Sept 29 – The Results are In

We went to our urologist appointment for our results. I was incredibly nervous about it. We even left early so we could wait at the office instead of at home.

The DNA fragmentation results were normal. Which is great. I was partially worried that our miscarriage was due to a quality issue with the sperm. So that was a big relief. Our miscarriage was just a miscarriage.

The blood work was mostly normal. Two of the tests were high, I think it was FSH and LH. They are the ones that regulate the production of sperm. So his brain is already telling the boys to step up production but they just can’t.

The semen analysis was about the same as before. Count was very, very low. Less than 1 million. Motility was good which is better than last time because it used to be low. Morphology couldn’t be measured due to low count.

Lastly the ultrasound showed he has a varicocele, grade 2. What that is, is an enlarged vein in the scrotum.

So what does this mean? Well the doctor said basically that clomid and vitamins wouldn’t help. His body is already trying to get the guys in line, they just can’t. We could try the varicocele surgery. It would involve going into the veins right above the scrotum and dropping a coil in it to get the blood flow to stop/reduced. They usually do the surgery on grade 3. They said it may or may not help. In general it can help. The doctor did say he does not believe it will bump our numbers enough to not have to do IVF. Which is kind of a bummer. It would be great if we could do IUI instead.

So basically we can try the surgery and it may or may not help. But it was nice to find out that we can still pursue IVF. We are deciding if we want to pursue these and IVF or just go straight to embryo adoption.

The surgery will be covered by our insurance. So that is at least good. They also want to do a TESE surgery during the varicocele one. TESE is where they take a few pieces of testicle with sperm to freeze. The doc said that for every 1 sperm ejaculated, there is 300 in the testicle. We could get better/more sperm from that procedure.

Hubby already said he is willing to try the surgery just to see if it will help. I think our plan is to try the surgery, see what it does to his numbers and then go from there.

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Sept 20 – Life Changes

o-RAINBOW-facebookIt’s been a while since I’ve written, waiting on our upcoming urologist appointment, but big changes have been happening. I recently was finally offered the position I applied for at my company this week. I start next month! They didn’t offer me what I wanted money-wise, but the future potential is greater than staying in my current position. I wanted a change. I didn’t want to be stuck. My goal was to get out of the current position within 3 years. Goal met!

In my new role, the hours will be longer and I will be required to travel twice a year. In light of this, I think we may not be able to foster anymore. Daycares by us are only open until 6pm. If I work until 6, that presents a problem. Travelling would leave my hubby alone to take care of the dogs and a baby. He is perfectly capable of doing that, but I don’t want to put him in that situation.

In addition I decided I have had enough of my mother and mother-in-law. We are no longer speaking with both. That’s right, both! I couldn’t take one more day of multiple texts from my mother complaining that she was “dying” when I spoke with her doctor the previous week and confirmed she was fine (the paperwork was on file for me to get her medical information – since I was executor to her will). This is the last time I am going to emotionally support her through another crisis that doesn’t exist. I am done!

I have been doing research on her mental illness and I am quite certain she is a narcissist. She is using medical illnesses as a way to manipulate and control all of us. My brother (yes the one who I haven’t spoken to in 2 years) cut my mom out earlier this year. She used to complain to me that he was a “cold fish” cutting his mother out like that. I used to try not to laugh because I was just waiting until my other brother was old enough that he didn’t need my monetary support anymore. He is now 16 and working. He can do what I did and pay for his own stuff. It’s not great but I have decided I am done taking care of my mother’s children.

Next week is our urology appointment and I am anxiously awaiting the results. I saw a onesie in Target this week that had a rainbow on it and said “oh hello there rainbow.” I bought it. I kind of took it as a sign from the universe that maybe, just maybe, we will get a rainbow baby at some point (a baby that comes after miscarrying a baby). Maybe I am just being optimistic. But I am in a great “getting-rid-of-junk-in-my-life” place. After cutting my toxic mom out, I am feeling better. Not perfect, guilt is a little in there, but I am free to do whatever I want without her voice in my head.

