Monday, April 21, 2014

Maybe Baby 4

Click to read the first, second, and third installments of this series.

Cautiously optimistic.  That has been the name of the game so far.  Cautiously optimistic.

Although I knew in the depths of my gut that my latest lab results were going to be bad, a waste of time really, I was more than cautiously optimistic; I was painfully desperately hopeful.  I knew I didn’t ovulate.  But I was certain that I would have improved enough to keep me feeling cautiously optimistic.

Imagine the drowning wave of devastation that hit when – after more than 24 hours of waiting – I was told that my levels were actually lower than last month.  0.2 to be exact.  The optimal progesterone level for ovulation is between 7 and 10.

I sobbed and ugly cried and bawled and wept and wailed for hours.  Hours.  Mr. B happened to be off work for Good Friday (the irony of experiencing such shattering sadness on Good Friday was not lost on me).  This was the first time he was home when I received the results.  This one was, by far, the worst.

You see, the week prior, we had a conversation about where the line in the sand would lay.  We decided that if the levels were high enough to give us hope, we would continue.  If they weren’t, we would stop.  We agreed that we were both ready for things to go back to normal.  Mr. B was tired of seeing me depressed and hating myself and my body.  I have been just completely weary of the whole process.  I had finally started to entertain the idea of adoption, of just letting Little K be an only child, of adopting that puppy we talked about.

Despite all of that I was cautiously optimistic painfully desperately hopeful.  When I heard the number, the zero-point-effing-two, I felt like the air had been sucked from my lungs and a pile of bricks fell on my shoulders.  I laid on my freshly made bed and absolutely lost it.  Mr. B tried everything to get me to just stand up and hug him.  I physically could not move.  I don’t think I could have stood on my feet or sat up if I even wanted to.  I felt completely deflated.  It just felt so… so final.

I suppose I was mourning.  I mourned for the Easter and Christmas mornings that Little K won’t share with a sibling, the sibling rivalry that will never happen, the built-in best friend that will never be.  I mourned for the newborn baby we will never hold for the first time.  I mourned for the first kicks of an unborn baby that I will never feel.  I mourned for the daughter I was so hoping for – particularly the friendship that would form once she became a woman.  I mourned for not ever seeing the love of my life again hold a tiny wrinkly miracle made from our own flesh.  I mourned that all of Little K's firsts were the only firsts we’ll have.  I mourned the perfectly unique names we had chosen, never to be used.

The sibling thing I think gets me the most.  Mr. B and I are both quite close to our siblings.  And there is such a stigma with only children, that they are spoiled and bratty.  An old neighbor once told me that she “hates only children”.  Pretty strong words to a mama with a broken uterus.

A few weeks ago I had this conversation with Little K:

“Mommy why don’t I have a brudder or sister?”
“You have Daisy.”
“No mom!  A REAL brudder or sister.”
“Well Buddy, Mommy’s tummy is having a hard time making a baby.”
“Do you think you would be okay if you never had a brother or sister?  Do you think you’d be fine?”
“No.  I won’t be fine.”

Talk about ripping your heart out!  I subsequently texted every only child I could to ask them how they felt about being an only child growing up and now – news flash: they are all fine.

As Mr. B tried to console his mess of a wife, he said, “it’s okay – it’s all over now – we’re done – we don’t have to do this again.”  As terribly sad as it is, I can’t do it again.  I just can’t.  I can’t go through the spike of hormones followed by a crash followed by another hormone spike and another crash followed by hopeful anxiety followed by a broken heart.

I cannot spiritually or physically or emotionally make it through another round of this.  I told Mr. B it just seems to hurt more this time.  The first time around we were, I think, a little detached from the idea of being parents.  We knew we desperately wanted to have a baby, but we didn’t yet know how it felt to love another person so completely and wholly.  This time, every time the labs have come back, it has felt like someone was ripping our child right from our arms.  My stupid hoarding ovaries have broken my heart in a million pieces over and over and over.  And I’m done.  I am just completely done in every sense of the word.

Now our spare bedroom, left pink from the previous owners, feels sad and mocking.

During the process of trying to conceive Little K, someone accused me of not really wanting a baby because I didn’t immediately want to adopt.  I’m sure there will be people who will say that I am giving up now; that I didn’t really want another child.  I’m sure there will be people who say we didn’t try hard enough or long enough or seek out as many options as we should have.  Maybe so.

