Thursday, November 29, 2012

Some Final Thoughts

I told the story of our journey to Nugget for a couple reasons. One, I needed to. Whenever things are hard, I have always processed my emotions best through my writing. It is a release for me as well as an eye opener a lot of the time of what I'm feeling, why and what I need to do. 

Two, infertility is not an easy subject to discuss. It's complicated and messy and loaded with emotion and vulnerability. If our story could help at least one person, I felt a responsibility to share it.

Every day I am so incredibly grateful to have Nugget growing in my belly. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful.

Yet, part of me feels just a little guilty when I think of the women (and their husbands) I know who struggle with infertility. Who have struggled for years - much, much longer than we did - through multiple IVF procedures without their miracles. I think of them and wonder what makes me think our story is worth telling. We only struggled for a year. And for part of that year it wasn't really a struggle because we had only just started trying. 

I can't even begin to imagine the heartache and longing that they feel after years of trying. I think of how stories like ours  - couples who get pregnant on their own just before starting fertility treatments - must hurt them to their cores and make them wonder why it couldn't be them because I wonder why us.

So I have to remind myself that everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own pain. And one person's story doesn't take anything away from another's. What we went through was real. What I felt mentally and emotionally was real. It is as much a part of me as any of my other life experiences. I will carry that scar for the rest of my life. Yes it is not as big as I once feared it would be nor will I feel it as acutely as I did not that long ago, but I couldn't get rid of it if I tried. Nor would I want to.

We'll never know why us. But those hard months reinforced a lesson for me on the importance of faith. And if nothing else, it has made me really appreciate our growing miracle.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hump Day Humor: Ghost in an Elevator

This is funny in the if that were me, I'd be peeing myself I'd be so scared kind of way.



ANSWER - Tuesday Trivia: Explorers


What body of water was explorer Ponce de Leon looking for in the 14th century when he arrived in the New World?

Fountain of Youth

Congratulations to Moi for being the first - and only - to get the correct answer!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Trivia: Explorers

Tuesday Trivia is a weekly post of interesting trivia questions. Leave a comment with your answer or best guess, and come back tomorrow to see if you were right. Happy guessing!

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What body of water was explorer Ponce de Leon looking for in the 14th century when he arrived in the New World?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Trivia: Inventions

Tuesday Trivia is a weekly post of interesting trivia questions. Leave a comment with your answer or best guess, and come back tomorrow to see if you were right. Happy guessing!

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What safety device did King Gillette invent in 1903 that changed men's lives?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Twelve

We're having a baby! Our journey to get pregnant was not always an easy one. I wrote along the way. This post is from the last month... month twelve. Catch up with One Through Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven.   

We researched the REs that were recommended by the urologist. I even called my doctor to see if she had one she would recommend over the other. The research basically gave us nothing to make a decision one way or the other as all the reviews were about equal. So I made appointments to meet with both.

The first two weeks of the month were spent waiting anxiously for those appointments. Given what the urologist told us, I was nervous about jumping right into IVF but was trying to prepare myself for that process in case that was the route we took.

Both REs were optimistic about our chances of getting pregnant using IUI. One actually told us that he doesn't like to give guarantees, but he would bet on our chances. This news buoyed my spirits considerably and gave me so much hope. By the end of the week, we had chosen which RE we wanted to go with, and I made the appointment to meet with him again to plan out our first attempt at IUI.

I had accepted the reality that we needed help to conceive a baby. I wasn't thrilled about the situation, but I had reached a place of peace about it and was very confident that our journey would bring us a baby. As sure as I was the day I realized I wanted to marry John. I just knew.

Five days later I woke for my daily run and realized I hadn't started my period nor had my normal period-about-to-start symptoms. Not an incredibly huge clue since my period was due that day, but since my cycles always tend to run on the short side of the average 28 days, on a lark I decided to take a pregnancy test fully expecting a negative result given everything we had heard and learned in the past couple months.

The first test I took was the old dip the pee stick in urine and watch for two lines. Those tests can be somewhat difficult to interpret so when I got the second line - meaning positive - I blew it off and went for my run. But during my entire run, I kept thinking about that test. Was that line just an evaporation line or was it an honest-to-goodness positive line?

I couldn't be entirely sure. So when I got back from my run, I pulled out a digital pregnancy test out of my stash. You know, the ones that say Pregnant or Not Pregnant, just so I could be clear. I peed on the stick and then hopped in the shower for the few minutes it would take to show the results.

After I got out of the shower and saw the test. It said Pregnant - clear as shiny new glass - and I stood in the bathroom in shock for at least five minutes dripping water all over the floor.

The elation didn't come right away. Most of that day was spent in disbelief. I mean I had heard stories - countless stories - of couples who had been trying and was just about to start in vitro or IUI only to get suddenly pregnant on their own. I didn't think it would happen to us. I didn't DARE hope it would happen to us.

So that Tuesday when I had a positive test result, it was hard to believe. Also because I started psyching myself out with thoughts about false positives. And for that reason, I did not call my doctors - the RE or my regular lady bits doctor - with the news until the next day when I took three more pregnancy tests, and all three were positive. False positives can happen but are extremely, EXTREMELY rare five times in a row.

After a few days of shock, I started to feel excited. We were extremely blessed to get pregnant on our own, especially having just been to a support group meeting where I met with women many of whom had been trying for years. 

I am ecstatic, happy, over the moon, thrilled beyond belief. Except for one thing... no more beer or whiskey. Which in truth didn't upset me that much except that my last beer for the summer was a Corona and not my favorite... Sam Adams Summer Ale. 

But there's always next summer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: Unbroken

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken is the true story of a man named Louis Zamperini, who made a name for himself as an incredibly fast mile runner in the late 1930s. He was expected to be the first man to run a 4-minute mile. Then Pearl Harbor happened, and Zamperini joined the Army Air Forces as a bombardier. On a rescue mission in the Pacific, his plane went down. His story is one of survival, faith and perseverance first on the raft and then as a Japanese POW.
 
Hillenbrand is a thorough researcher peppering her book with small details that other writers would not have deemed necessary to Zamperini's story. But in her capable hands, the story is rich and robust and never dull. 
 
At times it was hard to read about the brutality and psychological torment that Zamperini and his fellow POWs endured, but their survival in spite of how they were treated, how they fought back in their own way, is inspiring.

If you're at all into World War II, this is a must read.

Next month - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Disclosure: No one paid me in any way, form or fashion for this review.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Half Way There

Dear Nugget,

Over the past month, I've wondered what it would feel like to feel you kick from within me as this was the month it usually happens. And Monday, when I finally shared what was my lowest point in mine and your daddy's journey to you, I got my wish.

It was a normal Monday morning. I was working away when I felt what I thought was you. I wasn't entirely sure at first because you took me by complete surprise. I stopped what I was doing so I could pay closer attention to you. It was hard not to hold my breath waiting for you to move again. 

The next time you moved, I knew for sure that it was you because there was nothing else it could possibly be. And for the next few minutes, I sat still and reveled in the strange and yet most wonderful feeling I've had in my entire life. A feeling that for a couple months earlier this year I wasn't sure I would get to experience.

So when I felt you for that first time, I cried. I cried for the joy of the moment, and I cried as I remembered the heartache I felt six months ago before you happened. 

It's been a big week in our house, Nugget. Not only did I feel you move, this week marks the halfway point of your time spent in utero. At our doctor appointment this week, we got to see you again on the sonogram screen and learned that you're a girl!

We were very excited about this news, and so is your extended family. We all can't wait to meet you in another 20 weeks or so.

Love,
Momma

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Trivia: Poetry

Tuesday Trivia is a weekly post of interesting trivia questions. Leave a comment with your answer - or best guess - and come back tomorrow to see if you were right. Happy guessing!

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What seaman is the hero of a famous poem by Coleridge?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eleven

We're having a baby! Our journey to get pregnant was not always an easy one. I wrote along the way. This post is from month eleven. Catch up with One Through Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten.  

I am acutely aware of every pregnant woman I see. I can't stop myself from staring at their bellies wondering what it's like. Wishing with all that I am that I was complaining of swollen ankles, constant peeing, and the heat commiserating with them on being pregnant during a Texas summer. 

The end of this month found us sitting in the urologist's office listening to his analysis of our situation. It wasn't good. Neither was it entirely bleak.

But at this moment in time, all I can think of is what we've lost, and I break. I find myself desperately needing to get my emotions out the best way I know how: through my writing. But I can't bring myself to publish what's going on just yet. So I wrote this.

Our chances of conceiving a baby on our own are at best 20%. Couples without infertility issues have an 85% chance.

And in the month leading up to that morning in the urologist's office, I have come to accept that we are in that 10-15% of couples who struggle with infertility.

It doesn't matter that our infertility is male factor. It is our infertility. One we must face together.

The urologist gave us a lot of information and the names of two reproductive endocrinologists (REs). We may try IUI aka artificial insemination. Or as it's more colloquially known, turkey baster. But we may not with the morphology, or shape of the sperm, being abnormally low.

Our best chance, according to the urologist, at getting pregnant is IVF/ICSI given our male factor. ICSI is when they inject the eggs with sperm rather than relying on the sperm to fertilize the eggs on their own. With our male factor infertility, ICSI is what we will need to do to ensure that we have embryos to transfer.

Even with IVF/ICSI, our chances of pregnancy are only 60-65%. It's a lot better than 25% on our own, but there's still a significant chance that we may never get pregnant.

And that's what I'm struggling with right now. Accepting that chance that I may never feel my baby grow inside of me. That chance that my stomach may never stretch tight, my boobs may never swell with milk. That chance that I may never feel my baby kick and move within my womb.

My heart breaks at these thoughts. Yet I must think them. For if we move forward through the IUI process and maybe eventually IVF, I need to be positive and focused on what I must do to give us the best chance at pregnancy. And for me to be positive, I can't be constantly worried that it might not work.

So I'm trying. I'm trying to accept that chance that it might not work so I can let it go. Acknowledge its possibility rather than ignore the elephant. Because when I do, I will be able to hope again.

