Tests tests more tests

Today was our first appointment with a private immunological fertility consultant in hopes they can help with our recurrent pregnancy loss.

It’s the next step in our investigations. All the other standard RMC investigations have come up clean, bar one: the thromboelastogram. But there are the few that remain.

I was strangely reluctant to take this step because 1) it’s one step closer to reaching the end of our investigative journey and that terrifies me because if everything comes back normal then we’ll be left without a plan of action. And 2) because of the potential to spend my life savings on tests and possible treatment plans when it’s possible they aren’t necessary. Can o’ worms so to speak.

One thing’s for sure: trying to keep up with the jargon is exhausting. Cytokine this, antibody that. Here’s what’s in store for us:

Leukocyte Antibody Detection (male / female)
HLA DQ Alpha Antigens (male / female)
NK Assay Panel
TH1 / TH2 Cytokine Ratio
PAI Polymorphism
High Vaginal Swab
Semen Culture & sensitivity
Mycoplasma, urea plasma (menstrual blood)
Karyotyping x 2
Sperm DNA fragmentation
KIR genotype testing
MTHFR

Now comes the test of deciding which of the several possible routes to take. Be armed and get the full picture or forgo the tests and have faith that the thromboelastogram was really and truly the cause for our first four losses and by treating it things will all work out? But what’s our problem? We wanted answers and that’s what we can get.

The RMC doctors’ argument that had our fifth baby not had a chromosomal abnormality then it is quite likely it would have been carried to term is sticking in our minds. It did get further than all the others. Question is whether that’s enough for our peace of mind right now or whether its better to rule out all other options. This knowing comes with a pretty hefty price tag but the benefit of awareness might simply tip the scales.

Coping this week

Man this week has been tough. It’s been only six days since my colleague and close friend has announced she’s been “given” my pregnancy. Yep, transplanted directly from my womb into hers.

I say that. It’s not actually true but it might as well be. That’s how it feels.

Every minute of my work day is torture. She is a living breathing reminder of everything I have lost.

I sit next to her. This sucks.

I’m resentful. I’m hurt. I’m fed up. Why does someone who doesn’t even want a kid get one without even trying? Because that’s life’s cruel joke on me.

I say screw her and her giant coffee she’s drinking all blasé! When was the last time I could drink a coffee without being paranoid it would spontaneously eject the fetus inside me? Must be at least a million years ago.

Now I sit and await the joyous announcement to our office and my best mates. That announcement will condemn me as the token infertile, the failure, the miserable one, the elephant in the room.

But I have taken the first step towards fulfilling my promise to myself. My promise of self preservation. To be out of there as soon as possible. I am on the job hunt. My CV is in circulation. I’ve been in touch with two recruiters. I have extended my holiday so I don’t have to be there when she tells everyone.

Seems extreme I know. But it’s the least terrible solution I can come up with.

And suddenly the promise of a new and anonymous future looks bright. It’s a change a bit quicker than expected, yes. But a good change.

I think.

T minus 39 days.

When did sleeping become so difficult?

Why can’t I sleep? I wish I could remember when I had a good solid night of rest. I used to be able to sleep. To sleep in too.

Now it seems like every night I wake up from nightmares. Or I toss and turn restlessly all night without being able to turn my brain off. But the worst is waking up to that horrible sinking feeling of what has become my life. It’s like for a few seconds I’m light and free, then quickly, once I get my bearings, reality sets in. The anxiety and sadness takes over. It makes me not want to go to sleep at all. I hate waking up to myself crying.

I crave sleep so desperately. I spend all day exhausted, and can’t wait to get into bed. But once I do my mind starts reeling. Second guessing my choices. Imagining what our life would be like if one of our five pregnancies had actually succeeded. Thinking about what our current options are. Replaying the events up to now. What we will do if we don’t succeed. My mind actively seeks this stuff out in the night. It feels like a kind of self punishment. Like somewhere deep inside I know I have let everyone down and I am the one who will have to continue to suffer the consequences, continuously over and over. There will be no rest. It reminds me that whatever progress I have made in my waking hours is nothing. That deep down I know I am still a failure.

I wonder if the subconscious me will ever forgive the awake me. I wonder if that ever goes away.

Self preservation? I’m not convinced.

And just like that I’m deep in the pit again. As low as I’ve ever been.

I’m warning anyone who might be reading this, the text to follow is an outrageous episode of self pity and despair. I encourage you to move on to the next post in your reader now. I don’t want to suck you in to my disgusting display of self sabotage.

Not only is it the first day of my first period since our loss and my husband, AKA security blanket, is away and unreachable but an hour ago one of my closest and dearest friends and colleague of seven years just confided in me that she’s pregnant. Friends have done this before. It hurt and I eventually broke up with them but this one is the lowest blow, through no fault of her own. It’s all me. But I’ve been expecting it. No matter how much I knew this would happen, I’m more traumatised than ever.

She told me before her parents even, because she knows how much pain I’m in. And because we had a deal : she was to tell me as soon as she felt comfortable because I will have to start looking for a new job before she tells our office. Her due date is 3 weeks after mine was meant to be. She is 12 weeks. I now have one month.

