to test or not to test

I’m currently 12 days post IUI and I haven’t cracked yet. I still have yet to sneak into my bathroom and test in advance of my beta on Thursday morning. I keep debating when I should, if I should. I make the decision to do it and then I change my mind, feeling too hesitant and anxious.  And so I’ve come to one conclusion.

I have FOPOAS. 

Fear Of Peeing On A Stick.

That little stick has so much power over me. It can rip my heart out of my chest, sending my tear-streaked face down another dark spiral. Or it can quietly offer the promise of joy. That double line will stare back at me and whisper, you’ve been through so much, but the end of your heartache is near.

I stare at my unopened boxes of pregnancy tests and silently ask, are you going to be kind to me? I try to tap into my psychic powers and visualize which result it will be. But despite my attempts at reading the future and sweet talking those sticks into making a deal with me, I’m too afraid to know the answer.

One thing infertility and pregnancy loss has taught me is how to prepare for disappointment. So much so, that I experience preemptive depression during my two week wait. A subconscious progression from enthused and positive during the days leading up to ovulation, to slowly feeling more and more demoralized during the two weeks that follow. I start to doubt, start being afraid to think too positively, start being afraid of the let down. I become consumed with the idea that it’s another failed cycle, and quickly the sadness kicks in, the frustration, and the early depression. 

It’s in those moments I’m most tempted to test.

Those moments where I start to feel like I am going crazy. My knack for bracing for bad news and the added progesterone hormones create a perfect storm of torment and tears. I rationalize that no matter the news that the test brings, I can’t feel any worse. I’m already feeling this way because I’m so certain it will be negative. But maybe, just maybe it will be positive. That tiny sliver of hope that we all cling to as our life line. Just maybe, I’ll take the test and it will be positive, and I will be relieved of these horrible feelings.

But still, I don’t test.

I worry the most about ambiguous results. Is it the trigger? Is it not the trigger? Is it too early? Maybe it’s not too early?

I worry about dragging out the pain of a negative result longer than I need to. If I test at 10DPO and it’s negative I will cry, even when I can rationalize that maybe it’s too early. And then I’ll spend 4 days feeling terrible and upset, only to get another confirmed negative through the beta, and have to relieve all those feelings over again.

And often, it’s my good moments that keep me from testing. The times where I feel okay and hopeful, and I don’t want the feeling ripped from me just yet. 

I will force myself to test before I get the call from the nurse with my beta results. I will prepare myself for either outcome. And if it’s not the news we want, we will pick up and try again, like we’ve done so many times before.

And in the meantime, I’ve made a list of my consolation prizes if I am not pregnant.

  1. Take a bunch of friends to Disneyland with our new passes and ride every roller coaster over and over again.
  2. Drink lots of wine. I haven’t had wine since my post BFN binge last cycle and every time I get a waft of that lovely liquid I miss it so!
  3. Drown myself in boba, my delicious caffeinated sugary treat that I feel too guilty to touch most of the time.
  4. Take a long, scorching hot bath, preferably while drinking wine and/or Boba.
  5. Repeat #1 – 4 until I am no longer crying!

hopeful but damaged

Flipping the channels the other morning I landed on Live with Kelly and Michael. I paused for a moment, thought about watching, then changed the channel.

That show reminds me of the waiting room at my RE’s office. For some reason, every time I’m there it’s playing. As I wait to get called into my appointments I stare at the TV screen; only half watching because my nerves are usually too much of a distraction to focus on anything.

Seeing that show flash on the screen in my living room, I immediately was flooded with how I feel when I’m sitting in that waiting room.

Hopeful but damaged.

I sit in that room with all my wounds and scars. I take deep breaths to steady my heart beat and eliminate the pit in my stomach, driven by the expectation of bad news. I wearily eye the others sitting in the room, wondering what they’ve been through, and what’s ahead. I wonder if they’ve cried the same tears I have and carry the same dented baggage that I do. I wonder if their perfect composure belies the struggle that they’ve been through too.

But the waiting room also offers the entry to answers and to making our wishes come true. I’ve grown so attached to my doctor. I wish that when we finally do get a viable pregnancy, she could hold my hand through every ultrasound and at the end be the one who delivers my baby. I never want to leave that office. I find comfort there.

