April 29, 2008

Powerlessness revisited

Thanks everyone for being so encouraging and supportive to both me and Mr. Spicy. I think he did a pretty great job with his first blog post. Maybe I will finally convince him to start a blog of his own one day?

Well....bed rest was NOT what I had expected or hoped for.

I had imagined bed rest as this blissfully relaxing time of snuggling in bed with my husband, dreaming of our babies, visualizing the embryos implanting snuggly and safely in the warm, welcoming walls of my uterus. I imagined my body as a peaceful, fertile, serene home that the embryos would return to and quickly, rejoicing in their new accommodations, dig in and began growing. I saw myself knitting my first baby blanket and working my way through the stack of fluffy romantic comedies I had next to the TV. I was sure I would be the valedictorian of bed rest, lying on my back, barely moving, only getting up, very gingerly, to urinate and then returning to my horizontal position with the utmost grace and ease, never disturbing the process at work in my uterus.


Midway through the day on Sunday I began experiencing agonizing pain in my right shoulder. We tried icing it, we tried heat, I took Tylenol. Nothing seemed to help a whole lot. The pain was nerve pain and it radiated down my arm and up my neck. All the muscles in my neck and shoulder began seizing up in response. I could not get comfortable in any position. I was utterly miserable. In the evening the pain moved into my chest. My abdomen also felt full and tender. And I had a low-grade fever of 99.5.

The pain was intense, but the not-knowing why the pain was there was the worst. I knew that right shoulder pain could be a referred pain coming from something in my abdomen and I also knew that an embryo transfer should be relatively painless. All I could do was lie there in pain wondering what could be going wrong, and more importantly, if it was effecting the implantation of our embryos.

We called the clinic on Monday morning. At this point I was feeling tightness in my chest and nausea as well. They had us rush in for an ultrasound and bloodwork. I felt like a failure. I couldn't even make it through the whole 36 hours of bed rest properly. Mr. Spicy got me loaded into the car, reclined, and found a wheelchair at the hospital so I would be on my feet as little as possible. I felt like a complete dork as he wheeled me into our Dr.s office, un-showered, disheveled, and fully panicked.

The ultrasound showed a small amount of free fluid in my abdomen, and still very large ovaries. But, no obvious cause for my pain. And, of course, sitting upright for almost an hour had greatly decreased my pain, leaving me feeling like a big fat faker. So, I am sitting there, feeling like a fool as the Dr. tells me they can find no real reason for my pain: I am not experiencing OHSS as they had suspected but the small amount of blood and/or fluid in my abdomen could have migrated upward, while I was lying horizontally, and caused irritation of my diaphragm which in turn would cause the referred right shoulder pain....make sense? Yeah. So, great news that there was nothing wrong. But now I felt even more stupid for having to get out of bed and rush down there for nothing. As we were leaving a nurse said something about me possibly having a panic attack and I thought: "Great. Just great. They think I am some overly neurotic woman who just had a panic attack convincing herself something was wrong with her." This is especially discouraging because I have worked hard to be a positive and model patient up to this point. Oh well. With humility comes wisdom, right? I can only hope.

So we get home, and I prop myself up in bed having learned that sitting up pretty much eliminates most of the pain I had been plagued with for the past 24 hours. Duh. I am still uncomfortable and achy, but it is much more bearable. But then? Well, then - the painful, cramping, horrid, awful diarrhea begins. And I feel like my body is trying to rid itself of its entire internal contents. And I panic again because this? This does not seem any way conducive to the growth of new life in my belly.

Instead of a serene fertile garden, I feel like an active earthquake with sporadic lightning strikes.

So I spend the rest of the day thinking:

"There is no way this is going to work. My body is rejecting the embryos. My body sucks. My body doesn't want to be pregnant. This isn't how its supposed to be. This isn't how I planned it...."

and then:

" Stop thinking that! Stay positive! Women have become pregnant under far less than ideal circumstances. Everything will be fine! Think positive....imagine the embryos snug inside your uterus, safe and protected...visualize them.....breathe....."

Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum.

Until, about 10:30 last night I just lost it. Literally, I was on the floor sobbing so hard that my whole body was shaking. I just couldn't take it anymore. I felt completely worn down. Worn down by the pain. Worn down by the diarrhea. Worn down by hoping. Worn down by discouragement. Worn down by the "what ifs...?" and the "Whys....??". And mostly? Mostly worn down by powerlessness. How completely and utterly powerless I truly am in all of this. And how often I must continually be reminded of that fact.

