Friday, April 27, 2012

Final Thoughts on National Infertility Awareness Week

While National Infertility Awareness Week technically ends tomorrow, I've decided to make tonight my final post.  Unlike the previous posts, this is my personal "take" on the journey Adam and I have taken these past 2 years.  Being infertile has changed our lives, in positive and negative ways. 

In the past 16 months, I've taken more medications (oral, injections, and others) than I ever have before.  I've been through more invasive tests than ever before.  I've been sedated and put to sleep more than ever before, and more than most will ever need.  I have feared the unknown in our lives more than ever before.  I had more sleepless nights in the past year than my previous 33 years combined.  I've had more blood drawn than the 2+ gallons I have given since turning 18.  I have been to the doctor's office more than ever before (often with minimal clothing).  I have cried in front of my doctor and his nurse, for the first time in my life.  I have learned that my body is seriously flawed from a physical standpoint.  I have learned that some of my friends are not really friends.  I have communicated with my husband more than ever before.  I have cried more than ever before.  I have failed in something critically important to me for the first time in my entire life, and I continue to fail at every step of the process. I have questioned my faith, the power (or lack thereof) of prayer, and God's will.

On a positive note (if you can call it that), I have tolerated more pain than I ever thought I could bear.  I have learned how to give myself shots without freaking out!  I have communicated with my physician and his staff more than ever before.  I have expanded my knowledge base.  I have met many wonderful ladies and a few good men in this process!  I have been deeply humbled from my failures.  I have learned just how special and wonderful children are, and what a blessing it is that most couples don't have to struggle for them. I have learned that I have a handful of friends who really do love me and care about me. I have learned how to communicate very effectively with Adam, to lean on him when I'm weak, and to love him more than ever. And, I have learned that God's will is not necessarily ours and that really, all I can do is pray that he brings us through this process with peace, humility, and grace.

My greatest 3 lessons in this process are:
1. My family is wonderful and loves Adam and I regardless of what happens with our infertility saga.
2. My faith in God is gradually growing stronger despite being seriously challenged this past year.
3. I truly have the most wonderful husband in the world and marrying Adam was the best life decision I've ever made!

I sincerely believe that Adam and I are approaching the end of our infertility road.  We could be done as early as July, though won't make any final decisions until late in the fall.  While we want a baby more than anything, we realize that it may not be God's plan for us.  If we fail in June and don't ever have a child of our own, I still feel that we will have "conquered" our infertility.  We have certainly given this our best shot and perhaps, this is one "failure" I'm just going to have to accept.  For those struggling with infertility, my heart hurts for you...deeply.  For those reading this who are not infertile, thank you for following our lives, for your comments/messages/texts/calls/and support, and for being willing to "learn" something in the process.

Thank you all for allowing us to share our lives with you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Infertility Myths

I figured this would be a good follow up to last night's post...infertility myths.  I have gathered these from articles, board posts, and personal experiences.  Here goes!

1. Adopt and You'll Get Pregnant:  Yeah...right.  Sure, this has happened at some point to someone.  BUT, do you actually know the "friend" who this happened to?  I surely don't.  Believe it or not, studies have actually been done on this.  Here's the real truth, only 5% of couples who adopt actually become pregnant afterwards.  That's the same number who become pregnant after terminating fertility treatments...adoption or not!

2. Infertility is the Female's Fault: Not hardly! 35% of all infertility is directly attributed to the male partner!  In 20% of all infertility cases, both partners are involved.  In our personal case, we are both equally 100% incapable of creating a child in the bedroom...even if we were with different spouses.  We like to think that this means we are truly a match made in Heaven!  We also know that neither of us will ever be featured in the "Surprise, who's your Daddy/Mommy Maury Povich Show," or if we are...the test will be negative!

3.  Couples Who Work Hard Enough Eventually Get Pregnant:  Nope!  Adam and I worked REALLY hard at this...and still do (just in other ways).  Of couples labelled infertile, over 60% will go on to have children by some path.  The other 40% won't...period.  Obviously, some couples are more willing to do IVF, use donors and surrogates, etc., and some aren't.  Either way, there will always be failures.  Nothing in the ART world is ever guarenteed!

