Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor day!

Another summer is done! No complaints here- we had a lovely summer and I am kind of itching to get back into school.  I have a full class this year- 8 students! We had four kindergartners pop out of the woodwork, and they will be joining my already awesome group of 4 (one moved at the end of the school year and one was moved across the hall, as I normally have 6). We are going to be super busy, especially since we are rolling out a new curriculum.  Lots to learn this year, and this first month is sure to be a doozy.

B had a rough end to summer at work.  His boss passed away and her son took over the office.  He has done an awesome job though, and hit a higher quota than ever before!  I am so proud of him and the way he has powered through all of these changes.  He is so much stronger than he often gives himself credit for, and I am glad I have him in my life, even when we disagree on chores :P

But as it is Labor Day weekend, or rather, the end of Labor Day weekend, it is time for me to be grateful again.  I am often grateful in my day to day life, but a moment today humbled me.  B and I received a generous gift that will help us meet our goal even faster.  We were so excited when we met the IVF goal earlier this month, but still knew we had a bit of a way to go to hit the $3500 in meds that are left (we bought $1150 of the meds at the end of last year with my FSA and will be putting the $1228 left from my FSA towards this cost), as well as the ICSI portion of $2400.  That means we are still looking at about $4700 left to save at this point.  And there are still some rebates for meds that we should be receiving which will be less than $300, but believe me, every.cent.counts. and I am absolutely NOT complaining!

So grateful is probably an understatement.  B and I were shocked, as it was very unexpected.  And the awesome people wanted to give this gift on Labor Day because, well... they hope I'll be having my own "labor day" sometime next year.  I won't lie.  I cried.  Those were the first tears I have allowed myself over IVF in the last year.  But I am proud to report that they were happy tears, not tears of desperation.  I cannot even find the words to express how wonderful it is to cry happy tears over all of this, especially with waiting so long after our last attempt. Thank you for this wonderful gift... the money means everything, but the love in which it was given means even more.

So, enjoy these last few hours of Labor Day... I know I am cherishing every last moment.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Endless Summer

It's never really endless though, unless you are working hard on saving money for something you really, really want!  B and I have had an amazing summer thus far, and I am finally ready to get back on track with everything here.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer "off" this year, and feel confident in everything I (we) have accomplished.

School ended well, and we immediately left for our annual trip to HHI (that we have missed the last two years due to saving for IVF two summers ago and buying our house last summer- all in all, good reasons to miss vacation, but still sad for us!).  We had an amazing time with my parents and brother, SIL, and nephew.  It was well worth the two year wait, though we are hopeful we won't be missing vacation again in the future! After vacation, I went right back to work with Summer School- ESY.  I had a lovely summer working with my favorite people and children.  We had some wonderful visits with friends and family and even did some more work on the house! Our guest room and guest bathroom have been repainted (thanks for the help mom and dad!!), and we are having the furniture refinished for a more updated look.

So, onto the IVF front.  In July, I met with my doctor again, and we came up with a plan after an ultrasound revealed another cyst had formed on my right ovary.  Previously, the cyst on my right ovary led to laparoscopic surgery to remove it (back in 2008), so I have been pretty worried about that stupid cyst. The doctor wanted me to do Day 3 blood work and a saline sonogram somewhere between cycle day 5 and 15. So I had my blood work done last week, as well as my blood draw for the HIV test (relax, we get it done every time I have IVF, it's just a precaution). Then yesterday, my mom joined me for my saline ultrasound as moral support since last time the pain was pretty intense.  I won't get into the fun of a speculum, ultrasound wand, and catheter shooting water up your hooha, but it was a BLAST! The really cool part was watching everything on the computer screen, even mom was impressed!

The doctor declared my uterus looked perfect- finally some good news- and then took a look at my ovaries.  The cyst is still there, but is shrinking, so she is confident it will not cause any issues with starting IVF.  YAY!! I had a bunch of follicles on the right ovary, while the left side was chilling this week.  Under medication, the left side always seems to pop up for action, but on a normal basis, it is lazy as crap! All in all, the appointment went really well and we are very pleased with the outcome.

On another note, we have fully funded our account for the IVF portion.  B and I were so excited when the last payment from ESY came in and we were able to put the money in our IVF savings fund.  We still need to save up for the ICSI portion, which is another couple thousand, but it feels great to know that we are paying for everything completely out of pocket and not charging anything or creating more debt.  This is HUGE for us, and I am very proud of how hard we worked to make this happen.  So, hopefully, in a couple more months, we will be planning our next round of IVF and paying for it free and clear!

Thank you to everyone who has continued to follow this blog, even though I have been slack as my left ovary.  I am working on more posts, though many may not be about IVF because I truly do not want to be defined by this struggle.  There is so much more to me and my family than this journey, though this journey has been a huge part of our life.  I really appreciate the responses and even the comments about why I haven't updated!  I'm sorry, and I will do better! Have a lovely Tuesday and best wishes to everyone.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Money and Organization- Great Combo!

Since we had this beautiful three day weekend, I decided it was time to reorganize my files and paperwork. When decorating our Living Room, I knew I wanted a organize our paperwork in a way that was attractive, but not necessarily in a filing cabinet (unless I could find a nice wooden one instead of the stock metal cabinets). I found the perfect complements to our overall design from The Container Store (help me if one ever comes here!  For now, it is a safe distance away).  I had originally picked up some items from the Bigso collection in Turquoise on a trip with my bestie, and I loved them!

Desktop File
Pencil Cup
Letter Sorter

After realizing that one file box was not going to meet our needs, I decided another stop at The Container Store was in order, but I couldn't wait for our next trip to DC!  B said to go ahead and order whatever I wanted, so I did, but I was able to get free shipping and used a coupon to make my order total more palatable (of course, all of this was bought before the big spending freeze).  So, I perused the site, and decided to add a little fun with a new print from the Bigso collection, that went well with the pattern of the curtains we bought from Target and the muted colors of our rug. So I few more desktop files and a set of paper drawers were soon on their way!

Desktop File
Paper Drawers

Living Room with our Bigso collection

(Excuse the crooked rug- my cats love moving it!)

