Why I am Talking about my Infertility


Over the last few months I have joined twitter and have been apart of a community of other women and couples who are going through infertility. I wish I would have thought of this community sooner. My never ending google searches led me to blogs, which led me to twitter. I was hesitant on whether this type of support could really work for me.

At first, I thought me wanting to reach out to a group of strangers must be nuts! Imagine my surprise when I began searching for friends and 100s upon 1000s of friends with the related topic of “infertility” continued to surface. Imagine my surprise when this group of “strangers” helped get me through my first IVF cycle, keep my sanity when it did not work, and bring me laughter & joy in my everyday life of living with infertility. Imagine finding a group that just “gets it,” after a year and half of trying so hard to get those around me to get it- in one week I felt connected to this community and more connected to myself.

Through sharing my experience and getting advice via twitter I have been able to speak more to my own family and friends upon issues and concerns I face daily when it comes to my infertility. However, there is so much, so many do not understand. I thought I was the only one who wanted to vomit at the site of a pregnancy announcement via Facebook only to discover most of the community has deleted this aspect of social media for this reason.

Around Christmas I was feeling so raw. It was the time that had my IVF of been successful we would have been announcing our little one. It was the time in which family and friends thought our IVF didn’t have anything to do with the holiday and wondered why we weren’t fully participating in every aspect of this joyous occasion.

So I had an idea. If everyone was going to flood my newsfeed on Facebook I could
a. Delete my Facebook and let infertility take another part of my life away.
b. Share with the same family and friends the struggle of infertility.

I thought about it for awhile. I struggled with how much or how little to tell people. Did  I really want this on social media?  Who would I not want to see it? When the answers to the difficult questions were answered, I realized – I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of this process. In fact sharing our story might bring more awareness to the fact that many couples are going through this struggle. It might make my “friends” think a little harder before posting certain verbiage around being a mother. I couldn’t think of any negatives and so we decided we would do a photo shoot to capture the sadness and struggle of this last year and the hope for this new year.

Even the morning of our photo shoot we both had hesitation on whether we really wanted to go through with our infertility outting. Our photographer was amazing as you can see. She made it clear that she was not going to share the pictures on social media and that it would be up to us what we wanted to use and leave out.

When I saw the proofs later that afternoon, I cried. They were so beautiful. There were pictures of my husband and I playing in the snow, laughing, and moments of seriousness capturing pieces of our journey. It was the best photo shoot we have ever had. She captured the true connection between us. A connection I know and feel was not there two years ago. I could feel the love between us just glowing off the screen. For the first time, I wasn’t trying to find the right words, describe the devastation, or get someone to see the story my way. It was so simply stated in a matter of 16 photographs; our love, our dedication, our connection, and our journey to our baby.

I share both my photo’s and video with you because I believe our happiness and sadness our not ours alone. I believe with every perceived negative there is a positive, I believe that in the darkest of days there is still a bright light, and I know wherever you are in your journey whether infertility or something else – life has a plan for you for me for us. and where we are in this moment at this time is exactly where we are meant to be…

The Devastating Two Week Wait

The day you were conceived…

The embryologist slaps a picture on the table, it’s the first time we see you.

She said “hopefully this is the first of many pictures.”

and just like that…

I saw a baby smothered in cake with a birthday cap that displayed the number one. Seconds later, a little girl with a bob cut, smiling with her arms out and her two front teeth missing. A little boy telling a story to his dinosaur. Next, you standing in your cap and gown.

and just like that…

My future flashed before my eyes.

In four little cells it was already so clear to me how much I loved you. How long I have waited for you, and just how much life you have to live.

Just like that…

I was told to say my goodbyes to your daddy as he walked one direction and I was escorted to the other. Through our separation, determination, and great love for one another the thought of you was real. In moments we would meet for the first time and  you would be home.

I lay still on the table, the room dark, and oddly comfortable for its purpose. A big light by my feet, an ultrasound machine at my side, and a small cut out in the wall which I faced.

