To My Future Child

Dear One,

You are deeply loved. Your Daddy and I have been thinking about you for a very long time. We are so excited to be your parents someday. 

We have no preference if you are a boy or a girl. We will adore you if you’re a tomboy or a girly-girl, or a tough guy or a sensitive one. 

We will read to you, rock you, swaddle you, and cuddle you to your heart’s content. We will give you endless hugs and affection. Not the touchy-feely type? We’ll (try our best to) give you space. 

We’ll support you wherever life leads you. School play? We’ll drive you to every rehearsal. Community service? We love how much you give back to those in need. Math Club? Wait, are you our kid?? Just kidding. 

We’ll be your biggest fan if you decide to be a poet, a mechanic, a lawyer, a barista. We will help you to develop your innate talents and skills. We will praise you for your effort, and teach you the value of hard work, and determination.  

We’ll encourage you to reach for your dreams, do what makes you happy, and what you are passionate about. 

We won’t always agree, and that’s okay. We will show you that it’s okay to have different opinions, viewpoints, and preferences. We will raise you to respect others, treat others with kindness, empathy, and compassion. We will encourage you to walk into life with an open mind and an open heart. 

When your heart is hurt, we will listen to your worries, your pains, and your fears. We will hold you tight, and dry your tears. 

We will value your voice, your opinions, and your strengths. We will support you. We will love unconditionally. You are our world already, and we haven’t met you yet.  

We look forward to the day where we can welcome you into our family. We hope it is soon. We can’t wait. 

Much love,

Mommy and Daddy

Hurry Up and Wait

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At the moment, we’ve stalled out. All our blood work and testing is done, but we discovered there’s more to be done before we can start our first IVF cycle. 

Chris and I were both raised by parents who don’t believe in vaccinations. Like any. At all. You’re thinking that’s crazy, right? Theres a lot of controversy about these types of choices today. As much as we love our parents, we likely won’t make the same choices for our own children. 

Before we can start treatment, our doctor said we must get the MMR, varicella, and TDaP vaccines. We will have to wait a month before starting our fertility treatment. While I’m happy to comply, the news about timing is a bummer. 

Chris’s work schedule also gets very busy in April/May, which concerns me a bit. Since Chris has no vas deferens, he has to get the MESA procedure done to get his sperm the same time as my egg retrieval. This may complicate things, but for now we just have to be patient. Cue the Jeopardy theme song…

People Who “Get” It

Unless you’ve dealt with infertility firsthand, it can be really hard to understand and relate. Some of our friends know what it feels like to struggle with conception, but then have been able to achieve pregnancy without medical assistance. 

With my husband’s condition, we will never get pregnant without IVF. Many people don’t know what that feels like. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked about my feelings on adoption, or if there was any other alternatives to IVF, I would be fairly rich at this point. Heck, maybe I’d even have enough money to pay for IVF! 

I read recently going through the process of IVF puts you and your partner in crisis mode. There are unknowns, fears, and new decisions around every turn. There’s the constant battle to make the best choice for you and for your family. It can be daunting, isolating, and just frankly overwhelming. Then add the physical component to all of that. Your body is going through additional hormones, and there’s an extreme sense of pressure to do it all right so that you are able to achieve success. 

Do you ever feel completely isolated by being an IVF patient? There are few people in my life who I feel completely supported by right now. Obviously my husband is at the top of this list. Next, would have to be one of my more senior coworkers. My immediate family is unaware of our journey because certain members probably wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s a blessing for us and for them to keep it private. We feel much more relaxed without their involvement. 

Being in the blogosphere, I’ve found a great sense of relief by reading everyone’s journeys. It makes me feel like we’re not alone. There are many people out there who are going to the IVF process, just like us. Reading the success stories helps keeps hope alive. 

Yesterday I found out that my OBGYN conceived twins through IVF. I was in her office for my annual pap, and told her Chris and I are about to start the process. She was so excited and so unbelievably supportive. She said she and her husband went through treatments for two years and then finally decided on IVF. It was so amazing to feel like my doctor understands what we’re going through. It will be awesome when we’re transferred back to her care someday.

Green Light at the Red

stoplight

Test Result. The email subject line made my heart skip; it was from our fertility doctor. 

Last time I went to the clinic, they drew 6 vials of my blood to run genetic tests. Specifically, they were determining if I am a carrier for cystic fibrosis, since my husband, Chris carries a gene mutation. I wasn’t expecting to hear results for another two weeks. 

 As I sat, unmoving, at the stoplight on my commute home, I contemplated, “Should I open it, or wait till I get home?” Wait? Who was I kidding? 

Hi Heather,
You tested negative for the cystic fibrosis gene mutation that Chris tested positive for (Delta F508) and that’s good news. This does minimize the risk of having an affected child, but it does not eliminate it. The risk is considered to be very low in such cases and testing of embryos is typically not done. 

Please let me know if you have any specific questions. 
-Doc 

 I shrieked. A positive test result would have meant moving forward with a lot of caution, concern, and careful testing of each embryo. A negative result is a HUGE relief. To me, this news means moving forward with IVF without hesitation. We’ve essentially been given the green light to begin. It’s a really celebrated piece of information and Chris and I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
 

As I was driving home, the good news was sinking in, and a song I hadn’t heard for a while came on the radio. 

 The Middle by Jimmy Eat World 
Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just do your best, do everything you can.
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything will be just fine, everything will be alright.
 

 These lyrics are my new anthem for the IVF process. We won’t write ourselves off, simply due to the unfortunate circumstances we seem to be facing. We’re going to do everything we can in order to achieve our goal of parenthood. We won’t pay attention to the judgment of naysayers; this isn’t their process. This isn’t anyone else’s journey but ours. It is going to take time, and I’m sure there will be times where it feels scary, but that’s when we have to remember: we’re only in the middle of the ride. It’s not over until we say it is over, and until we feel strong about the outcome. In the end, everything WILL be alright.

Meet The Hopefuls

holding-hands 

Chris + Heather 

 Two thirty year olds 

 Ten years of love together 

 Six years of marriage 

 1+ years of trying for kids 

1 visit to the infertility clinic set our journey in motion 

 When I scheduled our first fertility appointment, I wanted answers. Even if the answer was “you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong with either of you, now just keep trying.”

I had reached a point when the unknown had just become too overwhelming. I was tired of the monthly disappointment. And that’s how I knew it was time to talk to a professional. 

 Our first visit to the fertility clinic was relatively uneventful. I stifled a giggle through our doctor’s use of props as he explained how babies are made. Later Chris and I joked about how funny it would be if we’d just been doing “it” wrong all along.

From the outset, our doctor seemed puzzled by us. There were no outward signs of infertility. I have regular cycles, and we have regular, timed intercourse. Neither of us have health problems. Both of us are fit. Both have siblings who have had successful pregnancies and deliveries. We have no family history of infertility. So why were we there? Our doctor assured us that although there didn’t appear to be an obvious reason, we’d find one. 

We started with an ultrasound. I had a few more follicles in each ovary than the doctor would like to see. We were told that around 12 are normal. One of my ovaries had 17 follicles, and the other side had around 20. He said we might be looking at PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I didn’t meet the other criteria for diagnosis, so he said we’d wait and do more testing. We were convinced it was me. 

Chris was next up for testing with a semen analysis. He was given a sterile room with a drawer of nudie mags in order to “produce a sample.” His sample was sent off to the lab for testing.

On Chris’s 30th birthday the doctor rang. The second he answered the phone he knew something was wrong. Chris was told his semen sample contained no sperm. Not one. He was also told the volume of his sample was low. Chris hung up the phone, lay down on the floor, and cried. My tougher-than-nails husband said he felt like he aged 10 years that day. 

 A urologist was our next step. Chris had an appointment with a physical where we learned that Chris was missing his vas deferens. He was born without one. We were in shock. Nothing would have ever given us an indication that Chris was missing any part of his reproductive system. Chris had essentially been born with a vasectomy.

I was so grateful that Chris took the news as well as he did. He didn’t feel like less of a man, and I didn’t look at him any differently. 

 This diagnosis, CAVD (Congenital Absence of the Vas Deferens), is a diagnosis only 1% of couples with male-factor infertility ever receive. We are rare. We probably won’t ever meet another couple that is facing our same challenges. So we’ve decided to look at this as an exceptional anomaly. You could even say we think it’s a little cool. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “how is infertility EVER cool?” In some ways, you’re right. It sucks. But we’ve decided to try to keep the hope alive, and look at our situation as remarkably unique. 

To make matters a little more complicated, Chris’s doctor recommended tests to determine if he is a carrier for the disease cystic fibrosis. Oftentimes men with CAVD have a gene mutation that leads to their condition. His tests came back positive confirming Chris is a carrier. At the time of this blog my doctor has ordered blood work to see if I am also a carrier for the disease.

Going forward, we know our only option for a successful pregnancy is IVF (in vitro fertilization). After reading about the process, both of us are a little apprehensive. It is costly, and involves needles (not my favorite). But we know that there’s nothing that can stand in the way of our dream of parenthood.