Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year

I joke that I don't make resolutions because they never come to fruition, but that I make goals. I set hopes and dreams. But the truth or what I'm learning with infertility is that hopes and dreams often fail miserably - at least when you are like me and you set a time frame for them. I remember sitting at the computer last year, writing about how 2010 would be different. How this would be the year that I get pregnant. That this would be the year we would resolve our infertility.

Well, here I am. Today is December 31. I am not pregnant. I have never been pregnant. And I certainly don't have a baby in my arms.

I could sit here and write down what I'd like to happen in 2011. I could sit here and type all of the things I hated about this year. I could sit here and write about the breast lump. The surgery for endo. The failed IUIs. How, in this last week of 2010, I experienced the gynecologist appointment from hell, a viral infection, and the arrival of AF - all fitting exclamation points to end this year.

Instead, I am going to sit here and tell you that I don't have hopes and dreams for 2011. I'm just going to live. And instead of wasting this space with misery and sadness about what wasn't or what could have been (because we all know that I write about depressing shit enough), I am going to focus on what was good. So here it is, my "best of" 2010 in review. Enjoy, and I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

video

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

every infertile's worst nightmare

Here's the gist how my appointment went down:

Dr. P: So, tell me - how old are you?
Me: 25
Dr. P: Oh, GREAT! You are so young! (Strike 1)
Me: (fake smile)
Dr. P: Tell me about your history with infertility.
Me: (insert long, boring, sad history here - with a happy ending of "we're adopting!")
Dr. P: Well, you know. I've had at least ten patients with infertility who have adopted. And within six months, all of them have come back and been pregnant! So you should think about that before you seriously consider adoption. (Strike 2)
Me: (not so realistic fake smile)
Dr. P: You know what else about adoption? It's long. It's hard. It's emotionally draining. It's just a big pain in the butt. (Strike 3)
Me: Yeah? So is infertility.

Of course, I'm paraphrasing here. And all of the negatives about adoption continued until he left the room. I quickly dressed, paid my co-pay, and walked out.

But I'm not paraphrasing when I say that I cried the entire way home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

what is left to break?

I have an appointment with my new gynecologist next week.

My previous gynecologist was located right around the corner from my old job. Since he moved his practice to the Florida Panhandle and how I no longer work at that old job, which was 65 miles away from home, it was time to find a new doctor. I settled on a man I'll call Dr. P.

Dr. P is a member of my regular doctor's practice - Dr. &. I've seen Dr. Y since I was 12 years old, and I take his recommendations very seriously. He knows my entire medical history - depression/anxiety, TMJ, and now infertility. If Dr. P is good enough for him, then he's good enough for me. On top of that, both REs I've seen in the area have recommended Dr. P. I feel confident that I'll be in good hands.

But I don't feel confident about the appointment itself.

I'm nervous for various reasons. For one, I don't like having to explain my entire sordid medical history to a new doctor. I'm worried that he will ask me questions about why we are bailing on infertility treatments before trying IVF when we're "so young" (see previous post). But mostly, I'm not looking forward to the possibility of something being wrong.

Before February 2009, I was FINE with going to the gynecologist. While other women complained about having someone poke and prod their lady bits, it wasn't a big deal for me. It was once a year, and it was harmless. I would get my clean bill of health and went on my merry way.

Everything changed last year when my gynecologist diagnosed me with cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, and infertility - all in one visit.

But even after that and subsequent appointments, even after the referral to an RE, even after numerous tests and infertility treatments, going to the gynecologist still wasn't that bad. I had confidence that my next annual would get me back on track to a clean bill of health - minus the infertility and endo.

Imagine my surprise when instead the doctor found a tumor in my breast. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?, I wondered. I went from being a healthy 23-year-old newlywed in 2008, to a 25-year-old with failing lady parts - talking to my doctor about my chances of needing a pre-menopausal mastectomy and hysterectomy: high.

With all of this, you can guess that I'm not looking forward to Tuesday's appointment. Not that I care about spreading my legs for some new guy. (Because let's face it - I'm pretty confident that the number of people who've seen my vagina at this point is far greater than the number of people who've seen Paris Hilton's bits.) But because I'm scared of the other shoe dropping. Because I don't want another surgery. Because I don't want to be the 25-year-old woman with yet another part of her body dying. Because I am TIRED of being broken.

I already have a broken uterus, broken ovaries, a broken cervix, broken breasts, and a broken heart. Isn't that enough?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

an open letter to the "ageists"

The saying is that "age is nothing but a number" when it comes to romantic relationships. Somehow, this saying never holds true when it comes to a different kind of relationship: the one between a parent and a child.

I have no issues putting my age out there for everyone to analyze. I am 25 years old. My husband is 33. When we tell people we can't have children, almost everyone has the same reaction:

But you're so young!
Go enjoy life!
You have plenty of time!

Why is it that people, when they learn our ages, automatically think we should wait to be parents? I know: this isn't a new debate. In fact, many of you who are reading this probably have strong opinions on when a person is ready to be a parent. I have these same opinions. But my concern is that we pin too much of that opinion on a number and not other factors. My greater concern is that we don't realize that there are people within our own community, like me, who are young and who are hurt by the judgment and generalization about young women and motherhood.

So, I decided to write an open letter about my feelings on the topic. Love it or hate it, I'm annoyed and this is what I have to say:

Dear Ageist,

Thank you for weighing in on my mothering capabilities. First, yes: I am young. But I am an adult. I've graduated from college once, and I will do it again in about a year and four months. I'm happily married to a man that I've known for almost 10 years. I realize that turning 18 and becoming an adult may not make someone capable of being a mom. I know I never could have properly cared for another person at age 18. I know that other people may not be ready for motherhood at age 25. But it's wrong to assume that I haven't lived or experienced enough to be a good mom.

I have enjoyed life. I spent a majority of my college years drinking heavily in bars with friends. I still go out with my friends now, even while we wait to adopt. But what makes you think I wouldn't enjoy life as a mom? What makes you think that having children is so un-enjoyable? Better yet, what makes you think I should party like it's 1999 until I'm 30 years old and my liver is dying? I get it. I'm in my 20s, and that somehow equates to me having the time of my life. I am having the time of my life - as a wife. I've lived through the "taking shots until I pass out and vomit" stage of my life. It's time to move on.

Speaking of time: while it appears I may have plenty of time left in front of me to have children, I don't. I certainly have zero time to produce biological children. My lady parts are failing, and they have been for a while now - longer than I've known there were issues. So why are we choosing to adopt now rather than adopt later? I lost my grandmother when I was in 8th grade. It was devastating. She was so young, and she missed so much of our lives. My mom has already beaten cancer once. My greatest fear is that some day it will return and she will miss my child's milestones because of it. Joey has his own reasons that are family related.

But neither of us are doing this for our families. We are doing it for ourselves. I've always wanted to be a mom young. Always. And whether it happens now or five years from now, I'll be ready. My husband is beyond ready. It hurts me to think that people question what kind of mother I'll be at my age, when there are women in their 30s who have never once held a baby until they've given birth. It's infuriating that people have this preset notion of what I should be doing with my life at my age.

The bottom line is you are not me. My birth certificate may say I'm young, but it doesn't have a place for a stamp of motherhood approval. Every day that I get older and I still don't have a baby, a part of me dies inside. While I'm grateful for the experiences our journey with infertility has given me, I would trade in these experiences in a second for a chance to hold my baby. I would trade in every night of drinking in college and partying with friends. When it's all said and done and my life is coming to a close, I guarantee that none of the "fun" experiences of my teens and 20s will make the top ten list of best moments of my life. But I bet that there will be plenty of moments on that list, if not all of them, that involve being a parent.

So please, think before you speak or type. Think about the women who ARE young and who hurt because they can't be a mom or make their partner a parent. Think about the people who are mature enough to become parents but will never get that opportunity. And for those in this community, think about your infertile sisters - the women who are going through the exact same thing you are. Don't look at their age. Look at their experience: what they are going through, what they have been through, and their support for you. We are too close, too special to divide ourselves with meaningless numbers.

