Wednesday, March 31, 2010

greener grass

Today, I learned a harsh lesson.

I had to travel off-site for work, to observe a classroom of students. I am an editor for a company who not only publishes educational material for at-risk learners, but also teaches the programs they need to get back on their feet, obtain their GED certificate or high school diploma, and become a successful employee.

The class was at the National Guard center, and I knew a lot of the people in the course would be pursuing a career in the military. I imagined there would be a couple of females.

I didn't imagine one would be pregnant. Or that the only empty seat in the room would be sitting next to her.

Today, I judged.

I don't remember her name. Because I was too busy judging her and eying her bulging belly as she politely shook my hand. She was no older than 18. "Too young to be having unprotected, careless sex," I thought. I rolled my eyes as she gently pulled up her shirt and rubbed her belly, and asked the instructor if she could use the restroom.

Today, for once, I felt compassion instead of anger and hate.

She is the oldest of 12 children, the program director told me. She doesn't have to be in this course. It isn't a requirement of a school or correctional facility. She applied to be there. She doesn't have her own transportation. So she wakes up early every morning to take the bus. The bus drops her off nearly a mile away, and she walks--to and from the bus stop, rain or shine--to be at class early. While the other students broke for lunch, she took a sip of her water and put her head down on the desk to nap. She didn't have lunch. Her mother is on food stamps, yet her oldest daughter, carrying a child, is not important enough for her to feed. When it was her turn to tell the class what her career goals were, she said they were to obtain her GED certification and enroll in school to go into the medical field. The instructor told her that maybe becoming a nail technician was more realistic. She quietly nodded and stared at her paper.

I wanted to scream, "You can be whatever you want to be!" I wanted her to know that her mistakes shouldn't have to define her. I wanted her to know that she was already on the right path. I wanted to let her know that she could stop the cycle. I wanted to let her know that she should never give up hope. That the moment you give up hope, that's when your dreams never come true.

Today, for a moment, I forgot my own struggle and cried for hers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

that train keeps a-rollin'

Over the past few days, I have received questions and comments from family and friends as to why I’m going back to school. This is frustrating for me.

If there is one truly valuable thing I've learned over the past 22 months, it's not to put your life on hold. And this was only confirmed for me last week after my negative biopsy results.

We did that at the beginning. We planned our lives around trying to have a baby. We planned everything on a child that never once existed. We saved as much as possible, hoping to have the best possible nursery for that child to sleep in. Hoping to build an education fund. Hoping to pay for child care. Planning and planning and hoping and hoping for a baby that was supposed to be here any day.

And twenty-two months later? No baby.

My personal goal this year was that I would no longer let infertility run my life.

So we bought a house. We booked a big vacation. Joey is going to continue going to school for his undergraduate degree, as planned, while working full time. And now I am going back to school for my master's degree, while working full time. We will still continue with fertility treatments.

This is not being irresponsible or reckless. This is living life. I don't feel like I have to justify this with anyone, nor do I have to lay out the details of our plan to everyone.

We have spent the last twenty-two months working hard for a miracle we have yet to witness. I am TIRED of pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into a baby that, so far, only lives within my heart. For once, I want to do something for me. Something that I enjoy and from which I know I will see the benefits. This is not about proving a point or trying to push myself. This is about doing what I want to do and doing it because I know I can.

Joey told me last night, "I have never seen you not accomplish something you've put your mind to."

And he's right.

Monday, March 29, 2010

we laughed until we cried

There are about a dozen things I want to write about: why AF hasn’t shown, despite the cramps?, why I want her to wait until the weekend to show (even though it would make her so late and push off my upcoming IUI another week), work drama, going back to school, house stuff, and upcoming baby “events” that are already creating nightmares and/or sleepless nights.

But I can’t bring myself to write about all of them now. I don’t have the time or the energy to go through all of these things--all of which, with the exception of the house and school, would only dig up negative energy.

Instead, I’ll write about a song. This Sunday, we started “seriously” working on the house, meaning my FIL and Joey started to paint. While working, my FIL likes to listen to the radio. Country is his genre of choice. I have nothing against country music (I DID live in Nashville for two years) but I just don’t listen to it that often. I know the big names and the big songs, but that’s about it.

One particular song caught my attention. It was just a brief reference, so small I didn’t think I heard it at first, to infertility. After I regained my composure in the bathroom, I looked up the lyrics and knew immediately I wanted to share them with all of you. (Please forgive me if I’m really late with this song . . . which I know I am.)

Laughed Until We Cried by Jason Aldean

Goin’ through my closet the other day
I found an old yearbook
Flipped right to the page of that senior trip
Down there on that Panama strip
We all started yellin’ when we smelled the beach
Couldn't wait to try our fake I.D.’s
We only had a few days
And a whole lot of memories to make

Oh man we were livin’
Didn't waste one minute
We talked and drank and danced and said goodbye
We laughed until we cried

This past year my family
Was sittin’ cross-legged 'round the Christmas tree
Listenin’ to granddad
We all knew it probably be his last
He was crackin’ jokes and we were takin’ turns
Tellin’ stories ‘bout fishin’ or lessons learned
Out on the porch with him
We all felt like kids again

Oh man we were livin
Sittin' there reminiscin'
We sang and talked and traveled back in time
We laughed until we cried

It's like the best days under the sun
Every emotion rolled into one
A little of this a little of that
Kinda happy kinda sad

Just the other night the baby was cryin’
So I got out of bed rocked her awhile
And I held her tight
And I told her it would be all right
And my mind went back to a few years ago
When we tried so long
We almost gave up hope
And I remember you
Comin' in and tellin’ me the news

Oh man we were livin’
Goin’ crazy in the kitchen
We danced and screamed and held each other tight
We laughed until we cried

Friday, March 26, 2010

bigger and better things

I just don't know what I would do without all of you. Thank you all so much for being there for me during the two- (almost three-) month saga of the lump. It wasn't fun, but ultimately it had a good outcome and that's all that matters. The follow-up plan from my surgeon was minimal: continue doing self exams and scheduling regular appointment with my gyn. If another lump appears, they may consider doing regular mammograms, but since I'm so young and the lump didn't show up on the mammo anyway, they aren't going to require me to do any of that just yet.

And now my mind can shift back to my focus of having a baby. I can stop wondering whether or not I'm going to be able to continue treatments and start getting myself mentally prepped for next cycle and IUI#3. AF still is showing no signs of her arrival, which is a little frustrating. I'd really like her to arrive today or Sunday, for a number of scheduling reasons, but I fear that's being too picky.

Tonight I am going to dinner with a group of good friends. In a way, it will be my "celebration" of yesterday's good news. The rest of the weekend will be spent getting work done at the new place. This will be the first full weekend of work. I promise to post pictures of our progress. And I will also be signing up to take the GRE. Yes, you read that right. I'm going to grad school. Or I'm at least going to try. Library science has been an interest of mine for a while and one of the major universities here in Florida (coincidentally, my alma mater's biggest rival) offers a 100% online program. As long as we can get financial aid to cover the full cost, I'll be starting in the fall. I am going to try and take two courses a semester, but with working full time and getting pregnant (positive energy, positive energy), there may be semesters when I can only take one course at a time. So I'm not sure if I'm stupid or just certifiably nuts, but I think if I don't do it now, I'm never going to do it. Joey and I will be holding many study sessions together this fall!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the results are in

Benign parenchyma with fibrosis.

I have no idea what words #2 and #4 mean. But the only word that matters is #1.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

march (on) madness

Thank you to whoever submitted the news about my lumpectomy to LFCA and to those who stopped by to offer their support. Tomorrow at 10:45 is my appointment to receive the biopsy results. I'll post as soon as I know.

Now, for all things infertility, let's rewind to yesterday afternoon: My consult/treatment plan appointment.

First, my doctor kindly removed the internal stitch from my belly button. Thank. God. I was tired of looking at it.

Then we discussed the plan. His clinic has better success rates with Femara than Clomid, which I already knew. He thinks that, given my decent response to Clomid, Femara is the best place to start. So for next cycle (cycle #24... two years...), we will be doing Femara + trigger + IUI#3. If for some reason I don't respond well, we'll do a different protocol for the following cycle: Femara + minimal injects, which are injects on days 5, 7, and 9 of my cycle + trigger + IUI#3 (previous cycle's IUI will have been cancelled due to poor response).

If all goes well, we'll do 3 IUIs--putting my total at 5. However, if Joey's numbers are still bad after IUI#4, we may skip the last IUI and move to IVF w/ICSI. We may also try a cycle of freezing a sample or two of Joey's sperm ahead of an IUI so we have more sperm to work with, or we may try a double or back-to-back IUI. This will all just depend on how the first cycle goes and what his numbers look like. He's less concerned about count, and more concerned about motility.

Cost. I was upfront with him: this was my biggest concern. I wanted a baby and would be willing to spend a ton of money on one, if I actually had the money. But it looks like we have options. They do a shared embryo program, where we give half of our embryos to another couple and half of the cost of our cycle is covered. They also offer free meds to couples who qualify financially (we should) and other financing options (fertility credit cards, loans, and installment payments on a case-by-case basis). As Joey said last night, we would make it work, somehow and someway. For now, we'll do our best to be diligent with money and save as much as possible just in case. And, as I tweeted yesterday, I was really proud of myself: I didn't vomit, crap my pants, break out in hives, rip my hair out, scream, or cry at my doctor's mention of IVF.

So that's it. If all goes to plan, we'll have IUIs in April, May, and June. And if AF gets her shit together and she arrives on time, all three IUIs could fall on the weekend. So cross your fingers that the stars align for me, because that would be three less days I would need to take off from work!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

lost and lopsided

I sort of expected to wake up from the lumpectomy similar to how I woke up from my lap. Drowsy, out of it, but receiving generally good news from my doc. Instead, I woke up crying my eyes out, scratching my face (both bad reactions from the anesthesia) and no real news to report. We know as much as we knew before: it's not a clogged milk duct and, much to my dismay, not a cyst. I really wanted it to be a cyst. Everyone was sure that's what it was, so that's what I hung on to. They are biopsying the tissue and my doc will have the results by Wednesday afternoon. I have to call first thing Monday morning to make an appointment for Thursday to get my results.

My right boob is now smaller than my right, and I have an ugly incision halfway around my nipple. As my husband said, good thing I'm not single. I'd have to make up some outrageous story about getting in a knife fight with a sorority girl in college. They gave me Darvocets again for pain, even though I specifically told them they 1) aren't strong enough, 2) make me constipated, and 3) cause me not to sleep. So on day two, I am cranky as hell, tired, constipated, and extremely sore. I also can't shower until later today, so you can add "incredibly dirty and greasy" to the mix.

I wish I had a brighter post to write, but I just don't have it in me right now. I'm not happy or cheery. I just am sort of at a loss for my emotions. The plus side is that my little brother is home from college and he's going to drive me around in my drug-induced stupor today. He's taking me to get New Moon on DVD and then we are going by to see the new place (Joey's there already measuring the walls so his dad can order paint and moving stuff from our storage unit into the garage).

I'll try my best to get caught up on everyone's blogs tomorrow. I just wanted to say thank you all so much for the tweets, texts, love, and prayers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the meaning of family

Lately--and I don't know if it's because I'm infertile or this is actually happening--it seems as if society and the media are very specific about the meaning of family. You get married, you buy a home, and then you start a family. But wait, weren't you a family before?

We all know that infertility makes us feel like less of a man or a woman. If you are a woman and you never produce children, you are barren. When you are older, you are a spinster. The crazy cat or dog lady. The mean old witch who yells at the neighborhood children to "get out of the flower bed" because, really, that's all you have left. If you are a man and you never father children, you will have no one to pass your genes onto. Your last name will not live on, at least not through your own doing.

But infertility also makes you feel like less of a family. The rules set forth by society draw a clear line: If you are childless, you are likely never going to be called a family. In order to complete that circle, you need to be a married man and woman who have procreated to create their own child.

You never see commercials referring to see child-free couples as a family. Or gay and lesbian couples. Or couples who try for years to have a baby and who end up adopting after several failed IVF cycles. These are not happy or "normal" stories, therefore they aren't marketable to the general public. Yet, these people live underneath the same roof. They share love, happiness, money, memories, and an everlasting bond.

What makes them so different?

What makes us so different?

Monday, March 15, 2010


If you haven't seen the movie Up, you may want to skip this post. I don't want to ruin the plot for you. But do watch this movie (with your partner) and keep a box of tissues handy. You'll need them.

As I watched Up for the first time on Friday night, I never saw animated characters. I saw Joey and me. I was Ellie--the spunky, redheaded girl looking for fun and adventure. Joey was Carl--the quiet, dark-haired, lovable boy who I convinced to tag along for the ride. Two innocent kids who grew up, fell in love, got married, and who one day hoped to build a home together (in Ellie and Carl's case, on the edge of Paradise Falls in South America).

After the wedding scene, I smiled as Ellie and Carl lay together on a blanket outside, staring at the clouds and visions of happy babies. I sat quiet and still as they painted a nursery together and looked lovingly into each other's eyes. And tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched Ellie sob, face in hands, in her doctor's office, with Carl standing close behind her.

The scene that touched me the most was after this, when Ellie is sitting outside in a chair. Her eyes are closed and the breeze is blowing softly through her hair. Everything else is motionless, reflecting the immense pain that exists within Ellie's heart and is written on her face. It was the pain of her loss, but also the pain that she would never become a mother.

When this scene ended, I thought, "Well, that's it. I made it through the toughest part of the movie." After all, those who watched it said the film only briefly touched on the topic. But I saw something different. I saw infertility woven through the entire storyline: in the way Carl speaks to Ellie, in the way he is determined to fulfill a promise to her made so many years ago, in the way he is so bitter and cold to those around him, and in the way he looks at Russell as Russell describes the absence of his father.

Slowly, Carl's pain and anger begin to fade as he learns that the adventure Ellie had treasured most was not their missed trip to South America . . . it was their life adventure. It was everything they had experienced--the good times and the bad. It was truly the life of every infertile couple who never bears children: two people who love each other very much and who are unable to add to their family. But they are a family. They have fun and adventure, and Carl fulfills their dream of a house in Paradise Falls.

I know I will never get a chance to thank the people at Pixar personally, but I could not appreciate them more. For once, someone gets it. Someone has portrayed infertility with sensitivity and care. Someone understands what it's like to lose a child or be told you can never have a baby. Someone understands how bitter and pain-filled infertility makes a person. Someone understands how angry it makes you to watch as other parents do not value their children.

It's animated, but it's real. It's a sad, but beautiful story. It's the story of all of us who struggle to have children, who lose children, who live child free not by choice, but because we are unable to conceive.

It's our story.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

no strings attached

Last night, the last of my scab fell off of the incision in my belly button. After it fell off, I noticed what I thought was a piece of dry skin left behind. I tried to take it off, but I couldn't get a good grip on it. So I brought out the tweezers. That's when I realized that the piece of my "dry skin" was fraying at the end. Kind of like a . . .

Holy s*!&. A string was coming out of my belly button. But not just any string. It was my internal stitches.

After freaking out, tweeting, sending e-mails, texting, leaving messages with two of my family members who are RNs, consulting Dr. Google, and staring at it for a while, I finally decided to call and leave a message with the on-call nurse. She promptly paged the on-call doc and told me someone would call me soon. About 15 minutes later, the doc returned my call. Turns out that this happens all of the time. Apparently my body is just rejecting the stitches and this is it pushing the stitches back out. She said it would fall out on it's own or be ready to pull out in two weeks.

So for the next two weeks, I will have a string coming out of my belly button. Just one more sign that I am not normal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

one monkey down, two to go

It looks like things are coming together and we are about to get one huge monkey off of our backs: buying a house! Our loan officer called me at the office about an hour ago with good news. The title work is in and we can close next week. We'll be closing on Thursday, March 18, just one day before my surgery. I am so excited that this is finally coming to an end. I realize that we still have a few weeks of work to do on the house, so we won't actually be living there until mid April, but this is one less thing I have to worry about right now.

In just eight days, we will be homeowners. In nine, I'll have this mysterious lump out of my body. And sometime within the next nine months, I will be pregnant.

(Trying to keep up that positivity here . . .)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

do you know what you're fighting for?

Thank you all so much for the advice and encouragement. I haven't quite decided what we will do about the choice in medications yet. Joey and I didn't really have a chance to talk about it last night. I have a direction I am leaning toward, but my final decision probably won't come until after we meet with the doctor.

We did have a chance to talk about IVF. We came up with a loose plan in case things get to that point. But for right now, we are going to stick with doing 3 IUIs before we move on. It makes more sense for us financially and my doctor said he "wasn't discouraged." He said "it's just a matter of getting the best possible sperm up to meet your egg(s)." So there we go. Maybe the IUIs will work. If they won't, we'll deal with it when we get there, but at least we have an idea of how we can pull some money together to pay for it.

One way or another, we will conceive a child in 2010. This is my goal. I've never been a person who gives up easily or throws in the towel. When I see something I want, I go after it. I am determined to make this happen. I cleaned the dog shit off of my new shoes, and they are still fabulous. Sometimes, you just need to step back and regroup to make things look bright again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

up next: IUI #3

I should have known when I stepped in dog shit this morning that today was not going to be a good day. While cleaning off my nice, new, beige satin heels in the waiting room of the RE's office, I thought, "The results of the SA aren't going to be good."

And they weren't.

The overall count was up to 98 million, but there were still none moving rapidly and only 6% were normal morphology.

So it's official. My mild endo is an obstacle, but MFI is our definitive diagnosis. In a way, it's good to have a firm answer about why things aren't working.

Where do we go from here? Well, we're dumping the male fertility vitamins. His counts were lower without them, but his morphology and motility weren't nearly this bad. I'd rather have less sperm to work with and have them be higher quality.

We need to go back in for another consult after my lumpectomy, and then we'll do IUI #3 next cycle, which will probably fall on the week of my 25th birthday. I have a choice of using Femara or injectables. Thoughts? Has anyone used both and preferred one over the other?

He's giving us the option on the number of IUIs we do before moving on to IVF, but we'll probably stick with 3. This will make 5 IUIs total: 2 with Clomid and 3 with some other form of medication.

I know what most of you will say. "Don't focus on IVF." But part of me has to. If we have any hope of doing IVF, we will need to look into financial options so that we aren't completely blindsided with the cost if that's what has to end up happening.

How does the average person afford IVF? And still have money left over to HAVE a baby?

We CANNOT afford IVF right now. As much as I would love to jump straight to IVF and increase our odds, it can't happen. Our insurance covers no part of it and we do not live in a state that requires mandatory coverage.

This is never how I saw my life. My heels stained in dog shit. My eyes puffy from wanting to cry but not having the energy (and thinking "Why the hell should I cry over this? It's nothing new"). My mind adding numbers in my head to see when we'll have an extra $10,000 laying around.

Bring on the baby. This IUI has to work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

when you wish upon a star

Infertility has stripped away the last of my innocence. But if I had to pinpoint a time when I lost my first piece of it, I was probably about ten years old.

As a child, I was a dreamer. I was the little girl who believed in fairy tales. I would watch old shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie hoping that, someday, I would be able to wiggle the tip of my nose or rub a lamp and make magical things happen. Our VHS cabinet was stocked with every Disney movie that involved princesses. At age seven, on my first memorable trip to the Magic Kingdom, I remember thinking that I could be a princess someday, too, and a wave of my wand would make everything okay.

One morning, when I was ten years old, I awoke to a surprise. The night before, I had placed a tooth under my pillow in hopes that the Tooth Fairy would leave me 50 cents. It was a "big" tooth and I knew that the Tooth Fairy would give me an extra quarter for losing a tooth of this size (as she had in the past). But this time, I had forgotten to tell my parents about this lost tooth. So when I peeked under my pillow to check out my fortune, it took me a minute to process the fact that my tooth was still there--wrapped in a tissue, exactly as I'd left it.

I promptly marched downstairs into the kitchen where my mom was making breakfast. I demanded to know why the Tooth Fairy didn't bring me money for my tooth. Was this tooth not good enough? Did she forget about me? Did she just not get the message?

When she broke the news that it was all make believe, along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I cried. I felt so betrayed. How could my parents do this to me? How could they let me believe that there was a pot of gold waiting at the end of every rainbow? How could they let me believe that when I wished upon a star, all of my dreams would come true?

I relive that day at the end of every failed cycle and at the end of every failed cycle of every IFer who I follow on this journey. I wish I still believed in wishes; that sense of joy I felt when I thought that anything could happen and a wave of a wand could make the world right again. More than anything, I want to go back to the day where I stood in front of the television and practiced wiggling my nose like Samantha. If I could only wiggle it just right, I would be able to turn all of my dreams into reality. I want to go back to the day when I was a ten-year-old girl, wrapping her tooth in a napkin and quietly placing it under her pillow--her mind still full of hopes and dreams and that innocent smile still on her face.

Instead, I forever live in the morning after. Tears streaming down my face as my mom tried to convince me that dreams could still come true, but secretly knowing things would never, ever be the same.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

i'd like some cheese with my whine

In less than an hour, Joey will be going in for his third (and hopefully final) SA. I'm trying to stay positive and think that, this time, the numbers will be better. My hope is that they will have the results for me on Monday at my post-op appointment, but we'll see. At this point, I've accepted the fact that things usually don't go easily for us or happen how we plan them.

Evidence of this: home buying. Our realtor and loan officer are practically pulling teeth trying to get the bank to give them the closing day. They had planned on March 19, since that's the last possible day the contract will allow, but that is the day that my lumpectomy is now scheduled for. So we've thrown them for a loop and apparently closing one day earlier than that is a huge inconvenience or something.

(You can't see me, but I'm rolling my eyes.)

Generally, I am feeling better. My "issues" from my last post are still not 100% resolved. I'm hoping it works itself out so I don't need to take another one of those pills. Or drink more prune juice. NASTY. I'm sorer than usual today. Not sure if that's from almost a week of wearing dress pants, riding in the car, or something else. But the bleeding has calmed down, which is great considering I thought I was going to have to start wearing Depends in about a week.

I'm emotional. I'm tired. My body aches. And I just wish today was Friday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

let's talk about . . .

I'm going to write about something, um, uncomfortable.

Something that's embarrassing.

Something that bloggers don't normally write about.

I'm going to write about . . .


Yes, poop. BMs. You know, number 2. The thing we all do every day and take for granted. And the thing that I've struggled with the most during my recovery. Don't keep reading if you don't want to know about my poop saga.

Leading up to the surgery I really tried to "will" myself to go so I would have empty bowels during the lap. But that didn't happen. I think I put too much pressure on myself because I didn't go at all on Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday. So by Saturday, I was eating stool softeners like candy. I managed to eek out a little on Saturday morning. By Sunday, I wanted to die. After getting out of the shower on Sunday night, I began experiencing the worst pains in my entire life in my bowels.

The pains made me shaky. They gave me the chills. I was covered in sweat. I felt so full, I wanted to vomit. I did finally go, but I knew I didn't want to go through that feeling ever again. So, ladies and gentlemen, my dear husband went to Walgreens and picked up a gift for me on the way home from work yesterday: laxatives.

Thankfully, he bought me the pill version so I wouldn't have to eat any nasty chocolates.

Now I've never taken a laxative in my life. And I had never planned on it. But I knew I needed something so I wouldn't be screaming in agony again. So I took one before bed. Oh. my. God. That's all it took I can *finally* go normally! My tummy feels wonderful this afternoon. Amazing, even. Yeah, I'm still sore. And yeah, I'm still bleeding. But at least I can go to the bathroom like a normal human being.

I doubt I'll even use the 23 other pills sitting in my cabinet, but it was worth the entire box.

Ahhhhh, the joys of infertility.