So, after you have an egg retrieval for IVF they tell you that “you’ll get a period between a few days and two weeks from now”. Not vague at all. But they also tell you it won’t be a normal period, and typically don’t consider the stats from your cycle until you have another period after that since it is already a little weird.
*Caveat, if you are doing a fresh cycle and not doing genetic testing like we did, then you’d only wait 3-5 days and then implant and not get a period. But in my case we would have waited for a period anyway.
After we got the shitty results of our second IVF cycle in September, grieved for a while, and then went back to living (because what other choice do you have really?), we decided we really needed a break. We wanted to have a physical and emotional break, as well as do some of the testing I referenced in previous posts to see if there were any relevant factors in there.
Also, because I am Sally-Question-Asker, I also called the doc to see if we should be actively “preventing pregnancy”. I don’t want to break any rules (ever), but also wanted to know if we could just live our lives like normal married people which we haven’t actually been able to do for 18 out of the 24 months we’ve been married. We’ve either been trying which means super HOT foreplay like counting days and testing hormone surges. And then the even hotter after-tasks like putting pillows under your bum and letting all the blood rush out of your legs while you hold them up for 15 minutes (per the unsolicited advice as previously mentioned). Nothing sexier and more romantic than that. Except maybe the rest of the time when there was excessive sobbing, and snippy arguments due to horrendous unmanaged grief.
So, I wanted to just ask…can we live? Or should we take precautions. Doctor said there were no reasons why she would recommend we need to prevent…”as long as I am comfortable”. Well, sure I am comfortable pending something awful doesn’t happen. But anyway, her thought is that there is no evidence that our issue is anything other than a numbers game. I BEG TO DIFF. But, anyway.
So, here we are just living our lives. There was no counting or planning or timing or trying or peeing on things. There was just regular life, with perhaps a romantical weekend getaway or two that was…inspiring.
Anyway, I usually track my period, just for reference, even before my life was a shithole. It is pretty straight up 26 days, on the dot. But all this has made it a little less reliable. Nevertheless I did put a note in my phone calendar when I starting bleeding after the egg retrieval but also wrote a question mark because it wasn’t normal. Couldn’t tell if it was post retrieval spotting or an actual period.
I think this has been written before but I have a couple specific “tells” that give me a hint my period is coming. They’re the Paul Revere to my menstruation:
“1 if by breakouts, 2 if by breast pain! Your period is coming!”
*I’m laughing at my own analogy, that’s pretty good.
But seriously, I have decent skin but definitely have hormonal breakouts the week or so before my period. I also have substantial breast pain, exacerbated by caffeine, which I haven’t really consumed since last October. Regardless that is a pretty good sign my visitor is impending. So, cue 3 and a half weeks-ish after my question mark in my calendar and I have no symptoms…
My internal monologue was like “naaaaaah”. But I also looked back at the middle of the cycle and our anniversary and was actually…??? Oh boy.
I waited until after I definitely should have gotten it or at least had symptoms before testing. Took a test on Thursday, October 5th. Negative. Ok, I said to myself, felt a little disappointment but a little more relief to be honest. This is break time, like what the eff. Decided maybe it was just late or I tracked it too early.
Following day just went about my business. But the next day. I. Got. WASTED. By accident. Listen, when one of your favorite people has her cousin from Ireland visiting Boston and invites you to Lawn on D for an unseasonably warm day. You sometimes get carried away having countless grapefruit margaritas. 12/10, highly recommend by the way. But still no period.
So, the next day, before we head to my parents to visit with them and my brother and niece, I decide maybe I’ll take another test. Just to confirm it is still negative.
EFFFFFFFING POSITIVE. I call Kenny into the bathroom and immediately start panicking. Johnny Calm is all “don’t be scared and also don’t have hope, just be”. OK BRO. Sure, let me just go ahead and pretend this didn’t happen. LOL. Also, they had just found an abnormality in my blood test, will explain in a separate post later. But I was like no, why would this happen now, I just started this new vitamin, it couldn’t have “taken effect yet”. But there that little thing was in the back of my head again..hope. Sneaking back in, even when everything else in my mind is DOOM.
