Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Induction Into Mommyhood!

When you are pregnant everyone has advice on what you should and shouldn't do when it comes to being a parent.  Everyone has their own opinion on what it is like being a mother.  People said we're not going to get any sleep for the next year.  The baby is going to cry all the time.  He's just going to eat and poop.  G and I were overjoyed with the birth of J, our little miracle.  We had tried for so long and had so many trials and losses we didn't care how "hard" it was going to be. We didn't care that we weren't going to get any sleep.  We had been through so much we were looking forward to it. We knew that nothing would compare to our journey to get J...we could handle anything he threw at us. 

I had told G for months, "While J's inside me I have no control over what's going on and can't do anything to protect him but once he's born and in my arms all those fears and anxieties will disappear."  I was so wrong, those fears and anxieties that I had while being pregnant didn't even begin to compare to the fears I was facing once J was born.  That first night in the hospital if he moved, squeaked, cried or shuttered I was by his side.  I would constantly stare at him and make sure he was breathing.  Every little "abnormal" thing I would ask the doctor or nurse to look at him. Their response was always, "He's a baby, that's what they do."  This did little to ease my fears.  I was sure that once I could hold him that I could protect him no matter what and I realized I didn't have a clue.  All those warnings, stories and meaningful advice didn't remotely prepare us for what it's really like to enter into parenthood.  How can something so precious that I have wanted for so long be so scary?

It has taken several weeks to get into any type of routine and I use the word routine loosely because I have learned that with a newborn they make the rules and can change them up on you at any time.  I still lie awake at night listening to J breathing in his bed.  I still wake up when I hear any type of "odd" noise coming from his general area.  I also still worry whether he is getting enough or too much to eat, that he isn't sleeping more or he's sleeping too much and of course just worry because I am his mother and that's what I do.  All of those things aside, I finally feel like I can do this and J has done everything in his powers to induct me into mommyhood.  In the first 6 weeks of his life we have experienced a myriad of parental firsts.  My first week as a mom J peed on me while changing a diaper.  I had no clue what I was doing and like an idiot just cupped my hands over him and tried to block the pee from going everywhere while laughing hysterically and yelling for G. I have been spit up on more times than I can count and as a result have done more laundry for a person that is barely as big as a sack of potatoes than I have done for G and I over the last year.  But the real induction into mommyhood came a few weeks back in the middle of the night.  I was staring at the my beautiful baby while he was nursing and noticed him start to squirm a bit.  I realized he needed to poop.  I heard him begin to poop and felt it squirt out into his diaper.  Then I realized that not only was it in his diaper it was now in my hands, on my underwear, on my sheets and all over the baby.  I was literally christened as a mommy with poop.  There is no doubt that you have become a parent when you are changing your sheets, bathing you and the baby, doing a load of laundry and having to redress both of you.

Being a mother has it's trials but it is the best thing that I have ever experienced and can't wait to see what else is in store for us.  I will do my best to not be too neurotic for J's sake!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

The decision to have children is probably one of the biggest of a couples life. You have to consider when to start a family, how many children you would like, are you going to work or stay home, but nobody starts out thinking am I physically able to have children. People just assume that they will be able to conceive. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to having children. No treatment is foolproof and even if conception does occur there are no guarantees that a baby will come home with you.

If you would have told me 19 years ago that it would take us more than six years to to expand our family I would of thought you were crazy. I took sex education in 10th grade; I know that you just have to have sex to get pregnant...Right? My high school education did nothing to prepare me for the obstacles we were going to face to have a child. Nowhere in my text books did it say you might not ovulate. No teacher told me that if you don't ovulate you are at risk for uterine cancer and no video told me that sometimes infertility is just unexplained. Little did I know what my marriage was in for the day G and I first made the decision we were ready to start our family. No amount of high school health classes would prepare me for the obstacles we were about to face to have a baby.

It's hard to believe that four years ago I had uterine cancer and was looking at having a hysterectomy. I honestly didn't think I would keep my uterus let alone be able to conceive a child. It's been a long journey filled with surgeries, hormone therapy, fertility treatments and multiple losses but our dream of expanding our family has finally come true. October 28, 2013 was a day that I thought would never come. After 12 hours of labor my son J was born at 9:15pm weighing 7lbs 8oz and 20 inches long. G and I are both exhausted and overjoyed with our little miracle. He's perfect! When I look into his eyes I know that every tear was worth it!

Last year I wrote a blog about the stick figures that people have on their cars and how I coveted their little stick figure babies. I wanted so desperately to have my own family. I even had a set of UT people that G bought me when we learned I was pregnant the first time 3 years ago. After my miscarriage I put them away and forgot about them until this past week. I'm happy to say that my mission to become a mom is accomplished and my little stick figure family adorns my car!!!

Thanks so much for the support over the past year. I will be continuing my blog because I will never forget what we have been through. Infertility and pregnancy loss are a part of my life and always will be. Going forward my blog will focus on mommyhood but will continue to have posts that deal with infertility, miscarriage and cancer as well.

Monday, September 30, 2013

1095 and Counting

It's been almost four years since I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and I still remember that day all too well. It was as if I was standing in a subway station as the train flew by. I couldn't actually hear the words that Dr. R was saying I could just read her lips..."You have cancer." My head began to spin and my mind was racing with what that meant. All I could think was that I was never going to be a mother as she uttered the words, "You're going to need a hysterectomy." My world was turned upside down. G and I had been trying to have children for a year and a half and now any chance of a biological child was being ripped away from me. Now what?

