Friday, January 31, 2014

Third Time is a Charm???

We met the third and final new RE this morning.  We spent over 2 hours at the office with her, her nurses, and the financier.  (I don’t know if financier is accurate, but it sounds fancy.  Actually, I left after being there a little over 2 hours to get back to work, and Todd stayed to meet the fancy financier.  Thanks, honey.)

I would say that we are probably more confused with the same amount of hopefulness (or hopelessness, but I’m trying to see the glass half-full) but possibly headed down a decision path.
Dr. Shauna McKinney from Tulsa Fertility Center was the doctor of the hour today.  I have one friend that just used her in December and is now almost 10 weeks pregnant.  Dr. McKinney basically gave us an entirely new line of information.  I am now 100% certain that there has never been a reproductive endocrinologist share a medical book or train of thought with another reproductive endocrinologist.  Awesome.  <sense my sarcasm>

Here’s a rundown of what I remember learning today:
1.       Dr. McKinney told us that, first of all, my file is not complete from Dr. Bundren.  Thanks, Dr. B’s office for that help.  She said that it makes no sense why I’ve been stimulated with the large amounts of drugs that I have unless there is something they found in my blood work that she doesn’t have.  (This statement is funny for multiple reasons, but the strangest part is that Dr. Douglas in Dallas told us we were on a low amount of drugs, while Dr. Ahlering agreed with McKinney that it was a lot.)  Dr. Mc said she wouldn’t start patients on this amount of stim shots until they were in their 40s unless there was something really wrong with their ovaries.  However, she thinks that because I’m young, was on such high doses, and still only produced 9 and 12 eggs each cycle, I was being overstimulated; which means that my body didn’t know how to react to the high doses and kind of shut down (not the same as hyper stimulation for my IVF friends).  She says I should have been producing 25-35 eggs on those drugs at my age.  Again, awesome.
2.       She believes you can test egg quality to a degree with a blood test.  Dr. Ahlering said that’s not conclusive.  Ugh!  Anyway, she can also test my ovarian production with what they call an Ovarian Assessment Report (OAR).  Fingers crossed that this test is accurate.  I’m just not sure why Ahlering doesn’t believe in it.  I don’t remember what Douglas said about testing egg quality, but I’m pretty sure I have a friend that used him and said he does check it.  Different REs, I tell you!
3.       There is a blood test that can be run to tell what Todd’s testicular production is like.  I don’t really know what all of that means, yet, but it’s something we have never been told before.  Again, maybe this is another test that isn’t conclusive in some doctor’s eyes, but Dr. Mc seems to believe in it pretty strongly.
4.       All I need is a prenatal vitamin.  One of the funniest things she said was that for the last 18 months that I have been taking 21 pills each day, the only thing that was happening was I had $30/day urine.  That’s a lot of wasted money, but at least it made us laugh.
5.       They do not believe in giving sperm a shot of Pentox, which is what Dr. Bundren’s lab used to wake Todd’s sleepy sperm.  She said that they have different tests they can run on the sperm for viability, but they don’t like to give the sperm extra chemicals.
6.       She does have an acupuncturist in Tulsa she is recommending.  She said there are new studies being done on how acupuncture affects IVF.  However, I think she believes in this more for the relaxation than anything.  She said that as long as adding extra appointments to my schedule doesn’t stress me out, I should go for it…acupuncture, massage, yoga, back scratches, mani/pedis, trips to Jamaica…oh, wait, I think I’m getting carried away.
7.       The most interesting piece of information she shared with us is that Dr. Bundren should not have operated on my uterus back in August 2012.  I had a septum in my uterus that my records show measured at 12mm.  Septums should not be touched until they are 2cm, according to Dr. Mc.  Of course, Dr. Bundren would probably say that he has better results with IVF with absolutely no septum present or some other excuse.  However, it’s just interesting to learn that we may have endured 4 months of Lupron-induced menopause for nothing.  Sorry, Todd.  J  Dr. McKinney said she has never seen so many uterine septums as she has in Tulsa.  It’s something in the water.

I think that pretty much sums up our appointment with Dr. McKinney.  She’s a very sweet and patient woman.  She answered a lot of questions and in terms we could understand.  She knows a lot about Dr. Bundren and has dealt with many of his patients.

