Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Going back to work

I accepted a new position today. I will be starting July 5th. It's not so great to be going back to work, but infertility treatments don't pay for themselves.

Like many women dealing with infertility, my career has taken a backseat to trying to conceive. For me the two seem so intricately tied together that going back to work feels like another defeat, another loss of infertility.

Let me explain.

Almost exactly 3 years ago, when I was 3 months pregnant with Ernest, my mother bought a small business. Her dream was that all four of her daughter would come and work in a family business. At the time I was trying to figure out how to maintain some income while having more flexibility as a mother. It seemed like a perfect match. I told my employer that I was going to quit after the baby was born. Three months later, when our son was born and subsequently died, I went ahead with my plans. After all, I got pregnant relatively quickly after moving to IUI and I would get pregnant again.

I started working with my family less than a month after Ernest died. It was all kinds of stressful. I had been warned about the stresses of working with family, but (just like infertility) I thought, "that won't happen to me." Not only was it difficult working with people who knew all the right buttons to push, my family was unable to support me in my grief. At the best of times they just couldn't understand. At one point my mother told me that perhaps it was good that my son died because it would make me more humble. Another time I announced that I was going to take a vacation and spend a week with my husband. I said that I was still very sad and needed to get away for awhile. The response, "Why are you sad?" Umm . . . maybe because our son died less than four months ago? The son that was conceived after two years of infertility?

Eventually my sister announced that she was pregnant with number two. It was heartbreaking for me, but I was happy for her. I continued trying to make it work mostly because I dreaded going back to work for someone else where I couldn't step out for a good cry when I needed to. Some months came and went. More months where we failed to conceive. It became increasingly difficult to ignore my sister's pregnancy. She tried to minimize it and I know it wasn't easy for her. Finally the stress of working long hours with family and the grief of our loss compounded with the "little deaths" each month when we failed to conceive was too much. I walked out and never looked back.

With my husband's blessing, I decided to take the summer off. I quietly hoped that I would get pregnant soon and be a stay at home mom. Maybe I wouldn't need to go back to work for a few years.

This was not to be. After two failed IVF's and tens of thousands of medical expenses, I went back to work full time last fall. The work didn't sound perfect, but it seemed like it would be a good work environment and there were only a few other women - none who looked pregnant. I was a little worried about dealing with it emotionally because I was still crying a lot, but I figured it was time to move on.

It was the first day on the job, they took the new hires (me included) along with the rest of our team out to lunch. On the far side of the table from me, one of the ladies lamented that she couldn't have her usual favorite sandwich because it had brie cheese in it. Only someone who has dealt with infertility would be hyper-aware enough to not only hear the comment, but correctly interpret it to mean only one thing - she was pregnant. My first thought was, "Fuck me." I must be over reacting. Sadly, no. Soon the conversation turned to morning sickness, forbidden foods and finally potential baby names. That was just more than I could take. Picking out baby names while we were in labor was a very bittersweet experience for us. Mostly bitter with very little sweet. I excused myself and went into the bathroom and cried.

After lunch I discovered that this company of about 40 or so employees (and only a handful of women) was going to have a Halloween event the next day. I was welcome to dress up and bring any small children I may have to work in the afternoon. The person was excitingly telling me how they would parade the children from room to room and hand out candy. She herself was bring her two children and they were going to be soooo cute, etc. etc.

I went home and sobbed. How was I going to survive this? I needed the money to pay for infertility treatments. I hadn't had a real job in over a year, who else would hire me? So the next day - my second day on the job - I took my boss aside and told him about our infertility struggles and that I just couldn't be there when the kids came through. I offered to make the time up another day. Surprisingly, he said that he understood and said not to worry about the time.

I dodged that one, but time proved that there were many other events that triggered grief. Mostly it was working around this woman who got pregnant easily and all the pregnancy talk that followed her around. The job also proved to be more boring than I expected so it was difficult to get my mind off of trying to conceive. It really was not my cup of tea. I kept telling myself they I would soon be pregnant and I would quit when the baby was born. A few weeks on the job and I was already counting down to when I could quit. At the same time, I was terrified that we would not get pregnant and that I would have to survive the pregnant lady giving birth and all that goes along with it.

Fortunately, a small blessing occurred. Despite my insistence during both interviews that I was willing to work more than 40 hours, but less than 45 on a regular basis, it became increasingly clear that they expected 50-60 hours regularly. This was all happening just as IVF #3 was gearing up. I was already on BCP's and feeling the emotional effects. I went to my manager and reiterated what I said in the interview and that I was willing to continue to work hard, reminded them that they seemed to value my quality of work but I was not willing to work that kind of hours. If that was not ok with them, then we needed to part ways.

The next day was the suppression check for my IVF. I had a disappointing number of antral follicles and a potential cyst. It was difficult to go to work after that. Thankfully, my employer told me that the arrangement would not work for them and that I was being let go. I remember thinking, "I don't have to come back tomorrow! I don't have to come back tomorrow!"

I am so glad that I was not there when the pregnant lady had her baby because, of course, IVF #3 was a complete failure. We decided to jump right into IVF #4. I would get a temporary job after we got pregnant just to get a little extra income until the baby was born.

Well, that plan didn't exactly work out either because IVF #4 was a bust too.

So . . . back to looking for work . . . sort of. My heart just wasn't into it. I was grieving this new loss, re grieving the old losses and trying to come to terms with the idea of donor eggs. In an effort to feel less guilty about not working while continuing to accumulate debt from our infertility treatments, I half heartedly applied for a job in my field.

That was June 14th. I had three interviews and a job offer in the span of 9 working days. So, I am going back to work, ready or not. I hope I will like it, because this time I don't think I could convince myself that I will get pregnant any time in the near future and therefor have a reason to quit. Or at the very least, be so thrilled with the prospect of being a mom that the job just won't matter that much.

I think I may actually like this one. I don't have the red flags I had when I accepted the last job. There are only 5 people in the office and only one other woman who does not appear to be pregnant (I'll keep you posted on this one). I will also be working with people more so I will have less time in my own head. The only down side is that my "office" is about an 8' x 10' closet with no windows. I am a little worried about that, but Brad has assured me that I will decorate it and make it a more friendly environment.

One other thing. Two of the people I spoke to raved about the benefits. "They pay 100% of just about everything! Just a $10 co payment" I wonder what "almost everything" means . . . Could they cover infertility expenses? The company is based out of Ontario, Canada, a province with some mandated infertility coverage and there are also offices in New York which I believe also has some mandates for infertility coverage. So here I am hoping - just like I hope that I am pregnant even when I know it is impossible - that I will get a $12,000 bonus once my benefits kick in.

We will see . . .

