Tag Archives: Emotional

What We’ve Been Up To and The Big “C”…

7 Feb

Preface: This post got very long and kinda dark and I’m not going to apologize for that. I needed to write it all out. You should get cookies if you actually read it all. Thanks.

I always thought that when I got pregnant, life would be blissful and I’d be walking on air. Not that pregnancy itself doesn’t come with it’s share of swollen feet, nausea, backaches and the like but I always thought I’d be able to deal with those things a little better because of how badly we wanted this baby and how happy I was to actually get pregnant. But sometimes life throws you curve balls…I haven’t been writing much because honestly, most days it just felt too raw to write about. I’ve decided that I need a little bit of an outlet so I guess now is as good a time as any. Here’s a more clear picture of what has been going on.

Back in September my Wife’s Uncle started to decline more steadily from a form of Leukemia that he had been battling on and off for 15 years. He was in his 80’s and although he was under excellent care, it  became apparent to us that he had relapsed and had grown pretty tired of fighting. We are very close with him and his wife and we tried to remain positive because he’s always been very strong through it. When Mrs. E was 20 years old, her parents and siblings moved to Florida and she decided to stay here where her school and girlfriend were, and since that time her Aunt and Uncle became more like parents to her. Sometime in mid-November we got a phone call that he had been taken to the hospital and that things weren’t looking good. His body was just not responding to treatment anymore and the family had decided to reduce his care to “comfort only” measures and bring him home (he hated hospitals after all he’d been through). We went to see him and held his hand, talked to him, hugged him told him that we were having a boy (we hadn’t announced the gender of the baby yet) and wished him peace. He passed away the next day.

At about the same time that that was going on, my own grandfather had started to show signs that his dementia was becoming more severe. Caring for him had started to take a physical and emotional toll on my grandmother. He was often confused, hallucinating and getting very aggravated on a more regular basis.  He started having “accidents” and would fall when trying to walk and she couldn’t help him up anymore. My family started taking turns sleeping overnight at my grandparents house to help her care for him. I learned a lot of things about about Alzheimers/advanced dementia in those months and he was definitely a textbook case. Most people think that the disease is merely mental but the most heartbreaking thing about it is that that’s not true. Over time with it, the body literally “forgets” how to do some of it’s most basic functions. Incontinence becomes and issue, walking and muscle control can become foreign, eventually even swallowing and breathing become challenges. He was already having trouble with the first two. One night, he got very aggravated and my grandmother woke up to find him standing over her side of the bed screaming at her. She wasn’t able to calm him down and she feared for her safety so she called the police. Eventually, they helped settle him but they sent a social worker out the next day to help her start the process to place him in a long-term care facility. He had become too severe for her to care for him at home anymore and we reluctantly moved him into a nursing home a few days later.

In the mean time, we had our gender reveal party, we were spending most evenings running over to the nursing home to visit Grandpa and tried to get through our childbirth classes and prepare for the baby when we had spare time.  Right before Thanksgiving, we became worried about my grandfather’s eating and he was losing a lot of weight and running a high fever. He had pneumonia and was coughing a lot so the doctor wanted to send him for a swallowing evaluation. It showed that he had been aspirating a lot of his food (half of it was essentially going into his lungs) and his swallowing reflex just wasn’t working properly. The pneumonia got worse and he was admitted to the hospital to recover while he waited for a feeding tube to be put in. He was very weak and I thought we were going to lose him in those few days. His confusion was at it’s height because he didn’t adjust well to new surroundings and he’d already gone from home to the nursing home to the hospital. It was hard to watch but kind of a blessing because he didn’t know he was missing Thanksgiving at home with our family. I was literally holding back tears sitting around that table without him last year. Only one time in my life, when I’d gone to spend Thanksgiving with Mrs. E’s family, had I spent a holiday away from home with him. I should probably explain that my deep attachment to him was because he essentially had become my father. My parents split up when I was 2 years old and my Mom and I moved into my grandparent’s house with them. He became my father figure and my grandparents took on a lot of the responsibility of raising me.

He recovered from that bout of pneumonia, got the feeding tube and was moved back into the nursing home (another hellacious adjustment period) and seemed to be recovering well. He had one nurse that was very blunt with our family and told us that he would probably continue this cycle of getting pneumonia and going to the hospital, receiving antibiotics and being sent back to the nursing home indefinitely. That eventually his body would become resistant to the antibiotics and his body would shut down. It was sobering to hear someone lay it out like that ahead of us, especially when he seemed like he was recovering. Over the next month he did make another trip to the hospital for a few days and back, again for pneumonia. Mentally, he had his good days and bad. He stopped asking when he could go home and started saying “I love you” and “I have a really good family” all the time. Someone was with him in the evening every night and took my grandmother over to spend time with him every day. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary just before Christmas and he had an amazingly clear day that day. He was joyful and asked his wife for kisses and to sit on his bed with him continuously. Out of all the confusion, he never forgot who we were and he ALWAYS remembered that I was pregnant and asked about the baby constantly. He was so excited for the baby to come and that it was a boy. He also hated to be “scruffy” or unkempt and in the last few months I had taken on the responsibility of cutting his hair and shaving him every other day or so at the nursing home. It was really more about being fawned over than anything else, but he always reminded me that that was my job and was never bashful to ask when he needed to be “spiffed up” for my Grandma.

