Sunday, October 30, 2011

I needed a laugh

A fellow blogger's "Infertility Is..." post  (one much better than mine) made me literally laugh out loud the other day. Not just LOLing. Literally, snorting and cackling laughs. Her entry was FABULOUS and I thought I would share my favorite part. 

"Infertility is...hoping cycle after cycle to see this:

But only getting this:

Inspired by her series of contrasting photos, I also came across this funny pic. On occasion, I also feel like HPTs are doing this:

I hope you found that as amusing as I did. I even forced hubby to look at it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Infertility is...

In my classroom, we often give sentence starters. These are supposed to give kids who have a hard time brainstorming writing ideas from scratch a place to start. When I saw RESOLVE's "Infertility is..." blog contest, I decided to take a shot at finishing that sentence. However, I had the opposite problem as the kid who can't brainstorm. I found it really challenging to creatively fit the parameters of the contest. Here is my interpretation...

Infertility is...full of reasons to laugh
... knowing the schedules of the ultrasound technicians, nurses, doctors, and even parking attendants at your RE's practice
... is giving medical professionals a drawn road map of how to locate your ovaries with an ultrasound wand
... a way to justify every mood swing, crying jag, and shopping spree
... gritting your teeth through your 500th baby shower game
... considering setting up a sleeping bag in your RE's waiting room this morning, because you'll have to be there tomorrow morning anyway
... trying to figure out if you can do a head stand against your bed's headboard to make gravity work in your favor

Infertility is...full of reasons to cry
... feeling like you are a marathon runner, who keeps tripping over the hurdles
... the source of intense feelings of failure
... having to endure physical and emotional pain, ranging from discomfort to excruciating
... incredibly expensive. Groceries or Gonal-F this week?
... having some of your friendships change, especially when they become a mom and you don't
... balancing romance and productivity in your sex life
... a condensed and fast forwarded medical education, that you never wanted
... scheduling your appointments, work day, and hobbies around your treatment schedule
... a full time job

Infertility is...above all else, reason to persevere
... rising above the stigma
... holding onto the support of your spouse, friends, and family for dear life
... an opportunity to educate others
... hoping that someday it will be you with the morning sickness, swollen ankles, and labor pains

This post is part of the Infertility Is Blog Contest sponsored by RESOLVE of New England. You can find links to all of the submissions online at their website. For more information about RESOLVE of New England, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Plan

Well, my ultrasound yesterday showed I have a ton of follicular cysts left over from the cycle. So, because we need to wait for them to shrink and reabsorb, we are taking a much needed break from TTC until after the holidays. We go to Aruba in December, and did NOT want to stress about trying to schedule one more IUI or IVF before then, even if we could. So, I go on BCP to help shrink the cysts, and I don't have to take my temperature, get any shots, or have any more dildocam for a while, except for one more appointment next week, with my RE. I'll also keep going with acupuncture and such. Then, we start IVF #1 in January. I'll need that time to psych myself up for it!

So, although I won't be TTC until January, my blog will not take a hiatus! I'll still be writing (and entering some blog contests - stay tuned!).

So, "Don't you....forget about me. Don't. Don't. Don't. Don't."

Monday, October 24, 2011

That's that

Me: "I just got my period."

Hubby: "That's okay. Now you can drink when we go to Aruba in December."

This is one of the many reasons why I love this man.

So that's a wrap on IUI #2. Now, onto the next thing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sniffle, cough

I'm pretty proud of myself. By this time in other cycles (the ones where I actually ovulated) I was biting my nails down to the nibs. I often would have even wasted a pregnancy test or two by now, despite it being way too early to get a positive result. This time, I haven't done any of that.

There are two different reasons why I feel calmer about my TWW this time around:

1. I have an awful cold. I have spent the last three days plowing through at work despite a sore throat, congested sinuses (leading to an entirely blocked ear), and a nasty cough. My class play was on Friday, and I just needed to get through that before I could retire to my pillow/blanket fort on the couch.

2. I met with the RE on Wednesday to discuss the current state of affairs and get some information about IVF. Although we aren't making a decision about this quite yet, it was good to sit down and have her describe the whole process. She is leaving it up to hubby and I as to when we would move to IVF. She is ready to sign off on it now. But, we also have the option of doing more IUIs. I mean, IVF has ridiculously higher odds - 43-55% for someone my age. Those aren't just chances of pregnancy, those are chances of live birth! Big difference. IUIs are between 15-20% for just pregnancy. But, it is an intense process, both physically and emotionally. Of course, we hope it won't come to that, but it is comforting to have a plan in place.

For now, can someone help me out with making this cold go away?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I was browsing the message boards and came across a link to an amazing campaign Redbook Magazine and RESOLVE (The National Infertility Organization) are doing about infertility awareness. They have celebs, readers, authors, etc. post videos about their own infertility experiences. It is SO COMPELLING. Who knew Padma Lakshmi had endometriosis?!