I said a prayer, I took many deep breaths, thank goodness for that yoga over the last few months. I imagined you  9 months from now. I gave myself permission to feel joy, excitement, and hope.

The doctor opened the door. Today, the procedure would be lightly attended; myself, the doctor, nurse, embryologist, you, and God.

The doctor touched my leg, and I watched as he bowed his head to pray. In this moment it all felt right.

just like that…

the embryologist handed over the catheter that held you. I said a silent prayer to St. Anthony as became one.

and just like that…

You were home.

Under Construction

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We purchased our home about 5 years ago. I remember walking through the 3 bedrooms upstairs and picturing rooms filled with children. A very vivid image of me holding a newborn on the porch and of my husband toting strollers and bags from the car.

It was where we would create a home, where we planned to build a life.

When we moved in I only redid our bedroom. It didn’t make sense to redo what would someday be the nursery to only redo it again when I got pregnant.

Over the years the house has surely updated and changed. I love it more with every passing day. The memories are beautiful and so much has been accomplished behind these four walls. However, 5 years later and still those spare rooms were empty, old, and in need of love.

I used them for storage and closest space. In one room sat the giant stuffed giraffe my mother purchased for me last Mothers Day. When I returned home from Pittsburgh and learned of our failed IVF cycle in September, opening the door to the spare rooms broke my heart. The room was just another thing stuck in a time of hope and “some days.”

As we approached the holidays it became unbearable. Opening the door always ended in tears. This old dusty room was like looking inside my uterus – so much potential but nothing happening. The Giraffe stared at me hopeful and ready for a baby and each time I’d have to playfully tell him “no Jeffrey not yet.”

The week before Thanksgiving I had an idea and knew exactly what I was going to do to make that room feel like part of the home. I was going to create my baby’s nursery. Yes, absolutely – you read that right. I was going to create a nursery for a child who was not yet conceived.

I went to Tom and told him how painful looking at the unfinished room had been over the last few months. I told him I needed to see something positive. He did what I expected him to do and told me “whatever you need, if it makes you happy – do it.” It is rare that my husband ever tells me “no.” He says it’s because he loves me so much but I think it’s because he knows what I need and when I need it.

So I went to my brother who has been doing construction his whole life because well my father owns a Construction company. I told him “I need your help, will you gut the room and make it a nursery?”

His eyes got big. I reassured him “no I’m not pregnant – just a little crazy.” He shrugged his shoulders and said “Yes, whatever you want.”

Like that construction in the new room began. He tore the walls  down to the studs, everything would be new. He has spent the last few months coming over on a Saturday to get it finished and ready for that someday baby. I’ve watched him look over every detail, stain the trim with his own hands, paint the perfect stripes on the wall where the crib will go, install the baby safe plugs and gate, and just be there for me as a brother.

He let me be excited and share my ideas of where I’ll put my baby stuff. Never made me feel crazy, gave me advice as a parent himself and reminded me we will need to secure all of the furniture. He played along and did not exclude me from the parents club even though I didn’t have a ticket of admission.

The rest of my family thought I had really went off the deep end. Between telling them I was finishing the baby’s nursery and having an infertility photo shoot- well they all wondered if I really was doing okay?

My mother asked “are you sure you want to complete that room? Wont it only make you more sad?” I told her that I wasn’t sure there was a state of mind that could be “more sad.”

I feel connected and aligned with the process. No-one understood how beautiful and wonderful this space will become but I know. It is like Gods plan for us. Sometimes were simply under construction.  Sometimes the walls are bare, sometimes we are gutted, sometimes we need to be torn and broken to be built back up and complete the grand plan. Though it’s hard to see a finished product beneath the rubble the vision has always been there. As I watched the room go through each stage and listened to the doubt in those who couldn’t understand I realized life is not much different. Perhaps my story is just like this room. God has a plan even if I can’t envision the possibilities.

