Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Namesake

         Just like every other couple, Skyler and I have talked a lot about the names of our future children. We both feel names are very important and can be a true reflection of who that child becomes. Skyler is very fond of uncommon names, as he has one, but is very adamant that we will not be using Skyler for our children's name (his biological mother named him after a soap opera character, so he would rather give a name to our children with a little more meaning and depth).  We both also like the idea of carrying on family names in one way or another, and have decided that if we have a girl they will get my middle name. And in all actuality it was very easy for us to come up with girl names, but not so easy when it came to picking boys names.

         Both Skyler and I have had very influential men in our lives, who have truly shaped us into the people we are today. Like I've talked about in a past post, one of the most influential people in my life was my Uncle Richard. Skyler has also had very influential men come into his life as well; one being his childhood best friend, Kyle, and his childhood counselor, Max. Sadly, ten years ago Kyle was killed and Max closed down his practice and wasn't heard from by Skyler or his parents. There really aren't words to describe how much Kyle and Max meant to Skyler, nor how much they helped shape him into the man he is today. I know I will be forever grateful to both of them for teaching Skyler all they did and guiding him through a rough childhood. So when talking about boys names I felt that to honor Skyler, we should incorporate Kyle and Max's names somehow.

         As I said above, Max wasn't heard from by Skyler's family for some time, but Skyler always had a desire to reconnect with him. Thankfully Google came out and we had the ability to search for Max, but could never find anything about him. Then just a couple of years ago Skyler was doing another search for him and remembered that his daughter lived in Virginia, so Skyler searched for Max in Virginia and in just a couple of hours found out that he as living in an assisted living facility in Virginia! Skyler was then able to get Max's direct line and called him up. I know from listening to that phone call that both of them were so surprised and awe struck to be talking again. It was an emotional call for both of them and that's when Skyler learned that Max has stage 4 lung cancer. Once I heard that news I knew that we needed to get out to Virginia to see him, but also to ask his permission to name our son after the man who helped shape Skyler into the amazing person he is today.

        So a few things happened in life and a couple of years passed, but this past week we made it out to Virginia and saw Max. Seeing Skyler and Max together was one of the most heart warming things I've ever witnessed. The love they have for each other was so evident and you could tell their connection was stronger than mere counselor and patient. We were able to visit with Max a couple of times during the week and he just beamed about how proud he was of Skyler for facing all the adversity he did as a child and becoming such an amazing man. At one point Max explained that after the first few years he didn't see himself as Skyler's counselor, but as a second father figure, which opened up the conversation of us wanting to name a boy after him if that happens in the future. Max was so touched that he just held Skyler's hand and openly wept about how honored he would be if that ever happened. For the rest of the visit we all cried and hugged and created so much love that I can't even explain the feeling. All I know is that when our little boy is born he will know all about his namesake and that he was loved even before he was known.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Predicament of the Process

      One thing that we’ve heard from almost everyone who has read our blog is that they didn’t really know how hard this journey has been for us until they started to read our posts. And for that we are truly sorry. Our friends and family provide our strong foundation to get through the ups and downs of our infertility journey, and I don’t think Skyler and I realized how much we had not exposed about everything we go through. I know we don’t consciously keep it a “secret,” but I thought a lot about it today, and I just kept coming back to the idea that we most likely haven’t shared our feelings and emotions about this process because, in a way, that means we have to admit that we aren’t “normal;” that we are, in some ways, broken and unable to fulfill the directions set for us by God. In our heart of hearts we know that we will be able to have the family that God has designed for us, but it’s hard when things don’t happen naturally. Like we’ve said before, it’s hard not to question God about why we have to go through this, but this past Sunday we had a guest pastor come to church who, yet again, put everything into perspective.
                During service our guest pastor talked about how when the Israelites were going through their exodus from Egypt, there came a time when they began to lose hope about finding the promised land and told Moses and cried out to God that they wanted to go back to Egypt where they had food and water and knew what to expect.  Even though they had just gone through 400 years of slavery, the Israelites were ready to give up hope and go back to being slaves because at least they knew what was behind them instead of waiting for what was ahead of them. At this point during service, the pastor talked about how the “Predicament of the Process” is the most trying aspect of being a Christian. It’s easy to have faith when you decide to give your life to Christ (the beginning) and to know where you are going when you die (the end), but it’s the middle, the process, that is the hardest to get through.  This feels so true for the infertility process we are going through. It was easy to have faith when I was first diagnosed with PCOS that things would happen when they were supposed to. And it’s easy to have faith that one day we will have a family, but it’s the in between that is the hardest.

