Tag Archives: IVF

Waiting for the Ball to Drop

I’ve said I’d keep you posted and where have I been? I’ve at least been trying on my insta stories but I don’t think unless there were a videocamera following me constantly that I’d be able to truly depict what this whirlwind is like.

It’s finally here…CYCLE month. It’s been well over a year coming and honestly it’s the last couple of months that have thankfully gone the quickest. Almost so that I can’t believe it’s finally here and the nervous excitement that goes with that is in full effect. If I could possibly sum up where I am right now it’d have to be “waiting for the ball to drop.”

Mike had his most recent appointment with his urologist at the end of April and much to all of our shock we were finally met with good news-sperm. During our initial journey they never found anything except dead swimmers and that was after the sample was spun. His numbers are completely different and not for the better, but we have something in a sample. I can’t make sense of it and am still trying to wrap my brain around how it’s happened this way. All I can attribute it to is some kind of miracle or good karma come our way. It was also just what Mike needed to get him feeling as positive and hopeful as I’ve set out to be. Yet it has also given him another excuse to prolong things in any attempt to avoid surgery. And that brings us to today…everything had been going so well I was waiting for the ball to drop.

I’ve been on birth control that last three weeks, with headaches and break through bleeding every single one of them. So much so that I was concerned that I might have had a cyst rupture but I was brought in for an ultrasound the end of April and everything looked great. Today was my follow-up appointment from then as I took my last pill Saturday and Aunt Flo showed up in a timely fashion yesterday. Of course that came as a shock because when does she ever come when she’s supposed to? ‘Komkk But an even bigger shock was that I’m supposed to be starting meds in days and insurance has yet to give authorization.

As luck may have it, having this support group and little girl gang of mine, I had some donated meds and knew just who might have the rest of what I needed. I’m overflowing in gratitude for one of my friends who has generously donated her leftover meds to me so that I don’t have this added pressure of scrambling to order and then fighting to be reimbursed by insurance. We actually knew each other for many years back and our paths crossed again because of infertility. If I didn’t already know it, today proved to me that we were meant to reconnect. On top of it, she left me a little note that brought me to tears. It was just what I needed in the moment. Crisis averted.

My DH on the other hand, seems to be dropping bombs let alone balls. He’s really not all in this time around. I don’t know what it is. He’s at the same appointment, hears the same phone conversations, yet his own fears are so overcoming that he can’t just let me have this moment. Many of you reading this know him personally, so for you I don’t have to reiterate  he’s the greatest and most certainly loves me and wants to give me the world. This is not going to make or break us. Tomorrow marks 17 years together and undoubtedly we’re meant to grow old together. But I write about this for those of you in a similar situation.  Maybe you’re doing this alone, or your significant other is deployed, or maybe you’re like me, feeling as though you’re making a baby by yourself.  I say this not for pity, or to stick my husband out.  I’m writing this just to say it happens.  Infertility and going into an IVF cycle is hard enough.  Feeling this was makes it even shittier.

This is not how I wanted to make babies.  I wanted to be whisked away on some romantic getaway and have too much to drink and be surprised two weeks later with a missed period.  I didn’t want to be poked and proded, dealing with insurance and early morning monitoring.  I wanted the chance to plan some grandiose reveal to my husband to let him know we’re pregnant, not wait on bated breath for a phone call to reveal our fate.  I wanted to have one baby and then another and another and dress them is matching outfits as they frolicked together during summer nights on the beach.  I didn’t want to avoid bringing up the topic of having a baby brother or sister with my son out of fear that I’d let him down and not be able to give him siblings like his other friends had.

