Friday, July 29, 2011

it's here

The month of July was a whirlwind.

I honestly thought I would have more time to blog, but it didn't work out that way. Schoolwork kept piling up. Work obligations. My boss's death. The Hope award. It all kind of melded together to make one messy month.

I'm happy it's ending. There were good moments but ultimately, July felt like torture.

August will be better. August will be the three-week break between a brutal summer semester and a MUCH easier fall course load. August will be birthday parties, a casino cruise with friends, the beach, getting ready for New York, etc.

But most importantly, August will be wrapping up the homestudy paperwork.

August will be the beginning of the end.

I hope.

Monday, July 25, 2011

when depression hurts

Since I've been blogging about this journey, I've encountered a number of women who are battling with depression and anxiety alongside their infertility.

I was barely 18 when I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, and I started counseling and medication shortly after. I continued with both forms of treatment through college, then stopped, then started again not too long after the infertility diagnosis. I tried seeing a counselor here not too long ago - late last year? - about everything, but I didn't like her. I've been on pretty much every depression/anxiety medication in my life, but I didn't like the way any of them made me feel.

Nothing, for the record. They made me feel nothing, which is not fun. I like to feel some emotion. Not crying at a funeral is what made me swear off antidepressants forever.

This doesn't mean that I'm okay now. In fact, much like infertility, I'm not sure there is a "cure" when you are diagnosed with depression. You learn to live your life knowing that there are days or weeks or even months where you will go through a down time. You learn ways to cope. You force yourself to get out of bed in the mornings, even though the last thing you want to do is face the world. It's a daily, internal battle - at least for me. I go through periods when I'm fine, and then I'll be down for a while. The comfort is knowing that I'll feel better again soon. I always do.

Combining depression with fertility issues is a recipe for disaster. A doctor telling you that your body doesn't work the way it's supposed to is devastating when you already struggle with your self-image. To make matters worse, it's bringing together two medical issues that the general population already has a difficult time understanding. Can't get pregnant? Take a vacation/it's nature's way of controlling the population/infertility isn't a "real" disease. Feeling depressed? Go see a movie/Everyone gets sad sometimes . . . get over it/Depression isn't a "real" disease.

Then there are the hormones. As if you don't have a hard enough time controlling your emotions with depression, this task becomes nearly impossible when you're popping pills and injecting yourself with HCG and progesterone and estrogen and Lupron and god knows what else is out there. You might be crying one minute, laughing the next, and throwing things right after that. I know, because I've been there.

It's a problem - how to cope with both simultaneously. There are only so many books you can read. Medication is fine, for a while, but many aren't safe to take during pregnancy. Support groups don't exist everywhere, and not every counselor knows how to address issues with infertility. Some of us have learned that last point the hard way. What do we do? How do we manage two diseases at once, knowing that neither will have a cure and only one may have a resolution?

I think this is where our community plays such an important role, whether we realize it or not. Yes, it's nice to know that you aren't the only woman in the world whose uterus doesn't work. But it's also nice to know that you aren't the only woman in the world whose uterus doesn't work and who also grapples with the huge emotional consequences that come with it. It doesn't matter if you suffered from depression and anxiety before or after your battle with infertility began. What matters is knowing that you aren't alone and your feelings are validated. What matters is having someone to turn to who will help encourage you to get out of bed in the mornings and to keep fighting.

Do I wish there was more professional support available for those suffering? Yes. I wish all adoption agencies and clinics would provide FREE counseling services? Yes. (I know some do, but not all.) Do I wish there were more support groups and more outreach programs? Yes. But until we have those things, we need to be there for one other. We need to support and encourage. And we need to recognize when someone's depression becomes too much for us to help. It's not simply about being an advocate for changes in legislation or insurance coverage. It's also about being an advocate for our emotional and mental health.

If you need to speak to someone about infertility support, please contact your local RESOLVE HelpLine.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

MRI results

Good news first: I don't have a tumor on my pituitary gland.

(YAY!)

He did another ultrasound. No growths on either ovary. I've lost count of how many clear scans I've now had in a row. Two? Three? Either one is a good number!

My prolactin levels are still elevated, though, so I'm going on Dostinex to lower them. I'm happy he chose this medication because 1) I only need to take it twice a week, and 2) it has less scary side effects than Bromocriptine - specifically nausea. I was worried about that. I start the medication immediately.

