All hail me, the antibiotic queen

The last two months have been, shall we say, a bit confusing in Infertility Land. Following my second unsuccessful IVF transfer in November, my doctor was puzzled why three seemingly good (day 5 and 6) embryos had failed to implant. Statistically, given both my and my husband’s genetic screening are normal, it is extremely unlikely that they were all abnormal.

My doctor:

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The most likely candidate for failed implantation in my case (to recap: two failed IVFs, two miscarriages, and a boatload of IUIs totaling more than four years of unexplained infertility) is endometritis.

WTF is that and why does it sound just like endometriosis?

Endometritis is inflamed uterine lining, and I have it. Chronically. And how did we land on this diagnosis? With the most painful biopsy of my uterus I could imagine. I do not mince words here. I have a reasonably high tolerance for pain. I’ve had sporadic kidney stones since I was about 17 years old. I bite down and bear it. A uterine lining biopsy is no joke. I, in fact, nearly fainted. I sat up following the procedure, felt weird, and then hear my doctor and nurse yelling into the hallway for juice and a cold compress as they each grab my hands and check my pulse. It had slowed to about 50/bpm.

This endometritis thing is wack, but at least we’re starting to get some answers. I was asymptomatic, so there was no real reason to test for this before. It’s possible that I contracted the initial infection that lay essentially dormant when I had my D&C for my first miscarriage. The timing of that makes complete sense, actually. Nothing has worked since then. The number one complication of endometritis is infertility. Check! I got that.

I was relieved to have a diagnosis and something to blame the stress of the last few years of fertility treatments on. And thankfully, chronic endometritis is treatable. Just a course of antibiotics should clear it right up! Yes, there would be another painful biopsy waiting for me on the other side of that treatment, but so what?

I dutifully took my two pills a day for three weeks (thanks to a sinus infection prior to my treatment, my course of antibiotics was more like four and a half weeks). Then tried to keep my anxiety at bay for the next invasion of my uterus. You know what helps, though? Valium! The most wonderful nurse on the planet gave me one about an hour before the procedure and I’d slide that pain scale on down to a seven this time around. I was also pretty high most of the day, so I joyfully spent the following few hours in my bed.

Fast forward one week to yesterday… results day. No bueno. The tissue remains inflamed. Three weeks of antibiotics is no match for MY chronic endometritis!

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So, ya know, that’s not fair. The next step is a double dose of antibiotics for two more weeks. And then we biopsy again. Cannot wait for that good time.

In all seriousness, I’m sad. Sad that this easy treatment for this condition we didn’t know I had didn’t work. Sad that the timing of all this effectively prevents us from having a child in 2017, even if I were to successfully get pregnant in my next FET cycle. Which, sure, is fine, but it’s just one more thing that sucks. I made an effort to start the year positively after the last few have beat the crap out of me, and it makes me question why I’m ever positive.

Yes, I’m selfish — I want a baby and I’m pissed that I’ve waited so long to get what I want. Only to just keep on waiting. Now I’m waiting with boxes of probiotics and Monistat to quickly clear the inevitable yeast infection.

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One step forward, two steps back

It’s been just more than seven weeks since I miscarried and they’ve crawled by at a snail’s pace. I didn’t put any expectations on myself to feel better, physically or mentally, in any finite amount of time.

Emotionally some days are better than others. That’s often how grief works.

Physically has been a series of ant hills and mountains. Since I did not miscarry naturally, I assumed the recovery period would be pretty limited. My doctor, who also performed the surgery, told me to expect some heavy bleeding and cramping for a few days, and mentioned to be aware of fevers or other unexpected changes. After a little more than a week, I was feeling more like my pre-pregnancy self. I was tested to ensure that my hormone levels were dropping appropriately, and it was confirmed that they were. After another follow-up, my doctor cleared my husband and I to try again following my next period. She expected that I would see that unwanted, old friend again within about four weeks, perhaps six.

