Writing these sentences almost still feels like a dream. Well, I should rephrase, it actually feels like a nightmare. If you or someone close to you has battled with infertility, I wish I could reach out and hug them through the screen. It’s something I would not wish on my worst enemy. The process is like a big rollercoaster filled with ups and downs, and when you are down, not only are you down but IVF punches you in the face. It’s a war on your body and your mind. I am trying to be calm when I write this because my mom reads my blog and she would be upset if I dropped the F-Bomb in every sentence. But let me tell you… I am holding it in.
I debated a lot about whether I wanted to share my experience with you all. It’s been such a personal and individual journey filled with endless heart break. It was when I first read Caitlin’s posts on the subject and started opening up to the people around me that I found that infertility is much more common than you might think. A big part of my process has been being open with those around me because there is no way I would have been able to endure this process staying silent. The more I talked to people and the more I talked about IVF, the more people I was able to connect with and learn from. I usually don’t get this personal, but the more I thought about it, if I am able to help 1 person with the things I learned from this experience, it will all be worth it. I want those women(and men) going through these struggles to know that you are not alone. It has been harder than I can ever put into words. I am going to try to dig in as deep as I can so if you don’t want to hear about my uterus, it’s probably a good time to stop reading. For those that have any more specific questions, please feel free to reach out. By email, by DM, however you feel comfortable. I am happy to help in any way I can. Please know I do not consider myself a great writer but I hope to share my thoughts and feelings with you as eloquently as I can. While I am sharing my experience, please also be aware that everyone’s experience with infertility is completely different. I am not stating any of these things as fact, only letting you know what happened to me, how I experienced it, and what I learned.
How we got to fertility treatments
Rewind to May 28th 2015 when Blake and I got married. It was the biggest and most important thing we had been through together to date and handsdown the best day of my life. After the wedding, we both knew we were ready to grow our family. We visited my gynecologist and got the run down. Get off birth control, genetic blood testing, prenatal vitamins, and time to get pregnant. Sounded simple right? After stopping birth control and letting my body normalize from the years and years on the pill, month by month would go by without good news. I know everyone tells you, “be patient, it will happen” but as the time started to pass, I started to worry. We then made a trip to our Gyno and started to talk about next steps. Before trying any fertility medications, we tried a natural IUI (Intrauterine insemination) where they basically place sperm inside my uterus to facilitate fertilization. Apologies for any and all science speak from here on out… I figure if you are still reading this you want to hear the in and outs so I will try to leave little out. It came and went… negative. At that point, our doctor decided it was time for us to go see a fertility specialist.
Moving onto a fertility doctor
I found my doctor through the recommendation of friends in the area. When it comes to the importance of finding the right doctor for you, you have to like this place, and like it alot. You will potentially be spending a lot of time here so it’s important you like the people working there, and especially feel confident and trust your doctor. I had no idea I would have this kind of intimate relationship with a doctor’s office because I never thought I would have to consider IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). We had a consult with our doctor and came up with a plan to move forward with. We would try some hormone therapy medications (i.e. clomid, or femara) and try an IUI again to increase our chances of getting pregnant. Now, what I didn’t do when we met with our doctor was talk about our insurance and what our options were. This was my BIGGEST mistake. If you have recently started down this road or have just started fertility treatments and you have not fully digested whether or not you have insurance coverage and discussed with your doctor, STOP EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW. While Blake and I had done INSANE research on our insurance coverage, we did not discuss with the doctor or staff fully. I think we kind of got lost in the shuffle in a busy week. While you want to point the finger, it’s really on you to know your coverage and make the most of it. We didn’t realize that our gynecologist wasted one of our coverage treatments on her office services. We wasted away coverage on a small procedure when we could have saved the coverage for IVF treatment. While I never thought I would have needed to save any of my benefits for IVF, I wish that the office would have counseled me better on our best strategy based on what we had to work with. Some people are not even lucky enough to have any coverage but if you have some, no matter how small it is, it’s so important to make sure you are utilizing it smartly. Some offices have shared risk plans where you can pay for a certain amount for treatment and if you are unsuccessful you sometimes get refunded a certain portion of costs. When you are spending thousands of dollars on treatment and medications, it’s important to get all of this information, as overwhelming as if might be, upfront. Trust me, get that info so you can have it in your back pocket.
