Random Thoughts

Friday, November 5, 2010
The appointment with the new (temporary) doctor is this morning, and there is so much going on in my noggin that I am currently incapable of writing a coherent post. So I give you, bullet points:
  • I almost pulled out my favorite cardigan to wear this morning, and then had a flash of my sad and lonely plum colored, ruffle shirt. I wore my (then) favorite ruffled shirt as well as a necklace that used to belong to my husband's grandmother when we went to have that fateful ultrasound last November. I've never worn it since. So instead of my favorite cardigan I am wearing a sweater I might not even really like. If it's bad news today and that sweater hits the Goodwill bag, I won't miss it.
  • The bitchy ultrasound tech who told me we had lost our baby last year? She was pregnant. I don't know why I focus on that.
  • I am wavering between paralyzing fear and some very zen moments. I have a feeling that either way I am going to need a long nap this afternoon after all that wavering.
  • My very smart therapist taught me that, when I am in the grips of an extremely frightening "what if" scenario in my head, I should just walk all the way through it. As in - if I have fibroids, I probably won't even get the news today, there will be testing, there will be options, I'll have some sort of procedure to remove them, and then maybe all the muck will be gone so we can actually get pregnant. So really, most of the news the doctor can deliver today, I've already heard!
  • Because of my aforementioned amazingly awful health insurance, I can't so much as look in the direction of a doctor that has anything to do with fertility (or rather, lack thereof). So I am trying to be grateful that I have something to go to a doctor for that isn't directly linked to infertility. So maybe, maybe (can you feel the zen?) this is a blessing in disguise.
  • The woman who called me to remind me of my appointment yesterday had the same name as my Grandma. I am taking that as a good sign.
And with that, my crazy thoughts and I are off. Hopefully I haven't eaten all my fingernails by the time I get there.

Because I am an Moron

Friday, October 29, 2010
So, the cramping pain situation hasn't gotten any better, except that now there is some spotting involved. Because what is some cramping without a little spotting thrown into the mix? I mean, I am already worried enough about the cramping. Let's make it a party!

My parents are visiting this week, so I haven't had a lot of time to myself. And in general I require a substantial amount of "down time," especially when I am stressed. I've also been keeping a full blown freak-out at bay, so I have been in one of those just-keep-my-head-down-and-keep-moving modes. But I knew enough to know that going with them to babysit my adorable niece and nephew today was not in my best interest. I love those kids to pieces, but sometimes it's like they're wearing flashing neon signs over their heads that say "I am the closest you'll ever get to a baby!"

I took the day off work, and the husband and I were going to go do something fun and relaxing, just the two of us. Except I woke up with more cramping, and I am overly tired and I think my hormones are out of whack, which was basically the infertile equivalent of a perfect storm. The husband and I couldn't decide what to do, mainly because I am a pitiful mess. So we decide I should just go get in the shower to get things rolling...and what should happen during my first few quiet moments to myself all week? Ah yes, there's the meltdown we've all been waiting for! It was a fall down on my knees while simultaneously shaking my fists at the sky and snotting all over myself type of morning.

Eventually I compose myself and we decide to indulge in three of our favorite things - good pizza, a used bookstore and a movie. Perfect! But then, in my belly full of pizza and bag 'o used books happiness, guess what movie I picked? Life as We Know It (see: title of this post). I honestly have no idea what I was thinking, but it was a good thing we opted for the matinee so that there were only two other people in the theater to listen to my audible sobbing. Seriously...MORON.

The good news is, my sister-in-law (who knows the gist of our fertility problems) sent my parents home with homemade peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies. So at least there's that.

In Which I Freak Out

Monday, October 25, 2010
So the first cycle that we're off the bench and back from the self-imposed break, of course something happens. Of course it does. I had horrible cramping and just general discomfort in addition to all the loveliness that happens at the beginning of a new cycle. But I kept thinking - okay, bring it on, this could be the start of a great cycle. And then the cramping just kept going, and going, and going. I am now on CD11 and even though the "other stuff" has stopped, I am still feeling crampy and just general pressure in the center of my lower abdomen.

Since we just moved we're staying at my parents vacation house in the middle of nowhere, and so of course I don't have a doctor here. I didn't intend to find one until we found a house and settled down in a much larger city. I had been avoiding google like the plague, because I know looking up my symptoms will do nothing but add to my panic. But a glass of wine of Friday night meant that I went for it, and of course found nothing but horribly scary stuff. The diagnosis that matched my symptoms most accurately was uterine fibroids.

