doctor or nutritionist could explain why, I figured I might as well try to get grains out of my diet and see what happened.

It was hard, but I lost ten pounds, and found more energy than I’d had in a while.

Even though I had eliminated all grains from my diet, I still hadn’t lost the 24lbs of weight which I gained without any dietary changes. Deep down I wondered if I had missed something.

Since my, friend, mentor, and NaProTechnology sister: Jordan, conceived her baby after working with a naturopath, I figured it was one more thing I could at least cross off the list. If it worked, our prayers would be answered; and if not, we would know that we had done absolutely everything possible to make conception happen.

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 long list

After the New Year, my Naturopath presented me with the list of foods my body was reacting to; and I nearly hit the floor! I had been eating these foods forever! Because grains had already been eliminated from my diet, I was relying more heavily on other foods, and boy did my allergy results show it!

When a person is not allergic to a particular food, their sensitivity results will be below 2.0, any result above 2.0 indicates an allergy which is causing an inflammatory response.

My test results showed that I was allergic to:

  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Corn
  • Casein (the protein in dairy—good by cheese and butter!)
  • Egg whites
  • All grains except rice & barley (no wheat, no oats, no sorghum, no amaranth, quinoa, teff, or any other grains)
  • Potatoes
  • Soy

After the doctor scraped me off the floor, I didn’t know what to say. How could I be allergic to these foods and not know it?

Dr. M had also done another test, CRP, which showed that the high levels of inflammation in my body were actually putting me at a higher than average risk of a heart attack.  I also learned I had a genetic mutation which needed to be treated through diet and supplements.  I have two copies of the MTHFR mutation, one A and the other C.  Dr. M explained that my healthy habits of exercising 3x per week, and abstaining from all grains had helped us to get pregnant despite these defects.  But there were still some effects of these mutations, such as constant fatigue, which I did not have under control.

There was no way that I was going to stand for all that, I was going to learn to live without those foods and take the supplements she prescribed no matter what! After discussing my already grain free diet with Dr. M, I explained that I had already developed my own recipe for grain free bread, and that eating it made me feel normal. Although it contained eggs, she gave me permission to continue eating it if that was my one and only cheat.

She explained that my health would not improve over night, but by  following her treatment plan, we would decrease our chances of miscarriage, and increase our chances of having a healthy baby.

Angels’ Playground

When I first learned we had lost our baby, my heart was broken.  Like any mother, I was so worried about where our baby would go, and what would happen until we get there.  I’ve often dreamed of the moment when I will meet that child and so many of my questions will be answered.  For now, this is the place where I believe our children wait for us, playing together, under the care of loved ones who have gone before us, until we are able to hold our dear little ones one day. 

angels playing 1

Angels’ Playground

 

Somewhere beyond the Pearly Gates in Heaven, past the choirs, and the altars, lies Angels’ playground: the place where Angel babies await their mommies and daddies. The benches are filled with Grandmas, Grandpas, Great Grandparents, Aunties, and Uncles who are charged with the task of caring for these little angels until their mommies and daddies arrive.

angel playing 4

There is laughter like the Earth has never heard as these beautiful angels swing, run, and play. They hang upside down from monkey bars and chase each other, all as they pass the time waiting for that magical moment when they can meet the people whose love created them.

angels playing 5

When you enter, you hear one unique sound among the others: it is a laugh your heart immediately recognizes. Among the hordes of little angels, one stops playing, turns to you and smiles. You recognize that face! It has Mommy’s eyes, Daddy’s nose and the smile you always dreamed you would see.

angel boy

You smile as your Angel runs towards you as fast as those tiny legs will carry them. You feel your baby’s arms around your neck and embrace your child for the first time ever. The love you have carried in your heart for years finally connects with the little person whom you have so dearly missed. Your heart melts as you hear those long awaited words for the first time, “Mommy, Daddy, I love you!” “I love you, Angel!” you say as you embrace your little one. The moment you have waited for has finally arrived. You have reconnected you’re your Angel who left for heaven so long ago.

