Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our Infertility Journey Video for Ian

It took me until Ian's second birthday (okay...a couple of days before his second birthday) to finish our video/photo montage addressing our infertility journey and his first year.  I'm not much for procrastinating, but I"m glad I waited on this.  I needed to be far enough removed from the emotions of what we went through to figure out how much I was ready to share with family, friends and the public at large.  I'm happy with the end result...and hope you all enjoy it.  Thank you to those of you who have been with me throughout my journey...and for those of you who are joining me along the way and making me a small part of your journeys.  Love you all.

Friday, August 30, 2013

How Easy It Is To Forget

I haven’t been on here in awhile…like almost a year.  In my defense, I spent most of that year in very poor health.  I opted to have gastric bypass surgery in December 2012.  The surgery was successful in that I’ve lost about 115 pounds, but I lost the weight VERY quickly and had some severe complications after the surgery.  This past July, after months of being on home IV nutrition and fluids through a PICC line, I had to undergo another surgery (to remove a large ulcer that had developed that was preventing me from eating and drinking, and to revise the original surgery) with a different bariatric surgery program.  I am happy to report that I am feeling MUCH better now with regard to my overall health.  Luckily, I have a job that allowed me to work from home and I had a lot of support from my husband and my friends.  I chose to have the gastric bypass surgery so that I could be the mother that I wanted to be to Ian…not the mother who sat on the couch and watched him play…or deleted every picture of herself out of family pictures.  I achieved my goal…but in the process I had to sacrifice, for the last few months at least, being the mother I wanted to be to him.  Luckily, I was blessed with the happiest, smartest, most easy-going baby/toddler (in my unbiased opinion) that anyone could have, so Ian has emerged from my health issues none-the-wiser.  I could gush about him forever, but I’ll save that for another post.

You may wonder why I’m writing now…after almost a year of internet silence.  I’m writing now because I need to.  You see, there are many side effects of drastic weight loss.  One of which can be increased fertility.  However, when you’ve spent years going through what I went through to get pregnant with someone else’s eggs, you don’t concern yourself with trivial matters like “fertility.”  When the bariatric doctors have asked me over the past months what birth control I am using (as the birth control pill doesn’t absorb properly in gastric bypass patients, and not everyone knows that), I’ve chuckled and explained that there is no way I could get pregnant on my own.  Between endometriosis, sucky eggs, only one ovary, periods that only happen every 2 or 3 months, and infrequent sex with my husband (nothing like an IV sticking out of your upper arm to put you and your man in the mood), I was not too worried about getting pregnant.  Only…I guess I should have been.

A couple of weeks ago (my first full week back at work actually), I was sitting at my desk, typing away, when I felt wetness between my legs.  My stomach was having sharp pains, too, but it had only been 29 days since my last period, so I thought maybe I was having some random ovulation issue…as my periods have been running 60 to 90 days apart.  I ignored my body for a couple of hours and by the time I got up and went to the bathroom, I had bled through my jeans…at work…NICE!   So, I went home…and promptly started vomiting.  The cramps got super-intense and I told The Prince that I thought a cyst must have burst or something, as this was NOT a normal period.  On one trip to the bathroom, I noticed my old boxes of home pregnancy tests next to my pads and tampons.  The Prince had recently re-arranged/toddler-proofed the bathroom and apparently thought those two items logically went together.  I don’t know what possessed me to pee on a stick.  I wish I hadn’t.  I wish I had just left it alone…but I didn’t.  And one positive pregnancy test turned into two…and then three.  I tested with a digital HPT later that night…still “PREGNANT,” but the non-digital test’s line seemed a little lighter than it had been earlier.  I didn’t say a word to The Prince or anyone else about what was going on.  Instead, I obsessively counted the days back to my last “encounter” with my husband, and tried to figure out how this could possibly happen.  The timing would be about right if I was “a fertile,” but I wasn’t…I was very much infertile.  I remembered my husband saying to me prior to the last “encounter,” “Do we need to use precautions?” and me saying “No”…ignoring the box of condoms I had bought “just in case.”

