Friday, May 5, 2017

Another Angel

This year a black cloud seems to be looming over me.  After the death of my sister I didn't think life could become more complicated and upsetting.  I was wrong - it did.  We canceled an IVF cycle in January because it started the day after my sister passed away.  Emotionally and mentally I couldn't handle it, even though I knew she'd want us to persist.  We did 2 IVFs to have our daughter and 2 full cycles since then in an attempt for a sibling; 2 others had to be canceled (one for my sister's death and another due to nonresponse to medication).  This time around we've been at this since June and have been faced with more setbacks than I can count. It has me thinking this isn't meant to be and we were doomed from the beginning.

After my sister's death, we decided to wait until the next cycle and started yet another round this past February.  If you understand the IVF world, you basically have to place your entire life on hold during each cycle.  This was our 6th total cycle (4th full cycle).  It's not the typical IVF protocol and is what is called the long protocol.  It's called long for a reason.  Most cycles last a few weeks (maybe 4), however due to my age and nonresponse to medications I had to take the long way and stimulate with different medications 3 weeks prior to the start what I call the "real IVF" (injectable medications to stimulate egg production and surgery to retrieve them). The side effects are no picnic but I have to deal because these are the cards we were unfortunately dealt.  We play each hand as best as we know how....there's no manual for how to handle infertility.  But I keep my poker face on (most of the time) until at home in the wee hours of the night or at extremely unexpected times it all comes undone...and never gracefully and rarely seen (even by my husband).  After 5 weeks or so on medications, we had egg retrieval surgery April 3rd and embryo transfer April 6th.  Usually I am not shy about telling people what's happening but this time I felt the need for privacy.  I think mostly because people have good intentions for when they give advice or make comments but often it ends up hurting when you are already hurt so much.  

For once everything seemed to be going smoothly and we've had the best response yet.  4 embryos or possible future babies as I saw them!!!!  Even with the rounds we did to get our daughter we only ever had 2 embryos ....nothing to freeze if we have to try again.  We were never so lucky and I was so jealous of others that could freeze anything.  This is my life....imagine being jealous of someone having IVF!  I decided to add debt to our already growing IVF debt and add acupuncture.  It worked to get our miracle baby after all!  Research actually backs it up and the doctors recommend it.  But it's pricy on an already expensive procedure, however it seemed to pay off!  The doctor recommended we transfer 3 or our 4 embryos due to my age and history of embryos arresting (stopping growth).  Likely they arrest because they aren't genetically normal, however since we cannot afford an additional $5,000 for PGD (pre genetic testing) we have to take our chance and hope and pray they are fine.  At first I was worried we'd have triplets but my fears soon calmed down when I realized the odds for us are so's more likely NOTHING would take than all least at our age.  Like with our daughter, I had a suspicion it worked so I home tested the day before blood testing with the doctor.  It was Easter day and we were thrilled and SO happy.  Life couldn't get better.  Words just can't describe.  I really believed my sister was helping me from above.  For some reason this time I felt a strong need to keep things to ourselves and a few select people until we heard a heartbeat.  Our luck hasn't been the best lately.  Knowing our ages and chances of things going wrong, I thought it was best.  There's nothing worse than announcing happy news only to have to tell tons of people it didn't work, having to relive your nightmare each conversation.  Awful!  Having  to answer questions a million times about something so difficult would be more than I could bare.  This is why I HATE it when people ask if the procedure (IVF) worked.  It's very touchy and unless you've experienced it's heartaches, you DON'T and CAN'T understand.  Being pressured to tell news before you are ready is awful and selfish for the people who want to know.  But even with the uncertainty it didn't stop me from being happy, even if for a few days.  I knew it may be short lived but i celebrated by buying Kendal a T-shirt that said "big sister".  It was how I wanted to eventually tell everyone she was going to have a sibling.  Only my big reveal won't happen.  I even jumped the gun an did some much needed purging and emptied a spare room.  While we did need to get rid of things....I now have a painful reminder of what will never be.  The empty room that was once a painful reminder before my daughter is back (my excitement got the best of me).  

After getting a positive pregnancy blood test at the doctor they make you go for blood work every 2 days.  A hormone called HCG should double every 2 days.  If not, it's a likely indicator something is wrong and that you possibly have an ectopic pregnancy or will miscarry.  Because the baby is too small to be seen at this stage, the blood work is the only way they can keep tabs on the baby.  I can tell you waiting for these phone calls is absolute torture!  Each time I receive a call I am at work and with patients.  Even with bad news, I have to pretend like life is great and my worries don't matter.   2 of the 4 blood draws we were told bad news.  Our levels did not double and in fact only went up about 55%.  60% is the cutoff for a viable pregnancy in 85% of cases.  2 blood tests were great.  It was a 50% chance something wasn't right but all we could do is wait for the scheduled ultrasound at 6 weeks.  I was beside myself thinking it was an ectopic pregnancy but my fears were eased when we saw the gestational sac last Friday right where it should be.  However they did not see a yolk sac (what gives the baby nutrition until the placenta forms) or the baby.  With our daughter we saw everything right away.  They were slightly worried but said many times, it's still too soon to see the baby....but in one week we should DEFINITELY see it.  At that time I just knew.  I wish I could explain it but I knew.  The fetus grows 1 mm per day so within 7 days it would be big enough to be definitely seen..... only it wasn't.  I went for the scan today and heard the worst news.  There wasn't a heartbeat.  And even worse, there wasn't even a baby.  The baby never grew past last week.  In extremely rare cases it can be missed due to US error or the baby hiding, but this is RARE.  These people are experts, it's not just a typical OBGYN.  My gestational sac where the baby should have  been also measured over a week smaller than it should be indicating the baby stopped growing.  It's called a missed miscarriage.  My body still thinks it's pregnant and will not expel the baby/contents like a normal miscarriage.  I have to induce it via a pill or surgery.  It's so incredibly heartbreaking after all we've been through.  To FINALLY be pregnant after months/years of trying, only to be told you lost it.  Getting pregnant was our issue...not keeping it.  But even WE aren't immune to a miscarriage.  Likely the embryo was not genetically normal.  Most that aren't never implant to make you become pregnant, but this one did.  Regardless it STILL hurts.  Incredibly so.  I go Monday to see another doctor to confirm the baby passed away.  If they cannot see a baby or a heartbeat I need to decide what to do.  I can wait a little while  before I decide (1 to 2 weeks to have scans and convince myself there really is no baby anymore).  However it is more than likely this will turn out badly and end in a miscarriage.  This is beyond heartbreaking and I'm not sure I can emotionally keep doing this...that and we simply don't have the funds to keep trying.  It's just so hard to give up when I KNOW I can get pregnant but don't have the money to keep trying.  Infertility and IVF are so so hard.  But a miscarriage on top is more than even I can bare and I feel I have been pretty strong the past 6 years.  It takes a toll though.  It takes months for just once cycle/chance and I'm running out of time.   It's just not fair.  

Now that my sister has left me for heaven I have an even stronger urge to give my daughter a sibling.  It's a gift.  It's something I can't explain but am heartbroken it likely will never happen.  Talk about major mom guilt not being able to give your child something you want so badly.  All I can imagine is all the sibling stuff I had and cherish now more than ever that she will not get to experience.  I'm robbing her of something so important.  Lately I am so distraught I have been mentally absent (more mom guilt). I want to enjoy her growing up, yet this hampers the experience.  Another thing robbed.  My only comfort is knowing my baby is with my sister.  


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