Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We will know any day now if our IVF worked and we are or aren't pregnant.  This two week wait (2ww) as they call it has been nerve wracking and harder than going through all the actual tests and procedures.  Your mind has a way of playing tricks on you and it's pretty hard to control when you want something so badly.  I've tried to keep myself busy and distracted and this has helped alot.  I'm also not getting my hopes up because I've had them crushed so many times before.  That's why I guess it's so hard to hear things like "you just never know".  That may be true, but I also know from experience many times it's not.  I'd rather be pleasantly surprised than devastated.  I guess either way I'd be devastated, but it's much harder when you think it worked and then everything comes crashing down.  The doctor's had me believing that our IUIs would work, so each time I believed them....and here we are two IVFs later.  

When I go for bloodwork, a few hours later they will call with the results.  From experience, those few hours in between having your blood drawn and getting the call are the worst. Last time I already knew it failed because mother nature told me so....but for some reason I still held onto hope that it wasn't true.  This time, mother nature hasn't yet graced me with her presence yet and I hope she takes a LONG vacation for 9 months.  

The bloodwork tests my beta hcg levels....a chemical released by the baby-to-be.  That means implantation was successful and technically you are pregnant.  That is a HUGE hurtle to cross, HOWEVER since a huge amount of pregnancies and IVFs end in chemical pregnancies or very early miscarriages, it's only the beginning.  This is why most women don't want to announce their pregnancy until after the first trimester....I won't have that luxury.  It's critical and very touch and go the next few days if I test positive.  IF I am pregnant, two days later I take another blood test to see if the levels are rising.  This is really the ONLY way to know if the baby will likely survive early on...and many don't.  I can't imagine how horrible those two days would be.  This is why when people ask me what the results are on our first test....I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing it because it's not yet official and alot can go wrong.  There would be nothing worse than telling everyone you are pregnant FINALLY only to tell them a few days later that you lost it.  I've been placed in an awkward situation because so many people are pulling for me and just want to know.  I DO TOO and I'd be ecstatic if we passed the first test (you have no idea) but it would be far from official!!!  So please understand my own sanity I don't think I can share the news (if I even get good news) too early on.  If it fails....I have another bridge to cross.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Misdirected Anger

I'll never forget the first time someone pointed out to me how angry my blogs seemed.  "Are you kidding me?" I thought.  Clearly this must have been coming from someone who's fertile and hasn't understood or lived through the struggles of infertility.  It's more than a ruins your chances of fulfilling what's important to the majority of human beings....having a family.  How could this NOT be important and how could I NOT be angry we weren't blessed with something nearly every other human being doesn't have to give a second though to?  Didn't I earn the right as a woman to have the chance to be a mother? But my motherhood has been taken away from me.  As I've learned from counseling, I have every right to be angry as anyone with this disease or ANY disease does.  One of my goals with this blog was to help others understand why I'm so angry about not being able to have children.....I guess I must not have gotten through to everyone and as life goes, I probably never will.  I'm ok with that, but what I'm NOT ok with is being judged for having normal feelings....especially from someone who's never lived a day in the life of someone infertile.  My job as a therapist is to help people overcome their physical disabilities.....but I know that RIGHTFULLY attached to those physical disabilities is mental and emotional baggage that comes along with them.  I understand and accept that many are angry about what's been dealt to them so it blows my mind that other people can't be more understanding of the anger I or anyone else can  have from being the unlucky one who has to deal with something so life changing.  No, it's not fair....LIFE isn't fair but I've said this before and I'll say it's easy to say that when you aren't on the receiving end of the unfairness.  That cliche hits really close to home when it's YOU...only then can you truly understand the reality of this cliche.    

