The Plummet

I think I knew when I woke up, alert and stunned, at 6 am. I cooed calming words to myself as I took the test, and watched it, painfully, eternally, nauseously. I willed that line into existence. “Please,” I whispered. “Please.”

But that mean little test was stark white.

Here we go, again. This is the quickest one yet. A line, and then no line. If I hadn’t photographed it, I would swear I dreamt it: that sweet, ephemeral line.

I have a big presentation tomorrow, in front of 500 people, which feels like such deja vu. In June, as I was going through my second very painful miscarriage, I had to give the same presentation to a similar audience, in Vancouver. I was oddly numb the entire time, with no stage fright, the coolest I’ve ever been on stage, poised and calm. When I made it back to my hotel, I crumpled into a ball on the bed and stayed up all night Googling “two miscarriages in a row.” Google did not make me feel better.

This one is the easiest, honestly. I know now that there is a medicine that might make it all better. In a week or so I get to embark on a new path. Onwards and upwards.

That Second Little Line

You know that feeling as you approach the top of a roller coaster? You’re about to plummet, and you’re nervous, excited, giddy, anticipating what’s ahead.  You hit the top and look down, terrified but euphoric.

That’s how I feel right now. I hope that this time, just this one time, I’m not stumbling off of the ride, broken and alone.

Today, I am nervous, excited and giddy as I anticipate the plummet. This morning was 10 dpo. There it was, that second little line, infantile and uncertain, making its way into the cold, hard world.

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This time around, I didn’t update my status on Babycenter, I didn’t text my best friend, I didn’t even tell the hubby. I just went to work, and spent most of the day forgetting about it.

The next week will be a tough one for me, and the best I can do is try to focus on work (have I mentioned that I find my job in tech both invigorating and fulfilling?), on a presentation I’m delivering on Thursday, on my weekend getaway with hubby.

Stay tuned as I cling to this roller coaster.

Confessions

I have two confessions.

The first is that I got up and walked right out of a get-together on Friday night, without saying goodbye, without much explanation. I felt a little crazy, and giddy with the realization that I was acting like a crazy person. I ran outside on the street, flagged a taxi, and stumbled home into the safety of my husband’s arms.

It all seemed like a harmless, happy way to spend a Friday evening: Girls Night In, hosted by my sweet friend C. There would be cocktails and snacks and gossip, and maybe I could escape from this purgatory for a little while.

When I walked in there were two girls there already, both with big, gorgeous bellies. I know both of these women, and I learned from social media that they were pregnant, but being faced with those triumphant bellies in person knocked me off-guard. I fought through it, asking them the normal pleasantries (due date? gender? how are you feeling?) before making my way to the bar.

Two more women arrived, both new mothers, excited for a night out. I found myself between two conversations, pregnancy and motherhood. I sipped my wine, invisible.

Another knock at the door, and there was my friend A, resplendent and glowing. She is 7 months pregnant, and I have successfully avoided her for 7 months. We both decided to start trying at the same time, and her victory was swift. I cried when I heard the news, which was a week after my first miscarriage.

I said hello to her and then I walked out onto the balcony. I couldn’t breathe, my face hot and flushed. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I tried to inhale the cool evening, but instead I crumpled, in tears.

The lovely hostess C found me.

“Oh my goodness, what’s wrong!?” She exclaimed.

“I’ve just been through a miscarriage and I’m struggling around all of these pregnant women. I’m so sorry. I think I should go.” I tried to be brief and rational.

“Oh, honey, that’s awful,” and she wrapped me in a hug.

“I’m so sorry,” I kept muttering as she handed me my coat and hugged my sympathetically. She was wonderfully gracious. The next day she sent me a note, and we made a date to get coffee. I haven’t reached out yet to A, or to any of the other women there – I’m not sure what to say. I suppose I will fall back on the now familiar “I wasn’t feeling well.”

Sigh.

