The Test Results are Negative

bear-averyThat’s something no couple wants to hear after years of trying and their 3rd IUI attempt. This one was especially hard since I was inseminated on the same day that we lost our foster baby.

The girls at the Fertility Center were so good to me the day of insemination that I really started feeling optimistic that this bad day was going to be turned into a good one. What was especially rough was that two weeks later, on the morning I was to get the test results, I found out I was bleeding when I got up to use the bathroom. The nurse said that it might just be break through bleeding, but I knew it wasn’t. So I didn’t have high expectations that when they called a few hours later that the results would be positive, but I was holding on to hope. I just wanted our foster baby back. It’s so much easier when someone hands you a baby, rather than trying to go through the process of having one on your own. He was so perfect and beautiful, but he wasn’t ours.

The one thing that I would highly recommend for anyone who has gone through this situation is to take the day off, cry for a while, then spend the day doing something simple but fun and regroup. I left work, went to my mom’s house, cried my eyes out for a while and when I was done, I just played with her two lab puppies. I love animals. They love you unconditionally, they don’t judge you and they don’t talk back. It was the perfect therapy I needed to just watch them be goofy, wrestle around with each other and plop in my lap so I could pet their silky soft fur and forget about life for a while. My mom took me out to lunch, we went to some thrift stores, something I secretly love to do, and went home.

The next day I called the Fertility Center back, I went to my baseline appointment and I’m jumping right into my last shot with IUI. I was tempted to hold off and wait a month, but when I’ve waited in the past, I’ve gotten cysts. This time my ovaries looked great and I’m on to starting my next cycle.

If you have family and friends near by, make sure to utilize them. Don’t go through this process alone. I even told my husband that he really needs to start reading up on what I’m going through, because I’d love to just say, “screw it, it’s your turn!” Unfortunately men can’t have babies, so they need to know the ins and outs and not just sit idly by for the fun parts of baby making! Everyone has a story. Everyone knows someone who has struggled with infertility. It’s good to have another perspective.

Photo credit: Pacdog / Foter.com / CC BY

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Adoption From Other States

Anxious ChildFor the past several years I have really had “baby brain.” If it wasn’t trying to get pregnant, than it was looking at fostering and adoption possibilities. I know of one teacher who was approached in her church by a woman who said her daughter was pregnant. Would she like to adopt her baby? I would LOVE for this to happen! Pick me, pick me!

While I’d love to be as lucky as that woman, I’m not the sit around and wait type. There are several great websites out there for people looking to adopt a special needs child, an older child or sibling groups. There is adoptuskids.org, adoption.com and wednesdayschild.adopt.org that I’ve visited regularly and have inquired about children unsuccessfully. There is some overlap between sites. It’s also more difficult to adopt between states and your homefinder has to be willing to send the social worker your case history. You know how much I love social services, so you can only imagine how easy this process is.

I don’t feel I would be able to adopt a child with significant special needs. As a special education teacher, I know what a full time job this would be and I don’t want to feel like I am at work.

My hesitancy in pursuing children from these websites again is that older children (those who aren’t infants), come with baggage including severe emotional and psychological issues. I already dealt with that with our first foster child. At least with a foster child, if it doesn’t work out, they can go back into the system. If it doesn’t work out with an adopted child, they’re yours for life as if you gave birth to them. There is no going back. So, while adopting a family of 2-3 children sounds like a cool, instant family. It will have many, many challenges.

I don’t even consider adopting a child from another country a possibility because of the astronomical cost. We don’t have 30K plus to afford this type of adoption. I wish we did. We also don’t have the years it takes for a child to become available.

Well, we’ll just take a wait and see approach for now. What will be, will be.

Photo credit: IronRodArt – Royce Bair (“Star Shooter”) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Love and Marraige

endless-love-14I love my husband, but he drives me nuts! I get very frustrated with him and have less patience for him than I do others. Maybe that’s because he’s an easy target living under the same roof from me. So, we decided to give marriage counseling a try to see if we could get a handle on things.

We’re going through a lot right now between being unable to conceive, doing fertility treatments and having fostered a baby while each balancing a career. I come home and share some of my work stories and he reciprocates, but that’s about the extent of the conversation.

I’m sure many wives feel like they aren’t heard, but I swear my husband doesn’t hear my voice as if I’m an adult on the Peanuts cartoon going “mwa, mwa, mwa.” I’ll tell him something and a day later he won’t have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about! If it wasn’t for the fact that I would tell him to get the baby up, feed him a bottle, put him down for a nap, give him a bath, etc., I don’t think he’d think to do them on his own. Don’t get me wrong, he was awesome with the baby, but he would need some reminders.