On Christmas Eve, I had my own breakdown about it. I felt wrong celebrating the holiday with the rest of my family when he was “in there” all the time. It felt like a prison for his illnesses. Even though we visited frequently and at length, it never felt like enough. I knew that he was slowly slipping away and I cried about it hard. When you are on the verge of becoming a parent, it can feel like a very scary push into adulthood with no turning back. I felt as though I had a little girl inside that was very upset that things weren’t the way that they were supposed to be anymore. Those holiday weeks I struggled and felt very much “in limbo” between those two worlds. The rational adult in me would focus on doing what needed to be done, and could handle dealing with his declining condition in stride, however the girl that hated watching what was happening to her Grandpa was having a hard time keeping it together.

As much as I hated to leave town, we had planned our final vacation before the baby for just after New Year’s. We were escaping for a week to Florida to enjoy some warmer weather and time with Mrs. E’s family. As soon as our flight landed, I came down with a bad cold/flu and I was miserably sick most of that trip and wasn’t able to take much to curb the symptoms. My wife wasn’t feeling well either and ended up having to go to Urgent Care on our 2nd day to get checked out because there was blood in her urine. Everyone else in her family has a history of kidney stones, so they dismissed it as that, gave her some meds and sent her on her way. As much as we were trying to make the best of things, it turned out to be a pretty pathetic vacation. I was grateful to be able to lay in the sun and float in the pool though! It took some pressure off my weight and back which felt good cause…Oh yeah, I was 7+ months pregnant! Unfortunately, there were days that I had to stop and remind myself of that with everything else going on.

We returned home but I wasn’t allowed to go see Grandpa because the flu was rampant, I was still quite ill and therefore the nursing home had a quarantine in effect. Can’t say I blame them. In those days while I recovered, we readjusted to life a bit and we had an appointment with a family doctor. We were joining the practice so that when the baby comes we could all go to the same place. She also referred Mrs. E to get an x-ray and go see a Urologist and get her kidney stone thing figured out. She got that all setup and in the mean time Grandpa was having lots of “bad days” and was barely communicative. He frequently had high fevers and was on more antibiotics and slept 20+ hours per day. I got a call at work one day from my Mom at work. She was crying and simply told me to come to the hospital, they had just taken him there by ambulance and that the doctor had advised her to “call the family in”.

When I got there, they were telling us that his prognosis was not good and that he had possibly hours to live. His fever was high, his blood pressures and oxygen levels were dangerously low and they told us that he was in septic shock. They placed him on a breathing machine that was forcing pressurized oxygen into his lungs and they gave him fluids and antibiotics. The doctor advised my grandmother to call a priest to come in and have his last rites read to him. We were beside ourselves. They admitted him and moved him up to a private room and the doctor told us she would be very surprised if he lived through the night. So we called all of the rest of our family and stayed by his side, holding his hand and talking to him all night. From about the time he came in, he was not very responsive. His eyes would scan around the room briefly in response to certain noise or touch, but the most we saw from him was when he was being re-positioned in bed. His eyes would stare open with a look of pain on his face. We tried to make sure that a family member was always there to comfort him and be in his view but it was so hard. He was on some morphine to keep him comfortable but all we could do was sit there while he slept. And wait.

That first night was excruciating but he lived through it. And the next day, and the next. I took off work and my Mom, my cousin and I took “shifts” in his hospital room. There were never less than 2 of us with him at a time and someone was always awake, watching and making sure that we noticed any big signs of decline or discomfort. The nurses were so nice. I don’t know how we would have done it without them. They brought us food, came in and talked to us, laughed with us, some even cried with us. Mrs E even took a shift when she could. We told stories and held his hand, until that even seemed to cause him some pain and we had to quit doing that too. The doctors informed us that his vitals were still so weak and he was in kidney failure now. His body would continue to shut down and it was only a matter of time. Our vigil continued.

Four days after he was admitted, there was nothing more that we could do for him. All of my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins had flown in from out of town to come and sit by his side. We made the decision to take him off the breathing machine, stop antibiotics and give him a morphine drip. Again, we were told that he wouldn’t live through the night. And we waited. I had never seen some members of my family so stripped down like that. Some just couldn’t do it. They made excuses to leave the room every 10 minutes, or cracked a lot of jokes. It became frustrating at times to see how we all dealt with things differently. My body was tired from sitting and sleeping in hospital chairs every day and night but I couldn’t leave him. It made me too anxious. We thought when he was switched to a regular oxygen cannula that he probably wouldn’t be able to sustain himself for very long, but he proved us wrong again. We watched him day and night for three more days and could not believe that he had now outlived his original prognosis of hours, by an entire week. My grandmother made the decision to formally put him on Hospice care.

