Does anyone else know where the summer has gone? Wow, it sure has flown by here. It's so hard to think back to just one month ago when it was the 4th of July and we were celebrating the Red, White and Blue...and, when I was agonizing over what those colors were like for me at that time.
Where to start? What's happened in the last few weeks? I've been bouncing all over the place. Not just physically, but also mentally.
My last cycle was only 19 days long. I had no warning, my period just started and way too early! I was told by the nurses that cycle length varies due to fertility medications so I tried not to worry about it. I also figured that since I had a cyst, that may have thrown things off a bit, who knows.
Well, with my cycles that close together it's not like there is a lot of time for planning and preparations. Wham, bam, boom. Another cycle. Decisions to be made. Doctor appointments to cram in and money to be found...or not. Stress levels start rising with the start of each period.
Amazingly, all of my woes and worries for when this last cycle would start were put to rest when my period started at the last possible date that it could have prior to our trip to Washington, D.C. It allowed me to schedule my baseline ultrasound for early Wednesday morning. Alex had just returned to town on Monday evening from an extended drill weekend in Kentucky, went to work on Tuesday and came to pick us up at my mom's that evening and then to return to Dayton late that night.
It was a short night for me Tuesday, and we all got up early to go to my doctor appointment for my ultrasound. Good news--my cyst had shrunk--and I had 8 follicles! Wow! I don't know when I've had that many. Of course, I knew they may not all grow but it was kind of neat hearing that I had that many.
We ran straight to the pharmacy to pick up my Femara prescription which I was to start taking that night. And, after about another hour to finish adding my hubby's stuff to our already crammed van (we had packed the boys' toys, clothes, etc. as well as mine the night before at my mom's), we finally set off for D.C.
Our trip to Washington, D.C. was a bit longer than we thought. I think it was like 14 hours or something like that. I don't remember for sure but it was getting difficult in the wee hours. We had one major delay with the van that slowed us down. We were somewhere in some rural mountains and realized the back hatch wouldn't open. Alex had to crawl into the back from the front. This meant slithering over tons of stuff on what was one of those extreme heat days a few weeks back (remember how most of the country was in triple digits with severe heat warnings?) in order to pull out Mary, our old terrier. She was in a cage in the back of the van and was now stuck. I knew we still had several hours to go and didn't want to risk leaving her back there without a potty break or water so Alex braved the piles and stacks and crawled back out over the boys' seats with Mary in his arms. I then rode with her at my feet up front for the rest of the trip.
It wasn't only that delay which added to our lengthy trip. It was also the path we took. Coming from Dayton, we soon found that most of our drive was through mountains! And tons of them! Curves, sneaky paths, twisting and turning up and down the hills made for a slower and more cautious drive than if we had been on straight roads.
Well, our trip to D.C. was great. Alex's conference went extremely well and we even managed 2 days to sight see during the heatwave. Everyone had a great time. But, Alex & I were whooped in the end. We drove back to my mom's in Seville to pick up another dog that she was babysitting for us. We laid over that night and took off for Dayton the next day.
If you've been mentally calculating the days in my cycle you'd see that we should be somewhere nearing our "window" in this cycle. Well, try facing that window when you're tired and then frustrated because you're tired. I wish I could say that for me it as all because I was just tired but it wasn't just that. I think going into this cycle I was crabby. The last cycle with the cyst was 'non-existent' for the most part. I was doubtful and had a "great attitude" going into this round. Several times I thought to myself, "Why even bother? Why am I putting myself through all of this? It won't work anyway."
Consequently, I wasn't as focused on the task at hand as much as I should have been. I was like, "Eh...whatever." And then I'd beat myself up for feeling like that and thought, "Why would God give you a baby with a terrible attitude like this?" One night Alex & I even got into a fight prior to our "window". That's really great, huh? I was mad because he was tired and because I always have to remind him of the dates and timing. He was mad simply because he was tired and who knows what else. We had a pretty serious discussion about making this a priority and ways to make sure that dates are cleared as much as possible, etc. Thankfully, we cleared the air and resumed with the work at hand. I can only wonder how many other couples feel the stress and get into similar arguments? So very difficult.
I hate to say it but we didn't even hit all of our windows this last round. I felt terrible. My nurse told me not to fret about the exact timing and that we hit the most critical. I tried to shake off my frustration, held on to the fact that we did do the most critical windows and looked forward to starting over with this next cycle approaching.
