Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Da' Flipside - Molly

There are two sides to every coin, every story, every experience.

The grass is always greener - right?

Meet my friend Caisa.

Her and I were roomies.....way back when.

circa 2005?

We have been through lots together - new relationships, break-ups, engagements, showers, weddings, triathlons, trips to Europe - there has been LOTS and LOTS of cookie dough, Funfetti cake batter and tissues.

Our lives have taken very different turns since our time on Olive St.

Caisa is now a mother of 3 boys. 3 under 3. A toddler (almost 3) and twins (almost 18 months).


Yes, her hands are full.

Our lives now are very different.

Her days are filled with diapers, sippy cups, tantrums, potty trainings, naps, laundry, milestones, hugs, tears, smiles, laughs, triple stroller, double stroller plus an Ergo, mini-vans (they have 2), funny things the kids say, needing to be held, needing to be comforted, needing....needing....and more needing.

Mine days are filled with yoga, CrossFit, hiking with Penny, playing ball with Penny, taking Penny swimmings, puppy play dates, laundry, cleaning the house, errands....shots, blood work, ultrasounds, pills, patches and....waiting..waiting...waiting...waiting.

Very different.
Both very difficult in their own rights.

There are plenty of days when I would welcome that sort of chaos. Every tear, tantrum and poopy diaper.

There are days when I enjoy every moment of my day - just the way it is.

There are days when Caisa would love to lay by the pool and not be reminded of "what needs to be done next".

And there are days when she embraces each needy hand as it reaches out for her.

Welcome to Da' Flipside.

We both - have chosen to blog about it, to share our stories...to open up our lives to others, in hopes that we help others, while we help ourselves.

In IVF, the chances of twins are increased. FYI - Caisa's twins were not products of fertility, just genes.

So....for all of you IVF Twin Moms or for all of those moms with their hands full - I would love to share Caisa's new blog with you.

Read and share in her experience here.

Between her blog and mine.....we pretty much cover it all.

But more than anything we hope that we remind you that there is always Da' Flipside. The grass WILL always be greener.

So enjoy the grass you're in.....you are right where you are supposed to be.

water your own grass.....enjoy your own story

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Think I Can, I Think I Can... - Molly

Staying Positive.
Being Happy.
Having Faith.
Accepting the Lord's Plan.
Understanding the Best I Can.

Enduring to the End.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The News - Molly

I took the weekend off.


I have been mulling over and over with different topics, but for now
here's the news...

Friday I went in for blood work.
I have been on estrogen patches for almost a week (1 patch every other day).

Usually I have low estrogen.
In the past, a pill of Estradiol is always added on to my regimen.

But when the nurse called in the afternoon, my number (looking for 50+) was 146!

I am absorbing my little patch well.
I was thrilled!

After some discussion with my nurse, she and I both think that the changes in my diet have attributed to a more normal hormonal balance.

Thank you paleo/whole30!
This definitely gives me the motivation to keep it up. 

I am now up to 2 patches, every other day. 
Next appointment is Saturday.
They will check to make sure the Lupron has suppressed my natural ovulation and to see if my lining is getting thick. They are looking for a triple layer. 

If all is well, progesterone (PIO) shots start Sunday, patches continue and another check will happen next Tuesday.

My acupuncturist will also be treating me to increase the thickness of my lining. Needles and stimulation (electrodes). 

Everything is set for Friday, February 8th! 

The next 2 weeks I will be eating well, working out a lot and just having some fun.

 Jason and I having a little workout fun

Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Story Is Ever Too Small - Molly

This post is from a dear friend. I am so proud of her for speaking up and sharing her story. No story, no loss is ever "too small".

