The PTSD Pregnancy

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it’s a very real (and scary) diagnosis. It’s usually given to men and women who’ve returned from war, survived a burglary or assault, or a child with domestic violence history. As a counselor, I’m trained to look for signs of PTSD in some of my clients who’ve experienced something traumatic and sadly, I’ve recently diagnosed myself. I have PTSD regarding my pregnancy.

In hammock with boots

Many of my mom friends told me they were anxious their entire pregnancy wondering about the health of their baby. This is normal. That’s mom’s protective instincts turning on. This mom will also worry about bullies, strangers, choking hazards, her child falling, scraped knees, etc, until this child is 45 years old. Again, this is normal.

I, on the other hand, am literally TERRIFIED about pretty much everything concerning my pregnancy and I’m being forthright about this because I need my friends and family to understand why I cringe when they say, “congratulations,” or why I may seem nonchalant every now and then regarding the babies. I go back and forth between excitement and sheer terror and it may seem odd, but consider what I’ve been through.

For nearly three years I got bad news regarding my body, my health, my fertility, and my chances of EVER having children, over and over again. Sometimes it was only once a month, but often it was every two weeks, and sometimes even every day. The moment I thought I saw silver lining, I’d get shot down with something bad again. Not only was there about 5 diagnosis plagueing me and my husband as we tried to bring a baby into our family, but when we finally jumped all the hurdles, fought all the odds, and finally got pregnant (0.05% chance of successful pregnancy mind you), we lost that pregnancy shortly after.

So, when we went to the doctor and found out I had no cysts, we were given the meds we needed, I had perfect estrogen levels, I had the right amount of follicles, we were able to make each appt at the scheduled time for IUIs, and then found out we were having two babies (and both were healthy?) we were still freaked out. “Yeah, but what’s wrong?”, we thought.

Nervous with twin book-thatgirl

Of course I’m thrilled to be pregnant and having twins and I’m pleading and begging God every night to hold my babies in his hands until I can bring them into this world and love them until the bitter end, but I’m also terrified that this isn’t really it. I’m scared if I get too excited I’ll be blindsided.

What does a PTSD pregnancy look like?

  • If I wake up and I’m not sick, I fear they’ve disappeared. I’d rather feel sick so I know they’re ok.
  • I put my hand on my stomach to try to find their heartbeats every day (all day).
  • Everytime I get in my car I fear I’ll get into an accident and my stomach will hit the steering wheel just right.
  • I’ve never been scared of burglars, but now I fear someone will break into my house while my husbands gone and beat me and I’ll lose the babies. 
  • What if I get hit by a car walking in to the grocery store?
  • Baby B has a strong heartbeat, but he’s smaller, does this mean something is wrong?
  • What if they can’t get enough air during delivery and they have CP and I’ll never know their thoughts?
  • What if one twin doesn’t make it?
  • What if both twins don’t make it? 

Pregnant vail twins

Ugh! The healthy, rational person inside of me with an advanced degree in psychosocial care says I’m being ridiculous and I should be jumping for joy, but the formal infertile inside me has the wall up and is scared to fully let go until they’re in my arms. Until I can see them, hear them, hold them, I’ll fear the worse. If you’re thinking, “She needs to get some help”, you’re probably right. I do need some help.

I need everyone to hear my fears and recognize how real and valid my feelings are. I need support and constant (constant) encouragement through this pregnancy. I need a baby shower filled with friends and family who know that I’m terrified to open their gifts because the babies aren’t here yet and I’m still freaking out they won’t ever bea and that my smile is likely half terror.

I need your help until I figure this out and until my sweet babies are safely, healthily in my arms.

Stay gold Ponyboy, 

That Girl

Pregnancy stick w Peanut

“That Girl” is Preggers!

It’s been one HELL of a journey to get to this point. Lordy, what I’ve been through, but it was all worth it. In the end, I’ll have TWO (not one, but two) sweet chunks o’ love (to love and to hold) from that day forward. I used to be “that girl” who has a baby business, but no baby, but now I’m “that girl” with the baby business and twins!