Friday, June 22, 2007

I love summer!

Just a brief post to say it is a better day. Wednesday (the day of my previous post) got better after a nap, a walk, and a little crocheting. The nap was probably the most helpful. I have had an awful cold and not sleeping well.

Yesterday we celebrated the longest day of the year by staying our until late dusk putting a new trunk on Brad's motorcycle. I'm not being sarcastic. It was nice. We were at a friend's house (Brad and I are lucky to be able to hang a picture without help) and it was a nice, enjoyable evening.

Today promises to be another good day. I still feel pretty crappy from this cold and have promised myself that I will nap as much as I need in the hopes of kicking the bug, but it is sunny and warm and I am not currently working. How can it get better than this? (Well, besides the obvious) Plus, it is looking like I may be going back to the daily grind sooner than later so I need to enjoy every moment I can.

With that, I am shutting off the PC and stepping outside! Maybe I will even walk to the local bakery and read a book. Or maybe I will just take my nap in the sun. Ahhh . . . I love summer!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Struggling with Happiness

Can I just say that I am tired? I am bone weary. I'm tired of trying to have a baby. I'm tired of waiting. I am tired of re-grieving old losses with each new one. I am tired of hearing about people who get pregnant easily. I am tired of trying to be happy.

I know from experience that happiness is a choice. I can choose to notice what is working, instead of what is not. I can notice how nice it is to have the warm summer sun on my face. I can dance. I can, simply, smile. Sometimes, like today, it is just hard. Today, I don't want to try to be happy. I don't want to work at it - I just want to have it come easily.

I woke up to the sound of birds singing this morning. Usually this is a happy sound, a magical way to start the new day. This morning a part of me knew that I was supposed to feel good at the sound, a part of me wanted to feel good, but the part that was in charge this morning just noticed that it was summer. Again. And I still don't have a baby. I am still not pregnant.

Two years ago, after several failed IUI attempts and 9 months after Ernest was born, Brad and I sat on a roof downtown to watch the 4th of July fireworks. We told each other this time next year we would have a baby and would need to stay home because the sound would scare our baby. Or at the very least I would be pregnant. We toasted to this time next year. In two weeks we will celebrate the second anniversary of this time next year. I don't harbor any false hopes that this time next year 2008 will be any different. Ok, I do have some hope that we will be pregnant. And perhaps that is the problem.

You see, I have many this time next year anniversaries. If I had a dollar for every time I thought or said this time next year I would be able to pay for all our fertility treatments. (Well, maybe I would need $50.00 for each time) There is a bush that grows along a walk I used to take daily that produces these very ovary-like seed pods. I remember holding one and thinking this time next year I will be sharing this with our child. The bush is ripe with ovaries right now. There is the annual backpacking trip - the one I missed last year because I was pregnant and it was a strenuous hike and I didn't want to take the chance. There is the winter night at the local bakery. And of course, every holiday and birthday. All these little reminders to sting you and say, "Another year and what has your money, hope and effort brought you?" It has brought me more opportunities to practice being happy.

Still, today I want things to be going so well that happiness comes easily. I want to be bursting with joy at the thought of getting woken up in the middle of the night to feed our newborn. I want to show a 2 and half year old Ernest the peas that are growing in the garden. I want to skip barefoot through the park with our son - or at least holding our baby - or even with the hope that this baby would make it to term.

But today won't be like that. Today I will try to be happy. Today I will work on the baby poncho I am crocheting and think about a Someday Baby who might wear it. Today I will turn my face into the sun and try to feel its warmth. Today I will repeat three magical words to myself: "All is well." Today I will take our dog, Ender, for a walk along the river and dream about the day, maybe even this time next year when I will be taking that walk while resting my hands on a belly swollen with life.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Over the last few years, I have collected a group of short-term coping tools that have really helped me out. These are the things you can pull out when you are having a not-so-great or even really bad day to help get through the next few moments or hours. These aren't long-term solutions, but they can get you in a state of mind that allows progress in those long term solutions. I have divided them into three groups: physical, mental and chemical.

  • Go for a walk - just get off the couch and walk out the door. I am usually feeling better within minutes.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Sit in the shower and just notice the feel of the droplets hitting your body. Sometimes I imagine the water washing all the pain away. I like to call these "super water wasters" but they are well worth it.
  • Go for a walk barefoot. It is amazing how grounded this can make me feel. The different textures on skin that usually doesn't get much sensation is magical.
  • Exercise - Some studies have found that 30 minutes of exercise a day is as effective as anti-depressants such as Prozac. Do whatever feels good - walking counts too and 30 minutes will go by more quickly than you expect.

  • Meditate - Just noticing your breath and quieting your mind in the process can work wonders. I also like guided meditations and imagery. Help for Infertility by Healthjourneys is nice.
  • Yoga - Perhaps this is more valid under the physical category, but I find the mental calm that comes with doing yoga a bigger prize. I really like the Yoga 4 Fertility dvd.
  • Create something - You don't have to be good at something in order to be creative. I have painted the most childish looking paintings (honestly - a 15 year old looked at one and though a preschooler did it) but it still felt good. I have also enjoyed crocheting baby blankets and clothes. It is a hopeful thing to do and great for any of those long waits for results or the next cycle to start or whatever. I picture each stitch as a unit of time. Just as one stitch at a time will make an entire blanket, this moment brings me that much closer to the current goal.
  • Go see a friend or invite someone over. In those low moments this probably doesn't sound good, but surprisingly, it almost always works.

Note: These are meant for short term solutions only. I used to be very adamant about never using chemicals to change my mood and I didn't even try it until about a year after we lost our son and were about 3 years into our trying to conceive journey. Now I think it is a very good solution in some situations.
  • Anti-depressants - I actually haven't tried these personally, but I think that it can be a good solution especially if it allows someone enough of a mood boost to be able to continue to help herself heal.
  • Sleeping pills - A quick trip to insanity is to be sleep deprived. Who isn't more grumpy or cynical or sad when really tired? Give yourself a much needed mental boost and get a good night's sleep. Another good thing about sleeping pills, is that you only take them when you need them unlike anti-depressants.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) - After moving over "to the dark side" of chemical mood enhancers I decided to give this a try while I was waiting to miscarry after our third pregnancy. It is for very short term use as it can be addictive. This is for when you just want to check out for a bit. You can feel your emotions just dissolving a way. I have only taken it at night and used it in place of a sleeping pill. (My experience has been that if I am really keyed up, sleeping pills aren't enough. Xanax will take the edge off and help you fall asleep.)
  • Alcohol and sugar - Never underestimate the power of red wine and chocolate! The trick, of course, it too have just enough and not too much of either. Add a box of tampons and you have an emergency miscarriage kit.
There is my list. I hope someone might find a useful tidbit. If you have any other ideas, please let me know!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A nice follow-up with the RE

We had our follow up meeting with our RE a few days ago and it went much better than expected. I am usually a bit keyed up for these "WTF meetings" after a failed IVF but this time I was actually nervous. My first instinct, when I saw Dr. R coming into the waiting room to collect us, was to hide under the table, shut my eyes, cover my ears and shout, "I'm not ready! I'm not ready!"