My name is Nicole, and my life is pretty awesome. I am "living the dream" as a diplomat's wife in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have an amazing, handsome, loving, brilliant, supportive husband. We come from loving & supportive families and we want to have one of our own. SOON. We have only been at our first post for three months, but I constantly hear people say "Wow, you're living the dream!" Well, here's the the thing: WE ARE. Yet, here's the other thing: You probably are too. Life isn't perfect, and that's why it is. 
Living the dream looks like a lot of things from the outside. It's me and my hubby traveling all over SE Asia, eating amazing food, seeing amazing sites and loving every minute of it. 
But here's what you don't see on my blog: I am incredibly sad and healing from a miscarriage. This miscarriage happened when we were on our first vacation in Hoi An, one of my new favorite places. 
Let's back it up; 18 months ago, right before we got married, I had an abnormal pap. I went back and found out that I had HPV and needed a biopsy. This, on top of planning our dream wedding, was incredibly stressful. I got the biopsy and good news, it was aok and I didn't need surgery. 6 months later, I went in for a follow up. The Hubs and I decided we wanted to start a family, we were excited about it...until my lab results called me back and I needed another biopsy. I then went in and found out my cervical cells were not happy and some of them needed to be removed before they turned into cancer(cue freaking out). On top of this, my doc is very busy and I had to wait a month to get in for surgery. Then, last July, I had a surgery(LEEP) that removed part of my cervix. This is a very routine procedure for a very common disease; 75% of women have HPV. I was terrified for the entire year leading up to it; when I found out I had HPV, right before I got married, when I learned I would need a biopsy and then a surgery. All of that was terrible, I spent months in shame and scared even though several of my friends had gone through the same surgery. 

After I got the surgery, I had to go in for my three month check up. Going into the check up, I learned that I was pregnant<what!?> I had gone in to GET the green light, and here was this little light waiting for us! I was floored, excited, Hubs and I cried and hugged it out and I started googling maternity clothes. My doc told me to come back in two days and measure my HcG again, so I went in. She called me hours later to inform me that my HcG had dropped and I might have an ectopic pregnancy, she told me to come in that evening and I told her that I had a flight to catch. She told me it was best to come in. I then closed the door to my office and cried for two hours. Hubs came over and we took a taxi to the clinic together. We had an ultrasound to confirm that it was not ectopic(which it wasn't-yay!), but my doctor was not convinced that I was pregnant(with my HcG at 14g--PG tests are positive at 5g) She sent me on my way and we went off to Hoi An the next day hoping for the best. It was a fine day, but I felt sad and in limbo. 
The next morning I started bleeding and it didn't stop. My travel companion and friend asked me how I was feeling(she knew what was going on), and I told her I was bleeding and probably had my period. She then looked at me and said "Or you're having a MISCARRIAGE", I then proceeded onto my cooking class and called the Embassy Medical Officer that day. He told me to go to the clinic in Da Nang, a thirty minute drive. The hotel called me a car and I proceeded to cry in the car with my hubby the entire way. The driver was very friendly and kept saying "No worry, it's okay", it was very kind and comforting, but I wanted to scream at him "You're not losing your baby right now!!!" We arrived and the General Practitioner on duty met me and I explained my situation and she phoned a friend(literally, her friend at another hospital), then returned to tell me that I was "having my period."(I think hubs could see the steam coming out of my ears) I got a blood test, and waited for the Radiologist to give me another sonogram(my third in three days). He was pulling the machine into the examining room and he DROPPED IT ON THE FLOOR. Hubs looks at me and says "well, there's your next blog post", and we both giggled and I said "NO." Then I got an ultrasound which told us nothing, especially since I was only 4 weeks along. My HcG was at 9 and as it was dropping, and therefore, my hope was too. I went back to Hoi An with Hubs and "enjoyed" the rest of our vacation.

I called my French OBGYN after Hoi An and told her what happened. She told me I had a "mini-miscarriage"--is there such a thing?!?!--and I almost took a taxi to the clinic to scream at her, but I decided against it--oh, the hormones! She then took an entire month and many phone calls to the clinic to tell me that my pap was completely normal and I can "try for baby anytime, your cervix very good for baby." So THAT's positive. Hallelujah.
This all happened one month after we arrived in Hanoi. The two closest girlfriends I had at the time were both 4+ months pregnant. I didn't want to tell anyone, I just wanted to curl up and cry for a week. But alas, I picked myself up by my bootstraps and did my best to look fabulous at the Marine Corps Ball 6 days later.
One of the hard parts about being a "newlywed"(just over a year) is that everyone asks the babies question. It's even harder when you're new at an Embassy and people don't have much else to talk to you about except your family planning goals.
Correction: nothing is harder than something else. If it's hard and challenging for you, it's HARD, period. My pain is not greater than your pain and vice versa. There's no competition here. I'd like us all to just acknowledge when others feel pain with a hug instead of "well at LEAST you______" 
I didn't tell anyone for a week, I didn't tell our families for a month. I left functions early, I appeared anti-social and I didn't try to make any new friends. I cried in bathrooms at parties and smiled when people asked if I want to have kids someday soon...and I still cry when I think about it. There's another spouse in my community who just revealed she is pregnant and is almost exactly where I would have been. I can barely bring myself to look her in the eye. 
I am trusting that the Universe has a plan for me, for us, for our family. My husband says "one day at a time." So here I am, taking it one day at a time and trusting the process.

I didn't want to write this, because I am a big follower of this blog and feel my story is so small, but the pain is real and it feels big to me. 
Thank you Molly, for encouraging me to write about this, for allowing me the space to share, and for all the fellow soul sisters out there manifesting motherhood. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
You can follow Nicole's journey at www.deliciousdiplomacy.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Soul Sister - Molly

Dear Molly -
Here is my story.
We started trying right after we got married, I was only 28, my husband 36 with a 5 year old son from a previous relationship.  My OB said to try for year, since he has a child, everything should be OK, and truth be told, I had an inkling we would have problems, and we thought it was something on my end.  After a year, which my cousin had gotten pregnant on her first try, and many friends seemed to be constantly getting pregnant, or telling me to relax, drink some wine, don't worry about it so much, we were referred to CCRM for male factor issues.  Which was such a shock because of my step son.  IVF with ICSI was recommended at the beginning of 2010 and we took awhile to digest that.  It's expensive, there was no mention of IUI or other drugs, as all my tests were as darn normal as they could be, perfect actually.   You are young, this will work.  We did some all natural stuff, and by the end of 2010 I was done.  I was ready to commit to the shots, to the restrictions, to everything, because TTC after 2 years takes a toll. 

