Wednesday, April 23, 2014

He has healed my heart!

Well, the last time that I talked to you I was still struggling with the residual feelings of our IVF cycle and miscarriage.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the movie "Son of God."  To put you in the moment, imagine me sitting in a movie theater full of people. I am sitting in the middle of the theater two seats from the aisle.  You can hear popcorn bags rustling and seats creaking as people restlessly shift positions. A great friend sitting to my right and two little old ladies to my left.  The people behind me continue to comment on what is happening or about to happen throughout the entire movie. The lights are low and the music is so loud that it shakes your insides.  After about only 30 minutes of watching Jesus perform so many random miracles I have already started crying like a baby. As I sat there watching Jesus healing random individuals who crossed his path I couldn't help but think "why not me?" Why couldn't he just say "you are healed my child." He can do it, why won't he? That would make my life so much better and doesn't he want the best for me? I know that is such a human response. This feeling was the strongest when Jesus was preaching to a crowd and several men lowered a paralyzed man through the roof.  They had carried him from his home and couldn't come through the door because so many people had come to see Jesus. So they broke a hole in the ceiling and lowered the man down to Jesus. I guess where there is a will there is a way, right? Jesus told him that his sins were forgiven and told him to get up and walk. Jesus told the man that he was healed and helped him to his feet.   When I saw that paralyzed man get up and walk away I had to concentrate on controlling myself because I was starting to blubber. You know that kind of "ugly" cry when your entire face quivers and the more you fight it the worse it gets? I looked around at everyone around me and no one else was as upset as I was.  What in the world was wrong with me? Then I realized why. I knew I needed a miracle and hadn't gotten it yet.  So then the two year old toddler inside of me started crying out saying "But what about me?"

So if Jesus can heal a paralyzed man why can't he simply "heal" me and give me a baby. That seems like nothing compared to what he did for other people in the Bible, right? I have asked him for a baby. I have been so distraught and raw in front of him while asking for what I "needed" that there couldn't be any confusion about what I was asking for. I have cried out to him asking him for help and healing, why won't he heal ME? Why can't he take the jumbled up hot mess that is inside of me and make it do what it's supposed to do? Why, why, why? So when Jesus said "you are healed" (to the paralyzed man) I thought to myself "Jesus, please heal me!" For just a minute, there were no popcorn bags rustling, the people behind me weren't talking, and it wasn't the music that was shaking my insides. It was one of those moments when you are lost to the world around you and for a second you are the only thing in the world. I thought (or God said to me) HE HAS ALREADY HEALED YOU! I didn't think too deeply into the thought at that time because I realized that I was in public and was starting to "uglier" cry.  You know the kind of cry that makes your face quiver uncontrollably and you start to sob out loud, gasping for air.  No one can look good doing that.

After the movie was over, and I had time to reflect on the lessons that I had learned, I thought about the "He has already healed you" thought.  What did that mean? Let me check and make sure but yep, still no baby. I still don't have fallopian tubes. So he hasn't healed me, what are you talking about?  But then I thought harder about it. A year ago (this was back in February) my heart was in a much different place. My heart was hard and I really didn't want to look at my infertility journey as a marathon.  I wanted it to be a sprint that I could run really fast, be done, wipe the sweat and walk away from the track. (Most of my friends are laughing right now because they know that I only run after a doughnut or piece of cheesecake. But whatever.) I believed that I still had control of everything. I had a plan. We would retest our AMH in July and depending on the results we would either try IVF or look into adoption.  God was a part of that plan of course, but really only as a spectator not an orchestrator. I felt like I was a crazy woman on a mission and anyone who got in my way, well, that's your own fault. Then Unconceivably Blessed and I started the support group.  I realized just how hard my heart had become. WE started our IVF cycle in October and to tell you the truth, I thought that would be the easy part.  I had had already had 5 surgeries in my lifetime, I could handle this for sure.  The difference though was the emotional roller coaster that is associated with IVF. Then when we miscarried, that was I started to see a shift in myself.  I hated stuff.  I hated people.  People that I had never met. Just because they had kids. I was angry.  I was mad at God and I questioned him.

But now, I was different.  I didn't hate people anymore.  I didn't hate my life.  I didn't hate my situation. I could look at a person with a child and think how cute that family was and not "I hate you because your reproductive system works properly." Unconceivably Blessed and I have helped each other through a lot of difficult moments and the support group is a huge help. I learn so much from those amazing women. I have started to realize that I can't control any part of infertility. So why try?
I have realized that God has to be in the driver's seat and I can't be a back seat driver. I'm still struggling with implementing that but I have realized that that's what needs to happen. I understand that I have a purpose in this life, and infertility is a part of the purpose.  I don't know what it is, but there is a reason that God allowed this to be a part of my life.

So He has healed me. Just not in the way that I was looking for. I was looking at the physical aspects of my infertility.  He hasn't given me the miracle of a baby, but he has given me so many more things that are causing another miracle, living positively with infertility. I still struggle everyday, but I will get there.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Closing 2013 and opening a new year for lessons in perseverance!

I can't believe we are here. It feels like yesterday I was saying 2013 was going to be a great year. Now 2013 is coming to an end and 2014 is upon us.  It has been a year full of experiences.  Today I was on Facebook and saw something kind of neat. It was a review of your most popular posts and pictures that were shared of you, so I decided to do that on her. A recap of the years events.

This time last year I was still recovering from my surgery that removed my Fallopian tubes. I was trying to come to terms with not being able to afford IVF and looking into alternate ways to build our family. I tried to start 2013 with a positive attitude. You know what I mean.  "This year is going to be different," "This year is going to be our year," "God will bless us this year!"  I think people start every year with that kind of talk.  I don't know that I've ever heard anyone say "this year was great I hope next year is just as good." Sorry for the rambling.  2012 was a difficult year so we had something to hope for when wishing 2013 would be better. We had been diagnosed with horrible fallopian tubes and the ovaries of a 40 year old.

We started 2013 in the RE's office. January 2nd 2013, we saw Dr. D and he told us that time was of the essence. We knew that money was of the essence too; and money we didn't have. So we decided to wait for God to tell us what to do. We would wait until July, pray about our situation, and see where God took us. In the months between January and July, I prayed for God's will to be done.  I came to terms with the fact that God's will may not be for me to have a child of my own.  I accepted that God's will may be for Kevin and I to adopt an embryo that was the biological child of someone else; God's will may be for Kevin and I to adopt an already born child; or God's will may be for me to be the best aunt to every child that comes into my life. We decided that we would wait until July.  We would retest and decide what to do then.  If my results went up or even stayed the same, we would try IVF.  If they went down, we would look at adoption of some sort.

In February of 2013, I saw the worst part of infertility.  Unconceivably Blessed did another frozen cycle. She called me at work the day of her transfer asking me for advice about how many to transfer.  They had three embryos left and their doctor was willing to transfer them all. I said "Go for it. You can carry trips." So they did and they got pregnant! I can't describe to you how happy I was when she told me!  A couple of weeks later, on the day of their first ultrasound, she texted me and told me that she was no longer pregnant.  I was sitting in my car heading back to work from my lunch break. Brokenhearted doesn't accurately describe the way I felt. I wrote a blog about it that night and I posted a song that I had heard on the radio earlier. The song was "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North.  I just took a minute to listen to it again and it is still just as powerful to me and it takes me straight back to the same emotional place I was that night.

In May of 2013, Unconceivably Blessed and I started a support group for women with infertility.  We both understood the importance of having a companion walking with you on this journey and we wanted to make sure other women had that same company.  There was no support group, that we could find, in any surrounding county.  So we decided to change that.  We met on the second Thursday of every month at the public library. Our first meeting had six or seven women in attendance. Since then every month we have kept the company of amazing women, some traveling as much as an hour to attend. I look forward to every meeting because just as much as I hope I help those ladies, talking to them gives my heart such relief.  It's like a heaping dose of infertility medicine (finally, one that I don't have to pay for).

In July, we retested and got good news. My results went up.  So we decided to try an IVF cycle.  We still had the task of paying for it though.  A friend of ours told me about borrowing money from their retirement and suggested we look into it. So we did. We discovered that there are rules to borrowing from your retirement account. One of those rules was that you could only borrow up to half the amount in the retirement account. That month's contribution made half of the total amount just enough to pay for the IVF procedure. We raised the rest of the money with yard sales.  Out of the goodness of their hearts, our friends and family donated items so that we could raise more money. God provided!

In September, Unconceivably Blessed and I were contacted by a journalism student who was doing a project on the science of infertility. She wanted to talk to us about our infertility journeys and see if we would be willing to participate in her project.   We decided to open our lives up to her and share our stories.  It's still a work in progress.

In October, we did our first IVF cycle. It was a different part of the journey. There was territory that I was unfamiliar with. I felt emotions that I had never felt before.  These emotions were difficult but important. On October 28th, Dr. D took 13 eggs out of my ovaries and helped us create 10 lives from those eggs.

On November 2nd, we had 5 embryos still developing and we chose to transfer 1 embryo into my uterus. We were able to freeze 3 embryos that made it to day 6 of development. On November 11th, we heard the words that we thought we would never be blessed enough to hear.  We were pregnant. That feeling was amazing. It was surreal.  It didn't sink in right away but it didn't take long. But it didn't last long either. November 19th we found out that we had miscarried. I thought that was the hardest day of my life.  Little did I know how hard the days to come would be.

But November wasn't a total wash.  On November 11th, the same day we found out we were pregnant, we found out that my little sister was pregnant. I was going to be a real aunt. Now, I have always been honest on this blog and this is not a time for exception. I have to be completely honest and say that I didn't know how to feel.  Of course I was excited and glad that my sister didn't have any issues with infertility and didn't have to go through what we had been through. But I must admit that I was a little bit of a brat at first. I did feel like a little baby rain shower whose thunder had been stolen. For a minute I thought "are you kidding me, we just went through hell to get pregnant, we finally do and we can't have it to ourselves for five minutes?" But then the happiness of me being an aunt, being pregnant at the same time with my sister, and knowing she didn't have to experience the hell that we had just gone through replaced those feelings. I felt terrible for not being elated from the beginning, but I made the conscious decisions to change those feelings.

Over the two weeks that we were pregnant together, we texted back and forth sharing what different symptoms we were experiencing. After Kevin and I found out that we miscarried, I couldn't tell her.  I couldn't tell her because I knew that she would feel guilty that she was pregnant and I wasn't. I so badly didn't want her to feel anything but happy for herself.  But more importantly I wanted to feel happy for her. But I didn't.  I couldn't feel happy for her because I felt so sorry for myself. I had to learn how to deal with my emotions from my miscarriage while she got more and more pregnant. I started to feel myself getting more and more bitter and resentful. I found myself feeling the same way I did about pregnant women in general when I was first diagnosed with infertility.  But no matter how hard I tried to change my mind, I couldn't change those feelings. No matter how many times I prayed for God to take those thoughts captive and change them, they remained. But this wasn't some woman walking down the street. This was my sister. What kind of person was I that I was hurt and jealous that she was pregnant and I wasn't. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself "get over yourself girl." But I couldn't tell her that I had all of these feelings because I knew it would break her heart and that would re-break mine. I knew her heart and I knew that if she thought she had hurt me, it will kill her. So I decided not to tell her and suffer quietly, alone. But that fixes nothing.

So I set out to fix it. I refused to stay like that. I refused to be what made her feel guilty for being pregnant and I refused to be quiet about this experience. My main problem was that I wanted to deal with the pain of the miscarriage too quickly.  I wanted to cry a good ugly cry, pick myself up and move on.  That wasn't going to happen. This non-superhero that sometimes forgets she's human was expecting too much.  I was putting too much pressure on myself, not letting myself go through the grieving process and heal properly. It's ok to be mad, sad, jealous, and hurt.  But it's not ok for me to stay that way forever. I have to go through each one of those emotions to come out healthy on the other side. I haven't stopped feeling mad that I am no longer pregnant, but I don't feel it everyday.  I have certainly not stopped feeling sad that we will never meet our first baby, that we will never know if it was a boy or a girl, or that God took him/her to heaven before letting us enjoy them on earth. I have cried almost everyday since November 19th, but that is better than crying everyday.

The blessings are what I have to concentrate on. Some days that is soooooo much easier said than done. Nonetheless, that is what I have to do. One of my fellow infertiles told me that she was clinging to her faith because that is all she had left. I am so blessed that I am a child of God and He is strengthening me.  I am blessed that God gave me a husband who is strong, steadfast, and extremely patient with me. I am blessed that I have family and friends that love me through this. I am blessed to have a niece or nephew on the way. I am blessed to have an amazing support system in my infertility family. I am blessed that we have 3 more embryos waiting to become babies.  I am blessed that now, because of this horribly painful experience, I can tell another woman who miscarries that she will be ok.  I will know that it is enough to just sit and wait until she is ready to talk. Without infertility I don't know if I would appreciate just how blessed I am.

At the beginning of 2013 I wrote a post similar to this one, recapping 2012 and looking forward to 2013. At the end of that blog I wrote: "So here's to 2013, the prosperous year of the 13! A year of less bad news for all of us, bigger hopes, smiles all around, more what if dreams, and maybe, just maybe, our baby reality!" 

Now at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 I have this to say: 
It was 13 months after being officially diagnosed with infertility that we had 13 eggs retrieved from my 40 year old ovaries. It was 14 days after those 13 eggs were retrieved that we found out we were pregnant, almost 14 months after we were diagnosed with infertility.  It was also in the same 14th month that we found out our baby was born into heaven and resting in the arms of Jesus.  On January 1 of 2014, my little sister will be 13 weeks pregnant and I will be happy for that!  I don't know what 2014 will bring but I do know that '13 and '14 are mysteriously intertwined.  So I pray that 2014 will be a year where God's will is done.  I pray for healing, strength and understanding through that time.

Don't forget to "consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:1-4

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Conceived on October 28, 2013 and born into heaven on November 19, 2013

Then I cried!

I started crying because she said the words that I had feared for weeks. She said something to the effect of "I'm sorry to tell you that you aren't pregnant anymore."  I can't tell you what she said exactly because I all but blacked out.  I didn't actually lose consciousness, but that is the best way to describe what happened to me at that moment.  I heard her words but I didn't understand her words. I looked at Kevin and asked him what to do.  He looked just as confused as I did.  We didn't expect that!  He stepped over to me and hugged me.  He tried to fight back his tears and just held onto me.

Then I cried, harder!

I have never experienced a feeling like that.  I felt like I was in a fog and my brain just wouldn't work.  I kept trying to figure out what I needed to do next, but just couldn't think. I kept walking back and forth asking what to do and saying I can't figure it out.  I needed a plan, but had no clue how to plan.  Finally, Kevin told me that we needed to go home.  So I called my friend in the next office and asked her if my boss was back from lunch.  She immediately knew that something was wrong. It may have a been a clue that I was sobbing. Everyone in my office knew that we had another pregnancy test that day. I imagine that hearing my voice at that moment said everything that needed to be said. She came into my office and helped me figure out how to pack my bags and start on my way home.  Because I was so disoriented, she and another friend decided that I didn't need to drive.  That was the last thing I needed to do.  I can see the headlines now : "Local woman gets pulled over for DWI (Driving While dealing with Infertility)" So they drove me home.  Remember that Kevin was working. So he had to call his lieutenant to tell him and ask if he could go home for the day.

The Dr.'s office said that they could only assume that there was something genetically wrong with the fetus that made it incompatible with life. Obviously, there's no way to tell for sure. But that caused a flood of questions to run through my head. Does genetically mean that there is something wrong with me, genetically?  Does that mean the other embryos will be genetically incompatible too?  Can I make babies at all?  Can I do anything right? Is it something I did or didn't do?  I started to replay the past two weeks through my head.  Had I eaten or drank something that was forbidden?  Had I picked something up that was too heavy?  Had I gotten too stressed out?  Had I not been thankful enough?  Had I not prayed hard enough or asked God precisely enough for what I wanted?  WHAT DID I DO?

I remember asking the nurse "Is it something I did?"  I could hear a unique sadness in her voice when she emphatically told me that it was not my fault and I hadn't done anything wrong!  At that time I couldn't make sense of that response. All I could do was cry! It was my fault!  I had been entrusted with this amazing miracle and couldn't sustain it.  All at the same time, my dream and nightmare had come true.

One wonderful thing about my infertility journey is my support system. Later that night, my mom and dad and Kevin's mom came to the house and sat with us.  Trying to make us feel better. Trying to bring a smile to our faces. Then Unconceivably Blessed and Christine stopped by.  Unconceivably Blessed walked in with tears in her eyes because she knew exactly how I felt.  She had been through this twice.  She gave me a huge hug and told me that she was sorry.  They brought us a basket of goodies and tissues and sat with us. They succeeded in bringing out a much needed laugh.

I don't think it fully sank in until the next day.  I have never in my life felt an emptiness quite like that. Where my heart should have been, there was a hole. Where I had felt signs of life just days before was now nothing. I couldn't think, I didn't want to talk and I couldn't stop crying. In the next couple of days, I stopped crying as much but the emptiness didn't go away. Friends and family continued to come see us, and that helped me but it didn't heal me.  People continued to ask me what they could do for me.  I felt bad not having an answer for them, but I didn't know what I needed.  I still don't.

Dr. D's office told me that my period would start in a few days. The one dreaded symbol of womanhood that is Mother Nature's persistent reminder that I'm not pregnant. This month it would be different.  This month it would mean that I was no longer pregnant. But ironically enough, I wanted it to come. After the nurse gave us the news, I almost went into denial. I thought it could have been a mistake.  I couldn't stop thinking that maybe the lab got my results mixed up with someone else's.  It was someone else that wasn't pregnant any longer, not me. Until my period came, I had that hope that it was a mistake. So in a way I wanted my period to come so that it was real. Aunt flo finally came and it was terribly painful.  Unconceivably Blessed had warned me about how the pain would be. She was spot on. It was a cocktail of relief and devastation.

Then I cried, again!

Then crazy lady came to visit. I started thinking stupid thoughts.  I started feeling like I had let Kevin down.  If only he had married someone else.  He would make such a wonderful father, he didn't deserve this grief.  I had let him down, AGAIN! I understand that he has never felt this way. In fact, he has told me on multiple occasions that he didn't marry me for my uterus.  He married me because he loved ME.  But in the mind of a woman who feels broken and like a failure, these thoughts seem plenty rational.  Those thoughts became less frequent and I cried a little less. It was mostly when I was alone and had time to stew that I was the saddest. When I was around people, it wasn't as bad.  I could stop thinking about it for a minute. But I was still different.  I felt that emptiness no matter who was around; no matter where I was.  The happiness that I had before the miscarriage was MIA. Walking down the aisle of the grocery store, I was just in a hurry to get home.  Before I took my time, dancing and singing down the aisle. (Come to think about it maybe that's why people stare) Even though Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year, I have barely bought any Christmas presents, I don't want to listen to Christmas songs, and I have no desire to finish decorating the house. I am a pretty happy person, most of the time! But now, I feel like I just exist!

But I've made a decision!  I may not be back to "me" tomorrow, but I will get there. I triumphed over crazy lady and infertility before and I WILL do it again!  Understand that it might take some time, and I might be sad here and there. But the one thing I haven't lost, only refined through my infertility journey, is my will to FIGHT!!!  Those who know me, know that I don't settle and I don't give up without a fight!  Why should this be any different.   I will always remember our first baby; conceived on October 28, 2013 and born into heaven on November 19, 2013.  God is holding us both now. He will see me through this with you by his side! My faith will be strengthened and one day I will meet you.  But until then, I will dream of you, fight through this sadness and pain, and pray for a baby born to me here. I will relearn to trust Him and understand that He has a plan that is much more amazing than mine!

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:13-16.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Catching up with old friends, infertility style!

I know that I've been gone for a while, but please forgive me because I've been going through a whirlwind. I started this blog as a therapeutic means of dealing with my infertility. As I became more used to the idea of having infertility and we waited to win the lottery (in order to pay for our IVF), there wasn't as much to vent about and less therapy was needed.  But now I have a totally new topic to vent, yell, and scream about. But first let me catch you up.

