Control

Infertility has a way of stripping you down to bare bones. You can give everything you have to the process of trying to create a baby and still end up with empty arms. The problem is,  you think you have control over certain things in your life, and when you are forced to realize you don’t and you never actually did it can be overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I wasted the last five years of my life focusing my energy on something that I had no control over.

I tried really really hard to control my fertility from day one. I took the ovulation tests, I read every possibly tip or wives tale about how to get pregnant faster. At that point, early on, I was even naive enough to think that by doing certain things we could increase the chances of what gender the baby would be. Early on I envisioned us with two boys, as our journey progressed and years went by I hoped and prayed for one little girl. 

When we moved on to reproductive specialists, instead of feeling a loss of control, I felt like I was actually gaining even more. I was actively doing things that would lead us to creating our family. Every shot I did and every pill I took made me feel like I was in control of the whole process. I had a problem and I was fixing it. I could even choose how many embryos to put back in my uterus during IVF, how lucky! The dream now included potentially having twins, of course we always put back at least two embryos during our transfers. The last IVF we put back three, I was so delusional at that point that I really thought we would end up with triplets and I was ready for it! Like I said, delusional, triplets would have of course been a huge blessing after everything we had been through but to actively try for them?! Well, let’s just say looking back, I can see that I was so desperate by that point that I was ever so slightly out of my mind.

The desperation to have some kind of control over our situation had us crossing major lines and pursuing treatments that we had previously said we wouldn’t try. The more out of control I felt as treatment’s failed and medications didn’t work the harder I searched for the next big thing. Something we could try, anything we could try, so that I could feel like I was actively doing something to get us to our goal of a baby. I’m just now coming to terms with that fact that I put myself and my husband through all of that. 

Here’s the truth of it, I don’t feel like infertility was something that happened to me. It’s not my fault that we have fertility issues BUT it is my fault that I tried to control them. My need for control was what sent us hours from home to meet with expensive world class specialists. It had me taking medication that they use for breast cancer patients. It had us entertaining nurses in our home once a week for four months while they administered my IVIG infusions (other people’s blood products!). Those sometimes took up to five hours to complete.

After all the failures and the miscarriages we finally had enough. I felt like something really needed to change so I could start to move forward. That change ended up being letting go of my “control” over trying to conceive. Today I’m so enlightened (kidding) that I realize I never actually had any real control to begin with. It was all an illusion. I see now that you cannot force anything in your life to happen if it’s not supposed to or if it’s not the right time. There are some things in life that you cannot control, no matter how hard you try.  Not just understanding this concept, but also accepting, and embracing it, are what have lifted the heaviest weights off of my shoulders. 

Admitting to myself that it was the choices I made that got me to where I am now, good or bad, has been really important for me. I think it’s a big step to take responsibility for leading my husband and myself down the path that I did. By doing so I have been able to free myself of the guilt and shame I harbored from knowing that, yes I am on this journey but it didn’t happen to me, I chose it.

Going forward I am focusing my energy on things in my life that I can assert real control over. Letting go of trying to control my fertility has opened up space in my life for me to pursue passions that I didn’t even know I had! I can’t wait to continue to share my journey of moving forward with you in future posts. As always thanks for reading. Until next time!

Choosing Joy

 

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Once I pulled myself out of the complete fog of five years of focusing completely on the singular goal of getting pregnant and starting our family I realized I had let everything else in my life go. 

My body was a mess, I had stretchmarks from gaining weight from all the fertility drugs, I had acne and my hormones were a mess. Once I stopped pulling on my sweat pants everyday and tried to put on a pair of jeans I realized nothing without elastic would fit anymore. It was a hard realization,  I had justified the weight gain and damage I knew I was doing to my body by convincing myself it would be worth it if it meant being able to have a baby. 

It was like opening my eyes after a five year nap when I didn’t even know I had been asleep.  I finally woke up and realized that despite not having a baby there were many wonderful things that I DID have. I decided to focus on the positives in my life instead of the negatives. I decided to focus on my marriage and my husband. I decided to focus on my body and my health, and I decided to focus on making my house a home. I have seen nothing but growth and improvement in all these areas since rededicating myself to them.

I decided to live my life intentionally. My husband and I have set some new long term and short term goals, we are working towards them together as partners. It feels really good to find a new purpose and path to happiness especially when I thought my life would look very different at this point. It’s such a simple thing to say but such a powerful thing to do. I choose joy everyday, I choose it over regret, bitterness, jealously, sadness, selfishness. I’m certainly not perfect and we all have off days where it’s hard to muster that positive attitude but I have seen a shift in my life since I started to intentionally choose to be happy. I noticed that I have far fewer off days where I am feeling down than I did before. 

