loss

Three years.

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This past month, my mind has been a mess of memories, thoughts, and feelings. I feel like I am in sensory overload. Three years ago today, my dad passed away and I can still remember every day he spent in the hospital, his last month with us. I wonder if that will ever go away or if will just fade into the back of my memories.

The day that he passed away, I made myself a little note on my phone, just moments after. It seems like an odd thing to do, but it was important to me to do at the time. And now, it’s one of the few things I have left on my phone from that very moment. It simply reads….

 

1:53pm  12/04/10  Goodbye Daddy… I love you so much and can’t believe you’re gone. My heart is broken.

 

And even still, as heartbreaking as that moment was, there was no where else I ever could have been. I needed to be there, with my family, holding his hand.

I think of my dad every single day, sometimes many times a day. A song, a movie, a memory, wanting or needing to talk to him, a meal…. Or it could be my wonder in seeing my niece and nephews and knowing that he would be amazed at how much they’ve grown. It could be anything. We talked about him on Thanksgiving, laughing about what he would be doing if he were there with us, sharing memories that we as a family have of him. The holidays will never be the same without him, as hard as I try. I have our Christmas tree up and it’s beautiful. I am hoping that the spirit he enjoyed at this time of year will somehow find it’s way to me this month.

If I could sit with him just one more time and talk with him, I often wonder what I would say. I need help solving some problems and more than ever need his guidance, but that seems selfish. I could share my excitement with him about losing weight. Or how proud I am of myself for running half marathons, something he never knew I could do. I could tell him about our crazy dogs – he knew Blue, but he never got to meet Ozzie and we’re sure they would be best buddies. We could share a favorite meal and a bottle of ice cold Peroni beer, his with a straw in it, his preferred way to drink it. Or we could listen to his favorite Big Band music….

But mostly, what I think I would say to him is how very much he is missed and how his life left such an impression on this family – his family – that anyone who knew him could easily see. I would tell him how different life is without him here to guide us along. I would share with him how he is with me everywhere I go and that we watch the sunset at Crystal Beach every month in honor of him. And most of all, I would tell him how very much I love him, how very much I miss him, and how he will always be my hero.

 

me daddy chair

 

me daddy cover photo

 

in memory of daddy

Another birthday in heaven…

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happy birthday daddy crystal bch pic

 

 

Today, my dad would be 80 years old. This is almost hard to fathom. He was 77 when he passed, and his last year was probably the slowest and worn down I had ever seen him in my whole life. Growing up, I never thought my dad looked his age. He had a youthful appearance that I attribute to being so active and always on the go, despite that wheelchair he sat in for 55 years.

My dad was fiercely loyal and faithful. He had a silly side. He was very set in his ways and felt strongly in the things he believed in. He was the epitome of a family man and wanted nothing more than to be with his family. He was always determined to take care of us and would do everything in his power to do just that. He was strong, had an amazingly big heart, and would cry at sad movies. He was my hero.

This is the third birthday of his that we have celebrated without him. And like every other day, I will think about him, and miss him, and wish that he were still here.

He is still very much a part of our lives. We talk about him often and I am convinced that I have turned into him with his little quirks, such as constant note-taking and list-making at work. I used to tease for making notes to read his notes and when he would re-write all his notes. I do the same thing now and it makes me smile every time.

We go to Crystal Beach every single month on the 4th, and will be there tonight (please don’t rain!). It’s slightly ironic that he passed away on the 4th of December and his birthday is on the 4th. Every single month my mom and I go up there for sunset. We’ve only been rained out once. It gets more and more beautiful every month and it’s very comforting to be there, knowing how much he enjoyed it.

So today, on your 80th birthday, Daddy, I hope you have one heck of get-together up in heaven with our other loved ones. You are in good company up there. We will be thinking about you. I hope you know how much we all still miss you.

Happy birthday, Daddy…. I love you very much.

 

 

It’s impossible to pick just one photo of my dad to share today, so I picked a handful…

 

joe cowboy

 

joe bike

 

joe dj edit    daddyarmy

 

20752_1204107435593_1615851071_499441_5856952_n    momdadfair

 

joe pizza 1

 

joe pizza orders

 

Scan 2   

 

100_1443

 

100_0476

 

family photo 2007

 

daddy restaurant review photo

 

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Favorite posts of 2012

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happy new year 2013

 

 

As 2012 comes to an end tonight and we welcome 2013, I am thinking about this year and all the things I accomplished. 2012 has definitely been the year of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve done so many things that I normally would not do. I hope that I continue to face my fears head-on in 2013.

To finish out the year, I thought I’d do a list of my favorite posts of the year. This was really tough to narrow down and I’m probably forgetting something, but these posts meant the most to me. From completing not one but TWO half-marathons, meeting the wonderful women of Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers, my first blog conference, becoming Yelp Elite, starting Jingle Bikes For Kids, wonderful family time, along with several struggles I faced - it’s been a memorable year.  I hope you enjoy this look back with me…

 

 

I love my blog and I really look forward to continuing to blog in 2013 and to see how it grows. I would like to thank each and every one of you for following and showing interest in my babbling. It helps to keep me sane.

Wishing you all a SAFE and Happy New Year!!

Remembering Daddy…

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Two years ago today, at 1:53pm, we said goodbye to Daddy. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think of him and wish he were still here with us.

After four weeks in the hospital, the last two in ICU, we had to make a very difficult decision to let him go. While it was very hard to so, I still believe it was the right decision. How quickly he passed was proof of that.

Two weeks after his passing, I made a memory book that I still look at often. I took all the beach photos in it – this is the true meaning of the sunset pictures I post every month on the 4th. I thought today would be a good day to share it again. For my dear family and friends, this will be a reminder of those special days. For those of you who didn’t know him, this is a small glimpse into the love that my family had for the most amazing man and father ever.

 

cover

 

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Today we will go to Crystal Beach for sunset and to Ozona Pig for dinner, just as we did the day he passed away. These were two of his favorite places to go and it is just one of the many ways I keep his memory alive. 

I love you Daddy, and I miss you always. You are my hero, my guardian angel, always just a thought away…

Infertility does NOT define me.

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I recently came across the notebook I carried EVERYWHERE with me when we were in the midst of infertility hell. I would keep track of EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Doctor’s appointments, labs, blood work, any and all symptoms that would have everything or nothing to do with trying to get pregnant, and more. I would ask for copies of any paper the doctors had in my charts.

During this time of our serious medical efforts, I was not very public about it. A small handful knew what we were doing. I just did not have the energy to tell everyone around us and then have a million questions about what was happening every single day. And while those inquiries would have come out of love and concern, it would have driven my husband and I insane. This was not a personal affront to anyone, this was survival mode for us. I also belonged to an online message board, which at one point I was a co-community leader of for awhile. It was a great place to discuss what I was going through, with other women who were going through the same thing. I still “talk” to several women I met on that board. They are all amazing women, many with more strength than I could imagine after reading their stories and getting to know them.

Here’s the thing about infertility… It doesn’t matter if you’ve only gone through two rounds of IVF while someone else has gone through five. The pain is no less for you. Or if you lost a baby very early on. The pain is no less. Your infertility journey is yours and yours alone. We are all different, with different issues, and it all hurts just the same.

To date, I have a couple posts on infertility here on my blog:

It’s not that I’ve tried to hide it, I just haven’t focused on it. But I’ve decided that what we went through, may help someone else. So, I’ve decided to share our journey, as it happened. We went through a lot and I almost feel like I’m on the outside looking in as I look back on all this. Here goes…

 

August 2006 – Went off birth control pill (we were married 5 years by this time and after swearing for years that we weren’t going to have kids, we decided we really wanted to). Since I had been on the pill for years and not sure how my cycles would be on their own, I started taking my temps daily from the get-go.

January 12, 2007 – Positive pregnancy test!!!! So much excitement in our family!!

January 22, 2007 – First OB appointment, in-office pregnancy test confirmed, due date of 09/19/07.

January 25, 2007 – Miscarriage, confirmed by ultrasound. I was just one day away from being 6 weeks. It seemed like days for it to end, and we were told by my doctor to wait two months before trying again. Despite how “early” this was, we were devastated. There are no words to explain how awful it was.

March 2007 – Started trying again, determined to not let the fear stop us.

May 2007 – Started taking progesterone at end of cycles.

June 2007 – Hubby had his first semen analysis, came back fine.

August 2007 – Started taking Clomid (3 cycles – days 5-9 of cycle). I really thought this would do the trick, as my mom had to take Clomid (and progesterone) to have all 4 of us kids. Clomid, by far, was the worst thing I took or did out of everything. I had hot flashes, headaches, I easily put on 10 pounds in one month, and it just made me a not-very-nice person. The fact that it did not result in a baby made it even worse.

November 2007 – Started taking Femara instead of Clomid (days 5-9 of cycle). I only took this for one month. Effects not as bad as Clomid, but resulted in a whacky cycle. This month I stopped taking my temps daily. I also had a transvaginal ultrasound which showed a suspicious area. A second ultrasound confirmed it and it was recommended that I have a D&C / Hysteroscopy to remove polyps.

January 2008 – D&C / Hysteroscopy removed polyps and advised to continue trying au natural.

April 2008 – Hubby went for a second semen analysis, results were fine. About this time, I had to go on anti-anxiety medicine because of the stress not getting pregnant.

May 2008 – HSG (Hysterosalpingogram) – This is an x-ray with dye to show any blockages, which showed that my tubes were clear. Because there is sometimes a greater chance of getting pregnant immediately after an HSG, I went back on Clomid for 2 more cycles, same as before. It was just as bad as the first time, but I was willing to endure anything at this point.

June 2008 – Started seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

June 2008 – Decided to proceed with IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) with injectables. All of this was out pocket, thanks to lack of coverage on our insurance with Aetna. This cycle failed.

October 2008 – Wrote a letter to my husband’s employer in regards to the lack of infertility coverage on our insurance policy. I provided examples of how 91% of those offering infertility treatment did not experience an increase in medical costs, and that including comprehensive infertility coverage in a health benefit package may actually reduce costs and improve outcomes. Sadly, our concerns did not influence or result in any changes in the policies offered.

December 2008 – Went in for another Hysteroscopy after polyps were found again.

March 2009 – We were told about an infertility study which I inquired about. This study was for IVF (in-vitro fertilization) for a reduced rate. This was a procedure we could not even consider without this study. Again, this was all out of pocket. Once we knew we qualified, we had to make the quick decision to proceed (a stressful, emotional decision because of the costs involved).

April 2009 – Had to immediately go in for another Hysteroscopy to remove polyps that would disqualify me from the study. It’s a miracle that the timing on my cycle was right for this and that I could have the procedure and still start meds as planned. Shortly after the procedure, I went on the pill as the first step of the IVF (the most ironic thing I did throughout all of this…). The end of April, I started injections.

May 2009 – The first two weeks of this month was a blur of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, and blood work.  Mid-month I had the embryo transfer after 3 days and then started progesterone injections. My mom had to do these for me, in my backside, alternating each side daily. Out of all the injections I had to endure, these were the most painful as they went in the muscle. I was bruised and sore. This IVF cycle had the most riding on it, was the most emotional, and when it resulted in a negative pregnancy test, was the most painful. It was the end of the line for us due to all the money we had spent, and would pay on for years. Not to mention the extra 10 pounds I packed on from the injections. Based on my response to the treatment, it was determined that I basically have bad eggs.

 

After this failure, I was so depressed. Within a couple weeks of this, I tried to start running and couldn’t because of the pain deep in my hips from the progesterone injections. It was the lowest of lows. It wouldn’t be long before I headed to my doctor for an anti-depressant which I would take for about 8 months before I got a handle on things and decided I could deal with things on my own.

Three years and five months have passed since that failed IVF and we are STILL paying for it. I can’t tell you how much I hate getting that bill in the mail every month. But, we feel very strongly that we would never know if we had not tried.

Since then, my cycles are all kinds of out-of-whack. My body and I are not best friends, and I often despise it. I briefly went back on the pill to try and regulate my cycles and then quit taking them because I hated it. I also have polyps AGAIN and need to have another hysteroscopy at some point.

Not included in the list above is all the lab work I had done. I was constantly being poked with a needle. I used to be terrified of needles. Who knew I would ever be at the point where I could give myself an injection without thinking twice?

It’s been a long road and I never thought that day we decided to try and have a baby that we would end up without a baby and so much heartache. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s not at all fair, and what pisses me off the most is that finances and insurance dictate our ability to continue to try to have a baby. And even worse, even if we had all the money in the world to spend, it would not guarantee a baby of our own given our issues.

It amazes me that there are so many people in this world who have children given the difficulty in actually getting pregnant. All starts have to be aligned and it seems nothing short of a miracle that one sperm can find that egg in the small window of time that it needs to.

Through all of this, I still have a husband whole loves and adores me. At the end of the day, we are in this together. There is no blame or anger. I’ve always said that I would rather it be me that is the problem and to carry the burden for the both of us. And when told that I am not meant to have a child, I strongly disagree. I deserve to be a parent just as much as every other person on this earth, as does my husband.

Regardless of my ability to have a child I am still ME. I am a daughter, wife, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, niece, and friend. Infertility does NOT define me.

 

While I am certainly not an expert on infertility, I am open to any questions you may have about our journey.

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