Saturday, April 21, 2018

Working on happiness

I tried to figure out what specifically was bothering me last week. I've been really meh for a while but this past week I just couldn't stop crying. Wednesday was the peak and the worst of it. Slowly I've been crawling out of it but in the meantime I made a list of triggers to see if there was anything specific I need to address. I don't think it was any one particular piece but rather the combination of all of them that made it a difficult week:
  • It's been a month since the miscarriage and my period was expected. Hormones everywhere.
  • Being in the L&D ward for a family visit
  • Seeing Mother's Day ads starting on fb
  • A friend my age had her second baby earlier this year. This week her husband went to get a vasectomy. They're done and not shy about telling people.
  • Being told it's not a good time to hold the baby. I get it, I really do. But to my overly-sensitive self at the time it felt like a slap in the face as a reminder that it's not my baby and that I don't have one to just hold and snuggle whenever I feel like it.
  • Being frustrated at having to wait for results for
    • DNA frag test
    • Endocrinology lab blood work 
    • Pap smear 
    • Handyman estimate
  • Losing patience at having to wait for specialist until fall. Feeling like we're stuck.
  • Harping on old clinic's negligence at not doing their job better and wasting all that money. Getting an unexpected bill from them for multiple hundreds of dollars didn't help. 
Overall I know I'm incredibly blessed and I try not to take anything for granted. I feel like I have a choice: either fall into a deep depression and dwell on the things I don't have, or look around at the blessings and use them as strength to get through this incredibly difficult chapter. My depression would be justified and I could just pretend everything is fine and tell people I'm fine and no one would question it. It's not a way I want to live though, as much as it seems to be the easier option. As hard as it is I want to try to rise above this challenge and continue to live and enjoy my life as we work through this stage. 

How?  It's not one big decision or gesture. I think the way to do it is to make a conscious effort at pro-happiness choices as they come up. Say yes to things. Try new stuff. Buy a treat. Take time to be silent and listen around you. Plan something to look forward to. Help someone. Stretch. I'm sure I can google more stuff if I run out of ideas. It's a mitzvah to be b'simcha and I now understand how much of an effort that is when you're not in the mood. I can't guarantee it will work but if it's up to me I've made the decision that I'd rather invest my time there than in depression. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yom HaAtzmaut 2018

It's been a rough few days for me emotionally. Yesterday I got to work over an hour late because I spent the morning crying in bed. I don't know why specifically; I just couldn't make the tears stop. At work I kept tearing up but I hid it well enough and no one noticed. At one point I texted a friend with a picture of my face asking if it's still puffy. I have a hard time telling the difference these days; seems like it's always post-cry puffy.

Today is Israel's Independence Day. While I love the holiday I feel like the celebrations are all geared toward families with kids - carnivals, face painting, moonbounces, cotton candy, etc. We skipped the community party last night -- I just couldn't handle smiling to everyone I know while crumbling on the inside -- but I don't want to be sad so today I'm gonna fake it. Maybe if I act happy it will seep in. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

L&D ward

My new niece was born this week and when I went to visit her mom in the L&D ward it felt surreal. Am I really back here as a visitor again? Is this just my life - "bridesmaid-ing" the L&D but never going to be here as a patient? 

It was a quick visit. The baby was literally born hours prior and I didn't want to overstay; I came in for a quick hug and dropping off food and stuff. In fact they were in with a nurse when I first knocked and I said I could just leave the bag and see them another day. They yelled through the door, "No hold on we wanna see you!" Ended up waiting in the hallway for 20 minutes and doing my best not to cry watching the quiet hustle and bustle of the ward.

Today is Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, remembering the military personnel who lost their lives while in active duty protecting the State of Israel. The stories of young soldiers dying and leaving behind their families break my heart. 

I know it's not about this today but I can't help remember my own little soldiers who never made it. It's been a tough few days and I'm having a tough time keeping the tears away. When I feel like this it seems like there just aren't enough tissues in the world. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Plot thickens

So in addition to the varicocele, blood work indicated low testosterone. At this point I might be too numb to be shocked. Actually it's that if I think about it too much I get livid so I try not to. I don't know if the two issues are related but they are currently both being treated separately.

Mushroom shipper
DNA fragmentation study kit is on its way back to the lab via FedEx. The mushroom shipper was unexpected: 3 feet tall weighing in at over 25 lbs and really ugly. It looks like a port-a-potty. There's a canister inside and a lot of packaging for a tiny little vial. Once the results are back we can schedule the procedure for the varicocele. I'm worried about it -- it's still surgery -- and I want it behind us. There's no vindication that it's "his turn" or whatever. His pain is my pain and I hate to think that my husband will be uncomfortable.


