Are we offended?

Some many news stories recently have been about how people are offended by this or that.  I cannot help but wonder, are we actually offended?  When the Starbucks “scandal” came out with the red cups, my Facebook lit up with responses.  Every response was, why would someone be offended by a cup?  Why would someone be; it is a cup! Not one comment or post that I saw was a person sharing how offended they felt by the cups. It was like everyone was telling people to not be offended but there was no one who was actually offended.  Maybe there were a few people, people I do not know, but nothing like the news made it seem.  We fell for it and Starbucks gained a ton of supporters; and I’m sure they gained financially.  We spent days sharing things about a cup instead of anything of any importance.

I often see people saying that they will not say “happy holidays” because it should be “Merry Christmas”. Fine, say “Merry Christmas.” Does anyone actually care?  I know my feelings would not be hurt whether someone said “happy holidays”, “merry Christmas”, “happy Hanukkah” and so on!  I’m just happy someone was nice to me.  Just because someone celebrates a different holiday than me does not mean they are trying to take away from mine, nor should I take from theirs. Just be nice to each other; say whatever you want as long as it is kind.  I would venture that a majority of people would not mind what you wish them.  We are being trained to think that everything is worth being offended about.  Most of the things that people spend the time telling others to stop being offended about of are no consequence. I feel like there is so much more that could be discussed so that real change can happen.

I often see shared on Facebook about “kids now a days don’t know the pledge”, etc. In my experience as a teacher, they do know the pledge and God is still in it. There’s still moments of silence offered to those would want to start their day with prayer. No one is making people or students feel like they can’t; yet we will act offended.  I’m sure there’s places where these types of rights have been challenged but in the majority of places, things still go on as they have for a long time.  It is time to stop giving media or Facebook time and even your own time to those who are offended.  It brews the storm and the results are just ridiculous.

Bottom line, stop sharing and telling people to be offended unless you or someone you  is personally affected.  A majority of Americans are still good people who want the best for others.  That same majority does not care about cups.  Do our world a favor.  Share more important issues on Facebook instead of wasting our energy on things that really do not matter and change nothing for the better.

Acknowledging the Struggle

 

Struggle

I am sharing an article that was posted on Upworthy recently that caught my attention. The article is titled, Magic words to say when everything’s going wrong. (Not ‘everything happens for a reason.’) There are parts I agree with and others where I disagree. However, I completely agree with the last part of the writing. The article stated that one should say, “I acknowledge your pain. I am here.”  To just acknowledge that someone’s pain is more meaningful than any other words that can be given.

One of my best friends recently told me how much she commends me for this journey.  She said she’s never seen anything quite like it and that it has to be difficult. That simple acknowledgement has meant so much to me. I never  told her that, so she can know it now.  I spend many days thinking I am crazy, overreacting, too stressed to comprehend anything, or even wondering what in the world I am doing. To have someone just acknowledge that I am going through a lot brought me down to a level where I could function for even a few minutes. I did not feel like the weirdo who obsesses every minute of everyday about what is happening. I felt like Lauren who is just handling a lot, but somehow handling it.

One of the most difficult things during this infertility journey is I feel like I have lost myself in a sense.  I do not react to things the same way I used to (the joy of hormones).  My body does not feel the same; while I haven’t gained pounds, I still feel like an exploded can of biscuits.  For some reason, when someone just acknowledges your world is upside down, you can then realize it too.  You recognize that this is not a life sentence.  You are still the same person who went into this journey.

During this process I have been given a ton of advice and supportive words.  I appreciate them all!  I tend to believe that most people come from a good place when they are trying to give advice or support.   I know most people don’t mean to actually hurt me with their words.  But sometimes  words can cause some very unintentional pain.  I do not in a million years believe that the people who say them mean anything bad.  I think people are just at a loss for words, so they say whatever they think sounds positive and sweet.  I have relatively thick skin, but sometimes I did/do struggle with a couple of things that people tend to say in regards to infertility.  I’ll list them below and explain why they may hurt someone in this journey.  I am only sharing so that if you find yourself in this situation you may reconsider what you say.  I, for one, would always recommend just acknowledging their struggle and leave the door open for the person to share how they are feeling.

