Tuesday, February 23, 2010

a member of the tribe.

We infertiles often talk about the people who give us the stupid comments or insensitive remarks because those hurt. The people who go through this journey right beside us, we often overlooked. Without two women being willing to go through infertility treatments for me I would not be becoming a mother. Neither of these women need to do this, they both have children of their own. It is easy to dismiss their willingness to go through all of this with thinking that they are just in this for the money, but anyone who has gone through this will tell you that no amount of money in the world would be worth volunteering to play the role of an infertile. These women join our tribe for a myriad of different reasons, what really matters though is that they are there. They show up and take on our pain as if it was there own, carry our hopes and dreams, and they do it voluntarily. For all the stupid comments we get, they get just as many. No matter how many times I see this happen I will always stand in awe that these women show up and voluntarily join our tribe.

In May of this year, a voluntary member of our tribe was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was carrying a beautiful little girl for an infertile couple. At that moment, she became part of a tribe no one wants to join. Nikki was a month away from her 32nd birthday when she found the lump that would forever change her life. Instead of giving birth early, she put off her treatment until the baby was safely born. Over the past eight months, she has gone through a double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation with an amazing amount of grace that often leaves me breathless.

I have lost people I loved to cancer, watched others battle and win. All the time I knew that anyone could get cancer, but it had never happened to anyone my age. Nikki's diagnosis was a real wake up call for me. I have always done self exams, but it was just something that I never thought about happening, it was more of a baseline thing. Sadly, breast cancer does not care how old you are it comes whenever it feels like it and the destruction is horrifying.

Please join me in joining Nikki's tribe, by clicking the button in the right upper corner. She willingly joined ours, the one that we were dragged into kicking and screaming. Sometimes, just knowing that there are others in your corner can heal more than any medicine. If you can get yourself a piece of jewelry, it is pretty and 100% of the money goes directly to Nikki. We all know how expensive medical treatment can get, even with insurance coverage. I have verified that Nikki does get all the money, and I love my necklace. This is something that I rarely do here, but this is someone who has stood by me on this journey and this is a way that I can support her.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thump, Thump, Thump

I know it goes more woosh,woosh, woosh, but we are not talking about Cletus's heartbeat, we are talking about mine. His is just PERFECT at 114 beats a minute and he is snuggled in all by himself.

When Sabrina called every moment of anxiety, way more than I knew was there, just came flooding out. I mean heaving, sobbing, flood of tears. I cannot tell you how good it felt to cry and smile at the same time, something I have not done in years. I still cannot believe this is happening, but every milestone makes it just a tiny bit more real. Now it is on to the big 20 week u/s!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

from the start!

Well it is that time of month... No not that time silly. It is ILCW!!!! Since it has been a while since I have participated, I am going to give a little back story, well as little as I can.

I do not think I have ever met a woman who was happy about getting her period, but I also have not met one who hates it with as much passion as I did mine. This loathing could stem from the first time my period tried to kill me and almost succeeded! At some point we all get the period talk from some adult woman in our lives. I got mine twice in school and from my mom, but everyone forgot to mention that having your period for SIX weeks was not normal. In my 12 year old brain if I did not have a period for a few months then bleeding for longer was normal, right?

Not only was I bleeding for way too long I was flooding pads to the point that I would stand up after class and have blood in the seat. One morning in chapel I stood up and went right back down again. My mom came to get me from school and took me straight to the doctor. For week I had been having trouble staying awake and always wanted to just be sleep. That day my blood pressure was 60/40, no wonder I was tired! I was admitted to the hospital and given a blood transfusion. I knew it was going to hurt when the nurse made my parents leave the floor and then turned to me and said, "You are allowed to say any bad words that you want while we get this needle in." When adults are giving you permission to curse something really bad is about to happen. Thankfully, this was the last transfusion I needed. This was also the first on many estrogen shots I would endure, OUCH!

I was put on birth control pills, and then doubled the dose, then tripled and finally when I was taking four pills a day I got to graduate to Estrogen and Provera. During this time we were trying to get the bleeding under control, you know having a five day period once a month. There were times when no amount of drugs were going to make this body do anything, so we turned to surgery. I had my first of MANY D&Cs when I was 12, it was the only way to stop the bleeding. During this time I was also diagnosed with von Willebrand's. Now before anyone thinks that I have a stupid family that did not recognize a genetic bleeding disorder, I should say that I was adopted as an infant and there was very little in the way of a medical history.

This cycle went on for many many years. When I was in my early 20s the hormones started giving me horrid side effects and frankly I was sick of taking them. A wonderful doctor fell into my lap and it was at this point I was diagnosed with PCOS. Apparently, what was causing all this bleeding that that my body believed it was in menopause and just forgot to turn off the faucet. Without the hormones I was never going to have a normal cycle, with the hormones the rest of my physical and psychological life was a mess. I gave up the hormones and decided to just deal with the bleeding. At first it was not so bad a few months of bleeding and a few months of not. Sure it would get to the point that I would stand up and not be able to see or hear and drop straight to the floor, but it was occasional and something I could live with.

