Sunday, March 20, 2011

A guide to helping your friend/family member/co-worker/complete stranger through personal tragedy

1. Say you're sorry to hear about fill in blank here with the applicable trial, tribulation or loss.
Some common options include:  the death of a family member, the loss of a pregnancy, a bad haircut, your infected hangnail... the options are endless.

2. Have you said you're sorry for whatever?  Good.  Stop! 

Have you personally gone through what the person you're consoling has gone through?
Are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you know all of their situation, what led up to this and if there are any extenuating circumstances?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, DON'T SAY ANYTHING!

If you haven't had a miscarriage I don't want to hear your suggestions of what I did wrong this time.  If you haven't had fertility issues you have no idea what I've been through.  If you haven't suffered a great loss then you can't identify with mine.  So say you're sorry for me, that you wish things were different, that it was a bloomin' shame and then move on to a completely different topic. 

Things folks have said to me in the couple weeks since my miscarriage that made me want to rip their beating heart from their chest and stomp on it:

"I had no problem getting pregnant once I quit my job.  You should stay home and you'll have no problem having children." 
The response I would have given if I thought well on my feet, "I've been trying to have children for four years.  During that time I've worked three different jobs, and I've been unemployed for a while as well.  At this point I need the job to pay for the fertility doctors."

"Don't worry.  You'll be pregnant again in a month and it'll go better next time."
The response I would have given if I didn't work for you, "This is the first time I've shown any signs of being pregnant in four years of trying.  While I certainly hope it won't take another four years, it could easily take months or years for me to get this far again."

"It was just the wrong egg at the wrong time.  There's nothing you can do but try again."
The response I gave, "Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is the definition of insanity."

"It's normal to have a miscarriage when you first get pregnant after having taken birth control pills."
Ok, I'll give you that this is my first pregnancy after going off birth control pills FOUR YEARS AGO!  Sometimes people have a specific medical condition for which birth control pills are the prescribed treatment.  There are lots of reasons to take birth control pills, and taking them does not equate to saying "I never want children."  Also, studies have shown that taking birth control pills does NOT increase your chance of having a miscarriage, even if you get pregnant while still taking them.

"You just need to get into the best shape of your life, and then you won't have any problems at all."
Fuck off!  See this weight?  I'd challenge you got not gain weight when you have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and under active thyroid, and are taking all the hormones I have to take just to get pregnant.  I eat plenty of vegetables, without an excessive amount of sugar or fat.  I walk often, ride my bike and am generally active.  Would I like to loose 50 lbs? Yes!  But I'm happy enough with the 20 lbs I've lost since I was properly dosed and medicated, and don't need you judging me!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Trying to find the bright side of miscarriages

Hot dogs.  They're not allowed when you're pregnant.  They go the way of all processed meats, like lunch meat.  I think it's because of the nitrates.  I've had 23 hot dogs in the last two weeks.

Pain.  I'm not in any.  At least not physically.  Apparently being pregnant through fertility treatments is a very painful process with all the hormones going crazy and stuff.  I was in pain up to a level 7-8 (on a scale of 0-10) anywhere from 2-4 times a day with each time lasting anything from 20 minutes to two hours.  It woke me up at night, and kept me from working in the day.  It hurt to sit, it hurt to lie down, about the only thing that helped was to get up and pace my house.  Which I did.  For HOURS.  That stopped with the miscarriage.  The doctors didn't seem to think it was anything serous.  Hmmmm.

My husband gets to keep his car a little while longer.  Not that he wouldn't gladly trade it in for something with a back seat.  We're supposed to be going to the Atlanta auto show in a few weeks to look for a car that will allow him to have the new baby in the back seat.  This takes the pressure off.

Basil.  It's my favorite herb.  It's thought to trigger contractions so pregnant women shouldn't have to much, at least until they're ready to give birth.  Course when my sister-in-law was overdue we went out for Italian so that she could get all the basil she wanted to trigger labor.  I gave it up while I was pregnant.  I missed it.  Tonight I'm having lasagna made with home made sauce.  The sauce has a cup and a half of basil in the recipe.  There's basil in the meatballs too.  Mmmm, basil.

Vodka.  It helps you forget.  It helps you feel good.  I'm trying not to drink to much because I have a feeling that I could EASILY fall into a depression if I had to much right now.  But a little bit helps a lot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

4 years, 5 doctors, where are we now?

Four Years.

That's how long it's been since my husband and I decided we were ready to start our family. We actually made the decision earlier, at his cousin's wedding. I remember lying in bed with him in the hotel that night after the reception. Talking. We always lie in bed and talk. It's the place we go to solve the worlds problems and our problems. It's hard to be mad at each other when you're wrapped in the other's arms, faces inches apart. It's intimate, both physically and emotionally. It's hard to fight in this position, and easy to cry. But there was no fight this night, nor any tears. We'd been married a year and a half, and loved our time together, but thought it was time to invite someone else into the family. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive. We couldn't agree on much about names, we both vetoed the other's favorite girl names. I didn't know if I would be a good parent, but I knew I would try.

Five Doctors.

