Let’s Get Real

Overwhelmed

 

I debated whether I should write this post.  First off, let me start by saying that I’m not ‘outwardly’ religious, meaning I won’t preach to you, I won’t try to argue with you, I don’t go to church (though we may want that to change for the babies) and I rarely talk about prayer and things of the like.  Second, we seem to live in a culture that has more depression than ever, yet no one wants to talk about it and especially not in the pregnancy/mommy world.  I have not been diagnosed with depression or anything like that, but after yesterday I feel myself slipping into this place that I don’t recognize.  It’s been a long time since I felt like this – like since middle school (which is a post for another time, maybe even for a different blog).  Yesterday when I was in the hospital, I got teary-eyed once and my husband helped to calm me down.  I think I was mostly in shock at everything that was happening.  Though I will say, when I got up yesterday morning, I just had this aching feeling that we were going to be making a hospital visit.  Anyway, I came home last night, texted our moms and my sister-in-law and wrote a blog post.  The rest of the night went on like it normally does.

This morning I woke up at 4:20 am – anyone who is or has been pregnant can understand this.  I then laid in bed from 4:25 – 9:25 (with one more pee break in between), but not a wink of sleep.  I have so many things racing through my brain.  I was feeling low, really low.  It’s only gotten worse throughout the day.  I keep thinking: have I caused this, is this because I haven’t enjoyed every ounce of my pregnancy so far, were the doctors right to tell us that we should only transfer 1 embryo, is my cervix the issue or is it that there are two babies and not much room, could I have prevented this, is it because I rarely take my vitamins since they make me feel sick, please let them stay put until 36 weeks, if they can’t stay put please, please don’t take them from me.  I shed a few tears this morning and at different points during the day, but tried to hold back because I don’t want to upset my husband or totally fall apart.  Stress isn’t good for the babies, but how the hell do you not stress about this?  After eventually getting up and starting the day, my husband was working on a shelf for the nursery closet.  I snuck in while he was in the garage and just glided away in our glider.  I stared at the book ledges that are already full of books, the cribs that are set up (minus mattresses and sheets and whatnot), the area rug on the ground and the baby books I received in the mail, from a still unknown sender.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  How long would it be before my babies would be using this room?  If born prematurely, how long would they have beds in the NICU vs. beds at home where they belong?  What kind of complications could they face if they came now, or next week, or at 30 weeks or 32?  Could they survive if they came now?  Do I have any control over any of this?  Will I even know if I go into pre-term labor since the symptoms can be a bit different from regular labor and since I’ve never done this before?  All of these things are weighing heavily on me today.

I’ve never prayed as much in my life as I have since right before beginning our IVF cycle.  I try to keep them short, as I know there are people out there with ‘real’ problems who probably need more help than I could ever understand.  And, they’re pretty much always the same prayers.  At this point it’s something like, “Please help these babies to grow big, strong and healthy.  Please let them stay in as long as possible, like to 36+ weeks.  Please keep our family safe.”  Short, sweet, to the point.  I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but that’s what I do.    I truly believe that through this process we have not been alone.  Prayers have already been answered.  IVF being possible, my hormone levels rising and then holding steady so our cycle wasn’t cancelled, getting pregnant, finding out it was two babies and getting us this far.  So this is what I do when I enter a dark place – I pray and I hope that I’m heard and that these babies are going to be okay.

I realize this method doesn’t work for everyone, but what I want this blog post to say is that depression or signs of sadness during pregnancy and mommyhood are a lot more common than people like to admit.  Do what you need to do to pull yourself out of a slump.  Call a doctor, friend or family member.  Don’t struggle alone.  Open up and be truthful about your journey because it isn’t all rainbows and fairytales.  You are not alone.  I am not alone.

