Friends

Pretty vague heading, right?

Over the past year I have learned a lot.  I honestly think that when I’m 95 (because yes, I’ll live to be at least that old) I’ll still look back and say “2009 and 2010, yes those are the years that I learned so much”.  And one thing that I feel I have learned so much about is friendship.

The term “friend” is used so much, and so loosely, that when all things are considered it has lost so much worth.  So, the nerdy side of me looked up the definition of friend and found (thanks to wikipedia):

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another; able to go to each other for emotional support

Reading this definition was both enlightening and humbling.  Humbling, because I know that I have done things in the past that do not at all resonate these qualities as a friend.  I also know that I have worked incredibly hard over the past few years, and will continue to work, to become this type of friend.  Enlightening, because it made me realize that 1) it’s time to clean out the facebook friends list, and 2) while I have some “friends” who are so far from fitting the mold they are strangers, I also have some absolutely amazing friends who make that definition look weak.

If you are one of those amazing friends who has been there for me when I needed you the most, who has kept secrets, who has handed out more support than pantyhose, and has dealt with more venting than a dryer repairman – thank YOU!  I can only pray that someday I’m able to repay that friendship and be there for you when you need it.

(Special shoutout to: Abbey, Andrew, Brian C, Brian L, all of CMFK, Dena, Greg, Jennifer, Jena, Jess, LENNY, Micaela, Stacy, Steph K, Steph L, Tamara, Val and our families.) – Yes, I put the names in alphabetical order to not play favorites  🙂

Have a great week!

No more Carrie

Unfortunately my “Being Carrie Bradshaw” screenplay didn’t make it.  I’m too tired!

To start with, an IVF cycle is not at all what I was expecting.  I am a pretty healthy and athletic person, so I had planned on using this time “off” to really get back into shape.  I planned to hit the gym every day, practice the yoga I love, and eat better.  Unfortunately these meds have a different idea.  The first being that I no longer like food very much; almost everything doesn’t taste good and I feel nauseous quite a bit of the day. Great, right?  Now you’ll lose those 15lbs you’ve gained since college!  Nope, I have gained eight pounds in the past three weeks.  The second downer to my “get healthy plan” was the procedures that I’ve had done, the Hysteroscopy, the D&C, and then the egg retrieval, all require you to rest for seven days each – no hard core physical exercise and nothing that requires the use of your abdominal muscles.  You also can’t swim.  Let’s just say I’ve been walking a lot…

IVF also doesn’t play nicely with your body.    I have unexplained cramping on my left side, all the time.  As soon as I have to pee it feels like my stomach has ballooned and there is an intense pain.  My stomach is bloated about 20 out of 24 hours of each day; the other day I looked about 5 months pregnant. My body is now covered in “body acne” – it’s small and painless and no one besides me will probably even notice but it’s still there; I haven’t had pimples since Jr. High!  And the progesterone shots that I started last week (which you take in the arse) have made my backside so incredibly sensitive that I can no longer sleep on my back and I have to sit on the edge of chairs to avoid extreme pain.

Okay, so two paragraphs have now been dedicated to how crappy I feel, so I’ll stop that complaining now.  I honestly feel though that even if I felt like myself, Carrie’s life might not be for me.   I think the museums, the architecture, and the diversity is amazing and I hope to always be appreciative of situations such as this.  I also plan to continue to capitalize on every  situation and use each opportunity to its full potential.  But I miss the cookouts in our backyard, the lazy Sundays spent lounging around and working on the house, and the NO-traffic-all-the-time roads.  I miss my friends, I miss my family, and I miss Lenny.  There is something about Indiana that I just can’t wait to get back to.

In my defense, I feel much better having dedicated one blog to telling the truth about IVF; I wish I would have been better prepared!  This wasn’t meant to be a negative post… I just want women everywhere to know you don’t always have to be the tough guy, especially when you’re going through something so difficult.  I wanted to be the strong and admirable soon-to-be-mom when all was said and done, but now all I want is a pint of ice cream and a butt that isn’t throbbing (and OF COURSE, the end result – a BABY!).  Most importantly this post is meant to show that I love the life that Lenny and I have created and as much as I am attempting to make out of this new adventure, and as much more as I would be willing and able to give for my future family, I wouldn’t trade my current life for anything.  🙂

Sex (but no baby) and the City

“Living” in New York after spending my first 26 years in Indiana is like throwing a child who’s never played a sport before onto a field of professional football players mid-play.  Probably not a very good analogy but I can’t think of anything else to compare it to. It’s unlike anything we’re used to or have ever seen.  The people alone are all so unique, so individual, and so diverse!  It really is an eye-opening experience.

