Saturday, April 25, 2015

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)... AKA The Week Life Keeps Kicking Us Down

I think this is going to be a four-part post, with the following pieces intertwined:
1. National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)
2. The week from Hell in our house
3. Motivational quotes/pics
4. Where do we go from here?

The theme this year is: You Are Not Alone 

Honestly, part of that does make me happy and I do want to shout it from the rooftops (if I had a voice to- more on my lovely laryngitis later). Infertility is certainly no walk in the park on a beautiful spring day, BUT having a week to really shove awareness in people's faces is kind of fun. I've been dedicated to posting something about it on Instagram every day this week. I try to raise awareness all year long whenever I can, but this week is extra special. It's all about letting others know it's ok to share their story and not to be ashamed of being infertile. It's also to educate those who don't know anything about it (the lucky ones as I like to call you). So many friends often say they feel bad they don't know anything about the process of IUI, IVF, etc and I automatically say "That's ok! Why/How would you unless you know someone who's gone through it or have gone through it yourself. I certainly was pretty clueless to all of this too before it affected us personally." It's only natural. But now that it does affect us, I like people to realize some of the following tips:

- Be sensitive to others... Not everyone gets pregnant easily, naturally, quickly, or at all. 

- Relaxing will not magically make us pregnant. I know stress makes things more complicated, but being reminded to not stress out will likely only stress us out more. 

- Telling us to stop trying & it will happen when we least expect it doesn't help. I know people mean well, and I know so many have conceived unexpectedly after adopting or after different things, and yes we can give it a break... but a lot of people forget that in our case we are missing a KEY factor in making a baby. Sperm will not just magically appear. Scott is infertile. Cold but true fact we have accepted. I cannot get pregnant without doing IUI or IVF (now apparently only IVF since we all know 6 IUIs is enough for me, I'm done with that route, bitter topic). It's like if I was missing eggs- relaxing and taking a break won't magically make more eggs appear. 

- 1 in 8 couples is affected by some form of infertility. Chances are, many people you know, are going through this (or have already). Not everyone is comfortable talking about their journey, and that's ok. But raising awareness so others might feel comfortable opening up is a good thing. This is NOT an easy journey to go through, even with support. Imagine all those suffering quietly because it wasn't okay to share it. It needs to be normalized. Families come in all different forms and pregnancies happen in different ways. It's all OK. 

- You can wear pink/blue sometime this week in support. 

- Give an extra hug to someone you know who is struggling to become a parent (or to someone who has). 

My FAV nurse drew a heart on my Bandaid this week. Just because. :) 

A big part of NIAW for me is not only to raise awareness and get our story out, but to inspire others with our story. My heart breaks for anyone having to go through this, but it breaks even more for those suffering quietly. When the news first hit us, we were devastated and didn't know who or where to turn to. I got lucky in finding blogs & amazing women on Instragram, but not everyone is as lucky. I would turn to Dr. Google like so many of us do- and although it's not always a smart thing to do that in a crisis, it certainly helped in this case. I found message boards, blogs, and hashtags of posts that led me to a support group. Social media and hashtags can do wonders (sometimes). One day I must have searched #infertility or #ttc (TTC= Trying To Conceive) or something along those lines and BAM, eye-opener: WE ARE NOT ALONE... There are other people out there struggling with this. Our paths and stories all look different, but we all want the same thing, to be parents. That one thread bonds us all together and the heartache/hope/wish/dream is the same. Instant sisterhood. Instant support. Instant understanding. Instant help. Instant motivation, courage, strength, and comfort. I need to update the links on my blog bc there are hundreds of amazing women out there blogging about their fertility journeys and they're all inspirational. I hope to someday help people in turn, and obv hope to someday be the one with baby bump posts and motherhood posts, rather than the cheerleader cheering everyone else on (like always the bridesmaid and never the bride... always the aunt and never the mom.. etc) but I have to have faith it'll happen soon. The biggest thing about this is that there are MILLIONS of couples struggling, and it's ok. It's nothing to be ashamed of and the more it's talked about, the more normal it will become to insensitive and ignorant people of the world. It's ok to get pregnant in other ways. It's ok to become parents in other ways. Our hearts are big, our dreams are big, and we will fight to become parents no matter what it takes. 

Coming out with our story was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I'm constantly thankful that I was brave enough to make that decision. Sometimes shocked and sometimes proud because coming from shy me, it's a big step to publicize your struggles to the world. But it's also gained us so much support and has hopefully helped (or will help) others along the way too. It's been 2 years since I started this blog and I'm so humbled to hear when people are willing to read it or when I get emails from women who came across it on a google search. It makes my heart smile and that's why I post- awareness, support, and a healthy way to channel my emotions. 