Sincerely,
Me

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

four things that are on my mind

1. Do you all remember my whole "peace about the holidays" mentality? Yeah, well I think that went out the window at the beginning of my funk. I actually think that might be the reason FOR my funk. While I'm feeling a little bit better than I was last week, I'm still feeling anxious for Christmas to be over and for 2011 to begin. Though I'm not anxious for my vacation to go by quickly: I leave work early on Thursday and don't come back in until January 3. I absolutely love my semi-new job, but I can't wait for a week of relaxation.

2. Danica has been sick. Very sick. She started having explosive diarrhea on Saturday. I'll spare you the gory details; but, I will say that I have to buy a pair of new black flats for work while I'm on vacation. I think it's finally settling down. She's on two prescription medications, and she's lost about a pound. On top of all of this, she also got bit by a bug and it created a hot spot on her neck that we've had to Neosporin and wrap up nightly. My poor baby is falling apart! I keep telling her she needs to feel better before Santa Puppy visits.

3. I keep sitting down to write an actual blog post, and I keep getting sidetracked. I promise one is coming. This week, even. And I will publish it. I won't just let it sit there and float for three weeks and then delete it. (This point is more of a personal note/promise to myself. I'm trying to get motivated, because there are things I want to write about.)

4. The walls at work are thin, and they don't quite go up to the ceiling. Today, I heard an interesting conversation. Someone was telling a coworker about how her husband has a child with another woman - and that child is 17 days younger than her child. Yes, you read that right: 17 DAYS. Of course, the coworker asked how that was possible, and she said (matter-of-factly), "He cheated on me." Aside from the obvious question of, Would you stay with the bastard?, I'd also like to ask, Is this something you would discuss with your coworkers? or How much information is too much information? This coming from a person who has openly told people about her infertility at work after receiving questions regarding if and when Joey and I will have children.

And there you have it: the most random collection of what is going through my head at this moment.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

strength

A little over a month ago, while we were up in Knoxville visiting my awesome SIL and her boyfriend, Joey bought me a necklace that reads "Strength."

It was supposed to bring me strength during a time when I needed it most. But lately, I don't feel strong. I just feel weak, lonely, and sad. I'm trying my best to pour my heart and energy (what's left of it, anyway) into positive things:

A few weeks ago, we started - slowly - clearing out to closet to what will be the nursery. We think that putting together the nursery in the first half of 2011 will be a good way for us to work on something that's actually within our control. It's strange for me to be starting a nursery with no idea as to when or how a baby will get to us. But I feel like this is the one positive thing we can do right now that relates to our infertility (that and save money for the adoption, of course).

We also picked a country: we are 100% decided on domestic adoption.

I am now the Education Coordinator for our local RESOLVE chapter, and I agreed to organize two speaker meetings this year. One will be a men's panel and the other will be an adoption panel. I'm excited for the opportunity to organize both, and I hope we have a good turnout.

And do you remember my post a few weeks ago about my fear with Danica and a new baby in the house? Well, on Sunday we had the chance to host one of my best friends and her husband, their little doggy, and their 4-month-old baby boy. We couldn't keep Danica away from the baby. She LOVED him. She wanted to lay next to him constantly and give him kisses. It was amazing. The few times he fussed, she was so concerned and went to check on him. She impressed (and relieved) me with her behavior. She'll have another "test" next weekend when our nephew comes to stay with us. This might be a little different because our nephew is old enough to walk and is more vocal - and, if you'll remember, her main fear is of toddlers. But, I hope that the training and her recent exposure to little people will help her with her fears.

So, that's it. Those are my positives. That's all I've got.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

until next time

My goal this week was to leave behind the bitterness and anger. I'm not going to lie: it's why I haven't posted up until this point. I wrote and erased, wrote and erased. For someone who usually is not afraid to hold back her negative feelings, I censored myself for the first time ever. Writing alone helped me; I didn't need to share those feelings with anyone else for them to become valid.

So here I am. While I think it's safe to say that the peace I felt about the holidays a few weeks ago has worn off, I truly do feel better than I did last year at this time. (Or maybe I'm just getting better at masking my emotions.)

I don't know where I'm going with this.

***

This week I was reminded of how lucky I am to have a wonderful person to share my life with.

I take my husband for granted sometimes. The fact that he's there. The fact that he's wonderful. I know I do. I know we all have moments where we don't truly appreciate our significant other. We're busy and distracted. But this week I've had a chance to step back and truly admire my husband. We've been through so much in almost three years of marriage. But we never miss a beat.

No, I don't have a baby in my arms or my belly. But I do have him. And I am grateful for that.

***

Sometimes, I wonder why I'm still here - writing. I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over again. Going through the same motions. Blogging here can be therapeutic, but it's also a painful reminder of the fact that I am still here. Perpetually waiting, as I like to think of it, while others move forward.

There's a good chance I won't post again this week. I can't bring myself to write down everything I want to say and press publish. Except for this.

I think, right now, I am simply going to sign off, enjoy time with my husband, and reflect on myself.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

warning: "woe is me" post ahead

Thank you to those of you who commented on my post about Danica with positive stories and affirmations. Your words put my mind at ease. Obviously, we have some time to get her used to children, but I'm feeling more confident that she'll adjust fine when we do bring the little one home.

And thank you for the comments on my sadness post, as well. It was hard for me to admit that here. It's not a constant sadness, nor do I regret our decision, but I feel selfish because of it. I feel jealous because of it. And I have to remind myself that this - all of this - is not about getting pregnant. It's about becoming a mother. When I named this blog, I named it From IF to When: My Journey from Infertility to Motherhood, not My Journey from Infertility to Pregnancy. Pregnancy was never my ultimate goal. But it still hurts, and I know that I still have to mourn that loss. It's just going to take time. I will get over it. Right? I don't know. I just can't find it in me right now to read/get overly enthusiastic about anything regarding pregnancy, because I'm feeling a bit burned by the fact that I've been completely left behind by just about all of my infertile friends. Not that I realistically thought (or wanted) us to all be infertile together, but it still fucking sucks. I feel like the kid on the playground who is never picked for the kickball team.

Okay, ending my rant now. Please forgive me for my icy mood. I'm sure it's only temporary. I'm feeling a bit weary and worn down this week. Finals are taking a lot out of me, of course. Danica has been fighting some stomach issues. And our neighbor (yes, Carl . . . you remember him, don't you?) is continuing to rain on our first home bliss. I know I've mentioned this on Twitter, but he was arrested a few months ago for domestic violence. One would think he'd be cautious about playing his music loudly and drawing attention to himself. Carl doesn't give a damn.

In my attempt to end things on a positive note, this week is my last week of the semester. I have one more final paper due at midnight on Saturday, then I am DONE with my first semester of grad school. I'm looking forward to having a few weeks of normal before spring semester begins. I did make a decision regarding how many classes to take. I've signed up for three, and my plan is to take two in the summer, three in the fall, then two in my final semester. I feel like going 2, 3, 2, 3, 2 is better than going 2, 2, 2, 3, 3.

That's pretty much all I can muster up on 2.5 hours of sleep. I'm a barrel of joy this week, aren't I?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

admitting sadness

I will never be pregnant.

I will never experience what it's like to carry my own child within my belly.

I will never see a second line on a pregnancy test.

I will never witness the reaction on our families' faces when we tell them we are expecting.

I will never see my child on an ultrasound.

I will never feel the baby's first kicks.

I will never play music to my belly.

I will never wonder if I'm on team pink or team blue.

I will never be the pregnant lady at the baby shower.

I will never wear cute maternity clothes or smack hands away from my growing belly.

I will never experience childbirth.

I will never be pregnant. And, sometimes, that makes me sad.

Monday, November 29, 2010

admitting fear

I have one fear about having a baby in the house: Danica.

Danica is scared of kids. Actually, let me rephrase that. She's scared of kids when they make sudden movements and emit loud noises. Other than that, she's fine. She loved Joey's cousin's baby so much, that she - in her eager curiosity to give him kisses - accidentally got too close and licked him in the mouth. But when they run around and scream? Forget it. She barks. Her tail goes between her legs. And she tries to "herd" them when they run by nipping at their ankles (which is ridiculous since she's a hound dog).

My fear of how Danica will react with a baby in the home is part of the reason we decided to enroll her in a second round of obedience classes. She's gotten better in just about every area. She even approaches kids in the neighborhood now, and she wants them to pet her. But the kids in our neighborhood are relatively older - elementary school age. She has no constant interaction with younger children.

I've done a lot of reading about what to do and what not to do, but I thought I would take this fear to my blog. What better way to get advice than to ask those of you who've had to acclimate a dog or dogs to babies before. I want to stress that we in no way think she'll be aggressive toward a baby, nor would we ever let her be alone with the baby. I know that we need to set boundaries. What I'm curious about is how you set boundaries with your pet and baby. Any input is welcome!

(For the record, my husband does not share this fear. He thinks I'm a paranoid freak, which is partially true. So, if you'd like to tell me that I'm a paranoid freak, please feel free.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a time for thanks

While this time of year is often a painful reminder of what I don't have, it's also a nice reminder of what I do have:

I am thankful for my wonderful husband, Joey. This year marked our seventh year as a couple, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without him. He supports me in everything I do, he is my rock, and he holds the other half my heart. He is my greatest friend, biggest supporter, and he will one day be the best dad in the entire world.

I am thankful for my dog. Danica has brought so much joy and laughter (and, okay, a little frustration!) into our lives these past six months. No matter what happens, she will always be my first child, and I know Joey feels the same.

I am thankful for family. I read other people's blogs, and I get sad when I think about how some families are not supportive of their loved ones battling infertility. I am very fortunate to have a family who backs our decisions 100% and is there to cheer us on every step of the way.

I am thankful for my friends. I am so lucky to have friends who have stood by me and been there for me during the darkest moments of this year. They say you don't know who your true friends are until you go through the tough times. Thank you to those who stuck around.

I am thankful for my job. I know I am blessed to have a job that I like in this economy, and that I was lucky to find a job closer to home at the end of this year. I'm also thankful for Joey's job. We've come a long way since last year.

I am thankful for my home. It amazes me almost every day that we went from being on unemployment checks last year to owning a home less than a year later. I am so thankful to have a place to call our own, clothes on our back, and food on our table - something many people don't have this holiday season.

And last, but not least, I am thankful for all of you: those who I know from Twitter, blogging, Resolve, etc. While it sucks that we had to meet under these circumstances, I'm glad we found each other. People think I'm crazy when I tell them that some of my best friends and biggest supporters are people I've never met, but it's true. When no one out there understands and I don't want to bother my husband with my voice, this is where I come. I'm so glad we have each other.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a little of this, a little of that

Last week and the weekend was a whirlwind.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of iChatting with PCOSChick. She has been such a wonderful source of support for me since we made our decision to adopt. In fact, she's one of the few people I contacted before we announced our decision, because she and her husband are in the midst of the adoption process right now. She not only answered a bunch of my ridiculous and personal questions, but she also ordered books and magazines for Joey and I to read. I am forever grateful for everything she's done/is doing for us, and I can't wait to pay it forward to another couple once we go through this process.

Then, on Friday, I had two of my friends/fellow RESOLVE volunteers e-mail me with the contact information for a friend of theirs who does adoption home studies in the area independent of any agency. I sent her an e-mail, and she called me on Friday evening. Even though it'll be next year before we start the paperwork process, it felt good to talk to a professional. Obviously Joey needs to speak with her, too, but I felt positive about using her for our home study. If one friend raves about her, that's great. If another friend raves about her, I feel like she must be doing something right.

Beyond the adoption front, things are going well. Next week is my last week of classes for the semester, and unless something goes terribly wrong with my final papers, I should get out of the first semester with a 4.0. I haven't decided if I will take two or three classes next semester. My goal is to finish early (in the spring of 2012), which will require me to take three courses during two of my remaining semesters. So, what do you think? Do you think I should take three next semester, then three during either the fall of 2011 or the following spring? Or should I take three courses two semesters in a row: fall 2011 and spring 2012? I'm torn.

With the holidays coming up, I feel differently than I did last year. Not better, not worse . . . just different. I don't know if our decision to adopt has anything to do with that but I feel like it might. Last year, the holidays were horrible for me. We'd just finished two IUI cycles - both of which failed - and neither of us were feeling confident about our clinic. This year? I feel stoic. Unemotional. Maybe it will hit me after Thanksgiving, when all of the ads referencing "baby's first Christmas" and "you aren't a complete family until you pop out an offspring" begin. Or maybe I feel peace.

I haven't felt peace in so long that I've forgotten what it feels like.

Monday, November 22, 2010

the light bulb

(I wrote this post on October 4.)

"Do I know you?"

I cringed and stared at my old fertility doctor. The first one. The one whose partner refused to do a laparoscopy because he didn't believe the endometriosis was causing me to be infertile. The one who would show up late to my appointments because he was getting coffee at Starbucks. The one who would look at my ultrasounds, shrug his shoulders, and say, "I guess trigger tonight?"

In my mind, I knew what I should say. "Do you know me? My vagina was in your face for about three months straight. Perhaps you'd like me to lay down and spread my legs? Maybe then you would recognize me.

Instead, I forced a smile and replied, "Yes, I'm a former patient. Unsuccessful patient."

He apologized and asked if we were pursuing IVF. When I told him no, we couldn't afford it at the moment, he took the opportunity to give me a sales pitch on his new clinic. To tell me about how he could offer me one cycle for $6,000. To tell me how he would work with my schedule - see me at 6:30 for monitoring appointments, if that's what I needed. To hand me a stack of his cards and yell as he walked away, "Tell your friends."

Later that day, I walked into a large conference room - lunch in hand - and sat down at a table. A table occupied by two ladies representing area adoption agencies and a couple pursuing domestic adoption. We chatted for a moment until the guest speaker took the podium. I sat there and listened as she spoke about her journey with infertility. Her words rang in my ear the rest of the afternoon: I started to think, do I want to be pregnant or do I want a baby? I want a baby, she said.

Do I want to be pregnant or do I want a baby?

If the universe sends signs, this entire day was as clear a sign as ever. The fertility doctor pushing and shoving cheap IVF onto my lap. The adoption agency reps hugging me and nodding sympathetically when I gave them the abbreviated version of our journey. Let's face it: this was the light bulb. Weeks earlier, lying in bed, I silently begged for an clear answer as to what was supposed to happen next. I needed something, anything, to let me know that it was okay not to do IVF.

And this was it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

your questions - answered

Are you going to try to adopt a baby or open to an older child? Are you open to adopting a child that may not look like you or Joey (different race or nationality)?

We plan to adopt a baby. I think that my fear with adopting an older child right out of the gate is missing those earliest experiences that I wouldn't get to see/be there for if we adopted an older child. Also, to be honest, I would feel guilty adopting an older child while still working full time. Not that babies don't need tons of love and attention, but I would want to be home at least part time to support the transition of an older child - especially if that child has lived in the foster care system. This isn't to say we wouldn't consider a foster-to-adopt situation later. But it's not for us right now.

As for the question of race and nationality, we're pretty open people. If we think that a cultural difference is something we can handle, we'll go for it. If we get into our research and we think it's something that isn't for us, we won't. Right now, we are researching various possibilities.

Are you thinking domestic or international adoption?

We are almost 100% certain that we will adopt domestically, but it doesn't mean we aren't looking at international adoption all together. Much like the race/nationality question, we are staying open-minded. I think both of us want to make sure that we are fully educated before we say, "No, we definitely don't want to do that."

Will you continue on the acupuncture and Chinese herb route while proceeding with adoption? Or will you start BC to help control the cysts?

Yes, I will continue acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Both have helped me feel better emotionally and physically, so why not continue them? As for going on birth control, I can't go on birth control. It caused me to have severe migraine headaches when I was in college, to the point where I ended up in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. For now, we plan to stick to monthly monitoring and see where that takes us.