I keep saying how it's mind boggling that our doctor never took a broader view of our situation in all the years of treatment under his care. I know we didn't originally come in for infertility, but after multiple failed transfers including several miscarriages he should have done more. I know I can't be annoyed at us -- what did we know?? -- but I can't help be upset and I have nowhere to channel that frustration. I'm upset that our RE cared so little after every loss that he didn't even bother testing anything additional. I'm upset that even when we did ask questions at our wtf appointments it never came up to test for male issues. I'm upset that we didn't know enough to ask about specifics. This is literally his job and he totally dropped the ball. We didn't know to ask more, to push more, to explore more. We didn't even know enough to Google.

I don't know if we have enough for a case to sue. Even if we can prove negligence, litigation will probably cost as much as whatever we sue for damages. We don't even know if these are the issues that keep causing the miscarriages, but they are definitely issues that should have been discovered during the course of our treatment. When we first started treatment, he was tested for regular things like volume and motility, etc. How is testosterone level not checked as part of the standard pre-IVF checklist? Instead of doing this simple test, they just kept telling us that there's nothing else to test for, to "just keep transferring," and harping on my weight.  I feel like we suffered for nothing and that there are no consequences for everything they put us through. I'm sad to think about all the people that have been hurt and may still get hurt because of this doctor and this clinic.


For all we know there's still some other mystery to uncover in addition to all this. For the time being, we're taking it one day at a time and dealing with things as they come.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Impatience and fear

I'm working hard on trying to curb my impatience. I know that we can't do anything for a few months but in the meantime things we can do are taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

In my efficient-craving mindset, it sometimes boggles my mind how people aren't more effective with their time. Why don't they think three steps ahead and make better choices? Knowing what I know now, I could have taken more efficient steps to cut out some of the wait. A lot of it was beyond my control and all told it's only been two weeks since we saw the urologist.

I'm currently annoyed at how long we have to wait between each step.
Step 1: Initial consultation
Step 2: Ultrasound + blood work
Step 3: DNA fragmentation study
Step 4: Schedule surgery
Step 5: Surgery
Step 6: Wait 72 days after surgery before IVF

The clock for 72 days starts day of surgery, but there are so many steps first, and there's a wait time between each. We can't even schedule the surgery until results come back from steps 2 and 3. We did step 2; now we're waiting for step 3 which includes a 5 day wait time to get the kit and then another five days once its returned for results to be sent to the doctor. So far we're 14 days in since step 1.

We're not doing a transfer until we see the RPL specialist anyway so I'm impatient to hurry things up but for what? I keep calling that office for cancellations. So far nothing. They said they're now scheduling for November and apparently someone else is also calling often for cancellations. I'll keep at it but I've lost the optimism I had when I first scheduled that we'd for sure get in sooner.

I oscillate between wondering if these steps will help us or if we're just setting ourselves up for more disappointment. It's impossible to know unless we try, but it will take such a huge mental effort to get over the hurdle of risking another miscarriage in order to try again.

According to an article I read online, I think by Dr. Sher though I can't remember exactly, the probability of miscarriage goes up with every failure. Obviously it's not that earlier losses cause the current loss, but the fact that if there was an issue that caused the loss, it will likely keep being an issue until it's addressed. What if the issues are never addressed? What if they can't find the issue?

Varicocele seems to be only a piece of the puzzle but I don't think it's the only cause of the issues. For one thing, we were able to get normal embryos. Whether or not they were truly normal we'll never know, but I did get pregnant four times. And four times the baby mysteriously self-aborted. Each time it was a little further along in the pregnancy, leading to false hope and making each loss worse than the last. For another thing, it seems to be that people can and do get pregnant even with a varicocele and that it's sometimes only discovered by coincidence.

So there's something causing the miscarriage. It might be something as simple as adding baby aspirin to our protocol. It might not. I don't know. It feels like as long as we can keep trying there's still hope. I'm scared of trying because I'm scared of failing. I'm scared of being told there's nothing else to try. I'm scared of going through another loss. I'm scared of being told we have to come to terms that this may never happen for us and they can't even tell us why.

I can try to get myself pumped up even temporarily and I've been doing a few things to try to get in a better mood. A lot of it involves retail therapy. I got new sneakers which I hope to put to good use and take advantage of the nicer weather. I got highlights in my hair and paid a few bucks to the dentist for some bleaching trays. I considered therapy but if it's anything like the therapist I saw last year it wasn't helpful.