A quick recap on this past week, AKA "The Week Life Keeps Kicking Us Down"...
1. Our house is on the market. Beautiful house & development, but we have power lines on our property/in the backyard... everyone LOVES the house and then bam, dealbreaker. :( We got the lines tested and they barely give off any electromagnet energy- to put it in perspective, the clock radio in the kitchen gives off the same as the closest pole in the yard. The microwave gives off about 10x as much as the closest pole. Translation- they're totally safe and just a potential eyesore if anything. Never really bothered us and they ended up blending in. We finally got an offer, after like 30 families turned it down, negotiated on price and came to an agreement. Realized our dream house is still available, want said dream house and now can't stop dreaming about dream house... then BAM buyers back out last Friday. Suddenly the poles are a prob for them, no deal. Strike one.

2. After our 6th, and most perfect, IUI attempt (most perfect in terms of EVERYTHING to possibly raise our chances of success in place) and me being super hopeful yet again, I got my period and BAM no baby. Strike two. (This was confirmed with a negative blood test on Monday, too, btw. So no chance of still being pregnant and what if it was something else, blah blah... nope. Not my luck.)

3A. I wake up Monday morning with a sore throat.... turned into a cold/post-nasal drip/laryngitis. I tend to get this every 1-3 years, usually in the beginning of spring, often around parent-teacher conferences (thankful it showed up after them, so there's 1 silver lining I suppose!). Not much I can do except let it run it's course, drink TONS of water and/or tea, and try not to talk more than I need to (Scott does love this part I'm sure). Since I kind of NEED to talk all day at school, that's difficult (try yelling to your class it's time to line up while on the playground... eeeek! Indoor play tomorrow I guess!). 

3B... In the middle of me getting sick (I happened to take Tues off as a sick day for myself to rest, before even losing my voice), I drove Scott to the ER on Tues morn. He woke up early with an unusual kind of stomach pain he's never experienced before and it lasted a few hours. It eventually started to move lower and to the right side. I called my brother because I knew he had his appendix taken out and described similar pain- at this point while talking on speaker phone and matching to Scott's symptoms, Scott started pacing the room and wincing in more pain. Off we went to the ER, which luckily is only 10 mins away. And how ironic I had already taken off from work, so I was home and didn't need to make any work arrangements. Long story short, we were there 3 hours (blood drawn, stomach pressed on painfully by the Dr, gross fluids drank, morphine trip to help with pain, IV bags) and finally a CT scan showed that it was actually a case of acute pancreatitis. His pancreas became inflamed, causing severe pain. Looking this up online, and talking to the Dr, this can be caused by heavy drinking. But the funny thing is Scott wasn't drinking heavily. We have a drink or two some nights of the week, and Saturday night had a few extra, but honestly nothing I would consider alarming, and nothing that warranted a hangover the next day. Weird. We also wonder if it was somewhat of a fluke caused by a combo of some drinking, diff meds he was put on for bronchitis last week, eating lots of meat, and obv being stressed. The kicker is that until the inflammation goes down, the Dr. said *NO* alcohol, protein, fats (and upon researching, also no dairy) because the pancreas works extra hard to process these foods.... they suggested a bland diet of rice and pasta. We threw in some fruits & veggies too. Poor Scott, his diet is so boring and restricted this week. Once inflammation goes down, next week he can have most normal stuff again but drinking needs to be VERY limited. Like 1-2 drinks, that's it. We know it's a healthier lifestyle and ironically were just discussing this with his nutritionist at the Dr the day before this happened, but there's a difference when it's by choice and when it's forced. It just takes more time to get used to mentally, and at this point feels like a punishment. He just feels like he's being kicked down and punished over and over, and is sick of being sentenced with for-life things... Testosterone treatment for life, he developed some odd throat/swallowing disorder and needs to use a daily inhaler to prevent it for the rest of his life, now having certain diet restrictions possibly for life, asthma for life, infertile for life, it's just a bit too much for a guy who is so completely amazing in so many ways. Nice guys finish last- it's not fair and he doesn't deserve this. 

3 strikes.

House stress.... Fertility stress... Health stress.... That was strike 3. NO MORE BAD NEWS... Done. TIME TO FIGHT BACK! (Wise words from my friend, Ryan) :) 

 So where do we go from here?

We're currently (I think) at the bottom, ground zero. I was on cloud 9 two weeks ago, thinking of the possibility of everything suddenly working out for us. Now we are laying on the floor with only one direction to move in... UP. We can only go up from here. Time to start climbing and building strength/motivation again.

