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

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 Three

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!”

~Wicked: Stephen Schwartz

 

I’m not sure what changed, or when the change occurred exactly, but I am not the same person that started this blog four months ago.

Without a doubt, this infertility struggle has irrevocably altered me; altered us. No matter what happens next, I’m certain that many of the effects of that will linger for the rest of our lives. For example, should we be lucky enough to conceive, I’m sure I’ll always be a little more worried; a little more cautious than other women are during their first pregnancies. It’s more than that, though. I’m a stronger person than I was three years ago when we started trying to conceive; I am stronger person that I was four months ago when I started this blog.

When I began writing Ariadne’s String I was a broken, hollow, shell of my former self. I cried all the time, and had difficulty finding joy in even the best of days. I was drowning, and this blog became the only life line I could grab out for. During my first two IUI attempts, I don’t think I ever really believed I would get pregnant. I was anxious, paranoid, afraid to do anything that might mess up our chances.

Learning that I would have to undergo surgery terrified me, and I spent the month leading up to the procedure living in abject fear.

But I had the surgery, and it was successful. There were no complications, my endometriosis was not as advanced as it could have been, and my doctor was even able to successfully remove much of it. I came out of surgery a stronger person. Returning to work quickly post op, and feeling myself heal more every day made me stronger as well.

In the two months that followed my surgery, when I was recovering and healing and therefore could not undergo fertility treatments, my depression faded away. I’ve been happy, more relaxed, and I’ve felt more like my true self than I have in a long time. I think taking a break from treatment was good for my mental health. It was certainly helpful for my relationship with my husband. When I am a happier person, he is a happier person.

Just a few days ago, due a jolt of fear combined with hormones that always make me a little cranky, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about starting treatment again. But the very next day I realized how much I’ve changed. I had surgery, and if the doctor thinks that will help, who am I to say it won’t? This realization made all the difference in the world going into our third IUI procedure this morning.

I cleaned the house last night, tediously creating a relaxation retreat in our bedroom; deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, organizing my office, and picking up the living room. I even organized the bathroom cabinets (something I have needed to do since we bought the house last March).

I started cleaning so that I could feel relaxed when we came home from the doctor’s office today, but staying busy also kept my mind off of the procedure and prevented me from feeling anxious.

I slept well last night, and when I woke at 6:30 I got dressed in my favorite maxi skirt, my “dauntless” bracelet, a fertility necklace (a gift from a former co-worker), and my new “Nevertheless, She Persisted” shirt. Because I will continue to persist in this as with many other things. 🙂


We had a bit of a wet ride into the clinic, but still made it with a few minutes to spare for Mark’s 8:00 appointment. He was called back after a few minutes, and I read Facebook and looked at the news from my phone while he was gone. After he came up we went to grab bagels and coffee while his sample was prepared.

I felt calm, relaxed, and completely at ease. We joked and laughed as we talked about work, our dog, and our plans for saving money if we get pregnant. Once back at the doctor’s we waited patiently as we looked at more news, and again laughed and made jokes about news reports, political memes, and our own lives.

I almost felt a little guilty. The office was pretty busy today, and a fertility clinic is not generally the happiest place. In the past when I have been there I’m usually quiet, reserved, anxious, and…probably a little intense. For our last IUI they were pretty late calling me in because they were super busy, and I totally lost my cool. This time I was called in nearly 40 minutes late and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was then that I realized my calm demeanor wasn’t an act. I felt so calm because I was actually calm. How strange.

When the doctor’s medical assistant came to get me, I hopped up eagerly to follow her. She led me into a room and told me that the doctor was still with a patient, but would be with me shortly. I got undressed and waited, while watching House Hunters Renovation on HGTV. More waiting, and I still wasn’t freaking out. Who is this person?

The doctor came in about ten minutes later. I was pleased to see him, and we talked for a minute and made a few jokes. Have I mentioned how much Mark and I both love our doctor? I told him that I was feeling much calmer and more relaxed than I ever have before. He could tell, and had already picked up on this fact. It was the first time he didn’t have to tell me not to stress out his eggs.

