I haven’t been on here in awhile…like almost a year. In my defense, I spent most of that year in very poor health. I opted to have gastric bypass surgery in December 2012. The surgery was successful in that I’ve lost about 115 pounds, but I lost the weight VERY quickly and had some severe complications after the surgery. This past July, after months of being on home IV nutrition and fluids through a PICC line, I had to undergo another surgery (to remove a large ulcer that had developed that was preventing me from eating and drinking, and to revise the original surgery) with a different bariatric surgery program. I am happy to report that I am feeling MUCH better now with regard to my overall health. Luckily, I have a job that allowed me to work from home and I had a lot of support from my husband and my friends. I chose to have the gastric bypass surgery so that I could be the mother that I wanted to be to Ian…not the mother who sat on the couch and watched him play…or deleted every picture of herself out of family pictures. I achieved my goal…but in the process I had to sacrifice, for the last few months at least, being the mother I wanted to be to him. Luckily, I was blessed with the happiest, smartest, most easy-going baby/toddler (in my unbiased opinion) that anyone could have, so Ian has emerged from my health issues none-the-wiser. I could gush about him forever, but I’ll save that for another post.
You may wonder why I’m writing now…after almost a year of internet silence. I’m writing now because I need to. You see, there are many side effects of drastic weight loss. One of which can be increased fertility. However, when you’ve spent years going through what I went through to get pregnant with someone else’s eggs, you don’t concern yourself with trivial matters like “fertility.” When the bariatric doctors have asked me over the past months what birth control I am using (as the birth control pill doesn’t absorb properly in gastric bypass patients, and not everyone knows that), I’ve chuckled and explained that there is no way I could get pregnant on my own. Between endometriosis, sucky eggs, only one ovary, periods that only happen every 2 or 3 months, and infrequent sex with my husband (nothing like an IV sticking out of your upper arm to put you and your man in the mood), I was not too worried about getting pregnant. Only…I guess I should have been.
A couple of weeks ago (my first full week back at work actually), I was sitting at my desk, typing away, when I felt wetness between my legs. My stomach was having sharp pains, too, but it had only been 29 days since my last period, so I thought maybe I was having some random ovulation issue…as my periods have been running 60 to 90 days apart. I ignored my body for a couple of hours and by the time I got up and went to the bathroom, I had bled through my jeans…at work…NICE! So, I went home…and promptly started vomiting. The cramps got super-intense and I told The Prince that I thought a cyst must have burst or something, as this was NOT a normal period. On one trip to the bathroom, I noticed my old boxes of home pregnancy tests next to my pads and tampons. The Prince had recently re-arranged/toddler-proofed the bathroom and apparently thought those two items logically went together. I don’t know what possessed me to pee on a stick. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had just left it alone…but I didn’t. And one positive pregnancy test turned into two…and then three. I tested with a digital HPT later that night…still “PREGNANT,” but the non-digital test’s line seemed a little lighter than it had been earlier. I didn’t say a word to The Prince or anyone else about what was going on. Instead, I obsessively counted the days back to my last “encounter” with my husband, and tried to figure out how this could possibly happen. The timing would be about right if I was “a fertile,” but I wasn’t…I was very much infertile. I remembered my husband saying to me prior to the last “encounter,” “Do we need to use precautions?” and me saying “No”…ignoring the box of condoms I had bought “just in case.”
The next morning, there was still a positive line on the non-digital HPT, but the digital was reading “NOT PREGNANT.” The bleeding and cramping was still going strong and I was pretty sure that this is what a “chemical pregnancy” looked like. I went to work and decided to call my OBGYN’s office. They were rude, saying “What exactly do you want us to do for you? We can do a blood test, but it won’t help anything.” That’s true. Confirmation that I was a little bit pregnant a few days earlier did not help anything. I ended-up calling my fertility center for some more compassionate advice, and the amazing head nurse (who is still an angel) told me to come in for blood work, as we needed to be sure this was actually not a growing pregnancy and also not an ectopic pregnancy that would require intervention. It was really odd sitting in the fertility center waiting room where I had sat a hundred times before. In the past, I was always praying for a pregnancy…and this time I was praying for a negative beta. I know how awful that sounds. But I also know that if my pregnancy had started out with that much bleeding…something was wrong with the pregnancy. I know that I am well enough to go to work and do daily living activities, but I am still struggling to take in 500 calories a day and to not lose weight every single day. I’m not in any position to carry a healthy pregnancy right now.
