A Toddler and a Transfer

Who could capture 18 months of motherhood in a blog entry? Not I, says the old grey fox. I will not even try to capture it all, but hopefully I can type some highlights for posterity.

Our sweet little dude is 18 months old. We’ve been watching all the milestones pass with great joy and so much love, it’s just crazy. First steps, then walking, then running and throwing balls around the house. Babbling, then shrieking, laughing, and little tiny bits of words. He currently says “mama”, “dada”, “ball”, “night night” and “nana” (banana) with regularity. He imitates more than a few different animal sounds, and he understands EVERYTHING we say. Loves playing patty-cake and trying to do the hand motions with itsy bitsy spider.

We’ve had no major health challenges to date, except for a 2-day stay in the hospital in March 2018 when little bub was diagnosed with asthma. For our relative good health, I am very grateful.

We’ve recently made the (very difficult and much discussed) decision to transfer our one remaining frozen embryo and see what happens. Initially, we decided we were happy with our one baby (of course!) and since hubby isn’t getting any younger, we thought perhaps the best option would be not doing a transfer. If one decides not to transfer a frozen embryo, the options are: (a) donate to another couple, (b) donate to science, or (c) thaw and discard. Neither of us were comfortable with the first option, and I tried for months to decide which of the two latter options seemed like the right choice. In the end, I felt I could not live with a decision other than transferring the final embryo, so I brought this dilemma to hubby and he agreed that we could give it a go.

So we are here in July (almost August) of 2018 and we are rolling the dice. Prepping for the frozen transfer has been strange – I almost forgot the feeling of walking through those doors in the fertility center. Sitting in the waiting area, I felt like an imposter. I wondered how many times I had sat in the same waiting area next to other women who I assumed were childless like myself at the time, but who were mothers, as I am today.

We meet with the doctor later this week to take care of finances, paperwork, and receive our schedule for the frozen transfer. There will be injections, a practice transfer, and then the transfer itself.

In all of this, I am trying to trust that we are doing the right thing in God’s eyes, whatever that may be. For me, in this very personal decision of my heart, I am honestly not sure what the best choice for our family could be (another child, or not another child) but fortunately, that part is up to God alone. The only thing that I know for certain is that the remaining frozen embryo deserves a chance at becoming a new life. It’s funny, I was initially very disappointed that we only had one frozen embryo – only one more chance for a baby! Today, I am grateful that it’s only one and I do not have to decide the fate of several more frozen potential lives. We will transfer the one and let God do the deciding.

Much love to all the parents out there – making decisions for our current and future families is not easy. Wishing you peace in your decision-making today. Xo.

 

 

The Baby That Almost Wasn’t

This is my life now. I am a mother now. I am the mother of a one year old boy. I still have to repeat these truths to myself. It’s still surreal.

I don’t know if anyone can truly be prepared for parenthood, but for the infertile mother-to-be, parenthood becomes something that applies to someone else. Not me. I was one embryo transfer away from our last chance. We were almost at the end of the road.

My story of infertility and IVF was not as long or as harrowing as some that I’ve heard, but it was long enough that I had to come to terms with the idea that I might never have a biological child. Having accepted the fact that it might not happen for me, and THEN for the first time, hearing the words “your pregnancy test was positive”….. Surreal doesn’t even begin to touch the way I felt. Pregnancy was surreal. Labor and delivery was surreal. Motherhood is surreal.

As I’m sweeping toddler crumbs off the kitchen floor, I come across a stray race car under the table. All of a sudden, I’m remembering January 2016. Two short years ago, before the last embryo transfer, my poor soul was so tired. We had been through two long years of TTC, six failed IUIs, one cycle of IVF, and we were getting ready to start the second, and final cycle. The first cycle had been a major disappointment, and I was terrified that the second cycle would be the same.

That little race car under the table belongs to The Baby That Almost Wasn’t. My sweet son. So much went into the creation of that little boy — thousands upon thousands of dollars, many dozens of shots and pills, many tears and sleepless nights. My husband and I just hanging on to each other and hoping that everything we were going through would be worth all the heartache. We are one of the lucky couples who can say yes, we went through all of this and here is our son.

Ultimately, the creation of our son was completely OUT of our control. We could spend the money, inject the drugs, transfer the embryos, but the success or non-success of those embryo transfers was maddeningly NOT dependent on anything we could influence.

Sometimes our human world makes no sense whatsoever. I read a news story today about a couple who had 13 children. They kept their children tortured, chained up, dirty, and malnourished in their California home for years, until one of them escaped and called the police. The acts committed in that home against those children were atrocious. Thirteen children. And yet, there are so many loving, wonderful couples struggling with infertility or secondary infertility, who would give anything to welcome a child into their home.

My heart goes out tonight to the people whose worlds are just not right, for whatever reason. There is so much joy in this human life, and there is so much suffering. Darkness and light. If you’ve made it this far – I am holding you in the light tonight. Xo.

 

It’s a 5 month old boy!

So my last post was written in the Fall of 2016 when I was still pregnant. Serious blog slacker here.

It’s now June 2017 and our baby boy just turned 5 months old. To say these have been the best five months of my life would be an understatement. Being a mother is… amazing, challenging, sleep-deprived joy.

I worked up until the day before I went into labor…. actually was getting ready for work when the contractions got too strong and I had to text my supervisor to say I wasn’t coming in! The contractions came hard and fast and within an hour, we were leaving for the hospital. We checked in at triage and I was already 7-8 cm dilated. We moved up to L&D and I was laboring for a bit with no pain meds, trying to see if I could hold out for a drug-free birth. In the end, I opted for an epidural. Baby Boy was born that afternoon.

We came home from the hospital with our two-day-old baby, and began our journey of getting to know this little person! We’re blessed with a super chill, calm, and happy little guy who is a true joy to be around. There have been a few challenges, namely a pretty traumatic lip/tongue tie revision, and some breastfeeding issues. We are currently going dairy free and soy free to see if that will help baby’s digestive system. He is showing symptoms which point to a possible milk protein allergy/intolerance.

Getting to this point was worth every shot, every pill, every late night prayer, every anxiety-filled moment of pregnancy, and every labor pain. When Baby Boy smiles, and laughs, I am reminded of what’s really important in my life. Xo.

Checking In

Funny thing about writing only every few months….I have more to write about because lots of stuff happens!

-Tomorrow will be the 33-week mark of my first pregnancy after our journey through fertility treatments. It is still surreal, even though the days are slipping away and our due date will be here before we know it. (January 1st)

-We’ve been spoiled with 3 baby showers: 1 given by my MIL, 1 by my co-workers, and 1 by my mom and sister. The joy and excitement of our friends and family, along with seeing all the tiny baby things, has helped to make the pregnancy seem slightly more real to me. I’m definitely looking forward to the next couple weeks, as we’re planning to get the nursery put together, and I know that will help too.

-So Trump’s going to be our next president. Seriously? Man oh man, have I struggled with this one. All I can say right now is that trying to find love in my heart for people who voted for Trump has been the only source of comfort I’ve found. By keeping them human, by trying to understand them and their point of view, by listening to reasons why they voted for Trump (instead of hating them and branding them all racist, misogynist pigs, as I previously did), I have been able to reach some level of understanding and peace of mind. I fear for the future, but I have not completely lost hope.

-We went to settlement of our home on September 30th. It’s the first house that hubby and I have purchased together. We moved in the following weekend. It’s been really challenging and really wonderful, all at the same time.

Hope everyone else is doing okay in the wake of the election, etc – it’s been a long, emotional week. Regardless of what “side” you were on, seeing the post-election nonsense is disheartening. I hope people can pull together soon.

To those of you in the trenches of infertility – you are not alone and I wish you lots of strength and courage through the upcoming holidays.

To those of you pregnant after infertility and/or loss – my heart goes out to you. Wishing for happy, healthy pregnancies and happy, healthy babies.

To the new mamas – much love and sleep! I’ll be joining you quite soon. I don’t feel ready, but then who can ever be ready for something so profoundly life-altering? Thank you for leading the way, paving the path, putting out your hand to other new mamas who are anxious and questioning.

Not sure when I’ll write again, but if you’ve made it down this far, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Holidays as they apply to you, and a Joyous New Year! 2016 has been an odd one, and I’ve no doubt that 2017 will continue in a whirlwind of changes, challenges, and joys.

A Full Summer

Wow…just checked my page and realized it’s been 3 months since I’ve posted anything. It’s been a full and busy summer.

Highlights:

-Blessed with a positive pregnancy test in April after 6 IUIs and 3 IVF embryo transfers (the 3rd embryo transfer decided to stick around). I’m now 21 weeks and 3 days into the pregnancy. Due date is January 1st. We’ve had our anatomy scan and all is well with baby. I can feel baby kicking and I have a little bump. It still feels very surreal, watching my body change, and thinking about how many times I wondered if that would ever happen for me.

-We’ve had a few awesome weekend trips this summer, to include: a spiritual retreat in June, a family reunion in Pittsburgh in July, and a trip to visit friends in Wisconsin earlier this month. We’ve got one more trip planned in Ocean City, MD to celebrate our 4-year wedding anniversary.

-We’re in the process of buying a house! Just as with the journey of infertility, the journey of home-buying has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Each time I thought it was the end or we were not going to be able to fulfill this desire any time soon, something would change and move us along the path. If all goes well, we go to settlement at the end of September.

It feels a bit odd to post anything at all on this blog. I hadn’t realized how much for me, the blog was really about the journey of infertility. Having read the stories of so many other women struggling, I can’t really bring myself to post lots of pregnancy updates and gush about nursery furniture here. It doesn’t seem an appropriate place.

I haven’t done much to chronicle the pregnancy, also partly because I’m still quietly terrified that it won’t work out in the end and lead us to a healthy, live birth. We’ve passed the halfway point, so that’s reassuring, but it’s not like you’re ever really “in the clear”. Maybe I ought to find some other women who are pregnant after infertility, so I won’t feel as alone in my anxiety. Overall, it’s not so bad, but when I focus on it, as I’m doing now in order to write about it, it seems worse.

My thoughts are always with other women: women who long for motherhood, women who’ve experienced losses, new moms who are struggling. It’s impossible to predict how this journey will go for any of us as individuals, but the only thing I know is we aren’t walking alone. Sending love and light to each of you, wherever you are in your journey.

Quiet Time

Have not felt much like writing lately, although a fair bit has been going on. I’m nearly 8 weeks into my first pregnancy! Most of the time I can hardly believe it.

We have friends who have had pregnancy losses, and one thing they mentioned was that it was difficult to have an early loss when no one knew about the pregnancy, because they were grieving alone. Basically everyone we know already knew we were going through IVF, so we had people asking each cycle if things were successful yet. For those two reasons, we decided to go ahead and tell most people right away when we found out I was pregnant. We haven’t announced it on Facebook or anything, but most of our family members and close friends have been told. Some people were surprised that we shared the news so early, but with so many friends and family members following and supporting our journey, it felt dishonest not to share the success once we found out!

We received the positive pregnancy test on April 28. The first sonogram was May 11, which was 6 weeks, 3 days. We saw the tiny fluttering heartbeat, heart rate 97. I have my first appointment with the OB on Monday May 23, and our second sonogram with the fertility clinic scheduled May 26.

