Monday, June 1, 2015

A Change of Heart

It's been quite a long time since I've posted anything. Last update was about the loss of our precious twins. We still miss them and think about them everyday. Now that we are in June we are constantly thinking about the fact that our babies should be here any day. 

After we lost the twins, we had to test the hormones out of my system every week until they were back to zero. It took a little over a month. Eventually, they were at 4.5 which is in the negative rage (anything under 5), but the doctors still wanted to test one more time to make sure it was exactly zero. Well, a week later I had my bloodwork done again and it came back at a 7. As far as I knew your hormones can't actually raise unless you're pregnant so I immediately freaked out. The nurses and my doctor all assured me that when the hormones are that low, they tend to fluctuate. It was absolutely nothing. 
Well two days later, the hormones were up to 34. Somehow, while my body still had the pregnancy hormone in me, I became pregnant again. For most of the time we were pregnant we tried so hard not to even acknowledge the pregnancy because we didn't want to be heartbroken once again. Wishful thinking. One night while I was organizing our bathroom closet I sunk down to the floor hyperventilating and sobbing. I was terrified of losing another one of my babies and as much as I didn't even want to achnowledge the pregnancy, in my heart I was hoping more and more every day that this baby would make it. This could be our gift. I will be forever grateful for one of my closest friends who I was able to text and cry out to that night. She prayed for me and offered me a sense of comfort that I wasn't able to feel anywhere else. We lost our fifth baby at about 6 weeks. 
It's ironic.... when what you want more than anything in the world is a baby, yet when you are pregnant your strongest emotion is fear. 

After that miscarriage we once again tested the horomones back to zero. Then we went ahead with another IUI. Failed. 

After month after month of negativity, we stopped everything and just prayed to God to lead us in the right direction to be able to grow our family. If you (and many of you have) asked us 6 months ago if we would ever adopt our response would have been maybe in 10 years if we're still at this. It would be a last resort because my heart was NOT in that place. At all. We too badly wanted our "own" baby.  We prayed so hard on what to do next. For Him to lead us down the right path. So we were at church one Sunday and I just knew. God spoke to my heart and made me realize that any baby placed into our arms would be "our own" and we would love them the same, regardless of where they came from. And so we began the discussion of adoption. 

I met with a former teacher and friend to discuss their journey with adoption and I left feeling so excited and elated! This is our next step. This is how we will grow our family.  We called probably close to 15 different agencies and decided on a well praised agency out of Buffalo. But we still needed to figure out how we were going to get approx. $30,000 to cover the costs when we have already used most of our savings and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. 

We don't want to ask people for money. This is our child and we most definitely didn't want and don't want a hand out.  So, this past weekend we decided to have a garage sale to earn some money. Needless to say, it was incredibly successful. Our best friends (Brooke and David) live in Florida and weren't able to be a part of our garage sale so Brooke took it upon herself to create a gofundme page to help contribute to our garage sale.  Well we are in COMPLETE AWE and incredibly humbled by the response. We have received an outpour of love shown through so many people and the support we have received has truly brought us to tears. We want to genuinely thank every single person who has donated to both the gofundme page as well as to the garage sale.  

Last night, we were able to afford the first step of the process and fill out the application.  This is so huge. We sat our our kitchen table with tears in our eyes as we hit 'submit'. We still have a very, very long and expensive road ahead of us, but for the first time in a very long time, we are feeling so hopeful and can see Baby Gudselak in our future. Thank you, thank you for the love❤️

Monday, December 1, 2014

And then there were four...

I have pondered over whether or not to write this post for a few weeks. It isn't easy to write. Let me preface this by saying we don't want sympathy. That's not what this is about. So many people have prayed for us and we appreciate it more than you guys can ever know. Every single prayer has touched our hearts and given us comfort. It took me a year to first share our story and since then I have strived to raise awareness about PCOS, infertility, and child loss. 

