Friday, April 24, 2015

This is my truth.

I can remember a few years ago when I was reading a blog entry from a childhood friend.  She was struggling with infertility, and she talked about how she would find herself balled up in the bathroom in the middle of the night in tears.  Now, I can say that I have never found myself in that exact position.  In fact, I choose just to stay in my bed and cry because Todd snores loud enough to cover my whimpers.  In all seriousness, I think that anyone that has dealt with infertility knows this pain she describes.

That was the first time I realized that I wasn’t alone.

Over the last 4 ½ years, I have really grown.  However, I’m not perfect.  I have been told that I come across as strong, when my truth is that I feel weak more often than I feel strong.

Want to know some secrets?
·       Sometimes, I cry in my car or in the bathroom at work or anywhere else that people can’t see me.
·       I feel like several of my infertile friends have gotten pregnant and forgotten how hard this is.  (Don’t be offended.  I’m probably not talking about you.)
·       I hide my true feelings from everyone except Todd.
·       I’m terrified of facing this Mother’s Day without being a mother.  It will be the fifth one since we started this journey, and each one gets more difficult.
·       I try to hide my pain behind humor.
·       Commercials with babies can still make me giggle, but I’m always wondering if I’ll ever hear that laugh in my house.
·       Many days, I wake up feeling refreshed and strong, and somewhere along the day, something happens that knocks me back down into exhausted and weak.
·       We have a plan.  We almost always have a plan.  However, although my plan may seem like a good one today, I might wake up tomorrow and completely doubt every step.
·       I think about infertility literally every second of every day.  I’ve said this before, but I think about the baby that I don’t have as much as my friends with newborns think about the baby they do have.
·       It makes my stomach ache to think about how much money we have put into treatments.  However, I can’t seem to stop.
·       Sometimes, I love seeing and holding babies.  Sometimes, the thought of a baby puts knots in my stomach and brings on the waterworks.
·       On the tough days when I choose to lean on Todd, his calm demeanor can make me feel like he doesn’t hurt at all.  (Sidebar:  Our husbands hurt, too.  They just hold themselves together for our sake.  Don’t be fooled by his lack of emotion, sister.  In all honesty, he deserves a cape.)

Those are just a few of my truths.  I have many others that I could share but won’t for the sake of keeping this entry to a decent length.

The truth is, I evidently portray that I am strong.  However, I still have moments when I feel weak and alone.  I start to compare myself to others.  I don’t know a lot of people that have faced their fifth IVF cycle with no insurance coverage.  I don’t personally know anyone whose husband has had to go under the knife every time they try to get pregnant.

What I do know are way too many women that have desired to have a baby and have not been able to make it easily happen.  All of them can relate to at least one of my secrets above.  That is because I’m not actually alone.  And you aren’t either.

Even on my lowest days, I struggle to reach out and ask for help.  It’s at that time that I forget that I’m not alone. 

No one deserves to be alone.  We all deserve to have someone to talk to about this.  We deserve to have a friend that truly understands.
 
My final truth:  My Lord is my strength.

*************************************

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  If you are reading my blog, you know someone who suffers from the disease of infertility.  (It is considered a disease.)  Actually, you probably know more than one person who suffers from it.  Did you realize that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility?!  Please, take time to help spread awareness of this disease that causes so many men and women to suffer alone:  http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/home-page.html

If you don't enjoy Internet research, I can tell you all about infertility.  J

Thank you for being a part of our support team.  We appreciate each of you.
borrowed from Attain Fertility Facebook page

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Post Surgical Follow-Up

Since I started IVF, I have built a process for doctor appointments.  Shave, if necessary.  Pick out fun socks (sometimes theme-based for the appointment).  Drink lots of water (on blood draw days).  Mentally prepare to see Wandy (the transvaginal ultrasound for those that easily forget).  Empty my bladder before doctor comes into the room.  Hide my panties in my purse when undressing.  (Am I the only one that finds it funny that we hide our panties from a doctor that knows the ins and outs of our nether regions?!  The panties are just too sacred, Doc.)

