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!.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Is Being a Mother More Important than Being Pregnant?

Often there are medical reasons that cause a doctor to recommend an end to fertility treatments, forcing a couple to explore other options for growing their family.  At the same time there are many couples who must wrestle with making those decisions without that medical recommendation.  It doesn’t matter if you have done 4 cycles of the same treatment or 24 cycles of various treatments, when you fail to successfully bring a baby home questions begin to flood your mind.  How much money are we willing to spend trying to have a biological child?  How many heartbreaking failures can you and your partner endure?  Are you emotionally strong enough to continue with treatments knowing that you may never have a successful pregnancy?  You begin to wonder when enough is enough.

I always thought Dr. L would be my beacon when it came to saying it was time to stop.  I thought he would be the one telling us it was time to explore those other options.  I however, fall into the category of no medical reason to stop and no medical reason for my miscarriages.  So the decision falls to me to decide; can we handle more treatments emotionally and financially or is it time to move on.  This journey can be filled with tons of regret, "what ifs" and "should haves".  We constantly question if we don’t do one more cycle would that have been the one that would have given us our miracle.  It's very easy to "one more try" yourself to death if you are not careful.  I have continued treatments far longer than I ever thought possible in an effort to avoid the regret, grief, pain and loss of not reaching that end goal of carrying a child to term. 

It has been a while since our last failed cycle and G and I have been battling with the decision to continue fertility treatments or move to adoption.  We have found ourselves at the crossroad of facts and emotions and it is a difficult place to be and the decision has not been made lightly!  After a lot of internal struggle I realized that the choice really comes down to one question… Is being a mother more important than being pregnant?  I had to ponder this question for a while and my answer is a resounding YES!  My desire to be a mother far outweighs my desire to be pregnant.  So as I type this, today G and I are beyond excited to announce that we are officially moving on to adoption.  We are beginning the home study process and researching the best agency for us.  There are so many new fears when it comes to this journey, but we continue to have faith that all our needs will be met as we take this leap! 

We have not given up, but have chosen to redefine our original dreams and embrace the future with hope for that little one that is coming our way!  We ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we work to bring OUR BABY home!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Phases of Infertility

Since we have been doing fertility treatments for so long I am able to see and reflect on all the phases of infertility and the emotions that come with trying to conceive.  Let me take you through a quick overview of what this journey has been like.  I tell you this is the worst rollercoaster ride I have ever been on…hmm, I wonder if I can get my money back? 

Before G and I ever started trying to conceive my response to starting my period was something like this, “Ugh, my period is here...again!”  As we were getting ready to begin fertility treatments it became, “Hooray, my period is here now we can start injections.”  After months of unsuccessful tries it turned into, “Son of a bitch, my period is here…let’s get this show on the road so we can start the next round.”  After years of trying to conceive without successfully carrying a baby to term led to “My period is here, I’m not pregnant and I’m never going to be a mother" while crying hysterically.  Each failed cycle since the last miscarriage has turned into days of lying in bed crying at commercials, movies and TV shows with any mention of children, pregnancy, mothers, abortions, miscarriages, etc.

It’s amazing to me how infertility can take you from a light-hearted care free attitude to an emotionally bankrupt person.  My smiles come far less often than they once did and those triggers can take them away much more quickly than they came.  I think it’s difficult for others to understand the toll that infertility and miscarriage takes on a person.  Every month that a cycle is unsuccessful it causes the grieving process to happen once again; reopening those wounds that have barely started to heal from the previous try.  Every period is a reminder to the woman that she is not a mother.

It takes great strength and support to survive infertility and I am thankful to have an amazing support system by my side!  I know that I will always have a scar from this journey, but I look forward to the day that I can hold my baby and the pain fades away.  I will never forget this journey and how far I have come!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It’s Not You, It’s Me!

We often hear the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me” when it comes to relationships and breakups.  For one person in the relationship it is finality; an end to incompatibility, a situation or problem.  For the other (the one being broken up with) it can be a heartbreaking event with no real answers as to why.  Funny thing is that phrase also holds true with infertility. 

In a heated discussion with G about our decision to continue with fertility treatments or move to adoption I actually used the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me!”  As quickly as the words came out of my mouth I wanted them back in.  I hated that I said it because it felt well, cliché and I knew that it was going to be hurtful too.  I was trying to explain to him how I felt and why it is so difficult for me to make this decision.  He couldn’t understand the fears and guilt I was having about possibly changing paths.  I have long since felt responsible for our infertility journey.  I am the one that had cancer, I am the one that does not ovulate on my own and I am the one whose body can not seem to carry a child to term.  I felt as if my body’s failures were sending us in this direction forcing us to choose.  So in my mind the statement was true…It is me!

