The Strength to Move Forward

Hello Again!  It’s been some time my dear friends.  My last post was by far my most difficult.  It was one that I could never imagined ever having to write.  Over a year later, it still brings me to tears when I read it.  Miscarriages are heart breaking and for me I felt that it was soul shattering.  It broke almost every amount of hope that I was still clinging on to.  A large part of me wanted to end our journey the moment we were given the sad news.

The key world is almost…..

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The month following our miscarriage was the hardest.  I honestly felt that I was moving through life in a fog.  I was there….I was participating….but a part of me was missing.  My smiles were present but they were small….my laughs were there but they were contained.  I felt broken.

I told my husband that I wanted to stop trying fertility treatments….that I gave up on our dream of being parents.  Treatments were physically and emotionally draining.  I just didn’t have any more strength to give to this journey.  I expected him to yell…be angry….to fight with me.  However, he just listened….soothed…..and reassured me that he would support any decision that I made.  We were both hurting….both heart broken.  At that moment, I understood that neither of us were ready to move forward.

My amazing doctor called me a couple days after this miscarriage.  She apologized for not calling the day that we found out….but she wanted to give us time to grieve.  I loved her even more that day.  She truly understood what we were going through.  She could tell that I felt defeated, and wanted me to come in to see her to go over our situation.  I told her that we were fine and didn’t need to see her.  She asked that I just give her a chance to hear her out.  Because of her kindness and determination in her voice, I agreed.

When we went in to meet with her, the empathy in her eyes was very evident.  She understood what we were going through and she felt our pain and hesitation.  She explained why miscarriages happen and tried to reassure me not to blame myself.  She reviewed our case and believed that we should try another transfer.  She wanted to do another HSG and Hysteroscopy to verify that there were no abnormalities with my uterus and Fallopian tubes.    She promised me that she would be there for my hsysteroscopy.  The fact that she was willing to be there, started to give me some hope.

I agreed to give the possibility of one more transfer some thought.  When my husband and I left, we agreed to revisit the possibility of one more transfer when we were ready.  We both agreed that we needed time to heal both emotionally and physically.  During that time, I agreed to do the tests.

On the day of my HSG, my entire team of doctors and nurses were all women.  They were amazing and extremely empathetic.  They were aware of our previous miscarriage, and once again were extremely supportive an encouraging.  For those of you that have gone through an HSG, you are aware of the discomfort that you may feel.  It’s not painful, just uncomfortable.  Through each step of the procedure, all of the doctors and nurses were so attentive.  As I was leaving the room, the entire team wished me good luck with our next transfer.  Their compassion and support really touched my heart.

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The next step was to have my hysteroscopy.  True to her word, my doctor performed the procedure.  The moment she walked in, she could sense my sadness.  I will admit, I was still numb….still broken.  The entire procedure took only a few minutes.  What I love most about my doctor, is that she stayed back to talk to me for about 20 minutes.  I feel it was her final pep talk to encourage me to try one more time.  My doctor is the head of the fertility department.  She’s extremely busy….I know she had a lot of patients to see that day.  However, she stayed.  She recognized that I was in need of her support, so she stayed.

It was after that day, that I decided to move forward with one more transfer.  Being a mother is a role that I knew was meant for me.  I needed to overcome my fears, I couldn’t let them hold me back from my future.  So on December 3, 2015, we had our second FET.  This transfer brought us our beautiful baby boy.  I am so grateful for all the people in my life, especially my doctor.  So many people think that going to a big clinic, you become “just a number”.  However, with my doctor, I felt that she was truly invested in our journey.  My biggest mistake in the whole fertility process was not working with her from the beginning.

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Wake Me Up When This Moment Ends

It’s been 48 months….It’s easier to look at it in months as opposed to days….1,460 days seems so much larger….so much sadder than 48 months.  Why are these numbers so significant?  This is how long we have been trying to conceive our first child.  Within this time frame, we’ve gone through:

-hundreds of pregnancy and ovulation tests

-Tried dozens of supplements, vitamins, and new fertility diets.

-Saw four different fertility specialists

-Had 7 unsuccessful medicated IUI’s.

-2 cancelled IVF cycles

-1 full IVF cycle and transfer

-1 fresh donor egg IVF cycle

-1 Frozen donor egg IVF transfer

-About 60+ blood draws

-60+PIO injections

-100+ subcutaneous injections

No matter what we tried, everything seemed to end in failure and heart ache.  What are we doing wrong?  What is the issue that is preventing us from getting pregnant.  We finally decided to move onto donor egg IVF, hopeful that this was the answer to our problems.  Our donor responded beautifully and we ended up with 13 day 5 blasts.  We transferred 1 and froze 12.

The end result of our first transfer was a chemical pregnancy.  We were heart broken, but were ready to try again.  We decided to do a FET in June and this time transfer two embryos.  On the day of transfer, our embryos were already hatching.  That has to be a good sign, I thought.  Right?  Days after transfer, I didn’t experience any signs of pregnancy.  I was heart broken.  Then on 5dp5dt I started experience bad AF like cramps.  I thought for sure that I was out, that this cycle was a bust.  I came home crying to my husband…..totally, and completely heart broken.  Later that night I started spotting dark brown blood.

The next day, I called my doctors office, because I was going to demand that I move my beta up.  I even went to the store to buy a HPT just so that I can prove to them that this cycle was a bust.  Within seconds of peeing on that dreaded stick, that long awaited PREGNANT line appeared.  In fact, it appeared way before the control line.

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My first reaction was “Holy S&*t!  It worked!  I’m pregnant!!!”  I was seriously beyond shocked and surprised.  This was the greatest surprise of my life!  We were finally pregnant!  Our long awaited miracle was on it’s way!  My husband and I were happy, but we were cautiously happy.  We wanted that beta confirmation before we began to jump for joy.  We’ve been here before…..we’ve had our positive, however, not this dark of a positive, we just wanted to make sure it’s real.

Finally on the day of the beta, we heard those words that we waited 48 months….1,460 days for….”Congratulations, Shannon!  You are pregnant”!!

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I was overjoyed!  It was finally starting to feel real to me.  We even shared it with our parents….we wanted so much to wait for our first ultra sound, however, we waited so long for this moment.  I think in the back of my head, I thought….we waited so long….we are finally pregnant…..it would be cruel to take this away from us.  Maybe I was over confident.

Then we had a second beta a week later, and it was only 4,382.  The double wasn’t there….it was around 73 hr double time.  My nurse and doctor said that it was fine, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t.  I wanted to remain positive and hopeful though.

Two days before our first ultra sound, I began to cramp.  At first I didn’t think anything of it, because I hear so many women cramp during pregnancy.  Women even get concerned when they DON’T experience cramps during early pregnancy.  Then I began to spot….very light dark brown blood.  I thought….Ok….I am still good…nothing is wrong.  Gradually the cramping began to get worse….as did the bleeding.

I called the on call doctor, and her best advice was to sit and wait and monitor the bleeding.  As much as I wanted to scream at her that we need to do something, I knew that there was nothing that she could do.  Finally, I made the decision to go to the emergency room.

As I approached the desk, the receptionist asked me what I was there for.  At that moment, I had to say it out loud….then the idea was going to no longer be an idea….it was going to be real.

“I’m 6 and a half weeks pregnant….I’m experiencing heaving bleeding and cramping…..I’m afraid I might be miscarrying the pregnancy”

She just looks at me like she would look at anyone….like she was watching tv…paint dry….my situation doesn’t impact her….she’s on autopilot…..just doing her job.

I return to my seat….and I sit…..I continue to sit and wait. The cramping begins to intensify, as does the bleeding.  Each time I go to the bathroom the blood gets worse and worse.  I want to cry and have a break down, but I am in a room full of strangers.  My husbands meets me in the ER to offer support and hope that everything will be alright.  His hope saddens me because I’m experiencing all the pain…..I know what’s going to happen.

We finally get called by the nurse.  A bed is still not available, but she will begin the lab work.  I need to pee in a cup…Oh this will be fun.  As I enter the bathroom I am disgusted by the amount of bleeding that I am experiencing.  I am also embarrassed to then carry this cup full of urine in front of the patients waiting in the room.  Now she wants to take my blood.  I could tell she’s new….fresh out of college.  She puts the band around my arm….its tight…way too tight.  I am waiting while she fiddles with the tools to take my blood.  I think I wanted about two or three minutes until she finally began taking my blood.  Four vials….that’s all she needed…..it took forever.  I wanted it to end….I could feel my body starting to get clammy….I knew I was about to faint.

After she was done, she informed me that a bed was not ready, that I had to go back into the waiting room.  We waited for another 20 minutes until we were finally called back.  As soon as we were in my room, I was called down to ultra sound.  As they wheeled me down, I held my husbands hand and my stomach.  Saying prayers that everything will be alright.  When we finally arrived, she ultra sound tech refused to let my husband into the room with me.  She informed me that she can’t tell me anything or show me the ultra sound.  My heart shattered into a million pieces.  I need my husband….he’s my strength, my hope, my light in all this darkness.  This is our struggle…..our loss…we need to go through this together.  The moment he walked away from me I felt coldness…..I began to shake.

As the ultra sound began, I just stared at the ceiling….tears streamed down my face as my body uncontrollable shook.  “Can you please try to stay still” she asks.   “I’m sorry…I can’t control this” I responded.  “I know it’s tough, but you have to try your best” she said.  48 months…..1,460 days……We waited and prayed for you….and the past 3 weeks have brought us so much joy.  We can’t lose you….please stay with us…..is all I could think and pray over and over.

She’s listening to the radio…..all of a sudden Green Day’s “Wake me Up When September Ends” begins to play.  The song resonates with me and this moment.

