The Cruelty of Hope

I’m angry with myself.

Maybe angry isn’t quite the right word. Maybe frustrated. Disappointed.

For the first time in a couple months, I allowed myself to hope. Yesterday, at 4 DPO, I allowed myself to be caught in a daydream of positive tests. There was some mild nausea sweeping over me, and for a few hours, I really hoped. For the first time since I had a total meltdown over my (unexpected?) period in January.

This is my last natural cycle. At least, for a while. At least that’s the plan, barring any cycle cancellations or new cysts that force us to take a month off. And that’s no reason to feel optimistic. But with that wave of nausea, I couldn’t help but think the following: 1) We timed BD really well this month 2) I just had my HSG– HSG makes you more fertile! 3) Femara really moved up my ovulation date to the earliest it has ever been! Day 16! I have never ovulated on CD 16; I have been in the 20s for a while now. Surely it’s a good sign!

I allowed myself to think: what if this is it? I could really be pregnant.

The truth is that nausea at 4 DPO means absolutely nothing. The truth is I have 0 symptoms at 5 DPO (today). And that, in the past, I have symptom spotted so much that it has made me hope– and hope, when it’s over, has made me crash down into despair, into a person I do not want to be.

The truth is that Dr Unicorn gave me a 1-2% chance of pregnancy through natural cycles.

The truth is that I’ve never seen two lines. I’ve never seen even the faintest start of a second pink line creeping across the plastic FRER window. I’ve never had a Clear Blue result without the “NOT” in front of it. I’ve never gotten an estimate of how many weeks. Because it’s been, forever, 0. Nothing at all.

On Friday, Mr Upside and I have our consultation with Dr Unicorn’s office for the upcoming ART cycles we are embarking on. Round #1 of IUI will be (hopefully) scheduled for mid-April and we will go from there.

I don’t want to hope anymore. Not right now. I want to assume the negative. I want to assume I am not pregnant, just as I have always been.  I don’t want to allow my brain to dwell on miracles or mythical stories of “it happened to us when we least expected!” I don’t want to let myself go to a place where the IF journey ends– because I know, in my logical analyst’s mind, that that place does not exist. It does not exist for me, at least not now.

Here’s to trying to get through 5 DPO without the foolish, unnecessary audacity of such hope.

#MicroblogMondays: Back to Reality

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Mr Upside and I went to Miami this weekend for a family reunion for his grandfather’s 90th. It was a wonderful 48 hours of palm trees, water, sunshine and family, a break from our normal routine– but it was more than that– it was my very own mental vacation. I did not take my thermometer with me, I did not take my ClearBlue Fertility Monitor, I did not take my Femara pills, I did not take any pee sticks. I did not enter any temp, CM, or CP data into any apps. I did not count how many DPO I was. I didn’t worry about having too many mojitos. I just enjoyed being.

Now I am back home after that glorious respite, realizing that we are now in beginning of the TWW of our very last natural cycle, before IUI #1 kicks into gear in April. Although real life is full of stresses, hormones, and disappointments, I am trying to breathe deeply, close my eyes, and think about family, freedom of mind, and the kiss of the Florida sunshine, warm and soothing on my skin.

The Humpday Thankful Three

Thought I’d use this as an opportunity to reflect on three things I’m immensely thankful for right now. I could sure do more than 3 but for brevity’s sake, here we go…

  1. My new nurse & clinic. The nurse assigned to me at Dr Unicorn’s clinic is really kind and so helpful. She’s so responsive whenever I email or call her with a question and truly takes time to explain thoroughly. Which leads me to…Thyroid tests. So I’ve had hypothyroidism for about 4 years now, and when my counts get high again, I feel absolutely awful. Well, even though I just had my TSH tested at my old clinic 2 months ago, Dr Unicorn and her nurse insisted on having them re-tested. Well they just called with my results and I’m high again! Fertility clinics tend to like readings closer to 1, and mine is almost 4. I’m so thankful for getting the test again, not only for my fertility, but also because it will save me months of deep, painful fatigue. I wouldn’t have gotten retested for a few months, I’m sure, but at their insistence, I now know that I need to up my Synthroid to 100 mcg. So happy to know sooner rather than later! All thanks to the new clinic. And I have been feeling tired lately…
  2. Mr Upside. As I mentioned, yesterday was our 2 year wedding anniversary. We decided on no gifts, but we did go to a really nice sushi dinner. I even got my hair blown out for the occasion 🙂 When I met up with him at his work, before our dinner, he handed me a note he had written for our anniversary. It was the most beautiful, precious note and almost made me cry. When all is said and done I am the luckiest woman and most fortunate wife to have such a wonderful husband who loves me, and who loves our family. We are. A Family.
  3. All of you. Everyone who reads and comments on my blog, or on other forums, all of you who support me– thank you so much. I can’t tell you what it means to be able to connect to women all over the world who, unfortunately, suffer from the same struggle. It’s such a lonely journey but with y’all by my side, it feels so much more surmountable. xoxoxo.

