Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

I'm pretty relieved today is the last day of 2010. It's been a tough year, and I think the two most difficult months were January (deciding to do IVF) and December (wondering if it's time to stop treatments after 4 failed IVF cycles). What a way to start and end a year.

I barely managed to submit a post to the Creme de la Creme list this year, and I literally picked the last post I had written at the time of submission. How's that for a "thoughtful" and "best post" of the year? But, really, I couldn't bring myself to read through this blog and re-live 2010. I didn't want to face those doubts and decisions to move forward with IVF (especially now that I know the end result of many BFNs without feeling any closer to having a baby), nor did I want to read through the hopefulness and subsequent anguish of each IVF cycle. And even though I didn't carefully select my submission, I do feel like the post reflected my heart and its current state. You'll see what I mean tomorrow.

And while I do have some meager hopes for 2011, I think I'll wait to express those on another day. Today I am simply acknowledging that 2010 was a very painful and difficult year. I'm thankful it's over. But I'm also acknowledging that I'm still ok. God has sustained me. I do have a hope that sustains me beyond my circumstances. I have grown. I have learned more about God and faith. I have a firm foundation.

A lyric from a song that I haven't listened to for years came to mind as I wrote this (by the band M.odel Engine):*

It's not that I feel good
It's that I still can feel
That's good, and that's all that's good for now

I love the "for now" part, and it is really emphasized as it is sung. I love the raw acknowledgement of the pain (the song is about a painful breakup after a long-term relationship, but, hey, pain is pain, right?), but there is still a sense of thankfulness and hope in these simple lyrics.

Anyway, that was a little bit of a tangent.

Good-bye 2010.

*As far as I know, this was a little-known Christian indie band from the 90's. I couldn't even find an MP3 for the song. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry {Belated} Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm catching up on the blog world, and I can relate to so many of your infertility-effecting-Christmas posts.

Our day was full and pleasant. We spent the morning with my family and then drove 45 minutes to spend the evening with DH's family. All was nice... but so much the same. There are no children at either place, and both DH and I said longingly that we hope next Christmas is different.

I shed a few tears as I went to bed that night. How many years have I imagined next Christmas to be different? Will Christmas 2011 actually be any different? It is difficult to hope.

One funny story: So remember how my brother is having a baby in April? And they were thinking of using a variation of the girl's name we had chosen (Claire)? Well, they did indeed find out the baby is a girl and are naming her Clara. However, I had already tried to "move on" from this name and had started day dreaming about Caroline. Lo and behold on Christmas day, we found out that DH's brother had gotten a dog, and they had named her - you guessed it - Caroline! Ha! (Not that this would actually deter us from us using the name, but I just thought it was a little ironic).

On the bright side, my work closes down this week and I am very much looking forward to getting a lot of little things done. And relaxing , of course! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RE appointment today

We met with the RE today. I wasn't really sure what to expect going into it, but let me just start by saying how much I love our RE. I can't imagine being in the place we are today under the care of our first RE (or any other RE, really) - Dr. H is very kind and compassionate. He doesn't make me feel like I am wasting his time or ruining his statistics (although I did make a joke about that today which he laughed at). I am thankful for Dr. H.

We didn't get much new information - he still thinks that if we continue treatments, I would most likely get pregnant. He pointed out that, of course, after this many treatments he begins to wonder if something else is going on, but he said on paper we look good and there is nothing much else left to do/ test/ treat. The fact that I only produced 3 mature eggs last cycle - with a total of 10 including immature ones - is definitely indicative that my reserve is low, but he still thinks my quality is good based on my age. Most of our embryos fertilize and look good on day 3. Etc, etc, etc.

The only "test" he wants to do is another hysteroscopy (I had one that was performed by another doctor in May 2009 when I had a fibroid removed). He said he wants a better look at the (other? new?) fibroid I have in there, which is small and doesn't appear to be effecting to uterine cavity, but he wants to make sure. He also wants to see if there is scarring or other negative effects from my last hysteroscopy, as well as check out my uterine lining for himself.

He also offered to treat us for free from here on out, starting with a frozen cycle and then another fresh one if necessary. This was the only time during the appointment I cried, because I am just stunned by such kindness and generosity. It is a gift, but it is also surprisingly difficult to have that "we'll stop treatments when we run out of money" line removed. Honestly, I don't feel hopeful like I did after my last RE appointment when he first said he would "help us out" financially. I don't feel elated at this offer because I don't feel hopeful that treatments will work for us. And now the "when to stop" decision falls 100% on our shoulders without any outside influences like no funds or the RE telling us he doesn't think it will work. Don't get me wrong, I am still utterly thankful for this generous gift. I am simply so beaten down emotionally that I don't know how much more we can take.

At this point, I think I will have the hysteroscopy surgery in January, and then we will do a frozen egg cycle in March. We reserve the right to change our minds, but we think we will be done after that and not pursue another fresh cycle - even if it is free. Meanwhile, I would also like to pray a lot, read the two books I have been putting off reading (Inconceivable and Adopted for Life), and start researching adoption. I need a new direction. I want to conceive and my heart still hurts tremendously at the thought of never conceiving, but I want to find a way to move on. I want God to lead us and heal us.

I know we could push for more tests. We could get a second opinion. We could call C.CRM and get a phone consult. But I just don't think we will. Not because we don't want this to work and want to do everything we can, but we feel like this is the best place for us to be given our circumstances. We still only want to fertilize a small number of eggs, which limits things like second opinions (I can only imagine discussing that in a C.CRM phone consult - ha!). We are out of money, and we can get free treatments here. And, bottom line, we just feel comfortable with Dr. H and don't have any desire to go elsewhere.

Thank you for your kind comments and support these last few weeks. Thanks for understanding that I have to wade through all of these emotions, for sitting with me, and reminding me that I won't always be in this place.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

That woman

It has been raining all day and I am loving it. I feel like the rain always reflects my mood. When I am happy, I love the rain pouring outside while I feel cozy, secure, and warm inside. And when I sad, it feels right that it is dark, gloomy, and wet outside, and provides and excellent reason to curl up under a blanket with a good book.

We are so close to being done with trying to conceive that it is both terrifying and a relief at the same time. (More terrifying than relief-giving, though). I feel like such a minority. I am not simply facing infertility like roughly 10% of the population does, but I may be part of the tiny subset of women who were never able to conceive. In our church of about 600 people, I know of four women who fall into this group. I'm sure there could be more because I don't know everybody, but still - only four. Am I number five?

I have yet to be able to open the Adopted for Life book I mentioned earlier. I just don't feel like I am ready to embark on another journey, while my heart still longs and aches for the one we are getting ready to leave behind. I am not ready to accept that we have may have come to a dead end, but I have wondered why I can't step off of this road and onto another. Why is this so painful?

Earlier this week I eagerly searched for a book out there that would speak to me where I am at. Is there a book out there for people facing the pain of giving up on biological children? I was almost surprised and relieved to find Inconceivable by Shannon Woodward. I ordered it and sat down to read it the moment it arrived.

I sobbed as I read the introduction because it felt like I could relate to every single word she wrote. She was speaking to me. She writes that she has not written this book for the woman who "refilled her clomid prescription this morning", but "Instead, I am writing to the woman who can no longer afford medical treatment; the woman who has come to a medical line she can't bring herself to cross; the woman who can't bear to let her feeble hopes rise yet again, only to scrape them off the ground when they crash. I'm writing to the older woman who has just entered menopause and the young woman who has had to undergo a hysterectomy; women who know their battles have reached a decisive end." She ends the introduction with, "Had you told me the day would come when I could hold another woman's infant . . . with no shred of pain or jealousy, I probably wouldn't have believed you. I would have thought it...well, inconceivable. But that's what happened. Our God is the Healer. Here's how he healed me."

I sobbed at the pain in her words and descriptions that mirrored my own heart. I sobbed as I heard her reassurances that there is another side to all of this - one that is filled with the peace and healing of God. I know this to be true, and have seen it in a number of your blogs, too. But from where I sit today, it is so hard to imagine this dark cloud of pain ever leaving me.

But after I read the introduction, I put the book down and couldn't pick it up again. Am I really the woman she is writing the book to? Are we at the end? I don't know. And even if I do know we are close, I don't feel ready to admit it. I don't want to be that woman. The barren one. The one people can use as an example when a topic comes up, "Oh, I know this one lady who could never have children..." Number five at our church. I don't want to be her. I don't want the book to be written to me.

