Ok…maybe I’m not done :)

Oh the intoxicating allure of hope…  I sat in my car this afternoon cringing at the thought of hopping on the hope wagon.  Sure enough though, as soon the elevator doors opened and my husband and I walked through the clinic doors…I was drunk on hope again.

I don’t know if its the smell of the antiseptic or the color of paint on the walls or the familiarity of the chairs.  No matter what it is, I am comfortable in this all too familiar waiting room that flows with an undercurrent of hope all around.

Our appointment was good. It was like the movies when you see the single woman go in picking her sperm donor.  Do you want him to be 32 years old, 6’0″ with brown hair  and eyes with an Italian descent? Or perhaps 6’4″ with a Norwegian decent and blue eyes?  But after the guys details, we got their wife’s details…and now we get to pick the potential baby concoction that these two people could make.

We ended up with four files to choose from. No extra information provided other than what cycle they were on, how many embryos they had, what day # they are…and details on how their situation shook out. As well, we were told if we are the first to grab some of their leftovers.

Its funny, with IVF I learned how to interpret my results…but this is different, now we have to judge someone else’s results, make an educated crap shoot guess and roll the dice!  Luckily the doctor weighed in and gave her order of preference for us to pick from…this matched my initial thoughts, so that helps with the decision making.

My husband compared our appointment after we left to the excitement of the casino.  Should we put it all on red? or lucky #23? (Oh, how we do love roulette!)

Now back to the question…am I done?

I really thought I was done before I walked through those doors. Must have been all the questions I asked in my appointment, but the doctor picked up on my mood and noted that I was likely struggling from a bit of “fertility fatigue” and recommended the therapist as a resource.  I guess this feeling of  “being done” is nothing new and pretty common when you have been on the ride as long as we have.

So, am I done?  I don’t think so…but time will tell.

Done Try Again

 

 

 

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Am I done? 

DoneHere I sit in my car waiting for my 3:20 pm appointment to start. I have been patiently waiting for 3 months.

This is the “WTF” appointment to look back as well as the “kick off” appointment for our next embryo donation opportunity…

I used to get excited for appointments like this. This time, all I can think… am I done?

The stress of the next round crept in this week. I have been clenching my teeth…that’s my first official signal. My mind has raced a bit, but mostly it’s just tired and cringing at the thought of meds and hoops to jump through for the next 6 weeks.

Then there’s my wallet… It’s less inclined to open and throw the money around like it has been in the past. It’s small potatoes compared to previous expenses…but the clasp is tighter than ever.

My husbands game, but I’m on the fence. Am I done? 

(I will follow up later)

Big. Fat. No.

Well, the verdict came down last week and the results were that my woman’s intuition was drunk on estrogen and progesterone suppositories. As confident as I was the last day I posted it was a positive, the minute I clicked publish the doubts rushed in and the subsequent hours before testing dragged on.

I know I thought it would be possible to hold out a few extra days, but that was really a silly thought as there is no waiting for results when the beta day rolls around. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I ripped open that home pregnancy test as fast as I could and raced to the bathroom.

Seeing the same old 1 line news was no surprise and as much as it was a kick to the gut again, this one was a little less painful.  I think likely because we have our adoption pieces in motion and we are officially waiting.  I feel fortunate that I avoided those extreme low feelings of grieve and loss….but then my husband questioned if we are just getting numb to the process (yikes, that is a scary/depressing thought).  Don’t get me wrong, it was still a bummer…but not the devastating fall from grace I have felt before. By the time the nurse called that afternoon with the officially beta results, I was doing pretty good….I was also extremely distracted by a hectic day at work (gotta love the timing on that one).

By far, the hardest part of the day was telling our donating couple that the treatment was a bust. We had spent some time building a relationship and I know we were all looking forward to our unique family bond we would have…but then *poof* it was gone. I think we all felt the loss for that relationship more than anything. I am going to have to have them over for dinner to say thank you or something…as their kindness has brought me renewed hope for the future despite the outcome we face.