But I try and calm myself. Called the doctors office just to leave a message. I already know the drill. Come in tomorrow for bloodwork, then 48 hours after that and let us know if you have any symptoms. But this time they also said “congratulations”. Which actually bothered me. A lot. Because this wasn’t some generic OB that didn’t know me. This was a doctors office that only handles fertility patients, and knows my history. This has happened before. Many times actually. Maybe you should hold off on any congratulations for a hot minute. But just them saying that word had me saying maybe this was actually a time for congratulations??
I proceed with the cycle of go into the lab at the crack of dawn, give blood, stare at my phone all day, close my office door to answer phone call, find out temporary fate. Rinse. Repeat. First call was HCG is 27, low, but positive (anything above a 10 is considered positive), and could be very early since I went from a negative test on a Thursday to positive on a Sunday. Go back Wednesday, same thing, this time level was 54. SURPRISE. It actually doubled. In all my other experiences, it never quite doubled which is what it is supposed to do. So, good start, right? Go back Friday, this time 103. So JUST under, but still over what they consider normal which is an 85% rise. REALLY been putting my math degree to use with all these percentages.
That Friday, “luckily” kicked off one of my biggest responsibilities at work. So there was no stress at all. *insert eye roll emoji” But still a good distraction. At this point I had started my favorite thing…spotting. But kept repeating the mantra “spotting does not necessarily mean bad”. But I didn’t believe it and I don’t think I ever will.
The next week and a half adds internal ultrasounds into the rotation of the blood giving and the phone calls and the waiting and the spotting. I tell ya, I think I can say I have had my fill of light sabers up my hoo-ha for a lifetime.
After the first ultrasound, we got some pretty terrible news. They didn’t see anything in the ultrasound in the uterus. But they did see something questionable in the right ovary area. Which is where my last ectopic pregnancy was. It wasn’t definitive but with my low numbers, spotting, and something on the scan, didn’t seem good. The recommendation was wait two more days, have another blood test and scan and see. But if it stays the same, then have surgery to remove the problematic tube which would likely cause this every time. Recovery and out of work for 2-4 weeks, legit surgery. It was pretty crushing, not the pregnancy not coming to fruition, unfortunately at this point I am somewhat used to that. But the idea that I might need to remove a part of my body, especially part of my female anatomy, it just was really scary.
But, I went back two days later, this time by myself. Different lady with the light saber, and let’s just say, she basically moved in and made herself comfortable. I am pretty chill and have a pretty high tolerance for pain/discomfort, but I almost had to be like lady, I’m tapping out. Turns out, I found out why it took her so long. She did NOT see the same area in the tube, but she DID see something in the uterus.
Wait. What? There IS something in the uterus. She showed me. Just a tiny little sac, but it was definitely there. *There’s that glimmer of hope again* She figured what the first tech saw on the ovary was likely a little scar tissue from my last ectopic or something that is just always there but doesn’t always stand out. The good news, a sac forming in the uterus means likelihood of another ectopic and need for surgery, pretty much diminished. But, it made the pregnancy real. Real, but still not good. Her quote was “I’m glad to see this doesn’t seem to be a suspected ectopic. Unfortunately, I also don’t think the pregnancy is the one we were hoping for.”
See, at this point in my cycle, based on when I think my period started last, my numbers should be in the thousands and at that point it was about 500. Also, my HCG was going up but the normal rises soon gave way to abnormal rises (or less than 53% in 48 hours). Once you have more than one of those the pregnancy is considered abnormal and likely not viable.
The thing was I had grieved the pregnancy at the original thought of the ectopic while also grieving having TWO TUUUUUUBES (two chainz voice). So, all of this news wasn’t as upsetting as I expected. But what was upsetting was seeing this little tiny nugget in the weird oblong picture on the computer screen that had never been there before. Between the previous pregnancies and the IVF treatments, I have seen this picture many times and there has never been anything in there. This was shocking.