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

As I listen, the tears begin to stream down my face.  I lose myself in the song….in the butterflies and flowers on the ceiling.  Praying that this moment will end…..trying to remember to breathe….still praying for this moment to end.

Once I am wheeled back to my room, I see the relief in my husbands face.  My hopeful man is beginning to crack.  The hope is beginning to fade.  What am I doing to this man…..he deserves to be a father….I am taking so much away from him.  Our doctor finally enters the room with the results.  He states them like he’s reading the daily news.  No big deal….two lives have come and passed.  That’s it….that’s all…..my heart has been forever changed.  We had twins….we always wanted twins.

As I was waiting to be discharged I send my husband home.  He’s always strong for me….always hopeful.  This man needs to grieve and I know he wont do it in front of me.  I make him leave, assure him that I am fine.  He is no longer hopeful….he’s broken….bitter…and doubtful.  I did this….I caused this.

I know this post is sad and depressing…..but having a miscarriage is sad, painful, depressing.  It changes you in ways you can never imagine.  We want to try again, however, I am so scared to try again.  What if it doesn’t work….what if something is wrong with me….our embryos…..My husband and I have been through failed cycles before, but never a miscarriage.  I have good days and bad days…..I am trying to pick up the pieces and trying to move forward.

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A Family Broken

As I begin to write this completely unexpected blog entry, I am still in a state of utter shock.  Many of you that read my blog have endured the difficult struggle of infertility.  You best understand the ups and downs of this struggle.  One of our most challenging struggles is opening up about our infertility to our family and friends.  I am not sure about you, but for a long time, I was extremely ashamed of the difficulties my husband and I were having trying to conceive our first child.  When I decided to finally open up to my friends and family about our struggles, they were extremely supportive.  Was I surprised by their support?  Absolutely not!  I always knew in the back of my head that I had an amazing team behind me, I just needed to get over my own insecurities about our situation.

My family has always had their ups and downs.  Growing up my parents had their differences with the grandparents and aunts and uncles.  We went long periods of times without talking to some of our aunts and uncles.  I was never able to meet my paternal grandfather because he and my father had a huge falling out before I was born.  He ended up passing away in 1992, and my father was never able to reconcile with him.  It was terrible not being able to have the opportunity to get to know my cousins.  There were so many moments that my siblings and I have missed out on because of disagreements that were had among the adult family members.  I swore to myself, no matter the differences I have with my family and my in laws, I would never remove them from our children’s lives.  When looking at the full picture, I will always choose to have them with me in my life then to experience life without them.

My siblings and I have always got a long very well.  Especially when we reached adult years.  Any time that any of us needed help, the others were there.  My sister and I can go long periods of time without talking, but I know without a doubt, she would be there for me.  My brother and I were very close….we were in each others weddings.  I always thought my siblings and I were the exception to our family…..that no matter what the issue is, we could make it through it.  We are all in our 30’s now, and never once did we stop talking to one another.

One of the greatest moments of my life, was when my niece was born.  I was so overjoyed for my brother and his wife.  I never knew it was possible to love someone instantly until I held my niece for the first time.  She was so tiny, so precious, so perfect.  She was born into a family that had so much love for her.  I enjoyed being a part of her life, watching her grow and become her own person.

For the first couple of years, I was a big part of her life.  My husband and I would frequently watch her, for two years, I happily gave up my spring break to help them out by watching her.  I enjoyed going with them to playgrounds, to watch my brother play hockey, to story time.  I would even stop over their house to just hang out with their family.

As the years progressed, I noticed that they were becoming more and more distant.  I’d call to see if my sister in law wanted to get lunch with my niece, and she would simply tell me that they were busy.  She’d say “Well Shannon, A is a busy girl”.  She was busy with my sister in laws friends and their children.  In a way it hurt, because my sister in law was one of the top people that I confided in with our struggles with infertility.  For a minute, and only a minute, I thought, well if I had a child, would I be able to see my niece more.

I began to notice a trend with my brother and sister in law.  The only times that they texted or called me was if they needed me to babysit my niece.  I love my niece, and I love spending time with her, so I frequently said yes.  There were times that my husband and I had plans, but we changed them in order to watch my niece.  I never minded babysitting, however, I only saw my niece, I didn’t get to see my brother and his wife.  As this pattern continued, I began to notice a growing distance that was occurring between us.

Early on in my nieces life, I was a huge benefit for them.  I bought my niece gifts, was available to babysit whenever they needed me.  When I babysat, I came to their house, and stayed as late as they needed me.  I would get text messages from them about gifts to buy my niece….they were always “Just Joking” texts though.  Bottom line, they saw value in us because they saw value in what we could do for them.

Last year we began intense fertility treatment, merged high schools, rewrote and entire years worth of Biology curriculum, dealt with failed IVF, found out I had diminished ovarian reserve, husband broke his knee, and many more crazy things.  This year, we began the donor process, worked extra hours to pay for donor egg ivf, I had four students and one coworker pass away……I had some pretty heart breaking year.  I’ll admit, that I had difficulty coping with the heavy losses that occurred.  There were times that I had to pull over while driving because the crying became too much.

I was able to make it through the difficult times with the support of my family and friends.  Yes I went months without talking, but it wasnt just to my brother and his family, it was to everyone.  I needed time to regroup.  My students needed me, and if I wasn’t focused, I couldn’t do right by them.  In the back of my head, I always thought that my friends and especially my family would understand.  Apparently a storm was brewing that I was completely unaware of.

My sister in law, like most of America, is very active on facebook.  There are always weekly posts of my niece that includes events or activities that she took part of.  It was shortly after christmas that my family noticed that she wasn’t posting on facebook…..going weeks….maybe even a month without posting.  My mom asked me if I thought it was a bit odd.  She completely did a 180 in her social media activity.  I told my mom “Well, she’s having bad morning sickness with her second pregnancy, and has a 3 year old to take care of.  Maybe she doesn’t have the time.”  I truly believed that!  Why would I believe anything else.  We had a good relationship with them…..nothing led us to believe that there was anything else going one.

My sister in law was scheduled for a C-section in early June.  A couple of days before her surgery, they told us that they didn’t want anyone to come and visit them in the hospital.  They said that this time around, her room was too small, and that she didn’t want a lot of people crammed in her small room.  I will admit, that I thought it was a bit odd, however, she was the one having major surgery.  I respected her choice, and figured, I would meet my nephew in the next few days.  When they returned home from the hospital and we wanted to see our nephew for the first time we received the following reasons why we couldn’t come over:

Day 1:  We are still getting settled in.

Day 2:  It was a crazy night….still getting settled in as a family.

Day 3:  My niece was having a temper tantrum about going down for a nap.

Day 4: They were going to Target.

They were not just keeping me away from meeting my nephew, they were also preventing my mother, the grandmother, from meeting her grandson.  We were only sent a few pictures of my nephew.  Every picture that they sent us, were also pictures posted immediately on their facebook page.

My sister in law requested to be friends with my mom’s sister on facebook.  One day my aunt mentioned to my mom that there were a ton of pictures posted of the baby on facebook…..that my sister in laws family were seen in pictures at the hospital.  What my family and I came to realize, is that they intentionally blocked us from seeing pictures of our niece and nephew on facebook.  We were absolutely STUNNED, SHOCKED, BAFFLED!  One would assume that a huge argument would have occurred in order for them to do this to us….but NOTHING!

I immediately said something to my brother about it….I tried to keep everything calm…but he came at me yelling!  I think he started screaming as soon as I picked up the phone.  He basically said that I was a horrible aunt….that I dont make time to call my niece…..my head is so far up my butt and I am so self absorbed in my own life.

I will totally admit that I wasn’t the best at communicating but neither are they!  I tried to explain that the phone works both ways, and if he was that upset with me, why didn’t he call me.  He kept saying that this wasn’t about him, it was about his 4 year old daughter.  That I need to call her, that she doesn’t know how to use a phone and he is not going to put this on her.  However, as a parent, why couldn’t he call me for her?

I tried to explain that I would love to do more things with her….like go to the park, go swimming, go to the zoo.  His response was that those activities are just for him and his family.  That my time with her was to be spent being at their house, playing with her, and baby sitting her.  I don’t mind babysitting, I love spending time with my niece, but I also want a relationship with my brother.

During our conversation, I opened up with him about our donor egg journey that began in late December 2014.  I tried to explain how stressed my husband and I were, and how we went through a lot of ups and downs with the process.  When we finally found our final donor, everything happened really fast.  I shared with him that I had a chemical pregnancy in late May, and how heart broken I was to have that much prayed for pregnancy taken away from me so quickly.

His response, “Donor eggs and IVF mean nothing to my four year old daughter”.

I know it means nothing to a four year old, but it should mean something to my BROTHER!  A person that knew how much this meant to my husband and me.  I don’t know why I am surprised by their lack of empathy for our situation.  When my first IVF failed, I shared with them that we were looking into adoption.  Now keep in mind, adoption may be our only hope to become parents…..  My sister in laws response was “well a lot of the kids at my school are adopted and look at all the problems that they have.  Also, look at my aunts three little girls, they have so many issues.  I should have known then……..

After our conversation, I began to realize that something has happened.  These two do not want a relationship with me and my husband.  They don’t love us….they don’t care for us…..they don’t even like us.  He made it perfectly clear that he only wanted to maintain a relationship with me and my niece.

It breaks my heart to pieces……for two people to have such venom towards their family.  I was more than willing to get over things and let time heal the wounds.  But the hateful things that my sister in law said about our family, I am not sure if you can undo that.  She went as far as to post on her facebook that my family is playing games and refuse to see my nephew?!?  She even told my sister that they are going to tell my niece that my sister and possibly me are dead.

