Saturday, August 25, 2012

Three Strikes & You're Out (Our Struggles Pregnancy)

As I write this, I am questioning whether I should or not.  I'm sure I will doubt myself indefinitely as to whether this is just way too much over-sharing, but I feel that too many people don't share their pains and struggles. Yes, it is long, but the only thing I ask is that you read the whole thing.  This isn't the type of post that I can split up into multiple posts.

So, with that being said, here is the shortest version I can come up with for our struggles with infertility and pregnancy.  Let me warn you that this isn't a fairy tail and it doesn't have a happy ending.  If that's what you were looking for, you should probably look elsewhere.

Our journey into becoming parents a second time started over two years ago.  Our lives were finally going in a different direction and things were a bit settled.  Kasey was the perfect age for a sibling and we just knew it was the right time.  Then, after trying for a year, there was nothing.  It was really frustrating for us because we got pregnant so easily with Kasey.  Then, much to our relief, in the beginning of fall last year, we found out that we were finally pregnant.

On October 11, 2011, I woke up and just knew that something wasn't right.  As it turns out, I was right because by the time I got to the doctor, I was in the middle of a full blown miscarriage.  Without getting into gory details, we just went home and cried.  I stayed home from work for a few days and then I tried to get back to my normal life.  I returned to work to find out that the news had traveled like wildfire.  While I never cry at work, that was enough to set me over the edge.  I did manage to make it through the day, but it wasn't easy.

So, Keith and I had already decided that we'd try again since the doctor didn't see any reason why we couldn't.  In early 2012, I went to the doctor's for a normal checkup.  I explained everything that was going on with my charting and other things and she decided to start me on fertility drugs, just to try to get things somewhat normalized.  We were both relieved that we had a possible solution.

In February 2012, we were blessed with another happy surprise.  I was pregnant again and without the fertility drugs! Of course, we were skeptical after all of the issues with the previous pregnancy.  Apparently, this time our skepticism was spot on as we lost this pregnancy on February 23, 2012.  Luckily, we were on vacation, so I could curl up and cry as much as I wanted to without worrying about an audience.

Once Spring finally rolled around, collectively, we decided to get some more testing done and to move to the next step in fertility treatments.  All of our tests came back fine and they diagnosed us with "unexplained infertility".  After all of the poking and prodding, we decided to try IUI.  I will not get into those lovely details because you can Google them if you really want to know.

Our first round of IUI looked promising as I had at least two mature eggs when they triggered me (in which I had to give myself a shot with a huge needle in my thigh).  In early July,  I was told to start taking home pregnancy tests and, much to our surprise, one came back positive!  I quickly called the doctor and they started having my blood drawn every two days to make sure my HCG was doubling appropriately.  Luckily, it was more than doubling!  I went in for a normal ultrasound to check to see that I ovulated and they said I had two eggs, but that was all they could tell at that point if they would take.

I was due to go back the day before my vacation for another ultrasound just to check that the little miracle was growing the way it was supposed to.  This was when the rug was completely pulled out from under us.  I went over to Fletcher Allen all by myself as this was only supposed to be quick and they didn't think they would see much.  So, I went into this in a wonderful mood.  I felt miserable and my HCG was doubling.  I was finally pregnant!

I had two nurses and sonographer and they were chatty as usual and we were talking about my vacation at the beginning of the sonogram.  Then, I heard the question I dreaded hearing, "Do you have any pain?" and the room got quiet.  I couldn't really see the screen, but I heard the sonographer quietly whisper to the nurse.  I guess you can say that I can quickly clear a room.  They all left and told me to stay where I was.  I knew something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what.  In a couple minutes (that felt like hours), they all came back and told me that I wasn't going anywhere and that I had an ectopic pregnancy.  They asked me if I had any questions and I grumpily told them no.  They let me get changed before the doctor came in and I just sat there waiting completely shell-shocked.

So, in walks the doctor and she just dives into what my options are to end this.  I can either have surgery where I may lose my tube (and further complicate my already complicated fertility) or I can have Methotrexate, which is a form of chemotherapy.  I opted for the chemo because they said it was very effective and it would save my tube.  They told me that I had to delay my vacation and I had to get blood work done twice while I was gone.  If I had any of a litany of symptoms, I had to go to the hospital right away because my tube could very well be rupturing.

