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Archive for the tag “pregnancy loss”

What a difference a year makes…

Last year at this time, I was just a few days past my embryo transfer, and was hoping and praying for a miracle. I had already been through so much — multiple miscarriages, lots of tests, a ton of poking and prodding by my doctors, and then a shift to try IVF as last resort to help me get and stay pregnant. Thankfully, it worked! I vividly remember the call from my doctor telling me that I was pregnant and then suffering through hyper-stimulated ovaries for weeks on end until my HCG levels normalized.

During the first trimester, we went in for an ultrasound to check on our baby’s growth every week. Those appointments were both frightening and exciting. Seeing the amazing changes and growth that embryo went through was truly remarkable, but I was terrified about having another miscarriage. Week after week, I was reassured that he was growing and everything was normal. I had never wanted to be “normal” so badly in my life. Thankfully, my 2nd and 3rd trimesters were normal — I was healthy and little man was healthy — and I had a relatively “easy” delivery!

I didn’t realize how hard my fertility journey was on me and my psyche. I really wasn’t myself for so long. Going through years of pain and loss wore me down. Luckily, I have an amazing support network that helped me to continue in our journey to have a child. Now that we have our son, I know that every ounce of pain, every tear, and every loss was worth the happiness I now have. My soul has been renewed; I am happier, more positive, and feel better about life. I am back to the woman I was before all of this started, and am SO grateful for the life I have. It’s truly amazing the difference a year can make…

Baby dust to those of you who are still in the midst of your struggle — I hope and pray that you get your miracle soon!

 

When Infertility Strikes

Here’s a good article about how to support couples who are dealing with infertility. This disease doesn’t just affect the couple, it also impacts their friends, families, and loved ones.

Reprinted from Resolve.org

When Infertility Strikes

 Although infertility is widely acknowledged as a crisis for individuals and couples, it is less recognized as a trauma that impacts their families. Yet, involuntary childlessness is an intergenerational crisis that has the ability to strain, even damage, family relationships over time by impairing communications and interactions. Invisible losses, such as miscarriages, failed medical treatments, or adoptions gone awry, may highlight a family’s inadequate means of dealing with problems. Old family issues, jealousies and resentments may resurface or other family struggles, such as parental illness or the pregnancy of a sibling, may take priority over reproductive difficulties, leaving the infertile couple feeling isolated and abandoned. The lack of acknowledgment of the losses associated with infertility may damage family interactions, particularly if family members use negative coping techniques such as blaming, side-taking, denial or avoidance. However, the family experience of infertility also has the potential to bring out the best in the family system, promoting growth and well-being for the members. This article will examine family dynamics impacting infertility and discuss ways to help deal with the demands infertility places on the family system.

Family Systems

Some families faced with infertility grow closer and find ways to provide support, compassion, and understanding in the midst of the maelstrom of profound loss and despair. These families are able to handle the myriad of negative emotions of infertility, and weather the pain of its many losses. They acknowledge the despair of this unique loss and its impact on the family as a whole, not simply on the individual or couple. Family members listen, openly communicate warmth and compassion, and ask for what the couple wants or needs during the infertility journey. And, they are willing to provide support in a variety of ways, including participation in rituals for commemorating losses as a family (e. g., attendance of service after a miscarriage) and a willingness to adjust family life to accommodate the realities of the infertile couple’s situation (e.g., adapt gatherings to meet treatment plans or emotional needs). However, even strong, healthy families can find the challenges of infertility daunting and draining, particularly the pain of being an observer in a drama in which your loved one is suffering and there is little one can do to relieve that suffering.

Involuntary childlessness is an interruption of the family life cycle. Family building is a developmental stage that represents generativity or fostering the next generation. It is a life cycle stage in which each and every member of the family transitions from one developmental stage to another, and in the process assumes new roles and new role responsibilities: couples move from being spouses to parents; their parents become grandparents; their siblings become aunts or uncles; nieces and nephews become cousins, and so on. Infertility is the obstacle blocking these normal transitions and preventing family members from assuming new developmental roles.

