appointed time · baby dancing · iui · trying to conceive

IUI #4

So IUI #3 didn’t work. I really didn’t expect it to between the one egg and husband and I having a fight that evening (and not BD’ing per MD’s instructions); but it still sucked seeing that negative pregnancy test. And then my period was 3 days late again; so it only prolonged the disappointment as each day without AF made me a sliver hopeful that I’d just tested too early. I hadn’t.

We jumped right back in to round 4; I figured if we waited a cycle we’d be starting to get closer to the holidays and wasn’t sure that was a good plan.

Doctor put me on follistim this time. Yowza, that price tag hurt. Going from $17.50 clomid per cycle to $924 for 900 IU of follistim was not enjoyable. Thankfully the medication itself wasn’t too bad; stung a little with injections but minimal (to no?) side effects. And it stimulated a huge follicle on the right with another coming along nicely behind it. Nothing on the left; odd since last month it was the right ovary with the follice…I thought they alternated.

Had the IUI this morning. For some reason, husband’s sperm count was *way* lower this time; doctor estimated between 2-3 million motile sperm in the sample. We were at 10 million(ish) last time. He hasn’t had any significant life changes in the last month, so I don’t know what’s going on.

When I texted him to update him (he’d already left the clinic to head to work); he sent back a simple “Judges 7:2 my love.” I looked it up…

“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ ”

So here’s hoping that our tiny army of 2-3 million sperm is just what God plans to use to make our baby so that we can tell him/her and the world that it was nothing we did.

Here’s to another two week wait.

family · hope chest · how to · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

IUIs and hope chests

I’ve been busy with moving and settling in to our new home; and I started an Instagram account to document our infertility journey (@baby_hope_chest) so that’s been more my focus than this blog…but here’s a quick update.

We had our third IUI on Tuesday; I only produced one follicle in response to the clomid this time around so I’m not feeling quite as hopeful (given that #2 failed and there’s one less egg) but I guess it’s better to keep my expectations low so I’m not as disappointed if it didn’t work. My doctor said if this round doesn’t work, we can continue with IUIs but she will switch me to injectable meds since I seem to be developing resistance to the clomid.

I’ve been eating a thick slice of pineapple every morning since Tuesday; and I didn’t stop taking the estrogen this time. So maybe. Obviously none of that will help the egg actually get fertilized/develop; but if it does I want the lining thick enough to support it.

I started my hope chest. It’s really been so helpful; my mom was afraid it would be more harmful but it really is keeping my focus more on what I hope to have (and waiting well) than on what I don’t have right now. Plus the idea of having things purchased/made for our baby before he/she even exists is just really neat.

I purchased three items for the three failed cycles since the miscarriage; newborn onesies, matching socks, and a set of swaddles. I also put several of my stuffed animals in there and books I remember from when I was really little. I’m also working on a quilt and have been writing letters to the baby. My mother-in-law gave me the two blankets she made; and my mom is working on a white baby outfit with embroidered olive branches on it.

This baby (whenever/if they come to be…) is so very loved and I think that knowledge is helping me wait a little better too.

grief and loss · Infertility · journal entry · sermon takeaways · trying to conceive

The loneliness of infertility

I haven’t felt like writing very much recently. Part of that is just being so busy with work lately; and between that and trying to do work on our new house and start planning for a move…there’s hardly any time to think.

But it’s been a while (again) and I’m finding that I’m in a rather uncomfortable place emotionally so I need to try and sort things out.

Things are fine during the day. I’m occupied with the aforementioned work/house tasks and that keeps me distracted. And most of the time I’m so exhausted at the end of the day that I just crash.

But lately I’ve been finding myself overwhelmed by a cloud of negative emotions and I can’t get myself out of it (other than by going to sleep; which ends up being difficult if I get down enough).

This infertility journey has become very lonely. I feel so isolated. Yes, there’s people I follow on social media and various blogs; so there’s indirect encouragement sometimes. It’s helpful to see that I’m not alone; but that isn’t translating to my immediate day to day life.

