A Look Back and a Plan for the New Year

The last few years have been very difficult. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Mother’s Day even Halloween always remind me of all that I have lost.  For years now I have suffered through “the worst Christmas ever”, only to have it trumped the following year.  On New Year’s Eves I have put the pain of the previous year behind  looking forward to a “fresh start” only to face another difficult series of events.

Christmas was hard.  It’s impossible not to think about what might have been, what Christmas in my home SHOULD be like, the celebrations that are happening  in the homes of my friends and their new families and where we could have gone on vacation if we hadn’t have spent our money on a failed IVF.  I got through it.  There were tears, arguments with my husband and loneliness but I got through it.

I got through New Year’s Eve too.  I thought a lot about last year’s New Year’s Eve reflection.   I knew last year that 2013 wasn’t going to be a good one.  I wasn’t being pessimistic, I was being realistic.  This year is a little different.  This year there is actually a chance.   Not a guarantee, but at least a chance.

My husband and I were approved for adoption over a year ago.  The original estimated wait time was 18 months.  The numbers have gone up and down since then, but it does mean that REALISTICALLY, we could be matched with our child this year.

As frustrating as the fertility treatment fails were, I’m glad that I did them.  I can say with confidence that I tried “all the ways“.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not mourning the loss of that potential biological child, but it does mean that I need to shift my focus towards the adoption.

Unlike fertility treatments, focusing on adoption alone feels much less productive.  There are no calendars or early morning appointments.  I had to consider what “focusing on adoption” meant to me.    I think it’s going to mean the following:

  • getting into shape to prepare to run after a potentially terrified running toddler (I’ve heard stories about this from other adoptive parents)
  • taking care of myself, continuing acupuncture and mourning my losses so that I’m ready to be a happy parent
  • continuing and possibly increasing my involvement with the adoption agency. ( I currently write for the newsletter)
  • saving money so if I get my referral the trip to Vietnam and time off work won’t put me into enormous debt.

That’s a start. If the adoption doesn’t go through this year, none of those actions will be a waste. They’re all positive things.

My husband wants me to start considering that our life may not include children.  I’m not ready to think about that.  For now I have to assume that I will have a child. I just “can’t choose when“.

 

 

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This is it!

then there were two

then there were two

The time is now.  My eggs have been retrieved and now I’m waiting.

The whole process so far has been exciting, exhausting and time consuming.  As soon as we decided to do IVF, I decided to do everything in my power to make it work.  That way, I’d know that I’d tried everything.

I’ve been exercising a lot.  I’ve been going to bootcamp twice a week and jogging or swimming on the other days.  I’ve changed my diet.  I’ve cut down on wheat, dairy, soy and sugar and I’ve cut out alcohol and caffeine all together.  I’ve been going to acupuncture/Cranial Sacral therapy and reflexology.   I feel good, I’ve lost weight and if nothing else, it’s given me a sense of control over this whole crazy situation.

The weeks building up to the retrieval were stressful.  They found a cyst and almost cancelled the cycle.  They decided after all to go ahead with it.  My estrogen was sky-rocketing but my follicles were growing slowly.  We were really going day by day and altering the doses of my meds.  The only way for me to get through it was step by step.  I was far from thinking about embryos and tests and transfers, I just had to focus on follicles and getting to the retrieval.

We got there! The retrieval was on Saturday (a day later than originally scheduled). It was SO painful.  They had to move around my ovaries to get to the eggs.  Ouch. The team in the OR were great though and hubby was really supportive. We were able to retrieve 14 eggs.

The numbers game has been the hardest part.  We started with 14 eggs.   From the 14 eggs, 9 were fertilized.  I thought this number was pretty good and I started to relax.  The next day I got the call that 6 embryos had survived, 3 were thriving and three were a little behind.

Today the doctor called me directly (never a good sign).  Only two embryos have survived and now I had decisions to make.

1. We send the two embryos for genetic testing (sending the embryos for testing was the original plan).  Sending only two is very risky because they don’t all survive the process.  It’s also very expensive for just two embryos.

2. We wait until day 5 to see if the other embryos grow, freeze them all and transfer at  a later date.

3. We transfer the two survivors on day 5 and skip the genetic testing.

After a good cry, I called my husband and we made our decision.  We’re going with option 3.  There are risks involved with all the options!  I’m feeling ok about skipping the testing.  The fact that so many embryos didn’t survive is maybe the answer we needed.  Maybe we just needed some good strong embryos.

I have another check up/blood and ultrasound tomorrow and if those little guys survive, we’ll be doing the transfer on Thursday.

One step at a time…

Decisions, decisions

After months of “assistance” (cycle monitoring, injectable drugs, progesterone suppositories) I am yet to see a positive pregnancy test.

We went to the clinic just under a year ago to try to get to the bottom of our three losses.  Why was this happening? Will I ever be able to carry a baby to term? What can we do?

