Archive for the ‘infertility’ Category

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Of babies and barren wombs

December 8, 2010

Wow, Sew‘s live-blogging during her birth and prompt post of her labor story from the hospital has put me to shame! I did not even have a computer in the hospital. And I have been so slow to find words and computer time to tell the story. But I love that awesome picture of Sew during labor, sitting in her hospital bed with the computer, smiling … makes me think I should have had an epidural.

There are babies everywhere. Some have come early and some a bit late, but there has been a huge rush of babies in the last few weeks in the once-infertile blogosphere. I was the bearer of one of those babies. If you check out my babycentric blog, you can see many pictures of my new son. He was born Thanksgiving night and is healthy and doing well, thanks be to God. I am posting near-daily photos on that blog for the benefit of my family, who are all dispersed up and down the east coast and demanding daily updates about the new member of the family.

So, it’s an exciting time for those having the babies, but I keep thinking about all those still waiting and how hard it probably is. And although I am thrilled to be home with my new son, I still get confused and angry. In church on Sunday there was mention of Elizabeth, ” she, who was called barren.” I smiled and looked at the baby next to me.

“With God, nothing is impossible.”  But then I asked God, “really?!” What about all those friends waiting so much longer, for whom things seem really impossible right now? What about them!?

And I lifted you up and pray that with God, all things are possible for you.

I was privileged to pray for many bloggers during my labor. For those of you that shared your prayer concerns with me, thank you for sharing with me and inviting me into your lives in that way. Admittedly, my labor was a bit more difficult than I expected and I may not have prayed as much as I had wished. But I carried your intentions — and they carried me — through the first four hours. My water broke — all of it — which made contractions start in a rather severe manner — close together and pretty strong. I had my list of prayer intentions, and I cried out for you as I leaned over on the bed or my exercise ball.

I pray for God to relieve your suffering and send a child into your life very soon.

My wait was shorter than many of you, but I find I am very, very grateful for that gift of infertility. Of course, it’s easier to be grateful for the years of crying and waiting now, once you have a baby at home, right? I know. But for me (and it certainly would not be this way for everyone!), I now see that time was crucial to make me a better mother, friend, spouse, child of God. Taking care of another human life is hard, especially for someone who tends to be as selfish as I do. I am much more grateful for the opportunity to give up my life for this little one now, knowing how hard it was to get here… Did I not long to be awoken at 4 am for so long? And how many others are still waiting?

I wish *everyone* was posting about babies right now. I am praying for all those still waiting. I still find it hard to trust that with God, nothing is impossible. But I know I should. It is the season of Advent, a time where we celebrate waiting and expectation. A time where we celebrate miraculous conceptions and a little baby who was the hope and savior of the world. A time when we celebrate how God came in great humility to be with us, to share our suffering.  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

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Calling on the infertility brain trust!

September 24, 2010

Hello, friends! I have not really been present on this blog, but I have been reading your blogs and thinking of you. On a recent vacation in Turkey, my husband and I visited a teeny church built on what is thought to be the last home of the Virgin Mary. I lit a candle for you all and prayed for my infertile friends in waiting.  You are still ever present in my thoughts and prayers.

If anyone still has this blog in your feed or stumbles upon it, I am hoping you might have some ideas for my sister.

My older sister has been trying to get pregnant for some time and has recently been diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve. I do not know what her numbers were, but the doctor told her they were lower (or higher, as the case may be) than normal for her age,  36 years old.

She has one three-year-old son who was conceived after about 10 months of trying. She’s been trying to have baby #2 for about a year. Her cycles are somewhat irregular, often short. Given her age, she did not want to mess around so she went to an infertility clinic.  Her husband was found to be in good reproductive health. I think her diagnosis was based on day 3 blood test levels.

I’m wondering what you all know about this condition and if you have any advice?

Here were the recommendations from her doctor:

1) Clomid, monitored. She said the doc did not make much of a case for this.

2) Injectibles. Doctor-man preferred this to clomid, said they could avoid some of the negative side effects (ahem, drying out). She has top shelf health insurance that would help pay for them, so cost is not really a factor.

He recommended doing IUI with the injectibles. But if her husband’s sperm are great, why do they want to IUI? Is it just because it makes a doctor feel more in control?

3) I think the next recommendation would be IVF.

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Question on Dr. S and friends

July 28, 2010

Hey friends,

A question on behalf of a friend of mine in DC who has been trying and waiting some years to conceive. She made an appointment in Camp Hill, but her school schedule and Dr. Stegman’s busy schedule did not synch right away, so the appointment is with Dr. Faith Daggs, who had a more convenient opening.

She’s wondering if she should keep that appointment or wait for Dr. S.

I’ve only heard of anyone ever going to see Dr. Stegman.  I am sure Dr. D is great and all, but is she good for infertility? Or should I tell my friend to wait a bit longer (it might only be a month or so) to see Dr. S?

Thanks, all!!

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Laura Bush on infertility

July 16, 2010

I bought my mother-in-law a copy of Laura Bush’s new autobiography, Spoken from the Heart, as a birthday gift. Then I waited a couple of weeks to give it to her, so I could read parts of it first. Happy birthday to me! My mother-in-law loves Republican politicians.  I have a thing for First Ladies of any party.

There were several interesting threads about infertility. Laura Bush’s mom suffered from recurrent miscarriages– many of them later term.  Laura was the only child that survived, and she said she often daydreamed of having (living) siblings.  Laura and George Bush tried to get pregnant for a long time before the twins were conceived. They were pursuing adoption with an orphanage in Texas, and she had started doing “hormone treatments” — I have no idea what that meant in the early 1980s. When Laura did finally get pregnant, she was so afraid of losing the babies (in part because of her mother’s experience) that she did nothing to prepare. She was on bedrest in the hospital for a long time at the end of the pregnancy, and friends set up the nursery for her while she was in the hospital. Because of concerns that she might have a miscarriage, doctors did some procedure where they stitched her cervix closed —  that was prior to the hospital stay. Whoa, kids –do they still do that?

Laura Bush writes well, and I particularly enjoyed this description of infertility. I read this on the plane enroute to Kansas (where my in-laws live) for the 4th of July and just cried …

For some years now, the wedding invitations that had once crowded the mailbox had been replaced by shower invites and pink-or-blue-beribboned baby announcements. I bought onesies or rattles, wrapped them in yellow paper, and delivered them to friends. I had done it with a happy wistfulness, believing that someday my time, my baby, would come. George and I had hoped that I would be pregnant by the end of his congressional run. Then we hoped it would be by the time his own father announced his presidential run, then by the presidential primaries, the convention, the general election. But each milestone came and went. The calendar advanced, and there was no baby.

The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?

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Still alive (and kicking!)

July 14, 2010

What happens when an infertility blog gets pregnant? Well, in my case, I guess it goes silent. I had not even realized it had been so long since I had updated until a dear blog friend emailed me to ask if everything was OK. Life has been very busy, overwhelming at times. And I’ve been at a loss for words on what to say about pregnancy on an infertility blog.

I do have one post strictly about infertility that I will do next! But otherwise, I guess I should just embrace that what I am dealing with is pregnancy … and write about that.

I have read much about the difficulty in transitioning from infertility to pregnancy, and it has definitely been hard for me. On that first morning when I got the positive test, I thought it would be easy. While riding my bike to work, I started weeping, thinking of the enormity of this change of events. And I had this overriding calm that this baby was a gift from God and all would be well. I just knew it. I rejoiced.

That lasted about 24 hours.

Then, the Voices In My Head started drowning out that comforting voice of God. And I spent the next — oh, 15 weeks? — in fear. I was sure I was delusional, perhaps not even pregnant. I was worried about the baby. I feared every possible kind of miscarriage — and there are a lot of them. I hesitated to tell friends about the pregnancy because I was so scared, I did not know how I would deal with their joy. But with every medical appointment, I got a little more confidence. First I saw the gestational sac and the little heartbeat. Then we heard the heartbeat. Then I saw the tiny baby — a real baby! Then we bought a heart-rate monitor for home use, because I am paranoid enough I need to check and make sure the baby is alive about once a week. So far, so good.

If my prayer life had been better in that time (sorry, God — I really, really am), I am sure that would have helped even more.

Once my placenta started doing its thing in the second trimester, I no longer had to take prometrium. I no longer need to call the awesome nurses at Dr. S’s office. I have not had blood drawn in 6 weeks — the longest I’ve gone without visiting a lab for probably two years.  Now I am just a normal, low-risk pregnancy. It is really wild!

We are 21 weeks and a couple of days today. More than half-way through this pregnancy! I had a minor break-down last night, realizing that I “wasted” much of the pregnancy being worried. I love, LOVE being pregnant (at least the second trimester). But I have been afraid to enjoy it. I am going to try to reverse that now. I really want to relish every moment — especially since I do not know if I will ever be pregnant again.

I’ve gained about 10 lbs so far. I was sporting a pretty awesome beer belly (without the beer) for a while, but over the past week it has developed into what I think of as an undeniable baby bump (undeniable to me — a stranger might not be certain.) It honestly shocks me every time I see it. I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror or a window and think — who is that pregnant woman with my head? I bought two stretchy-waisted skirts from athleta (love!) and have been surviving with those, bella bands and some borrowed items from my sister and a good friend. I bought my first maternity clothing item 2 weeks ago. It still felt a little daring.

We are planning to wait to find out the sex of the baby. For the time being, we’re calling him/her “Pavo” (or “Pavito” … or sometimes “Pavita,” which is not a real word but gives it a feminine ending). It means “turkey” (or “little turkey”) in Spanish. Turkey because the baby is due around Thanksgiving. And the turkey is a very noble bird. Funnily, baby goes by “Donovan” at work — my coworker named him/her thus when we watched a World Cup match together (after Landon Donovan, soccer star). It was rather sweet.

And here is where we get to the kicking part of “alive and kicking” — I can feel Pavo move! It’s awesome. It felt sort of like fluttering or like something playing with my nerve endings for a while. Now I get what seems like a big jab every now and then. I actually gasped yesterday once when a kick surprised me. I’m not sure how much of it is the baby itself, or what might be Braxton-Hicks — sometimes it’s such a big feeling, I wonder if it is the latter? But I like to think Donovan is practicing to be a soccer star. S/he sure got excited during the Spain vs. Germany match! I assume it was early enthusiasm for the Spanish team. Ah, so proud of the wee babe already.

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Worth the wait

February 19, 2010

I am at work and should not be blogging, but I just wanted to post at least a partial update, since everyone asked! We got home late last night and I was too exhausted/enthralled-with-Evan-Lysacek to post. I’ll write more this weekend…

First of all, I *heart* Dr. Stegman. Never before have I seriously contemplated sending a doctor a thank-you note after an exam. But I really want to send him one. (seriously. Is that acceptable?)

The appointment was scheduled for 2 pm. We got there at 1:30. There were a lot of disgruntled people in the waiting room, so I could tell things were running late. I was not too worried since we did not really have anywhere else to be– thank goodness we had cancelled the play. The time in the waiting room — and there was a lot of it — went surprisingly quickly. I made lists, replied to emails, read,  and BEST OF ALL, we met “Finding Joy in Every Journey.” (Thanks so much, E!)

This is how we spent most of the afternoon…

The waiting room is actually more pleasant than three of the four recent waiting rooms where I have passed the time.

You’ll note that we sat under the display of baby pictures. That way we did not have to look at them the whole time. (They are very lovely, but you know what I mean.)

By the end of the day, we were the only ones there…

With all that space, I thought we should do some yoga or practice our dance moves.

My main concern was that Dr. Stegman would be so over-it that he would not have time/energy for us. That was definitely not the case.  We saw Dr. Stegman at 4:30. We left the office at 7 PM!! The building and parking lot were dark and empty. Now you see why I want to send the man a thank-you card.

He did not quite spend the whole 2.5 hours with us — there were several times of waiting once we were in the examining room too. But still, that is more time and effort than any doctor has ever invested in me.

On the drive there I asked my husband what we should ask Dr. Stegman. He came up with two questions:
1) Why aren’t we pregnant?
2) What are you going to do about it?

Ha! Too bad for Dr. Stegman — those three hours in the waiting room gave me waaay too much time to come up with other questions. But every step of the way, he was willing to entertain my EVERY question and give me more explanation than I needed, really, for all my concerns. He is so detailed, kind and patient.

I’ll write more about the exam, etc., especially for those of you who will be going to see him soon (G!).

The long and short of it for me is that he suspects endometriosis, so I will likely return to Pennsylvania for surgery in the next couple of months. All last year I had imagined I would have surgery by fall 2009 (with my previous doctors). But then they kept trying different things and putting off surgery. People said I had no clear signs of endo.  I was getting used to this idea and thinking the surgery might never happen …   So it is somewhat surprising to contemplate that I may have surgery as soon as next month. But after the exam, I am convinced I could have endometriosis (more about that in the next post). So I do think it is the way to go.

I’ll have to spend two nights in Pennsylvania, and he said I should count on taking a week off of work. (though I think I might work from home part of the time?)

I don’t know whether I am excited or sad.

I could have the surgery as soon as next month, if I can get in his surgery schedule — which I suspect  would be difficult but he seemed to think it was possible. If so, that would put me about 2.5 weeks before I am supposed to hike the Grand Canyon. Is it possible to go on a hiking/camping trip 2.5 weeks after a laparoscopy? Dr. S said it would only take about a week to recover, but it did not occur to me to ask about more physically strenuous endeavors…

Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement. More to come…

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Appointment tomorrow

February 17, 2010

It is Ash Wednesday! I love Lent and the structure and focus it provides, but I don’t feel quite ready for it this year. I think I want one more week of feasting… Hopefully I will feel more Lent-ified after I go to mass tonight. I am fasting today and praying for Sew’s surgery and for my prayer buddy … and the rest of you too.

To whoever is praying for me: thank you! I covet your prayers!

My first appointment with Dr. Stegman is tomorrow! This is somewhat unbelievable to me because when I scheduled it four months ago, it felt like this day would never arrive. It’s funny/depressing, because I made the appointment as a back-up plan. I had hoped I would be pregnant or on some DC-based treatment plan before then. But I’ve got *nothing* going on now, except acupuncture.

I’m a little mad at myself/the world, because I do not have my medical records from my previous doctor.  I should have asked for them ages ago, but I was waiting to get the last batch of bloodwork in, and the Dr. Stegman appointment seemed soooo far away.  So I finally requested it about a week and a half ago, hoping I would get the records and at least be able to deliver them in person. The folks at my doctor’s office said I should get them in less than a week. But alas, I have not seen any sign of the records yet.

I do have a large document I compiled with the numbers for the results of all of my bloodwork/saliva tests, so at least there is that. sigh. I hope this does not set me back any more.

I am supposed to be at a conference all day tomorrow for work. oops. The plan now is to head to the conference (in Virginia) early in the morning, hopefully with a wireless laptop from my office. Then we’ll head to Pa. around 11:30 (maybe earlier?), and I will file a story for work from the car on the way to the appointment — while my husband drives. My appointment is at 2 pm.

We were supposed to usher for opening night of a play tomorrow night, but I canceled because I knew it would just make me anxious the whole time about getting back — especially if things start running late, which I imagine they will. The bonus is that I will get to watch men’s figure skating at home. I love the Olympics. (I just hope it’s not a depressed version of myself on the couch…)

Right now I am just imagining tomorrow as a sort-of fun little road trip with my husband. ha! But in actuality, I have a lot riding on this appointment. I am not getting anywhere with any other doctors. I have no diagnosis and no treatment plan (other than to stick pins in my forehead and hope for a miracle). I have no other doctor ideas pending. What was once a back-up plan is now my only plan.

I left my last two doctors’ appointments (with two different doctors in DC and Virginia) angry and depressed…and realizing too late all the questions I wish I had asked.

I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, and I don’t even know what I ought to ask.  I feel unprepared.

I don’t want to be angry and depressed tomorrow as we drive home. I want to feel hopeful — that in itself would be a miracle. Hope — seeming so irrational — is something I have studiously avoided throughout this process.