Sunday, September 9, 2012

Possible trigger. You have been warned.

There are any number of reasons I haven't written a lot.
Some are personal; some logistical. But at any rate, I haven't so there you have it.

But we'll try to make up for that a little in this post.

Overall, pregnancy has been good to me. Headed into my third trimester and aside from expected issues, this has been going fairly well. Not necessarily smoothly and certainly not easily (making a human Bean is really hard work. I mean... REALLY hard), but overall no major issues.

I had my biggest scare this past Friday. I woke up with a sudden very sharp chest pain. Now, for those who know me, you probably also know this is not unfamiliar territory for me given my GI history. But, good baby-maker I currently am trying to be, I called my doctor's office from work and explained what happened and did they want to see me or was this another case of "normal but scary."

I was told to go to Labor & Delivery (L&D) as soon as possible.

Not quite what I wanted to hear, but given my esophageal spasms sometimes mimic a heart attack, I understood the concern.

L&D checked me and Bean out. She was fine (though a smidge ornery). I was starting to have my heart race and overall not feeling well. L&D doctor opted to send me to regular ER since this was obviously a medical, not OB issue.

I still wasn't too concerned. Chest spasms are scary, hospitals can make my pulse race and, well... I'm 27 weeks pregnant. Breathing issues are not uncommon.

But ER started to become concerned when I had to tell them a few years ago my mother had clots in her legs and they could not determine what caused them.

I painful IV stick, blood work, pee sample, EKG, ultrasound of both legs, check of all vitals and a chest X-ray later, docs were almost ready to rule out everything serious and chalk it up to GI (as I suspected and send me home). But one more consult and suddenly we were having conversations about the merits of a CT scan vs risks to check my lungs for a clot there.

I admit... I started to get a little panicky. This pregnancy was so hard to get to this point, I didn't want to take any chances. But... I couldn't very well walk out of there if *my* life was at risk either. Bean wouldn't fare too well at all without her life support system.

After a very lengthy conversation with the doc where I shared my concerns, my feelings on my GI history and overall opinion of the matter, he did agree that, while they couldn't rule out a clot 100% without a CT scan, he didn't think I LOOKED like someone experiencing a pulmonary embolism, he would agree with my assessment that it was GI.

So... home I went. Confident that I had done the right thing, and agreeing that if anything changed, I'd come right back to the ER.

Had dinner. Tried to rest. Heart started racing. Took BP and pulse. BP normal... but pulse was 101 resting. Continued to try to rest. Took again. 108. Took 20 min later. 121. In tears, had WB take me back to L&D.

Bean checked out fine again, but they opted to register me and get me a room.

Bean SERIOUSLY unhappy with being strapped to a bunch of monitors (ow the kicks).

OB doc went through the whole series of questions again and examined me. WB asked questions about the risks of the CT scan. OB explained and I started to feel better that this might be a better choice to just do it. OB went out to find my chart from earlier in the day to compare numbers.

WB looked at me, looked at what the monitors were doing and asked a very simple question: "What are you thinking right now?"

I started to explain that maybe I should just do the scan, though I didn't want to, I still thought it was GI, I felt dumb for being there again... then I started to cry. And backed up - No... I was lying... I was scared. All I could think about was Erik. And how I didn't want Bean to end up in jeopardy or with no Mommy because I was being stubborn.

This is the sort of things that start to go through your head when suddenly there's another little person very much dependent on you for everything.

And this is why I'm culling the herd, removing the drama and going back to a thought process of "who really needs to be in my life right now and for what reasons?"

The OB doc returned. She couldn't find my earlier chart (it wasn't uploaded into the main computer yet), so she couldn't compare numbers.

My pulse rate was back down under 100. Another discussion on couldn't rule out 100%, but I didn't LOOK like someone who was having a lung clot issue. I opted once again to pass on the CT scan and just go home.

I had 4 contractions while I was there, so she wanted to do an internal exam just to make sure everything was still good and I wasn't actually in pre-term labor. Also... ow. That was not a fun exam by any means. But it wasn't labor, everything was right where it was supposed to be. Go Bean - You're much better at handling this than your mom.

Follow-up with my regular doc tomorrow could result in them wanting to rule out the clot anyway. I'm ok if that's what they opt to do. After two days of resting, (and a horrid night of nothing but heartburn) I'm even more convinced this was a GI and probably anxiety attack series of episodes and not my lungs.

It's a chance to take, I realize. But I'm just taking things as they come and trying to reign in my anxieties.

It's funny (or maybe not) how you don't realize the underlying thoughts which you process at times. I did not realize how much Erik's death still weighs on me; affecting everything I do or think when it comes to health things. How much I let it run my life with fear, rather than being rational about things and working through them. I guess I will never fully be able to process that. I just have to learn how to keep fear and anxiety from getting the better of me...

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Year - Control & Hope

One year – and what a year it’s been since last I wrote of you.

It sometimes seems my heartaches could fill oceans. And years like this, I know my tears surely could. Yet one year, year upon year, all I can think is that I got beyond the heartache of losing you, I can get through all the rest.

It hurts sometimes to think about that call that night. The surreal feeling of it all; the numbness; the anger taken out on others (and the never saying “I’m sorry” for that... so I’ll say it now. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I yelled; I’m sorry I wasn’t more comforting for you. I’m sorry…). But like all pains, it does fade. It does move into a place of memory where it doesn’t hurt quite so much.
One year – this year – has seen me through a lot of tough times, a lot of anger, a lot of heartache, a lot of loss. Some I had no control over; some my control only goes so far and then I have to realize that it needs to be given over to others to remedy… and I have to learn to let it go and be at peace with a lack of control. 

This year’s “theme” is two parts – Control being the first.

 I control me. I control my feelings. I control my actions. I control my words. I own them, for better or for worse. But I cannot control those things in others. Though I can control how I choose to deal with feelings of being wronged, I cannot control the act in others. So, I accept that lack of control and move one for what is best for allowing me to control myself. Even if that means walking away. I own walking away… I control and accept that.

