Please note on your readers that I have a new blog: http://nowaystosayit.com.

If you have any questions, you can email me at katieschaber (at) gmail.com.

Thank you for all of your support over the years! xo

Monday, April 30, 2012

back to work i go

Other than the minor setback of a terrible rash on my face (we think it's from antibiotics), my recovery is going well. I went in this morning for my first post-op appointment, and my doctor suctioned all of the packing out of my face. Talk about a weird experience. I won't go into detail, but you know the tool they use at the dentist's office to suck the crap out of your mouth when you're having your teeth cleaned? Yes. That. I have to go back several more times to get "cleaned out" in the next couple of weeks.

The good bill of health means that I'm back at work, and I have a feeling it's going to be a long five days since I've grown used to afternoon naps.

More to come later this week, with an update (or lack of) on the adoption process, what it feels like to hit the six-month mark in the wait (!) and our featured Etsy item of the week. Please remember that we are still accepting artwork and crafts for our site. If you have anything to donate, you can email me at fromiftowhen (at) gmail.com

Hope everyone is having a lovely Monday. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

i can breathe again

And comparatively speaking, this surgery was a lot easier than the others (except for the initial recovery, which I'll explain in a second).

We arrived at the surgical center at 10:30. I was taken back to pre-op holding at 11:30, but I didn't go back to the OR until about 1. Talk about torture since I couldn't eat past midnight. A guy brought McDonald's in the waiting room right before I was called back, and I thought I was going to attack him for his French fries.

But aside from the hunger, I was pretty calm going in. This is the first surgery where I actually remember putting myself onto the operating table because it's the first time they haven't needed to give me anxiety meds prior to being knocked out. The last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist asking me how on Earth I became a librarian.

The surgery itself went well. They were able to get rid of all my sinus build-up, fix my deviated septum, and remove a bone spur in my nose. Waking up, though, was the worst part. My blood pressure shot up toward the end of my surgery. This happened after my last lap last year, too, and I thought it was a fluke back then. But apparently, I'm starting to have issues coming out of anesthesia. They also said I lost a lot more blood in surgery than they expected. I felt awful when I came to. I was nauseous and my heart was racing. They gave me a big dose of Zofran, which did nothing. I thought for sure the poor nurse was going to have to clean up my vomit. But then she asked the doc for special permission to try one other drug. Apparently this stuff is super powerful, because it worked instantly. In the meantime, they were still trying to get my blood pressure to go down. (Me feeling sick and being a little panicky about not seeing Joey probably didn't help this.) It took about 30 minutes before my lower number went below 100.

Once that was done, the nurse transferred me to a recliner and wheeled me to recovery to see Joey. I'd say I was in there for about an hour, maybe a little less. The nurses were all fantastic. They fed me ice chips, and laughed when I apologized for burping repeatedly. The crappy part about the nausea meds were that they made me even more sleepy and disoriented, so I mostly stayed quiet and we watched HGTV - which I'm sure was a nice change from the loopy guy sitting across from me who wouldn't shut up about Jennifer Aniston.

By the time they wheeled me out to the car, I felt so much better. We got smoothies on the way home, and I drank the entire thing with no issues. My appetite came back pretty fast. I ate a full meal last night, and even had a little bit of ice cream.

My complaints? Well, I sort of blew off this surgery like it was no big deal without realizing how annoying and uncomfortable my face would be after coming to. It's awkward. That's the only way I know how to explain it. My nose bleeds, so I have a contraption that goes around each ear holds strip of gauze in place. Hot, right? Not exactly convenient for eating and drinking, plus the constant bleeding is kind of gross. And I can't blow my nose for obvious reasons, so I have to let it drip. I've found that the key is less movement: the less I move around, the less I bleed. I also have to sit up straight to let my nose drain, which has made sleep kind of impossible.

The pain? Totally manageable. It's sort of like the burning sensation you get when you laugh and soda comes out your nose (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about). I didn't need my first pain pill until last night, and I've only taken two since.

