Monday, December 24, 2012

This time of year has always been one of my favorites.  It’s a time for family, friends, celebration and reflection.  I have allowed the last several years of loss and heartache to prevent me from making happy memories.  I know that it can be difficult to enjoy the holidays when you are suffering with infertility, but I encourage you to not let a temporary situation steal your joy! 

I am going to take this week off to relax and enjoy spending time with G and our friends.  I am going to try and focus on all the many blessings that I do have because I know that there are many!  Our struggles with infertility and the memories of our miscarriages will still be there in the New Year, but that is a problem for another day.  Enjoy your holidays and I will catch up with you next week!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

18 Years and Counting!

It's a few days early, but since I don't post on weekends I wanted to make sure I got this one out!

18 years ago I was getting ready to walk down the aisle to marry the love of my life.  The entire bridal party was lined up on the stairs waiting to make their entrance.  I could hear the music playing and I remember sitting in my chair rocking back and forth wondering just what in the hell I had gotten myself into.  I was young, stupid, scared and in love.  I wondered what the future would hold for us.  What kind of apartment would we live in?  Would we make friends quickly when we got to our new duty station?  What would our children look like?  As I made my way up the stairs and saw that smile on G’s face I knew that no matter what the future held I was going to be with a man who loved me more than I could ever imagine.  In that moment it didn’t matter what was coming our way because we were together and together we could get through anything.

Our “fairytale” began on December 22, 1994 and I use the word “fairytale” loosely.  Our marriage has had its fair share of trials and heartaches and to be honest there were times that I was sure we weren’t going to make it.  G has always had hope and faith when it came to our marriage surviving.  It took a lot of hard work, dedication and prayer to get us to a healthy relationship.  We have been able to persevere through everything that has come our way and infertility is no different. 

G has continued to have hope even when mine was failing.  He has never lost faith when it comes to us becoming parents which makes this anniversary a little bitter sweet.  I can’t believe that another year has come and gone without us having a baby or at least be expecting one.  This year has been especially hard for me because there were two times that we thought our time had come only to have it quickly and painfully taken away.  G is my rock, my strength and my motivation.  Marrying him is the best thing that I have ever done in my life! I thank God every day for allowing us to find each other at an early age and giving us the strength to survive our battles.  Like everything else in our life we will survive infertility…together! 

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life and thanks for all the “betters” you have given me in our marriage!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's in a Feeling?

Miriam-Webster defines feeling as easily moved emotionally; deeply felt; expressing emotion or sensitivity. I am a woman so I am naturally emotional, but throw in infertility and there is no telling what you will get.  My infertility has caused feelings of fear, sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, joy, determination, perseverance and maybe a little neurosis.

We all have feelings but it’s how we express them that varies from person to person.  G tends to bury them deep down where they can’t be seen by the world.  He’s definitely been known to be an ostrich and bury his head in the sand when it comes to dealing with his emotions.  I on the other hand, have never been very good at hiding my feelings and tend to wear them on my sleeve.  As much as I would love to hide my feelings from the world at times its not a skill I have been able to master.  I guess you can say I have been emotional since birth.

G has long since said I was an empath and have the ability to empathize with anyone no matter the circumstance.  I can feel the pain, sorrow, joy and excitement of others.  This ability is both a blessing and a curse.  While on this journey I have had my fair share of trials, losses and a myriad of emotions to accompany them.  To my surprise, because of those feelings and afflictions I have been able to offer support to others suffering infertility or miscarriage. The draw back to that is I begin to take on their emotions myself and end up feeling their pain as well as reliving my own…Talk about overload!

I don’t regret my trials because they have helped shape me into the person I am today.  They’ve made me stronger, more compassionate and more determined.  I know that because of those trials and the feelings they have conjured in me that I have the ability to make it to the end of this journey and I will become a mother!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You Might be an Infertile If… Round 2

10.  Your husband has ever threatened to wrap you in bubble wrap during the two week wait.

9.  You worry that your doctor will find out just how crazy you really are and can't blame the hormones!

8.  You’ve ever thought of taking Mucinex or cough syrup to try and get pregnant.

7.  When asked what the date was you mistakenly gave them the date of your next BETA.

6.  You have actually looked forward to getting a shot in the ass because you know it could help
      you get pregnant.

5.  You have “splurged” by drinking a caffeinated Diet Coke.

4.  You haven’t used birth control in over 5 years and are hoping to accidentally get pregnant.

3.  Having multiple people in the room while trying to get pregnant is no longer considered weird.

2.  For once in your life you are thankful you have a fat roll because it makes fertility injections a

1.   You have actually had a conversation with your husband about the best way for you to get
      pregnant and it didn’t include actually having sex.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pregnancy, Newborns and the Infertility Clinic

I was recently talking with some friends and this seems to be a common issue with those going through infertility.  Not all infertility clinics are stand alone clinics and there are often triggers for infertiles while visiting their RE.  I am not a stranger to the situation myself!!!

