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Friday, August 29, 2014

I made a mistake because I am Human

I have posted 73 blog entries prior to this one. All of which are about our journey to parenthood through the loss of our stillborn daughter and three first trimester miscarriages and through our failed IVF with PGD cycle and now on to our egg donor cycle. While yesterday's blog post was not the most read post out of all 73 entries, it certainly had the most comments both good and bad. The majority of the negative commentary was on the blog itself but some where on Facebook as well. I feel the need to address this today.

Reading back through yesterday's entry I realize how selfish I sounded. I did not talk about the other vehicle that I hit, making it sound like I was only worried about myself in this accident that I was the cause of. So I will start there. Here is a picture of the type of truck that I hit:

As you can see, this thing is a monster compared to my car. I am guessing my car actually went underneath the truck when I hit it. After the accident, when I got out of my vehicle and was having my panic attack, I was apologizing profusely to the two guys that were in the truck. Neither one of them had any injuries. By the grace of God we were all able to walk away with all of our limbs and our lives and their truck had very little damage-maybe a dent in the back fender from what I can remember. The guys were super nice to me and had to continue to tell me "these things happen-it could have been worse" because I could not stop crying and apologizing.

For the past three days I keep replaying this accident in my head. I keep beating myself up for making such a stupid decision with the eye liner. I keep thanking God that this did not turn out any worse than me having to get a new car when I really liked the car I had. When it all happened I kept thinking I have the most terrible luck ever...but in all reality I know I am extremely lucky that I did not hit a vehicle that had children in it or caused any injuries to anyone involved.

When I started my blog I vowed to myself that this would be a place where I would express myself in the most honest way possible. I said I wouldn't sugar coat anything. I am not proud of my actions, yet I was honest about them and I owned up to the horrible mistake that I made. Humility and Honesty go a long way and say a lot about a person. I am humiliated by my actions that caused the accident and I will take this experience and become a more responsible person because of it.

I know a lot of the comments came from a personal place. People told me about times when they were hit by another car and the severe injuries that the other person caused them because they were not paying attention or a family member who was killed in an accident. I appreciate you sharing those stories with me, but what I do not appreciate are the comments from people saying I should not have children because I am irresponsible and careless. That is taking things way to far.

We all have personal experiences that shape our feelings and actions. For example, I've lost 4 babies and I think abortion is a horrible thing. But I will never EVER call someone who has had an abortion a Baby Killer or tell them they don't deserve to have any future children because they chose to get rid of one they could have had. I also get angry that women who use drugs their entire pregnancy can seem to be able to pop out one kid after another and I've never done drugs or smoked cigarettes and can't seem to have even one child. But I would never EVER tell them they are a worthless POS mother who doesn't deserve the children she has.

For those of you that do not know me and my story but have passed judgement on me for my bad driving habits-shame on you. No one in this world is perfect. I know that I for one, am not. I know I make a lot of mistakes. I also know that I choose to learn from my mistakes. And more importantly I know I make a lot of selfless choices too and those who truly know me know that about me. I am not defined by what I did this week. I am not a criminal. I am human. And I am resilient. And I am constantly learning how to be better.

You are also not defined by a single one mistake that you have made. You have good qualities and you have bad qualities. We all do. I choose not to judge others based on one thing they did, but based on numerous things they have done. I would hope others would judge me the same way.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Guardian Angels, Thank you. Love, Mommy.

I've been holding off on writing any updates until we had found out if my sister was approved to be our egg donor. It's been a pretty bad eight days waiting on the email or phone call from our fertility clinic letting us know if she was or wasn't approved. I will talk more about that later.

I first feel like I should share that yesterday I was in a car accident and I feel incredibly grateful that I am still here to see another day. I know at times throughout this emotionally painful journey I get so depressed that I just wish God would take me to Heaven, some how in his own way, so I could be with my babies. I would never try to kill myself, ever. For numerous reasons but especially because I could not cause that kind of pain to my family. But I admit, I miss my own babies so so badly and I just want to be able to hold them in my arms for once.

Yesterday I woke up in a bad space. I felt off. I had woken up from a dream where I was being chased through New York City by a black man in a beat up black Cadillac and he was shooting at me with a black gun. At the end of my dream I was running through an ally and found a door which I opened to try to get away from this man. Inside the building was one empty white room after another. I just kept opening the doors and running through one room to another while the man chased me. I woke up right after I locked two doors behind me and was trying to figure out how I was going to actually get away from this man. When I woke up my heart was pounding like I was really running from this man. It felt like I was running from the grim reaper or the devil.