Click and watch a couple.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The curse of knowledge

I have never had more pure fascination with those who subscribe to the "Let go, Let God" way of life. How is it possible? How do they put their fate in the hands of something unknown, and unseen? I have a hard enough time trusting real, breathing people wearing lab coats and name tags.

There is a point when you know too much. I think I have hit that point with infertility. This past week was IUI #2 and I am once again thrown into a cycle of insecurity, fear, and doubt, with just a touch of hope. I wish it was different. I wish I could blindly trust every medical decision made and every medication injected.

This comes down to a tension between old school methods of tracking fertility (I learned from the fertility bible, Taking Charge of Your Fertility) and the perspective of modern, western medicine. The old school way includes tracking your basal body temperature, cervical fluid, cervical position, and symptoms (in addition, I usually chart OPK results, medication, exercise, acupuncture, ultrasounds, blood work, etc.) in order to predict and confirm ovulation. I have done this since January 2010 and it has been very helpful for me to see patterns in my cycles (short luteal phase) and to figure out my long periods of anovulation. Plus, as I have stated before, I am a message board junkie and constantly read forum posts from women who also chart and are in infertility treatment. I feel like there is a lot to be learned from the real experience of these women, even if they don't have MDs.

However, doctors tend to poo-poo charting as "antiquated," despite the practice being around for at least 50 years. I'm sure we all know how they feel about internet medical educations as well. They put  their trust in the medication and lab tests, which does have it's merits. On the other hand, charting is trusted by women from all over the world and both of my acupuncturists have encouraged me to continue. It can be an addictive practice though, and for me, can become too obsessive.

Right now, for example, I am charting through this medicated cycle, despite knowing that the medications can throw off my normal (or, let's be honest, abnormal) patterns. So, my chart is causing me a lot of stress. Basically, it boils down to the fact that ovulation usually looks a certain way on my charts, and this cycle (and the last IUI cycle) my chart isn't showing a clear indication of ovulation. It scares the piss out of me, which in turn, makes me call my RE's office with a lot of questions. Again, it all comes down to the fact that I have read such an overload of information, that sometimes conflicts with the protocols the doctor has in place. Subsequently, I get a lot of condescending and impatient tones on the phone from the nurses answering my questions. I don't mean to be a pain in the ass. I just feel like I have been failed by so many medical professionals before (not necessarily this one) that I fiercely advocate for myself. But their message is, "We know what we are doing."

I was talking to a good friend, who we shall refer to as Armchair RE, about the level of stress the chart and my back and forth with the doctor has been causing me. This poor friend (who is currently very pregnant with a healthy baby, via IVF) has had to put up with A LOT of questions from me and she provides a ton of support, sharing her vast wealth of knowledge constantly. Having been through the ringer of infertility treatments, she really gets what I am feeling. We came to the conclusion that I need to stop charting during these cycles, because it is driving me crazy, more than giving me new information.

One way or another, I have to figure out ways to relax and "trust in the science" as Armchair RE says. Another friend, whom we shall refer to as Yogi Mama, also recommended some meditations on fertility and motherhood.  Maybe getting back to the gym (which I haven't done in 2 months) would be a good idea as well. Seriously though, Hubby and I have done all we can do this cycle, and that needs to be enough for me.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What a difference a year makes

When I sit and think about it, I can actually feel the sensation that went through me that day, last August. We came into the darkened room so excited and full of hope. Then, the next few minutes suddenly became tense and strange. The ultrasound technician was so silent, and I began to try and hone my face reading skills. Nothing. I saw no expression on her face. I realized in that moment, that this was a skill she had honed. A flash of heat went from the tips of my toes through the top of my head. My stomach began to tighten, and I kept looking at hubby, trying to read his expression. "This is not good," I said. Several people came in and out of the room, peering at the screen. "This pregnancy is not viable," were the last words I remember that day.

Okay, so I know that paragraph was a bummer, but I swear, this is a positive post. I have been thinking a lot about how differently I feel now about our miscarriage, struggles with infertility, and prospects in our future, a year after our loss. In August of 2010, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although hubs always kept his optimism (his ridiculously reliable optimism), I was consumed by pain and sadness. I literally thought that the feeling of emptiness would never end. However, in the last couple of months, I feel as though I have turned a serious corner with my ability to keep humor, perspective, and hope, while we continue to try and have a baby.