Dr. L is housed in the “Women’s Center” at the clinic I go to.  So what does that really mean?  Well it means that not only is the waiting room filled with women who are trying to conceive, it is filled with pregnant women, toddlers and babies as well.  Going to your normal OB/GYN it’s really kind of expected that you would be surrounded by women who are pregnant and possibly have children with them.  However, bringing a baby to an Infertility clinic is like bringing donuts to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting! It really is just cruel and unusual punishment.

There are few things in the world that are more gut-wrenching for an infertile than hearing a baby cry, especially while waiting to see your fertility doctor.  For the most part I have been able to handle seeing those women and hearing those babies fairly well, with a few exceptions…after each one of my miscarriages.  Hearing those cries were reminders of my now empty womb and those maternal longings would tear up in my eyes as I watched the new mother calming her infant.

I have no ill feelings towards those who have children.  I never want anyone who desires children to experience the heartache of what G and I have.  However, when those of us trying desperately to conceive are forced to endure the cooing and gurgling of a healthy newborn it really does feel like torture and at times resembles envy!  Sometimes if it wasn’t for my deep desire to conceive my own baby and my total trust in Dr. L I think I would give all of this crap up just to not feel the pain any more!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time and the Infertile

We have been on this journey for almost 5 years now.  As I type that, it is really hard to believe that it has been that long.  It really feels like one big blur now.  I used to keep up with how many cycles we’ve done and whether they were medication only, IUIs or IVF.  Now I honestly don’t think I can tell you how many times we have tried assisted reproductive technology (ART).  I was talking to Dr. L and couldn’t remember what # try we were on since the miscarriage.  I guess that is both good and bad. 

The good is that I am no longer focused on how long it has been or what we have been through.  I am no longer measuring my time in reference to the last miscarriage.  Don’t misunderstand, that miscarriage is nowhere near forgotten it just doesn’t serve as a reference point for time any longer.  Time just seems to be passing.  The bad is that the time is passing and I have nothing to show for it.  I have no successful pregnancies and I can’t tell you anything significant that we have done in that time.  It just appears to be one massive cycle of fertility treatments with no definitive separation.

G and I have often said that there are points on this journey where you become numb.  Numb to the fears, numb to the time and numb to the procedures.  They just become a part of your life and at times it feels as if you are just going through the motions. This is a difficult valley to be in and it is far harder to climb out of.  You have to make the conscious effort to pull yourself out of that pit of despair and bring back the excitement of each try otherwise you will bury yourself in self pity and sadness.  We have been in that pit several times over the last 5 years but with each other and a little help from Dr. L and Dr. M have been able to pull ourselves out and continue the journey.

Infertility treatments are not for the faint of heart.  They are emotional, depressing, stressful and at times very painful.  An outsider truly has no understanding of the strength it takes to survive infertility.  I know that we will survive infertility and come out with a victory!!!  I can't wait to share that little miracle!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm Sure I Heard You Wrong!

Over the past several months I have had the privilege of getting to know some amazing women who are struggling with infertility as well.  We share Tweets, emails and encouragement to help with the daily struggles involved with this journey.  During these conversations I have come across several things that have been said to them at some point during their infertility trials that were truly hurtful.  So after a few months of our first installment of things not to say to someone experiencing infertility here is the next addition.

     Toddlers are such picky eaters.  You’re lucky your dog is your baby – Don’t get me wrong I have had pets for many years and I love them dearly, but in absolutely no way is that a substitute for a HUMAN BABY!!!  Being able to easily dump some food in a bowl to feed my cat does not take away the pain of not having a child.  I don’t wake up in the morning relieved because I don’t have the stresses involved with feeding a picky toddler.  Believe me, anyone who is struggling with infertility knows the difference between a pet and an actual baby and does not believe for a moment that is an acceptable substitute!  Don’t mistake the fact that someone has pets instead of children as them being interchangeable!

