19; Just You and Me, Babe

It’s weird going back and reading my last post. Underneath all my snark, most people might not see a real ray of hope, but God, was I hopeful. Not as hopeful as the first time I got pregnant, because after so much heartache, how can I really be? Up until now, over the last almost three years, every tiny victory along this journey has been directly followed by unimaginable heartache either in the form of a negative pregnancy test or a miscarriage or, even worse, a miscarriage followed by a surgery in which I had to sign a line reading “Mother” even though I might never actually become a mother. It’s like the universe is playing a cruel joke, daring me to be hopeful — giving me juuust a little more rope than last time with which to keep my head above water before reminding me that one chop means just as far of a drop down regardless of how much rope is dangling below me.

Such was the case last month, when Josh and I went in on June 13 for our second ultrasound appointment at 6 weeks, 6 days gestation. My doctor saw a bit of a bigger mass, but still nothing resembling a fetus, and definitely no heartbeat. He rooted around in there for a while too. The me from two summers ago probably would’ve been uncomfortable, but two years into my relationship with this doctor and his staff and I barely flinch during these ultrasounds, blood tests, etc. It’s truly a thousand times more uncomfortable to sit in the cold exam room, bottomless, and listen to the same woman on the TV screen explaining how IUI and IVF work in her maddeningly calm voice, reading from a script I can recite in my sleep by now. The worst is having to assure the staff when we experience a negative test, or a loss. At this point, Josh and I are so numb we feel like we are the ones patting their arms.

My doctor told us to remain cautiously optimistic, but Josh and I knew. We probably knew after the first ultrasound, truth be told, because the mass looked nothing like the perfect little round yolk sac I’ve seen in countless ultrasound photos on Glow (just search “5 week 5 day ultrasound” and a bevy of options pop up — on Google too). After that appointment, we did remain hopeful, but we stopped making plans and resigned ourselves to just be patient for the next eight days. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

But then June 20 came and the doctor had to look us in the eye and tell us there was no heartbeat and the pregnancy wasn’t viable. Again. Which was what we knew going in, but still, a sliver of hope remained (even though our biggest hope was a yes or no answer, nothing morally gray — no “maybe”s.) My doctor told me he had been hopeful, and my biggest (silent) question was, and still is, “How?”

We said the only thing you can say when the last thing you want to do is break down in front of your doctor and his new assistant: “It’s OK!” And of course, it’s not. Nothing about this bullshit is OK, but Josh and I are both put-on-a-brave-face-and-scream-together-later kind of people, which is not something I would change for the world but can be difficult. It was extremely difficult last year. We barely made it to the car before sobbing incoherently, wiping our faces as best we could before going into Publix for brie, wine, and Reese’s Easter eggs.

This time was different, though. We got my prescription for misoprostol, the miscarriage pill that didn’t work for me last time (more on that in a bit). We immediately agreed we would be getting margaritas at our favorite Mexican place down the road. And then we stepped out in the pouring-ass rain that had been only slightly less insane when we left our previous appointment, and we went and we had margaritas, tortilla chips, and guacamole for dinner while a tornado watch was in effect.

Thank GOD this was strong — as was its successor, a (smaller) mango variety.

That Saturday, June 22, I took the misoprostol, and I swear to God the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse exited my body that night. Every time I thought it was over, from about 8 p.m. until 1 a.m., it was not over. It was not truly over until about 2 a.m., but during that time period, Josh and I re-binge-watched the first season of Stranger Things and ate a huge crab feast that helped put me in better spirits (figuratively) and wine that help put me in better spirits (literally).

Not pictured: Hazelnut M&Ms (BOGO, thanks Publix!), more wine, and a glitchy heating pad.

The next morning, we slept in and met Josh’s brother Jeremy and his wife Jess and some friends for brunch at a place in College Park that, bless them, made the strongest mimosas I’ve ever had. You had to go up to the bar for refills, and I watched this angel pour roughly 2% juice and 98% champagne in my glass. I told her she must’ve known how much I needed it. She winked and said, “I got you, girl.” Indeed.

So tipsy I didn’t even care that there was no A/C. Probably why they make the drinks strong.

I still haven’t really cried about it. I’ve had a few moments where I’ve felt angry and I’ve come to a pretty serious realization about my “now” vs. “then” persona and self regard which I am realizing as this goes on is too long to include in this post, but I will in the next. I honestly don’t think the big cry is coming. I think it was the other day when I sobbed to Josh about how infertility really feels, and that’s the analogy I’ll go into in the next post. Josh told me I “should write a short story” about it, which…we’ll see how it looks in blog form first.

The great news is that when I went in for a follow-up last Monday, June 24, the doctor gave me the all clear — meaning it looks like, fingers crossed, the misoprostol did its job this time. He said my lining was still very thick, but then starting the next day I got the period from hell that is just now finishing up, which I hope means things are back on track or will be soon. I’m still getting positive pregnancy tests, but I think that’s typical. I’m going to test every few days with the cheap strips just to make sure the line is getting lighter. It’s a strange feeling to hope for that when I would normally hope for the opposite. But then again, nothing about this has been normal.

As for next steps, the doctor wants us to each take a series of blood tests related to recurrent miscarriage since this is our second, to check if we have chromosomal abnormalities in our own bodies that might be affecting the embryos (Josh) or the ability to carry a baby (me). He also does want to do a biopsy on my uterine lining, in September, to check for inflammation that could be hindering fetal development. We’ll be doing our next transfer in October.

Oh, and guess what? He wants us to retroactively PGS test the embryos for chromsomal abnormalities — a procedure I wanted done in the first place and was convinced not to do, and now costs a $4,000 lab fee as opposed to a $1,500 one. He told us science is always changing, which is fair, but there is a study that came out between February and now that had him pushing for it considering our situation. It addresses the reason we made the decision we did — the fact that there was conflicting evidence about whether the cells the embryologist pluck out to test from the outer layer of the embryo, which becomes the placenta, accurately reflect the normality of the inner portion, which becomes the fetus. We were terrified of throwing out embryos that could actually be normal, or abnormal but self-correct in the womb. But this new study took hundreds of discarded embryos, tested the inner portions, and found that the same abnormalities were reflected almost 100% of the time.

I get it. Things change. But here’s the thing.

The very nice yet firm email I sent, and my doctor’s very polite response.

Do I know whether this means he’s going to discount the entire $2,500? I don’t. But we’re going to push for it because it’s the least they can do. Although they did send us a sympathy card, which was very sweet.

For now, I’m trying to focus on the positives of not being pregnant, aside from being able to again imbibe alcohol, which I’m actually trying to limit. I am committed to losing weight again. I weighed in at 152 lbs. this past Saturday, and I’m aiming to be back around 130 by the time of our next transfer in mid-October. I’ll be able to go to Halloween Horror Nights, which I look forward to every year. We have more time to save money for my maternity leave. I don’t need surgery.

I can eat salads again and am not craving carbs 24/7, though it’s still not great. I can run. I don’t need a nap every afternoon. I have control of my body again, and amid all of the emotional upheaval…I am thankful for that.