I also have to thank a very special group of women, whom I’ve never actually met in person.  The ‘trying-to-conceive’ community (mostly on instagram, but a few have found me through my blog too) has been a huge support.  Everyone is sending their well-wishes, happy thoughts, prayers and their own scary stories that turned out to have happy endings.  I couldn’t do this without all of you.  You know just what I’m going through.  I feel your love, and your support.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Sharing Feelings

8 Weeks Babies IVF IVF Success Our Plans Have Changed Blog www.ourplanshavechanged.wordpress.com

 

After my 8 week scan I was officially released from my RE’s office.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was an emotional appointment.  My nurse came and greeted me after my ultrasound and walked me to ‘The Tree of Hope’ where I was able to stamp two sets of footprints, one for each of my babies.  Tears started to well up in my eyes.  I didn’t want to leave this place that had taken such good care of me for the last 6 months.  She hugged me, and I cried.  She told me to come back with a big ol’ belly to visit and to not be shy with pictures once they have arrived.  The hardest part about leaving my RE is that I will go from weekly ultrasounds to practically none at my OB.  I think they do 2 over the course of a pregnancy.  Maybe because I’m high risk from IVF and because of the twins I’ll get more?  It would be nice to see them more often.  I was instructed to stop taking my progesterone because the babies placentas were now big enough to sustain them on their own.  My thoughts were, ‘Um…are you sure?  Just three days ago I took my last progesterone late and had spotting right away.’  I was terrified.  I was to stop back in two days for blood work to make sure my levels were good.  Sure enough, no spotting and my levels didn’t dip at all.  It’s pretty incredible that once the twins hit the 8 week mark, they didn’t need my outside help anymore.  They’re so independent, ha!  My first OB appointment is Monday but I believe I’m just meeting with one of the nurses to get started with basic information and some sort of future plan.  We’ll see how this goes.

We feel extremely grateful that we get to have these two babies be a part of our lives.  It’s exactly what we wished for.  Dreams really do come true.  However, I can say that I feel an overwhelming (at times) sense of guilt.  There is a very large Instagram group of women who are trying to conceive.  We follow each other, send encouraging messages, mourn together and celebrate together.  It isn’t lost on me that many of these women have faced more struggles and loss than I have.  For that, I feel guilty.  Some have been through multiple IUI’s, multiple IVF’s and FET’s and still have not been able to get pregnant or bring home a healthy baby.  Obviously I’m not completely out of the woods yet, and probably won’t ever feel out of the woods until I have my two babies in my arms, but I’ve made it farther than some in our very first fertility cycle.  I truly believe my success is a mix of things.  My wonderful RE did all kinds of tests before just putting me on Clomid, which would normally be step 1 for some.  After determining that I would need IVF, she did more testing to make sure my uterus was in shape enough to accept a pregnancy.  When she discovered polyps she removed them and said it’s likely that a miscarriage would’ve happened if we hadn’t removed them.  In addition, the month leading up to my cycle I drastically changed my diet.  I stopped eating sour patch kids (which was a food group in itself for me), I began eating avocado to increase the amount of good fat in my diet.  I ate that crap every.single.day.  I cut out caffeine other than the small amount naturally found in chocolate.  I also prayed more than I ever have in my life, people prayed for us, people sent their positivity and encouragement.  Our RE’s office is nationally recognized.  They are doing multiple studies at a time to further research and development for ARTs.  Their success rates are some of the highest in the country (68-70%).  All of these things helped us, but there are women who aren’t as lucky and I hate that.

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Filling in the Blanks

It’s been quiet on the blog lately and for that I’m sorry.  We are ready to share what has been happening over the last few weeks.  After my IVF transfer, we had to wait about 10 days for our first hCG test.  In the trying-to-conceive community this is referred to as the TWW or two week wait.  After reading other people’s journeys, I was expecting it to be the toughest, longest ten days of my life.  It wasn’t.  After the transfer, I was in a pretty good place.  I listened to happy music, watched funny movies and tried to laugh as much as possible (some study shows that IVF clowns increase implementation rates – but since I hate clowns, and a lot of people do, they recommend comedies).  The day after the transfer I began to feel my embryos implanting.  I’m sure this is all in my head, but I felt twinges on both sides of my uterus.  I just knew that meant both babies were making their homes.  Over the next few days I felt similar pains, had no signs of an impending period and stayed away from any physical activity.  There was one exception – at work, I was told to inter-office our new class brochures to each department/office that needed them.  When all was said and done it was in two large boxes that were fairly heavy.  I had told my boss via email I would need help getting them down the hall for the mailroom to pick up since I was not supposed to be lifting, pushing, pulling or twisting at all.  She came out and told me to send them and she walked away.  In my anger, I attempted to push the boxes with my feet down the hallway.  It was more of a workout than I had anticipated and my co-workers were mad at me for not just asking them.  I was sure this was going to cause me to miscarry.  I was still days away from my hCG test though so I just had to keep on going.

On Friday, August 22nd, I went into the doctors office first thing in the morning for my first hCG test.  I was a bundle of nerves and my stomach was in knots.  The nurse who took my blood asked me if I had cheated, threatening to rat me out to my regular nurse if I had.  I hadn’t cheated by taking a test at home.  I wasn’t prepared for a negative home pregnancy test so I avoided it.  I didn’t expect to hear from nurse until somewhere between 11:30 and 1 when she usually calls me with blood work results.  So while I was walking Hazel in our development I was surprised to hear my phone ring at 9:30 am.  When I answered, my nurse asked me if I had cheated and I told her no.  The words that followed have changed my life.  She began with, “Then, I don’t know how to tell you this…”  In that instant, my heart sank.  I had been so confident.  And then I heard, “but you’re PREGNANT.”  I broke down in the middle of the parking lot next to my house.  Whatever else she said to me was a blur.  She had told me my hCG level and I don’t remember what she said.  All I remember is we needed a number of about 331 to indicate a normal pregnancy when I returned in two days.  Two days later I received a similar phone call and my levels had increased by more than the projected 66%.  I was scheduled for my first ultrasound on 8/31.

That morning we went in for the first ultrasound and a retest of my hCG and progesterone levels.  They found two sacks.  Baby A was measuring right at 5 weeks while Baby B was one day behind.  At my second ultrasound on 9/10 Baby A was measuring 6 weeks, 4 days and Baby B was now lagging 3 days behind.  We did see two heartbeats.  The doctor was concerned about Baby B and prepared me for the worst.  The following Sunday night I had some spotting after taking my third dose of progesterone late (I typically do it at 9:30 and it was about 11:30).  I panicked and called the answering service and was put through to the doctor on call.  She assured me that this can be completely normal for my stage of pregnancy and it’s especially common for twin pregnancies and just to try and relax until my next ultrasound.  If something was going to go wrong, we wouldn’t be able to stop it.  On 9/16 I went in for my third ultrasound.  I was SO nervous.  They took all the regular measurements and then went on to measure Baby A, who was at 7 weeks, 1 day (10.37mm) and then Baby B and when they said the measurements, I literally jumped out of shock.  10.62mm or 7 weeks, 1 day.  Both heartbeats were strong!  How lucky was I that both babies were still there?

Baby Bump - Our Plans Have Changed Blog www.ourplanshavechanged.wordpress.com

I’m currently only 8 weeks and 3 days pregnant but we didn’t want to keep it a secret any longer.  We still have  a long road ahead of us, but we won’t be going through it alone.  My next and final appointment with my RE is tomorrow morning.  The following week I have my first appointment with my OB’s office.  My biggest fear is that once I stop taking progesterone, that I could risk losing the babies.  There will be no way to prevent that.  All I can do is hope and pray.

