Today Was Your Due Date

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY ANGEL BABY

My Lilly,

Today was your due date.  Today, your Daddy & I would have met you for the first time in the flesh.  I can only imagine how happy we would have been.  How relieved we would have been.  I can only imagine how warm you would have been to hold, and how small.  I can only imagine how big your Daddy would be smiling.

We loved you from the first moment we saw the positive test results, even before.  We loved you the first time we admitted that we wanted to start having children.  We loved you the first day we heard your name.  

The day they told us you were gone was the saddest day of our lives.  There was a crack in the planet.  Time stopped.  And I was so sad, My Lilly, that I would never be able to hold you.  Never be able to kiss your cheeks.  Never be able to hear you cry, or laugh, or call me Mommy.  I will never be able to hear you tell me that you love me, and it makes me so terribly sad.  Because I love you so much.  So much more than I can ever write or describe.

I try to think you’re in a better place.  I try to think that you’re with your Uncle Joe, and your Great Grandparents, and are happy.  I like to think that you’re with your Daddy and me as we go through our days.  I try to understand that there’s a better reason for you being in Heaven than being here with us.

You were so real for such a short while, my love.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you.  I think of you every time I see another baby, or pregnant belly.  I think of you every time someone asks us how we’re doing.  I think of you every time I look at your Daddy.

I’m so sorry, my Lilly.  I tried to do everything I could to make sure you were safe.  I feel like I failed you.  The Doctors said that this just happens some times.  I can’t help but think that that can’t possibly be true.  If there was anything more I could have done, I would have.  I would have done everything and anything in my power to been able to meet you and take care of you.  I tried my hardest, my Lilly.  

We love you baby girl, and we will celebrate you today for the rest of our lives.  Until we meet you in heaven, and get to hold you.

Rest in peace my angel baby,

Love,

Mom & Dad

 

 

What Thanksgiving is Like for the Infertile Couple

Warning: this blog post is written in a sad and frustrated state of mind.

I used to love the holidays. All aspects. The stress of planning, coordinating, and facilitating the events of the day were always outweighed by family love, great conversation, and endless menu options among other things.

Now in our fifth year of the infertility journey, we can’t help noticing the new consistent elements of Thanksgiving that aren’t exactly awesome.

If you’re going through the journey yourself, you may be experiencing the same things (or worse, and I’m so sorry for that). If you’re not going through the journey, maybe this will help shed a different perspective.

5 Things This Infertile Couple Experiences on Thanksgiving

1) Every family member now knows about our progress (or lack there of?), but a chosen few still find uncomfortable ways to ask or comment about it.

Example: my husband’s cousin asking how our babies are coming, while bouncing her latest baby on her hip. When I answer around the question because (dear God) I don’t want to talk about it, she tries to give me her baby to hold.

2) Family tells us very often that they’re praying for us – or in particular, for our procreation. My brother In law this year cheers’ed to or future babies – thankfully to my husband alone.

Now don’t get me wrong- A few days go by and I think that this is very sweet. But in the moment and on the day, it makes me sad for us. I’d much rather everyone pray for us and not remind us that they are.

3) Watching everyone else’s children becomes pretty difficult. In past Thanksgivings I didn’t so much mind entertaining toddlers with silly games. This year I played on my phone to try to drown out the scene- and got exceptionally frustrated the few times I had to keep my eyes on the wandering 1 year old trying to swallow marbles while his own mom slept off the wine.

Maybe it’s me- but I really think in my situation I should have immunity from watching your kids for you on thanksgiving.

4) I realized a little late that we should have gone first when saying what we’re all thankful for. It sounds a bit lackluster to say I’m thankful for my job and my husband when 12 people before you listed off the incredible accomplishments of each of their children.

5) The menu changes significantly for us. In years past we thought IUI or other drug treatments would “just work,” for us. Now, in year 5, we’re organic, clean label and gluten free, going back and forth on whether dairy is good for our chances or not. So ya, options become a bit more limited.

All that being said Here is what I am thankful for:

My cousins and sister in law that whisper to me that Cousin X is an idiot and that they’re sorry I’m having to deal with their comments.

