ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS $5k IN IVF MEDICINES

December 7, 2015 – January 3, 2016

December 10th is my pregnancy blood test for IUI attempt #3. In the meantime while we patiently wait for my 2 Week Wait (2WW) to end, our baby salesman wanted to discuss next steps towards IVF in the event my pregnancy test is negative. Yes, you read that right. The baby salesman was anticipating another failed procedure and anticipating taking more money from us early. Looking back, I should have taken this as a sign.

JM and I made an appointment to discuss next steps with the baby salesman 3 days before the pregnancy test. When we were called into his office, we assume our usual positions in the dreaded bulky leather chairs. I have such a hatred for those leather chairs because every time we sit in them it’s to discuss the negative. JM and I decided from the beginning that we’d try IUIs three times before moving on to IVF. My insurance only allows a maximum of six IUIs for the lifetime of the insurance, so we wanted to reserve the other three for another time.

The baby businessman discussed with us an IVF plan specific to our needs. Basically, I’d start birth control at the beginning of my next menses for 21 days. Then at the start of the following menses, I’d begin the hormone stimulating injections. JM and I decided there was no reason to wait, and we were as financially ready to do this as we’d ever be. I’m the type of person who refuses to take out loans, so we tried very hard throughout the entire year to just live off one salary so we could fill our savings account with baby making money just in case. Trust me, mentally I had a very hard time accepting the fact that we were about to drop over $10,000 just to ATTEMPT to get pregnant. There was no guarantee. There was no refund if it doesn’t work. We’re about to gamble all this money for something we don’t know will work. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a hard time processing this.

The whole IVF cycle takes between 6-8 weeks to complete. The baby salesman tried to sell me on doing a more extensive embryo quality test for another $2k, but I laughed at him and said “no thank you.” If I was over 35, I’d absolutely do it, but I’m young and believe my eggs are fine. After our hour-long consultation, I came home with a prescription in hand for birth control pills which will begin the process of suppressing my ovaries to get them ready for high stimulation. If my pregnancy test is negative in 3 days, the plan is for me to start the birth control immediately.

When our appointment was over, my mind was only on money. I just kept thinking about our savings account and what if this try doesn’t work. I’m a saver. Call me selfish. Call me greedy. But how is it fair that getting pregnant is supposed to be a “free” act, but yet we have to spend a college tuition to do it? On the car ride home I said to JM, “This is going to be a light Christmas this year. Lets set some boundaries and make sure not to spend no more than $200 on each other this year. We have a baby to buy.”

Fast forward to December 10th… the day of my 23rd negative pregnancy test. My attitude and emotions after this test were different compared to all the other times. I was over it. At this point, I just wanted to do what a girl has got to do to get knocked up. I was anxious. Anxious to just move on and get going on the IVF. I was convinced the IVF will absolutely work. The doctors will literally be putting a baby into my uterus. This is guaranteed to work, right?

I got my period a couple days later and began the birth control pills and continue to take them for the next 21 days. In the meantime, I begin some of the preparation tasks the baby salesman wants me to do. I did a mock embryo transfer. This is to document the shape and size of my uterus so when it comes time to transfer the actual embryos, the doctors know exactly where they are to place the catheter. JM and I took another injection class. Although we were already pros at injections because of the IUIs, there is one different injection that requires JM to literally put it in my ass muscle. Glorious!

I knew that with IVF it involved a lot of medicines, but I guess I didn’t quite mentally prepare myself for just how much we were going to need or going to spend. Unfortunately, my insurance does not cover infertility medicines, so everything must be paid for out of pocket. The pharmacy tells me the grand total and it’s $4800. HOLY CRAP. I wasn’t expecting that number!

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When the medicines arrived the next day, you would have thought we received packages filled with Christmas gifts. Just check out the photo above. The boxes were so big. Yes, plural. We received 4 boxes filled with medicines. All of these drugs and hormones were about to go into my body over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how this is the new norm, but if this is what I have to do to get knocked up, then so be it.

I forced myself to try to be as relaxed and unstressed as I possibly could. I made sure to enjoy my last few adult beverages on Christmas and New Years because on 3 January, everything will begin. Rather than making a New Years resolution this year, JM and I both said a prayer that the IVF will work. We were convinced that 2016 WILL. BE. OUR. YEAR.

INFERTILITY FORCES YOU TO BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

November 14-26, 2015

It’s two days after my 2nd failed IUI pregnancy text results, and we are about to have a house full of 60 of our closest friends and some family for our 11th annual Friendsgiving. Sure, this was a nice distraction, but I can honestly say my enthusiasm and excitement for this year’s party was the lowest of all years. I was quickly reminded of my infertility when our friends with their adorable kids showed up. The good thing about this Friendsgiving is that I also got my period. Bet you never thought you’d hear Friendsgiving and period as a positive thing in the same sentence!? What this means is that on Monday I can start the process for IUI #3.

On Monday, I go to visit the baby businessman for the usual day 3 blood work and ultrasound to baseline my hormones and get clearance to proceed with IUI #3. All is good to go and we’re ready to try this one last time before moving forward with trying IVF. My doctor explains to me that this round will be a bit more aggressive and invasive with the hormone meds. Surprisingly, my baby businessman saved us some money for this round. He sent me home with a multiple-dose injection pen called Gonal-F. It was donated by a patient who no longer needed it, but set to expire next month. Little did I know this was a huge money saver (which I later learn) and saved me from spending nearly $450 out of pocket.

