When enough is enough

You see it a lot in the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss world and even the Infertility world.  People questioning when enough is enough.  I know even I was tempted by the ‘try one more time‘ even after 6 losses mind game as we planned on a FET after losing Abby.  Often times you see the try one more time turn into a try again and again and again.

When do you stop this crazy trying to conceive(TTC) race?  Or the crazy TTC and hope you don’t miscarry again race?  When do you stop trying drug x or drug y thinking that might make it ‘work’ this time?  When do you decide that you’ve seen enough specialists and have had enough labs drawn?  How many miscarriages is enough?

This is such a personal decision- no one else is walking in your shoes or living with your relationship or parenting your child(ren)(if you have any).  No one else can know what recurrent miscarriage or repeated IUI/IVF failures have done to your body, heart and mind.  Other’s experiences may provide you with some lessons learned but ultimately you need to own your own experience.

This hits home when I realize that I’m a ‘quitter’ in the RPL world (and yes, I was called such by someone on a RPL group).  I only had 6 miscarriages and Sally over there has had 11 and she’s still trying or Jill over there has had three children and then 7 miscarriages and they are still trying.  I think many people try to be encouraging- ‘Don’t give up, don’t quit, you can do it, great things come to those who wait, maybe next time your bean will stick!’  Honestly, I’m not a huge encourager.  I have to be realistic with myself, and I tend on the slightly negative side.  I also don’t get how some women can keep doing the exact same thing over and over and over again with the same result don’t see that as insanity.  But that’s their choice- if it doesn’t drive them insane, I really should have no say over it.  I just think that in being encouraging that we should be encouraging people to be making the best decision for them, not just encouraging them to keep trying.  People shouldn’t feel bad or guilty because they say enough is enough.

Then there are the things that just tick me off-

First is when these women say that if you stop TTC anymore that it means you didn’t want it badly enough.  You must not REALLY have wanted that baby if you aren’t trying again.  This really irks me that women who decide to get off the roller coaster of loss have to feel like had they just WANTED it more, they may have ultimately had success.  I guess we’ll never know, will we?  But I do believe, that when it comes down to it- what is in our hearts and minds has NOTHING to do with what biology may or may not do.  At the end of the day, some women will not be able to carry a(nother) baby and doctors may not ever be able to offer an answer.  You can want it till you are blue in the face, but that is a sad reality for some percentage of people.   It’s bad enough to feel like your body failed you and to stop without a(nother) baby, but she shouldn’t also have to have others tell her that she should have wanted it more.

Next is when someone does FINALLY get that pregnancy success and then she decides that she’s going to swoop in and ‘save’ the rest of us from our RPL.  I’m glad for her when I read that she has a healthy pregnancy after several losses.   And I think it’s great if she says what may have worked for her this time (ie, this time she used steroids or progesterone or xyz)– maybe someone else can take that to an appointment with their doctor.  But it irks me to no end when she generalizes that ANYONE who tries another pregnancy without using what worked for her that they are not advocating for themselves enough or they aren’t seeing the ‘right’ specialist or they should just get the drug and try it anyway because its a harmless drug.  Like we are all stupid and just blindly miscarrying without trying ‘enough’ medical intervention.  I’m glad you attribute a baby aspirin or a progesterone pill to your healthy pregnancy.  But don’t presume that everyone will benefit from that or imply that their miscarriage was their ‘fault’ because they weren’t on this drug therapy or because you didn’t push your doctor enough.  Last time I checked, there are no magic bullets to prevent miscarriage.  There are some crazy (untested, uncertain, and sometimes even dangerous to mom or baby) things out there that people are trying and there are still no guarantees.

So I’m trying to be ok with my decisions and experience.  I’m not there yet and I’m not where I want to be, but I won’t feel threatened or disappointed or whatever emotion when other people take different paths. If someone else is done, I respect that she has made that hard decision.  If someone else is trying again, I respect that hard decision.  If someone is moving on to adoption or surrogacy, I respect that hard decision.   And when someone asks the question, ‘How do you know when enough is enough?’, I’ll offer the most thoughtful response I can and remind them that what’s in their heart is most important.  If they don’t know, then maybe they need some more time to figure it out.  But I owe them more than just blindly saying to hang in there and keep trying till they get their rainbow when that may not be what’s in their heart or what’s best for them.  Only they can know.

