Monthly Archives: November 2012

Today I’m Drinking Dandelion Tea

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Like it would be yellow and pretty and smell yummy.  Wrong.  It’s kind of nutty and very bitter and resembles coffee in color more than chamomile tea.  But it is one of many things I’m changing lately to try to have only healthy things flowing through my body.

We have all but decided to go forward with IVF and have a tentative start date of December 31st.  (Yay, shots, happy new year!)  We would begin initial meds (birth control, which is so odd for any infertile woman to take) mid-December and stimulation would start the last day of 2012.  I hear the stimulation phase is the most intensive of the IVF process from a time and attention perspective, including shots a few times a day to stimulate your body to grow lots of follicles and every other day ultrasounds to monitor their progress.  This growing and watching leads up to a shot triggering the ovaries to release the eggs, retrieval surgery to get those puppies out, fertilizing them, letting them grow in the incubators, and transferring back in 3-5 days.  That’s IVF in a nutshell.  Oh, and the two week wait before finding out if it all worked.

It feels exciting to be moving toward beginning but also scary.  Obviously we’re wanting to do all we can to create a baby-friendly environment, hence the dandelion root.  I have to admit that it can feel very depriving and borderline masochistic to do all of these things.  But as my co-worker recently reminded me about scaling back with work hours, all mothers have to make sacrifices for their children and I’m just getting an early start.  This angle actually does help me a good bit, legitimizing and encouraging me forward in these decisions.

So, what I’m doing lately:

  • Eliminating processed foods, including diet coke (gasp)
  • Cutting way back (if not out) dairy, sugar, and soy to prevent inflammation and hormonal spikes/imbalances
  • Dandelion root tea and/or drops 3x/day and warm lemon water every morning for liver cleansing
  • Udo’s Omega-3 oil blend, vegetarian source of DHA (also ick)
  • Being a good girl with drinking lots of water
  • Acupuncture

As a vegetarian I’m used to having a limited diet, but adding these changes on top of that was beginning to feel overly restrictive and, enter feeling sorry for myself.  But I’m beginning to, instead, focus on being creative with all that remains — which, in reality, is most really good things.  If I were doing that Thanksgiving gratitude-a-day thing on Facebook I would say: Whole Foods iPhone App.  I’ve gotten some inspiring recipes on there and it’s helpful to view my market trips as time to stock up on good things to build up and nurture my body.  Mmmm, seltzer water.  Who needs diet coke?  Okay, fake it ’til you make it.

So as we’re looking to jump on the IVF track here in a couple weeks I’m yet again struggling a bit with the balance between doing my part in it all and yet acknowledging that I can’t control this process.  I’ve even wondered if we should postpone IVF until threeish months after I’ve consistently implemented all of these changes because what goes in my body now affects eggs that will be ovulated in three months.  But then I step back and wonder about all of the people out there who make terrible health decisions, abuse substances, live on doritos and are still pregnant.  These things help but are they enough on their own?  No.  Dandelion root can’t create life.  Omega-3s can’t create life.  I’m praying for an accurate perspective right now.

I also don’t want to get in a position of blaming myself or putting all of the pressure on me to perform just right in order to become pregnant.  As I’ve said many times before, a baby is not something I can earn or make happen for myself.  I would have done it by now.  The parallels with God’s grace really can’t be overlooked here.  I couldn’t make Him love me or earn my way into a relationship with Him.  It’s just a gift.  I don’t know how all of that works and applies in this situation with a failing body, but I do want to remind myself that He gave me that best gift already and that He is the same God I’m crying out to hundreds of times a day now.  He is a God who hears and I have seen that before.

In the meantime, in all the waiting and the hard work, I’m taking pleasure in the small things, like the holiday with family, the Christmas tree being up, a fire in the fireplace, and my amazing new fuzzy slippers.

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Today I Made Google Crash

Well Anna Freud overlooked one key defense — excessive researching.

I’ve been on a research frenzy the last 72 hours and I’m quite certain that it’s my attempt to distance myself from the feelings, keep moving along, and create some illusion of control in this situation.  Nevertheless, now that I’ve broadened my searching to include the three little letters “IVF,” I’m coming across some rather interesting information that I thought I would share with you.  I’d love to hear from fellow infertiles out there about your thoughts on these links; I’m sure many of you know much more than I about some of these topics and I would love to learn from you.

There is an act proposing an Infertility Tax Credit for infertility treatment, part of the Family Act of 2011, which would be similar to the current adoption tax credit.  A tax credit approach rather than mandating insurance companies to cover IF treatment because it is more passable in our current political climate.  Check this out and write your legislators, please!

Similarly, did you know the Affordable Care Act could make infertility treatments more affordable?  We’d need infertility to be consider one of the “Essential Health Benefits.”  One thing that enrages me the most these days is that IF treatments and, thus carrying one’s own biological child, are considered a luxury and “elective” similar to cosmetic surgery.  I did not choose infertility nor did I do anything to bring it on.  I wish my health insurance would help me out as I’m dealing with this disease and believe that it should, but only 15 states have laws requiring any degree of coverage.  I see IF treatment as quite essential and not something that should be available only to the rich.  Again, write your legislators!

Cool organization out of RESOLVE (national infertility association) specifically addressing these and other legislative issues, the Center for Infertility Justice.  They track what’s going on, lobby for infertiles, keep us updated, and help everyone know what stye can do to get involved.

A “Self” magazine feature article on the silent suffering of many women with infertility, “Breaking the Silence on Infertility.”  I find it helpful in portraying some of the struggles of IF, particularly the financial burden and difficulty with social support.  May be helpful for some people who have difficulty understanding the toll IF takes.  This is also really convicting to those of us with infertility, calling to question our silence and challenging us to speak out so the disease gets recognition, which then leads to research dollars and direct emotional support for couples.  All of this has me thinking about how “out” to be as we move forward and what it looks like to be an advocate for myself and others.

Most of these links come from RESOLVE’s webpage, what a great organization.

I also have been taking the action approach on a more personal level.  Monday afternoon I spoke with our doctor and, after warmly and sincerely sharing her sadness over the IUI’s non-success, she shared with me our options for moving forward with IVF.  At this point Hubs and I have decided to move forward with this treatment recommendation.  There is a lot to work out, like where the $15K for the first round is going to come from, but we’re feeling like this is the best next step to take and all the while praying for God’s guidance and that He would stop us if this isn’t what He has for us.

We met with our pastor a couple weeks ago to talk through how we’re doing, our feelings and questions about IVF, and the countless decisions involved with this super involved treatment.  He was so calm and straightforward in this conversation and this brought me a great deal of relief and calm myself.  I think IVF gets so complicated and sensationalized with media and partial/mis-information, but the more I look into it the fewer ethical questions I have.  I feel very comfortable with the IVF plan we would follow and, as our pastor framed it, that in this process our heart is to be hospitable to life.  Hubs keeps getting caught up on how “weird” it all is, particularly embryos begin frozen until a later transfer date, but our pastor was quick to remind him that frozen embryos are about one point on the 100-point weird scale of a human growing inside another human.  Then he pulled out his theological booyah of the day, citing how Jesus was conceived apart from the act of sex.  Perfect.

Anyhow, we’re proceeding, and a step at a time.  We had about a day to decide whether we would start with IVF in December which would have required starting meds yesterday but would have coincided beautifully with the slow seasons at work, or whether we’d wait until at least January, taking some time off but probably having to shuffle work stuff around more for meds, monitoring appointments, retrieval surgery, transfer etc..  I printed out some monthly calendars and my trusty colored pens and had at it, a la Liz Lemon.  (PS — Has anyone else noticed all of the infertility references on TV lately?)

In the end we decided we need to recipe a little bit, figure out some finances, and even try to get excited about IVF rather than feeling like it’s another step to plod through.  So, for today, things are a little more in order.  In our heads and on our calendars, if nowhere else.

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Today’s One Line

Today it is beginning to sink in.  Just one line yesterday, no pregnancy.  We’re off to the world of IVF (we think).

There’s not a whole lot more to say at this point.  I had this moment yesterday looking in the mirror, it was so palpable and distinct that we are on a different road now.  The hard road of investing a ton of emotion, money, appointments, hope into getting pregnant.  We’ve been doing this already, but now it’s to the furthest extreme.  The hard road that doesn’t seem fair and seems at times like it will be too much to handle.  Today I’m sitting with these feelings and stepping into our new reality.

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Today I’m Buying Out Whole Foods

So I have been a big-time grumpy grouper this week.  My mental life has been a bit of a wreck.  I’m playing some quite destructive mind games, like defending myself over and over in my mind to a colleague who had a negative response to news about my infertility (downplaying it, weighing whose suffering is worse, and criticizing my financial decisions).  Doubting and feeling guilty about my efforts to make life more manageable right now and worrying others also believe things about me and infertility like aforementioned colleague.  And premourning next week and already freaking out about it.

Throw on top of that unexplained snippiness with my husband, likely related to both the hormones and these bad thought patterns, and uncomfortable physical symptoms (including terrible breaking out and weird uterus feelings ever since the IUI — is this normal?) and I can hardly stand myself.  Thank goodness I did actually get decent sleep this week.  (And that my candidate won the election!)  I guess the unifying theme is that I’m feeling alone, feeling some distance between me and the world.

As someone in a helping profession I’ve always had difficulty feeling comfortable talking about myself, and with infertility I find it really hard to know how to convey to others how I’m feeling or doing on any given day or at a meta level, how awful infertility is.  Sometimes, then, I end up feeling down and a bit stuck inside myself, believing others don’t understand or care enough to understand.  I wish there were a book out there to give to others explaining infertility, the work it requires, the continuous feelings of loss.  Maybe some of the IF community’s blog posts could be compiled someday to create this.

