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.

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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)

Part II: I’ve got a secret…

So, directed Embryo Donation…what do you think about that? It’s an opportunity that appears to be in my cards, yet no psychic ever mentioned it. Seriously, NEVER did I think this could be part of my story.

(If you are scratching your head,  please read Part I).

That December day when my friend told me her friends were interested in donating embryos to us, it feels like a far off dream now. Maybe because she was phoning to tell me at 6:00AM, or maybe it was because it was Christmas and my icing sugar intake was through the roof.  Either way, I remember hanging up and thinking “huh!”…but in the back of my mind the infertile cynic also thought “as if!”  

Some would have jumped for joy or anxiously waited for the clinic to open that day to call…but I know it took me several days to call the clinic to see if they would even allow me to jump the line with a directed donation. I had read the Embryo Donation (ED) Program packet thoroughly, and in 5 pages there was one short sentence saying it was possible….but I didn’t believe it. There had to be more small print or a “but” clause I had missed, right?  The call with the coordinator was pleasant, the only “but” was that the donating couple needed to make their intentions known and also make the first move by calling her. *Sigh*…Yet another thing out of our control.

As Christmas interrupted regular work weeks and clinic staff took their holidays, I let it go. The New Year came and my hopefulness was in place, but it remained solely directed at adoption. I was eager to follow up with the agency and see when our home study could start. By the second week of January the first home study appointment was in place, and I thought…well, I guess I should also check in with the clinic….so, I called.

The ED Program is run differently than the IVF or IUI programs. For this small exclusive club, there is only one nurse who coordinates items. I was relieved I wasn’t calling just a general voicemail box that had you praying anyone would call you back in a timely manner. This program had a person…and when I spoke with her…she was happy to hear from me and was a most comforting voice. She informed me that things were moving along as she had received the donating couples paperwork. Next steps were for us to meet with the psychologist, do a home study (yes, one for this too), get our highly infectious disease blood tests done, and for lucky ole me…I would likely need another sonohystogram. Oh yeah, and of course we would need to pay the ED Program registration fee ($$$).

Just a few hoops… but, even with a doctors appointment and a psychologist appointment in the books for March, nothing was real. There was still time for the couple to say, “yeah, we changed our minds.”  So, our life went on and our energy stayed focused on the adoption home study. Luckily, the clinic is happy for us to use the same home study the agency is doing (finally, one small break on the pocketbook).

Skip ahead to last week…March 1st….our big date with the clinic rolled around. Even sitting in the waiting room I was still a skeptic.  Even when we sat down with the psychologist, I was honest and I told her, we didn’t believe any of this was true. She nodded her head and in her most professional voice explained that all that made sense as we were protecting ourselves from getting on that ugly hope/despair rollercoaster too early in the game. She also said, it was time to start believing it to be true.

The next two hours were a whirlwind…what we thought was a quick meet and greet with the psychologist and a short appointment with the doctor turned into a full morning. Mid-meeting with the psychologist…she said, “you do know you are meeting the donating couple today, right?” (WTF? Ooops!…It appears our dear nurse coordinator had forgot to tell us that nugget of news…).  In an instant, with this small detail in place, the feelings of a routine trip to the clinic was replaced with the nerves of a first date but on a whole new level.Secrets

When we all finally ended up in the little office together it was surreal and nerve-wracking. Here we were with this “magical” couple that we had only known of through a friend. We knew each others first names and the general bits and pieces the friend had shared with each of us, but that was it. As the counselor mediated, she suggested we work to build a relationship over the next few months. As we stared each other down, we discussed what this could potentially look like down the road…maybe the donating couple would be an aunt and uncle…maybe their twin daughters would be “special cousins”.  Either way, it was encouraged for us to be open with the child on who this donating family was and the role they had played in the child’s life.

So, in that small room, as we all nervously shared a bit more…an unspoken promise was made. If this treatment worked, they would be forever a part of our lives.