Sometime I just feel like people think that you have a miscarriage and you’re sad for a little while and then you’re over it, I cried to my husband once in a moment of self-pity.

But it stays with you! I continued through my tears.

It stays with you. I feel damaged sitting in that waiting room. I feel weathered and sensitive and like I’ll never be the same.

Sometimes I want to scream, just because I’m smiling does not mean I’m ok! Just because it’s been 8 months does not mean I’m ok!

There is a gaping hole in my heart, and it’s still so raw. And it can’t close because I still want this so bad. And everything around me reminds me of it.

I’ve gotten better at coping. And pretending. And managing my emotions. I can feign happiness at a pregnancy announcement, I can hold your baby and tell you how happy I am for you. I can even press ‘like’ on all the baby pics that flood my Facebook feed. I’ve learned how to shut down a part of myself when I need to. I can go numb. I can momentarily force myself to forget the pain.

But privately, it all comes out. I never escape unscathed. Nothing that I compartmentalize and pretend is ok ever just goes away. It always finds me. Finds me in the form of a tightened chest and a stubborn knot in my stomach by day, and then pillow smothered sobs by night. Or sometimes it’s a slow build, where I tell myself over and over I’m fine, until finally it swallows me and I have no choice but to let it out.

I feel traumatized.

I started out with so much happy faith and expectation, but was greeted with blood and loss and uncertainty and heartbreak and having to say goodbye to the babies I would never meet. And ever since, I spend my days fielding a land mine of triggers. This journey is so painful because we can’t hide from what triggers our trauma and our pain. We can’t hide from baby strollers and our best friend’s pregnancy announcement and our 2 month old nephew.

We are forced to face it every single day.

After my miscarriages, I was surrounded by expressions of concern and care and I felt like I could openly grieve. And I believed that all these empathetic faces around me really understood my pain. I’ve been lucky in that sense, and would never undermine just how much love I’ve felt from friends and family.

But time goes on. And I’ve been forced to keep living with that same amount of pain. My family and friends can’t scoop me up every single day, can’t give me a constant swaddle of affection and support. And I know people stop knowing what to say, as days turn to months, and months turn to years. And that’s when isolation starts to creep in, and the silent grief. Because the pain lives on.

And as we try to conceive once again, with faith and hope our only fuel, we ache. Every negative pregnancy test brings you back to that feeling of loss. You spend two weeks wondering, hoping, and imagining you are pregnant. Day dreaming of what that would mean. Loving this possible baby to be. I often rub my belly and leave my hand there, subconsciously  trying to transport the love in my heart to my womb. Please be in there, I plead. And with a trip to the bathroom and a three minute wait, it’s all over. 

My mom often tells me that after her brother had a baby, she got the baby bug in an intense way. I just had to have you, she’s told me, gushing, giving me hugs. Less than a year later, her wish came true, and I was born.

Imagine that feeling, I said to her, that longing, that feeling that if you didn’t have a baby now, you would explode. Now picture almost two years and two miscarriages later, with no baby or pregnancy to show for it….That is what I’m going through.  That is what I’m experiencing.

Miscarriage stains everything around you. It spoils the joyful path to pregnancy. It leaves you unable to feel happiness for friends you love who have growing bellies. It causes you pain when you hold someone else’s baby in your arms. It even takes a silly show, like Live with Kelly and Michael, and taints it with its loaded association. Bringing you to that place…where pain still lives but yet you’re hopeful. Hopeful and damaged.

not how i imagined i would conceive a child

Yesterday I went to my RE’s office for a CD10 scan to take a look at how my follicles responded to the Femara. My doctor was surprised to see already a 22.5mm size follicle (and a 16.5mm follicle) and let me know it was large enough that we should do the trigger shot right away and do the IUI the next morning.

Apparently my follicles are just as eager as I am to get this show on the road.

As I have an automatic stress response whenever I’m in my RE’s office, I was feeling incredibly nervous to find out how my body had responded to the meds.  I expected no mature follicles, or too many mature follicles, or a bunch of new cysts, or anything that would lead to canceling this cycle. So I felt giddy and relieved that we would be going forth, and going forth so quickly (the end of the 2WW would be that much closer! went through my mind immediately).

