That Old Infertility Magic

3324427905_977ffcd916These past few months, I have been neglecting my inner infertile.  I admit it.  I’ve been paying way more attention to the pregnant lady because frankly, she just demands so much time.  I need more maternity pants! Get me to the bathroom, again!  Get me this crazy exotic food that doesn’t exist anywhere within a 50 mile radius!  She has been rather vocal and consuming. But, my inner infertile is always there, waiting patiently to remind me of where I have been and ready to insert a nice reality check when required.  Apparently, today was the appointed reality check day.

Mr. X and I were walking G in the neighborhood this afternoon on a lovely fall day.  It was still light out and so inquiring eyes could probably see the bump.  I’ve only recently begun to not actively hide the belly.  I can if I need to, but I just didn’t feel like it today and I’m trying to get more used to putting it all out there, so to speak.

We run into a neighbor who we haven’t talked to in a while.  She has eagle eye vision and homes in on my stomach.  Eyebrows raised, she asked, “is there news?”

I respond, “I’ve grown a beer gut?” Not satisfying her.

Second try, “I’m dressed as a pregnant woman for Halloween?” Still no. She would not accept anything short of outright victory.

Ok, I said. “I’m pregnant.” Much squealing (her) ensued and then, came the total buzz kill: “Oh, our next door neighbors are expecting too! She’s 18 weeks and they just found out that they’re having a girl. They are SO EXCITED!”

I felt like I’d been socked in the gut. Again. And it wasn’t because my announcement was met with another one.  No, my supreme discomfort was because I was reminded of how much it took me to get to this point when I strongly suspected that my doppleganger had done nothing more exotic than have a few mai tais too many.  The usual and customary feelings hit me like a wave:  I felt like a lesser person again, an inferior and an infertile, perpetually incapable of bearing fruit.

My inner infertile took this opportunity to perch on my shoulder and whisper into my ear, “you know she got pregnant without drama and that she hasn’t had any of the issues you’ve had.  She’s actually excited! She can be excited, unlike you.  And, of course, she’s due in March, too.   So, don’t get comfortable there prego!”

Meanwhile, Inner Prego Lady immediately climbed into bed, pulled the covers over her head, and declared that she wanted to hibernate for the next four months.  She’s a dramatic thing.

We left soon thereafter and went about the rest of our walk.  Inner Infertile and Inner Prego were still in their various throes when the Ref stepped in to bring some clear thinking to the proceedings.  “First”, she said, “we have no idea how this lady got knocked up and frankly, it doesn’t really matter.   She’s also perfectly entitled to be excited.  We are doing just fine taking it one day at a time and anything more would induce anxiety attacks.  Besides, there are far too few measured, content but not overly excited pregnant ladies in this world.  And, finally, her pregnancy has nothing to do with ours.  It doesn’t change a thing nor should we let it have the power to. We can only be responsible for our sphere and she is not part of it.” Amen, sister.

Inner Prego peeked out of the covers and saw that the world had in fact not changed in the slightest. Little Bugger kicked her just for reinforcement. Inner Infertile went back to her retreate on the beach to her book and fruity alcoholic beverage to contemplate the concept that it really doesn’t matter how someone else got knocked up.

As for me, I was relieved to be reminded that I was solely responsible for worrying about me, and not someone else and their pregnancy.  Besides, Inner Prego has to go to the bathroom. Again.

image: FAB O LENS

So Not Much to Say

edward-hopper-morning-sunFour Weddings and a Funeral has been on a lot recently and I have had flashbacks to high school swooning over Hugh Grant.  For the life of me, I cannot understand what I saw in him back then, with those silly glasses and that scrawny little frame of his. I need meat on my man, and he was positively anorexic in that movie.  Still, he was so … earnest.  Anyway, one of my favorite lines in the movie was uttered by Gareth (the gargantuan gay man who ended up being the subject of the lone funeral). He opined that the only reason people got married was to have something to talk about, after they had run out of all other topics of conversation. 

Sometimes, I feel that the opposite is true for Mr. X and I when it comes to this pregnancy.  We hardly mention it except in terms of, “if things are still looking good, we can go do ____” or “how is your nausea today?”.  I have absolutely no problem not mentioning it in polite conversation or even not thinking about it for long stretches of time.  Why? A big fat shout out to those of you who guessed Self-Preservation!  As I have detailed ad nauseum (no pun intended) here, I just can’t get too invested yet because there is still that chance, however small, that it can all end.

I was confronted with this problem today when I got an email from my dad.  It was so wonderfully supportive, letting me that he was thinking of us all during this time and that he specifically was sending good thoughts to the baby.  I wanted to think that he was referring to the dog or one of the kitties, but I knew this wasn’t the case when he specifically mentioned them later.  I wanted to blur out the word – I can’t bear to make that connection yet and it pained me to even have to think about it.  There is no baby yet for me. There is a pregnancy and this is what has allowed me to stay sane while navigating these treacherous waters where we sank twice before. I’ve only been able to string the words, “I” “am” and “pregnant” into a sentence twice since we found out. Obviously, I am not ready to make the leap to the ‘b’ word.

This of course, takes a huge topic of conversation out of circulation, but that is fine with me.  I know that talking about it, even remotely with optimism would cause little suspicious synapses to start firing in the old noggin causing more anxiety than a trip to the bathroom.  Instead we talk about our upcoming vacation to the northeast, the dreadful two days we spent without air conditioning before the system was fixed, work and weekend plans.  Or, we just sit in a companionable silence.   And that is just fine with me.

* * * * * *

Edward HopperThere is one topic that we have been discussing that is somewhat related – my depression.  It has gotten better, mainly because I finally admitted to myself why I was in such a funk.  I had apparently made the executive decision not to allow myself to look forward to anything lest I suffer the pain of disappointment, during this time when disappointment can be at its peak.  I mentioned this to Mr. X and gently asked if it was okay for me to look forward to some things (like a weekend or a good book) and he wholeheartedly agreed.  Once I made that connection, I was able to begin to see some light.  I haven’t completely climbed out of the trench, but I’m slowly getting there.

We Came, We Saw, We Heard

I have a really bad habit when something big is about to happen. I think, “oh, in x number of hours, we’ll know” or “in another hour, it will all be over.”  Of course, this is only used for events that are anxiety inducing – they are not pleasant thoughts and only serve to cause more anxiety about the impending event.

This was what I was thinking as we drove the five minutes to the clinic in 6:50am cool air.  I’ve driven this route so many times now, seen the same people walking the same dogs, it’s amost comforting. Almost. Because today, was no ordinary day.

Today was the 8 week scan. The scan where the stakes were raised to threat level heartbeat.  Luckily, Dr. Salsa didn’t waste much time getting down to business.

And, poof, there was the little p.  I could tell right away that there was significant growth since our last scan two weeks ago.  And, with the movement of the wand just a milimeter, I saw the tell-tale flashing.  The tiniest heart amongst us.

You will probably shocked to hear this, but I never actually saw the heart flash before on either my two previous pregnancies.  Dr. Uterus’ scanning equipment was fine, but there was one monitor and it was rather hard to crane my neck to see the important stuff. Dr. Salsa of course, provides you with your own monitor on the ceiling which I am appreciating more and more each time. 

He turned on the sound and there it was – wocka, wocka, wocka – like Fozzie bear.  The rate measured at 167 bpm which is nice and solid. He took some measurements and everything was on track.

I also tallked with him about the big D.  He gave me the name of a psychiatrist who can, if need be, proscribe me something.  I also see my regular therapist on Monday and will definitely raise the issue with her as well.  Between the two, we’ll see what we can do.  The uncertainty level has gone down a little with today’s appointment.  But, it will come back up again.  We are in charted, but still dangerous waters and know that the boat can capsize still.  We’re just taking it day by day.

Thank you all for your lovely comments and support. May this karma rebound to you in droves!

[Insert Title Here]

I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  I swear.  But, my blogging ability seems to have been robbed from me sometime in the middle of the night a few weeks ago.  I’ve put up LOST posters, taken out ads, but to no avail.  I am beginning to suspect G might have something to do with it. I keep getting emails of dogs showing their bellies.  Naughty boy.

Since paragraph formation is not in the cards, you will have to settle with items.

  • My symptoms and I have reached a detente.  They are allowed to take some time off and as long as they come back, I won’t send out the search party.  So far, this has worked out well. 
  • I have developed an aversion to chicken. And ceaser dressing. Very interesting.
  • I still have an aversion to obviously pregnant women.
  • The aforementioned symptoms have also worked very well to spark sympathy offerings of household choring from Mr. X.  This has yet to extend to laundry, but has involved food delivery. 
  • I’m finding it very easy to not be tempted at all to share our news with anyone other than those who have already been told. 
  • Although, it might have come in handy last night at Bunco when the hostess served dessert that for a while there sounded as if it might have salmonella.  No worries, though.
  • My googling has slowed to a trickle.  This is less a sign that I am becoming more confident and more a result that I have googled just about everything I can and now see the same stuff over and over again.
  • Next scan is on Wednesday.  I’m not freaking out . Yet. 

