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Journey To the Finish Line

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

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TTC

All I Want for Christmas

Many times on my walks/runs I find myself thinking about where I am now and where I was the year before.

Holidays can be bittersweet. Sometimes more bitter than sweet.

The last few years of holidays, while not bad persay, were not on my list of favorites.

In 2008 I had recently separated from my ex-husband.

In 2009 Bryan and I were dating – this was a pretty happy holiday season but I know we were both still recovering from these broken relationships. Divorce is not easy even when you know it is the right thing.

2010 and 2011 were consumed with infertility. So was part of 2012. In fact I wrote a post specifically in 2011 about how much I was NOT looking forward to the holidays. Then I later wrote a 2011 recap post admitting that I wished I hadn’t let infertility worry take over my life, setting a 2012 resolution to live more in the present. Several conversations were had that year[2011] between Bryan and myself about the person it was turning me into and the effect it was having on our relationship.

If you’ve ever had bouts with depression, the two can be pretty comparable in the way that it can slowly take over your life in such a way that you wake up one day and its all you can think about – not even completely sure how that happened.

The holidays have a way of bringing this forward even more so. Because while your friends and family are Santa shopping, taking pictures in cute Christmas outfits or wrapping a bow around a belly with a tag that reads: do not open until 2013, you’re left feeling guilty that you aren’t more thankful for what you have, yet wondering if you’ll ever get the chance to do the same.

Last Christmas was hardest because we had 2 years under our belts and I was too sucked in to truly appreciate any forward movement that presented itself sperm count or treatment wise. We didn’t even put up a tree I was so bah-humbug about the whole thing. The icing on the cake was when a new cycle  made itself known on Christmas morning. This isn’t to say I wasn’t able to find some light in the holiday season at all – I had a really successful 20 mile run in training for my marathon, catching up with old friends and even some humor when using a spatula to clean ice off my car window. But it was all with the nagging in the back of my head I seemed unable to switch off. Sometimes I think back and wonder how much I missed.

This year was a big year for us – for reasons that I still don’t completely understand I was finally able to let go a little. And, as luck would have it our first IVF cycle was successful. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. But when this holiday season rolled around I found myself more ready to celebrate and decorate. Given the successful cycle this probably comes as no surprise, however, I still remember without reminder how much the holidays can really suck.

As I get older getting things for Christmas becomes less important. This Christmas I wish I could grant a BFP and a healthy baby to everyone dreading Christmas because of the cards they have been dealt.  All I want for Christmas is a baby for everyone trying so hard to have one. (and of course, healthy babies of my own). Unfortunately, I don’t have this kind of power.

But we can always hope, right?

hope

Hold Please

You know how sometimes, when you make a phone call, someone promptly answers but then somewhat unexpectedly asks you to please hold?

At first you say “sure, no problem”, expecting it will (hopefully) only be a couple of minutes. The elevator music in the background is somewhat amusing, however you still wonder to yourself what sane person would have such lame taste in music.

After a few minutes, the elevator music starts to go from amusing to annoying. No one has come back on the line yet, but you don’t want to hang up for fear of calling back and being placed on hold again. What if you’re mere seconds from being answered?

A few more minutes go by and you start think this is getting ridiculous. Have they forgotten I am on hold, here? And would you please turn this ridiculous music off?

Finally, after long enough you just hang up the phone, too annoyed to speak politely to whatever customer-service-person-who-probably doesn’t-like-their-job-much-anyway answers the phone. For now you have other things to do, you’ll call back later.

I guess I finally got tired of being on hold.

When Bryan shared his most recent sperm count news, I’ll admit I was a little less than thrilled at first – only because this meant changing plans for a second time, once again when I finally got used to Plan B. And the transition time that it took to adjust from Plan A to Plan B was probably longer than it should have been. I expected the same results adjusting to Plan C (keep waiting) but something clicked or set differently in my brain this time around, and suddenly I no longer cared to pin down a Plan D (when will we do the IVF).

Perhaps Bryan’s normal SA accounts for some of this – in all the time we’ve been trying I’m not sure we’ve ever had a normal amount of sperm to work with, so it seems silly to spend all that money without seeing if our own bodies can do the job. Maybe I finally got tired of planning. Maybe I just finally sub consciously realized that it’s really out of my control. Whatever the reason, before I left for Ohio I finally decided to hang up, so to speak. I told him to go ahead and use some savings to build the fence we’ve been putting off forever because we didn’t know if we’d need the money. I realized when I got back from my trip that I’d made it through the whole weekend without obsessing about fertility.