  • DO NOT bring up adoption.  We know this is an option, trust me, anyone going through infertility has looked into, considered, or just decided it was not for them.  This is a very personal discussion.  The loss of ability to experience pregnancy is something that so many women cannot even imagine losing.  It is something that would most certainly be grieved.  Adoption is not a cure for infertility. 
  • DO NOT ask how long we plan to receive treatment.  That is a personal decision.  Unfortunately, our ability to have a family is completely correlated to how much money we have, not even including what the average person should plan to have to raise a child.  When we are asked how long we plan to get treatment, it makes us feel unsupported in a sense, especially when the cost is brought up.  We know it costs a lot, our wallets see it.  However, the end result is invaluable.  We’ve made plans for ourselves to make sure we can afford it.  Many of those in these situations do. 
  • Saying, “everything happens for a reason”, just makes us obsess about the reason.  What did I do to make this happen?  Is it karma for something I did many years ago?  Why do other people, in less than favorable situations have no issue, but I do?  I have watched many things line up perfectly in my life, however it was not without extreme heart break.  Do I believe I am stronger now?  Absolutely!  However, it has changed me in good and bad ways.  I have chosen to focus and highlight the good changes. 
  • “It’s in God’s hands”, was by far the most difficult things for me to hear.  I believe in God and I know he is there for us.  However, this statement just makes me think, why is God not letting me be a Mom?  What did I do?  Is he mad at me?  Why am I not worth but so many others are, others who have abandoned their children?  I know I should trust in God through this process and I do; I  believe he is by my side.  However, that particular statement makes me think God is just saying “no” and I have no idea why.  Therefore, the obsession continues.  It also does not make the process any easier.  Your body goes through some very extensive changes physically, chemically, and emotionally, you cannot be in control of it all of the time.  A lot of how we feel during this process is between us and God.  Our spiritual stance is not something that would be useful to bring up that this time. 

All of the statements listed above have always been meant as kind supportive statements.  They’ve been said by family, friends and acquaintances and even as comments on this blog.  I disagree with the article because in no way do I think you should “kick” these people out of your life for saying ‘everything happens for  a reason”.  I feel like when you go through a difficult situation, you have to be prepared that people will not always have the right words for you and that is okay.  No one is really trying to hurt you (if they are purposely trying to hurt you, then by all means kick them out).  Most are only trying to offer support in the best way they think they can.  I feel like it is up to those in difficult situations to just be honest about their struggles so that others can be helpful.  It’s easier said than done; I know!  Unless you’ve stood in the exact same shoes as someone, it is difficult to come up with the words to show support in any situation.  You cannot blame people for not having the right words for your situation.  You can love them for trying and help them understand how you feel, if that is what you want to do. I am extremely fortunate to have the most supportive tribe of people in my life.  I’ve faced nothing but support and love during this journey from those who know me.  Since our story has been in the news, I have faced scrutiny from those who do not know us.   This has made my skin thicker in a way, but has also broken my heart several times.  Most of the hurtful things have came from people who have read our news stories.  I am thankful for all the love we have received; it far surpasses the not so loving remarks.

“I am here for you” has always been one of the most meaningful things to hear.  I know sometimes saying it sounds and feels empty.  However,  if you say it and show the person you mean it, they’ll never forget.  Living through infertility is a particular form of torture.  We make people uncomfortable when we talk about our struggles because it is not something that is considered “normal”.  This is not like talking about your pregnancy where everyone (maybe not your boss), wants to hear your story such as your birth experience.   It is easier to talk about pregnancy because it is all around us and it is such an exciting time.  When I am asked about my lack of children, I simply respond that now is not the time for us.  What I want to say is, we are doing IVF to have children.  One cycle has failed and it was heart breaking, but we are continuing to try and I have become quite the expert in giving shots.  I want to talk about IVF.  It is amazing and for a lack of better terms, just blows my mind! I think one of the kindest things someone could do for someone in this situation is to let the person talk about it.  Don’t let your eyes glaze over in boredom or feel uncomfortable; if the person appears comfortable, ask questions.  Chances are the person you are talking to has researched IVF more than the FBI would when doing a background check.  A lot of us are dying to share this amazing journey.  This journey is not all sadness and heartbreak.  We get to watch life from the very beginning of time; that in itself is amazing.

This article really made me think about what it has been like to go through a difficult journey and what has been helpful along the way.  I think the phrase “I acknowledge your pain, I am here”, can be used in any difficult situation and continue to be helpful.  To simply know we are not alone, whether you can relate or not, means the absolute world.  It lets us know we are the same person who started on this journey and that it will not last forever.  I related this article to infertility because it is my life.  However, I know the terms shared could be used in almost any struggle in life.  I am thankful for something that sounds to be more meaningful when talking to those I love who are facing difficult times.  I always want to show my support and love but sometimes I have no words.  Maybe the less said, the better.  I’m here for you.

Shaking Ground

“Keep on climbing, though the ground might shake.”  Maddie & Tae “Fly”

I have been listening to this song for awhile now.  I found it during our last two week wait.  I was thankful for the words in the song during and after the two week wait.  The ground is still shaking.  My heart is still broken.  Maybe it always will be, but somehow, I need to find some peace from my grief.   Peace would feel so much better than the emotions I have been running through.  When I was taking Psychology classes, I learned that the stages of grief do not follow steps.  You can visit each stage in any order, at any time. I think I started in these stages when we found out that we would not be able to have children on our own.  That is a fact to grieve in itself.  There’s a lot of feeling of loss with not being able to conceive on your own.  After going through the two week wait and finding out our embryo did not survive was the beginning of a whole new grief cycle.

I tried to keep the mindset that this will happen when the time is right.  However, that is becoming more of a struggle for me, a constant struggle.  I believe Kevin and I are the definition of “all things happen for a reason.”  There is a reason Kevin survived what he did; there is a reason we found each other again.  I truly believe that.  However, I struggle with why we also have to experience this pain.  This pain is more than I would have ever imagined.  It really is a roller coaster of emotions.  You have no idea if you are going to be able to emotionally keep it together minute by minute. I can rarely verbalize how I feel because it often comes out as angry or tears. Neither emotion is something I feel like feeling.  However, writing about it gives me the release I need, while keeping it together.

One of the hardest things for me is that I cannot participate in the pregnancy world.  When someone brings up something about pregnancy, I cannot relate.  I have no idea what it feels like to have your child move inside of you.  I have no idea what it is like to see two pink lines. I have not the slightest idea of any of it. I feel like the outcast.  I feel like the 16 year old, who has no right to get pregnant.  When in all reality, I am 27 years old, successful, married and dying to be a Mother.   I get to be asked, “do you have children” frequently. I know those people mean absolutely no harm when asking.  It doesn’t really hurt me to be asked either.  However, I wish I could always tell our story.  I always just respond with a simple “no”.  But what I really want to say is, “no, but this is what we are going through to try and have our family”.  It is a part of our story and right now it is my life.  However, my journey makes a lot of people uncomfortable so it is better to just stick with “no”.

I am a Christian.  I believe that God exists and that he is watching over us.  However, I struggle when I think that it is in God’s hands and that He might be saying I am not to be a mother.  It is even harder when I watch others have babies over and over in less than favorable situations than I find myself in.  I struggle believing that God would say it is a “good” time for 16 year old or a drug addict to have a baby but not for a 27 year old, financially stable, happily married woman.  It really is a struggle… a struggle to accept, at times, God’s plan for us.  However, the why me” road is not one I want to go down..  “Why me,” is not beneficial to anyone.  I would never wish this one anyone else.  I know that saying, “why me,” is like saying “why not someone else.”  I would rather this be me than to ever watch someone I love go through it.  I will never know why Kevin and I have to face this, but we do.  I have to figure out, somehow, how to survive it.