Last summer, right around this time, as a matter of fact, I was headed to my second IVF treatment. I remember thinking the timing was not lost on me. I took it as an omen… you were watching over me and mine and if we were going to succeed, this was the time. 

And succeed we did. I was certain you had “intervened” on this one. And before I knew it, we’d be welcoming our little blessing into the world. And two weeks later those feelings were replaced with another heartache as we lost that little blessing. Three little blessings, if truth be told. I have never really written much publically about that time – and won’t really go into it now either – but that heartache was piled upon day after day and week after week for a variety of reasons and I was certain the downward spiral would never end.

And that brings us to the second part of my theme – Hope.

Somehow, I found that strength within me again. I owned my feelings and pushed through them to try again… and again… and headed down the road that I needed to go in order to have that family I have so long dreamed about. Maybe you were still walking by my side as you have often done these last seven years (and well before that)… or maybe you pushed me to find that strength within myself. But I did it. And I held onto Hope, where Hope was rapidly looking to abandon me. 

And these last few weeks, I’ve looked at that picture on my desk of you and thought how I wish you were here to see where that Hope has gotten me. I still falter in the “control”… but Hope… Hope has pushed me this far, and though I fear a great deal that things continue to go well, Hope has brought me to believing I will welcome that little blessing before the year is out. Though I wish Uncle Erik could be around to share this joy with us… I know he will be in spirit there to comfort and guide and love as much as he has been these last seven years.

I’ve started to learn a very important thing about “family” – real family. They aren’t afraid to speak up and speak out. They aren’t afraid to show you their love; their support. They will cry with you and hold you and see you through. They will ask after you, when they know times are particularly tough, even if you don’t want to talk about it, they will still show you they’re thinking of you – every day, day after day; One Year… year after year after year after year…

Even Death cannot stop the loving arms of Family around you. I see it in the sunrise, I see it in the children around me, I see it in the smile of my sister-and-more-than-my-sister, I see it in a simple texted word from our Beautiful Love of the Woman. But most of all, I see it in the man who has stuck by me the way a friend must. 

(I almost made it through this missive without tears… almost).

But, Erik, I still see it from you… in all these things and people and more. 

I always knew this writing was more a reflection for me than necessarily a “memorial” for you… but, without your Life and your Death, I may never have grown past where I was to where I am headed. And that is why I continue to write, year after year… to remind myself of what I’ve lost… but also what I’ve gained these seven years past. And year upon year, I continue to see all the signs you leave for me, letting me know you’re thinking of me…

Well I know they say all good things
Must come to some kinda of ending
We were so damn good, I guess we never stood a chance
Go on find what you’ve been missin'
When that highway's tired of listenin'
You’ll see I’m not that easy to forget...

When a new moon shines through your window,
Or you hear a sad song on the radio,
And you don’t know why, but you just start to cry...
Or your driving round on a sunny day
And outta nowhere comes a pourin' rain,
And a memory hits you right out of the blue...
That's just me
Thinking of you

I’m not gonna try to stop you,
Doesn’t mean that I don’t want too;
If I know you, you’ve already made up your mind.
So go on and go if you're really leavin'
Put a million miles between us,
But you still feel me like I’m right there at your side

And when a new moon shines through your window,
Or you hear a sad song on the radio,
And you don’t know why, but you just start to cry...
Or you're driving round on a sunny day
And outta nowhere comes a pourin' rain,
And a memory hits you right out of the blue...
That's just me
Thinking of you

And I’m thinkin' about the road your on,
I’m thinkin' about you comin' home,
I’m wondering if you've got your radio on...

And when you find your way to another town,
And someone tries to lay you down
And a feelin' hits you right out of the blue...
It's me
Thinking of you

That's just me
Thinking of you.
(- Thinking of You, Christian Kane)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where We Are and Where We're Going

There's something to be said for achieving something great after an incredible struggle. Sometimes, all you can think is "wow... we did it." And other times you are sort of overcome with genuine fear for that proverbial "other shoe."

It's a hard way to live - especially with so many other changes going on inside and outside your body. All my grand plans for how idealistic I wanted things to be... how "natural" and "perfect" and, well... we all know, it never happens as planned.

And... that's ok. It's ok because life is and always has been mutable and this should not be any different. And as tough as some days have been and as anxious as each pain, each appointment, each conversation has made me... nothing compares to where I'm going to be in another 7 months or so.

For those who know my history, you know what struggles I've put up with, even beyond the infertility. The struggle of being poked and prodded and dealing with any number of physical and emotional pains. This struggle has been no different... with one exception. At the end I will have an incredible blessing to show for it. That makes it all worth it - that makes it so much easier to push through the tough days.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Post I Never Saw Coming...

A little over a month ago, I was getting ready for my next (and final) IVF procedures to find out what is wrong with me and try one last time to get pregnant through the Miracle of Science. It was then I realized that I was late... even for me. So, on a whim, (and given I was on a medication which is not pregnancy safe for long term use) I bought a home pregnancy test (HPT).

I woke up the next morning and proceeded to use said HPT. And it instantly changed. I mean... no 2 minutes, no waiting whatsoever. Instant. I sat there staring at it, convinced the test was bad. I texted Wes... who was convinced the test was bad. So... I finished getting ready and headed down to the doctor's office, sans appointment to instruct them that they needed to do a blood test.

I showed up first thing that morning, knocked on the receptionist window, and when the receptionist looked at me confused (remember... sans appointment) stated, "I need a blood test. I think I'm pregnant." They ushered me inside, drew my blood and sent me on my way.

Around lunchtime my cell phone rang. The IVF coordinator stated "So... I hear you took a HPT and it was positive." "Yes," I replied, expecting the answer to come back, "It was wrong." Instead she said "Well... you're VERY pregnant. Uh... wow."

It has been a whirlwind of weeks since that call. We don't have any idea why suddenly it worked for us, on our own. Drugs reset my system; stress reduced from finally coming to a decision about our future; dumb luck?