That day I sat with him all day. I talked to him, told him what the weather was like outside and about the baby. I noticed that his color looked a lot more drained and the nurse said his heart rate was a bit slower but we had all learned in the past week not to count him out just yet. So we watched Ellen in the afternoon (he loved Ellen Degeneres, it really was adorable) and I even caught a nap beside him while the sun was setting. His breathing seemed slow and steady as I had always remembered from his catnaps. I used to climb into his recliner and catch a snooze with him all the time when I was growing up and this felt sort of reminiscent. A nurse came in to clean him up and I helped a bit. We shaved him and although he didn’t seem responsive to anything else, he stretched his top lip in response when I shaved under his nose. It made me smile because  I used to ask him to “go like this” and do that for me when I would shave him at the nursing home. I said bye to him for a while and left to get some dinner. Mrs E. had been busy at work and hadn’t been to see him for two days so she was coming over after we ate to see him that night.

We got there at about 8pm and he seemed to be resting comfortably, but I soon noticed that his breathing was much more shallow. My aunt and uncle were also there and we didn’t want to call the family and cause unnecessary alarm but after about 10 minutes of watching him, it was apparent that this was a big change and we started calling the rest of the family and warn them that he may pass away that night. His breathing got slower and I asked Mrs. E to go get a nurse to listen to his heart rate for any big changes. I stood by his side and rubbed his head, told him that we loved him and that everything would be okay and in the next two minutes, he took his last breaths. By the time the nurse got there to check him there was no detectable pulse and he was gone. All of a sudden after an entire week, there was nothing but heavy silence and we cried. He died around 9pm that night and and in the next hour, the rest of my family arrived and said their goodbyes. Watching my grandmother enter the room, rest her head beside his and weep was one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever witnessed. It didn’t even feel real. We all knew that he was finally at peace and that we had done all we could do while showing him immense love and respect, but it still felt like he had been ripped away from us.

Over the next week, we all grieved but I found it harder to escape the images that kept replaying in my head. I tried to rebound from the exhaustion of only getting 2-ish hours of sleep per day and living in a hospital room. I had lost 14 pounds and felt guilty that I hadn’t been protecting my baby as well as I should (later our midwife confirmed that he’s just fine though). The funeral was a blur. I only remember some of the details and that I cried an awful lot. I did feel relieved that we had all found some peace, and as difficult as it was to watch, that his decline only took months and not years but I was still feeling anxious, like I was waiting for him to die. I ended up having to contact his Hospice service and inquire about their counseling services for family members. I was dealing with a lot of post-traumatic stress from re-living his last days over and over again. I talked to someone and it helped a little but the dreams and flashes still haven’t stopped. I went back to work and have been trying to pull things back together, but another week has gone by and I still don’t feel like I am “my old self” most days. I’m sure the pregnancy hormones don’t help but I’m not using them as an excuse. I don’t think that emotionally much of this would be different if I weren’t pregnant but people treat me as though it should make a difference.

We decided to go ahead with our baby shower even though it was the weekend between my grandfather’s passing and his funeral. Part of me just didn’t want the hassle of rescheduling, part of me felt like we needed a happy occasion and part of me didn’t want to celebrate at all. It was nice to see everyone, but difficult to put on a happy face. I was OK but barely and when one person hugged me and told me that she lost her grandfather when she was 8 months pregnant and she knew how I felt, I lost it. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUCH A HAPPY TIME! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!?!? We are both so excited for this baby, but if I could pause this pregnancy and take a break I would do it in a heartbeat. I never thought I’d feel like that.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, we got Mrs. E’s x-ray results back. It looked like she had some kidney stones and possibly a blood clot in her bladder. We didn’t know what the ramifications of that were but she was told that she would find out more at her Urologist appointment…which was yesterday. When I got home from work we sat down so that she could tell me what they found at her appointment. I knew it couldn’t be good because she waited to tell me in person instead of over the phone. As it turns out, the doctor wanted to do more testing to be sure what he was looking at because he didn’t think it was a blood clot. He used a scope to look inside her bladder and confirmed that what they had found were actually two tumors. He explained that bladder tumors are pretty much always malignant and that they’d have to schedule her for a procedure to have them removed ASAP and do a CAT scan to make sure nothing had spread to other organs. After they take the tumors out and evaluate the tissue, he’d be able to give us more information about the type of cancer she is dealing with and if she will require chemotherapy as a follow-up. Her prognosis is pretty good because they are small tumors and they can hopefully be removed pretty easily. Unfortunately, there’s also a tumor on one of her kidneys. It’s more likely though that that is benign and may even go away on it’s own. I’m assuming that we monitor that and figure out how to deal with it after we get past the bladder issues. Her CAT scan was scheduled for this morning and we’ll probably get those results tomorrow.

She had had a few hours to deal with this, but I was reeling from what I had just heard. I thought we were going to sit down and talk about kidney stones and blood clots and medication, not tumors and surgery and chemotherapy. I couldn’t find words and “bladder cancer” kept echoing through my head. What the fuck was going on? We’re supposed to be having a baby in less than 6 weeks, not dealing with this shit. I got scared. CANCER. I had flashes of struggling through years of treatment as her uncle and aunt had and thoughts of possibly having to raise this kid on my own. She was able to remain calm. She always does. I think she was more worried about me than she is about herself. She’s so selfless.

