Monday, January 31, 2011

the devil; or, the creator of birth control

Before the weekend, I was ready to write a cheery blog post about looking at the positives to being on birth control:

I know when AF is going to arrive as opposed to wearing a pad around for a week trying to "guess" and ensure that I don't wear any of the evidence on my clothing.

I get a daily reminder from my phone that it's 8 pm and time to take my pill, meaning I also get a daily reminder of when primetime television starts.

I have an excuse to be a bitch...

But I don't want to be a bitch. And that's what I've been for the last week. If I'm not in a rage about something, I'm doing what I did last night: bawling my eyes out into a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. My tears were not to be stopped until my husband turned on Jersey Shore, because there's nothing funnier or more amusing than orange people getting drunk and making idiots of themselves. Only when the episode ended, the tears promptly started again.

My mood swings (hormones) are out of control.

Here's the thing - I have nothing to be sad or angry about. Life is good. School is going well, the weekend was wonderful, and we're made progress on picking out items for the nursery.

I should be happy.

Instead, last night I cried a lake into my husband's shirt and moaned that I don't want to live like this anymore. And despite his best efforts to comfort me and keep me sane, I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't want to live like this anymore either.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

it's all i can write

Each of us have felt this at some point during our journey - the feeling of being outside of a circle and not knowing how to sympathize or respond. A string of pregnancy announcements comes along while we are dealing with a failed cycle. A few of our friends are experiencing losses on the same week we find out the gender of our baby. It happens to all of us.

I am grateful to those of you who, despite achieving pregnancy or becoming mothers, have stuck around to support me. But there are some who haven't. In the same sense, there are times when I simply cannot be there for those who are pregnant or new moms, not even so much because it's painful, but because I don't understand. I can't relate to those experiences, so I don't know what to say. Sometimes, the only response I can come up with is nothing. Sometimes, I can only reply "Congratulations on reaching ___ weeks in your pregnancy!" before I sound like an insincere, broken record. (And, for the record, I'm very sincere. It's just all I know to say.)

And it's no ones fault. None of us are to blame, or all of us are to blame. We all do it. We don't comment on a blog post about a difficult pregnancy or reach out to someone going through a tough time with their child because how can we relate? We don't offer words of encouragement to someone still battling with infertility because we have survivors guilt. We do all of these things to protect ourselves and one another.

But in the end, are we only causing more pain?

Monday, January 24, 2011

baby snatchers

(If you're looking for the update on my doctor's appointment, click here.)

This morning, Ann Pettway appeared in federal courtroom and confessed to kidnapping Carlina White some 23 years ago from a New York hospital.

You've heard the story by now - daughter doesn't think she belonged to her mother, daughter does a Google search for missing children, daughter finds her baby picture and is reunited with her parents after decades apart.

The story of set off red flags for me the moment I heard it and the moment the media began to speculate as to why Pettway took this baby from that Harlem hospital back in 1987. Today, the speculation ended when Pettway revealed why she took Carlina: after suffering several miscarriages, she grew frustrated with her inability to stay pregnant. So, she took Carlina out of her hospital crib, brought her home, and raised her as her own daughter.

Almost every comment posted on every article on every media outlet exemplified my concern and fear over this story: my fear of ignorance.

"A determined/ desperate person will find a way to get an infant if they want. This was by far, not the first, and probably not the last incident of a newborn being abducted."

"i always thought that if one was unable to conceive a child on their own, that normally reasonable people adopt a child. obviously, this woman was not reasonable."

"She's full of it! So since im never gonna be rich I should just go rob a bank then? There is such a thing as adoption which would be an option if SHE was really worried about not having any children of her own. But nobody in their right mind would let her adopt because she is a mental case and most likely on drugs."

"From the pictures she looks like she might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which makes conception/pregnancy difficult or in some cases impossible."

"really, we're going to blame her behavior on emotions after miscarriages? Was she having those chemical imbalances and emotional issues for 23 years?"

It was only a matter of time before the conversation turned to baby snatchers, women DESPERATE to be moms, infertile nuts, etc. Because that's what we are, right? Crazies. Women who dress as nurses and lurk in hospitals, just waiting for the opportunity to take your baby and run.

This woman, Ann Pettway. I don't know her, but from what I read, it sounds like she had a lot of issues. Drugs, alcohol, mental illness. Combine these things with the emotional trauma suffered from infertility and repeat loss, and it creates a recipe for disaster. What she did was against the law, yes. But what she did is not the mentality of every woman in this country who cannot have children or have lost their children. We are not all paranoid freaks. We are not all baby stealers. We want to be moms, yes, but not like this.

