Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something



Thinking Back

About a year after the move to South Carolina, my ex husband and I bought a house in a city about 45 minutes from Charleston. It was in that neighborhood that I met my first friends that weren’t automatically associated with the military. These women eventually formed a Bunco group who met once a month with a built in excuse to drink wine, chit chat and scream like kids on a roller coaster after a good roll.

Naturally, I was no longer in the group once we moved, but not too long after I moved back, this time by myself, I was welcomed back in. Many of the members have changed since then, but the atmosphere has never really shifted.

Friday night, after I left my wet flip flops in the foyer and grabbed a plate of food, I joined 3 others sitting at one of the tables. One of the women is a fellow mother of twin toddlers (hers are nearly 2). Unless you count the handful of outings I’ve taken with only one baby, I have zero experience as a mother to a singleton. Still, I know that motherhood to twins is a different experience entirely and enjoy having someone to share stories with from time to time. The most common (and unknowingly loaded) question I find that I get (from singleton and twin moms alike) is “do twins run in your family?”

I was very open about our road to parenthood as we traveled it and now is certainly no exception. The majority of the time, and in this case, I say “no, we went through fertility treatments.” Typically, I get a few questions or a short side story about a friend of a friend who had an IUI. On more rare occasions, the person has experienced infertility herself. There is always an instant bond with these people, because you know that they too have walked a lonely road that is very difficult for someone who has not walked it to understand.

In this case, the fellow twin mom not only had zero experience with infertility, she conceived with an ease that makes every fellow past and present infertile drool. What made her different, though, was her interest. Many are interested in the science behind the procedures. Fewer ask about the emotional impact. Even fewer REALLY ask.

Part of our groups conversation involved the experiences of pregnancy: morning sickness, bed rest, stretch marks, discomfort. When I first joined this Bunco group I was not yet ready to have children, so I didn’t have much to contribute. While trying initially, these conversations interested me. As we sunk further and further without any luck, they became painful. Even now, with 2000 pictures of my beautiful twins in my phone, when someone asks if twins runs in my family, it stings a little. It stings because I’ll never forget how painful those conversations sometimes were and how alone I felt. I’ll never forget feeling like I saw pregnant.women.everywhere. I’ll never forget how bitter the experience made me feel for a long time. How annoyed I felt when someone would complain about a pregnancy I would give my left arm to have and sometimes forced me into another room to shed a few tears before I could compose myself.

Fellow twin mom, taking interest, began asking questions not only about the IVF procedure itself but about how it felt to go through it. She said she had a friend who has had difficulty conceiving and, incidentally, been acting differently lately. She asked me if I thought being around her might be difficult for her friend, if she maybe felt bitter about the fact that her ability to conceive had been so easy. I was honest when I told her that was possible.

She was shocked. She told me she had no idea. That she meant absolutely no harm. This time, I understood.

I think I speak for many when I say that one of my biggest complaints was what felt like the lack of understanding from others. In hindsight I suspect it was more a lack of information than understanding. Through no fault of their own, people just have no idea. Truth be told, before I was ready to have a family, I didn’t either. In fact, I recall responding to the news of an acquaintances miscarriage with “at least she knows she can get pregnant” (not to her, thankfully). To this day, knowing what I know now, I am ashamed by that comment. I didn’t even want to type it out.

This post has sat unfinished in my drafts for two days because I am not sure how to finish it. I guess the experience brought some new understanding into the minds of others. When you’re in the throes, it’s so difficult to see the good natured side of some of the things people say. It seems, though, that many are really good intentioned. I was. Little did I know (at the time), though, the impact those words could have had. I, like fellow twin mom, meant no harm.

From inexperienced, well intentioned but likely insensitive, to the person on the receiving end of well intentioned but possibly insensitive comments, to someone who has now been on both sides being asked about someone else’s experience, it seems like, in a way, I’ve come full circle.

And I feel just as confused as ever.

*If this offends anyone still struggling, please accept my apologies. This was really just may way of trying to sort out my own thoughts and feelings about this particular issue.


Why There Probably Won’t Be a Number Three

I got an interesting, out of the blue request the other day.