 I want to share this update to our story to let everyone know why we needed prayers and what has been going on. I have only waited a few weeks this time which makes it a little more raw and a little more difficult. Bear with me if this seems poorly written... I haven't completely come to terms yet and I don't have the strength to pretend like it is okay. Again- please don't think this is a request for sympathy, just trying to uphold my promise of updates for those following our story. 

In October we began our fourth IUI cycle. For those not familiar with what that is, the easiest way for me to describe it is "the turkey bastor method" of getting pregnant. It involves a lot of medication to help produce an egg before the procedure and to help maintain the potential pregnancy from the moment of conception. We have had three failed IUI's already and a lot of doctors will recommend that after three you move on to invitro because the chance of an IUI working statistically drops after the third try. 

Well, we defied that statistic and fell pregnant on our fourth try. 
We were estatic, ellated, filled with joy and wonder. I took two tests a day just to see that second line get darker and darker.. 
(Dpiui stands for Days Past IUI. #1was taken every morning, #2, each afternoon... I even resorted to testing at a gun raffle becuse I just wanted reassurance that I was still pregnant and that this was actually happening.) 

A few days after the positive tests I went to get my beta levels taken. My horomone level was 95... I was officially very pregnant. Every 48 hours that number will double in a healthy pregnancy and this is where we began to get nervous because our first two pregnancies never had doubling numbers.  So by that Friday, we should have been around 200.... The level came back at 340... An EXTREMELY healthy pregnancy!! We were due on July 7th. 

A week later we went to our first ultrasound. Our horomone level should have been around 5,000... It was over 13,000. That's when we learned why I had such high levels... 

TWINS. Not only did our fourth IUI get us pregnant... It got us pregnant with twins. Two babies. Two healthy babies were growing inside of me. 
 We laughed, we cried, God answered our prayers way more than we could have ever imagined. With such fantastic numbers the fertility clinic began preparing to graduate us to my normal obgyn so that we could continue on like a normal, healthy pregnancy. 

A week later we went for our next ultrasound. The most amazing thing in the world to see your two little sesame seeds growing. 

Both babies measured exactly where they should have. We were able to see fetal poles as well as the yolk sac. For the   most part things seemed right on track. 

 But, this is also where some concern began. At this time they should have began to see a flutter of heartbeats on both babies but they weren't able to see them.  We were told that it may have been just a little too early.  I had also developed blood and fluid in my uterus which concerned the doctor, but we were told that it may not be anything to worry about. Because of the medication I developed OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) and I had a very large cyst on my left ovary. The cyst was actually larger than the ovary itself. Again, nothing too concerning as this is  relatively common. We just had to wait it out for it to go away on its own. If it ruptured or torsioned then we would have to rush to the ER and that would become pretty dangerous. By the end of the appointment we were told to be "causiously optimistic," I was put on bed rest, and we were asked to come back in three days. At that time we would definitely be able to see heartbeats on those precious babies. 

So began a time of prayer. Day in, day out prayer. 

On Monday morning I had the utmost confidance that we would see those little flickers... I felt great, I felt incredibly pregnant in fact so I knew the hormones were rising.  With twins people often start showing at 8 weeks pregnant and I definitely had a little something (most likely attributed to a bloat bump mixed with the enlarged ovary and constipation) going on. 

So off we went to our appointment. 
This is the hard part so excuse my lack of detail. 

We lost the babies. They had stopped growing, there was no heartbeat for either one. The blood/fluid in my uterus had increased even more. My hormones were rising but they had stopped doubling like they should have. 

The rest, as they say, is history. A bad history. It goes without saying that we are beyond devastated... We've cried.. A lot. Four days later we traveled to Syracuse for a D&C. I was put under anesthesia, had a 25 minute procedure where they were also able to drain the cyst. The babies are being tested to see if they can figure out what went wrong. We should have answers later this week. We do know that the Luteal Phase Defect is what most likely caused this miscarriage.  

