Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010 and Hello 2011

I think I'm not alone when I say I'm thankful that 2010 is coming to a close.  It's been a hard year on many levels -- not just because it was the year which we found out we were infertile.  (Though that sucked royally.)  Work has been extremely challenging for both DH and I.  We've also been feeling like it's time for a maybe we need to move...far, far away.  Our lives, professionally and personally, didn't feel like they werer moving forward in the way that we wanted them too.

So with that, goodbye 2010.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

As for 2011, I am NOT going to make a resolution to get pregnant in 2011.  In fact, I'm starting to realize how hard this journey might be (like others), and that we may be many, many years away from ever getting to raise a child.  So I am counting 2010 and 2011 as potentially another notch in the belt.  I hope that 2011 will get us closer to our goal.  And our January 4th appointment with the reproductive urologist is a great way to kick off the new year.  I can't wait to finally get some answers (I hope).

I am both excited and scared for what 2011 will hold as far as our TTC journey is concerned.  My biggest wish is that we can get DH's swimmers up to a level where we'd be candidates for IUI.  That would be an absolute dream come true.  I have a lot of reservations about IVF, so if I can avoid that bridge, I'd like to.

Other non-IF resolutions for 2011?  Go on vacation!!  DH will finally be wrapping up a huge project he's been working on for the past year, which means (hopefully) that he will finally get paid!  And everyone knows all you need to get pregnant is to go on vacation, right?? :)

Happy New Years to all of you, my friends.  May 2011 be your year!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Clarification on Pregnancy Announcements

I would like to clarify that I love pregnancy announcements from my IF friends.  Keep those ones coming!  Especially all of you waiting on good news now.  (I am praying for you all!)

And not that I should discriminate and be less happy for my fertile friends, but it's just a bit more painful having to hear about those, knowing how easy it probably was to get there.

I'm hoping that one day will be my day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No More Pregnancy Announcements Please

I started taking baifung wan today. It's a Chinese herbal medicine for general female health.  My grandmother says that when she was my age, that's what women took when they were trying to get pregnant, and it worked for a lot of women.  Even though our issue is mainly male factor, I figure I could use a little help as well.  My cycles are on the long side, and this stuff is supposed to regulate my cycle to 28 days, among other things.

In addition, I'm trying to convince my husband to start consuming goji berry.  It's another TCM thing...for general male virility.  My husband, being suspicious of all of this stuff, has conceded to taking it as long as he can research it, and make sure that it's not poisonous.  (It's not.  People have been taking this stuff for 2,500 years.)

I think he and I are finally starting to come around to being on the same page as far as treatment is concerned.  I have been pushing TCM as a first step, assuming no major issues that require surgical intervention.  I've been begging and pleading with him to consider TCM as I am very hesitant about jumping right into IVF.  There is risk involved, and a lot of ethical dilemmas.  This has been a huge sticking point for us, but I think he's coming around, and I'm very grateful for that.

Otherwise, I've been up and down with my moods.  Infertility is bad enough, but I've also been dealing with a lot of stress at work, which doesn't help things.  2011 promises to be crazy at work -- even crazier than this past year was -- which makes me wonder how I'll ever fit in the doctor's appointments and fertility treatments I'm sure we'll be seeking this year.

On top of that, everyone thinks it's cute to announce their pregnancies during the holidays, so there seem to be more of those than usual.  I have been alright with most of them, but one of the announcements today from a friend at church just sent me over the edge.  This couple sends an annual Christmas letter with a retrospective on their past year.  This year's was a two-pager all about their 1-year-old's accomplishments.  On a month-by-month basis.  (Yeah, just shoot me now.)  Anyway, I just had a sneaking suspicion that the end of the letter would include a pregnancy announcement.

I was right.

I'm sorry if I sound on the edge of bitter (I promise to try to write a more positive post next time).  I just can't help thinking life is so unfair.  We all have our hardships, but this one seems to blow really hard in particular.

With the holidays, I can't seem to stop thinking about where I was last year, and where I thought I would be at this time last year.  I had just finished my last pack of BCP last December, and was getting ready to start trying.  I was convinced I'd either be pregnant or holding a newborn by Christmas this year.  Infertility had never even crossed my mind.  It's been a bitter reality to have to deal with this emptiness and void, when all around me, other people seem to be celebrating the birth of new life and adding to their families.

Geez, just writing this is bringing me to tears.  I better sign off, so that I'm not continuing to stew.  The bright side is that my husband's appointment with the urologist is nigh (I feel like we've been waiting an eternity for this appointment).  I hope that we will start getting some good answers, so we can finally move forward on this IF train.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dreams Can Come True

I wish I had more to say, but I feel like I'm just holding steady these days.  Not much we can do until my husband's appointment with the reproductive urologist in the beginning of the new year.

