"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

31 May 2011

Holding Onto Hope

I didn't keep a hope chest, like a lot of my friends did, before I was married.  I didn't want to be presumptuous to think that God would actually fulfill the desire of my heart, to be married.  I felt like I needed to be devoted wholeheartedly to God and that the true test of that would be whether or not I could stand being single the rest of my life.  I feared that if I started saving things for "when I'm married" that I would never be married and then have all of those things to remind me.

This was all from a teenage mind, naive and still getting to know the character and heart of God.  At the time, He was still very much a distant being who was concerned with rules being followed; not so much a being that thought "fun" and "pleasure" were worth anything. I am SO GLAD to know now that I was incredibly mistaken back then!

I bring that up, because tonight I found myself entertaining a question that I have often had come to mind; yet I have always been quick to think of something else because of the thought, "what if God never blesses us with children."

The question, for those of you who are curious, was: "Will I use cloth diapers?" 
Which led to the thoughts: "There is so much research I will need to do! 9 months won't possibly be enough time for me to prepare for motherhood! How can I possibly read all the parenting books and find the ideal products before the baby is born if I get pregnant?!?"

And then the big IF stood out to me.  Both the "if" of the 'it hasn't happened yet', and the bigger IF of InFertility.

I used to pride myself on how great I was with kids and how much I knew about them.  It was pretty ridiculous how prideful I was, actually.  I was definitely one of those people always secretly criticizing parents for their lack of parenting skills, as if I could do a better job.  And this was LONG before I knew we were infertile.  Infertility was one of many tools God used to humble me in that area.

But, I had been keeping kids since I was 12 years old.  I remember helping my mom change my brother's diaper at the young age of 5.  I have always loved kids and loved being around them.  Babysitting wasn't a "job" for me until college, it was always a fun thing I got to do that had the added bonus of giving me spending cash.  It never occurred to me that with as much as I loved kids, with as long and as deeply as I had wanted to be a mother, and with as much experience as I had had with kids, that I would ever struggle with infertility.

Infertility changed me.  Ultimately it has been used to change me for the better.  But initially, it crushed me, and I no longer wanted to be around children.  I enjoyed my nieces and nephews, and looked forward to time with them; somehow being with them gave me hope that I might one day get to have children of my own and that it just wasn't time yet.

But I quit holding children, I quit working with them in Sunday School or the nursery, I quit my teaching job, I quit helping my friends by caring for their kids when they needed a sitter.  In fact, I began to resent the requests.  My thoughts would immediately jump to this place: "They're just asking me because I don't have kids.  They wouldn't ask me if I had kids of my own.  I'm just a convenient free source of childcare for them.  They have no idea how bad it hurts me that I don't have kids yet.  Don't they know it's painful for me to be around kids???  Why would they even ask me?"

Of course, those thoughts were only accurate in one case that I know of, and I quickly ended that "friendship."

I not only began resenting the requests from friends to watch their kids, but I began to be very uncomfortable around children, and I would even say I was downright irritable.  I was like an old person who forgot how to let kids be kids!  I HATED realizing I was that way, yet I couldn't do anything about it, except avoid kids as much as possible, so I did.

Recently, I had a dear friend make the comment to me that I seemed much more comfortable around her kids than I had years ago.  I told her that I was in a much better place in dealing with infertility and that I could actually find joy in the presence of children again.

Still, I have found that my stamina and tolerance levels for some things could use a bit more stretching.

So, I went from being a person who practically existed to work with, love on, and be around children, to being a person who is now a little clumsy, uncertain, and intimidated by the prospect of being around children too long.  What once came as naturally to me as breathing, has now become as foreign to me as walking backwards blindfolded while juggling.  It's as if my inability to have children, indirectly handicapped me in my ability to handle children.

Getting back to the hope chest:  I have two baby items hanging in my closet.  One was to use as a size gauge for a knitting project for my niece (I knit a christening gown for her), and the other one was meant as a gift for a nephew that I never ended up giving before he outgrew it.  I have often debated getting rid of them, simply because I have no way of knowing if God will grant me the privilege of bringing a child into this world, and I wouldn't want to be presumptuous.

But I have never gotten rid of them, because I still hope to be a mom one day.