But does God want me to be?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A depressing Monday post with a good ending

I just wish all of this could be over. That I could wake up tomorrow with the child that God has intended for me in my arms, be done with this pain, and live happily ever after.

But then I realized that once this season of suffering is done, there is sure to be another around the corner. Once we have a child, I am sure the worries and list of things that can "go wrong" only grow. Unexpected tragedy could strike anybody that I love, or myself. Our parents are in their mid-sixties, and at some point we may need to take care of them. We may see them die. And then we get old, and while I don't fear "getting older" in the I-am-about-to-turn-thirty sense, being elderly looks very difficult and lonely.

It just seems like the older you get, the more suffering there is. More responsibility, more time for sin to grow and flourish and leave ugly consequences, and more time for things to simply happen. I have heard people say that high school or college were the best times of their lives, and I could never relate. High school was fine for me, college was better, post college and dating DH even better still, and our first few years of marriage were the best. Until infertility hit, it almost seemed like things could only keep getting better. But now I realize that perhaps the people who say high school was the best time of their life had perhaps experienced suffering at an earlier age than I did.

Life is hard. God doesn't promise us it will be easy. Quite the opposite, in fact - the Bible is filled with many promises of suffering coupled with words of encouragement. On some level, life had been pretty easy for me before infertility. But on another, it was still hard. I didn't have any on-going "big" problems, but I felt a longing for more than this. I felt unsettled, unsatisfied, and struggled....even when I "had it easy." God used all of that to draw me to himself and show us me my need for him, and I thank him for that.

And in the midst of infertility, I feel it all so much deeper. My need for Christ is desperate, hungry, and very tangible, and even while I wade through these murky and painful waters I do have such peace and confidence that he will be faithful. He will work in me and through me. He has a plan for me. This is true for the rest of my life, too, as I face all of the sufferings that lay ahead.

I know many people struggle to believe in God when life is painful, and ask why God would allow it to happen. There are many books written on the topic, and theologians much more educated and intelligent than I have given answers. But what I want to say right now is simply this: Things like infertility and other suffering will happen whether or not I believe in God. Have you ever known somebody who never suffered? But what joy and peace to know that I do believe in a God who is control of all things, is good & faithful, has a purpose, and promises me a life free of suffering in heaven....this is a gift in the midst of suffering. An amazing gift. It still hurts deeply, but I am thankful for the hope he gives me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My losses

I have been working on an ongoing list titled "My Losses." Many times when I have been struck by a wave of sadness, I have added to the list as a new feeling of loss was triggered.

Many of the items on the list seem silly, superficial, or small, I know. And I am sure at the end of my life - and certainly in eternity - I will look back on this time very differently. But in this season of my life they feel very real and painful. The heaviness of the sense of loss I feel is almost crushing.

I also thought about the way we describe grief, in general. If I describe my sadness over the loss of my beloved grandmother 8 years ago, I would say things like, "I miss sitting at her kitchen table and hearing her tell stories from her life," or "I wish I could open up her fridge and see the jello in small glass pyrex cups she always had waiting for me." There are few words to describe the loss and pain, but somehow those little things I can describe add up to convey the magnitude of grief. And with death, I feel like we can all relate...that we can hear somebody describe those little things and feel with them the giant monster of pain within their heart.

And so it is with infertility, I think. I can only say "This is a really painful loss" in so many words, but all of these "little things" I have listed below communicate those feelings better than my few words can. The only problem is, unlike my example of death, most people cannot relate. And to them, when they read these little things, they just seem like little things. Insignificant. "Why can't she just move on? It's not the end of the world."

I am not saying the experience of loss through infertility is greater or more painful than loss through death, but that it feels very lonely. And it is yet another reason I am so thankful for the blogging community, that here, in this virtual space, I know many of you do understand what this list of "little things" communicates.

Without further ado, here are "My Losses" as I think about the possibility of not having a biological child:

Pregnancy:
  • The moment of finding out, feeling that joy, and celebrating with my husband.
  • Telling our family - would we drive down and tell them in person? Make a phone call? Wait for a family event? Getting to see their joyful reaction. Talking about the baby & pregnancy with our moms.
  • Telling our friends. Seeing their joy. Even making a Facebook announcement.
  • Reading pregnancy books. Learning about the miracle of a new life growing. Reading about the development week by week, day by day. Reading things aloud to my husband.
  • Seeing my belly grow. My husband would love watching this. Taking pictures as it grows. Seeing his joy. How would I carry a belly - “all belly” or “all over?” Would my belly be small or large?
  • Experiencing the discomfort. I don’t really want to be sick and uncomfortable, but it seems like part of the miracle. Part of the story of me and my child. Knowing it is worth it. Having my own “pregnancy woes and stories” to tell.
  • Seeing the baby via ultrasound. Going to appointments with my husband. Sharing that excitement and amazement.
  • Buying maternity clothes. Superficial, but I always looked forward to it. Would I be a cute pregnant lady?
  • Feeling the baby move. Experiencing that intimacy. Talking to the baby. Praying for the baby with my hands on my belly.
  • Finding out the gender. Calling our family.
  • Giving birth. So much tied into this one. How to even put it to words? I feel like as a woman I have a biological urge and desire to do this. I don’t want the pain, so to speak, but I want the whole experience - even with the pain. I see births on TV and I bawl. It is an amazing, life changing moment. One day you are carrying a life inside of you, and then your whole world changes and you get to see and hold that baby in your arms. Having a “birth story.” Staying in the hospital with my husband. Our families meeting the baby, holding the baby.

Biological connection:
  • Seeing our physical & personality traits in our child. What would our child look like? Hearing people say, “She has your nose” or “Were you tall as a toddler, too?”
  • Seeing our family members in our child. Maybe even family members who have passed away. My dad would examine the child’s feet to see if he had our feet. Or would she have curly hair like my mother in law? A long torso like my Grandma & me? Crazy tall like so many in my husband’s family? All the things we always wondered and talked about....and have to stop wondering and talking about.
  • Feeling like the “family line” is carrying on.

Other:

  • Breastfeeding. Getting that “bonding experience” with the baby. I know not everyone is able to breastfeed, but women who do often are sad when they have to wean - I want to get to try. (I know some people try to do this even with an adopted child, but I can’t imagine doing this - who knows, though).
  • Living in a world where most people experience pregnancy/birth/having biological children - and I want to, but can’t. There are reminders everywhere.
  • Getting pregnancy announcements. Would this ever not sting?
  • Hearing people make comments about their children/ future children and having to stop making our own (ie “Our child will definitely have blue eyes,” “Maybe we could have a red head,” “I hope our child is organized and clean like you.”) But everyone else talks like this.
  • Having things happen in a predictable, traditional timeline. Start the nursery, have a shower, and generally know when to expect the baby.
  • Sharing in this experience of womanhood. Instead of getting to talk about it with others, I would feel like an outsider as I have to hear their experiences.

"The English language lacks the words 'to mourn an absence.' For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only 'I am sorry for your loss.' But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?" ~ Laura Bush

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sit with me

The other night DH & I were having dinner with another couple we are friends with. The husband is one of DH's good friends from college, and he has been very supportive of him throughout our infertility.

At one point, he asked us how "things were going," and DH responded that we had gotten another negative. Before there was even a pause, DH continued and said,"...so we are thinking about adopting. We think that that is where God is leading us, and we hope that a year from now we will have a child or are well into the process...."

Of course, since DH had steered the conversation in that direction, they responded to the adoption part. They said very sweet things about how we will make amazing parents, what a blessing it will be to provide a family for a child, etc., etc. But they said nothing about the BFN, nothing directed at our pain, and nothing but their "bright hopes" for our future in relation to adoption.

I couldn't blame them. It was DH who had added that piece of information and made it the focal point, after all. It wasn't like they jumped to "just adopt" without us even mentioning it.

I had to wonder, why did DH throw that in there? Yes, we have been talking about adoption, but we are far from doing anything or making plans. One, I think it is comforting to him that we can have "a plan." But more than that, I think it was too difficult for him to make others face our suffering. If he had ended his statement by saying that our cycle was negative, it naturally would have forced them to be a little uncomfortable and find something to say....but by offering the adoption idea, he handed them something to say. I think he subconsciously did this to make it easier on them, which also made the conversation easier on him, as well - they don't have to face the hard emotions, and we don't have to face the potential awkwardness of their response. Lastly, I think DH was trying to stay positive, look at the bright side, and trust God...and simply doesn't feel it quite like I do.

This is all speculation, of course, and as I write it out I am curious what DH's actual motivations were - I will have to ask him.