Anniversary: 2 Years

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of our wedding. We’ve made it a full 2 years, which seems like nothing when you consider we’ve been together for almost 7, and known each other for more than 10.

But still, a lot has happened in these 2 years.

We bought a home. We put a lot into making it a home within the first few months. We adopted a cat (the third Upsider!). We started trying for children. We found out Mr Upside got a job offer in another city. We made the very tough decision to relocate, despite having just purchased the home. We continued to try for children. We left the city we’d been in for years to move to another. Together. We got diagnosed as infertile. We tried to acclimate to a new life in a new city. I adjusted to working from home.  We spent months figuring out what Infertility truly means. We’re still trying to figure it out.

Last week, I watched our wedding video– not the whole thing but the 8 minute version, edited to tell our story with music and words. When I got to the part where my husband said his vows, I started bawling.

I hadn’t cried at this video before…I barely cried at the wedding itself, just teary and few times. But I heard what he wrote, for the first time since our diagnosis– what he said to me in front of everyone– that he is called to be with me, forever: for a home, a future, and a family. I remember how cold it had been that day, for our outdoor ceremony, and how it all melted away when I was up there with him becoming joined.

We certainly didn’t know 2 years ago today what we would be struggling with, to grow our family. There have been many times where I have looked back and wondered if we did everything right, did what we were supposed to do, waited too much time, or not enough. I’ve paced back and forth in my own mind trying to see if, knowing what I do now, I would have done something differently.

The answer I came to is: no.

Infertility is not our fault. Either of us. Nothing we did could have caused it, and nothing we’ve done since has exacerbated it. It’s our struggle and our burden to bear, but we have a tremendous upside: we get to carry it together.

So I did something I never do. I wrote a poem. I’m not even sure why; sometimes IF makes things fall out of me, onto paper, onto this blog. I’m not a poet, so I recognize this isn’t good. But its meaningful. To me.

read the poem below the cut

Another Day….

Stranger: Do you and your husband have any children?

Me: [awkward pause] Haha, well, we have a beautiful cat!

Stranger: Yeah, that’s not the same thing.

 

***I know it’s not the same, lady, I was TRYING to be light-hearted about a topic that is none of your business and difficult for me to talk about! mdkemwkrlmwermewkrmeklsrmesklrms

****Also, you don’t know my cat, who is amazing.

Why I Wore Lipgloss To My HSG Test

I know, I know. I totally ripped this from Why I Wore Lipstick To My Mastectomy. And HSG is NO mastectomy. Not even close.

But I thought of it today as I was getting ready. Somehow, I found myself doing my hair, putting on mascara– and lip gloss. I work from home, and unless I have a meeting, I rarely do my hair or apply lip gloss in the morning. But somehow, this morning it made sense to me.

I had my HSG scheduled at 11:45 am and I took a sick day. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I didn’t want to deal with the pain or the awkwardness of lying spread eagle, having a catheter and dye in my uterus and have my inner parts projected on the big screen.

All because of some serious failure to effectively perform one of the most basic and critical elements of womanhood.

So, I put on the lip gloss. It sounds silly, I know– but if I had to go through it, I wanted to go through it looking confident. And good.

So I entered the radiology center in new jeans and a fresh face. I only had to wait about 4 minutes, and the technician escorted me back to a room that was PRETTY INTIMIDATING LOOKING. Seriously:

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The tech explained everything though and she was calming. She gave me a nice thick pair of socks with the Lab’s name on them. I told her how much I liked them and she said “well, keep them. Pack them in your future hospital bag. Wear them when you get to deliver your baby. That way, you’ll remember this moment and it will all have come full circle.”

