Ectopic


My beta level today is 17.  Down from 217 last week, I think.  I have already picked my transfer date: January 8th.  This is two days after we return from our New York trip, and one day after my mammogram.

Mammogram.  Ugh!  This will be my second six-month follow-up to last January’s biopsy freakout.  My first six-month follow-up in July was a four-hour extravaganza, ultimately negative.  This one should be quicker, and after that I should go back to once a year.  But the trauma of my ectopic pregnancy has me worried sick about my mammogram.  Statistics are NOT my friend.  Scheduling a mammogram the day before a transfer is just… asking for it.  But I’m sure as hell not scheduling it just before Christmas (so I have to wait through the holidays for a biopsy appointment?) and I’m not going to skip it, and I don’t want to have it during the 2 week wait or during my pregnancy.

If any.

How I wish we could do these things like Little Betty, my cat.  They knock her out, clip her claws, check her teeth, do other things to her that I don’t want to know about… I would really like that for me.  A huge shot of that yummy twilight stuff, and then mammogram – how ? they would get my girls onto the cold steel plates when I’m not standing up ? So not my problem – pap smear, full leg and bikini wax while they’re Down There, colonoscopy, clean my teeth, wax my brows and touch up my roots.  THAT’s a full day behind the red door.  I would wake up smooth, blonde, and giggling, and only start to feel completely violated a few hours later.  I would miss the back-and-forth-for-more-pictures drama that is my mammogram day, and just wake up when they made up their minds what-all they were seeing in all those pictures.

Oh well.

My beta HAS GOT to come to zero next Tuesday, because that will be day 16.  My doctor will let me start Lupron on day 21 only if my beta gets to zero before then.  If not, I’ll have to wait a whole ‘nother cycle before I can transfer, pushing things to early February.  Not the end of the world unless you’re ME, full of grief, rage and impatience.

I’m having a lot of sulky, petty, angry feelings about people getting pregnant on the first try, getting to be pregnant for Christmas, getting to be pregnant at all, getting pregnant from actually having sex with their husbands, actually having a baby at the end of their pregnancy, having a pregnancy that lasts more than 5 weeks.  Et cetera.  Just bitter.

This means I am going to become grudgy and entitled, thinking that of course this cycle will be the one because it’s my turn, after all I’ve been through, and it’s not fair, when none of that has the slightest effect on reality.  It’ll be my turn when it’s my turn, if ever, and there’s no fair and there’s no justice and things might suck for me for a whole lot longer.  There’s just no way of knowing.

What a downer.  If you want happy posts go look up all the pregnant people.  I’ll still be here sulking.

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I love my clinic again.  Oh, yes, I was so breaking up with them back in September but now I’m like Lancelot in "Camelot" crooning "if ever I would leeeeeave you, it wouldn’t be during my ectopic, until I get more Vicodin, I never woooould gooooo… and you did get me pregnant, two times out of three, and now we’ve got nine embryos frozen, and I don’t want to pay the exorbitant $250 embryo release fee…"

Ah, sorry.  Lack of sleep and too much pain reliever. 

I’m still in pain but they were so nice to me.  Did an ultrasound just to make sure there were no surgical complications or pelvic drama, and then the doctor made some other poor infertile souls wait while she talked to me, tried to figure out if I need stronger drugs, and was really sympathetic and wonderful.  Today is better but I’m so freaked out by yesterday that I’m taking it slow and having Danny send over my next installment of Vicodin within the hour.

The doc says I can probably schedule my FET for early January, about a cycle and a half from now, assuming my betas come down within a few weeks.  This is what I hoped for and gave me the opportunity to create a category for IVF#5.

Edited to add: I found out my beta has fallen to 217 (from probably over 10K last Thursday).  Niiice!  I have to say that despite this cycle’s tragedy, the beta numbers have been very cooperative, both on the way up and the way down.  I never thought I’d say that.  I hope to hit zero next week and maybe I’ll get to move to #5 sooner. 

I have never experienced anything like these cramps.  I was in agony for most of yesterday.  It hurt too much to cry.  I took a Vicodin every two hours from 4:00 on and it had very little effect.  I lay down and tried to breathe and watched CSI for five straight hours.  I thought about going to the emergency room but I didn’t know what they would have done for me.  I’ve had bad cramps since I was eleven years old and never had anything like this.  I slept OK from 3 til about 7 am and now I have to go to the clinic for blood draw.  I doubt they’ll do anything for me either.  In the background there is something about Thanksgiving, getting the house cleaned, losing our baby, but right now there is so much pain and exhaustion I’m just hoping to survive.

