My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I would be tried for murder in Georgia

I'm not normally one for political opinion.  I only keep myself moderately educated on what's going on in the world so for the most part, I don't feel educated enough to comment.

But apparently, there is a new law being introduced in Georgia that would have someone in my position tried for double homicide and given the death penalty.

Here is the article about the new law.

According to that law, myself and my doctors would be felons, tried for double homicide, and put on death row.

Dear Rep Bobby Franklin,

I am the woman you would like to see killed at the hands of state prosecutors.

Prior to my pregnancy, I began prenatal care.  I took metformin to prevent diabetes, lost about 15lbs, and started taking prenatal vitamins a month or two before I was pregnant.

Unlike most women, I had the benefit of knowing the date and time of my conception.  Every moment of my conception was monitored by doctors so there was not a single minute of my pregnancy in which I did not know that I could possibly be pregnant.  For most pregnancies, there is a 2-5 week window in which a woman can be pregnant with no way knowing that pregnancy has occurred.  Many women miscarry during this window and never know they were pregnant.  Should we be sending you samples of all of our menstrual tissue to be tested for signs of a 2 week old lost fetus?

I was pregnant with twins.  Those twins were suspected by week 2 and confirmed by week 6.  Many women might confirm a pregnancy, but may or may not know that they are pregnant with twins.  Prior to the first ultrasound (and sometimes even after), a second fetus is undetectable and can be reabsorbed into the body due to VTS with no one ever knowing that second fetus existed.  Again, how would you like to be made aware of a lost twin that no one knew existed?  Because according to your law, the surviving fetus should be prosecuted for absorbing the body of the lost twin.

I had the benefit of access to some of the best medical care in the country.  I live 15 minutes from the largest hospital complex in the state of Washington and the health insurance and financial support of family to ensure that whatever care was recommended, I was able to to receive it.

Throughout my 19 week pregnancy, I saw a doctor a minimum of once every 2 weeks.  It is generally recommended that a woman be seen every 4 weeks or so.  But due to the fact that I had twins, it was an IVF pregnancy, and I was just a generally concerned first time mother, I had double the monitoring as considered standard for a healthy pregnancy.

I did no heavy lifting, I ate nothing on the no-no list, I washed up whenever I touched anything that might carry germs.

I was tested for infection around the 17 week mark and found to be clean.  I was tested for diabetes 10 weeks earlier than most women are and when it was found to be positive (despite my preventative measures), I monitored my blood glucose levels and we found that I was already following what the doctors would advise and there was nothing further I could do at that time to keep myself healthy.

At 18 weeks, I was tested for everything under the sun just to be on the safe side.  At 18 weeks and 4 days, I received all of the test results from my perinatologist and told that every test they could possibly run came back showing the three of us to be in perfect health.  All of my numbers were dead center in the range that they were supposed to be.

At 18 weeks and 5 days, I began to have cramps.  Around the midnight hour, I was in the ER in full labor.  The doctors were able to stop my labor.  Even so, my water broke and the fluid that was released showed proof that one of my girls had been in distress. 

As we moved to the 18 week and 6th day, we now knew that the girls had an infection.  As identical twins, once it was confirmed from the fluid of the first twin, it was inevitable that the second twin had the infection as well.

There were three options.

Wait for nature to take its course.  Since my body did not begin labor again naturally, had we been forced to wait for nature (as your law would demand), my body would not have expelled the infection until it had spread to my uterus.  From there, the uterus would have to be removed for me to survive.  That is, IF it did not spread enough to kill me despite all efforts.

Induce labor (breaking your law) and allow my girls to suffer as they inevitably died.  And by the time I finished labor, the infection might have taken me as well.

Or do a D&E (again, breaking your law) and remove the girls before they suffered, and allow me to keep my uterus so that I might have another chance to bring children into this world.

We opted for a D&E.  2 lives were inevitably lost.  Had we not opted for a D&E, a third life probably would have been lost as well.  And the embryos that I have in storage probably would have been destroyed rather than given a chance to become living children.

Mr. Franklin, since you believe I deserve to die, can you please pinpoint the crime that I committed and how I could have prevented it?  Because I can't find it.  And my doctors can't find it.  You want to kill me for the sin of surviving.

Believe me when I tell you that my survival of this ordeal is punishment enough.  Had your law been in effect, I would have left the hospital in either handcuffs or a body bag.  This law is not pro-life.  It would have killed me, killed my girls, and prevented the children I hope to have in the future from ever existing.

