How I’m failing.

This post could be focused on so many different aspects. Failing to get pregnant, failing to let it be, failing to save more money, failing to keep the weight off… the. list. goes. on. What I’m actually want to focus on is how I’m failing everyone around me.

 

Infertility is hard. Staying sane through infertility is hard. Keeping even a shred of your former self is hard. Over the last year, I have come to realize that I have been drowning; however, it has been a slow realization. A part of me thought that I was handling things rather well, and maybe considering the shit storm that is infertility, I actually am; just not in everyone else’s eyes. I know it’s easy to brush this off (as I have done for the better part of a year) and rest on the fact that I need to focus on me throughout this journey and who cares what everyone else things because THEY JUST DON’T GET IT. This is 100% true; however, I have tried very hard not to let infertility become my whole identity. Since I have been drowning in my own feelings, I have forgotten about the feelings of those around me and the affect that this has had on them.

 


I have been having some rather difficult conversations over the last month with those that I love and have been failing. My husband, my closest friends, and my family.

 

My husband and I do not fight a lot. Communication is key for the place we work and as a result, we do our best to communicate as effectively as possible at home too; unfortunately, because I have been in cycles and so emotional, there have been some things that my husband has just chose not to bring up. He finally shared those thoughts and feelings with me and although it hurt, it hurt mostly because I didn’t realize the ways in which I was neglecting him and hurting him with my actions or non actions.  I have been doing my best to take what he said and work toward making improvements. It helps that I haven’t had an abundance of hormones in my system lately and am able think a little more clearly. He wasn’t rude in telling me, he didn’t use mean words; yet I knew that he was feeling hurt and left behind. It’s hard that the focus has been on me for the better part of a year and although I tried to check in with him to see how he was doing, I didn’t do everything I could to really ensure that he was okay too.

 

Two of my really close girlfriends (one was my maid of honour and one I became super close with in the years following our wedding) are aware of my infertility journey. I’ve spoken about each of them before as they have always made an effort to be supportive but aren’t always sure how to do so. They both have two children each. They both live a different life than I do because of those children. Don’t get me wrong, I love their children, one of which is my Godson whom I absolutely adore; however, as you all know, it is not easy being around children when you’re going through this process. Mix that with me getting frustrated about having to schedule my life around their ‘mom schedules’, it all became too much. I spent more time at home, and spent more time segregating myself from others; to the point that I would just binge watch tv shows because it was just easier than hanging out with people. As time passed, I became jealous of their friendship with each other – which I know was just a product of my actions, the fact that they are both at the same place in life and their schedules lined up much easier with each other. I was sad that they were working out together the whole time while I was staying out of the gym to try to benefit this infertility process.

 

Both of these girls are amazing friends and I don’t know what I would do without them; it’s hard knowing that I have been pushing them away for so long and the effect it has had on our friendships. I approached my best friend a few weeks ago, on a particularly low day and burst into tears, telling her that I was worried that I was losing her, that I knew it was my fault, but I had absolutely no idea how to make things better because I was so wrapped up in this infertility bullshit. She assured me that she wasn’t going anywhere, that she was still my person, and that we could work it out. Since then, I have been putting forward a better effort to be a better friend and be there for her, as much as she has been for me.

 

Just this week, I spoke to my other friend while we were working a shift together. It was hard because she’s not as outwardly with her emotions and it was difficult to get her to really open up and be honest with her feelings. I knew I had hurt her with my actions and really wanted to sincerely apologize so that we could begin moving forward and getting back to where we used to be.

 

I have another friend who is long distance, she lives about 4 hours away from me and we only see each other 2-3 times a year. Again, since I have been so wrapped up in my own shit and have become reclusive, I have let our friendship down. Another failure of mine. When in a cycle I internalize everything and it’s hard for me to open up. I’m physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted all of the time and have very little energy for anything. I’ve allowed this to keep me from reaching out as much as I should, and that’s not right or fair to her. Since we don’t see each other very often, I need to be making my best effort. It’s been obvious that I’ve upset her too, so I have been making more of an effort to reach out to her and keep in touch.