My mother In law who watches everyone’s children without pause because she wants to be helpful, and will never force me to help.

My aunt who made gluten free stuffing, dinner roles, and corn casserole because she understands.

My uncle, who rocked the wandering 1 year old to sleep and held him for over an hour.

Everyone who prays for us, and will continue to do so until babies come.

My mom, dad, and sister, who never bring it up until I’m ready and wanting to talk about it, providing shoulders to lean on and warm hugs without opinion.

My husband, my rock, who always knows what to do and say to make me feel better. I wish I could do more for him.

All of you who are going through the journey yourselves, because you make us feel communal support which helps more than anything.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Infertile house to yours. Bless you and your journey. Though many things are hard to understand and be grateful for now, I believe that when the big picture is revealed we will fall to our knees with gratitude.

A Poem about The Bad Days of Infertility

I sit on the couch alone drinking a bottle of wine; Wondering why I feel this way, when yesterday I felt fine.

No one will be able to console me, so I want to be alone; I won’t answer your text messages or bother to check my phone.

I don’t want to feel angry or sad or desperate or depressed; i don’t want to sit on the couch all day not caring to even get dressed.

I don’t want to stay home from the party because I know that children will be there, and i won’t be able to keep myself from thinking ‘where are mine?’ And ‘life’s not fair.’

I don’t want you to ask me questions and pretend you understand, or have you to tell me to “just relax” and to “Just trust in God’s master plan.”

I don’t want to hear the story of that person that you know who went through what I’m going through however many years ago.

I don’t want to decline your baby shower because I’m angry at the world, or not celebrate the photos you post of your beautiful baby girl.

Tomorrow I may wake up with a positive outlook on life, and revel again in my story as happily married wife.

But Today And tonight I will take the time That i need to grieve and mourn the children of mine that I was hoping to bare that may never have a chance to be born.

Our Last IUI Failed and I am Okay With It

According to the American Pregnancy Association, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) can reach up to a 20% chance of being successful with each cycle for women under 35 years old.

We had five IUIs in total over the last year, and one successfully resulted in a pregnancy (though a short-term pregnancy).  So, our story is statistically accurate.  20% of our IUIs “worked.”

Our Fertility specialist doctor told us that he normally doesn’t recommend more than three (3) rounds of IUI.  He told us that if you do not conceive within the first three cycles, it likely just won’t happen for you through IUI.  After our first cycle pregnancy and miscarriage, we asked for more.  After all, it seemed like it “worked,” for us as a treatment.

We knew that after the last round, that we would have to take the next step in our fertility journey: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Now at the time, this completely TERRIFIED ME, so I was doing everything I could to increase our fertility chances with our last round of IUI.  I’m talking about everything from supplements, vegan plant-forward dieting, fertility yoga, excessive water drinking, to even resorting to social media to ask for more prayers.

We thought that it worked.  I was 4 days late with no sign of Aunt Flo when we started excitedly discussing names.  Then, BOOM – period cramps.  And our dreams were dashed.

I was terrified of IVF thinking that I would not be brave enough to go through it.  But now we’re here, having to seriously consider it, and I’m not scared any longer.

It’s fascinating – this journey through infertility that we’re on.  It has taught us a lot about life, marriage, friendship, faith, and now – courage.  Something seems to be so scary until you’re out of choices, and then it just becomes something that you have to do, so you do it.

We’re scheduling our appointment with our doctor to talk about next steps.

Wish us luck.

 

 

 

 

The 8 Stages of Negative Pregnancy Tests

It’s each of the grief stages plus more every time you don’t see the two pink lines, or the digital “yes,” or the blue plus sign.

There are 7 Stages of Negative Pregnancy Test Results.

