December 28, 2012

My Infertility Journey: The End of the Road

Well, my friends. After picking off all of my nail polish (nervous habit), I have the results of my preliminary ultrasound.

It was not good news.

My remaining ovary has a blood filled cyst. Basically, instead of my follicle releasing an egg, mine fills with blood. It was the same thing that happened to my other ovary and we didn't find the issue until it ruptured and I became very ill. What does this mean for my fertility? It means it is gone. Game over. My OB wants to do another ultrasound, pre-ovulation, to see exactly what is going on, but that is just to determine what our next steps are. Most likely, it will mean a hysterectomy as we have really covered all the other bases and I don't not want to take BCP's. I'm about to turn 37 in 5 short months so really, there isn't much left fertility-wise to try and preserve not to mention, if you take my remaining ovary, is there any reason to preserve anything else? A hysterectomy is pretty much a done deal.

To say I am crushed about this diagnosis is an understatement.

However, I kept my composure with my doctor. She complimented me on the vast change in my weight, said I looked gorgeous, and promised me I have so much to look forward to including raising the beautiful boy I so miraculously was able to have four years ago. I thanked her and quickly ran to my car where I sobbed. Once I collected myself, I called my husband to give him the news. He wasn't entirely surprised; however, I don't think he was as much invested as I was in having another baby. He was worried about me and my health and the health of my potential unborn child. There were so many risks and that scared him, so for him, this might actually be a relief with the exception of my impending surgery. I love him so desperately for wanting to take care of me.

This diagnosis doesn't exactly come as a shock. I knew there was a ghost of a chance with this being the most likely outcome. At least I have closure. The 2 1/2 years I spent trying to conceive Jackson were the worst. I had all the tests done and they could not find anything wrong with either me or my husband. Unexplained infertility is awful because there is no closure, no answers. I would much rather have this answer and not have to wait around with any false hope. While the answer sucks, at least I know the truth.

Top off my day with my kiddo having a double ear infection and not wanting anything to do with taking his medicine (I kid you not... we tried every trick in the book to no avail), him getting really pissed off at me,  telling me he hates me and I had a break down. I sobbed through Dora. I sobbed when he finally gave me a hug goodnight and said, "I love you too Mommy." I didn't get it together until I read an email from one of my dearest friends and finally, a smile emerged from my broken, tear-stained face. How grateful am I to be surrounded by people who never fail to pick me up when I am down!

But, you know me. Nothing can keep me down for long. So, I have dusted the sad away. We have the closure we need to be able to move forward with our lives. No looking back. No "what ifs". No regrets. Our family is complete and we are at peace.


December 25, 2012

Christmas Bliss

I was woken up yesterday by the pitter patter of little feet and an excited little voice, "Hey guys, my bunny is awake. It's time to get up! It's Christmas!" It's hard not to get caught up in his excitement. Tired, I stumbled downstairs to get some breakfast ready for the kid and feed the dog.

We had planned on having our own family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning, before the festivities with my parents in the afternoon. Just us. Our little team. As we sat down to open our gifts for each other, I opened the blinds and as if it was ordered up for me, it was snowing the most perfect, light amazing snowfall. With every present my son opened, they were all (even his new bed sheets) welcomed with, "This is awesome!" and "WOW!" After all the presents were opened, my husband and I exchanged a hug, kiss and Merry Christmas and as I turned, Jack ran up to hug me, jumping up into a full arms and legs bear hug. He kissed me on the cheek, looked me in the eyes and said, "Merry Christmas, Mommy."

When you are infertile, it is moments like those that you can only dream about. Moments like those that make every ounce of struggle and fight to bring them into this world worth everything.

Overall, I have had a very enlightening holiday season. I discovered things about myself that have really helped to bring everything full circle. I didn't give myself enough credit for my weight loss. I took a lot of things for granted. I was so inside myself that I didn't realize how many people I was pushing away- including my husband. This clarity? It has utterly changed my life. I am so overflowing with love and happiness that I wish I could bottle it up and gift it to others.

My Christmas was about as close to perfect as it could get. A kid whose child-like wonder is contagious. Seeing him perform in his first Christmas program a week ago was a moment I do not ever want to forget. A moment I waited and wanted ever since I knew I wanted to be a mom.



Singing with my best friend, regardless of my lingering pneumonia and tempo mis-cue on this song, still so much fun. So grateful to her for giving me the opportunity to do one of the things I love the most.

If there is one thing that has become the most clear to me over the last month, it is that being happy, positive and enjoying life is much more fun. Life is entirely way too short to spend time being unhappy or trying to solve things that are beyond our control.

I am beyond grateful for everything that I have. The life that I live. The incredible people I am surrounded by. The special people who inspire me every single day. They are always in my thoughts and hold the most important pieces of my heart.

I cannot think of any better song to sum up how filled with joy I am this Christmas- Unspeakable Joy
 My cup runneth over.

December 19, 2012

My Infertility Journey: Keeping the Faith

Before I begin this post, I want to explain why I am sharing this extremely personal experience with the entire universe. I feel like infertility is a taboo subject. Most women find it too personal and too painful to talk about. I feel that way too in many ways, but I also want other women who may be going through the same thing to know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We don't have to suffer in silence. We have each other.

I went in for my annual appointment with my OB. For most women this is a routine annoyance in their day. The appointment that every woman hates. Go ahead, ladies. Tell me you actually ENJOY this appointment!

This appointment was far from routine for me. I knew I was going to ask her about having another baby. I knew the answer may not be what I want to hear. I was on edge. My blood pressure was through the roof. I was nervous.

So I got around to telling my doc that we really want to have a second baby and I literally LOL'd when she said, "So what do you want to do, wing it?" Ummmm... Let's see. It took 2.5 years to conceive Jackson. We have been trying on and off for FOUR YEARS for this one. I think I've been winging it long enough. Not to mention, this woman did surgery on me. Took my tube. Took my ovary. I'm thirty freaking six years old. There will be no winging it for me. She kind of apologized and said she in no way sees me as 36 with limited years of fertility left (if any). Which I guess is a compliment? Thanks for not calling me an old hag? I'll take it.

I will spare you the details of the exam, but I will tell you, the results were not entirely good. My remaining ovary is swollen. I have tenderness. What does that mean? It means the endo is winning. So what happens next? My OB will do the baseline studies to check and see if I have a viable ovary. I have an ultrasound scheduled for next week to make sure that my remaining ovary does not have a growing endometrioma (ovarian cyst). If I do? It's game over. My ovary will likely need to be removed and I will need to proceed with a full hysterectomy.

If everything looks okay, then we will move to the next phase which consists of a follicle study which is basically a series of ultrasounds to see if my ovary is functioning correctly leading up to ovulation. If all looks good, we will schedule a lap surgery to remove any endo and I will then be referred to a fertility specialist to proceed with IVF.

If it seems like a lot to go through, you're right. It is. Then why? In a promise to myself, I want to live my life without regret. I know if I don't take the steps to try and complete our family, I will always wonder, what if?  I have to try.

Even if I end up without a baby, I will know in my heart I did everything I could. Plus, I will feel good about taking control of my own health. Pushing my doctors to use their knowledge to find a solution. Not settling for the answer "You'll just have to live with it." That isn't good enough for me.

So until I get a more definitive answer, I will continue to stay positive and keep the faith.

December 18, 2012

A Reflection: Choosing Joy in the Midst of Tragedy

On Friday, as I was in the midst of a busy day, I took a break in the afternoon to check my personal email, Facebook and Twitter. The usual breaktime fodder. I noticed pictures of candles and prayers consuming my Facebook feed and then saw the headlines from Connecticut that brought me to my knees. A shooting in an elementary school? How? Why? WHY?