This would be the meeting when we seriously explore options for donor eggs (DE).

I started the meeting not feeling very good about our options. We had a known donor who we were (and still are) feeling really good about. However, if she doesn't work out or changes her mind, we didn't feel very good about the backup plan.

I would prefer to stay with my current clinic for a number of reasons - an established (and good, I think) relationship with the RE and staff, good rates, and lower cost than other options. The very big downside is that they have a small donor pool, they match you to one donor rather than offering a choice, and I had a very bad experience speaking with one of the people involved in the donor egg program. In fact, one of the people involved with matching me to an egg donor.

I honestly felt that, while I had been well cared for in the past, if I wanted to use donor eggs at my clinic, I was pretty much on my own. Fortunately, I do feel much better about my clinic's program after talking to Dr. R. He promised to get personally involved. That just feels much better since I didn't hit it off with one of the people doing the matching and Dr. R seems to know me pretty well. We didn't get into why they do it the way they do. If it was our main plan I probably would have, but it feels pretty good as a backup plan right now.

The rest of the time we talked about what a donor cycle will be like for me (just a few days of monitoring to check uterine lining) and the possibility of me cycling along with the donor. I came away with a lot to think about. I hope it all works out in the end.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Views from this side of using donor eggs

I have talked with or read posts from many people who have adopted either conventionally or used donor eggs or sperm and they all say the same thing, "It doesn't matter at all! This is our child 1000%"

Really? Does it really not matter at all? Why do we try so hard to have our biological children if it really doesn't matter? Perhaps the view from here really is just that much different than the view with your baby in your arms - no matter how that child came to be yours. I can imagine feeling just like these parents in the end (although I think I would say it hardly matters at all), but I just can't completely accept / believe it from this side of the fence.

Here is what I do see from here.

For starters I want to give kudos to my RE for his cunning way of introducing us to the idea of donor eggs. After our third failed IVF, as I was sitting in his office waiting for the donor egg (DE) speech, he talked about how happy we will be when we hold our baby in our arms. (ahh . . nice image!) Then he told us how everything looks good - number of eggs, fertilization, even the embryos look good - but we aren't making a viable baby (hmmm . . .). After building me up a bit and hinting that it was an egg quality issue he closed the deal with, "Why don't we try one more time with your eggs and then move right to donor eggs if that doesn't work?"

WOW!!! He thinks I should try one more time with my eggs!!! Our backup plan sounds great too - 80% chance of having a live birth with DE at his clinic. We will have a baby!

And so it all felt pretty good until after our fourth failed IVF cycle. Suddenly DE was no longer the backup plan - it was the plan. The full force of not having your biological baby doesn't really hit you until it is your genes on the chopping block. I know this because we experimented with donor sperm and it felt very different.

Let me explain that a bit so that you don't think I am uncaring about my husband's position or just that self centered. When we did use donor sperm (DS) we used 1/2 DS and 1/2 Brad's sperm (on the third IVF). I told myself that if DS did make the difference then at least we would have a baby. DS was still the backup plan. I did notice how much I loved Brad's warm, brown eyes and beautiful eyelashes and how sad it made me feel that they wouldn't be his brown eyes even if we had a brown eyed baby. I also noticed how different he was from the rest of his family in terms of personality - maybe it isn't the genes that matter. Most importantly, he didn't seem to be that concerned. If he wasn't sad, how could I be? The experiment showed that the embryos grew equally well and none implanted. By the way, later I found out that he experienced pretty much the same emotions and thoughts that I did, but didn't feel like expressing it would help.

Now it is my turn.

At times I am angry - at myself for not going to an RE when I first suspected something was wrong 3 years before we finally went. Angry at Brad and my OB for not pushing me to do what I was too afraid to do. I am angry at my RE and embryologist and western medicine for not being able to help. I am also angry at books like The Infertility Cure which promises that you can make a difference if you are the "perfect little girl". Finally, I am angry at Ernest for being conceived in the first place. If that "miracle" had never happened we wouldn't have falsely believed we could get pregnant without IVF and most likely gone to the RE at least a year and a half sooner than we did.

And I am sad. I am sad that my perfect package of genes won't be a part of our child's life. I do believe the literature that suggests 50 - 70% of who we are - our personality, intelligence, interests, behaviors - come from our genes. I am a unique, special individual but mostly because of my unique combination of genes not because of my peer group or family or what I have decided to be true about myself. When I pictured raising a child, I pictured a baby that was 1/2 mini-me and 1/2 mini-Brad. Of course, the child would be best of each of us: my love of solving problems, Brad's tenaciousness, my ability to understand people, Brad's ability to easily socialize, my smile, Brad's beautiful eyes. We would raise the most happy, well adjusted person the world has ever known. She would be a genius too. He would melt peoples heart's with his easy laugh and intelligent wit.

Yes, yes, I know that is fantasy. I know no one gets a "mini-me" but most people let that fantasy go little by little as they discover their child won't be in the gifted program like mom was or doesn't really like to dance the way dad always envisioned. For me, that fantasy completely dissolved with one sentence from our RE. It was that sudden impact that left me questioning why I wanted to have a child in the first place.

Over that last 5 plus years, I have told myself many stories about how I wanted to parent. I wanted to teach my child to be happy - to appreciate each moment and to find joy in life even when things don't go as planned (I'm getting better at this every day). I hoped that we would be able to combat some of our cultural teachings such as being better than everyone else or being rich or having a "successful" career are the most important goals. I vowed not to live vicariously through our children. I promised myself that I would meet the child where she was at and not try to make her into some one she was not. And what do these goals have to do with where his genes came from? Absolutely nothing. So why am I having such a hard time letting go?

Perhaps, despite all my conscious thoughts about raising a child, I really did want to raise a mini-me. Maybe I really do want the chance to have a bright child who loved to dance so I could give him the opportunities that I wish I had as a child. Perhaps this has all really only been about healing my own childhood wounds. How unfair is that to a new life?

Now before you get too judgmental, take some time to listen to your own thoughts about parenthood or those of your friends. I think healing those childhood wounds is not uncommon. Most of us don't really think about it because having a child comes so easily. When you spend years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to build a family, giving up and not having children becomes an increasingly attractive option. That is when you really start to question your motives and perhaps learn some things about yourself you wish you hadn't.