JM continued to serve his role as injection administrator throughout IUI #3. I don’t know what it is, but I simply cannot look at needles going into the skin. If it weren’t for JM, I’d probably have to hire someone to give me these injections daily, but thank goodness it didn’t come down to this.

Being on Gonal-F requires a little more monitoring appointments. After my day 3 baseline appointment, I had 5 more blood work and ultrasound monitoring appointments (to include on a Saturday morning) over the next 7 days. JM and I kept joking that it would be really funny if turns out the actual IUI procedure ends up being on Thanksgiving. Sure enough, on Tuesday, 24 November the baby businessman informs me that it looks like I’ll be ovulating on Thanksgiving. Our joking was now a reality.

Immediately when I got home after work, I told JM that our joking is no longer a joke. We some how have to make it work to do an IUI on Turkey Day. I think I’ve said it before in a past post, but I’ll say it again. INFERTILITY FORCES YOU TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Plans? What plans? There is no such thing as planning ahead in my life anymore. I’ve always been a planner and always needed to know what I’m going to be doing ahead of time. Infertility has taught me that I don’t always need to plan and I can allow my life to be flexible.

It’s Thursday, 26 November. Thanksgiving! Did I mention that we’re having my family, JM’s family, and our old neighbors Tom and Melissa over for Thanksgiving dinner? No big deal.  It’s only 15 people over our house. My mother offered to cook Thanksgiving dinner at our house since JM and I already had plans to host Christmas dinner this year. Call it a coincidence or perhaps God’s plan. We’ve never had someone else host a holiday at our house. JM and I do our own hosting. Looking back, I’m convinced this was God’s plan. He knew all along we’d have our IUI on Thanksgiving and therefore he had my mom offer to do all the Thanksgiving cooking at my house. Just the thought of this all working out gives me the goosebumps.

JM left the house at 8am to drop off his swimmers to the doctor’s office nearly an hour away from our house and back. My mom didn’t ask where he went, but when it was time for me to leave the house at 930am, she started to ask questions. See? The surprise factor is lost with infertility. I had no choice but to tell her I had to leave to go to the doctor’s for IUI #3.

My procedure was at 1030am. Once again the baby businessman shows me the specimen in the little tube is my husbands, directed to “undress from the waist down,” “scoot forward,” “scoot some more”, “feet up”, and “okay, now lay there for 5 minutes.” I said a little prayer while I laid there this time. Thanksgiving is mine and JM’s holiday. We love this day. I started to convince myself that this is a sign and this IUI is definitely going to work because God knows this is our favorite day of the year.

I got home just 30 minutes before our company was to show up. My mother begins asking me 10 million questions about the procedure and it’s annoying as hell and stressing me out. I simply didn’t want to talk about it and just wanted to enjoy the rest of the day. When our friends Tom and Melissa showed up, I immediately told Melissa I had my last IUI this morning. The look of shock on her face was priceless. She couldn’t believe I had to have it this morning. Then Melissa offered me the most selfless thing anyone can ever offer a friend.

Melissa offered to be our surrogate if it comes down to it. I can’t remember my exact response to her, but I’m pretty sure I shed a couple tears and simply said “thank you” while in a state of shock. I mean, how does anyone respond to that? Suddenly I felt like stress melted off my shoulders. If the issue is truly that I just can’t carry our own child, we have someone very special in our lives willing to do the most selfless act for us just so we can start our family. Of course in return we’d compensate her… and probably make her the godmother. I’m getting ahead of myself now.

I probably should have sat on my ass and watched football the rest of the day, but instead I was on my feet quite a lot to help my mom with the cooking and cleaning up after dinner. Looking back, I probably over did it and if I could do it all over again, I would have relaxed. For the time being, the infamous countdown begins again. We have to go through another two-week wait and count down the days until December 10th.

THIS IS WHAT INFERTILITY IS LIKE

October 29 – November 12, 2015

To make another potentially long post about another failed infertility procedure short, let me give you the cliff-notes version. IUI number two resulted in a negative pregnancy. On 12 November – just 2 days before our 11th annual Friendsgiving, we were filled with more heartache than I care to describe. Rather than reminding myself of the timing of that negative pregnancy test, I thought I’d focus this post a little differently. Earlier, I wrote a post about Infertility Etiquette. This time I thought I’d sum up in one post what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s month after month of hoping and waiting. It’s having friends who start trying a year after you do and birthed that baby while you’re still trying. It’s having friends who weren’t trying. It’s when all your cousins have kids except you. It’s attending baby showers. It’s attending christenings. It’s buying gifts for everyone else’s kids.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s seeing pregnancy announcements on Facebook. It’s getting pregnancy announcements in the mail. It’s getting Christmas cards of your friends’ and cousins’ kids. It’s having friends who are scared to tell you they are pregnant. It’s having friends who don’t have anything to say to you. It’s when you don’t have anything to say to your friends. It’s when you can care less about their kids “first” moments.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s attending get-togethers and being the only non-parents there. It’s trying to hold a conversation by talking about your goddaughter just so you can contribute and relate. It’s babysitting your friends’ babies. It’s babysitting your goddaughter and nephew. It’s shopping in the baby sections of the department story to buy presents for all your friends’ and and cousins’ kids.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s when you have friends who complain it took them 3 months to get pregnant, but it is taking you 3 years. It’s when you have friends and family members who complain how “fat” they look pregnant, but you wish you looked that “fat.” It’s when people complain about the cost of diapers and formula, but that’s only a fraction of what infertility medications cost. It’s when people don’t even “try” to get pregnant, but you’re trying everything.

