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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Listen up!

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Yes, I am getting up on my soapbox again.  This is near and dear to my heart because I have been living it for six years and it's not going away.  Only by talking about the elephant in the room can we get rid of the taboo.  At least 1 in 8 deal with infertility.  That means that you likely know several people dealing with it, many who might be too afraid of the judgment discussing it brings.  If this is you, you are not alone.  If sharing my story can help even one person then it's worth it.

I was 27 when we started trying.  We conceived relatively quickly but lost the baby at 8 weeks, never getting to see a heartbeat.  I was beyond devastated.  Due to family history I had always been afraid that I would have a difficult time conceiving.  So we tried for a few months before I contacted my OB.  My labs were off but my OB wasn't worried.  I was young and it can take a normal, healthy couple a year to conceive.  But I pushed for a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.  More labs and a laparoscopic surgery confirmed my fears.  I had endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserves (DOR).  Our RE recommended an aggressive protocol of Femara (pills) and Gonal-F (injections).  Our insurance only covers diagnosis, not treatment.  This was very costly.  We had already booked a vacation in Las Vegas so my prescriptions went with us.  I still laugh thinking about what the hotel maid must have thought seeing my fertility drugs in the ice bucket.  Probably not as rare as you would think, right?  We were so luck that Jacen and Spencer came from our first treatment cycle.

After their scary birth and NICU time I thought I was done.  Until I held my neighbor's newborn girl not long after the boys first birthday.  I wasn't done, not by a long shot.  We conceived relatively quickly again, on our own.  This time we saw our baby's heartbeat.  Several times.  But I had a missed miscarriage that required a D&C.  We were able to find out that our baby was a boy with Triploidy.  This is supposed to be a random occurrence, very unlikely to occur again.  Six months later I saw a new RE and did several cycles with just pills.  Nothing.  Financially we had reached an end point.  Then miraculously we conceived again.  But a month later I experienced another missed miscarriage, another D&C, and another diagnosis of triploidy, this time a girl.  Our RE explained to us in no uncertain terms that continuing with my eggs would not work.  Donor eggs with IVF would be my only chance to carry a pregnancy.  Remember, our insurance covers nothing.  $30,000 is the approximate starting point for this.

So we are done.  Except I do not feel done.  I feel like I am meant to mother another living child.  I'm not sure if it will happen or through what means that child will come.  But I live with the grief on a daily basis.  I grieve my three children in heaven, and I grieve for my boys that they will never know their other siblings.  I grieve when a new friend asks if we are going to have more.  I grieve when one of the boys asks for a sister.  Although I rejoice when a friend announces their pregnancy or has their baby, I grieve too.  It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.  Infertility has tainted every relationship in some way.  I am constantly angry at my body, angry that it is unable to do what others so easily can do.  I had hoped with time these feelings would fade.  They don't, at least not for me, not yet.  But most days I have a somewhat uneasy truce with these emotions.  They are there, but they no longer completely rule me.

Infertility and loss are such taboo subjects but they don't have to be.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bad Mom

Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything you do seems to go badly?  This past week it has felt like my skin is on too tight and with one more wrong move it would split in half.  Everything has felt uncomfortable and I have felt like I suck at everything.  

After a day that shouldn't have been bad but somehow felt like it was I was in a horrible mood.  I took Pyro for a walk but even he wasn't making things easier.  I was done.  So I decided to go see Bad Moms.

Best. Movie.  Ever.

For reals.  It's raunchy and unapologetically potty mouthed.  It was perfect.  Those moms are me, except way cooler.  Or are they?  The world puts a ton of pressure on me but I make it a million times worse. My inner monologue is a constant drum beat of disdain for my choices, words, appearance, and behavior.  Nothing I do is good enough for myself.  We struggled so damn much to get our boys and then I constantly feel like I'm screwing up.  Like I'm screwing them up.  I'm constantly mad at myself for getting frustrated, for not making the healthiest meals, for not giving them my undivided attention 100% of the time I am with them.  I'm in burnout mode at home and at work.  And it's all my fault.  But there I go with the negativity against myself again.

I need to give myself a break.  I am not the perfect mom, wife, daughter, worker, coworker, friend.  And I never will be.  Because perfect is not realistic.  I am flawed but I love fiercely.  My loved ones know how truly loved they are and that should be all that matters.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Due Date

Sweet Liana, tomorrow is your due date.  When I first found out I was pregnant I never thought I would make it to my due date but I was so hopeful I would make it close.  Even with our history I had hope.  I had no idea how things would work out or how I could possibly survive your loss.  But I have.  I am still here, walking amongst others, parenting your brothers, trying to be a good wife to your daddy.  I miss you so much.  Every night, as I am drifting to sleep, I imagine your face and your personality.  Would you be a mini me like your oldest brother or a firecracker like S?  We lost so much when we lost you.  We lost our dreams and our hopes for your future.  Andy and I lost our daughter and the hope of another biological child.  Your big brothers lost their little sister.  You would have rocked our world and turned it upside down.  But I would have relished every moment of it knowing how lucky I was to be your mom.  I know that I will meet you and hold you one day.  You are playing in heaven with your big brother Gavin and our first child.  You are not alone and I like to imagine all the fun you must be having being spoiled by all your great grandparents.  I love you.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Gavin

My sweet boy, you should be turning one today.  My grief has faded somewhat but you are always in my heart.  Today your father, brothers, and I will spend the day doing fun things together.  In your memory we will build memories together.  I do not forget you.  I love you.