I am a statistics person.  It was one of my favorite classes in college. I find comfort in facts, reason, and logic.  I like to control and understand why things happen.  I am comfortable in those situations.   I like to know my odds and then I can take what comes next.  I am most comfortable when I am prepared.  I had what we would say to everyone already prepared before we received our news from the beta testing.  Our positive post was waiting in my phone, along with the negative that I, unfortunately, had to use.  While it was difficult to have to use that, I was glad I was prepared.   I researched the odds of IVF working and it is no where near 100%, 90% or even 70% of a chance.  There is no guarantee that I will walk away from this journey with a baby in my arms.  However, IVF, when compared to our less than 1% chance of it happening on our own, is a much higher chance of success and worth pursuing.  I don’t understand God’s plan for us right now. But I am so thankful to God for bringing Kevin and I together. I know he has something amazing in store for us.  And I am thankful that He has made it possible for us to meet and work with these amazing professionals who have the intelligence and interest to help us on our path to parenthood.

My ground is shaking.  I am not steady on my feet as I try to figure out my place in all of this.  I am trying to trust and have faith.  I am constantly battling my heart and my head.  God sent me the most amazing man to get through this journey with and I am so incredibly thankful for him.  We are partners in this process and that in itself has made this journey easier on us both.  We find strength in each other and help ourselves through the rough patches; always loving, always supportive. While God has always been a part of my life, I am working on finding more ways to invite him to all of my life.  Here’s to a stronger, more faithful us, during one of the most difficult journeys of our lives.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately. “Why me” does not help anything. Figuring out how to survive, become stronger, and build your faith is a much better focus.

Listen to “Fly” by Maddie & Tae here!

Cooking up hope

Even through heartache, life moves on.  I am finding each day to be easier to get through.  When we started the stimulating shots, life was put to a halt.  The only thing that seemed to matter at that time was making sure my body was healthy, being careful to not hurt myself as my body was swelling, and trying desperately to stay awake. Tonight is the first night I have made a nice dinner in well over a month.   I absolutely love to cook.  When I am cooking I feel so much peace.  Tonight I made Porcupine Meatballs (one of my Dad’s favorites).  I even got to bake a pumpkin pie.  I missed it so much!  I was starting to feel like a real live human again.  All of the “false” pregnancy symptoms have started to fade.  I am starting to get myself back after one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.  I hardly remember the last month and half.  My memory is still shot; which is very frustrating sometimes.  I think my mind is so overwhelmed with making our dreams come true, it is having a hard time focusing. However, if I had to choose something to consume me, I would choose having children.  This matters so much. This is a fight I would never be willing to give up.

It was incredibly painful to receive such bad news; especially after the amount of literal blood, sweat and tears that were put into it.  I gave up my entire body just to try to get pregnant.  You get through the difficult parts because you hope for positive pregnancy test at the end.  We did not receive that perfect ending… yet.  I am confident that one day our nurse will call us with news we have dreamed to hear.  My Mom likes to remind me that the bad news was us being told “not yet.”  To be childless is not our final destination.  We have more options and chances.

This entire experience has been very emotional.  I love the clump of cells I saw on our transfer day. I love them more than I could have ever imagined.  I did everything I could to have helped it survive.  It was the most pregnant I have ever been. For whatever reason, that embryo was not meant to be our baby.  I bought a box to put the picture in to keep it as a part of our journey; but to also keep it out of my direct view.  We are ready to use this as our strength to help us fight even harder to meet our goal.

Now Kevin and I are looking towards the future.  We have frozen embryos that were saved from our fresh cycle.  When my body is ready we will transfer a frozen embryo.  While it is not clinically evident at this time, sometimes a frozen embryo transfer can be more successful.  They believe this because the woman’s body is not as stressed.  The hormone levels are at a more natural level.  So let’s pray this next transfer will help us get one step closer to bringing Baby Jaye into this world!

Pumpkin Pie!

Pumpkin Pie!

Brace For Impact

You are driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour.  Everything is fine until someone, who thinks their life is more important, cuts you off.  Every muscle in your body tenses, you clench your jaw, you may even grab what my Husband calls the “oh shit bar” on your ceiling.  You prepare for the worst while praying for the best.  You brace for impact.

That is the best possible way I can explain the two-week wait.  You prepare for the worst and pray for the best.  You brace yourself for impact.  A negative beta feels much like you just ran your car into a brick wall.  However, somehow you survive.