But as I thought about it later that night, I realized that if I had been the one responding, I would have left it at the "our cycle was negative" part. I would have hoped for a simple "I'm sorry" in response, but know we would probably have gotten something a little awkward. But that's ok. I don't expect people to have the perfect response.

I love how in the book of Job, after he has lost everything - family, health, and wealth, Job's friends come and simply sit with him and grieve with him for a week. Nobody talks. They just sit with him. Ironically, when they do start talking they say a lot of unhelpful and even wrong things that God later rebukes them for, but for that first week I love that they just care for their suffering friend by being with him. I want to be this kind of friend, and I am thankful we do have a number of friends who are caring for us in a similar fashion. But it does seem like a learned skill, in a way. Or that we have to un-learn something in us that wants to "fix" the problem for others, or "be positive" and help them look at the bright side. But I love when friends don't try to do this, and are instead able to acknowledge my pain and love me through it.

I am thankful God has shown me this - and there is nothing like learning it through personal experience. I hope I will be a better friend in the years to come because of what God has shown me about suffering through infertility.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adoption?

I have written about adoption a few times here, but always in the sense of "we are just not there yet." Adoption has felt like something that is intricately linked to infertility - what infertile has not thought about it and wondered if that is the path they will end up taking - but has also felt like a topic people offer as an "easy" solution to infertility. Like infertility equals adoption. And that has been hard for me, because I feel like it doesn't allow any space for me to grieve what infertility is, but some cultural force "out there" wants to slap a band-aid on it with the "just adopt" message. I think that is one reason I have resisted thinking too much about adoption.

Plus, the honest truth is that it just hurts so much to think about adoption because it fully acknowledges that we will {most likely} not have biological children. I have not been able to do that much before, but DH and I have talked a lot more about adoption these past couple weeks. It's still hard, but we are there.

I have lot of thoughts and emotions about us adopting that I want to share here, but I confess I am scared to do so. I feel like adoption is such a "hot topic" that people have very strong opinions about. And many of the vocal ones seem to think people grieving the loss of biological children shouldn't adopt because their kids will feel like they were a "2nd choice," among other things. I also feel scared of offending those of you who have adopted as I wrestle with doubts, fears, and questions about adoption...all while continuing to grieve. So how do I sit in this place and write what is in my heart?

For those of you who have written about adoption and/ or adopted, how did you handle this?

We are meeting with the RE on December 20. He has actually called me twice since the BFN, but I let it go to voicemail because I couldn't face talking to him. I don't know what he will say when we meet with him. After other negative cycles I have wondered if "that was it," but he has always reassured us and made us feel like it was worth it to keep trying. Will that happen here again? Do we WANT that to happen, or will we be stubbornly unconvinced no matter what he says? Will he offer to treat us for free? Because we really don't have any money left, and as much as it breaks my heart to say I honestly feel like I CANNOT spend any more money on infertility treatments that don't work. Or will he agree that perhaps this is the end of the road? And then, of course, there are the frozen eggs that I want to use but am unable to imagine will actually give us a pregnancy. So I really don't know what to expect from that appointment, how our mindset will be going into it, and if that will change at all coming out of it.

I feel like I am straddling both worlds - part of me is grieving and looking to "move on" from treatments, but another part of me doesn't know how.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our tree

Despite my initial lack of desire to get a Christmas tree this year, DH convinced me we really should get one. We are a family, he said. And it really didn't take much convincing.

Here it is - we got a little one ( maybe about 4.5') and put it on a small table.


Our living room is on the smaller side, so I like that the tree doesn't take over the whole space. I am not very fond of our tree topper and have been on the lookout for the "perfect" one for 4 years now. I know it's out there.

Ok, here's second look at the tree using a photography app on my phone that I think is fun. I generally think my phone pictures are pretty bad, so the way this app makes it look like a retro Polaroid seems to make pictures look better. (it's the Shake It app).


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Darkness and Light

The day we found out about our failed cycle was the same day that kicked off the holiday season. This is usually one of my favorite times of the year - as it is for many people - and I look forward to so many of the big and little things that come with it.

However, the moment these two events collided I had no desire to enter into the Christmas season. I immediately decided in my mind that we would not get a Christmas tree, since that would take energy to purchase, set up, and decorate. And I just don't have any energy. Besides, it's just DH & I, and we're not even here in our home for Christmas day.

Bah-humbug.

When we got home from my IL's house, DH immediately set out to hang our Christmas lights. It was already getting dark when he started and it was a cold night (for Southern C.alifornia at least - the low 50's), but I knew he wanted to do it to help cheer me up. Christmas lights are usually my favorite.

As DH put them up, I sat in the house and cried a little. When he finished, he brought me outside and we walked across the street to admire the white lights adorning our humble home. We stood with our arms around each other, and I was so touched that he worked so hard to do this for me. And I cried.

The next morning I turned the radio to Christmas music as I drove to work, which then made me cry. I stopped and bought a peppermint mocha on the way, but cried when I got into my car with it.

Everything Christmas themed was making me cry. All the happy, merry, cheery, and brightness of it all contrasted sharply with the pain in my heart. It felt plastic and fake. And everything around me screamed, "Christmas is about family" and all I could think about was the family I long for but cannot have.

Our church does an advent series each year, and the first week of advent is hope. We went to church with my IL's on Sunday so I did not hear the hope sermon, but my heart cried out to hear about this hope. I wanted to be reminded of what my hope is, and I wanted to know what it had to do with Christmas.

I have celebrated the advent season many times before, but each year the depth and richness of the traditions and the light they shine on the gospel have stirred in me more and more. And this year, out of the depths of my pain, I saw just how dark the advent season is, and it was refreshing. It is not about the happy, cheery, merry, plastic-smile-ness that I feel like the Christmas culture tries to deceive me with, but it is a time to reflect on the sinfulness, pain, suffering, and death that is this world, and it matched the darkness of my heart. I could feel that sin, pain, suffering, and death that all of creation felt as they waited for God's promised Messiah, because I feel it, too, as I wait for the promise of the Messiah's return where light will have victory over darkness....and there will be no more sin, suffering, pain, or death.

As I sat in that place, I was struck by two things. One is what an amazing, joyful, and miraculous gift was indeed born on Christmas day - a gift that answered the longings and groaning of all of creation. Secondly, I was so thankful that God meets us in these places of pain and longing, and that faith in him is not about putting on a plastic fake smile. He gives us the real hope and joy. But because I feel the darkness, I can rejoice in the light.

I am thankful the advent season is dark, and Christmas is light. It is raw, real, and genuine. I love so many things about the Christmas season, but it's ok if my heart is not into the "holly jolly Christmas" tunes, peppermint mochas, or Christmas trees...because as fun as they are, that is not what Christmas is about. And Christmas isn't even about family, despite what our culture says. I'm thankful that God is growing me.

I am no theologian or writer, and I always finish posts like these feeling like I communicated the profound ways the Lord is teaching me so inadequately. But I want to write them down, remember how he has worked in me, and save moments like these to look back on, at least. I am just one simple girl seeking to work out her faith with fear and trembling.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Strength

Thank you for all of your sweet comments, encouragements, and prayers for DH & I. I have gone to bed each night crying, and woken up each morning crying, but was thankful for a full weekend of activity with my IL's that gave me a reprieve from my weeping. I can't bear to feel all of it for too long at one time. But little by little I am grieving and processing, and DH & I have taken small steps towards thinking and praying about what's next.

I am incredibly thankful that it is God who does the work in us, and not me. I am so thankful I can rest in him and rely on him. That this is what he is honored by - not me trying to "make it" on my own. Because I couldn't. I don't feel strong, but he gives me strength. I don't know how to trust him, but I pray that he would help me to trust. I fear, but I lay my fears at his feet. Thank you, Lord, for for this mercy and grace. I have nothing to offer but a broken heart, but I am humbled by the fact that this burdened heart of mine is all that you ask for. And thank you that these are momentary troubles in light of eternity. When I am really hurting, the promises of heaven and Jesus' return are such a sweet comfort. Come, Lord Jesus.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not pregnant

I had been feeling so hopeful. The spotting had stopped, and surely that was the good "different" thing about this cycle.

But then last night rolled around, and as I got closer to testing my nervousness increased. As much as I wanted it to be positive, I started thinking things like, "it's always negative for me. Who am I kidding that this could have worked?" I felt more and more defeated as the night wore on, and my fear of testing increased.

I went to bed crying.

I woke up at 5:45am to pee. My heart started pounding, and I knew I should just test right away or my anxiety would make me cry before I even saw the results.