My Mom is a nurse so I bring this up with her the next day, and she says "that is what I had." Now - I knew that she had a hysterectomy after having me, but I thought that was some complication from childbirth and I knew she was done having kids at that point. I didn't know it was because of fibroids and I certainly didn't know she was 32 (ugh, 32!!!!) when it happened. I'll be 31 in three months. Cue deafcon five freak out...

So I was left with the decision, does it bother me enough to find a doctor here, knowing that I will only see this person for a month or two at most? Or do I just try and convince myself I am fine, not scared to death and not in pain for the next two months so I can find one doctor when we move and stick with her? Ultimately my reasons were dumb (I will have to forward more records, etc) and after a long talk with my incredibly understanding husband, I called today to make an appointment. They can't get me in until Monday the 8th, which seems like an eternity from where I am standing.

I am also wearing the OvWatch this cycle because peeing on those ovulation sticks makes me a little nuts, and usually on CD11 I am met with the happy "Fertile Day 1" message. Today? Nothing. If anyone is looking for me, I'll be the one muttering to myself and rocking back and forth in the corner.

A Break From the Break

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I alluded to this awhile ago, but now it's actually true - we've left the Midwest behind and are firmly (or really, not so firmly) planted in the Carolinas! We actually closed on our condo, packed up a UHaul, and got out of dodge...still seems completely surreal. It was insanely stressful and exhausting. So stressful, actually, that I think it was the cause of my anovulation in July and August. In the end we sold our condo twice and when the sale fell apart the first time and we had to unpack all our things without moving an inch, I...shall we say...lost my shit a little. Both my acupuncturist and my therapist told me separately that they thought we should take a little break until I got my mental state in order, which was essentially a nice way of saying "put down the thermometer and back away very, very slowly." I really wavered about what to do, as taking a break translated to the panic ridden side of my brain as "you are LOSING TIME!" But in the end, it was really a matter of distraction. There were so many logistics to figure out and so much to do, that I packed up all my baby makin' things into one bag and just toted it along with me like a sidekick. So this month will be the first that we've actually timed things and "tried" since July.

I never would have guessed I would be typing these words but, I think the break was a good idea. It gave me a little time to take a breath and think about approaching all of this in a new way. Mainly, the idea of getting pregnant as something that I allow, something that happens through me, and not something I can white knuckle and bully into existence. That has definitely been one of the most painful parts of all this for me - the idea that even if I do A, B & C, it will not necessarily equal D, no matter how hard I try. That's not to say that I won't still have my white knuckle moments (oh how I love to be in control) but admitting all the ways I was actually manipulating my life to try and wield some control over my fertility was eye opening. And that's really just the bitch of all this, isn't it? When you want something so badly you can actually feel an emptiness in your body, you will gladly do anything at all that might give you one more iota of hope.

So anyway, a little breathing room and a change of scenery and we're ready to give it another go. The plan is to try naturally until the end of the year and then we'll begin the process of finding doctors out here and navigating an absolutely painful health insurance plan. Cheers to being back in the game...

Life Rafts

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sometimes I come across a quote or an article that rings so true to me, I cling to it like a life raft. Right now I am reading "The Infertility Cure" by Randine Lewis and in the beginning, there is a passage from the author that brings tears to my eyes. Not tears of sadness, but because there is another person out there who so deeply understands this situation (and that person just happens to be both a doctor and an acupuncturist, who also struggled with infertility). Here it is:

"I can't know the pain you may have experienced in your quest for conception - the disappointment, the frustration, the hope and the hopelessness of each negative pregnancy test. Perhaps you, like me, have felt the heartbreak of conceiving and losing a child. Perhaps, like me, you have given the power over your own body to doctors in the hope that somehow they will make everything better. I don't know why we have been chosen to undertake such a painful journey, why we must go through such struggles to bring our own children into the world. But I do know that when we look into our babies' faces, they will never have to wonder if they were really wanted. Ours are the children who, no matter how they came to us, will look at their parents and know, from the deepest place in their heart, how much we cherish them, and how we labored to give them life. And in that there is no greater security and no greater gift."

I also think I love this so much because it makes it seem like there is a reason behind it, that its not just senseless suffering. Maybe we were destined to have this struggle so that we'll be better mothers, so that our children will grow up knowing that they are cherished every single day. Today, I am grateful for life rafts.

