Opening your heart

I can’t believe how many emotions I have gone through since we decided to pursue starting a family again a few short months ago. I know we have a plan with our new RE but I am struggling right now. I’m struggling because it’s the holidays and that always reminds me that we don’t have children to create traditions with. Also it’s the time of year where we spend lots of time with our extended families which includes lots of small children, toddlers and pregnant people. I’m happy in the moment with them and then feel an aching emptiness when we return to our quiet childless home. I struggle with hearing people complain about there beautiful perfectly healthy happy kids, most of them know what my husband and I have gone through and because I don’t have public meltdowns think I’m fine when I’m not so they are careless with hurtful comments.

It’s hard to feel like people aren’t grateful for what they have when they have what you want. With that being said I am self aware enough to realize that I also need to be more grateful for what I DO have because besides this whole infertility thing I have a lot going for me. My husband and I have stable jobs with good pay, we have safe reliable cars, we have family all around us that is supportive and loving, we have a big house with lots of space for entertaining and out of town guests, we have a happy marriage. When I start to count my blessings I feel guilty for feeling sad about our fertility struggle because it’s only one part of our otherwise charmed lives.

This thought process has been making me feel like maybe I need to open my heart more to the other options we have in building our family. I know early on I wrote about adoption and why we weren’t pursuing it. I had a lot of fears when I wrote it and some of them are still present and totally valid. It seems that the fear of never parenting or having children in our home has begun to over shadow those earlier adoption fears. We have a big, warm, safe, calm, happy household and there are lot’s of kids out there who NEED exactly that. What about their fear? What about the cold, hungry, neglected, and abused kids that are already born? I was blocking out these thoughts about children in need because I had my own selfish agenda of a perfect little baby that was half me and half my husband. I’m starting to have a hard time ignoring the fact that there are children in need and I have the means to provide and care for them. I have love to give and they desperately need love. It’s starting to sound like the answer to our biggest problem and the missing piece to our puzzle. I feel my heart opening to the idea of fostering to adopt and adoption. I’m still scared , I know it’s not an easy road but neither is the road we have been going down for the past 5 years.

It’s ALL hard. Being infertile is hard. Having miscarriages is hard. Having multiple IVFs fail is hard. Trying to live childless is hard. So adoption is hard, well I’ve done hard before and I’m still standing. Maybe just maybe we do have what it takes. We won’t know until we open our hearts up enough to try. I feel my heart opening everyday I think more about it or read more about it. I don’t think my husbands heart will be ready until we have finished pursuing our treatments. I think that’s okay because it’s giving me time to research options and think about the potential hardships and how we might deal with them, a few that we may have to deal with are failed matches, drug exposed or addicted babies, developmental delays in toddlers. Those are a few issues that come to mind when I start thinking about and reading about pursuing adoption, especially through the foster care system. My heart still desperately wants a baby, and how we get that baby is becoming less important everyday.

New Doctor, New plan

We met with our new doctor yesterday and he was wonderful! He had gone over our medical records and history before we arrived which was helpful because of how extensive it is. He has been doing his job for over twenty years and is a co-founder of the clinic that we are using so we felt like we were in really good hands. He did say that our case is extremely difficult there is not a clear reason for our issues and it could be multiple factors. He did say that our history is and I quote”horrific” and he understood if we didn’t have any “gas left in our tanks” to go through more treatments. He even suggested maybe pursuing adoption and then revisiting fertility treatments once we already have a child in our home. I do think it was eye opening for both my husband and myself to have him be so understanding of the physical and emotional toll that our journey up until this point has taken on us and say if it’s too much you don’t have to continue because he wasn’t promising us a miracle by any means. In fact his plan of action is kind of like a scientific test of our fertility in action. We had decided previously that we will be pursuing the treatment that h e suggested to us, within limits that we felt comfortable with and we were extremely happy with his plan. It’s a one step at a time process and here is how it plays out if all goes according to plan.

Step 1: At the start of my next period( 2 or so weeks away) Start birth control pills. Stay on through all of December.

Step 2: Start Stims to grow eggs in January, Egg retrieval at the end of the month.

