It was abnormal

I just got the call from my doctor. It started with “unfortunately I have bad news.” Honestly she didn’t have to say anything at all. Her tone and the fact that she was calling over the nurse gave it away. I’ve gotten many bad calls before through this process. I can usually pick up if it’s good or bad pretty quickly. This call crushed a hope I’ve had for years. The hope that this second batch of embryos, more specifically this last embryo would bring us a second child. Now that hope is gone. Our embryo is abnormal- missing chromosome 16.

It’s hard to pinpoint how I feel. Sadness, anger, defeat, and exhaustion are all there. My anxiety has spiked as evidenced by the tightness in my chest. I think I need to cry but I’m trying to hold it in as I’m home with alone with my daughter right now.

It’s been almost six years since we first went to the fertility doctor. This embryo has been with me since I was thirty one- first as a frozen egg and then an embryo. It was the hope I clung on to after my miscarriage in October. The hope I clung to when my daughter said repeatively over the last year that she wanted to be a big sister. Now it’s gone …along with the hope. I think my husband and I always attached some luck to this embryo. Brynn was the last embryo in the first bunch, so I always felt this last embryo would be lucky too. When I reflect back on our fertility treatment, I can’t help thinking how crazy it is that my 45 eggs resulted in one baby. As much as the numbers are disappointing, that one baby is the greatest miracle of my life. My greatest joy and I would do it all over again.

Am I done? I don’t know. When my daughter tells me she wants to be a big sister it makes me want to try again. It makes me never want to stop trying. How do you know when you’re done? I try to decide for my future self sometimes- like if I stop now will I regret it in the future? Of course there’s no way to know. No way to know if I am one egg retrieval and one transfer away or if I will never have another child.

We Picked a Path

Today we signed consents and paid for testing for our final embryo. I got a little emotional signing the papers. It feels like I’m hopping back on a rollercoaster- one that I know is full of twists and turns, amazing highs and terrifying lows. If you would have asked me just a few months ago if I thought we would be testing now, when we are down to our final one I would have said no way but here we are. Ultimately I figured the out of pocket expense is worth saving me the specific heartbreak I experienced in October. Now of course I know there may be other heartbreak coming my way but I guess this is a way to reduce my risk a bit. So here I am…a girl praying my last embroyo is genetically normal so I can embark on another transfer journey. I’m emotionally jumping back on board the IVF train. Where will it take us now…only time will tell.

Taking Inventory

At the end of each year, I tend to spend some time reflecting. What were the highlights of the year? The tough things? How am I doing? Where do I want to go? That sort of thing.

Well this year, there is certainly a lot to unpack. It’s kinda funny to me that in a year spent mostly at home, so much has changed in the world and in our family and inside of me. I could go on and on but these are my major take aways:

I would not have made it through the pandemic or my miscarriage without Peloton and my friends at work. My workouts gave me balance and peace. They have been enormously helpful for decreasing my anxiety. My coworkers were my sounding board, my emotional support and my community through this weird time.

I need to prioritize slowing down just as much as I prioritize scheduling activities. As someone who goes stir crazy while at home, I’ve learned to appreciate slowing down. December is usually the craziest month for us but this year I soaked in the holidays so much more with my daughter and truly enjoyed the simple things- baking cookies, going to see holiday lights and drinking way too much hot chocolate. It ended up being my favorite Christmas season to date. I want and need more of this.

Boundaries are so important. I spent some time this year setting some boundaries with family. It’s been tough (and often not well-received ) but I am happier inside. I am not bottling up resentment. I am proud of myself for speaking up on situations where I would typically stay quiet.

I need to work on my communication with my husband and parents. I realized I can be really tough on those I love the most. The pandemic has certainly tested my marriage and I have lashed out at my parents a few times. There’s a lot of work I need to do here. I am committed to doing it because it is so worth it.

so where will 2021 lead me? This year has taught me to expect the unexpected. In 2021, I hope we stay healthy. I hope we become a family of four. I hope I put in the work and discipline to expand on my fitness journey. I hope I continue working on my communication skills and improve my relationships. I hope I remember to cherish and value those closest to me and the small moments. I hope we take some amazing vacations.
But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen in 2021, I know everything I need to get through the year is already inside of me and that is the greatest take away.


