Infertility in Laymen's Terms

June 27, 2013

This is me on Lupron:

I would take hot-flashes any day over OHSS and all those other rough things that come with IVF treatment, but them leaving me on Lupron for longer than last time is H-O-T!
I recently had a conversation with my mother-in-law and dad (at separate times) trying to explain infertility. 
In life, most (note: I said most, not all) situations/challenges/issues are consequences of our choices.  I.E you have bad credit card debt?  You most likely made unnecessary purchases.  Overweight?  Wrong food choices.  Bad marriage? Maybe one of you is selfish or mean.  You get fired?  Probably didn't work hard. 
I personally have always loved a good challenge and I'm one of those "over achievers" who "make things happen."  When my husband and I got married 3.5 years ago he had over 100K in student loans and no degree (see example list above of decision:consequence).  HOWEVER, he didn't want to live his life in debt so we PUT IN discipline.  Blood, sweat, tears of forcing ourselves to use 1 of our entire paychecks to go towards the loans every single month.  We wanted new things, we wanted vacations, but we also wanted to have control of our finances: so we SACRIFICED.  But got results we wanted: financial peace.
In college, I graduated in 3 years.  I overloaded credits, I stayed in on the weekends (I know, nerd alert), I studied hard.  I graduated with a 3.9 and started teaching high school when I was 21.  I put in hard work, I reaped a degree and job. 
In my conversation with my dad, we talked about weight loss.  Many Americans are overweight and it's hard to lose.  BUT, anyone would agree that if the person truly committed, took action, dieted, ate right, exercised, etc. they would get the result they wanted.  It would be hard.  It would cost a lot of time, effort, etc.  BUT ultimately the choice/result is in their hands.
Again, massive disclaimer.  I know there are people that have to use credit cards to survive.  I know there are people with medical issues that make weight loss more challenging.  However, my point is, in MOST situations, you work hard-you get the results.  Ball in your court.
So, now.  Infertility.  This is what I said to my dad in regards to me having a struggle with "hope."
Imagine that you need to lose 100 pounds and you commit.  You're in.  You want it bad.  So, you follow the strictest diet perfectly.  You eat lots of fruits and vegies.  No sugar.  You exercise hard several days a week.  You deny yourself candy and treats because you want a healthy body more.  After 1 year of really really working hard you step on the scale.  It hasn't budged.  You still weigh the exact same as you did at the beginning of the year.
You feel mad.  Shocked.  Confused.  You did everything right.  You want to be healthy!  You do it again for year 2 but maybe consult another Dr. or nutritionist.  You go a step further.  You pay a lot of money.  You involve your body in hard physical challenges.  You eat perfectly.  Year 2 comes to an end.  You step on the scale.  You weigh the exact same.  Again.
At this point, it is harder and harder to believe that you will reach a healthy weight.  You are discouraged.  You become a little "harder" a little more cynical.  You look to the future wondering if it will ever work...
"This is how I feel dad"  I say, "This is how infertility has been for us."
We started off so pumped, so excited.  We took the right vitamins.  We don't drink alcohol.  My husband avoids hot-tubs at all costs.  We used OPKs and BBTs.  We did IUIs and monitoring and trigger shots and clomid.  Year 1 passed, no baby.
Year 2 is a little harder but we bring in the "big guns"  IVF.  At this point we are giving it our all.  Blood, sweat, tears, SPERM, eggs.  Injections, retrievals, transfers.  Everything we can possibly do emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.  Nothing.
I'm not hopeless, dont' get me wrong.  I know there are many instances of "suddenly" in the Bible where out of nowhere ONE thing changes the course.  This even happened with me getting together with my husband.  I was single for so long (and nervous it would never happen) and then BAM out of nowhere God brought him into my life.  I'm not hopeless, just frustrated.  Infertility is not a consequence of me making bad choices, it's just part of living in a fallen world.  And no matter how hard I work towards getting results, I haven't yet.  It's hard sometimes.  I know God is reminding me that I am not in control.  I get that.
After having this conversation with my family, many light bulbs went on.  They could understand why I am "guarded" and not super overly excited for future IVFs.  I'm thankful.  I'm hopeful but I guarded.  I'm praying for a "suddenly" experience where despite the PAST, God does something new in my future. 