Only 24 hours ago I had imagined feeling confident while testing. I had actually imagined seeing that 2nd line, and felt like it was within my grasp. But as I sat on the toilet this morning, I felt not an ounce of confidence.

I peed into the cup in the dark, and used my phone as a flashlight to make sure I dipped the test in right. I watched the stop watch on my phone until it got to 2.5 minutes, and then I flipped on the bathroom light.

One line.

I don't think I will even conceive. I think I have to start trying to accept that, somehow. Somehow. With God's strength. This whole cycle I just knew this was our last fresh cycle. Me who has always wanted to find a way to keep going... I just knew this was nearing the end of the road. Now we will just have to decide if we will use our 5 (potential) frozen eggs, just to say we tried everything we could, I guess. And they are there.

But I really don't believe it will work now. DH plus me does not equal a baby.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

9dp3dt: Spotting

It started yesterday, actually. Just a faint, beige tint when I wiped. You would think I would have freaked - I hate spotting!!! - but for the first time ever the spotting brought me a small glimmer of hope.

I have never spotted while on progesterone before.

I have never spotted during an IVF cycle.

Different is good, right, when all the other cycles were negative?!

I have heard that spotting in early pregnancy is common.

And my b.oobs have continued to feel tender ... when that has always stopped around 6-7dp3dt before. Different could be good, right?

But spotting is scary. Spotting has always led to my period.

I have also had a slight crampiness and fullness feeling off and on.

But how many times have I felt all sorts of symptoms before?!

I'm sure my mind could come up with anything since I want this so bad.

But my mind can't make up the spotting.

Spotting is scary. It got darker today. A darker brown.

My progesterone was high only 2 days ago.

Spotting is scary.

******
Despite this crazy stream of consciousness, I am feeling calm. I have had moments where I just feel like I am pregnant - I don't know. I know I could easily be very, very, very wrong, but these moments give me a sense of calm as I wait until Friday.

If I don't get to post tomorrow, happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

7dp3dt: Wavering

First of all, I am thankful to report that my progesterone & estrogen came in nice and high today. A nurse I had never even heard of before left me the message (must be new), and she included the specific numbers (the other nurses usually don't unless I ask). Progesterone was 37 and Estrogen was 468....

This morning I had an entire post composed in my head that would have been titled "Calling it." And then I was going to say how this cycle feels exactly like every other, and so I am predicting this cycle is a negative. I felt really down last night and this morning, like I was already mourning the babies that would have been.

But then I decided I don't want to give up hoping just yet. I want a few more days to cautiously dream and pray hopefully for these two embryos. I don't want to spiral into the depths of sadness yet. If that is where I end up - what can I do anyway? But I don't have to be there today.

Four more days until beta on Friday.

I don't think I will be testing early, since I need to make it through two Thanksgivings on Thursday.

I am trying to remain hopeful, but it is really hard.

Friday, November 19, 2010

4dp3dt: The same, yet different

So far, I feel about the same I do every other cycle. Nothing noteworthy or interesting. As much as I wish for everything to be different, and thus equal a different outcome, this is probably better for my sanity.

No "symptoms" = no crazy over analyzing = stable Hillary

But one thing is very different in this two week wait: I am not looking for symptoms. I am making a conscious decision to NOT wonder what a twinge might be, how sore my b.oobs are, or if I am peeing more. I am trying to keep all of these thoughts out of my mind.

I have felt all the "symptoms" before, but the cycles were negative. I have felt no symptoms before, and the cycles were negative, too. This time, I just don't want any of it.

Instead, I wake up every morning and put my hands on my tummy and pray. God, are these embryos still alive? Please grow them. Please make them implant and grow. I don't have much to say, but I pour out my heart to the creator of life. Please grow these embryos.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our last embryo

At my three day transfer on Monday, the third embryo that we did not transfer was 6-8 cells grade B. I think my RE did not want to transfer it because, no matter how many BFNs I've had, he was just uncomfortable with transferring 3 embryos and the risk of multiples in somebody my age. But he knows we want to transfer all embryos that do make it, so he said we would wait until day 5 and see if it had continued to develop. If so, we would transfer it.

My RE called me himself bright and early this morning to say that the embryo basically had not grown and was still an 8 cell grade B. :( He said for it to make it at all it has to be a blast by day 6 or 7, so since it is this far behind he is 100% certain it is not viable. I agree with this, and since our embryo has essentially died by not dividing, we will not be transferring it.

I think I expected this, but it was still a little disappointing. And it's difficult to not let my mind go to the fact that perhaps the other two embryos in my uterus have stopped dividing, too. Maybe none of my embryos ever make it to blast. But I know there is a normal attrition, and I am praying that these 2 are is still growing away in me.

Another random piece of information that I got on transfer day that I forgot to mention is that they DID freeze the 7 immature eggs from my retrieval. I was pretty confused about this, but when I asked the embryologist she said they can culture them to try to make them mature, and she would estimate 2 out of the 7 eggs would end up mature. I guess that means we have about 5 eggs frozen (3 from IVF #2 and a potential 2 from IVF #3) - it's not much but I'll take it.

I'm enjoying resting at home...I'm a little too good at laying around on the couch all day. :) But tomorrow it's back to normal life, although I kind of wish I could just lay here until the 26th and let those embryos snuggle in.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Embryo transfer :)

Yes, there is a smiley face in the title! I think this is the first day in a week with no tears.

Praise God for the three beautiful embryos we have - 2 of which are currently in my uterus!





On the bottom right is our #1 embryo (according to the embryologist), which is "perfect" with 8-10 cells and grade A (the best grade at my clinic). The embryo on the top right is our #2 embryo, which is also 8-10 cells grade A. These two were transferred today.

The one on the left is 6-8 cells grade B. They are going to continue to watch it, and if it makes it to blast we will transfer it on Wednesday. That would be so amazing!! I am praying we get to transfer that embryo, too, but I do think the RE and embryologist don't believe it will make it. We will see.

I am so, so thankful for our embryos. We have had embryos of this size and quality before - so I know this is no guarantee - but I am amazed that we do have 2 (maybe 3!) wonderful looking embryos. So thankful. I keep praising God.

Thank you for your support this last week as I struggled. I know the days ahead may still be difficult, but I am thankful for today - a day where tears were replaced with joy, fear replaced with hope, and where I got to see my two miraculous embryos. Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fert report

The good news: They ICSI'd 3 eggs, and all 3 fertilized normally! This is very good news, and we have more embryos growing at this point than we ever have before. I am thankful and I do love knowing we have specific embryos to pray for now. Thank you, Lord, for this life you have created.

The weird news: They ICSI'd 3 eggs....after we had told the RE to do 4?! Huh?

The bad news: Based on the weird news above, I called the embryologist back (since I had gotten the information in a voice mail), and found out that out of the 10 retrieved, only 3 eggs were mature. In my weepy emotional state, this set me off on a new wave of sadness and tears. How could I have taken so many drugs and only ended up with 3 eggs anyway?? How? Does this mean all of the eggs are bad, and my embryos are bad now?

And we have never had this problem before:

IVF #1: 8 eggs retrieved, 5 mature, 3 ICSI'd, 2 fertilized
IVF #2: 15 eggs retrieved, 9 mature, 6 frozen, 3 ICSI'd, 2 fertilized
IVF #3: 10 eggs retrieved, 3 mature, 3 ICSI'd, 3 fertilized

*sigh*

The end result, as of today, is still better than the other cycles. And although we wanted to fertilize 4, 3 is just fine - we didn't need more since we are limiting fertilization anyway. I'm trying to focus on this cycle, on those 3 embryos growing, and praying that this cycle - despite its many disappointments - is the miracle. And God is in control. Thank you for your many encouragements, prayers, and well wishes over the last few days. I feel so weak & fragile, but I also feel supported by each of you.

I feel so incredibly weak. It is the only word I can even use to describe my heart right now. I think the Lord has given me this word to remind me of this verse, and may it be true in my life:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Egg retrieval

A friend from church organized a prayer schedule for us, and we had people praying for us and our future family hourly today. We feel so blessed and thankful for their support, and it helps me to know so many are lifting us up in prayer - God most certainly hears our cries.

We retrieved 10 eggs today. My RE gave us a preliminary report and said 6 looked good, 2 were maybes, and 2 were immature. I feel ungrateful and I hate being ungrateful, but I was disappointed that, despite being on WAY more medication, we got fewer eggs.

But we got what we needed. We decided to fertilize 4, although the RE wanted us to do 6. We just couldn't feel comfortable doing that, and he didn't push us at all when we said 4. I am thankful for that.

