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

Waiting for Magic: Crowdfunding IVF

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”
~Ziad K. Abdelnour

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It was a really difficult decision for my husband and I to ask for help in our Infertility struggle. I know that people have many differing opinions about asking for financial assistance through sources like Indiegogo, You Caring, and Go Fund Me, and to some degree, I understand the varying viewpoints.

We recently shared our own Go Fund Me and campaign in an attempt to raise a portion of the money we will need for our IVF treatments, and it was something we spent a lot of time thinking about, and talking about, before deciding to go forward.

 

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Since posting the campaign, I have heard many differing opinions and viewpoints about crowdfunding this type of thing that are cruel, hurtful, and downright ignorant. I am lucky to say that none of these remarks have been directed at myself or my my husband, but I have seen numerous articles, forum posts, and even comments on other people’s IVF fundraising pages that made me feel like I should speak out.

I would like to take a moment to address a few of this points now, in an effort to educate and continue to raise awareness about struggling with infertility.

  1. It’s tacky to expect other people to pay for your baby: You have a right to your own opinion and if you feel that way, remember that you are in no way obligated to donate. Since going public with our Infertility struggle, friends, family members, even casual acquaintances have asked me how they can help. Well, this is one way to provide assistance to us in our struggle.
  2. People shouldn’t be sharing such personal details of their life on a public forum: If you have a problem in hearing about other people’s personal lives, try to keep in mind that this is YOUR issue and not mine. I’m happy to listen to my friends when they are in pain, and I want to be there for them to provide as much support as possible. Furthermore, infertility is still an incredibly taboo subject, despite the fact that 1 out of 8 couples suffer from this condition. Starting a conversation about this subject, and raising awareness, begins with putting a face with the name. Sharing my story has helped a lot of people in my life understand how painful and sensitive this topic is, and has helped them to better understand those who suffer. It was scary to make my story so much more personal, by announcing it on a public website like Go Fund Me, but it was also empowering. The outpouring of support we revived also made us feel so loved, which helps keep our spirits up as we face what is next.
  3. If you can’t afford IVF on you own you have no business having a baby: Come now. I would go out on a limb and say that most couples are not prepared for the financial cost involved with raising a child, but for the vast majority of them, at least getting pregnant is free. We have already invested thousands upon thousands of dollars on our infertility treatments. We know that we still have much more to pay before we can have a child, but we are trying to avoid racking up an obscene about of debt that will also serve as a constant reminder of our childlessness should our IVF attempts fail. Whether we raise the money we need it not, we are going to figure out how to finance the procedure. That being said, unsecured loans have higher interest rates, so any down payment or jump start on monthly payments will be a huge help for us. We hope that at the end of this we end up with an a baby, and that we will still have enough financial stability to be able to give our baby the life it deserves.
  4. What’s next? Are you going to expect other people to fund your medical needs if the child gets sick, or goes to college? Of course not. I put myself through college (and am still paying on that debt), and so in the worse case scenario I know that my child will be able put themselves through school should they need to. As for medical payments, my husband and I have solid jobs with good health insurance that will be able to cover all routine costs involved with our child’s healthcare. Unfortunately, our insurance (and 80% of heath insurance in this country) doesn’t cover IVF.

Infertility is not a routine medical issue. Research has discovered that women battling infertility have “emotional stress levels similar to cancer patients and cardiac rehabilitation patients.” Why then are people more sympathetic to those battling cancer or with heart issues? I’ve never heard so much criticism directed at people who start Go Fund Me pages for cancer patients. At the end of the day, regardless of the medical condition, we all just want to find our happiness and keep living. For men and woman facing infertility, having children is the only path they see going forward. Living a happy life is so intrinsically wrapped up in their ability to conceive.

At the end of the day, all I ask is that people treat us with kindness, compassion, and respect. If you don’t want to donate to my campaign, or campaigns like it, that is perfectly acceptable. No one is forcing you to, but perhaps try to keep your judgment to yourself. It’s hurtful and those of us battling infertility have enough hurt in our lives to be getting on with.

My deepest gratitude goes out to those of you who have supported our, or shared our story. You may never fully understand how much it means to us, but we will try to show our thanks as often as possible.

Thanks,

Sam

Mother’s Day Musings: 2017

“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never come.”
~David Platt

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Mother’s Day is a tricky Holiday, isn’t it?

On the one hand, I am so lucky to have had not one, but four amazing women that have been mother’s to me in my lifetime. I know that I am the person that I am today because of the influence of each and every one of them. Today is a day that I wish to celebrate those great mothers, and great mothers everywhere.

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On the other hand, our infertility struggle is coming up on four years, and this day always fills me with so much heartbreak, as it serves as a painful reminder that I am still not (and may never be) a mom.

And it isn’t just me. This day is painful to so many people for so many reasons.

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Today, I think of these brave women as well.

