Thursday, September 30, 2010

The question of GOD

Since I am on a roll, I might as well tackle this one.  Before infertility hit me, I had a very calm, peaceful and largely unexamined relationship with God.  God was good.  He helped me go through tough times.  He looked after my mother when she was sick.  He took my grandmother to him when she died.  He helped me succeed professionally.  He put MrH and I together on this planet so that, despite anyone's objections, we might love and support each other and together pray to Him in adoration.   God was fair and what He did made sense.  I could comprehend God.  I could predict what God would do.

Not so much after Adrian died.  Even less with each subsequent miscarriage.  And tonight, battling some form of post op cellulitis (along the lines of flesh eating disease), I completely agree with MrH that WE DON'T GET IT.  God has become more and more incomprehensible as each event passed.  What on Earth are you thinking, oh Lord?  Sometimes I wonder if You are thinking at all.  Sometimes I am so angry with You that I would like to shake You a little.  Sometimes, when people say "I'll pray for you" I want to say NO, STOP, please don't attract God's attention to me, as He might notice that I am trying something and give me another little trial to go through.  Please, give me a break, don't pray for me and maybe He'll leave me alone.

And then, in some very special moments, I get this sudden different point of view, like another dimension has opened up for me.  What if these mini and maxi disasters that keep happening are not God's doing at all, but rather a consequence of being human and imperfect, of being susceptible to bad luck and disease?  What if God simply cannot stop these losses, for reasons that I cannot understand?  What if God is also wishing that things were different?  What if he would like MrH and I to have a child, and he is cheering alongside us, hoping that we won't give up?

What if God's role is not directive, but rather supportive?  We can go ahead with living our lives, and we can choose our path, all the while choosing as well to let God in or not.  Our faith can then give us a little twist to the chosen path, but largely cannot change it all that much.  What our faith can do, however, is to open our hearts to a different kind of learning.  Like the kind of learning I am going through.

When my baby was stillborn, I knew that God did not want that to happen.  I simply knew it in my heart.  The God that I had been in a relationship for 30 years would not allow a little baby to die before even being alive.  The God that I knew was very sad indeed for me and my little baby.

Somehow, at times, I forgot this insight, and started blaming Him as a convenient target.  And even now, for brief moments, I can get angry with Him.  What does He do?  he gives me a beautiful sunset, and Keflex in megadoses, and love from those around me.  God is not the guilty one.  He is the One Who keeps me going.  He is the One that fills other people's hearts with love so that we might get support and community.  As life goes on, I hope this awareness of God will prevail in my mind, because it seems to make the most sense.

Sorry about the rambling.  I will tackle this one again later, when my mind is sharper.  In the meantime I have found a great book, highly recommended for anyone who is struggling with loss and faith (plus loss of faith I guess), it is called "When bad things happen to good people."  'cause they do.  And somehow we have to navigate through them, all the while keeping our hearts open to God, or else drying up.

some technical photos

Here are some technical photos relating to the surgery that I just had.  My band is the one labelled transabdominal.  And that is Max, trying to understand the drawing above.  He is very smart...

TAC surgery

I am recovering after my transabdominal cerclage, and since I am stuck in bed with a bird on my chest, and a computer in my lap, I thought I should bite the bullet and start blogging.  I have wanted to do this for a long time, mostly for me, and I should have started a long time ago.  Now, there will be so much to catch up.

This blog will be about my numerous unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant and giving birth to a live baby.  I have trouble getting pregnant, I have trouble staying pregnant, and I will most definitely have trouble giving birth after this transabdominal cerclage.  In other words, were it not for modern medicine, I would be a hopeless childless woman forever.  With modern medicine, I at least can hope that the hopeless childless situation is temporary.

So, prepare for a long long long post in which I will quickly go over everything that has happened so far.

I got married in 2008 to a wonderful man.  Six months later, we decided to start trying for a baby, since I wanted to get pregnant before I turned thirty.  That was a while ago.  I have turned thirty a few times since.  And got pregnant a few times since.  I have been pregnant THREE TIMES THIS YEAR and it is only September.  Still have a few more months to go.

After many many attempts, about ten IUI's and clomid and repronex and superovulation, we landed at the IVF clinic and got pregnant for the first time on the very first IVF.   Yes, that actually did happen to me, although it is mostly a blur now.  It wasn't even so long ago, a little over one year.  At Christmas, when I was coming back home from visiting my parents, at 20 weeks gestation, I lost my mucus plug, and went to the hospital to get checked out.

I had incompetent cervix.  I was 5 cm dilated and had no idea.  My doctor put in an emergency cerclage, and after the operation confessed that he thought maybe he should just give up, it seemed so hopeless, but hey, what the heck, it doesn't hurt to give it a chance, but that if it worked, it would be an exceptional case.  After a week in bed, mostly in Trendelenburg, and many many vicious headaches plus fluid overload later, I went into labour.  One night, at 2 am, I woke up with pain that came and went, at one minute intervals, viciously.  My doctor came in, and had one look at the membranes that had prolapsed and were hourglassing into the vagina.  Hopeless.  Asked me if I was ready to give up, and since I was in labour, with a cerclage that was tearing my cervix, I was kind of very ready.  Despite the fact that the baby was still moving and was all curled up in my uterine fundus, I had to let go.  I listened to the baby's heartbeat one last time before he came in and broke the water.  This was my miracle baby, the one I thought I would have in May.  The one I would name Adrian, because somehow I felt it was a boy.

