Saturday, December 8, 2012

The past few years Christmas season have always been a stressful time of year for me.  Besides the fact that I'm busy like everyone else is trying to work and to find time and money to shop for gifts, I'm also thinking overtime about our infertility.  This is my third year that I hoped I'd either be pregnant or have a family for Christmas.  For most, Christmas revolves around children so I feel very left out and sad that I don't yet have what I want so badly.  It doesn't help that I can count over 5 people off the top of my head that just had newborns or are pregnant.  It seems the pregnancy and baby announcements are a daily occurrence.  And while I know I'll be doing it once I finally have my family, it doesn't help getting Christmas cards with pictures of children, babies and families.  The other stress come from the fact that just because I don't have children, doesn't mean I'm not busy too.  I have a career, interests, hobbies, and responsibilities too.  Sometimes it frustrates me that others with families take advantage that.  Why are my responsibilities any less important than theirs just because I am childless?  Why do people always assume I have more money to spend for the holidays or for day to day things because I have no children?  Why am I always the one to travel to meet up with people or for the holidays?  I agree that maybe I have a cleaner house with no toys cluttering the living room and take extra vacations because I don't have children....but for the past 2 1/2 years, this hasn't been my choice.

To put things into perspective (if you have children) how I feel now:  the amount of time and intensity you spend loving your child and doing things for them, is the same amount of time and sadness I have thinking about and dealing with our infertility.  It isn't as easy as turning off a switch. Try having that hang over your head when everyone else seems to be enjoying the holidays.  

I can't wait until it's my turn to be busy with changing diapers, or trying to find a sitter, or being stressed out because my child is sick, and freaking out because I have no time for myself.  I have no doubt these things are difficult but I welcome them.  I'd take that any day over living through what I feel now.  I just hope that I have a few close friends who will remind me of this when I start freaking out to them or posting complaints of facebook when I have a family.  Something tells me that the first few people who remind me of this will be the people who LEAST understand what I'm going through now.  I feel that my putting my thoughts out for all to hear is like condemning myself from never being able to complain or to have a bad day when (and if) I have children.  I'm sorry but living 28 months through testing, poking, prodding, uncertainty, sadness, guilt, anger, loss, embarrassment, jealousy, and grieving gives me a bit of a license to complain a bit from time to time.  Everyone is entitled to complain, but it's the people who complain about their life and kids that don't think before they say something or don't first acknowledge how lucky they are that bothers me.  

As the year ends, there is a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel.  Chris and I were one of the finalists for an IVF grant though a non-for-profit organization called Baby Quest.  We were one of 4 chosen recipients!  For me this is the most amazing thing...someone actually read, understands, acknowledges and is willing help with what we are going through.  I'm still not sure of what we have exactly won but it appears that we will be getting some help with medication costs (which can range from $2,000 to $6,000).  We will be responsible for the remaining $11,000 for the actual IVF procedure.  While this is exciting that our IVF is around the corner (I'm hoping for March), it's also a scary time too.  For those who've never dealt with infertility, they see this as only amazing and exciting and while it is, it's also horribly scary.  Obviously we hope and think IVF will work, but there's also a small chance that it won't.  It is NOT a guarantee.  I know this all too well with living through a few other failed procedures (IUIs) and 20some plus months of trying on our own.  It never gets easier. Ever.  And the more effort you put into it, the harder you fall.  This IS our last resort like any other couple who seeks IVF.  There ARE no other options for us to have a biological child.  Sure, we could try again, but coming up with $15,000 again isn't easy.  Sure we can adopt, but that also costs $20,000 to $30,000 too.  Besides, even though I may have a baby by the end of it, I'm am definitely NOT looking forward to juggling work and doctors' appointments 3 to 5 times a week, shooting myself with needles, side effects of hormones, painful surgery to retrieve eggs and having strangers invading my personal life and body.  I know going through this is essential but something about a foot long needle up my who-ha to retrieve eggs doesn't seem like fun to me and THAT is why I have mixed feelings.  But bring it on because I'd rather try and not succeed than not try at all.  What I could get out in the end will be my greatest reward. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yesterday, for the first time in awhile I cried tears of joy....not sadness or frustration.  I almost forgot what it felt like to be genuinely happy and excited about something.  I received a voicemail from a woman at BabyQuest... if you've read my past few blogs I mentioned applying for a grant that could assist Chris and I with IVF costs.  Never in a million years did I think I would be considered.  In fact, I  failed to apply to another grant because I thought our chances were too slim.  While at times it seems I'm the only person going through this, I know there are hundreds and thousands of couples struggling with the same hardships we have....some less fortunate than us.  Needless to say I did apply and put a great amount of effort into my essay and wrote straight from my heart (as cheesy as that sounds).  I don't know if it was our letter, the pictures of our "kids" (our cats) we included in our application packet, or our situation but they chose us as one of the finalists!  I wish I could say how many people we were chosen from, but even if it's 10, it's still an honor to be considered.  Chris and I are just your average couple....but a couple who desires children so badly.  I hope they can see that.  We have to finish our final application statements and I suppose should be hearing back within a few days or weeks about the results.  It almost feels like the "two week" wait again (the wait time after a procedure to find out if your going to be parents).  

Like most couples, long before Chris and I first married we talked about children.  I was in NO rush and neither was he.  As we evolved as a couple, settled in our careers and become more responsible we decided it was time.  At the time we started trying I was 32 and Chris was nearly 40....we are over 2 years older and now MUCH wiser as we've learned alot about people, love and life.  Sometimes I get nervous because Chris is over 40 and we are just starting to have kids.  Despite all my practice, my face STILL must drop several inches when people ask me if I have any kids.  My hope is for both of us to be healthy and around for our children.   Compared to most of my friends, I have older parents myself and I know how hard it can be.  The past few years my dad has been sick and in and out of the hospital literally dozens of times each year.  All I ever wanted was for him to meet my kids, to have them know who he is, and to take them fishing.  All of my 7 brothers and sisters have kids and have all had that opportunity; I wish they realized how lucky they are.  In fact, some of my nieces and nephews already have kids and they too have had chances I may never get.  A few months back when we all thought we almost lost him, he promised me he'd be around to take my kids fishing.  Since then, he's been in and out of the hospital a few more times and it makes me wonder if he'll keep his promise....I know it's a promise no one can keep.  

Another funny thing is that I only ever wanted ONE career and freedom always seemed more important.  It's funny how things in life change.  When I think about our family getting together for the holidays and how much I care about my siblings, I want that for our children.  But considering Chris's (and my) age and difficulties conceiving, I wonder if that will just be a dream or reality. Honestly, at this point all I want is one baby to love, teach and care for. 

Please send positive thoughts and prayers our way while these member decide the worthy applicants.  I'm trying to be optimistic (something that doesn't always come easily), but then it hurts harder when you fall.  All I can do is hope and pray.  With or without them we will eventually try our chances at IVF, but it sure would be a great Christmas gift if we were chosen.  The past two Christmas's I've just barely survived at times so it would be a nice change.  While they can't help with the emotional strain infertility can cause, it' nice that some of our financial strain can be eliminated....angels come in all shapes and sizes after-all.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Holiday season is right around the corner and based on last year I already knew this would be a hard time for me.  I just didn't think the disappointment would start so soon.  I've been really good lately at forgetting about our problem and my feelings. I'm basically trying to live life like we did before infertility became a common household word...if that's even possible.  I've started a new job and that's been a welcoming distraction.  It has good and bad parts.  First, if we are ever blessed with a child I live and work within 5 minutes of each other.  There's a daycare right down the street that I hear fine things about.  I try not to look at it on my commute because it's just another reminder.  The bad part is that since I just started, I can't be taking off so many days so soon.  It's puts a damper on our IVF planning for now.  Also, not that I'm being judgmental, but I now work with all men (my previous job I worked with wonderful supportive women). This is not a subject where you want to bring up as an ice-breaker, that's for sure.  While so far, my current male co-workers are great people, I don't yet know them on a personal level and am not sure how understanding they would be. In my years of working, it's been my experience that men do not mix work and family life is business only.  For myself, I'm happier and more productive if I know that my boss and co-workers care about me and have my best interests in long as I do my job of course.  I know this job is a good career  move for me, so I must be patient and hopeful that all will work out.  

