Wednesday, June 30, 2010

back on track

AF arrived this morning--four days late. She brought along severe nausea, an upset stomach, and some intense cramping, all of which I haven't seen since prior to my laparoscopy. Crazy Katie would be concerned about the possibility of the endo returning and fretting about another surgery. Calm Katie isn't thinking about this right now. I'll cross that bridge when we meet with the new clinic about IVF. For now, I'm hoping this sickness is only temporary for cycle day 1 and doesn't return next time around.

The bitch's arrival marks the beginning of cycle #27: 27 months of trying to have a baby. 27 months of my body still not doing what it's supposed to do. Some days I wake up and I think, "Wow, it feels like we started trying just yesterday. The last two years have really flown by." Then there are times when I sit and stare off into space, wondering if time really does move slower when you are infertile. You want something so badly and you wait so long for it that, occasionally, it seems like clock just stops. In a lot of ways, it's the same feeling you get at work on a Friday afternoon--watching the clock work it's way toward five with the rest of the week behind you, but knowing that you still have to come back on Monday and do everything over again. The only difference is the break in between doesn't make your eggs grow older or your sperm get slower.

I'm beginning to have reserved excitement about IVF, which confuses the hell out of my husband. He can't possibly understand why I would be excited about IVF. Clearly, when I use the word excitement, I don't mean it in the way you get excited about taking a vacation you've always dreamed about or buying a new house. I mean that I feel hope from this opportunity. Nothing else worked, and deep down inside I never thought it would. With IVF, I sense the possibility and I am starting to feel a little more confident. This is something reading Unsung Lullabies taught me: we need to feel this way before going into a new stage of treatment. We need to feel not like this is a necessary step or something we are doing because this is all that's left, but like it's something we CHOOSE to do and something we believe in. It's all part of acceptance.

The reason why I say reserved excitement is because part of me still holds out that last bit of hope that, while we are busy getting our finances in order for IVF, taking care of our new puppy, focusing on each other, going back to school, and bettering our bodies through exercise and acupuncture, we somehow become pregnant naturally. It's crazy to believe that feeling is still there after all of this time and all of the months of failure. Honestly, I didn't think I had any left in me.

But I'm happy I do.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

back from the (blogging) dead

Unfortunately, this won't be a real post. Well, it won't be a real post about infertility. Work is busy and home life is even busier, but I did want to share some of the details and updates about our time with Danica.

Danica is doing very well. Her first day/night (Sunday), she was extremely shy and nervous. She's 18 months old and has never lived in a home as an only dog. She was born and lived a majority of her life with a puppy-mill breeder before she and her brother were surrendered to the rescue organization, where she lives with her foster mom (and 7 other doxies) for one month. So, as you can imagine, she's very skittish around people, but comfortable around dogs--specifically other dachshunds--because she hasn't been around many humans. She's fine with us, but even a walk around the neighborhood with the kids out playing and cars driving by leaves her shaky. Luckily, she LOVES us, so we just need to work on socializing her with other people. It will come in time.

She's very adventurous outside when there aren't people around. Leash walking is another thing on our "to do" list, because when she sees something she takes off and she's lightning fast. Thank goodness we invested in a harness because with just a collar she's likely to snap her neck in half as fast as she moves!

The last big thing on our list is potty training. She's housebroken, but just not on our schedule yet. We're getting there. There's only been one accident in the house so far, which wasn't her fault. She even woke us up this morning to let us know she had to go out.

Despite her nervous habits, she's definitely a stubborn diva. Typical doxie! She nips a little bit, but she only does it to me for some reason but not Joey. It may be a female dominance thing. I'm not sure. She's also incredibly affectionate. She'll play for a little bit, but then she'll bolt over to where you are sitting and crawl all the way up on your neck, put her paws on your chest and face, and give you a million little kisses. She hardly barks, but does cry a little when she's in her kennel at night. It only lasts about 5 minutes or so, and then she settles in her bed to sleep. She's very well behaved.

I joke that I'm having puppy separation anxiety, but I am having a hard time leaving her during the day. If I'm like this leaving my dog, I can't imagine what I'm going to be like leaving a baby after maternity leave.

As soon as this week settles down, I promise I'll get back to discussing my uterus!

Friday, June 25, 2010

virus(es), darwin, and the phone call that changed everything

I am so sorry that I haven't been commenting the past couple of days. Due to an, uh, inappropriate virus on my computer at work, I've been unable to access Blogger for most of the day. I have no idea how I got such a virus on my computer. I promise I'll catch up on my reading and commenting this afternoon and weekend. Speaking of viruses, most of my evenings this week were spent drugged and on the couch (also why I am behind on blog reading). I'm feeling a lot better today than I have been all week. I finally got my prescriptions filled, so I hope that this thing clears up soon.

Reading the comments on my previous post has kept me busy, too. If you haven't checked them out yet, please do. I read each one of them as they came into my e-mail inbox and found myself wondering if I should send the link to the people who write those Darwin Award books. Perhaps they can do a "fertile people" version? Really, it's a train wreck. I didn't want to read anymore, but I couldn't help it. Some of you really deserve medals of honor for not killing these idiots. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of these quotes just yet. I think I'm still in shock over the word vomit people let escape from their mouths.

Before I go and get caught up on everyone's blogs and lives, I have an update of my own. Last night, Joey and I got a phone call from the foster mom at the dog rescue. After careful consideration, she decided to offer us the sister of the brother and sister pair and wanted to know if we would be agreeable to this situation. We talked it over and decided to tell her, "Yes!" So on Sunday, we will officially become a family of three when we bring home 18-month old Danica, a brindle miniature doxie. I will upload pictures as soon as we get her home on Sunday evening.

Thank you to everyone who supported us while we waited out the agency's decision. We need this puppy just as much as she needs us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

what did you say?

I've stated a couple of times in the past that I would love to compile a book titled Shit You Shouldn't Say to Infertile People. The book would consist of inappropriate responses and statements made by clueless friends, family members, and Facebookers.

Going along with this, I thought today's post could be written by all of us. Partly because I am still struggling with my mysterious sickness and partly because, with everything bad going on in our little community right now, I think we all need a chance to let out some of our anger and frustration .. . and maybe have a few laughs in between. So get out your memory bank and your boxing gloves:

What is/are the dumbest thing(s) someone ever said to you about infertility? And I'm not talking about "just relax." I'm talking the kind of thing that made you want to get in your car and run this person over with your vehicle. What did you say back to him or her? And what did you really wish you could say back--the response in your head that you could never seem to form into words?

I'm really interested in reading everyone's responses. I hope that bitching and moaning about stupid people will make for a brighter Wednesday afternoon.

[Don't forget: tomorrow is the last day to vote for RESOLVE's Hope Award for Best Blog (and for best book). Click here to cast your ballot.]

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

reckless abandon

I want to thank all of you for the comments on the post about the puppies. We are still waiting on the final word, which I am sure will be a no with the way our luck goes. After that, we are going to talk it over and see what the next step is. Obviously, we have no plans on staying with this agency. A lot of you suggested other agencies, and a few people have e-mailed me privately about puppies needing good homes. There are still plenty of options. Getting that e-mail kicked us while we were down. It was Father's Day. This is our first cycle after our last failed IUI. And yes, the doggy foster mom is well aware of our inability to have children. It's something I discussed with her at the very beginning.

The last few days have been a huge breaking (or turning?) point for us. Kelly had a great post the other day about playing by the rules and how it seems to get people nowhere--especially in the case of infertility. We all work so hard to achieve something and we either don't reach the goal or we do and then it's taken from us. I could relate so much to this post, because it's something Joey and I have talked about a lot lately. We've spent our lives and our relationship trying to do things responsibly. Some days, it feels like we have very little to show for it. We focus too much on doing the right thing instead of doing what makes us happy. We've followed the straight and narrow for so long, we don't know what it feels like to stray a little bit and do something impulsive.

Slowly, we are learning to let go of this focus. It's a work in progress and some days are better than others, but this break is teaching us to live again. We need to quit talking and dreaming about things. Instead, we need to do those things. I think this is what I am starting to love about the time off. No one is telling me I need to be at Dr. so-and-so's office at 7 a.m. No one is telling me "take this, don't do this, don't do that, but do this." At the acupuncturist on Saturday and at my doctor yesterday, it took me at least a minute to figure out what cycle day I was on (and even then I could only come up with an estimate). What began as a forced break now feels liberating. For the first time in two years, I feel free. This break doesn't mean we don't care. It doesn't mean we don't still hurt and deeply desire a child. It doesn't mean we are giving up.

This break is simply giving us a chance to take back control over our lives. Infertility is no longer at the wheel of this crazy car ride, and we are no longer taking the expressway. We're taking the scenic route and trying to enjoy the beauty of life before we reach our destination.

Monday, June 21, 2010

june ICLW

Welcome to my blog! If you are looking for my long, boring history with trying to have a baby and infertility, click here. The difference between now and April is that we are now down 4 IUIs, all negatives, and we are basically out of options other than IVF. Of course, like most couples, we don't typically keep an extra $15,000 sitting in our bank account to use for making babies in test tubes. So we are sitting out of fertility treatments until we come up with an extra stack of cash. For now, I'm going to acupuncture and taking traditional Chinese herbs. I'm really enjoying both and hope that Eastern medicine can accomplish what Western medicine has not.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling pretty defeated and down about our indefinite wait. Now I'm feeling better. Despite the fact that life seems to consistently throw us lemons, I've somehow found a way to pick myself up after getting pegged in the face with each one. Some lemons are larger and knock me down longer than others, but I just keep getting up. Like I always say, when life hands you lemons, just add tequila. And, in my case, lots of salt. So here are the latest lemons (and reasons why my ICLW post is coming so late in the day) and their tequila (the bright side):
  • Our garage door broke this morning. Joey went to take the trash out to the curb, and when he came back in and tried to shut the door, it wouldn't close. We tried everything: manually closing it, resetting the opener, resetting the breaker. Nada. Of course, we couldn't both leave for work with the door busted and people having access to the garage. (Even though I seriously doubt anyone would want our leftover paint, Wal-Mart Christmas tree, and Christmas decorations.) The tequila: we managed to get it fixed pretty easily and at no cost.
  • My car, which is getting older and which I drive nearly 1,000 miles per week, needs about $2,600 worth of repairs. We knew it was bad, but we had no idea it would be that much. The tequila: these are not repairs that need to be done right away, and one doesn't even need to be done at all. Yes, a dealership actually talked us out of giving them almost 3k. After the call came in, we contacted a mechanic we know who works for the dealership but does repairs on the side. His quote for the necessary repairs? $400.
  • I'm sick. Again. I decided enough was enough went to the doc. Apparently, this is some kind of infection that's going around and it requires antibiotics and strong cough syrup. Unfortunately my poor doc, who knows about our IF troubles, has to rule out pregnancy before I can go on these meds. He looked like he was telling me I needed an enema when he broke the news that I would need a beta. Joy. So, I spent an hour at the hospital after my appointment waiting for the most unnecessary pregnancy test ever. I get the results tomorrow and can then fill my prescription. The tequila: We all got a good laugh at it and my sweet doc shook my hand as I walked out the door and said, "I hope you don't have to take those cough meds."
The brightest side of the day, however, came in a white box, labeled with a pretty silver apple. We finally caved and bought ourselves a much-needed new computer: a MacBook. I'm writing this post on it now and I am in love. Sorry, Joey. I'm cuddling the laptop tonight.

Before I sign off of my intro, take a moment and visit Rebecca's blog. I'm not sure if she signed up for ICLW this time around, but she really needs some support right now after miscarrying at 11.5 weeks. She's a wonderful friend of mine and I know she would really appreciated some love and hugs.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the cherry on top

As if Father's Day isn't difficult enough, Joey and I got an e-mail this afternoon that put a cherry on top of our cake.

We are most likely not going to get the two puppies.

The foster mom has reconsidered and no longer believes we'll be a good fit for the dogs. She'll make her final decision in a week.

I should mention that these are the second and third dogs we've been shot down about with this agency. The first, the dog we applied for, was also "not a good fit." We accepted and forgave that decision when we met and fell in love with the brother and sister.

I'm pretty sure I can't forgive this.

Her reasons behind it are that 1) the male is starting to exhibit separation anxiety. He barks when they leave. First, don't all dogs get sad when their owners leave? I didn't realize that barking with a trait of separation anxiety. I also didn't realize that a dog barking was a negative trait at all. I've owned and been around doxies my entire life. They bark AT EVERYTHING. I don't care if you stand right next to them--they bark whenever they want to. Also, when he's "separated," is he separated from his sister? Could that be why he's upset? Do they want him to go to a home that's young enough to care for puppies, yet the couple doesn't have small children AND one member of the couple is home all of the time?

Best of luck with that.

2) they are concerned about the next door neighbor's dog and how his barking may affect these puppies.

Are you out of your mind? Now you want owners who have no dogs living next door, in addition to having someone home all day, having no small kids in the house, and having owners who are young? And you are punishing us for having a temporary next door neighbor who owns a dog who barks?

This is just great. Not only is God telling us we can't have children, but now a woman trying to play God is telling me I can't have these dogs. Dogs she brought over here. Dogs she originally seemed excited about placing with us. We were trying to do the right thing. We were trying to adopt instead of buying from a breeder or a puppy mill. Like always, we were trying to do the right thing and we were royally screwed in the end.

We would be excellent parents to a baby or to puppies. When is someone going to give us the chance to do either?

Friday, June 18, 2010

six months down

Can you believe this year is almost half over already? Six months ago I remember standing in my mom's kitchen with Joey while he popped open a bottle of champagne to ring in the new year. Now that year is has become six months. For the first time since then, I feel like things are finally starting to settle down:

The saga of the lump. Technically this is still ongoing, but at least we know there isn't cancer growing in there (or that's what the radiologists and the breast surgeon say). I found out late last week that I don't have to go in for a follow-up appointment for at least another three months. I will still have a(nother) ultrasound in December. Until then, they have ask me to, um, massage my breast. No, I'm not joking. I sat on the phone for five minutes AT WORK while the nurse described how I should be touching myself over the phone. Lovely. Thank you for stripping away the last of my dignity and throwing it to the wolves.

"Carl." Oh, good ol' Carl. Do you remember him? Well, he was going to be the topic of my second post on Monday--the one I never got to because I decided he wasn't even worthy of his own post. But I'm happy to say that he's been relatively quiet, other than the incident which occurred Sunday night. Let's just say that Carl and his girlfriend were going at it. And by going at it, I don't mean in a Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On" type of way. I mean in a Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield showdown type of way. This just goes to show that when you think someone couldn't possibly be a bigger loser, they surprise you.

Infertility. Even though we didn't (and won't) achieve our goal of having a baby this year, I think we made progress. We did the right thing by changing fertility clinics in January and finally got some definitive diagnoses. The last week has been the biggest breakthrough: I am proud to write that I haven't researched anything dealing with IVF once. Part of this is because we aren't at that step yet financially. Another is because, for now, I'm content with taking a little break from Western medicine. I love my RE. I really do, and he did an amazing job with my surgery. But no matter how many times I'm cut open, he can't fix me for good. Maybe Eastern medicine can't either, but at least now I'll know that I've tried everything.

This weekend should be fun. I have an acupuncture appointment tomorrow at noon. The herbs are going well, I feel more alert when I take them. The rest of the weekend will be spent hanging out with family and friends. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Remember to hug your husbands on Father's Day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

fathers at heart

Every day with infertility is difficult. Some days you feel hopeful and you truly believe you will hold a baby in your arms. Other days you feel angry or sad and you can hardly pull yourself out from under the covers and get through the day without crying in the bathroom stall at work. (Come on, we've all done it.) Some days you go through a mixture of these emotions--like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. One minute you are fine, and the next you are a wreck. The great thing about these days or moments when you are writhing in pain is there are at least ten other girls around you to lift you up and carry you out of the funk. There's your husband, who brings home your favorite flowers or candy. In the end, you can pop in a girlie movie, pour yourself a glass of wine, and curl up on the couch knowing that tomorrow will be a different day.

But we all share common days of low. When none of us can pick each other up off the floor, because we're all too busy throwing hissy fits down there, too. It's easy to remember these days, because they are also marked on the calendar: Mother's Day, Christmas, Easter, etc. Family gatherings make you want to pull your hair out. You don't want to go into the mall for fear of walking past Santa holding a newborn set of triplets (Seriously, three? I can't have ONE!) The weeks leading up to these days, when you are bombarded with ads every three minutes, are like being shot with rubber bullets before getting hit in the heart with the real thing. Even tax day this year brought on horrendous commercials about getting married, buying a house, and having a baby IN THE SAME year:

Dear H&R Block,

A few questions: Is it possible for a couple to marry, buy a house, AND have a baby in one year? I mean, I just want to know how that happens. It's been over two years and my husband and I have only accomplished two of the three. What kind of prize do you win for doing everything in the same year? How did the couple in your commercial achieve goal #3? By relaxing and going on vacation? Do you mean to tell me that people still get pregnant that way?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Sincerely,
Infertile Customer

All of these holidays are painful in their own, unique way. But I think the holiday that's most painful of all is the one people often overlook.

Father's Day.

There's no nice way of putting it: Father's Day sucks. Infertile men can't go cry on the shoulder of their buddies and whine about how badly they want to celebrate this holiday with a baby on their hip. They can't go out and get a mani/pedi to take their mind off of the pain and get away from the endless television commercials. They can't go online to their blogs and vent about how life is unfair and crack jokes about fertile men to get them through. Even in relationships where no male factor infertility is involved, Father's Day is torture for men who experience infertility. While women can find outlets for their emotions, men are less likely to let it out and really cope with their own loss on Father's Day--the loss of a child, the loss of the ability to father a child, or even just the loss of the ability to father a child naturally.

This day is difficult for women, too, of course. It's a helpless feeling to know that your husband might be feeling pain on Father's Day but he is unable or unwilling to express it. They are always the strong ones: staying positive when you are down, wiping your tears when you cry. They rarely break down, but it doesn't mean they don't hurt. And even though infertility is no one's fault, it can be a guilty feeling. You want to give your husband a child just as much as you want one yourself.

So as much as Mother's Day is painful and Christmas is unbearable, I think Father's Day takes the cake, at least for me. This Sunday, on Father's Day, please remember those men in your life who are unable to have children, those who are waiting to hear from their adoption agency, and those who have suffered loss. They may not admit it, but the pain of infertility affects them, too. Remember to ask how they are feeling. Remember to give them a big hug. Remember to tell them you care. And please remind them: they have yet to meet their children, but they are all still fathers at heart.

(For a great article about Mother's Day that really should apply to any holiday, click here.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

bellies vs. babies

I find it easier to be around a baby than it is to be around a pregnant woman.

I'm not saying that being around a baby is a piece of cake 100 percent of the time but, in general, bellies are worse than babies. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why I felt this way. It seems silly for one thing to bother me and not the other. After all, pregnant bellies and babies usually go hand in hand.

On Monday evening, I had the privilege of meeting up with Wannabemom for dinner. For two hours, we sat and talked about anything and everything you can think of related to infertility and life--from our frustrations with our bodies not operating the way they should to what parenting will be like after infertility. When I mentioned to her that I had this internal conflict between bellies and babies, and that I was getting ready to post a blog about it, she agreed.

Jealousy isn't a word that sits right with me, so I'm not going to use it. Instead, I'll call it envy. I'm envious of pregnant bellies. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing, when I see a pregnant belly, I have a reaction like none other. It makes me cringe, and I feel my face contort into this expression that I try so desperately to control. I try to look away, but I can't! I'm a sadist. I stare and stare until one of us walks away or until the woman gives me a look as if she thinks I'm going to grab her baby straight out of her uterus and make a run for it. (Sidetrack: for a great post about infertiles and baby stealing, go read Mel's post from earlier today.)

Obviously, I'm not into baby stealing, but I'm sure that's how it seems to the poor pregnant woman on the other side of the stare.

But when I see a baby, that tense, nervous, crazy feeling doesn't usually happen. Because I'm not envious of the baby. I don't want what that baby has; I want what that mother has. I want to know what it feels like to have a part of me and a part of my husband merged together and growing inside of me. To have a little, beating heart deep within me. To feel a baby's legs kick against my belly. I want to be able to rub my tummy--not in the way that you do when you are full after a great meal, but in the way that you comfort your baby, letting them know there is someone on the outside waiting to meet him or her.

I want to be that mother.

We all try to do the noble thing and give the benefit of the doubt. Like Wannabemom said over dinner, no one knows what that person went through to get pregnant. That pregnant belly could be the result of an IUI or IVF. It could have been years in the making. That woman's journey to become a mother could have been a lot longer and harder than any of us could even imagine. But, in the moment, you don't think about those things. You don't think about that woman's story or their road to motherhood. All you can see when you look at them is you: what could have, should have, and would have been. It's like seeing a reflection of the past or future, or maybe a vision of your innermost thoughts and dreams. You see that woman and you wonder, will that ever be me? Or, is that what I would have looked like?

You wonder, will I ever come out on the other side and be able to call a baby my own?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

resolve and the hope award

Two years ago, I started this blog as a way to document our journey to try to have a baby. I told no one but my husband that I was writing. I just wrote. Three months after I began writing, doctors diagnosed us with infertility. In an instant, I was infertile and facing the possibility of never becoming a mother. Our path changed, and so did my blog. It became an outlet for my emotions and a way for me to connect with others who are going through similar situations. Writing was, and still is, my therapy. Without writing and without the support of all of you who have been through and continue to battle infertility, I don’t know if I could have made it through the last two years intact.

On Friday, I received the news that my blog is one of the five finalists for Resolve’s Hope Award for Best Blog. To say I am still in shock over this is an understatement. I read so many amazing blogs of people in this community and I read so many powerful “What IF?” posts, including the four others chosen as finalists. All moved me to tears, and for Resolve to place me in this same category as these amazing women is an honor. It feels very surreal.

I can’t sit here and ask you to vote for me, because every person who writes about infertility deserves to win this award. By blogging, each of us brings awareness to the cause and comfort to others. Every day our community grows stronger and it truly is a group effort. However, each of you should vote for someone. It’s important that we recognize the role bloggers play in giving our cause a voice. I can’t thank Resolve enough for considering me for this honor and for their constant efforts to make infertility a topic that is no longer taboo. And I can’t thank all of you enough for your unending support. Regardless of this award, we are all winners in this community.

Click here to read all of the blogs and cast your vote.

Monday, June 14, 2010

weekend update

This might be a two post kind of day, partly because I'm working from home and partly because I have something else to write about (and I don't want to taint my "weekend update" post with what else is on my mind).

My first acupuncture session was Saturday morning. She spent about 20 minutes going over my paperwork and my health history before we officially got started. I wasn't nervous at all and, just as I suspected, it didn't hurt. The one needle she placed at the top of my head was a little sore at times, but not painful. It was a very relaxing experience. After about 10 minutes on the table, I almost couldn't feel my body. I will be doing this every Saturday and I will also be taking Chinese herbs. I'm not going to lie: the herbs are nasty. I definitely can't take them with water. So far, orange juice seems to be the only thing that masks the taste and I still have to shoot it as if I'm shooting tequila. I hope that these things treat me better than tequila. Yuck.

Saturday, Joey and his dad painted bedroom #2. We still have bedroom #3, the guest bath, and the hallway to complete. I think, aside from a few minor decorative things, the downstairs is nearly complete.

Finally, the highlight of my weekend was making a decision about adding to our family. This is something Joey and I have been talking about for a while, and it looks like things may finally be coming together. We are ready to share that we are "home visit approved" and on the waiting list to adopt . . .

TWO PUPPIES.

That's right. Our family of two may soon become a family of four. Unfortunately, that's all I can write about it at the moment since nothing is in stone. I can tell you they are from a dog rescue, they are brother and sister miniature dachshunds, and we love them. We are trying not to get our hopes up, but we really hope they are able to come home with us.

It ended on an interesting note (more on this in a later post), but, overall, it was a good weekend.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

training wheels

I have a confession: I love hip-hop music. Go ahead and laugh. Everyone has guilty pleasures, and this is one of mine. I enjoy the older songs (and by older, I mean 90s and early 2000s), and there are a couple of stations here that play old songs mixed in with the new. One in particular has an intro it plays before each throwback: 

Taking it back to the old school. 

This phrase has been stuck in my head all week, probably because it sums up the trying to conceive aspect of my life right now. We are right back where we started: trying, but not.

Jess posted recently about IFers never being truly happy or content unless they are actively trying. And by actively trying, I mean charting, temping, peeing, injecting, swallowing pills, getting wanded, getting blood draws, getting inseminated, etc. etc. This statement couldn't be more true for me. I can honestly say that I feel lost going from regular monitoring to absolutely nothing. It's a strange adjustment. Almost overnight, I went from knowing exactly what my body was doing to knowing nothing at all.

In some ways, it feels like regression--like putting the training wheels back on your bike after you've been riding on two wheels for so long. How do I learn how to let go again, at least for the time being when we are not pursuing treatments? How do I go back to the beginning when I am so far down this path? Every day feels like an identity crisis. I am not at the starting line of this journey. I am not the hopeful and eager woman I once was. I am not the woman who stocked her bathroom cabinets with home pregnancy tests and thought of who I would give my leftovers to after I got my positive. I am not the woman who took her temperature every morning, hoping to see a big rise at the end of her two-week wait.

Sometimes, being back here gives me this horrific sense of failure. Why didn't things work out with our IUIs? Why didn't timed intercourse just work? Why don't we just take out a $15,000 loan and do this now? Other times, it gives me a sense of relief--a peace that I know my mind and my body so desperately need.

It's not easy going back to the old school. Going back brings on so many memories I thought I had forgotten. But I hope that going back will only help us move forward.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

the waiting place

When I was little, my mom would snuggle up beside me in bed and read me bedtime stories. One of my favorite authors, like many kids, was Dr. Seuss. I loved all of his books. Listening to each one felt like going on a magical adventure: whether it was under the sea with One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or eating Green Eggs and Ham. As I got older and read these books on my own, I started to discover the hidden message in each.

My best friend and her boyfriend just separated after seven years together. To hold her over until tomorrow evening’s “girls’ dinner,” I spent last night listening to her cry over the phone and mourn the loss of her first love. This breakup comes just a little over a month after the tragic and sudden death of her dad. To say that she is feeling lost is an understatement. But after about 30 minutes of crying and conversation, her voice started to change. She sounded more positive and hopeful. That’s when she brought up Dr. Seuss.

Her dad gave her a copy of Oh! The Places You’ll Go for our high school graduation—a typical gift for someone moving into adulthood, but one that now has special meaning since her dad passed. She said that, even though she was sad and confused, she didn’t want to get stuck in The Waiting Place. The Waiting Place, she said, is the worst place to be, and she was going to do everything she could to stay out of it.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

The Waiting Place is different as a child. You wait for different things—the next trip to the zoo, a new toy, the ice cream truck to pull down the street—and waiting just one day feels like an eternity. But as an adult, as an infertile adult, The Waiting Place becomes where you spend your life. You wait for your period to arrive. You wait for the next ultrasound. You wait for a phone call from your adoption agency. You wait until you can afford your next step of treatment. You are forever stuck in The Waiting Place, where days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and years.

Sometimes, you wait so long that you begin to give up hope. Sometimes, you wait so long that you forget what you are waiting for.

When I read this book as a child, I didn’t understand what it meant. As a teenager and a high-school graduate, I thought of it as a metaphor for my college years and career path. But now, as an adult, I know better. It’s about the hard stuff: losing a parent, losing a love, losing your chance at having a child. These are the things you never saw coming. They were the obstacles Dr. Seuss knew you would face.

These obstacles are difficult to accept, but accepting them doesn’t mean giving up hope or letting go of the dream. It means understanding that it will take one hell of a detour to get there. But, just like in the book, we can’t let our minds detour for too long in The Waiting Place. We have to find the bright side of the detour, where friends and family members can hold our hands, walk with us, and sometimes help carry us to our destination. We can’t stay in The Waiting Place forever. We have to push forward. Eventually, the detour will reconnect with the path we always thought we would follow.

No! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

clearing the air

I feel like I was unclear about what I wrote on Friday (giving all of this the middle finger and just walking away--spending our money on something else like a big vacation or a new car). In no way did I intend for that to come across like I wasn't serious about having a baby and spending whatever money necessary to do it. I am very serious about it and this is very important to me. It's also very important to Joey. Right now we are just trying to do this in the most responsible, practical, and resourceful way possible. Thanks to those of you who suggested an IVF vacation. That's a really great idea and I will definitely be looking into that.

To those who asked how we would find out whether a company offers IVF coverage. I have a small list that is growing daily for those who want it. (You can e-mail me at fromiftowhen at gmail dot com.) The easiest way to find out about IVF coverage is to ask a potential employer for their insurance carrier and that carrier's group number. You can call that insurance company directly, give them the group number, and ask whether that group number offers IVF coverage on their policy. Can you tell I've done this before? My company does not offer IVF coverage, but the insurance agent I asked did tell me how I could "get around" having to pay out of pocket for certain costs. As a result, I've always had my visits, blood work, and ultrasounds covered--just not the IUIs themselves.

This weekend, I had my first acupuncture consult, and I am feeling very positive about what the acupuncturist said. She came highly recommended by several of my contacts with Resolve and she has many years of experience with infertility patients--some of whom came to her and became pregnant after years of failed IVFs. My physical evaluation is this Saturday and after that I will start treatment. She would like me to try one last IUI after we go through a few months of treatment, but we'll see where we're at.

Each day I feel a little better. Not 100%, but better. I have moments of anger and sadness, but then they retreat to the back of my mind and I feel almost normal again. Almost.

Oh, and two "life" updates: my boob is still lumpy. The plan is to get another u/s at the end of the year unless my surgeon wants one sooner or refers me to a specialist. I am supposed to hear back this week. And last, I got into graduate school. Finally, some good news about something!

Friday, June 4, 2010

babies: aisle 3

In the back of my mind, I always had a feeling that IUIs wouldn't work for us. I can't explain why, really. Maybe you could call it the infertile woman's intuition. But I think that is why I had such peace letting go of the last IUI. The timing would not have been right for me with work and time off, and it felt like such a waste of money when we could be putting this toward other things.

Like IVF.

Our original plan was to do a shared egg or shared embryo cycle with another couple. This way we would save money (since another couple would share the cost) and we would also be giving back to someone who so desperately wanted a baby, too. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen--at least not at any clinics in our area. Some are not willing to do this for us, and the rest think we could be waiting for years for another couple to agree since most would prefer to adopt all of our embryos. 

I want to wait six months, but I don't think I could wait a full year (possibly longer) with the chance that we may never get a couple to do this with us.

So, we'll do one full cycle. Alone. $15,000 (ish). $15,000 we don't have and we don't want to finance all of it.

Insert the grand scheme here, for Joey to get a job with a company that offers IVF coverage. He gets the job, I get on his insurance, and when December rolls around I can start popping BCPs in preparation for getting pregnant. We'll see how well this brilliant plan to cheat the insurance industry works in this economy, where trying to get a job is like trying to get pregnant when you're infertile. But hey, at least that also buys us time to save money in case we do need to finance part of this.

In the meantime, I have an acupuncture consult tomorrow at noon. I figure I may as well channel my energy into some alternative, less-expensive method of increasing my fertility. Not to mention helping my relax. Let's face it--we all know I need that.

I'm not going to lie. Part of me says, "Screw it." We could take that $15,000 and spend time in Europe. Or go sit on a beach where someone serves us drinks for two weeks. Because I just don't understand why.

Why do I have to BUY my chance at having a baby?

last day

We were hurting a little the morning of our last day in New York. I had one too many glasses of wine, and Joey mixed beer and scotch. Enough said. :) We decided to go ahead and check out of the hotel early and have them hold our bags. The shuttle to the airport wasn't picking us up until 2, so we wanted to spend one last time exploring the city.

Our first stop: breakfast and COFFEE. I did a quick Google search and found Sarabeth's, which is just across the street from Central Park. We didn't request an outside table, but we got one anyway. It was nice to just relax, sip our coffee, and watch people walk in and out of the park.

After breakfast, we crossed into the park and took some pictures at the entrance. We briefly contemplating walking up to The Dakota, but we decided our feet had enough. So we hailed a cab up to the entrance of the building where John Lennon was killed. For as many times as I've been to New York, this was the first time I had been to The Dakota. I was amazed by how many people were out front taking pictures.

We walked across the street back into Central Park to look at Strawberry Fields--a memorial to John Lennon. Again, I was just amazed at the number of people who were there.

For the next hour or so, we took a leisurely walk through the park. It was a beautiful day and a great way to spend unwinding from our crazy trip.

We walked up 5th Avenue one last time on the way back to the hotel. We made it to the airport a little early, and ended up sitting on the runway for nearly two hours, but nothing could have ruined what was truly an awesome vacation. Now that we know Joey loves New York, we'll be back soon to tour the museums and see a few shows. He kept saying over and over again, "I can't believe how NICE New Yorkers are." (I tried to tell him. He just didn't want to listen!)

At the end we were exhausted, but neither of us really wanted to leave. For me, leaving meant coming back to reality. The reality being that this was it: we were now facing IVF.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

day 3

On day 3, we had originally planned on getting up bright and early and going down to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But the weather was bad that morning and we were TIRED. So we decided to derail the plans and just enjoy a day in lower Manhattan. We kicked things off at Starbucks on lower Broadway (gotta have my coffee) and walked over to Bowling Green Park to see the Charging Bull.

After a few pictures around the park, we wandered over to Battery Park to get a closer look at the Statue of Liberty and the Sphere.

Next, we hobbled (by this point, yes, we were hobbling--we walked nearly 100 blocks in two days!) back up to Ground Zero. I wanted to show Joey the inside of St. Paul's Chapel, which we were not able to get into the night before.

I was in New York in 2000, 2002, and 2004. In 2000, I went to the top of the World Trade Center. In 2002, I was at Ground Zero when there were still memorials on the ground and flowers on the fence of St. Paul's Chapel. When we went back in 2004, I knew they had moved many of the memorials inside of St. Paul's and I wanted to see if they were still there. Luckily, they were and Joey got to see them for himself. I don't care how many times you've been down there, it still gets emotional.

After spending some time in St. Paul's, we walked (again) over to South Street Seaport to get some pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge.

We contemplating taking a cab up to our next stop (Chinatown and Little Italy), but I really wanted Joey to see everything. So, on foot again, we made our way up through Tribeca and into Chinatown. Honestly? I hate Chinatown. It drives me crazy and the only real reason I wanted to go was to buy a fake purse. Which I did. :) So we didn't stay long or take many pictures. By the time we got to Little Italy, we were beat and starving. So we enjoyed a nice, long lunch at a place called Sofia's.

When lunch was over, we walked the streets of Little Italy for a while until it was time to go back to the hotel. Another quick nap and clothes change later, we headed out to the Empire Hotel for a couple of drinks at their rooftop bar.

Then? It was time for dinner. We met friends of ours at Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bar Americain. Talk about a meal. Our friends ordered "The Selection" for an appetizer: a two-tiered raw bar with clams, oysters, mussels, crawfish, crab, shrimp, and scallops. Amazing. Our meals? Joey had the Philadelphia strip steak covered in carmelized onions and a provolone cheese sauce with sweet potatoes. I had the red snapper (Florida style) with an avocado relish and sauteed spinach. To say it was amazing is an understatement.

After dinner, I was exhausted. But our friends wanted to keep going. So we ended up at The Carnegie Club. Talk about a trip back in time. Everyone was dressed so elegantly. There was an 11-piece orchestra and a man singing (well!) Frank Sinatra songs. John Malkovich was there, and so was Big Pussy from the Sopranos. The old soul in me LOVED it. On top of this, our friend convinced Joey to drink scotch and smoke a cigar. And Joey did it!

It was a late night, but it was worth it. We had a great time and I knew we would be paying for it the next morning . . .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

day 2

Friday morning we woke up pretty early--and I woke up with a cold from sitting out in the rain the night before. But we had to keep moving. We had a lot to see and not a lot of time to see it. Our first stop? Rockefeller Center.

We took a few pictures and then headed over to Dean and Deluca for some much-needed coffee. At that point, we remembered that it was Friday, and the Today Show was having their concert series outside. So we got to sit an enjoy a live performance by One Republic while we ate our breakfast.

After breakfast, we walked back up 5th Avenue. I bought a dress at H&M and Joey walked around the NBA store. Then we walked (yes, WALKED) all the way over to Times Square.

A couple of more shopping stops and we were back on our way, still walking, down to Madison Square Garden and Macy's. Joey was just amazed by the fact that they could stick an entire arena in the middle of a city. At that point, we had a choice. We knew we needed to meet a friend for lunch back uptown at 1 (it was about 11:45 by this time), but we were SO close to the Empire State Building. Did we want to brave the potential crowds and go to the top?

We decided to do it. We were a little late for lunch and we didn't stay long at the top (about 15 minutes) but it was worth the view.

The next couple of hours at lunch were so nice. It was nice to rest our feet and it was so great catching up with my old friend and coworker, Michelle. She is probably the sweetest person you will ever meet, and I loved spending time with her. She treated us to lunch at the Algonquin Hotel and it was a great meal.

After parting ways with Michelle, we hiked back to the hotel and took a well deserved power nap. When we woke up, we got dressed for dinner and took the subway downtown and wandered around for a while, checking out Wall Street and Ground Zero before heading back up to SoHo.

Dinner was at a tiny little restaurant in SoHo called Shorty's 32. And when I say tiny, I really do mean tiny. It only had about 10 tables. Joey ordered the braised short ribs and I ordered the scallops. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. I think the ribs took longer than they expected, so they kept coming out to apologize to us for the delay. Of course we didn't care. We were on vacation and by this time we weren't in a hurry to walk ANYWHERE. Plus, I was drinking champagne. :)

Well, for our "troubles" they comped us two appetizers, two desserts, an extra glass of champagne, and a cup of coffee for Joey. It didn't matter. The wait for the food was worth it. Amazing. Simply amazing. Don't get me wrong, I loved my scallops. But the short ribs were to die for. The desserts were incredible too: deep fried waffle with fresh strawberries and ice cream and a molten chocolate cake. We walked out of there full and happy.

I am sad to say that we didn't do anything exciting after dinner. We were beat and I could barely breathe out of my nose. So we went back to the hotel, got in our PJs, and watched the Magic game. But our night on day 3? Well, that's for tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

day 1

Part of me wants to write about our move to the next step (IVF), but part of me is not quite ready to move on to reality after our vacation. So, my plan is to spend the next four days writing about each day of our trip. After that, I will write/update about our move to IVF. I think it's only fair that I give myself and my husband time to process the news first.

Day 1 of the trip started off on the wrong foot. AF began on Thursday morning with spotting and we had a devil child on our plane. But once we took off and were able to watch TV (we flew JetBlue), it was smooth sailing. We landed at JFK around 12:40 and got to the hotel a little before 3. We stayed at the W New York on Lexington Avenue. The room was tiny, as most hotel rooms in New York are, but it was very nice and ended up being central to just about everything. We unpacked, took a minute to charge our phones, then set out into the city to see as much as possible before the baseball game.

Our first stop? A place called Burger Heaven where we ate a pretty good lunch at a reasonable price. From there, we walked over a couple of blocks to St. Patrick's Cathedral. This was Joey's first trip to New York, so he was amazed at the architecture and the artwork. We spent about 30 minutes just wandering around in silence. We lit a candle in front of the altar of St. Joseph and said a prayer at the altar of Mary. I got a little teary-eyed saying my prayer. I think we all know what it was about.

Next, we headed down 5th Avenue to do some shopping. I browsed the cases at Tiffany's (and, despite my husband's encouragement, did not walk away with any items) and Joey bought a US Soccer shirt from the Nike store. By this time, it was nearing 4:30 and we needed to get back to the hotel and get ready for the game. We walked back, changed into our Phillies gear, and headed downtown to Grand Central to catch the 7 to the Citi Field in Queens. Joey got a taste of what Grand Central looks like at rush hour on a workday.<

The subway ride to the Mets stadium only took about 20 or 30 minutes. We got off and wandered around a little bit outside before heading into the stadium. As we walked in, we stopped to take pictures of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and were so impressed by how nice the Mets workers were, despite us sticking out like sore thumbs in our Phillies shirts.

Then, it was time to check out our seats: 5th row in left field. Not too shabby. We knew there was a good chance for rain, but as the 7:10 "first pitch" time quickly approached, we were confident that maybe the forecasters had gotten it wrong. But, unfortunately, just before 7, the skies opened up and the rain came pouring down.

For the first hour or so, we hung out in the concourse close to our seats. But then we got antsy and decided to wander around the stadium. That's when a Mets worker told us we could kill some time by checking out the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum at the entry of the stadium.

So downstairs we went. We spent about 30 minutes checking out the memorabilia, taking pictures, and listening to friendly jabs from Mets fans. Back outside in the rotunda, we were trying to decide whether we would stick around any longer or leave, when we were approached by a guy holding tickets. He said that he and his buddies weren't going to wait out the rain delay and asked if we would be interested in having his tickets. My gut reaction was to say no. After all, we already had tickets and they were pretty good seats. Why would we need more tickets?

Well, luckily, my husband responded with a "yes" before I had a chance to think about it. I gave him a confused look and then the guy handed over his tickets. They were club level!

We wasted no time getting upstairs to the fancy shmancy club bar and grabbing a couple of beers. At this point, I don't think either of us cared if they game was going to start as long as we got to sit inside in some nice, comfy chairs. But they did announce that the game would start at 9:10. So we went outside to check out our seats. It took us a minute or two to realize exactly where we were sitting. And when we did, I couldn't believe our luck: row 7, almost directly behind home plate.

To say that I enjoyed myself despite the Phillies loss is an understatement. When we took the train back to the city that night, I knew that we would have so much fun on our trip. With a first night like that, how could it not be?