Tag Archives: stress

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.

Advertisements

Planning To Start A Family

16 Jul

One of the best things about having this blog has been meeting and coming to know others who want to start a family and talk about that journey. In fact, I just got this from my ask box on tumblr:

Hey there. Through mutual fangirlness of Grey’s I started following your tumblr and twitter and from there found your blog about trying to get pregnant. Basically I am asking you for any advice that you have. Me and my fiancee are planning our wedding and we know that in the next 12-24months we are gonna wanna start trying to have a baby. We just want to know if you or your Mrs have any advice, anything we should think about before starting any preparation. Thank you.
Susie

It can be a very intimidating road and I have been asked by lesbian couples a few times where to begin. I decided to write a post with what we thought was some good advice. This is a very personal process and decision so undoubtedly your roadmap will vary but this should give you some things to think about.

Since I’m mostly asked by other lesbian couples, this is tailored to them.

Start Saving Money – It is never too soon to start a “baby fund”. Really, never.  Sit down with your partner and look at your finances and figure out how you will afford getting pregnant, doctors visits, birth, adoption, legal fees, all of the things the baby will need and even child care eventually. Don’t overwhelm yourselves, but it’s a good way to financially commit to this decision. Even if you don’t earmark the costs specifically, trust me, you will be able to find some way to use that money and the earlier you can start socking it away, the better. Starting a family is especially expensive for same-sex couples and can be even more so if you live in a state where you cannot be legally married.

Live In A Stable Environment – Is there room where you currently live for kids? If you will need to move then that’s another cost that you will have to plan for. Some people feel like they need to own a home before they are ready to have kids, but I don’t necessarily believe that. You should know that you live in a place that will work to raise a family. If you start somewhere less optimal and get stuck there for an extended amount of time, it helps to know and like the school system that you are in. Think about your own education too. If you have educational goals that you are still working on, try to finish them before you start trying to conceive that way you can focus on your family when the time comes. It also goes without saying that you should feel like your relationship is stable and your partner is someone you want to raise a child with. Talk to your partner about marriage if you haven’t already done so. If one or both of you would like to be married or have a wedding before you have kids, that’s obviously another large cost you may need to plan for.

Talk About What You Both Want…A LOT – There are a lot of decisions to be made in this process and it’s intensely personal. Talk about why you each want a baby and if they are good reasons. You have to be ready to give up a lot and put your children’s needs first. Talk about the process: ICI, IUI, or IVF? Known donor or anonymous? Would you like your children to physically resemble you? Who will carry? Would you prefer to just adopt? We spent many evenings talking these things over and revisited some of them many times. You should know what is important to you and to your partner and what you can compromise on. A lot will depend on your budget and some things may not go exactly as planned. For us, we decided that we were going to start this process with the least evasive methods possible and take more aggressive steps forward in six month increments only as needed. Other friends I knew decided that IVF was a better choice for them and they began with that. Of course, you’ll need to work with a doctor before you can determine what your best course of action will be. You should have discussed these things enough to know your general preferences as a couple before discussing it with a Physician though.

Get A Good Lawyer – We found a great family law attorney and worked with her to get our medical power of attorney, wills and living wills in place years ago. If you do not live in a state where you can be legally married, these are very important to secure your rights and wishes. You may want to find an attorney that specializes in gay rights and adoption. We also used our attorney to create legal agreements between us and our known donor. These protect him as well as us and our child legally to the best of our ability and we would not have dreamed of trying to conceive without them. It’s likely that you’ll need a good attorney to complete an adoption or second-parent adoption for you in this process as well. Some lawyers specialize in adoption only. If you know same-sex couples in your area that already have kids, they are often the best to ask for a referral.