Just like on trigger day, I feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness about this cycle... And trying to conceive in general. I don't know. I just really don't know. I hate that I am already crying.

Thank you so much for your prayers and well wishes!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Triggering tonight

Well, I am thankful I made it this far, and I am triggering tonight. I had 12 follicles ranging from 12mm-21mm....and I think based on their sizes I am hoping to get 8-9 mature eggs at retrieval. We'll see. I'm triggering tonight at 2:00 am because the only appointments they had available on Friday were in the afternoon (boo).

I have been attempting to not over analyze every.little.detail about this cycle, and overall I think I have been pretty successful at it. However, this strategy has not been able to shield me from the sadness and fear that comes with IF treatments. I am so very thankful I get to try again....but I am also so very scared that it will be another BFN.

I started losing it yesterday. I felt alone and scared. I know I am on the "hopeful" end of things still - these types of thoughts and fears don't usually rear their ugly head until I'm in the midst of the two week wait. But as I looked at my cycle objectively, I couldn't help but think how very much the same it all is - and how can I hope that the outcome will be any different than any other cycle?

DH & I had a fight last night. I feel like we only fight during IVF cycles. Ok, this isn't completely true, but we don't fight much... yet we manage to always fight during IVF cycles.

I feel like DH is tired of all of this. I don't know how much more he will be willing to try.

I don't know how much more I have in me to try anyway.

I am scared to get the fert report. What if we have a worse fert report than other cycles?

I am scared to see the embryos at the ET. I am scared I will be disappointed and cry on the table.

I am scared of all of the stress during the two week wait.

And, most of all, I am scared to find out the results of the cycle...and find out it didn't work. Again.

:::deep breaths::::

Enough whining. I'm wiping these tears off my face and saying that this cycle CAN be different. God is the creator of life. He CAN do anything. He CAN create life in me. Lord, help me to cling to you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monitoring #3 & happy blogoversary!

I'm thankful today for another good appointment. Things are progressing much more slowly than previous cycles, even though I am on a higher dose of meds at this point. My largest follicle is at 16mm, and they range from 12mm-16mm. But I'm still hopeful that this is a good thing and think it is because I don't have the "lead follicle" problem.

I actually didn't write down the details of E2's or specific follicle sizes. We were discussing which meds I had left and then I was suddenly leaving...but it's ok. I'm trying not to stress and over analyze about all the details, right?

Feeling thankful today. I'm so thankful I even get the opportunity to try again.

****

Happy blogoversary to me! I honestly didn't even remember it was my blogoversary until it showed up on the LFCA and one of you left a congratulatory comment (thank you!). :) Part of me wanted to sit back and reflect on these two years of blogging about infertility....but my head is so lost in my IVF cycle I don't know if I can. Maybe I will while on bed rest.

But thank you! Thank you for your support as I walk what would be an otherwise very lonely road. I am so thankful I started this blog two years ago, and that I have had this space to vent and reflect. Most of all, I am thankful that I "met" so many of YOU! Each of you has been a gift to me. Thank you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Monitoring appointment #2

Overall, a great appointment! But do you want the good news or the bad news, first?

Let's start with the bad news, since there isn't much. :)

My RE has me on a slightly higher dose of medication for longer than he has on previous cycles, and as he began to measure and count the follicles he said offhandedly, "Even with all this medication you're still not producing a lot of eggs here..." I love my RE, and even though I know I'm not going to produce a ton of eggs, it's still hard to hear. To my infertile ears, it almost sounded like, "Yeah, this cycle may not be any different than the other two. Oh, and you'll probably have premature ovarian failure and go into menopause early." Obviously, I totally made that up, but still.

On to the good news!:
  • Despite my RE's disappointment that I don't have a "a lot" of eggs growing, I am very happy with the nine I do have after 4 days of stims: 12mm (x2), 11mm (x4), and 10mm (x3). This is a very comparable number of follicles to IVF #2, and better than IVF #1 in my mind :)
  • I am especially pleased that they are all very close in size, with no lead follicles jumping out ahead! This seems better than IVF #1 and #2.
  • The lead follicles are smaller than they were at this point of stims than my previous cycles, which may mean I get to stim for an extra day! This is good news for me since I always feel like my follicles just grow "too fast."
  • I never expected to get "a ton" of eggs anyway. My AFC is around 10, so this seems to be on track. I'm just going to be thankful for the eggs we do get, and am praying they are high quality ones that form embryos that will become babies!
  • I felt really relaxed and calm at the appointment itself. My RE paid me a really nice complement about how sweet I am (aw), I was chatting and laughing with the nurses, and even had a nice conversation with a couple other patients while waiting. Sometimes I feel so on edge I hardly talk while I am there, but not today!
I have the weekend off from appointments, and will go back on Monday. I'm looking forward to relaxing and enjoying time with DH as we prepare for the craziness of everyday appointments, an ER, fert report, and ET that are fast approaching. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stories of the Crazy Infertile - Episode 1

Last night as DH & I were driving home from Bible study we stopped to get gas. DH pumped the gas and I sat comfortably in the car. As he opened the car door to get back in after he finished, I smelled the strong odor of the gasoline.

I started holding my breath.

DH started driving, and as we gained some speed I rolled down the window a crack to let fresh air into the car. Like a dog, I lifted my face so that my nose was in the draft of fresh air so I could start breathing again.

"What are you doing?" DH asked.

"It smells like gas in here!" I replied.

After a brief pause accompanied by a rather incredulous look DH said, "Are you worried this is hurting our IVF cycle?"

"Of course! I don't want the gas fumes to harm the eggs I'm growing right now!" I said without any hesitation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monitoring #1 & a special thank you

After 2 nights of stims, I already have 2 follicles @ 10mm and 1 @ 9mm....which was slightly disappointing.

I am hesitant to even write that because the disappointment isn't emotional and I still feel calm and a sense of "it is what it is," but I know going into the appointment I did hope that I wouldn't have any at or above 10mm. Why, you may ask? Well, based on my last two IVF cycles, I stimmed better, had a greater quantity of eggs, and had embryos of greater quality for IVF #2 - which was also the cycle I stimmed slower (even though I was on the same starting dose of meds for both). So far my response this cycle is much more like IVF #1, which wasn't bad.....just not as "perfect." In IVF #1 I had some lead follicles that jumped out ahead, and I don't want that to happen this round. But, we'll see. I am continuing to pray and trust God, and am thankful I left today's appointment feeling completely calm and at peace.

One goal for this IVF is to not get worked up after each monitoring appointment. So far, so good - I was able to pray and let the mild disappointment roll off of my back. :)

****

Now that I am using some of the precious meds, I want to give a very special thank you to some kind, generous, and thoughtful women who offered to donate their left over medication to me. I was so humbled and thankful for their amazing gift. The following ladies mailed me either Follistim or Ganirelix - THANK YOU!

Nicole from Maybe momma some day (in the second trimester after an IVF BFP!)
Kelli from Life, Love, and the Miracle of Adoption ( a brand new mom to a beautiful newborn daughter!)

The following two ladies I know from an infertility web board I frequent:
babystinkbreath (currently cycling with me for her IVF #2!)
newsbaby (pregnant with twins from IVF #4!)

Thank you SO MUCH! I can't say it enough. We are scraping the bottom of the financial barrel for IF treatments now, and your generosity eased that burden tremendously. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween!

For the third year now, DH & I hosted a Halloween party and had a blast doing it! I think it is officially a tradition now. :) Some photos...

First, our inspiration:

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, taken on V-J Day, 1945 (from Life Magazine)

Our rendition (we had so much fun and I felt so cute!):

I actually bought this genuine sailor uniform (shirt & pants) off of Ebay for $10 (plus $10 shipping!) and got his hat a Halloween store. For my costume, I already owned the skirt (one of those I haven't worn in years and have been considering getting rid of - so glad I hadn't), I got the blouse, shoes, and tights at a thrift store for $8 total, and bought the hat on Ebay for $5. It was a fun little project to piece all of this together last month. :)

And some of the food and decorations:



Our friends came in some fabulous costumes, there was much talking and laughter, and our friends' kids had fun too! I planned two games for them. One was bobbing for apples, and the other was eating a small powdered donut hanging from a string with no hands. This was really cute to watch!

I hope you had a fun time with friends on Sunday!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stimming

In the midst of a throwing a huge Halloween party (so fun - pictures coming soon!), hosting some of DH's co-workers for dinner tonight, and an overall hectic schedule these last few days, I've barely realized that I started stims today and IVF #3 is underway. It doesn't feel real, and I think it would be nice to keep it that way.