Our original anticipated date for IVF would have been this month, however I felt it best to  hold off in case all didn't work out in our favor.  I can't image trying to live through an IVF failure, after spending all that time and thousands of dollars during the holiday season.  Now, due to my new job I am on a 90 day probationary period....meaning it's not advisable to be missing work all the time for medical appointments.  I like it there and hope to also make a good impression.  So that now leaves us with the new anticipated time of March.  Come hell or high water, I'm not letting anything postpone our dream any more.  I've already lived through 27 consecutive months of disappointments...something no one can understand unless you've lived it.  Also by then we should have our grand total of $14,000 saved!  That seems like alot of money....and it is for us, but it will be priceless if it works.  If not, then a year of savings and sacrifices is basically thrown down the toilet.  

Like I was saying, the past few months have seemed almost "normal".  I don't have the day to day reminder of taking medication or injecting myself with needles or going to the doctor for poking and prodding 4 to 5 days a week.  I've even had the courage to hang out with a few friends and their babies.   I've also had to try to act "normal" around a few of my pregnant friends.  It's not an easy task, but gets a little better each time.  It's hard to live with mixed feelings of anger and jealousy when you genuinely want to be happy for their fortune.  Even though it brings up so many painful feelings for me, I also don't want to miss out on the lives of people I care about.  It's a hard balance...sometimes I do well and sometimes I end up crying alone when I get home.  That's the breaks.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing the most important letter of my life!

The past few days  I have been sitting down at my computer to write an essay about infertility. Chris and I are applying for an IVF grant with an organization called Baby Quest.  I've gone to college and grad school and have written countless essays.  I've written essays for school, to get into school, to apply for a name it and I've written it.  Writing and English were one of my best and favorite subjects.  So why am I having such a hard time?  I've always been somewhat of a perfectionist but I want this to be PERFECT.  I NEED this to be perfect.  It seems like I am writing the most important essay of my life since it could affect our future in so many ways.  

The grant allows us to ask for as much or as little money as we need.  I like this organization because it's not an "all or nothing" deal.  It allows us to contribute what we can (and I believe we should contribute).  But truthfully in my heart of hearts, I think we will not be chosen.  Chris and I are not rich by any means but probably make too much money compared to other couples applying for this gift.  Still, it doesn't hurt to try so I am giving it all my effort.  We have almost all of the money saved for the actual IVF procedure BUT are lacking the 5 to 6 thousand dollars needed for medication.  We are lucky to have decent jobs and I honestly thank God for that every day.  But saving money is still a slower task than we anticipated.  If winning this grant allows us to start our family sooner, than bring it on!  We definitely aren't old, but we also aren't getting any younger.  In my mind I keep hearing the doctor say: "at the age of 35, fertility decreases significantly for women."  Normally that wouldn't scare me but since we already have a diagnosable problem, it makes time seem of the essence.  

We have been trying to conceive for 25 months and have been in the care of a specialist for one year now.  A few months back when we were told IVF is our only option, the saving account began.  It's funny how things change....that savings account used to be our "travel fund".  We are still rightfully jealous of other couples who are worrying about money for home repairs, retirement, their child's education, etc.... we haven't had the chance to get that far and as weird as it sounds would die a thousand deaths to be in that situation.  At one point we were literally watching every penny we spent.  A $1.50 cup of coffee that I got once a week seemed like the end of the world if I spent it.  Now we are "middle of the road".  Our lives completely stopped and turned upside down for the past year because of infertility.  While having a baby is the single most important thing to us right now, our lives can't continue to stop either.  Infertility has already stolen so much from us: our sense of privacy, our intimacy, our money, our sense of feeling "normal" and healthy and in some way our relationships with others.  So we are still trying to be the "normal" Chris and Rachel (as best as can be) and are traveling, hanging with friends and having fun...but within reason.  

I think the thing I struggle with the most is how others perceive me....I try to make people understand where I am coming from but deep down I know NO ONE can understand unless you've lived a day in the life of us.  Because we are saving for a baby, I don't want to be judged for buying new shoes, for going out to dinner, for going on a vacation.  I don't think anyone is really judging me....maybe I judge myself because I do feel a little guilty for "acting normal" sometimes and doing some of things we used to do.  I know that money could go towards our baby, but our lives have been uprooted in so many other ways.  At this point, I need a little sense of normalcy and fun. Sometimes it's also hard for people to understand why we decline a dinner reservation or say we can't go overboard on Christmas.  If they only knew how awful we feel everyday and how much we are struggling to save money, maybe they'd cut us some slack.  Still, I know not everyone will understand what we struggle through.  I know this because I STILL hear comments like "what's meant to be will be" or "just have faith".  Those comments hurt as much as they did a year ago when people said them.  The truth is that "having faith" or "relaxing" (or whatever) will not guarantee us a family.  The reality is that many people with infertility never have children.  For the record, I hope everyone will prove my somewhat pessimistic way of thinking wrong.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September marks the two year point we have been trying....without success.  Can anyone blame us for being sad, pessimistic, heartbroken, jealous and bitter at times after so many months of failure after failure?  Especially when for others, having children happens so easily and is often taken for granted.  It still stings when friends talk of their pregnancies and babies on social media, or worse, in front of me. How could it not?  But over the past year, both of us have grown thicker skin.  In just a few short months, I've grown so much as a person.  I do my best to no longer take simple things for granted and have learned to appreciate the things I do have.  Yet, I still want more....I want what everyone else in this world wants and that's to have children of my own.  

Despite all my "practice", it's still difficult to compose myself at times when people (often patients at work), innocently ask if I have children.  What do I say?  Usually, it's a simple "no, but we will one day".   (Often they gape at me when they hear my age and follow it with a comment of "well you better hurry up".)  REALLY?!@!  I am in the minority.  Most of them, as well as most of my friends and family already have kids...many of them at a young age.  Non of them could ever begin to fathom what it's like to not be able to have something you desperately want.  What I really want to say in response to this loaded question is "I've tried to have children, to have what you have and probably take for granted....for 24 long months.  I can't because we are infertile.  There is no way you could have any idea how painful that is."  Sometimes even the simplest questions can be heartbreaking.  So no, I am still not perfect and at times still become emotional around friends and family and even strangers, but for the most part I can deal on a much better least in public.  I can finally make dinner dates with friends and their babies without bursting into tears.  I've come a long way and am a better person for it.