Infertility with a broken heart

I did it. I missed an event because of my grief. Tonight my sister in law had a virtual gender reveal and I didn’t attend. I just knew I didn’t have it in me to smile and cheer, even over the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely happy for her and look forward to meeting my nephew (my husband shared it is a boy) but my heart hurts like hell right now and the mere mention of a baby makes me cry. I couldn’t let myself put myself through that today. And with getting my teeth pulled yesterday, I had a reason to be mia. Although I’m sure they may figure out the real reason. But for once, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I have to put my healing first right now.
Ever since the doctor appointment last week, I feel sad and tired and a bit angry. I don’t have the energy to put on a happy face. And tonight I laugh in irony at the name of this blog because I am not experiencing infertility with a smile, not at all. I have a broken heart.

Grateful for my Nagging “Mom Guilt”

There is this nagging feeling I get sometimes after my daughter has gone to bed for the evening. I think …did I do enough today? …Did I play with her enough? ..Did I give her enough healthy food? Water? Did I pay her enough attention?… Allow her adequate exercise? Ultimately …did I show her how much I love her today?

It’s so hard to answer that last question with a firm yes because my love for her is immeasurable. No amount of attention, perfect parenting decisions or kisses could show it. But tomorrow is another day to try again. I love her so much it hurts. I’m forever grateful this love has me up at night torturing myself with how I can be a better mom to her.

3 Choices

In IVF, you have to make decisions about things fertile people may never even think about. Today my husband and I had our follow up appointment with our doctor. We learned the twins were girls and had Turner syndrome- essentially they had only one X chromosome. Miscarriage is common with this condition.
The doctor has presented us with three choices (the last choice I have “rewritten”)

  1. Test our remaining embryo and if it is viable transfer it
  2. Transfer our remaining embryo without genetic testing
  3. Do another egg retrieval and test all embryos. I have rewritten this choice as “Leave fertility treatment behind and embrace being a family of three.”

So there it is. Three choices. One rewritten by me as the only thing I am confident about is that I am not undergoing another egg retrieval.

Grief

Grief is funny. It sneaks up on you. It disguises itself as so many different emotions. Today it visited as anger.

Today I had a moment where I thought back on the last few months and how everything happened so fast and thought “wow did that really happen? Was I really pregnant?” It seemed like before I could fully process the pregnancy, they were gone. And that makes me angry. Angry my fears didn’t allow me to soak in the joy of being pregnant. Angry I didn’t relish every moment with my twins. Angry that my nausea got in the way. Angry that covid restrictions prevented my husband from hearing their heartbeats. Angry that we struggle with this when it comes so easy to others. Angry that I have to make a decision to undergo emotionally and physically exhausting treatments if I want another chance of giving my daughter a sibling. Angry that I have one embryo left that is making me feel guilty about moving on from treatment, moving on with my life. Angry when people say everything happens for a reason. When people claim God makes these calls.

And I’m really angry I have to go to morning monitoring tomorrow so they can check my HCG levels. For some reason these appointments really sting. I don’t mind the other blood draws that come along with IVF. I’ve accepted the poking and prodding as part of the process. But THESE post D&C blood draws to watch my HCG levels plummet just seem cruel and unnecessary. And I’m angry about it.

Telling my daughter

So we are three days past the d&c and we told my daughter last night. As a school psychologist, I knew what to say. To be clear and direct. To tell her this is no ones fault and answer any questions she had. But I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be to see the twinge of disappointment in her face. It lasted for just a second but I saw it there pass over her every so quickly. More then that, I felt a pang in my heart when I said the words “the babies stopped growing.” My heart hurt that this girl may not ever be, will probably never be the amazing sister I knew she would be. My heart hurt that she wouldn’t get to have a sibling to share in all the holiday traditions with. A sibling to run downstairs on Christmas morning with. A sibling to argue with and care for. A sibling to ride in the backseat with during car trips. A sibling to pass in the hallway at school. A sibling to reflect on a shared childhood with when she is an adult. A sibling to have inside jokes with (probably mostly about me and my husband). A sibling to stand beside her at her wedding. A sibling to help her through difficult times, like my sisters were helping me with now. A sibling for when my husband and I have passed on.
I know a sibling does not guarantee all of these things. I know not all brothers and sisters are close but I knew she would be. I knew they would be. These babies are missing out too because my girl would have loved and protected them fiercely. My little girl is so deserving of this special relationship. So tonight I let the tears roll down my face for the siblings that could have been. The ones I could picture so clearly in my mind. Tonight I cry for all I know that she may miss out on. She may have had a twinge of disappointment but I can see the whole big picture. My daughter did not even get a chance to meet her best friends.

A Grateful Heart

Today is my D&C. I am sad and I am scared but I am also grateful. Grateful to have my daughter. Grateful for my wonderful and supportive husband. Grateful for my family and friends who have been checking on me nonstop since we got the bad news.

