Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Loss: my Dad died ... .and another miscarriage.

The night following the transfer I was bed-resting on an Amtrak train in the middle of Nevada on my way home from Colorado, when at 2AM my brother called me in a panic asking me what sort of measures he should take with my Dad in the emergency room.

What I have withheld from you for the last five months is that my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in August of this year. It was such heartbreaking news. I knew what it meant, my Dad, however, was much more optimistic about his illness. He didn't want me blogging about it because he didn't tell his family until just recently and a few of them follow my blog. So I couldn't share anything on here - which was hard. These last five months my Dad endured bi-weekly chemo treatments, moved in with us, quitting smoking, lost 50 lbs easy (and he was only 150 to start), stopped eating, slowed down quite a bit ... but that didn't stop his spirit. Two days prior to going into the ER he baked 12 dozen Christmas cookies. My Dad was a very functional dying man.

Back to that night, December 22nd. My brother and my Dad were in town, because my brother was taking care of my Dad while we were in Denver cycling. Late that night my Dad attempted to swallow one of his morph.ine pills with some water and instead slipped and choked on the water and the pill - they went right into his lungs. Almost immediately he started with shortness of breath - and he was frightened. My brother called 911, the Fire Department and an ambulance was dispatched and he was taken to the local hospital. Upon arrival the ER docs were grilling my brother on whether or not they should treat my terminal father (most stage 4 cancer patients have DNR - do not resuscitate - directions) they gave my father an hour to live, so he had 10 minutes to make up his mind about treatment - so my brother called me, as I was my father's durable power of attorney and we had discussed and signed his advanced directive ... I knew all of my father's wishes so I immediately told my brother to resuscitate, resuscitate!!! There I was woken at 2AM, trying to stay calm and receptive for these embryos - all the while stressing out about not being able to see my Dad before he died. I was going through scenarios of getting off the train in Reno or Sacramento and flying home to be able to say good bye ... even when I was on the train because I can't fly due to the stress it causes me and these little embryos. Thankfully by 5AM, before the next train stop, my Dad was put on a Bi-PAP and given antibiotics and his diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia was already looking better - according to the x-rays they had run.

I made it home and to the hospital by 8PM on 12/22. I found my Dad admitted to the ICU, hooked up to the Bi-PAP (a partial ventilator) and a glucose/saline IV, very weak, unable to breath on his own, unable to speak, and sleeping. I didn't realize the end was coming. You see this "incident" occurred 7 days after his most recent chemo treatment and most times he hit his physical low 7-10 days following chemo - so we all thought this was a set back for him and not the end. It wasn't until the late evening of the 23rd that I realized that we'd be spending Christmas in the hospital. On Christmas eve morning my Dad had graduated from the Bi-PAP and he was breathing room air - something, I found out later, the doctors didn't think would happen again for him. Then we learned that my Dad had blood clots in his legs, he couldn't move his body except for his arms so we had to worry about bed sores and more clots at this point. But his blood was WAY too thin for his condition (having clots, being a cancer patient, being a chemo patient - it didn't make sense) so we couldn't even give him blood thinner to help him, we just had to wait them out, hoping they'd go away ... and the next day, they did. We snuck the kids into the ICU and had them open up gifts from "Grandpa" in front of him - but he was so out of it with pain meds, I'm not sure he'd say he remembered the occasion. We decorated the room with pictures from our family photo shoot in September (right after we learned of his diagnosis, we took pictures to remember him by - I'm so glad we did this). We put up a tree and lights, stockings, garland, and family photo ornaments to decorate a gift wrap cutout tree taped to the wall. The best part was the santa hat placed on my Dad's cute balding head. That man was loved.