I’ll let you all know how the results pan out! Wish us luck!

 

August 2 – Halfway through Tests

153741144While trying to figure out our next steps we are doing some urological tests for my hubby. So far we did one where they will be checking his dna fragmentation in his semen. That one was an easy one for him. But it was not so much fun for me. The non-glamorous side of infertility. My hunny, um did his deed, into a cup. Then he went to work. I had to wait for an hour for it to liquefy. Then I had to use a dropper to distribute it between two vials. Then I had to wait for the dry ice shipment. I put everything in the dry ice shipper and then had to return ASAP to a FedEx that accepts hazardous matters. Closest one was twenty minutes away at the airport.

Next test put my hubby in a not so great mood. It was a ultrasound of his testicles. That was uncomfortable and they only had a female on staff. He was in a pretty crabby mood the rest of the day. I tried to gently remind him of all the stuff I had gone through, but I think it was more of a pride thing than actual discomfort.

We still have to go to our RE to do the regular semen analysis. Then the blood work. We are about a month and a half from our follow up appointment with the urologist. I really don’t know what to expect. I guess I was hoping for some magic bullet or miracle fix. Anything to avoid more IVF.

If the result is bad news, such as the fragmentation is high and not good, we might just switch over to embryo adoption. Our clinic does an in house program that is anonymous for it, which is ideal.

As far as fostering our bed is still on hold since I have not yet heard back on the new job I applies for. Two and a half months after applying, two interviews in, and they tell me interviewing stalled and it is just starting back up. UGH!

 

July 20th – Vivid Dream

Before bed I wanted to be what I call an emotional cutter and pee on a stick. For some reason I was really hopeful we were pregnant. We did it during the right time. My hubby has been choking down those vitamins I was making him take. We were on vacation during ovulation. I don’t know why, but I was dumbly optimistic. I thought the test was a dud, it took so long for the test line to show up. It was negative.

Earlier this week one of my co-workers who has infertility and recurrent miscarriages had her 6 week ultrasound because she had gotten pregnant off her latest IUI. I am so happy for her but she is so nervous (rightfully so, I would be a wreck with 5 miscarriages under my belt). Since I am the only person other than her hubby to know what is going on she talks to me about it a lot. Which is an honor, but also really tough on me.

Anywho, so last night I had a really vivid dream. I dreamed I peed on a stick and it did have two lines. I was so excited. I told my hubby that I just knew the vitamins would work. I started getting ready for work and I texted my co-worker who is pregnant about our positive test (because I should be able to share it with someone after all). Shortly after the alarm started to go off. I got up to pee on the other stick (again dumbly optimistic). And then I wiped, sorry I know TMI, and my period had started. A bit early considering this year’s track record. It was just deflating since I was still coming off my vivid dream’s high of seeing pink lines.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a great mood kind of day. Then I get a call from a local number I don’t know. They leave a voicemail. It is from the social worker (the lawyer assistant) from our first foster kid trying to schedule a meeting to see them before court! I called back and I was probably more annoyed than I meant to be. I explained that the kid hadn’t been with us in almost a year and she was pretty quick to hang up.

This frustrated me greatly. This is the kid’s lawyer. They are supposed to know what is going on with them! And they don’t even know that they are not with me anymore!

Yesterday someone decided to tag me in a video on Facebook. More unsolicited advice. It was a video about infertile people who couldn’t have kids even with treatment who were on the waiting list to adopt. They got a call about a kiddo with down syndrome. The people didn’t think they wanted to do it, blah blah. Then they felt they should, and did. Then they adopted two more. It is a nice heartwarming video BUT I feel like the intention of tagging me in it was to say you should do this. It is basically saying you should adopt. Not only that, but you should adopt kid’s with downs. I am not saying either way whether I want to or not. That’s not the point. The point is they are telling us how to treat our disease. Not every solution works for every family. It is so rude to suggest how to grow one’s family. That is SUCH a personal decision. Drives me nuts.

ok, rant over! I just wish sometimes people would mind their own business. I know that opening up and sharing our story to help others who suffer in silence opens us up to unsolicited advice and opinions, but I wish it didn’t.