He looked at my chart and realized that we have been seeing him for a year. “One year,” he said. “We need to get you a baby.”

“Well, we have been trying for three years,” I said. “But we have been seeing you for a year.”

“Yes, but I’m all that matters,” he joked.

“Why does everything seem to revolve around the Mark’s in my life?” I asked (my doctor and my husband are both named Mark).

“That was funny!” The medical assistant laughed.

I laid back and we did the procedure. I was bracing for the pain, despite still feeling calm. I have a stenotic cervix, so this process always results in pretty bad cramping. The first IUI we did, the cramping was severe because it had been months since my cervix had been opened for our HSG. I was expecting this to be at least nearly that bad, since our last IUI had been way back in October.

I waited for the cramping and the pain to hit me, but it never did.

Don’t get me wrong, the procedure is no picnic and the catheter doesn’t feel awesome, but I never started cramping. After about a minute, I told the doctor and the assistant that I wasn’t feeling any discomfort for the first time.

“Your cervix wasn’t stenotic at all,” the doctor informed me. “You can jump Mark’s bones tomorrow,” he added with a smile as he walked out of the room.

“Lay here for ten minutes,” the assistant said as she followed the doctor out. “Call us with good news.”

I didn’t know what it meant that my cervix no longer seemed to be stenotic. Was it something that had been corrected via the surgery? Is that something that just goes away? I pondered this and many other things as I lay there in the dark. I was calm. I did some visualization exercises in my mind, and I wondered if this news about my cervix was a good sign.

Since I wasn’t in any pain, we headed to the grocery store after we left, and I picked up stuff to make my favorite British comfort foods on this dreary, English feeling day. We also grabbed lunch at our favorite diner.

I’m in a bit of pain now, but it isn’t from the procedure; it’s from my ovaries. The both feel a bit like they are being stabbed, though the pain on the right side is much worse. I don’t know if this means that an egg has been released, or if it is still in there and just big? Either way, I’m gonna relax a bit today, watch some movies, and make a huge pot of onion soup. If I feel up to it in a bit, I may even do some work.

I feel good. I’m hopeful, I’m calm, I’m excited. I know that this still may not work. I know that our odds of success are still not amazing, but I know that I prefer this happier, more positive self over the gloomy and moody version that had taken up so much of my time.

So I will wait. I will have a fun, relaxing, joyous two week wait, and if we don’t get pregnant this time…we will persist. Our story isn’t over yet. I think it may just be starting.

~Sam

Our Infertility Story: My Laparoscopy

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
~William Shakespeare 

Our Infertility Story: The Beginning

Our Infertility Story: The Specialist 

Our Infertility Story: My HSG

Our Infertility Story: The Eye of the Storm

Our Infertility Story: Checking His Swimmers

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round One

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Two

Our Infertility Story: Surgery or IVF

I had surgery yesterday.

The weeks leading up to the day both seemed to fly by, and also to go by in a slow crawl. I was terrified.

Though I had an endoscopy earlier this year, I have not been under general anesthesia since high school, and the idea of doing so again scared me.

I think it’s because I don’t like loosing control, or being without control.

I am pleased to say that I slept pretty well the night before surgery. This is no doubt due to the fact that I opened the last four shifts at work before surgery. Waking up at 5:30 am everyday helped better prepare me to wake up that early now. I actually was awake before my alarm.

I woke to numerous well wishes for surgery on my facebook page, and  soon after waking I received a text from my brother. I was feeling well loved. 💜

Thursday after work, my mom got me a pair of Christmas pajamas that buttoned up, and some indoor/outdoor slippers. This was because I was instructed to wear clothes that would be easy to take on and off. I slept in my pajamas the night before, so all I had to do was slide on my slipper boots, and pull on a sweatshirt.

