If you didn’t read Part 1 you can catch up here.
I wanted to start where we left off. I am now 2 days post-op from my hysteroscopy and recovering fairly well. While the TMI level probably won’t make it here you can absolutely message me if you’re a female getting this surgery done and I’d be happy to share my experience.
August 19th I went in for my pre-op appointment. I was expecting more labs than just answering questions and giving (yet another) urine sample but that’s all it took. I filled out lots of paperwork, received my instructions and headed out. That night I had to remove nail polish, shower with a certain soap, not use any lotion, deodorant, makeup, etc.
On August 20th we had an early wake-up at 4:25 a.m. (every minute counts) for a 5:30 a.m. report time. We were in the lobby with several other couples, kids and family members. Around 6 a.m. they took us all back, separated the drivers from those getting operations and then lined us up side-by-side in curtain-separated beds. I took (another) urine test and then changed into a gown, sticky socks, green sheet and hairnet. There were at least 5-8 different doctors who came through asking me questions, confirming answers, signing consent forms, talking about getting an LMA tube for anesthesia and getting an IV started for fluids.
A chaplain was walking around asking to pray over people and I let him say a prayer over me. I hadn’t gotten upset at all until this point when I started tearing up knowing what the ultimate outcome could be.
For about 10 minutes, my husband was able to come back and see me. Which is when he took this very cute picture. Please, note the sarcasm. And ignore the blood on the sheets/floor from the IV.
They pushed some form of pre-anesthesia ‘loopy meds’ drug and once they started wheeling me off, I felt it kick in. I was hooked up to multiple monitors, had my wrist covered in different bracelets, an IV with tape and writing all over it.
We got to the operating room and it was freezing. I started shaking uncontrollably but they still needed me to scoot over to the surgical table. Sounds a lot easier if the room wasn’t moving. As they pressed a rubber mask over my face, I knew I would be falling asleep but I felt them strapping down my waist and each one of my arms as I started to lose control (creepy) and felt them press about 6-8 EKG pads over my chest and sides. I am assuming while I was out is when they propped and strapped my legs and ankles because when I woke up I had cuff-like compression pads covering ankles to knees. I remember being rolled into the first recovery area. They had placed mesh underwear and padding on me (again….creepy) and I could not stop coughing. I assumed this was in part from a tube because my throat hurt TERRIBLY and all I wanted was water. I was more coherent than I thought I would be but I also had WAY more pain and bleeding than I thought.
They kept checking me and making notes, saying it was increasing and then pushed one med for the cramping and fentanyl through the IV. They eventually rolled me over to the second area when they thought I was awake enough and all I wanted was to be laid back but they said that would make the pain worse. I was still freezing so they placed another heated blanket over me. That’s when my husband was finally allowed back and I finally felt like I had someone on my team; not someone dismissing my pain or pushing me to leave the hospital. Then I started feeling super bad again. It was bringing tears to my eyes and the current meds and heating pad weren’t working.
I’ve learned to start asking if the doctor or medical professional has had the experience done….especially if it’s a male nurse saying they’re just ‘period-like cramps.’
I totally thought my eyes were open for these pictures…thank you, drugs!
They finally gave me some graham crackers so I could take a Percocet. They gave me more heating pads and pushed morphine which helped get my mind off the pulling and tugging sensation. My husband said that my vitals were always fantastic until I had these pains come through which spiked my heart rate and everything. I can only imagine this was what labor pains were like based on what I had done and was feeling. Again, looking for any bright side and purpose for this pain.
I thought the doctors would be back to talk to me but turns out they only went to talk to Drew while I was waking up. The surgical team had sat with him to show him pictures and he said the polyp was BIG and appeared to be in between Fallopian tubes. Again, at this point I haven’t spoken to them or seen these photos so I’m not exactly sure on details yet. He did say they got everything they needed and it looked clear.
She made it clear to me before I went back as well as post-op that the next ICSI-IVF round wouldn’t be until January 2020 which made me pray even harder that this went well and his second sample round improved to give us the most natural chance we could get.
