2016

First and foremost, I want to take a moment to wish all my fellow bloggers and readers a happy, healthy, and blessed 2016. You all are such a huge part of my life and I couldnt imagine it without you! 

Some of you reading this are probably in the same boat as me–ready for 2015 to be behind you, for a new leaf to be turned over, praying that 2016 will be your miracle year.  Or you might be thinking that you felt this way last year, and the year before that too.  I get it.  

Some of you may have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or family member this year. Others might have finally brought their miracles into the world this year, or welcomed a second or third.  

Some of you may have finally gotten your BFP this year, or maybe just another BFN yet again and again.  Some are thrilled for the BFP, others scared to death because of their past losses.  Some wonder if they will ever conceive still. 

You may have gone through IUI’s and/or IVF’s this year, or recently embarked on the TTC journey and are praying you dont have to go that route.  Maybe you are just patiently waiting to fall pregnant each month, maybe you are saving every penny you own for medical help, or perhaps you are eagerly expecting your due date as we speak.  

Maybe you are a struggling new mom lacking sleep and wondering what you got yourself into. The PPD and juggling act is real. 

Perhaps you are sick from the child within you, or sick from all your injections. Maybe both. Maybe you are excited for an ultrasound to see the beautiful life inside you, or dreading hearing that appointment to confirm your worst fears are true.  

Maybe you are anxiously awaiting a placement from an adoption agency, or foster home as we speak.  Or you might be investigating surrogacy, egg donors, or embryo adoption. Maybe you are pondering having a child free life with your partner. Or maybe you really have no clue what you even want from all this anymore and are on a break. Its okay, I get it.  

No two journeys are the same.  But wherever you are in it, I pray you feel some peace moving into this new year. *Try* to be thankful for what you do have and live every day to the fullest, even though things might not be exactly what you want right now.  

Sending you my best (and of course, lots of baby dust) for 2016! 

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Left Behind 

Today, I feel left behind. It’s a grave feeling, one that tugs deep down at my soul.  It’s a quiet pain, watching the days and months turn into years, passing by with an empty womb and empty arms, making for an empty heart.  Watching everyone enjoy their growing families.  At times like this, I briefly feel bitterness and anger, but not nearly as much as I used to.  When I feel left behind like this now, I am consumed by hurt more than any other emotion.

Yes, I have triggers that make me feel awful, and for the most part, I try to avoid them. Usually this involves people complaining about their kids or pregnancies, making jokes about getting pregnant, or acting like I do not understand their kid problems because I am not a mom in their eyes (“just wait, you will see”).

But there are also things that I choose not to avoid anymore, like FB pregnancy announcements, bump updates, and newborn photo shoots. I used to run from these, now I try my best to find joy for those people.  After all, these are happy things.  Dont get me wrong, some days it is still too much to bear.

Overall, I think I have learned to make the most of the cards I have been dealt and so, the majority of the time I try to believe this is just a shitty chapter of our love story.  But when I am brutally honest with myself, I know that being childless might not be just a chapter; it might be how this story ends.  Before you tell me not to give up, that no one can stop me from being a mother, hear me out.  Let me whine and listen to what I want, please.

Part of me wishes I could turn back time, which I just told my husband the other night.  If I could, I dont know if I would have ever done IVF. Seriously. I dont care how strong it has made me/us. My husband & I were so incredibly naive. We truly thought it was the ultimate fix.  We believed wholeheartedly we had a simple issue (male factor), and we would succeed the first time.  Never in our worst nightmare did we imagine that two years and over 30,000 later we would be sitting here with nothing to show except broken hearts and dreams. Oh, and wallets, but honestly money is the last concern if you have gone through what we have…FACT.

Anyways, 5 lost babies and now we are being faced with the news that I may never be able to carry our child.  That appointment is just 2 days away from now; something we never fathomed. We are so deep in the IVF trenches it is almost like there is no turning back.  I know some of you ladies here me on this.

I dont regret carrying our babies for the time that I did, but at times I do regret jumping full force into something I really didnt fully understand. I wish so badly that IVF would have been the answer for us, the answer every infertile couple is so desperately searching for.  Maybe it still could be, but not without a lifetime of scars along with it.

Over the years, I have watched each and every one of my close friends grow their family.  Keep in mind that none of these close friends had any kids back at our wedding, when we began our TTC journey. In fact, only 1 of my close friends you that you will read about below was married before my husband and I were.  The rest got married after us and have since easily lapped us many times over.  