The last post told you that Kevin and I were planning to do an IVF session in October.  We were able to get our meds at a reasonable price.  We were able to save enough money to pay for the cycle by doing yard sales and borrowing from retirement.  We figured this was a good enough reason to postpone retirement. So we started our adventure on Friday October 18.  We went for a baseline ultrasound and things looked good.  We had a decent amount of follicles and the uterine lining was nice and thick.  Kevin gave me the first shot of Menopur that night.  I had to have 6 vials of Menopur per shot.  We anticipated having to do 12 nights of shots because my AMH was so low. Kevin continued to give me shots Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. On Tuesday October 22, we went back to the doctor to monitor the progress my ovaries were making. We were doing well.  We had more follicles than we anticipated.  Of course, they weren't all mature but things were looking promising. I had to give blood so they could test my estradiol and progesterone levels.  They called later that afternoon and told us that my progesterone level was too high.  It was 2.3. They told me to start the Ganirelix to prevent me from ovulating. I had to go back to Dr. D's office the next day to have my blood tested again. If my progesterone level rose at all, we would have had to cancel the cycle.

Why is the progesterone level so important? Progesterone is the hormone that thickens the lining of the uterus.  When your progesterone gets to a certain level, it signals your brain to "ovulate."  Well, obviously, in IVF we don't want my body to listen to itself. We want it to respond to the commands of the medicines.  Since we were only 3 days into the cycle and didn't have nearly enough mature follicles we didn't want that progesterone level to go up another smidge.

On Wednesday October 23, my progesterone levels went down to 1.4. Whoooooooooooooooo HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Kevin and I were so excited because that meant that we could keep going. So we continued both the Menopur and Ganirelix until Friday October 25. We went for what ended up being our last ultrasound.  We had great follicles and a lot of mature ones at that. Again, we tested the estradiol and progesterone levels. The progesterone level was up again.  It was 2.7.  Now remember that we were a couple more days into the cycle. So if the level stayed at 2.7 for the rest of the cycle that would have been fine. But I had to go back Saturday October 26 to test again.  That day it was back down to 1.9.  Speaking of Roller Coaster... So Dr. D told us to go ahead and trigger that night and get ready for the retrieval on Monday October 28. (Side note: The trigger shot is 10,000 units of HcG (aka the pregnancy hormone) that starts the ovulation process.  It is very time sensitive and must be done as close to a specific time as possible.)

Monday morning: We went for the retrieval. They were able to retrieve 13 eggs.  We were super excited because that exceeded all of our expectations. In fact Dr. D said "it was a stupendous day."  They called us the next day to tell us that 10 of those 13 eggs fertilized and they were able to do conventional fertilization.  (Conventional fertilization is when they put 50,000 sperm on each egg and let them fight to the death.  May the best sperm win!) They expected because of my low AMH to have to do ICSI but luckily they didn't have to. (ICSI is when they suck a couple of good looking sperm into a straw and insert one sperm into each egg. Basically, the embryologist is a million dollar  matchmaker.) After waiting 5 days, we went to Dr. D's office for the transfer. Before we got there I had to drink 32 ounces of liquid so that I would have a full bladder.  Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to see where to put the embryo. We found out that we had 5 embryos left.  It's natural to have fewer embryos on day five than what you start with on day 1.  Ending up with 50% of the embryos that you started with is a pretty good percentage. We decided only to transfer 1 embryo. After the transfer I had to lay there for 20 minutes.  With a full bladder!!!!  I only made it 10 minutes.  But I climbed back on the table to lay the remaining 10 minutes. Then we had to wait, AGAIN!!  We had to wait 9 days to find out whether that one embryo decided to "stick" around. 

Finally, Monday November 11! PREGNANCY TEST DAY!! I went to have my blood drawn that morning and they would call later that afternoon with the results. When they finally called, I was terrified.  You would think that someone who has been waiting to be pregnant for so long would break their neck trying to get to the phone.  But quite the opposite, not this chicken. I heard the phone ringing and just ignored it.  I was scared to death that the nurse would say "I'm sorry but negative." Finally, I found Kevin and we called the nurse back.  We sat on hold for 10 minutes waiting for the nurse.  It just seemed fitting.  As if we had not waited long enough!  She finally came on the line and told us that she was so happy to tell us that we were PREGNANT!!!

We were elated.  We couldn't believe it.  We drove straight to the grocery store to buy a HPT so that I could see a positive.  Funny thing is that when I went to check on the HPT results, my heart started pounding and I was scared that it would be negative even though the Dr's office had already confirmed. We drove to tell friends and family.  It was impossible to keep it a secret because everyone knew that we were doing the cycle.  After a week of being pregnant, EVERYONE I knew knew we were pregnant. The had to wait a week and go back for another pregnancy test. Because the miscarriage rate was so high still we had to go make sure we were still pregnant.

November 19, 2013.  I went for the normal morning blood draw.  We waited for the normal afternoon phone call. Kevin and I were both working. So when I got the phone call, I let it go to voicemail and called Kevin to come up to my office.  Once he got there, we listened to the news. 

Then I cried!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taking my business elsewhere: The reality of the disabled Infertile!

