Monday, January 31, 2011

Meltdown culmination

After the upsetting news on Friday that surgery will cost us a fair amount out of pocket, I felt incredibly emotional and fragile the rest of the day. Were we making the right decision? Should we do the surgery? Is it worth it? What if the doctor gets in there and doesn't find anything that needs fixing? Will it even matter if we only end up doing one more treatment cycle? Should we even do one more treatment cycle? Maybe we should do more treatment cycles?

I was a mess. I honestly don't feel much peace about any option before us. Treatment, adoption, waiting and doing nothing...every single one fills me with anxiety. What should we do, Lord?

I told DH that night about the cost, and as expected his first reaction was to cancel the surgery. He said things like:

Let's not do the surgery.

I'm so sick on infertility treatments.

I'm tired of spending money on this stuff.

Maybe we should just stop here and move on to adoption.

That last one, of course, made my tears spill over. I sat there quietly crying, trying to absorb it. Should we? Could I? DH sat quietly and waited, too. Finally, I told him I didn't know if I could do that yet. I guess somewhere deep down I am still holding out hope for pregnancy. Or, at least, it is still too painful for me to face accepting we will never get pregnant.

DH said he wanted to see what my reaction was - he wondered if maybe I was ready - but that clearly I'm not. Immediately he softened and told me the root of all his frustration is watching me hurt after each failed treatment. He wants it to end so I can stop hurting. I asked him if he felt ready to adopt, and he said no. We just feel stuck in a hard place.

Throughout this conversation, my crying became harder and more intense. DH held me as we laid in bed and I cried. He said things like:

You are so strong.

It hurts me so much to see you hurting.

I admire your strength.

I know it hurts but I see you trusting God. Thank you for trusting God.


DH held me while I cried, and then prayed that God would give us direction. He said we should do the surgery and do the frozen egg cycle as we had originally planned, because that was "the plan" and it makes the most sense out of anything. He then wiped my face, turned the water on for a shower, and made me some tea. I am so blessed and thankful to have him.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pre-op appointment today, complete with freak out

No, I'm not freaking out about the surgery itself. That's fine. I have had this before (hysteroscopic myomectomy), and it was very simple.

I am freaking out about money. $$$

The money I did NOT expect I would have to pay for this. The $1,000 bomb that was dropped on me today as I was registering for Tuesday's surgery. The $1,000 we do have, thankfully, but never wanted to spend on surgery.

When I had this same procedure done in 2009, I think it was as close to free as you could get. I think it's not this time for two reasons: 1. Our insurance coverage has changed a little and we pay 10% and 2. My last surgery was at an outpatient surgery center, but this is at the hospital where my RE does his surgeries. But I was certainly not expecting this.

I know 90% coverage is still really, really great. It's just so hard to spend money on something so elective, that may not get us at all closer to having a baby. Something that we could forego and simply skip ahead to the frozen egg cycle.

And after all the money we spent last year on fertility treatments, I just can't handle spending more. It is difficult to think about that money and realize we have nothing to show for it, but at least it was money we had decided ahead of time to spend and knew the risk. This just came out of left field for me and I lost it.

I didn't cry in front of the hospital lady, but I am sure she could tell I was upset. I literally felt sick to my stomach and considered canceling the surgery right then and there... But I didn't have enough conviction to make that kind of decision right there on the spot. Instead I pre-paid for the surgery so I could get the 20% discount she was offering, while internally struggling like crazy over it.

Can't I just get pregnant for free like everybody else?

Oh, and this doesn't even include anesthesia. They bill separately and I don't even know how much of that my insurance will cover, but I'm choosing to live in denial about that a little longer.

Also really hoping DH doesn't flip out when I tell him tonight. I've already cried enough over this today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Emotional break

I think after last week's two posts, and all the emotion and thought surrounding them, I left infertility mode and attempted to live in non-IF land.

I think I needed an emotional break.

The break has been oh-so-nice, and I'm not sure when I'll be leaving it. Probably when the next pregnancy announcement comes my way. ;)

I'm still working through the comments on the lurker post, and will hopefully be leaving a comment for each of you very soon!

xoxo

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Circles Part 2

Thank you all so very much for your comments on my last post. It blesses me tremendously to know that others care as I wrestle through all of this, can relate, or can offer another perspective on the topic. I especially want to thank my friend Michelle and a new commenter Deborah for sharing as an adoptee and a birth mother.

I finished the book* a couple days ago, and it had such a beautiful ending that I have to share - although I am sorry to give away the ending of the book (I guess this is a spoiler alert for anyone who may end up reading it, although it is certainly not the kind of book with a huge surprise ending :)).