Right now my “average” day goes as follows: Up around 6a.m. to shower and get ready for the day.  I then drive to the train station to make the 7:22 or the 7:55 train from Little Neck to Penn Station.  I usually have to park about 4 blocks away and walk there, so I am very much lying when I say the 7:22, I’ve only made that train once.  🙂  Oh, and every other day I have been stopping at starbucks and allowing myself the wonderful sensation that is a nonfat grande white chocolate mocha (with no whipped cream)… that’s gotta stop!

When I arrive at Penn Station I exit and walk to the subway, take the F uptown.  I ride for about 5 stops to 63rd and Lexington and then walk 11 blocks (10 north, 1 west) to our doctor’s office – arriving almost like clockwork at 9:20a.m.  Between appointments I walk.  I’m only blocks from central park.  I’m only a block from the rodeo drive of New York (gucci, prada, etc. etc. etc.) which makes for great window shopping.  Sometimes I walk approximately 30 blocks to Times Square to be bombarded by the crazies selling bus tours, bike tours, other tours, and knick knacks.  Sometimes I walk down side streets to discover ma and pa places to add to my list of places to eat. There isn’t usually enough time for the museums or attractions, but when there is I take full advantage.

I also eat – each trip to the city is a welcoming and exciting temptation to try new things or indulge in old.  The pizza, on every block, is my biggest weakness; at $2.50 a slice can you blame me?  I’ve also ventured into unknown places with no tables and loud, obnoxious and sweaty cooks -those are often the best finds.  I’ve eaten at the Tao, the chinese restaurant in Sex and the City 2.  I’ve eaten at three restaurants for one meal; a salad from here, a sandwich from there, dessert from a third.  I always eat alone and I always eat slowly, savoring the flavors and sensations that nothing in Indiana can come close to.  Often I spend up to an hour carefully choosing my next venue.

I am proud of myself for quickly falling into the mold of being a New Yorker.  I walk quickly every where I go, even if I’m not in a hurry.  I don’t ever make eye contact.  I talk about the train, the subway and public transit in general as if I grew up riding the rails; the other day I even pointed tourists in the right direction!  Under normal circumstances I avoid the busier streets and I’m no longer afraid to walk on the grates.  When I drive, which is now rare, my horn is my best friend and I accelerate faster than the average scion.  I cut people off all the time because it’s the only way to make it into the lane you want and I very rarely signal.  New York is the only state I have ever driven in where you can race past a police car and they could care less as long as you’re driving in a straight line.

But there are parts of me that will always be from Indiana.  I don’t like rude people, the ones that cut in front of me or bump into me without saying excuse me; I’m probably the most polite subway rider ever, giving up my seat to almost anyone.  My heart still aches for the homeless and I always try to have leftovers or grab an extra granola bar that I can hand out to at least one of them.  Sometimes my feet beg me to slow down since we’re not in a hurry, and my legs cramp in anger at my newly adapted walk-run.  I still say “Ya’ll”.  My eyes still tear when I see people spending $30,000 a month in rent, knowing damn well that that amount of money could save lives.  I still pride myself on buying most of my shoes for less than $25, and I absolutely refuse to ever wear some of those ridiculous fashions like 80’s inspired neon leggings or those hideous jackets. Oh, and I will never carry a small dog in my purse – ever.

My mission for this week is to channel my inner Carrie and really start using the city as the blank canvas of my life that it could be.  I may be here for one reason with one goal in mind, but I am bound and determined to make it one of the best experiences I’ve ever had; why harp on the bad when I have the opportunity to turn it in to something good?