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How to be a friend?

Every infertile or RPL woman has to go through the pain of being surrounded by pregnant women.  Sometimes it’s close friends, sometimes family members, and other times it’s just those random women you run into when you least expect it.

I’m fortunate that I have very few family members in general and the ones who are childbearing age I can just avoid when I’m not on Facebook.  I don’t have that sister or sister-in-law being pregnant in my face and expecting me to throw her baby showers to worry about, which I imagine is particularly difficult.

But I have several friends right now who are pregnant- 3 in particular that I care about still having a relationship with.  They have all told me via text or email, thankfully not in person.  But now I’m struck with wondering what to do to keep that friendship going.

I don’t want to be around pregnant women.  At all.  I can’t trust myself or my emotions- half the time I see them and feel this scary, intense hatred (usually strangers) and the other half of the time I just bust into tears and am reminded how much I hate my life and stupid body.  When I take Sweetie places that I know we’ll be seeing pregnant women, I totally focus on her.  I try to pretend that Sweetie and I are the only people in the room.  That’s not really conducive to going out for coffee with a pregnant friend or having her over for a playdate.

It’s hard because I still love these 3 women as people.  I don’t wish them bad things.  I know that there wasn’t some grand lottery where their babies get to live whereas mine get to die.  I do wish sometimes that they could understand better what I have been through-  I don’t get how in my entire pool of mommy friends that I only know of two who have had miscarriages before going on to have 2 and three kids (oh and the one who always makes a big deal about her chemical pregnancy before she had back-to-back-to-back children one each 12 months- um, don’t think you get it at all).

So I care, but I don’t want to look at them.  I don’t want to attend their baby showers or hear about their perfect OB appointments or be their shoulder to cry on about weight gain or being tired because of pregnancy.

I can’t stand it when I mentally compare myself to them sometimes-  Are they a better mom than I am?  Do they deserve this more than I do?  Why do they get to have 2, 3, 4 healthy babies AND a living mother who is their best friend AND nothing else bad that happens?  Why doesn’t any of this get spread around?

I look at their children and wonder- why do they deserve to have siblings and my Sweetie doesn’t?  Are they going to be more well-rounded than my Sweetie because they grow up with other siblings close in age?

I know, there’s no point in comparing or trying to understand.  But it really does impact relationships and I can’t imagine that ignoring that helps.

So I’m really confused as to how I’m supposed to be a friend anymore.  As if I didn’t need any more ways to feel bad, I feel bad because I don’t even consider myself a good friend anymore.  My mom always said that to have good friends you have to be a good friend.  I have felt so alone and surrounded by ‘bad’ friends because people don’t want to hear about my grief or losses.  But then I look in the mirror and know that I don’t want to hear about their pregnancies or happy family building escapades so I guess it goes both ways.

So what do I do?  What do you do if you’ve faced this?  Do I just tell these friends that I care about them but I don’t want to physically see them until after they have their babies?  I don’t see how that’s going to work well, because who knows how I’ll feel about their newborns (although, pregnant women seem far more difficult for me to see than babies-  but baby girls are still awfully hard).  Do I try to change our relationship to a phone one?  But then it’s not really fair to ask them to never mention pregnancy because I have found that often pregnant women end up feeling like their lives are consumed with the pregnancy and that’s all they can talk and think about.  Or is it fair to ask that?  Will any of this get better if my surrogate gets pregnant soon and I know I have a baby coming half a year or so after theirs is born?

I just feel like I’m destined to have no friends because I cannot be a good friend.  Just another thing Recurrent Pregnancy Loss has stolen from my life and another thing to feel like a giant jerk about.

Thoughts at the end of a bad week

I’ll just preface this with saying that it’s been a bad week.

Today I would have been almost 32 weeks pregnant.  But 16 weeks ago my Abby died.  She’s been gone from me longer than she was with me now.  I don’t know how I walk around with this empty hole in my chest.

