The Complete Egg

The before, during and after of a molar pregnancy, with a side of chemo and a 12 month wait before ttc. And most recently: experience of a healthy pregnancy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Whole New Name

In the spirit of change, I have decided to change my blog's name to affirm what I want in life (and in my ovaries). Not that I'm a huge pusher of positive thinking but I do think that there is some truth in affirming the good.

I've been reading a book called "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie. The process that she has written about is quite simple. Four questions that have you inquire into your thoughts and beliefs. You're suppose to inquire into something that is bothering you. So I tried it out and I thought that I would share.

Thought: I am worried that I could have another miscarriage/pregnancy loss.

Question 1: Is it true?
Yes I am worried and yes, I could have another pregnancy loss.

Question 2: Can you absolutely know that that's true (that the miscarriage will happen)?

Q3: How do you react when you think that thought?
I feel hopeless, like I want to give up. I feel like I'll never be able to have a baby. I get tense and stressed. I feel depressed. I feel resentful of other women who have babies without any problems. I get annoyed at my friends for telling me that "stress caused this to happen". I keep picturing my previous (natural) miscarriage and all the blood, fear, loss and grief. I relive that piece of my myself dying. I relive that nightmare

Q4: Who would you be without the thought "I could have another miscarriage."?
Peaceful. I could be happy now and in my next pregnancy. I wouldn't be so tense and stressed out. I could enjoy myself - now and in my next pregnancy.

Turn-around: I am worried about my thinking that I could have another pregnancy loss.


I tried this process with things that were bothering me about my mom and I had some big insights. When I tried it with this thought (above) I didn't have the same light-bulbs going off. I get that I'm worried about something that may not happen and I see the pain that it causes me, however I don't feel the catharsis that I experienced when I did the process regarding my thoughts about my mom.

Katie says that the there is no need to drop the thought but it will drop you after you go through this process. She says that sometimes it is subtle. I keep doing it with different thoughts that come up regarding my fear, anger, disappointment, jealousy.

Her blog has a bunch of videos showing her doing "the work" with a number of different people. My favourite one is when she is facilitating the process with a man in prison.

Recently, I've been really bothered about the wait time. It really brings me down when I think about waiting for another 10 months. That seems like such a long time. That's enough time to grow a baby and deliver it. My oh my.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Measuring in

- 10 months 7 days before we can try again
- 1 month, 21 days beta hcg's at zero
- 2 weeks, 4 days until my husband and I go to Hawaii
- 1 month, 9 days until I start work again

When I look at those numbers, it makes me feel like I'm living in the past or the future. Who am I right now?

Actually, I feel really content right at this moment. When I don't think about the past or the future, I feel really happy. I can sit here, drink my tea and write. It's terrific!

When I think about the past, I feel sad and resentful. I think "Why me?". I feel like someone has been taken away from me and I will forever feel that "ghost limb"...that part of me that has been taken away. I feel like that energy, that potential was wasted. What was the point? What was the point of all of those changes in my body when that life was not meant to be on this plane.

When I think of the future I feel anxious but also hopeful. I worry about the blood tests and whether the GTN will come back. I worry about if we should try to conceive after 6 months, instead of 12. I worry about whether it will be more difficult to get pregnant now after I've had a d&c. Will I ever have a successful pregnancy, a healthy baby, an easy birth? It's never-ending.

So, for right now, I'm going to stay in right now because it is so simple and easy. I can look out at the snowy winterland outside and I'm warm, I'm comfortable, well fed, with no pain. All is well.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Email from Hodges

So I emailed the cemetary manager that I wrote about in the previous post. This is what I said:


I read about the infant memorial garden in the Vancouver Courier and I was very moved. What a wonderful gift you have given to so many people.

The article made me think. Why do we not have any memorials to commemorate the loss of miscarried babies? I know that in Japan they have Jizo statues that are thought to watch over the mizuko, or souls of stillborn, aborted and miscarried babies. The West doesn’t really have any recognized ceremony or tradition to honor these lost ones. I’m sure that many women who have miscarried would appreciate having a space at the cemetery devoted to ‘mizuko’. I know that I would.

Has there been any thought given to this idea? I’m not sure what form it would take. Perhaps the dry river bed memorial could be extended for a section for people to commemorate their miscarried babies. Or something else nearby? A fountain?

Thank you for taking the time to consider this request.


