The Long (Long) Overdue Update!

Hello friends.

It’s been ages since I wrote here and much has been going on.

But first, I hope all of you are great. I mean it. Whatever version of life it is that you’d attach your personal description of great to, I hope it’s that. You, my faceless, nameless, blog writing and following brethren out there in the big world.

My husband and I are fully into the adoption side of family building and are in the midst of searching for a birth mother. (We’re hoping for a domestic, open adoption). I know I know, it’s been more than a year since we switched over! Yep. It has. But shit takes time, y’all. We had to choose an agency, we had to go through the home study process, we had to jump through a different set of hoops and hurdles, We’ve been legal with our home study since late November 2014…I was just a ding-dong and didn’t write about it over here.

We are working with an agency here in the Chicago area, we have a Facebook page and we’re launching a website today. We are investigating other ways to market ourselves, so for reals, we’re open to your ideas.

I started this blog to put my own experience out into the world. And so, I invite you to join my husband and I over at our adoption page:

https://rachelandandrewhopetoadopt.wordpress.com/

There’s a video on the front page we’d love you to see (and share!). Our friend made it for us. He rocks.

The page is a work in progress that we’re tinkering with and I’ll blog from there from time to time. Come visit our page. Follow it. Send it to friends. We are actively searching for a birth mother and we need to keep geting ourselves in front of different people…because at some point somebody might know somebody who knows somebody who might just end up being that birthmother we’d love to meet.

Feel free to like us on the Faceplace as well:

https://www.facebook.com/rachelandandrewhopetoadopt?ref=hl

And hey, now you also know my real name.

It’s nice to meet you.

See you over on the other page!

Rachel

A Severance Letter to My Reproductive System

So I’ve been taking time to sort out all my feelings and such about the information presented to us: that I have a very very low chance of conceiving even with help and an even lower chance of carrying the baby to term. It’s been harder than I expected but I think I’m starting to get over the hurdle. Having to do so while coming off artificial hormones and being bombarded by natural hormones did not help. Basically, there was alot of the getting-weepy-at-kitten-commercials type of thing.

Apparently protecting my own feelings for a long time resulted in being rather cavalier in what I thought I would be cool with: i.e. not being pregnant. On some level I really thought that it would be fine if I was never pregnant as long as I did everything I could to try. In the end, that’s actually still mostly true. Our goal and desire to parent far outweighs our desire to biologically parent. But come on, I’m human, I guess more of me thought it’d be nice to have all the “pregnancy moments” than I thought. I’m doing okay though and moving forward. We are officially pursuing adoption, by which I mean we’re filling out the application for the adoption agency we’ve chosen.  There will likely always be lingering pangs of disappointment but as a few folks have pointed out, once there’s a baby in my arms we will feel complete as a family, despite coming at it from a different angle.

In talking with one of my dearest friends about needing to go through a period of mourning, she suggested that I write a letter to my body. In doing so I would not only address my disappointment with its failings but as she put it, “point out that my heart and mind are stronger and that my life goals won’t be defeated by its failings.”

And so, as part of my…..healings…..I write this letter, firing my body from certain responsibilities.

Dear Reproductive System,

Thank you for your dutiful years of service to the company but we will no longer be needing your full participation at this time. Please consider this letter as an immediate demotion to your previous position within day-to-day operations.

You have served us well in many of your functions but when asked to pursue a deeper commitment in our company’s overall needs and wants, you have not met the expectations that were set before you. The head of our company, in agreement with various other department heads, strongly feels that you were given far more opportunities and avenues to accomplish these goals than many other systems in similar situations. Certainly the systems at other companies have been able to accomplish similar goals without ANY outside assistance or intervention. It would seem that despite the assistance of various outside experts you have thumbed your nose at incorporating their expertise. The head of the company has every intention of moving forward with our overall goals and feels it best to terminate your participation at this time.