Luckily I was given a referral to Dr. B, a renown gynecological oncologist, for a second opinion which turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Knowing that G and I were trying to have a baby she wanted to try and save my fertility and postponed talks of a hysterectomy while we pursued other options. On October 1, 2010, after 10 months of hormone therapy and multiple surgeries, I was told that the cancer was gone and released to the reproductive endocrinologist. We were so excited and again filled with hope of a biological child.

This journey has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. It has been filled with miles of hope, days of shaky faith, massive highs, desperate lows, heartache, loss, love and jubilation. Thanks to Dr. B and Dr. L I have defied the odds, beat cancer and am pregnant with an amazing miracle. It's been 1095 days since I was first told I was cancer free and I'm thrilled to say it's 44 days until my son's due date. I know three years seems like a long time but considering four years ago I was told I needed a hysterectomy...I'll take it. I thank God everyday for our miracle and I know my son is so much more loved because of what we have been through! Sometimes blessings come when and how you least expect it!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Is This Your First?

Over the years G and I have been asked many questions about children and our lack there of. I can remember all too well the triggers, tears and heartaches they have caused. I really thought now that I was pregnant there wouldn't be any questions that would cause those same fears or reactions, but I was wrong.

Over the last few months I finally became comfortable enough with my pregnancy and dealt with many of those past fears to begin preparing for my little squirt's arrival. At 26 weeks I gathered my nerve and we went to the baby store to start our registry. That's when I was first asked the simplest of questions that would shake me to the core. "Is this your first?" As the words came out of the clerks mouth chills shot down my spine and I felt as if I was just stabbed in the heart. Simple question, right? To someone who has never experienced a loss I am sure the question wouldn't even phase them and they would gladly respond with a resounding "YES!" However for someone with my history it froze me in my tracks and I couldn't even formulate a word. How do I respond? Is this my first pregnancy? No! Is this my second pregnancy? No! For me, no, this is not my first because I have beautiful angel babies that are being loved and nurtured in heaven. In reality, I guess you can say this is my first...at least my first keeper. Obviously the clerk had no clue what we had been through, and why would she? It's not like miscarriage survivors have a marking or a visable scar to allow the rest of the world to know their stories. This simple question, though truly harmless, was enough to send me into a tailspin of doubt and fear once again.

As my pregnancy has continued to progress and we have continued to move forward in our preparations for squirt's big day that question has been asked of us repeatedly. Each time I feel a little more pain as I answer "Yes, this is our first." Sometimes I feel as if I am hiding that part of my life. Like I am not being truthful. Does every person that rubs my belly, rings up a baby item purchase or works in my dentist office need to know every detail of this journey? Of course not! I'm not saying that we need to share all the intimate details of our trials to get this miracle. I just believe that those little angels that came before our miracle are a part of me and have given us the strength to get to our little squirt! He truly is our miracle and is so much more loved because of what we have been through!

I know that I'm not alone in my feelings. I had hesitated to even broach the subject with G until this week for fear he would think I was just being overly sensitive or hormonal. After being asked this question three times during our recent visit to the baby store I finally decided to ask G how he felt each time we were asked, "Is this your first?" To my surprise it was jolting to him as well. He said every time he's asked he flinches. I guess no one is immune to the pains of loss and even the simplest of questions can be a trigger!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Swimming The Third Leg of the Journey

It's still very surreal to say I am 30 weeks pregnant! Seriously, as I type this and see 30 weeks in print it doesn't seem real. I had mentioned in my last post how my past experiences have paralyzed me during this pregnancy. It has been very difficult to shift my mindset and allow myself to enjoy my pregnancy and prepare for the arrival of my little squirt. It has literally taken me 6 months to realize that he is very real and will be here in no time. This transformation has not come without the love and support of my friends and family. They have been very gracious in letting me deal with the transition in my own way and in my own time. In the last month we have completed all of our prenatal classes, created baby registries, scheduled my shower, ordered furniture and thanks to G and our amazing friends painted the nursery (which is more amazing than I could have ever hoped for!). I can't believe I am more than 2/3 through my pregnancy and he will be in my arms so soon!

I was recently messaging back and forth with my friend who reminded me of something she had said to me last year after my last miscarriage. "Just keep swimming!" After talking with her I went and reread the blog I had written last September to see what I was feeling at that time. It's amazing the difference a year makes and just how true that simple statement is in not just infertility but life. I remember so well those feelings of depression, yearning and feeling like I was losing hope. She made me remember why we were going through all of this and how our perseverance would pay off in the future. I can honestly say I wasn't sure how or if we would ever get to this point but I knew I just had to keep swimming. Let me tell you, we have been swimming against the current but I wouldn't change a minute of those struggles because of the miracle that is growing inside me. As I feel those little kicks and jabs I know this journey has been worth it! Just keep swimming and remember some way some how you will get there!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Paralyzed

Have you ever been too afraid to share good news with others for fear of "jinxing" the outcome? Have you ever wanted something so badly that when it's finally in your grasp you are too afraid to do anything for fear of losing it? Have you ever been paralyzed by fear?

I'm 25 weeks along in my pregnancy and this is where I am at right now. Most women in this stage of their pregnancy would be nesting, registering for baby items, decorating the nursery, having showers and preparing for babies arrival. Me...I'm in hiding thinking of all the wonderful things I want to do for the baby but too paralyzed by my past to do anything about it. Getting to this point has not been easy for G and I. With years of cancer and fertility treatments, multiple losses and a scary first trimester it's no wonder I would have these fears. In the first trimester it was just get to twelve weeks and we can relax. Didn't happen! At 13 weeks it was get to the 20 week anatomy scan and we can relax. Nope, this just brought new fears and a reality that my little gummy bear was now a human and if born at this time he couldn't survive. Talk about a whole new level of fears and anxiety. My previous losses all came in the first few weeks of pregnancy and we never heard a heartbeat. No, that doesn't make those losses any easier, but hearing a heartbeat and seeing a human body does bring a new sense of reality to the fact that you are creating a life inside of your own body. My fears of loss over the last few weeks have been so overwhelming that I had to put the breaks on any planning until 26 weeks when I knew there was a chance of survival for my little squirt.