I knew heading into this there were problems. One doctor had suspected I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and had told me that I probably had never ovulated on my own. So when I went to her to tell her we were ready to try I was VERY surprised at her plan of attack. She wanted us to try on our own for a year. This seemed like a total waste of time to a person who'd been told only a year before that she probably didn't ovulate on her own. But we tried. For a year. And nothing happened, just as I suspected. So I went back and we tried fertility drugs. Three months I spent on Clomid, with migraines so bad I would come home and go straight to bed crying. I couldn't stand light, I couldn't stand movement. It's really hard to get pregnant when you can't stand for your husband to touch you.

So I went back, a glutton for punishment. She told me that sometimes women with PCOS need to loose weight before they can get pregnant.

800 Calories.

She suggested I try Weight Watchers or South Beach. I tried both, and gained weight on them. She insisted that weight loss is as simple as calories in & calories burned. I started out at about 1000 calories a day, but when that didn't have the results I wanted, I slowly found ways to cut down. 100 calories for breakfast. 200 calories for lunch. Maybe a 100 calorie snack in the afternoon, and a small dinner. I never got below 192 lbs. I went back to the doctor to tell her my results, and she accused me of lying.

So I found a new OB/GYN. This one was nice, but completely out of his depth. He suggested I try a reproductive endocrinologist, so I started looking for one. Of course our insurance didn't cover any much closer than twenty miles away, so instead I found a local PLAIN endocrinologist. On our first visit I told him my ultimate goal, to have children. He ran a great many tests. It was during this time that I adopted a new weight loss plan called "give the doctors all the blood they want." It was not unusual for me to give 11-12 vials of blood every few weeks, and for a few months I saw this doctor quite often. After a while I began to feel that tests were being run with little or no definitive results. So I sat down and specifically asked this endocrinologist if we were getting any closer to anything that would result in me being able to have children. His answer surprised me. He said, "I suspect you have PCOS, but if you want to know for sure then you should probably see a reproductive endocrinologist." I looked at him like he had two heads. He had told me pretty much what I knew when I started seeing him.

I felt like I'd just lost 5 months of my life, and we were no closer to having children than we were when my doctor accused me of lying to her. Then, upset, I went to see my chiropractor. Not for fertility issues, but she's given me good advice in the past, fixed my TMJ and we'd discussed in passing that I was trying to have children. We discussed how I was getting nowhere fast and she said that she knew two doctors, not specialists, but they focused on hormonal balance. I decided I was faced with two paths. I could drive twenty miles to a fertility specialist and use the brute force method of getting pregnant. Or I could go a more natural and hopefully gentler, closer, but also more expensive (not covered by insurance) way.

I spent a year and a half on the bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I won't call it wasted time. We found that I had an underactive thyroid (no wonder I couldn't loose weight) and now I'm free to not obsess about food and I've lost twenty pounds. I'm healthier than I've ever been, but after a year and a half and still no sign of a baby (and a job change that resulted in better insurance) we agreed it was time to try the brute force method.

27 days

That's how long it took the fertility specialists to tell me I was pregnant. Of course it wasn't that simple. I'd been hurting for five days, and knew something different was going on. Horrible pains in my abdomen and lower back that would wake me up at night, or keep me from being able to sit at my desk during the day. When they came on there was no rest, no sitting, no lying, and no bending or stooping; just slow pacing in circuits around the house, sometimes for an hour or more at a stretch. On the few occasions I was stuck in meetings when an attack came on I would be completely unable to concentrate. I left meetings shaking and barely holding back tears for the pain. So when I went in for the blood test and mentioned it to the phlebotomist, and she said, "Well that's good, sounds like something's going on, you wanna talk to the doctor?" I said sure. I can handle pain. I don't exaggerate (I had someone at work ask) and I can work through almost anything and still be productive. I wasn't expecting a pity party or anything, but I did expect to be taken seriously. So when the doctor (it's a group, and I haven't seen this guy before) studied my chart and came in and told me that this was probably just PMS cramps and I haven't had them for 5 days before because my ovaries hadn't been working in the past, but normal women whose ovaries work go through this every month; I was a bit skeptical. Because I swear if normal women went through this every month we'd have a LOT more voluntary complete hysterectomies! I promise!

Still, I was reasonably prepared for them to come in and say the test was negative. They said they would call me with the results, but I wanted to stick around and find out, and they said it would only be an hour or so, and I'm not normally at work until 10:00 anyway. So I waited. She walked by and said the results are coming in now, and then I waited a while longer and wondered what was keeping her. She was in with the doctor, who was as surprised as I was when he heard I was pregnant, after just assuring me that I almost certainly wasn't.

3 weeks

That's how long I was pregnant before I miscarried our child. Our first child, the one I've been struggling to have for over four years. I keep telling myself we've made such progress. This is the first time there's been any evidence that I could conceive. I should be jumping for joy at the potential, shouldn't I? But I can’t find that in me. I’m raw, torn; I feel like my emotions have been tied to the back of a pickup and dragged down a gravel road. I find myself staring into space with an expression on my face, horrified, like I’ve just witnessed a gory murder. Well, I’m partially right.

1 miscarriage and I'm devastated.