And I desperately need to hope again.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November

October was a successful month.

I noticed that when I ran my ligament pain was worse. So I made the decision, even though it saddened me to make it, to stop running for now. Hopefully, I can start again before my belly gets too big, but I know this is the right decision for my body. This decision made it even easier for me to go to Bar Method classes at least four times a week as I'm not getting as much exercise as I used to.

At the beginning of October I did one of my favorite things: I went to a card making workshop. It spurred my creative juices and I not only came up with a plan for our Christmas cards. I started making them.

The library aka Cooper's room aka room where random crap ended up has officially been all cleaned out. As a bonus, we also bought our king bed so we moved the old queen bed and a dresser into the new guest bedroom. And with that I am allowing my focus to shift to Nugget's nursery. That room still needs to get cleaned out before we can start painting and buying furniture, but we're much closer than we were before.

A month full of win.

November is going to be no less crazy. But I'm still hoping to get a few things done:

1. Clean out the nursery and pick out the paint colors.

2. Decide what direction to go with our headboard.

3. Get ready for Christmas by working on our cards, planning my annual cookie exchange and decorating the house (don't worry, nothing comes out until after Thanksgiving).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Trivia: Presidents

Tuesday Trivia is a weekly blog post of interesting trivia questions. Leave a comment with your answer - or best guess - and come back tomorrow to see if you were right. Happy guessing!

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Which president could have been called "Bachelor Jim" for his distinction of never marrying?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ten

We're having a baby! Our journey to get pregnant was not always an easy one. I wrote along the way. This post is from month ten. Catch up with One Through Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine.   

FYI - This post is going to get a little graphic. You've been warned.

At the beginning of this month we got the results of the semen analysis. While there is hope, it wasn't all good news. Low sperm count and abnormal morphology.

(Morphology is the size and shape of the sperm. While abnormally shaped means the sperm have a harder time fertilizing an egg than normally shaped sperm, it does not mean we are at higher risk for birth defects.)

Everything else was normal.

So like I said, we still have hope, but both of us are still struggling with this news. The doctor gave us two options.

#1 We can retake the test in 4-6 weeks as sometimes low sperm counts improve on their own.

#2 Make an appointment to see a urologist.

We decided to retake the test, which we have but once again don't have the results by the time I've written this post. When we decided to take the test again, I did some googling to see if there was anything we could do to try and improve the sperm count. Several forums suggested vitamins and cutting out alcohol.

I don't think John was excited about either, but he was willing to do both. (How do you know if your husband is ready to have a baby? If he's willing to give up beer for a month in hopes of improving sperm count is a good sign.)

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The last test was the hysterosalpingography, or HSG, when dye is inserted into the uterus to test for whether or not the fallopian tubes are open.

I went in for this test over lunch one day thinking it would be only 30 minutes. Admitting took at least 15 minutes if not longer. After getting my fancy hospital bracelets and paying for the test (insurance didn't cover it), I get taken back into radiology where the nurse has me pee in a cup for a pregnancy test (I wasn't).

She takes me into the exam room and explains the procedure, what the doctor will do, hopefully what she'll see, what it will feel like, etc. She leaves to get the doctor, and while I sit there by myself, the power went out briefly and came back on after a second. The nurse comes back in, and we joke about how weird it was as she turns the machinery back on. I'm nervous as hell at this point but ready to soldier on by the time the nurse comes back in with the doctor. After a few brief niceties, we get down to business.

I lie back and stare at the ceiling while trying to ignore the fact that my legs are slightly shaking as she inserts the speculum. As she cleans my cervix before inserting the catheter, the power goes out. Again. Only it takes a few seconds for the backup generator to kick on.

Let me tell you something. Lying on a cold metal table in the dark with legs wide open with two people you haven't known longer than 15 minutes who just moments ago were staring at your cervix while a speculum is holding your vagina open is not exactly the most comfortable situation to be in.

With the backup generator, the lights come on but not the machinery. So I lie there, again with legs open and speculum in my vagina, for another minute or two while we wait to see if the power will kick back on. Eventually we decide it's not going to any time soon, and this has already taken enough time out of my day so the speculum is taken out, and I'm permitted to close my legs and sit up.

All of this is hilarious now. But at the time, I just wanted the damn test done.

Since there were still a few days left in my current cycle that we could do the test without having to worry about ovulation, I rescheduled to come back in a couple days.

Luckily, when I went back, the power stayed on the whole time, and I managed to complete the test. (Turns out some construction down the street knocked out the power for the entire block.)

The second time the male radiologist performed the test. Which I was not thrilled about. There's a reason why I prefer a female gynecologist. But I wasn't going to wait another month just to get the female radiologist. So I let the man inject the dye into my uterus. How did that feel? Well. Like bad cramps. Really really bad cramps. But the test only lasted a few minutes, and I blessedly got the results as I sat on the table with four different kinds of fluids leaking from my vagina (KY, iodine, dye and blood).

My tubes are open. Thank you sweet baby Jesus.

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Next month we get the results of the second semen analysis, and I start Clomid.