Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week - Guest Blogger, Heather!


I am so honored to share another story of infertility with you today.  It's great, because it's a successful one and even tho all couples are different, it provides so much hope.  Heather is a friend of mine since childhood.  We grew up just across the street from each other and not a single day went by we didn't get together and play or plan our next sleep-over.  We spent many hours playing "house" and dragging our pretend babies around...(both of our mom's did daycare, so sometimes we even got to play with the 'real' babies).  Never did it occur to me that one day one of us would struggle to have our own.  A huge thanks to Heather for sharing her story today and giving us some insight on what's it's like to walk in her shoes. 

I am one of the “lucky” ones. My husband and I were married in 2009 and knew right away we eventually wanted kids. After trying for about a year we finally sought medical help and after test, after test, after test, we had no official diagnoses. Meaning; Unexplained Infertility. We tried all sorts of medications and procedures and eventually landed upon IVF. Again, one of the lucky ones, we got pregnant with twins on our first try. In fact, those were our only two healthy embryos, if it didn’t work we had nothing left. At 36 weeks I gave birth to two 6 pound amazingly healthy boys. They are the best little boys in the world and I can’t imagine a day without them. But, with that being said, I will never forget the daily struggle we faced while trying to get pregnant. Most people won’t know what this struggle feels like and don’t know what to say or how to act. Here are a few things that, as someone that dealt with infertility, I wish you knew.
1. Deep Down, I am happy for you. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited that you’re pregnant. But please give me time to process things. I would never, EVER, wish someone to go through the same struggles as I am but you have to understand that it’s a hard pill to swallow when you see all of these wonderful Facebook announcements. I will be (and am) happy for you but it is going to take me time.
2. Do NOT tell me it will happen when it’s “meant to be”. Infertility is a medical condition. Please understand that this is an illness that needs medical attention. I am not going to tell you that your diabetes is going to just go away when it’s “meant to be”. Diabetes is an illness that needs medical treatment. So is infertility.
3. Do NOT tell me to relax. See #2. Relaxing is great, but doesn’t treat a medical condition.
4. Please be mindful when you’re pregnant. I know pregnancy isn’t comfortable. Heck…I measured 56 weeks pregnant the day I had my boys. But we all know that woman that is going to complain from day one about how uncomfortable she is and how this is “ruining” her body. I’m not saying you need to pretend that everything is coming up roses but please be mindful that there might be someone listening in the group that is fighting back tears because they would give ANYTHING to feel that discomfort. My heart breaks for that woman.
5. Be mindful…but you aren’t going to “catch” infertility.  If you know someone is dealing with infertility, ask her how things are going. You don’t need to broadcast it or make a big deal but let her (or him) know you’re there for them if they want to talk. It’s a hard subject and they might not be ready to talk in that instance but let them know that when they are, you’re all ears.
6. For a couple of weeks, I WILL be a crazy person. I’m injecting $4,000 worth of hormones and medication in my body. I will be crazy and there’s nothing you, or I, can do about it.
7.  I realize that I’m not facing death, but I am facing death of a dream. I know there are people facing cancer and death all over the world. They have it MUCH worse than I do, I get that. And while I’m thankful infertility isn’t going to actually kill me, I am facing the death of a dream. For so many people having kids is just the next thing to do in life: get married, buy a house, start a family. And for so many people this is how things do work. But when you’re faced with the reality that your life might not follow that path it’s a hard thing to come to terms with.
8. STOP asking people when they’re going to have children. I honestly don’t remember every asking anyone this is the first place, but I now know that I will NEVER do it in the future. You have no idea what a couple is going through. Maybe they want to enjoy being a married couple for a while, maybe they don’t want kids, or maybe they’re in the process of giving themselves nightly shots and getting up in the middle of the night to take medication so they can have children.
9. Do not tell me to “Just Adopt”. The term “Just Adopt” is ridiculous. Adoption isn’t an easy answer to infertility. It’s not an easy answer to anything. You don’t just pick up the phone and in a week have a child. I, admittedly, don’t know a lot about adoption but I do know it can be a long, hard, and expensive process that isn’t for everyone. Thankfully, for a lot of children around the world, there are couples that have the desire to adopt but I can tell you that they aren’t doing it because it’s a quick and easy way to have a child.
10. YAY! You’re pregnant and over infertility. That doesn’t happen. Infertility sticks with you through the whole process. Yes, I see those two babies on the ultrasound monitor but that doesn’t stop my mind from going to dark places. My body couldn’t get pregnant; will it be able to stay pregnant?  My stomach is cramping, is this normal? My morning sickness is going away, is this normal? My back hurts, is this normal? I’m sure every pregnant woman has those feelings but I think it’s heightened for someone who has dealt with infertility.
Was it worth all the tears and struggles? Absolutely!
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Would I wish it upon my greatest enemy? Not for a second. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week - Guest Blogger - Stephanie!