Think of all the things you can afford since you don’t have kids – I am here to tell you that not every couple who is “child free” is buying expensive toys and gallivanting off on luxurious vacations.  The reality is that many of them are living pay check to pay check like the rest of the world.  People who don’t struggle with infertility don’t understand the expense involved with creating a family through assisted reproductive technology (ART) or adoption.  Those on this journey are likely putting every penny they have into trying to expand their family and I can attest that it is not cheap!!

Is your wife/husband OK with you not wanting kids? – First of all, making the assumption that someone is child free by choice is the first mistake.  Though there are many people in the world that truly don’t wish to have children and make the conscious decision to live child free, this is not the case for many couples.  For those who are child free not by choice, there is likely a lot of pain associated with the situation.  Insensitive comments don’t help with the work they have put into just being able to cope. 

You’re in your 30’s now; when are you guys going to get started? – First let me start by saying you are 100% in none of your damn business land!  There are many circumstances as to why a woman is not pregnant.  Maybe she just got married and they would like some “alone” time before starting a family.  Maybe she has had cancer and no longer has the parts required to have children.  Maybe they suffer from male factor infertility.  Maybe they just truly do not want children.  Regardless of the reason, this question is not of any concern to anybody but the couple involved.  I assure you that for anyone who wants children and has extenuating factors as to why they don’t or can’t have children, this question can be extremely hurtful.

At least you have time to watch a movie or read a book. – Yes, I would much rather be sitting on my couch reading a book or have the ability to watch an entire movie without a baby crying than to have a baby.  Thanks so much for putting that in to perspective for me.  I feel so much better knowing that I can have a life of leisure because of my infertility!  Infertiles want nothing more than to experience the hustle and bustle of being a parent and would trade going to the theater in a heartbeat to hold that baby in their arms.

You’ll understand what I am going through when you are a mom – Ouch!  That is definitely a painful one.  I can say that this may be one of the most painful quotes that I have heard.  It’s a stabbing reminder that I am once again not a mother but I also am not able to understand about children because I don’t have them.  Yes, I may not be able to grasp all aspects of raising children, but it does not make me incapable of understanding their needs either.  Your exasperation with your child’s behavior, your fatigue from being up all night with a sick child, or the sheer frustration you have with their busy schedules is something that as an infertile I long for.  I want the blessing of looking at that little rug rat and wanting to pull my hair out because of something she did.  I want to have all the good and bad that come with being a parent.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Might be an Infertile if…

I was flipping through the channels the other day and came across an old comedy show with Jeff Foxworthy.  He has always been someone who can make me laugh.  His country twang, his delivery, his content; he just makes me laugh!  Maybe it’s those deep rooted redneck genes in me that can relate to his “You might be a redneck if…” bits.  Whatever the reason it really got me thinking about my struggles with infertility and how it could totally be a comedic set.  So for today’s enjoyment here is the first installment of  You might be an infertile if…

10.   You have ever seen your female reproductive organs on 32” Plasma screen.

9.     You can’t remember the last doctor’s appointment where you got to keep your pants on.

8.     You have Tweeted about where you are in your menstrual cycle. 

7.     You have ever had someone else shoot you up in a public place and it was perfectly legal. 

6.     You have spent more money on fertility treatments in the last two years than you have on all
        your vacations combined.

5.     You are baffled by the fact that people actually manage to get pregnant on their own.

4.     Instead of butter in your refrigerator door you have fertility medications and needles.

3.     Your infertility medical records are thicker than the last Harry Potter book.

2.     You’re at the doctor’s office so much you have your own monogrammed sheets.

1.     Getting pregnant doesn’t technically involve you having sex. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hope after Loss

As the New Year approaches, the pain of losing our first pregnancy two years ago is beginning to creep back into my mind.  We had just told our family and some very close friends that we were pregnant and had celebrated with them on New Year’s Eve only to be painfully awoken the next day to losing the baby.  I guess not enough time has passed to quite ease that pain or maybe it is the fact that we have had multiple losses since then but whatever the reason it is still at the forefront of my mind today.

For several weeks after that first loss my life was a living hell.  Tears would stream down my face as I stood in the shower washing my stomach thinking of my empty womb.  I would sit in the bathroom floor sobbing as my husband stroked my hair trying desperately to ease my pain.  I would cry out in my sleep with nightmares of that loss over and over.  I couldn’t bring myself to go to work let alone face the world.  My life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.  How could something so small, something I had never met, something that I could never hold have such a strong grip on my heart?  It was genetically made up of me and the man I loved…It was part of me.  I was already in love. 

