Tag Archives: #iuiblog

Today I Found Seven More Gray Hairs

Well it’s been forever since I’ve blogged.  Like most posts I’ve read the past week, it’s been a wild month with all of the holiday rush and unfortunately this outlet of writing has neared the bottom of the list.  I now find myself on vacation at the coast, but with only a day left before returning to work.  And pre-mourning of course.

I’m learning more about what this pattern of pre-mourning and complete dread of returning to real life are: my life feels completely in limbo.

Besides all the cooking, hosting, partying, wrapping, and attempted-but-failed-reflecting-on-Advent of the past several weeks, there’s also been some serious decision-making.  And subsequent swings.  We decided a few weeks ago that we just weren’t quite ready to start IVF yet.  It was a week before we’d begin birth control and we were pretty sure, but just not positive.  I couldn’t imagine feeling okay with being this unsure just a week before beginning such an intense process, so we canceled the appointments and the trainings and settled on giving ourselves the three months for acupuncture and dietary changes and aiming for end of February.  I’m realizing now that said holiday bustle served as a convenient buffer from feelings about waiting.

I was feeling good, enjoying the idea of a break, brainstorming how we could make it feel restful and not just like killing time, dreaming about how to finance a little getaway to somewhere tropical.  Now that things have slowed down a bit the ache has returned.  We’re on vacation, where the past two years we were certain we would have a baby by the next.  I walked these same shores dreaming of having an infant with us next year, bringing a pack ‘n play in tow, our child getting great time with her grandparents and aunt.  This third year I’m finding myself more realistic, more guarded with my fantasies.  I begin to imagine it happening by next year, having a little one with us, but if we don’t start IVF until February, those chances are really slim and I quickly reel myself in.  If we don’t start the adoption process until then, count on two to three more Christmases without a baby.

As New Year’s Eve is here — also what would have been Day 1 of stims — I need to just call it, this year has sucked.  I’ve had some rough ones: my parents divorcing, moving 500 miles away from my dad, dealing with my crazy mother, breaking up with the love of my life (which I eventually ended up getting to marry!).  But this one goes down as the worst.  And as I look in the mirror this week I see it on my face.  Literally seven new gray hairs in the past three weeks.  (Shouldn’t the opposite be true now that we’re on a “break?”)  I’m vainly worrying that any physical beauty I did have is now behind me and that I’ll be an old, gray woman when I’m a new mother, not the perky, energetic kind wearing a yellow frilly apron that I’d imagined.  I feel like my body sucks and is failing me in this most important, female way.  Infertility has taken it’s toll in so many ways.  Not the least of which is that I’m tired of not knowing in the slightest what the next year is going to hold.

In each of the moments of returning to real life that have come at the end of a vacation the past two+ years, I thought it would all be changing soon.  I’m getting tired of that hoping, though, and realizing that, too, shouldn’t be assumed, because it hasn’t changed.  Still no baby in these arms, still hanging in at a job I’m lukewarm about, still going to appointments all the time, still seemingly zero control over our family building.  Will my life be any different this time next year, or will it still be hanging in the balance of uncertainty?  Still waiting.

Tonight I’ll drink my champagne — heck yes, thankyouverymuchbreak — and toast to 2012 being over, ushering it out gladly.  I’ll also try to breathe in and breathe out and try to welcome 2013 with whatever it does or does not bring.  While many things externally are exactly the same as last year, I do know for sure that on the inside I am a different person.  Hurt and wounded in some ways, absolutely, but also better, stronger, more grateful, aware of what I can take, learning I’m a fighter, and wanting it all even more.  Cheers to that, too.

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Today I’m Opting for Dandelion Tincture

In my last post I lamented about the digesting bitterness of dandelion tea.  Well my acupuncturist also recommended dandelion root tincture (those little drops you put in water) and — lo and behold — it barely tasted like anything!  In fact I’ve faithfully partaken (if that’s a word) most nights since then.

I’ve been noticing lately that things can seem really crappy initially, and overwhelming and impossible, but with time perspective comes and things seem to work out or at least feel more tolerable.  I have a way of working myself up initially, as if I need to worry and be wound up in order for things to make the best decision.  What if I took this laid-back, I will be okay no matter what attitude from the get-go?

Now, I’m not saying infertility isn’t serious or is something to be minimized or simply mentally overcome.  I’m just wondering if sometimes I work myself up over things prematurely.  Today something stressful was beginning to happen and I told myself out loud, “It’s okay.  Whatever happens it will work out.”  This doesn’t mean it will be easy, and — I won’t speak for you, but for me — what I have in my head tends to be way worse than it actually plays out.

Of course this switcharoo happened with the dandelion root, but I’m also beginning to notice it with other things.  Like the idea of taking a few months off before we start IVF.  As I thought more about this option last week it felt impossible, unbearable to wait.  Any.  Longer.  (Reference: Phil Davison video, watch it all but especially 2:45-3:10.)  I’m beginning to think, though, that I would be okay and maybe it would even be helpful to give my body a break, use my lighter schedule for fun things and not appointments, not talk about IF all the time, maybe resume running a little bit.  And at the very least that if we’re a month in and time off does not equal a mental or physical break, that decision can simply be undone and we can schedule IVF for the following month.  Things aren’t always so permanent and dire.  I’m kind of tired of myself for always taking things so seriously.

Then there’s the family situation I referenced a while back.  I finally took the time to address it yesterday and, within hours, someone had responded expressing understanding in my point of view and is going to bat for me.  I suddenly feel completely free from taking responsibility for that situation.  It is still as rocky as I initially perceived, but it’s not up to me to carry the burden.  Similarly with work — if things don’t unfold in a way that works for me, that’s not the end of the world, I have other options, life goes on.  Not as bad as I felt to begin with.

I’m also finding myself more in the Christmas spirit, which I definitely did not see coming two weeks ago.  This will be our third Christmas trying to conceive, third Christmas certain we will have a baby by the next one.  I was struggling to muster up the energy to care about putting up the lights and tree, preparing for our annual cocktail party, even opting for NPR over Christmas tunes.  But this week I’m feeling more at peace, partaking in some Christmas cheer (elf yourself never gets old) and enjoying the excitement of buying gifts and putting out the Peanuts nativity scene.  My killer pandora station with melancholy Christmas songs doesn’t hurt either, you know, what with “Wintersong” being more fitting for an infertile at Christmas than “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.”  (Might I suggest Mindy Smith and Sarah McLachlan holiday as seed artists?)

For whatever reason, I’ve felt happy today unlike I have in several months.  A gift, I think.  An answer to the prayers of so many people who are pleading with the Lord for relief and a baby for us.  I’m enjoying a brief reprieve from it, however temporarily, and giving myself the permission to not have it fill my mind for a few moments.  So in closing, I again turn to Phil.

“Drastic times require — what?  {Drastic measures!}  Right!  Who said that?!  Yes!  Drastic times require drastic measures!”  Infertility is serious, IVF is certainly a drastic measure, but today I’ll choose the longer-term view.  And I’ll choose the tincture approach over getting all Phil Davison about it.

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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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