The next morning, there was still a positive line on the non-digital HPT, but the digital was reading “NOT PREGNANT.”  The bleeding and cramping was still going strong and I was pretty sure that this is what a “chemical pregnancy” looked like.  I went to work and decided to call my OBGYN’s office.  They were rude, saying “What exactly do you want us to do for you?  We can do a blood test, but it won’t help anything.”  That’s true.  Confirmation that I was a little bit pregnant a few days earlier did not help anything.  I ended-up calling my fertility center for some more compassionate advice, and the amazing head nurse (who is still an angel) told me to come in for blood work, as we needed to be sure this was actually not a growing pregnancy and also not an ectopic pregnancy that would require intervention.  It was really odd sitting in the fertility center waiting room where I had sat a hundred times before.  In the past, I was always praying for a pregnancy…and this time I was praying for a negative beta.  I know how awful that sounds.  But I also know that if my pregnancy had started out with that much bleeding…something was wrong with the pregnancy.  I know that I am well enough to go to work and do daily living activities, but I am still struggling to take in 500 calories a day and to not lose weight every single day.  I’m not in any position to carry a healthy pregnancy right now. 

As I was leaving the clinic to wait the couple of hours for the phone call with my Hcg level results, the head nurse asked me “What are we hoping for here?”  It was all I could do not to break down right there.  How could I say the words “A negative” inside the hallowed walls of the fertility center…knowing that every other room was filled with a woman who was me 3 years ago…a woman who would give anything for a positive?  In that moment, I could not have felt any lower, any more despicable, any more irresponsible.  As I walked back through the waiting room, I saw a room full of husbands, boyfriends, partners, and waiting patients looking up at me with smiles of hope or nervous looks of anticipation and worry.  I thought, if they only knew what was in my head right now, there would be only looks of contempt. 

The call came a couple of hours later.  My Hcg was already down to zero.  I could only have been the very tiniest bit pregnant…but the news still hurt emotionally.  Even though I feel it was the best outcome, I still felt a deep sadness that I still haven’t completely shaken.  The bleeding has FINALLY stopped, but the emotional pain (mainly guilt and sadness) has not.  I eventually (a couple of days in) told my husband what happened.  He said he was sorry I was going through it, but he was glad I wasn’t pregnant because my body couldn’t handle that right now.  Then he launched into how exciting it was that I can get pregnant with my own eggs…and I wanted to punch him.  I technically got a little bit pregnant with my own eggs, but it didn’t take…and there’s no way of knowing if the loss was about my egg quality, my endometriosis, my body attacking an embryo, or just a comment on my general health.  Hell…it could have just been a fluke as Dr. Google claims that 50-70% of pregnancies are likely chemical pregnancies that no one knew about.  While I suppose it is possible that I have magically become a fertile, I think it is more likely that this loss was a reminder that I cannot get pregnant with a child with my own eggs…at least not for more than a day or two.  And I’ve already mourned the loss of having a child that is biologically mine.  I don’t want to reopen that wound and start the process of hoping that my eggs “work.”  We have eight little frozen embryos, genetic siblings to the perfect little angel we already have, waiting for us to decide in a year or two if we want to try to give Ian a sibling before we put the rest up for adoption.  I’m okay with that…but apparently my husband is not on the same page as me.  What I did learn from this experience is that my body is not to be trusted and I can’t count on my infertility, so I need to use some form of birth control.  What a concept after years of failed ART cycles.

I know this post isn’t going to win me any friends…especially with those still in the trenches.  I’ve been avoiding writing it because: (1) it’s not exactly how I wanted to make my blogging return; (2) I have friends who are going through their own infertility/fertility stuff and I’ve been trying to wait for their stuff to calm down before putting this out there; (3) I’m worried about getting lectured in the comments about how irresponsible and deplorable I am for behaving recklessly and then hoping for a negative beta…and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to fight back because I mostly agree; and (4) I worry that I’ll regret putting this insanely honest post out there…but it will  be too late to take it back.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  I know I will put this post out there because I need to write this post…and get these toxic thoughts and feelings out of my head and heart.  My blog has always been my place to come and be totally honest about my feelings and experiences with infertility and along the way it has saved me an occasionally even helped someone else.  I’m really hoping this post helps me work through the emotions surrounded with this situation, and doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process…especially those of my infertile friends working on conceiving siblings for their little angels.

It’s easy to forget what it is like to be sitting in the waiting room of the fertility center, praying for some good news.  You wouldn’t think the intensity of the feelings would ever fade or leave you.  But before writing this post, I made myself go back and read through my posts when I was there…just to be sure that the old me would still want me to post this.  I had forgotten how intense things were…how bad the emotional pain was.  And still, I am writing this post because the old me, sitting in the waiting room praying for a positive beta or a good follicle scan, would have wanted me to…because she would want me to NOT forget.  Not forget how awful this very early loss feels.  Not forget how far I’ve come over the last six years.  Not forget to be grateful every day for what I have and what the future may hold for me and my family…whatever that word means down the road.  It’s easy to forget, but not when it is in writing…out there for the world to see.       

