Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mind games

Evil trickery. That's what it is. Evil trickery!

Why is it that the signs of pregnancy are the same as the signs of a period coming?

On one hand, I am nearly 100% certain I am not pregnant. Dr. B (Urologist) told us it would take a miracle.

On the other hand, my hopeful side wants to believe in that miracle.

Is it stupid to take a pregnancy test just to remind myself it didn't happen?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time to Tighten the Belt

Tonight we reviewed finances. Not in terrible shape, but we need to make changes if we plan to survive the costs of fertility treatments and possibly adoption down the line.

For the last few years I haven't worried much about money. Do I want sushi from Whole Foods? Go buy it! Do I want to buy my vegetables at Fresh Market because it's more convenient, even though it's a lot more expensive? Why not? I don't do it that often.

All that is about to end.

Not that I spend money like a fool. I don't. I agonize over any large purchase. I don't like to splurge on fancy meals except on rare occasion. I buy clothes on sale or clearance most of the time, and even check out Good Will on occasion. And I'm not someone who typically shops for shopping's sake.

BUT, when it comes to day to day things (like groceries, grabbing a hot drink from Starbucks, picking up food for dinner rather than cooking in, etc.), we're doing well enough that I haven't had to pay attention. And that has been really nice.

It will be different. But if it means we get to have children, I'm all in.

It may even bring some good:
  • Less stores to shop if I stick to Kroger
  • Hubby and I will likely cook and eat more together rather than having so many late dinners of Chipotle bowls or Whole Foods grab-n-go meals
  • Cooking more will make it easier to stick to our diets
So, there you go. Not all bad. :)

This weekend we plan.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rub salt in my wounds, why don't you?

Somewhere along the line, as my husband neared his third semen analysis in late January, I became convinced adoption was our only hope. I think it was mental self-defense, and the profound grief surprised me.

During this time, a pregnant friend posted an article on Facebook called "Normal is a scary word." It was all about how breastfeeding is "normal" and about what happens to babies that are not breastfed. Such as... babies that are NOT breastfed tend to have poorer vision, lower IQ, more cancer, more diabetes, more emotional problems, a less developed immune system, etc, etc, etc. And that women who do not breastfeed have higher anxiety, lower self-esteem, less pleasure in early parenting, etc.

This article PISSED ME OFF! It's only purpose is to make people who either can't or don't breastfeed feel like dirt.

AND, the writer does not back up any of these "facts" with specific data. What exactly does "tend to" and "a little bit shorter life span" mean? Was the difference even significant? And could she link to at least one of these 13,000 studies she referenced so ambiguously? No. No details. Just scare tactics.

While I hate to admit it, years ago I may have thought this article was OK. I mean, why wouldn't someone want to breastfeed their baby? Why wouldn't someone want to feel that closeness to their child?

But that was before I had friends who mentally or physically couldn't breastfeed. Before I saw the emotional struggle women go through when trying to balance work with breastfeeding. And before I knew what it was like to have that option taken away from me.

When I thought adoption was our only option, my grief was driven by two things: (1) that I would never get the chance to carry my own child and bring him or her into this world, and (2) that I would never get to experience the closeness of breastfeeding.

This article stabbed me right in the heart.

It made me think of everyone who has adopted. And everyone who has used a surrogate. And everyone who for some reason or another does not have breastfeeding as an option. The woman who wrote this was not thinking of them. She was not thinking of us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Becoming More Real, Morality Thoughts Swirling

We have an appointment on March 8th to move forward with IVF with ICSI. On Wednesday we received our pre-work packet which makes this feel a lot more real than it did last week.

If we pay in cash... $7200 for IVF, $1400 for ICSI, not including drugs. We can stretch to meet these costs, but will be more in debt as a result. We have the option to submit to insurance, which I think will cover up to $2500, but then the clinic may charge more. Or less. Our whacked out health care system at work. The fact that medical procedures have variable costs whether you pay or your insurance pays is incomprehensible.

Is it worth it? I think so... but I sometimes wonder if my reasons are too selfish, and if I'm defying natural order by going down this path.

I'm Catholic, and the church's official position is that IVF is immoral. In a statement made by the US Council of Catholic Bishops, they reason it is immoral because
"The new life is not engendered through an act of love between husband and wife, but by a laboratory procedure performed by doctors or technicians."

On one hand, I can take a step back and see their technical point.

HOWEVER, they have not gone through infertility, nor have they felt how severely it tests your love and your relationship. I am more apt to argue that going through IVF requires a disproportionate act of love between a husband and wife. Without love for my husband, would I be willing to subject myself to invasive procedures, drugs and injections that will undoubtedly make me a hormonal freak? Without love for me, would my husband be able to summon the strength to go through this?

Maybe I am naive, but I think that while it requires a laboratory procedure performed by doctors, that the lives created are sometimes more respected than those conceived through traditional lovemaking because they are so precious to those involved. When I think of the embryos that will be created for me, it reminds me of the first time I drove with my baby nephew in the car. I was overly careful. Didn't go over 30 miles an hour. Kept glancing back at him to make sure he was secure. My hope is that the doctors & technicians treat me and mine with a similar level of care and respect.

And doesn't God still play a part? The embryos have to implant. A lot has to happen after the doctors put them inside of me. Couldn't God interject if he thought it was a bad idea?

Maybe I'm justifying this so I feel better. Maybe it really is OK.

On Thursday, during a discussion with a friend who works with women placing children for adoption, she said, "My hope is that whatever decision the women come to, that when it is done, they can wake up in the morning and feel it was the best decision they could have made." Thats all I want for myself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A little background

I find it helpful on others' blogs to know specific details, so I will shine a spotlight on our baby-making complications for a moment.

October 2008 kicked off our efforts. A year went by with no luck, so we met with my OBGYN and had some tests done (FSH & TSH levels and hysterosalpingogram-HSG on me, and a semen analysis on my husband). We had good news until the semen analysis (SA) came back, which showed low count and 0% normal morphology.

When our OBGYN office called to give us the first SA results, we received very few details other than "you would benefit from assisted reproduction." I called back and pushed for specifics, but it was frustrating and confusing. They referred us to a fertility clinic, who then referred us to a Urologist. Emotional ping pong!

I couldn't stop googling morphology and wrapped myself up in a hopeless swirl of recommendations from online non-doctors. What I've learned since then is this:
  • Never trust a single semen analysis (SA) - Morphology changes over time and is impacted by many factors, including both physical (varicocele, fever, etc.) and environmental (toxic chemicals, cleaners, etc.)
  • Morphology is an inexact scientific measurement based on a lab tech's judgement of the shape and size of the sperm
  • Defects can be to the head, midpoint or tail
  • SA tells you where the defects are (head in our case), but nothing more specific. Contrary to my hopes, they do not let you see pictures of your husband's sperm.
  • Abnormal morphology may impact the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg
  • Interesting post on Morphology

Our Urlologist, Dr. B, is wonderful - a very peaceful, calming presence when we met with him in November 2009. He gave us enough information to calm us down, and scheduled two more SA tests to verify results. These subsequent tests continued to show low counts, BUT the third test resulted in 2% normal morphology! While 2% is still low, it gives us a wee bit o' hope knowing there are a few perfectly shaped and sized sperm swimming.

Our current options are:
  • IVF with ICSI
  • Adopt
  • Donor sperm
  • Hope and pray we "win the lottery" and get pregnant on our own
We are leaning toward IVF with ICSI. We have investigated adoption in depth and are very open to it, but since I am already 35 we feel the push to try IVF now since it will only get harder as I get older. Adoption may be in our future as well. We'll see how things progress.

Roads & Mountains

With the exception of a brief period in high school when I realized women tear "down there" and that fear overruled rational thought, I've been sure of one thing. I want kids. A big clan of a family like the one I grew up in.

So here we are. My guy and I. Strolling our way down the kids path. Turns out it's a crooked and winding road, and we may have to scale a few mountains before we get there.

There's a lot I'm not sure of, and at times I can't clearly see our destination... but I am bound and determined to enjoy the journey. Otherwise, what's the point?