BUSTED STORK

January 22 – February 3, 2016

Ten days. It’s only ten days that I needed to wait until my pregnancy blood test. During these 10 days, I tried hard to stay away from the Google search bar. Who am I kidding? I caved in the day after my embryo transfer. If you remember from my previous post about my embryo transfer, the embryologist said that if implantation was going to happen, it would happen within 48 hours after the transfer. I began Googling to see what signs I can look for with implantation. It ranged from cramping, to spotting, to absolutely nothing. This Google search didn’t get me far at all. I refused to hear again that I have a busted stork.

Not only was my mind on implantation signs constantly, but my mind was also on my entire IVF experience to include the loss of all 7 embryos. I just couldn’t stop thinking negatively. If this IVF doesn’t work, I have no embryos left. JM and I will have to start all over again from scratch— financially, mentally, and physically.

We tried very hard to keep ourselves occupied during these 10 waiting days by going out for nice dinners with friends and working longer hours. It was weird to go out to dinner and not order a glass or bottle of wine. I wasn’t afraid to share the reason why I wasn’t drinking with our friends so it was known to many what JM and I were going through. Our friends were very positive and kept reminding us that we could be pregnant right now. The thought of that kept our spirits and hopes up.

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On February 1st, I did the inevitable. I took an at-home pregnancy test. Mentally I was trying to prepare myself for negative pregnancy test #24. As I stood there for 300 seconds, I prayed I saw a double line. However, all I saw was one pink line. I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry. I just shook it off and convinced myself I took the test too early and tomorrow is another day.

On February 2nd, I repeated the same process and took another at-home pregnancy test. This time I took a shower while I waited for the double line to appear, but when I went to look at the strip, once again I only saw one pink line.

On February 3rd, I repeated the same process one final time. I took another at-home pregnancy test and took a shower while I waited for the double line to appear. #24. This is highly likely going to be the 24th month of an unsuccessful pregnancy. I didn’t bother to tell JM and proceeded to the doctors office that morning for the blood test. They took my blood, wished me luck and said I should get a call with the results sometime after lunch.

I got in my car and headed to work, but didn’t realize until I pulled into my office parking lot that I just drove for 35 minutes in silence. My daily morning routine usually involves listening to my favorite morning radio show, but I guess I just got lost in my thoughts trying to mentally prepare myself for the afternoon phone call.

When my supervisor got into the office, I immediately went to her and simply said, “Today is either going to be a very good day or the worst day of my life.” I didn’t need to say anything more. My supervisor knew exactly what I was referring to and said to me, “If you need to leave later, just leave and don’t feel like you need to let me know. Take care of you.” I’m forever thankful to have her as a supervisor and couldn’t have asked for more.

The 12-1pm lunch hour passed and all I could think about was the anticipated phone call. While a part of me was prepared to hear my 24th negative, another part of me was still hopeful and perhaps my at-home tests were false. Finally at 1:14pm, my office phone rang. The nurse knew it was me when I said hello and I knew it was her as soon as she said “Hi Jane.” Her next words were “I’m sorry, Jane, but today’s results were negative.” I turn my office chair away from my coworkers’ line of sight and bury my head against my rested arm on the desk and shook my head like as if the nurse could see my reaction. I couldn’t get a word out. The nurse continues, “I’m so sorry, Jane, but the doctor would like to see you when you’re ready to discuss next steps and what would be done differently for IVF #2.” I finally caught my breath and said “okay” and hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

I grabbed a tissue off my desk and tried to control my mascara and eye liner to get myself together. After maybe 2 or 3 minutes, I finally got my emotions in control and decided I wasn’t in the mental state of mind to continue working the rest of the day. I walk into my supervisor’s office and as soon as she makes eye contact with me I said nothing, but shook my head no. My supervisor immediately jumps from her office chair, shuts her door closed and hugs me for a couple of minutes. The tears just poured down my face. She proceeds to let me vent and tells me to take the time I need to grieve.

I head home and just wait for JM to get home. To be honest, I can’t remember what I did until he got home, but I do remember the moment JM got home. He took one look at me and just knew. He asks me, “Was today the pregnancy test?” and I proceed to tell him how I knew it was going to be negative 3 days ago and how today was the blood test.

We just held each other the rest of the night, ordered take out and discussed what we wanted to do next. We were devastated. I remember JM asked me if I wanted to go through this again. I knew immediately I didn’t want to go through it the very next month. I wanted to give my body a break from all the medical hormones, injections, and replenish our savings account a bit. JM was happy to do whatever I wanted to do. We agreed we would meet with the doctor for a follow up consultation as soon as possible so we could mentally and financially prepare ourselves for what we’d be up against for attempt #2 of IVF.

