Friday, April 29, 2011

A few questions answered

It is mind boggling to me that I can feel 100% confident that stopping treatments is the right decision for us, but can also experience so much pain simultaneously. I know that God has led us to this place, and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders with the relief of never having to experience the pain, stress, and grief of another failed treatment cycle again. BUT it is so weird to experience that confidence and relief and at the same time feel completely devastated that we are stopping, grief at the loss of what we dreamed of, fear at the unknown that lies ahead, and, at times, to want to run back to what we "know" - fertility treatments. I am living proof that these two seemingly opposing experiences can live side by side within a person.

Some of you have asked about other options to still build our family through various treatment paths, and I wanted to answer those questions since I have never really written about them on this blog.

  • A second opinion: This is something I have considered at various points along the way, and is one area that I sometimes feel guilty about because maybe we didn't do "everything" we could have. BUT, the reality is we all have to draw our lines somewhere as to what we will do, and the emotional and financial consequences of each decision we make are large factors. For us, we felt like our desire to limit fertilization to a small number of eggs disqualified us from many practices (or at least would make second opinions a bit of a moot point - not enough "data" to work with). I know you don't KNOW this until you ask, but can you really imagine C.CRM working with somebody who purposefully only fertilized 3 eggs? So that felt like an immediate hurdle. Plus, our RE seriously discounted many of our cycles and we were able to do 5 ART attempts for the price of about 2 at many of the well known clinics. We did not want to spend so much money and take the time to travel. Also, we simply felt so respected by our RE and his willingness to work within our moral beliefs that I could not give that up.
  • Donor eggs and/or sperm: This is one area that we knew from the beginning we would not pursue, as we did not feel it would honor our marriage covenant and that it would create a child who experienced some of the same questions and loss that come with adoption for half of their genetic make up. We have never really considered this.
  • Surrogacy: Based on what I have read and what my RE said, it is pretty rare for the problem to ultimately be uterine and that I could not carry a baby. Yes, I have had fibroids, but many women are pregnant with fibroids. We will never know for sure, but I just feel like it was really our embryos and not my uterus that caused us to be unable to conceive, so I have never seen a need to consider this. Plus, this is really, really expensive for something we don't feel certain there is a need for.
  • Donor embryos/ Embryo adoption: Hmm....this has been a possibility in my mind at times. Right now, it still feels like such a risk for a BFN that it is hard for me to want to do this. Also, my husband is not really on board - he simply feels like it is a little too "out there," and worries about how to explain this to a child who would also have the loss that comes with adoption. I don't think it is completely off the table, so we will see how God leads us, but for now it just doesn't feel like a good fit for us.
After I started this post, I read another by Serenity Now about a piece of her own journey to come to terms with being done with treatments. (She said a lot more than I am touching on here, but it is an excellent post that you should read!). I mostly related to her feelings about struggling to talk about it with people in real life (I have yet to talk about stopping treatments with anybody but DH), but I also found her difficulty to blog about it interesting, too. I find it pretty easy, but she said she feels like she has to justify and explain her decision all the time....and I laughed at the irony that I just did that above. I KNOW all of your questions about further options are well-intended, and I was happy to answer them here. But her post did get me thinking, and I do appreciate that pretty much all of you (including those who asked questions) do seem to accept our decision to stop and are so supportive of it. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is this my life?

One way that my current loss is easier than others is that my day to day life has not changed. We wake up, go to work, make dinner, go to church and youth events, eat lunch with friends, talk to family members, etc. On some level I can do all of this just like I did before, whereas if I lost DH, for example, I could do NOTHING normally. Every large and small detail of my life would be completely and utterly different and I don't think I could function.

Thankfully, I am functioning. There are still many reminders out there, and somehow my brain can continually circle around some aspect of my loss....but I am functioning. Heck, I'm even laughing. Life continues, and I have many blessings surrounding me.

But you know what's hard? Nights. I can't distract myself or turn my brain off as I go to bed. This is where I cry, sometimes inconsolably, and sometimes quietly. It is difficult to fall asleep, and I often wake up in the middle of the night and have to face those thoughts all over again while laying awake for an hour. And then my grief is the first thought I wake up with. My bed is not a restful, pleasant place right now.

And I keep asking myself: Is this really my life? Me? My life? I knew this might be how things ended, I thought about it, I even tried to prepare for it. But it just doesn't feel like it can really be happening. Me, whose only earthly aspiration was to have a family. Me, who has absorbed so much pregnancy info from friends and blogs that I sometimes think I know more about pregnancy than those who have been pregnant (not really, but you know...). Me, who fantasized about all things pregnancy related, from buying maternity clothes to giving birth.

Most people DO conceive, even those who faced infertility. I am one of the few.

