Box with Blue Ballons: Survival of the Gender Reveal

May 25, 2013

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post called "Cupcakes with Blue Filling" when my younger sister did her baby gender reveal party.

This weekend my sister in law did her's but they used a box full of blue balloons. 

I have written so much of the "happy for them, so sad for me" concept, but this weekend, as we were at the beach with my husband's fam, I felt a taste of that concept from them.  My mother is law was thrilled when she opened the box and the blue balloons floated to the sky.  Her first grandson.  She teared up, she cheered.  We cheered.  We smiled.  We gave them a cute baby hoodie with a frog head (we had a girl gift in case it was a girl).  The parents-to-new-baby-boy were beaming with pride and happiness and well-deserved joy.  They had battled IF for years for their first child who is now two.

But then I felt it.  The unspoken painful fact that we are in infertile.  That I should be 7 months along right now.  I was the elephant in the room, again.  My mother is law even started a phrase of "someday you guys..." and faded off.  In this joyful moment for them, I realized that I think everyone in that room is happy for them...and sad for us too.

Of course, the clash of emotions rise.  I see the growing stomach.  I see the ultrasound pictures.  I am 100% truly happy for them, but it takes a lot of myself to hold it together.  To keep the smile painted on.  To hold in tears.  Selfish tears because I want it so bad.  Scared tears because I don't know if/when.  Sad tears because I am constantly aware of the baby I am not holding in my arms.  Angry tears because I am feeling this whirlwind of emotions during something beautiful for someone else.  I'm angry I can't be normal happy; I have to work to be happy in these situations.  I'm angry that we have been at it for so long.  I'm angry that although I followed all the rules and that I would be a great mom, I'm not. 

Blue cupcakes.  Blue balloons. 

I heard this song on the Christian radio station on the drive down.  It's called WORN.  My favorite line is "let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends" Oh God, what I would give to know the struggle ends.  Although my head panics/worries/fears, deep in my heard, I know somehow, someday, the struggle will end. 

Mother Nature Is Just Plain Mean

May 24, 2012
I usually don't get my hopes up but this last cycle was different.  I ovulated on the cruise and I had the most "non-stressed" sex I've had in a long time.  With the low T issue it's hard, but we "tried" a lot more than our normal 2 times around ovulation.  When I got the smile face on the OPK it was perfect timing.  Still a long shot.

However, here is where Mother Nature has been soooo (read in dramatic voice) cruel to me.  For the first time EVER in ttc land I had what could have actually been REAL implantation bleeding.  I know it only happens to 30% of women, but 6dpo I had random pink spotting for 2 days.  This happened like 9 days before expected period.  The first time I saw the spotting, I tried to ignore it, but when it was very noticeable, I sobbed.  I cried for 2 reasons:

1.  This is the first time I allowed myself to get excited.  This has never happened.  We timed it all perfectly.  What if God is going to let us be one of those miracle couples he "saves" right before our upcoming IVF.  The fact I allowed myself to picture myself holding that stupid "congrats your pregnant" clear blue digital test and the fact that I actually believed "MAYBE" made me so happy I cried.  For a moment, I even believed "this is probably it" and I cried. 

2.  But the tears were not pure joy.  They were also pure horror.  I've very aware Mother Nature is mean (for those that follow, I got MILK coming out of my nipples a week AFTER my D&C).  I was scared. Why the random and noticeable bleeding if it isn't implantation?  Do I have an infection?  Is something wrong?  Will this mess with  IVF?  I went back to guard mode "don't get excited Holly, just wait it out."  The tears also streamed down because I'm tired.  Tired of month after month after month.  I just worn out a bit. 

And here my dear readers, is what I'm always venting about, the CLASH of 2 opposite emotions.  Expectancy mixed with "don't expect it" is a way worse feeling (when mixed) then the "don't expect it."  I HATE the clash. Hot and cold.  Black and white. Infertility is full of them.  Hope and Doubt.  Dreams and Reality.  Excitement and horror.  Happiness and sadness.  Fighting and giving up.  Trying while crying.   It really really shakes you up inside. 