As that next milestone approaches I'm trying to break free from these chains that are holding me captive from enjoying my pregnancy! With just a small breakdown I have finally signed us up for our birthing and parenting classes. G and I have plans to order furniture and finish the nursery over the next few weeks. And yes, we are actually going to create our baby registry next week!

I know that my fears may be difficult for some to understand, but infertility and miscarriage leave scars. Some may be superficial and fade over time, but some are deep and will always be a part of me. I don't regret or resent my past because they have made me and my marriage stronger, created relationships I never would have had and brought me closer to God. However, some parts of our past are always there to remind us of where we came from and the blessings we have. I know this because one of my blessings is kicking me in my belly button as I type this! I continue to pray for peace to make it through the next 3 months and enjoy the miracle that is growing inside me!

Thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is This The Surreal Life?

Over the last few months I feel as if I am living a surreal life.  Even though I know that I am pregnant and I have repeatedly seen proof  that there is a child growing inside me there are days that I still don't believe it.  It's as if I am standing outside of my own body and watching my dreams come to fruition for someone else.  Is it possible this is a figment of my imagination? Can this actually be real?

Three and a half years ago I was facing a cancer diagnosis and looking at the real possibility of having a hysterectomy.  I wasn't sure that I would be able to keep my uterus let alone begin fertility treatments.  I can honestly say once we started treatments my hopes weren't high that I would ever conceive and definitely not multiple times.  I never thought I would get pregnant without a team of experts involved and yet here I am still in awe of this miracle inside me.  How can  this be true?

G and I just experienced one of the most amazing milestones during my pregnancy this past week.  We had our fetal anatomy scan and got to see squirt in all of his amazing glory.  I can not tell you how, well for lack of a better word, surreal it was to see all of those little body parts, organs and yes genitalia.  That's right we found out squirt's gender and it is a BOY!  I cried tears of joy as I actually said out loud to my husband that we are having a son.  That was the first time that this began to feel REAL!  To this point I could see the ultrasounds and hear the heartbeat but it hadn't quite sunk in that I was actually growing a life inside me.  G and I have always called squirt "he" because I felt that "it" was so impersonal but hearing the doctor confirm it was a boy was an entirely new level of reality.  Reality? Is this real?

I am almost at the half way point of my pregnancy and as strange as it may sound it is just now becoming real to me.  As my belly grows and I begin to feel little flutters from squirt's movements I can't deny that this is actually happening for us.  All those mothering instincts are kicking in and I have this overwhelming desire to nest and protect my son.  Wow...when did reality kick in?

Though the journey to get to this point in my life has been far from easy it has made me more appreciative of this blessing and I am so excited to meet my little man in November!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Transitioning From RE to OB

For years I have been looking forward to the day that I would "graduate" from Dr. L and transition to an OB. It was a milestone that I wasn't sure I would ever get to experience. Now that the day has come I am finding it to be much more difficult than I ever expected.

When I first started seeing Dr. L I wasn't sure what infertility treatments would be like let alone just how difficult they would be. They are anxiety ridden, emotionally stressful as well as physically challenging. Going into treatments we were full of hope that this would bring us the family we had been dreaming of. Unfortunately there aren't guarantees that they will be successful. There are also no guarantees that there won't be heartache along the way. Our journey has been filled with a wide range of treatments and emotions.

In the two and a half years I have been with Dr. L he has seen me at my best and my absolute worst and he has been there through it all. He was there to celebrate every positive pregnancy test as well as comfort G and I through our losses. He has always been there to reassure and encourage us through these trials. He knows my history and he knows how my body operates. When I found out I was pregnant this time he was there every week reassuring me as we watched the baby grow. He was there to help me through those scares when we thought I was losing another baby. Now we've made it to the second trimester and it is time to move to my new OB.

How do you make that leap when you have become so close and dependent on him and his office? Dr. O doesn't know me. She doesn't have the support of Nurse J and Nurse K who have been there the last few years. The OB team doesn't know what we've been through? How do you go from a practice that you trust to the unknown? How do you handle the anxiety of the transition?

As we make the transition we are on pins and needles. Dr. L has already let Dr. O know that I'm crazy...better she know what she is getting in to before she meets me. I don't know how we are going to handle not having weekly appointments especially since I can't feel the baby yet. How will I know the baby is ok? I'm trying not to let the anxiety overwhelm me but I'm not going to lie, it's difficult. I just have to continue to trust that my little one is ok and remember that the OB doesn't have to see me as often. God help G, because he's going to need it when I go nuts in between those appointments.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pregnancy After Infertility and Miscarriage

More than anything in my life I want to be a mother.  It is what I have been dreaming about since I was a girl.  Obviously I never thought this would be the path that we would take to get there, but nonetheless it is my dream.  Now that I am pregnant I didn't realize just how difficult it would be coping with pregnancy.  I am not talking about the nausea, breast tenderness, mood swings or fatigue.  No, I am talking about actually struggling with accepting the fact that I am pregnant.  How can getting the one thing that I have been dreaming of for so many years  cause so much anxiety and fear?