Whatever it was... I can honestly say the term "miracle" fits here.

For all intents and purposes, the pregnancy is proceeding healthy - fingers and toes and heartbeat and all. Symptoms make it no denying my body is preparing for this great process and busy working on growing a tiny human who Wes and I have waited six very long years for.

And all the nerves and anxieties and fears that accompany being an older mother, with previous issues and a (albeit VERY early) miscarriage under her proverbial belt.

But I'm happy. So unbelievably happy. We were ready to give up. To move on. To find a way to accept that it just wasn't possible. My last appointment prior to this had been full of discussion of "host uterus" and "donor eggs". We had been looking into adoption. Or letting going of a dream of family entirely.

And yet here I am... inundating myself with information on pregnancy and motherhood.

If you've gone through infertility... if you've faced or are facing this seemingly insurmountable problem....

Remember this... it CAN happen. Sometimes with no rhyme or reason or understanding of WHY.

Six years, three doctors... and no answers to that question.

And yet here I am....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dine In for Charity

I know I haven't posted in a while and I promise... I will soon. Very soon. Things have just been super-duper hectic the last couple weeks.

In the meantime, I was at my doctor's this morning and saw a poster for an event Union City Grille was doing in Wilmington, DE.

Dine In for Charity.

April 25th their charity is Resolve: National Infertility Association. If you happen to want to get out and eat (and who DOESN'T like to eat?), I would like to recommend support for this organization that night. Unfortunately their website doesn't give much detail, but I think the flyer in my docs office mentioned something like 20 or 25% of the bill will be donated to that night's charity.

So... if you can... go.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Straight Talk or Why some words scare the crap out of us...

A few years ago, I sat in an exam room at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care terrified. I had an unusual reaction to Penicillin which resulted in lots of blood tests. Some of which came back with abnormal levels of red and white blood cells and platelets. It was determined at that time that I should be referred to a hemotologist / oncologist to figure out the problem.

The doctor walked in and I had enough time to think "she's my age" when she looked at me and stated "First of all - you don't have cancer."

I was always quite grateful to her for that simple statement. That acknowledgement that there is TYPICALLY only one reason someone is in her office and it's a tough battle to fight. It never really was determined what was causing my abnormal counts, but in subsequent tests the numbers went back to normal and it was chalked up to a very rare and unusual inflammatory reaction to the penicillin.

Four years later and I'm fighting multiple odd symptoms once again. But, I'm going through fertility treatments, I'm under a lot of stress from a variety of things and my body is pretty much all out of whack. So when I went into my primary's office the last thing I expected to hear was "carcinoid syndrome." It was almost the exactly opposite feeling from being in that oncologists office. I sad there dumbly, not sure what to do think or what those words meant. But it sure didn't sound good. 

First of all, before I continue my story, let me put your fears to rest... by all accounts it appears I DO NOT have carcinoids. But look it up. And look it up in it's more advanced phases and you may begin to understand the new emotional roller coaster I've been traveling. 

All fertility efforts were put on hold. The last month or so has been running between doctor's offices and the hospital for tests. My fertility specialist would not proceed until we had an answer. And answers have not been forthcoming. I'm currently wearing a heart monitor, though, for all purposes, it does not appear to be my heart.

This has been my life for 20 years. This will be my life for 20 and more. You'd think I'd be used to it by now.

But it's hard to not be comfortable in your own body. It's hard to carry on life day-to-day in pain or frustration. It's hard to get past the problems of others when your life is consumed by this. This is what I fight against every day.

To end on a happier note: I did see the fertility doctor on Friday. We have decided to proceed finally because the big scary diagnoses seem to be out of the way. Because of the cyclical nature of my current symptoms, we're going to proceed with "hormone" or "auto-immune." He recognizes I'm not "normal" by any stretch of the imagination and require some "outside the box" thinking to reach a conclusion. He's placed other options at my feet, which are under consideration. But I'm taking it one day at a time. Trying to find an answer, so that I can determine my path forward. Trying to reach acceptance of my own life; so pardon me if I'm sometimes seem unconcerned with the lives of others.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tests, Tests and more ... you got it... tests

For every test that comes back "normal" one would think I'd be happier. But I'm not. It makes me more frustrated. It makes me want to shake the doctors and say "What the hell is wrong with you that you don't know what is wrong with me???"

My primary is baffled. My abdominal ultrasound (which I was sure was going to come back with "OMG... what the HELL is THAT??) was "normal." The blood work, the physical exam, my BP, my heart my lungs...

If I didn't know that my body does such wacky things sometimes, I would almost be ready to believe the hype "it's all in your head." Except it's not. I could almost believe the "flutters" are anxiety or stress or "in my head." But the sudden flush, so bad my cheek hurts? SOMETHING is going on.

Now that we've almost completely eliminated a lot of the "absolute worst" case scenarios, determining (at least as far as my GI is concerned) there are no strange and rare tumors growing in my major abdominal systems, we're back to square one. I guess, in a way it is a relief to not have to face a "syndrome" which was looking pretty bleak as far as "if we find it, there's little hope." Heck, we didn't even seem to find the precursor to the syndrome. Alleluia and pass the peas.

But... no one seems to know WHY this is happening. OR if it's related to my infertility. I just want a damn answer so I can move on.

I've now set my primary to investigating my endocrine system. Or... my adrenals at any rate. I guess we start there. Reproductive hormones appear "normal", so it's time to look at the rest of the process. I'm running out of time and I hate that feeling. It's not at all conducive to this "relaxed state" I'm aiming for.

I may give this last set of blood work a go and if it doesn't show anything just chalk it up to "my body is screwing, let's move on." Which, sadly, may result in a final failure of the IVF. But I don't have time to keep going with this guessing game.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One step forward...

And that proverbial, two steps back.

I get an answer I feel pretty good about and then the "just in case" test makes me a wreck for the next two days. It's frustrating, it's terrifying... but most of all it's too often becoming "status quo" in my life. I thought I was getting ready to come out of my shell a bit; not live my "hermit life" quite so much. But, it's just not about to happen anytime soon, I fear.

