Greetings! I am writing three different versions of this post/note/update in three different places online. Of course one is here on my blog (that you are reading right now) and the other two are for Facebook and our CarePage. For those reading it on Facebook and on our CarePage, it may the first time many of you find out that I have a blog. My blog has never exactly been a secret, but I also have consciously not mentioned it on Facebook or our CarePage because I wasn’t ready.
Today I do feel ready to share. I was inspired in part by an article written for The Huffington Post by Dina Roth Port. It is called Infertility: The Disease We Need to Start Talking About. Earlier today I shared links to it on my Facebook profile and Twitter account (@FourofaKind2009). Having dealt with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss for over 5 years (2004 – 2009), I couldn’t agree more with this article. I do believe that infertility is a disease and something that we don’t need to be afraid to discuss. Reading the article today gave me the final kick in my rear end that I needed to “come out” about my blog once and for all.
A note to those of you who have known about my blog since the beginning or may have found your way here somehow since: Though you have probably heard or read much of what I am about to share before, you might still find reading this post interesting, as it chronicles the journey that brought me to the point of starting this blog four years ago and now a time in my life in which I feel ready to be even more open and honest about what it means to me to have survived secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. I am also going to share the rest of this post in the voice that I used in my “Facebook Note,” so you can see how I presented this to my friends and family members there who may be joining me here for the first time today or in the days to come.
Before I go on about myself and my blog, I want you to know my sincere hope in sharing this with all of you is that any of you out there suffering in silence will know that you are not alone. Likewise, if you have a friend or family member struggling with infertility, please consider inviting them to talk about it with you. Take the opportunity to find out more about their personal experience with infertility and show them that you are ready and willing to listen and to support them on their journey.
As for my blog, I want to give those of you who are finding out about it now, for the first time some background before inviting you to visit me there. My blog is called Four of a Kind (formerly known as Three of a Kind Working on a Full House…) and I began writing/posting on it in April 2007 when Bob and I were getting started with fertility treatments to try to expand our family. At that time our son Sean was 3 1/2 and we had been trying to have another child on our own for almost 3 years. We wanted our children to be close in age and hoped and dreamed of having at least 2, probably 3 or 4 and not more than 6.
When we first started trying to conceive again, when Sean was only 9 months old, we had no idea the journey that we were about to embark on. As many of you know, we were actually able to get pregnant again relatively quickly the second time around. It took us only half of the time to conceive Baby #2 (4 months) as it took us to conceive Sean (8 months) and we were elated! We were due in July 2005 and everything was going just as we had planned…
That is until we discovered that we miscarrying in December 2004. In the year to follow we went on to get pregnant (the baby was due in April 2006) and miscarry again (in August 2005) and then have an interstitial ectopic pregnancy that had to be surgically removed in November 2005 (that baby was due on Father’s Day in June 2006). During the surgery my right tube had to be tied off and essentially was no longer functional. Three pregnancy losses in a year’s time was a lot for us to handle, but we never gave up hope that we would be able to expand our family one day.
We were unable to conceive again on our own over the next year (2006) and eventually we asked to be referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (a.k.a. fertility specialist). We met with the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) for the first time in February 2007. After running lots of tests (including blood work and some more invasive procedures) on both Bob and me, our RE concluded that we had a 1 – 2 % chance of conceiving again on our own. He said that we could try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with a 5% chance of success or, as he strongly recommended we consider, we could do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which he gave us about a 25% success rate for.
Bob and I were overwhelmed after that first consultation, as we didn’t anticipate our RE suggesting that we go straight to IVF without trying anything else first. However, he made his case and we appreciated his reasoning. At the same time we were contemplating IVF, we were also exploring the possibility of adoption. Being a crazy multi-tasker, I actually thought that we could possibly do both at the same time and whichever brought us a child into our life first was “meant to be.”
Bob and I attended an informational session about Adoption at our fertility clinic and learned a great deal about what is involved in both the Domestic and International Adoption processes. We came away with a lot of information to digest and again we were overwhelmed.
The adoption meeting was attended by other couples struggling with primary infertility (meaning they have been unable to conceive or sustain a pregnancy leading to a live birth) or, like us, secondary infertility (the same definition, only it happens after they have given birth to one or more children). A lot of us were surprised to find out that not only do most adoption agencies not recommend that your pursue adoption and fertility treatments at the same time, they don’t allow it. So much for my trying to cover all of our bases at once…
So we had a big decision to make: try to adopt or try IVF. It wasn’t an easy choice for us and we did not take either option lightly. We understood, as much as we were capable of at the time, that there were a lot of pros and cons to each road we could’ve chosen on our journey.
In the end for many reasons, one very significant one being financial, we chose to pursue IVF. Ironically, since IVF is still not mandated for insurance coverage in many states (but it is in Illinois, where we live), in our case (because we had really great insurance coverage) it was actually much cheaper for us to start with IVF, as opposed to trying to adopt (though we certainly left that door open for the future).
