The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
~Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor

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I know that I have not updated this blog in a pretty long time. I feel like I have had a lot on my plate between working two jobs, and juggling a barrage of attacks on my personal life, and on my home. I’ve had some hard times lately, but we have also had some great things going on in our life. So for now, I’m going to bring you, “The good, the bad and the ugly.” However, since I am a rebel, I will do this out of order. I think it will be most important to leave this post on a high note.

The Bad:

I have not been around my blog much.

Or at all.

I try to remind myself that this blog has been so helpful in my healing process…but for a long while, I felt pretty down. It was easier to stay optimistic while we were doing our IUI treatments both before and after my surgery.

Surgery was terrifying in so many ways, but we got through it because we were doing something that may have made a difference. But then, it didn’t really help.

I never got pregnant.

My endometriosis was officially diagnosed and I wasn’t quite stage two…and that was great news. But it didn’t matter.

Our IUI attempts failed because, as the doctor said, because of the endometriosis.

Once our fifth one didn’t work, I posted about IVF being our “best” chance. I always try to be an optimist, so I put this news in a good light. However IVF isn’t really our best chance. It’s our last chance. And we can’t really afford it.

We are trying. I put away every extra cent we have. But we purchased a small fixer upper a year and a half ago. Back when we were truly convinced IUI would work and we would soon have a baby to fill our second bedroom.

Our home is modest. Two bedrooms and one bathroom. Two small bedrooms. One very small bath. We were sensibile. It was our first home. We don’t need much.

But it’s a fixer upper. Though a child never came, the house was ours. We had to eventually get on with the “fixing” unless we wanted the house to fall apart. The “fixing” costs money.

The Ugly:

The same week we found out we needed IVF, our AC broke. Like…really broke. Our compressor blew out. For those of you in the know…that’s the most expensive part to repair in a central HVAC system. And before you ask…it’s less than five years old. That’s part of why we bought the house. Newer AC. 

Not so much…

Because of generous donations from our GoFundMe backers, we now have a small IVF savings account. That money is untouchable, but we had hoped to add our own money to it. But our home woes have only allowed me to add about $1050.00 to that savings.

The Really Ugly:

Oh, and did I mention I needed an emergency root canal but my dental insurance has already been used up for the year? So that’s costing us a pretty penny now, too. Dental insurance is a joke, by the way. 😦

I’m trying not to just whine and complain, but I’m frustrated and I feel like everything is just stalled right now. We don’t know when we will be starting IVF, and I think that’s left me in a state of helplessness about my reproductive chances. It makes me feel like I don’t have any control over my Infertility (not that I did anyway).

I feel like this post was super negative, so I want to leave it on a more positive note.

The Good:

Our quaint little fixer up was  desperately in need of a new kitchen when we bought the house. My dad is a retired carpenter, and so I was thrilled that he wanted to help me build the kitchen. I only had to pay for materials, which dramatically cut the costs of a new kitchen, and we finally (almost) finished the kitchen a few weeks ago.

Before:

 
After:


We still want to replace the fridge (not pictured) and our gas range with stainless steel appliances, and we have a light switch cover or two to purchase, and a few drawer pulls to install; but for the most part this kitchen is done. And what a difference it made! I am beyond thrilled with the outcome.

It is so exciting to see something that I designed come together so beautifully. When I picked each piece: the shaker style cabinets, the counter tile, the back splash, the cabinet color – I had no idea if it would really all work. Obviously, my father’s expertise in carpentry was super helpful, and so he was able to dictate the functionally of each cabinet (the corner cabinets are beautiful, and huge, and deep…and did I mention the Lazy Susan?). That massive farmhouse sink is my favorite part of the entire design, and I think everything else works because it feeds off of that central focal point.

There are a lot more details of the new kitchen that these photos don’t highlight, but I’m hoping to save some of the reveal for once things are a bit more finished.