I got ready and headed to my acupuncture appointment. On my way there I was following behind a big black truck. I looked into the mirror and was applying my eye liner. I do my eye make-up a lot while I'm driving. I kinda thought I was a professional at it. But when I looked up to see the road ahead of me it was too late, I was slamming right into the back of the black Chevy duramax diesel truck. It happened so fast that I couldn't slam on my breaks fast enough. All I remember is the squealing of my tires, my windshield busting, and my airbag hitting me. When it was over my car was smoking so I jumped out of my car and didn't even turn it off. I ran to the side of the road and was crying hysterically while having a panic attack fearing the phone call I needed to make to my husband. I was so scared that he was going to want to kill me because I had just gotten a speeding ticket two days earlier and he wasn't talking to me (that wasn't the first speeding ticket I've had in the past year).

My husband didn't kill me. He was just happy that I was able to walk away with a few burns from the air bag and a couple bruises. I felt okay yesterday, just really shaken up emotionally and feeling like the world was just crashing around me. Today I am very sore in my upper body, especially shoulder area. I will say this is the first time that I am glad that I was not pregnant because I know a baby would not have survived a crash like that.

Yesterday my sister and niece came over to see me. We went to a store to see if they had any fall door wreaths for my sister and when we walked in the first thing I saw was a sign that said this:

How absolutely true is that? This was definitely a wake-up call for me. My purpose on this Earth is not done yet. My angels are not ready for me to come to be with them yet.

A few hours after the accident I got a voicemail from the fertility clinic. They said they were able to approve my sister to be our egg donor! What a relief! There was definitely a chance that she was not going to be approved based on her follicle scan last week and her follicle stimulating hormone being just below the required level. All week I've been racking my brain with the "what ifs" and running all our options through my brain just in case she was denied. I am glad we can focus on this option now and get to see where this will take us.

The only snag yet is to figure out how we are going to get the immunological treatment. I spoke to Dr. Braverman from New York twice last week and he came up with a reasonable treatment plan for me. We discussed options such as seeing if the other fertility doctor at the clinic we are going to would be willing to consult with him OR freezing our embryos and having them sent to him in New York where we could do the embryo transfer so he could prescribe the immunological treatment without having to consult with anyone else. We are fine with either option. I met with my OBGYN on Monday and she is agreeable to continuing the immunological treatment throughout my pregnancy as needed. She said she would also be okay with doing a diagnostic laparoscopy if that's what we want to do. So right now I am waiting for my fertility clinic to email me back to schedule my sister's last appointment with the doctor before she would begin medication and to let me know if the other doctor in the practice is willing to work with Dr. Braverman or if they would rather freeze our embryos and send them to New York for us. But I made it perfectly clear that one way or another we will get the immunological treatment. So now we wait to find out how that will be.

This weekend is our golf outing we are organizing for Baby Quest Foundation who will be donating the money we raise back to me and my husband to help us with the cost of this egg donor cycle and will be donating money to another couple in my community. I am looking forward to meeting new friends and people who follow my blog at this event! Thank you to everyone who has been donating also:) We love all the support!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Day of Hope? Or a Day of Hopelessness?

Carly Marie is a pioneer in breaking the silence around pregnancy, infancy, and child loss. She is woman who lives in Australia and known to woman around the world for her healing projects. She started a project called August 19th-Day of Hope. This project is for grieving parents around the world, giving them an opportunity to speak out about their children who have died and an opportunity to raise awareness about such a sensitive topic in society. The loss of a baby or child is becoming less "taboo" to speak about and the more we as grieving parents speak about our children the more we are able to heal. But no matter the time that has passed...we are always grieving for our children. We will always be grieving parents.

I did not get to participate in the Day of Hope. My day yesterday was compacted with a staff meeting in the morning, a doctors appointment in the afternoon, and work in the evening. To be honest though-I don't know that I would have wanted to participate after my horrible doctors appointment. It felt like a Day of Hopelessness for me, not a Day of Hope at all.

I first thought, how ironic. My sister's bloodwork to be screened to be our egg donor was falling on August 19th-A Day of Hope. It seemed fitting. After our conversation with my sister on Saturday she has been much more open with us and with this made me hopeful that our baby would come from her donated eggs.

