Chris #FlipsTheScript

Infertility isn’t just a woman’s issue, it’s a man’s issue and it’s a couple’s issue.  So when I asked Chris to do this interview he said ‘sure’, but he later let on that he was actually anxious about it.  Even though our story is here on this blog, he finds it hard to still talk about.  So I am very proud of him for pushing through his fears to tell you his story.

Chris, my husband, is here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s his story…

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First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

You know a lot about my partner, Dani, this is her blog!!!  But you probably don’t know how we met.  We met at a work event, Dani was organizing a conference and I was a guest presenter.  Although she will swear blind that I wasn’t a presenter, potentially because the amount of wine we had drunk the night before fogging her memory.  We got along very well…the wine may or many not have been a factor.  We married in 2012 and moved from the Cotswolds, UK to Virginia, USA, 6 months later, where we still live today.

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When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

I married Dani thinking that we probably wouldn’t be able to have kids.  It wasn’t a surprise.  But I loved her enough that it didn’t matter.  So finding out we were infertile was more of a confirmation of a strongly held suspicion.  Mind you, we did have a go at it naturally for a year before hand.  It never really felt like a diagnosis of infertility, instead it was an increasing realization of infertility over time.  The failures added up after repeated unsuccessful attempts, we never had a diagnosis – it was just unexplained infertility.  This changed how I felt going into each round of treatment.  The first round of treatment, an IUI, was exciting, we went in full of hope… but by the sixth treatment- our third IVF- each cycle was no longer exciting.  It filled me with a sense of dread, and I went into it wishing it was over before it started.  Some of this was my own personal journey and some of this feeling was because it hurts to see the person that you love go through the physical pain and hurt with all the drugs, surgeries and hormones.

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Where are you on your infertility journey now?

I don’t know.  While that may sound like a strange answer, I don’t know if our journey is over or not.  Is infertility ever really over?  The great news, the wonderful news, is that our sixth round of treatment, our 3rd IVF cycle, was successful and we now have a 16 month old daughter, Aviana.  The reason I am not sure if the journey is over has two parts.  The first is the question of whether we can have a second child, and in part do we want to have a second child, knowing full well the challenges and stress we experienced to conceive Aviana the first time.  The second is that I will always have a nagging question in the back of my mind about whether Aviana is destined to follow the same path as us.  By using science to overcome our infertility challenges, do we pass on our ‘duff parts’ to our future children? So our infertility journey may continue into the quest for grandparent hood.  But having experienced all that we have,  I will never pressure Aviana into having a family.

Oh, and we have one frozen embryo from our first IVF cycle.  Every month we get the $60 bill for the storage of it, a constant reminder of both hope, and the potential for disappointment.  We don’t know what we will do next.

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Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

This was the hardest thing we have ever done. At times through our journey I felt a small amount of hate towards Dani for what felt like forcing me to go on to the next cycle, and I also hated myself for not having the strength to immediately, and willingly, support her.  I thought long and hard before making these statements but we spend so long and so much effort hiding our feelings, experiences and the challenges of infertility that we often put a positive slant on the pain, therefore this is my honest answer, although I must confess it is uncomfortable to say out loud.

The good news is that despite these low points throughout our journey we became closer. It has brought us closer together because:

  1. You have to be close to stab your partner with 200 + needles. Nothing says togetherness like shoving a 2.5inch needle into someone’s body.
  2. You have to be forgiving when being stabbed by your partner (thanks Dani, sorry for the mistakes).

The only way we got through it was as a team. We talked a little and often, we talked in the shower, we talked in the car, we could stop and start the conversations as either one of us felt willing.   Being open, truly open, about how we felt meant being vulnerable and at times brutally honest.  After being so vulnerable and so open, I now feel a level of comfort, closeness and companionship that was more than we had before.

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

We are very fortunate, we are among the few who have infertility treatment as part of our healthcare coverage in the US.  The majority of our costs were covered by Dani’s insurance and yet we still had to plan and budget for the portion we had to cover.  I’m amazed at those who are forced to self-pay for IUI and IVF treatments because it adds another level of stress to infertility that we didn’t have to deal with.

How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

In the early part of our journey we tried many things to help improve our chances.  We cut out alcohol, we cut out sugar (all good advice that come from ‘It starts with the egg’).  These two acts by themselves served to improve our general well-being and we made a concerted effort to do more exercise.

To be honest, as the journey went on I cared a little bit less about my physical health and focused more on my mental health.   Our first IVF ended in a suspected ectopic pregnancy, leading to us having to terminate the pregnancy of unknown location with the drug methotrexate.   Because methotrexate is to toxic we were not allowed to conceive for at least 3 months after.  After our second IVF failed and as we began our third cycle I began to hate the process, hate the ever present doubt, dread and stress. This was the lowest point for me and where our relationship was most challenged. I didn’t want to do it again, I didn’t want Dani to hurt again and I didn’t want to hurt any more either.  On top of all that, Dani was caught in the Brussels terrorist attack at the airport and was blown up, I didn’t take care of my mental health.  I wanted it all to be over with.  We knew that it would be our last attempt, there was so much pressure.  I don’t know what would have happened if we didn’t get that positive result or we had another loss.  I don’t want to think about it.

How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?  