I have another confession. I was supposed to skip this cycle, as my RE said it would be healthy to take a break. Our plan is to start Femara next cycle, and I was instructed to call when my period starts. On Thursday I got a beautiful OPK, with ample EWCM, and I couldn’t resist: we tried.

Once again, I am in the three week wait. The result will likely be the same, but at least I know there is another option if it doesn’t work out. It seemed like an okay gamble to take.

Here we go… a final unmedicated try. Crazier things have happened.

Desolation

We spent the weekend in Desolation Wilderness, sleeping in the serenity of Lake Velma. The hike was pleasantly challenging, seven miles up a well-worn trail south of Lake Tahoe. The day was cool and spiked with sunshine.

IMG_0905We swam in the lake, pitched our tent, and cooked over a fire. It was incredibly peaceful, and I surrendered to it.

Four days ago I went to my RE for the Natera Horizon Carrier screening, which I don’t want, and I think is unnecessary. Yet the RE requires it, and so I sighed and submitted.

But I also fought.

“Do we really need to wait for my RPL panel before we start Femara?” I pleaded.

“Hmmm,” he said, as he waved the ultrasound wand around. “I’m 90% sure this is an ovulation problem”

He poked around and considered.

“Okay. Let’s start next cycle.”

“Really?!” I cried. “But the nurse said-“

“It’s okay, I’ll handle it. Go ahead and do the karyotyping, although the odds are very low there’s an issue there. If that looks good, we’ll move forward in October. I think you’ll be pregnant quickly.”

One small victory! Now instead of 56 days, I have less than 20 to go before we start the medicated cycle.

I am full of hope, and full of fight.

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Waiting…

On Monday I had a consultation call with my RE to lay out a plan. I was disheartened to discover that they won’t prescribe Letrozole until they have run the full recurring pregnancy loss panel on me; they won’t run the PRL panel until 6 weeks post-miscarriage.

So, now I must wait.

I can run the RPL testing on Oct 14th. The next cycle after that will be sometime around Nov 11. 56 days of waiting, looking out the window, watching the world go by.

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In the meantime, I’m fantasizing about announcing a pregnancy to my husband’s relatives on Christmas Eve, when we will next see them. I’m also dreaming about what I might post on Facebook, if I ever make it to that place. I want to be brave. I want to be public about my struggle. I want my friends to know, if they are someplace similar, that they are not alone.

Will I be strong enough? I’m not sure. But in the meantime, let’s practice.

Dear Friends,

Hubby and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting a little one this fall. I wish I could say that this was an easy journey for us, but it wasn’t so; along the way we experienced several miscarriages. I quickly learned that a miscarriage is an exquisitely lonely grief, a social taboo, to be born with hushed strength. I made many people uncomfortable before I learned to simply tell white lies. This silence has rendered me a shell of myself, inauthentic and aloof.

I no longer choose silence. Friends, a miscarriage is a devastating experience. I hope none of you experience it, but the odds are high that some of you will. Please know that I am here to listen; you will not suffer through this alone.

They say after every storm there is a rainbow. We cannot wait to cradle our rainbow baby in our arms in a few short months, and we hope you will join us in celebrating this tiny miracle.

Thank you for listening. 

I hope I have both the opportunity and the courage to post this.

Stay-in Saturday

“What do you want to do today?”

We stretch out gloriously under the covers. It’s one of those grey San Francisco mornings that yawns over the city; Moose is dozing contentedly; our bed is warm and yielding.

“There’s that baby shower,” I say.

Hubby pulls me into his deep, expansive arms. “I don’t really feel like going,” he lies.

After the miscarriage in May, for the first time in my life, I began to have trouble functioning at social events. I have always been something of a social diva, thriving on attention, flourishing in fraternity. This summer, I have flailed, withdrawn, sullen. Was it always so difficult to maintain a conversation? When did it suddenly become impossible to relate to the people around me?