The diagnosis was “immature eggs”.   The solution was to take meds and monitor my cycle to correct the issue.  We’ve been trying this for several months to no avail.

I recently met with the doctor again last week to revisit the issue.  I just can’t understand why I could get pregnant 3 times with broken babies, and now, with help haven’t.

The doctor looked at my monitoring results (blood and ultrasound) from the past several months and let me know the devastating news.

This isn’t going to work.

The doctor, probably wisely, said to continue with what we’re doing is “just not good medicine”.

He gave us one option.  IVF.

This was a hard pill to swallow. When we embarked upon this journey, IVF was our “line”.  IVF was out.  IVF was not an option.

Now that I’ve had three babies in my belly and never been able to meet them, all of a sudden, having a biological child has become more important.  After all of this effort, it’s hard to stop here.

My husband and I have some big decisions to make.  Is it worth the gamble? Is it worth the expense? Is this the way we want to start our family?  We’ve already started the adoption process.  The wait could be long.  Maybe it’s time to just sit and wait.http://www.ivillage.ca/sites/default/files/imagecache/preganancy_article_main/IVF.jpg

On hold….

I feel like my life has been on hold.  All of the “experts” (unsolicited advice) tell me not to let this stress me out and not to let my fertility issues and losses control my life.

The people dolling out this advice have obviously never had to schedule cycle monitoring and daily medications into their lives.  Trying to get pregnant controls my lifestyle, my schedule, my mood, my body and my future plans. (I’m sure I could have made that list a lot longer.)

I’m already worried about summer vacation.  Will our week away in August mean a month off of treatments? Would a break be a good thing or will I  just be older?

I made a decision yesterday.  I found a job posting. It was for a central school board instructional leader position. This is something I have been working towards and considering applying for “further down the road”.  When I saw the posting, my first instinct was to not apply for it.

Here are some of the  reasons for my hesitation.

1. I wanted to have my family before I moved up the ladder.  A classroom teacher is the ideal job for a working parent with young children.

2. If I continue with fertility treatments, how will I work meetings and workshops around last minute cycle based appointments?  If I have to work at the other end of town will I be able to get there in time from my cycle monitoring?

3. What if I get my adoption referral?  Do I take a new job when I know there is a chance (a small chance) that I will have to leave?

4. I have such a great support system at my present job.

After much deliberation I came to some realizations.  It’s not a guarantee that I’d get the job.  There’s no harm in applying.   If I get it, I’ll manage.  People go on adoptive leave/maternity leave all the time.  My friends will always be there for me, even if we don’t work in the same building.  It may be nice to have a break from the ever-growing population of pregnant ladies at my work.  Working with adults rather than kids may help take my mind off of motherhood for a few minutes a day.

I’m going to apply for the job.   I can’t put my life on hold.  Fingers crossed.

"Please hold..."

“Please hold…”

Running On Empty (Empty Uterus)

Yesterday I “failed” yet another pregnancy test.  Another month of early mornings, ultrasounds, blood tests, stomach needles and suppositories for nothing.

The phone call with the negative result always hurts.  It’s happened so often now that I have the conversation memorized.  The doctor’s secretary gently confirms that it’s me on the phone.  She awkwardly asks if I already know the result.  I tell her I didn’t get the blood results but that I have a good idea (read 10 pee sticks).  She apologizes, tells me that it’s negative.  We discuss protocol and she wishes me luck the next time.  Yesterday’s phone call hurt a little more than usual.  Today marks an anniversary.

One year ago today, I was in the hospital for the D&C.  It was “play day “at my school.  The hospital is right across the street from my work.  I heard the music playing and the children laughing as my husband brought me in for the procedure.  The baby shower for one of my “Belly Buddies”, a colleague, was scheduled for that same evening.  The date was very close to my second due date, June 26th.  I couldn’t help but thinking that if things had worked out, I may have been in this same hospital that day having a baby, not waiting to have yet another failed pregnancy removed from my body.  One year ago today was the last day that I had a baby in my belly.

A whole year has gone by and I’ve been empty the whole time.  The previous year I was pregnant 3 times!

When I got pregnant the first time I was 35 years old (just a few weeks away from turning 36).  A few weeks from now,  I turn 38.  I still don’t have my baby.

I’m frustrated, I’m sad and I’m feeling very discouraged.

 

Two Roller Coasters

I’ve been hesitant to write about this stuff (I’ve been quiet lately but I have some saved up) because I know that it’s a touchy subject and because I’m terrified to jinx myself. I’m going to write anyway because I started this blog in order to write and vent and document my journey.

A friend (yes you) described it as “riding two roller coasters”.  We’re waiting to adopt but haven’t given up “trying”.

I wrote about it before, but I’ll explain it again.  The only way to find out what’s been going wrong with my pregnancies, is to, under the supervision of a clinic, get pregnant.  Even though I’m technically “trying to get pregnant”, I feel more like I’m just “trying for a diagnosis”.

