Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mixed Emotions

Well I am sad happy to report that I started my period so my cyst did indeed resolve itself.  I am glad that my body seemed to figure things out and starting my period means we can move forward with our FET in June.  Which is great news.  But even though I know, KNOW, that I didn't ovulate due to the cyst it's still hard to really feel joy when your period comes.  There's always that tiny voice in the back of my mind saying *maybe*.  Sigh.

But moving forward is good!  And I'm anxious to implant our little frosty and see where he/she takes us!  I'm continuing to focus on having only positive thoughts and trying not to think any further ahead until we know what happens.  I have a rough outline of next steps if this transfer fails but I'm not going to let myself start putting anything in motion until I see this through.  So one step at a time and this small one is the beginning.  Here's to hoping the third try is the charm!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


It's amazing what a few days away from the every day struggles will do.  My husband and I just returned from an impromptu long weekend in Mexico to celebrate our anniversary (which landed on Easter Sunday this year).  We booked the trip last minute through our travel agent, who's a family friend, and got a great deal.  I felt a little guilty about spending the money when we've got medical bills piling up and still no baby.  But when push comes to shove I knew it was needed.  We needed the time to reconnect.  I needed the time to get away both physically and mentally from everything we are going through.  Since the miscarriage I've been stuck in a very ugly place.  It had gotten to the point where I barely recognized myself and I definitely didn't like what I saw when I looked in the mirror.  I'm happy to report that this morning the person I saw was someone I knew.  Our time away was as close to perfect as it can get.  We soaked up the sun and warm weather, drank fruity drinks by the pool, made new friends (that knew nothing about our personal situation), had long intense conversations about every subject under the sun, and lived in the moment with no schedule or timeline.  Mostly importantly we celebrated our anniversary and our relationship.  I know what we have is special but I also know there's days I take it for granted.  I was never one to believe in soul mates, but my thoughts on that have changed since we started down this long road to create a family.  I'm not sure I could do it with anyone other than D.  So we celebrated and as we embark on our next year of marriage I can't help to be hopeful about what it will bring.

With our return to the real world came my appointment to have the cyst drained.  My mom took me to the appointment as D couldn't take another day off of school.  We arrived and they drugged me all up only to find out that the cyst had decreased dramatically in size since the week before.  It was measuring at 55mm on last Tuesday and this Tuesday it was down to 14mm.  It seemed like my body was taking care of the problem on it's own <insert shock and awe that my body was doing something right>.  They are thinking I should start my period in a week or so and that would be plenty of time for us to make it into June cycle.

I'm hoping this is a small sign of the good things that are to come in this next year of marriage and this next cycle.  It's still hard for me to get too excited with only our one little embryo to transfer.  But thanks to our trip away I feel a little bit of my faith, positivity, and hope coming back.  And it's a welcome return.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week

National Infertility Awareness Week.  A year ago I didn't know this week existed.  Now, it's one I'll never forget.  This week we are encouraged to speak out about our struggle, our experiences, and our pain to generate awareness that infertility not only exists, but affects 1 in 8 couples.  Yes, you heard me right.
1 in 8. 

I thought a lot about what I wanted to write.  There's a part of me that feels like I am not entitled to write a post like this since my blog is anonymous.  D, my husband, isn't fully comfortable with being as open about our struggle as I am.  I think in part he worries about me and people saying things that would cause me more pain.  I think part of it is him being a more private person than me.  And I think part of it is him not knowing how to handle all of this.  Whatever the reasons he's my husband and I respect his wishes.  I'm hoping that it doesn't make me a fraud to write a post about Awareness when I'm doing so anonymously.  But the truth is that I have a cut in this game.  We are in it - deeper than we ever imagined we would be.