She doesn’t even want kids. She’s doing it for her husband. She got the wedding, now he gets the family. That was the agreement, an arrangement made many years ago. Very straightforward. I envy her indifference.

I’ve been preparing for this moment for months. But I had anticipated being there with her, my due date was a few weeks before hers. We are meant to be sharing experiences together, sharing our mat leave together, enduring our new baby anxiety, then sharing childcare as we go back to work. That was the plan. She held up her part of the bargain, I didn’t. I’m the one who let the whole plan go to shit because I can’t carry a child to term to save my life. No matter how hard I try.

I knew when this moment would come that I would have to change jobs. That I could no longer be friends with her. She was one of three people outside of my husband and therapist who knows most of what’s going on in our lives.

So now I will be mourning our friendship. I will be mourning the loss of our shared future. I will be mourning the job that has been so amazing to have when juggling doctors appointments and taking time off for miscarriages and procedures.

But the alternative is unbearable. The alternative is sitting at my desk as our bosses and colleagues gush over her pregnancy for the next 6 months. It is a tiny office we share where no one knows my situation, except for her. I know that every comment, every poke, every conversation will be about her. About the baby. How can I endure that? I can’t. And I hate myself for it. Why am I not brave enough?

She will never make a big deal out of it, and I can thank her for that. Having just had her 12 week scan she is now scared shitless. I wish I could be a good friend and share in that experience with her but I am a coward and I can’t. I simply cannot cope with this information.

I feel hurt. I feel upset that she didn’t tell me sooner when I told her about my high risk pregnancy at 6 weeks. Even though I know why she didn’t. She was pregnant and keeping it from me while I was in the process of losing our baby. I’m devastated. Part of the reason why I confided in her was because she didn’t want to be pregnant, it was an unattached, unbiased kind of support I got from her. I wish I was as strong and solid as her but I was weak, I told her because I needed support. I am furious with myself for ever confiding in her and anyone else.

She sobbed because she knows I am breaking up with her too. Because that’s the end of the road for us. That everything changes from this point. So now I’ve lost another close friend. I will lose my job. I am more alone now than I’ve ever been. And it’s all my own doing. Self sabotage at its finest.

My immediate reaction is to try again as soon as possible so that I can catch up to her. But I know nothing has changed, nothing has been solved, I’m in no better situation than I was before I knew. I still make a habit out of losing babies. And we promised ourselves we would take the time to investigate and try the treatment plans available should new information arise. If we run out and get knocked up now (if it were only that easy) we might be in the same place again a few months down the line. Worse off.

Why is this so painful. Why can’t I cope!? Why can’t I just get it together? Why am I the only one to force this break. I’m willing to lose one of my closest confidants and my job because I simply cannot cope. Why can I recognise everything that is wrong in how I feel and still allow it to destroy me? I truly disgust myself. It is all such a waste.

Back to business

My period. Today is the first sign of it in over four months. Almost one month to the day since my ERPC, six weeks since our baby’s heart stopped. Evidence of my body is getting back to normal. Back to business. Without consulting how I could possibly feel about it. My body has no interest in that, why would it?

But at first sight of blood now I recoil and that anxiety creeps in. I know there’s no baby in there. I know it’s good to get my cycle back on track. But it feels like another kick in the teeth. Yet another reminder of our loss. Yet another reminder we have no children. That teetering tower of Chinese Sticks has collapsed. We have slowly started picking up the pieces and will begin to lay the first ones back down again. To start rebuilding that tower. We are back to the beginning. Back to basics. Sigh.

1:100

A Triploid baby. Chromosomally abnormal. A baby with an extra set of chromosomes.
1% chance of it ever occuring.
1% chance of it happening again.
100% fatal.

I will try not to dwell on statistics.

These are the results of the karyotyping performed on the tissue collected from my ERPC 4 weeks ago. The doctors say it’s a positive sign. I still don’t get why. I’m told it was a totally random occurrence, that it had nothing to do with our age or the health of our egg/sperm. It’s simply a fluke. A horribly painful fluke. They say that next time things might just work out. That maybe the blood thinning really did work this time, and had there been a healthy fetus, things might have been ok. They’ve given us the all clear to get started again. Just like that. Encouragement. Why don’t I feel encouraged?

How should I feel about this? I really have no idea. I feel a bit numb. I feel a bit relieved. I feel a bit anxious. I feel a bit like I’ve let this baby down even though I could never have controlled this. I was never even expecting to even be told the results because 50% of the time they can’t even test it. I was expecting that we’d never know the reason why. I was too stunned to even ask the gender.

There’s a bit of relief learning why this loss happened but it doesn’t take away the pain it caused or alleviate the concern for another loss in the future. Because there is still that. Although we now know the reason why we lost one child we still will never know why we lost the other four. And it feels especially cruel that not only do we have the challenge of overcoming four unexplained early consecutive losses but that we were doomed with a random fatal consequence for the one that might have squeaked through. What are the chances of this kind of outcome for someone with a history of recurrent losses? They can’t even answer that. It feels like one in a million.