Friday, January 30, 2009

3rd VR Anniversary

Today's the 3rd anniversary of Kerry's vasectomy reversal. I spent some time reminiscing and going through all our photos/videos from our trip to AZ where the procedure was performed. I was so happy back then. Gosh, I miss old me! I thought I would share some memories from our trip.

We started off with a trip to the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful place!


Dancing at the canyon:

Next stop, Sedona, home of the red rocks. This is one of my favorite places.

Last stop, Tucson, home of the International Center for Vasectomy Reversals.

But first, some fun with cactus:


This is an actual video of Kerry's surgery. The surgery is like sewing 2 wet speghetti noodles together. This is done under a very high powered microscope as the inside of the tube is the size of one human hair!

This video is suturing the inside of the vas back together.

This video is suturing the outside of the vas back together.

First sperm!

Kerry recovering:

A visit from Dr. Marks:

... and this was the beginning of our journey!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Adios #38

With the arrival of AF, I'm happy to say adios to the most messed up cycle I've ever had.

Prior to IVF:

Earliest Ovulation: cd13
Last Ovulation: cd18
Minimum Cycle Length: 27 days
Maximum Cycle Length: 33 days

After 3 IVFs:

Ovulation: cd29
Cycle Length: 42 days
Mid-Cycle Spotting: cd13, 14, 15, 21, 30
Premenstrual Spotting/Bleeding: 8 days starting at 7dpo

Thank you IVF for screwing me up!

[Click on photo for larger view]

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thirty Six

Earlier this week, my husband said “somebody has a birthday coming up soon”. While that would have normally put a smile on my face, this year it made me sad. I did not want to turn another year older and found myself begrudging my own birthday. I’ve found that infertiles do not like birthdays. It just means another year has gone by and we’re still childless. It means our eggs are more crappy and our FSH is higher. With every passing year, we watch our chance of success steadily drop, as we near the edge of the fertility cliff, we wonder will it ever happen for us?

I'm reminded of this picture, standing on the icey edge, just one foot away from an enormous drop to the bottom of the canyon. This was 3 years ago, we were just a few days away from Kerry's vasectomy reversal. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Little did I know how symbolic of my journey this would become.

While I definitely did not look forward to my birthday all week, I managed to come around. I had to make a change in my thinking. I realized that while bad things happen in one’s life that we cannot control, what we can control is how we deal with it. I realized that I had a choice, a choice to have a fun or depressing birthday. No matter which one I pick, I’m still going to be a year older, I’m still going to be childless. So why not have a fun day, I deserve it!

Yesterday was the celebration of my life, 36 years of it. My husband treated me like a princess for the entire day.

We started out with a 1 hr massage. Gosh I need that! My lady could have really upset me if I had let her, but I was determined that nothing was going to ruin my day. As she was massaging my back, she asked me if I had any children. I said no, we've been trying for three years. What would come out of her mouth was a new one for me; "Well that's a good thing because having children can really mess up your back". What??? I asked her if she knew what IVF was and she said "yeah, I worked in a fertility clinic for 4 years". I guess they didn't teach empathy there. She then asked if I ever thought of adoption or surrogacy. I so badly wanted to say "Gosh, I would have never thought of that, that's a great idea, thank you!". I instead chose to just ignore it. I didn't make it out of there without one more though, one of our favorites "what's meant to be will be". Oh well, at least I escaped the "maybe if you just relax it will happen".

It turns out Kerry got that line instead, lol! It never fails, I guess "do you have any children" is a very common conversation filler. So after his lady finds out that we've been trying unsuccessfully, he gets the story of how she gave this woman a massage and that night she conceived, all it took was some relaxation. He replied with "and did this woman have an infertility related medical diagnosis?" He asked her if he could teach her a little etiquette when it comes to those struggling to conceive, and that he did! She actually thanked him for it. I love his approach, I need to learn from him.

We went to lunch, ate like pigs and then shopped till we dropped. He then took me to The Melting Pot for a 4 course fondue experience. We even had a couple of drinks, something we haven't done in years. Take that eggs! I can't tell you how great it was to feel so free and to just enjoy one another.

On the way back to our car, we passed 2 homeless people sitting on the sidewalk under a dingy blanket. It was freezing out. One held a sign "Homeless, need food". I handed them our 2 boxes of food and they lookup up at me and said "God bless you!". It was the best feeling, I can only imagine what it would be like to help several. I said in my Life's Unfair post, "I need to reach out more and help those broken in their own way. Sometimes our own healing is found in helping others." So this is my next step. It's my heart's desire to reach the broken. I collected some literature today on how to help and hope to get started soon.

Thank you hubby for a GREAT Birthday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Counseling #2

Today was my 2nd counseling appt and quite frankly, I’m at a loss for words. The first thing she said to me was that she tried to find some literature on infertility but couldn't find any. The lady is very nice and totally empathetic, but our session was no different than sitting down with a friend having a good chat. I detailed several aspects of my struggle. I did most of the talking as I waited for something profound in return that could help me get through this trial. Nothing, nada.

When I saw there was 10 mins left, I held back, giving plenty of room to give me advice or some coping strategies, but nothing. I then asked specifically if she had any advice to help me get through and it was basically just take care of myself and try to make a decision on what to do next. I burst into tears as I felt so unhelpable. She asked me when I wanted to come back and I said, I get the sense that you really don’t know how to help me. I can’t even remember what her response was, I was too busy trying to hide my tears from all the people in the waiting room. It was pity party in the Grand Am all the way home.

Maybe I don’t understand how counseling works and had unrealistic expectations. Maybe I really do need someone who deals with infertility. My husband thinks that I’m stronger than I realize and cope well considering the cards I’ve been dealt, but he is also surprised that she hasn't nailed down a couple of focus areas to work with me on. Maybe this is right where God wants me, where He's the only thing left to reach for.

Well, my chin is up and I’m moving forward. I’ve made progress on getting more exercise, eating better, getting out of the house and spending time with God. It is helping, but there are still days where I’m absent of all those. So for now I’ll keep striving towards that and take one day at a time. Thanks for listening!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Counseling #1

Today was my first counseling appointment. I desperately tried to find someone who deals with infertility, no luck, but at least she deals with all of the affects of it. I've never had counseling before so I wasn't sure what to expect. She took me to her office and then asked if I would mind if an intern observed. It was the intern's first day. I'm such an open book I didn't mind.

Today was all about her learning about me. I did most of the talking while she asked questions and took notes. I spilled my guts and cried a few times. Half way through I noticed that the intern was tearing up and by the end she had tears rolling. She then spoke up and asked if she could say something. She announced that she dealt with infertility for 14 yrs and never did conceive. She adopted two children and loves them as if they were her own, but that she still has that pain of never being pg or giving birth. She confirmed that all I was saying was so true and that I made the right decision to seek help. She then said that she was thinking of specializing in infertility and I encouraged her to do so as there are so many of us and so few of them.

I do not for one moment believe that was a coincidence. Prior to my appt, I was so upset and prayed I would find someone who could understand and relate to my pain. God's good! I told the intern she's welcome in my counseling session anytime.

The counselor made the observation that I kept saying "I failed". She wanted me to understand that I have not failed at anything. True, but my body has. My assignment for this week is to get some exercise everyday. She believes this will help with my stress and sadness, I agree! She also wants me to get out of the house more. I work from home so some days I never see sun light. Again, I agree!

She diagnosed me with Adjustment Disorder. Below is from WebMD, I'm including it as many of my readers are dealing with the same misfortune.

Adjustment Disorder is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss or event. Because people with adjustment disorders often have symptoms of depression, such as tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness and loss of interest in work or activities, adjustment disorder is sometimes called "situational depression". Unlike major depression, however, an adjustment disorder is triggered by an outside stress and generally goes away once the person has adapted to the situation.

The type of stress that can trigger adjustment disorder varies depending on the person, but can include:

Ending of a relationship or marriage.
Losing or changing job.
Death of a loved one.
Developing a serious illness (yourself or a loved one).
Being a victim of a crime.
Having an accident.
Undergoing a major life change (such as getting married, having a baby or retiring from a job).
Living through a disaster, such as a fire, flood or hurricane.

A person with adjustment disorder develops emotional and/or behavioral symptoms as a reaction to a stressful event. These symptoms generally begin within three months of the event and rarely last for longer than six months after the event or situation. In an adjustment disorder, the reaction to the stressor is greater than what is typical or expected for the situation or event. In addition, the symptoms may cause problems with a person's ability to function; for example, the person may be unable to sleep, work or study.

Adjustment disorder is not the same as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD generally occurs as a reaction to a life-threatening event and tends to last longer. Adjustment disorder, on the other hand, is short-term, rarely lasting longer than six months.

What Are the Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder? An adjustment disorder can have a wide variety of symptoms, which may include:

Feeling of hopelessness.
Frequent crying.
Anxiety (nervousness).
Headaches or stomachaches.
Palpitations (an unpleasant sensation of irregular or forceful beating of the heart).
Withdrawal or isolation from people and social activities.
Absence from work or school.
Dangerous or destructive behavior, such as fighting, reckless driving and vandalism.
Changes in appetite, either loss of appetite or overeating.
Problems sleeping.
Feeling tired or without energy.
Increase in the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Symptoms in children and teens tend to be more behavioral in nature, such as skipping school, fighting or acting out. Adults, on the other hand, tend to experience more emotional symptoms, such as sadness and anxiety.

How Common Is Adjustment Disorder? Adjustment disorder is very common and can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, race or lifestyle. Although an adjustment disorder can occur at any age, it is more common at times in life when major transitions occur, such as adolescence, mid-life and late-life.

How Is Adjustment Disorder Treated? Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is the most common treatment for adjustment disorder. Therapy helps the person understand how the stressor has affected his or her life. It also helps the person develop better coping skills. Support groups can also be helpful by allowing the person to discuss his or her concerns and feelings with people who are coping with the same stress.