My husband has purchased two items for me, in hope of us having a child one day.  The first year we stopped using contraceptive, he bought me a cameo pendant of a mother and child that I stumbled upon while organizing the closet.  He was going to surprise me with it when we finally got pregnant (that was seven years ago).  And last year, during the two week wait of our fourth fertility treatment (the one that we almost had to cancel because the doc was certain we'd end up with twins if not triplets and she was uncomfortable with that), he bought me a knitting book of patterns for dolls and stuffed animals for children. When he gave me that one, he told me that whether it worked that time or not, one day we would have children.  That gift is a treasure to me.  It represents genuine hope.

While I may not have a physical "hope chest" for our future child, my heart and my husband's heart fill that role. 

It is difficult, when every attempt prior to the current one has failed, to hold onto hope.  It's no longer something you feel like clinging to, rather it seems to be a bitter pill to swallow, a tease; for when you truly hope for something, you honestly expect it to BE!  Eventually, as that hope rises and swells in your heart, you begin to counter it with logic and almost a type of hatred and anger that it would even dare show it's face again, in an effort to guard your heart.  Our wounded hearts.  And they are wounded, and often weary.

Tomorrow morning I am supposed to call the nurse to find out if we are still on for the scheduled transfer of two embryos back into what I hope will be their home for the next nine months.
There is a very real possibility that she will say, "No, we are moving it to Friday," or "No, sadly none of the embryos survived."  But there's also a possibility just as real that she will say, "Yes!  We'll see you at 11:30."
There is a very real possibility that after the transfer I will still have a barren and empty womb, and a deeper chasm in my heart than I've ever felt before.  But there's also a possibility just as real that one or both of those embryos will nestle in for the long haul and make their appearance on this earth sometime around my birthday.

We are excited!  And we are also very much aware of the risks.  Allowing ourselves to hope has been difficult, but it has made this part of the journey a lot of fun.

I don't regret that I never kept a hope chest for marriage.  Our needs were met and we did fine with what we were given by others.  I doubt I will regret not keeping a hope chest for our children.  We will make it work and I'll be like every other parent in the world, and just do the best that I can.  

Sometimes I think, "I, of all people, should be abundantly prepared for children when they come because I've been given seven years to prepare, yet here I am, just as clueless and uninformed as ever because I didn't seize the opportunity!  What was I thinking?!"

And then I remind myself that I've been being prepared, my husband and I both have been being prepared, to parent throughout this entire journey in ways many parents will never be.  As painful as these years have been, they have also been a strange, strange gift.  Not one I would have ever asked for, but one I have accepted and have hopefully grown from.

We'll see what tomorrow holds.  And then the next day, we'll see what else is there.  But tonight, I'm going to hold onto hope, even though it seems like it should be against my better judgement.

May you be blessed, my friends, and may hope be a constant companion to your hearts.

IVF Unknowns

Life is full of unknowns.  We live with them on a minute to minute basis.  They're such an integral part of our existence that it's almost surprising when we become overwhelmed or concerned about the unknown.

When my husband and I embarked on this journey toward In Vitro Fertilization, there was very little about it that I knew.  
  • I knew it was expensive
  • I knew it was invasive
  • I knew it involved a lot of shots, medications, clinic visits, and sonograms
  • I knew it was our best shot at getting pregnant (since nothing else had worked)
  • I knew there were no guarantees

Enter the Unknowns.

True to human form, I like knowing that if I put money toward something then I will receive something expected in return.  (If I give the grocer money, I get groceries; If I give a real estate agent money, I get a house...you get the idea.)

The procedures leading up to this point along our bigger journey through infertility had required money, but not the kind of money a person could give a car dealership and come home with a new car!

Needless to say, the Unknown of what would result from our attempts at IVF was very daunting, indeed.  I am not really a gambler, and not a huge risk taker.  Yet here I was, embarking on what seemed to me the biggest gamble of a lifetime.

Little did I know that all the other IVF Unknowns would begin sneering at me as we moved forward through this procedure.

If a person has undergone either an IUI or a Timed Intercourse with Ovarian Hyperstimulation procedure that required the use of stimulation medications rather than chlomid, then they are somewhat prepared for the prep work required for IVF.  If not, then there's the first little Unknown.

Thankfully, my husband and I had done the stim shots for two prior procedures, so I wasn't daunted by the shots I had to take.

What I hadn't experienced was how the amount of medication injected (WAY more than for IUI or Timed Intercourse) would cause bruising, making it difficult to find suitable injection sites toward the end of the cycle.  I also had not experienced my ovaries expanding to the point of making it painful to walk, sit, pee, laugh, and much more, because with IUI (and the like), you want to see significantly fewer follicles formed than with IVF.  In fact, if too many are formed with IUI, it can be cause for canceling that cycle.

Other Unknowns:
  • How many follicles would we get
  • How many of those follicles would have eggs
  • How many of those eggs would be mature
  • Will we be candidates for ICSI
  • How many eggs will fertilize
  • How many embryos will keep growing
  • Will we have a day 3 or day 5 transfer
  • How many embryos will we get to transfer
  • Will the embryos "stick"
  • Will we stay pregnant
  • Will we have a child
  • Will we have any embryos to freeze
  • Will we have to start all over
Insignificant Unknowns (but on my mind, just the same)
  • What should I wear to the egg retrieval
  • Where will they put the IV
  • How long will I have to have the IV
  • How bad will the IV make me feel (in case you can't tell, I've had bad IV experiences)
  • Will I be super cold before and after surgery (I hate being cold)
  • How much pain will I be in
  • What will the pain feel like
  • When will the pain go away
  • Will I be nauseous afterward
  • Will the pain meds make me want to puke since they have codeine in them
  • Is it really worth it if we don't become pregnant
  • How much activity is acceptable after transfer
  • Does pineapple core really help implantation
I now have answers to some of these unknowns.
We endured (and survived) egg retrieval and we're scheduled for transfer at 11:30 tomorrow morning (Wednesday, June 1st).  But we still don't know how many embryos are still growing and will be candidates for transfer and cryopreservation.  We still don't know if the transfer will take place on Wednesday or if it will be moved to Friday.  We still don't know if the embryo(s) will "stick" and grow and be born healthy and thrive.

The interesting thing about this journey through infertility is that while it can break you, it can also make you stronger.

Yes, there are thousands of unknowns we face each step of this journey, but in the grand scheme of things, there are truly millions of unknowns we face each day of our lives as humans.  We just don't think about them.

So, in light of what I do not know, I am choosing to focus on what I do know.  This is where my husband's and my faith comes into play.  Our faith is not just something that "gets us through" when we find we're in a rough patch or need a little extra help from a higher power.  Our faith is an integral part of who we are.  I put it this way to a friend who asked about our faith:
"Faith doesn't just play a part in our journey, it is the undercurrent of our existence and our journey through infertility plays a part in our faith."
My husband and I are choosing to focus on the things we hold as truths in our faith.  These truths bring us great comfort and peace and keep my mind from swirling around and around in circles of despair over the sneering Unknowns.

If you have questions about the IVF process, our experiences as we walked through it, and even our faith, please feel free to ask :-)  I'd be happy to share anything I can to make your journey, or even your potential journey, less stressful and more restful.


23 May 2011

Julia Lynn vs. The World!

Today I got mad at a pregnant lady.  Simply because she was pregnant.

It was a very surreal experience, actually.

Here's what happened:

I guess you could say the day started off on the wrong foot...

My husband and I had a very early morning that involved a long drive, lab work, and a lot of waiting between the lab work and our scheduled ultra sound appointment.

All was going well, but we were both extremely tired, and I had my perpetual headache wearing me down.

We had a good report with lots of follicles growing at an excellent rate.  My husband chatted with the doc about when our retrieval would be, based on our progress, while I sat with an increasingly painful headache and tender ovaries, suddenly aware of how quickly this cycle has passed.  

I'm not sure why, but yesterday I started getting nervous about today's appointment.  Then today, after the appointment, I started getting nervous about this cycle as a whole.  Not nervous in the giddily excited kind of way, but nervous in the dreading the possible negative outcome sort of way.  (I'm thinking the constant pain in my head and the extreme hormone levels in my body are leading players in the cause of my negativity.)

After our appointment, I convince my husband that, in spite of my headache and tender/painful ovaries, it's a good idea to go to IKEA as planned to shop for bookshelves.

There I am, in IKEA, minding my own business, pumped full of hormones, with a full-blown headache in an over-crowded IKEA store (note to self: don't go to IKEA on a Sunday), when out of the corner of my eye I see a cute young couple looking at desks right alongside us as I am giving my husband a tour of the store.

I noticed them, but was about to dismiss them from my thoughts when all of a sudden, as casually as if she was brushing hair from her face, the beautiful young woman, who was wearing a gypsy-style sun dress, reached her slender hands down to her waist, cupping her belly gently in her arms to reveal that she was pregnant.  I was instantly incensed.

If you have ever seen the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, then you'll be able to visualize and understand what this experience was like for me.  If you haven't seen it, imagine that reality at that moment was transformed into an exaggerated, cartoonish video-game for a moment, in which all reason is abandoned and the surreal becomes reality.

In that moment, it was as if I had been blindsided and punched in the face by an evil pregnant ninja who had been hiding her pregnancy, waiting for an unsuspecting infertile couple to pass by so she could beat them down in a surprise attack.  I had meandered through IKEA, dodging extremely pregnant women, unscathed by their pregnant beauty because I could see them coming a mile away, so I was prepared to encounter them.  But this ninja woman came out of nowhere!
It was as if (in my surreal world) she had shouted in a sinister tone, "HA, ha Haa! I'm PREGNANT!  Take THAT!"  and then punched me in the face.  I would have verbalized my feelings of anger in that moment with, "You haven't EARNED the RIGHT to display your pregnant belly yet!  You're not even past your first trimester!  There is no cupping of the belly allowed near infertiles in your first trimester!  You're not allowed to show off yet!!!"

Now, seriously, I don't really BELIEVE that statement.  I guarantee you that if this IVF works for us and God blesses us with pregnancy, I will be cupping my belly with and without thinking probably every moment of every day!  I've been longing for that privilege my entire life!  I'm not going to waste one second of it!

And I know this woman had no ill will.  She probably didn't even see we were anywhere near her, and she certainly didn't know we are infertile and nearing the end of our first attempt at IVF even if she did see us.

Yet I was angry at her.  I was angry she was young and pregnant.  I was angry she was beautiful and pregnant.  I was angry she was beside me and pregnant.  I was angry to be surprised that she was pregnant.  I was angry she was pregnant.

I wish I could say that I learned some deep life lesson from this experience.  My headache is still pretty bad, and I've found that I don't think clearly with a Lupron-induced headache.  Perhaps the lesson will come later.

I can say that this experience brought to my attention just how fearful I am that this is not going to work; that all of this effort, all of these shots, all of the bruises, the headaches, the long trips back and forth to the fertility clinic, will be for nothing.

It's easy to be excited and hopeful about something that is a given.  If you're moving to a new place, you know when and where; if you have a new job, you know what you'll be doing; if you're going on a trip or buying something new, you have the money set aside and an action plan; you can count on having a product from your effort.

But here we are, investing time, money, heart, soul, mind and strength into something that produces a lot of pain up front, and has no guarantees that there will be anything that comes from it, aside from more pain and less money.

The difference for us, I suppose, is that my husband and I have a guarantee that regardless of the outcome (pregnancy, pregnancy loss, or lack of pregnancy), we know that God will work it out for our good and his glory.  And that, my friends, is something to cling to, something to hope in.

To recap:
  • If you haven't seen Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, watch it, just for fun.  It's weird, but good.
  • If you've ever had a crazy moment of anger directed at a pregnant perfect stranger simply because she was perfectly pregnant (and surprise-attacked you), know that you're not alone.
  • If you've been disappointed in the results of past attempts at treatment and find it difficult to live in the moment and get excited about the next treatment, know that that's completely understandable and you're not alone in that either.
  • My only true hope comes from the fact that I have a relationship with the God of the universe, and that is bigger than all of my worries combined.  If you don't know Him, He's actually much more approachable than He may seem ;-)
  • Finally, even though I know Him, I'm far, far, FAR from perfect, and He knows that and loves me anyway because it's truly all about Him and what He's done for me, not at all about what I have or can do for Him.
It's not my goal to preach at you.  Really I'm just reflecting and sharing my thoughts.  Just know that I care deeply for and hope great things for you!

If you are the praying type, I'd appreciate prayer that I'll be able to enjoy these moments and be excited about God's plan for us, whatever it may be.  Also, that I will be nice to people.  It's a difficult thing for me when I don't have headaches and hormones galore, so lately it's been well near impossible.

Thanks for enduring my long post!  Feel free to comment!  And go watch that movie!!! ;-)

16 May 2011

Three Myths and a Pushy Lady

Of the many activities that fill my days, one involves getting together weekly with a large group of women from various different backgrounds and denominations, studying the bible together after we break into smaller groups.  I very much enjoy this time and often choose to be vulnerable with my smaller group to promote community and encourage others to share their hearts.

Every time I choose to be vulnerable, no matter the setting, I am aware that there is risk involved.  I assent to the fact that I am essentially opening myself up to receive criticism, unrequested advice, judgement, etcetera.  But I often feel the benefit outweighs the risks, especially if there's a chance others can be encouraged by what I share.

I had mentioned our infertility several times while sharing in my group, but it was never the crux of what I was sharing, so no one had yet offered any "helpful" advice to "fix" my problem of infertility.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, one of the questions of the lesson was along the lines of, "How has God shown His faithfulness to you this week?"    

I shared briefly how the details had fallen into place for my husband and I to be able to attempt an IVF treatment before he had to deploy and that the expense was cut in half.  I was pretty excited about what I perceive as God's faithfulness and provision for us in that regard, so I did not hesitate to share (and I'd gladly do it again).

We continued discussing the questions from the week and then dismissed to go to the main lecture with all the other smaller groups.

Now, in the course of these last seven years, my husband and I have heard a lot of well-intended advice and counsel regarding our infertility.  MUCH of it has been from well-meaning, church-going friends or acquaintances.  And women, stereotypically, tend to feel compelled more often than not to share their two cents on any given subject, specifically emotionally heavy ones.  

So I don't know why I expected to get out of that room without hearing from anyone on their perspective of why God has me where I am and how I can get out of it.  Perhaps it's because by this point in the study we are all supposed to be well-rehearsed in discerning appropriate times and appropriate ways to respond when someone has been vulnerable.  (By the way, when God has me in a specific place for a specific reason, I want to be where he has me, not try to get out of it.  I don't know why people insist on trying to "rescue" me from the hand of God! ~Just sayin')

It's fitting (in my opinion) and rather comical that during the week of busting myths about infertility I would encounter in ONE conversation THREE myths that are commonly thrust upon infertile couples.  I wish I could say that I was quick on my feet and busted those myths then and there, but I didn't.  I was shocked that all three myths were spoken in almost the same breath; I only had two minutes to respond before needing to be at the lecture; and I didn't feel it was the appropriate setting to essentially be rude in my response (which is what I would have been without enough time to calm down).

As we were returning our chairs to where they belong, a lovely young pastor's wife (who had approached me with inappropriate "let-me-speak-into-your-life-without-you-asking-me-to" comments before) came purposely toward me and gushed forth a story of how she and her husband had been infertile and had been told they would never be able to have children.  She shared how her physician instructed her to throw away all her charts and books and quit trying for one month and pray about whether they wanted to pursue the treatments they tried to schedule (which sounded very unlike any physician I've ever encountered).  

I'm sure you can guess where this is going.  Yep!  Myth #1, and the point of the first part of her story, was "relax, stop trying, and you'll get pregnant."  Not a direct quote from her, but it was implied in her story.

Sure enough, "miraculously" the week before their scheduled fertility treatment, they found out they were pregnant with the first of their three children. (Um, did I mention she's much younger than me?)

When I tried to interject, she held up her hand, closed her eyes, smiled a huge smile while shaking her head a bit, and almost without breathing continued with her extremely important words of...comfort? encouragement? healing?

She proceeded to tell me about how, if relaxing and waiting doesn't work that "adoption is always an" (altogether now) "option," and that she and her husband had looked into foster care which is also available and that if I needed any information they had done a lot of research that she'd be happy to share with me if I was interested (she still hadn't really taken a breath, it seemed, at this point).

That's right, folks!  Myth #2 of her monologue was "adoption is always an option," implying that it will somehow cure me of my infertility, or at the very least solve the apparent problem of my not having children.  (I always marvel that people bring up adoption to infertile couples as if it's the newest thing ever invented and they'll be the first to share the news that it's an actual thing that exists.)

At this point, I was irritated because 1) I do not have a deep relationship with this woman and yet it is the second time she has felt compelled beyond control to share her own "wisdom" and "insight" into a situation of which she had very limited information, and 2) I had not invited her to share her "solutions" with me.

So, when she mentioned the research that she and her husband had done regarding foster care and adoption, I interrupted her, curtly, and let her know that my husband and I had done quite a bit of research in the seven years of our nine years of marriage that we've known we were infertile.

Which brings us to Myth #3 of this woman's story.  When she found out we've been dealing with infertility for seven years, she was visibly taken aback and said, "Oh!  Well, I guess God knows that some people can handle much more than others!  Seven years is a long time!  We only had to wait one year!"

Yes, the 3rd myth brought up in the five minute conversation with this woman is that infertility is being unable to get pregnant in the time frame you want.  She was never truly infertile!  She hadn't, for her age bracket, even made it to the point of time it takes for a doctor to diagnose someone as infertile!  I don't know all the details of her story, just as she didn't know mine, but I sure would like to know why any doctor would have told her prior to a year of trying that she would never be able to have children.  My suspicion is that she heard things that were not spoken, or else that she threw that information into her story in order to add more drama or credibility.

I can laugh about this now, and fully intended to post it during the NIAW Bust a Myth campaign.  But for a moment, living through this scenario shortly before Mother's Day with an IVF and my husband's deployment looming before me, was more painful than I would have expected.

A friend of mine recently shared with me that of the many infertile women she's known, none of them were able to talk openly about their struggle until it was finally resolved.  She told me that to encourage me, because she's often surprised at how freely I speak about our struggle.  It was very encouraging.  It's worth it to me, no matter how painful situations like the one I described above are; it's worth it to me to endure temporary pain in hope of the possibility of offering comfort to others who have truly experienced this journey.  

There is also the hope that others, like the woman described above, who genuinely have no clue, will somehow have their eyes opened to reality and learn what it is to truly weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

May your opportunities to share your experiences bring you comfort, encouragement, and peace, and may you have strength in the moments you need it most!


03 May 2011

Catching Up and Dishing on the Fertility Nazi

Wow!  It's been a while!  It was never my intent to skip an entire month of posting.  And I had plans to post during National Infertility Awareness Week, yet didn't.  Life has a way of getting in the way, doesn't it? 

I thought about kicking myself for not posting for NIAW, but have realized that the point of this blog is to educate people, not to mention the fact that I verbally spread the word throughout the week.  I AM kicking myself for missing out on the opportunity to buy an awesome shirt from an amazing woman for the purpose of raising funds for Resolve.  My understanding is that it was a successful fundraiser, and I'm sad I let the days slip by without participating.  You really need to check out her blog!

I decided before I jump back into routinely posting, I should tie up a few loose ends and catch you up on recent developments.

After my last post, I received many kind thoughts and comments and want to say, THANK YOU, to those who were concerned for me and who reached out to encourage me in various ways.  I am grateful for your support.  My husband did, in fact, get to reestablish communication with me and was able to return home several days later.  My sanity stayed in tact and his return was a welcomed relief as he has been here to help shoulder the many "burdens" that have been popping up left and right.

I would like to address here the issue of the lovely FN.  There was one woman empowered by the military to be a liaison between military patients and the military fertility clinic nearby.  Her role is to make sure everything is in order as far as testing and lab work before sending a patient on to be seen at the fertility clinic.  She also happens to be a retired military Colonel, and she is every ounce the stereotypical flint-faced, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, weathered and terse female Colonel.  I think a male Colonel would have been more sympathetic.

In the civilian world, a patient typically gets a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), makes and keeps an appointment with them, and starts down the long, arduous road to attempted reproduction.  In the military, when asking to be seen by military specialists rather than civilian, it's a very different story.  We had no idea how different.

When I first saw the FN, she basically indicated to me that she did not believe I was infertile enough to be seen by a specialist, or that I have PCOS.  She told me to maintain a particular diet (which I had been adhering to faithfully for a year already), to gain 30 pounds, to exercise more than the three days a week I already devoted hours to, and to have a barrage of repeat tests run.  Then, after a few months of all of that, she would see if perhaps there was something wrong enough with me to send me on to the military RE.

That appointment was by myself, while my husband was thousands of miles away in training.  We had a time constraint, and I had just witnessed my hope of having an IVF before my husband deployed come crashing down before my eyes.  There were other stressors I was dealing with on top of all of this, so I had a moment and a half when I finally made it to my car.

She had not wanted to see my medical records.  She had questioned my confirmed diagnosis of PCOS given by a physician (she happens to be a Nurse Practitioner, not a physician).  She didn't believe me when I affirmed that I already strictly adhered to the diet she laid out for me.  She insulted not only my intelligence, but also the intelligence of those who work under her.  She assumed that because I do not work that I am also uneducated.  She interrupted me when I tried to answer her questions and also when I tried to ask them.  Her every movement and tone of voice indicated to me that she really didn't have time for me.  She was condescending and haughty.  I did not know how on earth I was going to be able to continue dealing with her through an entire IVF process if I were even given the opportunity.

I had determined that the next time I saw her that my husband would be with me and that I would address the issues I had with her.

The day I "got" to see her again (oh, joy!), was also the day I got the call that the referral we had gone behind her back to submit was denied.  We had been rejected as unsuitable for IVF because of "not enough information" according to the note written by the doctor.  We had submitted all the information requested by the clinic, which I had triple checked with the people at the clinic to make sure we included everything.  (Seriously, does seven years mean nothing to these supposed infertility specialists???)

My husband went with me to the appointment and we had a game plan.  If she said we needed yet more testing, he was going to tell her that we were not going to waste any more of her time (because clearly she had been wasting ours).  It had been over a month since I first set up an appointment with my PCM to get a referral for infertility.  I still hadn't been given that after three appointments!

The FN was a much different person in the presence of my husband (which I had expected) and even managed to show some sensitivity when I started crying in her office.  She also had some surprising things to say, one of which was that she wasn't at all concerned about my weight...what!?!  I had only gained one pound since seeing her, not the 30 she had requested.  She told us that we needed more testing, which caused me to falter, and then she said that we could decline testing at any time...what!?!  That was not what she had indicated to me initially.  My husband told her that he didn't see why we should waste any more of her time and that we would be leaving because we didn't have time to wait for more testing.  She said she could submit the referral for us the way it was and that the chance was slim, but still possible, that we would be able to get in a treatment before he deployed.  I'd like to know where her sense of urgency and hurry was the month before when I had initially gone in to see her!!!

We left with the realization that the only sure way we'd get in an IVF before my husband's deployment was by going to a civilian RE.  So, I called the RE we had used here for our first two treatments to set up an appointment.  He didn't have an available appointment until the middle of May!  I called another clinic several hours away referred by a friend and they had an appointment within a week, they accepted our insurance (which doesn't cover IVF), but they were going to charge us for having to address any questions my husband had about his involvement if he went with me to the appointments.  Not the greatest incentive for having my support system with me at the appointments.  

We called one other place a little closer to home and they had an appointment available in two days because of a cancellation.  I was ecstatic!  I asked how much IVF costs through them and also if they accept our insurance.  The cost was not unreasonable, but they did not accept our insurance.  When they confirmed, however, that my husband is active duty military, I was told that they offer a 50% discount for active duty military!  Again, I was ecstatic!  That meant that the cost of the procedure was only going to be one to two thousand dollars more through them than it would have been through the military.  AND, these people want my business, meaning I will be treated like a person rather than an identification number.

So, we made and kept an appointment with that fertility clinic.  We LOVED the doctor from the start and were elated that we didn't have to beg and plead to go straight to IVF.  He was on board with us and even gave us insight into why the other procedures had likely failed for us, given our history.  He also told us that we should be able to get one IVF in before the deployment (provided my ovaries and follicles cooperate), and that if it is unsuccessful, we will be able to freeze and use my husbands "samples" while he's away.

I have been on the birth control pill to prepare for the upcoming IVF for the last two and a half weeks, and I go in for the kick-off ultrasound this Thursday.  We have a timeline in hand and we're praying for my ovaries and follicles to cooperate and respond well to the medication.  Today I am waiting for the medication to be delivered, and these last two weeks my husband and I have been filled with eager anticipation and cautious optimism.

We have informed family and our close friends and are asking for prayers from all.

The irony is, I received a phone call about a week ago from the military fertility clinic indicating that I had been accepted into the program and that I needed to set up an appointment.  We set up an appointment (we had been instructed that even if we were seeing a civilian RE that we should make and keep the appointment with the military clinic if given the opportunity), but are fairly certain when they hear of the deployment we will be put on a waiting list until he gets back.  It's a back-up plan, of sorts, I suppose. My husband was pondering aloud that they seemed to be quick to accept us this time, with little extra information than they had the first time.  I told him that it seems to me they are in the habit of denying anyone that comes across their desk without this woman's name on their form.  It's sad to me that they rely so heavily on her, especially considering she probably makes a lot of people cry.

Thanks for bearing with me through my absence from blogging, and the length of this post.  I hope that this has answered any questions you may have had regarding the FN and our status with IVF.  Feel free to ask any questions I have not answered, or any questions that have come up as you have read this post.

Thanks again for your support and for sticking with me through my absence!

"...Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24b-25