My maid of honor, has just given birth to her second child, who was due just weeks before our last would have come into the world a month ago.

Another bridesmaid is delivering her 3rd child tomorrow, who would have also been just weeks apart from the birth of our last child a month ago.

My friend who read at our wedding ceremony just delivered her first born, just a few months before our last child would have been born.

Yes, all 3 of these friends above were pregnant and due within 2 months of when I should have been with our last.  In high school, us 4 were the best of friends.  The 3 of them carried to full term together, but I didn’t make it.

A different one of my bridesmaids underwent IVF and successfully conceived and gave birth to healthy twins after their first fresh transfer.

A close friend of mine for the past 18 years adopted twin boys and completed her desire for a family.

Another friend underwent medicated cycles at home through our same RE, conceived, and gave birth to her son, just a few months before our 3rd would have entered the world last month.

A friend has just had her second child, due weeks apart from when our 2nd would have come, naming him Noah, a name we both loved.

A close friend of my husbands who was a groomsman in our wedding gave birth to his son the day our son was scheduled to be here last month.

Am I happy for all of my dear friends? Absolutely.  It has nothing to do with that.  Remember the title of this post, please.  

Even here, in the blogging world, I am seeing so many ladies graduate on.  Again, I am so pleased for them (because of course that is the point!!), but at the same time, I am sad because I wonder if I will still talk with them as much.  I have seen a lot of bloggers disappear once they finally become pregnant. I pray not to loose that support.  

I think you get the point by now, if not here it is….I feel left behind today.  I want my baby.  Our baby.  I want to get pregnant at home with my husband. I want some of the normalcy all around me to rub off on us! 

I wish IVF would have worked on the first try, or even the 2nd or 3rd try.  I want to erase all my losses away. Why did I have to fall pregnant each time, only to suffer a loss??? It is one of the cruelest feelings one could ever know, to have joy ripped out from inside of you.  

And now, after all this, to be told that being pregnant all those times was basically a tease, that it may never happen again, is the icing on the cake… I don’t want a gestational carrier, I don’t want another surgery, or 10th opinion, I don’t want to adopt, keep putting our lives on hold, or spend thousands of more dollars…I just want it to be easy for me, just for once! Imagine being pregnant so many times but never experiencing it completely.  Like I said, a tease. Empty arms.  

If you are reading this and have not experienced infertility, or infertility coupled with recurrent loss, or loss in general, I pray you never do. Cherish every moment of your pregnancy and your children. I still remember the last time I felt pregnant, before I knew it was all over, and it is something I will never forget. If you are reading this and it is the opposite, and you are like me, my heart goes out to you.  

I want a miracle…to wake up from this nightmare that NO ONE should have to go through…to get pregnant, and carry a healthy child to full term without having a nervous breakdown during those 40 weeks. I want to catch up and experience some of the joy taking place all around me.  Is that too much to ask??? Guess so.  

I am My Own Worst Enemy-Part 3

Today, I left session 3 of therapy with a lot to think about.  If you have been following along with my sessions, you may recall that I said I wanted to keep track of what I “took” from each one.  Let’s break this reflection up into 2 pieces–the “us” and the “me.”

The “Us”

Some questions Dr. G asked us to think about and share at my next visit:

  • Why do I want to be a mother? 
  • Why does my husband want to be a father? 
  • Are our reasons the same or different?
  • If I cannot carry our child to term, are there any other routes we are okay with taking to get to parenthood or to not get to parenthood for that matter? For example, a child-free life (talked a lot about this one), adoption, gestational surrogacy, sperm donor, etc.
  • Are our (acceptable) paths to parenthood the same? If not, is there a compromise we can come to? How? 

I quickly asked Dr. G if she thinks there is a right or wrong answer to these questions.  She reassured me that any answer is totally acceptable (which I was glad to hear), and that the purpose of the questions is to know where we are going with all of this.  Knowing what extremes we are both willing to or not willing to go through in our quest to parenthood will provide a sense of security and comfort as we move forward.  I completely agreed when she explained this to me, and as I type this, it makes even more sense to me now, and I couldn’t agree more.

In the past, when I was miscarrying, I never knew what we were going to do after it was over.  Of course, I was grieving the babies I lost, but looking back, I was also grieving our future and the uncertainty of it.  I can still remember the exact spots I sat and cried in as I wondered what we would do next.  