I could have jumped up and hugged her then. Had my legs not be stuck between stirrups and the X-Ray machine, that is.

Despite the obvious awkwardness and the major cramping, the pain really wasn’t that bad.  Not what I had expected! And it was cool to watch the dye on the screen, forming my internal organs like I’d never seen them before. Pretty cool. Btw, fallopian tubes are much different than I expected! They’re stringier than I expected, and less perfectly symmetrical. They look artistic, like splatters in some perfectly modern art.

I don’t have my results yet, though it did seem like dye was coming out. I’m not a doctor, though, and neither was the tech. So I’ll have to wait. Maybe till Friday or maybe till next week.

But I’m so so glad it’s over. So glad anticipation is so much worse, in this case, than reality. The lip gloss helped a bit, I think. I reclaimed a bit of my confidence and my womanhood. Sure, I can’t seem to have a baby, but I can pull off this unique shade.

More than anything, I’m glad to be a little bit closer than we were before. Closer to (hopefully) wearing those socks again one day.

 

#MicroblogMondays 3.14.16

Decided to participate in the Stirrup Queen’s #MicroblogMondays. So my brief update will follow:

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The start of a new week, new daylight savings time, and new cycle. I’m cycle day 5, to be exact. I knew this one was coming so it wasn’t too hard to take. What I’m thinking about a lot is my upcoming HSG exam, scheduled for Wednesday. I’m nervous about the pain and stress and going it alone. But it’s better to get it out of the way instead of stewing in anxiety. So there’s my #upside for the day: anticipation is often the worst part, so tackling your fear, or eating your frog, sooner rather than later is a good thing to do. By this time on Thursday, all HSG dread will be over.

Coming Out: Who To Tell About Your Infertility

Two days ago, I came out of the infertility closet to my parents. It hadn’t ever been a goal of mine to announce to anyone, including my parents that we were trying to have a baby. A year ago, I had imagined all the ways, when we got out of the 1st trimester, that we would announce to my parents, his parents, our friends– but as you probably know, IF destroys your daydreams, your best laid plans. And so, here we are.

Infertility can be a full-time job. I have a packet of about 50 forms I need to read, appointments I have to set up, prescriptions I have to pick up, phone numbers I have to call, insurance processes to figure out– not to mention all the doctor’s appointments I have to go to just to get me to my first IUI procedure. And all of this needs to be done in between my real full-time job. The sadness and constant stress builds up and becomes the sort of thing I feel I need to talk about.

But infertility isn’t like a broken arm, or a breakup. It’s not a new job or a new baby– its not the sort of crisis you chat about over coffee with your girlfriends or chat with to your boss. That isn’t to say it’s worse or better than other life crises, but only that its different. By its very nature, it feels more private. And as we all learn, people who haven’t experienced IF have a difficult time relating, and often don’t know what to say. So they may say something hurtful or insensitive, dismissive or jarring– even when they really truly don’t mean to. And, when you do tell people, you may have to listen to questions and have to put up with earnest, well-meaning check-ins during really emotionally difficult times. The last thing you want to deal with during a failed cycle is 30 acquaintances asking how everything went.

So basically, telling people about this issue, which is by nature private and sensitive, can be hard. I hadn’t told ANYONE except Mr Upside and my close friend, up until last week.  When my mother-in-law found out. Then, after my clinic appt with my new RE, Dr Unicorn, I realized I had to tell my parents. Now that I have a plan for our first IUI in April, I felt I needed the support of the people who always know how to help. Telling them went well. I had to drink a few beers before I could get the words out, but when they finally came, my mom and dad were as supportive as ever.

After the few experiences I’ve had opening up, and the endless thoughts in my brain, I’ve made a little, completely inexpert list on what to think about when you’re telling people.

