MicroblogMondays: Extra Grace, Understanding, and Patience

Microblog_Mondays

I had a grand plan of what to write for the Microblog Mondays post.  But it went out the window after a fight with Bob.

What I realized is that fights are inevitable, especially when we are faced with one obstacle after another in the last long four years of our infertility journey.

After the news we received last Thursday of the possibility of needing surrogacy, Bob and I have been discussing on and off about the future.  It has not been an easy topic to discuss.  How does one wrap their mind around possibly needing a 4th party for their reproductive needs after already needing a 3rd party?  How many people do we need in order to have a child?

There are so many questions.  No clear path.

Do we still go with a donor?  What about the agency fee that we already paid?  Do we go with donated embryos?  Do we transfer in my uterus if we know that there is a chance for serious pregnancy complications?  Do we do the surgery?  Do we skip the surgery and do the Lup.ron Depot?  Do we skip transferring into me all together and just go straight to surrogacy?  Do we skip the whole thing and pursue adoption?

We find ourselves at a crossroad constantly.  We doubt our choices in the past because they didn’t bring us to where we want to be.  We wonder about our future decisions and if we’d choose the right path.

This is painful.

All in all, my husband has been extremely supportive.  But he also needs an outlet to release his emotions.  Often times the stress of infertility manifests itself in his annoyances in other things in life.

It doesn’t help when I am in general more fragile because of this new development.  It is so hard to wrap my mind around losing the ability to carry my own child.

Happy to report that we got over whatever we were fighting about.  But I know that it doesn’t matter what we fight about, the stress often comes from the current situation with the unknowns of our fertility journey.

Hopefully after the surgery consultation, we’ll have a clearer picture of what we should do next.

Extra grace, extra understanding, and extra patience are needed for us to get through this rough patch.

We continue to need peace and strength from God.  Please keep us in your prayers.

My Time Off

Today is the fifth day of my Christmas break.  I am glad that I am not in the office.

Things were interesting in the office the last couple of weeks.  After the most recent loss, some days felt worse off than others.  When that happened, I often stayed in my office and avoided social interactions.  Even one of my male coworkers noticed.  One day he saw me in the kitchen heating up my lunch and asked me how I was doing.  I told him, “I am not doing too well, but it’s okay.”  He had a concerned look on his face, not at all awkward that I gave him an answer that went outside of the usual pleasantries.  I told him that it was just life.  Then I walked back to my office with my hot lunch.

And then there was my supervisor’s baby shower.  The day before the baby shower, my no-longer-pregnant coworker (the one who always talked about her pregnancy) came by my office and asked if I was going to the baby shower.  I told her I wasn’t, just like what I did for her shower.  I told her that I’d give my supervisor a separate gift afterward, but I wasn’t planning on being there.  No-longer-pregnant coworker then said, “I have a favor to ask you.”  She handed me a piece of paper titled “Wishes for Baby”, one of those baby shower games for people to fill out their wishes for the baby.  She said no pressure.  I could fill it out or I could just toss it in the recycling bin.  I was honest with her.  I told her that I most likely wouldn’t fill it out.  I took it and left it on my desk.  I just wonder if no-longer-pregnant coworker really thought about my feelings.  If I wasn’t going to attend the baby shower, would I actually want to participate in a game?  The piece of paper ended in the recycling bin.

The day of the baby shower, my friend Q, who was supposed to be my lunch date, totally forgot that she was supposed to have lunch with me.  So at noon, I walked over to Pane.ra Bread and had lunch by myself.  I did make it back at 1pm just in case we had a department meeting.  Well the shower was still going on.  Being so close to the conference room, I could hear all the laughing inside.  The baby shower continued on until 2pm, a total of two hours.  I had prepared a gift for my supervisor.  I gave it to her right after my last client of the day.  I didn’t want to do it in her office since it’s very close to other people’s offices.  When she came out of the bathroom, I waved her my way.  She was babbling about some work stuff while she entered in my room.  All I wanted to do was to get this part over with.  While she was still talking shop, I handed her my gift.  She was surprised and happy.  I didn’t do much of an explanation like the last time with my other pregnant coworker.  I simply just said, “I don’t go to baby showers but I wanted to give you this.”  It was a gift that she had on her registry.  She gave me a big hug so that was nice.