Once again, I was sent a busted stork.

KNOCK ME UP, DOC

January 16 – 21, 2016

Today we’re missing out on a family get-together to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. It’s fine.  We’re only missing it due to a *minor* surgery. We were a little upset to once again miss a family event due to some sort of infertility appointment, but at the same time excited because this was a major event for us. It’s one step closer to knock up day! In the meantime, JM and I had to wake up at 5am on a Saturday morning. JM and I hit the road at 530am and drive an hour to the surgical center. I’m so uncomfortable and beyond ready to get these eggs taken out. When we arrive, the nurses get me set up with an IV and the anesthesiologist asks me a bunch of health questions, yada, yada, yada. I explain to the anesthesiologist that I get very nauseous and usually vomit as soon as I wake up from the anesthesia. He promises me there are drugs for that and will take care of me.

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JM hands one of the nurses his prized sample in a plastic container and brown paper baggie – only to find out his swimmers literally swam out of the container. WTF!? I don’t know why, (of course I know why… I’m flipping hormonal as ever!) but I begin to panic. Timing is critical with IVF and JM was to provide a sample of his swimmers exactly 2 hours before my eggs were ready to be fertilized on a petri-dish. The nurse assures me it is fine and JM can provide another sample while I’m getting my eggs taken out.

When it’s finally my turn to get my eggs out at 8:30am the nurse walks me over to the freezing cold surgical room. The doctor who is about to retrieve my eggs instructs me to lay down on the table and once again put my legs up in the stirrups. I beg him to please do his best to not disturb my endometriosis and to take care of my babies (literally). He states he will do his damnedest to avoid touching my endo. The next thing I know, the room starts to get fuzzy and I’m out for the count.

Obviously while under anesthesia you don’t remember a thing. The next thing I remember is waking up back in the hospital bed and room I was in before my procedure and JM is sitting in the chair where I left him. I’m as groggy as can be, but the embryologist insists on having a conversation with me. The news she tells me wakes me up instantly. She tells me I had 16 eggs retrieved. (OMG! 16?!?!?!) I have no idea what that means and proceed to ask her if 16 is a lot or a little. She said it’s a great number and is the average amount people have retrieved. The embryologist states someone will call me tomorrow to let me know how many fertilized.

JM and I are absolutely thrilled to hear I had 16 eggs retrieved. Can you imagine if they all fertilize? Suddenly, my attitude about this whole IVF experience did a 180. This could potentially be 16 embryos! Well, not like we need that many babies, but it would mean we could potentially have many more tries of getting pregnant without having to go through all the injections again.

After JM and the nurse finally get me to eat something, I’m discharged and free to go home around 1230pm. We had an hour long drive home and the whole time I was nauseous. With 2 minutes to go before we pull into our driveway, I say to JM, “I seriously feel like I have to vomit.” The second JM pulls into our driveway, I open my car door and literally vomit what seemed like a gallon of clear liquid. Once again, another anesthesiologist failed me and I got sick after surgery. For the rest of the day I stayed in bed and enjoyed having JM serve me Gatorades and fruit smoothies.

Fast forward to the next day….

I get a call from the embryologist around 9:30am with the news of how my eggs did. The embryologist requests that I grab paper and pen to write down all my numbers and next steps. Out of the 16 eggs retrieved we had 11 fertilize — 2 fertilized abnormally and were discarded. HOLY CRAP, we have 9 embryos! NINE! I could barely contain my excitement and tears start to roll down my cheeks. The embryologist continues to tell me what medicines I need to continue to take to prevent infection, and that I’d need to come back to the surgical center in 4 days for the embryo transfer.

As soon as I get off the phone with the embryologist I immediately call JM with the news. I could just hear his smile over the phone. I then move on to call my mom, and then my in-laws, and then I text my three college roommates. I kept thanking God for giving me 9 embryos to work with. This is exactly the outcome I was praying for.

The next four days were the longest days of my life. The morning of our embryo transfer, JM and I decided to head towards the surgical center early and enjoy breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate what we’re about to do. The embryologist told me I would hear from the Baby Businessman before the transfer with an update on how my embryos were doing. By the time I arrived to the surgical center I realize I didn’t hear from the Baby Businessman at all yet.

I sign in at the front desk and immediately the receptionist said that my Baby Businessman wanted to talk to me. My mind starts racing and suddenly I find myself getting anxious. What if I drove all the way there only to find out none of my embryos survived? What if we had nothing to transfer? What if all my embryos are superior quality and I could pick whatever one I wanted to transfer? What if he wanted me to transfer 3 embryos rather than 2?