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hello, Stranger! (Lots of photos...may take awhile to load)

Wow a lot has happened since my last post.  I feel awful that I’ve been away for so long.  I’ve missed my bloggy buddies.  But I’m realizing how quickly life moves once there is a little one taking up your time, and I am determined not to miss a single second of my little guy’s childhood…even if it means sacrificing some of my interests for awhile.  So I won’t promise that I am going to write more.  I will promise that I am going to try to do a little better.  I miss this.

I don’t have the slightest idea how to catch everyone up on everything that has happened since I last wrote.  So, given that they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I will post a bunch of pictures of Ian and hope that they tell some of the story.  I’m still madly in love with Ian.  People tell me “wait until [insert next step of development].  It is so much harder.”  So far, I’ve found those people to be wrong.  I feel like things just keep getting better and better.  Ian is taking his first little steps (on his own) now, and he is a little parrot…trying to mimic everything we say (and failing miserably for any word that doesn’t start with a B and D or an M).  He plays funny little games and is CONSTANTLY smiling.  But I will say, for all the joy and happiness I feel during my waking hours, there are still some nights when infertility haunts me.  Sometimes I wake up and “forget” for a second that we have a baby…feeling like we are still back to trying without success to get pregnant.  I assume feeling must be from bad dreams just carrying over into my first waking seconds, but I wonder why I am having those dreams in the first place.  I wonder if I will have them forever… if they are some kind of a scar left over from years of trials.  I feel guilty for having those moments.  I feel more guilty that I want to forget about infertility, put it in a box, and store it away forever…never thinking about that pain again. 
But enough of the Debbie Downer stuff.  On to the photos. little genius is attempting to eat grass in this photo.  lol.

Pugs and Kisses
Bright-eyed boy
First Halloween...a golfer like his daddy.
We love our football

First walking practice session
Hello, Ladies.

This was taken right before that basket exploded into pieces.  I told the photographer he wouldn't fit.  Luckily no one got hurt.

Swimming is still his favorite activity.

Where did the year go?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thank you.

Hello bloggy friends.  While Ian is down for a nap, I just wanted to take a chance to thank everyone who wrote me words of support while I was "down."  I'm happy to say the clouds seem to have lifted...though I'm not sure why.  Probably a combination of hormones and remembering to be grateful.  I think about where I was at one year ago...pregnant and sick out of my mind.  And then I think about where I was two years ago...quite certain that my dream of motherhood was never coming true.  And then I think about Ian...and I cry tears of joy.  I have been so blessed and I need to remember that.  I may not always be able to fend of the "blues" that creep in, especially in the face of really difficult situations, but knowing how blessed I am may be the light at the end of the tunnel that leads me out of the dark.  Your support meant the world to me over the last few weeks and you all helped me remember that I am not alone and I have a lot to be thankful for.  Thank you for being a part of my recovery.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

You Don't Need to Waste Your Time Reading This

I probably shouldn't write this post.  I think it is never good to just write (and post) off the cuff when I am really upset.  I end up looking back at what I said and doing a "Doh!"  But still...I'm going to write tonight anyways.

I'm writing because I am depressed and I have no one to talk to about it tonight.  The beauty of going through infertility treatments with everyone is that you get to see all of your friends dreams come true around the same time (or at least over the course of a few years).  The down side of having almost exclusively IF friends is that there is no one to call about problems when things pop up...because they have little kids/babies, too.  That is not to say that any of my friends wouldn't find a way to drop what they were doing and listen to me if they could.  Some of them have done just that in the past.  But knowing how hard it is to juggle friendship time and baby time, I don't want to put them in that position. I am...on my blog...talking to no one in particular.

I should probably get the answer to the big question out first.  I am NOT suicidal at all.  I've been depressed on and off throughout my life and I am pretty sure this is the product of hormones and life's circumstances hitting me at the same time.  I don't think this is going to turn into a clinical, chronic thing (or at least I hope not).  I see a psychologist to deal with my issues with food, in preparation for my upcoming weight loss surgery, so I am "seeing a professional" who is aware of how blue I started feeling last week.  I'm trying to work out what is causing me to feel so blue, so crabby and so fatigued.  Here are my ideas:

1.  THE BIG ONE - My dog who has cancer (and was diagnosed while I was pregnant last summer) is nearing the end.  But she is one of those stoic dogs that won't just stop eating, or stop playing, so you know it is "time."  No...she wags her little tail and gets into stuff like normal.  But she won't walk outside anymore, she goes to the bathroom on the floor randomly without even bothering to squat and she pants constantly.  She can't eat regular dog food because of the golf-ball sized tumor in her mouth, so we switched her to wet food.  She eats it voraciously, then promptly throws up some clear slime substance a half hour later.  I've given her pain meds, but they don't seem to be helping.  I'm struggling horribly with the "when" choice.  Do I wait until I'm sure her quality life is bad enough that putting her to sleep is a kindness?  Or do I put her to sleep while she is still happy, before she gets to the quitting point?  This weighs on me day and night.  I've talked to two vets, my husband, my friends...everyone who will listen.  But ultimately, she is my dog and it is my decision.  And it sucks.