It's just wearying. It's even more emotionally draining some days than all the hormone therapies put together. And, that horribly "ironic" thing about it is that worst case or not... stress is ONLY going to make my symptoms worse and more frequent.

Plain, white rice is once again one of the few things I can eat without an incredible amount of discomfort. Plain, white rice is one of the WORST things for me to be eating from a fertility standpoint. It's either that or just give up on the eating thing altogether right now. So, I eat what I can, suffer through the pain of it and give myself a "treat" of rice now and then to just give my body a break.

More doctor's appointments and tests scheduled. I want an answer... but I do want the answer I want. And each step forward towards getting that answer, seems followed by the terrifying possibility of two steps back and an answer I don't want.

It's time for my happy ending, dammit. All of them. All of my dreams, all of my hopes and all of my happiness. I'm ready Universe. It's time to send it my way.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

'Round and 'round we go...

I think my life has become a merry-go-round. Not the fun, pretty ponies, childhood memories one... but one of those strange Cthulu-esque, horror movie ones where, try as you might you cannot get off and that clown-killer is running the show.

And clowns are scary. Especially killer ones.

Anyway... now that I've put that disturbing image in your head for the rest of the day... after yet another tearful weekend, I've gone back on my "decision" post.

Some of you reading this (are there still people even out there?) may seriously wonder at my mental state and be calling those men in white coats over to my house right now to give me one of those lovely jackets where the arms cross in front and a bouncy rubber room. "Why?" you may be asking yourself (or maybe not... I mean, who, other than me, talks to blog posts like that?) The answer is simple - I want answers.

I saw a G+ post this morning about people not wanting to know "why" but wanting the answer they want. I want both. I want to know why... but secretly I want that answer to be "oh... your problem is 'X' and we can fix that easily." But the key point here is I WANT TO KNOW.

WB pointed out to me last night that far too often I am a "victim" to my own body. It's true. My body has not treated me kindly in many years. Granted, I've been pretty horrid to it occasionally as well, but usually it's in rebellion for it treating me poorly. My body and I have an incredibly dysfunctional relationship. I'd divorce it if I could, but really, I'm not that desperate to get out of my relationship with it just yet... and Death is sort of permanent (well... as permanent as a believer in reincarnation can believe).

So... the real point is... what is my point here?

I have lined up all my little duckies and we're going to see what falls out. First things first... try to sort out the abnormal test and strange GI symptoms and make sure it's nothing extremely serious. If it is... deal with that as best we can and move along. Second thing, once that's resolved, go through with the mock cycle. Convince my RE to do the tests I've been reading about as far as certain potential immunological issues are concerned. Then, with all those answers in hand / problems resolved, move forward as best I can. If it means another IVF with a different protocol, fine. If it means finding the means for donor eggs, great. If it means putting all this aside and genuinely grieving for my lost fertility, picking up the pieces and working towards an adoption, I'll deal with that.

So many people have posed the question of "have you considered..." I'll again refer you back to my earlier post on having discussions with your "infertile friend." Asking me if I have considered any number of things is like asking a man dying of thirst if he's considered water. If you know me at all, you know I like to be well-informed, especially where my health and options are concerned. Some may even say I'm OVER informed. You know why those type of questions stick in my craw (what IS a craw anyway??)? Because, though well-intentioned, it still comes across as "I must be stupid not to have thought of that." Yes... I'm overly sensitive and emotional about the topic right now. I've isolated my social media network so much that any possible mention of "baby" or "children" will likely not be seen. When you cry yourself to sleep every night over this, maybe you'll understand.

I read a blog post about a month or so ago (and I may have mentioned this before, so bear with me), about all the things this woman will now miss because she has run out of options and has to come to terms with being childless. It's heartbreaking. Even all the "bad" about pregnancy and birth and children... these are still things I would gladly take as my "problems" rather than living a life without the experience.

WB admitted to me that to watch me go through this month after month, cycle after cycle is very painful for him to watch. But, he also admits that he has watched me grieve, rant, get angry, be inconsolable... and then pick myself back up and tackle and face the problem head-on again... knowing full well I may suffer through the same thing, but doing it anyway with a determination unlike any he's seen. He admitted that he knows very little about the whole infertility process and relies on me to make the calls... because I don't give up, I search for my own answers and I learn everything I possibly can in order to find an answer and start our family on my terms.

I am tired of being a victim to my body. I am tired of not understanding my body. I am tired of accepting "this is just the way it is." There IS a reason for this and I WILL find it. Then I will fix it or I will accept and move on.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Time to Make the Hard Calls

Well... so there we are then.

My recent lab results are back and mostly normal. One would think "well that's good, right?" I said "mostly."

The one abnormal result is enough for my primary to determine it's time to see a GI specialist.

For those who know me and my history, you know how much this bothers me. What you may or may not know is the extent of it, given everything else going on.

It puts our fertility treatments on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Financially, I'm to the point of "it puts our fertility treatments on hold indefinitely."

I need to come to some realizations that, even if everything else in our attempts to get pregnant succeeded, my overall health and scar tissue issues likely make a "normal","healthy" and "uncomplicated" pregnancy near impossible. Or... at least, extremely painful. I was reminded of that over the last month as I battled some severe pain due to torn, pulling and unforgiving adhesions.

New medical issues cropping up only makes this more certain. I'm not young anymore. And every day, month, year I put this off due to some other issue is that much less chance of it working. This latest news could put a halt on a lot of things I want out of my life - so it's best I face it head on without any other frustrations or complications.

I'm creeping towards my peri-menopause, whether I want to admit it or not. I am not completely ok with it; but I don't think I'll need to be drug there kicking and screaming either. I always said I was the "Crone" in my little Trioka - (probably should post that story's link...). Maybe it's time I accept that and move graciously into the role.

