Infertility after kids – it still sucks.

Let me start by telling you how VERY thankful I am for my boys every single day.  I would not forgo our experience with infertility because it blessed us with Charlie and Harrison.  I know that I am lucky, blessed, happy and loved.  But I am only human and I am selfish.

I am that person who would respond with an enthusiastic “10!!!” when someone would ask how many children I wanted.  I pictured myself driving a large van with my many mini-me’s piling out for school, perfectly dressed and never having consumed fast food or farted in public… and then reality struck and after marrying my best friend I quickly realized that I might have to tame my expectations.

Lenny and I, we are the lucky ones.  Despite infertility our battle was relatively short (3 years) before we were blessed with Charlie via an FET (frozen embryo transfer) from an IVF cycle and less than two years later we were blessed with Harrison via an FET from the same cycle.  And our experience with fostering has expanded our family in ways I never dreamed.

But you should know that I still cry.  That I ache.  That I long.  That I do not feel that my family is complete despite knowing that this is a possible reality.  Our many totes of baby clothes and items that hang out in the attic are an act of desperation, hoping and praying that it could happen that we’re blessed with “just one more”.   When I see my babies laughing, when they hug me or kiss me, and even when they’re crying and especially when they need me – it’s there: the knowledge that it might not happen again.

I regret not taking more time with them.  Not documenting every. single. feeling. when I was pregnant with them.  I know, I know!  They’re young, we have their entire lives ahead of us.  But each day they get older and each day I’m reminded that each thing they do, each milestone they pass, each experience we have – it could be the last.

I want you to know that I am that mom: the mom that loved being pregnant.  Who will never ever ever complain about my boys to others and really does think they are as close to perfect as is humanly possible.  I have consciously tried to never complain to another about the lack of sleep or the time or activities I’ve sacrificed because to me those things don’t matter.  I have loved every second of every day that I have been a mom.  You might think I’m exaggerating but I would not trade even the hardest, stinkiest, most gut-wrenching experiences with my boys for anything in the world!  And I would give anything I’ve ever had or will have to experience this again.

Each month when my lady friend does not arrive on time (or let’s face it, a day or two ahead of that) I am thinking “it could happen, it really could…”, feeling each cramp, longing for a headache or a strange ache in anticipation.  Each month I try to talk myself down although around cycle day 26 I can’t help but start to wonder… and each month when that signal that we are not pregnant arrives, I feel defeated.  I was an irrational mess for so long that Lenny shouldn’t have to deal with it and it’s also not socially acceptable to complain about such a thing when I already have children, so I keep it inside, sometimes crying only when I’m in the shower or not at all if I can’t find the time…

It’s hard when strangers make comments about my parenting.  It’s hard when people ask if we want another, or even more annoyingly if “next time we’re trying for a girl.”  It’s even more difficult when I hear/read/experience parents that abuse, neglect or just don’t appreciate their children (or their pregnancy).  It’s hard when Lenny and I plan for our future and beat around the subject of Baby #3.  It’s hard when friends and family forget the struggles involved with having our first two and make insensitive comments.  It’s hard when Charlie asks if he can have a sister or brother.  And it’s hard when we’re not even really “trying” but it’s always on your mind.  Baby announcements, baby showers, ultrasound pictures, vasectomy discussions, abortion/anti-abortion discussions: still hard.  Doable/manageable, yes.  Difficult, double yes.  I’m only human and I am selfish.  We are blessed and I don’t regret a single thing we’ve had to experience to get to where we are but INFERTILITY STILL SUCKS.

A quick message to my infertility warrior friends: I know that I am the lucky one.  I advocate and pray for you all on a daily basis!  You have been through so much and I know your daily struggle to try to have JUST ONE.  I will continue to hope and pray that no one has to struggle with infertility and that all can find their happy ending!  

Is it a Boy or a Girl??

We’re interested in what everyone else thinks… cast your vote! 🙂

Online Surveys & Market Research

http://wp.vizu.com/vizu_poll.swf

We find out on Monday!!

A picture a Day

Today I read about a fellow facebook-er who posted a picture a day for a year to describe her year.  I LOVE This idea and am considering incorporating it into my blog.  I want to be blogging more; I love the release I feel when I press “publish”.  So I thought, why not start now?  It’s January 5th, I’m only 5 days into the new year!