I attended a baby shower and genuinely ooohed and ahhhed over the cute baby clothes without wondering when I’d have my own. We went out and had a few drinks without my worrying about how much we were spending. We’ve talked about refinishing the floors (gasp, spending more money) downstairs, getting a storm door, or just doing a few of the smaller things around the house we’ve been wanting to do since we bought it a year and a half ago.

When I got home from Ohio, Bryan had built me a fence:

And I don’t regret the decision to spend the money one bit. It’s been freeing. I’m thinking about a small trip we can take this summer and maybe I’ll take one of those PTO days I’ve been saving. Maybe I’ll get my hair done or get a pedicure.  For now, I have no idea when Plan D will take place.

And for now that is ok. I have hung up the phone. I’m going to enjoy life for a bit, and I’ll call back later.

When Your Friend is Infertile….

Not too terribly long ago, I attempted to touch on one of the somewhat sensitive subjects of infertility – sharing a pregnancy announcement to someone who has been struggling for awhile in my post A letter to the editor.

Unfortunately, since I still only have a one sided view right now, I don’t feel like I expressed myself very well.

Another blogger friend, Daydreaming In Progress recently linked her blog to a post.

This third blogger, Elphaba, has seen both sides and tackled the question of how to deal with the topic of your own pregnancy and children to an infertile friend.

While I like to think that I’m a decent writer…….at times…… there is no way I could have said it better. I’d rather you read it than my incessant blabber so click below:

So What’s a Fertile To Do?

Be Patient

Currently, my two least favorite words in the English language.

 

Bryan went back into the endocrinologist today after his most recent donation to science. Before I continue, let me explain that we have been to a fertility doc, and Bryan also has benefits through the VA. Testing done at the VA is free, so that is usually where we go, but have done some testing and consulting through the fertility clinic also. Back in August, the VA agreed to fund HCG shots in attempts to create more sperm. This man at the VA specializes in hormones, not fertility.

We’ve seen slow, but steady progress. This most recent visit resulted in the following words being uttered yet again: be patient. Your hormone levels look good, you are progressing. (whatever that means, we didn’t get a sperm count number)

Sigh.

According to him, the current plan is to continue on the same level of HCG, increase it in 2 months if necessary and in 6 months add FSH if needed. He actually said to Bryan that we could get pregnant where we are. That he wouldn’t recommend an IVF right now because its too early.

What? Our RE told us that at our current count, our only option is IVF (besides a miracle of course, and yes, he told us to be patient too). He doesn’t even recommend IUI until we have 20 mil sperm, and the last number we got was half that. I just feel like I’m getting two separate sets of recommendations. Bryan’s hormone levels are currently within normal levels. Per our RE, adding additional hormone to an already normal hormone level wont likely make that much of a difference. That makes alot of sense to me. VA doc says, lets keep going! Lets add more! You’ll get more sperm! You can have babies now!

What’s the freaking answer? I’m going to the next appointment, because I’m confused.

Bryan thinks we should let the endocrinologist do this thing. I.e. be patient. He thinks jumping to IVF right now would be a bad decision, but also that if it’s driving me crazy…..then he trailed off and said he didn’t know what to do either. (at least its not just me)

I just don’t know what I want to do. We could go through the next 12+ months of hormone tx and be right where we are a year from now. We could dig up money for an IVF, and it could fail. Or, we could have been able to get pregnant on our own and never know it. And what sucks the most? There is no way to know. There is just no freaking way to know. And I hate that.

I do know this: I’m impatient. I’m 29, so yes, I still have time. I’m tired of watching my friends’ families grow. I’m tired of peeing on sticks. Of planning sex. Of being stressed over it. Of watching Bryan be stressed over it because I’m stressed over it. Of talking about it. Of thinking about it. Of crying about it. Of worrying about the money for it. Right at this moment I’m ready to take the money I have in savings, do some house repairs or take a vacation or something and just say F#$% IT!

I think, at least, it might be time for a break.

 

A letter to the editor

To Whom It May Concern,

As someone who is infertile, its inevitable that I’m going to watch friends, aquaintences and enemies alike announce pregnancies, post pictures and birth announcements and celebrate birthday parties.

Well, my enemies are my enemies, so you just do your thing and I’ll never add you as my friend on Facebook 🙂

But to my friends I’d like to try to explain myself.

TTC starts out hopeful. It’s fun. You discuss nursery themes and baby names with your husband, boyfriend, partner, what have you. You know it shouldn’t take long. But as the time goes by frustration sets in. A couple of your friends are pregnant and you’re happy for them. You know its your turn soon, so its ok.