Now for the "eh" news.

He's still confused as to why my prolactin levels are suddenly high and he's running more blood work to try and figure it out. I never knew there were so many hormone levels in a person's body to check, but I'm finding out about all sorts of new blood tests. I'm trying to reach a record on how many times I can visit Labcorp in one year. I guess I should be happy. All of my previous doctors would have put me on the medication and stopped trying to figure out "why." It's nice that he's been extra thorough.

And my MRI did show something. It's not related to my pituitary gland. It's my sinuses! Apparently, the radiologist's impression was the I have a "significant sinus disease." So it's off to the ENT I go for a consult sometime in the next month or two to see what's going on. This shouldn't surprise me, since my mom had surgery on her sinuses when she was in her 30s. I'm not even going to rant about my "excitement" of having to go to yet another doctor/specialist. Hopefully this is an easy fix.

Always something, right? :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

spilling the beans

I've been holding in a secret.

Secrets are hard for me to keep. And I don't mean the "we're close friends and let's share this in confidence" kind. I mean the "I have great news and I want to tell the world" kind.

I'm the winner of the 2011 RESOLVE Hope Award for best blog.

I don't know how to thank all of you enough. For the votes. For your constant support, love, and friendship. It means so much to me.

I have a lot more I want to write about this, but the thoughts in my head aren't organized enough to type them out yet. Right now, I just needed to share the news. Keeping this from all of you was HARD! :)

Tomorrow morning is my appointment for my MRI results. I'll update when I can.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

what being a mom means

Lately, I've been trying to think back and reflect on why I wanted to be a mom in the first place. Is it because I thought I would be a good parent? Is it because Joey and I had love to give and share? Why did each of us set out to become mothers?

Somewhere along the way, I learned that, for certain women, being a mom was more than just love and good parenting. It was bragging rights. It was being a part of some elite club of special people who sit at home and wipe poop and vomit all day. It was being able to talk about inappropriate things like sore nipples and c-section scars with others who cared and understood. It was being able to tell people, "You wouldn't understand. You aren't a mom."

I'm not sure where or how or why things become so mixed up along the way. But they do.

I see it start to happen when people get pregnant. Some slowly alienate their non-pregnant friends because they want to surround themselves with people who understand, because nothing could quite possible be more important than carrying a child. Then, when their child is born, it gets worse because they aren't surrounded by adults all day. They are 100 percent occupied with their child. They live, sleep, and breath baby. So, naturally, that's all they have left to talk about. They further cut out the non-moms in their lives because how could someone who has never had children possibly sympathize with them.

I'm not saying that all moms do this. But I see it more often than I'd like.

Being a mom? It's not about being in some stupid little club that makes you cooler than all of your other friends. It's about raising someone to be a productive member of society. Someone who is going to go out into the world one day and put his or her thumbprint on it. Someone who you can share your love, values, dreams, and ideals with. It's about teaching that person what's right and what's wrong. And let me tell you what's wrong. It's wrong to alienate people because they didn't grow and birth a child. Growing and birthing a child does not make you a superhero or super cool, even. It's what comes after that makes you those things. It's everything that comes after - how you raise that child, yes, but also how you manage to maintain yourself after that point. Putting people down in the process because they haven't experienced what you've experienced certainly doesn't set a great example for your children. Particularly if you have a daughter. I know I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking that the only important thing she can do in life is become a mom. Do I?

No. I don't. I've promised myself that I won't become one of those women. I won't get so wrapped up in being a mom that I lose track of who I am or what being a mom means. You know, the REAL important parts.

Like teaching my kids that no one person is more important or more special than the other.

Update:

I think people royally confused a few points on this post that I'd like to clarify:

Having your child become your life is not the problem. The problem is when you lead other people to think they are insignificant in the process. There is nothing wrong with being obsessed with your baby. I know I will be. But when the relationships around you suffer because that's all you can care about or focus on? Yes, I find that to be a problem.

I do realize that the street runs both ways, and that there are instances where childless friends are the ones who back away. I know I've done it in the past. But that's not what I'm upset about, so I'm not going to talk about that in my space. It's not a requirement here that I discuss both sides. That's the beauty of being a blogger: I only have to write about my feelings, not yours.