A Little More Good:

Remember that big trip to Europe my husband and I decided to take before IVF for our own mental health, to give us something to look forward to, and for the good of our relationship? Well, that is still happening…soon. Really soon. I felt a bit guilty planning this trip when I know how desperately we need money for IVF, but at some point I knew we just had to do this. We have been battling infertility for going on four years. I have had some of the lowest times of my entire life during our struggle. For years, nothing has mattered more to me than getting pregnant. I have had nothing to look forward to but a positive pregnancy test. I’m sure that at some point this behavior became unhealthy, but I didn’t know what to do to break the painful cycle.

Only a month or so after deciding to go on the trip, I knew it was the right decision, no matter the cost. Every day I had something to look forward to, that wasn’t contingent on my uterus. Every day I had something to plan. I searched for all the best deals on hotels, airfares, sleeper trains. I even booked a few tours. Did you know that you can go INSIDE Buckingham Palace if you happen to come in the late summer/early fall period when the Queen is away! I’m going INSIDE Buckingham Palace.

Things like this have really tickled me.

It sounds melodramatic to say that planning this trip reminded me of the importance of living life to the fullest, but it’s true. When going through hell for so many years, it can make a person question what life is really all about, and if there is even a point to any of it. I can say now, without a doubt, that I can now see a point in living. Even if that life is doomed to be forever childless.

Well, this novel of a post has gotten away from me. I guess that’s what happens when I stay away for months at a time.

I’ll try not to stay away so long the next time.

~Sam

Weathering the Storm

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~Haruki Murakami

 

It’s always difficult for me to remain upbeat in the face of overwhelming adversity.

I’ve had a pretty difficult week.

Mark and I had a great time vacationing in Pennsylvania last week, and I was looking forward to coming home and enjoying three restful days off before going back to work. Things did not really go as planned.

  • The day we came home, I started to experience some discomfort in my back teeth. While not pleasant, it also wasn’t overly painful.
  • We came back from vacation and walked straight into a swelteringly hot house, to discover that our AC was broken.
  • The next morning I woke up to discover that my period had started, and our fifth IUI had been a failure. My tooth pain had also substantially worsened. Eating was now a bit more painful.
  • Our friend who was coming to look at our AC got held up elsewhere, and wouldn’t be able to come by until the next afternoon. We had a second hot night sleeping in the bonus room in front of our tiny window unit AC.
  • Thursday, my tooth pain was almost unbearable. I called my endodontist and made an appointment for a root canal that I was hoping to put off a bit longer (because I just got one a few weeks ago and we really don’t have the money for another one right away).
  • We discovered that IVF is pretty much our only hope to conceive a child.
  • Our friend came and looked at our AC and it was more broken than he could repair. We called a repair company, and they agreed to come in the morning.
  • The next morning, my tooth pain was worse, and accompanied by jaw, head, neck, and face pain. I went to urgent care.
  • I have a “massive sinus infection” that has spread into my ears, also giving me an ear infection. I’ve apparently been sick for quite a while and just didn’t realize it because I get chronic sinus infections. Sometimes, I just don’t realize I’m sick until it’s too late.

I still had one day off work, so I decided to come home and rest.

Hey good news: our AC was fixed while I was at the doctor’s.

Bad news: It was not cheep…really really or cheep.

I woke Saturday, and knew immediately that I couldn’t go to work. Despite being on antibiotics for over 24 hours, I was worse and not better. I called in sick…missing an unplanned day off of work in the face of mounting unexpected expenses.

My puppy took good care of me, giving me snuggles all day.


I woke up finally feeling a bit better Sunday and even thought I’d be able to work. However, my tooth throbbing was still pretty bad, as was my ear ache. I took my antibiotics on an empty stomach (not having much of an appetite with the tooth pain) and that turned out to be a big mistake. The strong antibiotics made me sick and I forced down some yogurt and sliced turkey. After I ate, I was dizzy (thanks earache) and had a slamming head ache.

