Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Things that Could Mean Everything,…or Nothing At All.

Things That Could Mean Everything

I had to take a few weeks to myself while nearing the end of our IVF journey because I was battling extreme anxiety and wanted to be as focused as possible.  But have no fear!  I have been documenting all the while, so that all my thoughts would be fresh and that I’ll be able to share with you what has been going on once I was a safe distance from it. The following are my actual thoughts while enduring everyone’s dreaded two week wait between transfer and beta testing.

Regina

 

Because what is infertility without panic and superstition?

Things that could mean everything, or maybe nothing:

  • Going to pee and then after sitting right back down, feeling like I forgot to pee when I was in there.
  • Extreme and relentless boobage somehow.
  • Black person myth-busting necessity: Dreamed of Salmon…though I don’t know what the rules are about the whole “I dreamed of fish” thing.  Do the fish have to be swimming along having a good time?  Or does my dream of perfectly cooked salmon last night not count?
  • Dizziness.  I could have just been tired though.
  • Nauseatingly warm.  Not nauseous. But boiling.

Coincidences that made me smile momentarily and then just creeped me out:

Spiders are supposed to be good luck, right?

  • Spiders in the doctor’s office on the day of transfer
  • Spiders in the bathroom at home the evening after
  • Spiders at work the next day
  • Spider in my CAR the next evening
  • Spider in the hallway of my building the next day

When visiting my doctor’s office for bloodwork and ultrasounds, there was always music playing in the ultrasound room:

  • We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off by Jermaine Stewart
  • If You Think I’m Sexy by Rod Stewart
  • Danger Zone (this one actually played the day they found out I was hyper-stimming a little)
  • We Belong Together by Pat Benetar
  • Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics
  • Lady by The Commodores
Times I freaked out and assumed I’d ruined everything:
  • The day after the transfer, Wendy’s under-cooked my chicken sandwich and I almost had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by eating under-cooked meat.
  • Upon returning to work that day, I also moved a piece of furniture in the teen room at work and once again had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by overexerting myself.
  • Bought pineapple to try and do the pineapple diet, but forgot it was in the refrigerator and didn’t eat it.  So of course…I’d ruined everything.
  • Then, I dreamed of fish, but it was cooked. So once again, I had a conniption and believed I’d ruined everything.
  • Oh, then I drank a glass of ice water and took my socks off to fight the aforementioned boiling point…then read a blog about PCOS during the 2ww that said, you should NOT drink ice water and you should have socks on 24/7 to “keep all your energy going to your uterus”. So then I had another conniption and believed I’d ruined everything by taking precious energy from my uterus to warm my water and feet.

Clearly I’m neurotic, and making hellafied mistakes with this whole thing I’m sure, but whatever the case…stick around, kid.  Stick. Around.

Getting to Go Time.

My mom always says, “You have to have yourself in order, even if nothing is moving forward, because when God finally says “Go”, it’s gonna move SO fast, you have to be ready.”   She’s right, you know.

So following my initial appointment, where we found the dreaded polyp, I was scheduled for yet another polypectomy and hysteroscopy.  Big whoop.

Cue panic #1

When the nurse called to pre-register me for surgery, he let me know that the hospital where the surgery was scheduled, does not typically accept my insurance, and that I should check in with them again in two days to make sure that I didn’t have a bill.  I freaked out EXTENSIVELY (and internally) as I waited the couple days before I could call the office and ask.  When I finally got in touch, they assured me that all was covered. giphy (1)

Having had this surgery previously, I was expecting more of the same.  But my doctor came to my room to greet us.  She hung out with us for a few minutes, explained the procedure and talked with my mom for a good while.  She even apologized that I’d had to get up so early to make it to the hospital.  She stopped in to see me two more times that day, and walked alongside my bed to the OR, just chatting away.

Have I mentioned how much I love her? I think I have, but I’ll say it again: I LOVE HER.

So, last week, I went into the office for my follow-up. I was prepared for a repeat of the stalled out meeting I had following the last procedure with my previous clinic.  You know, the one where they lay out all the things that don’t work, and how much delay we can expect?  As hopeful as I’ve been trying to be, I’m also cautious, having been at the starting line more times than I can count, and STILL never taking off.