I don’t know if we really have a feeling about any of the doctors to lean us one way or another.  Picking one is kind of a crap shoot.  However, since Dr. McKinney is so much closer than Douglas and Ahlering, I think we are leaning towards her for right now.  We are both going to have the blood tests (my OAR) completed.  Todd’s will be on the first morning he is in town and hasn’t eaten.  Mine won’t be able to be completed until March. 

Oh, one interesting thing is the charges from these doctors.  Dr. Ahlering gets first place on being the least stingy by not charging us a dime for our consultation.  Dr. Douglas comes in second place with a mere $275.  Dr. McKinney is the nickel-and-dimer at $300 each, meaning $600 total for the consult.  Just an interesting piece of information for anyone considering a consult.

Now, we will just wait until our blood test results are returned.  More waiting, but who isn’t used to that by now?!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Empty Wombs and Empty Arms

I do not write this entry with the intent of it being sad.  I write it with the hope that everyone will remember there are two people in the infertility struggle.  Don’t forget about our partners.
Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about one theme that crosses my mind a lot…how much I love my husband.  It is near impossible for me to put into words how he makes me feel.  I just laid there listening to him breathe so peacefully and thinking about the words I had just heard in a wedding ceremony on TV.  (Yes, I watch The Bachelor and feel no shame. J)  The minister/father spoke about the wedding bands being made of precious metals and rare diamonds, signifying how precious your love for each other is and how rare your commitment to each other is.  Even those words don’t seem to portray how much I love this man.  When I’m with him, I just want to hug him and squeeze him and be intertwined in his arms and legs.  When he’s away, my chest physically feels full with emotion and longing for him.  When he travels, my eyes become leaky at the drop of a hat.  This man consumes me.  He’s my best friend and lover and confidante and soul mate and whatever else you can imagine a couple should be.  My biggest fear is not having enough time together.  My biggest goal is to make him feel respected and happy.  I love him with every fiber of my being.  I literally cannot get enough of him.

I say all of this to emphasize how special he is.  He has given me more than most men can even imagine.  I have not been quiet about telling people that whatever physical pain I have endured through our journey to make Baby Dori, Todd has undergone 10 times worse.  I have heard stories of husbands that won’t even talk about vasectomy reversals or sperm aspirations in order to have a baby with their wife.  Todd’s rare commitment is not lost on me.

The one thing I could never explain to anyone, though, is the emotional pain Todd has also suffered.  Unfortunately, I can’t explain it because I don’t fully understand it.  He is usually pretty good at sharing his feelings with me.  However, his inner need to be a rock for me and fix my problems sometimes hinders his ability to do that in this situation.  I have invited him to write an entry or multiple entries on the blog.  I’m not sure he feels comfortable with this just yet.  I would never pressure him to write on here.

However, there is a man that has written a blog entry from the spouse’s perspective.  If there is only one thing you take away from my entry today, let it be this:  this is not just a journey of the woman.  We may have empty wombs, but our husbands still have empty arms.


The Disgrace of Infertility
January 10, 2014
By Nate Pyle

This Christmas I preached through the Christmas story as told by Luke. For all the times I’ve read the story, I’ve never noticed this small line hidden in the middle of the Christmas narrative. But this year was different. This year, that small, innocent line refused to go unnoticed and forced me to see it.

After Elizabeth became pregnant with John, she praised God saying, “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

We know that disgrace. My wife knows that disgrace. I know that disgrace.


No, it isn’t the same type of disgrace that Elizabeth experienced. In that day, an inability to bear children was equated with sin. It was assumed that the reason for barrenness was your own doing. You must have done something. You must have something to repent of. Some sin you committed. Some reason God was withholding his blessing from you.


You created the problem by your disobedience, and now God is punishing you.

Thankfully, the shame of disapproving eyes and rumored gossip doesn’t surround infertility in America anymore. But shame still exists.

Shame grows with constant thermometer readings. Peeing on countless sticks. Needles. Probes. Tiny plastic cups. Forever counting days. Sex that feels mechanical and forced because “It’s time.”

Shame slips in with the silent words spoken as another, month pregnant only with hope, passes by. It is amazing how much silence surrounds the struggle of infertility. The silence of not wanting to talk about it. The silence of wanting to talk about, but being scared. The silence of trying to avoid the one thing you are wondering about, but not wanting to focus on it, and yet having your mind dominated by it. The silence of not feeling comfortable talking with others about it because it involves sex. The silence because you just don’t want to deal with the questions.

