Monday, February 26, 2007

The Never-Ending Saga

And by "never ending saga", I'm not sure if I mean our fertility and adoption struggles, or this journal entry!!! (This is the part where you all jump in and reassure me that your eyeballs are not rolling back in your head from boredom, what with all this talk of mood swings and fertility drugs and cervical {spelled correctly} mucous.)

We had gone from “Wow, we’re going to get a baby from our fertility treatments, AND we’re going to get a baby from the adoption agency, and the fun part will be seeing which way happens FIRST!!! We’re going to have babies coming out our ears!!” to, “You know, it’s looking like we won’t be getting a baby. At all. In any way. Ever. Houseplants don't count.”

The adoption agency, which had pretty much closed down, wasn’t as clueless as it appeared, because they had the good sense to put a TOTALLY-NEVER-IN-A-MILLION-YEARS-WILL-YOU-GET-YOUR-MONEY-BACK-FOR-ANY-REASON non-refundable clause in the contract we signed with them. Period. End of discussion. Actually, we knew one couple who took them to court and sued and successfully got a portion of their fees back, but to be honest, I was so dis-heartened at this point I didn’t have it in me. I figured we’d thrown away so much money in fertility treatments, what did it really matter if we threw away a bunch more with a defunct adoption agency? I was tired of being pro-active. Tired of working so hard. Tired of getting nowhere. Sitting around pouting was the best way for me to deal with it. And eating chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

But our reproductive doctor wasn’t ready to give up yet. Yes, yes, it’s true, none of the “basic” or even “extended basic” treatments had worked for us. But that didn’t mean we should quit! There were still things to try! Options to explore! Money to spend!!!

So, according to him, it was time for the big guns, and he suggested IVF. In-vitro fertilization. What was so maddening about the whole thing is that there wasn’t anything really WRONG with me. Ovulatory dysfunction? Clomid should have taken care of that. Crappy mucous? The decongestant should have worked, at the very least, and the inseminations certainly should have bypassed that problem. None of my doctors could figure out why nothing was working, and yet month after month, year after year, we still weren’t pregnant.

IVF was a logical step, but huge for us to consider. Our insurance didn’t pay for any fertility treatments and the military base where we lived didn’t offer any. We had already spent thousands, and now they were asking us to consider IVF, at eight to ten thousand a pop. And what’s so depressing is that if it doesn’t work --- You sure as heck don’t get your money back.

The entire thing was discouraging and maddening and frustrating. I had never been in a situation like this before, where I had a total lack of control over the outcome. I couldn’t MAKE this happen, no matter how hard I tried.

When I was in school, if I wanted a good grade, I studied. Viola, a good grade. If Blaine and I wanted to buy something, we simply needed to save up the money and buy it. If we wanted to travel somewhere, we researched it, then went. My entire life, my experience had been that if you want something {within reason} badly enough, you just need to work for it and you can get it. And, if you buy something, and it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, you return it and get your money back, or exchange it. Can you imagine a store where you pay ten thousand dollars for a TV, and you bring it home, and it doesn’t work? There’s no picture at all? And you call the store to complain and they say, “Too bad, so sad …. But if you want to spend another ten thousand, we can sell you another TV and try again! Of course, there’s no guarantee that TV will work, either.” While having a baby is a normal sort of adventure for most people, we just couldn’t make it happen; we were going broke, and it was making me crazy. Crazy with a capital K.

Women all around me were getting pregnant at the drop of a hat. Many of my co-workers were pregnant and after awhile, it was extremely difficult to feel happy for them without feeling sorry for myself. And angry. And bitter. And did I mention angry? Why did they deserve babies and I didn’t? It didn’t help matters any that I worked at a family practice clinic and the doctor also delivered babies. Not a lot, but enough. Every time an unwed teenager came in and got a positive pregnancy test, it was all I could do not to stand up in my chair and shout ---- HOW IS THIS FAIR????? One young girl got her positive results, said out loud, “Good, now I can get on welfare!” and I swear, I had to turn around and walk out of the room. There I was, married, stable, in my late-20s, and couldn’t get pregnant to save my life, but we had one patient who was on her sixth (welfare) kid and refused birth control of any kind. I was really having a hard time seeing the justice in the situation. Empathy for those people, who truly needed empathy, was long-gone.

I never lay around and moaned and cried about not being pregnant; it’s not like I went days and days with the bed covers pulled up over my head … but boy, was I angry with all the pregnant women of the world. I pouted and I sulked and I quickly became the person you NEVER wanted to see at a party because I pretty much sucked all the positive energy from a room. And as much as I was angry and jealous, I hated myself for being that way. It takes a lot of energy to walk around in a persistent bad mood, but I managed it most of the time.

The constant up and down from the drugs, the hope each month that it worked, the disappointment when the pregnancy test was negative … even the adolescent hope that the pregnancy test was wrong, only to be crushed again when I would start my period. The knowledge that we had gone through ALL THAT with the adoption agency, only for it to be a dead end. It became incredibly overwhelming and I started resenting every pregnant person I knew. And their husbands. And even their friends and their neighbors and their pets and anyone who *knew* anyone who was pregnant and even pregnant people on TV. They were all stupid, stupid, stupid, and none of them deserved those babies.

You can imagine that it was a very serene and positive time in my life, and people all around me were clamoring to be my friend. Um, yeah. Maybe not.

But when you want a baby, and your doctor says Jump, you pretty much say ”How high?” So off we went on an IVF adventure. Back then, IVF was a top of the line fertility treatment. Nowadays, they’ve added things like sperm injection and assisted hatching and pre-genetic testing, but even now, IVF is pretty much the end of the road for fertility treatments. If IVF doesn’t work, you really don’t have a lot of options left. There’s a lot to be said for desperation, when you realize you’re running out of chances and opportunities.

I was stimulated for optimal egg production, both quality and quantity, and monitored extremely closely via blood work and ultrasound. After the trigger shot, the eggs would be harvested/aspirated with a needle/catheter, via another laparoscopy, and placed in a petri dish with Blaine’s sperm. And as much as I made fun of the guy for being on the Olympic Masturbating Team, he was a damn good sport about going through all this.

Hopefully, dozens and dozens of the eggs would fertilize and three or five days later, depending on their quality, they would transfer the best looking two or three embryos back into my uterus. Ideally one of them would implant, and I continued to give myself injections to make sure my uterine lining remained a perfect environment.

We had high hopes …. Pretty much everything was riding on this. You hear about the rare couple who can afford to do IVF dozens of time, but that wasn’t us. We had decided one shot, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work

The procedure went smoothly, although they didn’t get as many embryos as they wanted. Ideally we would have had some left over for freezing for later attempts, but we only wound up with four total, so we put them all back in. Well-meaning friends made comments like “Four?? Are you crazy?” and “You’ll wind up with quadruplets!” When the truth was, we were simply hoping and praying for ANY of them to stick around.

You can’t take an early urine pregnancy test with IVF because the trigger shot has HCG (human chorionic gonadotripin) in it, which mimics the hormone that indicates pregnancy. And as long as you’re on the injections to keep your uterine lining fluffy, you won’t get a period. So there’s no way to “know” if an IVF worked ahead of time. You just wait for two weeks, until you can take a blood test. Then you wait that day, for the nurse to call you. Every time the phone rings, you jump. You’re so excited for her to call, because you know, you just KNOW that it worked … this time, this time, it worked.

IVF nurse. That’s got to be the best/worst job in the world. The people you get to call with good news are so overjoyed to hear from you -- can you imagine what a great feeling it is to deliver thrilling reports like that? Of course, then there are the people you have to call and give the disappointing news that it didn’t work; sorry, you’re not pregnant.

We were two of those people. Not pregnant. Again. You’d think as some point it would quit being such a crushing blow to hear those words, but nope. Pretty much like having your heart ripped out all over again. The fact that my very first nephew was born the next day, with me filming it all in the delivery room, was a bittersweet reminder of what had just failed.

And despite the fact we had promised ourselves we would only go through that once, we immediately started saving our pennies to do it again, being the optimists, idealists, dreamers, gluttons for punishment that we were.

34 comments:

Amy said...

Holy Buckets! This story is exhausting me!!! The ups, the downs, sheesh.......Kristie, you are my new HERO! I'm so glad God blessed you with your children, because Lord knows nobody deserves them more!!!!

Being the fertile Myrtle (is that spelled right???) I am, I guess I just took it all for granted.

Amy
www.caringbridge.org/visit/gerryheidt

Erin said...

Oh Kristie.. Your story is heart wrenching...Waiting to hear the rest of your journey (and hoping for more positive posts in the coming days!)

erunginung said...

No eyes rolling here. Your story is really heart breaking. I'm so glad you did get children in the end, but whew, what a journey. I have really taken how fertile I am for granted. I wish it was something I could just pass on to others who struggle.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your story (and I look forward to reading it all!)

Sherri in NC said...

Kristie,

You are freaking breaking my heart here.....I have spent my whole adult life trying NOT to get pregnant and STILL had two children, I simply had no idea the other side of that coin. You make me wish I could go back and have 10 and give them to deserving couples like you. Good Lord give us some good news with your next post, would you??

Donna said...

Who knew there was such a story behind all those cute little faces! I'll be refreshing my butt off to read the next installment!

California Friend said...

I check in before work & then numerous times after work just WILLING the next "chapter" to be there...ya know Kristie, if you haven't considered writing a book, you damn well should!!

Your story IS exhausting, heart wrenching & everything else said here, but knowing the end result(s) makes it SO worth it! Such lucky kids & such lucky parents!!

Pat in CA

Ginger said...

Like everyone else, there's no eye-rolling here, just checking in over and over to see if the next installment is posted yet. The cool part is, as heart-breaking as it is, we at least know that you DID finally end up with 3 beautiful ones to keep and others to share with people facing the same challenges you went through. What an incredible way to use your experience with something so terrible to help others....you continue to amaze me!!

BTW, as the sponsor for our school's chapter of the National Honor Society, I am responsible for a philanthropic project each year. Last year, we donated to the Lighthouse Retreat in memory of Coulter and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Jake Rivers. This year, we're donating to the Ronald McDonald house at CHOA, and I'd like to make the donation in honor of Kendrie and in memory of Catie. Though we've never met, I've followed your families for quite a while through Caringbridge, and really feel like you deserve to be honored. :o)

Anna in IL said...

It's okay with me that it's never-ending. We'd all be disappointed if you just wrote one post like, "Our baby-making factory couldn't get the assembly line started. I even had sex and let the doctor check inside of me right after, but we still couldn't have a baby. Eventually Blaine's hand wore out and so we adopted. The end."

I, for one, am loving the details -- especially 'cause we know the story has a happy ending!

Candy said...

Hi Kristie, I just have to write today. How could anyone get bored by this story, the suspense is unbelievable. Writing it must be exhausting all over again. It seems we are somewhat in the same boat, trying for 8 months already and nothing yet. I have to say I do hope it will be a bit faster for us than it was for you, but as long as the outcome is the same I don't care :-), only I'm almost 32 so time is running. Haven't found the courage to make that doctors appointment, but I guess it is about time. I can't wait to hear what finally worked even though from your previous posts I have a feeling that it just happened in the end, it is so weird how these things go. Anyway, thank you for sharing your life with us, you and your family are amazing, wonderful, funny and all the good stuff. One of your many fans, Candy!

Patty House Jasonville IN said...

No rolling eyes here! I'm hanging on every.single.word.

The things you guys have gone through. For Goodness Sake...I'm surprised you haven't gone completely mad by now!

It totally irritates me for women to get abortions when there are So.Many women out there who would love to adopt those precious babies. I know you of all people know what I mean. Irritate might be putting it too mildly.

Cindy said...

Kristie, normally when I read your stories, my eyes water from laughing so hard. These stories make my eyes water and my heart break. If I didn't know of your three absolutely beautiful, wonderful children, I would be worried and hounding you for the next installation.

Our family has always been on the opposite end of fertility. I got pregnant while on the pill. My sister married a man who had a vascetomy, and she got pregnant (yeah it's his - the surgery wasn't perfect). My other sister, after years of trying, was informed that her husband had low count and what was there was pretty deformed, so they joined the local Resolve chapter. Low and behold, the day the doctor informed them, she was already 2 weeks along. In fact, the urologist that tested him actually called the OBGYN asking her to confirm the test wasn't a false positive because in his 30+ years of practice he had never seen a man with that condition father a child. And they managed to get pregnant a second time just 6 months after the birth of their first child. So, yeah, the girls in our family get knocked up pretty much by a sideways glance!

On the other side, my brother is an OBGYN who deals with those pregnant teens and welfare moms. And when one of them decides to give her child to a family, he is involved in the arrangements. Adoption agencies can make birth moms jump through hoops, too. Sometimes the birth mom is more comfortable with the kindly doctor taking care of finding the right home for their precious bundle.

So, please continue with your story. We know there is a happy ending, but can't wait to see how you got there!

Abby said...

Kristie, I wait every day to hear more of this story. I have been trying only for 2 months now, but every month it is still disappointing. I was one of those that also thought the first time we would get pregnant! Well, I am learning that is not so. Your story really is one with such a happy ending but yet with such a struggle. I can't wait to hear the next chapter in this story. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Sarah said...

Just wow.

No eye rolling.
You must publish this story someday and give hope to others like you.

For what it's worth, my husband has two business partners who had struggled with infertility problems for years, and had each adopted two children. One had adopted siblings from Russia and when those kids were 7 & 8, after 13 years of TTC, they got pregnant.

The other business partner had also adopted two boys, these were 11 & 12 when their little brother was born. Both miracles. And this was after stopping treatment for infertility for at least 10 years each.

Please continue....

Tracy said...

I am exhausted from the story also. What a roller coaster of emotions. I can't wait for the next installment!

Briana said...

No rolling eyes here. I have learned a lot from reading your story and wish I had read it before some friends went through some of this. As they were beginning the adoption process, they found themselves pregnant. I can't wait to hear the rest of the story (no matter how many journal entries it takes).

Anonymous said...

Definitely eager to hear more of this story...please continue as you are not boring me at all!!

Eagerly awaiting the next chapter
Kristina
Ohio

Rosie said...

I've never commented before, but have been following your story for a really long time. I had no idea of your infertility issues and am anxiously awaiting the next journal entries. I know how grueling the infertility journey is and traveled it for 4 years before getting my first baby. I'm hoping you'll share how you got into surrogacy also, because I would have loved to do that for someone.

Sam Gleason said...

No eyes rolling here either. I know all too well the horrors of your story. We have family member who got pregnant to quit doing drugs!!! She thought that her husband would quit too, but he got bad with it.

When we did the IVF, we had 8 embryos that were good. We used 4 the first time. Although I got pregnant, I miscarried about 6 weeks after. IVF was just too emotional to try again. We just donated the other 4 embryos to Duke University for stem cell research. I have gotten a lot of opinions on what we should have done instead, but after reading that so many children with cancer are able to survive with stem cells, we thought that was the best thing to do. My sister is so mad at me for not donating to another couple, she could probably shoot me. But we know in our hearts, that this is helping people too.

Waiting to read the rest of your journey!
Sam Gleason

Anonymous said...

Kristie, along with many others, my heart is wrenched thinking of all you went though. I was one of those who got pregnant right after stopping the pill, and had four beautiful children in 8 years. My oldest daughter, however, was a pregnant teen, and placed her baby with a wonderful young couple who had similar struggles as you. The baby is now a bit over a year, and the family sent my daughter a little photo book of his first year. The obvious love and joy shown to him and by him with his family in those pictures helped my daughter see so much what a gift she was able to give.

Simply Jenn said...

Wow, this post has brought back some truly painful memories. I was that angry person for several months at two different times after miscarrying. I felt like a new nasty hopeless version of myself. I would almost physically want to hurt random pregnant women so they could feel my pain. It was irrational, totally unlike me and yet it WAS me and it was awful. I know our stories aren't the same, but I wanted to let you know that I can relate to your feelings at this point in your story because I've been there. I think I will go write a miscarriage post. I still feel the "phantom pain" ususally around the time of my miscarriages. Thank you for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

OK Kristie .. You have got to stop what you are doing and finish this story. Your kids will be fine -they can eat cereal for dinner. Get on your computer and finish this story. NO MORE cliff hangers! FINISH!!!!
Kym Little
Mobile, AL

Anonymous said...

You are amazing!! Any chance when this saga reaches its happy ending we could hear how you and Blaine managed to find one another to embark on this crazy journey together?!?!

kim said...

Eye rolling? You can't be serious! NEVER any eye-rolling when visiting here. In fact, I agree with Kym with a "y" that everybody can just have a little cereal for dinner while you appease the masses by finishing the story. And then telling us about how you and Blaine got together, like anonymous said. And any/everything else you want to tell us. This intallment is proof that the story just gets more and more compelling. And just look at the comments to see how many people this is already helping. For those that are sharing their own stories and not feeling like they're the only ones; and for people like me who have not gone through it, but to understand more fully our friends and family that have and will. And the comment from the Mom of the teen Mom who placed her baby for adoption and just received the one-year photos? Oh, my heart! That one alone tells you just exactly how important it is that you've shared this. Then add in everyone else and...like I said before...PUBLIC SERVICE!

Nope, no eye rolling. There is, however, one weirdo who keeps telling you that YOU ROCK. HAHA! Well, it's true...

Anonymous said...

I can't wait till you get to the part about being a surrogate. I get pregnant REALLY easily and have been thinking about being a surrogate for a couple of years now. Since reading this I am SERIOUSLY thinking it is something that I could do. The only problem is that I live in Canada. I don''t know how common it is here. If you have any tidbits of info I would love to hear them.

Anonymous said...

No eye rolling here. Just waiting to hear the rest of the story.

Claire

Anonymous said...

Along with your heartfelt efforts & genorosity to help kids in treatment for cancer, the next crusade you should consider undertaking should be the insurance companies. The fact that these medical necessities are NOT covered under health insurance is cruel and unusually horrid treatment for those of us who actually pay FOR health coverage/ insurance!!! "lovely" at the insurance company can pre-determine YOUR medical needs and that many who don't even have health coverage - get perks!!! Just thought I'd comment on the practical financial aspect of this journey towards parenthood. We even know people who have taken second and third mortgages on their homes for the "hope" of conception. There are just too many sucky issues that need change!

Amanda J said...

No eye rolling here either. Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us and I can't wait to read the rest...

Jeri from Hawaii said...

I echo the masses - no eye rolling here, just a profound desire to hear the rest of the story. You really should write a book, heaven knows you have a way with words!

I have a friend who is in the midst of charts, doctor appointments and tests all in hopes of one day having a baby. I think I will hook her up with your site...not only do you put a human face on the struggle, it sure is nice to know that this story has a happy ending - three of them!

Tell us more, PLEASE!!

Elle said...

Kristie, I have chillbumps through each section of the story. Your telling is authentic and so true. A great deal of it is my own story. Keep writing.

But lest you chastise those of us who did not correct the whole "cervical" spelling thing, may I gently say it's supposed to be "voila". A viola is the small cousin to the violin, which of course you probably meant to write to introduce the metaphor of small violins playing in the background with increasing dramatic swell because this story is knocking our socks off!

Katie said...

No eyerolling, in fact, I really can't even begin to appreciate what you must have been going through. It's just amazing you made it out with your sense of humor, I'd imagine that it's pretty easy to not recover from an experience like that.

And from one spelling freak to another, Viola is an instrument, Voila is an exlamation, I checked, since I'm not so good with the French. I had to read that sentence like 3 times before I figured out what was weird (but I chuckled at it, knowing that it'll drive you crazy once you see it too).

Thanks for sharing it with us, I know that there are many women who benefit from hearing other people share these kind of experiences, and I know that no one is rolling their eyes about that.

Katie
New Orleans, LA

Kristin Hicks said...

No eye-rolling here!! I'm so glad that you were eventually able to have your beautiful children. Can't wait for the rest....

Kristin in NC

Anonymous said...

Elle is right about viola/voila. Except a viola is bigger than a violin, not smaller.

You really should write a book.

Tammy said...

Kristy, and the rest of the story, I'm so giving your blog to my neice, she's going thru the same problems right now. What an inspriration you are.

sarah said...

Kristie, thank God I know the outcome to your story is three beautiful children! And considering all your surrogacies, I assume they found the trick to getting your pregnant - I can't wait to hear! What lucky children you have to be born into a family that wanted them so much!

~Sarah
www.caringbridg.org/visit/dianemarie