Who knew you could still be happy even if things don’t go as you planned?

I didn’t, but I’m beginning to see that I can be happy if I simply choose to be.

Dr. Meany

I recently changed OBGYN offices, over the past five years this is my third OBGYN. I really disliked my first one, she thought I was young and stupid and would get pregnant on my own and keep it no problem it would just take some time. I stayed with her a year and it was a difficult one filled with several losses one including a D&C and her continued cavalier attitude towards my fertility despite my gut feelings and doubts. 

My second OBGYN was wonderful, I couldn’t say enough good things about him. He was very sweet and caring and he really listened to my concerns about my ability to carry a pregnancy to term. He admitted that fertility wasn’t his specialty and suggest that we go to the local fertility clinic for treatment moving forward. We followed his advice and that snowballed into about two years worth of EXPENSIVE treatment with no real results. That led us to Dr. Braverman who I spoke about in my post Journey to Today. All the while I was still checking in with my OBGYN. He was very supportive of all the treatments we endured even the more extreme measures we took such as IVIG. He almost coddled me too much, I think he was just a gentle soul but it felt like false hope towards the end of our time together.

This brings me to my new OBGYN, Dr. Meany. She is REAL, that is about the only way to describe how my first appointment with her went. She was recommended to me by family and a friend who suffered with infertility for TEN YEARS before she switched to this particular Doc and finally was able to have her miracle baby. Needless to say I went into my initial appointment with high hopes. I thought if she can help someone who has suffered through infertility for twice as long as me then surely she will be my saving grace as well. I was sorely mistaken going into the appointment with that mindset. Pretty much right off the bat she assured me that after all my IVFs and all the treatments and doctors I had already consulted and gone to that it was HIGHLY unlikely that anything she could do would make a difference for me. She said if I wanted to pursue aggressive treatment again she would support me and help me through it but she didn’t think she could do anything for me that would be a game changer. 

I left my appointment with her completely deflated. After all of the false hopes I had been spoon fed by various doctors during our journey this felt like the first time someone had been REAL with me. She explained I had already taken all the drastic measures that she would have suggested to someone like me and none of them have worked thus far so it’s unlikely they will work if we tried again under her guidance. She was honest about that fact that if all these other specialists couldn’t get me pregnant or get me to stay pregnant than she probably couldn’t either so don’t expect a MIRACLE. 

I went home and cried the rest of the day knowing that she was right, we had already pulled out the big guns and nothing has worked and she isn’t a specialist so I can’t expect anything new or different from her. I call her Dr. Meany which I think is fair because she was mean but she was also real and honest about my chances of conceiving naturally under her care. It was almost refreshing to not have someone giving me the run around after years of hearing that a lot of expensive interventions certain would make the difference for us.

I think after having Dr. Meany be honest with me I was finally able to be real with myself about our chances of conceiving without intervention which we aren’t willing to pursue again at this time. I am happy that I’m not living in la la land anymore. and by coming to terms with the path we are currently on as a married couple without children it is allowing us to make intentional choices about how we want to live our lives. It has been refreshing to embrace where we are together as a childless couple and further examine our life goals and make plans to reach them. We are grabbing a hold of thing’s that we have control over. such as home renovations, money, and budgeting and it feels good to be able to make positives changes to our situation after years of feeling out of control because we were unable to make our biggest goal of creating a family come to fruition.It has been a truly amazing feeling to come to terms with the fact that I am in charge of my own personal happiness regardless of my circumstances.  I am grateful for Dr. Meany being truthful with me about my situation so that I was able to really come to terms with my new reality. I am working on moving forward with grace and a positive view of life and a little sprinkle of hope that things could still turn out the way I wish they would, even if Dr. Meany says they probably won’t. I guess that makes me an eternal optimist. 

Why don’t you adopt?

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My husband and I have been fielding this question from people since our very first miscarriage. The truth is I have felt like I could adopt or be happy with an unconventional family since before I met my husband. Turns out once your married these types of life choices are not singular they are something you have to agree on with your partner. My hubby is not on board. He is either happy having biological children if it happens or not, either we have biological children by the grace of God or we continue to live happily ever after without kids. When you actually start to look into the process of adoption or fostering more roadblocks come up than you can imagine and it becomes a scary road to go down. At least for us it did and that is why we decided it would not be a good fit for us to try and pursue.

