13; Here We Go Again on Our Own

I’m going to apologize to the blog gods in advance on this one because I’ve had too many mimosas (champagne + Welch’s mango) and I can’t apologize to readers because this is going to be a private entry like my last one.

HI. It’s been over two months since my last post. When we last left our heroes, they were on a cloud of positivity and hopefulness and a few days later, they were smacked back down to reality with a big fat fucking negative pregnancy test, fun! So here we are again, waiting until our next step.

The good news is we only have to wait a few more weeks. Josh and I decided that if our fresh transfer didn’t take, we’d wait three months to do the first frozen one. I told myself I’d use those three months to get healthier and lose some weight and get myself in the right headspace. I think I did the latter thing? But I didn’t lose weight. In fact, I gained a few pounds, so that’s fun. Probably from alcohol. (Not really.) As soon as Josh’s brother and sister-in-law head home tomorrow, I’m going to buckle down for these last couple weeks leading up to our transfer because damn, all my clothes are already tight and I’m not even pregnant.

Getting a negative test really sucked. I felt the cramping and everything that made me feel like maybe that was it, and now I’m kicking myself a little for not doing the PGS testing on the embryos. Not REALLY because again, so much debate surrounding it, but I can’t help feeling like “what if.” Also, we learned that thawing and testing the frozen embryos will cost $6,000 so LOL no.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but if the next transfer doesn’t take, my doctor wants to do an ERA test. Which is basically a super painful, $3,000 ordeal where he goes in and scrapes a bit of my uterine lining to biopsy it and see if they’re transferring at the exact right time or if they need to tweak by a few hours or whatever. He is suggesting this instead of our suggestion of transferring two embryos for a third cycle, and I’m just like…IDK. There are debates about that test too and in case you missed what I said earlier, it’s three thousand effing dollars. I’m trying not to think about crossing that bridge unless I come to it but at this point, I just assume the non-baby bridges are the ones that are going to come. Which I know is terrible, but I’m just…tired.

I’m tired to the point where I’ve started duping myself into thinking I don’t actually want a kid, despite being giddy every time I see/hold a baby. I’ve started doing that thing a lot of us do when we’re younger and side-eyeing people with kids like they have no idea what the fuck they’re doing in life and are in for a world of pain and just bending to societal expectations, and trying to convince myself that I, somehow, got the long end of the stick here. I’m feeling like how Robin felt in that episode of How I Met Your Mother when she found out she can’t have kids and even though she had decided she didn’t WANT kids, it’s different when the universe makes that decision for you. When it’s no longer your decision, it castrates you a bit. And how I’ve been dealing with that is silently judging others for having kids and “ruining their lives” (obviously a complete bunch of BS). And the aforementioned mimosas.

The truth is Josh and I are at a crossroads in life where we don’t fit in with either side of people our age — the side who have kids (most of our friends our age) and the side that doesn’t want them but still has the option. And that is a hard place to be in. We don’t fit in with the kid people and we’re pretending to fit in with the non-kid people, but the truth is we are neither of those. And maybe we’re just trying to force ourselves into a box too hard, but all that has done is alienate us from everyone and now I’m not even sure how we’re supposed to get back. We’ve both been tempted to just start over elsewhere and with new friends (sad, huh?) but none of that will erase the fact that we want children. All it will do is make us friendless and as much as we have gotten accustomed to retreating into the shadows, the support we have gotten over these past couple have years has been a big ingredient in keeping us afloat. We might not say it very much, but we are thankful.

Right now, we are keeping ourselves busy with house projects. Josh has redone our floors and put in hardwood laminate both downstairs in our living/dining rooms and in my office, as well as our loft upstairs, and we have people coming to put new carpets in the three bedrooms next Wednesday. I have my baseline ultrasound for the transfer that morning, too, and then we’ll transfer one of our day 6 embryos (a 4AA or the 5AA) sometime between May 8 and May 17, depending on when my lining seems ready. And for now, our focus will be on getting that to stick. And probably doing the laminate on the stairs. And putting up a backsplash in the kitchen, and painting the kitchen cabinets white. Because why not? Distractions, gotta love ’em.

I realize I buried the lede here but today is the one-year anniversary of my D&C, which seems extremely surreal. I feel like it was both yesterday and a complete other lifetime, and that’s a testament to what a roller coaster this has been. It has honestly not felt like a whole year since I did the physical part, but the emotions seem like a whole other phase of this journey. It’s hard to explain.