There are also all those little losses. It hurts to know I won't be needed for the egg retrieval. I will sit at home while Brad goes to the clinic to fertilize someone else's eggs. When someone says, "Ooooh!! She has your eyes!", I'll know that she doesn't. "Her hair is so curly! I wonder if it will straighten out as she gets older like mine did?" Oh wait, her hair has nothing to do with mine. "Where did she pick up that habit?" Perhaps, it was programming from her genes.

Here is a pearl from what we have gone through trying to conceive a viable baby and from my recent grief in dealing with letting go of my biological child: I can choose to heal my childhood wounds before our child is born; I can be more aware of my subconscious motivations and, perhaps, be better at avoiding them; I can let go of how our child is supposed to be long before the child is who she is.

Some other good thoughts: Each cycle has a better chance of success than when we cycled with my eggs; we won't be doing the same thing and expected different results - and getting the same results; maybe, just maybe we will be coming to the end of this journey; I've changed my mind before about acceptable ways for us to build a family and I can do so again.

See? I can be optimistic!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ernest's birth story

This is an abridged edition of when our first child was born that was written about one year after his birth and death. Well, I tried to make it shorter and took out about 1/4 of the story, but I just can't go through it again. Even after nearly three years it is painful to recall.

Ernest was born in the late evening of October 20th, 2004

Perhaps for the entire pregnancy I had a feeling things weren't going to work out. I just couldn't get my mind around the idea that we were actually going to have a baby. I got angry when people would call me "mom" or buy us baby things because I was afraid they would jinx us. At one point I angrily told someone who had just called me mom, "Don't say that! You never know what might happen!"

The evidence of things going badly slowly started to accumulate. At my 19 week appointment, I still hadn’t felt the baby move. My midwife said it was probably because I was always so busy (I was working two jobs at this point) that I just didn’t notice. I tried to spend more time in the evenings just relaxing, or taking a bath. It didn’t seem to help. I also started to show more and more, and at an ever increasing rate.

At my 23rd week appointment, I still hadn’t felt the baby move. Cathy would listen for the heartbeat and would hear what she interpreted at movement. Even when she was pointing it out, I couldn’t feel it. (To be fair, several nurses at both hospitals claimed they hear and felt the baby move) I was also concerned about the amount of weight I was gaining. Even though I had been working on eating better and staying in shape, I was now about 155 lbs (gaining about 25 pounds of pregnancy weight) and measuring at 24 weeks, while I was measuring around 17 weeks at my 19 week appointment.

At the time, I was concerned about not feeling the baby move, but easily reassured. I was pretty busy and stressed out with 2 jobs. Cathy felt the baby move. We could hear a good, strong heartbeat. The baby must be ok, I am just not noticing. The weight gain was also tickling my conscience mind that something was terribly wrong. I was stunned that I was still gaining weight so rapidly. I knew I was eating much better and staying active. How could this be? “Oh, well”, I told myself; the baby must just be growing very fast.

Over the next couple of weeks, I tried to spend more time relaxing and feeling my body. I just couldn’t imagine I was going to be a mom. I couldn’t picture myself giving birth at home. I didn’t even feel pregnant, I just felt fat. I tried doing some of the things mom’s in my childbirth classes seemed to do spontaneously. I tried singing lullabies to the baby, but I didn’t feel like anyone was listening. I tried patting and rubbing my belly, like I had seen so many moms do. It just wouldn’t seem real to me no matter what I did.

One evening, I asked Brad to see if he could feel the baby move. Wasn’t this where we were supposed to be? - I was about 24 weeks along at this point. - Weren’t we supposed to be sharing in the awe of the first movements? I remember thinking in the back of my mind that I wasn’t excited like most women seemed to be at this point. It still didn’t seem real to me. I must be too busy or just a pessimist.

About this time I started to notice the baby in different positions. I would roll over in bed and feel the baby move from one side to the other. I would go for walks and, every single time, it would feel like the baby would move front to back where I would feel pressure on my lower back and abdomen. I tried to get excited about this. I think there were two or three times where I actually felt excited about being a mom. Somehow, these moments were always fleeting.

At 25 weeks, I started to have pains I associated with women in their late third trimester. I had shooting pains down my right leg. I had a lower backache and aches in my hips. I called Cathy because I thought something was wrong, but I couldn’t seem to explain it in a way that caused concern. Lots of pregnant women worry for no reason. When she tried to reassure me, I believed her.

On Wednesday, October 13th, I went to prenatal yoga and noticed how the exercises seemed to help the aches I was feeling. At work on Thursday and Friday, it was increasingly hard to sit still. On Friday night I got a pregnancy massage from Corey. It felt so good when he massaged my hip joints. Unfortunately, the pain would come back as soon as he stopped. Later, in bed, I asked Brad to feel my belly. I could tell it was too firm and too big. Was I having twins? Was the baby somehow deformed?

On Saturday, I went to work at the chocolate factory. I was pacing and leaning forward just like someone in labor. I was getting brown discharge. I called my midwife again. She asked if the pain was coming in waves. I told her it was not, that it was pretty much constant. She said there were no red flags for her. She suggested I go home and take a bath. I did, but it didn’t seem to help. I preferred to be in the shower with the water hitting my lower back. I kept thinking that I was acting just like I was in labor.

I asked Brad to call Cathy again. I knew she would see that I was in labor. When she heard how upset I was, she suggested that I go to the hospital and get an u/s done so that I would know if something was wrong. I cried in panic, “Does she think something is wrong?!” No, Brad said, she didn’t but it would at least give me peace of mind. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and put myself in their control.

I continued to spend most of that Saturday evening in a great deal of pain. I couldn’t sit still. I started to panic at the thought of three more months of this. Finally, exhausted, I lied down on the couch. When my back started to hurt more, I just stayed there. That was when I noticed that the pain was coming in waves. I sat through a couple of more contractions just to be sure. I told Brad that I thought I was in labor. He thought I was over reacting. Shortly after this, I went to bed. It might have been 10:00 pm. I don’t know why I didn’t go to the hospital at this point. In hindsight, I just didn’t want to admit to myself what I already knew at some level. I was in preterm labor. I was one of those women where things don’t go as hoped.

At about midnight, after sleeping fitfully for a bit, I went to the bathroom to discover red bloody discharge. I woke Brad up and told him and then called Cathy. She suggested I go to the hospital because I must be picking up something. If I was in labor, they could give me something to stop it.



We arrived after midnight. The note at the night entrance said that women in labor should go right up to maternity. Brad didn’t think we should because I wasn’t in labor. The guard finally told us to go on up.

