Jason's Noshember - 2014

Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Update #10

We are in the home stretch, so close to reaching $1,000 to help a couple with their infertility treatments.

It's been awhile since I have shared what I'm looking like, so here you go. Help with what you can, or share this so that others can help!

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Final Week Update!

I'm a week behind on introducing the third couple, but we can just meet two this week.

It has been about two and a half years since we decided to talk to our doctor about our inability to conceive. There didn't seem to be any issues with me, so she suggested that we start by having Luke tested to see if everything was ok with him. The reason for that being that testing Luke would be less invasive and less costly than testing me. After some testing and consultation, we were diagnosed with male factor infertility. Luke was found to have low testosterone, which was affecting his sperm count and mobility, making it difficult for us to conceive naturally. While this was hard news to take, we were glad to finally have some definite answers.
Going in we had a feeling this might be what the doctors would find, because Luke had an accident when he was a young teenager. As a result of that accident, he had to have a testicle removed. Although the tests revealed that his body was trying to correct this issue, it just didn't have what it needed to do that on its own. Finding this out was a blessing, but also a struggle, because Luke needs to be taking a testosterone supplement to help him feel better and his body function correctly. The down side of that is if he does get this testosterone supplement, it will completely wipe out our chances of having a baby. Knowing that, we decided to explore our best options for achieving pregnancy so that Luke could then be treated for his testosterone deficiency.
We were referred by Luke's doctor to a fertility clinic just over a year ago. His recommendation was for us to talk to a fertility specialist about pursuing IUI--intrauterine insemination. This is a lower cost procedure that is less involved, and less invasive, than IVF [which most people think of first when we tell them about having a procedure to help us conceive]. Our insurance does not over ANY of these appointments, medicines, or procedures, so IUI was a much more feasible option for us to try.
IUI requires me to be on one fertility medicine prior to the procedure. Then, when the time is right, we have a very simple procedure that is done at our doctor's office. I am awake for the procedure, it is not painful, and it literally only takes a few minutes after Luke's sample is prepped.
Our first IUI was last summer. Unfortunately Luke's sample was VERY low that day--lower than what they said would be acceptable to go forward with IUI. When they told us the numbers (after the procedure was complete) we were really disheartened. We assumed the sample had been good that day, because they had used it. So to find out after the fact that it was very low was extremely hard for us. We had spent a lot of money and had been through a lot emotionally to have even lower chances of conceiving with such a low sample.
My doctor called me a couple of days later to check in with me, and I was very transparent about how we felt. I told her had we known how low that sample was, we would have opted to try again another time. Thankfully, she acknowledged my disappointment and told me that if we did not achieve a pregnancy with that round, she would give us a credit and we could try again whenever we were ready. We would still have to pay for one medicine and some testing on me prior to another procedure, but that would be a much smaller amount compared to paying for another IUI round completely. We were completely blown away by our doctors's generosity and understanding.
Thank goodness I was very transparent with my doctor that day, because our first IUI was unsuccessful. After that heart breaking experience, we decided that we would try IUI again when our schedules and savings permitted it.
So almost a year later, to the day, we decided to give IUI another shot. I went to the doctor in August and got started with my testing to be sure this would be an acceptable month for a procedure. My doctor asked why I had not been back in a year, and I told her partly because of scheduling and partly because of the costs involved. We had a great conversation, and I got good news that day--we were good to go forward with another IUI that month.
We were very hopeful with our second IUI, because Luke's numbers were twice as high as they had been the year before--it was his best count to date!! We were really encouraged by how things looked and decided to move forward with the procedure. Another huge blessing was that our doctor did not charge us anything for that second IUI---it was 100% FREE. Who can say they have been to the doctor for appointments and procedures and walked away owing NOTHING?? That is absolutely unheard of!! We knew that was a huge blessing from God, and we were absolutely blown away by His goodness. Good numbers and a free procedure made us feel like this was it---that God had orchestrated all of this and we would conceive with that second IUI.
So we had to wait two weeks to test and see if the IUI was a success. Two weeks later we test, only to find ourselves disappointed, yet again. The IUI had failed. We were crushed. We were confused. We were angry. We have been battling infertility for over three years, and we are no closer to having a baby now than when we first started all of this. Yet our desire is still the same as it has always been: we want to have a baby. We want to be parents. Luke and I love kids, and just want to have one of our own. I cannot tell you how difficult this has been for us, especially since my job is working with kids and families. Add to that the fact that Luke is one of my best volunteers, and is amazing with kids. This has been so very hard for us. Fortunately, it has brought Luke and I closer as a couple. We refuse to let infertility pull us apart. We are in this together, for as long as it takes.
After two failed IUIs, we have been forced to look at other options. After much consideration and prayer, we have decided to take our doctor's recommendation and move forward with IVF. This was not an easy decision for us, as it is a VERY costly procedure. However, it is still less costly than adoption. We do not feel called to adopt at this point in our lives. That's not to say that we wouldn't try and adopt later, but for now we would really like to have a Collins baby. I know that may be hard to understand, but it is truly where we are in our journey.
When talking to our doctor about IVF, she told us she feels like our chances to conceive a baby with IVF are really good. A lot of people who try IVF either have female factor infertility (PCOS, endometriosis, etc.) or they have unexplained infertility (which means they have no medical reason as to why they cannot conceive). Because we have been diagnosed with male factor infertility, we know what our problem is--Luke's sperm doesn't have the volume and mobility it needs to get where it needs to be. With IVF, our doctor will take the "best of the best" and combine it with my eggs to make embryos. Then, we will transfer those embryos back into me with hopes of achieving a pregnancy. My body is functioning the way it should to be able to conceive. There don't seem to be any issues with my "systems", which is a huge blessing and makes us good candidates for IVF. With IVF you don't need a lot of sperm to be successful, you just need some quality sperm--which have been present in every one of Luke's samples. Given all that information, we have decided to try IVF.