But posting a picture a day may get a little obnoxious and I honestly think it’s something that I would drop the ball on, you know, not remember to post one every single day.  SO… instead, I’ll post a picture for each post, which I’m aiming to have a new one every 2-3 days.  But to start out the new year, I’ve got five for you… one for each day of the new year so far.  :)

January 1st

I chose this photo to start the new year; it is the single best thing that has ever happened to us, and he/she is what our entire 2011 is going to be about!

January 2nd

Yay for yummy food!  On January 2nd we had some friends over for the Colts game.

January 3rd

Today we received a call from The Villages about three foster children who were in need of a home and we decided to try to be that home; still waiting to see how this one will turn out (we’re licensed Therapeutic foster parents).  Everyone should consider fostering, there are so many children in need of a loving home!

January 4th

On January 4th we put an offer in on this house!  We’re just waiting to hear back now from the bank.  It’s a short-sale that we’ve been eying for the past four months and finally have made a move on.  If we are able to get it, we’ll be renting our current home!  Big changes in 2011!

January 5th

The book I’m reading (in replacement of a new year’s resolution).

Catching Up

It has been far too long since I last posted.  Let me start where I last left off…

We were pregnant!  It was early October and all of our dreams were coming true.  The next few weeks were a blur of doctor’s appointments, blood work and ultrasounds.  Because of the procedure we were very closely monitored; our Betas continued to multiply and the first ultrasound showed a developing baby and a strong heartbeat.  It also showed a second sac, but it was empty.

Both embryos we had transferred had initially taken, but for reasons we’ll never know the second embryo/sac stopped growing at around 5 weeks.  We were not sad; just as in a normal pregnancy, your body knows what is supposed to happen and something was not right with this embryo which is why it stopped growing.  I think we were less emotionally affected knowing the science behind the entire process.  And we had our baby!  He/she was growing strong!

Flash forward a few months.  I’m now 16 weeks along and everything has gone beautifully!  I have been pretty lucky with only a few weeks of nausea and only four pounds gained so far.  The IVF cycle was 100x worse than being pregnant.  :)  To be completely honest I haven’t blogged because we wanted the first trimester to be between us; we wanted to make sure that everything was going well, the baby was healthy, and we had time to adapt to the amazing fact that we have gone from having an unclear family future to parents-to-be.

But there is one thing that I think it’s important to stress; infertility struggles do not end with a pregnancy, an adoption, or a choice to live life without children.  Every day is still filled with “what-ifs” and planning, tears for others struggling, prayers for others trying, and occasional guilt over your new-found joy.  For the first twelve weeks every time I felt a cramp, a strange feeling, or I felt really great, my mind immediately raced to the what-ifs.  We’ve had to make decisions about continuing to be foster parents; what do with our remaining embryos, when would we try again?

I refuse to be someone who forgets what we went through to get this, and my passion is still helping others who are going through the same thing.  On the flip side, I am SO thankful and happy that we are where we are and our little one is on the way!  And I’m excited to be back to blogging; I missed writing! 🙂

Have a happy new year, ya’ll!  See ya next year.

Just To Be Sure…

(Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise continued)

… I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night and so we were up pretty early and had time to spare before we were getting ready to go to church.  We were lounging around and I couldn’t stop thinking about my beta test which was to be the next day.  I had one more home pregnancy test upstairs and for some reason I felt like I would be more at ease if I saw another negative this morning.  So I went back upstairs, peed on the stick, and waited.  This particular test was digital; the first digital I had ever taken.  It flashes a little sand timer/hourglass while you’re waiting.  When it changed from the hourglass to the words (it displays either “pregnant” or “not pregnant”), I realized that I hadn’t put my contacts in yet and so I had to bend down closely to read it.

When I bent down and looked  closely, it said “pregnant”.

Yep, pregnant.  It was 8:30a.m. on Sunday, October 3rd.  Honestly, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Crap, it can’t be right.”  I dug the box and instructions out of the trash like a raccoon and sat down on the floor.  I was searching for the possibility that it would malfunction… it was digital after all!  After a few minutes I realized that it might actually be correct.  I might actually be pregnant.

Not quite sure what to say or do, I stumbled back downstairs and sat down on the couch to watch tv with Lenny.  After only a few minutes I figured out my next move and I went back upstairs and dug out the NY Giants baby booties from my dresser that I had ordered two years ago.  I had been saving them to give to Lenny when we finally got pregnant (when I ordered them, I still didn’t realize how long they would stay in my underwear drawer).  I threw them in a gift bag and stumbled back downstairs.  Yes, by this time Lenny figured something was up.  I handed him the bag and almost shouted “I have a present for you”.

