All posts by opanmal3

Four Simple Words

Earlier in the week, I ran into someone I know. We don’t know each other all that well, but well enough to stop, kiss hello and chit-chat. We know about one another’s kids through Facebook and definitely have circles of friends in common. When we went to embrace one another, we started with the normal ‘haven’t seen you in awhile’ and ‘you’re kids have gotten so big’ banter, and then she said “I pray for you.”

Four simple words with such a profound meaning. She went on to say she follows my posts and reads the blog {so if you’re reading this right now, know how much those four simple words touched my heart}. We went on to other topics, but I couldn’t wait to run over and tell my husband what she had said. I couldn’t wait to share that incredible gesture. He responded of course with gratitude, but he was not nearly as affected as I was. It had almost stopped me in my tracks. Maybe because every night with our son we pray for others who are struggling, some we know initimately & others we barely know. But it never crossed my mind that others out there were doing the same for us. Sure I’ve been told that before, but never by someone outside of my close circle and never so raw and genuinely.

Her words spoke to my heart and it came to me. Quite often, I get messages or am asked personally how someone should respond to their friend or loved one struggling with infertility. I’ve read some other bloggers’ pieces addressing the topic and could go on and on for days about things not to say. I have always wanted to come up with some advice of my own to blog about, but wasn’t quite sure I had the answer myself. Or at least I didn’t until the other day. You see, four seemingly simple words can have such an incredible impact- “I pray for you.” “You’re in my thoughts.” “I’m here for you.”

At Wednesday’s infertility meeting, I brought up what had been said to me and how it warmed my heart. I opened it up to the group to give their input about what they found to be most touching. Essentially, it was not advice that was wanted, but rather some validation or words of encouragement. Through our own experiences, here are some additional things someone struggling with infertility would like to hear.

• I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.
• That must be so devastating/painful/unbearable.
• You are so brave/strong/inspiring.
• Don’t give up/quit/lose hope.
• You will be an amazing/incredible/fabulous mom.
• You deserve for this to work.
• I am sorry you have to go through this.

There’s nothing magic about these phrases. They seem pretty standard, right? But how often do we offer advice (“Just relax…”, “My mother’s sister’s dog’s friend did IVF, “Have you tried XYZ?”) instead of just validating the way the person is feeling. You’re angry because your cycle failed? You should be-I’d be pissed. You’re drained from all of this? I don’t know how you do it. I wouldn’t even be able to function. You cried when you heard so-and-so who never wanted kids is pregnant? If I were you, I would’ve cried too and drank myself into oblivion. You declined an invitation to a baby shower around the time it would’ve been your shower if you hadn’t miscarried? Good for you. That’s not selfish-that’s called taking care of yourself.

The greatest way you can support someone struggling with infertility is to do just that. Support them, encourage them, reassure them that their feelings and actions are warranted. Check-in with them. If they told you they have an appointment in July, they want/need/crave your text to say thinking of you/hope the appointment went well/how’d you make out?

It may appear at times like we don’t want to talk about it.  And on some days that will be true and we will gently let you know.  However the majority of the time, it feels good to talk about it.  You may ask, “How are you?” and get a simple “Good.”  But if you suspect that behind that smile we are in pain, press on.  “How’s everything going with trying to get pregnant?”  Chances are a bottle and a half later of wine {unless we are in the midst of a cycle} we will still be going on about what we’re dealing with.

There’s an understandable uncomfortableness when it comes to talking about infertility.  It’s a sensitive, and often seemingly private topic.  Avoiding it altogether, though, does nothing for us, the ones struggling, and you, the ones wanting to offer support.  If not acknowledging  it in conversation, a simple text, holding of the hand, or hug can help too.

Studies indicate that the levels of depression and anxiety in infertile women are the same as cancer patients. Am I here to compare the two? Am I saying they’re the same? Absolutely not. All I am saying is that there is a significant emotional component that infertility entails, much like any disease.  But your words can have such a phenomenal and lasting impact.

When I reflect back on my journey, I’ll never forget those in my life who’d remember an appointment or send an encouraging quote my way.  Even now, I appreciate when someone checks in to see how things are going and where we are at.  So thank you for being there then, thanks to those of you following along now, and thank you for those four simple words.

Back on the Infertility Train

So I apologize in advance because this was an overdue post in keeping you up-to-date in where we are on our journey (or should I say re-journey, journey Part II, journey to #2, re-mix journey 😂).  Regardless of what we want to call it , I already feel like I’m right back on the infertility train.

To refresh your memory, it took a little over a year of hormone therapy for my husband before we could proceed with TESE and align it with an IVF cycle. After getting pregnant with our son and then his glorious arrival, my husband stopped all medications and I never pressured him to follow-up or continue taking them because let’s face it-this shit sucks. And we were in a happy place with a well-deserved hiatus from needles, shots, bloodwork, doctors appointments, result phone calls, insurance appeals, and so on. Do I regret it-a little bit because now it’s like starting back at square one, but it’s what we ALL needed.

So here we are at square one. Last summer we began discussing when we’d take the big leap to hop back on the bandwagon. My husband casually told me he was going to make an appointment after his birthday. That was last July. His birthday came and went. Then so did mine. Our 8th anniversary passed and so did our son’s second birthday. He didn’t want to discuss it; I never knew the right time to revisit it and randomly I decided to make an appointment for him at the urologist in November to get the ball rolling. Well two cancelled appointments and five months later, he finally went the day after Easter.