Until then, we're just trying on our own (ha).  My husband's doesn't hold out much hope that we'll conceive naturally and neither do I.  At least the rational part of me doesn't.

But deep down, in that little girl place inside of me, I believe that dreams can come true, and that the Lord really can perform a modern day miracle.  Especially one that would coincide with the Christmas holiday (how beautiful would that be).  I'm being so foolishly hopeful, I know, but I can't help it.  I am asking for a miracle.

In the meantime, I am breathlessly reading and following along with all of IF friends' blogs (see my blogroll).  Many of you are awaiting results of IUI's and IVF's, and I am waiting along with you.  I may not get a Christmas miracle this year, but I am hoping, my friends, that you will get yours.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Today's Encouragement

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just Sayin'

I remember when we first heard my husband's numbers were low, we were pretty bummed out.  But then I started reading other blogs where instead of millions of sperm (DH has 6 million moving ones in one squirt), you're talking hundreds of thousands.  Suddenly, our situation didn't seem so bad.

But then I started, hundreds of thousands of sperm isn't enough to get the job done?  Even 6 million isn't enough?  You need, on average, 200 million to be dispatched just so one lousy sperm can fertilize the egg?

Really, God?

What the heck?  Men are so inefficient!! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My HSG Experience

Praise the Lord -- it's over!!

...and it wasn't bad at all.  I feel a bit sheepish now for freaking out so much.  I took 4 Advil before the procedure (2 two hours beforehand, and 2 one hour beforehand).  The doctor and nurse tech were both so nice, and so understanding.

The beginning felt like a regular gyno exam, where they insert the speculum to prop open my vajayjay.  Then they swabbed the cervix with three different solutions.   Then he inserted the catheter through the cervix and inflated some sort of balloon thingy (I think to open it up and allow the dye to flow through).  At that point, I felt some cramps, but it wasn't bad at all.  It just felt like I had my period.  Then he injected the dye, which I did not feel at all.  But my tubes were clear (oh yeah -- that's the good news!!), and so that might have been why it felt so painless.

Anyway, it was so not a big deal, but thank goodness I heavily self-medicated beforehand.

Seems like all is clear on the female front.  Looks like our issue is just isolated to a male factor at this point...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


You know how they say there are stages of grief?  I think I'm going through them.  Part of me is kind of amazed -- like, that whole thing about stages of grief isn't just an urban legend?  It's for real??

Well, right now I think I'm going through the depression stage.  What happened??  I was doing so well, feeling really optimistic.  Now, I just feel depressed -- and I don't mean sad, I mean depressed.

I sort of look at my days and wonder what's the point to it all without children in the picture?  Without realizing it, I think my whole life has been leading up to children.  When I was single, I worried about getting married because then I'd know who I was procreating with, and what my kids would look like.  I also wanted to make sure I was married well before I would be too old to be procreating.  Once I was married, the career path I took, the financial decisions I made, all revolved around how that would fit in with me having kids some day.  Now, I just wonder what all that planning was for?

I feel aimless and adrift.  I feel so far from the finish line -- whether that be biological kids, or whether that be an acceptance about adoption or child-free living.  I can't see the forest for the trees.  Who knows when I'll ever find my way out. 

I feel like I'm neither here nor there.  It's disconcerting.  It's unsettling.  It's disorienting.

Why me, God?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's It Like to be Pregnant?

I have never been pregnant before.
The good news is that I have never miscarried.
The bad news is that I have never been pregnant.

I'm sad that I may never know what it's like to be pregnant.
I'm sad that I may never see a double line on a pregnancy test.
I'm sad that I might always see "Not Pregnant" on a pregnancy test.
I'm sad that my best friend may never get to throw a baby shower for me.
I'm sad that I may never make our parents grandparents,
That I may never make my husband a father,
That I may never get to be a mother.
I'm sad that I may never get to buy a onesie or a bib except for someone else.
I'm sad that I may never experience all of those awful pregnancy symptoms pregnant women keep complaining about.
I'm sad that I may never get to complain about them too.
I'm sad that something that should be free and easy, will probably be expensive and difficult for us.
I'm sad that instead of "when we have kids," I now say "if we have kids."
I'm sad that when I go in for ultrasounds, I never get to take home a print-out.

There's no point when there's nothing there.

I'm sad that conception for us will probably take place in a petri dish instead of inside me.
I'm sad that I may never get to say those two little magical words, "I'm pregnant."

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Testing

...this time the results were good.

Today, I went in for my FSH bloodwork and an ultrasound to check out my follicles.  I'm on Day 4 of my cycle.

My FSH level is at 6.18 (typically they look for levels of less than 10).  They counted 19 follicles (typically they look for 8 or more around now).

So far, so good.