Is this really my life? And how do I accept it?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The goodbye

Thank you so very much for all of you words of support. They have meant so much to me as I have struggled in feeling pretty alone in my new grief.

Today I went in to the RE's for the last time. One last two hour round trip drive, one last wait in the waiting room, and one last blood draw. As with everything this cycle, I was filled with both intense grief and relief mingled together as I was there.

I brought all of my sharps containers - all 5 that were stuffed too full and should have really been 6 - and left them at their office. I also brought a few left over medications and needles/ syringes, and gave them to a nurse to pass on to another patient in need. It was cathartic to collect all this stuff and remove it from my house.

I also brought a small orchid and card to give as a thank you to my RE. I wanted to thank him and tell him good-bye in person. I had rehearsed my simple few sentences the whole drive down, but of course the moment I started to speak to him the emotions over flowed. He gave me a hug and thanked me. He said he wanted to wait until he saw the "official results" and that he would call me, but I am glad I was able to tell him we were stopping treatments and thank him for all he had done.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A door has closed

I have spent the last 6 months praying and trying to accept the possible negative result of this cycle.

But today, as I stared at the single line yet again (and for the last time ever), I wondered how one can even prepare themselves for this? It's like knowing somebody is dying, but it is still a painful shock when they die.

I will never be pregnant.

Those were the first words that flashed through my mind. I know, I know....it "could happen." But, really, I don't feel like God is asking me to hold out hope for that. I think he is closing the door of pregnancy and biological children firmly behind me. Maybe one day we will be blessed with a "surprise," but between the sense of a closing door and the fact that my husband's sperm just don't move at all, I am not waiting for it.

I will never be pregnant.

Today I begin in earnest the mourning of all of my losses. I cry as I type this, begging God to take this pain from me. I look ahead at a bleak season to come unsure of how to face this grief. Unsure how to move forward.

But I also sit here today thankful that God is with me. That he knows suffering, that he took my ultimate suffering on himself. My greatest need is provided, my hope is secure, my salvation is at hand. I don't know how to move forward, but as I weep I will look to him and trust his faithfulness.

I am here before you today as somebody who did not get what they wanted. As somebody that is every infertile person's nightmare. This journey did not end for me as I had hoped. But I still stand and say that God is good and faithful, and I will continue to trust him.

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[c]

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Job 1:20-21

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30

So, I turned 30 today.

I never thought I would be one to feel unhappy about getting older, but I think this is the first birthday some would classify as "older." This is my first test. :)

I don't think it's the number "30" that matters to me, or getting "older." It's just that nice round numbers like this are personal milestones and goal markers. And, of course, I thought I would be a mom by now. That part is a little difficult.

My mom had me when she was 29 years and 11 months - essentially she was 30. We always hit milestone birthdays together. I always thought of my parents as "older" parents, but now that I am 30 that seems pretty ridiculous. :) In my defense, however, my dad is 7 years older than my mom and he already had a son who was 12 years old when I was born...so I probably averaged their ages together.

But I wanted to be a "young" mom. Isn't it funny how we have these ideas? But now I will definitely be older than my mom was when she had me (her first child). I'm thankful I realized how young 30 really is, and my mom still seems really young to me at 60. Plus, my whole family looks young and people still mistake me for a teenager! I guess it doesn't really matter, but it's just another (silly) thing I'm letting go of.

Today is a really mellow day. In true confession I cried last night because we're not really doing anything special for my birthday today. BUT we are having a huge party on the 30th, so I feel like a big baby that I can't really appreciate that and just look forward to it. Lame, I know. But I'm trying to do little things today that I will enjoy - I got a donut this morning, DH & I are going out to lunch, I want to get a few things for my garden, and enjoy all the sweet phone calls, texts, and FB messages I receive. Tonight we have our homegroup Bible study, and I LOVE our homegroup. :)

Here's to starting off a new decade!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fly by

This weekend we went to our church's annual church retreat, and it was a wonderful, spiritually nourishing time. I was nervous to go after feeling so down last week, but I am SO glad I was there!

On Sunday, I got a text at 5:00 in the morning from my brother announcing the birth of my niece! She is beautiful with a head full of blond hair, and I can't wait to meet her in august when my younger brother and I travel to Nebraska to see her.

DH's brother was admitted to the hospital over the weekend, too. Unfortunately he has a long medical history stemming from type 1 diabetes and kidney disease, but it was still shocking at how sick he got over the course of last week. After getting home from the retreat on Sunday, we felt like we needed to be with family and drove the 2.5 hours to his hospital. My brother in law is having a test/ procedure tomorrow and we would appreciate if you could say a prayer for him!