                The in between seems to be the hardest for a few reasons. The biggest one, for me at least, is just the amount of time it takes to get answers and try different procedures. I am a very impatient person, so knowing that each step could take 3-6 months is so hard for me to deal with. Skyler and I have said multiple times that it would be much easier if we could get one answer: to keep trying to have a baby biologically or to start our family through adoption. Another reason the in between is so hard is because there is no definite answer. Infertility is unfortunately not like Algebra; no matter how many variables we know about, we never seem to be able to find the answer to “X”.  What we just have to remember is no matter how hard the process is, we know the outcome. We know that God will answer our prayers one day and until then we will use the strength from those closest to us to keep us going.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sometimes you just gotta laugh!

            Even through all of the emotional ups and downs that this process is full of, Skyler and I like to think that we are able to laugh about most things. One of the things that makes me laugh a lot is all the different advice we get on how to become pregnant. Today I thought I would compile a list for you all to enjoy J and who knows maybe these will work one day! (We haven’t necessarily been given all of the following advice, but some of our friends have!)

How to get pregnant:
  •        Sleep with the curtains open so that the moonlight can come into your room and make you ovulate
  •          Stand on your head for at least 10 minutes after intercourse (wouldn’t you pass out after that long?!)
  •          Get a puppy
  •          Men should eat more bananas to increase sperm levels
  •          If you want a baby boy you should take a tablespoon of honey every day; you should eat red meat
  •          If you want a baby girl you should eat a lot of chocolate
  •          Sit on a pregnant woman’s chair (similarly: rub a pregnant woman’s belly)
  •          Drink grapefruit juice
  •          Plant a rosemary bush and avoid mints
  •          Eating yams will give you twins
  •          Don’t eat strawberries because then your baby will have birthmarks
  •          Men should take their socks off while in bed
  •          Don’t look at mice they give baby birthmarks
  •          Women should give someone a gift of silver to get pregnant
  •          Swim in the ocean when it is warm (Good thing we are going on vacation soon!)
  •          Don’t sweep or vacuum under your bed (Now I can justify not cleaning our room!)
  •          Eating sweet and salty foods at the same time will give you fraternal twins (This one will probably make Skyler nervous because I absolutely love sea salted caramel!)
  •          Take two hot bricks, rub honey on them, and fan your family with the vapor

These all definitely give me a good laugh when I need it, but I know that some of these suggestions have helped people get pregnant. They all most likely correlate with a placebo effect, which to me just shows that we never really know when anything is going to happen in our lives. When my mom was trying to get pregnant with me, my godmother talked about the fertility powers of snakes. A couple of weeks later my mom saw a huge bull snake in our front yard, and 9 months later I came along! My mom and I laugh about this a lot especially since Skyler and I have a pet snake in our room!


I think I also get a good laugh from suggestions like this because I imagine this advice is quite amusing to God too. Ultimately He is the only one who knows what will work for us and it all just goes back to being patient and letting nature take its course. But in the meantime, maybe I’ll make some sweet potato casserole for dinner tonight! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Just Relax and Don't Worry About It...and Other Such Things


As we're going through a battle like this we end up talking to tons of people from family, friends, doctors, coworkers, people at church and many others.  During these conversations there are things that we hear on a pretty regular basis that tend to drive us nuts and can actually be quite hurtful even though they are usually said with the intent of helping.  Most of the time the individuals who have said these things don't even know that what they've said has had a negative impact and we honestly probably won't tell them since it wasn't meant to.  I’ve thought about a couple of different ways to write this post and I think that the easiest way is to just go through four of the most common and impactful statements we hear and explain our thoughts and feelings about them.  Without further ado… 

“Just relax and don’t worry about it” – this is undoubtedly the most common thing that we hear and it absolutely drives us crazy.  Infertility is one of those issues that is always in the forefront of your mind and can very easily be all-consuming.  I know that people say it because they want to help and it is honestly good advice but it’s a little impractical when you have multiple reminders about it daily.

“You’re still young and have plenty of time” – Yes, yes we are but that doesn’t mean that we want to wait and deal with this struggle in 5 or 10 years.  We can easily wait 5 years to try again but nobody knows how long this battle is going to take.  It’s easy to think about when to start the struggle but the vast majority of people don’t think about the unknown duration of the battle and take that into account when thinking about timelines.  We would rather fight this battle now and have plenty of time than wait and feel like our clocks are ticking which would just further the stress.

“You just haven’t been trying long enough yet” – not to be rude or a smartass (well maybe a little bit of a smartass) but the only people who know if we’ve reached out limits are Kate and I.  I am going to venture out on a limb and say that suicidal thoughts due to the medications would be a pretty good limit for a lot of people.  Just as in every aspect of life we all have different thresholds and tolerances.  On the flip side to this I know and understand that it is usually said in the context to be a supportive statement and to help encourage us, I ask though that anyone who reads this thinks twice about how to phrase this type of comment before saying it.  We very much appreciate the encouragement and support but there are other ways to phrase this sentiment.

“You haven’t done enough yet” – Please see above paragraph, multiply it by 2, and remove the thoughts about it being a supportive statement.  If a person has made a conscious decision and stated that they have reached their limit then respect that and know this is just a thing to not say to someone going through this.  Period.  Please respect others decisions and keep in mind that what was easy for one person to do could be devastating for someone else, nobody is the same.  If you can't tell, this statement is my least favorite to hear!

 With all of the above said I just want everyone to know that we really do love and appreciate everything that you all do for us.  Without the support and backing of all our family and friends we would not be even close to the place that we are now and for that I want to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is infertility the new fertility?

Society seems to constantly be making comparisons of the changing times. For example, I've heard countless times that "30 is the new 20" and statements like that. In doing research on fertility, I almost think that infertility is the new fertility. One of the main infertility websites, www.resolve.org recently published the newly updated infertility statistics. Here are a few that Skyler and I found very interesting:

  • 7.4 million women, or 11.9% of women, have ever received any infertility services in their lifetime. (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC)
  • 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC)
  • Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained. (www.asrm.org)
  • A couple ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month (National Women’s Health Resource Center). After six months of trying, 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
  • Approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance. Of those who seek medical intervention, approximately 65% give birth. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
  • Approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). (www.asrm.org)
The statistic that stuck out to me first and foremost was that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant! That is just crazy to me! If it's that high, why aren't there more conversations about it? Why aren't there more places where couples can go for support and education? What I've noticed, though, is when you start to tell people about your infertility, you learn that you most likely know someone who is going through it too. In our case we actually know over 20 different couples who are currently going through infertility, or who have gone through it and conceived or adopted. I know that Skyler and I are not alone in this journey, but it also astounds me that we have so many friends who are going through the same thing, which makes me wonder why are infertility rates going up each year? Why does it seem harder for couples to naturally conceive today than 50 years ago? Was infertility just as big of an issue 50 years ago, but it just wasn't talked about then? What has happened to us?

The statistic that stuck out for Skyler was the last one we have listed; 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures and that fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). Even before we started on all these hormones, Skyler and I both felt that we didn’t want to pursue IVF. We feel as a couple that IVF isn’t right for our family, but know that it definitely works for some people. Skyler was happy to know that the drug treatments that I’ll most likely have to go through actually do have a high success rate.


At this point, I know many of us who have traveled down Infertility Way have heard the common sentiment of, “You’re not alone; so many others are going through this exact thing.” And at times that statement does help, but at other times it also makes me sad for all those that I know and love who are suffering emotionally and physically too. I know when I’m able to talk with my friends about the infertility we are all facing, it does help. And seeing the statistics helps somewhat too. Unlike “30 being the new 20,” though, I wish that infertility wasn’t the new fertility. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fur Baby :)

         Going through all of the emotional ups and downs that are associated with infertility the thing that has helped the most, besides Skyler of course, is our dog Magic. He is my best friend and knows exactly how to raise my spirits no matter what the situation.


          Skyler and I both grew up with dogs and always had them in our lives since we were very young, so when we moved into our first apartment we only lasted a month without one. We went to countless adoption events and saw some amazing dogs, but for one reason or another we weren't able to adopt them. Then one day on petfinder.com I came across these pictures:



And we absolutely fell in love with him! Just look at those eyes! When we went to the animal control center that he was at he was so pitiful. Apparently, Magic had been there for 3 months and no one had come to look at him or even take him out of his cage. He was an owner surrender and we don't think he was abused, but he was definitely neglected. When we took him out to go to the meet and greet area he was very shy, but warmed up to us quickly and we decided to put a 24 hour hold on him. That night we went home and talked it over (our conversation lasted a whole 5 minutes and included us saying how cute he was and how much we wanted him) and the next day we signed the papers to adopt Magic.

         When he first came home with us, it definitely took some adjusting, especially for me. All my life I had primarily outside animals, including dogs. Skyler, on the other hand, had only had inside animals and was used to having an inside dog. So for the first four days we had him, we locked ourselves in our tiny one bedroom apartment with him and loved  on him like crazy. Skyler had to teach him how to be a dog (Magic was definitely NOT leash trained when we got him, and was terrified of dog toys) and he also had to teach me about life with an indoor dog. I'm not going to lie, the first few months were a little rough! Since Skyler was working so much so that I could go to school full time, Magic and I spent a lot of time alone together. We definitely had to learn quickly how to co-exist so that everything would work smoothly.

         Within the first few months of us having Magic, Skyler and I decided that he definitely needed some training classes, and so did we. So every week for 2 months we would go and learn new and different techniques to use with him. Magic is very smart and picked up on his training very fast. We continued to work with him every day and as the months went on I began to think that some day he would become a great therapy dog. Well a couple years passed, I finally graduated from my master's program, and after some trials and tribulations, I ended up at a local hospice as the Bereavement Coordinator. In entering into this field, I learned very quickly how helpful my clients found their own animals, and began to seriously think about how much Magic would be able to help people. After talking it over with my supervisor, I was given the green light to pursue therapy dog training for Magic.

        The process took quite a while, and we both had to go to classes and seminars, but then last September we were able to test and Magic passed with flying colors. Since then, we have been able to meet with patients and clients as a therapy dog team, and use animal assisted therapy to comfort those in their last days. 


Magic has the perfect temperament and always brings a smile to everyone's face. He is the best thing to ever happen to Skyler and I and he lifts our spirits daily.

         In talking with friends and family lately, I've been reminded that all good things take time. All those who know me, know that I am not a very patient person and it is extremely hard for me to "let nature take it's course". But then I think back on Magic's journey with us. We found him at the exact time we were supposed to, he is the perfect dog for our life style, and he brings so much love into our house. I know he will also be a very good big puppy brother, and when the time is right we will have our baby at the exact time we are supposed to. We can't wait to add more love to our family, and I definitely have to thank Magic for teaching me the true meaning of unconditional love.