This holiday is also tricky, because it reinforces some kind of twisted ideal that seems to imply that women are not wonderful, whole, or complete unless they are mothers. I cannot stand when people tell me that, “I don’t understand because I’m not a mother,” or something equally as ridiculous.

No woman is better than any other woman just because they were able to conceive a child. Hell, all evidence would show that for most woman, it isn’t even that HARD to become a mother. You know what is hard? Wanting to be a mother so badly, and constantly being denied. It is hard to put on a happy face every single day and try to live a life that can still feel fulfilling and remarkable even though you are breaking more and more every day.

Becoming a mother isn’t that hard for most people. But I do think that being a good mother is difficult, and today I am so thankful for those wonderful mothers who helped make me who I am; to the fathers who must fill the roles of both wonderful dad and wonderful mom, for those women who will be wonderful mothers someday; and for those woman who are wonderful mothers of angels.

I am also thankful for those woman who may never get to be the wonderful mothers they would have been. Your strength has helped me in so many ways, and the reminder that I am not alone in my infertility makes me stronger every day.

Earlier this week, my husband and I made the decision to partially crowdfund some of our upcoming IVF expenses. It was a difficult decision, not only because we think it is hard to ask for this kind of help, but also because we know that IVF is still no guarantee. However, the love, kindness, and support that has been given to us during our battle with infertility made us both feel that we owe it to those in our support system, to let them help us if they choose.

We have been overwhelmed with the support the campaign has been given so far, not just through donations, but also just through people sharing our story with others.

All of this love and support made me feel a little better about Mother’s Day for the first time in a long time. I had the day off, and so I made the last minute decision to invite my Mother (and Dad) to join me for the weekend.

We had dinner out last night, a nice brunch at home this morning (with mimosas) and an amazing lunch of steak, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and salad, before they left to head back home.

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This is a difficult day for me, no question. But I know that this day also means something to my own Mom. Not just because she is a wonderful mother who deserves to be celebrated today, but also because her mother is no longer with us. Spending the day with her seemed like the right choice, and I’m so glad I asked her to come. It sure beats moping around the house all day while my husband works.

To all of you who read my blog, who struggle with today as well: I hope you found some small amount of joy or peace in this day. I hope you know that you are loved, that you are worthwhile, and that you are not alone.

I’m here for you,

~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

 

 

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Five

“Sometimes you gotta take a break from all the noise to appreciate the beauty of silence.”
~Robert Tew

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So, I know that I touched on this briefly in my last post, without going into very much detail. I cannot promise that I will provide many details now either, as this is a particularly difficult post to write.

Our Intrauterine Insemination chapter of this journey has come to an end, and I wish that were happy news. But it is not.

When I went in for my Ultrasound four days before the procedure, I had two nice, large follicles. We decided to wait one more day to see if one other would get bigger, so I didn’t take my shot of Ovidrel until in the following evening.

I went on for my Fifth IUI two weeks ago today. When I walked into the office that morning, it was with a complete absence of hope. I still tried my best to put on a good face. I wore my new Star Wars Jacket, and a Star Wars shirt. Even though I didn’t have any hope, I still thought Star Wars was appropriate attire for the day: A New Hope? Maybe a little would turn up after all.

It didn’t really.

Aside from an incredibly long wait both in the waiting room, and in the exam room, the IUI went well. My doctor did the procedure again and I didn’t have any cramping. We talked for a few minutes, and then I laid down for ten minutes before rejoining my husband and heading home.

The first week of the TWW was difficult, because I was working every day and just obsessing over whether or not it had worked. We knew going into this that our doctor would be willing to do just one more if this failed. However, we also knew that decision was largely up to us. Before going in, I was already contemplating skipping any further IUI procedures. I was tired, both physically and emotionally. I didn’t want to keep taking the hormones, and I didn’t want to keep crying every single day. Still, I knew we wouldn’t really make that decision until the end of this cycle.

We were away on vacation for the second week of the TWW, and that made things a little easier. We enjoyed spending time with our family and friends, and attending an amazing wedding.

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For the last day and a half of the trip, we went up to Pittsburgh, and did a bit of sightseeing in the city.

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No trip to Pittsburgh is complete with a trip to Primanti Bros, for their famous stuffed sandwiches (shown below with Kielbasa).

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The trip was lovely, and as always, was done way too soon. The good news was that we had a couple days off of work when we got home.

The bad news was that we walked inside to a broken AC…in May…in Florida.

Wednesday morning, when I woke in a very very hot house, I was cramping. My period started shortly after.

That was it. I cried for a while, before finally calling my Doctor’s assistant to leave my message. When she called me back a few hours later, she asked us if we even wanted to do another cycle. I really didn’t know, but not doing another cycle felt a whole lot like giving up.

My husband wanted to know if we could see the doctor.

Amazingly, he must have had a cancellation, he could see us the very next day. That is pretty rare.

