Book Recommendations

Following the advice of my awesome support group leader, I am gathering as much information as I can about all of my options and listening to my gut feelings as I read.  This will hopefully help me to come to some decisions about where to go from here.

Here are some books that were recommended to me by friends or fellow bloggers that you might also find helpful on your journey:

1. Silent Sorority by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos- I just started this yesterday so I can’t really say too much about it but it is a memoir written by a woman who struggled with infertility for years and decided to live childfree.

2. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos- This was recommended to me by a co-worker/friend of mine and is written by the woman who did My Big Fat Greek Wedding!  This is her journey about going through 13 rounds of IVF (yikes!) and ultimately decided to adopt her daughter through the foster care system.  It is an amazing story and beautifully written…and funny too!  At the end of the book she also has information about different types of adoption.

3. I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home by Lisa Manterfield- This is another memoir written by a woman who struggled for 5 years to have a baby and decided to live childfree.  It is a quick read and really details her struggles not only with infertility but how she overcame her grief over not having a child.  She also has a blog too called Life Without A Baby

4. Sweet Grapes by Jean and Michael Carter- This is a book written by a couple who struggled with infertility and decided to live childfree.  In the book they focus more on the process that they had to go through to really accept and mourn the loss of not having their own child rather than living childfree.  This is a really important step to go through on this journey regardless of what options you choose after that.  For this couple they chose to live childfree but they also include chapters about couples who have gone onto other options such as adoption, donor eggs, etc.

5. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson- This is NOT a book about infertility although the writer does have some struggles that she mentions in the book.  It is a memoir written about her life and it is HILARIOUS!  So I would recommend this book if you are looking for a break from all of the infertility crap and really just want to laugh because we all you could use that every now and then!

One of the reasons I started this blog was not only to get out my own crazy thoughts but to connect with and support others.  If just one person reads my blog and feels less alone or finds some helpful information or advice than one of my goals has been met.  Please feel free to share any books, websites, etc. that you have found to be helpful:)

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Infertility…you are a big bitch!

For the past few days I have been feeling a little cranky…correction a LOT cranky.  I knew Aunt Flo’s visit was coming soon even though there is always that “maybe” she won’t come hope but I knew she was about to arrive with her cramps, bloating and wanting to eat everything that isn’t nailed down.  I tried to tell myself that either way I will be fine.  If she doesn’t come then obviously that’s good but if she does then at least I can go on vacation without worrying about being pregnant.  And I can drink all the wine I want.  Well she finally showed up this morning which then led my emotions to spiral into a variety of different feelings.  I finally settled in on just feeling plain pissed off.

Last week, I posted about the 10 things I have learned by going through infertility.  Well this week, I just want to say F*** You Infertility!  You are a nasty bitch!  Maybe I am finally moving into the second stage of loss and grief: anger.

This is my Top 10 List of What I Hate About Infertility:

1.  All consuming- I hate that infertility consumes my thoughts even when I don’t want to think about it.  One minute you are fine and then the next you feel like you are being swallowed up whole.  I hate that it has consumed the past two and a half years of my life.

2.  Roller Coaster Ride- I NEVER liked roller coasters and now I am on what feels like a never ending ride.  I hate that I can feel 20 different emotions in the span of an hour.  I hate that in one month I go from being hopeful to being disappointed and then it all starts back up again for the next 28 days.

3.  Jealousy- I hate that I feel jealous of other people with children or people who are pregnant.  Sometimes I am even jealous of my husband who already got to experience having his girls.

4.  Isolation- I hate that infertility makes you feel so very alone.

5. Hormones- I hate that I have to inject myself with hormones to try to have a baby when my body should just do that on it’s own.  You feel 10 times worse on them and some of them even mimick pregnancy symptoms!  Just cruel.

6.  Decisions- I hate that I have to make so many decisions just to have a baby.  The really hard decisions like if we do IVF and have more than one embryo, what do we do with the rest?  If we do chromosomal embryo screening and one comes back with Down’s Syndrome what do we do?   If we can’t have a baby of our own then what do we do?