So yes...of course I'm angry I can't fulfill my lifelong dream of having a family.  Isn't that what most people in this world strive for (a fulfilling career, a family and to be happy)?  Isn't that why most people get married to someone they love so they can make children?  Yet we are shafted and don't get to fulfill the dream that everyone else seems to take for granted....the ease of getting pregnant and having kids. When does anyone ever say...."Gee I'm really glad I could get pregnant and that I'm not infertile"?  Most people don't give it a thought.  It's just expected we can procreate.  When have you seen commercials or walks for infertility like there seems to be for every other disease or problem under the sun?  We often get left out and swept under the it's no big deal.     Even though enough people live with infertility, it's just not something people talk about or really appreciate the impact of.  I know I never did until the past few years.  It's so easy to blow it off and think or say "just relax, it'll happen" or  "I'm sure it'll all work out" or to come up with a billion million reasons and solutions for not being able to get pregnant and have a baby.  I still have people who are insensitive enough to say: "I'll give you my kids for a day".  What I should say is "I'd love them actually, but only if you learn to live a day in the life of someone who can't have them."  Most people that embark on IVF will get pregnant....however many do not for true medical or unknown reasons.  What about those people?  What about those who will never know because they simply can't afford another treatment to find out?  From talking with friends and  family I know at least 6 other couples (some directly and some indirectly) who've tried IVF.  ALL have gotten pregnant.  My point is that not everyone does....odds are someone won't.  Will that be us?  In my head I'm thinking "well it worked for all of them, so I must be the 1 in 6 who doesn''s gotta be someone."  I feel really happy for each and everyone of them because I know how it feels to want this so badly.  But that doesn't mean I can't be angry and upset that it hasn't yet been me too.  I've learned that underneath anger is a whole lot of pain and hurt....the anger is just what we see on the surface.  How does anyone ever get over those scars, baby or not?  

I can't tell you how sad I am when I hear another pregnancy or birth announcement....this is one of the very reasons I quit facebook.  Life is so centered around families and children and I'm reminded and bombarded constantly.  The entire world seems to revolve around families, children and babies: back to school, mother' day, father's day, Christmas, commercials on name it, it's year round.  How can people without children feel like they fit in?  I know I can't always run away and avoid these things, but my wounds are still pretty fresh and from what I've learned will always somewhat be exposed.  It's something you hold onto forever, even if it's only a little bit.  It never completely heals but hopefully lessens somewhat with time.  Because these things are triggers for me, I learn to avoid them and deal with them on my own time when I'm ready.  No one gives people a time frame to heal from the death of a loved one, but it seems that some people give me a ticking clock for when I should be over not being able to have children....easy to say unless you've lived it.  When will it EVER be ok that I can't be a mom?  

How can I get over my dream to have a family when you hear daily news of reports of child abuse, neglect, or people just killing their children....children I can't have?  It's so difficult to hear anyone complain about their children, family or pregnancies.  Hell, it's difficult to hear them talk about the joys of it all because I  may never know them.  It's an exclusive club I've never got the invite to.  I'm always on the sidelines.  I feel so left out and defeated during these conversations that I'd often rather not participate or place myself in a situation where I'll just end up sobbing in the bathroom later.  What I WOULDN'T do to be in their shoes... if they only realized how lucky they really are.  As an analogy:  would any normal person complain about what's on their dinnerplate in front of a starving person?  Most people unknowingly do this but I just have to deal.  People SHOULD be able to talk about their kids (good or bad)'s just hard to hear.  I can't help to get so angry at people who have lots of money to afford treatments or people who have lots of money that are blessed enough to not even need treatments in the first place.  I work hard for my money too.  I'm so jealous and frustrated that some people's biggest problem right now is what color to paint the bathroom or what type of kitchen cabinets to get.  I remember those days but they are long gone.  I miss them.  It's hard not to feel a bit angry at people who can afford expensive things when the only thing I want to buy is a chance to have a baby.  I don't want a car, or a nice house, or a boat, or diamond earrings, or a great vacation, I just want a family.  Whoever said money can't buy happiness never  knew of infertility.  

In the three years we've been struggling to have a family, I can count over 2 dozen friends and family that have had children...some even on their second in the time it's taken us to try for one.  It's been over THREE years for us.  That's a long time to feel this try for something so hard.  It's incredibly frustrating watching everyone else.  We feel like we are hitting our heads against a brick wall or are running on a hamster wheel.  Right now, a very good friend of mine is pregnant and she won't be the last.  Of course I'm happy for her, but it doesn't mean I'm not sad as hell inside for myself.  I will admit it takes ALOT of practice to feel happy for someone else when you are dying inside....when all you want in the world is what she has.  It's so hard to brush your feelings to the side just to have a normal conversation.  It's heartbreaking to watching her belly grow while I get to stick mine with needles for the chance to join her on the other side...knowing I may never.  It kills me that soon her house will be decorated with baby pictures while the only one I may ever have is just a Polaroid of two 8 celled embryos.  In a few months she'll get to hold her baby and take it home from the hospital while I have nothing to hold but a photograph of what could've been.  She'll get to have a baby shower, will get to pick out a crib, will be one day sending her baby off to kindergarten and I can't.  It's infuriating we have to try SO damn hard, while they didn't.  I hate it.  I'm angry about it and I'm so sad inside it can't be me too.  It's not her fault she got pregnant and I can' how is it fair that I can't bear to hear her share stories about her pregnancy?  It's not.  My point and question to everyone is HOW do you get over not being able to be a mom, HOW do you move on from something you want so badly when you are reminded so frequently?  HOW do you watch someone else live your dream and still remain close?  I don't want to be a bitter person, but really underneath it all I'm whole heartedly devastated and more sad than I could have ever imagined being.  How do you control how you feel when you can't so it doesn't ruin relationships and my chances of happiness as well?  How can I get people to understand the hurt behind the anger?  How can I have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with people who have what I don't?  How can I put my own feelings aside to join the the joy of others?    How can I get people to understand why on "bad" days I can't attend baby-showers, family functions or just hanging out?  How can I stop pretending to plaster a happy face on myself when all I want to do is cry?  How can I ever be happy?

