Today my kids saw it. They saw Mamma reach her limit and crack.
I am not talking about losing my temper or yelling loudly. I am not talking about throwing the dirty laundry down the stairs forcefully enough to make myself feel better. I am talking about that moment when you literally reach a physical and emotional peak and there is nowhere to go but down. I am referring to that moment in motherhood that is extremely magnified when you suffer from anxiety and depression. I am talking about Parenting for Real while still trying to find yourself under all the negative talk the little voice in your head makes.
I don’t like to feel out of control. I like my schedule, I like my routine and I certainly don’t appreciate when people put pressure on me to step outside my comfort zone.
My kids saw me lose control today. It wasn’t even 8:00am.
I don’t know if it was the dirty clothes on the floor stretching from the hallway and down the flight of stairs. I don’t know if it was the yogurt covered raisins covering the kitchen tiles. I cannot remember if it was the mess of blocks that I had just put my OCD to good use organizing. I don’t remember what set it off exactly, but it happened.
My kids saw me drop to my knees and lose control of every emotion I was trying to hold in. They saw their Mamma’s anxiety take complete control over their life and for a split second they were scared of it, and me.
For scaring my children, I feel guilty. For having a complete emotional breakdown in front of them for the first time in both their lives; I feel no guilt. They needed to see me hit my limit so they understand that I have them.
Too many of us suffer in hiding; silently struggling with anxiety and/or depression and a constant internal monologue that we cannot measure up. We fight the urge to ignore those voices, but fail miserably most of the time. We blame it on lack of sleep, being too busy, too distracted, hormonal, spread too thin, or not having enough support. We find every reason we can to evaluate and defend ourselves, but what we don’t do is forgive ourselves for being human. We feel as though, as Mothers, if we are not Superhero Moms, we are not good enough.
We put pressure on ourselves to keep a clean house, to remember birthdays, pay bills, work out a budget, plan dinner, play with our children and still try to support the family financially whenever possible. We were created to be strong because we are so tough on ourselves.
I got into the car to bring my daughter to school and as I turned up the radio, as demanded by the 4-year old in the third row, the words were piercingly poignant; I’m Gonna Dance to the Beat of Amazing Grace and Hold on to the Promise that you made, Cause I know whatever’s gonna come my way – You’re here with me and Its Gonna Be a Good Day.
So here I sit, an outgoing introvert who suffers from anxiety, with my son on my lap and a fresh cup of coffee, trying to fight the butterflies in my gut which want me to stop sharing this with you.
You. Are. Not. Alone. EVER.
No matter which way you look at it.
So throw things, shout, cry or even hit a wall – but Don’t feel as though you don’t measure up as a Mother. You ARE a mother, and that is Superhero enough for me and my Kids.
“You Never completely Heal emotionally from a miscarriage. When you decide to move forward with more treatments, it will sometimes feel as though you are turning your back on the child you lost. You will torture yourself with imagined scenarios of siblings, of your lost child’s reaction to your decisions. You will inaudibly consult your child on decisions that you feel they need to be a part of. A miscarriage creates a scar on your heart- and there is no healing scars. You just learn to live with them. Do not be ashamed of them. Embrace them, and make them part of your life. You will be stronger for it.”
We started our Gonadotropin injections as soon as we were allowed too, having passed the injectable class. It required a daily injection in the abdomen, a trigger shot, an IUI (Intra-uterine insemination) and the usual blood work and ultrasounds. The schedule looked something like this-
Day 2- Blood work/Ultrasound
Day 3 through 11 – Injections + 3xs Blood work
Day 12 – Ultrasound, Blood work and an injection
Day 13 – Blood work, Ultrasound, Trigger Shot
Day 14 – A physical break
Day 15 – Specimen Collation, IUI, Blood work
Day 17 – Progesterone Inserts 1-2xs daily as the doctor checks blood work very 5-7 Days
A side note about progesterone Inserts; They are disgusting. Stop reading and move to next paragraph if you are easily grossed out. The are a cream filled tampon you must insert to which gravity applies. Think about it. They are gross and required everyday after an IUI during an injectable cycle. Invest in some panty liners!
Now, the Prince and I had been through the general process 3 times before this cycle and used to do every step together. Things changed after the miscarriage. We became very determined and goal orientated. instead of taking it step by step.
I no longer walked to the dungeon of shame with him and instead, I sent him on the 1 hour drive alone to give a sample before 8 am, as required, while I waited back at home for the scheduled IUI the same afternoon. It became routine; no longer enjoyable.
To be completely honest, I think the miscarriage took more out of us emotionally then either of us were willing to admit. We still had faith in the process, but had lost hope it would work for us.