Today I actually put on jeans, left the house and drove the car.  woo hoo.  The jeans fit better than they did before my cycle, so that is a good thing.  I saw an IRL friend for lunch who I bumped into at my clinic a few weeks ago.  She’s in the middle of IVF #2, two week wait.  It was nice.

That’s all I can think of to say that is positive.  I am having mind-melting, horrific cramps and the kind of epic period one would expect.  I have had a few 3-Aleve periods in my life, not many.  This is definitely one.  I am about to take a Vicodin and go huddle up with the heating pad.

I’m feeling sort of better.  The hellish neck and shoulder pain was greatly alleviated by a massage yesterday.  I had asked my doctor for a muscle relaxer since the first night after surgery was so amazingly bad, but she fobbed me off with ibuprofen.  It helped some, the massage much more.  I don’t know if my doctor thinks I’m well-read enough to expect things like the weird shoulder pain, or if she just doesn’t bother to disclose every little bad thing that might happen.  This was kind of a big thing that is well-known after this surgery so I’m not happy about that.  I was dead set on having surgery, and we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, so I’m inclined to just shrug it off under the general heading of Why Doctors Suck (Sometimes). 

I was a little worried about how detached I felt from this loss.  I needn’t have.  I am definitely sad enough now.  I am able to handle reading some pregnant blogs, some not.  I dreaded a return of Tuesday’s unbearable shock and grief but it’s not like that.  At times like Tuesday when bad news is so unreal, half of my pain comes from worry about how long it will last and how I’ll get through it.  Now I think we’ll get through it just fine, it’s just about once a day (or maybe seven times) I have to cling to my husband and sob.  We lost our baby.

But I am comforted, too.  Ectopic is a horrible twist of fate.  But I got what I wanted: a vibrant pregnancy, strong betas, and morning sickness.  I can dwell on the irony or I can accept this as progress.  It’s not like me to miss a chance for anger or to feel cheated, but for the moment I don’t.  I can’t honestly say I’m no closer to having an actual baby – I feel that we are, and some of the unbelonging I always felt has been lifted.  I can get pregnant and actually stay pregnant a little while.  I am not the problem.

In addition to my neck and shoulder and ribcage feeling better, I’m having resolution in other areas.  Four days of constipation is finally almost over, and I think I’m having cycle day 1.  I don’t know if my betas will come down any time soon, and I don’t know how it is that I can have a period when betas are still high, but I guess I’ll ask Dr. Google, and we’ll see about my betas come Tuesday.  If my cycles can resume and get normalized sooner rather than later I guess I am lucky.  That was one reason why I chose surgery; I hoped for closure.

It’s a blue day, for sure.  I’ve finished my books and I’ve seen all the movies worth seeing.  And some not – I wasted $3 and two hours on "Wild Hogs," a ridiculous, unbearably bad piece of movie garbage that insults men, women and gays with equal malice and idiocy.  Iiiick.   I’m going to try and actually do something today.  We had to cancel our cleaners on Thursday and don’t have any hope of finding anyone else to clean our filthy house in this, the week of Thanksgiving, so my husband is going to do most of it and I will do what I can. 

Holy crap what did they do to me?  I knew from reading about my procedure (laparoscopic surgery) that they would have to pump me full of some kind of gas to make room for the instruments and scopes.  I expected to feel general horror in the belly area, like – well, like I got pumped up like a balloon.  Achy, stretchy and generally violated.  But I did not expect my neck, shoulders and ribs to be incredibly sore too.  Despite my generous applications of Vicodin, I slept the night in 20-minute increments due to neck and back spasms and some kind of stabbing pain that feels like a bruised rib.  Eventually I found a body pillow and that helped.  Being able to only sleep in one position is an achy business.  It was pretty crowded in the bed with me, my acute misery, my 6’3" husband, a person-sized pillow and a little kitty who insists on sleeping on top of my ankles or right behind my knees.  This is the same kitty who knows exactly when to step on painful pregnant boobs and has nailed both incisions with her pretty white paws already today.