I remember reading an article years ago about women struggling with being pregnant after suffering with infertility.  I could not believe that these women weren't happy now that they had what they wanted.  How could they be so selfish?  I would give anything to be in their situation.  Today, I eat those words!  My first trimester I had the normal pregnancy symptoms and for those I was thankful, but there were a few scares along the way too.  I have had multiple occasions where I thought I was losing my baby, again!  This sent me into a tailspin of fears, doubts, anxiety and a little depression.  I was one of those women.  I was afraid of being pregnant.

I have always said that infertility is a part of me.  It has made me and my marriage what it is today.  I guess I never realized just how deep down those feelings were embedded in me.  I knew that I had mourned our losses and learned to accept our fate when it came to growing our family  but I didn't realize how much fear I still had. Infertility has made me insecure about my pregnancy and brought about all those feelings and fears of loss again.  Every time a symptom disappears or fades I am sure it's a sign that the end is coming.  Every time I go to the bathroom I am afraid of what I will find.  Every cramp or twinge I am afraid of what it means.  Every ultrasound I wait until I hear Dr. L or G say it moved or there's its heartbeat before I can breathe a sigh of relief.  It feels as if I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop and I am anticipating the inevitable.  All I want to do is enjoy being pregnant and celebrate the miracle that is growing inside me but I am having difficulty doing that.

With some amazing love and support from G, Dr. L, Dr. M, Nurse J and Nurse K I have been able to semi-cope with the first trimester.  They have listened to my rantings, fears and provided me with weekly ultrasounds keeping me from going completely insane.  Though my fears are still very much a part of me they have subsided a little after seeing my little squirt and hearing its amazing heartbeat. I thought that entering the second trimester would do more to ease those fears but instead I now have these overwhelming feelings of needing to protect my little one on top of being scared of losing it. It's hard to believe what infertility does to us emotionally and physically.  Sometimes those scars are deeper than we know. I'd like to say those fears will go away once I am holding that baby in my arms, but I am sure they will just be replaced with new ones!

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Never Thought I Would Say This...

In the six plus years G and I have been trying to grow our family we have heard the gamut of "helpful" tips from friends and loved ones. Maybe you're just trying to hard; just relax and it will happen.  Maybe this isn't God's plan for you. Why don't you just adopt?  As soon as my friend adopted they got pregnant.  Though nine times out of ten these comments are meant to be helpful or supportive in reality they are truly hurtful.  In the infertile world they really have become a list of running jokes when it comes to conception. 

As soon as we started the process to adopt it was like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders.  All those comments actually became a little funny to us.  I can remember the first month after our last failed cycle looking at G and laughing because we had just relaxed and I still wasn't pregnant.  I even emailed back and forth with Dr. L joking about how I couldn't believe that I still wasn't pregnant when I had quit trying.  I told him I was sure that the next month it would happen.  Little did I know when I typed those words what was in store for us. God decided to give us the shock of our lives. I truly never thought that I would be saying this but, I ACCIDENTALLY GOT PREGNANT.  Yep, you read that right...I am pregnant!  While in the middle of our home study process G and I found out, to our complete and utter surprise, that we were again expecting.  The only thing we could do was laugh.

When G and I decided to stop fertility treatments and move on to adoption it was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make.  It was very difficult for me to take the leap and give up having a biological child forever knowing that I had been able to conceive in the past.  With my cancer history it is important for me to have regulated cycles to decrease the chances of a recurrence and I was not ready to have that dreaded hysterectomy.  I didn't want to completely shut the door on conceiving a biological child so as a last ditch effort I asked Dr. L for anything he could do to try and help regulate my cycles without birth control.  We decided to try Metformin knowing that it could take 3-6 months to work, if it would even work at all.  After my first month of taking the medication I had a normal cycle.  Hooray, for once in my life I felt normal.  The next month nothing.  I was now what a "fertile" would call 3 days late.  I laughed and told G that I was late, knowing that our chances of conceiving on our own were slim to none.  I had one pregnancy test left and decided to take it just to rule out the possibility.  Sure that it would be negative I peed on that stick laughing the entire time.  To my absolute shock there was a second line!  Are you kidding me?  26 months of fertility treatments, tens of thousands of dollars, and lots of loss and heartache later we are pregnant on our own!  It has not been an easy path but we are officially moving into the second trimester and our little squirt is doing great.

After months of data gathering, background checks and social worker interviews we our proud to report that we have completed our home study and are waiting on our final legal documents. This journey has taught us so much over the last several years and it has made us realize just how precious life is. G and I have always wanted a big family and feel that we could provide a loving home to any child and have decided that we still want to adopt.  We are continuing with the adoption process and will begin working with an attorney locally as opposed to going through an agency.  I guess we will have our big family after all...just not quite the path we thought we would take to fill our home.

We feel so very blessed and excited about our future!  Thanks for the love and support over the last few months and understanding our delay in sharing our news!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Join The Movement...

Last August, I made the decision to “come out” so to speak about my infertility.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done; more for fear of ridicule and judgment than anything.  Which, in reality, was unfair on my part.  How can I expect others to understand our struggles when it was a disease that they knew nothing about?  In social circles, we as a society have no issues asking for prayers, well wishes, and support when we or someone we love has been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or heart disease but we are quick to cower in silence when it comes to infertility.  It is still considered a taboo subject.  I understand the hesitance of sharing your own personal story of infertility.  I mean, it is not exactly easy to discuss the inner workings of your reproductive organs with others.

