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

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)