Ectopic Pregnancy · OPKs · Trying to Conceive · TTC · Two Week Wait · TWW

Feeding the Monster

Stomach aches.  Ovary pings.  An extra day of spotting.  These are a few of my biggest fears (bonus points if you sung that to the tune of ‘my favorite things’ in your head).  Ovaries are supposed to take turns each month on who releases the egg, and according to the cramping and pressure on my right side, it must be righty’s time to shine.  And it doesn’t feel great.  There is no manual on What To Expect When You’re No Longer Expecting: A Guide to Surviving Ectopic Pregnancies, so I was blindsided when it felt like something was actually shifting.  Ovulation, yeah?  I figured I was being thrown a bone – now I get an extra sign that I’m actually working!  Except when I took an ovulation test (expecting to see a shining positive and smile in triumph that I’m beating the system) it was negative.  I crinkled my forehead as I stared at the strip daring to tell me that I was not currently fertile.  Do I ovulate earlier because of the ectopic now?  Later?  NOT AT ALL?!  I’m back to my anovulatory cycle theory, completely disregarding the stress and anxiety and total wrongness this caused me in August.  So much for succumbing to the process.  I tried to pull the same stunt last month – had all these symptoms that I thought meant I was ovulating like crazy and then…negative.  Took an at-home progesterone test in an attempt to put my mind at ease – negative.  Pregnancy test (I knooow….) – negative.  Can’t catch a break with the BFNs.

Why couldn’t I just let it be?  

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I will admit, I felt more (dare I say) calm during my days when I was completely free of the TTC mindset.  There was a tickle of pleasure when I first realized I had no idea what cycle day I was on, but that realization lit a fire inside me and drove me to start counting dates and making notes of my symptoms.  It’s like my anxiety synced up with my Two Week Wait and symptom spotting is inevitable.  After I caved and tested, I looked up progression lines and tried to determine if it’s possible I just ovulated, which caused the negative tests, or maybe it was going to be positive soon?  (The additional super negative test the next day said that was not the case.)  This is a prime example of why you start testing a few days before expected ovulation.  Or, why if you’re supposed to not get pregnant for twelve weeks, that you don’t test at all.  I couldn’t outsmart the toxic combination of curiosity and fear – the movement in my right side (and, I’ll be honest, an evening before when we were a little “forgetful”), left me unable to ride out the rest of these weeks in peace.  A day later my left ovary decided to speak up – a small lightning bolt of fury at what I can only assume is directed at picking up righty’s slack.  I started imagining an assembly line of eggs struggling to push through a web of scar tissue on my right side, and instead being shot over like a pinball to my left in an attempt to keep up with the timeline.

When is a pinch in my ovaries, or a simple stomach ache, going to go back to being just an annoyance rather than a paralyzing fear that an egg is trying to burst through my tube?  How do I train myself to avoid that gut-punch thought of: Am I ectopicing again?!   There are moments where I have a sharp pain and turn to my husband, wide-eyed, demanding that he remind me I would have known by now if I was bleeding internally.  On a bad day, my thoughts get reduced to two simple words: why me?  And then the parrot-like reminder chimes in, “Could be worse! Could be worse!”  Am I supposed to be glad that this is all that happened to me?  The best of the worse case scenario, yes, but grateful I am not.  It’s like a scab I keep picking.  One blip in all these months and I’m left walking through an exhibit of this moment forever.  

Ectopic Tour Guide: On your left, you can see the spot where she told her husband this could be an ectopic pregnancy, and can you believe it – they laughed.  Ah, straight ahead is the hallway where she continuously called her doctor’s office in a panic.  And if you squeeze in here, you can be in the actual stall where she confirmed both that she was pregnant, and that there was something seriously wrong happening.

Can’t I go back to being just plain ol’ bitter, instead of ectopic-bitter?

This is my fear talking.  Cycle #2 is fast approaching and through my weekly, “Happy (insert number here) weeks!” greeting to my husband, there’s a hint of dread.  Because if we aren’t successful next month, I no longer have my crutch of an excuse that we weren’t allowed to be trying.  Not to mention that if anything seems off, I’ll have the dreaded E-word looming over me, threatening to make it’s 15% chance of appearing again.  Doesn’t seem fair considering I only have a 20% chance of becoming “regular” pregnant, but I’ll let that one go for now.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready to jump back into TTC, I just don’t know if I’m ready for the familiar stench of disappointment that has latched onto it.  You never do know though, maybe – just maybe, I have two pink lines in my future.  Optimism, where are you?