I never shared my blog with my friends and family…..so the people that read this are people that do not know my brother and his wife.  I am not at all for putting people on blast to our mutual friends and family members on facebook.  My purpose of writing this is for an outlet, and I figured maybe other women that are struggling with infertility can offer advice.  It breaks my heart to be going through this situation, especially since I didn’t see it coming.

Thank you for reading!

Shannon

The Highs and Lows of Infertility

Let the roller coaster that is infertility begin.

The High:  After looking for almost three months, my husband and I have finally chosen our egg donor.  We originally wanted to go with a proven donor, or one that had children of her own.  However, after looking over profile after profile, we just didn’t find one that we felt a connection with.  It’s kind of funny to say that….but it’s true.  Finally, I came across our donor’s profile.  She’s 22, and is a pre med major in college.  She loves science, the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings movies, musical and athletic.  She’s smart, out going, at times procrastinates (sooo me), and wants to become a fertility doctor.  She is absolutely beautiful inside and out.

Choosing to use donor eggs was a very hard and difficult decision for me.  I am essentially saying good bye to having a biological child of my own.  Never in a million years would I have thought this would be the journey that I would have to take to become a mother.  I truly believe that diminished ovarian reserve is the silent infertility for women.  I never had any signs, symptoms, or indicators that something was wrong with me.  Everything was always normal….within range….typical of a woman my age.  Little did I know that my ovaries were going to fail me one day.

I have come to terms with this and am learning to embrace my journey.  One way that I am doing this is to be open about my diagnosis and the fact that my husband and I are choosing to use donor eggs in order for us to become parents.  I feel by hiding it, I will continue to be ashamed of it.  My infertility does not define me as a person, but it is a part of me.

The Lows:   I often refer to our struggle with infertility as “the infertility bomb”.  Why a bomb?  When the diagnosis hit, so many unsuspecting areas of my life were affected.  When we were first diagnosed with infertility, I struggled on a personal level.  I was incredibly saddened by the fact that I may never conceive a child of my own.  Then the worry, stress, and heartache began to spread to my marriage.  So many doctors have made the comments “Oh, it’s a shame you waited so long to have children”.  What?!?  I was 28 when we began trying!  How is that considered “too long”.  This began to make me angry towards my husband, because he was the one that wanted to wait to get married.  I was angry with him because he has always been in the drivers seat of our relationship…..making the decisions like “when do we move in together….where do we live….what house do we buy….when do we get married….when do we have kids”.  I’ve been the passenger for all of these MAJOR life decisions.  On the other hand, I chose to stay…and I chose that because I couldn’t imagine my life without him.  So if I really did give up my fertile years for him, that was a decision that I made for myself.  Do I regret that decision?  No I don’t.  I couldn’t imagine my life with or without kids, with anyone else but him.

Sometimes friendships struggle with couples going through infertility.  I know when I was going through my treatment, the hormones that I was on made me go through a million different emotions, I felt sleepy, went through terrible headaches, to name a few.  You experience so much emotional and physical pain that sometimes you just want to check out from your social life in order to keep it together in your personal life.  Some friends will understand, some friends wont.

I think the major area that we struggle is coping with the HUGE lack of financial assistance for couples struggling with infertility.  My insurance will cover fertility testing and procedures that will correct infertility.  However, like many insurances, it does not cover treatment to increase your chances of fertility.  Companies look at having a child as your elective choice.  Unfortunately for infertile couples, we choose to have children but have medical issues that prevent us from naturally conceiving children.  Our choice has been taken away from us.  Since 2012, my husband and I have spent over $20,000 on fertility treatments that have been completely unsuccessful for us.  All of these procedures have been paid for out of pocket by us and only us.

Yes, some foundations do offer infertility grants, HOWEVER, because of my diagnosis, I do not qualify for such grants.  If we had male factor, PCOS, blocked tubes…..any possible condition EXCEPT diminished ovarian reserve, we would qualify.

It’s an absolute crime how much couples with infertility have to pay in order to become parents.  If you thought fertility treatment costs were expensive, Adoption costs double!  Shortly after our IVF failed, I called several adoption agencies, and all three agencies starting prices were $25,000.  So before ask your infertile friend that much dreaded question “Why don’t you just adopt?” you should really do the research behind the costs of adoption.  A large portion of that fee goes directly to the agency.  You hear all these stories of children needing homes, yet the price couples have to pay in order to give them that home is outrageous.

States need to recognize that infertility is NOT a choice.  What woman wakes up and says, “Gee, I hope my ovaries fail me one day”.  Businesses/Companies/places of employments need to improve their insurance policies.  If you don’t want to grant us a life time of infertility treatment, then give us a small portion of money to work with.  Some assistance is a lot better than absolutely no assistance.