The Truth

Sunday, August 15, 2010
I've heard it said that when the universe is trying to give you a message it starts in a whisper, then turns into a shout, and eventually beats over the head if you still aren't listening. (I think it was Oprah who said that, who seems like a cheesy person to quote for some reason, but she said it and I like it, so let's roll with it).

The universe has been trying to give me a message about getting my mental health in balance for quite some time now. And when I say mental health I mean things like extreme guilt over situations outside my control, beating myself up for things and berating myself for others (my inability to get pregnant, for example). The messages started with my acupuncturist, then with some books she suggested, then with other books and a few movies that just came into my life, and now with people telling me things at the most inexplicably random times. I won't get into the messages in detail because I feel like this post is "out there" enough as it is, but its very safe to say that the universe is about to bludgeon me to death with one particular message: Tell Yourself The Truth.

It's a hard thing, the truth. It's slippery. Not always easy to define. What is true for one person can absolutely not be true for another. But the point is - I need to start telling myself my truths. Is it really true that I will never have a baby? Probably not. Is it really true that I am somehow broken or damaged? Maybe, but not beyond repair. Can I absolutely know its true that my "good eggs" are drying up by the minute? No. Is it true that if we don't get pregnant this month, I am a failure? No. Is it true that my inability to get pregnant is punishment for something I've done? That I am a bad person? No, it's not.

So instead of filling my head with all of these negative and seemingly untrue thoughts, what if I started to tell myself the truth? What if I stopped making a bad situation worse by being so damn hard on myself? It's a lot easier said that done, that's for sure. And if any of you know of that magic switch where I can turn off all the negative crap that goes through my head, by all means, do tell. But for now, maybe I'll start with a few things I know to be true...

The truth is, infertility is not a punishment.

The truth is, I should cut myself some slack.

The truth is, I am afraid.

The truth is, there are just as many reasons to believe we will get pregnant.

The truth is, I am really sick of taking prenatal vitamins with no "natal."

The truth is, I am tired of all the worrying.

The truth is, sometimes it feels like the wanting will swallow me whole.

The truth is, letting go of my negative thoughts feels like freedom.

The truth is, getting pregnant isn't solely my responsibility.

The truth is, there is no reason to feel so much guilt.

The truth is, I can't force this.

The truth is, there are lessons to be learned in this situation.

The truth is, I can't wait to be someones Mom.

It's Not You, It's Me

Monday, August 9, 2010
There are some big changes looming in our life right now - mainly, a cross country move out East. It's something we have both wanted for quite awhile and while we're both really excited, the logistics of the move are going to be a little outrageous (to say the least). Logistics like putting our stuff into storage twice, living at my parent's lake house until we find a place of our own, etc. I mean, why do things the simple way when you can complicate the hell out of it, right?

And of course, this means that I am leaving behind my circle of doctors and ((tear)) my acupuncturist. While we're living in limbo for a few months until we settle in the city where we want to be, I am going to be sans any kind of medical professional. Part of me thinks this sounds like a little piece of heaven...I just get to live my life for a few months! And then the other part of me is currently sitting in a corner, wringing her hands and rocking back and forth, muttering about losing precious time.

As we all know, stress is cryptonite to a reproductive system. And one of the top three stressful events in life? Moving. When it looked like we were going to move in June, a move that ultimately fell apart and we had to unpack all our things without setting foot out the door (which, really, could be a means of torture better than most I've heard of) my ovulation cycle basically just shut down. So I am already preparing myself for the havoc this could wreak on our hopes of having a baby anytime soon. Because you know, why live in the present when I can thoroughly stress myself out about things that haven't even happened yet? Ugh.

All of this led to a long conversation with my acupuncturist last week, where she suggested that instead of stressing myself out more over the next few months, we just stop actively trying for a little while. And instead, I focus on making myself as healthy as possible - eating really well, exercising, etc. for no other reason that to achieve a higher level of health and to treat myself kindly. Translation: back away from the BBT chart, loony tunes.