So, where do we go from here? Well, firstly, we continue to wait for adoption. Secondly, the clinic informed me last week that because we were now officially registered in the Embryo Donation Program with all our paperwork in order, we can now move on to a second attempt with an anonymous donor. Our next appointment is 12 weeks away in August, so that gives us time for a little break in between. The best news is we can add normalcy back to our lives and relax and enjoy our summer in the mean time.

moving-on-quotes-1

 

 

 

 

 

The Homestretch

“No testing prior to June 1”… that is what the yellow sticker on my beta paperwork says. Hard to believe it is just a few days away now. Like a complex recipe… I am one part relieved, another part terrified and, of course, one big part excited too.

finish

Having been through two negative IVF results before, I can’t help but look at the week ahead strategically. I have received one negative result while at work and another one while on a road trip with my husband. I have to admit that I preferred the news while with my husband and away from a regular day of work/life. Unfortunately, this go around I have poorly planned my life and I am staring down the barrel of loaded mid-week test, I will have no choice but to learn of my results at work…however, I could delay my test a few more days? (Wow…can’t even believe I am suggesting that one!!).

Getting to the end of the two week wait is like reaching the end of an ultra-marathon of positive and negative thoughts (a true mind f*** if I do say so myself). However, for me this go around I seem to have tapped into my inner Jedi and I have found mostly peace of thought the last two weeks which is why I feel like it is possible for me to drag out my test date. How did I achieve this peace of mind? Well, I credit the inner work  I did earlier in April and May where I looked my greatest fears firmly in the face. I highly recommend the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown for anyone on this journey. I can honestly say that her words of wisdom and encouragement to lean into the discomfort of pain made all the difference for me today.

I do wonder if this thought of delaying is like bracing for another negative though…the truth is if you were to ask me now what I think my result will be…I truly believe it might have worked this time. I don’t have any symptoms to base the optimism on; I just have this feeling that “something” is different. The last time I was in the two week wait was in September and by this point in the process I knew it hadn’t worked. I was already grieving…and I hadn’t even peed on a stick yet; my certainty of failure was just plain old woman’s intuition. This time, if I was a betting woman on intuition, I would say it will be a positive test. (Yikes!! this is a truly terrifying statement to even think, let alone share with any one at this stage…but hey, I gave myself permission to hope with reckless abandon and by golly I am).

Now don’t get too excited for me…there is still what seems many days to go. This feeling is literally that…just a feeling. I haven’t gone out and purchased a crib yet, but I am quietly and cautiously optimistic today and I am hoping this optimism will lead me to the right decision this week. At the end of all this, ‘what will be, will be’ and if I fall, I will get back up again. I have such peace in knowing that I have done everything I can in this journey…so please share my hope that this time is our time too.

What Will Be, Will Be…

Thank you to everyone for their prayers and well wishes last week. I was touched by all the comments from everyone in our lives and this community. The good news is that everything thawed out perfectly and we transferred two “nice looking” day three, nine cell embryos. (The “nice looking” comments were shared by the embryologist just before our little procedure was under way along with “good looking uterus” and “great lining” from the doc and nurse…just the words that every girl hopes to hear as her legs are in the stirrups before being impregnated).

Tomorrow will be 7dp3dt… or rather seven days post three day transfer; so week one is officially under my belt. My beta is scheduled for June 1…so nine days to go! I stayed relatively calm the last week and tried to not read into too many twinges or cramping. Not sure if it had to do with me having the week off or maybe I am still in the honeymoon phase or maybe the fact I feel fairly bloated the last few days is my hopeful sign.

This two week wait is not my first rodeo…and I feel like I know the traps to avoid such as Googling every symptom, testing or getting caught up in those mind circus “what if” thoughts. It is no doubt on my mind, but it’s not always the only thing on my mind which is likely the difference from the last number of go rounds on this crazy ride. I credit my pre-transfer self-help work that I did, such as listening to the “Power of Now” and keeping my therapists mantra/reminder that ‘what will be, will be’ at the forefront of my thoughts.  There isn’t anything I can do to change the outcome at this point, so I can move forward knowing that I have officially done everything that I can do…no regrets.