Interruption of normal life cycle transitions can highlight a family’s unique flaws, precipitating negative behaviors such as; parental favoritism; poor communication; and/or unhealthy coping strategies. Infertility may also require family members to re-examine some long-held family beliefs if they cause increased distress. For example, the belief that an offspring is not an adult until he/she is also a parent, or children owe parents grandchildren. In short, infertility has the ability to distress not only infertile couples but also, also, their families, resulting in ‘collateral damage’ that lingers long after the problem of childlessness has been resolved.

Interfamily Relationships

Very often parents of an infertile couple feel caught between their infertile child and their ‘fertile’, sometimes pregnant, child(ren). Naturally, both offspring may expect to rely on their parents for emotional support at this significant time in their lives. While this is a realistic expectation, many parents may, for a variety of reasons, end up providing more support to the ‘pregnant’ child than the infertile couple. Sometimes this happens when a parent is more knowledgeable about providing support around pregnancy and parenthood issues than about infertility. Other times, it may be that pregnancy and grandparenthood is a happier, more enjoyable experience, while infertility brings sadness, loss, and a variety of negative emotions. In addition, the infertile offspring may not have asked for parental help, keeping infertility a secret, or may have asked for assistance that is impossible to provide. Many parents become paralyzed by their child’s pain and feel helpless to know what to do. Sometimes they feel trapped in the middle-or worse, their children demand they declare a specific loyalty or that they take sides. It is important to remember that parents still set the tone for family interactions and values, even in adulthood, and must refuse to take sides.

A significant challenge to parents of adult children is knowing when and how to provide feedback-particularly when it may not be wanted or appreciated. How does a parent say, “Telling me to support you by asking that I reject your sibling is inappropriate. I will support you in any way I can, but not by being hurtful to your sibling.” Or “While it is wonderful that you are overjoyed with your new baby, I expect you to be compassionate of your sibling’s feelings while they struggle to have children.” Parents must be aware that watching a sibling move through the stages of pregnancy is typically most difficult for the infertile couple.

Parents faced with their children’s infertility are often baffled by this crisis. It is an ‘invisible’ loss that involves private marital issues, complex medical treatments, and a rollercoaster of emotions. They may know how to support a fertile child, because of their own experience, and may be less clear about their role of support for infertile child. As with other experiences in parenting, they may have difficulty dealing with different children, with different needs, and coming from two very different life experiences.

Families dealing with infertility must find ways to help each member feel respected and acknowledge, despite their differences. It is important to define goals for strengthening the family which help to keep the group intact, communication open, and strengthening the functioning of all members.

The following suggestions are advice for family members and couples struggling with infertility and is based, in part, on Patricia Irwin Johnston’s Understanding Infertility:Insights for Family and Friends:

For Family Members:

  • Acknowledge infertility as a medical and emotional crisis with a wide variety of losses, disappointments and ‘costs’: physical, financial, social, marital. Do not attempt to deny or minimize involuntary childlessness either by avoiding the topic or offering empty platitudes like, “Everything will be fine” or “Just relax”. Avoid offering unsolicited advice and never interfere by taking sides, blaming, or imposing rigid expectations or limitations.
  • Be sensitive to the pain, stress, and emotional pressure of childlessness or the inability to expand one’s family as desired. If it is difficult to know what to say, tell the couple rather than saying nothing. Ask them what you might say or do that would be helpful. Try to frequently convey care and compassion and do not ‘forget’ the couple over time as the months and years of the infertility struggle drag on. Be cognizant that some junctures in the journey may be more difficult than others such as after a miscarriage, failed in vitro fertilization cycle, or surgery that fails to produce the hoped for results. Remembering the couple with a card, phone call, donation in their names, flowers, or some other kind gesture can make the journey less difficult.
  • Be supportive. Do not assume you know what supportive means to your loved one but, instead, ask how you can be supportive: what would they find most helpful and useful? If you are able, consider ways in which you can assist emotionally (listening during a ‘good cry’) and functionally (offering financial assistance). Offer to simply listen and be ready to listen when called upon.
  • Emphasize the importance and value of the couple (and each partner) in the family. Encourage and welcome their involvement as a couple or individually in family events and activities. Once it occurs, infertility becomes a part of the family’s history; how a family adapts and copes with the events and stress will be forever part of the family’s past. Like any stressor, infertility can strain family functioning or improve it. Families need to be sensitive about the needs of the infertile couple, particularly around child centered family gatherings. It is important that they understand the infertile couple’s decision not to come may be important.
  • Always keep the lines of communications open. Stress the importance of honesty, candor, tact, and diplomacy in family interactions. It is not a good idea to hide pregnancies ‘out of kindness’ or not invite the infertile couple to child-centered family events; or keep secrets out of fear of upsetting the couple. Always think about how things are told as much as what is being told: tact, kindness, and privacy can go a long way to soften the blow of difficult news. Open communication also means being able to express concern if there is evidence of significant emotional distress. When expressing concern always offer suggestions for help, such as seeking support and counseling through RESOLVE or an infertility counselor.
  • Respect the boundaries the infertile couple sets regarding their infertility. Some couples prefer a high level of privacy about infertility. Other choose a more open approach. When in doubt, ask the couple their preference.