Well, I followed most of that process for my post-op appointment with Dr. Nilson yesterday.  Then, the strangest thing happened.  The nurse took us into an exam room and gave me no instructions to undress before she closed the door behind her.  She simply said Dr. Nilson would be in shortly to talk to us.

While we were waiting, we had the honor of listening to someone’s ultrasound heartbeats through the wall.  They were loud enough that Todd was able to clock them at 144 beats per minute.  Congratulations, Momma.  This is not something that would ever happen at Dr. Bundren or Dr. McKinney’s offices.  Neither would the 95% of patients with pregnant bellies/newborn babies in the lobby.  However, you learn to take things with a grain of salt…or hide in the bathroom crying until the nurse calls your name.  I’ve never done the latter, but give me a few hormone shots and I wouldn’t put it past me.
I digress.

So, we were waiting in this exam room for Dr. Nilson when Todd pointed out that the only equipment in the room was a lamp with a swivel neck.  He also pointed out that it was considerably larger than Wandy, and we both got a good laugh. 

Next, we noticed that his table in the room was covered with three different times of long-term birth control.  Seriously?!  You have to laugh at that irony, people.  The final straw was when we realized that the Mirena IUD was the same design as an anchor.  (This would be a good time to mention that I randomly chose to wear my anchor socks that day.)  I’m glad we can make each other laugh.
Dr. Nilson came in, and I wish we had set a timer on this appointment because it was so quick.  He asked how I was doing.  I told him mostly fine with one complaint.  He assured me that it was nothing to be concerned about.  Then, Todd asked if my uterine septum could grow back since he just removed it again after Dr. Bundren did in August 2012.  Nilson proceeded to explain how the uterine septum works and is removed.  Basically, Dr. Bundren just didn’t remove enough.  The best part was when he explained that “back in the day,” they had to insert a light into the woman’s abdomen during the uterine septum removal.  When they could see the light shining through her uterus, they would stop cutting on the septum.  We were bumfuzzled.  God, thank you for allowing Western medicine to have such awesome advances in technology.

Anyway, Dr. Nilson asked how I was.  I said mostly fine.  He confirmed I was completely fine.  He drew us a picture of a uterus pre- and post-op septum removal.  We left.  Stop the timer.

Literally, we hit the parking lot, turned to each other, scratched our heads in the way that only Dr. Bundren can do best (Bundren patients know the scratch), and asked each other what just happened.  I’m not sure what the need for that appointment was, but it gave us a good laugh…well, several good laughs.

I also got to see a girl from Infertile Myrtles that I haven’t seen since she got pregnant.  That was an added bonus and exceptional timing.

All is well on the surgery side.  D&C was a success.  Miscarriage is over.  Life can move forward.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Surgery in Review

Well, it’s been 8 days, so it’s probably about due time I update my blog with the details of my surgery last week.  As I said last Tuesday, I found out that morning that what we thought was a hysteroscopy was actually a hysteroscopy and D&C. 

Basically, a hysteroscopy is a procedure where the doctor inserts a lighted tube into the vagina to examine the cervix and inside of the uterus.  A D&C (dilation and curettage) is a procedure where the doctor removes tissue from inside of the uterus.  It’s performed after a miscarriage.  (I should have googled the definitely of a hysteroscopy sooner.  My bad.)

Todd, my mom, and I arrived at the hospital Wednesday morning and everything went mostly as planned.  They ran at least 30 minutes behind taking me to surgery, but I didn’t really care.  I had good company.
My cheering section
Dr. Nilson came in to talk to us.  That was the first time Todd or my mom had met him.  We asked a lot of questions, especially about why he had decided to do a D&C without our knowledge.  Basically, he informed us that the amount of tissue left in my uterus had a higher probability of causing scar tissue than a D&C did.  Well, get it out, Doc!