So then after trying to come to grips with her loss and planning to move forward, today was supposed to be the day that I was going to get knocked up again via FET.  But, since I made a horrible decision on the day my Abby left me, I now have a lead weight in my abdomen right below the gaping hole in my chest.

I just cannot wrap my brain around my life, the things that have happened to me that I had no control over and the bad decisions I made that I did have control over.  I thought I could move forward but I just can’t right now.

I wish I had just stopped TTC after Sweetie.  I would have had three miscarriages and then one beautiful baby.  I wish I would have stopped then.  I would have been a far happier person (not happy, because I would have always felt like I wanted more babies) but I wouldn’t have destroyed everything else in my life by pushing through two more 1st trimester miscarriages and then the 2nd trimester loss.  I would have been a far better mother if I had just stopped after having Sweetie.  I would have been a far better wife if I had just stopped.  I wouldn’t have hated my body so much- I would have carried her to term and breast fed her for over a year and stopped while I still felt like my body could still do something ‘right’.  I would have been sad that I only had my one child, but I wouldn’t have wished for my own death every single day like I do now.  I wouldn’t have lost so many friends because I’m just a shitty, awkward person to be around because everyone just doesn’t know what to say and they feel sorry for me (and in the same breath they are really, REALLY happy that they don’t have to go through the shit I have).

I found out this week that two ‘friends’ are pregnant- not just new pregnancies or hitting the 2nd trimester.  Like 17 and 18 weeks pregnant.  Where I was when my little girl died.  And as if that isn’t enough- one of them found out she was pregnant the very week my little girl died.  She got a great Mother’s Day present and I had every future Mother’s Day ruined for me for the rest of my life.  She got to celebrate life and I once again just get stuck with death.  And grieving.  And grieving.

My psychiatrist says that my depression/anxiety meds are working ‘well’-  Um, ok, glad I’m paying you out the wazoo for this appointment when I don’t agree with you.  She doesn’t want to ‘overmedicate’ me so I don’t properly grieve.  What the hell?  Please, just overmedicate me.  I need something.  Anything.

 

 

 

Can I just quit?

So I’m still just reeling from my news and it’s almost been 2 weeks now.

I’m still trying to figure out how when the worst possible thing you can imagine happens and then you find out later it just gets worse.

I’ve tried to pick myself up and keep moving.

I’ve spent many hours pounding my punching bag.

I’ve consumed more alcohol than I thought I would ever consume.

I’ve spent hours reading medical journals and literature about Asherman’s and surgery and how with my history of RPL, it’s just not worth wasting embryos on my uterus ever again even IF I found an expert to attempt to remove the scar tissue.

I’ve had moments where I felt relieved that I will never be pregnant again.  I’m strangely comforted by knowing my body/uterus will never be responsible for killing another baby.

I’ve put the only energy I have left into furthering our surrogacy plans.  Because that’s all I have now.

I’ve found myself resenting the fact that I have the most wonderful living daughter because if I didn’t have her, I wouldn’t have to keep going.  And then I hate myself because that makes me a pretty shitty mother to even wish for a second that I didn’t have the responsibility of my daughter when she’s all I have and the only baby I’ll ever have carried.  I just want to quit.

What’s the worst that can happen?

So my husband and I are not on the best of terms right now, but we’re trying.  Trying to communicate, trying to pretend that we aren’t as bad off as we probably are.  Anyway, we started having another discussion about this (potential) upcoming FET.

His opinions in a nutshell:

Why not go for it? MMB:  Let me list a few (hundred) reasons.  Or, maybe not even a few hundred- let’s just list 6 failed pregnancies out of 7.  When you have shitty odds, you don’t exactly expect lightening to strike you again (in a good way).  He knows what a toll this has taken on my body, on my mental state, on our relationship, on my ability to be a good mother for our daughter, I really just don’t get how he can even ask this.  

It seems stupid to sit around and wait for a surrogate candidate to be identified when you ‘know’ you can get pregnant. MMB: Um, sure, I can get pregnant, but how does that equate to a take-home-baby when it comes down to my uterus?  And what if I don’t get pregnant this time?  Lots of women have failed transfers.  I’ve had two ‘successful’ transfers take, what if this is my 1 in 3 that doesn’t work?  There’s a new way for me to have a failed outcome that I’d rather not experience.