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Week 2 Couple

Hopefully we can start to gain some steam again. I'm hoping that everyone that is able and willing to update is done. I'm hoping that a few more of you can join in this project and help a couple conceive a child. This is a chance to bring a new life into the world...just think of how cool that is.

I'm going to try to post this differently, it turns out the posts are kind of funky on Facebook. If you are on a mobile device, please go through your desktop if you have issues.

-Jason

I would like to introduce the second couple:

We have been going through infertility treatments for six years. In 2008 Justin joined the military, and we were stationed in Oahu Hawaii Schofield Barracks. After months of confusing Dr. appointments I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I was send to a specialst at Tripler Army Medical Center where I was diagnosed with hyperplasia without atypia and had to have a D & C to remove the hyerplasia. After six endometrial biopsys I was finally released to an infertility specialist.Justin was then deployed to Iraq and we had to wait a year to try to concieve, and by that time his contract with the military had expired. We no longer have military insurance to cover the costs.We started out with clomid as most infertile couples do...and eventually moved on to femara / metformin / and the ovidrel injection and ( IUI ) intrauterine insemination.After my hysterosalpingogram (hsg) proving all clear for my tubes, our first IUI was a success! Unfortunately because of an undiagnosed MTHFR gene mutation (clotting disorder) the pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 13 weeks.We now have undergone 4 IUI's and have been unsuccessful in becoming pregnant and the time has come to move on to IVF. Recently I have found out that endometriosis and a MTHFR muation has been added to my diagnosis which makes it more difficult to become pregnant.In Vitro Fertilazation is very expensive and so we are asking for help.Any un-used IVF medications that can be donated would be also appreciated!A little bit can go a long way...and we are doing everything we can to reach our goal! We will also pay it forward when our time comes! Indiana insurance is not mandated to cover infertility costs so we are required to pay cash for all procedures and medications

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Update didn't post

I have a update for everyone to read but it's not posting to Facebook. Please go here https://fundly.com/jason-s-noshember-2014/blog and read.

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Check Out My Latest Campaign Update

I'm stealing this from the following page: http://www.iaac.ca/en/patient-s-perspective-what-infertility-did-to-my-marriage

Please don't forget to donate any amount, or share this with your friends that may want to donate. This is an opportunity to make a difference.

Columns
Patient's Perspective: What Infertility Did To My Marriage

Charmaine Graham
Spring 2013
University. Job. Romance. Engagement. Wedding. House. Baby. This was my life PLAN. I personally think most women hope that this will be the way their life progresses. I sure did. And while I had quite a few glitches in my earlier years that might have changed my course, I did everything I could to make this plan my reality.

I will be honest. When my husband and I had been married for a few years and decided it was time to start our family, it was initially my idea. He was aware of my fantasy of having five children, and he seemed agreeable. When I told him one day it was time to begin the next adventure and have a baby, he took a week or two to adjust, and then he was on board. I think he liked the idea of me staying at home and raising our children, baking cookies and doing crafts, having a hot meal on the table when he got home from work, his children running around, happy and content. He is a pure romantic, in truth, much more so than I. I had a plan; he had an ideal.

