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ing and Humorizing the world of infertility

Life is good

It has taken me a long time to muster up this post. This last sabbatical I have taken has been one of fear, joy, anxiety, nerves, love and hope. Here it goes…

In my last post I had just gone through an MRI to check for septation in my uterus. The follow up appointment was scheduled for June 22nd. I got a call the first week in June that there was a cancellation and they wanted to move my follow up appointment to June 8th. YAY! I was so thrilled to finally get in, get answers, get surgery planned, whatever.

The night before the appointment I was anxious. I just wanted to know what my next steps would be but there was no way of knowing for sure. Hell, even after the appointment things could change on a dime. That’s how the infertility world works, you know? The next morning I woke up at 5 am. Wide awake. I had to pee and decided, what the hell. I’m going to see the RE today anyway, might as well rule out pregnancy before I go in.

I sat down, peed in my cup, dipped the only test I had (a FRER) and yawned while rubbing my eyes. Immediately I noticed a line and got pissed off. I remember thinking “I would be the unlucky motherf*cker who would get a test with the control line on the wrong side.” It took a few seconds before realizing, that was actually the test line.

I. Was. Pregnant.

I began shaking. I took the test to my kitchen, sat down on the bar stool and just stared and shook. It began sinking in. I am pregnant. This was really happening. This line was real. After about 20 minutes of letting it sink in, thanking God, praying, crying and staring I went in to wake my husband up.

Last summer I had made this cute little handkerchief that said Big Brother on it, for our dog named Kidd to wear as an announcement to Brandon that I was pregnant. So at 5:30 I got my dog out of our garage, tied this cute little bandana around his neck and drug him into our bedroom. I shook Brandon and said, “Babe. Kidd has something to tell you.” Of course his reaction was “What the hell? It’s dark outside Paige.” I said, “Look at him. He’s telling you that he’s gonna be a big brother!” By then Brandon smiled and said very giddy, “This couldn’t have waited another hour and a half?” Hell no! I couldn’t keep that kind of news in.

The day I was supposed to consult for a double surgery I found out I was pregnant. What irony. That afternoon instead of my consultation I had betas drawn. Beta #1 at 14 DPO was 864! Two days later, 1856!

Things were progressing nicely, but I never thought about the effect infertility would have on me once I was pregnant. I began having serious anxiety that things would still go haywire. My body NEVER cooperates. It took 15 cycles to get this positive. I had cysts around every corner. My uterus had a septation (which can cause recurrent miscarriage) and now wasn’t going to be fixed. My thyroid was still being monitored. I kept waiting for the ball to drop. This couldn’t possibly be real.

I had my first ultrasound appointment at 6 weeks 4 days and got to see my little unicorn blob with heartbeat flickering away at 120 bpm. In that moment I was so calm. I didn’t cry, didn’t shout for joy, just stared speechless. Brandon and I left feeling so confident in the pregnancy.

I had a second ultrasound scheduled for 2 weeks later at 8 weeks 4 days. Again, the week before the ultrasound I was shaken with worry and anxiety. Could this be real? My body always fails. I found myself trying to distance myself a little from pregnancy thoughts because while I wanted to be happy and rejoicing I was also trying to protect my heart from what I thought was going to be the inevitable. The ultrasound went wonderfully though and we saw how much the little babe had grown in there. It’s heartbeat this time was beating at 172 bpm and little movements could be seen on the screen. Such a happy moment.

I still find myself somewhere between planning a nursery and hesitating to tell people about the pregnancy. As excited as I am, I am also so scared and full of worry at each appointment. I don’t sit here typing this to sound ungrateful for this pregnancy. I am so thankful for being in these shoes! I sit here typing this in hopes of conveying the fact that sometimes pregnancy after infertility doesn’t just make the pain of infertility go away. It’s still there. It has scarred me and it’s something I won’t ever forget. The loss of innocence during this time is real.

If you are currently pregnant after infertility and dealing with these emotions please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Either through comments or emailing me at hopingforaherd@gmail.com.

I know you all will love the nitty gritty details so here they are:

Week 5 – Extreme Fatigue, sore boobs, THIRSTY! (Like drink 3-4 liters a day thirsty)

Week 6- Same as above. Dizziness. Becoming concerned I didn’t have morning sickness. Although some mornings I felt kind of like a hangover after a long night out of drinking.

Week 7- Same ole symptoms. Less thirst. Still concerned about the lack of sickness.

Week 8- Same ole same. Feeling bloated.

Week 9- Getting more energy. Not as thirsty. No food aversions, but no real appetite.

Today I’m 9 weeks 2 days.  I have officially graduated from the RE and my first appointment at the women’s clinic is tomorrow. I am nervous about this appointment as well. I hope at some point the fear and anxiety will subside a bit and I can fully believe that this baby will really be in my arms in February.

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May/June Report Card

Well guys, it’s time to update you on the results of my MRI and what not.

I had the MRI done the last Friday in May and it went pretty smooth. I went in, checked in, laid on a machine for about 45 minutes while they took really loud pictures of my pelvic area. Kind of a weird feeling. I tried not to move at all, as it causes the images to get screwed up. So, I sat there and prayed and sang in my head for the entire time. I just kept repeating, “I am beautifully, wonderfully, and fearfully made.” I remembered that quote from the bible for some reason and it was incredibly comforting.

