Progress

After taking time off of blogging to try (and fail) fertility treatments as well as change the vision in our head of what we thought our life would become, we’ve made progress.

Adoption has come up in our conversations for the past 7 years. We both feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to care for those who can’t care for themselves, so adopting from foster care (and fostering children) has always appealed to us, regardless of the known heartaches attached to the system.

Well, this month we are starting the foster certification classes. We’ll be certified mid March and hopefully get a match shortly thereafter.

I’ll blog more later about how we became motivated to act on this decision, as well as how we’re preparing.

We’re excited (and nervous)!

 

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I didn’t see that coming

One of the most frustrating things about infertility is having no control.
I’m used to succeeding. I get promotions when I’m up for them, I ace tests, bake delicious dinners, give winning speeches. But when it comes to infertility, I can’t seem to win.
The balance of win some lose some is totally out of whack.
About a month ago, I was shopping at the grocery store, when I was suddenly hit with a massive hot flash and an instant feeling that I was very ill. I rushed home and collapsed in bed.
When Rob finally got home, I was worse. I was sweating and in pain. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Then I noticed I was bleeding, bleeding from places one should not be bleeding. It started small, but then became heavier and darker. I didn’t know what to do, the timing was horrible, it was the eve of my sweet baby girls 4th birthday! I had planned a birthday breakfast and dance off. I was going to take her to lunch and give her lots of surprises.
Instead, I drove myself to the hospital, making rob swear to give her the best birthday morning ever.
The Dr. was kind and helpful. We decided I was stressing my body too much with the recent 9 months of hormones and additional fertility procedures I was undergoing. I had to stop.
I was turned out in time to pick up my birthday girl from preschool. Her smiling face both broke and healed my heart. She’s wonderful, I love her and I knew I couldn’t endanger my health anymore. I need to be here for her. Yet, she continues to grow every day. Every moment with her is a unique experience, one that is becoming less likely to repeat.
I’ve been off any medication for almost 4 weeks now. I feel fantastic in my head. I can feel the fog has lifted. The self hate and depression have gone. I’m naturally anxious, and life has depressed me, but having my own personality back to handle these situations is a comfort.
I still feel jealous. I don’t talk to pregnant women. I find it easier to just pretend they aren’t there. Bee has been more vocal about getting a sibling, and while I knew it would happen one day, her tiny pleads with God to send me a baby break my heart. Surely he hears her prayers?
But now we press on. I’ve written a chapbook of poems during this time. I’ve made plans for the future, working and being there for Bee. I’m trying to tilt the balance back in my favor.

RE, tests and a journal for Bee

We met with our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) the other week. We are most unfortunately  blessed to have had multiple miscarriages, as there are several tests we can preform under our copay. Usually, we pay 100% out of pocket for our treatments, but as i’ve been labeled with Recurrent pregnancy loss, we’re first trying to diagnose the cause.
So, this week I went in for blood tests. I have a really hard time giving blood. I’m a champ at needle sticks, and thank goodness, because it always takes several attempts and technicians, before we get a vein. This time there were so many vials to fill that I actually lost count. The vein in my hand collapsed half way through the fourth vial, so we had to try again.
Now, I’m sitting, manically refreshing my gmail app on my cell phone, waiting for the test results. It’s a cycle of madness however, because once a result is posted, I head to the internet to diagnose myself with whatever information I can glean. Sadly, my best info usually comes from the TTC (trying to conceive) boards of yahoo answers. I know I should just wait for the doctor to email me, but I can’t.
I have more tests I need to take in about 2 weeks.
I like our RE. He’s strange, mumbles to himself and goes on tangents, but he’s exactly who I need. He thinks out loud, so at our appointment I got way more information that I thought I would, and I love it. When I get anxious, I research. I read everything I can and try and come up with a decision or solution on my own. I’m not usually successful, but it makes me feel better, so I do it. Well, he gave me plenty of information to think about, so my research binge was much more profitable then it normally is.
I’ve recently become much more reclusive. I’ve preferred being at home to going out, and quite to the noise I used to thrive off of. The jealously I feel around growing families is growing, and I can feel an unhappiness inside of me that I don’t like.
It’s a weird place I’m at. I’d love to have more children, but I also love that my arms are always free to snuggle my daughter. I never have to put someone down, or cancel an activity because someone missed a nap. I’ve noticed, within myself, this confusion I’m living in, so I decided to write in a journal. I’m not very good at the whole “baby book” thing. I did a horrible job of that, but I do have a lot of fantastic memories about motherhood. So, I decided to write them down. I know Bee sees my sadness about not having more children, but I try to let her know what I love about having her. If she has to struggle like I am one day, or if she doesn’t, but has other struggles, which she certainly will, I hope this journal will be a help for her.
We’ve sacrificed a lot for a child we don’t have yet. Vacation in France, dinners out, family trips, my mental health and everyday sanity… I hope it’ll bring the results we’re wanting.

