Dear Angel Baby

Today would’ve been your due date. I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that if you had stayed, you would either be here or I would be about to pop.  I can’t help but wonder what life would be like right now if things had been different.  I always felt like you would’ve been a boy because although your were only inside me for a brief period, I felt your spirit. It was so strong and I 100% believe that it was your little spirit that helped me get through this period of grief.  I never knew that I could hurt so bad over something I never got to physically hold in my arms. I also didn’t know that I could feel so connected to a little bundle of cells.  I didn’t know that the second I saw the second line on the pregnancy test, I instantly felt your energy radiating throughout my entire being. It made me feel the happiest I have in years. I didn’t know how bad I needed that. I didn’t know that those 2 days would change my life forever.

I was angry in the beginning. Hell, I still get angry about it. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I lost a pregnancy that I wanted so badly.  It’s not fair that people brush off my pain because I was “so early.” But I know what I felt, I know what I still feel.

You, angel baby, have taught me so much. I have learned to be stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. When I found out that I was pregnant, all signs pointed to our miracle. I thought this was it. But you were gone before I could even fully process the fact that I was pregnant. For so long I wondered what I did wrong. I blamed myself and lived with shame for a long time.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized it was a miracle. You were a miracle.

The strong little spirit I had inside me has lingered. It has given me strength, resilience, and a new found determination for the future. Where I felt defeated I now feel confident. My soul has grown and molded in the past few months in ways I didn’t know that It could. I don’t know what the future holds but I’m no longer afraid. Dear angel baby, thank you for choosing me to carry you for just a brief moment. You have given me hope.

 

34642197_10155525856288513_5063545087959498752_n

 

 

 

On a Break

There is this saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In the past couple of weeks, that saying has stuck with me. After a year and a half of fertility drugs, one miscarriage, and a failed IUI attempt we decided that we are taking a break.

I had been thinking about this for a while but kept pushing through. I hate quitting and felt like if we took a break, I would somehow be giving up.  I have seen women go through this journey for YEARS, and here I am complaining after 19 months and “calling it quits.” I want to disclaim that Josh and I are not giving up on having children. We definitely want to start trying again, however  I need a break.

Right after my miscarriage, my mental health was not in a good space. And when I say that I mean it took everything for me to get out of bed, shower, go to work, or even answer the phone. Every little task felt exhausting. I was not okay.

In the past 6 months, I have gained 20 lbs. Right?!  I know what you are thinking. But, depression does that. I was already at a scary high weight and then my mental health went to hell and so did my weight.  When we were sitting in the waiting room before our IUI, I felt the intense emotion of the past year all at once. It was like my uterus slapped me in the face and I just started crying. I couldn’t stop. It was like someone turned on the crying switch. One of the nurses came over and asked if I was ok and I couldn’t even answer her. It was then I knew, I needed a break. If it had been a regular appointment, I would’ve told my doctor that day that I was going to take some time off. However, Josh and I were sitting there with our “specimen” so it was too late to turn back.

When we didn’t end up pregnant, I was upset obviously, but felt relief when I decided to take a break. Don’t get me wrong it’s still hard and it took me a couple of weeks to come to terms with it.  I have been so busy trying to get pregnant for the past 19 months that I have completely forgotten how to live normally. Now that I don’t have the fog of fertility drugs clouding every aspect of my day, I feel human. For the first time in over a year, I feel like myself again.

I decided that treatments would be on hold until I could get in a good space physically and mentally. I want to be able to tackle infertility with more strength the next time around. I don’t want it to take over my life the way it did. I know that infertility will always be a apart of my life and it will be hard. But I have to do this. For me, for my husband, and for our future family. I feel good about my decision to put everything on hold for awhile. As hard as it is, I feel in my soul it’s for the best.

I’m still going to blog, vlog, and talk about reproductive health and infertility. I’m not going to go on birth control or decide to live a child free life. I’m simply shifting my perspective and focus to myself and my health. Whatever happens happens and when we decide to jump back on the horse, I will be in a much better place.

