Tag Archives: IVF tips

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.

 

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.

A Letter to My Son as He Turns 2

 

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{One of my fav pics of the two of us // 5 months old}

To My Son on Your 2nd Birthday,

It doesn’t seem possible that the best day of Mommy and Daddy’s lives is that far behind us; it seems more impossible to encapsulate in words all that I feel as I watch you become a two-year-old right before my very eyes. But just like we do everyday for one another, I will try my very best.

I always say that from the very first moment I held you in my arms, I was so proud to be your momma. I would’ve never imagined having the chance to experience that same sensation every. single. day of your life. Do we do time outs and attitude changes? Do we do “No thank you’s” and “excuse yourself”? Of course, but yet still everyday when I put you to bed I’m so proud of the little boy you’re growing to be.

You’ve learned so much over the past year, from walking and talking, to counting and colors. What I’ve loved watching most though is your special spirit emerge and your unique personality shine through. You’re non-stop with the exception of your Nicky-Nicky (aka solid 2-2.5 hour nap).  Your face lights up when you see the ones you love most. When you’re uber excited about something, you scrunch your nose and put your hands under your chin which always makes my heart smile. Our days are mostly fun-filled and jam-packed with activities like library, music and your current fav, ball class with your BF Paulie. Yet, the best times are when I glance back at you in the car and I catch you staring at me as if to say “I adore you,” or we slow dance to country music in the living room. I especially enjoy when it’s bedtime and you say “Mommy stay.  Me lay rocking chair.” You never cease to amaze me with the things you remember, the way you connect with others, and how you’re always even-stephens. When you hold daddy’s hand, you hold mine & when you cuddle with me, you make sure to lean over to squeeze dada every once in awhile. My heart explodes when I hear you say “amen” during prayers and I love the way you wave to our church when we pass by.  I secretly love when someone talks about the pool and you say “Me cry mommy” because you don’t want to be away from me even for a short time. The way your laugh is contagious and how you understand our humor is beyond your years.

You’re a lover of trucks, tubbies and all-day snacking. You’re a giver of huggies, “I love ooo’s” and smirks before you do something fresh . You’re obsessed with Paw Patrol, Dora, reading Little Blue Truck, and playing outside with “me girls” down the street. You’re a creature of habit like daddy and a galavanter like me.  You can’t live without your wuby, hot dogs, lollipops and park trips. And your day isn’t complete unless you have a breakfast appetizer in bed watching your programs and daddy screaming “Not-so-fast”, “Hi-yah” and “one last time” as he shuts the lights for bed.

I can’t live without the sound of your voice calling my name, the touch of your hands on my cheeks, and the look you give me that tells me you know you’re so loved. You’re my day date and daddy’s mini-me. In all the time we spent waiting for you,  I couldn’t have envisioned a more perfect and precious son for us.  You, my child, are so special that every night after I kiss the “crown on your head”, I close your bedroom door and thank my lucky stars that I get to be your mommy.

May your soul always be this pure, your spirit this free, and may your heart always be this full.

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Boy!

The Box on Your Doorstep


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You’ve decided, one way or another, that IUI or IVF is your next step. You’ve had some bloodwork and monitoring and probably some procedures. You may have started acupuncture, meds, researching, playing out every scenario in your head. Everyone has a different “aha” moment during their journey, but I’m sure it’s safe to say when that box arrives on your doorstep you realize this is actually happening-shits getting real.

It can be an overwhelming moment when you open that box and sort through its contents. Your nurses may have muttered off your laundry list of meds and they were probably reviewed again with you when you went to place the order with the pharmacy.

Yet there’s nothing that can truly prepare you for the box itself. There’s needles-💉💉💉lots and lots of needles, an overabundance of medications you can barely pronounce; some that need refridgeration and others that need to be mixed. Gauges and mgs, PIO, and suppositories (if you’re so lucky 🙄) that look like they could last you a lifetime of cycles.

With the variety of baby-making concoctions, comes a myriad of emotions. You’re nervous and intimidated. Will you be able to handle the shots? Should you go stomach or thigh? What if you miss a pill or don’t use the right dosage? You’re angry and self-loathing perhaps. Why do I have to go through all this? Why is this happening to us? What could all these hormones do to my body? Above all, though, you’re excited and hopeful. This box signifies that you’re that much closer to holding your baby. It’s a reminder of how incredible you are to have gotten this far and it’s a filled with endless dreams and possibilities.

Just like you have every step of the way during this up-hill battle: Take it one step at a time. Check that you’ve received all that you were supposed to and check them off as you go. Sort the medications in a safe place and once you receive your protocol organize in a way that makes sense to you. For me, I wanted to make IVF pretty. So, I hit up my holy grail aka Target and bought some fancy shmancy hanging travel bag and put my meds in accordingly (except for the refrigerated ones of course-I actually had to label mine and my husbands because we both had Follistim). Do something that makes it yours-for me it was the aesthetically pleasing storage case. For others if may be to keep all of the syringes and empty bottles for a future pregnancy announcement. It’s one way to make a seemingly unconventional
way of making a baby your own.

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Infertility strips you of ever just being able to have intercourse on your fertile days and missing your period ~14 days later. I HATE that about infertility and I don’t use the H-word freely. I dislike that you don’t get the surprise of a BFP and that even when you are pregnant all of this makes you fearful that it could actually be true. I despise the fact that infertility makes you feel guilty for wanting a biological child or moreover for wanting another. Don’t let the infertility win.

Like Pooh said, “Promise me you’ll always remember.  You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Now go on.  Open that box on your doorstep like a mother 👊🏻😝!

 

Round & Role Call

Lately, my biggest concern going for #2 and another IVF cycle is the fear of it not working the first time around. I know we really lucked out with our first IVF cycle being a success and that the odds of this happening are not at all in any of our favor.

I know what an IVF cycle entails. I’m a pro at taking shots (of both kind 😝), have a good sense of what the numbers mean, and have acquired the patience of a saint. However, I don’t know if I’m equipped to deal with a failed cycle. It’s extremely unfortunate that I’ve been surrounded by unsuccessful cycles recently. My hearts go out to you~you know who you are 💞.

While I know all the appropriate things to say when someone is encroaching or in the midst of an IVF cycle , I’m clueless when it comes to cycles that end in a BFN.  Sure from my experience, I know better than to say things like “well at least you have some frozen still” or “it’ll be easier next time around”. I’ve become very cogniscent of my words and what they can evoke. I try not to undermine what has really occurred and I encourage these amazingly strong women to take time and grieve the loss. I note that my heart is aching for them and that I’m praying for them, but I don’t discuss the next step until they bring it up to me. I try not to say things like next time will be better because I don’t know that for sure. I certainly don’t try to figure out why it didn’t take this time, because honestly who the hell knows. I don’t know what it’s like to see a BFP, only to get declining Beta numbers or to get a positive beta, but see an empty sac. Therefore I cannot give these ladies the validation of articulating what they’re feeling. That said, I’m inspired by you ladies who have the bravery, courage, and tenacity to pick yourself up for cycle #2, #3, and so on.

What I do believe, though, is that you probably go into each cycle taking on a different role of sorts. In hopes of bringing some humor to infertility, I introduce you to my IVF Characters {{drumroll, please}}

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Meet Positive Penny. She’s bubbly and full of spirit. It’s most likely her first cycle. So while she loves to chat about being bloated and show off her bruises as badges of honor (which they are, girl 🏅🏅🏅) she is uber excited about all these cycle milestones because it’s one step closer to getting her baby. Positive Penny knows this is her time. She looks for affirmations and signs along the way, but mostly just has a gut feeling that this is going to work.

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Next, I’d like to introduce, Realistic Rachel. Realistic Rachel is probably a left-brainer, good with numbers and stuff. She’s as excited as she is nervous, but goes into every appointment cautiously optimistic. She never loses sight of her end goal, but realizes that the odds of it working the first time around are much less than 50/50. Realistic Rachel has prepared herself imperviously for either outcome: BFP or BFN.