My Personal, Unscientific Tips on Telling Others About IF:

  1. Choose carefully. Just because I told my parents, or because someone else has told their grandma, doesn’t mean that you should have to. People’s relationships are different, and if your parents bring out more stress or pressure, or aren’t the type you typically lean on for support, you may want to reconsider spilling the IF beans.
  2. Talk to your partner. If you have a partner, make sure you sit down with them to get on the same page about who you want to tell, and what details you each feel comfortable disclosing. It can be jarring to be blindsided by having someone approach you about your struggle when you thought no one else knew– all because your partner disclosed without telling you. And you wouldn’t want to start giving the nitty gritty details of your husband’s semen analysis to someone if it’s not something he is comfortable with. Some details are more painful for you than for your partner and vice versa. Make sure you have a plan ahead of time, get on the same page, and respect each other’s boundaries with disclosure. At the end of the day, through all the IF stress, you are each other’s companions and allies, and equal caretakers of your relationship.
  3. Think about timing. Some people are pretty even-keeled throughout the infertility journey. But if you’re like me, you have ups and downs, days when you feel like you can’t look someone in the eyes without crying, and days when the sun is shining and you go about your usual business with a feeling of hope. Think about what state of mind you’re in when you open up to someone about infertility. If you’re having a really rough day, you may want to wait until the pain passes before starting a conversation that you ultimately can’t control.
  4. Decide how to say it– ahead of time. I had to write down some thoughts before I told my parents, because I knew that when I get nervous, I am unfocused and unhelpful. Think of a phrase you want to say like “Bob and I are interested in starting a family, and we are in the process of trying to make that happen. Unfortunately, we are part of the 7 million people for whom this journey will be longer and more difficult. We will be happy to share good news with you, but ask that until then you respect our privacy.” Or, you could say “Mom, Dad– I’ve been diagnosed with infertility.”
  5. Be prepared for questions and decide how to respond.  People are curious by nature. It doesn’t mean they are all trying to dig too deep or gossip, but that sometimes, they just don’t understand. If you are comfortable talking about your egg reserve, your cervical mucus, or motility of sperm, then go ahead! But if not, make sure you anticipate you may get tough questions and kindly let the person  know you’d rather not go into it at this time.
  6. Don’t get guilted into disclosure. Let’s say you want to tell one person in a friend group, but not the other 2, 3, or 4. Maybe you have a specific and legitimate reason for doing so. Make sure your confidante understands the private nature of your details, but don’t feel obligated to tell Abby just because you told Joan– especially if Abby isn’t someone who is typically empathetic or supportive. Who you tell and what you tell is your choice. You do not “owe” anyone the knowledge of your private, intimate struggle.
  7. Decide how many.  Do you tell only your close family? Do you tell just your sister? How about your maid of honor? Her husband? Your high school best friend? Decide if you feel like you need to have a very small amount of people know, or if you want to write a Facebook announcement and share it with the world. Some women regret telling too many people when when cycles fail– that too many people knowing and checking in can be overwhelming and painful and can lead to more disappointment. However, others regretted not telling more people sooner so that they would have a bigger support network and not feel like they were “hiding in shame.”
  8. Do whatever feels right to you! This is the most important point. You do not HAVE to tell anyone or everyone. You can choose to tell everyone you know during your 6th month trying, or you can choose to tell no one during your 2nd round of IVF. This is a personal choice, and only you know what will be best and healthiest for you. Take care of yourself, and your partner, first, above all things.

Dr Unicorn, Stats, and A New Path Forward

I had my aforementioned, all-important visit with Dr Unicorn yesterday. This fertility clinic was closer to my home and has a less busy, more calming feel to it. I had a consult with both the nurse and the doctor before moving to the exam room and getting undressed, which was nice to be able to talk woman-woman while we both still had our clothes on! 

She went over my labs and said initially things seem fine. I do have a slight LP defect, and she will probably put me on progesterone for my future cycles (side note: ick- I’ve read about how progesterone can make you feel and I’m a little skeeved. But whatever it takes!)  then things got serious. She said she needs extra tests, including the dreaded HSG (I’ll take a Valium, thx), and after those results were in, we’d head straight to IUI. She asked me if I wanted to expedite and try our first IUI cycle this month. In 2 weeks.

I panicked. As much as I have felt the need to hurry and move fast, when it came to the thought of giving up on natural cycles RIGHT NOW, of rushing to get my HSG, prolactin, and blood panel in the next week, to get my husband in gear to deposit and get inseminated by March 23, I just…stopped. I had to take a deep breath and tell her what I really needed: “let’s wait until April.”

I’ve been pushing things forward as much as possible, and have been cranky at all the waiting. But I wasn’t expecting the IUI timeline to be pushed up to NOW. And I guess I need to give myself room and space to come to terms with it. Get all my ducks in a row, my testing done and start the path to acceptance that I need to close the door on natural conception. 