On Thursday, I have my HSG.  Definitely nervous about this one.  What was everyone else's HSG experiences?  I'm reading through some other women's HSG experiences, and am getting very scared!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Are We a Family?

That's the question that I asked my husband the other day.

I'm not sure.  Does my husband and me and our dog count as a family?  Or are we just a couple until we have kids, and then we're a family?

There is something really special about two people, who stand far apart in the genetic spectrum, coming together and producing offspring that genetically tie them together.  Is that what makes a family a family?

What if my husband and I never have biological offspring, or any children for that matter?  Are we just two untethered people bobbing along in life?

I think there's a danger in thinking that, and I don't think that's the case.

The bible tells us that when man and woman come together, they become one flesh.  In essence, they are joined inextricably and are a family unit from that point on.  To think otherwise is to forgo what the bible says, and to idolize the concept of having children.

By the way, in case you were wondering, my husband's response to the question: "Even if we never have any children, you will always be my family."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quick Update

Been in a crappy mood today.  Finally figured out why -- I'm getting my period in the next day or two.

Sorry I've been a bit MIA.  Had a week off for Thanksgiving, which was a nice getaway from the TTC drama.  DH's second S/A came back just as bad as the first -- motility was slightly better, but nothing to write home about.  Our RE referred us to a reproductive urologist, whom DH will be meeting with at the beginning of January.  We're bummed it can't be sooner, but what's another month?  I feel like we've lost so many months already.

I've been breaking the news to my two best friends, so they know where I'm at, and can be praying for me.  It's a relief that they know.  Every time we met up, there were the expectant, "so are you pregnant yet" looks or questions?  All well-intentioned, but I'm glad I don't have to face that anymore.

We'll probably be telling our church friends starting in the new year as well.  Many of them don't even know that we're trying.  I'm realizing that I can't do this on my own, and that that's what friends and family are for -- to support you, love you and pray for you.  I'm actually looking forward to being more open.  It makes infertility seem so shameful when you're not able to share it.  This is just how I feel.  I understand that there are those who have not chosen to share this information yet.  It's a personal decision for all of us.

Anyway, it's weird, but I'm sort of looking forward to getting my period.  It means I can go in for my blood test for FSH, and that I can also schedule my HSG.  I'm nervous, but excited to get it done.  Hopefully there will be no problems!

That's it for now.  Hope the rest of you are doing well and had a great holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

IVF Dilemma

Had trouble sleeping last night.  I woke up tossing and turning in the middle of the night, and it took me an hour or so to fall back asleep.

It might have to do with the fact that I started reading a book last night called Everything Conceivable, about assisted reproductive technology (ART), how it is changing the reproductive landscape, how it's challenging our concept of family and biological ties, and the moral and ethical implications associated with ART.

For those of you just catching up, due to our (so-far) diagnosis of male factor infertility, it's looking like we may need to go directly to IVF with ICSI.  This has not been confirmed by our RE, but based on my reading on the subject, that's my guess.

Anyway, I skipped over a few chapters, and jumped over to the one about male infertility, and was shocked by what I read.  Because ICSI (where they directly shoot a sperm into the egg to fertilize it) is so new -- it was developed in the early 1990s -- it's largely untested.  There's a chance that the men being fathered by these infertile men getting pregnant via IVF with ICSI, will themselves be infertile.  The sperm that are being harvested from these infertile men may contain faulty genetic code.  Mother Nature has made it hard to impossible for infertile men to impregnate their partners for a reason -- namely, she does not want them to pass along this bad genetic code to future generations.  By using reproductive techniques to force Mother Nature's hand, humans are in essence tinkering with her good order.

I gotta admit -- that one hurt to hear.  It seems that the book is implying that when Mother Nature kicks you in the nuts, you should grit your teeth and take it, or else we run the risk of perpetuating infertility until the entire world is infertile in 10,000 years, according to the author's estimation.

That was the first thing that bothered me, and made me think.  Infertility has been a tough one to swallow.  The thought of passing that along to my potential children is even tougher to swallow.  I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy, let alone my own hard-won child or children.

The second thing about the book that made me think was the fact that there are so many moral and ethical complications that arise from IVF.  What do you do with left-over embryos once you and your partner have created the family you wanted from IVF?  Do you freeze them?  Do you toss them?  Do you go back for more IVF until you use up all of your embryos and potentially end up with 7 children and a wad of debt?  Do you put them up for adoption?  If you put them up for adoption, could you live with the fact that a stranger may one day be raising your biological child, and the biological sibling of your children?  What if you and/or your partner dies, where do they go?  What if you do genetic testing and find that one may be carrying a defect (and I underscore "may" because it's not definite)?  Do you destroy that embryo, or do you give it a chance and let God decide what happens?

The alternative is that IVF will fail, and you will end up using up all of your frozen embryos in your pursuit of a successful pregnancy.  But that alternative stinks too.