Stage 1: Hope

Anxiously waiting for the test results to load across the wet screen or to stop blinking. There are no faster heartbeats than the ones in your throat during those agonizing moments. All the while, still trying to “think positive,” and envision what you want to see while trying block out your powerful thoughts of doubt. Recounting every “sign” and coincidence this month that allows you to believe This could be the one… this should be the one…

Stage 2: Denial (or Hope Phase 2)

Seeing the negative result for the first time, but knowing better. I mean, you took the test two days early after all. Plus, you drank so much water today and this isn’t exactly your first pee of the day. It’s just too early to see the results. Or better, you read that twins or multiples sometimes show as negative results because the HCG levels are just too high to detect. So yea, you’re still probably pregnant.

Stage 3: Anger

Seeing the negative pregnancy for the first time, and believing it, with all the wrath you possess. Why the Fuck is a 30-something successful career woman with a happy and stable marriage Barren while every teenage addict you know just pours out babies?! What the Fuck did you do to deserve this while there are serial killers with a dozen offspring?! Why does this have to Be So Hard for us?!?!?! Raaawwwwrrrrrrrrrrr! Fuck you, Fate. Fuck your divine plan, God! (Ya, it gets bad).

Stage 4: Bargaining

Pointing out everything you could have done better. If only I exercised more and stayed within my normal BMI. If only I put down those stupid chocolates that probably pushed me beyond my caffeine limit. If only I prayed more! If only we had sex twice a day then made sure I stood on my head for 20 minutes. Then I would have been pregnant. It’s my fault.

Stage 5: Depression

Getting buried alive in thoughts of the worst of what could be. I’m going to be childless. I’m going to let my poor husband down. My poor husband will leave me. I’m going to be that old career-obsessed woman that has no children and goes home every night to her microwave dinner for one. Then when I get too old to take care of myself, I will have no one to help me, and I’ll die alone. So I lay in bed with the covers over my head and cry.

Stage 6: Testing

Eventually, the crying stops and you start to let some light in – or testing some light anyway. Maybe you start to let your husbands reassuring words past your ears that he’s happy with you regardless of what happens. Maybe you remember you have 10 nieces and nephews, and that at least 10% will visit you in the nursing home. Maybe you remember how much you like wine, and realize that you can finally have a glass (or bottle) now. It all feels better than depression and hot tears, so you find more.

Stage 7: Acceptance

You finally come to grips with reality. This is just ONE test. And yes, there have been countless others, but this ONE doesn’t define you. The doctors said you can get pregnant, and you have. It’s only a matter of time. Gods plan does not operate on man’s timetable. Something amazing is about to happen. You apologize to God for all of the terrible things you said to Him. You didn’t mean it.

Stage 8: Trying Again

You count on the calendar when your next ovulation date will be and mark it with a circle. You look up fertility diet recipes and a new workout regime on Pinterest. For the next few days, You enjoy your wine, and coffee, and sushi, and sleeping past 10am on the weekends. You enjoy leaving your sister’s house when her children get annoying.

How many times can a woman go through this? Plenty. But every woman has their limit. I may be limitless, however. I’m blessed with what seems to be eternal Hope. Maybe that’s why I am such a Cleveland Browns fan.

All The Things I’m Doing To Boost My Fertility

I’m terrified.

This IUI will be our last.  That means that if I don’t get pregnant, we move on to IVF.  I don’t know if you’ve ever read about the IVF process, but it sounds like way more than I would ever want to go through.  I have had friends that have gone successfully through the process and other friends that haven’t.  After so many years of infertility, I feel like I’m at the edge of what I’m willing to put myself through.

So this time really matters.  Not that the other rounds didn’t matter, of course.  But this is my last enchilada.

 

That being said – here’s my list that I’m following this round:

  • No Alcohol (for either me or my hubby – which is going to be a real test of our marriage I’m sure)
  • No Caffeine (which has already made me significantly bitchier at work – my poor colleagues)
  • No Dairy (I haven’t read that dairy does anything bad per se, but I’ve seen enough documentaries to do away with cheese and coffee creamer for the month)
  • Eating Clean (which is easier said than done – you would be surprised how many things you eat have some strange Gum in it…)
  • Exercising (Did you know they have Yoga specifically for fertility?  Awesome.)
  • Drinking Fertili-Tea (yes, it’s a thing)
  • Eating Pineapple (I’ve read that this is a good thing for conception…)
  • Eating Flax Seed (same as above)
  • Praying, Praying, Praying (I literally asked my entire Facebook fellowship to pray for us on the day of our IUI).

