Fun Times avec Fragmin

Fragmin is a type of low molecular weight heparin- a blood thinner. I am on a 5000IU daily dose of it, which I inject at bedtime. While I don’t enjoy needles, I have come to accept that they are a necessary part of our baby-making plans, so I have gotten over it.

Two nights ago however, a disaster occurred, involving my hip, a syringe, and DW’s thumb. Oh, and a whole lot of blood.

So at around 10:30pm, I’m in bed, finishing up my bedtime routine of late, with my last task being my Fragmin injection. I find some fat on my hip, wipe down the area with an alcohol swab, pull off the cap over the Fragmin needle, and ease the needle into my flesh. Some people prefer to do a quick jab, but I just can’t bring myself to do that and fare better with the slow constant pressure approach.

I get the needle all the way in, and slowly inject the Fragmin because if I push too fast, it burns. When I’m done, I push on the plunger a little harder, as there is a spring mechanism that quickly withdraws the needle from the site and then encases it in some protective wall. It is very fancy for an injectable medication.

But the spring mechanism doesn’t engage, which is no big deal, but means that I need to manually pull out the needle, which is of a thick gauge, and seems to be stuck in my flesh. Actually, I have been finding this recently with the Fragmin- that the thick needle is difficult to penetrate my skin, and also difficult to pull out of my flesh.

With the needle feeling stuck, I take a deep breath, brace myself, and pull a little harder.

Finally, it comes out. I am relieved, until I notice a continuous parabolic stream of bright red blood spraying out of my hip, onto our bedsheet 4 inches away. I am frantic and call out to DW, who is conveniently laying about 3 inches from the spray. Calm and unphased, and totally nonchalantly, she plugs the spraying hole in my hip with her thumb, her other hand still holding her phone, reading the news.

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The needle demonstrating its protective spring mechanism- after all the action.

For about 15 minutes, her thumb kept constant pressure on the spot until it finally stopped leaking.

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Her thumb, and the spray spot.

Then she found some cotton pads and medical tape, and patched me up real nice:

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Ooppps! My bad. I must have hit a vein.

Immune Testing Results

You may recall that I had some testing done after it was revealed that I miscarried a chromosomally normal embryo back in September.

Here’s the post about it, if you don’t remember.

Anyway, it’s been three weeks now, and the results have come in for most of them, except for the natural killer Th1/Th2, the $640 test that is sent to California for testing.

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It has all come back normal.

I’m skeptical on many fronts, as I have very little confidence in the reliability of lab work that isn’t repeated. In 2010, I had some abnormal blood work results that forced me, my GP, and some specialists down an ovarian cancer rabbit hole. The abnormal blood work was corroborated by some abnormal ultrasound findings, which suggested a rather large multi-chambered tumour on my right ovary. The blood work was repeated a month after I had given away my chiropractic practice thinking that I was going to die (who wants to work during their last year of life?), and was totally normal. A slew of medical specialists were convinced to see what they wanted to see, all because of what we speculated to likely be a “mix up” in the blood lab.

Anyway, I am not sure what to make of all of this. I’m not sure that my RE’s testing is comprehensive, but we are led to believe that my immune system did not kill the embryo.

If our embryo is truly chromosomally normal (I question this sometimes too- though I’m told that it’s a bit more reliable because they culture the samples for a long time to distinguish between mama and embryo tissue), and my immune system did not kill our embryo, then what did?

As mentioned above, I’m still waiting on the NK cells results. How much do you wanna bet that they will be normal too?

Right now we’re waiting for my period to begin (in probably a week or so), and then we’re off to embryo transfer #4, with our last embryo. I’m particularly anxious about the chance of success with this transfer, as we’re only transferring one. Each of our previous transfers, we’ve transferred two. I’m trying to remain hopeful, as this embryo deserves to come home, and be loved. It’s just difficult to be hopeful when 2013 and 2014 have been filled with disappointment. I’m trying to find meaning in it, maybe something that I’m supposed to learn, but I’m struggling and it’s really breaking my spirit.

Anyway, lone star, you are so loved. Come home and stay with us forever. Your mama et maman have been hoping and praying for you to choose us.

Futile?

4 IUI’s —> BFN
IVF —> 1st FET (surrogate DW, 2 excellent quality blastocysts) —> BFP but HCG fails to double
—> 2nd FET (surrogate DW, 2 excellent quality blastocysts) —> BFP but HCG fails to double
—> 3rd FET (my uterus, 1 excellent quality and 1 good quality blastocyst) —> BFP but no heartbeat seen

Is it my eggs? Is it the sperm? Is it the clinic? Is it DW’s uterus/immune system + bad luck during my transfer?

Having invested so much time and enough money to buy a nice car already, are we foolish to keep trying?

Do we bother with the last excellent quality blastocyst? Or do we start fresh and do a whole new round of IVF?

We are running out of time and hope.

Do we just come to terms with being childless, and hope that over time we approach it with less bitterness and more appreciation of freedom?