The dreaded HSG test
First things first, when you see a fertility specialist, they require an HSG test. This is the first of many uncomfortable things to come. Basically, they inject dye into your uterus while you are sitting on an x-ray table, legs in stirrups mind you, and they shoot the dye in to see whether it flows through your uterus and fallopian tubes. They take x-rays of this process to confirm or deny any structural problems you may have that could be an obstacle in getting pregnant. This was the first time that I went to trusty old GOOGLE and asked, “What is an HSG test?” what I read… was terrifying. This was my first lesson. The internet is a scary place and to take it with a grain of salt. I read horror upon horror story of the pain of this procedure. The whole reason it’s painful is that when the dye is injected it causes your uterus to cramp. I am not someone that takes a lot of medication, but I popped a valium or I would have likely had a panic attack in the waiting room. It helped me to relax and while the experience was not comfortable, it was not nearly as bad as I had read. We got the results of our test and found that everything was 100 clear so there were no issues. So we were sent back to our doctor for treatment.
4 Failed IUI’s
The whole process is beyond overwhelming. I am lucky that Blake was able to come to so many doctors appointments with me because you have super limited time in each appointment to ask the important questions you have because everything just moves so quickly. I feel like when you are dealing with any health issue, you really have to be an advocate for yourself because it’s easy to lose track of your questions and get sidetracked when you are in a busy office. I started to keep a document where I would jot down questions for my doctor and track my progress. I am someone who is soothed by information. I want to know everything about what is happening in my body as scientifically as possible. I have had other friends that would rather be blissfully unaware. Everyone has their own way of coping so find what keeps you focused and centered and do it. I tried clomid for 1 cycle and that medication thinned my uterine lining so we switched to Femara. Femara is used off label in a similar way as Clomid to stimulate ovulation. You start by taking pills to stimulate egg growth and around the time of ovulation, you take a trigger injection to “trigger” ovulation. Then the next day you go in for your IUI procedure which is usually compared to the discomfort of a pap smear. I tended to get insanely bad cramps during this procedure so my doctor recommended 1 low dose valium to relax the muscles in my uterus and this was a life saver. After my second IUI at the fertility doctor, she wanted to take a closer look inside my uterus to make sure she didn’t see anything that would be hurting my odds of getting pregnant. I had a hysteroscopy, which is where they put a tiny camera inside your uterus to take a look around. Everything was clear which was great but I still did not have any answers on why I could not get pregnant. For our last 2 IUI cycles, I did injectable medications instead of oral meds. These “stim meds” are used to stimulate egg growth and egg quantity. So you do this carefully to get more than 1 egg growing to increase your chances. This was my first introduction to injections. I will talk more on that later (I HATE NEEDLES). After 4 failed attempts, thousands of dollars, you don’t even realize how much time just flies by. Our insurance coverage was flying out the window along with prescription medication coverage was filling up fast. Not to mention, our spirits were down. Way down. While friends were getting pregnant left and right at an almost comical rate, I was still not pregnant. We knew we would have to think about next steps.
IVF, I can’t believe we got here
Before I started on this journey, you would hear the term “IVF” thrown around so easily and casually. While it’s true that many women go through the process, it’s not casual… NOT AT ALL. I think the fact that it’s so commonplace now takes away from the fact that it is an incredibly difficult, taxing, emotional, physical process that can have the most amazing rewards or the most deeply painful results. It took me a minute to wrap my head around the fact that I was indeed in this position. When you want something bad enough, it’s incredible the kind of strength you can find to pull you through. While I was down I was not out. I was ready. I was insanely nervous, read 3 books and was back to my dear friend google on all the forums reading everyone’s experiences from the good and bad to the ugly. I had also started acupuncture to prepare for my IVF cycle. Which was a whole other can of worms that I am happy to elaborate on at another time. I was as prepared as I could be. After all this waiting, I was finally ready to move forward.