 

You Know What, It’s Going to be Alright…

February marks the anniversary of my first IVF experience….way back in 2015, I was riding the “CRA- CRA” train with obsessive thoughts. Valentine’s Day and the Family Day Long Weekend marked the days that I did my trigger shot and retrieval. At that time, I thought it was a good omen to be going through all that on the weekend that celebrated love and family. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way we had hoped and here I am a year later with 2 failed IVF’s under my belt and a long adoption journey ahead (sigh).

For those reading who might be new to my blog, to summarize quickly, last year my infertility struggle came to a conclusion after two rounds of IVF…both ending with 3 Day Transfers, nothing to freeze and a negative result. In October I was told that IVF was not the treatment for me (bum eggs). It was sad. I was depressed. I cried….AND I was broke (financially and emotionally). It wasn’t fair…I had taken a giant leap of faith into the universe and had been rewarded by falling flat on my face and then finished off with a beating to my soul.

After each failure, there was a period of depression…the little rain cloud followed me around and I felt glum 24/7; getting out of bed was often a chore. When I looked in the mirror, I saw the sadness in my eyes and I felt like there was no coming back from that dark place. After the doctor said no more IVF’s, we needed something to help us move forward so as to not get stuck in this dark spot. We took a few small steps toward adoption. It was our little bright light at end the dark tunnel. Adoption was a path that offered a “sure thing” for us…but not without its own hurdles to jump over, such as: a long waiting list (3 years), more money ($$), and a new idea of what a family looks like with birth parents in the mix.

This morning as I drove to work, I was listening to a podcast and the guy speaking was reflecting that the best teachings in his life came from his adversities. He said that in those moments of the hard stuff, he acknowledges they are horrible…but when you get through them, you can see the richness of teaching this horrible experience brought to you. Of course, the hard part is remembering in the middle of “the horrible” that there will be teachings. It’s a mature thought I would have struggled with a year ago, but today his words rang true to me.

A year ago, I was in the midst of “the horrible.” The toughest crisis I had ever faced; every hour of every day was consumed with the thought of babies, drugs or symptom spotting. My mind was a three ring circus. I was emotionally fragile and a mess of emotions due to being swaddled by drugs and hormones; bouts of crying were a given several times a week. I felt like I would never know the “old carefree me” again. But here I am, a year later, and I can breathe. My mind is quieter these days…occasionally thoughts creep in regarding infertility…but it doesn’t consume every waking thought. I even see shades of my old self emerging, I am a little more carefree and no longer shackled to the days of the month and next treatment dates. The biggest change (relief) is I don’t crumble at the sight of pregnant women or hearing a pregnancy announcement. I am happy to say that the girl who looks back at me in the mirror doesn’t have the sadness in her eyes like she used to, instead I see depth of wisdom, compassion and hope.

heartbreak and wisdom

Was it fair for me to go through all that? Hell No! Is it fair for any of us to go through this? Hell No! If I got a do-over, would I skip “the horrible” experience? Hell No! This struggle/disease, as ugly as it is, has given me something in return. Not a baby (yet!)…but I have a stronger marriage and a deeper connection to my husband. I know myself better today than I did. I know I can be taken to the darkest spaces in my heart and soul and I am capable of crawling back out and seeing the silver lining of life again. There is hope, there will always be more choices…we just have to open ourselves to them.

 So, I conclude, that somehow, I got through it. I wish I had taken notes…so I could tell you all exactly what to do, but I lost my pen and now I can’t remember the steps. What I can share, and what I want everyone to know, is that we’re all going to be alright. This infertility journey sucks…it feels never ending and at times feels all consuming…but you will find yourself again. Not exactly as you left her, but a version of her…whom I believe is a better person for it.

 

 

 

Adoption: The Home Study Process

Life is full at the moment …Not everything is going the way or the speed I hope for, but hey as I said in my last post, I need to let go and just go with the flow for 2016. So here I am flowing through January and continuing into February; I am a Pisces after all…flowing is in my nature.