Her procedure is scheduled for Tuesday. She called and told her sister, brother and dad what is going on, but other than that we’re really not saying much yet until we know more about what we are dealing with. She knows I’m writing about it here and thinks that’s okay because she wants me to have some space to cope. If you know us in other outlets that converge with family and friends, please be discreet about this until we are ready. There’s just only so much that we can take on at once and for now this feels easier if we keep it close. This is not at all what I thought my 3rd trimester of pregnancy would feel like. I just want to be happy. I just want to buy baby things and organize his room and decorate and focus on how our life will be changing for the better. Not this. Not now.

One of the hardest things about the past several months is that I’ve started to get upset with how people respond to me. I am not fragile. I am an optimist but when people go on and on about how everything will be okay or tell me to look at the bright side, I want to slap them. I’m not an idiot. I realize it’s the conventional nice thing to say, but it’s not like I don’t already tell myself those things and I’m tired hearing it. I don’t want to hear most people’s comparison stories and how they experienced this or that and know what I’m going through. Or how this stress and sleep deprivation are preparing me for “life with baby”. Quite frankly, I wish I ONLY had the stress and sleep deprivation of a newborn to deal with right now.  Some of my friends that I thought would be there for me more have been starkly absent and that hurts too. I don’t always need to be consoled, but it is nice to feel like people think of you, or ask or care at all. I just need to feel how I feel when I feel it. I’m not depressed, I’m sad and scared and a little bit angry. And that’s OK for now and it’s all I can do. It’s how I’m processing.

I can’t wait until we have enough focus again to spend more of it on preparing for the baby. We all could use a little happy right now…We’ll get there. We have to. And then I’ll write about that.

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Meet Sprout!

7 Aug

Today was my first prenatal appointment. Mrs E and my Mom went along just in case we got to do an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat, which we were all hoping for. Most of if was a pretty routine review of my medical history by an OB nurse.  She asked me a series of questions about my symptoms to this point and when I told her that I have had some pretty intense cramping, she said it would be a good idea to go ahead and do an ultrasound. I wasn’t too happy that I threw a red flag with that, but SOOO grateful for the opportunity to see our baby for the first time. It was very emotional and when we finally got to see that little heartbeat on the screen, all three of us were fighting back the tears.

The tech took A LOT of  pictures and it felt like forever until she got to the baby and would turn the screen around so that we could see. It was hard not to be anxious and worried that she couldn’t find the baby or that something was wrong but then…We met Sprout.

The baby is only measuring about .78 inches long at this point and she said it looks as though I am about 8 weeks and 3 days.

We didn’t get to hear the heartbeat, but we could see it on the ultrasound. Sprout was jumping around and the little heart was beating away at 180BPM (that’s the part that made me cry a little).

You can’t see it quite as well in this video as we could on the screen but it’s definitely there. The baby is laying sideways and the head is to the right. The body is the larger mass and that’s a tiny arm sticking up from the top. The heartbeat can be seen as a small flicker just below the head.

Both Mrs E and I are so happy and relieved that everything looks good. We are definitely in love with this little one already!

Surprise! We’re Pregnant!

11 Jul

This is the post I have dreamed so many times about being able to make and I can’t believe that it’s actually happening.

We. Are. Pregnant.

I posted yesterday that I was 2 days late and quite honestly, I was just feeling bloated, tired and had sore boobs…I was just praying for my period to start and get it over with. I was just so used to taking pregnancy tests and getting negative results that I was not in any way prepared for what happened. I got home and my parents had asked if we wanted to go out to dinner so I didn’t take the time to do a test right away. When we got home, I took an internet cheapie strip test left it in the bathroom and went about my business. I came back and checked on it and was FLOORED to see…a faint second line. What is that?! We don’t get SECOND LINES around here!?

I showed it to Mrs. E and was like “What is this?” I was in SHOCK. She said “OMG. We have to go get a better test!” We were both grinning and knew what that result meant but trying to contain ourselves a bit. I had some Early Response tests in the cabinet so I tore one open, peed in a cup and dipped it. Do you know how it is hard to make yourself pee when you’re really excited and you don’t actually have to? Just had to mention that… Before I could even set the stick down on the counter, that first line started to show and then just got darker and darker. I think I burst into tears immediately. Mrs. E was jumping up and down and she started hugging me. She got so excited that she knocked over the pee cup and it spilled all over! We just stood in the bathroom freaking out for a good few minutes. She looked at me and I’m pretty sure there were tears in both our eyes and said “We’re gonna have a baby!” and I replied “…and there’s pee all over my leg. Ew.” Kind of gross I know, but there’s something about that moment I will never forget.

We took a little while to compose ourselves and then made this short video. Okay, so we’re not so composed…Sorry for the babbling on. We’re SO HAPPY!