There were weeks I didn’t look at the room  but as we began our second IVF cycle- well I’ve peered in a few times a day. I can’t help but think that the room will be done just about the time I’ll find out if I’m pregnant. If I’m not pregnant it will remain a spare bedroom for guest and If I am all I will need is a crib.

Either way that empty feeling of looking at a room in desperate need of help is gone. Even if it doesn’t hold my child 9 months from today – it’s progress somewhere, a next step, a place that I can go and be with what is…

So for now as any great finished project ever started –  “under construction.” 

P.S. I plan to share the pictures of the finished room in upcoming weeks.

Because I Loved You First…

When our first IVF cycle failed my husband and I were on different emotional roller coasters. Him feeling like the money and emotional investment were worth it and me feeling like I received nothing in the end but heartache.

Everyone wanted to know why it didn’t work !? Anyone that’s been through this process understands that’s not an easy answer even if you have a cause for your infertility, its not exactly best to put one of you in the hot seat. So we have always stuck with “because it wasn’t our time.”

Though we were secure in our answer I can’t say the same for others. My mother in law blamed me and in ways it affected how my husband began seeing the process.

In the weeks after our attempt he would say “well the sperm did it’s job because we had blast- so what happened?” While at the same time his mother was asking “well what does the doctor think is the issue because it’s clearly not Tommy.”

Finally, I was tired, hormonal, and angry. My husband began the conversation I had been avoiding for weeks.

I made him pull the car over. We were not going to do this anymore. Most of all we were not going to let anyone get involved in how we related to one another. I addressed his own insecurities, I reminded him this is our problem not mine and not his because if it were just one of us it would not affect the other. I reinforced the fact that I did not blame him. I concentrated on the positives – this was a child we were trying to create, a child we were creating not because we have to or because the timing is right but because I loved you first.

The car was quiet, I felt my shoulders ease, and watched the sun dance across the side of his face. His perfect face. He makes me crazy but he is just so insanely gorgeous and honestly I truly do love him more everyday. I see his physical features but I also see his beautiful heart and warm nature. Those are the qualities I want expressed in our child most.

“Without us there would be no baby. I have loved you for 8 years. When we got married we didn’t plan on children right away because we wanted that time together. It is because I loved you first that I can even think of baby.”

He sat there with a blank look on his face. The intense stare he gets when I say something that completely makes sense and everything just falls into place – but he doesn’t say a word.

“If at anytime in the process we were not to be doing it out of love than I no longer want to be doing it.”

My husband never spoke those words to me again and when his mother tried to make it about me he defended us.

Three weeks ago when we spoke to a fertility counselor for the first time my husband voiced our reason for wanting a child is because we loved one another first. He told her that our home was so full of love and we just wanted to share that with our child. He spoke of our struggles and that what pained him the most was to watch me constantly go through dissapointment. He told her our relationship would never be the same because of this journey and for that he was grateful.

My husband is a man of few words and often I repeat myself to make sure he is listening. It took a lot to get him to talk with the counselor and I was pleasantly surprised at how much he opened up.

I continue to remind him everyday that I loved him first… 

So we continue our journey to parents because we know we are meant to have a child. This time as we go into cycle two we’re both more emotionally prepared for the outcome but also have a better understanding that the reason we submit ourselves to such a gamble is truly because we loved one another first…

 

 

How It’s Suppose to be…

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Two years of known infertility seems like a long time. However, I’ve seen stories of 10 years of infertility. Then the stories of two months of known infertility.

You would think with more time comes more pain. Honestly I think two minutes of infertility is enough pain for someone to experience for a lifetime so the time doesn’t make it any worse or better- just more experienced.

Every negative pregnancy test hurts just as bad today as it did the second month we started trying. The main difference – I just expect less, I cope differently, and I do not try to make stories or reasons why it’s negative because I know why it’s negative.

The most healing part of this journey happened for me when I realized we are where we are suppose to be.