So again, part of me thinks this sounds like freedom. Breaking up with my basal body thermometer? No peeing on sticks? No wearing watches to bed? Not hounding down our "optimal" time each month like the reproductive Sherlock Holmes? Ahhh. But here is the thing - I know myself well enough to know that the feeling of freedom will only last so long. Eventually my frightened, panicky self will take over and convince me that we're wasting time, this is crazy, and I am already looking down the barrel at 40! (I am 30)

I've already gone back and forth a hundred times and have yet to reach a conclusion about what feels "right" for me. After a long talk with my husband, who was in total agreement that I release my death grip on my thermometer, he asked if I wanted him to just go take it off my bedside table and put it "somewhere safe for the time being." My reaction? I imagine it equates to someone taking away the last fix from an addict. In my defense, he does lose things a lot...

Some Background

Thursday, August 5, 2010
I realized early on that there are different schools of logic when it comes to fertility, and based on a lot of research and some really strong gut instincts I decided that an Eastern Medicine approach was the right one for me. Don't get me wrong - I am grateful for Western Medicine and it absolutely has it's time and place (I still employ it on a regular basis). But the thing is, the Western way of doing things has never really served me in terms of dealing with chronic problems. In my experience, most doctors treat the symptoms and the specific problem rather than getting to the root of what is causing the issue in the first place. Case in point - I have a rather severe case of asthma. For most of my college and immediate post-college years, I was stuck in a vicious cycle of getting sick, having an asthma attack, taking steroids to control the asthma that basically annihilated my immune system, which made it easy for me to get sick again, so I had another attack, so I had to take steroids...you get the point. No one ever thought to do anything different, even when I begged for relief.

About two years ago I sought out the help of an acupuncturist. Those needles were a hurdle for me, but I was desperate. When I sat in the office and listed my litany of medical issues, for the first time in my life someone looked at me and said, "that all makes sense." Eastern Medicine views the body as one large connected organism, and when something is off in one area that means the rest will suffer as well. The way Eastern philosophies were explained to me resonated so deeply that it gave me chills. It has been a long process and honestly, it took me a little while to trust in this new way of thinking. But I've been seeing the same acupuncturist for two years now and I am happy to say that in that time I've had one asthma attack (as opposed to 5-6 a year) which I overcame without the need for steroids. In my world, that is a big deal.

So last year around this time when we realized we were ready for some babies in our life, I of course told my acupuncturist. My husband and I started trying and as I've mentioned, got pregnant pretty much right away. But as I've also mentioned, that was apparently the end of that. In my quiet moments, I still know that this Eastern approach is the right one for me. I've seen too many results in my own body to question its success. And when I went to my OB/GYN in June to start a conversation about infertility, because we decided it was time for baseline hormone level testing and the like, it just didn't feel right. Granted, it could just be my doctor, but I don't feel like she really listened or was receptive to my concerns. It felt cold and sterile. And then when I found out that my seemingly amazing health insurance (which covers acupuncture) won't pay a dime for as much as a band-aid if the word "infertility" is mentioned, I took that as a sign to stay on my path. Use the doctors for all the testing and to find out what's wrong, but when it comes to solutions try it the natural way first. There is a time and a place for Western interventions, yes, but this isn't it.

I am writing this mostly as a reminder to myself, to take a deep breath and remember that I have choices. I decided on this path. There are options. 90% of the time I know this is the right choice for me. But those other 10%, when my ovaries have stopped working and entire reproductive system seems to be on strike, and my lizard brain (as Martha Beck describes it) is shouting, "OH MY GOD! SOMETHING IS REALLY WRONG THIS TIME! GET YOURSELF TO AN ULTRASOUND MACHINE, STAT!" I have to actively remind myself to tune out the fear. Because...my God the fear. Sometimes I think it will swallow me whole.

Houston, We Have a Problem.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010
As of this month, we've officially been trying to have a baby for one calendar year. It most definitely hasn't been twelve consistent months (the first pregnancy and miscarriage in themselves meant four solid months of no trying) but it is a painful milestone nonetheless. And on top of this loveliest of anniversaries, I haven't ovulated since May. It seems my ovaries, after 29 years of doing their job, have picked this time in my life to take a little hiatus. An ovarian siesta, if you will.

So of course I have researched and googled and pulled out my own personal library of books that now take up an embarrassing amount of space in our house. (Speaking of the books - I wonder at what point some of us could actually be given an honorary obstetrics degree? Because seriously, I know more about this crap than I ever cared to know. I am pretty sure I could draw an outline of the basic female anatomy and give a list of the hormones involved in a reproductive cycle in five minutes flat. That has to count for something).