Well the last month has been a bit of a whirlwind.  I don't even know where to start.  You know that Kevin and I decided at the end of July that we were going to do an IVF cycle in October. So in the past few weeks I have talked to insurance reps, pharmacy reps, and the nurses at my doctor's office more than I have my family. No joke. It feels like I talk to someone from one of these three places everyday. When I call my doctor's office, all I have to say is "hey, it's Katy." Their response is "Hey, what's up?" I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad one.

Anyone who has done or planned to do an IVF cycle knows how expensive it is. We got a preliminary report about how much the procedure would cost. Then we got a list of medications. My nurse told me to call my insurance company and find out what, if any, coverage I had for those medicines.  She told me how important it was to tell them that I was taking the medications in conjunction with an IVF cycle. Because of my low AMH, I have to have the highest medication protocol they have. So of course that means that the meds are going to cost more because I need more of them.

So I called the pharmaceutical side of my insurance company. (Side Note:  There are two separate parts of my insurance company: the Medical part and the Pharmaceutical part. You will see that they apparently don't talk to each other)  When I talked to the first representative, I told her that I was doing an IVF cycle and I needed to know how much my medicines were going to cost.  I repeated to her that I was needing these medications so that I could become pregnant with the assistance of doctors.  For a third time, I told her that my husband and I could not have children on our own and needed the assistance of some really smart people. We went through the list together and she gave me a co-pay amount for each medication. The total? Drum roll please (imagine it)! Less than $500. That was for 8 IVF medications.  I couldn't believe it!  I was sitting in my office and my jaw dropped to my desk.  I was speechless.  I asked her if she was positive that she was right.  I reminded her that I was doing IVF and she said I know but that's what it says your co-pay is. We hung up and I called my nurse.  She was just as excited as me.  But being the pessimistic and cautious person that I am, I had to call the insurance company back.  I called the medical side this time.  I knew that I only had coverage up to diagnosis, but nothing for IVF or medications.  So I wanted some clarification. The representative told me that I didn't have coverage for meds.  I told her what the lady on the pharm. side said.  She said "Well if that's what she told you then that's what it will be."  My heart fell onto my desk, instead of my jaw.  But that still wasn't enough for me. I called the pharm side back.  Knowing I would get a different representative, I decided that I would trust the total if she told me the same thing. Well she didn't tell me the same thing.  IT WAS CHEAPER!!! Ok this time, I fell onto my desk!

Well you know how they say "if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't right?" Well, it was too good to be true.  My doctor sent the script to the pharmacy, they ran it through my insurance, and called me and said my bill was $6,300.  I fell out onto my desk again. Totally skipped the jaw and the heart drop. The whole body, just collapsed. I asked them why they didn't run it through my insurance. She told me that they did but that insurance denied the claim. She followed that up with "will you be paying with credit or debit?" I wanted to say "Monopoly money," but I didn't. I told her that I wouldn't be paying for anything right now.  Throughout the next week, after many phone calls to and from the pharmacy and insurance company (every call, by the way, the representative gave me wrong information or they said that my concerns weren't their department and transferred me.  One lady pretended that she couldn't use her computer and hung up on me) we determined that I had no coverage for 4 of the 8 medications.  4 of the meds were covered because they were meds that are not associated with infertility. The other 4 were still going to cost close to $6,000. Still going to have to use Monopoly money for that!

So I was super excited that we had support group that week. I needed some advice from my sista infertiles and needed to just let off some frustration. Well it just so happened that we had a newcomer. She told me about a pharmacy in the UK that she was buying her meds from. They ship them here and they are ridiculously cheaper. So I rushed home and looked them up. OMG after checking out the site, I determined that my meds would cost less than $2500.  The most expensive medicine that I need costs $72 a vial here in the US. I need 66 vials. In the UK, it costs $29 a vial.  Of course I didn't trust it.  So I checked the pharmacy and their meds out the best I could.  The pharmacy is totally legit.  The medicines? It is the exact same medicine that I would have gotten from the pharmacy here. I went to the pharmaceutical manufacturers website and discovered that the medicine that I would have received from the USA pharmacy, comes from overseas to begin with. So ladies and gentlemen, that's what we call the American mark-up!  Sorry, it really chaps my tiny hiny that the EXACT  same medicine is $43 more here. And to make me feel better, my insurance company told me that if Kevin and I were using the medications to try to get pregnant on our own at home (not with IVF), they would cover them and it would have cost the original $500.

So my America, that I truly feel privileged to be a citizen of, just told me that it's my problem, not theirs, that I was sick as a child and as a result can't have babies, the almighty dollar is more important than the hard working people, and we would prefer you to do your business elsewhere.  But what is our problem, and therefore your problem as a working person who pays taxes, is paying the rent and grocery bill of people who decide they don't feel like working anymore and doctor shop until they find someone to say they are bi-polar because they lose their temper when they get too drunk everyday. After all, they have a disability.

Well that is interesting, because under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) infertility is a disability.  So why is my disability different? Because it costs too much money! After the Supreme Court made up some crap about excluding an entire group of people from insurance benefits doesn't qualify as discrimination, the American insurance companies can legally discriminate against infertiles who need IVF.  So because it is too risky and not a guarantee that IVF will result in a pregnancy, insurance companies don't pay.

