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.

HowBabiesMade

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.

pee

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.

NOTES FROM THE STIRRUPS

September 6 – 30 , 2015

JM and I just got back from our very needed 8-day Dominican Republic vacation celebrating our 3-year anniversary. Yes, 3-years. Already. Two years too long baby-less. We made it a point to drink a lot of “mama wannas,” which is a famous liquor shot in the DR. I took it upon myself and nicknamed it “mama wanna-be’s.”

We were not ready to return to reality. However, finally our reality was heading in a positive direction. While we were away, my brother Tyler took care of a bunch of things for our Dad. Tyler got him a lease for an apartment literally 1-mile from my house in my housing development for the 55+ starting mid-October. This location could not be more perfect for JM and I, but more importantly for my father.

Besides my dad’s situation heading in a positive direction, we were less than 2-weeks away from my September period cycle starting. I have mixed feelings about this because JM and I were secretly hoping my period wouldn’t come. We were hoping we were “relaxed” enough on our vacation and the baby gods were in our favor. TMI? Sorry. Not sorry. I’m just pointing out the lame advice everyone gave us.

Relax

In the meantime while we waited for my period to arrive, JM and I had to take an hour-long IUI class on September 10th. If you’re wondering, yes, it was at 1030AM in the middle of our work day. Very convenient. Not! See, the thing is, this class was foreshadowing what’s to come. Looking back, I should have taken this class as a sign that I will need to be patient, flexible, and prepared to have my work schedule interrupted constantly for appointments and doctor phone calls. This class was all about how to give self injections. There was no way I was going to do the injections myself. Nope. Not happening. There is a reason why I did not major in the medical field and needles is on the top of my list of reasons why. I don’t mind when someone is taking my blood or giving me shots. I just can’t look at the needle going in me. From this point forward, JM earned a new title. He’s now my “injection administrator.”

Remember in my last post on “Project Parenthood” I talked about the blood test JM and I did to see if we are carriers of over 200 different recessive diseases? Well, the day after our IUI class we received our results. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous opening up the results. The last thing we wanted was more bad news. It turns out that once again JM’s results are just fine and perfect. I, on the other hand, received a shock of a lifetime. I’m not just a carrier of some extremely rare recessive disease, I freggin’ HAVE one of those recessive diseases on the list. I couldn’t believe it. For sure I thought they sent me someone else results.

It turns out I have Biotinidase Deficiency. Thankfully it’s a highly-treatable, but inherited disease in which the body cannot process the vitamin biotin. However, if left untreated it can cause seizures, poor muscle tone, difficulty with movement and balance, vision and/or hearing loss, skin rashes, breathing problems, fungal infections, and delayed mental development. Here’s the good news about all this though, I’ve been taking biotin supplement pills daily for the last 7+ years. Seven years ago, I noticed my hair was starting to thin out and my nails simply would not grow. After doing research on natural ways to fix this problem, I started taking biotin. It turns out I was actually treating myself all these years without knowing it! Going forward, I just have to take biotin for the rest of my life. The odds of passing it down to my future child is 1 in 450. My doctor was just as shocked to hear I have this recessive disease and commented that he would have never guessed it since I have such long, luscious, and healthy hair. I immediately called Tyler to tell him my recent diagnosis so he can decide whether or not to get tested, too. There is a 25% chance he could have it as well.

Back to my baby-issues….It turns out we didn’t get pregnant during our vacation despite the advice I got from countless number of people who said “just relax and it will happen.” Lets be real. We seriously have never been so excited for my period to start. It’s September 18th and it’s go time. Project parenthood just got real. Like real real. Except, there is just one small thing… JM, my Dad, Tyler and I are all headed down to my father’s condo 7.5 hours away to officially move his stuff to my our home. I immediately call my baby-business doctor and thankfully I don’t have to go in to see him until the 3rd day of my period which makes it Monday, September 21st. Woo. We’re in the clear.

