What to Say to Someone with Infertility

I promise, this is the last post on infertility for awhile. But there have been friends that have reached out asking how to support me.

The easiest and shortest is a version of “I love you.”

The theory is to validate my feelings. Much like what I talked about in my empathy post.

What NOT to say

There isn’t a way to fix it. I understand you want to help but offering advice usually doesn’t help. I have a Reproductive Endocrinologist for that.

What really hasn’t been helpful is anything that relates to “it’s part of God’s plan.” I’ve read stories from plenty of other women who have been on this journey a lot longer than I and it doesn’t seem like a very good plan. Women, couples, who desperately want to be parents and would be darn good ones; don’t get that opportunity. But the teenager experimenting, the druggie, the women who really doesn’t want kids and emotionally neglects them – they can have a child; how is that part of any good plan? (Rhetorical.) Maybe I’m lacking faith but that’s where I am (and a lot of other women). It really isn’t fair. It really doesn’t make any sense.

I’m not brave enough to put my words into a video but this sweet women did. I share this video with her permission. You can find the rest of her videos here or  follow her on Instagram @carissabarzee.

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More on the fertility journey

January was different. Finally! My doctor decided to monitor what was going on with extra blood work, I bought a lot of ovulation test strips, and we had a a follow-up appointment with our doctor to find out what’s been going on.

I ovulate too early, it’s possible my uterus isn’t ready for a fertilized egg. We left the appointment wondering how anyone ever gets pregnant. Seriously! So, so many things have to line up. We did finally get a chance to do the insemination this month. I was shocked, surprised and didn’t really get around to excited but did feel the disappointment. The two week wait is long. Luckily, we had a vacation to keep us distracted. The day I took the pregnancy test was the morning of my red eye flight home. I took the test in the airport. Probably not the best. Jared picked me up and all I could say was “nope.”

February went as planned. But everything was done earlier. Clomid, blood work, Ovidrel shot (that I did myself – thank you very much!), and wait two weeks. Except that I got the flu. I haven’t had the flu in a very long time. I spent a week in bed with only saline rinses, Tylenol, and Vick’s because I had to treat myself like I was pregnant.

Both months ended with the same result. (I’m usually NOT a fan of the pregnancy test picture but… “never say never.”)

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The insemination is a very – scientific – process to baby making. The sperm is “washed” and the “good” ones are filtered out and put in a stabilizing solution, in a test tube. We arrive back at the clinic a few hours later. The sperm is pulled into the syringe and then inserted through the cervix into the uterus. I wait for 10 minutes, and then go back to normal life. Luckily, for me, it didn’t hurt much, just some minor cramping for a day.

The plan. To try IUI one more time. Our doctor strongly suggested IVF (she “can fix anyone with IVF”) but we still aren’t sure about that. Well, I’m not. It’s a lot more invasive and I just don’t know if I can do it. However, adoption isn’t any more exciting or guaranteed. We’ve never been opposed to adoption, we just thought we would do it AFTER biological children. We sometimes get tired of being adults and having to make these really hard, really expensive adult decisions.

Bump in the road

Yes, I skipped a post in this journey of #projectBaby which should have been Round 3. I guess it’s time to catch up.

The short story: last month, my period came early. While on vacation. I barely made it back in time for the first ultrasound on Day 5. Only to be told we had to take a month off because I had cysts on both ovaries. A month off? We’ve barely done anything!! Stupid clomid.

The detailed story: The husband and I went on a week-long-very-much-needed vacation. Just the two of us. No work. No family. No responsibility. My period was due at the end of the week, so it wasn’t going to ruin the vacation too much nor was it going to cause  timing issues.

In true bad-luck-fashion, my period came 3 DAYS EARLY!! WTH?! Why was it such a problem because I am blessed with 24 hours of cramps on top of the fatigue and murder scene happening down there and not sure if I could still get in for the first u/s. (I say blessed because I know some women have it way worse.) I called REACH in a small panic hoping that we wouldn’t have to miss a month (ha!) and was informed that if I could be to the office by 10am Saturday, they would be able to see me. Our flight was set to arrive at 9am that very morning. I had a friend offer to pick me up at the airport (with her child that hates being in the car, we’re talking screaming) to get me to the clinic. The husband would wait to get our luggage, pay for parking, and then meet me there. With a plan set, I survived the 24 hours to enjoy the rest of the vacation.

Turns out, I could have spared my friend the journey, and myself the stress of hoping our flight would be on time, etc.

Numb is how I’ve felt most of the month. Of course we still “tried on our own” but after 3+ years that just seems ridiculous. Some will get the miraculous clomid baby but I’m not holding my breath.

Pain is something else I felt all month. Cysts hurt. Every time I took a step, or coughed, or moved, I had pain. Some have felt ovulation pain, some haven’t, but I had it all month. Cysts are supposed to clear up on their own. There is nothing more to do than wait.

Today is Day 1 of what should be Round 4. I’m between feeling numb and hopeless.

At the very least, I set up my Christmas tree and the cats haven’t destroyed it. I have had a lot of love from friends and family and bloggers. Thank you.

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Bad News

Spoiler alert: It’s bad news.

You know it’s bad news when your doctor calls, not the nurse.

Just to give some background on the process of IUI. I call the office on Day 1 of my period to schedule my appointment for an ultrasound and blood-work (checking hormone levels), usually on Day 3. On Day 3, I arrive between 7-9am. I have never liked getting blood drawn but I’m getting better at it. Maybe one day I’ll watch. Instead, I stare at the sperm/egg holiday decorations. The ultrasound happens next. It’s a vaginal ultrasound to view the ovaries and count how many follicles (where the egg pops out) are ready. It’s kind of cool to see. And then I wait for the nurse to call with instructions.

