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 . . .