National Infertility Awareness Week!

Start ASking

Hi beautiful people! I have decided to share my blog with my friends, family, and people I know. For years I have blogged without sharing it with too many people that I knew in real life. This blog started in 2012 as a place I could write about my thoughts and share things I was scared to really say out loud when it came to our struggles with infertility. When I found out we had fertility issues, I didn’t feel like I could talk to a lot of people about it for different reasons. Plus, it’s not exactly easy dinner conversation: “Pass me the bread, oh yeah I’m having trouble having a baby…” What I DID feel like I could do was write about it. So that’s what I did. In blogging I found a really amazing community of people who were in the same shoes. A great deal who had made it to the other side and had given me hope. Some, who to this day, are still struggling to conceive. Ultimately, it ended up being an amazing outlet to share and to listen.

I want to share my blog because when I look back at where we were in 2012 and what we went through to have a family, all I can do is be filled with gratitude and awe at where we are today. And guess what? I take literally ZERO credit for it. It’s all God. Without Him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Yes, we didn’t go through the typical process people go through to have a baby. I’m thankful for how far we have come in the medical world and through science. I’m grateful that God uses doctors, nurses, scientists, and all kinds of awesome people to make things happen. That’s just how good He is. So today what I want to offer others is this:

HOPE.

I share my blog because I believe there is hope for anyone who is dealing with infertility. Anyone who is walking this journey. It can be lonely, murky, unfamiliar, and altogether terrifying. I can tell you this – everything we went through shaped us and molded us in such a unique way. I learned to face fear head on. I learned not to be consumed with anxiety and worry. I learned that I had a choice, I could choose sorrow and depression OR I could choose hope and joy, even when it was seemingly impossible to do so. I thought it would be really cool to share my blog during National Infertility Awareness week.

This week is National Infertility Awareness week.

The definition of infertility is:

 …the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth. 

1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility. There is an excellent chance that someone around you is struggling with it or knows someone who is. It’s much more common than people realize.

The theme for National Infertility Awareness Week is #StartAsking. The foundation wants people to #StartAsking:

  • Employers for insurance coverage.
  • Your lawmakers and legislators to support issues important to the infertility community.
  • Friends and family to support you.
  • The media to cover infertility and the real challenges we all face.
  • Those who have resolved their infertility to stay involved.
  • OB/GYN or healthcare provider to talk about YOUR reproductive health.
  • For affordable care for treatment of a disease (all taken directly from resolve.org – edited).

I am going to encourage you to #StartPraying in addition to asking. Pray for your friends and family members who are walking through this. Encourage them. Let them know you are there for them. Pray for the wisdom to be there for them in a way that is helpful, encouraging, and uplifting.

And most importantly, hold on to hope.

 

Yes, I did IVF. No, I’m not ashamed.

unashamed of IVF

As I prepare myself to go back to work, I’m also preparing myself for the questions people will feel more bold to ask me. Questions about if twins run in my family and all of that nonsense. It used to be annoying and I would give people wishy washy answers, only because really it’s NONE of their business (I’m being real – it’s not. period.) However, I decided to use these annoying questions as an opportunity to educate people.

“Do twins run in your family?”

Nope. I went through IVF due to severe endometriosis.

::::Silence as they try to come up with their next question:::

I don’t know. Before I would be ambiguous about it or use one of the “lines” that can be used. “No, but they do now..” or “Actually, we do have twins on…” but now I’m feeling like I just don’t care anymore. Do you want to know? Do you really want to know? Okay, I will tell you. I went through the process of IVF, which resulted in an early miscarriage, then moved forward with a frozen embryo transfer (FET) which resulted in a twin pregnancy. Why? Because I had difficulty getting pregnant on my own due to severe endometriosis. My insides are all kinds of jacked up and when I went to have the surgery to correct it, my doctor told me about how severe it was and how he was unable to do a thing, and advised me to move forward with IVF. So that’s what we did. After much prayerful consideration, talking with my parents, our family, our pastors, and each other..we moved forward with the entire process.

I think people need to be more aware of the fact that it’s not necessarily easy for everyone to get pregnant at the drop of the hat. I was not one of those people who could get pregnant by simply standing next to my husband (lol)…so this is the road we decided to walk down. I also want to open up a dialogue. I mentioned before that when I was going through the entire process, and dealing with my fertility issues I felt really alone. The blog world and all of these forums became a home for me. A place where I could be honest, hold nothing back, and also connect with others who had gone before me or were experiencing the same kind of things. It was a safe place for me. It STILL is. But I want others to know that they are indeed not alone and if they need any support, and if I can offer it, here I am. I want people to know that it doesn’t make you any less of a person, woman, mom, or even a Christian (because as a Christian, I struggled with this – I wondered if I had enough faith or if God was okay with it..I really did.). I want people to know because I experienced a range of all of those emotions. I had so many things running through my head and did not have too many people to share it with. I want to remove the stigma or the shame from it. You may be wondering, why shame? Because I DID feel embarrassed and ashamed that I could not just go about everything the “natural” (oh how I loathe that word at times) way. I had to go a different route. But guess what? I learned that it was simply part of MY process! Just another thing to add to the list of things that shaped me into the person that I am today. It resulted in the most precious boys ever!

So, I have decided to just be honest about my journey. This does NOT mean that I will go into a detailed, play by play, every single time a person asks me about it. But perhaps it will open the door for people out there who are like me, and who simply need to know they are not alone. I will give you an example of how this has worked for me already.

I went to my school on Tuesday to meet with my substitute, observe a class, and get some paperwork. While I was in the classroom, a colleague who I had not seen in over TWO years (because she got pregnant and took two years off) came into the classroom and was welcoming me back. We were chit chatting and she asked me flat out about our process (I don’t rememeber the exact wording). Normally this would have ticked me off, because in reality like I mentioned it’s not anyone’s business..but I decided to just come out with it – “Actually, my husband and I had to go through the IVF process because I have severe endometriosis and….” and I proceeded to tell her a little bit of our story. Her response? “Wow! I had to go through that too! Because of my age they had to implant 3, and at one point it was twins but we lost one and….” and she proceeded to share with me a bit about her journey and guess what? I had NOOOOO idea she went through any of it! But guess what? There is someone right around the corner of me that went through a very similar road! She is a couple of rooms away! I’m not sure if I would have known that, had I not been willing to just be up front about it…and we were able to connect, share, and so forth. It was cool.

This is not for everyone. I know some people may disagree with my methods. But this is something that I feel pretty comfortable with. I also respect EVERYONE’S process. For some people IVF, frozen embryo transfers, and the like are not something they feel is the road they want to take or feel CALLED to take. Everyone’s road is different. I respect you!

Can I also address the cultural stigma associated with IVF? I’m Hispanic, Puerto Rican to be exact. My husband was born in PR, his mother, all of our family is Puerto Rican, our church is bilingual (99% Hispanic, from various countries) and producing children is something that is a given. Infertility is not talked about and when people find out you went through that, they are very surprised. I cannot speak for the entire culture, this is just MY experience so please don’t be offended! This also gives me an opportunity to let people know about infertility, IVF, and all of that jazz. I see it as an opportunity. I always said that I wanted to use what we’ve gone through for some kind of greater good. If I can let people know they’re not alone, educate people, and also just share about our process…then I am happy with that. I find it to be extremely liberating and freeing. And I love me some freedom!

Yes, I went through the IVF process. No, I’m not ashamed of it.

I came out of the infertility closet…a little bit.

So this past weekend, a couple of days after Thanksgiving, I came out of the infertility closet “a little” on facebook. Here is what I wrote, accompanying this picture:

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My greatest blessing, my little family! Last year in October we suffered a chemical pregnancy..basically, it’s a super early miscarriage. This was particularly devastating because we had been dealing with infertility issues for about two years and were SO excited to find out that we were finally pregnant… only to find out that it wasn’t going to turn out the way we had hoped. It was a dark time in our lives! But yet, here we are, a year later with not one..but TWO of the cutest little boys around. I feel doubly blessed and truly grateful! I don’t why things happen the way they do, but I do know that in the end, God is faithful! So this thanksgiving, I am truly thankful because these little boys have flipped our lives upside down for the better. And I would have it no other way.

It’s pretty wordy and I say I came out “a little” because I didn’t go into detail about IVF or everything we went through. I figured I didn’t really need to go there, but if someone asked, I wouldn’t mind saying telling them about it. Why did I feel the need to mention infertility and some of what we went through? Because when my hubby and I were going through it I felt really lonely, isolated, ashamed, and like I had no one that could relate or that I could talk to. Yes, I had best friends, family and all that jazz….but they didn’t necessarily understand how I felt because they hadn’t gone through it. I put myself out there for the people like me, who instead of seeing the 47382479 pregnancy of the day, when you yourself can’t get pregnant…would feel comforted to know that someone else went through it and made it through the other side. Having children does not necessarily “solve” the infertility thing..if I want to have a child again, I will have to go through the process again. Besides a miracle, I won’t be able to get pregnant on my own. So at times it’s still hard when I see so many people who can get pregnant so easily.

So what was the result of coming out? I honestly felt more free. Boom. BANG. There it is. It also opened a door, because right after I came out, I was messaged by someone going through struggles with infertility and thanking me for putting myself out there. That made me feel good. Yes, I have twins..I’m grateful. But I will NEVER forget the road I had to take to get there. As always, I leave you with pics from the best Thanksgiving ever.

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I’m a cutie and I know it! (To the tune of “I’m sexy and I know it)

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Everything’s better when we get to sit on daddy’s lap. Can’t you tell how thrilled we are?

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Mom’s not much better..

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But we love to kick our feet in our crib! Even if Mom DID dress us alike…AGAIN!

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Hanging out with my niece who is about my size…at age 4.

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Lilia reading to Josiah..from a Target receipt.

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“But I can feed him by myself…”

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Micah decided he had enough excitement for the day.

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But wait! We forgot to take a picture with the bibs. Can’t forget the Thanksgiving bibs!

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Hubby, hubby’s brother, best friend, myself. Yep.

And that’s how we rolled Thanksgiving 2013.

What a week!

It has been a really crazy week when it comes to our vehicle! Two weeks ago we had to replace two tires, last week one of the entire tires literally fell off ! We had to pay $600 to get it fixed! Yesterday, hubby and I were about to embark on a much needed date night. As we got ready to pull out of the driveway and switched the shifter into drive, the ENTIRE shifter broke! Literally, our steering wheel is broken. When that happened, I burst into tears. Blame it on the pregnancy but I just couldn’t take another bad thing happening with our car. It’s the car we depend on  because our other car is CRAP and we can’t take it out of town. So anyway…this is a problem since all of my doctors appointments are one hour away. On topic that, our church is in Delaware (we live in NJ). Attending church and staying spiritually connected is of utmost importance to me. On top of that, I am very involved and sing on the worship team and am one of the Sunday school teachers. I WANT to be there.

Thankfully my dad has an autobody shop and has connections so he brought one of his mechanics over and they are going to fix it this week, but that left us carless. Plus, it’s pricey.

Silver lining: when we told our pastor we wouldn’t be able to make it to church he offered to pick us up in New Jersey so that we could go. We’re going to stay over his house and hang with his family (they are awesome and young, relates or pastors..I love them!) on top of that, they are going to let us borrow one of their cars for the week since my pastor is going to be in Puerto Rico for this week. They know we have doctors appointments and that we really want to be there! It’s really nice of them and I’m so appreciative! Both cars are gorgeous so we will really have to take care of them!

Had bloodwork this morning and everything is where it should be! Hooray! Yesterday I slept for three hours during the day. I’m so tired lately! Also trying to eat more and drink more water. I have more bloodwork Monday so hopefully everything goes accordingly! I want me healthy twinsies!

Keep the good news coming!

So my nurse texted me and told me that my beta is at 1618! That would be my third beta. She said that I will possibly have an ultrasound after I hit 2000 which at this rate I should be at that by Saturday, which is when I have my next beta. This is the furthest we’ve gotten on our Infertility journey so to say that I am excited does not capture how I feel adequately! We have a long road ahead but I’m so grateful for the good news we have received thus far. Lord please let it keep coming!

On top of that, a random teacher at my job told me she had a dream I was pregnant. I do not work anywhere near this particular teacher and she has no idea on our struggles. It made me happy to hear that!

 

Beta # 1…feeling hope again!

Beta number one was 126 and my progesterone was over 50 which they said was a good thing! I wish I could say I felt out of the water but the truth is that because I experienced a c/p the first time around, I really want to see beta # 2 and beta # 3 as well so that I can make sure that these numbers are doubling! Some good signs this time around: no spotting. Though spotting is completely normal, I did spot during my first IVF and it ended up being a chemical pregnancy and it made me freak out the whole time because I kept feeling like I was getting my period!! This time around, I have not spotted even once. I KNOW spotting is normal, but I would prefer not to spot and I’m happy that his time around that I am not. My cramps have also subdued as well. Now I just feel a lot of exhaustion and tiredness. I really need to work on staying more hydrated as well.
We really don’t want to tell anyone until we are done with the first trimester. That sounds like a long time but after the first trimester the risk of miscarriage drops to like 1% from what I heard. I’m nervous about other aspects of all this as well, especially telling people. Not everyone will understand why we did it or the timing of why we did it…but there is a reason. In the middle of this entire process, my husband and I wanted to completely quit. It was tiring, exhausting emotionally and physically. There’s truly nothing “fun” or exciting about this process in my opinion. So we actually scheduled an appointment with our RE to tell him just that – pull the plug, this whole thing sucks, we want out. And when we got to the appointment, that’s exactly what we told him. He basically told us the timing was NOW. We had to go for it in this moment because of factors including my health, my eventual surgeries, and because our insurance was still covering it, etc. He went on and on and on. By the end of it, we agreed to continue. This is not Natalie and Jose timing. We really believe this is God’s timing. We don’t understand why now in this specific moment, but we are going for it. It’s not going to be easy.

 

 

HPT today..faint positive.

So the first time I went through IVF # 1 I told myself I absolutely would NOT take a home pregnancy test and that I would wait for my beta. The day of my beta I experienced the worst anxiety ever…like, I was practically in tears because I was so nervous! This time around I couldn’t resist and because of all of the pressure I wanted a heads up about what our results would *possibly* be. I took a HPT a few days ago and it was a very faint faint positive. Today I took another one and it was a bit darker. Here’s the pic:

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When I saw that I felt super happy! At the same time, until I get that blood test I won’t get my hopes TOO high but this is the first time on a HPT that I’ve ever gotten positive results.I really just want this to work for us this time! I also told myself I wouldn’t say anything to my husband…but what did I do? Run upstairs, throw on all the lights, and shout “DO YOU SEE IT?! DO YOU SEE IT? IT’S NOT JUST ME IS IT? YOU SEE IT RIGHT?!” Mind you, my poor husband was sleeping. But he agreed that “yes” he saw it too. Let’s go Friday..come on now…I’m ready to hear my results!! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!

4dpt..feeling some cramping going on!

Today is the 4th day post transfer! I’ve been feeling crampy for a couple of days. From what I read, that’s perfectly normal. Still, I wish I didn’t feel any cramps at all! The past four days have actually flown by and I know that before I know it, next Friday will be here. Christmas break is going to go by so fast..I just know it! Either way, I’m super psyched for the break. My students flooded me with tons of gifts, especially chocolate. I’ll be staying away from the chocolate for now though because of the caffeine that’s in it…but it was still such a sweet sentiment! My 7th graders really know me.

I’ve been definitely staying in a much more positive place thought wise lately. Trying not to obsess over this and trying to think that the cramps I’m feeling are implantation cramps and that everything truly is going to work out for us this time around. I’ve been debating whether or not I should POAS on the day of our beta just so that I have a heads up. Still not sure though. My husband and I always said we wouldn’t but under these circumstances we are considering it.

I have been keeping extremely busy with Christmas shopping and just with life as we know it! Normally our lives are pretty hectic as it is so in a way it’s good because it keeps my mind occupied. This is what my schedule looked like this week:

Monday: Christmas party for my Bible Institute. Then we are on Christmas break for two weeks!

Tuesday: FET!! A day of complete rest!

Wednesday: Bible Study! Our church is in DE so it’s 45 minutes to get here and 45 minutes to get back. Basically it takes up our whole night but it’s well worth it.

Thursday: Wasn’t feeling well so after my job I came home, slept, and did lots of grading!

Friday: Work, Christmas Pollyanna party with my girls from work after work, and then off to church in DE to prepare for our Christmas program this Sunday!

Today: Got up at 7 am to take my hubby to work (we are having car issues and getting his car fixed Wednesday after Christmas, for now we are sharing one car!). After I took the hubster I went to get an oil change, went to the mall, went to Target, went back to hubster’s job to drop off some keys, went to Wal-Mart, ate some delicious Spanish food, came home..straightened my hair, and now I’m relaxing! Nonetheless, the busy-ness in my opinion is a good thing! It helps me to keep my mind off all of the waiting. Of course I bought my husband MORE Christmas gifts. Anytime I leave the house, I’m buying him gifts. He’s going to kill me when he seems how much I got him this year.I just can’t help it! He’s been my hero through this whole thing. He’s been positive, giving me the shots (as painful as they are) and has been my rock throughout this entire thing so I absolutely cannot help spoiling him this Christmas!

I’m hoping that our ultimate gift will be a BFP on the 28th! The verse of today was:

Jeremiah 29:11-12 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

I believe it! Hope! Hope, hope, hope, hope!

FET complete!!! Now it’s time to wait.

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So today I had my FET! They were able to transfer BOTH embies which thawed out “beautifully” according to the embryologist. I was so happy about that because I was so nervous! I’ve been worrying so much lately and I just don’t want to deal with disappointment but I also want to have faith that this IS going to work for me this time around! Today I just played some of my fave Christian songs from my “Encouragement” playlist that I created. I’ll include songs from the playlist at the end of this blog for those who are interested.

We had to wait like an hour so they let me empty partially twice. I think I emptied too much but it didn’t hinder anything thankfully! The transfer seemed like it happened so fast. I asked, “Is that it?” During the half hour wait after the transfer I made my hubby bring his iPad so we could watch Parks and Recreation so that it would take my mind off the fact that I really had to pee!

I spent the rest of the afternoon laying down, grading papers, updating my gradebook, and now I’m currently watching a Christmas Lifetime Movie. I will be continuing most of my meds. I can’t wait to be done with prometrium and the progesterone oil! Prometrium makes me EXHAUSTED. All I want to do is sleep sleep sleep! And the progesterone “booty shot” hurts the heck out of me! I’m about 100 pounds and five feet tall so I don’t have much meat happening down there…therefore, the shot makes me SO sore to the point where I have to sleep on my side. I’m also ready to be done with taking part of my Estrace “up there.” All of this will be well worth it though in the end! My first beta is on December 28th at 9 a.m. I won’t receive my results until the afternoon.

I’m remaining hopeful! It’s like the verse above says, to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I want to choose hope over fear! Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. I want to trust.

One week away.

As of tomorrow I will be one week away from my frozen embryo transfer. I have one more appointment on Wednesday to check out my lining and then everything will move on as planned! I’m very hopeful that this is going to work out for us this time around.Can I please fast forward to the end of December when I find out my results?

I’m ready to be done taking meds but I know that that is definitely not going to happen anytime son. I’ve had to set reminders on my phone just to remember what to take and when. I was freaking out this morning because I think I forgot to take my thyroid medicine yesterday…I hope it doesn’t throw anything off! Other than that, I’m excited. Have a good week everyone 🙂