By this time it was the weekend, between me, my husband, and my brother, we took turns watching the kids (Dru and Laila our 6 year old niece) while the other two went to the hospital to visit my Dad. I was there in the early mornings to meet with the staff, strategizing about treatment options, then I'd take an afternoon break to relieve someone watching the kids, then I'd be back to the hospital for the dinner and late night timeframe because my Dad was most alert between 10P-2A. He would use that time to write messages to us on a white board or point letters out to us spelling messages - like "I want to eat" and "let me decide". So he had recovered his ability to breath and his blood levels stabilized, but he had gone 5 days without eating. It was time to start eating or time to start dying. The problem was - he had lost his ability to swallow (something we later learned had landed him in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia to begin with). When I asked our new doctor (let's call her Dr. Kavor.kian) about placing a feeding tube - kick starting him back to nutrition she told me she didn't recommend it and suggested it was time to comfort him into death. I knew my Dad was not ready for that - though I asked him EVERY night - "Dad, are you suffering? Is it time? Are you ready to say goodbye? Because we will support whatever you need to do. Always being answered ... no, I want to eat. So the doctor and I did not get along. As an infertility patient, I have learned to be an advocate - and that's what I was for my Dad until the end. That doctor didn't intimidate me. I held my ground and we followed my Dad's direction.

This was how I spent the first week of my two week wait.

Then came Monday and my Dad was determined to pass a swallow test - so that we could stop talking about feeding tubes or dying and he could get back to living. The swallow therapist came for a visit and my Dad, try as he might, could NOT swallow like he used to. He failed the test and his eyes showed so much disappointment. He had gone 6 days without food and I knew that we'd need to use the feeding tube if he had a chance - otherwise, if he wanted to keep trying the swallow test every day - even to fail - at least he felt like he was still fighting - not just waiting for death to come. That night we delayed in placing the Fente.nyl patch - because we wanted to keep my Dad alert the next morning to pass his swallow test. He agreed and endured the pain all night long, just getting boosts of 1 and 2 mg of Mor.phine while he waited for dawn to break. I met the swallow therapist at the hospital that morning and she brought him vanilla yogurt though he didn't look as excited as the day prior. She gave him a teaspoon of yogurt and he resistantly swallowed it. Somehow, on that day, Tuesday 12/28 he passed his swallow test - we were all in shock. And my Dad whom I thought would be beaming from ear to ear just gazed right passed me, as if I didn't exist. Something had changed.

My entire family was there (my mom and my two brothers - my mom and dad divorced in 2000) - I had invited them down to say good bye because I assumed he'd fail the swallow test and we'd place the feeding tube and because it was a procedure with general anesthetic - I thought there was a chance we could lose him during the process. However, he passed the swallow test so we didn't need to worry about the feeding tube. So the four of us sat together in a nearby waiting room discussing policies, paperwork, funeral wishes, etc. While we were meeting, our Pall.iative Care consult team came and visited my Dad and they had a rare opportunity to talk with my Dad without us there. The doctor saw that my Dad was not doing well. She told him that she's seen this before and that he was a dying man. She asked him about his plans to try to swallow things and recuperate from this illness but she thought he looked like he was in a lot of pain and basically she asked him if he was being honest with his family about wanting to hold on versus being ready to let go and he confided in her that he was not being honest with us - my Dad was ready to go. When this doctor told us this, we broke down into tears ... the LAST thing we wanted was to drag this out. We wanted what he wanted! They recommended the mor.phine drip and my Dad wanted it. We were told my Dad had anywhere between 1 and 48 hours (with 48 hours being very generous) this was at 2PM on Tuesday 12/28 (11dpo for our cycle).

There was about 30 minutes between being told he was ready for the drip and having it actually placed and starting to work. After I got a chance to love on my Dad and tell him that we support whatever HE wants - and kissing him and hugging him and crying with him. I was able to call and reach by speaker phone all five of his siblings, his mother, some cousins, and a handful of nieces and nephews who were all able to say their last good byes to my Dad. It was such a precious and beautiful time. I cherish those words, those acknowledging nods my Dad gave, and the tears running down his cheek. I can't imagine what was going on in his mind. And because he couldn't talk, I'll never really know. But I hope he was glad to have some closure with his family.