I have been researching other options."Childless" is not one I'm ready to accept yet, but unfortunately finances are an issue with the adoption route I've decided upon. And, I'm not entirely sure how my new medical complications may fit into our "Profile" as adoptive parents. That's another bridge to cross when we get there though. Focus on the task at hand; but keep the ultimate goal in mind as my tether of hope. It wasn't always about being pregnant (though my heart does hurt a big for missing out on those sort of "firsts"); it's about being a mom. And I already feel I have that in me without going through the process of becoming a mom through a biological child.

When I feel most heartbroken, I remember something Wes said to me one sleepless night when a certain infant (well... hardly infant anymore) was in our care for the night. She was fussy and crying and missing mom and would not go back to sleep, so I curled up on the couch with her and sang softly until she was sleeping again. Wes watched me from the top of the stairs for a bit and finally said "You'll make a great mom some day."

I hold onto that. Because I know I have that love to give within me and someday I will be able to share it with our child, even if we're not related to him or her genetically. I just need to plod through one task at a time until we reach that goal.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First round of tests for new medical snag in the road are completed.
Just waiting for results and what the doctor has to say.

If it's favorable, I get a medical clearance from him and return to my RE to finish the mock cycle / last IVF.

If it's not... well I guess we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

I've finally brought myself around to the idea that the important thing here is that I am a mom... not necessarily that I am pregnant. Though a little part of my "dream" dies with that thought (there are things I will miss not being pregnant - some good, some bad - but still miss), I am finally to a place where I can consider other options.

I contacted an adoption agency to get more information. Based on some of my criteria, I know this is going to end up a very pricey endeavor. But... in the end... it's all worth it, right?

So much is hinging on these test results though right now, it's hard to think beyond them. To our last IVF chance (or at the very least some final "why me?" answers); to our steps following if this last IVF doesn't work.

One day at a time, I suppose...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tick Tock

And just like that, the plan comes to a screeching halt.

It is what it is. I can do nothing about it, but go along for the ride and hope that things get resolved quickly and in a favorable light.

I need this news like I need another hole in my damn head. I understand the need, but it doesn't frustrate any less.

Plod along, deal with each problem at a time, tackle these new issues like I have in the past and pray that it's all a needless precaution and I can quickly get back on target.

It doesn't mean I don't want to just sit here and cry, though.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day

I feel better for having a plan. It may not be the perfect plan, but it's a plan nonetheless.

We're going to move forward with the mock cycle starting end of this week. It will not be easy - a whole cycle of all the meds, culminating in a likely rather painful procedure. But, I'll have one of two answers I need to keep moving on. We're also giving one more shot to the IVF - with or without the PGD. Way I figure it is, if the insurance won't pay for it, doing it without, provided the biopsy comes back normal from the mock cycle, pretty much tells me all I need to know. Though the pain of another failure will be near unbearable - I'll have my answer and can proceed with a new plan feeling I've got all the information I can possibly get

The other appt on Friday may be more difficult for me to handle. You see... if you know me at all, you know I've struggled with a lot of GI issues. I'm now having some new symptoms and pains which could potentially point to something quite serious. I'm hoping the primary's theory is wrong; that he's ruling out the "worst case scenario before we look at other things. But it's scary to face, regardless, especially when faced with so much other uncertainty. But I've tried to remind myself - we've been through a lot of bad. A lot of "near tragic"... I can get through this like I got through everything else and we'll just have to take it one step at a time.

It's all I can do anymore - my life has spun out of my control far faster than I care for. But, it is what it is and I just have to learn to roll with (yet more) of the punches it throws my way and make the best with what I've got.

For those who may not quite understand why I'm waspish, aloof, estranged... I'll tell you this much. I blog only about half of what actually goes on in my life on a daily basis. I have been dealing with a lot of struggle.... but some of it I'm only now starting to face head on ... and others I've tried to avoid contemplating. Before you judge or whine or complain about my behavior, know this... you don't know even half of what I am dealing with.... so either love me for who I am, with all my quirks and faults and hardships... or walk away now.

I've discovered something very important lately. One - I have the most amazing partner a person could ask for. It may be difficult for him at times, but he has truly shown me what "unconditional" means; what standing up for and standing by your loved one truly is. On this romantic day of all days... though I am currently 600+ miles away.... I want to tell him each day that goes by, I love him that much more.

I've also discovered the reason why I have remained friends with one very special woman all this time - we "get" each other's crazy. And love each other despite (or maybe because) of it. My sister and more than my sister - you have shown me what friendship means and how a friend deserves to be treated. Thank you.

It's late (ish). I'm tired (very). And I do still have to focus on work tomorrow, despite two glasses of wine. So to bed with me; to maybe forget my troubles for another day or two and enjoy the peace I can find for myself wherever it may be.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

*tap, tap* Is this thing on?

So, how's this work?

After a night of nothing but tears, I keep coming back to "but I don't know for SURE my eggs are bad."

It's a guess... it means that every IVF is a shot in the dark and likely to lead to more heartbreak.

But I. Don't. Know.

It's that unknowing which makes me want to push on... to find an answer and hopefully get lucky along the way.

We're going to progress with a mock cycle in order to get an endometrial biopsy. It won't answer the egg question, but it will at least help answer the "are we even timing this right / is there an implantation issue?"

The egg issue becomes more complicated. More for financial reasons than anything else.

For those of you who haven't the vaguest idea of the process of infertility treatment, let me share some numbers for you. If you don't have stupendous insurance, most insurance companies pay very little or even nothing at all for actual IVF treatment.

When we started this process, the company W worked for actually HAD stupendous insurance. But when he switched jobs, that would go away entirely unless I kept up with COBRA. Considering the cost of COBRA vs the cost of fully out of pocked, we opted to keep only me on that insurance. At our expense.