Eventually I was able to get up with help (because WOAH I was so off balance) and get changed. There. Was. A. Lot. Of. Blood. God bless my husband who easily hides his emotions and if he’s scared, he doesn’t show it. He knows exactly when to be my calm. They had already allowed him to grab my medications from their own pharmacy counter which is fantastic that we didn’t have to wait in the hour plus long line that’s the main pharmacy. They told me to take deep breaths and cough as much as I could so I wouldn’t get pneumonia from the anesthesia. They didn’t tell me it would make my muscles and joints extremely tight and sore for the next several days.
Enjoy these pics my drugged-up self apparently thought were very important to take haha!
The recovery was also said to be 2-3 weeks….I went in expecting 2-3 days. I’m not sure if this much indiscretion was because of the Army hospital or if that’s standard across all hospitals.
While he went to get the car, they removed all monitors, IVs and most EKG pads, the cuffs on my calves, my arm and the heart rate sticker on my finger. As they were wheeling me out through the hospital, I was extremely dizzy and tired. I laid down and was sensitive to the bumps and turns but nothing terrible. When we got home all I wanted to do was to sleep, lay down and rest. In complete pitch-black. I asked for toast with lots of coconut oil to be the first ‘real’ thing I had since 8 p.m. the night before. I wanted food to soak up drugs and noticed the time was 11:11 a.m. LUCKY! I also took an anti-nausea pill to make sleep a bit more enjoyable.
That first bathroom break since before I had went back to surgery was a scary one to say the least. It’s been painful to number one even though I’ve been chugging water like a fish. I slept from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m…..and Drew passed out, too, so I had to carefully navigate another painful bathroom break, walk downstairs and grab flowers my best friend delivered, took some Motrin and snacked on ice cream.
Be so gentle with yourself. Always.
And get a dog. For the time that you can’t have human kids they are your kids. Argo had soaked up I don’t know how many tears, painful conversations and just sat with me. He got me out of the house and is a light in my life. Go adopt a dog.
I started cramping bad on my left and lower side so I laid back down with a heating pad. I would repeat these for multiple days. I noticed every time I swallowed it felt like I had strep. If I sat up straight working at the downstairs table (avoiding stairs as much as I could), I noticed the pressure hurt.
The nicest thing I heard during recovery first came from a friend of a friend. She said
“I’ve been thinking about you. I hope and pray you get answers. You will be the best momma!”
If you have a friend going through any of this, THAT is what you say.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Today was a surprise appointment. They brought me in a week early for my follow-up which I was nervous meant the polyp was cancerous but also relieved we would get answers a week sooner.
This was luckily the first appointment my husband was able to come to and I’m so thankful he was there to get the results with me.
If your partner is at all able to make any appointments I would encourage it. Your results are each other’s and you’re going to need your teammate to help you through this. Plus, it’s different hearing information passed from your doctor rather than your spouse.
The polyp was benign. I wasn’t able to get photos but I am sure a simple Google search will get you close to what we saw before and after. It was indeed massive which explains a little on this recovery but otherwise they said the polyp was benign and I looked healthy and ‘normal’. My incessant back pain was because my ribs were being pushed together so he was able to do a quick, simple treatment for some relief and I hope when I’m clear to workout again at the two-week mark that will go away.
We also received the second round of the semen analysis back. Just a flashback to the first one, they’re looking for 40 percent motility. The first test came back at less than half of that. This time, which we were thinking would improve, actually dropped 16 percent. All other parameters also dropped which put us even lower in the ‘Severe Male Infertility’ realm. His job had put him under extremely stressful schools back-to-back for months and several of our friends had also experienced similar things. This is why I hate people asking ‘Whose fault is it?’ because the answer is neither. There were so many things out of our control. No matter who you are or what you do. And ladies…take the pressure off of just yourself. You’re in this together.
I was surprised but not heartbroken. I felt myself sink a little lower but I didn’t shut down. I was disappointed but I wasn’t sad. (See, I am already sounding like a parent!)
It helped we heard these results and solutions in July so we’ve had time to do our own research. Hopefully this is acting as a first step in your research process as well and you’re learning about infertility or how to support someone experiencing infertility.