Our trip to Cincinnati was fun. We picked on my niece on the way down because she was being so quiet. And my niece is RARELY quit. Then we stopped at a McDonalds that I had read online had a playland hoping to give my niece something to do for a little bit because I knew this was going to be a long day for a four year old. The McDonald's "play land" ended up being two computerized touch screens with games with little kids to play. Oh well. She had fun matching shapes on the bears belly. After we left McDonalds my niece was a hoot. She had us cracking up. She was so good during the doctors appointment too and just as funny on our way back to Dayton where I dropped my sister off to her car so she could take my niece school clothes shopping and I could go to work.

During the appointment my doctor did an internal ultrasound on my sister to check her follicles. She had 17. My heart kinda sank when the doctor told me this. He said "I expected to see more for someone her age but if we get 17 good eggs from your sister then that's a good thing." Well I know from experience not every follicle is going to stimulate (grow) and not every follicle that begins growing is going to be mature enough to retrieve an egg from it. Even when follicles are completely mature, the eggs retrieved from the follicle can still be immature and unable to be fertilized. Going in with such a low number does not give me hope that we will get a lot of eggs that will turn into a lot of good quality embryos to choose from. We won't know until early next week if my sister's blood work is good enough for her to be cleared as our egg donor. This is all very unsettling to me.

On top of this not so great news, comes some extremely terrible news. My fertility doctor is REFUSING to speak to Dr. Braverman, the reproductive immunologist from New York that did $4000 worth of testing on me and my husband. REFUSING. He does not agree with immunological testing or treatment. He does not agree with the few recommendations that I had told the nurse about, such as a laparoscopy to check for endometriosis, and does not care what his recommendations are as far as immunological issues and treatment. My doctor feels a laparoscopy has more risks for me then benefits. He said I probably do have a "small" amount of endometriosis as most women do but it has not prevented me from getting pregnant and has not caused me any issues if it is there. He said he would prescribe me Metformin if I absolutely want it but does not believe it will do any good for me either. He also said he would not start me on Lovenox injections before I had a positive pregnancy test with an increasing Beta result. So basically I would have to be 5-6 weeks pregnant before he would start me on Lovenox. Oh, and, by the way, IF my sister gets approved to be our egg donor and we want to get this done by the end of October so this does not fall around Thanksgiving or Christmas, my doctor will be in Hawaii with his wife on vacation so either the brand new doctor who just joined the practice and looks very young will have to do it or a doctor that my doctor didn't seem to have much respect for will have to do it. FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!

First of all, this has happened twice now. Both IVF cycles. The doctor we've worked with the whole time ends up being the doctor that can't do our retrieval and we end up getting someone who does not do as good of a job and has lower success rates. Second of all, I am so sick and tired of getting back into a corner by doctors. I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall and there is blood spewing everywhere but no one gives a damn. No one is hearing me screaming at the top of my lungs that the chromosome issues is only ONE issue and I am very confident that it is not the ONLY issue here. I'm so sick of hearing that "if we get you a healthy embryo I'm confident you will have a baby." Well I'M NOT CONFIDENT THAT I WILL. AND I CAN'T LOOSE ANOTHER BABY BECAUSE I WAS A HORRIBLE MOTHER AND DID NOT TRUST MYSELF ENOUGH TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF AND DEMAND THE MEDICAL TREATMENT I FEEL I NEED. I could not live with myself if I put my sister through a month work of injections and an egg retrieval and I don't end up carrying the baby she is helping us to create to full term. I could not live with myself if I lost another baby. What do they not understand about that? Reproductive Immunology is a new specialized field and might be the very answer to recurrent miscarriages/stillbirths and recurrent failed fertility cycles that end up leading people to be childless or adopt. Yes, there is limited research right now...but the research is being done and proving there are other issues that are causing these horrible things to happen to women.

I don't know for certain that I need the immunological treatment. But at the same time, what Dr. Braverman explained to us made so much sense. And I need to know that we put 100% into this egg donor cycle. Especially starting out with a low number of follicles which could result in having no embryos available for freezing. If there are no embryos available for freezing...this is our one and ONLY shot at this egg donor business.

