Monday, April 29, 2013

Some Musings

So I've been thinking about some things recently.  Excuse me as I blurb all this out on the page to try and organize my thoughts.

I've noticed that in the female community, there is sometimes this artificial dividing line that women set up in their social connections (sometimes, mind you, not all the time).  It is the line between the Fertile Women and the Women Who Deal with Infertility.  And while I completely understand that it is natural for women to gravitate toward those who share their life experiences, it doesn't necessarily have to be this way.

Maybe one of the reasons why it is sometimes this way is because we pretend that there is a specific reason for the different situations in life that people have to go through. Like when someone I knew found out we've been at this for two years and their response was:  Oh, that happened to us too.  But it was a good thing, because we really weren't ready for kids. One day you'll be ready too.

Well.  Hm.  What they said might have been 100% true.  But I don't know if this is the most helpful way to respond to someone not being able to have a baby.  Let me explain.  For the first, oh, I don't know, 9ish months or so after we first started trying, finding out that we weren't expecting month after month made me feel really down on myself.  Getting that stinkin' negative is always going to be painful and just plain crappy, for a lot of reasons.  But one of the things that bothered me is that I wondered if it wasn't happening for us because Heavenly Father didn't think I would be a good mom.  I must not be as deserving as all the people around me who were having kids quickly and easily.

That's a pretty painful thought.

And it isn't true.

I have tried a thousand ways to be able to explain what I mean here.  And this is the only way I can think of to say it: God knows what's best, and He's in control. It is not useful to understand my life by the blessings I do or do not receive. Heavenly Father has His own reasons for doing things.  Sometimes He withholds what you are not ready for, and sometimes He withholds what you ARE ready for. By the same token, I think probably sometimes He grants what you are ready for and sometimes He grants what you are not ready for. (Yeah, you read that right.)  Basically, He knows what is best for me to help me reach my full potential.  And He certainly does not divvy out babies based on who He loves the best and who is the most awesome and who is the most mature. In His eyes, there is no "This kind of woman who can get pregnant" and "This kind of woman who can't get pregnant." There is just me, and what Heavenly Father has planned for me.  It is completely ridiculous to judge myself and my experiences in context of what is going on in other people's lives, because that's not how God works.

There aren't any formulas.  Yeah, there are lessons to learn with the experience that you are going through.  And it's very beneficial to seek out companionship with those who know what you feel like. But one of the first lessons I learned in going through infertility (and it probably works just as well for those going through  fertility) is that I CAN'T compare myself and my experiences to other people. None of that!  Just look at it as if Heavenly Father deals with you and what you need alone, without any respect or regard for what He is asking someone else to go through.  Because, in fact, He is capable of focusing on me as if I were the only person in the world.

The other reason I think we sometimes put up that fake dividing line between women is we don't understand what they are going through.  Maybe this is sort of the opposite of the scenario described above, where we compare ourselves to others.  Maybe sometimes we realize we CAN'T compare ourselves to others and it freaks us out.  So we shy away from that person, because we don't know how to react or what to say to them.  It's funny how both of the extremes end badly, isn't it?

So here is my contribution.  There are people out there who don't know what's it like to try for a long time for baby, or what's it like to lose a baby.  Here is how it affects me:

1) Today I had to give myself progesterone, even though it makes me throw up and it makes my hair fall out in absolute clumps.  Also I took a prenatal vitamin (it feels a little futile at times.  I am on my third ginormous bottle of those things.  And no baby).

2) I put together a baby present for someone I know.  It was hard.  It was hard because I'm happy for her, but I want what she has.  And I feel guilty for that.

3) I cleaned out the sink drain in my bathroom.  A few days ago we cleaned out our shower drain.  This is because of the aforementioned issue with my hair and the roller coaster of hormone crap, all part of our recent treatment efforts to have a baby.  I find my hair everywhere because it just falls out.  It doesn't really bug me that much except for it's gross.  Meh, hair grows back.  And it's not like I have a creepy bald spot or anything.  But, it is hard because this is what happened to me when my progesterone levels dropped after we had a miscarriage.  And that makes me remember.  And that makes me sad.

4) I didn't work today.  Wanna know why?  I quit my job.  Yeah.  I had a good job, but we decided it might help to get pregnant if I didn't work.  It was a really hard decision.  But at this point, we'll do anything.

5) And to end, here's a blessing we experienced:  On Friday night we went to the adult session of Stake Conference.  On the way home we blasted We are Young by FUN on the radio, rolled down the windows, and made a run to Sonic for half-off shakes (Yeah, half-off the whole summer.  You're welcome).  And it crossed my mind, we couldn't do this with a baby.

Not that I would have asked for this.  Not that I wouldn't have a baby at the drop of a hat if I had the chance.  But Maria says, When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.  Wisdom from Rogers and Hammerstein.  And that's where I will end this monstrosity of a post and call it a day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Floridians. For Six Months.

