Saturday, December 24, 2011

And So This Is Christmas...

She's here... no matter how much we've dreaded the Holidays this year or tried to make ourselves get into the spirit. The big day is upon us.

We'll be leaving shortly to head to DH's grandma's house where his whole family will gather. We are the only ones who don't have kids yet so it's a tough group with alot of small kids running around. We'll put on our smiles and happy faces and make it through another Holiday season.

One of DH's cousins bought his grandma a digital picture frame for Christmas. Now this is an 82 year old lady who is certainly not into any sort of technology. But, cousin emailed the whole family several weeks ago and has loaded it full of pictures so it will be all set up for her (great idea)! When she emailed me and asked for pics of DH and I, I automatically went to the vacation files on my computer! "We may not have kids but we'll show everyone how much fun we have and where we've been!" Isn't that awful?! :) Oh well! I sent vacation pics from different locations, us at sporting events, etc. Let them be jealous of us for once!!

But, I am thankful that today has turned out to be pretty quiet and peaceful. We slept in, made pancakes for breakfast, ran to the store and then mixed up some homemade salsa to take to our gathering tonight, had lunch together... and had alot more fun than I thought today would be.

It is certainly not the Christmas that we had imagined it would be but we're making it. Praying that all of you find some peace and comfort in this season and bring on the New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hard to do...

I know I've shared before that my little sister is pregnant with baby #2 and as hard as that is, it brought up another dilemma recently.

You see, we started our first IVF cycle in November of last year and that's the same month my nephew was born. My sister has always been very supportive of us and our decision and was excited for us. When we got our BFP on January 3 she was ecstatic right along with us! She quickly offered to let me borrow her maternity clothes, pregnancy books, body pillow, etc. I remember having a little twinge of something (maybe jealousy) because I should've experienced all this before her. But still, it was so fun to finally be having these types of conversations and sharing this with her.

Within the next few days I had everything laid out on the bed in the spare bedroom, the soon to be nursery, and was so excited at the thought of what was ahead. The cute little t-shirts and dresses... I was going to be so proud wearing all this stuff. I did get some use out of the "belly band" because some of my jeans got a little snug. I immediately started reading several of the books she gave me and tracked our baby's progress daily.

Sadly, I never got to wear those maternity clothes. On February 22, just two days shy of 12 weeks, our world changed forever. Unable to even go in that room for quite some time, those clothes continued to lay there... for quite a while. My sweet hubby cleaned up some stuff that had piled up in there, but I couldn't bring myself to even look at those clothes. They stared at me like a ghost of what should have been. They haunted me.

I really don't remember how long they sat there before one day while I was home by myself, I went in that room and in between sobs, I just threw everything into plastic bags and shoved it all into the top of the closet. "I'll need it again one day." That was no comfort at all then but as the months passed, I could begin to see myself in those clothes one day.

That was, until October 9. The day that little sis told me she was pregnant. Again. I cried, just like the first time she got pregnant. I had no idea they were even trying for #2 and now she's pregnant?! She cried too and apologized because it all just happened so quick...! Really? I'm sorry that good things like pregancy happen so quick... we've been on this road 4.5 years... nothing quick about that! I know she just didn't really know what to say... no one does. And there's nothing in me that would wish any of this on anyone, let alone my sister.

Within the same day that she told me, my mind drifted back to those clothes hiding in the shadows of my closet and it hit me, "She's going to need those clothes back before I ever get to wear them." And it was like someone kicked me in the stomach all over again. I never thought about that happening. Or maybe I just never let myself go there...

I mentioned it to my mom one time thinking maybe she'd offer to come get them but she never mentioned it again. I haven't had a conversation with my sister about them, I couldn't. So those clothes have continued to haunt me from their perch in the closet. But I knew I couldn't wait for her to ask for them back, I couldn't handle that discussion.

Every time I thought I could muster a little courage and deal with it, I would wimp out. Until yesterday on my way home from work it hit me... "I'm taking those clothes over to mom's and then sis can pick them up from there." I came home, grabbed them all in one big armload and threw them in the trunk. I didn't even stop to really think about what I was doing or I would've wimped out again.