7.  Crying- I hate that I cry so much.  I hate that even if I am not actually crying that I am fighting back tears.

8. No control- I hate that I have absolutely no control over whether or not I will have a baby.

9.  Miscarriages- I hate that I had to experience the joy of pregnancy only to be taken away multiple times.

10.  Broken- I hate that I feel broken into a hundred pieces.  Everyday is a constant struggle to put myself back together and just when I have a few pieces fixed, something else breaks.

So that’s just how I am feeling right now.  It kind of feels good to get it out.  Anyone else have anything else they would like to add to the list?

At my last support group meeting, our leader left us with a final thought: “You won’t be infertile forever.  Eventually you will either have a baby, move on to a different option or you will decide to live childfree. But you won’t be struggling with infertility forever”  I remember feeling such relief when she said that because sometimes it just seems like an endless battle but after hearing that I felt like maybe there is light at then end of the tunnel.  Maybe not today or tomorrow but one day…

 

 

How do you know when enough is ENOUGH?

Recently I have been questioning a lot about whether or not to continue to keep going in this battle to have a baby.  I have struggled a lot with even asking myself this question because for as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a mom.  I still do.  So for me to actually consider what a life might look like without that feels very strange.  But I am starting to think about how much this quest is costing me and how much further can I keep going?  I have spent a LOT of time worrying, agonizing, panicking, analyzing, questioning, etc. AND it’s exhausting!  I am tired.  I have let this affect almost all other areas of my life: my relationships, my teaching, my health, and just my general well-being.  That’s the part of infertility that I hate the most is that it consumes you even when you try as hard as you can to not let it consume your life.

I found 2 things this past week that really hit home for me in regards to where I am in my journey.  The first was this quote from fellow blogger at Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen  She posted this on her facebook page:

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The 2nd was this post from another blogger at Ever Upward  She writes in her post about Defining Our Enoughs and Everythings:

“As I have written, I’ve taken out my counts; how many rounds of IVF I tried because I have found I included them only out of my own shame. Out of this need to prove to the world, and maybe to myself on some days, that I too have suffered and lost.

Infertility or not, we all must define our own enoughs and everythings.

Have you done everything you can? Have you done everything you need to? 

Have you done enough? Have you lost enough? Have you suffered enough?

Defining our everything and our enoughs in order to let go, embrace and move forward.

I think we can apply these questions to many areas of our lives that we are struggling with.

Infertility. Recovery. Relationships. Dreams. This list goes on and on.

I think what we all must remember is that only we can define what is everything and when enough is enough. When we define these through others’ expectations or society or because it is “what we are supposed to do” it only comes from this place of shame; a place of not honoring ourselves. Our everythings and our enoughs can, and need to, only be defined within ourselves.

If I don’t hold on to this, I can very easily get wrapped up in the shamed silence that surrounds my infertility journey and my recovery. Because, technically, I suppose, we could have kept trying. Technically, science has provided many options for us to keep trying. Technically, there are also other options.

But to not listen to myself, my husband and our light and truth would have been the biggest disservice to me, our marriage and, in reality, to the world. For us to go above and beyond what we know is our enough and our everything would have destroyed us because it simply would not have been our truth.
Only we define our enough and everything.We tried. We tried more than we had planned to. But, we tried again because our losses felt that crushing. We tried again because we knew that our everything wasn’t met yet. Only we could make that decision. We need to explain it only to each other.

And, our ever upward.

To let go of comparison, especially in our sufferings and recovery, is to find our truth.

Because we all suffer. We all lose. Hard is justhard.

And, we all must practice our recovery.

Trust in your truth. Trust in your everything. Trust in your enough.

Because, within that trust you will be found.”

This post really made me realize that I need to stop thinking about what everyone else thinks we should do and think about what do WE really want to do.  Often times we keep hearing people tell us to “keep trying”, “don’t give up”, “you can keep going”, etc. and while I am not trying to take away from anyone else who is at that point in their journey where they need to keep these reminders and need the cheering on, I too was once in that place not too long ago.  But what about those of us who have cheered and kept going but are now saying: wait a minute, haven’t I been through enough and can’t I just be done already??  Or if we do decide that we have had enough will people think that we are giving up?