Anywho, back to my reason behind the post tonight.  With the first file box, I sat down one night and diligently labeled all my hanging folders and organized all my paperwork.  Then I shoved anything that didn't have a folder and all the paperwork that arrived at our house after that night into the new desktop files.  I took part of Sunday to reorganize everything and get our files in order.  It was a long task, but I was so happy with the results!  Throughout my organizing, I kept coming across paperwork from various treatments over the years, as well as all the receipts from our 2 rounds of IVF.  We've had several people ask us about the cost of IVF recently.  Since B and I are really focused on saving for our next round, as well as paying down debt from previous rounds, I figured it would be nice to do a post about our actual costs with IVF.

Thus, this post (with a completely uncompensated plug for The Container Store- I just love my stuff!).

We have been very lucky with our choice of fertility clinics.  The Jones Institute is world renowned, and the pioneers of IVF.  Although we haven't been lucky enough to be successful yet, I know they are doing everything they can to help us achieve our goal.

One of the best things they offer is a payment plan for the IVF.  We have had to put half down prior to the process beginning, then once the transfer and all have been completed, we make a payment every month for 6 months.  The initial cost for IVF is $6830.  Since B has major issues with his "boys," we also have to pay $2420 for ICSI- IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (something to help give our chances a major boost by getting rid of the weakest sperm and utilizing the best).  This brings the initial total to $9246.  Jones then divides that total in half and we pay $4623 up front, and have the other half broken into 6 payments of $770.

But we aren't done yet!  Then you have to add in the medications for each cycle.  Those can range from $3000 to $5000, with very little price breaks or help from insurance.  Oh, all that stuff up there ^^? Yeah, none of that is covered by insurance.  Nothing, Nada, Zip.  That is all out of pocket.  The medications?  I am thankfully able to pay for part of them using my Flexible Spending Account (FSA) which just means it is divided up over the year from my paychecks from a non taxed account.  I am very grateful for that.  Since we didn't do IVF last year, I was able to pay for half the meds out of last year's FSA, and plan to pay for a good chunk of the rest of the meds from this year's FSA.

So, now we are at $12,246 (if we had the low end of meds- which hasn't happened yet!) to $14,246 (using the high end of meds).  We fall somewhere in the middle of the two estimates, but I don't have the exact med total in front of me.  Then we add in a check for $400 to pay for the anesthesiologist that puts me under for the retrieval portion of the IVF.  You have to pay that the day of retrieval, or the price doubles to $810.  We always have our check ready!

Since we have never had more than 3 eggs removed from me that lasted, we have not had to get into Cryopreservation or monthly storage fees, but those are also added costs that may or may not be in our future.  The Cryopreservation is $1000 and the monthly storage fee for the frosties is $60.  Pretty much a drop in the bucket compared to everything else! We have always said we will cross that bridge when we come to it, but we are confident that push come to shove, we can meet those payments easily.

So, in the last 3 years (just with IVF, I am not even counting the money we utilized before then), we have put $26,000 into starting our family.  And we are hoping to toss another $13,000 into that mix before the end of the year.  Yep, we have basically paid for a college education just to HAVE a child. (and after looking at college rates for my Alma Mater- I recognize we only paid for a year and a half of education there- WHOA! It did not cost that much when I was there!).

Our biggest hope and prayer is that this next round of IVF works.  I'm not sure what our steps would be if it fails again, but I know we have choices, and we will give all of those choices the thought and research they deserve.  We would also love for some embryos to be preserved so we could try again at a quarter of the cost of full IVF to add another child to our family, but I promise, I would be over the moon with just one!

Anywho, I hope I broke down the costs of our IVF a bit better for those who were wondering.  It's not an easy road, emotionally or financially, but I am confident I am traveling this road with the right person.  We may not have a child to share our love with (YET!), but we do have each other, and that's pretty damn good :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Post Mother's Day

I chose not to post on Mother's Day because it is never an easy day for me.  The last two years have been even worse for me, but I try not to dwell on the sadness.  It's definitely easier to be sad and let the grief and loss overwhelm you, but just because something is easier doesn't make it right. So, this past Sunday, I decided to do the right thing, focus away from the sadness, and set my sights on making this Mother's Day special for my mother and for my family and friends.

We had my parents over for a lovely Mother's Day "Lunner," yes, that is lunch and dinner.  B was awesome and made the whole meal from scratch for my parents and I to enjoy.  We wanted to keep things low key, especially as this Mother's Day fell on the 5 year anniversary of my Nana's passing.  It was a bittersweet day for my mom, and I wanted to make sure it was enjoyable for her.  I think we succeeded!  I am very grateful to B for treating all of us to such delicious food and for keeping the day as stress free as possible for me (no easy feat!).

I am also grateful for so many of my beautiful friends that took a moment to think of me, even though I am not a mother (yet).A family member of one of my kids (who doesn't know about our infertility) wrote a beautiful note about me being "mom" to six kids.  A sentiment that was later shared by one of my dearest friends here.  Both brought tears to my eyes, and I had to take some time before responding.  And one of my dearest friends from my old online group just sent me a simple "I love you, friend."

Those comments meant the world to me.  I don't want to be pitied, I don't want to be ignored.  Those beautiful words... they kept my spirits high, and a smile on my face.  And for that, I thank my wonderful friends and family.  Y'all are what keep me chugging along, through the good and the bad.  The laughter, tears, frustration, and happiness... that all comes from those around me. So, for my Mother's Day this year, I just want to say... Thank you.

Happy Mother's Day to all who are mothers, in heaven and on earth. In hope and in prayers.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Breaks Give Perspective

I had to take a break from writing out my innermost feelings.  I take a lot of time to put my thoughts out there, and after re-reading my previous posts, I was very sad with myself.  I have really tried to stay as positive as possible throughout this whole process, but my posts on here seem so bitter and down.  That is not how I want to portray myself. Or our journey.  Sure, our situation sucks.  No one wants to be infertile. But believe me, being the "bitter infertile" is even worse.  The pity, the eye avoiders, the topic avoiders... it's hard to be yourself when people are trying so hard to ignore the elephant in the room.