Although we were offered a wheelchair, I refused. I wasn’t going to be a wimp about it. When we got to the maternity ward, they checked me in and checked my cervix. I was 90% effaced and 1 cm dilated. Brad was shocked. I was not.

The next 29 hours are not real clear in sequence. The following are the items that stand out.

I recall that my family was there for at least some hours of the night. Kari stayed the night in the hospital with Brad and I. She became a steady companion, supporting both Brad and I over the next several days.

Sometime early on, they gave me a shot of terbutaline to stop labor and started antibiotics. The terbutaline seemed to help. I was also given a steroid in case the baby was born very soon. This, I was told, would help the lungs develop. I did not want the steroids. I knew it was wasted effort. If the baby was born now, I knew he would die. If I was wrong, then I wouldn’t need them anyway. Of course, I didn’t know how to explain this. I said ok to the steroids.

I was told we could do an u/s of the baby the next morning to evaluate his health. I knew the only reason I was in preterm labor had everything to do with the baby. It never occurred to me that there might be something with my body that wasn’t working correctly. Still, I was hoping that I was wrong.

The next morning the u/s tech came in. While she was doing the u/s I asked if she saw much movement. She said no. Babies at this age were usually jumping all over the place. I told her I never felt much movement. In fact, I had never felt any movement. I was to ashamed to admit that. What kind of mother doesn’t feel her baby move?

Later the doctor came in to tell me there was no stomach to be seen on the u/s. This was because the baby had no water in its belly – meaning it couldn’t swallow amniotic fluid. This also caused the build up of fluid in the amniotic sac which caused the preterm labor. They diagnosed esophageal atrecia. I had Stacey look this up on the internet. It could be moderate or severe, but an operation can usually make everything ok. It was the first hopeful news we had heard.

Sunday evening they made arrangements to move me to Deaconess where the only perinatologist in Spokane worked. Dr. C. J. AKA The Birth Nazi.



I was transported to Deaconess very early Monday morning. Before I left Holy Family the doctor – very carefully – checked my cervix and decided I was 1.5 cm dilated.

At Deaconess, the doctor on call, aka “The Resident” said he wanted to check. I had been told my cervix would be very weak at this point, so I asked him why he didn’t just trust the Holy Family doctor. He said their interpretation could be different. He checked and then started reaching around more – not carefully like the previous doctor. I asked, “What are you doing now?” He quickly stopped checking and announced I was 1.5 cm dilated. This was my first hint about how poorly I would be treated.

Several hours later I met The Birth Nazi (TBN) for the first time. I told her I was very anxious to know what was going on because I didn’t want to stop labor and then deliver a baby weeks later who would live but be damaged to the extent that his or her life would be of very poor quality.

TBN didn’t like what I had to say. Perhaps it was because she didn’t know what I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that this baby would not live. Perhaps I seemed cold hearted. But I think that is being too kind. I suspect she didn’t like me telling her that I was in charge of my care and she was merely the consultant. Not of course, in such blunt terms, but rather in the questions and in the way I asked them.

The u/s tech came up a couple of hours later and confirmed the esophageal atresia, but also found the baby had club feet. There was too much fluid to check the heart and brain for other signs of defects. A later u/s was scheduled when they would drain some of the amniotic fluid. TBN assured me Brad could be there during this procedure. Brad took a much needed break from the hospital, but would be back in plenty of time for the procedure.

Not too much later, they told us the procedure would be sooner than expected. Brad hurried back. He got there just in time. Then we waited for almost an hour. Then they told Brad there wasn’t enough room for him. Right before they put me under – they didn’t tell me they were going to put me under and I didn’t, at this point, have the will to fight, I noticed there were student nurses in the room. No one was there to protect me. I was knocked out and surrounded by sharks.

When I woke up, TBN said she removed quite a bit of fluid, and thankfully, didn’t see anything else wrong with the baby that would lead them to suspect a trisomy defect. They sent samples of the amniotic fluid to the lab for a FISH test which should only take 3 days and a longer test to karyotype all the chromosomes that would take 2-3 weeks. The FISH test would only detect the 3 most common trisomy defects, which due to the u/s was expected to be normal.

TBN and the nurses kept telling me how everything would be ok. One nurse called my baby “the little pumpkin” I wanted to scream, “My baby isn’t a pumpkin, he is a jack-o-lantern”. What about the fact that I have never felt movement? The Birth Nazi said the baby could have been sleeping during the ultrasound (all three of them? the whole time?) She said that I didn’t feel the baby because of the extra fluid (never??)

But that is exactly what any person would want to hear and I started to believe it. Brad, such the optimist, had me believing too. Sure, our baby might not be perfect. Maybe he won’t walk correctly, maybe he will need to spend some time in intensive care, but we will do what we can to minimize the damage and maximize the joy. It will be ok.


I started to convince myself it would work out somehow. At this point, I said the one and only prayer I ever said. It is still the last time that I have prayed in any meaningful way. I said, “Dear God, please let everything be ok.” And then I laughed to myself. Of course it would be ok. Somehow, we would make it through this, however it turned out. And like always, God would have nothing to do with it. This is the moment I went from being an Agnostic to being an atheist. There may be more to the world that is dreamt of in my philosophy, but there is not a single, actively involved god.

Soon, they told me they wanted to start me on magnesium sulfate because I was still having contractions. I think it was The Resident who told me this. I cried, but I said ok. I was on it for 24 hours, I think. It is all kind of a blur. Brad said he needed some time alone – which I completely understood – and since I was going to be out of it, this was a good time. He may have spent the night at home that night. I don’t recall and I would have supported whatever his decision was.


I got through the magnesium late Tuesday morning and experienced one of the two relatively happy moments of the whole experience. My mother-in-law came to visit and even though it was October, she managed to find and bring me some fresh picked white raspberries. It had been such depressing, gray days and to have a little bit of summer brought to me – someone who lives for summer. I couldn’t believe it. It was such a happy thing amongst so much sadness. I cried with the pleasure of it!

Soon, however, it was time to talk to the geneticists. They told us the best case scenario is that the baby would never walk correctly, but could otherwise be mentally fine and could have a happy, independent life. They didn’t give us much reason to believe this, however. A baby with two seemingly unrelated birth defects was just not likely. There was probably an underlying cause for both that which would most likely manifest itself in other ways. They didn’t think the FISH test would give us any useful news, but they had hope the karyotyping would find something that might give us a more black and white picture.

This time, both Brad and I were devastated. The geneticists left. I continued to get antibiotics regularly and procardia every four hours. I think they added another drug, but I don’t recall what it was.