So for any of you who don't know, my awesome husband Greg (also known as Goyito and Sir Gregory) is doing an internship with Johnson and Johnson here in Jacksonville.  His degree is in finance with emphasis in international business.  So basically we gallivant around the country so he can have a lot of awesome experience before polishing off his degree.  I never thought we'd live anywhere like Florida, because I was born and raised in Arizona and Greg is from Idaho.  That being said, we really have loved our time here.  I am especially grateful because I feel like this is where we are supposed to be right now as we try to have kids.  We found a clinic with doctors who are aggressive in treating infertility, but also safe and smart.  And the part for me that means so much is that the doctors here understand how we have trusted in our Heavenly Father throughout this whole thing, and they trust in Him too.  That's awesome.

Anyways. One of our first excursions was to St. Augustine, where we toured the Castillo de San Marcos.  This is an area that was mainly colonized by the Spanish, which was especially cool for Greg because he lived for two years in Madrid doing missionary work and service for our church.

The view of the bay was lovely!

A few weeks later we took a ferry to Amelia Island, which was pretty dang awesome.  Our car floated across a river.  How cool is that?

If you are ever in Amelia Island, go to a little dive called T-Ray's.  It's in the gas station.  Yeah.  But it is SO GOOD.  And the awesome guy who runs it owns stock in the Green Bay Packers.  So what's not to love?

We also took a little trip to Savannah, Georgia, on a rainy Saturday.  The architecture in the historic district is really incredible. But my favorite part of the visit was sitting in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Ever since I had the chance to visit Salzburg and Vienna a few years ago, I have loved the spirit in these beautiful buildings.

We have also been to the Orlando Temple.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this place is important to us.

Once on the way back from Orlando, we stopped at Blue Springs National Park.  I know this is what you've been waiting for:


GATORS.  THERE ARE GATORS HERE.  And also manatees, but we did not see any of those.  Dangit.

I would be very remiss if I did not mention our trip to Spring Training in Tampa awhile back.  So if you know Greg--or any of the Zollinger boys, for that matter--you know that they like the Yankees.  Okay, they LOVE the Yankees.  It's actually more of a Ridiculous Yankee Obsession.  But I happen to be a phenomenal wife.  So even though it was about 10 degrees outside, we waited for autographs for about 5 hours and then watched 9 innings of joyful baseball.  Those are legit Yankee players, my friends.

Greg was pretty much in heaven.  Because let's face it.  Any stadium that bears the Yankee name IS pretty much heaven.  

So that's just a few of the Zollinger Florida Chronicles.  But here is one of my favorite pictures from the last few weeks, and it was actually taken in Provo: 

Welcome to the world, Ellie Maria Nelson!  This is my newest niece with my Baby Sister.  (Yes, Lauren.  I will always call you that.) 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

News and Happy Places

First of all, I'd like to say that I was overwhelmed with the response on our last post.  Thank you for the kind words and prayers.  I am so grateful we have so many wonderful people in our lives who love us. We are so very blessed.  That being said, I felt and heard from many people that it is good to talk about these things.  So let's keep talking about it.  

So today Greg and I went to our Family Happy Place.  We don't go out to eat very often.  Let's face it, we're too poor for that. But you know what? Sometimes you just need a juicy double-patty with BBQ sauce.  And also free peanuts and fries that were made from potatoes grown in Sugar City, Idaho.

I had every intention that my next blog post would be something along the lines of "The Awesome Stuff Greg and I Have Been Doing in Florida Instead of Moping Around Because We're Not Pregnant." I've done plenty of moping in the last two years.  And sometimes, you mope.  And that's fine.  But then you learn to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and find happiness even when you don't have the things that you want.  I'm glad that God has given me the opportunity to find the strength to do that.

But, instead of that post, I would like to write about some news we got today.

This month I've done the maximum dose allowed for Femara.  I went in today for like the 650th ultrasound in the last 3 months to see if it had worked.  I had every expectation that it did.

It didn't.

And I'm not allowed to take anymore.

What that means for us is that another IUI is not even an option for this month.  At least not right now.  Nobody knows why I'm not responding the way that most women do.  Apparently I have just about the most stubborn ovaries EVER.  (Which actually might not be that surprising for those who know me best).

There are some additional, more dramatic (and also more expensive) options we could do to try to ensure I start ovulating on my own.  We're going to go with those.  But what if those don't work?  That's a valid question at this point.

Well, maybe I'm supposed to go to grad school.  Maybe we need to move on with our lives and take a break.  To be honest, I'll never move on.  I'll never stop wanting this.  I'll never quit missing the two children who I never got to see.  I want to be a Mom. And I am a Mom.  But I want to be a Mom who has her children. I have wanted this as long as I can remember.  But if I know anything, it is that Heavenly Father directs my life.  Things will turn out best if they turn out in His way.

So that's our news for this week.  It's kinda bad news. But eventually, they've gotta run out of bad news, right?  Everything will be Okay.  We have Five Guys, after all.  Also, stay tuned for that promised post on our lovely excursions in the Sunshine State.  Here's a peek:

Yeah.  We go to the beach quite a bit.  Also a Family Happy Place of ours.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The "Failed" Attempt

I know this is only my second post.  But get ready for a DOOZY.  (I know no one reads this.  I am going to act like people do.  Mmkay?)