I promise, I live a normal life.  Yes, I want kids, as does B.  But it is not an all consuming thought.  We have our moments or weakness; some worse than others, but we smile and move on.  Every pregnancy announcement, every baby shower, every birth... yes, it make slow us down a little, but it is never about taking away from anyone else's happiness.  It is a moment of remembrance of our loss or of our inability to have what so many create so easily. But we always recognize the joyous occasion for others, and cannot wait to be able to share that moment with everyone soon!

My goals the last few weeks have been few, but they have been very poignant to me.  Almost a turning point in my life and how I am living it.  Positivity has been the main priority.  Positivity in everything I do, everyone I see, everything I say.  Sure, I have already failed several times, but the point is to keep moving forward, keep thinking in a positive manner.  The more positive I can be, the easier it is to be thankful for everything I have in my life.  I have been working on losing weight, eating healthier, and staying positive.  I am proud of losing 8 pounds, adding a ton of fruit and veggies into my diet (and ridding myself of too many sweets- save a few Easter treats- in moderation, of course!), and cutting out the dead weight in my life.  It is tough to make those changes, but oddly enough, it was easier to let go of those around me who are not supportive of my life in general (absolutely nothing to do with infertility) than it was to keep working out every day!

B and I have also created a wonderful budget.  Now, truth be told, I have been trying to implement a budget in our house for several years *thank you,* but somehow it never took.  Moving past that, I am very proud of the commitment B made to cutting out our debt, unnecessary spending, and creating multiple savings accounts (including our BabyFund!) to help us reach our goals. He created a wonderful spreadsheet that we share through Dropbox (awesome invention- we share documents between computers and our phones to help us keep track of all of our expenses) and we made a commitment to stay on top of our spending.  We have already put a nice little chunk of change in our main savings account, as well as a tax fund (because we get hit with paying taxes every year, despite claiming zero!) and our BabyFund.  And we have made paying of some stupid credit card debt a main goal.  We are both also pursuing other means of income.  B has recently tried his hand at designing t-shirts, and I have been doing a little freelance work through, as well as banking my homebound paycheck (I work with one of my previous students in his home twice a week whose health is too fragile to attend school- love my sweet boy!), and selling items on eBay and through our local yard sale pages (Thank you Tifferny for your help with that!).

Budgeting, saving, healthier lifestyle, and staying positive! That is how we are spending the 2nd quarter of 2014 (and 3rd, and 4th!).  We are hopeful to start IVF #3 later this year, and I am proud to say we are doing it on our own, and without outside funds.  We were so grateful to our friends that contributed to our gofundme, but as you can see, I took that campaign down not too long after I started this blog.  It didn't feel right to me when we started it, and I just couldn't put our burden on everyone else.  We are POSITIVE we can make this happen with non monetary support from our friends and family! (but a hug or an "I'm thinking of you" is always welcome :) )

What changes are you making as we enter the Marvelous Month of May?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Alternative Ideas

I've talked with many people and researched for hours (which practically makes me an expert!) about alternative forms of help: herbs, supplements, acupuncture, meditation, etc.  I am always curious to learn new ways of healing and personal betterment, but I have yet to pull the trigger on most of them.  I have pretty much tried every herbal and vitamin supplement that claims to help IF. Unfortunately, I have never seen the changes that they say I will and usually fall off the bandwagon after a few months.

At one point I had a ridiculous regimen of Folic Acid, Zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitex, Maca Root... And B was given several to take, as well.  Unfortunately, nothing seemed to improve either of our issues, and the expense, as well as the craziness, quickly led us down a different path.  I now take a prenatal daily, as well as DHEA, Iron (for anemia- a family condition), and Synthroid (for low acting thyroid).   All of my pills were recommended and prescribed by my doctor, so it is not just from my thorough Dr. Google searches!

Acupuncture has intrigued me for quite a long time.  I know several ladies that combined acupuncture with IVF and received wonderful results.  Whether acupuncture helped or not, I can't say, but it doesn't seem to have hurt anything!  I would love to try it during my next (and hopefully last!) IVF treatment, but I have to do some research with my health insurance, as well as find someone I trust to stick me with needles.  I have heard that it is not really painful, and allows for amazing relaxation.  Who knows, maybe it will really help calm me in every day life.

Meditation seems like such an easy, low key way to help calm my mind and thoughts, yet I have not tried that either.  I find it hard to carve out time in my day to just sit and clear my mind.  I know I have plenty of time to meditate, I'm definitely not booked with tons of activities, yet I still struggle to find a few moments of peace.  A while ago, I found THIS website with some free meditations on it.  I downloaded the trials, but have not taken the time to listen to them.  Much like Scarlett, tomorrow is always another day for me, but it never seems like tomorrow happens!

What are some techniques you use that is not considered the "norm?" Beyond the doctor regimented medications and schedules, what have you found that helped you to conceive or to refocus your energies every month? If you have done anything that I have listed, what were your experiences with it?  I'd love to hear from those of you following along at home!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Calming the thoughts

What do you do to ease your mind and relax? I am a huge reader and love to listen to music.  Whenever I need to quiet my mind from all the fun of IF, I grab a book (or my Kindle!) and clear my mind.  It's a wonderful escape from real life for me, and I always emerge with more positive thoughts and a happier mindset.

Music is my other calming device.  When we had our first IVF, I brought my iPod along and listened to a random smattering of music. Obviously I only put music I like on my iPod, but the mixture was rather eclectic, and at times, a bit much for trying to stay chill while laying on the hospital bed.  For our 2nd IVF, B and I sat down and compiled a list of songs we both enjoyed and created our "Baby Love" play list.  I listened to this play list while I waited for my retrieval and transfer, as well as afterwards, to keep my mind focused.

Since we have been focusing on other areas of life in the last year after our loss, I decided that I didn't just want to listen to my playlist only at the hospital.  I've since incorporated it into my every day life.  Every night I turn my play list on, and fall asleep to the music that means so much to B and I.  Some of the songs have obvious meaning for the list, like our wedding song, "Crazy Love."  Other songs have silly meanings, like "Closing Time," which actually has several memories attached to it (including us rolling with laughter in "Friends with Benefits").  We have our personal band favorites, like Pearl Jam and DMB (of course!), and some newer to us favorites, like Joshua Radin (I absolutely adore him and do not understand the lack of popularity with his music!).