I have spent the last two weeks emotionally blocked off. I can go about my day and pretend that everything is okay. But usually, at least once a day, I break down, just a little bit...sometimes a lot...  
In our mid-twenties, after two and a half years of marriage, we have four children in heaven. Four babies that we won't know. Four little angels whose birthday won't get celebrated, who we won't get to hold, who we will spend the rest of our lives wondering about. 

That's our story. There's nothing more right now. 
The love and support that has been extended to us in the last few weeks has been so touching and over whelming. Thank you to EVERYONE who has reached out, sent cards, or other things. This is the week that I planned to announce our pregnancy on Facebook and it seems fitting that I share this with you now.  
So again, thank you for the prayers. ❤️

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19- Day of Hope

Today is August 19- A Day of Hope. 

Today is a day of rememberance and hope for the babies and children that have gone too soon. It's a day to speak up and break the silence about Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. It is a day of healing for all of those who have been affected. Today we grow stronger on our journey and with hope; we grieve for the little ones we love and lost.

If you are new to our story I encourage you to look back and read my previous posts.

This past weekend I had a deep and in depth conversation with my Grandma about how difficult our struggle is. We talked about how I feel guilty for not being over the loss of our babies and how I was so depressed after. She shared with me that she had five miscarriages while her and my Grandpa were trying to grow their family. I had no idea. Even though we're going back around 50 years, and that she has 5 kids, 11 grandchildren, and 3 (almost 5) great grandchildren, she said she is still saddened by the loss of her other 5 from time to time.  

After talking to her I realize that grief never fully leaves us, we just find a way to cope with it. It has been a year since we have lost both of our babies and although I find that I can still wake up and smile from day to day, not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened or wonder who they are.  On this Day of Hope, I pray that any mother who has experienced this loss can find some comfort in knowing that one day we will meet these angels again.  I know that I personally have days where I am perfectly happy and looking to the future, and I have days where the sight of a pregnant belly, a walk by Buy Buy Baby, or a baby being pushed in a stroller tears at my heart and causes the green jealousy monster to break loose. 

If you get a chance today, google August 19, Day of Hope. We are trying to spread awareness and break the silence over what so many people are holding in their hearts. The loss of a child is never easy but as a strong community we can offer support and find the courage to know that everything will be okay. We stay strong and keep going because we have to. But support and love from the people in our lives makes all the difference in the world.

Say a prayer for those grieving today. And whether you're an angel mommy, daddy, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, know that those angel babies are with us always and we will see them again some day.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Patience is a Virtue

/' p─üSHens/

1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Let's be honest for a second; Is there anyone in the world who has mastered the art of being patient all the time?  Probably not. I can tell you that over the last year and a half my "patience" has been tested more than it has my whole life. The whole process of ttc will test anyone's, will it not? Whether you get pregnant your first month trying or it takes you eight years... You still have the ever-dreaded two week wait where you do everything from mentally convince yourself that you have morning sickness, sore boobs, and a full blown baby belly, to googling statistics, figure out what your due date is going to be, stopping alcohol consumption, and begin picking out furniture and baby names. All of these things, of course fueled by excitement, are most likely just acts to keep yourself occupied while you're waiting month after month to find out if you've got your BFP. 
I'm sure this isn't the same for everyone, but I know that this is how the first year of my journey went. In fact I can tell you what we are going to name our children, what color the nurserys will be, what style clothes they will wear, and what products I will use. Thank you Pinterest. (Yes, I am aware that almost all of them will change when the time comes, please don't mistake my optimism for naivety.) :) 

So this brings me to my next point...over the last few weeks I have heard the term, "Just be patient" probably close to twenty times. And every time I respond with a smile accompanied by, "oh, I am!" Or, "I'm trying!" Which is true... I am definitely trying to be and most of the time I am very patient.  And as always, the encouragement and support is what keeps me going with a level head; so thank you. 
But after another conversation recently where it was said, "Why are [Nikki and Jon] in such a hurry to have a baby? This fertility stuff is just unnecessary. If they're just patient then it will happen!" I was a little taken aback. 