This is what kept me tossing and turning all night.

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.  All I know is that I really want a child, a biological child.  But I'm scared that in my pursuit of one, I will neglect the principles that I stand for in order to get there.  I wish the bible had some clearer guidance on IVF.

A lot of you guys are either doing IVF or considering it.  What are your thoughts on the subject?  What are your plans?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't Want To Read Too Much Into It

Went out for dinner Friday night with my husband.  This is what our fortune cookies said:

"Difficulty at the beginning usually means ease at the end."

"A thrilling time is in store for you."

I don't believe in fortune telling or astrology, but my husband and I still got a kick out of these.

Tomorrow or Tuesday (probably Tuesday), we hear the results of my husband's second semen analysis.  Not holding out too much hope that this S/A will be very different from the first S/A, but still anxious to hear the outcome.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Because You Can't Be All Doom and Gloom... I just had to share this funny story.

Our RE told us to use OPKs this month to confirm I'm ovulating, and to call the first day I get a positive test.  Well, the kits I had instructs you to go without peeing for a minimum of 4 hours before testing...which if you think about it, is a freaking long time!

So I didn't go all afternoon, and when I came home, I raced upstairs to take my test.

It's negative, which is kind of weird since my boobs started getting sore yesterday, which is very early for me prior to ovulation.  (It's normal for my breasts to get sore around the time I ovulate.)  Guess I'll just keep testing.  (And no, I'm not pregnant because my temp is low, and I had my period last cycle.)

Anyway, there you go!  A little infertility humor to get us through our days!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S/A - Not So Good

We got the results back from my husband's S/A.  It's not good.

Count - 6 million (normal is >20 million)
Motility - 6% (normal is >50%)
Morphology - 3% (normal is >14%)

I guess I was right.  I'm sad I am though.

I'm doing much better than anticipated because I've mentally prepared myself for the worst.  He's not doing very well right now because he hasn't.

Our blood work came back normal, as in no STDs.  However, we're still waiting on results from genetic testing.  I also still need to do my Day 3 blood work to test FSH levels, plus the HSG.  That will be early December.  Before then, my husband is going back in on Friday to do another S/A in case these results were a random fluke.  I'm not holding my breath.

I don't want to jump the gun without knowing where I stand, but I'm wondering if we're not a good candidate for IUI based on my husband's S/A.  We may need to skip the line to IVF.


On a positive note -- and I'm trying to be as positive as possible given the dismal forecast -- there ARE viable sperm.

Please pray for us right now. I think it's safe to say that we are officially infertile.  Woo.  Pray for strength and trust in the Lord's sovereign plan for our lives.  Also, please pray for a miracle, that maybe this sperm sample was a random bad lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

S/A and Consultation with Chinese Doctor

I feel like I should qualify the outburst in my last post.  I was feeling particularly down that day (obviously).  I couldn't figure out why that might be.  Then it occurred to me that the doctor's visit and testing has been stressing me out more than I realized.  I guess I had to get it out.

So these past few days have been event-filled.  On Sunday, my mom took me to an acupuncturist/herbalist for a consultation.  This doctor is a friend of hers, and did this as a favor.  She looked at my recent BBT charts, and said that barring any major issues (low/no sperm count or blocked tubes), it looks like the issue is a hormonal one on my part.  Because my cycles tend to be long, with a long build-up to ovulation (typically 3 weeks instead of 2 from CD 1 until day of ovulation), it's my estrogen levels that are the problem.

She recommended that I try taking a Chinese medicine that typically treats women with menstrual or fertility issues.  It's a good general medication until I can find someone who can prescribe specific herbs for my situation.  It's called Baifeng Wan.  My grandmother said back in her day, many women in China/Taiwan would take Baifeng Wan if they were having problems getting pregnant, and they were able to get pregnant this way.  My mom has taken it before for menstrual pain (she never had fertility problems).  The acupuncturist takes it now for general women's health.  I'm thinking of making a trip to my local Chinatown to pick some up.  It's supposedly about $60 for a month's supply, which if you ask me, beats the cost of IVF/IUI/acupuncture.

Interestingly enough, my mom and the acupuncturist said that the best thing to do was to take Chinese herbal medications to treat the issue.  Acupuncture is good to do with the herbal therapy, but it's slow working.  Basically, it's the meds that are gonna get you knocked up fast.

I am so, so hopeful that this might be what I need.  I am of Chinese heritage, so I do believe that there is something to TCM.  My husband is Caucasian, and he's a major skeptic.  It's been a major clashing point for us in this whole TTC journey.  We've basically adopted a don't ask don't tell policy regarding my investigation and pursuit of TCM treatment.