Joey went back to work this morning, and my MIL came over this morning to sit with me. Danica has been pretty adorable throughout the entire thing. She knows something is wrong, and she is being very gentle. When I first got home, she actually cried she was so upset. She lays her head on my chest, but knows not to get too close to my face. And she's following me everywhere. She's definitely been helpful in the recovery process.

That's pretty much it. I know a few people said they were curious about the surgery details, so I wanted to fill everyone in. Sorry if this bored the rest of you to tears. :) I'll leave you with this adorable picture of Danica I took yesterday, "helping" me feel better. Thanks to all who sent good thoughts and well wishes. I truly appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

it's just about time

For another surgery. Because it wouldn't be my life without having surgery at least once a year, would it? (Insert sarcastic eye roll here.)

Tomorrow afternoon, around 1 pm, I will be going under for sinus surgery. I'll be back on Thursday with an update. In the meantime, do a couple of things:

1. Check out this week's featured item from our Etsy shop. This adorable notepad design was created by the lovely person who spawned the idea for an Etsy shop in the first place - my good friend Stefanie over at Baby Blakely. Please remember that all proceeds from our Etsy sales go into our adoption fund.

2. Order your #hope T-shirt! My amazing friend, Jen, is doing another fundraiser for RESOLVE this year, and I hope you'll participate. She raised nearly $1,000 during NIAW 2011. Let's help her top that number, okay?

3. Send positive thoughts to all of the wonderful women and men who are marching on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day. (I wish I could be there!) To learn more about what's happening tomorrow and how you can help convince our lawmakers NOT to ignore infertility, please visit RESOLVE's website.

Catch all of you on the flip side - with easier breathing, I hope!

Monday, April 23, 2012

don't ignore

you.

Yes, you.

I realize that the blogging campaign for National Infertility Awareness Week typically aims to shine a light on our community for outsiders. But I think that this year's theme gives us an opportunity to focus some of that light on ourselves.

We spend a good deal of time trying to determine how to stop others from ignoring us. We beg the doctor to listen to us when we're hurting or when we don't agree with a suggested method of treatment. "Don't ignore my pain," we say. "Don't ignore my concerns." We ask our friends and our family members not to ignore the importance or significance of what we're going through. "Don't ignore our disease," we insist. "And yes, it is a disease." We ask that our government leaders don't ignore our need for equal medical care and insurance. "It's not elective," we say. "None of us CHOSE to be infertile."

But while we spend so much energy trying to reach others, we often end up ignoring the person who matters most in all of this:

Us. You.

It's easy to do when you're forced to be your own advocate. No one else is going to stand up for you, so you stand up for yourself: to your doctor, your friends, your family, and to other who make important decisions that could ultimately effect your treatment plan. Yet the process is so exhausting that, at the end of the day, you leave yourself very little time for you. I know. I've been there, and it still happens to me. My husband calls it "stretching myself thin." We all do it. And we all need to stop.

Now is the time to stop ignoring ourselves.

Don't ignore your emotions. If you aren't up to something, don't do it. This can range from something small like going to the grocery store to something big like attending a baby shower. Despite the differences, either can be damaging - depending on your state of mind. Remember that your feelings are valid, and they deserve protection. Take a moment to listen to them. Odds are, they are telling you something important. That intuition might save you from an emotional breakdown that you could have avoided. (Not that I'm writing from experience or anything . . .)

In the same sense, don't ignore your body's warning signs to stop. Your body sometimes knows more than your mind. Pay attention to its signals. Don't brush them off. If you're exhausted and you can't bear the thought of doing a cycle this month, it might be time to step back and reevaluate for a month or two. If you don't take care of yourself physically, you are only hurting yourself. Your health should be #1, because in most cases, you're trying to make a baby. That baby needs a healthy place to live for the next nine months. You have the power to make sure it stays healthy.