A Miserable Miscarriage Mama

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I don't have cancer

Ok, how crappy is my year going that learning I don't have cancer is actually a surprise?

Let me explain.

I have pale skin and several dark moles.  A couple of years ago, I went to get a torso check with the dermatologist and they removed one of my moles right then and there.  All tests came back benign, no problem.

So last week, I notice that my major mole, right in the middle of my stomach, it's oh so sexy, had scabbed over.  And I scratched it a little bit and it bled.

Oh crap.  That can't be good.

So I make an appointment to have my moles checked again and kind of resign myself to the fact that I'm probably going to have a brand new medical catastrophe thrown at me.

But no, nothing to be worried about.  She said that sometimes moles do that and she doesn't see anything to be concerned about.  Asked me about my bathing habits, how much soap do I use, stuff like that and compliments me that I'm doing everything exactly right and I have really beautiful skin.


Except for this damned rash I have on my forehead and around my hairline.  Basically dry patches that I kind of flake off with my nails every day so depending on where I am in the process, every day it's either flaky or red and inflamed.

Turns out I basically have dandruff on my face.  Again, oh so sexy.  And a touch of rosacea.  She gives me a mild antibiotic to clear up one of those issues and tells me to shampoo my hair and face (yes, shampoo my face) every day alternating between a formula with zinc (Head and shoulders) and that selenium acid stuff (Selson Blue).

So yay!  We're finally gonna clear this up!  But boo, if I shampoo my overly thick hair every single day, that means I'm walking around with wet hair for several hours every day.  Or spending a solid half hour with a hair dryer.  Washing my hair is a major time commitment unfortunately.  But I'll do it.  I'm really sick of this crap on my face and this should clear up my itchy scalp too.

She also froze off this perpetual mini scab I have on my cheek.  We're hoping it will heal flat finally.  So I have one of those little spot bandaids on my face at the moment to prevent me from picking at it.

And that's my exciting life.  Aren't you glad you popped by to read about it?  I'll try to do something interesting at some point, I promise.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crawl out from under the rock, go running back under

Had a video shoot this evening with a very nice client.  I film her kids plays and it always goes well.  There's actually some talent at that school and fortunately, the kids of the person who hires me do have really spectacular voices and good acting skills.  It's so refreshing to be able to praise honestly rather than being all fake about it.

The last time this particular woman saw me was 2 days before I ended up in the ER.  I did a small business profile for her salon and I was fatter than usual and in the happy stage.  You know that stage where you tell everybody and their mailman that you're toting twins in the tummy.

So last week, I finally figured out how to politely let her know that I will not be giving birth in the spring as expected and would thus be available to film the spring musical.  She writes me back with all due sympathy, and her kids are in a show the following week.

Awesome!  A paying gig with a good client!

Went to the show went well.  A few rays of talent within the high school crowd.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten how the lead character dies.  Well, that triggered me like crazy.  Held it together until I could get my stuff packed after the show but had to ask my second camera operator to kind of block for me so I can get through the crowd of milling parents with my head down.  She shows me a back door and as soon as I step outside, I completely lost it.  I'm just crying into a wall and my friend is trying to figure out what to do.

She's a friend that I work with, but not a call on the phone and spew all of my emotions to type of friend.  Well, she got spewed on.  Sorry about that C.  Didn't mean to.

All I could think was that 2 months ago, I almost died.  And my babies DID die. 

THIS is why I'm not out in public very much.  I'm mean really, a high school production of Our Town can make me cry?  Ugh!  I hate this.  I hate being someone who hears my own situation in every song lyric.  Who sees more meaning in the stupid every day stuff.  Someone who just cries.

I get home and K can see it on my face.  "You ok?"  "no"  "drama too much for you?"  "yes"  And I start crying all over again.

K just got cast as Charlie Chaplin in a play.  He's trying to refer to the roll as Chaplin, but obviously I'm hearing the name Charlie a lot lately.

Where's that rock?  I'm crawling back under.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear K,

In the 12 months since we celebrated our last Valentine's Day, a whole lot about what I knew to be true has been proven wrong.  Every knowledge I was secure in, kaput.  Some of those "truths" include:

  • I have a friend who's incapable of being mean and wouldn't chose to do so even if she were capable of it.  
    • Bitch
  •  I can't get pregnant.  
    • With help I can apparently, and with twins!  Who'da thunk it?
  • Once we're past the first 3 months, it's safe to not just hope for kids but to actually plan for them.  
    • At least now we have an awesome closet
  • I have really, REALLY thick hair.  
    • Seriously, my ponytail used to be huge and now it's half the size, wtf?
  • I will never tolerate more than 10 minutes at a time on the treadmill, and I'll agonize over every second of those 10 minutes.  
    • I'm averaging about 15 minutes before I look to see if I can stop now
  • If anything is dependent on me following a proper diet, I'm completely doomed.  
    • Apparently not, I can actually figure out things like protein and carbs and crap and follow a plan if it's important enough
  •  I suck at math.
    • I have seen more numbers in more configurations in the last month than I ever thought could ever exist.