The list is slightly changed from our 2nd attempt, but it is finely honed into a wonderful music experience that truly calms me and brings consistent smiles to my face every night as I drift off to sleep.  I imagine this play list will continue to grow, and hopefully, one day soon, will be instrumental in the birth and subsequent life of our future child(ren).

So what do you do to calm yourself? How do you relax and chase away the IF blues?

One of my fav cd's:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where do you lean?

When I first started this journey, googling all about pregnancy signs, I found an online community where I made instant friendships.  In the beginning, we were all happy and joyful about our journey to have a baby. Every day we would spend hours chatting back and forth and enjoying each other's "company." It was a great place to learn, laugh, vent, and establish a virtual friendship.  Over time, we said hello to many, many, many women that eventually moved on in their pregnancy journey.  Over the course of a year, it narrowed down to a group of about 30 that bonded really well.  We eventually left the main site we met on and created our own online community.

During the next 5 years, we lost a couple of our members due to some crazy circumstances (cat fishing anyone?), as well as to differences of opinions.  In the end, we had a rather strong group of women that numbered in the low 20's.  Out of all those women, all but 4 went on to become pregnant, some even multiple times over the course of 5 years.  Of course, I am one of the 4 that has not been pregnant... yet.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these women, and even though I have distanced myself from the forum for personal reasons, I am still in contact with most of them through facebook and texting.  As I think back on my journey, I wonder how I would have made it this far without this amazing group of women.  Don't get me wrong, I have an amazing support system in real life.  B and my parents have been through everything with me, and we have his parents that have supported us, as well.  I also have my bff to keep me sane, whether IF related or life related.  Even before I opened the door to our IF struggle, my friends and coworkers have been an amazing support for me.  But, this group of women... my "Mafia..." they were there every step of the way and could understand just about everything I have dealt with because so many of them went through the exact same thing.

We all bonded over our want for a family.  Some of us have gotten there faster (and many times over!), but we still all have that common denominator in our lives... the struggle to create the family we all wanted.  I am grateful every day for these amazing women.  I've been lucky to meet a couple of them in real life, and still want to meet so many more of them.  I am "MafiAuntie" to many of their kids.  And I love all of them for the support and love they have shown me over the years, even if I am not always able to show it.

So, who do you lean on? Who is your support? This journey can be so heart wrenching.  Everyone needs someone in their life, whether in person or through the Internet or long distance or wherever. Where do you go?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Life Goes On

Since starting this blog, I have found myself more at peace with our decision to "come out," and it has become even easier to talk about with family and friends.  It's almost as if a huge weight has been lifted! My post tonight isn't about the weight of IF.  I like to rejoice in the good times, not just wallow in the sad.

So, Valentine's just passed... of course, it's truly "just another day." I get all the hype of "manufactured holiday" and all the comments about "showing love all the time, not just one specific day." I've never been a huge V-day person.  I enjoy it for the little things we do for each other, the cutesy cards, and the special date night (whether out or at home).  Since becoming a teacher though, it has taken on a different meaning for me.

I enjoy doing little holiday parties for the kids. I love seeing the little cards they make, and decorating bags/mailboxes to collect the valentine's in.  I enjoy shopping around for something fun to give my students.  This year, I scored popular cartoon DVD's for $1 at Target (LOVE), and found an Owl DIY card kit.  It was perfect for us, especially since Owls are our theme this year (I know, soooo over done, but soooo cute!!).  We had fun dressing in cute clothes, and sharing brownies and cupcakes at our party.

Valentine's Day is also when B proposed to me, despite much teasing (prior to the proposal) about how cliche it would be.  Now, I am glad he did it.  It makes it have a little more meaning for us... and a million other couples... but it gives us a little something extra to look forward to on the 14th of every February.

I remember the proposal like it was yesterday... I was living in my apartment in Virginia Beach, B lived in Richmond.  We both had to work that day, so we knew we wouldn't see each other.  My parents had invited me out to dinner, so I came home from work and began preparing for my night.  There was a knock on the door, and I looked out, but no one was there.  I opened the door, and B was standing to the side near the stairs.  We were both really excited to see each other!  I let him in, excitedly talking, saying that I needed to call mom and dad and let them know he would be joining us for dinner.  I kept running back and forth from the tv room to the bedroom in all my chatter.  (According to B, he kept trying to go down on one knee, but I was back and forth too quick!)After about the 5th trip back and forth, B took me by the hands, began to say some sweet words, then he went down on one knee and asked me to marry him.  I said yes, and fell down on top of him.  We both giggle at the memory because our cat, Court, was sitting on the chair in the tv room, with his head cocked to the side like, "WTH is wrong with those two?!"

I remember calling my bff, who was studying at the Kempsville Library at the time.  She did a :silent scream: for us, then we invited her out to dinner with us (by this time, B had informed me that my parents weren't actually taking me out to dinner.  They knew he was coming).  We drove over to their house, told them the news, and showed off my beautiful ring.

It was a beautiful night, and it was not fun letting B leave the next morning.  We both had to go back to work, though it was tempting to call out! We spent the next 5 months driving back and forth between our homes, before I moved out to Richmond at the end of June.

I love reminiscing about how it all began.  It is bittersweet that we were engaged 8 years ago, and married 7 months later.  Although these 8 years have seemed to go by in a blink, looking back, it also seems like the slowest 8 years of our lives.

Life goes on... whether you are ready for it or not!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Process

During the last couple of years, whenever we talked with our friends and family about IVF, most were interested in the actual process of what we went through during the 6 weeks. Not just the emotional stuff, but the actual "what does IVF mean?" stuff.  It's been over a year since our last round, but I thought I would try to remember it all to share.