And this is what he replied on a Friday afternoon, soon after I emailed him:

Thank you for the email. There are a number of other infant projects that we are considering. Our first task was to provide an opportunity for the thousands of infants buried here to be commemorated. It has taken us many decades to address this situation. I do not have a date or time frame for the type of memorial you suggest but I would like to do something like that. It will not take decades to complete but it may take a few years. We still have two more existing infant areas to address.

I will add your email address to our notification list and when such a place is developed we will try to contact you.

I am so inspired by this man.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Little Loved Ones they Lost

I sat down at my usual spot at Granville market, with my favourite latte (they make a beautiful design out of the coffee and the foamed milk) and a crepe (a spur-of-the-moment splurge). I was preparing to settle in for an hour or so of writing and reading and sipping and savouring. Then I noticed the headline of the Vancouver courier left on my table: "A grief delayed". Intrigued, I began to read and I'm glad I did.

The article described how the local cemetery has established a memorial garden that commemorates all the babies that died between 1914 and 1971. These babies were buried in mass graves and their short lives were not celebrated or mourned with a funeral or a headstone. The article describes how "in those days" the pain of infant deaths and stillborns was swept under the carpet (sound familiar?) and the parents and families were counseled to stay strong and put it behind them.

The cemetery manager, Glen Hodges, who planned the memorial garden at Mountain View cemetery became interested in planning this memorial garden after he found out about these mass graves. It became even more of a priority after his wife had a miscarriage. He said "We were devastated. I don't know if it compares to losing a child after birth, but it was really difficult to deal with."

Now, as a result of this project that Hodges has organized parents, many of whom are now grandparents, can find out if their baby that passed away many years ago is buried at Mountain View. They can purchase a stone that can be engraved with their little loved one's name. Their grief can now be recognized in a more "official" way by society.

This was the first time that I had read any human interest story about miscarriage and infant loss in the local media (except for Pamela Andersen's recent miscarriage). It was so thoughtfully written and such a beautiful story. I only wish that this manager had thought of a way to include babies lost to miscarriage because unfortunately, this absence continues to maintain the status quo that miscarriages are to be grieved about in private (and in silence).

In Japan, women or families place Jizo statues in the cemetery. I would consider doing something like that for many reasons. One of the reasons would to be see how many others have been through this tragedy and to feel connected and not alone. Also, there may be others there grieving for their loss outwardly.

Perhaps I will write something on a small stone to commemorate my miscarriage and I'll place it among the other stones that are there, in the dry river bed memorial at Mountain View. Would that be disrespectful to the babies buried there? Hodges planned it so that there was one stone for each child that is buried. I would be changing the integrity of the memorial. I'll have to think on that. It may not be appropriate.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Number of times stuck by a Needle Hall of Fame

29 times in the past 4 months. It could be more than that and I've just blocked it out.

The guy taking my blood today asked me if this was my first time having a needle. Hah! Little does he know. First time I've had a needle from you honey.

I never used to watch the needle go in but now I do. Now, it has become like a test of courage. It's not the needles I hate anymore but the wait time to get the bloody thing. I waited an hour today to have blood drawn. What a bunch of crap. Teach me how to take the blood and then I could just deliver it! Talk about the banking model for health care. I would like it if a nurse at my family doctor's office took my blood. Then I could say hi to my doctor and get to know the nurse. The people at this lab never remember me.

I need to find some way to make these blood tests fun. I need to associate it with some kind of treat afterwards or during the waiting. Perhaps next time I will treat myself to a yummy, fattening froo-froo coffee and I will bring a long my mp3 player and listen to some loud rock. Or, I could figure out how to text people on my cell phone and do that while I'm waiting. Or, I could write notes and pass them to people sitting there waiting. Then, after the blood test I get to buy myself one piece of clothing or have dinner out or something. It's all about the rewards.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Faith, Forgiveness and Sleepless Nights

I can't sleep again. Some nights it just hits me and if I lie in bed it just seems to intensify the insomnia. Insomnia is very distressing to me. I've always been a good sleeper. And when I don't get enough sleep I get really messed up and usually sick with a cold.

Lying in bed I was telling M about how I feel that the Universe doesn't really care about me and my life. I liked what he had to say in response. He said that he thinks that the Universe (aka God) is so big and complex that it is not totally possible for us to comprehend. But there does seem to be a tendency towards harmony. He used the analogy of cells in our body, saying that we don't worry about or pay attention to each individual cell in our body but we do want them all to be healthy. The organizing force in the universe does care about the health of its individual parts.