The decision to move to adoption or not is a truly difficult one.  There are so many factors and emotions to consider before you can take that leap.  It’s not a switch that can just be flipped and ta-da you’re ready to adopt.  For me the emotions are in hyper-overdrive.  First I struggle with the fact that I can get pregnant.  I have been able to conceive three times but have never been able to bring a baby home.  Therein lies the second issue…no baby carried to term.  I wonder if I would be on the fence with my decision had I never gotten pregnant.  Would I have just accepted the fact that I could never get pregnant?  Would I have just assumed the cancer had done more damage than the doctors thought?  Sadly these are questions that I will never have the answer to and now the decision is up to me.  Once again, it's me!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Not From Russia with Love

I can’t believe it but this is my 100th post.  I guess I am even more surprised that you people are still reading my questionably sane ramblings.  I am truly thankful for the love and support you have shown to G and I over the last several months.  They definitely have not been the easiest but writing has helped ease the pain.  I guess that brings about the question of what in the world am I going to write about to commemorate number 100?  Then it came to me!

G & I are currently exploring our options for growing our family and have seriously been discussing the possibility of moving to adoption.  We have started sharing that possibility with people as we struggle to make the decision.  The response and support has been amazing from everyone…well almost everyone.  I really never thought about the stupidity of people’s comments spilling over from infertility into adoption, but there they were. 

After talking about our struggle with making the leap a friend recommended a book about adoption.  While we were out one day we decided to quickly run into the bookstore and order the book.  I’m not real sure why I didn’t learn my lesson before while trying to find a book on infertility at Barnes & Noble a few months back, but apparently I didn’t.  I went to the information desk and asked the associate if she could order the book, “The Adoption Decision.”  Her response to me was “Not from Russia you won’t.”  Uhm, are you kidding me?  Did that really just come out of her mouth?  I turned to look at G, whose mouth was on the ground, to confirm that she did indeed just say that.  I was floored!  Why would you say anything like that to someone when you have no clue what their situation is?  Really is it ever appropriate to say something like that?

Had that been my only questionable comment I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it, but no, that was not the only negative response.  While talking about the obstacles and my fears with adoption I was told, “I heard it’s really hard to adopt a white baby and you will have to wait a very long time.”  Once again I was floored and not real sure how to respond.  First of all, if I am blessed to be a mother I have no concerns about the color of my baby’s skin as long as it is healthy.  Second of all, you have no clue where we are going to adopt from, so race may not be a factor period.  Lastly…IT IS NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS WHAT COLOR MY BABY IS!!!  Unless you plan on funding my adoption keep your comments to yourself.

If I am really lucky maybe while I am trying to make this decision I will get the comments, “God has a plan” or “My sister adopted and then got pregnant”.   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Might be an Infertile If… Round 3

10.  You could have bought a second home with the money you spent on fertility treatments.

9.  You have had to cancel plans with friends because it was a non-negotiated, doctor instructed sex

8.  You can have an entire conversation about Infertility on Twitter solely using acronyms.

7.  You have ever peed on an ovulation predictor stick and used it to determine if your spouse was      
     going to get lucky or not!

6.  Your life is now measured in 2 week waits.

5.  You’ve had more "one on one" time with your doctors than your friends in the last year.

4.  You’ve had to explain why you are taking prenatal vitamins even though you aren’t pregnant.

3.  You and the pharmacy clerk are now on a first name basis and have talked about getting drinks.

2.  You talk to your friends about cycling and it has nothing to do with a bike or a gym class.

1.   You have an honorary medical degree from WebMD for all your research on infertility!

Check out Round 1 of You Might be an Infertile If...  and if you want even more check out Round 2 of You Might be an Infertile If...

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

G is a very inward person when it comes to his emotions.  I am always asking him, “What are you afraid of?”  It’s one of the few times that I can get him to tell me what he is thinking.  However, I guess I have never really thought about my own responses to that question.  I know that I have some canned answers that a lot of people are afraid of…poisonous spiders, snakes and slight phobias to heights and confined spaces.  But I guess the real question is what am I really afraid of?   What are those fears that I would not normally say out loud?

1. Loss – Don’t get me wrong I don’t like losing when it comes to playing games and I can't stand it when the Vols lose, but that is not what I am talking about.  I’m talking about actual loss.  Some of the most painful times in my life have come with saying goodbye.  A large part of my adult years have been filled with loss.  G and I have lost all of our grandparents, multiple pregnancies, friendships and have had to say goodbye more times than I care to admit.

2. Making the wrong decision – I have always been a person that worries that I am doing something wrong.  I’m afraid of making the wrong decisions constantly and not only affecting my life but G’s with those choices.  I struggle with questioning my decisions over and over again.  I am so afraid of making the wrong choice in this journey and causing more pain and heartache.