As I was repeating this to myself (and contemplating getting a tattoo of it) I thought hey, I’m not fearFULLY made, I’m fearLESSly made. Oh the things that come to you when you have to lay still for an hour and take pictures of your insides that scare the bajeezus out of you.

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After the MRI was finished, they told me they would send me the report in the mail and gave me a CD of it. They also sent the same to my RE. This also happened to be Memorial Day weekend, so I knew it would be awhile until I got the results. I googled the crap out of normal uterus MRI images and septate uterus MRI images and kind of think I taught myself how to semi-read MRIs. At the advice of my dear friends though, I did not look at my own images. I didn’t want to freak myself out. So.. I waited, and waited for Dr. Yamakha to call me.

By Wednesday I was calling the office asking for him. I was told that he was not in that day and would have to call me back. Additionally, I was told that he could not discuss the results with me over the phone and I would need to schedule a consult with him. So, I called the office and they set up my consult, for JUNE 22nd! I was so frustrated! If I knew I would’ve needed a consult a month ago I could have booked it then instead of waiting until now, and then waiting another 3 weeks. But, alas, there isn’t anything I can do about that now.

I got my own report in the mail on Thursday and called my RE back to ask him some questions about it. He said he had also looked it over and that he didn’t “like how unclear the report was written and wanted his own radiologist to look at it.” He said he thought I would still need surgery and that we would need to discuss it on the 22nd at my consultation. I was so frustrated at this point.

This last Friday I took the MRI CD up to the RE’s office to have the radiologist read it and now I wait. I am not allowed to do a medicated cycle this month as well. So here I wait until the following happens:

June 22– Consultation about MRI results and surgery scheduling
Mid-July– Probably surgery
August– First FULL medicated IUI cycle

Although this is taking incredibly longer than expected I am trying to just roll with the punches and take each new bump along the road as it comes. I’m going to try to have as much fun and activity as physically possible this summer just to keep myself busy.

As always, thank you all for your support, well wishes, comments, etc. All the support I receive, even if it is online, is incredibly helpful to my self-esteem and emotional mindset! Wishing you all well!

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What does infertility feel like?

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An infertility journey has been described as a rollercoaster, both emotionally and physically. My friends who have gone through (or are in the midst of) it have given the advice to

“roll with the punches.”

One of the things I don’t think our families and friends may realize is how insecure this whole process makes you. It changes your personality. Today I want to give some insight in to what going through infertility truly feels like. This is not in hopes of being a Debbie Downer, but in hopes of providing greater awareness to those who support us during this time and to make even one person going through this feel less alone.

In order to adequately grasp the emotional and physical change that happens during this time, I feel like I should share what life is like before infertility, first.

Before

Before infertility you had a routine. Maybe you got up in the morning, laughed with your husband, then got out of bed to get ready for work (or the day). Then you lingered into the kitchen, pulled out something for breakfast and ate. Once you got to work (or your activity for the day) you probably got focused on what you were doing. You were consumed with what was on your workload, running your errands, visiting with friends, going shopping, you get it, right? Sometime during the middle of the day you grabbed some lunch, possibly with co-workers, a friend, or your husband talking lightly and laughing or venting about your day. When you got back to what you were doing you hammer through the rest of the afternoon until it is time to head home. On the drive home you probably turn on the radio and jam out while releasing any pent up frustration or excitement from your day. Once you get home, you decide a nice workout would be good. So you get your running shoes on and workout clothes ready. After sweating it out, you decide it’s time to plan what you will make for dinner. When your husband gets home, you eat together and talk about how your day went and what will happen tomorrow. After watching some TV and unwinding together you head to bed and maybe share some intimacy before falling asleep. Tomorrow, you will wake up and do it all over again.

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You see, life before infertility was full. Full of laughs, work, activity, and peace. You had some peace. But going through infertility changes a person in the smallest ways, that add up to be the most confining hardships.

During infertility, that routine you had is thrown off kilter on a whim based on emotional states that are uncontrollable at any given moment. Here is a look at what “during the infertility” looks like.

During

It’s the morning and you wake up immediately thinking, “Grab the thermometer.” You fumble in the darkness for the thermometer sitting on your nightstand and shove it in your mouth. When it begins to beep you shut it off quickly, so you don’t wake up your husband. Then, quietly, you look at the temperature and record it to chart your cycle patterns. (Depending on the temperature, it could put you into a good mood or steal any hope you had for this cycle.)

Your husband wakes up and you cuddle and talk for awhile before getting out of bed and fixing yourself for the day. Before actually getting ready, you pull out your daily pee stick. Depending on the day in your cycle you will be doing an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) or a home pregnancy test (HPT). So you hold the little Dixie cup, barely peeing on yourself and then dip the strip. NOW, you can get ready. NOW, you feel comfortable enough taking a shower and putting on that makeup.

As you feel the hot water running through your hair and down your back you begin to think, “Maybe this is too hot. Maybe this is cooking my eggs/baby,” and you turn the water down slightly. As you begin to put your makeup on, your remember to use the waterproof mascara, in case you have a ‘moment’ during the day and need to stay composed.