I guess I don't need to take the events of the past few months personally. That sounds totally ridiculous because how could I not help but take all of the events in the last few months personally? But there is something to that. I think. I am scatching my foggy insomniac brain.

I do feel like I need to make peace with God. I've usually felt quite connected with that loving creative force. But since these two great losses, I feel somewhat forgotten or betrayed. And it's not that I haven't had tragedy in my life before. My parents divorced when I was young, my brother died a few years ago, I've lost a number of relatives who I was close with. Throughout all of that I did not feel like what I do now. Now, I understand that bad things happen to good people and we don't have a lot of control about what happens to us. We do have control about how we will respond to any given situation.

I also think that the universe does have intelligence and consciousness, but it is also a random system. I'm not sure any(big)ONE decides what will happen to who and when and how. Things happen.

I still believe that everything is connected and life is essentially good. I guess that's what I have faith in...that life is essentially good even with all of the loss and heartache.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Mother's Miscarriage

I've known about my mom's miscarriage for a long time. I can't remember when or who first told me about it. I don't remember being too upset about it but that's probably because whoever told me wasn't that upset.

When I had my first miscarriage, I asked my mom a few questions about hers. She's a Brit at heart (her grandmother was from England) so she favours the stiff upper lip and all that. She rarely, if ever, gets teary or emotional and I feel her discomfort when I cry.

I couldn't get many details from her. She said that she had had her miscarriage at school and a coworker took her to the hospital. She couldn't remember how pregnant she had been. They did a d&c as she was "hemorraging" (my mom often uses this she says that she hemorraged after I was born and she often hemorraged with her periods). My uncle came to pick her up and take her home. When I asked her why my uncle, she said that my Dad and her had had a fight the night before. She blames the miscarriage on the stress from the fight .

My Mom doesn't exactly seem particularly upset when she talks about her miscarriage. Mind you, I guess it was over 30 years ago. I wanted to know how long it was before she conceived me but she doesn't remember. She did say that the memory of the miscarriage faded when she had me.

Why isn't her re-telling of this story enough for me? I want more details, more emotion. Was she sad? Did she have anyone to talk to? Did she think twice about trying to get prenant again (she had already had 3 children)? She makes it all sound so matter-of-fact and not really a big event in her life. She has had a bunch of difficult experiences in her life. I suppose she has a way of dealing with painful things privately. Or, maybe she hides her feelings away.

Have any of you had your mom share with you about her miscarriage? What was it like? Did it comfort you?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One Month after reaching "Zero"

Yesterday it was one month after my hcg levels reached "zero". I'm still a bit confused about the whole wait time issue. I was feeling better since talking to my doctor and he said that I could get pregnant after 6 months. Then today I did some reading and it said that there is a 3 to 4% chance that the gestational trophoblastic neoplasia can return. That's small but after the odds I've had, I don't know. I really don't know.

I have questions. Like, what if I did get pregnant after the 6 months but before 12 months and I happen to be one of the unlucky women that has the GTN come back? Doctors wouldn't be able to tell it was back, or would they? I guess if my hcg levels got really, really high. And then what would happen? Is it worth the stress? Mind you, there is always risk with anything in life. Although it's only a 6 month difference. I'm obsessing. I need to let it go.

I look at the green form that indicates all my blood test dates and I see September 14 2007 as my last blood test. After a fun summer, we would be relaxed and ready to try again. There would be no lingering what ifs (well, at least less what ifs). That would be good. By the time I go back to work this January, I will have been 0 for 3 months. 12-3=9. Six of those months will be consumed by school and then two months off in the summer. Then it will be September. That seems doable. I just have to chunk it up into manageable bits with lots of rewards. It's not as if my whole life is about baby-making. But the clock, she is a ticking and very loudly.

I feel like I've aged throughout all of this. Aged in spirit, that is. In some ways it feels like I am shedding an outgrown skin. I'm in the uncomfortable phase right now. I do believe that there will be a time that I feel young and innocent again. It's a state of mind.

Trying new things and meeting new people help me to get to know myself in new ways. I feel how I've changed and how I look at things somewhat differently, with more compassion.

I can be whole admist this loss. That is a lesson worth mastering. I will not hold off living my life fully right now even though I get sad and feel like something, make that someone is missing. The Buddhists say that we are reborn with each breath, in each moment. I resolve to let go of my grasping with each breath.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Note to Self: Avoid IKEA on rainy weekends

I ventured out to the suburbs to IKEA to cure my woes by buying new things. I admit it completely. I was partaking in a little, no, make that a lot of retail therapy even though my better self thinks that that is shameful.