I finally broke down crying on my way home from work last night. Life felt so hopeless to me. Between my sister possibly not being medically cleared and my doctor refusing to do the immunological treatments, I felt like I am NEVER going to carry a baby in me again. I'm tearing up just typing those thoughts out. I was so angry that I have to keep backing down and keep getting no where because I back down to doctors. I felt like if we do the egg donor cycle without immunological treatment we would suffer another miscarriage. I felt like if we did not do the egg donor cycle because our doctor would not do the immunological treatment we could be missing out on the possibility of 9 months of pregnancy and my husband having a biological child. I felt angry at myself because once again I started thinking our only option is to comply with what this doctor in Ohio wants us to do when its not the only option. I started thinking horrible thoughts that I'm ashamed to admit because of what I do for a living. I shouldn't have thoughts of wanting to die or wishing God would give me a heart attack or a stoke or terminal cancer so I go to Heaven and be with my children and stop worrying about having other children. I felt like a failure for my husband and then thought how selfish of me to want to die and leave him a widow. He's the only other one who knows how exhausting this is for us. He does not deserve to lose me too. He's already lost his father and three grandparents and his godmother and his only children.

Has anyone ever told you how much infertility sucks? It steals the life out of you. And for me, this is a literal statement. It has stolen four precious lives out of me.

This morning I told my husband I'm over this. I'm over it all. I'm over the heartache. I'm over the uncertainty. I'm over the money we've spent and planned to spend to try to have a child. I'm over the hormone medications. I'm over my newly irregular cycles because of the hormone medications. I'm over no one listening to us. I'm over the doctors who think they know everything there is to know about me. I'm over it. I'm over it. I'm over it.

He told me to "don't worry about anything right now" and once we know if my sister is approved to be our egg donor we will re-evaluate where things stand with all this. So I guess that's what we are doing. And if she is approved, and because our doctor won't be doing the retrieval or transfer anyways, I'm going to ask to meet with the other doctor in the practice who HAS sent a few of her patients to a reproductive immunologist in Chicago and see what she thinks. If she will work with Dr. Braverman, great. If she wants to send our lab results from Dr. Braverman's testing to the doctor she has worked with in Chicago, fine. I'm willing to get another opinion from someone who is a professor at a university and does research in reproductive immunology. Fine. But I need to know we have tried whatever we need to to make this work.

I want to thank everyone who has donated to our Give Forward online fundraiser. All of your support is amazing and getting us closer to our goal! You are not only helping me and my husband, but you are helping another deserving couple also. You are all so wonderful:)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Taking Care of Business

When preparing for an IVF cycle, there is a lot involved.  You have to be medically and psychologically cleared.  You have to make sure your finances are in order so you can afford to pay the fertility center when they ask for that huge lump sum of money. And you have to fully understand what you are getting yourself into.

Over the last couple of months we have not only been preparing ourselves for our IVF cycle, but we have been trying to prepare my sister as well since she is going to be our egg donor.  This particular IVF cycle is requiring just as much from her as it is us, if not more.  So I will start there.

I haven't shared this before because I don't like feeling like I am putting my sister down.  But this is a blog that is built on sharing honest emotions.  So honestly, over the last three months since we began preparing my sister for this Egg Donor IVF cycle, we, or at least myself, have been very worried that my sister was going to back out.  She is an indecisive person and has always struggled to make up her mind on what she wants in her life. She may not think so, but I know so. I've only ever watched her grow up for the past 23 years and seen how every relationship shes ever been in has unfolded, and refolded if we want to talk about her current relationship.  Every time I have had to ask my sister for information or give her information on what she needs to do to get approval from our fertility center to be our egg donor she has always given me attitude.  It has made me feel like she does not want to go through with this but would never just come out and say those exact words.  Instead, earlier this past week it was "It seems like this is going to be an inconvenience and take time away from being with Raegan."  Of course this made me feel like she might as well say "Lindsay-I don't want to do this."  I was upset-very upset.  I felt like she should have never agreed to do this in the first place because I warned her over and over that this isn't as simple as "just take my eggs" like she kept saying in the beginning. Trust me. If it was that simple we would have already just taken her eggs and would hopefully be pregnant by now.  But it's not. And I was clear with her to begin with.

I fully understand and appreciate the amount of time my sister would be putting into this process. And I am even more grateful that she would even consider injecting herself with hormones to help us have a child.  Her comment really stung though....because there are only 6-8 more appointments she would have to go to from now until her egg retrieval and only one appointment that her daughter absolutely would not be able to be at which is the egg retrieval itself.  My niece is in preschool in the mornings anyways so if my sister had appointments on those days it would not take away her time with her daughter because her daughter isn't even home.  I think her comment stung most of all because we've tried having children on our own and all of our babies died while I was pregnant with them-so I have never even had so much as a day with my children.  We wouldn't be involving my sister in our fertility issues if this wasn't a matter of me having bad eggs that are causing our babies to die.  I know it's not her responsibility to make sure we have children we get to spend the rest of our lives with, yet I feel like these are the reasons God gave us siblings-to help us when we are at the lowest points in our lives.  I know I can't count on all my fingers and toes how many times I was there for my sister and niece during the first 2-3 years of my nieces life.  I was there for her birth. I cut her cord. I took off work the first week of my nieces life to help my sister.  I came home and babysat her so my sister could still hang out with her friends.  I babysat my niece every Monday night for several months in 2012 because my sister didn't have any else who could do it.  This is what sisters are for.  I don't want to use some strange ladies eggs who I know nothing about.  And right now, we don't want to adopt because we want to experience being pregnant for 9 months and giving birth to our baby.  So we NEED this to go through with my sister.

I was very happy when she sent me a picture the next day of a cat and a toddler saying "I'm convinced this is going to be Farrah and the baby."  It broke the ice. And then she had a polite adult conversation with me and asked me questions about what she needs to do next and we talked about how this is all going to work out with her work schedule and daughter's schedule.  We met with her in person on Saturday to "clear the air."  We shared concerns, opinions, and made agreements.  I gave her a calendar with everything she has left to do so she could see the process in detail on paper.  I know she was overwhelmed by it.  I would be to.  I was the first time we went through this.  It's even more overwhelming for me now because most of this process is not in my control.  I have to trust and rely on my sister to come through for us.  I have to be patient for her body to give us the "go ahead."  Which is what we are doing now.  Just waiting for her period to start so we can get her blood work and STD screening completed this coming week.

So taking care of business number one is completed.  We got our personal issues squared away.  We are still doing this thing. Thankfully my sister really is a caring person and wants to see us have a happy family and is still willing to go the extra mile to make that happen for us.  We love you Ashley!

Taking care of business number two: Preparing my body for this baby.

I've been very unpleased with the lack of response I had been getting from Dr. Braverman over the past two weeks.  He was supposed to have called my doctor in Cincinnati two weeks ago to share his thoughts and findings and to come up with a treatment plan for me.  He failed to do that. The he failed to respond to my emails asking him for results of my blood work and when he was planning on calling Dr. Hofmann since he didn't do it when he said he would.  Finally I got pissed and I called the office and got no where the first time.  I called back the next day and complained again and then later that afternoon I got an email from Dr. Braverman with my blood work results, my husband's DNA fragmentation results, recommendations for vitamins for the both of us, and a link my fertility doctor and OBGYN need to fill out to request a phone consult with him.  I forwarded the information on to my doctors so hopefully this coming week they will all talk and figure out how we are going to treat these issues to make sure I don't miscarry a healthy baby.

My blood work came back indicating I do NOT have PCOS or any problems with egg quality of egg reserve.  I knew I had plenty of eggs in those ovaries of mine,,,but last time we talked he said based on my insulin level he was suspicious of PCOS and egg quality issues. we know for sure now it really is the chromosome issues that are making my eggs suck.  My husband's DNA fragmentation test came back borderline high.  Dr. Braverman recommended my husband take ProXeed Plus which helps decrease fragmentation and improves morphology.  I looked this up and it will cost $240 for a two month supply.  Dr. Braverman also recommended that I take a probiotic to help with digesting and metabolizing foods. The probiotic costs $135 for a two month supply. We haven't ordered either of these yet because we don't have the extra cash right now. We have had doctor bills coming in that we have been trying to pay off.

Speaking of extra cash, taking care of business number three is our finances.

My husband and I are hard working people.  I started working for my father's cleaning business when I was 8.  By high school I worked 2-3 jobs and started going to college.  My husband was working construction in high school.  We both went to college and we both have our Master's Degrees. We now work middle class jobs making very decent money. My husband is a Commercial Loan Officer at a small bank and I am a Mental Health Social Worker in a hospital. I work overtime quite frequently so we can pay down our existing medical bills.