We are driving home as I write this on Monday night. The past few days have flown by, and thus the two week is flying by as well. God has used the retreat, my niece's birth, and the family medical crisis to give me some perspective as I wait for his plan to unfold in my life. I'm feeling thankful tonight.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hanging in there

Thank you for the outpouring of support. I love that so many of you offered to pray for me and hope for me when it is so hard for me to do for myself, and the image of others holding up Moses' arms to receive God's power in battle is just perfect. Each and every one of your comments encouraged my fragile heart. I can't thank you enough.

I spent two days (mostly) at home after the transfer per my RE's directions. Normally this has been a time that I have loved because it was before the crazy symptom analyzing sets in (which brings fear), and I was filled with so much hope. However, this time I felt like I needed those days to recover emotionally and get to a point where I could function at work and our other activities. It was nice to have those two days already set aside.

I struggled (am struggling?) a lot with the idea that our embryos have died (are dying?) inside of me. As I laid there I kept having this thought enter my mind, and it would break my heart all over again. I know that is such a depressing thought. The only thing I could do when this thought popped into my head was to use it as a reminder to pray that my embryos would be alive and growing. What a miracle it would be if our worst embryos out of five cycles were the ones that brought us a baby or babies. But as I told my husband....I have hope in God, I just don't have hope that he will give us a pregnancy.

I have an anonymous commenter who has posted off and on for a long time - maybe 6 months? - that "April would be my month." I liked reading that (who wouldn't? :), but didn't give it too much weight (no offense, anonymous commenter! I just don't usually operate like that. But it was always nice to read, so thank you!). However, it did feel a little bizarre that she was posting this comment LONG before I knew when this frozen cycle would be. In fact, I think when she first started saying that I thought we would already be done with the cycle and this comment meant I would conceive in April without fertility treatments. But then it turned out that April was the month of our last fertility treatment - weird. Anonymous commenter, I would be floored if you were right and that April is my month.

I am committed to not thinking about "symptoms" and making myself crazy. I think for my first cycles I did this out of hope. Later I tried not to over analyze, but I would get sucked in anyway because I wanted to be hopeful. But this time, I just can't do that to myself. I will not be posting two week wait updates. I will try my hardest to not even think about my body over the next 10 days.

The next 10 days are full and include a weekend church retreat, turning 30, planning my 30th birthday party (which will be the weekend after the beta), and Easter. I am hoping these are all good distractions, but I am also a little nervous about how to survive it all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Transfer

Today has felt incredibly long and emotional - I barely have the energy to write this post. But so many of you have left such encouraging words and offered up many prayers (thank you, thank you, thank you) that I didn't want to leave you hanging.

My appointment was late morning time, so DH took a half day at work and we tried to make a date out of it. We went out to breakfast and split a breakfast burrito (yum), and that was definitely the highlight of today.

We got to the RE's just before 10:30, and the wait began. We waited in the lobby for 45 minutes before being called back. We were already frustrated at this point.

Instead of going to the transfer room, they took us to an empty nurse's office where the embryologist was waiting for us. The part I had been dreading, because I knew that whether or not the embryos were "good" I would be emotional and upset. I could just feel it brewing. If they were "good," I would remember all the other "good" embryos we have had that resulted in nothing....and I would feel hopeless. And if they were "bad" - well, bad would be same hopeless feeling but even more extreme, because if our "good" embryos hadn't made it, how could these?

Well, our one embryo was in between good and bad: One 6-8 cell grade B showing a fair amount of fragmentation.

The other that had "maybe fertilized" had divided, but it was full of fragmentation and only a 4 cell. We transferred both.

Immediately I felt like I could barely hold it together. The moment had come - the moment where I saw the "last chance" embryos and had to face it. The office we were in had some privacy, but there was a wide open door to a busy hallway, and we also didn't know when somebody would come get us to go to the transfer room. So I cried seeping, quiet tears but tried to maintain some composure.

And we had to sit in this tortured state for another hour. I put my head down on the desk and basically willed myself not to think. I couldn't even pray because I knew that would set off a torrent of tears. DH rubbed my back. I started to feel claustrophobic simply being at the RE's - I wanted OUT. Out of there. I wanted to be home, away from all of this. Those were a long, long 60 minutes.

Finally, we were taken to the transfer room, and once there things moved quickly. The room was somber and heavy. My RE was kind but I did not feel like he was hopeful either. There was a new nurse's assistant who was observing, so there were 3 people in the room (plus DH). The way he had me positioned on the table I felt more exposed than normal. I was just trying to breathe. The transfer itself went smoothly.

They left the room and turned down the lights, and DH & I could finally be alone for the 15 minutes of resting. And I could finally pray....and cry.

Thankfully the Valium kicked in and I fell asleep for the hour drive home, which felt like a sweet mercy. Because of the delays, DH was late for work and felt pretty stressed.