My first reaction was to just get upset and and vent to my husband about how some people just don't understand.  "How can someone say that? I have an illness that without medical assistance, makes it extremely difficult (though not impossible) to get pregnant, and that makes it impossible to support a pregnancy meaning we will lose every child we conceive. Of course this fertility stuff is necessary." 
So that really got my wheels turning. In my case, no, patience will not get me pregnant nor support the growth of our babies. Unfortunately, I do need assistance. Undergoing fertility treatments is not about us "rushing" to get pregnant like we are on a tight schedule... It's the next step in order for us to start our family- and it is necessary. 

The Google definition of the word patient basically tells me that I should be able to just wait out this whole process until I am pregnant without getting upset. Okay... If that's the case, then I guess I'm NOT as patient as I thought. Every single BFN that I get causes me to get a little upset. Okay, I'm totally lying.. I'm devistated all over again. It's like I'm back at square one and the imaginary baby in my imaginary womb from the two weeks previous is gone and I just feel helpless. Slightly melodramatic, I know. But I swear that for us women ttc, especially those in a long term battle, that's how it feels sometimes. So basically me getting upset is an understatement which by definition means I'm not taking everyone's advice and being patient. 
But, I have tried to only allow myself a day or two each month to be upset and brought down. Then I pick myself back up with a smile on my face... Hold my husbands hand real tight... And try again. And every month I allow myself to brainstorm middle names and to search for cute announcement ideas for when we DO become pregnant.

So does it make me impatient to want to have a baby now? Or rather that I am seeking help to make it possible? Or that I get upset when another month comes and goes without success and that i get sad? 

Maybe there's more to having patience than just sitting back and waiting without getting upset... maybe the idea of being patient has more to do with looking at the good around you while you are forced to wait for something.  Being able to still enjoy marriage and the simplicity of it just being two of us.  Being able to go on date night at the drop of a hat and knowing that that wont last forever.  Deciding (right after renewing a year-long lease) that it was time to buy a house and having to sublet our apartment so we can buy one.  And doing it!  
Maybe the idea of being patient is really just going about your life in the most positive way you can... Allowing yourself time to be sad and upset... But picking yourself back up and finding the good in life. 

Just some food for thought. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Have a baby," they said... "It's easy," they said...

So we are well into our infertility journey and we are holding up... but this little blog entry isn't about our progress, it's about our experiences throughout this process.

You get married. People start asking you when you are going to have kids.  You start to get "the fever."  You get anxious. You decide to start. You get excited. One month goes by. Not pregnant. Confused. Two months. Nothing. Frustrated. You Google it. Oh, elevate my hips? Skip a day?  Track my ovulation? Take supplements? Have HIM take them? Confident. Three months goes by. It didn't work. Worried. A few more months go by. You are pregnant! Ecstatic.  You don't believe it. Shocked.  Genuinely happy.  You miscarry.  Blame yourself.  Broken. Sad. Devastated. You pick yourself up. Everything happens for a reason, right? Get pregnant again. Happy. Terrified. You miscarry again. Heartbroken. There's something wrong with me. Why is God doing this? It's not fair. Can I try again? Am I strong enough? Yes. I have a great support system. Stronger. Let's tackle this.  Doctor's appointment. One diagnosis. Sad. Fertility clinic. More diagnosis'. Very down. Assured. It can happen.

And then there are the doctors appointments... 
Blood work every other day.. Ultrasounds 
Every other day.. IVs.. Good news.. Bad news.. Your legs up in the air while 2 or 3 different people waltz around the room like its nothing. Not to mention $20/visit for a co-pay which adds up to between $60-$100 a week. And of course it doesn't help that you are reminded weekly that you are on the "recurrent pregnancy loss program." Because there is nothing I enjoy more than being reminded constantly of the BABIES that I will never know and that are waiting for me in heaven..... 

