A Lot of Love + A Little Science

As I sit here, my lovely Aunt has decided to delay her arrival by a few days.  For the last 25 years of my life – well let’s call it 20, since it took some time to get it regulated after I started my cycles at the tender age of 10 – my cycle has been the ONE THING that I could count on.  The ONE THING that was constant.  And then January happened.  I’ve never looked forward to my period…  until after I bled for 11 days last month and was kind of anticipating when I would start again.  Not because I WANTED to.  But because I REALLLY hoped that after all this time that the ONE thing I’ve been able to count on being constant – isn’t changing.

change-same

Of course, it could be a GOOD thing.  I’ve even had some ‘symptoms’ over the last week or so.

Crampy feelings?  Check.

CRAZY tired?  Check.

Cold symptoms?  Check.

BUT, I’ve tested negative on every home test I’ve taken.  All one of them.  Don’t judge.  I can’t take that much bad news.

The irony is NOT lost on me that I just had my 35th birthday in January and now all of THIS crap.  I already know all of the statistics that say that my chances of getting pregnant naturally after 30 years old go WAY down – I didn’t need a reminder!  I’d already been dreading 35, as if it were some magic number.

After all of the issues with the bleeding from last month, in a visit with my OB I asked if there was anything that could be tested to tell if my body would even ACCEPT a pregnancy.  There is a panel of tests that they can do that will support that… but it is VERY costly and normally only done after a woman has 2-3 miscarriages.  Due to that fact that I’ve already had one, we’ve had 3 failed treatments and my age (ugh), my OB decided that they would go ahead and order that test.  It totally WIPED me out!! The first time I went in, they stuck me 4 times and could only get one vial.  The next day I went in and they got all they needed without a hitch, but it kinda sent me into a tailspin.  I’ve recovered from that but got to do the fun runaround on the phone today trying to get the results to my dr’s office so that I can find out just what the answer is!!  I told my sister and best friend earlier that I may just not be bleeding this month because I lost so much last month, my body may not have any to spare!!

blood

Anyway!  Did you know that a woman is born with ALLLL the eggs she’ll ever have?  A baby girl is born with over a million eggs!!  (I can’t help but picture Dr Evil, pinky to mouth, “one milllllllion eggs”)  By puberty, only 300,000 of them are left and only about 300 of THOSE will actually mature and release through ovulation.  According to an article I read on babble.com,  “many studies show that a healthy 30-year-old woman trying for a baby has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month.  At 40, that number shrinks to 5 percent.  Add to it that the rate of miscarriage is higher in our 30s, as is the chance of having a baby with a genetic abnormality.”

So much information.  Some days it’s really hard to not get discouraged.  There has been a lack of blogs from me lately, mainly because I try not to write when I’m down.

I always have people telling me “Don’t lose faith” “Keep your hopes up” “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen” and other such anecdotes.  I want this to be crystal clear…

I haven’t lost faith.  If anything, my faith has grown.  I have faith that God knows just what is going to happen.  I hope every month that it will be THE month.  But, unfortunately, that doesn’t make having to wait any better.  It doesn’t make negative tests any less painful to see.  It doesn’t make answers – or no answers – any easier to hear.

Many people have issues with women relying on science to get pregnant.  They feel that it goes against God’s will.  (Yes, I’ve actually had someone say that.)  My response is simply this…  Do you feel that way about medicine?  What if someone you knew had cancer?  Do you feel like it’d be going against God’s will for them to participate in chemo or radiation?  I know that cancer and infertility seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as diseases go.  And I agree that the outcome can be much worse if cancer isn’t treated, but studies show that “women with fertility problems are as stressed, anxious, and depressed as women with cancer, heart disease, or HIV.  Blood tests, pills, injections, ultrasounds, and procedures cause stress and emotional upheaval in women.  Also, society fails to recognize the grief caused by infertility, so people denied parenthood tend to hide their sorrow, which only increases their feelings of shame and isolation.”  My point is – why is it ok to believe that God would give men and women the knowledge to create treatments that can cure diseases, but not include infertility treatments in that knowledge?  I’ve NEVER been more grateful for science IN MY LIFE!

love+science

Dear Best Friend

Usually when I sit down to write I’ve been contemplating what I’m going to write for quite a few days,  so by the time I sit in front of my laptop,  I have a pretty specific idea of what I’m going to write.  This time – while I’ve definitely got an idea of what I want to write about – I’ve sat here staring at my screen for awhile hoping the words would come.  So if the following is just one big, garbled mess – well, then it won’t be much different than most of my other blogs!