2.  My family is a train wreck.  As usual.  Not much that needs to be said here for anyone who has followed my blog.  My sister's children are currently in Belize and I have to say that I don't think that is the worst place for them.  Nice, huh?  I prefer them to be with complete strangers in a poor country where I will likely never see them again as opposed to having them live with my sister.  I've just written them all off.  My husband and I can't fight everyone all the time to give the kids a normal life and, as selfish as this will sound, my sister and her friends are dangerous and I have to think about Ian's safety above all else...even above the welfare of my niece and nephew.  I can't even hear about what is going on because it causes me physical pain.  My mom is just enabling the whole situation and so I've had to tell her we can't talk about anything other than how Ian is doing, the weather, etc.  In short, I have made the decision to almost completely cut my family out of my life...and that sucks too.  I want them to be something they can't be and they want me to stop expecting more from them.  I'm just done with it all.

3.  My weight loss is a slow and tortuous journey.  I needed to lose 13 pounds by October 15th in order to get the surgery date I want.  I'm currently down 8.5 pounds...but I've been working on this for months now.  How am I going to lose another 4.5 pounds in a month?  I walk my entire lunch hour at work, despite my sore knees, hips, feet etc.  I eat what I am supposed to eat and avoid what I am supposed to avoid.  Why the heck can't I get this weight off?  And why do I have to lose weight on my own to get weight loss surgery (which you get because you can't keep weight off on your own)?  I actually know the answer to that question but still the situation is frustrating.  I try not to beat myself up too much, but really?!?  How did I let myself get this big?  I try to focus on the fact that I'm doing something to change it now...and that's what is important.  But when I can hardly walk because my feet are so sore from carrying all my weight around, or when I have to stop and rest between each flight of stairs I walk up, it is really hard to be positive.

4. My husband hasn't touched me in a remotely romantic way since I got pregnant.  Granted, we weren't probably having enough sex to get pregnant on our own before my pregnancy.  But now...nothing.  During the pregnancy he used the excuse that he didn't want to hurt me or the baby.  In hindsight, given my preterm labor, I'm glad we didn't go there.  But since the baby was born...still nothing.  All of my advances are rebuffed.  He watched the childbirth process...from the baby-coming-out view.  Did it gross him out so bad he can't stand the idea of that body part being sexual again?  Does he see me just as a mommy and not as a lover anymore?  Is he so grossed out by the weight and stretch marks that he just can't make himself do it?  I've asked him and he says no to all of these above...but then we still don't "do it."  It makes me think...I wouldn't really want to have sex with me either at this point, so how can I get upset about him not wanting to.  But still...this situation is a bit depressing.  Every wife wants to feel wanted.  I should add, in fairness to him though, our marriage is about the strongest it has ever been.  We are a great team when it comes to raising Ian and what my husband is lacking in the bedroom department, he is more than making up for in the "being an awesome Dad" department. sex sucks.

5. I can't get anything accomplished.  I like order.  I like knowledge.  I like things to be clean and tidy.  My life is a constant state of chaos.  If when Ian goes to bed he doesn't have food stuck in his eyebrow or on his ears, I've had a good day.  That's how low the bar is set now.  Forget cooking.  That happens maybe three times a week (probably part of #3's issues).  Forget housecleaning.  My husband and I tag team clean, handing off the baby in between chores.  I have to grit my teeth and appreciate my husband doing a crappy job at his chores, and I have to prioritize mine and find ways to let things go.  For kitchen stove top has not been thoroughly washed in three weeks (guess it's a good thing I'm not cooking more, huh?).  Before Saturday...our floors had not been mopped or even swept in two weeks (unless you count bleaching all of the spots where our dog with cancer "went" on the floors).  Ian's playroom and my bedroom are the only sacred rooms that gets cleaned thoroughly during the week.  Unfortunately, we can't live in those rooms...or we'd turn them into chaos, too.  I think this is going to have to be the new normal standard..."Good enough."  But I am having a very tough time adjusting.