I’ve seen some couples have started gofundme accounts to try to get assistance from friends and family to help pay for their treatments.  The backlash that these couples have received from their friends and family members have been so cruel.  Their accounts come down just as quickly as they went up.  My husband and I have been very fortunate to have saved our own money, however, we are using our life savings for this.  No vacations, new cars, fancy clothes…..

We’ve chosen our donor= Absolute HIGH and pure excitement!  Yay!  We are getting closer to our dream of becoming parents.  Now we have to come up with $30,000 to pay for this process, that may or may not grant us our dream to become parents= HUGE MEGA LOW!

I feel that my “Lows” are starting to outweigh  my “Highs”.  Every time we take two steps forward, we end of taking five steps back.  The battle of infertility is a constant tug of war.  I am hoping for society’s view on infertility to change….even if it’s not during the time where I can benefit.

Best Wishes!

Shannon

To: My Fertile Best Friend From: Your Infertile Best Friend

The phrase “Walking on Egg Shells” has brought a whole new meaning to me ever since I was diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve.  Broken egg shells come from broken eggs, and I am that woman whose eggs are broken.  As women, we go through many major life transitions.  In our late teens, it was graduating high school and going to college.  Our early twenties brought college graduation and entering our chosen career fields.  Next was meeting our true love and getting married.  Throughout all these great changes, I was so blessed to share them with some amazing women that I am lucky enough to call my friends.  However, what happens when one of your friends is unable to be apart of the next transition of life, having children?

There are two important things friends need to know about their friends that struggle with infertility.  We are coping with two losses.

1.  We are in the process of coming to terms with the fact that we may never carry a child of our own.  After all of our attempts to conceive, all the treatments, the fallen hope, after everything, this dream may not come true for us.  We are questioning all of our life decisions, and wondering what we did to deserve such a difficult journey.  I personally struggle with the guilt that I will never be able to give my husband the child that he deserves….well the child that we both deserve.

2. We are dealing with the loss of the friendships that we once shared with our closest girlfriends.  Over the past two years, I have found that my infertility has become not only emotionally debilitating, but also socially isolating.  I feel like everyone has boarded a ship to leave the island of love and marriage, to move onto the mainland of marriage and a baby carriage.  I apparently have missed the ship and now remain stranded on this island.

From one infertile woman to a fertile woman, hear is my suggestion on how to bridge the growing gap in your friendship.

1.  Everyone is Unique

Hmm..this title fits EVERYONE in the world…..not just women battling infertility.  Every woman copes with this struggle in her own way. I know that you have heard stories from friends about women that are going through infertility struggles.  Some women really do end friendships with their girlfriends that become pregnant, some cry and become sad, others rejoice and celebrate.  The point is, that every woman is unique, and how they cope with their struggles with infertility is unique to them.   The reality is, that many women NEED their girlfriends to help them through this struggle in their life.  She is going through so many emotions, and these emotions will continue.  For me, I felt ashamed of my infertility struggle.  For the first year of trying, I told people that I wasn’t trying.  Then when we went to see our first fertility specialist, I started to open up to my closest friends.  It felt like a weight was lifted off of my chest and I could breathe through this struggle.

2.  Don’t Stop Your Pattern of  Communication

If you share everything with your closest friend, you should continue to share everything with your closest friend.  This includes your pregnancy.  Please don’t assume that she will stop talking to you because you are pregnant.  If she would have been the first person for you to share the news with before her infertility, she should still be the first person you tell during her infertility.  By not sharing, you are unknowingly beginning to shift your friendship.  ”

3.  Know the Participants of Your Conversation

It’s 100% ok for you to talk about your kids and your adventures in parenting.  However, this topic shouldn’t dominate the entire conversation.  I’m well aware that being an parent is such a large portion of a fertile woman’s life.  However, it’s not the only thing that defines you.  I know that the ship has sailed to fertile island and I am currently on my own, but there are still things that we can connect with.  We had common interests before the life altering infertility bomb was dropped.  Take some time in the conversation to include all friends involved in in.  As the infertile friends, I would even be happy to have the conversation pie graph include 75% kids and 25% other.  However, for my fellow infertile ladies, we too must try to interject some non-parenting topics too.

4.  Plans and Play dates

This topic has two points to it.

A.  She understands that your social life will dramatically change as you make the transition to motherhood.  Last minute dinners or shopping may not happen as frequently because of the kids.  First time mothers tend to have difficulty leaving their baby at home and going out with her friends.  She knows this, she understands this.  However, she too is going through a struggle of not being able to become a mother.  You know this, you understand this.  So just as she makes compromises for you, you should try to make compromises for her.  Try to make an effort for a girls night at least once every so many months.  Even if it’s twice a year, I’m sure that she would appreciate the effort.