After my last miscarriage I realized just how much my silence about my disease was causing stress, feelings of isolation and building walls between me and those I loved.  I needed support.  I needed people to understand what it was like to lose a child.  I needed people to understand what it is like desperately wanting a child for years and your body not cooperating.  I needed people to understand why I was withdrawing from the world.  Most of all I needed people to understand that infertility is a DISEASE not just an inconvenience!

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex (six months if over 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.  It affects 7.3 million people or one in eight couples in the United States alone. (National Survey of Family Growth, CDC 2002)  Infertility does not discriminate and affects women and men equally.  Approximately 1/3 of infertility is attributed to the female partner, 1/3 to the male partner and 1/3 is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or is unexplained.  (www.asrm.org)  Diagnosis is not always easy for those suffering from infertility.  It can involve invasive testing of both the male and female partners before an actual diagnosis can be made and for some there is no answer, just the dreaded unexplained.  Treatment for infertility is a whole other story.  It can be a very long road and can end at an agonizing dead end.  With very few states having laws requiring insurance coverage for infertility treatment it can also be a very costly road as well.

G and I have been trying to have children for about five years now.  We finally decided to seek the help of my GYN after a year of trying on our own with no success.  After a lot of testing and exploratory surgery I was diagnosed with stage one uterine cancer.  I had an amazing Oncologist who was willing to try and save my fertility.  After ten months of hormone therapy and two surgeries I was cancer free.  Once I was cleared of the endometrial cancer my diagnosis was a simple one…I am anovulatory.  Over the last two and a half years we have gone through the gamut of infertility treatments.  We have done oral medications, injectables, IUIs, IVF and FET.  None of which resulted in me carrying a pregnancy to term.  All of which taking its toll on us physically, emotionally and financially.  Our journey to grow our family has not been an easy one and has been made more difficult by lack of awareness and support of others about this disease.  After months of heartache and loss we realized (better late than never) that we needed to seek the professional help of a psychologist who specializes in infertility.  Dr. M has been a fantastic resource in helping us cope with my disease, mourn our losses and help us make the move towards adoption.

April 21st – 27th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  I encourage you to take the time to read about infertility and get the facts about this growing disease.  Learn how you can share your journey or support friends and loved ones in theirs.  Below are some helpful links to get you on your way to learning about Infertility.

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Home Study 101

I know that it has been a while since I have written, but life has been really hectic for us and full of fun and exciting things that we hope to share soon.  I promise I have not been ignoring your messages of encouragement and requests for status updates; I just haven't been in a place where I was able to get the words and feelings out of my head.  To answer your questions about what is involved in the adoption process and where are we in our own journey, here is a quick update. I know it is a little late, but hey, better late than never!

First, let me say that I can totally understand where the hesitation of adoption comes from.  G and I knew going into the process that it would be a lot of work, but we had no clue what exactly it entailed.  After we met with our social worker and got the list of requirements for the home study, I think it was a huge shock for us both.  I am a detail person and great with lists so the checklist was no big deal to me.  We need birth certificates, marriage license, taxes, financial worksheets, FBI/CPS/DMV checks, physicals, proof of employment, etc; no problem. G on the other hand saw it as a mountain of paperwork and began to feel overwhelmed.  I was good on data gathering, my freak out didn't occur until I got to the autobiography and essay questions.  As I began to read through the application questions I began to feel sick.  How do you plan to support your child if they have different religious beliefs?  How do you plan to discipline your child?  What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  How do you and your husband resolve conflict?  What is your experience with infertility? Question after question and page after page, I was terrified of giving the wrong answer as well as having to relive some parts of my life I wanted to leave in the past.  It's funny to me how couples are so different.  G was overwhelmed by the list and I was overwhelmed by the questions.  I guess we are a good pair and were able to take some of the pressure off the other.

So where are we now?  We have gathered and completed all the paperwork (including medical records on our cat), ordered our background checks, childproofed our house and yes even completed our autobiographies and essay questions.  We had our final session with our social worker this past Friday.  Now we are waiting for our social worker to review our references and complete the actual write-up of the home study.  We hope to have the approved home study within the next two weeks.

Adoption is an amazing way to grow a family, but it is not something to be taken lightly.  I encourage you to do research, talk with a therapist and other couples that have adopted for support in making the decision.  When/if the time comes don't let the home study overwhelm you.  Remember, you can take it at your own pace and move as slowly or quickly as you like.

I know I have been MIA lately, but I will try as much as I can to keep you up-to-date as things progress with us bringing home our baby!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Empty Womb, Aching Heart!


I have mentioned in a previous post about the stick figures on the back of people’s car windows and how I look at them longingly, as cheesy as they are.  This past weekend G and I were driving on the interstate and came up on a vehicle that had five little figures.  We just looked at each other and let it pass without speaking a word.  As we continued the drive home I could feel the emotions welling up inside me.  My heart was breaking and my mind was swimming with jealousy.  Why do they get five when I have been begging for years for one?

It has been two months since our last unsuccessful cycle.   Once we made our decision to move on to adoption I have felt completely at peace with our choice.  I have had three positive pregnancy tests while on this journey and not once did I ever feel like one of those babies would come home with me.  The adoption process has finally made me believe that one day I truly will be a mother.  So why did the stick figure family cause those old feelings to come back up?  Why was I experiencing feelings of joy and excitement, while at the same time feelings of jealousy and sadness?  It was as if I was 95% complete, but there was this one small place in my heart that was still empty. 