I am doing the best I can to not misdirect my anger towards others.  It's not their fault they have what I don't....but it's also hard to see it.  It's also not my fault that I have to be the one to deal with this.  The problem with infertility is that I have no one to be angry at.  Do I get angry at God, my husband, my friends, myself?  Of course I can' one did this to it's hard not to be angry at the universe.  I have no one to direct my anger and hurt at...just a shitty disease that I can't do anything about.  I'm doing my best to keep my emotions at bay and to not misdirect my anger towards others because it's not fair to anyone...but it's so hard not having someone or something to be angry at.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

From my previous update, we had 10 eggs retrieved last Thursday.  Of the 10, only 4 were mature which is horrible.  I wonder if they triggered and retrieved too early, not allowing the rest to mature.  Of the 4, only 2 fertilized which also isn't good.  Luckily both made it to transfer.  We were sweating bullets for three days hoping and praying we'd have something to transfer.  Our transfer was Sunday and both embryos were doing well at that time.  We were able to transfer two grade A embryos (one 8 cell and one 5 cell).  Embryos are given a grade based on how they look and how they divide, with grade A being the best. For day three transfer, they like to see between 6 to 8 of ours was a little behind but at least was surviving.  The difficult part is that the grade of the embryo doesn't necessarily relate to pregnancy rates. Like everyone knows last time, both of our embryos were perfect, yet we didn't get pregnant.  Some people have horrible looking embryos, yet are able to have a baby.  As of now, it's strictly a waiting game.  By the mid to end of next week I'll have my blood test to see if this IVF worked and we can fulfill our dream of parenthood.  Until then, there is no way of knowing.  

Once the embryo is transferred, it must go through alot of critical changes.  Sometimes many arrest (stop growing) for no reason....from what I've read it usually it's because they have genetic abnormalities.  The embryos have to continue to divide until day 5 of life (two days after our 3 day transfer) to reach the blastocyst stage which is a critical point in development.  Once it reaches this phase (that would have been Tuesday for us), it hatches out of it's hard shell.  Sometimes embryos don't have enough energy to do so, so it dies.  We payed extra for assisted hatching.  Prior to transfer, the embryologist places a microscopic hole in the embryo to allow it to hatch with increased ease.  After it hatches, it starts to embed itself in the uterus and hopefully implants.  This process takes a few days and is where many IVFs fail.  Technology isn't advanced enough to assist with implantation or to understand reason for failure.  In an average healthy women, each month there is only a 20% chance of implantation....therefore we have about a 20% chance of this IVF working.  Not the best chances, but much better than our next to zero percent chances of getting pregnant without IVF.  To do what I can, I'm taking a progesterone hormone twice a day and am continuing with acupuncture twice a week.  We are leaking money faster than we are bringing it in at this point.  I can't face having to pay a debt off every month and be reminded of a failed procedure and an unfulfilled dream.  After this IVF, we need to throw in the least for a long long time (months to years), possibly forever as our finances don't allow for any more tries.  This year alone we paid more than $28,000 for still makes me so angry that most women get pregnant for free and just don't understand how lucky they are.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Living with infertility is such an emotional rollercoaster ride, although there are many more downs than ups.  Again, never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be the lucky ones who get to understand firsthand what this disease means.  As a therapist I can appreciate that there are so many horrible and debilitating diseases out there that I'm grateful I don't have.  I think the hardest thing, besides not being able to hold your dream in your arms, is that it's a silent disease.  If I had a limp, a cane or a walker (and trust me I'm grateful I don't), people would see my struggles in some way and could possibly begin to process my pain.  The pain of any disease goes far past the physical.  It's hard living with something that no one knows you are suffering with, and few who understand and can relate.  