At this point, I am so overwhelmed and I haven't even had a chance to call Keith yet.  I call him, blubbering uncontrollably into the phone, and he thought I was calling to tell him it was twins.  I managed to get enough out for him to somewhat understand what was going on and that it wasn't the happy ending we were looking for.  Once the nurse came up from the lab with my shots, she donned her hazmat suit and quickly gave me my injections.  They gave me a one page flier and told me to go home and to not go back to work until after vacation.

Once I got in the car, I just sat there and cried until I had a headache and I was running out of tears.  I called Keith to tell him that I was on my way home, but that I needed to stop and get a giant sunhat and new sunglasses.  When I finally walked through the door, we both agreed to get the hell out of the house, so we went out to dinner before we went to the movies (we had already bought our tickets to see Batman).

All throughout vacation, I was pretty numb.  Nobody said anything stupid like, "When are you having more kids?" or "Why aren't you drinking?", which was a relief.  To say I physically felt miserable is a huge understatement.  I kept up with the obligatory texting with my doctor every other day and I made the 30 mile trek to the hospital twice to get my blood work done.  On Friday of that week, my doctor sent me a text that my numbers were finally going down and they were really happy about the number.  So, I didn't have to get blood drawn for a whole week!

Once I got back, I went into work and got on with my life as much as I could.  I went into Fletcher Allen at 7:00 when the lab opened to get my blood drawn and I headed into work.  Around noon, my phone rang and it was my nurse.  She said my number had gone up and I had to come in right away.  So, I hopped in the car and drove to Burlington for the second time that day.  After another ultrasound, I was able to see that it had grown and still looked as perfect as ever.  I was scared they were going to tell me that I needed surgery, but they told me I just needed to do the chemo again.  So, I called work again and told them that I wasn't coming back.  Yet again, I went through the drama and was sent home.  I was firmly told to be very careful because my HCG was so high and they were really worried about me rupturing.  I went out to the car and cried again.  I called Keith to fill him in and rushed home to pick Kasey up from the sitters.

The next Monday morning, I had to get blood work done at 7:00 again.  When my nurse called again, I told her that I had some changes over the weekend and I wasn't sure if I should be worried.  Once she talked to the doctor, I, yet again, had to rush down there for an emergency sonogram.  Luckily, I hadn't ruptured and they were able to see that the medication seemed to be working.  I was sent home and reminded to get my blood work done on Thursday.  I told them that I was going to wait for the results to come back because they kept asking me to come back down and it costs $20 for each trip.

Thursday morning rolled around and I got my blood work done and went up to the clinic to wait.  Of course the lab took a long time to process it this time, but at least it gave me a chance to speak to the nurse about my pain.  Being that I could only take Tylenol and Tums, my pain had finally reached a point where Tylenol just wouldn't cut it.  I ended up seeing the doctor and they took my blood pressure and pulse three times just to verify that it really was high all three times.  I told them how weird that was because I usually have abnormally low blood pressure.  Well, they decided to prescribe me 10 Vicodin to get me through the worst of it.  Unfortunately, I had to get more blood drawn because they wanted to check my white blood cell count, so I dropped off my prescription on my way back downstairs.

Once that was done, I was sent on my way into work. I had left early the day before because of the pain, so when I got there, I told my supervisor what had happened.  I told her that I had gotten pain killers, so I would feel better in about an hour.  So, I took my one measly pill and waited for it to kick in.  Then, about an hour later, I started to get really hot and dizzy.  It was so bad that I laid down on my desk and asked my coworkers to call Keith to have him come get me.  That's about all that I remember other than getting up and being drenched.  You can imagine my frustration when I Googled Vicodin and realized that the number one side affect is that it can cause abnormally low blood pressure.  This was nowhere on the papers the pharmacy gave me and my doctor didn't even mention that when I told her that I already had abnormally low blood pressure.  So, there went the Vicodin (right back to the doctor).

For the next week, I suffered through a lot of pain and agony.  When Thursday morning rolled around, I went in to get my blood drawn and I was very anxious to hear the results.  When they finally called, they told me it had gone down by 90% and that I still needed to go back again in a week.  So, last Thursday I went in and my number went down another 90%.  They are fairly confident that next Thursday will be the last blood draw I will have to do for this whole issue.

