Journey to Baby #2

Two and a half years ago I decided to start a blog about our struggle with infertility. Our name, Meet the Hopefuls came from my infertile play on the movie title Meet the Parents. At the time, we were still working toward receiving an official diagnosis. We were completely naive in our understanding of fertility treatments. We thought a simple pill or better timing would allow us go home and get pregnant the good, old fashioned way. Initially, we told no one about what we were facing. In fact, if you’d have told me two years ago that one day I’d be more openly blogging about our struggles with infertility, I wouldn’t have believed you. Or I’d have thought sometime in the future I was going to completely lose my marbles. Nevertheless, I sit here with a stomach full of butterflies as I type our first non-anonymous blog post about our current steps in our building family journey. In moments where I lack courage, Chris says, “get your butterflies to fly in formation!” Bear with me as I harness these fluttery little suckers…

For our first two cycles of IVF we hid in a shroud of anonymity. Very few people even knew we were infertile. Even fewer knew we were pursuing fertility treatment. Even fewer knew about this blog and those who did were people we would’ve openly shared our feelings with anyway. Writing with anonymity felt safe and comfortable. We never censored ourselves. When people in real life made painful comments, we openly wrote about and processed our feelings in the blog. When we were scared, we our fears poured out of our fingertips and onto the keyboard. When we were devastated, we journaled our sorrows. When we got pregnant with Mason, we hesitantly shared our success. We shared all these emotions without a filter because so few people we knew personally were reading our raw emotions as they transpired.

This time things are a little different. For starters, having Mason changed us in a big way. He helped us heal from some of the heartache infertility put us through, and validated our experiences. Having Mason also made us less shy about talking about infertility. We’ve  grown so much by opening up about our personal challenges. Now, our family and friends know about our struggle. Most people are hugely supportive of us. After coming out of the infertility closet, we’ve learned how truly “not alone” we were all along. A surprising number of people in our lives have shared their stories of struggle, loss, and infertility with us too. They’ve told us how thankful they are for our transparency. We hope we’re making the topic of infertility less taboo by our willingness to talk about our experiences. On the other hand, some people in our lives seem to be scratching their head as to why we would share something so deeply personal. Everyone is different, and I hope on some level even our critics can respect our decision and pure motives in helping other people who, like we once did, feel lost, hopeless, alone.

While we’ve come a long way since our initial diagnosis, recently we’ve found many of those old infertile feelings and emotions coming back into play. It all started when we decided to start trying for baby #2. To state the obvious, in our case that doesn’t mean bow-chicka-wow-wow. It means email the nurse coordinator and ask her what the first steps are in starting another frozen embryo transfer. I know, super romantic. Shortly after reaching out to the clinic to get the ball rolling, it hit me. Even after having a baby, we are still just as infertile as ever. That’s right about the time I started noticing the pregnant women–they’re everywhere. We are involved in activities with other parents and babies and children. We’re in a sea of fertile people. Mason gives us the appearance that we fit right in, but at the core we never will.

Our journey to baby #2 quickly brought me back to our old stomping ground; the fertility clinic. My nurse scheduled me for a mandatory hysteroscopy, mock embryo transfer, and cultures, prior to starting our next cycle. The procedures went well. The HSC revealed that there are no polyps or fibroids; my uterus looks good after an emergency cesarean childbirth with Mason. The mock transfer gave my RE the information he needs to place our embryo in the best spot possible. Going under anesthesia this time felt different. When I was told to bring my advanced directive, my heart sank as I thought about my miracle son. Even if the chances of problems are slim, I felt guilty for putting myself in harm’s way when I have a child. Yet, if I want to give my child a sibling, it’s the only way.

Prepping for our third FET coming fall 2017!

Being in the clinic again made the memories come flooding back. I vividly remember sitting and waiting for our first appointment–we were interviewing a new clinic after a failed cycle at the clinic from hell. We were so apprehensive, guarded, and afraid. Yet, we moved forward because that’s the only choice you have with infertility. I remember going in for our egg retrieval with a full bladder, as directed, and how badly I had to use the bathroom! The nurse finally caved and let me pee–just a little bit–so I wouldn’t wet the waiting room chairs. I remember Chris getting in his hospital gown for his second MESA/TESE procedure, and the phone call that followed telling us there were millions of sperm that time around. I remember waiting for blood draws and beta tests and ultrasounds. I remember the agonizing wait to see the doctor the day the nurses suspected I’d had a miscarriage, and what a horrible sense of loss and emptiness we’d felt, only to yo-yo back to security when we found out Mason was okay. I found out my symptoms were due to a disease called adenomyosis I didn’t know I’d had all along. I remember the day we were discharged from the fertility clinic, and how exciting and scary it was to be released to a regular OBGYN’s care.

We have been through a lot in that little clinic. It feels strange to be back. in some ways we feel like we beat infertility–we went on to have a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. At the same time, infertility still holds us captive. We haven’t experienced these feelings for a long time, but they’ve been silently in the background all along. I wonder what our future holds. We still have three frozen embryos–two boys and one girl. We just learned this week that our girl is our lowest quality at a 4BB. All along we planned to transfer her next. And when I found out her quality, all the sudden I found myself bracing for the emotional roller coaster ride. Regardless of our feelings in the matter, we’ll stay on this ride until we’re finished with our family building journey.

The difference a year makes.

infant-pumpkin

I have had every intention of updating this blog in the last several months, but a serious case of writer’s block has left me staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor every time I’ve sat down to write. Yet for some inexplicable reason, that block was removed tonight as I sat down to reflect on the events of the last 12 months. Maybe it’s that I finally found my creative mojo…or, more likely, maybe it’s the steady stream of kiddos running around our neighborhood in search of candy.

Halloween has always been one of my absolute favorite holidays. My parents made such a big deal out of it when we were growing up–this season fills me with nostalgia and happiness. Last year my teacher friends and I handmade the most adorable “three blind mice” costumes to wear for our costume parade at school. We planned them out months in advance, and got together in our off time to work on our creations. The costumes turned out to be adorable. We couldn’t wait to show them off at school.

After our second round of IVF I got pregnant, and things started getting a little scary. I started spotting and cramping at about six weeks into my pregnancy and wound up on a month of bed rest. As it turned out, I missed the Halloween parade at school. But my two trusty friends weren’t about to let me miss out on all the fun. They came over to my house, we threw on our costumes, and I was a captive audience on the couch as cute trick-or-treaters came by our house in throngs.

I remember studying their parents’ tired faces. I remember thinking just how grateful I would be if one day I could be in their shoes. I remember wondering if they knew just how special their little ninja turtle, princess, skeleton, [insert adorable kid’s costume] was. I was so jealous of them in that moment. Their child was there. Safe. Secure. Healthy. Would my little miracle baby be among them someday? I hoped with every fiber of my being he would be.

If I could go back in time, I wish I could give myself the reassurance that all would be well. That my 6AA would, in fact, hang in there. That he would grow to be a perfect, beautiful baby boy. I’d give myself the heads-up that his birth was going to go NOTHING as we planned, but that he’d arrive unscathed. I’d tell myself that my little boy would be wearing an adorable costume right along with all the other little kids in the neighborhood. I wouldn’t have to look at their folks and be jealous, because I’d join the ranks of parenthood, too. My heart would be so full it could burst. I would feel so incredibly thankful.

Just when we think we’re leaving the world of hopelessness of infertility behind, a reminder of the past in the form of a phone call from someone dear to us, who just experienced a loss brings us back to an unfortunate reality. Not everyone has an effortless conception. Some, like us, struggle. Even for those who conceive somewhat effortlessly, not everyone has a smooth pregnancy. Some will end in heartache and loss. My heart breaks for those hurting families. I wish I could look into the future and tell them happiness is ahead. I wish I could tell them the pain they are feeling is nothing compared to the joy that is coming.

Chris and I held each other close this morning. We talked about how unfair it seems that something as beautiful and hopeful as pregnancy can be shrouded by such difficult circumstances for some couples. It can seem incredibly unfair. We know some incredibly deserving, loving people who should never have to go through these situations. Hearing their stories brings me to tears. It can be so hard for me to look at. I know their suffering all too well. Other people will never feel the pain of this struggle. I know many people who have had healthy, flawless pregnancies and never experienced any suffering. Struggle. Loss. I look at them, and I am happy they are free from any trauma surrounding conception, pregnancy, and delivery.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a contest or a competition. I don’t look at the fertile, happy couples and think “Gee, what I wouldn’t give to be them.” I can say to you truthfully, my son means so much more to me because our experience was a struggle. The struggle made me realize just how special this gift of a child is. I wake up every single day and I say to Chris, “Look at him. He’s perfect. I’m so happy.” We’ve lived through some dark, hopeless days to get here. But we never gave up.

Tonight we hug our little one a little tighter. We thank God more humbly. We hold those in mind who are suffering. We say prayers for those who are struggling. We hope that one day soon their rainbow comes.

P.S. Now that I have finally broken through the writer’s block, I intend to fill you guys in on the latest in our lives very soon. Stay tuned.

IVF #2: Embryo Report

  
Our little miracles have been growing away in the lab, and the time has come to announce our final count for blastocysts for round #2! On day five (yesterday) of development, we had a total of five blastocysts. The embryologist decided to keep watching a couple other slightly slower growing embryos into day six, and we gained two more. Our grand total for round two is SEVEN blastocysts!!! We are elated! 

I am still in shock. The sting of our first round made me so cautious with my emotions. IVF #1 was traumatizing. This result for round two feels surreal. I know we still have a long way to go, and it’s far from over, but we are definitely seeing signs of wonderful progress. We are staying super positive, and hope this good news keeps coming!

Next on the agenda is PGS on all our blastocysts. We’ll get the results back in about two weeks, which means a bit more waiting. However, having several blasts gives us reassurance. We are confident there will be some very healthy little embabies in the group. Best case scenario, we’ll never have to do a full round of IVF again. Wow, I like the sound of that!

We’re not sure of our transfer date at this point. I am supposed to phone our nurse when my period arrives, and we’ll go from there. Nothing is certain, but I have a really good feeling about this. For the first time in months, maybe even years, I feel confident about our future as parents. 💗