People have all but forgotten about the miscarriage; and I don’t think they realize that the continuing to unsuccessfully try is almost as hard for me now as the miscarriage was, and how difficult it has been to deal with the unsuccessful IUI. And they don’t ask. I want to be heard; but I don’t want to force my emotions on anybody so I keep them inside until someone asks.

I even feel like I can’t really talk to my husband about it. Which is absolutely not true; I know I *can,* he always is willing to listen. But I know I sound like a broken record whining over wanting to be pregnant and whining over who didn’t say or do what I thought they should have, so I just get tired of repeating the same things and making him feel badly for not being able to fix it or make me be able to move on.

He made a comment recently indicating that he wouldn’t have even been able to remember our baby was due in October; and that really stung. I know those dates are more meaningful to me, but I guess I thought he would at least remember our due date and hoped that when the time came he’d acknowledge it.

So even in the processing of the loss (which was definitely set back by the failed IUI) I feel very alone and forgotten. I get a sense of, “why are you still being so angsty about this” from people whenever I do bring something up related to it.

I can’t handle pregnancy and birth announcements. I can’t handle seeing moms with newborns. I want it to be me so badly and every month it isn’t I feel like it’s less and less likely and the ache just gets deeper and heavier.

I know in the journey of all this I’ve all but forgotten God. I’ve pushed him off to a corner to try to deal with everything on my own; and so unsurprisingly he feels far away. As my pastor pointed out, “we shoo God off to a corner and then wonder where he is when we need him…he’s probably still sitting over there saying, ‘I’m here, I just gave you the space you asked for.'”

I’ve been trying to get back into reading my Bible (amazing how when I forget one day it completely throws me out of the routine even if I’ve been doing it consistently for weeks…) and I picked up a book on spiritual disciplines that I need to spend some time looking at. The sermon on Sunday was really applicable as well, he was talking about the function of lament as a means of helping us to respond well to despair; so perhaps I need to take some time to form my own lament in an attempt to reconnect with a God I believe to be good even if none of this feels good right now.

And I guess I also should just talk to my husband. He can’t fix it, but he can be there and I just need to let him.

grief and loss · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

Grieving a baby that never existed

It’s weird to grieve a baby that never existed. But we were so very hopeful this time around; given that it worked before, there were two eggs and a good sperm count, and everything seemed to be lining up so perfectly (again).

So when yesterday brought another negative test, I found myself in a very emotional place. I knew it would be hard if we weren’t successful, I didn’t expect the grief to feel so intense.

I grieve the loss of a life that never even was, the continued emptiness of my womb, the loss of all the plans of a pregnancy over Christmas and a baby or two in the spring. I re-grieve the miscarriage and I grieve in advance for the upcoming due date that will not have the joy of a healthy pregnancy to offset it.

I am sad. I am angry. I am disappointed. I am frustrated. I am empty.

And I’m going to feel very silly posting this if I simply tested too early with a cheap test and things come out positive tomorrow (the official 14 day mark) or AF never shows; but I really don’t have much hope for that at this point.

Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

It’s not looking too promising

I made the mistake of testing out my trigger shot. I knew it would probably be a bad idea and didn’t plan to do it,  but once my box of cheap tests arrived I almost couldn’t help myself.

Sunday afternoon (8 dpo, 10 dpt) there was the faintest line. I knew that was absolutely the trigger. Monday morning (9 dpo, 11 dpt) it was about the same. Given how faint it was on Sunday I got hopeful that the line I was seeing was the beginning of real hcg and not the remnant of trigger; though I didn’t use morning urine for the first test so I’m sure that was a factor.

Yesterday morning (10 dpo) the test was completely negative. Not even a hint of a possibility of a line.

I know 10 dpo is pretty early to get a positive, especially with the cheap tests…and if I had a later implantation it’s going to take a few more days for anything to show up. But my positive last time came at 12 dpo and it was enough of a line even on the cheap tests that it seems that the hcg had probably been around for a day or two prior.