I was pleased that rather than prolong the inevitable with analyses and bloodwork, they immediately started him back on his regimine. I figured last time they had to find the formula that worked and this time they knew that from the start so we are ahead of the game, right?!? 😳 Is there even such a thing in Infertility? I guess not because no sooner than the prescription was submitted, I was already running into issues. Three different medications were being prescribed from two different pharmacies. One was at a local pharmacy which I found odd because basically any controlled substance is foreign to them. But I assumed that the PA must’ve prescribed it there for a reason, possibly insurance-related. That was my first mistake-assuming.  Four physical attempts to get it, my husband’s word that he knew how to reconstitute it, the doctor’s confirmation that he could actually do it himself, and countless back and forth between the doctor’s office and the pharmacy later, we finally received the first med, HCG. It’s an 11-day supply mind you.  So last month I had to call to re-fill and pick it up 3 times.  Ya know, since I don’t have anything else to do.  About a week after, the pill, Arimidex, arrived by mail and I figured I’d give the follistim a little more time. I thought I’d demonstrate some patience and faith that it’d actually get here. Again, I realized that it could never actually work that way so I began the dreaded game of being transferred from one “patient advocate” to the next.

It’s being processed ➡️ We don’t have that patient’s name in our system ➡️ You can only get these meds through Freedom Pharmacy according to your insurance ➡️The doctor has resubmitted it to that pharmacy ➡️ Oh sorry ma’am this hasn’t been processsed because we couldn’t get ahold of you. The doctor gave us their # not yours. ➡️You should be all set. ➡️We need a a prior authorization from the doctor. ➡️The doctor faxed the prior authorization. ➡️We haven’t received anything from the doctor according to our notes. ➡️Your husband has to go for bloodwork in order for them to approve this. {👆🏼 Basically insert tears here because all of this time wasted and now the battle of getting him to quest for bloodwork} What the $&@”!? what? Like shouldn’t someone have known this 5 weeks ago when this was prescribed? Oh and ➡️ We need a separate prescription for the needles and syringes…and another co-pay of course 💸💸💸.

So basically more than halfway to our next follow up appointment, hours upon hours of time gone from my life waiting on the other end of a doctor/pharmacy/insurance call and we are still one medication short.  This is what infertility looks like. On top of dealing with all of the other facets of infertility, there’s always this. I was on the verge of losing my shit and breaking down into tears on the phone with the last phone call. So much so that she asked to put me on hold because she felt badly and didn’t know what to say. Patient advocate? Nobody seems to be advocating for the patient or even remotely helping to make any of this process any easier. I said it the first time around and this very early onset has proven once again that it’s like a part-time job calling/dealing/following-up with the pharmacy/insurance/doctors 24/7. On a positive note, my two and a half year old can now spell the first half of our last name from hearing me repeat it so many times.

This ain’t for the weak is right. You have to be so efficient, so on top of your (and everyone else’s) game all the time in order to keep things together, when physically and emotionally you can barely keep the lid on the pot. And that -all in addition to everything else thrown your way-life, pregnancy announcements, the latest fertility diet trends, AF arrivals.

As we have re-boarded the train I feel so grateful that there are so many others aboard with us. The head nods, comments, other raw stories about what this experience entails are validating and somehow knowing you’re far from alone in this makes it a little easier. So far, I’ve laughed, gotten angry, and even shed a tear that it has to be this difficult, but I know firsthand how worth it the final destination is.

 

The Day We Put the Crib Away

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//disclaimer: don’t worry, I never put him in there with the bumpers//

By now you’re familiar with the crazy deadlines and plans that are unavoidable in my head and in being open about this I’ve come to learn I’m not alone.  So it should come as no surprise that getting rid of Mikie’s betrothed “wuby” and saying goodbye to the “cribby” was imminent. Awhile back I had decided that we would do this simultaneously. Call me insane. Maybe ruthless. Or possibly guilty of lazy parenting. Hear me out before you decide. My rationale was both of our sleep was going to be effected so why deal with that on two separate occasions. Call it what you may, but it seemed logical to me. I spent weeks upon weeks prepping him for the departure from his pacifier and when the time finally came it really was heart wrenching to see him take a little suckle of the three remaining”wubys”before parting with them. He changed into his new PJ’s, became acclimated with his big boy boat bed and even gave it a few test runs while our immediate families were over. When it came to finally going to sleep for the night, he didn’t make any mention of the wuby.  It turned out  it was transitioning out of the crib that was a lot harder than anticipated…for us both.

We reminded him of the new Paw Patrol toy he got for going in his big boy bed, gave gave some extra minutes for playing with some toys now relocated in his room, and a few reassuring hugs, but the tears continued to be shed for his “cribby”. It wasn’t until I went into a long rambling to explain how he was still sleeping on the same mattress as his crib that he could be consoled. I explained what the crib meant to us before he was born, when he was just born, as he grew and now outgrew it. As he became reassured that he was still safe, he drifted off to sleep all while my head became flooded with what it meant that today was the day we put the crib away. The tears poured uncontrollably from my eyes, in a way I’ve never experienced since becoming a mom.

Before the crib, I thought of the countless nights spent sobbing silently at the edge of the bed while still dreaming of what that room would look like as a nursery. I had picked out the crib during one of the many sessions I spent scouring nursery designs and envisioned how it would be the focal point of the room.  Picking out the crib and its adornments somehow kept me hopeful that someday it’d come into fruition.

When we eventually got pregnant, the crib was the first real purchase we made for baby. It was so symbolic that this was actually happening for us-that it was actually our time. It was the first piece set up in the nursery and Mike used to read to my belly as we rocked and stared at the wrought iron frame. There was something so pure, something so relieving about seeing a crib finally in there.

After coming home with our son, the crib became even more meaningful. We had our first scare, the initial night we put him in there to sleep.  Once we were all ready for him to permanently sleep in there, we began our nightly rituals.  Frequently, when he was sound asleep, we’d tip-toe back in there to hold him in our arms in complete adoration.  He resembled an angel as he slept so peacefully, coolie up, each night.

He grew and grew and grew until he would try and lift one leg over the side and we knew the end of the crib was soon.  Eventually, as he became a toddler, it became filled with blankets and snuggly stuffed animals rather than that bare space when he was just an infant.  It became his place, a safe-space to cool-down, unwind, and regroup from time to time.  I’d open the door to give him one last peak before bed and seeing him in there would remind me of my abundant blessings.  I would think back to those days when I longed to see a sleeping baby in there and how those dreams I had so long ago, had come true.

Yet, as I laid there that night beside him it wasn’t just the memories that had me overcome with emotions.  It was also what putting the crib away meant.  In the same way I hadn’t prepped Mikie for the transition, I hadn’t prepared myself.  I wasn’t sure if disassembling and storing the crib that day was an “I’ll see you again soon” or “goodbye forever”.  I’d imagine for any parent this is a hard nut to swallow, but it can be even more upsetting when it’s not your call to make.  Would we ever again be setting that crib up to welcome another baby into our home and hearts?    Would I ever again be holding onto the crib bars, swaying  while carrying a new child in my womb?  Would I ever again spend sleepless nights consoling an infant, gently rubbing his or her back as I hummed a familiar tune?  Would we ever have the chance to pick up a baby from that crib again in the middle of the night just because we craved his or her touch?

The day we put the crib away was not just closing a chapter in Mikie’s life. It may also have been closing the door for good to ever having those experiences again.  Like my innocent two-year old, the impact of what putting the crib away meant was unforeseen.  However his resiliency has left me in awe.   Never knowing if you’ll have this time again, makes you cherish every precious moment as they come, and might possibly be why I am laying down in his big boy bed every night to put him to sleep 😉.

 

Listen Up

//this post is dedicated to my aunt and my way of thanking you for my life lesson//

April marks National Infertility Awareness Week //April 23-29, 2017// and as part of it’s movement to rid the stigma that one in eight of us faces, Resolve spearheads a theme every year. If you remember, On Prayers and Needles was nominated in 2016 for the Hope Blog of the Year based on last year’s submission to “Start Asking” //linked here http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/startasking/ //. This year’s theme “Listen Up” is an effort to get our voices heard, to impact legislation to provide sufficient and universal insurance coverage, and to breakdown the barriers of infertility.

When I first glanced at this year’s theme, “Listen Up”, I could’t help but retreat back to when I was in middle school.  At the time, my aunt had introduced my parents to essentially some life-coach organization that offered seminars for adolescents.  I never really understood the point or gave the experience much thought; however something did resonate with me that I even reference now as a thirty-something-year-old in my own life experiences. I remember a long, drawn-out discussion of how we all have rackets in our life, be whatever they may, significant or insignificant, and that we tend to have expectations of how others should behave within these certain instances. The point that I’ve carried with me all this time is that while we may assume that somebody should respond in a certain manner, that is completely out of our jurisdiction. We can only control our own actions and reactions; not the actions of others.

It got me thinking of this year’s theme. In a perfect world, I’d expect that everyone would “Listen Up” when it comes to infertility. If everyone were to “Listen Up” they would understand the loss and devastation an infertile couple faces in being unable to have a baby the most natural way. They’d think before they said something like “Why don’t you just adopt?” and be more conscientious of their actions. If people were to “Listen Up”, they’d empathize with the pain pregnancy announcements, baby showers, and ‘Reserved for Expectant Mothers’ signs can inflict. They’d acknowledge that miscarriages, failed cycles, infertility diagnoses, chemical pregnancies, and stillbirths all require grieving time. If the world would “Listen Up” they’d recognize that surrogacy should be legal and insurance coverage for infertility should be available for all couples regardless of their sexual orientation or where they reside. They’d respond in a way that would cause a monumental shift in how infertility is perceived and the shame and isolation associated with this disease would be dissolved.

In essence, my expectation would be that as a whole, the realm outside of infertility would understand, think, empathize, acknowledge, recognize as if they were 1-in-8 and they’d respond. Yet, that life lesson I was given almost two decades ago has taught me that I cannot control the actions of others; only my own actions and reactions. So while I cannot force them to “Listen Up”, I can “Speak Up”. I must use social media platforms to “Speak Up” and get my success story out there so people can realize the struggle infertile couples face and the need for change. When at work or out for happy-hour, I must “speak Up” by sharing our journey openly so that infertility becomes a socially acceptable topic of conversation. I must participate in walks, advocacy nights, and other events to spread awareness and “Speak Up” within my own community.

Not only must my actions “Speak Up”, but so too should my reactions. When receiving push-back about undergoing In Vitro Fertilization , I must “Speak Up” and let it be known that no matter what my nationality or religious belief, my God wanted me to be a mom and everyone is deserving of that opportunity if they so chose. When someone asks when I’m going to have another, I must “Speak Up” and say “we struggle with infertility” and “our first is an IVF baby”. When an acquaintance advises that I should be content with the one child I’ve been given, I must agree that I am blessed and then “Speak Up” to remind them that they wouldn’t say that to a fertile couple wanting to grow their family.

I’ve come to learn, infertility happens to be a racket in my life. I cannot change the circumstance, only the way I react to it. I cannot expect you to react in the same way; nor can I force you to “Speak Up.” I can only hope that in choosing to “Speak Up” the world will “Listen Up”.