Are you and Joey going to try to adopt a girl or a boy? Or are you open to either one?

I would say that we're open to either one. However, if we did decide we wanted a boy or girl, I think we would still keep it a secret between us. Infertility has taken away from me every element of surprise imaginable - from "I'm pregnant!" to "Guess what the baby's gender is?!" We want the baby's gender to be a surprise for our family and friends, even if it's not a surprise to us. Does that make sense?

How do you even start moving forward on that? Are you wanting to do an open one or closed? How do they even choose who they give each child to?

I've already asked a few close friends to give me some names of agencies they know and recommend. (And please, if anyone has suggestions from their own personal experiences, please e-mail me at fromiftowhen at gmail.com.) We will most likely sit down and talk with a few agencies and see who we feel most comfortable with. I loved Rebecca's suggestion of completing the home study while we select an agency, and we may decide to do that. As for open or closed, it doesn't matter to us. I'd be fine either way - whatever the mother prefers. And I think it depends on the situation as to how a couple is chosen. I've known couples who were selected by the mother (via a profile), but I also know couples who were selected by their agency. I think it all varies based on the situation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

feeling the love

Joey and I went to Knoxville this weekend to visit my SIL. We had an absolutely wonderful time. And when we came home, I read the dozens of supportive comments and Tweets in response to Friday's news. I don't know how to express to each of you how much your words mean to me. I knew all of you would be supportive, but your comments truly touched me - more than you could ever imagine. I appreciate that you recognize how difficult this was for Joey and I. It was, still is, and will continue to be one of the hardest decisions we've ever made.

Stephanie commented on Friday's post that she hopes I'll post about our journey here. I want everyone to know with a resounding YES that I am going to post everything here. There are many things I want to write about, and I think that the best way to do this is to have all of you ask me questions. Because honestly, I have no idea where to begin! So, what do YOU want to know? I'll start by answering the two that Kakunaa left on Friday's blog.

Are you excited? Have you started any paperwork?

Yes and no. Yes, we are VERY excited. No, we haven't started any paperwork. We plan to start the paperwork process next year. We want to ease into all of this. Our plan is to spend as much time as we need reading and doing research before we begin the paperwork process. We'll also use this time to save money.

Friday, November 12, 2010

the decision

Today marks my second blogoversary.

When I started this blog, we'd been trying to have a baby for six months, and I was desperate for any and all means of expressing my frustrations. This is where I landed, and this is where I've lived ever since. This blog has seen me through the official diagnosis, four IUIs, a surgery, a lump in my breast, my husband's unemployment, our first house, our first dog, death, and life. But not a life of ours. Not a life that belongs to us or a life we can call "son" or "daughter." Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that - two years later - I would still be here. Waiting. Wishing. Hoping. Dreaming.

The events of the last few weeks brought to the surface a lot of questions about where we've been over these past two-and-a-half years of trying to conceive and where we would like to go. Despite my desire to spend the remainder of this year not thinking about fertility treatments, the topic became unavoidable with the ruptured cyst, the two new cysts, and the stunning diagnosis of "we just don't know." To them, it's a mystery. To me, it's yet another bullet point on the list of reproductive issues I've encountered . . . so far.

It's led us to revisit the topic of IVF. When we did, I cried. What happened to me? At one point, I felt fearless and ready to attack IVF head on. And now? Nothing. There is nothing inside of my body that tells me "this is a great idea." I wish I could tell you why. But the only thing I can say with certainty is that it just doesn't feel right. I may not feel that way in 5 or 10 years - or even 5 or 10 months - but this is the way that I feel right now. And I have to be honest with myself and my husband.

The reality is that the last six months never felt like a break from treatment. It has always felt like a break up. I am the bitter and jaded girlfriend who can no longer fight for survival. The thought of continuing this relationship makes me incredibly emotional and angry. I don't want to be angry. I don't want to be continuously disappointed in what could have been. I don't want to make things work. I want to part ways. I want to drive off and say "it just wasn't meant to be," rather than constantly look over my shoulder and struggle over whether to go back. And something else has caught my eye. My heart has been wandering - particularly over the last two months. I cannot stay in this "relationship" when I've already focused my heart on something else.

So, here I am. This decision has been months in the making. We are excited. Our families are excited. We need to follow our hearts, and our hearts say that we don't need a baby made from my eggs and Joey's sperm. Carrying a child for nine months doesn't determine whether I am a mother. Yes, that's how most women dream of growing their family. But the only thing I want is a person to care for and nurture. I want to be a mom. Joey wants to be a dad. And we've decided to do this through adoption.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

atticus finch was right

I appreciate all of the positive comments on yesterday's post. I was having one of those days where I felt backed into a corner with no way out. Infertility often makes me feel this way, but this week particularly so. It could be because I've been struggling with and weighing some big decisions about our future with TTC/fertility treatments. (It could also be because I've been reading too much garbage on the Internet.)

While I realize that some of my readers don't suffer from infertility, I don't think that I have a duty or obligation to consider the feelings of those who are on the other side of the fence when I'm writing down MY innermost feelings. I may come across as a terrible person with those words, but I don't mean any ill will by them. Honestly, if you've been reading my blog long enough, you should know that if I thought "All fertile women are bloodsucking bitches," I'd write it. I promise. But this is my journal - my private journal, which I chose to open up to the world in hopes that it will help others realize that they are not alone and help enlighten the outsiders as to what it's like to be infertile. I am not required nor do I intend to empathize women who become pregnant easily.

This is not to say that there are not fertile women in my life who don't sympathize with my situation, with what I am going through. Of course there are, and they are essential to my day-to-day living. But they don't truly understand my pain, or the pain of anyone else going through this. This is not a slight against fertile women; it's a fact. Call me hateful. Call me angry. Call me jealous. Call me whatever you wish. But I don't think it's fair to ask me to look at life from the opposite angle. It's like asking a man without legs to look at how difficult life is for a man with all of his limbs. Or like asking a parent of a disabled child to understand the plight of a parent with a child who is healthy. It's impossible; not ill-intentioned, just impossible.

To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books as a kid. It remains on my list of favorites today. In it lies one of my favorite literary quotes: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Until a woman who gets pregnant naturally walks around in my skin or the skin of any other woman in this community, she will not know the deep, lasting pain that infertility has on a person's soul. No child, not even a dozen children, will take away my struggle to become a mother. I am, and always will be, infertile.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what a fertile woman doesn't know

What a fertile woman doesn't know is . . .

the pain an infertile woman feels when she wakes up in the morning to an empty uterus, empty arms, and an empty heart.

why we keep the doors to our spare bedrooms shut - because we can't bear the thought that one of those rooms should be a nursery by now.

that we would die to experience her morning sickness or her swollen feet, just to know what it's like to have a baby growing inside of us.

how badly we want to have sleepless nights with a colic-y baby, more so than we want to go out drinking with our girlfriends.

that we go grocery shopping early in the morning, just to avoid running into her pregnant belly or her adorable toddler.

that while she is jealous of our latest vacation, we envy her messy house, her unwashed hair, and her stained T-shirt.

how difficult it is to sit through a baby shower when all we can think about is, "Will I ever experience one of these?"

the tortured feeling of not being able to give our parents grandchildren or make our husbands fathers.

why we dread going to family functions, change the channel when we see holiday commercials, and avoid the baby aisle at Target like the plague.

what it feels like to be trapped in a room and be the only woman in that room who has not experienced motherhood.

what it feels like to be trapped in a world where the only thing that makes a "real woman" is the ability to birth a child.

the pain an infertile woman feels when she lays her head on her pillow at night, and all she can think about is her empty uterus, empty arms, and empty heart.

Friday, November 5, 2010

the one where i'm still in a funk

Since Tuesday's appointment, I've had a lot of time to think. Or, should I say, I've had several sleepless nights to think. When my clinic called back on Tuesday afternoon, they said exactly what I thought they would say - there is nothing more they can do except constant monitoring. No, they don't know why this keeps happening on one side. No, I don't have PCOS. Yes, my AMH is normal (1.7).