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In the beginning, my friends still tried. One Saturday evening in June, I had spent the day inside, missing several BBQs and birthday parties, pretending I didn’t feel well. Hubby was away at a bachelor party. I ran into a pair of friends at the supermarket, as I was sadly buying myself dinner for one.

“Come join us for dinner! We’re having a dinner party! We’d love to have you!” They were tipsy and raucous and in love.

I had trouble making words with my mouth, my lips like styrofoam.

“I’m sorry, I think I’m coming down with something, maybe another night,” and I scurried off, avoiding them both for months.

Instead, I have spent a great deal of time with Moose, enjoying the exquisite solitude of the Presidio, a rambling former military base near my home. We’ve spent hours walking the serpentine trails, feeling the fog lick at our backs, the dirt solid beneath us.

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“Let’s just stay in today. I’ll make lamb shanks for dinner,” Hubby says.

It is cold and damp outside, the strange shawl of summer in San Francisco. In his eyes there is so much unsaid, and yet there is a tacit agreement. I hope at some point I can be open with my friends, that maybe they’ll understand how the losses have twisted inside of me, rendering me shell-shocked, robbing me of laughter.

Most likely, they never will understand. And maybe that’s okay, too. Maybe we all suffer, for a while, and then we recover, a bit tougher, a bit stronger, a bit shier. Everyone has their trials.

“Okay, sweetheart. That sounds perfect,” I say, nestling my face into that broad, warm chest.

I’m so damn lucky to have him.

My first appointment

The facility is gorgeous. All white and glass with huge views of the bay, smiling, attractive receptionists with dark lipstick, 18 types of looseleaf tea, and, reassuringly, six other women who look just like me.

I fill out ten thousand forms, they take my picture, and they charge me $350 before I can even see the doctor. I wait twenty minutes.

Dr. Philip Chenette is all business.

“So we have a history of miscarriage. Four, in a row,” He opens.

I am stunned and grateful that he’s calling them miscarriages instead of that loathsome, dismissive term: “chemical pregnancy.”

He walks me through the possible causes, drawing them out for me, in order of complexity. He suspects ovulation issues, given my long cycle, and basically says that’s the easiest to treat, followed by hormone support, then uterine abnormalities, then chromosomal imbalances. He starts talking about IVF, and I tense up.

We’re here, so soon?

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The first step is the ultrasound. I am terrified. I just know something is going to be terribly, terribly wrong. Ten uncomfortable minutes later, we are all staring at a screen full of fuzzy grey shapes.

“Your uterus is perfect,” He says. Exactly what it should look like. No scars, no fibroids, no septum. “Your cervix is beautifully shaped, with gentle curves, which is why you get pregnant so easily.”

I start to breathe again.

But here’s the issue:  “You’ve got a lot of eggs. 1,2,3…18 on one side and 15 on the other. 33 follicles! This is the problem. You have too many follicles. You are ovulating, but there is no dominant egg.”

“Could I have PCOS!?” I’ve see this term a lot on the internet, usually in conjunction with infertility or recurrent loss. I had already googled the symptoms and it didn’t sound quite like me – I don’t have strange hair growth or baldness, or a deep voice, or painful, irregular periods.

“No, I don’t think so. With PCOS, you see a ringlike formation of equal-sized follicles.”

“So. The problem is that there are too many follicles, so no one follie is getting developed enough?” I ask.

“Something like that,” he agrees. “Your lining is also a little thin. It should be 7mm and it’s only 4mm, so we’ll need to keep our eye on that.”

Okay, so two problems, maybe.

“On the next cycle we’ll do Letrozole, and we’ll monitor the lining. We’ll run some blood tests as well.” He begins jotting things down for the nurse as I try go decide whether this is all good news.

“I think you’ll be good to go in one cycle, maybe two,” He says, on the way out the door.

Well, that sounds encouraging. He certainly seems much more optimistic than he did in the first few minutes. I’ve decided to interpret this with hope: we have a plan, and the doctor seems confident. I suppose this is the best news I could hope for.