So let's look at a cycle ON the COBRA for all our out of pocket expenses:
Monthly COBRA (regardless of whether I'm in a cycle or not it must be paid every month): $742.24
Cost of prescription pre-natal vitamin - (copay) $10/month
Cost of prescription folic acid - (not covered) $20/month
Cost of IVF medications & supplies (copay) approx. $100/cycle
Doctor's visit copays $10 x approx 5-6 visits per cycle
Close to $1000 for one cycle month (not counting non-cycle month costs)
There was also an administrative fee at the very beginning around $350, I think.

Now... remember... I was also unemployed during a lot of this time or working as a contractor which required me to take time off for bloodwork, ultrasounds, retrieval and transfer.

Cost for a cycle completely out of pocket: $20,000+

We're getting a bargain, right?

So now we're coming down to choices. Insurance will not pay for donor eggs (my BEST chance to conceive). Cost if my clinic has a ready donor: $22,600 (though it's POSSIBLE my insurance pays for my portion of this (around $6100, minus my copays, etc. So our portion then becomes $16000-1700). Cost if they do NOT have a donor and we need to go to an agency? Closing in on $30,000.

Donor eggs are out unless we put ourselves in debt.

To get the answer of "can my eggs even have a hope to survive?" we need to do what's called a PGD or embryo biopsy. Reading the jargon of medical insurance, I can't say for sure if there is or is not a circumstance in which this is covered. Let's assume not. Two cycles (mock cycle to check uterine lining and "real" cycle for transfer w/ biopsy) plus the cost of the biopsy  ($1500 to my provider; $3500-4000 to an outside lab).
 So roughly another $7500 out of pocket.

When you ask us to go out somewhere and we turn you down... it's not because we're mean or we don't like you... we can't afford it.

I saw some pages with PayPal donating buttons... I thought "Hmmm... good way to defray some costs... but how does that work from a financial/tax/legal point of view?" That thought was almost immediately followed up with - "Do I really want to beg my family and friends for financial help, which we may never be able to repay and air all this laundry to more than just the 6 or 7 people who probably read my blog?"

I don't know. I'm lost. Add onto this some potentially further bad news (or at the very BEST some "What the hell is wrong with me NOW" news) and I have to wonder what my great purpose is here in this world that the Almighty thinks it's worth keeping me around.

In my lowest last night, I came across a blog of a woman who is now facing the possibility of a life without children. She had a list of "things I'll never get to do"... it was truly heartbreaking. I don't WANT to be there. I don't want to face that. But, as I read somewhere else, when is enough, enough? How do you get yourself past this and move forward, especially, like me, you don't feel satisfied that you have all the answers yet as to "why."

Maybe I hold in my wallet the solution to all of it and that $310M will be mine tonight... a girl can dream, right?

A day full of heartbreak

Yesterday was not a good medical day. It was an even crappier "attempt to work" day.

I'm struggling... I'm faltering and I will admit that.

All of the little petty annoyances from earlier in the week actually served as a reminder of how difficult this particular struggle is and, though I have found some who can genuinely sympathize, we are alone in our togetherness.

And, some days, when the news seems most dire, when it's piled with other medical issues, other financial issues, other realizations that maybe just maybe you really have passed the "Mother" phase in your life and moved straight onto the "Crone".... all those petty little annoyances serve to remind you just how alone you are on the day-to-day struggle with your own emotions and your own body.

I spent most of my night crying... and by the look of it, a lot of today will be spent that way too.

I can't take any more bad new Universe. I know you think I'm strong enough to handle it, but I'm really not and I need a break. I can be rational and talk my way through Reason... but inside Fear is taking over and Heartbreak is making just thinking a struggle.

If it's going to be over, send me the means to accept it. If it's not, send me the means to make my dream happen and take away this struggle once and for all.
I’ve started to read a lot of blogs by women dealing with infertility. It’s heartbreaking sometimes, not just because their stories are sometimes sad and frustrating, but because I read them and all I can think is “yes… this is what I’m going through.” In a way, though, it does help sometimes. Really knowing there is someone else out there who is doing this because of an overwhelming desire which can’t always be put into words; someone who knows the pain of the shots and the procedures and the hormonal changes… and most of all the struggle of emotions through each cycle, holding onto hope only to have it lost.

There is a whole community of women out there, connected by this invisible thread of the internet.  And though the reasons may be different (or unknown entirely), we each have this common bond of wanting to be a mom so badly and finding it such a struggle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

All The Words

Had a bit of a cry last night. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and my thought process is... "My hair is grey. My scars are hurting. I'm closing in on 40. I'm old. My eggs are old. I'll never have a baby and that's why."

It makes looking in the mirror hard some days.

Days following often are filled with ways to put my situation in a positive light again.

Today's search came across this: It's basically a "here's WHAT to say."

Yes. This, people. Pay attention here.

If you Google what NOT to say to an infertile man or woman, you get a lot of Top "X" things. And, yeah... just a quick glance through them, I have heard a vast amount of them. And you know what? They aren't necessarily meant to be mean or hurtful (though, some people can be that way, the majority of folks aren't doing it intentionally), but they are. They may not be intentional... but oftentimes they are not thought through either.

And I think that's where a lot of my bitterness has come from over the last year.

This process is hard enough as it is without feeling like you're being judged, doing something wrong or just plain stupid because you didn't think of X, Y, Z to get pregnant. This falls into the same pet peeve I have over people who, when faced with someone who has depression, responds with "well just stop being sad."

Infertility is a medical condition like any other medical condition. No matter how well intentioned your "advice" may be, really think before you put it out there to someone going through this. Because it's not as simple as "it will happen" or "just relax and stop stressing over it." And, to be perfectly honest, you just sound like an ass when you tell us this.

Why We Are Strong

Thanks to a friend, I have been put in touch with a lovely woman who is starting this journey of IVF. And, reading about where she is and where she's going, I am reminded that, when faced with adversity we have two options - Be strong or give in.

I will not give in. Even if I ultimately come to the conclusion that this process should end... I have to remind myself that it is not me giving up and giving in. Sometimes nature is just cruel and that's ok... that's not my fault.

It has led me to repost something I posted on one of the fertility forums when someone asked how do we pull ourselves out of the depression, anger and frustration a failed cycle (or repeated failed cycles) places us.

