Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Not Just Me

So, I promise after this post that I'll just start writing in a journal, because this is supposed to be the Hamilton Times, not Rachael's Rants and Ramblings. 

I came across a post on a friend's blog today that really impacted me because it was so straight forward and honest.  She said, "Some people really don't get it. I'm seriously convinced that there are those who think everyone wants to hear about their pregnancy, or their sister's baby or how wonderful parenthood is... I'm here to let you know not everyone is strong enough to hear anything dealing with children."  Although, I don't have the exact same sentiment, I can sympathize.  Attending church on Sunday and sitting through an hour long lesson on Motherhood had me really bugged.  I felt like the only people who were being taught were the ones with children.  There was the occasional side note of, "For those single sisters who do not have children, they have the opportunity to be nurturers to nieces, nephews, and neighbors."  What about the non-single sisters who do not or cannot have children?   That was the question I was thinking of non-stop, rather than opening my heart to the spirit of the message.  I had this bitter and angry feeling after leaving Relief Society and it stuck with me until this morning when I read my friend's post.

After reading her statement I realized that people do not realize how difficult it is to be dealing with infertility.  They just don't understand because they have never experienced it.  They don't know what to say or do and because the person struggling with infertility is so emotionally vulnerable it just ends up hurting.  So, here's an awesome link and a few of my favorite portions of the Infertility Etiquette Guide from Resolve, the National Infertility Association.  I've shared this with my family before, but figure, anyone can learn something from reading it.  Here are the sections that are most meaningful to me.

"Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life. 

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal."

I appreciate this section because it validates the fact that it is an actual grief that I feel every month and that I am not alone in getting my hopes up every month and being let down every time as well.  I am not trying to invalidate the pain of people who have lost loved ones, I just appreciate that this shows that they are both forms of grief.

"Don't Minimize the Problem

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child."

I like this section because I think this is the most common gut reaction that people have when they find out that we are struggling with infertility.  They act like it's no big deal.  This one and relax have to be the most irritating to me.

"Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy
This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.
The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you."

 I don't always agree with this one, because I do have a lot of pregnant friends and I can interact with them just fine most days.  It's just like my friend's post though, if I'm not up to talking about your pregnancy or your sister's cousin's baby, then let me leave the conversation and do not be offended.  Some days I am just not strong enough to handle your hormones and mine. Post all you want on facebook and your blog, because I can choose not to read it, but don't force me to be a part of a conversation that I just don't feel up to having.

So, there is the end of Rachael's Rants and Ramblings.  I hope that this was somewhat educational, if not an education on how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking, then an education in infertility.  It's a real issue.  7.3 Million people in the United States struggle with it and if more people were willing to talk about it and be open about it, then maybe less people would deal with this grief on their own.  I'm glad to have such supportive friends and family who help share these feelings and make me feel less alone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ready for an Update

I've been wanting to update the blog for a bit, but wanted to make sure I was in a good place before doing so.  I'm pretty sure I'm in a good place now so here it goes.

After the last post it took about a week to get the blood work back and about a week longer to get a straight answer from the doctor about the results.  Here's what we found.  Both of the embryos did implant, but they did not survive and cysts formed around them.  We can not definitively say, but the doctor seemed confident when he said, that the embryos did not survive because of elevated C reactive protein levels.  I had elevated C reactive protein levels because of the daily progesterone shots.  Progesterone does not come in a raw form, it has to be injected in an oil, most commonly sesame oil because it is the least expensive form (at $60 per 8 day vial).  It turns out that I have a sensitivity, not an allergy, to sesame oil and that caused the reaction in my blood and a week long case of hives at every injection site.  The treatment for getting rid of the cysts is taking birth control to level out hormone levels, but I refused to take birth control, I'd rather let my body get itself back into whack on its own.  I did, however, agree to take oral hydro cortisone to help lower the reactive proteins and to make the itching stop.  So that's what we learned from try number one of IVF.

Now, most people have asked or are wondering, when will you do try number two.  The answer is, I don't know.  It's hard to want to try again when you know how crappy it feels to have it not work out.  When we do try again I'll be on progesterone in olive oil instead of sesame oil though, I do know that.  With holidays coming up, it's hard to want to try again when it could end up ruining the holiday season.  Then, there's the Hamilton family trip (most likely in February) which means based on cycle dates January and February are probably out... so who knows when a good time will be.  I'm sure that we'll know when it's the right time, but for now, we've got no clue and I'm pretty okay with that.

Since I only expressed anger and frustration in my last post, let me tell you a little about my personality.  I pretty much hate feeling sad.  It makes me feel powerless.  So, I just feel angry about things so that I can feel in control, until I'm out of the zone of time when I might feel sad and then I just try to avoid feeling anything in general.  I did pretty well avoiding things, but with my collection of baby stuff in the basement bedroom, it was kind of hard to avoid feelings forever.  So that I don't have to feel sad when I see those things, I returned the bumbo seat to Walmart since they were recalled anyway and gave my dream car seat in the fabric that I loved the most to my sister-in-law.  She'll be able to use it before I will, so at least it will get some use before it expires in 2015.  It served me well as a model for the canopies and seat pads that I made in the past though.  Now I just need to find a home for the stroller and a pottery barn boys bedding set. 

