Funny Girls of Fertility

34th Street

Sharon
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     Because who doesn't love a good ol' Christmas miracle?  This patient really restored my faith in the fact that even when things aren't looking so hot, something positive can still prevail.....    We had a patient who recently called and told us that she had gotten an at home positive.  She had previously experienced quite a few miscarriages, and wanted us to monitor her more closely than a "normal" pregnancy.  She came in for her first blood work, and her HCG was extremely low (like less than 10).  After getting dates from her last cycle we figured it wasn't looking good.  She came in a few days later, and the rise was complete crap.  We told her signs to look for in an ectopic pregnancy, and continued to monitor her through blood work.        After monitoring her levels for a couple weeks the doctor brought her in for her first ultrasound to see if there was even anything to see!  When she came for her appointment, we could see a tiny, tiny little spot in her uterus, and I mean TINY.  Her HCG level still wasn't rising appropriately, and her progesterone level was complete shit.  When you see this stuff every single day, you just kind of know when it isn't going to work.    Even if it wasn't an ideal level, she still had a level, and we knew it was an IUP (even though it was microscopic) so we kept on supplementing her with medication.  The next week she came back in for blood work and ultrasound.  Her levels were still below par, and her ultrasound looked awful.  Yet we didn't give up, and she was still motivated to keep on truckin'.      She came in a week later (yeah, I know by this point you think we would have an 8-week old fetus in there) the sac was a little bit bigger, and if you squinted your eyes and looked 90 degrees to the left you could see what kind of looked like a fetal pole that had the tiniest little flicker.  At this point, if you're thinking what the shit, you're not alone.   Her progesterone and estrogen were super crappy this whole time (for those of you who are always worrying about your numbers, keep on reading).      The next week we were approaching what should have been about 10 weeks from her LMP. What do you know, there was an actual fetus (that somehow grew at an astronomical rate), a great heart rate, and her labs came back with her progesterone, estrogen, and HCG levels off the charts.  I think her baby was saying, "I have a mother F'ing purpose in this world."    Obstacles are put in our way to see if what we want is worth fighting for (and boy did this mom keep fighting).  Now she is off to her OB, like we didn't just go through the most exhausting 12 plus weeks EVER.    There are a few things in life I feel this way about currently. When everything is going against me, when it seems like nothing can go right, I just dig a little deeper.  The path is already set for me, and I just have to trust that the obstacles in my way are here to help me continue to grow into a compassionate, understanding, patient person (because Lord knows I am still in need of some damn patience). 

Because who doesn't love a good ol' Christmas miracle?  This patient really restored my faith in the fact that even when things aren't looking so hot, something positive can still prevail.....

We had a patient who recently called and told us that she had gotten an at home positive.  She had previously experienced quite a few miscarriages, and wanted us to monitor her more closely than a "normal" pregnancy.  She came in for her first blood work, and her HCG was extremely low (like less than 10).  After getting dates from her last cycle we figured it wasn't looking good.  She came in a few days later, and the rise was complete crap.  We told her signs to look for in an ectopic pregnancy, and continued to monitor her through blood work.  

  After monitoring her levels for a couple weeks the doctor brought her in for her first ultrasound to see if there was even anything to see!  When she came for her appointment, we could see a tiny, tiny little spot in her uterus, and I mean TINY.  Her HCG level still wasn't rising appropriately, and her progesterone level was complete shit.  When you see this stuff every single day, you just kind of know when it isn't going to work.

Even if it wasn't an ideal level, she still had a level, and we knew it was an IUP (even though it was microscopic) so we kept on supplementing her with medication.  The next week she came back in for blood work and ultrasound.  Her levels were still below par, and her ultrasound looked awful.  Yet we didn't give up, and she was still motivated to keep on truckin'.

  She came in a week later (yeah, I know by this point you think we would have an 8-week old fetus in there) the sac was a little bit bigger, and if you squinted your eyes and looked 90 degrees to the left you could see what kind of looked like a fetal pole that had the tiniest little flicker.  At this point, if you're thinking what the shit, you're not alone.   Her progesterone and estrogen were super crappy this whole time (for those of you who are always worrying about your numbers, keep on reading).  

The next week we were approaching what should have been about 10 weeks from her LMP. What do you know, there was an actual fetus (that somehow grew at an astronomical rate), a great heart rate, and her labs came back with her progesterone, estrogen, and HCG levels off the charts.  I think her baby was saying, "I have a mother F'ing purpose in this world."

Obstacles are put in our way to see if what we want is worth fighting for (and boy did this mom keep fighting).  Now she is off to her OB, like we didn't just go through the most exhausting 12 plus weeks EVER.

There are a few things in life I feel this way about currently. When everything is going against me, when it seems like nothing can go right, I just dig a little deeper.  The path is already set for me, and I just have to trust that the obstacles in my way are here to help me continue to grow into a compassionate, understanding, patient person (because Lord knows I am still in need of some damn patience). 

Picture Perfect

Sharon

This one is going to hurt a little bit y'all, but I think it's time.

Something I've realized more often than not is how embarrassed a lot of women are for having to go through fertility treatments.  I can't count how many people have told me they don't confide in anyone about what they are dealing with.  Seeing friends, family members, coworkers getting pregnant in a hot second knowing that they have struggled for a while is hard, but putting on a happy face like it doesn't bother you is even more of a challenge.

I've been one of those people to put on a happy face to keep up my picture perfect image.  I can tell you, I'm full of shit.  Someone I've grown very close to has taught me a lot about being vulnerable, and this is going to push me to my limits.  Here we go....

I was 21 when I graduated from Oklahoma State (Go Pokes), and got my first job in the oil industry.  I met someone at work who I ended up marrying a couple of years later.  I had this image in my head of just how my life was going to work out.  I thought everything was perfect; we were great friends (we still are friends), we traveled, we had fun.  My happily ever after came to a f'ing dead end when he became unfaithful.  The shame I felt was unfathomable.  I wanted to keep us in a bubble, I didn't want anyone to know what had happened.  I didn't want anyone to think he was a bad person (because he isn't, stupid 100%, but not a bad person).  I kept a happy face for a while even though I was suffering miserably on the inside.  I didn't want to be a failure, and I was ashamed that I couldn't make it work.  I was another dang statistic.  If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would see myself where I am today I would 100% say, not a chance.  I wanted to be married once, and that one time was supposed to be forever.  Well you know what, life sure as hell doesn't work out exactly how you want.

Four years later here I am.  I'm different now then I was.  My exterior is a little tougher, but my insides are still all sensitive.  I open up much slower.  I am way more cautious than I use to be.  The positive is I'm not ashamed anymore (note that it took me about 3.5 years to get to this point).  I'm not afraid for people to know what happened to me or judge my situation.  People make mistakes, shit happens.  This was meant to happen to me for a reason that is way beyond me, and I'm okay.  I'm actually better than okay.  That nightmare that I went through got me to where I am today.  I can say I am genuinely happy.   I feel like I'm finally exactly where I'm supposed to be, and that is a pretty freaking amazing feeling.

Enough of my sob story and back to how this relates to what I see every day.  I know it's not fun putting your business out there, but it's also not fun faking the funk.  Trust me, I've gone back and forth about sharing what I've been through, but I grew a pair and did it.  Infertility is not anything to be ashamed of, it's not like you woke up and chose this life because no one in their right mind would go through that shit.  I guess my point is you never know who you could help by sharing your story, and for those of you who bravely put it out there, kudos to y'all.

Begin to Live

Sharon

 

I had a patient recently who went off the deep end.  I don't even think saying she lost her shit would be an accurate description of what a downward spiral she took.  I'll explain...

She went through IVF a few years ago, and has a happy, healthy child.  With a few frozen embryos left, her and her husband decided to come back to try again.  Fortunately, she was successful the first go round, but this is also when rationality flew (catapulted) out the damn window.

  This lady went from being a normal, happy, seemingly well-adjusted adult to just about bat shit crazy.  When she comes in she is physically shaking, she gets herself so worked up about what each appointment is going to bring.  She has expressed how she slightly neglects her parenting responsibilities because she is so busy Googling every symptom (or lack of symptoms) she has. Every appointment when I think we've made a little headway; she comes back in a few days later convinced something is wrong.   Her fear is so consuming that she has lost herself in the process.

When I saw her have a full on breakdown; I felt her pain, her fear, her trepidations about this entire process.  This patient's biggest fear (like most dealing with infertility) is loss.

I think a lot of people can empathize with the fear of loss. Maybe you've gone through hell in life, maybe life has kicked you in the proverbial nuts a few times.  When you have something you've always wanted or get to a point in life that seems too good to be true, you can drive yourself crazy worrying about it going back to being crap. 

 I'm currently in Unicorn Land, legitimately.  I feel extremely fortunate in life, and somehow it keeps getting better.  Does it scare the bejesus out of me?!  Hell to the yes.  When I saw this patient I felt like it was a mirror of my recent self.  Instead of just enjoying how great life is right now, I'm already having fear of it going wrong.  How irrational is that?!?!  This patient is doing the exact same thing.  She isn't enjoying her pregnancy.  She went through IVF and all sorts of crap to get to this point, and she is freaking MISERABLE.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." - Dorothy Thompson

Good ol' Dorothy is on to something here.  You can't control the outcome of a lot of things in life so why expend energy trying to do the impossible.  When you are obsessing over something going wrong, you aren't only driving yourself crazy, but you are 100% not living.  Trust in God's will, and have faith that things will work out in the end.

The Wait

Sharon

One thing I know is that I DESPISE waiting.  I dislike waiting at restaurants, in traffic, for stoplights to turn green, for people to get off an airplane, waiting to get to see someone who's important to me.  I guess you can say I am a tiny bit impatient.  Waiting in general sucks, so I can't even imagine how bad the two week wait is, as well as everything else you have to wait for during fertility treatments.  When you want something THAT badly, the wait makes it almost unbearable.

My good friend whom I wrote about not too long ago is currently enduring her two week wait.  She's text me a couple times to ask questions that I get from patients regularly.  It's funny hearing them come from her because it makes it even more apparent how ladies going through infertility share a lot of the same fears!  I'll share a couple of things she asked......

-Is it weird if I have no symptoms?  No, not at all.

-Is it weird if I do have symptoms? No, not at all either :)  This is where it can get a little confusing.  EVERYONE is different, that's why I stress comparison is the thief of joy.  I swear, some women come in and feel absolutely nothing and their first beta is off the charts.  On the other hand, some women come in with cramping and bleeding thinking it didn't work, and their betas are also high!

"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we're waiting for." - Charles Stanley

I have to remind myself of this quote when I'm sitting twiddling my thumbs wondering if time could go by any dang slower. It's so true, things that are worth it, you WILL wait for.  In this generation instant gratification is so common, I think people forget that anything that is worth a shit takes time. Think about how much time you have probably wasted wishing time away to get to the moment you've been waiting for....

I remember when I was 13, wishing I was 16 so I could drive.

When I was 16, wishing I was 18 so I could go to college.

When I was 18, wishing I was 21 so I could buy a beer!

When I was 21, wishing I was out of college to get a "real job".

Now at 32, I'm wishing I would have enjoyed every day a little more.

I'm trying to remind myself to live and enjoy the present moment.  Sometimes what's in the future looks so much more promising that we want to fast forward, and that is SUCH a waste of life.  So whatever you are waiting for be it a beta day, a job, a relationship, or hell just waiting for those slow assholes to get off the airplane (did I mention I dislike that :))  enjoy the moment, and know that the wait you endured will help you to appreciate what you've been waiting for more than you could have ever imagined! 

The "V" Card

Sharon

 

"Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure." - Bob Marley

I ain't talking about virginity, y'all.  Ladies dealing with infertility can be some tough ass mother F'ers, if I'm being frank.  I get it, you have to build up some kind of defense mechanism to deal with this shit.  I did make a shirt that says, "Ain't for the Weak" because it's the truth.  Dealing with infertility means being vulnerable.  Vulnerable in the fact you are susceptible to a good amount of heartache because nothing is guaranteed.

Recently, I had a patient who is as tough as nails (like a good majority of them are).  She had a poor response to her IVF treatment, and ended up with one embryo.  Of course she was nervous to start the FET process knowing she only had one chance for this to work. She did end up getting pregnant, and everything looked great.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a happy ending with this one.  She had a miscarriage at 8 weeks.

After taking a little time off, she's back and starting from scratch.  Her attitude is one for the books.  We tried to help her out as much as we could by giving her donated medication because the girl has been through a tremendous amount.  Here we are thinking, "She is going to be ecstatic. Pat on the back for us. Go team."  Instead she complained about the damn bag we put the medication in because it had our logo on it, wah wah wah.

This is where my empathy had to kick in.  Instead of thinking wow, she is an ungrateful bitty, I made myself look at this situation from her shoes.  This girl (who is close to my age) has been through more than I can even imagine.  Her acting like that is nothing personal nor does it have anything to do with the paper bag we gave her the medication in.  It's her masking her vulnerability with some gangster attitude, and she's dang good at it.  Hopefully, with time, she will realize that it's okay to hurt, it's okay to not be okay with what happened to her, and know that even though we are just her clinic staff, we really do care.

I have a connection with this type of patient in particular because I am one of those tough ass mother F'ers myself or at least I pretend to be one.  I came to the realization that I don't easily let people in.  I am FAR from vulnerable.  How can anyone ever get to know me completely if I only give them a fraction of myself?  This is when I had an epiphany.  My personal defense mechanism is humor/sarcasm/wit/being a partial asshole/all of the above.   I've been through some less than desirable times in my life, and I'm scared to get hurt again.  What I have realized is if I don't open up I’ll never experience true happiness (thanks, Bob).  So today thanks to this patient (and some special people in my life that shall remain nameless) I decided to stop livin' in this Gangsta's Paradise, and allow myself to be vulnerable.  My career has opened my eyes to so much and has helped me grow professionally and personally.  I will be forever grateful to the patients who have enriched my life without even knowing it!

The Other Side of Fear

Sharon

One of my favorite people in the world is about to start IVF (love you, Boo).  She is scared shitless of the process.  I mean she has me to hold her hand through all of this, how scary can it be?!  Kidding. But for real, she is mildly (really) terrified.

It all started with the initial consultation.  She was overwhelmed by the amount of information that was thrown at her.  I think those (including myself) who talk fertility treatments every day kind of forget how foreign of a topic it can be.  We're sometimes guilty of dropping a load of word vomit, and end up with our patients staring back at us like we are speaking Swahili.  Let me mention my friend is a smart cookie, has researched the bejesus out of fertility treatments, and is also a nurse.  She is still overwhelmed by everything her doctor discussed with her.  *Side note - just because you're a nurse, doesn't mean you are knowledgable across every field of nursing.  Trust me, I know jack diddly about ICU.*   She went through the initial testing process, blood work and ultrasounds.  She had "scary" things like MTHFR thrown at her right off the bat.  (One day I'll touch on MTHFR; we call it the Mother F'er mutation because it can wig some ladies out.)

My friend text me the other day and expressed her fear of her IVF treatment being a bust.  Her trepidation of this failing breaks my heart.  Trust me I have some of the most amazing friends around (totally unbiased), and this one in particular is going to make an incredible mother!  How can you reassure someone that something is going to work, when you actually have no idea what's going to happen?!  So I said something along these lines (and if I didn't say it quite this eloquently, hopefully she's reading this now :)  )  ....

You have to go in with a positive attitude, having faith in what the outcome is going to be.  If it doesn't work the first time, don't get discouraged.  Infertility is a game of persistence.  With that being said, you have to go in thinking THIS WILL WORK.

Sometimes in life you have to give yourself a damn pep talk.  I do it all the dang time.  I'll give some examples so y'all get how legit crazy I am...  

In the mornings I go running at 5:30am (because obviously I am a glutton for punishment) I have to pick my ass up out of bed and tell myself I am a badass because who wants to go running in the pitch black that early in the morning through the dang woods?! I mean I'm asking to be on an episode of Dateline.

I'm still a baby writer, going on 8 months here.  I give myself a little pep talk every time I open my laptop.  It doesn't matter to me if one person or fifty people reach out to me after I write a blog, as long as what I'm doing here is helping someone, it keeps me going.  

And just with life in general, who doesn't need a little daily pep talk to remind yourself to take chances, put yourself out there, do things that are pretty F'ing scary?!  "Everything you want is on the other side of fear."  That quote rings so true in my life.  The things that have put a little fear in me, but I went for anyways, have ended up being some of my greatest achievements.  

 

 

Life is but a Dream

Sharon

Life can sometimes be a mother F’ing nightmare.  I know, I’ve been there.  Times where you think, “What the shit did I do to deserve all this bad coming my way?!”

I have a ton of patients who have lived this.  The constant disappointment.  Being disappointed by cost, their lack of insurance coverage, the wait time to get started, the crap IVF cycles, the failed FET cycles, miscarriages, some who have been through all of the above. 

We have one patient (God bless her) she has been coming for FOREVER, and when I say forever I mean circa 1992 (sarcasm, we actually haven’t been open that long).  When you open her chart she’s had about a bajillion and ten treatment cycles.  I think she has had so many cycles that her insurance company has pretty much turned a blind eye because they know this lady means BUSINESS.

Some may wonder, “Why the heck does she keep going?”  I don’t even know the answer to that.  She’s a persistent one, and it seems no matter how many failed cycles she has had she still continues to act unfazed.  Let me also mention this lady drives a hell of a way to come see us. 

What I like about her (besides her tenacity) is the fact that she takes every day for what it is.  She doesn’t come in and go, “Oh hell, one freaking egg.  I quit.”  She is more like, “Oh hey girl hey, my lining looks great, doesn’t it?!?”  Every time she has to drive to our surgery center and nothing comes from her retrieval, she bounces back in with her next cycle ready to get going again. 

Here I go relating this to my life in my own weird way.  As I've mentioned previously my life has been somewhat challenging the last 4 years, maybe one day I'll be ballsy enough to explain more.  Complicated might be a better way to describe it.  Some days I would wake up and think that Karma was out to get me like, “Hide yo wife, Hide yo kids” kind of bad karma.  For 3.5 years I kept a ton of stuff inside.  Even though things weren’t the best, I always tried to see the silver lining, and know that I was doing what was right for me.  I figured God was just testing what a badass I was (I obviously prevailed).  A couple of months ago things just started going right for me.  When I say right, I mean I won the freaking Powerball of life.  Now when I look back at all the bad times, the times I couldn't sleep at night because I wondered how the heck I was even going to be able to deal with everything, I realize it was all leading me to this.  Heck yeah it took a long time to get to this point, but I just have to thank Him for the struggles that brought me to where I am today.  

I feel the same way about this patient.  Some may see her situation as a freakin’ nightmare. Complicated as all get out.  Who wants to go through that much disappointment?  Continuing to put yourself in a situation that doesn’t give you the results you are dying for.   I think she knows one day her time is going to come too, and if she doesn’t keep with it, she will never achieve her dream (she ain’t letting that happen, y’all). 

This quote spoke to me in particular this week, so I'm going to end with this little gem.  "Tenacity is the ability to hang on when letting go appears most attractive."  The most challenging things in life are always going to be worth it in the end, and boy am I loving my current challenges.

Dwell or Disregard

Sharon

 

"We relive our worst moments over and over and over instead of letting them go, we pick at the emotional scabs and refuse to let the healing happen and the pain subside." - Jen Sincero

Ain't that the truth?!  Why is it that it's so much easier to dwell on what is going/went wrong then to celebrate all that has gone right?

I have a patient who is a prime example of how NOT to relive the bad moments.  She's had a rough go, and has been through countless IVF cycles.  Due to her age and low AMH she never really had a great stimulation.  Throughout all of her IVF cycles she had about 3 eggs make it to fertilization, and only one of those being a chromosomally normal embryo.  She transferred the one normal embryo, and sadly it wasn't successful.  I thought she was going to be completely defeated.  I mean hell, I think I would have been.  She knew her end goal was to get pregnant, and she was a determined one (girl after my own heart).

She decided to switch to donor egg, with a decent amount of embryos it was time for her first transfer.  I had everything crossed that it was going to be successful the first go round.  She came in on beta day, and told me that she didn't feel great about it, but didn't take any at home test.  Unfortunately, this first transfer was negative.  I was dreading calling her.  I put her labs at the bottom of my pile because I just wasn't emotionally ready for that one.  Little did I know when she left our office she went and bought an at home pregnancy test, so when I called her she knew the news wasn't good.  Instead of being devastated like I thought she would be she said, "It's okay we will just transfer two next time."

The start of her second donor FET was nerve-racking.  She made it to the transfer and it was a success!  We aren't to the point to know if she is pregnant with a singleton or twins, but hey a positive beta is a DREAM that took us a long time to achieve!

Not once during treatment did she relive the bad moments, not once did she sit around feeling sorry for herself, not once did she complain to me that she couldn't do it anymore.  What she did do was kept her eye on the prize with an attitude of an F'ing unicorn.

I can't compare anything in my life to what she has been through (and comparison is the thief of joy anyway), but I've had some real shit life moments.  Everyone makes mistakes (I make a lot more than I like to admit, but I learn quickly from them), has moments of weakness, and dwells on shit that probably shouldn't get much thought.  It's normal.  What's not okay is to let it define you. Infertility is an ass kicker (hands down, I know), but you have to pull one of these unicorn moves and maintain the best attitude you possibly can because it will eat you alive if you let it.

The Struggle

Sharon

I've been a little timid to write about endometriosis.  Mostly because it's kind of a sensitive topic. Endometriosis is the most common gynecological disorder. For those unfamiliar with endometriosis it's where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus.  It can be debilitatingly painful for some women.

One of my best friends suffers from endometriosis, and I can tell you the struggle is real.  She lives with a couple of roommates, one of which has zero sympathy for her womanly issues (and she is a dang woman).  This lack of compassion floors me on a level all of its own, but I guess if you don't understand or know anything about endometriosis you may have trouble empathizing.

My friend describes it as being stabbed from the insides.  I know of times where she has been stuck on her bathroom floor in so much pain, even just trying to take a breath hurts.  Since there aren't any outward symptoms a lot of uneducated people try to chalk it up to some bad cramping, and women just wanting to complain to complain.  That's not the case though.  This tissue that is growing outside of where it normally should builds up just like it would before a menstrual cycle, breaks down, and begins to bleed. Endometriosis is a silent disorder.  No one wants to go around telling everyone that the tissue that lines their uterus is growing like damn wild flowers where it isn't supposed to, and guess what the main complication of endometriosis is?!  Impaired fertility.  Not saying you can't get pregnant if you have endometriosis, but you just might have to work a little bit (or a lot) harder to get there.

Honestly, I have zero idea what endometriosis feels like, but I know what a challenge it is to describe that kind of pain to someone who hasn't experienced it.  My point is that you can't judge someones pain based on their outward appearance.  Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there. Not only do I feel people need to show more compassion for disorders like endometriosis, but I think showing compassion in general is important.  I probably sound like an old lady saying this, but people kind of F'ing suck these days with feeling for others.

I'm going to leave this little gem here..... "The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." - Albert Schweitzer

I think everyone should take Albert's words to heart, and try to practice compassion on a daily basis!

 

Worry, Worry, Worry

Sharon

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."  - Mark Twain

I'm sure 99.9% of people can relate to that quote.  Obviously worrying is natural, but when it starts taking over your rational brain is when you need to pump the brakes.

We recently had a patient who worried about EVERYTHING in life.  Honestly, she called so often we all had her number memorized when it popped up on the caller ID.

Before she even started treatment she was worried about her diet.  She ate decently, and took care of herself.  I talked her off the ledge when she thought that eating Chick-fil-A was going to ruin her chances of getting pregnant (Chick-fil-A is heavenly and couldn't ruin anything, if you don't have one wherever you live, you should find one).   I mean obviously being healthy is always the best option, but it doesn't hurt to indulge a bit.

They decided to try injection IUI first.  The possible side effects of the injections almost made her quit before she even got started.  She thought she was going to be the one person to die from an allergic reaction!  With a tremendous amount of reassurance that she wasn't going to croak, she finally started her injections.

After about 3 days of injections, I got a phone call frantic that she had ovulated.  I explained to her that we monitor not only through ultrasound, but through blood work and we would know if she was about to ovulate.   She worried anyways.  Unfortunately, this IUI cycle didn't work for her (remember statistically the success rate when undergoing only one IUI isn't superb). They decided to take a little time off to save some money, and then come back for an IVF cycle.

After her money saving hiatus, she came back in a much better place.  She had started exercising, a new diet, less stressed, and overall just a better frame of mind to get going with treatment.  Her IVF cycle went great, and she was pregnant after her first FET.

I understand how nerve-racking it can be starting fertility treatments, an ungodly amount of things you could worry about.  In the end, all of her worrying never amounted to much of anything.  She drove herself freaking bat shit crazy, and once she reeled that crazy in, everything was so much easier on her.

Now, I'm not saying I never worry because trust me I have a shit ton of worries myself....

  1. How long are people going to enjoy my writing?
  2. How long can I keep it fresh to death?
  3. (More recently) Where the heck is my life going?

I know when these worries start creeping up on me that I'm looking too much into the future, and not enjoying the present moment (which is pretty damn enjoyable right now).  Life is going to work out exactly how it's supposed to no matter what scenario my brain wants to play out, and that's when I realize I just have to go with it.  Luckily for me, it's working out pretty well so far!

Red Flags

Sharon

Last week I had someone email me about their current fertility clinic.  They had been through multiple unsuccessful treatments (6 to be exact) with no real answers and a huge lack of compassion for their situation.  It got me thinking about following your instincts, and doing whats right for you....

Going back to the point I always have to relate situations to my own life, I've been horrible at following my instincts lately.  I recently put myself out there to a person I honestly trusted whole heartedly.  I saw little red flags along the way, but I told myself I was just being crazy.  Everything in me was SCREAMING that I was making a wrong decision (maybe a lot of wrong decisions), but I kept going.  Sadly, my instincts were right.  Those little red flags came to life and whacked me in the damn face.

I was mad at myself because I knew better!  Although this situation may have ended poorly for me, I'm also a huge believer in "when one door closes, another one opens."  And boy did it.  I wouldn't even say one door opened for me.. an entire slew of doors opened for me.  It was a huge lesson, that ended better than I could have ever imagined.  Never again will I doubt my instincts, but on the other hand if this bad situation would have never happened I wouldn't be where I am right now!  Life can work out in funny (F'ed up) ways!

I think the same goes for fertility treatments.  You invest so much not just financially, but physically and emotionally as well.  If you don't think that your clinic is 100% doing whats right for you or you feel any kind of disconnect with your treatment plan, don't be afraid to say something or to even get a second opinion.  You know you better than anyone else, and your instincts are generally right!  As for the email that I received, she was finishing up some blood work and then going for a second opinion.  Maybe the lack of compassion that was shown to her by her clinic is a blessing, and following her instinct to get a second opinion will lead to a healthy pregnancy!

Father's Day

Sharon

I think ladies dealing with infertility get all the love, I mean they do have to put in a good majority of the work!  That doesn't mean we can forget about all the men out there.  On this Father's Day I want to give a little shout-out to the men who helped make me who I am today...

My brother.  Sweet ol' Justin.  He has been a little shit to me our whole lives (and still is.)  He challenges me daily, keeps me on my toes, and always calls me on my stuff.  My brother is the reason I graduated from Oklahoma State in 3 years.  Just to give you a glimpse into our relationship, he said, "There is no way that you can finish college in under 4 years."  I said, "Bet me, son."  Next thing I know $100.00 is on the line.  2006 came and I was a proud (3 year) graduate of Oklahoma State University.  I mean who does stuff like that for $100.00?!?!?  Only to prove a point (a ridiculous, crazy, hardheaded, nonsensical point!)  

Like most guys, my brother doesn't always show his emotions, but he has had quite the journey to become a dad.  If you are unaware he started his own Instagram account to chronicle his journey through the adoption process, @Dad_in_waiting.  Proud of him for putting himself out there and showing that its alright for guys to express their feelings too. Although, sometimes it still shocks me because if you knew him he keeps a lot of those feelings inside!

My brother has been my best friend for the last 31 years.  He stands up for me, protects me in his own weird way, and has taught me how to be my own person.  He is currently in town (yay for me) and we were having a pretty serious conversation in the car.  My brother was describing me and he said that I was "different."  I wasn't really sure how to take that because sometimes his "compliments" can be rather insulting.  He later said, "You are a special combination of a person, there is really no one like you."  ((Again who knows if thats a compliment, but I'll take it.))  I'm sure he has no idea how much I appreciate him seeing things in me that I may have trouble seeing in myself.   I will be overjoyed for the day when he gets to raise a child and instill all his wonderful qualities in another human being!

Secondly, can't forget about my Daddy-o.  Probably the hardest working person I know.  Not kidding, the man has about 30 jobs.  He's as tough as nails, he's hilarious, and sometimes I think he thinks he's Jimmy Buffet.  My dad is all man, I can't recall hearing him discuss his feelings.. EVER.  He gets super uncomfortable with my openness, and most of the time I think he's scared shitless of what may come out of my mouth (I'm a known sufferer of word vomit.)  My dad doesn't really express how proud he is of me to me, but I know he is.  I know this because he tells EVERYONE and their dog .  I thank my Dad for my work ethic, my drive, and my persistence to never give up on what I want.

 My Dad has taught me to always go after my dreams no matter how out of reach or scary they may seem.  When I started writing (if you have read my blog) I was terrified.  I was especially afraid to make tee-shirts.  I thought this could completely flop, and that would be pretty embarrassing.  I ran the idea by my dad, and for the next week he was messaging me (horrible) ideas for tee-shirts and other random thoughts he had about infertility.  He definitely needs to stick with his 30 day jobs cause fertility inspired merchandise is not his strong suit.  The point is that he supports me no matter what.

I'm sure for guys its hard to try to be the support system for their spouses/families, and have to deal with the emotional turmoil of infertility as well. Even though the men in your life may not verbally express their feelings, know that they have them. Men get stressed, can get down; society just holds them to a different standard of giving the outward appearance of always being strong.  Try to be more understanding (working on this myself), take time to listen, and support the men in your life in any way you can.

Good Things Come...

Sharon

Good things come to those who wait... and I can tell you I'm not the best at it.  I think I talk about patience so much because its not my strongest quality, but something I'm constantly working on.

I had a patient recently who did not want to wait for her period to start after her egg retrieval.  She called a bajillion and 10 times.  We finally told her to come in for no period blood work because we knew she wasn't going to give up (and possibly just wanted to free up our phones!)  She came in and her hormones indicated that she was about to start her period.  She asked if she could just have some Provera to make it happen sooner.  We explained to her thats not really how this was going to work.  She was adamant about the dang Provera, but she didn't get her way.  Her cycle finally came (about 2 days later), and she was able to get started with her embryo transfer.

She was impatient during the entire process.  She didn't want to wait the 12 day minimum of Estrogen priming, but we made her.  She wasn't happy about the two week wait for her beta day, so she asked to come in at 7 days post transfer. (Saying she was a pain in the ass would be a pretty accurate statement, my 0.1% because I generally love all my patients :) ) 

She ended up getting pregnant, but before she left she asked when she could come back to transfer her next embryo once this baby was born (she was only 12 weeks along at this point.)  Let me mention that this wasn't a 5o year old who had limited time to get pregnant, this was a young girl in her 20's.   Obviously good things come to those who wait didn't apply to her because she was impatient as shit and everything still worked out in her favor.  It doesn't always work out that way though!

I saw someone post the other day on lovely ol' Instagram "When things don't happen right away just remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce and 13 hours to build a Toyota."  I don't know much about cars nor do I know if this is even true, but it got me thinking.  Things that are worth it take time; be it getting the job of your dreams, building a solid relationship, accomplishing a goal, or beating infertility.  I'm sure I would  have been as impatient as she was in my 20's, but I'm slowly learning my lesson that life is going to work out exactly how its supposed to when its meant to! 

The Down Low of Donor Egg

Sharon

It seems as of late that I have been dealing with more donor egg cycles than normal.  For those dealing with infertility issues you know egg count and quality are the holy grail.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to retrieve their own, let alone have viable eggs.  

There are a couple of misconceptions when it comes to egg quality.

1. "If I'm healthy (no matter my age) I'll have healthy eggs."  Not true.

2. "Only women over 40 need donor egg."  Again not true. 

I have multiple patients who are in their 30's that are currently having to use a donor.  Egg quality sure as heck does not discriminate.

A patient that I've been working with for over a year now tried IVF a couple of times.  She is in her 30's with a very low AMH.  After a few failed attempts she decided to get a second opinion for her own sanity.  She ended up coming back to our office when the second opinion was "use donor egg."  She  did end up deciding to switch to donor egg and recently came into the office for her baseline appointment.  Someone she knew over heard her say that she was using donor egg, and she was mortified.  My empathy was not on point that day or something because I just didn't understand why she was embarrassed.  Maybe since I deal with this stuff so much, I don't think there is anything to be ashamed of!

Now that I've had time to think about this patients egg situation being broadcasted to someone she knew, I totally get it. I should have gotten it then.  I always try to relate situations to my life in some way.  Surprisingly, I'm an EXTREMELY private person.  I mean it takes months, if not longer, before I open up about anything.  I'm sure its not the best feeling for others to know that the egg that you are using is not your own, that technically it won't be your biological child.  I'm not all for technicalities though.  

For those going through the donor egg process you have to look at it this way... although it may not be your egg, you are the one that is nourishing the pregnancy to the point of a healthy delivery. Without you, this wouldn't be happening.  I dislike when people have any kind of embarrassment, I would be like,  "Listen, I paid $20k for these eggs and Im going to flaunt that shit around." (I'm too much, I know.)

Moral of the story is that everyone probably reading my blog is trying to get to the same goal which is a healthy baby.  If you have to use donor sperm, donor egg, or donor embryo just look at it for what it is, a means to an end!

A Fulfilled Life

Sharon

A past coworker of mine passed away today from adrenal cancer.  She was only 36 years old.  She left behind two little girls (which completely breaks my heart.)  Kelly chronicled her cancer journey over the last 18 months.  She went through a crazy amount of surgeries and treatments, the entire time keeping the most positive attitude imaginable.  Even through her darkest days she seemed to find a tiny sliver of light.  She inspired so many, including myself.  Kelly opened my eyes to truly enjoy every minute of my life.  

She took tons of chances with everything she went through; surgery,  a variety of experimental medications, radiation, chemotherapy.  You name it she did it.  She never showed that she was afraid of anything either.  Her writing exuded strength and dignity when a good majority of people probably would have given up.

Although this isn't really infertility related I think everyone can learn a lot from Kelly.  Life is about taking chances, making the most of the time you are given, embracing the crazy.

Below is a little snippet of a message that Kelly wanted to share....

"So while time is shrinking in on me faster than most people my age, I hope that all of you soak in those moments. Life is short and precious and it took this for me to realize that. If I could help someone else realize this, that would be great. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane, but life is beautiful.  It's so amazing watching your children grow.  Just wish I had decades left, but I can't worry about that because it's out of my control.  I just focus on being a wife and mother and fighting for every day to stay a little longer." 

I'm going to honor Kelly's message by living a fulfilled life; opening myself up to be vulnerable, putting myself in situations that may scare me more than I like to admit, taking chances on things I may fail at, but most importantly enjoying the life I've been given.

Public Opinion

Sharon

Recently one of our fellow TTC Instagrammers was featured on BuzzFeed for her IVF story and her super cute pregnancy announcement.  I went to read the article because I was excited to see an infertility story featured on BuzzFeed!  What I was shocked by was the comments that ensued.  

To say a good percentage of the comments were ridiculous would be an understatement.  How uneducated are people about infertility?!?!?!?!  I'll answer my own question and say EXTREMELY uneducated.  I can't even pick my "favorite" one (by favorite I mean the most ridiculous.)  Let me start with this one....

"And you wonder why mental illness, autism and other diseases are on the rise in children and young adults. Look no further than lethal, non stop fertility treatments"   

Almost laughable, right?!?!  Where did this lady even come up with this stuff?!?  LETHAL fertility treatments?!?!  Watch out, y'all that Clomid is going to get ya!  Last time I checked fertility meds created life, not offed people.  Can't even give that one any more play time.

"Was adoption not an option? Okay kinda selfish 😒😡Before anyone comes for me, I am deeply aware how much of a difficult process adopting a child is. But so are all those unsuccessful IVFs."

Obviously she has ZERO idea of how hard any of it is or she wouldn't have made such an idiotic comment.  SELFISH?!?!?!?!??!?!?!  Really?!?!?!?!?!?  The couples I work with daily are THE most selfless people I have ever met in my life.  They give up everything in order to have a child.  

"Stop being selfish and adopt maybe?"

I think I saw about 1,200 people come up with this one.  Why not adopt???  Why can't she be her own person and decide whats best for her?!  Maybe adoption wasn't the route for her.  Maybe she would have been a super shitty adoptive mom (she totally wouldn't have been, but still.)   Its great to have your own opinion about whatever you believe in, but sometimes you need to educate yourself before you open your trap, especially when it comes to peoples personal life choices.

I can't even get started on all the people who commented on their ages.  She's over 18, she's an adult she can make her own decisions on when to start a family. The End on that.

"I did it for the community"?!? Wtf?"

This lady obviously doesn't know what a supportive community we have.  Sad for her that she doesn't know that kind of support. I loved seeing the TTC community come together.

I am as open minded as they come.  I don't judge anyone nor do I care to.  The world would be a much better place if we just all shit rainbows and were more unicorn-y (is unicorn-y a word?! Probably not.)  Why place so much judgement on someone we read a tiny little BuzzFeed article about?  These asshats have no idea the struggle that this couple has been through.  Shame on all that negativity.   I think these naysayers need to go back to reading other articles like, "This Airline looked After a Cat and Gave it a Name Tag."  They aren't ready for adult reads yet.

BuzzFeed Link Below 

 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/javiermoreno/after-a-long-struggle-with-infertility-this-woman?utm_term=.ja9l97M4m#.gvwE604XM

On This Mother's Day

Sharon

Some of the best moms I know are women who knew exactly who they were before they had children.  If you don't know and love yourself how can you even begin to raise a miniature version of you?!  Infertility takes you to the bottom of the barrel, where you have to be strong as heck to pick yourself back up to keep going.  You learn the importance of who you are, who you can rely on for support, and that you are stronger then you could have ever imagined.

Being a mom takes a lot of work, and lucky for you infertility has prepared you;

  1. Patience - You totally earned this quality during your wait to start your cycle, your wait to get to retrieval, your wait to transfer, your two week wait for a positive beta, and then the 9 month wait to have your baby (if you haven't reached this last step, you will get there.)  You got patience in the bag, yo.
  2. Strength - Giving injections to yourself for weeks on end, sticking a 1.5 inch needle in your ass for months, going through a bajillion vaginal ultrasounds, getting your blood drawn every other day.  Not only all that, but also strength in the fact that you have dealt with some real shit times, discouraging news, and have picked yourself back up.
  3. Courage - "Strength in the face of pain or grief."  If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does!
  4. Determination - Because you never gave up, even when you felt like you wanted to!
  5. Love - You wouldn't have done any of it if you weren't over flowing with love to give.

If this Sunday brings you despair, try your best to put a positive spin on it.  Don't think of it as a day that highlights something that your lacking, think of it as a day that your infertility journey has prepared you to be the best at.

The Plunge

Sharon

One of the scariest things about infertility is.... well a lot of it is scary.

  1. The unknown
  2. The injections
  3. The time commitment 
  4. The fear of failure
  5. Taking the plunge (to making a consult)

The part I see most people have the biggest issue with is making the initial consult.  I think like anything, admitting that there is a problem makes everything that much more real.

I see it every day, the classic call to schedule, call back to cancel, then the reschedule.  I know a lot of ladies enter the infertility world originally feeling a bit ashamed of needing help to conceive a baby when it should just happen naturally.  What I love is when they graduate, and are proud of everything they overcame to get to that point!

Infertility treatments can be completely overwhelming.  I can't even begin to tell you how many of my friends are currently dealing with infertility themselves.  95% of them are terrified about what they are going to experience.  I, of course, talk them off the ledge, but I understand that fear.

Fear is natural, I have a ton of fears.

  1. The dark (don't judge me)
  2. Ghost
  3. Cockroaches
  4. Failure

My biggest fear I overcame recently was to start writing.  Before January of 2016 I had never written anything in my life (except papers in college that pertained to boring business statistics.)  I was TERRIFIED.  I had a bajillion negative thoughts in my head thinking "what if no one likes my writing," "what if I totally suck," "what if I put people to sleep because in my head I'm funny, but maybe I'm actually not funny."  I shut that shit down real fast.  I decided to take the plunge.  No matter how terrified I was I told myself I was doing this to try to help someone, anyone, hell whoever would read my blog. 

 My point of all this is to say, even if something is terrifying sometimes you just have to go for it; be it calling for a consult, switching from IUI to IVF, sharing your infertility story, starting a blog,  or whatever your dream may be. YOLO (You only live once) for people who aren't up on their acronyms :)  You don't want to wake up one day, and regret what you could have done!

The After Life

Sharon

I've decided to switch careers and become a Medium..... jokes.  But for real, the after life of infertility.  What do you do once you get pregnant?

Our patients surprisingly have a tough time making that transition.  I think you get use to the struggle, you get use to hanging out with (hopefully) your amazing nursing staff every other day.  The weekly scans, the constant contact with people who understand you....and then its gone.  You are seeing your OB who probably sees a bajillion people.  You don't see your OB as often, and may not grow as close of a bond.

You go from trolling every infertility blog and website to moving on to the pregnancy world that quite honestly you aren't use to (you'll get there.)

I think like anything in life, once you become comfortable with something, its hard to leave.  I'll use college as an example..

I went to Oklahoma State for my first degree.  My life revolved around school.  I graduated in 3 years (yes, I know I shouldn't have been in such a rush to get out of there.)  Everything I did revolved around school work, and then I graduated and was like "what the heck do I do with my life now."  (Maybe not the best analogy but thats what I'm working with here.)   What was next for me when I graduated was scary.  I remember going to a job fair at OSU and the only thing they were offering were jobs at rental car places (nothing wrong with that, but just not the path I wanted to go.) I see my patients dealing with the same struggle  when its time for them to graduate.. whats next for me!?

I believe moms that go through infertility may have a different kind of appreciation for their pregnancy.  It was a struggle and their life completely revolved around it. So many couples who have dealt with infertility are use to some pretty shit news.  Tides have changed and now things are going the right way, and a lot of the time my patients are just waiting for something to go wrong.  Scared to enjoy the ride.

A patient who recently graduated is a prime example of this.  She was a really sweet lady, and this was her very last embryo.  She was pregnant and everything looked great.  She was never excited for the ultrasound, always skeptical, and I just didn't understand it.  Her husband told me she wasn't going to be happy until the baby was born.  I later found out that she had previously lost a baby at 16 weeks, and it clicked for me.  The possibility of "what if" it happens again. Questioning what could possibly happen isn't letting you enjoy what actually IS happening.

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles.  It empties today of its strength. My advice is to take it a day at a time.  The TTC/Infertility community is always here for you to creep on when you need. :)

The Three P's

Sharon

The three P's.... persistence, patience and positivity.  One thing that I 100% know about myself is that I am a persistent.  I was once told by someone very close to me that "Persistence trumps talent."  I mean if you keep at it you'll eventually get there, right?

I think persistence is the key to surviving infertility.

One of my favorite patients (again I know I have 12,202,247 favorites) graduated from the clinic.  Her stay with us was short lived.  Her stim was easy, transfer was easy, and she left us as a happy soon to be mom of two.   Her path was a smooth one.  Its not that easy for everyone.

For those that have to stick with us longer the key to (mental/emotional) survival is persistence.  I think dealing with infertility altogether takes a tremendous amount of it.  Most people despise going to the doctor for their yearly checkup, could you imagine how they would feel having to go see an RE?!?!  I mean, hell bring a sleeping bag cause I spend more time with my patients than anyone else!  

The fertility struggle may increase your patience as well.  It's all  a waiting game.  From waiting for your period to start, waiting to start your injections, and let's not forget the dreaded two week wait.  If you aren't a patient person, God bless ya cause you are about to add a positive quality to your life.  Pretty sure not all patients gain this quality, but if you have it it may make your journey a little more pleasant!

Patience is a skill I am still working on myself.  When I want something I want it NOW.  I think its the new generation of everything being so easily accessible.  People who have waited so long to grow their family don't want to put it off any longer!  I totally get it, but growing a baby takes some time peeps.  It will be well worth the wait at the end!

Last but not least, positivity.  A positive mind will give you a positive life.  It really is as simple as that.  When you are getting the negative voice in your head, you have to push it out and replace it with something positive.  This is also something I am working on constantly, its hard work keeping a positive attitude (honestly there are times when I just don't feel like it.)  I know its okay to have some shit moments, but I don't let myself stay there too long.  I've come to realize the better my attitude and outlook the better the outcome.