The rest of that appointment was hearing options. A urology referral, sperm donors (not a route for us), locations, timelines, drugs, IUI (not an option), IVF(not an option), ICSI (the type of IVF they said would be the ‘only’ way), price tags from $10,500-$20,000….can you believe insurance doesn’t cover this? Can you believe that people pay $50,000-$100,000 to adopt? *That $100 for a second dog doesn’t seem so bad now, huh?*
In the back of our minds that’s something we would be open to should it ever come to that….and here we found ourselves facing that decision at 26 and 27.
You can say ‘It will be ok. It will all work out.’ because no matter what we choose we will be parents and that dang kid will be more than appreciated and loved on. But we just walked out of a room with a staff of educated doctors and scientific results that say our chances were few to zero of that ‘working out’.
On my drive home my MIL called to check-in. It’s whenever I have to say it out loud that I start crying; probably why I’ve always opted to write. It’s hard to explain to others when you’re in the thick of learning about it yourself but I also think this is a great time to educate our friends and family. No longer will any of us ask someone when they’re going to have kids.
It’s confusing to us because there’s not a way to ‘fix’ it. We can order supplements and vitamins because what’s a few hundred compared to ten grand?
Fun Fact: If you’re about to embark on IVF you have to be prepared for lots of time off work. Lots.
Infertility actually falls under ADA (Americans With Disability Act) so if you can get your HR department to cooperate you will be covered!
Now the 30-40 minute drive to the hospital every week seemed like nothing compared to our five choices of hospitals across the country. Once we move we would have to travel back on such specific time constraints that would be even more of a stress on us.
It f***ing blows to know your intentions, attempts, time, energy and hopefulness have been dulled. I understand that symptom checking, surprise mornings where I just had a feeling to test or any chance of this being in our control were gone. We were going to require help. Not want, not even need but required and still not guaranteed.
Everyone thinks it will be simple.
Everyone thinks it might take a few months but they’ll be good.
We thought that, too.
Our family and friends thought that, too.
While I had tears streaming down my face and the feelings of giving up hope that there could be a chance for us, facing our new reality, I was driving home.
I sat down at my kitchen table since I’m still recovering from surgery and minimize movement upstairs.
I wiped my face as I sat on a work video call, two more phone calls and a work conference call. Maybe I was on the phone with you. Thanks for the distraction but you should also know I felt like I was keeping a secret from you.
I’m writing this with my email tabs open and three more about adoption or fertility treatments.
I’m reading people’s complaints about their kids, another 19-year-old’s pregnancy announcement and I sit here wondering if they ever got to the dark place or if they stayed in the sunshine and excitement. Do they truly appreciate this or did it just happen? I click Like and move on.
…And so it goes.
While talking to a friend about adoption and where I should start my research, she told me about embryo adoption. It basically gives you the experience of being pregnant and giving birth to your adopted child but YOU will be the parents on the birth certificate. AMAZING.
Only issue? It’s generally a bit less expensive than IVF but you have to send in an application so the couple donating an embryo knows the baby will have it’s best chance at life. You have to submit an application to be approved to be a parent. You will be judged and ranked on your BMI, your age and pass a family assessment.
I get it. But again. Never thought we’d have to do this.
Today I am thankful for science. I am thankful for the advancements, the knowledge and the attempts doctors go to to assist us with becoming a family.
I am thankful for the fact that people talk about this and share their stories so people like me have somewhere to go for information.
I am thankful people let me talk and cry to them and I’m thankful they never once thought I was overreacting. I’m thankful when people check-in on us and I’m thankful when they don’t say anything at all and just support and love on us.
I am thankful we live here. Since learning very few hospitals even offer fertility treatments.
I am thankful family is much more than DNA. I am thankful that our eyes were opened to adoption in so many varieties. Even if you don’t have kids, you still have a family.
I am thankful we’ve gone through this. For everything I didn’t see coming and don’t know what’s ahead. Because I know when/if we are parents in one way or another we are going to be damn good at it. Parents love their kids but there is something deeper when you have to struggle, fight and wish for it more. I am so happy for the mom who didn’t have to wait but I can still be sad and thankful for my experience. It’s a miracle. No matter how it happens, you learn how much goes into it and how miraculous it is. I will know I wanted this, I prepared for this, I prayed for this, This Was Meant To Be.
