Let Myself Feel

Dear No One,

I am sure you have heard or thought a thousand times, “someone else has it worse.” While I think it is extremely important to remember those less fortunate than us and to provide assistance any way we can, I think it is equally as important to take care of yourself.

I think the saying “someone else has it worse” is meant to be uplifting, but I think it can also be damaging. Have you ever felt like you don’t deserve to feel the way you do? Or that you shouldn’t feel that way? I felt that way for a long time with infertility. Honestly, I still have days that I think I don’t deserve to be sad about infertility.

I think people try to be strong and hold it all together. I think they don’t believe that they deserve to feel sad. You know what? Do it. Feel sad. Take the time to grieve. Allow yourself to just feel. You deserve that time.

I honestly believe it is healthier to allow yourself to feel what you feel. The less you try to push it down, the more you can begin to heal.

I know people dealing with a loss of a family member or friend. I know people dealing with cancer. I know people dealing with postpartum depression. Everyone is fighting a battle.

My nephew was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome over a year ago, and he has had multiple relapses in just a year. Every time he relapses, he starts a round of steroids to get his kidneys working better. While he is fortunate that he responds well to steroids, it still comes with many side effects that take a toll on not only him, but my sister and her family.

I have been extremely emotional and have constant ups and downs about our infertility right now. I don’t know how much I can blame on the IVF meds and changing hormones, but it has been a struggle recently. My nephew, though, recently had another relapse, and I instantly thought, “How can I be sad about infertility when my nephew (and sister) is dealing with something so much worse?” Then I talked to my sister. She made a similar comment except she felt as though she didn’t deserve to be that sad. She knows others who have been or are going through something worse, in her mind.

But then she said something that opened my eyes. She said, “Tomorrow I will get on all the schedules of meds and organize everything. Today, I am going to let myself be sad.” Let myself.

I realized that we are all made to believe that “someone has it worse,” which leads us to believe our feelings aren’t as important. I’m sure you’ve all also heard, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” See? Everyone is fighting a battle. Including you. While I try to live by this saying, I also think we should be kind to ourselves because your battle is just that, a battle. It may not look like everyone’s battles. But who is to say that yours isn’t worthy of all you are feeling?

Honestly, this post is mainly for me. I needed to write this down, so I can come back and read it whenever I forget that I’m allowed to feel sad. Or happy. Or angry. I am allowed to feel, no matter what those feelings are. And so are you. Give yourself a break. You are stronger than you think, but you are also allowed to feel broken sometimes.

All my love,

Betsy

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IVF: Round One

Dear No One,

I headed into January with so much hope and excitement. In December, I read a bunch of blogs, researched IVF, and connected with others on Instagram. I got myself in the most positive state of mind I could. I was ready. I was so excited. This was our shot. I was feeling so positive, I even thought we may be that couple that gets a ton of healthy embryos, have everything go perfectly, and get pregnant the first round.

There is a lot (I mean A LOT) that goes into the process of IVF. Let me break some of it down into some of the simpler steps.

-I took birth control for 3 weeks and antibiotics for 2 weeks to prep my body.

-I went in for a baseline ultrasound and blood work to make sure my body was ready to begin. Basically, they were making sure my ovaries weren’t producing any eggs on their own.

-4 days later I started taking IVF meds. One shot in the morning, one shot in the evening. And lots of other pills to prep my body (prenatal vitamins, steroids, Vitamin D, etc.)

-After 3 days of shots, I went in for another ultrasound and blood work.

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-2 days later, I went in for ultrasound and blood work.

-I went in for ultrasound and blood work the next day. Added another shot in the evenings.

-2 days later, I went in for ultrasound and blood work. Stopped all current shots. Took “trigger” shot that evening to help eggs mature and prepare for egg retrieval.

-The next day I went in for blood work.

-The next day I went in for egg retrieval. You are put under light sedation and aren’t allowed to work that day.

Ok. Was that schedule crazy?? Yep! But would you believe me if I told you that shots were the easiest part of IVF for me? Did I hesitate the first few times before sticking a needle into my body? Yes, but I got use to it.

Symptoms? Almost none for the first week. Didn’t sleep well (thanks to steroids), but I was feeling amazing for the first week. Then Sunday hit, and I was extremely tired and my belly was getting sore and swollen as my ovaries went from the size of walnuts to the size of oranges. Honestly, though, I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I thought I would going into this process.

