Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thoughts before Choosing a Donor

So I know I said that my next post would be about choosing a donor, but I feel like before I delve into that, I need to go into a little more detail about my diagnosis. I realize that there are many people who still don't fully understand why we are not trying other options to get pregnant using my eggs. I just want to address that before I talk about choosing a donor.

Premature ovarian failure, which is pretty much what I have and affects only 1% of the female population, can be hard to grasp.  I am young and healthy and I think when I say I will be going through menopause in a few years, people tend to think I'm exaggerating. I wish that were the case. But the truth is that my ovaries are failing. They will stop working completely. I will stop having a period, which if I'm looking at the positive, will be pretty nice. No more worrying about periods on vacation! There is no drug that will help with this situation. Something I did not know before all of this is that a women is born with all the eggs she will ever have. Once they are gone, there is no getting them back. And you can't have a baby without eggs. When I saw that ultrasound I didn't understand, but when I got home and did some research it was very clear how severe my situation is. I am not going to have a baby that is genetically mine. Period. End of story. It was a huge blow.

I know that may seem like I am being negative or pessimistic and believe me I've been accused of it, but I don't think of it like that. I honestly feel like we are lucky in a way. Now let me explain that. Infertility is hard. It can be an incredibly long process. Some couples literally spend years trying to get pregnant before they are told that nothing is working and they should consider donor eggs. Imagine going to the Dr. and being given some drug and told to take it, chart your temperature, have sex at a certain time, and come back in 3 months if it doesn't work. Then in 3 months when still nothing is happening going back and having the Dr. up the dosage and having to do it all again. How frustrating and heartbreaking! These couples spend years, and thousands of dollars and all they get is failure. And more than the time and money is the emotional toll infertility can have on a person. These situations truly test a relationship and there are couples who do not make it through. I really could go on and on, but I won't. The point is we are lucky in that we don't have to go through all of that. We were told right up front that our option, if I wanted to experience child birth, was donor egg IVF. And while that was shocking and came out of nowhere, at least we know. We don't have to spend years of failed fertility treatments to get to that point.

I will tell you that our Dr. gave us the option of doing IVF using my own eggs. So now you are saying, "Well why aren't you doing it?" There are a couple reasons why. First being that it won't work. The success rates are absolutely horrible for someone with  my diagnosis. And I know, absolutely know, in my heart that our first child/children will not be genetically mine. I can't explain it, I just know, we both do. Second is that it is extremely expensive. The Dr. told us that we could do it more for peace of mind, to say that we at least tried it, so we would be able to move on. We don't have the money to spend on "peace of mind." Third, without going into too much detail, is that women with premature ovarian failure often test positive for the Fragile X gene mutation. This means that if it did work with my own eggs there is a possibility that we could have a child with Fragile X syndrome, which is a form of mental retardation. After we talked about everything we came to the conclusion that we were going to skip all of that and go straight for what has the highest success rate, which is donor egg.

I want to end with the fact that I know miracles happen. I pray for one all the time. But I also know that sometimes things don't work the way we planned and it ends up being better. We are both extremely excited about what we have ahead of us. We have already started the donor picking process and I promise the next post will really be about choosing a donor.

Stay tuned!

~Tonya

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some Good News

Hi all! I feel like it's been a long time since my last blog. I have been a busy girl. I wish I had more time to devote to my blog, but at least until the end of the year it comes second to school. I will have my Bachelor's degree in December! It's always been one of my goals so I'm happy that I've been able to accomplish it. Now if I only knew what I wanted to be when I grow up...

Anyway, since my last blog I do have some good news. No, I'm not pregnant if that's what you're thinking. I wish it were that easy. My first bit of good news is that my thyroid levels are normal. Now you're probably reading this and thinking, "Well I didn't know you had a thyroid problem. Did she tell us she had a thyroid problem?" No, I did not share that news in my previous posts. I try to keep my medical problems to one per every three posts. Not really, but sometimes it feels like I have so much wrong with me and I figured the egg situation was the big one. Now on to the thyroid situation...
When we first went to the RE (reproductive endocrinologist) for our infertility workup I had to have a bunch of blood work done. Well it tuned out that along with my lack of eggs, I also had hypothyroidism. Our RE told us that he would not treat us until my thyroid levels were in the normal range. Of course he couldn't do anything for the thyroid so I had to make an appointment with a regular endocrinologist. Let me tell you, finding a good endocrinologist that doesn't have a waiting list a half a year long was not easy. I ended up still having to wait 3 months before I even got an appointment. Once the time finally came for my appointment the Dr. took more blood work, and did an ultrasound of my thyroid. She said everything looked good and luckily my thyroid levels were not that far from normal. She gave me some thyroid medicine and said that she thought it would only take 6 weeks to get my numbers where they needed to be. Well on May 31st I got the good news that my thyroid levels are normal! Yay!

