Baileys Adventures

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

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.

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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.

 

Lies I Tell Myself December 1, 2010

Filed under: Infertility,TTC — andreabaileys @ 10:54 pm
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I told myself that I knew an IUI wasn’t going to work, so I certainly wouldn’t be hurt when it didn’t.

I told myself we were just doing it so we could say we tried everything short of IVF.  We had drawn a line for ourselves, and this would simply be our stopping point.

I told myself that I wasn’t emotionally invested in this IUI.  It wasn’t going to work, remember?

I told myself that I had resigned myself to not having children.

I told myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone when I had my IU, so that I wouldn’t have to face telling them when it was a failure.  Maybe just Mama, or my YaYa Princess.  Maybe one of my sisters in law.  But certainly not anyone else.

I told myself that I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

I told myself I wouldn’t fantasize about telling our parents I was pregnant, or how I would tell my friends.  I wouldn’t imagine what next Thanksgiving would be like, or next Christmas. I wouldn’t plan for a child who doesn’t exist.

I told myself I wouldn’t stress through the Two Week Wait.  I told myself I wouldn’t analyze my “symptoms”.

I told myself that the cramps were a good sign, and certainly not the beginning of the end.

And now I’m telling myself that I’m okay with this, that it’s okay it was a failure.

I’m finding out that I lie to myself a lot.  Because I did hope, and I do want, and I am so very disappointed and sad.

I told myself we’d only do it once.

I lied.

 

Money Money Money Money November 8, 2010

Filed under: Infertility,TTC — andreabaileys @ 9:00 am
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I really hate talking about money.  We have such a love-hate relationship with it around here.  We are desperately trying to get out of debt, and yet seem to run into it at every turn.  We’re living on a shoestring budget but need to tighten up.  We strive to be non-consumers in so many ways, mostly because we both hate materialism and commercialism.  But we sure could use two new laptops and some hardwood flooring.

So when we started to do this whole IF thing, money naturally was a concern.  For the first nine months, it was easy — no gurus, OB-Gyn copays only, and no meds. When we started with the gurus in September 2008, all my diagnostics were covered by insurance, with our copays and deductibles being our only issue.  However, the minute I took the first Clomid, insurance stopped paying for anything but the drugs.  All appointments were now on us.  This still wasn’t a huge deal.  Ultrasounds and blood work usually wasn’t more than $150 each month and we could fit that nicely into our budget.

Injectables and a planned IUI have changed all of that.  I make no bones about telling people this whole cycle is on Visa.  We had my old Visa almost entirely paid off, and it will most certainly not be by the end of this cycle. Which is why we’re almost at the end of our TTC mess.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a huge taboo to talk about how much fertility treatments cost.  I am over it, y’all.  I’ve talked to you about giving yourself injections, and about all manner of personal stuff.  I want this cycle of my infertility trial to benefit you by providing you with information.  So I’m going to through some numbers at you in case you got here by Googling “how much does an injectable fertility cycle cost?!”.

Please bear in mind that these are the costs that I have been quoted.  Your clinic and insurance are sure to be different.  Your willingness to use internet drug sites might be a lot more…willing…than mine.  I am just telling you what we have as a baseline.

Each visit to my doctor for monitoring includes an internal ultrasound and blood work to monitor my estradiol levels.  My gurus tell me that estradiol, or E2,  is an indicator of how well I’m responding because it’s produced by developing follicles.  I typically have an appointment on the weekend and one during the week.  Lately I seem to fall on Wednesdays and Sundays, or Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Two visits each week.  Each visit costs $217. Each week therefore costs $434.  I have been eight times, I believe.  Luckily, the insurance coordinator at my clinic called me aside last Wednesday and said that once I reached six GNT appointments, they no longer charge for ultrasounds.  So each visit will only be $54 for blood work.  Yay for being a big ol’ failure so far!  In all seriousness, this has injected (HA!) new life into this cycle – we were within three visits of having to quit, and now have about 12 more until we are broke.  If you are trying a GNT cycle, plan ahead for the number of visits you can afford and make it known to your doctor.

I have a vial of human chorionic gonadotropin waiting for me at the end of this cycle.  It cost me $70 with insurance, and is one dose. I won’t be linking to any shopping sites for this as it’s technically an anabolic steroid and I don’t need that kind of traffic, thankyouverymuch.

I am currently on Bravelle.  I order it from a specialty pharmacy because that is the only way my insurance will pay for it.  However, I love this pharmacy and am seriously considering transferring all our prescriptions there because they have been courteous, helpful, and super-fast.  Even when there was a little snafu that was not really their fault, they jumped in to help out.  I was prescribed 30 vials of Bravelle, or 6 boxes.  I have four refills, for a total of 120 vials.  I am currently halfway through my second order.  I pay only a $50 copay for each shipment, which includes all my syringes, needles, drug box, and alcohol pads.  And shipping, as far as I can tell.    When I ordered my first shipment, I asked the kind lady on the phone how much this would cost if my insurance had turned it down.  She either told me $150 or $170.  I can’t remember, so let’s err on the side of caution and say $150.  PER VIAL, y’all.

Reality check:  If I were to order all 120 vials that I may very well need without benefit of insurance, it would look like this:
30 vials x 4 refills =  120 vials

120 vials x $150/vial = $18,000

Wrap your head around that.  That is just for drugs. Not for an IUI, not for monitoring visits, not for the $25 in gas I spend for each appointments.  18K for tiny vials of medication to maybe have a baby.  I currently use 2.5 vials each night.  That’s $375 worth of medication each night.  My insurance may suck, but thank God for it!

Luckily, there are lots of sites online where you can order drugs for cheap.  The cheapest site I saw listed Bravelle at $80.  $80 times 120 = $12,000.  So much more reasonable.  Sure.

So you can see why this is a big deal.  I hope this information has helped someone in some way, even if it’s put a kink in your plans.  Knowledge is power, and information is a good tool to have at your disposal.  I’ll do a similar post for our IUI when we finally get there.  Which, at this rate, if probably going to be in about 2012…..

 

IF November 1, 2010

Filed under: Infertility — andreabaileys @ 9:00 am
Tags: , ,

I was surfing through a blog the other day and saw a book that references IF. IF, if you’re new here, is “infertility”.  I’ve used the term IF in many blogs, in speech, in emails, and so forth.  But I never noticed something until today.

IF is IF.

As in “if”.  Infertility is a land of “if”.

IF I can’t get pregnant then I’ll go to the doctor.

IF this doesn’t work, then I”ll go to a specialist.

IF my hysterosalpingogram is clear and his analysis is good,

then I’ll start Clomid.

IF Clomid works, then I’ll be a mama.

IF Clomid doesn’t work, well, then what?

IF I’m going to use injectables, then I need to learn how to give myself a shot.

IF these drugs work, then I’ll be a mama.

IF they don’t, then what?

IF I get pregnant, what if something goes wrong?

IF this all works, will I be a mama?

There are so many IFs, so much waiting and seeing, so much trial and error. Infertility is truly IF.

 

Crazy Schedules October 29, 2010

Filed under: Baileys Adventures,TTC — andreabaileys @ 2:00 pm
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This has been the longest week….couple of weeks…month….whatever.  Brian has been working evening shifts, so he’s getting home between midnight and 2 most nights.  Even on days when he has to watch the kids or have an appointment, he’s usually in at noon and off around midnight.  I, meanwhile, do not sleep well when he’s not home and wake up when he comes to bed.  My nights have gotten very short!

On top of all that, I’m at the fertility gurus’ office every three or four days for an ultrasound and blood draw, usually around 9 AM.  That’s a two hour round-trip for a twenty minute appointment.  Including Saturdays and Sundays.  I know I haven’t posted much about it lately, but that’s because there’s just not much to tell. I’m not responding well to Bravelle, and am up to 2 vials nightly.  So far my follicles are only around 8 mm, and my estradiol has been dropping.  I’m praying for a better result this Sunday when I go, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  At this rate, we’ll burn through our money before we even get to an IUI.  As it is, we’re pretty sure we can no longer afford a second cycle unless this cycle progresses soon.  Meanwhile, the constant trips back and forth are getting tedious!  I as stuck in traffic for an hour the other day, and the two hour trip turned into four thanks to two wrecks on two interstates and construction.

This weekend we’re having our 4th annual Halloween party!  If you’re local, come on by!  I love hosting this party — Mama used to do it until her knees got bad and she couldn’t handle the preparations and trick or treating with all those stairs.  We took it over and now that her knees are fixed I don’t want to give it back!  The party gives us the chance to entertain at least once each year.  Which totally justifies my keeping a billion serving platters and giant bowls, right? However….there’s a lot of cleaning that goes into getting ready for a party!  I’m sure no one notices if your baseboards are clean…but I do.  So I figure I should clean mine in case anyone in attendance is as neurotic as me.  I just love the feeling of a clean house on the day of a party, and even more on the following day when I don’t have to worry about any housework!  I always say I’m going to take pictures of Halloween, and then I forget to actually do it.  We’ll see about this time.

When you’re praying today, please keep my YaYa Princess in your prayers. She is swiftly approaching her delivery of her sweet baby EB and could use some calm and serenity.  Likewise, we’re waiting on a phone call that will hopefully be life changing.  It’s not baby-related (we are multi-faceted around here) but just as important.  Thanks!

Happy Halloween!