Fast forward to Monday. I arrived to what felt like as if I walked into this exclusive club. I decided to call it “TTCC” — Trying To Conceive Club — for blood and ultrasound monitoring. It’s like I’m in line at the deli counter. Basically what happens (at least for my specific office) is you come in to the TTCC anytime between 7-9AM. First, you get your blood drawn to baseline your hormone levels, and then you go into a separate room and kick up your heels into those lovely stirrups for a vaginal ultrasound with either the ultrasound technician or the baby businessman (a.k.a Reproductive Endocrinologist or RE). The key things they measure are your uterine lining thickness, follicle count, and in my specific case, my endometriomas. Then my nurse handed me a prescription for Clomid which I was to start taking tonight and for the next 5 days. This appointment was all of 20 minutes and quick. The negative part after my appointment is now I have to deal with rush-hour traffic to work. Typically I leave for work by 6:30AM, but leaving after my morning monitoring appointment around 7:30AM doubles my commute time. Thank. God. For. Coffee. I try not to let this stress me out and just enjoy my morning coffee and a good morning radio show while creeping in traffic. The last thing I need right now during my first-ever IUI cycle is stress.

When I got to work, I decided to let my boss know what is going on. My boss knows I like to be early in and early out at work, and I didn’t want her to be concerned seeing me come in late and leaving late over the next two weeks. The conversation went really really well and thankfully she’s very supportive. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Looking back, there is no way I could have had these sporadic medical appointments with my previous job. After the conversation with my current boss, it was confirmation that I made the right choice to leave my last job for this position primarily so I could focus on our pursuit of baby journey. I absolutely made the right choice.

Later that afternoon, I got a follow-up phone call with my assigned nurse at the baby business. She informs me that all my hormone levels are normal, and reminds me to start the Clomid that night. I’ve been told from some of my mommy friends who have PCOS that Clomid made them super hormonal and emotional. I mentally prepared to be hormonal this week and gave JM a fair warning.

My nurse also let me know that she put an order into the special fertility pharmacy for Bravelle and Ovidrel and should expect a call from them today. Let me be upfront about something. My health insurance does not cover any fertility injections at all. This is going to be paid completely out of pocket. We’re already going to be paying 20% for our IUI costs – which we knew would cost us a couple hundred, but we have no idea what to expect to pay for the injection medicines. I made up some random number in my head just so I’m mentally prepared when I get the call that I’ll be paying a lot.

Later that evening, I got a call from the fertility pharmacy. It turns out the two single-dose injection medicines were only $128. Sure, that dollar figure sucks, but it was much less than what I was prepared to pay out of pocket. The delivery was set for overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting packages in the mail, but never did I think I’d be so excited to get fertility meds in the mail. Ever.

The 8 days were nothing but more morning blood work and ultrasound appointments – to include a 7:30AM Saturday morning appointment 45 minutes away from my house. One thing I learned from this experience is that you absolutely have to be willing to be flexible and expect the unexpected appointments – even on weekends. It’s part of the process. It felt like we were taking baby steps, literally, to get to the actual IUI procedure. I must admit, I took Clomid like a champ. I didn’t feel any change in my mood and JM even commented that he didn’t notice a difference with my mood either. That was certainly a relief for the both of us. As I got closer and closer to ovulation, my appointments became daily. I’d lay there in the stirrups watching my uterine lining get ticker and follicles get bigger. On my last monitoring appointment, I observe that I’ll definitely be ovulating from my right side.

On a side note, JM never came with me to any of these appointments. There was no point for him to ever be there. I don’t know why, but I found it hilarious when I saw the male partners present for their future-baby-mama’s morning monitoring appointments. To each their own, but I just don’t get it. Perhaps some women need more support than others, but I was not going to waste more of JM’s time than I already have these last 2 years trying to get knocked up to give him the baby he deserves.

When it was time for my plumbing parts to ovulate, JM had to give me what’s called a “trigger shot” (otherwise known as the drug Ovidrel). Basically this shot times exactly when I’ll ovulate — 36 hours to be exact.