DH has a sore throat today - I really don't want to get sick in the midst of our cycle. Boo. Please pray we would remain healthy!

By the way, I wish I didn't have to call this cycle IVF #3, because really it feels like #4 if you add in the frozen cycle. But I can't say 4 because IVF #4 sounds like 4 fresh cycles, you know? ART #4, maybe?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Baseline #2 today

All done with birth control pills - whoo-hoo! I haven't taken those in so long and I forgot how much I hate them and the insane amount of spotting that accompanies those terrible little pills.

Everything looked good at my baseline today, and my Estradiol was nice and low.

So I'm set to start stims on Monday - eek! It feels like forever since I've done any injections. Can you believe it's been three months since my last treatment cycle?! I'm starting with 1 vial of Menopur and 225 iu's of Follistim per day. He's also adding 81mg of aspirin per day, which I was happy about.

Nothing too exciting, but the real excitement (and anxiety and dread and hope) will begin on Monday. IVF #3, here we come...

Monday, October 25, 2010

From the mouth of babes

"Why can't you have a baby?" the 8-year-old asked me.

I had stopped by a friend's house on Friday to wish her a happy birthday. She is a stay at home mom to 3 kids, and we are in a church Bible study together that takes place weekly at their house.

When her son asked me this, I was stunned silent for a moment. We have shared our infertility with our whole Bible study....but after the kids had gone to bed. So I was surprised to hear this question come out of his mouth, and from the corner of my eye I could also see the embarrassed look on his mom's face.

I was surprised that he knew to even ask the question, but I didn't mind that he knew. Later his mom apologized, and said that the kids pray for our whole Bible study, and they had shared this with their son as a prayer request. Honestly I was touched that their kids would pray for us!

The real shock, however, was the bluntness that only a child has (or perhaps a few socially awkward adults :)). Many friends know about our infertility, but if any of them ask about it they use a softer, less direct method. As he said it, I felt like a normal, light-hearted conversation had suddenly shifted and knocked the wind out of me.

I managed a smile, gave a generic answer, and the conversation moved forward.

DH & I went out to dinner that night. I told him about this conversation and how shaken I felt. We had a nice night out, but I didn't feel quite like myself. We then went home to watch Le.gally Blond - a movie I own for some strange reason, but hadn't watched in years. On the way home, DH wanted to stop at Re.dbox to see if there were any good new movies there, and of course he found one (the new K.arate Kid - he was feeling nostalgic)....which I wasn't very excited about. Since we own the other I figured we might as well watch the rental, but after we started watching the other movie I got upset. I felt like a whiny 4-year-old... "But I don't wanna watch that movie!," but I tried to suck it up and enjoy the movie (it wasn't that good, but nothing to complain about, either).

The movie ended and all of my emotions flooded out. I was crying with a stream of tears trickling down my face, but not heavy crying. Just constant crying. I was sad in a life-is-hard kind of way, even though the trigger to this hard life was watching a movie that I didn't really want to see (I know, poor baby).

But, really, don't you have those days? When the weight of whatever struggles you face bear down on you? And even though you are so blessed and have a "good life," especially compared to people in much more difficult circumstances, you can just feel the sorrow of knowing life is not what it is meant to be? That even when this current struggle is over, there will be a new one? As DH & I talked about it, he could really relate. He has been having a difficult time at work lately, and although he overall enjoys his job and is thankful to have it, the endless toil of work has been a burden to him.

It made us think of Ecclesiastes, and it comforted us to read this:
Chapter 1
1The words of the Teacher, a]">[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

3 What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Delayed

Everything went great at my baseline appointment today! In fact, I had my lowest FSH ever - 7.54!! (My first FSH reading in April 2009 was 8.9, then 10.1 in March 2010, and 10.9 in May 2010) Perhaps it was the CoQ-10 vitamin I've been taking? Or just the natural fluctuation? Either way, it felt like good news! I know you're only as good as your highest FSH, but it is a little positive that it's lower, right?

However, my RE is going to a conference that would fall during the end of stimming and my ER, so we decided I would take birth control pills for 10-12 days. I could have had another RE in the practice work with me and do the ER, but we just felt better sticking with my RE since we have such a history together now.

So... more waiting. But at least I know how long this waiting will be!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cycle day 1!

Whew, after a very, very, very LONG cycle (for me - 66 days), I think my period has arrived. It's here. It's time. I feel anxiety for practically the first time in 66 days. I'm excited and happy. I can't wait to show up at the RE's tomorrow. I also dread the roller coaster that lies ahead.

This, my friends, is the love-hate relationship I have with fertility treatments.

IVF #3 is starting! I have been waiting for this day, and I must say that it has already been a challenging cycle.

1. It took so long to get here.
2. It kept tricking me about when it would start. A little spotting here...."oh good, my period must be around the corner"...spotting stopped....huh?
3. This week it was pretty clear that the spotting was the real deal. But then the spotting kept confusing me as to whether or not it was my actual period.

Warning, a TMI recap of the spotting and period variety follows:

This week....
Saturday - Monday: A little spotting. Looked promising but I wasn't holding my breath.

Tuesday: Heavier. Knew this had to be it. Now how long would the spotting last before the period arrived?

Wednesday night: Hey, look at that red when I wiped! Bright red! But it's not heavy...and I'm not crampy...maybe tomorrow. But normally my spotting isn't bright red.

Thursday morning: Spotting darker and lighter than night before. I felt reassured that it wasn't my period.

Thursday night: Bright red when I wiped and on my pantyliner. Not heavy, necessarily, but heavier than the spotting. This cycle has already been so weird....so what if the start of AF is different than my usual? What if this is it? How can I tell? I mentally freak out a little because the RE said I needed to start stims on cycle day 2 - but what if I get the day wrong??

Friday morning: Still some bright red going on, but still not heavy like my usual period feel. I call the nurse to get advice. While I'm waiting for her to call back, it starts. The unmistakable this-is-a-period-flow with cramps to accompany it. Thankful for the reassurance!

So my baseline appointment is tomorrow morning. I do have a little worry that somehow the bright red "spotting" for a couple days before my period could have still been my period, and I am starting my IVF cycle on the wrong day...but I feel 90% certain I got it right. Hopefully. I don't want to mess any of this up!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our usual weekend

This weekend was a "normal" one as far as weekends go. It's difficult to say what a normal one is, because there is often some kind of birthday party, family get together, wedding, visitor, youth event, etc. that can vary and leave a weekend feeling very full. But for a non-busy weekend, this is our gold standard:

Friday night: Date night!! DH & I have made this a weekly tradition, and hope to continue it in some form even after we have kids. Although we occasionally get more creative, we usually just go out to dinner and rent a movie...so the only thing that will most likely need to change after we have kids may be take-out instead of dining out. :)

This Friday we went out to a bit of a nicer restaurant to celebrate DH's good performance review at work and had so much fun! We came home, got comfy, and watched the movie Once (which our friends had let us borrow) while eating home-made apple pie that I had made with a friend. Lovely night. (By the way, we didn't really love the movie despite its amazing reviews on Ama.zon...?!)

Saturday morning/ afternoon: I made coffee while DH toasted some English muffins and topped them with boysenberry jam. We did some reading, and then lounged around for awhile. I went to the grocery store, and then made Sloppy Joe's (so much better than from a can!), coleslaw, and baked sweet potato spears.

Saturday Evening: Took the above listed dinner over to a friend's house and ate with them. They had their 2nd baby about a month ago (and he was 10lbs 10ozs at birth!!), so we brought the meal to help out and get a chance to spend time with them. DH & I played Bingo with their 3 year old daughter, and after she went to bed we all watched the last two episodes of The Office.

Sunday: Went to church which is always a treat. Came home and DH made us an egg sandwich for brunch, and then we again had some lounge around time. I planned our Halloween Party (this will be our 3rd annual one), and sent out the Evite. I also found some cute decorations I want to make for the party, and DH & I planned out our costumes....more to come on that later!

All in all, a wonderful weekend. And as I enjoyed each part of it, I felt thankful that we are enjoying our pre-kids days. We have fun together, enjoy our sleep-ins, do a lot with friends, and try to live in the present. And even though the present doesn't have the kids I would have hoped for by now, we sure do have a lot to enjoy.

Thankful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A single tear

Tonight was just like many other nights. I made dinner and had it ready for DH when he got home (aren't I a good wife?). DH put some music on and we lit the candles in our dining room. We started eating and filling each other in on our days.