We both have a ton of credit card debt.  I lived on credit cards in college because I paid my own way through school.  Over the past 6 years every time I get any money back from taxes it goes straight to paying off a credit card.  But I always end up maxing out my cards again.  My husband has done the same thing. Life just keeps throwing shit at us.  First it was buying stuff for our new house 4 years ago.  Using our credit cards to fix our house up.  But that didn't compare to when I had to have several emergency eye surgeries or I would have lost my vision and ended up being off work right before our wedding when all of our money was due to the places we signed contracts with.  So most of our wedding went onto a credit card-about $20,000 worth of our wedding.  Had we known I was going to have surgeries and be off work-we wouldn't have had such an extravagant wedding.  We starting paying that down, and then infertility treatments came up.  There goes another $13,000 onto a credit card.  There goes any bit of extra money we have in our bank accounts to monthly installment payments to paying for my D&C's from my two miscarriages and ultrasounds and blood work and consults with various doctors.  Dr. Braverman's testing alone was $4,000 and that of course went onto a credit card that was "paid off" because we had previously transferred the balance onto a 12 month no interest credit card.

It feels like we are drowning in a sea of debt.  Beyond the credit cards are the student loans.  We are getting no where making the minimum payments which is all we can afford.  So we decided to try to consolidate at least one our of debts.  I was approved for a personal loan and used the loan to pay off all five of my maxed our credit cards. We are closing four of the cards so we can never use them again.  One will be kept open for "emergencies."  My husband switched jobs at the beginning of June so we knew he was going to be getting information on his retirement account and pension plan.  We got the retirement account first.  Had to use $8,000 of it to pay back his previous employer for paying for his master's degree and not staying with the company long enough.  The other $11,000 is in an IRA that we were hoping not to have to pull out of because it's not tax free.  My husband was hoping for a hefty pension plan that he was going to use to pay off either his car loan or credit cards.  We are extremely disappointed when it came back significantly lower than we were anticipating.  We now plan to combine that $4,000 with the $11,000 from his IRA to be able to pay for our Egg Donor IVF cycle.

We still need $4,000 just for the IVF cycle.  We probably need another $6,000 on top of that to treat the issues Dr. Braverman discovered.  It's insane how much this stuff costs.  We are going on $45,000 that will have been spent just THIS YEAR in an attempt to have our first living child. Congress really needs to step up the legislation on requiring employers to select insurance policies that cover not just infertility testing but infertility treatment.  It's not fair that a drug addicted mother can have 12 babies and doesn't pay a dime for any of their deliveries and then the government even pays for someone else to raise the woman's children.  It's not fair that a teenager can have a child and gets free daycare and free medical insurance and free formula for their child.  It's not fair that infertility is so discriminated against as something that is not "medically necessary."  Well hell, apparently the treatment for my rare disease isn't even medically necessary because insurance doesn't cover that either and they consider food supplements that same as buying groceries.  Who the hell spends $3000 a month on groceries because that's what my food supplements would cost me if I took them as often as I'm supposed to.  The middle class really gets screwed.  We aren't poor by the standards of income so we can't get help for jack.  And we aren't rich by the standards of income so we can barely afford jack.  Yet we work our asses off the hardest to merely get by in life.  Building a family should not cost this much money.

We are thankful we have the resources that we do.  We aren't happy that we have put so much of this on credit cards and now will be taking out of my husbands IRA and will have to pay a shit ton in taxes next year.  But we are getting by and we will continue to get by.

We are also thankful to have some community support with a golf outing we have been organizing.  It's not going as successfully as I was hoping, but its raising us money and we appreciate that.  When we started planning the golf outing, the goal was to raise money not only for ourselves but for another couple in our community who is struggling financially with the cost of infertility treatments.  We want to be able to help others.  We know how hard this is not just financially but emotionally too.  There is so much anger and defeat associated with infertility especially when you are struggling to figure out how to pay for it.  It makes me sad to think we may not be able to help another couple if we don't reach $5,000.  Right now we are about $2300 away from that and the golf outing is in two weeks.

If anyone would like to donate, even $10 helps us get closer to our goal. 60% of the money we raise will go to help my husband and I with our egg donor IVF cycle and the other 40% will go to another middle class couple like my husband and I who have already spent thousands on fertility treatments and need a little help to afford their next treatment.  You can donate here:

Thank you for the love and support, and of course for reading this very long blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Where is my One Year Old?

When I found out at the end of November in 2012 that I was pregnant I was so ecstatic. I started planning our child's life right away. I knew what matching pak-n-play, highchair, swing, and convertible stroller w/carseat set that I wanted. I had so many cute bedding sets picked out that I was tossing between-wanting something neutral so we could reuse it for our future babies too. I started buying little things here and there and any free moment that I had you were sure to find me in the baby section of any department store.

