Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friendship Tips.... At least in my own warped mind....

99% of my friends who read this blog are "normal" (i.e. not infertile... since I'm not discussing mental issues in this blog!!). AND I'll try to keep this post tame since I'm pretty sure that alot of my family.. and possibly my boss(Hi David!) read this blog..  Imagine how confusing most of the lingo must be for them. Anyhow. Back to the point of this post. One of those friends(who are "normal") said to me “I wish you would write about how to be a good friend to an infertile person”. Which is really sweet of her and shows she has already passed one of the requirements. So I started thinking about writing a post on this and realized what a hard task this is. How do you become a Good Friend to an Infertile?

Firstly, I have to say that this being a Good Friend to an Infertile is not an easy job at all. It is a job with fluid parameters, a thankless job sometimes and one where it might appear that no matter how hard you try, you never seem to get it right. There are times when you will be extremely busy and the job is very demanding. There are other times where you will benched, forced to sit on the outside looking in. There is not often any logic in this change of demand. Be aware of the volatility of work pressure when applying for this job. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Secondly, there is not a universal job description, and worst of all, your job duties will change over time. There is not a universal job description because Infertiles come in different flavors. True, one can categorize these flavors to some extent, but variations will always exist. Your eternal optimist / newbie / completely uninvolved infertile doesn’t need too much in the way of special friendship; they believe the problem is temporary and will get resolved soon. They don’t feel broken, different or an outcast. Your longer term / highly involved infertile is a very tricky beast, and is one to be handled with great caution and protective gloves (for you, not her). This person feels alienated from society and carries great pain and angst in their souls. They might not show it all the time, but there is a very sensitive, raw spot in their souls that is easily bruised. Then you get the older timers, who’ve been doing this so long it just becomes part of who they are. These infertiles have gone through the great angst and intense pain of the ‘dark years’ and have come out realizing that while infertility is shit, it is not all consuming. And instead of crying, they laugh. Because infertility is actually a comedy of errors, sometimes.
Infertiles tend to move through these stages at different pace. Which makes it very hard being a Good Friend to an Infertile, because the type of friendship involved is so different at each stage. It is very very hard being a Good Friend to someone stuck in the dark stage of infertility. It is a very painful place for an infertile to be. There is no hope, just a great deep dark sense of despair. You feel totally alienated from the rest of the world and you are consumed by your situation. Every thing hurts, and every thing has the power to hurt you. Your world shrinks to the world of infertility and you fight tooth and nail to protect the fragile hold you have on sanity. The best advice I can give to a Good Friend at this stage is to offer friendship and support, from a distance. Say things like “I am here for you if you want to talk, or not talk, or drink, or swear, or shop. But if you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok. I’ll be here waiting for you when YOU are ready to come out the cave”. If you can bare it, hang in there, your friendship should return to some semblance of its previous form once your Infertile has worked her way through her dark despair. It has nothing to do with you or you ability to friend, it has every thing to do with her coping with the horrible reality of her situation.
Being a Good Friend to the eternal optimist or the good-humored veteran is a lot easier, with these few survival tips.
1. Good Friends never judge. Remember that unless you’ve walked in the person’s shoes, you can’t say “well I would never….do IVF/terminate a pg/spend so much money on ART etc” To be honest, who likes judgmental people any way.