So I know all the tests you refer to, have had them all, they are not fun, they are painful, and after all of this, I just don't seem to be bothered by who's up in my business, literally, because it's par for the course.  Insurance didn't pay for any of this.  We had to do this all out of pocket, my in-laws graciously loaned us money, for which we still owe them a lot.  So Dr. Surrey and our nurse went through everything, I am a carrier for SMA, my husband is not, so he said because of my age he didn't think it was necessary to pay an extra $6000 for genetic testing of the embryos. I had 27 eggs retrieved, I responded really well to the stim meds, when it was all said and done, they deemed 11 worthy of transfer and storage.  I was hyper stimulating and was put on bed rest 2 days before my transfer, and because of that reason we only did one.  I got pregnant, I was so excited.  I called all my family. They knew about this, it was too hard to keep our struggle a secret and they all prayed it would work.  Not to mention, I had to tell my job, as I missed so much for appointments and what not, we are a small firm and my bosses were very supportive of me and I had absolutely no stress regarding my work and infertility.  They were more than generous with time off.  As you know, they make you do a 2nd hcg test, and that's where things went wrong.  My hcg had barely risen and they were saying it was a biochemical pregnancy, which they never even warned me about, they told me to stop my inserts and pull off my patches, to call when I started bleeding and they would follow my hcg down to zero.  Dr. Surrey had no idea why this happened, but he said it could have been a fluke, or a perfect looking embryo is not always perfect.  So he said take a month off and we can do a FET on the cycle after that.  So that's what we did.  I found out I was pregnant again 7/3/11.  On the second hcg test, the same thing happened. I was so devastated. I couldn't believe this happened again.  I did everything right, and even when I wasn't on bed rest, I would put my feet up a lot, I wasn't working full 8 hour days, I stopped all dog training, I didn't even walk my sheltie around the block.  We were shocked.  Dr. Surrey said I may have a clotting disorder.  Lucky me, after 2 miscarriages, insurance pays for those tests. I gave them 13 vials of blood one day, had more work ups, and everything was fine.  He said we could do the genetic testing on the remaining 8 embryos (we transferred 2 the 2nd time), they now do that the night before the transfer.  So we did that, more money borrowed.  We had our 3rd transfer November 1, 2011, we had 2 embryos that were found to be abnormal.  We transferred 2 more. And I wouldn't even take the calls for hcg tests 1 and 2, I made my husband do it. 
We had passed hcg # 2, but were so cautious, we couldn't get excited. I continued to take it easy and tried to avoid Christmas shopping. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, just after 6 weeks, I started bleeding, a lot, I was so panicked, they put me on bed rest and said to come in for the ultrasound on Monday.  There was a baby in there, a perfectly wonderful heartbeat, we cried, we couldn't believe it, it was a miracle to me.  We made it through week 8 and Dr. Surrey sent me back to my OB.  For the 10 week appt., 3 days before Christmas, there was no heartbeat.  Devastation, shock, disbelief, you name it, you know, it's awful. With it being so close the holidays it only made it that much worse, I had spent the tome decorating for the holidays and thinking next year will be Baby's First Christmas. With it being close the holidays and my own wishes to not do anything invasive, I stopped all hormones and waited for my body to expel the baby.  The day after Christmas it started, and it was the worst day of my life, and it lasted a long time.  I should have done the D&C but I just couldn't face any more procedures, I was ready to let my body rest and do what it needed to do.  We did a bit more testing, we had been told they had transferred a boy and a girl, and they found no boy DNA, so this baby was a little girl, that would have been due July 20th, 2012.  Dr. Surrey said they don't know why it happened, but they said if I wanted to try one more time he would do the blood thinner shots and the PIO, I had only done the Endometrium before.
I took a long time off. We decided to do a transfer in the summer, I told my work, our parents, and my sister. I didn't tell anyone previously knew that I was doing it the beginning of July. Oh those PIO shots are awful, the blood thinner ones are too. They sting, and I bruised up like I was being beat up from the inside.  But I knew it was worth it, it was the last try, as Dr. Surrey said he wouldn't recommend doing it again if we were to lose another baby.  So I got pregnant, and passed the 2nd hcg test, the PIO made me feel really sick this time, and I was just miserable,  but I knew it wasn't for very long and these drugs could do the trick that nothing else had.  
At 6 weeks, I started bleeding again, but this time there was a little pain, and I went straight home to bed rest.  This time I knew I had lost the baby(ies) I didn't need that ultrasound the next day to prove it.  We cried in that ultrasound room a long time, then met with Dr. Surrey, and he's very nice, but what do you say to someone that should have been pregnant, that had no issues, that you couldn't keep pregnant?  I decided that day I would use a carrier for my remaining 2.  But my sister had already backed out at the beginning of the summer, as after my 3rd loss, I begged her to get healthy to do this for me if my last try didn't work (she's overweight and not in the best of shape) She said she was worried her work wouldn't be understanding of all the appts she would have to go to.  I have 2 cousins here who I thought would step up, but no, one has submitted records, but not sure of her commitment level, and we can't afford an agency, they are $40-60,000 and we just can't go that route. 
A week after the miscarriage we had to put Brody(our dog) down. August was not kind to us last year.

