The Other Side of Infertility

Being on the other side of this infertility struggle (the good side) is something that seemed so far away for such a long time.  I wish I could say it’s all dream like and wonderful being on this side, but the truth is that the feelings, fear, anxiety, and worry associated with infertility haven’t gone away like I thought they would once I got on this side.  Although I have been on the infertility side longer then the pregnancy side, my gut instinct says this is something that isn’t going to go away anytime soon, even with a positive outcome. More truth is that infertility really changed me as a person and if I am honest with myself I know it’s something that I will never truly escape 100% because of how it has affected me. For me, infertility was full of trauma, depression, and loneliness. Although we are expecting and so over the moon happy about finally getting our desired outcome, I still can’t escape some infertility related thoughts and feelings.

The shift from being an infertility patient to a pregnant patient is hard.  I still get anxiety every single time I walk into a hospital.  When I have appointments for this pregnancy, I feel almost guilty walking in with my pregnant belly fully knowing there are infertility patients sitting there wishing so badly they were in my current shoes.  I can also pick out these women plain as day.  When my name is called, my heart skips a beat because so many times my name has been called to go back to a room to sit with a doctor/nurse only to be told bad news.  I can’t even begin to grasp that lately when my name has been called I am sitting in a room with a Dr/Nurse who has good news for me and I can leave feeling relieved with a smile on my face.  So many times I left feeling defeated, worried, and in tears.  It’s just so incredibly easy to distrust the good news, rather then relax and feel relief.

I thought once I was pregnant I would feel happy, relieved, and all the feelings experienced with infertility would be gone.  Instead of just feeling the joy to it’s fullest, I’m finding it so hard to let go and fully enjoy this experience because of how guarded I am.  When people ask me when I’m due, I find myself saying something like, “IF all goes well, in November.” I still stay so very cautiously optimistic about EVERYTHING.  When I was pregnant with E I was so excited to start preparing for her and probably at this point I already had a good start with getting prepared.  Taking a walk with my husband last night, we were talking about how we haven’t really done a thing yet to prepare for this baby and how we should probably get started.  In the back of my mind though, I feel like we need to wait for that next scan to make sure everything is alright.  I want to get fully excited about this, but it’s terrifying.   I think this is so because we put so much into having this baby-time, energy, love, money, etc that if something happened we really don’t have the means to try again anytime soon.

I also struggle with feelings of guilt.  I don’t feel guilty that I am finally pregnant in that it took me a long time to get to this point, but I do struggle with facing women I’ve met along the way who are still struggling.  I feel guilt when I complain about even the slightest think about pregnancy-being tired, being in pain, not having energy, etc.  I remind myself on these days that there were many days before that I told myself I’d kill to have those complaints.  I also find myself very cautious of just openly blurting out that I’m expecting during conversations or chiming in on a pregnancy conversation with strangers.  The few times I’ve been in this situation and have mentioned it I always feel the need to explain I went through IVF, so others are aware there was struggle involved as I just never know who could be judging me if I don’t explain that portion.

Then, there is the trauma of infertility.  This experience was life shattering.  I emotionally felt torn down and exhausted and I physically felt like my body was being invaded-privacy has no part in the infertility world.  I still feel like I have a lot to sort out emotionally on my own-it just really rocked my world.  The trauma of this all has made intimacy hard with my husband and I feel it will take a while to get back where we were because I just don’t enjoy being touched.  It’s hard because I feel like I have gained so much in this journey and am eternally grateful for all this struggle has taught me, yet at the same time I am so bitter about all that it’s robbed from me.  It’s affected not only me as a person, but it’s affected family and friendship relationships as well as my marriage.

Although I am supremely grateful to be healthy in my 2nd trimester, one of my biggest fears is that the feelings that my family still isn’t complete after this baby will creep in eventually, and I will want to try for a 3rd and final baby.  Could I ever go through this again? Yes, I could.  It’s amazing how strong you are when your only choice is to be strong BUT I don’t know that we could afford to do this again anytime soon.  It’s just so unfair and I really do not want to re-live this hell again in my lifetime. However, you can’t put a price tag on your baby either.  The pure fact that you can’t control these feelings of desire of wanting another baby is hard.  I can’t remember how many times I just told my husband how much easier it would be if I was one of those people who just didn’t want a big family-then it would be easy to just be done with one and we wouldn’t be in this mess.  However, your heart wants what it wants and I wasn’t about to give up.  I know what it’s like to live day in and day out with that feeling and it’s heartbreaking and no way to live.

On a positive note, I know my mixed emotions are natural after going through the circumstances that we went through.  It’s coming to terms with everything that is hard. Like everything, I’m a work in progress.  Although there are many days when those intense memories of how painful the process was creep in, I can also be so proud of how strong I truly am.  I can be proud of all that I’ve learned.  I can grateful that this struggle has increased my sensitivity and empathy to other individuals/couples going through it too. Although, survivors guilt creeps in I hope that my story will inspire others struggling and also give them a glimmer of hope.  I am grateful that it’s given me a voice for the infertility community and will continue to do what I can to advocate for this community of people.  I may wear scars, scars that a a constant reminder of my journey but I know that I can only look back for so long because my feet have to keep moving forward!