This is what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s having to constantly answer, “when are you having babies?” It’s being told, “don’t wait too long because it gets harder when you get older.” It’s being told to “just adopt.” It’s being told to “just relax.” It’s being told to “stop thinking about it.” It’s being told “go on vacation and you’ll get pregnant.” It’s having to listen to your mother nag that she wants to be a grandma. It’s having those closest to you forget you had a 7-hour surgery. It’s having loved ones not ask “how are you doing?” It’s having loved ones not acknowledge you raising awareness for others by blogging.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s finding out you have a disease you can’t even pronounce. It’s questioning “why me?” and “why us?” It’s having good days and bad. It’s moments of depression and moments of feeling alone. It’s feeling like you are a “Negative Nancy” around everyone. It’s a ton of unknowns. It’s a period in your life where you begin to question your faith. It’s a path that most will never understand. It’s not knowing when the struggle will end. It’s doing everything you can to get answers.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s going to the gym more often. It’s changing your diet. It’s going gluten free. It’s taking more vitamins than you can count. It’s seeking help from more doctors than you can count on your fingers and toes. It’s putting your feet on dozens of different stirrups. It’s struggling financially. It’s when you’re spending a college tuition to just attempt to get pregnant. It’s injecting hormones. It’s taking more drugs than you care to admit. It’s unwanted acne you hadn’t seen since you were 13. It’s nothing but pills, shots, suppositories, injections, blood work, ultrasounds, surgeries, procedures, and using up your comp leave for doctor appointments. It’s tens of thousands of dollars.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s accommodating so much for a hypothetical baby. It’s having your dreams put on hold. It’s more downs than ups. It’s a constant state of worry. It’s pain. It’s something you don’t wish upon anyone. It’s when you question whether you were supposed to be a mother. It’s questioning if you and your spouse are meant to have children. It’s offering your spouse a free pass to go leave the marriage to find someone else who can have children. It’s discussing alternative plans if children weren’t in the cards. It’s living day by day and not being able to plan ahead.

This is what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s becoming closer to your spouse than you ever were. It’s a ton of hugs and kisses. It’s being able to still have freedom to go anywhere you want around the world. It’s being able to still drink wine. It’s taking your health into your own hands for the better. It’s losing weight and feeling great. It’s being able to focus on remodeling your home. It’s being able to spend more time together as husband and wife.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s seeing a negative pregnancy test over and over, but it’s a reason to hug and cuddle a little closer with your spouse. It’s learning more than you care to know about your body, but for the better. It’s having friends donate your leftover IVF medicines to you. It’s having friends who offer to be your surrogate. It’s getting letters and flowers from family and friends letting you know they are thinking of you. It’s having loved ones bring you a meal on your recovery days. It’s being able to support others who are going through the same struggle. It’s a time when you’ve never prayed harder.

This is my infertility and my reality. This is what I wish no one else ever has to go through.

Bitter Infertile Bitch

October 16 – October 28, 2015

I’m pretty sure yesterday made it #21. Twenty-one negative pregnancy tests. You’d think after 20 negatives I’d begin to get used to it and not let it get to me anymore. Nope. Not true. The 21st time hurt just as much as the 1st – maybe even more. For my readers who are fortunate enough to never experience infertility or have no idea what it’s like, let me tell you something. Infertility often causes women to feel inadequate, especially about their own bodies. As I’m about to begin IUI #2 I feel angry and disappointed with my body because my body is not capable of doing the most basic thing women are created to do.

After I told JM the first IUI didn’t work, I slowly began to tell only a few of my girl friends. I don’t know why I told them. Probably because I just needed to vent. Probably because I needed emotional support. I texted a couple of my girl friends the news. Big mistake. I got the exact opposite of emotional support. If you remember from my Infertility Etiquette post, #10 said don’t voluntarily share your friend’s fertility success stories unless the infertile person asks. What happened today is the reason behind why I posted #10. I know my friend meant well, but after I told her my first attempt at an IUI didn’t work, she texted back telling me one of her friends had success with her first IUI and she got pregnant naturally with her second. I waited an hour before texting back letting her know what she said was inappropriate. At this point, I was more down on myself than before.

I knew the baby-business man said IUIs probably won’t work for me, but he did say there is still a chance. It was my and JM’s decision to do the IUIs rather than jump right into IVF primarily for financial reasons. We’d rather take that small chance of success from an IUI for only a couple hundred dollars rather than take the risk of IVF and wasting $15,000 if an IUI could work. In the meantime, we’re on a spending hiatus and saving as much money as possible to prepare for IVF expenses just in case. Remodeling our home has slowed down, and we’re trying desperately hard to live off one salary and save the other.

On a positive note, my Dad finally moved out of our house a couple days later and into his own apartment. It didn’t take long for Aunt Sally to arrive. She showed up exactly 3 days after my negative pregnancy test. Needless to say, for the start of the second IUI cycle, I wasn’t as excited. I mean, I was ready to move on and get the second cycle started already, but I guess what I really mean is my optimism wasn’t as obvious as the first cycle. I went in to see my baby-business man for the usual morning ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring on Tuesday, 20 October. My baseline levels were all normal and we were ready to move forward with try #2.