I'm just so glad to be home.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One

Two out of three eggs thawed, and one fertilized for sure. Maybe a second one did, but he said it is not showing clear signs of fertilization.

One.

I am trying not to be disappointed. I am trying to hold out hope that 'it only takes one,' and that God can do miracles with only one embryo. But it is hard.

I'm feeling low today. Praying for my one. Hoping we make it to transfer and that it doesn't arrest before Monday. But if it's not going to result in a pregnancy, anyway, perhaps that would be God's mercy on us to not have to go through a two week wait.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thaw day

This morning we had an uneventful trip to the RE's office for DH to provide his 'sample' there one last time. I think he was relieved to know this was the last time he would need to do that.

They have hopefully thawed our three mature eggs by now, and God-willing they have fertilized. The RE wanted to stick with attempting to fertilize 3, and I think I was just relieved to not have to make another big decision. If those 3 do not thaw well, they will thaw some (or all 5?) of the immature ones as needed. I am praying for this crucial part of the process, but I have also felt very emotionally detached...although this is usually the point of the cycle where anxiety can kick into high gear for me. We'll see.

Tomorrow I should get (our last ever) fert report phone call.

I find myself thinking of everything this cycle in terms of "the last time" with both relief and sadness.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Slowly moving forward

Some days, I feel like I am close to accepting the fact that I may never be pregnant. Some days I can say it to myself without feeling much emotion at all because it has become more of a fact than a fear. In fact, on Monday night I was getting ready for bed and I said aloud to myself, "This is our last try, and it may not work. I may never be pregnant," and I was surprised at how normal I felt saying that. It actually made me feel pretty happy that I had come so far.

However, the next day I went into the RE's for a lining check and bloodwork. While waiting to have my blood drawn, a woman sat down next to me holding her ultrasound pictures from her pregnancy, and the nurses came over to congratulate her. She said, "Finally! I am so happy." And I almost lost it. All of those thoughts of accepting our situation were swallowed up by sadness that I may never hold an ultrasound picture, may never be congratulated like that, and may never experience pregnancy.

A nurse called me in for the bloodwork, and I was relieved to leave the happy scene. She started chatting with me and asked if this was my third cycle, and I had to correct her and tell her that, no, it was our fifth. And the last. It was the first time I had said those words "the last" aloud to anybody but DH, I think, and I got quite choked up. She very kindly replied that it just has to work then...and I still hope it does.

Two steps forward, one step back, eh? But I do feel like I am making more steps forward than back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Clarification & further thoughts

Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding my last post about the book Adopted for Life that I am reading. Each one was an encouragement and made me think - thank you.

I did want to clarify one point about the "rescuing orphans" idea. A few of you adoptive moms pointed out that you find this concept offensive, and after reflecting I have to say that I don't think this is what the author is advocating for in the book (not yet, at least - I am still only a few chapters in). I used the term in my last post, and I think that was my frustration coming out and I used words to slant what the author is saying to make a point, but I think that was unfair of me. So I apologize for that! I think the author, so far, is saying that in many cases there are children in need of families, and that we can experience the great joy and blessing of adding these children to our families - much different than "going out and rescuing orphans," which I agree does not sit right with me.

Joyce said in her comment, "I feel like one of the most difficult things about this process is that you almost have to become the world's teacher. Suddenly it becomes your job to educate every ignorant, well-meaning person in your life." Yes!!! I resonated so much with this. I have felt that way about infertility, and as I learn more about adoption I feel like this will be even more true when we decide to adopt someday. That is such a difficult role, especially when I am grieving and overly sensitive.

NLY said, "I think it's important to point out that he is also writing it from a man's perspective. My DH struggles with adoption. He wants a bio child so much he is not willing to consider other ways to start a family. He won't even consider adoption. He truly wants a "genetic heir" (his terms). Although I totally hear you and probably would feel the same way myself reading this book because I struggle with many of the same things you do (I haven't read it) I'm just thinking that it is a guys perspective on IF, which I have found to be so much more black and white, more inside the lines type of processing than what we go through as women. Maybe this is a better book for men who are struggling with adoption? " You know, I think you may be on to something here! I've been thinking about the male perspective within infertility, and realized that SO MUCH of what I am grieving is not the genetic link (although that is there, too), but more so the pregnancy, the dream I imagined that I don't think men fantasize as much about, and the many things that fall within those categories - things my husband will miss a lot less than I will. Plus, my husband does think in much more black and white terms, like you said, so this book probably would address the struggles men have with adoption a little better. I just wish the book wasn't such a guy's perspective of infertility vs. adoption, you know? :)

I'll keep you posted as I read more. I haven't picked it up since the last post, but I think I may have the emotional energy to start reading again soon.