Yesterday, my husband went in for his S/A (semen analysis).  I'm hoping we'll hear the results tomorrow.  He produced his sample at the clinic.  I asked him not to use the magazines unless he was in dire straits. :)  He confirmed that he didn't...haha.  I think he's very nervous about the results.  I hope that for his sake and mine, the results will be normal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeling Sad Today

Sometimes I get eaten up by jealousy towards other women who seem to get pregnant so easily.  It tears me up inside.  I feel such a deep sense of failure and loss at not being able to achieve what some people achieve so easily.  It makes it hard for me to be around my friends, my good friends, who are pregnant or have children.  Next to them, I feel like a huge failure.  I feel empty and lost.

My whole life, I've pictured children and a family as my ultimate goal.  But what if I'm never able to have children?  I am not ready to wander the wilderness of infertility.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First RE Appointment Wrap-Up

Today was my first RE consultation, and it went pretty well!  I left the office feeling hopeful.  The doctor was a bit of a quick-talker, but he instilled a lot of confidence in both my husband and me that we are young, healthy and should really have no issues.  Part of me wants desperately to believe him, but the other part wonders if that's the case, then why aren't we pregnant yet?

His main concern was not actually with my husband, as I had suspected, but with me and the fact that my cycles are long (~35 days), which makes it hard to guess when I'm ovulating.

The plan is to do diagnostic testing and then re-group.  Today, both my husband and me did some bloodwork.  I also had a vaginal ultrasound to check out my uterus and ovaries -- everything looked great, according to the doc, and you could see some follicles as well -- he counted 8-10 of them per ovary.  Lining looked good too.

Next step is for hubby to get a semen analysis, which is scheduled for Monday.  Then I have to get an HSG test (the dreaded dye test...UGH).  Today, being Day 10 of my cycle, was the last day that I could get the test done during this cycle.  Since it was only decided today that I should get the test, it was too late to schedule an appointment, so it's looking like it will happen during my next cycle, at the beginning of December.  I'm fine with that.  I've heard so much about this test, and how painful it is that I'm not looking forward to it.  I'm hoping that I'll get pregnant this cycle, and be able to skip this step altogether.  On the flip side, I'm trying to look at the positive side of this test.  I've heard that sometimes the HSG can actually clear up minor mucus blockages, or at least clear out the passageways, and that some women get pregnant right after this test.  Hey -- whatever works!

When I told the doc that I have been charting, he told me to stop doing that.  It can be hit or miss, and it's just onerous.  I'm glad he said that because I'd basically come to the same conclusion a couple of months ago, and that I needed to stop in order to preserve my sanity during this whole process.  He actually recommended that we just use OPKs, and on the first day that we get a positive test, BD that day and two days after that.  Sounds like a plan to me.  We'll see if it works.

During our visit, the doctor also mentioned that if nothing is majorly wrong, and we wanted to kick start conception, then I could go on Clomid, get a trigger shot to ovulate and either we just kick it ol'school style or they could do IUI.  He said that their success rate is 89% of healthy couples become pregnant within 3 cycles.  That sounds like an usually high success rate.  I don't know.  I guess we have to determine whether or not we're both healthy first.

Anyway, overall, it was a good visit, and I'm feeling more optimistic.  Still hoping that we'll get our BFP, and that I can just be done with this whole business.  Call me pessimistic, but I just have a sinking feeling deep down that we won't get off that scott free.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tomorrow's RE Appointment is Almost Here!

The big RE appointment is tomorrow morning!  Very excited.  I'm also nervous.  The appointment is at 8am, and then I go into work.  I simply told my co-workers that I would be a little late coming in.  I am hoping that the appointment is not too upsetting.  I don't want to be a wreck going into work.

Hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

D-Day Is Near

Our first appointment with the RE is this Wednesday morning.  We're putting together all of the paperwork with our medical history.  The plan is to fax it all over to him on Monday morning, so that he can read through it, and be prepared for our consultation.  Over the past few days, the hubby and I have had to some uncomfortable conversations with our parents about their reproductive history, and the family's reproductive history.  AWK-WARD.

As we were doing all of this, my husband casually mentions that during college, his doctors had discovered a cyst on one of his testicles.  You couldn't have mentioned this a little sooner?  Which just goes to support my theory that maybe it's not me, it's you.  He said that at the time, he asked if the cyst would affect his future fertility, and they told him not to worry about it.  However, these things change over time, so you never know.  I think he's a bit worried about it now, and plans to make an appointment with a urologist.  I am trying not to make him feel any worse than he may already feel, but I can't help feeling a little miffed that this didn't come up a little sooner.

So this all definitely puts a kink in the calmness I've been experiencing these past couple of months (save for a few rough patches).  However, I hope that this will pass soon enough.  Just needed to vent a little bit, which is what this blog is all about, right?