So, I called in sick to work…again. I used some of my paid time off this time, which I hate to do, since I try to keep it for emergencies. I didn’t really have much of a choice. Mark and I are already stressed about money and the cost from the AC, the root canal, and upcoming IVF.

I was finally able to go back to work on Monday and Tuesday, but it was a difficult couple of days. I have never been more excited that I was when I left work Tuesday and headed to the dentist.

The root canal was probably the highlight of my week, because once he numbed me up, I finally had relief from the awful throbbing ache. Tooth pain in no joke, guys. Because of the severity of the decay, and the infection, he put me on pain killers. I went home, managed to get some food down (and a milkshake) and slept for most of the night.

Wednesday, I was finally feeling a bit better, and my husband and I decided to take advantage of that by going on a date. We went to breakfast and checked out Guardians of the Galaxy. It was awesome, and after the week we had, I think we both needed the distraction.

It was a tough week, but I got through it. I’m glad I had two days off right in the middle of the week, but I have no grand illusions that the next few days will be any easier. Mother’s Day is coming, and even knowing that breaks my heart. It isn’t an easy day for me, no matter how much I try to put on a brave face.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day cleaning the house, making a nice budget friendly meal plan, shopping, and doing a bit of meal prep. Date day aside, we really have to tighten up our finances. IVF is really far out of our price range, but since we are not giving up, we just have to figure it out.

Have a great Thursday!

~Sam

 

 

All I Want For My Birthday…

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”
~Robert Browning

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The only thing I want for a birthday gift is a positive pregnancy test; the only thing I want is a baby. The only thing I have wanted for some years now, is a baby.

I tried to make a bigger deal of this birthday than I really wanted to, for my friends and family who love me. I told Mark I didn’t care at all if we didn’t celebrate…but he wanted to celebrate me. I guess that’s romantic. And I get it.

Mark’s birthday is one of my favorite days of the year…because it’s the day he was born. That day (that came a few years before I was even conceived) is the day my other and much better half came into existence. I love that he wants to celebrate my life in the same way that I always want to celebrate his life.

I took four days off work (both my regular job and my freelance job), and though we didn’t actually do much, I’ll admit that the downtime was healthy.

We went to Universal Studios on Thursday to meander a bit at Harry Potter World. Traffic was terrible, and the lines were outrageous thanks to spring break, so we didn’t even go on any rides.

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We drank Butterbeer, ate some British food at the Leaky Cauldron, and got the most ridiculous milkshake either of us had even eaten at the new Chocolate Emporium at the way out of the park.

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We met my parents for a teppanyaki dinner at a nearby Japanese Steakhouse. This is easily one of my favorite types of food, but the best part is that the meal comes with a show! My husband is always endlessly excited by that part. 🙂

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On Friday, we finished ripping the tile out of our kitchen to expose the remainder of the terrazzo flooring (we refinished what was under the carpet when we closed on the house last March). We won’t buff, wax, or seal the floor until we install the new cabinets in a few months. Though it was hard work, and not the way I usually prefer to spend St. Patrick’s day, it was so awesome to finally check this huge project off the list.

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Saturday (my actual birthday) we had my parents, and few friends over (and one super cute baby) for a cookout. Since I’m not really drinking, we made fun nerdy beverages instead of booze. I made Butterbeer, and my friend Tina made some awesome pumpkin juice.

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Sunday, I hit the local Renaissance Faire for a few hours. It was a bit windy and dusty, but I always love a good Ren Faire. I picked up an awesome hand drawn map of Middle Earth for my office, got Mark a super cool clay shot glass (he was at work), and even bought one of the “Official” shirts.

Probably the best part was catching up with a friend who owns a jewelry company. She travels the country doing Renaissance Faires, and conventions, while making her own jewelry. She is amazing!

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After the faire, I came back home and got a bit of work done once my parents headed back home. I’m a bit bummed to have to go back to work so soon, but the distraction is probably for the best.

