Strength I Didn’t Know I Had {NIAW}

Well, it’s the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week.  I meant to have my last blog up by now, but this is really the first bit of solid time since yesterday that I’ve had to sit down and kind of process everything.

I know that infertility awareness is supposed to make people who have never dealt with infertility more educated on the fact that it’s a disease and how to respond to people who confide their struggle in them.  And I did receive a couple of comments about how friends were learning from my posts (SWEET!).

But mostly I just feel like this week has made me more aware of my infertility.

Mother Nature has a twisted sense of humor because, in honor of NIAW, I started out with a REALLY rough cycle (I even felt like maybe I was having another early miscarriage because it was that heavy and painful).

And then on the last day of NIAW – today – was my best friend’s baby shower.  Her sister, another close friend of ours and I have been planning it for a few months now.

As we were doing the planning, they were both so understanding when I would start feeling overwhelmed and have to take a step back.

I just kept telling myself  “you got this, D.”  I got a lot of encouragement from friends which really meant a lot to me.  I got text messages from a few people today telling me they were thinking about me and hoped I was doing ok.  It’s touching to have people take a moment out of their day to just tell me they care.

I was in charge of the games and I’d put off getting everything together for so long that the date just kind of crept up on me.  I’d ordered some things online a few weeks ago, but I spent most of this week running around to different places trying to find the perfect finishing touches.  My sister helped me GREATLY last night by making a game for me on Excel (since my subscription ran out and I can’t use Office anything except online – ugh) but I was up til after 1 am getting everything completed.

This morning,  I got up, showered and had a stern talk with myself about not crying or ruining the day.  After I’d pushed back the tears a few times while doing my hair, I finally gave up, crawled in bed with J and let myself cry for a little bit.  He just kissed my head and reminded me that our day is coming, and whether I get pregnant or we adopt, we will be parents one day.  (Have I mentioned I love that man?)

The shower went beautifully.  The decorations were flawless, the cake was ADORABLE and the company was enjoyable.

My bff’s mom and sister, as well as a couple other people who were there, know of my struggle.  I felt their glances here and there and even got a couple “How are you doing?” – which is always hard to answer because I don’t think the answer they’re looking for is “eh”.

I think they caught me brushing away tears a couple of times.  Or biting my bottom lip to keep it from quivering.  But I think overall (after a pep talk in the bathroom mirror – don’t judge), I did pretty darn good!  I only had to escape to the bathroom for a meltdown once.

Trying to figure out what to get her was kind of difficult.  The thought of browsing through the baby department was just more than I could bear.  Watching her open all her gifts and seeing those precious outfits and baby gadgets made my heart break a little with every “awwww”.

What I ended up making for her was a “New Mommy” Coupon book.

coupon book

It took me FOR-EV-ER!  Made painstakingly with love.  It has coupons for mommy & me manicures, bottle feedings, venting phone calls, movie night in, date night with babysitting, housecleaning, emergency trip to the grocery store, etc..  She cried while reading it, which in turn made me do the same!  (Hence the one bathroom meltdown.)

When I got home, I just fell into bed and slept for a couple of hours.  After waking up and sitting on the couch remembering the day for a while, I got teary and emotional.

I feel like today taught me a few things:

  • I might just actually be stronger than I feel sometimes
  • I can make it through situations that I don’t think I can
  • there are some people who you will just deal with painful emotions to be there for
  • I don’t think that I’ll be attending any other baby showers in the near future

I have so much respect for the women that can go to every pregnant friend’s baby shower.  Someday, it make get easier but, the last few days have really taken a LOT out of me – emotionally.  For now, I’m going to have to protect my heart because doing what I did today took a strength I didn’t know I had.


http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

From Cloud Nine to Ground Zero {NIAW}

What I’ve learned on this journey is that it is a roller coaster.  An out-of-control, up-and-down, give-you-whiplash kind of roller coaster.

emotional roller coasters

There are moments that hurt and hope occupy the same space in your heart.

When you first hear the diagnosis – infertile – its shocking.  But what’s more shocking than that are the things they DON’T tell you.

Like how every time you see a pregnant woman, you’ll have to look the other way.  Or how you will take the longest way around the department store to not have to pass the baby section.  Or how your heart will splinter a little with every pregnancy announcement and shatter wide open when that announcement comes from your best friend.  Or how, despite the jealousy towards women that don’t deserve to have babies yet do, you will speak out for children that don’t have a voice – even if it means going against your family.

