Friday, August 29, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth...Well, Not a Whole Lot

I've been having a rash of vivid dreams lately, most of which are not too incredibly difficult to analyze. The most recent was last night. In the dream, I was on a doctor's table getting an ultrasound. I was about 8 weeks along (the estimated time my baby died) and I could clearly see the tiny life curled up on the screen. The heartbeat was registering at 112 bpm (the exact measure we got at our 6 week ultrasound in real life). But as I watched the screen, I saw the beats become slower, tapering off quickly- 90, 85, 74, 51, and then, 0. No heartbeat. I literally watched as my baby died and then said, almost casually to the doctor, "it's happening again."

I didn't register nearly the same emotion in the dream as I am feeling in recalling it. It was almost commonplace for me, as if I were merely being visited by a parking ticket or a lost spot in line. And somehow, I knew to expect it. It felt as if by that point, it had happened a hundred times over. My guess is that even if this were the case, 101 would be just as painful.

I suspect I had this dream because I've put away the neatly organized IF records and have come upon a new obsession-trying to figure out someway to prevent another miscarriage. I have this fear, no, this deeply ingrained belief that even if we were to miraculously become pregnant, it will happen again. In fact, somewhere farther in the crevices of my IF riddled mind, I feel that I will be among the 5% of women who have recurrent miscarriages. I know, it's completely irrational. But thanks to IF, my brain is physically incapable of visualizing a happy ending and believes that I will always beat the the opposite direction of what I had intended.

As a result of my recent irrational attempts to prevent something that is, in most cases, not preventable, I've looked up every possible known cause of miscarriage and have combed through our records, trying to pinpoint any evidence that may suggest something we missed (a genetic factor, some kind of dysfunction in my system, anything). The simple fact is, not only is miscarriage generally not preventable, but also, it is often not due to some factor originating in the parent. As I understand it, even the tiniest slip-up in the sequencing of creation can throw development off it's course and no genetic or immune testing can predict this. Yet still I comb. I investigate. I ask doctors about inane and ridiculously expensive blood tests and they give me funny looks. But you see, I am completely terrified. In a place where control is least is where I want it most.

I realize that the dark cloud of IF is fueling these thoughts and feelings, blocking my brain from envisioning a happy ending. If I am lucky enough to have another BFP, it will be with a mixture of cautious hope and complete terror that I tip toe into the pregnancy. Dee mentioned envying the naivety with which fertile women proceed into their pregnancies. I too will never have this. IF has robbed me of this. If I become pregnant, I will never know what it's like to not look down every time I visit the restroom, my heart in my throat, searching for bleeding. Every twinge, every symptom will be searched over microscopically, analyzed over every neuron in my brain. My energy will be funneled into the impossible: mentally controlling every function my body undertakes in order to create a safe home for my baby.

While I am completely terrified of going through this again, the possibility is worth the risk. It still amazes me what we all put ourselves through for this end goal and it amazes me that I still proceed without a moment's hesitation.


Nikki said...

Absolutely bang on Shelby! IF has robbed us of the simple innocence of being pregnant and relaxing and enjoying the life growing inside.

I must admit though, that after 6.5 years of IF, when I got my first BFP last year, I was that naive person. In my mind, I was infertile only. ie, I had trouble getting pregnant. I believed that I would have no trouble staying pregnant.

Now - I have trouble getting pregnant AND staying pregnant! My second positive (notice I don't call it a BFP - because it wasn't big or fat - it was just barely there) came and left too quickly for anything.

The third time around I was completely paranoid. You described me, when you spoke about not knowing how not to look down into the toilet each time, searching for bleeding and saying a silent Thank God for each time you step out of the restroom without bleeding!

People say relax - they don't tell you how to relax. How do you not want to hold on by the last thread of your life? And how do you get ANY control over this?

Yet - I am so thankful for the few days / weeks that I have been pregnant. Those days have made me a mom - whether or not I have my baby in my arms right now. And I would go through anything again without a moment's hesitation to be pregnant again!

Lost in Space said...

Huge hugs, Shelby. IF takes so much of the blissful ignorance and innocence away from us. Just to get to the point of getting that BFP is hard enough, but to have it taken away is heartbreaking. I wish you had the answer and the cure to fix it.

It's so hard to think that only good things will come when we have been conditioned to prepare for the worst. All we can do is continue to push forward and give it another shot.

Trace said...

Yup! I wanted to smack a relative and her husband for blithely listing when they were going to get pregnant with their second child because they both work for the school district and the one has summers off, blah, blah, blah...

Just Me. said...

Wow!! What a well-written post!

I totally hear you. IF takes huge control in your life and messes with your thoughts.

I am going through the exact same fears that you've written and you've said it at a time when I am most scared which probably explains my absence.

I am equally paranoid. I keep going to the toilet, checking if there's blood and just the other day, I thought I saw something pink on the toilet paper. I screamed and my heart dropped. I thought, I'M HAVING A M/C AND THIS IS WHAT A HEART ATTACK FEELS LIKE. Then, when I flipped the toilet paper over, I realised it was the damned pink seahorse cartoon on the toilet paper. Call me paranoid, but since that day, I've been going to the toilet every 5mins.

IF has definitely taken away the simplicity of enjoying the time when you're pregnant but like you and all of us on this journey, we'd try and try our damnest.

I won't say RELAX. Hate that damned word. But you're doing a great job in pushing forward and trying all over again.


I Believe in Miracles said...

Oh to be naive... I'm petrified about getting pregnant, and used to think that was all it was, now I'm petrified about getting and staying pregnant.
Great post!

oh - thanks for the tip about calling the doc. made me feel a lot better since the # of votes to not exercise on vacation were way more than the # to...