And, most importantly, don't ignore other aspects of your life. You are NOT infertility. This disease does not define you. Take time out of your day to remind yourself of this. If you don't, the disease will overwhelm you. I know this from experience. I can't count the number of times in the last four years when I've forgotten who I am because of this disease. I used to think of life only before and after: before the diagnosis and after learning about infertility. Don't think like me. Think about what you loved in life before all of this, and what you will love in life after this. Focus on those things. It's easier said than done, I realize. But you won't regret trying.

This isn't something original. I'm not calling for something that's groundbreaking. I'm simply saying, "Take care of yourself."

You deserve it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

who we are

We are ... one in eight.

We are ... your wives, partners, daughters, sisters, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even your enemies.

We are ... sufferers or survivors of endometriosis, PCOS, miscarriage, repeat loss, cancer, blocked tubes, premature ovarian failure, birth defects, immunology disorders, hormone dysfunction, unexplained circumstances, and more.

We are ... all ages, all shapes, all sizes, all colors, all religions, and all backgrounds - all fighting the same battle.

We are ... scarred. Physically and emotionally.

We are ... infertile.

We have feelings. Respect them. Don't ignore them.

Don't ignore our struggle.

Don't ignore us.

National Infertility Awareness Week, 2012.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

learning, part two

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) starts on Sunday, and I stress the importance of sharing your story during this time. I know that can be difficult. Living your story is painful enough; sharing it can be torture. But it's stories like this one that inspire me to move forward and to share. Because if Suleika can face cancer and tell her story to the world, I firmly believe that all of us can.

Each of us has a person (or several people) who has encouraged us, inspired us, and taught us something on this journey. I'd love to hear comments about who that person is for you, but you should also know that you could be that person to someone else - if you choose to share your story. Sometimes I get frustrated that I'm still waiting. It can be a lonely place after four years when there aren't too many people left to hold your hand while you wait. But I always try to think of those people who were there with me at one point. I think of how they are busy holding the hands of their little ones, and it makes me smile to know that they were successful in becoming parents. Maybe someday I will be, too. For now, though, I want that frustration of not reaching my resolution to go toward something good - to educate others on this disease.

I hope all of you will, too.

For more information on NIAW, please visit RESOLVE's website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

from start to finish

I had my one year appointment with the RE yesterday. I can't believe it's been a year since I've started seeing him. Yesterday we confirmed that it's also been one year since I've had a cyst. Everything looked great, my prolactin levels are finally normal (we've been trying to bring them up from being too low since I've been on the medication), and I'm even ovulating on my own.

Which brings us to the birth control discussion. I waffled about whether or not to go back on something once we had the cysts and the hormone levels under control. On one hand, it's nice being off of the Pill. But the other part of me feels like staying off of it is playing with fire. The odds of getting pregnant are slim to none, but the odds of me getting another cyst are up in the air. It could happen, and I don't want to take that chance. Another surgery could very well mean the loss of my ovary.

So, I start Loestrin this week. In a way, I feel like I've come full circle with our infertility journey by using some form of contraception again. It's WEIRD, and somewhat bittersweet. I definitely have more to write about this. But that's for another post on another day.

Tonight is my last class of grad school. My final paper is due this weekend, and then next Wednesday is my surgery. Lots going on and very little time. But to close on a positive note, I wanted to let all of you know that our Etsy site is up. There's not too much on there yet, but I'm very grateful to those who've volunteered their artwork and crafts to place on the site. 100% of the profit goes into our adoption fund. We truly appreciate all of the help we can get! Here is the link. Keep checking back for new stuff, and starting next week, I'll be featuring one item a week on my blog. It's a way for me to give back to the awesome ladies who are donating items.

Infertility is a struggle, but it leads you to meet some amazing people. And I'm thankful for those people who've supported us.

