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!

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.

You Are Not Alone: Hope is everywhere

National Infertility Awareness Week 2015

National Infertility Awareness Week 2015

It’s 8:00 am.  You are walking through long, narrow, never ending hallways to the doctor’s appointment.  People are walking by and saying good morning, but you do not notice them.  This appointment has been thought about for years now and it is finally here.  That moment where you know your life is going to change the minute you sit down in the exam room, is finally here.

Your fiance checks in with the receptionist, but you just take a seat.  You wait and inside you feel like you are dying; you cannot breath.  Every breath, you are fighting to take.  Do you know that feeling you get when you are walking down the steps and you miss one?  Your stomach lurches and it takes a second for it go away.  This time that startled, scary feeling does not go away.   You sit… and you wait.  You wonder if the others in the waiting room are feeling the same thing. Maybe they are here for a completely different reason but probably not.  As sad as it is, it is comforting to know you are not alone, that others share your journey.  You pretend that they know what you are going through and share your pain .  Some people are smiling; others have their heads buried in their phones.  Some are talking to their significant other. You try to distract both of you by looking at funny jokes on Pinterest.  Anything you can think of to take away the fear, you try, if just for a moment.  It does not work, you know you cannot fool your brain to feel safe, but you try.  You cannot get rid of that feeling… that terrible falling down the steps feeling.   Finally, they call you both back to the exam room.  You find it hard to believe, but your nerves are rattled even more now.

You cannot escape this moment.  You can not ignore it.  The moment is here and you must face it.

As the nurse takes you to the exam room, you see the doctor is sitting in the room waiting for you both.  This isn’t typical and you know here goes another fall down the stairs.  The first words out of his mouth are, “So how are you feeling?” with a look you recognize as disappointment on his face. You sink deeper into your chair.   You slipped on the never ending staircase again, but this time it feels more like you are not going to make it; you are just going to keep falling.  Your fiance tries to save you by responding that you’re both feeling pretty good.  But the doctor seems surprised.  Why?

The first blow.  Testosterone levels are not where they need to be and they keep getting lower.

The second blow… that family you long for, the one you’ve been dreaming about since you first started playing with baby dolls, is going to be difficult to have.

Low testosterone, low sperm count…  Not just the low sperm count where you have 20,000 sperm (normal is 50 thousand).  The low sperm count where you may have a few hundred but most of them are abnormal.  The type where ICSI is your only option.

Let’s step back about 2.5 years before this appointment.  My fiance, Kevin, was deployed in Afghanistan.  On June 24, 2012, Kevin stepped on an IED.  He was thrown face down into the mud.  When he was rolled over, he knew it was not good.  His right leg was missing below the knee. His left leg was heavily damaged.  Kevin’s pinky was gone and his wrist was severely injured.   And then there was the injury that every man in the military fears, blood in his lap.  Kevin’s one testicle was severely damaged in the blast and had to be removed. His life would never be the same.

Kevin was on testosterone patches for 2.5 years.  This medication works just like birth control for women.  It makes them not produce sperm.  He stopped the medication in the fall of 2014 so we could start testing and figure out our situation.  Test results are consistently saying that IVF/ICSI will be our only way to have children.  I want so badly to look at my children and see my husband in them, his smile, his laugh, and his love for life.

We will be choosing when we become pregnant.  The surprise is gone.  The cute t-shirts, the surprise sonogram picture in a picture frame that says Grandma/Grandpa, might still happen, but the surprise factor is gone.  I am saddened by this the most.  I have always dreamed of the ways I would tell my parents that they are going to be Grandparents.  Now, I know I will not be able to go through this process without their support.  They will know when it happens and we will not get that priceless moment when we tell our parents.   That somewhat exciting and somewhat terrifying moment when you are wondering if you are pregnant or not will be different for us.  A doctor will tell us; we won’t get to find out the happy or heartbreaking news in the comfort of our home.

I have an amazing support system in my family and friends.  They will be there for me during this process.  However, it is still a lonely process.  They do not know what it will be like.  They can give me some advice but it is not from experience.  Sometimes you just want to know you are going to survive it and when you see someone else survive, you have hope.  Hope is what I will cling to!

One out of eight couples experience infertility issues.  We are 1 out of 8, us, the people you grew up with, the people you used to go out to the bar with, the son, the teacher, the soldier, the mid-twenty year old, the friend, the sister, the neighbor, the daughter, the brother… it is us. We are 1 in 8. We are not some distance person that you may never meet, we are all around you, we may be you.

Kevin and I decided to be open about our journey with infertility so that others do not have to feel alone.  Our infertility is a result of a war injury. We started a support page for families who are impacted by war related infertility (join if this is you, Families Impacted by War Related Infertility).  Currently, the VA and Tricare, for retired veterans, will not cover the cost of IVF, even if it is the result of war related injury.  There are thousands of couples in the same situations as us.  We have already had people post on our Facebook support page that they had no idea that other people were dealing with this.  They thought they were alone and that breaks my heart.  No one should ever feel alone, especially when thousands of people are going through the exact same thing.  I know it is embarrassing and feels very personal.  But, the more we share our heartbreaking stories, the more comfortable people will be talking about it themselves.  The more that people talk about it, the more interested doctors, lawyers, politicians and the public become interested in helping and figuring out why this is happening to so many people.

Kevin and I are just starting our journey with IVF.  We have tests to complete before we do the actual embryo transfer.  This week, I have the mock trial embryo transfer.  It is going to be a long and painful process, but we are in this together.  We have hope, we will survive, just as the thousands of other couples do.

Please do not be embarrassed or ashamed if you are dealing with infertility.  Reach out to your family, friends, online communities, support groups, etc.  As scared as I was to first share our story fearing people would judge us, I am so incredibly thankful I did share.  I started thinking about it like this; I should not feel embarrassed or ashamed, the only people who should would be those who judge someone in this situation.  Once you share your story, you hold your head high, because little do you know, you will impact someone; you will make a difference.  I know that it has helped me to read others story, whether they are sad or happy, because either way it helps me relate and know that I will get through this.

You do not have to be alone, there is hope and there is support.  Let’s get through this journey together!  We are 1 out of 8 amazing couples, with incredible strength and courage, who will do anything to make their dreams come true!

Please feel free to share this post and help spread the word!

If you would like to find more information about National Infertility Awareness Week please check out these links from RESOLVE:

http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/what-is-infertility/  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)