For the next 9 hours we sat around my Dad, playing music he enjoys, singing to him, talking to him, kissing him, hugging him, keeping him warm, crying with him. It was beautiful. My favorite part was being able to tell him that I had so much peace about his departure - that we had left nothing unsaid. My Dad and I had the best relationship. He wasn't the greatest Dad from 0 to 18, but he really turned things around and made up for it from 18-33. I couldn't have asked for more. My Dad and I were close, we forgave each other, we were and are kindred spirits. My Dad was such a good man. The things that people kept repeating about him were that he was their favorite ______ (fill in the blank) uncle/cousin/son/etc. and that he would drop everything to help someone in need. He had that giving servant's heart.

I went home to sleep around 10:30 that night, I was very reluctant ... but we knew that I had 3 embryos cooking inside of me and I needed to protect them - it's what my Dad would have wanted for sure. And so I left. At 5:15AM I woke up and looked at the clock, I wondered if my Dad was still alive. My brother called and woke us at 5:19 and told us that Dad's breathing had dropped off ... by the time we got to the hospital at 5:40, he was gone. My brother was there with him, holding him, kissing him, affirming him as a Dad and as a person. It couldn't have been any better. Yes, I would have liked to have been there - but that wasn't meant to be. My brother will forever have that time and that moment and for that I'm grateful.

Barrie Eugene Wadman
August 11, 1941 to December 29, 2010
May you rest in peace

That day my brother, my husband, and I went to my Dad's house to find the important paperwork. Amazingly we found everything we needed - the burial policy and a good amount of the pink slips to his vehicles. I found his living will and learned that he had never submitted the paperwork to make me the Executor nor the beneficiary (which is fine, there's nothing really to benefit). I spoke with his attorney and learned that because my Dad liquidated two years ago - there's really nothing to do except tell his landlord, stop his accounts, and follow through on the burial and memorial service arrangements. There will be no probate process. That and the fact that I'm not the executor makes my life a lot less crazy, so I'm glad for that.

The next morning was 10dp3dt and our time to pee on a stick. Since 6dp3dt I had been peeing on sticks and putting them away without looking at them. I wanted to know if my trigger ever left but I didn't want the emotional roller coaster of seeing BFN's prior to a hopeful BFP ... especially given all we were going through. So the morning following my Dad's death we looked. And the stick was VERY positive. I looked back at all the other sticks and the second line was there the whole time - the trigger never left. We were both subtly excited. The excitement was hard to share with the events of the previous day.

I went in for a 11dp3dt beta (on 12/31) and learned that it was 67. They wanted it above 50, so it was fine, it's just that Dru was 108 and I got a BFN at 7dp3dt with his cycle. So things weren't adding up. Then I went through beta limbo:

11dp3dt: 67
14dp3dt: 114
16dp3dt: 129 (today)

So I'm waiting on a call from CCRM. I'm pretty sure they'll instruct me to stop all medication and wait for AF.

I'm numb. I'm back at work and I'm overwhelmed.

I picked up my Dad's remains today (he wanted to be cremated). We're shooting for a service on 1/23 and 1/29 - one is out of state for his family. We'll see.

So now it's back to the drawing board, with my heart broken wide open.


  1. Oh Polly, I don't even know what to say. I am so sorry for the loss of your father, and I am thinking of you deeply as you sit with your pain. I am sorry, too, for the beta hell and possible miscarriage you are facing. All I can give you is my love, but I send you all of it today. xx

  2. Polly, i have no words to bring you comfort. I just wanted to say how deeply sorry I am for the loss of your father and the emotional rollercoaster of your current cycle. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this very very difficult time.


  3. Polly,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your father. It sounds like you had such a beautiful relationship with him and I know your faith will bring you through this.
    I wish I had the right words for everything you are going through. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. I'm so sorry for your losses.

  5. Oh, Polly.

    I'm so sorry for all of this. I'm not sure what to even type -- how to say what I want to say with the right words.