It may just take time. Time and distance from that whole thing. It was barely a month ago that it all happened. It's still incredibly fresh and traumatizing. I don't know if I'll be able to feel moisture between my legs and not immediately assume it's blood. Sometimes my mind goes back to that evening and I think about the events that happened. I think about a few minutes prior to when I discovered the gush and how happy go lucky I felt, how careless and content, how clueless and naive about what was about to happen. I just get so sad thinking about it. I don't avoid thinking about it. I embrace the thoughts and the discomfort and the pain they bring. This isn't something one just gets over; you have to go through it and hopefully come out the other side a little stronger and a little tougher.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Yom HaShoa

It's barely been a month since our loss but today I took a moment outside my personal grief to reflect upon the 6 million Jews who died in the holocaust.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day we remember the millions of  Jews who were tortured and killed in the holocaust. It's our responsibility to honor those who lost their lives and to stand strong against antisemitism for our future. Remembering them becomes even more important as the survivors age and die out, leaving first-hand stories a thing of the past replaced by shadows of memories captured on digital media.

It's hard to explain the holocaust and religion. I believe there is a God and that he has a plan but I don't pretend to understand why terrible things happen. Today we remember the souls that were murdered simply because they were Jewish. 




Monday, April 9, 2018

Routine

Now that the holiday is over we're back to routine. In so many ways, it's such a blessing. You know what to expect, you know what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to be. There's something special about not having to think about those things every day. So many people came back to work saying that spring break was nice, but they were ready to come back. I didn't feel ready. I could have used another week.

Thankfully my niece is out of the hospital. My sister is probably traumatized for life. It was terrifying for us, as family members, seeing the baby so sick. I can only imagine how hard it was for the baby's mom. Hopefully she'll continue to recover and this will simply become a terrible memory in the past.

In doctor news, I've sent updated records to our new RE. I've also called the out of town specialist to see if they have any cancellations before our September appointment and they don't. I'll keep trying. I called my regular obgyn for a yearly and got on the schedule for next week (called her a bunch of times also and got the appointment bumped up from mid-May). Tomorrow is the appointment for my husband's ultrasound. I called the surgery scheduler and left a message there.

There's a lot going on. On one hand it's annoying we have to do all these things before we can move forward. On the other hand it's something to do to feel like we're somewhat in control. At least we're "fixing" and "addressing" things that may or may not be the issue that fixes everything. I don't know.

I'm still in and out of the blues. Externally I'm numb. I've cried a few times the past week but it was mainly in fear for my niece's welfare. She may not be my baby biologically, but she's still the family baby.

Even my crying has lost some of its energy. It's more like my eyes well up and spill over. I get a tissue to wipe my eyes and blow my nose and it's over. It's not like the heaving sobs of before when things were still fresh. Either I'm coming to terms with the sucky reality or I've kind of given in and given up, accepting that this is just my life. At least for now. 

Routine helps mask the should-haves as we pass the milestones. For example, cleaning up from the holiday and getting ready for the work week thinly veiled the fact that if the pregnancy had stuck I'd have been 9 weeks yesterday.

Cleaning, laundry, groceries, work.... all normal things that normal people do on normal days. Going through the motions helps me feel like I'm back in the normal world. Before all this started. Before we knew what would happen. Before our hearts were shattered again and again.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pesach 2018

I can't recall a time I was less looking forward to a holiday as much as this one. That's saying something because it's usually one of my favorites. I wasn't in the headspace and didn't want to participate in general life, let alone prepare a massive holiday. It's the holiday dedicated to teaching your children. For people who don't have children, it's a difficult time. I was spaced out and distracted most of last week. I forgot basic stuff off my shopping lists such as black pepper, potato starch, and plastic cutlery. The loss and failure is still fresh and I haven't climbed out yet.  Over the days of yom tov, families were walking in the beautiful weather with strollers to and from shul and meals gathering together with family and friends for the holiday festivities. It strikes a sensitive spot in my heart every time.

The general funk took a backseat as an actual emergency unfolded on erev yom tov. My sister's baby was rushed to the ER with breathing issues. Last year she was born prematurely at 30 weeks. Today she's a feisty one year old but there are lingering issues from her early birth, such as premature lungs. What started as a cold developed into pneumonia but it took them two days to figure it out. The seder was a heavy evening. There were enough non-religious people checking their phones for updates to give us news of what was happening. At one point the baby was transferred via ambulance to another hospital for their specialized PICU. There was nothing we could do to help and somehow we got through several steps of the seder before the update came that they were able to stabilize her breathing. We all let out the breath of air we didn't realize we were holding. Over the next few days we walked to each other's houses to get and transfer the latest updates.

It's been touch and go. She's improving but not out of the woods. She's in isolation until they can stabilize her breathing without oxygen support. The rest of us want to help but there's not much we can do. We're providing food and rides to baby's exhausted parents and trying to keep our incessant need for updates under control.

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