Day 42 — Superstitious

Stay Positive

Happy Thoughts!

Today’s intention is to visualize a successful pregnancy!

Do you ever laugh at your own interesting silliness? I have always been superstitious. I think it’s because I grew up playing sports. I had lucky socks, played for a team that didn’t wash our uniforms during tournaments because it was bad luck (we had a few different uniforms, but it was still gross), and even had pre-game and in-game rituals that I followed religiously. Even to this day, I have certain superstitions that I just can’t seem to let go. For example, I am a little obsessed with the number 8. Growing up, I wore 8 (or some combination of numbers that would add or multiply to 8) on all my sports teams. For softball and track, I was 8 or 88 and for basketball, I wore 42 (4×2 =8) or 44 (4+4 = 8). Even now, when I play in adult leagues, I am always #8. So, it’s only natural, that during my fertility journey I would continue with my superstitious ways. Thankfully, my body seems to be cooperating. At the doctor this morning, I was in my usual ultrasound position, and much to my surprise, the doctor found another follicle in my left ovary. So, now, each ovary has 8 happy follicles for a total of 16! I was thrilled when I realized that each ovary had 8 eggs — it was as if the universe was saying to me — don’t worry, everything is going to be alright! I don’t know how to explain it, but it just helped me to feel better! 

I am grateful for 8 happy eggs in each ovary; a beautiful, sunny day; my brother’s fiance; my wonderful hubby; great friends; my health; IVF; and great doctors and nurses!

I love and accept myself!

 

5 Tips to Stay Happy and Sane while Trying to Conceive

This is a great article about Trying to Conceive. As most of us know, the whole TTC process can be daunting and overwhelming at times. This blog offers great ideas to keeping the crazy-feelings at bay. 
ENJOY!

5 Tips to Stay Happy and Sane while Trying to Conceive.

Day 37: Estrogen-filled

Today’s intention is to be positive!

Today, I feel estrogen-filled. I feel bloated and crampy, and am expecting good news from the doctor about my estradiol levels. Estradiol, or E2, basically indicates how my ovaries are reacting to the meds — the higher the number, the more follicles. It’s an interesting balance, however, because the doctors don’t want my E2 level to rise too quickly since that could indicate over-stimulation and/or poor egg quality. This whole journey reminds me of the story of the 3 Bears — we want the numbers to be just right to indicate that enough of eggs are cooking at the correct rate for the best quality embryos and a healthy pregnancy. I also feel a bit like a human petri dish as the doctor’s try to figure out what quantity of medicine will produce the best results. 

On Monday, my E2 level was 62, which means that my ovaries weren’t ripening enough follicles, hence the increase in Gonal-F. Since the increase in meds, I definitely feel differently, and hope it means that the meds are working. I am more tired, feel much more going on in my lower abdomen, and feel more tenderness in my breasts — I almost feel pregnant. I am also more tender at and around the injection site, especially around the one from last night. I was actually worried that I did the injection incorrectly because it stung and was very tender, but I checked with the nurse this morning, she said it was normal. This morning was another blood test to check my E2 levels. Fingers and toes are crossed that my levels are increasing at the correct rate, so I can finally have an ultra-sound to see what is going on down there.

