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.

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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

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

And We Keep Living Anyway…

“Life doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall and we break…”

~Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda 

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Well, we finally heard back from the Doctor’s office this afternoon, and got the bad news we were expecting.

Our insurance company doesn’t cover IVF…not even a little bit.

Of course, this isn’t really much of a surprise. Very few insurances companies cover IVF, but since much of the rest of our fertility coverage has been incredible, I was still very hopeful. Once again, being hopeful doesn’t get my anything but more disappointment. Why do I even bother?

So, that’s another option that has been eliminated. We don’t have between $17,000 and $20,000 lying around, so there is no point wasting any more time on this.

IVF is the single most effective way for a women with endometriosis to conceive, so I am certainly feeling a bit heartbroken right now. I feel like our best option has been eliminated, and I am more certain than ever that I will never be able to have a baby.

The office should be calling me sometime tomorrow to schedule my laparoscopy. I guess the only piece of somewhat good news we received today is that we have met our out of pocket…so if we can get in before the end of the year (something my doctor assures me will we do) the cost will be substantially lower.

I have zero hope that the surgery will help us conceive, but my husband and my doctor both think that we should do the surgery because it will increase my quality of life.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care even a little bit about improving my quality of life. I have been living with this pain for my entire adult life . It is as normal to me as breathing, and I am terrified to have surgery. I would skip it all together, if I didn’t want to know how bad my endometriosis is; how advanced.

So that’s what this is for me. I feel defeated, and scared…and we are running out of options. I think that is the worst part.

~S

*Photo Credit: Heartseverywhere.com

 

Battle On

“We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, but battle on.”
-J.K. Rowling

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I feel like I am broken.

The world has became a desolate wasteland of my despair, and I am drowning in my grief.

You meet someone who wants to share your forever. You marry that person, you start a life and eventually you decide that you are ready to start a family.  It’s such an exciting time, full of so much joy and laughter. You stay up too late at night talking about your future child, discussing names and nursery themes, and planning for the life you will have.

Most couples will eventually get that positive pregnancy test, and they put their plans and late night discussions into action.

But for some couples, couples like my husband and I, all that planning never amounts to anything. We are left staring at nothing but stark, agonizing, white every time we even dare to take a pregnancy test.

For some couples, life doesn’t go on:

Life stops. 

We stop planning for vacations, because, “what if we get pregnant?” We stop spending as much time with friends, because we don’t have much to contribute to the conversation if it isn’t about trying to conceive, because it has literally consumed our existence.

In my case, I quit drinking alcohol. I quit exercising. I’m afraid to get a massage, or walk into a nail salon, or dye my hair.

I feel in my heart that I must be doing something to prevent conception.

While I know most of that is just in my head, I also do know a few things which I will go into more detail about in future blog posts.

Here are five things that I do know:

  1. I know that this is not my fault.
  2. I know that realistically, there is nothing more I can really do, aside from those medical procedures which I am already undergoing.
  3. I know that though this may not be my fault, I am the infertile one.
  4. I know that my husband has an incredible sperm count with amazing motility.
  5. I know that I shouldn’t blame myself, but that is a very hard thing to do.

I don’t want to give up; and I don’t want to drown anymore. I know that I must rise above my anguish and charge into this battle at full speed.

I hope that by starting this blog, I will be able to find the courage to continue on.

I want to find a way to keep living my life, to make something amazing out of the time I am given, even if we are never able to have a family of our own.

I am reaching out, in anonymity (for now).

I am so tired of feeling so alone.

I want to find and connect with those you of you who share my struggle, or have previously shared my struggles. Infertility is the worst crisis I have ever experienced, but I honestly believe that there is strength in numbers, and a peace that can come from love and support.

I hope that you will feel free to reach out, to comment, to share your own stories. I want to hear about your heartbreaks; your triumphs; your dearest joy.

Thank you for reading. I hope that we can find a way to battle on…together.

~S

*Photo from helenboggess.tumblr.com