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Then you mosey on into your kitchen, deciding what to have for breakfast. Cereal sounds good! But then you remember that the nutritional diet you should be following doesn’t encourage so much sugar and actually suggests eating more eggs and whole wheats. So, you make an egg sandwich instead. Even though you HATE eggs, because, it’s for the baby! You begin to pack your lunch for the day, making sure there are all of the food groups included. Especially leafy greens and other veggies because they are packed with the vitamins your body could be deficient in. Then you fill up your water bottle (because maybe pop is the reason you can’t get pregnant) and you head out the door.

Once you get to work you begin to focus on your workload and holy crap is there a ton to do. So you put the pedal to the metal and get going, until you reach that one thing that is supposed to be presented on Friday. FRIDAY!!?!!??! NO! You have to be at your ultrasound monitoring appointment Friday. Oh gosh, now you have a dilemma. Do you cram to finish it early and have it done Thursday for someone else to present? Or do you talk to your boss and possibly just present it Monday instead? Which brings up how you are going to tell your boss, for the 3rd time in two weeks that you need to be gone again. Okay, push it aside. You will talk with your boss later and just cram to get it done early so that they are proud of you and satisfied with your work still.

Maybe today you aren’t working and instead you are running errands and shopping around town. Today you need to get groceries, so you go to the local grocery store and walk around. As you head to the feminine aisle you make sure to hide the 88 cent collection of HPTs that you just picked up under the other groceries so people don’t notice how desperate you look. As you reach the checkout line there is a sweet little family in front of you. A little boy, probably 2, and his beautifully round pregnant momma. You say a little prayer that one day this will be you too and you begin to tear up, right there in the checkout lane number 12. It’s your turn and you suck in the tears as you place your items on the conveyor. The worker begins to ring up the pregnancy tests, 1 after another, by the 4th one her eyes get big and you just know she is thinking, “What the hell lady?” You smile and nod and quickly pay for your items because you just want out of there!

Then it’s lunchtime. Whether you go out with co-workers or meet up with a friend or two the conversation always stays similarly the same. You talk about their families, their lives beyond work. “Ugh, my kids are just such a pain,” they complain. As they talk about the challenges of parenthood you fight the feelings to just shout, “I WANT THAT! I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING FOR THAT!” Then the conversation turns to you. “When will you have kids?” They ask. “You should wait and savor all of your you time while you can!” They suggest. All you want to do is cry. You hold it together and change the topic, or tell them you need to get back to your work/errands and you get the hell out of there. Lately you feel so alone, like you are the 5th wheel when hanging out with your friends because they all already have kids and you can’t contribute to the conversation anymore.

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You head back to work, remembering all that you need to get accomplished by tomorrow in order to go to your appointment Friday. So you bust your ass getting it finished and go to talk with your boss. She’s starting to get suspicious about all these absences and although she appreciates that you got your work done before it was due, you can tell she’s a little irritated and disappointed. You want to tell her so bad, but fear what her reaction will be and the vulnerability you will feel confiding in her about this hardship in your life.

As you get home you think about going to work out, because it just sounds so good. You remember when you used to work out and feel so strong and thin. It made you feel so good! Then your mind remembers what your OB and RE said about excessive exercise and how it can lower pregnancy rates. So, instead of going for a run you grab a few snacks and park it in front of the TV. Your body image is lacking right now. You feel like you are gaining weight left and right but can’t do anything about it. Your clothes are fitting tighter and you wonder how the hell your husband still finds you attractive. After all this, how can he look at me and think I’m beautiful anymore? I don’t feel beautiful or strong. I feel weak.

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A while later you decide to cook some dinner. You love cooking! When your husband gets home you sit down to eat together and update him on the latest appointment you have made. The both of you are nervous for the unknown and what will come of the appointment so you try to soak up the awkwardness and emotion by changing the subject to something completely random.

Side note–On certain special nights, you also ask your husband to inject you with a needle full of hormones before cleaning up the kitchen from dinner.

As you head to bed, you think about what day in your cycle you are on and if it’s essential you have sex tonight to get that good timing in. In an attempt to keep the romance alive, you try to turn him on and get him in the mood but really he knows what this is about and you do too. This is about making a baby. This isn’t about fun, carefree, intimate sex, this is for a purpose. Eventually you get the job done and feel a bit guilty that this feels like a job. You never wanted to lose that spark that you had with your husband. It just kind of, happened.

Before falling asleep, you begin thinking all sorts of thoughts. Oh vacation sounds so amazing right now! Even just a long weekend away would be nice. But wait, you have no idea when your next appointments will be. What if you have to have your IUI that weekend? Vacation will have to be postponed and you are disappointed at that thought. You roll over, make sure your thermometer is easily accessible, and drift off to sleep knowing you will do this all over again tomorrow.

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My point of this long anecdote is not to depress or seek pity from anyone. The point of this post is to emulate how all encompassing and secluding an infertility journey can be. This process effects literally ALL aspects of your life. From your self image to your marriage, friendships and career. It is hard and it is real. It’s not something we need pity for, but we need understanding and empathy during this time. For those of you who are reading this because you have a friend dealing with infertility, know that this is when your friend needs your friendship most. If they have chosen to share with you, they trust that you will be a pillar of strength and understanding for them. They don’t expect you to fix or suggest solutions to the problems, they simply need a safe place to feel and process all the emotions that come with infertility. If you are reading this because you are going through infertility, I hope you feel less alone. I hope you know that you are not the only one going through the confinement and seclusion that is infertility. Your emotions are normal and you are learning how to deal with this one day, hour, or minute at time. Give yourself permission to feel what you need to and reach out to others for support.

