Small Miracles

A few months back, we were all set to accept a newborn foster child into our home. I spent hours going through baby clothes, blankets, bottles and accessories to make sure we had all the gear in place for the little one’s arrival. However, the placement fell through for reasons unknown to us. I was devastated to say the least. However, all clouds have a silver lining because… I was “late.”

When I told my husband, he didn’t think much of it. We weren’t meant to have children of our own. We were given a 1% chance of conceiving and had already gone through fertility treatments with four rounds of IUIs that were unsuccessful. We had talked about IVF, but it was just too expensive, especi ally since I didn’t work for the past year. So, the possibility of pregnancy just wasn’t on our radar. The following week, I went and bought a pregnancy test and took it while Buddy was with his physical therapist. There was a very faint pink line! Could it be? Could I actually be pregnant? No. I didn’t want to believe it. We have tried for so long. It must have been a faulty test. I waited another week and tried again. Wouldn’t you know it really was positive!

I made an appointment with the doctor and went in to have a sonogram. The sonographer said, “how do you feel about two?” Two what? I still wasn’t convinced there could be a baby in there. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. “Two babies! You’re having twins!” I immediately started to cry tears of joy. My husband, watching the monitor in disbelief, was crying in pain at the thought of raising three children.

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Suddenly I started to get all the symptoms. Unbelievable bloating, morning sickness (aka all day sickness) and fatigue unlike anything I had ever felt before. My friend said to me that the first trimester is literally like climbing a mountain. You are doing all the work of creating another human being (or in my case two) and it’s taxing on your body. Then one day I had spotting. I went to the doctor and I was reassured by two little heart beats on the monitor. More tears of joy! About two weeks later, while I was cooking dinner I felt something warm down below. It looked like I murdered someone. My husband rushed me to the emergency room. My mom came to comfort me and help with Buddy. I just cried on her shoulder. It was most certainly a miscarriage. Then I saw the ultrasound and there were those two little babies with good heart beats, arms waving and legs kicking away!

It turns out that I have something called placenta previa. Basically the placenta is sitting right on top of my cervix and most likely sitting on a blood vessel where blood is pooling. The placenta has slowly been moving away as Baby A continues to grow. Worst case scenario, I will have a C-section. Not a big deal. I was on two weeks of bed rest before returning to work.

So, it was a rough first trimester! My mom said to me, “I told you pregnancy was stressful!” The thing is, I never thought I’d ever get pregnant, but nobody was handing out babies to me either! So, I’ll take every little hiccup that comes with these two little miracles. I’m 18 weeks along and am feeling good! I’m getting a belly on me and have felt a couple little flutters from them kicking. I’m technically due April 17, but they won’t let me go past 38 weeks, so more likely end of March, beginning of April.

I’ve gotten all kinds of questions from people: “Are they natural?” Yes, they’re not artificial! “Do twins run in your family?” No, I’m just old and this was my body’s last ditch effort at passing on my genes. “Are you still going to keep Buddy?” Yes, he’s our son.

People are so nosy when you’re pregnant, but it’s okay. I doubt it will stop once I have two little bundles. “Are they identical?” Probably not, they have separate placentas and sacs, but you don’t know for sure until after they’re born. “Did you want twins?” Well, I always thought it would be fun to have twins, but I didn’t exactly plan it!

People keep relaying stories to me of how the same thing happened to a friend of theirs. As soon as they’ve adopted or were on their way to adopt (as in our case) their child, they were able to relax and get pregnant. Maybe my story isn’t unique or exciting, but it’s my story and I’m looking forward to my happy ending. Buddy is going to be a big brother to twin sisters and I couldn’t be happier!

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One Day at a Time

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A Day In The Life of a Storm Trooper

My husband and I decided that we would just enjoy our little boy for now and put off IVF for a while. Stress is not good when you’re trying to get pregnant, and between dealing with the foster care system, my job, the shots and all the appointments, it was just too much.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we ran into a snag with our tax refund that we plan to use towards IVF. The IRS did confirm that we would be entitled to the refund with some proof and the birth parents would not. They would have to pay the money back since they already got their refund, or more likely, not receive a refund again until it’s paid in full. So, it will take a while for that money to come to us anyway.