So where are we now?  Chris and I have been in a holding pattern for the past few months.  I must say, it's been nice to not be poked and prodded and in pain....something my husband takes for granted.  I still think of our situation several times a day, but while my life has been turned upside down from it, it hasn't been completely consumed by it lately.  When in the midst of taking medication with side effects (I still can't get rid of the 10 pounds I put on with the last rounds of meds) and rushing to the doctor 3 times a week before work, it's easy to let it take over your life.  We are taking a break for sanity sake....but also mainly because we don't have the $15,000 it takes for ONE trial of IVF.  Chris has been working alot of overtime and I've been working 3 jobs in order to save money.  We are almost up to our goal....if nothing goes wrong in the meantime.  The monkey wrench is that this October I'll be taking a new position at work and am not sure of how flexible my schedule will be.  Doctor's appointment are very frequent and many times last minute with just a few hours notice...not exactly the best situation to be in at a new job.  I am also debating if I want to cycle around the holidays.  Last Thanksgiving and Christmas were without a doubt AWFUL for me.  Everyone else was enjoying the holidays while I was getting a quick reality check into the life of infertility.  I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with that again.  If it's a success, it would be the best holiday ever....but if it's a failure, it could be the worst.  We don't have a plan B if our IVF fails, at least not yet.  We are taking one step at a time.  I am debating whether or not to cycle in November, December or January and have to weigh my options for each.  Only time will tell.....

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

For those of you following this blog, I'm sure you appreciate how difficult our situation can be emotionally, physically and financially.  I talk freely about most everything we're experiencing  but am also aware that not EVERYTHING needs to be said for privacy and sanity's sake.  I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the difficulties and strains that living through this can place on relationships.  

There's no doubt that Chris and I love each other. We've been together almost 13 years and have had many ups and downs.  When we said our vows nearly 4 years ago, I don't think either of us were thinking about what would happen if we had trouble having children...I guess that's where the "through good times and bad times" comes into play. We married with the understanding that we both wanted children....just not right away.  We waited until we were BOTH ready and that's a great thing.  Well, we've been ready and have been waiting and waiting and waiting......  Years ago, I was just starting my career and we both had so many things we wanted to experience as a couple first.  We love to travel and wanted to enjoy married life with one another for a little while.  I have little regret and am glad we did it that way because we have had so many wonderful experiences which made our relationship the time we got lost in Venice for over 3 hours.  We've been to about 7 different countries together, willingly jumped out of an airplane together, and have made some pretty great friends along the way....experiences we may never have been able to have with children.  Experiences that made us who we are today.  We also wanted go the "traditional" route and buy a house and become more financially stable first.  I know we'll struggle to afford the cost of living with children even now, but we sure weren't ready for those responsibilities earlier.  Children are a big commitment not to be taken lightly, and we were and still are well aware of it.  Sometimes I feel like I'm being punished for "doing it the right way"...if there is such a thing.  

9 months ago, when starting our journey with the reproductive endocrinologist, I wish I would have taken the time to become more informed how much of a commitment and strain this was going to be.  I don't know what I thought back then...I guess I thought it would be easier.  For a few select couples, I guess it is.  Clearly we didn't make the cut. At that time, I didn't read up on how difficult the testing and procedures can be and I surely didn't do my homework with regards to the emotional aspect.  I've said a million times already that this has a funny way of bringing a couple both closer together and farther away all at the same time.  Because of infertility, we have a special bond that few other couples will have.  Because of infertility we also have had many difficult times as a couple too.  I believe if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything.   I believe this has got to be one of hardest things a couple can go through and we aren't making it out unscathed. There are plenty of times when things are not perfect and just downright hard.  Communication, understanding, sympathy and compassion are key...and I will be the first to admit we aren't a perfect couple and have flaws in each department.  But we are learning.  

My hope is that other couples thinking of journeying through this process will read this so they have an idea of the struggles ahead.  I also hope that those of you lucky enough to not deal with this can appreciate what they have.  Here are just a few things I wish I knew earlier....BUT experience is the best teacher.  
1)  No matter how "sensitive" your husband and women are still different.  If your partner doesn't express themselves, it's not always because they don't care.  They may be dealing with things differently than you.
2)  Do your best to join each other for doctor's appointments.  Unfortunately with our job schedules this has been one of our biggest obstacles.  Many times I had to go alone and that's pretty scary....especially if your a newbie and don't know yourself what to expect.  If your partner is unable to join you, maybe ask a close friend or family member to be your support.  This is something I wish I had done.  If you miss an appointment...acknowledge how much you'd really like to be there and make sure you ask questions how the appointment went, what they did and why.  Not asking makes you seemed disinterested.  As much as we all need to work...try to put this as a number 1 priority if your life. 
3)  Make a calender where you BOTH can see to track treatments and upcoming appointments.  I did this for myself, but wish I would have done it for both of us.  This way you can both keep track of treatments you've had months ago....after time they all blend in together and this information may be of use later.  It's also helpful to see when upcoming appointments are to help make sure both can attend.  Also, it gives both people an appreciation for how MUCH you are doing for this miracle to happen.  Let's face it, even if it's the guys problem, we women unfortunately get the brunt of it all.  There are weeks when I go the doctor 4 times.  I don't think people have an appreciation for how much of a time commitment this is and how much it can interfere with work and everyday stuff.  
4)  Since women are the one's receiving 95% or more of the testing and procedures, it's important for us to talk to our partners about how much these procedures hurt (both physically and emotionally) as well as the medical aspect behind them.  They may not understand how difficult and draining these procedures can be.  They don't have our "parts" so we need to do our best to help them relate.  Without communicating this, I think it's MUCH harder for them to be sympathetic.
5)  How many men have gone to a gynecologist appointment?  My guess is not many.  Before they attend the first one, it may be helpful to give them a quick run down about what occurs.  It's new to them and can be intimidating.  I think it will help them prepare themselves for what's about to happen.  You need be explicit about the details about HOW they can support you and also what NOT to say and do.  Not educating them on how what occurs, how hard and invasive these appointments are and how they can support you can backfire.   It's too easy for them to become embarrassed or laugh and giggle. If things start to go badly making guidelines during the appointment isn't the time.  They need to know that these appointments aren't your typical gyno appointments.  Much more occurs at them and if you need support, they need to know what to do (or not to do).  Express in your best words how invasive, embarrassing, awkward, and downright painful these procedures are going to be.   Try to figure out a way to help them relate....and for the men, above all do your best to be mature and compassionate.  We are doing this not only for us, but for you.   Is it fair that we are the ones dealing with all the awful procedures?  No...absolutely not.  But reality is that we are the ones who have to have the baby so try to appreciate our efforts.  And women, encourage and coach your men in the most positive way possible.  If you see things not going how you envisioned, but they are giving good effort, give them some slack and talk to them how to improve later.  If they are acting like "typical men"...good luck trying to figure out what to do.  
6)  Say thank you and be appreciative for the support you are given and offer them suggestions about what more they can do.  They may need help knowing HOW to be supportive.  It's SO easy to be resentful when you feel like the other person doesn't have an appreciation for all you do.
7)  Be patient.  Most likely we'll have to take hormones that can have some pretty nasty side effects.  It's a good idea to tell your partner what you're going through.  Keep in mind, moodiness is a given with hormones.  Guys, bite your tongue when we bite your head off.  We don't like feeling this way any more than you like receiving the brunt of it all.   Women, don't use the hormones as an excuse to be mean to people.  Your husband is an easy target and realize you can't burn bridges because you need him.  If things get rough, take a step back, leave the room, and breathe!  
8)  Be explicit.  Both of you need support and maybe in different ways.  No one is a mind reader and we can't take it for granted that the other person knows what to do.   This is unchartered territory for both and both need a map.  Tell each other what you need from them and how they can do it (then follow through and do it!!!).  Do your best to stick by the "plan." Talk about how you can "care" for the other one...especially when given bad news
9)  Talk about your treatment plans so you both are on the same page and know what the other is thinking.  What if all this fails...are you both willing to adopt is just a small example.  Not knowing what the other person's expectations are can backfire.
10)  Both need to be 100% committed to wanting children.
11)  When upset, do your best to walk away and not say hurtful things.  This is a given for anyone in any situation, but I find it the hardest. (I lack self control when I'm mad).  Even if what you are saying is true, there's a better time and WAY to say it.
12)  Minimize any unnecessary stress.  Personally I had to stop saying "yes" doing things when people ask.  I realized since I'm so busy working and going to appointments, sometimes I need "me" time.
13)  Make time for fun stuff as a couple and for that time make NO talk of infertility.  Enjoy each others company.

