Pregnant Again – A Bittersweet Joy

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Guys, we did it!  I’m pregnant!!!

I apologize for the radio silence over the last couple of months, but we’ve been dealing with A LOT.  I’ve missed you all.  Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

After my last negative pregnancy result, a lot was riding on our third attempt at IUI.  Not only that, but I had moved to Winnipeg (#militarylife) to be with my wife while she learns to fly helicopters (#mywifeisbetterthanyours).  So now I was 778 km away from my fertility clinic.  Yikes.

I got my period like clockwork shortly after my negative result.  I informed the fertility clinic and hoped they could get me an ultrasound in Winnipeg to save me a long drive back to Saskatchewan.  Unfortunately, the fertility clinic in Winnipeg was absolutely no help (not to mention they have a nine month wait list!).  The closest ultrasound they could get me was in Yorkton, SK.

On day 13 of my cycle, I got into my car and drove 5 hours to the bustling metropolis of Yorkton and had my 10 minute ultrasound.  Now, I had a decision to make: head back to Winnipeg, with a chance I may have to be in Saskatoon the next day for the IUI procedure, OR continue on to Saskatoon and hope that my body’s cycle would be as consistent as it was last cycle.  So armed with hours of podcasts, off to Saskatoon I went.

About an hour outside of Saskatoon, the clinic called me with the results of my ultrasound.  I barely breathed as I listened to the results.  The good news was that I had two eggs developing!  Woo hoo!  I had somehow transformed into a fertility goddess!  Practically a medical marvel!  The bad news was that the eggs weren’t quite ready to go, and my IUI was scheduled for three days from then.  Sigh.  After almost 8 hours on the road, I did a big ol’ U-turn and headed back from whence I came.

Aside from driving for 16 hours, the IUI went off without a hitch later that week.  I meditated for 10 minutes right after and relaxed, with my feet in the air, for about an hour in my hotel before heading back home to Winnipeg.

I just kept thinking, “third times a charm”.  C’mon body, you got this.  And, if I had two eggs ready to go, how could this not be my chance?

The two week wait, seemed better than the other ones.  It could have been the acupuncture, meditation or maybe just that I was used to the anxiety and knew that increasing stress levels never really helped much.  My wife’s tendency to not worry so much about things you have no control over seems to be wearing off on me.  I was also very unemployed after our recent move, so I was able to rest as much as I wanted and take time for myself.

A couple days before I was due for my pregnancy blood work, I felt the familiar itch to take a pregnancy test.  I had done a pretty good job keeping my anxiety at bay.  I had an extra test from my previous attempts, so I grabbed a cup and headed to the bathroom.  I did the dip and then laid the test on the counter to wait.  I swear time stands completely still as soon as that stick comes in contact with urine.  When I didn’t see that second little line appear instantly I just walked away.

Screw this.  It’s negative again, isn’t it?  Just like last time.  Whatever.  It’s fine.  We’ll try again.  We can still adopt.  I’m infertile. Broken.  I shouldn’t have even checked.

My mind was a whirlwind of negativity and fear.  I had watched so many negative pregnancy tests, turning them to see the result window at different angles, in a different light.  My desire was so strong I felt I would will that little line to appear, but it never did.

I went to the kitchen to do something that I don’t remember.  A couple minutes later, I walked back into the bathroom.  As quickly as I had dismissed the initial results, I felt the urge to know for sure.  The familiar feeling of hopefulness and potential that comes from being at the top of that fertility roller coaster overcame me.

And there was that second line.

It was clear as day.  Vibrantly blue against the white background of the test window.

I was pregnant again.

I’d like to say I was overjoyed.  I’d like to say that I was thrilled and excited and elated.

I mean, I was all of those things, but I also wasn’t at the same time.  I was also scared.  I was nervous and anxious and unsure.  I had been here before.  And it all disappeared in the blink of an eye.  A positive pregnancy test to most people means a baby in nine months.  To me, it meant the beginning of a fragile journey where a happy ending was not always the outcome.

A few days later blood work confirmed I was pregnant and that my hCG levels were rising properly.  I breathed the tiniest breath of relief.  As soon as I confirmed the blood work I set out on my mission to get a midwife.  Even though it felt too early, it’s been my dream to have midwifery care and by-gosh I was going to get it.

I actually was accepted into a midwife’s care in record time!  I called with my information and a day later a midwife was assigned to me.  I had to have some pregnancy karma stored up somewhere in the universe, right?

I was really excited to have a midwife and it made the pregnancy feel a little more real to me.  We had our first appointment at the birth centre in Winnipeg (which is goooorgeous).  Our midwife was warm and friendly and everything I hoped she would be.  We had a nice hour long consultation about health history and our journey thus far.  My wife was a champion and drove direct from her flight training in her flight suit (hot!) to be there for the appointment.  We found out I was due on June 8, 2018.  It felt so far away and so close at the same time.  The next step for me was to get an early ultrasound and hear that precious heartbeat.

Unfortunately, the health care system in Manitoba does not offer early ultrasounds unless there are extenuating circumstances or a need to date a pregnancy.  You’d think that a previous miscarriage would qualify as a reason for an early ultrasound, but nope.  I didn’t qualify.  My midwife offered to fudge things a bit and put me in for an ultrasound for “dating purposes” (even though I practically knew the exact moment of conception), but I might have to wait until I was around 10-12 weeks to get the ultrasound.

I wasn’t willing to wait that long.  I just couldn’t.  This pregnancy already felt so tenuous and delicate that I knew I would lose my mind waiting until almost the end of the first trimester to confirm.  So, back to Saskatoon I went for a 7 week ultrasound at my fertility clinic.

I laid down on the table and the doctor asked me how I was doing.  I said I was morning sick most of the time and very, very nervous.  Her face was kind with the understanding of my history.  In went the ultrasound wand and almost immediately my little baby popped into view on the screen.  My eyes welled up with tears as I heard the doctor measure her heart beat.  A smile spread across my face as the tracing of the 167 beats per minute flowed across the bottom of the monitor.  Baby was measuring perfectly and her heartbeat was strong and fast.

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My relief was incredible, though not complete.  This was a huge milestone for us, but we still had a long road ahead.

As soon as I was dressed, I told my wife, family and close circle of friends who have supported me throughout my loss.  I felt so grateful, not only for the support of the amazing people around me, but also for the hope of starting our family.

The first trimester was a strange time for me.  It was a happy time, of course, but it was also tempered with worry and uncertainty.  Pregnancy after loss is a constant conflict of emotions.  I feel trapped between two worlds.  One world where I look forward to having a big belly and planning pre-natal classes and buying baby things.  Meanwhile the other world taunts me with loss and embarrassment and despair.  I want to be happy and hopeful and look to the future, but it’s challenging with the reality of the true miracle of life.  The reality that nothing is guaranteed.  The reality that life is so, so precious and it could be taken away in an instant.

I’m sure you were all hoping for a slightly happier blog, but apparently that’s just not how I roll.  I guess I’m not naive anymore.  Miscarriage steals the magic and the potential of pregnancy.  Every day does get easier.  As I type this, I am 15 weeks and 5 days pregnant, baby is the size of an avocado and I’m already showing off a little baby belly.

Every morning when I get out of bed I look at my belly in the mirror to see if it’s still there, how big it is, how round it is.  I ask my wife constantly if my boobs are still big, to make sure my body still knows that I have a baby on the way (also because they are ridiculously huge now, so it’s kind of funny).  I check baby’s heartbeat every week with a fetal doppler, just to make sure she’s still in there and doing okay.  Until the last little while, I have tried not to refer to myself as pregnant or talk about it too much, in case it all changes.  I add qualifiers to statements about my pregnancy like “as long as everything works out okay” or “we know anything could still happen”, just to save face in advance.  Just last week my wife sang to our baby and I felt like it was barely real.

I’m so happy to be pregnant.  I know how incredibly lucky I am.  I know so many moms and families would give anything to be in my position because I was once in their shoes.  I was the barren mom looking at pregnancy announcements on Facebook and feeling the sharp pang of jealousy.  We are joyful and hopeful.  My joy just has a bittersweet companion, and I’m not sure when that will change.  Maybe it won’t.

For now, I’m trying to be healthy and meditate and enjoy the holiday season.  It’s going to be a bit hard seeing all of our families again because it was when we saw everyone last that we announced our first pregnancy.  I’m trying to step into my pregnancy confidently and connect with my baby.  I booked a Hypnobirthing class today.  I bought some maternity clothes.  I’m still nervous about our upcoming 20 week ultrasound in January, but I’m not letting that worry take over my life.  We are in a good place.

Thank you in advance for the well wishes.  So many of you amazing people are rooting for us and I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and positive messages over the last few months.  I promise more to follow shortly on the trials of the first trimester and our continued fertility journey.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

-K

 

Moving On From My Big Fat Negative Pregnancy Test

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Well, round two didn’t work.

Following my second round of IUI in August, I had such mixed emotions.  I was much more prepared for my second TWW (two week wait, as it is called in the fertility community).  I was sort of excited, sort of nervous, and just generally conflicted as I described in my last post.  But overall, I felt like I had my shit together and was very familiar with the feeling of “waiting”.  So, like a good fertility patient, I waited.

Until I couldn’t wait anymore.

About five days before my blood test, some crazy switch turned on in my brain and I bought a million pregnancy tests. I just had to know.  It was killing me and I wanted so badly to see those double lines, that I tested every day until my blood test was due.

I fell into a really dysfunctional cycle of apathy, followed by intense hope, passionate excitement and finally earth-shattering disappointment.  My days were busy and distracting, but my evenings were quiet without my wife around (she had to go be super cool and fly helicopters in Manitoba) and my mind was left to dwell excessively on whether I was pregnant or not.  Whether I was broken or not.  Whether I could give us the family that we had always wanted…or not.  Every day I begged the universe to throw me a bone.  Hadn’t I been through enough?

Every night I fell asleep with the comfort of knowing I could take another pregnancy test in the morning. I fantasized about how it would feel to call my wife to tell her the good news and how it would feel to hug my mom and show her the positive results.  It was the kind of hope that was dangerous because the stakes were so high.  I taunted myself with visions of joy and perfection, knowing that they might not ever come true.

Every morning I woke up and grabbed my pee cup to dip yet another pregnancy test.  The minute that followed was excruciating.  My brain flicked rapidly back and forth between the two outcomes.  Positive and negative.  Light and dark.  Joy and devastation.  Success or failure.

And every morning, that one stupid single line stared back at me.

When I got the phone call from the fertility clinic with my blood test results, I was out for my last lunch with my co-workers before my move to Winnipeg.  I knew right away from the tone in the nurse’s voice that the result was negative.  Just as I had expected.  I held my tears back, but my lower lip quivered as I asked how I could continue treatments now that I would be an eight hour drive from their clinic in Saskatoon.  The nurse was very accommodating and said that they would work with me in any way they could.

I tried to be strong and not show how upset I was, but I just couldn’t hold back my tears.  I broke down on the way back to the office and had to see the rest of my patients that day with red, swollen eyes and a broken heart.

I cried all the way home, as I had so often on the highway between Regina and Moose Jaw.

After hearing the news, one of my amazing friends in Moose Jaw, texted me to see if I wanted to come over for dinner.  I really wanted to say no and just crawl into bed and hide with all of my sadness and pain.  But I said yes, because I knew how much better I would feel having a compassionate friend by my side during this time.  She made me dinner and we watched The Office and had vegan ice cream.  I was so thankful that I allowed her into my grieving space.  I rarely ask anyone for help or support of any kind, so this was a first for me.  I was embarrassed and imperfect and in my sweat pants and she accepted me just as I was.  When people say you need to surround yourself with a community of friends and family to support you through your fertility struggles, they aren’t kidding.  It’s an absolute life saver.

That night I got my period, like goddamn clockwork.  I had a perfect twenty eight day cycle, probably for the first time in my whole life.  Ovulation on day fourteen, menstruation after day twenty eight.

After a really long sleep, I woke up with a feeling of calm and acceptance.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still crushed and shed a few more tears that day, but I also knew that I had another chance in only two weeks.  I could wait another two weeks.  Just a little bit longer.  One step closer to our dream of having a family.

I called the fertility clinic to let them know about day one of my cycle and the nurse arranged for an ultrasound in Yorkton, SK on day thirteen of my cycle.  That was the closest she could get to Winnipeg.

Hey Katie, why didn’t you just go to the fertility clinic in Winnipeg?  I mean it’s way closer, right?

Excellent question, dear reader.  Turns out the two month wait list that I was told about a couple of months ago when I requested a referral, is actually a nine month wait list.  Yep, you read that right.  Nine. Months.

There was absolutely no way we could wait that long.  Our only option was to continue to go to the clinic in Saskatoon.  Which meant a lot of driving was in my future.

On day thirteen of my cycle, I drove five hours to Yorkton for a ten minute ultrasound.  From there I had a few choices: 1) drive back to Winnipeg, with the chance of having to turn right back around and be in Saskatoon the next day for IUI; 2) stay in Yorkton and do whatever people in Yorkton do for a few hours; or 3) continue to drive to Saskatoon and hope that my current cycle was the same as my last.  I opted to continue my drive to Saskatoon and hoped it was the right call.  I had a lot of podcasts to listen to anyway.

Of course, as my luck would have it, an hour outside of Saskatoon I got a call from the clinic with some good news and some bad news.  The bad news was that my IUI would be in four days, meaning I would have to turn around and drive back to Winnipeg.  The good news was that I had not one, but TWO follicles developing!  I was on top of the world!  I felt like some sort of fertility goddess!  This would potentially double my chances of getting pregnant, with a very small chance of having fraternal twins!

As I did a big ol’ U-turn on the highway and headed back from whence I came, I couldn’t even be mad.  This was excellent news!  I finally felt like I was catching a break.

Three days later, I jumped back in my car and drove eight hours to Saskatoon and treated myself to a nice hotel.  I had a bath and relaxed and meditated.  I set three alarms that night so I wouldn’t miss my early morning appointment.

As I was laying on the procedure table after my IUI, I popped in my headphones and did a ten minute meditation from my Expectful app.  I drove back to the hotel and put my legs up against the wall and was inverted for an hour and focussed all of my attention and energy on my nether regions.  I don’t know of any studies linking being upside down after insemination with successful pregnancy and it’s probably totally in my head.  But there are benefits from that position in the yoga world and it felt right to have a little downtime before my eight hour journey back home.

It’s been almost a week since that IUI appointment and I’m cool as a cucumber.  Next week may be a different story, as we start to close in on my blood test date.  With a bit more distance from my miscarriage, lower stress levels, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, lots of rest and potentially two eggs available, I feel a lot more confidence in my body this round.

“New sperm, new egg, new oppourtunity” is a saying I saw on a fertility message board somewhere along the way, and I really like it.  It makes me feel like I’m not trapped by what has happened to me in the past.  I had a miscarriage, but it doesn’t define what my body is capable of.

Here’s hoping third time is a charm.

-K

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