Although we didn’t know it at the time, it was now the beginning of the end. Brad and I spent the better part of the evening discussing what we should do. We both agreed that we didn’t want to save the baby at any cost, we just didn’t know how we would make a decision. What if we decided to let labor progress only to find that our baby wasn’t as bad off as they thought? We would be responsible for making him worse. What if we continued to fight labor only to have a baby in another 6-10 weeks (God! How would I survive weeks in this hell hole?!) who was viable but barely anything more? How would we make life and death decisions in the seconds after birth, either now or weeks from now? The responsibility was overwhelming.

I found I was arguing for letting this one go. I knew at some level it wasn’t looking good. It would be ok, we’ll get pregnant easier this time. We’ll start over. We’ll have a healthy baby. Then Brad voiced one of his biggest concerns if I turned out to be right. How do you hold your baby as he dies? Will he suffer? Will he cry?

I was dumbfounded. My god, he’s right. I hadn’t thought about that. What would it be like? How could we get through? And then it hit me: I still had to give birth. I was in a panic. How can I get through labor and delivery of a baby I knew was going to die? All the emotional and physical strength I envisioned needing to deliver a happy, healthy baby. How would I summon that strength when I knew it was for nothing? I was in a panic. I was in hysterics. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I was inconsolable.

At about 10:30, Brad called Cathy and woke her up. I told her that I just realized I would have to still give birth. That this bad situation wasn’t just going to go away. She said, simply, “Yes, you do.” Yes, I do. It would have to be done. I would find a way. There was no easy way out, but I was stronger than this.

Exhausted and terrified, Brad and I held each other on the couch in my room. As we grew weary enough to attempt sleep, I think around midnight; a nurse came in and told me she wanted to hook me up to the IV for another dose of antibiotics. Couldn’t she see that being held by my husband was more important than getting another worthless dose of antibiotics?! Once again, the hospital staff was treating the patient, not the person. I refused the antibiotics.

Eventually, Brad fell asleep. I still lay next to him overcome with grief and indecision. What could I do? Where could I go for help? I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to wake Brad who needed sleep as badly as I did. Finally I quietly took my cell phone and went out into the hall thinking I would find someone to call. The mother-baby floor was deserted. I started to cry so I moved further down the hall so as not to disturb Brad. When my tears became sobs, I found a waiting room. It was also deserted. I sat down and sobbed and sobbed, staring at my cell phone thinking of someone I could call who could help. Should I call a member of my family? What could they tell me? They have no idea what this is like. Should I call Michele –a coworker in Raleigh, NC who lost her baby at 28 weeks. She would probably be getting up in an hour or two. I hardly knew her, how could I wake her up? I wanted to share the pain. I wanted someone to fix it. No one could. I was again having contractions. I wiped my tears and went back to my room.

Brad was still sleeping deeply. It was probably around 2:00 AM. I wondered if I should call the nurse and tell them about the contractions. I didn’t want them to put me on the magnesium sulfate again. I woke Brad up and told him. We talked about options. We agreed we would call the nurse, but would refuse any treatment so extreme.

We called the nurse and they monitored my contractions for an hour. She came back and told me that I wasn’t having contractions. I was – the back pain was exactly the same. I thanked her and stared at the clock. At about 5 AM The Resident came in and I told him that I have been having contractions since about 2:00 even if it didn’t show up on the monitor. I think he believed me. He asked if I had decided what to do yet. I said that I had not. He patted my arm and said I had plenty of time. It was perhaps the only nice thing anyone in the hospital had done.

I am not sure how it happened, perhaps I dozed a bit, but eventually the morning wore on. My midwife Cathy showed up and so did my good friend Stacey. I went to the bathroom and realized I was leaking a lot of fluid. Cathy said my water probably broke and when the nurse came in, we told her. She took my underwear and did a fern test. The results were positive. My water had broken. This was about 10:00 AM

We asked to speak to The Birth Nazi. We wanted to know what the next step would be. Somewhere along the way, Brad and I had come to understand that we would be delivering the baby soon. I continued to have contractions despite the drugs and no one offered another solution. In hindsight, this was a blessing. We did not have to decide whether or not to try to keep the baby for as many weeks as possible.

The Birth Nazi sent word that she couldn’t come and see us until she got the results of the FISH test. She said she had the verbal results, but was waiting for a fax. This was a lie because 1) we knew enough to fully expect the results of the FISH test to be negative and 2) my brother-in-law worked in the lab doing the test and the test was not yet completed. I have no idea what was going through her head. Why didn’t she at least come in and tell us her thoughts? Perhaps tell us what to expect, but she just ignored us.

Understanding that the doctor would not see us, we asked to see the hospital ethicist. We were hoping to find someone who could tell us what to expect – that is, control or lack of control we might have once the baby was born. Would we need to sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)? I knew the baby was going to die and I think Brad was pretty convinced too so the worst thing that could happen was to keep our baby alive only to have him suffer longer than needed. Still, we knew we could be wrong and may decide to treat him, we just didn’t want some stranger making these decisions for us.

At noon, when we still had not heard from anybody, I had grown impatient. I knew the baby was coming and I was no longer willing to lie around trying to keep the contractions to a minimum. We decided to go for a walk to get things moving. I was out of clean clothes, so I put on a pair of Brad’s boxer shorts and wrapped my pink blanket around me. Cathy, Stacey and Brad pushed me out of the hospital in a wheel chair. It was so nice to get outside. I felt my spirits lifted just a little. Once we got across the street, I got up and walked around. We explored the garden across from my hospital window. Then we decided to walk to the Rocket Bakery. On the way, I started to have contractions that took my breath away, but they were still pretty irregular. When we got the Rocket, I waited outside and guarded the wheelchair. I must have been a sight – wrapped in a blanket with socks and Birkenstocks poking out the bottom standing next to a wheelchair.

We ate pastries and drank tea on the way back from the hospital and I continued to have contractions. We talked and laughed – I don’t remember about what. I think we just pretended it was an ordinary day. It was certainly the highlight of the whole, hellish experience. Brad took a picture of me, with Cathy on one side and Stacey on the other. I continued to have contractions. They weren’t too bad, just some times stopped me in my tracks while I breathed until they passed.

We got back to my room around 2:00 pm. We asked again for an ethicist, only to learn the hospital didn’t have one, but they would send in a social worker. The social worker suggested we speak to the neonatologist.

My family also came to visit during this time. I was shocked to learn that I had to convince them as well that the baby would not live. I guess I was expecting compassion and understanding. Instead, I either got an attitude or felt compelled to comfort them. I think most of them did their best, but it was still pretty awful.