This is just a few ideas of advice...Chris and I learned the hard way.  Just because we love each other doesn't mean that we are doing a good job at getting through this.  It helps, but isn't enough.   Chris and I are two very different people....that's part of the reason we fell in love.  But sometimes the very reason that made you fall in love with someone can be the reason for tension.  

Strain in relationships isn't just limited to our spouse.  Because no one can truly understand what you feel and what you're going through, it's difficult for others to say and do the right things sometimes.  Infertility is like the white elephant in the room.  It's easy to become jealous and sad that others have what you don't.  It's even harder when many don't even realize how good they have it.  I talk openly about most of my struggles, yet I still find people being insensitive at times or not knowing what to they say nothing.  Despite my best efforts, it's difficult for me to be around others with children.  Even my own mother can't understand how I feel so how can I expect friends and other family members to understand?  Just remember that the people who really matter in life will find some way to support you and "to hell with the others!"  

Monday, July 9, 2012

TEARS.....are unlike eggs; God doesn't give you a certain number.

1 pregnancy announcement
3 Happy Birthday reminders
1 birthday party invitation
1 incident of standing in line next to a pregnant woman
2 accidental trips down the baby isle while shopping
1 mailing on prenatal care
1 phone call from my Dr to tell me I had a negative pregnancy test
countless pictures on facebook of friend's children having summer fun

This is just this week's list of reminders of what I want so badly....they seem to be everywhere I turn, despite the fact that I do my best to avoid them.  I'm stuck...If I ingore these things, I may be missing out on life and important milestones in my family and friends' life.  I know these things are important to them and I want so badly to enjoy their happiness with them.  But for sanity sake I have to act in self-preservation and do my best to ignore all these inadvertently painful things.  I'm scared that by not being more of a part of their lives, I will close myself off to them.  I can't expect anyone to understand unless they've walked a few miles in my shoes.  What if one day I have children and don't have anyone to share in my excitement because I've shut people out of my life for so long and have decided I am  unable to include them in my life right now?  What's even more unbearable is what if I never get the chance to experience what they all have?  These are just some thoughts that race across my mind most every day.  Nothing is simple and I don't have the answers....I'm just doing my best to survive.

The fact of the matter is that I don't want people to feel sorry for me.  I just need some time, alot of understanding, compassion, patience, an ear to listen to me, perhaps a shoulder to cry on and some sympathy from time to time.  Like I've said before, I don't need advice....I have a well paid team of medical professionals giving me sound medical advice. I feel terrible always feeling sad about what I'm going through...rarely are my posts positive.  I feel I am losing part of my care free and fun personality. This is changing some good ways and some not so good ways.   I don't want to be one of those annoying people that others try to avoid and I fear I am turning into that.  I simply can't help how I feel and am so tired of trying to convince everyone WHY I feel the way I do.  I'm not sure why I feel the need to prove or justify feeling the way I do.  Some people have called me obsessed with my quest towards a family.  Perhaps they are justified in saying so.  I have every reason to be obsessed as I've been dealt a crappy hand.  I dare anyone to judge me if they aren't willing to trade places and see how painful this can all be.  It is consuming...of most my thoughts, time, money....but how can it not be when it's all you want and something so important?  It's almost 2 years since we started trying.  It's almost one year since our first visit to the reproductive endocrinologist....and still we aren't much closer to our family.  How can I not be upset or obsessed?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things NOT to say to an infertile couple:

The past few months have been a wild ride full uncertainty.  Before I had to deal with infertility, I never really gave much thought on "infertility etiquette."  Even the most innocent question like asking someone if they have children can spring up sad emotions for someone having difficulty conceiving.  Most people mean well, but really should think twice before speaking.  I don't need advice...I need understanding and support.  I am aware that this is awkward...that sometimes people don't know what to say.  I am not asking for perfection....just some compassion when it comes to choosing what is said.  

1)  What you say:  "Relax.  You seem stressed out.  Stress can cause trouble conceiving. Maybe you should take a vacation."
What I'm thinking:  "Do your research (I don't rely on internet research but real solid journal articles written by medical professionals).  In all actuality, infertility causes stress, not the other way around."  Don't tell me to relax. EVER.  Walk a mile in my shoes and see if you feel like relaxing.  This is by far the BIGGEST and most hurtful comment a person can make...and one that is said the most.  It trivializes the situation and is just a way to make yourself feel better or to blow off talking about it with me because it's uncomfortable for you.  This is a MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS, a disease, like an other disease or illness.  If you were diagnosed with a life changing disease like multiple sclerosis, would you want to hear advice that consists of people telling you to relax?  I'm sure if your doctor gave you that advice rather than a medical intervention, you wouldn't want to stick around.  Imagine someone telling you to relax after you just got done telling them you have a horrible, life changing disease?  It's NOT comforting and I can't stress enough how it trivializes how we feel.

2)  What you say:  "It'll happen when you least expect it."  or "Stop thinking about it so'll happen when it happens."
What I'm thinking:  "Really!!???!?!  So will getting hit by a mack truck.  Unless you are God, you can't tell me that it ever even WILL happen.  The reality is that us having a child may never happen and the uncertainty and waiting is painful.  There are no guarantees in life.  Waiting around for something that may never happen is hard...especially when it's all you want." Even if this is doesn't make waiting any less painful. 

3)  What you say: "Maybe it's God's plan."
What I'm thinking:  "When did you meet God?  When did he tell you this because he didn't tell me?  Besides, what possible reason could God have for not giving me children?  And even if it is his grand plan, it doesn't make the pain go away."

4)  What you say:  "My cousin had a similar problem and you should see them now.  They have 3 children!"
What I'm thinking?  "Well good for them, but I still have NONE in case you haven't noticed.  Just because they overcame infertility, doesn't mean we will.  It doesn't happen for everyone.  Even if it does happen for us, it doesn't make the pain of waiting any easier."

5)  What you say:  "Parenting is hard.  Enjoy life without kids while you can because your freedom will all end."
What I'm thinking:  "You are right....I'm sure parenting is hard but I would trade places in a heartbeat. I'm putting my body and mind through hell and back so I've given thought to what I signed up for.  I didn't just wake up one day and say 'I wanna have kids.'  I've given it thought.  A LOT of thought.   Your worst day as a parent could be the best day of my life because then I would have a chance to be one.  It's also hard to enjoy life when you are a prisoner to your emotions, medical treatment and your money is all gone just for the chance of what you got for FREE.  Because I'm spending all my time and  money on expensive treatments, I don't have time to travel...etc."

6)  What you say:  "I'll give you my can have them."
What I'm thinking:  "^&^&^% you.  What an insensitive comment.  I'd kill to trade places with you even if your kids are the devil's offspring.   I know parenting is hard but children are a gift and you should be grateful you were blessed with them.  Wake up and start enjoying the good about them because some people can't enjoy them at all."

7)  What you say:  "I've heard stories about when people adopt, they get pregnant."
What I'm thinking.  "Well have you heard any great stories lately about the couple that adopts and still doesn't get pregnant?  I'm sure there are just as many but you don't hear them because it makes for a sad story.  And where is the science in that?  So I should go out and get a kid just for the small chance I'll have my own.  I'd pity the child I adopted if that's the only reason I adopted them."

