Thursday, June 5, 2014

One couple's story: Miscarriage after IVF, and knowing you can never go back


Dear anonymous, 

I'm so sorry for your loss and your pain. I wish I could sit with you and cry with you. Sending some love and hugs your way.


After aggressively trying to have baby number 2 for over a year, we went to a fertility clinic. After all, it took almost 2 years to have our first, and something had to be wrong. Something, hopefully, that could be fixed with a pill and we could be on our way to continue growing our family. Let me say that several months before, my regular OB did a laparoscopy and found lots of endometriosis. So after getting "cleaned out," he said we should be pregnant right away. 

Fast forward 6 months and still no pregnancy.

So we went to the best fertility doctor in town and we were so excited to get some answers. Simple ones, we hoped. After all of the tests came back on my husband and I, we sat down with the doc and he laid it out for us....we would need to go through
IVF. My husband's motility was low and we just recently learned that my eggs suck for a 32-year-old healthy woman. We were shocked. Floored. Scared. Saddened. 

What happened to taking a little drug to make me ovulate and that be it?  How were we going to take on this enormous financial burden? Were we ready for this?

Well, the answer was yes. Without even figuring out logistics, we wanted to start right away. And we did. That first appointment was on October 23,
3 days after my 32nd birthday. We paid the money, attended the IVF education class and received an absurd amount of drugs in the mail. We were set.

I began taking all of the medications and hormone injections and we were trucking along. Then 2 days before egg retrieval, I got a phone call from the clinic ... my estrogen levels had plummeted overnight and they were canceling my cycle. Devastation.

I cried, my husband comforted me, I cried some more. But then I put my mind on the next cycle and was sure it would work this time. And so on we went. Making it to egg retrieval this time felt like a feat in itself. The following day the embryologist posted the results on my portal ...4 eggs retrieved; 2 did not fertilize, 1 fertilized abnormally.....and then there was 1.

Not great news. 

We had to wait 3  days before the transfer and we were on pins and needles. What if all of this was for nothing? If baby Embry doesn't make it, we have to start all over again. $16,000 over again for that small chance.

Well my baby Embry grew like a champ and was graded a 4 (the highest) the day of transfer. It had already divided into an 8-cell. It was looking hopeful. And so our little embryo was put in as I watched it travel at the speed of light across the screen. It. Was. Amazing.

Then the 2WW occurred. (That's IVF lingo for the 2- week wait.) The longest part of this process. And let me tell you, it is all a waiting game when you're in it. And so we waited. I held off on buying pregnancy tests because he warned me that they would probably show up negative until my scheduled blood test on Monday, February 11. I held off that is, until a few days before that.

I took 3 pregnancy tests on Friday and positive, positive, positive. Elation. Shock. Elation again. We did it! We really did it! 

We had the odds stacked against us and we did it. Meant to be. This baby was our miracle. I mean, only 1 embryo and it took!!! Life was utter perfection. I went in that Monday to hear that yes, it was true and my numbers were at a high of 128. That was great! Anything over 60 was good for them. So, technically, our miracle baby was ahead of the game!  I even called a friend and asked her to make a Big Brother shirt for our 3-year-old.

Then Friday, Valentine’s day I might add, I had to go back to get my hCG levels checked. Standard procedure. No question anything could go wrong. But, I got a call that afternoon from the nurse saying my numbers were a measly 267. They usually double every 2 days; and it had been 4. Panic. Defeat. Tears. And more tears. 

I called my husband and could barely get anything out. They wanted me back on Monday, to see if my levels were rising. It didn't mean it wasn't possible. I mean, I could be in the 10-15% of women who have slow rising hCG levels and go on to have a healthy pregnancy. It was possible. But I was heartbroken. I felt it. It didn't feel right to me. My husband kept saying everything would be fine...

And so, after that horrific weekend wait, wondering if our baby was going to survive, I got more blood taken. My numbers were a wimpy 504. They hadn't even doubled. But she said the only way to tell would be by ultrasound on Wednesday. I asked her if it seemed like a normal pregnancy and she said it didn't, but it didn't mean it wouldn't be. So again we waited. 2 excruciatingly long days.

As I lay on the table and the ultrasound began, you could've heard a pin drop in that room. And then he said, "do you see that? That's the sac and everything looks good". What? Really? Is life gonna be okay now?  He said it looked small but it didn't mean the baby couldn't/wouldn't grow. So we went with that. We got the first pics of our baby. Our Baby!!!!!!!! All we had to do was go in on Monday for another ultrasound to make sure we were on track. He did say to go home and light a candle and stay hydrated.

 So I did. I actually went with one of my BFF's that same day and bought a prayer candle and a prayer card for unborn babies. I prayed. We celebrated. We were happy. This baby was a fighter and was proving, yet again, that he was going to be ours.

Well come Saturday there was a little bleeding. Then on Sunday it was bad. And I mean bad. And tissue in there too. I knew in my heart it couldn't be good, I even cried. But my sweet husband said it would be okay and we knew only the doctor could tell us.

So 3 days ago, we went back. I was scared. I could probably speak for my husband in saying he was scared. The doctor started the ultrasound and paused when he got to the uterus. Nothing. Empty. Our baby was gone. Again, devastation.

They all left us alone in the room to grieve. I cried.  He tried not to. We were both feeling the rug being pulled from under our feet. What was God doing to us? Why does this have to be so hard? I was already in love. Deep love. The baby name book had surfaced. I had my favorites already. Maternity clothes were pulled out so I could get my closet organized. I wanted to be ready when I finally popped!!!!

I think Monday was shock. I knew deep down it was happening, but I chose to believe it wasn't. I cried a lot that day but felt hopeful that we only have to wait until April to go again. But now, on Wednesday, I'm back to devastated. It's getting worse. It's overwhelming. I feel defeated and helpless. A grave sense of sorrow. 

And then I moved on to the "what ifs, next time." What if it doesn't work again? What, if any, will our options be if we don't succeed? 

I have 17 voicemails on my phone that I can't even check. I don't want to talk. I want to sit in a dark room and indulge my feelings. I never knew it would hurt so badly. I never knew that this would feel so lonely and hopeless. I am struggling between being grateful for my son I already have and mourning the one we should be having. Between seeing those close to me with babies on the way and wanting to be happy for them and then also feeling anger and jealousy for not still having that myself.

 My baby Embry was going to be born 1 day before my birthday. Now he's not. He was going to have a name that meant "fighter", because that's was he was.  He was going to melt our hearts and now he won't.

And I feel for my husband too. I know he's hurting. He's trying to be strong for me, but I want to be strong for him. After all, we are the only 2 people in this entire world who know what the other is going through.  His hell can't be much cooler than mine. His loss can't feel much less, if any, than mine. His fears and tears are not unlike mine. I can see he is desperate to make the pain go away for me. He doesn't know I just as much want the same for him.

I don't know how long this will last. The bleeding. The cramping. The raw emotions. I do know I will never forget the baby we lost on Sunday. Whatever the future holds, that baby will be in our hearts. We will never quite be the same as we were on Saturday. And the fear of miscarriage will haunt me through future pregnancies.

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