Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears..

What does it feel like to give up? Some times I think that I've given up on this journey of trying to have a baby. I know myself better than to think I could just give up on something that is so important to not only myself, my husband & my family, but other times I wonder if life would be so much easier if I did.

How do you know when you're ready to give up? I can't remember the last time I went a day, or an hour, without being reminded of the hole in my heart that seems to keep getting bigger as our time as a child-less couple passes.

I am surrounded with so many people that offer me so much love & support, who encourage me day after day to keep strong, reminding me that it will happen when it is meant to happen. People who don't have any experience with infertility, and conception, always ask "Why isn't that enough?" Why can't I just accept it, and go about my day - my life - and let things happen how they are meant to happen? 

Good question.

Do you know what it is like to not be in control of your own body? To not know what is happening, when its happening, why its happening? Better yet - why is it NOT happening? Do you know what it feels like to want something so. damn. bad. and to live every single day knowing that you may never, ever, ever get it? 

Infertility isn't a blessing - I'm not "thankful" that I don't have to deal with morning sickness, I'm not "glad" that I don't have children to pick up after, I'm not "lucky" because we can take trips when we want to.. I'm heart broken that I may never have the opportunity to be someone's hero, or to be loved unconditionally like a child can love their mother. 

I know I haven't given up on our journey because I still fight through every single waking moment of my life knowing that one day it will all be worth it. I still look at my husband and smile at the thought of us creating a life together that will be a little bit of everything I love about him. I still use "when" instead of "if", I still cry when another cycle begins and I still have a little bit of hope for every late day

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ten fingers, ten toes...

My oldest niece, Sheena, who is just 15 years young gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl this morning at 3:35, weighing in at 6lbs 14ounces. Last night I drove 2 hours to the hospital when my sister told me she had been admitted & was in labor. I was nervous, I was scared, I was anxious, I was happy, I was sad but most of all, I was proud.

After 30 long hours of pain that couldn't be comforted, after only 10 minutes of giving it all she had, after an hour of clean up, and after 9 months of the most emotional roller coaster we have ever rode on together, I can honestly say, I have never seen anything more beautiful.

I don't just mean that Olivia is beautiful, but to see this little girl that came in to my life over a decade ago - this little girl that consumed so much of my life over so many years, this little girl that danced & sang without a care in the world - holding on to something so tiny, so precious, that she created. That, that was beautiful.

The list of things our family has been through over the years is inexplicable. We've shared so many memories, some good, some not so good, some amazing & some that we can't help but want to forget. This one? this is my new favorite memory. It wasn't always my favorite though. the rush of emotions flowing through me when I found out just 8 months ago that my baby girl, 1/4 of my entire universe, was expecting can not be put in to words. I can tell you that I was mad, I was hurt, I was disappointed - but that doesn't explain it. It was hard, it was harder than anything I have ever had to go through. I fought with myself, with my emotions and my heart, with my mind & my soul and I kept fighting. Why? Because that's what I do.

Until I held that tiny baby in my arms, just a few minutes after she was born, I didn't know how I would feel about welcoming her into our family. I was afraid that I could not overcome the feelings I felt at the beginning. I was worried that my relationship with Sheena, and my sister, would never be the same - but not because of the situation - because of my own struggles with infertility.

I couldn't have been more wrong to feel this way.

I have never felt so much love from my family, so much support & comfort as I did today. My own struggles have made me a stronger person, a better person. Even though I didn't carry these girls around for 9 months, even though I didn't give birth to them myself I know that I helped shape them into the most amazing little women. I know that I don't need to be a biological parent to feel the unconditional love that a parent feels, because I feel it every time I look at them. No one will convince me otherwise.

I am proud to know that a small part of me will help Sheena (& Will) raise Olivia to be the most beautiful human being that she could possibly be. I can't wait to see what the future brings for our family, for my family.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

What it means to me..

I refuse to believe that I will be facing infertility forever. Right now? Right now we're just taking as many steps as we can for me to conceive as naturally as possible. Yeah, yeah that's it...

What does (temporary) infertility mean to you? Because to me, it means avoiding all possible lapses of sanity when Aunt Flo stops by for another un-welcomed visit, suitcase in hand, bringing all those distant cousins of hers that no one likes - Cramps, Headache & Hormonal Bitch - they make for one awkward dinner conversation. It means unintentional teeth grinding for every pregnancy announcement I see/hear. It means maintaining my relationship with my friends & co-workers who conceive effortlessly while consoling my husband, whose heart breaks equally with every stop at the store for tampons & Pringles. 

For me, infertility is: the answers never being what you want them to be. Never being satisfied with the next step. Constantly having to withdraw myself from situations where I may be asked "so, when are ya'll planning on having kids?" so as to not spontaneously melt into a pile of hot mess. Refraining from throat-punching the people who feel it completely necessary to tell me that my life is so wonderful because "you don't have kids to worry about". 

For me, infertility is a constant struggle to make it through the day without lashing out, or breaking down. 

I'm not a religious person. I have my own beliefs & my own opinion on how the world came to be what it is today. However - throughout this journey, this struggle, this heartbreak - I can't help but remember something my Nanny (RiP <3) used to quote every morning when she woke up..

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Whether there is a God or not, whether there is a higher power or there isn't - I need someone to grant me the aforementioned serenity, courage & wisdom. I cross my fingers while I wish upon every star, every candle I blow out, every 11:11 that passes, every wishbone I encounter to be blessed with the opportunity to be a mother. I want to attach someone to the other end of the string that is already wrapped around my husbands pinky finger, waiting to be tugged on. I want to be proud, and to love like I have never loved before. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

You never know how strong you are...

Until being strong is the only choice you have...

     I met Chris, my husband,  in early 2006. We started dating November 2007 & were engaged by July 2008. Early in our relationship we knew what we wanted in life, from ourselves & from eachother.. He was going to school to become a computer technician, I was spending my days caring for my 4 nieces - who are the absolute center of my world. We dreamed of a sorta-big house, with a huge kitchen, a good piece of land, maybe a pool. He wanted an office with 10 computers & I wanted hardwood floors with modern decor. We wanted minimal debt, money in the bank, but most of all we wanted babies. 

     Before we got together my cycles were always very irregular. My irregularity started shortly after a miscarriage I suffered when I was 17 years old. I shrugged it off and it wasn't until two years of trying had passed that I started to wonder if we would ever get pregnant. We decided to give it a little more time after we married in January 2010, but still - nothing happened.

     By April 2010 I had my first appointment with Dr Wallace, OB/GYN. We went over my history, my miscarriage, my cycles, my family history, my physical & mental health. He reviewed the bloodwork I was sent for & noticed my blood sugar was a bit higher than normal and suggested that I was pre-diabetic. Dr Wallace stated that before we could go any further, I needed to lose weight which in turn should help us conceive. To aide, I was precribed Metformin which I started right away.

Side note: Metformin is used to reduce the amount of glucose made by the liver which makes it easier for glucose to enter tissue.. Metformin has been found to be especially useful in delaying problems associated with diabetes for overweight people with diabetes, it helps lower blood sugar & control insulin production. Having high blood sugar, even if the levels are only slightly elevated makes it harder for women to produce & release an egg, not to mention it reduces blood flow to the right places (aka uterus) so if fertilization does occur, implantation may not be successful, if it is, the risk of miscarriage is rather high.

     This appointment was a real eye opener for me. 

     The summer of 2010 my dad was hospitalized & had his left leg amputated. He suffered from diabetes. The circulation in his feet & legs was so poor that he developed an infection and the only option was to amputate. I remember sitting at home one night after work, getting the phone call that my dad had been transferred to Kingston General Hospital from Brockville & he was not coherent enough to give consent for the surgery. I was his emergency contact & next of kin, so it was up to me. The doctor informed me that there was more of a chance he wouldn`t make it through surgery than there was that he would. His body was shutting down, his organs were failing - he was in rough shape, all because of his diabetes. 

     My dad made it through surgery and had to be put on ventilators & feeding tubes. He was unconscious for a few days. Once he woke & was taken off the ventilators, he was delusional. He knew who I was, who Chris was, but he would talk to people that weren`t there, he would think hes smoking, try to get out of bed. It was a rough few months as his body slowly shut down, organ by organ. In October 2010 he had passed away. By that time I had lost 55lbs since our wedding day - 35 of that was throughout the 3 months my father was hospitalized. 

     To my dismay, my cycles never regulated even with the weightloss as expected. I went back to Dr Wallace in November & was promptly prescribed Provera to induce a cycle with Clomid to aid ovulation for two cycles. I started Provera right away. I took 20mg per day for 10 days.. without fail my cycle started 2 days after my last dose. I was instructed to take 2x 50mg of Clomid from days 2-6 of my cycle, so I did just that. The Clomid was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was sad, happy, angry, frustrated, tired, wired - it sucked. I had sore boobs, cramps, back pain, nausea - you name it, I had it. I used OPKs & ended up ovulating Day 18 of that cycle and day 22 of the 2nd. Unfortunately for us, neither cycle was successful.

Side note: For those of you who aren`t familiar with Provera (also known as prometrium) it is a progesterone supplement derrived from soybeans. The week before a cycle is started, our progesterone levels are supposed to increase which in turn trains the rest of the hormones to behave accordingly resulting in a successful shedding of the uterine linig & a visit from Great Aunt Flo. Clomid is clomiphene citrate & it is used to stimulate the two hormones required to stimulate ovaries & release an egg. 

     I went back to Dr Wallace who regretably informed me there was nothing else he could do. He referred me to Dr Paul Claman of the Ottawa Fertility Clinic. My heart sank. I`m 24! I shouldn`t be visiting a fertility specialist. I should be pregnant, or raising a baby, not facing infertility. That night I went for a run, I ran and ran and ran. I ran as fast, as hard, as far as I possibly could until I couldn`t run anymore. I sat in a park, in the middle of the field, and I cried. I cried until I made myself sick. 


And then I remembered...

     I met with Dr Claman just this past September. I had a full physical, a pap smear, Chris went for a sperm analysis, I got bloodwork and we talked. We talked about my history, my miscarriage, my cycles, my family history, my physical & mental health. We talked about my weight loss, my dads death, my moms history with early menopause. We talked about our options. Dr Claman requested that I lose atleast 80lbs before we proceed with further treatment.
     I stepped off the scale. And I cried, I cried until I couldn`t cry anymore. I cried until I was sick. I was frustrated, I was fed up. Most of all, I was scared. What if losing even more weight doesn`t help? What if suddenly I am facing early menopause like my mom did? I'll be 25 in just under a year - what if by the time I lose the 80lbs required & I haven't gotten pregnant on my own, what if its too late?

     Dr Claman explained that there is nothing to support that my weight is the reason we are not getting pregnant. He stated - as if I hadn't already done the research myself - that Fat cells produce estrogen. Overweight -> fat cells ->  too much estrogen = your body reacting poorly, almost as if it is on birth control. To ease my worry he agreed to send me for all tests necessary to determine where we are at and what the next step would be. I had viles upon viles of blood drawn, I was poked & prodded, I was back and forth. I had all the ultrasounds & scans you could think of. Everything came back just fine. My blood sugar was normal, so no more metformin. Not even close to diabetic. No cysts. No blockages. No abnormalities.

Unexplained infertility? Dang.

     So, here I am. On a journey to lose the last 80lbs in hopes it will help me to gain a life of fulfillment as the mother I long to be.