We have decided we are done with IUI. Before this past cycle, I initially wanted to try for a few more times, but I keep putting my ALL into every cycle. Physically, mentally, spiritually, I've done it all. Every factor was in place this time to boost our chances and it still didn't work with all the odds in our favor. So I've kind of lost faith in the process and can't put myself through that again for only a 20% chance of success (even that is prob higher than it likely is).

Moving on to IVF seems like the best option for us, and the step that makes the most sense to come next. Originally I thought I would like to keep going with more IUIs, like up to 10 or so, but I've had a change of hearts. Most clinics seem to suggest IVF after about 3 or 4 IUIs, bc if it hasn't happened by then, it probably won't. Even though insurance covers the bulk of IUI, we are still paying a lot each cycle, and if we keep going, we will end up dishing out the cost of IVF anyway (just spread out). I can't keep putting myself through this emotional turmoil for such low chances, it only makes our hearts ache more, and we certainly aren't getting any younger. So it finally hit me, reluctantly at first, that if this past cycle didn't work with ALLLLL those perfect scenarios in place, then we need to close the door and move on. So IVF, here we come... eventually.

It hasn't been decided exactly when we will start the IVF process, but I definitely want to before another school year starts back up in September. So that gives us a few months to play with. I think another break is much needed for my mental and physical well-being, as well as our bank accounts. I'm still on the fence of whether or not to start up before school lets out, or wait until we are back from a vacation in early July. There are pros and cons of each. But ultimately we need to have an IVF consult with our Dr, so I'll set that up soon now that the dust is starting to settle a bit around here.

To be honest, the IVF process terrifies me and scares me to my core. I know I said the same about IUI, and acupuncture, and blood draws (HA! That's all child's play at this point), and I became a pro at those things (who knew... it still seriously amazes me). I know I can, and will, survive the IVF process as well (as SOOO many women have, and so many who inspire me on a daily basis, a lot of them now moms), but still scares the heck out of me. There will be extra needles, extra meds, BIGGER NEEDLES & some that Scott will need to inject into my fatty rear end... ughhhh, seriously cringing at that thought... of the needle AND trusting Scott to do it (we joke about him happily stabbing me), and having to go under for the egg retrieval procedure... all are making me shout OUCHHHH in my mind. But I suppose I have time to adjust to the thought of it, build up lots and lots of inspiration and motivation, suck it up, and just do it. It's all for a baby, and because of that I have to keep my eyes on the prize at the end. It will all be worth it some day when we hold our baby (or babies) in our arms. Some day that wish WILL come true. We are doing all we can to get there.

NIAW comes to an end today, but infertility awareness will forever be a part of our lives. It's been one hell of a week, for all kinds of reasons, but I'm finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It cannot rain forever, and things have to start looking up. They just have to. I already feel mentally way better than last week. This one took longer to get over because of everything else that hit us at the same time this week, but we will boost forward again. I've said it before and I'll say it for the rest of my life, Scott is my sanity in all of this, and I would not be able to cope with things so well if it weren't for his strength and support. #TeamRicci has made it through many obstacles and we will make it through this one too. I'm so lucky to have such an amazing guy as my husband and the father of our future babies. I'm forever thankful for you, hun. I love you! <3 We will get through all of this as well, because we'll do it together.

Ending on another positive note, I have to share the highlight of my day yesterday. A coworker at school breeds Bernese Mountain dogs, and one recently had 2 puppies. She brought them by yesterday for a visit and I was in puppy heaven!! This little cutie is 8 weeks (they get very big!) and is off to a new family today. They look like such stuffed animals and were THE cutest. It put me in total puppy love and now I want a puppy of our own. If we are lucky enough to move before September, maybe we can make that happen. We've always said we'd have a dog after kids, and that has taken forever as well. At this point I'm thinking it would be nice to have a dog already trained and settled before kids arrive. But summer would be best for me to be able to help/train it since I'm home more, so maybe that will work out for us. Who knows. We would get a different kind because these beauties are too big, but seriously HOW CUTE is this puppy!!!! I finally got to smile again this week. Thanks for pointing that out to me, Jess. <3 :)

For real. highlight of my day!!! She is NOT a stuffed animal, just one of the cutest puppies ever!!!

That's all, folks... for now. ;)

As always, forever thankful for your love & support!! Thanks for reading!

Stace <3

1 comment:

  1. She definitely is a cutie!

    Hang in there - I know sometimes it seems like it will never happen, but you have such a great attitude and if you keep going hopefully IVF will be the answer to your prayers!

    I won't pretend it's a fun process (it's not, it took us three collection rounds to get our BFP) but if you focus on the light at the end of the tunnel you can handle anything. Go Team Ricci!