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

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Four

“It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.”
~J.K. Rowling 

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I didn’t sleep well the night before my latest IUI. I tossed and turned quite a bit while trying to fall asleep, and woke up multiple time during the night. I didn’t feel anxious, but it’s probably fair to say that I was nervous. It’s so difficult to stay one hundred percent calm about a process that your entire heart is so invested in.

When I finally woke up at 7:00am, my husband was already in the shower…and it was dark. The time change really hit me hard this year, and the darkness at that time of the morning translated to gloominess. I shook off the slight feelings of nervousness and sadness, and started to get dressed. I had picked my outfit the night before, and it was somewhat inspired by my last blog post, about our ultrasound.

After everything we have gone through, I do still believe in magic, and this time around, we are looking for a little of our own magic…so I chose to dress the part.

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For our fourth IUI, I paired a black and gold maxi skirt with an “I Put a Spell on You,” tank. Once again, I wore my fertility necklace, but I also accessorized with a pair of Harry Potter earrings, and the new moonstone claddagh ring my husband gave me for my birthday.

Maybe it’s weird to care about how I dress for these procedures, but fashion makes me feel good, and I want to feel my best going into each IUI.

I was also super nauseous that morning (thank you ovidrel), so I asked my husband to drive to the appointment. My stomach was still a bit wonky, and he had a headache, so our drive in was not as cheerful as last month. Once there, we were both a bit subdued. I flipped through magazines, and he played on his phone while waiting to be called.

After he went back, I continued to relax on the couch, reading various articles about pop culture and celebrities. It was only two days ago, and I already cannot remember what I was reading, so my concentration skills were not really up to par.

Once Mark was finished, we went to grab a quick breakfast across the street, while we waited the hour for my turn to go back. It seemed to pass more quickly than usual, but I think that was simply because for the first time in a while, they did not seem to be backed up at the office.

Neither of the doctors were at the clinic that day, so my appointment was with the nurse practitioner. The medical assistant came to fetch me from the waiting room as usual, but after I got undressed and was lying down, the A.N.R.P. came into the room unescorted. I have gotten so used to the medical assistant being in the room during my procedure, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that she was only there because the doctors are both men. Since the nurse was a women, she could do the IUI alone.

She introduced herself briefly, since we had yet to meet in the year I have been coming here, before adjusting my position and back rest for comfort (something the doctors never do) and warmed the speculum (again, something no one else does). She told me that my husband’s sperm was excellent (per usual), and then we began.

I was not thrilled to discover that the cramps I had not missed from my last IUI were back with a vengeance. At one point, I even cried out in pain. I asked the nurse if my cervix was once again stenotic, but she said it wasn’t and insisted that cramps are common and, in her opinion, a good sign. She turned the lights off, and asked me to wait for ten minutes until a nurse came to get me. It was the first time I was told to wait for someone to come get me before leaving, and I therefore waited nearly 20 minutes before I was told I could leave. As usual, I was told to have sex the next day, and that my orgasm was important. I mentioned that it had been nice to meet the A.N.R.P. and the nurse who came to get me told me that she was great, and usually a good luck charm. Boy, would I love it if that were true.

The cramping didn’t stop when I left the office, and so Mark drove home as well. We stopped at Best Buy to grab “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” because I had planned to relax on the couch and watch movies. Sadly, we had the release date wrong, and cannot actually buy the movie until Tuesday. 😦 I got a few things anyway (“Twister,” and Season five of “The Big Bang Theory”), and we headed home.

Thankfully, by the time we got home I was feeling a bit better, though fairly tired from the pain. Both hungry almost immediately, we went to get lunch downtown at around noon. I was sort of craving Thai food, so we went to the top rated Thai restaurant in town for some lunch specials. Since we were both really hungry, love leftovers, and the pricing was awesome, we ordered three meals to share between the two of us.

The lunch specials included soup and a spring roll, both of which were served before we even ordered our meals. The presentation was pretty great.

For the main course, we shared Shrimp Pad Thai, Ginger Beef, and Chicken Panang Curry.

Everything was wonderful. We finished the Ginger Meat, saving about a third of the last two meals for Mark’s lunch the next day, but the Pad Thai was so amazing, that we ordered another one to go, for my lunch the next day.

Once we came home, full and happy, I crashed on the couch where I remained for the rest of the night. I had a Bridget Jones marathon, watching the newest incarnation, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” last.