If you feel alone, frustrated, or like you are jailed in your own body right now feel free to reach out at any time. I would love to support you through this troubling time.

Feel comfortable to email hopingforaherd@gmail.com

Fighting for my Family

One foot in front of the other.

I’ve had to keep reminding myself this over the last few weeks. I also need to explain my sudden and extended absence from blogging recently. So, here it goes.

During my last update post, I was feeling really down and discouraged about my 21 day LP and no BFP or period in sight. I contacted my RE and he had me come in for blood work as well as an ultrasound. I made the long trek to the office on a Saturday morning and met with the weekend doctor. She was very nice. During the ultrasound I noticed that the picture looked so huge, and different. Unlike my cysts that usually appear on the screen. I asked her what it was and she replied, “This is a cyst, and it looks like it has fluid within it. It could be leftover from ovulation.” At which point my hopes immediately rose that maybe I had actually ovulated, just late, and I could still be pregnant.

I then went to get blood work to check my progesterone levels as well as re-test my TSH while I was there. When in Rome you know? She said she would be personally calling me by 3:00 that afternoon with results and next steps.

3 o’clock came and went. No call.

Then 4 o’clock, 5’o clock, 6 o’clock and by 7 o’clock I knew she had forgotten about me. I was so discouraged and frustrated. I decided I would call Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) to check in with the weekend doctor and ask for my results and next steps.

I was beat to the punch though when my RE himself called me at 6:54 on Sunday, Mother’s Day morning and woke me up. I was a little shocked, but definitely wanted to know what was going on. He explained that my blood work showed my progesterone was at a 1, but my ultrasound indicated my cysts had grown and one was haemorrhagic. Basically, it was filled with blood. He indicated that this is most likely due to a corpus luteum cyst that would develop after ovulation. Additionally, because my period hadn’t showed up yet he prescribed Provera to induce my period. He said because my cysts had changed size as well as became haemorrhagic I would need to cancel the next cycle as well and wait for the haemorrhagic cyst to go away. At this point I was bawling on the phone. My doctor was very understanding and acknowledged how difficult this must be for me. It actually meant a lot to me that he took time out of his day, morning, Mother’s Day with his wife and kids to call me, ME!

Knowing my history of having cysts at EVERY appointment and US I’ve ever had I asked him what the next steps would be should the cyst still be there at my next ultrasound. Simply put, he recommended laparoscopic surgery to remove it if it isn’t gone by my next period.

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SURGERY! Holy freaking shit. I was in shock. Disbelief. Horror. Fear.

I decided to unplug from all technology that day and just spend it with my husband doing things with him that would make me feel like “me” again. The old me I guess. So I did and I began to accept the situation and feel a little better. By that evening, my period had arrived all on her own. Such is life that the things you are waiting for show up when you aren’t expecting. No Provera for me, but this meant another cycle worth of waiting, wondering and praying for these cysts to resolve themselves.

The next day, Monday, my RE called me again. I was in the middle of class when the phone rang and I dropped everything, hushing the students and asking them to color quietly for a few minutes. I answered, hopeful that he had changed his mind and I could continue with this cycle. That was not the case. Instead he said something like this, “Hello Mrs. D, I was reviewing your old ultrasounds and HSG and noticed that they are conflicting. Your ultrasounds show that you have a septate uterus. Your HSG does not match this finding.” Wait, what?! Shock ensued. He then explained what a septate uterus is. When girls are being created in their mothers’ womb, their uterus comes together from two halves and fuses together making one, smooth, whole organ. However, in a septate uterus, the halves do not fuse smoothly and completely leaving a little ‘flap of skin’ around where the halves came together on the inside of the uterus. This can cause recurrent miscarriages.

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Remember, I’m in the middle of my classroom, full of first graders, the week before school is about to get out, and now receiving news that not only an I not get pregnant but when I do I may face recurrent miscarriages. The tears were welling up, I was barely holding it together in front of my class.

Dr. Yamakha proceeded to tell me he is requesting I get a pelvic MRI to determine whether or not I really do have a septate uterus. If I do, he would also like me to have hysteroscopy that would go in and cut out the excess skin inside the uterus and correct the problem.

Now I’m potentially facing not one, but TWO surgeries. The news was soul crushing to me in that moment and I began to feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I managed to finish out the last two hours of the day and leave work immediately when kids did. I called my husband, cried and he came home to be with me. I cried, and cried. Wallowing in my self-pity and feelings of failure.

After a few days, the news began to settle in. I began to accept that this is what my next steps were. I could stand up and fight against this infertility or I could sulk and quit. I chose to stand up and fight. I began calling my insurance company for pre approval of an MRI and looking for the cheapest, yet best facilities to get it done. This week I found out my MRI was approved and I chose a good imaging facility on the front range to do it. After many phone calls between Sally Jobe, my RE’s office, and the insurance company I have scheduled my MRI for this coming Friday at 4:30. Brandon will be going with me for support as well.

Right now I’ve resigned myself to one of the following outcomes:

1. I have a septate uterus and require a hysteroscopy.
2. I have cysts that remain and require a laparoscopy.
3. I have a septate uterus and still have cysts and need both hysteroscopy and laparoscopy (which I will ask to do at the same time if possible).
4. I have no septate uterus and the cysts have cleared up completely, allowing me to move on with IUIs in June.

