Speed bumps

I have not written in quite awhile.  Honestly, I’ve been exhausted and this has not been a priority for me.  However, I do miss writing my thoughts down so I thought I would revisit my blog and give it another go.   After all, I have greatly benefited from others sharing their stories so I like to give back by sharing mine.

Sometimes life gives us a rude awakening.  Right in the middle of “normal” you can find yourself in a situation that you do not even recognize.  You do not recognize the situation or even yourself during these times.  Since having my daughter I have spent a lot of time trying to figure myself out.  In a matter of months, everything I knew about myself changed.  I was a teacher and wife.  Then one day I because a mom.  I am not longer a teacher, a part of me that was a huge part of my identity.  While I am beyond happy to be home with my daughter, I often feel like I am in a bit of an identity crisis.  Adjusting to being a Mom has me trying to figure out who I am all over again.   My daughter is over a year now and feel like I am still trying to adjust to this new life.

Part of working on figuring out who I am, has been working on my anxiety.  Anxiety has been a part of my life for maybe… forever.  I was diagnosed around 10 or 11.   However, I have spent a majority of my life with relatively well-managed anxiety.   When I had my daughter, I struggled a lot with anxiety.  After about 6 months of struggling, I called my OB.  They gave me medication to help.  It did help, I felt really good!  I lost all the baby weight, I was happy, I was able to do a lot more.  Overall, the medicine had helped me get to a more normal state.  However, it caused frequent stomach issues.  I would wake up throughout the night often sick to my stomach.   After several months of hoping my body would grow tolerate of the medicine I decided to call my doctor.  They changed my medicine in hopes it would eliminate the stomach issues while still helping my anxiety.

My stomach stopped hurting.  But I hit a wall and had a pretty nasty reaction to my new medication.

I found it difficult to get out of bed.  I did not feel any emotions.  I felt flat, like life had no highs or lows.  I just felt nothing.  I had frequent unprovoked panic attacks.  For the first time in my life I needed Xanax to help stop panic attacks.  It took me a bit to realize something was wrong.  I put on weight which only further worsened how I feel about myself and caused extra stress.  I became easily frustrated.   I just was not me.  Thankfully my husband and sister recognized that I was not acting like myself.   I avoid going to the doctor as much as I can.  Throughout my pregnancy I felt so bad about myself because of weight gain.  Now that I gained weight from the medicine I felt for sure they would nail me for it.  So I avoided it.  I just wished it all away.  Thankfully, my counselor was able to get me to see a psychologist to take care of my medication.   He has changed my anxiety medication and it has made a world of difference.

I can get in a car and go on a trip with my family without dripping in sweating.  I can function all day without extra medicine.  I feel happy, sad, excited, and most importantly in my world, love.  I feel emotions, something the other medication took from me for awhile.  I feel like I am going to be okay and that I can manage anxiety again.

Bottom line with treating anxiety, it is not a one size fits all treatment.  Not everyone presents the same way and not everyone reacts to treatment the same way. If you struggle with anxiety I encourage you to find what works for you.  For me its a healthy mix of counseling and medication.  Whatever works for you, find it.  As I have found, there can be speed bumps along the way but do not give up on it.  My doctor consistently reminds me that if one medication does not work, there is a list of other ones to try.  He reminds me constantly, I have options.  You have options too.

Accept it…

Accept it…and then challenge it! About 5 months ago I said enough is enough.   I was miserable.     How can you be miserable with a beautiful baby in your arms?  Well… part of it is you keep saying to yourself, “what the hell is wrong with me; I have everything I’ve ever dreamed […]

What is Best

Simply put…breast feeding broke my heart.

During my pregnancy I researched, went to classes, and bought all the”must haves” for breast feeding.  I had big plans that this was going to work out, because why wouldn’t it. While in the hospital I was making colostrum for a few days.  However, by day 4 my daughter stopped making wet and dirty diapers.  A big clue that she was not getting milk from me.  Her weight started to drop a lot too.  She lost a little over a pound.  I knew something was wrong and tried to pump to see if I could get anything out.  I got a drop. As much as it hurt I knew I had to admit she wasn’t getting what she needed and I needed formula.  I started supplementing to ensure she was getting the proper nourishment.  This time of my life was hell on my head and heart.

I couldn’t get my baby out and now I could not feed her.  Talk about feeling unequipped to be a Mother.