DH told me about having lunch with a friend/ co-worker (we are also friends with his wife and kids). He knows about our infertility, and has been a really sweet support to DH. During the lunch, the friend mentioned that his wife was reading a book, and in it there was a quote from a woman who had had cancer AND infertility, and in her opinion infertility was as difficult as having cancer. Now, I have no idea what it's like to have cancer, but as hard as infertility is I still think cancer would be worse. Either way, though, it was obvious that this quote illustrated just how painful infertility is....and it made our friend and his wife think of us and want to check in.

After DH told me about his lunch and other events at work, he said simply, "As much as I enjoy work, it's not a family. I want a family."

I shared with DH about my own hopefulness - that somehow throwing out "the plan," knowing God is guiding us, and that we can potentially keep trying had renewed some hope in my heart. I told him it has been good for my emotional state to only work part-time at one of my jobs after leaving the more stressful one behind. And I confessed that I have even started looking at nurseries and imagining how we would decorate ours....which is something I never-ever-ever let myself do before.

And then a single tear rolled down my left cheek - a tear of pain, of hope, and of tiredness. "I will get to decorate that room soon," I said.

I don't know when we will be at the end of all of this, nor do I know whether or not that ending will also include a pregnancy. But I feel like we are nearing the end in a figurative sense (if not literal), and for the first time the end brings hope rather than a sense of doom. I have hope that we WILL have a baby who needs a nursery, whether that is an adopted child or biological one. I know I have said this before, and I will probably keep stating this in one way or another. But I have learned that there are many stages of trusting God, acceptance, and peace, and for today I simply feel one step closer. We will get there, and God will be guide us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

One more week?!

Based on what the nurse said when I went in for bloodwork on cycle day 39 (which was 2 weeks ago), I can expect my period around one week from today.

IVF #3 might be only one week from starting! I continue to be rather inexplicably hopeful, which in turn makes me excited for the cycle to get under way. Some very generous blogging friends have given me their leftover meds, so I am all set and ready to go.

The only only thing holding me back from counting down the days in eager anticipation is the fact that I am somewhat doubtful I will actually get my period in a week. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I never really saw any typical ovulation or luteal phase signs or symptoms. Granted I didn't temp or use OPKs (I just wanted to enjoy this cycle and "relax"), but if I had to wager a guess I think I will have to go into the RE in a little over a week for more blood work.

Here's to hoping I'm wrong!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Acceptance

This weekend we went to dinner at our friends' house. We hadn't spent much time with them in awhile, mostly due to the very different stages of life that generally make us operate on different time schedules and within different social circles. Since we have begun trying to conceive, their toddler has turned 4 1/2, they had a second child, and a third one is on the way. DH & I were impressed with their happy and bright children, and while they certainly did not make parenting look easy - we commented to each other later that the father has looked rather ragged and run-down since child #1 was born - being in their home made our longing more concrete. Their home life seemed tiring but joyful, active but rich, and difficult but worthwhile.

After the kids went to bed, we spent a long time discussing things relating to children. Their kids lover literature, and we talked about books they have read to them, books we all remember from our own childhood, and what makes a good story. Honestly, I think one of the things I look forward to most is reading to my children someday.

As we sat in their living room littered with toys, I longed but I did not experience jealousy or pain. The emotions of an infertile are unpredictable, and I am often surprised by the things that I feel ok about - or don't.

I had the most obvious thought: I will never be this family. We will never have the 3-4 children in the way we expected, and we won't have them 2.5 years apart. We will never decide how we want our family to look. And I realized that I am ok with this. I think I have accepted that infertility is a permanent part of our lives now. So much of the pain and suffering to date has been the loss of "the dream" and the loss of my ability to plan and "control" my life (as much as any person really can do), but I feel like I am at a place of acceptance in regards to this. Of course, this place of peace can come and go, and I know circumstances could easily make it crash down around me. But I am thankful God has brought me here, and I feel like I have "made it" to a certain place in this journey. As weird as it sounds I am content here. I don't want to stay here forever, but being here - where God wants me to be - is finally alright.

I have not, however, accepted the loss of a biological child yet, and I feel like that is the crux of my current pain. Thankfully, I mostly feel this pain after failed cycles, so my day-to-day life is generally happy and optimistic. But when it is there - wow, that pain is deep. But if God has brought me to the current state of peace, I am thankfully reminded that he will lead, guide, and provide peace if biological children are not part of his plan for us.

God may still have a biological child in store for us. We might adopt. We might have twins. We might adopt a sibling set. In the end, the family God gives us could look almost identical on the outside to the one I dreamed of, or it could look entirely different. I can't wait to see it and am praying it begins to become reality sooner than later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy fall!

Perhaps because I live in Southern C.alifornia and we don't have "real" seasons, I compensate by loving them. I like to try and cook seasonally, decorate my house a little, and save certain favorite flavors for the coordinating season. And of all the seasons, fall is my favorite - I love the coziness, the smells, the tastes, the colors, the foods, and the fact that it also means Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching.

Today was my day off from work, so in between chores I have done some fall celebrating. :)


First, I bought a pumpkin spice latte...
Via Starbucks

Then, I put out some of my fall decorations...

Via Pottery Barn (I don't have the straw or acorns, but I did fill a vase with leaves and a candle...)

I made some pumpkin bread....

via Simply Recipes

And I am making one of our favorite butternut squash recipes for dinner...

Via myrecipes.com/ Cooking Light

I am so thankful God gives us season to mark passages of time, and for the small joys and traditions within them! It really makes me happy, and there is something so nostalgic and sweet about fall in particular that brings so many memories to mind. I am thankful and blessed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thankful for the delay

Now that we are doing our IVF cycle a month later than expected, I am actually really thankful for the delay. One reason is that it will give more time for the vitamins DH is taking to hopefully be effective, since a September IVF cycle was cutting it close to the 72 day guideline for new sp.erm production.

The main reason, however, is the timing of a potential due date. I have learned during our trying to conceive journey that, as an infertile, I simply cannot plan my life around any hoped for due dates. I wouldn't postpone a cycle simply to have a different due date (unless there was a serious conflict) because there are so many unknowns that plans just have to be thrown out the window.

If miraculously positive, a September IVF would have given me a late June due date....but late June is when we always go to summer camp with our church's youth group. DH and I have gone for 5 years now, and June 2011 will be the last time we would go since our students will be entering their senior year of high school. I very much want to be there with them, but my reasoning circled back to the "no planning around due dates" rule outlined above, and I decided we should still move forward and simply trust God with the timing if he did bless us with a pregnancy.

But now we are anticipating an October IVF...and IF it's positive and IF it's a singleton...we would have a late July 2011 due date. I know I probably wouldn't be able to go away to camp for the whole week, but I could at least drive out there for a day to see my sweet girls at their last summer camp. These are a lot of if-statements, I know, so only God knows how anything would actually happen. And part of me feels silly for even mapping this out. But I want to be hopeful, and amazingly, thankfully, I am still hopeful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

And the wait continues

I went to the RE today and had some blood work done. The nurse said my "estrogen is rising" and my progesterone is low, so they think I will ovulate in a week or so, and should then get my period in about 3 weeks. I'm not really sure how they know it is rising since it's just one measure - what if it is still dropping after my frozen cycle? But I'm guessing it fell within a range of "preparing to ovulate," and my RE did say late ovulation can be a side effect of all the drugs.

I'm a little disappointed that the next cycle is so delayed, but overall relieved to simply know what's going on in my body and not continually anticipating the next cycle. Hopefully I can just sit back and enjoy the next 3 weeks. :)

****

Oh, the irony. At the RE's office this morning I saw a little baby bump on one of the nurse's assistants/ phlebotomists. She is actually one of my favorite people there, and I always hope she is the one who does my blood draw. I didn't congratulate her today - she's at that size that it's 100% obvious to me that she is pregnant, but doesn't feel obvious enough to say anything, you know? I just had to chuckle to myself that it must be incredibly awkward to work at an infertility clinic as a very young and pregnant woman. I put myself in her shoes, and I don't think I would want to be in that position! Not that you can do anything about it if it's your job, but awkward seems like the most applicable word for her next few months at work...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Still waiting

I haven't posted because everyday I think, "Tomorrow will be the day - cycle day one!" And then I imagine writing my IVF cycle #4 kick off post to announce it to you all....