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On Giving and Judging

I have lots of thoughts today.  Let’s start with judging.  It’s hard when you’re trying to start a family not to judge every family interaction you see around you.  It’s easy to see a glimpse of a stranger and say you would never be like that, or they’re damaging their children or not valuing them.  But, I think it’s really important to keep in mind that we make our opinions of people within the first 5 minutes.  5 minutes.  What if that’s the worst 5 minutes of that person’s day, week, year, etc?  Let’s just try our best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  We aren’t perfect.  We all make mistakes.

Now onto giving.  Whether you give your time, advice, story, material items or love, it seems that people begin to expect you to continue to give once you’ve started.  They believe they’re entitled to it.  When I started this blog, I did so to share what we were going through, to sort out my emotions, to bring more awareness to infertility.  I had also made it clear that once we reached a certain point in our journey, it would be a while before I shared the details.  Not because I don’t want to share, but because there are some things that should be done privately for a time.  Whether that be savoring the sweet joy of pregnancy or suffering through a failed cycle or miscarriage, we had decided to keep quiet until we were comfortable discussing it.  I’ve received some opposition to this.  People, including those close to me and strangers, think they have a right to know the rest of the story, on their timeframe – not mine.  We will share our story.  We won’t leave you all hanging, but we’re just not ready.

Let’s think about this a bit.  If an IVF round was successful, a positive pregnancy test would happen before 4 weeks, but that isn’t the end of it.  You have to then sustain a pregnancy.  Couples walk on eggshells until their doctors think they’re at a relatively safe spot in their pregnancy.   Most ‘normal’ people wait to announce their pregnancy until 12-13 weeks when the chance of miscarriage is greatly decreased.  You wouldn’t even know they were ‘trying’ unless they had shared that info.  If an IVF round was unsuccessful it doesn’t mean it’s just another month with a negative pregnancy test, it means that a fertilized embryo or embryos were placed into a womb and given all they needed to stick around, yet they didn’t.  Or, a positive initial pregnancy test could lead to a miscarriage, these are all very personal situations.  Even though we’ve been open about our story so far, it’s our story.  When we’re ready to share, we will.  Until then, please understand that we are dealing with a lot of emotions and it’s important to focus on us and our marriage.

We appreciate all of the support we have received and are continuing to receive.  Our story is to be continued…

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Thank You

Saying our prayers TTC IVF Infertility Our Plans Have Changed Blog www.ourplanshavechanged.wordpress.com Photography by Lauren Fair

 

Before we continue any further through this journey, it’s important for us to acknowledge all of the love and support we have felt.  To our family, our friends, colleagues, acquaintances and complete strangers: we cannot thank you enough.  There has been an outpouring of encouragement and love.  We don’t consider ourselves to be extremely religious people but I can tell you that I have never prayed more for anything in my life.  To know that all of you have sent your positive words, thoughts and prayers our way makes us feel so blessed already.  Whether we are nearing the end of our IVF journey, or this is just the beginning, I wanted you all to know just how thankful we are.  You have made a difference in our lives and our hearts.

Our one year anniversary is coming up in a little more than a month and this first year of marriage has been an adventure.  It’s not exactly what we expected.  Luckily we love each other so darn much that all of this has only made us closer.  We are hopeful that the two embryos we transferred last week have decided to stick with us.  We love them so much.  We feel like we know them and like our lives will be forever changed because of them.

Again, thank you for all of your support.  I’m a ball of nerves tonight and am hoping for the best.  I’ll be saying a few more prayers, because it can’t hurt, right?

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photo by Lauren Fair

What it’s Really Like

IVF TTC Infertility - Wishin and Hopin - And the dark side to infertility

This journey is hard.  It changes a person.  That may come off as slightly dramatic and maybe it is, but it’s the truth.  When I talk to people, I can hear my voice is different now.  I’m not the same woman I was before starting down this path.  What I’ve noticed is when faced with this journey a lot of people go one of two ways (not all, this is not intended to be a mass generalization, just my observation): obsession or depression, and sometimes both.

