Mind, Body, Spirit Connection

I am throwing the entire kitchen sink at my fertility journey. This is to say that I have signed up for the program I asked about in my last post.

It is The Seed Fertility Program ran by Danica Thornberry, an acupuncturist and naturopathic doctor in LA (www.seedfertility.com).

I have completed the first couple of units in the e-course and I have to say that I really like it so far. It combines video of her running a seminar from the Women’s Wellness Center in LA and journaling. She will also take me through dietary and nutritional choices for optimal fertility.

I have found that I was open in my first two rounds of IVF. When we got the positive beta, saw our bean on the ultrasound and heard his heartbeat, I was at ease thinking that our miracle had finally happened. When I lost him, I lost that openness and confidence in the process. My next two cycles were negative. I am hoping that this program will work to help me find it again. I know if anything, it will open me to remembering that I am a mother and I will mother a child. If it means through another IVF round, naturally, through adoption, or a gestational carrier-I will mother a child.

Thoughts?

So, we went in for our post IVF convo a couple of weeks ago. We are now at the point where we have to make new embryos and that means a fresh round. Luckily, we have a fresh round left with Attain. Our RE wants us to do a PGD on the embryos, freeze them, wait the results, and then do a FET. This is a change from what she’d said would happen last time we talked. Originally she said we’d do another fresh round, then a frozen, then look to a carrier if I wasn’t pregnant after all of that (who we now have to find and raise $35,000+ to go through with surrogacy). I was disappointed with the new plan and asked if we could go ahead and take advantage of the fresh transfer since we have it paid for already, then send off for PGD during our TWW and freeze the rest, if negative, then do a FET. She said she’d go for it, but only transfer one for the fresh since she wanted as many embryos as possible to test. PGD gives us a 65% chance.

I’ve been reading a bit on forums and online (google damn you!) and have seen that since 2012 there seems to be data to support that FETs have become almost equal to that of fresh rounds in terms of success, or at least the difference isn’t as great as it once was. This has to do with the way they now freeze the embryos. Now, I’m wondering if maybe I should retrieve, send off, wait, and then FET. Some argue that gives the body a chance to rest and recover. Anyone out there done it this way or know of others who have? Suggestions?

My RE also wants us to get a second opinion on everything. She thinks it will only require contacting two clinics and sending them my records with my clinic’s plan for me. $$$.

She also wants us to move forward in the next four months. If only money really did grow on trees. But, she is offering us 1/2 price on the FET again (what perks for being frequent fliers, no?) and she may have some meds for stims for me (full out of pocket patients over here). This will help tremendously as the PGD is close to $4,000 (I think, A. says so anyway).

I have stopped acupuncture and know I need to restart. I need to workout-moderatley, but workout nonetheless. I also have stumbled across the Seed Fertility Program via another infertility blog. $299 will take me through an e-course that will help me to work through the mind-body-spirit connections of fertility and give me dietary advice. Cheaper than flying to LA to take it in person…Is it worth it? My RE said she wanted me to do some “voodoo medicine” with CoQ10 and antioxidants for A. Ha! I’ve been doing “voodoo” for years now. Part of me says, let’s throw everything at this and see what happens. Thoughts on the mind-body-spirit work? $300 seems steep right now, but $300 is also a drop in the bucket of what we’ve paid at this point.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Ideas on how to raise money short of selling off my plasma or extra organs?

We Are Making Changes Around Here

New blog look. New username. Mostly because I posted the password protected post and then got to thinking about how I might need to make my account more anonymous as to protect myself, my friends, my family,and anything else I might write about here. The new look is because I was tired of the old one. I need to be able to write freely about what is taking place in my life without fear and I was worried everything was a little to connected to my other accounts and whatnot. Still the same ol’ me writing about the same ol’ issues.

Protect Your Energy

A friend of mine posted this birthday wish over the weekend:

“Birthday Reflection: I hope you celebrate my birthday with me today and for the next 364 days by committing to this: PROTECT your energy. Your energy is your life, where your creativity lives, how you love, and what makes [you] uniquely unrepeatable. Protect your energy from people and things that attempt to siphon it from you. Protect your energy so that your work, whatever it is, can be done. Say no, say hell no, close that door, move to a different house, quit that job, dump that fool, put those hands up and PROTECT your energy. My hope is that we all protect our energy so that our dreams have a chance to come true.”

I needed to see this post at the end of this week. I put so much of my energy into things that I am completely tapped out and having nothing to give to myself. I put too much focus on people and situations that suck out the last bits of energy in my reserves, people and situations that really shouldn’t get as much time as I give them.

Before I started taking Welbutrin, I would find myself anxious and fixated on these people and the situations, going around and around with whatever conflict they presented in my life until I was completely empty. If a conflict presented itself, I would fester and get so worked up about it and a need for a resolution even though that resolution was something I had no control over. The medication has helped with allowing me to not spend too much time focusing on things I cannot control. I have found that a problem might present itself to me and I focus on it for a bit, then I move on.

This week reminded me of the me before I started taking medication to help with my anxiety. This week it was more difficult that normal to give a conflict enough time to sort out my feelings and then move on. I was carrying around anger and frustration for several days this week over something that did not deserve that much of my time and energy. When my friend’s post came up on my feed, I felt like she was speaking directly to me. I hope it speaks to some of you as well. The last sentence especially.

My energy is better spent on things that bring me happiness and working towards my dreams. I have to find ways to protect myself from those out there that drain me and take me away from what I want my life to be, or bring out the version of me I don’t want to be. I have to find ways to protect myself from situations where my time is not well spent burning off energy that I need for myself and what I want from this life.

Adjusted Expectations

Anyone who has traveled along on this journey knows that it is one of constant readjustment of expectations. I began when I was 28 years old and my expectations were high. I figured that we were both healthy and pregnancy would come to us easily. Dropped the birth control and started to casually attempt making a family. Things were lighthearted and easy. A few months in and I started to get a bitt more serious-maybe there was some talent to getting pregnant? So, I started tracking my ovulation. When I got a positive OPK, I asked my husband if we were serious about making a baby because we needed to have sex, um, now-what do you think his response was? A few months of tracking goes by and we still have nothing, so I bring it up to my OB/GYN and thus the infertility roller coaster of adjusted expectations began.

I am now 7 years out. I have had 3 IUIs, 1 fresh IVF cycle, and three FET cycles. When we met with our RE that we now see, expectations were high as we moved into the IVF side of things. It was going to be a breeze based on my age, eggs, hormones, and his sperm. Four cycles later and we have no answer as to why I can’t carry a baby to term.

After having gotten two positive pregnancy tests-one chemical and one that resulted in a miscarriage at almost 7 weeks-I tried to go into our last two transfers with realistic expectations. Coming off of the miscarriage, I waited six months before I tried again. The pain was still very real the day of the transfer and I knew I wasn’t really ready to accept an embryo and a chance at building a family. I practically broke down into tears at the acupuncturist because I was so afraid of what the results might be from the transfer. I couldn’t prepare myself for a chance at loss again. Being that it was way too late to back out of the cycle, I was less than an hour away from the transfer, I had to see it through. Walking down the same hall that lead to the room where my D and C took place, anxiety was high. It didn’t much matter that instead of going straight to the room where the D and C happened, we took a right and went into a different room. The feeling of sadness as I walked to have my baby removed from my womb where I couldn’t even protect him from harm was stronger than the feeling of hope for my next two embryos who were about to be transferred. The transfer resulted in a negative pregnancy test, followed up by a consult, and readjusted expectations, but hope because of options.

This cycle was different. I had enough time to work on my grief from my loss and was in a different head space. It would have been my baby boy’s first birthday and the fact that I had been pregnant didn’t sink me to the bottom of despair; it floated me to the height of hope. I had taken my three months of acupuncture in preparation as one day at a time. I didn’t allow myself to get too far ahead of what was in front of me. I didn’t have thoughts of doubt, of what if this one fails too, of negativity. I didn’t get so far ahead of myself to think of baby names or nursery design either. I worked at living in the moment as much as possible, meditated with guided imagery, and stayed calm.

As I got my protocol for the transfer and made the call to the pharmacy for my meds, I felt an excitement to be starting a new cycle. My hysteroscopy, taking place in the same part of the practice where my D and C happened, did not trigger me to sadness. I just really wanted to get through it so I could get that much closer to the day of our transfer. I headed in to my blood work and ultrasound appointments with a positive attitude. I was excited and hopeful, but not too hopeful. My expectations were realistic, but I didn’t dwell on the statistics.

July 23rd would have likely been my son’s first birthday, or at least close to it if he had arrived around my projected due date. This thought did not sink me; instead it gave me the feeling that good things might come, but I was also aware that this round too might not end in a positive test. I, again, took it one day and one moment at a time.

The two week wait wasn’t filled with trepidation or too many hopes. I did not project to brining a baby home and I didn’t project to hearing bad news on the other end of the phone when I got the results back. Even though I knew I’d receive my test results on my 35 birthday-fully aware of where that put me on the charts of IVF statistics if we had to try again, I worked at not getting ahead of myself. I didn’t think about what like would be like as we adjusted to being parents and I didn’t think about what life would be like as we adjusted to being child free. I was just present in moment. I took my shots like a champ and meditated nightly with my FET guided imagery program. The soothing voice lulling me to restful sleep, only to wash, rinse and repeat the next day.

Yesterday was my birthday. It was also my pregnancy test day. I will admit that August 1st was more difficult than the other days in my two week wait. I really just wanted the test to happen already so we’d know, but I also knew that once delivered, those test results required an adjustment in expectations. If positive, I would have to adjust to the fact that carrying to term might be difficult or impossible for me. I also had to adjust to the fact that it could be a breeze and not to let the past predict the future. If negative, I would have to adjust to the fact that we weren’t going to be parents this round. I would have to adjust to the fact that we did have options, though those options meant more adjusted expectations.

I was anxious yesterday as I traveled the hour and 15 minutes to the RE’s office for my blood work. I took deep breaths, tried to distract myself with reading, jokes with my husband, and signing along with the radio. I tried not to think about what impact the results of the test would have on me, my husband, and our lives. Riding in the elevator, A. leaned over and hugged me. He said that no matter the outcome, things would be okay. I nervously nodded and took another deep breath as I stepped out of the elevator. I greeted the receptionist with a smile and took my seat in the waiting room, trying to focus on my book. I was wished a happy birthday by the nurse who did my blood draw and given well wishes for a positive outcome. It felt that a good outcome was possible.

We checked out and I took many more deep breaths as we worked our way back home. It being my birthday and the tax free weekend in my state, I wanted to stop at DSW for new shoes. I knew I was getting closer and closer to the phone call with my results as I tried on shoes. I checked my phone to be sure I had my volume up, even though I knew it was not on silent. My phone began to buzz with happy birthday wishes, many from friends who knew that I was getting results from the test and who tried to ask but not ask about the outcome. My search for a nude pair of heels became my sole focus and I meandered through the clearance section. Finally, the phone rang. Standing in the middle of an isle, shoe boxes opened around me, I took the call. I instantly knew the results. I could hear it in her voice.

I tried to sound positive and understanding as she explained that I wasn’t pregnant and that she was sorry. I had empathy for her as I knew that just as much as I didn’t want to receive this news, she certainly did not want to deliver it to me, or the many other women who had the same news I got that day. I also felt the twinge of jealousy knowing that there were also those women who got positive news that day and grew angry that I was not one of them. On all of the days of the year, I got a negative pregnancy result on my damn birthday.

Being that I was in public, I collected myself and while this may sound crazy, I continued to shop for shoes. My husband had gone to Costco and I was in many ways thankful that I had a chance to process the news and go through those initial emotions completely anonymously, as just another shopper in the store looking for shoes. I could adjust my expectations again and let the shoes console me. I ended up with four pairs.

What sucks about the results the most is that we still don’t have a reason for our lack of success. It isn’t like they can tell me that I will never likely get pregnant because of deformities, PCOS, or endometriosis. They cannot say that A. doesn’t produce enough or no sperm, that his sperm are shaped weird, or that they don’t swim well. We fall in that small percentage of people who have unexplained infertility. The decision to ultimately stop treatment falls on us, not on a tangible reason for our lack of success. To have been pregnant means I know that there is always a hope that I can be pregnant again, which means I always want to go back for one more round. There will always be that sliver of hope that makes me doubt stopping treatment.

Before we head to the post-IVF consult, I already know what my options are. I know that I can go through another fresh round-Attain owes us one last fresh round. That will likely give us a number of embryos. Two years ago they retrieved 18 eggs, eight of which became blasts. It would be easier to walk away if we didn’t have that last fresh round and didn’t have the opportunity to continue the process. I know that I can do a fresh transfer and then use the remainder for surrogacy. I have a friend who has offered to be our surrogate. We can jump into adoption, though scrapping the money together to be able to pay for adoption seems daunting at the moment. It could mean A. having to switch jobs and us moving. We live in an awesome college town, but the opportunities to be a working professional are slim. We would have to sell our home and move to his hometown. We could live child free, though based on our conversation home yesterday, I don’t think we are ready to not be parents in some way to someone.

I know that these are all opportunities and shouldn’t be seen as problems. I know that there are plenty of women who would rather be in my shoes with options than to be without options. I know it can seem that I sound like a whining brat. The thing is I just want resolve and I wish it didn’t have to come from what I choose. I wish it were completely out of my control. It would make the expectation adjustment so much easier.

Just because I feel petty

I felt the need to post mostly because this bothers me every time I get on Pinterest and because I feel guilty that I haven’t posted in a very long time. Summer school and all that, you know.  Teaching it…not enrolled.  I was pursuing a degree in library science, so technically I would be enrolled for course work this summer, but I have to say that I might be a library science dropout.  I never got around to enrolling in my classes before the end of drop-add. And, I just became a statistic for something else. Awesome.

So back to the point of this post. I have a beef with people who end up on my Pinterest feed, or whatever we call it in Pinterest, who have a board called “real mommy stuff.”  Like. nails. on. a. chalkboard. I refuse to ever repin crap that they pin, even if it the 52 greatest ways to reuse a toilet paper roll for yard art. I just won’t do it.  I scroll past their posts with a vengeance and with disgust seething from my clenched jaw.  All of which goes away quickly when I find the next new way people are using reclaimed wood to make a dining room table, but that’s not the point. I’ll pin that, with absolute admission that I will never make a dining room table out of reclaimed wood ever, but I think the idea is cool and the person has not assigned to a stupid board called “real mommy stuff.”  I also feel like there is no discrepancy in what gets posted under “real mommy stuff.” These people seem to put 695 slow cooker recipes, how to use a jig, painting mason jars, making outdoor bars for the deck, cleaning with lemons, and how to repurpose old bath tubs under “real mommy stuff.” I mean how much of that has anything to do with being a mommy anyway? Aren’t some of those things just “real people stuff”?

So why do I cringe when these pinners and their board labeled “real mommy stuff” show up on my screen? I don’t know if it is the smugness of their pictures (I’m sure they are very lovely people and that I’m totally projecting their smugness) or just the fact that there are things out there that people feel should be categorized under “real mommy stuff.” I’m also sort of over, okay really over, the claiming of all things by mothers-that sounds really terrible. Maybe it is more that I am over the only identity any woman in their mid-30’s and 40’s seems to be recognized for is their being a mother.

Being petty? Probably. The either or identity seems to permeate every aspect of our lives and I’m just not okay with it. Every time it comes up, it makes me acutely aware of what I am not and that’s the rub.