 

IMG_0515

18 Months Later

I decided to post my first YouTube Video for this post.  Here I talk about Josh and I meeting the 18 month mark of our infertility journey and the most important thing that has happened to me since the beginning. I debated on what I could talk about and the one thing that stuck out to me the most was the community of women I have found on this journey.  Tap the link below and enjoy!!!

Video

 

fullsizeoutput_c02

 

 

 

When to Ask For Help

In the beginning, I was positive. Well, for the most part I was positive. Obviously, when I was diagnosed with PCOS I was sad. I cried a lot, but for the most part I felt positive. I started this blog and began talking about it. Talking about it helped. It validated my feelings.

Then a year passed and we still weren’t pregnant.

I felt the depression slowly creeping in. I stopped wanting to hang out with friends. I would come home from work and go straight to bed.  After my miscarriage, it got even worse. I felt numb. I didn’t care about anything. I hardly picked up my phone and never called or texted friends and family back. Thankfully, I started to see a counselor strictly for my infertility. It has changed my life.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for women to suffer from depression when going through infertility.  In fact, one study equated the depression to the type of depression one feels when they’ve been diagnosed with cancer. When I read that I was skeptical. However, after reading article after article and blog after blog, it became more believable. It’s a pain and sadness that can’t be described in words. It’s an emptiness that feels like it will never be healed. It’s something I’ve described as feeling on the soul level. It goes past mental and physical pain. It’s a pain you feel in your soul.

Not only does the pain of what is happening make one feel depressed, but the side effects of all the medications can do it. If you think about it, you’re pumping tons of hormones into your body that you don’t naturally have. Of course it will take a toll! I remember the first time I took my fertility medication. I felt so detached from myself. I remember crying to Josh and telling him I didn’t even recognize myself. It scared me and for a while I questioned if this journey was worth it.

Then I found a fertility podcast. It’s called “The Fertility Podcast” by Natalie Silverman. Look it up! Natalie is amazing! She interviews women from all around the world about reproductive health and infertility. She is an IVF mom and I hope and pray I can meet her one day.  She encouraged her listeners to seek a counselor as soon as they are diagnosed with infertility. I took that to heart and sought out a counselor the next day.

I uncovered so much emotional damage that was gripping my infertility with an iron fist. I found my triggers, and I found tools to help ease the mental and physical stress.

For those of you reading this blog, ASK. FOR. HELP. Do not be afraid to see someone. Infertility is sad and depressing. It ruins lives, marriages, and confidence in yourself. When do you ask for help? As soon as you feel the sadness and the heartache. It’s ok to be sad, but it’s also ok to be happy and feel joy. Even when life hands you a crappy hand.

 

never-lose-hope-hope-quote

 

Two Pink Lines

I debated when and if I should post this. I felt like I needed time to grieve, however I cope by writing.  This blog originally started out as an outlet for me when I was first diagnosed with PCOS. I never anticipated that it would turn into a comfort for many people and  introduce me to a community of badass ladies.  This blog has changed my life and for that I decided that I would bite the bullet and write about my miscarriage.

 

April was a bust. To say I was disappointed was an understatement, however I knew that the chance of getting pregnant on the first round of full treatment was unlikely.  When we started this month’s round I felt a bit more hopeful. A cyst that had given me trouble in March into April had disappeared and I was feeling better with the medication this time.  When I went in for my first ultrasound they saw not one, not two, but three eggs. I was speechless. My doctor had a “special” conversation with me about what would happen if all three eggs actually matured. She went on about the health risks of multiples and my options. She didn’t think all of them would mature but she wanted to be cautious.  The next week I went in for my second ultrasound and two of the three follicles had matured. They asked me if I still wanted to do the trigger shot to which I responded “Hell yes I do!”  In my mind the worst case scenario was I didn’t get pregnant, and the best scenario was I got pregnant. I didn’t care if it was one or two babies. I knew that I could handle whatever was thrown at me. The nurse assured me that my chances of getting pregnant were doubled and we hugged and giggled as I left the office. (My nurses rock by the way.)