2. Good Friends will educate themselves about what their Infertile is going through. HUGE proviso: see point 3 before putting any thing into action. Read up about infertility so that you get a high-level understanding of the intricacies involved. Know little things like eggs are retrieved, then fertilized and they become embryos. Then the embryos are put back. Just small things so that when your infertile does share some of her world with you, you will understand. I think this shows commitment to the friendship.
3. However. Do not willy nilly offer advice, or hot off the press latest research about a fantastic new procedure that is sure to work. Remember the stuff they write about in your local woman’s magazine is stuff that your Infertile did in Infertility 101. Been there, failed that. ICSI is not a new procedure, I promise. And yes, we have heard of taking cough syrup to increase cervical mucous. Oh, and for my Aunt, yes I have heard of lying with my legs in the air after having sex. Unfortunately, I have PCO and don’t ovulate so I could be lying with my legs in the air doing bicycle movements till the cows come home and all the sperm are going to do is mill around confused asking where the fuck the egg is, bemoaning the fact that this has been a useless trip out and they might as well have had a wank. Which goes back to Point 2. Educate yourself about your friend’s diagnosis so that you can avoid offering pointless advice. And please, what ever you do, never, ever be so stupid as to say “just relax”. Would you say to a cancer patient “just relax”? Would you say to someone who can’t see “just relax”? Of course you wouldn’t. Plus you have to know that “just relaxing” will not change the medical diagnosis that is causing your friends infertility. Because of course you’ve done enough reading to carry on an intelligent conversation, if your Infertile decides to engage you in one.
4. Platitudes. Never ever offer platitudes. This is a totally selfish act any way because all platitudes do is make you feel better and the Infertile feel worse. Saying “maybe you are not meant to have children” is an incredibly stupid thing to say. You wouldn’t say to a diabetic “maybe you weren’t meant to have insulin etc”. Infertility is a medical condition. Not some factor in the universe’s bigger plan for the Infertile. Similar to “its God will”. How the fuck do you know? You have a direct connection or what? How about “are you sure you want kids?” lovingly looking at your own screaming kids. No dear, I am spending thousands and enduring physical, emotional and mental anguish just because I am obscenely stupid. Or “you can have mine”. Now that’s an incredibly stupid thing to say. What kind of mother are you to give her kids away? Oh you were only joking? What was the funny part? That I don’t have my own kids? Sorry, but I am not getting the joke? Call me stupid. In addition, please don’t tell me about your friend/cousin/co-worker who got pg naturally after 8 years of trying. It doesn’t make me feel better, it depresses me. Good for her. It’s got nothing to do with my situation.
5. The tricky one. Announcing pregnancies / baby showers / births and other kid things. The best advice I can give here is trust the Infertile to know what she can or can’t handle. Don’t hide things from her, but respect it when she says to you “I don’t think I am going to be able to handle that”. Your Infertile knows when her good days and bad days are, and what she can or can’t handle. But do invite her, give her the choice of saying no. And then respect her to know that sometimes she needs to protect her own fragile soul more than she needs to fulfill social obligations.
6. The level of involvement. Infertiles differ in the level of involvement they engage their Good Friends in. Some, like me, are pretty open about the whole thing. Every Friend and their Mother knows when I am going in for ER, ET or whatever. Other people prefer to keep their infertility private. Find out what your Infertile prefers and operate at the level she feels comfortable with.
7. Which brings to me to my final point. If you don’t know how to act, ask. I love that my friends ask me how I want them to act around me. They also know that if they ask the question “how is it going with your treatment” I will either tell them or I will say “irritating, I don’t want to talk about it now”. They totally respect that and don’t push. I have great friends.
There have been many articles written on the web about what to say and not to say to an Infertile, how the family should act etc. I wont go into those. If you are a Good Friend you will have done a little surfing and read those things anyway. Besides, this post is already way too long.

