Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some people do this by accident

Sorry for the long, long silence. Three weeks after my last post, I had my first miscarriage. Pretty much everything not relating to getting and staying pregnant fell by the wayside after that.

People get pregnant every day. Even while doing everything in their power to prevent it. Me, I spent a year peeing on sticks, counting days, obsessively documenting the smallest symptom. And it still took three tries before anything stuck.

At times, I deeply resented those fertile people. Why, I wondered, did I have to lie perfectly still and take my temperature while the alarm blared at me? Why did I have to spend time and money on ovulation prediction tests, schedule sex (how sexy!), and completely overhaul my lifestyle just to accomplish this one thing -- something my body is made to do? Other people have a good time on a Saturday night and poof!

And why, for all my efforts, did my first two pregnancies end before they'd really begun? That question will drive you crazy if you let it.

It's been an informative year, to say the least. After that first miscarriage, my periods leveled out; in fact, the only cycle I had after that which didn't run like clockwork was in November, when I had my second miscarriage.

Things I've learned this year:
1. It's possible to know you're pregnant before you get a positive pregnancy test. In the case of my first pregnancy, I started having symptoms three days after ovulation. And of all my pregnancies, that one was the worst in terms of symptoms. (It was also the shortest, ending before my period was even due.)

2. It's also possible to be pregnant and not know it. Something I doubted after pregnancy 1 and 2 (which lacked the violent symptoms but was hardly a stealth pregnancy). The only reason I took a pregnancy test as early as I did the third time around was because the date of my expected period came and went, and like I said, I'd been running like clockwork up until that point. Plus, I had all the usual period symptoms: cramps, bloating, zits, moodiness...everything but the blood.

3. The OPK tests say the test line must be as dark (or darker than) the control line to be considered positive. Not true. According to them, I ovulated once last year -- during a month in which I did not get pregnant.

4. A line on a pregnancy test, no matter how faint, can be a positive result. Home tests look for a much higher level of hormones than your doctor. If you've got enough in your pee to make a line, you've likely got enough to kill the wabbit (or set off the preggers alarms at the doctor).
4a. Just because the pee stick says you're pregnant and the doctor confirms you're pregnant doesn't mean you'll stay pregnant. Levels can go down as well as up.

4b. This type of miscarriage happens more frequently than most people know -- if you're not obsessing over cycles and charts and days on a calendar, you'd most likely never even know you were pregnant in the first place.

4c. Just because it's a common occurrence doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.

5. Compared to my normal periods, those miscarriages were nothing. Physically, anyway. The flow was lighter and shorter than my standard period, and the cramps were much more manageable. Which is kind of horrifying, when you think about it.

6. It's possible to get pregnant immediately after a miscarriage. My doctor advised me to take the month off from trying...a week too late. The week of my miscarriage, I was out of town. The next available appointment was a week from the day I returned home. My boyfriend had missed me. I had missed him. We're due in August.

7. When you have one miscarriage, it's business as usual. When you have two, the rules change. The third time around, they make you stick progesterone bullets up your hooha. For three months.

7a. Progesterone does different things to different people. It gives me backaches. And headaches. Acne to rival my teen years. And makes me retain water.

7b. Which is why I'm never going on the pill again.

8. While pregnancy carries with it a host of other symptoms, it is a welcome relief from endometriosis. And PMS in general. At least for me. My backaches are gone -- in fact, the heating pad burns have all but vanished. While my breasts hurt for other reasons, the fibrocystic tissue has calmed down considerably; I've not found a single lump since I got pregnant. My skin is clearer than it's been since junior high. No mood swings, no bloating unless I binge on salty foods (and even then it's minimal), and very few headaches. I feel...normal. Exhausted, but normal.