8)  What you say?  "Have you considered adoption or IVF?"
What I'm thinking:  "Duh.  I can't believe I've never thought of that!!!  I'm so glad you mentioned it. We live through this hell everyday, of course we've considered all options.  And while adoption may give us a baby, it'll never take the pain away from not being able to have our OWN child."

9)  What you say:  "Money isn't an object when it comes to a family."
What I'm thinking:  "Really, since you really feel that way, make your check payable to me.  I don't have 20 grand lying around.... you don't think that me working three jobs is just for a hobby?"

10) What you say:  "Have you tried....(fill in the blank) -ie standing on your head after sex."
What I'm thinking:  "For every one thing you can think of we tried 15 other things."

11)  What you say:  "But practicing making a baby is the fun part."
What I'm thinking.  "Yeah maybe for the first few months, but after the 21st month sex becomes all about baby making, not fun.  Since when is it fun to have the doctor dictate your sex life by telling you when to do it?  Scheduling it in your date book isn't exactly romantic and can also be alot of pressure since so much is riding on it.  Besides, when doctors are poking at your private parts with all sorts of weird crap you lose that romantic feeling pretty quick."

12)  What you say:  "All it takes is one (sperm)."
What I'm thinking:  "Have you even taken a statistics class before?  Think about how many millions of lottery tickets are sold....but only ONE is a winner.  When you have only a few good sperm out of millions of dysfunctional ones, it's like playing the lottery....the odds suck."

13)  What some guys have said to Chris:  "I'll knock your wife up."
What I'm thinking: !)*&^%$%^$#@.  What else can I say.  Some guys are born without basic manners or a backbone for that matter.

14)  What you say:  nothing...
What I'm thinking:  Maybe you don't care. Even if you say all the wrong things, it's better than not acknowledging my pain at all.  

Other things never to say to an infertile couple.
1)  Don't complain about your least not to the infertile couple.  Remember while you have every right to complain because I'm sure it's uncomfortable, don't do it to your infertile friends.  It's downright insensitive.  Remember we'd give our right arm, and right leg, and a few other body parts to be in your shoes.  
2)  When in a group full of people, be mindful that others that don't have children may have other reasons besides not wanting in they can't!  When you exchange stories of parenting or cute things your child did, that is like turning a knife in our back.  In all honesty, this is why I avoid going places with many of my friends who have children.  There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a conversation about breast feeding when you have NO input because you've never had the chance.  I feel invisible during these conversations.  I wouldn't rave about my new job around someone that just lost theirs or talk about how great my relationship is around someone who's spouse just passed.  Sometimes people just don't think.  Remember we are bombarded with daily reminders like birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, birthdays, christenings.  Hearing these things is simply downright painful - even if they are happy for you.  We aren't trying to steal your thunder or happiness...just trying to preserve ours.  
3)  Unless the person has opened up freely about their specific treatments and test results, it is never appropriate to ask personal questions.  It's not nice to ask who's fault it is because pointing fingers is never nice.

What I need:  Someone to listen to me.  A shoulder to cry on.  Someone to understand.  Someone who tries to place themselves in my shoes.  Sometimes just saying "I'm sorry" is enough and all you need to hear.  We aren't asking you to fix the problem....but to help us get through it.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it's supposed to be.....

It wasn't supposed to be like this.  I've imagined over and over in my head of how it would be to start a family.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this.  And I never imagined it may never be.  Everyone keeps telling me to "stay positive", "don't give up", or "it'll eventually happen - have faith".  Well no one but God can promise that.  These are just empty statements to make me feel better - but they don't.  Don't people think I have been hanging on to every ounce of hope I possibly can for the past several months?  Eventually, failure after failure beats you down and Chris and I are the only ones who understand how it feels like to be disappointed time and time again.  I am hopeful that we'll have a family someday and do my best to stay positive - but it's harder than anyone could possibly imagine.  No one but me has to re live my sadness and disappointment each and every month.  I invest an extraordinary amount of time, thought, effort, money and emotion with each month of preparing for something that never happens.  What if our dream of parenthood never does happen?  I'm terrified of the thought.  The truth is for alot of people it doesn't happen.  I also keep hearing...."it only takes one [sperm]". But think about the odds.  Millions and millions of lottery tickets are sold each day but only ONE is a winner.  How many people lose?  Having one lone sperm out of millions of malfunctioning one's do the job has the same odds of winning the lottery.  People need to remember this is a medical condition and statistics are not on our side.  People also need to realize that God doesn't just hand out babies if you are a good person.  Look at all the crackheads with babies.  I can pray all I want, but reality is that I still may come out empty handed.  

For most people, getting pregnant and having children is routine.  I thought it would be for us too.  I never envisioned having to inject myself with hormones among countless other things just for a chance to have a baby.  Even when starting fertility treatments, I never realized how hard they would be.  Everyone, including myself at one point, just thinks that they do a few simple tests, a few simple procedures and BAM, you have a baby.  Everyone "expects" treatments to work.  This is NOT the case.  I expected my first IUI attempt to work.  When it didn't I learned real quick that my expectations needed to change.  I think just about every one of my friends and family expected us to be pregnant by now....and especially after our 4th IUI.  I can plan alot of things in life, but I'm learning I can't plan or expect anything when it comes to this.  The more you expect things to be a certain way, the harder you fall when it doesn't turn out that way.  I have to be the one to pick myself up when I fall.  I am the one who has to function normally, go to work, be near friends and family, like nothing ever happened after I hear a negative result.  I'm the one who has to take the phone call from the doctor, only to hear "I'm sorry, but it didn't work this time." I'm the one who has to deal with stabbing myself with needles, endure painful procedures and annoying side effects from medications and I'm the one who has to wait around for my cycle to inevitably come every month as another reminder of our failure.  Some days I can barely do it and I do a pretty damn good job at pretending I'm happy when I'm aching inside.  

I never expected I'd be making a baby in a petri dish or that I'd have to pay $15,000 just for a chance of becoming pregnant.  I never expected any of this.  I am hoping within the next few months, we will have enough money saved up to try one cycle of IVF.  Chris and I fall within the lucky 3% of people seeking fertility treatments who require IVF.  When you pay so much money, invest so much time and effort, you "expect" it will work.  I haven't prepared myself for what will happen if it doesn't work.  I don't know how to do this.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nobody said it was easy......

I go for my betas tomorrow morning before work (blood pregnancy test).  Due to my insurance company policy, pregnancy tests need to be sent out to a different lab, therefore it delays the results an entire day.  One day isn't always easy.  If you were waiting for lab results for cancer screening to come back, how would you feel if they made you wait an entire extra day just to save the insurance company a few bucks?  My sanity is worth more than the few dollars they may save.  So that being said, I tested myself today.  They tell you not to...but I did.  Because the test results don't come in until Saturday, I may not actually hear the results until Monday with it being the weekend.  I can't wait that long.  I've already been waiting 22 months for a miracle.  

To save myself the heartache of telling each and every person who asks if this IUI didn't.  I am still waiting for my 2 pink lines and all the exciting feelings that go along with it.  There's a very small chance the home pregnancy test is wrong...but they are 99% accurate.  I do this everytime...convince myself it's somehow wrong and I'm not doing that to myself again.  With each IUI, I had to hear 3 separate times it was a failure....first with the home pregnancy test, then when my cycle arrives, then again when the doctor calls with the results.  I'll get to do it all over again this weekend.  You'd think it would get easier, but it doesn't and it seems pretty cruel that I need to be reminded so many you know why I blog the results instead of having to repeat myself.  For me, it's like losing a loved one, only I've never even had the chance to love this child.  For everyone else, life goes on as usual.  But for me, I am grieving over my loss...again.  All the self injections of "hormone cocktail", mood swings, weight gain, and other side effects were all for nothing.  All I've gained is a few pounds, a more cynical attitude and thicker skin.  Putting my mind and body through hell was all for nothing it seems.  My own husband can't even understand or relate to what I'm going through, so how can I expect anyone else to?  