This was my dream carseat

Just as I expected from the last post, I got all three reactions that I anticipated and I have to say, that I appreciated all of them.  I even did okay with pregnancy announcements within the same week of finding out that our IVF cycle failed and only cried a little bit.  I mostly loved my parents' willingness to say that they would drop everything and come out to visit if that's what I needed to feel better.  They are so supportive and although I turned down their offer, knowing that I was more important than any work responsibilities made me understand that it's a relationship like theirs with me that really makes me want to have kids.  I am so grateful to have such amazing people in my life.  Since I feel like I am rambling now, I'll leave you with a quote shared by a great friend when she found out about our failed attempt.  "In India, we have a saying: Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, it is not yet the end." -The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  So here's to this not being the end.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's Be Real

Have you ever written a post when you were so angry that your hands were literally shaking?  No?  I hadn't until just now, and it's probably a big mistake, but oh well, I need to write about this and haven't because I cared too much about people 1. being rude, 2. expressing pity, 3. acting like it's no big deal.

Well, you know what?  Screw all of the people who would have those responses.  I feel really angry right now and I want to be open about why.

Jon and I have been trying to get pregnant since May 2010.  A little less than a year after we got married.  Do the math and you will see that it's going on 2.5 years that we have been trying.  In this amount of time I have seen people get married and pop out two children, and although I am happy for them, every time I see a birth announcement, ultrasound, or "I'm going to be a big sister/brother" post on Facebook it still feels like a stab in the heart.

Now, this is where you are probably thinking, why haven't they gone to a doctor?  Well, we have.  We had a diagnosable issue that was addressed with medication and Jon and I were both considered in good health.  Since it had been more than a year since we started trying, we sought the help of a fertility specialist, who, after getting the hormone levels worked out with a medication, said we would be great candidates for IUI.  Well, six months down the road and three failed IUI attempts later, the doctor said we had to move on to the big guns, IVF.

Minimal stimulation IVF involves oral medication to increase the number of follicles that hold eggs.  Then, daily shots to increase the size of the eggs and another daily shot that prevents the eggs from ovulating on their own.  Finally, when they get to a good size, I trigger the eggs to be released with two shots of HCG and go into the doctor for a procedure where they remove the eggs.  To help along the process, an awesome embryologist takes a sample from Jon, picks out the best sperm, and using a robotic arm with a microscopic needle, injects one sperm into each retrieved egg.  What is now formed is an embryo that is observed for two days to ensure that it is maturing properly and then the best two are transferred back into the uterus. Strict bedrest is enforced for two days after embryo transfer to allow the embryos the best possible chance of implantation and vigorous exercise as well as lifting items over 10 pounds are prohibited until a blood pregnancy test can be administered 12 days after transfer.

So, that's sort of the science behind IVF.  Here are some stats from our IVF cycle.  We had 4 healthy eggs retrieved and all 4 were fertilized and survived the ICSI process.  After two days of observation, the healthiest embryos were selected for transfer (we had a 9 celled AB quality embryo and an 8 celled A quality embryo).  I was on bedrest and spent a relaxing weekend watching TV and reading.  The other 2 embryos were observed for progress so that they could be frozen and used in future cycles to have more children.  Sadly, neither of the "extra" embryos survived to become blastocysts.  We were reassured at this stage that although those two did not make it, the environment in the uterus is much more friendly to embryos and that all was well.  My hormone levels were checked and I diligently took a shot of progesterone in the hip every morning and tracked my weight and waist.