While I know that infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss take away a lot of control and planning, trust me I do, I also know that our future path to parenthood is something we can control.  You heard me right…we can control it!

We can choose to be child free now, after another loss, and/or after our embryos are gone.

We can choose to use a gestational surrogate now so I am not subjected to the possible physical and mental anguish of another loss, or when/if another miscarriage occurs. 

We can purse adoption if we both feel it would satisfy our desires of parenthood.

Like Dr. G reinforced, when it boils down to it, we have not really drawn our lines in the sand.  Revisiting why want to be parents, and how we can we satisfy this desire if the current path we are on does not work is important.  And sooner rather than later.  Dr. G pleaded with me not to wait until something traumatic happens for us to make those tough decisions.  Her reasoning was simple-during a crisis we will not be in the frame of mind we are now.  Again, I agree with this.  Pretty basic thing, but hearing from an outsider can put it into perspective.

The “Me” 

Dr. G started off the session with me telling her how my week went.  I told her it was pretty uneventful, with the exception of Saturday of course.  Saturday was the day I went to the lab and had my blood drawn and dropped off my urine sample. At the lab, I encountered the very pregnant woman, a newborn and 2 sets of grandparents that I blogged about.  What I didn’t blog about was what came later on that day.  We went to 2 birthday parties, one for a 3 year old and one for a 12 year old. At both parties, there were pregnant women and newborns, forget all the kids running a muck.  At one point, my husband and I were trapped in a room listening to a pregnant couple discuss their nursery theme.  Talk about a day from HELL!

Aside from that bizarre day, I told Dr. G I haven’t really been my usual IF self the past week.  What I mean by this is, I haven’t been as consumed by it all.  I haven’t been thinking or talking about it as much.  To be honest, I haven’t even felt like blogging about it all as much, which is really strange.  She told me that I *may* be learning to compartmentalize through our sessions together.  Dr. G said some patients do this, and some don’t, and that “compartmentalizing” looks very different for each person. I might be starting to put some things aside that I normally wouldn’t have, because I know I will be able to discuss them with her during our hour session each week. Sounds like it could very well be the case, at least I’d like to think so anyways!

In addition to how my week went, we discussed the memorial “box” that we had talked about a week ago. At the end of our last session, she asked me to consider a few things about the box, such as why I felt the urge to hurry up and finish it once I started it, and what it would be like if I didn’t.  I did think this over and I came to the conclusion of what not finishing the box could mean to me.  It could represent that my babies are still here with me, and I can visit the box and work on it whenever I have the desire to spend time with them. 

As you can see, lots to ponder.  As always, thanks for the support, friends!

Progress Made

I guess you could say I sort of have my own pregnancy loss recovery “program” going on.  Over the past 5 months, I have slowly been making progress in my recovery efforts, but this week I feel I took a big step.

Months 1-2

The beginning of my recovery program included coming to terms with the fact I was no longer physically pregnant.  This was a brutal, harsh reality, and I thank God everyday that I was able to take a medical leave from work for a month.  It consisted of going from no periods for 3 months, to constant, continual bleeding & cramping, forcing myself to shower daily, trying to buy new clothes and dispose of maternity ones, adjusting my eating, exercising, & medicinal habits, getting accustomed to my new sleep patterns, & so much more.

You go from a baby bump to nothing to show for the bump but extra pounds.

You go from eating like a pig to eating just to survive.

You go from sleeping any chance you get because your baby is growing inside of you, to only sleeping when you self-medicate yourself. 

I also attended grief counseling during this time as part of my recovery.  This helped me understand that the physical anguish I was experiencing was quite normal and common considering what we went through. 

Next, came announcing to the world our infertility, IVF, and RPL secret (aka getting rid of the monkey we had been carrying around on our backs for years).  Lets face it, infertility treatments and recurrent pregnancy loss can become really challenging to hide after a while. Instead of announcing a baby to the world, we were now announcing how many we had lost. This included coming out of the closet with our families, friends, co-workers, social media, etc.  We began to realize we weren’t alone, as many people started coming out of the woodwork with their stories, too.  This part of my recovery program was actually quite soothing because the support we received was overwhelmingly positive.  Phone calls, texts, cards, presents, the works.