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How the last couple days before egg retrieval looked. Tired mama! (and a very understanding baby)

What was the hardest part(s)? After my ultrasounds and blood work, a nurse would call me in the afternoon to update me. When I went to my day 5 ultrasounds and blood work, I was told my estrogen levels had jumped really high. Therefore, they adjusted my meds and made a next day appointment to see how my body responded to the changes. On my day 8 ultrasound and blood work, they called me that afternoon and told me a few things.

One, my body was ready for egg retrieval in two days, so I had to take my trigger shot that evening. Yay!

Two, my estrogen had continued to climb too high, and the typical trigger shot was dangerous for me to take at that point. Therefore, they sent a prescription for a different shot to a specialty pharmacy downtown. When I got there, they said they didn’t have it. Then we were sent to another pharmacy 20 minutes away to get the ONE shot they had left. Cue anxiety.

Third, the nurse told me that we had to cancel the embryo transfer due to my high hormone levels. Embryo transfer is typically done 5 days after the egg retrieval. Instead of the possibility of finding out we’re pregnant in a couple weeks, we have to put the embryo transfer off for at least 6-8 weeks. This was very disappointing for me. I medically understood the reason. The nurses were concerned I could get Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can be extremely painful and lead to draining fluid out of your abdomen. Obviously I didn’t want that, and I was thankful that they were staying on top of my health. Does it take away the desire to want to be pregnant? Nope. We have now been trying over three years. The first part of the IVF process already took 6 weeks. My dream of being pregnant just keeps getting pushed back. I have learned patience through infertility and the adoption process, but I’m not perfect. I am a planner. Hearing another delay hurt, but we decided we should just focus our prayers and energy on getting good, healthy embryos.

Egg retrieval day. We got 16 eggs! 16! Yay!! That’s a great number. Then we wait until the next day to hear how many eggs fertilized overnight.

Three. Three out of sixteen eggs fertilized. That number drop was terrifying. We wouldn’t hear another update for five days. Those little embryos needed to make it to day 5, then they would be frozen until my body is ready for the transfer. Come on, little babes. I didn’t know I could feel so connected to embryos that weren’t even in my body. This was THE hardest part of IVF for us. Waiting. Waiting to hear if any of our embabies made it to day 5.

Two. Two embryos made it. They are now frozen. Waiting for their mama to get ready for them. Best news. We are so very thankful that we have two embryos. Two opportunities. Two embabies. There is not a day I don’t think about them.

I have lost track of the amount of hurdles we have had to jump over to get to our children. This round of IVF was a big hurdle. I went in thinking I was going to be the strongest woman who ever went through it. Take it like a champ. I ended it crying myself to sleep the night before we heard how many embryos made it to day 5, as the thought of losing any of them was too much for me to handle.

Was it easier than I thought it would be? At times. Was it harder than I thought it would be? At times.

It’s not over. We have more hurdles to get over before we have any pregnancy announcement, but I thought my supporters deserved an update. We are doing really well (especially now that my hormones have leveled out! Poor Marcus).

If you made it this far in this long post, thank you. And thank you to the wonderful, beautiful souls that took my hand and walked through every step with us. Whether you text, called, gave us care packages, babysat, or prayed for us, we are forever grateful.

All my love,

Betsy

The Most Wonderful And Hardest Time of the Year

Dear No One,

It is my favorite time of year! Yes, I am that annoyingly joyful person listening to Christmas music in October (and July. And March. Ok maybe year round). I love Christmas! The lights. The snow. The time spent with family. The fact that people just seem happier and nicer. The food. The trees. The decor.

Ok, have I made it clear enough how much I love Christmas? Good.

Now let me take you back to December 2014. We decided we were ready to start our family earlier that year. I was watching what I was eating, stopped drinking alcohol, taking prenatals and clomid. I was doing everything right to prepare my body for a baby.

I was so sure we’d get pregnant in the next couple months and by the next Christmas we’d have a little baby! Or at least be pregnant.

If you know me well, you know I’m a planner. I planned everything. How we’d tell our different family members. How I’d tell Marcus (there may have been a banner and shirt involved). Etc. etc. I planned every little thing.

Basically I was so excited for what was to come. My eyes were big and my heart naive.

In March, our world crumbled and my plans were instantly ripped from my hands.

I won’t get into details but the next 9 months were dark. Everything hurt. We got to Christmas 2015. No baby. No sign of a pregnancy in the near future.

That was a hard Christmas. My usual joy was no where to be found. I shut down and really only survived with the help of sarcasm and alcohol.

It was a month later I had a dream about adopting a baby and finally reached out to someone who is also in the infertility world that I allowed myself to start healing and rewrite my plans.

I know I don’t write that often, and I really wish I could just be a funny, witty blogger, but as Marcus would tell you, I’m not that funny. This blog is a therapeutic outlet for me and I write when my heart is pulling me to write. I wish this blog could be bright and bubbly and full of recipes and funny stuff my kid does, but infertility is not bright.

Infertility is dark. It strips you of so many more things than I can begin to explain. It took Christmas away from me that year, and I will cherish every one even more now that Daxon is here. I could not call myself an advocate for infertility if I weren’t honest about it.

So why am I writing this today? I am thinking of every woman who thought they’d have a baby or be pregnant this Christmas, and they aren’t. I pray you have more strength than me to reach out for support and deal with your emotions better than I did.

Whether you read this silently to yourself or reach out to me or someone else, I am here for you. I see you. Your pain is real. Allow yourself to feel it. Then remember you have already made it this far. You are making it through this moment right now. Use this strength and confidence to make it through the next hard moment. You may not be able to control your future, but you can control how you allow yourself to heal and move forward.

You are strong enough.

All my love,

Betsy

Another Battle

Dear No One,

Marcus and I have A LOT going on this month. Most importantly, we are celebrating Daxon’s first birthday. We also had a visit with his birth mom, adoption walk, friends visiting from St. Louis, Thanksgiving, and one of my best friend’s wedding. Why not add a little more to our to do list?

We decided once Marcus started his job that we would go to a fertility specialist. We couldn’t get in until, you guessed it, November! We knew since March of 2015 that we would need some assistance in getting pregnant, but after a surgery and recovery, we decided to not keep doing tests. We needed some time to physically and emotionally recover. After three years of trying on our own with no success, we knew it was time to get some help. Therefore, we started out with this recent visit getting lots of tests done.

After all of those tests, we were told that our only possibility of having biological children would be through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). This is the last, most desperate and drastic step for couples struggling to get pregnant. Unfortunately for us, it is the only option.

When we found out, I was initially just happy to have answers. We’ve been waiting years to find this out, so there is definitely some relief in knowing.

I would be lying, though, if I didn’t tell you that I’m terrified. I instantly started doing research and reading personal blogs about the IVF journey. There will be a lot of shots, bruises, pain, hope, ultrasounds, emotions, doctor visits, doubt. I am scared. I am excited. I am ready. I know there will be days where I forget why we are doing this. In the end, though, I am fighting yet another battle to keep building our family.

While adoption was not as physically draining as IVF will be, it took so much patience and emotions and is a lifelong experience with ups and downs.

Nothing about creating our family has been easy, and I cannot wait to tell each and every one of our children someday about how hard we worked to get to them.

Why am I telling you about this? I loved sharing our journey through adoption to bringing home Daxon and all the support we received, and I want to share this journey as well.

I am ready to fight another battle as the reward is so very worth it.

ivf

All my love,

Betsy

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day

Dear No One,

This day hits home for a lot of people. Whether you had a miscarriage or held your infant in your arms for a short time, today we remember every baby that didn’t make it. And we remember their parents. That they need ongoing love and support. 

This day holds a lot of weight for me. We have never had a miscarriage. We haven’t lost an infant. Because we’ve never been pregnant before. That, to me, is just as much a loss. So I am also thinking of every woman who has never gotten to experience the high of a positive pregnancy test and the loss you feel every month. 

Yet I have an even bigger tug in my heart today. Last year we had a failed adoption opportunity. That baby was born on October 15. National Infant Loss Day. Ironic, huh? While I know that baby was not meant to be ours, and I can’t imagine any other child but Daxon, it doesn’t take away the pain we went through last year. The huge loss we felt. Sitting with packed bags. Waiting for a call to leave. To never hear anything. Nothing. Confused and feeling even more broken. 

What did we do? We took a day to grieve. Grieve the loss of that child. Then on October 17 we went back on the list as a waiting family. Not even 2 weeks later, we were matched with Daxon’s birth family. 

We allowed ourselves to feel our pain. Deal with our loss. Then kept moving forward. 

If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage or lost a child, reach out to them. Not just today. Today may be the national day to raise awareness, but there isn’t a day that goes by they don’t think about that loss. They don’t need you to fix anything. Just a quick note to let them know you are thinking of them. Let them know they aren’t alone. 

I know if you are in the middle of infertility or adopting, it is hard to see any light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. Allow yourselves to feel your pain. Grieve your losses. But never stop moving forward. You may not see the light yet, but it is coming. Hold on. 

Our failed adoption opportunity was on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, but our son was born on National Adoption Day. How’s that for “meant to be?”

You are all in my heart today and every day. 

All my love,

Betsy

The Best Days

Dear No One,

It has been a long time since I posted anything because we have been incredibly busy this summer moving and getting settled in our new house. I felt the urge to write, though, because it has been just over a year since we went active as a “waiting family” with our adoption agency. Now we have a 9 month old. Holy cow.

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A 9 month old that plays hide and seek. A 9 month old that loves to repeat sounds you make (we’re still working on mama and dada). A 9 month old that only wants to eat whatever Mommy or Daddy is eating. A 9 month old that cries when Mommy or Daddy walks out of the room. A 9 month old who knows that we are his family.

These are THE best days of my life. I love nothing more than spending every day with Dax. He is everything to me.

So these are the best days of my life, but I still experience emotional and physical pain from infertility? Whhaaattt?!?

Yes. It might sound like I’m contradicting myself, but let me explain a little. The most frustrating thing I experienced after adopting Daxon was that I had people that expected me to feel perfectly healed. I had my baby. What more could I want? Stop complaining lady!

First, Daxon was not and is not a bandaid for our infertility pain. He was not “another option.” We have talked about adopting since we were dating. After dealing with some of our infertility issues, we decided to rethink our plan for children. But Daxon did not come into our lives to cover up our pain of infertility. I think that takes away from the relationship between our son and us. He was wanted. He was desired. He was planned for just like a biological child would have been to us. He is so very, very loved (if you can’t tell by the thousands of pictures I’m constantly posting).

Second, infertility changes you forever. From the second it becomes a part of your story, you will never be the same. In ways I am much stronger, but I also still feel weak, depressed, and heartbroken from time to time. Therefore, I cannot go back and be completely happy and healed by adopting a child. That wasn’t the point of adopting, and that’s not how it works.

Third, you know what most women want more than a child? Two children. Three. Four. However many they want. Marcus and I were still “trying” the entire time we were going through the adoption process. We are dying for a big family. Well, we’ve been trying for that big family for 3 years now. 3 years. With no success in getting pregnant. And yet I still feel that little spark of hope every month, and I still feel the pain that follows. Every. time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a sad, pathetic pile. Like I said before, these are the best days of my life. I love my life more than ever. But does having one child mean I’m not allowed to feel the pain of infertility anymore? Nope.

I’m a BIG believer in letting yourself feel whatever you are feeling. Whether you are dealing with infertility or something else entirely, don’t let anyone else tell you how you should feel. Keep fighting, but let yourself feel every emotion. That is one thing that you have control of in this crazy world.

All my love,

Betsy

To the Woman I Forgot Last Year

Dear No One,

In the week of mothers (yes, I said week. Every commercial. Every sign. Every post on Facebook. All about moms), I have an ache in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I am more grateful than ever to be celebrating this year with a child in my arms.

But my mind is stuck on Daxon’s birth mom. Last year I wrote a post about all the women that may be struggling on Mother’s Day. Women who lost a mom, women who lost a child, women who are struggling with infertility. Yet even in the whirlwind of adoption paperwork, it didn’t occur to me to think about birth moms. Someone near and dear to my heart who has personally experienced adoption (and taught me A LOT about the triad of adoption) kindly reminded me of these women.

Birth MOMS. Yes. They do not physically have the child in their care. What I have learned in the last year, though, is they never stop thinking and praying for the child they carried for nine months. And for those first nine months (and for some birth moms, months or years after birth), she is that child’s mother. She make decisions for nine months to help care for her child. She makes the incredibly hard decision to place the child for adoption, which is followed by paperwork, phone calls, reading through dozens of families profiles, and endless emotions. Then this woman gives birth. Now I have never been pregnant or given birth, but I know from every mother I’ve ever talked to that neither is easy. The only thing that gets them through is the thought of holding their child in the end. So what gets a birth mom through that? A love for her child. Her child. Then she hands that child over to me, and he is mine. Take a moment to understand the depth of that.

I am obviously not a birth mom, so I am only writing from what I have seen, read, and experienced. But part of being an advocate of adoption is spreading awareness of both sides.

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Last year on Mother’s Day, Daxon’s birth mom was pregnant. This year, I will be holding him in my arms. If you have ever met a birth mom, you have met one of THE strongest women you will ever meet.

To the woman I forgot last year, I will NEVER forget you again.

All my love,

Betsy

Why “Dear No One”

Dear No One,

It has been a year since I started my blog, and I never really explained why I named it “Dear No One.” I am sure you are all DYING to know, so here it is.

When I was going through our deepest, darkest times of infertility, I felt so alone. There were so many people out there that would have listened and could have helped. BUT I had in my mind that no one tells people they are pregnant until they are at least 8 weeks “in case something happens.” Therefore, I felt like infertility was something that was supposed to be kept secret. We didn’t even tell our families until we had some answers from the doctors and knew there was definitely a problem.

The best thing that ever happened for me was when I called someone to get advice on adoption, and we ended up talking for three hours about infertility instead. Having someone else that validated all of my feelings felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I wish I had reached out to someone who had gone through the same thing so much earlier.

Oh yeah. Why “Dear No One?” Am I saying that anyone reading this is a no one? Of course not! When I started this blog, it was more of an outlet for me. I honestly did not care if one person read it. I just felt a desire to write. Therefore, I was okay if I was writing to “No One.” I am simply writing from my heart.

Now that I do have a few people that read this, my one goal is to never let another woman go through infertility alone. So for the woman out there who thinks you are alone and no one will understand, I am here. I understand. I promise you that reaching out to me or anyone else who has gone through infertility will be the best thing you could do for yourself.

Will I rename it someday? Yes! I am positive that someday I will rename it to be more fitting for our family. But for now, I am using this writing as therapy for myself and if no one reads this, that’s okay with me. Although, I know at least my mom is reading this. 😉

I would love any and all suggestions from your creative minds for my next blog name!

All my love,

Betsy

NIAW: My Year After Starting A Blog

Dear No One,

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and this time last year was the first time I opened up about our infertility issues. My husband and I kept it to ourselves for over a year, and it wasn’t until we announced that we were in the process of adopting that we decided to share. A LOT has happened since I started this blog, and while I never considered myself a writer (and still don’t), I am so glad I decided to share our story. In the last year, I have learned so much and made and deepened relationships with so many amazing women going through some form of infertility.

What have I learned? There are so many forms of infertility. Women who have chronic illnesses. Miscarriages. IVF. Low or no sperm count. Even some couples whose doctors couldn’t find any medical reason for why they can’t get pregnant. Some women have never even gotten to experience the joy that comes from a positive pregnancy test. Others experience that joy and have it instantly ripped away from them when their biggest dream ends in a miscarriage. Other women struggled with infertility years ago, and it still haunts them.

The most important thing I learned from talking to so many different women about their experiences? Every one of us felt and still feel the EXACT same emotions. No matter how infertility touched our lives, I instantly felt a connection with each and every woman.

What are some of the emotions we feel? Sadness, despair, depression. Having a child is something most women dream about for most of their lives. Not having a child, is often our worst nightmare. Anger. “Why me?” often hits as you watch every. single. person you know announce their pregnancy on Facebook (or so it seems). Jealousy comes right along with that anger and instantly a wave of guilt for feeling angry and jealous of your friends’ happiness. Alone. Even though 1 in 8 couples experience infertility, you still feel alone. You don’t want to bring everyone down by constantly talking about it, but it is almost all you can think about. Also, just like most things in life, no one really understands what you are going through unless they’ve experienced it themselves. I had a friend that supported me through our worst times of infertility, but it wasn’t until she experienced it herself that she truly understood the depths of what I was going through.

Does it go away? Nope. Infertility becomes a part of you. It changes you. Your life will NEVER be the same. And that is okay.

Why? Because now as I hold my sleeping baby that we adopted 5 months ago and type this, I truly believe there is no other baby that is meant to be in my life right now. I am stronger than I have ever been. I am positive that I am a better mom because of the struggle. I have made countless friendships. I have cried with women. Often times, I am one of the first people these women tell when they find out they are pregnant. I am helping women through the biggest ups and downs of their lives. Crying with them through the worst. Celebrating at their highest moments.

Speaking out about our infertility and starting this blog has been life-changing for me. My hope is that any woman that reads this and is experiencing any type of infertility will reach out to me. Why? You don’t have to go through this alone and you shouldn’t go through this alone.  The worst thing I did in the beginning was try to deal with it by myself. Infertility is a sisterhood. A sisterhood you would never choose, but it is one that will welcome you with open arms and never let you go. Infertility may never go away but either will the bond that you instantly form within the sisterhood.

I never want another woman to go through infertility alone, so to all my sisters, I am ALWAYS here to talk. You are not alone. Most of all, keep fighting. I promise that when you FINALLY meet your babe, it will be

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All my love,

Betsy