mommy angel embrace

Counting My Blessings…

As we are once again about to embark on our TTC journey, I decided to write a blog post about all the blessings in my life that I am truly grateful for. Saying there are too many to count would dismiss the beautiful blessings that are in my life every day. So here’s a brief list of the blessings for which I give thanks every day!

cross

 

  1. Faith

This list would be incomplete without giving faith its rightful place here. I’m not talking denomination, how often worship happens, or where it happens; I’m referring specifically to faith in God. Notice I didn’t say my faith? My faith has been far from rock solid through all this. I have questioned God’s plan for me more times than I can remember. I have begged him to reveal his plan for me. I often find his answers to me coming from my mouth in conversation with other NaPro sisters and friends.

God would not have gotten us this far, only to leave us here,” was my response to Jordan my dear friend and NaPro sister just as she was finishing her year of TTC and wondering if she might never have a child. She conceived her beautiful daughter in her next cycle. What could strengthen my faith better than my own NaPro mentor conceiving her miracle baby? Later, during my pregnancy, when another NaPro sister and I were speaking about her miscarriages and whether she should continue to try to conceive another child, I said, “What if your losses were God’s way of telling you that you can one day hold a child in your arms? What if that was God’s way of encouraging you to keep going, when you were about to give up trying?” Faith in God, in his plan, and in his mercy have given me peace and a way to understand this journey.

 

crafting woman

 

  1. Creativity

Whether it is in the kitchen, in paper crafts, or in my ability to plan engaging lessons for my students, creativity blesses and enriches my life every day. The ability to create delicious foods from grain free ingredients has made it possible to remove so many allergens from my diet without sacrificing taste or enjoyment. Sharing this creativity with others has blessed me with delicious meals, good company, and laughter that is often absent when one lives with the ghosts of infertility and miscarriage. I am blessed to share this gift with others.

 

Woman packing up boxes

  1. The circumstances which have caused me to leave the various school districts I’ve worked for.

As I am about to leave my school district, I can’t help but be thankful for the circumstances which have led me to this decision. As a matter of fact, each time I have left a district, I have grown in ways I never could have imagined. When I left my first district to go to the second, I was happy: the money was better, it was a more secure job, and then in my second year there, I pursued a masters’ degree in a discipline which I never would have considered had I stayed in that first district. When the second district eliminated my program, it was the pursuit of that degree that made me the most qualified candidate for the position which my third district was advertising. After being let go from the second district, I made the decision to continue my studies beyond the typical 30 credit hours required for a masters’ degree. The additional certification I earned, coupled with all the grueling work I did in the third district are the reason that I am able to move on this fourth and hopefully final school district. Like infertility, these circumstances are not blessings which I would have chosen, but there’s no denying the way each and every one of these unexpected circumstances have blessed my life

 

  1. Infertility

Yes, you read that right. I consider infertility a blessing in my life. It’s not as though it’s a diagnosis or phase of life that I would ask for; but I understand its purpose in my life. Had we been able to conceive with all the challenges we had three years ago, I would not have been healthy enough to be the mommy that I want to be. I would have been constantly ill with stomach aches that I thought were “nerves” or “acid reflux;” my endometriosis would have continued to grow and may have resulted in a hysterectomy at some point. I never would have known about my food allergies or allergies to petroleum based products. This would have meant that I could pretty much count on some type of cancer later on in life; either from an immune system that was weakened by constantly fighting endometriosis, from a gut that had been terrorized by allergens for decades, or by an endocrine system that was worn down and malfunctioned due to the increased amount of insulin and other hormones it needed to produce to try and digest all the undiagnosed food allergens as well as it possibly could. I am a better person because of my infertility.

 

4 dogs

 

  1. My furbabies.

For just a few cups of kibble a day, I am blessed with the unconditional love and companionship of four amazing furbabies. All of them have their own personalities and different needs. There is never a dull moment in my life because of them. Their antics, unpredictable surprises, and ever wagging tales bless my life with purpose, the ability to be a mommy, and an endless supply of snuggles and kisses.