The neonatologist was Dr. Pricilla Hancock and she was the only truly decent person we met the entire time in the hospital. At first, she came across like she was trying to convince us to save the baby. She started talking about the likelihood of an otherwise healthy 26 week old surviving. I asked her to talk about the chances of our baby surviving, especially after what the geneticists told us. She was surprised to hear that the geneticists suspected there was an underlying cause that manifested itself in these two ways. She was not given this information from The Birth Nazi. She was also told by The Birth Nazi that she could have kept me pregnant to 34 weeks. Really? You would think she would have shown herself when I started having contractions or when my water broke or sometime before that evening. What a nasty, wicked person.

After that realization, Dr. Hancock was very helpful. I am sure we talked for at least an hour. She said that it was possible that the neonatologist on call would override our wishes, but if we signed a DNR then even if things seemed better than expected, the neonatologist could not treat our baby. We would also only have a short window to make a decision because if they were going to treat our baby, the chances of survival went up the faster they put in an air tube and got to work. We asked many questions to make sure we understood correctly. Cathy asked if we could deliver in a regular birthing room and not in surgery. Dr. Hancock said everything she would need could be brought into the room.

During the entire conversation, I continued to have contractions. Many times I leaned over Stacey’s back while we breathed together. She was so much help. Every time I would start to panic she would say, “Breath” and she would start taking deep breaths with me. It really helped me stay focused on the conversation at hand. Many times, Dr. Hancock would start to leave or say she could come back later, but I wasn’t about to let her out of our sight. At some point toward the end of the conversation, I said with a great distress, “This baby is coming and we still haven’t decided what to do!” Cathy told me that I was probably only 3 cm dilated. I stared at her like she had just told me that the sky had turned green and aliens were landing. The really amazing thing is that I believed her anyway. That is how susceptible the mind is while in labor.

Shortly after, Dr. Hancock left and Brad and I conferred. I wanted to know what he thought first, because I knew he held onto more hope than I did. Fortunately, we were in agreement. We would see what to do when the baby was born. We were fairly confident it would be soon and Dr. Hancock would still be on call.

They sent “The worlds best labor and delivery nurse” (their description) to check on me. We soon discovered that a better description would be “It’s not about you, it’s about me L&D nurse”. We will just call her Wicked Witch.

She checked me and declared that all she could feel was the bag of water and I was ready to deliver. I was rushed upstairs with great fanfare. On the delivery floor, they tried to take me into surgery and stop Brad. Brad was yelling to be let in. I was yelling that since we weren’t trying to save the baby I didn’t need to be in surgery. Cathy said the magic words: Dr. Hancock said I could be in a regular delivery room. I was rushed across the hall.

At this point, I was becoming very uncomfortable lying in bed so I started to get up. Wicked Witch said, “I am NOT going to let you deliver this baby on the toilet.” I said that I just wanted to stand up. To which she replied, “I am NOT going to have this baby drop onto the floor.” I screamed, “We are not trying to save the fucking baby!” Wicked Witch asked if I knew what it would be like to hear my baby cry, what it would be like to hold him in my arms while he died. I said that I did not. I had never done this before. Cathy suggested I stay on the bed on my hands and knees. It worked for me. I faced the end of the bed where I could most easily hold Brad’s hands and look into his eyes.

The room was bustling with people. Dr. Hancock was there with her assistant. The Resident was there – apparently surprised that The Birth Nazi was not returning his calls and was not around. Wicked Witch was there and I think at least one or two other people.

I tried pushing with the contractions –even though I didn’t feel like pushing. Cathy coached me, but I was so scared about what would happen after the baby was born it was hard to push. In between contractions, Brad was picking names and telling me what he came up with. Between one set of contractions, he suggested Beatrice Ann if the baby was a girl. I liked it. Then he came up with Earnest Alason if it was a boy. I liked it and was touched that he would suggest naming our baby after Alason Bah, a good friend from The Gambia. I liked it. I told him that I loved him. He said he love me too.

Cathy then told me that if I would just really push, it would be over soon. I decided that this was good motivation and really pushed the next contraction. Water gushed everywhere. Then it all stopped. After about 5 minutes, The Resident checked me and I had gone back to about 5cm. The baby’s head wasn’t nearly as large or heavy as the bag. Everyone evaporated except Wicked Witch. She said that she had two m/c (she looked about 60) and her husband wasn’t allowed in the room and they took the babies away right after they were born and I was lucky to have my husband there. I guess she was trying to apologize for her earlier outburst. I wonder why she had to make her past my problem.

I was pretty tired and Stacey helped make a bit of a dry nest on the soaked bed. I lay down while Brad and Stacey talked about mundane things. It was nice to just focus on their voices.

Soon contractions started up again and eventually I was getting on my hands and knees to ease the pain. Stacey rang for the nurse twice before they came back. Then they were back in a horde again. I pushed for a few contractions when it felt like the baby was going to break through my back. I asked for suggestions and I think the The Resident might have suggestion lying on my side, but I only really heard it when Stacey said it. I laid down still looking at Brad and holding his hands. I wasn’t pushing very effectively. Not surprising since I was terrified of the decisions we were about to have to make.

I pushed it seemed at least 10 more times before our baby washed out completely limp. We had a boy. He immediately disappeared. I was vaguely aware of Dr. Hancock’s assistance saying that there was an esophagus. The doctor checked herself and confirmed it. She said she needed our attention. I think she may have had to say it twice to get my attention. She told us about the esophagus and we said to put in an air tube.

Then she held up Earnests hands and they were all curled up. She said something that I understood to mean that all they symptoms we saw were because he had no voluntary muscle control. She said that she needed to start CPR and wanted a decision from us. I don’t recall if we exchanged words or just looked at each other. I said to remove the air tube. Dr. Hancock said, “You did the right thing.” She then asked if anyone in the room had any objections and went through the diagnosis again, this time with more medical terms. No one objected. She removed the air tube. She held him up so we could see his entire body. Then she wrapped him in one of the blankets we brought and we held him.

Too short of a time later, I decided to get cleaned up a bit and let my family come in to see him. Brad took Earnest and The Resident pushed on my abdomen to deliver the placenta. As I was doing this, Brad was doing for both of us what I didn’t have the awareness to do. He held our son and told him about us. He told him about our pets and where we live. He told him our names and how we would have taken him for walks through Felts Field. He told Earnest about the pets we had lost and how they would be waiting for him in heaven.

My family came in and my mom blessed him. I held him some more and did what I thought I would wish I had done later when I would be able to feel emotion again. I kissed him on the head. I told him I was sorry. I remember thinking he wasn’t very pretty like that. His color was not right. Eventually, we gave him to Dr. Hancock who took him away.