I also realize that not all moms are this way. I wrote "some" several times. So please, if you took offense to it, take a step back and realize that unless you've had a Facebook status end up on the site STFU, Parents or you've told me lately "You don't get it because your not a mom," I'm probably not writing about you. (And no, I wasn't writing about someone in particular to begin with.)

My final point on this subject is a non-point: I'm not going to address the anonymous comment. I have no interest in engaging in conversation with someone who wants to throw out insults and hide behind their anonymity.

Friday, July 15, 2011

grief is a funny thing

In the days since my boss's death, I've seen grief in every form.

I've seen the people who are business as usual - the ones who grieved on Monday and acted like nothing ever happened on Tuesday. I've seen the people who are do-ers. They go, go, go, and by working extra hard, extra long hours, they push death to the back of their minds. I've seen the talkers. The ones who want to analyze and discuss every aspect of this event, pouring over every detail. I've seen the criers, the comforters, and the angered.

And then, there's me.

I'm fine, and then I'm not. I'm smiling, and then I catch a glimpse of an email, or I look over to my phone and see his phone line still listed, and I break down. I hear someone talk about "what's next," and I have to walk away.

I'm not ready to move on. And I'm learning that it's an interesting dynamic when you lose someone at work. This is the first time someone I've worked so closely with has died, and I'm having to figure a few things out along the way.

The first is that when you mix dozens of people grieving together in a confined area, it's bound to create tension. What someone says or does that pisses me off may not have any impact on my coworkers, but what I say or do might make them equally upset. It's a giant melting pot of different emotions, and they don't mix well together. While many people do respect the different ways we grieve, there are just as many who don't.

The second is that it seems impossible to balance this grief with work. I went and spoke to a grief counselor Wednesday, and we talked for most of the session about this point. Even though I understood that people were dealing with their grief in different ways, the pace at which everything seemed to be moving felt wrong. Disrespectful, even. How do we find a balance between crying constantly and working as if nothing ever happened? Is it possible to work sadly? How do we honor his memory without stopping the processes that must continue?

It's almost too much to handle.

Those of us who worked closely with my boss were offered the chance to take time off. As much as we need. Yet somehow, I chose to stay. Staying and pretending like things were okay felt a tiny bit better than sitting at home sobbing into a bowl of ice cream.

It's what he would have wanted. He was a go getter. He worked as if nothing was wrong up until the day before he passed away. He never told people he had terminal cancer. He never told people that he was in pain, even though those of us closest to him could see it in his face. He just . . . did. Worked. Pushed. Moved forward.

So despite the fact that sometimes it doesn't feel right at times to work, despite the fact that there are times when I need to step in the ladies' room and sob, despite the fact that there are times when I need to go into my other boss's office and hide - even if only for five minutes - and make time stand still, I keep coming. If anything, the best way for me to honor him is to do the same. To work, push, and move forward toward healing. To keep things running just as he'd left them.

Working and grieving. Together. It's a funny thing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the hardest post

I can't believe I'm writing this.

Writing it makes it real. And I don't want it to be real.

My boss is gone. He passed away over the weekend after a short and difficult battle with cancer.

I knew he was sick. But I didn't know that it was this bad. Or rather, I didn't want to think it was this bad. I knew, and I didn't want to believe it.

When I got this job nine months ago, I accepted it largely because of my boss. A friend of mine had worked under him previously, and she told me he's the "best person you will ever work for." From the moment I interviewed with him, I knew she was right.

He spent years in the film and television industry before coming to our school and launching several degree programs. In the last eight years, he's hired and mentored hundreds of faculty members and staff, touched the lives of just as many students, and been the smiling face everyone knows and loves in the hallway.

He was funny, intelligent, and the kind of manager leader you would want to learn from. He had this way of lighting up a room that I can't describe with words. You could be having the worst day in the world, and after just a few minutes of talking with him, he would make it all better. Always positive - even in his final days, when he was weak and he didn't feel well. Always thinking about others. Just days before his death, he sent me flowers at work to thank me for doing such a good job. Always caring and thoughtful. He was always so understanding and accommodating about my doctor's appointments and missed days . . . as he was struggling with his own health.

To say that this is a huge loss is an understatement. The world is missing one incredible light in this man. He was, without a doubt, the nicest person I have ever met. I have no idea where to go from here - how I go from seeing and speaking to him every day to never seeing him again. I have no idea how to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. It's hard to think about, and I'm not sure the full gravity of the situation has hit me yet. Every time I think I'm out of tears, more come out. I keep expecting his call or his email, and it hasn't happened. It won't happen.