Getting a shot in my gut was a tough transition from simply swallowing pill. Even though I took the class, there was still the mental challenge of sticking myself with a needle, on purpose. I envisioned myself trying to fall onto it, or sticking my finger or my husband instead of my love-handle. I knew that the greater purpose for this was a baby and that helped when my husband did the shots, but it was so different when I had to do it myself.
To add a little pressure, all of these medications were scheduled and needed to be given within an hour of the same time which they were given the day previous.
I recall one time in particular; I was on work travel and it was the first time I had to give myself a shot alone. At dinner, I snuck a piece of ice into my cheek thinking I could numb my gut in the bathroom. When I finally arrived to my stall, the ice was gone and I was faced with sucking it up and sticking it to my gut, all alone, or quitting.
I am Not. A. Quitter.
At the risk of being found, passed out on the floor of a public rest room, with a syringe in hand, I took a deep breath, grabbed as much skin on my abdomen as possible and shoved that need in, like a butter knife into a well-done sirloin. As my hands trembled, I pressed the back of the syringe into the front and injected the meds into wherever the tip of the needle had landed (I could only imagine).
The only obstacle now was to exit the bathroom stall with an expression that explained the fact that my feet were no where near the usual ‘sitting on the toilet’ position and my skin tone had gone from a nice fuchsia to a translucent cream.I smiled at the first person in the long line that made eye-contact.
I watched the tiles pass my feet on the floor, to pass the rest.
Round 1 – Not pregnant.
Round 2 – Not pregnant.
Round 3 – and the last round our insurance would cover….. and something went wrong….
Last week, our family lost the most amazing man. He was a caring Father, Son, Friend and Great-Grandfather to my children. He never spoke unless spoken too and never spoke ill of anyone he knew or encountered.
This is a man who immigrated from Italy when he was just 12 years old with his Mother and Sister back in 1933. He was the son of a shoemaker in New York. His younger sister went off to college and Grandpa-Joe went off to war in the US Army Corps Search and Rescue for downed pilots. This is a man who served 2 consecutive terms with the search and rescue team only to be relieved by another radio-man who never returned from his tour.
Grandpa didn’t have cancer, heart disease, or even a headache. He turn 94 years old less than a week before he passed, and died at home, with family.
In Italian tradition, as I am learning, you have a wake/viewing, service and burial for each member of your family. This was worrisome to me, as my daughter suffers from Social Anxiety and Sensory Integration Disorder. This means, that any new situation or change in routine, typically tends to send her into a full physical and physiological panic attack. I was worried about having her see Grandpa in the casket, worried about the crowds of people, worried about questions she may have at the burial.
There were lots of questions; “Why is Grandpa sleeping?” “Why are his hands tied up?” [Rosary] “I thought Grandpa went to Heaven, why is he still here?” “Mom….IS THIS HEAVEN?”
As my two-year old ran around shouting ‘Wake Up Gam-pa!” My 4-year old pondered the concept of death. To her, people were crying because Grandpa was tied up in a box and no one could wake him up. To her, adults were sad because they missed a man who was actually right in front of them. To her, this man of faith, was simply sleeping because he was tired. To her, death was an easier concept then to most adults.
Bean wasn’t scared, she wasn’t worried. She wasn’t confused. She simply asked questions out loud and we as parents, hoped we had the right answers. A good friend put is perfectly when she said, “There is no fear in death but only an understanding of Heaven.” Perfectly stated if you ask me.
I learned that my child’s simplistic view on life is one we should adopt as adults. I learned that the way she was comprehending death was the same way Grandpa lived his life; in the moment. Bean woke the morning after Grandpa passed telling me she was angry because he went to Heaven before she could give him the card she had spent the afternoon crafting….I had not told her that Grandpa had died. The days following she woke with multiple dreams of Grandpa and short but vivid visits from a man she only got 4 years with.
Do not fear facing death with your child, but instead take away some of how they do it and apply it to your life.
Be childlike in your faith but mature in your thirst for an understanding and history of it.
Defend those you love with passion, courage and consistency and without reservation or fear.
Love deeply and without boundaries
Mourn those you lose without losing yourself
Find the ‘happy’ in any and all circumstances
You see, this opportunity to ‘face death’ and ‘teach’ my daughter about death was really about me, learning from her. It is not something to fear, but only a part of life. Eternal life.
Today is one of those days when I feel like I got parenting all wrong.
I lost my temper, a lot. I did enough yelling to make my voice hoarse.
I carried my son out of a store this morning, screaming in an under-arm, football hold. I didn’t leave the store as he started his tantrum, but instead, put into my cart what I came in for and held him under my arm, screaming and kicking, as I waited in line, paid and loaded the shopping cart.
I still had to run into the grocery store to get a few necessities….tantrum #2.
I continued through the store and tolerated not only my son’s screaming and kicking from the top seat of the cart, but I also endured the stares, nasty comments and pointing from onlookers. I walked as slow as I needed too, continued to check my list and compare it with the items now in the cart and head to the checkout lane. As we waited for the cashier to finish the customers purchase in front of me, I handed my 4 year old a bag on M & M candies. She had been an angel during this morning of torture brought on by her younger brother and deserved an unexpected treat.
Kicking and screaming, my son, continued as we loaded the car, buckled and drove home.
Upon arrival, I took off his shoes, kissed his face as he swatted at mine and told him he needed to rest. I placed him calmly and quietly into his bed, shut the light and closed the door.
A well-deserved silence followed.
A nice afternoon on our bikes, leaf pile jumping, playing with our dogs and in the neighbors hot tub and we headed home for dinner.
The tantrums ensued just in time for a bath and continued as I washed his body, his hair, put on a diaper and his pajamas. I combatted the pinching and the face smacking with a yell or a quick tap on the rear. Deservedly I think.
Instead of leaving him in the room this time I shut the door, left on the light and I sat on the floor; watching as his screaming continued. I didn’t try to talk to him, or to calm him down. I didn’t worry about how loud he was or how badly it was paining my eardrums. I sat and waited.
When he was ready, and not a second before, while still screaming, he made his way to me still criss-cross-applsause on his floor and he placed his arms around my neck. One big breath and he collapsed into my lap, eyes already closing and needing to rest.
I kissed his sweaty forehead and realized that through it all; the yelling, the punishment, the structure, the screaming, the kicking, the pinching… he still knew that I loved him. And that was a win for me.
You see, our kids may not always get the best of us as parents, but they deserve it every minute of every day. We all struggle and we all have those days when nothing seems to go right. We tend to beat ourselves up every time our child doesn’t measure up to ‘normal’ instead of celebrating how they are unique. My son is usually very easy-going, kind-hearted and loving….what did I do to make him so angry today? Our internal monologue only deepens the knife we used on ourselves.
But – It’s ok.
You see, in those moments when you think your child doesn’t deserve your love, is when they possibly need it the most. Be kind to yourself and take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one out there having THIS day. There are other parents burning the midnight oil because they need a moment alone after a long day or they simply like to revel in the quiet after bedtime.
No one ever said that being a parent is an easy job, in fact I most often hear the opposite. You can only do what You believe is right for your family and for your children.
Be thankful that you have each other. Period. No matter what kind of day it has been.
It was Christmas morning, Day 14 Post IUI and I was determined to deliver good news to myself and my husband on this day. I knew that I could get a false + if I took an at Home Pregnancy Test, especially because we took the HCG (trigger shot) injection, but after a trusty ‘google search,’ I decided it was worth the risk. It was 6:00am and although I had to squint, I finally saw that vertical line. I remember distinctly, placing my left hand over my dropped jaw and my eyes welled with tears as my stomach turned and heart skipped a beat.
It was positive.
I cannot explain to you the innate feeling you get when you want something or have wanted something for so long and it is finally right in front of you. The physiological reaction is inexplicable other than through emotional correlations such as happy, excited, terrified, nervous, shocked, scared, and in awe.
I had told my husband after we exchanged gifts that morning and he walked around all of Christmas Day checking on me more often than usual. His protective instincts kicked in immediately at the thought of being a father.
As with any fertility process we still needed to go for blood work on Day 16 post IUI and we did to confirm our already confirmed news. The blood test was also positive and we started to ‘settle down’ with the thought of becoming parents.
When receiving a positive pregnancy test via blood work they look at 2 specific numbers (among others of less importance). They look at Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG = the pregnancy hormone) as well as the Progesterone level (helps build and support lining of the uterus in order to sustain pregnancy after embryo attachment).
According to www.AmericanPregnancy.org there are a few important factors to keep in mind in regards to HCG levels in early pregnancy:
Key things to remember about hCG levels
In 85% of normal pregnancies, the hCG level will double every 48 – 72 hours. As you get further along in pregnancy and the hCG level gets higher, the time it takes to double can increase to about every 96 hours. Caution must be used in making too much of hCG numbers. A normal pregnancy may have low hCG levels and result in a perfectly healthy baby. The results from an ultrasound after 5 -6 weeks gestation are much more accurate than using hCG numbers.
An hCG level of less than 5mIU/ml is considered negative for pregnancy, and anything above 25mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy.
The hCG hormone is measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml).
A transvaginal ultrasound should be able to show at least a gestational sac once the hCG levels have reached between 1,000 – 2,000mIU/ml. Because levels can differentiate so much and conception dating can be wrong, a diagnosis should not be made by ultrasound findings until the hCG level has reached at least 2,000.
A single hCG reading is not enough information for most diagnoses. When there is a question regarding the health of the pregnancy, multiple testings of hCG done a couple of days apart give a more accurate assessment of the situation.
The hCG levels should not be used to date a pregnancy, since these numbers can vary so widely.
There are two common types of hCG tests. A qualitative hCG test detects if hCG is present in the blood. A quantitative hCG test (or beta hCG) measures the amount of hCG actually present in the blood.
Our first blood test revealed to have HCG levels within the normal range of 5 – 426 mIU/ml.We were roughly at 325 mIU/ml. It was December 27th.
As usual, we needed to return for More blood work in 4 days to confirm everything was going and growing normally. We wanted to see our HCG levels grow right along side our Progesterone levels. We had been directed by the Doctor to continue our ‘progesterone inserts’ as a precautionary measure, as there is no specific research to support or to disprove their ability to aid the progression of a pregnancy.
December 31 came quickly as we had company in town and were expecting about 40 people over that evening for a New Year’s Eve Party. I ran out of the house as early as possible as I didn’t want our family in town to question where I was headed. The last thing I needed was questions or gossip about a process no one knew we were going through.
A side note – with every listening ear, comes a running mouth. If you decide to be open about your fertility process then understand that you WILL be questioned. Even when you specifically ask family members to reserve conversation about it with you and only with you – you will discover that ‘they had questions’ and as a result went to people uninvolved in your life and rambled about your fertility problems to have them answered. Do not be fooled by the label of ‘family’ or ‘friend’ as with many of those that fall into this class there is NO respect for your privacy OR your pain. (Yes – I learned this lesson the hard way and am slighted because of this experience).
I went in as planned and expected a call later that day.
The lasagna was in the oven and my husband not yet home from work when the phone rang. I took the cell phone and ran into the garage, avoiding our house guests who were in the kitchen and TV room.
“I am afraid your numbers have dropped significantly since last week.”
Silence. You know that feeling when you know someone delivers bad news but you haven’t yet wrapped your brain around what it was they said. Sweaty palms, heart pounding, knees weak, vision blurry…..
“What does that even mean?” I was stunned at this awkward conversation and beginning to get angry at the poor Nurse Practitioner on the other line as if she was at fault for this in any way.
“It is not good news.” Pause. “We do not believe, at this time, that this is a viable pregnancy, due to where your levels have dropped too.” Pause. “We need you to come in for more blood work in 4 days.”
“Ok. Thank you.” I didn’t know what else to say….or what to do. So I hung up.
With my mind still racing and not knowing what to do, I called my mother who had struggled with fertility issues multiple times. When I relayed the news to her and she went momentarily silent and then started crying…..I knew all hope was gone.
Our baby was going to die. Before we get to meet her, see her or hear her heart beat she was going to die.
It was 3 hours before 40 guests showed up for New Years Eve and I had company upstairs that had no idea we were suffering from infertility or, at this point, miscarriage and I was more than overwhelmed. The level of emotional strain on my body was too much to handle all at once so I fell. I dropped onto the cold, damp, cement garage floor and I wept.
I wept for a time long enough for people to start wondering where I was. I wept till my stomach hurt and my eyes were puffy.
I watched the snow fall through the garage door window while I caught my breath and wept even more.
No one prepares you for what I was feeling. No one tells you that there was a higher chance of miscarriage when you use fertility drugs. No one tells you how bad it would hurt when you have the best news of your life taken back. No one tells you how bad it would hurt. No one tells you that you carry that lost baby with you emotionally forever. No one tells you that you would start to despise those around you who are pregnant.
What do they say? Everything you don’t want to hear; The Baby wasn’t strong enough. There was something wrong so your body got rid of it. It wasn’t meant to be. It will happen again. At least you know you CAN get pregnant.
I had, in my womb, a baby. Everything in my heart was telling me to protect my child and everything in my blood stream was telling doctors she was going to die. All we could do was wait.
Sometimes the path you have laid out for yourself is not the path He has chosen for you.
So, with the HSG gone and done with we waited. Again.
My Prince and I sat at Dr. O’s desk, just waiting for whatever news he had to give us this time. The results were in and he opened with a stinger: As a couple, and after reviewing both your files, I have determined that you have less then a 5% chance of conception without fertility assistance. Your diagnosis, ‘Unexplained Infertility.’
What the crap is ‘unexplained infertility?’ I thought we were here to figure out why we cannot conceive, not so you could tell us what we already figured out! I removed myself from an instinctual daydream in which I jumped over Dr. O’s desk, placed my hands around his neck and shook him violently as I yelled. Yoga breath in……….
He continued, “I suggest starting with a drug called Clomid. This is a very commonly used drug to treat female-related infertility and will help us in verifying that you are ovulating. There is about an 80% success rate in female ovulation with this treatment. We would also use an IUI or Intra-uterine insemination along side this treatment to increase your chances of conception.” He took a breath as he realized my Prince and I were silently staring at him…likely with fire balls coming out of our eyes. “Without treatment, you have less then a 5% chance of getting pregnant. A couple without any fertility issues has about 20% of conception every month and Clomid will give you about 10% chance. We have found that pairing the IUI with the Clomid increases those chances by about 5% more so you would be at about a 15% chance. “
I didn’t know if I wanted to hear any more. I wanted a 100% chance….a guarantee for a baby. I wanted to go home and forget this every happened, and wake up one day to two little lines and react with ‘oops’ instead of being in awe at a miracle. I wanted simplicity in life. Wanted my ducks in a row with no bumps in the road. I hate being a statistic.
I felt my Prince’s hand squeeze mine a little tighter then before in order to bring me back from my daydream sob-story. It did.
I wanted a baby; no matter how we got there.
We nodded at the Doctor, don’t remember uttering a single word actually. Got our papers, prescriptions and a cute little red folder from the office to keep all of our ‘fertility’ stuff in. Guess we are in it for the long haul now…..We picked up our little white pill the next day and reviewed the schedule of Day 3, 5, 7 internal ultrasounds and blood work, seman samples and impromptu HCG injections and ovulation testing. We began treatment as soon as we were allowed.
My husband and I didn’t tell anyone we were going through fertility treatments. We were still in the ‘ashamed’ stage of the process and I frankly didn’t want the continued questioning. It was bad enough I had family members who made assumptions of a pregnancy anytime I said ‘guess what.’ I wanted to protect our privacy from gossip, from conversation and from rehashing what we were going through as word spread. It was no one’s business – no matter what role you played in our family.
Just an aside – If You are going through a fertility process of any kind, please remember that you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation! Don’t be afraid to say ‘back off’ or ‘it is personal’ or ‘it is none of your freekin business.’ Sometimes people believe that because you have their last name, that everything you go through requires public disclosure. It does not. Do what is right for You and stop worrying about the consequences.
So let’s talk facts; the most common dosage of Clomid is 50 mg, taken for five days, on days 3 through 7 of your cycle, or days 5 through 9 of your cycle. (With day one of your cycle being the first day of real menstrual bleeding, and not just spotting.) The drug, though useful in treating some fertility issues does come with a LIST of side-effects:
Possible side effects of Clomid include:
Enlarged and tender ovaries (14%)
Hot flashes (11%)
Abdominal tenderness, due to enlarged and tender ovaries (7.4%)
Lets focus on the last one…MOOD SWINGS. Yup – they aint kidding! My poor Husband was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again – poor guy. I would cry when he stepped on and killed ants and laugh when he had a bad day at work….terrible……but a little hysterical looking back.
Well worth is all in the end I guess.
Month 1 – Clomid with IUI. Here goes nothing.
(Source on CLOMID – www.infertility.about.com “Clomid Treatment 101”)
Results? A Clean bill of health…..yup…..there was absolutely nothing in our samples that would lead the doctors to believe we would have trouble conceiving. So now what? I was even more frustrated at this point because I had no answers!
I am not getting pregnant and now they are telling me that I there is no reason for it! Do they think I am doing something wrong?
The Nurse on the phone continued politely and spoke softly, “Dr. O would prefer if you have what is called an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This test will show us if you a have a blockage in either of your tubes by injecting dye into your abdomen and taking an x-ray photo.”
She paused, obviously sensing that I was both terrified and frustrated. She spoke to break the silence, “Why don’t you talk to your husband and think in over tonight and if you decide to do it we will schedule in the morning. OK?”
A brief silence. “No. Schedule it now.” I was ready for anything they were going to throw my way as long as it meant we would have an answer as to why we did not have a family of our own.
The HSG, or hysterosalpingpgram, is a photograph (x-ray) of your abdomen to include your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the areas surrounding them.
There is a balloon placed in the cervix and inflated slightly in order to place the contract material through the narrow space and into the reproductive system. Once set up, x-rays are taken as the dye enters and travels through the fallopian tubes. This allows the scan to detect any blockages in fallopian tubes which could prevent travel of egg, travel of sperm to the egg or both. This scan can also help in detection of issues within the uterus which could hinder blastocyst implantation. The dye in this test is also sometimes used to clear small blockages that my exist. (Paraphrased from WebMD.com)
The day comes for the test and I get ‘admitted’ to the hospital. This is a necessary process for paperwork, but completely unnecessary for your anxiety level. They send you up to x-ray, give you a changing room behind a curtain and tell you that you must be stark naked before putting on your ‘gown.’ Now if I may say…a hospital ‘gown’ is the most poorly named article of clothing in all of history. Most definitely not “a long dress, typically having a close-fitting bodice and a flared or flowing skirt, worn on formal occasions” (oxforddictionaries.com).
ANYWAYS….I digress. I do as asked (there is a lot of that in fertility testing and infertility treatments; just doing as you are told to do).
I am walked into the x-ray room by an x-ray tech where we meet up with Dr. O. He is sitting in the corner of the room reviewing papers. God I hope those are not directions….
He explains the process, “Ok, I am going to have you lay on this table and place your legs in the stirrups.” I did so, without question at this point. He talked to himself more than he did me at this point and every now and then when I thought a direction was meant to be heard; I followed.
The balloon catheter went in and he stopped, “ok, now I am going to blow some air into the balloon and dilate your cervix. This will allow me to get the larger catheter through in order to inject the dye. I need you to tell me once the level of dilation get uncomfortable so that I can stop. Ok?” I nodded.
TIP: Don’t try to be a hero in infertility. If the doctor tells you to say STOP once you are uncomfortable than DO IT! Don’t try to bite the bullet and let him get your cervix open enough to deliver a child and then say STOP. I WISH someone was there to give me this advice…
I waited too long before saying STOP and I was in more pain then I had felt in longer then I can remember. Dr. O reached over to the button under the x-ray bed to get it to move up and in position for the x-rays. There was a click and Nothing. The bed was broken. The Doctor looked up at me with fear in his eyes and after he spoke I realized why, ‘uhm, I am going to need you to lift yourself and scoot up higher on the table so I can get the right angle on the x-rays.
So, cervix artificially dilated, speculum in place, catheter hanging, in a glorious hospital gown which was now lifted over the waistline baring everything I wanted to hide and in massive pain…I did as asked and without protest or complaint.
In 30 seconds it was over. The, dye injected, x-rays taken and balloon deflated and withdrawn. One deep, yoga-breath later, Dr. O was gone and the x-ray tech was back to make sure I didn’t pass out as I sat up.
“Everything looked good from what I saw,” she said kind while she waited for the color to come back to my cheeks. I smiled at her, but didn’t have the energy to speak.
I went behind my curtain down the corridor, changed into public appropriate attire and headed home. I waited. I waited for a reason why I didn’t have a baby yet. I waited to find out what was wrong with me. I waited for what I thought was the answer I was actually searching for.
In infertility, you want nothing more than answers and reasons for why you are facing what you do, but something the journey teaches you more about yourself and your partner. It will grow you together or grow you apart. Force it to grow you together. The journey is not easy and you will need each other.
Doctor O said “Ok, we will need samples from both of you before you go home today so that we might have a baseline. This will allow us to compare results from future samples as well as let us know if there is something hormonally abnormal for you [Me].” My Prince and I nodded and said our good-byes with standard hand-shakes. With wide-eyes in anxiety we headed to the lab (which was actually within the same office).
I sat in the chair of torture, reminding myself of that time in High School when I passed out getting routine blood work. I smile, facetiously as I felt my heart begin to beat harder with fear of history repeating itself. I HATE needles….but I knew it was a necessary part, for US, towards becoming a family. I offered my left arm, with the good vein, and found my Husbands eyes to distract me. She poked…..
“Hum…” The plebotomist shrugged as she pulled out the needle, “I really thought I had you there.” She looked up at my face as an apology, “I am going to have to stick you again. Sorry Hun.”
My mind immediately went into a fury. Hon? What the crap is that, some kind of an apology? Does she not understand that we are here because we cannot conceive on our own? A little freekin sympathy would be nice!
AN ASIDE: What is difficult to understand about getting and going through fertility assistance of any kind, is that there is instant shame in those experiencing it. There is some kind of unexplainable embarrassment for couples who cannot do things the ‘normal’ way and it makes us extremely defensive over everything.
“Hey,” My Prince whispered as he lifted my chin back towards his gaze as a distraction. Then he silently mouthed ‘relax’ with a half-grin. I listened.
Baseline testing for fertility requires a number of very specific tests. I will try not to go into too much detail as the risk of boring you, however, I believe it is important to know some of this stuff.
FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps to control a woman’s menstrual cycle and more specifically the production of eggs.
Estradiol – This is an important form of estrogen and it measures a woman’s ovarian function and helps in the evaluation of the quality of eggs the woman will likely release during this cycle.
Luteinizing Hormone Level – (LH) This hormone is linked to ovarian hormone production and egg maturation. The LH test measures woman’s reserve (egg supply).
Serum Progesterone – Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. It causes the endometrial lining of the uterus to get thicker, making it receptive for a fertilized egg. A serum progesterone test is used to determine if ovulation is occurring.
Prolactin – The hormone prolactin is made by the pituitary gland and causes milk production. This test is done to find out why woman are not menstruating, or why they are having infertility problems.
Androgen – Testosterone is probably the most well know androgen and it affects function of both men in woman in the conception process. For woman this test is used to determine the cause of irregular periods or a low libido.
(Paraphrased from www.fertilityauthority.com)
After a third poke and 12 vials of blood, I was finished. I took a deep cleansing breath and sat up. My husband took the seat of torture. I spoke as an effort to convince myself I was not going to pass out, “Your turn for torture!” I pointed at him like a gossipy teenage girl. The plebotomist turn to us “Oh no. I am sorry they were not more clear. They do not need a blood sample from you, they need a specimen sample.” My husband and I looked at each other in confusion and then back to the now red-in-the-face young girl. “They need a Sperm sample.”
My naïve mind pictured how the heck they were going to get that and I felt my head tilt to the right as my eyebrows scrunched together. The young woman, whom we would get to know very quickly as Elizabeth, pointed down the hall from which we had just walked. “I will get someone to take you.”
My husband and I joined hands, sweaty palms and followed the Nurse Practitioner. I felt more like I was walking the Green Mile then I did a Doctors Office. She stopped in front of a door with a window, bordered by dark brown faux-wood, vinyl blinds closed. She placed a sterile cup on the counter with a brown paper bag and started her rehearsed speech as she pointed throughout the room like a seasoned flight attendant.
“There are magazines in the lower cabinet as well as videos in the upper cabinet. Please be sure to fill this form our completely so that you can turn it in with your samples today. You can turn it in at the checkout counter.” She left the dungeon without a salutation.
My Prince and I looked around the room in disbelief. There was an IKEA made brown ‘leather’ love seat in the corner of the room nestled next to a small end table with a Walmart-priced lamp. In the corner, between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ cabinets there was a stainless steel sink with a hospital grade paper towel dispenser. The focal point if the room however, was the chair in the center of the room…..looked like a dentist chair more than some kind of chair which would make one feel more ‘at home’ for what we were required to do in here. My eyes glanced towards the door imagining myself abandoning my husband, but my gaze caught some sort of religious statue on the table next to my escape route……I guess to pay our pennants for what we were asked to do in this dungeon of shame.
We looked at one another and just started laughing….seriously, if you cannot find the humor in all of it, then what were we going to do?
My husband and I did as asked, walked the hall of shame to drop off our brown paper bag, placed on our sunglasses and bowed our heads as we exited the lobby.
I wept in the car from sheer embarrassment…..for some reason my husband seemed very proud.
We wait for a phone call.
PS There is a lot of waiting in fertility testing and fertility treatments. Get used to it.
Upcoming Blog Post: Fertility Testing for the Ladies
We are starting a segment on this blog in the coming weeks called ‘Everything no one tells you.’
It will start with a segment on conception; the truth, insane as it may be, on what we do and do not truly know about the conception, growth and birth of a baby. It will then move into Everything No One Tells You about Pregnancy and Birth. We will laugh as fellow mothers, cry as friends in loss and rejoice in holding our children for the very first time.
It will walk you through a 7 year journey to parenthood. A mother’s first pregnancy loss as well as first successful pregnancy and birth. You will endure the physical and emotional struggle with her as she journals the events.
The Blog is going to cover what no one tells you about these events in life, both medical and emotional as well as open your eyes to the honest, and yet sometimes raw, truths about becoming a parent.
Please share with anyone you know who is struggling to get pregnant, or maybe a friend who just suffered a miscarriage because we will work our way through these events in laughter, tears and joy. Healing is on the horizon my friends!
So Bean and I went through a number of different types of carriers and had found a few temporary solutions, but nothing permanent. It was back to the books – and the Dr. Sears Baby Book Bible for me. He discussed an adjustable carrier called a ‘Ring Sling.’ It sounded more to me like something for a broken limb, but after some research I would discover different. At first, I was reminded of the Standard/Non-adjustable sling that I tried for free, which was unsuccessful (www.sevenslings.com), but the more I read about this Ring Sling carrier the more I wanted to try it. First, a Bing search; Mya Wrap, Bibetts, pure cotton, linen, quick-dry etc etc. I was already overwhelmed with the choices. I elected to start with name-brand carriers since I had little knowledge of this style. I got Girasol, FrogMomma, Mya Wrap, and more and although I was learning more about the Ring Sling style, I was becoming very overwhelmed with the pricing….most were almost $100 and many were more then $50. I had already spent more then this on my Ergo and that was a failed attempt. I was so discouraged…and tired…because it had been days since I had worn Bean and she was back to her 2 hour feeding intervals. On a whim, I did an internet search for “DIY Ring Slings” and came across a number of YouTube videos! I have never had formal training in sewing as I was more if a ‘learn-as-you-g0’ type gal. I was however, willing to give this a try. My journey to JoAnns Fabric (TM) was that same morning and I stood in every isle, inspecting every bolt of fabric for touch, stretch and quality, finally selecting a Flannel Giraffe print; stylish and cute. I then went over to the crafting section to look for my rings….what would a ring sling be without rings? I found a 3″ wide pair of unstained wood rings and grabbed them. I felt as though the wood would be strong enough for hold and the unstained wood, would be the healthier choice if Bean ever decided to use them as a chew toy. After cuts, mistakes, re-stitching, measuring and stitching yet again….and again…..I had finished it. My first Ring Sling….I was ugly, but I was confident this would work. I ran upstairs, where Bean was screaming to be fed and after her routine, 40 minute feeding, I tried getting her into it……FAIL. I may have been able to sew this sucker together but it was a whole new monster to thread it and get her into it….Back to YouTube. After a little ‘research’ and I only use that term loosely, because I don’t know how credible many YouTube videos actually are, I figured it out. In two rings and out one….threaded. I pulled the tail of the fabric tight enough so Bean would sit right at chest-level and I could easily pull the tail again to adjust. We stood over the bed as recommended in one of the videos….just in case. Bean was in…..tail pulled……fabric tucked under her rear-end and face/nose clear from fabric for oxygen. Check. Check. Check. She was quiet as I tried desperately to adjust the Sling so that she sit more taut against my body. Then….a crack. At first I thought it was the hardwood floors because Lord knows they are squeaky in the Winter…but then I felt Bean’s body pull from mine. CRACK! as I pulled the sling taut again. I was lucky enough to have had my left hand under her rear end when the wooden purse handles snapped in half from the ‘all of 15lbs’ my daughter weighed. They broke, she almost fell and I was back to square one. I believed in this style Sling. I just needed the right tools. So after more research, I found accompany that made Rings specifically for Slings and took a risk ordering a few pair. Best risk I ever took. The rings were a success, as were the 4 more Ring Slings I made that week. I became a Master Threader, could get my child into it without thinking through the process and never had another ‘sling break’ again. She could sit at my chest, with her ear over my heart. I could cover her head with excess fabric in order to keep strange people from rubbing her hair. As she gained head control I was able to sit her on my hip and she could see the world as I carried her. She LOVED it! I mean I think she actually preferred the Sling over her own mother….lol. She was sleeping better and consistently fed in a minimum of 3 hour intervals (this was success for us). I thought to myself….there HAS to be other mothers out there who have dealt with situations like mine! I cannot possible be the only one going through these kinds of struggles! There in lies the birth of Flip & Bean LLC (formally called Slings and Things). I started a small, home-based business which targeted the idea that a good quality Ring Sling should be available to all parents and at an affordable price. I joined the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and read everything I could find of safety, quality affordability and market for Ring Slings and launched a small Etsy shop. It took me almost 6 months to sell my first Ring Sling, but after that, there was no turning back. We are a 100% word-of-mouth, family and faith based business that I run out of my own home. In under 2 years we have gone from selling Ring Slings to becoming a full fledged LLC and now offer not only carriers. but Patent Pending Carrier Covers! (Kiddie Kloak line). Last fall we also launched our personal URL! (www.flipandbean.com) SOOOOOOO….in order to celebrate our LOVE for baby-wearing and our LOVE for the Ring SLING we want to share the LOVE with YOU!!!!!! After visiting our website www.flipandbean.com and tell me your favorite pattern of Signature Ring Slings…..I will pick a comment at random and GIVE ONE AWAY for FREE!!!!!! You have all day to comment and first thing Sunday February 15th, EST (when I get up) I will select one of you, at random, to received the free sling that you selected – FOR FREE! Thank you for following us, supporting small business and a working SAHM and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! -From Flip & Bean!