Friendly Medical professionals

  1. My doctors.

It cannot be easy to pursue NaProTechnology, NaProSurgery, or Naturopathy. Traditional medicine which prescribes the pill, IVF, and the FDA’s latest diet as gospel, has a prevalent hold on our medical system. It is because of their efforts that we were able to conceive our child. It must take such a courageous person to stand up and make a career out of such fields which are familiar to so few. These amazing people pursue their passions casting aside their time, wealth, and even their families.   It is because of their knowledge that I have transformed from an infertile riddled with undiagnosed endometriosis, an innumerable list of undiagnosed food allergies to a physically fit fertile woman who continues to improve her health with every bite she takes.

8 week ultrasound expect image

  1. Our baby

Despite our loss, the grief that we feel is an expression of the love which we will forever carry. Though our baby only lived in my womb for nine weeks, his or her brief life forever changed the world by making us parents. We take comfort in knowing that the loss of our child was in no way due to our actions but rather the result of a genetic anomaly called a blighted embryo. From the moment we knew we were pregnant, I have given thanks every day for the beautiful gift of our child.

 

women hanging out

 

  1. My supportive friends, family, blog followers, sisters in NaProTechnoloy, and all those who have supported me during this loss.

At first it may seem strange to lump of all of these different individuals together, but for so many it’s impossible to distinguish who is more family than friend, or who might be a friend who is family. The lack of lines in between these groups is a true testament to the unconditional acceptance you’ve given me. This network of supportive individuals includes so many people with whom I used to have nothing in common; and yet God brought us together as friends through graduate school, the gym, work, church, other friends, or here on line. The unconditional support, friendship, and persistent silent companionship of these individuals has made me feel as though I am never without a friend on this journey.

husband

  1. My amazing husband.

My husband, Frank, has been my rock, my soulmate, and the yang to my yin. He completes me. His support and patience are ever present. When I need cheering on, he is there; when my own strength cannot hold me up, he gives me his; when there’s a new grain free recipe to try, he will at least always take a bite! He makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, and never lets me take things too seriously. He’s the best, and I am a better person because of his love.

 

Reflecting on My Identity After Miscarriage…

Sometimes I just can’t find the words to express all that is going on. One moment, I’m okay, the next moment I’m falling apart. With infertility, there were moments when I would tear up unexpectedly, and those still continue. Now, after miscarriage, there are moments when I just want to run away and hide.

The other night, my husband, Frank, and I were visiting friends at their campsite. We were having a nice time, hanging out, drinking wine, and eating delicious food. As we were getting to know the other guests, the dreaded question came up, “Do you have any kids?” Wow. There’s nothing that can take me back to that place of terror, fear, failure, and inadequacy like that question.  It was a total “deer in the headlights” moment.

deer in headlights

I don’t know how to answer that question. I hope one day I get to a place where I can be one of those moms who has children to gush over. But for now, as a mom without any living children, it’s a tough one for me. My standard answer is, “Our kids have cold noses, four legs, and tails.” After an initially puzzling moment, most people figure it out. If they have any tact whatsoever, they usually leave it alone. Thank God our new campfire friends didn’t pursue it that evening!

We had a great time at the campfire. Everyone was welcoming and the rest of the night went smoothly. We couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

campfire

The next morning, I got to thinking about my response to the question, “Do you have children?” My initial reaction was one of stone cold fear and terror. I don’t have anything to be ashamed of! So, why was I afraid? I was afraid of being judged. I felt that saying we don’t have children was the same as telling them we’re struggling with infertility.

 

Like it or not, infertility and miscarriage are looked upon as defects and eyesores which can be fixed as easily as any dent or bent fender. Not so.  Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Like heart disease, cancer, colitis, depression, diabetes, or any other legitimate medical condition: treating the symptoms won’t cure the disease; the disease itself must be treated! There isn’t a quick fix to this. It’s a long road we travel.

long road to travel

 

Many couples never experience a successful conception. Others conceive, yet never hold a child in their arms. The physical and emotional trauma we experience all for a chance at having a child, is not something that words can express. In my case, being a NaProTechnolgy patient adds two extra elements to this:

1. I’m in overall better health because of the treatment plan we’ve chosen; and

2. It’s even more difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t know progesterone from potatoes.

Perhaps that is why I have trouble answering that dreaded question, “Do you have any kids?”

