Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The reality of infertility and miscarriage.

Our super fun DC date!
On September 3rd we celebrated our 4 year anniversary. The same week we "celebrated" a year of trying to conceive baby number 2. I didn't realize it had been a year until my friend pointed it out (thanks Lindsey). I told Gabe we should celebrate with sushi or something else that's a no-no when pregnant, like a ton of caffeine, or sandwich meat. He didn't think it was as funny as I did.

We wouldn't have done it anyway. You see, last week, I had a positive pregnancy test. I had originally decided not to share about treatments because I want to avoid the question "are you pregnant yet?" or anything similar. But in light of this weeks events, I changed my mind. I've been going through treatments since May. Last month was my 3rd round of Clomid (4th medicated cycle total, but Femara was a total fail). Before I continue, let me tell you that being on Clomid has been one of the worst experiences of my life. It makes me miserable. Not only do I gain weight every month, but it makes me break out like a teenager, and it makes me in to a psychotic woman that can't stand her own husband and child. So, I was really hoping this cycle would be it because I never ever want to take Clomid again, and we can't afford to do all shots. I would gladly take as many babies as possible out of one pregnancy just so I never have to go through this again. But I never got a chance to be excited about that true positive. By the time I realized it was a real positive it was too late and things had started to go downhill. I won't go in to the science, but I knew before the bleeding started. I just didn't say it aloud because I didn't want to believe it. I passed the time waiting around for it to happen with my best friend who was here for the weekend. She kept me distracted, which was great.

Even though I had sort of prepared and had mentioned it in passing to Gabe, when the loss started at church, I realized there was nothing I could do to ready myself for it. Nothing can prepare you for a miscarriage, even when you know it's going to happen. This was my 4th pregnancy loss. My second in 5 months. Seeing negative test results month after month is bad enough, but getting a positive, watching it turn negative, and then losing yet another baby is even worse. It's physically and emotionally painful. While this loss was extra hard on me because it means there's probably something going on that no doctor has looked for because I'm only 25, I'm kind of getting used to the idea of losing a pregnancy. Which is sad. I also know that it probably won't be my last which terrifies me because having one is terrible. My heart goes out to anyone that's lost a pregnancy at any point, whether they're 4 weeks or 20.

One of the worst things I've been told after all these miscarriages is "at least we know you can get pregnant." I can indeed. I've technically been pregnant 5 times. FIVE TIMES IN FOUR YEARS. But I have one baby. She's the most perfectly bratty little thing I could ever hope for, but I want more than anything to give her a sibling. Seriously, ask my husband. Ask my husband what I've been through to give her a sibling. Ask him about the "morning sickness" caused by the progesterone supplements, and the physical pain from ovulating 5 eggs at once. It's miserable. I'm miserable.

When I first joined a support group for this I couldn't believe how bitter these women were. Some of them are downright mean. But I understand it now. It's really hard to be happy for people that announce pregnancies. I see at least 2 announcements a week. Most of the time I say to myself "wow, were they even trying?" It's bitter and terrible. I know. But that's reality. I'm starting to get to that point. People tell me all the time how amazing I am for handling this so well and being so positive. I try really hard to put on a happy face (not physically really because my face is permanently mean), but I'm not happy. I'm angry.

It frustrates me when really young couples or recently married couples get pregnant so fast. I don't mean to offend, but it's reality. It isn't fair. I know it's ridiculous, fair is a four letter "f" word, and I need to be thankful. I am sometimes. Truly. But it's really hard when you're in it to see the good in things. I think that at some point I'll look back on this and realize that there was a reason for it, but at this point, there isn't for me. Right now all I see is pain. I am not handling this with grace, finesse, or any other positive word that people have used for me. I'm a mess. I cry all the time, which is definitely worsened by the hormones. I get physically ill from the medications and the anxiety every single month. I have zero energy most of the time and I'm so exhausted I can barely function. And I know without a doubt that other moms judge me these things and have no idea what's going on. Because infertility tends to be a thing you go through alone with your husband behind closed doors.

There are women, friends of mine, that have been trying harder and longer than I have for their first and my heart breaks for them. No one can ever truly understand any of this unless you go through it. I really hope that you don't have to, but I want to give people a glimpse into the reality of what this does to people. It's emotionally and physically shattering. People may put on a happy face about it, but I promise you they're miserable. I promise you that there isn't a day that goes by when they don't think about how hard these treatments are, or the babies they've lost. No amount of Chipotle or shopping makes this all go away. I know. I've tried.

