A fresh array of thoughts at the intersection of my to do list and society

Posts tagged ‘family’

Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 3: Learning to have a little faith

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on July 11, 2012 – http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/07/11/embracing-the-chaos-of-ivf-part-3-learning-to-have-a-little-faith/) 

When I got home from the PRSA Western District Conference that Monday night, my husband Barry was awake in the den and the door to my mother-in-law’s apartment downstairs was still open. Usually, her door is shut by this time of night, but since Barry was still awake I didn’t think anything of it. I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Within seconds, my smile vanished as I heard Barry yell my name. I ran downstairs to find out what was wrong, but couldn’t find Barry. I heard my name again and quickly realized it was coming from Nancy’s place. As I turned the corner of her stairs, I saw Barry standing over Nancy who was immobile on the floor.

She explained that she tripped over her magazine rack and fell on her hip. Watching her lay there in pain while we waited for the ambulance was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. It was like staring at my own mortality. Even though my dad died when he was fairly young, his rapid deterioration from cancer seemed so rare to me that it didn’t put mortality in the forefront. But, this was different. This was an accident that could happen to anyone, at anytime.

In typical fashion, I remained positive while Nancy was in the hospital. “You’ll be out of here before you know it,” I kept saying. “You bounced right back after knee surgery last year, you’ll bounce back from this hip surgery too.”

Meanwhile, I didn’t think twice about my IVF process. Everything was moving along like clockwork, even though my stomach looked like squirrels were using it for archery practice. Plus, everything evens out in the end, right? We had the bad with Nancy’s fall so clearly the IVF was going to work.

I really hate it when I’m wrong, and I was wrong about the IVF. You see, in order for Conceptions to proceed with the process, I needed to grow at least four follicles at 18 milliliters. When I went for my first ultrasound check I learned that my ovaries looked like a bar at 4 a.m., completely empty with only a few drunks passed out on the bar. The second ultrasound showed promise with more follicles, but they needed to grow a lot more within the next few days in order to move forward. I tried to stay positive even when the nurses to prepared me for the worst. At the third ultrasound I got the reality check I needed. I never got four follicles at 18 milliliters, just that one. I walked out of the office with my head down and sunglasses over my eyes so no one could see my tears.

For the first time since the first ectopic back in September 2010, I started to realize that this is a game I may never win. I remember watching an episode of Oprah’s Master Class featuring professional NBA player Grant Hill around this time. He talked about how he blamed himself for his ankle injuries that led to his MRSA infection and how he felt like he had let everyone down. I sobbed out loud listening to him because I knew exactly how he felt. I blamed myself too. I blamed myself for the pregnancy losses. I blamed myself for not growing enough follicles. I blamed myself for Nancy falling. I blamed myself for everything.

We knew adoption was an option, but were so mentally exhausted by this time that we didn’t think we had it in us to go down that path. So, I started to prepare myself for the reality that we might not have another child. While I was heartbroken, I knew I had to find some way to come to terms with this. I had to learn to have faith that this may be the best path for my family and me. This was a hard lesson, but I was lucky enough to have friends and loved ones who helped me understand this.

After our follow-up appointment with Dr. Swanson, we decided to try IVF one more time. We agreed to forego the birth control pills in hopes it would eliminate the empty bar effect in my ovaries. Even though it felt as if our IVF journey was ending faster than I hoped, I had learned to have a little faith in what was to come. I started to find comfort in knowing that no matter what, Barry, Maya and I are a family and will always be a family. Letting go of a dream is hard, but appreciating what you have now can warm your heart in ways you never imagined.

Did you have to let go of a dream? How did you do it and what life lesson did you learn from letting go?


Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 2: The Game Plan

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on June 6, 2012 –  http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/06/06/embracing-the-chaos-of-ivf-the-game-plan/)

After surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy in early January, we laid out our game plan for our first attempt at IVF. I like calling it a game plan as much as Dr. Swanson does because it makes the process feel more like a game of flag football rather than just a legs-in-stirrups marathon, like a competition of sorts (me, competitive? Never!) It also makes me feel like we have a team of cheerleaders nearby to keep our spirits high. I imagine our Conceptions team dressed up in uniforms with shirts that say “Go Team Stone” on the front in blue waving pom-poms and yelling, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Hold that V!” You can picture that too, right?

The plan was to first check my resting follicle count and AMH levels (aka ovarian reserve of quality, healthy baby-making follicles) after two menstrual cycles post-surgery. All was well there. Next, we had our 4-hour consultation to learn how the art of love-making and the science of baby-making would join forces to help us get pregnant. During the consultation, we quickly realized that we were no longer waiting for the prime ovulation time to show up on a pee stick. Instead, each step would be methodical, from when to start on birth control, where to inject the medications and when to get ultrasounds to check the follicle count. They gave us a color-coded calendar so we could keep track of everything. Clearly, they’ve done this before.

I also had to have more legs-in-stirrups tests like a sonohysterogram, Doppler ultrasound and a trial transfer to ensure my girly parts were up-to-snuff and Doc could find the right spot for the egg when it was time. The trial transfer was the most painful, not because of the process, but because I had to drink a bunch of water prior to the procedure and couldn’t pee until it was over. That was fun, really. And why is it when you have to pee all you can think about is a running waterfall?

Then it was time to get my medications. Our insurance company had approved the IVF attempt a while back so getting approvals for the meds should have been super easy, right? Not in our case. It took two weeks and daily stalking calls for Conceptions to get the green light to order the meds. During this time, our refrigerator and garage door decided to break so I had to juggle work, insurance company phone call stalking, repairmen visits and run the household since Barry was out of town. I kept thinking this was all a test of my will so I kept plugging on.