The other piece of news which could be helping calm the waters is that we officially got our adoption home study paperwork done last week. I dropped off our first draft with edits at the office on Monday and by the end of the week we had our official letter arrive in the mail stating that we were on the waiting list (Woo Hoo!) As much as it is exciting to be on the list (finally), the reality of the long wait (3 years) ahead is deflating to any sense of anticipating excitement. The good news is that at least the clock has started…the hardest part during the home study process was to know that things were moving forward, but the clock still wasn’t running.

Tomorrow I am back to work and I am ready to get back my life back to normal as best I can. Normalcy will help the remaining days of this two week wait to wind down (hopefully quickly) so that we can move forward again in one of two directions…pregnancy or adoption…the best news is that no matter the result we will eventually be parents.

Waiting (2)

Transfer Tuesday!

That’s right, today is the day! I can’t believe that it is actually happening. Who would have thought a year ago that we would be in the position to accept direct donated embryos today?

You would think my head would be hectic with thoughts leading up to this morning’s appointment, but I am extremely calm and all those fears I had that I talked about a month ago in previous posts seem to have faded far into the distance. My mind has been eerily calm the last two weeks, which is why I have been a little MIA from the blog.  I figured… let the sleeping dog lie…versus spending time digging into something that really wasn’t there for me.

I must say though the lead up to today has been exciting. I gave myself permission to be excited and share and not worry about the results…and that’s exactly what I have been doing. I found myself wanting to be pretty open with close friends as to what we are up to this month and it’s been electrifying to see their enthusiasm. Most people’s jaws hit the floor when we explain how we came to find our donors and that just reminds me how lucky we are in all of this.

Last week, I had a therapist appointment…sort of like a little tune-up in preparation for the two week wait. I hadn’t been to see her since January as she was on maternity leave for a few weeks so I had to bring her up to speed on everything. After I shared all my hopes and fears about this transfer she picked her jaw off the floor and said, “When you talk I can hear the caution in your voice a little, but then there is this positive excitement bursting all around it as though you are in a big crowd of people and you just won the lottery and you desperately want to scream in excitement but can’t.” The visual she gave me has given me a smile for the last week, I had never thought of it that way, she definitely nailed it. I am realistic that the odds of this working are in the 30-40% range, but then there is all this excitement around that as with our embryos the odds were never that good.  It is like winning the lottery.

On top of everyone’s excitement, there has also been the excitement of the donating couple. She has been checking in with me by text the last couple of weeks and seeing how I am doing. The other night she said she was super excited for us and couldn’t sleep and I know her husband is feeling the same way too as he was the most excited at the beginning.  On top of everything else, I had to thank her for her excitement because it is most definitely contagious.

So if you are reading this post first thing Tuesday morning please send a little positive thaw vibe our way. If its after Tuesday, well I would be grateful for sticky vibes, baby dust or any little prayer our way for the next 2 weeks. My prayer this morning was for both embryos being transferred thaw out safely and then are transferred with the intent to grow, grow, grow.

TransferTuesday

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage…right? Well, not quite, at least not in this life that is a soap opera. I got the love and marriage part perfect…although maybe a little later than I would have liked in my thirties. From there the story takes a number of extraordinary twists that I never saw coming – infertility, specialists, tests and treatments, the news we can’t get pregnant on our own, my parents separation, my father’s admission of being gay, the pursuit for adoption…with our family story seemingly climaxing with the newest twist of a possible pregnancy through the embryo donation of a friend of a friend.

Seriously, does all of that even seem possible for one person to go through in a couple of years? And aside from love and marriage piece, can you believe that most of the heavy stuff has taken place in the last 1-2 years. Don’t even get me started on the drama I have experienced professionally with a crumbling industry and economy….that’s a whole other saga.

Now, I am not one to wallow in my hardships…I get up most mornings with a smile on my face and a positive outlook. But my husband and I are often in awe about life. All of these twists and turns don’t even feel real…it feels like someone else’s story (but it most certainly isn’t…you can’t make this sh$t up!). When I do take a minute or two to look back it feels more like a way to keep track of everything and then pat myself on the back, smile and say “WAY TO GO!”