At least it will give you something to do in the meantime (while waiting for a surrogate). MMB: Hmm, as if I don’t have anything else to do like take care of our toddler and try to make it through each day without imploding or exploding or getting arrested for assaulting some poor random pregnant woman who triggers me. 

We should definitely transfer 2 embryos because that increases our odds and we’ll save a few thousand dollars on not doing another FET if this one doesn’t work.  MMB: Yes, because we don’t really want twins it makes sense to transfer two.  And my body does such a bang-up job with carrying ONE baby, I should tempt it again with attempting to carry TWO?  We transferred two embryos last time (our first transfer and miscarriage #5 was a Single Embryo Transfer) and I was pregnant with two sacs but only one kept growing.

At least you’ll be trying again.  I would think that would be healing for you.  MMB: Who knows?  Right now it just seems to be giving me more anxiety.  But seriously, I think I’m past the point of thinking there’s anything really healing in all of this. 

Whats the worst that can happen?  MMB:  Are you kidding me?  I guess he thinks that the worst has already happened to us so somehow it won’t happen again?  If that’s the case, I hope against hope that we’ve been through the worst and it’s not going to happen again.  But I can no longer even pretend that I believe that this is true.  I tried to think that  after we had lost 5 babies and I was in the second trimester with Abby, that the worst was over and we were in the clear.  Then we lost our Abby and she was scraped out of me on Mother’s Day.  I don’t want that rug pulled out from under me (yet again).  Maybe I’m just far too jaded by my experience (and I’ve heard other people’s horrible stories of loss) that I can graphically imagine other horrible outcomes.  I mean, Mother’s Day has effectively been ruined for me, but I’m sure there’s some other holiday that can also be ruined.  I could make it to 23 weeks this time and then lose the baby just before viability.  I could be on bedrest for weeks and not able to care for Sweetie, and then still lose the baby(ies).  I could carry the baby(ies) to term and then still lose them.  Hell- I could get pregnant with a healthy pregnancy and then somehow my Sweetie gets sick or worse (oh my goodness, I feel like I shouldn’t even type that even though every day I have major anxiety that something bad will happen to her).  Or maybe I’ll have another loss and this time it really will drive me over the edge and I’ll either be dead or committed to a mental hospital.  Yes, I really shouldn’t play the ‘what’s the worst that can happen game’.  Can you blame me?  Why does my husband insist on playing?

Ok, I’m sorry, I have to stop and say that I’m really not saying all these things to my husband in the way I stated above.  Even when we’re arguing, we both try to be respectful and non-snarky.  I just REALLY have to come vent here on my blog because I don’t have any other safe place to vent.  My husband is a wonderful man and he’s doing the best he can. That said, he does see things in a very black and white manner and he doesn’t have (any) of the need to analyze things the way I do.  So it leaves me feeling very unheard on most discussions especially when he thinks it’s a ‘no-brainer’.

I guess maybe I just need him to say that it’s scary as hell to try this again, instead of just trying to wrap this into a neat little ‘of course we should try again’ package.

 

Losing babies, losing faith

I’m just not sure where I stand right now when it comes to God and religion and my losses.  If I stand anywhere or if it’s just time to close a chapter on what I have been taught to believe.  It’s really going through my head right now, so I’m just going to put some of it out here.

I grew up in a very religious household.  We went to church morning and night on Sundays and once on Wed night, not to mention the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School every summer, and Church on every non-major holiday (yes, really- I mean, how many people go to church on New Years Eve and New Years Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc. when it’s not a Sunday?!).

We prayed before and after every meal, read devotions before dinner and at bedtime- it was a huge part of my upbringing.  I would hear stories of people being ‘born again’ and having a relationship with God, but I just wasn’t sure how that was supposed to feel, so I tried my best.  I believed all the major Dogmas of Christianity, I didn’t know what else to believe.  It was drilled into me left and right what I was ‘supposed to believe’ or ‘supposed to do’ as the correct Christian response to God.

When I lost my 59 year old mother to cancer on the day before Mother’s Day, I didn’t curse God or get angry at him.  It didn’t shake my faith-  I thought I was supposed to pray for comfort and God would ultimately provide that and help me feel better.  I know my Mother believed very deeply in God and even during her battle with cancer (albeit short, it was less than a year between her diagnosis and death), her faith never waned.  I used to think that she was up in heaven singing in a choir (she used to direct the church choir), and that was about the only thing that helped.

When I lost my first baby, I tried to imagine my mother up in heaven holding my baby.  I had brief moments of worry that I hadn’t been praying enough for a healthy pregnancy.  That God wanted to give me this trial to confirm that I was ready to be a Mom.   Overall, I didn’t feel like it was a horrible thing that God should have kept me from, I just figured this was part of life to get through and then things would turn out differently next time.

When I lost my second baby, I tried to imagine my mother holding that one, too.  I started to question what God was trying to tell me by having me lose two babies.  In theory, he would make me a mother if he wanted to, because he’s all-powerful, right?  My husband and I had a good relationship, good jobs, a home to raise a child in.  I tried to believe my doctor that this was just ‘bad luck’, but I really started to feel like I was being punished by God.  I earnestly searched for what ‘sins’ I had committed to deserve this.  I prayed harder than ever that my next baby would live or if it wasn’t meant to be, that I wouldn’t get pregnant again.

Despite all that, I lost my third baby, and hit the ground.   Hard.  I really started to get angry and challenge those Christian platitudes that had been thrown at me.  Did I really think this would keep happening because I wasn’t praying enough?  I know that I and several other people were praying for my 3rd pregnancy non-stop.  I didn’t have my ‘comforting’ vision anymore– My mom didn’t have enough arms to hold all my babies in heaven.  And she didn’t need my babies in heaven, I needed my babies here on Earth.  I’d be a good mother-  why did God keep taking these babies from me?  I started to really look at all the other women in horrible situations who can get pregnant easily or parents that abuse their children who keep procreating, and it just pissed me off beyond all reason.

My 3rd miscarriage was also the point where I shared my loss with a few people and I started getting back the responses about it being ‘God’s Plan’ and that when he wanted me to have a baby that I would get one.  And I was told that I needed to be more faithful that God would do as he had promised.  Oh, and that God was supposedly hurting with me and crying with me… but how does that make sense when he’s the one who caused it (or allowed it to happen– is there a difference when you are looking at an all-powerful being?)?  God is supposedly in control of everything, right, he knows the ‘plans he has for us, plans to prosper us and not harm us’?  He has predetermined that each of my babies would live for x days in utero then he would end their far-too-short lives, and he would do that time after time (after time again)?

Then I had my Sweetie.  She was beautiful and perfect and I loved her from the moment I saw her.  The first thing people say is ‘what a blessing she is’, ‘a gift from God’, ‘it’s by God’s grace that she’s here’ and I’m supposed to give all the thanks to God.  Um, wait-  God is supposed to get all the credit that my 4th pregnancy finally ‘worked’ and he’s not supposed to be the cause or get any of the blame that the first three pregnancies failed?  Did I not deserve the gift of the last three pregnancies, when he went to the trouble of getting me pregnant only to destroy/take back my gift?  How does that work?  Seems awfully hypocritical if you ask me.

Then there were miscarriages #4 and #5.  More dead babies and I’m told to pray harder.  There is no comfort in praying, I’ve been doing that like crazy.  Christians place so much value on ‘talking to God’ in prayer, but no one wants to admit that it’s a very one-sided conversation and there’s no tangible proof that it ever works.  I guess that doesn’t suit their goals.  You just start to feel like God was either punishing me or my husband and now he’s punishing my daughter by killing her siblings.  You want to talk about an unjust God?  I’m there.

