Week One of J’s Year of Gratitude!

Last week was week one of my year of gratitude challenge! Here’s a round up of the photos:

Day one: Art.  I’m so grateful for the beauty that art brings into my life.

Day two: Detox Tea. I love having something that rebalances my body and gets rid of all the negative toxins!!

Day three: Thug Kitchen Cookbook. This cookbook has been a lifesaver!! We have several food allergies which Makes it easier for me to make Vegan, GF meals at home. This cookbook has opened my eyes to a whole new world of vegan meals.

Day four: Nature. Enough said.

Day five: Exercise. So grateful to have a body that allows me to move and stay healthy.

A Year of Gratitude

This past year I’ve really focused on reading books by authors who have struggled with infertility as intensely as we have. One of the books I’ve been enjoying immensely is ‘In the Wait’, it’s a devotional with the topic of waiting patiently. The book has a few different authors which means it’s not all entirely about infertility. There’s even a week where they discuss keeping hope during grief or unexpected circumstances. I’m not done reading the book just yet, but I’m close to finishing it. It’s been a huge wealth of wisdom for me so far and I’m grateful for it.

One of the authors as I mentioned went through infertility for several years, and at the time of writing the book still hadn’t been blessed with a pregnancy.  She described the same feelings that we all go through when on this journey; depression, sadness, loss of hope, and so on. She decided to combat these feelings by beginning a year of thankfulness. Meaning that she took a photo of one thing each day that she felt thankful for, no matter how small it was.  The author described that as she focused on this gratitude for a whole year, she slowly noticed her happiness return. The hope that she struggled to hold on to became more present in her life again.

This story struck a huge chord with me. I’ve been struggling for a couple years now to hold on to hope and to remain thankful for the things that God has already given me. I tend to only place my attention on the things that are negative. With that in mind I made the decision to embark on my own year of thankfulness. So beginning today I will be posting one photo of an item that I am thankful for. I will be posting both on my Instagram and Facebook page daily, but on here once a week with a roundup of the photos. I’m titling it “J’sYearofGratitude”. Feel free to follow me on either social media, the name is the same, @FindingJoyinInfertility.

I’m hoping that after pushing myself to do this for a  whole year, I will begin to regain that constant feeling of hope and gratitude that I’ve lost on this journey. I hope that you will join me on this journey!img_1849

Infertility and Boundaries

It’s been six long years of struggling with infertility for us. One of the biggest obstacles that I’ve had to deal with is my mental health. I feel like we all get so focused on the treatments and timing that we completely forget to take time out for ourselves. We forget to take a step back to make sure that our bodies and minds are in a healthy state. In return we become overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, angry, and the list goes on. Like I said this is something that I struggle with, but I have figured out ways in which I can help refresh my body and mind. One thing I learned the hard way is the importance of boundaries. Boundaries are essential to our mental health during this journey, the type of boundaries will also vary from person to person.

For me, I realized that removing myself from events like baby showers was the first step. When I first decided to remove myself from these events it was really difficult. I felt guilty at first, like I was being selfish for not going. I would still try to send a gift or meet with the mom to be one on one to show that I really do care, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt. It took me a long time to finally get rid of those thoughts and feelings, but in the end it was worth my mental health. My husband and I also came to the conclusion that it was no longer a good idea for me to attend Church when there was any type of Mother’s Day service or child dedication. As hard as I tried, I could never make it through the service without having a breakdown. It wasn’t healthy for me to continue putting myself through that grief and pain, because all it was doing was sending me down a pit of depression.

With how crazy life can become when you add fertility treatments into the mix, I was completely forgetting to take a step back and take time out for myself. So at the recommendation of my husband, I started to try and make it a habit to do one thing for just myself each week. Whether it was going to get a massage, treat myself to an expensive coffee, or getting my hair done, I made it a point to refocus my mind. Whenever I don’t do this, I find that my body and mind begin slowly going down the rabbit hole without me even realizing it. It usually ends with me being a a huge puddle on the floor.

I’m not saying that I have this system down pat and I never have any type of breakdown anymore, because that wouldn’t be true. In fact last week was a recent one for me. Due to life circumstances I am mainly housebound for the next few weeks. Not having the freedom to leave whenever you feel the need is incredibly depressing. And it also makes it incredibly difficult to take time out for yourself when you have to rely on the schedules of other people to do so. For the past almost month I’ve been pretty darn isolated, and it looks like it will remain that way for at least another few weeks. We were even forced to cancel and reschedule our vacation plans. That was the nail in the coffin for me, I was so looking forward to being able to get out and breathe for a while. But now that won’t be happening for a while. Commence mental breakdown.