Loving myself and having faith has led me to understand that sometimes we can’t understand. Sometimes the plan is so grand that we would never be able to comprehend the end goal in this moment. So we must keep going, we must let go of the story “the way things were suppose to be” to let things be the way they are truly meant to be.

Easier said than done…

It is only human to second guess and wonder “what if?” So when I stopped second guessing every decision I made and obsessing over every detail of life- I felt a new sense of freedom.

It was a constant thought a burden a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I was failing, I wasn’t doing something right, because if I were God would give me a baby.

It was a very new thought process to think that infertility was the journey that God handpicked for my husband and I. It was not a mistake or a detail he overlooked in my life. It was not a punishment or a result of a circumstance.

In fact he had built me so strong that he knew  I would survive this obstacle. He knew I truly was with my soulmate and that our relationship and love would only flourish under the pressure and stress of building a family. He knew I would thrive. As I looked at my journey through these terms I realized in reality I was the chosen one.

In one of eight couples we were chosen. I still wouldn’t use the terms a “blessing” but in many ways it was a saving grace.

In no part of my heart or mind would I ever doubt my husbands love and dedication to me and our family. I would never wonder ever again if there would be a reason he would leave or wake up one morning and decide he no longer loved me. I would never question that maybe he would be interested in someone else. I will forever know he was made for me and I for him. If our love could thrive under our current circumstance than we could do anything.

In the most incredibly painful journey I could have ever imagined I found peace and love in my everyday life. I found reassurance and support. I found what some wait a lifetime to discover.

When we become parents in whatever way God has already decided I know how loved that child will be because the foundation of our home was built on pure love and respect for one another.

So today I remind myself this here and now is only one piece of the story. It is the  story God has written not the one I have in my head.

Each day is a new opportunity to trust the process and love what I already have that much more.

 

The Hard Parts Over

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I wake up, an IV in my arm a bag of fluids hanging by my head, I must be alive because that damn heart monitor is beeping. Ears are ringing and I have a headache that resembles the feeling of 10 shots of Jack Daniels.

By the edge of my bed sits my dad, his small rough hands picking at one another, his head hanging low with worry. “Dad?!” He looks at me, “don’t move kid, you okay, how do you feel!?” ” like I’ve been hit by a car, how long have I been out, how are you?!”

His eyes wide, he’s pacing now. ” I called mommy- she will be here soon, you know I’m no good at this stuff.”

By “stuff” he means my seizures. He means the unpredictable fact that I’m fine in this moment and gone in the next. The fact that he can’t fix this or make it go away.

I look at him. My heart hurts that my illness has put him through so much stress and worry. I say a prayer he doesn’t have a heart attack on me. I ask him to come closer. He hangs his head right to my ear to be sure he doesn’t miss a word I say. ” I whisper the hard parts over.”

He looks at me tears in his eyes, grabs my hand and says “that’s my girl.”

If families had a mission statement ours would have been ” the hard parts over!” It was the words of wisdom, the truth in doubt, the “for sure” when nothing was for sure. It’s words my father spoke to all four of his children in times of despair & even in moments of joy.

The words he told me the day I moved out, moments before I walked down the aisle, before I took my finals for college, Even the day I failed my driving test. It was the reminder that before this obstacle there were so many more – that to get here, well you had to have survived some pretty tough shit. To never forget that though it feels hard now this soon will pass.

Now as an adult my siblings and I joke. We openly discuss our trails and tribulations and sure enough before dad can even get it out- one of us is already repeating to the other “well the hard parts over.” With that we all laugh and can’t help but remember the many times in each of our lives that these were our fathers great words of encouragement.

They are simple, short, somewhat ridiculous but each time I’m walking through what feels like the burning gates of hell- I hear them “keep going kid, the hard parts over.”

Whatever your going though today remember all that you have been through to get you here. You can do it, keep pressing on and after all “the hard parts over.”