For the most part I've come to terms with what's going on.  I've been through the 5 stages of loss in some way shape or form....denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Each day is different and I have some pretty bad days where I'm angry, in denial, depressed, or beg God to grant me a child. Slowly, however I've come to accept that this is how it is.  I can't change it.  I can't ignore it.  It's not fair, but it's the cards I've been given.  Few can truly understand.  It's hard not to get angry at people who have what you long for so much or to be around others whose lives seem so great and carefree.  But even people who have the things I want don't have perfect lives.  

Alot was riding on this last IUI.  Now the only chance for me to have my own family lies with the science of IVF.  Unfortunately it costs alot of we don't have just quite yet.  Like most people my age, I'd rather be putting away for retirement or vacations, but right now this is more important.  It'll take us some time to get there, but we will.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today is day 5 on injectable medication.  I do not like needles - who does?  In the past I even avoided going to the doctor to have vaccines needed for school and work.  My heart races and I sweat profusely as the needle gets near.  During my previous 3 IUI's I had other people give me the trigger shot of HcG.  This time around, Chris gave me my first 2 injections.  The first time he accidentally messed up and had to stick me twice.  Saturday I was convinced that I had to do this on my own.  For some reason I needed to.  I have gone through hell and back emotionally and physically the past few months and I needed to prove to myself that I can in fact overcome anything.  I did.  I succeeded three times the past 3 days.  I'm just glad these are small needles.

I barely noticed any side effects with Clomid (the medication I was taking for the past 3 IUIs).  With this new medication I have unfortunately noticed some not so great side effects.  While only on the hormones for 5 days, I already have some moderate skin break out, slightly sore stomach from the injection,  and some bloating.  The bigger and harder to deal with side effects are some weight gain, headaches, and change of emotions.  I notice I am getting angry alot easier...rage is more like it.  At times I get so enraged I feel the devil is going to reincarnate himself through me.  And at times I cry for almost no reason.  I know Chris is trying to be patient with me but he's not the one dealing any of the physical side effects and also fewer emotional wounds (at least I think).  It's MY body and sometimes I wish he'd cut me some slack or be more supportive of what I'm going through.  I'm not doing this for me...but for US.  Men will be men I guess and I know he's trying.  

Today I followed up with the clinic and so far I'm responding very well to the medication.  I go back again Wednesday for yet more blood work and ultrasounds.  I project our final IUI will take place late this week or early next.  Let's face it - there's alot riding on this one.  If this fails we have to move on to IVF.  This is our last hope before spending thousands and thousands of dollars for one chance of a dream.  

While most of you are sleeping, I'm sitting here alone writing this blog tying to sort out my thoughts.  Less than 30 feet or so away, across the hallway, still sits an empty room.  Empty.  It's hard for me to imagine that it could be anything but a baby's room, filled with plush whimsical stuffed animals and a rocking chair.  I imagine how the room would be time and time again.  As hard as it is for me to not think about what's missing in there, it's even harder to think about or imagine what will happen if it never gets filled.  Like many things in life, it's a constant reminder of what I don't have.  Each time I pass by it re opens wounds that are still very fresh.  The past few months I've been so focused on my goal of making a family that I brushed aside any possibility that it may never become a reality.  Even if it does, am I ready?  I haven't had a ton of time to focus on what I will actually do when (and if) I become a mother.  Will I be  a good mother?  How am I going to find time to fit all my daily tasks in, including work?  How will we afford daycare, especially if we have twins?  These thoughts are just a few that swirl throughout my mind, at times clouding my better judgement.  Unlike most couples trying for a baby I have alot more to think about and on my plate so to speak.  Most to-be moms are thinking about HOW to be a mother....I'm just thinking about IF I'm going to be a mother.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Start of IUI #4:
Chris and I are living proof that well meaning  the "relax, take a vacation, and don't think about it and it will happen" advice rarely works.  A few months back, when much more new and naive to the infertility process, we booked a vacation to Mexico.  In retrospect however, the money used for the vacation would have been better served for treatments.  I don't regret it though and in fact I believe God works in mysterious ways.  With the past few months being as stressful as they were, it was much wanted and much needed get away.  It wasn't just a vacation but a temporary escape from everyday problems, including infertility.  I don't live to work.  I work to live, but lately feel like I can add on to that sentence by saying I work to live (and to pay for our infertility treatments).  The life as we once knew it has been forever changed and shaped by our struggles.  Not only has my perspective and outlook on life changed but also physical things such as work....I find myself working 3 jobs to save up for treatments and often mentally beat myself up when I buy simple things such as a cup of coffee the morning after working a 12 hour shift.  I want alot of things in life that money can buy such as a pool for our backyard, but I would never take on extra jobs to pay for it.  I learn to do without and live within my means.  Whoever said money doesn't buy happiness never struggled with not being able to have a baby.  Needless to say the next few months I will be buckling down to save the cash needed for just one chance of that dream.  

The vacation was great.  On any given "normal" day when going through treatments, I can honestly say I think of our problem well above 50 to 75% of the time.  Some days, I'd venture to say 100% of the time.  Many times I try to forget just for sanity sake but it's so hard.  I'll be having a conversation about how to treat one of my patients at work or I'll be out with friends talking about old times and in the back of my mind my thoughts of infertility are shouting at me and racing through my mind.  Sometimes they are so loud I can't even hear what others are saying.  It's frustrating and not fair to myself or the people trying to have my attention.  I can't help it and I know that no one wants to hear my sob story every-time I think of it so I try best to ignore these thoughts.  When in Mexico I only thought of it a few times.  I'm not sure how this is possible, but like I said, God works in mysterious ways.  We enjoyed the vacation and didn't think about baby making too much, even though it was the week I was ovulating.  I'm back from Mexico with only memories, pictures and a few souvenirs.  There is no great story to tell about how we tried and tried to conceive for months and months and then went on vacation to paradise and then magically got pregnant.  We are NOT the minority that this happened to.  Now I can honestly say I've tried ALL the advice so kindly given to us.  It didn't work so we are back to modern medicine and the marvels of science.  When living with infertility you learn the hard way (and pretty quickly) that our expectations and ideas of how we'd like things in life to happen aren't always a reality.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think (or want) to conceive our baby in a petri dish after being drugged with enough hormones to perhaps kill a chicken.  So again, there is no great romantic story that we will get to tell people or our future child about how they came to be.  

At our last consult with the doctor we all agreed to try one more IUI cycle, but with a different approach....injectable hormones.  I responded well to clomid (oral hormone), however the injectable medications will allow for even more eggs to be "harvested", thereby increasing our chances.  This is our last stop before taking the plunge to IVF.  Tomorrow officially starts our 4th, and last IUI attempt.  I will be completing initial bloodwork and ultrasounds and on Thursday will be starting to give myself daily shots of Follistim.  I guess I'll learn more tomorrow on how all this works.  I've learned there's not much patient education involved in learning to give yourself injections.   It's pretty much, "grab your skin and fat, stick the needle in, and press the plunger."  MUCH easier said than done when you hate needles.  