I’ve taken 2 more tests this morning and they are all positive. Just so you are wondering, this is what the trashcan of a crazy pregnant lady looks like:

It is SO early. So although we are over the moon and very excited, we are still being very cautious. I love sharing the news with you guys, but we’ll be keeping it to this blog or twitter for a while. If you know me on Facebook, please stay hush hush there until we make an announcement to family and friends. We have decided that we are going to wait a little while to tell our donor and his boyfriend (they haven’t been the best about keeping secrets in the past) but we think they’ll be pretty surprised too. Keep your fingers crossed that this little one hangs on and hopefully we’ll have our own tiny human making a debut in mid-March 2013!

First ultrasound appointment is August 7th, and first doctor’s appointment will be August 21st. I’ll be 5 weeks pregnant this Sunday and Saturday is my Mom’s birthday.I can’t wait to tell her as part of her gift. I know it’s a risk being so early but I tell her everything and I hope it’ll be a great day to share it.

Thank you to everyone reading for sharing this journey with us. It hasn’t always been easy and I know I’ve ranted a lot over the months. It feels like it was all worth it in this moment but I will never forget what a difficult and tumultuous road that can be and I am still thinking of those of you who are on it. I understand how hard it can be to hear others’ news when you are in that place and I hope to continue offering support to those who need it and so generously have done so for us.

Wow. We are still so shocked. I guess I was right about my post yesterday. ‘Life’ is exactly what happens when you’re busy making other plans…especially when it comes to making a new one. ❤

Love and light,

E, Mrs E & our little “sprout”

 

Coworker rant, acupunture and a lucky streak

22 Jun

Just wanted to give a tiny little update, a tiny rant and most of all be grateful for a minute about this week.

Firstly, I went back for more acupuncture and I’m really liking it. I find that it’s helping me deal with stress a lot more than I thought. My acupuncturist talks to me and explains things about foods and the way my body works. It all really just makes sense. I’ve made some diet changes recently and I’m feeling really good because of them. I’m so glad I started doing this. The only thing that hasn’t been great is that she didn’t seemed adverse when I told her about us starting IVF. We’re working to get my body and hormones more balanced and in shape and I know that these drugs are going to make it all out of whack but we’re running out of time and patience. I’ll keep working with her but we don’t want to put this process off for longer.

Next, the coworker that I share an office with is REALLY getting on my nerves again. Although it has gotten better, she’s still not doing nearly as much work at work as she used to before she got pregnant and still takes an ‘early day’ per week to basically play hooky and spend some quality time with her daughter. She says that she doesn’t have anyone to watch the baby so she works from home (but is hardly ever online then). The amount of her workload that I’ve had to take on in the past year  because of her pregnancy, breast pumping time at work and early days is maddening and really unfair. The baby is almost a year old now and she’s been back to work for 9 months. It’s time to find a better solution for childcare and needing to pump for 2 hours/day at this point is bullshit. Be a full-time employee or don’t be one. I’ve mentioned it to her and to my boss but nothing has changed. I try to separate my feelings about this from jealousy, but it’s hard. We are friends but watching her accidental pregnancy develop into motherhood through the past year and half or so has been really damaging. She told me that she wants to get pregnant again the other day and I think my blood almost boiled.

She knows we have been struggling to get pregnant and about our doctor appointments and starting IVF soon. She actually had the audacity to ask me how I was going to be able to keep up with the appointment schedule without missing too much work. I swear that steam actually came out of my ears. I mean REALLY? She’s probably scared to death about what will happen if I’m not there to cover for her and people actually realize how little she is doing. I think I have to talk to my boss because it’s likely that he’ll get the deal that something is up. I will have to drive 45 minutes away to get my blood drawn daily for a while. I probably won’t tell him that it’s IVF but I will tell him that I’m going to need more time for medical appointments. I’m trying like hell not to feel too guilty about it because I’ve picked up more than my share of slack in the past year.

So, I’m fearing talking to him right now and dealing with her on a regular basis about all of this. I know I vent here about a lot of things but I’m really trying not to let her stress me out. I’m sort of glad that today is her early day actually, I feel as though I almost get to start my weekend a little bit early by not having to deal with it anymore this week. I want to focus on the good things because there have been so many of them. The IVF appointment, acupuncture and Mrs E’s new job offer have made this all a pretty great week. Finally, it feels like a bit of luck is on our side…

The streak continued with this today:
When we did all of our blood tests earlier this week the doctor wanted to see us back in 2-4 weeks to discuss the results and our donor selection. The only problem was that she didn’t have any availability to make an appointment for about 6 weeks. We made one for the 31st and the receptionist could see that I was a little deflated to accept that. She suggested I call back periodically to try to snag a cancellation. I could kiss that woman for the suggestion because today I called and got it moved up to July 3rd! That’s exactly 2 weeks from our last appointment and has saved us a whole month! There is just so much agonizing WAITING packed into this whole process and I’m so very thankful that this worked out. I’m doing back flips!

I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’ve had a pretty good streak of luck lately and I finally feel like real progress is being made. This makes me much more hopeful that we can probably do our first round of IVF in August.

Rainbows, more impatience and acupuncture

5 Jun

We still have a few more days until we find out if this cycle worked or not. I’ve been a little crampy, had a constant headache and have been tired lately but as strange as it sounds, I’m not even focusing on that right now. I’ve actually had to consult my fertility app on my phone to be like “how many more days?” a few times this week. I’m looking forward so much to our next doctor’s appointment in two weeks so that we can find out what the heck our next steps are. I need to know. It’s killing me. “Whenwhenwhenwhenwhenfinallywhen?” is so much louder than the rest of my thoughts.