I am sorry I sound so angry and bitter. But I don't think it's fair to put a strong "face" online just because people can't see me. Most of my posts about this have been fairly positive, or at least humorous. But I want people to know that I'm not positive, because there are other people like me and people need to know how painful this really is. That being said, please, let me see your pregnancy announcements!! I struggle with them, but I try really hard to be happy for every one of you. And if you struggle, tell me! It's easier (at least for me) when you know others in a similar situation. I hate that I can say this, but I'm a fountain of fertility knowledge now. Comes with the territory.

38 weeks with Peyton
Someone once told me that I should be grateful for my stretchmarks (seriously, I look like a tiger) because there are women that would give anything to have them. I can tell you, now that I've been on both sides a bit, that I still don't appreciate them. I would give anything to have the option to wear a bikini without feeling awkward. I also know that if I get pregnant again, I will not appreciate morning sickness. I'm going to be realistic here. Pregnancy was miserable. But, this is one of the biggest struggles of my life. Something I've simply known I was going to go through years before I even got married. The bright side is now that we've been trying for a year and I've had 2 consecutive losses, my next specialist will take me seriously. But that doesn't make it any easier. Remember that there are thousands and thousands of couples going through fertility issues. It's pretty common. There are thousands of women like me with a slew of medical problems that are struggling to get out of bed on a day to day basis. Be sensitive to those around you. You have no idea what's happening behind closed doors.

In other news, after a long fight, I was medically approved to go to France!!! But, this was blow number 2 this week. The office in charge of the assignment doesn't care at all. Gabe was told to "hurry up and wait" for his next assignment to who knows where. He doesn't get to make a wishlist and all of the decisions are being based on the fact that I was wrongly placed on the EFMP program. I've never seen my husband so devastated. He worked for this assignment for 3 years and it all came tumbling down in a matter of days. I could say some really terrible things about this whole system, but I will refrain. For now.

I know we can be happy anywhere, but being here in the place that has seen so much of our stress and pain is not good for either of us. We need a fresh start, and I can't wait to get it. Wherever that may be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Things you shouldn't say to someone going through infertility

Talking about conceiving can be a fun topic. It's an exciting time for a lot of people. But I'm sitting here after 10 months, 6 cycles (in my 3rd medicated cycle) and I have to say, it's not fun anymore. It stopped being exciting after my miscarriage. It just got more stressful. I have people that ask me all the time, strangers included, when we're going to have another baby. I don't know why so many people think it's okay to bring up my womb, but they do. I know everyone means well, but seriously? That's pretty freaking personal. It grates on me. It doesn't just bother me because I find it incredibly nosy, it bothers me because I know there are couples out there that have been trying to get pregnant WAY longer than we have, and still hear insensitive things regularly. People who are miserable and exhausting every option.

So, I took to the interwebs to find out what other women have been told or asked. I'm a member of an online forum for women with diagnosed issues that cause infertility. It's been tremendously helpful to see other experiences from women doing the same surgeries, tests, and treatments as myself. I started a topic to find out what these women hear from friends, family, and strangers on a regular basis, about their fertility. I got about 40 responses.

(One thing that I've noticed in the last year is a lot of women dealing with infertility are a bit bitter. So some of this probably sounds petty. But you know what? They have a pretty good reason to feel that way. Infertility sucks.)

So, I compiled a list. Things you should never say to someone going through infertility. If you don't want to read the whole list, skip to the bottom because I also included what you SHOULD say to these couples.

*This doesn't apply to everyone. But it's a pretty dang good start.

**For the record, I'm not really bitter about my health issues at this point. That's subject to change though. But at this point I don't mind good friends, occasionally a close family member, or women that have been down this road saying something. I also don't mind being ASKED about the treatments & what has led up to this point. I'm pretty open. If you DO have something you want to ask, just do it! I won't bite your head off. Unless you're asking me something on this list. Don't do that. :)

***Remember that there are most likely things in your life that you hate people asking personal questions about, too. Your health, love life, financial status...there's probably something that would bother you.

Things you shouldn't say to someone going through infertility

1. "Have you tried _______?"

That blank can be anything. Temperature and cervical mucous tracking, elevating hips after sex, clomid, femara, food recommendations, supplements, oils, acupuncture. I've been on this journey for less than a year & I've heard every. single. one. I'll let you in on a little secret. There's no one in this world (except MAYBE a fertility specialist) that knows more about things to assist fertility than a woman trying to conceive. Seriously, we have done our research. 

2. "Maybe if you gained/lost weight." 

