As you may have noticed from reading the entries just prior to this one, it was during Thanksgiving of 2018. So I’m considering this entry a super condensed version of the last six months (November 2018 – May 2019). But first, I want to give you the results of my 2nd round of IVF:
8 eggs retrieved
4 eggs mature/fertilized
3 abnormal embryos (genetic issue would have resulted in miscarriage)
As heartbreaking as it was to hear that all three of my embryos were abnormal, I tried to think of it another way. Instead I told myself, “I avoided three miscarriages.” Miscarriages are traumatic and costly for the subsequent surgeries. I have literally lost count of how many surgeries I’ve had because some surgeries were to correct the original surgery. I did the math. The cost of the surgeries and procedures after every miscarriage from natural conception equaled the cost of about 1.5 rounds of IVF.
So in my particular situation, the more “affordable route” doesn’t really exist if I want a child that is biologically mine. One of the biggest reasons I chose to do IVF is because I wanted to avoid the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. So maybe now you can see why I would reassure myself with the comment I mentioned before, “I avoided three miscarriages.”
I received that sad news in December 2018, and two months later on January 2019 I lost another pregnancy from natural conception, and I needed yet again another surgery. I was working two jobs and my hours were anywhere from 50-75 hours per week. I threw myself into work to stay busy and keep my mind off my emotional pain. I desperately needed to occupy my mind with something all the time. I was also taking a college class.
In the beginning of 2019 my Mom found out she had cancer again. My husband and I decided to wait on doing our Frozen Embryo Transfer from our first round of IVF so I could help my Mom. In March three people I knew died in a single week. I began to deeply contemplate what was important in life and began considering cutting back at work. The thing that stopped me from making changes was the high cost of my medical bills I still owed from the last IVF round and the surgeries from my past miscarriages. Our original plans were to do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in April 2019, but Kurtis and I decided to put the brakes on our plans so I could focus on helping Mom.
In April I had a migraine almost every 2-3 days, my stress level was increasing to the point where it was unbearable, yet I pushed on. I kept helping Mom, kept working both jobs, and kept going to school. My body was screaming at me to slow down. Around 4am on Easter morning I had to leave in the middle of my shift at my overnight job, because I was having one of the worst migraines of my life. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain in my life, I would say I was at a solid 9. I crawled into bed and told Kurtis, “I feel like I’m dying” and that’s how I truly felt. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and have yet another bill, so I hoped that sleep would help me.
Later my husband asked if I wanted to go to Easter brunch but I just couldn’t do it. Shortly after he left I started to really take stock of my situation. My pain was still a 9 out of 10, the sleep didn’t help, and I remembered my Grandma had strokes at a young age. I confirmed with my Mom later that my Grandma started having strokes in her 30s, and I’m 32.
And then I had a flashback to the day I noticed the enormous bulk-sized Excedrin bottle that sat on the desk of my high school Spanish teacher. I remember thinking, “she must have really bad migraines like I do too.” Two days after I saw that bottle on her desk we had a substitute teacher explaining to us that our teacher had a stroke and she would likely never be able to teach again. I heard that her stroke so strongly affected her that she was unable to recognize her students. Several months later I saw her in a store parking lot with a cane in one hand and a man stabilizing her other side as he helped her into the passenger side of the car.
I’m on blood pressure medicine that also acts as a preventative medicine for my migraines. At this point I was very concerned my blood pressure was high and maybe I was on the brink of having a stroke. A few years back I was on a birth control pill that elevated my blood pressure so much so that I was told by my doctor, “You are at stroke levels.”
So back to Easter 2019, my brain feels like it’s going to explode and I decide I need to go to the hospital. I took an Uber and left a voicemail for Kurtis that I was on the way to the hospital. They had put me on a cocktail of four different medications by IV line. I was very slowly beginning to feel better. I had a washcloth over my eyes almost the entire time I laid there in the hospital. Kurtis had forgot his phone in his car during brunch so he came right to the hospital when he heard my voicemail. I lied there wondering if this summer was going to be like the one I had about ten years ago where every single day that entire summer I had a migraine.
My co-worker was one of the three people I knew that died in a single week. He was only six years older than me and had a heart attack. Although I don’t know the circumstances that lead to his death I thought about him a lot over the month leading up to this terrible migraine I was having now. I was in a lot of pain and I also had a lot of fear. The doctor was asking me questions about my stress level, the type of work I do, and what is going on in my life that might be triggering these migraines. The doctor said my blood pressure was very high. I told her I was on blood pressure medicine and she suggested I should double my dose, otherwise I will most likely continue to feel awful. On top of all of that I’ve been having stomach issues and grew concerned I was developing an ulcer. It has been a real domino effect that all came crashing down at once.
On that hospital bed I made the decision to make some major changes in my life. I quit one of my two jobs, and I recently reduced my hours at my main job. I also finished my class, somehow amazingly not dropping out this semester. I’m exercising more. I began to make changes with how I am eating (a work in progress). I saw my regular doctor, got a referral for massages for my neck pain (related to tension headaches), and had my first appointment with a nutritionist where I asked a lot of questions about the types of foods to eat and avoid to help with my blood pressure. I’m starting to feel better but I still have some headaches and had a couple migraines, but I’ve still been able to function okay. I’m on double to dose of blood pressure medicine, another to prevent migraines, and another to deal with a migraine the moment I start to get symptoms. I’m also happy to report Mom is now cancer free.
All things considered these past six months, I’ve dealt with a crazy amount of stress that I didn’t realize until my body decided to throw the towel in. I honestly feel that I was so focused on staying busy after the failed IVF and the miscarriage right after, that I had ignored my body’s signals that I was headed for trouble. My best way of coping (staying busy) turned out to make things way worse.
So here I am now, facing everything that went down and finding other ways to cope. I’ve been listening to music and binging on Netflix. The two weeks I was off work after my massive migraine I binge-watched the entire series of Nurse Jackie, an awesome show by the way. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly sat down and watched several shows in a row. Normally binge-watching is considered unhealthy, but in my case it was exactly what I needed to chill out.
How does all of that relate to my infertility journey? Imagine if I did the Frozen Embryo Transfer during all of that stress, there’s no way it would have been healthy for our little embryo. So our one and only embryo waits on ice for a while longer until I can get feeling better. I’m thinking in a few months I’ll head down to finally do the Frozen Embryo Transfer.
If you’ve read this entire post, thank you. If you skimmed it, I don’t blame you. So there you have it dear reader, you are all caught up on the whirlwind that is my life.
Thank you for reading.