Thursday, June 30, 2016

Episode 9: The Mind: Your Most Powerful Tool

This was the title of a podcast I received from Weight Watchers last week.  I will get to it in just a moment.

The last two weeks I have felt so very peaceful and content.

  • I took a week's vacation from work and did NOT check my email even once over the course of 10 days (that has never happened in the history of the school!).
  •  I finished my Summer I class and submitted my article for rejection publication (not trying to be Debbie Downer, but it's my first article in my very first doctoral class to a publication that accepts less than 10% of submissions so it is not likely to be accepted and I am ok with that. Just glad I have my first article done!).  
  • We went to the beach with my family for a few days. 
  • I cut caffeine and booze completely from my system and have done well running (not so much with the yoga, but I will give it another shot next week).  With the beach trip Weight Watchers has been touch and go.  In fact with the way they have changed it, it may continue to be touch and go.  I am all for being conscious of what you eat and I SHOULD be all about clean eating these days (which the new system is all about), but I like sugar, carbs, and fat in moderation and there does not seem to be a place for these in the new plan:(.
  • I focused on just the day or few days ahead of me.
  • I continued with my bible studies and daily prayer.
  • I used our cashback bonus money to redecorate our living room and dining room--yay shopping!
Then today I felt a giant knot in the back of my neck.  The kind of knot I used to get pretty often during the school year.  The kind of knot that was brought on by too much work, too little time, a lot of stress, and a lot of obsessing over how I wanted things to go (whether they were in my control or not).  It was like my happy little bubble of peace burst for no apparent reason--or was there?

Tuesday--from the above mentioned Weight Watchers Podcast no less--I was intrigued by the truth in the following statement:

"How you think determines how you feel and how you feel determines the choices you make."  

This statement popped into my head tonight and I realized that I was the cause for the burst bubble.  For some reason today, I lost sight of focusing on one day at a time and got my brain caught up in how I was going to keep myself busy in the days leading up to transfer.  Which then led my brain down the rabbit hole of the transfer itself and the various scenarios tied to whether it is successful or whether it is not.  Ideas and plans kept crowding my thoughts.  I think these thoughts, along with no exercise or time outdoors compounded into stress and anxiety for which I only had myself to blame.

I have got to recapture my thoughts.  If only one day of thinking run rampant causes me this much angst I can't let it go on a moment more.  It is time to focus on just one day at a time.  Weight Watchers I thank you-your new plan may suck, but I am least getting something out of it!

  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cyst

My ovaries are proving to be my nemesis.  They can't seem to get it together to produce eggs properly.  The left one is always a bugger to find with an ultrasound.  Today the right one decided it was tired of not doing anything productive so it decided to produce a 3.1 mm cyst.  Seriously, ovaries, you have one job for the next 6 weeks-to do nothing-and you can't even get that right?!?!

I went in this morning for my day 3 blood work & ultrasound.  Though it may actually be day 4 since the birth control pills I was on seemed to decide not to give me an actual period this cycle.  Anyway, I was successful in giving them all the blood they needed (which is usually the tricky part because I have tiny veins).  I thought the biggest topic of conversation would be the birth control, cycle day stuff-silly me.

I have experienced pinching on my right side on and off for a couple of years now.  When I mentioned it to my gynecologist, she just kind of brushed it off.  I also vaguely recall a cyst during one of our IUIs, but the doctor wasn't worried about it.  Apparently cysts can be inactive.  In the case of an inactive cyst, apparently things can proceed.  If the blood work proves it to be active then I have to undergo surgery to have it removed.  

They are supposed to call later today and let me know where we go from here.  Fingers crossed!

Update:  Dr.'s office just called with the all clear (thank you, Lord).  My BCPs should be ready in about an hour.  Let's get this party started!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fear

I think I have known for a while, but now that it is staring me in the face, I know for certain-I am scared of IVF.

I don't love needles, but after meeting with the nurse and getting our protocol I think I will be ok on that front.  I am also not scared of the actual procedure itself.  I am not over the moon about essentially draining our savings, but know that it is just money and can be replaced.

I am scared-  I will not get pregnant or if I do that I will miscarry or have a stillborn or the baby will be born and suffer from a fatal disease.