After the first abnormal rise, when the doctor told me she didn’t think this was what we were hoping for, she also said I would likely need a D & C, Dilation and Curettage if the pregnancy didn’t take care of itself. But, wanted to be cautious and give it more time. We did that and this past week despite more than two weeks of spotting, it never picked up enough to be a miscarriage happening on its own. Even when it seemed like it was, it wasn’t. Of all the times spotting, I never wished for it to get worse, except this time. Because then at least I wouldn’t require any intervention. My body would be “doing its job” like they told me the other times, and taking care of something not viable itself. But alas.
D & C was Friday. Having to schedule meetings and student appointments and not wanting to sound like I take a million sick days for no reason, but also not wanting to give the gory details. Ugh. Apparently the new name is D & E, Dilation and Evacuation. Essentially they vacuum your Yute aka “removes the abnormal tissue from the uterus under twilight sedation”. (Does that mean I will see sparkly vampires? I actually don’t know because I don’t read books or watch things about fake life. True story.). I prefer the name D & C, because even though this sucks, A Shit Ton, the thing that has made me consistently giggle, even in between tears, is me having this memory of my mother saying there was this procedure and it was called a D & C or a Dustin’ and a Cleanin’. And that is 10 kinds of ridiculous, but if you know my mom, this is not a crazy thing to say. I actually told her this and her response was “Doesn’t everyone call it that?”. LOL, no mom, prob not. And it has given me a smidge of lightheartedness.
I honestly don’t know how to feel. I have more questions than answers. I was farther along than I have been in any of my other losses, 7 weeks 2 days. Feels so much more real, even though the others were also real. My numbers are hundreds higher than they’ve ever been before, also feels more real. Despite abnormal rises, it has still been rising by tiny amounts. Feels like my body and this little “yolk sac” as they call it, were trying to make it happen. So, maybe it is a step in the right direction. Maybe it is just another nail in the coffin of me or Kenny or both not producing usable material. Who knows.
I will tell you what I do know. I am sick of feeling like this. I am sick of allowing myself to feel a glimmer of hope pass through momentarily. I am sick of picturing myself sharing happy news but then knowing in the back of my head it isn’t happening. I am SICK as hell of giving bad news. So if you are my people, and you weren’t told about this directly, please don’t be offended. I just can’t bear the thought of delivering this shitty news. AGAIN. Even the thought that I would be in a position to give this sad news again is upsetting, let alone actually delivering it. I don’t want my sad story to result in other people being sad. Or feeling bad for me. I am just over it. The whole thing.
So, we are back on a break. A real one with preventative measures, because no one can handle this again. Definitely not me. And definitely Kenny can’t deal with me because I am basically a nightmare currently. Like an actual human nightmare. I don’t want to skip things, but I also don’t want to do anything. I want to talk to my friends and see them, but I also don’t want to answer the “how are you” question. Because I don’t want to be fake, but I also don’t want to tell the truth. I want to celebrate babies related to the people around me who I love (birthdays, births, showers), but it also causes me so much pain. How can I feel so much joy for another person while also being in such intense pain?
As I said to my dear friend last week who happened to see me for the first time after 2 years over a weekend while thinking I would only have 1 tube soon: “It’s just another notch in a belt I didn’t even want to be wearing.” I hate belts. Get this stupid belt with its goddamn notches off of me.
The procedure went smoothly. Very quick and relatively painless (physically). The worst part was when the nurse, different office than I usually go to says “So, I just want to confirm you’ve had 5 pregnancies but no children?” as she points to my record that has a 5 and 0 right next to it. And I was like, yes, plus two failed IVF cycles. Correct.
They spend 30 minutes setting you up, 5 minutes vacuuming out your dreams, and then 15 minutes feeding your ginger ale and peanut butter crackers.
And then on your way out they say “Tomorrow, you may resume your normal activities.”
Sure, lady. Sure I can.