It’s Okay.

My husband and I have been blessed in so many areas of life. We are healthy, have incredible families, amazing friends, great jobs, a beautiful home, and our 2 healthy dogs. We truly cannot complain. But yet, I still sit here asking God, why? Why hasn’t He blessed us in that area of our lives?

I watched a recent interview of Carrie Underwood (link below) in which she explained how she suffered 3 miscarriages between 2017 and 2018. Although we have never gone through a miscarriage, her interview was beyond relatable. As much as I would never wish infertility upon anyone, seeing someone as “perfect” as Carrie Underwood suffer from this makes me feel more “normal.” I know ‘perfect’ is a strong word to describe someone that you have never met. However, I have envied Carrie for years; from her beauty, to her music, to her faith, to her private personality, and most recently for her dedication to fitness. So again, by seeing someone I view as perfect go through a similar struggle makes me feel not so alone – if that even makes sense. There are days that I don’t understand why this is happening to us, so when someone in the spotlight explains they are also struggling, it helps you cope with your abnormalities.

There was one part of her interview that made me think to myself; wow, I’m not the only one feeling that way.  Carrie Underwood said during her interview; “Like, really, what can I complain about? I can’t. I have an incredible husband, incredible friends, an incredible job, an incredible kid. Can I be mad? No.” Aside from the “an incredible kid” part, this is a statement I juggle with all too often.

I feel selfish for getting angry or questioning God’s timing. How can I be angry or question Him when He has blessed us is every other area of life? I will remind myself there are people in this world struggling with a lot more than we are. I have to remind myself how incredibly blessed we are. But there are some days even reminding myself, it doesn’t make this journey any easier.

We are creeping up on 3 years since we began our journey to seek help for our fertility struggles. In these 3 years, we have learned about ourselves, our marriage, different options in the infertility world and most importantly that it’s okay to be sad, angry, hopeful, happy and any other emotion you feel.

To the couples struggling, it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to feel angry and hopeful, at the same time. It’s okay to sit on your bathroom floor and cry while asking God why you received yet another negative. It’s okay to question God’s timing. It’s okay because at the end of the day this is YOUR journey, not anyone else’s.

-Dani

 

Giving Up Is Not an Option: Part 3

At my last visit, as previously stated in “Giving Up’s Not an Option #2,” my numbers rose to a 13.1ng/ml. With my last experience on Clomid/Femara in August 2017, my highest numbers were a 9.4ng/ml. Thus, my numbers jumping to 13.1ng/ml was some of the best news I had received throughout this process. The medicine was FINALLY working, and I mean really working. With my spirits lifted going into the second round, I was beyond hopeful.

With fertility medications like Clomid, they provide you with an actual physical calendar, which includes a strict set of deadlines. The deadlines consist of when you need to take the medicine, when you need to have intercourse, when you need blood drawn, and when you need to revisit the doctor. On top of the calendar, there are time frames, to ensure you take the medicine at the same time all 5 days. So although my spirits are high, taking Clomid can be ridiculously stressful. In addition to the stress from living by a highly regimented schedule; the side effects make it even more ‘fun.’ With this round being a double dose, I assumed the side effects would be worse, thankfully they weren’t too bad. I still have the lovely side effects of hot flashes and acne around the jaw line and chin, but thankfully they didn’t seem to get worse. However, I did notice that I bloated more this time around. Again, I remind myself that if this leads to our miracle, then bring on all the side effects.

It was finally day 21, which again means drawing blood to test my progesterone level. It was a Wednesday and I prayed I would get my results by Friday knowing Monday was a holiday, but I didn’t. I was thankful we were going to visit friends to keep my mind occupied. Come Monday, I got the alert from the healthcare app “Your health record contains new results.” I was shocked as it was Labor Day and I just assumed they would be closed. I couldn’t click fast enough to get my results and once again I was met with the pleasant surprise that my numbers had rose to 17.9 ng/ml. I was thrilled, the medicine was continuing to work. I went back for my day 28 blood draw to test my hCG (pregnancy hormone), which came back not pregnant. This was another tug at my heart, but I was staying positive.

Now the calendar starts all over. Unfortunately, when we made my monthly appointment, we accidentally made it a week later than we should have. So, I would be on “cycle day 8” come time for my appointment, which was 3 days too late. This particular doctor likes to see you and then refill the prescription rather than sending in 3 months’ worth. I contacted my doctor immediately when it was cycle day 1 using the message option on the health care app. I did not hear back, so I called and asked if someone could call in Clomid for me. They stated that my doctor was out of town and she was the only one who could call in the medication. They stated they could move my appointment from Friday to Wednesday (cycle day 6), which is the day she would be arriving back to work.  I was praying she would say starting on day 6 was not a problem, but of course that wasn’t the answer.

During my appointment my doctor stated that since we missed day 5 we would have to wait until next month. *INSERT SILENT MENTAL BREAK DOWN.* She was extremely apologetic, and all I could think was “it is what it is.”

Even with the bad news, my doctor lifted my spirits with expressing how happy she was with my numbers. She was so impressed, that the next dose she would like to do is 150mg (3 a day); with confidence this would get my numbers at 20ng/ml or above. She also mentioned (again) that at the 3 month mark is when she has her patients begin to consider other avenues. I quickly informed her that I would really like to continue Clomid for a few more months knowing it is working. However, since Clomid is known to cause ovarian cysts they have to be cautious. So since we are taking this month off, she ordered an ultrasound to ensure I am clear of ovarian cysts and be able to continue for an additional three months.

I am waiting to do my ultrasound, and praying it is clear. I am hopeful my doctor is allowing me to continue on Clomid and that my numbers are continuing to rise. I know our miracle will happen, and I pray it is soon. But until then, I will stay hopeful knowing this medicine is finally working.

-Dani

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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

Hope

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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