I don't know much. What I do know is that I'm exhausted. Beyond exhausted. I've cried numerous times this week, and I still feel like I'm on the verge of tears today. Here I am supposed to be taking a break from doctors and appointments and fertility shit, and I have to go back MONTHLY to check and make sure my ovaries aren't exploding. It finally hit me that I am not going to be able to avoid doctors. As much as I want to, that is not destined to be my way of life. Ironically, the months that I'm medicated are the months I don't get cysts.

And I don't want to be medicated anymore.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

what next?

The rupture cyst is gone. In its place are two new cysts - same ovary, pressed against one another. I am waiting to hear back from my doctor.

My mind is sort of this tangled web of confusion and frustration. I cannot understand why this keeps happening - why my body won't work properly, and why nothing seems to fix it. The only time my left ovary does not produce insanely large cysts is when I am not medicated; an opposite reaction to when many infertile do experience ovarian cysts. Is it possible that PCOS can present itself in just one ovary, and that the other ovary simply does not display the classic signs? I know that I physically cannot have PCOS in one ovary. But could only one display the symptoms? Is it possible that my follicles are, when unmedicated, not producing eggs? Could I have empty follicle syndrome? In just one ovary?

This is my issue: it's only the one side. The right appears to be fine. No endo, no history of cysts, clear ovulation on the right side during at least one IUI cycle. What is it about the left ovary that makes it not want to function for me? What exactly did I do to piss it off?

My acupuncturist, the amazing woman that she is, called to check on me today. Though acu does not seem to be helping with the cyst growth, it is keeping me calm. So is Circle + Bloom. I started listening last month to their natural cycle program, and I can't tell you how relaxed it makes me feel. Even though I'm not technically cycling (with the cyst, and all), it keeps me level. It keeps me sane. At the end of the day, I need these things to keep me going. They are my only sanity at this point. And my husband. My wonderful husband. He is my rock. He takes care of everything, including me. He and the pup have done an amazing job these past couple of weeks.

I'm sorry I'm so down and all over the place. I just don't have it in me to be Positive Patty at the moment. I'm tired. I'm tired of the shit. I'm tired of being in the suck. I'm just . . . sick and tired of being sick and tired. And trying desperately to hang on to the positives.

Monday, November 1, 2010

hi ho, hi ho

It's back to the doctor I go.

I had a fever this weekend along with some other, um, symptoms, and increased pain. I have an appointment for first thing tomorrow morning. My acupuncturist is concerned about a possible infection.

Never a dull moment . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

mom, me, and halloween

My mom hates Halloween.

I don't know why. She's always felt this way. But she never let on to this fact when we were kids. She was super mom. She was the mom who spent weeks helping my brother and I plan (and sometimes make) our costumes. Sewing, coloring, hair, makeup, fake blood. Whatever we wanted to be, she made it happen. As we grew older and Halloween became a night we spent with our friends rather than our family, Mom's "excitement" over the holiday dwindled to a dull roar. She still handed out candy and helped us put together our costumes, but it was during this time of my life when I realized that Halloween was simply not her favorite day of the year.

Me? I loved Halloween. This day was exciting when I was a kid. I could be whatever I wanted to be - (though I deeply regret the year I wanted to be a pink crayon). When I got into high school and college, Halloween was always a valid excuse for a party with close friends. And when Joey and I got engaged and started talking about children, I imagined walking down a sidewalk with other moms, admiring the different costumes and discussing trivial matters like how long it took to put the outfit together or how many times our child changed his or her mind about what to dress up as.

No offense to my mom, but I don't want to hate Halloween. I don't want to be the only woman in the neighborhood who has no face to paint, no tiny hand to hold while trick-or-treating, and no candy to sort through at the end of the night. And I don't want my mom to be the miserable lady who hates this day. I want her to be the grandma who helps me sew my child's costume together. I want her to help me be the super mom that she was on this holiday when I was growing up. Halloween shouldn't be over for her. She should have to endure years more of everything that comes with this day - and so should I.

Instead, tonight, I sit at home in my pajamas. I take deep, shallow breaths through the pain of my cyst and cramps, munch on candy, and think about how different my life could be. Meanwhile, my mom sits at home, porch light off, most likely drinking a glass of wine on her couch - both of us eager to put this holiday behind us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

virtual reality

The Washington Post published an interesting article the other day about infertility and Facebook. I don't think I've ever talked about Facebook on my blog, but it's something I've talked about with members of this community privately and it's an oft-discussed topic in our Resolve support group meetings.

I love living in the year 2010 - the technology age. I think, most of the time, the fact that our world is a smaller place is a good thing. It helps us to know that we are not the only ones struggling. It helps us to feel less vulnerable. It helps others to understand that infertility is real, and it is an important issue. And, of course, no one can ignore the medical opportunities available thanks to technology. There are more family-building options at our disposal now than ever before. I think I can say with certainty that for many of you who've been blessed with children, your blessing may not exist if you didn't live in an age where (almost) anything is possible.

But there are downfalls to constantly being connected. The line that once existed between work and personal hours is now blurry. Web site headlines around the globe feature a small news story of little importance. And the ultrasound photos and weekly status updates of your cousin's pregnancy - which, ten years ago, you would never see or read - are now "top news" on your Facebook feed.

Of course, we know that this action isn't intentional. No one is sitting at home thinking, "I can't wait to post pictures of my big, pregnant belly and upset all of my friends who can't have children." (At least, we hope no one is thinking that.) But the unexpectedness of it is still painful. We aren't the only ones who suffer from Facebook frustrations. As The Post pointed out, "Chronically single people may envy friends' wedding pictures, for instance, and those who've lost a spouse can feel overwhelmed by friends' wedding anniversary announcements." Much like the woman who has lost her husband reading a status update about a friend's wedding anniversary, imagine what it would feel like to log on to Facebook and see someone complaining about their weight gain during pregnancy or the sleepless nights with their newborn baby - just days after losing your own child. Unfortunately, some of you don't have to imagine what that agony feels like. You've experienced it first hand.

The virtual world presents a new challenge to how we handle - or don't handle - sensitivity. It's one thing to tell a friend that you feel uncomfortable over the constant baby talk when the two of you are together. It's another thing to tell a friend that their Facebook posts make you uncomfortable. Unlike with in-person communication, the etiquette for virtual communication is fuzzy. When someone posts a status or a photo, he or she is posting it in his or her space. The only way in which they are bringing it into your space is through your virtual connection. If that person were not on your friends’ list, you wouldn't have access to that information.

So, while I get that there are painful aspects to social networking in regards to infertility, I don't think we can place the blame on the information provider. We choose to log on and stay connected with that person. By choosing to interact with the pregnant woman or the new mom, we are choosing to open ourselves up to the possibility of a painful post or photo - one that will remind us of what we've yet to achieve or what we've lost.

Facebook and I go through stages. There are moments when I don't feel compelled to click the "hide" button, and then there are times when I've deactivated my account for a period of time - afraid that one more photo of a smiling baby will send me into some hormonally induced breakdown. And there have been instances, though rare, that I've deleted people. In these cases, the friendship had already fizzled.

This isn't to say that the solution is to remove these people from our friends' list, delete our profiles, or cut these individuals out of our lives all together (though you may feel some or all of these steps are necessary, and that's okay). It's just to say that we have to protect ourselves. As much as I would love Facebook to create a message warning me of new "baby" posts before I log in, I know that I am my only filter. Forget baby showers and holiday parties - Facebook is what self-preservation is all about. This virtual reminder is something we encounter every day, and we must find a way to cope. Whether this means doing something as small as limiting our time on social networking sites or doing something as drastic as ending a friendship, our sanity is at stake.

At least someone is finally recognizing it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a post about giving up

I hope you haven't given up.

This is what my inbox screamed at me last Thursday afternoon.

Okay, so my inbox didn't scream at me. Nor did it write that message. But someone did, and I never knew that I could analyze six words so much.

What is that supposed to mean? Why doesn't she want me to give up? Have I given up? 

The truth is, all of these thoughts (and more) went through my mind as I stared at that message. I know it wasn't intended to be hurtful, but it sort of was. It made me feel . . . well, like I was a failure.