That silence gives shame all the voice it needs to whisper silently, “Something is wrong with you.”

Infertility is a shame-filled, silent trial, isolating couples in closed bedrooms of pain.

As a man, the pain of infertility is difficult to talk about it. While my wife and I walked through our experiences together, she felt the pain of not being able to conceive more acutely than I did. Pregnancy was failing to take place in her body. Even though the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us, she was the one scheduling the monthly ultrasounds. She was the one taking medications. She was the one physically being reminded every 28 days of the failure to conceive. The pain was much closer and much more tangible for her. And all I could do was stand back and watch. I felt hopeless. Unable to do what I normally do when situations aren’t what I want them to be: fix it.

We stood in the kitchen having the same discussion we’ve had every month. The sadness was making Sarah cry and I stood there helpless. I hugged her, but I couldn’t do anything else. I couldn’t fix this. This was out of my control.

Helplessness is not a feeling I do well with.

As I held my crying wife, I didn’t cry, but quietly grieved and pulling back from hope. The grieving brought on by infertility is different than other grief I have experienced because you do not grieve what was lost, but what never was. At some point you start grieving for what never will be.

Men don’t talk often about infertility. My guess is that, if we started the conversations, a lot of guys would feel helpless. When people dream of starting their family, no one sees years of disappointment and frustration as part of the process. No, when we dream of starting our family it is a nice and tidy schedule. “First we will go off birth control, then in 3-6 months we will get pregnant.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

Instead those struggling with infertility find themselves dealing with resignation, bitterness, anger and exhaustion.

Exhaustion from fighting to hold on to hope.

Infertility is a brutal cycle that steps on hands gripping hope. The cycle begins each month with hope only to be followed by disappointment.


False alarm.









At any point in this cycle you are constantly reminded of what you cannot do by running into countless pregnant women in the grocery story, at church, or at the gym.

Church is a good place to find support, but it isn’t always a tower of refuge. The American church is one place in our culture where marriage and kids is an expectation. Singles are constantly met with questions about when they will get married, and unnecessarily pitied or prayed for when a potential spouse isn’t in the picture. Young married’s are bombarded about when they will start having kids, as if their marriage doesn’t really matter until a child validates it.

Around church, having kids is talked about as if it is like scheduling a tune-up for your car. “Isn’t it time the two of you start having kids?” is one of the most painful questions a couple dealing with infertility can hear. Because thats exactly how they feel! It is time for them to start having kids. They’ve been hoping and praying and wanting and waiting for a long time for God to respond to their request. So yes, it is time, but no, kids don’t show up on a time table.

My wife and I struggled for 14 months before we surprisingly found ourselves expecting our now 3 year-old son. We were literally starting to have all the testing done the next month when my wife woke me up with the news that she was pregnant.

So many couples never wake up to that news.

It’s now been over two years that we have tried for another child. Two years and an ectopic pregnancy that we had to end. I’m not writing because my wife and I have discovered some secret to living with infertility. I don’t think there is any. I’m not writing because I have some great pastoral wisdom to help comfort those who are struggling with infertility. In fact, I don’t even know how to end this post. All I have is this:

You are not alone. Your struggle may be in silence, but you are not alone.

I don’t have a magic Bible verse of comfort, or prayer of peace, or words of wisdom, or any answers.

I only have “me too.” Us too. We know. We understand. And we mourn with you.

So may we, together, accept that there is nothing wrong with us and see we are simply sharing in the human experience – which is simultaneously beautiful and painful, disheartening and hopeful.


Words cannot express how much I adore you, Todd Provence.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Did you hear the Heavens open yesterday and the angels sing as I received my 70-page fax from Dr. Bundren's office?!  I did!!!  I was able to hand-deliver a copy of my file to Dr. Ahlering last night.  It was awesome!  I digress...