Infertility Support Group Recap

👆🏼C R E D I T:  resolve.org

As most of you know, last wednesday we held our first infertility support group meeting. So many of you graciously reached out to ask how it went and were so encouraging in this endeavor that I figured a recap was a must!

By now, you’ve probably realized that while I love it, blogging isn’t something I had initially planned on doing until a friend (who is way more knowledgeable and skilled in this domain than I) explained the benefits. A monthly, local support group was my priority; however she recommended that I get my story out there for people to learn and relate to before they’d ever be ready to join an in-person group. She could not have been more right and I’m grateful for the advice. This blog has become such a passion for me and something I look forward to doing (when I don’t have piles of laundry at nap time, get lost for hours on Instagram, or fall asleep before 9). It just feels so natural for me to open up to you all that I really didn’t think a support group would be that different.

That was until hours before it actually happened… I had rehearsed in my head over and over what I would say and how the get-together would play out. The plan was to explain how I’d come to this point of starting a group and emphasizing how I am no where’s near a licensed social worker or fertility expert. I wanted to give the abbreviated version of our journey so that everyone could have the opportunity to provide as little or as much of their own story as they felt comfortable. Then, if time permitted, converse about a topic. For the first meeting, I kept it light with e-cards related to infertility and the things we hear that drive us crazy(ier).

Yet, right before and all during the meet-up, waves of anxiousness and insecurity came over me. Did I share enough of my story? Or not enough? Was I talking too much? Am I too all over the place? Do other support groups look like this?

Maybe I wasn’t ready for this. Sitting behind a computer re-editing my words was so much more in my comfort zone. I’m always eager to see the response and read your sweet comments once I post and I’ve never doubted what I’ve said. Leaving that meeting I could not have felt more different. There was something so vulnerable about being face-to-face discussing something so fragile. It helped to see some familiar faces.  There were lots of laughs, head nods, and even some tears that made me think it was okay, but I couldn’t quite gauge how it went. It was written all over my face as I walked out with some of the ladies to my car. So much so, that one of them (who initially reached out to me as someone whom our circles have crossed but now, thanks to this, has become a new friend) called me as I was on my way home. She reassured me that she thought it went well and that, in fact, I was helping her and others. I couldn’t have appreciated her phone call more, but I still tossed and turned for hours that night. Did anyone get anything out of the group? Was it what they expected? Did I offend anyone or say anything wrong? Will they come to another meeting? I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.

Not so long after, I awoke to my human alarm clock ⏰but those thoughts weren’t put to bed. The only thing that could ease my mind was following up with the ladies who so kindly showed up. Some I had started to message the night before and the rest I either shot an e-mail or text to to thank them for attending. The more I read their responses, the better I felt. Don’t get me wrong, it was in no way about stroking my ego that I had done something good. I wanted to know that taking this leap made a difference in their lives after all. Once I stopped dwelling on what I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done different, I decided to take the responses I’d been given to see what was actually accomplished that first night.

🔸Complete strangers opened up to one another about one of the most sacred/scariest/sensitive/intimate parts of their own lives.

🔸Overwhelmingly, the ladies in attendance said it was so nice to realize they’re not alone-not alone in infertility, and the thoughts and feelings associated with it.

🔸Everyone left with something that they hadn’t known before they came.

🔸Doctors names, medication side effect, and a lot of “I know exactly what you mean” advice was exchanged.

🔸A variety of infertility-related topics were touched upon, including:  dealing with things you hear when struggling TTC and how to cope, different IUI/IVF protocols, how friendships can be affected, who & how injections are given, procedure experiences and recommendations, the constant rearranging of your life, sadness in not having control and the option to choose when you’re finished having kids,  insurance obstacles and coverage, & handling the never-ending pregnancy announcements.  This was just to name a few…and within just a few short hours of meeting one another.

🔸And most importantly to my shocking surprise, most of them can’t wait to meet again!

It was so nice to connect, & reconnect with you ladies.  I was overcome with the familiar nervousness last week that I had when walking into a procedure, waiting on results, meeting a new physician or nurse; just like those times, it was worth every doubt and second-guess in the end.  Much in the way that I can instantly recall all the poignant moments in our infertility journey, I will always remember you and that first infertility support group meeting.  Now we are part of one another’s village.

Unblocked

I’ve admittently had writer’s block recently. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog; it is just that I’m not quite sure what you need to hear. Being “out of the game” so to speak makes it a little more challenging to journal. So I reached out and am so appreciative of the response I’ve gotten. I even started to draft on a few of the topics suggested to me, but then it happened…I was unblocked.

Let me start off by saying, for those of you already blessed, two is magic. At least for us, it has been. Since he’s turned two, Mikie has slown down a bit. Everything I used to cram into two hours of nap time I can sometimes tackle while he’s “reading” or playing independently in his toy room. Two also means there’s a lot more activities we can participate in on weekends. Discover the Dinosaurs came to the Convention Center in Hartford, CT last weekend and just happened to be the best experience yet. There was so much for him to do and explore and he was old (tall) enough to enjoy all there was to offer.

I couldn’t have been more impressed with the event…or more unblocked. I was surrounded by pregnant people. Literally every female there was pregnant in some capacity, new little bump to full-fledged this baby might fall out if I have to run after my kid in that Dino-jumpy. No matter where I turned there was another pregnant mom. So much so, that my pregnant sister-in-law who went with us turned to me and said “Literally everyone here is pregnant.”