Finally, they came to take me to surgery.  On my way out the door, my Mimi and her fiancĂ© showed up.  That was a fun surprise, if only for a minute.  Dr. Nilson quickly entered the OR after I did and stood with a comforting hand on my hip until I went into la-la land.

After surgery, Dr. Nilson informed Todd that part of my uterine septum had reappeared.  (A uterine septum is a growth at the top of the uterus that causes it to be heart-shaped, as opposed to triangular shaped.  If an embryo attaches to it, you will have a miscarriage.) 
My septum was not this big this go around.
I wasn’t even aware that this could grow back.  Either that or Dr. Bundren didn’t get it all when he did my hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and uterine septum removal back in August 2012.  After Dr. Bundren had removed it, I was required to go into a state of menopause for 4 months.  We won’t even rehash those memories, again.  It was awful.  Luckily, this recovery shouldn’t take more than a month because the septum was smaller, and I won't require one drop of Lupron.  Hallelujah!
 
I had considerable pain after the surgery, so I was given a dose of morphine.  Yum…until it’s time to eat.  Nausea deluxe that day!  Todd had to suffer McDonald’s for lunch, per my request, and I ended up not being able to eat it.  Sorry, honey.  Way to take one for the team, though!  I did, however, eat the dinner our LifeGroup brought us late that night.  Double yum!!

Overall, seemed to be a good surgery.  Everything went pretty smoothly.  I’m glad we can finally move past that mess of a 4-month miscarriage!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

D&C

Just when I said it was over, I was proven wrong.  We thought that a negative hCG beta test would say that our miscarriage had ended.  However, when an ultrasound was performed back on Friday, March 13…ugh, the date…it was found that there were still remnants of the miscarriage lingering in my uterus.  A week later, our doctor did one more check to make sure it was still intact.  Indeed, it was.  Our doctor did not feel comfortable leaving it there to see if it would remove itself, so we scheduled a hysteroscopy…or at least I thought.  I found out this morning that we will actually be having a D&C.  After all of this and we are back to where we started in December.
 
(A D&C is a surgery that is performed after a miscarriage and for other reasons.  Todd and I had chosen not to have it for fear that it might damage my uterus.  We were hoping the entire miscarriage would pass naturally.) 

I’m not worried.  I don’t believe my faithful companion is worried, either.  We are both just ready to have this completed. 

Tomorrow is the day.  This surgery is in God’s hands.  I know that scarring of my uterus is a possibility, but I’m not letting myself get worked up about it.  I realize that worrying about it will only take away from my sheer enjoyment of looking forward to anesthesia.  Oh, how I love anesthesia.  Honestly, after all of the worrying to which I’m accustomed, I’m not sure why I’m quite this calm.  I am, though.  The promise of a deep nap must be calming my fears.

We hadn’t spoken much about this until last week because we were letting it not rule our lives.  Now, it’s here.  In 24 hours, it will be gone.  Then, we can return to our hiatus from IVF.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Worrier on Board

I am a worrier.  Did you know?  If you have met me or talked to me much, you’re sarcastically saying, “Really?  I never noticed.”  The thing is, I actually worry that I worry too much.  Follow me?  I know, it’s confusing.  Living in my brain can be a real pain at times.

In all reality, though, I’m tired of worrying.  I’m working on it.  However, just as I think I have started to figure out how to control my worries, another worry pops into my mind, and I start to worry that I will never be able to stop worrying.  Still following me?

My devotional the other night was all about worry and how God commands us not to worry.  It stated that even if killing were not illegal, you wouldn’t do it because God commanded you not to.  So why do we worry even after He says it’s wrong?!  I don’t know.  I worry about that, too.  J
Now, I’m about to tell you some of my deepest, darkest worries.  However, you should also remember that God commands us not to judge one another.  You’re going to need to remember that because some of these are a doozy, I’m afraid.  Some of these, I haven’t told to anyone but Todd and our therapist.  I’m putting them out there because I’m ready to let go of them, and I’m hoping that someone might feel comforted to know they aren’t the only one with these thoughts.

