What to Expect when Trying to Expect…IVF update from our April Embryo Transfer…

I had been crossing everything before our embryo transfer…fingers, toes, eyes…just about everything except for my legs. These were the last of our frozen embryos. If just one of them stuck we could wave our infertility treatment days goodbye. Only three were remaining, and while the quality wasn’t perfect, they were still little forces to be reckoned with.

I started my progesterone shots (YIKES THOSE ARE BIG NEEDLES), lupron shots, my estrogen patch, my estrogen pills and my routine blood work and ultrasounds. This had just worked several months before. Well…sort of worked. A 5 week pregnancy ending in miscarriage still counts as some sort of progress. It could work again. I had been praying for a miracle. Statistical success rates, odds, likelihood, all inconsequential in the presence of a divine intervention.Happy Family On The Beach. Baby Girl Hugging Her Mother

My typical outlook for infertility treatments has always been cautious optimism. I prepare myself for the worst because it’s so much easier to deal with the disappointment when things don’t work out. Why I decided to change my perspective this last time I’m not sure. For some reason the idea of a changed coping mechanism sounded refreshing. It would work. It was going to work. In spite of the odds it was going to happen. I was going to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy until I had a full-term healthy baby. I was going to have a story of triumph in spite of the odds. This was a simple miracle for God. What reason would he have for denying my request?

The embryo transfer went perfectly. Of the three remaining embryos, two survived the defrosting process. And, of those two, one looked incredibly promising. The catheter slid into place easily and within moments two precious little lifeforms were floating around inside of my uterus. Now came the waiting game. I was hopeful. I was actually incredibly excited. I even felt pregnant. I was tired, moody, hungry and sure that it had worked. I wasn’t cramping, and I wasn’t spotting.

And…I also wasn’t pregnant. Two home pregnancy tests and then a blood draw B-hcg level of less than 1 confirmed that my miracle had not happened. Disappointment has been followed by a firm resolve that there is a reason for everything. I don’t understand it, but instead of letting grief swallow me up (for more than a few weeks), I’m looking forward with hope once again. Since all of our frozen embryos are gone we must start from scratch with a fresh IVF cycle. This journey is far from easy, painless, or inexpensive; but, my desire for another child trumps the obstacles and challenges before me. I refuse to let infertility define me; but I am allowing it to shape me into a stronger woman, full of faith, hope, and love. This may sound trite or contrived, but trust me, this refining process has been neither trite nor contrived.

The struggle with infertility can be all-consuming. It can be and is devastating. I’m not going to sugar coat a horrible diagnosis. However, I can’t let it ruin the beautiful things that I do have in life. Infertility wins if I let it have that hold on me. I refuse to let it win. I am stronger because of it. I am a better mother because of it. I have a deeper respect for other’s pain and suffering because of it. I am learning to let go of the things that are beyond my control because of it. I am trying to make beauty from ashes. Some days I succeed…and for now that’s all I can EXPECT while I’m waiting to EXPECT!

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Miscarriage in the Making?

I’m not sure which is worse…having an altogether failed IVF cycle or having the false hope of a positive pregnancy test followed by a miscarriage. Three years ago I just wanted to get pregnant. I wanted to know that it could happen, but now that I have a rambunctious two year-old, I just want another baby. I know I can get pregnant. I don’t care about pregnancy success; I want “baby in my arms” success!Mother breastfeeding the little baby

Christmas Eve day when I received the glorious and shocking news that our frozen IVF cycle had actually worked, I was over the moon! A little spotting had thrown me off, convincing me that I couldn’t be pregnant, but when our b-hcg numbers were rising nicely I allowed myself the luxury of optimism. Not cautious optimism…good old-fashioned optimism. I was pregnant! We had never had a miscarriage before so why would we now? We wouldn’t have to dish out thousands of dollars for another IVF cycle! We wouldn’t have to coordinate road-trips out to our infertility specialist. We were going to have another baby! Would it be a boy or a girl? What color would I paint the nursery? We needed a name! I even started budgeting for a new crib, clothes, and bedding. I promised myself I wouldn’t go overboard like we had with my daughter.