If all is well, depending on the protocol, I start clomid and take it for 5 days. My basic understanding is that it’s to encourage more follicles to develop so that instead of releasing only one egg, a few more are released. It does increase the risk of multiples.

The next appointment is Day 12, at least it was last month, and that’s when my blood-work showed that I already ovulated, like really already ovulated. This month I went in earlier, on Day 9, to try to catch the opportunity to complete the whole IUI round.

So I dragged myself out of bed at 7am this morning (a Saturday) and drove the 30 minutes, watching the sunrise over the Queen City. Blood-work. Ultrasound with my actual Reproductive Endocrinologist instead of another doctor. Each ovary seems to have a cyst this time. Looks like there are a few follicles growing but nothing can be determined until the blood-work. And I wait. I was trying to be hopeful. See?

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It’s when I’m standing in line to vote, that my cell phone starts to buzz. No one likes to play phone tag with the doctor’s office, so I left my husband to hold our place (and to get some privacy) to answer the call. My heart dropped when instead of the nurse, I hear my doctor’s voice. Not that I don’t like her, however, it’s a Saturday, and she’s making the call. “It’s highly unusual, but you have already ovulated, again.” What?!?! Not sure if I have always had a wacky hormone cycle or if the clomid made my hormones wacky. “If you haven’t already had intercourse, I would suggest you do.” Thank you for that – when intercourse becomes a protocol step.

More waiting. I get to wait for another period. I don’t really have high hopes for a natural pregnancy at this point but the husband does. There are two options from here: a different medication similar to clomid or the more expensive injection medications (basically IVF without the IVF). I am not sure I have the mental and emotional strength for another “maybe this will work” medication but it’s the natural next step. So we start with the least expensive option.

There’s a reason I don’t want to do IVF – all the hormone injections. It’s one thing to have someone draw my blood, it’s a completely different thing to give myself multiple shots. There is one injection I have to give myself with IUI, it’s supposed to trigger ovulation when multiple follicles are ready. I *think* I could handle one injection. If not, I have a few nurse friends I could call.

To cope with the news, we went to lunch and a movie. I came home and worked, the husband cleaned his car. As I sit here and type, football games play in the background. Because what else is there to do? Life as usual. Keep busy while we wait. And wait. And wait. Probably do some reading online to see if anyone else has experienced early ovulation.

We have a week long vacation in a few weeks. I have something to look forward to. We just have to be careful to avoid the Zika-prone areas of Florida. Because it’s not a crappy enough situation already.

Not the good kind of surprise

Surprise! It’s never what you expect. Didn’t expect to get my second ultrasound and blood work to reveal that I had already ovulated. I early ovulated; yes, that’s a thing. Pregnancy is all sorts of complicated!

Translation: canceled IUI for this month.

The bonus is that I don’t have to worry about whether I’m pregnant or not. Downside, one more month of waiting.

I’m numb today. There isn’t much else I can do. I cried a little yesterday. Somehow taught a yoga class last night and treated myself to a milkshake with the hubby. Because it’s hard for him too.

He’s more quiet about it. I try to let him know he doesn’t have to be strong for me. In fact, I need to know he’s sad with me. Otherwise, what are we doing? We are in this together.

That’s all I really have to say today.

 

Keeping It Real: Infertility Sucks

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. It is what I was going to be when I grew up. 33 years later I still want to be a mom when I grow up.

We’ve been married for almost 10 years. We’ve been officially “trying” for three. Anyone who has dealt with infertility knows the many definitions of “trying.” It can mean you aren’t on birth control and praying you’ll get lucky; then it can become using an app and following all possible signs of ovulation (cervical position, cervical mucous quality, temperature, kits). And when that doesn’t work, “trying” means kinda watching your cycle and getting a “sperm donation” (trying to keep it rated PG, friends) two times a week. (It’s not that fun when  you are “trying.”)

And then I lost it a few months back with a rant on Instagram.

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Not being a mom sucks. I hurt. I am so sad I cry until I can’t breathe. Life can be truly unfair. I don’t know if I can deal with one. More. Period!

A few periods have come and gone since then. Last month was the climax of what my emotions could take. I ugly-cried for 30 minutes when the cramps started, the kind where you can barely breathe and mucous and tears mix and the only thing you can use to wipe it all up is your shirt? Yeah, that kind. I would calm down, only to think about it again (hard not too when your uterus is shredding to pieces) and start crying all over again. I usually can suck it up but not this time. I called into work sick and canceled my yoga class. I laid on the couch and watch a marathon of NCIS.

We took a break last month. Absolutely NO trying. I just couldn’t get my hopes up again. I’m strong but I have my limits.

The details of why we can’t get pregnant on our own aren’t important to share publicly. Suffice it to say, our team at REACH said we could start with IUI (intrauterine insemination, aka artificial insemination). For now, we’ve decided we’ll do up to 4 rounds. I’ve decided, as of now, that I won’t do IVF. Why? Simply, it’s not that important to me to experience pregnancy. I just want to be a mom.

So after a one month break we are starting treatment this month. I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m full of “what if’s.” It’s only been 3 days. Another check in on Instagram (I deactivated my Facebook account – that’s another blog post for another day).

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Day 1 of fertility treatments. 👶Blood work 👎, ultrasound of the ovaries, and medications 💊💉. Here we go with trial 1. #iui #glaushausfamily #fertility #Infertility #projectbaby

So far the meds haven’t made me sick. Whew. So far I haven’t had an anxiety attack. Fingers crossed. I’m doing all I can to manage my expectations. It’s going to be a busy month with lots of waiting.

Why am I blogging about it? Because it helps me to read other people’s stories. So I’m sharing mine while it’s raw. I want support and I want to give support. Infertility isn’t an experience I want to deal with on my own.

Here’s to #projectBaby for #glausHausFamily