All the Things!

23 May

Hi.

5 months ago, I was at a loss as to where our lives were heading.  We had moved into another rental and our infertility was still unresolved.  I didn’t know what I wanted or what to do.  Time was just moving forward.

Since then?

We bought a house!
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It’s a sweet little 2 bedroom house with a loft and an excellent shed in the back.  I’m painting and tearing things apart faster than Jeremy is comfortable with.  It’s been cathartic.

I got promoted to supervisor at work and I still LOVE my job!  So much fabric and so many wonderful people. 🙂

We’ve decided to seriously explore foster care.

I’m not saying that we’re definitely going to become foster parents, but we’re moving in that direction.  We’re going to take the 10 week course offered by our county.  We’re going to talk to other people who have fostered and/or adopted through our county about the nitty gritty, the bad, and the good.  We’re going to read read read.  And hopefully, by the fall, we’ll be able to make a decision that we feel good about.  I think we’re slowly but surely leaning towards doing it.  The more I think about it, the more I want it.

I really want a baby.  Really.  But I’m not ready to use our last 2 embryos yet.  I’m not ready to go back to that.
Maybe, just maybe, fostering to adopt is the way our family was meant to come together.  Maybe we came to North Carolina not because we could finally afford IVF, but because there’s a child here already who is supposed to be ours.

We’ve spent the 8 months since our last IVF cycle failed being happy with our life.  We’ve gotten settled and secure.  We’re not going anywhere.  It’s time to start exploring our options again.  And I’m so excited to see what this year could bring. 🙂

More soon as we start to traverse life more seriously.

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A House Does Not the Family Make

1 Dec

We moved the last of our belongings into our interim house last night.  I said a silent “goodbye” to our first house in North Carolina as we drove away.  It wasn’t as sad as leaving the house with the blue kitchen, but it was still bittersweet.

That was the second house I’ve lived in and expected to bring a baby home to.  When we moved here, I was sure the IVF would work and we would have a baby by the end of the year.  My due date is this week.  My two beautiful embryos, who gave me so much hope, should be here with us this week.  They should have grown into two beautiful babies.  They tried so hard and I love them so much for that.  They made it further than the two who came after, but hopefully not as far as the two still to come.  I love all six of them still.  I love the one before that.  I’ve known about seven of my babies and the fact that five of them are gone is still so heartbreaking to think about.

These four years have taught me that you just can’t force things to happen.  When we moved into our first house, the house with the blue kitchen, I thought the IUIs were going to work.  I thought that stupid yellow bedroom would be full of baby stuff before long.  I got pregnant and then I wasn’t.  A year later, I painted it and we replaced the flooring.  I refinished my grandmother’s dresser.  I knit and sewed for my baby.  I was determined to build it and confident that they would come.  But they didn’t.

And then we were offered the chance to try IVF, so we sold our house and left all the memories that never came true with it.  We moved to North Carolina and I unpacked all of our baby things.  The IVF was going to work.  I lined our baby books up on the dresser.  I filled one whole drawer with hand knit and hand sewn booties and socks.  I filled another drawer with hand knit sweaters.  I hung the dress my great grandmother made in the closet.  A box held fabric swatches for bedding and curtains.  The baby tub my mom bought us sat on the closet shelf.  I was so sure this would be my baby’s first bedroom.

And then we found out our first IVF transfer worked.  I was pregnant and so thankful and so happy.  But then they died. Again.  And then our next transfer failed.  Our lease was up on that house.  So I packed up every stitch of baby.  Every piece of maternity clothing.  I packed away the larger jeans I bought because IVF made me gain so much weight.  I pulled out all of my extra IVF meds to send to friends who needed them.  I put it all in storage, far away from our interim house.  Out of sight, away from me.  If I don’t see it, it won’t make me cry.  If we don’t have a room for it, I won’t try to get it out.  I won’t sew for our baby anymore.  I won’t knit for someone who might never come.  I won’t buy another house with those thoughts in my mind.

A house does not the family make.  Family is intangible.  Family is who you love, even when they’re far away or not even on this earth anymore.  I love my babies with all my heart, but I can’t make room for them anymore.  I can’t keep putting my life on hold and live with the “what if’s”.  They aren’t here.  We are.  I want to cherish the life I have.  I don’t want reminders of what I don’t lingering behind closed doors.  So in storage it will all stay.  Away from here.  Maybe one days we’ll need it all for real.

Reblogged: “Open Letter to Women of Infertility Everywhere” by The Courage in Me

20 Nov

I had to reblog this from The Courage in Me.  She said it perfectly and eloquently and better than I ever could have.  I’ve felt all of this so many times over.  I feel it even now.

Grab some tissues and read on, friends.

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Open Letter to Women of Infertility Everywhere

Dear Infertility Sister:

I’m writing because I know that you’re hurting. I know it’s not easy being you. I know you feel wounded and alone.

I know that it doesn’t make sense that you are being excluded from experiencing what your own mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends have all been able to do without any trouble.

I know that you feel immeasurable desperation to have control and a say in when to have a baby. You wonder why everyone else gets to plan and choose and you don’t.

I know you feel powerless at the hands of your body. I know you hate your body because it has betrayed and rejected you and made you its victim. When you were a little girl, your body deceived you into believing that one day you’d get to have a baby. Sometimes you remember when you played with your friends and put a ball under your shirt and pretended to be pregnant. You remember how much you loved your baby dolls and how you believed that one day the scenario would be real.

I know that you feel stupid when you recall the times you had pregnancy scares and all the years you used contraceptives. You now realize it was all in vain because your body isn’t able to do what it was created to do.

I know that you feel defeated and resentful for doing everything you were supposed to do to prepare your body for pregnancy. You ate right. You stopped drinking. You bought pre-natal vitamins. And I know that you still take prenatal vitamins, you still avoid alcohol and all the other pregnancy no-no’s …just in case maybe this month you really are pregnant.

I know that you’ve kept track religiously of your periods for what seems like an eternity and that you have tried every imaginable trick and tip you’ve heard about or read about in an attempt to conceive your miracle.

I know you are sick and tired of seeing doctors and being physically and emotionally vulnerable with each insemination or in-vitro you do. You’re exhausted of being poked and prodded; of having ultrasounds, blood tests, procedures, and surgeries. You’ve endured enough humiliation to last a lifetime, opening your legs for strangers month after month, each time praying that this will be the last time.

I know that you hate yourself for gaining 10lbs due to fertility treatments and had to buy bigger clothes but not for the reason you wish it were.

I know how nervous you were the first time you had to give yourself an injection and how you made your partner do it for you because your hand was shaking so badly.

I know you don’t sleep for two weeks after you ovulate, wondering if this is the month that the stick will have two lines.

I know that you obsess over your cycle and every symptom you feel or think you feel that could indicate that you are in fact pregnant this month. You push on your breasts hoping they are tender and sore more than usual during this time of the month. Each time you go to the bathroom, you check the tissue to see if there is any sign of your period…even if it’s in the middle of the night, you turn on the light. And if you see pink or red, you say some strong prayers that it’s only implantation spotting and not really your period.

I know that you feel like throwing those injections, vaginal suppositories, and pills out the window after every failed cycle or that you sob when the doctor calls to tell you that the test was negative.

I know that each month when you get your period you privately fall apart and cry out in anger, frustration, and sorrow because with each failed cycle, you have a little funeral in your head for a baby that wasn’t. You cry and grieve for the loss of your dream.

I know that you don’t know how much longer you can put yourself and your partner through this torture. You question if the strain on your marriage, on your savings, and on your sanity is all worth it.

I know you feel like you’re going crazy because infertility has taken over your life and has become a full-time job; a round-the-clock obsession; the only topic you think about and talk about.

I know you wonder if you are a terrible person for not being happy for your friend when she tells you that she’s expecting. I know that you feel jealous and sad that she gets to have what you want so desperately. I know that when you hang up the phone with her, you cry. I know that you feel guilty for avoiding her now that she’s pregnant but it’s the only way that you can cope with your misery.

I know that you feel like screaming when you get yet another invitation to a baby shower and you contemplate if you are emotionally strong enough to attend. I know how much courage it takes to RSVP. I know that most of the time you don’t go to baby showers, but that if you decide to go, how draining it is to endure three hours of fake-smiling pretending to be happy when you’re not. I know how painful it is to make it through the party listening to everyone talk non-stop about pregnancy and babies. And how much it hurts when someone you’ve never met asks if you have children.

I know that buying a baby gift seems like an impossible task. I know that walking into Babies R Us is out of the question because you don’t think you can handle it without breaking down in tears in the store. I know that sometimes you’ve given your friends money and asked them to buy the gift for you.

I know that seeing co-workers go on maternity leave is like a knife in your heart. You wonder if your turn will ever come. You started trying to conceive long before any of them and here you are, still trying. They all got pregnant within a few months of trying, had a full-term pregnancy, went on leave, came back, and you’re still there, feeling left behind, still waiting for your dream, still feeling incomplete.

I know that you cringe at the sight of the maternity department and wonder if you’ll ever get to wear the clothes so many women complain about. I know that maybe you even have a pair of maternity pants at home and that occasionally you try them on and imagine what it will be like to someday have a belly big enough to fill them out.

I know that sometimes you have thrown away birth announcements unopened. And in a moment of rage you’ve torn them up into a million pieces.

I know that when you stand in line at the grocery store, you avert your eyes away from the baby sitting in the shopping cart in front of you because it’s too painful to see his smiling face. And once in a while, when you’re feeling strong enough, you steal glances, imagining what your baby might look like someday.

I know that it hurts when you walk past the baby section in stores because it is a reminder of what you want and can’t have. I know you daydream of one day shopping for diapers, strollers, and baby clothes.

I know that when you see a pregnant woman you feel envy and a deep sense of injustice. You wonder why she has the right to be pregnant and you don’t. You wonder if she struggled with infertility too or is it just you who is going through this torment.

I know how difficult it is to walk past the room in your house that should have been a nursery by now. I know that some days you walk in there and look around, wondering if you’ll ever see a baby sleeping in a crib. And sometimes you just have to close the door of that empty room because it represents the emptiness you feel inside.

I know that you wait until the last minute to plan vacations or parties because your life is on an indefinite hold. How can you plan a trip six months from now when you might be pregnant by then? Your live your life in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

I know how hard it is when you run into old acquaintances and they ask if you ever plan on having a baby because you’ve been married for so long and you’re not getting any younger and your clock is ticking.

I know you avoided going to your high school reunion because you couldn’t bear the thought of hearing old friends sharing stories of their children or having to explain why you don’t have any of your own.

I know that the holidays are difficult and depressing because they are not what you envisioned for yourself this year. You wonder when your turn will come to celebrate your baby’s first Christmas. When will you get to shop for gifts for your little bundle? When will you get to send out holiday photo cards featuring your pride and joy? And I know that you disappear from the room at the holiday party when you see the moms coordinating a group photo of the kids.

I know that you detest Mother’s Day with a passion because you yearn to celebrate what is supposed to be the highlight of your life.

I know that you change the channel when you see commercials featuring babies, pregnancy tests, and ovulation kits. It makes you feel cynical seeing the giddy faces of the women in the commercials because that is not your reality. Everywhere you look, you see happy mothers with their sweet, warm, precious babies. You are surrounded with reminders – when you drive past a playground, when you see a mother on a walk with a stroller, when you attend a child’s birthday party, when you see ultrasound photos on friends’ refrigerators or on co-workers’ desks. No matter what, you can’t escape this hell on earth you’re living.

I know that you have a secret shopping bag in your closet with gender neutral items like pacifiers, rattles, and onesies in hopes that maybe the Law of Attraction is real and it works. And maybe you’ve already bought a card to give to your spouse telling him he’s going to be a father.

I know you daydream about telling your spouse that you’re pregnant and you imagine how you will announce it to your family and friends. I know you actually already have it all planned out.

I know that you wonder how your partner can choose to remain with you if you are unable to produce a child. You wonder if maybe he will leave eventually. You feel like a disappointment. You feel like a liar for promising him a family someday. You feel the need to apologize to him month after month, year after year. You feel the need to thank him for sticking it out and not running away.

I know that when you got the dog you didn’t think you’d ever have or wouldn’t have for a long time, it was because you needed someone to nurture, mother, and love. Maybe you cried the first time you cuddled with her because the happiness you felt was so bittersweet. She isn’t the baby you wanted but she is someone that needs you and loves you unconditionally just like you know your baby would. She is someone you can take care of and brag about and share stories about. She gives you a reason to get up in the morning and she always licks your tears away.

I know that you feel tremendous sorrow when you see children being mistreated or you hear news stories of babies found in dumpsters. You think to yourself…if only those mothers knew what a precious gift they have been given. You get angry with God. Why did He bless those women with motherhood and not you?

I know that it upsets you to hear your friends laugh and make jokes at how fertile they are and that they got pregnant even while being on the pill or on their first try. I know you can’t stand to hear women say they got pregnant by accident or when they call their child an “oops baby”.

I know that it angers you to hear women complain about their pregnancy or babies. How dare they not appreciate what you wish so badly you could have?

I know you feel uncomfortable and awkward when you’re among women and the conversation turns to pregnancy and babies. You feel like an outsider; like you don’t fit in; like you aren’t part of a club you so desperately want to be a part of.

I know that you feel like punching people in the face when they make stupid, ignorant comments in an attempt to make you feel better about your childlessness.

I know that your friends think they’re easing your distress when they say “Well, at least you’re having fun trying” but they have no idea that sex is no longer passionate or playful, but rather an obligation and a job. Your friends don’t know that your sex life is no longer spontaneous. Sex is always scheduled and only for the purpose of reproducing. They don’t know that you lie in bed for 30 minutes afterward with your hips propped up on a pillow, with tears streaming down your face, while you pray to God, Jesus, and all the angels and saints to please make your dreams come true this time around.

I know you resent your friends and family for their obliviousness to your suffering and that they think that if you “just adopt” or “just don’t think about it” it will all be better. If only it were that simple; if only they knew the depth of your wounds.

I know that you feel despair as you wonder if maybe you are meant to have a child-free life.

I know that you are afraid that it’s never going to happen. You are terrified of living the rest of your life feeling unfulfilled, unloved, bitter, and inadequate.

I know that you wonder if you will ever be able to walk away; to let go; to make peace. You question how you will know when it’s time to stop trying; you ask yourself if giving up means you failed; you question if you are indeed a failure.

I know that you feel like you’ve been robbed of your innocence because you can never look at a pregnant woman or baby the same way.

I know that your infertility and your desire to get pregnant, to have a baby, and to be a mother have become your life’s mission. I know that you wake up every morning and fall asleep every night thinking about pregnancy.

I know that sometimes you wonder if the only pregnancy you’ll ever experience is the one you have in your dreams while you sleep.

I know that you wonder if your turn will ever come; will your dream ever come true; will this chapter of your life ever end; will you ever feel the joy of pregnancy and motherhood; will you ever hear the word “mommy”; will the pain ever go away.

I know that you ache to have morning sickness; to feel a kick; to have a baby shower; to go through labor and delivery; to hold your baby; to see his face; to feel like God didn’t forget about you.

I know that you feel that this is all some sick, cruel joke and you wonder if you are being punished for something; you wonder why this is happening; why is this the life you’ve been given; what did you do to deserve this kind of pain and suffering; why are you not able to experience what you feel is your divine right as a woman; why don’t you get to have what every other woman seems to take for granted; why don’t you get to be like everyone else; why have you been deprived of this joy and wonder of life.

I know that you live in a lonely world feeling like the only woman in your circle of friends or in your family to be burdened with this tragedy.

I know that you feel broken and less-than. I know that you feel shame. I know that you wonder if maybe you aren’t worthy of being a mother. I know that infertility has dimmed your light.

I know you wonder if the storm you’ve lived in for so long will ever pass; will the sun ever shine again; will you ever see a rainbow.

I know how you feel because I was once you.

I wish there were magic words I could say to make the hurt stop. I wish there were some deep words of wisdom I could give you that would have it all make sense.

All I can tell you is this:

You are not broken. You are not less-than. You are worthy of love. You are whole. Forgive yourself because you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are deserving of acceptance and belonging. Be kind to yourself and love yourself. Know that you are enough. You matter greatly. You are loved. You are not alone.

All my love,

Jackie

Oh, Hi There.

2 Nov

Hello.

Nice to see you.

2 months, eh?  Who knew?  Time really does fly when you’re having fun.  And when you’re distracted.  Distractions are the best.  THE BEST.

I started my new job 2 months ago and I LOVE it!  I moved into full time this past week and it’s been wonderful.  It’s a great company, full of great people, with great benefits (including SO MUCH FABRIC!)!

Other than that, we’ve started house hunting here in North Carolina.  I think we’re really here to stay.  We found a short term rental to move into while we continue to house hunt.  It’s tiny.  Like half the size of our current house.  I can’t wait.  This next house?  We’re buying it for us.  Just us.  No potential extra little people.  Just us as we are right now.  It’s going to be our house.  Maybe the dogs will have their own bedroom.

Our 2 embryos are still frozen in Raleigh, where they’ll stay for the foreseeable future.  Our Dr at UNC almost had me talked into a December transfer after 2 months of lurpon and an endometrial biopsy/scratch.  Almost.  And then I found myself having a mild panic attack at work when I thought about using our last embryos and going through the hell that is IVF again.  So frozen they’ll stay.  Our little frozen backup plans.  We’ll use them eventually.  We didn’t create them only to leave them frozen.  But we want to enjoy life for a while.  4 years is enough.  4 years of life being on hold while we try to force something that obviously isn’t happening right now.

So we’re living and just being.  And breathing.  And relaxing.  And trusting that God has a greater plan than repeated failed IVF attempts for us and that our story will include more than multiple miscarriages.

Having accepted this, life has become so much more peaceful and so much easier.  We’re enjoying our family as it is and rolling with anything that comes our way.  It’s sweet and perfect.  Everything else in our life seems to be falling into place.  It seems like once we stopped fighting this, things started moving forward.

I want children.  Badly.  Babies still make me so weepy.  But I’m choosing to be content and joyful with what I have.  The sadness that was consuming me was no way to live.  We lived like that and with that for longer than we should have.  I want to love my life.  I want to love the people in my life.  I’m loving the life we’ve built here and I’m so excited to see what comes next.

I don’t know how much I’ll blog now.  For once, I don’t have a lot to say.   But I’m still here.  And we’re still moving on. 🙂

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Everything is going to be ok.

23 Aug

Thank you for your kind words after last post.  

I think we’re doing better.  I know I’m doing better.  

I scheduled an appointment with Dr. M on September 10th.  While they told me I could get going on the last transfer right away, I asked if it would be ok if we took some time off.  Indefinitely.  Yes, we still have 2 embryos.  Yes, we still desperately want children.  No, we’re not going to work on adopting in the meantime.  No, we won’t be trying naturally.  I’ve been given the go ahead to stay on birth control until we decide that we’re ready to use our last 2 embryos.  I’m thankful they’re ok with this because I’m pretty sure the endometriosis I spent all of last summer battling has returned and is starting to make my life miserable again.  Birth control is my friend.  I will tell you that popping a birth control pill and a prenatal vitamin every night is it’s own kind of special weirdness.

Jeremy is hoping I’ll be ready to try again by the end of the year because we’ve met our out of pocket max on our health insurance this year.  If we transfer before December 31, we’ll only pay our normal clinic fee and meds, ultrasound, blood work, and transfer will be covered.  Part of me hopes I’ll be ready by then too, but a larger part of me knows I need more time than that.  

I don’t have any faith in these embryos or in my body and that’s not how I want to move forward with them.

With all that being the case, it is time for me to get out of the house.  I’ve been home and waiting for something to happen for the past 8 1/2 months.  I’ve been getting more and more antsy and anxious as time has gone on.  I’m not a homebody.  I like seeing people for the most part.