Maybe we could have tried longer, but at what expense?  I have been a terrible mother and a terrible wife and a terrible friend and a terrible daughter and a terrible sister through all of this.  My faith has been challenged, my will has been splintered.

I think right now, the best decision for us is to focus on counting our blessings.  We have so many.  Sure I feel like I am giving up.  I feel like I have wasted everyone’s prayers and kind words (even though Lent is over, I still haven’t been able to log back in to Facebook – I feel too sad to read any additional kind words).

But please know, that all of your acts of thoughtfulness, your texts, your kind words, your messages, have helped me more than you can begin to know.  Your kindness has truly kept me In Good Company.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Maybe Baby 3

Just now checking in?  Read the first installment of this series here.  Read the second installment here.

March 30, 2014
Here is what you shouldn't say to a woman struggling with infertility:

You could always adopt. 
Really?  I can adopt?  Is that really a possibility?  I have never heard of such a thing!
But half of the fun is trying! 
Obviously you haven’t ever had to schedule sex with your spouse.  It is super fun to number the days on your calendar and draw little hearts on your days to “try”.  And ten days in a row really keeps that spark alive, it never seems like a chore!
Have you ever tried Clomid? 
Bitch, please.
At least you have one baby, some people don’t even have that. 
You are absolutely right.  And he is perfect.  But we still want another one.
Did you know your chances of multiples are super high with fertility treatments? 
No shit!?
I bet fertility treatments make you super horny right? 
No.  Just, no.  Fertility treatments make me super stabby.  I literally told Mr. B last week that he was more likely to get stabbed than laid and that he should sleep with one eye open.
You know, I thought you looked heavier! 
Thank you so very much for sharing your awesome observation.  I know I am getting heavier and I had hoped to God I was hiding it well.  Thanks for confirming that everyone else also notices my chubbier body – that I already hate, mind you.  You are an ass-hat.
We weren’t even trying to have a baby, and we were on the pill, and we were using prophylactics, but we got pregnant anyway.  Surprise!! 

Congratulations.  I am so happy for you (this not sarcasm).  I really truly am so super happy that you were blessed in a way I cannot even imagine.  I really couldn’t be happier for you.  But I’m also jealous and sad and I’m going to cry about this later when I’m by myself.
There was a baby that was killed/abandoned/abused/mistreated/etc. on the news. 
This is where I struggle with faith.  I don’t understand why my body isn’t able to produce a baby, but horrible drug-addicted child-abusers seem to be able to pop them out with sheer will alone.

March 31, 2014
I’m so thankful that I had a few days between treatment cycles.  My head became clearer and I remember why we were going through this hell.  That sweet precious life that we are trying so hard to create.  I want this.  More than anything, I want a baby.  I cry almost every time I hold someone else’s baby.

I just finished my second round of Progesterone.  My doctor changed the type I was on because I struggled so severely with the emotional side effects of the first kind.  This kind maybe wasn’t quite as bad on that front.  Although my brain felt like it was full of mashed potatoes (or cauliflower – in case you are Paelo) and I couldn’t focus, my hair started falling out, my face broke out like a greasy teenage boy, I had diarrhea for ten days straight, I had constant gas that would (as my husband sad) gag a maggot, and I was a bitch.  A complete be-to-the-yotch.  And the weight gain.  Oh the weight gain.

I can no longer wear my wedding ring.  It won’t even begin to slide past my middle knuckle.  The fat pants I bought a few months ago no longer fit.  I only have one pair of jeans I can wear.  My loose shirts are tight.  My underwear are uncomfortable.  Body-weight movements at CrossFit are getting harder and harder.  Everything feels like it takes so much effort.  I’m kicking myself for giving away all of my fat clothes.  But, I really thought we were done having babies, and I just knew I would never let this happen again.  I forgot about the times when there was no choice in the matter.
A few weeks ago I sought out a local massage therapist who has a reputation for being in-tune with hormonal issues and pressure points that positively affect such issues.  While I was on the table, lying face-up, she told me she was going to manipulate my uterus a little bit.  It was all I could do to keep from saying, “Um, thanks for doing that externally.”  As she pressed on my lower abdomen, she commented on the fact that my uterus doesn’t spring back after being pushed down like a normal uterus.  Probably because it’s lazy and fossilized.  I’m going back to her in a few weeks, but am seriously considering looking into acupuncture as well.