Soon enough, we realized our lives were going to take a turn that neither of us had ever expected. I got so far with my big plan, but in the end, life had another path for me when I hit the last life-goal: baby.

When we found out that fateful afternoon, after 16 months of trying to conceive, that my fallopian tubes were both blocked and we would have to do IVF to even try to have a child, we were both pretty stunned. I was overwhelmed with guilt and anger; my husband was overwhelmed with fear. My guilt and anger made sense, but what was his fear about? Well, he wasn't afraid of losing our dream of having children; he was afraid of losing me. Like I said, a true romantic. My husband was always relatively gracious about the fact that our infertility struggle stemmed from my physical complications, and he knew me well enough by this time in our years together to be aware that my determination and drive to get pregnant could easily allow him to escape my focus. When it was clear that IVF was the point at which we would start our journey to have a child, my husband said one very clear thing to me before we started the process: "I have no problem doing IVF in our pursuit to have a child, but I will NOT do it at the expense of our marriage."

You might think that his desire to stay close to me would be a blessing, that his fear of losing me to the process, combined with my determination to have a child, would help our marriage and would support us through this process. However, in truth, our different approaches and goals (mine to get pregnant, his to maintain a happy marriage) actually caused some complications that we hadn’t anticipated. In my determination to get pregnant at all costs, I lost sight of my husband and could focus only on my treatments. Calling in on day one of my period, starting my hormones, monitoring my follicles and hormone levels, retrieving my eggs, waiting for the phone call to inform me of the fertilization rate, completing an embryo transfer, all followed by 14 days of dreaded waiting, and finally, the beta, which was sometimes complicated by a miscarriage. What did my husband focus on? Well, he focused on trying to get me back, because in all truth, he had lost me. Every decision, every thought in my head was based solely on my cycle and on the functions of my reproductive system, and my husband was incredibly frustrated by that. He was alone in the experience. He was alone in life. And honestly, for him, it seemed there was little he could do to change or fix anything. He began to resent my frustrations and my pain, wondering why “just the two of us together” wasn't enough for me.

Did I care that he was struggling with our situation? Of course I did. But my internal drive to achieve and complete a pregnancy became so overwhelming that I couldn't really relate to his perspective. It made sense what he was feeling; I understood what he was talking about. I wanted to care. But I merely took the information about how he was feeling and what his experience was like and used it as a mirror to view my own feelings. He was frustrated because I wasn't present like I had been in the past. I wasn't my old care-free, fun-loving and happy self, delighted in all the little things that happened between us each day.
For my part, I felt he was putting more pressure on me to pretend to be in a place I really wasn't. I felt that he really didn't care whether we had children, and he couldn't relate to the pain and frustration of all I had to go through every month to even try to have a child. And I couldn't understand why he didn't recognize that what I was going through was so much harder than what he was experiencing. Our separate frustrations had developed to such a level – in hindsight, not unexpectedly or unrealistically – that we couldn't hear each other anymore.

Then one day something changed. Jim and I went to visit some really close friends, and they were acting strangely. I couldn't understand what was going on. When we left their house and jumped in the car, Jim looked at me, grabbed my hand and told me that our friends were acting weird and felt upset because they were pregnant, and they could not even begin to figure out a way to break the news to me.

How could fate be so cruel? They weren't even married yet and this pregnancy was completely unplanned. I sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. Finally, my tears subsided and Jim grasped my hand tighter and said, "Honey, you have your own path, and you'll get there; their path isn't your path." I was able to look across at him and see true compassion in his eyes. Having my husband acknowledge my sadness like that was immense for me. It’s totally different for someone to say, "Of course this hurts. Of course this sucks. You'll find your way and I will be here right beside you" rather than "You should be grateful for what you have” or “Just stop being so dramatic and relax." On that day, this difference changed our course.

A few weeks later, at an appointment with the infertility specialist, I blurted out, "I think I’m done for a while." My husband almost fell on the floor in shock; I think the specialist almost did too! When I walked into that appointment, I had no idea that I would quit infertility treatment that day, but I felt such immense relief in finally letting go. I went home and decided to open up my horizons and see what the world had in store for me. Would I go back to school? Would I travel? Would I look into adoption? Or would I just let the world guide me? I mentioned adoption to my husband, and he reminded me that he had suggested it earlier, but I just wasn't ready to listen at that time. So I enrolled back in school and filed some adoption paperwork in the following weeks. Little did I know that, in less than two years from the day I quit fertility treatments, I would be graced with not one but two healthy newborn babies, who would enter our lives through private domestic adoption. The two most precious children to ever walk this earth, I promise you!

