Sunday, November 25, 2018

Infertility: Our journey using a donor.

Truth be told I'm not sure how to start this blog. I in no way feel I need to justify why we chose to use a donor, but I do want to educate. Some people have been really confused about how I got/ stayed pregnant considering our circumstances. There is also a possibility that the baby doesn't look like Sean. We always planned on being 100% honest about how our little rainbow baby came to be. It was never secret, we just knew there was going to be a time and place for it! We feel like that time is now.

2016-2017 were very difficult years for us. After a year of testing, drugs, procedures, ultrasounds, and more testing nothing was helping. It was at this point our endocrinologist gave us a list of alternative routes to have a family. They were ICSI (fancy IVF), embryo adoption, sperm donor, or adoption. We had to decide what we were comfortable with and what we were not. I remember being in the car saying we could just cross using a donor off our list. It was weird and kinda creeped me out.  So, we went down the alternative routes to having a family we felt comfortable with. Every route we went down felt right until the door would suddenly shut. To say we were confused was an understatement. We felt forsaken and we felt like God wasn't guiding us to anything. I had a binder full of research, journal articles, and data that now seemed like a waste of time. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically we were hurting. We were going in circles. Maybe we just needed to give up.

During this time I was a Beehive teacher ( girls youth group for church). One of the activities was for the girls to go to the temple. I remember being a Beehive and loving going to the temple, but now I just didn't want to go. I really didn't feel important to God. However, my dear friend Amy told me I needed to come and we would do a session. I remember sitting in the temple praying with a wounded and open heart only to receive the sweetest, direct, and profound revelation I have ever received. Am I going to share that with you? No. It's so special and personal to me. What I will say is I received information I wasn't prepared for. In essence, was told we needed to use a sperm donor to conceive a child. That God had children for Sean and I. It didn't matter their DNA or biological connection. Our job was to get them to earth with the healthiest body and mind possible. Needless to say, I will eternally be grateful for Amy, but this new revelation threw me for a loop!

I was stunned and I didn't really know what to do. This was the #1 thing we crossed off our list. How would I go to Sean and tell him that we needed to use a donor? So I dug myself into research, data, and journals. I had been at least a couple months of trying to figure out when to go to Sean, but the timing never felt "right". Although I KNEW what our path was, it was really difficult. I'm not sure if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I was sitting at my brother's house talking to my sister who is a very in tune with the spirit individual. She asked me if we had ever considered using a donor. I felt like just bursting out into tears. I didn't share what I had come to know with her at that point, but I felt another confirmation of the spirit. I remember telling her I wasn't sure how to bring it up with Sean. It was then when I heard the spirit whisper," he is more prepared than you know".

So hours later I am in the car with Sean driving down Satterfield St. and I just blurted out," Sean I need to talk to you on how to have a family". Sean replied that he too wanted to talk to me. We sat at a stop sign and looked at each other. It's like we didn't need to use words. Our hearts both knew. He started saying he wasn't sure how to come to me about it because I was so against it. He wasn't going to tell me what to do with my body. I told him how I wasn't sure how to tell him about it because I didn't want him to feel less of a man, husband, or dad. The conversation opened and we shared our experiences that we were both individually given months previous. We talked about our fears and hopes in using a donor and agreed we both needed to do some research together. We scheduled more testing and prayed that the results would show us clearly this was the path to take. Our doctor said you couldn't have asked for a clearer answer. The odds of us conceiving even with IVF or even ICSI didn't give us a hopeful percentage. We were SO grateful for the clear answer we got. However, the journey was just beginning.

Using a donor isn't for the faint of heart. There are a lot of factors to consider. Open or anonymous donor? What cryo/sperm bank to use? What ethical standards do we need in a bank? What testing is important to us? What genetic or family history factors will we not accept? Do we want to see adult photos or just baby photos? How many times were we willing to try? (FYI using a donor isn't cheap if you want an ethical bank). We found ourselves discussing our plans with our priesthood (church) leaders and constantly on our knees praying for revelation.