I feel selfish saying that we are too sensitive to agree to bring a child into our home that we might have to let leave or we might have to share with birth parents. It sounds like an easy option to people to don’t have to consider it as a serious option but for us it’s not something we think would be a good fit for us. Even five years into this journey we are still not ready to endure the possible heartbreak that could come along with fostering or adopting. How do you feel about fostering and adopting as an option when you have been dealing with infertility for several years?

Journey to Today

My journey to this point has been a winding road filled with ups and downs. I’ll start at the beginning and get you up to date. I married my wonderful hubby six years ago when I was a very young idealistic twenty something and he was a grounded mid to late twenty something. I had just graduated college with my bachelors degree the month before our wedding. I wanted to start a family ASAP, I figured we are married we have a house we have jobs babies just come next in the natural order of things. Hubby was not on board for babies year one of our marriage. I distinctly remember the majority of our first year of marriage fights being about me wanting to start trying for a baby and him not being ready. I’m not sure I knew what to do next without having a baby being the next thing on the list to check off, you see I love lists and checking things off, I also love planning and making plans, long term and short term. I had checked all the prerequisites off the list. 

  1. Find Mr. Right
  2. Buy a house
  3. Graduate College
  4. Have a full time job
  5. Get Married

Number 6 was HAVE A BABY!

Hubby had supported me through every other thing on the list and all of a sudden he was stone walling me, he wasn’t ready and I didn’t understand. We really had a pretty seamless first year of marriage besides that one large looming issue. Finally about a month after our first anniversary I had worn him down enough, I mean, he was ready to try. I was super ready and dove in head first to looking online and typing in your cycle days to see when you were ovulating. That lasted about three months and nothing came from it. We were over it and decided to just go with the flow. I hate that advice and of course after ignoring”trying” we finally got our two lines after just four months of trying. We were ecstatic and told everyone immediately, parents, brothers, and sisters, coworkers, only for me to start cramping and bleeding two days later. It was HELL, I’ve never felt anger or sadness so deeply in my life. One of the worst parts was having to tell everyone the sad news only days after telling them the good news, I was embarrassed. I recovered and was comforted by many stories of women conceiving easily following a miscarriage.

Two months later I saw another faint line that never darkened and I got my period only a day late. This was my first experience with a chemical pregnancy. After that I needed a break, I had a feeling this whole process wasn’t going to be as easy as I originally thought it was. I had the opportunity to go away for work for a few months and I took it. It was a much needed recharge and hubby visited when he could. About a week after I came home I found out I was pregnant again,this time my Dr. agreed to start me on progesterone to help support the pregnancy, we were cautiously optimistic. The tests kept getting darker, I went to the OBGYN and my bloodwork was good my numbers doubled. I went to the doctor at  6 weeks hoping to see a heartbeat and the doctor said it looked like I was only 4 weeks pregnant , maybe I had ,my dates wrong. I knew I didn’t but I continued to go to the doctor for an ultra sound once a week until I should have been 10 weeks pregnant but there was no heartbeat, only a gestational sac and yolk sac. It was the worst few months of my life, my doctor kept saying just wait it out that she had seen things turn around for people and seen rapid growth spurts but it never happened and the hormonal roller coaster was too much to ride. I ended up having a D&C and afterwards I fell into what was truly a deep depression. I have been on anti-anxiety and depression medication since my late teens, I have a genetic history of it and circumstances proved that the anxiety was clearly passed along to me. When I began the pregnancy my doctor was against me staying on my low dose anti-anxiety/depression meds so I quickly weaned off not wanting to negatively effect my supposedly growing baby. This left me at loose ends after my D&C, I restarted my meds but they weren’t working anymore and they definitely were not working fast enough. I had never felt depression before this and it was a very scary time, I was uncontrollably crying at work, I felt numb but also extremely sad I would say looking back it was the lowest I have ever felt even my Dad drove me to the Dr. for an appointment and said you have to pull yourself out of this. I sat on my husbands lap like a child and cried and cried and when he asked why I had no explanation besides a deep sadness that I couldn’t even explain.