At 25, I married my wonderful husband, a man that was willing to put up with all these problems and so accepting of any decision I made. After a period that started on the day of our wedding and lasted for six months I was done. Six months was just unacceptable to me, I was exhausted and recovering from that took months. My hormonal balance was so off that there was no lining NONE, I was just free bleeding. Conceiving would be next to impossible because my body had decided that it was not going to work with any hormones. We made a decision that we were not willing to go through years of treatments and add more pressure to our lives.

I went to another doctor that had the answer. I had always said no to a hysterectomy because I saw no reason to go through menopause before I had to, who knows what the hormones will do then. In March of 2006, I went into the hospital and gave up my fertility. I know for some this is unthinkable, but for me it was the only way I had to have a life. With this endometrial ablation I took back my life. Yes, I gave up the chance to carry my child, but having a child when you are tired and sick most of the year would have left me unable to enjoy my child.

We began looking into surrogacy in 2007. Our first encounter with an agency turned into a NIGHTMARE. In fact, it was so bad that we really considered living childless. It was in the middle of this debate that Sabrina found my blog. She was an amazing support for me and made me start to think that going through the process without an agency might be possible. It is difficult to really understand trusting someone so much that you would transfer an embryo to them and know with everything part of your being that they will not only take care of that bundle of cells while it grows into your child, but also to give you back that baby. It is hard to imagine until you there with some of the most amazing people in the world. Sabrina is one of those people and there will never be a day that goes by that I will not thank the universe for putting her in our path.

Once we decided to work together it was then figuring out all the nitty gritty details. Which was actually easier than I could have ever imagined, yes there were points that were uncomfortable but everything was very smooth. Well until we decided to let my body get into the act. I did not want to pass on the von Willebrands, so I decided that we would use an egg donor that was easy enough. Then we talked to the RE who would handle the transfer and were given the option of doing genetic testing and then PGD to rule out those embies with von Willebrands. Give some blood, wait six weeks, and then transfer a healthy embie. Only problem was that we were dealing with me, and as my parents will tell you I have never been one for doing anything the easy way. After TWELVE weeks of waiting, due to mess ups with the lab, we learned that instead of having a genetic mutation causing the von Willebrands, I have deletions that are causing the disease. There is no lab in the U.S. that can make a probe for deletions of this kind. We had the option of waiting another few months for a lab in Europe to attempt making a probe but there was no guarantee.

It would have been nice to use my eggs, but it was not a huge deal to me. We picked a donor, which is a weird process unto itself. Our first transfer was in October and that one did not take. On January 28th we transferred one beautiful embryo and tomorrow we expect to see ONE very beautiful heartbeat. It has been a long road here but one that has made me grow as a person, strengthened our relationship as a couple, and brought some truly wonderful people into our lives.

Thank you for making it this far. I know this is a long story. I hope that you will stay around to find out exactly how it ends!


if you are here for ILCW, please come back soon for a real post. just having a crazy busy weekend, sorry.

Monday, February 15, 2010

a tiny exhale

Today we had our first ultrasound to make sure that Cletus was in the correct spot. I am happy to report that Cletus is tucked safely in Sabrina's uterus and not in her shoulder! The gestational sac is measuring 3 days ahead of schedule. Our little overachiever is not disappointing, let's just hope this continues! Next Monday is the heartbeat ultra sound, just thinking of it puts knots in my stomach. I am really trying to just take things from day to day, but that is a lot easier said than done.

Other exciting news for the day: Sabrina's birthday!! Go over here and wish her a happy birthday, you can also see Cletus while you are at it. For some reason the picture does not want to upload here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a horrible husband

No, I am not talking about my wonderful hubby because he is truly the best ever. Anyone who can put up with me for all these years could never be horrible. I am speaking of myself.

At this point, and for the next 8 months, I am really in the husband role of pregnancy. Well, really not even that, I am the husband that is home for a single weekend over the next 8 months. I did my small little job and then flew the coop, or at least that is the way it feels.

Sabrina is awesome about letting me know every little thing that goes on with her and I love hearing her complain about every minor thing. I of course also feel bad that it is all my fault, but really not that bad. Though I am sure that once the symptoms really hit I will feel worse. Other than those phone calls I am feeling like I am just floating out here in space, which is just part of the ride and not something that can or needs to be fixed.

To cope with this neurosis, and it has turned into neurosis, I am starting to do that nesting thing. Well really it is more like complete panic over where am I going to put Cletus and all those baby things!! Our extra room has turned into storage over the past few years and the amount of stuff in there is a bit frightening. It is not Hoarders bad, but it is getting there and I am horrible at throwing things away. I have thought about hiring someone to come in to assist me, but I am embarrassed to let anyone see the level of crazy in that room. In my first attempt to do something I found a box which contained, among other things, the candles from my 16th birthday cake. I know CRAZY!!!

