Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Forward Motion

For months I wrote about how I was stuck. It felt like we were in a constant state of waiting and facing a huge expanse of unknown, and I didn’t know how much longer I could handle the lack of resolution.

When we lost Tup, I was heartsick and angry, but there was also an unexpected emotion: relief. I felt free. I didn’t understand it, and it made me feel like a terrible person who obviously didn’t deserve the child she lost–like I wasn’t properly honoring him. But I’m finally starting to understand that this feeling of freedom and relief has nothing to do with my grief for Tup, it has to do with the huge weight of the unknowns that I had been carrying for months.

The truth is that my life finally has forward motion, and even if I don’t like the results, even if I hate them, I have found some resolution:

  • Hubby didn’t get the fire job. After months of anticipation and hoping, he was not chosen. It sucks, but he started a new job last week that he really enjoys, and he is content working there while he continues to add to his certifications so that he will be a better candidate next time.
  • I got into graduate school, and I was awarded a teaching assistantship that will allow us to (barely) afford it. After months of sitting on a waitlist and trying to figure out how we could possibly pay for school without the assistantship, I finally got the letter.
  • Hubby is feeling better and will not be having surgery right now. This could technically change any day because Crohn’s is a horrible and unpredictable disease, but we are now sitting on the “well” side of the unknown (which is infinitely better than the “sick” side of it).
  • We lost Tup and my RPL panel came back normal, which means we are stepping back from the TTC world for awhile. There is no timeline on this–we will start trying again when we both feel like it–so there is no pressure and no anxious waiting. No waiting until we are allowed to try again (surprisingly, we weren’t given any restrictions), no waiting to POAS, no waiting for test results, no waiting for appointments, no spending hours each day wondering if it will work this time.

I no longer have panicked moments where I worry about the fact that I have no idea what will happen in the immediate future. I no longer try to stare into the unknown and decipher some sort of answer. Sure, things could change and we still don’t know what things will look like long-term, but at least we know what the next couple of months should look like.

I miss Tup and it makes me sad to think about what could have been, but I’m also excited about the things to come. I feel like I finally have something to look forward to and get excited about. I have goals to work towards, goals that I actually have some control over–having a baby was a goal, but it wasn’t something I could work towards because I couldn’t affect the outcome of my pregnancies. Studying and working hard can get me through graduate school, and training consistently can help me finish the triathlon.

I can improve and grow. I can work towards something tangible. My life can finally move forward.

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Rambling

I’m still here. I keep wanting to post, but I can’t seem to sort through my emotions enough to make a coherent post. Last night in bed, I realized that I was composing a post in my head before I went to sleep, and I did the same thing on the way to work, so obviously I need to write. So forgive me if this isn’t too coherent.

For the most part, I’ve been ok. I don’t know if this is denial or if I’m still numb, but I haven’t sunk into that deep sadness where I can’t function or care about anything like I did with my last losses. No sitting in the shower crying until all of the hot water runs out, which is probably good because we put in a tankless water heater last fall so we have endless hot water and who knows how long I would sit in the shower. I’ve had some guilt about how well I’m doing (which isn’t really that great, but compared to my last losses, it’s sunshine and rainbows), but the truth is that I miss Tup. I miss my baby. I miss talking to him. I miss feeling like everything I did was something that we shared. And while there is still plenty of time for me to have a complete breakdown, I think this calmness is self preservation. I don’t think I can go there again. I refuse to go there again. I’ve already wasted too much of my life in that place and I just can’t. I’m not strong enough to pull myself back out again. So I’m sitting in this strange place that I don’t recognize–one where I have a deep sadness in my heart but it doesn’t consume me–I can compartmentalize it. I don’t know if that’s healthy, but that’s where I am.

I’ve been trying to stay busy, and I know that exercise is supposed to help keep depression at bay, so hubby and I have started training for a sprint triathlon in August. It’s hard and tiring, but I’m really glad we are doing this. Whenever we add another mile or two to our bike ride or I run for a longer period of time before I run out of breath, I feel better about myself. I can feel my body getting stronger and more fit, and that really helps fight off the self-loathing that comes with my body’s failure to nurture and grow my child.