I had a couple binders color coded and full of medical journals and research. During this time we found the bank we felt comfortable in. For 6 months Sean and I, on our own, started going through every profile. There are hundreds of profiles! We kept a list of donors we liked. The whole process is weird! Each donor had photos of them as a baby/child, an audio recording of their interview, a description of their physical looks, hobbies, degrees (that are verified), personal history, medical history, family history, and psychological reports. We both had things we were okay/not okay with when it came to physical and mental health. Those were some open and raw conversations. For instance, I watched my Grandma Cady deteriorate from Alzheimer's. Because I have a choice, there is no way I want to mix more of that in my future children's genetics. It was more emotional to go through those profiles than anticipated.

What surprised me is the number of donors that have a personal connection with infertility. Some donors were married with kids conceived via egg donor. Some had siblings, family, or friends that needed an egg or sperm donor. There is the percentage of college boys who just want some extra cash on the side, but you can weed through those relatively fast. It was important to us that the donor was open to contact and that they had a spouse that was also open to their husband having contact. It was amazing to me the reaction we would have to each donor. In the end, Sean and I compared our top 10. Our top 3 were the same, but most importantly our #1 donor was the same. Our hearts swelled. We knew that God had heard our prayers and that we were guided by the Holy Spirit to know who to pick.

For Sean, it was important that he shared a physical characteristic with our children. I respect that. The donor we selected could have been Sean's brother. They also seemed incredibly similar in personalities and traits. Although we planned on being open about using a donor, I understood that Sean wanted some kind of connection with our kiddos! We ordered our vials and scheduled an IUI with the doctor. The whole process was extremely stressful and awkward. When it came time the vial we had was a dud and was missing .3 ml of the .5ml guaranteed. I broke down. I just sobbed. It took us SO long to get here and this happens? The bank, of course, replaced the vial for free. However, you can't take back the months of tracking and medications. Much to our surprise, IT WORKED! I can't even describe the shock and joy I felt. Our doctor told us it typically takes 3-4 IUIs before success. We were elated!!! However, at 7 weeks I miscarried. It was my birthday of all days. It was awful. We felt lost. We felt abandoned. We were in the middle of moving and a busy wedding season full of traveling all over the west coast. So we took a vacation from infertility and trying. It was time to focus on "us" again.

Months later we found ourselves trying again. 4 times total from the beginning. Every time giving us a positive pregnancy test, but ending in a miscarriage. I knew something HAD to be wrong. I told my doctor I didn't care what the cost was - I needed answers. He ordered a new panel of tests for me and 3 days before my 5th IUI he called me with results and was sending me to a hematologist for a blood clotting disorder that somehow was missed 3 years previously. I tested positive for one test and on the border for 2 others. I had to retest in 12 weeks. BUT I was scheduled for another IUI in THREE DAYS! I had already spent a good 1.5k in ultrasounds and monitoring. I wasn't going to abandon that cycle. I asked if I could just take the shots (blood thinner) anyways just in case. My doctor agreed. We felt hopeful! That night I went to order what was hopefully our last vial for a couple of years. Our donor had 19 vials left. Sean was tired and pleaded that we just order it in the morning. I agreed. When we went to order the vial the next morning our hearts sank. THEY WERE ALL GONE! I called the bank in a panic. They didn't have any on backup. Who was buying 19 vials that night?!?! We had to pick a new donor and FAST. It had taken us MONTHS to pick the first donor. How would we pick another in a couple of hours?

I told Sean we were fasting and praying that morning like we had never prayed before. We went our separate ways to go over the profiles. We came back with our favorite 10 and had 5 in common. However, I noticed the 5 we had in common didn't look like Sean at all! He grabbed my hand and told me he didn't care if they looked like him. They were HIS and he wanted them to have the best physical and mental health we could potentially give them. My heart swelled. I married such an amazing man! We then knew who our donor was. He is half Caucasian and Japanese! So, obviously, he doesn't look like Sean. Something about him just felt right. We ordered the vial and a couple days later hoped for the best.

Here are some baby/childhood pictures of our donor!

Fast forward 12 days later. I didn't feel pregnant at all. However I had some spiritual experiences, and I wasn't sure what to think of them. I didn't even want to test but did one anyways. There it was. It was faint, but it was there. I didn't feel I could trust the test because I never tested out my trigger (HCG shot that basically forces your body to ovulate- thus can give you false positives if you test too early). I called my nurse and she got me in right away. The blood test was positive and the numbers were significantly higher than any other blood test I had! It gave me some hope. I didn't want to tell Sean though. His birthday was coming up and I didn't want to ruin anything. So I told him I wasn't testing yet ( I AM THE WORLDS WORST LIAR! I have no idea why he believed me besides the fact he was also scared). You go in for a second blood test to make sure your levels are rising I told the nurse that my husbands birthday was that weekend and if possible getting those results on Saturday would be greatly appreciated. Let me just say I have an AMAZING team that knows me, our story, and are the best doctors and nurses ever. She called me the morning of Seans birthday (Saturday) to inform me that not only had my numbers doubled they had quadrupled! With a lot of help from my parents and sister, I threw Sean a party themed after The Office, our favorite TV show. You can watch the video below. If you have watched the TV show it will make more sense!

He was in shock. He gave an emotional reaction later that night once he processed the information. It has been a very emotional journey - especially in the beginning.

One thing I noticed throughout this journey is that unknown to many there are a lot of heterosexual couples that use a donor. However, they are not open about it because of the culture and stigma that surrounds using a donor, especially in the church. Our reproductive endocrinologist said that more couples are going the donor or embryo adoption route than the typical IVF route, but many don't seem open about the topic. This hurt my heart, a lot. There is no reason why someone should have to feel ashamed or embarrassed! In the church handbook it says, "The Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them." 
Our path wasn't wrong. I knew that. But "strongly discourages"..... The wording was heavy for me. 

I had to come to the understanding that discouraged doesn't mean forbidden. 

Quite frankly I remember judgment that went around when couples were doing IVF 10 years ago because the handbook basically says the same thing. I'm sure they went through the similar feelings that we did. Having conviction in their hearts, but knowing the opinions of others and their lack of understanding could lead to heartache. Yet now its widely accepted for couples to do IVF! It gives me hope for couples using an egg/ sperm donors or embryo adoption. I KNOW it’s not the path for everyone (just like our path wasn’t IVF), but I hate to think people pass up the opportunity that they feel/ know is right because of the wording. I know many couples struggling with it right now. To seek understanding of that wording was a growing experience for us, personally.

I honestly don't see it any different than an alternative form of adoption. Sean in a way is adopting this baby as his own. I know this baby is ours. It may not share Sean's DNA, but I know they will share a special bond that DNA cannot create. I'm grateful for the opportunity to experience pregnancy. I'm thankful for our donor. Without him, none of this would be possible. Most of all we were thankful for God, the Holy Spirit, the atonement of Christ, family, and our Priesthood leaders. We had support and love throughout the whole process. I hope that other couples can be open about their experience using a donor as well. The only way to change the stigma is to help others understand.

I know this blog with bring about a mix of emotions from others and a lot of questions. I am currently writing a Q&A blog. If you have questions feel free to message us! We would be more than happy to answer them :) 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Q&A | I'm pregnant and my friend is struggling. What are the dos and don'ts?

Q: I'm pregnant and over the moon with excitement. It wasn't difficult for us to conceive. My best friend has been trying for years but hasn't been able to get pregnant. I don't want to hurt her. What do I do?

A: Well, I get this question A LOT! There are no one-size fits all solution, but I do believe that some of these points can help any situation.

First of all, announcing it in a group setting, or a formal setting for that matter can be humiliating. Of course, your friends will be happy for you, but they will also be experiencing a flood of different emotions that are hard to describe. Unless you have experienced loss and infertility you simply can't understand the happy and sad emotions that mix together so rapidly.

Second, don't expect them to react, or to attend a baby shower. You don't want fake happiness, crying, anger, or for them avoid you right? Then you HAVE to give them time to process it.

I LOOOOOVVVE This video! It shows the pain a baby shower can have, but the love and power of a friend that cares as well. 

I usually suggest sending them a private text or message before announcing it. This allows them to gather the information, process it, and internalize it. They will answer back when they are ready. It may take seconds - weeks for them to do it. Don't mistake it for them not being happy for you. A baby shower can be a HUGE trigger for someone who has had a loss or no success. I have gone to many and held it together only to go home and cry myself to sleep. It's my reality, and baby showers shove that reality down your throat.

I honestly feel like the worst thing to do is call them, do it in person, or announce it in a group setting. It can put them on the spot and make them feel even worse. If you are having a shower let them know that if it's going to be hard for them to attend you understand. If you don't it can make things awkward between you two. If you care about them you will understand that this is sensitive for them- and rightfully so. 

