Why am I begging? 

If you follow me on Facebook or basically any other social media I have probably been driving you nuts with my post lately.  I’d apologize but I can’t because it is just that important.  My Husband and I have been fighting for over a year now for Congress to pass legislation to allow the VA to provide IVF coverage to our wounded Veterans.  I know other couples that have been fighting for over 6 years for the same thing.  Year after year this gets put on the back burner.  Year after year it is voted down or taken out.  Every precious year during our child bearing years is quickly passing us by, while we wait for Congress to decide how they “feel” about IVF and other fertility treatments.

Congress- WE DO NOT HAVE TIME!  44% of Maryland’s Post 911 Veterans are in their prime child bearing years.  When you hit around the age of 35 fertility discussions start to become different.  My Husband spent 2.5 years at Walter Reed recovering from significant injuries that he sustained in Afghanistan during his first deployment in our Army’s Infantry.  Kevin lost his leg and suffered extensive injuries to the rest of his body.  He also lost a testicle that resulted in a significant decrease in fertility.  Every test and doctor we have seen has said the same painful words, we will never have children on our own.  We were told that we would be covered through the DOD if we did IVF while he was active duty.  A perfect time to bring a child into the world… between surgeries and a very unstable situation… NOT! We made the responsible decision to hold off on having children until our life settled and we were ready. Since we waited, we lost coverage for IVF treatments that we needed.  The VA cannot provide IVF treatments to any Veterans, including those who need it because of a war related injuries.  After Kevin retired the VA ran every test, looking for options because they desperately wanted to help us.  Unfortunately they had to tell us that they were unable to help.  Why? Because our government placed a ban that prohibits the VA from providing the treatments.  The funny part is, the DOD is able provide it.  Why is there a difference between the two?

When we met with members of Congress we were hit with some pro-life issues.  Apparently pro-life is not an issue for DOD even though the IVF is provided the exact same way.  IVF is as pro-life as you get.  We are starting life, we are trying to have a family, not end it.  I’m not sure why our veterans are being hit with these questions when all they are asking is to start a family and to have a more normal life.   It is unfair and unethical to make them feel anything other than supported when trying to pursue their dream of having a family!

Our life will never be normal because of war.  Parts of my husbands body are somewhere in Afghanistan and the 2.5 years he spent recovering he will never be able to get back.  Does he regret it… no, he doesn’t.  His Mom had to live with him for about 2 years to care for him through over 30 surgeries.  Now he is medically retired.  He is going to school for his Bachelors degree.  He is ready to be a Dad.  His Mom, who had to wonder if her son would survive, is ready to hold his baby-her Grandbaby.  This is what normal looks like for so many.  All we are asking is for a piece of normal, to be able to be parents.

The reason I am pushing so hard for support now is because Congress will soon be going on break.  If this is not voted on as a yes, more years will continue to pass and more families will be faced with trying to figure out how to have a family.  Like I said before, many of these soldiers are in their child bearing years now, they do not have time for this to take longer! Our wounded service members deserve better.  The ultimate goal of recovery after a war injury is to go on with life as normal as possible, to make the person whole again.  By passing these bills we are helping to make these men and women who already gave so much, whole again.

If you have children, look at them and ask yourself what you would do to bring them into this world if you had to do it all over again.  That is all we are doing.  Our baby is not due until August, but we know the love for her is immeasurable because we have and will do anything to bring her to us.  We will also do anything we have to make sure other people in our situation do not have to feel the way our Government has made us feel.

Please help us by sharing with Congress your thoughts.  We welcome you to use our story.  There’s over 2000 known cases of Veterans who now face infertility because of war injuries. Let’s stand up for these people and help change their lives.  So often we hear “thank you for your service” and we know the people mean well but a true thank you is to help fight for these men and women.  The link I am going to post is a quick and easy to write your representatives requesting that they support these bills.  You do not even have to look up your representatives, they do it for you!  You don’t even have a to type the letter, it is done for you (although you are welcome to add and change things).  You simply put your name and address and it is done!  Something so simple could change the lives of so many and would truly be a meaningful “thank you for your service” for so many!

