Slow-varies

Well, it’s CD 24 and it looks like my follicles are finally getting somewhere. I had an ultrasound yesterday morning and I have 2 “lead” follicles: one measuring 17 mm and then other 18. There’s another one that is around 13 that may or may not get anywhere, but regardless- my RE gave me the go-ahead to trigger Sat evening.

I’m really really relieved that this cycle isn’t totally canceled! But of course I wish my ovaries had decided to cooperate and grow some follicles on a normal time frame. But no matter- I can trigger tonight and get my IUI #1 on Monday!

I am not wildly optimistic for IUIs in general, but, even if this IUI doesn’t work, I can at least feel like I’m taking steps forward. And even if the path leads to IVF, I’d rather get there sooner, not later.

Ovaries, THANK YOU. Thank you for moving, even if you did so at a glacial pace 😉

#StartAsking?

I have tried to write something in honor of NIAW’s Infertility Awareness Week. The theme? Start Asking.

The problem is that nothing is coming. Nothing is speaking to me. Maybe it’s the simple word “ask.” And maybe its a matter of semantics.

Maybe it’s because I am new to this journey. That I don’t feel like I am in a place to ask the whole world about infertility. I don’t want to utilize all my social media platforms to “ask.” I’m not there yet. I don’t want to feel another layer of shame because I am not ready to share this journey with the entire world. I am not sure what media coverage I’d even want to “ask” for. I can’t “ask” those who have resolved their IF journeys to stay involved- because I don’t know any. And I don’t have to “ask” my partner to get involved- yikes. If he wasn’t already involved, I’d hate to think I’d have to wait for a specific week to “ask” him to be!

I am sorry, but I don’t want to ask. Not right now. I don’t like the connotation of the word. I don’t want to ask only to listen to excuses, to suggestions, to stories of someone’s sister’s fiance’s cousin who tried x, y, z. To opinions about the choices I’ve made and will continue to make. I don’t want to hear the same narrative about how easy it is to get pregnant if you just relax. I don’t want to hear from insurance companies how fertility treatment is “non-essential.” I don’t want to hear from the world to get over myself; that it’s not such a big deal, that we’re all whiners and self-obsessed. (seriously have you read the comments in this piece? I don’t have the stamina for it). I can’t hear anymore about how you tried for 3 months so you “get it.” I hear enough of it every day. I just want to talk. And I want you to listen.

I want to start, slowly, talking to those I am close with about what it’s like. What I deal with every day. I want to explain why asking out of the blue about an acquaintance’s reproductive plans can be insensitive and inappropriate. I want to explain that I am for women’s reproductive freedoms in all ways. I want to tell them that a family isn’t created by the sheer presence of children, or by society’s definitions or labels. A “family” is created when two people say it is. And families don’t just look like a mom, dad and two babies. Families are diverse and look like so many things.

I want to tell them why IF has stolen little bits of my joy, but also why I can’t let it steal who I am. I want to tell chosen people how it has changed me, that when I resolve it, I will stay changed. I want to tell people who have not yet started their reproductive journeys that there is not just 1 single, easy road. That it doesn’t make you less of a person to take the tougher route. That there are more than 1, 2, or even 3 ways to expand a family.

Maybe I’m not diving into the deep end of the pool- maybe I am just sticking my feet in. But it’s what I can promise, today. Trying to juggle everything all at once- friends, family, marriage, career, conferences, workouts, cooking, insurance, fertility, ultrasounds, shots, disappointments, breakdowns, hormones, hope– it is exhausting. I can’t promise that I will out myself to everyone I’ve ever known. Although I hope I am one day in a place where I can do that on social media. What I can promise today is that I will try every day to shake off the shame, the despair, the silence- I will start by slowly telling. And hoping those around me will simply hear.

Another day,  Another Cry in Stirrups 

So I went into this day fully expecting to have some good news- I’d been feeling more twinges around my ovaries and I finally got a “high” reading on my ClearBlue monitor. Not so, though.

My guys didn’t grow at all- in fact they shrunk. I had a couple 11s and a 13 and the biggest one I have now is 12, with a few 8s thrown in. 