I started Clomid today.  Mr. B calls Clomid week “Hell Week” because I’m so incredibly nice on it, being around anyone else is like being in hell.  That was a lie.  It’s going to be especially exciting because my dose is doubled this month since my body was unresponsive to last month’s treatment.  The hot-flashes and crying have already started.  Mr. B leaves for a business trip tomorrow.  I’m honestly a little bit scared to be by myself for three days.  I feel so out of control when I am on Clomid.  Always on the verge of a panic attack, always on the verge of tears, always ready to scream, always needing to sleep, never being able to sleep, hot flashes galore.
Meanwhile, I also feel like my uterus is trying to claw itself out of my body.  So that’s awesome.

Meanwhile in my uterus...

April 4, 2014
Hell Week” wasn’t nearly as bad this time (despite the ear/throat infection I was simultaneously fighting).  Posting blogs about this process has been somewhat of a cleansing experience, and the outpouring of support that I have received has been extremely helpful (although I haven’t been able to see any of the comments posted or messages sent on Facebook, as I am not checking it until Easter).  I have gotten phone calls, text messages, flowers, wine, ‘hang-in-there’s’, smiles, ‘you can do it’s’, and hugs.  A wise friend told me that when someone else is helping you carry your bourdon, the load doesn’t seem nearly as heavy.  This experience has made me believe that fervently.

I have been reduced to tears – and given the gift of laughter – many times in the last week from the kindness of friends.  I am blessed to be surrounded by such caring people.
Also, for whatever reason, telling people what we are going through has made the weight-gain seem more bearable.

I’ve taken a leave of absence from teaching Yoga.  At least until summer.  I feel like by summer we will be done with this process one way or another.  Until then, I am struggling to keep my thoughts straight, struggling to maintain a conversation, teaching an entire class just seems like too much right now.  And, even though the weight-gain seems more bearable in most situations; the thought of standing in front of people demonstrating with my body what their bodies are supposed to do – just the thought of it makes me feel like I can’t breathe.  And, honestly, having one less thing to worry about, one less thing to do, one less place to be, one less group of people to please, lifted a huge weight off my chest.

I know that someone else out there has gone through these treatments (and much worse) and has probably functioned fine.  Your sister-in-law’s’ aunt’s friend’s mom’s friend’s daughter probably taught the second grade and simultaneously found a cure for AIDS and rescued three dozen stray dogs AND taught Yoga.  But I can’t.  There are days when I feel like I’m barely functioning.  It’s no secret that I am easily affected emotionally anyway.  I feel deeply, and am scarred easily.  Add in hormone-chaos and things get really ugly.  I must have put my parents through absolute torture as a teenager with my (undiagnosed-syndrome-therefore-out-of-control-hormones-plus-teenage-angst-deep-depression-out-of-control-anxiety-and-severe-eating-disorder) craziness.
So… what now?  Now we wait.  Later this month I will have lab work done again to see if my body responded to the treatments this time.  If not, we’ll adjust, increase and wait again.

A woman is born with all of the eggs she’s ever going to get.  So, apparently, I have eggs, but my body is just refusing to let them drop.  Basically my ovaries need to be on TLC’s Hoarders.
I have a wonderfully dear friend who told me she is praying for “just one good egg to get the job done.”  Indeed.

I don’t know if you’ve seen An American Tale, but there is a scene when a big fat rat screams “RELEASE THE SECRET WEAPON!” (complete with a hilarious speech impediment).  In bed last night I told Austin that I feel like everyone should just shout at my stomach to “release the secret weapon”.  It won’t make a difference, but it would be totally funny and awkward for the other people around.  And making people feel awkward is sort of my specialty.
Maybe it's not all that funny.  Maybe I remember it being funnier because my mom, sister,
and I used to shout it through the house when I was a kid...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maybe Baby 2

In case you missed it... you can read the first installment of this "Maybe Baby" series by clicking here.