They don’t tell you that you will feel embarrassed.  And ashamed.  And broken.  And lonely.  And like a disappointment.  Or how you will go through every step of the grieving process – every month.

It’s also shocking how – even month after disappointing month – your heart will still skip a beat at a late cycle.  It’s shocking how – even while fear chisels its way through your heart – hope battles it, if only for a moment.

Every month that we fall apart after a BFN – we wipe our tears, dust ourselves off and try again.  Terrified we won’t be successful, but confident we will be less successful if we don’t try.

Infertility has the potential to destroy so many things.  Self-esteem.  Self-image.  Friendships.  Marriages.

But it also has the potential to make those things stronger through the brokenness.

You can either be beaten.  Or beat it.

My husband and I have had some very real, very raw moments that I remember wondering if we’d even make it through.

He never thought we were fighting about infertility, but I knew that it was always the underlying cause.  The elephant in the room.  Just sitting there.  If it were a person, I’d imagine it wringing its hands with an evil smirk and cackling while saying “Peeerrrrfffeeecct.  They’re fighting.  I’ve got them right where I want them.”  Only we decided that wasn’t where we wanted to be.

There are SO many things that are out of our control in this process.

How we respond to it isn’t.

 “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Some days, I feel like that ratio is pretty darn skewed!  As if dealing with all these emotions isn’t enough, we also get the pleasure of helping every.  single.  person.  that hears our story make their dream of being a Doctor come true!

Advice, comments, stories, anecdotes, cures, old wives’ tales, sexual positions, relaxation methods.  The list goes on and on.

lucky me

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s SO IMPORTANT for those that hear us tell our story to remember:

  • If you haven’t experienced it personally, you don’t understand
  • When we do open up about it, just listen
  • Don’t give advice unless you’re asked specifically for it
  • The chance of getting pregnant doesn’t go UP with more sex, it actually goes DOWN
  • Our ages DO have a lot to do with it (even though every person in Hollywood can get pregnant at 95)
  • PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE  don’t tell us to relax.

There will be days that we will be walking in the clouds and having a great time and then something triggers us.  Please give us grace as we go from Cloud Nine to Ground Zero.


 

http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/emotional-aspects.html

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

One of THOSE Days

When dealing with infertility, some days are better than others.

Who am I kidding?  A day is a LONG time.

When dealing with infertility, some minutes are better than others.

I NEVER knew that I could feel so many emotions at once.  In fact, most of them are conflicting.

Lately I’ve been doing pretty good.  I’ve been pretty even-tempered and content.  But apparently, life wanted to reteach me lessons I’ve already learned.

Today (now yesterday) started out as a great day.  And it stayed that way most of the day.  And then…

And then, I tried to update my iPhone.  And lost EVERYTHING.  Pictures, data, contacts, dr’s appointments, fertility information.

iphone-5s-setup-20

When you’re as OCD as I am and you keep all things TTC in your phone – temps, dr’s appts, cycles, symptoms – and you lose everything, it feels like you’ve lost a limb.

Even if you aren’t OCD, being thrust into the world of infertility will change all of that.  You will document everything.  You will put it on your calendar.  You will save every doctor’s phone number and address.  You will download MANY apps to track every. possible. symptom.  And if you lose it all, it’s devastating.

Infertility will change a LOT of things about you.  After walking in the storm for awhile,  you will soon realize you aren’t the same person that walked into it.

My faith is very important to me.

I trust that God knows exactly how this will all end.  I pray every day that it will end the way I dream, but more importantly, I pray that His will be done and that I will not be too stubborn or bitter to accept it.

There are days that I cry.  There are days that I scream.  There are days that I smile.  There are days that I talk.  There are days that I don’t say a word.

And they are all the right way to handle my emotions.

I’ve found that I have to let myself feel every emotion I have as they come, or it turns into something much worse later.  But I’ll go into that tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m just going to sit here and process.  And get all of my Dr’s phone numbers off the internet so I can call tomorrow and find out when our appointments are again.

And then I’m going to go to Walmart and buy a calendar and a journal so that I won’t have another one of THOSE days.

P.S.  Sorry this blog is more of a rant than an informative, National Infertility Awareness Week blog post!  But I guess that’s life, huh?!

Holi-daze – Resolve to Know More

Holidays are fun and joyous and exciting!

Loved ones gathered around – sharing stories and giving gifts and spending time together.

When one of those loved ones passes away, those holidays are now a sad reminder of all the good times.