In the whole scheme of things, we get along really well and are very much in love. We’re just not very good at the feelings part on either end and how to express them productively. That thought is really weird since we’re both in careers where we need to have a lot of compassion, and pride ourselves on that fact. So, why can’t we act that way toward each other?

I’m sure it’s just one of those things that needs to be seen from a different perspective. If it looked at in a different light, when the real issues, like our infertility and loss of a foster child, are put out there, you can see where the underlying frustrations lie. It’s learning how to get past those and have more compassion for what we’re each going through separately.

I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist, so I guess we’ll find out in time. It’s something I would recommend for anyone who has to deal with any of these dirty thirty issues. I’ll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: We did go to one counseling session, which was a good thing for both of us to get perspective. However, it’s just not going to fit into my schedule right now. So we are going to go to an infertility support group. See my latest post “How Are You Being Supported On Your Journey?”

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Sometimes My Heart is Bigger Than My Brain

cute-baby-2Since I am a teacher, I had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off and celebrated by relaxing at home surrounded by my kitties. When a call came in from a blocked caller, I assumed it was my husband calling from his work phone, but it was CPS (Child Protective Services).

I couldn’t help but hope that they were calling to see if we would take our foster baby back. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. They had a 3 year old in the hospital that needed to be placed. They had no other information on him. I said that I would have to call her back.

I called my husband and let him know about the call. We had said before that we didn’t want to be foster parents again; it was too much of an emotional roller coaster and hoops to jump through… but there was a child who needed us. We had sold our bunk beds that we had from our first foster child and only had a crib, so I’d have to go out and buy a bed or see if maybe my sister had one. Then we’d have to go buy him some toys and some clothes… wait a minute!

We had to stop and use our brains a little bit here. We’re still very raw from our last foster baby. It would be great to take care of another child, but a 3 year old is much different than a 7 month old. A 3 year old is going to be high energy and running around the house. I don’t know how the dog would react. We have baby stuff,not toddler stuff. I’d have to find a daycare or a preschool. I’d probably have to take time off from work and I don’t have anymore days left from all the times the baby was sick. Not to mention, it’s going to be another child we’d grow attached to that would be taken away from us eventually. We had to say no.

So, I called the lady back and said that because our emotions were still running so high with our last foster baby, we’d have to pass at this time, but if they weren’t able to place him anywhere else, we would make arrangements to take him. She never called me back.

I’m glad I was able to say no, even though it was a hard thing to do. My husband Matt and I need to still grieve and heal our wounds over the baby. We need time just for ourselves and enjoy each others company for a while.

Photo credit: Abdulmajeed Al.mutawee || twitter.com/almutawee / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Weighty Subject

I'm not fat, I'm Fluffy!

I’m not fat, I’m Fluffy!

I don’t know about you, but my body just isn’t the same as it was in my twenties. Not only has gravity done it’s thing, but my curves have been a little lumpier. Needless to say, I’ve had to make some life changes.

I decided that my weight and my health had gotten out of control. I had high blood pressure, low thyroid, high cholesterol¬† and I had pre-diabetes. I was the heaviest and largest size I’d ever been. I thought that I’d look into weight loss surgery since dieting didn’t seem to be working for me long term. I spoke to my doctor about it, went to a seminar and did my research.

I decided that I’d get the lapband. I had a cousin who had great success with it. As I mentioned before, I have been trying to get pregnant and they don’t recommend that you do that with the gastric bypass. Gastric bypass is also a much more invasive surgery and would require about a month out of work.

The lapband is done laproscopically. They make 3 to 5 small incisions, pull the band through and cinch it around a small piece of your stomach. I went home the same day and took about a week to recover. Every few months you can go to the doctors office and they can put a small amount of saline into the band, called a fill, to restrict you more, allowing you to lose more weight. There are many side effects however. Don’t get it done if you have acid reflux. If you didn’t know you had acid reflux, having lapband surgery is not a good way to find out. You have to take small bites and take breaks between bites. Otherwise you will regurgitate your food. This is not fun at restaurants. Don’t drink while you eat either or you will projectile vomit. You have to be careful what you eat as well. Foods like soft bread or pizza tend to stick in my throat, so I avoid them at all cost.

My husband has chosen to get gastric bypass surgery since he has many health issues as well. He knows that he has acid reflux and has much more weight to lose. Gastric bypass is when they detach your intestines from your stomach and bypass it altogether. He doesn’t get his surgery until April, so we’ll see how he does with it.