The odds are, I will need some sort of surgery, but I’m preparing myself to hear those words. I’m preparing myself to go through this scary process in the hopes of being one step closer to a baby in my arms.

I’ve been really struggling with my faith and feelings towards God right now, but at the same time trying to trust in Him. This has been a true test of my faith. I am praying that my body heals and I don’t have a uterine anomaly. Most of all I’m praying for my marriage. This has been hard on us. My feelings have been all over the place and my husband just doesn’t work that way. As much as I know this is difficult for him, we grieve differently and sometimes that’s just hard.

Thank you all for your well-wishes, prayers and thoughts for me during this difficult time for me.

I must share that the day I got the final “bad” call about my potentially septate uterus there was a short rainstorm at my house. The following picture was taken from my front porch. Maybe it is a sign of better things to come… Or two better things to come?

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If it’s what’s ahead that scares you, and what’s behind hurts you, look above and God will guide you.

Still nothing.

Today I just feel stupid.

I am on CD 32 of my current cycle. 18 days past my positive ovulation test. I’ve had 2 BFNs, and AF is no where to be seen.

This was a medicated cycle with 100 mg Clomid and was cancelled on CD 12 due to no mature follicles. I wasn’t responding to the Clomid appropriately.

I know so many of you have cycles longer than 32 days and I shouldn’t be complaining. I just feel so broken. When I’m not on medicated cycles, I can ovulate. When I am on medicated cycles, who knows what the heck happens.

I feel like maybe I should call my RE and ask if this is typical and if there is anything I should do? Then I feel stupid even considering calling because I know that some women have MUCH longer cycles than this and are probably just told to wait it out. Ultimately I feel like my body has let me down again.

I was supposed to be doing a baseline ultrasound and blood work by now. I was supposed to be starting Femara by now. I was supposed to be getting another chance by now. I’m just bummed. So, incredibly bummed.

With the upcoming holiday this weekend, it’s not helping me feel like anything less than a failure.

Thanks for reading my vent session….if you made it this far.

Dear Husband

imageDear Husband,

I want you to know that this journey is something I never fathomed we would have to go on. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would one day be discussing the side effects of fertility drugs over dinner.

I know I’ve been a wreck, but this mess of a situation hasn’t been easy on you either. I know it has to be hard on you watching me cry, become self-conscious and distant for no reason. For that, I am sorry. I wish this could be easier on the both of us, really. Neither one of us deserve to wonder if we will ever get the chance to be parents. Some days I wonder if you had just married someone else, you wouldn’t have had to go through all of this.

I’m sure at times you think I should just “calm down and quit ‘rushing it’.” I bet from your standpoint it must feel like I’m constantly obsessing over doctors appointments, times, sub plans, medications I need to take, temping, charting, peeing on things, etc. You are probably wondering what happened to the laid back girl you married years ago.

I need you to know though, that this truly is a pendulum of emotions for me. One minute I feel hopeful that we are going to try something new and maybe get answers or a chance at getting pregnant. The next second I am stressing that my body will continue to be a failure at the new plans set forth by our doctor. It’s hard not to question and second guess every decision that has to be made after facing so many obstacles. Is this the right thing? Is this what God would want? Is this what my husband wants?

I feel like a magic 8 ball that gets asked all the questions, but never has any good answers.

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I feel like it’s easier for you to see the end goal instead of the struggles I have to face along the way. I have had to undergo painful testing, embarrassing questioning, showing a million and ten strangers my vajayjay, eat funky diets, digest crazy pills, use half of my sick days, plan minute for minute what my sub should do while I’m away at a moments notice and be the one to stare the the Big. Fat. Negative. that I see every month.

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If it was as easy as us just making love and creating a baby I would LOVE to give up all that anxiety. It would be so freeing to just ‘quit hurrying and pushing things’. If only I hadn’t been told that this was only something we have a 2% chance of doing on our own. That statistic was sobering to hear. I feel like I have to do everything I can, every single day, in order to even have the opportunity to get pregnant.

Since my body is the one that has to actually do the work, I feel like I’m the one who has to bear the brunt of the burden. That’s not to say that you don’t have to carry your own weights that come with infertility, it’s just that I carry the physical ones.

During this time I need you more than ever. I need from you understanding, clarity and strength. In my weakest moments, my fearful, anxiety ridden breakdowns of self-doubt, I need you to be my rock. I need to hear those calming words, “I love you. We will make it through this.” I need reassurance that everything I’m feeling is justified and there is no answer at that moment. I need your embrace and genuine understanding of my emotion. I need you to be in my corner. I also need you to be a guide through the decision making process.

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The decisions that have to be made are hard. When to move on to something new? How much of a drug is too much? What will our hard limits be as far as treatment goes? What can we afford? When do we advocate for something else in our treatment plan? These are decisions that we must face head on, together. To put it simply, it takes two to tango. This is our tango.

Above all though, I love you and couldn’t imagine going through this with anyone else. Even though there will be days that I am distant, tearful and hard to manage, deep down I could not keep going without you. You are my person. The one who understands me and knows me better than I know myself at times. You are the future father of my children. You, are my husband and one day I, will be myself again.

