Monthly Archives: June 2013

Butterflies and Jackrabitts

It is a gentle spring morning.  The hum of our Honda vibrates while the two of us sit in silence.  Thoughts racing in wonder of what would come.

Earlier in March we had sat in the same Honda with the same hum in silence.  Why?  We had just decided that our next course of action would be “IUI” and if that did not work “IVF”.  3 and 1.  That is 3 sets of insemination and one set of the more invasive in-vitro -fertilization.  Up to that point we had discussed insemination or adoption, but now a decision – our own genetics – god willing.

As we pulled off of the highway there was a sudden rush of nerves.  It was like “ok, today could be the day that I become a mom –  today is the day Nick might be a dad”.  That is an enormous thought; a thought that is played out for the rest of one’s life.  Most people have idea of about around the time it happens, but here we were.  It was this time.  We pull into our RE’s parking lot, a deep breath is drawn in –  it is time.

We walk into the waiting room, just a sole nurse sitting behind the desk.  Paper work first.  Nick fills out some brief information.  He places his name, the date “March 28, 2013” and his social security number on three stickers.  Sloppy – the numbers don’t quiet fit, but it will do.  After filling out the four pages of information the nurse gives back one of the papers and the three stickers to me. 

Again we sit, heart racing.  Now one other couple sits in the waiting area with us.  Quiet shrouds of whispers escape their lips and I swear my heart sounds louder than their whispers.  We were on time and now it seems like an eternity of listening to the butterflies chirp.   “Swoosh-squeek-squeek”  – “Nick”  Finally Nick is called back and me – left to sit out in the waiting room listening to the chirp chirp of butterflies.

Nick has left the waiting room… Will this work?  What will it be like?  What will we experience?  Will our baby be a boy?  Will our baby be a girl?  Will our baby be healthy?  What will the doctor have to say?  Will the IUI be painful?  Will this work?  Will I have a chance to see if my egg(s) have been released?  How long does this take?  Why are these chirps so loud?  I wonder what this other couple is here for?  What is Nick doing right now?  Why is so cold in here?  What will we experience?  Will this work???  Will this work?  Will this… “Swoosh-squeek-squeek”  

Nick emerges from the behind the door that he had left into while I listened to the chirping butterflies.  “Here,”  he hands me one of the three stickers that he had written his name, the date (March 28, 2013) and his social security number on.  Wait, where are the other two?  My watch tell me that there is more than an hour to wait for the second half of this appointment.  “Is there a Starbucks near by,” I decide to break the loud chirping with.

We drive to and from Starbucks.  Random conversation.  Nick described the room.  Ah… the other stickers ended up on a sheet of paper and the reception cup.  All of the random conversation still gets us back to the quiet waiting room with almost fifteen minutes to wait.  Now there are five people waiting.  The conversation between the two couples is too low to try to hear.  I can still hear the chirping of butterflies – so much waiting – so many questions – so many fears.  Will this work?

We are called back to a mid-sized examine room.   Cheryl leaves me to put on a gown.  Why do these rooms have to be so stark, so white?  What will the doctor do to Cheryl?  What is the process.  I know they said something about washing it, but what does that look like?  Cheryl comes back into the room, she looks so brave and ready to do this.  We sit in the examine room and my heart continues to thump harder and harder; I swear it sounded like a jackrabbit in my chest.  Cheryl had been a bit more quiet than usual today which made the waiting in that waiting room that much more … “knock knock”

“Good morning, Cheryl”.  I see the doctor come in – wait that’s not our doctor.  Why is he here?  Where is the person we had talked about this entire process? I thought … “Where is doctor J?” Cheryl interrupts my thoughts.  “He is not in today” says the strange unknown doctor.  I see Cheryl’s face go from nervous to wonderment and disappointment.  “It is pretty typical, we don’t always even have doctors come to the IUI treatment”.

“Wait!”  I scream in my head… the person we had put trust into would not be here for our day?  No time to show disappointment.  No time to argue the point.  NO!  I need to be here for Cheryl.

The strange unknown doctor describes the entire process.  “This is what a wash looks like”  THUMP THUMP THUMP   “Is this the same name and social security number”  THUMP THUMP THUMP  “There is going to be some pressure”  THUMP THUMP  “We wait just about three minutes”  THUMP  “Will you fill out this form while you two wait in here for 20 more minutes.”  THUMP THUMP  – Swoosh, Click.