Tomorrow morning I have my ultrasound for our fourth IUI attempt. I wish I could muster up some of the optimism that I had last month, but it is failing me. I feel defeated. Actually, I already feel like this journey is over. At this point, I am just waiting on the last two rounds to finish so we can start IVF. I have zero hope left that IUI will ever be successful. I don’t know how we will manage IVF, but it’s the last hope I have at this point.

The positivity didn’t come all at once last time. Who knows, maybe I will find my way back to that peaceful place before the IUI.

~Sam

I’m Still Here

“I’m still standing here for us
still trying…”

~Bleeker Ridge – Still Standing 

 

Gosh! I might just be the world’s worst blogger. 

When I first started this blog, I had so much of our story left to share. I was behind and played a lot of catch up to help get all my feelings out and to make my story current. 

It took a few months, but I finally caught up just in time for my surgery last month. 

Since then, I have not said much. 

Partially because I am working almost nonstop. I started a new freelance job that I love, but that keeps me super busy combined with my full time job. 

But I think I also have not posted because I don’t have much to say. I am still healing post surgery and we won’t start treatments again until late February. 

I don’t know yet what will happen. Maybe the surgery helped and I am now more fertile. Maybe it didn’t and I’m not. 

Either way, it doesn’t make for interesting posts. 

But I’m still here, and we are still trying. 

I’ll leave you with our first photo together of the new year. 

  

You may notice, we are still as in love as ever. 

Thanks for reading. 

~Sam

Stress Eating 

 “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like…”
~Mark Twain

 
From what I have read, heard from other infertile couples, or have been told by my doctor, many women gain weight while trying to conceive. This seems to be from hormone treatments, stress, lack of excersize, or a multitude of other factors. 

I actually started losing weight, pretty much as soon as we started treatment. Don’t misunderstand me here. During our first year and a half of TTC, I gained quite a bit of weight. I started to hate my body, and I got really down on myself. I didn’t need that on top of everything else we were going through, so I started doing the 21 Day Fix. Portion control, more than the workouts, was what I was most able to stick with. I saw some progress, but not that much. 

Once we started with clomid in September, however, the weight started to fall off. I’ve not been eating well, but I think substantially less. When I get upset, especially if I cry, I lose my appetite for hours. That, combined with the fact that stress usually makes me lose weight (I lost 15 pounds in college, instead of gaining it) meant that my pants were suddenly not fitting. 

So why am I mentioning this now? 

I mean, I guess it is definitely something to note about our infertility experience, but I think the reason I am bringing it up is because I am certainly eating now. 

For the last few days I have been eating junk, and a lot of it. We ordered a TON of Chinese take out for dinner Friday. 

I had a fried chicken sandwich with egg and cheese for breakfast on Saturday (it was amazing, by the way). 

I then proceeded to eat leftover Chinese for the next two nights worth of dinners. 

Last night, I ate velveta shells and cheese, with frozen pizza, and a Caesar salad.   

This morning on my lunch break at work, I ate dumplings and Panang curry, rice, and veggies. 

I got home around two and ate a hot pocket, three pickle spears, and half a bag of pickle chips.   

I just ate Top Ramen for dinner…

I would say that I am actually probably  stress eating. 

I’m not gonna worry about it. I mean, this surgery terrifies me, and if this is how I’m gonna cope this time around; so be it. 

I hope my stomach will understand. 

I think I should probably eat salad tomorrow…though I do have leftover dumplings at work. 😉

I’m stressed and anxious, but if you can believe it, I’m actually in pretty high spirits. I am feeling so inundated with love and support right now, it’s hard to focus on anything else. So for now I’ll keep my spirits high, and eat what I want. 

~Sam

This is Us

“Surely the whole point of writing your own life story is to be as honest as you possibly can, revealing everything about yourself that is most private and probably most interesting for that very reason.”
~Judith Krantz 

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I made this little blog public on my Facebook page today, which I guess means there is no more need for anonymity.