Like I said before, there are going to be some ugly thought, some ugly words, and some ugly feelings.  Maybe I'm oversharing.  But here's the thing, if my journey through something so frustrating, so physically and emotionally draining can help to make someone else's journey a little easier - if sharing my story can, at the very least, make someone else feel like they are not wading the murky waters of infertility alone - then I feel like it is my obligation to share.
January 20, 2014

Friday I went to the doctor.  I am still angry about my appointment.  There is likely a rant to come.  There may be profanities.  Sorry.

I was seated in the exam room and not long after my doctor walked in.  She looked at me and said (in an incredibly supercilious voice), “Hi!  Pregnant yet?”  And then she laughed.  She actually laughed.
For someone who is dealing with infertility, this is quite possibly the cruelest, most insensitive statement ever.  I wasn’t even angry right away.  I was in shock.  So shocked that I didn’t even realize I should be angry until several hours later.  I was at that appointment at her request to discuss fertility options.  It’s not like I surprised her with this appointment.  She knew why I was there.
I stammered, “Um… no.  I should probably get an award for how astonishingly low my progesterone levels were.”  She snottily replied, “We don’t give awards for that.”

Then she chastised me about my weight gain.  Seriously?!  I am working out more and eating less and I am still gaining weight.  My upper lip is hairy and my chin is zitty.  I don’t know what I else I can change.

Later in the appointment she gave me two different options to move forward with fertility: 1) Take progesterone to induce a cycle, followed by Clomid to hopefully induce ovulation, or 2) Wait for a cycle to happen on its own, and then begin Clomid.
My response, of course, was to get the show on the road and start with progesterone.  I very rarely have cycles, and they certainly aren’t regular.  I have had one single cycle on my own in the last five years.  As soon as I stated my preference, she quickly said, “Let’s just wait.”

I know that everyone has bad days, but being flat out rude is unacceptable.  Particularly if your profession is caring for others.  I also know that I should find a new doctor.  But here’s my predicament, when I am not trying to conceive, I have a hormone pellet implanted into my hip every 3 months; this clinic is the only clinic in the area that will do that.  The next nearest hormone-implanting doctor is several hours away.  My fear is that if I leave her care now, she will not take me back as a patient later.  And to function normally later, it seems worth it to have to deal with a bitchy doctor now.

I have a feeling that my doctor does not appreciate patients who take charge of their own health.  But I believe in self-advocacy.  If you do not educate yourself and fight for yourself, who will?  It helps that I have a crazy-good memory (on things that do not help me at all in everyday life) and that I have been through this process before.  I remember what worked last time.  I know about my syndrome, I understand hormone levels.  I am not pretending to be as educated as my doctor; I would never make it through even the least prestigious pre-med program.  But I know and understand what is going on with my body.  I refuse to play dumb to make someone else feel authoritative.
The doctor I had during my previous fertility process has since retired.  He was fabulous and I did not give him my permission to retire – when I told him this at my last appointment with him, he said, “That’s why my retirement announcement letter didn’t come with a customer satisfaction survey.”  My current doctor took over my case as soon as I became pregnant.  I loved her as an OB.  I am very unhappy with her as a GYN.

January 21, 2014
Stupid PCOS.  I’m currently up 34 pounds.  At my heaviest, I was 257.  At my lightest (in recent history), I was 160.  I am now back up to 194.  And I’m pissed about it.

It takes a generous amount of liquid hand soap to get my wedding ring off and an act of God to get it back on.  I would like to get it re-sized, since I last had it re-sized when I was at my lightest.  But I feel like making my wedding ring big enough to fit my currently chubby fingers would be admitting defeat.

It’s amazing how something so small can make you feel so horrible.  I hate my body right now.  I hate looking in the mirror.
I am trying to remember that this process is just a blink in time.  It feels like forever, my body is getting fatter each day.  But this will be worth it.  I keep thinking forward to the moments of joy that come with new life.  This frustration will be worth it.