Friday, April 13, 2012

lessons learned

I've written a lot about the before and after of infertility - how different life was/is before and after the diagnosis. There's no doubt that it changes the type of person you are, for better and for worse. I've written about how it has made me more sympathetic and compassionate toward some, but I also know how it has made me less patient toward others.

Yet, aside from changing us, I believe that infertility teaches us. The diagnosis becomes a defining point in our lives that we can't forget. So, we embrace it and learn from it.

I've learned from infertility that the old cliché of "everything happens for a reason" is true. So is "you can't always get what you want." Because what you want isn't always the right thing for you. If I had gotten what I wanted, we would have a child right now just over the age of three. When Joey lost his job in 2009, we would have been broke. We wouldn't have been able to move home, buy a house, or go back to school. As it turns out, we're in the best position now - financially speaking - to raise a child compared to where we've been these last four years.

I've learned that silence is not always golden. I often come across couples who suffer through this disease without telling anyone - not even their closest family or friends. While the risk for negative and insensitive comments certainly exists, in general I've learned that the more open you are, the better. Not only is it nice to not sneak around, it's also a wonderful feeling to have your friends and family truly step up and go to bat for you. As for those with the idiotic comments, many won't stay in your lives. It's hard to watch them go at first, but you also learn you're better off without them. Infertility brings with it enough negative emotions. You don't need other people generating that for you.

Finally, I've learned that becoming a mother will not and should not define any woman - including me. I used to think that being a mom was everything. It wasn't just something I wanted to do. It was something I had to do in order to fit in with society's expectations. And I had to do it a certain way (by drinking wine on vacation and getting knocked up by accident, of course). Now I know that neither this journey nor the goal at the end of it should define what kind of woman I am. Do I want to be a mother? Yes. But if my fate is not to be one, I'm ready to accept that, too - and the grief and anguish that may come with it.

Infertility sucks. It truly does. But I believe you can deal with that suck-age in one of two ways. You can spend every hour of every day crying, "Why me?" Or you can spend five minutes crying "Why me?" and then blot your eyes, come out of the bathroom, and spend the rest of the day learning from this experience.

What has infertility taught you that you didn't realize before this journey?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

month 5

Sunday marked 5 months on the waiting list, and surprisingly, I'm in a good place right now. It's probably the best place I've been in mentally and emotionally all year - even despite the fact that I just moved into my "late 20s." (Thank you all for the birthday wishes, by the way.) Here's a little bit about what's going on in my world:

1. The situation that occurred a couple of weeks ago taught us to be a little more proactive with our adoption plan. No more sitting back and waiting for our agency to do the work. Aside from signing with the attorney, we also joined adoption-share.com and we will be signing with an agency in Utah that has a free outreach program, meaning no up-front fees. This means that we will be learning about situations from four different sources, in addition to any situations that are sent to us by friends, family members, and other people in our adoption network. I also know that too much networking can and will drive me crazy. So, I limit myself to an hour per day to look at our profile, check adoption message boards, and read about new situations on adoption-share.com.

2. In the same sense, we've also had to come to terms with the fact that our agency isn't doing much for us. Not too many matches have occurred since we signed with them, and they confirmed that they are showing profiles in the order of those who've been waiting longest. This means our profile has only been shown three times in five months. Not great. We realize that we may need to fork out more money to sign with a consultant at some point this year, but we can't afford to do this without jeopardizing our funds set aside for the actual adoption costs. That said, we're cutting expenses even further than we did at the beginning of the year. We just cut out cable, and wow does it feel good! We also are looking for ways to make and/or raise money. Within the next couple of weeks, we'll be launching an Etsy shop on which several very generous and caring friends will be selling arts and crafts. (Please contact me if you're interested in selling!) Now that grad school is just about finished, I'm looking for freelance editing opportunities, too, in addition to the possibility of self-publishing. These will also be great time fillers now that homework won't be what's keeping me from going crazy during this wait.