    I'm so sorry to hear about what your dad was going through and that he passed away. I'm sure he appreciated everything you and your family did for him and that you were there for him throughout the whole thing.

    I'm so sorry that you are waiting to hear back news from CCRM that may not be good...I really hope that isn't the case, but I can't imagine what you're going through.

    Many hugs. Hoping for a miracle for you.

  6. Wow, Polly, I'm so very sorry for all of your losses. What an awful Christmastime you've had. Prayers going up for you guys...


  7. Polly I am terribly sorry for your pain. The heartbreak of losing your Dad during such an emotional time for you and your family must be unbearable. There are simply no words. You and your family remain in my prayers.

    Jody (twinmommyaj-formerly jodeeelynn)

  8. I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I am glad you got to spend some wonderful last days together as a family. I am really sorry to read about your beta results. It sucks. I hope your heart heals soon. Much love to you

  9. Polly--
    There is nothing I can say except that I am just so sorry for your loss. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man, and I am glad there was peace in his final moments.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm praying for comfort and peace in this difficult time.

  11. Oh Polly... I wish I had words. I am so sorry... Just so sorry. We just found ourselves pregnant unexpectedly and miscarrying on Christmas Eve and I can honestly say that the hurt is just as much pre-living children as it is now. It just hurts... And on top of that, with your dad, I am just so sorry. So very sorry.

  12. I am at a loss for words. I am so very sorry for all the hurt and sadness. Be strong!

  13. I am so sorry. I'm sitting here crying while reading this. Lifting you and your family up!

  14. I'm do sorry for your losses, Polly. You are in our thoughts and prayers. The Sharmies

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  16. Oh Polly I was so sad to read this your post made me cry. Your father sounds like a wonderful man.What a beautiful time you spent with him in the end. I am so sorry for the loss of him and I will be praying for your precious embies.I extend my deepest condolences at this difficult time. ((hugs)) Megan

  17. My heart aches for you. You really have done a beautiful thing in loving your dad and honoring him and his wishes. I'm so sorry for all these losses. I pray that you will receive the comfort and peace that you need to get through this difficult difficult time.

  18. Polly, I was thinking about you this whole time and wondering how you were doing. I knew you had some family concerns prior to cycling, I just didn't know how serious. I am so sorry for you loss. I'm glad though that you had time with your dad and he had time to say goodbye.

    I'm so sorry about your cycle. I know the stress and pain you experienced couldn't have helped things, but life is like that, I guess. I just hope that things are better and maybe there is a nice surprise...maybe, just maybe. Hugs.

  19. Polly, I am sitting here crying reading your post. I am so so sorry. Your dad sounds like he was an amazing man and I am so glad you were able to be there for him during his time. I will pray for you and your family. I am also praying for a christmas miracle for your embies.
    Love to you and your family
    Jill (Canada)

  20. Now that was a tear jerker of a post! Polly, I am so sorry for your double loss. I can only imagine how heart broken you are. Praying for peace and healing for you today! Hugs

  21. I lost my dad two days before my negative IVF results. I felt like I lost my past and my future within 2 days of each other. It is so hard, but be strong in your faith that hope will bring a better day.

  22. I am thinking of you! No matter how much time you had to say goodbye, it still can't make the pain better. But you can cherish these last moments you had with him and one day when it is all bearable you will be able to look back and know that you were there, and that will bring enormous peace!

  23. Polly -

    You are a wonderful daughter. I wish I had words to comfort you. I know your Dad knew he was loved. I am so, so, so sorry.

    I'm so sorry about your cycle. I know, from experience, that there are no words to comfort that loss.

    Many prayers and much love, my friend.

  24. Oh Hunny, I cried the whole time I read this. My heart is just breaking for all you are going through. I cannot even imagine. I am so so so very sorry. You are an amazing daughter, and I know your Dad was so grateful for you. Stay strong my friend. You are amazing. Please please take care of yourself. Your post will surely make me snuggle those I truly love a little tighter tonight. I am honored to be able to put a face with this story as that Christmas card you sent with your Father on it was just beautiful.