I decided to send a private FB message to most of the females on there, many of whom I am not friends with, or haven't seen in years and that no one knew I was going through this and put myself out there, asking if anyone knows anyone who has done this, have they done it, would they be willing to, and I got a name of a gal who had done it previously, she was done though, but she was a good source of information and contacts.  A friend of a friend said she would do it, but not until spring, and I found out 2 weeks ago that her family isn't very supportive of her decision, so she's reconsidering, not sure if that's forever, or just for another year, but for now I need to let that one go.  I have a cousin in Cali who just had a baby last July and stepped up right away.  She just turned 40 in November, which is the age cut off.  They won't do a work up until 3 months after nursing is complete, so that's October at the earliest, but they know this, and still OK'd her records and are doing phone interviews. I can't begin to express my gratitude to her for selflessly stepping up, no matter what, she stepped up, and has given me a glimmer of hope. My life is in limbo, still. I can't begin to tell you when I saw that you too were going to do the blood thinner shots that I prayed that they would work for you. 
Unexplained infertility is the worst, how do you know what to work on, if they can't find anything wrong?  I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never be pregnant, I will not breast feed, I will not deliver, I won't have anyone coming up to ask me when I am due, I won't feel the kicks, I won't have my husband holding my hand telling me I can do this, one more push, and it kills me to know he did it with someone else.  I am now coming to terms that I may never be a mother, stepmother yes, but being a mother was all I ever wanted.  I am trying to stay positive that I will get a carrier and the baby(ies) will go full term and I will someday hold my children in my arms.  But, for now, it's so far off. I can't believe 2 years ago I was gearing up for IVF and never once thought it wouldn't work.  I can't believe now that I am wondering if I will ever be a mother.  Adoption is not on our radar, we have 2 potential chances to have biological children, we will see that through.  I am not sure we can afford adoption after all of this anyway. I am not sure my heart could handle any more disappointment and loss. I am trying to focus on something else, motherhood might be the pipe dream, and moving to get a couple acres and agility equipment and maybe have a training center, might be the dream that comes true.

I struggle everyday not to be bitter, not to feel left behind or left out, but I am.  My cousin had another baby last May, her baby girl was to be 2 months older than mine.  Then I was due at the end of this March, so I suppose after I pass all my potential due dates I might hurt less, but I doubt it. Family functions are so hard, not because people are unkind, but I feel like they don't know what to say to me anymore, and think I have gotten past it, or just don't want to talk about it anymore.  I do, I just don't want to talk about it with them anymore, I feel like I have talked to them enough about it.  I go to a local Resolve support group, and even though we all have different infertility issues, and are in different stages of working through it, going the adoption route, or currently in treatments, it helps so much to be around others that get it.

Your blog is inspiring, most generally all too real and relatable, and I just don't want you to be in the same place I am. Trying to find someone to carry your baby or trying to decide if you are done.  All I know is that the not knowing, the constant waiting, the what's next is exhausting.  

It has changed me, it has taken a piece of me that I can't get back by distractions or hope for something else.  People in my life might not get it, or think I should move on, but until you walk a day in my shoes and go without what you want most in this world, it's really easy to say that. There are many times that I look at my life and know I am blessed, my dogs provide endless love and entertainment, and a great hobby that I am really good at, and have met some great people doing it.

My husband and stepson are wonderful, we are a family, but can I let go of the vision I have had for years and what I always wanted and be content with what I have. I think after I transfer my last 2 embryos, no matter what happens, it will provide closure and solace that I did everything I could, I did it right, and it just wasn't enough.  I will never understand, I will never understand why some who should not be parents are, and why those of us who would be great parents don't get that.  I will never feel like I can get over life not being fair, but I understand the concept, I am just not in a place to accept it.

I wish you all the best, I truly hope this time is it for you, but I know what you are going through. The what ifs, and how all those early weeks you won't be able to relax and know everything will be OK, that this baby will survive, because unfortunately there are no take-backs, you can't forget your previous losses, and you have ashes, you have a necklace, you saw with your own eyes what was happening and you couldn't control it, you could just cry and grieve and hope for the best when you have healed enough to get to the next step.
I feel personally connected to you, and want so badly for someone who has been to hell and back with infertility and losses to have it work, it won't be me, but it could be you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gut Check - Molly

Here we are less than 3 weeks until our transfer date.

Gut check time. 
(well, early gut check time)

This past weekend Jason swept me away to Scottsdale for a work trip.
The sunshine, quiet, peace - did me good.

I was thinking about everything, but not actually thinking about everything (that make sense?).
Four days by the pool, well, it's good for you.
While I was by the pool, my little patch of estrogen was along for the ride.

And it just hit me.
And my little white flag started to raise.

I am so done with this.
Done with shots, patches, appointments, blood draws, tests, ups, downs, calendars, charting, drugs, pills, vitamins......

I am not giving up hope or looking for praise (or sympathy).

And we are not canceling this cycle.

I just realized...that I am done.
Or I am ready....to be done.