I’m still working through the emotions of this last one, the mudslide of pregnancy/birth announcements from non infertile family doesn’t exactly help. Which brings me to the final boundary that I put in place. This one will either resonate with some of you, or shock some of you. I no longer allow items on my news feed on most of my social media with excessive posting of pregnancy photos, children, or birth announcements. What I mean by excessive is at least one to two posts every day about their pregnancy, whether it’s progress or complaints. It’s the same for their babies too, babies are still a huge trigger for me. I just can’t handle it at the moment., but I am still trying to take steps to someday not have that be a massive trigger for me.

It’s not that I’m truly happy for the couples, but when your news feed is constantly jammed with pregnancy announcements of people who have been trying for a lot less time than you, accidentally got pregnant, or are on their fourth child and started trying to have kids at the same time as you, it wreaks havoc on your emotions. It brings forth a deep sadness and depression that is on a whole different level. It’s a sadness and depression that only my infertility family will understand. I know that some of you might be shocked that I started hiding those life events from my news feed, but like I stated before this might not be a boundary that you feel is essential to YOUR mental health. But it is to mine. And that’s perfectly okay.

With all of these boundaries put in place, I have slowly begun to rebuild my mental health. I don’t have the need to hide myself from the world, or to cry at the drop of a hat. I know that someday I won’t need those boundaries in place, but for now I do. I encourage any of you who are struggling with your mental health during this journey to do the same, find the things that trigger your negative emotions. After establishing what they are take a step back and remove yourself from those situations. Allow yourself to heal. Because if you don’t, you will never heal and the emotions will continue to consume you for the worse.

 

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Cycle Day One…Again.

Well here we are again, cycle day one. I mentioned in my other post that I was confident that this would be a failed cycle of Clomid, and today confirms it. I’m not surprised after the month’s cycle debacle (see last post) that it didn’t work. I still attempted to hold out a little piece of hope, but didn’t get my expectations to high. When you’ve been dealing with infertility for as long as we have, you get to the point where you know your body pretty well. Which means you pretty much know if something is working.

I am hoping that my body worked its issues out and have gone back to what it believes is normal. We will try Clomid again this cycle, but the doctor still has little hope that it will work. I mean, it’s really more of a last ditch effort for us. One last hurrah before we officially move onto adoption in a few months. Once you begin the adoption process, you are restricted from pursuing any infertility treatments. We completely understand the reasoning too, you’re more inclined to be distracted  and not out your all into the adoption if you’re still consumed with the treatments. Which won’t be a problem for us, like I said before, we’ve pretty much exhausted all of the options that we feel comfortable with at this point.

So we will try Clomid one more time and if nothing comes of it, we will most likely officially call it quits in the infertility treatment category.

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It’s Giveaway Time!

For Finding Joy in Infertility’s VERY FIRST giveaway, I teamed up with Tedi from Running With Infertility! I couldn’t think of a better person to join forces with for the first giveaway. Tedi and her husband are the founders of The Hope for Fertility Foundation, and are survivors of a long battle with infertility. In fact, they just had their very first child! And let me just say, he is completely adorable.

Tedi has created a super cute shirt to bring awareness to infertility, and with her permission I am giving one away to one lucky person! To enter:

  1. Go give a follow Tedi on Instagram (@runningwithinfertility1)
  2. Like and share this post either here on WordPress OR on my Instagram (@FindingJoyinInfertility)
  3. Lastly, comment below (or on my Instagram post), and tag a person you think would also like to join in on the giveaway!

The deadline to enter the giveaway is FRIDAY JULY 14, 2017 at 11:59 pm (WEST COAST TIME)

I will be announcing the winner on Saturday at 12:00pm (West Coast Time)

Tedi’s shirts are also for sale on her Etsy shop which you can find here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Runwithinfertility

10% of each shirt sold goes to Hope for Fertility to help fund their grant which aides couples in paying for fertility treatments OR adoption fees. For more information on their grant and how/when to apply, click this link here:

http://hopeforfertility.org/grant-information

Photo Credit: Tedi Palmer, Running with Infertility

This giveaway is in no way sponsored or affiliated with WordPress or its affiliates, nor Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and its affiliates.

 

5 Reasons Why We Keep Our Infertility Journey Private

With Mother’s Day (AKA hardest day of the year) approaching, I wanted to write a couple of articles over the next couple of weeks about the lesser talked about issues when struggling with infertility. One of these issues is why many of us choose to keep our struggle with infertility private. Whether it’s up until you’re actually pregnant, keeping a miscarriage quite, or up until you are ready to share your journey with others. There are so many reasons as to why we choose to do this. Because there are so many different reasons as to why we keep our journeys quiet, I wanted to reach out to my fellow TTC sisters to get their opinions as well. I also wanted to show that there are more people out there struggling with infertility than you may think, just because no one around you has mentioned it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in your circle of friends isn’t dealing with this. Knowing this, if you aren’t dealing with infertility it may make you wonder or even be a little upset that some one around you doesn’t ‘trust’ you enough to talk about this struggle. That’s not entirely the case, like I mentioned before there are several reasons as to why we keep our journey through infertility quiet.

There will be several quotes from my fellow TTC sisters about this topic, and because they are choosing to keep their journey private, I will be keeping all their quotes anonymous to protect their identities. So without further delay here are 5 reasons why we choose to keep our journey through infertility quiet:

  1. Shame.

I know what you’re thinking right now, “Shame? why would anyone feel shameful for being infertile?” Well, there are a lot of reasons why:

  • “…I always thought people would think less of me or think I was “broken” if I told them about my infertility journey.”
  • “With friends I felt embarrassed and ashamed of the whole situation…”
  • “…I’ve stopped telling people (first cycle everyone knew every detail!) because although they were being supportive and amazing I found that the pressure of letting them all down as well as myself was too much…”

For myself, I was ashamed for a long time. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t get my own body to work the way that it was supposed to, that I couldn’t (and probably never would be able to) give my husband biological children of our own. Especially when there were so many people around us who were able to get pregnant after just one month of trying.

2. Hurtful comments, or unsolicited advice.

I’ve experienced these comments myself, not just from family, but from complete strangers and friends as well. I’ve gotten, “Well maybe God doesn’t think you will be best fit as parents.” or “Maybe you’re just not praying enough, or are too stressed.” But the worst was “You know it’s because you don’t eat meat right? If you were to begin eating animal based proteins and lose a couple of pounds then you would get pregnant.” Yup, you read that right. Lose weight and eat meat again. Not many of you know, but the reason I don’t eat meat or have dairy based products is because I’m ALLERGIC. And yes, this person knew both of those facts. I’m also no where near to needing to lose weight from a medical standpoint. But lets not get me started on that last one.

With that being said, we weren’t the only ones who kept our journey private for that reason as well. Here are some more people who also had the same reason:

  • “…I didn’t want to hear that I’m stressed or that we need to stop thinking about it and it will happen. I didn’t want to hear about “if it’s meant to be…” or anything about His plan….”
  • “…I’m a plus sized woman and along the way my size has been brought up as playing a factor in my infertility. Nothing hurts worse than two heart breaking parts of my life being combined. I’ve always worried about the questions and the hard comments that come with this season. Some days I can barely hold myself together as it is. I don’t think I could handle tough questions or well meaning but sometimes hurtful comments on a regular basis…”
  • “… For us, we’ve heard “the stories”: ‘oh I know someone who tried and tried and then when they adopted, got pregnant’ or the ‘you just need to relax’. It’s hard to open up to people who can’t open their mind or relate to our situation…”
  • “…Another reason why, is because it has been so hard and heartbreaking we just don’t want everyone’s opinion and their questions. Especially from people that don’t understand or have never been through it…”

3. Judgement.

This is one reason that has frequently come up when discussing infertility. This has mainly been from people who have step-children. I’ve had conversations with so many couples who talk about the judgement they receive from outside the marriage. They have told me that people will frequently approach them and tell them that they should just be happy to have the step-child in their lives and be done with infertility treatments. That they are being selfish in pursuing to try and conceive a child of their own. Well, it’s not selfish to want to be able to conceive and have a biological child of your own with the person you have committed your life to.

  • “A lot of it for us was how ashamed I felt and I was trying to process everything, and the other was that we were so worried people were going to judge us. Especially where my fiancé has a son from a previous relationship. I was just worried what people were going to say about it all but there are still things we’ve kept quiet from friends and family.”

Another reason I’ve encountered is from couples who have experienced people telling them that they must have done something in their lives to deserve infertility. To accept that infertility is obviously a punishment of some sort. to move on with their lives and be thankful. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! I know infertility can feel like a punishment sometimes, okay most times, but it doesn’t mean that it is. Every person who I have talked to who struggled with infertility has told me how much stronger they have become by going through this season of life.  Because there are so many stories about the judgement or criticism they receive daily from others, many have opted to open private accounts on social media as a way to be able  to share their struggles and ask questions without being judged.

  • “I guess, for my husband and I, it’s to avoid judgment. I opened this separate account not linked to my personal one because I wanted a “safe” space to share… away from the judgment or criticism from friends or family members (some of who may mean well even though it doesn’t always seem like it).”

 

4. Stress.

Constantly answering people’s questions or telling the same story over and over can really ware on the person. It’s not that we mind telling people what is going on, it’s just that sometimes the constant bombardment of questions, opinions, and suggestions becomes incredibly overwhelming. Add in stressful infertility tests, treatments, specific timings needed for each drug or test, and you begin to feel like you’re drowning in the ocean. It can also be incredibly overwhelming to constantly be forced to explain the reasons why you decided to pursue treatments, why that specific treatment (i.e. IUI, IVF, DEIVF, etc.), and the Mother of all questions “why don’t you just adopt?”

  • ” Some days I can barely hold myself together as it is. I don’t think I could handle tough questions or well meaning but sometimes hurtful comments on a regular basis.”
  • “Also, another reason is if/when things don’t go right, it sucks to have to explain it to everybody (sometimes over and over again to different people) when you just want to crawl into a corner and be with your own thoughts.”
  • “I’ve stopped telling people…because although they were being supportive and amazing I found that the pressure of letting them all down as well as myself was too much.”

In other words, we just don’t need that added stress in our lives.

5.  Holding out for that special moment.

Beginning the journey through infertility causes your life to become an open book. What I mean by this is your doctors need to know almost every aspect of your life, sometimes this includes even delving deep into your family history to try and figure out what is going on. You’re even asked about intimate topics, functions about your body that you may not even be comfortable with sharing to your partner. You are both incessantly poked with needles, forced to take pills that mess with your emotions, have to take test after medical test, and you even have to sometimes (most times) go as far as having timed intercourse which then is also needed to be relayed to your doctors. It begins to feel as though you no longer have any type of privacy or control over your life. So for many of us, even though we may mention that we will be doing treatments, we are still vague. Why? Because we are holding onto one part of this journey that we can control, that gives us hope; to finally announce we are pregnant.

It may seem like such a small thing to most, but to be able to finally tell your family or friends that after all the pain, after all the suffering, after all the tears, that you and your partner successfully created a tiny human that is in your body at that very moment is everything. Sometimes holding onto the hope that that day may come is all we have to get through the pain.

  • “I haven’t told everyone when exactly we’re doing each step of our treatment. Honestly, it’s because I think about “normal” couples (the 7 in 8 lol) and all the fun things they get to do to surprise people. It’s way more fun to surprise people with announcements etc when we finally DO get pregnant, rather than people just asking, how’d it go? Seems silly, but it’s a big deal to me!…”
  • ” I  haven’t told my parents because I’ve always dreamed of being able to surprise them and tell them they are going to be grandparents (like anyone else who can conceive normally)…”

There you have it, five reasons why a lot of us choose to keep our journey through infertility private. Whether it be for a portion of the journey or all of it, we all have our reasons.

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Finding Hope in the Chaos

These past couple of weeks have been anything less than chaotic. After testing for a week straight I did end up ovulating, BUT it came way after CD3 which means the Clomid was probably useless. Right after that happened both of our dogs injured themselves one after another. My dog (Rhys) injured his back pretty severely on July 4th after jumping off the bed. It was so bad, we actually ended up rushing him to the Vet ER for immediate treatment. Now, to avoid surgery we need to keep him under watch all day every day for up to six weeks. Which in turn caused complications for our upcoming vacation this month. Which now is completely postponed. Right after that we noticed that my husband’s dog (Derrix), had a wound on top of his head. No idea at all where it came from. After further inspection I discovered that the wound was much larger than it appeared and slightly infected. Ugh!  On the bright side, since I am not working it’s not like it’s a huge loss for me to stay home.

I also began to have some health issues (big surprise! she said sarcastically), which actually frightened me a bit. Mainly because it had to do with my lungs. I was having some trouble breathing normally and couldn’t sit up against the back of a chair for more than five minutes. Any longer than that and I began going into an asthma attack. I also noticed that I could hear what sounded like fluid or congestion in my lungs, which normally isn’t a big deal if you’re coming off a cold or beginning to get one. Except, the noise had been there since my surgery in January. Granted I did get sick a couple times, which caused me to put off going to the doctor for a while, thinking that it was just a result of the colds. Plus, getting an appointment with my primary physician is next to impossible. Every time I call to make an appointment she’s either on leave or booked solid for a month.

After noticing that the symptoms hadn’t subsided for a few months, I decided to request a switch of primary physicians and made an appointment to see my new doctor. Surprisingly, my new primary was easy to get an appointment with. He determined that the cause of my symptoms was from my asthma. That was a massive relief! I was so worried it was going to stem from a much bigger issue. The doctor began to question how many times I was using my inhaler each day to which I replied pretty much never. He looked at me so confused and asked why I wasn’t using it every day. I explained to him that my previous primary physician had informed me to only use it as needed. Apparently that information was incorrect. Her nurses (and herself) never informed me that after my first respiratory infection, I was to begin using the inhaler once a day.  What?!

I was so furious that not only my primary, but her nurses as well would forget to notify me of such important information. Especially since I had gotten one other infection since that time and they still didn’t bring up that vital information. My new primary was shocked that they never informed me of the new usage, and obviously very concerned. In the end, it’s been about a month and after using my inhaler as directed my symptoms are almost completely gone. The hard part now is remembering to take the inhaler every day.

Through all of this mild chaos an unexpected silver lining came about. I ended up finding an adoption agency that both my husband and I were comfortable with. The bonus? They have offices in BOTH California and Texas. The other great thing was that all the items I was afraid would be deal breakers for them, were no trouble at all. After talking to the representative, I had a huge sigh of relief. The best part is, if we for some reason begin the process here in California (ie home study) it would transfer over to the Texas office as well. How amazing is that? It was a total answer to prayer. Even though we will not be able to begin the adoption process until shortly after moving to Texas, it’s still a comfort to know that we have found what we believe to be the right organization. Until the move, we wait and continue to endure the chaos.

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First Round Done

I finished taking Clomid for our first round of non-monitored treatment, and I’ve gotta say that I’m not confident anything will come of it. Why you might ask? If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a couple of ‘stories’ I posted about my body going haywire the past couple of years since our first IUI. It’s gotten so out of control that my RE has become concerned, which never happens. Basically my cycles have become completely unpredictable and so has my ovulation. So unpredictable that I can no longer estimate when cycle day one might happen, and my ovulation has gone from normal to abnormal. As in ovulating either one day after the end of my menstruation or two weeks after. Before the IUI I used to be able to tell my doctor when cycle day one would occur down to the very hour it would happen. Same for the ovulation. But as I said, not anymore.

This month though, took the cake on unpredictable. My menstruation cycle lasted for a grand total of 10 days. This is in comparison to what has become the ‘normal’ three to four days for my period. I was instructed to begin Clomid on the third day of my cycle, which I did, but because of the length of my period I’m just not sure it will do anything. It’s also the first time in my life that I’m not even certain that I will be able to ovulate because of this mess. I’m still planning on tracking everything per my doctor’s request, but I feel as though I’m doing so in vain. Who knows though, maybe God will perform a miracle and we will actually finally get our BFP this cycle. Until then, we wait. And if this cycle fails, we move on to the next round of Clomid.
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And it begins…

After doing acupuncture for about a month now, I decided that maybe adding in Clomid  for a couple cycles would be a good idea. To which my husband of course agreed. I was a bit nervous since I know most infertility specialists that I have run across aren’t supportive of the patient doing more holistic methods as the main item. Thankfully, our doctor wasn’t one of them. One of my favorite things about him is how brutally honest he is. I’ve always been drawn to people who are the real life version of Hugh Laurie’s character, House. I’d rather a doctor not be shy about telling me the honest truth than not giving me all the facts because it MIGHT upset me. Which I have run into before and it’s the absolute worst.

But I digress, our doctor was honest and recommended that we not do another IUI and move straight to the highest level of IVF.  With our history and family history of fertility, he felt that there would be a better chance of us conceiving if we did so. BUT because of our history, we still would only have about a 30-40% chance of conceiving. That number just isn’t worth the pain, money and time to pursue. Not to mention the fact that I am terrified of medical injections, the four injections that we needed to do for the IUI was bad enough. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the stress and mental breakdown I would go through if I had to do more than the four. In fact, the doctor would need to prescribe Xanax just to calm me down to do the injections.

Thankfully our doctor knows of my fear and both of our concerns, and completely respects our reasons for not moving on to IVF. The only option we have that does not include injections is Clomid, which we already had a feeling was the option. So, we will be doing two cycles of Clomid and then if still no BFP, we will begin looking into possibly doing another round of IUI. But another round of IUI is still a very large question mark. Neither one of us were entirely comfortable with the procedure, not by any fault of the doctor, but the uncomfortable part could have been a result of where we were in our lives at that moment.

For now, we are staying hopeful that we beat the 1% chance that we were given of conceiving on just Clomid. We will begin the Clomid cycle this month, CD1 is this week sometime, and then another in July. SO send us prayers and baby dust if you think of it!

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