Deep breath…you’re about to step into the inner-workings of my brain. 

I worry that I will never get to be a mother. 

I worry that going through with another cycle will be a waste of time, money, emotions, and pain.  I worry about causing my closest friends and family more pain by them having to watch me have another failure.  What if all of the eggs I have left are bad?  What if I’m not relaxing enough?  What if my diet is killing my chances?  What if I’m not taking the right supplements?  What if I’m missing something completely that I should be doing?

I worry that Todd will regret having children in his 40’s since his first 3 are just over 4 years from graduating high school.  I realize this is his decision, and he has reassured me time and time again that he wants to have more kids.  However, it’s still a thought in my head.

I worry that I am putting too much hope on finding happiness and peace once we do get a baby.  I keep thinking that if we can just get pregnant and to the second trimester, everything will start to be rainbows and sunflowers.  That kind of expectation can be too much to put on a circumstance.  Plus, what happened to being content with what you have and where you are?

I worry that we missed our prime time to have a baby.  What if I don’t actually like being an older parent?  What if our child doesn’t like having older parents?

I worry that we will never get to experience and appreciate grandkids.

I worry that someday I will get to have a child, and I will forget what it’s like to be infertile.  I will be so grateful when I can go five minutes without thinking about infertility.  However, I hope that I can always empathize with those that are still on this journey.  I still want to be an advocate for infertiles, and I want to never downplay the sorrow they are experiencing.  My friend, Caroline, sent me a great post the other day that reminded me of this Bible verse:
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”
~John 16:21

I do hope to forget the pain of childbirth, but I hope to always remember the agony of infertility.  I'm not a sadist; I just want to be able to remain empathetic for those that are still on the journey.

I worry about things others will say.  I worry that if I try to open up to a person, they will trivialize my pain and cause me more anguish.  This happens on a regular basis.  I know this makes people think that it’s probably better that they just not talk to me about infertility for fear that they might say something wrong.  However, avoiding the subject makes me feel even more uncomfortable.  I feel like people get tired of hearing about our infertility.  I feel like they think something is wrong with us.  I feel like I’m the one making this relationship more awkward.  I feel like they look at me and think how easy it would be to solve my problems if I would just take their advice.  I realize this makes the conversation difficult, but I promise this situation isn’t easy for me, either.

I worry that we will only be able to have one child.  I have always wanted my children to have siblings.  What if they grow-up to be self-centered because they were the only child in our house?  What if they are lonely as adults when they have to deal with their ailing parents?  What if they don’t have fond memories of childhood because they are lacking the interaction of siblings?  What if they grow-up to dislike us, and we don’t have a healthy relationship with them or their children?  What if we are able to give them a sibling, and the two of them end up hating each other?

I worry that we will never be able to afford to retire.  Selfish?  Yes.  Realistic in many infertiles’ minds?  Yes, and I know that for a fact.  Several of my friends play the game of what they could or couldn’t do with all of the money we spend on treatments.  You start playing mind games when you think you may never have children.  You start trying to find ways to be happy with a childless life.  Then, you start to wonder if maybe that is the better way for you to go.  This makes you feel like a terrible person for even thinking it.

This is my most vulnerable of all of the worries.  If I do get to be a mother, I worry that it won’t be to a biological child of mine and Todd’s, and I’ll always feel like I was given a consolation prize.  I realize this one probably sounds the worst.  (I’m taking a chance on putting this out here, so don’t knock me.)  Now, I have friends that have used or will use egg/sperm/embryo donors.  Of those that have successfully used donors, I have only heard them say they were elated to be having this baby and felt like the one and only mother/father in the world to this child.  However, when I think about getting pregnant using an egg donor, I can imagine people coming up to me and saying, “I knew it would happen for you” or “Don’t you wish you had just done this from the beginning?” or whatever.  I can just imagine them being so happy for me and my pregnancy and completely forgetting everything we went through to get there as if it never happened.  Then, I see myself and know that what I’m truly feeling is, “Yes, I’m happy to be pregnant, but I still wish it was with my/his/our DNA.  And please, don’t forget how far we have come to have this child.”  That causes me to worry that I will feel even more alone in one of the happiest moments of my life.
I have been told that when your child is born, you start to worry about them, and it doesn’t stop for the rest of your life.  For me, I feel like I started worrying about a child years ago that isn’t even conceived.  Mothers of newborns spend every waking moment thinking about the welfare of their new baby.  I spend every waking moment thinking about the welfare of a baby that may never exist.

Seriously, I’m aware how I have zero control over most of these issues, if not all of them.  I realize how ridiculous they sound, but as my therapist says, "Pain has no logic."  I’m aware that my hormones are still really out of whack, exacerbating the affliction of it all (more to come on that later).  I’m also aware that worrying does me no good.  I’m aware that worrying will only lead to stress, which is bad for my cycles, my wrinkles, my sex life, my weight, my anxiety, my acne…shall I continue? 

Most importantly, I’m aware that I should be putting all of these worries into God’s hands.  That’s really why I wrote this post.  If I put it all down in writing, I feel like I can imagine the physical process of letting it go into His control.

Therefore, as I hit “Publish” on this entry, I will take a deep breath, say a prayer, and give these worries over to God.
And tomorrow, when one of them enters my head, again, maybe I’ll remember more quickly that I already let go of that worry and not waste any more time on it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Infertile Myrtles

I realize how long it has been since I have blogged.  It's kind of been a busy month.  I have a few things to update about, but I'm trying to decide how to say it all.

For now, I have a story about a group of my favorite ladies...
 
Next month marks the first anniversary of the start of our Infertile Myrtles support group.  As I sat at our meeting last night, I began thinking about how far we have come in the last 11 months as a group.  We were 7 strong in the middle of Panera, and we were quite a force to be reckoned with last night.  Many of the women were meeting each other for the first time.

As I looked around the table, I began to think about the dangerously diverse personalities seated there together.  We had the brains, the thoughtful one, the prayer warrior, the inquisitive one, the quiet humor, the realist, and the listener.  This may not seem dangerously diverse, but it had the potential to be.  As some of the women occasionally broke off into private conversations, I cringed, wondering how those two would get along in a one-on-one discussion. 

To my surprise, it was one of the best groups we have possibly had.  So many women.  So many stories to tell.  So many questions to ask and answer.  And it just gelled.

That’s when I thought about how broken we all were.  So much pain surrounded that table.  We were all such different women, but our lives all had the same goal at this time.  That’s what made our differences unimportant last night.  And it dawned on me that in that moment, the devil was trying to knock each of us down.  And right there, in the middle of Panera and in the presence of God, 7 dangerously diverse women found a way to lift each other up.

After a particularly difficult day, my soul needed to see that last night.  I thank God for each of these women and their strength to come forward and seek help.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Public Service Announcement

I have been a terrible blogger lately.  I’ve been kind of lost on what to say.  Today will be a little long, and I apologize.