This experience has me reflecting on all of my time at fertility treatment. We have not had an easy go and this loss is further proof of that. So while this experience is painful, I am feeling even luckier that we have a happy and healthy child. Grateful that IVF worked for us that one time because that one time brought me the greatest gift.

I have three babies in heaven that will always be in my heart. I will never forget them and they will always be a part of us. But I am also looking forward to moving forward with my life and leaving fertility treatment behind. I am ready to embrace a one child lifestyle. It may seem odd but I feel like I am coming out of this loss with a new level of appreciation for what I do have. My heart is sad but it is also grateful.

The last 18 days

The last 18 days have been filled with so many emotions.

After finding out we were having twins and becoming a family of five, I admittedly had a hard time accepting what our new life might look like. I would have to get a car with a third row or a van, I would not have the independence to go places on my own without the help of another adult for awhile, we would not be able to afford the vacations I had planned to take, I would have to consider maybe working less hours so I could have more time to manage our household , we would have to swing double daycare, cars, college…my mind was abuzz with fear. Fear for the financial strain but mostly for the lost of a lot of things I LOVE about our current life. Fear of losing the freedom I have as mom, as an individual. I had put a lot of work into ensuring Brynn was a good traveler by taking her on car trips and airplane trips from a young age. I can take her to restaurants, to NYC, to day trips, anywhere. Before the pandemic she was used to being out and about and enjoyed it just as much as me. I made sure my husband and I still had date nights and time with her friends. I had created a balanced life that I loved. I knew I would sacrifice some of that by having another child but with three children, I began to feel like I would have to sacrifice it all. I kept trying to tell myself but there will be more love, more laughter- our house will be chaotic and loud but it will be beautiful chaos. I wouldn’t care about all I was losing because I would gain so much. I told myself I should feel lucky this worked. It is another miracle. I reminded myself of this over and over but I would lying if I said I fully believed it yet. Although I was gaining faith that I would believe it, that these feelings would come true. I would feel the same way about this pregnancy that I felt about my last. I would feel the same way about these babies as I feel about my daughter. Pure obsession and love.

THEN there was the feelings prompted by my google searches. You see at the appointment on Sept 22, my doctor mentioned that my twins may be monochronic. She went on to say “don’t google it but you could have a high risk and complicated pregnancy with bed rest.” She then added “it would be hard but you will have your babies.” So what did I do the first chance I was alone, I googled exactly what she told me not to google. I found out that I could be having mono mono twins (sharing same sac and placenta) or mono di twins (sharing same placenta and different sac). And then I went down a rabbit hole… I thought having a third row vehicle would suck …what I was reading was some of my worst fears…

babies born still, babies born before 30 weeks, having to go to the hospital at 24 weeks for bed rest and constant monitoring, cords tangling, twin transfusion syndrome, procedures were parents had to choose which baby lived and which one died, months in the NICU, children with serious health issues…

The fear took ahold of me. I began to have some terrible thoughts. Maybe I should have never done this transfer. Our lives are going to be so hard. The thoughts were dark and made me feel guilty and like a bad mom, a bad person. Again, I tried to tell myself, we could get through this too. Whatever comes our way, we will handle it. I really did not believe these things yet but I was trying to.

so what came next? An obsession about whether my identical twins were mono mono (sharing the same placenta and sac) or mono di (sharing the same placenta but different sacs). I studied the ultrasound pics. I studied others ultrasounds online. I visited messaging boards, read scientific studies, I researched this shit like my life depended upon it. My doctor told me at the next appointment, she would look for a dividing membrane. Right now the twins looked to be in the same sac but it may be too early to tell.

At my appointment on October 1, I saw the twins again. They were bigger and I immediately saw flickering hearts. The doctor turned on the sound and I heard two strong heartbeats. It was amazing and terrifying all at once. I marveled a bit about how they were together. How they already had each other and thank god because their mom was kinda a mess right now. What we did not see was a clear dividing membrane. My instructions from the doctor were to make an appointment with a maternal fetal specialist so they could make the diagnosis of mono mono or mono di. I would then come back for one more appointment at fertility. I was also told to schedule my OB appointment too. This was it…I was graduating. This graduation seemed so much different then my first.

so I went home and continued my google searches for the next week…. slowly the searches began to transition to more positive subjects like pictures of smiling twins, names that go together, double strollers and success stories about mono mono and mono di twins. I was warming up to the idea of a family of five.

I went into my final fertility appointment yesterday, more accepting of being a mom of three but still terrified about the challenges that may lie ahead. But at yesterday’s appointment, all of the feelings I had felt for the last 18 days no longer mattered. The heartbeats were gone, the babies had stopped growing. My twins are in heaven. Again a flood of so many emotions has filled my mind…