Will update soon with the results — GROW, follicles, GROW!

I am grateful for excellent doctors and supportive nurses; egg-cooker meds; IVF; my health; an amazing support network of family and friends; and, my lovely hubby!

I love and accept myself!

Day 32 – Emotional

Today’s intention is to enjoy the beauty and sunshine!

Today, I feel emotional, not in the I am going to cry at any second way, but in the I feel so many emotions way. I feel like time has literally flown by – we will be starting IVF injections tomorrow night! I am thrilled that we are beginning, and terrified that it might not work. I am happy that my body is cooperating so far, and hopeful that it will continue to agree with the meds. I am still mourning our past pregnancy losses, and frightened that we will have another one. I am doing best to feel what I feel. I must allow myself to ride this emotional roller coaster – pretending that I always feel happy and positive isn’t a true representation of what’s going on in my head. Through all of this, I still know that we will have a baby, and I continue to pray that it will be this cycle. I envision my growing belly, feeling my precious miracle moving, giving birth, and being new parents. These days are so close, and i am sure the time will fly, just like the time waiting to begin IVF.

I am grateful for my hubby; my amazing friends who continue to support and love me no matter what; my fabulous family; my great doctors; my health; IVF beginning tomorrow; and a wonderful weekend trip with friends and family!

Day 2 – how did you and your partner decided when you were ready to start trying to conceive?
I’ve always wanted to be a mom, so made sure to discuss this with my husband before we were married. We both want to have children, so we discussed how many and when we’d like to start trying. Our plan was to wait about a year and start trying, but we actually waited about 6 months to start trying.

I love and accept myself!

Day 31 – Excited

Today’s intention is to take care of myself.

Today, I feel excited. Tomorrow, hubby, a great friend, and I are driving down to visit my twin brother and his fiance. We will also get to spend time with my best friend and her wonderful girlfriend — I can’t wait! Everyone is running in a 5k mudrun, and I am the ‘official’ group photographer. On Sunday, we are heading to brunch to celebrate my BF’s birthday — yay! It will be a great weekend full of amazing people! I honestly can’t wait. Yay!

I also started my period today and will be heading to the RE tomorrow morning for blood work and an ultrasound. The Dr will check my hormone levels and make sure my ovaries are ready to begin producing eggs. She will use this information to make any final tweaks to my medication protocol and to make sure that we are indeed ready to get this baby-making party started. As we get closer to Injection-day, I am feeling more confident. I even dreamt about poking myself last night — it was a good dream, and I feel more prepared and calm.

I am grateful for the love and support from many amazing people — my friends and family, I couldn’t do this without all of you!; my awesome hubby; my Kahli-bear; my great doctors; health insurance; my health; my knowledge; acupuncture; and, IVF!

Question of the Day — What does your blog name mean?
My blog name simply states what I think will help us to have a baby — a lot of love mixed with plenty of hope = baby!

I love and accept myself!

 

30 Days of Questions

I am going to add some get-t0-know me questions to my blog over the next 30-days. Thank you Laughing Promises for sharing!

Here are the questions:

DAY 1 – What is the meaning behind your blog name?

DAY 2 – How did you and your partner decide when you were ready to start trying to conceive?

DAY 3:  What is in your handbag?

DAY 4 – Besides Mother’s Day, what is the toughest holiday to celebrate as someone who is facing fertility challenges?

DAY 5:  List 15 facts about yourself.

DAY 6:  Talk about how you chose your RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist).

DAY 7:  What is in your makeup bag?

DAY 8:  If an observant stranger were to walk into your house, what clues could lead them to believe that you have struggled with fertility?

DAY 9:  If you won the lottery what would you blow your money on (after charity and bills, of course)?  List 10 things you would buy or spend money on.

DAY 10:  If you are not yet pregnant/a parent: What are you MOST and LEAST looking forward to after that first beta?