Anyway. The "answers" I found to my current lack of ovulation, much like the answer to the majority of fertility problems, is that it could be a lot of different things. And the best part? I haven't even missed my normal ovulation window yet. I am just not seeing the symptoms that I am gearing up to ovulate (and naturally, my friend the smiley face is alluding me once again) so I've already jumped ahead at least five days and proceeded to torture myself into tears. The answer I keep coming up with the most is that stress can lead to annovulation, which is such good news. Because not ovulating doesn't stress me out at ALL...I'll just remain calm and take a few deep breaths, and all will be well with the world. RIGHT.

The Bad Days

Thursday, July 15, 2010
They come out of nowhere, I tell you. One minute I am optimistic and even looking forward to the "two week wait." Those happy moments where I allow myself to imagine that this will be the month those pregnancy tests turn positive. And then the day that I am supposed to ovulate arrives, and I wake up all excited to pee on my little stick. I sit there in my pajamas, happily awaiting my smiley face to appear because I usually ovulate on Day 15 like clockwork. But as soon as I am convinced that I usually do something at a certain time, I get a curve ball thrown in my face. No smiley face today, maam. Barely even a line.

And so starts the spiral. What's wrong now? Is this the other shoe dropping? Do I have a blockage in my tubes? Cysts on my ovaries? Did I just ovulate too early and miss the window? Did we not try at the right times this month? Has my entire uterus just up and left? Do I even HAVE ovaries anymore?

I try to practice all the techniques I've learned from the countless books I've read - question my thoughts (is it really true my ovaries have left? probably not), take a deep breath, be present, generally just not freak the f*ck out. I can do those things when I am having a normal day but of course that's not when you need to manage your emotions the most. I "manage" so well that by the time I get out of the shower and my unknowing husband greets me with a simple "good morning" I burst into tears.

It still shocks me what a roller coaster this is. I often think about when we started trying to have a baby, how innocently excited I was about the whole process. I was down right giddy with excitement the very first time we tried because - what if? Days like this I feel like patting that former version of me on the head and saying, "Go get yourself a glass of wine, Pollyanna. It's going to be a long ride."

Here Goes Nothing

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So, I guess the only place to start is from the beginning.

I was one of those little girls who played "house" and "school" for fun. I had a serious penchant for Cabbage Patch Kids and consistently had one of them in tow for the better part of five years. Aside from a briefly independent feminist streak in college, I've always known that I want to have kids.

My husband and I met in college and dated for a month shy of ten years before we got married. Our second wedding anniversary is this coming September, and we were married for a year before we started trying to have a baby. You can see where this is going...

On our second month of trying, we got pregnant. Seeing as how I have always had a deep seated fear that I would struggle to have children (a fear with no basis in reality at all, besides maybe the fact that my Mom struggled to have me) I was completely thrilled that we got pregnant so fast. I let out an epic sigh of relief - a breath I had been holding for years without realizing it. We told my parents at four weeks because its impossible for me to keep anything from them. I told my best friend because she was nearing the end of her own first pregnancy, and wouldn't it be fun if we were pregnant at the same time?

I am considered "high risk" because of a previous blood clot, likely caused by being on the pill (which I was on since I was about 16, due to incredibly painful periods). So, I had an ultrasound at just under six weeks and we saw a heartbeat. It was one of the most surreal and beautiful moments of my entire life. It was happening - we were having a baby. At 11 weeks, we found out that we lost the baby. If finding out I was pregnant was one of the highest highs I've ever experienced, this was by far the lowest low. All of that happened in November 2009, and we've been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant again ever since.

I have been hoovering around infertility blogs for about two months now, devouring all the information I can get my hands on. I've been watching from a distance but decided its time to dip my toe into the water and join in. There is a whole community full of support waiting at the ready, but I have been hesitant to take part because (as my best friend wisely pointed out to me today) I think I've been in denial that this is happening at all. It's all still very fresh...that word "infertility." Not a lot of people in my life know my struggle because I don't want to be reminded of it everywhere I go (which I realize is a joke, because the thought is never more than a heartbeat away). But for that reason and a few others, I have decided to write this blog anonymously. I need the support, but I also need the buffer of privacy. And this way, I can be more honest than I would be if I were afraid I could bump into you at Walgreens, right in the middle of a ovulation predictor and pregnancy test fix.

So in a nutshell, that is my story. I've always used writing as an outlet so between that and the community that I know awaits, here's hoping for a little healing...