To end off, if you decide to accept the job of Good Friend to an Infertile, I applaud you. Because it is not an easy job. It really isn’t. As I have said, it’s a pretty thankless job and one in which your job description is so fluid that what is required today is wrong tomorrow. I thank those of my Good Friends who have stuck around so long with me. I know it hasn’t been easy. I appreciate your friendship, I really do.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blowing off some steam...

I read quite a few blogs and lot of the bloggers that I follow are mothers. I love hearing about the silly things their kids are doing and saying and seeing their adorable faces.

While I read blogs that have to do with infertility, too, I don't read as many of those. I sort of steer away from them. I think maybe it's because I've got my own infertility issues that I'm dealing with and I just want to forget about them for a little while, reading blogs about infertility just makes me more mad.

 It's not fair that we all have to go through this stupid thing called infertility. Reading blogs about infertility just makes it more "in your face", to me. At the same time, I want to be there to support my friends that are going through it, too, so I try to visit the blogs that I do follow fairly often.

Infertility is not fair.

I'm tired of having to be strong.

I'm tired of Letting Go and Letting God.

I'm tired of having Faith that everything is in His hands and maybe some day I'll have a child.

I'm tired of waiting.

I'm tired of researching.

I'm tired of just relaxing.

I'm tired of changing my diet to have a more fertile body.

I'm frickin sick and tired of dealing with stupid frickin infertility!

I don't want to Learn a Lesson from all of this.

I just want a family.

I want a mini-me and a mini-Jamie.

You know what? Those teenage girls that got pregnant didn't have to have Faith that they could get pregnant. They just did in a moment of hot and heavy.

Those druggie's didn't have to Let Go and Let God. They just had sex, with drugs in their system, and got pregnant.

And add to that, there's those that get pregnant and decide they don't want "the fetus" and abort it without giving that child a chance to be born and grow up to be someone, whether they kept it or gave it up for adoption. {and I'm sure I just pissed a bunch of people off. sorry.}

There's also those like The Duggar's that just keep on frickin multiplying. I mean. Seriously. SHARE THE WATER! I'd gladly take a sip if I could just have a fraction of the amount of kids they have!

So why is it that I can't just hop into bed with my husband and get up pregnant?

Some of these infertile bloggers that I read have SO MUCH FAITH that they're eventually going to get pregnant and I feel like I've got zip, ziltch, nada. And I don't WANT to HAVE to have Faith. Period.

I don't want a growing experience any longer!

I think 10 years is long enough!

And then I also have an internal fight going on with myself over jealousy.

I'm jealous of those that have children.

I'm jealous of those infertile's that do get pregnant.

I'm jealous of those that have all that Faith.

I'm jealous of those that are actually getting somewhere in their fight against infertility.

I'm jealous of those that have the money to do everything under the sun to have a baby, whether it's treatments or adoption.

I'm jealous of those that have husbands that are totally on board with everything that goes with infertility.

I'm jealous of those that have husbands that actually express their feelings about the infertility.

I hate jealousy.

I hate the feeling of being jealous all the time.

Infertility just frickin SUCKS!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sometimes I feel as empty as my womb........

This is the first and only picture I have from my last pregnancy.

August 29, 2010... I was 10 weeks pregnant. I found this picture last night while organizing photos on my laptop and I began to cry. I look at this picture and just wonder what he would have looked like. He would be almost 8 months old, my due date was Ferbuary 28, 2011. Another date in my memory I will never forget. A birthday that I was supposed to celebrate with my child until the day I died, but now it's just a day to remind me of what I lost.
It's been over a year since he was given to us and taken from us. It just seems so unfair to have tried for 10 years to only have miscarriage after miscarriage. Now 10 years later I still don't have a baby in my womb or in my arms.
So many have such an easy time getting what I want so much. I am trying so hard: I watch what I eat, I exercise, I have to take medications. I have to go to the doctor on certain days of the month. I have to spend lots of money on just a slim chance of getting a positive. I  cry every month when I get not one, but multiple negatives. I cry when I hear of someone getting pregnant. I have to hide so I don't take away their joy or ruin the moments. It's hard to be around kids or watch grandparents having such a good time with the kids and not one of them belonging to us. I feel like a failure to my family. At least my Dad has grandchildren, and my Mom got to meet and know most of them before she passed away. I feel it doesn't bother them that we may never have kids because they already have 4 grandkids.
What if I don't ever get another chance? Will I stop crying because I don't have a baby? Will my heart still ache as much as it does today?
The loss of the child I barely had a chance to know and the child I may never have gives me so much sorrow, it's almost unbearable.
Sometimes I wonder how I get through this. If it's hard today, how will it be 10 years from now? As I cried last night, I thought about how it hurts so much today at almost 31 years old, how many years will I have to go through this pain... and what will this pain plus 10 years of more disappointments and heartaches feel like?... It scares me so much.
In my real world (not my blog world), I feel so alone. I feel I am expected to be a perfect, happy, strong, supportive person. The truth is I am not perfect and I don't know one person that is (although some may think it). I may look happy on the outside, but inside I am a mess. I believe I am not strong because I can't handle things as well as others. And support, it's hard to give when I need so much of it myself and get so little in return sometimes.
There's not a day that goes by I don't think about my children and what might have been.
Not a day goes by I don't think about being infertile, but there are days when I am stronger than others and I am hoping tomorrow is one of them.
Infertility and having a miscarriage is robbing me from life.. Almost everyday I feel as empty as my womb.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Road to Uncertainty