Coming through all this I learned a few key lessons:

1) Keep moving forward…put one foot in front of the other day after day and you will get through it. I have had days where I have been a little stuck, a little down or on the verge of tears, but in order to survive and thrive it really was about moving forward even if it hurt. The next day got a bit easier and then the one after that a little easier than the last too. Always find that way to move forward.

2) Find Outlets – for me it was my husband, my close friends, this blog (thank god I started this blog!) and of course, therapists. There is ZERO shame in going to someone for a little help. Professionals help us navigate the most trying of times and they don’t judge. I even learned through the adoption home study process that it was more of a positive than a negative to seek professional help because it showed you knew how to manage difficult situations in your life. I would be naïve to think that I will only deal with one or two difficult situations in the span of a lifetime. We all need all the help we can get!

3) Everyone is Dealing with Something – as much as we may think we are alone or the only one struggling. I truly believe that every human being on this planet is walking around dealing with something. Not everyone may share their struggles with you, but they are there. Despite what Facebook or Instagram might show…everyone has rocks in the baggage they are carrying around.

Now, I could get stuck if I continue to look backward. But, as my self-help book “The Power of Now” explains the freedom is in the present moment. We are not our past and we are not our perceived future…we are who we are right now. And right now, I am on a business trip sipping a nice glass of wine in a fancy hotel lounge in a beautiful city and the truth is – life is good.

Strange

Updates & Permission Slips

My last post was focussed on fear of failure and I essentially shared all the scary stories that float around in my head. I am happy to report after that post that I feel like my act of sharing powerfully resulted in me letting so many of these fears go. Of course they are still there at times, but rather than being in the front row heckling…they are now sitting towards the back of the auditorium that is my mind. Yay!!

In the world of the upcoming embryo transfer, things are definitely trucking along. I officially started treatment last Monday and I am now a slave to the five 4-hour alarms a day on my phone. I get the odd headache from the nasal spray, but aside from that minor annoyance I am fine. I do think I might be a little more sensitive though as I nearly cried at the accountant’s office when I realized I had forgotten an education receipt for our taxes. The tears were just beneath the surface and it was all I could do to hold it together as we left the office. I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders for no good reason other than that my hormones were amplifying the situation tenfold. Luckily my husband is strong and he took the weight of the world off my shoulders with a few quick reassuring words.

On top of the kick-off to drugs this past week, my husband and I also started the next big step – the building of a relationship with the donating couple and their family. It was going to be a night at the pub, but we ended up landing on a Sunday dinner together. We also got the pleasure of meeting their two children. The night turned out great, but ringing the doorbell was as nerve wracking as a first date. A half an hour into the evening we were chatting like old friends and eating make-believe fruit salad that their kids had whipped up in the play kitchen. It was a lovely night and it was good to be infused with their excitement and the hope we all have for a happy ending.

On top of all this, I also continued with my at-home self-help work. I finished the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown and I am contemplating running out to get her other book “Daring Greatly.” I definitely recommend “Rising Strong” to anyone as the emotional falls and uprising she talks about in great detail through the book definitely correlate with the infertility rollercoaster as well as many other crisis and failures we all face in life.

One big nugget that I am taking from the book is this idea of ‘Permission Slips’. Brown describes them as literal post-it notes she keeps in her pocket that remind her and gives her permission to feel emotions. Many of us suppress emotions, me included…especially when the emotional stakes are so high on the other end. I know if I am not careful, I could end up holding myself back from feeling excited about our upcoming transfer. Why? Well, because I want to protect myself from the hurt that follows disappointment (seems I err on the side of caution versus success). When I look back, I sometimes feel like I spent a great deal of time bracing myself for the worst with the 2nd IVF…this mindset obviously makes it very challenging to stay hopeful. She writes, “…writing down permission becomes a powerful intention to stay aware.”

This time around, I intentionally want to choose hope versus fear. So, I am giving myself a handful of permission slips to keep with me at all times. They are:

I give myself permission to get excited.permission

I give myself permission to not worry about anyone else’s feelings.

I give myself permission to forget about past failures.

And, most importantly…

I give myself permission to hope with reckless abandon.

