"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

31 July 2011

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise-PUPO

The first time I heard that acronym, PUPO, and learned what it meant, I found it incredibly adorable!  What a great way to honor the blossoming life a woman just had placed inside of her!

This is a picture of the two embryos
we transferred on Day 3 of our IVF
The first time I was PUPO, we had two little lives placed inside of me.  They were 8 cells (really 7, growing an 8th).  They were beautiful, they were living, and looking at their picture, our hearts were filled with hope for the first time in a very long time that we may actually become pregnant and eventually become parents.

For nearly two weeks, I walked around the house, spontaneously grabbing my husband's hand, placing it on my belly, and saying, "Let's pray for the embryos."  We stopped about a dozen times a day in the middle of sentences and activities to pray for those two precious lives we hoped were still growing inside of me.

At the end of the first week of waiting, we got a call from the embryologist.  Of the 15 embryos that had developed from the 19 healthy eggs retrieved and injected with sperm, two had been transferred on day 3, leaving 13 embryos, and only one of those 13 made it to the stage of being viable to freeze.  Four had made it to the blastocyst stage on day 5, and would have been candidates for a day five transfer had we not had a transfer on day three, but those four quit developing by the time day six (the freeze day) rolled around.  So, between the final possible day of transfer and the next day in which they'd be frozen, four healthy-looking embryos stopped developing.

I knew, when he told me about the four blasts that stopped growing on day 5, I knew the two inside of me had not made it.  I don't know how I knew, but I did.  I knelt down on the floor in the corner of my bedroom and cried over the lost lives.  I cried for those 14 embryos that never had a real chance.  I wept over the two that were placed in me and begged God to please let them live, but deep inside I knew they were gone.  

As I knelt there on the floor, weeping, the phrase running through my mind over and over again as my heart cried out to God was, "You know."  And that was what I clung to.  I knew that He knew my heart's desire, the longing DH and I have for children from our own bodies; He knows how many cells each one made it to; He knows why they didn't survive; He knew if the two inside of me at that time were still living; He knew how losing them would affect DH and me; He knows each life that He created, why He created it, and what became of each one; He knew my heart was broken and how to mend it.  There were so many other things, and for me what mattered in that moment was that He knew.

I picked myself up off the floor, went downstairs and asked DH to hold me (he had gone downstairs before I started crying and had no idea I had been up there weeping).  He held me gently and asked me, "Are you crying because we only got one?"  I responded through my tears, "No. I'm crying because we lost the others."

Part of what I love about being "PUPO" is the fact that for at least a week, if not even two, I have the privilege of having another life living, and potentially growing, inside of me!  That's exciting!  It's also scary.  

There are so many "what if's" to consider when one is PUPO.  Although there is life, a confirmed growing embryo, there is the question of, "Did it implant?" or, "Is it still growing?"  "What if pineapple core doesn't help implantation at all?"  "What if that tiny nibble of chocolate jeopardized it's chances?"  "What if I stood up too long on the way to the bathroom?"  "What if pushing to pee is as bad as pushing to poo?"  "What if my 15lb cat falling asleep on me while I was napping killed the embryos?  What if struggling to get him off of me did?"  "What if this? What if that?" "What if...what if...what if..."

This time around, it's not the "what if's" that are getting to me, it's the "could this be's".  Last time, after I grieved the embryos, I was fairly convinced I wasn't pregnant.  I didn't notice any symptoms other than the fact that my breasts weren't quite as swollen, I didn't have to pee all the time anymore, and I generally felt normal.  

This time, I'm noticing tiny cramp-like twinges near where I usually have major cramps, and I think, "Could this be the embryo growing after implantation? Or is it simply the progesterone, or the two whole red-bell-peppers I ate today?"

This time, my prenatal vitamin makes me feel sick when I take it, and I think, "Could this be the nausea I hear about from pregnancy? Or is it simply that this company maybe changed its formula, or I'm suddenly reacting to the iron in the supplements?  Or could it be that I just need to eat?  But my sisters could only get their pregnancy nausea to go away when they ate something and that's what makes my queasiness go away, so could it be???"