After opening the gift his first response was “you took another test?  It was positive?  Can I see it?”  We ran upstairs together and I showed him the test; we hugged and cried together.  It’s not the way that I had always dreamt of surprising him with this news, but it was perfect.  I had wondered through over 30 negative pregnancy tests and 2.5 years of trying to conceive what it would feel like to finally see a positive on the test…now I knew.

After church we stopped and bought a few more tests, just to be sure.  I got another positive, and so we were content until the beta the next day.  Knowing we were so far from being in the clear still it was another restless night, but a better restless:

I WAS PREGNANT!!

If you’re reading this – thank you!  But please don’t say anything on facebook until I do…

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise (i.e. The 2ww)

(Part 2 of “Our Baby Transfer”)

…after about 45 minutes one of the nurses came over and told us that we were free to go whenever we were ready, just stop by to see her after we were changed.  I stayed 30 extra minutes, just in case.  But by that point I was STARVING and knew that it was in God’s hands.  I dressed and stopped by the nurse’s office.  She wrote my prescriptions for the drugs I was to continue and then gave me one last shot in my upper hip (fingers crossed that it’s the last).  I walked out of New Hope Clinic silently hoping that I wouldn’t be back any time soon.

I stopped and grabbed a bite to eat at the first place I saw and then boarded the subway, walked to Penn Station, and boarded the train “home”.  When I arrived back at the train station I hopped in Len’s car and drove the five minutes back to the house.  Too excited to rest too much I used the next 45 minutes to finish packing the last of my belongings.  Knowing that I needed to rest I laid down for a quick nap.  By a little after 5p.m. I was on the road home to Indiana.

Now some people may judge me for not lying around for at least 24 hours.  Some may say I too hastily jumped in the car to head home.  Had I known that I would sit in TONS of traffic trying to leave the city that Sunday night, I probably would have agreed with them.  I was planning to take it easy, listen to my body, and not push too hard, but I wanted nothing more at that moment in time then to go home.

I drove for about six hours that night and ended up stopping at a hotel in Pennsylvania for the night; partially because I was getting tired, partially because it had started raining pretty hard.  I was in bed by midnight and didn’t set an alarm.  I was too excited to sleep though… I watched the Kardashians for over an hour before finally dozing off.  I woke up around 3a.m. to the E channel and an excited feeling to be headed home and when I remembered that I was “pupo”.  I left the hotel around 11a.m. the next morning and drove the rest of the way back to Indiana.  I was so happy to be home.

I had planned to rest the rest of that week, but life quickly went back to normal and I needed to stay distracted so I jumped back into work and the unpacking that needed to happen.  On Wednesday morning I took a home pregnancy test – not because it would show yet whether or not the procedure had worked.  Rather, I was testing to make sure that I wouldn’t get a false negative further down the road.  The “trigger” shot that I was given on Sunday is a small dose of HCG; the chemical that tests measure in your body to determine a pregnancy.  I wanted to test it out of my system to erase any possibility of false excitement.  On Wednesday the test was negative.

The waiting time between an IVF procedure and your first beta test (the blood test to determine whether or not a pregnancy has occurred) is probably one of the hardest times in the cycle.  On message boards and in the infertility world it’s known as the 2ww; the two week wait.  Luckily for me, because we transferred two five-day old embryos, I only had to wait eight days for my first beta.  Each day dragged on as I waited for the slightest feeling of nausea or that instant moment of just knowing I was pregnant.  That moment did not come.  Aside from a pretty persistent headache which I attributed to my cold-turkey quitting of caffeine that week, I had no symptoms of anything.  On Friday, five days past our transfer, I took another home pregnancy test.  It was negative again.  Although I knew that was still early, I did lose a little bit of hope.  Our beta was scheduled for Monday.

Saturday evening we had two parties to stop by and I couldn’t take my mind off of the fact that our transfer hadn’t work.  I asked Lenny if we could leave the second party early because I just couldn’t be social; we were home by 10p.m.  That night in bed I apologized to Lenny through tears for not taking it easier, not praying more, not resting more, for leaving on Sunday and not waiting until Monday, and for everything else I could figure I had done wrong to cause the transfer to have not worked.  Lenny reassured me that we still have frozen embryos left and this wasn’t the end of the road.  I only slept a few hours that night, I couldn’t stop tossing and turning.