I had done everything, everything I possibly could. And things had gone really well up until now. So....slowly I had begun to believe again that I might possibly have some teensy tiny ability to have a hand in how this all turns out. I believed that my positivity, my prayers, my will, my efforts might make some difference. I believed that if I could do bed rest "perfectly" it would guarantee that we would be pregnant. But instead, I barely made it through 24 hours of bed rest without having to get up and ride in a car and hop on an exam table, and then to top it all off my body began exploding. I felt like my body was rebelling. I felt like nothing was going the way I had imagined. And I had NO control. And there were NO guarantees.

Over and over in this process I have been confronted by my own powerlessness. This time it completely broke me down.

I lay on the floor sobbing and crying out about how desperately I want to be a mother, how desperately I want this to work, how hard it is to hope this much and have so little ability to control any of it, and how I felt like I had failed at this - this most important time of the whole cycle - the time when the embryos should have a quiet and peaceful place to implant and come home to. I just felt like a complete and utter failure.

I was thoroughly exhausted from holding all of this so carefully only to be reminded how small my hands truly are.


The good news is that today I am in a much better space. I was able to rest in bed most of the day without pain or explosive bodily functions. I was able to enjoy the resting and dream and even hope a little. (I even....gasp!....flipped through a pregnancy book.)

And I realized that the breakdown was good, even necessary. I needed to let go of the belief that if I do this perfectly I will somehow be able to will it to happen. I needed to let go of the panic and fear that I was trying so hard to keep bottled up so neatly. I needed to admit that I was afraid, that hoping this much, that wanting something this deeply - it is hard. It is really hard. I needed to reach out to Mr. Spicy, to admit I needed help with this. And to his credit, he rose to the occasion with a kindness and strength that did not surprise me, but reminded me again why I chose him. Today he asked how I was feeling and I said I was feeling better but still having trouble feeling hopeful after the last couple of days and he replied, "That's ok. I will be hopeful for both of us." And that's why I want to have his babies.

I know that my efforts do matter, my attitude does matters, my prayers do matter. But they do not mean I have power over any of this. And that is still a really hard pill to swallow.

All I can do is wait. And hope.

And that's a lot.

But just for good measure: Does anyone out there have a story of a craptastic bed rest that still resulted in a BFP, just to make me feel better? Hook a sister up!

p.s. just wanted you all to know that logging on this evening and seeing all your supportive, hopeful, kind, loving, and encouraging comments really did wonders for my heart. Thank you. It makes such a huge difference to be reminded that we are not alone. Thank you for holding hope for us.


Monkey said...

I dont have much to offer since I have never done IVF.

Tons and tons of prayers and thoughts for peace and for positive results!

Anonymous said...

Hon, you are so incredibly strong. You are doing a wonderful job with all this. Remember that the one thing you can control, is your reactions to the events. You are doing a superb job with that.

I am sorry bedrest was as horrible for you as it was for me. I was on bedrest with my pregnancy and I truly remember the pain, boredom, anger and frustration with it. I hope that your time in bed hell turns out to be a blessing for you and Mr Spicy.

Love ya!

annacyclopedia said...

Oh, honey! I just read this post and I can't comment for very long cause I have dance tonight, but this sounds just awful! I'll be back later to share my insight (such as it is) which it sounds like you already get anyway, but nothing like a bit of validation.

I'm so glad you're feeling a bit better today and have some perspective on things. Take it easy on yourself, Spicy. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I'll dance for you tonight. Ole!

luna said...

infertility leaves us all feeling completely powerless and out of control -- you are not alone. sounds like you had a good release, in many forms. hope you are feeling a little better. ~luna

Heidi said...

I am glad you weren't hard on yourself for too long. It is difficult to not be in control, especially for those of us who think the mind should be able to control the body, at least to some extent.

Mr. Spicy sounds like a sweetheart, his comment about having hope for both of you is touching. Without really knowing either of you, I can see how you are a couple, based on his blog entry. You both have a tender, soulful quality.

My prayers are with you and your husband and your precious embies. I'm sure you'll take good care of them and that they will thrive.

Salty Sister said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Denise said...

Okay, first off, screw what all the nurses and doctors think. YOU are responsible for your own health and you did what you had to do. Regardless of what was or wasn't causing the pain, the pain WAS real and it was scary. You did the right thing by going in to get checked out.

Second, you are fully entitled to one, two or two hundred panic attacks and mental break downs while going through this. This shit is tough! And so are you. I'm proud of you for getting to where you are with such a positive attitude the whole time. Seriously.