In a way, we are failures. We never succeeded in making a baby, and we never exhausted our options. I have that feeling of letdown every single day. Sometimes I need no reminders. Sometimes my reminder is going through my reader and seeing how many women have babies or are in their final stages of pregnancy - women who I started this journey with nearly two and a half years ago. 

And sometimes, my reminders are messages like the one above. They are reminders that I am not the only one who is disappointed. My husband is disappointed that he is not a father. My mom is disappointed that she is not a grandmother. Reminders like these expand my feeling of letdown beyond my own broken heart. They make me realize that this failure to succeed has let down others, too. 

I can deal with letting myself down, for the most part. What I can't deal with is letting down others. I can deal with accepting my fate. What I can't deal with is people thinking that I've given up. 

Putting it like that makes it so negative, so final. I'm not a quitter. I don't give up.

But would it be so wrong if I did?

Monday, October 25, 2010

checking in

First, I just wanted to say thank you all for the sweet comments and good thoughts. I'm still alive. I have moments of slight improvement, and moments when I feel as though my balloon of an ovary is about to burst. I called to check in with my RE on Thursday, and they called me to check in on Friday. Basically, there is nothing we can do unless the pain gets worse again. If it does, I'm probably looking at surgery. For now, it's all still "wait and see." Right now, I'm waiting for AF to arrive. She will determine when my ultrasound is. My ultrasound will determine whether the fluid is still there. And whether the fluid is still there will determine what exactly happens next.

So, for now, I'm here. I'm taking it easy. And I'm hashing out a blog post or two for the week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my letter to the hospital

To Whom it May Concern:

On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, I visited Express Family Clinic around 6 pm after experiencing sudden and severe abdominal pain. When an x-ray showed a mass on my left side - stretching from my ovary upward into my chest - the clinic advised me to seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room. I arrived at Florida Hospital East at approximately 7:30 pm, and I gave the ER staff the note from urgent care. I waited for over three hours. Finally, sometime between 10:30 and 11 pm, I opted to leave after I was told for the third time by a staff member that they didn't know when I would or could be seen.

The mass was blood and fluid from an ovarian cyst that had ruptured - a cyst caused by my endometriosis (of which I informed the ER staff) and a cyst that was disrupting my bowels. Had the cyst contained more blood, I would have needed surgery. If the cyst was large enough, I could have lost my ovary. But "could have" and "would have" shouldn't matter here. Ultimately, I should never have waited three hours in such excruciating pain. Florida Hospital East advertises a 60-minute or less emergency room wait. Your marketing and public relations department should consider discontinuing this campaign. While I was checked in within 60 minutes of my arrival, I never saw a doctor. In fact, as I was leaving, they were calling back a patient who arrived at the hospital one hour before I did. Another patient, who was brought in via ambulance after being hit by a car, was still sitting in a wheelchair in the waiting room - ice on his knee, his arms covered in dried blood.

My experience with emergency rooms in this area is limited. My only other emergency care visit occurred with my husband last year, when I took him to Dr. Phillips Hospital for what we later learned was a kidney stone. We were in and out in less than three hours. So, in the time that it took for me to bleed internally in your waiting room, Orlando Health treated and released my husband for a much more minor issue.

I think it's safe to say that my experience was less than pleasant. In the future, when it comes to my urgent health, I will not choose Florida Hospital - and I will encourage others to do the same. My reproductive endocrinologist, who diagnosed the rupture, told me I was incredibly lucky this time. I don't think I'm willing to trust Florida Hospital with a "next time."

Sincerely,

Your worst fucking nightmare (Not really. But I wish.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

the last 28 hours

Yesterday at 4:30 pm: Sudden, intense, incredibly sharp pain in my left ovary - unlike the dull, throbbing pain from the past couple of weeks. I'd just been helping a coworker set up for an event when it happened. I couldn't breathe. I was doubled over and holding back tears. The pain radiated through my abdomen and chest.

5:30 pm: Clock out time, and I'm still in pain. I decide to head straight to urgent care.

6 pm: Check in at urgent care. They get me right back and (shocker!) insist on a pregnancy test. Negative. The doctor decides to take a chest x-ray of my abdomen. The doc sees a large "sack" stretching from my left ovary up into my chest. She tells me to get to an emergency room. It's possibly the sac is air, and that I have an obstructed bowel.

6:45 pm: Meet Joey at home and head to the hospital.

7:30 pm: At the hospital. Checked in. Let the waiting commence.

8 pm: Waiting.

9 pm: Waiting.

10 pm: Waiting.

Sometime between 10:30 and 11 pm: The hospital staff tells Joey, in his final visit to the registration desk, that they don't know when they can see me. The guy sitting next to the desk, who was brought in about 20-30 minutes after I was via ambulance, tells Joey he was HIT BY A CAR. He's been bleeding in the ER for over two hours and hasn't been seen.

We both tell the ER staff to go fuck themselves and leave.

8 am: After a night of minimal sleep, the pain is slowly improving. Still unconvinced that this is a bowel issue, I decide to call my RE.

11:30 am: The nurse calls me back. I have an appointment for 1:45 pm.

1:45 pm: Vital signs taken. High BP, high pulse, and a fever. RE listens to my bowel signs. Minimal, he says, but he doesn't think that's it either. Time for the ultrasound.

SURPRISE.

Ruptured ovarian cyst. Luckily, I had minimal internal bleeding. Doc's orders: no spicy foods, no greasy foods, and no strenuous activity. I will report to the hospital immediately if my fever increases, if my pain increases, or if I have trouble pooping. (Ha!) I must call tomorrow and give him an update, regardless, and he'll see me back on CD 5, 6, or 7 to see if the fluid is gone . . . and to see if the fluid he saw toward my right ovary is endo related.

Morals of this story? Don't be a jackass like me and ignore your pain. Go with your gut instinct. And, if you live in Orlando, never go to Florida Hospital East.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

hostile uterus

These are the words that Meredith Grey said over and over again during last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy.

I knew I'd hate how they would handle their bandwagon-jumping infertility subplot. I knew it before this season began. In the final episode of last season, Meredith finds out she's pregnant, then promptly miscarries while Derek undergoes a life-saving surgery after he is shot by a disgruntled widower of a former patient. Did you follow that? In equally dramatic fashion, someone in the OR says, "Meredith, you're bleeding." Because, uh, you know miscarrying always means gushing blood out of your vagina for all to see. Meredith replies, calmly, "I'm having a miscarriage." Because, also, you would know you are having one immediately. And you'd be calm about it. That was that. The season ended.

Obviously, the topic continued into this season, and I told several people after the premiere that I "wouldn't be surprised" if they used the miscarriage as a way to work infertility into the storyline. After all, I'd read somewhere that one of the show's creators experienced IF. Not to mention the fact that IF has become an incredibly popular topic as of late in popular media - books, TV, and movies. So, imagine my lack of surprise when the preview for last week's show displayed Meredith and Derek sitting in an OB's office. Despite the two weeks plus of shows building on my DVR, I skipped right to Grey's, curious to see how they would handle this situation.

At the beginning of the show, we sit inside of Meredith's OB's office when she and Derek learn that she suffers from a hostile uterus. She then parades around the hospital repeating this phrase throughout the episode. The closing scene shows Mere and Derek in bed at the end of the day, and Derek gives a "poetic" speech:

"Here's what we're gonna do. No more doctors, no more labs. You and I, we have a lot of sex. Maybe we make a baby, maybe we don't. Maybe you get Alzheimer's, maybe you don't. Just screw the odds, screw science. Let's just live. Whatever happens, happens. Me and you. Okay?"

Seriously? Let's rewind:

Issue #1: No doctor in his or her right fucking mind would ever tell a patient that she has a hostile uterus. That's not a diagnosis. Hostile cervical mucus, maybe. But not uterus. I'm going to give the writers of this show the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were referring to natural killer cells. Maybe?