In March of 2007 we began our first IVF cycle. We told our immediate families and close friends what we were doing. Many of those we shared our plans with had been very supportive over the previous three years that we had struggled with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. However, though few people told us directly that they didn’t agree with our choice to try IVF, some of our friends and family members clearly were more vocal and intentional in showing us that they supported us/our decision and wanted to continue to walk with us on our journey to expand our family than others.
So as I began to give myself daily shots, experiencing the many side effects that come with injecting hormones into your body, and making my way to frequent monitoring appointments at our fertility clinic, I soon found out which of our friends and family members were most interested in being kept “in the loop” about our progress (or lack thereof) in trying to expand our family through IVF. I also figured out which ones were willing to receive news and updates from me electronically (mostly via email) and who really preferred to hear how things were going in person or over the phone.
So one day, when I had gotten tired of the frequent phone calls and email correspondence after each appointment or milestone during our first IVF cycle, I sat down at our desktop computer in our office, signed up for a Blogger account and www.chicagobensons.blogspot.com was born!
I knew very little about blogging at the time or even that there was something called “the blogosphere.” I had an “online friend” that was also dealing with secondary infertility who had started a blog the previous year. My friend and her husband had started IVF about six months before us and she would post details about her cycles and their experience on her blog. I noticed how my friend got support from some of her family and friends through blogging, especially when they would “comment” on her blog posts. As a newbie, following my friend’s blog and also participating in discussion forums on www.ivfconnections.com were my two greatest sources of support and practical information about IVF. It didn’t take me long to realize how physically draining, emotionally overwhelming and yet also very exciting IVF could be. As Bob and I embarked on our first IVF cycle, we felt the most optimism about being able to have another child that we had experienced in a LONG TIME.
So after setting up my account on Blogger and coming up with the “blogspot” web address (I chose to combine the city we live in with our last name), all that was left to do was name my blog and start posting. I chose the name “Three of a Kind Working on a Full House…” as a takeoff on the Garth Brooks song “Two of a Kind Working on a Full House,” to try to be a bit cute and clever while representing Bob, Sean and my hopes and dreams to add to our family.
I posted on my blog for the first time on April 10, 2007 and you could say “the rest history.” Except after I had been blogging regularly for a few months some new people, other than the family and friends that I had chosen to tell about my blog, started to find their way there and interact with me. This happened in part because my friend added me to her “blog roll” (list of blogs that she reads/follows).
I will never forget the first time that someone I didn’t know “in real life” (IRL) commented on my blog. This woman and her husband were also struggling with infertility and she was reaching out to give me support. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but soon realized that she was also probably hoping to receive some care and concern in return on her journey to build her family. So I followed the link in the comment she left to her “profile” and from there followed another link to her blog where I had to opportunity to comment for the first time on someone’s blog that I didn’t know IRL. Definitely an “A-ha!” moment in my life and a whole new world opened to me… THE BLOGOSPHERE!
There is a lot more to the story of the evolution of my blog and if and when you chose to make your way over there, you can observe it yourself if you want to go back and explore. However, in effort to try to wrap up this marathon update, I want to do my best to explain why I am crossing over now, after almost 4 years of keeping my blog separate from many parts of and people in my life.
I am crossing over in effort to once again try to raise awareness about a subject and a reality that for so many, I believe too many, is considered taboo. Infertility, pregnancy loss and neonatal death are sadly very common in our world today, but unless you or a loved one have been touched by any or all of them, we rarely hear or talk much about them. This makes living with and through them very painful and lonely for those affected by them.
Though I have always been fairly open here on Facebook about the fact that Bob and struggled to expand our family, for the most part I have chosen to focus on what is going on in our life at the present time. I didn’t feel it was necessary to get into the details of our history with secondary infertility and pregnant loss when there is plenty to share about in status updates and pictures of our life and family now.
So that’s my story and if you are still with me after all that, I appreciate more than ever your time, patience and openness to what I have shared here today. I do most genuinely invite you to cross over with me to “Four of a Kind” to get to know me in even more candid and hopefully also insightful ways.
I am not sure yet how much I will choose to share about my blog here, now that I have told you about it. However, now you know a place that you can find me in those spaces between my status updates, picture posting and article sharing here.
Thank you, as always, for reading, for abiding with me, for your care, concern, support, kind words, thoughts and prayers. I am grateful that our paths have crossed in this life and that we have been able to reconnect (if it had been awhile) or stay connected in part due to our relationship as friends here on Facebook.
May God bless you and your family today and always. I hope to see you “on the other side!”
Once again, to those of you who have been with me all along, or for any amount of time, here on my blog, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I will be forever grateful that you have walked with me and my family on this journey to expand our family and I look forward to continuing along this path together.