My last day of work was last Friday.  It was also my supervisor’s last day of work before her maternity leave.  Our work holiday party was that night.  A few weeks prior, before my beta, my Dear Colleague and I joked about me going to the party being the designated driver for Bob because I would be pregnant and would be forbidden to drink.  Well, for somebody who had gone to every single work holiday party in the last 12 years, I just did not feel like going to our work party, socializing, and talking about things that don’t matter to me when deep down my heart just died a little after the last cycle.  But I knew I wanted to say my good-byes to my supervisor.  Right before I left work, I looked for her and found her in the copy room.  I went in and said my good-byes.  She was surprised that I wasn’t going to attend the party.  I told her that I didn’t feel like socializing.  We chatted a little about how she was doing and what she’d do before the baby comes.  We hugged each other and that was it.  Yesterday when I chatted with my Dear Colleague, she told me that my supervisor wondered aloud to a small group of people at the holiday party about me.  She said something like, “I am worried about Isabelle… I wonder how she’s doing.”  My Dear Colleague just pretended that she didn’t hear it.  But I think that maybe my looks and my demeanor recently did show that I wasn’t doing too well in the last few weeks.

Yesterday, Dr. Gentle, the OB/GYN surgeon who did my last hysteroscopy, squeezed me in for a saline sonogram.  Dr No Nonsense had told me to get a hysteroscopy again to check the cavity.  I emailed my own OB/GYN who said that she doesn’t do it in her practice.  She referred me to the surgical team.  I knew that it would take forever before I could get an appointment if I went through the scheduling people.  So I emailed Dr. Gentle directly.  She is really the nicest doctor ever.  She wrote me back saying that she didn’t have availability for a hysteroscopy this week, but she could see me for a saline sonogram, which to her is a better way to look at the whole system right before a transfer.  I got the Okay from Dr. NN’s nurse.  Dr. Gentle wanted to see me this week because it is best to look at the uterus right after menses for the lining is usually thin.  This time I had to wait 30 minutes as Dr. Gentle was running behind.  She came in with another doctor probably in training.  They were funny.  They talked shop while getting me ready.  Apparently my cervix was wide and they couldn’t distend my cavity without clipping my cervix and placing a balloon inside.  It was uncomfortable but nothing intolerable.  Originally they thought that they saw scar tissue that turned out to be the balloon.  Dr. Gentle showed me how the whole cavity and the lining looked nice and smooth.  I got the ultrasound picture as a souvenir.

Staring at the ultrasound photo, I couldn’t help but think that yesterday or the day before would have been our first ultrasound to check the heartbeat.  I would have been 6 weeks 4 days, right when people check their heartbeats in an IVF cycle.  Instead of a little blob inside my uterus with a heartbeat flickering away, my uterus looked sadly empty.  Yes I know it is good news to have a smooth lining.  But it’s still sad to know what could have been.

Emotionally, I had been doing well until yesterday.  All of a sudden, I panicked.  My clinic’s fees will go up in 2016.  I wanted to pay for the frozen embryo transfer before the end of the year for tax return purposes.  The fee schedule I received from my billing person shocked me.  It went up at least $600.  I checked with her.  She said that all the fees are going up beginning January 1st.  I don’t know.  I just panicked.  It’s not very rational.  But, I started searching for a new donor to prepare for the possibility that our FET doesn’t work.  There aren’t too many choices out there.  My mind went really far: the FET not working, another fresh DE transfer not working, we are out of money to try, we will be childless.  Then I came across California Con.ceptions, a clinic that specializes in offering embryos that are made with donor eggs and donor sperms.  The cost is a fraction of what it is with a DE cycle, and the success rate is super high because of double donors.  But is this really what we want to do if all else fails?  I literally sat there for three hours googl.ing, thinking about things, and panicking all by myself.  It was just not healthy, but I couldn’t help myself.

When Bob got home, I was trying to see how I could break the news to him that the fees are going up at our clinic.  I somehow brought that up along with California Con.ceptions.  The talk about double donors made him really upset.  I don’t have to go into details but the sheer panic of not knowing if we would ever have a child we could call our own is really tough on a marriage.  We didn’t have a good evening.  But you know, I think it is necessary to talk about these things, our fears, our concerns, our frustrations.  I am glad we had a chance to do that.

This morning, Bob’s car died when he exited the freeway to get to work.  He just couldn’t accelerate but he was able to pull over the shoulder off the exit.  He said that he lost all power including the steering wheel and the brakes.  My heart about jumped when I got his call because it is never good news when he calls me on his way to work.  He had it towed to our mechanic’s shop.  I am just glad that it happened in the morning and he was safely away from the freeway.  We have been talking about buying a new car but because of the cost of all of our cycles, we have been pushing off purchasing a new car.  Both of our cars are old, so driving the car on our road trip could be a bit dicey.  *sigh*  When we worry about money, there are always more expenses.  However, I am just so thankful that the Lord protected him from any danger on the freeway.  The more I think about it, the more thankful I am.  Also thankfully, Bob is in good spirit.  He is not too down about the car.  He is now working from home and it is good to have him around.

This is my vacation so far.  I will be meeting with one of my best friends for lunch tomorrow, Christmas eve.  Christmas day I will be making steak for dinner.  We leave for our little get away on Saturday.  It’s nice to be able to wake up in the morning not worrying about going to work.  It’s also nice to be able to clean up whenever I want to, do nothing if I want, and basically do whatever I feel like.  I really love this kind of vacation.  I hope that the rest of my time off will be as peaceful and uneventful as possible.

MicroblogMondays: The Bryson – From My Hubby

Microblog_Mondays

The Bryson – A great name for the bouquet that my husband sent to me at my work.

You know, me and my husband.  We have our share of good times and trying times.  We have fun.  We joke.  We take care of each other.  We love on each other as much as we can.  We also fight.  We have “robust discussions”.  We have disagreements.  We have our conflicts.

One day last week, we had a robust discussion about family conflicts with my side of the family.  Whatever it is about, I won’t go into details about it.  Let’s just say that we tried to be as calm, logical, and reasonable as possible, but the discussion was emotionally charged.  There were a few things that I would have rather not heard.  But at the end, we were in good terms again, as we usually do.

Then the day after, I saw this box in the copy room downstairs and literally jumped when I realized that it was for me.

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I opened it up, and saw this:

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I was so surprised!  I did not expect to receive flowers on that day.  I read the card and it said that it was from my husband and he wrote: “This reminds me of the first bouquet that I gave you six years ago. 🙂 ”  He gave me yellow roses for the first time and I teased him that it was for friendship.

See how pretty the bouquet is:

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I chatted with him online and expressed my amazement at such an arrangement on that day.  He told me that this is partly for our fourth wedding anniversary that is coming up in a few days.  It was also partly an apology for sometimes making my life difficult.  I love flowers and he couldn’t have picked a better arrangement named “The Bryson”.

My husband sometimes drives me crazy, but he certainly knows how to surprise me and make my heart sing.  I am a lucky girl.  🙂

Woes

This is going to be a difficult topic to write about.  But it’s been on my mind a lot that I really want to get it all out.  

My husband switched jobs a little over a year ago.  His previous company provided excellent health insurance that covered for almost everything 100%, except for fertility.  Anything fertility related was not covered.  When he switched to his current job at a large corporation, we were very pleasantly surprised that there is a $10,000 lifetime maximum for fertility treatments.  I was secretly hoping that we wouldn’t need to utilize this benefit.  It was a good-to-know kind of thing and I tucked it in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to March this year.  We started seeing reproductive endocrinologists and discovered that all the visits with these specialists so far including ultrasounds and the lab work that is ordered have been paid for under our general insurance.  Our fertility lifetime maximum had not been deducted until we actually started our first IVF.  I started to realize how blessed we are with the amount of coverage that we have so that we haven’t had to dip too much into our designated funds for IVF.  

Most recently my husband has been miserable at his job.  There has been a lot of changes in his group.  His manager suddenly assigned him the task of overseeing the whole project and for him to put the whole system together.  This wasn’t his job before so he has a lot to learn.  Not only does he have to learn fast, he also has to battle getting results from his group mates who are less than cooperative.  On top of that, he has to commute about an hour each way to work.  He used to take the train but because of potential transit strikes the past two months, he opted for driving instead of purchasing a monthly train pass.  Since his work has been so frustrating, he has been thinking about switching jobs.  He began to speak with recruiters and has found leads for job openings that interest him.

Last weekend was a testing time between us.  We started talking about the possibility of a job change.  He wants to work for a startup company with fewer people that would provide more room for growth.  If he can find a company doing what he enjoys doing, then he won’t mind working extra time on his job.  There is a lead for a small company that is located a bit closer to home than his current job.  The founder is really interested in him.  They met up twice already.  

When Bob shared this with me, my fear crept in.  We are in the middle of an IVF cycle that has been paid for by his insurance.  I know that this fertility coverage won’t last forever as we are definitely going to use up the whole lifetime maximum if we indeed do a transfer.  But it’s not only the fertility coverage that I like.  I also like the fact that even after the fertility coverage is over, visits to an RE including blood work and ultrasounds will still be covered under our general health insurance.  We also have the fringe benefits of chiropractic care, acupuncture, and counseling.  They are all covered.  If/When I get pregnant, all the prenatal ultrasounds, visits with the OB/GYN, and the hospital visit are largely covered.  We only have to pay a small copayment.  And currently our complication is the potential laparoscopic surgery to remove the uterine fibroid.  I am 99% sure that this will be covered under the general insurance. My fear is that the new health insurance that is provided through a new job at a startup company will not even begin to compare to what we have right now.

Bob was angry and hurt that the first thing I thought of was the health insurance that we may lose.  He thought that I cared more about our insurance coverage than his happiness and wellbeing as an individual.  This led to “robust discussions” throughout the weekend about the best decision to make.  I admit that I allowed myself to be fearful of the unknown and the future, a future that may not provide us with the comfortable cushion that we currently have with his work health insurance.  This fear is so crippling.  At the same time, it pains me to see Bob suffer so much.  We prayed and prayed for a clear direction.  I have been praying for God to allow me to have faith in Him that He will provide.  I want to have peace with whatever decision that we will make.  I would love to be the one that supports my husband’s decision no matter what he does.  And it hurts me for him to think that I didn’t care about his feelings and his unhappiness.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night pondering about all of the above.  How does one strike a balance between being a supportive spouse and providing another perspective of the situation without making the other person feel judged?  How does one speak with love and openness without hurting the other person’s feelings?  Marriage is hard work.  It’s even harder when the relationship is complicated by the inadequate feelings of infertility, dissatisfaction at jobs, the need to provide for your loved ones, and finances.  All of these make the road tougher.  Sooner or later we will find a solution to all this.  The worst financially will be that we’ll have to pay out of pocket for many things that are covered right now.  The amount of money that we have saved is finite.  If we spend the money on something, then we’ll have less money to do more cycles.  Again, I am letting my fear speak.  I just hope and pray that I will not let this crippling fear take over me and that we will have the faith that God will guide us to the right path.  

Ready for the next cycle? Ovulation, insurance money, and fights

Ovulation probably happened yesterday.  My temperature rose for such a pathetic amount that I am not too confident to say that I did ovulate, although other signs such as the cervix and the cervical fluids all point to the same conclusion.  Once we confirm ovulation, it will be much easier to predict when AF will come for a visit.  I emailed Dr. E today and she told me to come see her about 8 days to 10 days past ovulation.  We tried our best this cycle to BD at least every other day up until the positive OPK.  Then we advanced to BD everyday.  A miracle hasn’t happened in the last 20 months so I don’t expect one this time.  But wouldn’t that be nice?

Oh and I was good over the weekend.  I didn’t procrastinate and actually wrote an email asking Dr. E’s financial lady Jennifer about insurance money and other IVF cycle related money matter.  She emailed me and said that we had “very good news”.  That made me want to talk to her right away.  Apparently we have only used up about $3600 of our $10,000 lifetime maximum.  I knew that we would have some insurance money left since we didn’t proceed with the transfer.  I still have to call up insurance to verify the information, but I was pleasantly surprised that it seems like we have enough money to do another cycle without having to pay out of pocket yet.  It’s also interesting to see how much less insurance companies are paying the doctors than what patients without insurance coverage have to pay out of pocket. The disparity hardly seems fair, so I’m grateful for another chance of IVF with insurance money.

Bob and I had a very rough Sunday.  We fought a few times throughout the day.  The fight at the end of the day was the most damaging as we both said things that we were not proud of and were hurtful to each other.  We fought about things that are directly and indirectly related to infertility.  The good thing about the two of us is that we often reconcile within the hour.  However, both of us felt exhausted and defeated. The topic of counseling resurfaced again.  Both of us agree that may be it’s time to revisit the topic again and actually find a professional that we could work with.   As we move onto the next cycle, it’s going to be very important for us to continue to learn how to better communicate with each other.  So instead of just talking about it, it’s about time to put it into action.  

There you have it.  The next steps: getting two more high temperatures to confirm ovulation, calling insurance to verify coverage, finding a Christian counselor that is in network, getting price quotes on meds, and praying for an extra dose of patience I have for my husband as we move onto the next cycle.  I think I am ready.  

Stress-free? Who am I kidding?

As much as I want to keep myself stress-free, it seems like I am under a lot of stress and my body is reacting to it.  My left shoulder has been bothering me, especially after driving 30  minutes to work or sitting at my desk working on the computer for about 20 minutes.  The pain sometimes extends to the joint of my left thumb.  Needless to say, I am not a fun person to be around these two days because of the pain.  Called insurance at lunch and confirmed that we have coverage for chiropractic services.  Just pay a copayment for any in network providers and we’re good to go for 30 visits per calendar year.  Got an appointment scheduled with this guy who has wonderful Yelp reviews.  I am hoping to be pain-free by Thursday.

Remember I said that I am not a fun person to be around?  Well, Bob and I got into a huge fight last night.  I thought that we have had a good system down and we really hadn’t gotten into a fight in a long time.  Everything was fine when he got home.  One phone call with his mother changed everything.  I don’t think I have ever talked about my in-laws.  Well, let’s just say that I am far from being the ideal daughter-in-law that they had ever dreamed of.  In fact, they were so upset about our upcoming wedding that his father called Bob the day before the wedding and yelled at him for a long time.  Nobody from his family, including his parents or any other close cousins, attended our wedding.  And his father stopped talking to him for many months after that.  The main reason: I am not Indian and I am older.  Since I wasn’t handpicked and arranged by his parents, it is as if Bob didn’t have a wife.  They would tell people that Bob has decided not to be married when someone asks them about Bob’s life.  After we went to visit them in India last year, things did get a little better. But his mother has this way of torturing him when they talk on the phone or Skype.  He basically gets yelled at for ruining their lives almost EVERY SINGLE TIME they talk.  Last night was no exception.  Bob got off the phone and was in a totally annoyed and unhappy mood.  So instead of being the wise one and walking away from it, I fell into the trap of reacting to his reaction to his mother.  One thing led to another.  And we were yelling at each other.  I don’t know if it’s the stress of IVF, infertility, his family situation, or his job situation.  Must be a combination of all of them.  I just feel so helpless when we fight.  I am also very frustrated that we are allowing his mother’s destructive ways to get to our relationship.  Other than this one stressor, Bob has also been a bit anxious about looking for a new job.  However, we can’t move on from this job until we’re done using the fertility insurance.  The lifetime maximum coverage will be finished in July when our cycle starts.  He’ll then be free to move around and look for another job.  But to him, it feels like that EVERYTHING we do revolves around fertility and IVF.  It feels like it, but it is not true.  However, no matter what I tell him, it doesn’t matter.  It is how he feels.  And he’s sticking with it.  We do enjoy life.  IVF is a big part but it’s not everything that we do.  I do see a pattern of our communication that is recurring and I feel that we can use some help in that area.  So during my insurance coverage phone call, I also found out that we are covered for counseling for unlimited visits with just a copayment.  Bob and I will talk about it and see if that’s something we want to pursue.  I hope it will help.  I don’t think it’ll hurt.

How do you deal with stress, especially when it’s related to infertility and fertility treatment?  Have you ever done counseling and how did it work out for you?