Fast forward 12 days.  This morning we went in for our HCG beta test, to find out if the embryos took.  Upon arrival we were warmly greeted and everyone happily joked that we would have good news in an hour and a half when the blood work came back.  I should have realized that when it took three tries to get the blood sample that nothing good was going to happen.  The results came back negative.  My HCG level was less than 1.  Jon was loving enough to be the one to take the call and share the bad news with me.  The doctor got lucky because I might have cussed him out if I had been the first to talk to him.  After talking to Jon for a moment, the doctor wanted to talk to me and ask me questions about a family history of miscarriage.  A history that I brought up 8 months ago and he chose to blow off.  I was even taking baby aspirin at the time to deal with what I thought could be a problem and he told me to stop, for fear that it would thin my blood which could cause excessive bleeding during egg retrieval.  I really appreciated being told by the nurses that only 1 in 10 IVF transfers don't take and that we had such great odds of things working.  It sure made me feel great to be the 1 in 10 for whom it did not work.  Well, thanks doc, for saying things like, With the quality of the embryos it should have worked, we'll just have to do some blood work to figure things out.  Oh, and thanks doc, for faxing the order into the lab by my house, but, coding everything the wrong way so that I had to wait an hour for you to take their call and get things clarified.  Oh, and thanks doc, for taking their call and rather than listening to the lab tech chick when she tried to get answers to her questions, you just told her that the results from this morning were correct and that I was not in fact pregnant so that when she got off of the phone she apologized five times for my unfortunate circumstances.  Oh, and thanks doc, for ordering a test that costs $750 and is not covered by insurance to run a genetic test for a disorder of which my family has no history.  Oh, and the solution for the disorder is to take 2 to 3 times the recommended dose of folic acid?  I'm pretty sure it doesn't cost $750 to buy folic acid supplements from Costco.  Thanks also for not having an answer for the lab tech chick and rather than you calling her back with the answer, you had your secretary call my cell phone to give me the answer.  I had a great time putting your secretary on hold while I waited for lab tech chick to finish running drug tests for the other two people in the waiting area.  It was just a blast spending that much time in the Lab Corp waiting area feeling angry and ready to cry.  But really, thanks lab tech chick for being so nice about things, I know you hate your job, but you were really nice to me.  Oh, and thanks to the Wendy's fast food guy for giving me my first taste of soda/caffeine/DrPepper in a month when I left the lab to come home and vent to my dog.  Oh and thanks to the Red Cross, for calling to see if I'll donate blood tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure that after 4 needle pricks and 4 vials of blood today I don't want to go.  Call me next week and I'll be there, but today is not such a good day to say you want to do anything with my blood.

So, there.  That's why I am so angry that my hands are shaking as I type.  I'm sick of infertility and not knowing why.

To diffuse this anger and help you see that I am not a bitter witch I will say this, I am grateful that I live in a time when all of this is diagnosable.  I am grateful that the doctor called in labs to try to find an answer as to why things didn't work.  I am grateful to have such an affordable doctor who is really qualified and probably just as stumped by my body as I am.  I am grateful that knowing I'm not pregnant means that I can ride every ride at Lagoon this Halloween and enjoy all of the rides at Disneyland when we go for Mickey's Halloween party.  I wish that I were not able to ride them, but I can't change what's already happened.  I'm also grateful to have such a supportive family and amazing group of friends who offer prayers and comfort but also know that it's okay to just be MAD.  I'm grateful that even though this outcome is not at all what I wanted, that rather than praying for a baby, we all along have been praying for God's will to happen.  I kind of hate that His will doesn't match mine right now, but He's got more experience than I do, so I just need to accept all of this.  I just wish that for once there could be good news for us.  Like I said, I'm happy when other people get good news, but it still hurts inside.  So, thanks for letting me be real and let you know about this life experience that we are having.  Sorry there are no pictures, but hey, I included some educational links.

Friday, March 30, 2012

He Loves Me Because I'm Crazy

Pretty much anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a nut for baby gear.  I blame my fascination on the fact that I worked at Babies'R'Us, but Jon knows the real reason, it's because I am crazy.  Well, crazy me got some birthday money back in January and it's been eating a hole in my sock drawer waiting for the perfect deal to come along.  See, I have a list of all of the baby gear that I want to own some day, and not just the brand, the specific fabric and style.

Over the last three years we've collected quite a bit of this gear (carseat, stroller, high chair, pack n play, monitor, etc) for use when friends and family come over, but a few of the things do not come up used and in good condition on Craigslist and KSL very often.  So, I've been patiently stalking Amazon and a few other retailers websites.  Imagine my surprise when I found the exact Ergobaby Carrier that I had been coveting for months on Amazon on sale more than 30% off!  Happy Birthday to me and the awesome carrier we'll use someday.

Having a little bit of cash left in that sock drawer was eating away at me though.  Silly?  Yes.  I should have been using it to get a couple new shirts for work or something practical, that I might actually need in the next few months, but no, I kept searching for that last item on my list.  My dream diaper bag.  Is it weird to have a dream diaper bag?  Probably.  Oh well.  I was amazed to find out this last Saturday that the exact bag in the exact fabric that I wanted from Nordstrom was on sale!  Basically half of the price of all of the other PPB bags.  Not only was it on sale, but the store only a couple cities away had it in stock!  I asked Jon if I was crazy for wanting it.  After having dreams about wearing it to Disneyland (it's from a limited edition line called It's a Small World) three nights in a row, I decided to just bite the bullet and get the bag.
I texted Jon right after I bought it today and his response, "dang it, I was going to get it for you on Monday and save it as a surprise for Mothers' Day."  Oops.  I guess I should have been more patient, but if anything I just learned that even though he might think I'm cuckoo he really does listen when I mention the things I am passionate about.

P.S.  This post is in no way an announcement of pregnancy.  It's just me showing all of you what Jon deals with on a daily basis.  We're hoping for an announcement of that variety in the next few months though.  Stay tuned for more updates.