Not Fertility Friendly

In the break room this morning, I found donuts and coffee and a big note that said “THANK YOU!”

People are always thanking other people, so who really knows. Maybe it’s some kind of appreciation day I missed because I never check my school email as it is flooded with tons of nonsense from across campus.

I haven’t had any coffee in a few weeks, so I thought I’d have at least a cup (cream, no sugar). As I’m pouring, one of the Admin people comes in and is all, “You know Dan Smith (not his real name), right? We threw him a baby shower.”

I was confused because Dan Smith was just made the new Department Chair, so I thought it was some clever inside joke.

“Why?” I asked.

Yes, when someone told me they’d thrown another person a baby shower, I actually asked why.

“…his wife is having a baby.”

“Oh. Right. Of course.”

I wanted to dump the coffee. It felt tainted. She must not have had any fertility problems because we all know caffeine, sugar, and processed foods are not very fertility friendly. Otherwise, they would have sent CoQ10 and full fat dairy.

Congratulations, Dan Smith. You have a great new promotion and a new baby. I spent thirty minutes on the phone with the government health care exchange trying to figure out a way to not have such suck ass insurance AND I only have one (small) paycheck left until the middle of June.

The Quiet Space

I had my first counseling session this afternoon. I sat down with her and basically said, look, I’ve been through ten years of counseling. I feel like I should be able to counsel myself at this point. Maybe that’s combative. But again, it’s not really a bad thing to have someone’s undivided attention for an hour. Yes, I have to pay her for it, but whatever.

I reached out to a few counselors who listed “infertility” on their website. One woman called me back, and she was nice, but she left this long message about how she wasn’t taking new patients, but she had someone else in mind, someone else in her office, and this person deals specifically with couples going through infertility and adoption. She specifically mentioned adoption, and I don’t know why, but that didn’t sit well with me. The woman I saw today told me over the phone she personally experienced infertility. That made up my mind. Talking to a counselor to sort out your shit is one thing. Talking to a counselor who has personal experience with IF is another. I feel like unless you have been through it, you don’t get it. You don’t know. You can be supportive and amazing, but you just don’t GET IT. I need someone who gets it.

I didn’t ask her about her story, and she didn’t offer it. I said I had an issue with a former counselor who used to tell me too much about her life (but it was crazy stuff, like, locking herself in a bathroom at a family gathering and staying holed up in a cabin for a weekend eating nothing but bananas because she needed the B vitamins). My counselor said that she does occasionally share information about IF, but only because it pertains to the situations. I am ok with that.

For the first 30 minutes, I just spilled my guts about the last two years. The divorce. The job loss. The moving four times. Even the kiddo and his mother and my insecurities about that. She didn’t interrupt me at all, but when I would break to breathe, she would say things like, “When you said this, I feel like some extra tension was attached to it so let’s go back for a moment.”

We talked about how the medical community treats IF. Obviously, they have the same goals as us, but we see the doctor and the doctor says a, b, or c isn’t working, and we leave broken. We are told we are physically broken in some capacity. Even in the dreaded unexplained realm. You are broken, and we don’t know why.

We talked about my jealousy about N and Kiddo’s mother and how he says they had a shitty relationship but how in my head I’ve made it into this magical, beautiful thing with their special tender moments. She said that was my grief about what I imagine having a baby with him would be like. We talked about how I spent a long time even coming to terms with the fact that I wanted to be a mother. My family is super broken, and I didn’t want a kid involved in that. She asked me how I feel now and why I’ve changed my mind, and I couldn’t answer the question. I do feel like I have some lingering issues with actually having a child. I don’t doubt my desire to have a baby, but for some people, it seems so easy for them to want to be a mother. Like, it was  a Day 1 desire. Mine was more like a Day 900. I don’t want to drag a kid through a broken home, which of course assumes I would have a broken home. It doesn’t assume that I might find a good relationship and not get divorced again. She didn’t say any of that. I just thought about it later.

She asked me if I’d written a letter to my baby. Um, the idea of that is terrifying. Paralyzing. No, I said. I hadn’t.

She talked about finding the quiet space, and maybe that is something that would come out in a letter. She said she didn’t know where my quiet space is. I don’t think she meant meditation or yoga or whatever. She meant looking for a place or finding a way to let go. She clarified and didn’t say to let go of the goal of becoming a mother (and we did talk about that distinction, this roller coaster ride of just getting pregnant versus the next 50 + years of having a child), but rather let go of what I can’t control or fix. It sounds obvious, and rationally I know I hold on because I don’t want to let go of control, but honestly I haven’t been in control for a long time. I have no idea what’s going on in my body. None. I think I know, but I don’t know.

I think if I truly let go, and let things unfold the way they’re going to unfold, then that means I have to begin to embrace the idea of not ever having children. Because letting it go means letting it happen the way it’s going to happen and the way it’s going to happen is I might not get pregnant. That is a hard pill to swallow.