When we shared the news with part of my family, we found out that my cousin and his wife had been planning to share THEIR pregnancy news the exact same day, except they lost the pregnancy the week prior. Of course, I did not know, otherwise I’d have never shared our news on that day. I felt just terrible for them. After all this time struggling with infertility and feeling the bittersweet jealousy and pain that came with other couples’ pregnancy announcements, it felt awful to think that I was the cause of someone else’s pain, so fresh after their pregnancy loss.

Stupidly, after I found out about her pregnancy loss, I started googling miscarriage rates by week, and found a chart outlining miscarriage rates by week and heart rate. I found a chart that said that at the gestational age of my first sonogram, and the heart rate that they measured, the rate of miscarriage was 100%. I felt like someone had punched me. I spent the next two days absolutely physically sick from anxiety.

As the week went on, I started feeling a little bit calmer and better. I know that anxiety and fear are not from God, and when I feel that way, I’m not trusting Him. It’s still difficult, and I hear that for women who have trouble conceiving, it’s common to have anxiety that something will happen to the pregnancy. That’s definitely the case for me, and I’m very much looking forward to my OB appointment on Monday so that I can find out how things are going.

It’s hard to be Zen, peaceful and accepting, and let go of anxiety, when all I truly feel is a desperate hope that things will turn out the way I want them to.

My Pre-BFP Revelation

One of the reasons why I started writing this blog was because I wanted to write about infertility while I was still in the thick of it. It seemed to me that many women shared their experiences with infertility AFTER they had had a child, in this sort of “keep going, it’s all worth it” sort of way. Which is great — it’s inspirational and their stories are important. But while I was still suffering, I really felt like I needed to hear from women who (like me) had not yet been successful. Women who were still in the trenches of infertility, wondering if they would ever succeed, if they would ever have someone call them “mommy”. I decided that I was going to write through the pain, instead of waiting until I felt like I had my shit together. That day might never come anyway! Ha.

When we embarked on the journey of IVF, we had already tried to conceive naturally for one year, and we had had six unsuccessful IUI procedures. IVF was the last stop. We weighed our options financially and emotionally, and decided to go for two full  cycles of IVF. Our doctor told us that with my age (30 at the time), we could expect great numbers of embryos with each cycle. We figured we’d probably get pregnant with the first cycle and not even need the second, but we paid for the “multi cycle discount”, an option which includes two full cycles, just in case.

Well….the cycles were not exactly what we expected. Each cycle resulted in only two embryos. The first cycle’s transfers (one fresh, one frozen) did not result in pregnancy. The second cycle’s fresh transfer resulted in my current pregnancy (holy shit!) and we have one more embryo on ice.

During the dreaded 2ww after the transfer, when we found out that only one additional embryo was frozen, I was horrified. I thought for sure that we were having a replay of the first cycle. Here we were, thinking we wouldn’t even need the second cycle, and we found ourselves approaching the end of the second cycle with precious few chances left. And we had said that the second cycle would be the last.

I found myself awake one night, balling my eyes out and praying to a God in whom I strive to place my trust and my faith. It’s hard to do that sometimes when you feel forgotten and alone. A thought occurred to me which I found extremely comforting and helpful, so I thought I would share it here in case it’s helpful to someone else. Plus, I don’t want to forget it!

I realized that my desire to be a mother came from God. This is a healthy, normal, God-given desire. So why then would God give me a desire and then not fulfill it? I realized that there are many different ways that God might choose to fulfill or satisfy that desire. One of them is a pregnancy and biological child of my own. But if that’s not in the cards for whatever reason, I truly believe that God will not leave that desire unfulfilled. He will find some other way, which might be invisible to me now, to satisfy that desire.

One week after that tearful nighttime reflection, I received my first positive pregnancy test ever. My thoughts and prayers have now turned to excitement and hope for the pregnancy, mixed with copious amounts of anxiety and worry that something will happen and I will have come this far only to end up childless after all.

Anyone have any words of wisdom or coping mechanisms that helped you relax during early pregnancy?