And of course the doctor puts you on medicine. Which is the understatement of the year.  8 pills a day that cause you nausea, fatigue, hot flashes, and multiple other ANNOYING side effects. A gel every morning- I'm not even going to touch on that unpleasantness.  And shots every night in my stomach that feel equivalent of wasp or hornet stings and leave my stomach looking like a swollen, purple, pin cushion. 

And of course... The dreaded and un-preventable two week wait where you don't want to get your hopes up... But you literally can not help but have hope.. Just to be let down.

That all being said... This is NOT meant to be a pity post. I am not looking for people to say, "I'm so sorry." Because honestly, I'm not sorry. I am choosing this path. It sucks. I can't sugar coat that... But, there are thousands of women that are going through this every day, all over the world. We support each other. We complain about how hard it is. We want to give up one day and want to go full force the next. At the end of the day, we just want a baby. We want a child. We want our family to grow. We want to watch our husbands love someone so fiercely that it makes us fall in love with him all over again.  We want to look at the miracle of life made from the best parts of ourselves and the best parts of the one we love. It's what we want. And we choose to take this journey. 

The most important thing is having support. So I guess the whole point I'm tying to make is that more than anything, women and couples going through this experience need support. We need to know we are not alone. And we need to know that whether it takes 12 months or 12 years, the finish-line will make it all worth it. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby steps to get a Baby

A little bit every day. 
Since opening up about our fertility issues, I have been so much more comfortable.  The amount of support my husband and I have received it so surprising and overwhelming... And we thank you. I have had friends and even family open up to me and share what they have gone through and for the first time in the last year, I don't feel alone. 

Yesterday, UPS dropped off a box filled with the medication I'll need to start taking. When I was first told about the PCOS I was so overwhelmed that I maybe heard about 25% of what the doctors said and I'm pretty sure that the medication was part of what I blocked out. Well, I probably should have listened!! The box contained needles, syringes, gels, pills, little bottles, big bottles, and a Sharps Disposal box. I pulled everything out and had absolutely no clue where to go from there. My husband being the most amazing man in the world pulled his humor into it and started googling the medications to figure out what they're for and labeling them with hysterical post-it notes so I know what to take, how to take it, and what it's for. 

He really is God sent.
With this tough time we're beginning to realize that you can let this process engulf you in negativity, or you can laugh.  Not every day, in fact, two days ago I pulled out my collection of baby stuff for the first time since my last miscarriage and I just held it, looked at it all, and moped. Everyone has the right to a little self pity. But making fun of the situation is making it livable, it's helping us to accept it, and hopefully stopping the "when are having babies?!" constant reminder of our struggle. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First comes Love, then comes Marriage, then comes.. infertility apparently?

I've been a little absent lately.. and yes I know, I never finished my NeuroWater blogs.  I'll try to get to them eventually.

We've been a little preoccupied lately by our fertility issues.  For the last year I have kept to myself and been private about what my husband and I have been going through.  I've come to a point where I realize I feel comfortable enough sharing our journey and that, in fact, it may help me cope with it to share it.

We started trying to conceive about a year ago.  I was so excited when we first began TTC (trying to conceive) because in my crazy, misinformed little mind, I really thought we would be pregnant in a few months tops.  We're healthy, young, and in our prime "child-bearing years." Should be easy! I cut out all alcohol, coffee, and tea, and began a prenatal vitamins & green smoothie ritual.  After 6 months when we still weren't pregnant, I began giving up hope.  Well, go figure, at the end of that sixth month when I took my monthly pregnancy tests.. it was positive! I was completely in shock.. and over the next 24 hours took six pregnancy tests just to 'make sure.' I spent two days crying from happiness.  Well... long story short, at eight weeks along, I miscarried.  I had been being monitored and part of me knew it was coming... but that did nothing to prepare myself.  It was literally the worst feeling in the world but after a couple weeks I started to think, "Well, at least we know I CAN get pregnant..." 

