Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Hold On - Abandon:
She sits alone and wonders...When is the end of broken dreams
This isn't what I pictured...She says as tears run down her cheeks
She needs a friend beside her
She's looking for a Savior
(Chorus) Hold on, hold on, someone will find you
Hold on, hold on, somebody loves you
Hold on, hold on, your not drowning this time
Hold on, hold on, look for the searchlights
She grabs her coat to leave...So sure it's gonna be the end
Another broken family...Tears are her only friends
This isn't the life they wanted
She's hoping that Heaven comes through
Does anybody care and do you even see
Look past my skin until you see me
Do you even know what I'm going through
I need to talk to someone can I talk to you
Does anybody care and do you even see
I'm running out of hope and sanity
Do you even know what I'm going through
I'm having a hard time facing the truth
Does anybody care
The other song is "Control" by Clemency....I can't find the lyrics anywhere...but the chorus includes:
The whole world's getting heavy to hold, So I'm letting go.....so I'm giving up control.
It's clear to me who you want me to be...you're who I want to follow...
Part 1 - The Results
Part 2 - The Options
Part 3 - Our Reaction
Part 1 - The Results
Part 2 - The Options
Welcome back to Part 3 of our infertility announcement. I chuckled at that...it just seems a bit humorous, not sure why. This one by far is the hardest one to write. Not so much because it's painful but more so because there is SO much to sort out about it all and it's hard to pinpoint where we are in the whole thing. The mood changes by minute sometimes and we really haven't had time to process it all properly.
I'm not exactly sure what properly means. How do you process something like this?
Overall, we're doing ok. That may be because we're able to avoid thinking about it a lot, at least together. And I don't think we're intentionally avoiding it...it's just the reality of our life that is getting in the way. Thankfully school is out for a few weeks and we're headed on vacation, but even still we won't get to process I'm afraid. We're so time challenged as a couple. We have maybe 10 hours a week to spend together in which we have to choose how to allocate our time. Usually we manage to find a little time for fun things, but usually we learn to make what is normally a chore into something fun for us to do as a family. It was our great pleasure (no, really it was) to go to Kroger together, as a family, on the 4th of July. We perused the aisles, took pleasure in watching our son enjoy pushing the little cart. Cleaning the house, folding laundry, caring for our son...these are the things that take up our time. And those 10 hours are broken up on 5 days...so it averages out to be very little time each day...it's hard to do all the "necessities" like cooking dinner, eating, cleaning up the food mess, bathing our son and putting him to bed in the time we have together let alone additional chores like finishing all the projects around the house. It's hard to start a discussion like the ones we need to have knowing that you really only have 5-10 minutes before being interupted by the meal being done, the cartoon going over, your sleepless son calling you from his room, or sleep taking over. Needless to say we haven't been able to process either individually or as a couple as much as we need or like.
Some would say get a sitter...and, although it may come to that, the reality is that our son spends 5 days a week in someone else's care and only has the same 10 hours with mommy and daddy...it's difficult to miss that time that is critical in our opinion by putting him with someone else for a while.
And the reality is that this isn't a one time conversation...it needs to be something we talk about freely on an ongoing basis without spending all of our time talking about it. In our situation that's extremely rough to figure out how to do. It's funny...I usually want to talk about it in the morning on the way to work. It's when I feel the most about it. J is usually sleeping and not available. Or, he's taking Logan in and when he calls me to let me say good morning to Logan I want to talk but he doesn't give me the opportunity (not intentionally) and I shut down about it. When he realizes later that I wanted to talk, he calls ready and I'm no longer interested. None of this is in a bad way...it's just that our lives continue to move on despite our world being knocked out of orbit.
So, most of the time we are fine. Or, at least we appear fine. For the moment. And we are. We are really torn between a few major themes...
Wow...we are really blessed to have our son.
The joy from realizing how blessed we are with him has changed our outlook on parenting him dramatically. I no longer worry about how many times he calls me to check on him at night or that he always wants me to cuddle with him to go to sleep. I don't care if he's trying to manipulate me or if society at large thinks I need to be trying to get him to sleep on his own. He's disciplined...we have rules and we stick to them...but we're enjoying the time we have with him on a whole new level both because he's such a miracle and because he may be our only opportunity to do this.
Wow...we are really blessed to go through this.
Huh? I know...but we really are. I've always...or at least since my late teens, realized that the "why" behind things is this...because I am me and He is God. That's it. In fact, that's the first line to a book I plan to write someday with a two pronged approach...both the good "why's" and the bad. But I digress. I've learned when you go through something like this you learn so much and grow so much. In this case we're learning, though painful, about sovreignty and our place in this world. We're also more understanding of others who've faced infertility and know, at least on the other side if not sooner, we'll be able to be a support system for someone else. This will end well, this we know.
Our source of infertility was shocking. Not only were we surprised to learn that we struggle with male-factor infertility, the fact that it is a systemic issue/physiological issue that may have been caused at/before birth or at least when he was very young is hard to comprehend. not the why part, but more so the fact this is a "real" issue. Not that others aren't. But it's not like it's a hormonal imbalance. It's not stress. It's not a lifestyle issue. It's not even a physiological issue that can be corrected through surgery (or at least, not that we know of yet). This is similar to a permanent sterility from birth. Crazy. It's like growing up and finding out later you have a congenital heart defect or a third kidney or that you had a twin that was separated at birth that you never knew of. Huh? What? Where did that come from? This isn't something that developed over time or was caused recently. It's always been there. Silent. Haunting. Ready to pounce when we least expected it.
Huh? part 2
How...what...why...Logan? It's amazing what God can do. And this leads to thoughts about how I'd guess most parents who see their child without infertility problems have no way of understanding what awe there is in producing a child...not as much as someone who's struggled with infertility for sure. I may be wrong. But in most cases infertility is not something you grow up and expect to be an issue...you expect and are certainly reinforced over the years will all the emphasis on pregnancy prevention...that once you start intending to have a child...it will happen. It's natural. It's meant to be. It's supposed to happen. "It only takes once". It's a fact of life. Until you really experience the reality of infertility, there is no way to fully appreciate the miracle of life and realize nothing, not even the most basic things like that, are guaranteed. And, in reality...there's nothing basic about it.
The shock and surprise of the situation really are probably our biggest reactions. This has really changed and will continue to change what we have always thought our life would be like. Some people grow up with the desire to adopt, or have had people close to them struggle with fertility. Let me tell you...this is not our case! Both of my parents have 7 siblings...most of those siblings have had at least 1 child over the years...up to 6...my first cousin count is somewhere between 55-65. First cousins. Yep. And now, many of them have their own children. I haven't even tried to do that count. I have at least met and know all but 1 of my cousins...and most of my cousins from one side know those on the other. Crazy large family. Crazy emphasis on the importance of family and kids. That's not to say there weren't fertility challenges. I know of at least a couple who struggled with fertility over the years and know full well there are some that I don't know about.
My mom & sister were definitely fertile. I'll leave their stories for them, but the point being within my own family there was no reason to believe I'd have problems growing a family. The problems I was aware of had to do with delayed ovulation/PCOS and miscarriages caused by other factors. J's family, for all I know...was the same and bringing up our challenge hasn't spurred anyone there to say "well...you know...so and so experienced..." (That's another post altogether...or maybe will come out as I continue to write)
It's funny looking back. Growing up I was always so curious about what it would be like to be pregnant and have a baby. What a crazy thing that would be. I couldn't wait. There were always multiple people pregnant and I was amazed to watch them. I would sit and think...I don't think I could ever decide to stop having babies. I can't picture myself being done with being pregnant and having kids. So funny...not only because I was young thinking about that but also because of the irony. Anyway...I wanted a large family but didn't know what that number would be. Probably at least 4. At some point I heard a sermon and changed that number to 5 or more. J wasn't there and actually at the time we were separated so although I tried to bring up how passionate about it later it had lost its impact...and he wasn't there to hear it from someone else...somehow hearing things from your wife doesn't make it quite as real as hearing it from your friends or others...but I digress. He's always assumed he'd have three...it seemed that was the number most people went with and he was no exception. We agreed to take it one at a time and figure it out as we went.
We talked about this stuff for years. We talked and sometimes argued and sometimes cried many many times before deciding to have Logan. So funny how you agonize over certain decisions when they really do become trivial or pointless in hindsight.
Needless to say we both wanted multiple children and assumed we'd do it like everyone else...decide to start trying...get pregnant...have a baby...repeat when ready. We never expected what we face. We were certainly unprepared for this. We walked in an arrogant ignorance that we could control our fertility and reproduction.
These are some more of the thoughts/emotions we face on a minute-by-minute basis:
I won't have any more kids
I won't give birth again
I won't get pregnant again
I won't nurse again
I'll never have the chance to stay home
What would it be like to adopt?
How are we going to come up with the money for all of this?
How will our son react to all of this as he's older?...gosh I wish we could give him the "brother" he keeps asking for...I wish I could explain it to him.
Are we really done?
How do you get through all of this? What steps do you take to heal?
How do we keep our marriage together through this? How do we not let this take over without ignoring it?
How do we talk about it to others? How do we share what's on our hearts with people who get it?
Why don't people care?
How do we get through the pain, the sadness, the uncertainty, the fear, the overwhelmingness of it all?
Is it something we did wrong? How could we prevent it? How can we fix it?
Do we want to raise Logan as an only?
Should I quit work to stay home with Logan while I have the chance?
If I quit work to stay home with Logan, we certainly won't be able to afford any sort of family building options.
Are there kids out there waiting for us to be their parents?
Would we want to adopt an older kid? How would that impact Logan? How would our relationship with Logan impact other children?
How long will it REALLY be before we have more children?
Will they let us foster-to-adopt?
Aren't we good parents? How come we can't have more children when others who harm their kids can so easily?
Maybe someone will leave me their child on my doorstep
Isn't there anyone who really understands?
I feel so alone
(I smile as I write these thoughts out)
You can imagine that there are a world of emotions associated with our situation. The feeling alone in this is super strong. Once again we've learned a little bit more about those who really care about us vs. those who don't. Lesson learned...it's hard to figure out what to say to someone...but if you say nothing, it "means" you don't care. I still know of no one in our situation. I've met plenty of people along the way...my IF sisters...who struggle and their companionship and stories and support means the world. But without exception they struggle with different issues...either miscarriage or ovulatory/endometriosis related IF. I don't know anyone who struggles with male-factor infertility due to physiologically-related causes. I don't know anyone who has that as the cause of secondary infertility. This is important in that those without a child face different issues than someone in our shoes. I don't mean to infer that any other situation is less painful or more easy. It's just different. It doesn't help me to read a story of someone with male-factor like ours going through primary infertility...they don't have to worry about how treatments, or adoption, or no decision will impact the (amazing) child they already have. It doesn't help me to read a story about someone who has female-related infertility either primary/secondary because their choices and options are different than ours. I need to know of others who've gone through this and made it. And, to some degree, it doesn't help to have J be the only person I have to go through this with. Men and women face things differently and as much as we need to be on the same page as we move forward in life I don't want this to be the only thing we talk about.
I don't want us to be defined by infertility, but I do need to work through it with those who get it. And, as much as I don't want this to define us, I DO need people to understand that this is serious...this is lifechanging...this is a major thing we are dealing with. It's not like...oh, they've got a cold...they need some rest and will get better. I need stories, examples, people who made it. I need some dear friends that understand our scenario...who really get all the stuff we face in terms of grieving our "loss". What loss? The loss of what we thought our life would be like. We know life will be better than we could have imagined on our own. Without a doubt we know that. But this is a season of "plowing the fields" so to speak to get ready for a radically different garden. Plowing hurts. It will take time. It will be beautiful in the end. But we are neither the plower nor the landscape architect anymore. We now get that.
In reality...I use this blog to get out some of the yucky...so it might seem that this is a huge struggle right now or that I'm depressed, or that we're angry or something. And, to some degree, those things are probably true some of the time. But in reality...I'm amazed at how well we're taking this. I'm amazed at my reaction...it is more positive than negative and that surprises me. A whole new world has opened up and I'm ready to explore. I got a lot of the initial crying and mourning over with the first test results in May. There will be more I know through all the phases we go through. But for now, I just wish I knew what was in store for us so we had some direction on where we need to be headed. And, I wish my husband and I had more time together through this time to be able to deal with it together. And, I wish we could put life on hold and process things. We have more joy than we did before and certainly know more than we ever have about our creator.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Part 1 - The Results
Our options to expand our family are actually still pretty numerous. The challenge is to deal with the feasability of the options we have available. They pretty much fall into the three categories below: No more children, Biological Children, Adoptive children.
No More Children
This is probably the obvious option for many. We can choose to not have any more children. Essentially we can do nothing and leave it to chance, which, according to our doctor means a 0% chance of having more biological children. Of course, we've had our son under these conditions which can be taken two ways...he's 1 in a bombillion which even further reduces the chance of us having another or it's happened once so it can happen again. Either way you look at it the chances our slim.
- No more costs associated with additional children
- Additional chance to have "miracle" children
- Focus on Logan and raising him, he's a cool kid
- No worries about how to expand our family...decide against it and move on
- We'll be empty nesters more quickly and then can focus on being a couple sooner (ok...I'm stretching here)
- Our son won't have any siblings...will be an only child (If anyone spends any time with him they know that this bums him out. Even at 2. He talks about his "brother" on a daily basis, referring to different people each time...sometimes it's his cousins, sometimes it's his friend Chance, sometimes it's superman or spiderman or batman. Sometimes it's a mysterious person named Charlie or Benjamin. Plus, he desperately needs someone besides mommy and daddy to play with him.)
- Certainly not what we had planned or wanted (we'll get into that in Part 3 I think)
- I'll be done child-bearing...no more pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, nurturing an infant, etc. No more chance to stay home with my children.
An additional consideration with "no more children" is that even that choice comes with strange costs. We would either have to re-begin birth control or "ensure" sterility to have some sort of peace with that choice. Of course that peace takes away the ability to have a surprise. If we don't, I have to monitor my fertility daily for the rest of my fertile life due to my medication, which would be a constant reminder of our infertility. Forever. Or at least until menopause.
If we want to have more biological children again good ol' doc believes there is a 0 chance. Now, some would say "yes, but you have one so that chance has to be more than 0". It really depends on how you look at it. I believe it is possible whether or not we had one already because Christ is all powerful. Logan is proof of that. Statistically though, Logan was a crazy percentage and already took up that "chance". Who knows. "Scientifically" our options to have biological children are:
IVF: In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF-ICSI)
The doctor believes this is a good option for us. I had a very good pregnancy before and for all purposes appear to be a good womb. He believes we'd be successful with this route.
- We'd have another biological child
- Multiples (50% chance for twins, possible triplets or quadruplets)
- I'd get to go through pregnancy and childbirth (!!!) again
- I'd get to breastfeed again
- I could potentially stay home with my baby(ies) (see disadvantages below)
- We'd get to go through the process of raising our child from pre-birth and participate in all the stages of their life
- $14K per attempt
- 65% success rate per attempt
- Lots of medication and intervention on our bodies
- Higher chance for high-risk birth (may not experience natural childbirth???)
- We don't have that cash and don't believe in using credit...so, we change our minds about credit or wait until we save the cash (about a year, maybe?), which means by the time we have a child our son would be almost 5. Not what we'd wanted.
- Either way, because of the cost of this attempt it would delay my ability to stay home. Which means for most considerations, I still wouldn't get the chance to stay home afterall
- That would likely be our last attempt so we'd get what we'd get (successful or not, one child or more)
- That's a lot of money...
Increase Density + IUI+Sperm Wash
The dr. and my own research suggest this isn't very likely but with the further testing we'll see if we can increase sperm density. Again, we'd have to increase it to at least 5000% of what it currently is just to maybe qualify and have a shot.
- Cheaper ($500-$5000 per cycle, depending on a few options/needs)
- Better chance than we currently have! :)
- It would be nice to be able to get sperm count to that level anyway and if hormones or something else can do it...great
- 30% chance of multiples
- It's still expensive
- Success rate only about 25%
- I'm not ready to count on this being an option yet. There's too much at stake for my sanity
- Involves lots of doctors visits, monitoring, and probably injectibles
Adoption is certainly an option for us! That being said, there are the normal considerations when deciding to adopt including the several types of adoption and choices to be made about it. I'll lump advantages and disadvantages together, but understanding that we would be considering international, domestic infant, foster-to-adopt, older child, and embryo adoptions at this point.
- We could expand our family either with individual or sibling group adoptions
- There is the potential to go through the pregnancy process as well (embryo)
- There is the potential to adopt a baby and go through a similar process of raising a baby as if we'd given birth to him/her
- THere are SO many options in terms of how to increase our family, what our family would "look like", the speed at which we increased our family. Lots of opportunities.
- Giving a child/family a forever family
- We both have adoption benefits through work which would cover some of the costs
- If the costs were lower, we may be able to work it out for me to stay home
- Quicker option than any of the others to expand our family
- Not having a biological sibling for our son...he is really awesome and I'd love for him to have a biological sibling even if we did adopt
- Adjusting to being adoptive parents and an adoptive family
- All of the choices that would have to be made...so much to think about...so complicated
- Still takes a while, particularly if we were going to want to have a caucasian baby with specific characteristics
- Not knowing how well past experiences would impact our son, nor how expanding our family in that way would impact him
- Not knowing whether we'd be able to integrate other children into our family and have them feel as loved as Logan is.
- Can be very expensive (domestic infant & international can be 25-40K), with the exception of foster-to-adopt (and even then, depending on the circumstances) can be just as expensive as IVF
- Will our family accept our adopted children?
- The process to become eligible to adopt is difficult. Being that J is in the career he is makes it more complicated due to weapons in the home, our family schedule, my working (now), and also the consideration of the children's stories and how they might be impacted by their previous experience with police officers.
- The process would likely to take at least a year.
- Would still have to process the "not having bio children" aspect as with having no children
Oh...I could go on and on. Essentially it all boils down to these basic factors:
- Nothing will be easy
- Nothing will be guaranteed from here on out
- We are forced to mourn what we thought was mostly a given regarding childbearing
- Nothing will be inexpensive
- All options have difficult decisions involved
- No options support me staying at home with my baby(ies)
- No options really support us having the child spacing we'd hoped for (except, maybe adoption, which would be more expensive because at this point we'd think we'd want Logan to be the oldest, which would mean we'd be looking at younger child/infant adoption)
I completely know that in our current circumstances it isn't clear partially because we don't know what God has in store and there is no way for us to see all of the benefits and disadvantages for any of the options. We don't know what doors will be opened for us or which will be closed. There are SO many options to consider and choose from that in itself is a problem. I write these things down partially to get them out of my (our) head and partly to get them out in cyberspace to see other perspectives some of you might have.
One note of caution...although we REALLY would like comments on this particularly if you've had an experience that would contribute advantages or disadvantages we haven't thought of, we'd appreciate a little bit of grace in terms of what we're going through at this point because we fully know we may have made something here seem worse than it really is or was in your experience. Judgements on what we've put into the advantage or disadvantage categories probably won't be helpful. (ex., "Why don't you think you could love an adopted kid like you love Logan? Wouldn't you treat them the same?" etc.) We're trying to be as honest as possible to ourselves to go into any option as best prepared as we can which means we need to be honest about our preconceptions about things...we didn't plan this and all of these thought processes are new to us. And, with the exception of the L family, we don't know anyone personally who has gone through most of these scenarios. No one. I'll get into that in Part 3.