1-2% chance. That’s what Dr Unicorn cited as the likelihood we’d get pregnant naturally. Based on how long we’ve been trying. 1-2%. That is hard to hear. IUI will give us between 10-15% each cycle, which isn’t wildly great news either. I’ve been crunching numbers all day. Looks like about a 33% chance we’d get pregnant thru IUI in 3 cycles, and a 40% chance in 4 cycles. I don’t like the fact that it’s a minority, but at least it’s not 1 or 2.

So this is where I am now. Somewhere between feeling overwhelmed at the next steps (so much testing and logistics to go through) and feeling hopeful that I’m on a new path with someone who was very straight with me. Somewhere between feeling grief at the reality of my infertility, fear of the future, and validation that it’s not all just in my head. Validation that someone is going to take my reproductive problems seriously. 

I need to practice my mindfulness, take things one step at a time. I’m slowly considering opening up to a few more people now that we are “real” infertility patients and not just in limbo. I hope that I can maintain a sense of hope and calm and faith that Dr Unicorn will light the way and guide me to the one thing I want so, so, so badly.

The In-Laws and the IF

My mother-in-law came to visit over the weekend. That’s a sentence that seems to inspire fear and sympathy in those listening. I certainly know the societal trope of the evil mother-in-law. But this isn’t the case for me. My MIL is a tough, interesting, kind woman. She’s created and headed up two successful nonprofits, she’s climbed the ladder in corporate America as well. She’s just pretty badass. The first time I met her I was so intimidated I thought I might puke, but I came to realize that in addition to being successful, she’s a genuine kind-hearted person.

I think I mentioned earlier that I haven’t told anyone except Mr Upside and 1 friend about our TTC struggle. It just hasn’t felt right to me yet. So, when my MIL flew in early Friday morning, and we were having coffee (well, I was having tea), I was surprised when she looked me squarely in the eye and said “how are you doing these days? Emotionally?”

It gave me pause. I had no idea if she was talking about my job, our recent move to a new city– or if perhaps my husband had told her about our struggle. I deflected the question but then texted my husband at work to ask: Did you tell your mom?

He did. He hoped it wouldn’t bother me; he told me to talk to her about it if it was something I was okay with. I was a little caught off guard, but I got to thinking how close Mr Upside is with his mom, and it’s always been something I love about him. If he wants to talk to his mom, I have no issue with that.

We spent the next few days having fun. We took her to restaurants, on long walks, to get drinks– and we never brought up infertility. And then, on her final day, Mr Upside had some work to do so I took my MIL to breakfast- just the two of us.

I had to decide- right then and there– whether or not to bring it up with her. Part of me really wanted someone else to know. Someone else to hear my pain, our struggle. For it to not be such a secret to those closest to us. The other part of me didn’t really want to talk about ovulation and sex with my husband’s mother, for obvious reasons. But for more than that: my MIL has had her share of difficulties in her life and has overcome them. She’s tough as nails and hasn’t had things handed to her. I think part of me assumed she would treat my infertility as a non-issue, would tell me to buck up, because compared to other trials in her life, this was…not important. Especially since my BIL and SIL have already given her grandchildren.

But I decided to tell her. I took a chance- a leap of faith if you will- and confided in her. And it went so, so well.

She told me that she had a hard time conceiving my BIL, her first child. She said “I can’t remember if it was 1 or 2 years, but back then, we didnt really have any alternatives. It was either get pregnant or give up.”

I told her about our diagnoses, but more importantly, about my deep-seeded fears. Of never having a child. Of getting all the way to IVF only to have it not work. Of being 40 and childless while all those around me have adoring babies and kids. Of living in my own head with all this fear and sadness.

She told me all the things you’d expect– like, that we live in a day and age where medicine has advanced so much, that there is more than 1 or even 2 ways to have a child, that I still have lots of time. But what really meant the most to me is that when we were leaving breakfast, she extended her hand, looked me in the eye, and said: I’m so sorry you’re going through this. 

So my tough, resilient, experienced MIL gave me what I really needed. Beyond medical advice and optimism. True empathy.

As we walked back home we passed my favorite local market. There were rows of succulents outside. My MIL has always loved cacti. She’s a true desert-lover at heart. I watched her smile and look at the tiny succulents we could take home. Their budless green fleshy leaves, their prickly skin, their needles and spines. I guess that day I had the strangest feeling for myself. That some day something will bloom from these thorns.