I visited my mom for a while and then told her that I brought all those clothes over and sis could just pick them up from her house. "I won't be needing them," I said. To which she replied, "Yet." What I really wanted to say is that I never imagined she'd need them back before I ever got to use them, but I didn't. Why couldn't I just say that? I probably would've started crying but who cares? I have a bad habit of censoring what I'm really feeling, even if it's when talking to someone close to me.

My mom keeps telling me that I need to try and focus on myself and not on what's going on with other people. While I understand there's some truth in that, it's hard to completely ignore everything around you... I'm excited for what's ahead for DH and I, but there is grief and extreme sadness to deal with on a daily basis too. Of course it bothers me that sis is pregnant again but more than jealousy, it's bitter sadness for us and our empty arms. I don't want her babies, I want mine.

She made the big announcement on FB yesterday (a friend called and told me, I deleted my account over a year ago) and it just breaks my heart. How many people will contact us just to say they're thinking of us? My guess... very few, if any. Don't they understand they can be happy for her and sad for us at the same time? It's hard when our lives are so intertwined with alot of the same people. I feel like there's very few people I can share my true feelings with because they know her too.

This whole ride is just so emotionally draining. So thankful I have this outlet and new found friends that I can share with... and you guys get it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Discount to Pass Along

Hey ladies - this is a new thing for me but I've heard so many of you talk about Circle and Bloom that I had to check it out. I'm still not sure about how all of it works but it can't hurt to try it, right? I could certainly use some relaxation and some positive thinking!

So, in my researching it I came across a discount code that I believe is good through the end of the year. Just enter HOLIDAY35 at checkout for 35% off any product! The IVF/ IUI one is normally $59.99 for download and it came down to $38.99 with the discount.

If anybody has ever done it before let me know... although I already bought it so if you didn't like it it's too late to warn me! :-) But seriously, let me know your thoughts about it if you've used it. And if you haven't... check it out... especially with 35% off!

I can't keep up my normal workout (which I love) after the first of the year when we start IVF so I also bought Strong Yoga for Fertility. Didn't find a discount on that one though. Anybody tried that one? I've never done yoga but I have friends who love it. Again, a little quiet relaxation and postivity certainly can't hurt!

Just wanted to pass this along to you girls... best wishes!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tears and Hope

Not sure if all you ladies are following Denise over at This Blondie Wants Babies but she posted the most beautiful video I think I've ever seen. I just sat and cried as it played and I thought about everything that we've been through the last four and a half years.

Check it out when you have a minute to sit back, reflect and cry.

Empty Arms, Broken Hearts

I'm really thinking about sending a link to this video out to some family and friends who may not be aware the extent of our struggles. For the last several months I've been thinking about sending something like this but nothing really seemed to fit. I think this video says it all.

Up to this point and prior to IVF #1, we were very private about our story and doing IVF. There are alot of people who knew we were "trying" but only a handful who know the extent and about IVF. We thought that it was really no one's business what we did and so they didn't need to know. We've been through so much and at this point we don't really care who knows. I'm not sure what we expect to happen if we share our story but maybe it will at least be at start towards creating more awareness in our little corner of the world.

What do you guys think? To what extent have you shared your stories with those around you?

Doing Our Part

Hey Ladies - not sure how many of you have checked out Resolve's website but it is a wonderful place to find information on infertility, treatment, coping, etc. They also do some political action type stuff and largely due to their efforts, a bill has been introduced to the House and the Senate known as the Family Act of 2011. Now before I lose you, I'm not getting all "political" on you! Check this out:

Key provisions of the House and Senate bill:
  • The Family Act covers the out-of-pocket costs associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) including diagnostic tests, laboratory charges, professional charges, and medications for IVF.
  • The Family Act covers the out-of-pocket costs of fertility preservation procedures if the man or woman is diagnosed with cancer and the cancer treatment or disease itself may result in infertility.
  • The Family Act has a cost sharing provision allowing 50% of all applicable medical expenses to be  covered up to a lifetime maximum of $13,360. You would need to have out-of-pocket costs totaling $26,720 to claim the entire credit in your lifetime.
  • If you do not owe taxes in a particular year, do not owe enough taxes to use the whole credit, or do not reach the max amount in one tax year, it carries over to the next year for a max of five years after the first year you use the credit. 
  • The Family Act is available to couples filing jointly with adjusted gross incomes of less than $222,520, but the credit is smaller for those earning between $182,500 and $222,520. 
Now if you're like us, this would make a serious difference in your lives! With absolutely no insurance coverage for IVF, we have paid completely out of pocket, as I'm sure alot of you have. If you click on this link Family Act of 2011 you can send a letter to your Congressmen and Senators, all through their website and it only takes about 5 minutes! Don't wait on someone else to do it! If we all do our part we can begin to change things!

It starts with us!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dum spiro spero (While I Breathe, I Hope)

While I breathe, I hope (dum spiro spero). I came across this quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought about how much that word "hope" has been a part of my life for the last several years. I hoped we'd have kids, I hoped we'd have kids on our own, I hoped we'd have them before my husband was 30, I hoped we could do IUI, I hoped the IVF would work, I hoped we'd only have to do it once... I could fill in a lot of blanks between all those phases I've listed but that could take all day.
We all hope for things in our everyday lives, alot of times subconsciously even. We hope we won't get caught in traffic, we hope we'll have a good hair day, we hope our team wins, etc.
But that's not the hope I'm referring to. The hope that has been in my life is deep-seeded, passionate and all-consuming. More than an off the cuff remark about something we want, this hope drives us to do things we never thought possible. It's that burning desire to fulfill our dreams and achieve our goal of family. Not willing to take "no" for an answer.
But after over four years battling IF, hope and I have a love-hate relationship at times. You see, I feel that I've been betrayed by hope. All the hope in the world didn't change that fact that we have to pursue IVF to concieve. That same hope couldn't bring me a baby before my little sister. And every hope and prayer I could whisper, cry or scream, couldn't save the baby we did have.
Hope deceived me when I thought this would be our year. Abandoned me on the way to the doctor's office that cold day in February when I tried to convince myself that everything would be ok. Stabbed me in the back in the weeks and months to follow the loss of our baby as I sat and reflected on how perfect this all "should have been." And as another year's battle with IF draws to a close, I'm left wondering where hope really fits in to all this.
If I sit back in self pity and allow myself to sink into those awful depths of emotions too frequently, I might never hope again. With my heart safely locked away behind closed doors, I would keep everyone and everything at arm's length, never to be hurt that way again.
Dum spiro spero. Those words kept resonating in my mind. While I breathe, I hope. And I'm realizing that if I'm truly going to live, I have no choice but to hope. Our souls long for something more than we have. Our hearts continue to dream of the day that we hold a child of our own.
Hope seduces me back one more time and I realize that even with our tumultuous relationship, it's hope that keeps me going every day. It's hope that pushes me to get out of bed and believe that something good can happen. It inspires me to believe that this next IVF cycle could bring us the baby we've been praying for. It's hope that persuades me to trust once again that the end of this roller coaster is near.
There's a new song by Matt Hammitt, "All of Me" that I fell in love with the very first time I heard it. Actually I was on my way to work and about two lines in I was crying uncontrollably driving down the interstate. I would recommend listening to it at home first! Here is a video for the song:

What an amazing song! With an upcoming IVF cycle beginning in January, we've been scared. What if this doesn't work? What if it works but we lose this baby too? What if we spend all this money again and we're still empty handed? Like the song said, we've been afraid to love something that could break. We're so close to what we can't control and it's exciting but scary. The words of verse 2 made me think alot of the baby we lost and at the same time still pursuing our dreams and IVF again. I cherish every minute we had with that baby and "she" changed our lives and will forever be a part of us.
The child we lost is worth all of me and yet the child yet to come is worth all of me too. They are worth every tear we've cried and every thing we've been through. They're worth facing all our fears and putting ourselves out there again.
We're not entering this cycle innocently like we did last time, we know the worst. But we're choosing to "trade the fear of all that I could lose, for every moment I share with you." Every shot, every ultrasound and every blood draw will be approached with a new appreciation of life and enjoying the moment. As emotional of an experience as IVF is, it is wonderful and beautiful as well.
Through the words of this song I'm realizing that maybe it's fear that causes that love-hate relationship with hope. We're so afraid to put our hearts on the line again. We're afraid to believe that something good could happen to us because it hasn't so far. Fear stops us in our tracks and makes us timid and apprehensive. Makes us question our decisions and our future plans.
I've decided I'm tired of being bullied by fear. We know what we want and we're going for it! Will there be times that we're scared? Of course! But I refuse to let fear control my life. I choose to nurture my relationship with hope and let her lead. I trust that she knows the path better than fear does and we're following her.
As long as there is breathe in this body, there will be hope. There's a french proverb that says "Hope is the dream of a soul awake." I'm still dreaming... will you join me?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Withdrawals

I'm having withdrawals! We haven't had internet service at our house all last week and won't have it until Wednesday this week. :-) We kept debating on whether to get rid of our home phone or not (I wanted to cancel it, DH thought we needed to keep it). So we compromised... we bought and installed a majicjack last week.  I think it will work pretty good.

However, they take care of canceling you'r phone service so they can take over your number. So, when that happened, our internet also got cancelled too because its DSL through our phone line! So crazy! We've got it all straightened out now but our new internet won't be activated until Wednesday.

Normally I wouldn't be too worried about it being down for a few days but now that I've met so many new friends in this blogging community its driving me crazy! Thankful for smartphones and I've been able to keep up with most everyone but its not the same. :-) Hoping everyone enjoyed their weekend I'll be back up running in a few days!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just a little sad...

Back in October, my sister told me that baby #2 was on the way. We've been sad, hurt, upset and the whole gamut of other emotions that some of you have experienced too. We've been TTC since they began dating four and a half years ago - and now they are expecting #2. Somehow, we've been better with it than what I expected we'd be... I'm not sure how or why. We're close and she's been very supportive of us but it still strains our relationship.

This morning, I text her about some concert tickets for next summer to see if they wanted to go. Two of my favorite artists, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, are in concert together and some of us are going! :-) Now, I figured that her due date was close to my birthday, June 17 but I had never asked. Is that terrible?? She said they would pass on the July 1st concert since it was only about 2 weeks after her due date... so I asked. She's due on the 18th. One day after my birthday.

I know it's silly but it bothered me. With her first pregnancy she found out the sex of the baby ON my birthday! Now baby #2 is due practically ON my birthday! Is this really happening? I feel like this can't all be coincidental even though it probably is. But seriously, what are the chances?

I'm just hoping that this new year brings good things for DH and I and the events in other peoples lives won't bother us so much because we'll be so distracted by the wonderful things happening in ours... it's just so hard to stay positive for ourselves with everything happening around us.

Just a little sad this morning... but we'll make it. We always do.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Beautiful Evening

Last night DH and I were part of a beautiful evening to honor the child we lost. We are part of a group known as HEAL (Helping Endure A Loss) and they held their annual tree lighting ceremony last night. First off, let me say that the lady who runs the organization is an angel. She had a son who was born sleeping over 25 years ago and has started this group to help others through the most awful time in their life. The group is open to anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, neonatal death, infant loss, etc.

Registration began at 6:30 but when we arrived, the church was packed. If I ventured a guess, I would say there were close to 500 people there! What an amazing event! If you had RSVP'd, which we did, there were Christmas ornament personalized with your babies name as well as a small gift bag for each family. Each person's story was different but for one night we came together to honor our children and tell the world that they matter and have forever changed our lives.

Each child's name was read and the parents came forward, lit a candle and then placed their ornament on a gorgeous Christmas tree. At the end of the reading, the tree was illuminated and it was absolutely splendid! I've got pictures that I promise I'll post (hopefully later today).

My family went with us to show their support, it was so nice to have them there with us. There were siblings, grandparents and friends who came out to stand arm in arm with their loved ones as they honored the children that we lost too soon.

What an amazing event that in the middle of this Holiday Season that can be so tough, we found some comfort, some peace and some "validation" in these losses that so few people can understand.

The courage of one woman to start an organiztion such as this one to help others through their grief is absolutely amazing. Not all of us will do something of that magnitude, but it goes to show that if we're willing to do something we never know the difference we can make in someone's life.

I wish you could have all been there with us last night and I pray that you find something that brings you some comfort this Holiday Season!