Literally everyone except me. It’s not that I’m even completely at that point of bump envy. I swear, I’d be the first to admit if I was. I am currently awaiting the arrival of my niece and nephew just months apart and know that will be the “fix” I need. Yet, that’s all I needed to spiral back into the midst of infertility. Just being surrounded by pregnant ladies was enough to make my head start spinning. My mind started racing and analyzing…her first looks so much younger than Mikie…oh my God she’s on her third in the same time I’ve had one…should I already be pregnant?…have I let too much time gone by? The plan in my head started to get the best of me. Where I thought I’d be and where I am are different. And I am wholeheartedly okay with that until I’m physically reminded. Moments like that can bring me back to infertility in an instant. So much of infertility is letting the plan in our head affect our present. For minutes, I let that happen.

Then, I had to reel it back in. Infertility has robbed me of so much. I wasn’t about to let it rob me of living in the moment and enjoying this experience through my son’s eyes. I had to consciously take in what was around me and react differently. Don’t get me wrong-it took looking for other parents of only children and seeing expectant moms of 4+ year olds to remind me it’s all going to work out. But I was able to do it. I was able to rid myself of the anxiety that surrounded me and enjoy the day with my miracle child.

In that moment, I was reminded why infertility never escapes us even when we’ve overcome it. I recognized why secondary infertility must come with so many layers and how sometimes the plan in our head is our own worst enemy. I also realized how strong I am and how far I’ve come. Granted I have my son, but a year ago I started feeling the angst of infertility. My brain started trying to dictate to my life once again, to no avail. This might sound crazy, but instead of going church week after week (or most weeks-church going with a two-year old aint easy) and praying for another miracle baby, I started to dialogue with God differently. Rather than ask for another child, I started to ask that my heart be full with the one I’ve been blessed with. It is not that there aren’t daily reminders of this; it’s moreso that my heart had been unsettled. I’d say that at least the last 8 months or so I have felt that fulfillment-that my heart is at peace . While I would love nothing more than to grow our family, I am grateful for our son and so excited for the anticipated gift of our niece and nephew-which will be the closest thing to me having a newborn if I never get to experience it firsthand again. I’d be lying to you, or more importantly myself, if I said I didn’t still drift into nursery design and christening planning daydreaming. Something in my inner-core tells me it will happen again for us. I am faithful and am positive. Yet, just like last Sunday at the Dinosaur Experience there are times when I am tested. There are times when I feel weak and vulnerable and let infertility get the best of me.

In the end it’s about finding the balance. There are times when I’m blocked because I am so busy enjoying the infertility baby I’ve been given. Then there are moments, in which, I am reminded all too well that we are one in eight and I’m suddenly unblocked.

Why a Support Group is For You!

If you’re just tuning in, this whole baby blog of mine originated because my main purpose is to get a local support group up and running in Connecticut. No matter where I go, there are flyers for every type of support //addiction, grief, breastfeeding, divorce, raising multiples//. Yet, not even in my OB office or RE clinic, have I ever seen a flyer offering infertility support. Why is that?

The answer is two-fold. First, it’s because there’s shame, embarrassment, possibly religious reasons, but essentially an abounding stigma regarding infertility. Second but why? Why when 1-in-8 couples are struggling does this need to continue to exist? Why are we any less in need of support? Is infertility not a grief or loss? Is it not quantified as a disease?

I often struggled with this myself because I’d say “it could always be worse.” But could it? For me, becoming a mom was my notion of a fulfilled life for as long as I could remember. So while it’s a different battle than something like cancer or death, living a childless life, for me, felt like worst case scenario. There’s still an undeniable pain, a grieving process that comes with infertility, like any diagnosis. I think the more we accept and acknowledge that, the more open we’ll become to receiving support.

Here are 🔟 reasons why a support group is for you:

1️⃣. You can share as little or as much as you’d like.

This is your group, your support system. You can choose to open up as little or as much as you’d like about your infertility. You choose your level of comfort, no questions asked.  And it doesn’t matter where in your journey you are because we can all relate.

2️⃣. Nobody knows what your experiencing other than someone who has or is going through it themselves.

There’s something about infertility that binds us as women. Not even our spouses can fully grasp the daily inner dialogue we struggle with. It’s consuming and exhausting. Hearing that someone else is experiencing the same emotions and anxieties as we are is so validating. A support group would offer you this opportunity.

3️⃣. Your hope can be restored by the success stories of others.

I love to preface our story by saying we had a 0% chance of having a baby without interventions. It makes the girl on the other end think 💭”Hmmm. If they were able to have a baby, so could we.” Success stories are what kept my faith alive that it’d be our turn sometime. I’d google every possible combination ‘success with MFI’ ‘BFP after TESE’ ‘IVF with ICSI success rate” I’d go on an on. I want to be that success story for YOU!

4️⃣. The answers will be there for you.

You won’t have to use Google or an online group of women in the UK as your answer guide. You’ll have a table full of women with a) either the same questions or b) an answer to your question.

Did you do gonal or follistim? Do I have to change the gage on this needle? Where did you do your injections? Did you do them yourself? How many follicles did you get? What were your side effects?

Imagine the satisfaction of being able to ask all and get an answer, without having to wait for a typed reply.

5️⃣. Consider it a ‘girl’s night’ & ‘me-time’
all-in-one.

We all agree we need at least monthly ‘girl’s nights’ and ‘me-time’, right? What a better excuse than attending an infertility support group. It’s a win-win in my opinion.

6️⃣. It’s completely confidential.

One of the common excuses I hear is we are keeping this private. You can do this while still participating in a support group.

There’s no exchange of emails, phone numbers, even real names if you don’t want there to be. Your attendance and what you share is completely confidential. I promise I won’t set up a banner saying “Resevered for the Infertile Girls”. This makes me think, we probably could’ve had our own table in high school. #allgirlhighschoolproblems #yourtableislife #wheremySHAgirlsat

7️⃣. The best advertisement is word-of-mouth.