My post isn't meant to elicit sympathy for Pettway. She kidnapped a baby that was not hers, and as a result caused a lifetime of pain for the White family. I cannot begin to imagine the heartache that the White family went through these past 23 years. I am sad for them, that they were forced to miss 23 years of Carlina's life.

Yet, I am also sad for those people who left comments like the ones above. Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hatred. Can we not go down the road of railing on the women who have nothing to do with this situation? In a world where we are eager to place the blame on something or someone, we shouldn't be so quick to place the blame of all kidnapped babies on those women who have lost or desire motherhood. Perhaps, instead of focusing on the hate and the blame, we can educate ourselves on miscarriage and repeat loss, on mental illness and drug addiction. Perhaps, instead of focusing on anger, we can focus on the happy reunion between a girl and her family.

Perhaps I am asking too much. Because I know this story will fade into the background and we will have discussed none of those things. Instead, we'll just be more angry and ignorant about a group of women who are already so misconceived.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

trimming the branches

Today I picked up my birth control pills.

Like millions of other women in America, I brought them home, put the card of 28 pills in its blue sleeve, and tucked it away for safe keeping until my period arrives later this week.

The last time I was on birth control was in college, and I had a complex migraine. Basically, a complex migraine has every symptom of a stroke. This was not something that happened to me overnight. I'd been having intense headaches for months and one day my body just had enough. I was at work, and I began speaking incoherently and slurring my speech. I lost some of my hearing and my feeling on one side of my body. A friend took me to the emergency room. Thankfully, I went to a school with one of the best teaching hospitals in the country. Within an hour or two, I was looking up at a couple of children's neurologists who wanted to know anything and everything about my history on birth control. They attributed my symptoms to the high levels of estrogen in the particular pill I was taking, and I went off it immediately. Six months on anti-seizure medication straightened me out pretty well, and I swore off birth control for the rest of my life.

But when I sat in the RE's office on Wednesday and stared at the blood clot-like growth on my left ovary, and I heard the doctor tell me that - once again - he did not know what was causing this, I had a feeling that my lifelong ban of hormone pills was coming to an end.

He essentially gave me two options, neither of which are guaranteed to make my left ovary stop whatever it's doing:

lupron, birth control, or nothing

Trying nothing meant that I was giving in, and that wasn't what I wanted to do. I didn't want to give in. I wanted to try anything and everything to make it stop. So, I agreed to birth control - progesterone-only, so that we don't run the risk of putting me back into the hospital with any other freak ailments. We try this for six months, and we "see what happens."

Wednesday was the first time I cried in my REs office. Ever. My mood only got lower on Thursday and Friday. I tried calling clinic after clinic for second opinions. No one even wanted to see me. No one wanted to support me. I disappeared off Twitter and Facebook and into a deep, dark sadness that I didn't know how to deal with. No one understood. No one cared.

Today, aside from what I'm pretty sure is a bout of food poisoning, I'm a tiny bit better. Tomorrow I will start calling ob-gyns in hopes that one will take a chance on me and review my records. One in particular seems promising. And this week I will start my period and pop my first dose of Micronor. I'm not happy about it. To be perfectly honest, I think this is simply prolonging the inevitable. My left ovary, we've all determined, does not function normally.

Birth control may even me out temporarily, but eventually, all dead branches must be cut from the tree. It's the only way to help the rest of the tree heal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the neverending story

Tomorrow is my WTF appointment with my RE. Not, WTF/why did IVF not work. Not, WTF/why can I not get pregnant. Rather, WTF/what can we do to stop these cysts and my pain.

I'm curious to see what he says, not only about a solution to the problem, but also about our decision to adopt and forgo any further fertility treatments at this time.

Like the OCD freak I am, I have a list of what I want to say composed and sitting in my e-mail inbox. I've debated back and forth about posting it here, but I think I'll just wait and post what he says tomorrow. What's more waiting, right?

26.5 hours and counting...

Monday, January 17, 2011

what's the deal, yo?

Something has been bothering me. I finally, after consulting with a couple of close IF ladies, have decided to write about it... mostly because I want answers!

Without further discussion, here it goes:

WHAT on EARTH is the obsession in the IF community with shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant?

Don't get me wrong: I watch some trashy TV. I'm admittedly in love with shows like The Bachelor and Gossip Girl. But I've never been able to understand the infatuation with Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant - by the very same women who get irritated when 16 year olds have babies while they can't. (This is the exact reason why I can't watch these shows. They infuriate me.)

So, please. Can someone enlighten me on this? I'm in no way, shape, or form trying to judge. I just would love some insight as to why you watch.