With Love,

Your Wife

#StartAsking, #StartTelling

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This week is National Infertility Awareness week. Resolve is a website, dedicated to advocacy and awareness about infertility, that spearheads this week’s campaign to enlighten others about infertility and it’s struggles. Their slogan this year is #startasking, but when I saw this I began thinking they should add #starttelling to their campaign.

I think all of us already navigating the infertility world would appreciate support during this difficult time in our lives. But how do we go about getting support when those closest to us aren’t aware of your situation and struggle? First, I think it’s important that we, as diagnosed infertility patients, #startasking others about their trying to conceive journey.

That’s a bold conversation to have, you might say. Exactly! That’s exactly my point! Start asking others so that you can then #starttelling them your story! So we can finally feel less alone, embarrassed and isolated. Infertility does not need to be a taboo topic. We just need to #startasking and #starttelling our own stories to make this a more accepted topic that individuals feel comfortable asking for support with.

How can I expect my readers to be inspired to share their stories with others, if I haven’t even given you an example of my own “coming out” story.

B and I had been trying for months, around 9 or 10 to be exact when the emotional toll of everything was weighing on my heart so hard. I was crying at the drop of a hat and my husband had absolutely no idea how to fix me. (When I say crying at the drop of a hat, I literally mean, crying when the hat fell off the couch.) You don’t realize how simultaneously emotionally invested and drained you are when you begin to realize that this journey is going to be longer and harder than you thought. I felt so ashamed, embarrassed, nervous and like I would be judged by someone if I told them what was really going on in my life. So I bottled it all up inside and pretended nothing was wrong, while really pushing everyone I needed away from me. My friends and family knew that I wasn’t myself and suspected marital problems. They also quit inviting me to go places and do things with them because I was so…blah. At the time I needed them most, I felt pushed away and abandoned.

After one particularly huge meltdown on my kitchen bar stool, my husband suggested we tell at least my mom in an effort to get some kind of support system going for me. I was nervous, but agreed to try it, hoping that my mom would know all the comforting things to say and do to make me feel better.

So one day I asked her to go to dinner with me. Mid-salad I just blurted out, “B and I have been trying to have a baby since April and it’s not working. I’m having XY and Z problems and I’m scared. I want to see a doctor, but am nervous for what they will tell me.” My mom just sat and looked at me, listening. Tears streamed down my face as I told her everything I had tried, how all my hopes of telling them we were expecting in a surprising way were shattered and how helpless I felt. She replied with, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. I knew something was wrong, but I thought it was with your marriage. How can I help you?”

The reassurance I felt from her that night was unmatched by anyone else at this point. Even my own husband was still in denial of our real problem in the conception department. At last, I felt like I could talk to someone. Open up about what I was having to go through and how difficult it was.

The next month we were beginning testing (due to irregular spotting during my cycle, we began the testing process a little earlier than the 1 year timeline typically given to diagnose infertility). The complete work up for infertility includes a semen analysis, progesterone blood draw, blood work to determine your AMH levels (Anti-Mularian Hormone which shows egg reserve), and an HSG (hysterosonopingogram) which is pretty invasive and painful. A week after my HSG I was making Christmas candies with my sister-in-law and opened up to her about what was really going on. She was shocked, but listened and she began to tell me about ovulation predictor kits (OPKs). I told her I had already tried those things and that I was ovulating and we had good timing, but it didn’t work. This was my first experience with telling someone my diagnosis and them suggesting a solution. I knew she was just trying to be helpful, but it did hurt. I felt like I already had tried everything and was already failing. It was just another unintentional reminder of my failure.

Give grace to those in which you confide in. Seriously, they mean well they just may not have had to walk this road before. They don’t know what exactly hurts and what doesn’t, and to be honest do you? Some days it’s easier for me personally to take those comments, and others I just want to sob. How can we expect the people we confide in to know our every emotion and how to handle it in that moment? Just remember, they mean well, they love you, and don’t be afraid to tell them what you need in that moment.

After telling my sister-in-law I waited a month or so to tell anyone else. Slowly I told my brother, friend, sister, and two other sister-in-laws. My husband opened up to a few of his close friends, and the conversation just got easier. We went from being scared and nervous to talk about this part of our lives to it being just another conversation topic with our friends and family. I have felt more open to share my life and have been given some slack when it comes to my emotional rollercoaster of moods.

I will say that one of the most dreaded people to tell was my boss. I realize that not everyone will or needs to do this by any means. At my workplace though we are a tight knit group. There are about 15 of us that work here in the elementary and we know each other to the core. I just wan’t ready for them to know yet. I wasn’t ready for work to not be my distraction. However, the reality of inconsistent, repetitive and frequent doctors appointments was hitting home. I was going to need to drive 2 hours away 3-4 times within the next 2 weeks alone. We had no subs and I knew that people would start to wonder what was going on. Last month I decided to confide in my principal what was going on. She was super understanding, didn’t ask a ton of questions, and respected my wishes when I said, “I need work to be my distraction right now.” I felt like a burden was lifted off my chest when she said, “If there are no subs, I will personally cover your class for you!” No words can describe the overwhelming feeling of love I received from her just in that sentence.