DAY 11:  Where do you like to shop?

DAY 12:  If you are not yet a parent: What are you MOST looking forward to about parenthood?

DAY 13:  Describe your dream vacation.

DAY 14:  Tell us about your funniest Clomid/Follistim/injectables mood-swing story.  If you don’t have one, tell us your funniest general infertility drug story.

DAY 15:  List 5 things you want to do before you die.

DAY 16:  Have you ever bonded with someone IRL over infertility, even just for a few minutes?  It could be a family member, friend, neighbor, or even the clerk at the grocery store who noticed you OPK and vitamin purchase.  Tell the story.

DAY 17:  If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?

DAY 18:  What is your favorite infertility-related quote?  It doesn’t have to be explicitly related to infertility, but one that means something to your personal journey.

DAY 19:  List 5 pet peeves.

DAY 20:  Were you a product of infertility?

DAY 21:  List 5 guilty pleasures.

DAY 22:  How has your financial situation affected your infertility journey?

DAY 23:  Put your iPod on shuffle.  List the first 10 songs that play.

DAY 24:  Does your religion (or lack of) help/hurt/affect your infertility journey?  Have you found religion?  Lost it?  Does it affect what treatments you do?

DAY 25:  What was your first baby or pregnancy-related purchase you ever made?  Was it before or after you started trying to conceive?  Or was it after you were already pregnant?  Why did you choose that particular item to buy first?  If you haven’t purchased anything yet, why not?

DAY 26:  Post a picture of something that makes you happy.

DAY 27:  What do you use the “nursery” for right now?

DAY 28:  Have you ever done something “non-traditional” in order to help you conceive?

Day 29:  What is your favorite book?

DAY 30:  After a month of infertility talk, we need a distraction.  Give us a link to one of your favorite non-infertility-sites, or tell us about your favorite distraction activity/book/feel-good movie.

Day 30 — So many meds?!?!?!

Today is my last day of birth control pills — yay! I am a bundle of mixed emotions — happy, scared, anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, and excited (to name a few)–  and can hardly believe that we are starting this cycle! The most overwhelming part currently is the medications. Starting on Saturday, I will have a nightly injection of Menopur mixed with Gonal-F. The purpose of these meds is to stimulate my ovaries into making multiple eggs — the more eggs, the better. The doctor will continuously check my hormone levels and my ovaries via ultrasound to see how many eggs are developing. Based on this information, s/he will adjust my dosages. My first egg check is Monday morning, so I could have a new medicine protocol very early in my cycle.

The second injection will begin mid-week. Since I am doing what’s called an antagonist cycle, I will begin a second medication to keep my estrogen levels from increasing too quickly while my eggs continue to mature. It’s very important to keep my estrogen levels at bay since, if they get too high, I will ovulate prematurely, and the cycle will ruined. Once I begin the antagonist injections, I will go to the doctor daily for hormone checks and ultrasounds.

The third injection is the HCG trigger shot. This one is super important because it’s the final shot in the egg maturation process. I will take a high dose of HCG, which will force my body to super-ovulate all the maturing eggs at the same time. This injection will be perfectly timed so that our egg retrieval takes places exactly 36-hours later. Amazing!

The final injection is progesterone. I will begin these injections the day of my retrieval. Progesterone is key to pregnancy success — it’s basically the hormone that sustains early pregnancy. Hubby will give me these injections in my lower back, and I am a little nervous about him having to inject me. According to anecdotal evidence, this injection causes the most pain because it’s done inside the muscle. There is also a chance that he could a blood vessel — not that big of a deal, but it means that you have to start the injection over from scratch.

Other than the injections, I will go under sedation for the retrieval and will take Valium the day of the transfer to help my uterus relax. I will also take an antibiotic starting on retrieval day to fight infection and additional estrogen to help thicken my uterine lining. SO MANY DRUGS!