4.  Infertility is Psychological: Wrong again.  80-90% of all cases of infertility have a defined physical cause.  Us infertiles only become crazy once we get the label!  If therapy and psych drugs got people pregnant, there would be a lot more "experts" in the field!

5.  Infertility is a Sexual Problem: Let's just think a you think that 13 year olds having sex and getting pregnant are "doing it" by the book?  Not hardly!  The majority of infertility problems have nothing to do with bedroom malfunctions (like over 99% of them)!  I can tell you from experience that Viagra isn't used for infertile males to "fix" the problem!  It is however, potentially useful in females for building the endometrial lining (just FYI)!

6.  Infertility is Against God: Now that's a can of worms!  Since this is my blog and my opinion, I'm calling this a myth.  My Reproductive Endocrinologist is a devout, practicing United Methodist (like me).  He prays.  I'm pretty sure God wouldn't have blessed him with this knowledge if he didn't have intentions of him using it!  I am very thankful for medical science, but with 3 failures under my belt...I am well aware that it isn't really in control...God is!

7.  Women are Getting Pregnant in Their's the new 30s:  Well...women are getting pregnant far later than life than was the case in the past.  Some actually even manage to do it with their own eggs.  BUT, for most...the "secret" is donor eggs.  I think donor eggs are wonderful and have opened many doors for women who would otherwise be without options (some even in their 20s-30s)!  I just hate to see people actually think that we are becoming more fertile from an evolutionary standpoint, not hardly!

8.  Infertility is Someone's Fault (Related to Lifestyle):  Well...  I'll be the first to say that Adam and I have scoured every detail of our past to see what might have "caused" us to both be so infertile.  We've never had STDs, been substance abusers, or anything of that sort!  We certainly feel some Christian guilt though...sometimes thinking God is punishing us for something in our past.  But, infertility is a DISEASE...not a religious punishment experience!  People don't spiritually or medically deserve to be infertile...period.  It just happens. 

9.  Relaxation Helps Fertility:  Now, this is my favorite!  Here's my response (to people who push the issue), "We did a 9 day trip to the Happiest Place on Earth and another 9 day trip on a Caribbean Cruise.  We ate too much, drank too much, tanned, enjoyed our favorite pasttimes and spent a significant amount of time in our room...neither time did we come back pregnant.  And trust me, we DID relax!"  My next answer (though less common and very rarely needed) is this, "Relaxing won't fix our issues.  My cervix is anatomically abnormal, IF the sperm could get through it, we don't have enough of them.  Assuming a few did, we still wouldn't have enough to penetrate the egg casing.  And that's assuming there was even an egg in the general vicinity!  Assuming one miracle sperm 'got in' a rare penetratable egg, the egg likely wouldn't divide because it's quality is terrible.  IF it divided, it would only survive until day 3 because the sperm DNA would fail and the embryo would die.  And IF the embryo lived, it would only temporarily implant because my body doens't make enough progesterone to maintain a healthy lining.  After that, if by a miracle we got that far, the placenta would clot causing a miscarriage because I have abnormal clotting studies known to do this. what part in this is relaxing supposed to help me???"  That generally ends the conversation!  (Yes...I have an evil streak!)  I'd like to see anyone with this set of issues relax!  On a happy note, every issue we have is treatable and surmountable in some way, but clearly we have a few!  And by the way, surrogacy won't "fix" our issues...despite what the TV wants you to believe.

I guess those are my infertility myth highlights!  Tomorrow...I'm taking a break from my  blog.  I think this post was enough for two nights!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Infertility Etiquette

The truth is that I really can't say this any better than this article does!  I just wish I could be given a nickel for every time Adam and I have been asked/told the following:

1. Have you considered adoption?  My new response is, "Have you?" or "Why didn't you adopt?"
2. Just relax, it'll happen.  My reponse is, "Nope, it won't.  We went on a 9 day Caribbean vacation and spent 10 days at Disney World which calls itself the Happiest Place on Earth.  Didn't work for us!"
3.  Well, maybe it's God's will.  My response is simple, "I guess so."
4. (Sorry, added late!)  In general, telling me how fertile you are!  Let me just tell you, I don't care to hear it.  If sharing the soap with your husband gets you pregnant, then yeah for you.  If your uterus looks perfect and your doctor tells you how important birth control practices are, then yeah for you.  If you got pregnant "accidentally," then yeah for you.  I'm glad most folks are happily fertile, but don't tell me and your infertile friends about it! It's pretty insensitive!