Last night, we had our consultation with Dr. Ahlering.  He is the RE that practices in Tulsa and Columbia, Missouri, but currently lives in St. Louis where he is about to end a non-compete contract.
The first bad news we received is that he does not plan to do anymore cycles (after the one he is here for this week) in Tulsa.  He’s going back to doing them only in St. Louis until at least 2015.  Oh, buggers!  That means we would still use his OBGYN, Dr. Nilson, to do our blood work and ultrasounds.  Then, we would have to travel 6 hours to him for the retrieval and transfer.  It’s not the worst option in the world, but it sure makes you wonder.  I just wish there were more than 2 options for clinics in Tulsa.  Le sigh.

The good news is that was the only bad news we received last night.  Yippee!

Our appointment with Ahlering went really well, overall.  He’s very long-winded, which we didn’t know going into the appointment but loved.  It was kind of humorous after the appointment how overwhelming all of the information was.  We spent almost TWO HOURS with him.  Sadly, he had an appointment after us, so I have no idea how long they were waiting by the time we left.  Oops!  Sorry, mystery couple.

Anyway, as I said, he gave us a lot of great information!  Basically, he thinks I was stimulated all wrong in my previous cycles.  He would start me on a Lupron shot for 7-10 days before moving to the stim shots like we have done before.  When he said that, Todd said, “Oh no!”  (Remember, I was on Lupron for 4 months at the end of 2012.  It was a miserable time in our lives with my depression kicking in at an all-time worst for our relationship.  Other fun side effects were hot flashes and night sweats.  Todd still tells people he’s surprised I didn’t spontaneously combust during that 4 months.  Ha!)  Anyway, Ahlering quickly reassured him that this would be a much different form of Lupron with much different side effects.  I think he meant that this round, my head would just spin in circles.  No big deal.  Much better than some sweating.  J  Also, he would change the amount of stim shots I would take in order to produce more eggs than what we have in the past.

He said he does not believe my endometriosis has done anything to harm my eggs.  He does not believe I have PCOS, which I have been told I do and I don’t by different doctors.  He thinks my eggs are just fine, but we need to get more of them in the right follicle size to improve our chances.

The other big change he would make would be Todd’s side of things.  During our first cycle, they used MESA (Microepididymal Sperm Aspiration) to obtain his sperm.  Second cycle, we used frozen sperm from the first cycle.  Dr. Ahlering prefers to use TESA (Testicular Sperm Aspiration).  This is more invasive and painful.  Poor Todd.  Without going into a whole lot of detail, he thinks that the quality of the sperm they extracted before was poor.  He thinks that getting younger sperm from the testicle instead of older sperm from the epididymis will give us sperm with better DNA make-up.  He said something about the DNA quality can start to lower when the sperm is stuck in the system for so long due to the blockage of the vasectomy.  It’s hard to remember his exact words, but it was the first time that an RE has talked to us so much about the sperm.  He seems to be more into researching that than the others we have met.  Our only concern was that he couldn’t remember the name of the urologist he uses in Tulsa.  That is because they have only done approximately 2 TESA procedures in the last year.  However, he did know the urologist’s name we would use in St. Louis for our actual procedure.  I’m not sure if that gives me any extra confidence or not.

Also, he told me to just take an over-the-counter pre-natal vitamin.  I’m pretty stoked about lowering my number of daily pill intake.  Whew!  Plus, he said that he doesn’t believe acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, yoga, or any other relaxation technique increases your chances of IVF working.  He said that if they lower your anxiety and make this process less stressful, go for them.  However, don’t do them if you think it’s going to improve your chances.  I asked him to insist I still get my massages, though, to which he smiled.

I think the one thing we really learned last night is that there are no reproductive endocrinologists that are alike.  So far, we have been given three different stories.  If we were overwhelmed before, we are more overwhelmed, now.  The good thing is that I woke-up this morning with a peaceful feeling.  We have one more consultation next Friday with a doctor that does cycle in Tulsa.  After that, I have a feeling that we might be throwing a dart at a dartboard to decide who to use.  If that doesn’t work, we’ll choose a different doctor for our fourth cycle.  What’s hard is when you realize you’re starting to discuss cycle 4 before cycle 3 has even happened.  Is that us losing hope and being pessimistic or us learning to be realistic and go into these cycles with back-up plans?  I like to think it’s the latter.  Back-up plans may be what helps me keep my sanity!  Plus, the better prepared we are, the less wait time there is in between cycles.
On a completely different note, I decided to do some research into Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine.  My cousin brought them to my attention this week, and I’ve been following the blog of a girl who goes to them.  They are supposed to be the most well-renowned IVF clinic in the states.  Maybe the world.  ???  Anyone want to guess what they cost?  $25,000-$30,000 for one cycle, not including Todd’s MESA/TESA procedure.  That’s roughly $12,000-$17,000 more than we pay in Oklahoma.  What?!  I’m putting them on the list for cycle 10.  If we haven’t found a Midwest doctor to get us pregnant in the first 9 cycles, we’re going to Colorado!  Ski trip, anyone?!  J
I might have used this one before, but I like it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Voted “Least Likely to Call You Back”