On Friday, Kevin and I drove to our doctor’s office in Frederick to have blood taken.  I did not want to deal with this.  I still do not know if it was  gut feeling or an overreaction but I knew I was not getting a positive beta.  I felt like a complete idiot for going to get my blood taken.  I knew I needed to because I knew there was a chance I was wrong.  I cried while they drew my blood. I could not control it; the hormones change every reaction you want to have.  The woman who was taking my blood was the sweetest person.  She tried to console me, she told me “we are here for you”.  I believe that; I believe that my clinic is there for us.  They have all been rooting for us since the beginning.  They say “it takes a village to raise a child”.  I feel like our child already has its village. Our village is made up of our medical team, our families, our friends, and the community of people cheering for us.  We are thankful for every single person in that village.

Later in the day, my nurse called to give me the confirmed news.  Our test was negative, for whatever reason our embryo did not make it.  A perfect graded embryo did not make it.  No one knows the reason it did not make it.  This is just a part of life, a painful part, but a part.  That embryo knew what it is what going to be from the beginning.  We will never know and it breaks my heart.  My doctor called us later to see how we were doing and talk about some details. He told us that this is something that just happens sometimes, even with a perfectly grade embryo.  He shared that sometimes there is a genetic issue, sometimes it just does not attach, and sometimes there is no good reason.  We will never know the exact reason and that is okay.  We know we did everything we could have and knowing would not change the pain we feel.

Now, I have stopped all medications that kept my lining intact.  So soon I will lose everything that was supposed to be our baby.  It will be painful and I cannot wait for it to just be over.  Our next steps will be a frozen embryo transfer when my body is ready.  This will require more shots but it will not be as stressful on the body as the stimulating shots.

Kevin and I will fight through whatever we have to go through to have our baby.  We are sad right now but we will be okay.  We are still hopeful that our baby will be in our arms someday soon.   We have hope that our next cycle will bring us success.  For now, we have full faith in our medical team and God to get us the family that we always wanted.

Thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers.  My heart broke to have to share the news with everyone because I knew it would bring sadness.  We will never forget this, but we will make it through this.  Kevin and I are fighters, we will fight as hard as we have to.

For today, squeeze your babies (young and old) a little tighter. Let them know how much you love them; because every baby is truly a miracle!

Brace for

Two Week Wait – Day 11

Today is day 11 of our 2 week wait!  It has been such a long 11 days.  An emotional roller coaster is the only way to describe how it has felt.  Everyday is harder and harder.  Morning is always the hardest.  I find myself crying every morning on the way to work.  I think mornings are harder because it is the start of another day; another day of not knowing.  You would think it would get easier because you know your testing is coming up sooner; however it is not easier.  The idea that on Friday I will know if I am still pregnant or not, is almost too much to handle.  I have not the slightest idea of what is going on in my body.  I feel so many symptoms that would make a person who is not struggling with infertility, wonder if they were pregnant.  However, the medications could completely be the culprit for the all the symptoms.

Afternoons are much easier to handle.  I’ve started my day, I follow my routine and life goes on in a way.  I probably think about it a gazillion times a day even in the afternoon.  However, the sadness is less intense.  I am in this day, I have to handle this day.  I have two options; give up, lay at home crying all day, or try to make the best of each day and see how much stronger I can get. I am choosing to keep going each day.  I am making the conscious effort to not give up, when it would be so easy to do.

Today I feel more hope than I have for several days.  I’m not really sure why but I feel more of a sense of peace right now.  Peace that what will come, will come. There is nothing I can do about it.  I’ve taken my medication, my prenatal vitamins, I drink a ton of water, I relax when I can, no heavy lifting, zero caffeine has entered my system, I even wash my fruit and vegetables with actual veggie wash (crazy, I know). I lost weight before the procedures, exercised constantly. I gave this everything I have.    I however, do not get to choose if our embryo does survive or not.  My heart is begging for it to survive. My entire being  wants nothing more than to get a positive beta test.  I feel like at times I go through the stages of grief, even though I have nothing to grieve right now.  I’ve promised God that I will be a good a mother and that our child will live in a home that knows nothing but love and to please give us a chance.  I’ve begged, I’ve bargained, I’ve been angry, I’ve been sad. I’ve felt them all in a day.  At the end of all of those emotions is the reminder, I am not in control here.  I don’t get to choose if my pregnancy can be maintained because I have done everything I could do.  I am a mother to these embryos and I have loved them unconditionally since they were just an idea.  Since the thought of becoming a mother so many years ago ever crossed my mind, I have loved what I cannot yet hold in my arms.