I am not nervous about the actual injections  — it’s easy and doesn’t hurt — but the drug mixing, that’s another story. I am so worried that I will screw it up. For the first injection, I have to mix the correct amount of Menopur and Gonal-f to create one injection. I think it would be easier to just take them as two injections, but that’s not an option. The meds come in powder form and must be reconstituted with saline. To do this, I have to use different needles and have to be careful to not contaminate the meds. I have detailed instructions and we went through a thorough instructional session with the head nurse, but it’s all a little overwhelming. I am sure that after Saturday night, I will be a pro!

I am grateful for great friends; a wonderful family; insurance; my loving hubby; Spring weather; sunshine; my puggle; and my health!

I love and accept myself!

One step closer to baby!

We are officially one step closer to our baby — yay! We had our BIG IVF consult with our doctor, the head nurse, and the insurance consultant. First, we met with our RE to discuss the procedure and sign a ton of consent forms — never thought I’d have to consider what I’d do with our embryos if we were found to be mentally incompetent… The RE also explained the purpose of the different medicines, what to expect during the cycle, and answered our questions. Next, we went into one of the exam rooms for the sample transfer and sonohysterogram. For these, my bladder had to be full, so I was ready to have them over ASAP! I assumed the position, the speculum went in and before I knew it, the sample transfer was done — the goal of this procedure is to measure the depth of your uterus. On “real” transfer day, they will insert the embryos 1 cm from the top of my uterus so they can find their happy home in my uterine wall. Next, came the sonohysterogram. My RE injected water into my uterus to get a few high-quality pictures of my uterine wall to check for any abnormalities. Thankfully, there were none — I have a perfect uterus for baby growth! The procedures were over pretty quickly and weren’t too painful. I have had some cramping and a little bit of uncomforableness, but nothing that I can’t handle.

From there, we met with our insurance consultant. IVF with ICSI has been approved by our insurance, so (thankfully) we only pay our $25 co-pay for each visit. We also have a co-pay for the medications — each medication requires that we pay our co-pay. As anyone who reads my blog knows, dealing with our insurance company has been a nightmare. We ran into another snafu today with their pharmacy. The head nurse requested our meds last Wednesday, and I still haven’t heard from the pharmacy. We called today and they are still waiting for approval. GRRRR! We explained that I need the meds by Friday because I begin injections on Saturday, and the rep promised she would put a rush on the request. I don’t understand how my meds haven’t been approved when my IVF was approved on 4/11. ANNOYED! On the bright side, I can always “borrow” the meds from my RE’s office if they don’t arrive on time.

Our final stop was with the head nurse. She reviewed the schedule with us and gave us an injection lesson. The most daunting part is the mixing of the medications; I am fine with injecting myself. Hubby will have to help with my injections after the retrieval because the progesterone shot is done in my back right above my rear end. I am sure he will do fine, although he seemed a little nervous.

Here’s our tentative schedule:
Tomorrow, 4/24 — take my final BC pill
Friday, 4/27 — back to RE for BW and U/S
Saturday, 4/28 — Start once-a-day injections of Menopur (2 vials) and Gonal-F (300 units) — these drugs help my body to mature multiple eggs. The nurse referred to them as “egg cookers.”
Sunday, 4/29 — Injection
Monday, 4/30 — back to RE for BW and U/S — dr will call with medication instructions, but injections will continue through this week. The Dr will adjust the medications based on how I am responding to the “egg cookers”
Tuesday, 5/1 — Injection
Wednesday, 5/2 —
back to RE for BW and U/S — dr will let us know when to begin the antagonist. The antagonist helps to reduce the estrogen in my system so I don’t ovulate too soon, so I will be taking 2 injections at this point — the Menopur + Gonal-F and the antagonist
Thursday through HCG injection day — daily visits at the RE for BW and U/S; on HCG-day (which triggers the eggs to mature at the same time) stop all other injections.
Week of 5/7/12 — 36-hours after HCG shot, the RE will retrieve the eggs. Retrieval day will fall during this week; begin progesterone injections
3 to 5-days after Retrieval will be the transfer!
2 Weeks Later = Positive Pregnancy Test 🙂
9ish months later = Beautiful healthy baby!

So, that’s it! Our path to a healthy baby. It’s so close, I can just feel it! Happy thoughts to all 🙂

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