  25. Hi there - Sorry to hear about your father and your recent beta numbers. You are such a good daughter and I am glad you had that special time with your dad. I will be thinking and praying for you.

  26. Oh Polly. I am so so sorry to read this. You and your family are in my thoughts.


  27. So sorry to read this Polly! I am thinking of you all! HUGS

  28. Polly, I'm so, so very sorry. Your father sounded like an amazing human being.

    Its such a horror that these 2 terrible things have been juxtaposed... nobody should have to face such trials.

  29. Oh Polly, I just cried reading your post. My God, I am SO SORRY for you and your family. Your dad sounded like a strong and WONDERFUL man and it's devastating that he's had to leave you so soon. Pancreatic cancer is brutal - mostly because it just doesn't give you much time, or options. The death of a parent is earth shattering, so be good to yourself. Polly, you've been such a treasure of a daughter to bring him to live with you. I brought my mom to live with me when she was dying from lung cancer and I'm so glad I did. I miss her still EVERY SINGLE DAY but I cherish the moments we did have. You'll find all you've done to be of such comfort to you in the time to come.


    PS: As long as your beta is climbing, I don't think CCRM will want you to stop meds. These things happen. Remember Christina's (Life Through My Lens) wacky betas and the little girl she now has?

  30. I am so so sorry, Polly. That is so much to process all at once. It sounds like your dad was an incredible man and I can tell from your post just how much you loved each other. Hold tight to your memories and be gentle with yourself. Much love.

  31. I'm so sorry Polly. My heart breaks for you.

  32. I'm so sorry that you have lost your beloved father, and have a scary beta, all at the same time.
    I am very happy for you that you were able to have such a wonderful loving farewell to him, and that you were such a good midwife to his passing.
    I wish you all the best.

  33. Thinking of you, hang in there! (

  34. Hi Polly,
    I've been off the boards since Cooper was born, but I have been following your story along silently. I wanted to tell you how very sorry I am about your father. I can relate to your pain. My mother (and best friend) was also suddenly diagnosed with stage four cancer this year and passed away November 18th. We had such a close relationship and she was so excited to finally be a grandma to Cooper after waiting so long. And just when life seemed perfect for us, my mother was taken from us. It is a blow I am still trying to come to grips with. So I understand just how devastated you must be. I am also so very sorry for the loss of your embabie, especially now, in your time of need. We too, have been considering going back to CCRM to try for a sibling for Cooper but have been so devastated by the loss of my mother that we can't fathom the loss of another BFN. I am so sorry Polly. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. I know for me, I have been surrounding myself with pictures and trying to keep my mom's memory alive and know that she will always be with me in my heart.

    Thinking of you.

  35. Oh hon. I'm so sorry that I am just now reading this. My heart is just breaking for you. I am very touched by how your family handled your Dad's passing--such grace and love and dignity. Surely the presence of the Lord was with you. I pray that you continue to find comfort in the shelter of His wing and His love surrounds you all. Will continue to keep you in prayers and I hope that baby #2 will be on his or her way very soon. Much love,

  36. So very, very sorry about all you've been through.

  37. Oh Polly, I just read your blog with tears flowing. My heart goes out to you in the loss of your dear father. I pray our Lord will wrap His arms around you and that His comfort and peace will sustain you in the days ahead for both your losses.

    I am so privileged knowing you and I pray for God's healing touch on you and your family.

  38. I've seen you around in FF and from time to time I stop by your blog. I'm so sorry to read about your father. I lost mine also to cancer, once we found out we had a month with him. So I know how difficult this must be for you and your family.

    I will add you to my prayer list.


  39. Polly,
    My heart aches for you. I know I am months late in learning this news and sharing my prayers, but I am saying them for you ... and hoping that right now, as the spring is starting, your heart has begun to heal.

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