Where do I start?  When my husband and I were married we couldn't wait to start trying to have a family.  While I've always thought in my head that my biggest fear in life would be not being able to have kids, I never truly expected to have to live out that fear.  In fact, I was very open with our friends and family that we were trying.  Like if I said it out loud it would happen.  Obviously it didn't and as we began to know more about what we were up against I spent hours upon hours researching all of the tests they were running on us and the potential diagnosis.  My emotions were all over the place.  Of course there was fear and worry.  But mixed in there was also shame and embarrassment.  There's such a stigma around making a baby.  When a woman gets pregnant men are congratulated, patted on the back, proudly declaring their manhood!  What a manly man that gets his wife pregnant!  When you struggle to conceive a child you feel like there's something wrong with you.  We were put on this earth to procreate.  It's the most basic of our instincts as humans.  And when it's not happening you begin to question everything.  What did we do wrong?  Are we being punished?  Why is this happening to us?   On top of all of the pain it's not socially acceptable to talk about.  And that stigma only deepens the hurt, embarrassment and shame for those of us experiencing it.  My friend Amanda wrote this....

Infertility lives in the shadows. No one wants to talk about reproductive organs, menstrual cycles, or intercourse. No one wants to admit that reproduction, the most basic of functions alludes them. It's far more glamorous to pretend the Hollywood stars bearing children in their forties are the norm. No woman wants to imagine that her reproductive clock stopped ticking in her twenties. No man wants to worry if he's "man enough" for the task. It's far easier to ignore infertility, to shove it further into the dark recesses and hope it goes away. But the truth is that infertility is more prevalent than ever before. Even if you are never affected by infertility, I can almost assure you that you will know someone who is. 

After getting over the shock and disappointment of our diagnosis that is when the hope crept in.  Ok, so having to do IVF to have a baby wasn't ideal (or cheap!) but we could work with this.  No one would even have to know.  I remember my brother telling me at one point "it's not like the baby is going to come out with IVF stamped on his arm!".  So as we (shamefully) accepted money from my parents and prepared for our first IVF cycle I comforted myself with the fact that this would work and everyone would *think* we were normal, even though we were not.  

I'm here to tell you after 2 failed fresh IVF cycles and awaiting number 3 the pain has definitely not dulled.  And I'd like to tell you that the shame and embarrassment have but that wouldn't be 100% true.  There are other emotions that have crept into my over crowded mind as well.  Anger.  Jealously.  Bitterness.  These are not pretty emotions and I'm not proud that I have them. But it's part of dealing with infertility and what we struggle with every day.   

What I can tell you is that what gets me through is knowing there's a whole community of people out there fighting the same fight as me.  I am NOT alone.  WE are not alone.  And the love, support, and understanding I've gotten from this community has been a light in the darkest tunnel.  

It's time to bring infertility out of the shadows. It's time to say, "I am the face of infertility." It's time for infertile couples to feel supported rather than ostracized.  Resolve to know more... know the signs, know the language, know the options. Resolve to know more for yourself. Resolve to know more for those you love

With that being said below is a great resources if you have a friend or loved one struggling with infertility.  So many people, wanting to be helpful, say damaging and hurtful things.  

And once again from my wise and sweet friend.....

If you yourself are not infertile, but someone you know and love is dealing with this painful diagnosis, you too should resolve to know more. It is a breath of fresh air to someone dealing with infertility to carry on a conversation with someone without needing to explain every single thing. I don't really mind explaining or educating, but sometimes it's exhausting. You certainly shouldn't feel like you have to know everything, but you'd be surprised at how supported you can make your friend or family member feel by knowing what IVF and IUI stand for (In Vitro Fertilization and Intrauterine Insemination) and the differences between the two. Or if your friend or family member is looking into adoption, know some of the differences between domestic and international. Resolve provides some excellent resources to help you get started. Believe me, showing an interest in this VERY important part of your person's life will express love more than anything else. There have been times when I've felt like I lived and breathed infertility. It was the ONLY thing on my mind, so when a friend asked how things were going or remembered that we'd had an appointment with our doctor, I felt so loved. The reason to know more isn't to solve the problem for your loved one, so don't spend your time researching quick fixes. Rather spend time learning about what your loved one is interested in or planning to pursue. The reason to know more, isn't to fix the problem, it's to communicate that you care.