I totally started crying again and my RE awkwardly handed me a box of tissues and that was kind of it. Now I get to go off and have more labs so maybe we can find out the next thing that’s wrong.

I’m so so so sick of infertility. One step forward two steps back every goddamn day. I work so hard to keep a good attitude but I’m also prone to breaking down when my body won’t cooperate and being on tons of hormones obviously doesn’t help. This blog is an outlet for me and I’m just using it to vent while I have a good cry in my car. Sorry, no upsides today :-/

No IUI after all I guess. 

Meh

Feeling “low’ right now, because I continue to get “low” readings on my ClearBlue monitor. Day 14 and still low. I’m almost always “high” by now, and I would have thought femara 5 mg would have worked this time. Two more days until my next ultrasound and I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that for some totally unexpected reason, my follicles decided they won’t grow this cycle. Which has never happened before. Add it to the list of problems and complaints, and move along.

…And the Texas rain keeps falling.

#MicroblogMondays: Hurry Up & Wait

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CD 12: Went in for my ultrasound today to check out my follies. Biggest one measured 13 mm; two others measured 11. My RE told me to come back in on Friday, CD 16. I know it’s silly, especially because it’s only 4 days away, but I am a little bit bummed. In previous ultrasounds I’d been further along than this, and I thought with a double dosage of Femara, I’d have some big guys ready to go. I’m ready, so why aren’t my eggs?! Oh well. Instead of dwelling on the frustrations of constant waiting, I should be happy that things are moving along at all: my follicles are growing, my uterine lining is 8.5 (I’m told that’s healthy) and I don’t have any cysts. My first IUI is just around the corner! It’s all this rushing then slowing down, this constant stopping and starting that can get to you. But the reality is by this time Friday, I should be ready for my trigger. I need to recenter my mind, focus on work, and let nature run its course. xx

A Lesson in Compassion

Before my trip to the desert, I had to scramble to get an ultrasound before my period even started. I was so stressed about the possibility of a canceled cycle, simply because AF decided to play hide-and-seek for a few days right up until my travel. But, my awesome clinic nurse managed to move things around and squeeze me in right before I left. I couldn’t go to my regular office, though– I went to the clinic’s second office, a bit farther from my home– but I was willing to do whatever!

One of the things I love about my fertility clinic with Dr Unicorn is that all the other women there are going through the same thing I am. It’s not like my OBGYN’s office which was FULL of kids, pregnant women and babies. We infertiles are bombarded every single day with reminders of what we don’t have, so being in a clinic waiting room with others who understand your struggle without saying a word is a welcome respite.

However, when I walked in the lobby of the building and walked into the tiny elevator, I realized I was going to share it with a very pregnant woman who was seriously about to burst. I leaned up against the back wall as the elevator doors shut, slowly closing my eyes.

The super prego looked at me and smiled. Then she said “Hi there!”

In that moment I was so frustrated. Could I please make the 30 second ride in this small old elevator without a sunny, overly cheery blonde woman about to give birth? 

So I gave her a small smile and said, “hey.”

When the elevator doors opened she turned a sharp left when I went right. I felt her eyes follow me to the signage on the door I opened: fertility clinic. I felt a combination of embarrassment and anger and sadness as I opened the door, but I immediately felt better to know I was back in my infertility bubble.

I told my IF therapist this story when I saw her the next week. What I love about my therapist is that she went through IVF to have her kid, and she used my same clinic. And it’s a judgement-free zone.

When I told her the story, I was expressing my frustration that an IVF/fertility clinic full of emotional infertile people would be located ACROSS from a regular OBGYN full of pregnant people. She nodded and said that was very valid. But she also told me something else:

“It’s actually not an OBGYN office, by the way. It’s a perinatal clinic– it’s for high-risk and complicated pregnancies.”

Wow. I immediately felt bad, even though my therapist said I didn’t have to. You know what they say about assumptions. I went home and googled the address and sure enough: it’s a clinic that specializes in “genetic risk factors, fetal diagnostic imaging and maternal complications.” Turns out sunshiny pregnant blonde hasn’t had the typical easy road to her baby, either.