 

 

Spreading our Wings…

Today is E’s last day of 3K.  I’m filled with many emotions, from being sad that she is growing up so quickly, to being excited for her and all the new milestones she’s reached this year. Being a part of all the growth that has taken place in her life thus far and getting to be her Mama has been one of God’s greatest blessings in my life.  As sad as it is to see some of those milestones reach an end, it’s also very exciting being a part of each new one too. I can hardly believe how fast this school year went.  It truly seems like yesterday we were nervous about letting her go from under our wing and letting her embark on a new journey all on her own without us.  It’s a feeling I will never forget.

The end of the year today brings me back to that very first school day, it’s one I will never forget. The morning was filled with nerves and excitement not only from E, but from us too.  It was true that E was starting a new journey that day and that was nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time- but my husband and I were also starting a new journey that day. Her first day of school also happened to be our first appointment with Advanced Fertility of Chicago, IL and getting the chance to have a consultation with Dr. Sherbahn about second opinions about our Secondary Infertility case and to talk about our chances of success with IVF.

We took a million pictures of E that morning and hugged her longer and harder then we’ve ever hugged her before and covered her sweet face in kisses.  As I let go of my baby just a little bit more that that day, I remember feeling the strongest sense of sadness I’d ever felt because I knew that this may be the last time in my life I may ever get to experience this milestone with a child that was mine.  The tears were a flowing.  My husband was very calm and almost emotionless-but I know inside he was feeling the same as me, but was trying so hard to be strong for me.

We drove the 2.5 hours to Gurnee, IL after dropping off E at school and it seemed to be the longest drive of my life. Not only was I worried about leaving E and being 2.5 hours away, but I was worried about this appointment too.  Once we got there we signed in and sat in the waiting room.  Once our name was called back, my heart skipped a beat and I remember just taking a deep breath and thinking-“well, here we go again.”  I had some initial blood work done, peed in a cup, and also had a pelvic ultrasound.  After some minimal testing was done on me, we were able to go back and speak with Dr. Sherbahn.

So much information was given in such a short amount of time during our consult, it’s truly a blur to me now.  However, the worst of it was hearing that at that point in our journey, Dr. Sherbahn said we would only have about a 10% chance of conceiving on our own.  When I heard these words said, although I knew at this point things were not working, it was like my world shattered in two.  However, Dr. Sherbahn gave us much hope when he said that he had high hopes that IVF w/ICSI would give us our best chances in expanding our family and he had high hopes it would work for us-those words were like music to my ears.  I just remember feeling so much honesty coming from the doctor and he did not sugar coat anything, it was a good feeling to know his high success rates in his practice too.  However, when it boiled down to our decision on what to do in that moment it was honestly because of money.  We knew what we wanted to do, but being able to do it was another story.  I left feeling overwhelmed, shattered, and hopeful all at the same time. I knew we’d have some major thinking about this to do and I also knew that it would require a lot more patience in waiting.  Waiting…waiting…waiting.  That’s what we did for a few more months until pulling the trigger to go forth with IVF.

Fast forward even more months and here we sit 13 weeks and 3 days pregnant with our rainbow baby.  We got to experience some first time flutters last night and we couldn’t be more grateful.  We started the school year with so much uncertainty and we are ending it with so much joy.  We are so incredibly proud of E and all she’s accomplished this year and we are feeling so blessed to say our journey with Dr. Sherbahn and Advanced Fertility has led to our dreams coming true.  It’s truly amazing and I am overwhelmed with emotions today.  It’s scary to spread your wings…it’s even scarier as a parent to let your baby out from underneath your wing.  However, when you do….you and they soar into bigger and better things and wonderful and amazing things can happen.

 

 

Recovering from a busy weekend…

This weekend was jam packed with excitement and fun, which also meant we were go, go, go for practically all of it.  So, what was so exciting may you ask?  Well, on Friday I celebrated my 32nd birthday.  On Saturday, we had some very exciting news to share (I will get to that later) and it was the ending of my PIO shots (yes, I’ve got some explaining to do).  My husband also bought a ‘new to him’ truck.  On Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day.  Uffda!  I told you it was  busy!