It started again with a big talk with the doctor and making a treatment plan. Blake and I were SO excited after so much failure to finally be taking a more aggressive approach to getting pregnant. While I was excited.. I was completely terrified at the same time. As a 33 year old woman, I was in a good position for treatment. Blake is 31 and had everything tested and was perfectly healthy. We were lucky. The odds were with us. Some people are not that lucky including a lot of my personal friends and family. But, we were ready to start… the most expensive experiment of our lives. In the quickest way of explaining the process, you “stim” or stimulate follicle growth with injections and turn your ovaries into what I have come to call “an egg factory.” The goal being to create as many mature follicles for Egg Retrieval surgery as possible. You will then take a trigger injection to trigger ovulation and then the follicles will be harvested through surgery and fertilized with sperm. Then you sit and wait to see if they develop into embryos. Not so simple, but for those unfamiliar with the process, there you have it. From there on out, it’s an INSANE whirlwind. The doctor orders your medicine and there on your doorstep you get the scariest package of your life. A box filled with needles and medications. The box (well boxes) that came were filled with vials of meds, the scariest long needles you have ever seen, bottles of pills and other things. Overwhelming is an understatement. We piled our medications into a huge cooler and brought it to the doctors office. Nothing to see here, just a box of terror… no big deal. The nurses at the doctor’s office showed us how to mix and administer all the medications. Blake and I decided it was best for him to take full control of the medications so I could just swoop in, get my meds, and run back to the couch so I didn’t need to prolong the experience. The best piece of advice someone gave me was to put on my favorite show and have a sweet treat waiting to get me through shots. Make the experience as positive as possible. My shows of choice: The Office + Friends. Some people ice their injection sites so it causes less pain but I didn’t find that to help me and adding another step was not for me. You use these stim meds for anywhere up to 10-14 days depending on when you typically ovulate. (For most women this is day 14) As each day goes by, I became more fatigued, and more uncomfortable. I remember it being explained that it was the equivalent of having a bunch of grapes hanging in each ovary. Doesn’t sound very fun does it? What I didn’t mention previously is the side effects from all the medications even going as far back to the clomid. Again, please remember these are my personal experiences and everyone reacts different to the medications. I just want to be as transparent about my experience as possible. Even when it’s less than inspiring. The medicines made me INSANELY bloated. This was a constant. No matter what I was taking whether it be stim meds or hormones, I would be incredibly bloated. Weight gain came from also doing treatments for a year. Again, just what someone needs while going through this experience. More on that later. It’s all kind of part of it. I think the emotional part of the process is one of the biggest side effects of it all. I can’t begin to explain the kind of emotional place I was in. Crying at literally everything. So many hormones coursing through my body. It was a lot to endure without even taking into account the physical stuff. Poor Blake… and anyone that had to be around me at that time. It’s honestly all a mind game. I remember 2 days in right before my injections I was crying because I literally could not believe we had to do two injections in a row. I was just unraveling. Thankfully Blake is so calm and was able to put my mind back into perspective. Each injection was for a greater purpose. Getting us to our goal. While I am very much a realist, I fought hard to get and stay in a positive mindset. Toward the end it all became part of our routine. A day or two before surgery, I had to take naps during the day because I literally could not stay awake. I was wearing gym pants everyday because none of my pants would fit my insanely bloated stomach. I could barely reach down to tie my shoes. I was exhausted, but I was ready to get these eggs out!
Egg Retrieval Day
I have only had 2 surgeries in my life so I was VERY nervous about the surgery. I know everyone thinks it’s so routine but I felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack the night before. I just NEEDED everything to go well. It had to. The biggest thing the day before was prepping what I would need during my recovery. Now, it all might be a little TMI but, we have gone past playing coi here. Stool softener was a must to prepare for those not so fun post surgery side effects, lots of electrolyte drinks (gatorade + pedialyte), BRAT diet foods, and one of the most important things, my heating pad. I ordered this one because it reminded me of being in acupuncture. I was as ready as I could ever be.
Surgery day went smoothly and easily. Before I knew it I was in the recovery room still woozy from anesthesia demanding how many eggs were retrieved. I probably asked the nurse like 5 times. We got 12 eggs. I had 20 brewing in my ovaries so the doctor said she felt this to be a little low but still good. So we did it. I was sent home to recover.