I hope that he didn't die alone. I hope that he died surrounded by family who loved him. Most importantly, I hope that he knew how much he was loved by others, by all of us.

If he didn't, I hope he can see it now.

That's all I can write.

Friday, July 8, 2011

friday round-up

I feel like I have one more Casey Anthony post in me, but I promise: after that post, you will not hear anymore about that woman on this blog. Unless she gets pregnant or she's arrested again. (Let's face it. Both of those scenarios are likely.)

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My MRI results are finally with my doctor. I'm not even going to go into the fiasco it was to get the hospital to transfer my records to my doctor's hospital. All I can write is that it baffles me how in 2011 it can still take a week and a half for once piece of paper to travel 100 miles. Unreal. Anyway, RE #3 is on vacation next week, and I already had 7/22 off, so we are headed over there that morning to talk about the plan.

Meanwhile, I already have the results of my latest blood work thanks to United Healthcare. This happens sometimes. They post the results to my health profile online before I get them from my doctor (a tip for those of you who, like me, are impatient as hell when it comes to these things and who have UHC as your insurance provider). FSH was 5.6. LH was 1.9. My FSH levels have actually gone down from 7 something earlier last year - a good thing. My LH levels are a little low, but that's to be expected. Low LH levels means I'm not having a period, obviously since I'm on birth control. It could also mean a pituitary gland disorder, which we already know I have. Either way, both of these seem like good numbers.

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Monday is the last day to vote for the RESOLVE Hope Awards. So seriously: if you haven't done so yet, please click here and go vote for your favorite blog or book.

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I hope everyone has a great weekend. Who has exciting plans? Tell me about them so I can live vicariously through you. (My weekend will consist of schoolwork. Not so exciting.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

reflections on Casey Anthony

Not guilty.

Not guilty.

Not guilty.

I shook listening to the jury acquit Casey Anthony of all charges this afternoon.

HOW? Okay, I know how. Reasonable doubt. The 12 men and women on a jury of her peers did not feel that the evidence was strong enough to convict her of anything tying her to the murder of her daughter - whether accidental or intentional. That's it, and we have to accept that. That's the way our judicial system works.

It's a good thing I wasn't a jury member. We would have had a hung jury. A mistrial. There is no way I could have walked out of that jury room without convicting her of SOMETHING. Maybe not Murder 1. But something. There was no reasonable doubt for me. You don't just have your daughter one day and not have her the next. You don't just lie and drink and party and screw guys and get tattoos when your daughter is missing or killed. You don't unless you are guilty. It's just that simple.

For me, at least.

I'm sad. I'm ashamed. Mostly, I'm just disgusted. There will never be justice. There will never be closure. There will never be a resolution.

It's not fair.

I talk about fairness a lot when it comes to infertility, and this very much relates. It's not fair that a woman can care so little about her own child, murder her, and walk away. It's not fair that while she go free, her daughter is dead. It's not fair that some of us want so badly to be mothers and others will so easily give up that gift.

My heart hurts tonight.

It hurts for the Anthony family. No matter how much you spin it, they are victims in this, too. They will never see that little girl again, and they will never get answers about her death.

Mostly, though, it hurts for Caylee. Here was a little girl who was so innocent and loveable - taken from us far too soon. She never got the chance she deserves. She never got the parenting she deserves. And now we know she will never get the justice she deserves.

I'll end with what I wrote on Facebook after the verdict. As someone who can't have children, it makes me sick to see a mother murder her own child and get away with it. Prison might not be in Casey Anthony's future, but I hope hell is.

what's more waiting?

I'm still waiting for my MRI results. I would like to say that I'm waiting patiently, but even after 3 years of infertility, I'm still the least patient person in the world. You would think I would be used to this by now.

But I'm not.

Speaking of waiting . . .

Last week marked one year since we brought Danica home. While a dog is certainly no replacement for a baby, she certainly filled a void that was missing in our lives. It's not easy raising a puppy, but I can't imagine our lives without her.

Thank you, Danica, for making the wait to become parents a little bit easier to bear!

I promise I will post an update as soon as I hear results.

For now, I just keep waiting.