Breathe In, Breathe Out

I’m Okay. August 30, 2018

Filed under: My posts — elanaalfred @ 8:37 pm

As my previous post mentioned, we were given the green light to start IVF six months after completion of radiation. In December 2017, Eamonn had a procedure to extract his sperm so half of our babies were frozen and ready to go. We wasted no time getting the other half.

 

At some point I will share more information as to why we are doing IVF and its link to CF, but that’s for another day. For now, I want to share our experience to-date starting in December 2017, without much detail but just to catch you up.

 

IVFIn December I started birth control. Yes, that’s right. I had never been on birth control before, but to start the process of making a baby I was on it for three weeks (it has to do with regulating my hormones and getting me on a schedule). The first cycle started with the egg retrieval and all that came with that. Long story short, they got 16 good lookin’ eggs from me, and I didn’t feel a thing (during the procedure)! Of those 16 eggs, 11 were fertilized with a sperm and all 11 made it to day 3. That’s a lot so we were quite thrilled.

 

Pause here for science–some patients are transferred (the day they put the embryo in your uterus, not implantation) on day 3, and some on day 5. It is the amount of days that the embryo has grown in the petri-dish and the doctor decides based on the full picture scenario what is best. Our embryos are day 3 transfers. Again, another time I can explain the why as far as I understand, but I don’t really think much about it.

 

Okay, back to us. Our first embryo was transferred on Saturday, January 13th. About two weeks later, on January 29th, we got a positive pregnancy test. Unfortunately, without getting into much detail right now, we had a miscarriage very early on. Needless to say, it was devastating.

 

To keep the story somewhat shorter, since that first IVF fresh cycle (the embryos were not frozen), we have had two more failed frozen cycles, with negative pregnancy tests. With each cycle, the routine of it has become more and more “comfortable” and familiar, but the emotions have never waned.

 

You know how almost every interaction starts with, “hey, how are you?”? Well for the past month, especially, I have dreaded that question. I hate lying, but I’m certainly not going to respond with, “well, since you asked, I can’t get pregnant and I’m heartbroken.” Instead, my best response is, “I’m okay,” because, I am okay.

 

The past 8 months have been hard. No, wood is hard. A penis gets hard. The past 8 months have been challenging, emotional, excruciating, and painful. But they have also been full of love. Eamonn and I have gotten even closer as a couple, and we are determined to build our family, including Rolo of course (for now he is loving being king of the castle). We are fully aware that when we do have a baby, it will be our little blessing and miracle, and we cannot wait.

 

Well, there it is in a very quick nutshell. I have so much more to share about the experience of IVF, the emotional side and the sciency side. What I want to say now though, is this– without our families, immediate and extended, and friends, we would be lost. I feel like I don’t say it enough and yet I sound like a broken record, we cannot possibly be surrounded by better people. We have not shared openly about this with too many people, but for those whom we have, thank you from the core of our beings.

 

I especially want to thank my “mentor,” you know who you are. I am extremely lucky to have someone very close in my life who has gone through her own IVF journey, who can relate to what I’m going through. She has been over-the-top present for both me and Eamonn, including meeting me at the hospital with me at 7am the day of my egg retrieval so that Eamonn could take Rolo to the vet because he was throwing up blood (it was quite the saga). I wouldn’t know what to do without her so thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

If you’re out there and going through a similar story, and want or need someone to talk to, I’m here. We all have to be here for each other.

 

I’m Back!

Filed under: My posts — elanaalfred @ 8:25 pm

HELLO Friends! It’s been a while, specifically since May 17, 2014.Erunnung


A lot has happened in the past four years, which you likely know if you follow me on social media but here’s a very quick recap:

  • In May 2014, we adopted our little fur baby, Rolo. He is the center of our universe.
  • In May 2015, I received my Masters in Public Administration from Northeastern University.
  • Eamonn received a double lung transplant on October 30, 2015!
  • In July 2016 we bought a house!
  • In February 2017 we had a fabulous vacation in Greece!
  • In May 2018, Eamonn received his Masters in Education Leadership from BC.
  • Together we have ran multiple races including 5ks, 10ks, a 10-miler, and a couple half marathons (mostly to Eamonn’s credit)
  • We welcomed 2 more nephews and 2 more nieces into our families (making a total of 14)!


We have most definitely had a fair share of fun, exciting, happy memories, but that’s not to say that there weren’t any bumps along the way. It’s taken me some time to process all that has happened in the past few years, and it is still a process, but I am ready to share more of our story.


In March 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 0, non-invasive breast cancer. It was a shocking moment but I was and will continue to be forever grateful that it was caught when it was. A lot of people ask how it was found so I’ll tell you, because it has a lot to do with why I’m starting to open up again.


In September 2015, I had my first mammogram to be extra sure that something I was feeling was nothing to be concerned about. All was fine. Fast forward to February 2017, at my regular annual check-up, my doctor felt a little something and wanted me to have another mammogram and ultrasound given the previous concerns. The results showed that there was growth of cells in one area in my right breast, so I had a follow-up appointment with a breast specialist and was going to have another mammogram in six months.


Simultaneously, in early March 2017, Eamonn and I had met with our fertility doctor, with whom we had actually met with for the first time in June 2015, with a plan to start IVF the following year (we will get back to this another time). The breast specialist saw that we had met with a fertility doctor just a couple days before I was meeting with her, and recommended that if there was any chance we could be pregnant in six months and not able to have a follow-up mammogram, then to have complete closure on all of this, I should have a biopsy to test the exact area of concern. On March 16th I had the biopsy, and on March 17th she called me with the results. All I can say is that when a doctor starts a conversation with “we have some very surprising news…you have stage 0 breast cancer,” you never forget it and it does change you.


In April 2017 I had a lumpectomy and in May I started my four weeks of radiation. Throughout the process, there was one major question looming over us, which was how long will we have to wait to start the fertility process. Part of the medical plan is that I have to go on tamoxifen for five years, during which I cannot be or get pregnant. It was to be determined if my oncologist was comfortable with me going through a pregnancy before starting to take it, or if she’d want me to be on it for a couple of years and hold off on our family planning. Needless to say, waiting for the team of doctors to make that decision gave me a lot of anxiety, but in the end they gave us the green light to start IVF six months after I completed radiation.


When Eamonn and I stopped to think about the series of events that had to take place when they did, we were so grateful because it could have turned into a lot worse. Our gratitude even extends to CF because without that, I would not be doing IVF to get pregnant, and there would not have been a red flag for my doctor to take extra precaution.


WHEW, okay, that was a long story. I hope I didn’t bore you.


This blog was originated to celebrate mine and Eamonn’s life together, with CF. Even after his transplant, CF is still a factor in our lives, it always will be, but it is not at the center of our universe, thank goodness. But if you did the math, the focus of our lives has shifted to trying to build our family, and I am choosing to share our experience with all of you.


I want to start off by saying that even as I write this, I am nervous and hesitant to share our story with the worldwide web. I am opening myself to a level of vulnerability of which I am unfamiliar. I know some of what I share may make some people uncomfortable but I really hope it doesn’t. At the end of the day, I am hoping that our story may be a lesson to some, a resource for others, and be a very small part of ending the stigma that comes with talking openly about fertility challenges that so many people experience.


Lastly but most importantly, I want to express my gratitude and love for Eamonn. We have been through a lot together in our eleven years as a couple, and you continue to amaze me as the human being that you are. My strength and resilience is because of you. Thank you for knowing what to say when or even nothing at all, for giving me hugs that make me feel safe when I feel like I’m drowning, and for loving me unconditionally even when my hormones turn me into a beast. You are what makes all of this so worth it. I love you an infinite amount.


With that, welcome to our family planning journey…