Baileys Adventures

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…-Proverbs 17:22

One Day September 1, 2011

Filed under: Baileys Adventures — andreabaileys @ 8:00 am
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When I was a child, I was eager to grow up.  When in middle school, I wanted to be in high school, and when in high school I desperately wanted to go to college. I loved college very much and started to truly become the person I knew I was meant to be, but I was eager to get finished and get into “the real world”.  Once I graduated, I was chomping at the bit to set up a private practice (after an internship that I certainly wasn’t eager to complete) and then to move into an apartment and get my life Started.  No sooner had I accomplished that — in fact a little too soon, I can admit now — I was ready to meet someone and have a real relationship. Granted, at this point it was 2002 and I was almost 25, so it’s not like that’s out of the question.  But…..it was another two years until I met Brian, so I had to bide my time.  In 2004 we met, started dating in 2005, and I knew pretty quickly where this was headed after my initial balking at dating a Nice Guy.  I loved this man, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, and I was ready to get this show on the road!  We were engaged in 2006, planned a wedding in seven months, and were married in October.  Finally!  Let’s Start a Life!

Except….let’s wait until we have a better house.  I had moved into a small, ancient house in 2005 and we lived there together after we were married for a while.  It was a good house to start a relationship and marriage in — there was nowhere to hide from each other and we learned to work together to fix things or cope with the crises that house seemed to bring. But the water was horrible, it had a mold problem, I wouldn’t ever want to raise a child there, and we were hoping to buy a house.  So we put our wedding gifts in storage (who wants to wash their new stuff in un-filtered well water with no black light or any other precaution?  Not me.) and waited until we could find a house we could afford.  We moved to The Square in June 0f 2007.  Now we could get life started, right?

Not yet.  We decided to wait a few months to get clearance from my doctor to really get underway with babymaking.  I went off the pill in January of 2008 — let’s have a family!  (Insert record screech here) We all know how that went.  So….we worked on that for three years. We made plans for “when we have kids” or “when I’m pregnant” or “when we have a family”.  Soon it became a matter of biding our time until Brian could find a new job, as the stress of hating his current one wasn’t making Project Baby 2008, 2009, or 2010 any easier. But as soon as he got a new job, or we got more money, or we did this or that or the other thing, certainly I would get pregnant and we could really Start Living.

Then, Brian lost his hated job, we stopped Trying, he got a new job, and we decided to adopt through foster care.  Now we just need to save up a little bit, fix a few things in the house, maybe put down some hardwood, put up some curtains, make a nursery, take a gajillion classes, do some paperwork, have a home study, do the whole foster care thing and we’ll be able to Start a Family and really Start Living our life.  Right?

Why do we always look for what we need to do next in order to fully enjoy life? Why can we not live in the moment, enjoying what we have?  I spent my childhood wishing it would fly, my adolescence wishing for adulthood.  I spent my single years wishing for marriage (though I will say this is much better than that!), and our early marriage wishing for a family.  But aren’t we a family? We’re close to my family, we visit Brian’s family as often as possible and stay in touch through texts and internet, we have strong family roots in several states. How are we not a family of two, primarily, and a family of many past that?  Children don’t define a family, they enlarge it.  Besides, we’re raising three cats and none of them have gone to jail yet, so we’ve had our practice!  It just seems like we’re always striving, running, pushing, and yet waiting for Next.  At a certain point won’t I have accomplished Motherhood, Grandmotherhood, Great-grandmotherhood (and further, hopefully)? What then – striving toward Dead?  I think not.

So these days I’m trying to live Right Now.  Right now I am a happily married, happily employed woman who needs to enjoy every minute of the Without Kids period of my life so that I can wring every bit of awesome out of it before moving on to Next.  Sure, I’m going to plan and pursue, and we’ll start fostering stuff here pretty soon in preparation but you can be sure I’m going to enjoy every minute of it as much as possible.  It’s time to be present in the moment and enjoy Today.