As I leave the office into the touristy throng of the Embarcadero, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the day is the clearest I’ve seen in weeks

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My Only Child

“Is he an only child?” My vet asked me this morning, blond curls wisping around her young face, eyes bright and cheery.

I watched her poke and prod my sweet black lab, Moose, as he wagged his tail.

Tomorrow it’s my turn to go to the doctor. I have my first visit with a reproductive endocrinologist, entering a shiny, expensive, needle-filled world. Tomorrow I will get poked and prodded. I am so apprehensive – I’ve mentally prepared myself to be strong, and steely, and ready to fight for myself. And, yet. And yet I so badly want them to tell me everything is fine, I’m so healthy, my body is perfect, and that my baby is right around the corner.

So this is where my blog starts. I married my superhero husband in a fairytale wedding in New Orleans, in 2014. I’ve been obsessed with this man since the day I met him, on Valentine’s Day 2009, at an 80s costume party after one too many vodka sodas. I followed him from New York to California, and waited as patiently as I could until he finally popped the question on my 30th birthday. We bought a solid, stuccoed three bedroom home on a park with views of the bright blue Pacific ocean. We rescued Moose, the happy black lab. Our careers soared, we were in love, and the sun shone only for us.

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On our one-year anniversary, as we had planned, I stopped birth control. A month later I got my first period, right on time, and I turned 32. I started using OPKs and, holy smokes, I got my BFP! I couldn’t believe how easy it all was. I remember so clearly, I had taken a digital the day my period was due (it was too early on in this journey for me to know about FRERs) and it was negative. But the next day there was still no period, and I had an extra test in my purse, so around 5 pm I peed on the stick in the bathroom at my office. I stuck the test in my pocket and walked back to my desk. I peeked at it 3 minutes later, and my heart nearly stopped. “Pregnant,” it said. I flew out of the office, mind racing, hands trembling.

I went to the mall and bought some tiny little baby socks, and put them in a gift box with my positive test. When my husband got home I said “Surprise!” He opened the box and just gawked at it, stunned. And then he hugged me and kissed me, and we laughed in nervous wonder.

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A few days later we made adorable photos holding signs that said “Baby on board!” and sent them to our relatives, calling them and asking them to open their email as we “needed their opinions on something.” Everyone was overjoyed. I was humming around my house all weekend, skipping, euphoric. My husband cheerily piled extra food on my plate and gave me two kisses instead of one each time he left.

“We are so lucky,” I remember saying.

On Sunday evening, lying in bed, I felt a sharp cramp in my belly. I instantly knew something was wrong. I went to the bathroom. There was blood. Just a spot, dark brown. Looking back, I’m surprised I understood so quickly what was happening. I just knew.

I barely slept at all, and by morning I was nauseous, dizzy, and cramping horribly. I called my OBGyn and they said to come in for my first ever blood draw. These would become very familiar to me.

My first beta: 160. For 4 weeks + 5 days, that wasn’t terrible, but it was low.

2 days later my beta was 128. I was miscarrying.

The miscarriage was awful. It dragged on, seemingly forever. They gave me misoprostol to speed it up, which did nothing. We went to Napa for the weekend, for a change of scenery, and I just remember sobbing hysterically as my husband brought me breakfast in bed, took me to a nice restaurant, and hugged me tightly, helplessly. Finally, at 5 weeks + 4 days, I got my period. It was the heaviest, most intense period I’d ever had.

I mourned, but I was still hopeful. It was a fluke, my OBgyn said, bad luck. Just try again.

The next three cycles in a row I would repeat almost the same experience – BFPs followed by cramping and my period. I just can’t seem to make it to the 5 week mark.

For me, it’s not a “two week wait” – instead, it’s three weeks. I have yet to keep a baby that long.

This morning, sitting in that cold, tiled room, looking into my vet’s bright eyes, I forced the words out:
“Yes,” I sputtered. “He is my only child.”

And I choked back the itchy feeling of angels in my throat.

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