Brace For Impact

You are driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour.  Everything is fine until someone, who thinks their life is more important, cuts you off.  Every muscle in your body tenses, you clench your jaw, you may even grab what my Husband calls the “oh shit bar” on your ceiling.  You prepare for the worst while praying for the best.  You brace for impact.

That is the best possible way I can explain the two-week wait.  You prepare for the worst and pray for the best.  You brace yourself for impact.  A negative beta feels much like you just ran your car into a brick wall.  However, somehow you survive.

On Friday, Kevin and I drove to our doctor’s office in Frederick to have blood taken.  I did not want to deal with this.  I still do not know if it was  gut feeling or an overreaction but I knew I was not getting a positive beta.  I felt like a complete idiot for going to get my blood taken.  I knew I needed to because I knew there was a chance I was wrong.  I cried while they drew my blood. I could not control it; the hormones change every reaction you want to have.  The woman who was taking my blood was the sweetest person.  She tried to console me, she told me “we are here for you”.  I believe that; I believe that my clinic is there for us.  They have all been rooting for us since the beginning.  They say “it takes a village to raise a child”.  I feel like our child already has its village. Our village is made up of our medical team, our families, our friends, and the community of people cheering for us.  We are thankful for every single person in that village.

Later in the day, my nurse called to give me the confirmed news.  Our test was negative, for whatever reason our embryo did not make it.  A perfect graded embryo did not make it.  No one knows the reason it did not make it.  This is just a part of life, a painful part, but a part.  That embryo knew what it is what going to be from the beginning.  We will never know and it breaks my heart.  My doctor called us later to see how we were doing and talk about some details. He told us that this is something that just happens sometimes, even with a perfectly grade embryo.  He shared that sometimes there is a genetic issue, sometimes it just does not attach, and sometimes there is no good reason.  We will never know the exact reason and that is okay.  We know we did everything we could have and knowing would not change the pain we feel.

Now, I have stopped all medications that kept my lining intact.  So soon I will lose everything that was supposed to be our baby.  It will be painful and I cannot wait for it to just be over.  Our next steps will be a frozen embryo transfer when my body is ready.  This will require more shots but it will not be as stressful on the body as the stimulating shots.

Kevin and I will fight through whatever we have to go through to have our baby.  We are sad right now but we will be okay.  We are still hopeful that our baby will be in our arms someday soon.   We have hope that our next cycle will bring us success.  For now, we have full faith in our medical team and God to get us the family that we always wanted.

Thank you to everyone who kept us in your thoughts and prayers.  My heart broke to have to share the news with everyone because I knew it would bring sadness.  We will never forget this, but we will make it through this.  Kevin and I are fighters, we will fight as hard as we have to.

For today, squeeze your babies (young and old) a little tighter. Let them know how much you love them; because every baby is truly a miracle!

Brace for

The Two Week Wait – Day 5

Today is day 5 post transfer of a 5 day blastocyst. By today our embryo should be completely implanted. If it is not implanted there is little to no chance of a continued pregnancy. What I would give to have a microscope to tell me what is going on in there! Has it hatched all the way; has it implanted? Whatever has happened by today will directly reflect the news we hear next week.

Everyday after the retrieval, we received a phone call that told us how our embryos were doing. They were watched and monitored. One of the highest graded one was chosen for the transfer. It was beginning to hatch out of its shell; which is gave us so much hope. I just wish I could get a phone call to tell me, “hey, I am still growing in here.” Just something to get me through the next week and a half. I have been experiencing twinges of pain in my lower abdomen. Could that be implantation? Sure, it could be. It could also be residual pain from the egg retrieval and some very pissed off ovaries. I am experiencing many symptoms that anyone would when they are pregnant. However, I have no idea if it is the pregnancy or the medications. At this point, it is most likely the medications.  It is a cruel mind game at the most pivotal moment of your life.

 I am consumed.
When we started our journey towards figuring out how we would have a family; I learned about the two-week wait. I thought it would be difficult just from reading about it. Now that I am experiencing it, difficult does not even define it. It consumes you. You wonder all day long; am I or am I not pregnant? How are things going in there, in my own body?  I spent day after day watching my follicles grow at my daily appointments during stims. I saw progress everyday. I was proud of my body for stepping up the stress I was putting it under and providing us with what we needed.  Now, I do not know what my body is doing. I just hope it is being nice to our embryo. I hope it is providing a safe and nurturing home.

Kevin and I have been through a lot in our lives and the past couple of months while planning and implementing this has been just as trying.  Our dreams have always been to have children.  We have a 1% chance of conceiving on our own.  While IVF does not guarantee a live birth, it does significantly increase our odds.  This process is everything to us.  It is our lives; it is our future.  So much planning, money, time, energy, and my own body has gone into make our dreams come true.  This process has been everything but easy. However, it is something we would do over and over again to bring our child into this world.

So today is day 5 post transfer. In the infertility world it is often written as 5dp5dt; meaning, 5 days post a 5 day transfer.  This means our embryo grew in the lab for 5 days and now it has been 5 days since it was transferred back into me. Today is a big day because it should be implanted today and if not, it probably will not happen.  We still have over a week to go until we are able to find out if this actually happened.  We are trying to stay busy.  Last night I went to Paint Nite with some friends; that significantly helped a pretty rough day emotionally end on a good note.  Now to continue to find things to keep my mind busy, my heart happy, and things to laugh about each day!

Please say some extra prayers today that everything is doing what we need it to!  Pray for implantation to be complete!  I bet you never thought that would be something you would read or pray for, I know I did not! Please know how much we appreciate it!

To our Embaby: We hope you are warm, safe, nurtured, and most of all we hope you know how much you are wanted and loved.  Please stick! Love, Your overprotective, worry wort of a Mother and your unconditionally loving Father.

This is my painting from Paint Nite last night! A little heart in the middle for the baby we hope to know soon!

This is my painting from Paint Nite last night! A little heart in the middle for the baby we hope to know soon!

Transfer Day! Officially PUPO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

Emotions are high, hopes are higher!

Yesterday was our first appointment with Shady Grove Fertility.   I spent hours researching infertility and some options we may or may not have.  I thought that would help me prepare for everything the doctor was going to say.  It didn’t.  I wasn’t prepared.  I felt like a deer in headlights.  I have no idea what all of the acronyms they throw out mean and I found myself frustrated.  We had to fill out a ton of paper work after the appointment.  It was like purchasing a house… with much tougher questions.  First, we had to decide if we would want our remaining embryos frozen after our first transfer.  Sure…  I think.

Then, there was this question…

“What do you want us to do with you embryos if something happens to two both of you?”

WHAT? I didn’t prepare for that question. It actually never crossed my mind that it would even be asked.   We will have frozen embryos just waiting for us to use them.  If one of us passes away, the embryos’ still belong to the living person.   This just makes me feel weird; I am making plans for my children before they are even conceived.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  I am trying to understand that it is okay to do this.  I am thanking God for giving us such brilliant people who will make it possible for us to have a family.

Then the question, “if you do not want them anymore can we do research on them or if they die what do you want us to do them the remaining tissue?”  Um… okay, it will help other people out right?

Who has to make decisions like this?  Why do we have to?  Why can’t we be like other people who can get pregnant naturally? If he wasn’t injured, this wouldn’t have been an issue.  I hate these questions and I feel bad for feeling them but… I feel them.  Kevin does not deserve to feel like this is his fault, because it is not his fault in the least bit.  I’m very much in love with him and I wouldn’t change a thing.  I know he feels guilty sometimes, but he shouldn’t.  If all of these things didn’t happen, I’m not sure that we would have been brought together.  So I will take the good, the bad, and the ugly because I found true honest love.

Then I think about all the exciting parts of the beginning of a pregnancy and it makes me a little bit sad.  Announcing to your husband that you are pregnant and the excited look on his face, what beats that (besides obviously his face when our child is brought into this world…man I cannot wait for that moment)?  Telling your parents that they are going to be Grandparents, telling your siblings they will be Aunts and Uncles, has to be an amazing feeling.  We won’t get that, people will know we are trying to get pregnant because I will be giving myself shots and going to never-ending doctor’s appointments.  It doesn’t seem like something that will be easy to hide from everyone.  There will be no surprise.   I feel like during the two-week wait I am going to be stared at day after day, everyone will be waiting to see if it worked.  Then we will sit in a doctor’s office and they will tell us if it did work.  If it didn’t work, what do I say? What do I do?  If it did work, it would change everything for us.  More than likely, it will work and all will go well.  I’m trying to stay out of the world of “what ifs”, that world is terrifying and a waste of my time, but sometimes we all visit that evil world.