I was thankful we were able to administer the trigger shot in the office, with the nurse’s guidance and obvious expertise. For whatever reason, she told us she was not allowed to give the shot, and that responsibility still fell on my husband. I‘m not afraid of needles, but in the hands of an amateur I panicked, and grabbed onto the nurse’s shoulder and closed my eyes.

anxiously holding the trigger needle right before my husband jabbed me with it.

anxiously holding the trigger needle right before my husband jabbed me with it.

My husband hid his fear and successfully injected 10,000 units of HCG into my belly.

We returned this morning to the office excited. The nurse admitted me and took my blood pressure and pulse. “Blood pressure, 92 over 62, pulse 72. You’re all about the twos today!” She turned and with a sly smile said under her breath, “Maybe it’s a sign…”

My husband and I just looked at each other, giggled nervously, and muttered “Uhhh….”

Of course at this point I’d be thrilled with two.

The actual procedure should have been simple, but because of trouble with my cervix was longer and more uncomfortable than I expected. My husband also spent about 10 minutes asking for proof and reassurance that they hadn’t mixed up the sperm samples, a thought that crossed both our paranoid minds about 5 minutes before the procedure and caused instant panic. Once convinced, he then proceeded to ask for a high five from everyone around us after they told us the count. 40 million. My doctor said they usually hope for at least 5 million. 

So now it’s done, and now we wait. I had been feeling positive and hopeful, but snapped back into my often pessimistic reality with my doctor’s last words.

“Don’t be crushed if it doesn’t work. Sometimes it happens with the first IUI, but often it takes three or four tries. I tell all my patients that. I just don’t want you to be crushed if it doesn’t happen.”

Oh yeah. This might not work. But there’s no way to avoid feeling crushed, and burdened with disappointment. I wish it was as simple as someone telling me not to be crushed, and that would help me avoid that terrible pitfall. But it’s unavoidable.

I think I’ve accepted that.

And I still hope.

we’re going to do an IUI

Through the past year and a half of trying to get pregnant, miscarrying, having surgeries and the ongoing fertility testing for both my husband and me, there’s been one saving grace, one bit of solace and security.

We have awesome health insurance.

I feel grateful for it every day. My husband’s consulting firm pays 100% for our insurance. And our insurance pays for 100% of anything you can imagine. All fertility testing and treatment. IUI’s. IVF. Surgery. Therapy. Acupuncture. We are only responsible for a $5 co-pay and $2 for prescriptions. I am so incredibly thankful that through the stress and heartache of this struggle we never had to worry about money.

Until now. He’s changing jobs. And now, like every other American, we have to fret and worry about what will be covered and what massive expenses we’ll be responsible for.

My blood pressure rises and my heart aches when I think of how perfectly this would have worked in our favor had we not had our pregnancy losses. The running joke at my husband’s firm is that you can have a baby for $5. That elusive $5 baby that never was. 

I try to keep perspective and remember, we were so lucky to have the insurance that we had during this time, when we needed it most. I try to think of all the money we saved, rather than how much more money we’ll now need to spend.

I know so many of you are paying out of pocket for these huge expenses. I know we’ve been incredibly lucky, and I don’t take anything for granted. And I know money is just money, and what really matters most is that we get a healthy baby one day.

But given that we have just one month left before my husband changes jobs and we lose our coverage, we decided with my RE to be aggressive this month. Since our main problem is staying pregnant rather than getting pregnant, my RE had been encouraging us to try naturally for a few months, with no drugs or assistance (besides progesterone and baby aspirin). But in light of our waning coverage, we decided to do an IUI.

I’m excited, but once again, afraid to be too hopeful.

I went in for a CD3 ultrasound, where she said my lining looked good and I had 25 lovely little follies. She prescribed me Femara, a lighter version of Clomid, which is supposed to have fewer side effects. I’m taking 5mg a day for 5 days, and will return on CD10 to see how my follicles have grown. At that point she’ll let us know when to do the trigger shot, and hopefully schedule the IUI.

I couldn’t stop asking her about all the things that could go wrong. If I developed cysts, would we cancel the cycle? If I developed too many follicles, would we cancel? What if my body doesn’t respond to the Femara? What are our chances of this working?

I just can’t imagine anything going as it should at this point.

And once again, I feel pressure for this to work. Our last bit of that glorious fertility coverage. I’m hoping the fertility gods send a little love our way.