As I was leaving the clinic to wait the couple of hours for the phone call with my Hcg level results, the head nurse asked me “What are we hoping for here?” It was all I could do not to break down right there. How could I say the words “A negative” inside the hallowed walls of the fertility center…knowing that every other room was filled with a woman who was me 3 years ago…a woman who would give anything for a positive? In that moment, I could not have felt any lower, any more despicable, any more irresponsible. As I walked back through the waiting room, I saw a room full of husbands, boyfriends, partners, and waiting patients looking up at me with smiles of hope or nervous looks of anticipation and worry. I thought, if they only knew what was in my head right now, there would be only looks of contempt.
The call came a couple of hours later. My Hcg was already down to zero. I could only have been the very tiniest bit pregnant…but the news still hurt emotionally. Even though I feel it was the best outcome, I still felt a deep sadness that I still haven’t completely shaken. The bleeding has FINALLY stopped, but the emotional pain (mainly guilt and sadness) has not. I eventually (a couple of days in) told my husband what happened. He said he was sorry I was going through it, but he was glad I wasn’t pregnant because my body couldn’t handle that right now. Then he launched into how exciting it was that I can get pregnant with my own eggs…and I wanted to punch him. I technically got a little bit pregnant with my own eggs, but it didn’t take…and there’s no way of knowing if the loss was about my egg quality, my endometriosis, my body attacking an embryo, or just a comment on my general health. Hell…it could have just been a fluke as Dr. Google claims that 50-70% of pregnancies are likely chemical pregnancies that no one knew about. While I suppose it is possible that I have magically become a fertile, I think it is more likely that this loss was a reminder that I cannot get pregnant with a child with my own eggs…at least not for more than a day or two. And I’ve already mourned the loss of having a child that is biologically mine. I don’t want to reopen that wound and start the process of hoping that my eggs “work.” We have eight little frozen embryos, genetic siblings to the perfect little angel we already have, waiting for us to decide in a year or two if we want to try to give Ian a sibling before we put the rest up for adoption. I’m okay with that…but apparently my husband is not on the same page as me. What I did learn from this experience is that my body is not to be trusted and I can’t count on my infertility, so I need to use some form of birth control. What a concept after years of failed ART cycles.
I know this post isn’t going to win me any friends…especially with those still in the trenches. I’ve been avoiding writing it because: (1) it’s not exactly how I wanted to make my blogging return; (2) I have friends who are going through their own infertility/fertility stuff and I’ve been trying to wait for their stuff to calm down before putting this out there; (3) I’m worried about getting lectured in the comments about how irresponsible and deplorable I am for behaving recklessly and then hoping for a negative beta…and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to fight back because I mostly agree; and (4) I worry that I’ll regret putting this insanely honest post out there…but it will be too late to take it back. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I know I will put this post out there because I need to write this post…and get these toxic thoughts and feelings out of my head and heart. My blog has always been my place to come and be totally honest about my feelings and experiences with infertility and along the way it has saved me an occasionally even helped someone else. I’m really hoping this post helps me work through the emotions surrounded with this situation, and doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process…especially those of my infertile friends working on conceiving siblings for their little angels.
It’s easy to forget what it is like to be sitting in the waiting room of the fertility center, praying for some good news. You wouldn’t think the intensity of the feelings would ever fade or leave you. But before writing this post, I made myself go back and read through my posts when I was there…just to be sure that the old me would still want me to post this. I had forgotten how intense things were…how bad the emotional pain was. And still, I am writing this post because the old me, sitting in the waiting room praying for a positive beta or a good follicle scan, would have wanted me to…because she would want me to NOT forget. Not forget how awful this very early loss feels. Not forget how far I’ve come over the last six years. Not forget to be grateful every day for what I have and what the future may hold for me and my family…whatever that word means down the road. It’s easy to forget, but not when it is in writing…out there for the world to see.