A Happy Ending

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Even though I don’t always find the time to post as much as I would like to; I love this site.  I love the community that we’ve created.  I love the interactions on the Facebook page.  And I love the stories shared by all of you.  But there is one little thing that is sometimes hard.  Sometimes I find out that old friends, those I knew growing up, are also struggling.  In some ways, the familiarity makes it easier for them to approach me with their stories and questions.  But my heart aches for them in a different way.  While I shed tears for all of you who share your details with me, it really hits close to home when my childhood friends pop up on my radar…simply because of infertility.

Today and old friend shares her story – her happy ending.  After years and years and tests and more tests…after pregnancy and loss and fears and bed rest…after ups and downs and in betweens…she finally has her happy ending.  Truly – I couldn’t be happier.

Please welcome my old friend from Connecticut – I hope her words and story inspire some of you to JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

 

I’m no expert on fertility but I do have my own story and if it makes just one person feel less alone for even just a minute my smile will be a little bigger today. I hope that person is you!

My husband and I were married in the spring of 2008. About a month before our wedding my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died almost a year to the day later. I tell you this because it was the main reason we decided to hold off trying to have kids right away. This was a big decision for us since my husband was 37 and I was 33 when we got married. Right after he passed we both decided the time felt right. And so our bumpy road began…

We started trying on our own in 2009 for about  6 months per my OB’s recommendations. I wasn’t sure how the game was going to play out because I went on the pill in college to regulate my periods. After 6 months with very irregular periods and no pregnancies my OB referred me to the “specialist” in their practice. After a  battery of tests I was diagnosed with PCOS. I wasn’t surprised knowing my cycle and family history. The next step was Clomid. I took it and went for my first ultrasound. At that point everything came to an abrupt stop when the ultrasonographer advised me to “stay away from my husband unless I wanted to be the next Octomom on the cover of People Magazine”. Yes, those were her exact words and no, she didn’t have to say them twice. Next stop: a Reproductive Endocronologist.  We got a referral and off we went.

Back to square one. Lots more tests and LOTS more waiting. The next part of the story is pretty monotonous: first IVF cycle- FAIL, second IVF cycle- FAIL, third IVF cycle- FAIL, and yes, the fourth IVF cycle- FAIL. All along I kept thinking there had to be something else wrong with me but my doctor kept saying “we just needed to get it right”. After our fourth cycle failed we decided it was time for a second opinion . So I gathered up my records and we started all over again.

During the first meeting with our new RE he asked what our doctor had said about the septum in my uterus. I’m sorry, the WHAT???!!!  Apparantly the ultrasonographer had written, “question uterine septum” in her notes and our doctor failed to address it. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of anger I felt in that moment. My instincts were right all along; there WAS something else wrong with me.  What an incompetent a**hole!!!! I had been to hell and back over the past 2 years  and it potentially could have been avoided?! After I stopped swearing and wiped my tears  I was able to listen to my new doctor’s plan: remove the uterine septum and try again.  Ok, sounded simple.  Can we do it tomorrow? Of course not.  Didn’t you know that everything in IVF takes twice as long?! Especially for me and my 40 day cycles. So in October 2010 I had my septum removed and then, you guessed it, we had to wait for my uterus to heal. At that point we decided to enjoy the holidays, drink LOTS of wine, do a bunch of skiing and start again after the New Year.

We started our fifth IVF cycle in January and on Valentine’s Day 2012 we found out we were having twins. TWINS! Oh my! Of course we always knew it was a risk, especially when we put two blasotcysts in, but we never thought it would come to fruition. After all, I’d never gotten pregnant before.

Next chapter: the IVF pregnancy. By this time I was what they call Advanced Maternal Age (AMA) or as I call it- OLD … 37 to be exact. I chose a new OB who was high risk since I was now old and carrying twins. All was going great. We were lucky, my husband was self employed so he was able to come to all my appointments. At 12 weeks I had my appointment with my OB in the morning and then my ultrasound in the afternoon. Since I worked in the hospital where my OB was it was easy to schedule things like that. I told my husband to only make the drive for the fun part; the ultrasound. During my appointment with my OB she said she wanted to “take a quick peek” at the babies. Ok, cool with me. I’ll never forget her face when she told me there was only one heartbeat. It’s all kind of a blur after that. After a day or two I picked myself up because Baby A was looking great and I still had a lot to be excited about.

Next stop:  the level 2 ultrasound. Look at all the cute baby parts and it’s a girl! Yay! Then, in walks my OB to tell us there’s a “bright spot” on the heart, also called a cardiac echogenic focus. She said It’s one of the many markers for Downs Syndrome. Are you freaking kidding me?! Is this a joke?! Without any other markers, which we didn’t have, the risk is very low, but there’s still a risk. And then she said because of the demise of Baby B there’s no way we could do the blood test to get the exact risk. Our only option was an amnio, which carries a 1 in 200 risk of miscarriage. Go home and think about it. Cue the tears. These tears were the ones I saved up from the miscarriage when I was trying to be all postiive for Baby A plus the tears of having to make a decision to have an amnio. In other words, there were a lot of them. My husband and I had many conversations about whether to do the amnio  but what it came down to was I could never forgive myself if the amnio was negative and then I had a miscarriage. Altough the risk for that was low, the way things had gone thus far I was convinced that would have been my fate.  So we decided against the amnio and hoped for the best.