Step 3: Wait for embryos to hit blastocysts roughly day 5. This is where the test begins. We have never had our embryos make it to day 5 or blastocyst they have always put them back day 3 or frozen them before day 5 because they never looked like they were going to make it. New doctor explained that is not normal at least a few of our embryos over our last IVFs should have made it to day 5 and blastocysts. He is calling this a stress test on our embryos. Here is our first potential split in my road.

Step 4a: IF our embryos make it to blastocyst we will do PGS on them to check for genetic abnormalities.

Step 4b: IF none of our embryos survive to blastocyst for testing we are done using our own embryos. We will discuss the options of donor eggs or adoption with the doctor and move on accordingly.

Step 5: IF embryos that made it to blast come back from testing as genetically normal I will have a test done called endometrial receptivity assay. It will consist of a mock cycle with transfer prep where they will do and endometrial biopsy on the day that would have been transfer day. My biopsy will be tested for inflammation and will also be sent to Spain to be tested for it’s receptivity. They will actually be able to tell if my uterus would have been receptive to implantation of the embryos on that specific day of my cycle with that specific transfer prep. If it comes back as receptive we know exactly what cycle day and exactly the dose of prep meds to do for transfer. If it comes back as not receptive we try again another month and based on the previous sample either wait longer to take the biopsy or take it sooner. This is a new test and it’s not completely proven but it seems worth it to us to have a better idea of when my uterus would be receptive to implantation or IF it is receptive AT ALL. We also think this test would be beneficial even if we end up using donor eggs and creating embryos, then we have a better chance of them implanting in me!

Step 6: Transfer embryos that have been tested and are completely normal, on most receptive day for implantation.

So as you can see it’s going to be an extensive process if we make it all the way through it. There are several points at which things could go wrong and then we would not move on to the next step of the process we would have to re-evaluate. We are happy with the plan as it’s completely science based and we believe it will give us an accurate and final answer to whether or not we will be able to build our family using our own genetics or not. Hubby and I both agreed that by doing this we will feel as though we have given this our absolute best and we will both be content to move onto other means of creating a family whether that would be with donor eggs or adoption will remain to be seen.

Now here are my unfiltered feelings on our new plan. I’m extremely happy with it. I think it will give us the answers that we have been searching for. I think it may yield answers that might be difficult for my husband to accept. I am staying in a positive mindset BUT if our history is any indication of the potential outcome of this “test” I am apprehensive to think that any of our embryos will make it to blastocysts when previously they never have before. That does not mean that I don’t have HOPE that they will. I absolutely am hoping and praying that we get the outcome that we want, which would be a happy , healthy child, created from our own embryos. However, I have become slightly jaded by our history and everything we have been through up until this point. As much as I can hope and pray that we make it through every step of this process my heart and my head are telling me to prepare myself for disappointment and struggle. Although I am trying to fight those feelings, I really hate to go into this feeling like it’s not going to work. That is not a good mindset to have. I am happy that we will be able to go through the holidays and not have to worry about doctors appointments or shots and we will start the new year with a new plan and renewed hope for building our family. I am happy that this new plan has steps and we can focus on and take things one step at a time. We are trusting our new doctor and his plan for us but I’m also giving it to God, I’m giving him the stress and the worry, I am letting go of trying to have any kind of control over the situation and I know that whatever is meant to be for us will find a way to happen.

Make Plans, God Laughs

So after my last post I was floating on cloud nine and super excited about our follow up appointment with our doctor to go over our test results and discuss our options. I was resigned to the fact that he was going to suggest donor eggs and I was ready for it. What I was not prepared for was for him to say that he thought we should try IVF again with MY eggs. WHAT?! I’m not a doctor but based on my history and latest results this was NOT the conversation I was expecting to have. He talked a lot about PGS, the genetic screening of embryos before putting them back, it would require me to grow the eggs mix them with hubbys stuff and let them grow for between 3 and 5 days then they take a cell from the growing embyro and test it to make sure its genetically normal before putting it back.