Many people I have spoken to who have been down this road before and ended up moving onto something else like adoption, donor eggs, childfree living, etc. all have said the same thing: “You just know when you’re done”.  I can’t quite say that I am at that point just yet but definitely closer than I was a few months ago. The thing I am struggling with at the moment is separating out what I really want to do from what I feel like I SHOULD be doing.  I guess only time will tell…

 

Still one of my favorites:

inspiration

 

Things I Have Learned By Going Through Infertility

One positive thing, if there can be any when going through infertility, is that I have learned some very important life lessons on this journey.  I have always been the type of person who likes to find the “meaning” of why things might happen or the “lesson”.  So here is a list of my top 10 things I have learned so far while being on this ever changing journey:

1.  Patience- I have always thought of myself as a very patient person which was one of the reasons I went into teaching.  BUT playing this infertility game will test your patience like no student can.  I always say it’s the “hurry up…and wait” game.  I have gotten pretty good at that game.

2. Your “plans” don’t mean shit- I am a planner…again one of the things that I think makes me a good teacher.  I like to plan everything out right down to the last detail but in the world of infertility your plans don’t mean squat.  What you think might happen most often will definitely not happen and you can always expect the unexpected.  But then again, that’s pretty much how life in general goes to some extent.  Going on this journey has helped me to give up the planning reigns just a bit and live more in the moment because who really knows what tomorrow will bring.

3.  Never make assumptions about others- I have learned that you never know what someone’s situation is therefore you really shouldn’t make assumptions.  I am sure there are many out there who just assume I don’t want children.  I have learned to stop and think about what a person might be going through or really listen to what the person might be saying or not saying for that matter.

4.  My fear of needles is no longer a fear- if you don’t like getting your blood drawn then you are in for full fledged immersion therapy.  Nothing cures this fear like getting your blood taken on an almost daily basis.  The last time I had my blood drawn I watched the nurse do it from start to finish and I felt like a real bad ass.

5.  Anatomy and other medical stuff- I now know what the inside of my uterus looks like, along with my fallopian tubes, ovaries, and egg follicles.  I know what a mature egg follicle getting ready to ovulate should measure and how to count follicles.  I know what normal hcg levels should be, progesterone levels.  I know how to mix up proper doses of Menopur and give injections in a way that will sting the least.  I can tell you all about the ultrasound milestones, fetal measurements and heart rates.  A friend of mine, who also went to Dr. F, and I will often joke that if we could only get trained on using the ultrasound machine we could probably do Dr. F’s job or run a meth lab.

6.   Crazy Bitch- I have learned what it is like to be a crazy person.  Not just like ha ha I feel crazy, but like seriously I could murder someone crazy and then go out for ice cream afterwards. That is how extreme my emotions can get on this crazy ride.  I found that I didn’t take to disappointment too well either while being on all of my hormones.  I cried when my husband brought home only one pizza for dinner instead of two or when the jeweler came down with the flu and couldn’t fix my ring.  Or God help that person that worked at McDonalds on the day I pulled up only to find a sign saying that they ran out of Shamrock Shakes.  Sometimes I would be really happy and then in the blink of an eye I could become a raging sociopath.  I really tried to keep my emotions in check but hormones are no joke…hormones combined with desperation is grounds for being committed.  I am really glad I was able to talk myself down or that my husband would snap me out of it because I don’t think that I would have fared too well in a psych ward.

7.  Grace- when you go through infertility you find yourself in situations that will truly test you as a human being on every level.  From the stupid comments people make to the never ending pregnancy announcements, you will find yourself in situations that will require a shitload of GRACE. I have learned that deep down people only make stupid comments because they don’t know any better or they themselves are going through their own crap just like I am.  I really am happy for all of those people who are pregnant but in that first initial moment all I can think about is why I am not pregnant.  Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and let it pass.  Then you can be a graceful human again.