I just don’t know how long I can endure this.  It seems more painful this time to gain this weight.  When we decided to start fertility treatments with Little K, I was a smoker (I quit prior to beginning treatments), I was already overweight, I drank too much pop, I ate like crap, and I never exercised.  This time is completely different.  I had lost nearly 100 pounds, I don’t smoke, I rarely drink pop, I eat healthy, I exercise 5 days a week.  But all of that hard work seemingly went down the drain the moment I stopped taking birth control.
I know that I’ve said over and over and over that the number on the scale doesn’t matter.  And it doesn’t usually.  I know that my self-worth has nothing to do with my weight.  That is just so much easier to know and understand when you are happy with your body.  It is incredibly hard to remember when my body is getting fatter and my hormones are out of control.

I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin right now.  I feel ashamed to go out in public.  I hate wearing jeans.  I’m just, in a word, frustrated.

March 2, 2014

I feel like I’m living in my own personal hell.  I know that sounds pretty dramatic.  And it is.  But my hormones are completely crazy.

I’m getting fatter by the day.  I knew this would happen.  I don’t even weigh myself because it doesn’t even matter anymore.  I cringe every time I have to put on real clothes because I never know if anything in my closet is actually going to fit anymore.  Even my workout pants are becoming snug.  My stomach is huge.  It disgusts me every time I have to do a jumping movement at CrossFit because it bounces and pulls my pants down in front.

It would be different if I had the joy of growing a baby.  But I’m not pregnant.  My body hates me, and when we decided to attempt to tackle infertility it decided to expand at a rapid pace once it no longer was being treated for PCOS.

I saw a friend from my old CrossFit box recently.  She saw me, looked me up and down, and tried to hide the shock on her face.  But I saw it.  It was just a flicker, but I saw it and I recognized it because it is the same look on my face when I unexpectedly catch my reflection in a full-length mirror.  She wasn’t trying to hurt me.  She wasn’t trying to judge me.  But I was hurt.  I felt judged.

It’s always easier when you think you are the only one who sees the ugly, but it’s particularly horrible when you watch someone else spot it too.

The fertility treatments have been pretty terrible.  The first treatment is Progesterone, which I take for ten days in hopes of starting a cycle.  It makes me bat-shit crazy.  And mean – so mean.  While on progesterone, I yelled horrible things at my husband, I screamed at my sister for trying to cheer me up – telling her that I didn’t need her Pollyanna attitude, I told my CrossFit coach (whom I highly respect) to stop bitching at me, I gave Little K a spanking he probably didn’t really deserve, I made a rude comment about the size of a good friend’s head, I sent a text to an old friend brining up conflict that needed to just be left in the past, and I got into a heated Facebook debate over gay rights - with my Grandma.

And the thing is I am always just as surprised as everyone else when those things come out of my mouth.  It’s like the words travel directly from my uterus out my mouth; completely skipping my brain.  Then I have to apologize profusely.  Because the things that I say and do while taking Progesterone aren’t even things I would normally think, let alone say out loud.

I was reading a study on about fertility treatments and one woman, after just a few days of Progesterone, tried to divorce her husband (to whom she was happily married and trying to conceive with).  It’s nasty stuff.

Following the Progesterone is when the period comes.  This one was decidedly unbearable.

Then comes the Clomid, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I had remembered it being; but still bad enough.  With Clomid comes hot flashes, forgetfulness, sleeplessness, more hot flashes, unexplainable crying, irritability, depression, exhaustion, migraines sluggishness, etc.

 Then after all of that you are supposed to begin trying.  Having to count the days of your cycle and draw hearts on your calendar on days 9-18 to schedule intimacy really takes the romance out of everything.

Through all of this, I have found myself feeling anger at Mr. B – because it’s just so easy for him (aside from dealing with my psychosis).  He doesn’t have to be the problem, he doesn’t have to see his body get destroyed, he doesn’t have to feel like shit because his hormones are going insane and still have to try to pretend to be normal.  His body isn’t constantly disappointing him.

It’s not his fault.  But damn-it, it’s just not fair.
I just want to cry.  All the time.  I want to punch every mirror I see.  I want to hide in a hole where no one has to look at me.  I don’t feel like I deserve to teach yoga, and I certainly don’t want a classroom full of fitness-seeking adults staring at me.  I am constantly on the verge of an anxiety attack.  I can barely complete a straight thought.  I am constantly exhausted, but can’t sleep.
Every time someone asks something of me I want to scream.  I think it’s because I don’t feel like I have anything of my actual self left to give right now.
I keep telling myself that this is a blink in time.  It’s just a blink.  But then I ask myself if it’s worth it.  Will it be worth it if I am able to finally conceive?  I’m sure it will feel like it later, but right now I’m ready to give up.  I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

I’m afraid to admit that to Mr. B.  He’s being so patient with me.  He’s so supportive.