Months 3-4

These months centered mainly around 2 things–restoring my relationship with God, and making some decisions about our future. The big guy and I had a lot of sorting out to do.  I can’t lie and say I wasn’t utterly angry and disappointed with Him, because I was.  I was also confused & devastated that He allowed this to happen again.  I had went from talking to Him everyday, to seriously questioning my faith after loss 3.  In fact, I don’t think I ever doubted it so much in my entire life. When my mom or husband would bring Him up, I would tell them to be quiet.  I would tell them He doesn’t hear my prayers obviously anyways, and that His plan must be for me to never be a mother.  I yelled at Him and reminded Him that only He had the power to save our babies and He chose not to. 

Through each cycle and each pregnancy, we not only prayed and spent time with Him everyday, we also gave Him all the glory for those BFP’s. We even told our doctors it was Him who got us pregnant. Why then would He allow this to occur again? Well, I can’t answer that, and thankfully, I no longer have the desire to answer it. I do know there is a reason, but I can’t say I will ever understand it or know it.  And that is OK; I don’t need to understand everything.  I do know that I wouldn’t be sitting here typing right now had we still been pregnant.  I wouldn’t be advocating for this cause.  It took some time, and it’s still a work in progress, but I am so happy to say that my faith has been restored.  I know that He understood why I felt the way I did when we lost our babies and He keeps no record of my wrongs.

  
During this time, we also tried to figure out what went wrong with our pregnancy the best we could so we could prevent it from happening again in the future if possible.  I underwent numerous procedures, operations, blood tests, and doctor appointments.  We were able to eliminate many things off our list that could be causing our issue. We spent time praying and discussing our future options for creating our family-adoption, gestational surrogacy, another FET, a child free life.  We started researching getting second opinions from other RE’s and chose to finally go get one.  We made the decision that I needed to take some time away from my career, and hence, I put in my resignation.  I began to find other things that I enjoy and take pride in doing that do not revolve around us having a baby.  As you can see, a lot of clarity and healing came during this time.

Month 5

This would bring us to the present time.  Healing is definitely still in progress.  This week I made some progress (in my eyes) and I am proud of myself for it.  One of the hardest things for me since our last loss has been being around or talking to or about any pregnant women.  I have declined baby showers.  I have distanced myself from conversations. I have decided that I just could not be a part of any of this.  I have needed to protect myself from unnecessary hurt.  Unfortunately, anyone who has suffered through IF and/or RPL knows these horrible feelings all too well.  Basically, there is no other way to put it other than it sucks!  And I don’t think anyone enjoys feeling this way. 

So, I decided to try to take some small steps with this.  I went online and found my old high school friends baby registry (she is due with her first child in a few weeks).  I sent her some really cute presents and a card.  I did the same thing for a friend that I have recently met here in this wonderful blogging community as well.  In addition, I accepted an invitation to 3-year-old birthday party where another pregnant woman, baby, and children will be present.  I went out and bought him some play dough, a puzzle, and a book for the party.  I must tell you, I felt really great inside when I did each of these things for these special people. It brought me a lot of joy. And while I know that I have a long ways to go still in my healing, I also know that I am farther along than I was before!

  

Moving Forward

A few days ago, as I was searching ever so feverishly for a nail file in my vanity drawer, I came across this note that I had saved from my father.  

Seemed pretty fitting for our current situation. This month passing by without being pregnant sadly marks the end of our chance to have a child in 2015. And it cuts like a knife. 

The note made me remember how true it is that many times we don’t get why things like this are the way they are, but that doesnt mean we have to give up.  God is getting ready to do the biggest work of all when things seem to be the worst. I think what really hit home the most was the part that told me to follow my ❤️ and follow through. 

Keeping this in mind, Shane & I sat down & had some well needed conversations, primarily focused on following our hearts.  For us, as crazy as it may sound, that came down to not giving up our quest to have our family.  

So, we narrowed our options down even further; down to just 3 to be exact. This was by no means easy-plenty of why us, followed by what if’s, and some wtf’s. FYI: Just because we have decided to take a few of these options off the table right now, doesn’t mean we won’t reconsider them down the road.

Option 1: Don’t try at all anymore, ever. 

Status: Off the table, for now.

Reasoning: This option doesn’t seem right, simply due to the fact we are still buying pregnancy tests! Actions speak louder than words.


Option 2: Take a long break  

Status: Off the table, for good.   

Reasoning: What’s the point in taking a long break, only to have a plan to eventually try one day again? Maybe if we were 20, and hadnt been trying just short of a decade soon. I will be 33 this year, and Im not getting any younger, so please dont tell me how “young” I am. I have had my period since I was 9.  Yeah, you heard me right, 9.  That’s over 20 years of Aunt Flow.  My mom was in her late 30’s when she went through menopause.  My new diagnosis of Adenomyosis also tells us that menopause isn’t that far out of sight.  How do I know? Here’s how-most diagnosed cases of Adenomyosis are in fact made in pre-menopausal women.  

Oh, and carrying a baby to FULL term takes 9 months.  At minimal, we are looking at our first child close to 34, and that’s if all goes well. Assuming things did go ok in the future, we will have a 2016 baby hopefully. But, if we so much as miscarry again, through another IVF cycle, we could be looking at being 35 or older. FYI: miscarrying takes time & so does IVF. A frozen cycle takes over 2 months (for us) and so did a later miscarriage. It took 8 weeks for my beta to reach 0 this past loss. You do the math, and thats at least 4 months. At least. Trying another cycle, means adding another 2 months.  So, now its been 6 months, and thats without even taking a month to get a normal period. If you did, it could be 7 months.  So, why take a long break again?

Some people have suggested that time will heal our pain, and maybe that’s why we should take a while off. We will NEVER get over losing our babies. Time cant change that. 


Option 3: Start trying on our own following my surgery (ovulation kits, basal, pre-seed, etc.).

Status: Still on the table!

Reasoning: Getting pregnant the old-fashioned way would be nothing short of a miracle, and who doesn’t want to believe that miracles still happen everyday?  Enough said

 

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Option 4: Embark in another FET following my surgery (3 embryos left) in a few months.

Status: Still on the table! 

Reasoning: We have gotten pregnant all 3 times we have done all 3 embryo transfers, so we think there is a chance it can work for us again.  However, because of what we have been through, the fears start rising quickly with this option.  What if it doesn’t work? If you are trying the old-fashioned way, you can just try again the next month.  Maybe you don’t want to, because it is tiring, but you still can.  This is a luxury to an infertile. Trying at home and failing, means you didn’t just dump THOUSANDS of dollars as you would if you did a transfer and it didn’t work. Then there’s the big one…what if we miscarry again? I understand that this can happen under option #3 as well.  BUT, if we actually got pregnant on our own and sadly miscarried, at least we would finally know that we could get pregnant & this in itself would be amazing (without any freaking appointments, drugs, or doctors). 


Option 5: Embark in another FET down the road. 

Status: Still on the table!

Reasoning: I might not be getting any younger, but our embryos aren’t getting any older either.  Cryogenics at its best!  Keeping this option around means we believe one of those embryos is our baby just waiting for us. If not, its just wasted time. 


Option 6: Adopt. 

Status: Off the table, for now.

Reasoning: Adoption is a great way for us to have a family, without dealing with our insane fears of being pregnant.  It is also wonderful because it brings people together who normally wouldnt be, and it gives a child a chance at a great life who wouldnt have had it otherwise. This is something we have considered, but we don’t think we are at the point to move forward with it just yet.  Thankfully though, no one can take this option away from us. The clock isn’t ticking.  At the end of the day, we both still want to know what our very own children will look like, and act like, and we know that adoption won’t take that desire away. 


Option 7: A surrogate **new edition!!

Status: Off the table, for now.  

Reasoning: We have been weighing the pros and cons of a surrogate down the road, versus adopting (if choices 3-5 don’t work out and it comes down to it). We wouldn’t do both; we would have to choose.  Cost wise, a surrogate/adoption are about the same. Again, we wouldn’t have to worry about me being pregnant and me miscarrying, which is a plus.  BUT, we would be entrusting someone else to carry our child.  Someone we wouldn’t be able to watch over 24/7, and who in the end, will make their own decisions when they are pregnant that affect our baby.   I have some other fears as well, probably because I have watched too many lifetime movies.  Either way, between adoption and a surrogate, we are somewhat leaning towards the latter, but I’m sure that could always change.


As you can see, we will be pursuing one of our “on the table” options sometime in our future. Until then, we will keep on mind that we are slowly making progress towards our ultimate dream…bringing baby home one day.

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