I got a call yesterday about the results of my RPL blood tests. They were normal–nothing to suggest repeat loss. Normal thyroid, no major clotting disorders. The doctor did suggest that I take a baby aspirin every day once we start trying again because it might help and it couldn’t hurt. I’m getting really tired of people suggesting that I take baby aspirin while holding my chart that says I have an anaphylactic allergy to NSAIDs. When I told her that I am allergic to aspirin, she asked if I am sure that I’m specifically allergic to aspirin and have I ever taken actual aspirin. I responded that, yes, I have taken aspirin and I had a reaction–that’s how I know I’m allergic to it. Then she said that even though I’m allergic to regular aspirin, I might be able to take a small dose without any adverse effects and that it would be worth trying. The last time I took an aspirin, I was a sophomore in high school. My whole faced swelled up and my throat almost closed, so I really don’t see the logic in taking a baby aspirin because I “might not react to a smaller dosage.” She did suggest I go to an allergist and see if they can desensitize me to it, which might be something to think about, but at that point, I was so annoyed that I just wanted to get off the phone with her. Really, I can’t understand why a doctor can’t take my anaphylactic allergy seriously.

To make the whole thing worse, she said the words. If you have had multiple losses, you know the words I’m talking about, “If it makes you feel any better…” I’ve gotten to the point now that whenever I hear a sentence that starts with that phrase, I sigh and roll my eyes. I can’t help it. Anyway, she told me about her friend who just had a baby after seven unexplained consecutive losses. Everyone has one of these stories and I can’t for the life of me figure out why people think these stories are supposed to make me feel any better. Obviously, she has never had a loss and does not understand the grief that comes with it. Because if she did, she would not think that a story about someone who lost seven children before having her first child would encourage me. If anything, it makes me feel even more bitter towards the assholes who get pregnant on the first try and have a baby nine months later while some of us suffer loss after loss after loss with nothing but the hope that one day, after enough of our babies die, we might actually get to take one home. And at what point do you stop? At what point do you say enough is enough, I’m done?

For us, that point is now. At least for the time being. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t just sit helplessly while my children die inside of me. I can’t subscribe to the “keep trying and hope it doesn’t happen again” plan. I know this will pass, but even the desire to have children and be a mother has left me. I have children. Four of them. They are all dead. And I don’t want any more dead children. I’m tired of this cycle. Even now, we’ll take some time off to focus on other things: the triathlon, school, hubby’s new job, etc, but eventually we’ll get pulled back in. Eventually we’ll want to try again, and then what? With every loss, I feel like our chances for a healthy baby diminish, but you always think, “just one more time–next time will be the one.” I feel like this cycle never ends, like we’ll never find a way out of it. So, for now, we are out. No more peesticks, no more temps, no more prenatals, no more doctor’s appointments, no more blood draws, no more waiting, no more anxiety filled nights. I’m done. And I have no idea when I’ll be ready again. Maybe I’m not handling all of this as well as I thought.

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On Being Positive

Lately I’ve had a few people comment on the blog and IRL that I have such a positive attitude about our IF and loss journey, and it has seriously taken me by surprise. It has made me step back and look at myself. Am I being more positive?

I think I have mentioned before that I am a wallower. I usually just wallow in my sadness and desperation. I think up worst-case scenarios in my head and live them over and over again. I’m not usually very good at seeing the silver lining and moving on, but I think that maybe there has been a small shift in my outlook. I believe that there is always room to grow, and I’m definitely not where I want to be, but I have been feeling less “OMG, the world is crashing down around me” lately.

I believe there are many contributing factors to this. The first is that Hubby has been very sick, so TTC has taken a back seat. His diagnosis has been a huge distraction for me. It has also caused a bit of a role reversal in our relationship–I am now the encourager who tries to stay positive when hubby is hurting and discouraged, which is a huge deal because I am learning that I am strong enough for that role. There was a time in my life when I never would have believed that because I am always the one who falls apart while hubby has always been the rock in our relationship. Hubby’s illness has also put a lot of things into perspective, and I have learned that there are things I care about much more than having children. I can honestly live child-free as long as I have my husband, and learning that has made nurturing our relationship my biggest priority. I can’t nurture my marriage when I am in the throws of despair.

Another reason I think I have been feeling more positive is the fact that we have a solid back-up plan. I know that, one way or another, we will have a child in our home in the next year or so, and that takes some of the pressure off. It also gives me something to look forward to, work towards, and get excited about. If I get pregnant again and have another miscarriage, we won’t be back where we started. Instead, we will have another adventure to start that will hopefully have a happier ending. That takes a big weight off my shoulders and keeps me from despairing about whether or not we will ever be parents.

I also think a big contributor to my better outlook is the months that I have taken off to heal. When the midwife suggested a six month break, I couldn’t believe it. I know she suggested such a long break so that we could have some emotional healing and not escape the healing process by jumping right back into TTC, and I can finally see now that it was a good recommendation. In the past few months, I have learned to face my pain and slowly put the pieces back together. I was helped along the way by a few close friends, some powerful prayer and worship sessions, openness between me and my husband, and the Bitter Infertiles Podcast.

I still miss my babies. I still look at the calender and feel a deep sadness when I see my due dates pass. I still wonder if I will ever be able to carry a pregnancy. I’m still scared about the uncertainty of our future. I think the biggest difference is that I have learned how to hope again, and I am going to hold on the that hope as hard as I can.

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Stuck

I’m feeling a little guilty about my lack of posts lately, but I promise that I’ve been here reading all of your posts and even doing quite a bit of commenting. I have a few different things to post about, but I think I’m going to divide them up into different posts so I don’t overwhelm you. I’ll probably write them all today and release them throughout the week so I can hold you captive with the suspense.

I briefly mentioned in my last post that I feel stuck right now. After my last mc, I went to see my midwife who suggested that we wait six months before TTC again, and she also offered to refer us to either a high risk OB or a RE. She also ran a bunch of blood tests which of course came back normal. It has now been three months, and I have not gone to see anyone else.

There are a lot of reasons for this. The biggest one is money.

I live in a state where all infertility testing and treatment is completely out of pocket, and hubby and I really don’t have that money to spend. We’re still paying off the bills from my first mc which cost us about $1,000 with insurance. I usually don’t tell people that we don’t have the money for a RE because inevitably, they always tell me that kids are expensive and if we are worried about money, maybe we shouldn’t be having kids anyway. Needless to say, this really upsets me. We are very careful with our money–we don’t have cable, we rarely eat out, and we go without some things that we would like to have so that we can work on paying off school loans and other debt. We have enough money for a kid. We won’t have enough money for a kid if we spend thousands of dollars on a RE. Part of me keeps saying that it could be something small, an easy fix, and then I could carry to term and we could finally have our beautiful rainbow baby. But I am quickly losing my faith in small, easy fixes. IF and loss treatments can accelerate so quickly, and I honestly don’t know how far we would be willing to go once we get caught up in the rush of tests and treatments–I don’t know if I am willing to open that can of worms. We already have student loans and a mortgage, and we really can’t afford to acquire any more debt right now. Especially when we have no idea if we will get a baby in the end.

So we’re stuck. We just can’t move in that direction right now. Maybe in a few years after we pay off a few things and get better paying jobs. You know, when I’m thirty and my chances of getting pregnant start rapidly decreasing. Which is so fucking unfair. I just want to scream and cuss and curl up in a ball and cry at the injustice of it.

So hubby and I have decided to try one more time with just the progesterone supplements. We have talked about it over and over again and we always end up in this same place: trying one more time without seeing a specialist. After that, we are moving to plan B. (Actually, I think it’s plan G. Plan A was getting pregnant immediately without any problems. Plan B was getting pregnant by charting. Plan C was having a healthy first pregnancy. Plan D was having a healthy second pregnancy. Plan E was having a healthy third pregnancy. This would be plan F, but that makes it sound too hopeless.) Also, that whole six month wait thing isn’t happening. We are waiting three cycles, then jumping back in the game. That sounds reasonable to me, and that means we’ll be trying again in a few weeks.

Are we crazy for attempting this again without seeing an RE? Please say no. Lie to me. Also, does anyone else have problems with people saying that you can’t afford children if you can’t afford testing and treatment? Does that piss you off beyond all reason?