Fast forward to week 25. I woke up one morning just not feeling right. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something was just not right. If it hadn’t been Friday I probably would have  blown it off but I lived almost an hour from the hospital and didn’t want to drag myself in on Saturday. So, I waltzed down to the clinic to let them know how I was feeling. They did an internal and hooked me up to the monitor. What do you know, I was in premature labor at 25 weeks. I had just bought myself a full ride to labor and delivery filled with steroids, lots of magnesium and antibiotics. All I kept thinking was after all this I could not have this baby at 25 weeks. It was way too early. She wasn’t cooked enough. Thankfully they were able to stop the labor but I’d be going home to bedrest for the next 15 weeks.

My OB said my ultimate goal was 37 weeks and after that this baby girl could come whenever she was ready. Well 37 weeks came and went and I was still pregnant. Now, I live in New England where we have a few hot months a year so central air conditioning doesn’t exist. At least not in my house. So by 37 weeks, in my hot as hell house, I was past ready to have this baby girl. And sure enough at week 39, in the middle of the night, my water broke. So off we went to the hospital. Here’s the irony of this whole story: after being on bedrest for 15 weeks I had to be induced. Ha! After a much needed epidural and 16 hours of labor, on October 23, 2012, our healthy, beautiful girl, Caroline, was born.

So here I sit writing to you. I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t easy. It was 4 years of heartbreak and physical pain. There were so many days I cried thinking it was never going to happen. All my friends were having their second and third kids and I was still trying to have one. There were lots of pity parties in my house and if you wanted to come you’d better bring red wine, and lots of it! It got to the point where friends didn’t know what to say to me anymore so they stopped saying anything at all. There were many days I felt like my husband and I were on an island and I wondered where all my friends went. I felt like they just didn’t understand.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. I can tell you that when I wake up to my beautiful girl smiling at me every morning I know it was all worth it. I equate it to labor amnesia; I remember it was horribly painful but I don’t remember the pain I felt when there was a hole in my heart. Only that it was there. Perhaps that’s what will make me do it all over again….someday.

It will all feel like too much sometimes because it just is. And on those days when you feel so alone try to remember that you’re not. Sometimes the most comforting words come from someone you’ve never met through blogs. So stay strong, trust your instincts and forgive yourself for whatever it is you’re feeling. You can do it.

Thank you, my sweet friend.  May motherhood be all that you hoped for and then some.  xoxoxoxo

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Find the Fight

Confession: I also drink a lot of coffee. 

 

You hear a lot of catchphrases when you’re wandering your way through infertility.  And that’s exactly what it is, by the way:  Wandering.

 

We think of it as struggling.  We think of it as a roller coaster (which it often is).  And we think of it as lonely (right again).

 

But what it really is, when it comes right down to it, is wandering through an endless maze complete with fun house mirrors (you know, just to mess with your head) and hidden doorways (ok, maybe I just always wanted a hidden and doorway and that’s why I picture it that way).  We’ll try a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  It might be this, but it might also be that.  Actually…it’s unexplained.

 

It’s a maze.  It’s an endless, frustrating, anxiety-producing maze.  And the phrases people throw out there to somehow make it better?  We could live without those.

 

Hang in there, something will work out.

 

Or it won’t and every time you say that to me I will want to scream.

 

Don’t give up. 

 

Do I look like I’m giving up?  Would I still be talking about this if I had given up?

 

You’re next.  I can feel it.

 

Really?  That’s funny…because all I can seem to feel are bruises from the shots and hormones racing through my body, making me crazier by the second.  But let’s go with your feeling, shall we?

 

It’s a journey.

 

This one gets me every time.  What does it even mean?  In my mind, a journey takes place on a boat or down a nice relaxing dirt road.  It doesn’t involve weekly medical appointments or shots in my rear.  There is no sex on command or IUI in the journey of my dreams.  I think the people who rely on the journey reference have never actually been on a journey (or even fantasized about one, clearly).

 

You will hear these phrases over an over again.  People don’t often know what to say.  On the bright side, at least they are saying something.

 

So here’s my catchphrase for you, my friends.  When you hear something inane that makes you want to rip your hair out, when you hit a wall and can’t stand one more appointment, or when you just want to walk away from everything…

 

Find.  The.  Fight.

 

Infertility isn’t a journey.  It isn’t fun.  It isn’t relaxing.  And you might or might not find what you’re looking for – there are no guarantees.

 

You have to find the fight.

 

It’s not your job to educate the world about infertility.  You can’t change the way people react when you share your latest infertile thoughts.  And you don’t have control over the outcome of the testing or medication trials.

 

But you can fight.

 

You can take that frustration and make it useful.  You can ask more questions, question the answers, and seek more opinions.  You can hide out when you need a break and come back strong when you’re ready for another round.

 

YOU can find the fight.

 

And as for those people with the catchphrases and don’t give up speeches?  Go ahead…send them my way.  I can handle them.

 

Find the fight in 2013, my friends.  I know you can.

 

 

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