3. Disappointing others – I hate disappointment.  Not just my own disappointments, but disappointing others. I spend so much of my time worrying about others and their feelings that I tend to stress myself more than necessary.  I am so afraid of disappointing G, my family, my doctor and my friends with my decisions when it comes to this journey.   I fear that they will be disappointed in me if I’m not able to have a biological child.

4. Being Childless – This is my greatest fear of all. I have an irrational fear of never being a mother.  It constantly eats away at me and causes so much stress in my life.  I fear that I will never experience that unconditional love between a mother and child. I fear a life that never involves changing dirty diapers, onesies, cleaning bottles, first day of school, gymnastics recitals, softball practices, birthday parties, graduations, weddings…the list could go on and on.  If we do end up stopping fertility treatments then I have fears that a birth mother will never choose me, leaving me childless once again.

Though many of these fears may seem irrational to some, they are very real to me.  I believe that many people on this journey struggle with similar feelings and fears.  Infertility is a difficult process and can muster a multitude of emotions.  We do our best to bury those feelings and cope with the day to day, but there is no way to make them permanently disappear.  I do the best I can and some days are better than others.  I continue to have hope that those fears will fade the first time I hold my baby in my arms!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Infertile Decisions

I know it has been a while since I have written but honestly I just haven’t had the strength to put words on paper (or computer).  G & I were a little more guarded and didn’t share with people that we were in the middle of the two week wait when I took a blogging break for the holidays.  We were so positive about this try and honestly we were expecting to be able to make the announcement I was pregnant very soon. Everything about this try seemed perfect.  To my complete and utter shock we found out on Christmas day, once again, that I was not pregnant.  My heart has been crushed with this try being unsuccessful and it is leading us to make some very hard decisions in our lives with regards to growing our family.

When I learned over two years ago that my cancer was gone and I was not going to have a hysterectomy I was overjoyed.  I was sure that I was healed to have a biological child.  When I got pregnant on my second try of fertility treatments I was even more positive that our baby was going to be biologically linked to G & I.  Though my hope has waivered at times I have continued to have faith that it would happen if I just gave it time.  Well here we are 27 months later two miscarriages, one chemical pregnancy, umpteen failed cycles, anemic bank account and still no baby.  So where does that leave us?  Honestly…I don’t know!

With the New Year it is common practice to leave the past behind and look to the future but with infertility that is far easier said than done!  As I sit here typing, with tears streaming down my face, I am forced to think about our future while factoring in the past.  The past procedures, pains and losses have made me who I am today; they have made my marriage what it is today.  For that, I am truly grateful but they are not just in the past, they are things I deal with on a daily basis.  They are things that continue to cause heartache and pain in my present.  My past plays a large part in the decisions that have to be made…how much more can we endure?

We have three choices when it comes to our family.  G & I have discussed at length our options and the pros and cons of each decision.  We can continue to endure fertility treatments hoping and praying that one will finally work and lead to a successful birth.  We can take the leap and move towards adopting and all the obstacles that come with that decision.  We can make the decision to live a child-free life.  For us there are truly only two decisions; continue with fertility treatments or adoption.  We have no desire to live the rest of our lives without children.  I want to be a mother more than anything but I am not getting any younger and we have to factor age into the mix as well.  How do we make this decision?  What if we make the wrong decision?  I wish I had a crystal ball and could see the future to know which path to take.  

I have so many fears with each decision, some that are irrational I know, but they are very real to me!  If we continue with fertility treatments we are accepting the pain of each failed cycle.  We are subjecting ourselves to the possibility of another loss.  We are committing all excess funds to treatments.  We are delaying the chance of adopting indefinitely.  These are all things we have accepted in the past and felt the reward far outweighed the risk.  Now I’m not so sure.  If we choose not to proceed with more treatments then I feel as if I am quitting, that I am a failure and I am admitting defeat.  I feel like I would be letting down Dr. L, our parents and most of all G.  The pain is so great at times I just don’t know that I can put myself through it any longer.

Adoption, well that’s an entirely different choice that has its own set of fears and trials.  Adopting means we are accepting our child will never be biologically linked to us.  It means that we will have to raise another $35,000+ to be able to grow our family.  It means that we are committing once again to an indefinite timeframe of when our child will join our family.  It means tons of paperwork, background checks, physicals, meetings and lawyers.  Besides the minutia involved with the adoption process I have fears of not being chosen by a birth mother, the birth mother changing her mind or the baby not bonding with me.  I know that these are all things that I can deal with I mean good grief, if I can beat cancer, survive infertility and miscarriage surely I can get through adoption too with a little help from Dr. M, Dr. L & G.

So many decisions involved with an infertile life.  I just don’t know why growing our family can’t be easier.  We appreciate all the thoughts, prayers and support we can get we while make these decisions.  We will have a baby; I’m just not sure which path it will take to get here!