I have a wonderful life.
I have an exquisite husband, who is my best friend, the love of my life and who cares for me more than I could ever ask for.

I have good friends, loving family, a fun job and...
a gorgeous pup who I am crazy for.
I am going to give this round my all, my best, my everything.
But I am not going to let this struggle, this trial, steal my identity.

Jason and I have our "plan" if it works, if it doesn't.
We know our next steps.
We support each other in those next steps.

But I am not going beat myself up anymore.

I am going to smile.
I am going to laugh.
I am going to enjoy my life....
all of my life.

I look forward to the next few weeks. 

I am looking forward to this transfer.

And I have faith that Heavenly Father has a plan for me, for us and our family.


Gut check time.


Monday, January 21, 2013

River of Tears - Molly

Our infertility journey began like most couple’s, we had tried for a year but with no success, so we subjected our bodies to a barrage of tests intended to identify the cause.  What we discovered was surprising… 
I had a unicornuate uterus diagnosed through an HSG test and confirmed with an MRI.  This very rare uterus abnormality (something like .025% of pop) meant that my uterus had only one “horn” or side, luckily I did have two ovaries.  Basically, it was unlikely that I could get pregnant when my cycle was on the left because there wasn’t a fallopian tube nearby.  Our fertility doctor explained that although it’s linked to infertility, we didn’t have any other risk factors.  We were young (under 30) and healthy, so the recommendation was to try for two years before any intervention. Armed with this information, we confidently continued to try for about 9 more months before impatience got the best of us.

We returned to our fertility doctor and were advised to begin with IUI, knowing that my abnormal uterus would affect our treatment plan.  First and foremost, under no circumstances should we try to get pregnant with multiples.  Women with a unicornuate uterus have a higher risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, but more importantly, the smaller uterus could lead to preterm labor.  I was prescribed a very low dose of hormones to control the stimulation and monitored closely to ensure that only one dominant follicle formed on my right ovary.   

We were thrilled to become pregnant on our third attempt at IUI!!!  Everything was going perfectly during the first few weeks - no nausea, normal energy, no spotting.  We were completely blindsided at my 9 week ultrasound to discover there was no heartbeat.  It’s still painful for me to think about those moments of complete and utter despair. I underwent a D & C procedure a few days later.  During the weeks following our loss, we decided that we would continue with IUI as soon as the doctor would allow it.  Emotionally, I was not ready even though my body was physically.  I was a wreck each of the three times we found out I had not become pregnant from the IUI.  So after 6 cycles of IUI with only one unsuccessful pregnancy, we were ready for a different plan, IVF.

I remember feeling so excited to be starting IVF, thinking that it was the silver bullet.  Boy was I wrong!  Our first cycle of IVF was a shocking disappointment.  After weeks of shots, appointments, ultrasounds, and sleepless nights, the doctor only retrieved 8 eggs, 4 were fertilized, and only one made it to blastocyst and could be transferred.  I did not become pregnant.  I was only 30 at the time, in the world of infertility I was very young and we were all scratching our heads with confusion.  When we were ready to begin the entire process again, our doctor recommended a different protocol and explained that they were going to treat me like I was 45 and it was their last chance.  The additional hormones and stimulation worked and we were left with 3 embryos (still a lower than expected outcome).  Since we didn’t want to risk becoming pregnant with multiples, we were advised to transfer one embryo at a time.  The first two embryos were unsuccessful.  By the third transfer, we had lost complete confidence in the process.  Here, we were left with our “runt” embryo.  The lowest quality embryo we would try, and, of course, when our faith was being tested the most, it happened, I was pregnant! My first trimester was rough and I was elated.  As long as I was feeling exhausted and nauseous, I knew I was pregnant.  Due to the risk of preterm labor, I received additional monitoring and to the shock of everyone I made it to 39 weeks!  In December 2010, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

Knowing we wanted more children and weren’t getting any younger, we celebrated our son’s first birthday with shots, the fertility kind.  To our amazement, I got pregnant from the first embryo we transferred and carried to 39 weeks again, delivering a baby girl this October.  Her middle name is “Hope” because it was the only thing that sustained us through all the heartache.

