Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beta Two

Not good. 18,538. Sorry it took me so long to report this.

I was devastated for about ten minutes but then, surprisingly, I felt so much better, exhausted but better.

It has been a hell of a week. Every time I anticipated a test, or a test result, I would be doubled over with nausea for hours. Not the kind of nausea where I'd actually expect to throw up, not the kind of nausea where I'd get my hopes up about the pregnancy (though I did get my hopes up anyway), but the kind of nausea like someone's boot in my gut, like the week after my first husband admitted he was having an affair, like I can hardly breathe and the only cure is sobbing, sobbing my guts out (which I did, several times).

I will not have a D&C. I will not take misoprostol/cytotec. I will not blame myself for this misfortune in any way.

I will garden. And swim. And walk my dog. And paint. And make beautiful salads. And count my blessings, of which there are many. And Babies or Not, life will go on.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beta One

I got my first hCG count today: 16924. According to my calculations, this was at 6 weeks 6 days pregnant. The lab lists the six-to-eight week normal as anywhere between 15,000 and 200,000. So yes, I'm in the range. It's low but I'm in the range. I was told not to assign any meaning to this number unless it was drastically off target. It is tomorrow's number (which I'll receive on Friday) that will give us a clue.

I expected today's number would be low, though possibly in range. And I expect tomorrow's number will also be low.  For those of you who haven't ridden the fertility roller coaster, in a healthy pregnancy, tomorrow's number should be double yesterday's.

Wouldn't it be cool if I could come back to tell you 36,000? That a second ultrasound reveals all is well? I would love to give hope to those of you reading this who are worried about your own pregnancies. Though I still have moments of hopefulness, I must admit, I've mostly resigned myself to believing it's all but over. I am expecting to hear a number in the range of 12,000 to 17,500.

I've had to slog through some dark emotions, but I'm doing it. The brightest spot of the day today was realizing that this too shall pass. Funny how easy it is to lose sight of this fact. I will move through this, put it behind me, and go forward to embrace the myriad blessings that are my life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Limbo = Torture

I'm an emotional wreck this afternoon. My dog doesn't know what to make of me, though she enjoys licking the snot off my face.

Such a strange experience, going back to the scene of the crime, the same waiting room, three years shabbier, sitting next to J~, feeling excited, optimistic (I'd been nauseous since last night, first time in weeks); it had to be a good sign. Or nerves.

There was little to see on the ultrasound - something that looked like it could be the fetal sac, something that looks like it could be a yolk sac, "but not quite right" said the ultrasound tech, a calm, careful woman in her late forties. She focused in on a little lump, but said she could see no fetal pole. No heartbeat. The "sac" measures 6 weeks 2 days, she told us, then she measured my ovaries, a protrusion in the fallopian tube, asked me repeatedly if I'd had any pain on one side or the other (no) and then took the pictures to the doctor.

His pronouncement? Possibly too soon to tell. Order hCG quants today (Tuesday) and again on Thursday.

So many things I didn't think to do: I didn't ask for progesterone testing. When she mentioned something about thickened endometrium, about a possible cyst, I didn't follow up on these either, just like I didn't ask if my ovaries looked as they should to support a pregnancy at this stage, didn't ask what exactly was wrong-looking about the sac? How much variation is normal according to dates? After all, I'm pretty sure I'm 6w6d, not 6w2d...

I did say, "I'd rather hear now that it's a long shot than hold out false hope. You've seen a lot of these. Do you really think there's any chance?" The tech took a breath, a moment to think. I know she can't contradict the doctor. I was asking an impossible question. Finally she spoke. "It took me seventeen years to get my one child. I wouldn't want to rule out even the smallest thread of hope."

I cried in the parking lot, explained to J~ my hunch, that the big concern for the doctor is that if my numbers are still going up, to make sure the pregnancy is developing in my uterus rather than in the tube or outside. If my numbers are hovering around the same or going down, then the highest likelihood is confirmed: the pregnancy is not developing as it should. Sooner or later, I will miscarry.

J~ went on to work, I went on to the lab for the blood work. And then I came home and ate lunch, scoured the internet for information, hopeful or not. Didn't find much either way. Talked to a loved one on the phone, the best kind - someone who offers no advice, encourages me to cry, and listens supportively while I do.