Just as infertility is an often silent and invisible struggle, other pregnancies or mothers can be dealing with their own invisible problems. Seeing someone in the street or in an elevator doesn’t mean you know everything about their private life. Just as most people have no idea what I go through every day, I don’t know what others deal with.

It’s hard sometimes to show compassion for cheery strangers when their lives look perfect on the outside, and when you just got a false positive followed by a period. When they bring more and more reminders of your loss. But I want to try. I want to try to not make assumptions and to hold compassion for others. Just because their struggles are different doesn’t mean they’re not as real. Maybe, in a way, it will help me feel better about infertility, more connected to others and humanity.

It’s a challenge to not internally roll my eyes at the world of fertile people around me. But at least in this case, it just goes to show you that you can’t assume from the outside.

How to Tell Your Infertile Friend That You Are Pregnant

Yesterday, one of my best friends told me she is pregnant. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is the woman I wrote about before: the one person I have been completely open about my IF journey with. Lillian took longer than average to get pregnant…about 8 months…but she did not have infertility and did not need ART or any interventions. Since we are so close and since she knows so much about how I have been struggling, she really took the care to tell me in the right way. I cried, I was sad for myself, but I was also so happy for her.

Lil did SUCH a fantastic job of sharing her news with me, letting me have space for my pain and grief, and allowing me to be genuinely happy for her. I really feel this has brought us closer than we ever were before, and I have the utmost respect and love for the way she told me. I was an emotional mess yesterday despite my joy for her, but I wanted to use this as an opportunity to focus on the positive in all of this. So, I wrote a little how-to that is based on absolutely nothing but my own personal experience. Keep in mind that we infertiles are not a monolithic, homogeneous group and your own infertile friend may feel differently than me. But, for what it’s worth:

How To Tell Your Infertile Friend That You Are Pregnant

  1. Do it in private: This means not in a public setting and not around other friends who aren’t infertile. Make sure you both have space to sit with your feelings together.
  2. Don’t ask her to throw you a baby shower: I’m sure you are just over the moon about your own pregnancy, as you should be. Many people will be giddy for you, but your infertile friend may be dealing with her own pain in such a way that interferes with her ability to have this immediate reaction with you. As much as I love Lil and her unborn child, I am currently incapable of being the outward facing head cheerleader of any and all things baby. Lil 100% understands, and she told me this, which immediately put me at ease.
  3. Don’t tiptoe around it: Be straight with your infertile bff. Get to the point. She will appreciate knowing up front, without finding herself in the middle of a confusing rambling conversation about nothing. This may take some guts from you, but we appreciate it. And for goodness sake, do not let her find out from others or from a social media post!
  4. Allow her space with her feelings: That does NOT mean she has carte blanche to say rude or insensitive things to you about your good news. But, it does mean to give her some space to let the sadness about her own situation wash over her in tandem with the joy I know she will feel about your good fortune.
  5. Tell her how much you care about her: This will be evident if you approach the conversation the right way, but it never hurts to hear it directly, either. Lillian explained to me how much she loves me, how much she hurts for me, and how much she still wants to be there for me– if its something I still want. And, it certainly is.
  6. Ask her if she wants to hear about the details: I already feel isolated enough in my infertility, so the last thing I wanted was to be cut off from Lillian’s own journey, and I made that clear to her: please share with me. However, others may not want to hear every detail of your growing belly, so just ask it up front. But don’t assume she doesn’t want to talk to you about it. She may truly love sharing this special bond with you during your pregnancy.
  7. Make it about the two of you: This isn’t just about babies. It’s about your friendship. It’s not a contest over feelings; it’s not a competition over joy versus grief. It’s also not a zero sum game: your happiness does not equate to her sadness. The reason you are in each other’s lives is because of a deep, loving, personal connection that predated and supersedes family planning. Find the compassion inside to imagine yourself in your friend’s shoes, and hope that she can imagine being in yours. You aren’t telling your friend just to get a congratulatory statement from her; you are doing it to honor your friendship and the love between you. Elevate that to the center of the conversation. Be clear that you still want to talk to her about everything in her life and want to be there for her. Lillian told me she loves me and is cheering for me and wants to continue being the IF support system she was prior to her own pregnancy. Of course I wanted that. ❤