This is a Public Service Announcement.  It is intended to inform you of the experience we had with a natural miscarriage.  In no way do I think that this would happen for every person that chooses a natural miscarriage, obviously.  However, if you are faced with the decision of a natural miscarriage, surgical D&C, or chemical D&C, maybe you should have a little more information.
·         December 15 – We were told that we had a 90% chance of having a miscarriage.
·         December 19 – We were told we were definitely having a miscarriage. 
o   At that point, Dr. McKinney informed us that we had three options:  natural miscarriage, surgical D&C, or chemical D&C.  At the point we were at in the pregnancy, the natural miscarriage would start within a few days or up to 4 weeks.  However, we would not run the risk of scarring that a surgical D&C can cause, and we would not have to put any additional drugs into my body.  Todd and I agreed the natural miscarriage sounded better.
·         January 7 – Natural miscarriage began.
·         January 8 – I began to regret our decision. 
o   I awoke around 3 in the morning with cramps bad enough to wake me.  Todd gave me some medicine, and with the help of the heating pad, I feel back asleep.  That morning, Todd and I had the opportunity to attend a staff meeting at church.  I was so excited to get invited.  When I awoke, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to make it.  The pain was becoming tremendous.  I started to get ready, and just before we were supposed to leave, I decided I couldn’t make it.  This time, I had Todd give me the good stuff (left over from a surgery), and I went back to bed for the entire day.
o   At that point, we started over with the emotional distress.  Our therapist told us later that we were basically back at day 1.  We began to mourn the loss of our pregnancy on December 15.  Then, we began to mourn the loss again on January 8.  This was definitely the hardest section of this entire infertility journey that we have encountered.
·         January 19 – I went in for a blood draw.
o   They were checking to make sure my hCG levels had gone to zero.  hCG is a hormone that your body naturally secretes when you’re pregnant.  Unfortunately, mine was still at 207.  This told us and Dr. McKinney that my body was not completing the miscarriage naturally.  Ugh.
·         January 26 – We had another blood draw and ultrasound.  “Hello, Wandy.  Oh, how I have not missed you.”
o   My hCG was now at 78.2.  Dr. McKinney could see that I still had a pocket of fluid in my uterus that was measuring less than 2cm.  However, that had to leave my body before we could leave this dreadful experience behind us.
o   Dr. McKinney recommended we now try a chemical D&C.  Since we felt we had no other choice, we conceded.
o   At this appointment, she also informed us that she had been worried that I might have been building a large amount of blood in my uterus that at any time could have caused me to hemorrhage.  She has received calls from husbands in the middle of the night saying to meet them at the hospital because an ambulance was taking his wife there.  That’s a scary thought.  Luckily, my body was not retaining that much fluid, though.
·         January 27 – I took my medicine for my chemical D&C.
·         February 3 – We had another blood draw and ultrasound.
o   My hCG was at 34.5.  I was getting really tired of this miscarriage.
·         February 9 – The flow from my miscarriage increased considerably. 
o   I realized there was not quite an end in sight.  I spoke to my nurse over the next two days, and she informed me that I was still having the miscarriage and not to worry about it.  We decided to enjoy my birthday and our vacation without focusing on how we were heading into the sixth week of having a flow from this miscarriage.  I spent a few days in the dumps over this.
·         February 14 – The bleeding stopped on the way to vacation. 
o   That could have meant that my miscarriage was finally over.  It might have meant something different.  We will never really know.
·         March 3 – We had our final blood draw.
o   My hCG was finally negative.  It was time to move on from this chapter.  Now, we just wait for my period to start, which can take up to 6 weeks.

All of this is to say that I would ask questions before agreeing to a natural miscarriage.  If I could go back, I would have quickly asked for a surgical D&C to decrease the time Todd and I both had pain and suffering.  For over 10 weeks, Todd and I knew we were having a miscarriage.  The emotional pain of that is not easy to describe, but it tore us down.  The sadness was awful.  I had a period for 5 ½ weeks.  The physical pain caused me to miss out on things in my life.  I wouldn’t choose this option, again.  However, I realize my experience is special to me.  Not everyone would react like this.

However, as I said in the beginning, I just wanted to tell our story, so you could be educated.  Consider yourselves informed.

As of this day, Todd and I are both doing much better emotionally.  We are ready to move onto the next step in this journey.  We do not know what that step will be.  We are concentrating on praying about the future and letting God lead us in His direction.