I had forgotten some things about IKEA though. On weekends, it is like playland for families. It is filled with families and moms and babies and pregnant women. Talk about facing your pain head on. It opens you up. I felt the need to curl up on one of their IKEA couches in one of their smartly designed displays and keen for my misplaced dreams.

Then there were the young couples. I would see a young couple (early 20s) and feel somewhat sad because I would never have that innocence about pregnancy back again. Any pregnancy following this will be connected with my two previous pregnancies and losses.

Next I would see a couple with a family and I think: "Will I have that?"

And let me not forget the women with their big, round bellies with her husband/boyfriend touching her lovingly, protectively, proudly. I was ready for the floor to swallow me up. That particular ache is very hard to describe. It's maybe a little bit like after a big break-up with your first love. But of course it's different than that. It was new life and it was love embodied. The ache and pain is a physical one. It is a silent pain.

I try not to be small when I'm around pregnant women and women with babies. I want to be bigger than this pain. I want to send them loving thoughts and know that it will be me someday. Somehow, it will work out. Until then, I just have to feel those intense feelings of loss and sadness. It's something that I can't escape.

On a positive note, my livingroom looks fabulous!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sometimes you just don't feel like smiling

Not an incredibly fitting title considering that I was feeling really good today, really content. However, the past few days have been filled with drama and insomnia and I still can't figure out which caused the other.

The drama rotates around finding a new place to live. Minutes away from signing a rental lease on a new condo that wasn't perfect but that we felt would work out, I spotted a clause that had been ticked and that we were to initial, indicating our agreement. The clause read something like: "At the end of the 12 months, the tenant will move out of the apartment." This, of course, raised alarm bells especially considering that below this clause there was another one that was un-ticked that read: "At the end of the 12 month lease, the rental may proceed month-to-month or at a fixed term."

What followed was a long and frustrating, heated discussion between me, M and the rental management guy about what this meant, about the Tenancy Act, about the intentions of the owner, etc., etc. Needless to same it spoiled a perfectly fine dinner out. We were expecting him to arrive later at the restaurant where we had planned to meet. It must have been very bad dinner theatre for the people around us.

This rental management man was convinced that we didn't understand and we were convinced that the owner didn't know whether she would sell after the year was up, thus leaving us without a home. Finally, we decided that this wasn't the one. Perhaps this is what my insomnia the night before had been trying to tell me. I had not slept the whole night. At all. I'm not doing so well tonight either considering it's 3:07am.

Earlier in the day I had had my weekly blood test where the nice lady asked "What's a molar pregnancy?" I proceeded to give my spiel about the empty egg being fertilized and the placental cells growing out of control, etc., etc. She was confused by parts and asked "You took the chemo when you were pregnant?" to which I responded: "No, they had to do a d&c before the chemo." She then asked "Was this your first baby?" and I had to explain that no, I had had a miscarriage previous to this. She seemed quite motherly and sympathetic, so much so that I teared up (something I hate doing in front of people I don't know). Why do people feel so entitled to ask these questions?

The day continued to be "heavy". I went for my yearly pap smear, something that is not without stress. I revisited again the whole molar pregnancy/chemo trip with my family doctor as she hadn't seen me since she had referred me to the gynaecologist. She was kind and talked to me about my experiences. There was no rushing, Thank God for small miracles.

The day culminated in me returning home and crying myself to sleep. We're talking a great sobbing mess. I don't remember gulping for air like that since I was a kid. M was my hero and stroked my back, encouraging me to cry as much as I wanted, let it all out, it was healthy, it's okay, it's good to cry, you've been through so much.

When I was about 6 or 7 I think, I was flying down for my monthly visit to see my mom. Oh, the life of a child of divorced parents. The flight attendants were being very friendly with me as they were responsible for making sure that I was safely met by my mother. They were cracking jokes and attempting to amuse me. I was particularly solemn that day and I recall wondering why they wanted me to pretend that I was happy. One of the attendants asked "Such a pretty girl like you, why aren't you smiling?" I remember looking directly at her and saying "Sometimes you just don't feel like smiling." Things got kind of quiet after that.

Today was a "feel like smiling" day though. The crying brought catharsis. I've also realized that I love the neighbourhood that I'm in and I can make it work where I am right now. That has brought some peace. The Universe is giving me plenty of signals, in boldface, that indicate that it is not the time to move. I have been ignoring those signals up until yesterday. Now, I have let it go and it's a relief.