I am overwhelmed with the response I received from sharing our story (which I had up until now kept mostly private)

This is what I posted, with a link to the blog below it:

My husband and I started trying to get pregnant about two and a half years ago, maybe a little less. Throughout that process, I have carried the weight of our infertility (mostly) alone. I didn’t even share an inkling of our struggle until May of this year, and even then, began to do so very slowly…and somewhat cryptically.

At first, I was trying to keep everything under wraps so that people wouldn’t constantly ask me if I was pregnant (something that is very painful for someone who is struggling with infertility). Eventually however, I realized that I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed that I couldn’t do something that every woman should be able to do. I felt broken, useless, and incredibly depressed.

Since going public with my infertility, I have had a few people come to me, thank me, and offer their support of our trials. This has made me realize that infertility, while very common, is still incredibly taboo. People don’t talk about it…and they should.

A few months ago, in the middle of my second IUI cycle, I started a blog. I did this anonymously, so that I could find a bit of a support system. It turns out that knowing I wasn’t alone…knowing that so many other people ache with the pain of not being able to conceive, was incredibly helpful.

So I have decided to go public with our story. I have decided to share the details of our struggle, and share the details that I published in my infertility blog.

I must warn you, that some of what you may read here is incredibly raw. I write when I am feeling hopeful, but more often, when I feel that all is lost. Please do not try to reassure me with false hope or promises that no one can guarantee. Writing has always been my therapy, and it is no surprise that it is in this as well.

If you share my story, or even if you don’t, please don’t hesitate to come to me. Ask questions, offer your support, share your own journey if you would like. I am tired of living in the darkness, and I would welcome the chance to have you walk beside me in the light.

Most of our process so far has been outlined on this site, though I do still have about two posts until we are current.

Thank you, to those of you who have reached out so far and supported us. I hope to help raise awareness to infertility by sharing our struggles, and help to show others that they are not alone.

So..I guess now it’s time to share “me.” Or “us” rather.

My name is Samantha and my amazing husband is named Mark. We have been married since August of 2012, and together since February of 2008. I’ll update my “about” section in due time, but for now I figured I could at least put faces to the names.

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This is us…

I have a million wedding photos, and engagement photos, and other professional photos that I could have shared, but for this first time I just wanted to show us…being us. This candid photo, snapped by a friend on a trip to Big Bear Mountain, has always done a pretty good job of telling the story of our life together. This photo is happiness.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I look forward to opening up and sharing more about our lives as we continue this saga.

~Sam

Playing Catch Up

“Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.”
~Paul Frank Baer

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With the chaos that has been November, I only just realized that I have not added to our infertility story in quite some time. Has it really been 21 days? Where has the month gone?

I might as well go ahead and reveal a few more personal details about myself, since I am very nearly ready to let those closest to me know about this blog. Why is the thought of going public so scary?

I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo.  It is a writing challenge that occurs every November, but the basic gist is that you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I am currently at 27,482 words (so yes, I am behind). But given that I have written 27,482 words since November 1, I should probably give myself a break for falling a bit behind on this blog.

I started writing the novel to take my mind off of our infertility for a while, though it is interesting to see that the novel has become about mental health in many ways. That wasn’t intentional, but it is an interesting development.

Next piece of personal information: I work for a grocery store. This is one of (if not the) busiest weeks of the year for us, and I am also in the middle of being transferred. Life right now is a little frustrating, but I can’t imagine how I would be feeling if I were not staying so busy.

I am going to try to post the next part of our infertility story tomorrow. I can’t believe it, but it is actually almost caught up to where I am today. Where we are now in our journey, is a place that I find to be very scary.

Though we may be riddled with uncertainty now, I will try to stay positive as we end the month. We are, after all, in the season of thanks.

I hope to find more that I am thankful for in the days that follow. I am immensely grateful for this blog, and to those of you who have reached out to us on our journey. Your presence in our life has been a welcome gift.

So to start my week of thanks, let me say that I am thanful for you.

~S