For me, it took a lot of practice. I was a fast eater who shoveled my food. I definitely can’t do that anymore. I have done a great job at eating healthier and I exercise everyday. I have lost a total of 70 lbs., but would still like to lose about 40 more. However, between breaking my ankle over the summer and having the foster baby, I was limited in when I could go to the gym and my weight has stayed the same for several months. I do walk the dog every day and I took an aerobics class once a week with a friend. I eat greek yogurt, lots of salads and vegetables, lean meats and brown rice. Now I don’t have an excuse, so I hope to keep on my weight loss journey!

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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

teacherbritishmuseumThis is a question I have never known the answer to. All I know is that I have things I enjoy. I like to write. I love children. I enjoy being online and using the internet. However, I’ve never had anything that I was so passionate about, so enthralled in, that I said, “THAT’S what I want to do for the rest of my life!” I wish I did.

I got really into the environment during the 90s. I became a semi-vegetarian, still eating chicken since I couldn’t seem to stomach tofu. I was really into “going green” and Saving The Planet. I even went to Environmental Camp and majored in Environmental Health my first semester of college. Unfortunately I remembered that I wasn’t very good at math and science, so path quickly ended.

I went to community college and had a concentration in print journalism (now practically a lost art). I went on to a four year college majoring in communications/journalism and fell in love with Public Relations. Well, being that I went to a state college, I just interned on campus. Big Mistake! I had such a hard time breaking into the field. I worked in a couple of ad agencies but didn’t really get anywhere. I worked at a small business newspaper where I worked like a dog for very little pay. I ended up designing grocery ads for six years and made so little money between 2 jobs that I couldn’t afford, rent, a car payment AND food.

So, here I was, 29 years old and having my “quarter-life crisis” because I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle for the rest of my life, not making a difference to anyone except the little old lady who wants to know if coffee is on sale this week. So, I went back to college for my Masters degree in Education. I went to a teacher’s college during my undergrad years and worked in the education department and had friends who were teachers. I figured it was decent pay, good hours with vacations, I loved kids, am good at English, it should be a good fit. Well, after 6 years of teaching Special Education at a Charter School, I don’t know if it’s my career that sucks or just my workplace, but I find myself in a rut again.

My husband is an LPN and would like to pursue his RN, so I’ve waited to give him the upper hand in making that leap toward getting his education. However, three years into our marriage, I filled out his application for him and told him he had to do the rest, which he still hasn’t gotten the chance to do.

I thought about getting my administration degree or maybe my PhD or something, but I don’t really know! Maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones and have a successful blog! We’ll have to see how that goes.

Photo credit: Etan J. Tal / Foter.com / CC BY

The Rocky Road of Foster Care

i-love-you-too-buddy_1243“You should call it “Return Abused or Neglected Child to Their Parent Services” instead of “Child Protective Services” if that’s your real intention,” my husband said to the caseworker who told us for the hundredth time that the goal was to return the foster child to his parents. I always thought that the goal was to protect the child, but I guess I’m wrong.

I’ll back up a bit. I’ve wanted to be a foster parent for quite a while now. My paternal grandparents fostered children, I had a friend in high school who was a foster child, and my mom was adopted, so I thought fostering would be a good thing to do. Also, I knew that having a child on my own was going to be difficult, so this might be a good alternative.

In case you don’t know, there are a lot of hoops to jump threw. They don’t just give you a foster kid because you sign up for one, which I guess used to be the norm back in the 70’s, but the state has gotten much more strict since then. You have to get a background check, fingerprinting, have a social history done, a home inspection, fire & lead inspection, interviews, references, etc. in addition to taking the 12 weeks of classes. Well, believe it or not, all that is the easy part.

My husband and I already had one foster child that was really difficult. He was a 12 year old who peed and pooped all over, lied incessantly and tried to pit my husband and I against each other. He was with us for about 2 1/2 months before he was put into a group home. It was such a stressful ordeal, that I said I didn’t want to be a foster parent again. Then in August I got a phone call. There was a an 11 week old baby available. Would I be interested in fostering him? Yes!!

We said we won the baby lottery with this little peanut. At 2 months old he slept through the night, barely cried and was always smiley and happy. It was a perfect fit from the beginning. He looked just like us with my blonde hair and my husband’s green eyes. He had an infectious laugh and a smile that melted the hearts of men and women alike. We just adored everything he did.

The baby was picked up for hour long supervised visits with his mom once a week. Then they added Mommy and Me classes. Then mom and dad got visits together a third day during the week. I thought this was a lot, but the caseworker said the parents were doing very well. They had both successfully completed rehab treatment, they went to parenting classes and counseling, they were doing everything they were required to do. Yes, that is all it takes to be a parent. Take some classes and if you show up to most of them or show up to most of the visits, then you can get your kid back. The caseworker said they have many drug addicts who successfully raise their children. So I guess that makes it okay.