To be continued…

Our Baby Transfer! (i.e. frozen embryo transfer)

My posts have been much fewer and far between because the past few weeks/month(s) have been a bit of a whirlwind and while I have loved sharing our experience with everyone, there were parts that I’ve held off blogging about out of respect for Lenny’s wishes.  Mainly, we figured that if something did work out and we were to get pregnant, it probably wouldn’t be best for our parents to find out via my blog…

So now I’m going to start catching you up, and there is a lot to catch up on.  We’re ready to share.

The last updates I had given on our cycle we were “delayed”.  They had found cysts in my ovaries (results of the hyperstimulation last cycle) and my body was taking forever… no ovulation and nothing from the docs as to what was going on.  Then, out of no where, we had answers and we had a plan.  On September 20th I finally ovulated (sorry if this is TMI), and I started medications to pursue a frozen transfer five days later.  We were ecstatic – I was convinced the cycle was going to be cancelled again.  That was a Monday.  I started estrogen supplements (estrace) once a day, and progesterone supplements (crinone) twice a day.  P.S. I HATE crinone more than any of the other meds that I had to take, including all of the shots.  Don’t want to be too descriptive, but if your doc prescribes this I strongly recommend you ask if there are any alternatives… send me a message if you want more details 🙂

I went back for monitoring on Wednesday and Friday.  On Friday they determined that our transfer would take place on Sunday, September 26th.  It was really going to happen!!

On Saturday I spent a majority of the day packing my car- I had decided that I was driving home after this cycle and if we had to come back I would just fly.  I wanted to move my stuff back home regardless of the outcome.  My car was packed and ready to go on Sunday morning as I drove to the train station.  I ate a small breakfast and had a cup of decaf coffee on the train.  On the subway I was so nervous I had to get out my phone to mess around and pretend like I was doing something (no cell signal in the tunnels).  When I arrived at New Hope I was beaming and was the most nervous I’d been since we started the journey.  Imagine my excitement when I saw the largest group of people in the waiting room I had ever encountered…

So the way that a frozen embryo transfer works is this.  They selected two of our six snowbabies on Sunday morning and took them out to “thaw”.  The thawing process takes a few hours and my transfer was scheduled for 11a.m. but they had asked me to arrive at 10a.m. so there I was.  At 10:50 I had yet to be acknowledged.  At 11:10a.m., in tears, I walked out of the waiting room to make a few notes on my phone for my blog.  I was convinced that neither of the embryos had survived the thawing process.  At 11:15, my name was called and she was smiling – THANK GOD!

I followed her upstairs, changed into my gown from the waist down and went out to the waiting room to wait my turn.  There were five other women there.  Two were in the recovery chair, looking still very drugged.  Two were waiting with me.  One tiny asian woman and another chatty woman who would become my “buddy” for the day.  Both went back for their transfers before me.  The wait was the hardest part.

My name was called, I verified my information, they checked my medical bracelet to make sure everything matched, and I was led back to the chair from hell (unfortunately one that I had gotten all too used to).  I think I mentioned it in an earlier post, but forget the regular stirrups (again, sorry if TMI)… this baby has holsters for your thighs.  There were two nurses and the doctor in the room waiting for me.  I positioned myself, the most unflattering lights in the universe were shown on my most unflattering parts, and another doc walked in to assist.  Then the most magical and scientifically amazing thing took place…

On a screen above my bed I was able to watch the entire process.  (The doctors chose to transfer two embryos to increase our chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.  The average success rate of an IVF cycle is less than 30%, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much.)  The second doc asked me to verify that the name and birthday on the screen, NEXT TO THE TWO MICROSCOPIC EMBRYOS matched mine.  He then used a tiny syringe to extract the first embryo from the microscope slide and carefully handed it to the doctor, and the first embryo (Baby A) was transferred; it took all of 2 minutes.  Then he repeated the process with the second embryo (Baby B).  It was all over in less than 10 minutes.  I was then escorted to the recovery chairs and my legs were propped up.  The woman next to me, clearly also in recovery, grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and druggingly said “we’re Pupo!” It was approximately 15 minutes later that I figured out that Pupo (pronounced pup-o) actually stood for p-u-p-o, “pregnant until proven otherwise”.  Wow, I was pregnant until proven otherwise…

To be continued…

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