So a little while ago, someone asked us (in a Sunday school class) when our baby was due.
First of all, I don't look pregnant.  That I'm sure of.  I think he just knew we had been married for about 2 1/2 years, and therefore, we must be having a baby sometime soon.

A little before that, I was told that I really wasn't focusing on the spiritual things I should be focusing on, because we do not have any kids yet.  (This from a very good man in our ward who I serve with in my calling as a ward missionary, and who I love.  He was a member of the Temple Presidency in Nova Scotia, and once he knew about our past experience, he was very sweet and understanding).

Before THAT, another sweet lady in my ward asked where my daughters were.  I told her we did not have any children.  She gave me a knowing look and told me I was smart.

No, not smart. Just unlucky.

So, I do NOT want this post to be a woe-is-me downer.  But I have decided that infertility and miscarriage are things that need to be more publicly acknowledged and understood.  Many times I have wished that there was somewhere I could go to just know that we are not alone, and not the only ones going through this, especially when it seems that most people I know don't struggle with infertility or miscarriage (I am aware that probably is not the case). Also, I will be honest--sometimes I just want to talk about this stuff with other people.  It would be nice to just get it off my chest a little.

So here is our story. 

We tried for eleven months to get pregnant.  And we were actively trying.  Contrary to what a few women who lived around me assumed, it was not for lack of trying that nothing was happening.  Trying to get pregnant is terrible.  It wears on you.  It brings up a lot of emotional things that are difficult for a woman to deal with, and a couple to deal with.  I realized how close Greg and I really were when we went through this.

We eventually did find out we were pregnant.  I bought gender-neutral clothes.  I sewed a blanket.  I cried and cried because I was so happy that the exhausting experience of trying to conceive was finally over, and I wanted my baby so much.

At the first appointment, Greg had to work, so I went in alone to see my baby on the ultrasound screen.  And there were two sacs!  The next thing I knew the obgyn was asking me if twins ran in my family.

And then, the next thing I knew, she was explaining how one sac did not show the fetal pole, and she couldn't pick up a heartbeat, and etc and etc.  I was told to start taking progesterone and come back a week later. On the drive home I called Greg and bawled into the phone.

We did lose those two babies.  I won't write about how I felt, what I prayed for. I'll just say I never miscarried on my own.  I had to have a D and C in a surgery center on the day I would have been 11 weeks.  I did gain a lot of comfort at this time.  I know my Heavenly Father was holding my hand through all of it. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I was being shielded from the worst of it.

I was told that because I had naturally conceived twins, I was SUPER FERTILE.  Um.  Are you sure? I said.  Oh, yes.  We are sure. That was 10 months ago.  That being said, I know there are many women who have waited longer than I have.  Much longer.  Let me say that my heart truly breaks for you.  My husband and I keep you in our prayers.  I am sorry.  I think that one of the things I have gained from this experience is the ability to be more compassionate.  And I know it might not help, but I really am sorry.

Anyway....this post keeps getting longer.....just read a little more. 

So in January we went to a place called Brown Fertility here in Florida.  We did a bunch of awkward tests (one of which was the most painful thing I have ever experienced IN MY LIFE.  Totally worth it though).  I was diagnosed with a mild form of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. (It actually affects as many as 6-10% of women of child-bearing age). I had realized a while before that I didn't ovulate consistently, and now I knew why.

So last month, we went ALL OUT on fertility treatment options.  I took a low dose of femara, an ovulation drug.  When the low dose didn't work, we doubled it.  I personally injected an Ovidrel hcg trigger shot into my stomach to ensure I released an egg.  We did an IUI. (Yeah, I didn't know what it was either.  It's pretty awesome though.  Check the link to read about the awesomeness.)  Because I've had a miscarriage before, I took progesterone again.  The progesterone had side effects...pretty much, I felt pregnant. It was like last time.  And I knew.  I just KNEW that this would be the month.  We would be successful.  I loved the people at Brown Fertility, and Greg and I both felt that God had led us to Jacksonville, Florida, so we could have this chance.

And yesterday, our results came back.

Not pregnant.

Failed attempt.

Oh.  It hurt. But we picked ourselves up.  We are good at that now.  We watched General Conference for our church.  I may or may not have bawled through parts of it.  But we are Okay.  We will try again (as soon as I can get the excess progesterone out of my system).

Again, I know no one is reading this.  Maybe I have written out our saga as a means of coping.  Maybe I just feel driven to let someone else know that everything will be Okay.  It doesn't feel like it now.  I know it is the hardest thing you have ever gone through.  I know you are angry and absolutely broken.  At least, I was.  But things do get a little easier in some ways.  It is never totally alright, and it's perfectly fine to be sad, but I have realized I am a stronger person and truly capable of doing whatever it is that Heavenly Father asks me to do.  There is power in that.  It is not the power I asked for at the beginning of this.  No, I wanted the power to conceive naturally and quickly and keep my babies.  But I am happy I have become better.  And that's all.  I hope maybe someone who needs it will stumble across this and know they are not alone.  There are people with "failed attempts." But we will get through it together, and with God.