Where We Be

So… my post last night left off in June with Lenny and I making the decision to stop trying to have a baby for a while and just enjoy life.  Bring on the next day

I receive an e-mail from Lenny while I’m at work and the subject is “interesting story”.  I open the e-mail to find “Wanna live with my parents for a while?” and a link.  Hmm… exactly what I was hoping he would send the night after such a serious discussion.  But I click on the link for kicks any hoo.  It was a link to a doctor’s office in New York that regularly performs mini IVF, the same procedure but with less medication and is less invasive than normal IVF.  At first I was furious with Lenny for not making it longer than 12 hours on our not-trying-for-a-while pact, but the more I read and researched, the more I realized that he may have stumbled upon something that might actually work for us.

Flash forward to July.  We’ve already flown to New York and met with the nurses and doctors (all of which we loved!).  I’ve put in my notice to leave College Mentors at the end of July, and they want to start working with us the first week of August.  We’ve had all of the pre-screening tests completed and the results sent to their office (we’ll call him Dr. Z) and we’ve been accepted as patients.  The pre-screening tests included screening for all STDs, HIV, and random things like chicken pox.  We also had genetic testing done, to determine that we were not carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.  A few other tests are done as well.  The second week in July, on a Thursday, I fly to New York on a Thursday morning to spend all day at the doc’s… I return again the last week in July for one day for another visit.

(One thing I did not mention: this is a MUCH less expensive option for us due to the circumstances therefore making the flights, etc. doable)

So, where are we now?  I started lupron injections in July, with the hopes of working towards an eventual round of IVF.  Lenny and I drove out to New York last Wednesday and I have had appointments just about every other day since then.  I’m now “living” with Lenny’s parents, Peggy and Len.  IVF, and infertility in general, is a lot of work!  Last Friday I had two procedures done (Hysteroscopy and a D&C), there are now more injections (of menopur), antibiotics, and lordy there are ridiculous hormones raging.  🙂  I won’t go into a lot more detail because I’m sure if you want to know, you’ll ask.  Just know we’re making progress, and I’m bound and determined to be the Carrie Bradshaw of married women.  Afterall, this is New York!

Our Infertility Journey

I decided to dedicate one entry to detailing our infertility journey – mostly because I think I have many friends and family members who are not sure of everything that we have done or where we’re at, and since I’m not great with spoken words it will be a lot easier to give the details this way.  (P.S. This is going to be a LONG entry.  You’ll probably need popcorn, maybe a beer, and you’ll probably need to take occasional breaks!)

Lenny and I have both always wanted to have children and after dating for almost six years, we felt ready to start trying right after our wedding.  The first few months were pretty normal, we just figured it would take a couple of tries.  By the time Thanksgiving rolled around we started talking about how exciting it would be to be able to tell Lenny’s family in person while we were in New York.  At Christmastime I was six days late – five negative pregnancy tests later I started and there was a little more disappointment than there had been in months past.  Lenny agreed that we’d give it three more months and if we weren’t pregnant by March we would see a specialist, just to make sure everything was okay.

March rolled around and we made an appointment with a doctor that a co-worker of Lenny’s had recommended.  When we called his office though, he was booked for two months; so we saw his associate, Dr. M.  Sitting in Dr. M’s waiting office was strange (“are we really here?” thoughts rolling through our head); we waited about 45 minutes before being called into his office.  He sat behind a monstrous desk, talked a mile a minute, and asked us the most personal questions I’d ever been asked.  After our “conversation” he assured us that with our history, ages, and health there was very little to worry about but he ordered a few labs and a sperm analysis just to make sure.  He also asked us to start using ovulation tracking tests since we had only been timing before that.

After a week when we hadn’t received the results to our tests we called the office.  “Oh, Dr. M is on vacation and won’t be back for 10 days.  He’ll call you then.”  So Lenny asked if she could just give us the results and we could discuss them with him when he got back.  She told me that all of my tests were normal and everything looked fine and she read Lenny his sperm analysis numbers.  Not being the type to wait almost two weeks for what those results meant, Lenny and I did some research and were able to figure out ourselves that his numbers were not very good.  Two weeks later Dr. M called and wanted to schedule a follow-up appointment with us.

Sitting in his office he said there was no easy way to give couples the news that things were not perfect, yada yada yada.  He thought it would be helpful if I went on a medication to stimulate my ovaries and regulate my ovulation.  Nearly all women take chlomid for this purpose but Dr. M prescribed me Femara – a drug used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women but that was also being tested as an infertility treatment.  He said with a laugh that he was sure we’d be pregnant before our three month follow-up.  In addition, he recommended Lenny see a good friend of his, a urologist, Dr. U.