In early January I met two of my college friends for lunch and I pulled out my ultrasound picture to share my exciting news with them. After lunch, me and one of my friends went to Babies R Us and started my Baby Registry. I remember the lady asking when I was due-"August 10th." "You sure are excited aren't you!" That was her polite way of saying-"this is really early to be making a baby registry." I didn't care though. I loved my baby so much and I was over the moon that my husband and I were going to be parents.

Maybe I should have known better. Maybe I should have been more cautious and realized one week everything can be great and progressing as it's supposed to, and the next, well-things can go wrong quickly. Maybe I should have remembered what it was like the last time I created a registry, when I was 22 weeks pregnant, and less than 2 weeks later my beautiful daughter was dead and the registry was no longer needed. Maybe I shouldn't have been so happy for myself. Maybe I shouldn't have envisioned a happily ever after.

Over the past year I have had many reminders from Babies R Us that I should have a bouncing baby in my arms. Last August I got a card-"Congratulations on your new baby!" with a 20% coupon and a discount on items left on my registry if purchased by September. Throughout the year I've gotten monthly Babies R Us catalogs with discount coupons. I've gotten Similac formula couples and recently actual infant to toddler formula sample packs. Towards the end of July I got a card from Babies R Us-"Happy First Birthday!" with of course another 20% coupon. Every month I throw these reminders right into the trash. Is it Babies R Us' fault? No. But maybe they should look to see if anything was purchased off my registry before sending me congratulations and birthday cards for my child who never made it more than 3 weeks after I created my registry. Or maybe I just should have listened to the woman at the store who politely told me I was too excited too early in the game.

Today was my due date one year ago. It's 4:18am as I am typing right now. I'm at work. I've been here since 8pm and I don't get off until 8am. That gives me a lot of time to think. As much as I try to accept the life I have and the cards I've been dealt-I wish life were different. I wish I wasn't working overtime every weekend to make some extra money to pay for our outrageous medical bills related to trying to have a healthy baby. I wish I was at home cuddled in bed with my husband listening to the static on our baby monitor and jumping instantly the moment our son cries. I wish I could just hold our son in my arms and not just in my heart. I wish I wasn't sitting at this computer screen blogging about my feelings and wiping tears from my eyes. I wish I had a birthday party to plan and wish more than anything that our families knew our son too and could celebrate his precious life with us. The only thing I have of Logan to share with other people is this video I made last year on his due date:

Our son would have been born with Down Syndrome. Today I wear this necklace just for him. For Logan. Love Doesn't count Chromosomes. No-it doesn't. In fact-I've said it many times, but when the doctor told me the genetic testing came back that we had a boy and he had Down Syndrome-I loved him so much more. It really does hurt me tremendously that I can't pour my love into my child like I should be able to. I know that had he been born, there wouldn't have been one second that I would have regreted his life or been angry that God gave me a child with special needs. Not one single millisecond.

This necklace brings up a lot of emotions for me. If Love Doesn't Count Chromosomes why did we do IVF with pre-implantation genetic screening? Why are we now pursuing Egg Donation? Why don't we continue to try to have a child naturally since we can get pregnant just fine? If a doctor said to me "Lindsay, I can guarantee two things for you. Your baby will definitely have Down Syndrome and you will definitely carry the baby full term and give birth to your living child," I would say "Sign me up doc!" In fact, Dr. Braverman in New York thinks once we treat the issues he discovered I will definitely be able to carry full term and won't have any more miscarriages, even if we used my own eggs. The problem is, according to every doctor I've spoken to, the large majority of babies with Down Syndrome die before birth. Worse yet, there is even a good possibility of getting pregnant with a child who has Trisomy 13 which is absolutely lethal. I would love my child regardless of chromosomes-Down Syndrome, Trisomy 13, 46 normal chromosomes-but I don't want to continuously fall in love with a child that I have to say good-bye to before we ever get to say hello. Dr. Braverman even recommended IVF with pre-implantation genetic screening because he knows as well-even if every other issue with me is treated, we cannot change my translocated chromosome or the lucky egg that gets ovulated and fertilized during a natural cycle, and we cannot guarantee that a baby with an "abnormal" chromosome make-up will make it through 9 months of development during pregnancy. Right now, I just want a baby with a smooth pregnancy. I just want to do everything in our power to make sure we are eliminating the issues that could be resulting in my miscarriages, including the chromosome issues. With the route we are taking, I know the only thing that would happen that would cause another loss would be things we can't control like abnormal organ development like a heart defect or a cord accident.