Dr. recommended treatment? A dose of Crazy twice daily

So I mentioned last time that I went in for some tests for non fertility related issues, but things, like diabetes, that could cause me to miscarry. They all came back clear. I hadn’t thought that was the cause, but I was immensely disappointed when I couldn’t blame something concrete for my problems.

Moving beyond the disappointment that I didn’t have some life long illness (crazy, right? like that is a better option) Rob and I had some serious thinking to do. I vacillate daily.. hourly… over what path I want to pursue. Should we invest our time, money and hearts into adoption, or should we head down the uncertain road of fertility treatments?

Our insurance doesn’t cover infertility, and no, we haven’t become millionaires since moving to the silicone valley (yet) so we knew that it would be costly. I worry that adoption would be hard on our family, since Bee is old enough to see and feel what’s going on, but is not old enough to process the complex emotions that our family would go through. I’m trying to relieve the stress on her as much as I can. She’s my child, that’s my job, and I get fiercely defensive at those who brush off the traumatic effects of secondary infertility on a child by saying, “she’ll get used to it, every kid does”.

After much discussion, we decided to first try fertility treatments. I once remember being in a car with a coworker who was ranting about how people who choose to do fertility treatments are so selfish, because there are children out their waiting to be adopted, and instead of turning to science for a baby, they should turn to God and choose adoption. For as little as I cared about this woman and her opinion, I confess that this conversation has weighed heavily on my mind. The disdain with which she talked about IVF babies was real; I could see it in her eyes. She saw them as science experiments more than children. It hurt me then, and it hurts me now. That someone who has no understanding the complex emotions that come with infertility and pregnancy loss can have such a strong opinion of someone’s personal decisions is, to me, madness.

Lunatics aside, we started on hormone treatments. What does that mean? Well, I’m a master at peeing on a stick.

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Lots of testing and tracking, followed by lots of hormones.

I decided that if someone has to be stressed out and emotional, I’d rather it just be me, than having to put everyone though it. hahaha. Looking back a couple months, I see the naivete. The hormones take a physical and mental toll on my body, and it is impossible to hide the effects from my family.

I’ve sobbed on my knees into the fridge because I had just retuned from the store and neglected to buy Sriracha sauce.

I was consumed with an intense self-hate, which is very unlike me under normal circumstances.

Some days my face is puffed up so much it gives me a headache.

I’ve been overcome with a lasting sense of melancholy, wanting nothing more then to stay home alone (a BIG change for this extrovert)

My hair has turned to an 80’s prom queen’s dream

I’ve spent 20 minutes crying in a public bathroom stall because I snapped and cursed at my poor brother

I feel like the sane Michelle is trapped inside a bigger, crazy Michelle and it’s frustrating giving over so much control

I have not been myself, and from month to month it has not been the same. This last month my anxiety has been exacerbated greatly, and the tips on my fingers have felt like I’ve slammed them in a door repeatedly. I don’t quite understand why they hurt.

Every month I say that I can not do it again for another month, and then I get a negative test, and we try again.

I constantly set and reset limits for myself: I can’t do more then 5 miscarriages, We’ll try these hormones for 6 months before we try something else, This is the last month, Only ‘x’ amount of dollars.

All I know for sure is that there are still times, usually when I’m snuggling my perfect miracle daughter, when I feel ill with how much I miss those babies I never got to meet. I think about seeing that tiny little person on the ultrasound, only to spend the next months dealing with the process of a miscarriage.

One of the most common pieces of advice I’m given is, “Don’t stress, just relax, it’ll happen!” I challenge anyone to go through such heartache and change in emotions, while staying relaxed. It’s hard!