Overall friends and family have been awesome.  Everyone was supportive, many people asked how they could help.  The flip side of this, which many people going through infertility have probably experienced, is the good intention, but totally uninformed advice and suggestions.  ‘Just Relax’.  ‘My friends tried this…’ ‘Have you tried herbal tea…’ At one point we had received so much of this “advice” that Dani and I started writing a book as a guide for friends and family for what not to do and how to better support loved ones going through infertility.  This is not a criticism, this is a statement of fact, and weeks like this infertility awareness week and #FlipTheScript are part of an ongoing process to educate, inform and raise awareness so that more people know about the challenges faced by 1 in 8 couples. Their good intentions and enormous support and generosity can be coupled with better information so they can truly support the people they love as they go through this truly shitty experience.

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

I can’t and won’t pick one point in this journey.  To do so would diminish all the other moments.  Every part of this journey is difficult.  This whole experience has a price, not just a  ‘$ price’, but an emotional price that we pay for every minute and every day in our struggle to conceive.  Low points come in many forms, the most obvious is the doctor saying we are not pregnant.  The less obvious come when you are sat in a café and look up to see a family enjoying time together, it is just another reminder of what we don’t have.  And in that moment that’s a low point.  As with all journeys there are twists and turns, highs and lows and the journey is different for each of us.  There were some very low points for me, but I’m not comfortable sharing them specifically.  (you may be able to guess some of them from my previous answers 😦 ).

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

None. I don’t think any advice I could give now would change how I felt then.  We had so much advice from so many people, much of it good, some of it not, some of it just plain weird, but when it came to it, what really mattered was how Dani and I felt in any moment and how we handled that together.

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility.  Looking around you on a train, in a café, at you work place and realise that as many people are affected by infertility as they are breast cancer.  Charities and support groups have done a great job of raising awareness about cancers like breast cancer….we need to do better to raise awareness of infertility. Talk about it.  Help raise awareness.  Get more research funded.  Help us to bring this topic out from the shadows.  Play a role in removing the stigma from infertility.

Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

One final thought, infertility can create some surreal moments that can be laughed about after the fact. For example, there is nothing quite like sitting in an open waiting room at a hospital holding a test tube containing a bright pink sample of your sperm.

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Chris (and me if you like too!!!) 🙂

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Kelly #FlipsTheScript

Kelly opens up today about donor eggs and the challenges of secondary infertility.  She is currently in the midst of her journey so I am so humbled that she was willing to share her story for this important week.  Kelly worked with my husband Chris, it can be scary to talk about infertility with work colleagues, but it is amazing  how many people around you have probably been affected by the disease that is infertility.  It does affect us at work, it’s always there, you can’t put it aside, and yet no one can see it – it’s silent.  Let’s break that silence.

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Kelly is here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s her story…

First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

Brad and I met at a Warrior Dash mud run. I was with my girlfriend and her husband and he was with his friend. I had noticed him at the merchandise tent and he had apparently noticed me at the finish line jumping over the flaming logs and flinging myself into the mud! He managed to find his way to where we were standing and strategically placed himself next to me. The band started and we kind of had a conversation…it was very loud. Then he left to get beer and my friends decided it was time to go, so we left. On the way out they convinced me to go back and give him my phone number and of course give a shameless plug for our roller derby league. I found him in the beer line, walked up to him and said, “I don’t normally do this…but this is my number if you’d like to call me or maybe if you need a partner to run another race and I play roller derby if you’re ever interested. My name is Kelly, what’s yours?” He looked up at me, took the piece of paper, and responded “Kelly. Uh, I mean Brad.” I told him it was nice to meet him, made a comment about his OU hat and left. He called me the following Tuesday and we’ve been together ever since…going on 6 years.

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When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

I’ve struggled with fertility, since always. I have a seventeen year old, but she was hard to come by and I think only came about due to very good timing. Now that I’m older and my partner and I have been together for quite some time, without even an oops how did that happen, we decided to have things checked out. That, and I was 41 when we started seeing fertility specialists. We went through several IUI’s that did not take and once fertility specialists we had seen pretty much said out of the gate my eggs were too old and I should seek donor eggs.

Where are you on your infertility journey now?

We are working through the donor egg process now. We have a donor and we’re in the whole cycle alignment process, but things are moving along fairly well and in less than a month we should be undergoing IVF.

Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

Not in a negative way. I think it has brought us closer in some ways.

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

The financial perspective is completely different. Fertility treatment ain’t cheap!! When we started the process everything was out of pocket because I did not have insurance that would cover any part of it. Now we have new insurance and they cover a portion. Insurance will not cover the donor portion, so we’ve been setting aside savings, tax returns, bonuses, etc., so we don’t have to break the bank. We are still unsure what our portion of the costs will be, but hopefully our hard earned savings should cover most of the donor costs.

How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

I try to work out on a regular basis. We get up in the morning and take the dogs for a 30 minute walk and then I walk them again in the evening. I have a PIYO DVD that I really enjoy and we have a home gym. I have a whole slew of vitamins that I take every day and due to other health related issues, I’m on an Autoimmune Paleo Diet. I’m very specific about my meats and purchase from a local butcher who only sells organic meats. I purchase no hormone/antibiotic/free range/organic as much as I can from the grocer or the farmers market. We also grow our own vegetables, so I try to eat fresh as much as possible. I quit drinking all together, but have partaken on several occasions after we realized we would not be able to use my eggs – I try to keep it to a minimal. I also cut out the caffeine.

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How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?  

My friends and family are great about things. My dad does tease me about my age and questions if all my oars are in the water, but it’s more from a place of jest than being serious. I’ve not had many negative experiences. I would say the one negative experience that stands out to me was actually how one of the fertility specialists communicated to me that my eggs were not of good quality and I should just skip to the donor eggs. She was very compassionate, but I was not ready to hear that message at the time and in my mind it was very premature. Needless to say, we are not working with that fertility specialist any longer.

