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

4ec8e9c86203a3eb0ac6071ac6d86811--awesome-quotes-best-quotes

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

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

Our Infertility Story: Surgery or IVF

Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.
~John Wayne

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
After my second failed IUI, my doctor relayed to his nurse that he didn’t really want to do more than one more round of IUI. He would prefer if we did IVF or that I had the surgery he had already discussed with me.

Mark and I decided to save our precious insurance covered IUI procedures, and talk with the doctor about our other options.

Our appointment was over a week after my period began, and it was a very very long week.

I had to leave work early the day my period started, because I was such a mess that I couldn’t pull myself together and get through my shift.

Mark was off early that day, so I picked him up at work, and we shared wine and he comforted me while I cried. Most importantly, we talked about our next steps.

I reached out to a very good friend who wanted to meet me for breakfast the following day, even if I didn’t want to talk. I had to work early the next day, but he met me on my lunch break and it was nice to have a friend to sit with, as I slowly started figuring out how to pick up the pieces of my life.
I fell into a very deep depression. I had a difficult time hanging onto hope, and I just felt lost and empty.

Finally meeting with the doctor the following week helped. I learned that IVF is the most effective way for a women with endometriosis to get pregnant. I learned that if my endo is not super advanced the surgery might help enough for IUI to be effective. I also learned that during both of our IUI rounds, I was producing strong and healthy eggs. This is a good sign, because it suggests the endometriosis has not done damage to my ovaries.

I felt better after our meeting, but anxious as we began our waiting game. We had to give the office a week to find out how much IVF our insurance would cover, and how much the surgery would cost. We needed information to make a decision.

We didn’t hear back for over 9 days, so I finally called and received the news I had been expecting. Our insurance doesn’t cover ANY of IVF. Not the facility charge, not the fertility meds, not the procedure…nothing.

We had also met our out of pocket for the year, so surgery before the end of the year would be advantageous for us. I told them to schedule it.

I got a call back with possible dates, and after a little back and forth, we settled on Friday December 9. This was still weeks away at the time, as we booked all this about two weeks before Thanksgiving.

I planned things out with work, and we decided that I would take four days off after my surgery so that I could recover. My doctor only usually recommends taking two days off following surgery, but that is for people who work desk type jobs. At my job, it’s not uncommon for me to walk four miles a day.

I had to transfer stores in between all of this, and therefore had to rework all of this with my new boss…but she was more than accommodating.

I am about to have surgery.

I feel like getting to this point has taken forever, and it has also flown by.

I’m scared of the procedure, and I’m probably more nervous to find out how advanced my endometriosis is. But we are here now, and I know that getting answers is better than staying in the dark.

So I am about to have my laparoscopy surgery.

Thanks for all of your kind words and thoughts and prayers over the last few months. All of your support has meant the world to me. ☺️

Much love in return. ❤️

~Sam