"You are my angel, my darling, my star...and my love will find you, wherever you are.
You are loved."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Waves of grief

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."  - Vicki Harrison

Sometimes I feel guilty for how well I'm handling things.  We lost our daughter less than two months ago yet I am able to laugh, smile, and look towards the future with excitement.  I should be a mess, right?  I'm a horrible person for not grieving her more obviously.  Then a wave of grief hits me, hard.  It knocks my feet out from under me and I struggle to breathe.  The tears are there, a stinging presence, ready to be unleashed at the most inopportune times.  In those moments I feel like a terrible wife, mom, daughter, friend, employee...I struggle to put a cap on the overwhelming emotions and squash them back under the surface.  To gain control again.

What conflicting ideas!  I feel like a terrible person for not more openly grieving, then when a strong wave hits I feel like a terrible person for feeling it so strongly.  I think to myself that I should be thankful for what I have: Two amazing, loving, bright boys who light up my world.  That's more than many of my friends have.  I should be satisfied with the blessings I have, right?  And yet I grieve.  

We should have a child turning one next month, a child turning four the month after, and I should be securely in second trimester right now.  Grieving them does not make me less thankful for our boys.  But I feel the judgment of a good portion of our society.  At the park a new friend asks if we will have another and I struggle with how to answer.  Do I answer openly and fight the taboo or do I lie?  It's a hard decision and I make it in the moment, I tell her we have been trying for two years with two additional losses.  Instantly I can feel the awkwardness in the air.  What had been an invitation for our children to play soon hastily turns in to them needing to get home.  Now.  I know most people, thankfully, haven't been through this journey.  They don't know what to say and are afraid of saying the wrong things.  So they shut down, they run away from the grief.  

Loss and infertility are isolating experiences.  I'm an awkward person anyways, these experiences have just amplified it.  I try so hard to relate to others but I can't and I know most others struggle to relate to me.  When I am having a good day, when the grief ocean is calm, I can smile and get along with anyone.  But these stormy days are tough.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Where will I be?

We're considering donor eggs.  It's a huge step and not one I am fully ready to even consider right now.  My grief is still fresh and I need time to heal mentally.  But no matter what we choose I know that I will never have another biological link to a child.  It's difficult to process.  Before we lost our girl we had given up on trying, but since we weren't protecting it was still a possibility.  Now I'm back on birth control pills.

My grief over a biological child and our girl is so linked, I don't know how to separate it.  I see a little girl playing outside and I wonder what it would have been like to raise our girl.  Cute girls clothing stands out to me at the store, I should be buying them.  Then I look at S and see the way his eyes squint when he grins, just like mine do.  I will never have another child that "gets that" from me.  J is so much like me in his determination.  It's complicated trying to wrap my brain around possibly having another child who doesn't get any of their genes from me.

I would love to adopt if it was a sure thing and not so complicated in it's own way.  I know I could love an adopted child just as much as I love J and S.  I also know that I would love any child that resulted from donor eggs just as much.  But there is still feelings of grief over the genetic link.  When I take the boys out I always get so many comments about how J looks like me and S must look like Andy.  It will be different if we have another.  Different isn't a bad thing, but I'm not ready to fully go there yet.  I'm not sure I ever will be.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anxiety

Anxiety is a part of who I am, it's always present, the degree just fluctuates.  Usually I can manage it reasonably well, and when I can't I have a prescription for Xanax.  But today I find myself spiraling down the rabbit hole of anxiety with no ladder to help me out.  I woke up this morning with a feeling of doom.  I know it's irrational, but it's there.

Every one of my losses has come hand in hand with another loss.  Our first child and my grandpa.  My beloved dog, Gavin, and one of our cats.  Now our precious girl.  I can't stop my brain from tumbling end over end with the question "who is next?".  Rationally I know that's not the way things work.  But tell that to my anxiety.

Then I started down the crazy train tracks of googling hereditary premature ovarian failure and recurrent triploidy.  I feel like there HAS to be a hereditary issue at work and it terrifies me for the boys.  My mom had issues similar to mine, although no known miscarriages.  Her and I have so much in common, including other health issues.  So there has to be a link.  My infertility and our losses are not an independent, out of the blue issue.  So what does this mean for my biological children?  I spent the better part of an hour searching, searching, searching for answers.  I found none.

Anxiety is a bitch.