Most people with adjustment disorder recover completely. In fact, a person who is treated for adjustment disorder may learn new skills that actually allow him or her to function better than before the symptoms began.

Can Adjustment Disorder Be Prevented? There is no known way to prevent adjustment disorder. However, strong family and social support can help a person work through a particularly stressful situation or event. The best prevention is early treatment, which can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and teach new coping skills.

Wow, describes me well! But I had to chuckle at "having a baby" as one of the types of stress that can trigger this disorder! Hahahahaha If only I had that problem. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to learning these coping techniques before my husband needs counseling to learn how to cope with me. =)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life's Unfair

My last post really got me thinking about how unfair life really is. Many life events leave us with those dreaded questions that have no answers. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Will I ever overcome this?

For me, and many of you, this is infertility. I really don’t like saying “why me?” as I don’t want to come off like I’d prefer it to be someone else. I don’t wish infertility on anyone, so let me change it to “why us?”.

I’ve found it helps when I take the focus of off me and look around. You don’t have to look far to see the hurt and broken. Within several miles I can find more hurt than I can comprehend.

Terminally ill, cancer, disease
Divorced, widowed
Poverty stricken, devastated by natural disasters, homeless
Abused, raped, abandoned
Loss of a loved one, kidnapped, murdered, killed by a drunk driver, suicide
Deaf, blind, handicapped, permanently disabled, missing limbs, disfigured

As I was writing this post, I asked Kerry to name off some unfortunate life events and he said “for you, the internet going down”. LOL!!! I’m quite the internet junkie.

Life definitely is not fair, but I think we all have more in common than we realize. We are all inflicted with something that causes pain, just in different forms. I think if we looked deep into every person, we would find areas of both blessings and brokenness. We’re really not alone, we just hurt in different ways.

Yes, I’m inflicted with infertility and it hurts deeply, but when put into perspective, I have a good life. I will take infertility over so many of those above any day. While I’m envious of those with children, I need to keep my focus on what I do have. I need to reach out more and help those broken in their own way. Sometimes our own healing is found in helping others.

To all those that are broken, I pray that your heart is mended and the desires of your heart are granted. Hugs!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A New Year

As the new year arrived, I found myself reflecting over the last year, the good, the bad and the in between. I made a few new year resolutions, some the same I made last year and the year before, you know the ones you never manage to follow through with. This will be our 4th January we’ve said “this will be the year of our miracle baby”. I’ve tried so hard to follow through with this one, but once again, I failed.

Honestly, 2008 was a rough year for us. It was a wild ride of hope and excitement followed by devastation, a ride that we rode 3 times, a ride that we spent our entire annual income on. While I hate to label 2008 as a bad year when I am blessed in so many other areas, this year has left a hole in my heart.

While a baby would fill the void, I’ve learned that I have no control over this. I cannot obtain it in my own strength, nor in the doctor’s strength as 2008 proved. My body has failed me, science has failed me and God has failed me, or has He??? Could it be the other way around, have I failed Him? Have I sought His hand and not His face? Hmmm….

I’ve found that infertility can really wreak havoc on your relationship with God and your faith. We pray our hearts out for our miracle and here we sit year after year, still barren. We sit back and watch everyone around us conceive so effortlessly. We watch crack whores throw their babies away in dumpsters. We watch mothers murder their children because their boyfriend doesn’t want kids. We wonder if God is even listening, if He even cares. God said be fruitful and multiply. I’m trying God, I really am. It is His will for us to reproduce, I just wish I could understand what’s in the way. Proverbs 30:15-16 says there are four things that are never satisfied; hell, a barren womb, parched land and fire. So there we go, even God acknowledges the undying all-consuming desire that is in us to bare children. Geez, we infertiles rank right up there with fire and hell.

The thing is, God gave us a free will, we’re not robots, we choose to do good or bad. People can choose to throw away their children. Food manufacturers can choose to put chemicals in our food that inflict cancer or disrupt hormones. Unfortunately one's bad decision usually affects many. Life is unfair, it’s just a fact we have to face.

My pastor tells us a story of when he was sitting at his piano and his 3 yr old daughter came up to him and said “daddy, daddy” while reaching for him and how it melted his heart. But when he picked her up, she reached for the piano, she didn’t want her dad, she wanted something he had.

Maybe this is what we do to God. We reach for Him when we want something He has, but when everything is going well, we stop reaching. Is our love for God conditional?

One thing is for sure, I do not want a repeat of 2008. That means I’m going to have to make some foundational changes. I love this quote by Albert Einstein; “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Insanity describes this journey well. A couple of my resolutions this year are to reclaim my life and have some fun. To get back on track with God, to reach for Him just because I love Him and not because I want my miracle. By no means am I giving up, my unsatisfied womb would not allow that =), I’m just trying to get my priorities straight and not let infertility define who I am.