Why would I want to relive this pain now?  Why would I want to share my heartache with the world?  One word…HOPE.  Because of that very first pregnancy I have hope.  That little miracle, albeit short lived, allowed us and my medical team to see that I have the ability to get pregnant.  It allowed me to believe that my body was not totally broken and I could indeed have that biological child that we have been longing for.  That pregnancy, and the two that followed, have given me the extra hope that I needed to believe that miracles do happen. Yes I have not been able to carry that baby to term as of yet, but I do believe that my day is coming.  I trust Dr. L with all of my heart and I know that if we don’t try there is NO chance that we will have that biological baby! 

We just have to continue to have hope, faith and pray for that little miracle!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Surviving the Holidays

The holidays can be hard enough without having the added stress of infertility or reliving a loss.   Christmas 2010, we were over the moon and were announcing our 1st pregnancy to our family.  New Year’s Day 2011, I was in the ER suffering a painful miscarriage.  It was one of the most humiliating and painful experiences of my life.  Sometimes it’s difficult to disassociate the bad with the holiday itself.  I have to work extra hard to remember why we celebrate and find ways to cope.  So, here are a few tips for surviving the holidays and finding some joy:

  1. Just say NO!  - There’s no doubt that December is a jam packed time of year and that list of parties and to-dos is growing by the minute.  It’s OK to say NO and only accept the invites to the parties and get-togethers that you know will be enjoyable and less stressful for you.  I tend to avoid the large parties where there are lots of guests that I don’t know.  It prevents me from having to field that dreaded, “Do you have kids?” question.  I encourage you to get out of the house and attend some of the small gatherings with friends where you can just relax and celebrate!
  2. Spread some Christmas cheer – It’s easy to get caught up in your own pity party around the holidays, but it’s important to remember the blessings you do have.  Try giving back to others during this time of year.  Adopt an Angel from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  G and I do this every year.  It gives us the chance to bless a child even though it is not ours.  Volunteer to serve dinners at a local food shelter.  Adopt a family and provide them with all the fixings for a holiday dinner.  Bringing others joy helps to put things into perspective and you can’t help but be happy when you see those smiles!
  3. Create new traditions with your spouse – Take this opportunity before you have those little miracles to start some new traditions with your spouse.  Build a gingerbread village with all sorts of fun candy.  Have a special fondue meal at home on Christmas Eve with all your holiday favorite goodies for dipping.  Take a tacky light tour or visit the lights at the botanical garden.  Make homemade waffles with all the toppings for Christmas morning.  Watch movies in your PJs all day Christmas day.  All of these are things that you can expand on when you have your kids. 
  4. Music, Music, Music! – Listen to those Christmas songs.  Make a play list of some of your favorite Christmas songs that make you happy and listen to it anytime you need a lift.  I know it’s a little corny and old fashioned but my all time favorite Christmas album is the Carpenters Christmas.  It has some of the best memories from my childhood and baking with my Nana so it always puts me in a good mood!
  5. Pamper Yourself –  Get a massage, facial, manicure or my personal favorite a pedicure!  Buy something that you would not normally do for yourself.  Take time to read that book you’ve been meaning to get to.  Spend the entire day lying in bed watching your favorite Christmas movies.  No, these won’t miraculously make all those sad feelings disappear, but taking some time for yourself can help you through them.
I think that we as women and infertiles tend to put added stress on ourselves and try to live up to the expectations of others.  The worst stress comes from our own expectations of what we think we “have to be”.  Allow yourself to let go of that perfection and what you think you need to be for others.  Do what is best for you and your partner!   Don’t let the blues of infertility or loss prevent you from the joys of the season!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

OK I am really pulling out my geek flag on this one, G will be so proud.  Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today and for some odd reason this quote came into my head and I just couldn’t forget it.  I haven’t seen Galaxy Quest in years so I’m not sure where it came from, but after thinking about it for a while and repeating it over and over in my head I realized that it is very pertinent to my fertility journey.  Never give up! Never surrender!

I decided to look up the word surrender in the dictionary.  It means:  to give over or resign oneself to something; to give up or abandon.  Ha, that is so perfect when it comes to my infertility.  Since my last miscarriage I think I had resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to be a mother, at least not biologically.  I was giving in to my fears and abandoning my hope.  So in essence I had already surrendered even though I was going through the motions of the fertility treatments.  There was a number of tries to do before moving on to the inevitable.