Last night I was in tears before we had company over.  He hugged me and said, “I love you.  I have loved you for more than ten years.  I have seen you high and low and in between.  And I have loved you through all of it.  I took my vows seriously.  I said 'in sickness and in health' and I meant it.  I love you no matter what you look like and no matter what I look like.  You are beautiful and I will always think so.  Okay?”

 It’s going to be okay.  I’ve just got to stop hating myself.

Wednesday I go for lab work.  What I will learn is whether or not I ovulated.  From those results we will either plan for the next round of fertility or wait a few weeks for pregnancy tests.  I feel like maybe something happened, I’ve been cramping during days 9-18 – which, according to Dr. Google, can be a sign of ovulation.

At this point I don’t even know what I’m hoping for.  I just want to sleep for a really long time.

March 12, 2014
On day 21 of my cycle, I went in for lab work like the diligent infertile I am.  I was, again, cautiously optimistic (which has seemed to be my new norm).

The optimism came from a series of what I suspected were symptoms of ovulation.  I Googled the pain I was having in my lower abdomen, and, according to Dr. Google, I was either ovulating or I had some sort of rare uterine cancer that would at any moment start hemorrhaging and result in an angry alien baby.  That Dr. Google can be a real asshole.

Through the whole process I have been feeling like I am slowly drowning.  Or slowly falling off a cliff.  Or a ship slowly sinking.  The day of the lab test I plummeted into darkness.  I couldn’t stop crying.  When I finally did stop crying I was completely emotionless.  A walking zombie (which isn’t as cool as it sounds – I’m talking to you, weirdly zombie-obsessed-hipster).  Mr. B tried to talk to me and I either cried or stared into space; finally telling him that I wouldn’t mind crashing my car and dying, because the nap sounded so nice.

He was terrified and didn’t know what to do besides tell me he loves me and that this process could be over at any moment.  If I’m done, he’s done.  My health and happiness is so much more important than any of this.  I told him that if it didn’t work this time, I’m done.  I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t physically or emotionally handle another cycle of this.
I cried myself to sleep that night.                                     

The next morning I received the call from the lab as I was walking Little K into school.  0.3.  Zero. Point. Effing. Three.  I cannot explain the immediate disappointment mixed with rage that came over me.  A month of hell for 3-tenths of a point of improvement?!

You had one job, uterus.  ONE job!

I bawled until I was physically sick.  I felt so defeated.  I was angry at every woman who is able to just make a baby like she could whip up a cake.  I mocked every accidental pregnancy I’d ever heard of.  I was angry, bitter, and devastated.
I was mourning for a baby that wasn’t even a possibility yet.

That night we discussed all our options, including adoption.  And decided to give it one more try.  Just one more.

I’m afraid though.  My treatment doses will have to double this time.  I feel like I am already barely keeping my head above the dark waters of depression as it is.  I’m afraid that my levels will improve, but only just enough to make us try “just one more time” again and again and again.  When do you stop?
I’m depressed because my hormones are so out of whack, and nothing seems rational to me right now.  Not a thing.  And I’m depressed because I feel like my body is mocking me at every turn.  Want to get pregnant?  Not a chance!  Want to keep off that weight while you are on fertility medicine?  No way, fatty!  I feel utterly defeated.  I look in the mirror and want to cry.  My face is fat, my back is fat, my legs are fat, and my stomach is fat.  Everything is fat.  Fat.  Fat.  Fat.  I look like a bloated toad.

I am so out of my mind that Mr. B came home today from a business trip, with a gorgeous diamond ring.  An early anniversary present.  I could only muster, “It’s very pretty.  Thank you.”  I feel so sorry for him.  I just don’t have any extra energy to every try to seem excited about anything right now.  I’m utterly exhausted.  I told him I don’t even know how he can stand to look at me right now, let alone be attracted to me.

A while back we discussed adopting another puppy.  Mr. B said it was either a puppy or a baby, and we decided on baby.  Right now I’m ready to throw in the towel and get that puppy.