#MicroblogMondays: Of Dust and Water

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Got back late last night from a much-needed girls getaway to the middle of the West Texas desert, in the artist’s haven, Marfa. I left on CD 1 and getting away from the regular routine was just what I needed after my false positive.  We slept in a fancy tent (I am not a camper; this was closer to glamping), toured museums and sculpture gardens, spent time in nature, shopped and ate and drank to our heart’s content. There was a moment, on the last day, when I was showering outside (not something I would ever normally do!)-while on my period– and I felt like I had broken through some other dimension and become free and like my most natural self, a part of all womankind. Hippie dippie stuff. But still…the change of scenery was great for my mental state, as I gear up for my first ever IUI in about 10 days. It’s weird how 3 nights in dust and drought can make you feel– in some way– clean.

Cycle Day 1. New Beginnings?

AF is here in full force today after being cagey the past few days, when I expected her.

Which means the HSG didnt miraculously make me fertile for my last natural/TI cycle. Oh well.

Also. I had a false positive on Sunday. Don’t want to dwell too much on it here– I had a longer entry written in the drafts but honestly I think its time to carry on, onward, upward. It was a really faint line anyway, and Mr Upside was skeptical but I was hopeful. Other tests were negative though, so I have had a few days to process. It’s okay. It’s just– strange that some lots of FRER curved handle tests can make false positives, especially deadly to infertile folks. Well, I forgive them. I didnt have any symptoms anyway.

Enough about that. Its CD 1, I got my baseline ultrasound, my prescription for 5 mg Femara, and the go-ahead for IUI #1 in a couple of weeks. And now? Now I’ve packed my bags and I’m off to Marfa for a girls weekend with a good friend of mine who knows about my struggle. Time to drink, dance in the desert, and shed my old skin in hopes of success in the months to come.

Hope you are all doing well. I dearly appreciate all the very sweet and informative comments I get. xx.

 

 

Mother’s Day Messiness

Yesterday Mr Upside texted me at work to say his dad had called and wanted to pay for our flights to surprise Mr Upside’s mom for Mother’s Day. But the plans wouldn’t be at their house– the celebrations would be in my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s city.

My heart sank a bit. I love my MIL, and I love my BIL and SIL as well. But my MIL is specifically going to visit her grandchildren for the Mother’s Day holiday, so that she can celebrate with SIL. They are both mothers. I am not.

Mr Upside’s family is planning on “surprising” her, by having us show up too– but there is something about it that makes me feel pretty uncomfortable. The whole weekend is about celebrating motherhood, and while I would love to celebrate my MIL, it’s harder for me to celebrate my SIL’s motherhood in the state I’m in right now. I am not “out” to my BIL or SIL so they don’t know anything we are going through, and they’ve also been quite clear that they basically got pregnant both times by barely looking at each other. (Literally it happened on the first month of trying for both my nieces). I don’t want to feel overly emotional about this holiday, and I worry that being in that environment would make me feel so, without any escape.

The other huge reason is my own Mom. It seems almost wrong for my to fly in to surprise my MIL in a different city while not taking the time to see my own mother on Mother’s Day. Especially because this is the first Mother’s Day she’s had since she had cancer last year. She would certainly understand if I went to be with Mr Upside’s fam, but I know she’d rather me be with her.

Mr Upside said whatever I want to do is fine. He definitely understands the argument about my Mom, but I didn’t even bother to bring up the baby/infertility stuff. Because I don’t think he would “get it.” His emotionality about this is not even CLOSE to mine. He thinks we’ll just do some treatments and that it will take longer time but everything will work out just fine. I don’t know that for sure, so it’s hard for me.

Regardless, I think I need to be a bit selfish here. I need to pack up some things and my sweet cat and drive up to see my Mom that weekend. I won’t log into Facebook and or check my phone too much and I’ll just have a nice low-key weekend with the people who raised me. I’ll miss the quality time with my “other” family, but I think it’s the right thing to do.