Educate Yourself – Read books and surf the internet to try to find resources. One of the best books I read early on was The Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy for Lesbians. The book has a lot of other resources listed in it and it will give you A LOT to think about. If nothing else, it was a really good tool to get us asking ourselves those important questions about what we wanted. As we talked about our choices, my curiosity about all of the options grew deeper. Learn about artificial insemination methods, sperm donors, adoptions and pregnancy as much as you can now. You’ll be glad you took the time to become informed proactively when you have to start calling the shots.


Create A Supportive Environment – The internet became my best friend. I found comfort, support and a lot of good advice in the blogs of other couples who were going through this process. Often, I found links from there to other blogs (I’m a bad blogger and never set that up, but they are out there). Talk to others who are going through it. I also created a good little support system for myself on twitter and that has been amazing! We ended up having a community that was rooting for us and picked me up on some pretty dark days. It was nice for me to have a bit of anonymity sometimes so that I could be honest and vent. But, there’s a dark side to the community too. You will inevitably watch others reach their goals before you do and that can be hard. I liked using the internet because I could turn it off when I had to escape. Some people prefer the comfort of talking to their family and friends about the conception process instead. I would just caution you to choose your audience wisely. Not everyone may approve, understand or have positive words for you and you should trust your gut about who will listen and be supportive in a way that you need when you are fragile. Communicating how I felt at times was very cathartic and some days when I was depressed about it I just couldn’t stand friends asking me how it was going. But everyone reacts differently. I wanted to tell my Mom what I was going through but I didn’t want her to know too much so we could hopefully surprise her with news one day and I was SO glad that worked out. I guarantee you will go through so many more emotions than you can anticipate. Find those who you can come to on good days and bad alike.

Get Healthy – If you’re planning on getting pregnant, or supporting your partner through a pregnancy you should be healthy first! Your body mass index should be in an optimal range for your best chances at fertility and if you have weight to lose or gain, a year in advance is the best time to do it. Try to achieve your optimal weight (and stay there) for at least 6 months before you start trying. If you smoke, quit now. It’s one of the best adjustments you can make for your whole families’ health. If you plan to quit drinking coffee and soda while you are pregnant, wean yourself off the caffeine about six months beforehand too. The morning sickness will be enough on its own without the caffeine withdrawal.  Start taking prenatal vitamins 6 months to a year before you plan to conceive to prevent birth defects and find out if any medications that you are on are safe to take during pregnancy. If they aren’t, try to find ways to get off of them in that year prior. I also found it was helpful to find out your blood type if you aren’t sure. If you are the one trying to get pregnant it’s important to get familiar with your menstrual cycle. Track it and try to learn about your body’s ovulation signs. Maybe even buy a basal body thermometer and start taking your temperature or use ovulation strips. Anything that helps you get the hang of when you will be most fertile. I found that keeping the info in a fertility app on my phone was easiest. Getting in shape goes for your mental health too. If you have baggage or emotional issues, consider getting therapy and working through it. Be the best person that you can be before you start bringing more people into this world.

Find A Good Doctor/Practice – You have to be comfortable talking to your doctor about your relationship and your plans. If you want to get pregnant, you should make a preconception appointment with your OBGYN (or take time during your regular appointment) to talk about it. If you have irregular periods, I’d advise doing that a year out. My doctor put me on birth control as an attempt to help my endometriosis subside and give us better chances before we started trying. That was a six month process and if I hadn’t gone so far in advance, I would have felt a little disappointed by the setback. It’s also a good idea to have regular STD testing done even if you think you have nothing to worry about. Most insurance covers them anyway and they will probably be required before any type of insemination. If there is anything to find out and treat, you’ll be glad you did it early. Talking to a doctor that doesn’t specialize in same-sex families can be a bit awkward at first, but you have to be willing to speak up and you should have a good feeling about your doctor and their bedside manner before you decide if you want them to handle your pregnancy.  This all makes sure that you have your ducks in a row and it will ease that transition from TTC into pregnancy when the time comes.