Experiencing a miscarriage in January 2014 created a wound which will forever scar our hearts. It was as though we had been given everything we had ever wanted only to have it ripped away before we could even fully experience all its glory, joy, and splendor.

 

couple grieving

As painful as this was, and honestly still is, it has nothing to do with my identity as a woman, my self-worth, nor is it anyone’s business. So, why do people feel the need to ask if we have children? If we did, wouldn’t we share that information? I don’t ask people if they have pets. I let them tell me about their family.

 

If I ever want things to change, I have to be part of that change. That means, I can’t be afraid or ashamed when asked that question. I shouldn’t feel as though I need to make excuses or that I owe anyone an explanation. I need to be able to confidently say, “No, we don’t” and leave it at that.

Adivce for Those in Miscarriage Land

When we learned our baby had passed away it was as though we were instantly transported to miscarriage land, the place where our worst nightmare became reality.  We were distraught.  In between the agonizing pain there were moments of numbness which were a Godsend.  Not feeling anything at all was preferable to feeling as though we had been rubbed with sandpaper inside and out.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-image33560972

There we were in miscarriage land with no knowledge of what to expect.  Our NaProTechnology doctor shared an overview of what might happen, explaining that it would be like a “double period.”  He did his best to share a brief overview of what might happen.  He expected that I’d bleed for a week or two and within 6 weeks my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels would reach zero.  We’d have to wait three cycles before trying again. And then we’d resume our prior course of treatment.

He referred me to a local gynecologist who explained the three possible options to me.  I could either let things happen naturally, take a drug that would induce the expulsion of the contents of my uterus or have a D&C.  I chose the natural path.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-confused-woman-puts-her-hands-head-image26175683

The next phase of my journey included many things that my doctors didn’t tell me.  Maybe they didn’t know, maybe they thought it was best I discover them on my own, maybe they thought it wasn’t their place to share them.  Thanks to some amazing friends who helped me along the way, and my therapist, I’ve managed to make it through this without losing my mind.  I’ve put together the most helpful information I can.  Some are things I was told, others are things I picked up along the way.  If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them as best I can.  Or find answers if I can’t answer your questions on my own.  You are in my prayers!

If you find yourself in miscarriage land, disoriented and not knowing where to go, here’s some information you might find useful…

*There is no flight plan for miscarriage. No natural pattern. (I was shocked to learn this)  As long as your HCG levels continue to drop week by week, you are okay.  Unless, like me, you are three months into a natural miscarriage, and need a D&C.
*You have to decide what is right for you. You may chose to have a D&C because getting this phase over is of the highest importance to you. You may want to take medication which forces your uterus to contract and expel its lining; you also have the option wait for the process to occur naturally. It takes a long time, and it is often frustrating, but it will preserve your fertility without side effects.

*This will put strain on your heart, mind, and spirit in ways that are indescribable, find some way to express yourself as you go through the process. This may mean hiring a therapist, picking up an interest or passion that has gone by the wayside, or delving deeper into something you already enjoy. Keeping your feelings locked inside you is the worst thing you can do, it will cause you to hurt even more than you are hurting now.

crafting woman

*This will last much longer than you expect it to. And just when you think it’s gone, you will find something that will trigger your feelings and bring you back to that place of indescribable loss. However terrible the anguish, pain, and sorrow you feel during these times, they will pass. They will become less frequent, and you are allowed to have fun in between!

*People may criticize or comment on the way you are going through this process. Screw them. Don’t waste your time or energy explaining this to them, they don’t have to understand to be your friend.  They just need to be your friend.  If they don’t get that, it’s okay for you to move on without them.