Keep Pounding the Rock

June 20, 2013

“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

-Jacob Riies

My husband is a huge NBA fan and of course we have been watching the final series of the Miami Heat verses the San Antonio Spurs. I played bball in high school myself so I usually watch the games with him.

On Thursday we were watching the game and I mentioned how strange it is that now a days they actually film/broadcast what the coaches say to the players in the huddles.

Darren said, "well, all he ever says is "keep pounding the rock." 

Me:  "What?  Why?"

Darren:  "In theory if you keep pounding a rock, it will break.  The Spurs are steady and strong but older.  Their motto this year has been "keep pounding the rock." 

Me:  (I didn't respond out loud but get major epiphany) nod my head

It all the sudden totally applied to infertility to me (surprise surprise I could connect something to infertility since I'm never, wink wink, thinking about it). Pounding (in my case punching) a rock sounds really really painful.  I imagine a really sore hand.  Blood.  Lots of pain.  Frustration.  But, with the inspiration of the San Antonio Spurs, they believe if you KEEP pounding the rock it will eventually break.

In the world of IF, I have beat the living $%#^#&## out of the rock.  I am tired.  I am bloody.  I am frustrated.  But what if all I need is just a few more hits before it breaks?  What if I "give up" from all the pain and lack of movement when really one more strong punch would have done the trick?

Our IVF #3 is going to happen in July.  I have been pounding the rock for over two years.  Little weak hits of off-timed IUIs, some bigger hits with perfectly timed IUIs or even on our own, and my hands hurt bad.  IVF #3 is going to be an extra hard punch.   It will hurt (literally) but I pray that this will be the last swing I have to throw for a bit.

Father's Day Funk

June 17, 2013

Although we have been ttc for oh, 951 days or so, Mothers Day and Fathers Day haven't really "gotten" to me till this year.  Last Mother's Day I had just had an IUI that seemed perfect and someone on the prayer team at church told me he felt like God wanted us to know "Mother's day was our day"  (he didn't know about the treatment and said he really didn't know what that meant but wanted to share).  I had more hope last Mother's Day.  Heck, once I started clomid in 2010 I thought we would be knocked up within months.  I almost cancelled the trip I had planned to Spain in summer 2012 (I started planning it in 2011) because I "just knew" chances of being pregnant with so many IUIs ahead were high.

I've almost calmed down.  I've stopped that thinking to some degree.  I try really hard to take one day at a time.  However, when you find yourself shooting up in the Olive Garden bathroom (not crack, lupron) it's really hard not to wonder about the future, and then worry.

When our FET failed, I booked a cruise to the Caribbean to "get out."  I was happy we would be missing mother's day.  It was my younger sister's "first" and my grandma was in town.  I just didn't like the idea of talking about moms.  I feel like I am becoming an OBESE, SMELLY, AWKWARD, elephant in the room.  Although others may not think it, I do and thats no fun.

I didn't really see "Father's Day" hitting me the way it did.  I'm on an long IVF protocol and have to take Lupron injections FOREVA and for some reason the Lupron this round is making me nuts.  I mean like every emotion I feel is just super intense.  If it's sad, I'm heartbroken.  If it's happy, I'm giddy.  If its worried, I'm horrified.  I can feeeeel the emotions. Basically everything is a bit "biggger" than normal.

Anyways, we haven't even gotten through Father's Day with my side of the fam, but we celebrated with Darren's.  The fathers in this group include:  Darren's dad, and our brother-in-law Mike.  Michael and Darren's sister struggled with IF for years but now have a 2 year old daughter and are pregnant with a boy.  We go out to eat at this crab shack place.  We arrived with Darren's parents and the waiter almost instantly puts on a #1 Dad Bib on the father in law.  Okay.  I'm used to this.  But when Michael showed up a bit latter, and got one two, I suddently felt so isolated.  I wanted Darren to have one.  Bad.  I really really wanted Darren to have a bib that said #1 Dad.  It was obvious we had no children.   Now remember, this round of Lupron injections is making my emotions X 10.  I basically held back tears that Darren didn't have the right to wear the bib.  Am I totally insane? 