Third, ask them what they are comfortable with. Some people are comfortable with their friends expressing their frustrations and joy of pregnancy. I personally am fine with it. It takes a conscious effort every day to not be jealous or bitter because of our situation. However, I know many who are not okay with it. The constant reminder of their empty arms and aching heart drives them into a dark hole of depression and hopelessness. I have been there, many times. It is up to both parties to have open communication about emotional boundaries. I was really grateful for a friend that reached out to me telling me that she knew her pregnancy must be difficult for me to watch as we were pregnant at the same time, but I had a miscarriage. She told me that she knew I loved her and she knew I was having a hard time. She totally understood if I needed to unfollow her on social media until I was emotionally comfortable with it. 

Doing this allows you to relish in your exciting adventure of pregnancy and becoming a parent and be sensitive to your friend's needs. 

I do not believe its right for someone with infertility to expect others to hide their joy of pregnancy. Afterall, when their time comes, they will be just as vocal.

Fourth, I know pregnancy is hard. Although in my pregnancies I haven't experienced anything past 6 weeks, I understand that your comfort level continues to decline. Just know there are many people on your social media who would do anything to feel sick. They would take all day sickness, shots, and inability to sleep for their entire pregnancy if it meant they got to have a baby. 

I don't think people understand how many of their friends struggle with infertility in silence. 

Fifth, don't say, or anything close to, " It all happened so fast", "Didn't think it would work on the first try", or "I didn't think it would be so easy". It's just a dagger to the heart for someone struggling. It's also not really important- ha. I realize it's just to fill in gaps of the conversation, or maybe it is a big surprise! Just know your audience.

Overall, just love. When in doubt, communicate.

I am one that doesn't want my friends or family to hide their babies from me. I want to snuggle them. I want to be part of their life. Just because I can't have a baby of my own doesn't mean I can't love on another baby! For others, it may take some time. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

When Fathers Day is Tough

Fathers day can be a difficult day for many people.

For those who lost their daddy. For those who lost their husband and daddy of their children. For those who wanted a daddy or relationship with one. For the daddies who lost their babies. For those who yearn to be a daddy. 

I want you to know, that you are not forgotten, this Fathers Day. 

I would like to touch on infertility and Fathers Day. Often people will post images expressing heartfelt feelings towards women with infertility on Mothers Day. Yet, I realized this Fathers Day there are not those resources for Men on Fathers Day. 
The truth is Infertility hurts men too. Even if their partner has the infertility factor, Fathers Day hurts. For the men who have an infertility factor, the pain is very internal and personal. Walking into the store, programs at church, family get gatherings are all reminders that he is yet, another year, childless.
The problem is that infertility is the grief that keeps on giving, cycling, and occurring.   

Too often we set a standard that men have to be strong, emotionless, and the “rock” during hardship. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate how my darling husband is my rock. However, I know that he too needs me as a rock. He too has grief. He too needs to try and work out his frustration. He too needs the time to heal. 
The truth is, just like a woman can be a mother with no children, so can a man be a father with no children. 

So to those who are struggling this fathers day. Know that you are loved. You are valued. You are important.

I didn’t marry my husband because of the quality of his swimmers. I didn’t marry him because he would be able to give me unlimited children. I married him because of the dashing, genuine, pure, and manly man he is! I married him because he already had qualities of a fantastic father. Had I known then, what I know now, I still would have taken his hand into eternity. 

And I know, when we do have a baby, he is will be the best Dad. It will mean something different to him. It will be the answer to his deepest prayer.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Infertility: Sean - "Fruits of Our Labors"

The last couple of months Lizzy has been undergoing some procedures to hopefully get us pregnant. A couple months of negative news, but we had faith for the month of May. The procedure went as planned and the doctor had high hopes. I had high hopes. During the last three years, I have tried all I can to be faithful and to be optimistic. Not just for me, but for Lizzy too. I just wanted to keep us going forward. 

When we lost our baby last July I felt like we could keep trying. Lizzy did not. She needed time. She told me over and over, she needed to regain her faith. I respected her opinion, and we took 7 months off. I have always liked the scripture in Alma about the fruit of the tree that will be delivered to us if we are patient. We have had a roller coaster of a month, including a young teen mother who wanted to know if we would adopt her baby. She decided to keep the baby. I can't imagine how hard that would be. We just pray for the mom and baby. It did hurt... a lot.  I couldn't think of anything else for a good week.