Switching gears to a lighter note, I'm expecting to ovulate right before Thanksgiving this month.  We're planning to spend the holidays with my in-laws.  My sister-in-law and her husband will probably be there at some point as well.  So we're trying to subtly figure out what people's schedules are like, and when we want to go down there because we know we'll have to be BD'ing at some point that week.  Don't want the hubby to get performance anxiety knowing his parents and sister are lurking around in the house.  Tee hee.

Honestly?  (Going back to the upcoming RE appointment.)  I'm really nervous about.  I haven't admitted it to myself until now.  He could be the bearer of some major news, and I'm scared.  If you have a spare moment, could you say a prayer for me?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baby Shower Shopping

One of my very good college friends is going to have a baby next year, and she is having her baby shower next week.  I can't attend, so today after church I decided to shop for her gift, which I plan to mail to her.  Apparently, Bed, Bath and Beyond now has a new baby section, so I decided to go check it out.

For those of you who've been reading, you will know that I have been hanging in there this entire month, feeling pretty matter-of-fact with our current situation.  Which is why I was surprised how emotional I felt in the store, walking amongst the baby things.  I felt like I was on the verge of tears the entire time, and my insides were an achy mush.  I kept praying that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew, or else I was sure that I would burst into tears right there between the potty training seats and the Mustela diaper cream.

Last year at this time, I would have just glided through the expedition, with a smug sense that my turn would be coming soon.  (The plan was to start trying at the beginning of 2010.)  I've said it once, and I'll say it again -- what a difference a year makes.  Now, I wonder when my turn will be.  Will it be next year, two years, three years, five years, ten years?  I don't know.  The uncertainty is unnerving.

I made it out of the store alive, but allowed myself a few tears on the way home in the car.  I guess it doesn't help that my period is on its way, either today or tomorrow.  I don't want to dwell on the negativity and the fear too much, or else it will consume me.  I am trusting in God's plan for my life, whatever it will be, and trusting that his plan is better than whatever plans I may have for myself.

On a positive note, my husband is coming home tomorrow after a two week business trip.  I've missed him so much, and can't wait to see him.  As hard as this journey has been so far, I can't imagine doing it alone and without him.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Two days ago, the paperwork arrived from the fertility clinic. I'd be told ahead of time by the receptionist that she would email me some paperwork for me to fill out before our appointment.  I said, no sweat.

Little did I know I had 30+ pages to read and respond to.  Wow, this is no joking around!  Though I have to admit that my inner schoolgirl came out as I dutifully filled out each question, checked off each Yes/No box.  It felt good to be doing something rather than waiting for something, which has felt like my life this past year.

I will also admit that part of me is hoping that I won't actually have to go to my appointment.  That maybe this time it worked.  I'm sure there are a lot of women out there who feel this way.  But maybe I'll be the one.  You know?  I've been reading up on the battery of tests that await me, and I'm not looking forward to it.  It's all fun and games until someone's shooting dye up your tubes.

Nearing the middle of my tww.  There is still some hope, I suppose, but I don't feel anything.  For those ladies out there who have been pregnant before...are you supposed to feel anything during the tww?  I never have, but it's because I've never been pregnant.  Don't know if I should hold out hope at this point, or give up and have a glass of wine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Not Me, It's You

Today, I made an appointment with our local fertility clinic to go in for a consultation.  We want to get tested, and see if there could be larger issues at play.  It's a good first step -- a little bit scary, a little bit of a relief.  I feel like I have been transporting this worry and anxiety on my back for the past six months, and finally I can sort of hand it to someone else for a while, namely the experts.  It was something my husband and I have been talking about doing when he returned from his business trip.  Our appointment is set for November 10.

As I mentioned before, I've been doing alright this month.  I'm currently in my tww window, which has traditionally been very tough for me.  It usually consists of me rollercoastering between thinking I'm pregnant and being convinced that we'd failed again.  Not fun times, I tell you.

But I'll tell you something, and hopefully you won't think worse of me, but part of the reason I've been able to cope this month is the feeling that maybe our issues don't have to do with me, as I'd originally been fearing.  Maybe they have to do with my husband!  I don't know why it hadn't really occurred to me before, but he was the one that was born premature and very ill as a result.  He's mostly overcome these issues, but it would make sense that his fertility may have been affected as a result.

I know it's terrible, but knowing that it may not be my fault has been comforting.  Then again, this hunch is totally unfounded.  It could be totally my fault.  Even if this makes me a horrible person, it's what I need to hang on to my sanity.  And at this point, I'll take what I can get.

Monday, October 18, 2010

When the Hubby is Away

...I become a workaholic so that I can distract myself from thinking about babies.

