31 December 2016

Hello 2017!

2016...a year I am looking forward to putting in the history books.

For me it is marked by loss -- very personal loss.

The world is not completely cruel -- along with the loss I had some gains...I was lucky enough to gain two beautiful new nephews. I am loving watching them grow.

But I do hope 2017 brings more gains than losses. I am entering 2017 with hope -- and hope you will, too.

But 2016...smell ya later!

Wishing you all a very happy and safe New Year.

29 December 2016

The Small Percentage

20% of known pregnancies become non-viable/end in miscarriage.
2% of known pregnancies end in missed miscarriage (the body does not expel the fetus, even after non-viability)
30% of D&Cs from a missed miscarriage lead to Asherman's Syndrome (uterine scarring)
23.5% of women over 35 diagnosed with Asherman's are able to give birth.

What does this all mean?

My doctor was convinced I would get pregnant very quickly once I got my period. Frankly, I thought I would, too! But when that period never came...we started to get concerned. We waited a bit...just in case my body was taking its time getting back on track. When after over two months came and went, it was time to take things into my own hands and push for further diagnosis. (tip: become your own advocate. Push when you think something is wrong.) 

First I had a sonogram -- luckily we had this scheduled because my doc thought she saw a strange blood vessel and wanted to get it checked. That didn't tell us much, but the sonogram doc recommended that I have a sonohysterograph. Sounds intimidating, no? (tip: take a few ibuprofen and be prepared for some cramping. It is uncomfortable but not painful) The doctor became concerned when she could barely get the fluid in. I became concerned when she said that meant there was some scarring...and the call from my ob-gyn further confirmed this and suggested I see a specialist.

Off I went to a specialist in minimally invasive gynecological surgery. Full of hope, I watched as he looked over my results. I listened as he talked about my uterine scarring, also known as Asherman's syndrome, and went over how he would perform the surgery, an operative hysteroscopy, and the risks involved. And a few days later, there I was in the operating room, and shortly thereafter, in the recovery room. The scarring was extensive, he had gotten most of it, but I needed to have one more to finish it off. In the meantime, I would take estrogen to help build my endometrial lining, and progesterone to help get my body to have a period.

Knowing what I know now...not getting that period would have been a sign that something else was wrong. I didn't know that then, though...what I did know was that I had a short window in which to have this surgery before I, once again, had to travel for work. I adjusted my schedule, and on our first anniversary, 9 May 2016, I went in for my second hysteroscopy.

I will not forget the look on my doctor's face when he told me that while he had gotten all the scarring, my endometrial lining was less than optimal; in fact, it was almost non-existent. After a month of estrogen, it should have been nice and thick...and it wasn't. I cried a lot that day. J felt sad that day. To me, that news was harder than hearing our pregnancy was non-viable. It was harder than the D&C procedure that had likely caused the scarring. The following day when my ob-gyn called to tell me to say she'd never seen anything like this, reminded me she had stopped the D&C so she wouldn't go too deep, and that I would need to consider other options, I cried more.

In a weird way...it felt like the first time I had felt something visceral since my dad passed away. The sorrow was deep, my cried more like bellows...I wonder what the person in the hotel next to me thought. I quickly made an appointment with the fertility specialist, but that day, I started grieving. I had lost my ability to carry a child.

We went to the specialist -- tried a few more rounds of estrogen. We tested my eggs -- there were a lot and they were good. My body was absorbing the estrogen well, but still my lining didn't exist. The cruel irony didn't escape me...I thought it would be my age that would hinder our ability to have kids, but no, I am fertile Myrtle but with no place to put 'em! I listened and cried as two different fertility docs told me to consider surrogacy. I grieved that my body couldn't do what it was supposed to.

And I was angry. Angry that my body couldn't do what it was supposed to. That through no fault of my own, my fertility was taken from me. I was angry that my body felt terrible -- bloated and crampy -- and I got no relief. And I was sad that J's chance for a bio child was taken from him, too. That took a long time to get past.

During this time I also suddenly lost my uncle, which, in a weird way, helped make our next step decision a bit easier.

So what does this all mean?

It means I had a lot of bad luck in the fertility department. How I ended up in this small percentage, I don't know. But I did.

This wasn't where I expected life to take us. I allowed myself to grieve and be sad. This was very important. I tried not to be too hard on myself -- which in itself was tough. Once I allowed for all of that...I was able to focus on our next journey.

06 December 2016

When It's Finally Over

When your pregnancy is found to be non-viable, you have a few choices:
1. Wait for it to pass naturally
2. Take medication that causes your body to abort
3. Have a medical procedure
4. Drink (well...that is an adjunct to all of those!)

I had a work trip planned about two weeks after we found out. I didn't have the luxury of time, but also, my body wasn't doing a great job of miscarrying on its own. I decided first to take medication.

This was the only time I slowed down slightly from work. I relaxed, took the medication, and waited for the cramping to come. I waited...and waited...and waited...There was one moment when I thought, yes, this is it. But a small clot passed and a small cramp, and that was it.

This gave me a lot of time to think and get angry.
Why was my body behaving in such a way?!
Could it not do anything right?

This did no good, I could not will my body to pass this mass of tissue that was now tricking my body into thinking it was still pregnant. Until I could let it go, I would remain tired. My boobs would remain swollen. My hormones would remain a bit out of whack.

I remained hopeful throughout the weekend that the medicine would take care of things. Alas, it was not to be. My body -- she is a stubborn one! We had a contingency plan with the doctor should this happen, and that was to get a dilation and curettage (D&C) early in the week. This carried with it some risk, but I was told that it was minor and the best way, at this point, to complete the miscarriage.

I have always been a strong advocate for a woman's right to choose, and for safe access when a woman chooses to end her pregnancy. After going through the procedure myself, this need to safe access resonates even more so. This is not a sophisticated procedure -- you have strong pain medication, and the doctor sticks a suction tube up your lady bits and scrapes around. Without a sterile environment, by a professional who knows what they are doing, there is a huge risk for infection or worse.

At any rate, my doctor and I chit chatted while I tried to stay brave throughout the procedure. I was super grateful for my high pain tolerance...though I did ask them to pump up the drugs at one point. And then, just as quickly as it had all started, it was over.

The procedure. My pregnancy. All officially over.

It was pretty unceremonious, and while they required that someone pick me up, I could have just as easily driven myself home.

Which I should have...because to add insult to injury, I ended up getting a parking ticket after leaving my car parked nearby overnight.