The marketing department from the fertility clinic both called and wrote me an email, saying Channel 2 was interested in doing a news story on a patient who had taken Letrozole as part of their fertility treatment. Would I be interested in participating in this interview?

Honestly, at first I didn’t recall taking Letrozole, but once I googled it realized it was just the technical name for Femara, one of the meds I was given to take for our IUI cycle. The crappy hooray we have enough sperm to try an IUI canceled IUI cycle. The point of the interview, though (if I understood correctly) was to talk about how there is a smaller chance of multiple eggs and side effects (vs. using Clomid which I have not ever taken) and not whether it was part of a successful pregnancy, so I agreed.

I met with a photographer today who admittedly didn’t have much background on the subject of either infertility or the medication. I had no knowledge of what kind of questions they would ask, so we were both kind of winging it. He seemed confused as to why they would interview someone who had used it during a cancelled cycle and what exactly a cancelled cycle meant while I awkwardly stood in front of a camera trying to explain that the med had done what it was supposed to do and that the fact that my cycle was canceled had nothing to do with it. (This was all while trying to describe it to someone who had no idea what I was talking about.)*

As part of the interview, he asked me how it felt to have a successful cycle and how it felt to have a twins as a result (I am paraphrasing) and I meant every word when I said that it was an emotionally and financially taxing time, but that it was absolutely worth it and I would do it all over again.

I was kind of lying.

Right up there with my divorce, infertility was one of the most difficult things I’ve endured. I’ve written several posts before about how hard it is on ALL of your relationships, your emotions and even your sense of self. Even now as a mom it creeps in through feelings of guilt when I find myself annoyed over the 2nd middle of the night wake up.

Bryan sometimes expresses interest in having more, and while I watch some friends’ bellies grow, attend baby showers and coo over their newborn pictures I sometimes, briefly, think that it would be cool to experience again. For Abby and Miles, I would absolutely 100% relive every bad day and cry every tear. I would do it all over again, for THEM. But not for any more.

I have absolutely no interest in meds, injections, monitoring appointments and blood tests. No more appointments. No more transfers. No more anxiety.

I am just fine with two.

*I’m sure they will piece something together thanks to the magic of editing, unless they just decide to cut it altogether. Should I get word it is airing I will try to record and post it 🙂



National Infertility Awareness Week – Another Marathon, Metaphorically

As part of this years theme “resolve to know more”, I dug up an old post I did awhile back as part of an analogy project in order to attempt to explain what infertility feels like.

I’ve finished two marathons.

It still feels weird to say that out loud. That, twice, I’ve trained, run 26.2 miles, and crossed the finish line. A feat I once related only to “crazy people” (well, that’s still appropriate) and people who run way too much (oddly now also appropriate).

When I started this blog, it began as a week by week training log for my second marathon, as I was preparing to do it mostly alone. A journey to the finish line. It also began as a place to log my fertility journey, as I was starting to feel more and more alone. Another journey to the finish line.

Infertility is a marathon.

At the start of the race, the excitement is palpable. We have all trained for this. We got up at the chirp of the alarm (and in my case, after several smacks of the snooze button) and regardless of the weather, regardless of mood, regardless of (most) illness, we ran. We ran 12, 16, 20 miles on a Saturday for no reason other than this day, this opportunity to run this race, cross this finish line, accept this medal, and feel this incredible accomplishment.  We skipped movies and drinks and went to bed early. Months of runs, hundreds of miles. We are ready.

Adrenaline begins pumping right from the beginning, the first few miles a breeze. A thousand or more people in your exact situation are running with you, some a bit faster, some a bit slower, but it doesn’t matter. You’re all in this together. Even if you lose the people you started with, there are still plenty around to match pace with, plenty of energy left to get yourself there.

Discomfort begins to set in as the miles add up. The number of people begin to thin. You begin to realize just how far 26 miles is. You start to wonder what you got yourself into, and start the ipod search for your most motivating songs on your playlist. If you didn’t know you could run 20+ miles already, you might consider dropping out. But ultimately the vision of the finish line, the medal, the feeling of victory keep you going. Somehow, something pops up at just the right time that keeps you from declaring defeat – a random cheer from a stranger, a particular song, knowing who is waiting for you at the finish line.