I'm looking forward to being able to pick up my kid again, exercise, eat salads, drink and just have a life again.  I think it is fair to say that Keith and I are done for the foreseeable future.  With everything we have gone through in the last year or so added to my increased risk for another ectopic and our unexplained infertility, it is in our best interests to just enjoy the life we have with our amazing son.  Perhaps this is the universe's way of telling us not to mess with perfection.

So, many people are quite insensitive and a bit foolish (in my opinion).  So here's some advice for the world:
  1. Don't assume that everything always has a happy ending.  On of my phlebotomists told me that, while I hate getting blood drawn, at least it was for a good cause.  I quickly pointed out that I had lost the pregnancy, so it really isn't a good thing.
  2. Don't tell everyone you're pregnant the second after you pee on a home pregnancy test.  I know this is a hard concept for people to grasp that have either not been pregnant or have had perfect pregnancies, but bad things can and do happen all the time.  Do you really want to have to go out there and tell everyone that you lost the baby?  Humor me, you don't.
  3. Don't ask people when they are having children or another child.  Did it ever occur to you that it might actually break the other person's heart because they realize that they can't have children?  I can tell you first hand, that I have had this asked on multiple occasions and I have actually started to become quite sarcastic in my responses.
  4. Don't complain incessantly about your children  Yes, I know kids can drive you crazy, but you really need to realize just what a gift they are.  When they drive you crazy, try to imagine your life without them.  You can't, can you?
With that, my tirade/story is done.  This chapter of my life will hopefully be closed next Thursday and we can move on as the most amazing family of three that I could ever ask for.  Let's hope the saying of, "Bad luck comes in threes" is true and our bad luck is finally over.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The F Word

This post has been mulling in my head for quite some time.  I’ve had a hard time putting my thoughts in a cohesive manner, so I apologize for the delay.    First of all, this is a post where I admit some of my flaws.  This isn’t particularly easy for me, to I have to do it nonetheless.  So, here goes.

During the last week of school, Keith called me at work to tell me that Kasey got off the bus crying.  Apparently, a 12-year-old on the bus taught him the F word and Kasey repeated it.  The bus monitor heard them and made them sit in separate seats.  Once he got in the house, Keith gave him a good talking to and took away his iPod, video games and TV for four days.  Once I got home, I gave him holy hell, too.  I explained to him that the F word was one of the very worst words you can ever say and that I didn’t want to ever hear about him saying it ever again. 

Now, here’s where I admit that I am one of the worst with swearing.  Everyone says that, when Kasey goes to bed, I turn into Trucker Erika.  While I try to not swear in front of Kasey, I still do sometimes.  Luckily, for the most part, he knows what words are really bad and what words aren’t.  If he isn’t sure, he’ll ask me first if it is a bad word.

The next day, while at the sitter’s, one of the kids there told Kasey’s sitter that he said the F word again, but this time in a different context.  Of course she told me and Kasey immediately started crying.  When we got home, I had no choice but to take away his iPod, video games and TV for three more days and he lost toys altogether for four days. 

So, for four days, all he could do is read, write and color.  I think this “punishment” made all the difference.  Not only has he not said the word again, but he actually did things that challenged him for four days.  Here’s to hoping that we nipped it in the bud (though I doubt it).

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Vow

Now, I am not and will not ever be a movie blogger, but I figured these little blogs can fill in much needed gaps in my blogging.

So, a little while ago, I had two hours of time that magically appeared.  I decided to forgo the obligatory cleaning and watch The Vow instead. 

While I utterly abhor happy endings, I am still a sucker for chick flicks.  With that being said, I completely expected the typical happy ending.  Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, but I had little hope that this would actually be a good movie.

The premise is the typical boy meets girl situation, with the exception that Paige (McAdams) loses all memory of her husband Leo (Tatum) as a result of the car accident.  Now, I am not the type to give away anything in the movie, but I was happy that it didn't have your typical happy ending.  I also enjoy the fact that it was based on a true story.

While it was worthy of one watch, I doubt I'll watch it again.  For all of my fellow chick flick fans, you will probably want to see it once, but I wouldn't rush it to the top of your Netflix queues.