The doctor is sticking with the “immature eggs” theory.  The goal is to make sure I’ve got nice plump mature eggs before I “fertilize” them.   Pumping up those eggs means daily trips to the clinic for probes and pokes. I’ve been stabbing myself in the belly and torturing myself during the dreaded two-week wait.

The trying feels different this time.  Maybe I’m bitter and jaded.  Maybe I’m realistic.  Instead of feeling like we’re trying to “make a baby”, I feel like I just need to get this part “over with”.   I feel like this is for closure.  I feel like I need to know I tried and that I have my answer.  If we wait for the adoption to go through before going through these experiments I’ll be old enough that age would be the predominant factor in why things are going wrong.  Besides, by the time the adoption goes through I’m going to want to spend my days with the squirt, not with a doctor!

If we get any word about the adoption we’re obviously walking away from the clinic, but for now, seatbelts fastened, two roller coasters it is!  (and I’m going to write about it)

“Dear Belly Buddy” Volume Two

After much procrastination I did it.  I wrote back to my friend. No turning back now.  I really hope I said all of the right things.  I didn’t edit myself because I really just wanted to get down what I was feeling.  I just went with the flow.

Thanks to “K” for reminding me that it was ok to start with “It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.”

I’ve omitted the names but that’s it.

Dear Belly Buddy,

It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.  But here goes…

 

This last chapter of my life has been really hard.  Harder then anything that life has ever dealt me. There have been some ups (like the wedding) but even that has been tainted because I was pregnant at the wedding.

 

I’ve been in a lot of pain for such a long time now.   I cry almost every day.  I hate feeling like this.  Sometimes I feel ok and then out of the blue, some trigger sets me off and I go several steps back. 

 

Having friends who shared due dates (you, my other belly buddies , half the staff at work – all within a month of my due date) has made things even harder for me.  It’s like I have access to watch some alternate universe where everything turned out ok.  It’s really hard for me to see and think about.  

 

At this point it’s hard for me to be around anyone who is pregnant or has a young family.  I just feel so ripped off.  I feel like I’m a mom with no kids.

I found out about a month a go that my little brother is having a baby.  This kills me.  I’m having a really hard time with it.   I haven’t seen them and I don’t want to.  It hurts too much.   I’m starting to feel like I’ve missed my turn.  I feel left behind.

I’ve been ready to have a family for so long.  At the beginning, I was able to find some peace with it and be positive.  I thought then that I just had to wait for my turn. Now that I have been so close to it so many times it has become intolerable.  It consumes me.  I think about it all the time.  Almost everything I do revolves around it.

I spend so much time at doctors’ offices. Just trying to find out what went wrong and how we can make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Going into a clinic several mornings a month for diagnostic blood and ultrasound makes it really difficult to “get it off my mind”.  

 

Moving forward with the adoption process has been positive and exciting. But what’s hard now is that the wait will be so long (some people I have spoken to have been waiting over three years).  There’s also always the chance that it won’t work.  Laws are constantly changing. There’s no guarantee that this is going to happen.

I’m coping with the wait by writing for the newsletter and trying to connect with other waiting moms.  This is a way that makes me at least feel like I’m being proactive, but it’s not really making the hurt go away.

I’ve also been writing a blog about all of this (thanks for the inspiration – I loved your dating blog), which has proved to be a good release when there’s something I need to let out.  It’s also, to my surprise, connected me with other people who are going through the same thing.

 

The thought of another 3 years without a child kills me. I wish I could explain better how it feels.   I just feel empty.  I feel stupid living in this big family home without a family.  I hate looking at the spare rooms and I don’t like going in them.

 

The desperation to have a child has and added pressure as I really feel that that’s what it’s going to take to start picking up the pieces of my life.  I’m never going to be “over it”, but I’m hoping I’ll be “ok”.  

 

I miss you so much.  We really got each other and we have had so much fun and made it though some tough times. But right now the pain of seeing you and your family trumps the pain of staying away. 

I just need to cocoon and stay in a place that limits triggers and makes me feel safe.  It’s the only way at this point that I can function.  This is why I’m staying away from some social events and parties.  It’s hard for me to be there and public bursts of sobbing are getting embarrassing.  I just don’t feel like my regular, fun self.

 

I’ve talked to some other people who have gone through similar things and some of them have been able to get their lives back with time, even before they have kids.  I really hope that I get there but I’m not there yet.

 

Please don’t give up on me.  Please do keep checking up on me.  Please do accept me as a friend again when I’m ready to come back.

 

Thanks for being so understanding all this time. I had no idea; I never could have predicted how long the sadness would go on for. I never could have predicted that it would happen again and again.

 

I don’t expect you to understand.  I don’t think I would have really understood if I wasn’t going through it.   I just really don’t want you to think I’m awful.  I don’t want you to think it’s because of anything you’ve done.  I just want you to keep caring.