And I haven't even mentioned yet the fact that for several days post transfer, I didn't feel a thing.  Not one single symptom.  Not a period symptom, not a pregnancy symptom, not even a symptom of being myself.  I was kind of like a machine, I suppose.  I was fully composed, not at all stressed, just super chill.  It was weird and out of character for me.

Well, actually, truth be told, there was one symptom.  I was weepy.  But there you have another "Could it be?"  I wasn't sure if I was weepy because of the hormones I am taking, because of extra hormones my body might be producing because of a growing baby, or extra hormones my body might be producing in preparation for a period and in rebellion to the intentional prevention of it's arrival.  I eventually decided that it was most likely my body reacting in relief, even if my mind was not telling it to, consciously.

For example: The day before the transfer, a good friend of mine commented on how calm I was and how good I seemed about everything, even though I had verbalized concern that our frozen embryo might not survive the thaw.  The morning of the transfer, I was still in that calm mental state, but my body pushed the "override" button and started showing all the classic symptoms I get when I'm super nervous about something (let's just say, it's not pretty).  My assumption is that I was weepy after the transfer, not so much because of hormones, but because my body finally was able to express relief, but my mind was still in denial that it was ever under any stress.

Regardless, my point is, being PUPO is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but it is also a very maddening state of being.  It's wonderful because you have two glorious weeks of believing that there is a life blossoming and growing inside of you.  Hopes are high and the world is grand!  But it's maddening because doubt creeps in quickly and robs you of some of the hope and steals bits of the joy.  An unavoidable self-preservation kicks in that we infertiles know all too well.  We begin, in this PUPO state, to talk ourselves down from the ledge of hope, to a safer place known as "maybe, but probably not."

The embryo we transferred this
cycle. The dark circle in the
middle toward the top is what
becomes the fetus, the lighter
part becomes the placenta.
I must admit, I am head-over-heels in LOVE with this embryo inside of me!  I got to see which part will become the "fetus" and which part will become the placenta.  I was privileged to witness the fact that after it was thawed, this little embryo began to hatch before it was placed inside of me.  I can only imagine how dreadfully painful it will be to have to let go of this one, too, if it isn't clinging to life and growing inside of me.  I don't even want to think about it, but it's there in my mind.  What I want to think about is how neat those little twinges feel and how nice it would be if my queasiness is from the little life inside of me.

I have two and a half more days of being PUPO.  I'm going to do my best to enjoy the possibilities and not talk myself off of that ledge of hope.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers of support through this past week.  It's helped tremendously!  I am so thankful for my Twitter/Blogger support system.  I pray that I will have good news to share in a few days.  It may be a while before I blog about the results, but you'll probably hear on Twitter fairly soon after we know.

Praying for this life inside of me,

28 July 2011

Frozen Embryo Transfer-FET

Let me begin by saying, I was immensely blessed to have the company of my two dear friends G and A as I went through this procedure.  I cannot say enough what a blessing they were to me.  I realized in the middle of the procedure that I needed their presence in the room...that if they hadn't been with me, I would have been a puddle of tears instead of the loopy, valium-induced-calm self that I was able to be.  They assisted me with anything I needed before, during, and after the procedure, and waited on me hand and foot when we got back to my house. Truly I am blessed by their love and friendship.  So, G, and A, THANK YOU!!!
Words cannot describe how amazing the experience was for us during our Frozen Embryo Transfer, but I'll do my best to find the right ones.

Monday morning, I awoke with a prayer on my heart: "Lord God, please place your hand on this embryo as it thaws and keep it safe and healthy through the thaw."

All I've been able to think about for weeks is whether or not the embryo would survive the thaw.  I had not even begun to allow myself to think about, or even pray about, whether or not the embryo would implant.  I couldn't, until I knew the embryo survived.

When the embryologist came in and showed me the picture of our embryo and described it's condition to me, I could sense that he loved his job.  I got the impression that it would make his day for me to ask him as many questions as I could think of about what he gets to do as an embryologist.  I smiled, wishing I had the time to think of questions for him.

When he told me that there was no evidence of any cell damage to our embryo, and that he couldn't even tell that our embryo had been frozen, an image came to my mind of the hand of God covering our embryo and overseeing the thawing process Himself.  I was overwhelmed by how completely God had responded to the prayer of my heart.  He not only safely thawed the embryo, but he went above and beyond and prevented any damage, and made it so that an experienced embryologist was unable to tell it had ever even been frozen.

But the blessings didn't end there!

It turns out that, although the clinic was in the process of attaining wireless Internet that week, it was not up and running.  I had brought along my computer on the off chance that they may have it so that I could attempt to bring my DH into the room via Skype.  I decided, since I had my computer with me, to see if there were any unprotected wireless services in the area.  Sure enough, there was a dentist office nearby that graciously, though unknowingly, allowed me to access their wireless Internet while I was in the pre-op room. (*Note-a FET is not an operation, but it's performed in the same room as an IVF which is an operation, so the room they prep you in for both procedures is the same and called the "pre-op" room)

I was able to reach my DH via Skype prior to the procedure, but wasn't sure I would be able to access the Internet I was borrowing all the way back in the procedure room.  So, I uploaded (downloaded?) Skype to my iPhone and ran a few test calls to DH.  No luck.  It would not work on my phone.  I tried several times to make a good connection with him on my iPhone and it didn't work.  I decided I should be thankful he was able to be with me before, and that I would be able to contact him immediately after, but that we would still try bringing my computer into the room anyway.

On the way to the procedure room, we lost the Internet connection.  But after a few minutes, I heard the Skype ring on my phone!  I answered it, but there was no response.  My image was showing up, and the phone said we were connected, so I just assumed DH could see everything even if he probably couldn't hear it.  About three minutes later I heard my sweet husband's voice say, "Hello?"

I was beyond excited!  I was thrilled!  He could hear us, AND he could see what was going on.  There was no delay, no scrambled words, no garbled images, no freezing of the screen.  He was right there with us every step of the way, having conversations with the doctor and seeing everything as it was happening!  To me, this is also nothing less than the hand of God intervening and responding to another cry of my heart.  We never have such a perfect connection on Skype, and for it to have even worked on my phone was astounding.

Then another amazing thing happened!

When the embryologist put the image of our embryo up on the screen, it was in the process of hatching!  The energy of the room changed immediately when we saw this on the screen and I could tell it must be a very exciting thing!  (Keep in mind, I was on Valium for this and I was a bit stoned...my reasoning skills were greatly limited.)  I learned later that it is critical for an embryo to hatch in order to be able to implant, so this was a very good sign.  Also, as I reflected on it after the Valium wore off, I realized this meant that the embryo was still living and growing and healthy!  

(I realized as I played the video back later that the doctor actually pointed out this fact to me, but apparently I was too stoned to process it.  
His words were: "So it's looking really, really good. It's not only re-expanded, but it's already hatching.  It's beautiful, isn't it.")

And to a woman who longs for assurance that this just might work, to a woman who has been living with infertility for seven and a half years, even under the influence of Valium, it was a beautiful sight to behold, indeed.

The morning of the transfer, I wore my #hope t-shirt.  I have only worn that shirt twice before, and the last time I wore it, my hopes were nearly extinguished at a pool party.  But the morning of the transfer, I awoke with hope in my heart and with two key verses swirling in my mind from the day before.

"Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8:24b-25)
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

I know without a doubt that God heard my heart's cry, that He safely thawed our embryo, that He arranged for my husband to be "with" me, and that He graciously allowed us to catch a glimpse of how He "weaves us together in the secret place".  My heart is filled with quite a bit more hope this time than it was last time, even as I try to guard it, knowing that it may not yet be our time to rejoice.

If we become pregnant as a result of this transfer, our hearts will overflow abundantly with joy!  If we do not become pregnant as a result of this transfer, our hearts will certainly break, but we will still have comfort.  I will know without question that the God of the universe, the God I serve, is still good, still God, and still with me.  My hope is not in having children.  It is certainly something I hope for, but my hope is in knowing that I have been adopted as a child of God.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." *
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." **
*Hebrews 11:1-3
**Romans 8:18-25

22 July 2011

Surviving the Thaw

We have our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) on Monday, July 25th.

People keep asking me if I'm excited, and I've found myself answering "yes" absently as I wonder to myself if I am.  I know my DH is excited, as he has told me so several times this week.

I am excited that my two close friends are coming to stay with me, and that they will have the opportunity to go into the room with me during the transfer if they want to.
I am excited that we have this opportunity and that I didn't have to take any shots this time to get to this point.
I am excited that it's significantly less money to do this transfer than it was to do a fresh IVF cycle.

But I realized today that I'm not letting myself get excited about the upcoming transfer yet because we don't even know for certain that it will happen.

We could be ready to go on Monday morning, or even on our way to the clinic (as it's quite a drive) and receive a call that the embryo didn't survive the thaw.

When people ask me how they can pray, I tell them to pray for a safe and successful thaw for our embryo.  After that occurs, then I can start thinking about our desire for it to implant and grow and make my uterus it's home for the next nine months.

Right now, I just want the precious thing to survive the thaw.

17 July 2011

Blood Clots, Friends, and the Sound of My Blood

Three nights ago, I was at my in-laws' house and a strange thing happened with my left leg.  We were sitting on the couch looking at blue-prints for their new house when suddenly my left leg was swollen, throbbing, slightly purple, and going numb.

I adjusted my leg several different times, finally propping my left foot up on the ottoman (footstool).  Ten minutes later, the swelling went down, the throbbing stopped, the original color returned and my leg felt fine.  I mentioned it to my husband when we chatted that night (via Yahoo! chat), but he was not concerned.

Normally, such a thing would just be a strange phenomenon and I would think nothing of it, but in preparation for our upcoming Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) I am having to take estradiol, which is a hormone that has the potential to cause blood clots.  

I am healthy, I don't smoke, I don't have a history of blood clots, so the chances are slim that I would have an issue.  Normally, the concern for blood clots is far from my mind.  However, my leg also does not normally swell up suddenly and go numb.  So, I have been a little more aware of my legs and their behavior the past couple of days.

Last night, while visiting a dear friend in a city a few hours from where I live, my friend and I went for a walk.  It was truly just a stroll around the block.  However, halfway through the walk, my feet were swollen and throbbing and my hands were so swollen it was too painful to let my arms swing by my side.  These things are also incredibly unusual.

I propped my feet up, once inside, then went to bed a little while later, exhausted.  As I lay there drifting into sleep, I noticed that my lower left leg felt like it was bruised, so I reached my hand down to touch it and my leg was very tender.  But there was no bruise, and I had done nothing that would have bruised it.

I made a mental note to tell my DH when we were able to chat next, and I fell asleep.

This morning, my DH was able to call me via the telephone.  The connection was terrible, but it was wonderful to hear his voice!  I told him about my leg feeling bruised the night before and his tone changed.  He asked a few more questions, and based on my answers, he mentioned that I might want to go to the hospital to have it checked out.  He also indicated that since he wasn't here and able to truly assess me that he wasn't certain I should go.

So, we agreed that I should call the fertility clinic and speak to a nurse.  I called the clinic this morning and left a message.  She spoke with my Reproductive Endocrinologist, and he said that I should definitely go in to the emergency room to rule out a blood clot.  He told her to convey to me that it's highly unlikely that I would have one considering my age and health, but that with the symptoms I was having (which I have not described fully here) it would be best for me to go in to be certain.

So, my friend drove me to the military post hospital here in town, and I received excellent care from the emergency room staff :)

When I described my symptoms to the nurse, he was concerned, especially when he learned that I had been in the car for long periods of time many times recently and what type of medication I was on.

The doctor, however, was not as concerned.  His face actually fell when he heard my description of my symptoms and located the points on my calf that I described as tender. I could tell that he was clearly unconcerned and it felt as if the tests he ordered at that point were simply a formality for his own protection.

I felt a bit stupid, but my friend reminded me of the importance of being cautious and advocating for my body, taking care of it, especially in light of the importance of future events (the FET).  Which also reminded me that I had been encouraged by my husband (a PA) to go in, and had been instructed by my physician to go in.  So, even if the ER doc thought that I was a waste of his time and taxpayers' money, I believe it was still the right decision for me to go in.

The doctor ordered an ultrasound of my leg, and it showed that my circulation from my foot was good and there were no clots.  I must say that the sonographer (x-ray tech, whoever) was very nice and did a great job.  AND, I must also say, that my blood flowing through my veins sounds super cool!!!  It's amazing! 

Now, lest that ER doctor (a 3rd year med-school resident) be slandered, I should inform you that he was very nice, very knowledgeable, and very thorough.  I should also let you know that I conveyed my perspective of the doctor to the nurse, about how I felt like he considered my case to be a waste of time and why I felt that way, and the nurse (who was spectacular) had a heart to heart with the doctor.  

Afterward, the doctor came in prior to discharging me and had a completely different attitude and demeanor, took the time to talk to me like a person instead of a warm body, and displayed the fact that he can not only handle constructive criticism, but that he has a teachable heart and is willing to admit he's not perfect and adjust his behavior to apply things he's learned.

So, Kudos! to the nurse named "Cowboy" at the hospital for caring enough about the patients to listen to them and the resident docs to take them under his wing.  Kudos! to the doc for doing a great job and for redeeming his reputation by showing he actually does care.  Kudos! to my amazing friend and her husband for allowing me to dominate so much of their time today and to my amazing friend for sitting with me for hours and talking sense to me when I was prone to be dramatic and nonsensical.  And Kudos! thanks and praise to God for providing for my needs in a town that is not my home, for blessing me with friends that love me unconditionally, and for keeping me safe and healthy.

I am to follow up with my Primary Care Manager (PCM) in about a week to have another ultrasound of my leg just to be certain there wasn't a clot hiding in my lower leg.  (The week gives it time to travel into my upper leg, if there's a clot, where it can be located by ultrasound.)  Apparently an ultrasound is only done from the knee up on the leg if a clot is suspected.

Thank you to those of you who were so kind to express your concern via twitter!  I appreciate your concern and support.  What a privilege it is to be uplifted so frequently by this community.  Kudos! to you all as well!  ;)


10 July 2011

Hormones, Deployments, & Babies-Oh, My!

I'm sitting here in bed beside my sleeping husband.  Today is our last full day together.  He will not lay beside me again for a very long time.

We have done our best this past month to make memories that will give us boldness to face this time apart and to help bring us through the first few weeks while we settle in.

I think we've done a pretty good job.  Making memories.  We've had quite a bit of fun the last few days reliving the memories of this last month together.  While I'd love to hash through them all again here, I will instead focus on two moments that were not particularly comfortable, but will stick with me for quite some time.

Over the 4th of July holiday, my husband and I travelled a few hours North to spend time with my siblings and their families.  We were daily among a total of ten of the dearest children I have ever known.  We love being with all of them and were blessed to have had this opportunity to spend such quality time with them before my husband leaves.

The night before we left, our family asked if they could pray for us before we all went to bed since the two of us would be leaving before anyone else would be awake.  It was a blessing and I was reminded once again, as I listened to the prayers, what an amazing gift we have been given to have such a supportive family.

After the prayer time, we all said "goodnight" and "goodbye."  I found myself in a conversation with one of my nieces (age 5) and one of my nephews (age 8) that went something like this:

Niece: How old are you?
Me: I'm 33.
Nephew: WHOA!  You're older than my mom!
Me: Yes.  Yes, I am older than your mom :-)
Nephew: (gears turning in his head)  And you don't have any children.
Me: No. No, we don't have any children.
Niece: (interjecting while Nephew processes) When are you going to have children?
Me: Well, I don't know :-)  We're surely trying.
Nephew: (with a look of concern, spoken with pauses) Do you think, maybe, God made it, so that you and [your husband] can't have children? (the concerned look remained)
Me: Yes, Nephew, that's exactly what I think (I smiled, he nodded- still processing the thought)
Niece: But you're going to a doctor! (spoken with enthusiasm and a smile)
Me: Yes, we are.  We're going to a doctor to get help to have a baby.

And as quickly as the conversation started, the conversation ended.  I love how easy it is to have conversations with children!  There's no pretense,  just straightforward conversation.  
And what a precious conversation that was to me!  My 8-year-old nephew took a moment in a day to process the reality, the weight, of the fact that we don't have children.  There are few adults that can, or will, do that!  This is a memory I will treasure.

After we returned from our holiday trip, we felt obligated compelled to drop in on a gathering our small group was having so DH could say, "goodbye."  Also, a friend's husband was home for R&R and DH wanted to see him since they'd be moving before DH gets back.

It is extremely hot in Texas this time of year, so the gathering was actually a pool party.  We did not wear bathing suits as we only intended to stay long enough to say "goodbye" but I would have been much more comfortable in something other than blue-jeans.

However, the discomfort of wearing blue-jeans in the heat was nothing compared to the emotional discomfort I felt about ten minutes into our time there.

Let me set the stage: 

  • DH and I had limited time together and I was keenly aware of that fact and did not want to share him with anyone, much less a bunch of people I'm still not fully comfortable with...
  • We had just returned from a trip to Austin for a baseline ultrasound appointment at which DH had to sign papers to give me permission to transfer our frozen embryo and/or have a fresh IVF cycle using his sperm while he's away...
  • I had worn my #hope t-shirt for the occasion, but was feeling pretty hopeless in light of the fact that my favorite person on the planet was about to be taken away from me for who-knows-how-long...
  • And (just for good measure) I had been taking estrogen (you know, the hormone I often describe on twitter as "not a happy hormone"), so on top of being emotional about my husband leaving, I was also dealing with hormonal mood swings and hot flashes.
So, my friend (the woman who was the maid of honor in my wedding, whose husband we were there for my husband to see...the one woman in that group who actually knows the depths of who I am) came up to me holding her third child while her other two children swam in the pool.

My husband had gone off to visit with the guys and I was standing beside a tree trying to avoid getting sucked into any conversations, but I was glad my friend came to say hi.

We had a lovely chat in which we commiserated over the woes and angst of being apart from our husbands, and I was encouraged.

Yet in the midst of that conversation, it was as if in an instant, a world out of focus came into perfect clarity.  (It was like something out of a movie when a person's lost and in danger in a crowded place, disoriented, and all of a sudden they clearly see their enemy standing with their sights set on them.)

I was standing there in my #hope t-shirt, my friend beside me holding her infant, two women beside the pool with their new-borns laying in the shade, children FILLING the pool, pregnant bellies in bathing suits walking around the pool, a visiting grandmother cooing at a baby, toddlers walking past me to get food from their parents.

I am not kidding when I tell you that I looked around in a slight state of panic, desperately seeking one adult among the group who was not a parent!  

I was standing there beside a tree, my husband far from me, and the reality that THIS group of people is the group of people I'm supposed to fellowship with over the course of possibly a year or more WITHOUT MY HUSBAND, and I have NOTHING in common with them! (Now, of course, that is an exaggeration.  I do have things in common with them.  But at that moment, the two things that mattered most to me-my husband leaving and not having children-were the commonalities I was looking for.)

In our group, there are three couples besides us who do not have children.  One couple thinks they may be infertile (which is NO consolation), one couple is a blog post of it's own, and the other couple called us the day after this party to tell us we had missed the announcement at the party because we left early, but they wanted us to know they are pregnant.

Thankfully, we left very soon after my moment of panic.  Thankfully, we left before the big pregnancy announcement.  Thankfully, I have had time with my husband to myself since then.  Thankfully, we have a frozen embryo and the opportunity to transfer him/her in the near future.  Thankfully, we have frozen "swimmers" in case the FET is a bust.  Thankfully, even in my husband's absence, I am not truly alone.  And thankfully, I have this day ahead of me to spend with him.

The sun has finally risen and DH's alarm just went off (not to mention this blog post is forever-long), so I will close.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  If you think of us this week (and are one who prays), please pray for us as I'm sure we'll need it.


02 July 2011

Buying a Baby (Guest Post)

I asked my husband if he would be willing to write a guest blog post for this blog.  He graciously agreed and blessed me with his willingness to be involved even in this part of our journey.  The following is his blog post.  We hope you enjoy it.  Feel free to comment. Blessings! ~Julia

“If they don’t like me for who I am, I’m not going to buy one of their used babies.”
-Jeff Bingham (Rules of Engagement)
This is a quote from the fictional character Jeff Bingham played by Patrick Warburton on  CBS’s Rules of Engagement.  In the show, Jeff and his wife Audrey struggle with infertility and are attempting to adopt.  I think this quote reveals something important about how men experience infertility and how that experience can be very different from the one that our wives experience.  The purpose of this guest blog post is to explain a chief aspect of the male experience of infertility.
I sincerely believe that the experience of infertility is different for men than it is for women.  We experience the sadness that comes monthly with our wife’s cycle.  We feel the loss of legacy that comes with the regular disappointing news.  We feel a little less human than those that seem to easily get pregnant by having sex and we certainly feel jealousy of those we deem “less worthy” of having children.  For crying out loud,  I have a regular job and make a decent amount of money while the poor and maladjusted seem to sprout kids like weeds.  

So, in all of those areas I think men and women experience infertility in a similar fashion.  There is one aspect of infertility that consumes me and probably consumes most men in this struggle.  I am referring to MONEY.  
My wife and I found out that our first IVF cycle failed in June.  The disappointment was extreme for me and I have been trying to figure out why it made my cry like Ben Stiller at the end of There’s Something About Mary.  I am sure that the regular feelings added to my sorrow as well as the expectation that it would truly work this time.  My upcoming deployment to Iraq also added to my grief because my wife will have to pursue further treatment while I am away.  Every one of these factors compounded my grief but I am focusing today on why money brought me such sorrow.  It may seem shallow, weak and intemperate but the following is genuinely how the money factor added to my grief over the failed IVF.
IVF costs a lot of money.  When you break it down an IVF cycle is a financial transaction similar to any other transaction you do on a daily basis.  You go to the grocery store, pay money and leave with groceries.  You go a fertility clinic, pay money and services are performed that are suppose to lead to a healthy child.  The “child” part is where the difference lies because there is no guarantee, yet you still spend the money.  

Let me put forth an analogy.  Suppose that you and your spouse do your homework, choose a car you like, go to a car dealership, barter a fair price and pay the money.  Then pretend that after you pay the price, the salesman tells you that the factory built the car, tax title and license were processed, the salesman received his commission for the sale but your car fell off the transport truck in transit and was destroyed.  Because services were performed you won’t be receiving a refund but we can try again next month as long as you pay for another car.  By the way; next month there is still only a 30-50% chance that the car will make it to the dealership.  

Most of us would sue if we hadn’t signed a mandatory arbitration agreement (which we all probably did.  It is just a little thing that waives our right to trial by jury but that is a side note and not the purpose of this blog).  The point is that we would be livid.  No one expects to pay tens of thousands of dollars and not get what we pay for but that is exactly what happens with a failed IVF.  I know this is not a logical argument so if you are a guy and your logical brain is picking apart my analogy just STOP.  It is an argument stemming from emotion but infertility and money are both emotional topics so I am okay with the argument.  
Let me get to my final point.  When I pay for a car I am not paying for the salesman’s commission, transport fees, factory workers salary or sales tax.  I know that is were the money goes but as the consumer I don’t care where my money goes.  They can fold the money into origami swans and light them on fire for all I care.  I just want a car.  When we do an IVF we are not paying for services we are paying for a baby.  I know the money goes to the doctor, embryologist, lab fees, hospital fees and fertility clinic staff but I am not paying the money because I want them to have money.  I am paying because I want a baby.
This is the part that makes money emotional.  Infertile couples have to pay for a baby whether it be through ART or adoption.  The thing that seems to come so easily and accidentally to 7 out of 8 couples we are required to pay for.  It is just one additional injustice in the long line of injustices that consume infertile couples' thoughts.  It is also the injustice that seems to consume my thoughts and probably the thoughts of most men.  On the bright side, if the fertility treatments work I am sure that I won’t regret a dollar of the spent money.  If it doesn’t work, well I don’t want to think about that because it will just piss me off.