To make matters worse, I was asked if I had had all my hormones checked.  This is one of the situations were people are genuially trying to be nice and caring and helpful but it reved me up.  Of course I've had all my hormones checked.  To be on the verge of doing my 10th IF procedure, I guarantee you I know what's up (and down) with my hormones. 

Darren had a headache so I drove our new (to us) mini-suv that we bought for kids, back home.  And I didn't hold back the tears.  I felt better when I got home, but as the years go by and the families grow, I'm going to have to come up with a way of dealing with Fathers/Mothers day.  Ah!

On another note, at my inlaws church there was a quote that said:

"Delay may not mean denial.  Keep praying."

This little quote was JUST what I needed.  I have so many failed attempts behind me, I get stuck on what to say, to even mess with praying, on hoping.  But then it hit me.  Yes, God could ultimately say "You shall not bear child" and I would have to pray for peace and move forward.  But we are not there yet.  Maybe, just because it hasn't happened, may not mean it's denied. 

Jesus, I pray for all the women who are reading this who are in a boat similar to mine. I pray for all of us.  For a new breath of hope.  To have the will power to keep asking to keep dreaming.  To accept your will and that it be clear to us.  Give us strength each day in each high and low.  Help us look forward and not back.  Help us anticipate the things to come and cling to your promises that you work all things together for good for those that love you.

If You Adopt You WILL Become Pregnant

June 12, 2013

I have written several posts about things NOT to say to people struggling with infertility, but rarely do I experience it directly.  Yes I've had the nosy "does you husband wear boxers" to "have you read ________" and of course the "I heard keeping your legs up after sex...."

At  a district curriculum meeting an older Spanish teacher started up the conversation.

Her:  "How's marriage?  You're still in the newlywed stage right?"

Me: Well, it's almost been 4 years so kind of."

Her:  "Are you guys wanting children?"

Me: (I'm prob too blunt at this point but they asked!) "We've been trying for awhile. We did IVF in the fall and had a miscarriage so we are hoping to do IVF again."

Her:  "Oh sorry to hear should just adopt.  If you adopt you WILL become pregnant.  I know two people that this has happened to."  (follow by her overzealous giggle).

Me: "Can you give me a money back guarantee?" (trying to add humor but sheesh!)

The conversation ended and the meeting started.  I wasn't mad at her, I get that most people don't "get it."  At this point we have spent $25k on IF stuff and I don't know if we could do it all again for awhile on the high cost of adoption.  It just stings and reminds me of the isolation I have from so many people who haven't had to deal with this challenge.  If only "just adopting" was as easy as getting pregnant and completely satisfied the desire to carry a child (which I have not let go of yet), I promise I would be holding a baby right now. 

On another thought, a fellow blogger posted an interesting article on the impact of infertility on men :

It was a good read.  It reminds us (me at least) that men have it rough too.  Of course, when I'm reved up on hormones, I might get a little cynical with him because all he has to do is have an orgasm; I know its so much more.  I think I often forget about their feeling of helplessness.  My husband is strong on the inside and outside.  For him to not be able to fix a sobbing wife I think gets to him.  The article talks about how men don't really talk about their emotions/struggles with their friends.  It talks about how the sperm is always called a "sample" but to us its "my future dreams."  It talks about them peeling their wives off the ground after a failed treatment. 

It also mentions how society always "assumes" infertility is the "woman's fault."  We were with his old high school friends the other day and they started asking questions about IVF (I'm an open book about it).  His friend jokingly said "Is it you Darren?"  Something about a man having "bad" sperm messes with his ego I think.  I jumped in "I don't ovulate on my own!" I had to defend Dar and his fish, I could take one for the team.  After all, we both got "issues."  Along those lines though, Darren has been taking clomid and his testosterone has gone from 138 to 440!  The normal range is like 250-800 so we are hopefully making progress in case we have to try on our own again if IVF doesn't do it for us this summer (even typing it makes me anxious). 