And then suddenly, I noticed how extremely tired I was over the weekend. I mean, I was pooped. I was beyond pooped. It was terrible. It was so hard to get things done. I didn't think anything of it until that Sunday right after supper when I felt myself entering a yawning marathon. Even Alex noticed my exhaustion and said how unlike me that was. I'd like to think that normally I'm pretty hearty! I can get by on little sleep when I have to or when insomnia hits. I somehow find the rest when I need it and build myself back up. But this time I just couldn't get caught up.
It was then that I remembered something my nurse told me when I got my trigger shot on Day 10. She said something about the shot containing the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, and that it causes pregnancy symptoms in some women--one of them being tiredness. A-HA! Maybe that was it? But why don't I remember being this tired the one other time I had the shot? With that question on my mind, I drifted off quite easily that night.
A chat with my nurse on Monday confirmed that more than likely it was the progesterone making me tired. Follow that up with ANOTHER shot that day and more Zzz..... on the way for me. Supposedly it takes 10 days for the progesterone to get out of your system so I still have another 2 days to wait it out. Unless....
And this is where the title of my blog comes in. Hope. Why, oh why, oh WHY did I have to have this tiredness symptom of pregnancy this cycle? I know that more than likely, what I've been feeling has been simply a side effect of the Ovidrel shot but I would be lying if part of me didn't stop more than once and wonder, what if? Could I be this tired because maybe something did work this round? Maybe I could just be pregnant??? Probably not...but possibly??? Why wasn't I this tired before? Even after the first shot I don't remember being this tired at all. Maybe you can react differently each time, I don't know.
Another step towards Hope. My progesterone test on Thursday of last week came back really good. My level was a 40. Previously my other two tests were in the low 20s. Obviously the second shot probably had something to do with this but still, they told me that I had a really good ovulation and that the second shot was supporting what the body does naturally to support an egg being implanted if it was fertilized. Why can't the dumb test TELL you that though?
Even though I totally don't understand the necessity of testing one's progesterone every treatment cycle, here's what I'm walking away with:
1. Maybe it's how it was in school--high school or something like that--where an A was an A. It didn't matter if you barely made it with a 90/92 or 94 or if you totally aced it with a 98. If you had an A, you had an A. As long as your progesterone score is above 15, that's good and that's it.
2. I'm very THANKFUL that the medication is working and that I AM having good ovulations! If that is something that some women struggle with in conceiving, then I need to recognize that and be thankful that I am having good ovulations. Take time to thank God for all that I can.
So what do I do about Hope? Part of me so desperately wants to think that maybe, just maybe, my tiredness is a result of possibly being pregnant. And if my progesterone score shows a good level, than that's really good. Oh, but the inner battle! I told myself I wasn't going to let myself do this again. And here I am watching every strange symptom that my body shows and wondering about it. I'm finding myself frustrated at my hope and fearing a major letdown in a few days. You see, I don't think I've felt this hopeful in awhile and coming off of my 19 day cyst cycle and then the start of this one with my "give up" attitude, I'm ready for a little optimism. In fact, I need it. I'm clinging to it. I'm desperate for it!
Hope is one of those things that I think we all need. Without it, our lives have no sense of 'maybes', 'what ifs' or 'could bes'. They are simply what we stare at every day with no thought of anything different in the future. But when we dare to hope, we are setting are selves up for the potential of what we want not coming to be. The risk is huge. We hope that our marriages will work out. We hope that our spouses will live to be a ripe old age with us. We hope that our family will stay healthy and happy. We hope that we will continue to have a job in a crummy economy. We hope and yet we know that things could fall through in an instant.
No one knows this more than a parent who has lost a child through miscarriage, still birth or infant loss. I have heard of so many mothers who fear that the child born after the child they lost, may not make it. The stories are the same--these women get up throughout the night to make sure their child is still breathing. I do that every night. I think I always have, actually, but since losing Jacob last fall, I feel like I watch over Sammy and Benny even more sometimes. It's hard to explain why, but I think knowing what can happen to those we love makes us more protective.
I know that our attempts to conceive again carry a huge risk. Will we get pregnant? Will we have a miscarriage? How on earth would I make it through 38 weeks???
And yet, despite all of my fears, I still cling to hope. I am desperate to hope. I don't think we can exist without it. I know I can't. No matter how tough we want to be. Despite the fact that I want to toughen myself up for what's going to happen in three days, a big part of me doesn't want to. I want to remain vulnerable. I need to if I'm going to have any chance at having another baby. If not, I might as well truly quit right now.
What's coming in a few days? You guessed it. My scheduled pregnancy test at my RE's. I have never before made it to one of these as my period has always come before the scheduled test. Now, despite the fact that frequently my period gives me signs that its coming--spotting, cramping, etc.--watch this time it will lay in wait and perhaps even not start prior to my test leaving me fully open to the test results when my nurse calls sometime Thursday afternoon. Please pray that I'll have the strength to get through that morning if that is indeed what happens! I still can't fathom how I'll keep myself busy enough to not go crazy after my blood test--unless my period comes prior to then.