I have had feelings of emptiness many times while on our infertility journey but these feelings were different.  I was feeling so conflicted, both happy and sad at the same time.  I was feeling the joy and excitement of planning for the adopted child that is surely coming our way as well as the sadness of my empty womb.   The sadness I was feeling was not the usual sadness I felt because of my infertility.  No, it was because of the last miscarriage.  I suddenly realized that the due date for my last miscarriage is in a few weeks.  All the pain that G and I went through after that loss was back.  My womb is empty and my heart is aching.  It’s hard to believe that it has been seven months since our last loss.  If you would have asked me last July if I ever thought I would survive that miscarriage I would have said without a doubt, “NO!”

G and I did survive and have once again made it through one of the hardest times in our lives.  Am I happy that we have suffered so much pain and loss? Of course not, but I am thankful for what these struggles have done for me.  They have made me stronger, more compassionate, and more loving.  Most of all, they helped me to know that I can love any child unconditionally.  I had to go through all those procedures, all those injections, all those failed cycles and all those losses to be able to move on.  We had to know that we did everything we could for a biological family before we could move forward with adoption.   Dr. L gave me the peace that I needed to make that decision.

So as I sit here tonight thinking about those little angels I lost, I am thankful they opened my heart to the child that will soon be joining our family! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Does it Mean to Be Brave?

Over the last several years on numerous occasions I have been told that I was brave. I was talking with a friend this week and she again used the word brave to describe me. She said that I continued to show courage and bravery while on my journey through cancer, infertility, miscarriage and now adoption. It got me thinking about what it means to be brave. The dictionary defines brave as possessing or displaying courage. Based on that definition I don’t think I would classify myself as brave. I have never jumped in front of a car to save a child crossing the street. I have never taken a bullet defending our country. I have never run into a burning building to save a family stranded inside. And I have never fought off brain eating zombies. No, I am not brave.

I don’t see my struggles as bravery. They are just part of my life and something that we have to deal with. I can’t say that we really had a choice on which path we could take to have our child and we were definitely not thrown down the easy one. Nope, in fact, we have been lost in the woods trying to find a path to the highway fending off wolves while foraging to find a way to survive this infertile hell. Yes, I have had more injections than a drug addict. Yes, I have had more uterine scans than any woman should in her lifetime. Yes, I have enough blood sucked out of my body to feed an entire pack of vampires. Yes, I have lost more pregnancies than I care to think about. Does that make me brave? I don’t think so.

So why do I continue down these paths knowing that there will be pain and heartache? Why do I allow myself to feel things that no one should? I trudge on because it is the only way for my dreams to become reality. It is out of our own personal necessity to have a child that we as infertiles continue down the rocky path.  It is what we hope is at the end of our journey that keeps us going.  I do believe that it takes hope, faith and great strength to stand in the storm.  We just have to remember that if there were no rain then there would be no rainbows. I know that the end of my rainbow is going to be amazing!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Learning to Wait!

So much of my journey to having a family has been filled with waiting. For years I endured fertility treatments and the waiting that comes with them. I waited for biopsies.  I waited until a certain day in my cycle to start the next round of treatments.  I waited for follicles to grow.  I waited for trigger shots to work. I waited for egg retrievals and fertilization reports.  I waited to see if my embryos survived the thaw.  I waited anxiously for two weeks every month to see if I was pregnant.  I waited for blood test results.  I waited to hear the news that I was pregnant. I waited for my hormones to normalize after my miscarriages so I could try again. I stopped fertility treatments and yet here I am again...waiting.

I am so excited about our adoption and yet I am struggling with letting go of the past.  Now that we are adopting, my infertility and all those feelings did not miraculously disappear.  Infertility is still a part of who I am.  It's so strange to have so many mixed feelings.  I don't miss the stress, the anxiety, the fears or the sadness that come with fertility treatments.  In fact, that has been the best part of our changing directions.  However, I am finding that the waiting is still ever present.  Now we are waiting to complete the home study.  Once that is done we will begin the wait for our application to be processed and on the approval by the adoption agency.  Then comes the worst wait of all; being picked by the birth parents.

Patience is not a skill that I have been able to master.  I am definitely a "get it done now" type of girl; if it can be fixed, fix it.  I can tell you without a doubt that my infertility has taught me that I have no control over time or the outcome when it comes to my having a family.  If you would have asked me 18 years ago what my life would look like today, this would have never been on my radar.  I never thought I would be waiting so long to have my first child.  I never thought I would have to wait for someone else to choose me to be the mother of my child. 

What's the saying, "The best things in life are worth waiting for"?  I know that my child is definitely worth the wait, but if he/she could hurry up into our lives, mommy would appreciate it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All I Need to Know I Learned From Infertility

I think it is safe to say that I have learned a lot of life lessons while trying to have a baby.  Many of them I learned while going through fertility treatments.  I thought I would share my top 10 favorites.  Enjoy!

1. Don’t ever watch “I didn’t know I was pregnant” or “Teen Mom”…that shit will just piss you off!

2. Don’t ever change your hair color, try on swim suits or shop for any appliance that can be used as a weapon while taking hormone injections…TRUST ME!

3. It’s OK to have sex just for the fun of it and not because your doctor told you to.

4. You never have to apologize for your urges to punch someone that has just offered you some “helpful” advice. As long as you don’t act on it you’re good!

5. It’s not a bad idea to buy stock in the makers of Gonal-F and Follistim because there are more infertiles out there than you know.

6. You can never watch too much “Big Bang Theory” when you are in an infertile funk. I have yet to be blindsided by the surprise pregnancy while watching this show!