This past weekend we helped our donor and his boyfriend move to their new place and it’s about a 35 minute drive away. That alone has me  really feeling ready to leave our current plan and move on to our next step/method. Emotionally, I’m just not feeling very attached to them right now and while they will remain friends, I’m sure the distance of their move will only add complications that I just don’t want to deal with anymore.

We also attended a family reunion this weekend and I spent some time talking with my cousin’s wife who is an OBGYN about endometriosis and infertility. While she doesn’t know the full scope of exactly what we’ve been up to she did ask if I had tried acupuncture. I had given it thought before but was really surprised at how quick she was to recommend it.  It motivated me a little more to find a local acupuncturist and I called her today to set up an appointment.

Some of you may wonder why I’m doing this now and why I don’t just wait a few more days or weeks until we know what’s going on. All these little things help me though. They give me some sense of hope and control over the situation. These changes and a bit of space have helped me to pull more out of “my funk” I talked about last time. I’m not all the way out of the woods but I think I’m headed there. We saw a double rainbow on Sunday night, so we’ll hope that’s a good sign and enjoyed the pretty.

So, not much going on but that’s going to be the case sometimes as I’m trying to update more regularly. Oh, and there was this over the weekend too so maybe you can look forward to a post from someone else in the near future for a change. *Ahem*

Sometimes You Need The Funk

1 Jun

I have a confession to make: I’m a bad blogger. For some reason I feel like I should only be writing here when we have new things happening, which isn’t always the case. There are so many in between moments to this process and so many feelings that go along with them that even though I think weekly “I should blog about that”, I just stop myself. I’m going to try not to limit myself to that anymore.

This month has been filled with disappointment, (yet again) and also a lot of discontent and what I’ve just generally been calling “funk”. My wife was out of town for almost half of the month. She had a work trip that ran into some vacation with her family. As soon as she got back from that we started house-sitting/dog-sitting for my parents while they are on vacation. We haven’t been in our own house together for about three weeks now and everything feels very out of whack. Unfortunately, I started ovulating while she was still out of town and had to try to make a baby on my own a few times. The logistics aren’t fun. Trust me. Luckily, she did make it home for the last one. If this month works, we’re telling ourselves that THAT’S the one that took.

As far as our process goes, it hasn’t changed much. I’ve been trying some natural “remedies” and things like that to try to increase our chances. Even if it’s not helping, it can’t hurt. Besides, those little things help me feel like I have some teensy bit of control and that I’m changing up our experiment a bit and not just banging my head against a wall doing the same thing every month. First, I switched to plant-based prenatal vitamins. There’s all kinds of controversy over whether this is hogwash or not, but I figured that if I was putting these supplements in my body, I preferred to reap the benefits of higher quality ingredients. I threw the drug store cheapies out the window. Next, I kicked coffee all together. I was drinking decaf or half-caf but I’ve stopped that completely. The best part is that I don’t miss it. I’ve been drinking at least one cup of organic raspberry leaf tea everyday. It’s supposed to help thicken the uterine lining (so a little embryo has a better chance of hanging on) and assist with hormone levels for a more regular menstrual cycle, plus it’s tasty. It’s not caffeinated and I’ve replaced my morning coffee with that. Can’t hurt, right? I also drink one cup of decaf green tea in the afternoon for the antioxidants.

Another major and sort of related thing I changed was the transition to more sustainable feminine products. (Warning: If you guys don’t want to talk about “happy period stuff”, skip this paragraph.) I’d been doing more research about personal care products and things we use that are not good for our bodies and our endocrine system and bleached tampons and pads were definitely high on that list. I went online and I bought reusable cotton pads and a DivaCup about 3 months ago and I can honestly say, they’ve changed my life. It was a bit of an investment, but it’ll save money in the long run and I think my cramps have been severely decreased with the use of the menstrual cup. In fact, I used to opt for pads and now I much prefer using the cup because it’s that good. For those of you still scratching your head about this, basically you just use a cotton pad instead of a disposable one, wash it and use it again. Instead of a tampon, it’s a small silicone cup that’s inserted and every 12 hours you take it out, dump it and put it back in. I haven’t actually found it to be as gross or archaic as my initial reactions led me to feel. The cup lasts MUCH longer than a tampon ever would with no risk of TSS or nasty chemicals leaching into my body. I can’t even feel it once it’s in properly and last month, I actually forgot I had my period at one point. I’m forever a changed woman. If you’re squeamish about your own body functions or can’t stand the site of your own blood, these things may not be for you. One thing this whole TTC process has taught me was to learn and own my body. If you’re into that, this may be something for you. I was actually kind of fascinated by the fact that the inside of the cup has notches like a measuring cup and I’ve been able to learn what kind of volume is “normal” for me during menstruation. Again, not for the squeamish but I think that’s kind of cool.