At the support group I recently joined (yep, you heard that right) one of the women mentioned how her doctors consistently remind her that her stress is real and legitimate and that research shows that stress levels in women with infertility are equivalent to those with cancer or HIV diagnoses.  These days I’m really wishing people got that.  I worry that others might see my feelings as overblown or overdramatic, so really, I wish someone else would communicate this for me.  Having research saying it helps.  I guess I’m wanting both understanding and validation of my pain from others.  I want them to say, “I know this is terrible for you.”  And maybe “What do you need?” like we do when people get a scary, life-changing medical diagnosis.

I ended up realizing slowly over the week that some of my thoughts are askew and that there really are a lot of people in our corner.  My friend Wesley faithfully sent another email checking in on me, I remembered a few people Sunday really meaning it when they asked how I was doing and in fact noting how awful this process is, a friend let me cry to her and followed up with a card the next day asking how she can advocate for me, my dad texted yesterday to let me know he was thinking of me, my co-worker left delicious toffee in the break room for me with a note.  Why do I continue to feel all alone and doubt whether others care when I can recount things like this almost every week?

No idea, but I think it shows the depth and power of the fear and longing and deep need.

I realize that this long road takes a good deal of endurance for our support systems too, and I of course do not want to wear people out as they walk with us.  I hate being grumpy with my husband and not knowing exactly why.  I hate the feeling of needing to explain myself and not being able to do it.  And honestly I hate needing things from other people.  If I’m learning nothing else in this process, it is that I am desperate and dependent and that is something I’ll never escape, even and especially if a baby comes along.

As I’ve begun to let in these kind things from others this week, I’ve slowly felt a little lighter.  I spent the morning dropping off canned goods people from our church gathered and talking with some dedicated people there who care a lot about homelessness.  I prepared for the arrival of my pal since 5th grade, sat in the sun that’s back in town, and let myself go wild at Whole Foods.  Pear cider, ginger dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds…so excited.  Today I’m choosing not to believe everything I hear — from others or myself — and today I’m choosing joy.

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Today I Don’t Even Know

Dudes, there is so much going on, I don’t even know.  For one, I’m exhausted.  I blame it on the femara and the having been out of town the last five weekends, oh and the stress.  The stress!  The stress is driving me crazy and getting me both coming and going — there’s the stress itself and then there’s the stressing about stressing.

So we had our fourth and final IUI on Monday.  I had the day off, for which I am so grateful, so I spent it huluing and catching up with some friends on the phone and taking a nap.  I was rested and at peace and felt that — as best as I could — I was keeping my body in a calm place to receive good things the next couple weeks.

But by bedtime reality came rushing back in.  There is drama going down at work and with my family and it needs some attention, but honestly I don’t want to give it.  I want this two week wait to be mine and not to be stolen from me by others and their anxiety.  Meeting with my supervisor Tuesday she told me to please table this stuff for the two weeks and keep only good thoughts and helpful hormones running through my body.  I agreed, but then got pulled into it the very next day.  Stress management is really such a challenge.  We live in a dynamic world and can’t escape for two weeks into a troubles-free bubble.

I can’t keep stress entirely out of my life.  I can’t keep life from happening, my dog from eating everyone’s Halloween litter on our walk and amnesia-ing about “drop it” so I have to straddle him in the middle of the street and pry the wrappers and twix chunks out of his mouth.  Every block.  I wonder how other people find this balance between needing to continue to engage in life but also protect themselves from undue negativity flowing through their bodies.  Better boundaries?  More saying no?  Actually locking oneself in the house for two weeks?

I began acupuncture since I last blogged and am finding it to be very lovely, and on this front in particular.  After my first treatment I went back to work quite sure that I looked like I was on something, yesterday I actually drove the speed limit on my way home.  This stuff really works!  For relaxation anyway, let’s hope the same is true for fertility.  Hopefully it will help me to do some managing of life since controlling it is out of the question.

Maybe what’s behind all of this is that it’s setting in that this is our last shot at a biological child without IVF and/or a miracle (and IVF falls into the miracle category in my book), and I’m feeling scared.  I’m worried about how devastated I will be if in two weeks it’s a negative.  I worry I somehow won’t be able to take it.  I’m also beginning to wonder whether I could even handle IVF, it is just so demanding.  I’m worried it will be too hard or that I’ll feel all alone in it or that the desperation will eat me alive.  I feel like I will need a lot of things from a lot of people to make it through in one piece, but I’m not even sure what those things will be.  And I worry I won’t do a good job asking for them or that I’ll overburden people or that perhaps I already have.

My hope is that I can find my zen-like state amidst these worries.  While I’m all-but-fixated on the two week wait and the impending answer, the rest of real life inevitably continues on around us and involving us.  I can’t avoid it or separate myself from it, that lesson that I’m not in control from yet another angle.

So what I can have some say in, I will try to choose for myself daily.  I’m bummed blogging has taken a backseat the last couple weeks but hope to make time for that outlet more often.  I’ve been working on cutting out sugar and processed foods, I’ve decided to be a sleep nazi this week, and I’m trying to be present, breathe, and maintain some hope.  Like thoughts arising in meditation, noticing the negative and letting it float on by like a cloud — but not taking up residence in my mind.

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