When someone close to you dies, it's acknowledged by society as a loss.  There are rituals around this kind of loss:  cards or flowers are sent, people verbalize their condolences, we have funerals to try to finalize our loss and say goodbye, and usually there is never an "expected" timeframe to recover from this loss.  It's hard for people to understand how significant the loss is with infertility, likely because there was never anything tangible that you could touch or hold in your hands.  But that's exactly the point....we wanted this baby for so long, dreamed so much,  and prayed so hard for it and it never came true.  We envisioned ourselves as parents our entire lives, got married with that exact intention, and now must say goodbye to our dreams and future.  Again, I doubt that anyone with children can argue the impact they have on our lives.  Lives are forever changed with children and I will never get to experience the joy of that.  No one sends cards each failed month, no one sends flowers, there are no rituals to help me grieve my loss (albeit several people say they are sorry), I'm expected to report to work and function as if nothing ever happened, like my loss is insignificant .... and some are too scared to say anything at all.  With each loss I have, life around me goes on as normal when mine has skidded to a complete standstill.  I don't get to pull out the "loss card" when I'm having a bad day like someone who has lost someone does.  Try explaining why you're sobbing because you've just gotten your period for the umteenth time, why you breakdown at Walmart when you have to buy tampons, why a simple trip out in public when you see a pregnant woman can cause you to spiral out of control.  I rarely get to use this excuse because most people expect me to move on quickly, don't know or don't understand what's going on.  With each loss I'm still expected to "have hope".  This really irks me, makes me realize few really understand the impact this has on our lives, isolates me and frankly hurts my feelings.  How many times have I heard "don't lose hope", "you just never know", or "keep the faith"?  SOOOO many.  While I don't want to seem overly pessimistic, it can be true but likely not the case for every infertile couple.  But these comments, while I know aren't meant to hurt my feelings, don't bring me our baby.  Please understand that I've heard them the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that,and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that, and......are you getting the idea?  Again while a small part of that could be true, the reality is that it's likely not and sometimes these seem like broken promises no one can deliver to us.  We are expected to wait and pine over something that may never happen, while remaining happy and living our lives to the fullest.  That seems like an oxymoron.  While I'm not giving up quite yet I still can't live in the land where everything is guaranteed to work out....because I know all too well it may never.  While I don't want to give up on us and want people to help us understand there could be a small glimmer of hope, I also need people to be real with me and to sit with my discomfort instead of trying to wipe it away and "fix" it.  It seems like a tall order.  I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't hopeful, but nothing is guaranteed.  

To put it into perspective how I feel sometimes, it's like someone who just gets told that they have no other options.  There is no more chemo that will work, no more surgeries that can correct their problem or save them.  We've been told that there are no other options for us.  IVF IS our last chance to have a biological child and we sure as heck can't afford adoption (like that will also fix my innate desire to give birth to my own).  We have hit the end of the road.  Would you say to someone who was just told that there will be no other treatments for their cancer or disease to "just have hope",  "maybe they'll be a cure next month", "it could happen", etc?  I sure hope not.  That seems pretty insensitive and trivializes things a great deal. Life threatening or not, most would say they are sorry, let the person sit with their emotions and just try to be there for them.  Yet I hear these things all the time, I hear advice, people always want to fix us.  In my eyes, as the person who has to deal with the heartbreaks each treatment, it IS the same.  I may not be physically dying but emotionally I am a great deal.  I guess that doesn't warrant the same treatment.

If we fail this next IVF, we likely have to give up our quest for parenthood.  Yeah we're emotionally exhausted, but I know we could push more.....sadly it's our paychecks and pocketbooks that are holding us back. It just doesn't seem fair.  I'm NOT ready to give up fighting, yet money dictates that I do.  With biological clocks being VERY real, it's a big deal.  I SO wish we made alot of money....but we don't.  I SO wish that people who suffocate their babies and hide them in toilet tanks (headline news last week) couldn't have them and I could.  Some people have said for us to look on the bright-side of things:  kidding or not, we'll never have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed a crying baby and be tired the next day, we'll never have to deal with screaming temper tantrums in the middle of the store, we'll never have to change diaper blowouts, have to deal with moody teenagers, or paying for college.  We'll have more of our money for ourselves.  We won't be tied down, will have freedom, we can travel.  YAY....didn't we just win the lottery on that one?  Seriously?  I'd trade all that in a millisecond.  If I win that lottery, I also don't have to deal with hearing my child say "mommy, I love you", or getting homemade cards for mother's day, I won't have to wonder how someone that looks a bit like me and a bit like Chris will look like, or being a proud parent at a soccer game, or watching my child graduate and blossom into and adult, or having someone visit me in the nursing home.  Yeah, I really won that lottery on that one.