I don’t share videos or songs very often on my blog unless they really, truly touch me.  This song did.  I heard it live in the beginning of the summer and found myself welling up right there in public.  I play this a lot and more often than not it’s the earworm running through my head.  If you’re reading in a reader, it’s worth clicking through, I promise.  Listen carefully, please, and make sure  that this is your best day.

 

Today, September 1, 2011.I am 34 today, and this is the best part of my life.  So far.

May I Suggest, by Susan Werner performed by Red Molly.Also on their CD Love and Other Tragedies, available here and worth every penny.
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This Mother’s Day, Remember. May 6, 2011

Filed under: What's On My Mind — andreabaileys @ 8:07 pm
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Every year, Mother’s Day is a mixed bag for me.  Of course I like celebrating my mother and friends who are moms.  Being a mother is hard work, no doubt.  And most moms are underpaid (ha!), overworked, and vastly under-appreciated.  I love the idea of a day to “pamper” your mama — the “jewelry commercial ideal” of breakfast in bed fixed by well-meaning two- and four-year olds and their father who has never made pancakes before, maybe a picnic or cookout for lunch, and a night out for dinner.  Gifts of sparkly things from Dad and handmade cards from kids. No laundry, no grocery shopping, and certainly no cleaning or cooking.  A day of rest for a woman whose work is never done the other 364.  Do it up right and celebrate your mother, or celebrate being someone’s mama!

But on the flip side of that coin are the social media status updates about “carrying my child within my body”, setting your worth by the number of children you’ve pushed into the world, and making it clear that only mothers who give birth to perfect little babies with ease and then devote their lives to them deserve a day of celebration.   Where is the day of celebration for the courageous mother who gave her child to someone else to raise, whose current friends don’t even know she had a baby at 14?  What about the devastated woman who lost her unborn child last month?   What about the women like me who can’t simply create life from their own bodies?  How do we define our worth on this day?

Just for a hour this weekend, look around with your eyes wide open.  Notice the bombardment of “Procreation = Self Worth” on social media.  Turn on the TV and count the commercials reminding men to spend money on diamonds for their wives who can have babies.  Does your church ask the moms to stand up, give them roses, and does the pastor preach on the devoted mothers in the Bible?  Imagine the woman in the fourth row, trying not to cry in church because she might never stop.  What about the husbands of these women, who don’t know how to make their wife feel better about something she can’t help?

Do not get me wrong — please take this weekend to celebrate motherhood. Let your husband feel like he knocked it out of the park with your gift, and pretend those preschooler-cooked eggs are yummy.  Go out and celebrate the fact that you have survived pregnancy and birth or adoption, that you lived through sleepless nights or court dates and paperwork, and remember those times when you thought you’d never make it as a mom.  If it’s your first Mother’s Day, extra congratulations on making it this far!  Kiss your mom if she’s still with you, and revel in the good memories you have if she’s passed on.  Hug your granny, and call your mother-in-law if she’s as cool as mine.  As you celebrate your moms this weekend, or as you celebrate the fact that you are a mom, please remember the women in your life for whom this day is incredibly hard or even torturous.  Most of us don’t want to talk about how hard it is (even me, thanks) but I’m sure we’d all appreciate your prayers and understanding if we’re a little distant.

Now go celebrate some mothers!

 

Have Her Email Me March 24, 2011

Filed under: Infertility — andreabaileys @ 8:00 am
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“Have her email me”seems to be my new catch phrase.

Because it seems that once a week I hear about someone who is dealing with infertility.  Infertility affects 10% of couples.  And once you’ve been touched by IF, people tell you about everyone they know who can’t get pregnant. Which I love.

Let me explain.