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Ectopic Pregnancy · Methotrexate · Two Week Wait

Two Week Wait Version 2.0

In a mere two weeks, my hCG levels went back to normal (my doctor’s choice of words – I would’ve preferred a concrete number – am I at 5, or 0?!) and I’ve been given the green light to pick back up on all the can’t-dos that came along with the Methotrexate.  And honestly?  I’m finally starting to feel more than just “okay”.  Not a watch-My-Baby-Is-Gone-on-Lifetime kind of okay, but good enough for now.  Regardless of the lingering pressure in my ovaries, I’m pretending this is my ectopic-closure.  It’s over(ish).

During this two week wait, I missed TTC enough that I spent my time Side Effect Spotting, which isn’t hard to do when your ovaries are gurgling like a digesting stomach (the memory of that sound, and simultaneous feeling, still makes me shudder).  The first few days it was easy to blame everything on the Methotrexate: nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain, the gurgles.  Even walking provided new challenges as going too far, or too fast, left me gripping at what felt like a runner’s-cramp in my side. I went from religiously going to the gym, to laying on an air mattress in my living room – self soothing with carbs and cookie dough.  My physical and emotional pain had to battle for my attention.  It was hard to feel so utterly…not me.  Eventually, worse side effects moved in: cracking wrists, aching bones, what felt like a bubble sitting in my tube…and bubbles BURST.  Was this just my body being weird, or something more sinister?  Is this the Dry Socket Fiasco all over again?

The Dry Socket Fiasco (formerly known as The Worst Thing Ever – until now): When I got my wisdom teeth taken out, the nurse that I had claimed as my new best friend (thanks, anesthesia) sent me away with nothing more than a wave and what I assume was a hefty bill for my parents.  I spent the first week of my sophomore year winter break lying in bed, dependent on perfectly timed painkillers, none of which actually killed my pain.  My mouth had the most unbearable ache, but I continued to tell myself this is how it’s supposed to feel.  Except it wasn’t.  When I went for my follow-up visit a week later, I discovered that I had dry socket and that I “should’ve came in a lot sooner” (sound familiar?).  I was beyond frustrated.  They pulled out two of my teeth – how was I supposed to determine what was abnormal and what wasn’t?

The results of my negligence (which is irritating to say even all these years later, because I didn’t know) were that I had to rework my jaw open to a “normal” size”…by myself…using my knuckles.  Apparently, if you’re wondering, most people can fit two to three knuckles between their teeth – after only a week of barely speaking and eating due to the pain, I could only fit one.  It was a miserable personal rehab, and to this day my jaw still clicks.

This memory left me feeling haunted, not ignoring the fact that I had already ignored all the symptoms pre-ectopic discovery.  The stars completely misaligned for me last month (believing I didn’t ovulate…negative pregnancy test…weird spotting that I thought was because of not ovulating); I didn’t want to fall into that same trap.  The day after I whimpered in the middle of the night due to my creaky bones (which I firmly believed was caused by me taking Ibuprofen without realizing I wasn’t supposed to be taking Ibuprofen because the handout they gave me did not follow the pharmacy’s instructions that specifically state NOT TO TAKE IBUPROFEN) – I decided to call my doctor’s office.  “Hi, um…my bones hurt.  I just want to know if like, this is normal, or if I should be concerned, or if I’m making this up.” *nervous laughter*  My social anxiety is always pushed to the limit when I make phone calls.  Or order at drive-thrus.  Or speak to people.  Turns out, like I already knew, Methotrexate is akin to chemo and therefore you’re expected to feel achy (though it felt more like my bones were slowly disintegrating), and I should “just take some Ibuprofen.”  

So I stopped calling.

There was another sleepless night where I was stuck in my own head and convinced myself that the pressure I was feeling meant that my tube was about to burst.  Is this it?  What’s it going to feel like?  Am I going to just get overwhelmed with pain and have to go to the ER?  Am I supposed to go there now?  But this really doesn’t feel THAT bad…  And it wasn’t.  Either I have an incredibly high pain tolerance, or everything I felt was as I described – pressure. discomfort. achy. bearable.  Daily I reminded myself of a favorite saying of my Mom’s, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”  She usually said that when I had a cold and would probably be horrified to realize I was applying that to what could’ve potentially been a ruptured tube, but here I am: better.  Heck, I can even walk without getting a cramp now!  

Surreal doesn’t do this experience justice.  Even when my doctor called to give me my final results, I sounded skeptical.  “So – this is it?  No followup ultrasound?  No HSG?  We’re all good here?  …I was seriously pregnant?”  She mostly wanted to remind me about not trying to conceive for the next three months – as if I could possibly forget about the time she added to my already long sentence.  At least being able to take my prenatal vitamins today felt like a small achievement.  Funny how something that once irritated me and made me feel ridiculous on AF days, now fills me with excitement and dare I say…hope.