As an attempt to get back into shape a bit more I’ve been trying to get to the gym 4 to 5 times a week but that hasn’t been as easy. I’m teaching spin classes but forcing myself to workout otherwise has been hard because I’ve been in this thing I call “my funk” now for about  a week. Maybe it’s because everything has been so disjointed lately, or because I’m worried about being disappointed again by our doctor or our next pregnancy test, I’m not sure. It feels like I’ve slipped into a little bout of depression and the hardest part is that I don’t want to be pulled out of it. I’m a pretty “glass-half-full” type of person overall but lately, I feel like if I don’t just sort of allow myself to be here with these feelings for a while, that they aren’t going to go away. Staying in bed in my pajamas for a week or so sounds really nice. I’m just sad and frustrated and I’m not going to let anyone tell me that I have to be anything other than that right now. Sure, overall I’m still optimistic and very grateful for what we DO have. I know that we are not yet to the point of swirling down a dismal pit of despair…but lately, I feel really wounded by this whole process and I know I’m completely valid in that. It’s difficult to convey the sentiment that you’re unhappy and you just need to be left that way. It’s not that I don’t appreciate having people that want to cheer me up in my life or KNOW what the bright side is. I do. I just don’t want to look at it right now. I need sunglasses.

I’ve been trying to do little things for me that won’t hinder our goals but that are completely unrelated to trying to conceive. I don’t want to spend too much money on these effort because it looks like we might really need significant funds in the near future. I tried to think of things that I really used to enjoy and that I might not have so much time for when kids come along. Like tap dancing. I used to be pretty good but then I quit and hadn’t even had tap shoes on my feet for about 9  years until a few weeks ago. I signed up and went back to classes and it’s been pretty awesome. I don’t know anyone else. There’s no expectations of me other than to show up and have fun. At this point, my class is mostly older ladies and I like it that way cause I tell you what…those gals are no BS, that’s for sure. This is their “me” time and they don’t let anything wipe that smile off their face for a full hour each week. It’s kind of nice to have that influence of pure joy and silliness, even from the ladies who don’t have high aspirations to be amazing dancers. They don’t care! I’m actually a little advanced for the class that I’m in but if I move up, I might lose this group and I feel like they’re pretty good for me right now. I’m content to stay grinning in the back row for a while.

My snazzy new tap shoes. They’re fun 🙂

In other news, some of our woes with our donor seem to have calmed down. He and his partner have bought a new place and are moving about a half hour away from us. It may minorly complicate things since they won’t be 10 minutes away anymore, but I think it’ll just take more planning. It’s more likely that we’ll have to be all be in the same place for a while instead of being able to make “pickup runs” on days that we’re trying. I don’t know that we’re actually going to be using him for that much longer anyway so I’m not going to stress about it.

Our next appointment with the Reproductive Endocrinologist practice (but with a new doctor this time) is in a few weeks. This doctor is the one who primarily coordinates shipping and transactions with the Cryobank, which we will have to start using if we are going to switch to IUI. We have some donors “favorited” in our account online, but we’re not purchasing or making any significant moves until after we talk to her. The wife and I have actually been discussing going straight to IVF and I’m looking forward to talking about that with the doctor a little. The possibility of it not working and the costs scare the crap out of me, but I’m worried about doing month after month of unsuccessful IUI only to deplete our funds available for which we could have just gone ahead with IVF. I really don’t know what to do. I like the fact of possibly having frozen embryos available for another egg transfer down the road in a few years if we decide to do this again. Part of me is actually thinking that could end up costing less in the long run…Thoughts? I know a lot of you have been through IUI and IVF already and it’s not a cut and dry decision. Do you have regrets about not trying IVF sooner? Talk to me in the comments.

As far as this month’s efforts we’re about halfway through our two week wait right now. One more week and I’m sure if we find out something positive, you’ll be hearing about it! To be honest, I don’t feel anything “different” and am not too hopeful for this cycle so far. Maybe it’s just my mood lately, who knows…the universe could surprise us. That would be nice!


E & The Mrs.

One Whole Year Later and Starting All Over

2 May

Yes, we’ve been at this an entire year already…

When we started this process, I never actually thought that 12 months later we wouldn’t have achieved a pregnancy yet. I knew the statistics and that it could take a while but didn’t really think that would happen to us. Sure, I understand setbacks, miscarriages and tragic things can happen but I honestly never expected to see no progress at all.  I feel betrayed by my body, which no one actually seems to be able to find anything wrong with. I realize that I am lucky. The hand I’ve been dealt could be much worse and I am grateful that it’s not. However, an entire year of failed attempts is disheartening and frustrating and I’m grieving that a lot the past few days. I’m trying to find strength in the fact that when our baby does come along it will be so special because we endured for it. Our efforts were never without extreme thought or care and when we prevail we will be better mothers for that process.

Regardless, it’s hard to remain strong every day. The past few weeks have been really emotional ones and some days my disillusionment and pain shows no matter how hard I try to tuck it away.

First, we got another negative test result. I felt that I had more symptoms than ever last month was really hopeful that we were going to get our positive result. It was pretty shattering when I found out I wasn’t pregnant. That was immediately followed by one of the most painful periods I’ve ever experienced. It just felt so cruel.