Finally, on Friday, March 9, the box of meds came. Typically, when I think of meds, I think of an orange plastic bottle with a white cap. For IVF, the box looked like I ordered several pairs of shoes and they all shipped together. I opened the box, and pulled out the first box of meds, then the second, then the third…I thought I would never get the bottom. It was kinda like Christmas except instead of shiny gifts, I got syringes and boxes of meds containing little glass bottles of powdered stuff and sterile water. The only mix up was a missing ice pack for one of the meds, but the pharmacy sent me an overnight package with a new bottle secured in an ice pack. A minor setback, but it didn’t mess up our timing.

On Saturday morning after I got the last bottle, I laid it all out on our dining room table, which seats six. I kept waiting for the DEA to show up at my door and demand a raid of our house. Thank goodness that didn’t happen, my house was a mess. I went in for a final ultrasound to ensure my lining was thin and my estrogen levels were low later that day as well. On Sunday, I got a message from the nurse informing me that “everything looks perfect” and “Congratulations, you’re on your way!”

Things felt good, things felt right. We had our game plan. I was to start the shots on Monday, March 12, one grouping in the morning and one at night. I had practiced giving myself the shots in the abdomen so I wasn’t worried about hurting myself. I even had a PRSA Western District Conference event that night, but I was prepared with the shots ever so cleverly concealed in my purse. I’m a master multi-tasker and really wanted to see my fellow PRSA Coloradoans. Yep, our game had begun, and hopefully we would only have to play four quarters with no overtime in order to win.

Sharing my infertility story using my gift of the gab…

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been dealing with infertility. It hasn’t been easy, but my gift of the gab has led me to share my story via Mile High Mamas, Colorado’s best mom community in partnership with The Denver Post. Here’s the first of my six part series…

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on  May 14, 2012 – http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/05/14/a-denver-moms-journey-with-infertility-and-ivf/

Hi y’all! I’m a Southerner-turned-mountain-lover living in South Denver and recently, I’ve been dealing with infertility. It’s more common that I ever thought and I now understand why it’s so hard on women and families. I’ve decided to share my story with the Mile High Mamas in hopes it will help others who are going through the same thing, and we can share a laugh or two along the way.

Here’s my story.

Barry and I got married in Atlanta in 2004, and we decided to hold off on having children for a year because both our fathers passed that year and we needed some time to grieve. By May 2006, we were pregnant and our beautiful daughter was born in January 2007. We knew we wanted another child, but wanted to move to Denver first. We vacationed there in 2005 and fell in love with its outdoor beauty and laid back lifestyle. We sold our home and became Denver residents by the summer of 2008.

By 2010, we were settled in our new home and had adjusted to our new roommate, my mother-in-law who moved in with us after selling her home in Michigan in 2009. It was finally time to get pregnant again. It was easy the first time so it should be just as easy with No. 2, right? Not so much.

Over the next 15 months, I suffered an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage and then another ectopic pregnancy. With each loss, I had to go through extensive medical treatments and procedures. All three sucked in their own way, each with its share of physical and emotional pain.

After the miscarriage, we decided it was time to see a specialist. My OB-GYN recommended we see Dr. Michael Swanson at Conceptions. He knew so much about infertility that Barry and I left the first appointment completely speechless, but in a good way. I’ve never seen a doctor get so excited about preparing a couple for their “game plan” as if it was his first. It was refreshing.

And so the tests began – bloodwork, ultrasounds, X-rays and more bloodwork. I began to feel like my girly parts were a part of a freak show. I imagined J.D. from “Scrubs” was the show host, leading guests through the tour that started at my vagina and moved through my ovaries and fallopian tubes. “You came at a great time, ladies and gentlemen,” he would say. “We’ll have to close off this spectacular show next week because we haven’t learned how to split the Red Sea yet (aka my menstrual cycle)!” As he winked, the guests looked at him like he was a freak, which in this case, he was.

Barry’s tests were easy compared to my spread-eagle-in-stirrups escapes. All he had to do to was spend a few minutes watching a porno movie while sitting on a comfortable couch in a private room. He even had a back door he could sneak out of when he was done. I imagine a neon sign above that door flashing, “Nude Gurlz Here! It’s the Back Door of a Fertility Clinic, No One Will Ask!”

The verdict was pretty simple: I have older eggs and Barry has some funky-shaped sperm. Luckily, we didn’t have other issues like my uterus lining was too thin, Barry’s sperm was slow or my uterus being a “hostile environment.” The reality is, while we can get pregnant, our plumbing doesn’t run as smoothly as they did when our daughter was born. Knowing we can still get pregnant should be comforting, right? In some ways, yes, but in other ways, not being able to stay pregnant is heartbreaking.

After much consideration, we’ve now decided to try IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization. If you’re not familiar with the process, here’s a quick synopsis. I have to take medication to grow follicles (or the eggs) and Barry has to go watch another porno movie. Once I have enough follicles, they will be extracted and injected with Barry’s sperm in hopes one healthy egg develops. Once the egg matures, it will then be injected back into me. After that, we can only hope the pregnancy goes full-term.

So, my IVF journey has now begun, although it feels more like I’m hiking a rocky mountain in winter wearing only sandals and a T-shirt than a journey. We have no idea what will happen, but we’re willing to take a shot, and not just the one I shoot in my stomach. That’s an IVF joke…