I also think I’ve spent the last two years feeling like no time has passed. In my head, my boyfriend and I going on our first date. Then again, I also feel weird to be almost 18 years out of high school. Holy shit, right? Going to counseling today kind of made me realize that I might have finally accepted my infertility. That sounds kind of crazy because I know I’m infertile. I’m seeing a doctor and taking drugs. But I also think I’ve been in denial about it.

I’m the kind of person who overthinks my overthinking, but I feel very out of control. Like, the crying in front of strangers and in the bathroom and in the car and sometimes at work and often at home when I’m by myself and when I talk to people about IF needs to stop. The horrible crying must end. The grief spill needs to end. I’m hoping this is the first step to making that happen. I can talk and write and on and on but I need someone to help me sort it all out. I need someone to say stop, let’s go back to what you just said and work through that part of it.

The luteal phase

Since I’m not in a two week wait this cycle (unless you count the last two years of my life, which is a constant two week wait), I’m calling this The Luteal Phase.

I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to accept the place I’m in right now and, I guess, love the journey. I went to Zumba this morning. My semester is almost over. I’m stressed about money, but that’s nothing new. Honestly, having a three week break is going to be good for me. I can paint the downstairs bathroom, write, and hopefully get through an IUI. Most likely, we’ll do one next cycle providing nothing tragic befalls us on the way, which it usually does. Ooh. That’s not very positive.

I see my counselor this afternoon. We have 50 minutes, which I don’t think will be enough.

 

National Infertility Awareness Week

I ended up going public on Facebook. Everyone was very supportive, except various family members who didn’t comment, which probably means nothing but I took it as they were judging me.

It is National Infertility Awareness Week and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to put it out there in public. IF is such a horrible, shameful, hidden ordeal.

Here’s what I posted. It’s long. Probably too long for FB but I don’t care.

 

When the time came for me to make an announcement about my uterus, I’d always planned for a baby to be inside. Life is often shitty for no reason, so the news about my uterus is that it’s not working. This is supposed to be my “coming out of the infertility closet” thing. Maybe at the end, I’ll feel empowered or whatever, but writing this feels like exposure and what I want to do is crawl into a dark cave and stay there forever. I’ve been struggling with IF (even the acronym is fucking awful) for more than two years. Though the doctor (I’m on my second clinic because the first guy up and left in the middle of one of my treatment cycles) has identified some issues with me, one of which was corrected by surgery I had in December, and the other corrected with medication, we are considered “unexplained” meaning there is no medical reason I can’t get pregnant. I’m normal. He’s normal.

I have an amazing and supportive partner in this process. No, we’re not married. Yes, there are reasons we are pursuing the baby first. No, I’m not interested in discussing those reasons. Our doctor has recommended “more aggressive” treatment, which means “more expensive” treatment. My insurance does not cover any of this. If I told you how much out of pocket we’ve spent, you would spit out your drink. Actually, I’m spitting out my (non-caffeinated, like that makes any difference) drink. I’m not particularly interested in being an IF advocate. I’m not trying to engage any sort of debate. Quite honestly, I’m at an emotional low point and this is part of my coping mechanism. (Writing this status update will not result in me becoming pregnant.)

My friends and family who are aware that we are struggling (and I mean struggling, like this isn’t just a casual deal, it lives in every pore on my body) have been supportive, but often people don’t know what to say to me. I know people try to be helpful, but telling me to relax isn’t helpful. It makes me feel like it’s my fault. Just because I’m a high strung person sometimes doesn’t mean I can’t get pregnant. Crack addicts can have babies. Why can’t I? I guess one of the worst things I’ve heard is that because it’s not happening naturally, I’m not meant to be a mother. So if you feel the need to say that after reading this, please don’t. Mostly I hear that I should stop thinking about it or enjoy the time I have without kids because kids take up so much time and energy. Please recognize that you telling me these things doesn’t change the fact that five days out of every month I feel like a complete and utter failure as a woman.

I am aware that you, as a parent, have struggles. I am aware that sometimes pregnancies are unwanted or unplanned. I am aware that children can break your heart. I am aware some people choose to not have children. Because of past family issues, it took me a long time to make the decision to have a child. Now that I am in an amazing relationship, that decision came much easier and now I can’t. I want to be a success story, but I know we can’t all be success stories. National Infertility Awareness Week is coming up April 20. Thanks for reading.

Pinching, continued.

My left ovary is the one with the cysts. A few days ago I had weird twinging. Today, pretty much all morning up until early afternoon, that same side had some pinching going on. I usually have that same sensation on my right ovary. Rarely on my left. Oddly, my left ovary is the only one that ever responds to Clomid.

By the way, I am doing letrozole next time I cycle. It’s $80, cash pay, as my insurance won’t cover it. I’m done with Clomid (at least for now).