3. Which brings me to this awesome news: I'm *this* close to being done with grad school. My last assignment is due in just ten days, and I hope to complete it early so that I'll have time to relax before my surgery on the 25th. I know I might change my mind someday, but as of right now, I never want to go back to school ever again. Going to school full time and working full time was hard. That said, I'm looking forward to now doing things that I want to do in my spare time, rather than doing things I'm forced to do. I can't remember what that feels like!

Overall, no complaints. My anxiety about getting matched has calmed down significantly these past couple of weeks, because I've come to terms with the fact that "it will happen" and can find a balance between being passive (what I was before) and being over the top (what I was right after the expectant mother didn't choose us). It's called being patient. I still haven't quite learned how to master it - even after four years of infertility.

But I'm trying.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the other "match"

I went to lunch with one of my best friends a couple of weeks ago. She's recently single, and she joined Match.com to reenter the dating scene. Before she updated me on her dating progress, she asked me for an update on our profile progress. I told her the situation about the expectant mother who was choosing between us and two other couples. She knows a good deal about the process now since she's been following along closely since we started this, but it shocks her every time that people get chosen to parent children based on a few photos and words on a page.

"But wait," I said. "It's not too different from what you're doing right now on match.com." And so it's not. This entire adoption process, the process of being selected to parent a child, feels like online dating.

We make this profile outlining our interests and our life philosophies. We include our best photos - only the ones where my hair is perfect or Joey is (almost) clean shaven. We don't include any photos where either of us are holding alcohol. We wouldn't want to appear like drunks, would we? We include a variety of pictures that will show our interests and interactions with family members and friends. We talk about how great we are, how great our lives are, and we hope that we've said enough, but not too much, to spark someone's interest.

Then we wait for someone, anyone, to show interest. We see that someone has viewed our profile, and yet the phone doesn't ring. We never get to know why people don't choose to contact us. We never get the opportunity to meet these individuals in person and show them how wonderful we are. It's left to chance. And then we are left to question: Why didn't we get any calls today? Do I look too young/old/fat/sweaty in that picture? Is my favorite movie her least favorite movie? We get to analyze and reanalyze every aspect of our profile until we've thoroughly nitpicked our entire lives. It's incredibly different from when we were trying to conceive, where the remote control wasn't in someone else's hands - it was in ours. With adoption, you're at the mercy of someone else, their likes and dislikes, and even whether they're attractive or not.

The worst is when someone you know gets selected. We experienced this for the first time recently. You sit back and think to yourself, "They picked them instead of us? What do they have that we don't? I wonder if it's because they said they're outdoorsy. I bet they don't even like being outside. What the hell!" It's a blow to the ego. You say, "If she could only meet us. If she could only spend an hour with us and see what amazing parents we would be - if someone would give us a chance."

Of course, it's not like online dating in that there are much bigger issues at stake. There's a child, not dinner and drinks. There is a lifetime, not an "I'll call you" after exchanging numbers. Yet there are the same feelings of anxiety and wonder. You wonder what's wrong with you. You wonder if you are ever going to get matched. You wonder if there is happiness at the end of this.

But there is an end. Someday, we'll have our match. Someday we'll get to experience what it's like to feel that true love. And it will be a million times better than online dating.

This post was written for The Analogy Project as part of National Infertility Awareness Week. To learn more about the project and to read other submissions, please click here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

27

Tomorrow I turn 27. And instead of lamenting over the fact that I'm still not a parent - four years after we started this journey - I'm going to say I'm excited.

Because this has to be the year I'm going to be a mom. It must be. I've been patient. I've been understanding. And now, it's my time.

Because I deserve for 27 to be a good year. I deserve for 27 to be the year that this fight comes to an end. I deserve happiness. I deserve resolve. I deserve peace. I deserve a crying, screaming baby at 3 am - a sound that I've wanted to hear for so long, it makes my heart ache. I deserve the light at the end of the tunnel.

This will be my year. I will make sure of it.