Happy reading!

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Infertility Really Is, From the Trenches

Thanks to Moxie for allowing me to use this awesome poster!!!

Since National Infertility Awareness Week technically began yesterday, I figured I'd do 2 blog posts tonight.  While browsing the infertility forums today (of which I am a member), I noticed an interesting thread in the "Infertility Support" board.  The title of the thread was "Infertility Is..."  Many women wrote posts today listing some of the things that infertility "is" for them.  I could honestly relate to every single line, some more than others.  Here are some things written by our board ladies...

Infertility is:
-having an empty bedroom that serves no purpose. Who needs two guest bedrooms/offices?
-walking along a beach, looking back and knowing there will only ever be two sets of footprints.
-dreading shopping at a supermarket and finding yourself in the baby section because it has been moved around (or surrounded by pregnant women).
-wishing more than anything that you can have what other people take for granted and have so easily.
-not being able to go to your closest friend's baby shower.
-having to always explain why it's just the two of you.
-missing out on birthday parties, easter egg hunts, Christmas mornings.
-becoming angry, hurt, bitter, mad at the world (especially pregnant women and ignorant people).
-walking in to work at a hosptial and seeing that 14 yr old pregnant.
-wondering what did I ever do to have to go thru such a horrible thing.
-scared because I got a positive and thinking theres no way i got a positive, nothing ever goes our way.
-alienating friends and family who can't understand your desire to have a baby and why you just don't adopt.
-when your emotional, social, mental, religious, and medical worlds all colapse on top of one another every month.
-putting your life on hold month-after-month, day-after-day to no end.
-having a void in your heart that cannot be filled by anything but a child.
-having to patiently hold your tongue when your friend says something insensitive about your struggle.
-feeling like less of a woman.
-trying to convince your father that you are happy with just having a dog, because you don't want to really tell them how much time, pain, and shots you have put into this process.
-catching yourself from being jealous (and crying) just because 100 people on Facebook are announcing their pregnancy.
-watching the Disney cruise commercials and crying like a baby because nothing in the world would make you happier than taking a child on one.
-looking at photography websites and seeing pics of daddys and daughters and wanting so badly to be able to give that to your hubby.
-the cause of my greatest heartaches.
-seeking comfort from strangers because not a single one of your family or friends understands the pain.
-thinking you're going to jinx yourself pregnant by buying that mega box of tampons or that huge bottle of your favorite wine, both of which are gone the following month.
-the true meaning of "grin and bear it."

For me, it means:
-going to an older adult's birthday party, seeing their pride in their family, and knowing that Adam and I may never have our own children to be proud of.
-wondering who will help care for us when we are no longer able to care for ourselves?
-wondering who will reap the benefits of our hard work (and incomes) when we are gone?
-just hoping a happy (or maybe even just tolerable) end to all of this is in sight.

Infertility 101

146,693 in vitro cycles were performed in 2010. Of those, 39,473 were on women under 35 years old. I suspect the 2011 stats will be similar when published. The rate of infertility in the United States is generally felt to be around 12% of couples. Infertility is clinically defined by a lack of pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse (6 months if you are over 35). If you are wondering why 35 is the cut-off for a change in diagnosis, it’s because female fertility plummets at age 35. Of all of the couples labeled as infertile, only 3% will actually proceed to in vitro fertilization. In 2011, Adam and I became one of those couples and contributed to 2 cycle failures. We are already one “statistic” into 2012!

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Almost 2 years ago now, Adam began trying to start our family. Just 7 months after starting, we earned the title “Infertile.” Our road has been a tough one, full of unfortunate findings and surprises at almost every step. Because I have truly “been there” and still “am there,” I have decided to post a Blog article or link every day this week in hopes of educating my friends and family about this process. I remember how apathetic I was towards infertile couples several years ago. Now, I feel terrible about it and can honestly say that payback is a miserable experience!