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Have you met my friend, Aloof Alice?  There aren’t many of her kind ’round these parts, but when you come across one it makes you all like 🤔. Aloof Alice, also typically a first time IVFer, sort of knows what’s involved with an IVF cycle. She’s kind of baffled with all the appointments, acronyms, and bloodwork results. She wants a baby just as bad as her other fertility friends, she’d just rather not scour the Internet incessantly for hours on end. Aloof Alice definitely hasn’t researched tirelessly, she kind of just does what she’s told. She has no idea about fertility herb diets, why everyone has pineapples on their IG page 🍍, and thinks to herself wtf is a #TTCtribe?

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This is Scared Sally.  She’s literally scared shitless about everything.  It doesn’t matter if it’s her first or third round of IVF.  Scared Sally is afraid of needles.  She’s too embarrassed to ask questions.  She follows you on social media but only puts generic quotes, enough to make you wonder is she struggling with infertility too?  But Scared Sally is too nervous to tell anyone and is worried they might think less of her.  She’s scared to POAS before beta, but she’s just as sacred not to.  Even when she gets a beta of 816, she’s afraid it’s not high enough.  She worries at each subsequent appointment if there’s still a heartbeat.  She gets through each test, each procedure, each ultrasound beautifully but she’s scared to see how courageous she really is.  Scared Sally, let me be the one to tell you, you’re a heck of a lot braver than most.  You’re an infertility warrior 💪🏼.

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Last but certainly not least, is Drained, Damaged, Drained Debbie. Drained sounds nicer, but let’s face it’s she’s a bit of both and rightfully so. Usually Drained Debbie has been through the ringer. She’s suffered failed IUI’s, multiple losses, and, if that’s not enough, has also maxed out her IVF coverage. Drained Debbie questions her doctor if changes aren’t being made next time because let’s face it, she doesn’t know how much more she can take this shit.   She may be rushing into another cycle without recovering from the last, but just like the rest of her friends, no matter how drained she is, she’s still holding onto that glimmer of hope.

I wanted to get you better acquainted with these ladies to see if you could relate.  Let me know if I’ve forgotten anyone.  I’m sure I must have.  Not only is our circle big, but I presume that we change roles with each round.  I, for example, was the ever-so-popular Postive Penny the first time around.  To be honest, I don’t know if it was because I was so shocked to actually get to that point or what.  I didn’t really give the whole IVF failure much thought because I was too consumed with if we were even going to have sperm to work with.  This may, in some odd way, have been a blessing in disguise.  It also may have been the reason I wasn’t a Realistic Rachel or Scared Sally.

Given that I’m on the “other side of infertility”, and an IVF First-Timer Success you’d probably suspect that I’d remain a Positive Penny.  I don’t know, though, because my emotions and feelings are so different now.  We aren’t there just yet, but even thinking about another IVF cycle I feel much more guarded, more of a Realistic Rachel.  I’m doubtful that we could get this lucky twice.  My husband and I are so blessed and in such a happy place, raising and loving on our son, that I’m literally more scared than Sally to go back to that place.  That place can be so alienating, life-sucking, and dark that the distant memories still haunt me from time to time.  I’d prefer this happy place of changing dirty diapers, family date nights, and 2,461,085 toddler timeouts for a little while longer.  Yet, just like you gals, I know all too well how worth it going back there could be.

TWW Survival Guide

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I can only speak from my experience and what worked for us during the dreaded two week wait. Regardless of how you tackle it, I’m sure we can all agree, though, that it is an uphill battle. It starts off with the euphoria of knowing your embaby(s) are getting comfy cozy and gradually seems to go slower once you digest your last piece of pineapple core. The first week, thus, is bearable, but the second is intolerable. It’s in the second week that you start to symptom spot, that every ache, thought, motion is either a sign that this is your happy ending or you’re greatest fear: a BFN. The second week goes at a snail’s pace and typically involves an influx of pregnancy announcements and pregnancy test commercials that really test all the hormones raging inside of you.