7. Don’t ever trust the internet when it comes to telling you if you are pregnant or not. Believe me it lies!

8. It is always OK to have some mysterious & vague illness right before you are supposed to attend yet another baby shower!  I cannot tell you how many times I felt deathly ill only to recover in time to meet friends for dinner that night.  Weird, huh?

9. There is nothing wrong with hiding all friends on Facebook that are pregnant, have kids, or just annoy the crap out of you. It may end up that your news feed only includes your husband…unless he is one of the ones that just annoys the crap out of you!

10. Don’t believe the rumors out there that say having sex leads to pregnancy! That is the biggest myth of all!  Had I known that earlier I could have saved A LOT of money on birth control over the years!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Behind Closed Doors

Over the last few weeks G and I have worked on getting some long overdue tasks done around the house in preparation for our home study.  I guess you could say that I am really getting into the "nesting" mode.   The cleaning or "nesting" got me thinking about the baby that will soon be part of our lives and those maternal instincts that have started to kick in.  It's funny because, even though I am not pregnant I still have so many of those feelings that come with hearing the news that you are going to be a parent.  No matter how the baby comes into your lives those emotions are at the forefront of your mind.

Since my first pregnancy (really since the day we told my mom we were trying to get pregnant) I have had a hope chest with things for the baby.  As the years passed without a little one joining our family, the chest has really turned into 3 storage bins and several large items lying around the unused nursery.  Friends and loved ones have been so amazing with giving us trinkets and hand-me-downs.  So this past Friday I decided it was time to tackle the room that I have been avoiding for so long.

It has been a year and a half since the tree fell on our house from hurricane Irene.  The tree demolished the room that was going to be the nursery and it had to be completely redone.  We decided to take advantage of having a professional painter and stepped out on faith to have the room painted like an actual nursery.  As hard as it was we carefully chose a beautiful tranquil color for the room that our baby was sure to occupy very soon.  After we moved back into the house it became very difficult for me to look at that empty space every day.  It was beautiful, but it was a constant reminder that I was still not pregnant.  For over a year now that room has been closed off to avoid the emotional breakdowns that came with me seeing it.  Out of sight out of mind so to speak.

As I opened the door and took in the room the biggest smile began to creep on to my face.  I looked around and could just imagine the completed room.  Since my first positive pregnancy test years ago I had this idea of what I wanted the nursery to look like.  I could see the rolling hills on the walls with the clouds on the ceiling.  For the first time in a very long time I felt as if this was real. My baby was going to be lying in its crib in that very room sometime in the near future.  It was an amazing feeling.  I was able to sort through the items and decide what was going and what was staying.  It felt so cathartic.  That is until I got to the breast pump...commence breakdown!

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  There are so many things that I am really OK with not experiencing through having a biological child.  Having been pregnant a few times and struggling with nausea in general I am just fine with not having morning sickness.  I am OK with not having stretch marks, hemorrhoids, back and leg pain, extreme fatigue and honestly never having to worry if I am going to have a miscarriage again.  I am not going to lie, I can't say that I am going to miss the pain of giving birth.  G and I have talked many times about the pros of my not carrying our child and I truly am OK with it.  So what caused me to tailspin into the tears and sadness?

Seeing the breast pump I began to think about all the things that I wanted to experience with my own pregnancy.  I will never be able to breast feed my baby and have that bonding that comes with nursing.  I will never feel my baby moving in my body which is something I imagined with every pregnancy. G will never get to feel the baby kick while rubbing my stomach.  I will never have an ultrasound photo of our child.  I won't be able to see the baby grow while inside me.

I sat there for a while letting the tears stream down my face as I sort of mourned the thoughts of carrying my biological child and then it dawned on me.  Yes, I will miss a few things from not giving birth myself, but G and I will have a lifetime of firsts that only we will get to experience.  The first time I get to rock my baby while feeding him/her will make all those feelings of missing out melt away.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adoption is Not a Consolation Prize!

I am not going to lie, as a child and into the early part of my marriage when I thought of children they were biologically related; that is until my cancer diagnosis. It was at that moment that we first began to think that our children might not be biologically linked after all. That was the first time that we really started to consider growing our family in other ways. We have always been open to the idea of adoption and actually researched and explored it several times during our infertility struggles. However, after three positive pregnancy tests it became more difficult to consider other resources while we knew I could get pregnant. Over the last couple of years we exhausted all options when it came to having a biological child which has led us to the next journey in expanding our family.

G and I were at a large gathering this past weekend and shared with several people that we were starting the adoption process. I was a little taken aback by the response. Not so much the words that were said because I truly believe that they were happy for us, it was more the tone and body language. It was very reminiscent of the responses we received after our miscarriages. Heads titled, voices with that sorrowful sound, hand holding and back rubbing as we were told that they were happy we were moving on. It was as if our having a biological child was the true victory and our adopting was a consolation prize.

G has always told me that I had more love to give than any person he has ever met. He says that my ability to befriend, nurture and love others is why he believes that I will be an amazing mother. He’s right about my desire to love and nurture; it is so great that I have to be a mother. (I don’t know so much about the amazing mother part, but let’s go with that.) Whether our child is biologically linked or not it will always know just how loved it is no matter how it comes into our family! Adoption is not my consolation prize it is merely the path that we are taking to share our hearts and love with OUR CHILD!  I truly can not wait to meet him or her!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Does the "Why" Matter?


The last several days I have been talking with some friends who were going through IVF cycles (some for the first time and some for their 2nd and 3rd).  During my conversations with them over the course of their two week waits, I began to recognize so many familiar emotions.  Their waits began with all the excitement, hope and anticipation that come with being PUPO (Pregnant until proven otherwise). As the days ticked down I saw those emotions begin to shift into anxiety and sadness; sure that the cycle had failed.  As the official test day arrived, they began to dread their BETAs (blood pregnancy test) for fear of receiving confirmation of that failure.  Of the four couples going through IVF only one of them got that news that they had been praying for; only one had a positive BETA.    