But I have grieved the death of that and come to terms with the reality of how we can make babies.  And while it’s not what dreams are made of, I am equipped for it.  I don’t mind it and I’ve conciously decided the first time and now again to make the best of it.  Scheduling appointments and finally getting to that day brings me joy.  I’ve decided to make lemonade out of lemons because regardless of how it happens I just wanted to be a mom then and now a mom again.  I’m excited.  I’m hopeful.  I’m eager and positive.  I’ve chosen to do all the things-eliminate caffeine and alcohol, clean eating, acupuncture, vitamins, all the old wives tales because they bring me some happiness in how I can hopefully bring another babe into this world.  I want to take my husband, shake himand say “Can you just give me this?”

I’m okay though because I’m surrounded by the best of the best.  I’ve been sent pineapple packaged retrieval and transfer day socks, given pineapple trinkets, and I’ve gotten more check-in texts than I can count today.  My friends, my family, this community, my support group girls-you’re all there keeping the excitement alive for me this cycle.

The first time around, our story wasn’t really out there and so my husband and I had to rely on one another.  We were both experiencing it for the first time and didn’t know any better than to be excited.  This time around is different because my support circle is so much broader, yet we’re somewhat distanced.  I know so many of you are not yet public about this battle, and you may or may not feel like your significant other is getting it at this time, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  PM me on FB or Instagram or email me because it’s time like these we all need each other.

My husband will rise to the occasion.  I’m certain of it.  Most likely after his surgery is behind him because that seems to be what’s holding him back.  In the meantime, I won’t let that keep me down and I will continue to be grateful for my circle.  Fingers crossed we will get the prior authorization.  And God willing soon enough, this will all be just a distant memory.  He’ll say “I’m sorry for being an asshole, babe”.  I’ll say “I’m sorry I told the world you were an asshole in a post”.  We’ll have a good laugh about it and I won’t have to worry about the ball dropping anymore.

 

Baby Steps 👣

In an effort to be raw and authentic and really share what infertility is like, you’ll be hearing from me a lot more this month. That is because we are getting close…really close to something actually happening finally. I’ve been so, so excited. Maybe because it is in the early stages or maybe because I’ve been waiting for a green light to do something, so the fear, anxiety, etc. etc. hasn’t set in. It’s just sheer joy thinking about potentially having another baby. Don’t get me wrong that’s a long stretch and the odds aren’t in our favor, but I just can’t help but smile about it.

That was until last week at an appointment with our RE.  My husband’s next urologist appointment is at the end of the month. At his last appointment we decided that we would reconvene the end of April to schedule the same surgery he had when we had our son. This is better known as our last resort. Our last resort the first time around brought us our son, though, so I can’t help but be hopeful.

I wanted to be proactive and set up a consult with our RE before that appointment to get all my ducks in a row on my end, as to not hold up anything. When I spoke to the nurse she thought that would be the best choice too and so I scheduled it over a month and a half ago. Every day, I’d be overcome with some sense of excitement that it was inching closer. Basically making lemons out of lemonade until 5 minutes before the appointment when my husband decided to throw out some sny comment about it being rushed and him not really understanding why were meeting. Insert 🙄😡. I saw red when he spoke but decided on giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was just his anxiety related to the whole situation getting the best of him. But it made the whole appointment take a turn. My excitement completely replaced by disappointment. My hopefulness completely turned to doubt.

The outcome really was the same: 1) contact RE when my next period starts (which of course all infertiles know will not happen when it’s supposed to because I actually want it to show) 2) go for day 3 bloods and 3) begin birth control thereafter. This is all the prep work leading up to an egg retrieval that if all goes as planned will be aligned with my husband’s surgery in May.  Disclaimer: As all infertile also know, the plan doesn’t usually go as it should.

Yet I left disappointed. Yes, did I get everything I wanted-I did. But it just wasn’t how I envisioned it going. It was supposed to be an upbeat, positive first real baby step to grow our family. I felt as though my husband took that from me and the doctor too. I love him and am forever indebted to him for bringing us Mikie, but he too turned the appointment in a direction I hadn’t seen it going.

At first he couldn’t understand why we were there and then once I explained and advocated he agreed that some monitoring and birth control would be a good idea. He said I was “too anxious” though.

I’m sorry husband and doctor, but this has been awhile coming in case you both haven’t noticed-like well over a year. But maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re not the ones dealing with insurance, calling doctors appointments and pharamacies multiple times a week. You’re not the ones fighting back tears when someone mistakingly thinks you have more than one child and you’re not affected in the least by a pregnant bystander or another pregnancy announcement. You’re not the ones rearranging your life plans-big and small-all revolving around a potential shot in the dark cycle. To be blunt, neither of you are really fighting the good fight.

And maybe anxiousness took over as my excitement was deflated; however you must’ve missed that this is our only shot-literally-at having another child, of growing another human inside me, or giving Mikie a sibling. So I’m sorry if my questions and self-advocacy mistakingky come off as me being anxious, but beware there’s a lot at stake.

Last week put a stake in this process for me and I’m having a hard time bouncing back. I’m starting to worry, now also, that my son is sensing it too by his behavior. I’m sure it’s really all just three-year old related stuff, but I can’t help but to go there. When you’re so close to someone they can’t help but feed off your vibe. And my vibe ain’t good at the moment. It will come back eventually #bitchdontkillmyvibe.

Infertility is killing my vibe big time. I ugly cried a lot in the last week. I wanted to share with you those tender moments, but even the pretty filter couldn’t fix my face. And it feels as though the moment I attempt to get myself back up, I am knocked back down again. First it was a call from the nurse that their prescription wasn’t accepted by the pharmacy. Next I go to the pharmacy because I’ve been told it’s resolved and of course it isn’t. The pharmacist has basically given up on me. Even she can’t deal with this BS of never getting a straight answer from the urologist. It may seem minimal but I’ve wasted so many hours of my life the past 6 plus months dealing with doctors offices, pharmacies, and insurance that could’ve been time and energy better spent. And that’s exhausting. It’s draining. It comes to a point where it’s unbearable. As if not being able to have a baby isn’t obstacle enough, there are just bumps after bumps. Each one seems like another blow , a strong-willed attempt to let you throw in the towel, but then I remember all of you out there still fighting the good fight.

I’m the success story telling you it’s so worth it. I’m the one saying don’t lose hope-it will happen. I’m the one advocating stay positive. But in the moment especially, I am now telling you it’s so hard. So so fucking hard. I just want to know am I having another kid or not? I don’t want to be stuck and re-envisioning month-after-month.  I’m at that point where something’s gotta give-where getting back up is getting harder and harder.

And so many of you are still trying for your first baby. So many of you have had a longer, harder battle to start your family. I know if before my son, someone would’ve described journey to #2 like this I would’ve said “At least you have one.” And while there is truth in that, it still doesnt stop these feelings from surfacing. It doesn’t lessen them and clearly I haven’t gotten any better at coping with them.  Now, on top of it all, I live with this guilt that I’m asking for more. This shame that by wanting #2 so badly makes it seems as though my son is not enough. It’s just not what I had envisioned.

Today’s happenings were just not as I had envisioned either. On a muccchhhhhhh smaller scale, we taped a shoot about Mother’s Day as part of an advertising piece for my husband’s retail business. My three-nager suddenly “forgot” his age, said the best thing I make is a peanut butter sandwich, my name is another Anthony and he loves me because I buy mashems 🙄.

Not what I envisioned him saying and as they asked me questions such as what is it like being Mikie’s mom and what does Mother’s Day mean to you my true responses evaded me. I was caught up in real-life motherhood, sort of disappointed in his behavior, trying to problem-solve the best way to regroup him.

I left kicking myself. I should’ve been sterner. I should’ve let my sister in law go first so he could’ve known what to expect. I should’ve of course mentioned my sentimental jewelry when they asked about homemade gifts. When questioned about being Mikie’s mom, I should’ve been able to encapsulate it in words, not some cliche response. I should’ve said these are the best days of my life and being Mikie’s mom is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Talking about Mother’s Day I should’ve said for me it’s a day to reflect on how lucky I am to have been given this gift & most importantly I should’ve mentioned that it is a day to celebrate all women. It’s a day to show our appreciation for all the women in our lives who inspire us-our mom’s, grandmothers, sisters, Godmothers. Mothers old and new, expectant and of course those in the waiting. Possibly in a subconscious state I wasn’t equipped for this topic at the moment or maybe it was the fact that I was breaking out in a sweat wrangling my little monkey.  Either way it didn’t go as I had envisioned.

All these visions, you see, both major and minor are keeping me from bouncing back-from restoring my joy as we physically begin to embark on making baby #2. I’ve gotten good at not being mad that I can’t get pregnant the way I envisioned, but that’s about it. All the other things I can’t help but envision and even the slightest hiccup further derails me.

All this said to give you an update on our baby steps and to keep this real AF as promised. Infertility is basically equivalent to throwing every vision you’ve ever had out the freaking window and that’s hard, especially for us as women. So just as I told my son tonight as I kissed him to sleep, tomorrow we are going to do better. I am not going to envision it because that just seems to be a set-up, but tomorrow is going to be better…baby steps.

Hope

Hi friends 👋🏼. I had intended to be more active on here and yet I haven’t checked in since January. To be honest what seemingly should be a slower time of year has been crazier than ever and down time is at an all time low. In some ways the chaos might be a blessing in disguise as it makes time pass at lightning speed and doesn’t give me much time to get “stuck” on infertility.

Nonetheless as we’re on our journey to baby number 2, I’ve come to realize a couple things. I’m not doing myself justice by being absent on here because I have always said I wished I had blogged during our initial journey as a release and a way of not feeling so alone. And here I am now, having this outlet, and not using it to cope.

I’m also not doing any of you justice by being so sporadic in my posts. I had only started blogging as a starting point for a local infertility support group. Now that I’ve gotten that up and running, I’ve abandoned the blogging a bit. But lately I’ve been receiving many messages from ladies who aren’t in Connecticut and I’m doing a huge disservice to you if I am not sharing on here. So I apologize for that, especially if you so kindly have been following along as you’re embarking on your own infertility battle. For those of you who’ve reached out to me, thank you for reminding me why I need to continue on here and I’m so humbled that you’ve found our story as a source of hope.

That’s the power sharing your story can have-giving someone the invaluable gift of hope.  At times in the realm of infertility that’s all we have to hold onto which makes it all the more sacred.  But infertility is chalk-filled with peaks and valleys that even when hope has gotten us through, there’s always a reality check that knocks us back down.

As for our journey to baby #2 I’d say I hit my lowest valley around the holidays.  It’s not an uncommon time for an infertility rut to rear its ugly head as we all know.  But, as we all know even more, there’s no way of controlling it.  When the infertility rut strikes, it comes full force and nothing can really stop it.  Within our support group (which meets the last Wednesday of every month for you CT locals), we’re constantly wracking our brains on ways to cope or suppress the darkness infertility can cause.  And while we’ve yet to find a cure, we’re all in agreement that just staying connected with people who get it, makes it a little more bearable.  Getting someone’s validation that it’s okay to sit a baby shower out or hear that they too often wonder if they’re not meant to be a mom helps us all come to the realization that we are not alone in these thoughts-these relentless, mind-sucking thoughts that not even our significant others can wrap their heads around. Regardless of how long we’ve been on this path, what interventions we have and haven’t done, whatever our diagnosis, it amazes me how we’ve all at some point had the same isolating thoughts and feelings that can only come from the curse of infertility.

So moving forward, my goal is not only to provide that support within the group, but also here, for all of you who have stumbled upon my story.  I don’t believe you’ve done so by chance.  I believe we’re meant to have connected, whether it’s just my words speaking to you or us eventually talking to one another.  In order to do so, I’m going to do monthly recaps of our Infertility Support Group Meetings.  Each meeting I try to set forth a topic to discuss.  Well we are a bunch of women so you know how that goes, but I always leave feeling like I’ve taken something away-maybe it’s a diagnosis I’ve never heard of, a new vitamin that’s been proven to improve AMH, or just something someone in the group has said that left me feeling my hope has been restored.

Yes, even after overcoming infertility, hope can flee from you.  We’ve already received our miracle.  How could we possibly ask for more?  It was too lucky that it worked the first time.  It can’t possibly work for us again.  We are four years older.  Our son in three and a half.  Maybe our window has come and gone.

Its in those moments when I need to hop on here and blog because that is infertility real talk. I am failing you and myself by not using this platform to share how hard the road is.  It’s so much easier, and downright safer, to talk about it once it’s behind us.  In the moment, the emotions are so raw they’re often hard to encapsulate in words.  Yet, you all get what I’m saying and the minute I hear you talk about a part of your journey-the day you found out, your initial consult with an RE, your egg retrieval-I can instantaneously bring myself back to those moments which bring me to tears.  Tears of joy, tears of empathy, tears of relief, tears of hope that you’ll someday be here on the other side.

And when you do get here, which I know you will, I would love to tell you it goes away.  But I’d be lying.  It’s better. Oh so much better as you hold your baby or toddler whom you never knew if you’d ever meet.  But it doesn’t make it all disappear the way you’d think it might.  Somehow pregnancy announcements still feel like a punch to the gut.  You’ll still think that maybe you’ll get a natural BFP when you’re a few days late because how often do we hear those stories the second time around.  The feeling of being “stuck” will soon catch up to you as you see your son or daughter go off to school, as all the other moms have another baby in the backseat.  You feel as though you’re throwing your lifelong vision of three little toe heads in matching outfits out the window and cannot fathom why everyone else on Instagram has that. And you still feel hurt by comments of unassuming strangers like “Time for another”.

It doesn’t go away.  It is a little easier in someways and not so much in other ways.  You still have peaks and valleys of infertility ruts and wonder what it’d be like to not be trying, but not be preventing it from happening.  And your hope is tested, but you have a tangible, precious reminder each and every day of why there is reason to be hopeful when most would say all hope has been lost.

That is some of where my heart and head have been lately.  However after my husband’s appointment in January with his urologist I’m in a much better state of mind.  We have a plan in place.  Isn’t it amazing how just a plan can renew your optimism and alleviate some of that angst?  The timeline is to continue my husband’s hormone therapy for a few months and reconvene at that time to see if any thing has changed and regardless proceed with a second and final TESE. This of course will be aligned, as it was the first time, with an IVF cycle so I’m excitedly making appointments with our RE to get the ball rolling.  It could be as soon as a May cycle.  I want to keep you all updated here, but know there’s a sensitivity in all of this.  I’m sure there may be some things kept private, but I promise to be as raw and real and open about the emotional aspect as I can be-for the both of us.  At this point, I need you just as much as you need me.

I can’t help but get caught up in the realness of it all-the good, the bad, the known and unknown.  My mind wanders to when and how we could announce another pregnancy and then I quickly come back down to planet earth and realize how unlikely another first time IVF cycle success would be.  So basically even if your on your journey to baby for the first time, I still feel your same feelings.  I still think your same thoughts.  You are not alone and my hope is that you know that 💞.

2017-2018

December 14, 2017

I’m literally stopping myself dead in my tracks to sit down and write this. Amidst the chaos of the season, there’s toys to be wrapped, gifts a mile long still to buy, decorations still left to be hung. And then there’s life-clothes to be folded, closets to be cleaned, dishes to be put away. The list goes on and on all the time, but especially this time of year. How often are we reminded to make sure to stop and take care of ourselves?