I just knew. I just knew that soon our prayers would be answered. Our procedure in May went well. Lizzy started feeling symptoms of pregnancy too. I felt like I was on eggshells. I wanted to be excited but not too excited until we got the positive results. One night, Lizzy showed me her test. There were two lines. Lines that held some hope and the answer to our promise. We were faithful. We were true. 

Then on Saturday Lizzy began to spot. The spotting got worse, and we knew what was happening. I was mad. I was upset. I felt forsaken. I felt lost. I felt my faith wavering. I didn't know why we had to go through this, again and again. I didn't want to try again. Every cycle is financially straining and I feel guilty for that. I felt so worthless. I was done. I couldn't do this anymore. I was tired of laboring and finding no fruit. While others around were receiving fruit they didn't even want. When others just complain about their fruit. When there are videos of men being angry because they found out their wife is expecting- and we are supposed to find it funny. I then felt my wife's arms around me. She just held me. It just felt good to say the things I felt out loud. To cry. I had been keeping so much in that I felt I was going to burst. We cried. We talked. We prayed. 

Sunday came along, and it seemed to us like a miracle happened. The spotting had stopped. We fasted for this to work. We prayed and I gave her a blessing. We did everything within our power to do. The tests were still positive, and they were darker. We were so hopeful. Then that night the bleeding returned, and we knew there was no going back.

Monday morning came and the Doctor confirmed that Lizzy was having another miscarriage. I felt like the fruit was ripped right out of my hands. The hope, the faith, and the promise. I just feel empty. Lizzy said the doctor kept saying, "This is hard. This is going to continue to be hard. I know that it hurts you." along with that his nurse remembered Lizzy (who wouldn't) and remembered our story- everything. She struggled with infertility, so they have talked a lot. Although we feel alone. It's nice to know that our team knows us personally and ministers to our wounds. 

Lizzy always says that having faith means that we believe that God can perform miracles. It also means that we will have faith that he doesn't have to. We have to have faith in both results. It's a lot harder than it seems. Don't tell me God has a plan. I know that. Its just hard to accept our plan, and that's okay.

 Although my basket is still empty I know there is fruit. Somewhere. And when I find it. It will be the sweetest most precious fruit of all. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Infertility: A letter to my struggling reader


My struggling reader

So I may know you, and I may not. I get a lot of messages ( around 20-30 per blog), and most of the time it's from one of my friends sending another friend to the blog. I'm glad that my messages are getting out there, but I'm sad that you can connect to what I'm saying. I'm sad that you feel I am "voicing what you want to voice." Why? Because infertility sucks.

So this letter is to you. Yep. You.

I want you to know that you are strong.

I want you to know that you are valued.

I want you to know that you are not "broken"

I want you to know that it's hard on all marriages.

I want you to know its hard on all relationships.

I want you to know that you don't have to be silent.

I want you to know that these trials can make you stronger.

I want you to know that you have a unique tribe of men and women who know similar feelings and want to help you.

I want you to know that I'm sorry for comments that hurt.

I want you to know that I know every month is hard.

I want you to know that I know its hard to face your spouse with negative news.

I want you to know that having a miscarriage doesn't mean it's your fault.

I want you to know that if your a male that having infertility doesn't make you less of a man.

I want you to know that your voice matters.

I want you to know its okay to cry.

I want you to know that I know it hurts when all of your friends are pregnant.

I want you to know that I understand the guilt you feel when others happiness makes you sad.

I want you to know that I know it hurts when you see children that would be the same age of one of your losses.

I want you to know its okay to mourn what you thought would be.

I want you to know it doesn't make you less of a parent to have a baby in an alternative way.

I want you to know that you won't feel lost forever.

I want you to know that it's okay to be mad.

I want you to know that it's okay to be sad.

I want you to know that it's okay to be happy.

I want you to know that I understand you hate taking those pills.

I want you to know I know it's always hard- regardless if you have kids already.

Most of all I want you to know that you are not alone in any of this. I hear you, crying in the shower. I'm pretty sure we all do. I want you to know how truly beautiful and brave you are to get out of bed. How strong you are to "try again". You can do this. I can do this. We can do this.