I know you've all heard me talk about my dear friend, Lo, before.  A friend that I've been so blessed to get to know and love through this awesome world of blogging.  You may remember me sharing with you that her and her husband Jesse are struggling with infertility.  Something that I cannot even imagine having to go through.  But, she is choosing to keep up her hopes and dreams of one day becoming a mom.  I admire her for her passion, her strength and sense of humor, but most importantly her voice.  She has not been fighting infertility silently, but instead has spoken out and brought so much awareness to this topic that so many people shy away from.  1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility, so chances are you know someone struggling, whether they've come out and told you or not.  During NIAW, we're resolving to KNOW MORE!!  Lo has paired me up with a few guest bloggers this week to share their infertility stories.  I'm honored to have them!

Hello, all! My name is Stephanie. I usually blog over at The Icing On Our Cake, but for now I am mainly posting on Belly to Bump
Lauren at Our Crazy Ever After asked me to write a blog post about infertility to spread awareness during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). She teamed me up with Dawn who volunteered to host my blog post. Thank you, Dawn, for being so generous. 

 Where do I start? It’s tough to talk to fertile people about infertility. I feel that some of us come across as whiny and bitter to fertile couples. I want to start off by saying that some of us are. I am not. I am very happy for any loving couple who is blessed with the miracle of a child. I don’t wish infertility on anyone. Well, unless they are crack whores having 10 babies and on welfare. Let’s not go there though.

Our journey started over 10 years ago. Not our journey of trying to conceive, but our journey of love. I worked with this wonderfully hilarious man. He was a friend who turned into more. We started dating in August of 2003, we moved in together in October of 2004, and he popped the big question in November of 2004. We married in March of 2006 and decided to hold off on starting a family until I was done with school and he was done with his apprenticeship through the electrician’s union. At 24 years old (me) and 26 years old (him), we were still trying to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives. One things for sure, we loved each other and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

Our Wedding Day - March 4, 2006

We really REALLY wanted to start a family, so I got off the pill (what a waste of money I see that was now) and we started trying in 2008. We decided that if it happened, then we would figure things out. It didn’t happen. In May of 2012 I finally graduated with my bachelor’s degree and he finished his 5 years of schooling to become an electrician. We saw an OBGYN in the summer to get started on figuring out what was wrong with us. The doctors checked my tubes. They were open. They ordered blood work next and it came back that I am not ovulating regularly. Meanwhile, my hubby was ordered to have a semen analysis done….and then another. He had a low sperm count and poor motility according to the OBGYN. We were facing male and female factor infertility. Lucky us. The OBGYN then referred us to the wonderful Chicago-IVF clinic. 

They required us to start with IUI’s (intrauterine insemination). That’s where they clean up his sperm to get rid of the bad ones and then they inject it into me with a catheter.  We needed to have 3 done before moving onto IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Our insurance covered 6 IUI’s. We did four and then my body wasn’t cooperating. I had too many large follicles one month, so it was cancelled and then a cyst the next month, so it was cancelled once again. My nurse sensed my frustration as I asked questions while trying to hold back my tears. She suggested that we move onto IVF since we had that option. I jumped right on that. I was tired of waiting. I thought for sure that we would get pregnant off of IVF.

The faces of a hopeful couple on the 1st transfer day...

Our first IVF attempt was in October of last year and we were unsuccessful. It broke my heart. Luckily we had 3 little frozen embryos left. I thought FOR SURE that this was going to be it. I cleared out one of the spare bedrooms and painted it gray to match the bedding that I already picked out. In late January they transferred two embryos and discarded the third. I felt so good about this round. It had to have worked. After all, quite a bit of women whose blogs I was following were getting pregnant and it was their first go around with IVF. The results came back in February and we were once again not pregnant. The news was harder to take than the first time.