With the help of good doctors , new meds, and the support of my husband and family I was able to start feeling more like myself again after a few months. After my recurrent losses over that first year of trying I really felt like something was wrong with me and I needed professional intervention. We went to the local fertility clinic and had all the tests. The only thing they found wrong was that I have MTHFR which is a genetic issue of processing B vitamins so I have to take vitamins with the already active forms of the vitamin or my body can’t break it down. It also predisposes you to clotting issues so Lovenox shots were added to my future pregnancy protocol. A short fast forward because it felt like a blur but we ended up doing two fresh IVFs and one frozen transfer at our local clinic, one the result was a low non doubling beta and the second and frozen were complete fails. I was so down I was still in my EARLY twenties what was wrong with me! Most of my friend were still terrified of accidentally getting pregnant and I was struggling with infertility, it almost didn’t feel real.There was no real explanation from the doctor either. I was desperate by this point I had three of my sister in laws and several cousins pass by me with pregnancies of there own and it was a struggle to celebrate with our families. I decided to pull out the big guns I searched high and low, blogs and medical websites, Dr. Braverman was our answer I was sure of it. He is a reproductive immunologist working out of Long Island, nowhere near us but like I said I was desperate. I had read success stories and I was sure I could be one too. We ended up doing a million more tests and he decided that I had endometriosis and I should have laparoscopic surgery with his then most recommended doctor , Dr. Pillitierri, also out of Long Island, also nowhere near me, Dr. B didn’t recommend moving forward with any IVF until after I completed this surgery to remove my endo. I ended up traveling back and forth several times for appointment, eventually flying there for my surgery with my husband and staying in a hotel to recover. A few months after that we tried an IVF with our local clinic but with Dr. B managing it and prescribing all meds. It was another fail.  He then suggested that perhaps a change of labs would be beneficial, so off to NYC we went. I had an egg retrieval freeze all with my hubby’s frozen sperm because in case I forgot to mention he was going through thyroid cancer at that time and had to have two surgeries six weeks apart and then radiation where he had to be isolated for a full week. Yeah we were in over our heads but I was determined and we kept pressing on. In preparation for my frozen transfer I was on steroids to calm my immune system for several months, I ended up gaining about 40lbs and felt completely crazy and out of control not to mention I had full on moon face and even my own father and brothers said they were worried about my because I didn’t even look like myself anymore. My mom was terrified I had high blood pressure because I was so puffy It was like I didn’t even see the change in the mirror because it happened gradually over several months. I was willing to give up anything and everything for a baby, my body, all our money, whatever it took. We did our frozen transfer in the city and I had gone so far that I had home health nurses coming to our house giving me IVIG infusions that took up to five hours,all in preparation for this transfer. Looking back it feels crazy and excessive but when I was in the middle of it , it felt necessary and essential. We transferred 3 grade A perfect embryos and even the embryologist was asking are you sure you want to put all three , you will surely end up with at least twins, we didn’t care we were hoping all three settled in for the long haul! I had a good first beta number and then two days later it had gone down. Dr. B said don’t be discouraged maybe all three took and one is now stopping growing or maybe two took and now it’s only going to be one. Two days later then beta dropped again and we knew it was all over for us. All our prep and we had the same out come as every other time, this time I was most devastated to tell our parents because they had been so happy with news of a good first beta. They had been our number one biggest cheerleaders over those three years writing checks for obscene amounts for doctor bills and handing us wads of cash in hopes that the next time would be it for us. Disappointing them has been one of the worst parts of this whole infertility experience, from the very beginning until now it has effected them to see there own children struggle to become parents themselves.

After our big Dr. B fail we decided we needed a break from everything BABY. We have taken the last two years to get back to being a married couple loving each other , not having sex for the purpose of procreation but just out of love. We have had to ask ourselves some hard questions and come to so tough realizations about our future but no matter what we are in it together. We have had a few miscarriages the past two years on our own without trying but always going to the doctor after a positive pregnancy test. Like I said it’s been a long winding road with lot’s of up’s and down’s but now that you are up to date we can go forward from here together. I’ve planned and failed, so from here on out we will just see what happens! Thanks for reading,it was a cathartic post I have never written out our journey before and I rarely talk about it so here is to opening up to the strangers of the internet!

Hello!

I’m excited to be starting my very own blog! This is hopefully going to be a space where I can share my vast knowledge of infertility, vent about life, and share things I’m learning and working on at home. I am an aspiring minimalist and money saver. I have a deep love for baby names, I’m an essential oil user, and a pintrest addict, and wine enthusiast. I am on a quest to live a happy healthy life,I always have the best of intentions even when things don’t go as planned.