Anyway, so because all of you are doctors, I thought I’d pose this question to you.

I had three cysts in my left ovary. Two simple and one complex. They were relatively small. I mean, they were definitely cysts but they weren’t, like, taking up the entire ovary. Could this pinching I felt today have been ovulation? Can you ovulate from a cyst side? Or is this me reaching too much? OR could this pinching have been the cyst doing something? From what I’ve read, cysts don’t feel slightly pinchy and then go away. Cysts can be hardcore. If anyone has experience with this, I’d love to hear it.

I don’t really think we have a shot at natural conception. We’re not temping or trying or counting days or doing any of that nonsense. I’ll save that stress for a medicated cycle when we actually have a chance. So, I don’t think I’ll be pregnant this cycle, but I am curious about whether or not you can ovulate from an ovary with some cysts.

 

Eat this, not that, just kidding, don’t eat this or that

When I found out I was hypoglycemic, I changed up my diet and focused on reducing carbs and sugar and adding in healthy vegetables. The point was that I needed to eat a complex carb and a protein every two to three hours. I did my best, but will admit I’ve slipped in the last year or so.

Now, I’m reading about the thyroid diet. Avoid gluten. Ok. Avoid coffee. Already doing that. Avoid sweet potatoes, almonds, and other nuts. Um, but sweet potatoes are also supposed to be anti-inflammatory. Avoid kale. Um, but kale is supposed to super rich anti-oxidant. Avoid dairy as this can trigger inflammation. Um, but I’m supposed to have a serving of full fat dairy every day because it was shown to increase fertility in lab mice.

There is too much conflicting information on the Internet (of course there is). At this point, I feel safe eating seawood and drinking 10 glasses of water everyday to wash down the copious amounts of supplements containing selenium and folic acid but everything else is hugely questionable.

There are things I can do. Add in more wild caught fish. Reduce carbs (again). Quit caffeine all together. There are things I can’t do. Become completely insane about what I eat. I’m pretty sure that will stress me out even more than I already am.

 

We all need to take better care of ourselves.

In the beginning of this cycle, I thought I’d take a three month break. This was before I found out some hormone numbers and when I thought I’d be working full-time. The job I interviewed for last week? I didn’t get it. YOU try to be positive when fertility treatment keeps blowing up, and you can’t get a full-time job. It should be one or the other, right? It’s been two years.

I try to keep in mind that I do have a job, and I do work, and I do feel fulfilled in that career, and I do like my co-workers. The problem is I don’t make any money and in two weeks, I get my last check for a month. Luckily, N’s work picks up in the summer so we’ll be ok but we have enough to pay bills and stuff. Not, like, drop a grand on fertility treatment. But if I was working full-time, I’d have trouble scheduling doctor’s appointments. This is a no win.

We still need all kinds of stuff for the house. Patio furniture. A lawn mower.

We still want all kinds of stuff for the house. A new kitchen table. A new couch. A new desk. New picture frames. A new mirror for the downstairs bathroom.

I just wish I had a clear indication of what I’m supposed to do. Doesn’t everyone?

I’ve been battling some kind of sinus issue all week. Know why? Because if I’m going to ovulate, I’ll do it this weekend and instead of being healthy and all that, my body gets sick. I’ve been exhausted all week, my ears are plugged up, and I’m coughing. The doctor said the sinus infection is on the brink. If I take care of myself the next few days maybe I can fight it off. My immune system has been down for the last two years. All the stress, probably. I’ve been sick probably five or six times plus I had a urinary tract infection plus food poisoning plus HPV which won’t clear.

I have to learn how to take care of myself under stress. I’m not taking care of myself. Not at all.

We’re not sure what we’re going to do next cycle. Most likely, I’ll be on break until summer school starts so again, and I’ll have all this free time to spend money at the doctor’s office. I think we’ll probably try to do an IUI next month. Third time is a charm? Maybe?

We have talked more and more about IVF. Like, maybe we just need to do it and then call it if it doesn’t work. But then there’s the single cycle or the package deal with FET. It’s like yoga. The more you spend, the higher the discount.

My clinic has a three package deal for $23,000. If I don’t get pregnant in three cycles, we get our money back. I’m not sure how it works if I get pregnant on the first. We get a refund? I’d have to check.

I hear this “just relax” thing, but I think it really means stop focusing. I focus on the lack of baby, my body as a failure too much. I focus on scorekeeping. My two friends just had babies like without even blinking an eye. I focus on looking for pregnant women in Target so I can feel bad about myself. In the process, I keep getting sick and feel like I can’t move forward.

In other news, drama with the Pirate (that’s what I’m calling Kiddo’s mother). I really wish I could totally talk about it here, but I feel really uncomfortable that someone will find it. Let’s just say she’s once again crossing boundaries and getting involved where she doesn’t need to be involved. This does not help with my stress level. My counselor has no idea what she’s in for.

 

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