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 […]

Do I have to love this new body?

Truth is, I don’t like the body I have right now.  I am miserable with it 90% of the time.  Right after I had Claire, I dropped a lot of weight very quickly.  I felt amazing, not to mention there was no longer a baby putting pressure in 1000 places too.  I’ve kept most of the weight off, but my clothes have never fit since having her. I am almost at pre-pregnancy weight but my body is different now. I’ve squeezed myself into a few pairs of jeans, but the lack of oxygen was not pleasant.  I wear mostly leggings because I refuse to buy bigger pants.  Then there is the skin changes.  The stomach that was covered in pin pricks and bruises from all of the shots to get pregnant is now a target made of stretch marks.  I made it most of the pregnancy with out them.  Then towards the end my hips and stomach got covered in them.   I used the creams and everything I could have done, it does not matter.  If you’re going to get them; you’re going to get them.  Then there is the beautiful scar from where my daughter was born.  I actually love my scar, it does not make me sad.  It is proof that I went through something tough and in exchange I have the most beautiful gift, my daughter.

I analyze every picture taken of me to see just how “big” I am and how much work I still have to do.  I take forever to get ready in the morning because I try so hard to dress nice but nothing satisfies me.  I take out so many tops and my bed is scattered in them.  Then finally, something makes the cut, but I still do not feel good about it.  Sometimes, tears flow because I do not feel confident with who I am. Sometimes I just get flat out mad that I am not thinner.  It is so hard to feel confident.  I constantly feel like I did pregnancy or life in general wrong.  Some people shed the weight and get their body back quickly, others don’t even if they follow a similar lifestyle.  I honestly never knew how self-conscious I was until I got pregnant.  I worried over every single pound because my doctors brought it up every single time and made me feel that I was not taking care of myself.  I worked hard to get pregnant, there was not a chance I was not going to give the baby growing inside of me the best I could.  But, I still always felt like I was failing her.  I’ve felt like a total let down to my daughter and husband because I do not always feel pretty enough.  My husband is amazing, he has to be one of a kind.  He does everything to make me feel beautiful.  It is a battle in my own mind that has nothing to do with how he treats me.  He is so kind to me when I am struggling with myself and it makes a world of different for me.  He always talks me up and makes me feel like I am worth loving.

The point of sharing this is I read awhile back something in regards to helping your daughter build self confidence.  It said something about how your daughter watches and hears how to treat yourself.  I keep playing that in my head now.  “Claire is watching and she is listening.”  She may only be 4 months, but that does not give me much time to get my act together before she really understands what I say to myself.  My heart would break in a million pieces if I saw Claire looking in a mirror assessing herself to determine if she was worthy enough to step out into the world that day ..  I do not want that to cross her mind. It might one day, but I want her to have enough confidence to brush it off and be herself, the beautiful soul that she is.  I want to show her how to love who you are.  I know if I want her to understand that love, I have to model it.  I cannot tell her one thing and then do another.  I have to figure out how to love this body and to feel confident in it.  I am working out again to hopefully help me make it to the goal of getting into my pre-pregnancy jeans and will hopefully teach her how to keep her body healthy.  I am trying to watch what I vocalize while trying to change what is said in my head too, which I think is probably the most powerful thing I can do.

The changes to my body brought me my daughter, I could never express how thankful I am for that.  Every single thing that has happened is completely worth it all.  I’d stay like this forever if I had to, but I do not have to.  I can exercise, I can eat right and I can figure out how to love who I am so that my daughter never second guesses herself.  Okay…she is going to second guess herself because who doesn’t, but hopefully she will remember how I treat myself and adjust her thoughts about herself. I may never be “skinny” or lose these stretch marks, but I think if I can change how I feel about myself I win either way.  So the answer to my question is “yes, I do have to love this new body.”  It is mine, it is flawed (in some eyes) but it has carried life and nothing is more beautiful than that.  So the battle starts, to change my thinking and to push myself to be a healthier person inside and out.

wild

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!

FET = Success!

On November 25, 2015, the day before Thanksgiving, we transferred one of our frozen embryos.

The Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), is a very different experience compared to the fresh cycle.  The FET involved very little trips to the doctor when compared to the fresh cycle where I went everyday to be monitored.  Before the transfer, I started injections to prepare my body.  These injections are different from the ones I did for a fresh transfer.  They are fun intramuscular ones that go in your backside.  Kevin has become my drug administrator since it is just easier that way for this type of injection.  These injections continued until I was 10 weeks pregnant! Needless to say, I am over my fear of needles!

After the transfer I had picked two days to test, Day 5 and Day 9.  During my last cycle I was completely taken over by the need to test.  I was constantly getting negatives. It completely impacted my mood and general ability to function during those two weeks.  This time, even though my anxiety was pretty elevated, I decided to try and stick to just two days.  On November 30, 2015 I got up early to take my first test.  I was barely awake and was absolutely expecting nothing to show up.  I looked away from the test for a few minutes and when I looked back a faint double line was showing.  I blinked a gazillion times to make sure my mind was not making it up!

I was not making it up.  The lines were there!  I continued to test every couple of days to make sure the line got darker!  It did!

The the dreaded, but very anticipated Beta day!  I was in a much better mood than the last time I went for Beta testing, but still nervous!  Later that day, I got the call.  We are pregnant!  I’ve never heard those words before.  I’ve dreamed about them, but never has someone actually said them to me!

I had to continue with another Beta testing to make sure the hormones were continuing to grow as they should.  Everything was going very well!

At exactly six weeks pregnant, we saw our baby for the first time! Then we saw he/she again at 7 and 8 weeks.  At 8 weeks I was released to the OB.  It was difficult to leave Shady Grove.  I trust them.  I’ve been through some of the most difficult times of my life with them.

We announced our pregnancy to the world at Christmas.  In the world of some, it may have been “too early.”  But to us, we love that baby no matter what happens, he/she is worth celebrating.

I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately with blogging.  I have some catching up to do with what has been going on with us!  I’ll get to that soon!   I just wanted to share this good news for now! We appreciate all the love and support that has been shown.  Please keep the prayers going for our baby as he/she continues to grow!

The picture below is our baby at 6 weeks! I’m now 14.5 weeks!  baby jaye first picture

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!