Whoa… that’s it.  I could be a dad right now,  Oh my goodness, what all did he say, how can I help Cheryl?  What should I be doing right now?  Oh yeah the “survey”… so so so long.  No Cheryl that is why I am here.

Squeeck, scratch  mmmhp… the chair I am sitting in moves along the floor closer to Cheryl.

I stare into her soft blue eyes.  Her smile seems to glow in the low light room.  We sit exchanging smiles and short kisses.  The room seemed so sterile when we came in now seems to have a heavy heat of love and excitement.  This could be the moment.  Our lives could be changing.  We share 20 minutes in the moment of unified confident oneness.  Our hearts and souls where are ready together but in this instance that she shared, we could never take away.

The hum of Honda carried us home that late morning.  We were so excited, given directions that on April 11 we would know yes or no.  We listened again to the hum of our Honda twice more in the same way that we did on the March morning.  The chirping of butterflies and thumping of jackrabbits thundered the same way as they had.  We shared those same moments in that sterile examine room in unified confident oneness.  Our baby puzzle ended in negatives each time the same as the last months.  We continue on into July and August and September together with the confidence that we walk this journey together.

Appointment

Before the appointment thoughts:

This morning we woke up and decided to spend a few minutes out on the back porch. Anticipation of any upcoming event can cause some excitement, desire, fear, joy, really those butterflies. We sat with Marley and Curley and enjoyed the morning air. We sat down with a pen and a pad of paper to write down questions to ask our RE. The truly difficult thing is what can a couple really know to ask. We have only had one chance to meet directly with our RE and even with the list that we made that time I remember thinking afterwards that we knew a whole lot but still did not know everything we wanted to know.

We plan on asking about the complete process of IVF. What we should expect. What we will encounter. What procedures will come up. What types of diagnostic procedures will occur. I think we are looking for a timeline. With all of these questions I cannot say we will have a that full picture that we are looking for.

I think at the center at our questions is one thing. FEAR! We are in fear that we will do all of these things and have the same result as we have had. This emotion is validated, I believe. A good friend and priest told us as we were preparing for marriage, “every emotion experienced is a gift from God, it is not evil or bad, but an experience. Every emotion should be validated.” I think that our fear is not one of “we will not become parents” but rather the fear of let down and the unknown of how our parent story will happen. It is our journey and we know as much as we want something it happen in our own timing it is does not always occur on our designated schedule.

The above portion of this blog is being written before our appointment. We plan to write the next portion after we have a chance to ask the questions.

After the appointment thoughts :

Frustration : that was the first of many feelings which we experienced at our appointment today. Why? Lack of prior knowledge. When we arrived at our treatment facility we were hit with information that we did not expect and did not agree with. Once we straightened out the misunderstanding and miscommunication we were able to get back into “game plan” mode. One feeling that continues throughout this process is frustration because of a lack of knowledge. No matter how much investigation we do it seems that there is always a blind corner that we encounter.

Timeline : It looks like there will be a few diagnostic tests that we will be doing in July. At the first part of August the doctors will be “hitting the reset button” on Cheryl’s cycle. (the nurse’s words not ours) Mid August we will start the cycle with the end of August “pumping Cheryl up”, retrieval, and then implantation some time that first week in September. Obviously this is tentative and depends on other factors, but it is the basic timetable.

The big take away that we both have gotten from today is a renewed determination to be parents. After leaving the RE’s office we talked about our feelings and experiences. We talked about timing and “meant to-bes”. One quote from Cheryl was that she feels a draw or calling towards adoption with or without success in fertility. Nick shared the excitement of the timing of this fertility journey coinciding with our experiences with engaged couples.

So many things on the horizon and at the end, a feeling of both hope and of relief for the time being. We are now on to work with the Engaged Encounter couples in Tucson!

Intention – BFP in Perspective

BFP, for many in the fertility/infertility world this acronym stands for “big fat positive”.  Time indeed offers perspective.

Did you know that those nighty-nine cent stores sell pregnancy tests?  I bet more than one reader probably just laughed to themselves thinking about high school kids running to the dollar store buying a test or two.  (We buy five to seven a month) Teenagers are told that they don’t want that second red line (the cheaper versions have a simple red line, not a smiley face or “+” sign).  As a teenager we learn BFP… but it stands for something different “big fat problem”.  As adults we have found a new acronym for “big fat problem” and that is BFN or “big fat negative”. 

This morning I read on my face book page a comment “…all set and there is intention in my day. What is your intention today?”  No good happens without planning and this ever important idea “INTENTION”; however one cannot just have intention, one must also have perseverance.  Without determination and grit the intention will get run over by the stampeding bull known as life.  I too am “all set with intention in my day”, but I also know that even if I do not get what I want, what I intend that is not a reason to go off course of what I seek : our “Baby Puzzle”.

The cycle of procreation does not look like that of a Hollywood movie.  It is much more mundane and average, right?  The cycle goes something like – aunt flow for three to five days followed by romantic times for about a week to ten days and then about two weeks of waiting.  (Yeah I know if can be a whole lot more descriptive, but hey the topic of this post is the “intention” not the “action”).  We were married on November 5, 2005.  With some quick math we have gone through that described process about 80 times.  I guess not every month has been this way but I would say we have achieved BFP about 70 times – no not the “positive” but the “problem”.

As I mentioned in the last post, our RE suggested that we lose weight and that would cause use to achieve a BFP (positive) and as I said we have lost about 43% of our overall weight.  What are the serious options of losing weight?  Most people think “stop eating so much and exercise and it will happen”.  Most overweight people know that equation makes sense, but it hardly ever works.  The intention is there but the perseverance is difficult.  It is not as simple as I will only eat 900 calories for a year and lose a whole bunch of weight; even our bodies sabotage that process. 

Through our journey (intention) we sought many different ideas like joining the gym (5 different times), different cook books, HCG diet, and even considered doing the lap ban procedure.  In the end we chose a meal replacement plan which had an educational piece which has taught us healthy habits.  The most interesting thing through all of this has been the medical industry its self.  We have had as many as 6 different medical insurance plans tell us they would pay for us to have surgery to lose the weight, but not a cent for a meal replacement plan which taught us healthy habits.  Now we have had 4 medical insurance plans tell us they will run simple diagnostics in determining infertility, but have an exclusion list for treatment which is quite the extensive and detailed list.

I understand that health care is expensive and that insurance companies have a bottom line that they need to keep in the black.  Even with these intentions we have in mind it has taken more than just desire and want, but requires drive a determination.  On one end we had an insurance company refuse to help us be more health and the other end refuse help us conceive.  They do not have to pay for all of it, but it is beyond frustrating that there is no assistance for any of it.

As a reader you may be thinking “well if your only intention was to get assistance why not just do the surgery?” – which is an excellent point.  It was a course that we did consider.  In 2002 Nick’s mom had “gastric bypass surgery” and she was able to lose more than 100 pounds from this surgery.  You see in social setting a famous people like Al Roker who have had success with the procedure.  The success of more than 100 pounds lost was something to celebrate, but the flip side was Pat had violent reactions to certain foods and from 2002 to 2011 she saw a general decline of her health.  In the end we were more skeptical of a procedure like that.  Just this last month Cheryl made a comment about one of the hormones that she was taking and therefore buying.  “I am going to buy 10 days worth.  If I get a positive (BFP) then the insurance will cover prescription.”

A BFP for us would indeed be a “positive”.  We live each day with intention fortified with perseverance.

Tomorrow at 11am we will meet with our RE for the first time since March.  Much thanks for the support that you all show.  Please consider helping us complete our Baby Puzzle.Image

The Blame Game

The blame game, we all play it.

From a young age we are taught to be inquisitive.  There is a problem, how can it be fixed.  School aged children will tell you about the scientific method.  We make an educated guess and then test our assumptions, if the problem is fixed we think we know what the problem was and if it is not fixed we think we know what the problem wasn’t.  One plus one is two; two time two is four; four into four is one and so and so forth our universe exists logically, right?

I remember sitting in our oversized front room listening to a monsoon booming with lightning talking about our concerns in late July as we identified our problem – infertility – and so we started the scientific process.  We knew the end result (no pregnancy) of our “problem”, but we did not know a cause.  What could be wrong and how could we find out was our question so we sought out an expert resource, a gynecologist.  First round of inspections and test by our perceived expert turned up no new answers.  But no fear our expert suggested we seek out another expert or two.

These higher leveled experts had the name of a “natural pathic” doctor and an “endocrinologist”.  Time, energy and money spent with both of these super experts came up with a few general “problems” that could be “fixed”.  The “ND” (natural pathic doctor) suggested that perhaps Cheryl had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  The R.E. (endocrinologist) suggested that our weight was the main issue and that losing 10% of our weight would do the trick.

I started this blog with the idea of the “blame game”.  We now had two “answers” that placed “blame” on some part us as an individual and/or couple.  These “problems” became self-condemning and self-fulfilling.  Neither of us pointed the finger at the other sand said “you’re the culprit, you’re the problem”.  No, the biggest culprit of placing blame was not the partner but one’s self.  The feeling or responsibility can eat at one’s psyche.   The feeling of responsibility can make one feel alone, like they are the only person they know who has ever experienced something like this.  That blame game is not ever won because to win it would be to defeat yourself.

Since our initial meetings with the ND we have been shown that PCOS is indeed not our issue.  It was more of a hypothesis then a tested truth.  The ND wanted to give us an answer and we discovered that the answer is “no, no PCOS”.  Collectively since the summer /fall of 2006 we have lost more than 340 pounds together.  With pretty good certainty we have ruled out the “you weigh too much to get pregnant” theory.  In January of this year we tried a new R.E. who posed a new theory that perhaps Nick’s swimmers are less than adequate.  In recent months however that theory has also been proven to be less than accurate.

The big take away that we have received from “the blame game” is this; be comfortable with the person or team of people who are giving you fertility advice.  You are not to blame, he is not to blame, she is not to blame – the process is yours and yours alone.  Having people around you that you do not feel comfortable with, confident with, caring with will not help the process it will detract from it.  Because we approached the fertility issue from the beginning like it was a scientific hypothesis and not something bigger we felt we were stuck with what we had from the start.  Our RE today shared a piece of information that we had never know before; a healthy couple without “problems” only have a 12% chance of conception when they are procreating at the correct time in the cycle.  Even if you are doing everything at the right time it is not a “problem” it is a reality.

Today, seven years later we still have no answer to the “why”.  Hypothesis after hypothesis asked but no why.  As we go forward to our RE appointment this Friday we have to continue to live fertility – blame free.

“I bet you…

“I bet you two will be pregnant within six months”

These words were spoken to Cheryl and I on the evening of our wedding.  They were said in jest, almost challenging us to keep from making it happen.  Our friend was not wishing good or bad on us, just was taking the prospect of being a parent into a light of “its going to happen and it is going to happen soon”.  I remember the thought of being a parent at that time.  I did not shy away from it, but I can also say that I did not understand in the same way that I do today the hugeness of what it takes to be a parent.

Those first six months of marriage there were lots of transitions happening.  We were blending our homes.  We were blending our traditions.  We were blending our schedules.  We were blending our lives.  I had started my career, no longer a college student, but a productive member of the working class.  Cheryl had just moved to a new town, out of Sacramento into Reno.  On November 5th, we had so many new things happening for us.

And now “I bet you two will be pregnant within six months”.  That change meant that we were longer just a young married couple, but a young married couple who would be raising, nurturing and caring for a little one.  We both welcomed the idea of being parents, whenever it would happen.  December? January? February? March?

By March of 2006 Cheryl and I were seriously considering moving from Reno to Phoenix.  Advantage?  Move to Phoenix because much of our extended family were or had already moved there.  We liked the idea that our children’s grandparents could be close by.  Advantage?   More affordable housing.  By 2006 the housing prices in Reno had roamed higher than what we thought we could afford and we wanted a chance to be “home owners” for our future children.  It all fit into our “five year” plan.  Advantage?  Advancement in careers.  The job market in the Valley of the Sun is far more diverse than that of the Biggest Little City.  All three of these “Advantages” we felt were directly relating to this idea that “I bet you two will be pregnant within six month”.

The end of May rolled around and we moved to take ”advantage” of these new prospects.  We moved to a place felt had good opportunities to raise children close to the “in-laws”, in a personally owned home, and within a job market that we would give us a living to raise our children.  What were we missing?  The bet!

June rolled around, month #7 and we were not pregnant.  We made changes, we had foresight, we wanted children, but even with all of this planning and consideration that was not in the cards for Cheryl and I.  I remember the very first time that Cheryl went to a doctor to “check” on this was July of 2006.

“I bet you two will be pregnant within six months” .  If we had taken that bet we would have won, but we did not want to “win” that bet.

In the coming weeks we plan on sharing some of the situations and events that have happened in the last seven years.  We also plan to share some of the on-goings like a doctor’s visit this Friday.  Thank you to all for your thoughts and your support.

Our Story

About seven years ago, Nick and I decided that we were going to start our family.  We thought it would happen the first month.  I remember Nick and I being on vacation and talking about possible names for our new baby on the way home.  Needless to say, a year later, we were still not getting that positive pregnancy test.

We decided that it was time to visit a specialist.  So we found our first RE (Renal Endocrinologist or Fertility Specialist).  He spoke with us and due to our age (27 and 29 years old), he did not feel we would have any problems getting pregnant with his treatment plan.  At this time, we both weighed over 300 lbs each and were focused on trying to buy our first home.  We decided to keep trying on our own while we were saving for a down payment on our house.

We were successful with buying our new home and both of us landed new jobs with higher wages.  So as we were obtaining other goals, the process of starting a family was put on the back burner again with the lack of funds.

As the years went by, life continued to move on and changes in other areas of our life again took priority.  We prioritized school and both Nick and I finished our Master Degree program, but again delaying our goal of medically moving forward with fertility.

Then, as life has it, loss strikes our lives.  We suddenly lost Nick’s mom, our dog and ended up short selling our home all within a month of each other.  Nick and I were left with the feeling of loss at every level of our life.  We had worked so hard to accomplish our goals and our world was crashing down around us!

We took a step back in our life and realized that we were not accomplishing anything, we were simply existing in life.  So we went and visited with our original RE again.  He took our medical history and encouraged me to look at lap band surgery to lose weight before looking to get pregnant.  I got on the scale and weighed in at 425 lbs and Nick was at 340 lbs.  We decided that if we were going to be parents, the first step was to lose weight (but surgery was not an option for us as we did not think it would be the answer).

Ryan, my brother called me and told me that he was going to begin a program called Take Shape For Life (a weight loss program that involves coaching with a meal program).  We took the plunge and ordered our food.  Nick cleaned out our entire kitchen.  He donated all of our food and tossed the rest.  We dedicated ourself to the program.  The first week, I lost 16.4lbs.  About 18 months into the program, Nick was done and he weighed in at 195 lbs!  I weighed in at 250 lbs.  We decided that we would begin trying to get pregnant again with medical assistance.

As we moved forward in this direction, I also thought that seeing a naturopathic doctor would be helpful and I began acupuncture and massage for about 3 months.  Our friend Shannon Hunter came to visit us and had a candid conversation with us and asked us why we weren’t prioritizing this dream more in our life.  We listed to that conversation and after nothing was working on that end, we found a new RE and began the journey that has led us to where we are today.  We decided to sign up for a program that allows us 3 intrauterine Insemination (IUI) trys and if they are unsuccessful, then that money is put to one In vitro procedure.  We made the tough decision to take out a loan for $13,000.

To date, we have tried IUI three straight months and every month ended with disappointment.  We are now moving on to IVF.  We have our first appointment booked on Friday, June 21st where we will identify our plan over the next few months in prepration for IVF in August.  I am excited to write aobut our experiences moving forward with our journey.  More to come!

1st of Many….

We have so many people to thank in our lives.  The first of many thanks go out to three sets of people.

First is to my mom, Rebecca Sherman.  She has been in on the ground level with us through our fertility treatments.  She has made a significant sacrifice for us both and for her future grandchild.  She has the ability to sacrifice.  We are very, very grateful for what you have done, even without a return of approval or recognition (well I guess until now).

The second thanks goes to Rachel Salkin and her husband.  This is the couple who brought us this idea of the baby puzzle.  They know what it is like to struggle the same way that we have struggled.  We know that they will make great parents and are very thankful for sharing this idea with us.

The third is a very good friend, Shannon Hunter.  She left us with some very sound advice that there is never going to be a perfect time to make this jump.  She put the ideas of our others wants and needs into perspective that those things along with being a parent has to be placed in order of priority.[

From the inception of this idea, we have so many to thank.  Soon to come : our history — what we have done in the last seven years leading up to today… and later – our meeting with our R.E. as we get a better picture of the treatments to come.