We are beginning the process of reviewing outside candidates who, while their origin will come from outside the company, are no doubt ideal candidates for the ultimate position we had to hoped to accomplish with your participation. As it turns out there are numerous other ways to reach the company’s overall goal. So there. Perhaps you were under the assumption that you were the end-all-beat-all way of accomplishing this particular plan of the company. You are not. We have begun to pool our resources and are focussing them on a different process by which we are hopeful and certain to have the success we have hoped for for quite some time. 

If you feel in the future that you would like to be included once again in the accomplishment of this particular goal you are certainly welcome to do so. At any time. Without notifying the head of the company. You may feel free to surprise us at any time in the future by announcing that you are intent on accomplishing the goal through your own devices. However, since we have been informed at this time that this is questionable at best, we will not spend any further emotional or financial resources running at the brick wall you have set before us. Again, you are welcome at anytime to regain the full status and potential your position entails but for now, we ask that you return to your day-to-day tasks and to do them with the normalcy and regularity that you have done so well in the past.

Your desk and all its accoutrement will remain in place for your continued day-to-day use.

With all respect,

Me

Head of Human Resources, Aging Baby Maker, Inc. 

Addendum:

Please read the above with its intended silliness: I fear folks think I’m crying in my soup. I’m doing really well and wrote the above tongue-in-cheek because humor is how I cope…..and because every thing about what we go through with all this is so fucking ridiculous.

Big Money Big Decisions

We’ve been so kickass lucky up until now that most of our IVF expenses have been covered. That door is closing.

The doctor has recommended pushing through with stims and freezing – after which everything becomes out-of-pocket for us. The math on freezing and storing embryos, a month or two of testing, drugs and an FET cycle (Frozen Embryo Transfer) would run us approximately $7000 (on top of the $1800 out-of-pocket we’ve already spent for uncovered tests and meds since February). That’s a conservative estimate.

$7000

That’s alot of scratch now isn’t it?

Those of you who are stepping onto your “I’ve Been Paying for IVF Out-Of-Pocket All Along” Soapboxes – I get it! I know which side my bread has been buttered on. I also know that without coverage we WOULD NOT have pursued IVF at all.

At all.

So let’s all take a deep breath and proceed….

$7000….and that’s an estimate. $7000 for a less than 10% chance of a positive pregnancy test, a lower chance of carrying to term.

Our meeting with an adoption agency gave us a rough approximate estimate of $30,000 to adopt a child.

So the question is: do we spend $7000, $30,000 or $37,000?

It’s the 3 Little Bears of “Where Should We Spend Our Money?” …..though instead of Too Small, Too Big and Just Right, it’s more like “Yikes!, Holy Crap! and Ah-Ooo-Gah!”

I’ll break down our thoughts:

The 7K for testing/FET feels like a real crapshoot. Not impossible for it to work….but RUAL RUAL slim chances. There’s a feeling that we’d be just throwing that $7000 away.

Doing the testing/FET first would delay starting the adoption process for another 4-5 months, which doesn’t seem right to either of us. If we were to do them both at the same time the potential $37,000 makes my stomach hurt.

So that brings us to our decision.

Which I’ll reveal…….after these commercial messages.

My hubbo and I have talked through it all, from every angle. He doesn’t like everything that IVF entails…shots, tests, driving to lots and lots to appointments, dealing with anxiety laced progesterone dreams…. He hates me having to get biopsies: “I don’t like them going in there and taking parts out.” But he’d support whatever I wanted to try, since my body has to do the heavy lifting. I felt him wanting to let me make the decision and told him it was too big to do alone, I needed to know exactly what he wanted.

Without thinking he said, “I’m ready to move on.”

Just like that.

Move on. Let it go. Mourn never carrying a biological child and look forward with hope to having a family a different way.

I’m not gonna lie: I’m tired. It’s been a long time. 2-1/2 years. And yes, I know some of you have been at it for way longer (and I’m pulling for you every step of the way) but I’m 43 and I’m tired of treading water.

I need some hope. I need to take the path that includes the most hope of us having a family.