I know my RE is saying ‘amen’ 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 to this. Seriously, though, this is one of, if not the most, important choices in your life. What better way to decide on a fertility clinic, urologist, oR OBGYN than to hear first-hand experiences? Maybe you already have an RE but are not sure if it’s the best fit. Connecticut is small and there’s just a handful of fertility clinic options. Someone’s personal referral might just be the ticket to your destiny.

8️⃣. It takes a village.

Build up your village by increasing your circle. There’s such a sense of relief in knowing there are many there for you when you fall. Use them.

9️⃣. Be part of the movement to spread infertility awareness.

If it’s right for you, we could use our support group to increase awareness and advocate for better infertility insurance statewide. We could become the voice of infertility in CT and a small part of the bigger mission of RESOLVE, our national infertility awareness organization.

🔟.  You could make a difference in someone else’s life.

You could be ‘that’ person for someone just by showing up.  Enough said.

So where my CT girls at & who is with me for a first official support group meeting in March?!

Hello From the Other Side

Whoa I know! Who’s this girl posting twice in one week?! It’s just your standard new year overachieving which I’m sure will subside by mid-February 😝. Let’s be real-by way sooner than that!  Truthfully, though, I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block the last few months. It’s been three years since we underwent IVF and thus even longer since we started our infertility journey. Sometimes being out of the fertility intervention game means that I’m not sure exactly what you need to hear at this moment that will resonate you. So any topic suggestions would be greatly appreciated please!

Pondering this got me to thinking that it might be interesting to read what your future holds, once you’ve beaten infertility, or are on the other side of it so to speak. Of course, just like every journey to parenthood is different, so too is the aftermath. I can only speak to what life after the birth of our IVF miracle has been to us. Much like the struggle itself, I’m sure the post-infertility-battle is pretty similar in terms of emotions and outlooks.
Here are 1️⃣0️⃣ things to know about being on the other side of infertility.

1️⃣ People will still ask you when you’re having another, even if they know about your struggle TTC #1.

Its not something that I mind at all personally.  I just find it kind of funny that immediately after you have #1 {which took a bigilllion days/months/years} people are already wondering when you’re gonna pop out #2 and they almost always remind you not to let too much time go in between kids.  If only that were in our control right?!

When people unknowing of our situation ask if and when we’re having more , I usually just say “Hopefully if we can, but we have significant infertility issues.”  I love when that turns into hearing their own personal infertility experience, which you’d be surprised how often it does!

Other times, I am sure you can guess what they say!  “You never know.  Sometimes people have to do IVF with their first and then they get pregnant on their own.”  🙄 Insert my thought 💭:  Yes, that can happen, but not for us and our issue.  Moral of the story is people still say stupid shit when you’re on the other side and even when they know about your infertility.

2️⃣ You will refer to your RE as the closest thing to God.

Because he or she is, right?!  They got you pregnant, despite X, Y, and Z (fill in the blanks: PCOS, DOR, Endometriosis, MFI, Unexplained Infertility).  Ironically our doctor is Dr. Gad Lavy of New England Fertility Institute (http://www.nefertility.com) so my husband always jokingly says, “In Gad, we trust.”  Can I get an amen 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼?

3️⃣ You will want to help anybody that says they’re dealing with infertility.

Even if you overhear a complete stranger in front of you at Starbucks, you will feel inclined to tell them that you’re an infertility success story.  You can’t help yourself because you remember all too well how stories with happy endings helped you keep the hope alive.  You want to do that for someone else.  And, those times, when you feel embarrassed, or don’t have the courage to speak up, or you were in a rush because you didn’t want your baby to fall asleep in the car before making it home, you’ll stew over it all day long.

Not only will you want to help them, but you’ll want to “fix” them too.  You’ll spew off your doctors names and numbers, ask if they’ve underwent an HSG yet, and basically put your RE hat on because by now you’re an expert.  Then you’ll give your email and contact info if they ever need anything because there’s an unspoken bond between infertiles, even if you’re perfect strangers.  No matter if you’re in the midst of it or you’ve overcome it, we stick together.

4️⃣ Talking about your struggle with infertility is less emotional.

Before becoming a mom, it was really, really hard (borderline impossible) to utter the words pregnancy, baby, infertility… without tearing up.  You’re just a constant ball of emotions that could unravel at anytime.

On the other side, it’s alot easier to talk about your battle, the ups and downs, and ins and outs of your struggle.  It’s still a heated subject, but I can get through it tear-free usually.  Sometimes the happy tears flow.

5️⃣ You can still instantaneously put yourself back in that place.

When you hear or read something someone’s saying about their trouble getting pregnant, you can immediately put yourself in their shoes.  It’s like you’re  flooded with all the feelings you felt when you were there.  You can feel that same fall-to-your-knees despair you did the day you found out you were 1-in-8.  That same lump -in-your throat nervousness will overcome you when you think back to waiting on results and Beta day.  Pictures of BFN’s, waiting room selfies, and follicle monitoring ultrasounds will still get you every. single. time.

6️⃣ Words still hurt and pregnancy announcements still sting.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty certain I’m not alone.  Even after becoming a mom and having my turn, pregnancy announcements or hearing someone say they’re starting to try again still jabs me a little.  I think it’s less to do with the other person because honestly I’m so happy for them.  I think, just like the initial go-around, it’s more just having a little pity party for myself.  Like, I wish it were that easy for us.  I wish we could have an oops or just decide to try again and fall pregnant.