 

Things I’m Trying to do (with a capital “T”):

  • Not stressing out (this is flipping hard – I am so flipping stressed with work, this IUI, other crazy family things that I have no control over… this is probably where the exercise helps)
  • Thinking “Positive” (oh my God – if one more person tells me to do this I’m going to punch them in the face — I have had so many disappointments, you can imagine how cynical I am at this point).
  • Not look for “signs” (I’m sick of that.  I have seen so many signs that ended up with zero children.  I’d rather not, but you never know…)

 

So that’s it.  Wish me luck.

I do believe I need it.

3 Days Late BFN (Big Fat Negative)

I’m officially 3 days late today (CD30), and my AF (aunt flow) is no where in sight.

My mother and my husband, Brett, are frustrated with me because I’m addicted to peeing on a stick everyday – on days before doctors orders.

The nurse practitioners that administered out last fertility treatment told us, “Wait 14 days until testing.” Called the Two Week Wait, This waiting room of stress and anxiety can not be helpful for this baby.

With my first pregnancy, I tested at 10 days after the procedure and saw a BFP (Big Fat Positive), so you can imagine my disappointment when I mirrored that process with this cycle only to see zero pink line.

Of coursed I poured myself into those damn baby forums and found some alarming information such as:

  • My missed period but negative test means I’m not pregnant and need to get over it.
  • My negative result could be on account of my mind giving myself missed period in a psychotic episode and I’m not pregnant.
  • I could be pregnant with multiples that made my HCG levels too high for home pregnancy test detection.
  • Implantation happened in my Fallopian tube, and I might die.
  • Those goddamn baby forums.
  • If you’ve seen my post about automatic thoughts VS logical thoughts, you can imagine that my automatic thoughts of, “What the Fuck?! I’m not pregnant Again?!?” Or “maybe I’m imagining all of these early symptoms,” or “oh my god I’m going to die,” kicking into overdrive.

    However, I’ve decided to reflect logically his morning, as recommended by my mother, husband, and grief counselor:

    1. I’ve experienced what I believe are signs of early pregnancy such as light tingling cramping, a missed period, small waves of nausea, heightened sense of smell, and crazy-ass emotional mood swings.
    2. I’m 3 days late and do not see any trace amounts of AF when deep-dive searching.
    3. I’ve been testing days on 9-12, which are days before the recommended time of Day 14.
  • As long as I don’t see my period or feel menstral cramping, I’m going to continue believing I’m pregnant and praying.
  • My Two Week Wait Symptoms

    This last round of fertility treatment is our 4th round of IUI to-date.

    Our fertility doctor had told us that he believed that we would be pregnant by this hopefully final round.

    This Two Week Wait Feels Different…I have Two Week Wait Symptoms.

    The biggest difference – I’ve been feeling small pangs of sickness to my stomach.  They started within the first few days after my IUI, and come and go in seconds during my drive to work in the morning.  In the last two days, they’ve lasted longer and have gotten stronger after I’ve eaten lunch and dinner.  I had zero appetite for dinner yesterday, and picked through some scrambled eggs.

    I didn’t tell Brett, but I snuck in a pregnancy test yesterday before dinner (and before he arrived home).  It was negative, but it didn’t make me feel negative.  I feel positive.  What else could be causing that?  It’s completely out of the ordinary.

    I must be pregnant.

    Another positive difference:  My nephew was eating a Root Beer flavored dum-dum sucker in the back seat of my car.  I could immediately smell the Root Beer (which is a smell I cannot stand).  My husband could not smell anything from the driver seat.  I’m HOPING that I was experiencing a more sensitive sense of smell.