Fast forward to two weeks later and I felt seriously depressed. I knew I was going to start my period. I just knew it. I was cramping, tired, and sleepy. It was frustrating and I didn’t feel like myself. I started seeing a counselor about my infertility because I was sure that was why I was depressed. The night before I was supposed to go back to the specialist to have my HCG test, I bought a home pregnancy test. *two weeks after the trigger I have to go in for lab work to check my hcg. *  I knew it would be negative, but for some weird reason I needed to see the negative test. I needed to prepare myself so I wouldn’t cry in the doctor’s office or at work the next day. I wanted to act casual about it all. After dinner, I went and peed on the stick and screamed when I saw it….

Two pink lines. There were two pink lines!

pregnancy test

I screamed and ran into the living room to Josh. He was in the middle of fixing something and had his toolbox spread around the room. I immediately dropped to my knees and began laughing as I pushed the test into his hands. ” It’s positive. Oh my God it’s positive!”

Casually,  he said “I don’t know that line is pretty faint.” After about a half an hour of us staring at the test in different lightings, settings, and under a magnifying glass we were convinced.

We were finally pregnant.

I took 4 more tests and brought them into the doctor’s office with me the next morning. I carried them around in my purse and my nurse laughed. When I showed them to her she said “Yep! These are positive!” She took my blood and two hours later, confirmed I was pregnant.

I was pregnant.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it. She then told me my hcg was low so they wanted me back in 48 hours to make sure it was doubling. She told me not to worry that it was just probably very early. (4 weeks in fact.)

finally

I can’t explain the joy I felt for the next two days. My dream had come true. I was a mom. This time instead of crying tears of sadness, tears of joy streamed down my face.  For the first time in a long time, I felt pure gratitude. My struggle felt worth it. We thought about how we would tell everyone. With mother’s day right around the corner, Josh and I decided we would surprise our mom’s on that day with the news. I imagined my mom’s face as she has been one of the most amazing people during this infertility journey. Other than Josh, she has been my rock and without her I wouldn’t be able to go through it with the strength I have. I imagined us crying and hugging, however I thought it would be out of joy and excitement.

Thursday afternoon, after my blood work, my doctor called.  I don’t remember a lot about that moment other than that I felt numb. I couldn’t believe that after only 2 days, my dreams were being ripped away from me.  I listened as she apologized and told me

“it’s common,”

“you probably wouldn’t have known”

“it’s what’s called a chemical pregnancy or early miscarriage”

“at least we know you can get pregnant, which is a step forward even if it doesn’t feel like it.”

When I realized she stopped talking all I could say was “this is a joke.” She apologized and told me it wasn’t a joke. I quickly thanked her and told her I would take off some time before I started treatment again. She understood and told me to call her on cycle day 35. I was at work when this happened and immediately told my boss I needed to go home.  I didn’t let myself cry until I got to my apartment and immediately called my mom.

We cried.

miscarriage statue

Two days later I was on an airplane, in the middle of a miscarriage, on my way to visit my  hometown. It was the day before Mother’s Day.  Josh had planned this visit several weeks before when I was feeling homesick. When I saw my mom, we hugged and cried.  Honestly, if I hadn’t gone home to see my family I don’t think I would be able to function. It was healing to see my mom, my grandma, and those members of my family that have been in my shoes. It made me realize that I’m not alone. But it also gave me the opportunity to see that even though life can be a huge shit storm, I am surrounded by love.

I was only 4 weeks pregnant when I miscarried, but I was pregnant. After almost a year and a half I finally got pregnant. I say that sentence to myself out loud almost every day. It validates what happened, but it also gives me hope. I didn’t know how long it would take me to get pregnant. I didn’t know if I would get pregnant. Everything was a question mark until that moment. I read blog after blog and article after article about what my doctor called a “chemical pregnancy.” All of them said the same thing:

I was pregnant.