I just bought a Christian book called "Battlefield of the Mind."  It really encourages people to train their brains to think positive, choose joy, fight against worry.  Easier said then done but I'm so about to read that book.  I need it!

Saline Infusion Sonogram (SIS)

June 3, 2013

My RE suggested getting a SIS before starting our next cycle.  I was iffy as I've had every other test in the book and it's been fine.  Getting my uterus filled with dye didn't exactly sound like a "fun" way to spend a Monday afternoon.  My insurance covered half so Darren and I decided that we should just do it for "peace of mind."

The procedure was similar to and IUI but they filled my uterus with dye.  It was pretty uncomfortable and the doctor was super young and super new and he couldn't figure out how to get the spectrum out (my worst nightmare).  Everything was "clear" and I'm so thankful for that.

On the drive home though, a huge wave of sadness hit me.  Like the 2 and half years of failed procedures and the 2 and half years of incredibly invasive procedures (like the SIS) just kind of landed on my shoulders.  Tears streamed down my face in frustration of lives's injustice.  I know God doesn't owe me a thing, but going through the process is hard.

Today I was proctoring a state test at work and the math teacher's quote on his desk caught my eye.  It said:

"Sometimes life feels like we are driving a bicycle through a carwash."

I loved it!  This doesn't just apply to infertility.  This applies to everyone in some season.  The beauty of it is that although it's scary, creepy, painful, uncomfortable, you are being "cleaned" in the process.  I have to believe that God's promises are true.  In Isaiah he says "I will not cause suffering without something new being born."  He doesn't promise comfort, he doesn't promise a perfect life, but he does promise something new after suffering.  I was reading the book of Job and the study guide mentioned that when God allows His children to suffer, we often question his goodness.  It goes on to say this is exactly where Satan wants to discourage us-in that moment-to question if God is good. 

For some reason I've read several blogs this week of writer's annoyed with complaining.  Complaining can be very painful of course (like a pregnant friend complaining to me for example) but I also believe that sometimes venting is necessary.  It's real life.  Thank goodness my dear hubby listens, but sometimes, after I've repeated my complaints and worries to him to the level of seeing his eyes glaze over, I write.  I hope that through my pain, and venting, and honesty that I come across as a person TRYING to remain hopeful and positive despite the mounding fear behind.

Next steps in our process?  I have to be honest, I'm so jealous of some of the bloggers I follow.  Their RE let's them jump right in and get to the stims! I would love to just jump all in.  I called our RE office because we would like to move forward.  The nurse said if we started now it would be an 8 week protocol??? What?? It was 6 last time I did a fresh? I'm the type of person that just likes to get stuff over with and with everything a floating in the unknown future, I get anxious.   Due to scheduling they want me to be on BCP and then 17 days of lupron before starting anything.  I guess this is called the "long protocol."  I emailed my RE directly and asked if there was any way to shorten the lupron part since I was only on it 10 days last time and completely surpressed.  This request annoyed the nurse and she called me back to let me know that this isn't an option (she seemed annoyed).   It actually hurt that she was "short" with me.  I'm so vulnerable right now I wish she could have been more gentle about it.  In the world of infertility when you are waiting for results it can feel like years.  I guess I just had mentally calculated I would be doing a transfer like July 1.  Looks like I won't be getting to "this moment" till the end of July or early August. I know God is teaching me over and over again that I am not in control.

 I don't think I'm going to put dates or specifics on my blog this time.   I'm so nervous about everything that I feel like if I keep it secret (from the entire world except my husband and the doctors) that it might feel less real.  I am terrified of what can come.  I am thankful of what can come.  But at the end of the day I know it really only matters if God says "yes" or "no" and nothing I do/don't do can change that.  I am hopeful His will and ours allign this time!

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: