Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thank You For Sharing Our Journey

I've decided to bring my blog about infertility to a close.

But first, I want to thank you to everyone who followed our journey, encouraged us on, and said all those prayers on our behalf. You will never know how much your support has meant to us.

There was a time when I felt completely alone. It honestly felt like we were being singled out, and were the only one's to have to walk this difficult lonely road.

Infertility is the most isolating condition around. It is a personal journey filled with heartbreak, hopelessness, and shattered dreams.

And we tend to walk this road alone. Because nobody, ever really understands unless they've been there, unless they've walked it. And even then, each journey is different, some longer and harder than others. And ultimately all end in different ways.

But we are not alone.

You have taught me that.

All of you who have come out of the woodwork, posted words of encouragement, blogged your own stories of heartbreak, and come together to support not only me, but each other, have helped me heal in ways I never thought I could. There is a whole community of women, men, and couples who suffer from infertility. And they come from all over the world.

This is a map of all the people who have visited my blog today.

And since I started this blog, I have had almost 15,000 unique visitors from:

- Every single state in the USA
- Every Province in Canada
- Jamaica
- England
- Scotland
- Ireland
- Italy
- France
- Turkey
- Ethiopia
- Kenya
- South Africa
- Saudi Arabia
- Iraq
- Thailand
- Mongolia
- Japan
- Indonesia
- Australia
- New Zealand

No. We are not alone.

And while my infertility journey is coming to an end, a whole new journey has begun for us. One that hopefully leads to two healthy, happy babies at the end of all this. But no matter how my story ends, please know that it is not the ending that matters. It is not what defines me or my journey with infertility...

It was that moment -- you know the one, the one where I was at my lowest of lows, the moment I was sure that life would not go on, the one where, dare I use one of my screenwriting terms -- it was my dark night of the soul. It was the moment, that I picked myself up, stared fear in the face, and went forward with strength, courage, and clarity. I knew what I wanted and I was going to fight for it one last time. It isn't the ending that matters, it's that moment. The moment where you realize who you are, what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it.

As a screenwriter, I can't help but liken my infertility struggle to great script. And I admit, I love a good Hollywood ending as much as the rest of you. I love it when the guy wins the race, the guy gets the girl, and everyone lives happily ever after.

But life isn't always like that.

And just like it didn't matter whether Rocky won or lost his last fight -- what mattered is that he went the distance.

You see, life torments our favorite movie characters, just as it torments us. But in the end, it is not the winning or losing that's important, it's how our favorite characters grow as people. It's about what they learn, who they become, and how they change. It's about looking inside yourself in your deepest darkest moments, and having the courage and strength to get up. The victory comes when our hero crosses the finish line, and win or lose, he comes to a place of peace and closure. Our hero doesn't always get what he wants, but he always gets what he needs. And it can come in the most unexpected forms. Our hero ultimately learns to accept the forces of life that he cannot control. And the victory finally comes when our hero looks inside himself, holds his head up with pride, and ultimately, finally, is able to smile.

And that is the best kind of ending there is.

That is the kinds of hero our classics are made of.

So my prayer for all of you, is that your story, win or lose, ends with your hands up in the air in victory. Because picking yourself off the ground, dusting yourself off, and going the distance is a victory in and of itself, and one that makes us all heros of our own stories.

And we are all heros. Strong, courageous, silent heros.

So today I declare myself an Infertility Survivor.

Because, yes, I survived it!

And that, in the end, is my greatest victory.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Graduation Day

CCRM called today with the news that I have officially graduated!

I might not get a diploma, but this graduation means more to me than anything. After years of fertility clinics, I am now being released to the care of an OBGYN! I can hardly believe the day has come. They said the heartbeats were looking great, a little slow, but that can be expected with twins, so they don't require another ultrasound before they release me. My hormone levels look great and CCRM has officially taken me off all my medication. The Zofran they gave me is lessening the morning sickness, although I'm still feeling fairly rough. But at least I am now able to eat, which is good news because these babies hadn't been getting any nutrition for a while, so it's nice to get something in my stomach for them. And me!

I doubt I'll be enjoying graduation cake tonight, but we'll certainly be celebrating.


Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Twins!!

After a whole week of barely being able to make it out of the bathroom, I wondered whether I would even be able to make my appointment today. But boy am I sure glad I did!

We couldn't believe it when we saw two sacs and the doctor measured two heartbeats! We stared at the screen in awe. Two little heartbeats flickering away. They measured 108 and 115 at 6w4d (6 weeks four days), both a little behind schedule, but both there none-the-less!

CCRM was closed for the day, so we will have to wait until tomorrow to talk to our nurse and find out what all the measurements mean and to ask about our next steps.

But in the meantime, we are just incredibly overjoyed with the news about having twins!!

And I might even get to enjoy the news tonight, as the doctor gave me a prescription to help with nausea that should be kicking in any minute now!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sick and Tired!

Isn't it ironic that you wait and wait and wait to be pregnant, and then you finally are, but you are so sick that you can barely enjoy it?

Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm happy to be feeling queasy all day long, because it eases my mind that this is actually working! And feeling tired gives me a great excuse to nap!

It’s less than a week to go before we go for our first ultrasound, and we are super excited, if not still a little nervous. We just want everything to be okay, to see a sac and hear a healthy strong heartbeat. I'm quite sure we are only having one, but the possibility of twins is getting us excited. The anticipation of the what we will see (or not see) on the ultrasound is both thrilling and terrifying. But it won't be long now! Either way, we will find out Monday.

On that note CCRM has started weaning me from some of my drugs, and also suggested that we find an OBGYN and schedule our first appointment. I was kind of thinking that we wouldn't be looking for OB's, until after the ultrasound, but she recommended starting now. And since we are completely clueless as to our options, we are getting started on some internet research and are thinking of visiting a few places this weekend to get a feel for things. It's all so new and exciting. We are trying not to get ahead of ourselves until the ultrasound, but it's becoming impossible at this point.

I just hope this all-day nausea eases up enough for us to enjoy the upcoming holiday food. Although I have a hunch I'll be spending most of Christmas in the bathroom (sorry moms and dads). But as long as that gets us closer to a baby, then who am I to complain.

Bring it on!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Infertility And The Holidays

I have to be honest, I've been dreading Christmas since July.

I was dreading the holiday cheer, the Christmas songs, the stores, the commercials, all the happy families celebrating the happiest holiday of the year. I was quite sure I wanted to crawl into a hole on December 1st and not come out until the New Year was over.

And now, here I am, still wrapping my head around the fact, that I can actually participate in the holiday this year. That I can actually ENJOY myself. And I'm so happy because I hated the thought of never enjoying Christmas again, which is what I was quite sure was going to happen. And now, here I am, so blessed to be here and looking forward to all the things I was dreading.

And it's not just Christmas. For people struggling with infertility, the whole year is just one holiday after another. The calendar year is something to be dreaded as you become more and more isolated and shut off from the world around you.

The year starts off easy enough...

New Years -- This is where we make all those resolutions, or in the case of an infertile, their hopes and dreams and goals for the year ahead. We tell ourselves that this is going to be our year! We are not going to face another new Year's without a child. We are going to do whatever it takes to reach our dreams this year. And we kiss, still crushed from the year prior, but with a renewed hope for the year to come. This is going to be our year -- it has to be.

Valentines Day -- Finally, a holiday that doesn't remind us of children! It's all about love. Only, we are pumped up on drugs, or so exhausted from treatments, that it's hard to enjoy. Not to mention, in the back of our minds, we know all those other couples, sitting around us, eating their dinner, have children they get to go home to. Valentine's cards to help them write out. Little hearts and chocolates to scatter around the house in anticipation of little excited faces.

March Break -- On the heels of Valentines Day comes March break. Children abound, as families pack up to enjoy a fun week together somewhere. But not you. No, you plough forward, head down, trying not to notice.

Easter -- Next comes Easter. The stores are filled with reminders of children. Everywhere you look is a reminder of what you are missing. Easter bunnies, Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts. Pretty spring children's dresses. Excited little faces and happy families are everywhere. You long to be part of an easter egg hunt of your own, but instead, you close your eyes and hope you just make it through.

Mothers Day -- As if Easter wasn't bad enough, Mother's Day is close behind. A slap in the face to infertiles everywhere. You are not a mother and you wonder if you ever will be. You do not get breakfast in bed, a hand drawn card, a hug from that sweet little child telling you they love you. It's a painful reminder of what you will never have, and what everyone around you gets so easily. It's almost too much to bear, as you watch others enjoy what you long for so badly.

Fathers Day -- Of course Father's Day is right behind. Happy children and their dads, out to brunch, playing golf, fishing, enjoying the day together. You think of your husband and what he is missing. You can't help picturing him as a father, knowing how good he would be. You imagine your own children taking his hand and hopping up on his lap, smiling up at him. Their dad. Their hero. And you can't help from thinking how robbed he is, when you see the pain on his face.

Summer Holidays -- One of the best times of year for family fun. Kids are out of school. Everywhere you look are happy families picnicking, going to the park, the beach. And you long to be one of them. The carefree days of summer are everywhere. Long weekends and camping trips. Innocent times and bonding and memories being created that will last a life time. Yet, you still cannot join in the fun.

Weddings -- Of course, what would the summer be without weddings. You watch, as other couples get married, knowing that soon, their dreams will come true, and they will be blessed with families before you. You think back to your wedding, how excited and hopeful you were for the future together. All the family plans you had, the big house, the fun family trips. And it's painful to watch it come true for everyone else but you.

Baby showers -- Invites to baby showers come fast and furious. You can't even bear to open the envelope. You shop for other peoples' children, holding back the lump in your throat, trying not to breathe, and maybe you will get through it.

Birthdays -- Next comes your birthday. But you have nothing to celebrate. It's just a painful reminder that you are another year older, another year has passed without a child. Your chances are decreasing every single day. And you can't bear to blow out your candle, yet again, and make the only wish you have been wishing. Because it still hasn't come true.

Anniversaries -- Your wedding anniversary is upon you, and it's time to celebrate your love. The one thing that keeps you going through all the pain. But unfortunately, it's also an anniversary where you both will mourn another year passing without a child. The family you haven't created.

Back to School -- Back to school has become a season these days. You look around at all the stores, all the little knapsacks, and school supplies. Your nieces and nephews are getting older. Friends children are growing up before your eyes. Life is moving forward without you. You can't help but feel like it's completely passing you by.

Halloween -- As the autumn leaves fall, families are huddled up carving pumpkins together, making candy apples, playing in the falling leaves. And Halloween rolls around quickly. Parents dress up little angels, princesses, and monsters in the cutest outfits you have ever seen. You dread the day as it grows darker, knowing that soon, happy little children will be knocking on your door, saying trick or treat. And you will barely be able to keep yourself from crying. You think about everything you are missing. You long to be taking your own children out from house to house. And you end the night, a puddle on the floor, sobbing your eyes out, wishing you could hide away forever.

Thanksgiving -- The season of family is officially upon you. Happy families get together to share turkey and rejoice in all that they have to be thankful for. Just the thought of another holiday where you still don't have your own family to share it with, tortures you beyond belief. You have a hard time thinking of anything to be thankful for, let alone, sharing the holiday with family and friends who have everything you want. Everyone has a family except for you, and the pain cuts so deep you don't think you will survive it.

Christmas -- The holiday season is upon you in no time. The pinnacle of holidays is finally here. Christmas is the motherload, the holiday of all holidays. The one you have been dreading all year. For it is the season of children and dreams and families and miracles. For everyone but you. Little stocking hanging from the fireplace, ornaments on the tree, hopes of Santa, snowmen on front lawns, Christmas parades, hot chocolate, cold little toes and noses and happy laughter fills the air. The stores bellow out Christmas music. Commercials celebrate families and children. Movies are filled with the magic of family. Christmas lights and Santa sleighs, and nativity scenes are everywhere. Christmas cards arrive in the mail, all those happy smiling family pictures and updates from friends and families. The magic of the season is everywhere, all around you, suffocating you, choking you to death. The pain has never been so great, so real, and so deep. You envy everyone you see. You can barely venture out your front door. It is the happiest season of all, a season you once loved, a season you wonder if you will ever love again. A season that now pulls you under with such grief that you are sure you will die. But you don't die. You survive. As you brace yourself for the upcoming New Year and the whole new calendar that comes with it.

But now, suddenly, my luck has changed.

And here I am. Free to once again to enjoy the holidays. Free once again to believe in miracles. Free to shop, watch movies, visit families, bake cookies, decorate the tree. I don't have to hide away trying to avoid everyone and anyone with children and families. I still can't believe I'm actually free to join the world of holiday fun. We have never felt so blessed. So thankful. So happy.

This is everything we have ever wanted, our miracle has finally come true. And we plan on enjoying every single second.

But my heart goes out to all of you who have not been so lucky this year, to those of you still struggling, and hiding, and not able to join in the fun with the rest of the world. I know all too well what a lonely and isolating and heartbreaking time of year this is. And I'm sorry for anyone who has to go through it. I will say a prayer that the New Year brings with it all your hopes and dreams. That your prayers will finally be answered. And that, next year, you will be celebrating the miracle of the holiday season too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

BFP -- What Finally Made the Difference?

Sorry for the lengthy post, but...

I wanted to share my thoughts, for those of you wondering about your own failed cycles, and searching for anything that might help.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to say for sure what actually made the difference this time, but I do have some opinions:

CCRM - First and foremost, I truly have the magic of CCRM and Dr. Schoolcraft to thank. We did a lot of research and CCRM clearly had the best stats, and even though it was expensive and included the added stress of travelling during a cycle, I can say with 100% certainly, that it was worth every single penny! Unfortunately, even with the best stats and the worlds leading IVF doctors, there are still many people who fail at CCRM. It is certainly not the magic bullet for everyone, and if the stats are 65% success rates, that still means, 35% of people are failing. But I strongly believe that putting ourselves in the care of cutting edge doctors and lab certainly made the difference for us. We would have most certainly failed our last cycle, had we stayed with our local clinic. And not because they aren't good, they are the best clinic in the Northwest and among the clinics with a 50% success rate. They are well respected and certainly many many people succeed with them. But I know that we would not have, and for us CCRM was the biggest factor of all in our BFP success. I would tell anyone who is faced with the sad reality of knowing that this is their final IVF cycle, to run, not walk, straight to CCRM. I would not be a success story without them.

THE LAB - What can I say about the amazing CCRM lab that hasn't already been said?! Their lab is cutting edge using leading edge equipment and techniques. They are capable of doing CGH, they are experts at ICSI, they can do assisted hatching on embryos as late in development as early blasts, they can remove fragmentation from embryos, they developed the culture to grow embryos to blasts, they vitrify embryos, the list goes on, and they are on the leading edge on any new technique out there. Before we went to CCRM none of our embryos ever made it to blast. Not one. But CCRM was the reason that we finally had a blast to transfer. Not only that, but they were able to mature our immature eggs in the lab and do day 2 ICSI on them to give us the best chances. I strongly believe that you can get a good protocol anywhere, and yes, there are some RE's who are better than others and really know their stuff, but with the right research, knowledge, and meds, it's possible to get the right protocol for you at your local clinic. But you are stuck with their lab, and no amount of research or knowledge on your part can change the capabilities they have. So if you have problems in the lab with your embryos like we did, there is nothing you can do to improve your chances once the eggs leave your body. At that point it is all up to the lab, so it's paramount that you have the best lab you can. The CCRM lab is one of the best around! John Stevens, our embryologist, is the person who we will credit the life of our future child! Without him, and the magic of the embryologists at the CCRM we would never have gotten a blast to transfer, nor a positive beta.

SPERM SELECTION - Since we were faced with MF, and a morphology of 1% ICSI was a given, and something we have always done in the past. But for us, the capabilities to sort and select sperm in the CCRM lab were really important to us. Unfortunately there is not much out there that addresses this problem. We did have a DNA chromosome test done on Dave's sperm, which I would recommend to anyone faced with MF. The best company for this is SCSA diagnostics and you will get your results in about 3 weeks. Once we determined that Dave's sperm were in fact chromosomally normal, just with very poor morphology, we knew that picking the best sperm of the bunch would be important. We ended up using a process called PICSI, that basically consists on using a special dish for the sperm. The best mature sperm will bind to a special hyaluron strip in the dish, thus weeding out the duds. Next they used high magnification to narrow it down even further. Under high mag they were able to see which sperm were fragmented and which were not, in order to select the one's the looked the absolute best. From here, they used ICSI to fertilize. The PICSI dish is still in research stages and is controversial, but I have to say, I strongly believe that selecting the best sperm we could allowed our embryos to grow better than ever before. And I think without this selection process, would have arrested before day 5, like they always did in the past.

PROTOCOL -- We ended up finding success with the antagonist protocol, after two failed cycles of long lupron protocol. But I don't believe the protocol was the difference, because the number of eggs vs. number of mature didn't really give us improvement. We ended up on a much higher dose of stims (double) than I usually take which made me really nervous, and I'm not sure if it had any impact on egg quality either way, but it could have. As it stood, we ended up with a much higher number of eggs retrieved, but a lower percentage of mature, thus almost evening out to what we were getting locally. But CCRM did use some new meds in my protocol that could have improved the quality of my eggs. They put everyone on dexamethasone during the entire cycle, a drug to suppress any male hormones. They also include a daily baby aspirin daily after retrieval in their protocols, and they include estrogen patches after transfer along with the normally prescribed progesterone support. I can't say for certain if any of those small added medications did the trick, but they could have certainly been a contributing factor. Another factor that really helped this time around was the amount of daily monitoring to keep my E2, P4, and LH in check. I would definetly recommend extra monitoring if your RE isn't doing daily checks, and to stay ontop of your own numbers and what they mean, so that you know when/if things need to be changed.

ASSISTED HATCHING - I don't know which one of our three embryos actually made it, but assisted hatching could have played a hand. We transferred one advanced blast that they could not do assisted hatching on because the cells were all touching the shell. We also transferred one early blast and one late morula, both with assisted hatching. I really wanted assisted hatching this time, because it helps the embryos get out of their shells if they are not strong enough to do it on their own, thus improving chances of implantation. Most clinics will not attempt assisted hatching on anything past a 3 day embryo for fear of damaging it. But once again the CCRM lab is able to do assisted hatching with great success rates, on an embryo as late in development as an early blast. And this could have made all the difference. We just don't know at this point. But it certainly didn't hurt!

KNOWLEDGE - I truly believe that gathering as much information as you can about how IVF works, different protocols, and different techniques used in the lab can really benefit your cycle. If you understand what your options are, and have talked to others and gotten as much information and advice as you can, you will be able to apply this knowledge to your cycle in order to get the best results possible. I strongly believe in second opinions, and not just one, but many consolations with other doctors. Find out what they think the problem is, then move on to another doctors. Gather the information. Do research. And above all, be sure to get your proper diagnosis. For so long the doctors said I was unexplained infertility. Ladies, do not buy this. Keep working on it, until you have a clear diagnosis. Unexplained simply means that they haven't dug deep enough to find the answer. When I finally went to CCRM, even though I had many many tests at my local clinic, they did so many more tests. At first I was wishing I didn't have to do them, but after we got our results back, we learned so much more about why this wasn't working. You need to have a clear diagnosis in order to address and fix the problem. For the longest time we thought our problem was just Male Factor. So don't stop at the first diagnosis you get. There could be other things wrong as well. You could be missing something important. And if this is your last try, do not move forward, until you have investigated everything. After knowing what we know now, we could have avoided years of treatment and money and heartache. So I've strongly come to believe that knowledge in a key factor to success. Possibly the single most important.

ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS - It is so tough to say what, if anything, made the difference to our BFP, but for this last cycle I added a few alternative treatments that we hadn't tried before. so it's possible that one of these things made a difference in our outcome. The first thing I did differently this time was that both DH and I took Royal Jelly every day to improve sperm and egg quality. We also both took a COQ10 supplement, switched to a prescription prenatal vitamin with extra folic acid and fish oil instead of an over the counter vitamin, and we ate an all organic diet of fertility foods. For a list, see one of my previous posts.
I also added Mayan Abdominal massage for 3 months, twice a week, up to the point to stimulation.
It's conceivable that any of those newly added factors could have helped make the difference this time. We also continued doing a number of alternative treatments that we did with our first two cycles, so these probably weren't the difference but they certainly could have helped. Those included acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, castor oil packs, Yoga for fertility and couples (DVD by Brenda Strong), Male Fertility Supplements (FertiliAid), no drinking, no caffeine, and IVF Hypnosis (CD by Maggie Howell), meditation (DVD by Deepak Chopra). It really is tough to say what combination of factors improved our odds, but we are sure that some of them played a hand in our outcome.

BEING AN ADVOCATE FOR OUR OWN CASE - I truly believe no matter what clinic you are at, that you simply must take a hands on approach and be an advocate for your own care. Since this was our last shot, I have to admit, I went a little overboard on the control, but had it failed, I also know that I would have ended up feeling like I did everything I possibly could. And I wouldn't have been left wondering about if it might have been a different outcome if I'd only done something differently. Although CORM is a top clinic, they are also a big clinic, and a business. And like with any business, you are the customer. It's your body. You are the one paying the money. You are the one with everything to win or lose. So it's up to you, to take your cycle into your own hands. There were many times during the process where I had questions, or didn't feel something was going right, or had suggestions, or wanted to ask about something I'd heard, or wanted to remind them of something important about my case -- so I made sure to do just that. I emailed my nurse daily, I put what I thought was important in writing. I reminded Dr. Schoolcraft about the particulars of our past problems, I made notes for our embryologist about our past failures, I called to schedule meetings along the way to discuss our progress and just to check in. I'm sure some of the things were annoying and overboard, however, there were many times that my ideas or questions or concerns actually changed the minds of Dr. Schoolcraft and he made an important adjustment to my protocol because of it. Staying on top of my own case with the embryologist also allowed me the opportunity have 5 more eggs fertilized on day 2, thus greatly improving our odds. If I was to make one suggestion to anyone struggling with infertility, it's to do your own research, talk to as many women as you can who have gone through it and failed, find out the latest advancements with protocols and medicine, find out the latest advancements on what the labs can do, become your own expert, and never ever feel like you can't ask a question or give your opinion. Doctors are busy busy people. Things fall through the cracks, even at the best clinics. Errors get made every single day. Oversights are very common. So don't sit back and rely on your doctors to get everything right. You have more than anyone invested in this cycle. So I truly believe you have to be your own advocate. It made all the difference for our cycle.

LUCK -- Unfortunately, sometimes it just comes down to luck. And while the other factors are certainly more important and more influential than luck, it's hard to deny that it does play a big part in this whole ugly game. Why did I succeed while others failed? I'm well aware that even though we did everything that we possibly could have done to ensure a successful outcome, that I could have very easily failed once again. Our cycle could have gone either way. It really honestly could have. But this time, we got lucky. I guess there are a few different ways to look at luck. I wouldn't have gotten lucky if I didn't put myself in a position to succeed. If I didn't do the work, do the research, travel all the way to CCRM, advocate for my own case, and spend all the money on another cycle, I wouldn't have been in a position to get lucky. I wouldn’t have gotten lucky if I hadn't of played the game. But sometimes you can play and play and play and still not win. Sometimes the cards just aren't in your favor and you can spend your whole life trying, only to wind up right back in the same spot. We knew this going in, and we were prepared to walk away if this cycle failed. We were prepared to throw in our cards and leave the table forever. But magically, somehow, we got lucky. Luck is one of those things that isn't fair, and I hate to think that it even plays a part. But it does. For so many years luck was not on our side, but we went ahead anyway. We forged on, and rolled the dice one last time. And as they say in Vegas... sometimes you just get lucky.

So good luck, good luck, good luck!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Beta #3 -- Thank You God!

After 3 days of spotting and cramping and worrying that this might all go away, I went in for another bloodtest this morning, and my beta came back at 3805!!!

I'm 16pd5dt today, and according to my numbers, my beta needed to be at least 2300 today. Needless to say my beta is nice and strong!

I can't tell you how relieved I am. I was shaking so hard when the phone rang I thought I might not even be able to answer it. But after the nurse assured me that everything looked great, I felt overjoyed with relief. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed that this is all really happening. So far so good!

They also checked my E2 and P4 today. My E2 was 1232 (they like to see it over 300) and my P2 was 30.7 (they like to see it over 6). So based on the fact that my levels are so high they are going to start weening me off some of my medication starting Saturday. I will go down from 2 vivelle patches (estrogen) every 2 days, to just one patch every other day. I will also go down from 3 endometrium (progesterone) a day, to just 2 a day. And then have my levels re-checked again on Monday.

I can hardly believe it! I suddenly feeling like doing a happy dance!

I know that nothing is ever certain and all this could still go away, but today everything is okay, and dammit, I'm going to let myself start enjoying this!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crossing Over

When do you officially cross over from infertility to fertility?

When is is safe to believe that you have beat this heartbreaking condition? When is it safe to allow yourself to relax? To be happy? To enjoy it?

Is it when you get your BFP? When your second beta doubles? Is it when you see the sac and hear the heart beat? Is it when you get into the safe zone of the second trimester? When you are showing with a big belly? When you reach the third trimester? When you reach the date where if you had to deliver today, the baby could probably make it in intensive care? When you go into labor? Or not until you are actually holding a healthy baby in your arms?

And how do you know when you have actually crossed over? When do you let the good news sink it? When do you start baby shopping? When do you start picking out baby names? When do you stop avoiding happy families and other people's kids? When do you stop shutting yourself off from the rest of the world? When do you give away your fertility medication? When do you stop planning and researching everything that is infertilty?

When and how do you ever cross over, from living a life centered around infertility, and how do you integrate yourself back into life, back to the family and friends you have shut yourself off from in order to protect yourself?

Maybe, it's just simply, one day at a time.

Or maybe you have to throw caution to the wind, jump in with both feet, and choose to leave your fear behind.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Caught Between Two Worlds

Ever since we got the call to tell us of our positive beta, I have been feeling excited, thankful, blessed, relieved, scared, guilty, sad, confused, disbelief, and stunned.

I feel as though I have been stuck, in a hole, for so long, and I have finally gotten dislodged. I feel like I am finally 'unstuck', finally free, finally able to see the sun, feel the fresh air on my face -- but yet, I can't help but feel paralyzed.

Most people, who don't struggle with infertility, leave it three months to starting telling people they are pregnant. But people who struggle with infertility often feel like they should wait longer, until they are sure it's real, until they are sure that it all won't be snatched out from under them.

But because I have written a blog, and been open and honest about my struggles, everyone I love now knows the good news. It's strange, all these congratulations, these happy faces telling me that I am going to be a mom, family and friends supporting me, reaching out to tell me how happy they are for me. And you think, after so long, I'd be thrilled to have the congratulations pouring in.

But the truth is, I almost feel sick to my stomach when I hear it. I feel sidelined, stunned, and so much pressure. I feel like all these acknowledgments and congratulations are somehow going to jinx it. That it's all going to be taken away from me at any moment, and I'm going to wake up, having to face the many sorry's and looks of pity that will surely come my way. And that I will be stuck back in hell, never to get out again.

It's very strange, these feelings that I'm having. One one hand, I've never felt so lucky, so blessed, and so alive. I'm excited. I want to start shopping. I want to make long overdue plans. I'm barely able to contain my happiness and joy. But on the other hand, I'm feeling lost, feeling sad, feeling guilty, feeling scared. Infertility has been my identity for so long now. I have spent every waking minute of every day thinking about it, planning for my next cycle, researching it, breathing it -- that I almost don't know who I am without it. I have been shut down for so long, I almost don't know how to let the joy in. And I feel bad and guilty because I'm leaving others behind, who deserve this just as much as me. I feel guilty that my prayers were answered and thier prayers have been denied. I feel bad that I got lucky, and so many others do not. And I'm afraid to leave my nest, my world, my safe-haven. I'm afraid to let myself really believe and feel happy and let it all in.

I've heard stories about prisoners, who finally get out of jail after serving their time. They are finally free, and released back into the world. And they just stand there, paralyzed, scared, unsure where to go, or what do to next. Some of them almost want to go back in, because they just don't know how to be free anymore. They miss the only world they know. They are stunned, unable to really celebrate the freedom they have been given. So they just kind of stand there...

I think in a way, this is what's happening to me. I'm paralyzed, unsure what to feel, what to think, and what to do now that I'm free. And I'm continually looking over my shoulder, waiting for the cops to come arrest me and tell me that it was all a mistake. That I'm not free after all.

Right now I'm stuck between two worlds:
Thankful for the blessings and dreams that I've been given.
But afraid to move forward and let go.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winding Down My Blog...

While it's true, I still have a few more big hurdles to cross before I can safely utter the words "I'm Pregnant", I have come farther than I ever have before. I have crossed a line from infertile to fertile. I honestly didn't even know that that was possible. Yet here I am, still stunned, to have crashed through the brick wall and be standing on the other side.

This week I go for another HCG test and also to check my hormone levels, and then my ultra sound is scheduled for Dec. 15th. This is the all important appointment, when we will either see a sac and hear a heartbeat or we won't. I can't say that I'm not worried this won't be all taken away from me. I can't say I'm not worried that it won't all disappear and we'll be left, once again, with nothing. Standing in the land of infertility once again, wondering if it was all just a dream.

The nurse said we should stay cautiously optimistic, that while the bleeding is slightly worrisome, that we won't know much more until that appointment, so to just stay on all my medication and take it easy until that point. But after that point, if all is well, we will be released from CCRM to an OBGYN. And at that point, if we are lucky enough to make it that far, I have decided to bring my blog to a close.

I know that it's still not a sure thing at that point, and I know we still need to make it through the first trimester in order to get into the safe zone. But I've thought a lot about it, and once I see a sac and hear a heart beat, I can no longer call myself infertile.

Imagine that.

After all these years, I never thought I would see this day come, but hopefully it will. Hopefull I will cross over to the other side, into a new phase in my life. Hopefully I will actually be holding my baby in my arms nine months from now. Hopefully, this is not just a dream, and I will never wake up, and I will be able to say that I kicked infertility's ass. That I am an infertility survivor. That I actually, finally, did it.

But I feel strongly that my blog is about infertility. Not pregnancy. So I have decided not to continue to document my pregnancy journey. This is not what this blog is about. It's about the life and feelings of someone who is struggling with the heartbreak of infertility. And hopefully, this will not be me, ever again. I'm aware that it might be, and that I could end up, dreams crushed, right back in infertility-land once again. But until that day comes, I can't bear to share my blessings and good news with a group of women who are in pain on a daily basis. So, after the next couple of weeks, if all goes well, I will wind down my blog.

Not because I am abandoning you. No. I will still be here to encourage you on. And I will never forget what it feels like to be infertile. It has changed my life forever. It has changed me as a person, taken so much from me, and I still feel the pain so deep that I don't truly know if I will ever forget what it feels like.

So it's with mixed feelings, that in a couple weeks, after I know this is real, and after I get out everything else I feel I still need to say (and I still do have many things that I need to say) -- I will bring this blog to a close.

I will let it stand for what it is. A blog about infertility. The hardest, most devastating, and helpless journey that anyone will ever face.