There was a live body of cells inside me and no one can ever take that away from me. For two days I carried life and even though the pain of loss is unbearable sometimes, I still hold the gratitude in my heart that I was able to conceive.

quote

To close this chapter of our journey, we decided to name the baby Amory. It’s celtic for brave. We are hoping to plant a special flower pot for him/her this Summer in our garden so we can always look at it and remember that there is hope. It’s coming. We just have to endure the storm. We have to be brave.

 

rainbow

 

 

Brittni’s Story

The first day of my last period was 1/1/18. That’s easy to remember. Then I got pregnant. I knew immediately- not because of any womanly intuition or anything like that, but because I’m very, very regular. The day before my missed period, I wasn’t spotting like usual. The day my period would have begun, I bought 5 tests and passed them all.

 

30515907_10213780460798920_5191516537646743552_n

 

After telling my husband, we told our parents, his grandma, and his sister. Then we told Katherine. All on day 1.

I bought books. Like, 8 of them. I wanted to know everything. I meal planned with my prenatal vitamins to make sure what the vitamins didn’t give me, the food did. We house shopped. We got a preapproval. We prepared to start a family.

 

Over the next few days, I tried to limit myself to telling one person a day. I told my boss. My brother. My dad’s mom. The rest of our grandparents. Our friends.

It took a lot of work to find a doctor who would do an early ultrasound. I didn’t want to wait for anything- I wanted to see my baby. And we did. At 7 weeks, 3 days, we got to see a fuzzy ball of static, and a flashing white heartbeat. I left the doctor’s office with two ultrasound pictures, went and bought a DQ cake, and put them in the kitchen at work with a note that said, “Please don’t let me get fat alone.” We were going to make a Facebook announcement, but hadn’t quite figured out the best way to do it yet.

 

At nine weeks, on a Monday, we went in for our second ultrasound. It was uncomfortably fast. She found the baby quickly, then politely asked who we were seeing. She went to get the doctor I hadn’t yet met. As someone who has always dealt with anxiety, I started a mantra in my head. “Do not borrow trouble. Do not make a big deal out of this.” Then my husband said, “Well, that was weird.” This time, my anxiety was validated. The doctor came in and told us that our baby did not have a heartbeat anymore. It was just gone. Sometimes this happens. They’re so sorry for our loss. 10%. Not my fault. No more growth.

The doctor kissed my forehead, and told me to get dressed so we could talk about next steps. I lost our baby. We scheduled a D&C for Wednesday. I just wanted it out of me. I don’t mean to be callous, but as if it wasn’t bad enough to lose the baby, I was walking around with it inside of me. How are you supposed to try to get past something, when you’re literally carrying it with you? I was a walking graveyard.

I called my boss. He was wonderful, and he told the office for me. They sent flowers. We told our friends. They all met up with us and we went to eat sushi that night. All of our friends and family surrounded us with love, and have continued to be unconditionally supportive while we get through this. I can’t imagine going through this alone. I understand that for some women, the pain of telling people is the hard part. For me, it’s starting over. It’s being alone.

 

Thursday, the day after the D&C was done, I thought I was doing well. I wasn’t bleeding at all. I got up, visited friends, cleaned some… I was ok. Friday, I went back to work. Saturday, we hosted a beer tasting (that had been planned for some time). Sunday, it hit me. I started bleeding- a lot. I hurt- bad, and I hadn’t before then. I sat around with my heating pad and curled up in front of the TV. I cried.

A week after we found out, I was still bleeding a lot. There was blood on and off for at least two weeks. Every time I felt like it was over, it would start back up. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real, and it’s like it never happened. This little person never really existed. But they did exist, and every time it stops feeling real, my body reminds me with a cramp or a blood clot. I’ve called my doctor’s office three times with questions since the procedure, and they’ve been wonderful. For someone who has always been very regular, unpredictable bleeding freaks me out. Maybe my body is still cleaning itself. Maybe it’s my actual period. Nobody can tell you how your body will react to a lost pregnancy. It seems that everyone really is different. I freaking hate the unpredictable.