There are things that I can pitch in the trash without a second thought and then there are things (stupid things) that I have a very hard time letting go of for some unknown reason. For right now I am just going to purge the things that are easy. It might not be much but at least it is a start. In some ways this feels great, being able to rid myself of baggage that only serves to weigh me down is always a good thing and I am hoping that I will get addicted to that feeling.

Just as I needed to rid myself of the infertility baggage to get to this point, I need to rid myself of the physical baggage to make room for this new chapter in our life. I will get there, I always do, it is just a little overwhelming here at the bottom of the hole!

The other thing that is getting really strange is people telling my congratulations. I know that they are happy for us and I am so thankful that Cletus already is so loved, but it just does not feel right. Yes, I have willed this pregnancy into being but that is all I have done. In the grand scheme of things that is really nothing. Right now it just does not seem to fit, like last year's winter coat it is tight and makes my skin crawl a bit. I accept these showings of love the best that I can, but they just do not seem to fit me right now. This is a process and one that I am still learning to navigate, so be patient with me I will get there.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Take That!!!!

Our BETA number is so good that we are not even having another. Sunday would have been the normal day to test. Since we are insane TTC people that would not work so we had a pratice one on Friday. So I guess you want to know what that amazing number is, because it is so amazingly wonderful that I might just be taking it to college at 10. Oh, something that I need to tell you first the baby has a name Cletus! Since we live in the south no need to worry that the kid will be made fun of, Cletus will fit right in.

Oh yeah you wanted to know the number. How about 139! That is an awesome number.

239 is a much better number and just happens to be ours!!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

How I lost the ability to count!

I promised you the transfer house of horrors story.

The day before the transfer I called the clinic to confirm our appointment. At that time I went over what our wishes were. What I thought was a very clear conversation that was understood, I was so very wrong.

We, Sabrina and I, get to the transfer on time which was no easy feat in the pouring rain. Thankfully, the hospital has valet parking, of course I think that the grocery store should have valet parking but that is another story entirely. Everything is going well. Sabrina got all geared up. Embryologist comes into talk with us, and this is where I should have known something was up. She shows me two pictures of very adorable embies. I do not want to know the gender until maybe 20 weeks and I am seriously considering waiting till birth.

We go back to the transfer room. Sabrina gets all strapped in, lights are turned down, and the doc calls for the embies, as in plural. To tell you the truth I did not even really hear him. Sabrina turns to me and asks if we are transferring two. Since this whole adventure began the husband and I have been fanatical about only transferring one at a time. It is something that we feel very strongly about, our lives and personalities are just better suited to parenting one child.

After some prodding I ask if they are aware that we are only transferring one embryo, open flood gates of misery. The doctor stands up and walks over to me, all 6 foot plus of him while I am sitting on a tiny surgical stool, and starts talking about lower percentages of success with just one, blah, blah blah. The problem was that he did not stop there, he asked five times, in five ways, to get me to agree to both embies. Not only was I willing to do two, but I could not have made that decision even if I did want to transfer both. The husband was almost a thousand miles away and unreachable that the time. How many children we purposefully have is not a decision that I could make without consulting with him. Finally, I just said we are only doing only one in a big girl voice that made him stop pestering me or at least I thought.

The embryologist finished prepping the single embryo and brought it into the room. At this point I was just elated to be almost finished with the whole thing and just get out of there. “You do realize that there is only a 30% chance of this working. I really hope this one works for you,” all said with the most condescending bordering on accusatory voice coming out of the doctor’s mouth. Basically, he was making sure that I understand that if this transfer did not take I was fully to blame. I wanted to scream and run out the room after stomping on his foot, but I decided to be a normal person and just wait. After the transfer no words were spoken to us by the doc, which was fine with me.

The more I have thought about the situation the angrier I get, which is very rare for me. 99.9% of the time things bother me for a day and then I am over it or at least very close to being over the situation. Not this time, because there are some very fundamental things wrong with this whole situation that could have had serious consequences for not only my family’s life but also Sabrina and her family. The responsibility that I feel for Sabrina and her family is overwhelming at times. Pregnancy is risky, we all know this, but when that risk is being taken on by someone who only wants to see you happily become a family it creates a need to do everything to reduce any risks. As a mother your first priority is the safety of your child, as an intended mother my first priority is to the woman who is giving our family the chance to grow.

In the eye of this fury hurricane I lost my ability to count. So if you have made it this far you get to hear the real news. Because our BETA would fall on a Sunday the nurse agreed to give us an order for a BETA today. At 8dp5dt our number is a 71!!!! Next BETA Monday!