Make A Baby Bucket List – This process can take a while and sometimes, there is just nothing to do while you wait. We found it helpful to make a list of things that we wanted to do before we had kids and things that we wouldn’t be able to do for a while after. Go to Vegas, jump out of a plane, stay in bed all weekend, etc. (Okay, so I chickened out on the jumping out of a plane thing.)These are just examples of things that helped me feel like we were doing something for us that didn’t directly involve, doctors, lawyers or trying to get pregnant. Enjoy your lives, have fun with your partner and bond while you check things off your list. You’ll be able to look back one day and treasure that time before you were Mommies. I promise, doing those things will give you an escape and help you feel less overwhelmed. They’ll also make you feel even more ready to start your family.

Change Your Lifestyle – There was a time when we used to spend every Friday and Saturday out drinking with friends and dancing at the club. Even though I got very bored of “going out” I felt like if I was sitting at home on a weekend, I was lame. That may not be your speed, or maybe it is right now but you may want to work on changing that before you end up pregnant. Sometimes this just happens as you get older anyway. We started making a conscience effort to stay in watching movies at home on Friday nights if we didn’t already have plans. We spent more time with our own families and friends that already had kids and things naturally calmed down. It shouldn’t be nearly as much of a culture shock for you if you adjust slowly. We felt as though we had a group of friends in our lives that focused heavily on drinking and created more drama than they were worth so we sort of intentionally drifted out of that scene. We made new friends and we know that they will be there and want to spend time with us, even when there are kids in tow. Look at who you keep around you and if it fits into what you want your life to be.

Give Yourself Time – You have to be ready for anything once you start trying, but also patient enough for it to take a long time, especially if you are dealing with reproductive issues as we were. People are having kids later and later now and some of them fear that dreaded age 35 when your fertility begins to decrease. Find the balance that works best for you and don’t rush. The bottom line is that nothing teaches you patience and to expect the unexpected like having kids. Know what you want but try not to set unrealistic expectations. It can be a hard and scary process and I learned that sometimes things that you think won’t happen to you, do. It’s also the single most rewarding thing you might ever do with your life. Try to relax and enjoy every step of the way.

We hope this helps you and send our best wishes for starting a happy, healthy family!

E, the Mrs & 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.

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.

We now return you to regular blogging…

10 Apr

Sometimes this process is tough and the past few months have been no exception. I got frustrated and was dealing with some depression over the whole TTC thing and this blog definitely suffered. My apologies for the silence. I’m usually a pretty glass-half-full kinda gal but a lot of perceived rejection can bring you down a bit. I still tweeted about our experiences sporadically, but I hope to be getting back to it here more regularly from now on. It’s much easier to convey what’s going on. I’m really starting/trying to feel more positively about things again. Maybe I just hated winter. I dunno.

We have still continued to try to get pregnant with the exception of one month (more on that later). I felt at times that a break might have been important for us emotionally, so I cut back on some other stressful things to find enough balance to get by. I stopped teaching spinning classes for a while, but I’ll be returning to those later this month. It was a welcome reprieve, but I have really missed the designated exercise time in my schedule. I know I need that again. The largest project of my career launched in December and that is finally beginning to run smoothly and quiet down now as well.

One of my close friends that was pregnant had her baby and somehow, that was a relief. I think that circumstance was particularly hard because we had been friends so long and had so many mutual friends and family intertwined. It was really difficult to see their excitement focused on her pregnancy and then get asked “So how’s this going for you?” in the next breath. I’ve spoken about feelings of jealousy before and although the green-eyed monster is hard to avoid, it’s a little easier for me to stand when I get to hold my friend’s cooing daughter.

This cutie lives right down the block from us now

This cutie lives right down the block from us now

So we didn’t get any positive pregnancy results in those past few months but we certainly have had some ups and downs. Our biggest trouble has been communication with our donor and his boyfriend. We knew that at some point they were going to be doing some traveling across the country for a few weeks and we had conversations about how they might try to work that around my ovulation schedule. Basically, that didn’t happen. When it came time to leave, all of a sudden we were faced with their decision to now take a 6-8 week long trip possibly taking us out of the game for 2 months. Due to circumstances out of their control, they had to come home and we only missed one month but it still caused a lot of doubt and some “are we still doing the right thing?’ conversations between us.