The bump in the road is that I learned some disturbing news about my prescription coverage.  While it's much better than most, it's not perfect.  Months back I remember calling the insurance company to inquire about drug coverage and was pleased to hear that my co pays for most medications would run about $65 per medication.  I used to complain about a $20 co pay, but after learning these drugs can cost thousands of dollars it was music to my ears.  Now all we needed to come up with was the money for the actual procedure.  WRONG!.  Today I learned the catch.  I have a $5000 per lifetime cap.  What does this mean exactly?  Most of these drugs cost hundreds of dollars for one dose.  I still have to pay a small co pay, but the insurance covers the rest.  BUT after they pay out their $5000 I'm on my own and it's all out of pocket.  Today I learned that a 900 unit of Follistim can cost $1600 per vial!  What the pharmacist said is that I can basically use the entire allotment on just ONE medication.  Today I ordered Follistim and it cost about $800 with a $65 co pay....which comes out of the $5000 pot.  What this means is that when and if we need to do IVF we will need to self pay more most of the medications.  When calculating figures on paper a few months back I did not anticipate this.  Most likely this will further delay our attempt.  We've gotten through worse and will learn to adapt.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Due to our recent IUI failure I've been hearing this question alot the past few weeks.  I thought it might be  a good opportunity to discuss reasons why some IUI's fail.  From the articles I've read, success rates vary between 5% to 25%.  

Like most fertility treatments, increasing age of a woman (35 and older) decreases success rates. Unfortunately egg quality tends to decline with age.  At age 18, a woman has a 25% chance of conceiving, however by age 40 her chances decline to about 4 to 6%. A woman also has less eggs or ovarian reserve as she ages since many have already been used with previous cycles (number of eggs left  = ovarian reserve).  

Just because a woman is ovulating doesn't mean that she has quality eggs. Low quality eggs have internal defects such as chromosomal problems or problems with energy production (eggs need to be able to divide after fertilization).  A woman is born with about 1 million eggs that like dormant in the ovaries until they are "activated" by hormones at the time of ovulation. Unfortunately as far as I know of there is nothing that can "boost" egg quality.  Often times, couples with "bad eggs" need to rely on donor eggs.  From my understanding the only way to truly test egg quality is with egg retrieval prior to completing an IVF cycle.  The bad news is that this is very costly financially and invasive (requires a surgical procedure).  Also, after the eggs are retrieved there is no accurate test to assess quality.  Often times it is subjective and based on someone looking at them under a microscope.  Since egg morphology has not been adequately studied, many women go through several cycles of failed IUIs or IVF cycles without even knowing she has poor egg quality.

Last, eggs that are released may be immature and therefore incapable of being fertilized.  During a normal cycle, certain hormones prepare the egg to have the capability of becoming fertilized.  

Blocked fallopian tubes can occur from many factors such as STDs, a uterine infection caused by abortion or miscarriage, a ruptured appendix (causes scar tissue), any previous abdominal surgery (causes scar tissue), ectopic pregnancy or endometriosis.  If the tube is blocked, there is a physical barrier preventing the egg and sperm from coming into contact.  Luckily an HSG test, although invasive and painful, can detect this.  Many times the solution they inject into the uterus during the procedure can unblock the tube. If that fails, sometimes laparoscopic surgery is required to remove scar tissue.

Timing is critical.  After the egg is released from an ovary it only has about 12 hours to become fertilized.  If fertilization fails the egg disintegrates.  It's amazing anyone becomes pregnant with such a short time frame allowed for fertilization. The good news is that sperm can survive for a few days in the woman's uterus.  If intercourse occurs a few days before fertilization, the sperm can already be there to wait for the egg.  Also, with intercourse sperm can travel up the wrong fallopian tube or can become trapped.  Sperm can also swim poorly for various reasons, not allowing them enough time to reach the egg. 

 The IUI must be done in roughly that 12 hour window.  If the IUI is done too early or worse too late (after ovulation has occurred), the chance of the sperm contacting the egg is slim.  IUI has the advantage of helping the sperm get to it's target quicker, however if the egg has not yet matured or has already died the procedure will fail.  To ensure this doesn't happen, it is essential that the woman has several bloodtests to check hormone levels that indicate she is ovulating.  Ultrasounds are also essential to determine the exact time of ovulation.  Nowadays many doctors help mother nature by giving an injection of HCG - a hormone that triggers ovulation. This takes much of the guess work out of the equation....but remember if the shot is given too early the egg will be immature.  If the shot is given too late, natural ovulation may have already occurred.  

If a woman isn't ovulating there is no egg to be fertilized.  No doctor in the right mind will complete an IUI unless ovulation has been triggered with hormones.

This is our problem.  Even though there may be ample sperm, if they are malformed they may not have the physical capability of penetrating the egg to fertilize it.  This is usually caused by deformities in the head of the sperm.  It's like having a million spoons when all you need is a knife.  The spoon just won't do the trick. Many studies have shown poor success rates for IUIs with poor sperm quality.  Sadly there is no known medical treatment to improve sperm quality.  


Sperm can also swim slowly, may not be able to swim at all, swim in circles going no where, or may have 2 tails causing them to swim poorly.  If they can't reach the egg in time, it'll be too late.  Luckily for this particular problem the IUI does the work for the sperm.   Since the sperm are injected directly into the uterus they need not swim far.  Also, if the sperm are normal but there just isn't an abundance of them, IUIs are more successful as it gets the few sperm closer to the egg.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Feeling Better

The past few days have been hard....very hard.  Even though I sort of expected the last IUI to fail, it's still never easy when the news comes.  I always expect the worst and hope for the best but that's easier said than done.  Mother's day was especially difficult, but with the help of some great friends (and family) and a few encouraging words from old friends on facebook, I was able to take on the day.  Thank you all for being so kind and thoughtful.  In this journey I've learned how important friends and family are and I need support in any form people are willing to give it.  When times are rough, it's oxygen to me and it's what keeps me going.  I don't know what I would have done if I didn't go public and share my story.  My heart goes out to people suffering in silence.  This journey is hard enough, but doing it alone would be impossible.  Rightfully so, I have been extremely sensitive about what others say and I am truly sorry for taking things so personally at times. 

So Chris and I met with Dr Schinfeld this week to discuss other treatment options.  We've decided to complete one more (at most two) IUIs.  We all agree that our chances are slim, but still slightly better than doing nothing.  Most likely I will no longer be taking Clomid for the next cycle, but an injectable medication (I'm not looking forward to giving myself needles).  This stronger medication will allow me to produce even more follicles (eggs) than with clomid.  However since we have male factor infertility, the procedure will still most likely fail.  No matter how many eggs I produce, if the sperm are incapable of fertilizing the egg, it won't work.  Still trying this is better than nothing. The good news is that my "inside plumbing" is fantastic and looking much younger than for my age so we have that to our advantage.  All my labs (hormone levels) look great as well.  Unfortunately the only way to actually test the integrity of the egg is with egg retrieval for IVF....even though I ovulate, I could still be producing "bad eggs."  This procedure alone (without medication cost) runs at the lowest $9500.  

The doctor suggested we make an appointment for an IVF consult to discuss IVF in greater learn all the ins and outs.  What I  did learn is that there is about a 52% to 58% chance it will work.  We are six times more likely to become pregnant with IVF than with IUI.  Abington has one of the greatest track records in the US so I am doing my best to stay hopeful.  Our meeting is mid June so this will give me plenty of time to do more research and come up with questions. Since I lack IVF coverage, the consult alone will run us $350.  The earliest he projects that we will complete the IVF cycle is July....our finances will not allow for this until later however.  Our chances for twins and triplets will increase more with IVF than with IUI.   From our discussions, Chris and I are only willing to transfer 2 embryos at a time...triplets would be impossible for us to handle!  They frown upon transferring more than 3.  