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Click here to let your voice be heard!

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

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!

Transfer Day! Officially PUPO!

We are officially PUPO!  This typically stands for “Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise” in the infertility world.  However, I decided to change it to “Pregnant Unless Proven Otherwise”.  The word “until” seems too negative to me; like eventually I will get the phone call that we are not pregnant.  I like the word “unless” much more.  To me this word means that it may not happen.  That I may not get the phone call that I am not pregnant.  Unless means that I have every reason to believe that I will get the positive phone call; and if we do not get that phone call, we will cross that bridge at that time.

This morning we watched our embryo get placed back into its home.  It is now in the blastocyst stage.  Our little embryo is even starting to hatch!  Before I started this journey, I did not realize that humans do

hatch!  This has to happen in order for it to implant into the uterus lining. In two weeks, we will get blood work done.  This will help us if our embryo has survived.

We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers during this time!  The next two weeks will be difficult to get through but we have hope!  Kevin and I choose to be public about this journey in an effort to educate as many people as we can about something that impacts 1 out of 8 couples.  In someways being public is very difficult.  I am still sad sometimes that we will not get the cute surprise pregnancy announcement like most people do.  I also know that if we receive not so happy news in two weeks, it will be difficult to go through that publicly. However, we decided that the impact we can hopefully make is worth it.  We also hope that anyone going through this knows they are not alone.  We want to break the silence that so many feel they must live in while suffering from infertility.  Infertility is a disease that is represented in both men and women equally.  1 out of 8 couples suffer with it.  Our story is just a glimpse into this world and we hope it brings the issues to light.

We will keep everyone updated!  Keep the prayers coming for Baby Jaye and pray for a BFP (BIG FAT POSITIVE)!

This is an actual picture of our embryo!  This picture was taken today; before it was transferred back! It is starting to hatch as you can see on the left side of the picture.

This is an actual picture of our embryo! This picture was taken today; before it was transferred back! It is starting to hatch as you can see on the left side of the picture.

The Story of Us

Ten years ago, in 2005, I met a man named Kevin.  We met when we were going to Community College. I was going to school for teaching and he was going for computers. We had a chance to be together at that time but we were always just friends.  It wasn’t because we didn’t enjoy being around each other or a lack of compatibility.  It was simply just what worked for us at the time.  We enjoyed being friends and we talked all the time through AIM or text , although I had to limit those since we had to pay for each one back then! Our conversations were always interesting and were compiled of the most random topics.  He really understood my sense of humor.  I could be myself from the beginning of our friendship. I was always considered the “quiet” (which I absolutely HATE being called, whether it is true or not) girl.  With Kevin it was different, I could say or do anything and he just rolled with it, no judgement, ever.  Although, I am sure some days he would love to see my quiet side!

One of the last times I remember seeing Kevin, was when he met me for dinner after work one night.  Kevin was working in Fairfax, so I did not see him much after he moved.  We stayed in touch through social media and text messages but those became far and few between as time went by.  Eventually, we both started dating other people.  Kevin and I checked in once in a while to see how the other was doing.

Kevin joined the Army after his job in Fairfax and I became a Teacher.  He was engaged to someone and I was getting ready to get married in a few months.  In 2012, Kevin deployed to Afghanistan.  On June 24, 2012 Kevin an IED forever impacted his life and all those who love him.  Kevin lost his right leg below the knee, pinky, and among other injuries, he suffered tremendous damage to his left leg..  On June 30, 2012 I got married.