 

Infertility sucks. It’s hard to navigate. Half of the time I don’t know my own feelings and yet I’ve put expectations on others to be able to navigate them when they’re around me. How is that fair?  I have started working on me again lately, and with that, working on who I am as a wife, a friend, and a co-worker. Let’s hope I can stop letting people down, because, honestly, I want these people to still be in my life when this infertility journey is over; I have sacrificed so much during this journey and I don’t want these relationships to be on that list.

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The new plan.

First off, an update since my last post.

My last cycle came to an official end on Dec 31. I took this as a symbol of a fresh start with the new year – see you never fucking again 2016!! Hello 2017!

 I could feel the hormones wear off as the days passed and I got back to the gym a little bit which has helped incredibly with my mental health. That last cycle was a real bitch. I was most affected by side effects from the medication; from feeling the mood swings from hormones to having the skin on my neck blister and peel from the Viagra. It was awful but it’s what we do when we want something oh so much!

So finally, two weeks after starting birth control I made the call to our RE to find out the next step for us to take. As much as I had wanted to know our plan earlier, I needed time. Time to get my hormones levelled out, to get my head straight and to just chill the fuck out. I hadn’t even cried since finding out that our pregnancy was a chemical pregnancy and that it was ending again, I had shoved it all so deep down that although the emotions always seemed to feel right at the surface, they seemed to stay buried.

That changed the day I called the clinic. I had left a message for the receptionist to let her know that we had an early loss (my monitoring is completed at a different clinic in an entirely different city) and I was calling with regards to getting a plan in place for moving forward. She called back the next day looking for clarification and informed me that the last beta she had on my file was only 9 so it wasn’t a chemical nor was it an early miscarriage as 9 is technically a negative result. She went on to say that for it to be a chemical pregnancy, my beta would have needed to have at least gotten into the double digits. I quickly explained to her that my earlier betas HAD gotten into the double digits and that my beta of 9 was the final bloodwork I had completed before stopping meds.

You want to know how she replied? (you really don’t as I know anyone reading this blog is going to find this as awful of a response as I did)

“…Bummer.”

No joke.

She proceeded to ask if I wanted an appointment with the RE or if I just wanted him to write up another protocol and send it over. I quickly tried to ask for an appointment and say goodbye before hanging up as I could barely keep it together. I bawled – a big, heaving, ugly, sobbing cry. My phone immediately starting ringing again and I saw that she was calling back but there was no way I could answer so I let it go to voicemail. Then she called again, right after. I thought maybe she had realized what she had done and was calling to apologize. I listened to the voicemail and it said that she had just gotten a call after we hung up (it must have been her very next call because she was calling me back within 2 minutes) with a cancellation for 930am the next day and was wondering if I could make it as it is in the city 2 hours away. I immediately contacted my boss to take the day off and called her back to take the appointment.

I worked until midnight that night and was rather tired from my big sobfest but was up at 5am the next day to catch the bus, which took me to the train, which got me to the subway system that took me two blocks from the clinic. I made it a half hour early and waited in the waiting room with a number of other patients. I usually have no problem driving to the clinic; however, we had a solid 24+ hours of freezing rain and didn’t want to get my car into an accident on the busy highways.

My RE came out to the waiting room to get me himself and sat with me for over half an hour as we discussed our next plan. He’s amazing and every time I see him, I’m reminded of that. My RE cares about me and that alone means the world to me. He even told me that he wants to get me pregnant because he wants me to get him out of my life as soon as possible. He also told me that I’m a tough project for him – which is par for any kind of medical issues that I’ve had and I always hear this from Doctors; I kind of find it entertaining now, especially since I know he’s working super hard to finish this project. Between the afternoon that I got the last minute cancellation to the next morning at 0930am, my RE had met with the head Embryologist and his team to come up with a new plan for me and get new ideas.

He is still trying to avoid using Neupogen in my cycles so the plan we have moving forward is this:

  • They will be trying to mimic a natural cycle (which I have never had)
  • As I am on BC now, I will continue to take it for the usual 21 days and stop and have a bleed
  • I will call in my CD1
  • On CD3 I will start Menopur 75 units for 11 days (dose may be adjusted based on FSH levels)
  • Somewhere between CD3 – CD6 I will have an Endometrial Scratch done
  • After 11 days on Menopur, he will jack up the dose to 300 units for 3 days
  • I will then take 10,000 units of HCG
  • Three days later I will start on 50mg (1cc) of PIO shots
  • On day four of PIO, I will have another Matris Ultrasound to check the receptivity of my endometrial lining
  • On day four, I will also start 5 days of Medrol (corticosteroid)
  • If my Matris score is between 6-10, on day six of the PIO shots I will have the transfer

I have been fully warned that this may not work as there is no way to know how my endometrial lining will respond to these medications. He was worried that perhaps the Viagra is only creating a cosmetic effect for my lining; therefore, although it is getting thick enough the quality might be suffering. I had suggested the scratch, which he was supportive of, as well as Prednisolone but he was hesitant to us it. He has prescribed a different corticosteroid, Medrol, for the days surrounding the transfer.

Fingers crossed for this upcoming cycle. Let’s hope we’ve found the right steps to make it a successful one!

FET Cycle #1 – 2dp5dt

Thank you all for the good luck wishes…it seems to have helped!

On Friday, my husband and I awoke at 7am to get ready for the day. We were asked to arrive at the clinic in the city for 10:30, so due to morning traffic, we thought it would be best to leave by 7:50 to ensure we would not be stressed out by any traffic jams. We arrived in good time, getting to the clinic minutes after 10am. After checking in, we sat in the waiting room and spent time people watching.

My acupuncturist had hooked me up with another acupuncturist in the city so that I could have a treatment on the day of transfer and it turns out that they have a good working relationship with the clinic so they come in and do a pre and post transfer acupuncture session. Once she arrived, we introduced ourselves and she took control of everything from that point on. As this was our first ever transfer, she let them know that we were having acupuncture done and got us all set up in a recovery chair. The nurse gave my husband and I directions to put on the procedure gowns but explained it by saying – just do it like last time. I had to explain to her that although we’re doing a frozen embryo transfer, we have never done a (fresh) transfer before. She then stated, well – then it’s just the same as when you had the egg retrieval done. Again, I had the pleasure of explaining that we have never been through an egg retrieval as we had to use donor eggs right off the bat. She apologized and finally took the time to walk us through everything in the manner she should have in the first place.

Following the minor hiccup, the acupuncturist talked me through some deep breathing exercises and then proceeded to start the acupuncture treatment. I had needles from the top of my head to the top of my foot but I found it to be extremely relaxing.I had also finished the mandatory 1 liter of water that needed to be ingested 1 hour prior to the appointment…so I REALLY had to pee at this point. I said to my husband, who was waiting with me, that due to the acupuncture and the strong desire to pee myself – I really didn’t have any mental capacity left over to worry about what was about to happen. We were still feeling uncertain that my lining was even ready for the transfer so we had been just keeping our fingers crossed for the last few days.

After having the needles in for approx. 25 minutes, the acupuncturist removed them and left to wait in the waiting room until we were ready for our post treatment. Unfortunately, once the needles were out – I REALLY REALLY had to pee and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The nurse gave me permission to have a little pee – just one cup. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to just let it ALL out; however, I followed the strict orders. The relief lasted maybe five minutes before the immense pressure was back…

The clinic was running a little bit behind, something you never want to hear when you have to pee so badly but thankfully my Doctor was telling the nurse that he HAD to be out of the office by noon so they couldn’t delay much longer. I knew I loved this Doctor for a reason, haha!

They took us back to the procedure room after my husband and I had donned our trendy gowns, caps and booties (socks for me). It was funny watching my husband getting all squeamish as he does NOT do well with anything medical really… We sat chatting while the ultrasound nurse checked that my bladder was full, which it absolutely was and thankfully she agreed. Then we waited for the doctor to arrive. It was funny, they have this little fogged glass window in the room that leads directly to the embryo lab so they just open the window and request the embryo needed. The Doctor told me we had a grade 5 blastocyst which apparently is really good! He inserted the catheter and the speculum and before we knew it, they were handing us a printed out photo of the embryo in my uterus!

After a few minutes, they walked me back to the recovery area where I had to wait 5-10 minutes before I could go pee and gave me my medication instructions while I was waiting. I am to continue on will all of my meds as usual (prenatal vitamins, Vitamin B complex, Estrace tablets vaginally 3x/day, Edometrin Vaginal suppositories 2x/day,  Estrogen patch 100mg every other day, Progesterone In Oil 50mg 1/day). I lasted about 6 minutes before running to the washroom and it was possibly the longest pee of my life. Once my bladder was empty, the acupuncturist proceeded to complete my post-procedure treatment and a half hour later I was free to go!
I have strict instructions to do as little as possible for the weekend and I’m considering taking an extra day off on Monday just in case. My husband has been taken great care of me and taking on all of the extra duties around the house for a few days. The hardest part of this is not cuddling with my puppy on the couch as she is a 140lb furnace when she cuddles and I’m to avoid any excess sources of heat as my body temperature tends to run a little high anyway. Other than that, we have instructions not to have sex for two weeks, no baths – only showers, and to return to the clinic on Oct 11th for the pregnancy test.

I am officially PUPO and I must say it’s a super weird feeling. While relaxing all weekend I have been over analyzing every twinge I feel. I’m not really excited right now but a little bit of hope is starting to blossom….

FET Cycle #1

So I started this post nearly two weeks ago, as a significant amount of time has passed, it will be a long one that will cover the entire period of time…

So I’m just over a week past CD1 of our first ever FET. I called the clinic last Thursday to call in my CD1 and to let them know I had gotten my period on the previous evening. I was scheduled for a baseline ultrasound and bloods the following morning – thankfully, my day off. At the clinic, the nurse informed me that my lining was currently at 5mm! I see this as being good as last time it was only three. Once I got home; however, I started thinking that since I was still bleeding heavily, it’s most likely that the measurement will go down before my lining starts to build up again.

The nurse called me that afternoon to instruct me to start my medication the next morning. I am to take Viagra 4x/day (vaginally) to help with blood flow to the uterus. I am also wearing an Estrogen patch, 100mg that I replace every 2 days. I am also taking the low dose Aspirin 81mg daily, along with the pre-natal vitamins, Vitamin E and Vitamin B Complex.

I started attending acupuncture appointments again and my acupuncturist has been extremely supportive and caring. She has me going in every 3 days or so and is doing what she can to help blood flow to my uterus in hopes that it will be more responsive this time. She has also been trying to reduce some of the side effects I have been having from the Viagra. Oh my – the nausea has been pretty consistent, along with the headaches and random bouts of becoming very flush.

I had a nine days before my next lining check and it measured at 6.6mm. Again, they called me a few hours after the ultrasound to tell me to continue taking all of the same meds as my Doctor wants my lining to be thicker. I was still struggling with the Viagra side effects pretty badly so I was frustrated that they were extending that one longer than expected. I was asked to return two days later for my next lining check.

I drove the 50 minutes to my monitoring clinic at 6am so that I could return back to work for 8. While I was getting the trans-vaginal ultrasound, the nurse told me that she had two measurements coming in over 7mm, and one measurement even thicker than that. I shed a few tears as I had prepared myself for bad news but hadn’t expected to hear something positive! Unfortunately, she had the other ultrasound tech come in to double check and I could tell something was amiss. She left the room and after I changed, I walked out and found three of them conferring with one another. The first nurse came to me and told me that it seems my lining was only measuring closer to 6mm. I left stunned and headed to work. They then directed me to add Estrace tablets 3x/day and stop taking the Viagra.

Another four days pass before my next check but the nurse had that morning told me my lining was again measuring above 7. I explained what had happened at my previous appointment but she assured me that all of her measurements were coming in thick enough. Afterwards, the called to tell me to start taking my Progesterone in Oil shots (25mg/day) for three days. I was then to increase the POI dose to 50mg and begin taking Endometrine vaginal suppositories 2x/day.

So that was last Saturday. I have been taking all of my meds & vitamins, eating healthy, going to acupuncture, using a heating pad and getting light exercise. I am now sitting here the night before transfer, hoping that tomorrow morning – after driving two hours to the clinic in the city – my lining will actually be thick enough and of good enough quality to follow through with our scheduled transfer. I hope that tomorrow night, I start my two week wait and can be considered PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise). Fingers crossed….. I’ll let you know.