A few weeks later we met with Dr. U.  He examined Lenny (I’ll leave out the details of  the exam that I was in the room for!) and he found that Lenny had a vericocele vein.  It has not been proven that this is directly related to infertility, but there is a higher percentage of vericocele veins in men with infertility than those without.  But he wasn’t ready to do a vericocelectomy just yet (to repair the vericocele vein), instead he recommended he try a vitamin called L-Carnetine for three months while laying off of the hot tub use and biking.  For three months we “patiently” waited to see if there would be any change. P.S. We didn’t like this guy either, he was good friends of Dr. M and accepted only cash payments so they weren’t trackable.

In May, and with no pregnancy, we went back in to meet with DR. M and Lenny had another test – his numbers came back lower than the test before.  Dr. M took me off of Femara and we decided to meet with a new urologist, Dr. T, in June to get a second opinion on Lenny’s vericocele vein and our infertility. We really liked him, and he ended up being the doctor to perform Lenny’s vericocelectomy later in the year.

In the meantime, we had had about four other appointments with Dr. M; I hated Dr. M’s office.  We had to wait at least 45 minutes every time we had an appointment to be seen.  Any time we called the office you HAD to leave a message and they would call you back when they felt like it.  The nurse was not nice, Dr. M was not personable, compassionate, or sane in my opinion (on another note, he has since left that office).  We sought out another clinic and schedule an appointment for a second opinion with Dr. R.

We met with Dr. R in July and I loved her.  She was compassionate, saw us at the actual time of our appointment, and didn’t rush us.  After our appointment, she sent us a handwritten note saying she was looking forward to working with us and helping us to build our family.  I was sold.  At that appointment she was upset to discover that I had been on an infertility drug for three months without ever having been given an HSG; she did an ultrasound that day and immediately scheduled an HSG for just a few days later.  The HSG examines the uterus and the fallopian tubes to make sure everything is clear and looks okay.  Luckily, that all came back normal as well.

Dr. M had felt that Lenny’s results were too poor for us to be candidates for IUI (i.e. artificial insemination) which is why he had sent us to the urologist.  Dr. R, on the other hand, thought that his results were border-line acceptable for IUI, so we scheduled our first IUI attempt for August.  I started on chlomid that month and in the middle of August we went in for our first IUI.  Lenny’s sample used for the IUI was so poor that a few days later they called back and told me to not even come in for my bloodwork, there was little chance that I was pregnant.

After that experience Lenny decided to have the vericocelectomy to repair his vericocele vein even though it was not required by the doctor.  My emotions and hormones were running wild and I was swamped at work, so I decided that we would take September and October off from trying (although I can 100% attest for the fact that it is nearly impossible to completely stop trying because you can’t stop thinking about it).  Lenny’s surgery was scheduled for the end of October.

**As a side note, at this point we had been trying for 14 months, had spent a few thousand dollars (maybe a little more), and I had taken too many pregnancy tests to count.  Looking back, I was in a really bad place and had lost myself (mentally and physically).  We didn’t have anyone to talk to besides each other, especially since we weren’t telling our family all of the details yet (really, we had told them next to nothing…) and my two closest friends were pregnant.  Most of that talking was actually fighting or arguing or crying and we were both drained.  My job was pretty stressful (fall was the worst time for us) and Lenny was having second thoughts about how quickly we actually needed a child.  We were both hurting and just didn’t know what to do about it.

In October Lenny had his surgery and they actually found five vericocele veins once they were in there so they repaired all of them.  The doctor seemed hopeful that this would make a big difference; we needed to wait three months for a follow-up appointment to see if it had helped.  During that time we went through our second year of holidays without the news we had hoped to deliver and I was suffering from depression and anxiety (most of which I am now learning is associated with the drugs I was taking!).

In January I became sold on the idea of becoming licensed foster parents, after attending a conference and speaking with individuals who worked for DCS and another organization that placed children in foster homes.  Lenny hesitantly agreed because at that point he was willing to do anything to improve our relationship.  We made a few calls only to discover that we were pretty much “not needed” as regular foster parents.  Our county just happens to have a high number of available foster parents and a low number of children in need.  However less than 10 minutes away is a county that I worked with for three years which I knew was in incredible need of more foster parents.  The only way we could foster those children, though, was to become therapeutically licensed, meaning we would work with children with extreme needs (abuse victims, mental or physical handicaps, etc.).  We started trainings in January.