I mentioned I had an interview last week.  I got the job!  I start next Wednesday and I’m so excited.  I’ll work anywhere from 16 to 30 hours a week.  It will probably be closer to 30 as we get closer to the holidays.  It’s with a small custom fabric printing company.  I can’t wait.  I wish I could have started this past week.  This is just what I need to get out of the funk that I’m in.  I’m more than ready to settle into this company and enjoy my life as it is right now.  No doctors, no medication, no extreme ups and downs, no more wasted time.  I am sad that we’re putting our family aspirations on hold, but my hope is that by the time we both feel ready to try again, we’ll be able to afford to either adopt or buy a house depending on the outcome.  

I’m only 26.  My mom had me at 31 and adopted my sister a couple years after that.  “We have time” has become my mantra.  We have time.  We have time.  We have time.  And everything is going to be ok.

A New Normal

12 Aug

On Sunday morning, I made my way into Raleigh with my husband and mother- and father-in-law in tow to get my first beta of my second transfer.  I was so nervous that I was making myself just sick to my stomach.

We had some time to kill between the 8am blood draw and when church started so we grabbed breakfast.  I checked my clock and checked my clock and checked my clock.  They said they’d call by noon.

Walking into church was a relief.  It was a needed and welcome distraction.  I said “Hello” to a few different people and sat down to just breathe.  Not 5 minutes into church my phone vibrated that I had a voicemail.  It hadn’t even rung.  I walked out to listen to the message that told me that my gut had been right.  There was zero hcg present in my blood.  There was no baby.  The embryos had died somewhere between transfer and then.  The doctor who left the message was so compassionate and so sweet.

I took a few minutes and thought I had myself composed enough to walk back in.  I made it to my seat and then I couldn’t hold back the tears.  I’m thankful our church has a VERY long worship time at the beginning of each Sunday.  The loud music kept me from being too conspicuous.  By the time the sermon started, I had pulled it together.

Since then, I’ve been mostly fine.  As long as no one asks how I am.  I’m not ok with this.  But I have accepted it.

Jeremy and I have talked a lot about when to do our final transfer and we both agree that taking a bit of time off is probably the best course of action for now.  This last transfer was so emotional.  It was so hard to deal with from start to finish.  I may have been healthier physically for this transfer, but I was not healthier emotionally.  I need to get my body and my emotions in check before we do this last transfer.  These last 2 embryos are our last shot at biological children and I owe them the very best chance at life.

So I will continue going to the gym and strengthening my body.  I will work on my emotions and my faith.  My faith has been both shattered and strengthened in these past few weeks, if that’s possible and makes sense.  I will try to return to some kind of normalcy.  My life has been so up in the air since we moved to North Carolina.  That needs to change.  Our track record tells me that I won’t be pregnant or be having a baby any time soon.  It’s time to find a new normal.  A normal that works for our family as it is right now.  If and when our family moves from 2 humans, 2 dogs, and 2 cats to 3 humans, 2 dogs, and 2 cats then our normal will adapt and change with it.

I have a job interview tomorrow.  I applied on Sunday, just a few hours after negative beta and got an interview invite on Monday.  It’s part time, but seems exactly like the kind of job I need right now.  I’m hoping and praying this is the beginning of my new normal.

Negative Nancy

7 Aug

I am not in a good place.  Well, actually, I’m in a better place than I was last night and this morning, when the most I could manage was staring at the ceiling and sobbing.  Yea.  I suppose right now, I’m resigned.

I don’t think this transfer worked.  Last transfer, I knew I was pregnant 5 days post transfer.  I felt pregnant.  I felt so positive.

This time, 6 days post transfer, there’s no hint of a second line and I feel so not pregnant it’s ridiculous.  Even though I’m still taking all of my medications, my progesterone tummy has started going away.  My boobs don’t hurt.  I’ve finally started sleeping again.  Food doesn’t have more or less appeal than normal.  Other than wanting to cry constantly because I’m just so gosh darn sad,  I feel like I did before I started my transfer meds.  And it sucks.

I know every pregnancy is different.  I’ve heard it from everyone already.  I know I don’t necessarily want to feel like I did last time, because look how that turned out.  I know.  I know it’s still somewhat early.  But I can’t help but feel that there’s no little person inside of me.  My gut feeling is telling me that there’s nothing there.

I’m a hot mess.  Thank goodness for Jeremy and that he works from home these days.  Being alone while we wait for the end of this would be so incredibly brutal.

Beta is Sunday morning.