Like with my clicking jaw though, I can’t help but wonder: what mark is this ectopic pregnancy going to leave behind?

Trying to Conceive · TTC · Two Week Wait · TWW

The Do and Don’t of the TWW

Ah, so we meet again, Two Week Wait.  I never knew that two weeks actually consisted of 4,398 days and yet, here we are.  This is the time when I lose the last bits of my sanity and my mind can only focus on two things: reasons why I’m definitely pregnant, and reasons why I’m definitely not.  Sprinkle in talking about TTC with my husband every five minutes, add a dash of symptom spotting, and that pretty much sums up my TWW.  I’ve started to develop a “it doesn’t matter, what’s done is done” attitude about the TWW, but that doesn’t help much when your end goal is to try to find out what exactly was done (ie. did we figure it out this time or not?!).  I still marvel at the women who say, “Realized I was 3 weeks late –  just got my BFP!” as I’m sitting here constantly re-checking the calendar to see how many days I have until I can test.  What’s their secret?  How do they just “forget” when the day of reckoning is upon them?!  I’m going to be real with you, I have very little advice for how to get through these weeks (hence the singular use of ‘do’ and ‘don’t’).  I’m just an impatient woman trying to get through one of the worst parts about TTC.

The Do: Always Be Prepared

That’s right, I stole a Boy Scout motto.  It’s no use pretending I’m not thinking about if I’m pregnant (which, no technically I’m not because implantation occurs 7 DPO, so chill TF out self!), so instead I find a better way to direct my thoughts.  I make plans.  Plans about when I’ll take my HPT, how I’ll announce to my husband, what I’ll do to keep friends and family from finding out too early.  The announcement plans led me to purchase the below onesie (after my husband and I have both boldly stated we “feel good about this month” – so I’m officially a jinx-aholic).

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Is it completely adorable and will my husband (who casually asked if I was “thinking of ways to announce to him” – uh, well now I am!) love it?  Of course.  Do I now have my mind filled with images of me sobbing over said onesie every month for the next year?  Yep.

I make plans for if AF shows up what I’ll try for the next month (yes – I have a running list, including Month 7 where it just says “call sister”), and begin finding reasons why it’ll be okay if I’m not pregnant (you do have that Bachelorette party in two weeks…and think of all the deli meat you can still eat)!  This may come as a shock to you, but I’m a strong believer in the “Drink Till It’s Pink” philosophy, mostly because it keeps me living life as normal as possible and it’s a helpful distraction (in moderation, of course).  

I even check my TTC app to see what my symptoms were the previous months so that I can begin to ignore nausea, fatigue, and cramps as anything but that: symptoms.  There’s no guarantee that anything means pregnancy, so I just keep preparing for either outcome.  This all might sound crazy and not helpful, as you’re trying to avoid thinking about pregnancy all day long but…YOU’RE GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG.  Might as well take a note from this Type-Aer and put those thoughts towards something that feels way more productive than symptom spotting for two straight weeks.

The Don’t: Google Every Symptom

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Google was my BFF for the first three months of TTC, because every time I searched something I immediately discovered that I was 100% pregnant and I should run around celebrating that cramp I briefly felt in the morning.  Google is the gateway drug to symptom spotting.  You want people to say that you’re pregnant because you woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee?  BOOM – three articles and several chat sites where everyone says that’s how they first knew that they were pregnant.  What about the other thousands of articles saying that you don’t have increased urination until later in pregnancy?  Nah, they’re probably wrong.

The best and worst thing about the Internet is that you can always find what you’re looking for – which can be dangerous when we’re talking about getting hopes up that you’re pregnant.  I used to search every little symptom (like: what does morning sickness actually feel like – because an apple and peanut butter sounded disgusting and I NEED TO KNOW IF THAT MEANS I’M PREGNANT) to the point where it started to autofill “early sign of pregnancy” for me.  For instance, I’m a grown woman who still gets bloody noses (super fun) and after I recently typed in “frequent bloody noses” Google once again autofilled “early sign of pregnancy”, and I thought, go on…

The Entire Internet: Bloody noses during pregnancy don’t occur until much later – like, third trimester later.  Get off the Internet and stop acting like a mad woman.

So, I don’t search things anymore.  As a semi-veteran TTConceiver, I’ve learned that it causes more harm than good to read into every little twinge and stomach ache.  Just keep yourself busy in other ways (even if it’s baby-related distractions) and find a way to reward yourself for all the hard work you did the previous week.

Of course, none of this applies when AF actually shows up.  You have my full permission to lose your damn mind and wallow in self pity for her entire visit.