So that’s one part of our story.  The other part is the emotional journey you go on through infertility.  I recall having moments of absolute peace, thinking it will happen when the time is right, and moments of red, hot rage.  Looking back now, I’m still amazed at our strength through such a dark time.  I can honestly say that not a day goes by when I don’t think about our struggle and the struggles of others trying to conceive.  I have been changed by it.  I remember reading an article where the author provided a metaphor that has stuck with me.  She describes very poetically how you have to cross a river carrying your own tears. The outcome of her own journey through infertility is not what I hope for those trying to conceive, but the metaphor does shed light on the amount of sorrow people silently endure in starting a family.  I think I cried enough tears to fill the Amazon river.  Our two miracles prove to me every moment of every day that every tear was worth it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The World Is My Oyster! - Molly

I received a very sweet gift tonight from a friend.

The card and the gift both brought me to tears.
It really meant a lot.

But mostly, it also gave me more perspective on this whole crazy infertility/IVF journey.

The ornament reminds me that there is something waiting for me to discover/experience this year.
Something incredible.

But the ornament also reminded me that I already have something incredible waiting for me - 4 wonderful children. One day I will know them. One day I will raise them. And one day I will understand (not just accept) the struggles we have endured.

Then I read the card.

And the card warmed my heart. 
The card filled my eyes with tears - tears of hope.

The World Is My Oyster. 
And as my beautiful friend so graciously worded it -

"implant a grain of sand inside and watch it turn into a pearl".

Every trial, every struggle that we endure on this earth irritates us, bothers us and exhausts us.

But if we allow that grain of sand to implant, if we endure with faith, hope and acceptance without understanding...

eventually it will turn into a beautiful pearl.

It wasn't until I read the card for the 4th time that I realized this -

this journey has already given me so many beautiful pearls.

My darling husband.
The love and support of my eternal family.
My local, distant and cyber friends.
My pup.

My hope.
My faith.
And my patience.
And my understanding (even though I struggle to accept).
My knowledge in the gospel.
And the love for my Heavenly Father and Savior.

My pearls.

My beautiful pearls.

And hopefully, we get one more this year.
Thank you Emily.

The Ninja - Molly

He's here.
I got to hold him today.

The Ninja has surfaced.
And he is darn cute.

Yep, you heard me right - 

Haylee had her little boy!

She is no longer "still not pregnant".
She is "not pregnant" anymore.

She is a MOM!

Meet Owen - born 1/10/13

He is tiny. 
But he is perfect in every way.

Haylee is recovering well and enjoying "not being pregnant" anymore.

Welcome Owen - The Ninja!

For more on Owen click here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Proof You Should Never Give Up - Molly

 Don't give up. Ever.

We had been married for less than a year when I had the distinct impression that I was ready to start trying to have a family. My husband was ready too, so I went off the pill. A lot of physical changes took place in my body, but none of them were due to pregnancy. I could go 2 months without my period, but not be pregnant. Very frustrating! Instead of pregnancy, I got major acne, and started gaining weight, going bald, and growing back that hair in weird places. I know, TMI. I went to the doctor, but I was told because I was so young, I had to wait a whole year of trying before I got an infertility appointment—that's Kaiser's way. In the eyes of the modern world, I was still young, but in the Mormon world, I was already almost a decade behind!

A year passed, and at 29, I had my first infertility appointment—right after our visit to Provo to see my little brother’s first baby.  I was told had PCOS—polycystic ovarian syndrome—which was a hormonal wackiness that explained all of those lovely symptoms previously mentioned. I am a classic PCOS patient. I responded really well to Clomid (fertility drug), so my first endocrinologist was really hopeful that we would get pregnant. We were too. He gave us a schedule of exactly what days we should conduct our business, and we would likely conceive on our Costa Rican adventure. My husband had to rush home from work early before we caught our flight. :-)
  Although it was a fabulous trip, no Costa Rican baby came out of it. More test results showed that we both had issues that would make it very unlikely that the timing would work out perfectly enough to conceive on our own. My husband had “premature aging,” low count, low motility, and morphed sperm.  We were told we could try all the fertility treatments covered by our insurance, but he felt most likely the only thing that would work for us would be in-vitro fertilization. I was stunned. I had friends who were a little older than me that had been going through the same issues, but I never imagined that I would be in that same position. I have learned that the more exposure I get from friends who are going through troubling times, the more likely I am to experience those things myself. I think it's Heavenly Father's way of preparing me for rough waters. We made an appointment with Dr. Lisa Farah-Eways, an IVF doctor, for October '07. I was then 30, and very depressed about it.