Stay tuned: more on hubby, sexy time, and Plan G later this week.

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Worrying about my lack of worry

Over the past two weeks or so I’ve noticed something about myself. The obsessing, the worrying, the despair is missing. When I think about TTC, I don’t freak out. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to create, carry, and birth a child, and if I will, I have no idea when that will be. It will be months before we will even start TTC again. As you have seen in previous posts, this fact usually throws me into counting fits where I calculate the soonest we could have a baby. How old will I be then? What are my life plans then? How old will BFF’s son be? (I try not to compare, but she was three months preggo when we started TTC and it gives me a point of reference, albeit an unhealthy one). Usually, when I think about our journey thus far and what all the future could possibly hold for us (tests, procedures, more mc’s, no baby), I am a quivering ball of anxiety and panic who can’t function on a normal level due to the crippling worry and fear. But that hasn’t been the case the past two weeks or so.

I noticed this change last Thursday. That was the day we were supposed to go hear the heartbeat, and of course, we didn’t. And I was so calm and zen about it. If I could use one word to described how I’ve felt, it would be content. I have a wonderful husband and life and maybe babies just aren’t in the cards for us right now. Waiting could even be a really good thing because that might give hubby the opportunity to find a full time fire job, allowing me to stay home. Molly will have the chance to grow up a little, meaning I won’t have to chase the most hyper puppy in existence whilst pregnant. We can pay off a few things and add a little cushion in our savings. I am calm and rational and ok with where we are in life right now, and to tell you the honest truth, it is freaking. me. out.

It all started with a pretty intense prayer session with some close friends two weeks ago. I know some of you aren’t religious, and it’s ok if you are rolling your eyes at me right now. My most ardent request during this prayer session was that I would stop asking why and stop trying to understand and just trust that God is in control. That I could accept what happens and live my life with joy. That I could release my fear. And here’s the thing: I’ve stopped asking why and trying to understand. I have accepted that I am not in control, and I am so happy and appreciative of what I have. I’m not afraid. And this is all so foreign to me.

I am honestly starting to worry about not worrying. Is this a sign of healthy healing and acceptance or am I suppressing all of my problems in an unhealthy way? I know lots of women in this community hit a point where they wonder if they even want children anymore, and I wouldn’t say that is where I am. I am just ok with the fact that I can’t have any right now–at least I am today. However, I feel a little like I am waiting for full blown panic. Maybe it isn’t coming and this is the new normal. That would be nice. Once I get used to it. I’m not really sure what to do with myself when I’m not worrying all the time. And I feel like I’m a bad IF/loss blogger if I’m not obsessing about TTC right now.

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Community

Lately I’ve been wondering what role this blog needs to play in my life while hubby and I are taking a break from TTC. I wonder if I am really letting myself step back and take a break when I am still reading, posting, and surrounding myself with this world. In wondering this, I have begun to really evaluate what this community means to me and what role it plays in my life.

I love having support from people who understand (at least on some level–everyone’s story is different) what I am going through, and I love knowing that I can be that support to some other people. It always amazes me how much love and encouragement I can receive just from a comment on a post or an email from someone else in the community, and lately I’ve been trying to make the effort to leave some love on the posts that I read. Every time I read about a BFP or a birth, I get so excited and celebrate for that couple. It gives me hope, and I truly feel joy for them because I know the road that they have traveled to get to that BFP was long and hard.

But being part of this community is also heartbreaking. I feel a connection with some of these couples, and I will cheer and hope and pray so hard for them. But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes my WP reader is full of BFN’s, failed IVF’s and FET’s, and miscarriages. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you are surrounded by these stories, and sometimes it is so hard to deal with other couples’ losses when I’m already dealing with my own. But you what? That’s what community is all about: sharing joy and sharing pain. It’s about encouragement and commiseration. It’s about letting yourself care about people enough that your heart will break for them. It’s about posting funny stuff that will brighten everyone’s day.

This community is important to me, and I plan on sticking around, even when we aren’t currently TTC.