Well let’s just say me stopping to write this is me doing something for myself. It’s been almost three months since I last wrote something on the blog. And my excuses are just the same as yours and everyone else’s. Aside from those, the blog’s purpose was to launch a local support group and I can proudly say that has been going strong since March. Our little group has come so far and been through so much in almost 9 months (I write that and can’t help but to correlate it to pregnancy). There have been many friendships made, advice exchanged, tears shed, and recently an adundance of {overdue} successes. 🙌🏼🙏🏼💞👶🏻. So, to some extent, I haven’t felt the need to blog since so much of my focus has shifted to the support group.

It also doesn’t help that three months later since I last wrote, I’m still in the same spot in terms of our journey to baby #2. I felt some momentum as I posted our RE-initial consult and updated SHG in early fall, but it quickly came back to a screeching halt. I feel as though I haven’t written because there really isn’t any update. Contrastly, that’s precisely why I should have been writing and am now taking a time out to do so.

This blog wasn’t in exsistence when infertility and I first met in 2012. Time and time again I’ve said I wish I had this blog and this community the first time around. And here I am doing the same thing I did the first time around. I’m in baby limbo and that’s when infertility hurts me the most.  I am in an infertility rut and not using this blog and community in the way I need to for me.

Fast Forward ⏭

January 1, 2018

I am literally starting where I abruptly left off writing this post {3} weeks ago (thanks to a premature nap wake-up).  While the hustle and bustle and pure magic have helped relieve the constant infertility thoughts in the back of my head, they’re now back full force.  And that is why I’ve come here to write.

To say we enjoyed the holidays is an understatement.  A three -year-old at Christmas fell nothing short of what I have imagined for so many years as I yearned to have a child to share in these joys and traditions with. BUT…(my husband squirms at this) it’s still there.  I’m finding myself right back in this infertility rut that I cannot shake.

I began writing this post because I always said I wished I had this outlet the first time around and here I am now, almost 4 years later from the time of our first IVF cycle, and I find myself doing precisely the same thing I did before-trying to keep it all together on my own.  I feel as though I’m drowning, which in turn makes me take more on to busy myself from my own thoughts, only to make me fall deeper underwater, grasping for air.  It’s not what I would qualify as depression, just more of this thing that takes up space in my life.   It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind, taking up brain power, taking up free time, taking up memory.  It’s almost subconscious.  It’s not debilitating; nor does it seemingly interfere with my daily happenings, but it’s there.  It’s always there.  The more time passes, the more it surfaces.

To catch you up to speed, my husband has now been on his med protocol for over a year.  However it’s really been touch and go.  There were lots of issues with one medication in particular so he’s been on the full protocol much less than that time.  I’ve lost hours upon hours trying to deal with the vicious cycle that is doctor’s office ➡️ medication ➡️ insurance ➡️pharmacy.  There’s been more cancelled appointments than there have been attended ones because of all the issues and now the impending  date is set for late January.  Will there be any change?  Has it been long enough?  Will he be where he was at this stage in the game when we were trying for baby #1?  Are his levels affected differently now that we’re 4 years older?  Will we get the green light for TESE surgery? When are we looking to be at the point of an IVF cycle? 2 months? 6 months?  Longer 😰?

You can see how my mind can’t stop.  I’ve been dealing with this for sometime.  Initially when my son was about a year and a half I was ready, not to be pregnant, but to start the process (which for us is well over a year) so that I wouldn’t get to THIS POINT.  My husband wasn’t there yet, which I get.  I pryed him to re-enter this dark place last fall and really feel as though we’re not as far along as I had hoped over a year later.  That, coupled with the challenge of keeping my longing to grow our family at bay, has snowballed into this infertility rut that I’m currently in.