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Let’s recap in case you’re new to my blog. I dated my husband for seven years prior to getting engaged so when we got married we were READY to start our family. I knew after only a few shorts months of trying that this wasn’t going to be easy. Basic blood work showed I was “fertile” and I was basically laughed out of the fertility clinic (being only 28 and all).

Six months later I was put on clomid. Double the dose. Triple the dose. Nothing happemed so we moved on to femara. Double the dose. Triple the dose. Moving on to injectables. Increase injectables. Give up hope. I had a PAINFUL HSG scan done…PAINFUL (which is not the norm unless somethings wrong although no one said anything regarding that. HSG ruled inconclusive.

Then, over a year and a half later, my fertility specialist suggested a laparoscopy to check for endometriosis. BINGO! That was definitely hindering the process. When that was removed we thought we were good to go. Then…nothing. More meds, injectables, sonograms, IUIs…nada.

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So, I switched fertility doctors. “Umm…did you know you have a uterine septum?” What the what?! For two years of seeing umpteen thouand doctors, each of whom had a guided tour of my uterus and nobody stopped to see the sights?! Welp, we scheduled that surgery pronto.

By the way, if you have surgery for a septum removal, do NOT listen to the doctor when he says you’ll be back at work on Monday unless you think you can focus on the job while simultaneously dealing with the labor-esque contractions your body goes into trying to deliver the uterine ballooon that’s being held in your uterus. If you can do that, mazel tov! Me? I was on bedrest for two weeks with my legs squeezed together and crying in the fetal position.

So, fast forward another year, thousands of dollars spent, more meds, more procedures, more injectables, more scheduled pharmaceutical trips, more doctor visits, and one TRAGIC, heart wrenching pregnancy loss. Finally comes June, 2015 when the stars finally aligned for us.

I go to the doctor for a day 3 ultrasound, no cysts. They GIVE me $1300 worth of meds that were donated. Hallelujah! Some financial relief that allowed me to move forward this time. Every day for a week I went for lab draws at 7am, sonograms at 4pm. No cysts, no damage, no hyper stimulation. Looked good! On June 7 (my 32nd birthday) we’re ready for an IUI (aka turkey baster insimination), then we did that again on June 8th. This time I had 7 follicles (ie 7 possible chances to create life), 4 of which were “very” mature, and…TWO of them decided they were ready to meet me, their mama!

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Not one, but TWO! I found out on Father’s Day that my babies were here, but last Friday it was confirmed that I had the twins I felt I had. Baby A and Baby B will be in my arms early 2016.

I know I likely have many readers struggling with infertility and I hope you don’t find this post discouraging. I hope you find it encouraging. Whenever I get concerned, I hear God’s voice saying, “Whay are you afraid? Peace, be still” Matthew 8:26

He has got your back, ladies. Turn to Him and pray for your babies. He nows when it is your turn so be patient and He will come through. 

Stay gold, Ponyboy

That Girl

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The Last Hope (almost)

If you’ve been following my “journey” (I’m effing sick of this word) this post is for you. Yes, I blog about the journey and experiences, but that doesn’t mean I like talking about it all the time. In fact, I HATE talking about it. I blog because I think there’s a crap ton of stupid stuff about infertility on the internet and damn near all of it is discouraging and not at all informative about the real experience. When I blog about infertility it’s to bring awareness to the suck-age, encourage women who are currently struggling to feel understood, and give tidbits of what I’ve learned along the way. So, please, for the love of God, STOP asking me how things are going unless you’re my best friend in the whole world and she knows who she is. She gets free reign to ask.

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So, to catch my readers up to speed…in January we decided to take a 90 day break from all things fertility. We got pregnant quickly after that, but then lost the baby weeks later. That sucked! As the 90 days came to a close and I began to get amped up for another new cycle, my friends and family asked “Why do you have to do fertility treatments if you got pregnant on your own?” and then a few followed with something infuriating like, “See, I told you once you just relaxed you’d get pregnant”. That response is infuriating because the pregnancy had ZERO to do with relaxing! I was the exact same person during those 90 days as I have been for over three years and only one pregnancy resulted, and, if you’ve been paying attention, that pregnancy did NOT result in a baby so…technically it still didn’t work.

My doctors have told me that my chances of a successful pregnancy without intervention from them are something like 0.05%. The sweet baby that I got to carry for 6 weeks earlier this year was my 0.05%, which means that I probably won’t have another one without intervention for another 3-5 years and I turned 32 on Sunday so…times a tickin’.

I started slowly though because several of my obstacles have been repaired, making it easier to conceive with minimal interventior, or so I thought. I figured I could just try the femara pills to assist ovulation since my endometriosis is gone and my septum was repaired. My body doesn’t grow mature follicles or ovulate regularly so that seemed like the most logical next step. Well, two more months of femara with no positive results only caused more stress on my marriage (femara are my “crazy bitch” pills) and more disappointment. Ugh!

So, towards the end of May I decided “this is it”. I’m going all in! I’m going to do the injectables (the big guns), the trigger shot to release the follicles on time, timed intercourse, and two IUIs (turkey baster). Holy crap! I had no idea what I was getting into financially or physically, or what the time commitment was. That was a total bitch of two weeks! This ain’t for the weak!

Day 1 of my cycle, I call in to schedule my day 3 sonogram

Day 3: base line sonogram ($205) to rule out cysts and get the meds

Injectables

Day 5-11 I gave myself a shot in the stomach of 150mg or 75mg every night. EVERY morning I had to get my labs drawn at a clinic 25 minutes away by 7:00am, and EVERY afernoon I had to get a sonogram to check my follicle growth ($200 a pop for 5 days).

Then, on Saturday they told me I had 2-3 “mature follicles” meaning those had a chance of pregnancy, but I had a few more that could result in pregnancy if they continued to grow prior to ovulating. Then (at 9am on a Saturday) we started talking about “selective reduction”. This is when you find yourself like the Octomom, with a litter of children in your belly that pose a HUGE risk to you and your babies. Selective reduction is when the doctors tell you which babies will likely be born with health issues and you opt to abort them. Let’s just say I hit my knees in prayer and cried like a damn baby hoping this was never a decision I’d have to make.

Then, more labs, more meds, all before RUSHING to the spa to relax. Anything odd about that sentence? I thought so, too. They sure don’t make this journey easy on us!

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Sunday morning we went in for our first IUI at this clinic. I’ll spare you the details but it’s pretty awkward to be walked in to the “collection room” (aka a sterile bathroom with dirty magazines) so your husband can “collect” prior to the procedure. We were laughing hysterically because that’s us, but I can imagine how for some couples how incredibly uncomfortable this part of the procedure is. Then, three hours later it’s pushed into my uterus via a catheter, past the cervix and the prayers begin. ($400 a pop…$800-1000 total)

We repeat this again the next day. It’s awkward! They carry your husband’s “sample” in a catheter/syringe with both your names on it and ask you to “identify” the sample. “Um, yup, that looks familiar”. What the hell are you supposed to say?!

Baby's first photo

I used to have trouble knowing this was how my baby(ies) was conceived, but now I know this is what needs to happen and that ultimately the decision allowing a life to result is up to God.

I’m meant to be a mom. I’m meant to have a family, and I’ll stop at nothing to meet my baby; however, I can’t financially do this cycle again until probably October. We have exhausted nearly ALL of our resources. The more times we have to do this, the harder it is. It’s a strain on ALL areas of our lives.

Please, please, please, don’t ask me about my “progress” or if we’ve heard anything yet. Just hit your knees in prayer and allow me to announce the “results” when I’m ready.

Stay gold Ponyboy, 

That Girl

It’s All Good

Wow, anytime I post about my journey it’s typically accompanied by a glass (or bottle) of cabernet and crying over my computer. Not this time! I’m finally in a really good place about this area of my life! I’m kickin’ butt emotionally, physically, financially, socially, and…maritally (is that a word?)

Cloudy and Chelsea Vail

Physically:

My husband is 6’5, 240lb and told me once that as long as I don’t ever get bigger than him, we don’t have a problem. He’s never once seen me naked and told me to cover up so…he doesn’t have a problem with my body and my problem stemmed from pure vanity. Yes, I used to be svelte, toned, and had a stomach you could balance a pencil on, but I’ve been prepping my body for growing a human for the past few years and it’s damn near impossible to keep washboard abs when you’re injecting 75-150mg of artificial hormones into yourself every day. I’m welcoming the additional 8-12lbs as a housewarming gift for my bambino.

The doctors have said to chill out on the workouts so I’ve embraced yoga a few times a week and added a daily 3.5 mile walk/run around the neighborhood. Being a twinpert and gently jiggling multiples every day and night tones the arms, too.

Financially:

I was a bit perturbed with Cloudy when he told me we needed to take a 90 day break from the fertility treatments to get back on top financially, but as it turns out, that was exactly what we needed. In that 90 days I was able to focus more on building my client base, teaching workshops, expanding my website and hosting events and I’m proud to say I paid OFF my major credit card, paid OFF 3 major medical bills, and put buckoos of mula in savings! Undergoing fertility treatments is like hooking up a funnel to your checking and savings account…you’ll watch every dollar and cent fall out into the abyss. But, taking a break helped us get back on top. Plus, my doctor gave me samples this month which saved us $1300!

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Socially:

My role with a local mom blog was replaced recently and although I was bitter about it at first, it turned out to be a HUGE blessing! I didn’t realize how stressful and draining my role with that organization was. Now, I only spend my free time with friends and family who lift me up and energize me. I think it’s crucial for infertiles to “trim the fat” in their social life and disassociate with people who drain you or cause undue stress and negativity. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

Maritally:

Not sure if this is a real word, but I’m referring to my marriage. We’re in a good place. It took a few knock-down dragout, I hate you fights, but we’ve gotten to a place of understanding and communication. We’ve moved past the grief of losing our first pregnancy and we’re in a more open place regarding our future plans. We also created a rule of, “don’t talk to Crazy”, which is the name of my alter-ego, who makes an appearance only when I’m on these fertility meds. That bitch is nuts and says really mean things to Cloudy that she can’t take back so he knows to steer clear of Crazy (and myself) once she/I start my injections.

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Emotionally:

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I might not be a mom. This doesn’t mean I’ll be childless. I have a gift for helping moms, helping kids, and helping babies. I’m an amazing aunt and I love my kid’s friends to pieces. I have a great life filled with travel, adventure, love, and lots of laughter. I won’t have lived a meaningless life without being a mom in the traditional sense. I’m more of a mom at heart than many moms I know.

I’m on the third day of injectables, I get lab work done tomorrow and a sonogram and if all goes well, we will do an IUI this month. Help me out though and PLEASE don’t ask how things are going. I still want the element of surprise if, and when, we announce a pregnancy.

Stay gold, Ponyboy!

That Girl

Chelsea vail with niece

Dear Always Hopeful

I’ve been uncomfortably honest about my journey towards motherhood and my struggles with my multiple infertility diagnosis. This, however, is not going to be about my journey. This is a letter to all the women out there who are trying to become pregnant, who have “pulled the goalie”, or who are actively hoping to conceive.

Dear Hoping to Become Pregnant,

Stop trying! For more than two-thousand and fourteen years women have been getting pregnant without trying. A sperm does not have to try to find the egg; it just does. And once they find each other, if it is the right time, the right environment, and if the stars have aligned, it gets in. You have ZERO, I repeat-ZERO, control over when and how this happens unless you have thousands of dollars a month to make it happen. So, quit trying. Sit back, or lie back, and just enjoy the process.