In February Lenny had his three month follow-up appointment; the results were that there had really been no change in his sperm quality, quantity or shape, which was disappointing news to say the least.  However the doctor reassured us that we should come back at the six month mark because he had often times seen remarkable changes between the three month check-up and the six month. 

One night, as we were driving back from visiting my family, Lenny and I came up with the idea for a non-profit that worked with families struggling with infertility, to help people just like us.  We needed support, we needed resources, and we needed information – and we couldn’t find it anywhere.  Granted there is a lot of information on the internet, but a lot of it is negative, irrelevant, and/or hard to filter.

Just a week and a half later I left home for three days and headed to southern Indiana for a leadership retreat in the middle of no where with 19 strangers.  I have been accepted into a group called The Journey, and this was our first meeting.  I had no idea what to expect or what to bring or what to do… but you’ll hear me talk about The Journey in other posts – this one is already too long to expand any more than that!  The most important thing to know was that this was when I came to fully accept what we were going through, when I realized I needed to change and start caring about myself and Lenny again (and not just about getting a baby!) and when I knew that I needed to start the Indiana Collaboration for Families with Infertility (ICFI).

March, April and most of May flew by.  We met with Dr. R one more time in April to talk about IVF, which we could see might be one of our only options if his results did not improve at the six month mark.  We also went to Italy in May, which helped us to relax and reconnect.  It’s also where we decided that I would put in notice to leave my job with College Mentors for Kids; where we were with our marriage and our infertility we couldn’t afford for me to continue working with that organization (there were many other factors that played into this decision, but again, too much already to delve into this).

At the end of May, when we returned from Italy, we met with the urologist and Lenny’s results had still not changed.  In June we scheduled a consultation with yet another doctor – the one that had originally been recommended by Lenny’s co-worker.  We decided that when we were ready to take the next steps (IVF) we would most likely go with his office.  In addition, this was the month when I jumped in head first to starting ICFI.    This is also the month when Lenny and I had a life-changing discussion.

Shortly after Lenny’s follow-up appointment with his urologist, we were sitting on the screen porch with a bottle of wine when he confessed that he wasn’t ready to take the next step.  He said he wasn’t sure he was even ready to be a father, let alone ready to invest the thousands and thousands of dollars it would cost to pursue IVF treatments.  There were a lot of tears but no yelling or fighting.  I felt that if we were not willing to take the next step than we had to take a break completely – no ovulation tests, no tracking, nothing to do with getting pregnant.  That night we came to a mutual decision that we were going to stop trying for a while and just enjoy life.

So…. this has actually gone even longer than I anticipated so I will write about our New York doctor and where we’re at now, tomorrow.  🙂

I have a blog?

Yes, I have a blog!  I just started blogging today and I’m already addicted.  My initial blog today was for the organization that I just began working for.  But now I realized that I need to be able to separate my personal blogs from my professional blogs and so JustMacara is now here  🙂

Since this is my first blog I’ll tell you a little bit about me – a lot more will come out I’m sure!  I’m 26 years old, born and raised in Indiana, a Purdue graduate, and a current Carmel, Indiana resident.  My husband, Lenny, and I met on the basketball court at Purdue my freshman year (2002) and were married in June of 2008.  I love sports, the outdoors, and babies.

What will I blog about?  Well, Lenny and I have been struggling with infertility for two years, so a lot of my blogging will be about this subject. I am currently undergoing our first IVF cycle, so there will be plenty to say about that!  We’ve also recently become licensed foster parents, but are now torn about whether or not to go through with it.  Adoption has also always been on the table.

In addition, I’ve just recently left my position with an amazing organization called College Mentors for Kids (still close to my heart!) and am now working with another organization called the Indiana Collaboration for Families with Infertility (ICFI), so some of my blogs will include these organizations. I belong to a professional development group called The Journey that has completely changed my life, so they’ll be included.

Oh!  And I almost forgot to mention that I’m currently “living” in New York, at my in-laws house, because our infertility doctor is here.  That should also produce a few stories!

I’m excited to be able to share with others, and I’m hoping that some of our stories will help others in a similar situation.

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