Fear of Failure…

The other day when I wrote this, I had a lump in my throat and tears just about at the surface. These feelings are super raw and uncomfortable. I know they are not the best thoughts to have, they don’t represent the best in me…but I feel I need to acknowledge that they are there and share them. I don’t want to ignore them. I feel like I ignored them the last time we did a treatment. As you read this…please bear with me, this post is a little darker than most I do, but I don’t want to think about rosier topics just yet either…I feel like I need to sit with these feelings, no matter how ugly they are, so that I can move past them.

***

I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of getting excited and being blindly hopeful and then failing. If things don’t work with the upcoming transfer, I am afraid of the hurt on the other side. I want to protect myself and remember that the odds are slim for success and that I have failed before. Despite all this fear, I am still willing to risk the pain and grief, because I know that there is hope and it might work.

As much as I want to protect myself, I also desperately want to protect those who are on this ride with me. I am afraid another failure will hurt others.

There is my husband…when I am in pain, he is in pain. Sometimes he knows what to do, but other times I can see he is lost. I hate it when he feels lost. As much as I want to protect him, I know I can’t…this is as much his journey as it is mine. He signed up for this with me, he is there for every step…so deep down I sort of feel less concern for him because he is a part of me and this is his story too.

With my mother, I desperately want to protect her from more pain, but I also want to give her hope. I know it pains her to watch me struggle with infertility the way she did 30 years ago. When I talk to her about it, I can see that the pain of infertility rears its ugly head… and it’s not just through me but others in her life too (co-workers, friends). There is also the pain I know she carries with regard to her separation from my father late last year. There is a lot of confusion, vulnerability and feelings of embarrassment when your partner leaves after 40 years of marriage and tells everyone their gay. She is a strong woman, but she doesn’t deserve to go through any of this. She deals with everything like a true warrior, but I know every day she is working through so much angst and confusion already. I am excited that I can give her the hope of a grandchild and a happier future. On the flip side, I hate the idea of her getting excited and then experiencing the crash on the other side with me. Like my husband, I know that when I am in pain, my mom is in pain too.

I also want to protect the couple who are giving us their embryos. It might seem strange, but we know the couple who is donating their embryos to us. We were introduced through mutual friends and are now in the process of building a relationship with them. They see their frozen embryos as a child for us already. They have beautiful twin daughters from an IVF treatment six years ago. For some reason I tell myself that they have forgotten how much it hurts to fail…even though I know they did before their daughters came along. I am afraid that I will be the one that fails them and reminds them of the pain. I fear that my ugly thoughts will stand in the way of implantation – self sabotage. How can I do that to them? I know that our pain, will be their pain.

I also want to protect my friends. Some of my supportive circle has walked with me through all my pain for almost four years. I hate that I think everyone feels sorry for me. I love that everyone gets excited and hopeful at the thought that our baby dreams might come true. But how can I possibly let them all down again? It is so embarrassing every time. It was so easy for them…they planned and executed. They all have several little ones running around now and I am still at square one. It feels like everyone else in the class graduated, but I can’t pass kindergarten *sigh*.

Then there is the rest of our family…my dad and brother and my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and my father-in-law and his wife. They are a little more removed, mainly by distance…but I know they hold their breath and hope when we tell them we are trying again, especially with it being something new. I hate that they see us struggle. I know they feel our hurt too.

The reality is that I don’t want anyone to see me struggle – physically or emotionally. And this thought isn’t just with infertility…it is with everything in my life, all my life. It hurts my ego to be flailing around and feeling like a spectacle on display. I am competitive and failing is losing. But then there is this other thought that popped into my head the other day…I think my ego feeds off people’s sympathy in some sick narcissistic way. My infertility story sometimes gets all the attention and empathy of others and I think my ego likes the attention. My life was pretty ordinary, now it isn’t…I get to go to special doctors, try different treatments than most, and I get to take special drugs. It’s crazy….I don’t want to experience any of it, but on the other hand my ego is like some sick psychopathic killer that thrives off of failure. Maybe my biggest problem isn’t my fear of failure…but my ego…perhaps it’s standing in my way to motherhood?