I’m thankful that we’ve been taught a lesson difficult to understand until you’ve been through it. We’ve experienced barrenness, hopelessness, brokenness, depression, confusion and anxiety. We’ve experienced loss without having an identified miscarriage. Maybe we felt robbed but not once did we ask ‘Why Us?‘
More than anything I am trusting that God knew this would happen. I am embracing that this is our life and our story. I am trusting He’s had us wait so long because someone very special needed to be created and we needed to be prepared.
Even when we pray and He says no.
Against all odds, against all logic.
While we wait, He is still good.
Another month of negatives. No results from a urology specialist. No second line from everything we tried doing differently. He was gone for four weeks so it was another onset of loneliness. What’s helped has been weekly therapy where we can focus on how to be okay with whatever the results are. Sometimes you’re fine and sometimes you walk out like this:
No matter what this is actually out of your control. I can’t control what my husband does, what the doctors say, how my body reacts, what the results are….how can I ignore directing my thoughts like ‘I shouldn’t…’ and say ‘Even if…’. I can only control my efforts.
What’s also helped is staying consistent with weekly church services (in person or you can watch live here) and reading books or researching our options. Today the pastor talked about anxiety. I’ll cut to the chase. “I hope this is the outcome but I fear this will be the outcome.” YES. As hopeful and optimistic as you can be, it’s hard not to fear more days and weeks of constant thoughts, symptom spotting and seclusion. It’s difficult to not stress about stressing. It’s difficult to want to talk and there’s no one to talk to or when you want to be happy for someone else but you find yourself wondering if they even realize how good they got it.
How am I trying to ‘be okay’? I’m not saying that what you/we are going through you were led to but I can tell you that you were not forgotten there. You are not alone there. If you’re religious, He’s there with you. If you need community, there are a whole bunch of us here with you.
When you’re deciding if the time and money should go toward adoption or IVF, you are not alone. If you’re worried about a miscarriage or loss before you’ve ever conceived, you’re not the only one.
When you feel like you’ve failed or been failed, you are not forgotten.
Maybe the thing we were meant to do was be the first to bring a child through other means into our family. Maybe we were meant to teach our family about the very real struggles they’ve never
This is a really sad thing. It’s ok to be upset about it. This is draining. It makes you want to give up and give in. Whatever you’re feeling is absolutely warranted. Sit in that.
I read a lot in a Devotional called ‘Deployment’ by Brenda Pace in this time about steps of hope during times in uncertainty and line after line just hit me.
The next day I was astonished by a call that we could be added to the list for couples undergoing IVF in January 2020. I wouldn’t be able to speak to my husband for another three weeks but at least it was a place to start. Worst case we decline and wait until April 2020. Either way we would need time to save up thousands of dollars.
Go to counseling. Go to counseling. Go to counseling.
It was in these last few weeks that I realized this was truly one of the harder things we have had to face. It was one of the biggest losses and obstacles we have had to face individually and as a couple. It had created obstacles I never assumed it would and made me face new realities I never thought I’d have to face. It made friends and family feel too awkward to talk to us about things or ask how we were doing. It was isolating and brought a deeper sense of community. We’d been faced with this being a part of us but in these last few weeks it finally sunk in that this is just something we had to face. This was a part of us. This was a diagnoses and biological; not karma or punishment.
I leaned hard in to faith through this process and found multiple helpful messages that stood out to me. One more recent from this was from It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado. Let me paraphrase what I took from it.
God stacks all burdens on one side of a weight scale. Does he remove them? No.
Rather than take them he offsets them. The burdens become light when balanced with the promise of eternity. See the pains and struggles as moments. They are small moments in a lifetime of experiences and an eternity to look forward to.
Something that comes so effortlessly for others has been the most devastating, heart wrenching, invasive and expensive experience in our life.
This was our 16th month of actively TTC. This was our 19th month of sadness.
We entered a new decade thinking the same thing we did last new year; this year would be different. There just has to be something big and exciting for us here.