I tried to look at the whole thing as an opportunity instead of a loss. I went to California during March and had a lovely few days with friends when I would have otherwise been sitting at home probably stewing and over-thinking things. It was a great time and I’m really, really grateful that I got to literally leave all of my cares behind for a short time. My wife was so understanding of my need for that distraction then and I’m incredibly appreciative of that.

When I returned from my trip, I went for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test that we had been discussing with our reproductive endocrinologist since December. Basically, it’s a test where they place a catheter through the cervix and inject contrast dye  until it fills up the uterus and fallopian tubes while performing an xray at the same time. This allows us to tell whether I have uterine deformities or fallopian blockages and was the next step the doctor recommended to make sure we are not dealing with an infertility issue on my part. The good news was that the test was completely normal. The bad news, they do it while you’re completely awake and “this may hurt a little” was a bit of an understatement. Ow. Fortunately from what I’ve read and been told, this test also serves the sub-purpose of “clearing out the cobwebs”. Even if there are no major blockages to be found, the rate of pregnancy 1-3 months after having the test is a  bit higher afterward.  So then we planned to try again a  few days later. Cue the next dip in the rollercoaster…

Our donor and his boyfriend had returned from their trip but had been invited up to a mutual friends cabin to go camping for the weekend…the same weekend I was ovulating. Luckily, they know what we’ve been up to and they invited us along so that we could continue to try that weekend. I was grateful that it was much more of a house without cable or internet in the woods than a real rustic cabin and I could be pretty relaxed and comfortable for the weekend. We realize that the guys are doing us a favor by working with us so we really try our best to be accommodating, but this whole “let’s-go-camping-AND-try-to-make-a-baby” road show is really getting old. We asked to please really not have to do it again. Nonetheless, we survived it and got a few tries in that weekend.

Not too shabby for a “cabin”, eh?

So, that was a week and a half ago and we’re closing in near the end of our two week wait to find out if it worked. Our policy is that we don’t test until I’m late, so we still have some time and I’m trying to think positive thoughts since this month is statistically a stronger one after the HSG test.

Unfortunately, we’ve hit another snag though and the guys are talking about moving away. Pretty far away, actually. They have said they are and then they say they aren’t or they aren’t sure and emotionally, that has been pretty tough for me because I am a planner and I like to know what’s going on (three months in advance, preferably). We’ve had a talk already with them about communicating their plans to us so that we can work with them, but it seems they continue to disregard that plea and in some cases, we’ve found out (and been hurt) in rather roundabout ways. The bottom line is that we’re going to need to have another talk about this soon and figure out if this the path we are really going to continue on. Tough decisions. I’ve really loved the idea of having a known donor but the hassle of making it work has grown considerably since we started.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking about doing a little Q&A video in the near future about us and our journey so far. I’d love it if you would send along questions that my may have for us. Pretty, pretty please? I thought it would be a fun way to sort of get back to the blog and a bit more fun than just reading responses on a screen. Anything about us or how we’re doing this or feeling is pretty much okay and we’ll answer as many as we can. You can either ask us in comments, tweet me (@elyima) or if you’d like to ask anonymously, you can do that here (just keep it clean/appropriate please).

Hopefully, we’ll be back with news and a video next week! Thanks for sticking with us. We’re determined to become Moms one way or another!