To me, all of these things were universally true.  My faith in everything I know has been turned upside down.

Everything except one thing.  You.  You are here, you will always be here, and I like you.  I really really like you.  And with everything around me falling to shit, I'm struck by how secure I am in you.  I know we're not the couple with our hands all over each other and schmooping all over the place when we're in public.  We don't make people want to gag by being "THAT couple" anymore like when we were first together.  But what we lack in schmooping, we make up for in security and a genuine affection.  The affection is so deep, we don't have to prove it all the time.

I wish I could love you more today than other days, but my love for you overflows every day of the year.  I love you every minute of every day.  I always will.  Happy Valentine's Day sweetie. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why are you so hard on yourself?

At grief counseling today, one of the things the counselor said is that I seem to be pretty hard on myself.

Yeah, in some ways I am.  And there's a reason for that.

The reason is, I have not lived up to the advantages I've been given.  And considering all of those advantages, how dare I feel anything but grateful?  And how dare I be anything but successful?

And yet, I'm miserable and struggling.  So many people on the planet have so much less than me, and yet they are able to make something of themselves and find joy in the simplest of pleasures.

I grew up with 2 parents who adored each other as well as me and my brother, they protected me from anyone who might hurt me, they provided a stable place both emotionally and financially for us to grow up.  After a few years on my own, they had both the means and the generosity to bail me out when I got in over my head due to my own mistakes.  My grandmother chose to give away her inheritance while she was still alive so I had an infusion of a significant amount of money for a lot of years.

I have the advantages of 2 working legs, 2 functioning arms and hands, and raw intelligence.  I was guaranteed a college education by my parents so I didn't join the adult world uneducated or in debt.

And yet here I am, well beyond the youth stage, and I'm no further along in life than I was 15 years ago.

For the most part, my body works as it should.  Ok, not in the fertility department, but just about everything else works.  And yet instead of using what I was given, I've squandered it by eating too much crap and not exercising.

I've been given every financial advantage and again, I've squandered it by not investing it or working hard enough to earn my own way so I could put those bonus finances to better use and now I'm in the shit again.

I have no mental impairment but I haven't been able to leverage that to further a career or accomplish much more than the occasional witty facebook status that falls flat and therefore, must not be too terribly witty.

Our president grew up with a lot fewer advantages than what I was given and look at what he's accomplished for himself through hard work.  There are people running marathons who lost their leg and have to use a prosthetic, but that didn't stop them from keeping fit and pushing forward.  There are so many people with limited mental capacities due to down syndrome or other ailments and they are holding down jobs because they are hard workers with good attitudes.

It's really hard to accept that my hardships are bad luck, or the economy, or whatever else people might tell me to try to make me feel better.  The simple fact is, I'm an adult and I'm not self sufficient.  And I've been given a whole lot more than my fair share in life that I haven't done anything to earn other than be born into the right family. 

So yeah, I'm hard on myself.  And I damned well should be.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Afraid of not sleeping

So far, I have not gone to bed a single night since it happened without taking a sleep aid of some sort.

I used to be a horrible insomniac.  So on the one hand, I have plenty of experience and knowledge about sleeping pills, on the other hand, I also know the torture of lying in bed at night without sleep coming any time soon. 

I had surgery on my face to fix sleep apnea a few years ago and since then my sleep has regulated.  The change was actually quite dramatic.  I used to be 50% asleep 24/7.  Since I never fully slept, I never fully woke either, which made trying to go from awake to asleep just torturous.

I'm terrified of experiencing that again.  If I lie there for more than a half hour, I'm going to turn into a sobby mess because my brain will start to go over the horribleness of December.  If that happens, I'll not only be awake, but I'll be uncontrollably sobbing in the middle of the night all by myself because I don't want to wake K when he has to get up in the morning.

I don't particularly want to have emotional breakdowns.  I really don't want them in the middle of the night by myself.