Hysterosonogram – OH MY

I thought after two years of infertility that there was no test I was a virgin too. Boy was I wrong. As we prepared to start our medications for our frozen transfer this week I was told I needed to undergo one more test a Hysterosonogram. When I made the appointment I thought it was another HSG test. 3 days before the test the nurse told me “oh no not the HSG test the hysterosonogram is no big deal!”

First mistake, no test or scan is really no big deal except for an ultrasound but if you consider the emotional anxiety that goes with an ultrasound I would say they are all pretty intense. I took her word for it and scheduled it for 11:15am on Tuesday morning.

I arrived ready to go and needing to get back to work by 12:30. I hadn’t taken Advil or anything for pain relief because I was not expecting pain.

As I walked into the office my phone rang. Ugh who could this be? Work? My other doctor? or someone or something pertaining to the car accident I was in on Saturday?

I stood outside and decided to answer as the number called me on the drive here and I had not picked up so whoever it was they were certainly trying to get my attention. It was the insurance company for the other driver involved in the accident he wanted to take my statement.

I decide to take the few moments and let him know my version of the events that led to the accident. He was much nicer than my own insurance company and let me know that regardless of the fact that it could be true that his client was lying it was my word against his and because there were no witnesses the claim would not end in my favor.

I stood outside the clinic for a moment and realized this would lead to a few painful decisions in the near future and that I was just going to have to take this one day at a time.

The nurse prepped me for the scan and we signed a few documents. I laid on the table waiting for the doctor, looking at the blank ceiling the ultrasound machine, the clean shiny equipment that would soon be inside of me. I realized 2 years ago how scary this scenery felt, how hopeful I felt staring at the ultrasound machine which displayed my name and date of birth. I realized I no longer played that game where I close my eyes and pretend that I’m here to see my baby’s heartbeat and tell myself – next time. I realized I found myself on the table thinking of everything but baby.

I was replaying the accident, remembering I forgot to tell my employees something before I left, that I hadn’t text my brother back from two days ago, that I needed to order a present for my cousin who just had his baby, and praying I would make it back to work on time.

The doctor came in reached for my hand explained they would be using a scope to view my uterus  he went on to say that at times it may be uncomfortable some people feel nothing while others have cramping.

In my head I’m thinking “I’m a pro let’s get this show on the road.” In reality I thanked him and said “okay ready for my close up.”

He put on his minor cap which is what I call that nice bright light that helps him see the very best of me. Grabbed mr.scope and went to work. Suddenly, every thought cleared my mind all I could think is “OH MY GOD PLEASE BE OVER NOW.” I asked the doctor “umm how much longer?!  “Well I haven’t been able to get inside the uterus to get a clear picture. He takes the scope out and we start again…

“OH DEAR BABY JESUS PLEASE HELP ME” Their pumping more of the saline solution and it is taking everything I have not to move on the table.

Finally the scan is over they have my lay on the table for  a little bit and as soon as the nurse leaves I hobble off the table to my purse and break open that Advil. I choke it down without a sip of water and pray it works soon.

“NO BIG DEAL?! SOME PEOPLE FEEL NOTHING!?” No way. That HSG test was a walk in the park compared to this test.

The next morning the nurse called me to let me know my blood work and scan looked great and we could start our medicine.

I had concerns that the stress from the accident might affect this cycle but honestly feel like it has kept my mind off of obsessing about this process and may be more favorable for us in the end.

I’m only a few days into the medicine and feeling only slight nausea after the morning does but otherwise well. Tuesday is my next scan. Fingers crossed.

Mission Impossible

About a month ago we went to the doctors to review our results. We have been on medication for 3 months and were told that we should see improvement by this time. When the doctor sat us down and asked if we had sought infertility counseling, I knew the news was bad.

I held my breath as he eyed the tissues and pushed them toward me. It is as if we are on a constant rewind and replay with a pause on all the terribly traumatic parts.  Watching him in slow motion point to the numbers from 3 months ago and then today is like watching a car accident I cant stop or a fire burning everything I love to the ground. I just wanted to get up and run. I don’t need the empathic sorry and the long pause of consideration where you let me feel my feelings. I want a shot of Jack Daniels and to curl up in a ball until I’m forced to live life again. Until I cant feel these feelings.