The RE and this month’s results

30 Nov

We had our appointment with the Reproductive Endocrinologist last week and it went really well. He’s a good listener and seems to have a great sense of empathy for his patients. That seems so hard to find these days, doesn’t it? At the appointment we talked a lot about what our methods are and how the process has evolved for us so far as well as our philosophies on medical intervention and fertility drugs. He agreed that we seem to be doing most everything right and made a strong recommendation to change the pattern of days that we try. Initially we were inseminating every day for 5 days and then I was told to change that to once every other day for a span of 5 days. This RE suggested that we try once a day for three consecutive days beginning maybe a day before ovulation if we can time it that way. Apparently the every other day technique is more of a recommended strategy for heterosexual couples that are TTC with intercourse, not through insemination. (Cue *eyeroll* that the advice had come from this doctor)

Above all, I was really happy that this doctor heard my plea that I felt as though it was time to take action. I was happy that he was willing to make suggestions to modify our method, but I really needed to know that we were on the track to solving this. If we’re dealing with infertility and it’s me, I need to know. He recommended that we do some blood work to check my hormone levels about a week after ovulation and get our donor’s sperm count lab tested and go from there. Luckily, it was exactly one week since I’d ovulated that day and we could do my blood work on the spot. The control freak in me cried “Hooray!” and I walked out with a pretty pink band-aid and a follow up appointment in a month. So we went on with our life and our two week wait. To tell you the truth, I hoped that we’d tempted fate and that a positive pregnancy test result would be followed by the bill for those blood tests in the mail in about a week. It’s like finding the thing you were looking for right after you’ve gotten home from buying a replacement for it.

Thanksgiving came and went. My Mom THOROUGHLY stressed me out over stupid crap and just when things seemed to be calming down, I went to the bathroom Friday afternoon and noticed that I was spotting. I couldn’t believe it. Typically some light spotting 6-12 days is usually thought to be implantation bleeding and weird as it may sound, it’s a pretty good sign. The bleeding occurs because the fertilized egg is implanting itself into the uterine lining and about 4 days after that HCG can become detectable (which is the stuff that makes a pregnancy test turn positive). This type of bleeding isn’t rare, but only about 30% of women experience it. I never had before and therefore was never really looking for it anymore. We tried to keep a level head about things but admittedly, we were both pretty pleased with such a well-timed good sign.

I went crazy. My POOR wife. I thought my other waits had been bad and although this was not as bad as my very first one I wondered every single second if I was pregnant. On top of the spotting (which continued off and on through the weekend), I was tired, a little queasy at times and my temperature stayed up. I had experienced some twinges in the same spot in my lower left abdomen for a week. It wasn’t unusual to have them, but usually not in the same spot so consistently. We decided that we’d take a test on Monday morning since we were both off work. We knew it was early, but I thought  we might get lucky if we used a really sensitive test and could get a very faint line.

I woke up and took the test but no lines appeared. Despite the negative result, the symptoms continued though so we hung onto hope that it was just a little too early. That afternoon the spotting continued and I was still feeling pretty bummed about the test so we went to the gym hoping I’d get a little endorphin pick-me-up from it. I teach spin classes regularly so through this whole process I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing how hard I can push myself so I don’t risk overexertion while we’re TTC. With a full class, the spin room got pretty hot so I took it easy and hydrated a lot but found myself getting abdominal cramps towards the end of it. I eased up even more but it didn’t seem to help. After class I realized I had really started bleeding quite heavily and had gone from spotting to heavier than a normal period. It stopped for a few hours when we got home so I went to bed hoping that the worst was over and planning to try to take another test again when I woke in the morning. I still had 2 days before I expected to get my period anyway so I hoped it was just intensified bleeding from all the activity.

I went to bed last night and woke up again less than an hour later and was really disoriented. I remember feeling like I didn’t know what was going on or where I was but my wife said I was asking a lot of questions and just looking generally confused. I think I was in some sort of between-dream-and-awake place but I was drenched in sweat so she turned a fan on over our bed and encouraged me to go back to sleep. I don’t know if that was related to what was going on but it wasn’t a regular occurrence for me to wake up like that. The heavy bleeding had returned by this morning and I woke up with strong stabbing cramps. It was much worse than my heaviest period but backed off by midday but the cramps still have not. I’ve had a couple bouts of hot flashes today that last 5 minutes or so but then they go away. I’m near launch for a HUGE project at work right now and while I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a very stressful time. I had to do an hour presentation today to about 30 people in the room and about 50 viewing online. Being in front of people was just the absolute last thing I wanted to do today but on the bright side, the day flew and I had no time to think about much else other than my work.

