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.


  1. Ugh, I feel your pain! I used to get so upset with the nurses at my RE's office. I'd call with question after question, and one nurse actually referred to charting just as you had mentioned that some medical professionals do--"antiquated." I honestly don't think it is antiquated at all! Sometimes I think all this science/medicine drives us backwards. But I do kind of agree with your friend's advice to put away the charts for a bit. Maybe during your trip to Aruba? ;-) That's what we did for our (babymaking) vacation last summer and it worked! I drove myself so crazy by analyzing my stats that I think I made things worse for myself. Hang in there, girlie. I KNOW this is going to happen for you.


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