Issue #2: If in fact the writers were referring to natural killer cells, this diagnosis would not 1) come at an OB's office or 2) come several months after suffering only one miscarriage. Either the writers skipped a few steps (like, uh, years and other losses) or they have no clue how this process works. I think I'm leaning toward option two.

Issue #3: Who walks around saying, "I have a hostile uterus" as if it's like having a migraine or a backache? Meredith is incredibly blase about the entire thing, and so are the rest of the characters. As if it's no big deal. As if it's a joke. Okay, so maybe some people act this way when they are diagnosed. But no one I know. Did any of you react this way?

Issue #4: Derek's monologue at the end has multiple issues. First, this sounds like something a person would say after YEARS of doctor's visits and labs. Not after one appointment earlier that day! It's not a "snap your fingers and it's over" thing. It's a "let's sit down and discuss this and come to a conclusion over some time" thing. Also, can we please NOT stereotype the "whatever happens, happens" bit? I fear how this will end: they let go of the baby dream and magically get pregnant. I get enough of that bullshit fairytale in my personal life. Can Grey's not make it any worse? The last thing any of us in this community need is, "Well, it happened for Meredith and Derek . . ."

Wake up and smell the roses, writers. This isn't how infertility works, and you clearly didn't do your research. What you are doing is perpetuating rumors and putting new, false information into the world about the ALI community - as if we didn't have enough of that going around. Rather than pulling shit out of your ass, perhaps you could have done a little Web browsing, read some blogs, and talked to a fertility doctor. Find out what it's like to go through something like this.

Instead, you've just made your show even more of a joke than it already is for a community of people who are tired of being the punchline.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

bzzzz...

Here it is, folks: a real, live blog post. Something I've been trying to do for nearly two weeks, but life keeps getting in the way.

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. First, I left my job. My last day was on Tuesday, October 5. I took off Wednesday through Friday of that week. Luckily, Joey had off that Wednesday and had a doctor's appointment on Friday - we were able to spend two fun days together, aside from the weekend. I caught up on schoolwork, shopped for new work clothes, spent time with friends, and shared quality time with Danica.

I started my new job on Monday, October 11. So far, I like it a lot. I enjoy going to work, and the people I work with are wonderful. Everyone is so nice and helpful. I'll be busy for a while - a lot of what's on my plate is clean-up duty. This position hasn't been filled in quite some time, and there is catching up to do. It's good, though. The work isn't stressful, I love learning new things, and it makes the days go by fast.

Outside of work? Well, that's a different story. It's not only fast, but it's also incredibly stressful. I had my big midterm due yesterday, and next week I have three more papers due: one on Sunday, one on Monday, and one on Wednesday. This weekend didn't help me catch up, either. We had a trip planned to Atlanta to see my brother. Despite all of the schoolwork on my plate, we had a great time. We watched Georgia Tech beat Middle Tennessee State, and my brother gave us a tour of the campus. Joey and my mom had been there before, but this was my first time. It's crazy to me that a school can exist in the middle of a major city the way GT does.

Everything else is on the back burner. It's not just blogging. My DVR list is filling quickly, and my floors are collecting dust. I think things should be better after this weekend. Does anyone have a few extra non-working hours in the day to spare? I could certainly use them. I'm a busy bee.

Friday, October 15, 2010

october 15

October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 

Visit www.iamtheface.org to learn more about resources for women and families. And please take a moment to remember the 2,000 babies whose hearts will stop beating today as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death.

To the moms in this community who have lost their babies: You, especially, are in my heart on this day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

it's just me

I'm here. 
I'm good.
I enjoyed my time off.
I enjoyed my first day of the new job.
My left ovary hurts fucking bad.
My acupuncturist can't fix it.
I'm bad at commenting and blogging.
I'm going to continue to be bad at commenting and blogging: 
Because I have an 8,000 word midterm this week.
But I'm reading when I can. 
I'll post when I can.
I'm not gone for good.

Promise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

dreams in reality

When I was in college, I had this idea in my head that I would go off to New York City and be a big-shot editor in the publishing industry. My first step was to get a job at a top publishing house out of college. I did that. Granted, it wasn't in the division or city I'd hoped for, but it was still with one of the big six. I would stay there and work my way to the top before leaving to become a full-time writer and compose my first best-selling novel. (I had a large imagination in college.)

Then, I was diagnosed with infertility.

Something changed that day and in the weeks and months that followed. I realized work wasn't everything, and being on top of the world was not going to stop me from wanting a baby. No amount of power in my job would heal the pain in my heart or in my womb. I knew that I wasn't cut out to be top dog. And I wasn't cut out to write fiction. Every time I sat down to write, all I could think about was my empty uterus.

I became a different person through the infertility process, and slowly, I began to realize my true dream: motherhood. Gone are the grandiose images of me walking the streets of New York, manuscript in hand. In its place are dreams of me working at a university or a museum or a library and coming home to the words, "Hi, mom."

So, today, I say good-bye to my past. I say good-bye to publishing - at least for now. I say good-bye to the girl who wanted to be an editor and best-selling novelist. I say hello to the woman who still wants to work, but who also wants to raise a child . . .  and write a book about infertility. Okay, so maybe the big imagination part of me is still the same. But being on top of the world has changed. Because I know there aren't bestselling books and a corporate career waiting for me. Instead, it's a baby.

And I'll do whatever it takes to get to that peak.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

wake me up when 2010 ends

Today is October 2, 2010. There are 90 days remaining in the year 2010.

You begin the year by saying, "This is it. This is the year I'm going to beat IF." You resolve that this is the year you will get pregnant. This is the year you will end the roller coaster. This may even be the year you bring your baby home.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it's all gone. Another year and still an empty womb.

I remember standing in my mom's kitchen, champagne in hand. I toasted my mom and my husband, and I watched the ball drop in Times Square through misty eyes. This will be the year, I thought.

It wasn't.

I tried. I tried to be positive. I tried to be hopeful. I tried surgery. I tried new drugs. I tried a new doctor. I tried to fight.

Then, with nearly half the year under my belt, I boarded a plane to New York and left my hopes and dreams sitting in an airport bathroom at Orlando International Airport. I'd had enough. I threw in the towel. Maybe I was a stupid, fucking quitter. Or maybe this was the step I needed to save my sanity.

Some days, I'm still unsure.

There are 90 days left before the New Year, and though I'm willing to say that this year was a little better than last, I'm still eager to give 2010 to finger - gone are my dreams, gone is part of my breast, and gone is yet another piece of my heart that I fear I'll never recover.

I hope that these next 90 days fly by. The less time spent enduring commercials about baby's first Christmas and another holiday season as the lonely infertile, the better off I will be. Because at the end, on day #90, I can plaster a genuine smile across my face, raise my glass, regain my confidence, and say, "Fuck you, infertility. THIS will be the year I get my miracle."

And maybe this time, I'll be right.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

seven

Seven years ago today, my life changed forever.

I was an innocent freshman in college. I stood at the entrance of my dorm on a warm September evening, and I smiled as Joey walked toward me. I'll never forget that moment, the moment of our first kiss. I didn't want to let go when I hugged him. I held him close, and I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with this man. We would experience wonderful times together - birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, family trips, vacations, weddings - and I would cherish each of them, especially when things got ugly.

And they did. I knew our relationship wouldn't always be a fairy tale. I knew there would be disappointment and heartache. Of course, nothing could have prepared me for the loss of our hopes and dreams of adding to our family and sharing our love for each other with a child. In seven years, I grew from a naive and playful 18-year-old girl to hardened, jaded 25-year-old woman. The playful is still deep inside. I know it is. Joey is the person who brings it out in me. It gets easier by the day to let it out of its cage, but I know that I will never be the same girl I was seven years ago.

But I also know that, for what has changed in the last seven years, one thing remains constant. Despite the hell of infertility, we are still standing. We are still in love.

I may never see what this love can create in a biological child. I may never share the experience of parenthood with the man I love. I may never hear my son or daughter say the word "dad." I may never see him walk our little girl down the aisle or watch him play catch in the backyard with our son. But I will always look at him and see the man walking toward me on that September night. I will always look at him and see the man who stole my heart. I will always look at him and see the man who has dried all of my childless tears.