The thief of comparison still rears its ugly head too.  For example, if someone posts that they’re pregnant again I can’t help but think to myself that they’re first is half of my son’s age.  It usually involves some social media detective work and calculating, but I can’t help myself.

7️⃣ You’re like rain man with the dates.

I barely can remember what I did two days ago or someone’s name that I run into shopping.  Yet, I can, without hesitation, spew off every significant date of our journey.

October 14, 2014: received diagnosis of Azoospermia

February 20, 2014:  Egg Retrieval & TESE

February 23, 2014:  Transfer

March 10, 2014: Beta Day…

October 24, 2014: Birth of our baby boy

8️⃣ You cherish every moment because you’re not sure you’ll ever get the chance again.

Don’t get me wrong, sleepless nights, teething, and tantrums can ware anyone down.  Yet you recognize the pure blessing every waking (& sleeping) moment is that much more.  Not only will you never get that moment in time back with your little miracle, but you don’t know if you’ll even get the opportunity to experience it with another baby.  So, this helps to put things in perspective when you’re up to your ears in shit and spit-up.  It also makes you spend more money because what if I never have another to put this romper on?!  I gotta get it now before he’s too big for it. 💸💸💸

This too shall pass, but at the same time you wish you could put it in slow motion.  Every milestone, achievement, glance at baby toes, and every time you go to pack away stuff they’ve outgrown is a moment you don’t take lightly.

The best advice I was given for my wedding day was to every once in awhile, take a step back to look around and take it all in (Thanks Jen 😘)!  The same applies for mommyhood.  Every once in a while, usually during the most ordinary day, I take a step back to savor these precious and all-too-fleeting moments.

9️⃣ You will be able to reflect on your infertility journey in a much more meaningful way.

Similiar to numbers 3️⃣-5️⃣, being on the other side enables you to look back on your struggle.  In some ways you see it exactly as you had experienced it and in other ways you see it thru a different lense.  Dare I say it, could the wait have been what we needed?  Could it had been a lesson we needed to learn?  Was it all just God’s plan because he needed extra time creating our baby and molding us as parents?

I’m still not sure and flip-flop back and forth on my feelings.  I do know for certain, though, that I was destined to use my struggle and success story to help others in the same situation.

1️⃣0️⃣ It’s so worth the wait.

Bottom line.

What I’ve learned most from being on the other side is that infertility changes you forever.  Even after you’ve overcome it, it never escapes you.

 

 

 

New Year, New Feels

{Starting the year off on the right foot with my Pineapplade Pineapple + Grenade Courtesy of Bucketshoes}

Holy crap, guys, has it really been a month since I last posted?!? That’s the longest since I’ve launched the blog. Between my x-mas shopping list for the southern part of the state (not much of an exaggeration), organizing and attending various holiday festivities, the baby’s first fever and the hubby working ’round the clock 🕰(#retailwifeproblems)-oh and chasing a two-year-old all day errday, December had me like 😳🤒😰🏃🏼‍♀️⚡️🏎🆘. No excuses, just letting you know where I’ve been.

So that brings us here to January! A new year brings all the new feels. Seriously, I’ve been like this odd merge of the energizer bunny and an overdue pregger with the purging after a three-day hiatus of jammies, Nick Jr. 24-7 & non-stop medicine. First ear infection for the babe, make that a double, and then catching some sinus/ear thing myself. Thanks, winter-I ain’t mad at ch’ya though. I actually look forward to January and February because in my head I think things are going to slow down and there will be more days at home staying cozy. Thus far, 2017 has been great to us. We’ve enjoyed catching up on family time, visiting with out-of-town relatives, and starting some new projects. New year goals are re-doing our living/family room space, getting more organized and simplifying (I mean that’s a standard every year gotta make the list thang), new venture to expand On Prayers and Needles and finally get the support group up and running…and dun, dun, dun…the moment some of you may have been waiting for-starting the process for baby #2.

I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been part of my plan since Mikie’s arrival-maybe even before. I’d really love to do an IVF cycle sometime in the late spring/early summer. But then reality smacks me right in the face. It’s January and we haven’t had any infertility related appointments since we graduated from our RE in April 2014. Should we have? Most certainly, my husband should’ve had a post-op follow up. We should’ve had him continue on the hormone therapy. We should’ve probably been monitoring all along. But that shits hard. It ain’t for the faint of heart and we were finally pregnant, then finally parents and who wanted to be bothered with appointments, bloodwork, and tests?

We should’ve, would’ve, could’ve done a lot of things differently knowing we wanted to try for at least one more. But we didn’t. If you’ve ever faced infertility, you know why we didn’t. Once you’re finally expecting you want to savor every single second of the experience. You’re literally, as with any expectant couple, on cloud-9 and by no means were we going to let infertility strip us of that too. Then there are those incredible first days in the hospital as a family, followed by months and months of new beginnings, new milestones and pure joy. The last thing we wanted to think about was our infertility. I wish I could say out of sight, out of mind; however, at least for me, it’s always been there in the back of my mind.

The old me might have felt guilty saying that. I might have even apologized for still wanting more. Yet, I’ve come to realize that that is not something I should be embarrassed to say. If a fertile couple wanted a second child, nobody would give it a second thought, so why should it be any different for us? Yes we’re blessed beyond belief and immensely grateful for our miracle child. But yes, we are allowed to want to grow our family, or at least give it another shot-well shots if you want to speak literally.