Since Clomid did jack crap for me, the doctor put me on a different oral medication called Femara (aka. Letrozole). Again, the meds really didn’t effect my mood at all and I was super grateful for that (as was JM, too). Since my body is like clockwork and I ovulate on day 11 practically every time, my doctor said he didn’t want to see me again until day 9. Woo. I get to enjoy a normal work schedule the rest of the week.

In the meantime, while I waited for day 9 to arrive, I carried on with my normal life. I continued going to the chiropractor 2x that week, and went to my yoga and HIIT gym classes. (Something to note, when you do these fertility treatments, the Doctors don’t want you to do any high-activity during the 2 week wait. For gym-goers… this is super hard to do and rough both physically and mentally.)

On Saturday, JM and I had two weddings to go to… yes two. These two friends are the type of friends we’d never miss their weddings for anything in the world. We were determined to make it to both somehow and are quite proud to say we did it. We drove an hour and a half south to make it to the ceremony and cocktail hour of the first wedding. Since there was the possibility that this weekend was going to be my last weekend being infertile and I couldn’t drink at the other two weddings we went to earlier this month, JM was the designated driver while I enjoyed some wine. Then we drove back north an hour and a half and made it to the reception of the second wedding. What a night.

When we got home that night, JM shared some news he received tonight regarding someone we know. Someone we know intensionally had an abortion.

Jane + wine + hormone drugs + 21 months of infertility = a disaster.

I lost it. Tears just kept pouring down my cheeks. We just had a wonderful night at two different weddings and JM thought it was okay to tell me about someone’s abortion. This news had no place in my life and the person who told JM the news should have known better to not share that information with us. Angry is an understatement and upset doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt that moment. Here I am, as infertile as can be because of my endometriosis. Spending hundreds of dollars, putting my body through all kinds of different tests and drugs and getting prepared to spend thousands to just ATTEMPT to get pregnant. Meanwhile someone we know intensionally had an abortion.

This is the moment where my faith was at its all time lowest.

Four days after the double-header weddings, it was IUI day. I was taking a training course at work and had to head out early for the 2:45pm procedure. First thing when I arrived, the baby-business man confirms with me the specimen that was in the tube was indeed my husband’s swimmers. Once again I hear the usual words, “undress from the waist down,” “scoot forward,” “scoot some more”, “feet up”, and “okay, now lay there for 5 minutes.” *sigh* Just going through the typical IUI motions.

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Once my 5 minutes were up, I get dressed and the nurse informs me that the dreaded 2-week pregnancy test will be on November 12th – two days before my 11th annual “Friendsgiving.” This is kinda a big deal for me. The timing here is critical. For those of you who know us personally know just how much Friendsgiving means to us. This Friendsgiving is either going to be the best one since my engagement or the absolute worst. Here we go again with the dreaded 2-week wait.

PRINCESS AND THE PEE STICK

October 1 – 15, 2015

Ahh. It’s the dreaded two week wait (a.k.a. 2WW). Little did I know this would be the longest 2 weeks of my life. Thankfully I had a lot of plans lined up during these 2 weeks to include a concert, a hair appointment, a lot of chiropractor appointments to reduce stress, and two weddings. There is just one problem, I can’t drink at either of the open bar weddings. I know, #FirstWorldProblems. For a moment I tried to justify that it’s probably okay to “drink till it’s pink,” but I quickly talked myself out of that idea.

JM and I headed out of state for a fun wedding the first weekend of October. During this car ride we had a lot of time to talk about many “what ifs” in the event the IUI worked and I’m pregnant. We didn’t want to keep our hopes up too high, but it was inevitable. We were bound to talk about our future with this hypothetical IUI baby. We figured out that the timing couldn’t be more perfect and we were so excited at the thought of announcing a pregnancy to our family and friends either on Thanksgiving or at our annual Friendsgiving. For those of you who don’t know us personally, JM and I met at my annual Friendsgiving 2 years before we started dating and he also proposed at my annual Friendsigiving in front of 60 of our closest family and friends. For a moment I was convinced this was God’s plan and he wanted us to be able to celebrate and announce the news on our most favorite day of the year.

Since the out-of-state wedding was a very casual southern wedding and I knew the bride and groom had stocked the open bar with beer and wine. I decided to bring a bottle of non-alcoholic wine with me to disguise the possibility of me being prego. Genius, I know. After the ceremony, JM went out to the car and put the bottle of wine in his suit jacket. He handed the bottle to the bartender and asked her to only serve me that bottle. Our plan worked like a charm. No one questioned me, and I was seen “drinking” with my college girls the entire night.

By the fifth day into my 2WW, I began to scrutinize and over-analyze every feeling. Even if it was something that happened every single day, suddenly I found myself asking if it’s pregnancy symptoms. It is a terrible mind game and complete torture. Once again, I began another round of obsessive Googling. Looking back, I now find my Googling humorous, but I’m certain many women can relate and have done the same. For your entertainment, below are some of the mind games I threw into Google:

  1. All of a sudden I noticed a funny smell. In fact, I smell everything. My sense of smell has taken over. I must be pregnant.
  2. OMG my stomach is grumbling. It’s bubbling. I must be pregnant.
  3. I feel cramps. Is that my period coming or is that a sign of implantation?
  4. I don’t have implantation spotting. Does this mean I’m not pregnant?
  5. How soon can I take a pregnancy test during my 2WW?
  6. I went to bed at 8PM. I’m tired. I must be pregnant.
  7. I went to bed two nights in a row at 8PM. I must be pregnant.