B.  When you want to create play dates for your kids, it’s ok to extend the invitation to your infertile friend.

-Yes, it’s obvious, she does not have children of her own.  However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to spend time with her closest friends and their children.  It’s okay to extend an invitation to her, the worst that could happen is that she will decline.  Coming from experience, it’s very painful to not be included in such events.  So, in the future, don’t assume that she wouldn’t want to be apart of it.

5.  Most Days are Good, but Bad Days Will Occur

Understand that she may have some bad days when trying to cope with the stress of infertility.  However, there will be many more good days compared to bad days.  As a woman that is currently going through this struggle with infertility, every now and then my stress can get the best of me.  Sometimes I need a day or two to sit back and reflect on all the positive elements that are occurring in my life.  If she shuts you out for a few days, understand that it’s not happening because YOU are Mrs. Fertile!  She’s not just shutting you out, she’s shutting the world out in order to recollect her thoughts.  Remember, she is your friend, and wants nothing more for her friends to have all the happiness in life.

6.  You Really DO Know What She is Going Through!

Sometimes you tend to shy away from her because you feel that you can’t help because you don’t know what she is going through.  You may feel that the only way she can cope with this battle is by talking to that share in her struggles.  If you are a parent, most likely it’s because you wanted to become a parent.  So you, just like she, has always had that dream of becoming a mother.  Just take a moment to put yourself in her shoes.  Your her best friend, you will know the words to say that will help provide her the support that she needs.  Sometimes words are unnecessary…..Just providing an outlet for her to talk to, is a huge way for you to show your support.

So my dear fertile friend, I hope you find this message helpful.  Understand that even though we are going through our struggles, we want you to have all the happiness that life has to offer.  The journey to motherhood is different for everyone, but none the less, it’s a true blessing in life.  As you begin to make the transition into motherhood, remember that we are happy for you.

Bloggers Note:  I know that some women are very private with their struggles with infertility.  In fact, I was one of those women until a few months ago.  For every woman, the fertile and infertile, if you ever have any questions about this struggle and friendship, please message me anytime.  You can also follow me on instagram at ttcbabyprez

Thank you for reading!

Best Wishes!

Shannon

Coping with Diminished Ovarian Reserve

2014 was one of the most challenging years of my life.  One of the main reasons, was learning my true diagnosis, Diminished Ovarian Reserve.  Early on in our years of trying to conceive, we were labeled as “Unexplained Infertility”.  With this diagnosis we had 100’s of options for treatment.  With DOR, your options are greatly reduced, and are significantly more expensive.  I guess making those darn eggs is kind of a big deal 😉  Sorry…just trying to add a bit of humor.

For some of us, IVF becomes the only option….and quantity of eggs is not on our side.  So the decision to go through IVF is a huge financial risk in our case.  My husband and I decided to try it, sadly it was not successful.  Going through the IVF process with my own eggs, did however, provide me with some sense of closure.  I will say, that going through the treatment with Dr. L was one thing I hugely regret….but that will eventually be in a later blog.

After my IVF failed, I hit a very deep depression.  I will forever be thankful that this all occurred over the summer because there were days that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I believe I spent all of July in bed, sleeping away my summer.  I think the pain had finally hit me, that I may never have a child of my own.  I would never give my husband the child that he so desperately deserves.

My husband was absolutely amazing and supportive to me during this time.  On the days that I couldn’t get out of bed, he would often lay there with me.  He’d hold me and reassure me that everything will work out for us in the end.  Gradually he helped bring the light back into my life and made me realize that our path to parenthood wasn’t completely closed.

We began looking into adoption…..then suddenly closed the door after agency after agency had listed the estimated costs between 25-45,000 for one baby.  We soon realize that IVF was still the cheaper route if we wanted to have more than one child….which we really do.

We then began looking into the idea of using donor eggs.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dr. A did say that I CAN have children with my own eggs.  The door is not officially closed to that.  And to my readers out there with DOR, the door isn’t officially closed for you either.  I made this decision to close this door because I can’t go through the physical and emotional pain of another IVF cycle.

I’ve come to terms that I may never have a child that is biologically linked to me, and I am fine with that.  I firmly believe that I will one day have a child, whether its through donor egg IVF or adoption.  I am meant to be a mother, and one day I will meet my child.  From that day on, I will make certain that he or she knows how much they are loved.

I still struggle with the idea that I will lose my ovarian function.  See with my condition, it’s not just the loss of my infertility, it’s the early onset of menopause that I fear.  With this early onset, will come increased risks of diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis.  Then add on all the other conditions associated with menopause.  This condition affects 1% of women….there’s no support group…no awareness week….no websites that help me better understand my condition and what to expect.  The only thing that I can be told is that it can’t be reversed.

What has helped me is Instagram of all places.  Instagram has a HUGE infertility community that consists of a group of amazingly strong women.  Along with my husband, these women have been my life line for support, advice, and strength. I am forever thankful that I’ve connected with them, it’s nice to have friends that understand what you are going through.