So, that sucks.  Except the kitty, she’s still really cute.  I’m quite useless and can only manage one or two minor tasks (going to the bathroom, say) on any excursion out of bed.  For the record, I did not drive myself home yesterday.  After general anesthesia that is several kinds of illegal and would have been completely impossible.  It was my husband who had to pull over more than once just so I could decide whether or not to throw up.  Thankfully there was no barfing.  That would have hurt a lot.

Which brings me to gratitude, first for my husband who has taken really good care of me.  Waking at 4 am to help us decide whether to go to the clinic or the ER, holding my hand literally all day at the hospital, going to chase down water and whatever else I needed from the nurses.  Wearing my wedding ring on his pinky finger all day since they made me take it off (I think they were thinking of electrocuting me or something).  Pulling over on the way home and coming around to my side of the car just to hold me in my dizziness as rush hour traffic roared by on the expressway.  Running over to the pharmacy to get my Vic… Danny, the world’s best pharmacist, took one look at a prescription for Vicodin for a supposedly pregnant woman and knew all was not well – and sent his "deep regrets".  Giving me countless neck massages through the night as the spasms had me wakeful and crying.

What a gift is my husband.  I don’t know how any woman going through this alone can do it.

My friends have been uniformly loving and supportive and that has been live-giving.  I have talked to at least two in the last two days who have told me that they looked up or googled ectopic pregnancy.  That is my next point of gratitude.  Thank you, thank you so much for not asking me to explain it.  For many of my friends my IF adventures are far outside their own experience, and will never be relevant for their own lives.  But it’s such a nice gesture, a coming alongside, to try and fill in some of the gaps.

It is an act of love to learn about something that your friend is suffering from, and I am deeply grateful for that.  I’m also grateful for the IRL friends who have been lurking, reading, checking in, whatever.  It is so nice to know that I don’t have to rack my brain for who I have told, who do I have to track down and say "you know how I was pregnant?  well…."  It makes me feel so loved to get emails out of the blue from people who are up to speed and just want to say that they are sorry.

Or happy.  We did have some happy for a little while there, didn’t we? 

I got a phone call from my pastor, who happens to be a woman who has had five miscarriages including one ectopic.  This is another huge point of gratitude for me.  I spent my first several years of church-going life at a church where the pastors were generally too important to actually reach out to the little people in the pews, and I’m so grateful that at our present church they are a little more old school.   It’s hard for me to sort out where God is in these recent events for me, and my pastor was really helpful there too.  By the way, there isn’t a good answer for where God is, in this, except "near," and I’m choosing to believe that He is as sad as the rest of us.

So that’s my status today.  I think that surgery was helpful, emotionally, for me.  I don’t have to torture myself imagining the Wanderer dying a slow death from methotrexate.  It’s just over, and we suffered together.  I’m so interested in recovering from anesthesia and surgery that I don’t have to obsess about fading pregnancy symptoms, and returning to "normal" is a good thing and not just about loss.  I don’t have that surreal feeling that life should just go on, or that I should be able to be working and seeing people and productive, that I would have if my pain were "only" emotional. 

And I get to be semi-wrecked on Vicodin, which is taking the edge off my grief now.  Later will probably be a different story.

Woke at 3 am-ish with sort-of bad pelvic pain.  Went to the clinic early where they found no second embryo in my uterus.  It was something to hope for, and we did hope for it. 

After hearing from Madame Pamplemousse and others, I refused Methotrexate and opted for surgery, which I had today at about 10:30 a.m.  Saying the words "ectopic" cuts through hospital red tape like a scalpel through my belly fat.  It was a lap, though my doctor reserved the option to "convert" to the dreaded gut-me-like-a-fish laparatomy.  Doc did not exercise her option, she took most of the tube and didn’t mess with anything else and I was in recovery by 1:30.  Doc says there is a lot of scar tissue but nothing too terrible and she doesn’t think it’ll cause me any problems in the future.  I was glad somebody finally got a look in there.

It was the nicest ectopic I’ve ever had; a wonderful Irish nurse named Katrine and very few actual people having babies in the OB ward where my RE does her thing.  Getting home was horrendouos, had to pull over more than once to see if I was going to pass out or throw up.  I did neither.  So far.

I feel hideous – belly painful, incisions painful, hellishly dizzy.  But it’s a great distraction from my emotions.  And I am glad most of one tube is gone.  My reading on the possibility of a second ectopic was chilling, and I’m sure my body could do it again, tubes or no.  But for now it’s nice to have this done with. 

That’s all the sitting up I have in me for the moment.

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