My four attempts at IUI unfortunately were unsuccessful, but that’s in the past and I’m glad that we’re able to move on and take some time to just focus on being a family. Our little guy is transitioning beautifully! He loves playing with mommy’s old toys from when she was little, while at Grandma’s house during the day. Then he comes home to even more toys, thanks to his two cousins who have outgrown them. He’s just in heaven and very busy!

We may decide not to do IVF at all, who knows. That was just my back-up plan if foster care didn’t work out anyway. We have time to decide; there is no need to rush things. I’m happy with taking things one day at a time.

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Not My First Rodeo

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I got a phone call yesterday morning from the fertility clinic telling me I missed my appointment. I apologized to the nurse, saying that I meant to call, but was distracted by my new foster baby.

I informed her that I got my period on Saturday and I knew that I wasn’t pregnant, so I did not need to come in. She said that I did still need to come in. I asked why. She said to verify for their records! I said, “I’m telling you for your records, I’m not pregnant!” She said, “many women have bleeding and are still pregnant.” I said, “This is not my first rodeo! This is my fourth IUI. I think I’d know if I was pregnant or not. The nurse replied, “well, I’m going to mark in your file that you refused!” I said okay.

The nurse made me feel like I was in trouble in school and the principal was going to put it in my “permanent file?” Am I going to get detention? Are people going to whisper about me behind my back when I go to the office? “THAT’S the woman who didn’t want to get her blood work done!” Give me a break!

I understand that it was this nurse’s job to check on me and make sure I am following the procedures. However, it was bad enough to find out on Saturday that I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t need that phone call from the nurse, while I’m at school with my students, telling me that I need to stop all medication because the results were negative.”

This was my fourth and last IUI attempt. While I’m sad that it didn’t work for me, it’s kind of a relief in a way to know that I don’t have to worry about the injections, the doctor’s appointments and the copays. Luckily I have a new little guy in my life that will keep me plenty busy! I would be perfectly happy adopting him and moving on with my life. We’ll have to see what happens.

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The Waiting Game

alice-in-wonderland-white-rabbit-who-killed-time-2I’m four days post IUI and this is the hardest part… waiting. I have had some back pain, so it makes me wonder, is this a symptom? It’s still pretty early yet, but I’ve never had any symptoms after any of my other three IUIs.  I had four good sized follicles when I was inseminated. My husband had 50 million sperm, so you’d think those were pretty good odds (he says he must have been off his game, gag!). I find out on Feb. 25th.

We are looking to use our tax refund toward IVF instead of doing any more rounds of IUI. When I tried filing electronically, I was informed that someone already claimed our dependent on their taxes, therefore we couldn’t also claim them! This means, that our foster child’s birth parents, who didn’t have custody of him at all during 2012, claimed him on their taxes. While this is illegal, we have to figure out if it’s worth pursuing. For one, it will hold up our refund longer, meaning it will be longer that we’ll have to wait to do IVF. Second, it means that not only will the birth parent’s taxes be scrutinized, but ours will be as well. Lastly, if the child ever does come back into foster care, the birth parents will most likely be upset that we got the money and they didn’t, hurting our chances of getting the baby back.

My mom says that a thousand dollars is a thousand dollars and we should pursue it. My husband says the opposite. So, last night I decided to call the IRS and ask them what we should do. I sat on hold for 45 MINUTES before I got a tax person on the line who asked me a series of questions. Then she put me on hold again! Just as she was getting back to me with my answer, my cell phone died! I was soooo bummed out. Needless to say, I’m sitting here again, with my cell on speaker, but charged and typing as I wait.

I’m hoping that this back pain is a sign and I won’t have to worry about IVF or the size of my tax return because we can take a much needed vacation and work on the baby’s room instead!

Photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

How Are You Being Supported in Your Journey?

leading-you-up-the-garden-path-again-at-great-dixterIt’s not a question people think of asking, but it’s good to know you’re not alone. When I look at other blogs online, I see women who DID have fertility issues, but now have children. Or, women who have decided to be childfree. Women who adopted, etc. I couldn’t find a good blog about a thirty-something woman actively trying and going through this whole infertility process. That’s one of the reasons why I created this blog, because I felt like there had to be someone else out there who could relate to me.