Now please don't misunderstand me.  I don't think that the American government should pay for my procedure and medication, or send me a monthly check for my disability. I don't want that because I am completely capable of working and making my living. And I am not saying that everyone who receives a disability check is not completely deserving of it. But let's be completely honest, most people receiving a disability check are abusing the system. People who really CAN'T (this is different from WON'T) make their living because of their disability are unable to get assistance because we are paying too many people whose "disability" is laziness or stupidity.  I am saying that I don't think that insurance companies should be able to pick and choose whose disability is worth giving coverage to and whose isn't. We pay the same premiums as everyone else.  I thought the point of insurance was to help with medical costs when you need it. I guess I was wrong. It's for helping with medical costs when someone else thinks it is worth it and as long as it isn't too serious, too risky or costs too much money!!!!  Silly me!!! 

So instead of putting my money into this dreadful economy and trying to help turn it around, because let's be honest I don't see it being successful anytime soon and it seems too risky to me,  I am choosing that America's disability is not my cause today.  Because contrary to the belief of the people in charge of this country (which is supposed to be the people, but isn't), I am not made out of money and after contributing to the disability of everyone else with the taxes that they take out of my paycheck, I can't afford my own, here!

Taking my business elsewhere!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

All the doctor's nurses, doctors, and sperm analyzing men, may be able to put Hump-D together again.

Hump-D Dump-T sat in an ovary....Well you know the rest of that story. Hump-D fell and broke! Well  just like anything else in my life, my Hump-D is special!!!  Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about my ovary!!!!!  The eggs in my ovaries broke at the thought of falling!

As many of you know, I had a terrible AMH score in September of 2012.  When we went to our first RE appointment , we discovered that my AMH was .76.  The doctor wanted it to be and really was expecting it to be a 2.0 or higher.  Dr. D told us that it was POSSIBLE for the score to go down as much as half in one year.  That would have made our chance of a successful pregnancy and live birth almost impossible.  So Kevin and I decided that we would wait until July 2013, have my AMH retested, and make a final decision from there.

I went to the doctor's office on July 19 to have my blood drawn so it could be retested.  The results of that test will determine the course of action. It will tell us if Hump-D is scrambled or sunny side up with a thumbs up. We had an appointment set for July 31 to get the results.  But my phone rang while I was at work on Friday July 26. I saw it was Dr. D's office and literally could not breathe for a minute.  Interestingly enough, I debated about whether to answer the phone or let it go to voicemail. Seriously?  (Side note: The last time I got the score, I had missed the call and the nurse left a voicemail.  I listened to it on the way home from work and was totally unprepared for the .76 that came out of her mouth. Luckily, I was really close to home. That meant I didn't have to auto-pilot for too long.  I had started crying uncontrollably and couldn't see as a result.) So I decided that sitting in my office, where I could shut the door and sob safely and privately, was the best option at that time.

I had pretty much decided that it was going to be bad.  I had a weird feeling/understanding that whatever this number was it would make a clear cut decision for us. But if you look at the .76 score, along with all of the information that I had learned since September, that pessimistic feeling makes sense. For Dr. D's clinic, there was a 41% success rate for an AMH of .76. Now that isn't broken down for age groups, that is for the clinic as a whole. The average age for an AMH of .80-1.0 is 35.5. So our chances would have been a tick better since I am only 29, but not much. So if my AMH went down, that would have put us in the .20-.70 range where the average age is 37.7 years old and success rates plummet to 14%. Again, my age would have likely cause us to have a little bit of a better success rate percentage, but not much. If it went up, it could keep us in the same success percentage or make it better.

Focus ADD. Sorry, saw something shiny and got distracted. Back to Dr. D's office calling me at work. I decided to answer the phone.  It was the nurse saying "I have your AMH results!"  I tried to analyze her voice because that's what I do, analyze EVERYTHING!!!!!  The best thing she could have done was just spit it out.  That's exactly what she did, so fast that I almost missed it. DRUM ROLL PLEASE (imagine the drum roll because I don't know how to spell that). My AMH score went up to 1.04!!!!!!!  Wooo Hooooo!  Not a huge increase, but it increased!  So I asked her what that meant about our success rate.  She gave me an age/AMH specific success rate of 55-57%. It may not sound great to you.  But if you have mulled over 41% for the past year, 55-57% is AWESOME!!!!  So we got off of the phone and I started bawling. SKKKUUURRRR! Crying?  Why? That was good news. Is crazy lady back? Why do we cry when we get good news?

So I tried to get a grip and call Kevin.  Of course, he didn't answer the phone. He didn't answer the phone when I passed the Bar Exam either. (No, I haven't forgotten) I tried to call my mom, she didn't answer.  She didn't answer the phone when I passed the Bar Exam either. So I called one of my co-workers who was just a hallway away.  Ironically, she is the one who answered the phone at the DA's office after I found out I passed the Bar Exam. But I digress!!! She came into my office and celebrated the good news with me and helped me stop crying. BTW she is a fellow infertile, so she got it.

Finally (about 10 minutes later), Kevin called me back. (I ended up having to forgive him for not answering the phone when I found out that he physically couldn't answer.  He had locked his phone in the car and locked himself out of the car.  Poor Punkin.)