In two days I will go into the doctor’s office to have my blood taken.  I will drive back home and wait.  Wait for the phone call that changes everything.

We have been keeping everyone updated and will continue to do so. Please understand that we will give the update when we are ready to.  It may not happen on Friday, which does not mean something is necessarily wrong.  No matter the outcome, this is part of our story. We appreciate all the prayers and support!

A mind

The Two Week Wait – Day 5

Today is day 5 post transfer of a 5 day blastocyst. By today our embryo should be completely implanted. If it is not implanted there is little to no chance of a continued pregnancy. What I would give to have a microscope to tell me what is going on in there! Has it hatched all the way; has it implanted? Whatever has happened by today will directly reflect the news we hear next week.

Everyday after the retrieval, we received a phone call that told us how our embryos were doing. They were watched and monitored. One of the highest graded one was chosen for the transfer. It was beginning to hatch out of its shell; which is gave us so much hope. I just wish I could get a phone call to tell me, “hey, I am still growing in here.” Just something to get me through the next week and a half. I have been experiencing twinges of pain in my lower abdomen. Could that be implantation? Sure, it could be. It could also be residual pain from the egg retrieval and some very pissed off ovaries. I am experiencing many symptoms that anyone would when they are pregnant. However, I have no idea if it is the pregnancy or the medications. At this point, it is most likely the medications.  It is a cruel mind game at the most pivotal moment of your life.

 I am consumed.
When we started our journey towards figuring out how we would have a family; I learned about the two-week wait. I thought it would be difficult just from reading about it. Now that I am experiencing it, difficult does not even define it. It consumes you. You wonder all day long; am I or am I not pregnant? How are things going in there, in my own body?  I spent day after day watching my follicles grow at my daily appointments during stims. I saw progress everyday. I was proud of my body for stepping up the stress I was putting it under and providing us with what we needed.  Now, I do not know what my body is doing. I just hope it is being nice to our embryo. I hope it is providing a safe and nurturing home.

Kevin and I have been through a lot in our lives and the past couple of months while planning and implementing this has been just as trying.  Our dreams have always been to have children.  We have a 1% chance of conceiving on our own.  While IVF does not guarantee a live birth, it does significantly increase our odds.  This process is everything to us.  It is our lives; it is our future.  So much planning, money, time, energy, and my own body has gone into make our dreams come true.  This process has been everything but easy. However, it is something we would do over and over again to bring our child into this world.

So today is day 5 post transfer. In the infertility world it is often written as 5dp5dt; meaning, 5 days post a 5 day transfer.  This means our embryo grew in the lab for 5 days and now it has been 5 days since it was transferred back into me. Today is a big day because it should be implanted today and if not, it probably will not happen.  We still have over a week to go until we are able to find out if this actually happened.  We are trying to stay busy.  Last night I went to Paint Nite with some friends; that significantly helped a pretty rough day emotionally end on a good note.  Now to continue to find things to keep my mind busy, my heart happy, and things to laugh about each day!

Please say some extra prayers today that everything is doing what we need it to!  Pray for implantation to be complete!  I bet you never thought that would be something you would read or pray for, I know I did not! Please know how much we appreciate it!

To our Embaby: We hope you are warm, safe, nurtured, and most of all we hope you know how much you are wanted and loved.  Please stick! Love, Your overprotective, worry wort of a Mother and your unconditionally loving Father.

This is my painting from Paint Nite last night! A little heart in the middle for the baby we hope to know soon!

This is my painting from Paint Nite last night! A little heart in the middle for the baby we hope to know soon!