I am happy to report that the adoption process is creeping forward. We officially applied at the end of November, but then it took several weeks for our application to be reviewed and have a social worker assigned to our case. We got a call in early January asking for our home study fee to be paid so that our application could officially move forward.  I eagerly paid and then proceeded to hear nothing from them for 10 LONG days (seriously! A whole  new form of torture).

When the social worker finally called she apologized and said she had been busy with matches (yep, felt as big as a thumb tack for being annoyed). After a quick, casual “no problem” I learned that the timeline to book a meeting with a social worker is a lot shorter than I expected; we were having our first meeting within a week. Woo hoo! My adoption agency world is definitely not dealing with the same backlog of appointments as my fertility clinic world, that is for sure. 

The lead up to our first meeting was full of excitement and eagerness. I have read some blogs/forums where people were stressed about and hated the invasive process…but for me its been something to look forward to each week.  It feels amazing that things are moving and I feel like we have nothing to hide and someone would have to be crazy to not realize we would make good parents. (Guess you could say I have a lot of confidence we will get a big ole approved stamp at the end of this whole thing…lets hope I don’t jinx it).

So, tonight will be our third of four meetings, with the last one being in the home next week. Tonight’s topic is ‘motivation for adoption’…so my guess is we will be walking down the infertility memory lane.  Good times!   I have to say though, despite tonight’s tough emotional topic, I find our meetings just a verbal rehash/dialogue of everything I filled out in the application – family/work/education/medical history. If you aren’t making stuff up about yourself, or trying to remember the facts you hid or the embellishments you made, I have found it all rather easy to talk about yourself for two hours. (I recognize not everyone will feel this way…but hey, I am just writing about how we are feeling).

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Bottom line, my goal to let go is coming along. I feel like I have loosened the grip on the quest for motherhood. Its funny…all of a sudden, infertility and adoption, is not my whole life and guiltily it is a vacation I have been waiting years to take. In response to letting go, the universe seems to be blessing us with moving forward.

Happy Groundhog Day!

2016: A Year to Learn to Let Go

I am a “Type A “personality. For the majority of my life, I thrived on control. Control of my education, career, and life successes. I choose everything that happened for me. If something was a stretch, I simply worked harder to get it and I always did. Infertility was the first thing I ever dealt with where I truly found myself out of control. No amount of work, money or energy was able to change the situation. And trust me, I/we tried everything.

As we first stepped into the journey of adoption, a book was handed to me by a fellow waiting adoptive parent – “Adopting after Infertility” by Patricia Johnston. It was written in the 90’s and was a little dated, but for the most part it talked about what to expect when pursuing adoption – a solid read. At the beginning, the author spends a portion of the book talking about coming to terms with the losses of infertility before moving forward with adoption. The author even suggests doing a little exercise to gauge where you are today to help determine if adoption is the right choice for you. It was a simple exercise of the heart that helped me to identify what mattered.

Johnston explains that to embrace adoption, a couple needs to move on from infertility by reflecting on a series of losses: a loss of genetic continuity, a loss of a physical pregnancy, a loss of emotional pregnancy, a loss of becoming a parent, and a loss of control. In her exercise she asks the reader to identify, in order of importance, the losses that most impact your life. Depending on your answers, it can lead you to help determine if adoption is a good choice for you.

I was surprised as I reflected on the list of losses and I honestly put them in order of most important. In my world, the loss of never becoming a parent was number one. Number five was genetic continuity. Number three and four were the losses of experiencing pregnancy. What shocked me was what fell as my number two selection – the loss of control. Of course I wanted to be pregnant and have genetic continuity with my husband…but I come from an adoptive family and I know first-hand that genetics and pregnancy are not necessary to having a family. My light bulb moment came about as I realized that what really pissed me off after potentially losing the opportunity to be a parent was that I couldn’t control the situation. In reflection, the loss of experiencing pregnancy and genetic continuity was minor in my heart. Talk about a moment that provided a deeper level of understanding for myself that clearly pointed the way for us and the choice of adoption.