I didn’t actually know that's what I was doing until last night when I was crying on G’s shoulder.  He helped me realize I was putting up my protective barriers and giving up.  I was accepting my defeat and waving my white flag.  I had this “set” amount of time that I had placed on my trying to conceive journey and was trying to protect my heart from more pain.  If I controlled the limits and drew the line in the sand of when we were done then it would prevent the heartache of being forced to stop.  I was my own stumbling block.  I was telling Dr. L when we were done instead of letting him guide me.  I was putting limits on what God could do.

So after that realization I have renewed hope for where this journey is going.  I will continue to listen to my wonderful husband, Dr. L, Dr. M, my pastor and of course God when it comes to this journey.  I will allow them to better guide my decisions.  God help me, I am putting down my protective shield and allowing this journey to take me wherever I need to go!  I guess it’s a little ironic…I’m not surrendering to my infertility I am surrendering to God!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No Man Left Behind

I am sure that at some time in your life you have heard the phrase, no man left behind.  It is commonly used in the military to describe solidarity; you go into battle together and you come out together. OK, so why am I bringing this up today and how does it relate to infertility?

We as females are so heavily involved with our infertility that we tend to forget that we have a partner who is in this same battle.  It’s our bodies that are being poked and prodded.  It is our bodies that are physically changing.  It is our bodies that are having hormonal overload.  God forbid, it is our body that is not able to function correctly.  We become so self-involved that we often leave our partners out in the cold to suffer in silence.  We are constantly leaving a “man” behind.

I know that several times on this journey I have left G behind.  I have let my emotions run away and take over my every waking minute to the point that I forgot I was not alone in this fight.  I was not the only one afraid of my cancer diagnosis.  I was not the only one who was afraid before every surgery.  I was not the only one losing hope after each failed cycle.  I was not the one who couldn’t sleep at night when I did get pregnant for fear of losing another baby.  I was not the only one suffering and depressed after each miscarriage.

I can remember the look on G’s face and the hurt in his eyes when I selfishly believed I was all alone on this journey and let him know it.  I told him that he had no clue what I was going through.  It was not his body being injected with hormones and it was not his body failing so he could not possibly relate to what I was experiencing.  Yes, I was right…he could not relate to what I was feeling physically, but he more than understood what I was feeling emotionally.  I had been dismissing his feelings and forgetting all the pain and suffering he was experiencing too.  I forgot that he has many more things he has had to deal with outside of the infertility.  He has had to watch me suffer through surgery after surgery, numerous biopsies and painful miscarriages knowing that there was nothing he could do to comfort me.  His love for me is so great that he was enduring the pain of being helpless. 

So I encourage you to think about your partner and remember that you are on this journey together.  You make the decisions as a couple, you suffer as a couple and you will be victorious as a couple.  Take a moment to remember why you want children with this person and don’t ever leave a man behind!

Monday, December 3, 2012

For Better or For Worse

For better or worse…those are the vows said at many a wedding.  I am sure when you say these words and picture the worse, infertility never crosses your mind.  I’m here to tell you that infertility would definitely be in the “worse” category.  Even the strongest of relationships can start to come unglued when infertility drags on.  It is all encompassing and begins to become the topic of every conversation.  Your daily routines begin to revolve around doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, injections, inseminations, egg retrievals, transfers and pregnancy tests.  Not to mention the toll it takes on your bank account.  We all know that finances have long been a stressor in marriages, throw in infertility and you’re just asking for problems.

Infertility is more than just the inability to have a child. For some women it defines who they are. It causes anxiety, depression and wreaks havoc on your self-worth.  It can end marriages, friendships, and family relationships.  The fear of isolation, judgment and emotional wreckage often cause couples to suffer in silence.  In a time where couples need support the most, societal discrimination prevents them from reaching out. Despite the increasing numbers of those affected by infertility it still remains a taboo subject.  The topic can quickly bring a conversation to a halt and empty a room in no time.  According to the American Fertility Association and the CDC 6.1 million women and 4.7 million men require some sort of medical help to create a family.  To bring it a little closer to home, if you and your spouse were out to dinner with 8 other couples, one of those couples would struggle with infertility.  1 in 8 couples…that’s insane!

Having just learned that I am once again not pregnant "for better or worse" is echoing loudly in my head.  G and I have surely experienced our fair share of the "worse" over the last few years.  Each time I thought this is the worst thing that has ever happened to us something else comes along causing deeper wounds than the previous.  Every failed cycle reopens those wounds and allows them to fester again.  These are the times that G shows the "better".  He reminds me over and over again just how much I am loved and that we are on this journey together.  As I lay there crying in his lap over my negative cycle he strokes my hair, reassures me that I will have my baby one day soon and reminds me that "better" far outweighs the "worse"!