Tag Archives: TTC

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.

The Day We Put the Crib Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hello From the Other Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4️⃣ Talking about your struggle with infertility is less emotional.

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

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

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

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

6️⃣ Words still hurt and pregnancy announcements still sting.

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

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

7️⃣ You’re like rain man with the dates.

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

October 14, 2014: received diagnosis of Azoospermia

February 20, 2014:  Egg Retrieval & TESE

February 23, 2014:  Transfer

March 10, 2014: Beta Day…

October 24, 2014: Birth of our baby boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1️⃣0️⃣ It’s so worth the wait.

Bottom line.

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

 

 

 

New Year, New Feels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share Your Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

 

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

To My Son on Your 2nd Birthday,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Boy!

The Box on Your Doorstep


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Round & Role Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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