I am just having a really hard time understanding how we could possibly have a good outcome with stats like this.

Sorry for the negativity. I’m just trying to process it all, and I’m struggling to find hope among all of the shitty hands that we have been dealt.

Limbo

Wow, I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been cooking up a storm, adapting new recipes, and washing lots of dishes. Yesterday I made my first gluten-free (GF) turkey meatloaf, and today I made GF turkey meatballs, and tomato sauce with produce from our garden. I plan to serve it for dinner on shredded spaghetti squash (also from our garden). Props go to DW for growing me all of these amazingly gorgeous organic vegetables and herbs!

Time seems to be moving at a very strange pace for me. Being home every day means that my sense of time is dictated by my daily chores, appointments, and the return of DW from work. I have been running errands, hiking on the conservation lands with the dogs, preparing elaborate dinners, and probably not cleaning as much as I should be. We have been relaxing at the cottage on weekends, so my routine is kind of messed up in this way too.

Obviously, in many ways I’m glad that I’m not at work. I suffered from an alarming level of anxiety from being dealt a ridiculously unfair schedule, a lack of support from the people that are supposed to be supporting me, as well as doing my best (and failing) at trying to provide meaningful learning moments for kids that are the most challenging in the district. I was not eating. I was not sleeping. I had fleeting thoughts of self-harm. My family doctor insisted that I take a break from all of it to regroup and grieve our loss. I am currently about one third through my leave of absence, and I am terrified of going back.

I feel like I’m just beginning to heal physically. I’m still spotting daily, and I definitely notice my athletic limitations compared to pre-pregnancy: lower cardiovascular endurance, core strength is gone, and my strength has severely decreased. I have been lifting weights again every other day for the past week and a half, and my energy and motivation has been lacking. Pre-pregnancy, working out has always been a treat and a stress-reliever, but now I feel like I’m dragging my heels and my body just won’t do what I want it to do.

Interestingly, my eyesight has significantly changed as well. I had an eye exam two days ago, and my vision, which has been stable since 2007, has gotten worse by almost 2 diopters in both eyes! I suspect that all of the pregnancy hormones have messed up my body in many ways that I am unaware of.

Emotionally, I am really struggling. Part of me wishes that I was back at work (I really enjoy my career- just not at this particular school and schedule), as I miss the kids, routine, and socializing with my colleagues. In particular, I miss the first two schools that I was at. The kids were amazing, and the staff made me feel like family. Even the administration were very personable and supportive. However, my past two schools have been really difficult- due to the administration (lack of support and disciplining of students), and the particular classes that I have been assigned (the classes that nobody wants because it involves teaching the most difficult content to the most poorly behaved students). Unfortunately, being in a union (don’t get me wrong, I am so appreciative of unions) so much of where you teach and what you teach is dependent on seniority, and being a relatively new teacher in a school board that is shrinking, I am at the bottom of the food chain. So the most experienced teachers can choose to teach the easiest students and their first choice of subject, and the new teachers with the least experience get what nobody else wants. Not to mention that I get paid half what they get paid, and end up working extra hours at home prepping every night.Makes sense right? Ugh.

Look at me. Three weeks off from work and I’m still bitching about it. Now and again I have to remind myself that I am so lucky to have job security and benefits, and an (unpaid) summer off.

In happier news, I came home to a gift today:

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A friend of mine sent it with their condolences on our loss, and for a moment I was so touched but also so frustrated that miscarriages are often such a hush-hush secret. I know they are common, but given the lengths that we have gone to make a baby, our repeated losses seem even more tragic. For example, we can’t just have sex a ton more times and get pregnant (though- this should not dissuade anyone from trying this strategy ;)). We apparently can’t even get an IUI to work. Very frustrating.

In the meantime, I will wait for DW to get home before diving into these:

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I saw a new Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine this week. He lectures annually for the acupuncture program that I used to teach for. He is a fertility specialist, and until now, I haven’t been able to see him because he only treats on weekdays (teacher schedule). The appointment went well. He is very thorough and has a three-phase plan for me. The first phase is getting my natural period to come and flush out all of the stagnation in my uterus (and what energetically remains of the pregnancy). Then, we work on building my yin, which is quite depleted in me, and what likely causes my long follicular phases (eggs need more time to mature because my yin is too weak). Lastly, we will work on lengthening my luteal phase, which is super short. He says that even if I were getting pregnant naturally, my luteal phase is so short that proper implantation can’t even occur. Sometimes, regulating the follicular phase also fixes the luteal phase as well. He’s got me on some herbs right now, which are in the form of high potency granules. While I’m very proficient at acupuncture and general TCM principles, I was not trained in the healing properties of herbs, which can have incredible synergy with the acupuncture treatments. I am glad he is healing me through the use of both. He suggests that I sit this next cycle out, and try again the following cycle. So essentially, I’m in limbo for another 9 or so weeks.