Nope nope nope. Just stop. It's not okay to say this to any human being unless you are their doctor (not even a parent). I have PCOS, which is common in women who are under and overweight. But I've had it for 10 years, & for 8 of those years, I wasn't even kind of overweight. Yes, there is a lot of truth to gaining or losing weight, but no matter how true it is, it's never, ever, ever okay to say.

3. "Are you still trying?" 

Yep, still sexually active. Thanks.

4. "You are so young, you have plenty of time." 

This one makes me really angry. My 3rd doctor said it to me. It doesn't matter how young you are. If you're not ovulating, you can't get pregnant. Pretty simple. A lot of fertility problems don't have age limits. 

5. "You just need to relax. Take a vacation."

Relaxing won't magically create the right hormones or get rid of endometriosis. It doesn't work that way. Sure, I may need to relax, but it's not going to get me pregnant. But if you know of some magical fertility healing waters, please tell me. I know a lot of women that would really like that information!

6. "I hope you don't have more than one!" 

Are you kidding? A lot of people want more than one kid and they don't want to do fertility more than once. So you know what some people want? Twins. I'm sure it's miserable and we'd all lose our minds, but we'd be done. & eventually it would all be worth it. Most couples would be happy with any number of babies they had. Have you seen how happy that couple in Utah that conceived quads was? All of these couples would be that thrilled. 

7. "Have you considered adoption?" 

Do you have money to spare for people? Cause I don't know if you know this, but adoption is pretty stinking expensive. So is IVF. So unless you're willing to donate, don't mention it.

8. "At least you have one." 

I know this. I swear I do. I remind myself of it all the time. But you know what? Secondary infertility still sucks. We want to give our only child a sibling more than anything and people saying this makes us feel guilty. We know it could be way worse. But don't make us feel bad because someone else is going through something worse. We're struggling in a different way. Which ties perfectly into the next one...

9. "Don't you want to give your child a sibling?" 

YES! Thanks. You don't have to give me a speech about how important siblings are. I am aware & I'm trying. But sometimes kids don't get siblings. Sometimes it doesn't work. Don't make me feel guilty for that.

10. "You haven't even been trying that long." 

When I went to a doctor, we had only tried one cycle. But I went because I had already been diagnosed with PCOS which would probably effect my fertility. And I hadn't had a period in THREE YEARS. Before I got pregnant I had a period every 2-6 months. So, it was pretty justified when I went in since I wasn't ovulating. It doesn't matter how long you've been trying. Every month that goes by gets a little more disappointing when you pee on a stick and still see a stark white negative test. You start losing hope fast.

11. "You had a miscarriage? At least you can get pregnant!" 

Sorry but there's nothing you can say to make someone feel better about a miscarriage. I've heard this from a lot of people and it bugs me every single time. You know why my last miscarriage happened? Because at about 6 weeks my body stopped making the hormone it needed to support an early pregnancy. It just didn't want to make it anymore. It wasn't some kind of abnormality. The baby would've been fine if my body had just worked properly. But it didn't. So no. It doesn't make me feel better that I can get pregnant. That terrifies me even more because I know that if I'm not on supplements that I have to stuff up...there, I will probably lose another pregnancy. I've already lost 2 and I'm not eager to add more.

12. "At least it was an early miscarriage." 

I'm absolutely positive that the further in to pregnancy you get, the more painful, emotionally and physically, a miscarriage is. But it doesn't mean that an early miscarriage isn't painful. So just don't say this to people. They lost a pregnancy and that's hard.

13. "Stop trying and it'll happen." 

You know, if your parts aren't working, stopping efforts to get pregnant isn't going to make them work. It just doesn't work that way.

14. "Everything happens for a reason."

I understand the appeal of saying this. It covers a lot and seems inspirational. But it isn't. When you're in the middle of treatments, dealing with miscarriages, blocked fallopian tubes, or whatever else is thrown at you, it's really hard to see the reason for it. And telling someone there's a reason for it just doesn't help.

15. "God has a plan for you."

Okay, I'm a big believer in God having a plan & it being His timing. And this probably sounds super bitter, but I don't like hearing it from most people. I don't like to think that God gave me my miscarriage. Fertility will make a lot of people struggle with their faith. It's hard when you're going through your 4th miscarriage to think that God has given you this trial. It's kind of a painful reminder when people tell you it's all part of a plan. Because for some people, that plan ends with failed fertility treatments and a lot of money down the drain.

16. "You should get a dog."

What?!? People say this and are actually serious. I've actually heard it from 3 different women. I love my dog, but that is not even kind of the same thing as having a baby. Don't even say this as a joke.