Wish me luck xo

Normalizing IVF & Egg Donation

As we have navigated rather blindly through this IVF with Egg Donor process, we have had many conversations about telling our hopefully future child about how they came to be in this world. My husband was always under the impression that he wanted to tell him/her when they are older and mature enough to understand; whereas, I had always considered telling him/her when they were still a child. After speaking with our donor and her husband, our counsellor and others along the way, we have decided that we are going to work hard at normalizing this egg donation process; with our future child, as well as those around us.

Our future child will know from the very beginning that it takes three things to make a baby – sperm, and egg, and a uterus; and unlike some other families – I was not able to provide both the egg and the uterus. We will be open with our friends in our endeavour to normalize our situation as it is our hope that by the time they are 12+ years old – they will be at peace with how they came into this world. Although I do not have a genetic tie to our children, I am hopeful that I will be able to carry our child to term and that will be the bond that will make us inseparable. Genetics only play a small role in the big picture and although I will never be able to look at our future child(ren) and pick out which features are from me, I will be able to pick out which facial expressions he/she has learned from me, or how we laugh, or how caring and loving he/she will be. It will come down to nurturing our child(ren) and watching how he/she develops emotionally and mentally. I hope I will see myself in how caring she/he is for others, how they are inclusive of the other kids when they play, and have a huge heart that they want to share with the world; because with that, it won’t matter one bit that my freckles, or my family’s height (I’m 6’3″), or my blue eyes weren’t passed on. Not one bit.

MOTHER

One in SIX couples struggle with infertility these days and before we know it, our children’s classrooms will be filled with little boys and girls that were created with the assistance of one form of fertility treatment or another. We need to take the shame out of infertility so that the shame is not passed down for our children to carry. If we work at normalizing IVF and donor required reproduction we take the advantage away from future bullies and from people who just don’t understand.

So for us, we will normalize our journey from the very beginning and our future child(ren) will have nothing to be ashamed of. They will have full knowledge of their beginning and it can be a part of their self identity; which we will teach them to foster and love for all that it is. #noshame #infertilityawareness #eggdonor

The talk.

I have read over and over that the journey in TTC can be very isolating and I never realized how utterly true those words are until recently when I began to self reflect on my relationship with one of my closest girlfriends. I have been lying to myself for quite some time now, telling myself that we haven’t been drifting apart….that I haven’t been pulling away. It has been just that though, a lie.

Things have recently come to a head – not in terms of a fight or argument – but in terms of both of us recognizing and vocalizing that something needs to change and that we need to talk. So here we are with plans to sit down for a heart to heart. It couldn’t be more needed but I am also dreading it. I hate conflict and I hate hurting others… not that I plan to say anything hurtful but I find that being honest about my feelings may cause some self reflection of her own that she may not be expecting. I’m scared I won’t be able to sort out my thoughts and feelings into the right words when the time comes and I may do more damage than good so I’m going to try to list things here in semi-point-form….

  • I admit that I have been pulling away in our relationship but sometimes it can be so hard when she is so involved in her role as a mother…I LOVE her children and am godmother to one; however, our time is no longer ours – it is always theirs and I feel as though I am encroaching on that. It is not that I blame her or them, it is how things should be between a mother and her children but I, as a priority, am lower on the list. At times when it is just the two of us – we are running errands or doing crafts or other things that she is making time for.
  • When we hang out in a group setting or with any other mother, I can participate in approx. 15% of the conversations; the rest being about parenthood and children. I always eventually find myself in the proverbial corner sitting silently. However, who the hell am I to say that they shouldn’t be talking about the most important things in their lives?!
  • Things have been said to me that I have held onto – hoping that time will pass and I will get over it; seeing as how I hate conflict and making others feel bad. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and the words have stuck with me and eat away at me and I have let them build into bitterness. “Why don’t you just adopt?” “Oh, just wait until you have kids and you’ll understand!” and in moments of her own frustration toward her wonderful son “Oh, I bed you just can’t WAIT to have a toddler….” FYI – I really really can’t. These are just some of the things that have stuck with me over the past few years but there have been a number of them; including, many many instances of her complaining about: lack of sleep due to her kids, messy house due to kids, general behavioural frustrations regarding her kids, etc. It is beyond hard to hear these things when wallowing in my own self pity of not having any children of my own.
  • She has absolutely no understanding of the fact that everything to do with my journey is always running through my head. I may be able to distract myself at times but at some point throughout the day, if not the majority of my day, I will be thinking about having kids, wanting kids, and this TTC journey in general. She has no idea how much yearning, jealousy and bitterness I feel as I scroll through the endless FB announcements, walk past the children at the gym or around town, go to baby showers, or meeting friends’ new babies. Has no notion of how it feels to have your stomach drop to your feet, to feel that all to familiar lump in your throat and tears well up in your eyes. Again, by no means am I stating that I am not happy for my friends – I am over the moon for them – but my feelings need to be accounted for as well. And it’s crushing. When you don’t know how that feels – how can anyone possibly understand?
  • So yes, I am feeling isolated. Yes, I am withdrawing for self-preservation. Yes, I am having a hard time accepting where our friendship lies because I’m going through one of the hardest journeys of my life to date….and I need my best friend.