When I moved to Kentucky,  I did so at the begging request of one of my best friends.  We met in a funny way,  and she will tell you how much she disliked me because all I did when we first met was ask her questions about a guy she’d dated – that I was now dating.  Well, the relationship didn’t last,  but the friendship has gone strong, and only gotten stronger, for MANY years!  She’s been by my side through some pretty rough moments and NEVER passed anything that can even slightly be conceived as judgment on me.  I can tell her anything – and I mean ANYTHING.  She knows some of my deepest secrets.  I sang in her wedding 9 years ago and when she told me in December that her and her husband were going to start trying to have a baby,  I was very happy for her!!  I knew that she would be an amazing mother!  She has the patience of a saint (unless she’s driving, but that’s a California thing!) and she’s so dag-gone SMART!  But then those conflicting emotions started ranting about in my head & heart once again!  I still remember her saying to me  “What if I get pregnant before you?”  I told her I would be happy for her – and probably a little sad, too.

thinnest line

I remember a few conversations we had in the beginning of their trying to conceive.  At four months,  she was confused and frustrated because she wasn’t pregnant yet – “Why isn’t it easier?” – and believe me,  if I knew the answer to that I’d share THAT with her, too!!  We even had a couple heated conversations that consisted of me trying to remind her to give it more time.  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe she was frustrated.  Or that every negative test or started cycle did hurt her.  But after a certain amount of time and that “label” – if she got there – things would change and she would wish she could go back.  At eight months,  she was frustrated that she STILL wasn’t pregnant and I started getting scared for a new reason…  while I didn’t mind sharing EVERYTHING with her,  this was one thing I did NOT want to share!  The pain, heartache and devastation that are a part of this journey was NOT something that I wanted her to know!  I often prayed that she would get pregnant soon.  Not too long after she returned from a vacation to Hawaii with her husband,  I was sure that every phone call or visit was going to end in that announcement that I’d begun to anticipate/dread – “I’m pregnant!”  And I only say ‘dread’ because as I would sit and play out the announcement in my head,  there were always so many different reactions that I’d envisioned – and every one of them involved tears.  I never actually dreaded that she would become a mother!  I just want to make that VERY CLEAR!!

I’ve often wondered how I would react if I ever found out someone close to me was pregnant.  Someone that knew of our struggle.  I’ve talked to friends that are dealing with infertility and have dealt with such news, and they have told me that the reaction is directly proportionate to the way the news is told.  I was able to put that wondering to rest on Sunday.  I found out that my best friend in the entire world – the woman I share everything with, consider a sister and love with all my heart – is going to be a mother.  I can’t think of anyone else that deserves it more.  She came over and spent a good chunk of time looking up grants for adoption (sidenote: IT’S EXPENSIVE!!!) and as the time came for her to go home, I could tell she was stalling for some reason.  At first, I didn’t think much of it,  but then she said “I need to tell you guys something.”  I knew, and my heart kinda stopped.  The news was met with tears,  but not as many as I’d anticipated.  She was so thoughtful in her approach.  She used such care and caution.  I told her congratulations and apologized for my tears.  She said she understood – and I know that she truly did.  And then she hugged me.  I didn’t fall apart until after she left.

that feeling

I LITERALLY laid awake all night that night.  My emotions did what they do best – waged a full-on war inside of me.  I was SO happy for her!  Why did I feel so sad?  I was so excited for her!  Why did I feel so angry?  I wanted to ask so many questions!  Why was I so afraid of the answers?  As I think about it, those emotions haven’t really subsided much.  And I feel like that makes me a selfish friend.  But still, she understands and doesn’t judge me.  Fears that I hadn’t even thought of have popped into my head.  I cannot – nor do I want to – imagine any part of my life without her in it, yet I can’t help but be scared that things will change.  It was hard for me,  but I know it was hard for her also.  And the fact that she put so much thought and consideration into how she was going to tell me makes me love her even more.  I wasn’t sure what my next words to her would be, but this is what came out:

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process my feelings, as I didn’t sleep at all last night…  I want to start by saying, I am VERY happy for you and I know that you will make a wonderful mother.  I know that it took courage to tell me and I can imagine that it probably made you nervous to do so.  I am glad that you left when you did – not because I wanted to be rid of you but – because you didn’t have to see what happened next.  It’s so hard to describe all the emotions I’m feeling. I am grateful that you will never understand this feeling – this heartache.  I’ve prayed many times since you told us for health for you and the baby.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t give you the screaming, jumping up and down with excitement reaction that I’d always dreamed we’d share with an announcement like that.  I wanted to offer to go with you to your first appointment but the pain that accompanied that thought was unbearable.  I promise that I will do my best to stand beside you through all of this.  I will fight diligently to swallow my pride and selfishness and not only be at the baby shower but help plan it.  It’s what you deserve.  But when the moments come that I break – and there will likely be many – please understand that tears of joy will be mixed with the tears of pain.  I am sorry that you have to be so cautious with me.  I am sorry that I’m so fragile.  I am sorry that I can’t offer the unbridled excitement that you deserve from a best friend.  I hope that it doesn’t hinder our relationship, and I also promise to do my best not to let it.  I appreciate how patient you’ve been with me, and will need that patience now more than I ever did before.  I am excited for you.  I am excited to be a part of this child’s life.  I hope someday to have a child that will become as good of a friend to him or her as you’ve been to me.”

And it was met with a response that reminded me why she’s my best friend.  And why she will make the best mother.  She reminded me that she wants to be there in good AND bad times, and that while she wants me to be involved when I could, that it was ok if I couldn’t.  She told me that she wants me to be a part of her’s and her baby’s life forever…  and what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t honor that request after all she’s done for me?

best friend2

Know what I wonder?

I wonder how a woman that used to light up around babies can hardly even glance in an infant seat when she’s in public? I wonder how a woman that used to get butterflies in her stomach when she saw a pregnant woman has to turn her head when one comes in view? I wonder how a woman that used to wander through the baby section in a department store for fun now has to find the route that keeps her the furthest from it? And then I remember… The woman that used to light up around babies, now feels how heavy her empty arms are. The woman that used to get butterflies in her stomach when seeing a pregnant woman, now only sees a reminder of her barren womb. The woman that used to wander through the baby section, now only sees painful reminders of what age their child would have been. And I only know that because that woman – is me.

dream

Sometimes I feel so dramatic about the situation God has given to my husband and I. I remember that there are women that have been travelling this path far longer than I have. There are women that have felt far worse pain than I’ve felt. But saying someone can’t be sad because someone else may have it worse, is just like saying someone can’t be happy because someone else might have it better. And just because it could be worse doesn’t mean my pain is any less real. It’s been really hard for me to see so many friends get pregnant. I’m overcome by feelings of bitterness and jealousy when I see the announcements. You see… it’s a fine line. That line between being happy for you and being sad for me. I haven’t learned how to walk it just yet. But I’m trying.

The saying “the things you take for granted are the things someone else is praying for” became very real and personal to me earlier this year. On a day that was challenging enough in it’s own respect, I received the news that someone that was once very close to me – who has basically thrown their life away for that “fix” – was expecting a baby. I know where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, what I was wearing. I will never forget hearing the news that had just “slipped accidentally”. The words “I’m sorry! We weren’t going to tell you because of the miscarriage!” swirled around through the fog of emotion I had been enveloped in. I couldn’t think about anything but getting off the phone as quickly as I possibly could – to save the person on the other end from hearing whatever it was that was playing tug-of-war with my tongue to be uttered. As I hung up, I don’t remember saying goodbye, and I can’t quite put words to the feelings that completely overcame me, but I do remember hitting my knees & trying to catch my breath. I can only liken the feeling to what I’d imagine it’d be like being hit dead-center by a MACK truck. Not fun. AT ALL. I remember it finally hitting me and thinking, “Wait? You mean you KNEW and you didn’t TELL me??” I hastily composed a text to someone very close to me, a text that toed the line between accusation & sheer amazement that they’d actually kept the secret from me. The response was simple… “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt you.” I felt that now, not only was I dealing with the gut-wrenching fact that someone was getting the gift I’d been begging praying for, but also with the fact that I’d been lied to. My head could grasp the concept of protection, however getting my heart on the same page has not been so easy.