One perk of my job is that sometimes people tell stories of their own that really resonate with me, and the biggest example of that happened recently when I interviewed Melissa Rauch, of The Big Bang Theory fame. She went through a miscarriage before having her daughter, who’s about a year and a half now, and she told me that when she was going through the hardest parts, she hoped that when she finally became mom that it would make the hard parts (sleepless nights, etc.) a little easier because she would remember how hard she had to fight to get there.

“That was my hope, that it would be one bit of silver lining from that difficult time, and I can absolutely say that is 100 percent true,” she said. “I haven’t taken one moment for granted, and I’m just eternally grateful for every moment — which I know every parent is — but I definitely think that struggle to get there really has just made me super present. I don’t take a second for granted.”

I think about this ALL the time, like I tell the universe in my own way that if I’m allowed to become a parent I won’t complain about the things new parents complain about. And it’s just really nice to hear someone who has been through it and come out the other side say that is how it happened for them.

Anyway. This is getting rambly but my point is that even though I feel alone, I know I’m not. Sometimes it’s just easier to pretend that I am.

3; A Miscarriage and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Yesterday I had brunch with a very dear friend I hadn’t see in years and he shared with me that he and his wonderful wife had a miscarriage over the summer. Not only that, but they had it around the same time in the pregnancy that Josh and I had ours in pretty much the same way and had to get a D&C, just like we did. It was such a gut punch to hear someone I care about so deeply recalling this, not to mention knowing exactly what it feels like. And it sucks. You start questioning everything, specifically what you did wrong (which, most likely, is absolutely nothing because miscarriage is insanely common and despite what you’ve been told, a healthy pregnancy is truly a miracle). Everyone deals with grief differently, but having to take two steps back when you think your life is about to completely change is never easy — and losing a child is something I would never wish on anyone. We were lucky in the sense that it happened so so early in my pregnancy. Even though we’d already started preparing, both mentally and environmentally, I cannot imagine losing a child later in a pregnancy or having a stillborn child.

And the thing is, all of these events are so much more common than people think. They’re just so rarely discussed openly because both men and women are taught throughout their lives that not only is sex shameful, but that one small slip-up during sexual activity can result in an STD or a baby. And while this is extremely true, so much emphasis is put on that idea that both girls and boys are not taught as much about equally important concepts concerning their bodies — the importance of getting seen regularly by a doctor, how the reproductive system works (I have learned so much about my body in the past two years it’s not even funny, and I probably never would’ve if we hadn’t had to seek treatment), how much fertility is affected as you age, practicing physically and mentally safe sex over abstinence, etc. These are such crucial things to start incorporating into health education — and no one should ever feel shame over them. If you are planning to wait until your thirties to start a family, I would highly recommend getting some baseline fertility tests because even though our case may be atypical, that shiz is scary. BE INFORMED. I find it appalling in hindsight how much I’ve had to explain to fellow women about certain parts of this journey and the truth is, if I wasn’t dealing with infertility, I’d be in the same boat. Our educational system has failed us big time.

Anyway, that’s a tangent. My miscarriage never really “happened,” per se. I got pregnant for the first time ever about a year and a half after we first started trying, which was this past February, after our third IUI. We were in shock. I took pregnancy tests every day, twice a day, for at least two weeks because I didn’t believe it.

Not kidding. Labeled and all. Only about 60% of the tests I took. (Note: DPO = Days Past Ovulation. Another fun acronym you learn on the journey toward trying to conceive.)
ALL THE BRANDS. (Bottom brand showed positive the next day.)

We told most of our family and close friends and started buying a few baby items here and there, planning renovations to the house, etc., as a way of prepping for baby and indulging in some of our excitement, but also to quell our fears and misgivings — instincts that, unfortunately, turned out to be not unfounded. We saw the beginning of a little person when I was almost six weeks pregnant, but still could not quite feel that connection. And when I was about seven and a half weeks pregnant, there was no heartbeat or growth.

The most surprising part of this was that neither of us felt taken aback. We were like, “Oh. Well…yeah.” At that point, any positive news was something unexpected, sadly, so as difficult as it was to deal with the aftermath of losing a baby (and it WAS difficult, but thankfully involved lots of wine, sushi, caffeine, Brie, and other things pregnant ladies are supposed to steer clear from, plus lots of tears), we were more mentally prepared than we realized we were.

Not that it was easy. I have never seen Josh in so much pain, and I hope I never have to again. I know I will, because life is inclusive of those moments however much we wish it wasn’t, but seeing the person you love most in the entire world feel that kind of pain and not being able to do anything about it is such a horrible thing. Also, around that time, we also knew approximately 678435 people who were pregnant. I gained 10 lbs. in a month from depression eating. It wasn’t a good spring/early summer, guys.

