Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Am I old or young?

I’m roughly 6 months from my 34th birthday.  In the grand scheme of things this really isn’t all that old.  I’m too young for health conditions that traditionally affect the older set.  Things like heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

But when it comes to having children, the age issue becomes murky, especially for women.  Biologically, women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have in their reproductive lifetime.  When the eggs run out, the show’s over and menopause starts.  Men on the other hand make sperm until they die.
For women it’s even more interesting.  Our eggs age and once you’re a certain age, you start to worry about things like egg quality (which isn’t stamped somewhere – there’s no set Use by Date); and terms like Advanced Maternal age start being thrown around.

My official diagnosis is Diminished Ovarian Reserve.  It was explained to me that this meant I was aging reproductively faster than the norm.  My egg quality, the Use by Date, was approaching faster than it should.  I still have questions of my own about this condition.  I’ve yet to get clarity on whether or not this means I’ll hit menopause earlier.

But it definitely means time is against me.  Since my last cycle I am now a little more than 3 years older.  Health wise I am 35 pounds lighter and relatively fit.  But will it be enough?  I hope so and for my sake (as well as my husband’s) I hope my Use by Date is still many years away.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why start a blog now?

Our journey through fertility treatments and finally through IVF was kept very private for a variety of reasons.  I was young and maybe a little sad that someone in my age group had to go through this.  After all, I was only 27 when I did my first IVF cycle, and even younger when I started the process.   And perhaps I felt ashamed; there can be a stigma attached to fertility treatments – real or perceived.

The big reason?  We just didn’t want to answer a lot of questions.  Fertility treatments are painful enough as it is without everyone asking a ton of questions.  We were struggling with many of those questions ourselves and quite frankly didn’t have a lot of the answers.  Plus I didn’t want to deal with all those well-meaning people who would say things like:
“What if it’s twins, triplets, etc?”  (I was just trying to get pregnant with one; not worry about anything else.)

“Well Octomom just had 8!  Could that happen to you?”  (Thanks Octomom for giving fertility treatments a dirty name.)

“Why not adopt?”  (I have no problem with adoption at all; it is a very loving and generous thing to do, but it takes a very special kind of person to open their hearts and lives in that process and I knew I wasn’t that person.)
“If you just relax it’ll happen!” and many other varieties of “If you just….” followed by some other well-meaning advice.

“Are you pregnant yet?”
“Well so and so did ____ and they were able to get pregnant.  Why don’t you do that?”

And so on.  I just couldn’t deal with that.  I was dealing with my own stages of grief.  Really that’s what fertility treatments come down to for a lot of people.  I was angry, very angry.  Why me?  Why is it the teen mom and not me?  Why is it the crack head parent with three other children to support and not me?  So many why’s.  So many prayers for a baby.  Then it shifted to praying not for a baby, but praying for understanding.  I had to make peace with the fact that for some reason God needed me to go through this.

It was much easier to open up for our second cycle, but I still wasn’t comfortable with everyone in my life knowing I was doing this.  I just wanted to complete my family and move on with my life.

Now I get it.  This is why God needed me to go through this and why I needed to start a blog.  To help other people; to share my experiences in the hopes that it will make it easier for someone else that’s struggling; to provide understanding to those that never have or will never have to go through this.  And hopefully to help me find that missing piece...
Note to my readers: After my next blog post I will be answering common IVF questions!  Please post in the comments or send me a message of your questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Putting the cart before the horse

I'm a planner and an organizer.  Sometimes this means I get ahead of myself in planning things.

I'm already worrying about how we'll set up the bedrooms for the new baby.  There's no question that my house can hold another child.  Heck, my grandparents raised a large family here, much larger than my current family size or potential future family size. 

Do my boys double up and we keep our guest room?  It sounds kind of selfish really since the plan recently has been to turn that room into a library to house my book addiction.  Even more so because the boys are used to having their own space.  I even started thinking about how I would arrange the beds to maximize space for the two of them.

Or do they each get a room and we just shift them around?  Really this makes the most sense.  Everyone will have their own space.  The library dream goes on hold once again, which is hard to swallow because I finally got to see the dream start to take shape when Kurt's cousin designed this absolutely amazing space.  His design was everything I always wanted.

And back to the twins worry.  We've gotten lucky so far in that we've just had singleton pregnancies.  Sam's cycle I had 3 embryos put in, and with Zach's I had two put in.  We dodged that bullet twice.  Will we be able to dodge it again?  The bedroom issue gets even more complicated.

I'm also worrying about my car.  I just bought my car, brand new off the lot, in October 2010.  It's gorgeous, I love it, and it seems to have just the right amount of room for what we need to do.  If we are lucky enough to add another child, to find our missing piece, then things get tight, very tight.  This kind of thing frustrates my husband since we seem to keep car jumping.  The last 3 vehicles we've owned we've only owned for 2 years or less.  It's hard to get ahead on car payments when the vehicle keeps changing.

But the things that excite me about planning this time?  I'm thinking about the baby equipment we'll need.  A new crib is definitely in order.  I definitely got my money's worth out of my old one.  Plus a few other things that we would need.  And Lord help me if it's a girl!   I don't think my budget could handle all the things I would want to buy.

Is all this planning and thinking a positive thing?  Maybe.

Or maybe I'm just putting the cart in front of the horse....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anxiety here we come

Today's worries?  Surprisingly not the money; that's actually the easy part.  What if it's twins?  I've been lucky so far to just have one implant.  Or what if it doesn't work this time? I've been lucky that my two full cycles were successful. 

Not sure how I would feel or what I would do if either of these things occur.

A few people have also asked me if I am going to do gender selection to get a girl.  My answer is always two parts:  1) I don't think my clinic even offers that; and 2) I feel like that's just too close to the line of playing God.  I got lucky to have two healthy boys; would I be trading that for something else just to get my girl?  I admit that it would be nice to have a girl.  I'm currently the only female in my household.  But I'm not willing to press my luck; I just want to find that missing piece.

How we got here

I am an IVF survivor.  It feels good and sad to say that all at once.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  I married my Prince Charming, we were supposed to have the typical family and ride off into the sunset.

Instead we spent years on fertility treatments, beginning in 2003, and finally ending with our first completed IVF cycle in January 2006, resulting in our beautiful son, Samuel, born October 2006.

His first baby picture:

After he was born, we decided to let Mother Nature decide our path.  After a year of staying that course, we took a break from it, and then, realizing that we needed to again take matters into our own hands, we went again.  Somehow it was easier the second time around.  I was sad that I needed to do this again, but wanted to add to my family.  So in January 2009 we completed our second IVF cycle, and our second son, Zachary, was born October 2009.

I swore I was done.  I said no more IVF.  I thought I couldn't do it again -- financially, but more importantly, emotionally.   IVF drains you, tests your will and fortitude, and makes you feel like a pincushion.  I had an IUD put in and focused on raising my family.  My boys' health needs came first (both of them have multiple food allergies) and it was clear that at least Samuel would need educational intervention.  After two years with the IUD, we agreed to give Mother Nature another crack at it.  What harm could it be?  We said two years max and then we would accept whatever our family shape was at that time.  I began to make plans to go back to school and work.

But somehow something was missing.  Like someone that was supposed to be in our family but wasn't.  It was clear from the start that Mother Nature wasn't going to cooperate so here we are again; taking matters into our own hands, hoping to find the missing piece to our puzzle.