I told myself that I won't mourn this little glimmer of hope that has faded away.  Last night the mourning came.  My bed had tear stains.  I couldn't breathe out of my nose.  I wasn't just crying because my period is starting, it was also crying because I know what a "fresh cycle" means/entails.  I was crying because there are no guarantees.  My husband said "Be positive."  Through my plugged up dry mouth I was able to get how "But how can someone be positive when what they are after has failed over 20 times?" Hopeful?  I can be that sometimes? But positive?  It's only natural to prepare for the worst when the worst has happened almost every month for the last 2 years. 

I told myself that since IVF is on the horizon, I'm moving forward with the BIGGEST guns they make for this stuff.  But then I remember how it ended last time and again am faced with another clash:  Hoping for a miracle, preparing for the worst.

Mr. 2 Week Wait's Wild Ride

May 16, 2013

All of us TTCer's know the 2ww oh to well.  Those dreaded 14-16 days after ovulation.  They were pretty hard on me during all our IUIs becasue at the time, the IUIs seemed super intense.  I mean, I was an infertility patient getting a treatment.  I am guilty of the trillon google searches as ridiculous as "does a right eye twitching mean early pregnancy" to more normal things like "what does implantaton bleeding look like" and "are cramps good?  bad?"  You know the drill.

The absolute WORST 2ww were after my IVF and FET.  By the time of transfer I only had to do a 9 day wait but it literally felt like 1 minute = 1 day.  Reading into feeling a cringe.  Panicking about not feeling a cringe.  Ug.

I'm in a very "comfortable" 2ww now because we know it's a long shot on our own.  I did ovulate 5 days ago and miracles happen, but I'm not expecting anything although of course am hoping.  I look at it more as winning the lottery.  Possible.  But I'm not going to cry if this cycle is a bust.  We have a fresh IVF on the horizon so that helps.

I found this article by a doctor and his reflection on the 2ww.  I had to share. I could have written this word for word.  If you know anyone suffering from infertility, here is a little peek into our crazy souls:

Symptoms after embryo transfer

As any IVF patient will attest, the 2 week wait after the embryo transfer are the longest 15 days in your life. All the action and the excitement of taking injections , going for scans , monitoring your blood test results and admiring your embryos is now over. Your doctor has put your embryos back into your uterus - and now all you can do is wait for the final outcome , in order to find out whether the embryos have implanted are not. Not only is the fact that the outcome of the treatment completely out of your hands extremely frustrating, what makes it even worse is that there is no way to of finding out what is happening to your precious embryos inside your body.

Your doctor is not very helpful either , because he's finished doing whatever he can do . He just tells you to be patient and wait till you get the HCG result . It's easy for him to say this , because he has other patients to treat - but how do you deal with the uncertainty , the impatience and the anxiety of those 15 days - where every minute seems to last an hour.

Your mind plays all kinds of games with you ! Do my breasts feel more tender than usual ? I am feeling nauseous – is this early morning sickness and does this mean that my embryos have implanted ? Should I panic because I am not feeling anything at all ? Does this mean that my embryos have died and that they cycle has failed ? Was that blood in my vaginal discharge ? Does that mean my embryos are falling out ? Are my symptoms because of PMS or are they a side effect of the medications I'm taking ?

Your mind is full of doubts and questions and there is really no one who can provide the answers. There’s little point in asking your doctor , because most the time all he can say is – We’ll have to wait for the blood test results to find out what’s happening. You can't keep on bothering your husband , which is why you spend hours on the net , googling your symptoms . You try to make sense of them by asking other more experienced IVFers on online IVF bulletin boards , so you can compare what’s happening to you with their experiences. These expeditions often leave you even more confused and frustrated, because there’s so much variability , and so many old wive’s tales !

What you need is emotional support to calm your anxious mind , but while your head understands this, it's very hard for your heart to come to terms with the fact that these 15 days will also pass. You try to do everything possible to maximize your chances of success. Your friend’s mother-in-law suggested that you should be resting in bed , so you spend all day , lying down. You read somewhere that eating pomegranates is good for your fertility , so you drink a bottle of pomegranate juice daily. The nurse at the IVF clinic suggested that you should be eating a lot of pineapples , so you eat a tin-full of slices daily; and your online buddy suggested that royal jelly helps embryos to implant, so you dutifully buy this and consume it religiously.