Speaking of funny stuff, because we want to give my body time to heal and I’m not emotionally ready for another pregnancy right now, we are preventing pregnancy. Believe me, the irony is not lost on us. Anyway, little Miss Molly likes to get into the trashcan in our bathroom, and while we usually are good about keeping the door shut and keeping her out of the bathroom, she still manages to get into to it every once in awhile. Earlier this week, I was outside with her and saw something weird when she pooped. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a condom. Oh my goodness. We are now buying a new trashcan with a lid.

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All over the Place

I feel like my posts are all over the place lately. I guess that’s fitting because I’ve been pretty all over the place lately. I’ve got so many emotions running around inside me right now, I’m really surprised I can create something that even resembles a coherent thought. It amazes me how comforting it can be to just sit down and throw up all of my feelings on this blog. I keep going from being so devastated I wonder how I can even function, to being sunshine and rainbows and sure that everything is going to be fine, to being really pissed off and not really so pleasant to be around. You get the picture: yet another mc + raging hormones = Danielle is a mess. I will admit that I’m doing a whole lot better than I thought I would, and I contribute that to the support I have.

I’ve already told you all about how wonderfully supportive my hubby is, but I really can’t emphasize that enough. He always seems to give me exactly what I need when I need it without me having to ask for it. I usually contribute this to the fact that we were long distance for almost the entire five years we dated, so we are really good at the communication thing because our only contact for the majority of those fives years was talking on the phone. I know that fertility issues and loss can really take its toll on relationships, and I am soooo thankful that this is only bringing hubby and I closer.

Another blessing? My sister, S. S and I didn’t always get along. We basically hated each other for most of our childhood, but over the past few years, we have grown super close. After I found out I was pregnant and I was pretty much freaking out, hubby suggested that I call my sister, and I’m glad I did. Since hubby and I got married, S has been asking me when she gets to be an Auntie. And not in an obnoxious, I’m putting-so-much-pressure-on-you sort of way. So she has been very supportive and loving, and the only thing that I regret about calling her for support is that I know her heart breaks with ours.

I also had no idea how much the supportive posts (and an email from a special blogger) would impact me. It has encouraged me more than I can say. Thank you all for being so loving and kind towards me. It means the world.

 

*                              *                              *

 

So keeping in my apparent theme of being all over the place, let me tell you about my appointment yesterday:

It was fairly short and uneventful (in a good way), and the midwife we talked to, Laura, was very sweet and a great listener. She had them draw blood to check my hCG and my antibodies because I’m A-. She originally wanted to give me rhoGAM, but I told her that hubby is also A- and there is no possible way that the baby has a different father. After I told her that, she agreed that I wouldn’t need it but said that she would like to check my antibodies just to legally protect the birth center. I’m ok with that. She was also going to run more tests to check my thyroid, my clotting, and other stuff, but I had all of those tests run in June and they all came back normal, so we didn’t run any of them again. She also told me that she is willing to refer me to either an RE or a high risk OB, but we have plenty of time to decide because she said that we should wait six months before we start TTC again.

Six months. Six months is a long time. In six months, we will pass two of my due dates and the year and a half mark of TTC. If we wait six months, the very earliest we could have a baby is December of next year. This means there is a very good chance that I won’t have a baby until 2014. There’s also a good chance I won’t have a baby before the year anniversary of two of my due dates. I probably won’t have a baby until I’m 26, which is a little daunting considering I’m 24 right now. In my heart, I know that we need to wait–that it will be good for me both physically and emotionally, and I was already planning on waiting at least three months, but damn that is a long time.

What is the longest break you have taken from TTC? Have you seen an RE or a high risk OB? Who was the biggest source of support on your journey?

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What now?

Hubby and I had a talk yesterday, and I told him that I needed to know how he felt about all of this. He said that he knows this journey has been very stressful and painful for me and that makes him want to stop TTC, but he still really wants a baby. So we are in the same place. We both really want a baby, but we can’t handle the stress and pain of TTC right now, and we are going to take some time off for awhile.

I’ve not really told you much about hubby. Hubby and I have been together for over seven years, and he is my very best friend. He is so kind and considerate, and he is the funniest person I know. Hubby grew up in a very close, loving family, and he has always wanted babies. Some of you may remember how I have written that having children was never my life’s dream and wanting to have a baby kind of hit me out of nowhere, but I feel like you should know that it has always been hubby’s dream. He wants this just as much, if not more, than I do.