Now excuse me while I go look for the latest episode recap from Jersey Shore...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

bitter and better

Yesterday, a good friend of mine tweeted about the birth of her nephew. Welcoming babies into our lives is difficult at any given time, but it's especially difficult when it's family or close friends. You've likely already endured months in close proximity to a pregnant belly, and you can escape no conversation without someone mentioning the child-to-be. So when the baby is born, it becomes a bittersweet moment. While you are excited for your family member or friend, you are struggling with your own feelings: sadness, jealousy, loneliness, anger, fear, grief, etc.

These feelings are normal, and each of us deals with them in our own way. I think it's safe to say that not one of us is proud to feel these things. They are difficult - and shameful - to admit. But we tell our support group because we know they won't judge. We tell them because it's a safe outlet.

So when this friend posted a few tweets that reflected her struggle with the birth of her new nephew, she was looking for support. Instead, one person in particular chose to respond negatively. She accused her of acting like a bitch, and stated several times that she never felt that way about the babies in her life.

I admire people like her. I do. The ability to feel no jealousy is more than I can give myself credit for. I know many of you out there feel the same way. It's not a constant state. It is also without harm. All of us love the babies in our lives. It's just... hard. It's hard not to look at that child and be reminded of what you want, what you don't have, or (worse) what you've lost. Every milestone that child reaches can bring on a wave of different emotions - each different for every person and sometimes different for every occasion. Not everyone can push those feelings aside and be perfectly happy and content. Some of us simply aren't built that way.

What I'm saying is this: don't feel sorry for your emotions. It's something I've had to remind myself of constantly - especially in these last few months as I mourn the loss of my fertility and try to leave it behind as we move down the path toward the adoption. It's impossible to be happy all of the time. It's also worse to ignore those feelings and not share them with others. Leaving them bottled inside of you causes more pain and anguish. Besides, that's what we are all (supposed to be) here for: to support one another during those days when we wish we didn't feel the way that we do.

It's okay to be a bitter bitch some days. We've all been there. The comfort of it is knowing that it won't last - and knowing that you are not alone.


On Sunday, I received a pregnancy announcement from a great friend of mine, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn't feel bitter. It wasn't a surprise. There wasn't an ultrasound or pee-stick photo waiting to greet me. It was simple, well written, and sympathetic:

Katie --

I wish I knew the perfect way to tell you this news, but I don’t. I am 13 weeks pregnant. ____ and I are both very excited.

I wanted you to hear it from me. If you don’t want to talk about it, I understand. Please know that I love you and care about you.

I think this year will also make you and Joey parents -- you're already getting things ready :)

It was the perfect pregnancy announcement. I hope that she doesn't mine me sharing it here (I removed the names for privacy purposes), but I think it's important to recognize that there are people who get it. And those are the people who make going through this hell a whole lot easier.

Monday, January 10, 2011

this is me saying, "fuck it"

While I'd like to believe that the intense pains that have radiated through my left ovary this weekend are ovulation pains, I know that they are too sharp/strong. I also know that ovulation pains shouldn't cause you to double over, burst into tears, and be unable to walk because you are struggling to breathe.

So this morning, I broke down and called the doctor. I calmly explained to the nurse that no, these were not normal ovulation pains as I rarely ovulate on my own. Then, I asked for a consult with my doctor on a date that my husband could attend (we settled on next Wednesday at 2 pm). Because I've had enough. I'm not going to be a pussy anymore. I'm taking back control. Who gives a shit if I'm not there to get pregnant? Someone needs to take me seriously. And if my doctor won't, I'll go to anyone who will listen. I'll travel to Gainesville or Tampa or Miami and see an RE who will listen to me.

I'm not crazy. But I will be if someone doesn't give me a solution.

Friday, January 7, 2011

little voices we love to hate

One of my favorite bloggers, Em, is back from a long hiatus. I am so happy to see her blogging again, and I particularly enjoyed her post yesterday about her "little voice." (And I hope she doesn't mind me posting about it.)

We all have it. It's the voice that tells us we aren't good enough. Aren't beautiful enough. Aren't in shape enough. Aren't a good enough wife. daughter. mother. sister. girlfriend. partner. It's the voice we hate, yet we listen to so often.

Em's post struck a chord with me because I've been struggling with my little voice lately. Even last night I tweeted about my desire to have an off button on my brain. A switch that I could flip when the thoughts in my head became too jumbled and loud to ignore. Of course, all of those thoughts are from my little voice:

You'll be a terrible mother.
God hates you.
Pretty soon, you'll be the only infertile left.
Who would ever give you a kid?
No one cares.
You don't deserve to have a baby.