If I can encourage you to do just one thing it would be to use your voice. You have a story people need to hear. You have the opportunity to help bridge communications.

Also, if there is something you would like me to write about please let me know. If you are not ready, to use your voice yet, just know I will support you in any way I can. -Hugs-

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Infertility: A Letter From Sean

I'm not known for being a good writer or good at putting my thoughts together. I have been trying to write this for a couple years now. Thankfully Lizzy helped me a lot to get this posted.

Ever since I was little, all I have ever wanted to be is a dad. My biggest fear in life is that I would never get married, and therefore never have the family I dreamed of. I wanted to be that dad that was super involved. That dad that would take his daughters out for dates. Go to all the games and concerts. Teach the kids how to hunt and fish. The dad that would teach his children how to pray and love God. I just wanted a family, always.

When Lizzy and I were dating I told her I wanted to start our family as soon as possible. She didn't want to, and I respected that. One night she came to me and told me she felt that we should start trying for a family. It was weird to me because we had been married not even a month She said she felt like it may be difficult for her to have a baby, and it would be better to find out why sooner than later. Soon we were tracking everything, but month after month no baby. Deep down inside I felt that it had to be me. Although Lizzy was convinced it was her.

After a year of attempting, we went to the doctor to start the process of figuring out why. I didn't realize the rollercoaster we were getting on. The first tests the doctor ordered were a progesterone test and follicle ultrasound for Lizzy, and a semen analysis for me. Thus began the most stressful and awkward testing of my life.

A week or two later I came home and Lizzy pulled me aside and told me the doctor called. Her tests panned out to be normal, but mine was not good at all. So bad that our doctor wasn't going to try anything with us, and told us to go to the reproductive care center in UT. I felt my heart sink. I felt embarrassed. I felt hopeless. It felt similar to that of a great loss. I felt like I had failed. I failed my role as husband. I failed my wife.

Soon we had a series of expensive tests to do and an appointment at the reproductive care center. We were nervous as we sat in the doctor's office, and nothing could have prepared us for what would happen. We were told we had a 3% chance of having a child naturally. Now the feelings I had before were confirmed. I felt totally hopeless and like a failure. That our opportunities to have a child was next to none. My wife would never know what it was like to carry a child and it was my fault. Because of me, she would be robbed of one of her greatest desires. Lizzy seemed to be at peace. She is the kind of person who just wants an answer so she can process it and deal with it.

Not even a week later we left for NYC. It was a trip we dreamed of, but now we had some extra baggage. Lizzy wanted to talk, and I didn't. I would just give short replies and move onto a new subject. That trip was the longest trip of my life. One night we were in time square when Lizzy just stopped and yelled at me. It was so loud around us it didn't matter how loud she screamed. By closing myself off I was hurting Lizzy. I never want to hurt Lizzy. I just didn't want to talk about my failures.

We came home only to do more tests. Once again Lizzy's test came back great, and mine didn't. I tried different medications, different diets, etc.. nothing changed. Even after everything my last test was so bad they didn't even bother giving me the numbers. Then all at once, it seemed like everyone was having babies in situations that were less than ideal. I was supposed to be happy for them, but it made me feel worse. Depression set in, and life got dark. It got dark for both of us. I only had one job. I only had to contribute one piece to the 1000 piece puzzle and I failed. I was stripped of masculinity. Drowned in unknown waters.

Every road we went down to try to have a family was closing. We called adoption agencies both international and domestic adoption only to feel it wasn't right. We looked into foster care only to feel that it wasn't right. Set up consultations for IVF only to feel it wasn't right. Nothing was right. I felt worthless and useless. I started gaining weight. I felt miserable and lost. I was keeping us stagnant. I kept feeling like Lizzy would be better with someone else. Someone that could give her the family she deserves.

The problem is no one talks about male infertility. Although male infertility contributes to 50% of infertility, no one talks about it. It bothers me how everyone just assumes it's Lizzy who has infertility. I have yet to meet a man that would talk to me about male infertility and to tell you the truth, but I don't know if I would either. Men don't like talking about their failures.

In June it will be 3 years of trying, multiple losses, and lots of tears. I'm so grateful for Lizzy and her unwavering love. I'm thankful that she comes from a family that not only understands infertility but understands loss. For the most part, I feel like I have been able to come to terms with my infertility. We keep pushing forward. Keep praying. Keep trying. Praying that someday our dreams will be fulfilled.