17. "It'll all be worth it when you have your baby."

This is true. It will be. People know that, which is why they're willing to go through it. But when you're getting fertility treatments, there's a lot of needles, & a lot of things getting shoved where they don't belong. Do you know what a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test is? Unpleasant. Some women give themselves shots every single day. So yes, if the treatments work, it's definitely worth it. But again, for some people it won't work. Some people will just go through this pain & suffering for years & never have any of it work.

18. "Have a lot of sex!"

Really? Couples have never considered that maybe they should be having sex to get pregnant. This is brand new information!!!! You know what loses it's fun factor when you've been trying for a long long time? Sex.

What you SHOULD say to someone going through infertility

"I'm sorry. That really sucks." 

Any version of that works well. That's terrible, that must be really hard... you have options. I asked these women what they would prefer people to say, & this was overwhelmingly the response they wanted & needed most. This & a hug.

We know most people mean well when they say these things. People are trying to uplift, or try to fix the situation. But really, it's way more helpful when someone can just commiserate with you. So please, don't be offended by this. Infertility is a really hard thing to go through. It can be heart breaking for a lot of people. Miscarriages, cysts, missing tubes, low sperm counts... it's deeply personal. Be sensitive to that.

That's all. :)

Friday, April 10, 2015


*Disclaimer: I am not writing this for sympathy. I'm writing this because I have felt pretty lonely. People don't like to talk about this kind of stuff, it's too sensitive. People suffer in silence. I want my friends to know that if they have a loss, they're not alone. I've been there. I like to share. I think it's good. It relieves stress to share my experiences and feelings. & I like reading that from other people, so I want to do that for someone else.*

On Monday we found out that I would be having a baby sometime between December 1 & the 14th. I had been getting sick over the weekend and decided to take a test on a whim. It was positive immediately.  I bought a cheesy big sister tshirt to tell Gabe. After much discussion of what this meant for my health, we were happy. We were talking to Peyton about being a big sister. I started looking online at maternity clothes because I love them. I was stressing about giving birth in France.

By Tuesday night I knew something was wrong. I had been cramping all day & they were getting worse. My lower back was killing me. & then I started spotting. I didn't stress because spotting isn't abnormal. It happens. 

Wednesday morning it all came crashing down. I was in so much pain that standing up straight was hurting & I couldn't walk very fast. & the bleeding. Oh, the bleeding. I cried. A lot. I knew it was coming, I knew my risk, but seeing it actually happen was not something I was prepared for. I don't think it's something anyone can prepare for. Gabe came home from French & took me to the doctor. Lady doctors are already an uncomfortable experience, but this hurt like Hades. I've never been in so much pain with a simple exam. The ultrasound showed that I had been pregnant, but there was blood everywhere. My doctor didn't want to confirm it was a miscarriage, probably to spare my feelings. But I knew & I wasn't going to hold on to that hope. The next day I got a call that confirmed my miscarriage, which made it even more real.

The pain has subsided, the bleeding has not. We don't know exactly how far along I was. I don't need a d&c which is good. But it doesn't matter how far along someone is. A loss is a loss. This isn't my first miscarriage. With a 50% chance of miscarriage, which is double the normal rate, I'm sure it won't be my last. But this one was much more painful both physically & emotionally than my last. I don't wish this kind of pain on anyone. Luckily, I'm pretty sure I know why I miscarried, which is something a fertility specialist will hopefully be able to stop the next time, but it still sucks knowing that my body can't do something on it's own anymore that it should be able to do. Support a pregnancy. 

I am okay. I have been super blessed by family & friends this week. My family sent me flowers. My mom told two friends that live nearby that I had a miscarriage & within hours they both dropped everything & came running. These are girls I've known since junior high in England, have seen only a few times in the last 6 years, but are still some of the best friends I'll ever have. Rachel brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers from her studio, & Linda was with me til 3am. There's something about good friends in a military community. They're actually friends for life. Most of my closest friends are people I met in junior high & high school. 

Off topic. Here's the point. I miscarried. It stinks. We want to give Peyton a sibling so bad. She needs one. She's spoiled. I have to keep telling myself it'll happen & that I'm blessed! I am. I really am. Secondary infertility can't be as bad as infertility the first time around. I understand why people don't tell they're pregnant so early. I can't imagine announcing & then having to say I miscarried or having to field questions about someone that missed the update about the miscarriage later. But I don't mind talking about it afterward. I feel like people don't talk about infertility & miscarriages enough. It's real, and it's sad. I'm confident I'll get pregnant and stay that way eventually with some help. But for now I have this girl to keep me busy, & she makes me SO happy!!!