The IVF process starts well before the retrieval and put back.  We both have to get blood testing every year, which is always fun! They are checking to make sure our hormonal levels are within a decent range, and that we don't have HIV (no seriously, that is checked every time and is a very big deal considering the amount of body fluids, needles, and IV's that are involved throughout).  Once the results are received, I almost always have to go on iron pills and thyroid meds (although this year we are being smart and I have been taking the pills for several months now, GO ME!). Then we have to wait for my next period.  As soon as my period starts, I have to call the office and start on birth control pills (BCP) after a couple of days.

BCP's??  Isn't that the opposite of what we should be doing if we want to get pregnant?? Of course! But we take them to regulate the cycle and make sure I don't ovulate before my follicles and meds have had a chance to work. Which honestly isn't too big a deal, since I apparently no longer ovulate on my own. ;) When I called the office on day 1 of AF, I am given a whole schedule of meds and such that I have to take on specific days.  And believe me, it is a very specific process, down to time of day to the hour, that you have to follow, and it is tweaked specifically to the individual! There were times B and I had to give shots in a bathroom of a family members house or at a restaurant- always fun!

So after a couple weeks of pills, and shots, and every other to every day ultrasounds (even on weekends!), we finally get to the egg retrieval.  I remember the first time.  I was All my life, until I found out I had IF, I have never been hospitalized or put under for anything. Never broken anything, had 2 minor sprains in 22 years (falling down stairs helping a great friend move out of her dorm, lol), pretty decent health all these years.  Then, in the matter of a couple of years, I was about to be put under for a second time (first being my laparoscopy in '08) and I had no idea what to expect.  

B had to "do his thing" that morning before we left, at my parent's house, which was just a little bit stressful; so we ended up running a bit late. Once we got to EVMS, there was no one in reception (it was well before normal staff comes in), and we were so flustered, we couldn't remember what we were supposed to do! We finally relaxed, went upstairs, and they separated us so B could make "the drop off" and I could get settled in the hospital bed.  We finally began to calm down, and I was scheduled to go second (there were 2 other retrievals that day).  The nurses were sweet as can be, very comforting, and explained everything they were doing as they did it.  B and I were laughing and in high spirits, taking pictures to remember everything by, because, you know, we were about to make a baby (ha!).  

The anesthesiologist came in, talked to me, started my meds, and then I am being wheeled back out after being in the operating room for about 30 or so minutes.  I had to rest for another 30 or so minutes before I was transferred to a wheelchair and taken to the car.  B took me home, and I spent the rest of the day relaxing in bed. So, overall, not a scary experience, but we sure felt like it was!

After the retrieval, we received daily updates of how our embryos were doing, and the transfer was scheduled.  I always work in between retrieval and transfer, and it helps a lot because my coworkers and sweet kids keep my mind off of everything (somewhat...).  Within a couple of days, it is decided if we will do a 3 day or 5 day transfer, and back to the hospital we go! 

For transfer, I am awake the whole time, and B is even allowed in the room with me. They take us back, and I am prepped for the transfer process.  There is a monitor on the wall where we can watch everything the doctor is doing, and we even get a pre-shot of whatever embryos are being put in.  We consider it "baby's first picture." A long catheter like object is placed directly into the uterus, and the embryo is pushed inside.  It's just amazing what they can do!

Afterwards, I have to rest again, then get wheeled out to the car for a couple of days of bed rest at home.  There is lots of cramping, some spotting, and a lot of care given as I relaxed and prayed over every moment.  Each transfer occurred the last week of school before holiday break, so I would then spend the next week or so going crazy at home.  

The two week wait before the blood draw is seriously the most nerve wrecking time of your life.  Every movement you make, everything you do, everything is called into question because "what if" you cause the embryo not to implant, what if that soda stopped everything, what if you spent too long in the bathroom, what if what if what it.  It makes even the most laid back, sane person super crazy.  And we all know any woman undergoing the IVF process is never sane and laid back during that time!

Eventually the day you are supposed to get the blood draw comes, and then you wait for the results.  And you either receive the happy call or the "I'm so sorry" call.  And if you are really lucky, you get the "Well, you *are* pregnant, but..." call.  

So, in a nutshell, that is the IVF process, minus a lot of big words, medical mumbo jumbo, and pain.  And I didn't even mention the shots and pills you go through during the two week wait! 

So, when you wonder just what I and many others are going through, it is a very physical and emotional process that can't really be fully understood unless you actually go through it. But your support and love is more than appreciated throughout! And believe me, at this point, I am more than happy to explain anything about the process.  Who knows, maybe I'll even let you take a stab at me with a needle ;)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Post in Which We Share TOO Much

Sitting here, thinking about how our journey began, I have a hard time recalling a lot of the details.  I remember bits and pieces, but I think it has been so long so we started, that I have either (a) blocked everything out or (b) forgotten due to old age. Neither is a great choice!

I do remember the first time we thought we were pregnant.  B and I were married in September of 2006. The day after our wedding, I started the mother of all horrible periods (I told you we would share too much in this post!). Like the cut out my uterus, throw my ovaries off a bridge, curl up in a ball and drug myself type of period.  Way to start marriage, eh? Looking back now, and knowing what we have been through, I almost feel like that was my body's was of warning me- "Life is never going to be the same for you!" 
Either that, or  "(Insert expletive here) YOU!"

November came, and no period.  B and I have never made our desire to have a family a secret.  I think just about anyone who has come into contact with us in the last 15 years has known that we have always wanted children, and planned to start not too long after the wedding.  I remember we had several disagreements about when to start.  I wanted to wait a year before we started (HA!), and B would have been happy if I had walked down the aisle pregnant.  That discussion seems so silly now, so trivial.  