I have to say, that the movie was actually really really good, especially considering how bad the second film was. I’m always a sucker for any version of Mr. Darcy that Colin Firth will play, and he really and truly gave me all the feels in this movie.

All in all, it ended up being a really restful day. I can’t say that I am filled with as much of the optimism and excitement as I was on our last round, but I am still filled with hope. If hope is alive, I know I can’t be doing too badly.

Now we wait…

~Sam

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Four – Ultrasound

“And if you were to ask me
After all that we’ve been through
Still believe in magic
Oh yes I do!”
~Coldplay 

  
Just when I think I’m ready to throw in the towel and give up completely on the whole optimism thing, something happens that gets me excited again about the possibility of conceiving.

Monday, I was DONE with this whole process. I was ready to move onto IVF even if it meant taking out a massive loan or opening up a new credit card. I had so little faith that this process could ever actually work for us, and I was tired. I was so so tired.

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but since getting my period this cycle, I’ve developed a little bit of an “F it all” attitude when it comes to trying to conceive this round.  I have not been eating well, I probably drank in excess a bit too much (birthday week amiright?), and I have not really been getting any exercise, aside from what I usually get at work. I mean, I had my ultrasound yesterday morning and then got fast food and soda on my way to work. Who am I?!

As usual, the Letrozole made me hormonal, though it didn’t seem as bad as it has in previous cycles. I got a little emotional last Friday watching a Discovery Channel show where a donkey was reunited with his best goat friend (okay, I totally cried), and Monday night at work I went from feeling super depressed to super wanting to punch people in the face in about one hour. Other than that, things were not too bad.

What concerned me was the lack of the usual ovary pains I normally experience on these meds. Though nowhere near as bad as the Clomid made me feel in IUI cycle one, the Letrozole is still no picnic. The dull ache and stabby pains are not my favoriote, but at least they indicate to me that the pills are doing their job.

I had none of this type of discomfort this cycle, and was therefore unsurprised when I went in for my ultrasound yesterday to the news that I didn’t have any large follicles in my right ovary. This was a bit of a bummer, because if my follicles were not large enough, we may have to wait until Monday to inseminate. I work Monday nights, and so I would have been forced to go to work after the procedure. I worked after my first IUI (which was super painful thanks to my stenotic cervix) and I felt terrible the whole day. 

As much as possible, I try to take it easy for a day or two after the procedure…and my job is super physical. 

The ultrasound tech continued to perform the ultrasound, moving over to my right ovary, and she gasped. She seemed very pleased as she told me I had one follicle ready to go, but before she said more, she found a second. Both of them were located in my left ovary, and were already measuring at 18mm. “You’ll do the shot tonight,” she told me. “Come in Thursday for insemintaion.”

This was all really good news. To my knowledge, these are the best follicles I have produced thus far, and the first time that I had two strong ones on the same side. I’m hopeful that this increased our chances of conception this month. And yes, I know that it also increased our chances of twins. I was told in my HSG that I have a good size uterus, so we have no reason to cancel this cycle due to the possibility of twins. 

I’m also super pleased that we are going in early Thursday morning, because I am off from work until Saturday afternoon. This means that I can take it easy and relax for the few days following my IUI. 

I worked really early today, so once I got home I stared cleaning. My husband had already taken care of the kitchen (my hero) so I picked up my office, the living room, and the bathroom. After that, I walked to the nearby coffee shop to grab an iced coffee, before heading across the street to get a pedicure. 

I normally tend towards teals, blues, greens, or natural colors for my pedicures. Today however, I was drawn to a pretty light purple. It reminded me of Easter and spring, and fertility. It’s nice to do something different now and then. 😉

  

 I sort of love how they turned out. 

I still need to put away clothes in our bedroom and vacuum, and clean out the fridge. I may even do a bit of meal prep if it doesn’t get too late. My husband is out with a friend, and it will be nice to get things done now so I can enjoy my restful weekend. 

I didn’t think anything was going to make me feel optimistic about this cycle, but I was wrong. The news about the follicles really perked me up, and I find myself filled with a significant amount of excitement once again. To protect myself, I always feel like I should stay guarded…but it certainly feels a lot better to feel joy and happiness in the days leading up to and immediately following my IUI. 

My dearest wish is that this cycle will be the one; that we will get our miracle and start our (human) family. 

March has always been a big deal to me. I love Saint Patrick’s day, my birthday, and spring. I really hope March will bring us a bit of magic this year, and the best belated birthday gift I could ever hope for. 

~Sam