I was inspired to write my experience because I saw this post by a woman I follow about what not to say to someone having a miscarriage. I loved it. I haven't had a lot of miscarriage experience, but I feel a lot of these things. 

& I know I have a lot of pregnant friends. I am happy for all of you!! I'm not bitter. I still like answering questions about things I can help with for my knocked up friends. :)


Monday, February 16, 2015

Move update!

I just thought I'd give a little update. Nothing special cause I am currently too busy to do anything other than French and mommying.

Yes, those are dog nose stains on the window.
I took this on my way back to the hotel when we got here.
We moved to DC about 6 weeks ago, at the beginning of January. It's been... pretty awful to be honest. We got in to our apartment a month ago as of Valentine's Day and we're still living in a boxtacle course. Not only is it really unwelcoming and stressful, it's also pretty dangerous. The good news is that all of the furniture that was broken in the move, which was most of it, is now fixed thanks to my handy husband. The only room that is almost completely done is Peyton's which is nice because we're all on one floor so all of her toys can be in there for a play room! And she's also a bit of a neat freak so she picks it up every day. She actually sings "pick up pick up!" If I've done anything right as a toddler parent, it's been making her clean up her own messes. I even made her help me clean crayon off the crib last week when she decided it was too boring. Twice. She's definitely a 2 year old.
Selfies with her are so fun.
Anyway. Gabe & I also started French about a month ago. We do 6 hours of class a day 5 days a week, & usually have about 2 hours of homework a night. I'm the only one of the 3 students in the class that doesn't know another language to help, so I spend more time studying than both of them. We are both working full time "jobs" & only one of us is getting paid. Lame. It's paying off though cause I'm actually doing pretty well! I definitely speak more French than I did a month ago.

Childcare here is outrageously expensive but we were lucky because the wife of another student offered to watch Peyton, so while we are still paying more for one child than we would've in Ohio, we're less than half of the average cost in this area. So that's definitely a good thing! Sadly, even though Peyton is a major social butterfly, I think she's mad at me for being away from her all day. She usually spends at least an hour throwing tantrums when we get home after picking her up, and that's definitely not normal. Hopefully she'll get used to it soon. I hate having her in childcare & not being a stay at home mommy, but I guess I need to be able to communicate with her when she starts school in France.

Speaking of Peyton, we had a bit of a rough few weeks. I got the flu the day after we got here. Like the legit flu. I was sick for a week. Then Gabe got a little sick, then Peyton got sick. Throwing up 12 times in like 9 hours sick. She had some major tummy issues for about 3 weeks. We were in & out of the doctor 3 times. We've basically decided that doctors are idiots & that Peyton's intestines are going to have some issues. She's doing significantly better though!

We haven't had a chance to go in to DC and be tourists yet (I haven't even gone to the fantastic malls that are like 3 minutes away), but I'm really excited to get to do that. Living next to the metro is definitely good for going to the city. Plus Peyton loves seeing them from our apartment & yells "choo choo" several times a day. I'm sure she'll love finally getting to ride it & going to the natural history museum to see the dinosaurs.

I'm really glad we're only here for 6 months. This place is very overwhelming & I'm 99% sure one of us will be involved in a car accident before we leave. Drivers here are insane & the traffic is horrendous. People have told me that over the years, but you don't really get it until you're sitting on the free way for over an hour just trying to get back from Target. Needless to say, I don't take the freeway to Target anymore.

We don't know when we're off to France yet, but we're done with classes at the end of June. But knowing what we know, we probably won't be out of here until at least the end of July, and that would be amazing. So we'll see! I still have a lot of dread about 2 big moves in one year, but I'll be happy to get out of the clutter (cause a lot will go in to storage) & away from the awful DC traffic & super rude people.

I really want to blog more. I really do. I have so many things I want to be able to do, but I just don't have time right now. Half of my couch is still up like the Titanic because there are still boxes piled in my itty bitty living room. But pretty soon, hopefully, I'll be building & painting some nightstands & I'm excited to see how that turns out. I'm hoping I'll get to do something for myself at some point here, but right now it's looking pretty bleak. Plus I've been an anxiety wreck so things just aren't great.

If you want to come visit, you can come sleep on our couch, eventually. We do have 2 bathrooms!!! & my couch is big & comfy! So if you want a 25 minute ride in to the city centre, then come visit. :)