Post Egg Retrieval Recovery
When you go through the IVF process, you read packets of information about the process etc in great detail. When I say packet it might as well be a small book. TONS of info that you need to read, digest and sign off on that you have understood everything. Again, more overwhelming experiences. On some of the last pages you find the complications due to surgery. I should have paid more attention to those. After surgery I was confronted with a lot of discomfort. Basically the follicles are removed from their shells and the shells remain in your ovaries and fill with fluid post surgery. This means, insane bloating and discomfort. I still have photos on my phone where I literally look 5 months pregnant because I was so bloated from fluid. I will save you the visual. I was basically laying flat for most of my recovery with alternating heating pads. The heating pads really soothed the ache and I highly recommend having multiple on hand. A few nights into recovery, I woke up in the middle of the night at 3am. I started to feel more discomfort and immediately felt sick and started to sweat bullets. I ran to the bathroom and before I could even get there I had sharp excruciating pain. The worst I have ever felt in my life. Blake had been sleeping and he finally woke up when I was laying on my back on the bathroom floor screaming from the pain rolling back and forth. I had no idea what was happening or what was wrong. Blake asked if we should go to the ER but I literally was in so much pain I could not move. What seemed like an eternity passed and somehow it lessened and I was able to make it back in the bed. I was now terrified to go back to sleep. The next day, we made an emergency appointment at our Doctors office. My doctor explained that we likely had a Ovarian Torsion. What happens is when your ovaries twist, it cuts the blood supply and creates the immense pain. What is really scary about Ovarian Torsion is that it is a very serious complication and if the ovaries do not untwist on their own, you need emergency surgery to untwist them and in most cases, you have a high chance of damage to your ovaries. The percentage of this happening is small, but, of course… it happened to me. I still have nightmares about it and after it happened I swore I would never do IVF again. Time passed and after a week at home resting, I finally left the house. Some women bounce back after just 1 or 2 days of recovery but this was not the case for me. I don’t know who those women are, but teach me your ways.
In the meantime when we were dealing with the after surgery complications, our embryos were developing and by day 6 the embryologists know which have developed to the farthest stage successfully and which ones have not made it. I remember I was home alone on the couch while Blake ran to the store to grab more food for dinner. Our doctor called and said she had some bad news: We only had 1 embryo that made it. Was this really happening? One embryo. I was hysterical. I desperately called Blake who didn’t have reception in the supermarket. I then called my sister who could not even understand me through the hysterics on the phone. I remember her voice that day… it was so filled with sadness. I can’t explain the feeling of having your future just flash before your eyes like that. It was clear from this, and from what the doctor told me, that the reason we were having problems getting pregnant was because of my egg quality. So insult to injury, my eggs are bad, and now we only had 1 chance from this whole process to get pregnant. We were devastated.
Blake and I had already decided we wanted to do genetic testing to ensure a safe and healthy baby so cells from our 1 embryo were sent off to get tested. We waited and we hoped that our one chance would be a good one. Weeks later, we got the call from our doctors office and our embryo was healthy. The best piece of news we had received in a long time. We were ready to start the process of our Embryo Transfer.
Prepping for Embryo Transfer
The actual prep for the transfer is a lot less intense than the retrieval but it’s equally challenging with all the hormones. I spent a few weeks loading up on estrogen and taking other injections to find out right before my transfer that my lining was too thin. GREAT. If you don’t get your lining to a certain thickness, your embryo won’t be able to implant. Having a thick uterus lining is key and it was terrible news to hear everything we had done did not prepare my uterus to where it needed to be for implantation. Yet another obstacle in our journey. I remember the day our doctor told us we would have to start all over with our transfer medications. Right after I had scheduled an acupuncture appointment. This was not smart timing on my part but I tried to suck it up and head to my appointment. I got on the table and tried my best to relax. I had needles all over my face, arms, legs and my acupuncturist went to put my final needles in my feet and I felt a sting. Now, keep in mind, when your muscles are tense, sometimes the needles might sting a bit but they can adjust them no problem. It was not the day for a painful needle. I started balling uncontrollably and I couldn’t move because my whole face and body was covered in needles. My doctor started to clean my tears with cotton balls. It was a disaster. I was so overwhelmed and totally defeated having to start the whole embryo transfer process again. But, here we were. Round two. IVF can be one struggle after another and you just have to keep on pushing forward as best and as hard as you can. I was so close to the finish line. I had to pull it together and get back down to business.