Anywho, of course I tested.  And tested. And tested.  Always a negative.  BUT! Google says there are a lot of women who do not show up pregnant on their tests, so the only way to know is a blood test and ultrasound!  I MUST be one of those women!!  I felt sick to my stomach often, my breasts were sore, my face was breaking out. I had to be pregnant! Then December came, no sign of my period, no sign of a positive test, and I was finally able to get in to a doctor. Of course, I wasn't pregnant. The doctor had no answer for me about my MIA period.  Maybe stress?  Maybe weight gain? Maybe all the recent changes? The doctor ended up dismissing my concerns and said that women didn't have to have a period every month. 
I was shocked! I mean, I grew up with the knowledge that periods come every month, and if it doesn't come, you better get thee to a doctor and congratulations! I found a new doctor the next month that was closer to home and much more friendly.  After a visit to the new guy, we talked about forcing my period to come through medication (lol, who *wants* to force their period!?), and thus started 6 months of forced periods. We eventually had a discussion about using clomid, because not only did my period disappear, so did my ability to ovulate.  Clomid would help me ovulate, which would help get me pregnant, which would probably fix my period issues after I had a baby. YAY!  Well, not very well advertised fact- Clomid makes you gain weight faster than you can swallow the pill.  Thus began two years of Super Fatty T! I gained 40 pounds on clomid, and I am still fighting the battle to lose all that weight today. WEEE! 

Moving on, after the clomid did nothing to help us, we did a hydrosonogram and discovered a had a massive cyst on one of my ovaries. So, I had laparoscopic surgery to have it removed in January '08. Still nothing helped.  We were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) and began having Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI's) in February of '08. We continued through 7 IUI's and blew through $5000 until we called it quits. Throughout all of this, we were made very aware that B had testosterone issues, as well as very low sperm counts.  He was seeing a urologist and several other doctors to see if there was anything else he could do on his end.  Basically, both of us have screwed up reproductive systems. We finally accepted that the only way we would possibly become biological parents was through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Then we were hit with the price tag for IVF, and our dreams were majorly put on hold.

Insert long story about putting our house on the market, T moving to the beach to start teaching and live with her parents, our house being half destroyed by a tornado, B losing his job, officially moving with T and her parents, B starting a new job, FINALLY selling our old house, and finally buying our new house. Yeah- did I have stress in my life?!

Despite all those crazy changes, moving in with my parents was amazing because it afforded us the opportunity to do not just one, but two rounds of IVF with the Jones Institute. We were very lucky because the Jones offers multiple versions of IVF, and we finally found a plan that we could somewhat afford.  Since we had minimal bills while living with my parents, we were able to pay down some debt and afford the cost of our first cycle (though stupid ass, we still managed to rack up debt because of unforeseen medicine costs and other medical costs). Once the house sold, we were able to afford the second round, which the Jones discounted for us since our first round did not work.  As most of y'all know from previous posts, the second round did work, albeit briefly.

And now, here we are.  Working towards our 3rd IVF, and hoping it happens for us this round. Seeing it written out, it doesn't seem like all of that was really 6+ years of struggle.  And yet, we can feel every moment of it. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So What is Off Limits?

First of all, I have been re-reading the lovely sentiments so many of our family and friends sent us the other night when we "came out."  I realized that several people thought our "coming out' meant that we were no longer pursuing our dream of becoming parents.  I apologize for those of you who thought that was our intent.  B and I will continue to pursue IVF, as well as discuss other avenues. Believe me, we have discussed EVERYTHING. There is not much that is new to us in regards to how we can become parents.  We are not giving up!

So, we've talked about what you can do to help. Seems like we can now transition nicely into the "No-No's" list.  I know, I know- why do we get to dictate what you say to us?  We don't.  We have absolutely zero control over what comes out of anyone's mouth, just as y'all have no control over what comes out of our mouths.  But you know what? If there is something I have said that has hurt or bothered you, and you address it with me, then I have every understanding that if I said it again then I am purposely hurting you. So i would rather you be honest with me about it, then to find out you went home and cried over something I thought nothing of saying.  And believe me, I have cried over each and every one of the things that I am going to post. Even as recently as a particular email last week.

What Not To Say:
Infertility Etiquette
Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.
Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.
The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.
As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.
A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.
  • Don't Tell Them to Relax
Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.
Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

  • Don't Minimize the Problem
Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.
Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

  • Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen
Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?
Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.
People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

  • Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents
One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
  • Don't Be Crude
It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.
  • Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.
Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.
Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

  • Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.
Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

  • Don't Push Adoption (Yet)
Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.
You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.
Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.
Adapted from

Of course you are wondering, have people really said those things to us?  Yes. They have.  And much more. Honestly. One of the things people don't realize is that the comments they make truly minimize our struggles. Are they meant to be hurtful? Not usually.  Normally it is simply a comment that you make because you don't know what else to say (check out my last blog- that should get you started if you need the help). Unfortunately, that comment pings around and around our brains pretty consistently.  Especially the ones about "God's Plan." 

Now, I make no comment about anyone's religious beliefs, but to be told that God doesn't want me to have children is the absolute, most horrible comment I can imagine. God finds me unfit in some way to share my love with a child.  God thinks I suck as a human being. God thinks our DNA is incompatible with human life. Yeah ^ all that there^ that is what the "God's Plan" statement means to us.  That is what we hear.  Do you mean it that way? Good lord, I sure as hell hope not.  There are truly some shitty people out there pro-creating, and yet *I* am the one God thinks sucks? Ouch. 

But realistically, is there some truth in the above sayings?  Sure.  Everyone knows someone that adopts, then gets pregnant miraculously. Hell, *I* know someone that has happened to. I think that is wonderful. I love hearing those stories, but I also know that is not the journey we are taking at this time.  In the future? Maybe. We've even talked about adoption even if we do miraculously get pregnant. But that really isn't anyone's business but ours right now.  

Relax?  Sure!  We relax all the time.  Shoot, we are both watching random TV, playing on our computers, and (other than the time I am spending on this post) neither of us is thinking about kids right now.  In fact, children do not consume our every waking moments. Even when I am working with my students, I am not thinking the whole time about how I wish this was my kid, or why am I not pregnant right now.  I do think about many other things, so please don't think that my every moment of life is consumed by my need/want to have a child. I do have an existence beyond children. 

Yes, I know kids are hard.  Very hard.  And I welcome having that in my life. And I will cherish every moment, even if I actually *gasp* complain about it once in awhile. I want the struggles, I want the lack of sleep, I want to hear the cries. I want it all.  And I will do everything in my power to make that happen for B and I, even if it means creating a family through "unnatural" means.  A family is a family, no matter how they get there. 