 So if you are reading this as a fertile person I encourage you to become informed.  For even if you don't currently "know" someone dealing with infertility odds are one of those close to you is or will be.  I challenge you to care enough to educate yourself to be the best support that you can be.  To think, before you speak.  To research before you advise.  To be patient and forgiving, for your loved one is in the midst of an ugly battle both physically and emotionally.  And most importantly that a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen is the best medicine.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Art of Living in the Present

Well I survived the ultrasound yesterday and it was not as traumatic as I thought.  Though I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach, once I got in there it was business as usual.  Dr. H was quick and to the point and it took him only seconds to find the cyst.  Sigh.  The good news is it isn't large enough (yet) to cause me any discomfort.  They are currently getting pre-approval from our insurance company and then we are looking to drain it sometime next week.  They will just go in through my cervix with a catheter and a needle and drain it.  So piece of cake.  The bad news is that it will delay us so that we can't do the FET until June cycle.  

I've been such a Debby Downer lately struggling with our failed attempts, the medical bills that are piling up, all the unknowns of the future and all of the hard choices that lay ahead of us.  After my pity party today (as I wrote out $3000 in checks for medical bills) I finally just had enough of myself.  I decided to start living in the present.  I remember last June thinking that I better enjoy the summer because we could have a baby, or at the very least I'd be pregnant by this time next year.  And here we are with the summer in our sites and I, obviously, do not have a baby and am not pregnant.  However, I'm going to force myself to live in the present and enjoy where we are right now.  My husband and I will be celebrating our anniversary on April 20th (Easter Sunday) and booked a last minute get away.  When we return back home our sand volleyball league will be starting, we'll be getting our boat ready, and Memorial Day will be here before we know it (one of my favorite holidays on the lake).  Life goes on and my plan is to enjoy what each day brings.  I know myself well enough to know that there will be days when the sadness creeps in and probably even some where it over takes me.  But even though we are struggling with infertility I don't want to let it define me.  We are blessed in many other ways and it's time I start remembering that.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Facing your Fears

Well today I'm heading back to my clinic for an ultrsaound.  I haven't gotten my period yet after the miscarriage and they want to check for cysts.  Honestly I can't get past the ultrasound part to even comprehend what it does mean if I have a cyst.  I'm assuming it will postpone our next cycle for the FET.  Which sucks, but like I said all I can think about is being back in that room and what happened last time I was there.  Logically I know there's many, many more ultrasounds in my future with IVF and hopefully someday another pregnancy.  So I need to face this fear and just get over it.  I just can't stop thinking about everything that happened last time I was there and all of the emotions seem to come right back.  But I'm ready to move forward and this is part of the process so I just need to suck it up and get it done. As we all know battling infertility has lots of dark moments and difficult situations so this is just another one that I'll face on our journey to a family.  I would do anything, absolutely anything, to make that happen.  So I guess I'll take a deep breath, grit my teeth, and get this over with hopefully as quickly as possible.  I'm grateful, yet again, for the fantastic staff at my clinic who will be by my side and make this painful experience a little bit easier.  D is going to come too, even though he probably shouldn't take the time off of work.  I didn't even have to say anything he just knew how difficult this would be and told me he'd be there.  I feel very lucky and blessed that I don't have to travel this road alone.