Next, I'll write an email to my client telling her I'm going to give myself the rest of the day to be an emotional wreck (she knows what's going on). I'll plant some string beans and beets. And then I'll go to the plant nursery where I'll buy basil, parsley, and flowers. I'll take the dog to the water so she can splash around. And then I'll come home to hug my husband. And to move forward with life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ultrasound, Here We Come

Three years ago, when I was 6 weeks 4 days pregnant, J~ and I went together to a doctor in hopes of receiving good news about a pregnancy I felt sure was doomed. We did receive good news that day, saw a fetus of just the right size with a good heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. (I wrote all about it here). We went home stunned and elated. Actually, J~ was elated. I was thrilled but also shell-shocked, unable to shake my fears. As you may know, ultimately, things did not work out with that pregnancy.

Tomorrow morning at 8:45 we will revisit that same waiting room, that same ultrasound machine. I will be six weeks six days pregnant, forty years old instead of thirty-seven. I feel very much as I did three years ago, though less distraught. Whatever the news, I will spend the afternoon tending to my garden, my dog, my newest design client. I will eat a nice lunch from tonight's leftovers: green salad, curried chicken, and brown rice. I will probably cry.

And then I will update the blog.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lifting the Veil

It's decided. You've convinced me. I'm calling a doctor.

The tricky thing is, who do I call? I haven't been seeing any doctors in a long while. The one fertility doc I saw (almost three years ago now), Dr. M,  retired shortly after my first appointment.

If my calculations are correct, it's 6 weeks 4 days since my last period. Pregnancy symptoms are much less than they were two weeks ago, much less than they were at this point with other pregnancies. Staining has graduated to spotting. I've told everyone who asks that it's over, it's just a matter of time.

In order to spare myself the emotional rollercoaster, I thought I would simply skip it altogether, assume the worst, accept it. When bleeding begins, I resolved to weather the storm with a few DVDs and a hot water bottle. And then move on.

Oh who am I kidding? I still have surges of pregnancy symptoms, and of course I'm thrilled when I do. I still fantasize that everything is actually okay, and appreciate the veil of mystery that makes this possible. And yes, I'm afraid to have some stranger take that away from me.

But I don't want to live in fantasy any more. If this pregnancy is over, then I want to know it. If there's hope, if there's something that can be done, I want to know that too.

I'm going to call Dr. M's clinic first thing tomorrow (Monday), in hopes that my medical records are still on file, that someone else will take on this orphaned patient and respond to the urgency of my plea. Cross your fingers for me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Now What?

No news is good news.

Or maybe no news is just plain torture?

Still staining, off and on, but no red blood.

Breast tenderness, on rare occasion, and cramps increasing, and then going away, and then increasing, and then going away.

This morning I woke up feeling like someone is pressing their thumb into my stomach - a sign I usually associate with pregnancy.

I'm afraid to get my hopes up.

I'm afraid to go get my HCG levels checked, afraid I'll miscarry while awaiting test results – as if the gods like a cruel joke and are just waiting to sting me with hard reality.

I go through the day, coping. And then I get a call from a friend telling me how deeply she loves me, that she supports me and however I'm handling what I'm going through, that she'd do anything to help, make me lunch, clean my bathroom, call in others to support me too, accompany me to the doctor... and I am awash in tears. Why do I assume I must go through this alone?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Revisiting LimboLand

I'm not sure where to begin. On the surface, there isn't much to report. I haven't truly begun to bleed, though there has been staining on and off. Early on, I passed a smear of clear slime with a thread of red in it. I assume this is an early version of the mucus plug which seals the cervix shut during pregnancy. I've seen it every time about a week before I miscarry.

For several days I felt occasional waves of cramps with no real pattern except that they seemed to be getting more intense and, strangely, less frequent. Those cramps were different from what I usually experience, broadly abdominal rather than strictly uterine. I haven't had any nausea or breast tenderness (except right now, I must admit, my breasts are sore). I suppose I could find hope in this but it is canceled by a steady-droning, increasingly intense uterine ache. This is very familiar. I would be surprised if I'm not bleeding by the end of the day.

I have been reluctant to talk about all this. The time between the demise of a pregnancy and an actual miscarriage is fraught with conflicting symptoms. I don't want to fend off hopefuls who insist I shouldn't give up. I appreciate the sentiment, and assure you, I'm doing nothing to prevent a pregnancy from succeeding. It's just that I know this terrain so well, and I recall the torture I felt in the past, clinging desperately to decreasing hope.