Tears sprung to my eyes and my heart felt heavy. I felt sick.

As a mother, I could not even begin to comprehend such unspeakable tragedy. I could not find words as there were none that would suffice.

As I looked within my social media outlets to find more information, I was troubled by what I saw. Troubled that it has to turn into politics. Troubled that anyone for one second had to turn it into a platform other than what should just be about prayers for the families, peace and love. While there is a time to try to find some understanding and a way to stop something so incomprehensible from happening again, Friday was not that day.

I also saw a Tweet that said: "Hugging our children won't change anything."

Really?

Perhaps by teaching love and peace to my little boy, he will turn around and teach it to others. It may not make a difference today or tomorrow, but maybe, just maybe, sometime down the road he will remember that his mama taught him how to love and bring peace to others.

On Friday, my office closed early for the day and instead of rushing off to do errands, I drove immediately to my son's school to pick him up. I just wanted to see him. Hug him. Be with him. He was so excited that I came to get him early- he was still on the playground for recess. He came running up to me and asked, "Mommy, why did you come and get me so early today?" The only response I could give my 4 year old was, "I love you and missed you all day. Let's go home. Pizza tonight?" To which he responded in all his innocence, "Okay, mommy. I love pizza party!" That was all he needed to know.

We got home. I made pizza. I sobbed over what I was seeing and hearing, my son all the while oblivious to the horror that took place 1,200 miles away. We then turned the TV off altogether and just spent time with each other. That night, while putting my son to bed, instead of trying to rush him to sleep I stayed with him just a little longer. He fell asleep and I stayed in his room, listening to the sound of his tiny, sweet snores thanking God for the miracle that he is and and the pure joy he brings to my life.

My husband came up to look for me in Jack's room thinking I might have fallen asleep, asking me what I was doing. I said "No, I didn't fall asleep. Everything is fine. Tonight, I just wanted to be with him."

 It doesn't feel fair that these parents don't have their babies anymore. It doesn't feel fair that their holiday will be filled with so much sadness. My heart aches for them as I cannot even fathom what they are going through. These babies... just a year or two older than mine. Gone.

I have struggled to write this post. It has actually taken days to find the precise way to put my thoughts into words. However, I don't think there is any way to make sense of it. We can only learn from it. Hug our kids closer. Teach them and those around us to live with love, peace and forgiveness in our hearts instead of anger and hostility. Recognize and reach out to those who are crying out for help. Take a moment each and every day to thank God for the tiniest of blessings that touch our lives: friends, family, jobs, a roof over my head, food to eat. Live life without fear or regret. Never take a single moment for granted.

While I am sad and grieving in my heart for these children, teachers and families- I am also choosing to move forward. I'm choosing joy and will do what I can to spread it to everyone around me.

From my family to yours, we wish you a holiday season filled with only peace and love in your hearts.




December 14, 2012

Choosing IVF

I think Jackson would prefer a playmate that
actually interacts with him.
I have been compiling in my head all of the many reasons why I want Jackson to have a sibling. Compiling the reasons why I would be crazy enough to want another baby. In my head, the pros outweigh the cons. Most women are able to say, "I want another baby!" and WHAM they are pregnant. It doesn't work that way for me. I am missing half the plumbing not to mention, I suffer from a debilitating disease that has caused years of pain and infertility. My only hope to complete my family and fulfill my dreams is to go through IVF for baby #2.

There are however a lot of reasons not to do it and these are my rebuttals.

Let's start with the whole health thing. In my head, the pros outweigh the cons by a mile. You know... no biggie. If I try to have another baby I'll either miscarry or destroy my womanhood forever (which was bound to happen whether I tried to have another baby or not). So from a health perspective alone (let's not discuss the mental anguish that goes with having a miscarriage), I may as well give this another go, yes? One of the biggest factors I didn't attempt IVF for baby #1 is because of my weight. BMI supposedly plays a big factor in the IVF process. I believe it is recommended to have a BMI under 30 to increase success. Regardless of that BMI number (which I think is kind of a load of crap anyway), I am 1,000 times healthier than I was when I was TTC the first time around and now have a healthy BMI of 25 to boot. I have to believe that will make a difference.