More time passes. It becomes more like a science. Temperatures, pee sticks, scheduling…uh…extracurricular activities. Aunt Flo is becoming less of a mild annoyance and more of a nuisance that won’t go away. More friends announce pregnancies. You put off a visit to the fertility doctor, because that’ll confirm something is wrong. But that’s not how it works. You fall in love, get married, and have a family. Isn’t that how it goes? Why is it working for others but not for me?

A diagnosis is made now. It provides some comfort to know what’s wrong, but frustration because now building a family has turned into a science experiment. More months go by, more friends announce pregnancies, some their second, maybe even third. You’ve peed on enough sticks to fill an industrial size trash can, and they’re all negative. Hope is still there because you’d quit trying if it wasn’t,  but so is sadness. Because its really hard to watch others’ get what you’ve been trying so hard for. And because the path now to get it has become increasingly more difficult.

I just say that so you get where I’m coming from.

(Fair warning though: if you tell me that pregnancy sucks, you feel fat, or to relax and it’ll happen, I’ll probably roll my eyes at you :))

It makes me bitter sometimes, I’ll admit. I’d be lying if I said it never bothered me. I’m not mad at you though, its the situation that frustrates me. It’s an interesting mix of emotions to feel happiness for someone else and sadness for yourself. My excitement about your news is genuine. I’m just sad because I want it, too. (Plus I mean, I’m gonna find out eventually. It’s only a matter of time before “I swallowed a basketball” becomes a lame excuse). I still want to know that things going well, how you’re feeling and whether you’re having a boy or a girl. I still want to be invited to the baby shower. I still want to visit the baby when he or she is born. I don’t want infertile to mean uninvolved.

Some days are harder than others. Holidays are tough. AF’s visit is tough. I’m going to apologize in advance if it seems like I’m ignoring you that day or walk out of a room mid way through a conversation, particularly if it involves babies. I’m probably just having a crappy day. Infertility frustrates the crap out of me, but I don’t want it to turn me into someone who is going to get mad at the mention of the word baby. There will be days that I don’t deal with it very well. There will probably be days when I’m irritable and mouthy. There will be days that I don’t say anything, but don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s probably

At the end of it all, though, I still want to be a friend.

Sincerely,

The infertile

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ho Ho Humbug

I love holidays usually. And birthdays. My birthday typically involves my running around reminding everyone that my birthday is coming up and asking people to do things for me because its my “birthday week”.  I love buying Christmas presents (though I’m horrible at wrapping them) and the big dinners and parties and cookies.

Not this year. I am not into the holidays at all.

                                                                 (Thanks Pinterest)

I’m looking forward to seeing my family and visiting with friends I haven’t seen in awhile, but I don’t feel like decorating, I don’t care to make cookies, and parties? No thanks.

My Christmas spirit seems to have run away. Probably with my patience.

I feel like a Scrooge.

I guess it’s because, no matter how good I’ve been this year, Santa is probably not carrying a baby in his sleigh.

Bryan gets his results from his 4th SA on Wednesday. Hopefully Santa can at least bring me some good news.

 

 

Gonna be a long ride

I spend alot of time in my car.

Which is odd because I really don’t like to drive. But since I graduated and started working I’ve had jobs that have required either alot of driving or long commutes. Since I bought my car in April of 2009, I’ve put 62000 miles on it.

That’s alot of driving. Granted, its not all work. It’s been driven to Florida, Ohio, and most notably a trip this summer for some continuing education. I woke up at the hotel the first morning and walked out to my car to find this:

Yeah, that’s underwear. And no, its not mine. Baxter and I (yes, I named my car….don’t judge) have obviously been through alot together.

For my current job I spend about 60% of the time seeing kids in clinic, and 40% of the time either seeing them in their home, or traveling to or from. Fortunately or unfortunately, this leaves me with quite a bit of time to think. Admittedly, I spend alot of it worrying. Mostly about infertility and whether I’m emotionally and financially strong enough for what it might take to have children. Actually it kinda cycles by my cycle. Early on I’m bitter, then hopeful as we move towards ovulation, as we move towards the end I’m a variation of hopeful and sad for the arrival of my unwanted visitor. I’ve imagined so many pregnancy announcement scenarios that I’m pretty much covered if I decide to become like the Duggars. Be prepared, right?

I’m two days from D-Day, and I’m tired of preparatory sadness (yeah, I really do that). So I need to distract myself. In the early morning the radio is a good distraction. I enjoy listening to a local morning show and chuckling at the daily “phone scam”. After that, though, it’s all kind of hit or miss.