After my chemical, I also started a pretty bad spiral downwards.

DH and I did go to a therapist at the time and after talking to us both for a while she pointed out one very important thing to me. It seems a "no duh" now, but I do realize it's a trap I (still) fall into:

It's not my fault.

It's hard to remember this sometimes and put a lot of blame and pressure on ourselves that somehow we've done something wrong, that it's our fault we have issues getting pregnant, that we're somehow "bad" or "less" because of it.

But... it's NOT OUR FAULT.

She wanted me to remember this. To make this my mantra. She wanted me to get out and do other things I love, to exercise or meditate and get my mind to a better place and my bodies own endorphins doing their job.

This last BFN seems to be hitting me pretty hard on occasion. Probably the hormones still in my system, but I feel fairly bi-polar some days, and DH has been worried.

But I just try to tell myself that 1) I'm allowed to feel bad; I'm allowed to grieve and 2) I have not done anything to make this occur. It's not my fault.

I don't know if that will help; and from experience I know it doesn't make all the bad feelings go away. But it does keep pulling me back from that edge of darkness and makes me continue to explore our options... or even someday accept no options at all. I don't like to think about it... but it doesn't send me into hysterics anymore either.

Just my two coppers worth...

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Little Politics

Yeah, yeah... I know... I don't usually do this.
But this article has prompted me to write about it, as it actually is somewhat relevant to my situation.

I do genuinely understand some upset and push-back from religious run organizations. For the same reason I understand religious run hospitals wishing to refuse to do abortions. But, I think we should likely make something clear... to my knowledge (and I fully admit I do not currently have proof to back up this statement, but will endeavor to research it and get back to you on this), there ARE certain circumstances where the Church (and we're speaking specifically of the Catholic Church) does give dispensation for reasons to be on birth control (I'm not sure if there are similar dispensations for abortion... again... need research). Now, granted, this may be a case of those crazy American bishops/priests/etc. "forgiving" things they aren't supposed to.

When I was diagnosed with endometriosis, after the surgery to remove what the doctor found, the recommendation was that I go on The Pill. I was probably around 16 or 17 at the time. My doctor at the time was very religious (though not affiliated with a religious hospital) and my mother, being a good Catholic was concerned about this from a religious point of view. Was allowing me to be on birth control against the Church's "mandate" against birth control? It was decided that, to save me from continued pain and also to attempt to prevent infertility later on in life, birth control in this situation was acceptable.

Let's take a step back for a moment. Take a look at your medical insurance. Look up the medical policy on "infertility" and also the policy on abortion. Go ahead... I'll wait.

I'm willing to bet that if you do you'll most likely find what I did.

A policy that covers nothing or next to nothing for "infertility" treatments; but that covers "elective abortion."

Now, if you're not remotely religious, this post probably doesn't effect you at all. In fact, you're probably saying "so?"

But, if you're religious or, even if you're not, but you've suffered through fertility issues, you may be exactly as livid as I am about this little piece of information (and, btw... if your insurance policy covers both and more, good for you and you better darn well find a way to keep hold of that policy).

Birth control pills CAN and ARE used for things other than to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In fact, in some cases, they can help to ensure the ability to procreate later. Abortions, regardless of your religious belief, are sometimes necessary in life-saving situations and in situations which could help assure the ability to procreate later in life. Fertility treatments are necessary for some couples who, for one reason or another, are unable to conceive on their own.

Our health care system is broken. When my insurance company is ruling my treatment, rather than my doctor, when my government is telling me what is or is not necessary or "right" for me, the system needs fixed. And, while I do respect the fact that some people feel very strongly about what goes on in my uterus, the simple fact is, that in the end, this will be between me and my God.

If we're going to mandate certain things to prevent procreation (even if that is the "side effect" of a necessary procedure), let's make sure it's equally mandated for folks who WANT to have children. I'm angry that my dream may have to come down to a decision based on "I can no longer afford to continue this process."

I guess this makes me Pro-Life-Choice. Or something.

(Author's note: I *know* some folks probably don't agree with me. That's fine. I don't need to hear your arguments, so please refrain. I've said it before, I'll say it again... the whole situation is extremely emotionally charged for me and if you can't understand this, move along and keep your opinions to yourself. Because I'm tired of fighting; I'm tired of defending. Unless you're standing in my shoes, you can't understand...)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Little Slice of Crazy

There does come a time in this whole process when you have to ask yourself “is it worth it?” 

After a year of trying through IVF, the only “success” I had lasted maybe a week. 

I know some folks out there just don’t really “get” my state of mind after all of this. They may say they “understand”… but unless you’ve been where I am, you can’t possibly understand.  You can’t know how certain fears grip you out of the blue and make you question every little thing as “is that was went wrong?”
You can’t know how torn up I am over the success of others. How even the most well-intentioned “help” and “comfort” hurts more than if I was just left alone. How certain events and places and people I have started to avoid like the plague, either for fear that it will upset me or cause another failure or make me more angry than I already am.

I have deliberately started sequestering myself. Sometimes to avoid people; sometimes to avoid situations; sometimes to avoid the mere possibility of trouble or distress.

And I know that there are folks out there who are probably angry or offended or hurt… but I am not going to apologize. As a friend put it to me recently “if they can’t understand why, screw ‘em. You don’t need them.”
It’s sad but it’s true. Very few people I know can possibly relate to what I face day to day. And it’s not that my life is so much more terrible than others. It’s just that it’s terrible enough for me that what I really need from my friends right now is patience, and, if not understanding, at least acceptance that I am going through a trauma like any other trauma and certain things are going to trigger fears, insecurities, anger, sadness. The last thing I need is judgment. 

I am coming to a few realizations with regards to the whole situation. These are very hard for me. They make me feel “less” in so many ways. I was told recently, in response to that statement, that I was “less” if I were comparing myself to views of a 100 years ago (actually, I think he said 500, but even at 100 it’s technically inaccurate… maybe the concept of women barefoot and pregnant died out sometime in the 60’s and 70’s. So I’ll acquiesce that my views may be around 50 years outdated; but not much more than that, really). 