Finances. IVF is fucking expensive yo. I sat down and thought about my next new car which I am due for in a couple years. Now, if I can afford a Lexus, I can afford to make a baby. Period. No doubt, it is painful to think about the expense of getting pregnant when others are so easily able to get knocked up at no cost at all. The truth is, the cost is an excuse. I do have some funds available through insurance. The majority of IVF is not covered, but I may be able to use it for some tests and drugs. Beyond that, there is always financing available. I simply cannot use money as an excuse not to try this.

Sibling rivalry. What if Jack and his new brother/sister end up hating each other? I hope that is not the case, but I am willing to take the chance that it will work out for the best. Jack has expressed his interest more than once about his desire for a brother or sister and his apparent confusion as to why his friends have one and he doesn't. It breaks my heart. I honestly believe that he will be a great big brother and great helper for his mom and dad. I have gotten "the grass isn't always greener on the other side" argument about keeping Jack an only child; however, despite the years of aggression my sister and I had for each other growing up, I wouldn't have traded it for anything as we are close now as adults. I don't want the fear of rivalry to dictate this choice.

Fertility Drugs. IVF requires a number of drugs to be taken, injected or whatever other means they intend to make eggs and babies. My history with fertility drugs is not a positive one. As is the case with most prescription medication, I am highly sensitive to them. If they list a side effect, I will likely experience it. There is also the weight gain that comes with the drugs. If it doesn't work out, I'm left with an extra very unwanted 10-20 pounds and no baby. After my ridiculous amount of hard work over the last 2 years to lose weight, this does not excite me. If it DOES work out... I'll be having a BABY and that will include some extra pounds anyway (although... this time around, I will hopefully have the willpower to pass up on my cravings for Burger King burgers). It's worth a little bit of weight gain and a little bit of crazy to get my 2nd baby in my arms.

I recently got the chance to chat with an adult who was born from IVF back in the 80's. He discovered me and my blog via Twitter and wanted to share his story with me. He provided me with a great deal of inspiration to add to my many reasons not to give up. He said, knowing what his mom had to go through to bring him into the world gives him purpose. I love that and heck if I don't want to meet this guy's mama- she sounds awesome. But it is so true- women who go through treatment or adoption to have a baby go to the ends of the earth to bring their babies into their hearts and into this world. It leaves little room for doubt- these babies are MEANT to be here.

With all of this said, it is not an easy decision. It will affect my mind, my body and my family. I may not get the answer I want to hear. I may be wheeled in a week later to have a full hysterectomy. Regardless, what I need the most in my infertility chapter is true closure. Not a list of stats. A simple yes or no will do.

December 12, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: Winter Wonderland & Holiday Blessings

Minnesota finally received its biggest snowfall since something like February 2011. I was getting worried, I mean, snow and freezing cold- it's what we're known for in this place! I may be a freak, but I totally love it. I am a true, Minnesota girl!

Even more importantly, my KID loves it!

Snow & Snuggles? All is right with the world. 

Pretty sure he's happiest about the snow. 

Teaching him important life skills necessary to living in Minnesota.

I'm thinking... "I need snowpants too"

It isn't a snowstorm until you make a snow angel! 
I love this kid! 
I find it easy this time of year to get stressed out and distracted from the things that truly matter. My son reminds me to take a step back and look at things through his eyes. Remembering that the holiday season isn't all about buying the right presents or serving the right food but about love and togetherness. Playing in the snow. Enjoying how beautiful life truly is.

