Friday, March 15, 2013

Conclusion (?)

Where do you go when all you’ve been left with after nearly three years are scars and an empty bank account?

I fully intended to write this entry last week, on the day I received my negative results, when I was entirely in the moment and could accurately record the tumult pounding my head and heart. But I could not. I had to breathe through those few days and simply figure out where we have been left standing.

And here we are…

I am not pregnant. Nor do I any longer plan to be... Let me fill you in.

After the miscarriage last year, we had intended to do another round of the hormone injections with artificial insemination – it worked once, we figured we had a good shot (take or leave the pun) the second time around. But my plans never go as planned despite my careful planning.

After a couple months’ wait, I discovered – miracle of miracles – that I was ovulating naturally. So we decided to save our money and just wing it (go with Aunt Flow?) and see what we could do on our own with the minimal assistance of over-the-counter ovulation tests and the precision timing that comes from years of learning way more about human reproduction than someone without the salary of a medical professional should have. And weekly acupuncture.

And so commenced the trials of “The Old Fashioned Way” (with a little bit of Chinese medicine and First Response thrown in). For six months. There was no reason why I was not pregnant by the end of 2012. Our continued failure led us once more to Oregon Fertility Institute and another $400 consultation with my doctor. And yet another plan of attack. Because I was ovulating on my own – just like a big girl – we decided on a less aggressive and less expensive treatment. Femara – a pill much like Clomid that stimulates ovulation but without the most miserable side effects – and artificial insemination. A few weeks and a thousand dollars later we were back in No-Man’s Land, that excruciatingly slow two-week waiting period between getting knocked up by a turkey baster and peeing on a stick. (OK, it’s much more elegant and clinical than a turkey baster, but you know you laughed.)

And we felt incredibly hopeful. And the signs and symptoms slowly revealed themselves. And life was pleasantly and distractingly hectic. And despite all of my self-preserving talk of not reading anything into anything, I was almost certain the test would be positive. And I thought for sure I would finally capture that elusive double pink line once and for all. And then I didn’t. And I was crushed. And I was in denial.

The definitive NO came with a blood test the next day, leaving us at another crossroad. Or maybe it is more of a stalemate. My body is functioning correctly, but I still need some sort of assistance, it would seem. Whether that is more of the same or perhaps some super hormone shots or something completely different, I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter. We don’t have any more money to test any more theories. And even if we did, we have no guarantee it would move us any closer to our goal or simply continue pushing us along laterally for another month, six months, year – endless.

And in all honestly, I have no more energy – no more fight – to give. Money is only one currency of myriad resources necessary to keep doing this. Some couples go on for year and years, and I’m not sure if I envy or pity them. Maybe a little of both. But I don’t do well with such uncertainty and a situation so far out of my control. And I have found that such stagnancy of life simply erodes my spirit. I will have no more of it.

And so back to the crossroads we go. A decision point. Arrived at a place I think we’ve both suspected for a long time we would get to. Do we keep draining ourselves, our funds, our tears? Or do we work toward positive progression in our lives and in the little, fragile, deserving life of a child in need of the kind of family we could be? 

Our decision is probably obvious. We are beginning our next adventure. Adoption. We’ve contacted DSHS and we’ll be starting the necessary steps next week. (Note: At the time of writing this, we were without Internet service – damn you CenturyLink! – so by the time you read this, we have probably already attended our orientation - actually, it's tonight!)

Despite feeling like a complete failure yet again, I am OK. I am actually relieved. I can now utilize one of my great abilities – multitasking. Bring on the Type A. It’s now time for me to focus on not only family building – in the truest, brick-by-brick, from-the-ground-up sense – it’s time for me to focus on me. Be a little selfish, as a friend put it. Focus on me. Not my infertility. All of me. Focus on those little, non-fertility health issues I’ve been putting off. Focus on my new home, complete with extra-large puppy. Focus on my incredible marriage. Rebuild my spirit and vitality, which have been sucked into hypothetical treatments, waiting periods, cyclical disappointment, and physical abuse for almost three years. To think that so much of that is over…I can’t really even comprehend it yet. But I am grateful I can alight my soul elsewhere now.

We have concluded a painful period in our lives – painful but not without its teachable moments, I recognize. Only because of the loss and disappointment and frustration can we fully appreciate whatever opportunity now lies in front of us. Don’t get me wrong – I have no delusions that the road to adoption will be any less marked by potholes, downed trees, detours and road rage. But at least we will not have to rely on my broken body as the vehicle to get us there. We will be able to build on our strengths rather than forced to overcome my weakness. My physical abnormality will not be the barrier here. Instead, our child is depending on our combined intelligence, love, strength of character, passions and drive. Our child will come into our lives not because my body follows – or is manipulated to fit into – the laws of Nature, but because we have created the best, most stable and full-of-love home we can. And I am confident there are no two people in the world right now more prepared to provide that.

I thank you all for your love and support, your shared tears and commiseration through Phase I. Now I ask you to hold out just a little longer with us as we jump into this new journey. We will undoubtedly need you every step of the way.

Happy Valentines Day

**Written February 14, 2013 - we've been without Internet service since Feb. 16.**
Today is Valentine’s Day. Today Jeff and I are honoring our love in a way most befitting our struggles over the past 30 months. We’re going to get knocked up.

I am writing this with the intention of not actually posting it for a few weeks. If you’ve been following our story at all, you will understand and likely excuse us for our unwillingness to make any announcements – one way or the other – for some time. At least until we have a degree of certainty as to what will become of our 2013.

But if you have any superstition in you, consider the following:

1) First of all, it’s Valentine’s Day. What better omen could we wish for when taking the final step toward procreation based in the love of our marriage?

2) It’s been exactly one year minus 10 days since our first insemination. And we all know what happened there.

3) This has so far been the year of life changes for us. We adopted a puppy (or moose) a few weeks ago. And we’re moving to a new house in two days. A baby will make it a perfect three-for-three.

4) I recently had a test done to ensure my tubes (as in Fallopian) are functioning correctly. And yes, they are. But beyond that assurance, I’ve been told by three separate medical professionals on three separate occasions that this test is as therapeutic as it is diagnostic. It increases conception odds up to a few percentage points for about three cycles following the test. Every little bit helps, right?

5) We know what we’re getting into this time around. We are different people than we were a year ago. We’ve been through the rolling hills and valleys of frustration and elation, of deep sorrow and hard-won recovery. It’s a long road we see in our rear-view mirror, and it has sobered us. But it has also matured and emboldened us.

So here we are, hours away from starting all over, and completely in the dark about how, or even if, this time will be any different. I would be lying if I said my hope is not a little dampened this time around. But the point is, there is still hope in my heart. Six months ago – let’s be honest, two days ago – I was not sure hope would be kindled at all this time. But it’s there, meekly and passively waiting in the shadows for the time to come when it can relax, release some of its self-preserving caution, and fully realize the joy it would like to become.

Am I nervous? My sister asked me this yesterday. I really am not. I know what we’re in for, and I will walk into my doctor’s office this afternoon free from – excuse the delicious pun – preconceived expectations. I may be a little more jittery twelve days from now when I get the results of THE blood test. But today I am calm. Maybe that has been the whole point of all of this. Serenity. Peace.

I will write another post to follow this entry once we know if this insemination is as successful as the first one. But if it is, you will not be reading this one, that one, or the big one – the announcement – until we have seen that precious heartbeat safely flickering on that god-forsaken ultrasound screen. Until we are ready to tell the world, without reservations or the frightening notion that we may have to take it all back, that our child is finally on its way. It is my sincere hope that I will be writing that third blog post in a few months.

For now, I’ll just say Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends. Even if you won’t be reading this until the chocolates are long gone and the flowers have depressingly wilted. Thank you for your love and the strength it has given me. A strength that will support my steps as they take me through the doors of Oregon Fertility Instituted today, steps not of fear or anxiety, but of love.