“Most Likely to Be Sidetracked” – Also a good title that I am sure Dr. Bundren’s staff all received in their high school yearbooks.  J  Last week, Todd and I jumped through hoops…literally like dolphins…to make sure we had our release forms back to Dr. Bundren on Tuesday.  That way, they would fax our file over to all 3 of our future consultations on Thursday or Friday, the days they have set aside to do administrative work.  I’m not kidding that they only do this on 2 days each week.  Anyway, on Friday just after lunch, we learned that the office had already closed for the weekend and my file had not made it to our Monday appointment.  I texted Mary Kathryn to tell her we had to have that file by Monday morning.  Basically, I was told that the office was closed, they were not opening on MLK Day, and my file would be faxed the following Thursday.  Really?!  That’s THREE DAYS TOO LATE!!!  The best part was that I didn’t even receive an apology.  I felt like a girl who just went on a really awesome date, waited patiently for 3 days for the guy to call (stupid rule), and nothing ever happened…not even an explanation as to why he wasn’t calling.  I was so frustrated and hurt.  If I had a picture of the staff, I might have turned it into a dartboard.  However, as I’m slowly learning, I realized that this was completely out of my control, and worrying about it would just ruin a fun evening with Todd.

Luckily, that missing file didn’t hurt us too much at our consultation.  We met Dr. Douglas, the Dallas doctor, on Monday morning.  He was much more personable than we had expected, so that was a great surprise.

He wasn’t pessimistic about our chances, but he wasn’t over-the-moon that he knew he could get us pregnant.  Basically, he said my eggs were acting like little, old ladies (ouch!) and Todd’s sperm were sleepy.  I didn’t write it down, but I thought he told me that he thought I had Decreased Ovarian Response (DOR).  When I googled that, though, Decreased Ovarian Reserve kept popping up, which is super depressing, so I’m not going back there.  Moving on…he isn’t sure that Todd’s sperm aren’t showing some issues that are also causing the IVF to not be successful.  He said that having to use the medication to wake them wasn’t a great sign, where we were told previously that it wasn’t a big deal.  Also, he would not have trusted the frozen sperm (for cycle 2) after they had to be awoken with the drugs before they were even frozen.  Awe, potential wastes of time and money.  Awesome.

He did tell us that he thinks it’s worth one more shot, but he doesn’t recommend we waste our time on anything past 3 cycles.  We had informally assumed we wouldn’t go past 3 cycles when we started this journey; honestly, we didn’t think we would even need 3 cycles to get pregnant.  However, once you get to your third cycle, thinking about giving up after that one is overwhelming.  That is not a decision that will be made today or even tomorrow.

Dr. Douglas did suggest changing my vitamin protocol to something simpler; he’s only recommending I take a prescription prenatal vitamin and keep taking my Co-Q10, Vitamin D, and Metformin.  Also, he wants me to stay on my birth control until one or two months before we decide to cycle.  Then, on the month we are going to cycle, he’ll put me back on the BCP for 10-14 days at the beginning of the cycle.  This will help my ovaries to wake-up a little before the cycle and then my ovaries to suppress and allow the eggs to start developing at the same rate during the cycle.  It’s all a wonderful work of ART (pun intended; ART = assisted reproductive technology).  Anyway, my shots will basically be the same as they were with Dr. Bundren.  Todd and I have a teensy-tinsy bit of renewed hope after meeting Dr. Douglas, though.  I think just hearing that there will be some changes have us thinking that we might find a doctor that can get us pregnant this time.