My life sure isn’t boring right now. It’s September 30th and it’s time to make a baby… at precisely 2:45PM! I went to work like it was any other normal day, except lets be honest – I was distracted. No one at work knew I was going through this process except for two people – my boss and one other coworker who I’ve quickly bonded with over the last couple of months. I couldn’t keep this exciting secret to myself. I was bursting with excitement knowing what was going to happen at 2:45PM and I was even more excited that my coworker was excited for me. This support system certainly made things a bit easier for me.  I had this IUI on my mind the whole day. The clock ticked ever so slowly. JM had to drop off his prized specimen two hours before the actual IUI so they could clean his swimmers. So when the clock turned 12:45, I knew he was probably arriving with the better half of our future baby… in a brown paper bag. Literally.

I arrive on time for my 2:45PM appointment. Alone. I didn’t ask JM to be there, but looking back, I probably should have asked him to be there. At least that way he could feel like he was present for when his future child was possibly conceived. For the last and final time, I put my feet up into the stirrups. The baby-making salesman shows me a little tube and paper containing information assuring me that the specimen that is about to go inside me is indeed my husband’s. The RE explains to me what he’s about to do with a foot-long catheter and what it will feel like. The IUI procedure literally takes all of 10 seconds to do. I’m not even exaggerating. The RE inserts the typical metal speculum and then inserts the catheter directly into the uterus. Then, I felt this ever so slight cramping sensation. Next he injects JM’s swimmers into the catheter and afterwards removes the catheter and tells me to remain laying on the table with my legs closed for 5 minutes. So, all those blood and ultrasound appointments, and all those drugs and needles…. just for a 10 second procedure. This. Better. Work.

IUI

After my 5-minutes is up, I decide to remain laying down for one extra minute for good luck. After I got dressed, I met with my nurse to go over “next steps.” At this point, I’m told to not do anything strenuous for the next few days and I most certainly cannot do my HIIT class. Even though I’m done with the injections and Clomid, I now need to take progesterone suppositories 2 times a day up until my pregnancy test in 2 weeks. These are going to be the longest 2 weeks of my life. My pregnancy test is scheduled for October 15th – which seems like months away.

Progesterone

Upon leaving the office, I pause for a moment before starting my car. I say a prayer to everyone and anyone I know looking down on JM and I and pray that this IUI works. Only time will tell. In 2 weeks.

I’ll tell you one thing about this whole IUI process — it doesn’t take two to tango! Never did I think it would take roughly a dozen people (and counting) between my legs to knock me up. Get your head out the gutter people. I’m taking about a dozen different doctors, nurses, ultrasound technicians, and my husband. And, never did I ever think I’d get knocked up with my feet in stirrups. There is nothing about this process that is glamorous, but I will absolutely never ever forget it.

PROJECT PARENTHOOD

July 31 – August 31, 2015

Don’t ever get me wrong. Being a DINK couple does have its benefits. You heard me right. We’re DINKs. A Duel Income No Kids kind of couple. It’s July 31st. Four days after my surgery and my period came right on time. It’s go time for us.

JM and I decided to move full speed ahead so we can start our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) ASAP. However, before we do, our Reproductive Endocrinologist aka. RE aka “Baby Salesman” had a laundry list of things we needed to do before we could start with any fertility procedures. All these things, of course, require more money out of our pocket since we still have not hit our out-of-pocket maximum with our insurance. On a separate note, our 3-year wedding anniversary is coming up over Labor Day weekend and we have every intension to continue our tradition of going on a nice vacation to celebrate. We were not going to let some doctors’ appointments or anything else stop us from continuing our tradition. See? Being a DINK has its advantages.