And the ridiculous list of questions goes on. Get my point?

On day 9 of my 2WW, JM and I had date night plans to see Megan Hilty perform at this really cute and intimate 300-person concert hall. Some of you may remember her as Ivy Lynn from the TV show “Smash” or Glinda from Wicked. This was my second time seeing her perform. She ended her show with “Rainbow Connection” and dedicated it to her baby daughter. I lost it. Absolutely freggin’ lost it. My face was drenched from my tears. I could see in the corner of my eye JM’s head turned towards me realizing I was a mess and put his arm around me. Once again, hormones have taken over.

The next day, (day 10 of my 2WW) JM and I have another wedding to go to, making it the second this month. It was a gorgeous day and thankfully it was a small wedding consisting of only a couple of my closest friends in attendance. Since the wedding was about 45 minutes from our home, JM and I decided the best way to cover up my possible pregnancy by not drinking is to tell my girls I am the designated driver this time. I ordered a virgin mojito very early into the afternoon, clearly making it look as if I was actually drinking the real thing. The excuse worked like a charm. Even though I was the “designated driver,” I still ordered only one glass of red wine to disguise my non-drinking and pretended to take a couple sips with the fabulous steak dinner.

I have to say, pretending I’m not pregnant was not as hard as I thought it was going to be after all!

The next day I began brainstorming ways I can surprise JM with the news if it turns out the IUI worked. I came up with some really special ideas (ideas I won’t blog about because I do hope to be able to do this one day). I Googled ways other women have told their husbands and quickly ruled out all the cliche announcements and unoriginal ideas. The thought of the surprise announcement gets me so excited. A little too excited. Perhaps at this point I started to work myself up with too much hope. Again, I become obsessed with the idea this IUI worked.

Two days before my blood pregnancy test at my doctor’s office I cracked. One of the rules my fertility doctor and nurses stressed many times is to not do any at-home pregnancy tests before my actual blood test. Apparently the different hormone drugs can give false positive or negative results and the only true way to get an accurate result is a blood test. Although I had a 50 pack of the cheap pee stick tests, I decided I should upgrade and get a “more accurate” fancy pee-stick test just to be safe. I just couldn’t wait anymore and went to the pharmacy and bought (for the very first time mind you) a “real” pregnancy test. I had never bought one before. And yes, yes I had to read the directions on how to take the test.

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There is this fine line with hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I thought if anything else, this at-home pregnancy test is preparing me for the bad news. Just when I thought a 2-week wait was going by so slow, waiting 2-minutes for the center of the stick to show me one or two lines was dragging. When the 2-minutes were up, I look at the stick to see what appeared to be one line. This can’t be. There is no way. The doctor injected my husband’s swimmers as close as possible to my egg and I’m still not pregnant?

Then I did what you probably think I did. I tried squinting, holding the pee stick up against the light, and balanced myself on my bathroom vanity sink to try to get closer to the light. All this to see if there is a possible faint second line that is mostly invisible to the naked eye, but possibly present. Still no second line. I throw the stupid $10 stick in the trash bin and move on with my day, resolving that it’s probably indeed too early to test anyways and tell myself I’ll try again in a few hours. I must admit, I tortured myself a bit throughout the day by returning to the trash bin every hour for the rest of the day in case the second line appeared on the stick.

Later that night and even the next morning before my blood test I continued to torture myself with two more pregnancy tests, but these times using the cheap sticks. It’s official. Confirmed. I mentally prepared myself enough to know that the IUI did not work and I’m not pregnant. $300 down the drain.

I go in for my blood pregnancy test in the morning knowing this is wasting my time. I was far from excited about taking this test. However, even though I prepared myself by taking the home pregnancy tests knowing it’s possible all three tests were false negatives, there was still an ounce of me that held onto hope. This 2WW thing is terrible for my mind and all these mind games. My mind was obviously focused on this all day. It was all I could think about. Finally, at around 2PM I get a call from my assigned nurse and she informs me I’m not pregnant and to stop taking the progesterone suppositories. She continues to tell me that I should get my period in about 3 days and to call when I get it so we can move forward with IUI try number two. Even though I knew before the blood test I wasn’t pregnant, the news I just heard over the phone destroyed me. Tears fell down my cheeks. I quickly grab a tissue off my desk at work and turn my chair so that no one else in the office could see me sobbing. Once I managed to get myself together, I continued on with my work day and no one knew the news I just received moments ago.

JM didn’t know I had my blood pregnancy test on October 15th. He had softball in the evening and I decided to wait to tell him the bad news until after he got home. I didn’t want him to know today was the day of the test because if it was positive results, I wanted to be able to surprise him with the good news. However, since the news was negative, I was upset he wasn’t home to be there to comfort me and it killed me I was about to cause him some heartache. To fill the time until JM would be home, I decided to go to the gym that night and let my emotions and frustrations out with a high intensity class.  Oh, and I had a glass of red wine… maybe two, because in a few days I’ll be repeating the IUI process all over again.

TESTING, DIAGNOSIS, AND SURGERY… OH MY!