Death is painful.  And while that loss is very hard, there’s a difference between the loss of a loved one and the loss of a dream.  When a loved one dies, there’s rituals – closure.  You go through the grieving process and, while you remember them on the anniversaries of those losses, the pain gradually recedes.

With infertility, there’s no closure.  Just when the wound of another negative pregnancy test has the time to heal, it’s reopened again the next month.  It’s like this constant revolving door of pain.

To couples struggling with infertility, holidays are yet another reminder of our unrealized dreams and memories yet to be made.

Children barely getting any sleep on Christmas Eve in hopes of catching Santa leaving presents under the tree.  Of seeing the Easter Bunny hiding eggs.  Of choosing a costume that transforms them into their favorite superhero or character.

When you get married and make the decision to have kids, you think about how you’ll decorate their room and what you’ll say when they have the cutest puppy EVER follow them home and how old they’ll be when you let them start shaving.

But you never think about how many cycles will pass that you get a negative pregnancy test or how good you’ll get at knowing down to the moment when you ovulate or that trying to make that baby just might not be fun anymore.

Maybe you’re the person that bought an ornament just for your child’s first Christmas.  Or you have a stocking that you have to keep in the boxes every year while you just hang two.  Or you have the CUTEST Easter outfit for church.  Or the perfect Father’s/Mother’s Day card stashed away in a secret spot.

But as the holidays come and go, you’re in a daze.  You go through the motions and smile on the outside.  But on the inside?  On the inside, your heart is just trying to beat past all of the broken pieces.

I’ve been asked why we even celebrate with just the two of us and was told that we should just enjoy not having to fill stockings and wrap presents and shouldn’t even decorate a tree.  Like there’s some unwritten rule that if you don’t have children, you’re not allowed to participate in the festivities.  THAT hurt.

holiday e-card

Mother’s and Father’s Day are especially hard.  It’s the time when everyone is celebrating motherhood and fatherhood.  While we celebrate our mothers and fathers, we are reminded that there is a void in our hearts that hasn’t been filled.

I can’t wait until the day that we will giggle like teenagers as we oh-so-stealthily put presents under the tree for our child.  I can’t wait for the day that we will dress our child up and take them door to door trick-or-treating.  I can’t wait for the day we find new creative places to hide the Easter eggs we’ve decorated.

And I especially can’t wait for every night that we will get to pray with our child and kiss them on the forehead as we tuck them in and wish them a peaceful slumber – and then stand in the doorway, arm in arm, and marvel at the miracle that we get to love for the rest of our lives.

Until that day – we will continue to smile.  And celebrate each other.  I may be in a holi-daze when those times come around, but I’m doing my best to make it through.  And sometimes, it’s okay to not be okay.

So, when those holidays come around and you know someone who is struggling with infertility – just remind them that you love them.  If you ask them how they’re feeling and they tell you that they don’t want to talk about it, don’t take it personally.  We always remember those who make a genuine effort!

For more tips on how to cope with the holidays, visit: http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/coping-with-holidays.html

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

Resolve to Know More…

This week, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I will be blogging about the facts of the disease of infertility.  That’s right, disease.  In fact, an article I read recently stated that it’s the 3rd most serious health condition after heart disease and cancer.  Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age.

We are 1 in 8.

We are 1 in 8.

 

According to RESOLVE,  infertility is a disease of the reproductive system.  Infertility is often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age.  If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.  One-third (30%) of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and about one-third (30%) can be attributed to female factors.  In about 20% of cases infertility is unexplained, and the remaining 10% of infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.

My husband and I are in that small 10%.

There are many different risk factors that can contribute to infertility.

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Tubal Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • DES Exposure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

I struggle with PCOS and him with MFI (male factor infertility).  We’ve been trying to get pregnant since we got married in November of 2011.  We had a miscarriage in August of 2012 and in March of 2013 my OB prescribed Clomid, which hyperstimulated my ovaries (OHSS).  I ended up needing emergency surgery to drain the cysts that had grown.  In June, July and August of 2013 we went through medicated IUI cycles (one pretty heavily medicated), which were all unsuccessful. We are currently saving money for IVF through an online fundraiser – www.youcaring.com/munchkin-mcnabb – which our RE feels is likely the only way we will get pregnant.

There are often no signs or symptoms that will indicate a problem with fertility.  But getting to know your body and understanding patterns it’s set will make that process easier.  If you feel there is a problem, seek help right away.

This week I’ll discuss family building options and the emotions that come with this journey!  I am so grateful for the awareness that is being raised and the opportunity that I have to take part in it!!

2014-niaw-image

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)