Of course, the doctors told me to wait a full cycle before trying again.. and we thought we did... but apparently not well enough.  Two weeks after the miscarriage, while on a vacation, I started to have a huge lack of appetite just like I did in my first pregnancy.  For a day or two I asked some family and my husband if there was any chance I could be pregnant again after JUST loosing a baby.  It didn't seem likely so I put the thought out of my head for another two weeks.  Sure enough, I was! I found out at around 4 weeks and unfortunately miscarried only a few days after finding out.  It went from the happiest time in my life, to the most painful, back to the happiest (and scariest the second time), to a horrible feeling of hopelessness and utter loss.

About six months later I had my first appointment at the fertility clinic.  After two hours, an ultra sound, lots of conversations, and twenty vials of blood they were able to diagnose me with polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) and luteal phase defect.  Infertility was the very last thing I thought I was going to have to deal with in this process. Since then I have had some time to try to process everything that's gone on and I've begun to come to terms with everything.  Some days, I just think about how now I'm finally on the right track and between the medication and IUI procedures I should be pregnant in no time.  Most days, I just think about the fact that the two babies I lost were miracles in the fact that I was even able to conceive... and I just feel like I am the only person in the world struggling with PCOS.  

So now that my story is out... I have a few pieces of advice on how to deal with a friend or loved one who is going through something like this... 

First some things NOT to say-

"Just Relax and stop trying, it will happen"
      I feel like this is the first thing people say.. but lets think about this.. for some of us, relaxing isn't a cure.  There is something very wrong with our bodies and no amount of relaxing will change that.  As for the stop trying, well.. that defeats the whole idea of trying to get pregnant.  This whole process is difficult, we know to relax as best we can ... but it will not help us to get pregnant and maintain that pregnancy.

"It's all God's plan, it will happen when he wants it too"
      Even for the most religious of us... this isn't 100% comforting.  For me personally, I know it is his plan and I know that it will happen when its 'supposed to,' but it doesn't make it any easier.

"I know just how you feel, I went through something just like that"
      Okay, well first of all.. if you really went through PCOS then please, help me.. tell me what you did, what medications you were on, how many pregnancy's you lost, and how long it took you to have your children.  Because I am terrified and I want as many success stories as possible right now. If you had something totally different or had just one unfortunate miscarriage when you first started TTC, then you do not know just how I feel.  I have been told that I am infertile and as a woman, hearing that you cannot do what your body is made for without assistance and luck is extremely difficult.  ESPECIALLY if you don't have any fertility problems, then no, you don't know how we feel.

"It's okay, you're still young, you have lots of time to have children.. no need to rush!"
     This is by far my least favorite thing to hear.  Yes, I know my age, thank you. I know that I am young.  I also know that I am married and my husband and I both work full time, we have a house, and we as a couple have decided to start our family young.  This is 100% our decision and you telling me that we are still young is not going to change that, its just going to frustrate me even more.  From a selfish and frustrated point of view, teenagers getting pregnant is young, but they do it... so me being an adult, mature, stable, and married does not seem like an issue to me.

So here are some things that you CAN say and do to help loved ones through times like this.. 

Google It. 
     Do some research on what they are going through.  Most of the time, we can't even explain it all.. I know right now I barely understand what I have let alone being able to explain it to other people.  Maybe you'll come across some GENUINELY helpful pieces of advice that they can use specifically for their issue.  We appreciate any and all REAL advice we can get.  
Ask us.
     Some people don't want to talk about what they are going through.  I know because I was like that for quite some time... but some of us really do want to talk about it.  Don't worry, if we don't, we'll tell you.. but at least you showed some effort to understand it. Just ask. And mean it. 

If you're pregnant...
      DON'T SHY AWAY FROM US.  We are perfectly capable of being happy for you! Will we have a silently selfish phase where we are jealous because lets be honest, we are allowed  to wallow in self pity for a little while.. but at the exact same time we are so happy for you because we of all people understand how absolutely amazing it is to be expecting. Please share your exciting news with us.. because we do want to know and we will be as happy for you as anyone.. don't feel guilty.  

Just some food for thought ... until the next part of my journey..