Our Patient Love

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Our Patient Love

One couple's journey through infertility

8 things worth knowing about infertility

02/12/2013

Amanda and I have talked a lot about our “journey through infertility” already, but I guess we’ve never really discussed what exactly infertility is. So, being the research nerd that I am, I thought I’d give some background infertility.

1) Infertility is a disease.

For starters, infertility is officially recognized by the World Health Organization, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as a disease that results in the abnormal functionality of the reproductive system. It’s not simply just an inconvenience. It’s a diagnosable, and more importantly, treatable condition.

2) In the United States, infertility means not achieving pregnancy after one year of trying.

In most other countries though, this is regarded after two years. Additionally, if the woman is over 35, doctors will usually diagnose infertility after only 6 months. Women who can get pregnant but fail to carry give live birth are also sometimes considered infertile.

We started trying to grow our family in August of 2010, so we’ve been at this for well over 2 years. We’re well beyond the threshold of infertility, by any standard.

3) Infertility can be broken down into two basic types: primary, and secondary infertility.

Primary infertility is when a couple has never successfully gotten pregnant or given live birth. In my research, this seems to account for about half of all infertility cases.

Secondary infertility is the term given when a couple has successfully given birth previously, but can no longer achieve pregnancy after a year or more of trying.

Since we don’t have kids yet, we’re dealing with primary infertility.

4) Couples dealing with secondary infertility are usually much less likely to seek treatment.

This is probably due to the fact that having one or more children already, a couple assumes fertility isn’t an issue for them. However factors like age, physical damage or internal scaring, hormonal changes, decreased sperm production, and endometriosis can all influence a couple’s fertility, regardless of previous pregnancies.

If you are having difficulty getting pregnant after previously having children, don’t be afraid to seek professional treatment from a fertility specialist!

5) Infertility affects about 9-15% of the US population.

A study from the CDC performed between 2006-2010 found somewhere around 6.1 million women in the United States between the ages of 14 and 44 were infertile. That equals out to about 1 in 10 women in the US! That’s about the same percentage as those who are left handed.

6) Infertility affects men and women about the same.

Most studies have shown that about 33% of infertility cases can be attributed to the male partner, and about 33% to the female partner. The remaining cases are usually either a combination of factors from both partners, or due to unknown reasons.

We fall into the category of unexplained infertility, which is somewhere around 5% of all cases.

7) Most cases of infertility are treated with drug or hormone therapy.

Depending on the testing results, different treatment options can be determined by the fertility specialist. In 80-90% of cases though, the main method of treatment is either surgery, or using a fertility drug like Clomiphene (also known as Clomid). Clomid is an oral medication taken by the woman in order to stimulate ovulation. In certain cases, more potent fertility drugs like Pergonal, Metrodin, Humegon, or Fertinex could be prescribed.

Surgery to repair the woman’s ovaries, uterus, or fallopian tubes is also sometimes considered if the doctors think fertility could be restored.

Only a small percentage of cases (somwhere around 3-10%) result in using assistive reproductive technologies like intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Since we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility (all our tests came back normal), the doctors decided to start with a conservative approach by trying several rounds of IUI. Since we had no luck after 4 attempts, we’ve moved on to IVF.

8) Fertile couples only have a 25-30% chance of getting pregnant any given month.

If you really think about the number of steps that have to happen in order to achieve pregnancy, you’ll realize it’s amazing pregnancy happens as often as it does! In a general sense, here’s what has to happen:

  • A women’s ovary must release a viable egg.
  • That egg must successfully travel down the fallopian tube towards the uterus.
  • A man’s sperm must successfully survive long enough in the woman’s body to find and fertilize the egg.
  • The fertilized egg must successfully attach to the lining of the uterus.

Obviously, a problem with any of these steps can result in missed pregnancies and/or infertility.


Keep in mind, Amanda and I are not medical professionals by any means. This post is simply intended as a general, informative resource to educate you on some aspects of infertility I found interesting. If you or someone you know is struggling to get pregnant, I urge you to seek professional treatment!

And finally, here’s a list of resources I found helpful when researching this topic:

 

Sign for Fertility and IVF Center

Flashback Friday: Hysterosalpingawhat?

02/08/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.


The journey of infertility is filled with conflicting emotions. First, I felt relieved that all my blood work came back normal. Yet, I was almost hoping it was a hormonal issue. If some level was off, it most likely could be treated with meds, either pills or even shots. So, after our first appointment I was happy, but almost disappointed, and of course worried.

I’m a worrier, I’ll admit it. I especially worry about the unknown. Will I make it through the budget cuts at work? Will I lose another family member to health complications? Will we have children? This worry extends even to simple medical procedures. I hate not knowing what is going to happen, which is ironic because I love surprises. But I didn’t want a medical surprise. So I was very curious when the nurse practitioner said that I would need to have a hysterosalpingogram (also known as an HSG test). I had never heard of this procedure and honestly I still have trouble pronouncing it.  I think it’s pronounced his-tro-sal-PING-o-gram. I had to look it up to check the spelling when writing this post!

The nurse said that the procedure is needed to check if there is any blockage in my fallopian tubes. This test would indicate if I had a clear pathway to my ovaries. The procedure basically would include having a catheter inserted into my uterus. They would inject a dye into the catheter and the radiologist would watch the flow on a real time X-Ray machine. The dye was supposed to easily travel from my uterus up to my ovaries. Obviously if the dye had trouble at any spot it would suggest possible blockage.

The test would be done at our local medical center. I had an early afternoon appointment, but I had to go to the fertility center in the morning for a blood test to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before being exposed to radiation (which I thought was ironic because why did they think I was having the test done in the first place?). So I went for my blood test at 7:30 am, went to work from 8:00 – 12:00 (sadly missed a potluck day at work) and left for the medical center.

I arrived at Memorial Medical Center and checked in. Dan met me in the radiology wing. As soon as we arrived in the waiting room, we were informed we needed to call the fertility center ASAP. They needed to get in touch with us about the blood test from earlier that morning but couldn’t reach either of our cell phones. I think this was because we were in the middle of a gigantic concrete building.

I remember franticly running around some corridors in the radiology wing trying to find a strong enough signal in order to call the fertility center back. I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember thinking “Could it be? Could I be pregnant?!”

Finally, Dan and I had to make our way back to the lobby of Memorial, and were able to get a direct line into the SIU Fertility Center across the street. As it turns out, they only wanted to know if I had eaten anything before my blood test that morning. Apparently one of the hormone levels had come back lower than expected, and they wanted to seek clarification on the issue before things proceeded in the radiology department.

So, no. I wasn’t pregnant. Again.

We made our way back to the waiting room, where finally my name was called. I went in and followed the nurses directions. I went to an exam room and met a very nice nurse. I remember being very nervous. The room seemed so big with a little table to lie on and large x-ray machines looming around the room. Well, to spare the graphic details, it was not a pleasant procedure. The doctor couldn’t get the catheter in the first time so I had to endure some extra pain.

There was a tv screen I could watch the dye go through me. I couldn’t really tell what everything was, but noticed the doctor wasn’t seeing what he wanted. In fact, he almost gave up because there was no flow outside my uterus at all, all the dye was pooling in there. The nurse encouraged him to give it time and keep trying. Finally, some of the dye moved through one of the tubes. Succes! The procedure was finished, but the worst part was still to come.

The radiologist gave me his diagnosis with me still lying on the table, the doctor told me he didn’t see adequate flow. He couldn’t confirm I had blockage, because this test is only an indicated the possibility of a problem. But, he recommended looking into the matter further because according to this test, blockage of my tubes was likely.

Although this isn’t necessarily what the radiologist was saying, what I heard during the his evaluation was I had blockage and I wouldn’t be able to have kids. This was shocking to me. I was nervous about the procedure and hadn’t even considered the possibility the test would show an abnormality. I was not comforted by radiologist’s bedside manner. I remember tearing up and crying because I thought he was telling me we wouldn’t be able to conceive.

This was a hard moment in our journey. I was alone, in a big room lying on a table in a hospital gown hearing I wouldn’t be able to biologically have kids. I felt vulnerable and raw. The nurse comforted me the best she could. She told me that he was making it sound worse than it was. She said I should trust his diagnosis, but reminded me that the dye eventually did make it to the ovaries. Also, she reminded me that sometimes having this procedure removes the blockage and that in certain circumstances the blockage could be surgically removed if need be.

This sweet nurse did give me hope. If this was our problem, there were several options to remedy the situation. So, in the end I again felt disappointed, mixed with a hint of relief, and of course worry.

After meeting with our fertility specialist for the first time, we reviewed the results of my HSG test. Dr. Loret de Mola told us further testing would need to be done to confirm if I had any blockage. So, one medical procedure was complete but we had many more ahead.

Women's Bathroom sign

Crying In The Bathroom Stall

02/04/2013

I wouldn’t say I’m a super emotional person, but I do get teary eyed during a good movie, a heartfelt commercial, or when I read a sad story. In fact my life up to this point has provided me several opportunities to cry…my parents divorce, a broken heart from a boyfriend, my mother and mother-in-law’s death. I of course cried over all of those, especially the loss of my mothers, but our journey with infertility induced more crying sessions than I like to admit.

I always tease Dan that I think I’ve handled our situation fairly well, that he could be walking into more moments of me curled up on the couch or bed crying. But in reality when I reflect back on the last couple of years I’ve had several breakdowns. Most are not huge sobbing sessions, but weak minutes that I let our situation get the best of me.

Most of the weak moments occurred during that “special” time of the month. Ladies you know what I’m talking about. Having your period is not fun at any time.

You feel miserable. You’re more emotional than normal. You can’t wait for the week to be over and no matter how much Midol you take it doesn’t fully dull the pain.

But starting your period when your struggling with infertility is some of the worse times I’ve experienced in my life.

Early on in our journey to become parents I used to buy pregnancy tests. I would buy the package that came with a bonus test so I could “save money.” If you didn’t know pregnancy tests are expensive. One test is like $7 to $10 bucks, and it’s not like you can use it again.

Anyway, I was so excited to buy them during the early months of trying. I would always use the test a few days before my period which was well within the time frame the box always claimed…”the only test that tells you 6 days before your missed period.” The first couple of months when the test came back negative I was disheartened, but not devastated. I knew it might take awhile to get pregnant. But each month when another test came back negative little tears started running.

Eventually I got to the point of letting my body tell me if I was pregnant or not. I stopped buying the tests. I was always tempted too, but I didn’t want to waste the money. Also, if I didn’t find out it was negative a few days early, I had a more time to hope for a missed period. But the cramps always came, along with the period.

Most of the early months I was only finding out we weren’t pregnant at home in our bathroom. I’d take the test and only see one line or a minus sign. But that changed after I stopped using the tests. My period didn’t care where I was, it came when it wanted.

So I ended up not just crying in our bathroom. I’ve cried in my school’s bathroom stall. I’ve cried at a friend’s house. I’ve cried in a bathroom stall at a baseball game. I’ve cried in a variety of bathroom stalls because my period didn’t care where I was. I didn’t have the luxury or the privacy of my own bathroom or the ability to get a hug from Dan after all the times I found out we weren’t pregnant.

I always told Dan that having my period is the hardest reminder that we are infertile. It’s hard enough to see babies on tv or pregnant women all over Springfield, but you can work on ignoring all those reminders throughout the month. But you can’t ignore your period. I can’t forget I’m infertile when I feel each cramp. Every period I’ve had in the last two-plus years has been a bitter reminder that I haven’t been able to conceive a child. It’s a physical sign that everything is working, but it’s not. I’ve hated my period more because it has caused me to confront the deep pain that something is broken.

I’m getting teary eyed writing this (I guess I am an emotional person, more than I like to admit), because I feel my words aren’t doing justice to the hurt I’ve felt each month. But this is where I have to trust God. There isn’t any other comfort available. I have to believe that he has held every tear I’ve cried in HIs hand. That my crying sessions haven’t been wasted or even forgotten. That the Lord has cried with me in the bathroom stall.

PS: This post was inspired by a similar chapter called “On Crying in the Bathroom” from the book Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.

 

Flashback Friday: Our First Appointment

02/01/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.


Although I’m glad Amanda’s gynecologist referred us to a fertility specialist, it was kind of defeating too. By doing so, we were acknowledging that something wasn’t working between us.

We faced temptation to not schedule an appointment at all and just keep trying naturally. To rationalize our situation, we kept telling each other things like:

“Maybe if we just try a few more times this month, we’ll get lucky and we won’t have to get help.”

“Maybe we just need to relax and take a vacation. Everything will work fine once we’re away from stress. If it works, then we won’t need to get help.”

“Maybe our diet is preventing it. Let’s eliminate our caffeine consumption for starters. Yeah, that’s got to be the cause of it. Two or three weeks with no caffeine, and we’ll surely get a baby. Obviously if we get a pregnant, we won’t need to go get help then.”

“If we don’t need to get help, there’s not really a problem.”

You can see how quickly that can lead to denial. And well, nothing good ever happens with denial. Especially if you also switch to decaf coffee.

Thankfully though, we made a resolve to seek professional help. And we had to follow through. It was time to get this show started.

We attended the first appointment together with nervous anticipation. We scouted out the building ahead of time, and made sure to get there early. The IVF and Fertility Center is located in the basement of a large annexed building off a major hospital in Springfield, tucked away from most of the activity so our arrival was fairly anonymous. It wasn’t embarrassing or awkward at all.

Amanda remembers being a little nervous for our appointment. Nervous because she didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if they would be doing any tests (needles are often on her mind, especially at the doctor’s office), so I tried to reassure her nothing bad was going to happen. I told her this was just a meet and greet to formally begin the process. No poking or probing, prodding was happening this time, I told her.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. One of the first steps in diagnosing infertility is a basic blood panel. We both had to give multiple vials of blood right off the bat. I remember being curious as to what all they were testing for, and anxious to see the results.

Soon we found ourselves in a quiet little office, talking with a friendly nurse practitioner who basically did a health history interview with additional questions related to our problem. She went over things with us like what kind of treatment options are available, statistics for couples our age, and a general overview of what can cause infertility in the first place. Then, she informed us we’d be meeting with a urologist.

A few minutes later, in walked Dr. Köhler. He introduced himself, asked a few questions about us, and then asked me to drop my trousers so he could have a look around.

“What? Now?” I asked in somewhat of a shock. Keep in mind, this was not an examination room. There was no examination table, or bottles of cotton swabs and tongue depressors, or a blood pressure cuff. This seemed like just a regular office where regular things happen very regularly.

Nonetheless, the next thing I knew my pants and boxers were around my ankles, and I heard the unmistakable sound of a rubber glove snapping against someones wrist.

The doctor inspected me for testicular cancer, which thankfully he found no evidence of. Also, he was looking for any irregularities or abnormalities in my manly bits. I’m happy to say he found nothing out of the ordinary.

That is, until we got to the last part of my examination. He had me tense all of my abdominal muscles as if I were lifting something very heavy (similar to something called a Valsalva maneuver), all the while he was feeling the back side of my undercarriage for abnormal movement or pressure.

“I’m looking for a condition called a varicocele, which you don’t seem to…oh…wait…yeah I felt an impulse. It looks like you have the beginnings of one. I’m calling it a Grade I Varicocele.

Basically, he found that I have a small weakening of some valves in one of the veins near my testicles. I know, I know. That might be a bit too much info. I’m sorry. But it’s essentially the same thing as varicose veins which are quite common in the legs.

At the time we thought this was a contributing factor to our infertility, as men with varicoceles are generally much less fertile than men without them. Dr. Köhler informed us that in cases of Grade II or III, he could recommend minor surgery to correct the problem, but in our case it probably wasn’t necessary yet.

Honestly, that was more news than I expected. We were both shocked that there was even something physically wrong to begin with. But, at the same time we were a bit relieved to learn it was treatable, and that we had found something that could be influencing our fertility so quickly.

For me, there was one last bit of business to take care of. The doctors wanted to see my sperm’s quality, and unfortunately there was only one way to accomplish this. I had to give up a sample.

Thankfully, that room was private.

Dr. Köhler explained that the numbers from that test could possible come back low, so I was most likely coming back two or three more times to get a good baseline of my sperm count, motility levels, and overall quality. I don’t recall at this point how many times I had to go back to the office and give sperm samples. But, I can say that I’m quite familiar with the procedure at this point and I know the embryologists in the lab by name.

In time, we got word that all the various tests and samples showed that we both had normal hormone levels. And the likelihood of my Grade I varicocele influencing our fertility was pretty slim.

Still, our fertility doctor did have one last test I would have to undergo, but I’ll save it for another Flashback Friday.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Every Story Has A Beginning

01/25/2013

Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you a glance of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way. 

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Right now, we are in the middle of ours. But knowing the beginning may help you understand our journey better. So let’s start at the beginning!

Like you can read on our Our Story page, Dan and I have always wanted kids. So in October of 2010, after 4 years of marriage, we finally decided it was time to start trying. It was an exciting time! I couldn’t help but start wondering when we would get pregnant and eventually become parents. I dreamed of the ways I would tell Dan, our parents, my co-workers, and even my students. I started noticing aisles in stores that I’d always passed by thinking someday soon we will be shopping through there for tiny little socks and hats and shoes. I found myself thinking about feeling a baby kick for the first time, or holding something that Dan and I created together. How exciting!

I figured we wouldn’t get pregnant right away. I knew it could take a few months, and I read that most couples can take up to 6 months or even a year before finally conceiving. But each month passed, and then another, then another.

I’m a worrier, so by month four I was already questioning and wondering if something was wrong. As I’m writing this I’m smiling, because I wish I could go back and tell my past self, “Honey you have a long way to go, just make the best of the next two years.”  I probably wouldn’t have listened then, and I wonder if in two more years I’ll be thinking the same thing about this very moment.

Anyway, winter came and passed with no success and so I started thinking it was just a timing issue. I bought some ovulation kits and for several months after we tried to track my body’s hormones and timing better to improve our chances.

Now, let’s be honest. Sometimes you are just busy, or sick, or your spouse is out of town, or you’re both on vacation and sharing the same hotel room with another family member, or… the list goes on. Somehow, every month you just can’t make the two day window that is the “perfect time” to, um, get down to business.

So, spring and summer passed with no success. I had read that a couple our age would have to wait at least one year before seeking medical treatment and I knew we weren’t there yet. So we kept trying. And trying.

I’ll admit I wasn’t the most positive or relaxed person during this time. I was frustrated, confused, and scared. I thought it was supposed to be easier. I think most women would agree it’s a trying time even if they were able to get pregnant by month 3 or 4. Few people talk about it taking so long, all the movies made the process seem easy. I forgot how everything has to work perfectly for this true miracle to happen; I just wasn’t prepared for the wait.

Like many of you, I had my life planned. Dan and I had set a good foundation for our marriage. We had plenty of years to get to know one another and have fun as a couple, and we were stable financially. It was time to grow our family. I had it all planned. But I forgot an important person and part of the plan. God. The Lord was not in my plan. I wasn’t seeking Him, only practical and selfish desires.

God is writing our story and He has a different plan for our life. Some days it’s hard for me to remember it’s a better plan, but it is. Our story has a beginning that is very different from what I would have picked, but nonetheless it’s OUR STORY. Now it’s just time…finally (2+ years later) to trust Him writing the rest.

In Vitro: 101

01/23/2013

Last Thursday, we had our official kickoff of the in vitro fertilization process. This first appointment was a significant milestone itself. If you’ve never gone through in vitro before, be warned. It’s not something you can schedule for next week!

We’ve had January 17th circled on our calendar since October 31st of last year, so when last Thursday finally arrived it was almost like Christmas morning.

Well, sort of.

Amanda getting her blood pressure taken

Amanda getting her blood pressure taken

OK, not really. It wasn’t exactly like we were looking forward to all this appointment involved, especially Amanda. But, it was a welcome feeling knowing that things were finally getting underway.

We were instructed to arrive at 10:00 am, so that meant both of us would need to take time off of work. Yay! We arrived at the center to find the waiting room full of other couples that were in various stages of seeking fertility help as well. I knew our wait was going to be somewhat lengthy, so thankfully the waiting room TV was showing The Price Is Right.

After 45 minutes or so, a nurse informed us it was time for both of us to get some blood drawn. Have we mentioned Amanda doesn’t like needles? A few minutes later, and 6 or 7 vials each, we were both done. Nobody passed out, and there were no tears. We made it through the worst, although Amanda probably still has a nasty bruise on her arm to show for it.

You might be wondering why so much blood was needed, and from both of us too. I was curious as well, since we both had to give 4 or 5 vials for testing when we first began working with the SIU Infertility and IVF Center just over a year and a half ago.

This was a legally-required step in the process in order to determine that neither of us have communicable diseases such as hepatitis, HLTV-1, and HIV. The requirement of this test is because there is a small chance we could have leftover embryos that could be donated to another patient, which is bad if we’re diseased. Good to know, should we end up needing that service some day as well.

After the poking, it was time for some probing. Eck!

Catheters. Oh yay.

Catheters. Oh yay.

We were escorted to one of the examination rooms, and were greeted with the ultrasound machine, stirrup-enabled examination table, and disposable paper gown. Oh boy. The nurse let us into the room, and then we were alone, waiting again. Being the curious type, I took a brief survey around the room and noticed some rather intrusive looking instruments and catheters, but I think the one item I found most surprising and foreboding was large plastic bag labeled “Under Buttocks Drape With Port & Screen”.

After a bit, Becky, one of the medical assistants, came in and first took Amanda’s blood pressure and weight. She then instructed her to remove everything below the belt, and stepped out. In a matter of minutes she returned, along with an ultrasound technician, and our doctor. He explained everything that was about to happen in a very calm, professional, and reassuring manner.

Basically, he was going to take an ultrasound image (technically I think I heard the term Saline Sonogram used) of her uterus to make sure there were no abnormalities or irregularities that could have developed in the last year that would hinder a successful pregnancy. Sparing the details, it was not the most enjoyable experience for Amanda, but everything checked out great in the end.

Under Buttocks Drape With Port & Screen

I had no idea this was a thing

There was one more item on the agenda for our appointment. Next we had to attend an educational overview of the in vitro fertilization process, and get trained on giving injections.

Sara, the one of the RNs, gave us a thorough education on subcutaneous and intramuscular injection, and training on the various drugs that we will be administering. There are three main hormone injections we’ll be dealing with for this process: Lupron, Follistim, and progesterone.

Included in this training was a ‘butt in a box’ training device that we both got to practice giving the intramuscular injections. It was a full size, rubber reproduction of a female rear end, with removable gluteus maximus muscle on one side. We were both shown the danger of striking one of the veins in the region, as well as where the sciatic nerve is located. The only injections that will be intramuscular (in the butt) are the progesterone shots, and thankfully these happen towards the end of this process. Amanda was also relieved to learn that the gigantic needles currently placed on the progesterone syringes are only for drawing the viscous, oily hormone up into the syringe too.

Finally, 3 hours later we were done with our introduction to in vitro fertilization. I can’t help but be thankful for the excellent staff at the SIU Fertility and IVF Center, and Dr. Loret de Mola. They’ve been fantastic at getting us to this point in our journey, and I know we’re in good hands for what’s next.

The Last First Step

01/22/2013

Well, I survived. One shot down, many more to go. It wasn’t that bad, but I did flinch with the little pinch. More out of nervousness than anything. I was more relaxed than I normally am, so I’m a little stronger than yesterday. I’m lucky to have a gentle, nurse that is not afraid to give a shot…my husband. Somehow the topic of shot administration never came up in our 6 years of marriage. Hence, something new I discovered about Dan during this process. His demeanor and confidence helps me stay calm and I’m so grateful he is willing to do what is needed.

I titled this post to describe how the beginning of in vitro is bittersweet for us. It’s sweet because we are getting close to possibly becoming parents, closer than we ever have before. This is is exciting and even a little surreal. Dan joked the other day…”What if it actually works? What do we do then?” But this is also a sad or bitter time. This is the last step in our journey to become biological parents. The beginning of the fertility process is filled with hope because so many options are still available. The couple doesn’t know what the issues are and there are several steps to go through. Maybe it’s a hormone imbalance and the infertility can be solved by some medicine. Or maybe it’s an ovulation problem that can helped by shots. Or possibly it’s a timing issue and an IUI (intrauterine insemination) can be done. Regardless, the beginning is full of promise. Our hope has not extinguished, but with each answer solved or another option tried without success we have come to the final step. I don’t like to think of this too often, because it puts a lot of pressure on this working. But the reality is, if this doesn’t work we might try one more IVF cycle but that will end our time at the clinic. We will then have to seek other avenues to become parents.

So this is the last first step. The first shot in the books for our last part of this infertility journey (at least medically). We are still full of hope due to our faith. God will provide us a child in His time. It might not be when we want it or how, but I’m confident Dan and I will be parents someday.

that's a lot of needles!

Facing My Fears

01/20/2013

Fear. It’s an interesting thing to have. It can be paralyzing or motivating. I, like anyone have various fears. Of course I have “normal,” realistic fears like family’s safety/health, money worries, and job security. But I have one significant, irrational fear that directly relates to our journey through infertility. I fear and HATE needles. I’ve always had this fear ever since I can remember. My Dad always likes to tell a story that nicely summarizes my fear of needles. When I was 4 or 5 I got a splinter. My parents were working on getting it out with tweezers and a needle. I guess I screamed bloody murder; like loud enough they were worried the neighbors would be wondering about the activities inside our house.

Anyway, this is not the most “ideal” fear to have while working through infertility. Surprisingly, I’ve only had to have my blood drawn two times in a year while working with the doctors at our fertility clinic. This last time was actually this past Thursday. I had 6 or 7 vials of blood taken for various tests for in vitro (more for making sure our embryos will be healthy if donated). I was so nervous and was getting light headed while the nurse wrapped my upper arm. But I got through the pinch and managed not to pass out. I know to many that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me I felt this was a huge step in working through my fears of needles. I will have at least 4 or 5 more opportunities (possibly more) to keep conquering this fear throughout the next few months, luckily only one vial each time.

Actually, I will have everyday for the next two months to work on getting over my fear of needles. Tuesday is when I start taking my shots. Now when the medicine showed up on our doorstep you could say I received one of my worst nightmares…a large box full of needles. Luckily friends had warned me about the size of the box and how it can be overwhelming, so some of the shock value was lost. But as I opened each smaller box inside the package my fears starting rearing. Each small box had more needles, and more, and larger ones. Thankfully my husband was there to help ease my fear and remind me it’s only one at a time and once a day.

So, I try to look at our journey through different eyes. Not that I will be subjected to one of my biggest fears everyday, but that God has given me an opportunity to trust Him, build my marriage (by leaning on my husband), and work through my fears. I will try and remember every night when Dan gives me my shot that I am growing, becoming stronger, conquering something that has paralyzed my thoughts and body over the years. I’m not saying that my fears are gone, I’m still a little nervous for Tuesday and everyday after, but I know this will be for my own good and I’m thankful for a God that loves me enough to challenge me to face my fear!

The Long Hard Road

Good, Good End

01/17/2013

Have you ever taken a trip down an unfamiliar and winding road, not knowing how much further away your destination will be? It seems like the miles go on and on forever. But when you turn around and head back in the other direction, somehow you swear the distance is half of what it seemed on the way there, because you now have a full understanding of where the journey was leading you.

Well, unfortunately sometimes life is an unfamiliar and long, hard road.

At this point in our story, Amanda and I have been dealing with the ugly truth of infertility for the better part of two-and-a-half years, or just about 900 days. That’s 900 fewer days of our lifetime we could be with our children, watching our legacy continue for another generation. 900 times we remember we are broken people in a broken world. 900 days where thoughts of fear, inadequacy and doubt worm their way into my brain. 900 reminders that ultimately no matter how long we’ve waited, no matter how hard we’ve prayed, or how long we’ve pleaded with God for a child, we still don’t have one. Yet.

But 900 days dealing with and being remind of our own physical brokenness are also 900 chances for God to remind us that He is where we should place our ultimate satisfaction and sense of fulfillment.

Some days it’s easier to remember this than others.

Talking about the long, hard road reminds me of the song “Good, Good End” by Waterdeep, from their album Heart Attack Time Machine.

Here’s the lyrics:

You can leave right now
You can ring a bell
You can tell ’em you think I ain’t doin’ too well
But when I stood like you
I eventually fell
So you can leave right now
Go on and ring your bell

I’m amazed by life
And it’s amazed by me
We’re a strange old pair- me and eternity
It don’t make good sense
It ain’t easy to see
But I’m amazed by life
And it’s amazed by me

It’s a long hard road
With a good, good end
And if I keep on walking on past the crooked bend
I will meet my Maker
I will meet my Friend
It’s a long hard road
With a good, good end”

I guess the point of this post is that I’m reminded that with all things, I need to begin with the end in mind.

So, regardless of whatever is around this next curve in our journey, I know where the road is leading.

It’s not been an easy conclusion to get here, but ultimately if all our feeble attempts at creating new life are unsuccessful, our life is still somehow valuable and I know that in all situations, God is good.

Welcome, and stuff.

01/14/2013

Greetings! Thanks for taking the time to visit ourpatientlove.com. Over the course of the next few weeks and (hopefully) months, we will be documenting our journey through infertility as a married couple, in the hope that it can not only serve as an outlet for our emotional needs, but also as hope, inspiration, and guidance for others going though similar situations.

Neither of us have really blogged much in our lifetime, so this is a new journey as well.

Thanks for your patience.

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