My recommendation is first and foremost do what works for you and your significant other. Remain in that constant state of infertility: cautiously optimistic. Use these as a guideline, rather than an end all be all, because while I was one of the lucky ones I’m not sure how many TWW’s I would’ve been able to tolerate.

🔸 AVOID GOOGLE

Sounds as impossible as surviving the TWW, I know. However Google is like a woman in the TWW’s crack. It is so addicting and so easy to get caught up doing, but gets you nowhere. If you’ve made it to the TWW, then you’ve done all your research. You know what to anticipate. Searching for “specific symptoms 4dp5dt” will give you no concrete answer. All it will do is make your mind play all sorts of crazy tricks on you.

Go ahead, look up cute maternity dress websites and plan your entire baby shower through Pinterest. But please, my dear friend, do yourself a favor and avoid at all costs using Google to “predict” your outcome.

🔸 N O  T E S T I N G before B E T A

Again, a personal choice, but one I strongly recommend. My husband and I made a vow to one another that we would wait until we received our call on Beta Day. It wasn’t easy but I made sure that there weren’t any leftover tests lingering around the house and stuck it out.

From my perspective, testing before Beta can lead to two devastating outcomes. First, with a fresh transfer, your HCG from trigger can still be recognized on a pregnancy test if you test too early. This could give you a false sense of hope that you’re pregnant when it could’ve been the residual hormone in your system.

Second, you could test early and get that BFP that you’ve dreamed of. It could quite possibly be one of the greatest moments of your life all to come crumbling down on Beta day when your number comes back lower than the magic number. In this instance, you typically have to keep going for more bloodwork to see if the number changes. So basically the TWW becomes even longer and more devastating.

In my opinion, testing before Beta is a complete mind fuck. Just like googling, it’s a dominos effect. If you say you’re only going to test at day 8 and then the line is so faint, you’re anxious to test again at day 9, 10 and so on.

🔸 F I L L  Y O U R   S O C I A L
C A L E N D A R

You may have to swap the Pinot for Pellegrino, but make plans. Girls night outs, date nights, or even coffee outings to help give your mind a break are all welcome. They’re great for keeping you on track, maintaining your positivity and sustaining your sanity.

It may help to talk about what you’re going through or you may opt, especially when out with your significant other, to forgo discussing your infertility altogether. Either way it’s a time to feel like yourself, which is easy to lose when on this journey.

🔸 P U R G E or P R O J E C T

In less than 9 months you could potentially be nesting. Why not get a head start?! It’s true what they say-Clean house, clear mind.

It’s important mentally to rid yourself of some of this excess.  Doing so physically can be helpful too.  Reorganize those cabinets you’ve been meaning to for the last 7 months.  Or maybe you can start and actually complete that DIY project you’ve been meaning to tackle.  Either way, they’re both a wonderful strategy for making the time pass while being productive.

🔸 P R A Y

Cliche I know, but I’ve noticed the overwhelming amount of faithful ladies amongst us.  Regardless of how you pray or Who you pray to, prayer or meditation of some sort can be a source  of peace.  If not for yourself, do it for your little embryos that need you in a place of calmness.  It’s also a way to connect with yourself and your embaby(s).  In my experience, the majority of our TTC tribe use prayer as a way to cope with the pain and suffering of infertility.

🔸R E W A R D   Y O U R S E L F

At the point of the TWW, you have done everything possible to make this work. Maybe you’ve done acupuncture, changed your diet, or tried fertility herbs. Maybe you’ve eaten the pineapple core for 5 days or worn socks since transfer day, even if it’s 90 degrees out. Whatever it is you have done, you’ve done it to the best of your ability. Reward yourself for that-a handbag, a daytrip, a good book, a piece of jewelry (obvs my top pic 😝💎).

No matter the outcome this time around, remind yourself that you’ve done everything in your power to make this work.  Know this, honor this, applaud this.  You are a warrior and not everyone can say that.  More importantly, not every child can say that about his or her momma-but yours child-to-be can.