I still haven’t told the rest of my co-workers, but they are curious as to what is going on. If (fingers are crossed that I would get pregnant this cycle, but that may not happen) I have to go in for another round of treatment next cycle I think I will tell the rest of my co-workers so they can support me as well. I know that they would be more than willing to cover my class, help me with paperwork, etc. if I need to be gone in a hurry. I just need to open up and start telling them so I can get that support.

I know that everyone’s journey will be different and not all of you will be ready to start asking others or start telling about your journey. I just hope you can find reassurance in confiding in one person other than your spouse. Your relationship is going through the wringer right now and your feet are unstable. While it’s good to talk out your feelings with your spouse, sometimes it’s good to gain a fresh perspective by talking with someone who is a “clean slate” for this.

#StartAsking and #StartTelling.

**If you or anyone you know would like to talk about opening up with others, infertility in general, or needs encouragement, support, or just a shoulder to lean on I am always willing to chat. You can email me at hopingforaherd@gmail.com**

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April Report Card

Last time I updated about myself I was about to begin my first medicated IUI cycle. Ha! Here’s my monthly report card:

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First Medicated Cycle- F. (For FAIL)

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind and I apologize for such a late update post. On CD 9 I began doing OPKs to check that I we weren’t going to miss my surge. That morning the OPK was so dark that I anticipated a surge the next day. After some debating, I decided to call the RE and leave a message with my OPK results.

They asked me to come in the next day, CD 10 (last Wednesday), to do an ultrasound and check my response. I got a sub, made my plans and headed to the RE’s office the next morning. The ultrasound tech didn’t say much during the scan, which I usually take as a sign of something not great. I met with a nurse and she said that my follicles were not mature yet and she wanted to do blood work to check my LH levels. I left with another blood vial donated and was told to come back on Friday, CD 12.

So… Again I got a sub, made sub plans, drove the long way up to the office and waited for my scan. The ultrasound tech was more chatty this time, but I could tell that she was trying not to say too much. (Another BAD sign.) She finished taking my measurements and I was sent to the little room dedicated for short consultations after wards.

To my surprise, Dr. Yarmulke  came to see me. This actually freaked me out a little. I mean, I haven’t talked to this man since our initial consultation and had kind of resigned myself to the fact that he only handled the “big stuff.” My heart sank. He sat down and told me that my body did not respond to Clomid. At all. UGH! The frustration was boiling, but I kept my cool. He said that he was going to cancel the IUI because it would be “pointless” at this time due to my immature follicles. (For those of you newbies out there, a follicle is considered mature if it is between 18-20 mm.) He said that next cycle he wants me to try Femara/Letrozole and that some women just respond better to Femara v. Clomid and vise versa.

Needless to say I was disappointed, but honestly, what can I do about it? I guess I’ve been looking at it as one more thing to cross of the list. Hopefully Femara will have a better outlook from my body. I can’t help but wonder though if I have some kind of estrogen producing problem. I rarely have *TMI WARNING* cervical mucous during ovulation and my eggs obviously didn’t respond to the Clomid. I plan to ask the doctor about this concern at my next appointment but for now, I just wait.

Maybe my next report card I’ll make the honor roll! Wishful thinking, right?

Be A Lighthouse

Infertility.

What comes to mind when it’s mentioned? Do you know someone who’s going through it? Have you experienced it yourself? Do you think it’s something other people have, but not you? Is it taboo to talk about? Uncomfortable?

See, I find the best remedy for being uncomfortable is getting educated about what exactly is causing the discomfort. If you had went our for dinner and found yourself exploding from all bodily openings, would you not begin searching for answers as to WHY you are experiencing this? More than likely you would get on the Internet and Google your symptoms, leading you to conclude you had food poisoning. More knowledge = More comfort mentally, not necessarily physically. Kapiche?

At this point, I take it you don’t know much about infertility or you want to share your wealth of knowledge with people who aren’t educated yet. So I’ll help you out with that.

THE RUNDOWN:
Couples under age 35, who have been trying to conceive for a year with no viable pregnancy are encouraged to seek infertility testing and treatment. Couples over 35 are encouraged to seek help after 6 months of trying with no luck. 1 in 8 couples in the United States are going through infertility challenges. 1 in 6 couples in Canada, and 1 in 4 couples throughout the world face this struggle at some point.

Now let’s jump to how the heck this can apply to your own life. I mean, maybe you aren’t even going through this. Hell, you may not even care about babies right now…but I bet you know someone who does.

In the (likely) chance you know someone who is battling infertility, you should know a common list of “don’t” and “instead of” things to say to show your support. Here it goes:

1. DON’T SAY:
“Just relax, it will happen.” This phrase is one that every couple struggling has heard before and nonetheless gets old. Stress alone has not been proven to have a significant effect on infertility. While stressing less would be nice, your infertile friend is hearing you say, “you’re too uptight and need to calm the heck down.” See how that doesn’t sound so supportive?

INSTEAD say something like, “I’m sorry. Would you like to get a pedicure or go to a ball game sometime?”

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2. DON’T SAY:
“Ha! You can come take my kids! I miss sleeping in, doing whatever I want whenever I want to and generally my ‘me time’.” Any variation of a statement similar to this is like a gut punch to your friend. While we understand that not every moment of parenthood may be a dream, it is OUR dream and we can’t achieve it right now. Couples struggling to conceive would give anything to have those early mornings and pull-your-hair-out potty training moments. It’s something we truly want to experience even though we acknowledge that it is and will be overwhelming at times.