I am disappointed that we’re stuck in the same spot over a year later.  I’m mad at myself that I didn’t push the subject harder-that I didn’t make him go sooner for my own sanity.  I’m frusturated that it can’t just be me so that I could just do it all my own.  I’m resentful that I take this all on myself-that the thoughts don’t weigh on my husband day in and day out like they do me-that I’m doing all the work.  I’m sad that the time between my son and a potential sibling is only getting longer.  I’m guilty for wanting more.  I’m embarrassed that I haven’t been more accountable here-I preach to use this as a coping mechanism, but have abandoned it in some ways.  I’m anxious now that I know so much more about the possible outcomes and the reality of the statistics.  I’m stressed as this is our only shot at having baby #2 biologically and feeling the overwhelming pressure of that dead-end.  I’m feeling defeated from the countless pregnancy announcements, specifically of baby #2, that have flooded my social media feeds the last 48-hours.  And I’m feeling so cliche but honest in saying it’s not that I’m not happy for you, I’m just sad for me.  I’m dealing with infertility and it’s a lot to handle at this moment.

Contrastly, I am still hopeful.  I am still positive and optimistic.  I am still excited for what 2018 has in store.  I’m still happy when you see me smiling.  I’m still living my best life.  I’m still blessed more than ever.

I’m not one to outwardly make goals or resolutions for the New Year.  I just think, in an effort to take time for myself, you’ll see me more here 📍.

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.

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”.

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?!

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.

Thankful

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Thanksgiving is our holiday to host; it was also the first holiday after we were given our infertility diagnosis. So while I’m caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing a feast for 30+ guests, I couldn’t help but stop myself to sit down and write this post. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, giving thanks and counting our blessings as the most magical time of the year commences; however if you’re in the midst of your struggle trying to conceive, it can also evoke other feelings. While my blessings are abundant this Thanksgiving, I can recall all too well just how difficult it was to get through another holiday sans baby, or without even a bump.

There’s nothing better in this life than memories made around the table, toasting one another, feeling nostalgic devouring family recipes, and carrying on traditions. There’s belly laughs, happy tears, and if you’re like us, probably a minor casualty or two. Besides remincising about the good ‘ole days, there are also usually discussions of what’s to come as children run through the hallways, holiday bests are dirtied, and fleeting kisses are snatched.

If you’re in baby limbo, it can be an uncomfortable place. While you are so grateful for the love that surrounds you and all that’s good, there’s still something missing. Some people can sense it; others can’t and more likely than not the opportunity will present itself when someone says “Bet you can’t wait for that” or “When are you having one?” as you watch the littles playing about. The hardest part of it all is trying to keep smiling, when your heart is sobbing inside.

Don’t get mad at yourself for feeling that way. As much as you appreciate your life, it’s only natural to feel this way. It doesn’t make you a selfish or bad person-it makes you human. These warm and fuzzies we feel inside are human, just like sadness, emptiness, even jealousy. It’s okay if you need to excuse yourself from a conversation or even have a quick pity party in the bathroom because while you are thankful for your beautiful life, you’re still waiting for your time to receive the greatest gift of all.

In your circles these holidays you’ll find there are some who have received that gift and thank God everyday. There are others who have received it unexpectedly, some who take it for granted, and probably some still waiting like you, whether they’re open about it or not. We all have our different stories and outlooks on life and while we might not always understand one another’s words or actions, we can all agree we are only human. We all make mistakes and have weak moments, in the same way that we can all forgive, regroup, and move forward.

It took me a long time to come to this realization. There are times, even now, I have to remind myself it’s ok to feel. I would often be disappointed in myself or guilty, especially when there are people without family, food, and shelter. There are people going without a lot more than I had, and while I can’t fathom that, those material things are nothing compared to the gift of life.

Maybe rather than worrying about finding the perfect present or snagging that Black Friday deal, we can give each other a better gift this year. The gift of time, the gift of support, the gift of acknowledgment, the gift of understanding and forgiveness. The gift of hope, the gift of community. The gift of realizing we are all just human, going through the motions of life, fighting some battle or another, giving it the best we can at this given moment.

My gift to you is validation-that what you’re feeling is okay and warranted. By other’s opening up, I’ve come to learn this is something we all experience and are not alone in. For that I am eternally thankful.