After returning to the states and only a couple of days after my wedding, Kevin sent me a message on Facebook congradulating me on my marriage.  I remember thinking, he is absolutely insane for even caring that I got married after what he is going through! We stayed in touch once in a while through Facebook because he was posting regular updates about his recovery.  I was proud to know such a courageous person after watching the beginning of his recovery through his Facebook post.  He stood true to be the man I had met many years ago.

After just a few short months of marriage, I left my husband on November 10, 2012.  I suffered through months of emotional abuse and determined that the marriage was not able to be saved (more on that on a later blog).  I didn’t post much about it on Facebook so Kevin didn’t find out until Christmas when I wished him a Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas and checked in on his recovery. Yes, he is a Christmas baby!

We stayed in touch through Facebook and text messages for a while after Christmas. It was like no time had passed since the last time we talked.  We were always able to find something new to talk about.  At the end of January, I went to visit Kevin at Walter Reed.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw him again.  I was lost on the base (they way the number buildings does not make sense and I’m sticking to it!) and he was trying to help me find my way through the phone.  Eventually I made it into the correct building. As I was walking down a long hallway I came across an intersection.  As soon as I turned into the next hallway he was standing there.  The same Kevin I knew from many years ago.  Yeah sure, he was missing some body parts but he was the same fun loving guy who could give you the strongest hug in the world.  While I was visiting, Kevin was determined to get me hooked on the Walking Dead. We spent most of the time catching up and watching Walking Dead.  Needless to say, I got hooked..  I went home and binge watched the Walking Dead until I got caught up!  I also got my sister addicted to the show!

On March 23, 2013 I went to visit Kevin at Walter Reed again.  This time we went shopping for upcoming family birthday’s, lunch at Chili’s and then a movie. I still cannot remember of the name of the movie to this day!  Actually, let me tell you what I remember about the movies that day… there appeared to be a lack of oxygen in the theater and the heat was cranked up because my palms were sweaty!  Okay, maybe it was because I was so incredibly nervous that I couldn’t breathe!  Do you know that feeling you get when you just know something is about to happen and it is going to change your life? You know that one in the bottom of your gut that is just screaming for you to please listen? That was the feeling and it was overwhelming in the most beautiful way.  From the moment we sat down in the theater something was different.  I remember Kevin was messing around and kept grabbing at my hand (it was the best move he had… have to give him credit though, it worked).  Then one time he grabbed my hand and he didn’t let go.  I sat for the rest of the movie trying to breath quietly!  All I could hear was my own breathing and I thought for sure he could hear me breathing like a cow. After the movie was over, he kissed me.

Everything changed.

When I got into my car to leave Walter Reed the song “Begin Again” by Taylor Swift was on the radio.  This song could not possibly describe my situation more.  It was like I needed to hear it to confirm that I am where I need to be.  As soon as I could I sent a text to a few of my closest friends.  Their reply was… they knew this was going to happen!

I started visiting Kevin at Walter Reed as much as I could.  Over the summer he had surgeries so I was able to stay some of the time since I was off school.  Kevin was at Walter Reed for the first year and a half of dating.  Eventually he was able to come home to visit more. When he couldn’t I went down almost every weekend.  On January 27, 2015 he officially medically retired from the Army.  Now we live in a home that I had purchased before we were dating.  It is a two-story home that is not easily accessible for Kevin.  It is a nightmare of steps! We recently received amazing news from Homes For Our Troops.  They will be building us a home that will be modified to meet Kevin’s needs!  We are so excited to have that extra stress taken off our plate!  Kevin will have the amazing opportunity to live more independently again!

Kevin and I both hit some rough patches from the time we met until the time we reconnected.  Without a doubt we were brought back together for a reason.  I can honestly say I am marrying my best friend.  He knows me at my worst and at my best.  Kevin does not hold my flaws against me, instead he loves me through them all (and when I say “all” I mean millions!).  He knows my past and accepts it all, he just focuses on our future, that is what really matters. We are looking forward to new adventures with getting married (August 1, 2015), having a home built by Homes For Our Troops, and starting our own family.

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