So in January of this year, Kevin and I decided that if our score went down by July we would either adopt embryos or adopt an already living child. If the score stayed the same or went up, we would try an IVF cycle. Well this past Wednesday we met with Dr. D and discussed our options. We found out that there was about a 50-60% percent chance for a successful live birth on a fresh cycle and about 50% of the time couples with similar age and AMH have embryos to freeze. We talked about how I was doing emotionally and mentally.  Understanding that I was emotionally and mentally "SPECIAL" even before infertility, Dr. D was proud of the progress that I had made in the past few months.

We discussed money, specifically how much an IVF cycle (excluding medications) would cost.  Our insurance doesn't cover IVF, so it will all be paid out of pocket.  Just for the medical procedures leading up to IVF, the retrieval, fertilization, transfer and ultrasounds after the transfer it is a large 4 digit number that is not quite at 5 digits.  Then we found out that he would put me on the highest medication protocol that they have because of my low AMH score.  That means that our medication costs will be greater.  The number that we heard, without insurance coverage, was $5,000-$6,500! BAHAHAHAHAHA. Can I throw up now. No one can give us a certain number because we won't know how much medication I'll actually need until we are in the cycle and monitoring how my body is responding.

Wrap it up, Katy.  So what's the big decision?


We are thinking positive thoughts and trying to keep crazy lady at bay for right now.  I will, as always, keep you posted as things happen!  So we'll see if we can re-write that old nursery rhyme to say:

All the doctor's nurses, doctors, and sperm analyzing men, may be able to put Hump-D together again.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Birthday to me: 29 and holding 'cause my ovaries can't get any older!

So yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 29 years old! Woo hooo, right? Yes, and No! I spent a large part of my day reading Happy Birthday wishes from wonderful friends.  I came home to my amazing husband, who had made me a traditional Margarita, grilled me a delicious steak and spent the evening talking to me.

Unfortunately, I spent a good part of the day thinking about my infertility and the effects this birthday has on it.

First, I thought about a fellow infertile who was blessed with a beautiful baby girl July 9, 2012.  I share a birthday with a miracle baby! I call her puddle, because I melt like a puddle every time I hold her and she buries her head in my neck! I thought so much about how happy I am to have both of them in my life.

Second, I thought about my doctors appointments I have scheduled in the next couple of weeks.  I was supposed to have done my IVF cycle before I turned 29 because I have the ovaries of a 40 year old. I finally called Dr. D to schedule an appointment to have my AMH retested and plan according to the results. I finally got the courage.  I have learned that when I am really scared, I procrastinate something terrible.  If I ignore it, it will go away, right? UHH....WRONG!!!!!  The silliest thing about that mentality is that procrastination only makes me keep thinking about it! But does that make sense when I'm avoiding something I don't want to face? ha! I just can't help thinking that I may have missed my chance.  Even though I know that is a possibility, it is just so much worse thinking Dr. D might say it out loud.  That makes it more real!

Finally, I thought about my 29 years.  I thought about the fact that I will be the big 3.0. next year!  I can remember when I was a little girl and 30 seemed ancient to me!  It sounded sooooo old!  Now, that is me!  But thinking about that little girl made me think about the things she dreamt about!  Then I thought about the things I wanted to have done by this time in my life. I wanted to go to school and have a successful career.  For whatever reason, I wanted to jump out of an airplane!  That is hilarious to me! I wanted to meet the man of my dreams, prince charming, my knight in shining armour (and hope they came all in one man).  I wanted to start a family. Have a family as big as I wanted.  You see I never knew about infertility until I was 16 or 17.  I thought you decided how many kids you wanted to have and that's what you had.  I didn't know that it was so scientific and so impossible for some!  Well I went to school for half of my life.  I have a wonderful job and a career that is on track to be very successful! I smartened up and decided that jumping out of an airplane was not a good part of my dream and I edited that out. I found my dream man who came with a side of prince charming and knight in shining armour!

So why can't I finish that dream??????!!!!!! 

I am soooo happy for every birthday that God blesses me with!  I can't help thinking about what that means for my infertility though.  I can't help but think about the fact that one more year means that many more eggs (potential embryos) are gone.  I can't help but think that as my age goes up, my percentage for a successful and safe pregnancy plummets.  I can't help but think that I will be alone if my husband dies before me because I don't have any children.  I can't help but see the dream turning into a nightmare!  Something I wish I could stop with a pinch of my arm.

I read on the RESOLVE website that grieving during infertility is comparable to grieving for the death of a loved one.  But it is unique in that it is reoccurring. When you lose a loved one, you only lose them once. Yes, you still think about them and grieve for them.  I'm not discounting that grief!  But infertility constantly renews itself. Every BFN is a new loss.  Every test that says "you're reproductively stupid," is a new loss. Every time someone asks you "when are you guys going to have little ones" or advises if you stand on your head, put one leg to the side, and say your ABCs backwards,, you'll get pregnant; is a new loss! Just like the death of a loved one, I think about my infertility every day and will continue to think about it everyday for the rest of my life. I just pray that one day I will think of it in the sense that I beat infertility!

Sorry for the down tone tonight. But I'm just mixed up! I've gone from Crazy lady living with my husband to Negative Nancy!  I'll let you know what happens at Dr. D's and what the plans will be from here!  Have a good day!!!!!!!!