Pain sets in around mile 20. The end feels so close yet so far away. Your body starts to scream at you. The group of a thousand you started with has dwindled down to 3 or 4. The slight envy you once felt for the faster runners has turned into full out jealousy. You know you’ve trained harder than most of them. Seriously? How are you all finishing before me? You begin to feel every step, every pound of the pavement. Any change in terrain is physically difficult to recover from. Curse words are becoming more regular.  None of the three hundred Ipod songs are gonna do it, and even taking in half a Gu (an energy gel for distance runners) every mile doesn’t seem to be doing a darn thing. You hurt, you’re tired. You’ve gotta be the only one hurting this much. The finish line, though only a few miles away, feels like it’s never going to appear. The warnings that the true test is after mile 20 suddenly make sense.

Somehow, though, through combination of a force of will, stubbornness, training, and the few out of the group that stuck with you, you cross mile 26. And suddenly, though there are only a few runners left in the immediate vicinity, the crowd gets larger. You suddenly forget how sore you are because you can SEE the finish line. Somehow, you muster the energy to finish strong,  because suddenly you hear your cheering section, the crowd clapping, the announcer calling your name.  Somehow, you finished, and you feel incredible.

Also, you still hurt.  But despite it, you kept running.

When I first stepped foot onto the pavement my first run, (which was like, halfway around the block before I couldn’t breathe anymore) – I never imagined myself running a marathon. In fact, even after my first half marathon several years later I thought to myself “who wants to essentially do this twice? No thank you!”

When I first imagined myself with a family, in my house with my white picket fence (though I’d really prefer a privacy fence at this point in my life), I never imagined it would be a problem. I didn’t even know what infertility was.

I’m still waiting to cross the finish line.

In retrospect, I survived marathon training one run at a time, one week at a time, one long run at a time. I survived the race, particularly at the end, one mile at a time. It still hurt, in fact, it hurt quite a bit. At the end my calves were so sore I literally hobbled to the car.

But I’d do it all over again. I’ll remember that day and who was with me for the rest of my life. All of the pain and exhaustion was absolutely, positively 100% worth it.

One day at a time, one mile at a time, I await the day I can say that again.

I do want to add now, though, that even though we now have our two kids, I’m not sure there is ever really a “finish line” in infertility, because no matter what the outcome, it is always with you.

National Infertility Awareness Week – The Cost of Infertility

I’m putting a couple regularly scheduled posts on hold this week (except for my weekly twins update) in order to participate in National Infertility Awareness Week. This years theme revolves around the idea of “resolving to know more”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, fertility treatments are not cheap.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lists the average price of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the U.S. to be $12,400. (ASRM does not qualify if this includes medications.) We sought to find the price of intrauterine insemination (IUI), one IVF cycle using fresh embryos, and the additional charges for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) (where offered) from a cross section of clinics throughout the U.S. We called and e-mailed clinics that did not list prices on their websites, and discovered that some clinics generally do not give cost information over the phone (but they did for this story). When clinics do list the prices on their website, the information is clear and easy to understand, without many exclusions or disclaimers. RESOLVE encourages all clinics to post updated pricing on their websites.

  • Average cost of an IUI cycle: $865; Median Cost: $350
  • Average Cost of an IVF cycle using fresh embryos (not including medications): $8,158; Median Cost: $7,500
  • Average additional cost of ICSI procedure:$1,544; Median Cost: $1,500
  • Average additional cost of PGD procedure: $3,550; Median Cost: $3,200
    (Note: Medications for IVF are $3,000 $5,000 per fresh cycle on average.)

Several interesting trends in clinic pricing have surfaced:

  • In areas with few infertility clinics, prices, on average, are higher
  • High cost of living does not equate to high treatment costs
  • IUI prices ranged from $275 to $2,457—a huge differential. Some prices quoted include medications, blood work and sonograms; others do not—hence the huge price differential.
  • ICSI prices across the country are within $500 of each other—$1,000 to $1,500.

Our total cost, including initial docs visits, tests, medications, one IUI and one IVF cycle was 17,000+. And many spend much much more.

(Info taken from the resolve website.)