Third, the stomach issues just suck. I have issues any time I go under anesthesia and I still have yet to find a happy medium. Throw in some antibiotics, a steroid, progesterone and huge ovaries and it makes for a nice melting pot of crap (sorry, really no pun intended there).

I'm so sorry you had such a rough bed rest and I really hope you start to feel a bit back to normal soon. Take it easy on yourself and let Mr. Spicy hope for the both of you. I'm here hoping right along with you.

Kristina said...

Oh Mrs SPciy! Your entry brought me to tears. Believe it or not, deep inside your womb is a nice, cozy, comfy, peaceful place, despite what is going on on the outside. I can't directly give you a story about a tumultuous bed rest period and successful pregnancy. I've never had more than 18 hours or so of "light duty". I never had bedrest with my IVF. My RE told me that you could hang upside down by your toe nails for 3 weeks and still have a bad outcome. Once you transfer, it's out of your small hands and into much bigger hands, His hands. This is a journey laid out for you by Him and we have to have faith in that journey, even when it doesn't go the way we would prefer. This WILL reach fruition for you and Mr Spicy. I have every amount of faith in that for you. You know I am praying hard that this time will be it!

Duck said...

Hi Mrs. Spicy.
So 2 things, first, when I did my only IUI I had the same kind of reaction right after the iui, have no idea what caused it, I didn't get a bfp (but that was because the sperm didn't make it to the uterus it wasn't ultra sound guided and we found out later doing a mock transfer for my IVF that my cervix is practically screwed and nothing is getting in there without a tenaculum).
Second thing, the doing everything "right" I began my prep for my IVf in september, I did acupuncture and took stinky herbs for over 6 months, I did fertility yoga and meditations visuallizing stuff every single day for 6 months.
I didn't even make it to transfer, all the embies were frozen because of my non existing lining. So you can do everything perfectly, but, it does not mean a perfect cycle.

My friend who got pg from an ivf went back to work after transfer....no bed rest at all.

annacyclopedia said...

So I'm back, finally, and having re-read your post and then everyone's comments, there's not too much to add. I'm hoping that you are maintaining the gentleness with yourself that comes through at the end of this post, because you have done your best. I'm sorry you had to be reminded of your powerlessness in all of this in such a painful way. But I guess there's no other way to get that message sometimes (for me, it's the only way - it has to be a kick in the pants or I just don't get it.)

You are absolutely right that your prayers, your efforts, your intentions do matter AND that you are powerless about the outcome of this. I was actually talking to my counsellor about this very thing yesterday, so this post is really a gift to me to help remind me that the value of what I do is not in controlling the outcome, but in the beauty of my intention to care for myself and others. This might not be in your hands, but you are in the hands of the universe, of the Creator, and She is taking very good care of you. Even if it might not seem like it when you think over the last few days.

Wishing you much peace and love, and I'm visualizing those two little pepper seeds burrowing in, warm, cozy and curled up, just like my puppy beside me on my couch.

Jen said...

You are decidedly not alone in feeling powerless in this whole process!

I think the hardest thing for me is the fact we've left everything up to science in the process - never having tried naturally we are just depending on what the tests, the doctors, the odds have in store.

And I do feel helpless at times.

But then I try to remind myself of the reason why we are doing this and if I have to give up control for a baby in my arms, it's a fair trade off.

As for good or bad bed rest, I had two perfect slouching on the couch episodes and ended up with an ectopic and blighted ovum. I don't think you sitting, standing or doing jumping jacks has anything to do with a successful pregnancy.

It's just about luck, and those little embryos!

Wishing you all the best and sticky stickiness!


Jessi said...

Just reading your post - wow, hon, wow! I'm so proud of what you are doing and making it thus far. You will do great!! You're gonna be a great mama! Triumphing the troubles makes us stronger - as does ditching the diarrhea.
Hope you stay feeling much better!
Daisy Moon

s.e. said...

It is so incredibly hard to give up the control. You were just challenged beyond belief and you made it through it. Lean on Mr. Spicy's strength. His statement made me cry. You have so many of us hoping for you out here too!

Sharon said...

Finally caught up reading your wonderful journey through your blog. Loved Mr. Spicy's. I am praying and thinking about you all the time and thinking of another
Bethlehem baby born and His mysterious journey that also began in shit.

nancy said...

I had that after ER. Since I was laying down, it hit me that way. I was writhing in pain, crying out even. Then I found (after hours of agony) sitting up pretty much completely "fixed" the horrible pain. So I sat up for the next 3 days. Weird, eh?

I'm thinking of you daily and wishing on your little embryos!