We went in today at 2:30.

He talked to us about all of our options (which isn’t much), and explained the chance we have for conception with each procedure. And they were basically all the same…except for IVF…which has greatly increased odds of success. We also spoke briefly about the cost involved, and our financing options. It is going to cost a bit less than we had thought…but it is still a LOT of money. Money that we really don’t have.

For now, he recommended that we take a break. He thinks this whole process has been really hard on me (maybe because I cry every time he sees me?) and so he doesn’t want to do another IUI. With our low odds of success, I don’t think he believes it’s worth it. He wants to put me on something to help the pain and discomfort from the endometriosis (and to prevent the endo from getting worse), but my husband and I want to wait a couple months and try naturally for a bit. If I take medicine, I can’t get pregnant.

This is our plan for now. We want to try on our own just until we get back from our Europe trip in the summer, and then we will start IVF if we can figure out how to pay for it. Our doctor is going to have someone call us to discuss the costs involved.

I feel overwhelmed, tired, and an emotional wreck. I feel like not trying to do another round of IUI is tantamount to giving up…but I trust my doctor and his opinion. And I am so tired that I feel like we do need a break.

So this is where we are for now: Hanging in a bit of limbo, and trying to adjust to our new reality. If I’m being honest, I never really thought this would go so far. I never really thought we would need IVF. I think I just always assumed it would all work out.

So for now, I’m going to go pour myself a nice ice cold glass of wine in my sweltering hot home, and try to do something fun to keep my mind off of all this.

As always, thanks for reading.

~Sam

When Hope is Lost

“There comes a point where it all becomes too much. When we get too tired to fight anymore so we give up. That’s when the real work begins. To find hope where there seems to be absolutely none at all.”
~Grey’s Anatomy 

  
I know I have not been super active on this blog lately, and it isn’t because I have not thought about it. I still check WordPress daily and read everyone’s blogs, and keep up with the world. I just have been at a loss for what to say, so I have avoided posting or commenting. In fact, I have not even replied to the comments on my most recent post (over three weeks ago). That is something that I never do, but in truth, I just can’t find the words. 

Even now, writing this is proving to be a bit of a struggle. I have updates. I have plenty of things I could write about…but the tricky part is that I can’t seem to articulate my thoughts right now. 

I will post a proper update soon, but for now I will give you the abridged version. 

I’ve had a hard time finding hope after our last failed IUI. Despite being super excited about our upcoming trip to Europe (and various other travel plans), I can’t wrap my brain how to act now that I have given up. 

When I went in for my ultrasound on Monday, I went in with no joy or expectation. Once I heard the news about how my follicles were progressing during that ultrasound, I could find no excitement. When I went in for our fifth IUI on Thursday, I did so with zero belief that we will actually get pregnant this cycle. 

And so I think that’s why I’ve avoided making a post. I have no idea what to say, because I have no hope. I’m tired, and I’m angry, and I really really sad…but I’m not hopeful at all. 

So now we wait…but I’m not even sure what I’m waiting for. 

I’ll be traveling next week, which will hopefully keep my mind of things. I will try to find some time to share photos and stories from our adventure, so that I can bring a bit of happiness back to this blog. 

Until then, thanks for being here. 

~Sam 

Living a Different Dream for 2017

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
~Susan Sontag

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My husband and I have spent over three years trying to get pregnant. Three years waiting for two lines to appear, instead of just one; three years waiting to become a family; three years waiting for our life to begin again.

We have put everything on hold in our quest to become parents, and I think we sort of forgot along the way that we are more than our infertility. Well, maybe he didn’t.

But I did.

I am more than my uterus; more than my endometriosis.

There are a lot of other things that I always wanted for my life, other than just children, but since having kids is such a struggle for us, I just put all of my other dreams on hold.

Before we even went in for my last IUI, my husband and I made a decision. Either we would be pregnant this month, or we would go to Europe. I have wanted to travel for so much of my life, but I have never really managed to go anywhere outside of the country. After so many years of disappointments, I realized that I needed something to look forward to other than a positive pregnancy test. I needed to pick my life up, take it in my hands, and remember that there is still value in this life, even for a woman who may never have children.

The cramps woke me up yesterday morning, so severe that I knew it could only mean one thing. And sure enough, it was my period.

I cried in bed for a while, but eventually I got up, and I started booking hotels. We may not be pregnant, but we will have an adventure this year. You know what? It helped. By the end of the day, my grief had subsided, and was almost completely replaced by excitement.

We will be heading to the United Kingdom for 14 wonderful days, and I am genuinely thrilled. I hope that I will be pregnant when we go. The doctor has told us he is willing to do two more IUI procedures…so I’m hoping I’ll be pregnant. But if I’m not, I’m glad that I still have excitement in life to look forward to.

Thanks for everyone’s kind wishes during this last cycle. They always help us get through.

~Sam