Finances aren’t the only expense though. To give an example of this I’m going to resurrect/link back to one of my old posts written before we started our IVF cycle on The Cost of Infertility.


Lets Be Honest – My Boobs Are Sore and That’s OK

First, I’d like to apologize for my absence – we were fighting yet another round of illness in the house this last week. :p

Today’s guest post comes from my friend Pricilla who blogs at Fashion and Fishing.


My Boobs Are Sore and That’s OK

At the end of this month, it will be two years that my husband Will and I have been trying to get pregnant. And while most anniversaries are commemorated, this one will not be celebrated with a toast or a bottle of champagne. On Sunday afternoon I noticed that I was spotting. This was day 12 post ovulation. My boobs were sore, I was angry with every ridiculous comment my coworkers were making in emails, and I cried for 10 minutes after watching a Subaru commercial (You know the one where the puppy turns into a dog, then the young dog turns into an old dog, and all the while the Subaru stayed the same. It just got me). But these symptoms were all to familiar to me. This was not implantation bleeding. This was not a random occurrence. I was getting my period. Just like clockwork. The Priscilla of a year ago would of sulked in the bathroom for 15 minutes.  But not any more. I cleaned myself up, walked back into the living room, gave Will a big hug and told him what was going on. Then I smiled and asked him what we should do for lunch. Because that’s what the Priscilla of lately does. I smile and keep moving on. And for those of you who are in the same infertility boat as me, I know what you are thinking. After years of trying, how do you do it? How do you smile and pretend that the past month of acupuncture appointments, hormone shots, vitamins that taste like glue, gluten free only menus, not-so-romantic pre-scheduled intercourse, and countless hours of watching the days ticking by and crossing our fingers that it will work out…how can that not even matter? And it does matter. But at the same time, in between the acupuncture and the hormones there were road trips to see old friends, long walks holding hands under an avenue of oak trees, laughing at our clumsy puppy attempting to jump off a dock, and listening to our favorite bands at music festivals. Our journey to parenthood is made up of more then just tears and sorrow. And while the finish line of our journey seems far out of sight, there are so many amazing things going on at the same time, more than enough to be grateful for. And maybe the journey to our baby was meant to be long so that when he or she finally gets here, it will mean that much more. It will mean that we put all our love for months and months and months to bring this baby into the world. And this baby will be made from more love than I could ever imagine ever sharing with someone else. And a baby made of that much love must be extra special. Heck maybe he or she might cure cancer or end poverty! But the odds are that it’s not going to happen next month or even the next.  And right now as I type this, I know its not going to happen this month. Because my PMS’ing boobs are really sore. But that’s ok. Because I’ve got a movie cued up on Nexflix, a big bowl of popcorn mixed with M&Ms, and a tall handsome man warming up a spot on the couch for me. And my wish to everyone else who is on their journey to parenthood is that you find laughter through your tears. And even though trying to get pregnant will always be there on your mind, don’t forget to stop and enjoy all the other fun, silly, crazy, romantic, exciting moments that life has to offer.
*Always looking for more guest posts – blogger or non blogger!

This Week in History

I’m staring at the cursor on the computer screen, albeit a bit distractedly, because out of the corners of my eyes are two pairs of tiny hands and feet.

Last year those hands and feet looked like this

Miles and Abby are the cute ones
Miles and Abby are the cute ones

Last year I blogged the transfer decision I made on my valium induced high to transfer two embryos. The two embryos that turned into Miles:

Its always a good day for a chomp chomp alligator
Its always a good day for a chomp chomp alligator

And Miss Abby:

Hi, I'm pretty
Hi, I’m pretty

Last year I wrote a post about Bryan and I, and how we met, because our anniversary happened to be the day after the transfer. I wrote about how I knew he was going to be a great father and I couldn’t wait to make him one. We didn’t do anything for our anniversary that day because he was working out of town. I don’t remember what we said to each other. I do remember not so patiently wondering what the result of our IVF was going to be (I know this is quite shocking to all of you). When I think back on last year I remember feeling a big mixture of feelings. I anticipated good news as much as I dreaded bad. I wondered how we’d afford more treatment, how much longer it could take if it didn’t work. I felt incredibly thankful we could afford it in the first place and that I had such a great man by my side who stuck with me despite all my craziness. I felt a bit empty, like something (or someone(s)) was missing.