The biggest issue is that my husband and I have the same final destination, yet as one of our besties put it we “have two completely different approaches about how to get there.” We’re a good team because we always want the same things and have a common goal, but he’s the dreamer; I am the realist. He creates the ideas and I execute them. I’m type-Aish and he’s somewhere in C/D land if that’s even a thing. He’s the procrastinator and I’m the ahead-of-deadline meeter . A perfect example is since re-enrollment for insurance was upon us, I called the insurance company to ensure our coverage and which of his meds and procedures were covered. That would’ve never even have crossed his mind. And usually thats okay and it works for us, but in the case of TTC baby #2 it doesn’t. I can make the appointment, but he has to go (which he hasn’t TWICE since November). I can do all the legwork, but if he’s not there it’s basically pointless.

I know many of you are probably reading this thinking if he really wants another baby he wouldn’t have cancelled. And I get that-it’s even crossed my own mind. The truth though is that he wants it’s just as much as me. I’m certain of that and anyone who knows us personally can attest to it, but infertility sucks. It’s sucks the life right out of you. From that first appointment comes a daunting sequence of events that vaccums you into a deep dark hole. He doesn’t want to go there. He knows it’s worth it. He knows there’s no other option. He knows he’d do it a thousand times over just to get our sweet babe, but he knows what it’s like. In some cases being familiar makes it easier, but, at least for us, that’s not the case.

I can’t help but to forgive him because I know he doesn’t want to jump off this happiness ship we’re on to start drowning, and maybe sink. I know where he’s coming from, but I also know if we want this, which we do, you can’t get from point A to point B without ever starting out. From my perspective, it’d be so much easier if we were proactive so that it didn’t get to that point when we wanted a second baby yesterday. So it’ll be interesting to say the least to see how and if we get there this year.

New year, new feels. I can’t help but feel positive and hopeful that this will be the year I will be pregnant again. It’s how I’m wired to think, just like I’m wired to want to plan it in my head. It makes it a little easier knowing you’re all here though, following along on our journey. I think having this support and community will make our second time around different than the first and for that I get all the feels 💞🍍😍🙏🏼😘👭👶🏼✨.

Share Your Story

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What has amazed me the most since launching this little baby blog of mine last February, is how just sharing your story can make the difference for someone. If I run into someone or get a message and they commend me, I almost feel silly. All I’ve done is put our journey out there to give someone who’s in the trenches of infertility some glimmer of hope. It’s really quite a simple thing; yet as they say, “Sometimes the simplest things, can mean the world to someone.”

I have to admit, in the midst of our struggle, I was not always so forthcoming with information. However that was more to protect my husband’s privacy. Truth be told, I needed to share/discuss/vent/scream from the rooftops, that we were going through hell and might not even come back with a baby, but that was not his wish. I respected that and kept the details to a select few, which was one of the hardest parts for me. I wanted to talk more about what we were going through for so many reasons.

Mostly, it’s not good to keep it all bottled up inside. It just lends itself to a breaking point, which I had my fair share of. I vividly remember having a complete breakdown during a family spa day after the holidays. We were anticipating our next appointment before the end of December and it was as if I had kept it altogether for the holidays and just couldn’t take another second of putting on a happy face. Some minute thing set me off. I broke. I fell apart. I was embarrassed. I felt weak and guilty. I thought I hope these people {my husband’s family and extended family whom I am extremely close to} don’t think I’m nuts, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. Holding it in without discussing what was really happening and what I was really going through became too much. I had my go-to people, even some that had dealt with infertility to talk to openly but I wanted these people-the people I was around 24/7, holidays, birthdays, etc. to know what my days and nights were like (as much as someone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand can). The constant stream-of-consciousness playing in my head became too much and I needed to get it out.

Opening up and sharing your story is cathartic. Even though I’ve been much more public about our struggle after the birth of my son, there is still something so therapeutic about putting it out there. In hindsight, I’ve come to realize that even just pen to paper can be rejeuvenating. I wish I had journaled more, documented more details, chronicled the steps more closely and more often. Definitely will the second time around…

Sharing your story can be a scary thing. You’re afraid of opinions, judgements, and possible backlash you’ll receive. You’re not looking to be pitied or for your friends to avoid you about pregnancy/baby/mommy things. Sharing your story is more something you need to do for yourself. It’s almost invigorating, the sense of relief when you put it out there. You’ll find you will receive some nice gestures, such as prayers and lending ears. Then will come others who have been where you’ve been or are in the midst-some you may know about and others that leave you shocked. Yet, just by you telling your story, they’ll feel comfortable enough to confide in you about theirs.

On a larger scale, being open about infertility gets the dialogue going. It shows that all of us 1 in 8 are united in spreading awareness and promoting advocacy. It will help to relinquish the stigma and isolation associated with infertility and the more stories, the more arsenal we have for legislation to cover IVF and other fertility treatments.

I understand and respect the choice to remain private about your struggle. It’s a very delicate matter, but I strongly recommend that in some capacity you share your story. Whether that be keeping a journal, writing it in a letter that you throw in the ocean, or sharing your story on social media. Maybe there is a friend you’ve been contemplating talking to or an acquaintance you know who has been through IVF that you can reach out to. Creating a TTC/infertility-related Instagram account is also a good way to share what you’re going through, while keeping it private from people you may know personally. If you’re not at the point in which you’re ready to go “public”, write your story to me onprayersandneedles@gmail.com. It’s completely confidential and you can remain anonymous if you so choose. Along the same lines, if you have any questions/concerns/are in need of advice, support, prayers, I often put anonymous posts on my Instagram @onprayersandneedles. I’d be happy to post about anything fertility-related for you.

I just know how powerful sharing your story can be. If not for yourself, do it for someone else in whatever way you feel most comfortable. I can assure you, though, that it will be a turning point in your journey. As much as it can mean the world to someone else, it can change your own world too.