So I’m trying not to lose hope since it’s still early, and I’m not out until AF arrives…but my sense of optimism all but disappeared with the trigger lines and I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the negative I anticipate on Friday while still knowing that even if I prepare for the disappointment it’s still going to be really difficult to have it be true.

Note to future self: just don’t test out the trigger shot. The possibility of knowing just a day or two earlier is not worth the emotional roller coaster that comes with it.

Infertility · iui

A miscellany

After a whole headache’s worth of phone calls on Wednesday between our medical group, our insurance provider, and the clinic…finally got all the authorizations we needed. Unfortunately we still have to pay 50% of everything, and insurance won’t cover the actual IUI procedure, but it’s better than 100% of everything.

It was probably the fastest “initial consult” of all time. Since I’m new to this clinic, I had to schedule an initial consult with the doctor. But she already knows me and knows our history…so it was basically a “well, the protocol we did last time worked well, so I’d like to just try that exact same thing again…call on the first day of your cycle and we’ll get started!” We chatted a bit about what could have gone wrong before (she still thinks it was most likely a chromosome issue, but assured me if it happens again that she’ll do a workup on me), but I was in there no more than 5-10 minute. She was happy to see me, it was very sweet and that made me feel encouraged.

Also just grateful to know that we can jump back in right away. I’m expecting AF sometime the end of this week or anytime next week…so assuming there’s no problems (cysts etc), we could maybe be pregnant again by the end of July? I guess in the grand scheme of things that’s really not that far away.

*********

Still just feeling super blah and disinterested overall. I was keeping a thankfulness and productivity log and after a stressful couple of work days last week I sorta got out of the habit. Maybe I’ll try to start again on Monday, it definitely keeps me more accountable. I’m keeping up with my chore chart and trying to occupy some of my time with productive activities but I just don’t see the point in any of it and I’m really struggling with a lack of purpose. Tried bringing that up in my most recent spiritual care meetings but it didn’t seem to get heard.

********

Definitely had a very memorable highlight this week; my favorite artist was in the area (ish) and was going to be performing at a convention. He *never* comes to the West Coast, so I had made note of the event some time ago. I had forgotten to follow up on the dates of the convention or look into tickets or anything until Thursday…and as of Thursday afternoon I realized that his concert was *that night* and that I had no way to find out if there were even still tickets available; so I didn’t think it was worth it to make the two hour plus drive in the chance that we couldn’t even get in. I was so bummed out that I’d missed an opportunity to finally see him perform.

My husband is basically the greatest; he gave up his evening with no advance warning and drove us out there anyway. He has heard a song or two by this guy, but doesn’t really know his music so had no real interest in going other than to make me happy. We made it to the convention center (barely!); had no problem getting tickets and were able to get seats surprisingly close to the front.

So I got to see Andrew Peterson perform. It was so good. I especially enjoyed getting to hear him talk about some of the stories behind the songs that he played; it really gives them another layer of meaning.

And then at the end we were able to go through the book signing line and meet him. It’s one of those awkward “I have so many things I want to say but I have to try to condense it into a short couple sentences for the sake of everyone else in line; and chances are he’s heard this ten thousand times so I’m just another face saying the same things but I still want him to know his music has meant something to me.” So I managed something, he signed the book we purchased, husband snapped a photo of him signing with me on the other side of the table, and we headed back home.

 

after miscarriage · grief and loss · Infertility · iui · pregnancy loss · sermon takeaways · trying to conceive

The valley of “should be”

I can’t help but think about the fact that today I should be halfway through my pregnancy. We should already know our baby’s gender, we should be planning for baby showers and where to fit a crib in our apartment…I should be starting to show and…and…and…

I thought when my period came a few weeks ago that things clicked into place and that I was ready to be okay again. In some ways, I have been; I’ve at least been able to be productive and not zone out in front of the TV for hours on end (see previous post).

But every time I see a baby I want to cry. Every time I hear about another pregnancy it’s a gut punch. Every day of my cycle feels like it’s another day closer to be reminded of failure; because at this point I really don’t have a whole lot of confidence that we’ll be able to conceive completely naturally.

I’m just so tired of this being all consuming. But I honestly don’t know how to think about anything else.

*************

On a separate note, at least things are in process again with infertility treatments. It was super stressful for a couple weeks; I was beginning to be afraid that our new insurance wouldn’t be accepted anywhere (though technically I didn’t even know enough about our plan to get accurate information from any of the clinics I called).

But after a bunch of phone calls and (unnecessary) stress…I was able to switch our insurance ‘group’ to the one that is accepted at the clinic where our previous RE already works. I’m very hopeful that because she knows us she will just let us jump right in to another round of IUI with my upcoming cycle and not make us go through all the testing again; though if it’s a matter of getting insurance to cover things maybe she’ll still have to. I don’t know. I’m just grateful to be able to go back to her; it’s a small blessing in all of this.

***************

I’ll close with a couple reflections from one of my pastor’s recent sermons. He just finished going through Psalm 23; and the sermon on verse 4 (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”) had some especially helpful observations.

First was just the quote that he started with…an ancient proverb or something. “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.” Enough said about that.

He also pointed out the following observation, something I’d never noticed before. The first three verses of the psalm refer to the Lord as “He.” (he leads me, he restores…etc) After the valley…after the first part of verse 4, David refers to the Lord as “you.” (“You are with me, you prepare, you anoint…). Walking through the inevitable valleys of life deepen our relationship with our shepherd and make it personal. We’re not just sheep being herded around…we are children walking through life with a father who pursues us with goodness and mercy. (that was in today’s sermon; the word for follow in verse 6 actually can be translated as “pursue.”)

****************

And as I pondered a title for this post I realized that the whiny first part is it’s own type of valley…so I guess I need to actually take what I just shared to heart. Hopefully it encourages someone else but apparently I also needed to be reminded of it again.

after miscarriage · grief and loss · Infertility · journal entry · missed miscarriage · pregnancy loss

Because I can’t reply in real life…

The ongoing saga with my sister-in-law continues.

I love her, I really do. She’s been a blessing to me, a friend and a sister from the beginning. She’s rejoiced in our highs and grieved in our lows. She’s fun and sweet and caring.

But as we’ve navigated this fertility and pregnancy loss journey she’s had her share of moments that make me want to just tell her what I think. It’s just not worth losing the relationship or burning bridges with my husband’s family so common sense tells me to keep my mouth shut and my fingers still.

[As a brief refresher…we started our TTC journey somewhat similarly and within a few months of each other. Initial unexpected (but still wanted!) pregnancies, early loss (mine chemical, hers a little later but baby stopped developing around 5 weeks)…and then within 8 months she was pregnant again and is due with her “rainbow baby” at the end of May. We tried for 15 months, did an IUI cycle, and after seeing a heartbeat, our baby died just past 7 weeks.]

I realized last week or so that the reason her pregnancy has bothered me so much (and especially now) is just that it is a stark reminder of how unfair this is. I don’t understand why they get their rainbow, their reminder of God’s faithfulness and grace…and we tried for months longer than they had to and then lost another baby. It just hurts. And she tries to act like she understands but as I explored in a previous post…you can’t be sympathetic if you haven’t experienced the same thing. So her attempts at encouragement and comfort often just rub me the wrong way.

Today she sent me a long text telling me about how she was hanging up clothes in her daughter’s nursery, bawling while listening to a song about God’s faithfulness and remembering how hopeless she felt in the 8 months that they tried and how grateful she is to be doing something so simple as organizing baby things…and how she is completely confident that this will happen for us too.

I have multiple responses I want to send. None of which I will, so this blog post gets to be my venting space.

  • “Oh, you know? Just like you KNEW that everything was 100% fine with this pregnancy?”
  • “Yes, the hopelessness of trying for 8 months after a miscarriage and then having a successful rainbow pregnancy is the same as trying for 15 months and losing what should have been our rainbow baby. I’m so grateful you know exactly how I feel.”
  • “I’m glad God is faithful to you; but it’s really hard right now to see his faithfulness to us at this moment after infertility and recurrent losses. And thanks for reminding me of that *and* all the happy baby related things you get to do while I’m still actively grieving the loss of mine and the further postponement of getting to do all those things myself.”
  • “Oh please, tell me more about how blessed you are to be bawling in your baby’s nursery. I’m sure that will make me forget that I’m once again not pregnant.”