For the normally level headed, positive thinking person I am, this unfamiliar and overwhelming fear feels like def-con 5 and I don't know how to deal.  I hate that infertility has knocked the naivete right out of me as I would love to be blissfully ignorant of all of things, but while all of my reading has led me a better understanding of what we are going through it has also exposed me to the grief that may still lay ahead on our journey. I used to, again naively, believe that once you had been dealt a blow in one area of your life that area was no longer vulnerable to future "attacks" as you had paid your dues in that realm.  However, I now know that this is not true and that bad things can strike over and over and over again.

Yesterday, these feelings came to a head.  It was my first official day off and gave myself the freedom to do nothing.  Unfortunately, nothing can lead to lots of thinking which in my case turned into these feelings bubbling over.  Keeping my stress level down is important for success so this has to change.

Later in the afternoon I needed to get out so I took a long walk and spent some time spilling my heart out to God.  By the end of the walk I felt better.  Hard not to when the day looked like this:



I also had these two scriptures laid on my heart:



Clearly these are going to need to become daily mantras for the coming weeks (and God willing months!) ahead.








Friday, June 17, 2016

Land of Crickets

So Land of Crickets Adoption finally responded to my email.  I assumed correctly that it would be vague, I was incorrect about the praying for us-she went for preachy instead.

Here are some of the best gems:

1.  I think it would be a positive thing to know other families that are working with Land of Crickets so you could uplift one another.

2.  Remember, stressful or anxious feelings are normal as you travel down the adoption road. What you choose to do with these feelings is completely under your control

3.  Adoption is about faith and timing, but it is also about doing what you can to make yourself an active participant in your own adoption journey

We agreed with gem #1...for the first 12-16 months, but guess what?  When nothing happens for anyone we continue to uplift one another and turn our frustration to the root cause who doesn't seem to be doing much for anyone!

In regard to #2 & #3, I am in 100% agreement that my feelings and my actions are my choice and are the only things within my locus of control.  That being said, the only specifics Land of Crickets has ever offered in regard to outreach is that they network with over 200 websites which provide expectant mothers interested in placing their child for adoption with Lifetime's contact information.  There have also been vague references to other outreach avenues, but even when pressed in webinars for what the other means of outreach are they are not directly addressed.  So I am taking responsibility for my feelings and actions, but have begun to question theirs.

J.T. and our friends who are with Land of Crickets have long since given up any real sense of hope that they will fulfill their end of the bargain.  Even though I know this process has been interminable I always assumed we would complete an adoption with Land of Crickets, though a sentence towards the end of the email has now led me think otherwise as :

As long as you are partnering with us and doing everything that we ask and provided that you have not added to your family during that time,  I can continue to request extensions to your contract.

Land of Crickets does allow a freeze to your status in the event of pregnancy.   In the event we do become pregnant next month we intended to take advantage of said freeze and then assumed we would be a candidate for the extension because we have done everything they have requested of us to this point.  However, if an addition to your family is now a reason which they use to get out of contract extension then, in the event we have a baby, it seems we would be denied the extension.  In which case they will need to watch out as I do NOT intend to go quietly off into the night, since not fulfilling a contract (though never guaranteed, but heavily hinted would result in an adoption if we followed their "plan") and then punishing families who are able to add to their family using other means during the nearly 2 years of waiting is bulls*&!.

In addition to my lingering thoughts on the email, still lingering is renewing our home study.  On the one hand, should we update everything on schedule and get pregnant-we will have spent money unnecessarily since we would go on freeze for almost a year (or be knocked out of the game entirely).  On the other hand, in the event the IVF does not go as planned, we can spend $200 more dollars to have an expedited home study completed in two weeks which still gives us time to have it completed by the one year deadline. Typing this out helps make "the other hand" seem like the better option, so all of my ranting has led to at least on productive nugget today:).

The bottom line is my frustration with Land of Crickets has not been resolved, but I need to put it to rest for now.  I responded to her email succinctly thanking her for responding and telling her have a nice weekend then promptly filed it away out of my inbox.  I will let JT. know about the response if he asks.  I will also share the exchange with our friends the next time we see them.  Otherwise, I am letting it go, to the best of my ability, and giving it God for now.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The (Genetic) Mother of my Child

I never imagined having to choose the (genetic) mother of my child.  J.T. assumed once we got married he had made this decision.  Yet, here we are.

The good news is that while the path we are on is not experienced by many, we are not the pioneers.  So I turned to my internet mentors for guidance.  Each discussed the personal criteria they worked within and what led them to their particular set of criteria.  In fairness to others who may take this path after us, I offer our experience.

I mentioned a few days ago that I didn't realize it, but I did feel drawn to try to find a donor who looked something like me.  As a result we narrowed our search to donors with similar hair color (it has gotten darker as I've gotten older so it gave us a bit of a spectrum) and light eyes.  Intellect and ambition were also important to us both.  Personality and interests also were outlying factors.  I found myself drawn to woman who were musically inclined, athletic, and interested in reading/games/trivia all of which fall in my wheelhouse.

Without my online mentors I would not have thought to consider a donor's previous fertility (i.e. had she given birth or had any of her donated eggs resulted in a live birth), so that was added to the list. Another item I found myself looking for (thanks to those who have walked this path before us) was a "genuine" reason for donating.  I appreciated the honesty of the woman who shared of loved ones experiences with infertility which motivated them to donate themselves or that they wanted to do what they could for others but also needed the compensation for their time to pay off students loans.

Through advice from my online mentors we also each went off separately to review the potential "candidates", came up with our top picks from each of two eggs banks with whom our RE works, and come together to see if there was any overlap.  Given how different my husband and I are, it is not surprising that we only came back with one match...but at least we had one!

We fully recognize and accept that our adopted child may come to us with a very different background from the choices we have made here, and even though we have actively sought a donor with these characteristics we full recognize that this little one may be nothing like we imagine.  Heck, even with our own DNA who knows what we would get?!?  However, over the last six years of having very few options it was honestly a refreshing (while at the same time overwhelming and nerve wracking) change of pace.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gearing Up to Cycle

We met with a nurse and a member of the financial department at our RE's office today.  I will start with the visit with the nurse first because it was more pleasant than the finance part:).

If I get my period as planned this weekend, I will start taking full estrogen birth control pills (rather than these low estrogen pills I've been taking which kind of suck).  I will then begin taking Lupron around the 30th.  Lupron is an injectable medication used to turn off your bodies natural ovarian stimulation.  In hearing, injection, I immediately asked about-gulp- the size of the needle.  Fortunately it is a small needle, about the size of the Ovridel I had to inject myself with for our IUIs.  I inject them into my belly where fortunately those extra pounds can do some good and cushion the blow!

I will stop the birth control during the week of July 4th and should have another period (2 in 3 weeks seems a bit excessive, but it's for a good cause, right?!?).  Somewhere in there is a trial/mock transfer to ensure there are minimal surprises on the big day.  Then I begin estrogen patches which will help to build up my lining to make my tiny friend(s) more comfortable and want to stay for a long time (or at least the next 9 months!).  Oh, this is also about the time, the big, scary progesterone shots begin:(

Our donor eggs will be thawed and fertilized (right now tentatively scheduled for July 22) and the lab will call with updates keeping us informed on their development.  Then, the optimal game plan is a 5 day transfer on the 26th.

The finance lady didn't hold too many surprises, but we are looking at several more thousand dollars than we had anticipated.  There is also an "guarantee" option provided by one of the egg banks, so we have that to consider.  We are very blessed to be in the position that this option is even financially feasible for us, and it is our greatest hope that this is what God envisioned for our savings and that He has a safety net for us should any other unforeseen financial needs arise.

So between all of this, running, yoga, (attempting to) publish(ing) an article, going to the beach, starting my second summer class, hosting friends from out of town (yay!), attempting to work here and there, these next six weeks are going to fly by (I hope!).


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dream

I know it's usually boring when other people share their dreams, but it's relevant so I am sharing anyway:).

I was having a dream where I was with some kindergarteners and I was taking them down a stairway that looked like this, but it just kept going and going seemingly forever:


Then I left the stairway by myself and entered a kitchen that wasn't ours, but somehow I knew was ours in the dream.  On the counter was a baby carrier and inside was a baby girl!  I don't know exactly how old she was, probably a few months old, and had a cold.  

J.T. had to go to work and I was going to stay home with her because I hadn't spent much time with her.  She was hungry and the only formula we had was in the cupboard from the formula left on our doorstep.  We had to use the formula from the one box because the other one had rice and chicken and I authoritatively (lol) explained to J.T. that she couldn't have solids until she was 6 months old.  J.T. left and so it was just baby girl and me.

At first I carried baby girl around in the infant seat and then I realized that this was MY baby girl and I could take her out and carry her if I wanted to, so I did:).  

A text (in real life) woke me up, so that's where the dream ended.  But for a few brief, shining moments I was someone's mama...and I loved it.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

21 Months

Now that I am blogging more frequently I have gotten in the habit of looking at where I was a year ago.  On June 12, 2015 I published this post on how our first nine months of the adoption wait brought us nothing but crickets.

Well I guess when you add another year of crickets, an opportunity to either advocate for or warn against your adoption professional, and  pent up frustration at your adoption professional it leads to perfect storm of word vomit that I directed at our adoption coordinator.

She had only reached out with our monthly status update which contained nothing new (expect of course the reminder of updating our home study).  They always ask for us to respond so I did (probably not exactly what she was expecting).  You will find some excerpts of my diatribe below:

Everything you have noted on our 21st status sheet continues to be accurate.

As you may have seen in our information I am a school principal.  When we became active with Land of the Crickets Adoption (not their real name but it should be!)  in September 2014, I made my staff aware that we were an actively waiting adoptive family so they would not be surprised in the event that a baby joined our midst sans baby bump or notice.  

A teacher new to my staff this year approached me today to let me know that she and her husband were pursuing adoption.  The way she addressed it let me know that other teachers on her grade level team had shared with her that we too were pursuing adoption, so I let her know that she could come to me with any questions she had on the subject.  I also asked her what adoption professional they were utilizing and she responded, "Land of the Crickets Adoption.  They are out of Siberia (not really, but they might as well be!)."

I'm not going to lie, my heart dropped.  I wanted to give her a big, warm smile and say "That is fantastic!  You could not have selected a better option.", but I couldn't.  Below you will find what I did share with her and the rationale behind it:

I shared with her we selected Land of the Crickets Adoption because I noted several of the positive reasons we selected them.

I also shared that the coordinators we have worked with are great.  I explained they are very responsive and provide a great deal of guidance in helping you set up your profile, video, etc. and prepare for the adoption process through webinars and resources.

On the flip side I shared with her that we know two other local couples working with Land of the Crickets Adoption who have also been waiting for nearly 2 years or longer.

I also shared with her that over the last 6 months I have been actively observing our region on the Land of the Crickets Adoption website to celebrate for the families whom I see have been matched or have adopted and during that 6 month period have been able to celebrate only one couple in our home state (out of the nearly 20) who have been waiting during that time frame.

Beyond what the reasons I shared with my teacher, my response also stems from the following.  We recognize that the timing of adoption is in God's hands.  However, adoption is not a connection that most people can make themselves.  So we have paid nearly a bazillion dollars (or tat least it feels like it) that is nonrefundable to your organization to aid in that process.  We personally know two couples who have done the same.  Additionally, through the Land of the Crickets Adoption Website I am aware of a number of other couples within our state who have done the same.  

As you may be aware, the most recent data provided by Adoptive Families denotes that 75% of waiting families are matched in less than 18 months.  This data is very similar to the data collected in the preceding years.  To know that we are apart of the "unlucky" 25% is disheartening.  To know there are multiple couples from our home state in the same position with the same adoption professional is heartbreaking.      

Today's experience with my teacher is one of two opportunities I have had in the last 6 weeks to serve as a possible advocate for Land of the Crickets Adoption.  In both circumstances couples from our state who had spent years coping with infertility were looking for hope in adoption.  In both circumstances I encouraged their choice to adopt.  In both circumstances I touted the positives of our experience with Land of the Crickets as noted above.  However, in both circumstances I advised them to continue "shopping" for an adoption professional.

With today being the second such opportunity, I wanted to provide you a chance to reshape my thinking if you feel there is anything I have noted that is inaccurate.

It felt good to get my feelings off my chest.  It felt good to share directly with the source of my frustration. Even though we are exploring other means of starting our family, it does not change the fact that we still wish to adopt.   I am expecting one of two responses.  Either it will be very vague and remind us that they are continuing to pray for us OR it will provide some insight as to what is really going on.  While I am hoping to receive the latter, I bet you a million bucks it will be the former:(,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bottoms Up

Send the children home for the summer-check!  Send the teachers home-check!  We are graduating our first class of seniors tonight and while they began as a seventh graders and were never a part of my program, I can't help but feeling a touch of pride for being a part of it all.

Beginning tomorrow I am back on Weight Watchers.  Time to begin whittling away at the ten pounds I gained over the course of the school year (and avoid adding the extra ten I gained last June).  A week from now I also am giving up drinking, caffeine and whatever else gives my uterus the best shot ever of having a tenant for nine months.

Tuesday the first draft of my article is due.  Oh, I may have forgotten to mention that for my first class in my doctoral program I get an A or an F.  I get an A for submitting an article for publication and an F if I don't.  I have 5 weeks total from start to finish.  2500 words written 3500 more to go!

Cheers to summer...it is shaping up to be one of the most interesting ones yet!


Monday, June 6, 2016

Season Finale

We are in the ending days of the school year and are working to wrap up all the loose ends of another successful school year.  A teacher friend of mine is wrapping up her school year as well and we met for dinner this evening because once school is out she is off to her summer job.  Now don't feel too badly that she works during the summer months too as she gets to be a childcare provider on a Mediterranean Cruise line--free room & board, paid to travel, with just part of the day devoted to entertaining the kiddies.   As we were saying goodbye she noted "The next time I see you, you could be pregnant!".

It got me to thinking if my life was a tv show, we would be in the midst of the season finale.  It would conclude with me bidding a fond farewell to all of my staff and friends I might not get see during the summer.  We would go on hiatus for the summer and before you know it I would return for the the fall season with an adorable baby bump, all smiley and light because our little one on the way.  No muss, no fuss!  Sigh...if only my life was a tv show.

In my non-tv show life, we have decided to proceed with IVF using Donor Eggs-yay!

I called and left a message for our doctor on the way to work this morning and got a call back around dismissal scheduling a meeting for the middle of next week with the nursing team and the financial department.  Even that first step leads to hiccups and questions as I bet you a million dollars the appointment time will not work well with J.T's schedule (and they confirmed we both need to be present).

Also, when I visited the site of the egg bank our doctor uses it says our clinic will need to provide us with paperwork which they will need to submit before we can begin to view donors.  I am assuming paperwork could be completed before we have to sit down with the nursing team, so I suspect our desire to proceed with donor eggs instead of my eggs got lost somewhere in translation.  So I left a message this evening to clarify.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Update

So finally we have the analysis results.  2 out of the three numbers are great...the third not so much.    I was so hoping that for once the answer would be clear cut (3 for 3?  Let's start looking for an egg donor! or 0 for 3?  Bring on an embryo donor!).   But once again even that was thwarted by stupid math, science and dumb luck.

Based on what I have read, that third number is one of the most debatable in regard to how it impacts fertility.  Also, an additional step (at an additional cost of course) called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) can be added to the process which increases the chance for success. So we shall see which side we land on, though I have a pretty good guess.

It is also time to update our home study (again!!!).  We use a local agency for our home study and as a part of her response in sending the update information the agency administrator said:

"I see that this is your third update.  Typically our families adopting domestically do not wait two+ years for placement.  Feel free to call me if you'd like to chat about some placement options."

She's not wrong.  Adoptive Families just released the data from their 2014-2015 survey.


You will note-at an almost 22 month wait time-we are finding our place among the slowest 25% (because, of course why wouldn't we be among the most atypical of the atypical!?!?).  However, I suspect our wait time has as much to do with our preferences (which are concrete at this time) as they do with our choice in adoption professional, so without a change in preferences I don't foresee changing or adding an additional adoptive professional is going to change very much for us wait wise.  

We do know a family who went with one of the suggested alternatives.  They were matched within about a month with birth parents who were expecting a little girl that matched their (which also happen to be our) preferences so the wait time is absolutely faster!.  That being said, the adoptive family ended up providing living expenses for the birth family (husband, wife and three kids) for 6 months as a part of the adoption plan.  Their daughter is an absolute doll and is without a doubt the little one meant for them; however, despite their very positive outcome and our increasing lack of patience we do not feel that an adoption plan of that nature is in our future.

So the bottom line is with the results in, a final answer to Donor Egg vs. Embryo Adoption question should be imminent which would result in some form of action.  Also, updating the home study, while it sucks to have to do it again- also gives us something productive to do on the adoption front.  

Fingers crossed that productive summer on both fronts leads to some positive results in the not so distance future!