In the years that have followed, I’ve been involved in infertility support groups, and I’ve come to realize that when couples go through the struggle of infertility, feelings of separation and frustration are relatively common. The women who have shared their experiences with me have often admitted that it’s a challenge to stay connected with their husbands when they feel like their husbands don't really understand how hard the process is for them – how, regardless of where the infertility issues originate, the women still have to do most of the work, enduring most of the physical struggles. And how often do these men come to support groups? How often do they write articles about their feelings, articles that will be published to share with others in the same boat? If you look at any of the chat groups or dialogue boards out there in North America, most of the people doing the chatting or posting are women. This fact begs the following question: Do we really pay attention to the ways infertility affects men? Can we understand how they feel when they use so few words to talk about it, if they even talk about it at all? Can we accept that their process is different than ours and maybe accept that their path is okay too?

A friend of mine once said that if a house is on fire, a husband will save his wife first, but a wife will save her children first. I think there is some truth in this statement. At least there is for me. About six months after we had our son, I remember looking across the room at my husband and realizing that I actually owed him an apology for cutting him out of so much of my life during those years. And as I looked at him that evening, realizing how much pain he must have endured as well, I gave him my heartfelt apologies for not really listening to his experience, advice, perspective or feelings. Yes, his experience was different than mine. He wanted me more than he wanted a child. But I realized that night that instead of being frustrated with him for not feeling the pain I was feeling, maybe I could have listened and learned a bit more from him about what really mattered. Maybe, just maybe, I might have gone a bit slower, been a bit softer on myself and on him, thus nurturing the one relationship which mattered most. To my surprise, he apologized as well for getting frustrated with my drive to have a pregnancy. He apologized for not supporting me more, for not encouraging me to hit the IVF highway at 140 miles an hour, and for instead trying to get me to stop for a bit and find some perspective. Maybe, just maybe, we could have worked together a bit more than we did. Hindsight truly is 20/20.

But my story and the story of my marriage don’t end there. I believed when we finally had our baby that everything would be perfect for us. I now realize that while travelling the infertility road with my husband was certainly difficult and complicated, parenting together has been even more so. We not only had our own personal adult struggles and challenges, but added into the mix, and just 19 months apart, we had become responsible for two other human beings who of course had their own personalities and immense needs that added to our challenges and struggles. Introduce sleep deprivation, differing styles of parenting, and different goals and dreams for our children, combined with children who naturally have their own frustrations, illnesses, developmental goals you don't want to ignore, and, well, things certainly don’t get any easier. I think it’s important to acknowledge all of this. The reality is that parenting is a tough gig, no matter how or when you arrived at the starting line.

Just as people gave stupid advice during our infertility struggles, people gave us stupid parenting advice too. They judged our parenting, and we judged each other's parenting as well. I loved my children so immensely that I would become frustrated when others might mistakenly see one of my children's personality traits as a sign of failure or concern instead of as a blessing or a sign of something bigger to come. As well, I had a very specific and rather irrational ideal of how I would parent, considering I was going to be the best parent EVER after struggling with infertility. I had to learn that children are fluid creatures, that require constant attention and assessment – just exactly like marriage.

My husband and I have grown; we’ve changed; we’ve hurt one another on occasion, and we’ve even lost touch with one another at certain points along the road. There have been times when I was not sure whether my marriage would survive the hardships of parenting or the changes my husband and I would endure in our relationship after we became parents. In fact, a few years back, the D Word was quietly mentioned as an option. We decided to keep moving forward and fix anything that came our way, no matter what. Thankfully, it worked. Now we have a relatively peaceful time of it: the kids are good, and we’ve reconnected. Nevertheless I’m always aware that life is full of surprises, and I’ve learned that it takes a lot of work to stay on track.

When I decided to write an article about marriage and infertility, I asked my husband for his thoughts on our infertility years. Surprisingly, he said they were "absolutely the worst years of [his] life." I was shocked. I responded, "What about that time we thought about a divorce for a tiny bit, when we just seemed so stuck?” He replied with absolutely no hesitation whatsoever: "Nope. IVF was, by far, WORSE."

"Really", I responded?

His final answer, "ABSOLUTELY".

I guess after 18 years with this man, I still might not totally understand how hard it was for him to go down the infertility road with me. But I now know, without a doubt, that I’ll have a whole lifetime with him to try and sort it out. And try I will.

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Not shaving - Update

We are already on the 6th day of Noshember, and I just wanted to post the first picture (to prove that I'm actually doing this) of the results so far. I'm itching today for the first time, and I'm kicking myself for not using moisturizer this morning.