At this point, I've probably built up a tolerance so I'm not even sure the ambien is actually doing anything.  So most nights, I'm cutting the pill in half (or even smaller portions when I can) and at least taking it for the placebo effect.  If I'm not afraid of lying down to sleep, I might actually sleep. 

But at some point, I have to go to bed without taking popping a pill in my mouth.  That's friggin scary.

All-In vs Desperate Flailing

When I first discussed going all-in, I was thinking that I had to incur the debt of prepurchasing some plans that allow for multiple attempts.  Get my hands on every penny and bit of credit I could get my hands on and invest in those multiple attempts so that no matter how broke we are, or how often we might fail, we can still try again for what's really important.

Despite my "pulling back" posts, we're still going all in.  We've just discovered that the way I wanted to go about it was actually just desperate flailing.

We've made the commitment to ourselves that no matter what it takes, we are going to keep trying until we're successful.  However, it's smarter to invest financially piece by piece rather than all at once.

If we prepurchased a $50,000 plan that afforded 3 attempts - if we get pregnant on that first attempt, we don't get to keep the other two.  The contract ends.  All we've guaranteed is that the child cost us $50k.

But if we do this piece by piece, if it takes us 3 attempts, that same child could cost us $70k.  Or it's very likely that it will cost actually only cost the initial $20k that we're investing in the one fresh+frozen cycle.

So knowing that I'm a very good candidate for IVF, that it's very likely that either fresh or frozen attempt will indeed result in a child, it's not a smart gamble to guarantee ourselves $50k in debt when it's very likely we can get the same result from $20k.

So that's the math that we're doing right now.  How do we do as much all-in as we can without crossing the line into desperate flailing.  Desperate flailing doesn't help matters at all and can hurt us in the long run.

If the early attempts don't work, we will likely spend more in the long run.  But when we decided that we were all in, we committed in our minds that we will keep trying, damned the costs.  But it's a smarter decision to incur this debt piece by piece until we don't have anymore pieces rather than guarantee we run out of pieces when we probably don't need to.  Who knows, what we save in interest by not incurring that debt today might actually equal whatever a third attempt costs us a few years from now.

I failed math once when I was younger.  I chose career paths that avoided math.  I can not believe how much math I now do in my life.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almost got a tattoo

I have a tattoo.  It's the comedy/drama masks and represents how important the theater was for the first 25 years of my life.

And immediately after the miscarriage, all I wanted was some permanent etching on my body of my girls that would never go away.

I thought about using the image I had used in the blog post to announce my two girls, but then realized that any version of connecting female symbols would communicate "lesbian" and not "twin girls".  Lesbians are awesome, but not what I was hoping to honor with a permanent skin scar.

Besides, K hates tattoos.  So I was trying to figure out where I could put something small that would be hidden most of the time, but wouldn't be in K's face every time we proved that there is sex after miscarriage.

I told myself that I would give it a year before making any permanent life decisions.  Frantic grief isn't really the moment to be changing your body or your life in a way that can't be unchanged again.

And then it occurred to me - shards of my pottery are going to outlast me by centuries.  Possibly thousands of years.  How do we know how the greeks lived?  Archeologists dig up their pottery!  And every day, I'm creating an archeological archive of my own existence when I'm out there playing in clay.

So I've redesigned my signature stamp.  It's always been just my initials from my original name with all of the vertical lines connected - MMR.

Here is the new design -

2 circles, in the same position they were in inside my body, and the cross of the female symbol on the vertical.

And here's the new stamp in action on the bottom of a teacup I just made.

Thousands of years from now, a shard of pottery with that symbol will be found.  And while they won't be able to interpret the story of what it means, I don't care.  Someone will see that they existed, even if that person doesn't know what they're looking at.

Pulling back

We now have more information to work with and apparently, going all in right now isn't as smart as I had originally thought.

It turns out that on the plan we prepurchased, we have one frozen transfer already paid for (the clinic fees anyway).  What I didn't know is that's a limited time offer.  If we do a frozen transfer before May, it will cost us about half of what that same transfer will cost June and beyond.  And that we will have a bunch of storage fees after that.

The other thing we didn't know is that all of those packages that allow you to purchase 2 or 3 fresh+frozen cycles, well, as soon as you bring home a child, whatever you haven't used to get that first child are no longer available.  AND they don't allow you to do fresh cycles back to back.  You have to do your fresh cycle, then use up your frozens before you can do another fresh cycle.

Since my medical history has proven that it's very likely that I will get pregnant in one of the early attempts, it doesn't make sense to prepurchase several attempts if I can't keep those attempts available for a second child.