It's been 5 months since our appointment with the RE and almost 7 months since that fateful ultrasound. I've had alot of time to come to terms with our diagnosis. I think being forced to wait gave us both some time to just let it all sink in and honestly to sort of forget about it all. Not that we ever truly forgot about it, but we couldn't do anything, so we didn't feel like we needed to make any decisions. But now that we are not waiting on anything I feel kind of excited, nervous and overwhelmed. We have alot of stuff to talk about now and alot of important decisions to make. Choosing a donor is a huge decision. One that will impact us for the rest of our lives. One that I will discuss further in my next post.

Now for my second bit of good news. I was asked by Resolve to write an article about my experience with the Walk of Hope for their fall newsletter! This made me tremendously happy. I really feel like I've come a long way in the 7 months since finding all of this out. It's sort of weird, but I've found a passion. Never in my life did I think I would feel so passionate over something like infertility, but I do. Don't get me wrong, this has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life, but I don't think I would take it back. This has changed us. I believe it has made our relationship so much stronger. So I feel proud that Resolve has asked me to write this article. I hope that it is the first of many. I also hope that I can take this passion and do something to help others who are struggling with infertility.

That's all my good news for now. I will leave you all with some beautiful pictures that Ryan took while we were on vacation last week in Colorado. It was a very relaxing vacation. Something that I think we both needed. Enjoy!













~Tonya

Stay tuned for my next post on choosing a donor.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"You can always adopt"

I hate that phrase. Ok, so maybe hate is a strong word. I dislike greatly that phrase or anything similar. Now before you think I'm some horrible person who doesn't like adoption, let me clarify. I think adoption is wonderful. There are many children out there who need loving homes and many couples out there who would love to have those children. Adoption is an absolutely great thing for many people. I don't hate or dislike adoption.

So now that we're clear on that, lets get back to why I dislike the phrase, "Well you can always adopt."

When I was a little girl all I ever wanted to be was a mom. I loved babies. I never had any career goals, my goals were always focused around having babies. I loved them so much that my first job and the next 4 after it where in daycares. It was perfect! I could get my baby fix everyday at work.

When I met Ryan I was 23 and when we got married I was 25. Based on my previous statements, you would think that we would have jumped right into the baby making, but we weren't ready. We both felt very strongly about being married for a couple years before we had kids. And even knowing all that we know now, I still don't think we would change that decision. But we couldn't wait to have babies together. I was so excited to be pregnant. To have our child growing inside of me. Pregnancy is a miracle and I wanted to experience it.

From the moment I met Ryan I knew that he would be an amazing dad. We even had names all picked out for when we children. It's human nature. You fall in love with someone, get married and then you have babies. That's all I've ever wanted. You know it's more than just raising kids with someone. It's that basic need to procreate. When you find that person you want to spend your life with, you start to picture what your children will look like. Will she look like me? Will he have his athletic abilities? These are things people think about when they start trying to have a baby. And after you have the baby, you pull out all the old baby pictures and everyone oohs and aahs over how much the baby looks like you or him. I wanted that, we wanted that. We are not going to get that.

Sorry if you are now crying, but I tell you all that to maybe help you slightly understand some of what I think about. The emotional toll of infertility is a very hard thing to convey. Unless you have been told that you will not be able to have a baby the same way everyone else does, then you just don't understand. You can't.

So when I finally started to tell people that we were struggling with infertility and the response I got from some people was, "Well you can always adopt" it made me want to scream. Of course I didn't and most people who said that to me or Ryan were trying to be encouraging and truly do care about us. But for us, telling us to adopt was like saying, "Well it's really no big deal that you can't have your own baby. You can always just go adopt someone else's." It can feel like one of the most dismissive comments, like people just don't care. Our lives are in turmoil. We are trying to come to terms with this huge life changing situation and the only thing someone can say is that there is always adoption?

The truth is that people don't know what to say. Infertility can be a very uncomfortable topic for people. And honestly I'm going through it and still don't know what the right thing to say is half the time. I do know that if you have anybody in your life going through infertility, do not bring up adoption. Wait until they bring it up. I've mentioned before that infertility is a grieving process. You can't be told that you can't have a baby and then go, ok cool well I'll just adopt. It doesn't work that way. It takes some couples years to come to that decision. Plus adoption is not that easy. It can be just as expensive as infertility treatments. As of now we have no interest in adoption and I don't feel at all bad about that. We may never want to adopt and that's ok too.

So to bring it back around. I dislike that phrase but I think adoption can be great. Just don't tell us to do it. Tell us that you are thinking about us, or praying for us. Tell us it sucks and that you are sorry that we are going through this. Act normal around us. If you have a question about infertility, just ask. I've been pretty open about all of this so if you want to know something I'll tell you.

Lastly and then I promise I'm done. If you have told us to adopt, please don't worry about it. This is new for all of us. We don't hold anything against anyone. The point of this blog is to educate people, not make people feel bad for something they may or may not have said. We have been blessed with many very supportive people in our lives and we love you all!

~Tonya

For more info about what not to say to someone struggling with infertility go here.