Please remember to share this campaign, it's really a great opportunity to help someone.

Also, thanks again to all of your support so far, I'm truly humbled.

-Jason

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

First Week, First Possible Couple

First off, thank you so much for the first people to donate, I can't thank you enough. I am so excited to be able to help a couple with their dreams of starting a family. As promised, I'm going to choose a couple a week, and all the donors will have the opportunity to vote on who we can help.

If you are able to, please donate to my Noshember, if you are unable to donate, please share with your friends and anyone that might be able to help (or share).

-Jason

Meet the first couple, Tiffany and Joey:

My name is Tiffany. My husband, Joey, and I have been married since April 28th, 2012. I am 28 years old and my husband is 30 years old. We are both relatively healthy individuals, who work hard and lead good lives. We had always talked about starting a family, once we were married. Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant. We started trying to conceive shortly after we got married.

After 6 months or so of trying, unsuccessfully, we began to suspect that something was preventing us from conceiving. I made an appointment with my OBGYN to find out what could be the issue. She decided she would do exploratory surgery, to attempt to pin-point the cause of our lack of success. The results of surgery determined that I had endometriosis. The doctor removed what endometriosis I had. Post-operation, the doctor’s prognosis was that she didn’t see there being too much of a problem for us to get pregnant, naturally, on our own.

Over the next 3-4 months, we continued to try to conceive on our own. However, we were still unsuccessful. Still having no success, the doctor recommended we try the fertility drug, Clomid, for a couple of cycles. This too was unsuccessful, so we were then referred to a fertility specialist.

Upon review of both my husband’s tests, and my tests, the specialist seemed to think everything looked good but was unsure as to why we had been unable to get pregnant. He voiced to us that trying IUI would give us a better chance of conceiving. After discussing our options, we excitedly moved forward with what we hoped was going to be a simple process.

We were under the impression that our chances with IUI were great and we would soon be pregnant. So, we optimistically tried the first cycle of IUI with Femara, but were surprised to learn that it did not work. After a total of 3 unsuccessful cycles of IUI, and roughly $2000.00, we discussed with the specialist what the next option would be. His next recommendation was that we try an IUI with an injectable type of medication this go-round. We were told there is a higher success rate with this option, but with that higher success rate came a higher price. We completed 2 rounds of IUI with injectable medication, at roughly $1800.00 ea. Again, we were disappointed to discover that the IUIs were unsuccessful.

Losing hope, we met with the doctor again to discuss what steps should be taken next. Seemingly perplexed, his suggestion was that we schedule another exploratory surgery to see if the endometriosis had returned. He performed the surgery and, disappointingly, the endometriosis had returned. The surgeon removed it all, and suggested that we try another IUI with injectable medication, since the endo had been removed. He was very optimistic about our chances of getting pregnant.

We went through with 1 final IUI, at another $1800.00, and once again, it was unsuccessful. Feeling very defeated, and unable to pay for more procedures, we decided it best for us to just try on our own again for a few months before we looked at any other options.

In September, we decided to seek out a second opinion. We made an appointment to meet with a new fertility specialist. This doctor spent over 2 hours with us discussing everything we had been through and his thoughts on why we hadn’t been able to get pregnant. He decided to order a few blood tests, one of which no doctor had done up to this point. The results came back that my AMA levels were low, meaning I had a lower ovarian reserve than someone my age should have. The doctor wanted to meet with us again to go over the results and discuss with us the options he would recommend. We met with the doctor on October 28th and he told us exactly what we didn’t want to hear! In his opinion, our only real chance at getting pregnant would be through IVF.

My husband and I want a child more than anything, but financially, we just can’t afford to pay for IVF, at a cost of $12,000.00. We have exhausted all of our savings on these unsuccessful IUI treatments, and we are losing hope that we’ll ever experience the joy of becoming a mother and a father. Of course, our insurance doesn’t cover any of the expenses for fertility treatment. We both have always worked full-time. We own our home and we don’t live extravagantly. Neither of us are the type to ask for “hand-outs,” but we just don’t know where else to turn. We desperately want to be parents, and anything you can give will get us that much closer to making that dream a reality. We appreciate you taking the time to read our story, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

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Jason Hartsell posted a new update:
over 9 years ago

Head start

I took the liberty and have a head start for Noshember. I last shaved on Monday, October 27th, and with our newest child born the next morning, I was a little too busy to shave, so the month of November got a little head start. As of right now my beard is as long as the hair on the side of my head. I'll post a picture soon.

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