That’s all about I can manage for this evening.  Stay classy, blogosphere.  Thanks for stopping by.

Trust

Infertility and miscarrige have brought many new experiences into my life – needles (oh so many needles, of all shapes and sizes);  powerful, mood altering drugs; amazing bouts of unrequited jealousy; complete lack of modesty; an apprenticeship in reading follicle scans (seriously, I am a total pro. I can guess within 1 mm); the first opportunity since grade school to use ‘meniscus’ in a sentence. 

rogiroBut, one of the less obvious, yet still devastating experiences these two harpies have brought me has been a loss of trust and confidence in my body and its ability to nurture life.  Reproductively, we certainly didn’t get off to a good start – somehow both of my fallopian tubes became blocked and had to be cleared.  I have a champion uterus, but that has meant absolutely zero since the embryos that keep implanting in it are chromosomally abnormal.  So, I can easily say that I no longer have a lot of trust in my reproductive abilities. And, it is an awful feeling.

This has become painfully clear again with this most recent try for the teething ring.  I question my body, and frankly everything about this go round, constantly – am I exhausted enough? nauseous or just nervous? what was that twinge? cramping, but not too much? spotting? not spotting red? – because if I worry about it, or so the thinking goes, then I won’t be blindsided again with bad news.   

And, it’s not just physical feedback from my body that has me on edge.  I still eye even good news – good beta numbers, etc –  with suspicion because I’ve had the “good news” before and then watched it turn very bad.  I think taking a frying pan upside the head would have been less painful than the moment I learned that my first pregnancy had ended because I didn’t see it coming At All.  All subsequent pregnancy experiences for me revolve around never getting blindsided again like that because it was such an awful, awful experience. Easily one of the top 5 worst in my life. 

So, even when today’s scan at approximately 6 weeks had no surprises, I still cannot say that relations have improved.  But, I can report one bean, measuring on target with a gestational sac, yolk sac and a fetal pole. No heartbeat detected on the screen, but Dr. Salsa didn’t try using the microphone.  I had asked him ahead of time what we should expect to see and a heartbeat was a 50/50 at this stage, so I wasn’t too concerned (and Dr. Google repeatedly told me that it would be iffy seeing one at this stage).  The gestational sac was looking more oval and elongated than round, but Dr. Salsa once again was not concerned since the angle of the dildo cam can change how it looks on the screen. 

I still don’t trust my body or my reproductive abilities, but the ice is melting. Next scan is in two weeks, when the stakes get raised (or the limbo bar gets lowered, depending upon how you look at it) again. 

image: rogiro

Facing the Fear

I remember the wait before my first OB scan.  I was nervous, but mainly because I had no idea what to expect.  It didn’t occur to me that there might not be anything on the screen or if there was, that there might not be a heartbeat.  My naivete was rewarded with a perfectly normal OB scan, complete with a heartbeat (although it still ended up going south anyway – so much for statistics!).  The second time I was waiting for that first OB scan, I wasn’t nearly as naive.  I was also tormented with spotting which I had never had before and was convinced meant the end before the beginning.  By the time I got to the scan, I was so exhausted from worry that I wasn’t surprised that there wasn’t much to be seen

7 (Miguel Angel)So, approaching this latest first OB scan has been a study in compromise.  Should I allow myself to have even a little dash of hope?  Should I be like Mr. X and expect the worst?  I have, so far, chosen the middle ground.  Neither hoping or dreading.  Even when I started spotting last week (brown) or cramping more regularly today, I have refused to entertain that little voice in my head saying, “OMG, OMG, OMG, what if it’s all over?!” 

I do, however, sit down with it and ask, “So, what if it’s all over? What is the worst that can happen?”  And, I find comfort in knowing that I know what the worst is that can happen and I have survived it, twice now.  Ironically, whenever I think about it, I worry most about being an object of pity and how much that hurts.  But, I know that I would be ok, as would Mr. X.  We would survive as we have done before, and we would move on, although where I don’t know.  And, that by far is more comforting right now than anything Dr. Google has been able to provide. 

I have kept Dr. Salsa in the loop about all of the gory details – the brown spotting (or staining as I think it is officially called), the sudden change to reddish brown on Sunday that disappeared as quickly as it arrived, the increasing cramps – only asking whether or not I should be worried and taking heart in his all caps response, NO. 