First stop: pharmacy. Next stop: wine
The best, most tear-soaked meal of our lives. (At least it happened around Easter. No lie, I cleaned out those Reese’s eggs from Publix over the next few weeks after this photo was taken.)

Not only did I opt to induce miscarriage by taking medication, but I tried that route about six times (each a little less painful than the previous attempt) — meaning I wasn’t able to miscarry fully on my own despite the repeated attempts and writhing on my bathroom floor in pain, so I had to get the D&C. My doctor told me he had only seen the medication not work for someone one other time ever. LUCKY ME! Fortunately, the D&C procedure itself went as smoothly as it possibly could’ve. We are very thankful for that, and that my mom flew in for emotional support. It was so much easier having her here with us. My cycles also went back to normal like clockwork, thank God. They are actually even better/more normal than they were before.

The most difficult part of the D&C wasn’t the surgery itself (or even the bill, which added up to about as much as an IUI cycle), but the moment I had to sign a consent form about what to do with the tissue and I did a double-take at the “Mother” signature line, thinking it meant my mom because up until that moment, it always had — and she was right next to me at the time, so I assumed it was for a witness signature or something.

When I realized it meant me, it felt real in a way it hadn’t up until that point, and I don’t wish that feeling on anyone. It was the first time I had ever been called a mother by someone I didn’t know, or signed anything that referred to me that way, and thank God I went under anesthesia shortly after that because I almost lost it. It was like a punch in the throat and the moment I felt like I was truly saying goodbye.

Right before the surgery. Hair shine on point. Not pictured: comfy af socks.
Don’t know what I would do without these two people.

Another thing I shared with my friend today is that I am still grappling with feeling like this is the universe demanding payment for something, like it’s Rumpelstiltskin taking my firstborn child from me because of something I didn’t even realize I was gambling for or did wrong. According to my own internal dialogue, it could be a lot: breaking off my engagement eight years ago and leaving my fiancé for his best friend, waiting until my thirties to have children, getting annoyed at crying kids in public, not living in the same state as my aging parents. Take your pick. Payment? For the amazing 2015-2016 Josh and I had. We both got great jobs (mine literally at my dream company), bought a house, went to Europe. So my brain was like, something is going to be a payment here. (Yes, I’m talking to my therapist about this.)

My friend today was one of the first people I’ve told this to who hasn’t shot it down cold. He of course said it wasn’t true — which is what I would tell anyone else who wasn’t me, to be fair — but he also said he understood why I’d feel that way and that it wasn’t unreasonable or irrational to feel it. Oddly, that made me feel kind of empowered about it. These are feelings I continue to work through and I am a lot better about it now than I was a year ago. To be honest, Josh and I both still grapple with the way we got together, but not nearly as much as we used to. It creeps in when we’re both feeling especially insecure and has shown its face in a very ugly way throughout this infertility journey, during the times when we both feel defeated and the “when” is an “if.” It’s still a “when” for us at this point and we’re trying to be optimistic, but that ebbs and flows and I think that’s probably OK.

Baby Haupt at just under six weeks. The most we ever saw of our little bean.

I did get to spend my birthday at Walt Disney World when I was still pregnant, which was so fun. Josh bought me a bottle of non-alcoholic wine for the AirBnB and a little silly bell to ring when I want a kiss, and a coffee mug that had the name we’d picked out if our baby was a girl (spelled differently, but still). We had felt it was a boy before that, but that day we changed our minds because we took it as a sign that the gift shop had our girl name but not our boy one.

We had fun deciding what would be baby Haupt’s first ride, and made a video on Dumbo where we talked to the baby about how much we were excited to take her to WDW one day. We told our waiter at dinner that we were expecting our first child and he was so excited for us and took great care of us. He even tracked down non-alcoholic wine for me. It was probably my best birthday to date.

Baby Haupt’s first Disney ride
Me with our amazing waiter at Be Our Guest restaurant. Not the best pic but F it. Flash is not my friend.

We never did find out the sex of the baby for sure because we opted not to have the D&C tissue tested since most of it had cleared out from the meds before I went in for the procedure, but my mom thinks it was a girl too.

We mutually decided to call her Genevieve (my mom’s idea), because that was what my mom had wanted to name me initially.

Hat we bought for Baby Haupt before we found out she wasn’t growing.

We cried for Genevieve a lot. We still do sometimes, but not nearly as often. She will always be our first baby and she will always be any future babies’ (and Penny’s!) big sister.