Despite all the struggles, the heartache, the money, the comments; B and I are ready to grow our family. He and I *are* a family. Court and Callie, though they may just be cats to others, they *are* a part of our family. We are a family and that will not change. But the size of our family will. And we welcome that.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When You Want to Help and Just Don't Know How

I struggled with what direction I wanted to take my post tonight.  My original thoughts were placed on the back burner for the time being, but I will be addressing "What NOT to Say to Someone Struggling with IF" in the near future. That being said, the beautiful words of support we received after telling our family and friends the other night was very comforting to both B and I.  Honestly, some of the most kind comments came from rather unexpected sources, and we are forever grateful to have those to fall back on when we are having a down day (or week).

Many people wanted to know what they could do to help.  There really is no easy answer to that question. It sucks to say, but some days we have no issue discussing what is going on, some days we just want to ignore our IF problems exist. Sometimes we want to go hang out, enjoy time with family and friends; sometimes we just want to sit at home and ignore the world.  Sometimes we can handle seeing babies/pregnant women; sometimes we need a break from it all.  Honestly, we are just like every other couple out there.  We have our ups and downs, our good days and bad, and most of the time, if isn't even because of IF or our struggles.  We could simply be having a bad day. Who knew??

Moving on- how you can help.
Question: How Can I Support a Friend with Infertility?
So a friend or family member has confided in you that they are struggling to conceive. Maybe you already suspected they were dealing with infertility, in which case this isn't a big surprise. Or maybe you're really shocked. No matter how you took the news, the fact that they've told you is a big deal. This means they trust you, and that they think you'll be supportive.
Even if you intend to be supportive, knowing how to actually give that support can be tricky, especially if you've never experienced infertility yourself.

Learn More About Infertility

Read up on at least the basics of infertility to be a more supportive friend. Not so you can offer advice, which will most likely be unwelcome, but so you can offer support in a more understanding fashion. Knowing the basics of IVF, for example, will make it easier for your friend to talk about her cycle. You won't react with shock that she needs to give herself numerous injections, since you'll already know that.
Another reason to brush up on the basics is so you don't find yourself repeating common myths. The fertility challenged are used to hearing myths, but it'd be nice if the person they have trusted to offer support - you - wouldn't be one of those myth-repeating people.
Here are some articles you can read on the basics and infertility myths:

Ask Them What They Need

Asking a friend what she or he needs sounds so simple, and yet, few people do so! Maybe because they are embarrassed about not knowing what to do, or perhaps because we're concerned it makes us less supportive. (Don't we all dream of people knowing what we need without having to spell things out? And yet, few people are good at mind reading.)
Conversely, people who are struggling often hesitate to ask for what they need. They don't want to be a burden, or they are so overwhelmed that asking for help doesn't even occur to them.
Here are a few things you can offer as help:
  • Attend difficult appointments with them. Whether they'd like you to just sit in the waiting room or come in and hold their hand.
  • Offer to be an exercise buddy, if you know they're trying to lose weight. Sometimes women (and men) need to lose weight to make treatments more effective. It's much easier to lose weight when you have a buddy working out with you. (Just don't suggest the weight loss plan on your own!)

Know What to Say

When you're not sure what to say, you may want to try one of these responses:
  • I'm sorry to hear that.
  • What can I do to help?
  • Do you want to talk about it?
  • I'm here to listen, whenever you need me.
  • I wish I knew what to say to comfort you.
  • I wish there something I could do or say that would make it all better.
.Above adapted from

Still want to help?

Send positive thoughts, light a candle, say a prayer. Know that this struggle has been a very long and painful road, and that we are trying everything we can to make our dream a reality.

Or simply leave a comment showing your support.  Let us know that you are thinking about us.  Support is one of the greatest things that all people with IF need, and you can never have too much!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fear of the Unknown

So, we decided to be honest and upfront about our struggles... with everyone.  To say I am scared to death is an understatement.  All the comments I have heard over the years have come rushing back to me in the last few days as I contemplated this decision.  I say *I* because B has always wanted to be upfront about our struggles, but I didn't.  I was too scared of the comments, the judgment, the talking behind our backs.  B pointed out that this happened anyway, and at least this way, we could confront people head on.  If they wanted to know something, they could just ask.  No more secrets.  No more hiding.  No more hurting in silence.

So, we are going to email our family and friends first, then put it out there for the world.  My hopes are that others can seek comfort in our story and share their stories with confidence.  Infertility is a heartbreaking diagnosis, and not one that should be kept quiet or shunned.  People need to be educated, not left to their ignorance. By just one family talking about their struggles, it opens the door for more and more to share theirs.

I don't know what is going to happen when we share this.  I am hoping for love and support, not pity and shame.  I am hoping that once people know what we are going through, they will stop and think about the ugly and hurtful things they say, and have said in the past, and recognize that it is NEVER okay to judge someone for their beliefs and wants.  Sometimes things are best left unsaid, because the pain you are causing someone is unforgettable, and can continue to haunt them for many years.

It's time to stop the silence. It's time to be true to who we are.

We are unable to have kids naturally.  That is who we are, and that is who we will always be.  The question is, are you ready to accept that?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

And another year passes...

So, B and I were slowly getting excited... We had our 2nd IVF in December, right before Christmas. We waited for the date listed on my blood test form to have the draw. I woke up really excited that morning, and went to the closest lab on my way to work. I tried not to think about it all day (puh-lease! We all know how that went!), and focused on my students. I tried to ignore walking over to my desk ten thousand times to tap my cell phone to see if any messages had come through.

After lunch, I checked one more time... and there was the missed call and voice mail. After last year's disappointment, I knew that the message wouldn't say any more than to call the office, but it still made my breath catch when I saw the notification. B was home early that day, so I wanted to wait until I was with him before I made the call. The call that left me sobbing just one year prior. The call that I dreaded to ever have to make again. I held it together until I got home. We huddled together upstairs in the bedroom and I dialed the office, waited for what seemed like forever (just a few moments, really), then my doctor was on the line. And she was telling us the words we had been waiting to hear for almost 7 years...