From the moment we found out, everyone kept saying that it wasn’t my fault. That’s really hard to settle with yourself. I am a scientific person. I know that miscarriages happen. I know it’s 1 in 10. Still though- what if I didn’t drink any coffee? What if I didn’t drink for a month before the pregnancy? What if I started taking prenatals earlier? What if I was skinnier? Philosophically, sure, ‘this wasn’t my fault’, but scientifically, there must have been something I could have done to prevent it, right?

People like to say things, like “It happened for a reason” or “You’ll have a baby when the time is right” or “God’s plans are not our plans.” Please, don’t ever say those things to a family who has miscarried or who is struggling to get pregnant. It’s just not helpful. It only serves to invalidate their feelings, and comes across like they don’t have a reason to mourn. Their feelings are valid. Their mourning is valid. I got to a point where I’d call my mom and say, “life sucks, and this isn’t fair.” She would repeat back to me, “Life sucks. This is NOT fair.” I was sick of talking about it, but I wasn’t sick of crying about it. When the physical pain finally went away, the emotional pain really began, and it hurt. A friend described it as ‘post-partum depression, without the baby to hold.’ She was looking at my experience, but also speaking from her own. Looking at it now, she is probably right.

30629958_10213780460718918_748095513831669760_n

It’s been over a month now, and we finally got the results back on our fetal testing. Our baby would have been a girl. She would have had ’45 x’ or ‘Turner Syndrome’. While she would have been fine mentally, she would have had serious health problems, including infertility. She was missing a chromosome. Turner syndrome is a non-hereditary genetic mutation. It happens in 1 in every 1500-2000 pregnancies, and of those, 1 in 100 survive. Those 1 in 200,000 who occur and survive live to have serious health problems and physical deformities. This was not my fault, and while I would punch anyone else in the face who might think to say it to me or my husband, scientifically, it actually did happen for a reason, and that reason wasn’t us. That reason was a genetic deformity that our baby couldn’t survive with. Why did our baby have that deformity? Beats me, but it sure as hell wasn’t for a good reason.

I take comfort in science and data. My doctor says that our next pregnancy will have a miscarriage probability of 1 in 10. That’s a very naïve view of the statistics. People who have had one are 4% more likely to have another than someone who has never had one. Only 2% of women experience two pregnancy losses in a row. Women who get pregnant within 3 months of miscarriage are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy. The vast majority of women who have had one, two, or even three miscarriages goes on to have a healthy pregnancy eventually. The odds are in my favor.

 

I’d love to end this post with a suggestion on how to deal with this if it happens to you Firstly, I hope it doesn’t ever happen to you, but statistically, it will probably happen to (or has already happened to) someone who is reading Katherine’s blog. Secondly, I can’t tell you how to deal with it if it does. I can tell you that it really isn’t your fault. I can tell you that you are not wrong for how you handle it, however you handle it. You do not have to hide it, but you can if it’s easier that way. There are support groups online that may help you. I found some comfort in the grief section of the What to Expect app. Your feelings are valid. Your anger, fear, sadness- whatever you are feeling- is valid.

30623756_10213780465799045_6162622503131807744_n

Statistically speaking, even if you do suffer a lost pregnancy, the odds are in your favor too. When I was pregnant, several people said, “Oh, you aren’t supposed to tell people yet, are you?” You know what you aren’t supposed to do? You aren’t supposed to tell a pregnant woman how to be pregnant. Period. Every time someone said something like that, I wanted to punch them in the face. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and do it. I hope every person who said that feels horrible that the implication of their words came true. Who are they to tell me that I should celebrate or suffer alone? Everyone’s journey is their own. Unless it’s solicited, keep your advice to yourself. The only advice I would ever give to a pregnant woman is to trust yourself. You are genetically wired to do this, even if you or a doctor had to help your body with the details. Do your research, but trust yourself. It’s going to be a long 9 months if you don’t.