IVF/Testing/FET = a known process, a few weeks of discomfort, lots of waiting, not much hope on the other end

Adoption = lots of unknown, likely a long daunting process with lots of waiting, and with lots and lots of hope at end

Monday after we left the doctor’s office my hubbo said “we likely know our best course of action, we just need to come to terms with it.”

So that’s where we are now: preparing for the excitement of adoption while coming to terms with the decision to stop trying to conceive.

And even though it feels right it’s harder than I thought it would be.

More on where I’m at with that when I speak with you next.

 

 

Test Results Equal Shitty News

There’s alot happening all of a sudden – I’m going to break it up into a few posts:

Monday my husband and I sat down with Dr. Hail Mary thinking we were there to ask some last minute questions and then charge into IVF4: The Final Frontier. I had repeated the endometrial receptivity/Beta 3 integrin biopsy on March 31 and those results were already in.

Good news: the Beta 3 integrin was now positive. Bad news: my lining was still out of phase “despite aggressive treatment.” Dr. Hail Mary explained that this meant the cells weren’t getting the message from the progesterone and estrogen and therefore the lining was not receptive to implantation.

Think of it this way: my lining is Quantity over Quality.

Basically: there’s enough lining but implantation is highly improbable in that environment.

He said, “In this business we pay so much attention to egg quality that sometimes we disregard the environment we’ll be putting that embryo into.”

He figures this is the most likely reason I miscarried and have had 3 unsuccessful IUIs and 3 failed IVFs.

Y’all: my eco-system is off.

He doesn’t know why my lining is out of phase. He said it shouldn’t be an age issue and there’s every likelihood that it’s always been this way – meaning I may have had trouble whenever we’d tried to conceive. He’s not sure of that by the way, but it’s a possibility.

Oh and our fertility insurance runs out May 31 (it’s attached to my husband’s contract which ends May 31) so basically we have 8 weeks of coverage left.

It’s always somethin’ am I right?

The doctor recommends more testing cycles to see if he can figure out a) what may be causing the out-of-phase lining and more importantly b) if he can fix it. There’s some trial-and-error involved here since he doesn’t know why his usual methods didn’t fix things.

Given our waining insurance situation he suggested we proceed with our final IVF cycle (insurance covers 4), go through stims, see if there’s anyone to freeze, freeze them, THEN do at least one (if not more) cycle of testing to try to make my lining receptive and then hopefully move forward with a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) or perhaps use a gestational carrier (insert the giggles of two midwestern lower middle class people in their 40s with no retirement plan).

Basically we’re looking at a rough estimate of 4ish months (2 months for IVF, 1ish months for testing, 1 cycle for FET) before I can do that transfer….so end of July or August.

He was….not hopeful….pretty matter of fact….and honest in his confusion over why my body doesn’t seem to be playing ball. My husband asked if there’s the possibility that he might not be able to fix this phase issue to which the doctor said, “that is a real possibility.”

It’s not just my age anymore, there’s actual stuff keeping me from getting pregnant.

This pill is far more bitter and harder to swallow than I’d anticipated.

It feels like my already low chances of getting pregnant at 43 just dropped. Alot.

The doctor estimated that a woman with my ovarian reserve has approximately a 10% chance of GETTING pregnant. STAYING pregnant is another matter…..that number is significantly lower.

We’ve been talking alot and mulling over what to do….and I think we know what’s ahead of us.

More on that tomorrow.

 

Early Pregnancy Announcements: Ew.

Tuesday, a guy I know posted a photo on his Facebook with the caption:

so… it’s super early- and really, a lot could go wrong. but I’m too excited to keep it a secret. 
my wife put it best… “so… this happened today.”

The photo was of course of a positive pregnancy test:

 url

 So basically, they announced their pregnancy when they’re about a whiff’s worth of pregnant.

I’ve always been one of those “wait all the way through the first trimester” kind of gals. I’m superstitious and old-fashioned that way. Now that I’ve a) had a miscarriage, b) known folks who miscarried and c) found out just how common miscarriages are, I find myself even more superstitious and leery of letting the cat out of the bag early.

I mean, I’m happy for them, of course I am (though I won’t lie to you guys…..it also stings to know that JUST ONE MORE person is pregnant before me) but it just seems like SUCH A BAD IDEA to post that picture on the Facebooks when they’re all of what….4 or 5 weeks pregnant?

I feel shitty for this kind of judgment.

It’s interesting though – as a lady writing about her struggles and quests, I realize that if I get pregnant (IF, I said IF….I can dream) I’ll be telling the faceless online support group of fellow questers that it’s worked likely after the first few betas. But it sort of feels like we’re all in this together – the joy of one keeps a mess of us going in a way, “It worked for her, it could for me.”

There was a side thought to my seeing that photo:

They don’t know they’re rubbing their fertility in the noses of a mess of people.

Why would they?

Would I have known if none of this had been a problem?

No, I wouldn’t have.

There’s an innocence that I’ve lost. That many of us have lost. The innocence that tells us to shout out joyous news from the rooftops. That everyone will be happy. Who wouldn’t be happy to hear that there’ll be a new little life in the world?

However:

Between them they know like 900 people….the sheer law of averages means a few people on that list are having a rough go getting pregnant or worse yet, have lost one to miscarriage.

They’re excited. I get it. But take a breath.

And yes, I know I’m a bit of an asshole with this – but it’s my blog, and it’s a safe place.

 

#100happydays 25% of the way

Over on the Twits I’ve been participating in the hashtag “100happydays”

The endeavor: take a picture every day of something that makes you happy i.e. find a bit of happiness in every day.

I’m actually doing this on both of my Twitter feeds: AgingBabyMaker and MyRealName (see what I did there…you won’t find me just yet, friends). The pictures are sometimes the same but often different – the ones on my (actual name) account often have a bit more snark to them….or irony….or a “look at this dumb thing” aspect.

Anyway, since I’m about 1/4 through the 100 days I thought I’d share a few of the photos here – a mixed bag of shots from both accounts so you can get some sweet with the snark.

IMG_0146 unnamed IMG_0276 IMG_0271  IMG_0177 IMG_0106  IMG_0027 IMG_0026 IMG_0126 IMG_0112 IMG_0043 IMG_0326

So – some things that have made me happy over the last 25 days:

An actual phone (old school!!!), Star Wars dog toys, an egg pillow, butterscotch root beer, Lord of the Rings pez dispensers, a sign making me aware of rattlesnakes and bees (no thank you!), a puppy picture of my dog, a calming mug of something warm, socks with a unicorn….shooting rainbows out of its butt!, shamrock shakes (ironic because the thing I was photographing was the 660 calories listing which keeps me from actually buying the minty goodness….), a very sleepy Buddha, and some daffodils (which indicate that spring WILL eventually show up, even if Chicago fights it every step of the way).

What’s a little something that makes you happy? Put a picture in the reply!

Helpful Statements That Are Gut Punches

I had a great lady lunch with some friends yesterday that had one bump in the road. It occurred when I talked about starting our final IVF while also seeing an adoption process on the horizon. My dear friend, in trying to show she cared used one of “those phrases” that seem harmless but are in fact, full of harm:

“You know that once you adopt you’ll get pregnant.”

Because she’s my close friend I didn’t feel the need to mask anything and just said, “well actually all this testing is showing us why we’re likely not getting pregnant and it’s because I have a number of things that can affect implantation so as awesome as it would be to just get pregnant, it just doesn’t look like that would happen.” We talked it out and it’s fine, but it definitely showed me that when the time comes that we “go public” I can likely expect more of these statements.

Oof.

I did a quick google search of the phrase “what not to say to an infertile couple” and I got some juicy ones. Here are thoughts on just a few.

“It could be worse, it could be (insert awful disease here)”

Um, thanks? Why don’t we make a Pie chart of other things that could be worse: pooping my pants on an airplane, having 14 mosquito bites for a year in places I can’t itch, falling into a cactus while my naked lady bits are exposed…. This is a fun game!

“just relax and you’ll get pregnant”

I laugh alot, professionally and personally. I also knit, which is my own form of meditation. I like to cook and chop and stir, all very zen activities. Re. Laxed. And hey look, not pregnant.

“at least you’re having fun trying”

Am I? Infertility makes “trying” into math: when to try, when to abstain, when to try alot. Pee on this stick or take your temperature every day to check for ovulation. Plus, you’re tired! Tired for normal life reasons AND there’s something you really want that you’re not getting and that makes you more tired. So no, we’re not rampantly running amok “having fun trying” on top of all the tables and chairs and in closets morning noon and night. (Not that we were before….who do you think I am?)

There so many more ridiculous things that get said by the way – Google them and have a giggle (or a cry). Don’t get me started on the ones that involve God/supreme beings/what the universe wants.

Honestly, we dodged a big bullet by getting married in our 40s – I can count on one hand two fingers the folks who’ve blatantly asked “so, when are we gonna see some kids?” Apparently, getting married late = implied automatic shut down of parental endeavors?

I’ve been at wedding receptions and seen people walk up to the bride and ask “when are you having kids.” I wanted to throat punch on their behalf. (for the record: I didn’t). Btw, it’s usually a craggy old aunt who does the asking. Don’t be the craggy old aunt.

This is second friend who used the “once you adopt you’ll get pregnant” on me. My friends absolutely wanted to help, wanted to show that they cared (alot!), wanted to show that they were hopeful for my success….but just didn’t think about the fact they were saying these phrases to someone who’s been trying too long.

The sad thing is….before I was in this muck, I likely used these phrases, or at the least wouldn’t have thought about the full impact.

So, before you go throwing what you think is a helpful phrase around, consider:

Do you know if they’ve been trying? Do you how long? Do you know them well enough to deal w/the potential anger/sadness you might trigger w/your pretty friggin personal question?

No one MEANS to be insensitive, but man we all step in it sometimes without thinking.

Maybe just have the balls to say, “I’m really sorry. It must be hard to face all this. I don’t really know what to say.”

It’s likely gonna make you an even better friend.

But if I see you at a wedding and you walk up to the bride or groom and ask them….I will find you.

Dancing dubbed, Muppet Interviews and Gervais w/Elmo

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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This clip is from Awakefest 2013, and some genius figured out that it would be fantastically better to set the dancing of these festival-goers to the theme from Benny Hill. I couldn’t agree more.

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Here’s a clip from Unscripted – Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog all taking audience questions re: the release of The Muppets. It’s fairly off-the-cuff and some of it gets pretty sassy. Also, at the 4:15 mark Miss Piggy does impressions of other muppets….and it’s fantastic.

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Ricky Gervais and Elmo in an off-the-rails interview…clearly most of it never made it to air.

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Happy weekend everyone!

No Laparoscopy for This Lady

So insurance will NOT cover the laparoscopy to look for endometriosis. Shit. Not that I was in any way looking forward to going through a laparoscopy (especially since I have to fly to Boston 2 days later), but it would have been nice to have that information and something to treat if something was there.

Well….my Friday’s now open….anyone wanna catch a movie?

We are repeating the Beta 3 integrin biopsy (super gross) at the end of this cycle/end of the month so we will see if it is again negative or if it’s positive (it can change month to month). I am also taking delestrogen – injectable estrogen – every other night to see if this stronger medicine can take care of the “out of phase” issue with my endometrial lining (build up the quality not just the quantity). So that’s two things we’re hoping to fix with this trial/test cycle.

If that Beta 3 integrin’s negative again they want to treat me as if I have endometriosis: Lupron for 3 months or Birth Control pills with Letrozole/Femara (don’t know how long that would be) to hopefully shrink whatever might be there (might be there because we don’t know if I even have endometriosis because I can’t get an exploratory laparoscopy – Eat a D insurance company) and get the environment more suitable (Beta 3 positive) for implantation and occupation.

Now here’s the pickle: we don’t have that kind of time. My hubbo’s contract is up in a few months and our bells & whistles insurance is tied to that. I.e. our fertility coverage goes away end of May/June-ish – he’s in touch with his HR person to get a firm answer on what timeline we’re looking at.

So….we may have to say Fuck It to all this stuff (remember: “ignore all this info and proceed” was one of the options Dr. Hail Mary gave us) and move forward with an honest-to-goodness-low-probability-of-success-but-giving-it-a-shot-anyway IVF starting next month.

Timeline for now: some bloodwork & ultrasounds on 15th, 20th & 25th to see how body’s responding to delestrogen/progesterone trial cycle, Beta 3 integrin biopsy on 30th or 31st…..then we wait the 10ish days for that test to come back.

AND! We really need to make a decision on when to move forward with the adoption process – we’re not getting any younger and that’s a (probably….potentially) LONG process. The first step is 10-12 weeks of paperwork/interviews to get past the home visit stage….which is the point at which potential birth mothers can start seeing your profile. The woman we met with felt we were great candidates, in part because we have very few limitations on the child we’re looking for – we just need to fill out the application and get going. 

But you know – who wants to drop a few thousand on the start of an adoption process only to find out their IVF worked (Hail Mary!!!). It’s only a few more months of waiting…but I’m feeling antsy about making things happen/wanting to be proactive.

It’s alot. It’s all alot. For the first time I wonder if I’m cracking a bit under the pressure. I’m mostly okay but there are a few more “rain cloud” moments within the day where I’m thinking too much and wondering when the tide will turn. I still have all the faith that we’ll end up with our family – it’s just feeling like it’s taking an awfully long time to get there.

Clearly I need to go that Liam Neeson movie and hope for some throat punching….Friday? Anyone? Chicago? My treat!

 

 

Insurance: To Cover or Not To Cover

So Friday I had the following email exchange with my RE’s office regarding our upcoming laparoscopy to look for endometriosis:

RE’s office:    

I just wanted to give you a heads up that as of right now, (Insurance Co) is denying your surgery. A negative Beta  Integrin  test  is not justification for laparoscopy.  [We will] review your history to  determine if there  are other signs/symptoms to support a laparoscopy. I will keep you posted on Monday after we are able to review your chart.

Me:                  

Out of curiosity, with so many women asymptomatic (as I am), how does the surgery usually get justified? Or is this often a problem?

RE’s office:    

It is a problem …. Beta Integrin testing (that’s the gross biopsy I had a few weeks ago and will likely repeat) is not recommended/approved by ASRM. That’s why insurance does not cover the test and you had to pay for it out of pocket.  It is a controversial subject in the field. It is kind of one of those theories that has  not been 100% proven or backed by the RE community and studies.

Me:                

Oh I get that – but what about ladies who don’t have symptoms (a 1/3 of women with endo don’t have symptoms) but it becomes necessary to check to see if endometriosis is present….that it’s the culprit for fertility problems? Do you have to go through this every time?

RE’s office:  

If patients are asymptomatic there is usually no need to check for endo.  The only reason we typically do a diagnostic laparoscopy is because someone has symptoms and we have a hunch that those symptoms are due to endo so we go in a look to confirm if our theory is correct.

So…..hopefully they’ll be able to make the case, because it would be nice to know what’s going on in there…and if there’s something going on in there, do something to fix it. We will not do the lap if it’s out-of-pocket. It would be thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars, and since it’s only to “look and see” we’d rather save those thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars to put into our adoption fund if IVF4 doesn’t pay off. (Speaking of, we had a great meeting with an adoption agency a week ago – I really need o write about that soon).

I have a pre-op phone consult tomorrow to discuss the surgery….hopefully I’ll know soon if I’m actually going to have it.