Giving Up Is Not an Option #2

During our last visit, as previously stated in “Giving Up’s Not an Option #1”, the doctor was hesitant to begin any kind of treatment with us as she felt we were going backwards. However, she knew how cautious we were with moving forward with more invasive/expensive treatments and decided to start us on 50mg of Clomid. The doctor said she wanted us to begin treatment so these next few weeks/months of debating on whether we wanted to take more time without medical help, seek assistance from a specialist or try the research facility, didn’t go to waste. We both thoroughly appreciated her eagerness and willingness to help.

I was skeptical about starting Clomid since I had already been on this medicine in the past. It was the first fertility medicine that I used and when I tried it in August 2017 my progesterone level dropped from 6.6 ng/ml to 6.0 ng/ml. I was then switched to a different medicine the next month because the Clomid “wasn’t working.” So, I was skeptical to say the least.

I took the medicine as stated on days 5-9 at the same time every day. It didn’t take long for the side effects to kick in. The side effects for this medicine vary from person to person. However, the two that affected me the most are the hot flashes and hormonal acne. Hormonal acne is under the skin cysts around your jaw line and cheeks, and let me tell you – it is not cute. I just kept telling myself if it helps us conceive then it will all be worth it.

Day 21 finally came around, which meant my first blood draw to test my progesterone level. In the past I would get the results the next day, but day 22, 23, and 24 came and passed with no results. Then it was the weekend and I had forgotten about the test results. I was surprised Monday morning I saw the notification “Your health record contains new results.” Of course, I could not click fast enough to see that number. With a pit in my stomach I hit the results button and saw my progesterone level was 13.1ng/ml. OH MY GOODNESS, I was ecstatic! The medicine was working.

When I saw the number, the side effects didn’t seem so bad knowing the medication was working. Now it was the waiting game on whether my period would come, which would mean I was not pregnant. Of course, as any woman wanting to become pregnant, you think “this could be it.” However, on day 28, as if by clockwork, my monthly friend came for her visit. It was a slight pull on my heart strings, but knowing the medication was working continued to give me hope.

I went back in to see the doctor the next day. She was grinning from ear to ear seeing the jump in my numbers. She said that while 13.1ng/ml was good, she would like to see my numbers at 20 ng/ml or higher. So, she wanted to continue with Clomid, but wanted to double the dose this time. Instead of 50mg of Clomid it would be 100 mg of Clomid. She even made a comment of “well he [previous fertility specialist] didn’t get you pregnant, so I will”; her saying this gave me a boost of confidence knowing she was just as eager as me.

I am currently in the middle of the next cycle and hopeful my numbers will continue to rise. I pray this is just what we need to make our miracle happen.

-Dani

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Husband’s Perspective

Here is our infertility struggle through my husband, Juan’s, point of view.

I’ve always been the, “it’s not the right time, we’re not financially ready, I would like to have a better position, we’re still so young” kind of person. And, I often blame myself because if we would have started sooner, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now.

When I finally gave in and we started trying, we had no luck of course, but I tried to stay positive. I would tell Dani, “it’s just a matter of time and we’re still young, there’s no need to rush into anything,” while in the back of my head I was silently scared something was wrong.

Dani mentioned she was seeing a doctor, but she just made it seem like it was a regular visit, nothing too serious. Little did I know, she was having the same fears I was but we never discussed it. Her and I are alike when it comes to difficult times; we don’t talk about it with one another, so we don’t stress the other person out. May seem crazy, but I would rather cope with stress silently than allow her to get stressed as well. Especially with something like this.

We finally discussed the fact that she was seeing a doctor to get checked out. Again I did not think it was anything serious. She never seemed worried and made it seem like all was perfect. I recommended she reach out to her mom or sister or a friend to get advice, but she just didn’t want to.

She told me that the doctor had mentioned a procedure called an IUI. Being new to all of this, I simply said, “yeah let’s do it.” She proceeded to make appointments with the doctor to move forward with the procedure. She explained what I had to do, which for any man is a bit odd, but at this point I would have done anything to make her a mother. I still remember the day when she broke down in the closet of our home. She had kept her emotions and fears hidden but finally couldn’t keep up the act anymore. She was nervous to tell me how much the IUI’s cost. She said that the reasons she hadn’t discussed it with me previously is because I had always told her to be patient. I felt like the worst husband in the whole entire world. My wife was secretly hurting, and I had unknowingly made comments that caused her not to be comfortable enough to talk to me. I will never forget that evening and how much pain I felt, knowing I wasn’t truly there for her.

Ever since then I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let her be on this journey by herself. And I’ve kept that promise.

Watching Dani become depressed and not be herself anymore was excruciating. She gained weight and didn’t want to go anywhere nor do anything. I knew the reason behind it and it made me feel like a failure of a man because I couldn’t give her the one thing she wanted and deserved.

After multiple failed IUI’s, we decided together that IVF was our next step and I was very hopeful. The way that the doctor had explained the fact that we were both healthy young adults and that we were functioning properly, it made me feel beyond confident.

The day I got the text from Dani saying it was negative I lost it. I told my office I had to leave and went home. The whole way home I cried, but I knew I had to be strong for Dani. I’ve always tried to look for the positives in anything that we or I go through, but this was different. The one thing Dani is made for and I couldn’t give it to her. When she got home she crumbled in my arms.

During this journey we were told multiple times how much stress can affect conceiving. I had been struggling at work and with all this infertility stuff going on, my stress level was through the roof. It made me a bad boss, friend, brother, son and even worse; a bad husband.

When Dani and I decided it was best to focus on us and let it happen on its own is when we started doing better as a couple. We decided to sell our house and move to Gainesville to start fresh. After a quick few weeks we were able to sell our house and started looking for jobs in Gainesville. However, we quickly realized we had begun our career paths here and moving would make us both start all over again. In addition, both of our families lived here. For many people, moving away from your parents is no problem, but for us it didn’t make sense. So, we decided that moving to Gainesville just wasn’t in the cards for us, at that time.

Looking back, it ended up working for the best. We have been able to lean on both of our families during this trying period and we were able to build our beautiful home.

I am beyond blessed to have Dani as not only my wife but my best friend. Going through our journey has taught us a lot about each other and I’m glad God chose her for me. We have been focusing on ourselves over the last year and we’ve grown closer than ever. I know God has a plan for us and that He knows what’s best for us.

I want to finish by the thanking all of our family and friends that have been with us through this journey, you guys make a big difference!

-Juan

Giving Up Is Not An Option: Part 1

Well, we had our doctor’s appointment this past Thursday and I went into this appointment more hopeful than I had been in a while. I was ready to hear what this doctor had to say and what she believed was going to work. We got into the room and began talking as the doctor reviewed my chart. As she reviewed she read out loud the different methods we tried with the previous doctor. Both the previous doctor and this doctor worked in the same practice, however the previous doctor had referred us to this current doctor for further help. As she began to list all the different fertility methods we had tried I interrupted her to let her know the additional steps of IUI and IVF we had also tried. She proceeded to say nicely, she wasn’t sure she would be able to do anymore for us. She felt that we were going backwards and not forwards, with coming to see her. My heart broke. It took everything in me to not burst into tears. Another in the long line of disappointments.

The doctor recommended another fertility specialist in the area, one that had already been recommended to us by many people. And although we are emotionally and mentally ready to move forward with this process, a fertility specialist is not covered by our health insurance. Therefore, we have hit another roadblock, because we are not ready to take on that financial burden, again. I would truly love to go and speak with the specialist, however knowing we wouldn’t be able to do any procedures, it would be a tease.

With much hesitation in my voice, I told the Doctor that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to another specialist at the moment, thankfully the doctor then advised we could try a different fertility medicine for a few months. The Doctor said that she would rather us start this new fertility medication while we decided if we wanted to see the specialist rather than doing nothing. Additionally, during this appointment we asked her opinion on some medical research centers. She mentioned it would be a great idea and recommended the USF Sarasota campus or the University of Colorado Fertility Clinic, which is one of the highest rated fertility clinics in the country.

By the end of the appointment, I began to feel hopeful again. Not only are we going to start the medication she recommended, but we also have more options.

We want to keep our family and friends informed and ask for prayers, as we continue on this bumpy journey.

-Dani

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

**I am not a Doctor; I am not a specialist regarding depression or its symptoms. These are simply my experiences with it. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please reach out to the crisis hotline.**

Ever feel like you’re in a bad mood for no reason? Someone says the nicest thing, and you just want to roll your eyes? And you can’t put your finger on why? This was happening all too often for me and looking back now I would tell you that I had begun to feel depressed. When it came to infertility, every thought of negative pregnancy tests, Facebook pregnancy announcements, or why I wasn’t a mother yet caused me to sink deeper into a hole that I didn’t know I would ever be able to get out of. But thankfully, as I have stated in previous posts, I have been blessed with amazing family and friends to support myself and husband during that time.

Unfortunately, I have recently felt myself falling back into this clouded mindset. Struggling to become pregnant is one of the most difficult mental games I have ever faced. The ups and downs that come with it, are exhausting. I am far from a perfect person, so let me be honest with you. I have been slacking in my diet, I have been mentally exhausted, and I have been struggling (badly) to keep myself from going to that “clouded” mindset. I have once again, allowed infertility to control me for the past 2 months.

I am guilty, once again, of not speaking up about it. However, because of the amazing family and friends I have (without them even knowing it) they have kept me going. From constantly planning things on the weekend, to playing soccer, or just reaching out. Because of them, I am pushing through it.

In addition to our amazing support system, my husband and I recently went on vacation. It was just the refresher I needed. And so, I returned from our vacation on Thursday and on Friday made an appointment with a fertility doctor.

To those of you who didn’t even realize you were helping me, THANK YOU!

-Dani

**I am not a Doctor; I am not a specialist regarding depression or its symptoms. These are simply my experiences with it. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please reach out to the crisis hotline.**Be kind 1

Ready, Set, Not Yet…

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am just a normal personal struggling with infertility trying to share experiences in hopes it may help another momma to be*

Coping with something privately works for some, and in some ways it worked for me. However, when I began to open up about our struggles to close friends, family members and co-workers I began to see just how common infertility really was. Just in my small group of friends, there was a handful of people going through roughly the same thing. And it was a close friend that recommended I see her doctor for a few months. When she first mentioned this, I just wasn’t ready. Being ready isn’t a financial thing, a mental thing, or a physical thing. It’s all of that and more, especially when you did it all backwards. For lack of better terms, I had PTSD when it came to fertility doctors, and I still do. I still cringe when I think back to our last experience. I’m not sure I mentioned this in the post, but we never did go back to that first doctor. We received the negative result and that was it; I never called again, I never went again. I couldn’t. So, the thought of going back to any kind of fertility doctor or even an OBGYN for that matter was hard! Maybe it’s a bit dramatic, but when it brings back so much pain… I can’t help it.

After about 4 or 5 months of considering the doctor my friend recommended, I finally mustered up the courage to call. On August 29, 2017 I had my first appointment with the new doctor. My friend was right; she was the SWEETEST and she calmed all my nerves. She let us know that we would have to run some blood work so she could see where to start. Now, mind you, this blood work is extremely specific, down to the exact day in my cycle, which meant it needed to be drawn 9/8/17. If you live in Florida, you may remember that Hurricane Irma hit us in early September 2017. Yes, I know…perfect timing, right? To say I was a little bit stressed would be an understatement. On Thursday 9/7/17 when every place began shutting down in preparation for the storm, I called my doctor first thing in the morning and they said I could still come in that day to get my blood drawn. Thank goodness!

When reviewing my results, the Doctor shared that my progesterone level was low, which was a surprise to me because the first Specialist never mentioned this to us. My doctor advised that she wanted to see the level no lower than 10, and it was a 6.6. She stated it was still okay and that people can conceive at this number but she would prefer it to be higher. Without hesitation, she started me on prescription medication Clomid. The first month my progesterone levels dropped to a 6.0 and I began to feel defeated. She however kept a positive outlook and informed me there was another medicine to try. After just one month on Clomid, she took me off and started me on another prescription medication, Femara.

Starting Femara marked the third month that I had been seeing this Doctor. I went into this second attempt knowing I had to be patient, and knowing this wasn’t going to have an immediate result. Having a friend go through it, I knew it would take time, which helped keep my nerves at bay. It took her 8 months with each pregnancy, to conceive on the Femara, so I knew 3 months was nothing to worry about.

We received the results for my first Femara blood work and my progesterone level had risen to a 9.4. I was ecstatic. It was working! The doctor wanted to continue with the Femara, but unfortunately those numbers did not last long. After 2 months on Femara my progesterone level dropped to 7.7, and the next month it dropped to a 5.4. The doctor then advised that I stop the medication. At this point, the doctor suggested that my husband get checked again with a Urologist. As I mentioned in my last post, his results all came back perfect. Then she said what I had been dreading, “at this point there’s not much more I can do but refer you to our specialist.” I haven’t been back.

Unfortunately, I’m still not ready to see a specialist again. I’m not financially ready. I’m not mentally ready. I’m just not ready. If I could do it over again, I would have listened to every bit of my advice in my previous post (Hindsight’s 20/20), but I can’t. So, until the day I am ready, we will continue living our lives and pray our miracle comes.

-Dani

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Hindsight’s 20/20

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am just a normal personal struggling with infertility trying to share experiences in hopes it may help another momma to be*

When you are 24 years old the last thing you think about is not being able to get pregnant. You have spent the last “insert amount of years here” trying to NOT get pregnant. So surely now, being married, owning your own home, having stable jobs, the time is RIGHT. But then month after month it’s just not happening. You are googling everything. Buying every type of ovulation kit, cutting caffeine out, adding in more greens, adding in more this, cutting out that. But oh yeah, don’t stress. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Once I had reached my wits end, I knew it was time to see a doctor. As I stated in my first post, I was lost. I didn’t know where to start.

I googled “fertility specialists SWFL” and was pleased to find multiple in my area. After doing some research I narrowed my options down to two. I studied both doctors meticulously; reading Google reviews, forum reviews, and any other information I could get my hands on. I finally made my choice and called them. Since it was early December, I was prepared to wait until mid-January for an appointment, but to my surprise they had an opening the next day. They sent me for a screening to ensure my fallopian tubes were not blocked or obstructed, as well as blood work. Once these all came back normal I met with the doctor the following week and he advised that we move forward with an IUI. For those that do not know an IUI is an acronym for Intrauterine Insemination. This is where the doctor injects the partner’s sperm into a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of this is to increase the number of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes and therefore increases the chance of fertilization (American Pregnancy Association, 2017).

This is where I feel I was failed, and where I want to shine some light on the topic to help guide others. I was not given any other options before the IUI and I trusted that my doctor had my best interests in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do not blame the specialist, he was just doing his job. This leads me to my first piece of advice. Remember that while Doctor’s are the experts on certain subjects, you do not have to take their recommendations and it is important to do research on your other options before you commit to a treatment that you are unsure of. For reference each round of an IUI costs roughly $1,000 with only a 20% chance of success.

Second, I highly recommend that you see your normal OBGYN, before going straight to a specialist. Your doctor will most likely see if there is a hormone imbalance or any other causes that could be preventing you from becoming pregnant (thyroid, PCOS, etc.). Once they have ruled these issues out, they may advise that you try taking oral medications such as Clomid and Femara.

Third, ask questions! Ask until you have the answers memorized; ask until you are blue in the face! Never feel as though you are bothering the doctor, you are paying them boatloads of money, and the least they can do is explain what they think is wrong and what each procedure consists of. My specialist had ordered blood work, what he was testing for I have no idea. He never explained the process of the IUI’s in detail. He was not forthcoming with information and sadly I did not ask. I look back at my procedures and question a lot of things, because he simply NEVER explained anything. This is where the bulk of my frustration comes from.

Once we began opening up about our struggles, we were recommended by a friend to see her doctor. So we did. I will get into the details about that in another post, but this doctor asked if my husband had been checked, and I said yes. She asked for his results. She seemed dumbfounded to find out that I was never given a copy of his test results. Her next question was if Doctor so-and-so had conducted the test, to which my answer again was “no.” Confused, she stated that this specific Doctor was the only in our area that conducted these tests and she’s not sure how we had the tests done if we never saw them. Of course, I became overwhelmed with frustration and anger. In an effort to cope I put my feelings aside and moved forward. She gave us the contact information for a Urologist and my husband met with him. He referred Juan to the Fertility Specialist in town that does the necessary tests. Juan returned to the Urologist for the results, which were good.

While the fact that Juan had to go to a Urologist before being referred to the fertility specialist seems benign, I want to emphasize that it’s important to use all your resources and ask questions. While fertility was not his specialty, the Urologist suggested something we never would have thought of. He suggested going to a university that has a medical research center. He told us that he had studied at one in Florida and knows they take patients. Since they are a research facility, they experiment with things such as “super sperm” or “super eggs” to help individuals become pregnant. While we have not followed up on this route yet, it is good to know that it still exists.

When it comes to our experience with the initial specialist, hindsight’s 20/20. I see people who post photos of paperwork they received with their embryos with stats and gender. We never got that. We were never even informed verbally about this information. I feel we were failed, we were failed in so many ways but I know that if I could do it all again, I would ask more questions. I wish I would have known the questions to ask. I wish I would have known the things I know now. I look back and wonder; what blood test did he run? Why didn’t my IUI’s work? Did I have any strong embryos? Was my thyroid out of whack?

Remember, if you are struggling with fertility issues and you don’t know what to do, or you are seeing a doctor and the answers you are hearing aren’t what you want to hear; there ARE MORE OPTIONS! DO NOT SETTLE. I’m sure there are multiple doctors in your area and they may all have different methods, and run different tests. Meet with them and hear them out. Don’t put all your trust in the first doctor you meet, fork over thousands of dollars, and go into debt, like we did.

To find fertility doctors in your area click here.

“I am learning to trust the journey even when I do not understand it.” —Mila Bron
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am just a normal personal struggling with infertility trying to share experiences in hopes it may help another momma to be*

Why Don’t You Have Kids Yet?

Fertility 2“Why don’t you have kids yet? When are kids coming? What are you guys waiting for?”

When you get married these questions start to get asked. When you are married for 2, 3, 4 years these questions begin to get asked A LOT.

After months of writing, deleting, editing, crying and going back and forth, I have decided that I needed to share my story with others. I am not the type to share my personal life, especially the vulnerable side. However, I decided that I think it’s about time we share our journey.

Well here is our story.

We have been “trying to get pregnant” on and off for roughly 4 years. After trying for a year with no success, I decided it was time to see a doctor to ensure everything was okay. I was lost, I had no idea where to even start. Do I go to my OBGYN? A specialist? This isn’t a topic of conversation to have at the dinner table, or a subject brought up amongst a group of friends. Due to no fault but my own, I began this journey alone. Alone, meaning I had mentioned it to Juan (my husband) but never really told him what I would be doing. I didn’t want to inform my mom or sister, because this wasn’t something to be proud of (I felt). After being told I was “functioning” properly, I had to convince my husband to be checked (OH BOY). This took a little convincing, but he was seen and was given the “a okay” by the doctor. Next, the doctor suggested we should proceed and try different procedures in hopes it would be just what we needed to get pregnant. Unfortunately that was not the case for us.

In 2016, we tried 3 rounds of IUIs. One in January, one in February, and one in March. All of which were negative.

With every negative came a deeper amount of guilt and depression. I couldn’t help but think, “why wasn’t my body working, why can’t I just make Juan a father, WHY?!”

Once we reached this point our doctor recommended we step it up a notch and do a round of IVF. Being as eager as we were, we didn’t hesitate. We told ourselves we would figure out the finances one way or another.

I will never forget that phone call. Knowing I would finally hear the news I always wanted to hear. When it hit me like a ton of bricks, “I’m so sorry it was negative.” I was left sitting at my desk, numb. I couldn’t even believe what I just heard. How am I supposed to tell my husband? How am I supposed to tell him I failed him once again? I regretted telling anyone about our IVF procedure, because it was just that many more people I had to tell it didn’t work. I couldn’t pick up the phone and allow myself to say those words. I knew the moment those words came out of my mouth would be the moment I would lose it. Instead, I texted him, “It was negative, I can’t talk about it right now.” He responded, “I am so sorry babe, I am going home, I can’t be at the office.” My heart sunk. My husband’s dream of being a father, his hope that this would FINALLY be it, was a negative. The pain was unbearable. The amount of guilt I felt was unfair. Walking into the house that night, I hugged my husband and every bit of emotion that I had been holding in came flooding out. Our dream of finally being a family was gone. The small glimpse of faith was gone. We cried for hours.

This wound was opened a few more times, when we had to repeat those painful words of our IVF procedure being negative to our friends and family, whom we had informed of our journey thus far.

During this time I put on roughly 30 pounds and was in a complete state of depression (which I really never knew, until I came out of it). I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it and I compartmentalized, thinking it was the best coping mechanism. I felt that by not talking about it, I would be able to heal faster. Not allowing anyone in would let the wound close. Boy, was I wrong!

The stress that comes with trying to conceive is beyond straining. Financially, physically and mentally.

I leaned on a few friends, and of course my family, to get me through. During this time Juan and I vowed to stop “trying” and focus on us. I began walking nightly with a friend to keep my mind occupied, but it just wasn’t enough. I knew being overweight was not ideal when trying to conceive. In October of 2016 I began my weight loss journey, to not only better myself mentally and physically, but in hopes one day it would help us achieve our biggest dream. I lost a little over 55 pounds and have kept it off for over a year.

Having fertility struggles is BEYOND mentally straining. And having the constant question of “so babies?” can only be answered with a fake smile and shrug for so long. Once we had told the few friends and family the news, we asked that they begin to spread the word to other family members and friends about our fertility struggles, in hopes, that the questions would stop. As much as we would have loved to be the ones to inform the family, it was still (and still is sometimes) a touchy subject.

Even though my husband and I have been together since we were 16; we hadn’t been through any real tragic moments in life, THANK GOD. It wasn’t until this journey that I was able to see infertility as a small blessing in disguise for our marriage, as well as a huge learning curve personally. We have fights, like any couple does, but when dealing with greater levels of stress comes with bigger hurdles. I learned when I cope, I shut out the world (and I mean EVERYBODY). I don’t let anyone in.

When we began our fertility journey, with every negative result, I would shut down more and more each time and I would push my husband away. Once we began our IUI and IVF procedures I began to lean on him more. It was during these 5 months that we grew closer as a couple than we ever could have. The hundreds of shots, months of negative pregnancy tests, and knowing how much we both truly wanted to be parents made me love my husband more than I ever thought I could.

Until we have children of our own, our infertility struggle is an ongoing journey. There are days when I am thankful for our journey, knowing how much I have learned and grown through the process. Then, there are days where I sit, pray, and cry wondering why it hasn’t happened yet.

I have watched the ones who never wanted kids get pregnant effortlessly. Wiped away the tears while watching the gender reveals and announcements on Facebook, with the knot in my stomach knowing what I wouldn’t give to be in their shoes. Hearing friends go through horrendous morning sickness and telling myself, “I would throw up every morning and night for the whole pregnancy if it meant I’d get to carry my own child.”

Secretly knowing, the cute ways I’ve envisioned announcing to my husband, our parents and friends that we’re pregnant. Knowing the hidden Pinterest board I have titled “One Day.” Hearing how easily that positive test came for some, while I don’t even bother taking them anymore because I can’t handle anymore negatives.

I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that when God is ready for us to be parents, whether naturally or through adoption, it will happen.

To the ones who are struggling with this in silence,

Because talking about it is hard,

Because talking about it out loud makes us weak,

Because talking about it makes us believe that day, may truly never come.

I’m with you. I see you. I feel you.

Learn from me and let me be the one to tell you, talk about it. You will never believe the amount of friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, and so many others around you that may be going through the same struggle. Hearing encouraging words from a friend who got pregnant on their first try (no offense) is sweet, but having someone to lean on that went through or is going through the same struggles is a lot easier, trust me.

“It’s going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”-Anonymous

Fertility 3

-Dani