And the single purchase options are changing at the end of this month because my clinic just merged with another clinic.  So the option to prepurchase a single fresh+frozen cycle at a discounted rate will disappear if we don't have the deal in place prior to March 1.

So here's the plan, according to this moment, subject to change of course.

We're going to prepurchase that next fresh + frozen cycle today.  Get that deal in place and locked in.

Next month, we will do a frozen cycle.  We are still going to have to invest in the medications so it will still have some cost associated with it, but it's kind of like buying a lottery ticket today while still investing in a retirement plan.  The frozen cycle today is the $2 lottery ticket but we're still going to put our real money into the retirement plan.  Now how many embryos we transfer is still up for debate.  The doctors would probably recommend we use up 2 of the 3 embryos.  I'm kind of thinking of playing it really conservative and only transferring 1 and see if we get lucky with that 1 while keeping the other 2 in the bank for the future.

If that 1 pays off, we'll still be investing in that fresh + frozen cycle at todays discounted rate that we can use to try to get our second child a few years from now.

If that 1 doesn't pay off, then we'll do the fresh round this summer.  Hopefully, that will yield our first child, plus another young embryo or two to add to that bank account.

If the fresh round doesn't pay off, we're pretty much back to where we are now, with one frozen attempt half paid for to be used up a few months later but with the best possible embryos in the bank.  At that time, we do just like we're doing now and decide to use up some embryos in a frozen transfer or losing out on that discounted frozen transfer and reinvesting in another fresh round.

Now if this first frozen transfer pays off, and a few years down the road we decide that we're happy with one child, we can get a refund on what we're prepurchasing today because we won't have used up any of those purchased services yet.

So it doesn't make sense to commit all of our financial avenues to prepurchasing several attempts when I'm not allowed to bank those attempts anyway and it's very likely we won't use more than one or two of them.

Instead, we've committed to digging this financial hole as deep as it needs to go to get to the gold we're seeking.  But it makes more sense to use a shovel and hope to find gold before the hole is too deep than to come in with power tools that will dig that hole to the bottom regardless of whether or not the gold is on the top layer of dirt.

So everyone, cross your fingers that our first frozen attempt sees us bringing home twins so we can put back some of that dirt that we're going to dig out today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brain in overdrive

In the next few days, we are going to make the decisions that will dictate the rest of our lives.

How far in debt do we go and what is the potential payoff?  How do I maximize the potential payoff with the minimal amount of debt?

I made a chart of potential outcomes depending on how we spend the next 12 months.   The colors get darker as I get older, and the embryo ages are demonstrated by the colors of their own cells.

Yes, I'm trying to predict the most unpredictable thing in the world.  Our IVF attempt yielded 1 pregnancy and 1, possibly 2 frozen attempts.  So while there's no guarantee that our numbers will be similar in future attempts, that's the only data I have to go on.

Obviously, the best thing is to buy 3 fresh cycles so I have as many chances in life as possible.  But look at how similar the chart for 2 fresh cycles is?  And what is really weird, is that it almost looks like I have my best chance at growing old with 2 children if my first IVF attempt fails and I'm able to start the second one back to back.  So that by counting on the second attempt to bring us our first living child will afford us the most possible, best attempts and producing a second child a few years later.

So, is that third fresh attempt, that we will likely never get to, or will get to when I've gotten old enough to lower my chances below using frozen from my younger self, well, is the cost/success ratio a good investment?  Can I even get my hands on enough cash up front to invest in that third attempt, even if I want to?

If my next 2 fresh attempts don't bring me my first child, I'm going to need to take a break.  In the last 10 months, my body has been through 1 aborted IVF cycle, 1 complete IVF cycle, and 19 weeks of being pregnant with twins.  Add 2 more fresh IVF cycles and that's a LOT for the body to go through over the course of just more than a year.  Would taxing my body for yet another IVF attempt before I turn 37 be beneficial or would my chances be better if I took 6 months off at that time to rest before starting with my frozen beans?

And while finances are going to stress me out to the max, would the stress of that third cycle of debt lower my chances of success more than having that attempt in the bank will increase them?

Ok folks, please sound off here.  Am I just trying to talk myself out of not going for that third attempt because I'm so terrified of the money that I'm trying to justify it?  Or is this perfectly intelligent reasoning I'm using here and coming to the conclusion that 2 attempts might be better for my family in the long run?

We sit down with the financial department of the clinic tomorrow.  They've set aside an hour so we can really hash this out.  I'll have actual numbers to work with tomorrow.  Tomorrow, it gets REALLY scary.