I hate to think that the past three years were in vain.  Brian and I dealt with so much during our infertility mess, and the fact that we emerged from that without a baby seems like a huge waste.  A waste of time and money, a waste of energy, a waste of tears.  And it would be a waste except for a few things.  I learned so much about myself, and about my husband, about our families, and about our bodies and histories.  It tested and refined my faith with trial by fire, and it strengthened our marriage.  And, possibly most of all it taught me how to help other people who are dealing with IF.

I’ve learned what to say, what not to say, and how to come beside someone dealing with IF and support them through their own mess.  My slog through all of that may be over, but I will always be an Infertile Woman.  If I somehow get pregnant in 10 years and have a baby, I have still dealt with infertility.  That experience and all that we learn never, ever goes away.  The trauma and anxiety, guilt, fear, loneliness, and all those other feelings will always be there and be part of who I am.  While I am no longer trying to have a biological child at this point, I will always have a heart for people dealing with IF.  And if I can take all of that and use it to help someone else who is just starting out, or even someone who is deciding to stop trying, then it’s worth it.  I’ll carry all the infertility baggage if it means that when necessary I can unpack those bags and find something that will help someone else.

I think that’s another reason God let us go through infertility.  Not only will we appreciate our children even more once they are with us, but I have another purpose now.  I can help.  And so God brings us together.  People come to me, email me, forward me things.  I hear about women dealing with infertility, baby loss, reproductive issues of all kinds.  I hear about their situations, and my heart hurts for them.  And so I say “Have her email me.”  I may be able to do nothing more than tell a woman she isn’t alone.  But I know how much it means to not be alone.  And I may be able to provide information about or encouragement for her next test or step.  If I haven’t been through it, I probably know someone who has been.  Folks dealing with IF stick together and we have a network.  As long as I have breath and fingers to type, no one I know will go through this alone.

If you have my personal address, please feel free or if you want to use my blog one it’s thebaileysadventures (at) gmail (dot) com.  And pass it on.

 

Finding Our Path February 1, 2011

If I’m honest with myself, this is a post I’ve actually been looking forward to writing for some time. Have you ever felt a certain way but tried to convince yourself you felt something different because you thought you were supposed to?  I guess it’s lying to yourself, isn’t it?  I’ve been doing that.

At this point, we’ve been “trying” for three years, including two and a half years on some form of medication and treatment.  With 13 rounds of clomid and two cycles of injectible drugs to prepare for artificial insemination, it’s been a long road of trying to find the right combination of things to achieve pregnancy.  Obviously, we haven’t found it.  Now, I’m waiting on these stupid cysts to resolve so we can begin our third IUI cycle, a gracious gift from my parents.

Friday I went to the doctor to find out if my cysts were gone (they’re not) and to see if we were good candidates for a third cycle (we are).  Something strange happened there.  As he gave me bad but improving news about my cysts and good news about our chances for success, I realized that I was….disappointed.  Not that my cysts weren’t resolved, because I could have told you that already.  No, I was disappointed because he didn’t give me an out, and excuse, a reason not to go on with Round 3.  I realized that I had been pinning my hopes on the possibility that these cysts were a sign that I’m not cut out for gonadotropins.  I realized that I had been hoping that our success rate would be so low that it would be silly to go on.  I wanted to be able to say “We can’t do a third IUI.”  Because I didn’t want to do it.  I don’t want to do it.

That’s hard for me to admit.  It’s not hard for me to accept that I don’t want to — it’s hard for me to admit that to other people.  I’m supposed to push on, to persevere.  I’m supposed to stop at nothing to have my baby with Baileys eyes, good Hill teeth, and a brilliant little brain.  I’m supposed to strive toward a baby with my mama’s nose and Brian’s sisters’ figure.  A child who can sing but understands the writings of Hawking like his daddy.  I’m supposed to do it all for my possible child.  But at what cost?

Infertility has nearly destroyed us emotionally.  It’s tested our marriage, and it’s obliterated our finances.  When you add the other things that are going on in our lives, it’s nearly tipped the already precarious balance to a very scary place.  Some days I’m not even sure who I am anymore except in relation to infertility.  I’m learning to live with a load of guilt that I don’t anticipate will ever go away.  I’m learning to accept failure at something so basic it’s literally instinct.  As it stands right now, we can’t afford the scary stuff — a spate of bed rest would mean lost income that we can’t cover anymore because we spent all our savings.  A baby in the NICU could mean bills we would have no way to pay.  Physically, I’ve allowed PCOS — a disease, mind you — to have free reign in my body for three years.  I’ve gained an inordinate amount of weight from that, and on top of it I’ve added many cycles of what are basically steroids.  My health is great, but my body is a wreck.  At this point, I have to ask myself if being pregnant would be the best idea.    That’s a big question.

This isn’t a new thing.  Every few months we’ve made it a point to touch base and see if we felt that we were following God’s will and if we should continue. Obviously, if it was God’s will for this to work, I’d be pregnant, right?  Every time we’ve tried a new treatment or a new method, God has thrown up a road block.  Some we’ve told you about, some we have not.  Some have been minor — here’s six cysts for you! — but some have been major things.  Each time we’ve been able to see a road block pop up, either derailing us or sending us in a new direction.  Unfortunately we’ve usually seen it in hindsight.  This time we just had the foresight to stop and consult God before we jumped into IUI #3.   I talk a lot to Brian about the still, small voice.  This time, the answer was loud, and it was clear.  The relief we felt upon truly hearing Him can only be described as the peace that passes understanding.

10% of all couples who are of child-bearing age experience infertility.  Two thirds will go on to have biological children.  We are not in that group. At this point, we have made a very important decision and want to let our friends and families who have been involved in this process know where we are headed from here.  At this time, we will not be pursuing any further fertility treatments in hopes of pregnancy. While we will probably return to treatment in the future, it is not the path we are going to continue down in hopes of our first child.  We definitely want more than one child, and know that they will not all come to us in the same manner.  We are feeling very definitely led in this direction, and are making this decision after much prayer and discussion.

Instead, we will be taking a few months off to process and heal, and to generally give ourselves a break.  At this point our plan is to then pursue adoption through foster care.  We would ask that you continue to lift our family up through this process as you have through our infertility.  While it’s exciting, we know that it will also bring with it hard work and possible heartache, and a whole other set of circumstances.  I personally can’t wait.  I feel like I am walking the path the Lord has laid out for the first time in months.

After we decided this, I sat down to write a little note to our families and friends who had supported us.  As I told them, we want to take the time to thank you for supporting and praying for us for the past three years as we have tried to start our family.  This whole process would have been so much harder if we hadn’t had the support of so many of our friends and family, without the constant encouragement and interest.  This definitely includes my bloggity friends who have been just as instrumental in my survival.  I know that at times people haven’t known what to say, or haven’t understood what we were going through, but the fact that you were there has been more important than you will ever know.

As we move forward, first taking care of ourselves and then trying to find a small person to take care of, we’ll need you.  I’ll still need to vent, to think “out loud”, we’ll still need prayer.  This decision will never take away my passion for infertility and breaking the silence that surrounds it.  Infertility, baby loss, barrenness, childlessness — all these things still weigh heavy on my heart and I will never stop listening, posting, advocating, and praying.  Share your stories with me or ask for prayer.  Let’s just add a new facet….let’s learn about foster care adoption, y’all.

And from the very bottom of my heart — thank you and God bless every single one of you.

 

Avoiding The Hard Stuff January 12, 2011

So…I’ve been avoiding writing.

I can pretend that I’ve been really busy, but in reality I’ve been avoiding this.  Sure, I’m working on Spring cleaning our house (more on that in the near future), and I’m working on a blanket for a family member (Christmas Part Deux is coming up).  Sure, I’m supposed to be working on removing the lights from my formerly-pre-lit tree.  All of this is true.  But I’ve also been avoiding something.

I’ve been avoiding writing this:

I had my second IUI on December 29th.

And it was a failure.

There’s really not much more to say about it than that.  Two follicles and 83 million swimmers didn’t get the job done.  After much deliberation, discussion, some tears (a lot — who am I kidding?), and even a little reluctance, we’re doing a third one.

Except….

Not right now.  Because I’ve got six cysts on my ovaries.  So I have to take birth control for a little while to suppress them and quell the mutiny in my innards.   It’s not really bothering me — there’s literally nothing I can do to fix it or did to cause it. So I just have to like it or lump it, and deal.  These lovely cysts do explain why I have nasty cramps and feel bloated on a cycle day that doesn’t usually feel that way.

So that’s where we stand.  Kinda derailed for a little bit, but also given a little break.  Now, I’m off to watch Toddlers and Tiaras while I crochet my little fingers right off.  Thank you for listening, and for not minding if I’ve been ducking you!

 

Reclaiming Christmas December 20, 2010

Filed under: Infertility,TTC — andreabaileys @ 8:00 am
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Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays.  What’s not to love?  A chance to decorate, good food, family being extra-nice, and all the awesomeness that comes with Advent and the birth of Christ. The whole winter holiday line-up has always thrilled me, starting with Halloween and ending with New Year’s Day. As we’ve tried to simplify our lives in the past few years it’s been a fun challenge to condense all those good feelings into simple gifts and activities that leave us time to focus on the waiting of Advent and the celebration of the Nativity.  We’ve enjoyed our simple Christmases even more.

Except last year.  Last year, Christmas sucked.  Royally sucked.  I always put our tree up the first Saturday in December, or the last Saturday in November if it’s one of those years when December comes in on a Monday, and take it down in mid-January.  Last year it was up the week before Christmas and down the following weekend.  I put up almost no other decorations, and did the minimum work necessary for the whole holiday.  I enjoyed gift-giving, but only because I always like that.  In general, I couldn’t have cared less about Christmas and just wanted it to be over.  I cried through most of the season.

Why was one of my favorite times miserable?  Infertility, of course.  I hate hate hate that so many areas of my life are colored by that horrible concept. As much as I have come to terms with my infertility and the likelihood that we won’t have biological children, it still tears my heart open sometimes.  Here’s a little insight into why…..

In 2007, Christmas was exciting.  I was going off the pill at the end of January, and we were going to start “trying” in April 2008.  We were optimistic!  In 2008, Christmas was full of possibilities.  We had been seeing our gurus since September, and I was finally responding to Clomid.  December was the first month that I ovulated well, and we were excited about the possibility that I could be pregnant in the near future.  I was so excited that next year we could be either expecting a baby or celebrating our child’s first Christmas.  Nothing brings home the feeling of Advent like the possibility of a child.

Fast forward through six months of failed cycles and the decision to take a “break” since we had no idea what to do next.  Then that break just got longer and longer.  By Christmas of 2009 I had absolutely no hope.  We couldn’t figure out my fertility, we couldn’t afford to adopt, and we had nothing to show for all our time.  The idea of a lifetime of childless Christmases seemed…sad.  Don’t get me wrong — if you choose to remain childless for any reason, more power to you.  Having children in no way defines your life or your value.  It doesn’t even define your holidays.  But it’s not what we want.

I had trouble finding the will to prepare for the holidays, and I skated through with as little effort and enjoyment as possible.  Needless to say, it was a rough time.  I cried on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and plenty of times throughout the season.  I was so glad to pull that tree down and put the reminders of my failure away for another year.

This year, I’m determined it will different.  This year I put our tree up at the beginning of the month, I made half the ornaments myself, and I’ve been busy for a few weeks making cookies and candy.  Our gifts are bought, the wrapping paper is ready for tomorrow, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.  Through a dead strand of lights on the tree, a broken clay roller hindering my ornaments, and the peanut brittle that is flexible, I’m immersing myself in the holidays.

What’s different?  My attitude.  Granted, Brian is working about 80 hours a week this Christmas again and I’m doing it all myself, and granted we’re still childless, infertile, and undergoing treatment.  But I’m okay with most of that.  If we never have children and can’t adopt, at least I have a fabulous husband and a close family.  Over the past year I’ve started to wrap my head around never having children.  While it’s not what I want, if it’s God’s will I’ll do it.  If the treatment we’re doing now works, we’ll have a baby by Christmas 2011.  And if it doesn’t, at least we tried and I’ll have closure, and we can move on. Either way, this Christmas has information, hope, and possibility….for peace. I’m enjoying every minute.

 

Let’s Talk About IUI, Bay-bee December 16, 2010

Well, it definitely ain’t your grandma’s method of conception, but it’s not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be.  I’ve said before that I want to be a source of information and encouragement to those facing infertility treatments .  So in the interest of all that, I’ll tell you about our first IUI.

When the Bravelle finally started working, it worked like gangbusters.  My only developing follicle went from 10 mm to 14.5 mm in 3 days, and from 14.5 to 19 mm overnight.  At that point, my estradiol number was 406.  All of this probably means nothing to you if you’re not in the middle of a gonadotropin cycle, I realize.  A follicle is the little fluid-filled cyst that holds a maturing egg prior to ovulation.  My clinic likes to see one or two mature eggs at 16-24 mm.  Estradiol is the estrogen produced by a developing follicle.  My clinic is looking for at least 250 before ovulation. So I was ready to roll six days after finding the right dosage. I was instructed to “trigger” on Wednesday, November 17.  I injected 10,000 IU of human chorionic gonadotropin that night, into my stomach.  Some doctors will have you or your partner inject this into a muscle like your butt or thigh.  Mine prefers that it be subcutaneously injected into the abdomen.  Easily done, as I’d had about 42 nights worth of injections to practice.  If you’re planning on using “timed intercourse”, this is your night.

The next day was a day of no injections or anything.  Just a laid-back Thursday around Baileysland.

Friday, November 19 was IUI Day.  We went to the clinic in the morning, and Brian registered for a collection room.  The semen were washed to improve motility and sorted to be sure that only the most perfect ones were injected. The actual washing takes about an hour, so we got lunch and milled around the hospital nervously.  When the sample was ready at the lab, I tucked it under my arm and we walked down the hall to the doctor’s office. I changed from the waist down and they did the procedure.

I didn’t find the IUI to be nearly as painful as a regular trans-vaginal ultrasound.  The speculum is never fun, of course, but that was the worst part.  The doctor inserted a tiny catheter into my uterus.  I understand this can be painful or sensitive for some women, but it really wasn’t an issue.  She inserted 30 million sperm with an 8% perfection.  She said 30 million swimmers is a great number for IUI, and that 8% perfection is about as high as they usually see.  They have very few men with 9-12% perfection.

After the procedure, which took about 10 minutes, I laid on the table for 20 minutes, and then went home.  I opted to take the rest of the day off and lie around.  I was quite crampy, but this is totally normal for me during ovulation.  I also found that I’m pretty sensitive to the hCG, because I was crampy, nauseous, dizzy, and sore for the next 11 days.

In interest of being informative, our costs broke down like this:  $228 for semen collection and sperm washing, and $117 for the IUI.  Not nearly as expensive as we had feared.  Brian’s sample was tested for anti-sperm antibodies, too, but we haven’t been billed for that.  It may have been covered by our insurance.

For this cycle, we had the following costs:

$1572 in office visits

Either @220 or $270 in medications (I lost track)

$345 for IUI

That was a little over $2100, not counting lost income, childcare for the Munchkins, and gas.  It was a very long cycle, to be fair.  Bear in mind that the cost at your particular doctor’s office may be different, but this should give you some idea if you’re trying to figure out how much this is going to cost you.