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 […]

A Day of Dreams

At one point I could not wait for this day to come.  I was so excited, I put it in my phone, added it to the pregnancy apps, I hoped and I dreamed.  Today is the day our first embryo, had it made it, would have been due.  I was naive, even though I should not have been because I am well aware of what can go very wrong, but I was so full of hope.  I was hopeful that we would get lucky and out first transfer would survive and in mid-June we would have our baby.  I was hoping for the due date to be just a few days earlier in June 24th because I thought it would be amazing for our baby to enter this world on Kevin’s Alive Day.  If you don’t already know, an Alive Day is what we call the day that Kevin was injured in Afghanistan.  It is a day many people refer to when they nearly escaped death, a day of second chances.

When I had my embryo Transfer on October 3rd, we were so excited.  For the first time in my life I was considered “pregnant”.  When you leave you are told you treat yourself just like you know you’re pregnant and to take it easy.  You leave with a picture of the most beautiful embryo.  We went home and all I could do was smile because I knew what was going on inside of me and hopefully that our baby was taking shape.

After the transfer you have two weeks of what I like to call hell.  After the two weeks are over, you go to the office for a pregnancy test.  I cheated and tested beforehand.  Day after day was I getting negatives.  I remember feeling like my world was upside down.  The one thing I wanted more than anything I felt like was slowly getting further out of my grasp.  It was painful.

Then on October 16th… the test.  I did not have a lot of hope left in me by that day.  I cried as the nurse took my blood.  It was so embarrassing but my heart and soul knew that I had lost something.   We went home and we waited for the call.  My poor nurse had to call me with the devastating news.  I was numb and in more pain than I thought a body to could experience emotionally.  Our “embaby” as we called it, did not make it.  That due date that I was dreaming of would come with empty arms.  The pregnancy apps had to be deleted, whiteout had to be taken to my calendar, and I had to go on with life like I felt fine.

I will always wonder, if that embaby would have made it would it have been a boy or girl.  Would they be a lot like what Claire will be like or completely different?  The wondering hurts but sometimes you cannot stop your mind from doing it.

I know others have been through significantly more catastrophic pain than I have experienced.  I don’t mean to share my pain to put a shadow over theirs. I am a firm believer that just because one person experiences more pain from another, does not make the others less painful. I only share it because it is my pain.  It is my pain that has made this pregnancy with Claire terrifying.  I struggled the whole way through it with anxiety and sadness as I fear that for some reason she would be taken from me.  Thoughts run through my head because of my experiences and because of the deep wounds infertility has left on my heart. Although it is terrible advice for anyone, trying again right after a loss is even harder with infertility.  It involves shots, procedures, doctors, and extensive amounts of money that we may not always have and really no sex.  I remember after our first one failing thinking how in the world am I going to do this again, especially the two week wait.

Thankfully we did try again.  I am incredibly thankful that we got another chance and that our Claire will be with us shortly.  A part of me will just always ache and wonder for the first one but I know how blessed we are to have Claire. I promise her the happiest and healthiest life I can provide her and that she will always know love.

Baby Jaye Transfer Day

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!

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

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!