 

If ANYONE out there has any advice on how to have such a heart to heart with someone whom you dearly love but just doesn’t understand – I am all ears.

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Today, I almost quit the Internet.

I pride myself on being quite self-aware.  I do my best to reflect on my actions and my words before going forward; a practice not demonstrated by many, it seems.

Since the rise of the Internet,  many individuals have been handed a platform to wave their flags of idiocy,  bigotry,  racism,  intolerance and ignorance proudly. A place for people to hide behind a screen and a keyboard while they type said opinions with a perception of anonymity; uncaring of whomever they may offend. A place where children and teens are bullied mercilessly because it seems that the fear of being punched in the face as a repercussion for the words that come out of their mouth no longer exists behind the safety of a screen. A place where people air out dirty laundry,  know no boundaries and share every injustice they perceive to have encountered (yes,  I see the irony here).

Lately I have struggled more and more with those individuals and their actions. I have taken to not reading comments following articles or on social media (unless directly related to someone I know). I have chosen to remove people from my life should they prove to not exercise restraint or show the ability to be compassionate towards others’ situations.

I made the mistake a few days ago to read comments following an article about IVF funding in Ontario. In October, it was announced that approx. 5,000 people will receive funding for one round of IVF, not including medications. The day I heard this news, I couldn’t stop smiling, crying, shaking and smiling some more. The timing just seemed to be right for us as we have been meeting with Doctors and completing our screenings. This to me was a sign. The provincial government gave themselves two months to figure out the details; stating that funding would start to roll out in December 2015. I called our clinic immediately to be placed on the waiting list as we were hoping that by the time they called us, our donor would be done breastfeeding her child and we would be able to move forward with the process.

A couple of days before Christmas, it was announced that details still hadn’t been confirmed but it seemed as though individuals looking for IVF would either be entered into a lottery or triaged. This didn’t sit well with me… our lottery luck (or significant lack-there-of) has proven itself repeatedly over the years and my condition isn’t technically deteriorating (can it even get worse when you’re completely lacking the required eggs?). So again that leaves us stressing about the financial aspects of this process. As previously stated, I scrolled down through the comments of the article and couldn’t have regretted the decision more. Everyone commenting was making statements about how IVF shouldn’t be funded, how if people can’t naturally conceive they should be adopting, how we don’t deserve funding because being infertile is not life threatening or threatening our well being. What a joke. Tell me to my face that I don’t deserve to experience the joy of having a family of my own. Tell me to my face that my infertility doesn’t affect my personal wellbeing. Tell me to my face how you can look at yourself while spewing your ignorance and hate to virtually anyone who will listen.

I was FURIOUS but I was at work and had our employee Christmas party immediately following so I plastered a smile on my face and made it through the night. The following day, I was an emotional wreck, the state in which I remained for a solid 24 hours before I got off the couch, brushed myself off and focused on the holiday season that was upon us. On Christmas Eve, those feelings returned when I saw a post on Facebook from someone in the ‘Mom Club’.

I call it the ‘Mom Club’ as my generation of moms on Facebook have managed to present as a united front, an exclusive club where they post things that clearly only other mothers will understand with the required accompanying caption “To all of the mommas <3”

These posts have been getting to me lately as I read it as “But not for you…. you’re still not a momma” and that hurts a little bit more every time. However, on this particular evening, one of the ‘Mommas’ posted this:

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And I almost quit the internet.