Friday, December 29, 2017

IVF - The Journey

From the beginning of my IVF journey I’ve had a huge amount of support. I have friends who have gone through the process, friends who are going through the process and friends who don’t completely understand IVF, but are there for me nonetheless. I am also blessed to have a husband who is an awesome cheerleader and who is capable of handling all of the unstable emotions that have possessed me during this journey. I’ve never truly been alone, but it’s been a lonely journey at times especially when I allow my thoughts to run rampant for an extended period of time. 

Although my good friend had given me the full IVF run-down, I still wasn’t prepared for how taxing it would be. 

I’m on a break at the moment, but I've practically lived at the fertility clinic for the majority of the year. My life has become twice-daily booty injections, pills, blood work and unstable emotions. Thank God that I’m great with needles because there is a lot of sticking and poking involved. The injections are a team effort. I prepare the injections and Edward is in charge of administering. 

Preparation for the egg retrieval was physically and mentally exhausting. One morning, my co-worker/friend swung by my desk to say hello and I felt myself beginning to crack. I was already in a troubled state before she stopped by and that ‘Hello’ set me off. Because I was at work, I blinked back my meltdown and after being woo-wooed by my friend, I quickly got myself under control. 

I tried to be strong. I tried to convince myself that it was only appointments. I can do appointments. They tell you what time to be there, you wake up and you go. But it's so much more than 'only appointments' and there is only so much psyching up of myself I could do before the situation leveled me. 

My egg retrieval was extremely comfortable and the outcome was positive. I had healthy eggs that developed into healthy fertilized embryos. We lost a few of the eggs, which is normal, but we still have a good number of embryos of which I hope 1 (or 2) will develop into a baby so that I don’t have to go through the egg retrieval process again; but if I have to do it again - I will. 

Now that we had our good, healthy embryos we began the preparing for the embryo transfer. Preparing for the embryo transfer was less intense than preparing for the egg retrieval, but still extremely exhausting. My first embryo transfer was canceled because my uterine lining was a bit thin. I really appreciate that they didn't want to waste my embryo on a ‘chance’, especially since we went through so much to get them. Still, I was really disappointed. I was aware that I should be flexible because things can change from one day to the next or be canceled at the drop of a hat, but I’m not a flexible person. This experience is forcing me into flexibility whether I like it or not.

About a week after my canceled embryo transfer, we began preparing for the transfer again. This time I’d searched Google inside-out and upside-down for methods of increasing the thickness of my uterine lining. I drank pomegranate juice, red raspberry leaf tea and a good friend recommended acai extract supplements. My doc also prescribed additional medication so that instead of receiving one nightly booty injection Edward had the pleasure of administering two. Something worked because my uterine lining thickened beautifully and we were given a date for our embryo transfer.

The transfer was easy, but the doctor who performed the transfer asked if I’d ever had surgery on my uterus. I figured he asked me that question because he’d had a hard time inserting the catheter, possibly due to scar tissue that developed from my previous surgeries.

My embryo transfer failed and I went dark for a few weeks. I knew that there was a huge chance that the transfer would fail, but I was hopeful going into it for the first time. I was a bit hard on myself for believing that the first try would be successful and I had to fight to accept that the hope I felt was natural. 

I tried to talk myself out of the darkness, but it became hard to get up in the morning. The act of removing my feet from the bed and getting them to touch the floor was difficult. Getting out of bed meant that I had to go out, smile and pretend that I was ok. I was already exhausted and pretending took a lot of energy. I just wanted to lie down. I had such a bad breakdown at work one day that I thought I was going to have to go home. I couldn’t be on the street or on the train in the condition I was in so I just hid in the bathroom and called my dad-friend who has always been great at calming me down. I really felt like I was going crazy.

I’m blessed to have a two surrogate mom-friends and one surrogate dad-friend who continuously look after me in situations like these and who have saved me millions of dollars in therapy. One of my Christian surrogate mom-friends was able to talk me off the ledge. I’d completely shut down, but I knew that I needed to talk to someone and so I reached out to this particular mom-friend. She actually didn’t say much, but she said everything exactly right as if she had a message to deliver specifically to me. It sounds insane, but I felt the darkness lift as my friend was speaking and at the end of our conversation I felt complete peace. That conversation broke me out of my depression and a peace that passes all understanding has been with me ever since.

I had another painful test on my uterus to determine the condition of the cavity before having another embryo transferred. I was right about the scar tissue. Thankfully, by the time I received the call confirming that I would need a third surgery to remove scar tissue in my uterus, I was in a much better mental space. I am actually really looking forward to the surgery because it will give me a chance to relax for an entire week.

My surgery was supposed to take place this month, but everything is out of whack due to the medication my body has endured, so the surgery has been postponed until January. In the beginning, I had an expectation of immediacy and with IVF, that’s not at all realistic. I’ve come to accept that a change in a day, a month or a couple of months doesn’t really make much of a difference. Things are going to happen when they are going to happen and there isn't a thing I can do about it. 

At the end of every year I visualize where (God willing) I hope to be by the end of the following year. I’m working on adjusting my expectations. I’m working on letting go of the things that I can’t control and making the most of the things I can control. I’m grateful to be in a better place mentally and I’m grateful to have people in my life to steer me back on the right path whenever I veer into darkness. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The IVF Struggle is Real

In the summer of 1991 the youngest member of my Cazley family was born. I was ten-years-old when I became a big sister, but mentally I was still a baby. I still wanted and needed my mother desperately. She was my world, the only thing I cared about and I wasn’t mature enough, when the first of my Cazley brothers arrived, to truly appreciate the glorious miracle that a newborn baby was.

When my second brother was born I was twelve. By then I was a little more mature. In the words of Britney Spears, I was ‘not yet a woman’, but old enough to appreciate what a newborn meant to the Cazley family. By then I was old enough to appreciate the fresh bloom and the beam of pure happiness that the new baby brought into our lives.

My mom fell ill soon after the baby was born so I became his sole caretaker. I fed him, I changed him, I sang to him and rocked with him long into the night when he just wouldn’t go the f*%k to sleep. Although he was mine, he never truly belonged to me. He was an extension of my heart and of my DNA, but really, he wasn’t mine and I was absolutely fine with that. I was uninterested in him fully belonging to me because I was a selfish twelve-year-old who was growing breasts, discovering boys and discussing those boys with my friends. Regardless, I was still able to experience a maternal love spreading through me as his tiny body lay curled up on my chest or in my arms. I never forgot that feeling or the fresh smell of his curly, new-to-the-world head.

Someone at church once overheard me calling my brother ‘my baby’ and I became embarrassed because I didn’t want any outsiders to witness just how much I loved this baby. Maternal love came so naturally to me, even at the age of twelve, that it only made sense that I would one day be a mother.

In 2013, I thought my time had come. After a late period, two lines on a stick told me that I was indeed with child. Those two lines on that stick are still the most miraculous and surreal thing that have ever happened to me. I was home alone when I took the test and I ran screaming so loudly from the bathroom that my cat went running for cover.

A blood test confirmed my pregnancy. An 8 week appointment further confirmed it, but in week 9, an emotionally and physically painful miscarriage knocked me off me feet, sunk me into depression and shut down my dream of motherhood for the moment.

During my pregnancy, a large fibroid was discovered in my uterus. A few years later, I had the fibroid removed with the intention of having a baby inhabit that space. Shortly after that surgery, another growth was discovered. So after having the two uterine surgeries, I got the green light from my OBGYN. Maternally I’m old, so I didn’t want to waste time trying naturally; I made an appointment with a fertility clinic that was recommended by my OBGYN. I had a consultation, underwent a few tests and now I was just waiting for the results.

A few days before Mother’s Day I learned that not one, but both of my fallopian tubes were blocked. This was an absolute shock to me especially since I’d gotten pregnant naturally the first time. In order to obtain my own fresh smelling, curly, new-to-the-world head, I would have to undergo In Vitro Fertilization.

The Mother’s Day after my miscarriage was extremely tough. Over the years Mother's Day has become easier to handle, but this past Mother’s Day I spent all of my energy struggling not to embarrass myself in public with an ugly cry. My throat hurt from holding it in all day, but I am extremely impressed with how well I did.

So began the process of testing and ongoing daily, every-other-daily early in the morning ass appointments. If you know me well you know my ass ain’t an early in the morning daily, every-other-daily appointment person, but for my own fresh smelling, new-to-the-world baby, I will be that person.

I’m certainly not a victim and I hate ever coming off like one, but I just can’t understand why the natural progression of my life always includes so many road blocks. The second I overcome one thing, there is always something else and it’s as if I can't ever catch a break. I’m so damn exhausted and the sad thing about this life is that it could always be worse. This has been my mentality for the majority of the year; fighting with myself to stay afloat – If I allow myself to succumb to my negativity there is nowhere to spiral but downwards. I only have one life to live and I refuse to live my life on a downward spiral.

One of the fights I often have with myself is regarding my previous pregnancy. I’m disappointed that my previous pregnancy wasn’t successful. My baby would have been three-years-old now. I realize that the body is an awesome machine. Many miscarriages take place because the fetus is abnormal and the pregnancy is not meant to be successful for that reason. The body knows this and takes control. I understand all of that, but sometimes I just wonder why. IVF isn’t cheap and my previous pregnancy was free. I know that sounds hilarious (I’m crazy), but it’s true.

Before IVF, I thought about the process in such a frivolous, glamorous way. Why not undergo IVF if you have the money? Why not undergo IVF if you can get twins? Well there is nothing glamorous about it and it’s not something I would ever wish on anyone.

When I had thoughts of starting a family, IVF was not at all what I had in mind. It has certainly been an emotionally, mind-twisting ride. I’m working on accepting circumstances that are out of my control. If I dwell on my sadness and disappointment I will never move forward so I only have one choice, and that’s taking whatever steps necessary to get me to where I hope to be.

To be continued…