We were lucky to get bumped up on a waiting list due to a cancellation, and we had an IVF date set for January '08.  I had laparoscopic exploratory surgery in October '07 to remove cysts, a polyp, and a fibroid to prepare for the IVF procedure. I also had two consecutive hysteroscopies in November and December '07. In January '08 we had our first attempt in what is called a "fresh cycle."
33 eggs were extracted from my ovaries (which ovaries are still enlarged to this day).

19 of them fertilized.
8 embryos were viable.
2 of them were implanted.
6 of them were frozen.

I did not get pregnant. WHAT? That was not supposed to happen. Success rates run around 30%. Why I didn't think I'd be part of that unsuccessful 70% is beyond me. But there was hope. We had some frozen guys. In March '08 we tried a frozen cycle with another two embryos. One of them took, and I got pregnant. We were thrilled. All was going smoothly in the pregnancy. I finished the school year at 4 months pregnant, with plans to take a leave of absence for the following year. I had a big goodbye, packed everything up and closed my classroom, and then I got sick. Really sick.

It started with rapid weight gain and swelling. I then realized my blood pressure was really high. At 17 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital in the beginning stages of multiple organ failure. My kidneys were failing, liver inflamed, blood platelets dropping, and hemorrhaging was possible. But our baby was alive and I was sure everything would work out. I was a human pin-cushion as doctors tried to figure out what happened. Steroids seem to help, but not enough.

We lost Wyatt at 20 weeks due to my body’s inability to fight a disease and maintain the pregnancy at the same time. That was the most devastating thing to ever happen to us. Then my health improved. My case was analyzed by physicians all over the Bay Area. My nephrologist (kidney MD) originally diagnosed me with a chronic kidney disease, then changed the diagnosis to early pre-eclampsia. My perinatologist (high risk pregnancy MD) disagrees and says that is impossible. To this day, we still do not know for sure what exactly happened.  I recently read an abstract from a medical journal that mentioned that women whose ovaries are hyperstimulated during fertility treatments can have kidney damage.  So that’s what I think happened—my kidneys were damaged to the point that my body was unable to sustain the pregnancy.  I still have to write my doctors about my hypothesis. As soon as I got cleared of the steroids, we were ready for attempt number 3 at in-vitro. Some were skeptical and wondering why we would even try again. BAH!!

In January '09 I was completely clean of steroids and de-greased from my recent muscle-building competitions (ha ha), and cleared for attempt #3 of IVF. These 2 embryos were implanted. We were told by the nurses they were as perfect as we could hope for. My fraternal twin boys were born in September of 2009.  I did my last frozen cycle, implanting my last two embryos, in January of 2011.  My third son was born in Oct. 2011.

I feel so blessed and grateful to be the mother to these sweet boys, and as crazy as this may seem to some of you, I still long for more children.  My husband and I have decided that doing a new fresh cycle of IVF is financially out of the question.  I am now 35 and my husband is 37.  I am staying off the pill (even though to manage my PCOS it’s better for me to be on it) in hopes of another miracle baby.  Hopefully this post will bring hope to some of you who are in a situation similar to mine.

My two cents about staying silent about infertility vs. being open about it.  I decided to be fairly open about my infertility struggles for a couple of reasons.  #1, I felt like people who knew me would be wondering why I was waiting so long to have kids, and I even felt like I was being judged by some of them.  I decided it was better to just have it out there than to have people wondering and guessing.  #2, IVF involves lots of dr. appointments and lots of drugs.  I thought if I was acting a bit crazy I wanted people to know why.  #3, I needed love, support, and prayers whether it worked or it didn’t.   I know everyone handles this pain differently, but that is why I decided to share.