Four days after my surgery, I still didn’t feel fully recovered, but I felt well enough to take care of some things at my rental property to get it prepared for a tenant turn-over in a couple days. More importantly, I felt well enough to start knocking some things off of the Baby Salesman’s “to-do” list. One thing he wanted me to do was update my blood work and set a new baseline for my hormones, thyroid, test for auto-immune diseases, and vitamin D since it has been over 6 months since the last time I had these tests done. I’m sure there was some more items on that list and I simply can’t remember. Separately, my RE also requires all patients – both male and female – to have blood work for all sexually transmitted diseases. I went ahead to a local blood lab and was shocked to see they literally had to take 7… yes 7 different vials of blood from me. It’s beyond me why they needed so much, but after I saw a 4-page printout containing my results for every test, I can see why now they needed 7 freggin’ tubes of my blood.

The Baby Business office had me come in August 4th to test my day-3 hormone levels and ultrasound. Little did I know that this day would forever mark the day I officially became the “stirup queen!” As the RE is doing the ultrasound, he’s measuring everything – my uterine lining, follicle count and size… and my ovary cysts. After listening to my RE, I start panicking internally. This time I really was ovary-acting. He tells me the measurement of my cysts. They are pretty much only a centimeter smaller than what they were before my surgery. This is just fabulous. My OBGYN’s idea of draining my cysts did jack crap – except eliminate my pain. (But, honestly, I’m convinced becoming a glutard is really what eliminated my pain. I’ll get more into that later.)

On August 7th, JM and I had an appointment to get a 2nd opinion from a different Baby Business to see what they thought about our situation. Really, we just wanted to know if another RE also thought IVF was truly our only option or if we have any chance at pregnancy with an IUI. This appointment lasted a little over 90 minutes, and we left… disappointed. Disappointed because we heard what we didn’t want to hear. Long story short, the 2nd opinion RE said the same thing as our primary RE. Once again, we listened to the words of “IVF is our only hope” and “IUI’s likely will not work.” Oh, and a “Good luck and if you change your mind, I’d love to be your chosen doctor.” OF COURSE YOU WOULD! YOU WOULD JUST LOVE OUR $15,000, NOW WOULD’T YOU!?!?!?!

This wasn’t exactly how JM and I wanted to start off our weekend, so we decided to make some “us” time and do a date night. Plus, we needed a breather and something to get us prepared for the upcoming week. Lets not forget that my Dad is still living with us and we’re still caring for him watching his health. In just 3 days, my Dad is going to have prostate surgery. Just when I’m finally recovering from my own surgery, we now have to help him recover from a surgery next week. It. Just. Doesn’t. End. Now I’m probably sounding like a babbling bitch, huh?

Moving on.

During the week of my Dad’s surgery, I had my 2-week surgery follow-up appointment with my vagina doctor (aka. OBGYN). She checked over my incisions, and did a lovely exam – making it the 2nd time I’ve had to encounter a date with the stirrups this month. Then my vagina doctor did what I feared… she showed me the photos that she took during my operation and went over in greater detail the damage my stage 4 endometriosis has done to my pelvic region. Not to mention, she also went over what she was not able to do to help me. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my OBGYN and I know she wished she could have done more for me, but I was not her biggest fan during this hour.

On August 18th, JM and I had a follow-up appointment with our Baby Salesman to go over all of our blood work results, my ultrasound, and discuss a “plan” going forward. The good news is that all of our blood work for all hormones, vitamin and nutrient levels, diseases and STDs came back completely normal. Besides my cysts, my ultrasound was completely normal. You’d think we weren’t baby-challenged with such great results. We are now ready to put all these tests behind us and move forward with a plan. We explain to the RE that we are going to the Dominican Republic for our anniversary next week, but as soon as my period starts after we get back, we will be ready to start our first IUI.

The only thing we had left to do before our first IUI were two more things. I needed to have my annual pap and an optional blood work to test to see if we are carriers of 200 major, but rare, recessive diseases. We decided to take care of both things two days later. This made it my 3rd time having a date with some stirrups this month. (See? Stirrup Queen!) Trust me, I was getting really tired of seeing my OBGYN and I told her that I didn’t want to see her again unless I was getting fat and pregnant. In the meantime, JM and I decided, “why not” and lets go ahead and pay the $99 for the recessive disease blood tests for peace of mind. Since apparently IVF may be our only option, the technology is out there so that if we are both carriers of a major recessive disease, then the Baby Business has the ability to select the egg and sperm to use to avoid ones with any specific diseases we may be carriers of.