There's a small stupid part of me that was hopeful that we'd conceive naturally during this cycle.  I know that our chances of this happening are so slim but I couldn't help but hope.  You hear all of the stories about how you are the most fertile after a miscarriage.  But I'm almost positive I didn't ovulate this cycle at all and even though my period is late I feel absolutely normal.  I've had no cramps, no sort of symptoms of any kind.  I couldn't bring myself to take a test and see another negative today.  So I'm just moving forward with our appointment today and I guess we'll know soon enough what's next.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Waiting Room

Since our early miscarriage I've been living a life without pills, timelines, injections, and doctor appointments.  I have to admit I spent the first week or two constantly feeling like I was forgetting something!  But, I am finally enjoying being medication free.  So that brings the question of.... where are we on our journey to a baby? We are where every girl in IF land finds herself - The Waiting Room.  We are simply waiting for my period to come.  If it arrives by next Monday then we can start on BC and will be eligible for a May FET of our 1 little embryo.  If it doesn't arrive then we continue to wait and will have to be bumped to June cycle.  I am at peace with whatever happens.  Of course I want to continue to move forward, but waiting another month won't send me over the edge. It seems I've finally accepted that I truly have no control over any of this.  And I've learned that the waiting (for your period, your beta, your baby) is the hardest part.

My stay in The Waiting Room over the last four weeks has been rough.  I've been mourning the loss of the baby that I carried for 7 short weeks.  I've been dealing with grief, anger, and unbelievable sadness.  But throughout all of these emotions one thing has remained constant and that is our desire to have a child.  My good friend Amanda recently wrote an amazing post (as most of hers are!) about Hard Choices and next steps.  Her post pushed me to start looking ahead instead of dwelling on the past.  The options she laid out for herself and her husband are exactly where we are at.  And after much discussion I think my husband and I are on the same page with how we want to move forward.

Even though we have our reservations about just transferring one embryo we have decided to move forward with the FET as our first step.  Financially it just makes sense.  We are very lucky in the fact that D's insurance does cover part of our infertility treatment.  But even with that help a fresh IVF cycle is significantly more expensive than a FET.  So it's hard to justify spending the money for another fresh cycle when it *could* not even be necessary since we do have 1 embryo left.  Yes, we transferred three last time and still have no baby but it only takes one.  So we'll start there either in May or June depending on when AF wants to make her appearance.

Looking beyond the FET (because I'm a lady that always has a plan) got more complicated.  Our options are to try a 3rd fresh cycle at our clinic at the very highest protocol, transfer to another clinic (options include another clinic in our state or some place like CCRM), donor eggs, domestic adoption, and international adoption.  As of right now it doesn't appear that carrying a baby would be the problem, but it's more my egg quantity/quality.  So I don't think surrogacy would be a fit for us since someone else's uterus won't help my rotten (forgive the pun) eggs.  So after much discussion D and I have agreed that we aren't ready to give up on having a biological child yet.  D's insurance provides coverage for up to 4 fresh IVF cycles over the course of your life.  We've used up 2 of these but still have 2 left.  While we all know CCRM has amazing statistics, we would also have zero insurance coverage.  So we'd be looking at approximately $30,000 without travel (correct me if I'm wrong CCRM patients!).  Since we can do IVF in our state for about a third of that cost it seems logical to exhaust our options in state with coverage before we move on to that option.

So then the decision becomes do we stay with our clinic or get a 2nd opinion?  I adore the staff at our clinic and I do like our doctor a lot.  It sounds like he's more involved than some other doctors at different clinics.  He does all of our monitoring u/s's and we meet face-to-face for WTF appointments.  I have his email address and he gets back to me within 24 hours if I email him questions.  He started me out on a protocol that was slightly more aggressive than their standard protocol due to my elevated FSH level.  After our 1st cycle had, let's just say, less than stellar results, he bumped me up to a higher protocol.  Basically they rate their protocols 1-10.  I started at a 6 and then our 2nd cycle was at a 8.  It did yield better results as we had more eggs, a higher level of fertilization, and 6 embryos that were contenders at Day 3.  We transferred 3 of them and let the other three grow to Day 5.  Two of those 3 arrested and one made it to blast and was froze.  (This is the embryo we will transfer for our FET).  So better results than the 1 embryo we had from cycle 1.  If we do another fresh cycle at our clinic my expectation would be he would increase my protocol to a level 10, the very highest.  Which would hopefully yield more eggs, more embryos, and more chances for us.