9. Pregnancy suppresses your immune system. I spent three days recovering from a flu shot in December (my first...the doctor talked me into it). Spent most of January and February sick with sinus/ear infections and bronchitis from two separate colds. I'm still congested. I don't know if there's a connection between the suppressed immune system and the lack of endo/FBD symptoms, but it's certainly food for thought. (I'm not sure what's worse, though. I don't miss the pain one bit, but it sure would be nice to be able to breathe.)

10. The human body is an amazing thing. I don't know why the first two pregnancies didn't last. I don't know why this one did. I'm not entirely clear on why getting pregnant (which the pill is supposed to mimic, on a chemical level at least) cleared up my symptoms. And I don't have any clue what to expect once I give birth and begin having periods again. What I do know is that for the first time since I began having periods, my body makes sense to me -- I can look at my symptoms and see the logic behind them. After so many years spent at the mercy of my own wonky reproductive system, I finally feel in sync with my body. It's doing what it's supposed to do, and for once everything works just fine.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some good, some bad

Started late this month -- day 32. (Well, 31 or 32...in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but I was still awake so it felt like Friday. Let's say 32 for the sake of argument.) Spotted lightly until actual Saturday morning, when I was awakened by worse cramps than I've had in months. Such fun. Once the meds kicked in, they (mostly) alleviated the cramps until later Saturday evening, when they refused to be appeased. Also, two pads (in the diaper formation) were required to contain the flow.

So...bad. But good in that it was over quickly; by day 4, I was merely spotting. Given the choice, I much prefer this route to the 7-day (plus) extended version.

I should note that I have not been keeping up my diet and exercise routine, so I am probably partly to blame here. I'm going to try to do better this month. However, as the pain was largely abdominal, I'm not sure yoga and aerobics would have helped much; those only seem to ameliorate the low back pain.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I don't own gladiator sandals

My Skechers did this to me. Not those scary-looking sandals I'm seeing everywhere -- soft, comfy, adjustable Skechers.

Only carrying around 10 lbs of water weight, too. It's just more localized this month. I can wear my rings, but my bust is 2 inches bigger (if it didn't hurt so bad, I'd be happy about that) and I can't find my ankles.

So I think tonight is a great night to lay on the couch with my feet up and read a book. And, well, probably nap.

Hope I start soon. I'm afraid to eat anything, for fear that I'll make things worse.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm beginning to doubt the existence of "normal"

Or, at least the possibility that I'll get back to it. Strange, strange period this time -- some good, some bad.

The good: I had hardly any pain to speak of until the day I started my period.

The bad: 15 lbs of water weight.

Wednesday morning I had minor pain -- enough for the heating pad, but not for pain medication. I thought the absence of pain was odd, as I was expecting to start Thursday (okay, actually Friday; once again my math was off), but was pleased that I'd not spent the previous week incapacitated by pain.

Around 11 a.m., I went to the restroom and discovered that it is still possible for periods to sneak up on me.

"Maybe I won't hurt so bad this time," thought I. "Maybe my body's getting back to normal."

By 1 p.m., I'd taken all the pain medication I could have in one sitting, and was still in so much pain I could barely breathe. I had to leave work early.

After two days of gushing, it looks like things are tapering off. Now if I could just get rid of this water weight. I was even keeping an eye on my sodium intake! My only saving grace is that most of my clothes are too big anyway. However, I'm pushing the limits of even my biggest, stretchiest clothes right now.

I'm also in the market for a new heating pad. Mine's giving me that stupid F2 error message again. Why must heating pads be computerized? All they need is an on/off switch and a few heat settings...no need to bring computers into it. I did some research online, and apparently all the heating pads of this model have this problem. Which is just fantastic, as I own two of them. I did some research online, and have come to the conclusion that everyone has a different opinion of what makes a "good" heating pad. Also, price means nothing. Look, I just one one that:

1) comes on when I want it to come on,
2) goes off when I want it to go off (I don't mind the auto shut-off, but want to be able to override it), and
3) gets hot enough to alleviate my pain.