    And another positive difference:  I started getting emotional AF this week.  Monday I started crying when my boss told me her sister was pregnant (and had to lock myself in the bathroom to compose myself).  Tuesday I nearly took the head off of one of my agency’s AE’s because she politely interrupted me while I was balls-deep in an over-due project.  Being an emotional mess is something I usually experience with PMS – but it’s more tears-overflow than bursts of Rage.  Could it be pregnancy hormones?  I’m HOPING so.

    Last notable difference: I was getting ready to go out the door today and peed quickly before washing my hands and applying the last of my make-up.  I hurried to my purse and keys and realized I had to pee AGAIN (10 minutes later?).  Now, I have been drinking a lot of water.  However, peeing that close together time-wise is new for me, regardless of how much water I’ve been drinking.  I’m HOPING that I was experiencing frequent urination.

    Brett is being a bit more couscous with his positivity.   He needs “more data,” he says (which is his nature – he’s a high “C” in the DISC Assessment) before he gets too excited.

    I’m well-beyond logical fact-finding at this point.  I must be pregnant.

    The Illustration That Got Me Through My Infertility Grief

    My last post was a perfect example of the period of despair that follows the feedback of yet another negative pregnancy test.

    The good news is that I’m through that stage of the infertility cycle.  However, I have to admit that it took a lot more effort this time than any of the past times.  Thankfully, that period of darkness fell coincidently on the day of a pre-scheduled grief counseling appointment.

    That appointment was a life changer.

    The Illustration: Automatic VS Logical Thoughts

    Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 5.15.19 PM

    My counselor had drawn this illustration for me several times before in helping me through the grief of my brother’s passing.  However, this time, a light bulb finally was lit as I understood what was happening in my mind.

    The illustration is of a concept in cognitive behavioral therapy called, “Automatic Thoughts.”  Automatic thoughts ‘pop up’ or ‘flash’ in your mind without conscious thought.  It takes no effort to conjure automatic thoughts, much like it takes no effort to kick forward your lower leg with firm tap to the tendon located just below the kneecap.  It takes a lot of effort and energy, however, to conjure logical thoughts.  This has to be trained.

    Examples of automatic thoughts:

    • Situation: I made a mistake >>>  Automatic Thought: I’m a failure.
    • Situation: We broke up >>> Automatic Thought: I’m going to be alone forever.
    • Situation: My pregnancy test is negative >>> Automatic Thought: I’ll never a mom.

    In the Illustration is depicted a weighted scale.  The scale on the left represents logical thoughts.  The scale on the right represents automatic thoughts.  The illustration is supposed to represent the balance between your logical and automatic thoughts before the course of a triggering event.

    When you receive feedback or encounter a situation, you form beliefs.  Those beliefs are structured with automatic thoughts, that then “kick over” to logical thoughts.  For example, seeing the result of a negative pregnancy test (the situation) is visited with an automatic thought of “I will never be a mom,” but then kicks over to a logical thought of, “This is just a single pregnancy test, and we have 1 more cycle of IUI still to go.” This “kick over” happens when you are experiencing normal levels of energy, as this change in thought takes a good deal of effort.

    Now Enters the Second Illustration: Being Stuck in Automatic Thoughts. 

    Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 5.28.58 PM

    This second illustration depicts what happens when you do not have enough physical, emotional, or psychological energy to ‘kick over’ your cognitive thought pattern.  If you are experiencing triggers and energy depletion in any of these areas, you are at risk of not having enough cognitive energy for that logical thought “kick over.”

    In my last post, for example, I was going through each of the following:

    Physical:  It was Day 1 of my Cycle, and I’ve been on Chlomid for 3 consecutive cycles.  My hormones were literally out of control.

    Emotional: I was sad about not being pregnant, of course.  But I was also mourning having been pregnant and losing it.  I was also mourning the loss of my brother, as this is his birthday month.   On top of that, it was a crazy work week and I was anxious about that day’s series of Client presentations.  Last thing – Brett and I actually had a fight a few days before that (which is SUPER rare).  

    Psychological: I was beyond stressed at this point because of the physical and emotional effects listed above.  On top of that, I was fearful that I would never be a parent, and that Brett would leave me because of that.