So it appears that we’re out this month. I’m not sure if what I was experiencing earlier was actually implantation bleeding and then something happened? Did we have it, then I lost it? Could this be from stress? I certainly hope it didn’t have anything to do with the spin class since I do them regularly and I’m pretty cautious about my limits. We try not to get our hopes up but it feels pretty devastating when something like this happens. We felt so close and now back at square one again in just the span of a few days. We are comforted by the fact that we already have another appointment on the books though. Hopefully, in a few more weeks we’ll be able to shed some light on the situation and figure out if we are achieving a chemical pregnancies and how we can make them stick.

I also just wanted to give a big THANK YOU to those reading this and still following our journey. I can’t express to you how awesome it is to know we have a supportive group of people behind us when it feels like the world is against us. There are some days (like today) when knowing that you guys are rooting for us and thinking of us really helps pull me through and keeps me from melting down. We’re determined to have our family and are so grateful for the energy and motivation you provide. WE LOVE YOU GUYS!

Dear Body, WTF are you doing?!?

1 Nov

So, I’m 4 or 5 days late. (It depends who you ask if they count the first day or not. I do.) I am never late. Since I started tracking my cycles so that we could conceive, I have not been late by more than a few hours. The day that I ovulate has fluctuated a few times, but never the arrival of my period.

At first, as you could imagine we were really excited about this. This past weekend we were out of town and I packed a few pregnancy tests just in case I would be late. Can I just say that for some reason, having to take a pregnancy test in a hotel room feels kinda slutty? Anyway…Our policy is that we don’t test until I’m late so I don’t often get to take a test. I bought some huge bundle of cheap ovulation and pregnancy test strips from Amazon a while ago. The store brands get expensive and the reviews were reliable, so we decided to give them a try. The ovulation strips had worked out just as well for us as the pricier ones so we were happy with them.

On the first day that I was late, I took a test. It was negative.

On the second day that I was late, I took another one of those tests…again, negative.

I was kind of freaking out and didn’t take a test on day 3.

I started to wonder if these tests were not as accurate as the ovulation ones. When I got home from work yesterday we ran some errands and I wanted to pick up some of the more sensitive home pregnancy tests. I like the First Response Early Results test. You’re supposed to be able to take one before your period is late and it can detect lower levels of the HCG hormone. I had never been this late before so I don’t think I had been that nervous to take a test since our first month. We got home and I took it but it was also negative. I even let it sit for an hour LOOKING for another line to appear….Nope.

Today is day 5 and I knew that it’s common to get the strongest test results first thing in the morning. It’s when the most HCG would be present for a pee test, so I did that. Well…

So then what is actually going on with my body? This is completely frustrating. Is this because of stress? My diet, exercise routine and other major factors in my life are pretty much the same. I have a call in to my doctor already so I’ll mention this when I talk to her.

A few months ago I requested to have my levels checked and she said that’s not something they do until we’ve been trying for 8 or 9 months to get pregnant. Well, this will be month 8 so I’m pushing for that. I’m just getting increasingly concerned that if it’s taking this long and now with irregularities in my cycle, something else could be wrong. I hope she calls today and I get an appointment to start talking about what our next steps will be. This does not feel like progress at all.

In the mean time, life has actually been getting really stressful and I’m going to have to cut some things out and draw my lines in the sand. Management has changed at the gym where I teach spinning classes and the environment has grown really negative in the past three months there. The classes are a great way for me to make some extra money and work out while maintaining a free membership, but I’m just not enjoying it and they’ve been stressing me out a lot lately. If it comes down to it, I guess I’ll have to resign. My health is much more important.