Lost and Confused Signpost

*People will not know how to respond to your loss. You may want to tell them something like this, “There’s nothing anyone can do to make up for the loss we are experiencing. We don’t expect that you will say the right things, or do the right things, just being our friend, and being there for us is all we ask”

*People may ask how you are feeling. I found this particularly offensive. I wanted to say, “Seriously my child died, let me tell you about the particular level of my own private hell I’m experiencing today.” I found it better to say, “I’m as okay as I can be” or “I’m hanging in there”

*There is no wrong way to go through this. You have to do what is right for you. Try to lean on those whom you know you can count on. It’s okay to accept support from friends, family, and even weird NaPro Bloggers like myself. No one should go through this alone, it doesn’t make you heroic if you try to keep a stiff upper lip, but you will have those moments where you have to put your grief in a box to get through the day.

angel baby

*It’s okay to honor love and remember your baby daily. Every life, no matter how brief, leaves an indelible mark on this world, especially on the heart of a grieving mommy and daddy.

You are in my prayers.  If you have questions, or just need to talk you can reach me by commenting below or going to my facebook page.  You are not alone in this.  Love, Catherine

Miscarriage & Insensitivity

I am continuously surprised by the insensitivity of others. If there is nothing nice to say, the least someone can do is say nothing at all. Not in our family however. We kept the news about our pregnancy discrete deliberately because we didn’t want to have to deal with everyone knowing our sorrow and holding it up to our faces when we’d rather grieve in private.

couple grieving

This is something that is not uncommon. Many couples don’t disclose their pregnancy until they are in their second trimester because of the very same reason. Our culture doesn’t have a place or even a word for a parent who has lost a child, so grieving in private is how we cope.

About a month and a half after our miscarriage, I was on the phone with one of the few people who knew of our pregnancy and loss. We had made it clear how important it was not to disclose the news until we heard the heartbeat, and when we didn’t we thanked everyone for not sharing our news as we did not want this to be broadcast to the rest of the world. So, when she told me that she disclosed our miscarriage to a distant relative whom I haven’t seen in a decade, I was more than hurt.

woman crying on the phone

I couldn’t help but interrupt her at that point. How could she share our private business with the world as if it were her own?

I lost it. I raise my voice and expressed my displeasure at her choice to share my personal information without my permission. Her response was stunning, “it’s over now” Over? Over? I was still bleeding at the time of this conversation. I hadn’t had my D&C and I was pretty raw.

I couldn’t believe she thought it was over. For me it wasn’t over, it isn’t over. I’m still mourning the loss of my child, feeling raw inside and out. As shocking as it was to hear that she thought it was over, the next few minutes of our conversation took her coldness and cruelty to a new level.

oh no you didn't

Grieving mother: “How could you share my private business with her? I asked you not to share this with anyone!”

Insensitive individual : “So I can’t tell anyone then. Will I be allowed to tell people when you’ve had a child?”

Grieving mother: “Seriously? This is not about you! You do not get to make this about you! This is my personal health and well-being, this is not your business to share!  Never mind the fact that you have no respect for me and the process I’m going through”

The conversation ended shortly after that. It has been almost two months since then. I have not spoken to this person once since. And if you’ve been following my blog, this is the same person who was cold enough to mention nothing but babies the day Prince William & Princess Kate’s baby was born, and the same person who ditched me in the middle of a crisis.

Family or not, I’ve had enough. This person needs to find someone else to bother. I haven’t heard from her in more than two months and I don’t feel the need to involve her in my life. ON the one hand I should have made that decision long ago. On the other hand, having waited this long, I feel no guilt, no remorse. Instead life is better without her and her negativity.

The Never Ending Miscarriage

Just when I thought my miscarriage had ended, there I was, back in the throes of uncertainty, and waiting to see just where my wheel of fortune would land.

A while ago, I was positively elated.  After nearly 90 days of bleeding, I thought my miscarriage had ended, and I had what I thought was period.  At the moment I can’t really tell you if that was truly a period, all I can say is that I had the normal crescendo pattern that is characteristic of menstruation:  light bleeding which builds up to a heavy red flow, then tapers to medium, then light, and finally very light brown bleeding.  However after that “period” ended things started to get really weird.