Chris and I leave for a much needed vacation to Mexico this week.  Due to timing of the trip, we are missing this month of treatments and will be on our own.  We will resume our last (or second to last) IUI the beginning of June when we return and will also start more planning should it fail.  I am starting to recover from my loss and am feeling better and happier.  Since the time could be getting closer to motherhood, I am doing my very best to enjoy life as I know it now.  I want a baby more than anything, but looking at other parents and how they struggle, I want to enjoy life without kids while I can. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Journey to the Baby Bump

Today has not been the best of days...I guess usually when I post it isn't.  I do have good and happy days though so I'm thankful for them.  They are just harder to come by these days.  Yesterday I went for my blood pregnancy test.  I was told that my insurance company will not pay for Abington's lab to process blood pregnancy tests (beta tests) so they must be sent out to another sensitive of them to make me wait one more day. (Yet the 10 other blood tests I have each month can get processed in the hospital lab - makes no sense).  I did my best to not get my hopes up and not do a HPT and I did well....until last night.  I broke down and tested.  I went to work today, dreading the phone call that would confirm what I already knew.  About an hour before I received the call, there was no sense waiting for the call because my body already told me I wasn't pregnant.  

I don't expect the world to stop for me and I know other people have things going on, but only a small handful of people asked me the results, how things were or how I was doing.  I'm pretty vocal about what's going on so it's no secret that this another big week.  I was hurt and disappointed but life goes on.  I know I am overly sensitive lately and people probably aren't sure what to say or what not to say.  Sometimes saying nothing at all is worse than some of the mindless comments I hear.  So work went on as usual.  The past week has also been difficult because I am dealing with my father being very ill on top of everything else.  There's alot on my plate now.  I received the phone call from Dr Schinfeld who told me what I already found out twice in within the past few hours...why not hear it a third time?  It's a bit of a blur...everyone seemed so happy go lucky talking about fun things and here I am getting this stupid phone call.  All I wanted to do was cry but I had to come back to work and treat patients as if nothing happened.  The rest of the day went by with no one knowing how heartbroken I was.  I feel bad because it's all I ever seem to be lately and I feel it's getting old to some.  I have come pretty good at acting "normal" when I'm a mess inside.

We have another consult with the reproductive endocrinologist next Monday to discuss other options.  We still plan on finishing out our remaining 3 IUIs but will most likely move onto stronger injectable medication.  Anyone who knows me well will tell you how squeemish and afraid I am of needles.  I have already had to have 2 at home injections, but with the new medication I will most likely have to give them to myself daily.  It's what I have to do though.  At the appointment we will also further discuss the risks and benefits of IVF, the likelihood of it working for us, and the costs involved.  I have already come to terms that this is what we will probably need to do, but have not been able to come to terms what we'll do if it fails. This would be our last and only we just need to continue to reach our 15 to 20 thousand dollar saving mark for the treatment.  It's coming slow.  I try not to get jealous that others get to conceive their children the natural way (for free).  

The day was also more difficult because I let social media work my nerves.  It's hard to log onto facebook and hear people complaining about childcare tasks or what have you.  I understand people are venting, however some people don't understand that the things they "vent" about may be someone else's dream.  I have tried to learn to become more mindful of what I say because sometimes even simple mindless comments can be painful for others. 

I must say I am doing better this time around...with having 21 months of practice and all.  I only cried about a quarter of the time I did last time.   I'm sick of crying, sick of feeling out of control and helpless, sick of feeling sad, sick of painful treatments, sick of seeing my bank account drained, and sick of being angry that other people take for granted the blessings they have.  As a physical therapist, I would never say to a paraplegic..."want to join me in the Broad Street Run" or say to a deaf person "want to come to a concert with me?" but yet it seems ok to say things to an infertile person such as "want to come to my baby shower?"  It's just an observation is all. On another note...can't wait to be forgotten again on mother's day...just a painful reminder of who I'm not.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


For those who understand or are going through fertility treatments, you've heard of or have been through what we call the 2 week wait.  For those who don't - the 2 week wait (2 ww or tww) is a 2 week period of time between receiving fertility treatment to conceive (ie IUI or IVF) until the time we learn if we are or aren't pregnant.  Chris and I had our third IUI (intrauterine insemination) treatment the 23rd of April.  Within these two weeks, my body has either possibly conceived or is doing it's thing to get ready for the next cycle.  Unfortunately there's no way to know because blood pregnancy tests can't really detect if we are pregnant until about 2 weeks.  In these 2 weeks, there's not much else to do but.....w a i t.  Some doctors will wait even longer to test, which I can't possibly imagine.  Most home pregnancy tests (HPT) aren't sensitive enough to detect pregnancy this early, so a blood test sometimes is the only way to go.  It's either that or you wait and see if and when your next cycle starts. 

So we have our blood test Monday...exactly 2 weeks after our procedure.  They are checking for Beta levels (beta hCG).  This is a chemical produced by cells in the placenta that nourish the embryo after implantation (after the embryo becomes embedded in the uterine lining).  Levels can be detected about 12 to 14 days after conception.  This is the first time I've refrained from taking a HPT on my own.  Not taking one is the hardest thing to do but I can't torture myself.  If it's negative, I usually come up with this grand reason in my head as to why and somehow convince myself it must be wrong.  This time, I'm just going to wait for the results of the blood test - we get a call from the doctor with the news maybe Monday, but most likely Tuesday.  With our first IUI, I never made it to the blood test because my cycle started before I even made it there, confirming the procedure failed.  Last time, I did make it two weeks but was still disappointed to find out it was negative.  Waiting for that phone call for two days was complete torture...I must have checked my phone every 5 minutes.  In retrospect, I'm glad I received that call at the end of the day.  I had to work that day and after the news couldn't bare to continue.  I hope I'm lucky enough this time to get the news later in the day for sanity sake.  I'm no longer a rookie at this point, so I've tried to figure out ways to keep me sane.  Most people dealing with treatments will tell you that they have a few dates burned in their head...most probably are bad days.  Mine was March 9th....after the phone conversation with the doctor that our second IUI failed.  That was by far the hardest and worst day of my life and I'm doing my best to not re live it.  A few hours after the phone call, my cycle started and the news was re confirmed.  NOT a good day.  As I mentioned in my last post, the difficult thing with infertility is that we relive the sadness each and every month and don't really have time to grieve because the next round of treatments starts immediately.  I grieve each and every month for a baby I've never been able to have.  I still love that baby more than life itself even though it's not real yet.  I don't think people recognize my loss because no one actually died.  But of piece of me DID die!  With death, people see your loss and understand it.  With infertility, no one sees my loss and few understand that the loss is just as significant.  Yet, most people either choose to ignore it or say a quick "sorry" and expect me to get on with life. In a way I'm glad most people don't understand, because that means they've never experienced this.  I wouldn't wish this problem on my worst enemy.  I feel inclined to help others understand treatments, what we are going through and gain sensitivity to how we feel.  

So the closer it gets to the two week mark, the harder waiting gets.  It's hard not to over analyze what your body is feeling.  For example, if I get tired easily I try to convince myself it's a sign of pregnancy, when actually it's probably something else.  There have also been times, closer to the two week mark, where I find myself refraining from going to the bathroom.  I am heartbroken when my cycle starts again, so somehow I think that avoiding going to the bathroom will delay it.  

A week from today is Mother's Day.  In my head lately, it's all I think about.  This is the first year I am dreading mother's day because it's just a reminder of who I'm not.  I've never had the joy of someone calling me mommy.  It seems everywhere I go it's thrown in my the store:  "free gifts for mothers" or in the mail is an advertisement for mother's day brunch, the list goes on. These are all things that I can only participate in as a daughter, not a mother.   How can I celebrate a day that's just a reminder of the hell I'm dealing with every day?  Some people don't get that this isn't a happy day for everyone.  Who's going to remember me on mother's day?