My silver lining is that although we’ve not been successful yet, we are at least doing something.

And so it begins

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see my tiny bruises? battle scars. you should see my insides; they’re much more wounded.

We decided to explore some fertility options. My doctor first recommended that I get blood tests to rule out non fertility related conditions that could be causing me to miscarry.

Typically, I’m a hard stick. It’s happened every time I’ve gone in to give blood or have blood work. After much prodding, cinching the elastic ties so tight I lose feeling in my hand (it’s honestly the most painful part) slapping my arms and hands to get veins to appear, and usually looking back and forth at both arms, they grab the needle and just go digging. I can’t remember the last time I was only stuck once.

This visit was no exception. I was stuck multiple times in both arms, before the second girl finally hit a vein. Thankfully, I’m not weak-stomached when it comes to these things. I got the usual lecture from the phlebotomist, drink more water, stay warm, eat red meat. Trust me, I don’t enjoy this either.

I was tested for Diabetes, Lupus, and other conditions.  They all came back as just fine.

When the doctor told me what the tests were I immediately convinced myself I had Lupus. I have no signs or symptoms, but I spent the whole day researching it on the Internet, comparing my features/body/skin to those of images google image search spit out at me, and by 4:30, I was sure that’s what was wrong with me. I texted a friend and told her of my suspicions. She immediately called me out on my image searching, which probably should have lured me back to reality, but it didn’t.

Stressed and not feeling like cooking, I told my hubs that he was taking me out to dinner. As we were walking up to the restaurant, the young couple in front of us stopped, and the girl who was probably 16 came up and asked me ‘how I did it’. Clarifying after seeing my confusion, she explained that she was 6 weeks pregnant and just felt horrible.  She said something along the lines of ‘I didn’t sign up for this!’ I stood with my mouth open, with nothing but mean-spirited remarks I’m my head.

She was young, totally unprepared, wearing sweatpants and an oversized sweatshirt with crazy bed head. Her boyfriend was tattooed up the neck and didn’t look very friendly. But the were so happy. Both of them were so happy she was pregnant.

I told her to have a small snack every 2 hour to settle her stomach (and yes, I secretly hope she gains 75 lbs) said congrats and ran inside to drown my sorrows in a Shirley Temple and ask myself why life has such a cruel sense of humor.

Im not pregnant. I was, 3 times, but I’m not now. I don’t have Lupus. I don’t have any answers. All I have are options to try. But even if we conceive again, we have to hold our breaths for 12 weeks to surpass our failed pregnancies, and then I’m sure I’ll be nervous the whole time.

Ill never be the girl who tells anyone (much less a stranger outside of a Mexican restaurant) at 6 weeks that I’m pregnant. I’m not allowed to be excited when I see 2 pink lines. Just nervous. And it sucks.

But, here’s to hoping that one day soon I’ll get to tell everyone when I’m 20 weeks!

I love you but I hate your uterus

My struggle with infertility has been hard on me physically and emotionally. I’m constantly thinking about my cycles or what I could do to help my body conceive. I wish it were as easy as just having sex at ovulation, but it’s not. I’ve been so stressed that I’ve had multiple break downs and episodes of pure insanity. But I’ve blogged about all this before. I’m crazy, it’s old news by now.

Dealing with secondary infertility was much different for me that the initial bout of infertility I went through. First off, I have Bee now. She’s adorable, precious, kind, funny and everything I ever prayed for in a child. I could not have designed a better one if I had tried. Secondly, i knew what I was getting into. I knew what it would be like to see others get pregnant when I could not. I knew that people would say heartless things to me and I felt that I would be able to handle them better. (I was wrong.)

In June, after 2 1/2 years of trying for a second child, I had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken and felt like life was completely unfair. I took little comfort in the fact that i could apparently get pregnant, although many people said that to me, as if loosing a pregnancy was a good sign. I suffered several panic attacks and a mini identity crisis, but 2 months later, I felt that we were ready to try again.

In September, we found out we were pregnant again. It was a miracle that we had gotten pregnant again so quickly, and felt that this time was really our time to expand our family. In October I miscarried again. 

I am not ok.

I have not gotten over it.

Not only have I had my heart ripped out several times over this summer, but my body has gone through a tremendous amount of change. I feel like I’m living in someone else’s skin. My mini identity crisis has turned into a full identity crisis. I questioned everything that I was. My spiritual, physical, social and emotional life are all being intensely scrutinized in my head.