For the second transfer attempt, we decided to use the same medications I used to stimulate my eggs to help my body increase it’s hormone levels more naturally. So we did what they call a “light stim cycle” while being careful not to encourage too many follicles to grow but enough where it would grow my uterine lining and raise the natural levels of hormones in my body. All of the estrogen I was still taking was giving me massive migraines but after some time they would pass. All the same side effects came with these meds including the bloating and emotional messiness. I was finally getting closer to my transfer and got cleared to start my progesterone injections. This is major! It means you are locked into a date and time and there is no turning back. Another injection hurdle: the progesterone injection. This was one of the scariest things to come in the mail. Since they are an intramuscular injection, they are long. 1.5 inches to be exact…. I know. Can you feel the trembling……….. I texted and called all my IVF friends to get their suggestions on how to get through it. The injections go into your butt so Blake did these as well. The first time, I was psyching myself out bouncing back and forth in the living room. Blake goes, “JUST DO IT!” I had to face my fear… it was going to happen. I stood up for these injections and squeezed a pillow and in the end, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it’s not great, but I think I had built everything up so badly in my head. After the injection I immediately massaged it and sat on a heating pad. This helped ALOT. Apparently when you are doing these for a while, the progesterone can form little lumps from not distributing so it can make things more painful. It’s no picnic and I had a sore ass. But what are you gonna do. It was game time. We were getting closer to our transfer day.
Night Before Embryo Transfer
I feel like the whole process made me nervous but this night I was the most excited. Everything was becoming very real. I could potentially be pregnant tomorrow. Well, not specifically but soon. Since my doctor wanted me on couch potato status for 3 days post-transfer, I wanted to get everything prepared the night before. I went shopping for my favorite snacks, picked up some books and magazines, cleaned the house, and laid out my favorite pajamas to be ready to come home and relax.
Embryo Transfer Day!
This day was so surreal. I had scheduled my acupuncturist to come give me treatment before and after the transfer so I would be at my most relaxed state. We had a nice private room where the procedure was taking place and I got my treatment and Blake played some soothing music on his phone. (We actually played SirusXM Spa Radio. It makes me feel like I am getting a massage at a Spa. You have to check it out!) After my treatment was done, my doctor came in to give us the run down on what was going to happen. Before I knew it, our embryologist rolled in this crazy machine that was housing our embryo. It was WILD. His microscope projected onto the tv and we were able to see the embryo on the screen. Science is such a beautiful thing and it’s still a miracle to me that people are able to be helped in this way to have children. The embryo goes into a catheter and is then implanted via guided ultrasound into the uterus. We watched it all on the tv. I was so euphoric from my acupuncture, and so at peace, I felt so incredible good about the whole day. And just like that, we were done. I layed down for another 20 minutes and I was sent home to rest.
The Two Week Wait
The first part of IVF is hard but when you get to this point, the Two Week Wait or “TWW” was the longest two weeks of my life. Like the whole process, it’s all about waiting and waiting some more. So it only makes sense the last part of the step is WAITING AGAIN. I know. Those who have been there, you know. The first couple days we spent having Blake wait on me hand and foot. I did start to get antsy on day 2. But I binge watched my favorite shows, read my books and stayed off my computer as much as possible. I was drinking and eating as many warm things as possible. It’s said to help with implantation and to keep your uterus warm and happy. Once I was off bedrest, we decided to take a couple day trip down to San Diego. Blake had to work and it was a nice time for me to just get away and take a break. During the TWW, you are also still taking progesterone shots so that was part of our process along with the other hormones I was on. I was desperately trying to distract myself so stop looking back at my calendar to see how many days were left until my blood work. Our friends, our family, and everyone around us were so excited to hear the happy news. Our fingers were crossed. It’s funny writing this now because I am forgetting some of the small details and medication we did during this step. I think it’s fair to say that sometimes, you kind of just block out some of your experiences because of how hard you struggled through them. While some of my memories are vivid, I feel like some moments I completely blocked out. I am digressing, but this wait was just as torturous as I had read in every fertility book and on every forum. But, if I had a bit of advice, keep as busy as possible. I know my busiest days and moments helped me to stop from obsessing over everything.
The day of your pregnancy blood work, I headed in early in the morning for my blood draw. I remember telling the nurse how nervous I was. I was… freaking out. We give them our cell phone number and they would call us as soon as possible most likely in the early afternoon. I spent the whole day glued to my phone afraid to even hop in the shower in fear I would miss it. Now I know I said this earlier, but I am a realist and always try to be open to the realistic possibility that things could go good or bad. We are really talking like 50/50 chances here of whether we got pregnant. While you think about those outcomes, all our friends and family were throwing as much love and positive energy at us as they could. It almost started to annoy me because I knew that it was not a 100% done deal. I guess that is the realistic side of me talking but, I had to face the fact that there were two outcomes possible and I needed to at least be aware of that going into this.