For the first time in years, I am at peace this holiday season. I haven't been stressing out over the fact that I haven't bought many presents or even that I have no idea what to get anyone. Nobody is fighting about where to go or on what day. I just feel... happy. Content. Blessed. I am in such a good place in my life right now. I am thankful for my beautiful family and friends- without them, I would be nothing. Thankful for a new job and colleagues who gave me an opportunity to succeed, continue to challenge me and love actually showing up every day. Thankful for an online community whom I look to for guidance and support as a professional, mom and of course entertain me and give me a laugh when I need it most. Thankful for new, special friends who came into my life this year that have surprised and inspired me in more ways than I can count.

As you get bogged down by the insanity of the holiday season, pissed off at the shitty traffic that came with a 12 foot snow dump and frustrated with a never-ending sinus infection try to remember and be thankful for the things both big and little that matter the most in life. Love. Peace. Happiness. A White Christmas!


December 07, 2012

Fabulous Friday: Recognizing Your Beauty

You all know that I lost a shit ton of weight over the last year. Yes, I feel great. Yes, I know I look different. I mean, I've seen the photographic proof. I've seen the numbers both with weight and the inches. Somehow it never seems to be enough. But do I ACTUALLY believe I am beautiful? Will I ever feel awesome about myself? Will the former fat girl in me ever leave me alone? I actually found some clarity recently, but I still think it begs the question:

What does it take to make you truly feel awesome about your self?

Does someone need to tell you?

Your spouse?
Your family?
Your child?
A stranger?

Does something need to happen? 

Fitting into and shopping for smaller sizes?
Being comfortable on an airplane?
Wearing a bikini with confidence (how the hell do you do that)?
Running 3 miles without stopping?

Did losing weight make me beautiful or is that what I thought it took to be beautiful? I lost all the weight... WHY DON'T I FEEL BEAUTIFUL??

I'm not certain what the answers are for you; however, it took a whole lot of the above for me to finally get there. Why did it take so much? Is it so hard just to believe that I am worthy of feeling this way?

Frankly, yes it is hard to believe. When you have struggled your whole life with weight, it is hard to even fathom that you could actually be in the body you always imagined having. I could look in the mirror or take a thousand pictures of the new me, but it still isn't enough. Yes, my spouse has told me I look great (but he is SUPPOSED to think I'm beautiful no matter what, right?). Yes, my family has told me (same rule for them that applies to the spouse). I love when my 4 year old tells me I'm pretty, but would he tell me that anyway? It's kind of dumb when you think about it, but when you get attention from strangers...  That is kind of the ultimate validation. A low whistle when you walk by. Being hit on at the bar. There is something awesome about finally reaching a pinnacle where a total stranger finds you attractive enough to make a comment, in which case I blush furiously, shake my head and flash my wedding ring reminding them that someone got there first. The person who always loved me no matter what size I was.

But alas... there is more. Other things needed to happen. Shopping for smaller sizes- when the sales lady asks if you need another size and you say, "Yes, can I try that in a 6 (holy shit)?" Or you come out of a dressing room and another person says, "That dress looks amazing on you. Definitely buy it." When I got on an airplane in August and I felt comfortable in my seat and at Disney where I never felt too big for the rides (too short... well, that is another issue). I shopped for bikinis last summer and actually didn't hate it (there is proof... but I am much to shy to share it here). Being able to run a 5K without blinking. Running a 5K in 33 minutes. Wha?? The old fat girl I used to be couldn't do that. Signing up for a 7K. Considering a 10K. The old me wouldn't have been able to fathom running either of these distances. The old me wouldn't have been running at all!

Holy crap. That's a lot of work to feel awesome about myself.

All of this is finally a reality for me. I finally feel beautiful and awesome, but not because I lost weight. No. It is because I finally started believing in myself. There is a confidence in my step. Even a little ego in my smile. Guess what? I've earned it. I worked hard for it. I will need to work hard to keep it. I've got this.

Will everyone else have to continue to work as hard to remind me?

Nope, because I'm already there.


 
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