The doctors do not recommend that we try again on our own. We’ve reviewed the test results and are making a plan for our future. That plan might include fertility treatments. It might include adoption. It might also turn out to be my beautiful family of three living out the rest of our days together, as just a family of three.

Through all of this, I am still amazed at the heartbreaking things that people say to me. Is it really that awful to only have one child? And if one more person says to me “just be glad you wont have to do (potty training, teething, other ‘unpleasant’ thing) again. It’s so much harder when you have more than one” i might just shank someone (most likely a straight shot to the ovary).

I know some people mean well, and some are just rude by nature, but I’ve had to just cut all of them out of my life. I came to the realization that shutting someone out of my social circle might hurt their feelings, but keeping them in would result in my feelings getting hurt, repeatedly. And, I’m sorry, but my feelings are more important to me.

I have many pregnant/going to be pregnant/trying to get pregnant/new mommy friends, that have been a saving grace for my sanity. I love celebrating their good news with them. I can be happy for them while being sad for me. I am capable of dual emotions. 

‘I love you but I hate your uterus’ – it’s pretty much the story of my life.

So what does my future hold? Who knows!? Thankfully I know Heavenly Father has a plan for my life, and He will guide me through these trials to a future thats better than anything I could plan. I just hope this valley doesn’t go much deeper!

 

Waiting and waiting

We had a miscarriage last week. 

It sucked.

I was talking to someone recently about how one of the hardest parts about infertility is that I feel like I’m always waiting. My life constantly feels like its on hold. I imagined that we’d have our beautiful children and then move to the next life step of raising them, followed by their college years, watching them getting married, and the Rob and I enjoying retirement together. I wasn’t expecting ‘having our beautiful children’ to take so long. I was going to be done having kids by 30, but just this weekend I pushed that back to 35, since i still want to expand my family and 30 is quickly approaching. I need more time!

As expected, we were thrilled to find out we were pregnant after going through 2 years of secondary infertility. To say I was crushed by the miscarriage is a gross understatement. I feel like I’ve been thrown back to the first time we struggled through infertility. I feel hopeless and alone. My heart is broken and yearns for the baby I never got to meet. I’m trying to deal with bouts of sadness and jealousy towards those who are receiving the blessing I want so badly. I’ve cried more in a week than I have in 2 years.

I was once asked how I handled infertility ‘so well’. My first response was always that they didn’t see what a nutcase I was the first time around, but now I’m afraid that I might be walking that line again. I’ve been really open about the pains of infertility this time around, but i feel myself starting to retreat as we start experiencing new and uncharted territory. I don’t know how to handle infertility after 2 1/2 years, and I don’t think anyone is prepared for a miscarriage.

Thankfully I have my beautiful daughter. She is single handedly holding my broken heart together.

We’re still waiting for the counties adoption classes. 

waiting, waiting, waiting… I hate waiting.

I’m really glad I don’t have to keep in it this time though.

oh the guilt

Being a mom, a woman, a person… whatever, life comes with a healthy amount of guilt.

Today I’m swimming in a sea of guilt. I want another baby. I want to be pregnant, I want (more) stretch marks. I want everyone to ask me a million times when my baby’s due, whether it’s a boy or girl and if we have a name picked out. I want to roll my eyes every time someone tells me to enjoy my sleep now, or some other type of fear mongering people do to pregnant women. I want to go to the bathroom 40 times in a day and then complain to all my friends about it.

I want to be pregnant!

[Enter guilt]

I was blessed once to be pregnant, and have the most adorable daughter in the world.

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She’s sassy, bossy, smart, funny, caring and creative. She tells jokes, bakes cookies and sings constantly. She makes me happy when skies are gray; she is my life. So why can’t I just be happy with what I’ve been given? I don’t have a good answer.

I read recently that infertility is so hard because you’re mourning the loss of a child that you dreamed of and desperately wanted, but you can never complete the grieving process, because each month there’s the hope that maybe that child you prayed for will become a reality. Your wounds can never heal with this cycle. I felt it was a pretty fair description.

So today my heart and brain are at war. My brain tells me to enjoy the blessing I’ve been given while my heart yearns for another.

Both are traitors in my opinion.