June 29, 2015

It’s Monday and like every woman in the world, the way we want to start off the week is by going to the OBGYN…. said no woman ever. It’s my follow-up appointment after the ultrasound. I’ve been so anxious to hear the official results from my doctor and next steps. Like I said, I’m type-A and I want to get this all fixed and figured out so I can move on and start a family.

It turns out endometriosis is not that simple at all. It’s not curable unless I want a hysterectomy – which is totally not an option at this stage of my life. My OBGYN confirmed that the ultrasound showed what looks like endometriomas on my ovaries. Endometriomas are what is also known as “chocolate cysts” on the ovary. (How disgusting!) It’s a benign cyst that can cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

Immediately I had so many questions. Why was this never diagnosed before? Why am I just now experiencing pain? How did I get this disease? How do I get rid of this pain? Is there something I did to get this? Is there something I can do naturally to get rid of it? Will I ever be able to give my husband (4) children? Is this why my period is suddenly so painful? Will I pass this down to my daughter (if I can even have a daughter)? Why aren’t ultrasounds part of a routine annual check-up? Was this inherited? Do I blame my Mom or Dad for this? Why me?

My OBGYN explains to me in greater detail what endometriosis is. Basically it’s the uterine lining growing outside the uterus. So every time I get my period, not only is my uterus bleeding, but all the lining outside my uterus is bleeding as well. Again, W.T.F? She said typically it’s on the outer surface of the uterus, but can grow and spread on the ovaries, abdomen, bladder, colon, and in extreme cases it can be found in the lungs. However, she doesn’t know the extent of how much it has spread until she performs laparoscopic surgery.

SURGERY? I’ve never had surgery before in my life. I’m Jane and healthy! Jane and surgery do not belong in the same sentence. Not at the age of 31! Suddenly I start thinking dollars. My health insurance has a $3k deductible. I make a mental note that I should anticipate this being a couple grand out of pocket since we still haven’t met our deductible and then it’s 20% out of pocket after the deductible and coinsurance.

All of a sudden I find myself developing a whole new vocabulary. I ask my doctor how in the world I could possibly get this disease. She explains that the cause is unknown but studies have found that it is inherited. Apparently I was just born with these cells outside my uterus. Again, the fertility Gods forgot about me. She also said that birth control likely saved me from my ovaries and fallopian tubes being completely scared and destroyed (HA! Take that, Mom and church!) Apparently birth control suppresses the endometriosis growth since typically a period is light and short when on birth control. Since I’ve been off of birth control for a year and a half, my cycle is now longer and heavier causing the endometrial tissue to grow and spread.

My doctor and I decide to move forward with scheduling a laparoscopic surgery. The intension is to either (a) remove the endometrial tissue or (b) drain the cysts. However, we won’t know what the outcome will look like until she gets in there with the camera. My OBGYN said she will do everything possible to save my ovaries since I’m looking to get pregnant (UMMM yea lady. I kinda need those things if I want to make a baby with my own eggs!) She said I should hear from the hospital scheduler this week with a date for my surgery – which my doctor anticipates will be sometime in July. This conversation was going great until my doctor said she will want her partner OBGYN there for the surgery as well because of the size of my cysts.

Now I’m beginning to freak out and I ask my doctor why its necessary to have two highly skilled doctors there. This is where I wish JM came with me to the appointment. JM is seriously the most calm human being I’ve ever met in my life and suddenly I find that I really wish he was here with me to calm down my nerves.

I’m trying to listen to her but everything at this point was in one ear and out the other. My mind is racing, panicking and thinking that this is now serious if she wants the other doctor there performing the surgery with her. I ask my doctor at what point should I start seeing a fertility specialist (aka reproductive endocrinologist). She suggested that if I’m still not pregnant within six months after having surgery then I should see a specialist. SIX MONTHS? That’s way too long. I mentally make a note to myself to call one tomorrow to make a consultation.

I’ve never had surgery before. I’ve been blessed to be very healthy my whole life. I’ve never had a damn thing wrong with me except childhood asthma and a dairy allergy. I look down at the floor and suddenly remind myself “oh, and this stupid stress fracture.” AUGH. This is now all of a sudden turning into a summer of hell. I’m dealing with infertility, a fractured foot, endometriosis, and now I need surgery. What could possibly be next?

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU THE GOOSIES #NIAW

April 25, 2016

Let me preface this with a clear message that this is a one-off post. I should probably start off by explaining why I jumped from my last post date of June 2015 to today. Don’t worry, I will fill in the blanks. Something happened yesterday afternoon and just had to write a post explaining. I know what you are all thinking. No, #ImNotPregnant #Yet Trust me, I’m way more creative than choosing to announce a pregnancy on a blog. 🙂

It always catches me by surprise when the stars align, when things happen coincidentally, or when things are “meant to be.” It never gets old. Remember last week when I launched my blog and in my “About Me” post  I said I’m doing this to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and to let those struggling with it also know that they are not alone? So, yesterday someone in a Facebook (FB) group I’m on posted a link to Resolve – The National Infertility Association. I heard of Resolve, but just simply never had time to dig into what it’s all about. (No offense, Resolve!) Well, they announced yesterday it was the first day of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).