I'm not sure what kind of adoption this would be classified as, but the author and her husband had a relationship with the birth mother during her pregnancy, sent cards/ letters (and pictures?) throughout their son Zac's life, and they did have a visit when he was two years old. Their agreement was that when their son was older and more emotionally mature he could make the decision about whether or not to meet his birth mother, but when he was fifteen years old she died (so heartbreaking).

Zac and his parents attend her funeral, and Zac meets his biological relatives, which includes 4 siblings who were raised by the birth mother. Over the course the day, they find out that the birth mother was addicted to - and over dosed on - prescription pills, and that her two oldest children are alcoholics. I felt like the author did a beautiful job expressing love, compassion, and tenderness for this family while also contrasting their life - and their son's life. It was a very emotional and vivid chapter.

"Zac was quiet as we drove home. Finally he said, 'I don't want my life to change. I like it just the way it is.'

'Do you want to keep in touch with the kids?' I asked.

'Someday, maybe. Not now. I'm not ready for all that.'

I had to ask. 'Was it hard to meet so many new family members all at once?'

'Mom,' he said, 'you're my family. You and Dad and Tera - you're my family. God worked it out exactly right.'

And he had." (Woodward 192-193)

I bawled, but this time with very different feelings than I had had at the earlier parts of the book. I loved what he said about his family, but the part that really melted my heart was when he said, "God worked it out exactly right." Wow.

Yesterday, I felt like the ending of this book and your comments were ruminating through my mind. I was first struck by how unique every adoption is - different birth mothers, different situations surrounding the adoption, and different adoptive families - that make each adoption story utterly unique. Just as with raising a biological child, there are many unknowns that are scary, but with adoption there seem to be even more variables that can make it seem scarier...but it can also be very beautiful. There is heart break or suffering, but I believe God works through those things in very powerful ways, and I imagine that would be magnified through adoption.

As I was preparing dinner last night, a thought popped into my head. In my last post I described the heart break and suffering I see in adoption...and how scared I am of that. But as I chopped an onion, I thought, "Who better to a parent a child who has suffered the loss of a parent they may never know (or at least be parented by), than I who lost a child I never got to parent. I can relate to and understand those deep-rooted feelings."

I am not saying that somebody who has not suffered through infertility should not adopt, but I suddenly saw a unique gift that I might have in the situation....that on some level I may be more equipped to love and parent a child who has also lost an unknown dream. I think one layer of my fear peeled away as I thought about this, because I think all along I felt like my infertility made me needier and thus less-qualified to parent an adopted child; in my heart I was scared I was indeed going to be a baby stealer.

This moment felt like an amazing gift from God; an answered prayer that God would do something to remind me he is there and he is working. I felt a tiny bit of healing, and so I thank God for this encouragement that he is working in me. I see a long road ahead of me, and I certainly don't feel "called" to adoption yet or like I am ready to move forward with it, but if that is his will for me he will get me there.

*Some have you expressed an interest in reading the book I am describing (Inconceivable by Shannon Woodward), and I do highly recommend it. However, please know that it is a Christian book, and she focuses the last half of the book on her faith and the healing work God does in her life - I just don't want somebody to pick it up and feel surprised about this.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Circles

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy (fertiles) be exalted over me?
...
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:1-2 & 5-6

I could not have described the prayers of my heart better than this psalm. And, yes, those two parts are the same psalm...and even as I cry out with the first part, I feel like I can simultaneously agree with the second part. But I still often wonder if God really hears my cries? Does he really see each tear that falls? Does he really have a plan for me, and will he show me? How long will I have to wait in this place of pain & confusion? Scripture, knowing the nature of God, and remembering his past work in my life guide me to simply have faith and wait, but my heart cries. How long, Oh Lord?

I also want to link to my friend A's post that describes many of my own thoughts as I wait (not very patiently) on God.

Yesterday, I finally picked up the book Inconceivable by Shannon Woodward that I have been putting off reading, and read about 2/3 of it in one sitting . I sobbed as I read the first part, and how much her descriptions of the emotions that surround infertility mirrored my own. It is so much like reading an infertility blog, where somebody can often give words and a voice to feelings I have had but perhaps struggle to name or express myself. Woodward's journey is a heartbreaking one that moves to adoption soon after her infertility diagnosis, and includes many failed adoption attempts.

Her feelings throughout her first successful adoption described many of my own thoughts as I seek God about whether or not he would have us move forward with adoption. However, at this time I do not feel God's leading in that direction - or any direction for that matter - and I have so many conflicting thoughts, emotions, and doubts about adoption.