Take today for instance:

For the most part I listen to Top 40 type stations. Except I’m pretty sure I don’t hear 40 different songs. Just the same 10 on repeat. I’ve heard Adele so many times that it makes a downlowd-so-I-can-learn-the-words completely unnecessary. After hearing “Move like Jagger” for the 387634th time, I decide it’s time to move on. (moooooooooooove like Jagger!)

Click.

My windows are down so I can’t really hear the music right away. Then I realize I’ve stumbled upon one of the stations that plays nothing but Christmas music from November on. And, ironically, is playing “Its beginning to look alot like Christmas”. Except its 75 degrees outside. (NOT complaining!) It’s been uncharacteristically warm here lately, and if it weren’t for the dead leaves floating around and the invention of the calendar, I would have thought it was Spring. I think we need to write an Its Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas, South Carolina version:

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas

Shorts in every store

Take a look at your snowy globe

Drive around with it as you go

Cuz that’s the only way that you’ll see snow

(again, not complaining…..I hate snow. But really, its not beginning to look anything like Christmas in this weather)

Click.

Commercials. UGH. I swear, too, that every station plays commercials at the same time on purpose. Unfortunately multiple clicks later, I’m still listening to commercials. And its trying to get me to buy a car. I’m good to go for awhile, luckily (and even have some spare underwear), but even as much as I try to tune them out, I can’t help but catch some of it. And it’s claiming that it will approve anyone with a job who makes $300 a week! No credit check!

Anyone else no longer confused about why we are in a recession?

To digress a bit, for some reason this reminds me of the TV commercials for antidepressants and the like. “I was still depressed until my doctor recommended such and such and then I really felt better.” Well, that’s awesome (seriously) but then there’s the laundry list of side effects (tell your doctor if you experience tremors, suicidal tendencies or symptoms of stroke….). Yeah, sign me right up.

Actually, maybe they are onto something. You know what commercials could use that disclaimer? Target. Can anyone else not go into Target for 1 thing and come out with 6? I can see it now…..la de da….sale at Target. Then disclaimer (only bring cash if you cannot keep control of your credit card. Maybe shoppers have reported experiencing “how did I end up with this much stuff?” syndrome. This was particularly prevalent in teens and women in their mid thirties….)

Okay, back on topic.

Once I’m finally able to find a (or half of) a good song, I sing along. Whitey Houston eat your heart out. I’ve just about finished my performance and am accepting my thunderous applause when I realize something.

Huh. You know what? I’m at my destination.

Well, maybe it’s a bit delusional but at least I’m not worrying anymore.

 

 

Week 9 – What were you thinking?

Week 9 – 13 miles (halfway there!)

Today, I ran alone.

My running buddy hurt her leg last week. I got a text earlier in the week saying she flipped over the handlebars of her bike and was, understandably, injured. I haven’t heard the whole story yet, but I can only assume it involved something heroic like trying to save a stranded dog 🙂

So, while she is recovering, I went solo.

                                                           I am sad.

Today is a summary of what I was thinking – and by that I don’t mean “you’re running 13 miles and nothing is chasing you, what the heck were you thinking?!”, even though I’m sure that’s the response of most.

I woke up this morning at 6am and couldn’t go back to sleep (nice). I stayed in bed till 7 thinking about how I didn’t really feel like running, which certainly wasn’t helping me sleep. Nor was it helping my motivation to get out of bed and run in the first place. Contrary to what it may seem like, I actually don’t wake up in the morning and think “yay! Its cold! Its time to run for 2 hours! Yipee! Let me get my shoes! weeeeeee!” and run out the door basking in my positive glow.

Actually I think “ah, warm bed. Do not want to get up. Dog is snuggly, I am comfy. Screw you shoes….ok self get up, get up get up dang it!”

Since I’m on no set time schedule requiring me to meet someone or drive somewhere I spend a good 20 minutes procrastinating: Hey, I need to take a puff of my inhaler. Look a rogue sock, let put it in the laundry. Ugh, this counter is dirty, I’ll just wipe it off real quick. I can’t find my chapstick, lets go search for it. Someone may have texted me at 730am on a Saturday, let me go look. Oops, I forgot to take a picture of myself for the blog. Aw, my shoelaces aren’t tight enough, retie! Oh no I forgot a water bottle!

Then I finally made it out of the house.

One of the biggest challenges of long runs is, well, all of the time you have. Music helps, but you still have an awful long time with yourself.