WELL CALL ME PSYCHIC!!! Call it a coincidence!! Seriously people, what are the odds that I launched my blog just last week – the week before it’s NIAW?  And get this… the theme is #StartAsking. Did I not just post about all my internal questions in my diagnosis post? I’m going to call this coincidence with a side of “meant to be.” I had no idea that NIAW was even a thing, but let me tell you I instantly got the goosies when found out. After I saw the post, I did what I habitually always do; naturally, I texted my husband right away. His response was “it needs to be more than a week in my opinion.” What a guy, I tell ya!

IMG_5115

Call me selfish or perhaps my upcoming ask is purely a shameless request. I’m a former New Yorker and honestly don’t care. You guys know I created this blog to raise awareness. Well, I’m asking for your help. So many of you have left some incredibly kind and thoughtful messages – both publicly and privately – since I launched my blog, and what’s even more amazing is that a number of you decided to “come out” and share your personal infertility stories with me. I had no idea this blog could have that kind of impact right away. (I think I just measured my first “measure of effectiveness.” Only a select few will get that nerdy joke.) Well, I want to raise even more awareness beyond my inner FB circle and family. I mean, after all I did make this blog public so it can reach those at a distance. So, here’s my selfish request… help me spread awareness!

Perhaps making this post at almost 9pm on a Monday night won’t make it go viral, but let me break this down for you using my #MathNerd skills. I didn’t major in math for nothin’.

I have 700 FB friends. The average number of FB friends people have is nearly 340, according to Pew Research in 2014 (like what I did there?). About two-thirds of FB users access FB daily. So, let me simplify this for you. If 467 of my friends (that’s 2/3rds of my total, you non-math folks) spread my blog onto their page, then 2/3rds of their friends (226 people) spread it onto their page, we’re looking at my story reaching over 105k people in one day with just 2-degrees of separation. Now, don’t ask me to calculate the confidence interval on this. Let’s just fudge it + or – 5%.

I may not be the best writer, in fact I majored in math because I’m a terrible speller, a slow reader, and never enjoyed writing. Yet, here I am out of my comfort zone blogging. Sometimes we just have to step out and do things to make a difference even if it’s a little out of our element.

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week, y’all!

INFERTILITY ETIQUETTE

There are a ton of articles out there on what to say or not to say to someone dealing with infertility. It’s pretty obvious there are people out there who have never taken the time to google this information. Therefore, I decided to compose my own version of what the etiquette should be when a fertile person is dealing with an infertile person. These things are what have bothered me the most over the last two years. And, if you are sitting here thinking “have I said that?” the answer is yes – most likely you did at some point to some couple close to you in your life.

First and foremost, I know that whenever any of my family or friends tries to offer their words of wisdom for my struggles with fertility, they have my best interest at heart. I also know that no matter who you are, you are trying to be helpful and supportive. But truth be known, these words of wisdom suck and are unintentionally hurtful. Nobody knows the pain of infertility than the couple actually going through it.

Dealing with infertility is a very sensitive issue for any couple. The emotions can range from feeling like a failure one minute, to worrying about the future the next, to being optimistic, to feeling hopeless. You never know when a “baby challenged” couple could be worried about money and insurance bills, or what part of a fertility treatment process they are in. The emotions and hormones are running high. You just never know. A couple going through this is at the most emotional and vulnerable stages of their relationship.

Since many of you may not understand or be aware of what can be unintentionally hurtful to couples dealing with infertility, I have put together the following list to help out.
(1) Don’t Ask. Ever. Don’t ever ask when a couple is going to have kids, when they plan to have kids, or why they haven’t had kids yet. One day, you may ask that question to the wrong couple. And future grandparents, stop begging for grandbabies because you don’t know what your own children could be going through if they aren’t open about their sex life to you just yet.
(2) Please, no advice. Trust me. A infertile couple isn’t listening to your advice no matter what you say. And quite frankly, your advice to “stop trying” or “just relax” or “go on vacation” doesn’t help at all. Have you ever said to someone battling cancer that they should “just relax”? I doubt it, and honestly those aren’t the words that should be said to someone with the disease called infertility either. Infertile couples need to focus on themselves and their own situation, and ultimately we have our doctors to help us with our specific situation.
(3) If you’re pregnant, don’t complain. (Unless you want to get bitchslapped.) There are women out there who would die to have a pregnant belly, who want to feel morning sickness, and who want to feel fat. I can’t tell you how many of my pregnant friends have complained about being pregnant…. right to my face…. knowing JM and I are having baby making issues. Think for a minute about what you are saying before you say it, and don’t tell me you have “prego-brain” as the excuse.

(4) Don’t tell us we could always adopt. Adoption isn’t even in our vocabulary – at least not until we’ve exhausted every option with our own egg and sperm first. And, don’t offer this as a suggestion to an infertile couple before any infertility treatments are performed yet. Adoption is a huge decision. I don’t know about you, but do you have $40k just laying around to adopt someone else’s child? In the end, adoption or deciding not to have children is a decision the couple makes together. End of story.

(5) If you find out you’re pregnant or a mutual friend is pregnant, please put it in an email and be ultra sensitive about it. To be clear, it’s not that someone struggling with infertility can’t be happy for others, it’s that they consider themselves failures or can’t show the joy instantly. I don’t hate any pregnant woman, I just hate her uterus.  I’ll never forget when someone called to tell me they are pregnant just as we were starting all of our tests. Not only did they deliver that news over the phone, but they had the audacity to tell me they weren’t even trying – knowing full well JM and I have been trying for a year. Think people. Think. An email from this person would have allowed me the time to appropriately process the news and deal with my feelings privately.