INSTEAD say “I wish you could be able to go through parenthood right now. It has it’s ups and downs but you will be a great parent when your time comes!”

3. DON’T SAY:
Sit silent after learning about your friend’s challenges in the procreation department. Seriously, as awkward as you may feel I can guarantee your friend is feeling the most vulnerable of their life. Telling someone you are struggling to get knocked up is one of the most difficult things ever. The childless friend is already feeling a gamet of emotions wider than the Milky Way. They need your support, listening ear, shoulder to cry on and general pillar of strength in their life.

INSTEAD say “Oh my gosh, I am sorry you have been struggling alone. I am here to talk if you want. I would love to know more about what you have been going through and what you want to do next.”

4. DON’T SAY:
“It will happen, in God’s time.” While you, and maybe even your friend, are Christian, your friend may be struggling in their relationship with God. Your friend may not even believe in God and be offended at this very comment. As a Christian who has walked this long road, I can say that this specific comment was hard to swallow. It makes a person feel as though they have committed some sin so great that they are not worthy of a child. It makes someone struggling with infertility question them self to the core. In your well-meaning attempt to bring peace you have really destroyed their confidence in themselves as a decent human being. Congratulations!

INSTEAD if your friend is Christian say, “I will be praying for you!” You could even find uplifting and hopeful scripture to help them. One resource that has been particularly helpful for me is a book called Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake. It has great resources for the person going through infertility as well as their supportive friends and family.
If your friend is not Christian say, “Waiting must be so hard. I can’t imagine what that feels like.”

5. DON’T SAY:
“You can just adopt!” Adoption is a rough road. It is not only costly, but means that both partners come to terms with being unable to biologically have a child of their own. That realization is difficult. It won’t come overnight, over the course of a week, month or year. This decision is not one that is taken lightly by someone working to grow their family. Throwing adoption out there willy nilly will only encourage your friend to shut down talking to you about their struggle.

INSTEAD say “I will support you in however far you decide to go with treatment! That includes if you get to a point where you are ready to press pause and explore other options.”

6. DON’T SAY:
“Have you tried XYZ?” Warning: After receiving advice on getting pregnant, your friend may or may not experience rapidly rising blood pressure accompanied by increased heart rate, red face, and possible emotional outbursts. Any couple who has been trying for a good chunk of time has done some research on what to try. Trust me, they have. They don’t need you suggesting more crap that they have already considered, tried, or failed at. Just don’t.

INSTEAD say, “I’m sure you have tried all sorts of different things. Tell me about what all you’ve done. Are you going to try anything new?”

7. DON’T SAY:
If your friend has experienced a miscarriage, PLEASE do not say, “At least you know you can get pregnant.” Your friend already knows they were able to get pregnant. They probably still have the pee stick to show you they were, at one time, pregnant. They don’t need you to rub that in their face. Their issue is STAYING pregnant, which is way more complicated than you probably know. Miscarriage cuts to the soul and challenges even the strongest of people to question every move they ever made while pregnant.

INSTEAD say, “I am so sorry for your loss. Your baby was as real as any of my own children and I can’t even imagine the grief you are feeling. I am here for you.”

8. DON’T SAY:
“Trying is the best part! You get to have all the sex! *fist bump*” Having sex frequently may be fun to start out with, but when you’ve had sex 142 times in the last 365 days you may have a very different perspective! Many people don’t even realize that medically, having sex more often than every other day can be detrimental to couples who are trying to make babies. Swimmers need time to mature and swim! Using them up before they are ready will only exasperate the problem.

INSTEAD say, “I hope you are still able to have a good physical, emotional and spiritual (only if your friend is, in fact, spiritual) relationship with your spouse right now.”

9. DON’T SAY:
“Maybe you should get a second opinion.” Anyone struggling to come to grips with their infertility has had a hard enough time accepting their diagnosis. Placing even more lack of faith in the doctors is only going to cause further doubt and turmoil. Additionally, the testing required to diagnosis infertility is not only costly but sometimes painful and generally uncomfortable. Here is an overview of the testing process. Redoing all of that testing would cause a burden on all aspects of their life only to receive news they already have.

INSTEAD say, “How is your doctor? Do you feel comfortable with them? Are your questions being answered and opinions being taken into consideration? If not, maybe you should find another doctor who you feel more comfortable with.”

Sometimes our good intentioned words come out completely offensive to someone seeing them through different spectacles. Your friend needs your support now more than ever. Continue seeking out information about infertility so you are knowledgeable when talking to your friend. Show them you care by remembering when their appointments and special dates are. Check in on them but allow them to take on the lead role in the conversation. Understand that there will be days where your friend may not be strong enough emotionally to do things they once used to. Going to the park, a swimming pool, a mutual friend’s baby shower or even seeing your kids may be triggers of emotional turmoil on the hard days. This doesn’t mean your friendship has to end, it just means your friend needs a little slack and reassurance that it’s okay to take that slack right now. Whatever you do though, don’t quit reaching out to them. This is their time of need.

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Don’t you feel more knowledgeable now? Has your comfort level gone up? Above all, remember why you love and cherish your friend. I promise, they are still in there! Even if they do seem like they have left Earth and checked in to some other planet right now.

Here are a few good images I’ve found to sum up infertility as well as bring awareness to others, feel free to share them if you would like!

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