When one comment ruins a day

As an infertile couple we have had our experiences of people saying the wrong thing even when they think it is right and that it will help us cope. We’ve even tried to bring awareness to what should be said and what shouldn’t through this blog, but my wife and I are realistic in the sense that we can’t control what others say. However, it doesn’t mean the words hurt any less.

For those of you that have read our blog from the beginning you know the journey we have been on and more recently the surgeries that have taken place. For those of you that haven’t and are just tuning in, My beautiful wife at the age of 32 had a hysterectomy and it closed the door to us having a biological child. A hysterectomy is more than just the physical removal of the female reproductive organs. We as men will never understand what it means to our wives even though we try desperately to. This surgery is so much more. It takes an emotional toll on a woman like you wouldn’t believe. My wife has told me a while back that she can’t do the one thing she was put on this earth to do and that’s to carry a baby. Now I don’t buy into that is why women are here but I sympathize with my wife in this feeling knowing what hand she has been dealt what hand we as a couple have been dealt. The surgery is over but the emotional effects still linger and probably to some extent always will. She is only human to think will I ever hear the sweet little voice shout out to me and say “Mommy.” I have watched my wife cry over many situations that people who haven’t walked a mile in our shoes will never understand. Things that before we went through this I would have said oh for the love give me a break you’re reading into everything. The truth is though you don’t ever know what someone else is going through and it’s not fair to expect people to walk on egg shells but I do think people should try to understand your situation and the impact words can have on a couple struggling with this. we have been hurt many a times throughout our marriage and journey to become parents by friends, by family, and by people who we don’t even know and in most cases not at any fault of their own people just are simply unaware. Most recently though a very simple conversation wrecked our day in a big way.

We were in a store where my mom works just browsing some of the vintage items that they have. A gentlemen was talking to my mom and I got the sense that he was a regular customer because it was very clear he knew my family and my nieces and nephew. My mom is a grandmother of three all of which have come from my sister. She is a very proud grandmother and no ne can fault her for that because we hope to experience that someday. The gentleman was just talking to her about his grandchildren and commented on how lucky my mom was to have this new grandbaby. It was a very casual conversation, one that you would never think would have such a profound impact on us. I instantly noticed my wife’s demeanor change. She went from smiling and happy to very stoic and quiet. Now for those of you that know me know that I can read people and their emotions really well in fact its art of my job to do that. So I instantly ask her what’s wrong to which she replies nothing it’s stupid. Now me being me I continue to ask (totally annoying and not my best quality but I’m a fixer and don’t like seeing people I love in pain) She tells me again its stupid but I won’t let up. She finally, holding back tears says I just wonder if your mom will ever get to talk about our child like she does my sisters. Now let me say this wasn’t her being upset with my mom or what the gentlemen sais it was her worrying we will never get the opportunity to provide my parents with another grandchild. It was her fearing we will never be called mommy and daddy. It was her showing raw emotion with everything we have one through. Our overall tone of our day shifted completely. It went from a light airy fun day to being pushed in a hole and trying desperately to pull ourselves out. Even as I write this I fully expect for some people to still not understand the situation or get the impact such a simple conversation had on us as couple but I did it wrecked our day.

I’ll be the first man to admit I am not the perfect husband even though I try so hard to be. When my wife first told me why she was sad I minimized the situation. I told her she was reading into the comment and to not take it so personal. I thought about what I said and realized that’s not what she needed from me as her husband. In fact I didn’t need to say a thing I just needed to be present and let her know I am there for her. All she wanted me to do was to hold her. That’s exactly what I did after we got home and it helped but as I mentioned before I am not the perfect husband but I am man enough to admit that I am a work in progress. There are times when I question if I am enough for my wife and if she deserves better. I have certain tendencies and tones I take and they are not always pleasant but I am working so hard on that because she deserves that. And guys listen very carefully with what I say next. When speaking to your wife or your daughter  or son it’s not always what you say that matters it’s how you say it. For me this is my area I have to work on to be a better husband. My wife and I have been through hell and after this surgery she is still healing emotionally so now more than ever I need to keep my tone in check and be there for her no matter what. This is the overall theme of this post though how words can hurt people even when you don’t intend them to. Everyone has their own shit going on for lack of better words so next time you judge or don’t get why someone is upset take a step back and think about what they could possibly be facing in their life. Know it may not have anything to do with you that they are just going through a hard time. Be there for them and don’t try to solve or fix just be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on because for us that’s all we want from our support system.

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The Beginning of the End…

It’s been a little less than one month since I had my hysterectomy where the surgeon intended to take only my uterus. Instead, he was forced to take my uterus, cervix, right ovary and Fallopian tube. Needless to say when I woke up and gained consciousness, I was a little taken aback by all that needed to be removed due to my endometriosis. According to my surgeon (no one else saw it), my right ovary was “indiscernible”; no one understood my pain or took the time to understand it. No one except this man. This wonderful man whose bedside manner is something to be commended. He reassured me and hugged me more times than I could have ever imagined. His staff was caring and compassionate and to put the cherry on the sundae that was this experience, he sent me roses during my recovery.

I’m blessed to have had such a great support team, from the doctors and nurses at Mercy Medical Center who took such good care of me and tended to me overnight, to my husband and my mom who never left my side for three weeks during and after surgery. My husband even slept on those awful hospital couches just to be with me. I’m one lucky lady. My mom, who I can’t thank enough for taking three weeks off from her own job to be with me and take care of me, Steffan and our furry family. My school family who called, texted, sent flowers, cards, Meal Train dinners to help lighten our load and focus on healing and taking over my classes; you are all wonderful and I’m proud to call myself a Clipper. My in-laws who came to visit and bring dinner to cheer me up and visit. There are too many friends to list, but your gifts and time meant the world. Lastly to a woman who, despite her own medical issues, took time to think of me and my classes and won a contest and gave my kids the money. Twenty years of knowing this wonderful lady and not seeing her in almost ten, and she still thinks of me. I am lucky.

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There is always a flip-side to the positives. This has not been an easy journey. Surgical pain sucks. Knowing my childbearing years are officially over sucks when all I see are baby announcements. I try to be happy, but it’s a challenge sometimes. I am truly grateful for the people who show empathy for what Steffan and I have dealt with in regards to our infertility; you are our family. Therapy is helping. I’m learning techniques to keep from crying when it gets overwhelming; to put it into the words of Carrie Underwood, “This mountain is just a grain of sand.” Maybe mine isn’t that small, but I know this “mountain” is something I can climb over with time and support.

I’m learning to be kind to myself, which is incredibly difficult because I hold myself to such a high standard that when I am not perfect, I feel like I have failed. Kindness takes a LOT of breathing and patience, but I will get better at it.

Honestly, the hard part comes now. Surgery is over. Healing is underway. It’s time to take on the biggest journey of our lives and we’re ready. We’ve been ready. I know, because I’m nesting the heck out of my home, despite the chagrin of my hubs. Let the adoption process begin! We’re giving ourselves until June to reunite as husband and wife and grow in our love again and heal from this monstrous minefield.( “Dancing in the Minefields”by Andrew Peterson)

We can’t wait to have a child of our own; someone to dress and play with and spoil with love. Our turn is here. Our wedding song talked about “the beginning of the end starts with the words ‘I do'”. Well here is another beginning of the end, and this one is just as wonderful as our first one nearly four years ago. So here we go, time to get ready for another glorious minefield!

If anyone has suggestions for agencies or adoption lawyers, please leave your comments below! Thanks!

~Trenae

It’s Time to be Dealt a Good Hand Now

It’s 4:32 am as I sit alone in my bed and write this. This is my new sleep schedule. Go to bed at whatever time, be it 8 pm or 12 am and wake up somewhere between 3 and 4 am.

I’m a little over one week post-op and to say it’s been hard has been an understatement. I was doing great at the beginning; sitting downstairs with my family; and I even walked to get the mail, which is a huge accomplishment two days post surgery if you have A – been through this or B – seen my driveway.

After about day 4 is when things started to go downhill. I couldn’t do as much and I started to feel like a burden to my husband and my mom. They were doing everything; when you can’t lift more than 5 pounds, it’s excruciating painful because that’s less than my purse. They basically had to help me get dressed, make me food, help me into and out of bed and take care of my babies…my dogs. One who is now going through IVDD treatments because he hurt his spine and I can barely touch him, let alone hold him and it’s killing me inside.

I’m sorry if this is a rant, but I’m sleep deprived and a very independent woman. To not be able to put on my own socks is mortifying, but I know it’s in the best interest of my healing. I am crying a little right now as I write this because it’s so painful…that and coughing / sneezing.

My poor husband has been a rock through all of this and he’s starting to show signs of hairline cracks and I know it’s because of me. That alone is making me feel guilty. Not to mention the fact that now it is permanent: no baby. The uterus, ovary, Fallopian tubes, and cervix made sure of that. I helped it by falling three days ago and took a lovely trip to the ER where nothing was done…literally, not even an IV or any monitor when I got there. You go hospital*. You go.

*Not the same one as the surgery.

The finality of it all is setting in and it’s starting to break me down. I hear stories from women about how sorry they are for me; they had this two, but luckily they had a kid or two before…please, if you read this, comment about being in my situation: I have none. Zip, zero, zilch. No one yet to call me mommy, to draw me a picture or make me something god-awful in art class out of macaroni. My mom still has everything I ever made.

I guess my ex was right: I’m not a good “breeder”, nor will I ever be, but thank goodness I found someone who actually loves me for good times and in bad, sickness and in health. I got lucky that way.

Therapy is helping. Meditation is helping. But is it too much to ask that I be allowed to heal physically and mentally? Because this is harder than I ever imagined. I know my family, friends and colleagues are on my side and I appreciate that so much. But this is a solitary process if you don’t know what it’s like. I got a phone call from my first boyfriend’s mom, a woman I’ve known almost 20 years now, and she thought of me when she won a contest. She emailed my husband after surgery. She is a wonderful woman; compassionate and thoughtful. She made me smile and gave me the courage to keep fighting without being ostentatious. Thank you friend.

I think over the last 4 years I’ve been dealt my fair share of crappy cards. Can I please be dealt a good hand? I’m ready for the next steps…mine and tiny little ones that cause massive amounts of destruction, chaos and cuteness….and for once, ones without four feet.

The Big Reveal

The story is the same for most people: meet, fall in love, get married, and have a baby. Steffan and I did the first three without batting an eye lash. It was like something out of a fairy tale. We met walking our dogs, we were married exactly two years and two days from our first date. Our three dogs were in the wedding as our flower girl and ring bearers (his, her, theirs). It was almost too perfect for us to believe.

Then came to honeymoon. It was picture perfect. We lounged in the Dominican sun in June where we ate, swam and had the time of our lives.

When we got home, reality set it. Our first fertility appointment was four days after we landed back in the states…talk about taking the bull by the horns. My husband has always claimed a sense of intuition about people, life situations, locations, you name it. He had a gut feeling we needed to start our process right away and I’m glad we did. If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you know a natural pregnancy or birth is not in the cards for us, and both of us carry a little bit of weight in that “problem”.

We’re at that stage in our lives where all of our friends and family are getting married and/or having babies.  We weren’t ready for everyone to know…we gave that tongue-and-cheek answer to the question, “When are you going to have a child?” with, “Oh you know…whenever it’s meant to be, it’ll happen…” and hope the conversation would just fade away.

Facebook feeds would make me want to cry some days. All I saw were babies. Pregnancy announcements that went all the way from cake with pink or blue inside to “reveals” that were more elaborate than my proposal. Newborn photo shoots that were adorable but also made me ache with a sense of loss. On a rare occasion it filled me with a sense of such debilitating sadness that I would just cry on Steffan’s chest until he was covered with tears and sometimes snot. I couldn’t breathe enough to tell him even why I was sad. He would just come home from work and BOOM, blindsided by a hysterical wife! (Welcome home, honey!) Being the ever-so-supportive man that he is, he always talked me off my ledge and we got through it those small trials together; whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?

Then there are the actual phone calls we would get from friends or family. Let me just preface this with a disclaimer: a phone call about being pregnant to a couple who cannot get pregnant can be WILDLY uncomfortable if you aren’t careful. I’ll give you an example. We got a text from our friends saying they had some news they wanted to share with us; already we were suspicious…we kind of had an idea, that text was the equivalent of the “We need to talk” text between a couple. They called us on speaker and actually asked if we were sitting down. We were. From our friend, E, we heard, “We wanted to tell you something important, but we really aren’t sure how to tell you.” From our friend, R, we heard, “We love you and we want you to be happy for us, but we understand if this is difficult to hear.” At that point, Steffan jumped in and said, “You’re pregnant!” They both responded yes, but said, “There’s more…” and a sonogram picture comes through on text message…we see two fetuses. TWINS! Oh my goodness, we about lost it, we were so excited for them, I think we were all crying. They said they were nervous to tell us because they didn’t know how we would react. To anyone who reads this, I will say this: be honest, but be thoughtful. Any infertile couple  (well, most — I won’t generalize too much), wants desperately to be happy for you, but it’s hard. You can do something we can’t. You can experience something we can’t. Especially you women. So if the least you can do is be gentle when you tell us, you will have no idea how much pain you will save us in the long run, because when it comes down to it, for a moment in time, you hold our happiness for the day, week, possibly even month in your hand. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to this couple for how they handled telling us. We will be forever grateful, because you acknowledged our situation delicately and we could not have been more happy for you.

Steffan and I have also ended up on the other side of the phone, one that doesn’t end with joy but with sadness, and not by the person’s choice. She was just so excited that she couldn’t help but blurt out about her pregnancy, “We’re pregnant and we weren’t even trying!” We were in the car and I started to silently sob. No harm was intended by this slip; it was just pure excitement and joy; why wouldn’t it be? She was pregnant and wanted to share the good news, but I think she forgot who she was talking to, a couple who doesn’t have it easy and no matter how much trying we do, and will never have the same result she does. And we’re reminded of this fact every month with a “gift” of disappointment.  It took a while to recover from that call.

One of the hardest things are actual baby showers. Knowing that checking the mail and getting an invitation any day brings about a sense  of anxiety. In the past three years, I have only been able to go to one and it is honestly because I can’t sit there without feeling the tears well up in my eyes. A pregnant woman has a glow about her; that is something I will never experience. The one I went to was for a dear friend of my husband and if I’m being candid I cried the entire way home and spent the rest of the day in bed.

I write this post, not as a “woe me” or feel bad for me post. It’s meant to help people understand the reality of so many people in this situation. If we don’t seem happy for you, or we can’t make it to your shower, it’s not that we don’t care or are being selfish and childish. It’s simply our way of protecting ourselves and our emotional states. We still love you, we still want to see you, your child and your family happy, healthy and thriving! We’re just grieving some things we will never have in a traditional sense. It doesn’t negate the fact that we’re excited for you, it’s just difficult to show it.

~Trenae

The Five Stages

After taking some time to think about the devastating news I received from the Urologist I felt like I went through the stages of grief. Denial hit me first and hit me hard. There was no way my doctor of all people got it wrong. Not after the countless times I showed him at my physicals the lumps during exams and he continued to tell me it was normal. Not after
I asked him if the pain would go away and he told me yes. It isn’t real I do not have, not one but two varicoceles. I don’t, I don’t, I cant be. I will father a child this will all go away and I’ll wake up from this horrid dream. Except I didn’t, this dream was my new reality. Then I get to Bargaining. What could I have done to prevent this?Should I at 17 have known to get a second opinion? Should I have been more persistent on telling him I wanted answers? What did I do to deserve this? Of course none of these would have changed anything but I just had to wonder. Maybe if I had pushed harder things would be different for me. Maybe I would be looking into eyes right now that looked like a mirror image of mine. Maybe I wouldn’t be going back to the Urologist to determine my options. I would be at my sons first pediatrician check up. I feel myself drowning in my own thoughts of what if and what could have been that I start to sink into that’s right folks the third stage of grief, the one you don’t wish on your enemy; Depression. At first I just thought this is okay I’m just sad it will go away I can handle this on my own. I didn’t even tell Trenae I was getting in my car each morning and crying to my first appointment of the day almost every day. Because “Guys” don’t do that. We are taught as young boys not to cry that it’s for sissys so I didn’t show anyone my true feelings. The complete desperation of wanting to be a father and realizing its not in the cards for me. I remember sitting at the dinner table with Trenae and her saying to me “what’s going on with you, you’re different, you have smiled in weeks.” It was at that moment I couldn’t hide my depression anymore I remember unraveling like a piece of tattered fabric in front of my wife. I remember crying to the point I felt like I couldn’t breath or get the words out to tell her my heart hurt. I couldn’t tell her that ever since I was a teenager the one thing I knew I would be good at was being a dad and now it’s gone. She just sat there holding me, asking me why I didn’t come to her and tell her I was struggling. I remember saying I thought I could handle this on my own and then she reminded me you don’t have to do that anymore we are married. We are partners through the good and the bad, and this is the bad right now. I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because i now had permission that it was okay not to be the “strong one.” I stayed in this stage for about a month or two before I moved onto the next stage. The stage that makes you miserable to be around; Anger. Anger is where I remained the longest. In fact its been the last couple of months that  I would say I have moved out of anger. I was angry at my doctor, I was angry at anyone able to have a child, I was angry at myself, honestly I was angry at the world. Angry because I felt like I had been robbed from a dream I had for so long. My anger turned into rage when one of my fertility doctors looked at the sonogram of my testes when I was 17 and said it’s plain as day here that you had a varicocele ten years ago. My anger wanted justice. Let me preface this with I am not the type of person to sue just to sue, but I struggled with this because I felt like it was my only option. I didn’t want to sue for me other than to at least cover the cost of adoption because really who had $40,000 sitting around I wanted to sue to protect other patients from going down this path. Which crazy enough my little brother would be example one of the same doctor misdiagnosing.  I contacted multiple different lawyers to find out what my options were. Each one heard my case and told me there was nothing that could be done. The statute of limitations had expired because it was ten years ago, but I hadn’t found out I was misdiagnosed until 2013 how could this be?? Well that didn’t make anything better it just fueled my anger even more. What had I done in my life to deserve this? Why am I being punished like this? He took my right to have a child for crying out loud you mean to tell me there is nothing that can be done about it. This man shouldn’t be allowed to practice because now not one but two patients have had the same issue and their in the same family. So how many others are out there? UGGGHHHH See I am getting mad just reliving this. Shhhew deep breath…..The thing that I learned at about this point is that you don’t just go through each stage of grief one by one and once you completed one level you never take a step back. When grieving you feel all five steps multiple times and all together. After a long battle with anger fighting depression I stumble and when I say stumble I truly mean it. I’m talking trip and fall into mud and then fall into feathers stumble into Acceptance. Acceptance and I are still new acquaintances and yes acquaintances because there are still and probably always will be times where I take steps backward. Anyone with Infertility and grief in general will understand that.  Acceptance came from two solid years of counseling like heavy counseling. Not many men are willing to do that but when you are hit with life as hard as I was you have no choice. Counseling helped me realize that none of this was or is in my control. Which try telling that to a type a personality and that’s a LARGE A there folks is really difficult.It was after multiple books, multiple sessions and support from family and friends that I realized I am not supposed to have a biological child. I realize now that my child is out there somewhere who knows maybe they are even being born as I type this. I just have to hope that someday and hopefully someday soon we will meet…..