Lost and Confused Signpost

On Monday, the first day of my April Vacation, I took a late shower and decided to spend some time taking care of my body.  As I was getting dressed, I felt water on my leg.  This was odd, because I remembered drying off fairly well, just a few moments before.  I didn’t think much of it until I felt more moisture accumulate and run down my leg.  One glance told me it wasn’t water, it was blood.

Immediately, I ran to the bathroom, sat on the toilet and watched way too much blood pour out of me.  I stayed there for a few more minutes as I bled, then grabbed the thickest pad I could find and got myself situated so that I could leave the bathroom.  I was stunned by the amount of blood I had left on the bedroom carpet, but forced myself to ignore the stains so that I could call Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor.

woman crying on the phone

I reached Dr. C’s answering service.  It was just after 12:00, and his office had closed for lunch.  I left a message explaining my circumstances.  Thankfully, I had been given the low down on bleeding numerous times during my miscarriage.  I set the timer on my phone, knowing that if I completely filled the sanitary pad within the hour, I would have to head to the ER.  I was beyond scared as I waited.

I bled and waited; waited and bled.  I doused the carpet in disinfectant and blotted it with a rag, trying to remove the blood.  Finally when the phone rang it was doctor C, my NaProTechnology doctor.  Dr C, is the amazing doctor who is responsible for us getting pregnant in the first place.  When other doctors said it could only be done via IVF, Dr. C helped us conceive naturally.  Despite the way our pregnancy ended, I will be forever grateful to him for helping us conceive.

Although my miscarriage had been handled by my local OB, Dr. C remained well informed of what was happening.  All my labs were copied to him, so he was aware that nearly three months after the baby had passed away my HCG levels hadn’t yet hit zero.  When he asked about the bleeding, I explained that I had what I thought was a period about a week prior to the unexpected heavy bleeding.

doctor on the phone

That’s when he said it, “It sounds like you’ll need a D&C.”  I had been through so much while trying to preserve my fertility and avoid unneeded medical intervention, only to be forced to the OR?  I wanted to vomit.

I asked if he was 100% certain, of course, he said no, and encouraged me to connect with the local OB.  I contacted the doctor with whom I had been working only to learn that she was on vacation.  The doctor covering for her asked that I go for yet another HCG blood draw.  We were hoping that it would show my levels had hit zero and that this gush was the grand finale of my monster miscarriage.

Twenty-four hours after the blood draw, I learned that my HCG levels had not hit zero.  They were still at 32.  Because I had experienced a period, we didn’t know if they were on their way up or down.  When I inquired as to the next steps in this process, the nurse said I should get another blood draw in a few days, and then have an ultrasound if there was still HCG in my blood.

I could see this headed towards a D&C.  Dr. C said it earlier, and I’ve never known him to be wrong.  I didn’t want to wait for another blood draw; I wanted to expedite this process.  I asked if it was possible to do the ultrasound instead of waiting.  After receiving the on call doctor’s permission to do the ultrasound, I made the appointment.woman having an ultrasound

 

By this time the heavy bleeding had stopped and started again.  It established a pattern of 6-12 hours between gushes.  The gushes included large amounts of heavy bleeding with clots of blood or tissue.  They continued through the day on Tuesday, into Wednesday, and through Thursday.

I’m not someone who waits around.  I persistently called the doctor’s office, telling them I was still bleeding, leaving messages for nurses, and asking for the ultrasound results. On Thursday, three days after I first called the office and informed them of the heavy bleeding, they finally told me I’d need to see a doctor.  They were darn lucky I hadn’t bled to death in the process.  Although, perhaps they were waiting for my situation to worsen and lead me to the ER so it wouldn’t be their problem.  I can’t ever know, but looking back on all this, I’m thinking it’s time to find another OB/GYN office.

Male doctor talking to couple in waiting room

Earlier that week, Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, told me I’d need a D&C, and I was pretty sure that that’s what I was going there for.  Sure enough during my appointment, we scheduled a D&C for the following day.