Friday, April 25, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week

April 20-26 is National Infertility Awareness Week. The movement began in 1989  with the goal to raise awareness about infertility and encourage the public to better understand reproductive health.  The theme this year is "Resolve to know more."  Infertility is a medical condition that affects 7.3 million women and their partners in the United States- that's 12% of reproductive age population.  1 in 8 couples faces infertility. That's right, 1 in 8. Infertility in 35% of couples is a female problem and 35% a male problem.  In 20% of cases its a combined problem, while in 10% it is unexplained.

I have been pondering over this post for a few days, unsure of what I wanted to say.  I always had a gut feeling (call in women's intuition) that getting pregnant probably wouldn't be a walk in the park for us because of the extreme amount of stress my body has gone through physically in only a matter of a few years.  The extreme stress my body was under from being in a constant state of pain (often severe, especially those first few years), I knew would take a toll on me.  I never would have guessed how deep and just how hard infertility would be on us.

Reproducing is a basic human function.  It is also one of the most complicated and complex processes.  Countless factors have to be just right for you to conceive.  If just one of these factors is off but even a minuscule amount, it can make it impossible to conceive.  Reproduction is also a very taboo subject that no one really wants to talk about publicly. At very young school age, you giggle and squirm in your chair when you learn about sexual reproduction in health or science class.  It is a very personal process, but when you are dealt the hand of infertility, all privacy, intimacy, and modesty go out the window.  You are asked by your doctors very personal questions about your sex life and your reproductive organs.  You start using a language full of medical jargon and abbreviations.   You are told down to minutes and hours when to "get busy" with your partner.  It can be extremely shameful, isolating, and make you feel like less of a woman, or man.

Like being diagnosed with any medical condition or ailment, being diagnosed with infertility requires you to become an advocate for your health. You need to know when to seek professional help from a specialist and be informed about all your options.  It is vitally important to know about the medications, procedures, finances, etc.  If you are the loved one, friend, or family of someone who is struggling with infertility, it is so important to educate yourself on how to best support this person. There are definitely things that are helpful and beneficial, and things you can do or say that could very well end up hurting the person on the receiving end very much.  For example, DO NOT say, "Just stop trying, and it will happen!" or "Why don't you just adopt?" or tell someone to "take a vacation and it will happen."  Also do not explain how your co-worker's best friend's cousin twice removed tried for X amount of years, and then she started drinking apple juice while laying upside down once a day, and then magically she got pregnant.  Comments like these are hurtful and frustrating, not helpful.  Again, infertility is a medical condition that needs to be addressed by a medical doctor with medical interventions.

Do ask your loved one or friend, "How are you doing?" or offer a listening ear.  There were so many times I hoped and prayed that certain friends would just ask me heartfelt how we were doing or how were were feeling.  But again, people don't want to talk about infertility. Do also try to educate yourself a little so you can ask informed questions. For example, showing that you took the time and effort to learn a little about what all is involved in an IUI and why it is done would show your loved you care about what they are going through.

One of my main reasons I decided to document out infertility journey publicially was to try to bring awareness to the diagnosis and bring it out of the shadows and I certainly hope that those that have followed our journey have been able too see how much infertility affects a person's life.  We are extremely blessed to be on the other side now and be a success story, but infertility will always be a part of our story.

I'll update with a baby bump post in a couple days so stay tuned!

Till next time...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weeks 12 -14: Baby gifts, bump shots, and ultrasound pics!

Ok, ok.  I am officially a bad blogger.  I think about posting often but realize I either a) don't have all that much to say, or b) would rather take a nap.

Before I get to baby updates, I first want to give a quick shout out.  When we started getting closer to the likelihood that we would be doing IVF, I of course being a medical professional, wanted all the information I could get so I threw myself into researching all the options, protocols, costs, success rates, etc.  But I also wanted to know about the emotional, psychological, and physical side of the process.  Through a friend and blogger Joy (Inner Joy Knox) who dealt with some infertility, I found several blogs of other infertiles and started reading and following their stories.  There are many downfalls of infertility, but the support in the blogging community is definitely not one of them. There are SO many amazing women out there who are open and honest about their journeys and write about them so beautifully.  I count myself blessed to know these women.  I found the blog of one girl in particular who I felt compelled to contact personally.  Elena (Baby Ridley Bump) and I have since become good friends and email several times a week.  When you with find out someone in your life becomes pregnant, it can be hard, emotional and bittersweet.  I completely and totally understand this feeling and have had to fake a congratulatory smile and happiness, while inside, I was heartbroken.  Elena has been so unbelievably sweet, supportive, and interested in my pregnancy so far and I know she is truly happy for me. I think you feel differently when a fellow infertile announces a pregnancy because it gives you hope that these crazy hormones and procedures can work.  It gives you motivation to keep poking and prodding yourself, keep dealing with the nasty side effects of all the hormones, and keep walking the tough road because you can get to the other side.   

After we got pregnant and knew everything was developing normally, I had tons of extra bottles of all the supplements Harrison and I were taking that were recommended by the IVF clinic.  I emailed Elena and offered to mail her my immense supply.  She was so appreciative and I was glad I could pass these on.  I had been given some medication and supplements as well from a girl I knew who was about to have a baby via her second IVF.  I knew how much this small gesture meant to me and I was happy I could pay it forward.  Well, late last week, I got a package in the mail from Elena.  It was the sweetest customized thank you note and these completely adorable Aden & Anais bibs.  
Thanks Elena! I LOVE them! 

I have also received a few other small gifts for the baby in the last couple weeks.  One of my oldest and dearest friends gave us this Tennessee Vol inspired spit up cloth..
Needless to say, Harrison loved it.  And a friend of my parents gave us our first book for the baby...

Now onto little baby Slatery.  I have been feeling ok the past couple weeks, although I did have a week or so where I was having a lot of sickness.  I was waking up around midnight and getting sick.  After 3 or 4 nights of this and not sleeping well at all because of the severe nausea, I threw in the towel and called the doctor for some phenergan.  Not only has that helped with the sickness but it also helps me sleep.  I'm not taking it every night, but I am still getting some nausea late at night a few times a week.  It usually starts around 8-9 pm.  Here are some bump shots of last week at 13 weeks and this week at 14 weeks.
13 weeks
14 weeks
We had our first appointment with the High risk OB a couple weeks ago and everything went well.  Baby looked really good on ultrasound and the nasal bone scan and Nuchal Translucency scan were normal.  These are things that look for signs of down syndrome.  Baby's heart rate was 158.  We actually got to hear the heartbeat for the first time, since our infertility doctor did not have his speakers to his ultrasound machine hooked up.  It was a beautiful sound and brought tears to my eyes.

Baby is about the size of a lemon now...about 3 1/2 inches.  It can now grimace, squint, frown, and suck its thumb! Kidneys are now functioning and by the end of the week, so will the liver and spleen.   Baby is very active and flexible as we saw during the ultrasound, but I haven't started feeling any movements yet.  We aren't scheduled to find out the gender until May 14 at our 19 week anatomy scan but we have an appointment this week and Harrison is hoping they can take a peak.  We aren't scheduled for an ultrasound at the appointment, just doppler to hear the heartbeat.  The office is very big and very busy so I doubt they have the ability like a small, more personal office would to just take a look if no one is using the ultrasound room. So I really doubt we will find out this week.

Till next time...