Woodward pursues domestic adoption, which is the form of adoption that I have thought the most about. As selfish as it sounds, I think it is my starting point because it is the one that most closely mimics birthing a biological child (outside of embryo adoption, which is currently not a consideration for us). In most domestic adoptions, it does seem like one is able to bring home a newborn (unlike international adoption), and the goal is for you to parent the baby for 18+ years (unlike foster to adopt where the goal is reunification with the birth parents).

I want to share some poignant passages from the book where Woodward shares her heart as she navigates through her first successful adoption. The emotions behind these quotes reflect my own fears and questions as I think about adoption:

Woodward is meeting with a birth mother who has chosen her and her husband to adopt the baby. Upon her arrival, the birth mother lights a cigarette and begins smoking, which understandably upsets Woodward as she thinks about how the cigarettes are effecting her unborn baby. She writes, "I watched her smoke and felt a sickening grip of frustration...I was a beggar, and beggars don't make demands. Beggars take whatever is handed to them, and smile and say thank you. She could do whatever she pleased between now and the moment she handed that child to me - and I had no right to stop her. It's the law of pander. You hold out your cup and you don't say a word." (69)

Later, Woodward and her husband arrive at the hospital just after their son is born. They enter the elevator full of joy and excitement to meet their son, and end up sharing the elevator with a janitor.

"'It's pretty late for a visit - but you folks look happy. Must be good news,' he prods.

'The best,' Dave says.

'We're adoptive parents; our baby has just been born,' I add.

His smile fades.... 'Now listen,' he begins his lecture, 'don't you two be runnin' in there all happy and such. This is a hard time for the mom. Be sensitive.'

His words are like liquid nitrogen. They surround me in a cloud of frigid accusation and harden every soft spot they touch. My heart is cold like ice when the door opens and we mechanically step out. I am an interloper, pretender, the insensitive stealer of babies. Why would anyone in her right mind let me even touch her child?" (81)

Throughout their time at the hospital, everybody from the nurses to the birth mother's sister treats the adoptive parents like they are baby stealers. Fortunately, they have a a strong relationship with the birth mother, but then on the day they arrive at the hospital to take their son home, she says, "If I hadn't grown to love [the adoptive parents], this baby would be home with me right now." (86)

I guess in the face of the birth mother's grief and so much opposition, I wonder if I could take the baby home. It's just such a cloudy and painful situation for everyone involved. I vividly remember Leah writing about the nature of loss in adoption on her blog - a birth mother loses her child, a child loses his birth mother, and an adoptive couple has, often times, already experienced much loss through infertility. When I start thinking about it, the heaviness and truth of those losses is heartbeaking to me.

And then I come back to this: why can't I just have the simple joy of pregnancy and childbirth, that is not linked to so much suffering?

See, I am back to square one: infertility treatments that don't work.

**Disclaimer: I know adoption is a hot topic. I welcome your opinions, but if anybody leaves a hateful comment it will not be published.**

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It happened

The first pregnancy announcement of 2011 has happened. Thankfully, I'm doing ok with the news and it did not come as a surprise. My pregnancy radar had already suspected it back in November (when she must have been only 5-6 weeks pregnant or so - have you noticed just how powerful an infertile's pregnancy radar is?!), and it was somebody who was almost a fellow infertile...which helps a little. I am glad she did not have to become a true infertile.

I say "almost infertile" because she is the woman I met with back in August who had been TTC for 10 months and was about to start infertility testing. At the time I had enjoyed meeting with her and praying together, but I also felt a little jealous that they were already ready and excited to pursue adoption. In fact, over the next couple months we would talk about their adoption plans when we ran into each other, and they had begun the paperwork for a foster to adopt agency. They were honestly very excited about this, and while I was happy for them, my own selfish heart felt jealous at their excitement. That after less than a year of trying God gave them this path, while I still feel like I am floundering with no clear direction from him...and my heart still yearns and longs to have a biological child. Why did it seem so easy for them? Needless to say, my own insecurities made my run-ins with her feel more and more awkward. Obviously it was nothing she did, but my own sin and jealousy got in the way of feeling joy with her.

Fast forward to November when I stopped seeing her at church. In fact, I would see her husband around but not her, and I heard him say "she wasn't feeling well." The alarm bells went off in my mind and I began to suspect she was pregnant. I picked up on a few more clues along the way, and with this week came the official Facebook announcement, including 14 week "preggo pics" and all.

I don't feel emotional in the weepy sense over this, but I do find myself filled with questions that only the Lord will answer in time. Why is that this couple who was honestly very excited to pursue adoption was able to get pregnant....and not us? I have no doubt they will also adopt down the road....but still. Why?? And why am I NOT ready to go down the adoption path, but cannot conceive after almost 3 years, 4 IUI's, and 4 ART cycles? Why??