Next, we worked through some issues with our donor and found out that although he does want to move out of the area, it may not end up being as immediate or as far away as we were originally told. Basically, he and his boyfriend don’t know what they are doing yet but they had made grandiose announcements of packing it all up and whisking away very fast without talking to us first and that was pretty devastating. We told them they really need to please just communicate with us more so we’re not caught so off-guard. We concluded that they’ll probably end up being around for at least the next 3 months. I hope. No promises there.

Lastly, we went to the Reproductive Endocrinologist to discuss our next steps after my HSG test. I expected to talk about starting Clomid or other fertility drugs to chemically enhance our chances of pregnancy by making me produce more eggs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the result at all and instead we were told that since there’s actually no dysfunction with my ovulation cycles, that he will not prescribe any medication to add on to our method. The RE said that he would not use drugs to help us boost our results unless we were doing IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) under his care.  Then he basically recommended that we move on to one of those methods and stop trying at home on our own. If we didn’t change our plan there was nothing more he could do for us.

This was NOT what I wanted to hear and it felt like it kept getting worse. We would not be able to continue using our donor unless we went through several thousand dollars of tests (again) and processing to get his semen screened, cleaned and stored at a cryobank. With IUI, a thawed vial of semen would be placed directly into my uterus at the time of ovulation and FDA regulations keep us from doing that with fresh semen from our donor with our doctor’s assistance. With IVF, we would harvest some of my eggs, fertilize them in a lab and put a few of the “good ones” back in to hope that they stick. That’s not an option using our donor’s fresh semen either.

The entire appointment was a bit surreal for me and I’m not actually sure how I maintained any composure because all I really wanted to do after hearing that news was burst into tears. I knew that wasn’t going to get us anywhere so I tried to keep asking questions to use our time wisely and postpone the emotions until we had more privacy. I did NOT want to be sent home in tears feeling like I didn’t know anything new. Information is comfort to me so we pressed on. We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet but I needed to know enough to feel like we were able to make a rational decision and not just an emotional one or like we were grasping at straws. I even pushed the issue a little more of trying fertility drugs with our current method and the doctor completely denied it again. I guess it was just really hard for me to let go of that because I was 110% sure that was going to be our next step.

So it was recommended that we move on to IUI or IVF but we probably can’t get all the logistics in place to start doing it until August at the earliest. I don’t know why it takes so long but then again, patience was never my strong suit. For IUI without any fertility meds we’d be looking at costs of about $2500 for each cycle with 2 actual inseminations occurring. (Right now we do 4 or 5 each month.) If we decided to use fertility meds for that process we’re looking at more like $3000-6000 per cycle. For women my age the general success rate for IUI is 20-25% per cycle. The success rate for IVF is more like 50% per cycle, which sounds appealing but it’s also a multi-month process which will cost more like $11000 per try. On top of that, you have cryo storage fees for embryos that can be saved for another attempt and for donor sperm units that have been purchased but not used. Making babies this way is expensive, people!

No matter which method we choose, it’s much more cost effective for us to work with a cryobank and order anonymous donor sperm than it would be for us to process our own donor, freeze his and use it. Of course, selecting a new donor brings a whole new world of options to us. It is kind of fun to think about being able to just call up and order half of your child’s genetic traits though. So, is your head spinning yet? Good. You’re caught up to where I was a few days ago.

It’s definitely overwhelming and I’m trying to take it all in as best I can. We’ve had increasing doubts about our donor arrangement lately and I feel as though this might be a little twist of fate pushing us in a different direction. I’m trying not to get too caught up on the dollar signs yet, but obviously that’s a major concern. Of course in the long run, whatever you end up spending is worth it but getting used to the idea of those bills is a big adjustment. Everything is an adjustment! We’ve really just spent the past few days beginning to wrap our heads around it and trying (unsuccessfully) to not let it stress us out.

For now, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. Our next appointment to discuss our decisions isn’t until later in June so we have some time. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing for at least that long and who knows, maybe I’ll get knocked up and all of this will have been for nothing. Neither of us think that discussing this with our current donor is necessary yet and we may not broach the subject until we have more solid plans or know that we’re done trying at home all together. (Some of you actually know him, so mums the word for now, k?) There’s just so much to consider that I can’t begin to possibly cover it all here, but that’s the big jist of the past few weeks. We have a LOT to think about and are feeling thoroughly overwhelmed by it at the moment.

The best part of the last few weeks was that I got very clear and positive ovulation test results this month. Sometimes in the past the tests never showed positive results and we just had to take our best guess. There was no guessing this time so hopefully that resulted in some very well timed inseminations. We are in our two week wait now so we still won’t know anything for a while. Lastly, we are still going to do the Q&A video I talked about in the previous post. I got lots of good questions but feel free to submit more because we still haven’t recorded it yet. Oops, we’ve been busy. There are certainly lots of new things to question!

If you’re still reading you deserve a big hug and I just want to thank you again for your continued support. I don’t know how I’d be getting through some of these days without the encouragement.


E & The Mrs.