I know this will get easier to understand and deal with over time.  I’m so thankful that we decided to look into this now; so we have plenty of time to get comfortable and knowledgeable before the actual IVF procedure starts.  It is just hard right now.  Sitting in the doctor’s appointment, hearing things I did not understand, and thinking how I am going to get all of this straight is very overwhelming.  I’ll be okay, we will be okay, and our future children will be okay; I just need to work through the confusion.

I’m excited to start thinking about the real possibility of Kevin and I having a family.  I know he will make an amazing Dad.  I cannot wait to look at them and hopefully see his smile, eyes, and overall love for life in them.  I don’t mean to sound “woe is me” about this subject, nor do I want pity.  I know thousands of people go through this all of the time.  Just right now, in this moment, I am tired, confused, frustrated, excited, and scared.  Most of all, I am thankful, so incredibly thankful, for doctors, nurses, science, and God for giving us the opportunity to raise a family of our own.  Kevin and I are strong, we fought through everything that was supposed to bring us down.  I know we will get through this too.  I just cannot wait for the day when I can spill off all the information about this process without being confused or mixing up terms, or trying to figure out when I am supposed to take what test and where.  It is a whole new world to us, I’m embracing it with open arms, and with a side of anxiety.

Every season brings new beginnings and new life.

Every season brings new beginnings and new life.

The Next Step – War Related Infertility vs. Us

We started a support group on Facebook for families who are going through similar situations.  It is called Families Impacted by War Related Infertility.  We started the page that way we could all share what we know and experience to make it a little easier on others! This page is just for families in this situation, so they can feel safe to share their stories.

Recently, the VA called and wanted to set up a consult to discuss infertility.  We got the call the same day Kevin met with a Congressman, strange.  We have no idea what it is really about.  The law states that the VA does not pay for IVF, so we are not too optimistic with the VA covering it.  It may just be they want to look at his hormone levels. We already know they are very low, not sure how he has functioned this long like this but who knows… We will of course, update people once we know more about the VA’s appointment.

Tomorrow we have a consult with Shady Grove.  They are supposed to be one of the best in the country.   I cannot wait to hear what they have to say.  It feels strange to be excited about having an appointment with an RE doctor.  But, it means we are going somewhere, we have options, we have hope, we have a chance.  That is pretty exciting!  At the same time I am nervous, hormone levels are not where they need to be.  His levels were drastically low the last time we went to the doctor.  The doctor felt that he should have already been feeling bad, but he wasn’t.  Now, several months later, we are facing it or so it seems.  The medicine they give men for hormones kills off sperm.  Typically it will come back after the medicine is stopped, but what if it doesn’t?   Then what? I am terrified that our clock is ticking to have our own children.

I research this topic constantly; it is almost like my second job at this point.  It is so important to me, having a family with Kevin means everything.  I feel like the more educated I am about this process, the higher our chances will be to finding the right path for us.  As a society, we are quiet and secretive about these issues.  I do not have a problem talking about these personal issues to the world; I can be someone else’s voice if they need me to.  These men and women fighting for our country; they should never wonder how they will be able to achieve their dreams of having a family.  We are still being told that since Kevin is retired, IVF treatments will not be covered no matter the reason.  I’ve found opportunities to discuss this issue with others in similar situations; I think together we can get this changed.

I just cannot wait to have answers to all the thousands of questions in my head!  I’m glad that we started this journey before we got married because we will have a solid plan by August when we are ready to start our family.  We are SO ready for this (so are our families!).

If you know anyone in the same or similar situation, please have them like the Facebook page!  Getting the word out will definitely help! It also just helps to have support.  I haven’t started fertility treatments, I haven’t had my heart-broken after treatment, I do not know what it is like yet, nor will I pretend to.  I do know what it is like to sit in a waiting room, feeling like I am literally going to die while waiting for test results, I do know what it is like to be terrified that you will not get our family easily, I do know what it is like to worry and cry over your future family and wonder if it will in fact exist one day.  That is what I know so far in this journey.  One day soon, I will know more and I know the support would help me.  Sometimes, just having someone in the same situation to talk to is all a person needs. I hate for anyone to ever feel alone!  Some people have already mentioned on the support page that they had no idea other people were going through similar things.  It shouldn’t be that way; no one should ever have to feel alone, especially because they are not.  This is a very personal and private issue for many, for me, it is the opportunity to bring people together and support others in similar situations.

With every turbulent storm, comes peace.

With every turbulent storm, comes peace.