My next period was once again right on time… August 24th. I did my math and estimated that I should get my next period sometime around September 18th. Finally JM and I have some positive things to look forward to and put all these fertility tests and surgeries behind us. Never in my life did I think I’d be so obsessive over the timing of my period like I have been recently.

My brother Tyler flew into town the day JM and I left for our vacation to the Dominican Republic to stay with our Dad and care for him while we are away. I’m forever grateful and can’t thank Tyler enough for helping JM and I when we really needed help.

Before we knew it, our summer was gone. It was a summer of medical needs, broken bones, and surgeries. Sayonara Summer! Hello 8-day all-inclusive Dominican Republic vacation. We realized this is quite possibly the last vacation we can comfortably spend our money on without thinking twice … at least until we’re done saving and paying for fertility treatments. When we return, operation Project Parenthood will officially begin!

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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.

ABOUT ME… ABOUT WE

That’s us. My husband, JM, and I are trying to start a family. We’re fertility challenged. Apparently the fertility gods were off duty the 40 weeks I was cookin’ in my mother’s belly and totally forgot about me. So here we are. A family of two. Still. Actually wait. We’re a family of 3 – can’t forget our beautiful little furbaby. It’s hard, really darn hard. And, quite frankly, I want to punch the next female that tells me they are pregnant or bitch out the next pregnancy announcement posted on Facebook.

JM and I adopted the best damn goldendoodle in the world, had what we consider an over-the-top fairytale wedding, went on our dream honeymoon, bought the perfect colonial white-house with a bright red door in the suburbs, paid off my college loans, and finally got our careers to the point where we were financially ready to have a child. Okay Stork Gods, we’re ready – exactly February 2014. Little did we know that what should be a fun and free experience – hasn’t been exactly fun or free for us.

Before JM and I got married, we had the typical “how many kids do you want” talk. He wants 4. I want 2. Here we are begging to just have 1. Never did it occur to us we should have had a conversation addressing “what if we can’t have kids” before getting married.

I don’t want this blog to read like a, “empty womb, open heart” or “baby dreams unrealized” type of blog. That is not me … or at least I try not to let that take over and be me. And though I support those women in their grieving and coping process who write blogs like that – because JM and I are also going through that – I’m not as interested in writing entry after entry on all the dirty details of failed baby making.  But guess what, it’s going to read like that anyways.

I need to raise awareness to those who have no clue what we’re going through or what other people who battle infertility go through. This blog may not leave anyone feeling better or more hopeful about infertility. I want to raise awareness to you all – awareness of the struggle of infertility, awareness of the silent disease called endometriosis, and most of all I want to laugh at myself at some point! People who struggle with this disease need to speak up. The US government and health insurances need to recognize that infertility is a major disease and they need to start paying for it. Everything about infertility is hard, so why can’t we take a minute to step back and appreciate the humor in what we are going through? Emotions. Emotions are what prevent us from laughing at what we’re having to go through.

So what will this blog give you? Honesty. The ugly truth. Again, I’m here to raise awareness, and I’m here to be honest. I will say things that we “baby challenged” people are always thinking and what we’re going through. Sure, I’m probably going to be ashamed of the things I’m going to blast out in the open – for even some of the closest people in my life to read – but I want to give you all validation. I may even offend some of the closest people to me, but this is life. Realism. The blunt cold truth about our infertility journey, our struggles, our marriage, and my health.

I welcome you to subscribe to my blog so that you can receive updates and alerts any time I post something new. I’m behind on documenting my journey, but as you’ll soon learn we’ve been incredibly busy. Most importantly, JM and I aren’t giving up.

– Jane