Last year my husband was diagnosed with varicocele. A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum, the loose bag of skin that holds the testicles. A varicocele is similar to a varicose vein that can occur in your leg. Varicoceles are a common cause of low sperm production and decreased sperm quality, which can cause infertility. In December he had a varicocelectomy. He went in for a semen analysis in February and is due to have another next month to see if his sperm count has improved. Who knows maybe we will be able to conceive on our own in the future. For now I am not holding my breath. I have read about too many of these surgeries not working. The most important thing is that his pain/discomfort is gone.

In February, right before I was supposed to meet with my doctor about another fresh IVF cycle, we decided that it is time that we take a long break from fertility treatments. It was time that I took care of my body. I needed to drop the 60+pounds that I have gained in the last 3 years. So, here I am almost 20 pounds down since February and hoping the next 40 drop off so I can get back to the joys of pills, shots, and driving 2 hours round trip to the clinic a few times a week. Yippie.

I started the new blog last month at 213.4 lbs and as of Sunday I am 199.8!!! :)

 Breaks are good for us, but they stink. It is hard to keep waiting. While I’m waiting it seems like everyone else is having their dreams come true. When is it our turn?

To me, the hardest thing about being an infertile is watching everyone else’s families grow. My husband and I were one of the first of our friends and family members around our age to get married and we are the only ones without a child. It is hard to go through all of what we’ve been through and get news like this:

My sister, who just gave birth to my nephew in September of last year, called me a few weeks back to inform me that she is pregnant again. This one is nicknamed Oopsy because they only had sex once and they weren’t officially trying yet. I forgot to mention that they weren’t supposed to be trying because she had an upcoming gallbladder removal surgery. Apparently she miscalculated ovulation and ended up pregnant. This happened shortly after our January FET. Her due date is October 25th. Mine would have been October 17th if the last transfer had resulted if the last transfer had resulted in a pregnancy. Instead of watching my own bump grow, I get to watch hers. I am happy for her, don’t get me wrong. I am just sad for us. It gets harder as the years pass.

With that being said, I’m not really sure what else to write in this post. Maybe it’ll be best to give some advice on what to say or not to say to an infertile.

1.)    Please do not ask us if we hate you because you can have kids easily. This is something that I’ve been asked a few times and I’m sure if people haven’t asked, then they’ve probably had that same thought. No, we do not hate you. We are happy for you. It sucks for us, but we are happy that you don’t have to struggle like we do.

2.)    Please do not tell me that it is on God’s hands. So you mean to tell me that God granted the wish of a lesbian (no, I am not anti-same sex marriage) couple who started dating a year ago and started trying to have a child about 9 months ago? No, they did not go through a fertility clinic and get a sperm donor. They freakin’ found a random guy to sleep with one of them. Yes, true story.

3.)    Please do not tell us to have more sex. That was and never will be a funny statement. It isn’t about how often you do it. You have a small window per month. It’s about the perfect timing. That’s why ovulation predictor kits are awesome.

4.)    Just wish us luck and if you have faith, tell us that you are praying for us. I know, I’m contradicting myself a little. I don’t think it is up to him, but maybe he can help a little! ;)

I feel like I have rambled a bit in this post, but my job this week is to spread awareness about infertility. I hope I did alright with letting my feelings out. I’m usually not very good at doing that. I appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time out of your day to read my post. I hope that if you ever have dealings with an infertile that you keep some of what I said in the back of your mind and sympathize with that person. It’s not always easy finding the right words to say. Sometimes something simple like “I’m thinking about you two” is just what we need/want to hear. Just keep us in your thoughts and prayers, please. Thank you. :)

Thank you so much, Stephanie, for sharing your journey with infertility.  I've always kind of thought that once you get to the point of doing IVF, that it was a sure thing.  But, clearly it doesn't always happen that way.  Also, thank you for giving us some tips on what to say to those we love that are in your shoes.  Sometimes even in our most caring moments, we struggle to find the right words to say.  Best of luck to you and your husband as you continue on this journey.  You both will be in my heartfelt thoughts and prayers.