This year as I type and watch the babies play, squeal and blow raspberries I again feel a mixture of things. I feel grateful for my family. I feel humbled by motherhood and the journey we took to get here. I feel excited for whats to come. I feel pain for those who are still trudging along in infertility. I think about last year and I feel how I felt then. I feel serene, at peace. It’s an interesting mix.

This year we have another low key anniversary day planned. We both work so there isn’t much time for anything fancy anyway. We are going to leave work, pick up the babies and go to dinner at Red  Lobster for no other reason than its close by and Bryan wants all you can eat shrimp. Sure its kinda lame, but we are going to celebrate our 3rd year of marriage together – all four of us.

As a family.

Our family
Our family

This year, I feel full.

Give Me All Your Money (on a full bladder)

Today was mock transfer day.

And give me all your money day.

Instructions for the mock transfer (it is what it sounds like – a fake transfer to make sure they won’t have any issues with the real one) include coming to the clinic with a full bladder.

Full bladders and I? We don’t really get along very well. The paper stated I  needed to drink 32 oz of water prior to the appointment.

I laughed.

As someone who actually avoids drinking water during the day  because I pee so much (and, well because I don’t like water. What? It doesn’t taste like anything!) I had to put much more thought into my liquid consumption than the average person. The office is about 20 minutes from my work and the one thing I hate worse than a full bladder? Is a full bladder in the car. So I cheated a bit and drank as I drove (WATER!).

Pleased with myself that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom already upon arrival at the office, I was pleasantly surprised to be called back for my noon appointment at 11:50. For half a second I began to worry I didn’t finish the water soon enough.


11:50 – Enter room, undress (by the way I’m totally wearing dresses for appointments from now on – so much easier).

11:53 – knock on door. But its only the nurse again, filling out something and checking the equipment

12:00 – internet stops working on phone. Annoyed. Have to pee a little. Stare at ceiling tiles.

12:10 – finish reading all 20 pages of the consent forms. Chuckle at all the suggestions that say things like “more research is needed” Have to pee a little more

12:15 – Crap. I have to pee.

12:17 – Ok, I’m giving this guy 3 minutes and I’m going to pee anyway

12:20- ok, 5 more minutes. *begin uncomfortable shifting*. Considered pee pee dance but somehow doing the pee pee dance commando just didn’t work in my head

12:23 – OMFG I have to pee

12:25 – doc comes in. He shakes my hand and says “hi”

Me: hiihavetopee!

He begins to explain what he’s going to do. I was glad I already knew what procedures were for because the entire time he is explaining them to me I’m thinking that he could tell me that they are going to insert egg eating aliens into my lady parts who will come running back out and spit eggs into a petri dish when we do this for real and I would have kept nodding because I HAD TO PEE!

He gets my feet into the stirrups and asks me how work is going.

For real? I find myself actually muttering “nothing more awkward than half naked small talk”. No one laughs. I mean come on. You all spend all day sticking random objects into women, and no one gives me a chuckle. Sigh.

I am relieved when this is over quickly and am guessing this means that transfer should go pretty smoothly, but at this point I don’t care. He asks if I’d like to use the bathroom.

Me: for the love of God yes!

I can see this relationship is going to go really well.

The mock transfer went well. The saline sonogram (basically checking for polyups or cysts) was all clear.

Afterwards I met with the nurse (with a painlessly empty bladder I might add) signed my consent forms, reviewed the calendar, and was released to hand over all of my money.

I’m not sure why, but I kinda felt like I was doing something sneaky. I had the nervous giggles. If I didn’t have payment in my hand and hadn’t uttered “I’m here to pay for my cycle”, someone probably would have thought I was about to take off with the plant by the front door or the magazine rack.

But it’s paid, and I didn’t have a heart attack or lose any limbs (literally – figuratively I think I’m down to one arm). And while, admittedly I have thought to myself several times before about how unfair it seems that we have to have the money to pay for this AT ALL (don’t gasp, you would have thought it too), I was actually relieved that it was covered and that we won’t have to make payments for the next 2-5 years.