And, then it happened. The spotting started again and this time it didn’t stop. My b-hcg levels were continuing to rise, but they were now in the low normal range. When my spotting turned into full-blown bleeding I began to panic. The news that had made my Christmas perfect was now making my New Years a nightmare. I was standing in the parking lot at The Magic Kingdom when a phone call from my infertility specialist confirmed my worst fear that my latest blood work was not trending appropriately, and all at once the magic began to fade. Nothing definitive could be said except that I might be having a miscarriage, or I could have an ectopic pregnancy. I still don’t know that answer. I’ve been waiting…waiting to finally pull in my drive way after a two-day road trip home from Florida, waiting to get repeat blood work, waiting to have my ultrasound, and waiting to meet with my OB/GYN. I won’t know anything certain until tomorrow, but I’m pretty certain already that this pregnancy is a miscarriage in the making.Beautiful young woman in bed, with hot water bag on her tummy

It feels like such a waste! Such a let down! Such a cruel trick! Over 60 intramuscular progesterone shots (quite a few of which I have given to myself), countless subq lupron shots, surgery, and an embryo transfer all for what? It would have been so much easier to not get my hopes up only to be devastated. But, for now, I continue to stab myself with 1 1/2 inch needles twice daily just in case this baby decides to stick around. Please stay…pretty please! This mama would love you silly!

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When You Lose What’s Most Precious…the baby that should be in your arms

It is all more painful than words can express. And, yet, I write. I write in REMEMBERANCE of pregnancy loss, infant loss, and infertility-the lost hope of ever becoming a mother for the first time, or the shattering disappointment of losing what would have been a precious and treasured addition to your family.Concept Of Love And Family. Hands Of Mother And Baby

I first felt the twinge of longing for a baby when I was still just a baby myself. For many women, the desire for motherhood starts as early as our toddler years. Even now I am reminded of this innate longing as I watch my two-year old daughter feed, change, and rock her baby dolls. It is all so natural, and yet for many of us, getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or carrying a baby to full term delivery are far from natural.  Even many of the seemingly “fertile” moms among us have been touched by the devastation of miscarriage and stillbirth-countless times over. In my own neighborhood moms have been touched by stillbirths, miscarriages, infertility, and premature delivery. According to statistics from the CDC, the history of your street is probably similar to mine with 1,003,000 pregnancies ending in either stillbirth or miscarriage and 27,500 infants not making it to their first birthday each year in the United States.Melancholy And Sad Young  Woman  At The Window In The Rain

And, while the WHYS and WHAT TO DO’s are incredibly important, taking the time to reflect, remember, and grieve is also important. As I head back into infertility treatments, I am blessed to say that my diagnosis has changed from primary infertility to secondary! After years of trying to conceive naturally, and 5 cycles of complicated IVF with numerous failed embryo transfers, I am blessed to be called “mama” by the sweetest little girl in the world. And, while already being a mother has changed my infertility outlook, secondary infertility is still painful and challenging. My frozen embryo transfer is only several weeks away, but instead of excitement, I am reminded of the grief that comes with each failed cycle. The catch phrase in the infertility and pregnancy complication world is always “cautious optimism.” Oh, how I would love to replace that phrase with ECSTATIC ENTHUSIASM for something that is guaranteed to work!Love and new life concept. A woman's hands forming a heart symbo

Even though my previous embryos were tiny clusters of 8 cells, they were still my “babies.” With each transfer I saw a glimmer of hope. I had new life inside of me. That life would grow into an amazing person! But, when nausea turned into spotting and cramping time and time again, the devastation and disappointment was almost too much to bear. I’m not sure how to prepare myself this time for the possibility of a failed transfer, the cruel tease of a miscarriage (where hope is given and then snatched), or my overwhelming fear of once again delivering a preterm baby who this time may not survive.Divided couple are separated by white wall but holding hands

I should be a pro at coping with infertility and preterm delivery grief and loss, but this time around I’ve decided to FEEL rather than just cope. Life is made to be felt. The beautiful things are made to be seen, the horrific to be despised, and the devastating to be endured with strength. I refuse to become cold to my pain. Instead, I will remember my losses with a heavy heart but look to my blessings with overwhelming gratitude. I have found an inner strength, stronger than anything I could muster alone, fostered by friends, strangers, my faith, and a desire to inspire others enduring similar journeys.

Join me by raising awareness, giving a voice to loss, and sharing your story. Encourage others to donate to cutting edge research that could establish healthy pregnancies, prevent miscarriages and preterm deliveries, and save the lives of preemies. I recently decided to partner with March of Dimes as a local Ambassador. Check out their website for more details, for resources on dealing with grief, and for ways that you can get involved. For additional resources on pregnancy loss, miscarriage, still birth, and infertility, take a look at these amazing sites. If your grief has turned into lasting depression it may be time to seek professional help.

The American Pregnancy Association

Resolve: The National Infertility Association

The Mayo Clinic on Pregnancy Loss

In the spirit of remembrance, click HERE to enter to win a memorial bracelet or necklace of your choosing from Fertile Gems. Crystal, the designer and Etsy shop owner has graciously offered to give away a piece of her Always & Forever jewelry line to a mom who has suffered loss. This small token may take you one step closer to healing along your journey.

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