My former boss and his wife have been supportive and have provided insights on their experiences, which has been helpful 🙂

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

I think the hardest part was finally accepting that I was not going to be able to use my own eggs for this pregnancy and really opening my heart and mind to using donor eggs. My biggest fear, even though I do not believe it will ever be realized, is something going wrong in my relationship with my partner and he would have (in my mind) greater claim to our child since it would be his biological DNA and not mine. My other fear is having the child that I carried and bonded with as their birth mother wanting to seek out the donor.

One of the things that has helped me get over the second fear is my girlfriend. She’s adopted and while she has sought out her biological parents, she remains very close to her adoptive parents and maintains that bond. I found this to be very reassuring.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Freeze your eggs!! I’ve always wanted more children and I wish that I would have retrieved some of my eggs and preserved them for when the time was right to try again.

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

Be supportive of friends and family who are going through an infertility journey! It’s not easy and we need your support through this.

Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Don’t forget to unplug. I am the worst about playing Dr. Google and looking at every symptom to find what it correlates to…you end up working yourself into a panicked frenzy. If you and your partner are going through fertility treatments, take it easy on yourself and your partner. Panicking over every symptom or every Google search result does not help anyone.

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Kelly & Brad 🙂

Candace and Chris #FlipTheScript

I have no idea where Candace & Chris get their strength from, they have been through hell and back, and back again…and again.  Candace is our local Resolve infertility support group leader, she has helped me and so many, many others in our community survive at our lowest moments. 

Candace and Chris are here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s their story…

First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

Chris:  It turns out that we met in college … FYI college relationships can work.  We were both working at a restaurant.  We both went to a colleges close to each other. Candace likes to say that she is a way bigger college football fan than I am, that is probably true.  I was a cook and Candace didn’t know my name for the first year we worked together.  We started dating thanks to a school bus hitting Candace’s car.  She missed several weeks of work and I asked where she had been when she came back.  Once we started talking, we realized how similarly we saw things and, clearly she was immediately smitten. Plus I had sweet dance moves. It was probably the dance moves that roped her in.

Cue wedding bells, doves and white picket fences.

When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

Chris: We always kind of had an idea that we weren’t going to be overburdened with abundant fertility.  We had prophylactic mishaps and similar situations that resulted in no unplanned pregnancies.  We tried to get pregnant for about a year to no avail.  After that, we started getting serious with ovulation kits, various Olympic-level feats of post-coitus positioning to improve the change of pregnancy, still nothing.  That is when we decided it was time to seek professional help and started with Candace’s OBGYN.  After calling on that doctor several times, we had a “getting to know you” meeting with our eventual RE at the infamous Jones Institute.

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Where are you on your infertility journey now?

Chris:  Well, we have gone through years of fertility treatments including 6 rounds of IUIs, IVFs, and IOUs with no success. Candace actually had precancerous cells detected in her uterus requiring a partial hysterectomy.  We had 2 frozen blastocysts left after the surgery and our “Wonder Surro” said she would carry for us.  We were terrified on the day of that transfer but, after 9 stress-filled months, welcomed our daughter.

(Here is a link to Candace and Chris’s amazing video of how their daughter came into their lives -**trigger warning** – and you will also need some tissues)

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Now, we find ourselves in limbo yet again.

We had another gestational carrier come to us out of the blue and offer to carry a sibling for us!  Contracts signed, psych evals completed, Candace drugged, stimmed, and extracted, I did my part with my plastic passion cup to provide a sample, blastocysts grown and frozen + PGS tested per request of our gestational carrier… then out of the blue and only a few days prior to CD1 to transfer, she backed out.  We don’t have the faintest idea how we will move forward and we have 3 amazing, genetically screened and given a grade A health, ready to give life a try.  But, they have nowhere to attempt that reality. We are just now picking up the emotional and financial pieces.

Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

Chris: Absolutely.  It has changed how Candace and I interact in different ways at different stages of our infertility journey.  When we were trying to conceive, everything was for a purpose.  Passion, romance, and intimacy had to wait outside the door.  It was clinical.

Now, with our little one through surrogacy, we are working to balance the feeling to grow our family with the feeling to “be” a family and that has been tough. 

Through all of the struggles, we have decided to use them as opportunities to grow stronger instead of apart.  Although we haven’t completely gotten through the storm, I hope we are nearing a place where our worries and confrontations will be on more mundane topics like dinner and laundry instead of whether or not to try to create life when the “normal” routes simply aren’t an option.

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

Chris: Simply put, we would have a second child either now or soon if finances weren’t central to the issue of infertility.  Our surrogate that backed out was planning on being a compassionate surrogate, meaning there was no surrogacy fee, however we would cover everything else.  Even so, we completely tapped out our resources to get to the point that we have blastocysts to transfer.  Now, with her backing out, we are completely incapable of supporting a compensated surrogate and really don’t have any options.  If we could cover the surrogacy fee, we would have moved forward long ago.

We have sacrificed so many things to pool resources for our various procedures through the course of our infertility journey.  Vacations, our home, cars, loans, a myriad of other ways that we would be in a very different financial situation had it not been for our fertility issues. 

That being the case though, if it took all that we did to get our daughter, I would do it over 100 times. Family is more important than our financial status.

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How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

Candace: Wine. Copious amounts of wine.  Kidding..kinda. Honestly, our journey has been so long that what may have worked at the beginning of our struggles is much different than what works now. I am older, I have more scars since my first IVF and I have parted ways with few more tears since then.

Through it all, finding support in others, with others and for others.

I got involved with online communities, we began a blog, I started a local RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association support group. We both go as a couple each year to Washington, DC for Advocacy day and fight for better legislation and fight against anti-family building legislation so that the next us has less barriers to overcome. It is taking something so incredibly negative that has happened to us and flipping it into something positive and change issuing.

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How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  

Candace: We were silent about our struggle for many years until the levy broke. We felt like other people had to feel the way we were feeling and there was no way were alone in our infertility diagnosis. We started our blog and cervical mucus, broken lady bits and plastic cups because it was a topic we talked about regularly. A weight lifted and something transcendental happened, people stopped asking when are you going to have a baby to how can we support you? They helped us fundraise, sent wine and ice-cream on beta days. They started to get a clearer glimpse into our struggle.

Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings? 

Candace: We had a daughter through surrogacy. Let that sink in for a moment. If you think IVF is misunderstood…. Whoa the comments that flooded in when we announced we were expecting through surrogacy.

Did your husband sleep with your gestational carrier? No- because um, science.

Does your gestational carrier have visitation rights? Also no—because um, genetics and legal paperwork. (our bun, her oven type of arrangement.)

Although the questions we received were crazy and bizarre and throat punching worthy, it was an open door to educate people on surrogacy and infertility.

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Have you lost any friends along the way?

Candace: Yes. But now most of our friends that were lost have been re-found. Mostly many of them didn’t know what to say, or do.  They were also off being Duggars and Chris and I were all like “hey look at this sweet Halloween costume we bought for our dog.” The gap of where were in life was growing.

Infertility is the thief of joy and it robbed me of celebrating amazing events with close friends. At the time it was self-preservation, most of my friends understand that now.

Are there any special messages to any friends or family who have been your rock that you would like to give a shout out to?

Candace: Goodness. There are way too many and at some point this post will have to end.

–you all know who are, love you, mean it.

I will say, having a husband (yeah, I am talking about you Chris) that is all in, all the time no matter what our circumstance, is what has kept our foundation rock solid.

In something like infertility, it is a couple’s disease and it is lonely. I have never been alone because of him.

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

Candace: We’ve had so much failure. So much.

We have experienced everything from brain tumors (Chris), cancer scares, and infertility.  All have sucked lemons in their own unique way. I think we really took our recent surrogacy failure hard. It wasn’t because it didn’t work, it was because we were led down that path, and I went down that path with hope and reckless trust. We created a new set of embryos with the promise of a few tries if the first transfer did not take. Now, we are faced with a decision we never thought we would have, which is donate them to another infertile couple and let them have a chance at the child, the sibling, we so wanted or do we put our financial future at risk. Apart from that, I felt blindsided through it all.

What was your inspiration to keep going?

Candace: Time. Time heals but it leaves faintly visible forever scars. I am OK with that. Because now that I am a mother through surrogacy I am proud of them and I know where they lead.

So what is my inspiration to keep going? Hell hath no fury like an infertile woman who wants a child.  Let me be clear though, that keep going push doesn’t always lead to a dirty diaper.

It may also lead to resolution of your fertility journey and resolution no matter what it looks like is a good place to get to.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Candace: Advocate for yourself.

No one knows your body and future family like you. Ask questions, second guess answers. Take control of your infertility. It took a long time to get there but I wish I would have had a DeLorean with a full flux capacitor to go back in the future and pimp slap my past self.  I also would have probably invested in Apple. Hindsight, amaright?

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

If you know someone who is struggling to conceive, hug them, send them a card –check out what Celmatix is doing in trying to help people “say the right thing” via card. Be there.

If you are going through infertility, find a tribe. Find people who get it. Get support.

If you have resolved your infertility don’t forget your tears. Remember what you felt like before them. Give back so that the next 1 in 8, our future has less of struggle.

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You can find Candace and Chris at www.ourmisconception.com, follow them on instagram @ourmisconception (by the way they are taking over Resolve’s instagram this week so watch out for them!) andfacebook here.

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Candace & Chris 🙂

Kristy #FlipsTheScript

Kristy is a fabulous blogger, she tells it like it is, but I didn’t meet her online. We met at our local Resolve infertility support group where I quickly discovered that she is relentless in her dedication to support couples struggling with infertility.

Kristy is here to #FlipTheScript for national infertility awareness week, here’s her story…

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First of all, tell us a little bit about you and your partner….how did you meet?!!

Dave and I met the summer before my senior year of college in 2001. He was in the Navy Reserves and also owned his own business. We didn’t hit it off at first, but shortly after we started dating I knew he was THE one…and then 9/11 happened. He left September 12th. I never thought I would see him again. He returned later that month, and we were engaged a few months later.  We both knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We got married in May of 2003 and talked about starting a family in the next year.

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When did you realize that you were facing a diagnosis of infertility, how did you find out and what were the issues that you faced?  

We didn’t realize we were facing a diagnosis of infertility for quite a while. During our first year of marriage, we weren’t trying to get pregnant and were actively preventing it. A year after we got married, Dave was called to active duty with orders to Iraq and we were moving states. We decided to start trying for a family before he left, but we were unsuccessful. When he came home, we tried again in between deployments and training exercises. We tried for years; charting, testing, plotting, taking temperatures, the whole nine yards!

I refused to get tested or even think about treatments. It was my belief that if it was going to happen, it would happen….it was out of my hands.  It took me over five years to accept the fact that getting help was okay.

We both got tested and had the results, but I wasn’t ready to move on yet.  I still had this longing and desire that everything would still work out. I didn’t want to mess with God’s plan for me. I thought it was too risky and something I wasn’t comfortable with, so we waited….and waited…and waited.  We waited a few more years.

We decided together that it was time.  I had accepted it, come to terms with it, and finally knew it was the right thing to do. We made an appointment at our local fertility clinic and started the process again.  The testing, the prodding and all of the ‘fun’ and uncomfortable ultrasounds, dyes and needle pokes. We had our diagnosis and we were ready to move forward. We were diagnosed with male infertility, but had options.  We were strong. We had a plan.

We jumped right in with three back to back IUIs (Intrauterine insemination), and then gave my body a break after all three treatments failed. We tried again with two more IUIs before we took another break. We then saved and fund raised in order to move on to IVF (In vitro fertilization). We tried IVF twice without success. We were devastated. We thought that our only hurdle in making a baby was male factor, but my body kept failing me over and over without reason.  We took another long break before trying another IUI, which failed again.

We were out of money, and out of hope. We decided to try again, but had to cancel two cycles because my ovaries were not responding to the hormones, so we waited again.  Finally, we tried again, one last time. We did 2 IUIs in 24 hours and we waited. Both had failed.

Where are you on your infertility journey now?

After 13 years of trying and countless infertility treatments, Dave and I have chosen to live childfree.  It was not an easy decision, but the best one for us.

We tried.  We gave it our all, but infertility treatments don’t work on everyone. We have come to accept that.  I never thought in a million years that I would be the one living childfree, but I am, and I couldn’t be happier and more content. 

I don’t regret all the years of trying, all the failed treatments, and all the money we spent. We truly gave it everything we had, but now we are living life differently. We plan differently.  We look to the future differently.  We love differently.  All because we tried and we failed, but we came out on the other end.

There is a different path. There is a different plan.  We are happy. We are enough.

Has infertility changed your relationship with your partner? 

YES!  Infertility almost tore us apart at one point.  Our first failed IVF was the hardest for me.  I pushed Dave away. I needed to grieve and couldn’t let him close because I thought I would break into a million pieces if he touched me. My body had failed us yet again, even with perfect embryos. I couldn’t look into his eyes thinking I would see his disappointment, but I was wrong. He needed me as much as I needed him.  We needed each other, because that’s all we had.

We are actually closer now more than ever.  We have our ups and downs, like any marriage, but in the end our years of infertility has brought us closer.  We love harder and don’t take anything for granted. We know nothing is guaranteed, even if all the stars align. Our love has grown, and nothing can break us…we have proven that!

How has infertility impacted you financially? Did your healthcare insurance provide coverage for infertility treatment?

Financially we feel like we are starting over from scratch. We have drained our accounts because even though we are covered with two different health insurances, nothing was covered except for a few doctors’ visits. We had to take breaks in-between so many of our treatments, just to save up to try again.

How have you taken care of yourself physically and emotionally during your struggles?

I love to do yoga, and this has helped me both physically and emotionally during treatments. I have learned how to center my thoughts and also clear my mind during each treatment.  I love to read and spend time at the beach just staring off into the ocean.

Physically, all of the infertility treatments have wreaked havoc on my body. The infertility drugs and synthetic hormones have done a number on me, and I’m working hard to get my “pre-IVF” body back! :).

How have your friends and family supported you through your journey?  Have you had any experience of lack of support or misunderstandings?  

Most of my friends and family have supported us 100%.  I have lost several friends, but in retrospect, that’s okay. It was very hurtful and sad when it happened, but they didn’t know what to say or how to be supportive when they were having kids and I was left behind still trying. I don’t blame them now, but I’m sad. They didn’t know what to say, or how to act when all of my dreams were being crushed and their life was moving on. I’m happy for them, especially now that I’m in a much better place.

Not everyone is going to understand our decision to go through infertility treatments, and more so now that we have decided to stop and live childfree.

For those of you that have been with us since day one supporting us and are still here supporting our decision to live childfree, I can’t thank you enough!

What has been the hardest point of your journey and how did you deal with it?  

The hardest point of our journey was every single failed treatment. The money that was spent, just for yet another failed result.  It was never ending. Dave was my rock and my inspiration and HE is what kept me going.  He never left, and was always there, even when I pushed him away.  He never gave up on me, and made it possible for me to never give up on myself.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to not shut Dave out during our failed treatments.  He was grieving too, and I was too selfish to see it. I needed him and he needed me, but I couldn’t see it. I wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out, and I couldn’t see that he was hurting too.

I would also tell myself that it works out in the end.  It may not be how we planned or hoped, but it works out. You will be okay. You will be stronger. You will be enough.

As it’s national infertility awareness week, what message do you want to share about infertility to the general public? 

Infertility is a disease.  A disease that is treated like no other disease out there.  A disease that is looked upon as shameful or a choice. I wish that more people didn’t feel so ashamed of their disease and I hope they know that they are NOT alone!

Is there anything else you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Choosing the childfree option as a resolution is NOT the same as a forced childfree option. 

There were many years I felt like I was being forced into a childfree option because we were out of money, options and hope.  This is not the same as where we stand now.  Choosing childfree is freedom. The weight and pressure has been lifted from us. We are happy, and are living life differently than when it wasn’t our choice.

Choosing childfree has been the best thing for us, and we haven’t regretted it for a single second. I know I’m happier. There’s been a weight lifted. I can finally look in the future and not wonder ‘what if’. We are starting to make new plans. New dreams. New adventures. New beginnings….together!

Kristy 2

You can find Kristy at TTCaTaxsonBaby.blogspot.com or follow her facebook page here.

Please leave a comment or message of support below for Kristy and Dave 🙂

Reblog – Start asking friends and family for support —

Day 4 of the Bloggers Unite Conference at missconception.com!  I don’t know who this lunatic blogger is, she is harping on about something for infertility awareness week…..oh wait….it’s me! I’m excited to be part of the bloggers unite conference this year, and very grateful to Miss Conception for hosting it!

I discuss how we opened up to our friends and family about our infertility journey and yet had never actually asked for support from them.  I assumed I didn’t need it.  But I was wrong. People find it hard to know how to help their infertile loved ones, so if you ask, they will leap, I have no doubt about that as we have experienced.  I suggest ways you can ask for support from your friends and family.  You don’t need to be as open about your infertility journey as we have, but knowing when and how to ask for support will help get you through those tough days. Click the link below to read more!!!  XXX

Hi! My name is Dani. My husband, Chris and I, have been trying to conceive (TTC) since December 2013. We were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility‘ in January 2015. I decided to blog about our journey of TTC as I quickly realised that talking to friends and family about our situation can be difficult. It can be hard for them to […]

…..read more of my blog post here via #niaw – Day 4, Bloggers Unite Conference – Start asking friends and family for support —

NIAWBLOGGERSCONFERENCE

Why can’t we make a baby? #NIAW

Why?  Why me?  Why can’t I make a baby like all my other friends and family? I have so many questions about why after almost 2.5 years of trying to conceive and failing miserably, month after month.  What have I done to cause this?  Why won’t my body just get pregnant? What am I doing wrong?

It’s human nature to want to know why things happen.  But these are the type of questions that run through my head round and round, continuously ever since we decided to grow our family.  I have yet to answer any of these questions.  It is exhausting.

Chris and I are 1 in 8 couples of child bearing age in the US that struggle with the disease that is infertility.  We tried the good old fashioned way – sex – for 11 months before we went to seek specialist help from a reproductive endocrinologist doctor after we discovered that Chris’s testosterone levels were “below normal”.  It turned out for us that testosterone levels do not actually matter that much when it comes to fertility.  Chris actually had super sperm, and lots of them!  But it did lead us to start the typical tests for diagnosing infertility.

We thanked our lucky stars that all our test results came back normal – there was nothing seriously wrong with either of us.  In fact, we passed all our tests with flying colours, we were top of the class!  But this put us into the category that 20% of infertile couples are diagnosed with – unexplained infertility.  This meant that the doctors could not tell us why we hadn’t been successful so far in trying to conceive the way they teach you at school.  We were about to embark on a journey that was going to take us beyond what they taught us at school – we were going to try to get pregnant with medical assistance.  We were heading into the world of the unknown.  We knew little to nothing about infertility.

At first it was difficult to explain to our friends and family why we were seeking treatment, because there was nothing ‘technically’ wrong with us.  The infertility was inexplicable!  It was embarrassing, it was awkward to explain.  So this is why I started this blog, to help us get over this difficulty in explaining what we were doing and why, as well as helping to explain our feelings about our disease in general.

Unexplained infertility in someways has been a good thing – there is always hope that this treatment will work.  But ultimately it is difficult to accept that there is just no known reason that this isn’t working for us.  In some cases, going through medically assisted treatment for infertility can reveal the explanation of a couple’s infertility.  But in our case, after 3 IUIs (Artificial Insemination) and 3 cycles of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation), 1 suspected ectopic pregnancy,  and over $90k of medical bills we are none the wiser as to why we do not have a baby in our arms yet.

Conception is a wondrous act of nature, but it is also an incredibly complex process  – there have to be many stars in line for a healthy baby to be born.  For something that is the very basis of our human race’s existence, we still know very little about the disease that prevents us from growing our families.  It’s incredible, right?

I am currently in the dreaded two week wait of our third (and final) IVF cycle.  If this cycle fails, apart from being devastated, I do not know how we will ever be able to move forward without knowing why this has happened, why medical treatment didn’t work for us.  Our infertility will never leave us.

For National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), the national non-profit infertility organisation Resolve is promoting this year’s theme #StartAsking.  The theme is about promoting the questions that we want to be answered, whether this is asking for our Employers to provide insurance coverage, asking for legislation that supports family building options or asking our friends and family to support us.  For me, the one question I have and want to raise more awareness about is to:

 #StartAsking for more targeted research on unexplained infertility.

Perhaps if we can understand more about how or why some couples are infertile, then better focused medical interventions can be developed to defeat infertility.

I want answers!!!! But we won’t ever get answers if we don’t talk about infertility and unexplained infertility.  It shouldn’t be a secret.  We can do this by speaking openly about infertility, by getting organisations like Resolve to help raise our community’s voice and build awareness.

If you would like to know more about infertility, please visit Resolve.org.

If you would like to help, you can contribute by fundraising or donating for Resolve.  Or just comment below with your questions and thoughts to join in the discussion!

wishniaw.png

An Ode to TTC Forums

Have you heard Alessia Cara’s song ‘Here’?  If you haven’t heard it yet, you probably haven’t switched on the radio in a while.  You can check out her video below.

As Alessia’s song has been on the radio a lot recently, for some reason, every time I hear it I sing along with some different ‘Dani’s own’ lyrics.  So I thought I’d treat you to my parody version….it reminds me of how I feel when I accidentally stray into online forums, in this case…. Trying to Conceive (TTC) forums.

———————–

I’m sorry if I seem uninterested

Or I’m not listenin’ or I’m indifferent

Truly, I ain’t got no business here

But since google took me here

I just came to check it but really

I would rather be on my blog all by myself not in this forum

With people who don’t even care about my well-being

I’m not a doctor, don’t ask, I don’t need your baby sprinkles

So you can go back, please enjoy your EW CM*

I’ll be here, somewhere in the corner under clouds of stupidity

With this girl who’s hollering with her B-F-P

Over this TTC advice I don’t listen to and I don’t wanna put my legs up over my head

So tell my IF sisters that I’ll be over here

 

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here oh oh oh

I ask myself what am I doing here?

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here

And I can’t wait till I can break up outta here

 

Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this

An anti-social pessimist but usually I don’t mess with this

And I know you mean only the best and

Your intentions aren’t to bother me

But honestly I’d rather be

Somewhere with my blogger friends we can kick it and just write

About infertility with the struggle (like we usually do)

And we’ll discuss our big dreams

How we plan to take over the planet

So pardon my manners, I hope you’ll understand

That I’ll be here

Not there in the TTC forum with the girl

Who’s always asking questions like “Can I get Pregnant from a blow job?”

So tell them I’ll be here

Right next to the girl who’s complaining cause

She can’t figure out when her next fertile period will be

Oh God why am I here?

 

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here oh oh oh

I ask myself what am I doing here?

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here

And I can’t wait till we can break up outta here

 

Hours later reading all your bitchiness

Some girl’s talking bout baby dust

Well I ain’t got none

How did it ever come to this

I shoulda never come to this

So holla at me I’ll be on my wordpress when you’re done

I’m standoffish, don’t want what you’re advice

And I’m done talking

Awfully sad it had to be that way

So tell my bloggers don’t worry I’ll be back here

And I’m sitting on my laptop with my infertility in tow

Yo I’ll be over here

 

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here oh oh oh

I ask myself what am I doing here?

Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here

And I can’t wait till we can break up outta here

 

Oh oh oh oh oh oh

Oh oh oh oh oh oh

———————————–

*Egg White Cervical Mucus

Thanks Alessia for the inspiration!!!


NaBloPoMo November 2015

Our options widen…but not on the kids’ parties front

I had a great email today from our legal department.  They told us that the US government forsees no legal impediment based on our visa status for adopting in the US, either domestically or internationally. They are also aware of two other families from my organisation who have previously adopted successfully, however one family had a few complications over the legal issues.  However, it sounds like if you have money to burn, the legal issues will disappear.  I don’t mean in a corrupt way, but rather the more you pay the more you get in terms of service.

We asked our legal team to help us look into our visa status so we would know if it was actually possible for us as ‘legal aliens’ to adopt if we decide to stay in the US.  It took about three weeks for everything to be double checked, but it was worth the wait and now we know….we can adopt!

I also had a phone call from our IVF nurse co-ordinator today.  We have an appointment next week with her to go through the whole process in more depth than the doctor did – apparently it will take about 1.5hrs!!  She sounded very friendly and helpful (I guess you have to be do that job!)  She also informed me something the doctor forgot to tell us last week.

The Embryology lab is going through a refurbishment in late June/early July!

Fortunately it sounds like it won’t affect us as we would expect an egg retrieval in mid July.  I hope they don’t over run their re-furb or delay it because that would suck going through all that just to have our cycle cancelled because of some lazy painters!!! But I’m sure they wouldn’t let something like that happen.

I’m currently on Cycle Day 19 and I’m feeling great.  I have had the odd pain, but nothing like the sharp pains from the last two IUI cycles.  Fingers crossed they don’t come back that it was just a side effect of the progesterone and nothing else nasty causing them.  Our break from trying to conceive has been quite fun; next weekend we are planning a trip to our local beer festival and Bush Gardens to try out their new roller coaster ‘Tempesto’!

Physically the break is doing me good.  Mentally, I’ve still had a few odd moments.  This last weekend we didn’t go to our friend’s daughter’s 3rd birthday party at the petting zoo.  Now, I love animals. Love love love them, and who doesn’t love to pet animals!  But I freaked out at the last minute about going someplace where everyone else will have a kid with them and we would be the odd ones out.  I mean, why would anyone go to a petting zoo without a kid in tow?  If it had been a party at their house or somewhere more neutral in that sense I wouldn’t have had a problem. It was just the idea of feeling like we didn’t belong, with the potential for random strangers asking ‘oh which one is your kid’? Or, like the time a random granny noticed us at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, told us ‘It’s OK that you don’t have a kid’. Yeah, I’ve been there before….and right now it is not for me.  I felt bad that I couldn’t pull myself together to go, I hope they can understand.  I’m sure they do.  I just wish I didn’t feel like this.

So to end this post on a positive note…here is a picture of a cheeky goat that we know.

Who wouldn't want to pet this cheeky goat? Oh that would be me, big chicken pants.

Who wouldn’t want to pet this cheeky goat? Oh that would be me, the big chicken pants.

The $$$ lowdown

I have created a new page on my site that sums up all the costs of our infertility journey so far.  I will keep this up to date as much as possible…I have copied the text from it and pasted it below (or here is the link to the page)

We are very lucky that our medical insurance includes coverage for the treatment of infertility, including IUI and IVF.

We are being open and honest about these costs because it is important for people to understand the difference having insurance coverage can make.  Only 15 states in the US make it mandatory for insurance providers to cover infertility treatment, and even some of those are extremely limited.  There is much debate on whether infertility should be covered as an essential health benefit.  There are many campaigns ongoing to change state law in this regard (www.resolve.org)

There is definitely a lot to be said about the psychology and stress to infertile couples over spending this vast amount of money if they do not have insurance coverage for infertility.  Chris and I find this process stressful enough as it is without the added burden of the actual cost.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like without coverage.  At each stage of our journey we have had to get approval from our insurance company and with having an ‘unexplained’ diagnosis we have always been nervous that they will not cover us.  However, we have been fortunate so far. Fingers crossed they will cover our IVF too.

Item Full cost Insurance covered? Final cost to us
Ovulation Kit (pack of 20) x3 $70.00 No $70.00
Pregnancy Tests (various types) x4 $85.00 No $85.00
Basal Thermometer x1 $13.00 No $13.00
Pre-seed Lubricant x1 $24.00 No $24.00
Chris blood tests $572.00 Yes $10.25
Dani blood tests $560.00 Yes $14.43
Reproductive Endocrinologist Consulting Fees (Doctor visits) x3 $340.00 Yes $5.85
Ultrasounds x4 $900.00 Yes $71.72
Anti-biotics for HSG $15.97 Yes $1.60
Sperm Analysis $110.00 Yes $1.53
HSG $835.00 Yes $29.18
Letrozole x3 $8.53 Yes $0.86
Ovidrel x3 $371.16 Yes $37.11
IUI x3 $765.00 Yes $36.81
Sperm Wash x3 $320.00 Yes $16.80
Progesterone suppositories x3 $147.00 No $147.00
Running Total* $5,136.66   $565.14

A note about our healthcare insurance.  We pay a 10% co-pay for each bill of the ‘in-network’ cost, not necessarily 10% of the whole cost.  Our current infertility clinic (or ‘provider’ as it is also called) is ‘in-network’ so we get extremely preferable rates; for example our new doctor visit it was $190.00, our insurance paid $0, so we paid $0.  This is because our insurance company has negotiated these types of ‘bulk’ discounts in advance with our provider.

Choosing an ‘out of network’ provider can increase overall costs.  There is one other fertility clinic in our area we could have chosen, but is out of network.  It was something we considered, but we went on recommendation and did not think too much about this at the beginning.

Currently my insurance premium is ~$500 a month, plus my employer contributes ~$1100 a month, this covers both Chris and I for all medical expenses including dental and optical.

*As of 10th May 2015

Surprise surprise!!!! IVF!

Well my blog post title has given the game away, so in summary…our next step will be In-Vitro Fertilisation!

This morning we met with our RE who reviewed our progress so far, or lack there of.  Our tests were all normal, the three IUIs all went according to plan (except of course for the pregnancy part), I responded well to the letrozole with 2-3 follicles, Chris had awesome sperm.  We remain unexplained, but she does still suspect endometriosis.  If my period pains were so bad that they affected my life and I wanted that to change then she would recommend a laparoscopy.  This surgical procedure comes with risk, side effects and can take several months to return to normal, so if my periods were so bad this would be the way forward, however, in my case the benefits are unlikely to outweigh the downsides.  So she recommends we move straight to IVF.  She explained the overall process:

Week 1 to 2 – after menstruation I start birth control pills for about 14 days, these help to control my hormones

Week 3 – start injectable medications to control ovulation and stimulate follicles to grow – many many more than the 2-3 that were stimulated with letrozole in order to get the best chance of retrieving some ‘good eggs’.

Week 4 – continue injectable medications…have ultrasounds every other day to monitor follicle growth, along with blood work to monitor hormone levels.  When the follicles are ready, we will inject the hCG Ovidrel trigger and 36 hours later I go for egg retrieval surgery.  Under sedation my eggs are extracted from my ovaries.  Chris provides his sperm and my eggs are fertilised in-vitro.  After the eggs have been fertilised, the embryos grow for a few days under close watch.  Then if they survive, one or two embryos are transferred directly into my uterus.

Week 5-6 – start injectable progesterone until the big pregnancy test either says – “woohoo you are preggers”! then I stay on progesterone, or…”booooo it’s a BFN my friend”, then we will…..well, let’s not go there right now.

This is everything I expected her to say, except for two things slightly different.

  1. First, I need to go for a hydrosonogram.  This procedure will produce a 3D ultrasound of my uterus.  I will have this last test because I have a severely retroverted uterus they could not see it very well on the HSG X-ray, they want to double check that there is nothing preventing the implantation stage.
    My HSG X-ray with my retroverted uterus (it's hard to see because it's hiding behind the catheter)

    My HSG X-ray with my retroverted uterus (it’s hard to see because it’s hiding behind the catheter)

    I have been promised this does not hurt quite as bad as the HSG.  THANKFULLY!!!!

  2. Secondly, she thinks it would be a good idea to do Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) because we are ‘unexplained’.  ART_logoThis is a procedure where a single sperm is selected and injected directly into the egg rather than normal IVF where the sperm is placed near the egg.  This procedure is an extra $2,420 so we need to check whether our insurance would cover this or not.

Talking of costs….it is going to cost $9,075 for the IVF which includes office visits, endocrine monitoring, ultrasounds, retrieval, transfer and first pregnancy test.  Plus, it is an additional $400 for the anaesthesia. Medication will be approximately $4,000 to $6,000.  Then the ICSI procedure is $2,420.  Cryopreservation is $1000 then $60 a month for any embryos frozen.  Yikes!!!!  But we roughly knew this anyway, it’s just a bit scary seeing it listed out like this.

So for now, we start the negotiating with our insurance and the diary planning. It’s looking like a late June start.

Ultimately, today I walked away with this one key figure she gave: for us – a 50% chance of success.  In my mind that is pretty amazing.  I’ll take that.  I’ve always been a glass half full kind of girl, lately it’s been half empty, today I think I’ve been topped back up 🙂

Thank you for all your support and kind thoughts so far, I’m feeling pretty encouraged this will work!