I have been keeping myself busy since the hubby went away yesterday. Today I ovulated, and I'm trying not to dwell on the fact that this is probably another month that will go by without a baby.  Surprisingly, I'm holding up pretty well...neither too foolishly hopeful that maybe this will be the month, nor too down in the dumps that we're probably not pregnant.  It's a good thing.  I feel like I might be getting back to the way I used to be -- before babies absolutely consumed my thoughts and desires.

Maybe this conception thing will just take a while, and I should settle in for the ride.  Maybe we don't have any problems, per se.  Maybe our time will come later than some others.

I know these are fairly simple revelations, but to me, I'm making huge strides by being ok with these statements.

Not to say that I'm not preparing myself for the worst.  Tonight I went to the library and picked up some infertility titles:

Has anyone read any of these books?  Any thoughts on any of these?  I have been devouring books on this subject ever since it became a potential issue.  No one in my real life talks openly about infertility, so to have these books to read have been invaluable to me, emotionally.  I feel like I am able to forge a true connection with someone out there who has experienced some of the same emotions I've been experiencing the past six months -- the panic, the disbelief, the despair, the grief.

Overall, I am thankful for this more positive outlook these past couple of weeks.  I am learning to lean on God's grace, and am thankful for His provision in my life.  I'm going to sign off this post with one of my all-time favorite verses.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Coming Full Circle

Not much to report.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm pretty sure that this month's try will be a wild shot in the dark.  And since there's no expectation, at least there won't be any crushing disappointment when I get my period in a couple of weeks.

Last year, my husband and I were at a wedding with very good friends of ours.  This was middle of November 2009.  We were talking about babies, and I said that by next year at this time, I hoped I would be either pregnant or have had a baby.  (This was when we were planning to start trying at the beginning of 2010.)  And throughout this year, as we've been trying and watching each month go by, that evening in November is what I keep thinking of.

I laugh at myself back then.  Because at that time, when I said I wanted to be pregnant by the following year, I'd thought that it would be a simple task.  There wasn't even the possibility that I wouldn't be pregnant.  Oh, what a difference a year makes.

This year has brought me to my knees in front of God.  It's forced me to see that all good things are truly a gift that only He can give.  It's humbled me in ways that I hadn't imagined possible last year.  I'm not sure what God's plan is in all of this, but I have to trust that He has one, and that this is exactly where we need to be right now.

My husband leaves for a business trip tomorrow for two weeks.  While he's away, we've decided that I will make an appointment for us at the local fertility clinic when he gets back.  We want to undergo some preliminary testing (sperm analysis, blood work, etc.) to make sure there is nothing glaringly wrong with either one of us

I know some people may think we're getting ahead of ourselves, but my husband was born premature and suffered a lot of medical issues because of it.  He overcame many of those issues early on in life (thank goodness), but I'm worried that perhaps his fertility was affected in some way.  If so, we'd rather know now rather than later.

If you get a chance, please say a prayer for us.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We're Up To Bat Again

This is my week.  The week of the big O.

My cycles have slowly started getting longer and longer the longer I've been off birth control.  Whereas I was first ovulating on Day 15 or 16, now I'm ovulating around Day 20 or 22.  It's been a bummer adding a week to my cycle.  When you're TTC, that can feel like ages.

So this is the week when I'm supposed to be getting it on.  The only problem is that I may not ovulate until beginning of next week.  The reason that that's a problem is that on Sunday my husband is leaving on a business trip, one that cannot be avoided unfortunately.  We'll try, but we're not stressing it too much.  What am I going to do if the timing's not right?  I said to him that it feels like we're trying to throw a three pointer from half court.  We're just operating on foolish hope this month.

Maybe it's our circumstances this month, but the longer we've been trying, the more blase I get about our "try" week.  When we first started out, we were doing it every day around the time of ovulation.  That went on a few months until we realized we couldn't keep up that kind of pace.  Last month it was every other day which was a much better pace.

Regardless of whether it was every day or every other day, I'd been absolutely convinced that we had to do it on the day of ovulation in order to conceive.  And not just the day of ovulation, but the morning of, so that I was sure the sperm would be in place and ready when that magic egg rolled down the chute.

Now, I'm just realizing if that's how people are supposed to get pregnant, then I'll never get pregnant.  I'll never be able to orchestra my timing that perfectly.  And if we have to be that precise, then there are probably larger issues at play, ones that are beyond my control and probably belong in the hands of a specialist.  So at this point, I am just hoping that nature will take its course.

Part of the reason I'm so blase is that it doesn't matter either way whether I try or don't try.  When I try (all of the charting and calculated sex and calendar watching), nothing happens.  Which leads me to think that all of the planning and worrying don't seem to help anything along.  So why waste the energy?