"Your test is positive (ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod... but wait... there's more, she's still talking... shhh), but just barely." This could mean one of two things: (1) we are in the very early stages and implantation occurred later than expected; or (2) it started to implant, but didn't finish and I was having a chemical pregnancy. *Hope crushed* We listened numbly for a few more minutes, received instructions to continue taking the medication (you know, just in case it was a real pregnancy), and to repeat the blood draw in a few days (to give more time for the HCG to raise).

So, instead of tears of joy, we spent the next few hours trying to give one another hope, trying to figure out what we could do to keep things moving, trying not to fall apart completely. And this journey lasted for almost two more weeks. Two of the roughest weeks of our lives. Every blood draw, and subsequent phone call, gave us a little more hope and a little more disappointment. The HCG numbers were doubling, but they started so low, that it really didn't make too much of a difference.

8 weeks after our 2nd IVF began, it was all over. Confirmed that the embryo didn't finish implanting and start growing. We were devastated. Even with all the knowledge we had that most likely this was not going to end in a viable pregnancy, we still had hope. We still wanted to dream. We still walked around Target, laughing and smiling with our secret knowledge, and "window shopping" for our future little one's nursery. Deep down, I knew... we knew. We knew it wouldn't be viable, but we couldn't accept it. Did not want to accept it.

I spent the next few days in an automatic daze. I got up in the morning, went to work, enjoyed my students, came home, went to sleep. I ate here and there, I kept a bright smile on my face whenever I was out of the house, then came home to let the misery wash over me in private. When B was home, we talked about our days, watched TV, played on our computers, but we didn't really discuss what happened. I cried by myself in our room. I didn't want to feel, and I didn't want anyone to know what I was going through. I wanted to just keep moving, thinking positive, planning our next steps.

I was trucking along, and even though I knew B and my parents were concerned about me, I just didn't want to talk about it.

Then we received a card in the mail from our IVF office. It was a card of condolence on our loss. I opened it, read it, and put it away. We went out to spend time with our friends that night, and B told them about the loss. They expressed brief condolences, then we moved on as if nothing ever happened. I drank that night, more than I had in a long time (because, remember, you aren't supposed to drink during the IVF process!). On our way home, I played a song that I had come across in my searching about miscarriage, chemicals, etc. And then I dissolved into tears. Loud, gut wrenching sobs while I mourned the loss of our "baby." S drove us home to my parents house, brought my mom out to me, and she held me in the freezing Winter cold while I spent the next 20 minutes or so letting it all out. It was painful for all involved.

Eventually we went in the house, I went to bed, slept fitfully, and the next morning, my mom and B were there to talk to me. We talked for a long time. They both suggested counseling, but it just wasn't something I wanted to pursue. I realized during that talk that I was not the only one hurting. B was not the only one hurting. Our parents were hurting with us. Everyone was so worried when I just moved along as if nothing had happened. It was so out of character for me, as I normally fixate on anything difficult. They knew my moment was coming, and they knew there would be more (though next time, I hoped alcohol would not be my undoing).

So, why bring all this up now? Because we just passed the year mark of our loss. And no matter what your belief is (a baby isn't a baby until it is born, conception is when sperm meets egg, it all becomes real when it implants, etc.), my belief, at that moment, was we lost a baby. We lost the hopes and dreams that we had been working towards for 7 years. We lost something so special and important to us, that the actual term "baby" no longer had a definitive definition. At that moment, that was our baby. That was our loss. That was our heartbreak. And no one can prepare you for how you handle it.

And another year passes...

Monday, January 20, 2014

How does one start?

How do you start "The Talk" about infertility? Do you start dark and gloomy or full of pep and optimism? Use humor, sarcasm, make passive-aggressive statements? How do you let people know that one of your deepest, darkest fears has been your reality for over 7 years? It's not an easy road to travel.  It's not a fun road to travel... and that's not even counting the actual journey. I am merely talking about TALKING about infertility.

The answer is easy.  Go for the Nike goal and just do it! It will be uncomfortable for you, it will be uncomfortable for the people you are talking to, because really, who wants to invite family, friends, strangers into your bedroom?  Who wants to have all this people all up in your uterus? Who wants to answer the questions, "Is it her?," "Is it him?," "Which one is responsible for ruining their dreams?!?" We know those questions are there, lurking under the surface.  Hopefully, your friends and family will have a little more tact and either phrase the questions differently, or Hey! Novel idea here... just don't ask THOSE questions!

But seriously, we are in the land of "Everyone's business is my business" so, let's get back to the original question.  How do you start the Talk?

I don't start the Talk with many people.  In our family, only our closest family members and very few close friends know what we have been dealing with all these years.  It's one of our Vault topics.  We just don't talk about it.  Why? Because we have had too many people comment about "God's Plan" and "Not meant to be" and how so and so is "stupid to waste so much time and energy and if they just RELAXED they would get pregnant easy, Just like me!"  Those comments hurt.  Those comments sting.  Those comments spend entirely too much time in my over taxed brain, popping up every time something goes wrong or even when something goes right.  No matter how little faith I try to put into those words, once they are out there in the world, they are out there.  And I think about them.

Oh, and then there are the comments, from the well-meaning people of the world. "How old are you?" (32) "Oh wow, you aren't getting younger, you better pop out some kids!" Well, gee.  Thanks.  Last I checked, women were having kids (although maybe not the best idea, but that can be a topic for another day) well into their 50's.  I *think* I still have some time.  Or or or "When are you going to fill all those empty rooms in your house?" (Well, seeing as we just moved in 4 months ago- they are great for storage right now.) "It's never too early to start prepping the nursery!" Cool.  Glad we have your permission.  I'll let you know when it happens.

So, anywho, here we are again.  Infertility.  It sucks.  It sucks for everyone.  I am hoping to start documenting the journey of Us, and see how this journey goes.  Over the next few posts, I hope to talk a little about how we got here, mixed in with a bit of where we are now.  It may be disjointed at times, but the story will be told, and while it doesn't have the baby happy ending... we hope it will some day soon.

So, join me on this crazy journey.  I have a lot to share, and a lot to learn.  And I hope to have the Talk with all of you.