I kind of have ADD brain when I run (ok, all the time) but generally speaking, this is how I kept myself entertained:

The first few miles I encouraged and demanded functionality of my reproductive system

And, sort of embarrassingly, thought of all kind of cute ways I could announce being pregnant assuming that day ever comes.

Then I started to take note of the random things strewn about on the side of the road, including but not limited to: a hub cap, pumpkin guts, several pumpkin halves (apparently throwing old pumpkins in the trash is not the cool thing to do), various garbage items, a skull (I actually stopped in my tracks for a sec until I realized it as fake – what a story that would have been), some random tubing that reminded me of a bong, and a flock of geese that I momentarily considered running across the street and scaring. I also considered crouching in the grass and trying to pop up and scare the next person to ran by, but then I realized I would be there for a VERY long time before that happened.

Then I started complaining to myself about how long the road was. Not that getting to the end would be all that exciting, it just meant I was turning into another road.

Then I tried to come up with funny lyrics to random songs but I was having trouble concentrating with other music in the background. All I could come up with is like 1/4th a verse to the tune of “Gangta’s Paradise” about the lack of shoulder on the road leaving me with minimal running room.

As I run down the road I try to avoid death

There’s a car coming at me

And there’s no room to my left

Hey….a pumpkin. So much for that.

I’m at about mile 9 now and the backs of my legs and butt are starting to tighten up. So then I’m trying to figure out why a distance I ran fine a few weeks ago is now giving me issues. I resolve to stretch more. (right)

The next mile or so is kind of a blank.

Then I run into a neighborhood and take note of all the houses for sale and take a mental note to check for rentals for a friend of mine. I’m in somewhat unfamiliar territory and panic momentarily when I realize I might be hitting a dead end and have to turn around making my run longer. Luckily, there was no dead end and my panic (as usual) was unnecessary.

The last 3 miles I spend alternating thinking about vising home for Christmas and the fabulous cupcake and coffee that I will be consuming when I get home. (it was fabulous). And of course throughout I was totally writing this blog in my head. Its really not as organized as I make it sound either. Its more like:

I wonder who I’ll get to see when we go home for Christmas. Should we do presents this year or not? Maybe I’ll take an extra day off. Wierd, a hubcab. What am I going to blog about today? I wonder if anyone reads the darn thing. My legs hurt. Come on ovaries, work with me, will you? Hey, geese. Maybe I should run across the street and scare them. Maybe I can work the day after Thanksgiving and take an extra day at Christmas. How the heck am I going to run 20 miles in Ohio? Dang, that car almost hit me. Hey, this house is for sale, I wonder if they are looking for renters. Make mental note to tell friend. My legs hurt. Why is this run making me tired? Mentally run through writing blog. Maybe I should try to make up a funny song. etc etc.

All I have to say is, next week is 17 miles, and thankfully (for all of us) I’ll have more than just my brain to keep me company.

9 million friends (and hopefully still counting)

Some good news today.

Last SA results:5.6 million sperm. 40% motility, 80% ABnormal

Today’s: 9.4 million sperm.20% motility. >70% normal.

It’s not a huge jump, but its something. Bryan said the endocrinologist told him he’s seen couples get pregnant with 9 million sperm. So I’m cautiously optimistic. Don’t get me wrong: an increase is positive. But here’s why I’m not jumping up and down yet:

The last visit we had with the fertility doc, he told us that functionally speaking, a difference of 5 million sperm and 10 million sperm is about the same when it comes to conception. In order for us to “qualify” for (i.e. be worth the money) an IUI, he recommends at least 20 million. So, even for that we’d need double where we are now.

He also said that he isn’t sure, since Bryan’s hormone levels are “low normal”, if adding more of the same hormones would make a huge difference, but he couldn’t say without seeing the numbers. So at this moment in time we’re still looking at IVF if we want a baby, but I’m definitely going to hold onto the endocrinologist mentioning he’s seen couples with 9 million sperm get pregnant on their own before. We sent the results to our fertility doc, and he gets more bloodwork done next visit to the VA, so we’ll see.

For anyone who is about the yell at me for being a “Debbie Downer”. I’m really not, I’m just trying to find a balance between being hopeful and being realistic. That, I’ve found, is not easy.

I’ve basically resigned myself to accepting that we are probably going to need IVF to have children, and am trying to prepare as if that’s the case. How I feel about this kinda varies depending on the day….but that’s a whole new post….however I will totally accept any magic baby or money fairies who would like to appear in front of me………………no? Drat.

At that, I leave you with this:

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