My phone ended up ringing and I feel like it was happening in slow motion. I picked up and while I put the phone on speaker Blake came running into the room from the office. “Hi Kimberly, I have some very sad news…” I fell into my hands and I became hysterical handing the phone off to Blake who had to finish the phone call with our doctor. I was crying so hard I couldn’t see or speak. Lola came over and started to lick the tears off of my face while Blake finished talking to the doctor. Our IVF had failed and it was over. That has to have been the darkest moment of my life. The words seemed to linger and it was like someone closing the doors on our hope to have a family. Devastated doesn’t begin to cover what we were both feeling. I was inconsolable. If you had looked into my eyes, I likely had a blank stare on my face for the next few hours. We sat together on the couch and through the end of my hysterics, I said, “We have to try again.” The hours and days following were hard. Everyone that knew we had our transfer was waiting for the news. Everyone knew we would have answers, and were waiting for news from us. Not only having to process what had happened between the two of us but we would have to be vocal and let our families and friends know what we had just found out. Living that devastation over and over again. I decided that I could not be faced with anyone directly asking me about it or I would have broken down. So I started to send texts out to everyone in the loop to let them know what happened, that I didn’t want to talk about it, but that I would reach out if I needed anything. Everyone was so respectful and gave us the space and time we needed to heal. I wouldn’t say you ever fully heal from those experiences but, we grow and we become stronger. Writing and rereading these results have tears welled up in my eyes. But I have learned that through this process, I have found this hidden strength and resilience. IVF can also be terribly hard on relationships and I am so happy to have Blake in my life who has been the most supportive person through my wild and crazy moments, and through some of these really messed up times of struggle. We are stronger together.
Moving on to our 2nd IVF Cycle
After our failed IVF, Blake and I decided that my body and our minds, and our calendars needed a break from the rigorous doctors appointments, injection schedules, acupuncture appointments, and constant stress on my body. We took some time off to just be together and to live. It’s been about 2 months since our bad news and I have to say I feel like my soul has had a refresh. Since Blake and I decided to do another IVF cycle, we wanted to fully let go and give my body a break before we started again.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what i could have done better to get better results. I was thinking back about my realistic approach to the process and always balancing the fact that this was never a 100% solution to my fertility problem. While everyone deals with these struggles in their own way, I realized that maybe I didn’t let go 100%. Maybe I wasn’t as positive as I could have been. Could it be my fault that I had such bad results? Is this on me for not doing my best?? I consider myself a very positive person. If you ask my friends, they will back that up. But this process was much harder on me than I ever could have imagined.
Having the opportunity to go through IVF again, I feel a shift inside. Because this WILL HAPPEN for us. I know deep down that Blake and I will be be able to grow our family one way or another. And something has shifted inside me. We can never give up. We are strong. Much stronger than we can ever imagine. The strength you pull from to get you through these hard times is truly a miracle. After my time off to clear my head, I am feeling so focused, and feeling so much love. I am going to hit the ground running with a positive spirit and I know that we are going to make it through again. I actually started to read this book and found it’s words to be so helpful preparing for my next cycle. The powerful message of turning fear into faith(whatever that means to you) is something I am working on. Love over Fear. It has been a good read so far and I am only 3 chapters in!
I am an open book and while it’s very hard for me to put myself out there like this, I hope that my experience can help others open up about their struggles with infertility. Know that you are not alone. We are all here going through this together. I have found it so helpful to speak up and not feel so alone in it all. I have several friends going through IVF right now and I feel like we all hold each other up when we most need it. Whatever you are dealing with, no matter how big or small, NEVER GIVE UP.
While we gear up for another IVF cycle soon, I hope to share bits and pieces with you. Maybe that is just on instagram stories, maybe it’s some more blog content. I don’t really know what it will be. I am just going to go with the flow, and live the best life I know how to. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this post. It has taken me weeks. I am nervous to press publish, but I feel like writing about it has been a cathartic experience to me. I know it’s all over the place, and I know at some points it probably doesn’t make any sense. But it’s me and now it’s here. To all of you out there fighting the fight, I am with you.