What not to say/do to someone dealing with male infertility.
1. Tell them to have faith in God's timing
2. Give advice because you assume we don't understand how to make a baby
3. Complain about your children and say that we are so lucky we don't have kids
4. Assume fertility only lies in the female sex
5. Try to fix them

What can you do for someone dealing with male infertility?
1. Pray for them
2. Have a listening ear
3. Be open to the discussion

I hope this helped someone understand or for someone to know they are not alone. This trial has been one that has altered my life, testimony, and marriage. After feeling alone in my trials I hope that others may not feel so alone, or that they may know how to help someone around them with male infertility. There can be joy in the face of trials. And, hopefully, someday, I will be a dad.

Monday, March 26, 2018

US: Emptying Our Bags

Well, life continues to be a rollercoaster! I have been spending a lot of time reflecting. The move to Idaho Falls in September 2017 was pretty difficult for us. We both kinda got in this "funk". Looking back I think we were both finally going through the motions of the events we had a couple months before. Right after we lost the baby and Sean didn't pass his test (July) we traveled non-stop. (a blog about those adventures) In fact, we didn't have a home. We just lived out of our suitcases.

Once we got moved in it seemed like a fresh start! However, you can't move very far forward when your dragging loads of emotional baggage. For the last 5-6 months, both of us has been exhausted. We would come home from school or work and just want to sleep. Constantly lethargic, wanting to just sleep all day and anxiety about the little things in life. Honestly, Sean and I probably needed to go on a little something to help us move forward, but we didn't so the process was a tad bit longer haha.

Simply, emotional baggage not only keeps us from moving forward and progressing, it makes life a whole lot harder than it needs to be!

I found myself reading Elder Hollands talk- Like a Broken Vessel, and there was a part that really stuck out to me. "In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others, you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time, later on, to be ill."

I have often said infertility made me extremely aware of my body. I can read and recognize my cycle without any tests. Yet, through the process, I forgot to be aware of my emotional state. I was so worried about Sean, I forgot to take care of myself. Obviously, it was just a recipe for disaster.

"Whatever your struggle, my brothers, and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind."

Even when life seems like a low tide eventually a high tide will come. I think Sean and I needed a change. We needed to change together. Many, MANY times we both tried to change independently, but again, we were making it harder than it needed to be. Of course, it would be easier for us to change together and have the support system! Why do we always try to do everything by ourselves?

Wanna know what we changed?

1. When we go to bed, we plug in our phones, and we don't touch them until we wake up in the morning.

2. We have made a continuous effort to kneel down and pray in the morning and evening. Sure its easier to pray laying down in bed, but there is something unifying in kneeling with your spouse in prayer.

3. Being honest. Being honest with your feelings and emotions isn't easy, but it is essential for us to continually build that emotional intimacy. An extra bonus is getting out some of those kept up emotions!

4. Attempting to go to bed earlier and getting up earlier! Still a work in progress, but we are getting there.

5. Diet and exercise. Still a work in progress, but it has helped A Lot.

6. Medication- no shame whatsoever!

7. A change in Sean's major. Sean officially changed his major to biology with an emphasis in neuroscience. We feel really good about this change and its potential outcomes.

8. Scheduling a time to go to the temple and date night. No brainer there!

9. Having faith. I was waiting to try more procedures to get pregnant until we were more settled in life. I realized I wasn't having any faith in Sean, us, and God. So, we will be trying some procedures to hopefully get pregnant in the next couple months. Fingers crossed!!!

10. We are choosing to take control. Choosing to make changes in our life.

So if you feel like your stuck in a rut. Maybe even a broken vessel? Know there is light coming. Know that you can be healed. Be patient with yourself. Get to know yourself emotionally. Make simple changes in your life to bring you peace and happiness. Most of all if you need help- get it! There is absolutely no shame. I LOVE counseling. I think everyone could use it!

"If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation."

I hope we can become a culture of taking emotional health seriously. I hope we can become a culture where honesty is valued and appreciated. I hope we can be a culture where we can respond with love to people who are hurting (and may not show it in an appropriate way). I hope that we can all chose to become a little better and empty our bags!