So imagine my surprise, when my nurse proceeded to move along to baseline testing and ultrasounds. giphyWhile drawing my blood she said, “So did you get your meds yet?”  I didn’t even try to hide my confusion.  “I sent in the order for your meds and you should have them by Friday because your protocol will start Saturday.”  Here’s some perspective,…this was Thursday morning.

I went into my ultrasound, still reeling from that little bit of info.  They were a little wary of my notoriously ridiculous uterine lining, but said it wasn’t a huge issue and that most importantly, I was polyp free!  From there, we sat in an injection walk-through and a layout of our drug protocol.

Let me remind you, when I came into the office, I was expecting to just hear about my polypectomy, and find out what was the next thing for us to wait on.  At this stage in the game previously, we were again at “hurry up and wait”. We were extremely unprepared for the amount of information that was being hurled at us.

We left the office, called the insurance regarding the meds, and were told to await a call from the pharmacy.

Cue panic #2

When the pharmacy called to confirm the meds order, they ended the phone call by saying, “We’ll call you back with your final bill.”  I freaked out.   Everything had been going so fast and so well, that here was where the hammer was going to come down.  They were going to call me back with an astronomical cost that my t-shirt sales and fundraising events weren’t going to be able to cover.

The pharmacist called back.  She said, “We just need a credit card to cover your final balance on your meds.  The total is $5.85.”

I asked her to repeat herself.  I thought I’d heard $585″.

She laughed and said, “$5.85.  Your insurance covered everything except for an antibiotic.” Remember how I was freaking out because my insurance had changed?  Turns out, it was for my good.  

giphy

In 24 hours,…this was in our front hallway:

IMAG5953 In 20 minutes, this was in our apartment, along with the giant cooler of follistim cartridges that was also packed in the huge box:Untitled

 

When I talked to my aunt, to fill her in on the meds being PAID FOR and DELIVERED,…she said, and I quote:

“They not playing around.  You are.”

She’s right too, you know?

When you get used to being slowed around and pushed back, it can be easy to fall into routine.  We have had so many stops and starts.  Job changes, insurance changes, new diagnoses, extra issues, dosage changes, and a few mind-calming breaks in between. Every, single, time that I have gotten really excited about this, or even when I put this aside completely, and stepped out on faith for adoption, things have consistently found a way to grind their way down to a standstill.

There have been times where I couldn’t even bear to visit my own site, because it seemed like a glaring reminder of failure and the most excruciatingly slow timeline. People have asked me if I was afraid of getting pregnant, or if I was choosing not to move forward, because they couldn’t comprehend just what was taking so long.  Most of these stalls and setbacks were so unbelievable that even explaining them sometimes, made people look at me like,

But as discouraging as it’s been, and as long as it’s taken, and whatever other dramatic culmination I could use right now…

TODAY, is stim day 3.

And we are officially in an IVF cycle.

And regardless of the 1 1/2 inch needle that delivers these meds intramuscularly.

And not getting focused on the money we still have to spend on embryo storage, etc.,

Whatever else happens on this journey, for just getting HERE, to this exact moment of this exact thing,

THANK YOU LORD.

1st Peter 5  10

Perspective.

Perspective

Random question: Do you watch Portlandia?  If you don’t, you should.  But anyway, more on that later.  In Portlandia, a sketch comedy show featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, there is a sketch called “Put a Bird On It”, where they play two enthusiastic local art personalities who expound on the wonders of putting a decorative bird on things.  Drab old sweatshirt?  Put a bird on it!  Hideous wall portrait?  Put a bird on it!  Everything going downhill?  Put a bird on it!

tumblr_m20tlxB1St1qan32io3_250

While there are various theories about what the phrase means, I like to think that the idea is that when things are at their worst, sometimes you just have to “put a bird on it”, and change your perspective.

As of this year, my job changed their insurance coverage for the second time in three years.  This “little” change, wreaked major havoc on my (already stalled) infertility treatments because it meant that they would no longer be covered at the fertility center I was a part of.  So needless to say, I panicked a little.  The clinic was listed really highly in my area, but staying there meant basically paying out of pocket.

I started to get a little (a lot) freaked out.  The tally of obstacles had mounted considerably. I mean, seriously.  I was so discouraged after the last appointment, because everything was out of my control.  My doctor basically listed out every obstacle we had and kind of left it at that.  I couldn’t see an out, other than just to start fundraising, and hope that by the time I’d done what I could to help us raise the money for medications and embryo storage, etc., that The Spouse would have heard something back from urology.  Beyond that, the ball was not seemingly in my court.

sigh-o

Fast forward to this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  For the past two years, I’ve invited some friends in the industry to visit the library where I work, for a panel discussion on building families.  I called in representatives who could discuss IVF, adoption, foster care, etc., for an informal and accessible way for people in my community to get information on building their families.

For the second year in a row, I had a great RE on the panel, whom I’d been introduced to through a mutual friend in the infertility community.  Her honest, matter-of-fact, and most of all knowledgeable demeanor, combined with her added experience of having dealt with infertility herself for ten years, made her a great addition.  In the few moments before this year’s panel, she asked me how things were going with my own journey, since when last we’d seen each other, I was awaiting a follow-up appointment.  I told her how stalled I was, and how flatly my RE had told me just that at our last appointment.

She looked at me squarely and said,  “Come see me.  Call my cellphone.  Because this is ridiculous.  You just need to get there.  You keep getting up to the starting line but you just can’t seem to get there.  Call me.  It’s a distance, but we will make it work.”

I have to admit, I was a little thrown.  I shook it off to prepare for the panel, but I could NOT stop thinking about it.  A few weeks prior, my mom and I had hunted down a list of fertility centers that were available under my new insurance.  Many of them had been either really far away, or didn’t have the greatest success rates, and I’d filed the list away and retreated into myself.  When I got home on this day however, I went and took a look at at the list a little closer and out of allllllllll the clinics that were no longer covered for me, HERS WAS.

giphy

After going through a few annoying hoops to get a shiny new referral, I finally got in to see her.  The Spouse and I had quite a drive, but when she walked into the office, as she was returning from another procedure, she said, “How was the drive!?  I know this was far for you!  We’ll do what we can to make this process fast so that you don’t have to do it too often.”

In that quick, 2 minute interaction, she was my favorite person.  Because she SAW us.  She didn’t see another patient on the roster, or another chart, but she saw US.  People. People who had been dealing with this heart-wrenching condition for YEARS, and even in that, she took the time to also see, even after running from god knows where to get there in time for our appointment, that we were people who had driven a distance to see her.

Sitting in her office, I have to admit I was still a little nervous.  When last I’d sat across from an RE with my chart, the doctor had basically told me “this is going to suck.  Because you have all this crap interfering with each other that is making this whole thing virtually impossible, but here, go talk to the nurse a bit about what it’s all going to cost you and call me when you get that urology stuff worked out.”  I was prepared for more bad news, or just a really extensive time line.

And then she started talking.

Now here’s where things got interesting.  Nothing in my chart has changed.  All the issues there before are still there.  But she put a bird on it.  She talked with hope, and positivity, and excitement.  She was honest about each issue, but didn’t regard any of them as an issue, but rather something we would get through together.  As a team.

By the time we left her office that day, we’d completed bloodwork, HAD AN ULTRASOUND, and had a timeline. A DATE. Something we have never, ever made it to before.  Every single time that we get started, we run into a brick wall.  Lots of stops and starts that never much amount to anything other than hurt feelings and heartache.  But for the first time, we saw a lot of hope on the horizon, and had a doctor who had a lot of hope for us.

So all our issues are still what they are, but we’re putting a bird on em.

Things don’t always go as planned.

Sometimes IVF doesn’t work.

Sometimes there are complications.

But sometimes, just sometimes, you gotta put a bird on it anyway.

Sometimes you gotta give yourself hope.

And sometimes, you need a really great doctor, who LISTENS, to help you get the hope you need.

The Adoption Option: My Visit To The Cradle

Recently, I was invited to visit The Cradle’s “Gale and Ardythe Sayers Center for African American adoption”, on behalf of The Egg.  I had a really great time not only learning about the history of this great resource, but also just having a good “you get it” convo with Nijole (pronounced ni-lay), the organization’s Director of Resource and Community Development.

Cradle 1On a chilly Sunday afternoon, I met with my sorority sisters for lunch in Evanston and then headed over just in time to meet with Nijole at The Cradle’s headquarters.  She and her son Harrison, a proud “Cradle Baby”, met me with huge smiles, open arms, and an adorable puppet, in the parking lot.  Stopping in to take off our winter coats, one of the first things I saw was a Chicago Bears jersey of former player Gale Sayers, for whom the African American adoption center is named for.  IMAG4096

Throughout the main floor were walls and walls of photographs of children who’ve been placed through The Cradle.  There are photos just about everywhere, that make it very clear just how many lives have been changed here.  Along a south wall, was a photo of a woman with a warm smirk, and an adorable hat.  Nijole introduced her as Florence Walrath, founder of The Cradle. IMAG4098

The Cradle, was founded by Evanston, Illinois resident Florence Walrath in 1923.  Having a sister who’d experienced infertility, Florence’s chance encounter with a doctor who knew of a young woman who was pregnant with no hope, led to Florence uniting the two women. That one match led to 91 years of building families!

I was inspired by the story of Florence Walrath.  At the time she began her mission to find families for children, adoption was highly stigmatized.  Because of the stigma, it was also a very quiet and secretive endeavor.  One can imagine how much harder it had to be to face infertility during those days, and how heightened the guilt, shame and embarrassment must have been.  To provide this service for so many families, was a true mission.

Not only did she work to unite families, but eventually also to bring some dignity to the process, for all involved.  Her work in The Cradle also helped to address the high infant mortality rates that were of the time period.  I’d encourage anyone to learn more about this amazing woman!

Continuing our tour, I visited The Cradle Museum, a room with original images and materials from the organization’s history.

I also visited the “Living room”, where the staff says their goodbyes to new families going home.  Photo albums in The Cradle "Living Room".Last on the main floor, I visited the room where many birth-parents have their introduction meetings with potential adoptive parents.  IMAG4094

While standing in this room, a lot of thoughts flooded my head, and Nijole actually blessed me with the story of how she and her husband felt on the day they met their son’s birthmother in this very space.  What a hard conversation.  What a hard decision.

The more we talked, the more I felt that it is special people who are called to adoption. People who can accept the move past their original wants and desires, to accept that the primary goal is now to provide family for a child, and not to fill a void.  The mourning process, for those of us who have dealt with infertility, and the act of letting go of the things you thought would be, is heart-wrenching.  But also beautiful.

I applaud The Cradle for offering support and encouragement to those people.

IMAG4099Last on the tour, was a trip to visit the nursery.  The Cradle is the only adoption agency in the country with a 24 hour nursery to house infants who are in need of temporary care. Volunteers come in to provide contact and love for the infants, while nursing staff is also on hand.  Detailed notes are taken while infants are in their care, to monitor eating habits, personalities, and any other information that their parents may need when they head home.

 

Returning to Nijole’s office, we talked a bit more about what the Sayer’s Center program means for African American adoption.  At half the cost, the Sayer’s program seeks to make adoption more accessible, in the hopes of removing a barrier that could be behind the lack of potential African American adoptive parents.

More than anything, our conversation at its heart, was still just one of the warm and comfortable ones I’ve come to expect when speaking to someone else who has dealt with infertility.  Our wants are similar.  We both want to make people aware.  Aware of the resources available to them, and aware of how to empower themselves with the knowledge to change the conversation around family building. No one’s journey has to be identical to anyone else’s, but rather it’s the right of each of us to find the path that best suits us.

While adoption isn’t at the forefront of my husband and I’s journey right now, I have to admit to feeling sincerely grateful that there were other individuals like me, who were willing to be my support if it did become our next step.

The Cradle is not the only adoption agency.  Their way of doing things is not the only way. Their program is, I’m sure, not solely unique. And adoption is not the path for everyone. However, I thought it was important to share this experience, and tell someone who needs to hear it, that adoption is a viable option for some of us, and it is not as out of reach as one may think.

Thank you Nijole for the tour, and for just being a warm fellow advocate in this fight.

 

Fertility For Colored Girls “Hats, Heels, and Hankies Tea”: Amazing, elegant, and inspiring.

There are few experiences during this infertility thing where you feel empowered.  The moments are few and far between, and you will find that when you get them, you will begin to savor them and never want them to end.  The Fertility For Colored Girls‘ 2nd Annual “Hats, Heels, and Hankies Tea”, was one of those experiences. (more…)

Grey Matter

I Matter copy
I did not sleep last night.  I will admit that aside from taking an ill-timed nap, my anxiety got the better of me.
I did pray, however. And the most poignant message that came to me in that time of meditation was this: “I MATTER.”

I worry a lot. I worry about time. I worry about the world. I worry about my health. I worry about my words. I worry about people. I worry about my dog. I worry. I am a worrier.
My mother compared my niece to me this weekend as she recounted their day together.

“She’s very much like Regina,” she said. “there were a few clouds in the sky and she was convinced that it was going to storm, and wanted to stay inside.”

We all laughed. I actually didn’t think much of it. But it nagged me sometime later when I started to realize, that I am passing along this feeling of panic.
Out of all the things I worry about, do you want to know what I worry about most?

Most of all, I worry about whether to ask God for things. Along these years of battle with my own body, there have been many casualties. Slow, silent deaths. One of which, being my hope at many times. Or more honestly, my faith.
I am deeply ashamed to admit that, but hey, I talk about everything else in this space, so why not share that?

When I really started to break down why I wasn’t really praying over any of this very much anymore, I guess what I felt it came down to was, I don’t feel worth protecting, or saving, or listening to, sometimes. In the midst of great accomplishments, professionally I was just named Young Adult Librarian of the Year in my state, and socially, I was just reappointed to a very cool position in my organization, I still feel relatively incomplete in many aspects. And that nagging little feeling of “you don’t really deserve that”, combined with the fact that this STUPID STUPID STUPID infertility thing won’t just die, makes me forget how blessed I really am sometimes.

It’s hard to dictate why people want to have children. I guess that’s why most of us get pissed off when you ask. No matter the answer, as a person struggling with infertility, you’re always going to feel like your answer isn’t cutting it, and is in fact the most selfish one that can be imagined.

Whatever your personal reasons are, I would wager that on the basic human level, there is also an innate desire to leave your mark on the world. To have been here. To know that when you are no more, there is a living, breathing legacy that you have created.

In my silent, overnight meditation, I recognized that for me, it is important that I remember that I matter.
Not only to my family and friends, or even to the organizations and agencies with whom I belong.

But that I matter to God
That He cares for me.
And for my life.
And that no matter how utterly devastated I feel, or how many “no”‘s or “not yet”‘s, I receive, that I am HERE. I am important. I was here.

Whether or not I am ever a mother, in the traditional sense.  Or if I am always going to be battling PCOS.  Or if I forever keep all my hangups, and screw-ups, and whatevers.

I, in all my whatever,…matter.

I will be honest.
I planned to sit on this one.
I make it a point not to debate religion or spirit on this blog, because it is too important to too many, to be left in the hands of keyboards and hotheads when humans inevitably disagree. And infertility-lore is already permeated with misunderstandings, misspeaks, and downright wrongness spewed in the name of it. We’ve all had or heard the “you just need to pray”, or “your faith isn’t strong enough” commentary at some point I’m sure in regards to our medical conditions.

But I think a lot of people feel the way that I do. Once one too many of our prayers seem unheard, or when a new catastrophe seems to fall out of nowhere and all at once, on top of our already shaky faith; that it’s somehow because they don’t matter. That you, out of all your friends, is the LONE person battling childlessness, because it’s you. That it’s because of something you did or said, or didn’t appreciate, that you are now one of the 7.3 million facing this or some other ailment.

I stayed up all night,…just to tell you that if nobody else tells you for the rest of your life,..

I’M telling you;

YOU MATTER.

Take of this post what you will, but it was on my heart to share it.

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