As the rest of 2015 unfolded – on top of infertility – I dealt with a myriad of uncontrollable factors in my life. My flourishing career in Marketing and Communications was hitting a mid-life crisis due to a contracting economy and industry. I had to accept a 20% wage rollback, a suspension of pension contributions and had to say goodbye (AKA layoff) my little team of two. If that wasn’t enough, I am now dealing with the disintegration of my parent’s 40 year marriage and my father’s announcement that he is gay. Yep, you read that right…just call me Kim Kardashian.

So, as I step into 2016 and I think of what I want the next year to be. I have decided that this next year needs to be a further exercise in learning to let go and be fine with what happens. I realize that so much of what I want right now is out of my control. There are steps I can take to help guide my future…but in the end life is this crazy ride and I do not have control of the steering wheel. I can choose to laugh, cry or scream as the ride continues…but what comes next isn’t necessarily something that I can predict. I can lean into or against the turns and most importantly, I can hope. I might feel like I am in control sometimes, but ultimately I need to let the outcomes unfold as the universe means for them to unfold.

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I know that in the next year there will be lots of surprises and that I can handle anything that lies beyond the next curve. My objective in 2016 is to learn to let go and enjoy the ride. I have faith that I will get everything I desire in my life…I just won’t necessarily know the timeline or the path I am going to take and that’s alright because I know in the end everything will be alright.

A year in retrospect…

I survived 2015. I think I deserve a medal for this one. In hindsight, 2015 will go down in the record books as the most difficult year of my life. Today, as I type, my soul is still wounded, but I know that each day I am getting stronger.

For nine months of 2015, my focus was a 100% on the quest for a child. Those nine months were spent either preparing for IVF, doing IVF, or surviving failed IVFs. We did two attempts of the miracle treatment– one in February/March and a second one in August/September. I have come to appreciate that IVF is a physical sprint and an emotional marathon. Nothing can prepare you for the emotions, mind games or physicality that this treatment demands from you. Most people just think it’s the money that is the hurdle, but really the money for treatment is just the first bitch-slap before the fight really starts.

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Mum’s the word…

Or rather, why has this blog been so quiet lately? To be honest, it started as just a little break until we did our adoption seminar and then it turned into an all-out hiatus. Here is a little recap of the last few months:sbTherapy

October

I consider October the month of pulling myself back together. We worked through our grief of the failed 2nd IVF and the news of our poor egg quality. As hard as it was to hear that our IVF treatment journey was at an end, I did get a lot of peace in knowing what the problem was for us and that we didn’t continue to fall into an “unexplained” category. To help rebuild our spirit, we looked ahead to the adoption seminar and pulled together all the bits and pieces of the adoption application with the goal to be ready to submit the week after the seminar.

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The Cost of Infertility: It keeps me up at night…

What I am referencing in my title is the challenge of finances and infertility. As I have mentioned in prior posts, my husband and I have put IVF behind us because it won’t work for us, so now we are looking at other options like open adoption, embryo donation or egg donors. Frustratingly with each option, there continues to be a dollar sign with a considerable amount of money beside each choice.

Now, I am not one to complain about money on this journey as I know we are very fortunate to have what we have. But these days, there is a new factor weighing in on the affordability of starting family and that is the cost of my day job. What literally keeps me up at night is the situation that as our costs to start a family are rising, our ability to fund this adventure is shrinking. You see as luck would have it, my husband and I both work in an industry that is contracting right now versus growing.

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Small Steps Forward…The Option of Adoption

Over the last few weeks, we have been coming to terms with our infertility journey. IVF doesn’t work for us, so we need to find other options. There is embryo donation, egg donors, or adoption. The one that speaks the loudest to us today is adoption.

I am at peace with this choice, mainly due to the fact that I was raised in an adoptive family. My brother is my brother, but we hold no genetic link. We share parents and memories and get along most days, but he also knows how to push my buttons and I know how to push his. What can I say, he is my brother.

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