It'd be nice if it were also reasonably priced ($200 for a heating pad is ridiculous, imo), had a washable cover, and didn't leave burns on my back, but I can deal without those things if I have to. With all of my Googling, though, I didn't come up with any that stood out from the rest. So I guess it's back to the crap shoot. I do think I'll avoid Sunbeam in the future, though; have had very poor luck with those.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hormonal backlash

Day 17. According to the tests (yes, multiple -- I've added urine-based ovulation tests to the spit test, because what self-respecting OCDer doesn't want a second opinion?), I'm still not ovulating. But you'd never know it by looking at me.

Every morning brings another zit (or three), though I rarely break out this early in the cycle. I'm carrying around at least 5 lbs of water weight; my belly is swollen, my breasts are incredibly sore, and I've not seen my ankle bones in nearly a week.

A couple of days ago, I developed stabbing pains in my lower left abdomen; I was convinced it was ovulation pain, but the tests say otherwise. Over the following 24 hours, the pain spread to the right side of my abdomen, and now it pretty much encompasses the lower half of my torso.

I'm moody. Tired all the time, but can't sleep. And eating chocolate in horrifying quantities.

I guess I'm making up for the relatively easy periods I've had the past few months. (Not that they were easy...just that I've had much, much worse.) I've got another 12 days of this mess, plus the 5 or so of my period. Great.

On the plus side, I am pleasantly surprised to find that my periods are pretty regular off the pill. My cycles have run precisely 29 days this entire year. Had I known it would be like this, I'd have gone off the pill years ago.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nobody told me there would be math

Turns out there is a lot of math off the pill. And a lot of things to learn. For instance, did you know that Week 1 is actually period week? I did not. And it's thrown off all of my other calculations by...well, a week.

In fact, I've learned that I was completely wrong about what goes on in one's abdomen sans pill. That place is pretty much a 24-7 babymaking factory. Have a period, immediately start working on kicking out another egg. But none of this stuff happens fast. Oh, no. It takes six days for the egg to find its way from the ovary to the uterus. Six days! Seriously...how long can the fallopian tube be?

Anyway...I'm in a fun spot. Too late to check if I've ovulated. (Again, I should say; I've been doing a spit test, but the results are confusing at best.) Too soon to test for pregnancy. (Mayo Clinic says you shouldn't test the first day of your missed period, but a week after. Which is assuming I know when the first day of my period should have been.) I've not stopped cramping, and at this point most likely won't until I bleed. Whenever that might be.

I've consumed the biggest part of a Whitman's Sampler, in two sittings, within a single 24-hour time span. Which is about the surest sign that a period is coming. Just wish I knew when.

Monday, February 1, 2010

First pill-free update

I've been off the pill since January 16. Which makes period week January 17-23; last week was Week 1 of my first pill-free cycle.

Of course, I don't play by the rules. The period was heinous, even by my standards. I've decided alcohol does indeed make the cramps worse, so that's it for me and adult beverages in mass quantities. Just not worth it. The cramps were nigh intolerable -- I even missed a day of work, which I've not done in a while.

Then, just as things were winding down, my uncle passed away. Road-trip funeral = megastress, which is probably why I spotted and cramped for an additional week.

Now, Week 2 -- a time when I normally have no symptoms whatsoever. Okay, the *only* time. I'm not spotting, but I am cramping. Enough to make me limp. And last night, my body ejected...something disgusting. I Googled every variation of "mucus plug" I could think of until I found some reassurance that I wasn't dying. (If it had happened a week later, I'd be weeing on a stick or three, but it's far too early for me to be ovulating.)

And what bout of pre-PMS would be complete without headaches, zits, and bloating?

I don't honestly know how much of these symptoms are due to pill withdrawal and how much can be chalked up to stress, grieving, and a week on the road (I am not a good traveler). So I'm taking a watch-and-wait approach. Here's hoping I'm not waiting too much longer.