When women that have been diagnosed infertile are trying to get pregnant, there is a long list of methods that are tested, through trial and error, to obtain the outcome desired. Although sometimes those methods have side effects that are unexpected. In March 2013, my (new) OB-GYN decided that it was time to try Clomid. Clomid is the given name for a medication that makes most women have mood swings that would make even the most pleasant woman go from 0 – BI*$% in 3 seconds flat. Thankfully, I didn’t have much of the mood swings. Hot flashes? Check. Headaches? Check. But then, about a week and a half after taking them, I went to the Emergency Room for severe abdominal pain. At first, the dr’s in the ER were completely puzzled. My symptoms manifested themselves as a classic case of Appendicitis – pain, nausea, loss of appetite. They did all the testing and everything came back mostly clear. The only thing that showed up on Contrast CAT Scans were the large mass of cysts that had developed on my left ovary – measuring 4.4cm. They weren’t convinced that there wasn’t something deeper going on and with the evident amount of uncontrollable pain I was in (even after large doses of morphine & dilaudid), they admitted me to the hospital and told me that the Internal Medicine Doctor would be in to see me in the morning. After a fairly brief discussion, he told me that he would give his recommendation to the Surgeon and I’d hear back shortly. The next I heard was a few hours later when the nurse came in the room and told me that I was to be prepped for Emergency Surgery. When the surgeon came in to talk to me in Pre-Op, he told me that they were going to go in laparascopically (three small incisions) and take my appendix. He also said that the cysts they saw on the CT Scan were large enough that he felt they would probably need to be drained. So, while he was in there he took my appendix, drained the mass of cysts and also ended up removing blood from cysts that had ruptured. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the pain. My hubby had to take me back to the ER only 9 days after surgery, to which it was discovered that the mass of cysts had not only came back, but were now measuring 5.6cm. Know what that meant? No more of that fertility medicine for this girl. The medication that has been used for YEARS to help women get pregnant was now on the list of “Things Dacina Can’t Take To Get Pregnant.” And to add insult to injury – the person so close to me that had gotten pregnant? She had her baby 3 weeks to the day before we would have been due. Hard to not let that little tidbit of information mess with your mind.

After everything kind of settled down with that, the OB decided that the next course of action would be to have my husband get an analysis done. The results of that first test were devastating, to say the very least. We were CERTAIN that the results were wrong. She wanted us to have a second one done, just in case something had actually gone wrong. (Gentlemen, there are SO many things that can affect your swimmers that you don’t even CONSIDER!) But in the meantime, she had referred us to… [insert ominous movie music here] an Infertility Specialist. As if it hadn’t been real before, now we had to see a SPECIALIST. We booked the appointment for the Specialist and the second analysis all very quickly. Thankfully, the results from the second came back completely normal.

I knew, through some research, that Kentucky is #48 on the list of “Fertility Friendly States” so when my OB told us that the best specialist around was in Cincinnati, we were okay with it. It’s only about 1 1/2 hours from where we live, but still… it’s 1 1/2 hours from where we live! Thankfully they had a satellite office in Florence, which is only about an hour. On our first visit, I remember the triage nurse asking me how far we’d driven to get there and when I’d told her just an hour, she said they’d just had someone there that had driven 3 hours! SHEW! I feel like he was totally worth it now! Then we met him and I KNEW he was totally worth it. The consultation and ultrasound actually took less time than the drive up there. It was so much information so quickly and I think my hubby and I both just felt completely overwhelmed by it all… but, now we had a gameplan!! We were on the road to getting pregnant!!

Of course one of the looming obstacles now is, the exorbitant cost of the infertility treatments themselves… But, we are taking it one day, one step, one breath and often days, one tear at a time….

please

Post Script: Resolve has since updated & Kentucky is now #50.