6.  The chronic pain associated with the endometriosis sent me reeling.  I feel better now, but I forgot how awful that pain really is.  I forgot how my whole system would just revolt, making every movement painful.  I forgot how it felt to be so tired I couldn't even get out of matter how badly I needed to.  I am terrified of the disease progressing again.  It will happen.  no amount of happy thinking will fix that.  But it may happen slowly, and that is all I can hope for.  But right now...I am really sad to know that more pain is coming.

There is probably even more going on than all of this, but this is what is rolling off the tip of my tongue.  Whatever is causing my "blues," I need to get over it.  I don't have the time or energy to be at less than tip top shape.  Maybe this is just like a second wave of baby blues related to that first post-pregnancy period.  Who knows.  At least I got all of this crap out of my system.  Sorry for such a crap post.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Endometriosis is a Dirty B-Word!!!

My husband and I work hard not to curse around Ian.  But sometimes a curse word is warranted, so we say something like “B-word” or “S-word” or “F-word.”  We can always tell from the context what was meant.  Well I have to say, ENDOMETRIOSIS IS A BIG FAT ”B-WORD”!

I thought that after pregnancy I would get a bit of a reprieve from my endometriosis symptoms.  Many women do.  In fact, some are “cured” of their symptoms after giving birth.  I’ve really tried to keep a positive attitude that I would be one of the lucky ones.  Apparently I have yet again disproved the power of positive thinking.

It has been approximately nine months since I gave birth.  Once the after-pregnancy bleeding stopped, I had nothing.   But, I was breastfeeding, so I assumed AF would come back after I weaned Ian.  Three months ago I weaned him, and for three months…no AF.  I had sort of resigned myself to the fact that my female cycle was just dead.  My body was in menopause, just as it had been before I got pregnant.  Then, yesterday, I woke up with a nasty surprise.  Apparently AF decided to sneak back into my life like a thief in the night…literally in the night.

I should back up a little.  I’ve felt twinges and aches for months that felt like endometriosis pain, but I kept trying to tell myself it is just my uterus still shrinking or my body adjusting after delivering a baby.  The last week or so, I had the old intense ache in my low back, non-stop need to urinate regardless of how little urine I had to give up, and the cramping that rivals food poisoning.  Trying to be a Positive Polly, I told myself that these things could be a result of my new healthy lifestyle – high protein diet, greatly increased physical activity level, and increased water intake.  Somewhere inside I knew it was endo pain…but I didn’t want to believe I could have endo so soon.

Anyways…back to the thief in the night.  So, I woke up and cleaned up the colossal mess that anyone with endometriosis is all too familiar with.  I felt an insane amount of pain and nausea, but I sucked it up and went to work with as much Ibuprofen in my system as my stomach could handle.  I did the obligatory super tampon /overnight pad combo routine all day at work.  And when I can home, I was greeted with the unpleasant surprise that somehow I had failed to notice that I had leaked onto my pants anyways (at least they were black pants).  Humiliation on top of frustration and pain.  Great.

I pulled out the old heating pad from its storage spot and prayed for some relief.  I forgot how exhausted endometriosis makes you.  Maybe all periods cause fatigue.  I’m not sure.  I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis at age 14/15, so I don’t know if I ever got to have endo-free periods.  But I couldn’t keep my eyes open yesterday.  Maybe it was the pain that was draining me.  I’m not sure.  But whatever the cause, anyone who says that endometriosis isn’t a chronic, debilitating illness hasn’t been through it.

Today, things have only gotten worse.  I’m exhausted, cranky, sick of spending as much time in the bathroom as out.  I don’t feel like eating.  I don’t feel like sitting on the stupid towel I have to put down on the furniture “just in case.”  I have a million thoughts swirling through my mind like…”Do I really want to endure this for a few more years while my husband comes around to the decision that I am already comfortable with…that our family is complete with Ian?”  or “What if I decide to have a hysterectomy and end up getting cancer (having a hysterectomy at a young age increases your risk for some cancers without hormone replacement therapy…which you can’t take if you want to keep the endo at bay)?”  or “How can I have worked so hard to get pregnant and now be so willing to let my ability to do that in the future go away?  Am I making too hasty a decision?”

There are no good answers to these questions.  In fact, there is really no good in even asking the questions at all.  I know they are just a product of pain and frustration and that once this bout has passed my concern about those issues will pass as well.  But, as endometriosis always does, it will continue to slowly progress, interfering with my life more and more until, eventually, the questions have to be answered.  Until then, I know I need to just bite the bullet, take comfort in the fact that I am not alone and that there some of my friends in “the real world” and in “blog world” get what I am experiencing right now.  It is hard to expect any empathy from someone who just hasn’t experienced this (i.e.- my husband).  Endometriosis sucks!  It’s unfair.  And it’s a B-word!