The receptionist escorts me to a private office so I could talk to the Baby Businessman on the phone and I left JM in the lobby. The Baby Businessman is on the line and proceeds to tell me that apparently I have very poor egg quality and all of our embryos are graded a “C”. None of them made it to the bastocyst stage – aka a specific number of cells by day 5. How could this be? I’m only 32 years old? I try so hard to hold it together while talking to him on the phone, but my mouth is full of verbal diarrhea and I begin asking him “but why?” over and over again. I just couldn’t quite comprehend why this is suddenly happening to me.

The Baby Businessman wants me to transfer 2 of the embryos.The remaining 7 will be discarded and I will be left with nothing to freeze. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. What I’m about to say is probably very controversial, but in my mind I just had 7 miscarriages in a matter of seconds. Those were 7 of our babies that were alive for 5 days and I just lost all of them.

I walk out of the private office, down the hallway and towards the lobby. I wave JM over and begin hyperventilating. I guess you could call it a panic attack and cried in his arms. I couldn’t quite get the words out of my mouth to tell him the news I just received and finally I was able to mouth to him, “We have nothing left; my eggs are crap.” Everything about our infertility is my fault. I can’t even begin to describe how small I felt right then. There is nothing worse than knowing as a wife, I am failing at giving my husband a family.

We’re called into another room to begin our embryo transfer of our “C”quality embryos. The nurse takes my blood pressure and sure enough it was very high. My blood pressure is always the same – around 115/75. Not this time. It was 155/95. That’s very high for me. Clearly the news I received made my blood pressure rise. I get undressed from the waist down, lay on the table and put my feet up in the stirrups. The ultrasound technician checks to make sure my bladder is full for the procedure and suddenly my mind is only thinking about not peeing on the table. Next thing I know, I am laying there with my legs wide open with a doctor, nurse, ultrasound technician, and 2 embryologists staring at me and my husband holding my hand. How many people does it take to knock this girl up in 5 minutes? Clearly 6 people.

The doctor measures my uterus lining and comments on how “fluffy” it is. She states that if she were an embryo she’d want to live there. <<insert awkwardness>> The doctor performing the embryo transfer inserts the catheter guided by ultrasound. JM and I are able to watch the transfer happen on the TV monitor and see exactly when the embryos are put into my uterus. It was fascinating. The doctor recorded the transfer and let it play on repeat.

After they put the embryos in, I had to lay on the table for 5 minutes. The embryologist comes into the room and hands us a photo in a card-stock frame. It’s a photo of our two embryos that they put in me. I stare at the photo for a minute letting it process that these are our babies I’m looking at. (See photo below).

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After the procedure, the doctor instructs me to take it easy the rest of the day and to avoid any strenuous activity until my pregnancy test in 10 days and to not lift anything more than 15 pounds. I head into work like as if it’s another day and continue about my daily business. The doctors said that if the embryos are going to stick, implantation will happen in the next 48 hours. All day at work all I could think about was what I just went through. Technically I’m “pregnant” right now with two, but I have no way in knowing if they will implant until 10 days from now. Once again, I’m tortured with the dreaded “2 week wait.”

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THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND… THE NEEDLES

January 5 – January 15, 2016

Shit just got real. I mean, the 3 IUIs were real, but suddenly the thought of starting IVF today was a slap of reality. Actually cutting a $5200 check this morning to pay for the IVF was the real slap of reality for me. This may be my last couple of weeks of not being pregnant. I arrived to the baby salesman’s office for my day 3 bloodwork and ultrasound on January 5th and proceed to take a number like as if I’m at the deli counter and wait to be called. Once again my arm meets the needles and my legs are up in the stirrups. Thankfully everything is good to go to proceed with our IVF journey.

My assigned nurse asks me if I have any plans to be out of town between now and January 20th. I tell her I actually had plans to go visit my college roommate this weekend who lives 7 hours away to finally meet her twin boys. The nurse tells me immediately that I will not be able to leave the local area at all during the IVF monitoring and I need to cancel my plans. I’ve said it before in previous posts, but I feel the need to remind you all of something very significant when it comes to infertility procedures. Fertility forces you to live in the present. There is no such thing as planning in advance, traveling, or maintaining a standard work schedule when it comes to fertility. For the third time, I cancel my plans to visit my best friend and her babies. I kid you not. This is literally the third time I’ve had to reschedule — thanks to my infertility procedures. I feel so guilty and like an awful friend for not having met the babies yet.