The only problem is, I'm still waiting for my period. I spotted very lightly for a couple days over a week ago (and by lightly, I mean very lightly and almost non-existent - zero chance it was my period), and then nothing. Today is cycle day 35, and this is my longest (non-medicated) cycle EVER. Prior to this month, I think my longest cycle was 28 days!

At what point do you think I should call the RE? I guess I either didn't ovulate, or I ovulated really late. I'm in no particular rush to get the next cycle underway, it is just strange that I have been expecting it for about 10 days now but I have no hints that my period is even approaching.

And before you get your hopes up, I have been testing every couple days just to, you know, make sure....and have been rewarded with very clear and certain BFNs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hey body

In the earlier TTC days, I knew my body like the back of my hand. I hardly needed to temp or use OPK's to know when I was ovulating (although I still did faithfully, to ensure we were timing it right), I knew when the spotting would start, and I knew when my period would come.

However, since starting IF treatments my body has changed, and I have lost touch with it. Thanks to constant RE appointments as well as drugs telling my body what to do, I haven't monitored anything for a long time. On the non-treatment months, my body is usually spotting nearly everyday in what feels like wild complaint to what I am doing with it. However, I certainly don't feel guilty for giving it drugs, since my body has done it's fair share of spotting to spite me anyway (we have a bit of a love-hate relationship, I guess).

This month my body loved me - or, at least, the residual estrogen from the FET. Virtually NO spotting (only a little around cycle day 10), and even now I only have the faintest spotting to warn me that my period is approaching.

Instead of a super short spotting filled cycle, I am on cycle day 29!! This is quite a long cycle for me, and that combined with the lack of spotting made me start to wonder if I should take an HPT. Not that I really got my hopes up, but still....maybe?!

BFN.

I think the plain and simple truth is that I just don't know how to read my body anymore, and it seems to do something different every non-medicated cycle. Thanks for an enjoyable cycle, body, but let's get this show on the road!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I love weddings

We just got back from a beautiful and happy wedding, and DH & I have sadly realized this may be the last wedding we attend for a little while. We can't think of any friends who are engaged or soon-to-be engaged....which is strange after the countless weddings we have been to in the last eight years or so!

General wedding favorites:
*Watching the groom as he sees the bride for the first time
*Holding DH's hand during the ceremony and reflecting on our own vows
*The joy radiating from the couple
*The bride's dress!
*Catching up with other friends
*Yummy food & cake

How about you? Do you have other wedding favorites?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Processing

Finding out that my brother is expecting has not been as difficult as I expected, but it has been the kind of news that is constantly pulsing through my mind. Most often it's the same pieces of information and the same emotions whirling around over and over again, but occasionally there will be a new thought to add to the mix. I have told any friend I have seen in the last two days - it is one of the first thing that bursts out of my mouth, almost like I can't contain it.

My brother himself called me a few hours after my mom told me the news - I acted surprised when he told me. I was actually quite touched that he called, since we have never really had a "close" relationship, but my family and I have been working on it. Also, I had the realization that I have been so very blessed with my family: I have my younger brother with whom I am much closer, a loving relationship with my parents, four grandparents who loved on me like no other (three have passed away), and an aunt and an uncle with no children of their own....I have had many close family relationships. This realization came in contrast to the fact that my older brother has not really had this, and, to some extent, we are some of the only family he has. I became thankful that when he had happy news, he called our dad to tell him - and even called me!

And how could I not feel happiness for him in light of his own happiness? I could tell even through the phone that his cheeks were probably sore from smiling so much, and he probably wished he could shout, "I'm going to be a dad!" from the rooftops. As difficult as the situation is, I have decided to hope and pray for the best for him and his new family. Perhaps this will be a positive turning point in his life.

The final gut punch, however, is that he told my dad they have already picked out names. Out of the millions of names out there, can you believe they picked the same girl's name that we have? Claire (or Clara, my dad couldn't remember). I know it's not the most unusual name, but still?!? In my effort to fight the temptation to feel bitter, however, I have decided to pray that they have a boy! Ha.

I am praying for God to give me strength, peace, and grace to extend love to my brother (and his baby!) without holding anything back.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unexpected family news

I've had my share of pregnancy announcements over the last few years, but I always felt rather "safe" within my family.

On DH's side, he has 2 older brothers. One married an older woman who is past her child bearing years (and has 3 children from a previous marriage), and the other has a 9-year-old son. He and his wife *could* have another child, but from comments they have made, his wife's rather serious health issues, and the fact that their son is nine has made us always feel pretty certain they were "one and done."

On my side, I have a single 25 year-old brother. I also have a half brother twelve years older than me. He married and divorced in his twenties, and then re-married about five years ago. This is the long-lost brother I mentioned in December where I described the situation: "He and my dad (and thus, my family) were not in contact with him for a ten year period while I was in high school/ college, but he got married 5 years ago and our connection was re-established. Needless to say, with such limited contact, he is my brother but he is also like an acquaintance. DH, my parents, and I went out to visit him & his wife 2 years ago, and now they are coming out here to visit us this weekend." The update from that post is that we had a really great visit in December, and I think we all felt like we were starting to bond. We particularly liked his wife - she was sweet and really fun to hang out with.

However, a few months after our visit in December, my brother called to let us know that he and his wife were getting divorced. We were all saddened to hear this news, and my ever-cynical brother seemed even more cynical about life and relationships. They are currently separated and waiting for their divorce to finalize.

So, of the above mentioned people, can you guess who we got a pregnancy announcement from?? Really, any of them would have been rather shocking and surprising.

But, yes, my older half brother called to tell my dad he's going to be a Grandpa. The mother of his child is somebody he apparently has known since 5th grade but we have never met or heard of. She is also in the process of getting her second divorce, and already has an 18-year-old and 13-year-old from her previous marriage.

While I am happy that he is happy, and happy that this is a child - what a miracle - it was hard news to swallow today. It sounds like a fairly dysfunctional situation to bring a baby into....so I hope he and his new girlfriend can make it work. But, really, when I am honest with myself I know I am simply jealous - jealous that she got pregnant at forty-one, jealous that they got pregnant under such non-ideal circumstances, and, most of all, jealous that he got to call and tell my dad he's going to be a grandpa.

I want to make my dad a grandpa. :(

Monday, August 30, 2010

Snippets

This weekend we drove 16 hours round trip for a good friend's wedding. In fact, DH was the best man in the wedding. It was a joyful weekend....but we are soooo tired. I was a last minute "wedding coordinator" at the ceremony, and that was much more difficult and stressful than expected! I think it will take a few days for us to recover, but it was wonderful.

We met a couple there who had adopted a sibling set of 3 children from Africa. We talked with them for quite a while at the rehearsal dinner, and it was such a treat to talk to people on the "other side" who can once again remind us that there is another side to all of this. And they had quite a long journey! They started TTC 19 years ago, did infertility treatments with our same RE (they are from our area), decided to adopt 13 years ago, were matched with their children 12 years ago, and brought them home 6 years ago. Yes, they waited SIX YEARS to bring their children home. This story would have scared me if they hadn't been filled with such joy, and they said as difficult as those years were it was so worth it for their kids, and that those are the kids God wanted for them. Wow.

****

Today I spent time with a woman I met at church a few months ago who I found out is most likely facing infertility. They have been TTC 10 months, and are about to start IF testing next month. It was great to swap stories and pray together, and I felt like I could counsel her a little about testing and treatments.

She and her husband are praying about whether to actually pursue treatments or adopt, and it sounds like she is leaning towards adoption. I confess I felt a little jealous that she already has such excitement and joy to take that path to build her family...and it made me feel like something is wrong with me for not desiring to adopt at this time. Am I holding something back from the Lord? Am I selfish in my desires? Is it crazy that after this long and this many TTC failures I'm not ready to look into it? However, I also have been reminded more than ever this month that God is directing our steps...and I have been praying that he WILL fill me with peace and a desire to adopt if/ when it is time. God has a purpose for us to be doing treatments right now, just like he may be guiding this couple to adopt rather than do treatments. I guess the struggle is feeling like treatments are the "less Godly" or "more selfish" path somehow.

She gave me a book that has really impacted her called Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore. I am looking forward to reading it, and I DO prayerfully want to be open to the possibility of adoption. Maybe God will use this book to grow this desire? Has anybody else read it?

***

My cycle this month has been surprisingly nice - very little spotting and I have felt "right" hormonally. Obviously I have no measure for that, but I am pleasantly amazed and enjoying it. I have had so.much.spotting every month since we began TTC, and have had even more than usual the months following a medicated cycle. However, my body must have liked the few meds I was on for the Frozen Egg Cycle!