Of course I imagine myself looking back at this eight months from now with a baby in my arms. How could I not? But when that thought comes through, I do not cling. I acknowledge it for what it is, and appreciate its sweetness. And move forward into the next moment of waiting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breaking News

Staining this morning, pregnancy symptoms mostly gone, a touch of cramps...

Yeah, I think it's over.

On top of that, I'm fighting a  cold - headache, sore throat...

And it's rainy and chilly today. And I promised my neighbor, out of town for the day, that I'd walk her dog along with my own this morning.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Pursuit of "Normal"

Here's the thing: I am an expert on miscarriage, on the signs and symptoms — at least my signs and symptoms — of a miscarriage on the way. But I have no idea what is "normal." I put that word in quotes because I know there's no such thing, no single definition. Every woman has her own story, sometimes multiple stories, as each pregnancy comes with its own parameters.

So what should I think when I'm nauseous, off and on, for two days, and then a day goes by with no more than a tinge of heartburn? Is that cause for alarm? Or is that normal?

One thing I know is that it's heartbreaking to cling to fading symptoms. I must move forward with the day, the week, life. Breathe breathe breathe.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Today I gave myself a Mother's Day gift: I got straight of bed this morning and unwrapped the last home pregnancy test I had in the box. The idea was to reassure myself. A week after my first test, I imagined this one should have a very strong test line, maybe even as dark as the control line. But then again, who knows how much chemical is on the strip, there could be a limit to how dark that line can get. This is what I told myself as I awaited my results. I didn't want to be too disappointed.

Here's what I didn't expect: the test line might actually turn out to be darker and thicker than the control.

It was most definitely darker and thicker than the control line. I brought the test back to bed and J~ and I admired it together.

Here's another thing I didn't expect: that within minutes I might be so queasy I'd need crackers and a gulp of water - twice - to settle my stomach. Had a similar bout of nausea yesterday, after an hour of yoga.

Yes folks, it's really happening. I'm pregnant yet again, and this time, despite my darker days earlier in the week, my hopes are very very up.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Another Roll of the Dice

On the bright side: I did get a high BBT yesterday, the day following my low one. (For those of you who don't know - the subtleties of a woman's temperature reading upon first waking in the morning can indicate where she is in her menstrual cycle. A higher temperature means hormones are shifting towards supporting a pregnancy. Lower readings mean hormones have shifted toward supporting menstruation. But it's not an exact science, and you're right, Emily, I'm stopping. In fact, I've stopped.

And I refuse to run to the doctor for blood tests to see if my pregnancy hormones are doubling as they should be. Nor will I run for an ultrasound the minute I'm pregnant enough (assuming I do become pregnant enough) to see a heartbeat. I've been down that road before and found temporary reassurance, only to be utterly devastated a few days or weeks later.

Instead, I will distract myself when I can, call upon support from friends and family when I can't, and move forward through my days trying to straddle two possible futures. I said to J~ last night, We did it again, we created a life. Who knows how long it will last, but we did that and it's amazing in and of itself. I will try to be grateful that I've been given another chance.

And yes, MC, I am taking the baby aspirin this time.

As always, I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

That Dark Place

I had two days of optimism. The nausea helped. But then the nausea was less and I went to that dark place, where miracle happy endings simply do not happen, where every pregnancy ends badly.

I told a friend my news and my fears and she countered with a story of another friend, who gave up trying after every conceivable intervention failed, miscarriage after miscarriage, deciding she just wasn't meant to have children. And then, at 40, had a first, and two years later, a second healthy daughter.

I broke into tears hearing that, realizing it might just be okay to retain a modicum of hope.

This morning I checked my basal body temperature, and found myself just .05 higher than I usually am before my monthly period. This is not good news. I am back to the dark place.

My dog is bringing me her toy, insisting that I play with her. Life, apparently, goes on.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Just When You Least Expect It...

I thought the big milestone this month was that I didn't keep track of my cycle. I've been doing so, often painstakingly, for more than five years.

Just the other day I sat down to write a new blog post here, something to acknowledge the readers tuning in and telling me they miss my updates, to thank them and admit that Babies or Not isn't such a burning question for me anymore. But I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Little did I know....