My heart was broken.  I planned for this, I wanted to make this work for my daughter.  My love for her is unbelievable and I knew giving her breast milk was doing “what was best for her.”

When I started supplementing I would first start by nursing her.  Then I would feed her a bottle and then pump.  I was spending so much time trying to give her food and make food for her.  It was exhausting physically and emotionally.  As I was nursing her I would bawl because after a little bit she would scream because she was not getting anything. Then I would have to feed her a bottle and I would continue to cry because I felt like such a failure.  And then there was pumping… ugh is all I can say.

I cried a lot!  Sometimes I was crying so hard that I would start to panic.  My husband would take Claire from me as I tried to get myself together.  He had no idea what to say to me, and I had no idea how to stop myself.  On one particular bad day I called my sister bawling telling her , “I can’t feed my baby” and in a pure panic.  I am so lucky to have her as she came over right away to help me figure it out.  Between her and my husband, I survived that incredibly difficult day.  I’ve had more days like it after that, but I made it through. I’m thankful for people to talk to that I can be brutally honest with and not feel judgement. My brain told me terrible things that I was not a good Mom and that maybe Kevin and Claire deserved someone much better than me.  I even had thoughts that because we needed IVF maybe I forced something I wasn’t supposed to be blessed with and that was why my body could not do its job.  As my sister told me, she could not imagine a God that did not want me to be a Mother and I am starting to believe that too. I’m starting to believe that all of this is completely unrelated and we just have a different story. I always wanted to live, I just wanted someone else to take care of them because I felt like I could not give them the best. One night I wanted to run, run anywhere, so badly to just get the sheer panic and adrenaline out of my body.  I didn’t because running surely equals instant heart attack! Instead,  I cried and cried while trying to feed my baby.  My body has failed me in so many ways I felt.. as I forget that my body gave me the most amazing gift…my daughter.

This isn’t a way for anyone to live.  I want to enjoy this time with my baby.  I want my daughter to see a smile on my face as I feed her.  I don’t want my stress to make her life feel stressful.  I want to be be physically and emotionally present.

So I quit breastfeeding and I held my baby.

I fed her formula and she was okay and still is.  I looked at her and smiled as she was eating, I talked to her, I held her close and kissed her head.  I enjoyed my time with her.  I didn’t worry if she was getting enough because I could see that she was.  I didn’t spend time after nursing her and bottle feeding, with a pump attached me just so I could get half an ounce after 20 minutes of it.  Instead, I held my baby longer.  I smiled longer and  felt like a Mom who had it somewhat together.

I still feel so much pain that this did not go the way I had planned.  I wanted to give her the absolute best.  I know she will be fine with formula but I wanted better than that for her.  I was willing to give breastfeeding everything it takes but my body did not let me.  I took every supplement, power pumped, nursed, used an SNS, met with lactation, etc and it still did not work out. I never really felt my milk come in.  The only reason I knew I had some was because I was pumping but I only ever get about half an ounce total.  Even now that I haven’t nursed or pumped in two days, I feel nothing. The only thing I was not willing to do was take prescription medication because the side effects include extreme depression, something I was already slightly suffering from.  My baby needs me present emotionally more than she needs breast milk.

I gave breastfeeding 4 full weeks before deciding this was not something that was going to happen for us.  During those 4 weeks I never saw a change in my milk production no matter what I tried.  Some say it could have been because the extreme amount of fluid my body had taken on, the c-section, a long induction, etc.  In other words…no one knows why it did not work out.  I guess it does not really matter.  I gave it everything I had, I worked really hard at it and now it is time for that to be in my past.  Hopefully the sadness will continue to become less and less and I will spend more time holding and smiling with my baby.  I know that I am not failing her, I am giving her everything I possibly can.  It has been a difficult journey trying to adjust to motherhood, the loss of career (at least for now), and that nothing went even remotely as planned.  My lactation lady said they really should have a support group for people who have unplanned c-sections because that in itself is difficult to deal with when you’ve planned something different.  Someday I will fully accept that the things that went “wrong” were just not supposed to be apart of our journey.  Until then I will keep trying and keep smiling because the greatest thing I’ve ever done has name and it is Claire.

I’m not sharing this sob story for sympathy or because I need advice… I am sharing to get it off my chest and so that if someone else feels this way they know they are not alone and you will survive it.  In the end all that matters is you were there…a healthy and happy Mom who feeds her baby is what is best. 065_Claire.jpg

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!



Click here to let your voice be heard!

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!

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!