And, much like everyone else's little voice, it's not just about infertility. It's about everything from work to school to my marriage to friendships and relationships with family members. It's the way I look, and the way people look at me.

My little voice harps on nearly every aspect of my life.

Yet I find it nearly impossible to talk back to my voice and stand up for myself - the reason why I so desperately seek an off button. And as we enter our fourth calendar year dealing with infertility, the voice only seems more prominent and difficult to drown out.

My hope for this year was to live, to stay positive about life and enjoy the ride. But how can I do this with my little voice being not so little anymore? How can I push the shouting in my head aside and keep going? I need to figure out the answers to these questions for my sanity. I need to figure out the answers so that I don't slip back below the surface.

In the meantime, I just sit here and listen to that little voice growing in one ear and the silence of my real voice in another.

It's almost impossible to bear.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

moving forward

I'm better today.


I just needed to get that out. And I needed to disable comments because I already feel guilty enough. I didn't need anyone agreeing that I am a horrible person to make me feel even more terrible that I already do.


I'm almost finished with my first book on adoption. PCOSChick sent me several books before the new year, and the first one I chose to read was A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents. It's a great book - incredibly honest and moving. It doesn't paint adoption as a perfect picture, which I love (because I know it's not perfect), but it also doesn't focus only on the negatives. Right now, I need a good balance of both.

Some of you have asked when we plan to start the paperwork process. Joey and I sat down and discussed it, and we agreed on August. If it were up to me, I'd probably start things right away, but Joey wanted to wait until the end of the year. So, we compromised - because that's what relationships are all about, right? :) Even though a true compromise would have been JUNE, I think August will work just fine since we'll be in between the summer and fall semesters.

This past weekend, we started our quest for nursery furniture and theme ideas. I've been looking at baby bedding for months, and, honestly, most of it is hideous unless you pay a ton of money. I have a feeling we'll end up with very plain bedding because I can't stand the busy patterns. But, in positive news, we decided on a nursery theme. Or should I say that Joey decided on a nursery theme, and I think it's too cute to pass up - since it involves my absolute favorite animal - next to dogs, of course: pandas!

So there it is: me being positive. That's good, right? I can be positive. Are you getting whiplash yet from my mood swings?

I am.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the ugly side of me

I sat across the kitchen table from my husband this morning, and I told him I felt lonely and bitter.

I don't want to feel this way, but I do. I thought these feelings would go away with the passing of the holiday season, but they didn't. I thought that saying it aloud would make me feel better.

But it doesn't. It just makes me feel like a bitch.

With every pregnancy announcement, every passing cycle, these emotions get stronger. I feel like the outsider looking into a circle filled with women who have moved on. I feel pissed off because I'm still here. I wonder who will be left to support me when I do finally resolve this. I wonder why people think it's okay to tell me how tired and miserable they are because they are pregnant. I wonder if it's possible to be happy for someone and yet hate that you aren't in their shoes at the same time.

I have nothing left to give, and yet I keep trying to be the happiest, most supportive person I can be. The well is dry, and yet I find a way to reach down and find a smile. Half of me. While the other half is miserable and asks, "Why not me? What did I ever do to deserve this?"

Then I think what a fucking terrible person I am for thinking those things.

And I don't blame you for thinking the same.

Monday, January 3, 2011

three days in

2011 has gotten off to a decent start.

I'm finally getting over the virus that's plagued me since the day after Christmas. I wasn't a fan of spending my entire vacation in bed last week, but on the bright side it meant not having to take time off of work with no pay, since I haven't earned sick days yet. I'm still a bit "snotty" and my lymph nodes are a little sore, but I think I'll be back to 100% this week. I haven't been down and out like that in a long time.

Saturday, my first day out of bed for more than half the day, was project day at our house. We finally finished up some decorating - purchasing artwork for downstairs, our bedroom, and the guest room - and we bought a cabinet for the dining room to serve as much-needed storage. I didn't want people to be able to see inside of the cabinet, so we stole an idea from IKEA and placed fabric inside of it. I'll post pictures of some of the other home decor changes later this week.

After a long break from school and ten days off from work, it's back to the grind this week. Joey and I both went back to work today, I start classes tomorrow night, and Joey starts his classes next Monday night. Between the two of us, we're facing 80 work hours a week and 21 credit hours this semester. On Tuesday nights alone, I'll be in class from 6 pm - 10 pm (and did I mention I don't get home from work until 6 pm?). We've made a vow that we absolutely have to be patient with one another from now until the break between spring and summer. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be hard.

But I know we are doing the right thing to try and get ready for what's to come. :)