That night, back in my room on the Mother and Baby floor, I did the only thing I was able to do as Earnest’s mother. I signed as next of kin to have his body released to the funeral home.

That night, Brad and I ate pizza that Hoan and Kristy brought us. We lay down in my hospital bed together and watched TV until we were numb enough to fall asleep. The next morning we checked out and started the long process of healing.

It has now been 2 years and 8 months since our son was born. His ashes sit on an end table surrounded by plants.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Over the last several years, I have often thought about blogging our infertility journey. I just never seemed to get around to it. Partly because I always thought our journey must surely be over soon, but mostly because I just couldn't decide whether it would be helpful or not. I still don't know, but I have decided to give it a try.

Our journey started over 5 years ago when I was 34.4 years old. I will spare the details, but perhaps will share more of the day to day journey in future blogs. In a nutshell, after 6 months of trying to conceive I knew something was wrong. Yes, they say it takes a year of unprotected sex to call it "infertility" (unless you are over 35 . . . and I wasn't 35 yet), but I had been taking my basal body temperature (BBT) and knew we were "hitting the window". I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn't bring myself to face it.

It took 1.5 years to finally get a diagnosis. We were dealing with male factor infertility. The only treatment was to do IVF with ICSI. I just couldn't bring myself to do it, even though our odds were slim to none in conceiving without it. Hubby is an incurable optimist, so he agreed.

On our second IUI, we conceived Ernest with only 400,000 post wash motile sperm. For those of you unfamiliar with MFI, this is nothing short of a miracle. Many studies don't even look at IUI with less than 1 million post wash motile sperm and most put the cut off at 5 million total motile sperm.

25 weeks later (27 weeks pregnant) we experienced our second miracle. With only a 1% chance of loss in the third trimester, I went into preterm labor and our son died shortly after birth due to a likely non inherited genetic mistake. His chromosomes were normal and the geneticists told us it was just plain bad luck.

But we got pregnant on the second IUI so at least we knew that would work for us, right? Wrong. We tried month after month, but finally had to face facts. We made an appointment with the RE just over one year after we lost our son and 3.5 years after we started TTC.

We did our first IVF when I was two weeks past my 38th birthday. We got 6 embryos and transferred two on day 6. We got a low beta two weeks later, but it kept rising so we were trying to be hopeful. 6 week diagnosis: blighted ovum.

IVF #2: 38.5 years old, 8 embryos, put 3 back on day 6, low beta, doubled nicely, h/b at 6 weeks 6 days. At 10 weeks the baby had already died.

IVF #3: 39.1 years old, 8 embryos, put 6 back on day 3 with 1/2 fertilized with donor sperm as an experiment. Negative pregnancy test

IVF #4: 39.4 years old, 14 embryos, only 1 looked good for a day 6 transfer, put back all 6 that were still alive. Chemical pregnancy

Latest advice from RE: Move on to donor eggs

Friday, June 1, 2007

Our infertility adventure so far

December 2001: stopped taking BCP's, I had just turned 34 years old, Brad just turned 33

January 2002: Started charting and reading books like The Twelve-Month Pregnancy

April 2002: Started officially trying to conceive

November 2002: Told my OB that I was concerned because we had been temping and ovulating regularly for 6 months. He thought it was ok to keep trying on or own for 6 more months.

March 2003: Brad and I are sent to Amsterdam to work for 5 months. We decide to stop timing sex, but we do not prevent.

October 2003: We get tested. Diagnosis is MFI. We are told our only avenue is to pursue IVF with ICSI.

November 2003: We make an appointment with the local RE but we are turned off by the receptionist and our "welcome" package. We are also scared of going to IVF.

April 2004: Miracle pregnancy with our second unmedicated IUI.

October 20, 2004: Ernest is born at 27 weeks 0 days. His birth defect causes preterm labor and makes him non viable outside the womb.

2005: We try multiple IUI's. We finally admit Ernest was a miracle and go to the RE

January 2006: IVF #1: (8 eggs, 6 mature, 6 fertilize, transfered 1 grade A blast and 1 grade A expanding blast, none to freeze) BFP - diagnosed as a blighted ovum 2 weeks later

June 2006: IVF #2: (13 eggs, 9 mature, 8 fertilized, transfered 2 grade A expanded blast and 1 grade B expanding blast, none make it to freeze) BFP

July 14, 2006: Brad is out of town, but the clinic refuses to put off the first ultrasound. The RE is also out of town so a nurse does the scan. She incorrectly diagnosis our baby as a blighted ovum. I spend the weekend on the couch crying.

July 19, 2006: HCG is still rising. The clinic sends me to someone who specializes in doing ultrasounds.

July 19, 2006: We saw the heartbeat. It is 6 weeks 6 days, but our baby is measuring 6 weeks 2 days. We choose to stay hopeful.

August 14, 2006: "This is where your baby used to be" are the words of our OB. He was not being unkind, just helping us understand.

August 26, 2006: We miscarry at home. Next time, I promise myself, I will go for the d&c.

December 2006: Drugs in hand to start IVF #3 but we just can't do it. The second anniversary of Ernest's death, my 39th birthday and the holidays are too much. We wait for the next cycle to start.

February 2007: IVF #3: (10 eggs, 10 mature, 8 fertilize, transfer on day 3 with 2 grade 1 and 4 high grade 2, 1/2 fertilized with donor sperm, none to freeze) BFN

March 2007: Our RE starts to groom us for donor eggs. He suggests one more try with my eggs and then right into donor eggs.

May 14, 2007: IVF #4: (20 eggs, 17 mature, 14 fertilize) The embryologist calls to tell us we won't be able to put them all back on day 3 like we planned and recommends growing them to blast. He said it is like he is working with an entirely different couple.

May 18, 2007:
IVF #4: Only one embryo looks good, but it is "a beauty queen" and is hatching. The embryologist suggests just transferring the one embryo, but we decide to put back all 6. BFP but such a low beta we don't go back for beta #2.

July 2007: Meet Belinda for the first time. We feel very good about using her as our donor

August 2007:
Belinda jumps through a bunch of hoops, we take care of legal and we both go on BCP's to synchronize our cycles.

September 2007: IVF #5 with DE: (17 eggs, 16 mature, 9 fertilize; transfer 3 grade A expanded blasts, freeze one grade A expanding blast) BFP Pregnant with a singleton.

June 20, 2007: Our daughter, Little Butterfly, joins the Interesting Times Gang.

Trying for #2:

June 2009:
Transfer our one frozen embryo from LB's cycle with only a 15% chance of success. We are surprised to learn we are pregnant just that easy.

August 4 2009: Released from the RE after good HCG rise, heartbeat and baby measuring on time at 8 weeks 2 days.