Let’s start with Friday.  I’m not quite sure how I feel about being 32 as the years go by so fast and just start to blur together after a while BUT one thing is for sure, I am grateful to have seen it to another birthday.  I’ve wrote about it before how birthday’s are truly special and a day in our life that we should never take for granted.  With that being said, I’m embracing this new number in my life and looking forward to what the year ahead will bring for me.  It’s a blank page in my book of life and it will be so exciting to fill the pages! My husband surprised me in the morning by going to my favorite bakery and getting me my favorite donuts and a birthday cake (delicious)-it was a nice surprise! I didn’t do too much during the day to celebrate, but I did have an extra kiddo at my house and E who kept be very busy and constantly smiling and laughing.  I enjoyed a picnic lunch outside with them and when they napped I enjoyed some quiet, relaxing time outside.  God surely blessed me with beautiful weather on my birthday!  When, my extra kiddo went home my mother in law joined us to go out to dinner.  We came back to our house, visited more, had some birthday cake.  My mother in law went home, E went to bed and I ended my evening watching a movie with my hubby on the couch. I was also surprised by my husband and E when they gave me a nice shiny kitchen aide mixer as a gift-wow, this man knows the ways to my heart!  I had a very enjoyable birthday and I think 32 is off to a wonderful start!

Speaking of wonderful, I have some amazing news to share that I’ve been holding out on.  We are expecting baby #2 November 20, 2016!  Some of my followers may be in complete shock right now but this slide show that my husband and I made should clear some things up.  If you click the following link, it should take you there: https://youtu.be/sfWd0JNanew.

While going through IVF, I was not quite comfortable talking about our journey openly but I will surely have some posts in the near future regarding our experience more in detail and all that we went though now that I am feeling up to sharing more.  We couldn’t be more excited and overjoyed!  Since we’ve been on the other side of a pregnancy announcement before, we know how badly it can trigger someone who has been struggling to conceive, so this slide show is how we announced to our family and friends over the weekend!  Anyway I can continue to spread awareness and also give others hope I am all for!  I thought this was also the most respectful and tactful way to announce and stay true to my still struggling infertility sisters.  Saturday also ended my PIO shots.  I’ve been doing one of these daily since February 29th.  Although, I couldn’t be more thankful for this shot I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with it and on that note so glad to be done-and my butt is even more thankful to me done.  My rump is where my injections took place, alternating sides daily.  The needle was 1.5 inches long and not very pleasant.  I am happy to have crossed yet another milestone.

Also on Saturday, my husband bought a 2013 Ford F150 truck.  He’s been truck shopping for a while and we stumbled upon the one he bought at Broadway Automotive in Green Bay, WI.  Although, we were so close to paying off his old truck and NOT having a truck payment would have been nice there are other reasons as to why it was beneficial for us to buy now.  One of the biggest being his old truck needed a lot of work, and due to using our life savings on IVF we just couldn’t afford a major repair to his truck if something went wrong.  With the new truck comes a 2 year warrant so anything major that goes wrong will be covered and no out of pocket expenses.  He was luck to get his payments close to what he was already paying as well so it’s already in our budget to pay it we really won’t notice a difference.  It will also get better gas mileage then his older truck, which helps a ton too since he drives his truck a lot back and forth to work projects and what not.  Overall, we know it was the right decision.  There is something very nice about that new ‘car’ smell.  We will for sure enjoy it for a couple months until that smell wears off!

Moving on to Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day.  My morning started off with cuddles in bed with my little lady followed my lots of hugs and kisses.  She had made me a mothers day gift in her 3K class so she was very excited to give me that too.  It was this adorable flower made out of egg carton and pipe cleaner placed on a canvas to hang on the wall.  Honestly, these are the best types a gifts a mommy could ever receive-they are simply priceless.  E was so proud of her gift and I made sure to show her how much I loved it too.  We then went and visited my husband’s mom and grandma (his mom’s mom) and went out for a nice lunch together.  It was very special!  Then we headed over to his other grandmas for a short visit.  After that, we got home and I went grocery shopping.  Even on mother’s day, a mother never gets to rest!  I dislike grocery shopping, but someone had to do it.  E was napping and my husband was trying to read his trucks new owners manual…so I figured I’d just go!  Once that was done with, E was awake and outside and played with all the neighbor kids and we visited for a while with their parents.  It was a nice evening but by bedtime I was exhausted!

Before I move on from Mother’s Day I wanted to take the time to remember those who never got to meet their child, those who experienced the loss of a child, those who ache so badly to be a mother and those who helped someone else become a mother.  Mother’s Day can be a hard day for so many and we oftentimes forget that. Experiencing a few hard Mother’s Days myself in the past, I wanted to acknowledged that I had these thoughts yesterday and always will on this day.  It’s tough and some will never understand how tough it really is.

…and now it’s Monday.  The whirlwind of the weekend is behind me and I’m trying to slowly recover and switch gears.  However, my to do list is a mile long and my morning was a rough start due to a little lady who was having a major melt down.  I am sending her off to school here in about 20 minutes and then I am going to go enjoy a lovely belated birthday brunch with my sister and then hopefully get home and start tackling that never ending list of to-do’s.  May this week be kind to all of you.

Much love,

Nichole