Having been the recipient of both the positive and negative calls from my RE I could empathize with all of them.  I know the elation and joy of hearing the voice on the other end of the phone telling me I was pregnant.  I also know the anger, sadness and disappointment of hearing that same voice telling me that the cycle was unsuccessful.  There are so many questions that come with failed cycles.  Why did this cycle fail? Why didn’t the embryos stick? Why would God allow this to keep happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?  What is wrong with me?  We begin to try and reconcile the reasons for our infertility and miscarriages.  We want answers.  The problem for so many is that there are no answers. Often there are no medical reasons for cycles being unsuccessful or losses.

I spent the last several years of my life asking “why?” I wanted reasons for my pain and losses.  I spent many a night crying in G’s arms asking “why?”   Sometimes I think it was more difficult for me not having a reason for my infertility.  It played havoc with my emotions and caused me to continuously question my self-worth.  I had allowed my infertility to define me.  I began to believe that because I could not carry a baby to term that I was worthless.  We as humans want to know there are reasons or purposes for our trials.  We want to know that our suffering isn’t for nothing.

After talking with my friend and hearing those same “whys?” come out of her mouth I began to reflect on my own journey.  Now that we have changed our direction how do I feel about my infertility?  Do I still need to know why?  I realized that after five years in infertility/cancer “hell” I finally don’t need to know why.  I began to understand what G was trying to explain to me all these years.  “You will never know the “why” of your trials but one day you will have peace and acceptance.”  Though I still have moments where I struggle with acceptance I feel more at peace now than I have at any time during my infertility journey.  I know that G is right.  The first time I hold my newborn baby the “whys?” will no longer matter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Heart for Adoption; Mind of an Infertile

Since G and I have made the decision to move to adoption my heart has been filled once again with hope, anticipation and feelings of peace.  However the last couple of nights the mind of an infertile has come back full force.  We as infertiles loathe all those "helpful" comments we get when someone learns about our infertility.  We are quick to be offended, quip back or just break down in tears from the comments.  The funny thing is that since making the decision to move to adoption, I am the one that keeps saying (or thinking) them.

It's been a month since our last failed cycle and I find myself falling back into the wishful thinking of an infertile.  I can hear those comments echoing loudly in my head!  "Why don't you just adopt and you will get pregnant."  "My sister got pregnant as soon as she stopped trying!"  "If you just relax you will get pregnant."  I really thought by changing paths those feelings would disappear (or at least I had hoped).  It took a lot of counseling and battles within my own mind to get to the point where I was ready to make the leap to adoption.  I believe with all my heart that it is the right thing for G & I.  Most days I am at total peace.  Lately, amongst those restless nights I have actually found myself hoping that now I am adopting my body would miraculously decide that it wanted to work correctly on it's own and G and I would "accidentally" get pregnant.  I know the likelihood that I will ever conceive on my own are next to nothing, but I still found myself hoping just a little bit. 

All those feelings really got me thinking about the mind of an infertile.  Will I always feel like an infertile?  Will I always have that inkling of hope deep down that I will miraculously have a biological child too?  Will I always have those insecurities that come with being infertile?  I guess infertility is a part of me and it has helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am so thankful for this journey, as hard as it has been, I am better for it.  I have to believe that those infertile feelings will fade the first time I hold my baby and that moment can not come quick enough!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Welcome Helping Hands!

Through out our journey G and I have always maintained that we did not want to go into debt trying to have our family.  We were very blessed to be able to go through two plus years of fertility treatments and never have to use credit cards or take on a loan.  There were numerous times we were financially tapped and had no clue where the money for the next cycle was going to come from.  Then out of the blue rebates, refunds, friends, family and even my amazing nurse J would appear and offer us exactly what we needed at that moment.  It has been a very emotional and humbling experience for me. 

I was raised by a single mother and learned to be very independent and self-sufficient.  I guess you can say it is a trait that G not only loves but despises about me. He says I would give the shirt off my back and the last dollar in my wallet to help someone in need but refuse to ask or accept help from others.  He's right...I've never been one to ask for help; especially if I think I can do it on my own.  When I was diagnosed with cancer I withdrew from the world. I didn't want to admit that I was sick and needed support, not even from G.  After the cancer was gone and we were starting fertility treatments I didn't want to admit I needed Dr. L's help and was very hesitant to move on to more advanced treatments.  I was adamant that I was not going to do IUIs let alone IVF; that was just too much assistance (now I just laugh about everything we've done). After my last miscarriage I didn't want to admit that I needed Dr. M’s help to get through that loss; all of our losses.  My entire fertility journey has been filled with me not wanting to ask for help so why would my adoption one be any different?

Since we made the announcement of our plans to adopt my email and phone have been filled with messages of support and questions of how people can help.  G and I are just in awe of the kindness.  I have been struggling with the idea of help and the feeling that allowing others to contribute made me a burden.  After a conversation with a dear friend, in which she politely put me in my place, I realized that I was taking away the ability for others to choose whether or not they want to help.  If I did not allow them the chance then I was denying them the ability to choose.  So it is with a very humble heart that we are opening up our adoption journey to allow others to offer their support. 

We have created a couple of ways for people to contribute.  If you feel moved to help, check out the How Can I Help? page of our blog for more information!  Thanks again for all the kindness and support you have shown G and I!.