Stop Asking #startasking #NIAW

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week again, and this year’s theme is “Start asking.” It’s a theme dedicated to empowering women to ask for the support that they need from friends, family, lawmakers, the media, etc. I’ve been feeling unsure of what to write in regards to this theme.  Couples dealing with infertility have so much going on.  Yes, I want to encourage people to advocate for themselves, but I also want those struggling not to have every conversation be a war zone for their hearts.

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If you know someone battling infertility (and you do), I want to encourage you to stop asking.  Stop asking the wrong questions and start asking the right ones.

Stop asking, “Why don’t you just adopt?”  Instead ask, “Where are you in your journey? What options are you considering?”

Stop asking, “When are you going to have kids?”  Instead ask, “What are your hopes for your family?”

Stop asking, “You have a baby, so why do you still call yourself infertile?”  Instead try, “I want to better understand your disease.”

Stop asking, “There’s always next month, right?”  Instead, go with, “I’m sorry. I’m here. I’m listening.”

Stop saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead say, “I’m sorry you are suffering. What can I do to help?”

Stop saying, “My coworker’s cousin’s ex-wife’s sister got pregnant by drinking tea/eating soybeans/standing on her head.” Instead ask, “What’s your story?”

Some couples dealing with infertility are very open while others are much more private. Either way, ask your questions in a way that indicates you care for and support those dealing with this disease. If you wouldn’t say it to a cancer patient, don’t say it to an infertility patient.

There are many of us out there who want to raise awareness.  We want to share.  We want you to ask questions.  We also want you to acknowledge the physical and emotional roller coaster that we are on. Start asking questions with compassion and sensitivity.  You can never go wrong with, “How are you? How can I help?”

The Face of (in)Fertility

Exactly one year ago today, I posted this photo…

While I had already starting writing a bit about our infertility journey, this was my first foray into posting about the horrific, painful, and raw emotions that often accompany infertility.  I posted the picture because I just couldn’t get the words out.  Describing that kind of emotion isn’t easy.  Still, it was a definitely a turning point for my blog and for myself.  It was the point when I decided that I wasn’t going to keep quiet about what I was going through.  Sure, it might be ugly.  Sure, it would make some people uncomfortable.  But I needed to talk about it.  And so it began.

There was infertility testing, surgery, drugs and injections, four IUIs, and then two babies.  I wrote about it all, and I kept taking pictures.  I came to find that being open about my infertility was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Now here we are, exactly one year later, dealing with a whole new set of often indescribable emotions.  Some of those painful infertility feelings still pop up from time to time.  I’m honestly not sure they will ever completely go away…and I’m not sure that I really want them to.  Still, anticipating the arrival of our two baby girls, the picture has changed quite a bit.

The Face of Infertility — Two Week Wait

To see the rest of this project, go here.

Cycle Day 22, 7dpIUI

Cycle Day 23, 8dpIUI

Cycle Day 24, 9dpIUI

Cycle Day 25, 10dpIUI

Cycle Day 26 — 11dpIUI (Yes, that is yet another copy of American Baby Magazine. Grrr!)

So, I started having mild cramps on Friday (day 22), which is WAY early for my period.  I usually don’t get period cramps until the day before my period starts.  Basically, the cramps started on Friday, and they’ve continued pretty consistently since.  Truthfully, the are pissing me off.  Cramps, combined with a lack of my usual PMS symptoms are convincing me that I might be pregnant.  At this point I 75% believe I’m not pregnant, but I 25% believe I am!  That’s a really high percentage for me.  Usually, I’m down in the 0-5% range for actually believing I am.  This is not good.  This will only mean I will be that much more devastated tomorrow when my test comes back negative.  I’d rather be surprised by good news, than surprised by bad news.  Stupid cramps.  Why can’t you just tell me what you mean???

The Face of Infertility — Two Week Wait

To view previous entries in this series, go here.

I have really been struggling with this two-week wait.  Something about my horrific IUI experience just makes me feel like there’s no hope for this cycle.  I know that’s silly, but I just can’t shake that feeling, and it’s really dragging me down.

Cycle Day 16, 1dpIUI

Cycle Day 17, 2dpIUI

Cycle Day 18, 3dpIUI

Cycle Day 19, 4dpIUI

Cycle Day 20, 5dpIUI

Cycle Day 21, 6dpIUI

So, here we are at cycle day 21, about halfway there!

Ouch!

So, yesterday was our second IUI.  We actually ended up only doing a single IUI this time instead of a double.  So, I did my trigger shot on Wednesday night, intercourse Thursday morning, and my IUI Friday morning.  My IUI was going along just fine, the semen was in, and the equipment was coming out when…

SNAP!

Yeah.  Not a sound you want to hear when you’ve got medical equipment up your hoo-ha.  Then I heard…

“Hmmmm.”

Again.  Not good.

“It looks like the catheter snapped, and it’s stuck in your cervix, so I’m going to have to reach in and pull it out.”

Excuse me????

Yeah.  That was about the suckiest experience I’ve ever had in my life, and it left me with horrible cramps that made it impossible for me to get off of the couch all day.  All I can say is, this better work, because I NEVER want to do that again.  Never.

Anyhow, now I’m just starting the dreaded two-week wait.  To help pass the time, I thought I’d return to my Face of Infertility project.  I’ll take a picture for each day of my two-week wait, and I’ll post them every few days.

Cycle Day 15, Day of IUI

If you previously missed my Face of Infertility project, you can find those posts here, here, here, here, and here.

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Also, I sent out an e-mail about Christmas cards.  I’m sure I missed some people, so I apologize.  If you didn’t get an e-mail from me, and you would like a card, please let me know!

Who Likes Turkey?

On Wednesday, Ted and I went for my post-operative doctor’s appointment to hear more about how the surgery went and to make a plan for future treatment.  As I said earlier, my doctor found some pretty advanced endometriosis.  It was such a shock to me since I have none of the symptoms.  I think it was quite a surprise for him too.  However, it made me so happy that I had chosen to go the surgical route rather than wait and try hormone treatments.  He was able to clean up most of the endometriosis, and since I have no symptoms (pain, heavy bleeding), we are choosing to move forward with fertility treatments rather that dealing solely with the endometriosis.  It will come back in about a year…but hopefully by then I will be pregnant!  Lucky for me, pregnancy will “cure” my endometriosis.  Who knew?

Now for the plan.  We talked about a couple of different options, but my doctor highly recommend we go with high-dose clomid and double artificial insemination, so that’s what we chose.  What does that mean?  Hell, I’m not even sure, but it goes something like this…

Days 2-4 — Ultrasound and blood work

Days 5-9 — Take clomid to stimulate ovulation

Days 10-13 — Ultrasound and blood work

Day 14 or 15 — Ted gives me an HCG injection in my ass to mature eggs (or something)

12 hours after HCG — Artificial insemination.

36 hours after HCG — Second artificial insemination

Day 21 — More blood work

Day 28 — Pregnancy test

Repeat if necessary.

So, we’re going to do this for the next three months and see if we get pregnant.  Let’s just get all of those turkey baster jokes out of the way now.  Personally, I’m planning on bringing my own turkey baster to the inseminations, just in case theirs are all dirty!

After our appointment, Ted and I went out to lunch.  I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information that had just been dumped in my lap when Ted said, “In 40 days, we could be pregnant.”  Whoa.  I still get teary just thinking about that.

Before my surgery, my lovely friend Jen gave me a bracelet she had made with a tiny charm that says, “Believe.”  For the first time in forever, I actually believe that getting pregnant is possible.  It’s exciting, overwhelming, scary, and exhilarating.  Mostly, it’s nice to actually believe that we could be finding out we’re pregnant before Thanksgiving.

My current face of infertility.

The Face of Infertility — Days 23-1

To view the rest of this project, go here, here, here, and here.

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27

Day 28

Day 1…again

So, in case you aren’t familiar with the female cycle, I started my period.  That means I definitely get to have scary, awful surgery in addition to not being pregnant.  Yuck.  Thanks for joining me in this little project.  I’m not going to keep taking daily photos, because I don’t think we need another 6 months of mopey pictures.  I will still take the occasional photo to post, though, when big things happen, etc.

The Face of Infertility — Days 16 – 22

For the rest of this project go here, here, and here.

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

We’re coming to the end here.  Only about a week left in this cycle…

The Face of Infertility — Days 9-15

You can see the rest of this project here and here.

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

The Face of Infertility — Days 2-8

So, after posting a self-portrait of my feelings on infertility last week, I thought it would be interesting to do a self-portrait study over the course of one cycle.  Today, I’m posting days two through eight.  If you missed day one, you can go back and check it out.

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Thus completes my first week of this little project.  So far, so interesting.