Blank Space

It was 8 days after the transfer, and I still hadn’t tested. I was pretty proud of myself. I hadn’t even been tempted by the three pregnancy tests my mom left sitting on the dresser before she left my house. During the waiting period, I had been busy with sorority recruitment (I’m an advisor for a local chapter) and catching up at work. Surprisingly, I had been able to keep my mind pretty well occupied with things other than the test. Plus, I didn’t mind putting it off. As much excitement and hope as I had about seeing a positive, the fear of seeing a negative was far greater. So honestly, I didn’t feel the need to rush it. I was focused. I was determined. I was not going to test early.

Then came the rainy drive home Wednesday evening. Suddenly, the unknown bothered me more than that fear of a negative. It was Day 9, and I couldn’t hold out anymore. I needed to test. I called Brennen who said, “And you promise you haven’t already tested?” He was hoping I had secretly tested and already knew like last time. He hates waiting on pink lines. I walked through the front door and headed straight to the bathroom. I did my thing then put the test on the counter, walked out, and closed the door behind me. Brennen started the timer…5 minutes to go.

Over the past few days leading up to the test, people often asked me how I felt. Boy was that a loaded question! Physically, I was cramping off and on and tiring easily. My hips were starting to get pretty sore from the daily IM injections. Mentally, I could feel myself becoming drained as I purposefully kept my mind busy with life outside of IVF. Emotionally, I was positive about this transfer. I told myself from the beginning, “Positive Vibes Only,” and I had stuck with it. And if I had to guess whether or not I was pregnant…let’s just say I was more optimistic than I had ever been. But on that ride home Wednesday something changed….and I knew I wasn’t.

Brennen’s timer went off, and we both took deep breaths as we opened the bathroom door. There it was on the bathroom counter – a pregnancy test with one dark pink line. Beside that line…nothing, a blank space. It’s funny how in that moment, something so small can fill an entire room. It was all I could see – that blank space. Negative.

Brennen braced himself on the bathroom counter and hung his head. I didn’t know what to say to him, but I thought to myself, “Is this ever going to work?” The next few seconds were a blur until Brennen raised up and hugged me. I could feel his heart pounding against my chest. His face was warm, and I could tell he was on the verge of tears. After that, there’s just more blurriness as we processed another negative.

I called my mom. She said a bad word. Brennen texted his parents. Then, we sat in the living room and got mad. I mean, it’s really not fair. It’s just not. And it sucks so bad. There are too many pieces of shit in the world with children. People who don’t want children have them. Why can’t we? Why is this so hard for us? What did we do wrong? It’s not fair. Period. And I know bad things happen to good people all the time. I know we still have so much to be thankful for. I know our situation could be so much worse than what it is. I know children aren’t rewards. But knowing all that doesn’t matter in those first moments after staring at what seems like the 100th negative pregnancy test in 3 years. Because in those moments, all you can think about is how this may never happen. You may never be parents. You may never have a child. That becomes your reality. And that’s what makes you so mad you could scream.

Deep breaths…

We have since chilled out a little. Still, we’re more mad than we are sad. In fact, I’ve yet to cry. In this journey, if I cried about every bad thing that happened, well, I’d be crying a lot. Instead, I’ve given myself somewhat of an emotional threshold. Things build up, and at some point, I break. Until I do, I push forward. And that’s what we’re doing now – pushing forward. Our perseverance has surprised us!

So now we’re waiting on what I like to call our WTF appointment with Memphis to see if we can find an answer for why this transfer didn’t work or, if like I suspect, it’s unexplainable and simply just didn’t work. From there, we’ll put together a plan for moving forward to transfer #4. As I type that, I can’t believe we’re at #4. I mean, at some point the odds have to be in our favor, right?

Finally, for those of you who have been following this journey from the beginning or since we started blogging a year ago, you may be running out of things to say to us in difficult times. That’s ok! We don’t expect you to find the right sentiments and words of encouragement, and it’s ok to admit you don’t know what to say. But I will ask that you please refrain from any phrase that has the word “time” in it. I can’t really explain why, but something like “Give it time” or “It’s in God’s timing” sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me right now.  A simple “This sucks” will do. Even a “Hang in there” or a “We’ll keep praying” is good. You can even throw an angry face emoji our way and we’ll totally get it! Or you don’t have to say anything. Just keep praying. Pray that in this struggle, we find strength, peace, and understanding.

And because I can’t find a way to close out this post, I’ll leave it here with a “This sucks!”

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Sad and a Little Pissy

In my last post, I described the June 14th lining check as “something we had to get through.” I had no idea what a loaded statement that was…

During the ultrasound, the tech said my lining was measuring a little over 6 mm. I immediately turned to Brennen, my human Wikipedia on female reproduction. He gave me a “That’s ok” nod as the tech proceeded to measure my follicles. They needed to be small, and they were. A win! As I got dressed, Brennen was busy on his phone, looking up what my lining should be. I had never had a lining quite that thin. I usually measured around 9, so a thin lining wasn’t a potential problem on our radar that warranted any pre-requisite research. Before we walked out of the room, he said, “I think we’re OK. It’s still growing, and you haven’t even started progesterone.” So with that reassurance and my trend of problem-free uterine linings, I assumed we would get good news that afternoon. I sent a few thumbs-up selfie Snapchats to my friends and family and headed back to work.

Then around 4:00, I answered the phone, with pen and paper in hand for my transfer directions, and heard Nurse Memphis say, “So that lining isn’t really where we need it to be.” ARGH! “I had a feeling,” I admitted, although I had tried my best to ignore it all day. Doctor’s orders were to stay on the Estrace for one more week to see if the lining thickened and to come to Memphis for a lining check. The nurse told me, “Even if it’s still a little thin, it may be pretty enough to proceed.” So that was the plan – keep popping the estradiol pills in hope that I develop a fluffy, pretty lining. Transfer postponed.

For a week, I did just as Dr. Memphis directed. I also took some advice from my acupuncturist and started drinking Raspberry Leaf tea and eating iron-rich foods that would either thicken my lining or clog my arteries. Then Tuesday night, we made the trip to Memphis.

We were only at the clinic for about 20 minutes – just long enough for me to get my blood drawn for estradiol and progesterone checks and for a date with “Wanda.” I don’t think I have ever been so nervous about an ultrasound. We’re getting pretty good at knowing what the uterus looks like on the screen, so when it popped up, we both perked up and said, “There it is!” It was beautiful, according to the ultrasound tech. Three pretty layers and measuring at 8.75 mm – right where it needed to be. We drove back home on a high note.

Later that afternoon, my phone lit up with a call from Memphis. “You’re lining looked really good,” the nurse said. “Duh!” I proudly thought. Then came the but. My progesterone was high which indicated that I had ovulated. Transfer cancelled.

We all know someone who got pregnant while on birth control, right? Birth control loads your body up with estrogen early in your cycle, which is supposed to shut your ovaries down and keep you from ovulating. But even with all that estrogen in your system, in rare cases, an egg will spring forward from a follicle and send you into ovulation. Thus the story of a “birth control baby.” Estrace has the same task before a transfer. It’s estrogen, and it shuts my ovaries down. But there are those rare cases, and this month, I was one of them. I mean, seriously?! My ovaries have super powers that defy the odds and release an egg amidst an ass-ton of estrogen. But unfortunately the buck stops there. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this infertile situation in the first place.

So anyway, it’s back to the starting line for us. I’ll start my cycle in a week or two then proceed with birth control…again. Then comes the Estrace…again. This time around, Doc is putting me on Lupron injections that will (hopefully) keep me from ovulating.  But first, we wait.

Before I get into what this means for us emotionally, let me say that this is not an invitation to a pity party.  I promised myself that I would never write a blog post about what not to say to an infertile couple because 1) there are a gazillion articles about this subject out there already and 2) we’re never going to open up the conversation about infertility if we keep shutting it down with rules. But I will say this – sometimes the best thing someone can say is, “This sucks.” Just a recognition of how shitty the situation is goes a long way! My best friend is my best friend because when I share bad news, she sends me memes of cats saying curse words! And encourage us with reminders of how strong we are. Yes, that may sound a little self-absorbed, but if people are going to feel sorry for us, let encouragement grow from that pity, not sad puppy dog eyes and an empty sentiment about how everything happens for a reason.

Sorry if I sound pissy. But heck, I am pissy. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m beaten down. We both are. Yesterday was the closest I’ve felt to giving up. I know we won’t give up, but that hope we had after a successful retrieval and a positive test (even though it resulted in a miscarriage) fades a little more with each cancelled transfer. We’ll get better, though. We’ll cope and push through. We just have to let this sadness run its course. One of the most inspirational quotes I’ve found during my IVF Pinterest-ing didn’t tell me about trusting God’s timing, having hope, finding strength, or believing in miracles. It simply told me it’s ok to be sad.Own the Sadness

So that’s what I’m going to do right now…be sad and own the hell out of it.

(And yeah, I’ll probably be a little pissy too.)

Canceled

My phone rang yesterday around 2:00.  It was Memphis.  “That’s odd,” I thought as I answered.  The next few seconds were fuzzy.  I can’t remember exactly what the nurse said.  The only word that I processed was the one I scribbled down on the Post-it note I grabbed off my desk – “CANCELED.”

After a pause, I woke up from my brief fog, asked the questions I needed answered, and jotted down much better notes.  In a nutshell, my prolactin level is too high to proceed with the transfer.  We’ve known since we first started fertility treatments that I have an elevated prolactin level, but we don’t know why.  I even had an MRI back in 2015 to see if I had a pituitary gland tumor, which I didn’t. Thank goodness.  So now, I’ve stopped taking the Estradiol since this transfer cycle is over and am on Cabergoline (again) to lower my prolactin.   In a month, I’ll have another blood test done to see if it has dropped.  In the meantime, my doctor will let me begin birth control for down regulation (again) once I start my cycle.  The timing should work out to where my repeated prolactin test will take place just before my baseline ultrasound (three days after stopping birth control).  If the level is high…another cancellation.  But if it’s back to normal, I can proceed with the Estradiol (again) and then onward to the transfer.

After all that sunk in, how did we feel? Well, pretty freaking annoyed.  This isn’t fair. Never has been. Never will be.  And what next? I mean, really, what the hell? It feels like a stale story line on Grey’s Anatomy, sans plane crashes.  But after letting out a few choice phrases and grunts of frustration, I tried to find the silver lining (because let’s be honest, I need those silver linings to get through this).  If something is wrong, I don’t want to move forward; so I’m thankful my doctor is being cautious with my elevated levels.  We can’t risk a precious embryo if my body isn’t ready.  And after I thought about it, I realized my mind wasn’t ready either.  I have been so unbelievably nervous about this transfer. After all, it’s our third, and the third time seems like so many more times than the second.  I’ve woken up sick in the middle of the night twice this week; Brennen chalked it up to nerves.  I’ve had heartburn out of this world! And for the most part, I’ve been…blah, for lack of a better term.  Tuesday night, Brennen wanted to shake me out of my slump.  Literally, he told me he wanted to shake me! I had also been dreading the pregnancy test, which would have been the weekend of Mother’s Day.  I don’t think I even need to explain my reasoning behind that one.  So I guess if I’m looking for that silver lining and trying to convince myself this postponement is for the best, once I get past the frustration, there is a little relief.  An extra month (and hopefully that’s all) gives me some time to get my mind and my body right.

For the next few weeks, we’ll take a break from the blog and all things infertility, except the daily pre-natal and the twice-a-week Cabergoline.  We’ll plant our crops for the year in our suburban garden, finally get those Christmas decorations back in the attic, and celebrate my 30th birthday (maybe at the beach hint, hint).  Until then, please pray for a happy mind, a happy body, and a much lower prolactin. See you on the other side of 30!

#InfertilitySucks

We told ourselves when we first started this blog that we were going to keep things upbeat and not dwell on the negativity of our situation.  We didn’t want our posts to be invitations to a pity party.  We read posts with #InfertiltySucks and decided we didn’t want to beat down our readers, or ourselves, with that message.  But you know what?  Infertility does suck.  And if I’m going to be real about what we’re going through, then I need to tell you about those days when everything hits like a ton of bricks. Today was one of those days.

Brennen and I researched the heck out of IVF and the reproductive cycle when we first started fertility treatments in late 2015.  We know more than we ever thought we would know about hormones, sperm, ovaries, eggs, embryos, etc. Moving into this next phase of our journey, we decided that first and foremost we need to get our bodies ready for reproduction before jumping into another round of IVF.  The way we see it, when you’ve been labeled with “unexplained infertility” like we have, IVF is an expensive, emotional shot in the dark, so we need to do what we can do to shine a little light.  So we’ve been researching! The plan is to take lots of vitamins, look into my endometriosis, and maybe try some acupuncture and other Eastern Medicine treatments.

So here we are with vitamins lined up on our counter and neatly arranged in my pill organizer, my case file ready to submit to the endometriosis center in Atlanta, and “The Infertility Cure” already worn in with dog-eared pages and highlights.  We’ve read articles and books all along the way for the past year and had numerous discussions with our doctor, but no matter how helpful, they all have a common theme – fix Breanne. Then it hits me.  Everything in our plan to get our bodies ready really means getting my body ready.

I’m the one with endometriosis plaguing my body. I’m the one who may have to undergo excision surgery.

I’m the one with the elevated Prolactin. I’m the one with the “fair” FSH levels.

I’m the one with bad eggs. I’m the one who takes three times as many vitamins, will go see an acupuncturist, and needs to change my diet to improve them.

I’m the one that caused us to have bad embryos.

I’m the one who couldn’t keep our one transferred embryo safe.

I’m the one…that’s broken.


I wrote that first part of the post this afternoon. It’s been sitting on my computer for hours while I contemplated what to say, how to wrap it up, and if I should even post it.  On the brink of a trip to Memphis for a second opinion and a second round of treatments,  my thoughts are weighing heavy.  Again, I’m not looking for a pity party.  I just want people to know it sucks. If I had waited until tomorrow, then maybe I could have ended this post on a high note, but today…I can’t. So I’ll just end with this… #InfertilitySucks .