I initially mentioned going to counseling, but that wasn’t going to work out with my schedule. So, we went to a support group yesterday for people who are going through infertility issues. What really surprised me was that it wasn’t all twenty somethings. They were people in their 30, 40s and older, from all walks of life, with a variety of reasons why they couldn’t get pregnant! There was one woman who had 8 IUIs and another that had 8 IVFs (she must have good insurance!). There was even another man there besides my husband. Infertility is ubiquitous (one of my student’s vocab words today, had to use it in a sentence) and it knows no boundaries and happens for no good reason sometimes. It was interesting to have others relate to me and to hear their stories.

I was afraid that this group was either going to be a bunch of women bitching and complaining or a bunch of sob stories. While there was some of both, it wasn’t all consuming. Let’s face it, all of our stories are sad and we’re on hormones, so we have a right to be bitchy! I did feel like I took something positive away from it and that I contributed to others. It’s something I’d like to do again and I’m glad it was a good experience for my husband and me.

It’s really important for people to not feel alone. Yes, I have very supportive friends and family, but they’re not walking in my shoes. Having someone who can actually relate to my situation alleviates a lot of stress and gives me a different perspective on things. I feel alone a lot, between being the only special ed teacher in my school, being a foster parent, going through infertility issues, etc. So anytime I can find someone who really KNOWS what it’s like, it really does make a difference and makes me feel a little bit better about things.

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Oh Jealousy

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100When I used to go to the fertility doctor and my husband would bring our foster baby, I could feel the sneers and stares as if other people were saying, “why is she here, she already has a baby.” One time a nurse asked me who’s baby it was, knowing that it couldn’t possibly have been mine.

I must admit that when I go to the grocery store or to the mall, I look at pregnant women or women with kids in a snide way. Why were they able to get pregnant and I’m going through all this trouble? I will park in the “expectant mom” parking space if there is nothing else free just to dare someone to question me. I guess I can be a bitch sometimes with a, “why them and not me?” mentality.

I recently just found out that a friend of mine, who is also a foster parent, just got a set of newborn twin girls right from the hospital. The birth mother has had 10 other children, all of whom have been previously adopted. So, there’s a good chance that these kids will also be free for adoption eventually. I congratulated her and wished her and her husband luck. What a wonderful opportunity!

I am happy for her. I do hope it turns out for her, but yes, I still want to cry. I think it’s okay to have a pity party once in a while.

On a positive note, I’m getting inseminated on Monday! I have 4 good sized follicles. Hopefully, it will go well.

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It’s All About Perspective

sleepy-alreadyUsually when I go to the Fertility Doctor, people just sit in the comfy, hotel-like setting of this posh office and keep to themselves. On one particular day, a man felt compelled to talk to me. It was quite entertaining, but made me think.

I was looking at the newspaper and the man, who I found out later was a retired cop, said, “go ahead and take those coupons, we pay enough for this place, you ought to get something for free.” I laughed it off and appreciated his sense of humor and felt for his wife who shushed him since my husband’s been known to be equally obnoxious.

After my appointment, I saw the same gentleman waiting out on a bench. He said that he never wanted kids. He and his first wife agreed to this, then she gave him an ultimatum and then eventually divorced. Then he met his second wife, she was also a cop and agreed that she didn’t want children and he had a vasectomy. Then she chided him to get it reversed. Well, 4 attempts at In Vitro later, they were still unsuccessful. He didn’t understand how he ended up at this juncture and since he was retired, he’d have to take care of a kid he didn’t even want.

I didn’t know how to respond to this man. I was on my third IUI attempt at the time. We were about to lose our foster baby. I couldn’t relate to his situation. So, I told him that maybe he should just take her to a Caribbean island and forget about life for a while.

I thought about my response because I guess that’s what I would like to do if I find out having children is not possible. I had much higher hopes for the foster care system. I had this picturesque vision of taking a child into our home, they loved us and we loved them and they stayed forever. So far, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. I didn’t picture myself going through numerous rounds of fertility treatments.

My sister had asked me once if I would feel like I missed out on something if I never gave birth. I really don’t think so. I only really went that round because it was cheaper than adoption. It’s not that I’m cheap, I just don’t see how it’s a viable option for us right now.

I do however find some solace in the fact that I will be done with IUI after this attempt. Don’t get me wrong, I want to have a child in my life very much, but I don’t like the torture of rejection each time it fails. It’s just a pleasant though I like to keep in the back of my mind that if we aren’t successful that we can still be happy by getting a little house on a little island and forget about life for a while.

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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.

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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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