Feel free to follow me on instragram at ttcbabyprez

Wishing you all Baby Dust!

Shannon

Choosing an Egg Donor….not as easy as I thought!

So after making one of the biggest decisions of our lives, it’s on to step 2: Choosing an Egg Donor.  The amount and variety of emotions that I am feeling at the moment is surprising.  On one hand, I am still sad that I have officially closed the book on using my eggs for IVF.  If you would have asked me five years ago if I could imagine my life turning out this way, the answer would be no.  Finding out that I have diminished ovarian reserve has been truly heart breaking.  On the other hand, knowing that I can pass this down to my daughter truly frightens me.  I know it’s not like other life threatening illnesses, but it really is a life changing condition.  So, this is one of the many reasons I embrace using donor eggs for our next IVF cycle.

As I search through the donor profiles, I am realizing that I have a very difficult decision ahead of me.  All of these women are truly amazing in my eyes.  These are selfless women that are giving other women an opportunity to become mothers.  I have the greatest amount of respect and love for these women.  I will forever be thankful to the anonymous donor that we choose.  She is giving us the greatest gift of all, a chance to have a family.

Who do I choose?  In a way, I want someone to choose for me.  I know this sounds rather silly, but two days into the search, I am finding out that this will be a difficult decision for me.  I want to choose a woman that is kind, caring, compassionate, and has a strong sense of family.  These “ideal qualities” do not help me narrow down my options.  I think that we are going to take our time, and we will know when we found “our donor”

I will keep you posted on our journey to parenthood!  I want to wish everyone a wonderful 2015!  I truly hope that this will be our year!!

Best Wishes!!

Shannon.

The Beginning of OUR Story

This is OUR story…Chuck and Shannon’s story.  Over the past 3 years I’ve had to remind myself that over and over.  See, I have frequently viewed our struggles with infertility as my fault, therefore, it’s my story.  However, my amazing husband has frequently reminded me that this is OUR battle, so, here is OUR story.

Chuck and I met in high school at a National Honor Society banquet.  See, I wasn’t lying in my profile when I said that I was a nerd.  I truly believe that it was love at first sight for me.  I was always very shy in high school, I really didn’t talk much to the opposite sex.  However, with Chuck, things were very different.  It was actually me that made the first move by giving him my phone number.  From then on, we’ve been inseparable.

We were a bit over-confident in our abilities to conceive a child.  See, nobody on either side of our families have had issues with trying to conceive.  So, we decided to do the responsible thing, and wait until we were financially stable.  We were ready to start trying when I was 28 years old.  So a month past….then two….then 6…then holy smokes!  A whole entire year had passed and NOTHING!

We went to my OBGYN, and she recommended a TSH blood test and a HSG for me, a semen analysis for Chuck.  All test results came back normal.  So it was off to our first RE Dr. L.  Here looked over my medical history and did a follicle scan.  He saw evidence of ovulation in my ovaries….everything checked out normal.  So our diagnosis was “unexplained Infertility”.  So for the fall of 2012 I under went 3 cycles of IUI with clomid….end result…BFN’s all the way.

In February of 2013 Dr. L recommended undergoing an exploratory laparoscopy.  During that procedure, he found Stage I endometriosis, a blocked tube, and a fair left tube.  Endo was removed and blockage was cleared.  He then said, give it six months and you will be pregnant.  Six months later…nothing.

We decided to go for a second opinion with Dr. B at the Cleveland Clinic.  She immediately ordered an AMH test.  This was something Dr. L has never done.  Test results came back that I had an AMH of .62.  Diagnosis=Diminished Ovarian reserve.  I can not begin to tell you what a devastating and heart breaking diagnosis this is to receive.  Not only does it affect my chances of conceiving a child, but it also affects my future.  The idea of going through menopause before the age of 40 just breaks me down.  I am still dealing with the struggles.

In January of 2014, we made the decision to go back to Dr. L.  This was a decision that I would later regret.  There were underwent 3 cycles of IVF.  Because of my DOR, the first two cycles were canceled.  I had follicles, but did not generate enough to risk $10,000 on.  The 3rd cycle we went all the way through.  It resulted in a BFN, with zero embryos to freeze.

I decided to return to the Cleveland Clinic and work with Dr. A.  So far she has been absolutely amazing.  She was kind, open and honest about my diagnosis.  She has told me that I can still try IVF with my eggs, however, donor eggs will be the best option.  She took her time explaining BOTH options to me in clear detail.  With all the information that she has given me, Chuck and I decided to move forward with Donor Eggs.

Throughout this entire process, I frequently looked at it as MY Struggle….MY Fault….MY infertility.  My life has been a huge emotional roller coaster for the past year.  I can truly say that I hit Rock bottom in June when our IVF failed.  I am slowly picking up the pieces and beginning to feel whole.  It’s a slow process, but as my husband continues to remind me, this is OUR Struggle.  This is something that we will go through together, and come out stronger than we were before.