Yesterday hubby said something that brought back the hope. He starts fire academy on Tuesday and will be done at the end of March. After he is done, he will be a state certified fire fighter, and he hopes to get a full time job with a fire department. This means he will be making more than we make combined right now and he will be working 24 hour shifts with a 48 hour break in between them. The original plan was that I would be able to quit my job and stay home after I had the baby, and he would be home enough that we could raise our baby together. But we no longer have that baby. Back to the hope: last night hubby said that if we don’t have a viable pregnancy before he starts a full time fire job, we can start the adoption process. We aren’t going to give up on having our own biological child, but we are going to start taking the steps needed have a baby–even if it isn’t genetically linked to us.

This might seem like a huge step that came out of nowhere, but I’ve actually said from the beginning of TTC that I like the idea of adoption, and even if we can have our own biological children, I would consider adoption. We are going for a mc follow-up appointment with my midwife this afternoon, and I have a sickening feeling that we are about to enter into a world of expensive tests and procedures that aren’t covered by insurance and won’t guarantee us a child. As much as I long to carry our child for nine months and give birth to a tiny human who is part hubby and part me, I would rather put all of that money towards saving a child’s life and know for certain that the time and emotional energy that I am investing will lead to me being a mother. We are considering international adoption which can take up to three years, so if this is the route we have to take, we want to start the process as soon as possible.

I know that adoption is a big deal. It is expensive and emotional and long and not an easy undertaking. We’ll cross that bridge when/if we get there. Nothing is set in stone right now, but I feel a lot better knowing that hubby and I are on the same page, and we have a plan. We will be parents. And if we get halfway through the adoption process and I actually get pregnant with a sticky baby? Then my heart might just explode because I will be so happy that we will get two children.

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Waiting

I feel like I have so much to say, but when I sit down in front of the computer, it is so overwhelming that I go blank. I guess I’ll start with what I’ve been struggling with the most lately: waiting. I’m sure every couple that has struggled having a baby will agree that there is so much waiting involved, and sometimes it can be downright intolerable. Every cycle is a waiting game. First, you wait for af to end (af=aunt flo, for help with all of the abbreviations, visit this site: http://www.babycenter.com/community-help-abbreviations). Then, you wait to ovulate. Then you wait for your next af. If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, most OBGYNs say you have to wait a year before they will run tests. If you have a mc, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can start trying again. Some women find out that their babies aren’t growing and have to wait to pass them naturally. If you have multiple mc’s, most OBGYNs say you have to wait until you have three mc’s before they will run tests.

Like I said, there is a lot of waiting.

I am one of the most impatient people I know. Seriously. There is quite possibly nothing I hate more than being forced to wait. In May 2011, hubby and I decided to try to start a family, which was a big deal because I never wanted children. I was never one of those girls who dreamed of getting married and having children, and while all the other girls were cooing over babies, I was cringing. I honestly cannot tell you what changed my mind, but my baby clock went off and I knew that I wanted to be a mother. But we had to wait. We didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t start TTC until I found a full time job, and once I did, we had to wait for the insurance to kick in. Then we started trying in August of 2011, and after 9 months of impatient waiting that only ended in disappointment, I finally got that positive test in May. But then I had two mc’s in a row, and we are preventing for two cycles before we can try again.

So that’s where we are now. I just started my second cycle post mc, so we are waiting for my next af so we can start trying again. It is so frustrating to wait when I feel like I’ve been waiting forever, and I might possibly have to solution to our baby problem. I have a lot of hope that the progesterone will help, but I’m trusting my midwife (more about the wonderful midwife who prescribed me the progesterone in a later post, I promise) and waiting those two cycles so that my body can heal. To be completely honest, I am a little relieved that the pressure is off for a couple of months–my heart just can’t take more disappointment right now, and for two months, I don’t have to worry about negative HPTs or possible losses.

Did any of you struggle with waiting when you were TTC? I’ve heard some women say waiting to ovulate is worse than the 2ww–do you agree? Have you had to take time off from TTC at any point?

-Danielle

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