I’m not sure why I thought my body would adhere to the normal timeline — considering that my infertility is largely unexplained — but as I passed weeks four, five, and six without a period I wondered if things were okay. I was feeling fine physically, so what was going on? I consulted Dr. Google (which, really, why do I ever do that?) and fell down a Babycenter rabbit hole. More than two-thirds of the women posting in the thread about post-miscarriage menstruation said they’d actually discovered that they’d almost immediately gotten pregnant again. Reading this, of course, gave me some hope. I mean, this was a lot of women who said this happened.

I even took a pregnancy test on my husband’s birthday thinking wellll… Negative.

Every time I’m tempted to ask myself why not me?, I just stop. Because I’m not those other women. I really never am. None of this has gone my way. I’m more like the one woman who posted that she was 13 weeks post and her hormone levels were still high and no red in sight. Ugh.

This week, though, I’m bleeding like a stuck pig.

Asking why not me? always ends in tears and frustration. This hasn’t been easy. In fact, it sucks. Today I’m feeling a little tired of pretending that it doesn’t. There’s not a handbook for it. I’m writing my own.

On the seventh and twenty-seventh

On April 7th, the morning of my last post, I found out I was pregnant. I cried and laughed and cried. My husband and I celebrated and talked about names. The next few weeks were filled with telling our families the wonderful news and pinning nursery furniture to a private Pinterest board.

On April 27th, I found out I was no longer pregnant. I cried again. Going into our first pre-natal appointment that morning I was both nervous and excited. My biggest concern was that the doctor would say there was more than one heartbeat. While I knew (and know) that I would be incredibly blessed to have twins, the idea is still a bit scary. But our doctor didn’t say there was more than one heartbeat. In fact, there was none; there was just an empty sac. We left our ultrasound unsure of what would come next. There were two possible outcomes, following a blood draw… 1. That I simply wasn’t as far along as we thought (one day shy of seven weeks), despite having had IUI during my ovulation. Or 2. That the pregnancy wasn’t viable and I would miscarry.

I didn’t go back to work that day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on writing about accounting or banking. The only thing on my mind would be that tiny seed-sized embryo that had a due date of my brother’s birthday — December 15th (eight days after my own).

That afternoon I received a call from my doctor with the news. One of the last conversations a woman ever wants to hear. My hormone levels hadn’t progressed in about a week and a half, and my pregnancy — my little Christmas baby — wasn’t viable.

Yesterday, I had a D&C surgery to expel the embryo from my body, as I hadn’t shown significant signs that I would miscarry naturally. It was one of the hardest days of my life, as I’m positive it is for any woman who has to physically have something so important taken from her too soon.

I’ve been through plenty of death — I unexpectedly lost my stepfather nearly four years ago to a heart attack — but nothing has ever felt quite like this pain. I think each loss in one’s life is a little different. This one has left a tightness in my chest and a hole in my heart. There’s nothing I ever wanted more in life than to be a mother. I still do, but this will always be a part of me.

After being rolled out of the OR and into recovery yesterday, I apparently told my doctor that the next time I came to that hospital it would be to have a baby.

Over the last few days it’s hard not to question a lot of things. I question why I haven’t gotten the job as mama yet when a woman across the country can give birth at work and then tie up her helpless child in a plastic bag like trash. But there will always people have what I would like and yet make horrifically awful, selfish decisions with what they’re given. Life will never be fair.

I know a few of you reading here have experienced this rollercoaster of emotion — from the day the second line on the stick appears, to the day you’re no longer with that joy — and some, even more than once. My heart breaks for you as it does for my own Christmas baby. Experiencing this more than once must be excruciating, and I have so much respect for those of you that have and continue to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not sure I could.

For now, my husband and I will grieve for our Christmas baby. Then, soon, we’ll continue to apply for the jobs we really want — of mama and daddy. Hopefully without a dampened spirit, and only enthusiasm for the day we again see two pink lines.