Tag Archives: male factor infertility

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 💞.

The Day We Put the Crib Away

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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?!

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

img_0984

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

img_0746

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.

MFI: Male Factor Infertility, Major Female Issue or Both?

As if infertility isn’t hard enough to deal with, it’s seeming more and more that Male Factor Infertility (MFI) is the primary or sole cause. From experience, I can attest that MFI adds a whole other layer to deal/grieve/cope with. It may as well also stand for Major Female Issue.

Traditionally speaking, infertility has always been thought of as a female disease. For decades, it was even uncouth to suggest that it could be the male partner with infertility concerns. While the majority of women still blame themselves if their lady parts aren’t cooperating, it’s less taboo than if the problem lies within the man. As women, we believe that we should be capable of conceiving and carrying a baby to delivery. An inability to do so can be heartaching, damaging, and cause feelings of uselessness.

Manliness, however, seems to be judged based on what you’re working with down below. So much of guy talk revolves around how you work it that even young boys hone in on the social expectations of what having man parts means. It becomes a standard measure of how much of a guy’s guy you are. Therefore, when MFI comes into play it can be a huge blow to a guy’s ego and even their identity. There’s a shame and inadequacy that goes beyond that of a female in my opinion because as women there’s so much else that plays into our femininity.

In our case, what was initially thought to be the problem was my inconsistent ability to ovulate. It turned out, though, that MFI was the main concern with why we’re unable to coneveive naturally. Thus, I experienced both firsthand. Mind you, anovulation is fairly common and easily treated, so I didn’t go through any guilt or self-worth issues. I figured, like anything, if it’s broke, fix it. Yet when I learned the news of my husband’s diagnosis I felt as if the world was coming crumbling down on me. It wasn’t that it just meant there was a possibility of never having a biological child, but even more in that moment, that I had to tell him something was “wrong” with him.

I don’t even like using that term in quotations because in infertility, blame is the root of all evil. There’s no sense in placing blame on who’s fault it is because either way you can’t do it without one another. Don’t get me wrong, are there moments in which “I wouldn’t have to do this if it weren’t for you” thoughts happen or when you’re tempted to pull the “blame” card out in the middle of a fight? Of course, because we are only human. However, avoiding ever labeling one another as the issue is crucial. That, mixed with the associated emotions of struggling to get pregnant, is a deadly potion for any relationship.

Yet, the question comes up more often than not, “Is it you?” Or “Has your husband been checked?” We found it helpful to come up with a blanket statement in the beginning before we were comfortable disclosing the details. “We are both having issues but are seeing a fertility specialist,” usually was enough to keep the inquiries at bay.

I vividly remember asking my poor husband at 6:30 in the morning, before I left for work one day, what I should say. I offered to say it was all me because, lets face it, that’d be easier. In fact MFI is also a Major Female Issue because I believed that wholeheartedly~that if I were the “problem” it’d be simpler. I wouldn’t have had to lie or keep the details of our diagnosis secret. I wouldn’t have had to be vague about what was going on. I wouldn’t have had to worry about scheduling, and doctors appointments and relaying the information because I’d be the one there. (My husband felt more comfortable going to his urologist follow-ups without me; I’d attend the “major” ones and all appointments with our RE.). I could be the one doing all the leg-work, all the tough stuff and he could just be on the side-lines to support me. I would be the only one having blood work, shots, and procedures which physically, mentally, and emotionally seemed more manageable.

Instead, I had to prod to get him to go to the the doctor. I had to pry to get more answers and plea for him to ask the doctor my questions. I had to watch him inject himself with meds that insurance wouldn’t cover and repeatedly be anxiety ridden over semen analyses. I had to tread lightly between being too over bearing and not attentive-enough all while trying to ensure that he was okay. That he didn’t blame himself or worse off think I did. MFI adds a whole other layer because besides worrying about yourself, or you as a couple, you’re constantly worrying about him as an individual. How is he coping? Is he as sad as I am? Is he about to reach his breaking point? When will he say enough is enough? Does this consume him the way it does me? Why can’t he talk more about it? Why is he sleeping and I can’t? Is this what’s keeping him up tonight?

That’s what love is, though, worrying about another more than yourself. And while he may not have been as open or chatty about it, his actions said it all. They said that he loves me so much he’d do anything to have a baby with me. They showed me that he was selfless and willing to sacrifice it all, even some of his dignity, if it’d make me happy. They showed me that he was more “manly” than any guy I’d ever met and if guys were as half a man as he, the world would be a better place.

Fertility is hard. I think in some ways MFI can make it harder on you both. It has shown me though, that having a family was just as much a priority for me as it was him. MFI forced my husband to get to that place mentally where I had been for a long time. He had finally come to realize my longing and felt the same fears, grief, sadness that I had. Just in the way that it has shaped me as a mom, infertility also shaped him into the amazing daddy he is. What an example for our son to see what it means to truly be a man.

A Letter to My Son as He Turns 2

 

image

{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!