Yeah, I know. I’m sarcastic and bitter.

Loss and infertility will do that to you sometimes.

Looking forward to a day when these well-meaning comments don’t make me want to crawl into a hole and die.

family · Infertility

On family

I ordered a book a few weeks ago that finally arrived the other day and I’ve basically just been inhaling it; it’s got short chapters so it’s hard to not just go on to the next and the next even though I should probably let each one ruminate for a while. The downside of being a fast reader *shrug*.

Anyway, the book is “Empty Womb, Aching Heart,” and it has stories and reflections from multiple women (or couples) who have struggled with infertility. Once I finish my first read I’ll probably go back and take each chapter a bit slower and write down the takeaway/lesson/attitude adjustment technique in each one…future blog post, perhaps?

One of the chapters especially jumped out to me yesterday. The writer was reflecting on how hard it is to be childless in a church community that is centered around the “family,” family ministry/resources/events were all geared towards the typical parents/children structure.

She went on to share that she taught a Sunday school lesson on the 6th day of creation; and the children drew pictures of animals and then Adam and Eve on a large piece of butcher paper. She told them that this was the point at which God said it was “very good,” and then rested. One of the little girls pointed out that there weren’t any children in the drawing.

“No children, not yet…and still God called it very good. Not….’good-but-it-would-be-better-if…’ After he made man and woman, he proclaimed his work finished. It was complete. They were complete.” 

She comes to realize that a family is not formed once children arrive. The family of two is just as valuable, just as complete.

And she closes the chapter with her new response to those prying “when are you going to start a family” questions. Her answer is essentially this:

“We already have. We’re just waiting to see if God chooses to add to it or not.” (my edit)

-quotes and paraphrases taken from Empty Womb, Aching Heart (chapter 10); book compiled by Marlo Schalesky

how to · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

Resolved

Aunt Flo arrived today in all her unwelcome glory. I knew she was coming between the negative test at 12 dpo and a temp drop when I woke up. So I spent the morning between my hospice visits fighting back tears of disappointment and frustration and anger and longing and aching.

Then, somehow, it abated. Just like every cycle, hope begins to rebirth. I allow the grief to do it’s thing, then in his grace God reminds me that he is still faithful. I couldn’t even explain what did it this time. I didn’t even recognize it when it happened. Just, suddenly, I wasn’t overwhelmed by sadness.

I’ve (almost) decided that this upcoming cycle…our last one before we pursue assisted reproductive methods (IUI)…should be one without the pressure of tracking. I was initially so desperate to catch our fertile window, so hung up on knowing when I ovulated to know when I could test. I didn’t do well before with not tracking. But I think I can do it one more time. I think, for the health of my marriage and my own spiritual growth I need to let it all go and just be. We will do life, be intimate, enjoy each other…and if I haven’t started my period by February 1st, I’ll take a test. If I have, then we’ll proceed with IUI. Simple.

And to keep myself distracted, to productively fill the time, and to recognize what it can look like to enjoy my life in this child-free time…here are my “resolves” for the next 7 weeks. This blog space will be my accountability. I’ll try to check in at least once a week with updates on how well I’m doing. The list is long but some of the things could take as little as 5 minutes so it’s not really all that much. I’m even going to put the list on my refrigerator.

  • read my Bible: every day
  • read at least a chapter from a book: every day. (maybe I’ll resume my ‘alphabetical by author progression through my book collection. I’m somewhere in the D’s)
  • yoga or walk: at least every other day
  • something creative (drawing or other art, coloring, photography, scrapbooking, writing): every day
  • play the piano: at least every other day
  • clean something: every day. (will probably make a schedule for this)
  • intentional date night or memory-making activity with husband: at least once a week
  • do a jigsaw puzzle: at least once a week
  • list 5 things I’m thankful for: every day

Here’s to making this cycle the best one yet.