I follow a lot of people on instagram who have special TTC (trying to conceive) accounts.  They post pictures from each doctors appointment, they give specific stats about their eggs and embryos and every symptom they have after transfer, analyzing any little feeling within their body.  I do this too.  It’s so consuming, this infertility stuff.  Your days become scheduled around appointments and injections.  You become this crazy superstitious person who starts eating pineapple core and avocado because you read some study that says it could help.  You get laser acupuncture, which just seems like someone is holding a price scanner to your body.  But hey, they say it helps!  You look to your friends, family and support group for validation that your symptoms could very well mean you’re showing early signs of pregnancy.  You eat, breathe and live your infertility journey every second of every day.

When you first find out you’re suffering with infertility you go through a grieving process.  You don’t ever really ‘get over it.’  You just learn to go on.  You no longer have fun doing things you used to do because all you can think about is how you so desperately want to be a parent, yet can’t.  You feel like that commercial where you have a black rain cloud just following you around all day.  While you know it’s ridiculous and that you’re blessed beyond measure for the things you do have, you still can’t feel happy.  Most clinics have therapists/social workers who can work with patients as they go through their journey.  It’s because it’s needed, yet a lot of us won’t make that appointment.  I mean, we already miss a ton of work and a ton of personal/family functions, how are we supposed to squeeze in another appointment with another person that we will have to tell our story all over again to.  More people should make these appointments.

I find myself going back and forth between obsession and depression.  But mixed in, is this weird feeling….hope.  How can one be depressed and hopeful at the same time?  I can’t explain that other than to say if you’ve gone through it, you get it.  While being depressed that my body won’t work the way it was intended, I’m hopeful that with all of the steps we have taken that we will be parents someday (soon).

I’m currently 4 days past my day 6 transfer.  I will have 4 more days to wait before my next appointment that will test for very early levels of hCG (pregnancy hormones).  I’m confident.  I’ve been analyzing each little symptom and feeling I’ve had and it all adds up.  But even after friday’s appointment, that doesn’t mean I’m in the clear.  It’s still a long while before we can breathe a sigh of relief.  I hear from most IVFers that they walk on eggshells until after the first 12 weeks are over (when miscarriage rates drastically drop).  Regardless of outcome on Friday, we won’t be talking about it right away with anyone.  If we’re pregnant, we’ll need some time to keep that just between us until we’re at a ‘safe’ point.  If we’re not, we’ll need time to grieve and think and assess where we go from here.  I’ll be posting about other things (nutrition, nursery ideas, maternity fashion, etc.).  Just know that we’ll let you know when we’re ready.  I hope you can understand.  Thank you for supporting us, always.

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Dear Babies

Transfer Day - Embryo 1 TTC Infertility IVF www.ourplanshavechanged.wordpress.com Our Plans Have Changed Blog

Transfer Day - Embryo 2 TTC Infertility IVF www.ourplanshavechanged.wordpress.com Our Plans Have Changed Blog

 

Dear Babies,

Today, I saw you for the first time.  You’re living, growing babies that still aren’t visible with the naked eye but I got to see you.  I feel fortunate because other moms wouldn’t get to see their babies this early.  I feel like we’re all meant to be – both of you, your dad and me.  I was emotional before and after the transfer, but during I was amazed at how science is making this possible for us.  All we need is for the two of you to stick around.  Get really cozy and stay for a while, say 9 more months?

On the drive home, I felt some twinges in my uterus which of course is far too early for you to be making your nests but it’s giving me hope.  Maybe tomorrow you’ll decide to stay, maybe it’ll take you a few days to make up your minds.  So we will wait and let you make your first decisions as our children.  It will hopefully be the first of many times that we need to hang back and let you navigate your way through new territory and watch you persevere.

I’ll get into our hopes and dreams in a later post, but for now just know that we love you, already.  We want you to stay.

Love always,

Mom & Dad

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