One example of this is being able to actually focus for more than a few minutes on something other than the status of my menstrual cycle. Until recently, infertility and TTC literally eclipsed nearly every waking (oh hell, and sleeping) moment of my day. It was a constant layer of static in my consciousness. Shopping? Nah, just trying on clothes while thinking about a forum post about PCOS. Having a drink with a friend? Nope, just trying to stay focused on the conversation, while being preoccupied with wondering who will get pregnant next. I might be exaggerating a little, but I have had a lot of guilt about this. I felt like I was not very present in my own life, and in my relationships with others. I have always considered myself to be a good friend, and this problem messed with me. But somehow, with time, I have been able to make a huge amount of improvement with putting TTC out of my mind for longer chunks of time, and being more "in the moment" with whatever I am doing. It isn't perfect, but it is a work in progress, and it is gaining momentum.

Another biggie for me has been getting used to the experience of pregnancy announcements and being close to mommy friends. Several people in my life have had children in the last two years. I think it is pretty easily understandable that this was initially tough for me. Balanced with my excitement and joy, was also mourning and jealousy related to my own desire to be a mommy. However, it is so much easier now than it has been previously.

Mommy-to-be: "Guess what? We are having a baby!"
Me (inner monologue): "Great for them. Why not me?"

Mommy-to-be: "Guess what? We are having a baby!"
Me (inner monologue): "Great for them! Someday, I hope it is me!"

This is quickly followed by the intense urge to babysit and baby hold as much as possible. Hubby started calling this BHT (baby holding time). I also want all the gory details. I want to know about pregnancy symptoms, birth plans, ultrasound results, birth stories, and hopes for the future.

I am lucky to have many supportive friends, some mommies and some not. Being close to a few BFF babies, and being an active part of their lives, has tremendously impacted my ongoing recovery. I don't even think they are aware of it. Some women in my position avoid being near children as much as possible, and also avoid pregnant friends. I feel the opposite compulsion these days. Being around them actually makes me feel better, less isolated even. Maybe it is because I work with children every day. Maybe it is because I deeply love the feeling of holding a newborn. Maybe it is because I see my friendships as life force. Whatever it is, I really don't flinch anymore when hearing about the experience of motherhood from close friends. Sometimes the details are funny (poops gone wrong, forgetting strollers at the mall) and sometimes they aren't (postpartum depression, a baby's health issues, developmental challenges). Either way, I just want to give back some of the support they have given to me.

I guess the point of this post is really to say that I finally feel okay with both where I am, and where my mommy friends are. It might have taken a while to get here, but I have nothing but love and joy for them.

Now, fill me in on how that teething is going...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

32 Rules of Zombieland

Hubby made an excellent suggestion the other night, while I was working on a different writing project. He said, "You should write a survival guide for infertility. Like in Zombieland! Rule #1: Cardio!"

I think he is a genius, so here it goes:

Rule #1: Find your inner Jerry Lewis
You might be in this situation for a long time, so buckle in and find a way to laugh. There will be moments that are scary, ironic, ridiculous, and painful. But, if you can laugh at at least some of it, you will survive. Otherwise, they might have to get the rubber room ready.

Rule #2: Google is both friend and foe
This is a rule that applies to a variety of reasons (not just infertility), but I am telling you right now: I am a hypocrite. I never followed the advice of those who told me to stop researching infertility on the internet. It is like crack for me. I just can’t tear myself away. But, you should prepare yourself for the onslaught of information on the interwebs and know that only a small portion of it is going to be helpful. Go to the most reputable sites you can, take message boards and public forums with a grain of salt, and rely most on information from those who have been in the game for a long time or have spent $100,000 on their M.D. Well...see #3 for an exception to this rule.

Rule #3: Be a critic, interrogator, and investigator with your medical team
While you do have to have some amount of trust, you also have a brain and gut instinct. Disagreeing with a medical professional can feel as scary as sending food back at a restaurant, but every time I ignore my instincts, I regret it. Speak your mind and ask LOTS of questions.

Rule #4: Say goodbye to any modesty and “Hello, stirrups!”
You will soon know your vagina, ovaries, and uterus better than any ultrasound technician, nurse, or doctor. Get used to having people see your naughty bits, both inside and out. I used to be shy about this, but after a while, you are ready to drop your pants for anyone in a lab coat. I should start demanding dinner and a movie first.

Think of it this way, just like those people who give you a bikini wax, I am sure that they not only have seen worse, but barely look at your face anymore.

Rule #5: Think of your plans as a yoga pose - flexible.
When you are in treatment, all of your appointments are based on cycle days and results of the medication. So, although you might have a big meeting at work, a weekend trip to the Cape, or (in my case) a lesson on clock reading scheduled, you might have to throw those plans to the wind if your follicles are growing. I mean really, wouldn't you rather be getting a blood draw than taking a conference call?

I'll be adding to this list over time. If any of my fertility challenged friends want to add to it, don't be shy!

By the way - I'm about a week of injections into this IUI cycle and things are coming along nicely. Please, for God's sake, cross your fingers for me.