Am I losing hope or letting go into God's hands?  Maybe a little of both.  I am just getting so tired of the heartache and the frustration and the worry when I get my period every month.  It's been such an emotional rollercoaster these past six months.  I want to let it go and give it to the Lord.  I can't do this on my own.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Life Re-Imagined

A couple nights ago, I pulled out God's Design for Women by Sharon James, a book that I'd read five years ago, when I'd been engaged.  One of the last chapters, "The Ministry of Comfort," which deals with women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, rape, abortion, etc., was one that I probably glossed over at the time.  Didn't think it applied, or would apply.  Not that I am technically deemed infertile (yet), but a couple of nights ago, I read that chapter a lot more closely and it really hit home.

This particular passage really popped out for me, and I couldn't help getting teary-eyed:

The Bible is brutally honest that life in the here and now will not always be happy, and that the effects of sin are terrible and far-reaching.  It does not offer health and wealth and family success as our rights: rather it depicts the whole of creation as groaning.  God's people must expect suffering, our bodies grow frail, loved ones are unexpectedly snatched by death.  It is clear that the purpose of our lives is not to be healthy, prosperous, to have a nice family or do well at work.  The purpose of life is to know God.  When we know God, we have abundant life and real joy.  Throughout church history, and today, many Christians have testified through the most intense suffering and pain that God has been with them and for them in it all.  That kind of Christianity is powerful.  It speaks with a clearer voice than all the fine words of those who know little of pain.

I know that God doesn't promise me biological children, but it's hard to wrap my head around this when all of my life it'd felt like a given.  If I was going to suffer anything, it wouldn't be this.  It might be terminal illness, job loss, death of my spouse, lifelong acne, severed friendships.  I don't know...anything but (possible) infertility.  This concept has forced me to re-imagine my life, which has been absolutely earth-shattering for me.

In my angriest scenarios, I think of us without children, living in a beautiful, well-kept small home.  Luxury cars in the driveway (definitely a two-seater sports car because we wouldn't need the back seats).  Vacations to exotic locations that do not rotate around the school calendar.  Designer clothes.  Of course, this makes the big assumption that we will be making good money since we won't have kids.  Not something God has guaranteed either, but this is my fantasy, go with it.  This is when I'm angriest at God, and want to throw it back in His face.

When I'm at my most humble, it is a life with adopted children because maybe we've tried fertility treatments and they didn't work.  Maybe we decided to not do IVF because of the moral implications (my jury is still out on this one).  Instead, we have adopted one or two children and they are our family.  And we love them intensely the way we would if they were our own biological children.  We would have to deal with other issues -- how would we feel around others who were able to biologically conceive, or what if one day our child wanted to find his biological parents.  But overall, it would be a great opportunity to give someone a loving home and raise him to know the Lord.  That is my best worst case scenario, if you know what I mean.

In the end, whatever way our lives fall, and if children fit into that picture, and whether those children are biologically ours or not, I don't want to spend my life angry with God.  I want to be joyful.  And part of that, in a practical sense, is being able to visualize a life that is different from what I'd originally imagined...and being ok with it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Let's Kick It Off

I thought I'd start a blog to chronicle my journey of trying to conceive.  My husband and I have been married five years in September.  I'm 30 and he's 29, and at the end of 2009, we decided to pull the goalie and start our family.

I should preface this whole story with the fact that I thought we would have absolutely no problem conceiving.  I had even bragged to my roommates in college (with no prior experience that would dictate either way) that I was sure I was a fertile turtle.  I guess I was basing this off of the fact that my mom had absolutely no problem getting pregnant with both my brother and me.  I figured why would I have any problems.  Plus, they teach you in school that if you so much as pull your pants down within a 5 mile radius of a boy, you were exposing yourself to the risk of pregnancy.  How hard could it be, right?

As I'd mentioned, my story starts at the end of 2009.  I stopped taking birth control pills in December.  By doctor's orders, I waited about 3 months before we actively started trying, so that my hormone levels could regulate themselves.  The first month we tried, I bled midway through my cycle.  In hindsight, I'm thinking that this was probably a month that I didn't ovulate.  A weird glitch seeing as my cycles were quite regular the two months before. A bit discouraging seeing as we'd waited 3 months to really get the party started.  Nevermind, I thought to myself, there's next month, and next month I'll definitely get pregnant!

I've thought the same thing every month up until now...about 6 six months later.  Still no baby.

I've tried charting and checking my cervical mucus.  I haven't tried OPKs yet, as those seem like a waste of money if I can chart and check my mucus.  It seems like I am ovulating, based on the spike in temperature that I get every month, but my cycles do tend to be long...averaging about 33 to 36 days.

I have to admit there are times when we've grossly miscalculated my date of ovulation.  But there are times when we've been pretty right on.  I am hoping that there is nothing wrong with us.  It would make this journey so much easier to know either way, though I think a doctor would scoff at us if we tried to get checked out right now.

I am hoping that we will one day create and get to bring home a little miracle, but in the meantime I am waiting and learning what it means to be patient.