On a slightly different note, Dr. Douglas’ office staff has been voted most likely to be the best doctor’s office staff ever!  After our appointment, I had a question about the dosage I should take on the Co-Q10 pills.  I called, Vicki (the receptionist) answered, she put me on hold, and within 1 minute, she came back to give me an answer.  WHAT?!  That has never happened to me at any doctor’s office!!  I was blown away, flabbergasted, bumfuzzled.  Todd was stoked!  J  Score one for Dr. Douglas’s office.

If it weren’t for the added cost and stress of having to travel to Dr. Douglas, we might have already found our new reproductive endocrinologist.  Le sigh.  Tonight, we have our appointment with Dr. Ahlering, who is the doctor that practices in Tulsa, St. Louis, and Columbia, Missouri.  Fingers are crossed that these consultations just keep getting better!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Future

I want to start this entry by stating that I think Dr. Bundren is a fantastic IVF doctor…despite his inability to get me pregnant.  Also, I love his entire staff and think Mary Kathryn is quite fabulous, too…despite their continued issues with returning my calls.  However, Todd and I have decided to expand our options and see what else is out there.
Over the next 2 weeks, we have consultations with 3 new reproductive endocrinologists in Tulsa, Dallas, and St. Louis/Columbia, Missouri.  I’m excited and anxious and just ready to get to February 1, so we can discuss how we feel about our future with IVF.  We are not set on switching doctors, but we have to consider it.  Dr. Bundren cannot even see me for a follow-up consultation until February 25.  Plus, his staff did not fax my file to the doctor we are meeting on Monday, despite their promise to do just that.  I’m hoping to have a better feeling about another doctor by the time he can see me.  Fingers are crossed.

Also, after we have our IVF plan nailed down (or have finalized our decision to move past IVF), we will begin looking into the adoption process.  We have several friends who have offered to share with us the information they have from researching or actually adopting.  If we decide to go through with another IVF cycle, we are hoping to have an agency/attorney picked for adoption before we start our cycle.  That way, we will have a back-up plan ready to go once the IVF has finished, if necessary.  This is the first time we will have a back-up plan in place when we do an IVF cycle.  Maybe it will remove some of the pressure.

Our last option is to leave all of this behind and move on with our lives as parents to Kaleb, Taylor, and Kamie only.  I doubt that we will be follow that route at this time, but it’s still an option.
Please, keep us in your thoughts as we make this big decision over the next few weeks.  It could be the decision that gives us a biological child or not.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Who Am I?

Last week, Todd went to see one of our favorite people in the world, our therapist.  For anyone in the Tulsa area, I will now do a shameless plug and tell you that I would highly recommend you consider meeting Dr. Maribeth Blunt.  I know I’ve mentioned her before, but we really can’t tell you how awesome she’s been for us the last couple of years.  I actually had 2 things happen to me this weekend that both made me think, “Man, I have Maribeth to thank for helping me get there.”  (I’m going to go send her a thank you email.  J)

Anyway, as I was saying, Todd went to see her…by himself.  This was his first solo session, and I think it was a fabulous idea.  When we were sharing some of the items they discussed, it seemed a prominent one was how you can travel down the path of infertility without letting it define you.

This is something I’ve thought about a lot since his appointment, but I’m afraid I’m no closer to an answer.  Infertility is consuming.  It’s pretty much in my head all of the time.  I try to stay busy, but there is always my little Jiminy Cricket in the back of my head reminding me that we are still on this journey with no end in sight.  I’m pretty sure that if you asked any of my friends or family what the first word that came to mind when asked about me was, it would be “infertility.”  Yikes!  I’m becoming “that” girl.  The one saving grace in my opinion is that I don’t talk about it at work (even though it’s always on my mind), so there’s one group of people not constantly pitying me.  J
Honestly, though, I don’t know how to change this.  I feel like the more I talk about infertility, the more I heal.  I enjoy being asked about it, so I can vent a little to someone new.  It is a part of my life.  It is a part of who I am.  It is my main project at this time in my life.  It is the thing holding us back from obtaining a major dream in our life.

However, I don’t want to become the multilevel marketing friend of infertility.  You know the one I’m talking about.  She’s the girl that you start to ignore calls and texts from because you know she’s going to invite you to the next Avon or It Works or Tupperware party she’s having.  I was that girl (Arbonne and Nerium Recovering Salesperson), and I don’t want to be that girl with infertility.  I don’t want my friends to dread seeing me for fear that all we will talk about is IVF.