The evening of the 5th JM administers my first two injections —Gonal-F and Menopur— to kick off the ovary pumping hormones. The purpose of these meds were to begin stimulating follicle growth (aka. multiple eggs) from the ovaries. Something to note is that this process is the farthest thing from how your body naturally operates. As I’m sure you learned back in 5th grade health class, every month the woman matures one sometimes two eggs on one ovary. The way stimulated IVF works is that the meds produce multiple mature eggs on both ovaries. My doctor wants to see at least 12 follicles grow to maturity by the time I need to have them retrieved. See? Not normal for the human body to go through this. The baby businessman started me off with a mid-level amount for each injection because my estrogen levels were moderately low. Although the injections go into your abdomen area, I barely feel the needles at all. It’s relatively painless.

As the week went on, I went back to the baby businessman’s office every other day. This was to monitor my hormone levels and follicles growth. Each time I went to the office, the baby businessman sent me home with instructions to increase my medicine dosages.

Turns out I had to go in on the weekend for monitoring. Good thing I didn’t leave town to visit my college roommate. When I went in for my Saturday morning appointment —7:15am mind you— on January 9th, I asked the ultrasound technician if it’s normal for me to cry over everything. Clearly the meds were making me (excuse my lack of a better term)… hormonal. Everything made me shed tears. I’d watch a good performance on American Idol, I’d cry. I read a disturbing article in the paper how a man killed his mother, I cried. My husband would tell me how beautiful I am, I’d cry. I got caught in traffic which put me 5 minutes late to an appointment, I cried. It’s insane how much I was crying… over absolutely nothing. (Thank you waterproof mascara!) I never considered myself a hormonal person by any means, but these meds destroyed me and messed with my hormones.

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I got an evening call from my assigned nurse giving me my hormone levels and next instructions, she tells me my hormone levels doubled. NO WONDER WHY I’M CRYING OVER EVERYTHING. However, the doctor still wants me to increase my hormone meds even more. SERIOUSLY?!?!
I proceed to tell the nurse that I’m about to run out of meds because of how much they keep cranking up the amount. The nurse sends a prescription in to the pharmacy. Let me spare you the long story with that. Lets just say that cost me another $1700 out of pocket.

The week of the 11th I had morning blood and ultrasound monitoring appointments every. single. day. While I still had to continue my two egg-making hormone shots every day, I then had to tack on another injection called Cetrotide, to my morning routine. This med forces the eggs to stay in the follicle and prevents premature release (aka ovulation). This med did me in. My abdomen literally started bruising. (See the picture below.) Imagine having the amount of follicles I had growing. Seventeen to be exact. Each one was currently the size of 12-15mm, but needed to eventually get to 19-22mm. That’s nearly 1-inch each. Let me do the math for you. That’s nearly 17-inches that doesn’t normally take up space inside my body. My stomach was beyond swollen by Wednesday. I was so bloated, bruised, uncomfortable… and miserable. After every shot this week, I literally said to JM “This better work because I don’t think I can do this again.” I’m probably not doing the description of the word “miserable” and “discomfort” any justice at all to truly make you understand just how awful this experience was for me and my poor body.

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This week was a tough week. My supervisor at work wanted me to brief at a meeting this week, but I couldn’t give her a definitive answer on whether or not I could do it. I had no idea when my eggs would be ready for retrieval. It killed me that I couldn’t plan at all this week. Not for work. Not for my personal life.

Finally Thursday the 14th I was given instructions to take my last final injection —the ass-muscle injection called HCG or rather “the trigger shot.” This shot tells the ovaries exactly when to release the eggs. In 36 hours to be exact. When I had my morning monitoring appointment, the nurse drew a circle on my ass to help JM pinpoint exactly where he needed to inject the medicine. There is nothing glamorous about IVF.  We had to take the shot at exactly 8:30pm. Any sooner or any later would mess up the timing of my egg release and retrieval procedure I had scheduled for Saturday 16 January. Precision was crucial.

If you’re wondering if the ass-muscle shot hurt, the answer is “not at all.” Honestly, I couldn’t feel a thing – regardless of the fact that the needle was literally 2.5” long. Was I thankful to know this was my last injection? Absol-freakin-lutely! Friday I only had to take one medicine, which was an antibiotic to prevent infection from the egg retrieval procedure I’m going to have on Saturday.

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I went to bed Friday night with so many emotions. I had feelings of hope, fear, optimism, discomfort, but yet excitement all at the same time. At this point I was so uncomfortable and bloated. My stomach was now hanging over my pants. (See photo above.) Because egg retrieval is practically surgery, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink past midnight — which was totally fine because I didn’t have any more room in my body to fit another piece of food. I forced myself to go to bed early that night so that Saturday would seem like it was here sooner. I was so ready to get this IVF thing over with, but more importantly I wanted the eggs out of me and my body to return to normal. I said a prayer before I fell asleep and asked a very selfish request that if this round of IVF doesn’t get me pregnant, all I wanted were frozen embryos left over so that I wouldn’t have to put my body through this horrific process again.

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.

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