Enjoy NOT being pregnant. I’ve been “pregnant” off and on for the last two years because I get injected with artificial pregnancy hormones every two weeks. Then, I’m literally suppose to act like I’m pregnant for the next two weeks (even though I never am pregnant). I can’t have caffeine, alcohol, sushi, medicines, oysters, cookie dough, or work out at the intensity I like. So, whenever I get put on a break from my fertility treatments I get to enjoy NOT being pregnant. Instead of crying to your girlfriends every time you get your period, get excited. Here’s my phone call to a friend (after crying secretly to myself for an hour):

“Wahoo! I’m not pregnant! Wanna go for a run around Town Lake and then get some sushi and sake bombs?”

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Be a kick-ass mom to your friend’s kids and to your nieces and nephews. I’ve been trying to get pregnant since my favorite lil’ girl, Elle, was 3 months old. She’s two and a half now. That’s a long time! But, instead of getting lost in the fact that she keeps getting older and I still haven’t been able to create a friend for her to play with, I cherish the fact that I’ve had so much special time to bond with her. If I had my own baby or babies, I wouldn’t have half the time I’ve had to devote to my sweet friend Elle. I’ve gotten to enjoy her first words, her first steps, her struggles to choke down solid foods, and we’ve had hours of dance parties and trips to the park that I’ll always hold dear to my heart.

Because I’m not a mother yet, I was present for the birth of my niece. I wasn’t chasing a toddler around in the waiting room either. I was right there, holding my sister’s hand and witnessing Evelyn’s first breaths, first sounds, first sights. My niece and I will ALWAYS share a special bond because I was there when she came into the world. What a blessing! Her hand on my face (like below) is a feeling I’ll move mountains to keep experiencing.

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Do NOT tell your husband when you’re ovulating, when you’re “fertile” or when it’s time to get busy. I’ve had to do that the last few months because we have a very medical, methodical, unsexy approach to conception, but we’re the minority. In fact, 85% of you will conceive without needing any medical assistance or planning at all. So, if it is your “fertile” time and you want to make sure you get your…ahem…dose of protein? Just use it as an excuse to get in your sexiest gettup and channel your inner goddess! Only an idiot could turn you down if you play your cards right. Kiss, hug, cuddle, and be fully present with each other. Work on your marriage and your partnership before you’re a threesome, or foursome, etc.

first look, cloudy and chelsea wedding

It’ll be your time when it’s your baby’s time. My sister put this into perspective for me when she said this, “Your baby has to be conceived at a particular moment in order to be born at the exact day, and time, it needs to have the exact life it’s meant to have. It needs to be born precisely at the right moment to meet its friends, its spouse, etc. You can’t rush it to be born before its time”.

So, “Hoping to Become Pregnant”, instead of focusing on the one thing you DON’T have right now, focus on the things you DO have!

Sincerely,

Always Hopeful

What do you do to get through the “waiting game”?

My Bad, God

Whoops! On my jog this morning I realized that my current state of, “Boo hoo, poor me…without the injectables I can’t get pregnant this month,” is entirely unfair to my God. So sorry, Lord, my bad!

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Yes it’s true that with the injectables my chances of a pregnancy this month would be 50% and without the injectables I only have a 15% chance, but in January I did ZERO treatment and got pregnant when my chances were 0.00005% of “no chance ever” so…what does that tell ya? It tells me that my God is WAY more powerful than science and if he wants me to have a baby and, more importantly, when he wants me to have a baby, he will make it happen.

My God has no awareness of femara, clomid, FSH injections, IUIs, or IVF. In fact, I imagine him up there on his throne laughing hysterically at me going, “Chelsea! Chill out, girl! It ain’t time yet! Gimme a chance!”

Chelsea Vail with tummy time nephew

So, whether you’re current state of suckage involves the death of a loved one, job loss, sucky medical diagnosis, or a house fire…sit back, get your head outta your ass and give God a chance to show you what he’s capable of. His plan is SO much better than yours!

Again, so sorry God that I threw myself a pity party doubting you!

What’s your God capable of?

Chelsea Vail with nephew