Fear

SHG’s and Self Help

Well, another hurdle completed…I had my 2nd SHG on Friday to see if my uterus looked tip top shape for a transfer in a few weeks. The Sonohistogram is not my favorite test, but it’s also not the worst. If you haven’t had one, it is over in a matter of moments and when you hear good news it is all worth it in the end. Last week I heard good news… so now it’s just a matter of waiting for the administrative red tape to turn green too (tick, tock).

I will admit that last week I had all the confidence in the world that I would pass my SHG test. Everything with me always looked perfect on paper when it came to ultrasounds, X-rays and blood tests. It is how I learned to hate my “unexplained” diagnosis so much. It wasn’t until we tried IVF two times and watched the eggs and embryos fail…that it helped the doctor zero in on a poor egg quality diagnosis.

This week, I look ahead to the next phases of the transfer treatment and the truth is…it is the next part of this process where I start to have fears and doubts creep into my head. I know my body is healthy…my diet and exercise routine is solid, I know my hormone levels are good, I know there will be no issues responding to drugs, and lastly I am confident that my lining will be perfect too. So where do I need to focus if my body is healthy? Well, I have decided that this go around I need to work and dig into my head space as I feel like it was often in a pretty unhealthy spot for me during IVF #2.

The first IVF I did, I was hopeful and optimistic…when it didn’t work…it was a giant blow. Prior to that negative beta day, I didn’t know there would be no words to describe the grief that followed. I am in awe how some ladies jump back on the treatment horse right away, whereas I felt I needed six months off in-between to help heal, clear my head and try a few more things (COQ10 and DHEA). I was physically ready when I did IVF #2, but now I wonder if my head was healthy. On some level I doubted pregnancy was possible… maybe my ego wanted to show all those people who told me “everyone gets pregnant” that this statement wasn’t true. It was like I stubbornly wanted to have the last word and show the world “see, it’s not possible.” When I think back, I feel like I spent a lot of the treatment cycle bracing for the worst case and preparing myself for another negative result. After all, who wouldn’t want to brace themselves for the car crash they see coming.

I know I cannot go into this embryo donation opportunity like that version of myself that went into IVF #2. I cannot accept someone’s gift and then spend two weeks bracing myself for the worst – that’s ridiculous. Therefore, I feel like I need to get really honest with myself in the next few weeks and look deep inside at a few ugly monstrous thoughts I know are there. I have a few of them and they might surprise you, or perhaps you have them too? For one, I have this underlying fear of letting people down through all of this – my husband, my parents, my in-laws, my supportive friends…and this time…lets crank up the heat by adding a very excited donating family to the fire too. There is also this nagging underlying thought/question where I am wondering if on some level, through my whole life, have I had a subconscious internal dialogue (or self-fulfilling prophecy) going on that created this infertile mess. And, to round it all off, I may need to get all Dr. Phil on my ass and tackle the thought as to whether or not everything I fear in life boils down to a fear of being alone or death…(okay, death might be taking it all a tad too far…but you get the point).

So how does one tackle these monstrous thoughts? The first couple of low cost steps I have taken include reading “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown and listening to the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Both are works of self-help art, which from what I have read and listened to already feels like the right and positive path to get a better understanding of myself and equip me with the tools to get through the donation transfer. Hopefully with the help of their words, I can acknowledge my fears and put them on the shelf so they don’t eat away at me during the two week wait. I also decided to pull out the check book one last time and sign up for some acupuncture sessions to help with the physical and emotional support I know I will need. I am very grateful for the fact that my acupuncturist is like this positive energy angel – she has been there beside me for all my treatments – I can’t imagine doing this next leg of the trek without her. Then there is also my BodyTalk person – another gifted person I am grateful to have found – my first session with her inspired this blog. She has since helped me understand myself better and show me that there is more to this journey than just the physical elements. Lastly, we might as well throw a therapy session into the mix as you can’t help but exhaust all aspects of my work benefits plan for another year.

I don’t know what to expect from this inside exploration, but I will likely end up sharing most of it with you. This blog and the act of writing is a form of therapy for me…putting ideas into words is like an act of translating myself for me. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think I just outlined that it might take a whole village to just get pregnant too.sbTherapy