8.  Laughter really is the best medicine- I naturally handle situations with humor…it’s the only way I can make it through sometimes.  You have to surround yourself with people who will make you laugh too.  I have a very good coworker/friend who is always ready to make me laugh when we have our monthly staff meetings and it is time for “GOOD NEWS” aka who’s pregnant this month!  She always has some quick one liners ready to go.  Sometimes it just feels really good to laugh and make fun of yourself.  If you can’t laugh, you’ll cry and sometimes that feels good too.

9.  It’s okay to not know- as I have stated in Lesson #2 I like to have a plan and a back up plan…and another back up plan.  But sometimes you go through all of your plans and back up plans and then you really have no idea what to do next.  I have learned that it’s ok to not know and just sit with things for awhile.  Eventually something will strike you and you will find your direction again.

10.  Last but not least: pain and suffering- I have had my share of ups and downs in life but fortunately nothing too major.  The last 2 1/2 years have taught me what true pain and suffering feels like…that gut wrenching, all consuming pain.  I have known true loss and sorrow with my 5 little angels and all of my ‘could have been babies” and the suffering of wanting something that others seem to have so easily.  And even after going to the deepest sadness I have learned that the pendulum always swings back and there will be happiness again.  I am stronger because of this. And it also makes me appreciate the good stuff more.

Chemical Pregnancies AKA Natures Cruel Joke

For those of you who are not familiar with the term “chemical pregnancy” it is basically a very early miscarriage.  It happens at a point where a home pregnancy test or a blood test are the only evidence that you were pregnant and before an ultrasound could show a gestational sac.  A lot of women have them and don’t even know they were pregnant.  They might just think their period was late or heavier than usual.  I like to think of them as Natures Cruel Joke.

I myself have had the unfortunate luck to have had two…that I know of.  The first one was about this time last year.  I was a couple of days late with my period and decided to take a test for the hell of it.  I didn’t really feel any different and we were taking a break from treatments and any real attempts at trying to conceive so I didn’t really think I was pregnant BUT low and behold my test showed that I was PREGNANT.  I remember shouting out loud in my bathroom “WHAT??!” because I really didn’t think that was going to be the result.  I quickly called my doctors office and they told me to come in the next day for bloodwork.  This time I was actually happy to go in for bloodwork.

I remember feeling so many different emotions but most of all I remember thinking that this was going to be it.  This was going to be my rainbow baby, third time is a charm, light at the end of the tunnel etc.  And then I got the call from Nurse T who told me that yes I was in fact pregnant but that my hcg level was on the low side at 30 so we should be cautiously optimistic until we see if my levels are doubling.  So of course all of those hopes and dreams came crashing down…again!  I waited the 48 hours to go back again which always seems like an eternity and then got the dreaded call from Nurse T that my hcg level had dropped and that she was sorry but it looked like a chemical pregnancy.  So that was that.  It was pretty much over before it even started and now nothing left to do but wait for my period.

The second one was last October and pretty much the same scenario as the first except I remember shouting out “FUCK” when I saw my home pregnancy test said I was pregnant.  I remember feeling pissed off because I just knew it wasn’t going to be good and I didn’t want to go through this all again.  And I was pissed off because I couldn’t just be happy.  I felt bad that I couldn’t just be happy.  Infertility is like a dark cloud that just hangs over any potential good news you might get.  Always waiting to shit all over everything.

So yes Mother Nature you have scored one for yourself with your chemical pregnancies.  Let us get our hopes up and all just to change your mind a few days later.  That is the only positive if there can be a positive is that it is very short lived.  Instead of weeks of building up your hopes with a pregnancy it’s only a few days which is slightly more bearable but still a loss none the less.

For those of you out there who have had a chemical pregnancy don’t let anyone tell you or make you feel like you weren’t really pregnant because you were and it was real. I think of those two little babies often who would have been born in March and June and what could have been. xoxo

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Why did I Google??!