In the end, my fate is out of my hands as it has always been and I can only wait patiently to hear what it will be. 

image: 7 (Miguel Angel)

O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da, O-My-God

alfarmanI had my blood draw this morning for my third and final beta and all I can say is thank God.  I actually find it more stressful to go to the clinic now than I did when we were just cycling.  Part of that is because those people insist on throwing out the p word at me and saying, “I’m so happy!”  And, they see my pained expression and say, “Oh, I know, I know, but I am going to be happy.”  I also cringe because it’s a fairly open office and I hated it when I was a patient and would overhear such protestations of joy.  I can’t bear the thought of someone else having to deal with that, too, in the one place where they are supposed to be able to get away from it.

And, with this last blood draw I thought with a certain amount of satisfaction that it was going to be a good while before they would have me back for an ultrasound.  I mean, at least not until the end of July, which would give me lots of time to mentally prepare, right?

Wrong.

Next week.  They want to see if there is a gestational sac.  This is a new one for me. With Dr. Uterus, they practically bar the door until at least 6 weeks because there isn’t much to see.  But, they also didn’t do third blood draws, so maybe comparisons aren’t as helpful here. 

I have a week.  A week to calm my self down and find that mellow spot of meditation where I can still function.  Because I have to be able to function.  Hibernation, while attractive, is not an option.  And, I need to develop a method for coping with my anxiety because this may not be the end of the road and I don’t think my body can handle the up and down stress for a long period of time.  I also don’t want to drive everyone around me batshit crazy (except Mr. X.  I’m certain that he accepted this in our marriage vows).   Any suggestions for how to achieve a zen like calm in this kind of situation would be greatly appreciated.

I could have really used them this afternoon when I had to wait until 4 to get today’s results.  They were worht it, though: 15dp5dt beta = 846.  Doubling time of 44.4 hours, which while not as overachievingly spectacular as my previous 36 hours is still damn respectable.  Progesterone = 306, and yet, I still have to shoot myself in the ass.  Sing with me, “While my butt gently weeps…”

image: alfarman

So Wrong on So Many Levels

tantekFirst Response, that purveyor of hope and warm fuzzy images of normal fertile ladies, has a new product on the market that tests a woman’s fertility.  Apparently, it “accurately” measures your Day 3 FSH giving you a picture of the quality and quantity of your eggs.  I’m not going to address the fact that FSH is in some circles considered to be an inexact measurement of a woman’s egg quality (note that I didn’t say fertility – a woman can have the eggs of an 18 year old and still be unable to get pregnant due to other issues such as tubal blockage, uterine abnormalities, hormonal issues, etc) nor am I going to address what I consider to be First Response’s blatant use of this product to freak women the f*ck out and make them think that if they have a high FSH, they are permanently screwed. 

No, I’m going to address how they have marketed this scare tactic because it is a real smack to those of us who are fertility challenged.  They have put together a commercial for which I was not able to find a link, but that has been transcribed here

artnooseMy blood started to simmer at the first line, “The moment we pass from womanhood to motherhood, we cross a threshold“.  At least it could be read to include women who become mothers through adoption or even women who provide additional parenting as aunts, etc.  But, what is this magic threshold? Does that mean that you cannot be a mother and a woman?  Or, is it like the field in Iowa where you walk into the corn never to be seen again? What of those women who cannot be mothers or choose not to? Are we left behind in womanhood never to cross this magic Rubicon?

If only that were the top of the mountain.  Instead, it was only the tip of the infuriating ice berg. Here is the real blood boiler line:

Fertility is a woman’s most sacred birthright.”  What. The. F*ck.  Are you shitting me?  If this is the case, then I’ve been totally cheated!  I want my money back!  I’m going to call my parents and tell them that they really screwed this one up. 

 I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how ridiculously awful this is.  It’s as if the most important thing that a woman’s most prized possession is her ability to reproduce, to repopulate the species.  (Notice that there is no mention of man’s most sacred birthright (or as the commentary so eloquently put it, “[s]trangely, I never see Viagra commercials arguing that knocking people up is a man’s most sacred birthright.” That would be sexist, right?)).  And, what of those of us who are infertile? We apparently lack that most sacred of birthrights, and have little else that can be nearly as important as this. We are, in essence, lesser people because of it.  Is it really necessary to beat on infertile women to sell a product?  Have we reached that low?

As unbelievably an eye-roll inducing a statement as it is, I know in my heart that my fertility, or lack thereof, is not a measure of me anymore than it is a sacred birthright.  I cringe at the word birthright anyway because it has so many connotations of people getting things that they have done nothing to deserve, although, frankly, I’ve thought this about quite a few fertile ladies in my day, so many they aren’t that far from the mark.  No, fertility is no more a sacred birthright than expecting that you will have blonde hair or blue eyes.  First and foremost, it is a choice, one of many that women get to exercise now that we have moved out of the Dark Ages.  Women can be mothers, but, they can choose not to be and still have fulfilling, non-spinsterly lives. 

So, shame on First Response for trying to repackage fertility into something that should be seen by women as a thing that they are entitled to or, by extension, must exercise.  

images: upper left – tantek; bottom right – artnoose, both used through Creative Commons.

Looks Like I Picked a Bad Day to Quit Drinking…

Caffeine, that is.

I’ve had the mother of all headaches from about 1pm onwards and I haven’t helped it by brooding over an incident at this morning’s monitoring appointment.

The monitoring itself was fine.  Nice number of contenders, same dosage and a follow up visit with the dildo cam on Friday.

No, what bothered me was what I saw when I got in the room. 

7am to 9am is cycle monitoring time and they see a slew of patients.  I understand that the clean up between patients can be hasty. What I don’t understand, though, is how you don’t clear the image from the ultrasound screen from the prior patient. 

Especially when it is me who is going in for the next appointment.

The person they saw in there before me was pregnant, 7w3d to be exact.  How did I know this without having met her?  The ultrasound screen hadn’t been cleared after she had left and there on the screen was the telltale baby blob. And, just in case you had someone who couldn’t quite make it all out, the tech had helpfully written above it the words “Hi Mom and Dad!” Un-freaking-believable.  And, this is not the first time this has happened at his office, either. The last time this happened, there was no picture.  No ridiculous anthropomorphic utterings from the baby written on the screen. 

What’s amazing is that I wasn’t bothered that she was pregnant or that I had to see the picture of her blob. What bothered me was that they were able to write that message from their baby assuming that seven or so months from now, they will meet that baby, and they were able to do that without a hint of worry or foreboding.  I lost the ability to do that with my first miscarriage (after hearing the heartbeat. Twice.).  So now, I grieve not only the loss of my two babies, but I also grieve the loss of that innocence, that surety that now that there is a bun in the oven, it’s smooth sailing from here on out.  I wanted to bang my head on the wall (or the screen). 

When Dr. Salsa came in, I nicely asked that they make sure that the ultrasound screen is clear before I go in to the room. 

Unfortunately, that’s not going to erase the rest of it.

Rage. Rinse. Repeat.

Recently, I developed a new, rather alarming reaction to seeing couples who appear to be in the same age range as Mr. X and I, one of whom is carrying the tell-tale ubiquitous baby tote while the other brings up the rear with the large stroller/carrier contraption:

Abject rage.

I Like

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit of an overreaction.  I mean really, rage? Aren’t there things that are really more rage-worthy than seeing some former frat boy carrying a car seat like its a bucket of water?  Absolutely, but I see more than just some guy and a baby.  I see where I am supposed to be and I am not.  Enter rage.

Part of the problem is that we see so many of them on a typical trip to a restaurant or a market.  We must live in the fertile crescent of the United States, because it’s like no aisle at Lowe’s is free from the strollerati.   So, rather than seethe silently or begin avoiding just about every public place, I decided to get down to the bottom of why I felt so effing pissed off.

I should mention that it’s not hormonal.  My hormonal rages are usually directed at thoroughly useless, baseless and stupid shit that is not even worthy mentioning here (“Bitch, did you not see that stop sign?!”).  And, I haven’t been on the drugs long enough to elicit such a response. 

No, it’s a complex rage made up of several different emotions.  It’s anger that we have been treading water for four years waiting to move on to the next phase of our life and it’s to the point that we’re beginning to wonder if we are going to take that next step.  It’s fear that we might not have a conventional life and our rhyme might just end at “then comes marriage”.   Most of all, it’s being reminded again of what we have tried to achieve and failed to do, repeatedly.  It’s feeling like we are being held back, asked to repeat a grade, over and over again while our same-age peers move on to the next appointed step.  We’ve got the marriage, where’s the goddamn baby carriage? 

And, damn it all to hell, it still freaking hurts. 

So, yeah, when I see some girl who is my age with the husband and the infant carrier, I get pissed.  Pissed that we are in the situation we are, pissed that I’m still upset about it, pissed that I don’t think I can share my feelings on the subject with Mr. X, and generally pissed that I’m letting a couple of strangers piss me off.

It’s a pisser.

image: I Like