After he broke the water, a large gush of fluid washed over my legs, and I still remember thinking wow, this is a lot of water flooding out of me.  He could not remove the cerclage, and took me back to the operating room, where I got the first anesthetic for that day.  The labour progressed quickly, and in a few hours I was 9 cm dilated.  That is when I started hemorrhaging.  I had no IV access, and I remember praying that the anesthetist on call find a vein, as he had some trouble initially.  I could tell that there was a lot of blood, by the puddle I was sitting in.  My obstetrician put his hand in the uterus and yanked the baby out by his legs (he was breech).  I was right, it was a boy.  He was stillborn.  I had a few moments with him, and I can't really write about how beautiful he was, how perfect, how his little hands and feet were so pretty and small.  How he had exactly my feet.  How much I loved him.  How awed I was that we had created this miracle.  I took some quick photos with my iphone, and then it was time to go back to the operating room for the second time that day, since I had a retained placenta.

Somewhere en route to the OR I remember saying to my obstetrician, a sweet man about to retire, that I feel so defective, I can't do a single thing right.  He replied that that is what we have the repair shop for (i.e. the OR).   Now, I am not very fond of the OR.  I am very unlucky when it comes to surgeries, as in the past 2 years I have had five visits to the OR, and I ended up with complications from almost each one of them.  First, came the laparoscopy, which ended up with an unexpected pneumomediastinum (air in the space around the heart and lungs), which led to me being flown out to Vancouver and admitted to the thoracic ward for a few days (they thought I had ruptured my esophagus, a life threatening condition, which I didn't).  The pneumomediastinum went unexplained.  Now, after my transabdominal cerclage, I ended up with an infection in the category called BAD INFECTIONS TO HAVE, as they move fast and create havoc.  Thank God I caught it early and it backed off, after a few quadruple doses of antibiotics taken within 1 hour of the redness setting in.  And no, it is nobody's fault, it simply happens.  More often to me, it seems... or maybe I'm just good at keeping track.

After losing Adrian, I was in a state of zombiehood for about 2 weeks.  I had chills and could not leave the bed, because the moment my skin would come in contact with cold air, I started shivering uncontrollably.  I lost contact with God for a while.  I fought with my negative voices that told me I am not like other women, I am a loser, I can't do anything right, my body is defective in a BAD way.  I loved my husband and reveled in his love for me,  the one thing that kept me going through day after day.  Mr. H is one amazing man.  I tried to push away the guilt of doing this to him.  He did not even want children to begin with (he already had a few from a previous marriage), and only embraced the plan to procreate because of me.  Now, he was suffering because of me.  He had to cremate his baby because my body failed.  What kind of woman does that to the man she loves?

I learned to stop these voices eventually.  I got fed up with so much negative thinking.  I felt that I deserved better.  I wanted to live a good life for Adrian, and giving in to these critical voices was not the way to do it.  I got bored of the constant criticism and eventually started seeing myself with kinder eyes, a woman that loved her baby and loves her husband and did her best.  It wasn't meant to be.

Day by day I recovered, and went back to work, to exercise, to...more IVF.  In April 2010 I had another (frozen) single embryo transferred, an 8 celled day 3.  Nothing happened.  Then, one month later, in May, I had a frozen blastocyst transfer.  It was a short lived second line on the First Response test.  My beta HCG never went above 30, which means a chemical pregnancy.  After two weeks of the poor blastocyst hanging on for dear life, it finally gave in to his fate and was flushed down the drain by my reliably nonpregnant body.

Then I got ready for my last frozen blastocyst transfer the way a soldier gets ready for war.  I went vegan.  I did yoga.  And meditation.  And acupuncture.  And moxibustion.  And Traditional Chinese Medicine.  And we prayed.  A whole group of people prayed for me... and again, nothing happened.  I did not get pregnant.

In August 2010, I went through another fresh IVF cycle, and managed to produce 5 blastocysts, the best one of which was transferred back to the mothership.  It resulted in another faint second line.  I was soooooooooo excited, that I even bought one pair of maternity pants, and when on ebay to look at maternity tops.  Before I could even bid on any though, I realized that the line, which was supposed to get darker, was staying the same.  I told myself that I was dreaming, there was no way that I was going to have another chemical pregnancy.  These things don't happen twice in a row.  Apparently, they do. I did have another chemical pregnancy.

Now I have to wait until November to try again.  And, since I was bored with nothing better to do, I researched the transabdominal cerclage, and proposed it to my obs gyn, since my cervix is only 2 cm long when nonpregnant and I am worried that a traditional McDonald cerclage will not hold a pregnancy in place.  He agreed to place a transabdominal prepregnancy cerclage (for more details, look up abbyloopers in yahoo groups), and the surgery went well, minus the flesh eating details.  I am now recovering at home.  And here the story.  Let's see what comes next.