Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Another October 15th rolls around and I’m still mourning the loss of my babies. I still don’t have a baby in my arms. All I know right now is loss and the pain still feels like it’s fresh some days – especially on a day like today.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A day to remember that miscarriages are more common than you think. A day to spread awareness that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage – what a staggering and extremely sad statistic. Today I remember my babies as well as the babies of family and friends who have gone too soon. You may not be with us here, but we’ll always hold you in our hearts. Today I remember those friends who have recently experienced a miscarriage. I remember how tough it was and still is. It’s a pain that you’ll never forget and I hate that you’ve become a statistic. Please never feel like you have to hide your grief or suffer in silence. I’m here to offer support. To offer love. To offer hugs from afar.

If you’re so inclined, please join me in remembering all the babies who have gone too soon by lighting a candle at 7PM to create a Wave of Light.

The Next Chapter

This post has been sitting as a draft for weeks now. Every time I go back to it, I delete what I’ve written previously and start over. The words are never right. My emotions scare me. Taking the next step means that we have to put a whole entire part of our lives behind us.

Today I’m determined to finish this post. To hit the publish button. To make myself move forward. To begin leaving the sad and angry feelings behind me. To look forward to making our happy ending happen.

It’s been almost five weeks exactly since we found out that our last ditch effort at having a biological child was a complete and utter failure. In the past almost five weeks, I’ve been angry, sad, resentful, and bitter. However, I’ve also been hopeful. Hopeful that adoption may bring us the child that we’re been longing for for the past six years.

After a week of keeping to myself, eating way too many pieces of chocolate, and generally being angry at the universe, we decided to start researching and contacting different adoption agencies. We knew what our budget would be, knew that we had to find an agency who would be willing to work with us in our current location as well as our future location, and knew that we wanted an agency that would treat us well as well as provide exceptional support and assistance to their expectant/birth mothers and fathers.

As I checked out multiple agency websites, I found out that choosing an agency was going to be a challenge. After finding several agencies that might be a good fit for us, I sent out emails to their coordinators. Some agencies emailed back. Some didn’t. Some wouldn’t work with us until after we moved in seven months. Some didn’t fit our budget.

The agencies that met our criteria through information we found on their websites and through information provided in return emails made it to the next round. The phone interview. We spoke to three agencies on the phone. We were impressed with two. The other one seemed like they were trying to sell themselves to us a little too much. Their contract terms also rubbed as the wrong way. In the end, we went with our gut and selected the first agency that we interviewed.

This agency has an office about an hour away from us and also has social workers who will be available to work with us once we move in the spring. Since our home study will hopefully be completed a few months before we leave, we’ll only have to do an update once we get settled into our new home. All of the employees we’ve had contact with so far have been nothing but professional and prompt in their responses. E’s parents (who are adoptive parents themselves) have several friends who have adopted through this agency and have shared their experiences with us. These stories made us feel even more comfortable with our decision.

Once we made our final decision, we printed off the pages and pages of paperwork that had to be filled out and submitted to the agency. We contacted potential personal references, looked up old addresses (who can remember addresses from 10 years ago off the top of their head?), and signed contracts and policy agreements.

We mailed off our application and the first of many checks to the agency on Monday afternoon. Much to our surprise, the agency contacted us on Wednesday to let us know that our application had been received and was being processed. Last night, my best friend sent me a text stating that she received her reference form and completed it for us that very same day. It seems like the agency is on top of things and is moving things right along for us.

While I was at the gym this morning, our newly assigned social worker left a message about scheduling our first meeting with her. I sent her an email back as soon as I got home, so hopefully we’ll be meeting with her later in the week if she has afternoon availability on Fridays.

This process so far has been exciting, yet scary. I’m excited that things are moving along smoothly so far and hope that things continue to move along nicely. It’s scary though to close the chapter on trying to conceive especially when that’s all I’ve known for the past almost six years. It’s strange not to be planning our next cycle. Not to be stabbing myself with needles every day. Not to have a sliver of hope that this next cycle could give us that child we’ve been hoping for.

Now we have a new path. A new chance to bring home the child who has been waiting for us. I know the journey will be long, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Thursday Thoughts

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This is the seventh week of Thursday Thoughts hosted by Wifey, over at Wife of a Sailor. Every Wednesday, Wifey will post a new word that blog posts should be centered around. On Thursday, you’ll post your thoughts and head over to her blog to link up and share your post.

This week’s word is – Autumn

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Ah, Autumn. My favorite season. There are so many things to look forward to when autumn rolls around, especially now that we’re living in Central Virginia. I’m taking the easy route with this post and listing my top ten favorite things about autumn. Here we go!

1. The humidity disappears and the air conditioning can be turned off (Who doesn’t love lower electricity bills?). Hello, 70 degree weather. I love you.

2. Sweatshirts can make their seasonal appearance on my closet shelves. Even though sweatshirts come out from their hibernation, I still manage to wear flip flops until about mid-November (Don’t judge, because you know you do the same thing).

3. Football is back, which means my Sundays are now complete. My Eagles aren’t off to a good start (Where’s the defense?), so they better step it up or I predict a lot of screaming and throwing things at the television in my future. Hear that, Chip? Step it UP!

4. Fall television shows – The summer lineup never impresses me, so I always get excited when I start seeing previews for the fall shows. Current favorites include: Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Parenthood, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and Mike and Molly (Programming note: this will not premiere until mid-season. What?!)

5. Pumpkin baked goods – Pumpkin banana bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin spice pancakes, pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Notice I didn’t include pumpkin spice lattes (Ick) or pumpkin pie (Double ick).

6. Apple picking – The local orchard hosts an apple picking festival every weekend in October. I’m looking forward to stocking up on gala, red delicious, and granny smith apples. I can’t wait to bake them into pies, cobblers, and crumbles (Raise your hand if you think E and I will be going into sugar comas by Thanksgiving? Me! Me!)

7. Fall foliage – Reds and yellows and oranges. We have grand plans to drive through the Blue Ridge mountains so I can take pictures of the leaves changing. Be on the lookout for those in a future post.

8. Thanksgiving – I love to cook and bake and hope to contribute a lot to this year’s grand feast. Last year’s contributions included an herb roasted turkey, gravy, oatmeal walnut apple pie, and rolls.

9. Halloween candy – I don’t know if we’ll get many trick-or-treaters in the apartment complex, but you know I’ll buy one bag of candy. Now for the big decision – M&M’s or Three Musketeers?

10. Visits to the local farm for pumpkin picking and a journey through a corn maze – We started an annual tradition of heading to a local pumpkin patch and picking our own pumpkins to carve and decorate. We also love to navigate our way through a good corn maze.

What are your favorite things about autumn?

Thursday Thoughts

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This is the fifth week of Thursday Thoughts hosted by Wifey, over at Wife of a Sailor. Every Wednesday, Wifey will post a new word that blog posts should be centered around. On Thursday, you’ll post your thoughts and head over to her blog to link up and share your post.

This week’s word is – Risk

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Before I got married, I wouldn’t have considered myself to be a risk taker. Realistically, I didn’t really become a risk taker until we started undergoing fertility treatments back in 2009. We risked the chance of having multiples. We risked the chance of something going wrong during our egg retrievals. We risked having our hearts broken at the end of every single two week wait.

Now – we’ve opened our hearts and lives to a whole new risk. Adoption.

The road to welcoming a child into our home will be long. It will be hard. It might be painful at times. However, we want to be parents more than anything, so we’re willing to take that risk. 

I would also like to touch on a different type of risk. The risk of being looked down upon when I decided to make our struggles and experiences public on Facebook a few years ago. While my posts have been ignored by some, many friends have shown support both publicly and privately. I was touched by an email sent by one of my college roommates after I recently posted that our TTC journey would be ending and our journey to adoption was just beginning. Here is an excerpt from that email –

You are such a special friend that I adore and think of every day. You are already a wonderful mother to your angels. I wish there was a way to make this all better for you. I wish we knew the reason for all of this. Don’t lose yourself in this struggle. You have the ability to love unconditionally and are so compassionate. There is a child out there that needs you and E more than we all know. What a special child it must be that is calling for you, made for you!

Most days I feel like people who haven’t experienced infertility firsthand can’t even begin to comprehend how our struggles and experiences have affected us. Every now and then though, a friend surprises me with his/her ability to empathize and offer support and love. It makes the risk of opening up our lives to people worth it. Sometimes the simplest words and/or a statement of support can mean the world to someone.

Thursday Thoughts and the End of a Chapter

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This is the fourth week of Thursday Thoughts hosted by Wifey, over at Wife of a Sailor. Every Wednesday, Wifey will post a new word that blog posts should be centered around. On Thursday, you’ll post your thoughts and head over to her blog to link up and share your post. 

This week’s word is – Decisions  

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Wow. What a word that conjures up a HUGE amount of emotions. Decisions.

Last week we were faced with one of our biggest decisions as a couple after we found out that our third and final FET wasn’t successful. Do we embark on a third round of IVF or do we stop fertility treatments for the forseeable future and pursue adoption instead?

I kept quiet about this FET cycle on the blog purely for superstitious reasons. I blogged openly about our IUI, IVF, and FET cycles in the past and clearly none of those cycles were successful. I thought if I kept things under wraps for the most part, things would turn out differently. In addition to not blogging about our most recent experience, we also changed our treatment protocol completely. Instead of estrogen and progesterone inserts, we pulled out the big guns. IM injections. Damn they hurt, but if they would help me get pregnant and stay pregnant, the pain and lumps would be worth it a million times over. 
 
E dutifully gave me my estrogen shots every third night in the beginning and then added in daily PIO shots a few days before our transfer. We drove down to North Carolina on August 19th and hoped that all three of our remaining embryos would have survived the thaw. Unfortunately, only one of the three survived. We thought out loud that this embryo was a fighter and had to be the one to stick around for the next nine months. Our RE and nurse both felt confident. Our little fighter was grade I and was already dividing. 
 
Last Thursday, we received the devastating news that this baby wasn’t meant to be. We couldn’t believe that over the span of two years, we lost 18 embryos. 18 embryos. What a terribly large number. In addition to finding out about our negative beta, we also had to pile in the car with two of E’s cousins to head up to Pennsylvania for his grandfather’s funeral. Not only did we have to deal with the emotions surrounding his grandfather’s death, we also had to try and process the end of a chapter in our own lives. 
 
I haven’t really had a chance to cry, yell, and scream, but the feelings of sadness, anger, bitterness, and resentment are all present and accounted for. After a few intense conversations, we came to a mutual decision that it’s time to close the almost six year chapter of trying to conceive and open the adoption chapter. As of right now, we’re researching agencies, talking with friends who have been through the adoption process in the past, and generally dealing with the emotions that come along with everything that has been going on. 
 
My body is beat up. My heart literally hurts. My brain cannot even begin to process going through another round of treatment. While I’m grieving because I’ll never carry another child, I want to be a mother. I want E to be a father. It doesn’t matter how we get there, I just want to make it happen. 
 
Right now – we’ll get there. Through domestic infant adoption. That is our final decision. 
 
I hope you’ll continue to stick around and join us as we begin this new chapter in our lives. 

Thursday Thoughts

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Many of you may have noticed that I’ve been neglecting this blog. Big time. Thankfully, Wifey, over at Wife of a Sailor, came up with a new link-up to learn more about her readers and other bloggers. Every Wednesday, Wifey will post a new word that blog posts should be centered around. I think this is a great way to spark my imagination and will give me a chance to write about something other than infertility topics. 

So without further ado…

This week’s word is – Learning 

I’ve always been a huge lover of school. Not so much the social interaction part of it, but the learning part. From a very young age, I loved to learn new things. My mother taught me to read when I was three years old and I wanted to read anything and everything. I begged my mother to send me to preschool when I was four because I hated sitting around the babysitter’s house with my little brother all day. 

After a terrible year in preschool (partially due to the fact that I was bored to tears), the decision on where to send me to school came up. I remember my parents telling me that I demanded to be put into first grade and not into kindergarten because I didn’t want to hang out with the “babies”. I didn’t want to take naps and paint pictures. I wanted to read books. I wanted to make new discoveries. I wanted to learn about everything the world had to offer. 

Over the years, I had my struggles with learning. I loved reading and writing. I enjoyed learning about different countries and cultures. However, I got frustrated with math and science except for chemistry, which I surprisingly excelled at. I loved teachers who challenged me, but also supported me. I feared and disliked teachers who pushed me to the side and refused to help me understand. 

Despite some negative experiences when it came to learning, I still love it. I love learning so much that I went back to school to earn my Master’s Degree in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum with my certification in Elementary Education. 

Through my previous jobs as a substitute teacher and an assistant daycare teacher, I found my passion in life. Working with children day in and day out was a very rewarding opportunity that I was thankful to have and hope to have in the future. These experiences also gave me the opportunity to watch children grow and develop.  Seeing a child accomplish something new or reaching a personal goal was one of the best parts of both jobs. I was proud to take part in each individual child’s progress and development, whether it was helping a student learn how to read or spell a new word in a kindergarten classroom or helping an infant take their first steps in my infant classroom. 

I believe that today’s youth are our country’s future and I would like to be given the opportunity to influence our youngest students full-time. I want to be that person who becomes at least one child’s role model. I want to teach my students not only educational subjects, such as reading and math, but I also want to teach them how to become a better person inside and out. I look forward to becoming someone who will inspire children to become better students and help them unlock their potential.

Every year, the United States falls further behind in education. I would like to be part of the solution. I want to help our country’s students become more proficient in key areas and help them prepare for their future. Being an elementary education teacher will provide me with countless opportunities to start students off on the right path. I hope to be able to teach them strategies and different ways of learning. A good education is the first step to achieving anything in life and is the foundation that children need. I want to be able to give each and every student an equal chance to succeed in life. I want to share my love of learning with as many students as possible. 

Confession : I Hate My Body

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I want to take some time this afternoon to talk about something that has been weighing on my mind (and quite literally on my body) for some time now.

Weight gain.

Ever since I was a young child, I always had issues with body image and my weight. For as long as I can remember, my brother (and shamefully, my father on occasions) was always harassing me because of my weight. Standard nicknames included: “Fatty” and “Thunder Thighs”. Wonderful and motivating terms to really boost one’s self esteem and confidence, right? Yah. Not so much.

I had a hard time in high school and especially in college. I kept gaining and gaining until I topped out at 182 pounds. I vividly remember crying in my doctor’s office during my senior year of college when I was having other health issues after I came off the scale. I was tired of being overweight. Tired of wearing size 14 – 16 clothing. Tired of feeling unattractive.

I needed things to change.

I hit the gym hard. I started going to the gym daily right after I graduated from college. I started working full time right away, but always made it a point to go to the gym before or after work. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t on the best “diet” ever at that point. I didn’t eat much during the day, but it seemed to help. Slowly, the weight started to come off.

Over the next 4 years, I lost 40 pounds in total. By the time E and I started fertility treatments at the end of 2009 while being stationed in Georgia, I was down to 142 pounds thanks to healthy eating (I finally got the diet part down) and cycle and strength classes at the on post gym.

Clomid was the first drug that started messing with my body. 4 rounds. Up almost 10 pounds. Pregnancy achieved on round #4. 6 weeks of puking. Bye bye, 10 pounds. Miscarriage. D&C. Emotional eating. Hello, 5 pounds.

After our first miscarriage, we packed up and literally moved across the country to Arizona. I was officially diagnosed with PCOS and placed on Metformin. Healthy eating + daily exercise + Metformin = weight loss. I was back to my happy weight of 142 pounds.

Miscarriage #2 happens after we moved cross country yet again and another round of Clomid. Same formula. Miscarriage + emotional eating = weight gain.

After the second miscarriage, I was referred to my current RE in North Carolina. We went through several rounds of timed intercourse, 5 IUI cycles, more TI cycles, 2 rounds of IVF, and 2 rounds of FET. All failures minus a chemical pregnancy with IVF #2.

After almost 3 years of treatment in North Carolina, I’m up almost 20 pounds. That’s right. I’m putting it out here. Currently, I weigh 159 pounds and I hate it. I literally hate looking at myself in the mirror. I hate putting my clothes on because they’re a little too snug in all the wrong places. I’m afraid to buy new clothes because I don’t want to accept the size that I am now.

Looking at me, it’s hard for some people to tell that I weigh that much because I stand at 5 feet, 9 and a half inches tall. You know what though? I can feel that extra weight on me. I can feel that my stomach is larger. My thighs thicker. I can see that my face is heavier.

The constant cycle of treatments and having PCOS have really messed with me. Obviously stress eating after each failure hasn’t helped much either, but the medications and this disorder have really taken a toll on my body.

I’m in a tough place right now. I’ve been trying for about 2 months now to lose some poundage, but no matter what I do, the scale isn’t budging and it’s disheartening. I literally workout 6 days a week and try to eat healthy for a good majority of the time. I had hoped to lose at least 5 to 10 pounds before embarking on our last FET cycle, but that window is quickly closing.

It’s hard to get up everyday, look in the mirror, and hate the person staring back at you.

Depending on what happens with this last FET cycle, I may be happily gaining weight thanks to a growing baby in my stomach or back on the weight loss train. Hopefully the former happens, but if not, I’ll occasionally share updates on attempts to overcome the awesome side effects of PCOS.