He kept saying it would increase our chances because he thought the majority of our loses have been genetic and he thinks this will help. I can’t tell you how much I DISAGREE and how DISAPPOINTED I was with his plan. My reasoning behind it is simple. I have never produced a lot of eggs, the most I produced in a single cycle was 8 and from those 8 we ended up with 4 okay embryos, we put back two in a fresh cycle and then froze two and put them back on a fet. We had a chemical during the frozen. My last IVF cycle I made 3 eggs and we got 3 embryos and put all 3 back. My beta came back at 65 then went down from there. Out of all those scenarios how would genetic testing of our embryos have helped us conceive? We have put back every viable embryo we have ever created together and never ended up with a baby.

When I brought that point up to the Doctor he even said oh well there is a stipulation that if you don’t have enough embryos to test then it’s not worth it and they won’t do it because if you only have a few we will just put them all back anyways. HELLOOOO THAT’S ME, THAT’S BEEN ME EVERY SINGLE IVF CYCLE, what could possibly change that now? As I sat in shock with him continuing to state that we can just try it I started to look around the room and tune him out, I saw the not so strategically placed pamphlets for PGS all over the office we were in. From there I started to feel like he was simply pushing us towards this because he must get some kind of kickback for sending people that route seeing as it’s about $2,000 out of pocket for the testing.

I cried all the way home and unfortunately my husband couldn’t understand WHY, to him this sounded like great news, we can try again, with my eggs, with %100 our embryos and we had never tried PGS before so to him we were trying something different, I tried to explain to him we never tried it because we aren’t people with an excess of embryos trying to decide which ones to put back, we have put them ALL back and it’s never worked. I felt like it wouldn’t work. I told my parent’s about the appointment and they were confused, what is he doing different from any other doctor you have gone to then they said, I told them nothing except charging us an extra $2,000 and setting us back a month to test our embryos. They got it. I felt physically sick after the appointment and I told my husband I didn’t think it was going to work and I was scared and didn’t want to go through with another IVF just like the ones we had done before. They were hard on me physically and emotionally and unfortunately I wouldn’t be going in blind this time.

I took a few days to sort through these emotions and the following Monday I found out that a new science based IVF clinic in a hospital 10 minutes from our house had opened. We knew it was going to open but didn’t know when and didn’t think it would be so soon. I called and made an appointment, we go in about two weeks and we had to wait a month for the appointment. We were told at the other clinic that they don’t like to cycle people around the holidays so we would have to wait until January to start so we didn’t see waiting another month to go to a new clinic as a setback. I don’t know what this doctor is going to say and I might not love his plans for us either BUT if we end up going the route of trying a traditional round of IVF again I would much rather do it 10 minutes from home than 2 hours, that alone has taken a lot of the overwhelmed feelings away from me.

This is a really long post but all of this has been marinating in my head and I have to get it out. It’s been an incredibly stressful and emotional month. First I was blindsided by the new doctor and then a week ago my cousin who I wrote about in my previous post, the one who had breast cancer and was real with me about trying again, she passed away. It wasn’t completely unexpected because her condition had been deteriorating rapidly but her death was sudden, she went into cardiac arrest. We pray that she went quickly and painlessly and is now a guardian angel looking over us with all our other family that have gone too soon. Losing the person who I was always able to talk to about my fertility issues and get a real and honest response from has been hard. She and I would always text in the middle of the night we would both have insomnia from steroids, mine for fertility and her’s for her chemo. I have found myself struggling to fall asleep since she has passed, once I do I sleep soundly but I sit awake looking at the clock until 2am before my eyes give out and close unwillingly. I cry thinking that I want to talk to her and tell her what’s going on and I want her honest feedback and it’s not possible. I have taken talking to her, just in my head now, hoping that my words reach heaven and she can find a way to send me the answers that I’m desperately looking for.

Losing my Aunt and then my Cousin both to cancer within 6 months of each other has been the hardest thing that my family have ever dealt with. Through all the sadness and tears I see the little faces of my young cousins, nieces, nephews, and last but not least my cousins 3 year old son that she had to leave behind. They are smiling and innocent and continue to bring us joy and laughter through these impossibly hard times. It has only cemented for me the feeling that children are the ultimate bringers of joy and happiness and one way or another my husband and I will find a way to bring a child into our family, I see clearly now that it is worth fighting for.