You try to stop your mind from playing games , by using meditation and other mind-body control

techniques, but nothing seems to work . You are dying to find out what's happening inside you , and you start cheating by doing pregnancy tests 4 days after the transfer, even though you know it's too early to really get an answer one way or the other . When you see a second line, you wonder whether it's an optical illusion , or whether you are actually be pregnant.

You just can't understand why your husband is not as obsessed about the result as you are – and because he's busy with his work and you can't keep on bugging him about your feelings and your symptoms every day , you try to bottle them up.

When it's D-day and you go to do your pregnancy test , you are not sure whether you're happy that you are finally going to find out what the results are you . You are so scared , that you find yourself trembling with anxiety. This is not the sort of person you normally are. You are used to being in control of your life and to making decisions for yourself . You find it difficult to understand why you are behaving like a student who's waiting to find out what her exam results are . And then starts the final wait to find out what the results – and every time the telephone rings , you are never sure whether you should pick it up because the nurse may be calling with good news – or not!

Boats, Bahamas, and Baby-makin'

May 13, 2013

Darren and I got back from our cruise last night.  We flew to Miami (from Portland, OR) and caught Carnival's newest ship "The Breeze" for a 6 day cruise to: Florida Keys, Grand Turk, and the Bahamas.  The main rule was, for once in a LONG time, not talk about cervical mucus, and sperm, and bbt, and opks, and what-ifs, and whens', and maybes. 

This of course was a bit challenging since 1.  I am always thinking of this.  2.  I should be ovulating around the time of the cruise.  For the most part I was able to not ramble on about any of the above and quietly take my ovulation kits in the morning.

The highlight of the trip was our last day in the Bahamas, we went to Atlantis (the biggest water park in the Caribbean).  It had the most fun lazy river called “The Current” with rapids and dips and slides.  I’m a big scardy-cat but after much convincing and reassurance I agreed to go down a huge tube waterslide on a double intertube with Darren that shot us into a shark tank.  I was having a blast and then it hit me.  I had actually gone a few HOURS without thinking about fertility/infertility/IVF, etc.  I looked at my wrist and noticed my bracelet/wristband that let me in the park.  This is the first time in 2 years I have had a wristband that DIDN’T have my health record number on it.  It was nice.

A little update, right before the cruise Darren saw an urologist.  From blood work he re-confirmed that his testorone level is very very low.  He was shocked that Dar’s first doctor didn’t put him on clomid and he prescribed it for him to instantly start taking it. 

I was really really annoyed about this.  Clomid can take 3 months to really kick in for the males.  Hopefully it will increase sex drive (it’s hard to really “try” during ovulation), his sperm count which will in turn help his morphology (shape).  Nothing really improves morphology but more sperm means more normal shaped overall.  I was annoyed because we did a year of IUIs without anyone telling us to try this.  We went months “trying on our own” and me suffering through nasty femera side effects all to be sort of trying in vain.  But, it is what is it and he is taking Clomid now, so God-willing in will work a bit.  Both of our infertility issues are minor (I ovulate with medication/he can have more sperm with medication) but it's been a MAJOR process.

The plan is to do IVF sometime this summer. 

We kept referring to our little trip as “Honeymoon Dos” and it was a perfect getaway although I still feel like I’m rocking on a ship.  I did get my little smiley face the last day of the cruise so although odds are low, it was nice to ovulate on vacation.  My poor husband did tell me that he “needs a break” from all the baby-makin’ efforts for a bit, but it was a good run ;)  The fear of another IVF is fading as the desire and the “bring it on” attitude is coming back.

Here's some pics from our vacay:  The first two are from the "formal night."  In the 2nd picture I'm laughing beacause the waiter counted to like 5, very slowly, before taking the shot.
These "cabanas" were on the adult only deck and we snagged one right by the clear railing.  It was such a fun, and relaxing day.  I'm secretly hoping this is our LAST babymoon ;) 

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: