Tug of War

To say that it has been a long time since we have written is an understatement. We have had so much on our plate it hasn’t only been difficult to find time to sit down and gather our thoughts but we haven’t even been making dinner. I think in the past month I’ve maybe cooked like twice. For those of you that know me know that this isn’t ordinary considering cooking is a strong passion of mine. Let’s pick up where I believe we left off….

We were in Annapolis finding out answers for my beautiful wife as she had been suffering for almost six months. Well She was finally placed in the right hands or shall I say back in the right hands of our current surgeon. He previously did a surgery for Trenae years ago that provided her with relief for quite some time until her endometriosis had progressed. For the past two years my wife has been made to believe it was “all in her head” by several very respectful doctors because they couldn’t see the issue on your run of the mill tests. Blood work showed nothing, CT showed nothing, and internal sonograms showed nothing. It wasn’t until this past week that we truly found out what was wrong. Now granted as Rumpelstiltskin says everything comes with a price and for us it was the price of my wifes uterus, Fallopian tubes and her right ovary. I will not say it came at the price of us having children because that is simply not true and a very negative way to think of things. This price was one My wife and I were willing to pay and had I known this is where we would be today I would have encouraged her to have this done years ago. What was found during the surgery was that after two different doctors told her she didn’t have endometriosis our surgeon said her right ovary was covered in it and removed it with her request. Every other month for as long as I can remember my wife would have excruciating pain associated with her menses and on December 27th we found out why.

For months I have watched my wife fade as a lighter version of the woman I fell in love with because of this awful health condition. She became more anxious than ever, angry about many different things, and just over all very sad. Honestly who could blame her. I can’t say with an honest voice I would have handled it anywhere near as well as she has. She is one of the strongest people I know. But when I tell you what happened simply two hours out of surgery I knew we made the right decision even in spite of all the anxiety the build up of the surgey caused. My mother in law and I went back to see my wife. Now at this point she was in the recovery room lined up with multiple other patients in recovery. When you walk in you get hit with a very distinct smell that i associate with hospitals. One that doesn’t bring back memories that i enjoy. In fact at one point I had to step away from my wife because I felt like i was going to get sick. But I digress what happened when I saw her is I saw her again. She had that sparkle back in her eyes. The one I hadn’t seen in months and possibly a year. Two hours after surgery she had humor back and was making jokes about her surgery. As dumb as it sounds I walked away not only because I was nauseated from the familiar smell but because I was choked up. I had my wife back. I always knew she was still in there and I would get glimmers of her from time to time but this was the real deal.

One day after surgery she was up walking and laughing again, and while she was in surgical pain, the pain that she lived with in her heart had gone away. Now I am not going to sit here and say it will never come back but this surgery provided us with closure. It allowed us to let go of control and realize that sometimes we don’t get to make all the decisions. It allowed us to set our sights on what it is we have been yearning for these past four years and that’s to be parents. I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow or that adopting is going to be a piece of cake either but what i am saying is that we will have a child and they will be ours forever. If you’ve read my past posts you’ve heard me talk about  riding on a rollercoaster that never stops. Well I can finally say it has stopped for us and we are buying new tickets on our ride that has an end and its one that leads to becoming a family of three.

Trenae was discharged the day after her hysterectomy and we headed back home. Now before we went up to surgery our beloved long-haired mini dachshund had injured his back. He seemed like he was improving the couple of days we were home, but then we get back and his back legs weren’t working very well. In fact they were dragging at certain points. Is this where I began to feel very overwhelmed. I had my wife who was recovering and now my dog who we are thinking is paralyzed in the back legs. I called our breeder to find out what she suggested to do, and she gave me the contact info of this amazing veterinarian that does physical therapy, acupuncture and multiple other modes of therapy. I called and made an appointment right away and we were to be seen two hours after I hung up. We go in and this place is like the Ritz of vet offices. I mean not a speck of dust or dog hair on the floors. They take Walter and I back and assess him and determine that it is either a bulging disc or herniated disc. She suggests two options one is surgery and the other is a culmination of different therapies. She goes over the pros and cons of both and makes some calls to get me an estimate of what the surgery will cost. Now keep in mind we are a day of being home when all of this is occurring. So you can imagine the level of stress in our  household because our dogs are our children. She comes back and says Mr. Webster the estimate for surgery is going to be between 12 and 15 thousand dollars for Walter and they can take him today. Now my first thought was how can I make this happen because my wife and I love this little dog with all our hearts, and then my second is how the hell are we going to afford this when trying to adopt and everything else that has hit us in 2016. She suggested calling our breeder and seeing what she would recommend. She recommended the multiple therapy route. So Walter has been “lasered” and given a gamete of meds and he is walking again. He will be crated for weeks possibly months to regain his strength and allow his disc to move back into place.

I literally do not know how we would be standing without my mother in law here helping us or our friends that have brought us food and visited with my wife and I. I am in this strange tug of war right now with a sense of relief but also a sense of being very overwhelmed. In the end it will all work out however it is supposed to but I would love nothing more just to be able to enjoy my wifes recovery with her and to have our little Walter snuggled up next to us in bed again. Only time will tell whats in store but for now I must go to bed because tomorrow is a big day for me….. I turn 30. It’s insane to think I am that young and have experienced all these different things in life already. Good night all and stay tuned for whats up for us next…

-Steffan

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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

Mark James-Edition 2

Our blog thus far has been about our struggles and story of our infertility and our way to adoption, but today of all days I can’t just write about that. Today of all days is different….It’s the day I lost my Father in Law. A man that will never know we ever had struggles, a man that missed our wedding day, a man that loved his family to endth degree, a man that will always be missed. This day will forever be engrained in my mind “August 17.” I remember that morning it starting out as a semi normal day. Semi Normal because my soon to be bride was in Pittsburgh with her parents in ICU where her dad was currently residing. Trenae’s Dad had Polycystic kidney disease also known as PKD. He was going in for a biopsy of some sort to see about getting a kidney transplant. when they did that they nicked his colon and he became septic. I remember working down by the beaches that day and my phone rang. It was Trenae sobbing, I could barely make out what she was saying. She told me “you need to come up here now, get here as soon as you can.” I was disoriented because for a while we thought Mark might come out of this and make a recovery however I knew the last couple days had not been the greatest. I got off the phone with my then fiancé and started heading back home as fast as I could without getting pulled over. I made sure our three dogs would be taken care of and threw some clothes in a bag. It was at this point that it hit me; Do I need to pack a suit incase…… well incase Mark passed. I threw one in my bag just for safe measure having no idea what to expect. Keep in mind Pittsburgh is not just like a two hour drive from where we live its more like seven. Seven long hours in the car that felt like an eternity.  I called my parents to let them know what was going on and they tried to calm me down because at that point I was frantic I wasn’t going to make in time. They told me to take my time and to get there safely and that it will be ok. I tired my hardest to believe these words “It’ll be okay” but they just didn’t seem to be real to me. I recall being two hours in to the drive and I get another call from Trenae. She tells me that they have found a justice of the peace that is willing to marry us in the ICU so her dad could be present. I sat quietly when she said that because I had hoped it wouldn’t get to that point at least not yet. I wasn’t ready to say good bye to my father in law. Our relationship had just begun. We had to many things to do together before he could leave us. I was going to learn how to hunt and go out with the guys after thanksgiving and sit in the tree stand. He needed to be there to walk Trenae down the aisle and dance with her to “Butterfly Kisses” on our wedding day. It was too soon it couldn’t happen yet we weren’t ready. After what felt like an eternity of silence I pulled myself together and said ok honey that works we can get married in the ICU. I called my parents to let them know this was a possibility and of course they were supportive of it. Half way through the trip it dawned on me I never called my boss to let her know that I was going to be taking the day off and for that matter a couple days possibly. I made her aware of what could possibly be the worse case scenario, and she told me that’s fine but I want to make you aware that we don’t have bereavement at this company so you’ll have to take personal time (This company only gave two weeks of personal time and I was already close to the end). I said to her that’s fine I will do whatever I need to do my family comes before this job because to me that’s all that it was, was a job. Come to find out (after a call to HR) we most certainly had a bereavement policy and she didn’t want me out of the field because I was ranked number one n the country and making her a lot of money at the time. Needless to say this lead me to quit and find another job because she had no regard for me, my fiancé, or her family and what we were going through. Two hours left on the drive and I start to get sleepy and feel myself doze. I turned the air conditioning all the way up and my music to the max. This didn’t help. Luckily my co-worker and very close friend Suzanne called me to see what she could do to help and I told her just stay on the phone with me. It was like 10pm at this point and she told me she would stay on the phone until I got there. I remember telling her that’s two hours from now and she said two hours of my life to a friend is nothing ill be with you the rest of the way. Suzanne was my guardian angel that night because without her on the phone with me I fear that I wouldn’t have made it because I have fallen asleep at the wheel before. I pull into the hospital parking lot at midnight  and my brother in law peter comes to meet me in the garage. Peter was so young, too young to be losing his dad. He was at the impressionable age of sixteen years old. He came up to me hugged me and I could feel him put all his weight on me and just cry. I tried to console him but what do you say that will take away the pain. I walk up to the ICU and see my bride to be; bags under her eyes from lack of sleep and the look of pure sadness on her face that the time had come. After a couple hours of being there they make the decision to take Mark off the ventilator because he had told my Mother in law he didn’t want to be kept alive by machines. The doctor came and told us all to go and say our goodbyes. I walked in there and saw him laying in his gown. He still looked like the same man that I had asked eight months before if I could have his permission for his daughters hand in marriage. The same man that asked me what were my goals in life? to which I replied to own my own business and he said wrong… It’s to make your wife happy. I said naturally that was my first answer I was just testing you. The same man that told me if I hurt his little girl they had a lot of land and no one would find my body. I went in to Mark’s room and said my goodbyes. I promised him while sobbing I would always take care of Trenae and love her the way he loved Annette. I promised him to do my best to look out for Peter and to help Annette when I can. I remember leaving that room and feeling cheated. Cheated out of a relationship with my father in law, Cheated out of seeing him cry on our wedding day, cheated from seeing him hold our child someday and cheated for him to see us grow as a couple. So as you see I couldn’t just write today about our struggles with infertility because we struggle as everyone does with more. We grieve every minute of every day not being able to have a child but we also grieve not having you around Mark James Egan.

-Steffan