I wish that all it took to have a baby was love because then we wouldn't be going through all of this. Logan would still be here. He would be turning one. And we would be talking about when to start trying for the next one. Unfortunately, love just isn't enough.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dancing in the Rain

This past weekend my best friend got married. I was honored to stand by her side as a bridesmaid as she said "I do" and sealed her commitment to her new husband with a ring and a kiss. She was a beautiful bride and I could tell she was not only relieved when the ceremony was over (she was getting pretty nervous before it started) but she was happy to be starting the next chapter of her life.

I remember when we were trying on bridesmaid dresses trying to find a style that would look good on the various body types of the women she had chosen to be in her wedding. I couldn't get my measurements done that day, and I couldn't even order my dress when everyone else did. We were planning to start our IVF treatment a month after the dresses had to be ordered and I didn't know if our treatment was going to work. If it did, I would be 23 weeks pregnant with a much more rounded belly than I had at the moment. But I didn't want to take the chance of assuming I would be pregnant for her wedding because I also didn't want the painful reminder when I would be paying to have every part of the dress taken in if our treatment failed to work.

As we all know, I made a good decision by paying the rush shipping instead once we found out I was not pregnant by our IVF cycle and had no frozen embryos to try a frozen transfer prior to my friends wedding.

For a brief moment as I was eating dinner at the head table on Saturday night, I remembered what should have been in that moment. I remembered I should have been 23 weeks pregnant. That my husband and I would have known if we were having a boy or girl. That the next celebration in my life would have been my baby shower. Better yet, if life would have gone the way it should have, I would have had a 6 year old and almost 1 year old sitting with my husband and parents out with the rest of the crowd of people who were at the reception. I wouldn't have been pregnant, and the next celebration in my life would have been our son's first birthday.

Then I remembered, life isn't the way it was supposed to be and there is nothing I can do about it.

I snapped out of my thoughts and the rest of the night I drank and danced like there was no care in my world. I caught up with old high school friends, had a blast with complete strangers, and made a few new acquaintances too. My husband gave me space to mingle and dance like a fool and he also found himself out of the dance floor with me several times. Word to the wise though, don't try to imitate dances from So You Think You Can Dance unless YOU CAN ACTUALLY DANCE! My neck was stiff for 3 days after showing off my inability to "crump" properly! Anyways, we both had fun, and we needed that kind of fun. It was like we had forgotten for one night just how difficult our life has been over the past two years.

It kinda reminded me of when my parent's were separated during my freshman year of high school. It was a horrible year for me emotionally. But I enjoyed living in town closer to my friends instead of way out in the country where I couldn't walk down the street to my friends house. I remember many nights jumping through rain puddles as it was raining and having fun being a goofball with my friends, even though my heart was breaking for my parents. That's what it felt like Saturday night-my friends were dancing in the rain with me again.

I've grown a lot over the past one and a half years. I've gone through phases of anger, jealousy, isolation, avoidance, fear, depression, hopefulness, and acceptance. More importantly, I've learned to recognize there is no right or wrong way to work through grief and I've accepted what I have control over and what I don't. I've learned to enjoy the moment that I'm in, even if the moment isn't the way I wanted it to be. And I've decided that while I have no children to raise-I will treasure the freedom that I still have to travel with my husband alone and to party like a rock star with my friends. After all, once we have children I will need to act like a mature adult all the time right? Well maybe not all the time...but at least around the kiddos:)

Alex and I don't know when our storm is going to be over. We don't know how the future is going to turn out for us. And surprisingly, I'm doing okay with not knowing. I feel content since we have been back from New York that maybe we are on the right track now. And if this next step doesn't work, I will be briefly devastated but I know that with the strength of God I will stand back up and keep fighting for our rainbow baby.

If I had to give advise to my best friend it would be the quote next to this. Marriage isn't all sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies. Sometimes the life we planned isn't the life we end up with. It can be a struggle when you wake up on your second wedding anniversary with no children if you had started planning for children the moment you got married. (I know you say you don't want kids for awhile Amy, but one day you will change your mind and start dreaming of baby showers and nursery decorations!) Hell, I think it's an even bigger struggle when you wait a few years before you start trying and then encounter problems with conceiving or carrying because you regret the time that passed by while you were younger. At least that's the case with other older couples I've known who have infertility. I pray my friends will not have to endure this pain to create their families. But I do know that love and commitment and finding a way to still dance in the rain will get them through if they do encounter the struggles we have. And if they need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to their struggles-I will gladly be there for them to let them as a strong sail helping them to adjust to the strong stormy winds.