Now, my husband and I are Mandated Reporters with jobs as a nurse and teacher respectively. So, I’ve seen and heard the stories first hand: a child who had a bruised imprint of a ring on his chest because his dad had beaten him so badly, a young girl who had cigarette burns on her inner thigh, a girl who was beaten for dating outside of her religion, and a young autistic boy who was running down the middle of the street for the second time while his parents slept. None of those children were removed from their homes. It takes repeated abuse and neglect, reported on several occasions with no attempt at fixing the situation for a child to be removed. Our foster baby’s parents were from Pennsylvania. The caseworker said that if they still lived there, the child probably would not be returned to them because they don’t have the same kind of supports we have in New York state. Their one child already lives with and is being adopted by the maternal grandmother.

Then came the Service Plan Review Meeting. Now I understand confidentiality, but all the details about the parents came out in that meeting, so I don’t know why the caseworker couldn’t have been upfront with us in the first place. The whole meeting was about the child returning to the parents. They also wanted to have him for Christmas. Well, we wanted to have him for Christmas too. It doesn’t matter what foster parents want, think or feel. They’re just supposed to do everything for the child as if it were their own and then give them back as if they were a book or some other object. It didn’t matter that we had already made plans and that we would have to work out an arrangement with the parents for drop off and pick up because it would not be during regular business hours. Don’t make a fuss about it either or they will “red flag” you. Yes, this is a real thing where they mark your folder saying that you’re not a good foster parent (because you don’t let them walk all over you). The mom wrote me a note saying that the baby kept crying, so he must have been really hungry because she fed him 4 out of the 5 hours he was awake. He also wreaked of smoke. Overfeeding your child and smoking around them is not against the law however, so it doesn’t matter.

The baby went back to his parents on Monday. It was the worst day of my life, having to hand over this smiley little guy who called us Mama and Dada and now has to go live with some people he’s seen for about 3 hours or so a week. I made up a photo album and wrote a letter and I hope some day that he knows that we did the best we could to make his world as happy and loving as possible. I hope that his parents do right by him and he grows up to be an amazing person. I will never be a foster parent again and any person who does it is a saint.

Photo credit: creative1the / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

The Trials and Tribulations of Infertility in Your Thirties

grandpa-8Some things you just know. I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to get pregnant. I didn’t marry until I was in my thirties and always had difficulty with my menstrual cycle. Either I wouldn’t have one at all, it was coming on full force or I had cysts or polyps.

My husband and I tried the old fashioned way for several years before we decided that we needed a little help. So I read books about “Getting Pregnant in your Thirties,” I tracked my ovulation, used test strips, took my basal body temperature, tried spitting into a fertility microscope, all without success.

It took 6 months to get an appointment with a fertility specialist. Ironically I broke my ankle the night before my appointment, but I wasn’t going to let anything keep me from getting there. It turns out that there isn’t a specific reason why I can’t get pregnant. Well, physically anyway I’m fine. I do have hypothyroidism which I take medicine for. Abnormal periods which I take medicine for. I have PCOS and a low egg count. My husband has what he refers to as “super sperm,” because he produces an abundant amount and the nurse always complements him on his high number, so it’s not his fault. He says, “Unless they’re dumb and just don’t know the way!”

Basically, unless you are rich or have good insurance, this process will take a financial and emotional toll. I’ve had up to 3 appointments in a week and those co-pays add up! Most insurance providers cover IUIs, but few cover IVF, which is much more successful. Why this is, I have no idea.

In case you don’t know, IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. You take a drug or injectables to produce eggs, then when they’re big enough, you’re injected with your husband’s sperm and wish for the best. There is only a 10-20% success rate using this method. I tried twice with the drugs and I’m on my first time with the injectables which have a slightly higher success rate.

I was told by my doctor that due to my low egg count and my age, I have a 1% chance of getting pregnant on my own, a 10% chance using the drugs and a 20% chance using injectables. I have a 50% chance of getting pregnant with IVF. So why not just go for the best odds off the bat you ask?

Well, it’s all about the money, honey. At my particular facility, the more IVF cycles you choose to buy, the better the price. I figured that the most reasonable option for us would be to try 2 cycles for $6,000. Neither of our insurance plans cover it, unfortunately. This is an amount we can reasonably save up for in my opinion. Also, my insurance will pay for 6 IUI attempts. I’ve tried 2 with drugs, I’ll try 2 with injectables and I will use my last 2 IUI drugs for in vetro. Otherwise, I would have to pay them out of pocket which would be several thousands of dollars.

Infertility is a stressful issue to deal with. They tell you not to be stressed when all it does is put stress on you. Not to mention all the hormones you’re pumping through your body will inevitably test your marriage! It’s easy to say “be positive!,” but sometimes that’s the only thing left to do.

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