July 13 – Urologist Appointment

Last week we were on vacation so we had decided to go to a urologist, since we have male factor and they didn’t run any real tests on my hubby at the RE when we were doing IVF.

I have been making my hubby take excessive amounts of vitamins for a month and a half to see if it impacted his analysis. Much to our surprise they didn’t run a single test. They farm out everything. Although they did do a, ahem, visual inspection and, ahem, a prostrate feeling inspection (much to my husband’s dismay). He was not too pleased with having the doctor’s finger up his bum. I spent the rest of the day trying to cheer him up LOL. But every time he complained I brought up another invasive procedure I had done during IVF and that seemed to stop the whining.

So we were sent home with several referrals. Four tests in total. One is a regular semen analysis they want us to go to our RE for. Second is an ultrasound of the scrotum (that sounds fun). Third is blood work checking hormones and such. Fourth is a sperm DNA test.

I scheduled the ultrasound for later this month (thankfully they are open on Saturdays). The DNA test is going to be interesting. The company is out of Massachusetts so they overnight a kit to you. You get a second overnight delivery of dry ice on your chosen collection day. Then the guy goes in a cup, lets it sit for an hour, then uses a dropper to move it to two vials. Put in the dry ice box and return it overnight to the company. Phew. Plus they only do the collection days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. So the only way that works is by him doing his ‘business’ in the morning before work, me working from home to let it sit an hour. Me putting the sample into the two vials. Waiting for the dry ice delivery (around 10:30am) and then getting my butt to the FEDEX that accepts hazardous materials (because of the dry ice). Oh vey.

The blood test will be easy, there is a location literally across the street. The only tricky part of they are only open 8-4 Monday through Friday and most days that is not going to work for us. His work gives him a hard time about getting time off (they argued with him when he needed to get off two hours early to get a CT scan because they were worried he might have thyroid cancer).

The semen analysis at our RE poses the same issue as the blood work, their hours. Plus they are about 40 minutes away from us.

Nevertheless we will get these all done! Is it weird that I am excited about this? I mean I know nothing is actually happening but it feels like progress. Even if they say his sperm is not able to produce children it will be good to hear news. Then we can move on to embryo adoption (we are a both of us or neither of us DNA wise couple. Not an easy decision and not good for everyone). Embryo adoption is 10k versus the 15k but if it has a better chance then I am all for it. But I don’t want to do that until I hear for sure that we can’t have our own kids. Just because we miscarried doesn’t mean we can’t have our own kids. Miscarriage is pretty common, and we may have just hit bad odds.

On a side note, if you are going to watch “Vegas Baby” which is a documentary on Netflix right now, watch it with tissues. It is about IVF and IVF contests and how degrading they can be. I bawled the ENTIRE movie. One of the couples had a very similar story to us and it really hit home.

anamaria_class

July 4th- Independence Day

It’s Independence Day here in America. A day for families to get together and celebrate the freedom of our country. Families. There is that word again. If you are infertile you can’t escape it. It follows you everywhere, like a dark cloud.

My brother in law is visiting this week and asked us if we had a foster kid. We haven’t gone back on the list since our last little left us due to my interviewing for a new position at work. I didn’t want to try and find a last minute sitter. I informed him we didn’t.

I wish our families weren’t so messed up. A week of struggling with my mother’s hypochondriac-ness again. She texted/called me 15 times in 4 hours, while I was AT WORK. She claimed to have liver failure. Then my father had a health scare this week (prostate cancer biopsy) to which my mother misinterpreted the results and started telling everyone my dad has cancer. I had to spend days talking to everyone in the family to clarify that was not the case.

My mother-in-law hasn’t spoken to us since telling us we were mean and scary people right before mother’s day. But she felt the need to suddenly take herself off the family cell phone plan and then proceed to apologize and say she wanted to mend the broken bond.

One reason I keep my phone on silent overnight is because my little sister used to drunk call me on her college campus and then hang up on me and I couldn’t get ahold of her for a few days after. She was texting me at 4 in the morning last night because she couldn’t get ahold of my mother. What am I going to do from across the country?!

Sometimes I wonder if this is the reason we don’t have kids. The crazy can only be shielded so much from a kid. But I know this is not our fault. I laid in the nursery watching the ceiling fan go round and round. I couldn’t help but wonder, should I sell all the baby stuff and clean out the room? Do we continue to foster if I don’t get this new position at work?

I knew I was slightly depressed, but I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me. This week we have had one or two activities planned each day and I am so exhausted. I have been sleeping 9-10 hours and sometimes taking a couple hour nap. Clearly I am not used to being up and about. Playing video games is almost a perfect cover for depression. I don’t have to think about anything and I don’t have to move.

I started getting back to the gym this week to try and combat my mood. Eating healthier hasn’t really been happening. Seems I can’t get the energy to manage both food and activity. Hopefully someday I will break out of this funk permanently.

I am not looking forward to go out and watch fireworks tonight. Surrounded by families. All happy. Little kids running around with sparklers. Parents chasing them as the kids squeal little happy giggles. Can I just go back to bed?

Thursday we have an appointment with a urologist. I have been forcing the hubs to take a ridiculous number of pills to see if it improves his count. At this point I am willing to do anything that doesn’t cost 15 thousand dollars. I am hoping against hope that there is something we can do.

Have a safe holiday everyone!

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June 19 – Realization

This week my hubby’s best friend got engaged. A year and half ago his best friend had come out for his little sister’s wedding. He was a mess. His second marriage was falling apart. He was medicated with Xanax. I felt for the guy. He was a train wreck. We were still grieving our baby. We kind of connected over our grief.

Fast forward to this month. He is doing well, he is happy. He is getting remarried. And I feel like we are still stuck in the grief cycle. I have been trying desperately to get out of it. I have a good day, then backslide for a few. Some days it feels like I am stuck in molasses. Doing any chores is a drain. Other days it feels like I could do a million things. So that is progress. It used to be more bad days than good. Now it is about half and half. I suppose some day it will be more good than bad.

It just kind of struck me that two years and some ago I was completely changed as a person. You always hear people say it but I never really thought it was true. I always thought it was a cliché. I looked in the mirror and I was so different. I have tattoos, blue hair, my heart has changed. I am never going to be the happy carefree person I once was. It is an adjustment. I am just glad my husband and I didn’t grow apart during this change.

I am still getting used to this new me. A very different person than I was. Infertility will change you. Don’t let anyone every tell you otherwise.

shedding-skin

 

 

June 13 – Topsy Turvy World

Last week we went from having a bundle of joy to losing hope on affording IVF. We had applied for a grant and we got the rejection email on Thursday.

Right now I am an emotional mess. Fostering has it ups and downs. Every time a placement leaves, it hurts my heart. Especially when they imply you might be able to keep one. It is hard when you lose hope of ever having a child.

We can’t afford adoption. Fostering breaks my heart. IVF is just so expensive. What if we don’t end up with kids? Do I need to start grieving the fact that we may end up childless?

I have been trying everything. So many different different avenues. I have tried to get coverage at work (4 times in 2 years). We have tried fostering with hopes of adopting and never even got close to having a kid long enough to even really having that a possibility. The cheapest place we found for adoption was sixteen thousand and they went under! We have done 2 IVF rounds with a miscarriage. Tried to win a grant for another try at IVF. When does the heart ache stop? When will we actually get our turn?

Sorry for the really depressing post, I am just really struggling this week. I’ve been exhausted, sleep- deprived and just going through a lot. Hoping you are doing better than me.

topsy turvy

June 4th – New Placement

getty_rf_photo_of_baby_bottle_and_diapers

Well I think I jinxed myself LOL. I told my boss we were back on the list Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and my week long staycation, and I jokingly said “watch we will get a placement Friday and it will change all my vacation plans.” That is exactly what happened. Not that I had anything special planned: gym, video games, painting my nails, going to see Wonder Woman. Nothing fancy. Well Friday morning we got a call for the kiddo we have now.

So my week has been spent changing diapers, midnight feedings and endless meetings. One of the things they never tell you about fostering is how many fucking pointless meetings you have, every single month. The first two weeks are the worst. You get seen by your licensing worker, pediatrician, the behavioral health people initial meeting and then the referral to actual behavioral health people, the kid’s lawyer, and then visits if the parents have rights. That is a lot of meetings when you are still trying to get into the swing of the new kiddo and their routine, personality and such.

Our kiddo was not named by the parent before being taken into custody so we had a unique situation with us. The case manager told us we could pick something out to call the kiddo instead of what the state puts on the paperwork, which is “baby girl” or “baby boy” when they don’t have a name. Saddest thing ever. I went through the baby name book, picked out about 20 names I liked and then ran them past my hubby when he got home from work. We landed on one and are using it now. We haven’t been able to name a kiddo before so that was new.

We are still adjusting to having a baby again. Since I was on vacation last week I did all the overnight stuff too. Hubbs helped out on the weekend so I could finally get more than 3 hours in a row.

Our licensing worker (the person we work with through our agency) brought some people with them for our meeting this week, and it was uncomfortable having three people asking me questions. One of them was of course, pregnant. Now it is strange, I can be standing there with a baby in my arms and still feel the dread of having to talk with a pregnant woman. She stood there asking questions, rubbing her belly and I just wanted to slink away. Fostering is hard because people don’t view us as “real parents.”

I had read another blog article that described it perfectly. We are completely unseen by other parents. People even ignore me when I give advice on their Facebook posts. It makes us feel even more isolated. We are struggling through parenting issues, foster care related issues and suffering from infertility, all while being shunned by other parents. Trying to figure out whether a newborn is suffering from withdrawal symptoms or regular baby issues. My hubby said that we might even have it harder than most parents (not including those poor souls with colicky babies) and yet completely ignored.

Anyway, enough with that. This week was also the week of our 16 year anniversary. I can’t believe we have been married that long! Doesn’t feel like it. We managed to get our neighbor to babysit so we could go out for a couple of hours just the two of us. That was nice.

Tomorrow is back to reality. Sleep deprivation and working. Going to be loads of fun! Still waiting to hear back from HR, the possible new job, and the grant application for IVF. Have a great week!

May 26 – Infertility Benefits at Work

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So today was the self-imposed deadline on my coworkers and myself to email the HR partner in charge in health care and benefits at my work. I wrote another 2 page letter, and had 5 associates at my work who also wrote 1-2 page letters. I am hoping this gets more of a response than the last three times I submitted information.

I know it is a long shot and they will continue to try to silence us but I think maybe by the time I retire I might have affected some change. All I can do is continue to try and gain support from my fellow associates who have gone through the same process. Here is a copy of the letter (minus the company name):

May 12, 2017

To Whom It May Concern,

It is the time of year where I once again put forth my request for the ******** Medical Review Committee to consider adding infertility coverage, including treatments.

As you may remember from my previous letters, one in eight (12.5%) suffers from infertility. About one-third is due to men issues, one-third women issues, twenty percent unexplained and the remaining is a combination of both male and female issues. This disease reaches across both genders (1). That is a tremendous number of associates here at ******* that suffer – almost silently – from this emotionally difficult disease.

This year during National Infertility Awareness Week (April 23-29, 2017) Resolve’s theme was “Listen Up” (Resolve is a non-profit infertility advocacy organization). As a firm we need to listen up! Listen to what our employees are asking for. Listen to the competitors offering coverage to attract a more diverse workforce. Listen to the mandates as each year more and more states are requiring coverage.  There are now 15 states that mandate infertility coverage and the recently passed Federal mandate requiring IVF to be covered by the Veteran’s Affairs (12).

Other firms that offer infertility treatment coverage (5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

Investment/Advisor Firms Travel
Bank of America Accenture Southwest Airlines Uber
Morgan Stanley JP Morgan Chase Online Retailers
BlackRock Fidelity Wayfair Amazon
Goldman Sachs Deutsche Bank Credit Cards
M&T Bank TD American Express Mastercard
Broadridge Financial Citi Retailers
Boston Consulting Group   Godiva Nike
Insurance/Audit/Accounting Firms Dick’s Sporting Goods Chanel
MetLife Ernst & Young Starbucks Ralph Lauren
Barclays Deloitte PepsiCo  
Bloomberg Bain & Company Entertainment
Technology Disney NBC
Intel IBM Discovery Fox
Apple Microsoft Pharmaceuticals
Google Spotify Merck Pfizer
Cisco Systems Facebook Bayer Johnson and Johnson

That is a pretty long list, albeit only a partial list. But if you notice there are competitors offering the coverages that we do not (Fidelity, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group, JP Morgan Chase, Broadridge Financial Services, TD, Accenture and Citi, M&T Bank). There are also firms that closely align to our industry offering coverages (MetLife, Ernst &Young, Deloitte, Bloomberg, Barclays and Bain & Company).

Why do these firms offer coverage when it is not mandated? Cisco says “fertility benefits — $15,000 lifetime maximum for medical treatment and $10,000 for drugs — are offered simply because it’s ‘the right thing to do,’” (8). Intel states “offering the benefit is part of the company’s commitment to being diverse, inclusive and supportive of the employees” (8). Southwest Airlines shares “‘If we have happy employees, we will have happy customers and, subsequently, happy shareholders,’… ‘Fertility benefits have value to employees. While fertility benefits aren’t something all employees need, the impact this benefit can have on an employee’s life is immeasurable'” (8). These companies are ahead of the curve. These companies feel it is the right thing to do. These companies want happy employees. Don’t we want the same things for our employees?

As a firm we support other noble causes, such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Juvenile Diabetes.  Autism affects one in sixty-eight children or 1.47% (2). Alzheimer’s affects one in ten adults over the age of 65, or 10% of people over 65 (3). For Juvenile Diabetes, if both parents have type 1 the odds are on one in ten to one in four, 10% to 25% (4). These are all terrible conditions, but if we look strictly at numbers they impact less people than infertility does. And yet, it is not being mentioned. It is not being talked about. Why?

We need to stop sweeping the taboo of infertility under the rug. With such a large percentage of people experiencing the emotional rollercoaster of this disease, we need to stand up and face it head on. We need to help out our fellow associates. According to Harvard “for patients who do not have insurance coverage or the means to pay for treatment, not being able to obtain treatment may contribute to feeling helpless and hopeless” (10). Just having infertility is stressful enough. Per Psychology Today “the stress levels of women with infertility are equivalent to women with cancer, AIDS or heart disease” (11) and that is before trying to figure out how to pay for it! Let’s relieve some of that burden; take some of that stress and heartache away from our associates.

You may recall receiving several SUGGs requesting infertility coverage all within a week’s time frame last year. That was in response to a request in my department asking people to stand with me. In a department of 45 people, 14 submitted requests. That is a 30 percent response from my one appeal. Imagine how many people would support it if it went firm wide? We are underestimating how many people would support adding this coverage.

I appreciate you taking the time to consider this important request.

Thank you,

****** **********

Sources

1 – https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/infertility.html

2 – http://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/how-common-is-autism/

3 – http://www.alz.org/facts/

4 – http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html?loc=db-slabnav

5 – http://fortune.com/2016/11/15/fertilityiq-rankings/

6- http://www.whattoexpect.com/forums/fertility-treatments/topic/jobs-with-infertility-coverage-51.html

7 – https://www.inciid.org/companies-that-may-offer-infertility-benefits

8 – http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20160117/NEWS03/160119856/Fertility-treatment-costs-scare-off-employers,-but-those-who-offer-coverage-to-e

9 – https://www.fertilityiq.com/cost/2016-best-companies-to-work-for-as-a-fertility-patient-corporate-fertility-benefits-rankings

10- http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The-psychological-impact-of-infertility-and-its-treatment

11- https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-youre-not-expecting/201008/new-research-stress-and-infertility

12- http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/09/prweb13724262.htm