The hospital was located in an older part of town that I am not familiar with. We got a little lost on the twisty brick roads, but adored the cute little neighborhood. I had been told it would be okay to get there a little late for my 6 am in time, because the doors don’t open until 6 am, so I wasn’t concerned about being late.

Once we got to the surgery center, I checked in an waited to be called for paperwork. I received a few more text messages from friends as we waited. Once I was called, I was given paperwork to fill and told I didn’t owe any money. We had already met our out of pocket for the year, so this wasn’t a surprise. It’s actually why we scheduled this at the end of the year.

I was called back at around 7:50 am, and ran into my doctor almost immediately. He saw me being weighed and said, “There’s my favorite Sam!”

Mark and I have both always really liked our fertility doctor. Not only is he more than capable, but he is always so positive and full of hope. I think that helps us both. Every time I see the doctor, I walk away in a less pessimistic place. I think that’s important.

We sat and talked for a few minutes in the little room. He went over my procedure with me again, and told me that in addition to any exploratory work, and clean up and removal of any endometriosis he finds, that he was also planning to push dye through my tubes again. I’ve already had an HSG, but this was just to make sure that my Fallopian tubes were still clear.

I started crying while I was with the doctor. By that point, I was feeling completely overwhelmed, anxious, and terrified. The doctor gave me a hug, and told me that he was going to take good care of me, and not let anything happen to me.

After he left, I went through a lot of questions and medical history with first the nurse, and then the anesthesiologist. I cried again with both of them as well.

After that, I was instructed to get changed. Once I was dressed, I had an IV inserted into my hand. The nurse tried to put it through the top of my wrist, but it wouldn’t thread and caused me a lot of pain. She had to pull it out.

The second time, in my hand, the IV went in immediately.

I was given a few different types of medicine for nausea (previous experiences with anesthesia always left me very sick when I woke up) and then my family was allowed to come in to see me.

I started to feel a lot calmer by the time my family came in to see me. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure one of the drugs they shot into my IV was a seditive.

My mom and dad gave me a kiss, but Mark was allowed to stay with me until I was wheeled into the OR.

I don’t remember much once we got to the operating room. I remember huge round lights up above me on the ceiling, and they asked me a few questions. I was already feeling a bit hazy, from the seditive I assume they gave me.

Once the anesthesia was administered my hand starting burning as it entered my veins through the IV.

The next thing I remembered was waking up in recovery.

I asked if it was over, and the male attendant helping me said yes. I had to pee pretty badly, and I said so. He brought me a bed pan, and it took a minute probably because I had a catheter in during surgery, but I was able to go.

Then, I was aware of the horrible pain I was in. I was having some of the worst cramping that I have ever experienced in my life. He hurried and got me some pain medicine. He stayed with me and talked to me, no doubt trying to calm me down as we waited for the meds to kick in. I was also told to sip on water, which I did without complaint.

Eventually, he helped lift me off of my stretcher and into a big comfortable wheel chair type contraption. I went into recovery and sat with my husband. I’m told my parents were there, too…but I don’t really remember.

I asked about my results and was told that the doctor already spoke to my husband. My mom told me later that the doctor told them that he spoke with me before talking to them or Mark…but again, I don’t remember.

Eventually, the nurse saw the doctor in the hall outside my recovery room and asked if he would come talk to me. He joked that he didn’t want to, because I wouldn’t remember anyway, but he came in and sat down.

He told me that he found endometriosis and was able to remove a lot of it. He put me in between stage 1 and stage 2 endometriosis. I won’t really know more until my post op appointment on Thursday, but from what I can tell, this is very good news.

He seems to think that we will be able to go forward with IUI, which is great news, since we cannot afford IVF.

I was told I couldn’t leave until I went to the bathroom, but I told them I already went in a bed pan, and so I was sent away.

We came home and I begin the slow process of recovering. I’m in a lot more pain than I had hoped to be in, but I am surrounded with love. That’s enough for now.

I’ll be back soon to let you know how I’m recovering.

~Sam