    That, my friends, killed my “kick over.”  I was cognitively incapable at that moment to get back to the logical side of thinking.  I would not have been able to recover that day, had it not been for my counselor helping me understand what was going on.  I immediately felt better after she made me re-focus on logical thinking by asking me a series of direct questions after I would explain to her how I was feeling:

    “Tell me, Patty – have you and Brett ever talked about what would happen if you could not have children?”

    ME: “Yes, actually, we have.  We’re actually crazy-stupid-happy-in-love with each other and have been since we started dating over a decade ago.  Brett told me really early on that he loves our life together.  He said that, though kids would be an awesome adventure, so would our lives together without children.” 

    (LIGHT BULB – Oh, ya… that makes more sense than the automatic thought that he’d leave me — he of course never would).

    “Tell me, Patty – What did the Doctors say about why you aren’t able to conceive?”

    ME: “Um…well.. the doctors did all the tests to Brett and me that they could, and couldn’t actually find anything wrong with us.  They said we fall into the group called, ‘unexplained infertility.’  Our new doctor actually told us after our miscarriage that he believes that IUI will be effective for us since it was effective in the first round.  He actually told us that he feels confident that we will be pregnant within the next few months with continued IUI treatments, and have a healthy and uneventful pregnancy”

    (LIGHT BULB – Oh ya… that makes more sense than the automatic thought that I’d never be a mother).

    And just like that, balance was restored.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 5.15.19 PM

     

    My homework from my session was to (when I was ready and not super emotional from PMS) write out the logical thoughts about my infertility, and keep them up where I can see them.  If this happens at every cycle, then the positive affirmations will help give my “kick over” a jump start.

    I really think it will help.  Brett does, too.  He wants to buy my counselor a thank you gift. LOL

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Another Negative: Trying to Stay Positive

    I’m sitting in a parked car in front of a blinking meter, on the street in front of my grief counselor’s office.  I have 20 minutes before our 8am meeting.

    I see a grief counselor.  I’m not ashamed about it.  I don’t consider myself weak or “crazy.”  I consider myself in need of help and tools that I know I don’t have the expertise to research and facilitate on my own.

    I had scheduled the appointment at the beginning of this month because it’s the month of my brother’s birthday.  My brother passed away in October of last year, and this will be his first birthday in heaven, and our first birthday celebration without him.

    It coincidently also happens that today is the day that Brett and I took a pregnancy test to see if our last round of IUI worked.  It was negative.  So, you see, I have lots of unprocessed grief today that I could use some help with.

    It’s funny, (not “ha ha” funny, but odd), that every time we go through a fertility treatment cycle we are filled with SO MUCH hope.  There is not one cycle we approached that made us think that this cycle was not “the one.”

    Hope is intoxicating.  It’s such a HIGH.  Walking out of our treatments we always go somewhere for lunch to celebrate because we’re on such a rush.  It’s exhilarating.

    It’s also what makes these times so low.

    I asked God on the way here, “Will I ever have a baby?” and “There are so many people praying for this – WHY hasn’t it happened yet?” and “Is there something really WRONG with me?” and “Did I do something wrong?”.  Things I wish He could just send a message in a bottle to answer me, but can’t.  So I’m left trying to read signs, and usually misinterpret them because, well, I’m human after all.

    The “Signs” this cycle seemed to obvious and clear to me:

    • Signs that reflected my Grandma being with us (like spotting her initials the day of seeing our positive ovulation test)
    • The fact that our IUI nurse was named Lilly – the name of our angel baby.
    • That if we were pregnant, we would have received the happy news in my brother and Mother’s birthday month.

    What else could those have meant?  Maybe coincidence this time was just mere coincidence?  I don’t believe that.  I believe that maybe that were just meant to say, “I am here for you, and… sorry… this one might hurt a bit more than the last.”

    Brett is still holding onto hope because I haven’t technically gotten my AF (aunt flow) yet.  I’m actually the more realistic one this time – I think it will come either today or tomorrow.  And when I see it, I will be crushed again.

    What I’m worried about now is:

    Will I have as much hope this time?