Realization #1 – It is HIGHLY unlikely that I will be able to conceive a child with my own genetic material. The cynic in me says “maybe that’s a good thing, given your genetics.” However, you can see how even this line of though can lead to feeling “less” or “broken.”

Realization #2 – It is possible that I am not even able to carry a child. Potential implantation and inflammation issues aside, I already know my insides are pretty screwed up from my previous surgeries and the adhesions which exist. Though I am reassured repeatedly that these will not be an issue to pregnancy, I’ve often wondered if there weren’t an incredible hindrance and potential cause of continued infertility issues. A new chiropractor I saw recently inadvertently raised the question in my mind again when he stated that things are likely all attached to other things on my insides because of the adhesions. It doesn’t make it an impossible task… but it does cause a lot more issues to consider.

Realization #3 – Given the above two realizations, I may only have a few options left to me. Most of which are cost prohibitive. We won’t even get into my rant on finances being a roadblock to pregnancy. But there you have it. One of my greatest desires of my life blocked because of a lack of money. 

So, I come into 2012 with some very difficult decisions ahead of me; some of which break my heart each time I think of them; others which hold the potential for more disappointment and heartache. 

I will not lie. I am asking a great deal from the people in my life lately, particularly those I have called “friend.” My mood changes from second to second and I admit it is hard to predict what could set me off. So, if I have refused you or your invitations, if I seem short in my responses (or don’t respond at all), if I seem ungrateful for your “advice”, please take into consideration that I am going through an awful lot right now. That in any given month, I’m pumped full of drugs which increase my hormone levels beyond what my body is used to, cause me horrid side effects and pain and bruising… and all too often end in disappointing news and one more step further from my dreams.

I don’t need anyone to really “understand” what I am going through. I don’t EVER want someone to have to go through this. What I do need is understanding that I am in a very delicate place right now. Certain events over the last year have made me a much more fearful person; have made me question “is THAT what cause the cycle to fail?” or “have I done something wrong?” If you can’t understand that, if you’d rather be offended by my refusals or annoyed by my anxiety and issues, well I’m not sure I need people like that around me right now anyway. Best of luck and blessings to you, but don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. I will say I recognize this is 100% me and how I feel; not that someone has been deliberately mean to me. 

I am trying to minimize the amount of blame I lay at my own feet. I am trying to get my anxieties about certain things under control. But I am not going a good job of it right now and I don’t need people in my life who will add to that. I am incredibly imperfect and I need to relearn to accept that in myself. 

If anyone does have something specific they want to ask me about or need to tell me, please feel free to email me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lack of Faith

Ever just have “one of those weeks?” Yeah… we all do… I just wish mine didn’t seem so incredibly frequent sometimes. Can’t the bad news just spread out a bit?

Freya had another seizure this morning. I’m dealing better with each one, but it’s still frustrating and scary and upsetting. Add to that weird flushing in my face, possible bad news tomorrow, financial issues and looming jury duty and I really would rather just go back to bed and pretend this week isn’t happening.

I had a discussion around “faith” this weekend with someone whom I very much admire for her unwavering faith. I used to have that. I don’t know exactly what changed or when… but I don’t anymore. And I can’t get it back. I’ve tried. Some (with faith) may say I haven’t tried hard enough… or maybe I tried “too hard” instead of just listening. And that’s fine – I respect that. But, the truth is, it was there and now it’s not and it’s a very difficult thing to re-gain when every time I try it seems the Universe kicks me where it hurts the most.

I can say “oh if THIS happens, I’m sure I’ll find my faith again” but the reality is that I have a hard time believing it’s not all just dumb luck anymore. “Mean”, “bad” people seem to walk around this earth unscathed and living the life. Yes, yes… their “afterlife” is going to be horrid and they’ll “get theirs” in the end (if one believes in such things).

Pregnancy (a phenomenon I have started to realize is a complete mystery that it happens at all… one almost HAS to believe is Divinely achieved) happens to teens, abusers, drug addicts and women who just don’t want them and use abortion as birth control instead… and yet me, who has wanted nothing more in my entire life than to be a mom, can’t seem to manage it, even with medical intervention making it nearly impossible to fail.

And yet… it fails. Again and again and again.

And I want to believe… I want to genuinely say “if it works this time, God, I’ll believe.” But a little nugget in my brain says even that isn’t enough and maybe it would help and maybe it wouldn’t and what have I done so horrible that I can’t have faith or family or happiness…

Yes… it’s a “beat me up” session – I’ve had that kind of week and it’s only Tuesday.

From day to day my “belief” changes. Maybe I haven’t lost my faith in God. I don’t really know. I do still feel there is something bigger out there… I just don’t know that I believe He/She/It has any great influence on our day-to-day lives. That sort of makes me sad.

What’s more, I KNOW I don’t believe in organized religion anymore. Again, I don’t know when that happened or why… but I seriously doubt I will never return to a Church of any denomination. And maybe that is what makes me a “bad person” who “bad things” happen to. I don’t have the answers. I just know that I’m weary of it…

God – if you’re listening – please answer my prayer in a positive light. Please give me something to make this week better. I can’t promise it will make a huge difference in my views; but I can promise it will give me pause, which may be all I really need to get back on track.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Funny how things change so quickly...

I re-read that last post... and I still feel some of those frustrations, but I'm moving past.

First of all... after a whirlwind interview process, I am employed again. I love the job (though it is a little slow going lately) and I think this company holds a lot of good things for me.

I had my transfer. One very good hatching blast according to the doctor and embryologist.

It's positive and I need to keep focusing on that, even though there were some things just before transfer which make me a little nervous as to the success. But... we'll move along.

Keeping a separate log of any "symptoms" I have because being able to compare sometimes keeps the crazy down during my 2ww. I just hate the waiting. I wish I knew now whether or not it worked. And will keep working.