However one of the options that D is interested in is transferring clinics.  There's another clinic a couple hours from our home that has a pretty good reputation.  We both know people who have worked with them and gotten pregnant.  I chose our clinic based on my own research, the research and referral of a close friend, and the fact that they are located right here in our hometown.  D thinks that it can't hurt to get a 2nd opinion and I  can't really argue with him.  If we go to a consultation at this new clinic and the doctor tells me his protocol would be similar to what we are doing for me it's a no brainer - I stay where I"m comfortable.  Now if he suggests something vastly different from what we have tried that's when things get interesting.  While I"m intrigued by trying something new that could potentially get better results I'm also hesitant.  What if this new and different protocol fails miserably and we wasted one of our precious 2 insurance covered cycles on it?  We have seen improved results with Dr. H and there's no reason to believe that by doing another cycle with them at the highest protocol we wouldn't get the same or better results.

In order to try and keep this post a reasonable length (ok, I may have already surpassed that) I have agreed to at least attend a consultation at the new clinic.  (Even though I feel like I'm cheating on MY clinic)  It seems like it's a proactive step and something we need to do.  Once we hear what their recommendations are then we'll try to make the best decision for our potential family.

Until then you can find me lounging in The Waiting Room.  I'll be enjoying coffee in the morning, regular workouts, "snuggle" time with my guy whenever we feel like it, and a glass of wine or two at night.  Hey - the least I can do is make my Waiting Room as comfortable as I can right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Living in a "Fertile" World

The last three weeks in the "fertile" real world have hit me pretty hard.  When you are struggling through something as painful and private as infertility it feels like there are triggers everywhere.  For me the worse part is the guilt that comes with the feelings I can't control.  My best friend's little boy turned one last week.  I feel as if I couldn't love this kid more if he were my own.  His first year of life has been full of challenges for him to overcome and the road ahead of him is a long one.  However this brave little boy is sweet, happy, rambunctious, and curious.  He continues to amaze us everyday with his strength and courage.  But being as involved as I am has a price and sometimes it's my heart.  His birthday party this weekend was not only a celebration of his first year of life but of all of the struggles he has overcome.  And while my heart is filled with so much joy to see him growing, smiling, playing and laughing, it also breaks a little every time I see him give my husband a kiss or my mother-in-law pick him up.  Selfishly it's a reminder of what I can't give them - a baby of their own.  And while this specific situation is close to my heart it feels like I'm surrounded by a million others.

To me this part of the infertility struggle is the most private.  Regardless of if your family and friends know you are fighting this battle, the difficulties that face us every day often go unnoticed.  It's the lady at the grocery store with the toddler.  The co-worker in your office who just announced her pregnancy.  The girl (emphasis on GIRL) in my neighborhood with her big pregnant belly  The painful reminders are everywhere and there's no escaping them.  So while your family may know that you are sticking yourself with needles everyday and pumping yourself full of hormones they most likely have no idea the internal pain that you have to deal with daily.

My husband and I sit side by side on the couch and the silence in the room when a pregnant woman or a baby comes on the TV is deafening.  The birth announcement that came in the mail is like the elephant in the room.  And each of these is a reminder of how very far we are from having a family of our own.  The jealousy sometimes feels like it will overtake me.  And then I find myself questioning God's plan.  Wondering (again) why this is happening to us and when will it ever end.

We've all been there when the feelings of happiness for a friend or family member and our own internal feelings of sadness, bitterness, and jealousy feel like they may tear us in half.  Most days I'm proud of how I handle the pain.  How I'm able to push my own feelings aside and focus on someone else's joy and blessings.  But it seems lately there's been more dark days than light.  But Spring is coming and with it comes the sunshine. I'm hoping and praying a little bit of that shines on our life and can bring back the light.