As we moved into the holiday season on came the announcements of people expecting. People distant to me I disassociated. They complain it took 4 months, 9 months…and all the time that you never thought it would take yet you’ve already passed. It doesn’t feel like a real thing that could ever happen for you. For those close to me, I was happy. You understand how hard it is and what a blessing it is when you put in this fight and you’re relieved they don’t know that pain or struggle.
I was also sad. I would text back through tears. Set my phone down and heave. Curled up in a ball. Every communication a reminder of the entire book that’s now become our story and the uphill battle we’ve fought and still have to face. Words that had zero ill intention just killed me. It felt like my gut was being wrenched and I battled with wanting to be a part of the celebration but also worried about not keeping it together and protecting myself with boundaries. Worrying about how they would take it since they don’t understand and doing what I could to put on a happy face.
Last year we thought there would be another stocking to hang up but it was just as bare as the years before. There were more events and get-togethers where the usual questions, followed by the usual remarks and comments, came. It was hard. There was more of a sense of peace after solidifying our IVF date but still an extreme sadness as you continue to pass the dates that would have been due dates or milestones. You feel left behind. You feel forgotten. You feel like everyone else believes there’s so much time when, to you, this has drug on and on. As a female, you biologically have time working against you. There’s an insurmountable amount of pain, anxiety, depression, fear and paranoia that develops and grows inside of you instead of a life.
There was also a huge difference after going to therapy once a week (for my entire well-being but obviously this was a huge part of it). I highly recommend finding a professional you trust and sticking with it. I have dealt with debilitating panic attacks and dark, deep thoughts and some of the processing in those sessions helped me tremendously to deal with tough situations. I was diagnosed with OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Along with my body’s treatments, I began mental treatments to cure the harmful storm in my head.
If you’re dealing with infertility you’ll understand the monthly, weekly and daily breakdown of searching online articles. The ebb and flow of optimism, hope, excitement, dread and, ultimately, disappointment. Pain. Shame. Embarrassment of even thinking there was a chance when, ‘of course’, there wasn’t. One of the articles I enjoyed reading was this one. For men and women this is draining in every way. A long with the joy, excitement and everything else good that this diagnosis takes from you there’s the sex drive. The feeling of sterility, needing to do the one thing you don’t feel like doing all the time, not feeling attractive or distracted. Paranoia creeping in place of enjoyment. It happens. Give this a read and share it with your partner.
THOUGHTS ON IVF
This was shared in one of the groups I am in after their injection class. I sent it to a few friends and family members and they all found it helpful.
As the IVF date of April 2020 creeps closer I begin shaking and get emotional.
I’m heartbroken that this is our ‘only way’, our reality and I’m also thankful the science exists and we will finally get to take the next step.
I’m angry that this is happening, that my body will have to endure more invasions and pain and I’m proud that this has made me more empathetic, understanding and a hell of a lot stronger and tougher.
I’m upset and I’m hopeful. I’m scared and nervous but I’m excited and ready.
I’ve dealt with the denial and I’ve come to terms with it.
We’ve grieved the idea everyone has that they’re young, healthy, dating, married and wait until they’re ready to have kids. After a while you grieve that this can’t happen naturally. You grieve the loss of a surprise, loss of excitement and loss of expectancy.
There’s grief in wanting something to love but you can’t.
There’s grief in any well-intentioned joke or optimistic comment online because they haven’t been marred or jaded…and you despise that you have.
Grieving as every date you thought would be a due date or seeing it come and go and be filled with people ‘passing’ you and you’re left behind without someone to understand. Not wanting to be the downer, wanting to be included but also avoid it….it’s hard.
We’ve grieved the loss when we thought we shouldn’t have because there was “nothing we loss” but we did. There’s a ton of loss. And it is all valid.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
It’s not real. It cannot be real. But it happened.
Besides my dogs, this laptop is the second place I will say that (then my dentist and my therapist today) THEN my husband! But I want to write this down so I never, ever forget this moment.
I woke up this morning knowing I was 14 DPO and being terrified of testing. I really didn’t want to. I didn’t want to see another negative. But after lying in bed for 30 minutes (seriously) my reasoning was…what’s another negative? I’ve got plenty for the next two rounds before April IVF….why not.