And then miscarriage #6 on Mother’s Day.  There is no logic or plan that explains losing a perfect/normal baby at 16 weeks after 5 other losses and on Mother’s Day.  Where is God in that?  Seriously, if any person or being or the universe was the one that planned this, it could not have been more cruel.  How do you begin to reconcile this cruelty with a loving God?  Oh yeah, he’s supposed to comfort me.  He causes or allows things to happen so he can swoop in and ‘comfort’ people?  Sounds more to me like that ‘hero syndrome’ where people cause horrible situations (ie arson) and then ‘rescue’ people so they can get attention and praise.  I know, I know- we live in a sinful world and God wants to give us ‘free will’, so that’s supposed to explain everything according to most Christians.  Whatever.

So I’m obviously very confused on where I stand right now.  I have a very tough time with all the hypocrisy of Christianity and that alone causes me to think that it would be easier to just not believe in a God/god.  But it was so engrained in me from childhood I’m having a tough time reframing my thinking.  I am personally not gaining anything positive from Christianity/church/God, and it in fact seems to make things worse right now to try to believe that there is a ‘loving’ God out there (and to hear it from well-meaning friends and relatives).  (I know, I know, God didn’t promise wonderful lives free from trials and heck, look at Job.  Yeah, well, I’m not getting a Bible chapter named after me and I’m not Job)

After what I’ve been through, being continually bombarded with these messages that a wonderful God who I’m supposed to sing praises to would kill 6 babies as part of his plan just doesn’t sit well.  I don’t recall reading in the Bible that it took 6 tries before Mary conceived and carried Jesus- so God obviously controls life and conception when it suits his purpose.  I don’t see how God’s all-knowing plan is that a woman on welfare can continue to pop out children that she cannot afford, or parents that are neglectful or abusive can continue to have children.  (I know I’m not alone in these thoughts- I think every infertile women feels this at some time!)  If that’s His plan, then it doesn’t seem to show much foresight, it’s a piss-poor plan.  I find it much easier to say there is no plan- there is no God- shit is happening every day and it’s just because shit happens.  Trying to layer a bunch of Christian platitudes about God’s plan or God’s love or faithful prayer over a layer of shit just seems to make it stink all the more.

I keep coming back to this paradox that is frequently attributed to Epicurus (which may or may not be from him):

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

The Christian answer is that we won’t ever understand this with our flawed, Human brains-  only God knows the answers.  Um, I guess that’s the perfect answer if your goal is to really not answer any questions.

So is it easier to believe in a God, one the has killed 6 babies when he supposedly loves life and his children, one that supposedly answers prayers, one that supposedly wants good things for us, one that has a ‘plan’ for all of this?  No, I really think that I’d feel much better if I believed this was random.  That no one is deciding that great parents remain infertile while a million women get pregnant only to abort because they didn’t want to be pregnant.  That when I pray I’m talking to no one and it’s only a practice that exists to make some people feel better, I’m just not one of them.

So I will keep learning and reading.  I don’t know where I stand yet, and it’s not really critical that I figure it out today or tomorrow.  I know that not all my arguments make sense right now, I haven’t thought it all out.  Christians probably think I sound like an un-Christian petulant child crying ‘no fair’ and atheists probably think I sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about 🙂  It’s ok, just be kind.  My head is really messed up still.  🙂

(And, if you are still reading here, you win a prize.  I recognize now that this is WAY too long for a blog post, but I’m going to publish it anyway.  Cause I’m still a novice blogger :))

I should be ‘used to this’?

Oh my goodness, just when you think you’ve heard it all…

I had a husband of a not-so-close friend* tell me that he was sorry to hear that I miscarried, but that his wife (my not-so-close friend) said she thought I was ‘used to it by now’.

I pretty much choked on the bite of pasta salad in my mouth and said ‘no, you don’t really ever get ‘used to’ your babies dying’ and got up and walked out to the bathroom.  And texted my husband from the bathroom, telling him that I would be sitting in the car for the rest of the party or until he could get his behind out to the car.  We left 5 minutes later.  Now I’m home and still shaking.

Is that really what people feel for those of us who have Recurrent Pregnancy Loss?  That it’s like working out and the first time makes you really sore, but it gets easier/better each time?  Seriously?!

Stupid people SUCK.

*She only knows my history because she’s in my mom’s group and a mutual friend told her.  She is not someone who I would ever have shared my story with, which I guess makes this worse.