So we run through the list.
IUI- impossible
IVF – pretty close to impossible

So where are we now?! What are we going to do?!

Wait…

I’m tired of waiting my eggs are getting older everyday.

He reminds us that if we did decide to go through with the procedure it would be like a mission impossible. Well like any good warrior who doesn’t get to pick their mission, they fight until the end. We’re not prepared to lose this battle and if we do we are going to go down swinging.

3 weeks later and we decided to take on mission impossible. Our second IVF cycle is due to start next week. It is hard to believe we are here again – but were ready. I feel more aware and ready the second time around. I feel less consumed by the procedure and ready to accept our mission. After all “impossible” is a mindset not a guarantee.

How my nonexistent child helped me overcome my fear

At the age of 27 it was true I had never really driven a car. Yes, thats right. A college grad who has worked everyday and has never really driven a car.

Having seizures at times has meant my license has been suspended and when it wasn’t suspended I had my own fears about driving. I spend years making excuses about being “safe” and trying to convince myself I wasn’t really missing anything anyway.  Until 3 months ago.

When my IVF wasn’t successful in September, I realized that even when the worse of the worse happens- I will survive. Living in a state of shock for a good three months after my results I decided to take life by the balls. I decided it was time to stop making excuses, and most of all it was time for me to live the life I wanted and change the things I didn’t.

So I got behind the wheel and I drove to Home Depot. Thats right, to Home Depot I went. My first trip was to a place I would stand out completely. So I stood in the aisle, I walked up and down the store – here I was 27 in a store by myself for the first time in my life. No-one knew where I was or rushing me to finish. I even bought myself a tool. What the hell was I going to do with the tool –  I wish I knew?  It was an air hammer, it looked so small but powerful among the many tools and I thought “what better way to commemorate the day then to buy myself a tool that means business.”

The first month took a lot for me to even get behind the wheel, to not make excuses while in the house on why I should wait for my husband. To not car pool to work, to make commitments that I knew I could only get to if I drove. It was hard, it was really hard. A month later opening that car door was like second nature. I couldn’t believe I spent the last 10 years taking trains and walking blocks to get to school, car pooling for work, and missing out on fun events because I didn’t want people to know I didn’t drive.

Suddenly, all my hard work over the years was paying off. Yesterday, I had my biggest adventure- I drove over an hour and over a bridge to my IVF orientation. My clinic has an office that is only a half hour from me but it is not their main office. In order to meet certain nurses and people involved in the IVF procedure I needed to go to the office that was an hour away.

So last week I had the choice
a. Don’t schedule the only open appointment they had for 3 weeks though I needed that specific appointment to start my IVF cycle 3 days later.

OR

b. Give myself a nice pep talk and get my ass over that bridge!

So it was an easy decision. Nothing would stand in the way of me and my baby. Nothing that I could change anyway. Though there is so much of the process we have no control over, this part I did and so I took control.

New roads, new exits, a whole new me. Yes, I did it! Not only was I overcoming my fear of driving but my fear of bridges in general. As a child I would have to unbuckle myself and lay flat on the floor until we were over the bridge. As adult who took the train everyday- I had to adjust to riding on the edge of the bridge knowing I couldn’t lay on the floor. But driving myself over the bridge!?

When I got over the bridge I said to myself “well that wasn’t so bad was it? It only took you ten years and the promise of maybe a baby to overcome your fear!”

I have been evolving over the last few months. The growth is magnificent and honestly I don’t know if anything could have pushed me the way this nonexistent child has pushed me. The promise and hope of tomorrow. The feeling of accomplishment. The drive to want to be that much better for when my baby does arrive. The things we have to work for in life are that much better in life – I know meeting my baby will be no different.