I'm at day 22...well, actually since it's midnight I can say I'm on day 23 now. Last time my cycle was only 19 days. I don't remember what it was before that. I'm thankful also that I made it past 19 days. That kind of freaked me out a bit having a cycle that short. Every day forward is a good one!
I don't know what's going to happen in the next few days. I know that I'm desperate, truly desperate, to hold on to some hope at this point in my journey. Last night, as we were packing and getting ready to leave my mom's where we had spent the weekend going to a parade and a county fair, I saw a rainbow. Not just a piece of one, but the entire beautiful rainbow reaching from end to end! I couldn't stop looking at it. Even after I ran in the house to get everyone to come look and take pictures, I still found myself watching it fade away and felt...hope. I felt like God was sending me a message to keep holding on. Here we were about to get underway and tackle this busy week that included my blood test. And right before we left, I spotted what I needed to see. A rainbow.
Fellow moms who have lost babies are familiar with this term but others of you reading may not be. Do you know what a "rainbow baby" is? In the Baby Loss Community, this is a term used to describe the baby who comes after the storm--that is our loss of a child--our rainbow. This baby doesn't replace the one we lost, it simply represents the hope that comes again after such a tragedy in our lives.
Could I be carrying my rainbow baby right now? I'm sure the statistics out there say no, and my period might play a mean trick on me this month and start at 5:00 AM Thursday morning or something totally unfair. But, anything is possible. If God wants us to have another baby then all of the statistics in the world mean nada. It could just be so if He makes it so. And, I have to keep reminding myself to hold on to hope even if it doesn't happen this round. Anything is possible.
One more note about rainbows. Several years ago when we lived in Oklahoma, Sammy was only two weeks old when he became colicky. Horribly colicky. He cried all the time. One time I clocked him at over 10 hours straight. I kid you not!! It was terrible. Alex would wear ear plugs to drown out the noise when he'd hold Sam. I can only imagine what the stress levels were in our household that summer of 2006.
On a particularly trying day, I told Alex I needed to clear my head for just a bit. I was a stay-at-home mom still recovering from a c-section with an infection in it. I had a baby who cried all the time and nothing I did would soothe him. I had no break from the non-stop crying. None. I didn't go anywhere ever. I had been crying and had a headache so told Alex I had to go for a walk. Right then. I handed Sammy to him and he took our wailing baby to the computer room and put his earplugs in.
I remember as I left our driveway and got onto the road I could still hear Sammy crying outside!!! I couldn't believe it. That kid sure had some lungs on him! It was a light rain at the time and I didn't have an umbrella but I didn't care. I just had to get out of the house for just a few moments. I wanted to extend my walk and keep going at one point but I thought, "No, Alex might not know what to do with the baby, you really should get back." I remember giving a big sigh and right then I looked in the direction that I had originally wanted to go on my walk--and there was a rainbow. Never before had seeing something so common in nature meant so much to me. It was like I instantly felt lighter. I smiled. I smiled up at the sky. I think I talked to God right there in the street thanking Him for sending me that rainbow and for telling me that things were going to be okay. It was as if He agreed that I should turn around right then and go back to my baby. That I would be stronger when I went into the house.
I will never forget that day and that message of hope that I received. If I wouldn't have still been a bit achy I probably would have skipped back to our house!! I don't remember exactly what happened when I went home but I know I felt better. I probably took a screaming baby back into my arms and gave him a big kiss. All that mattered to me was that hope still existed. I wasn't doomed to non-stop crying for the rest of my life. God was with me and our family and He would give us the strength to make it through. And do you know what? For 4 months, we did. We made it! When Sammy turned 4 months old, the crying stopped--almost like a light switch!
All I can do this week is to take one day at a time, keep myself busy, and keep hoping and praying that perhaps we will be taking the next step on this journey and that is towards our rainbow baby. The storm is certainly rocky, full of risks and dropping bucketfuls of fear on me sometimes but I can only imagine how wonderful the rainbow looks when the storm clears...may my rainbow be a sweet little baby to come into our lives.
I trust you, Lord. Please give me the strength to keep hoping and to keep trusting in you. Thank you for those in my life who continue to pray for me and our family during this wonderfully challenging and yet beautiful journey of faith, hope and love!
Is there a storm in your life right now? Go after your rainbows, my friends! They are out there, I know they are. We just have to keep moving forward and keep our eyes upward. Our rainbows are out there!