I took the test and placed it behind the ‘sample cup’. This was one of those ridged lines clear cups….so when I came back three minutes later and glanced before tossing it all…..I had to look 2-3 times and thought I was looking at a shadow. I pulled the cup away and there was a line.
I looked AGAIN. HARDER. But it was obviously there. I double-checked that it was a pregnancy test. It was.
My heart started racing. I started crying. Laughing. Thanking God. I started recording just in case this was real. To show my husband, my best friend, to look back on for myself. I had no clue. My mind was racing.
No way. This isn’t real. This isn’t happening to me. Please stick. And instantly to my friends still battling this. My heart was exploding with joy at the same time it was breaking knowing how it would feel to tell them.
I took two more tests. Instantly an invisible hormone turned all the tests a stark positive and our world upside down.
I am not kidding when I know we worked HARD for this round and if you’re curious about the nitty gritty details just private message me for some ideas. It didn’t feel just right to say it happened ‘naturally’ when it was the most unnatural way of going about getting there…but ultimately it was us. We did it. But a lot of these things we’d been doing for months so who know what it was. The one super weird thing that we did do was touch those fertility statues in Gatlinburg.
I stared at these tests. I collapsed in my hallway shaking, crying, laughing, smiling…I couldn’t stop. I held my dogs close and told them. My kids before kids. Their concerns and smiles made me explode. I said a prayer and just kept thanking Him. I pulled up my best friend’s phone number and it took all I had not to instantly call her and break the news. I wanted to share that with my husband. I was texting my mom and husband right after. They had no idea.
I took my dogs on a walk like normal but had my hand pressed inside the pocket of my hoodie. No one knew.
I started googling EVERYTHING. What kind of eggs are ok to eat? Vitamins? Coffee still at one cup or none? Workouts change? I called my infertility clinic and left a message for next steps. I watched videos and read articles about this sesame seed that was changing our life. It was kind of nice to have that quiet and ‘just
mine us’ time before I shared the news and made it a ‘just our’ thing. I started thinking about that date and if he would be deployed. Bringing a third guest to my little sister’s wedding. How long could we wait to tell people?
I don’t feel like I’m carrying a human or about to grow a bump. This just doesn’t feel real. And as I revisit this post nearly halfway along in this pregnancy I am reminded about the delicate balance of enjoying this amazing time and being constantly scared of loss or complications. I have no reason thus far to suspect anything bad would happen and I have no reason that it wouldn’t happen to us.
After all we had been through, anything can happen to anyone. I had my ‘first’ Mother’s Day and thought back to last year when that day broke my heart. I think about the deepest, darkest hole I was ever in and I reminded myself about the feeling of working through all of that. October is our due date and reading last October’s post brings me right back to that moment.
You become more hyper aware of other people’s struggles and that everyone is going through something difficult. And still, no one will ever do or say the exact right thing.
Seeing your parents talk about, comment on, interact or treat other babies as their own grandchild or get very excited over some. It’s like they’re using them as an outlet for what they don’t have-what you can’t do for them. And now that this is something that will happen for us, setting those boundaries that need to be in place for you, your child and your family. This is not about them. It’s about you. If anyone even gets close to shaming you for that or gets upset, that is entirely on them; not you.
People who don’t know what to do or how to handle ultimately decide it’s best to leave you out to avoid hurting you. Their goal of not hurting you means well, give them some grace. But if you’re reading this and think that not talking, avoiding subjects, ignoring the obvious topic or not inviting/including your loved one battling infertility only causes more pain. In a time when they feel unheard, unseen, unimportant this only magnifies that. Even after your efforts, they still might choose to opt-out or distance themselves because that’s what’s best for them. Again that’s their choice and it has nothing to do with you. Both can be respected.
No matter how dark your path is right now or if today you’re optimistic, I am so sorry you have to experience this. You will be a parent. You will be the best parent to your child. You will not fail at that. I am sorry you are going through this and I’m sorry there’s not more I can do. I am here to listen or talk or support. You are not alone.
I am you. I see you. I am with you. I cry with you. I love you.
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