I know I have control of my thoughts, so that makes me think that if I tried really hard, I could stop allowing this to define me.  Is it that easy, though?  Is it all I talk about?  Is it defining me, though, or is it just defining this moment in my life?  How do you know when enough is enough (of smothering your friends with your problems)?  How do I make sure my friends and family don’t start to ignore me for fear that I will invite them to my next IVF-Pity-Party?  Todd and I will have to work through these things together, but I would love any insight from those reading.

I do know one thing.  I know that if I were to die today, how I would want to be remembered.  We had this conversation with the kids, and Kaleb said he doesn’t want to be remembered as the guy that was just obsessed with cars.  I think it’s great that he’s already thinking about that.  As of this point in my life, I know this:
·         I want to be remembered as the girl with the big heart for everyone.
·         I want to be remembered for my compassion.
·         I want to be remembered for my peacemaking and peacekeeping.
·         I want to be remembered for my happiness and laugh and smile and joy that I bring to a room.
·         I want to be remembered for being able to find a silver lining in any situation.
·         I want to be remembered for the love I have for my friends and family, but most of all, my husband.
I think that’s how God would want me to be remembered, too.  Therefore, I’ve decided to make this year, the year I work on my soul.  I have set 5 resolutions for this year and only 1 will not help me with that goal:
·         Learn to control my anxiety
·         Be a better stepmother
·         Build my faith
·         Build relationships with couple friends
·         Get organized - This one isn't for my soul, but it will help with my anxiety!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Say Something

I realized last week why I had stopped blogging this last month.  As I had said, I started several blog entries in my head during that time.  However, I never started putting any of them on paper.  This blog entry was a prominent one that I kept thinking about how to write.  It’s something I want to share, but I also don’t want to sound sacrilegious.  As you can see, I’m going to take my chances.

I don’t know if anyone else finds meaning in songs like I do.  Sometimes, they are really farfetched, but I don’t care.  If I find a new song that has any meaning to me, I just go with it.  I love connecting to music.

Almost 2 weeks after we found out IVF round 2 didn’t work, I spent the day in Broken Arrow at the plant I used to work.  At the end of the day, I talked to a fellow co-worker for about 30 minutes about what had happened with IVF and my broken heart.  I confessed to him that I was struggling with my faith because I felt as if God had forgotten about me.

On the way home, this song came on the radio.


"Say Something"
by A Great Big World, featuring Christina Aguilera

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'll be the one, if you want me to.
Anywhere, I would've followed you.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I am feeling so small.
It was over my head
I know nothing at all.

And I will stumble and fall.
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
Anywhere, I would've followed you.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I will swallow my pride.
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
And anywhere, I would have followed you.
Oh-oh-oh-oh say something, I'm giving up on you.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
Say something...


(Now, by no means had I given up on the fact that God exists, even if I’ve questioned it; I choose to live by the motto that I would rather live my life believing He exists and die to find out He doesn’t than to live my life believing He doesn’t exist and die to find out He does.)

I immediately began sobbing.  All I could think was that this was how I was feeling about God.
And I am feeling so small.
It was over my head
I know nothing at all.
I'll be the one, if you want me to.
Anywhere, I would've followed you.

Small and irrelevant is how I was feeling God saw me…or didn’t.  I was feeling more confused and helpless and out of control than ever before.  All I wanted was to be able to fix all of this, and I thought that if I could ever find my way back into God’s graces, maybe things would start to become easier to handle, or at least understand.

For the next few days, I allowed myself to listen to this song on repeat and cry and cry and cry.  It started to become healing.

One night, Todd was asking if I had seen the song’s video.  I told myself that we were having a fun night, so I would watch it and not allow my mind to wander to thoughts of God, meaning I would end up in a mess of tears.  I just watched it and did a darn good job not thinking or crying.  However, when the video was over, I turned to look at Todd and found tears streaming down his face.  Within a matter of minutes, I was curled up in his chest in sobs.  I think the song held different meanings for us at the time, but he was feeling my pain the way I was feeling it.  Sometimes, the most unexpected cries are the ones that leave me with the most peace.  And the best cries come in the arms of the one that crawls into the valley with you.