This better work, dammit.

And because it just seems like the thing to do, the obligatory meds picture:

Hi, I’m ready to cause you possible headaches, nausea, bumps, bruises, sore breasts etc. Enjoy!

And We’re Off….

I should have expected it, I suppose, but didn’t really think about how quickly things move once a cycle begins. I dutifully called the RE’s office on CD 1, had an appointment for the next day and was forking over a credit card number to order medication. And just like that, our first IUI cycle starts. Maybe I expected fireworks or something(though there will be fireworks today, I’m pretty sure they aren’t for me), but its just another day in the life of everyone else.

Many people ask me if I’m excited, and honestly I have mixed feelings. I like to say that I feel “cautiously optimistic”, as this is probably going to be the best chance we’ve had so far, but still only about 20% as far as statistics show. I would never gamble money on 20% in any other situation.

Before “Bob” and I met for our third date, I had to take a pregnancy test. I get this, I mean they don’t want to start filling you up with drugs if you are pregnant, however, the cost of said pregnancy test was $48. Seriously? I could have told you I wasn’t pregnant for FREE. Actually, I would have happily brought in one of my own negative tests to save myself that ridiculous expense. Sheesh.

As it turns out, I’m not pregnant. (Oh my Gosh, shock!) While I waited for the ultrasound lady, I talked with Bob about the importance of calling for third dates and a discussion about his absenteeism. He agreed to be better and we were back in business. This ultrasound was done basically to make sure I didn’t have any foreign bodies anywhere in my reproductive system (i.e. cysts) and to count my antral follicles, which basically is the number of follicles that could potentially grow an egg. I can’t remember how many were on my right ovary, but my left had 23. Incidentally, that does NOT mean I am going to end up with 23 eggs or 23 babies. I can’t even imagine that scenario. I would have…..well, a 23 sided shape is called a icosikaitrigon (no I did NOT know this off of the top of my head, my best guess would have been to go off of 12 sides which is a dodecahedron I think, so I would have said  doubledodecaheminusoneuplets), so that would mean I would have icosikaitriuplets? I don’t even know how to pronounce that.

Anyway, things are good to go. I sat with the nurse afterwards, who went over my med calendar and showed me how to give myself shots. I’ll be taking 2.5 mg of Femara (it induces ovulation) today through Sunday and will give myself two injections of Follistim (also stimulates ovulation) Sunday and Monday. I go back for another ultrasound (Bob actually scheduled the date this time…he is learning) next Tuesday (CD 9) to check the growth status. It looks as though the actual IUI will happen sometime between July 12-14th, if all goes well.

Here goes nothing.

A Post About Nothing In Particular

Making the decision to ignore infertility and simply live for awhile is great for the soul, but bad for the blogging. Without that constant reminder, I’m left with not much to write about.

We (by we I mean Bryan) are planning our next home improvement attempt: refinishing the floors. When we bought this house we knew we’d have to fix the floors. The renters who lived here prior to us clearly had no respect for stuff that isn’t theirs. It appears as though their dog ran rampant through the house with his or her claws digging into the wood. You probably think I’m exaggerating, but you’d be wrong. I agreed to the idea of attempting to refinish as long as it didn’t cost too much. I may be more lax about spending, but we still may need that IVF money one day. Building the fence was a fabulous idea though, as Bryan stepped outside the back door this morning to wish me off, declaring (though really only loud enough for me to hear) that he was standing outside in his underwear and no one could see him.

It’s the little things, right?

The Barbados clinic called me a few days ago to ask if we were still interesting in pursing the IVF Vacation. At this point I told them to contact me again late summer/early fall. If our bodies can’t manage it on their own by then I figure it will be time to commence….

Are you ready for this?

Operation Insemination Vacation

I should be a comedian, right?

Yeah I get it, don’t quit my day job. Regardless, that’s what we’re calling it. In the meantime, I’m hoping this relaxed attitude sticks around for awhile. I paid a visit to the Doctor’s Care yesterday, was greeted by a very pregnant doctor while reading an article about pregnant celebrities and didn’t even bat an eye.


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