And I will always look at him and see my happiness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

cycle #30

I appreciate the continued discussion, and - for the most part - civilized behavior of everyone involved in the debate about IVF in relation to the "a" word. That's all I will say here about it. There's no need for me to beat a horse that is already dead.

Moving forward.

AF arrived in full force yesterday after two full days of spotting. I'm paying the price for missing acupuncture this month, because she showed up with a raging headache, cramps, and enough bloat to float me to Cuba. I made an acu appointment for Thursday, so hopefully that helps. The weekends in October will be less crazed, so I'll be able to fit in some appointments. With school, work, and driving to Gainesville every weekend for football games, my free time is limited these days.

Joey and I also had our first "what's next?" discussion since deciding to break away from treatments four months ago:

January 2011: Yearly pap / follow up with the breast lump issue. This will be with a new gynecologist, since the one I saw this year has since relocated to the Panhandle. I may or may not ask for blood work at this appointment. I haven't had my FSH tested since early 2009, and I'd like to see where it's at now.

Summer 2011: If we don't see any results from the acu or if I do get b/w done in January and it comes back looking not so hot, we'll go back to the RE for follow up tests - most importantly, an SA for Joey and an u/s for me.

We want to make sure that, in a year, nothing has progressed to a breaking point. If it has, we'll reconsider IVF or maybe doing more IUIs. I don't know, and I'm not going to make plans until we get to that point. It's a strange struggle for me: loving the freedom of no appointments and the way my body feels off of medication, but desperately wanting to know what's going on inside of us and hoping that things aren't taking a drastic turn for the worse.

One step at a time. That's all I can manage.

Friday, September 24, 2010

the "a" word

Thank you all so much for the wonderful congratulations about my new job AND for letting me stand on my advocacy soapbox for a couple of days. I was hoping to write a lighthearted post today, but instead I decided to move from the soapbox to the snake pit. I have a feeling this post may get me into a little bit of trouble, but I can't ignore it. I have to discuss it.

Yesterday, my lovely blog friend Amanda posted a link to a controversial blog post comparing IVF to ab-or-tion. In it, and in the comments, ideas were thrown around about IVF-ers being murderers and IVF not being done out of love. There's no other word to describe the way this made me feel other than sick. I'm not going to link to the blog. The blog owner made it private this morning. Even if she hadn't, I don't think I want to encourage any more debate or frustration than I did myself by going over there and inserting my two cents.

I realize that everyone has differing opinions on the "a" word and religion, and that they are more than welcome to post those ideas on a blog or Web site. That's one thing. But it's an entirely different thing to accuse people of murder, people who don't necessarily practice your religion OR share the same radical beliefs about the religion as you do. I've posted this before, but I was born and raised in a very strict Catholic household, and I have never seen the kind of judgment that I witnessed yesterday - particularly in the comments.

I'm also appalled by the way they (in my opinion) twisted and bended the rules of the Church to fit their own, personal scenarios, while at the same time damning others for their methods of action against infertility. The blog owner admitted to using medication to induce ovulation yet criticized couples using IVF because it interfered with God's will. One commenter admitted to using a condom to collect her husband's specimen, but when I questioned her about the Church's stance on using contraceptives, she quickly replied that they would poke a hole in the condom allowing "life to flow through." Forgive me, but a condom is still a condom, no matter how you manipulate it.

As I posted in one of my comments yesterday, I believe that if you are going to argue religion as a reason for or against fertility treatments, it has to be all or nothing. Either you do something to interfere with God's will, or you don't. By ingesting hormones and other supplements, I believe that the original poster interfered with God's will. Whether she wants to believe that or not, that's her issue. But you can't "half ass" infertility treatments in that way. At least that's my take on it.

So, I'll ask all of you: What do you think? Do you think that IVF is comparable to the "a" word? Why or why not? I'm not trying to get into a political or religious debate here, or create more hatred, or piss people off. I just think this is a legitimate issue in the IF community, and I'd like to hear people's thoughts on it. I promise not to delete or censor any comments if everyone promises in return to keep it civilized.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

why we should share (part 2)

It’s a sticky subject: to tell or not to tell. But this is the battle every infertile couple must face at some point in their journey, and it’s something I thought about a lot this week since my experience at the conference.

Believe me when I say that I understand the fears involved with coming out of the infertility closet. Some of you mentioned them yesterday in your comments. Joey and I made the decision to tell after our initial diagnosis in February 2009. Or, I guess I should say that I made the decision to tell, not Joey. He was less enthusiastic about sharing the details of our current and future struggle to our friends and family members. Looking back, it makes sense. It was (and is) like opening the door to your bedroom - a place that is supposed to be private and intimate - and letting everyone you know inside.

To me, letting people into my bedroom was easier than building a bulletproof door. Realistically, I knew it could take months or even years for us to resolve our infertility, and I didn’t want to spend that time in hiding. I’m a horrible liar, and if I didn’t tell people the truth about what was going on, I knew it would only make things worse. As our marriage went on, our friends and family members would continue to (or be more likely to) ask us questions about having children. Telling them what was going on from the beginning would more than likely curb those curiosities.

It did, but it didn’t stop the stupid comments from some, and it didn’t stop others from avoiding me like the plague and refusing to speak to me altogether. I’ve blogged numerous times about the hurtful comments I’ve received, some from very close friends and family, and I will never forget those words. More than that, I’ll never forget the SILENCE of some. I think situations where people refuse(d) to speak to me about what we go through hurt more than the inconsiderate, unintelligent comments. But I do forgive, because people don’t know better. And people don’t know better because infertility is not talked about.

Sharing is not only about turning other infertile couples on to professional resources. Sharing also involves sharing yourself and your story. I’m not saying it’s easy. None of this is easy. It can be incredibly painful to repeat the details (or even the vague summary) of your personal reproductive story. Do I enjoy telling people I can’t conceive? No. It’s not fun for me to talk about how many IUIs have failed, how difficult it is for me to get out of bed every morning, or how I’ve had complete emotional breakdowns just walking past the baby aisle in a grocery store.

But telling others about infertility helps the people who are going through it. It also helps to set the record straight. I want people to know that the reason my husband and I can’t get pregnant is NOT because we don’t relax. Trust me: I have at least one glass of wine a night, take bubble baths, go out to dinner, and plan more vacations (even just weekend getaways) than most of my girlfriends. This has nothing to do with relaxation. It has everything to do with biology. Infertility is a physical disease that brings with it mental and emotional heartbreak.

So I talk. I talk to the point where I’m sure some people would like to tell me to shut the fuck up. But I talk in hopes that I stop the rumors and the misinformation. I talk in hopes that someone is listening and, whether they say so privately or publicly, and will admit they have trouble too. I talk because I want that person who tells his or her child or friend to “relax” that he or she is wrong. I know what I’m going through right now, what I have been through, and what I will continue to go through until my infertility is resolved. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through the same thing.

Two days ago, I went out to lunch with a group of coworkers. A woman in the group spent 20 minutes talking about how badly she wanted grandchildren and how she kept asking her son and daughter-in-law, “What are you waiting for?” Another woman jumped in and said something about how women can have babies now at older ages - fertility doesn’t end when you’re 40. This is what we have to stop, and what we can stop. If we stop the silence, we can stop the rumors. If we stop the silence, maybe we can make the people around us more empathetic to our journeys. If we stop the silence, maybe we can make the pain for one couple just a little bit more bearable.

You might be asking yourself about that husband, who at the beginning felt uncomfortable sharing our story? Now, I barely recognize the man. He’s the first to tell me not to attend a baby shower, or tell me not to attend a function if I don’t feel up for it. He fights me for speaking time at our Resolve support group meetings. And when people ask him if we have children, he says, “No. We’ve had problems trying to have kids.” He is an advocate for me, just as much as I am an advocate for him.

Let’s be advocates. Let’s no longer assume that people know about infertility. Let’s put an end to the Kate Gosselin and OctoMom stereotypes. Let’s come out of the infertility closet. And let’s stick up for ourselves and each other.