Since then, I’ve been asking God a lot of questions.  I have started my search to figure out some answers I never had and some answers I didn’t realize I was looking for until recently.  Less importantly, I stopped listening to “Say Something.”  Although it had been healing at one point, I had decided I needed to do less crying and more surviving.

About a week ago, I wanted to hear the song, so I put it on repeat during one of my drives to work.  Without warning, the song changed meaning for me.  Now, when I hear it, I feel as if it’s how I feel about our unconceived child.
And I will stumble and fall.
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
And I will swallow my pride.
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye.

There are some days that I start to wonder if we have reached the end of our road for this journey.  I still don’t know when you will know that enough is enough.  For now, we aren’t giving up hope completely.  Each day is different, though, and there are still a lot of them that are full of doubt and rejection and failure.  On those days, in the back of my mind, I worry that if we give up now, it will be just one step short of when we would be getting our baby.  How many “just one more time”s can we do?!  When is it time to say goodbye to your dream and begin dreaming of a new life path?

For now, I still haven’t listened to this song without crying.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Infertility Etiquette

Hello, Blog World!

I realize I haven’t said anything in a month.  There’s a reason for that.  Perhaps it’s that I’ve started a dozen blog entries in my head and keep forgetting to put them on paper.  Perhaps it’s that my emotions change every couple of hours, so after I do get an entry started, it doesn’t seem pertinent anymore once I have time to complete it later that day.  Perhaps it’s that I don’t know what to say.  Perhaps it’s that I’ve been enjoying my month trying to pretend that our journey to obtain a baby is going precisely as we had planned.  [Sense the sarcasm.]  Perhaps it’s that I don’t want to focus completely on my grief in this blog.  Perhaps it’s that I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing, even though it’s my blog, and I should be able to say whatever I want.  J  Perhaps it’s a little of all of these things.  Or perhaps I’m just lazy.  Let’s go with that.

Regardless of the reason, I have a list of blog entries I would like to write over the next several weeks.  First, though, I’m going to start with an article that I didn’t write.  Good way to get going, again, huh?  I got this from a new blog friend, Kacy, at  I’ll be writing more about Kacy later.  I have only read a few of her blog entries thus far, and I admire her positivity through her journey with infertility.  She and I have a lot of similarities, I think, but at this point in our journeys, we are almost polar opposites on our attitudes.  Like I said, I admire her. 

Anyway, this is an article she posted that I feel is awesome.  It’s full of information that I wish I could have put together myself.  I think that all of my friends that have dealt with infertility would carry this article on their shoulders while singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”


Infertility Etiquette
Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn’t coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:
  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don’t Tell Them to Relax
Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she “relaxed.” Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as “just relax” or “try going on a cruise” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, “If you just relaxed on a cruise . . .” Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don’t Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone’s life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn’t tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father’s Day or Mother’s Day cards. (Excellent advice, per Laura.  J)  Losing that one obligation doesn’t even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don’t Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen
Along the same lines, don’t tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the “worst” thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the “worst” thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the “worst” thing that could happen.

People wouldn’t dream of telling someone whose parent just died, “It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead.” Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don’t tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don’t Say They Aren’t Meant to Be Parents
One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, “Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.” How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don’t you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn’t he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren’t religious, the “maybe it’s not meant to be” comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don’t Ask Why They Aren’t Trying IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man’s sperm in a petri dish. This is a method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, “Why don’t you just try IVF?” in the same casual tone they would use to ask, “Why don’t you try shopping at another store?”

Don’t Be Crude
It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don’t Complain About Your Pregnancy
This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don’t put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, “I’d gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby.” When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, “I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes.”

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends’ new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend’s emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can’t bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn’t rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don’t Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don’t follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn’t ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let’s face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to “dream” about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don’t Gossip About Your Friend’s Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband’s sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend’s privacy, and don’t share any information that your friend hasn’t authorized.

Don’t Push Adoption (Yet)
Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a “stranger’s baby,” they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy’s eyes and Mommy’s nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, “Why do you want to adopt a baby?” Instead, the question was, “Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?” Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn’t her “own,” then adoption isn’t the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, “Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.”) However, “pushing” the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say “I am giving you this baby,” there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn’t your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care
The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren’t going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother’s Day
With all of the activity on Mother’s Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother’s Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother’s Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother’s Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven’t “forgotten” them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments
No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don’t encourage them to try again, and don’t discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don’t try to open that chapter again.