I have been going to acupuncture at the suggestion of Dr. F for about 3 1/2 months now shortly after my last miscarriage.   My acupuncturist, who I like to call Skinny Steve, is wonderful.  He is very kind and compassionate and specializes in acupuncture for infertility.  He is very knowledgeable about the female reproductive system and infertility.  I call him Skinny Steve due to the fact that he is one of the thinnest adult males that I have ever seen however his sense of style is impeccable.  I am not sure where he finds such great clothes in such slender sizes but kudos to him!   Aside from his sense of style, he is also a very genuine person.  Sometimes it’s hard in the infertility world to find medical persons who are not just selling hope for their own professional gain as my husband refers to it.  Skinny Steve genuinely puts his patients needs first both physically and emotionally which is exactly what I need right now.

I decided to try acupuncture not because I particularly thought it was going to perform miracles but more so out of curiosity and so I would feel like I was doing SOMETHING that didn’t involve needles and an ultrasound machine (ok it still involves needles but not the bloodsucking kind).  In the beginning, I wasn’t so sure it was doing anything for my ovaries but I felt more relaxed and I have slept better in the last few months than I ever have so for that it is worth it in my opinion.  My last 2 cycles have been much shorter than usual.  Normally I am every 28 days on the dot but after my last D&E I didn’t get a period for almost 11 weeks then I got it for a day and then 3 weeks later I got what we all assumed was my “real” period.  Since then I had a 20 day cycle and my last one was 25 days.  I was convinced that my ovaries were shutting down so yesterday I asked Skinny Steve what he thought the deal was.  He said he thought that the change in my cycle was a good sign that I was responding to acupuncture…whether it is a positive response or not remains to be seen but that a change is what we want to see apparently.  I asked him if he thought it could be because my ovaries were shutting down and he laughed and said no but in regards to my ovaries a shorter cycle means that I will probably ovulate earlier than with a 28 day cycle and might be harder to pinpoint.  He also asked if I had any other changes with my actual period which I have noticed an increase in the amount and length of my “heavier flow”.  He also seemed to be pleased with this as he says that means my uterine lining is getting thicker.  OK sounds like a fair trade off to me!  So when I left yesterday I had a little glimmer of hope that maybe things are still “happening” and maybe not all hope is lost.

Then I came home and decided to Google “shortened menstrual cycle and fertility”.  For infertiles, Google can be your best friend and your worst enemy all rolled into one depending on what you are looking for and the answers you want to find.  You start with one innocent Google search and then it turns into a full on medical investigation.  You quickly scroll through the first page of results looking for “the one” that seems most likely to match the answer you want to hear on that day.  Then when you don’t find the answer you want you start tweaking your search phrases until you finally find that answer you want or stumble upon the one you don’t want to find which is what happened to me yesterday.

The first site I clicked on was titled “shorter menstrual cycles and how it affects your fertility”.  As I started reading it said that the “normal” female cycle is between 21 and 35 days.  Ok sounds good.  Then I continued to read the section that was titled “cycles less than 21 days” which basically means your ovaries are shutting down and getting ready for menopause especially if you are over 40.  Then I proceeded to Google “shortened menstrual cycles and menopause” and of course all concluded the same thing that shorter cycles= a quick slide into menopause.  Now I know I only had 1 cycle that was less than 21 days and I literally JUST turned 40 a month and a half ago but nothing scares the shit out of you like the words “PERI-MENOPAUSAL”.

I started to feel that “I am running out of time” anxiety set in and it wasn’t pretty.  Sometimes I almost wish time would just run out already and put me out of my misery.  Kind of like when you were young and dating someone and they told you that they needed space to “think about things” and all you had  to hold onto was the hope that they would come to their senses and show up at your door claiming their undying love for you.  But they never did and as you got older and wiser when someone said those words you knew better and told them to beat it if they needed to space from you.  That’s kind of how this feels only this time it’s my ovaries that are “thinking about things” but I can’t really tell them to beat it.

So now I am asking myself “why did I Google??!!” For the same reason we all do…we want some definitive answer to this unknown question.  For the fun of it I Googled: Will I have a baby? and this was the first result:

Will You Ever Have a Baby? – The Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/…/fertility-and-motherhood-how…

The Daily Beast
Jun 30, 2010 – New research shows more women than ever are remaining childless.
Well at least I know I am not alone now that more women than ever are remaining childless!  Thanks Google!