I also feel a little miffed that I heard about it over Facebook and not in an email from her. We are not close friends, but I guess I thought after swapping infertility stories (or almost infertility stories, in her case), she would have understood. I told DH that I actually feel like a tool (I have no idea if this is the right use of that word, nor have I ever used it before, but it just seemed like the best fit with whatever definition I have in mind - ha!). I initiated meeting with her when I learned they were struggling to conceive, and thought I could at least be a support to somebody and share my knowledge about testing and treatments. I shared my sordid IVF history with her, but it turned out they were giddy about adoption... and I wished I hadn't spilled my guts. And then it turned out they got pregnant soon after, anyway, and I really wished I hadn't shared so much of myself.

*sigh* I feel like this phase of my infertility journey will be one of grieving, but also one of refinement as jealousy rears its ugly head. Have mercy on me, Lord, and help me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank you

Wow. Thank you to each of you who took the time to de-lurk and comment! I was so touched by each of your comments and that I got to hear a little of your own stories. And while I intended those comments to be a way for me to learn more about you, I was also humbled and encouraged to hear how my blog and my infertility journey has blessed many of you. Thank you.

In other news, I did schedule my surgical hysteroscopy for February 1. It will *hopefully* be at or around cycle day 7, but of course it is slightly stressful that the only parameter is that I'm not on my period for the surgery....yet if I ovulate late I could be. But I couldn't schedule it any later because we are going to Washington, DC the next week for a vacation!!! I'm so excited - we haven't really gone on vacation in a long time thanks to infertility, and it was so freeing to just plan a trip and decide to go...and not worry about where I will be in a treatment cycle. So I'm trying to not to let the scheduling of the surgery ruin that care-free feeling.

It is also nice to have something special to look forward to. DH & I are traveling with my ILs (who we love and are very fun and easy to be with ), getting a vacation rental, and are hoping the weather is decent in early February. We've never been, I love history, and did I mention how nice it is to have something short-term to look forward to?

Now I'm off to go comment back... :)

PS - After reading kkasun's comment, I realized what an amazing resource I have here - anybody have any DC recommendations?! We're planning on the regular stuff, of course (monuments, Capitol, Smothsonian, etc), but any others or yummy places to eat would be appreciated! (Thanks kkasun!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A special hello to lurkers

This blog has been an amazing place to process, grieve, reflect, and receive support. I can't say it enough - thank you for sitting with me. I won't always be in this place. I was reminded today in my Bible reading that God has a plan, and I am waiting for it to unfold. Thank you for waiting with me.

I have been incredibly blessed by so many of you who regularly comment, and how we share a friendship through our blogs. I have also been surprised, thankful, and amazed for support from all over the world - particularly those of you who reached out to me through email to share your own stories, prayers, and support. This is always so humbling, totally unexpected, but much appreciated.

In the early days of blogging, I always tried to leave a comment or respond in some way to anybody who left a comment here. Unfortunately, as my readership grew this required more time and attention, but my grief simultaneously grew and my motivation and energy to comment waned. All that to say, I have been slacking on responding to many of your comments and I'm sorry!

But this week is blog delurking week, and I want to say a special hello to all of my readers - even you lurkers! I would love for you to leave a comment over the next few days and say hello - even if you have commented before. Why are you reading my little ol' blog? Tell me a little about yourself. I would love to "meet you," but if that is too intimidating an anonymous "hello" will do. And if you leave a comment that links to a blog or some way to contact you, I will definitely stop by and "meet you" in your space - no more slacking. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome 2011?

The start of the new year has been much more difficult than I expected. How does one celebrate a figurative new beginning and fresh start when the year ahead looks much like the year prior? And the year before that? And the year before that? And, really, the year ahead looks like it could be even more painful?

I know how pessimistic that sounds. Yes, this next year could be one of great joy for a multitude of reasons - why, there could even be a baby of some shape or form by the end of it. But as that ball dropped on New Year's Eve I could not hope for that elusive baby.

Instead, I logged on to Facebook and saw DH's twenty-six year old friend's status: "After holding (my sister's baby) in my arms, (my twenty-one year old) wife informed me that I wanted to have a baby. She then told me she could help make that happen." And 2011 then loomed ahead of me as a year filled with pregnancy announcements. Pregnancy announcements, tears, jealousy - I don't want to be that person. I want to look forward to the year ahead, but I just can't. At least not today.

I know it is small - and I should be praying for much bigger things - but my main prayer these past four days has been that God would give me strength for the pregnancy announcements ahead. I feel them coming, but I don't feel strong enough to bear it.

DH's words of comfort? Stop using Facebook. I think there is some wisdom to that, but then I imagine not hearing the news via Facebook and instead finding out about somebody's pregnancy in a public place....so maybe Facebook is my friend?

And at least I can "hide" people there.