(6) Don’t ask us if we’ve tried X, Y, Z. Nothing is more annoying than when people ask an infertile couple if they’ve tried this test, or that test. The answer is “yes.” Baby challenged couples are trying everything possible as directed by their doctors and as directed by their bank account and insurance.

(7) Stay away from the phrase “It will all work out.” You might think this is comforting, but honestly – we know you have nothing better to say. These words are actually quite hurtful. When I tell people I’m unable to get pregnant, people always respond with “it’ll happen,” or “you’re so young” or “your day will come.” You know what? Stop. And just let us know you’re praying for us.

(8) Don’t underestimate the devastation of each cycle. Every cycle that goes by every month, many hopes and dreams (and dollars) were tied to that cycle – in addition to blood and tears. Understand that your infertile friend or family members need time to mourn the lost opportunity of getting pregnant.

(9) Stop asking about it. Some days are harder to talk about it than others. It’s best to let the baby challenged couple pick their own moments to discuss their situation or struggles and how they are feeling. Sometimes that couple needs a distraction and it’s the last thing they want to talk about.

(10) Finally, don’t ever voluntarily tell your friend of a friend’s fertility success stories unless the infertile couple specifically asks. I’ll never forget when I told one of my girl friends that I didn’t want any advice, words of comfort, or sympathy, but just to know that we had found out our first attempt at an IUI failed. Her response was to tell me one of her friend’s first IUI attempt worked AND that she just got pregnant a second time naturally. Well, $#!T ON ME. We infertile people don’t care, don’t want to care, and seriously, now is not the time to tell me how others successfully got pregnant. Don’t ever offer to share a fertility treatment success story unless we ask for it.

Since I covered all the “Don’t’s” I think I should also cover the “Do’s.” There is only one rule for the Do’s….. Do be supportive. That’s it. Nothing else. It’s simple. Just let your infertile friend know you’re there for them, happily offer any distractions, bring them a meal the day they find out a fertility procedure didn’t work, take them to get a pedicure or grab dinner, and just let them know you are praying for them. Fertility challenged women don’t always want to talk about their fertility issues and quite honestly, we prefer not to sometimes just so we can avoid the possibility of crying.  We “baby challenged” people just need love, support, distractions, encouragement and a ton of prayers (if that’s your thing). Being supportive is really the most helpful thing you can do.

RUNNING A RACE

February – May, 2015

While I was busy getting my initial blood work tests and HSG done, JM was directed to do a semen analysis. I should never doubt how supportive my husband is, but I was mentally ready for him to push back on wanting to get his swimmers tested. Hearing anything bad about your swimmers is probably the last thing any man wants to hear. Ladies, let me tell you – if your man does not want to get his swimmers tested, then he is a coward. I couldn’t be more proud of JM wanting to figure out if there could possibly be something wrong.

JM was all in. He was ready to find out if there was anything wrong with him since clearly everything is fine with me. I was so proud of him, but yet in the back of my mind I’m convinced that he’s the one to blame why we can’t get pregnant. Yes. I said it. Blame.

Mid-February, JM went in and gave the fertility specialists a sample (which costs a whopping $150 because insurance doesn’t cover it!) and in less than a week we got the results in. JM’s swimmers were not swimming to win a race. Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little bit. But that turns out it’s the only issue – they aren’t as fast as they should be, but overall everything else about his swimmers were fine. My OBGYN recommended JM go see a urologist who specializes in fertility. So, that’s what JM did. To make a 4-month long story very short, from February until May JM went to a few appointments, got his swimmers checked out again, and as it turns out he’s rated an A-. Pretty darn good.

NOW WHAT?!

Of course, this left us in total confusion. So, my hormones are fine. My tubes are completely open. And JM’s swimmer’s are an A-. What did the urologist advise? “Just give it some more time and come back and see me in 3 months if you still aren’t pregnant.” I, on the other hand, wasn’t buying it. There has to be something wrong. “They” say, that 90-something percent of couples are able to get pregnant within the first year of trying. At this point it has been one year and three months and we’re still not knocked up.

THE PRETTIEST PICTURE

February 16, 2015 – $365 later – I was able to get my first set of blood work tests done shortly after our infertility consultation. Thankfully, all of my hormone levels were completely normal. First test for Jane = Success.

I was also able to get an appointment in for my Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) really quickly and nice and early before work. The exam was rather… errr…. interesting. You’re laying flat on this exam table, the doctor injects a dye into your woo-ha and then uses a balloon to push the dye through so it flows into your fallopian tubes – or at least that’s what you hope and want to happen. You can watch this all happen on the TV monitor at the same time. It’s fascinating, really. This was the first exam I ever did where I could see my inner lady parts. I mean, I have an idea what it’s supposed to look like by textbook photos, but never seen my own.

Thankfully all of the dye circulated through my tubes – meaning my tubes were completely open and normal. After the procedure was done, I said to the nurse how cool it was to be able to watch that on the screen. Her reply back to me was, “your picture is one of the pretty pictures I’ve ever seen.”….. Insert awkwardness here. Or perhaps that was a bizarre compliment? Whatever it was, I’m just thankful there is nothing wrong with my tubes. Second test for Jane = Success.

Obviously with my two tests being normal, the answer was obvious – there has to be something wrong with my husband and his swimmers. Clearly that’s the answer.