Once you start ttc and bring children into your life, you end up giving up an element of control. There are so many things that could go wrong. Before finding myself deep in infertility treatments, when I was first started to seriously think about having children, I imagined all of the changes in my life. How would J and I be able to afford children? How would I manage work and family? How would relationships with family and friends be changed? What would our children be like? Would we be good parents? I didn't really think that much about act of getting pregnant, and was kind of scared of pregnancy--particularly childbirth. When I was pregnant for the first time, I spent some time reading a Lamaze pregnancy book, which included a section on the whole birth experience, including some troublesome cases. It freaked me out so much, that I thought at time, "Man, How am I ever going to do that!" I guess by 30, I've changed my mind, but scary pregnancies haven't gone away. I'm just more willing to risk them.
My above worries are now much farther down the list, supplanted by worries of treatment and managing to have a healthy pregnancy. For people who don't battle infertility, I suppose they might never have any other types of worries. However, I think that I was probably also naive about all of the uncertainties that come with pregnancy. When I first started with treatments, I thought a positive test would solve all of my problems and everything would go smoothly. The advertisement for HPTs make it sound that way: "Look, honey, two pink lines!" {Hugs and kisses all around} I have come to realize now, after suffering four heartbreaking miscarriages, that the first positive beta is but one of many hurdles to jump over in the quest for a healthy child. As IFers, we just get a head start on the road to uncertainty.

I have recently again had the elusive positive beta, but it was low. I helplessly watched it rise, then fall. Although about a week after my last beta indicated an HCG level less than 5, I got a postcard from my clinic with a congratulatory note and instructions for next steps. Hello! As if I'm not already feeling bad enough, can't the office get it's communications straight! But even if I had experienced three positive beta tests with good doubling numbers that's a must before they consider you pregnant (at this clinic), the uncertainty wouldn't end. There's the first ultrasound. Will there be a heartbeat? Follow-up and tests. Will things continue to progress normally? Oh yeah, and if you make it that far, you still have to go through child birth. I cry every time I read about another blogger who loses a pregnancy.

If you do make it to the point where your child is born, all of those initial concerns of mine are still valid. J and I could strive to be good parents, but our children could turn out to sick, we could make bad decisions adversely impact their life, or they could make bad decisions, despite our best efforts. I feel like I had loving parents who did what they could to place my life and my siblings lives on the right track, but things still did not always turn out as planned. It's an awesome responsibility to be parent, to try to raise your children to be ready to go out into the world, and things may not work out as planned, despite your best intentions.

Thinking about the next step in our IF journey: the IVF cycle, makes me scared of all that uncertainty all of those things that could go wrong, just in the process of trying to bring my potential children into the world. J says that he is trying to not think about the uncertainty, about the weight of potential problems, and just go where the cycle takes us. I wish I could do that.

Friday, September 30, 2011

To my future child.....

This morning, I woke up & walked into what would be your room,
I thought of how I’d rock you, feed you, dress you, and
how we’d watch the spring flowers bloom.
None of this is possible, because God has not chosen me, yet
He hasn’t given me an opportunity to be a mommy.
Every night, I lay in bed
Thoughts of you ponder in my head.
I hold closely the man I love,
This man deserves the chance to be a daddy.
I picture him holding you close & the three of us so happy.
Although you are not here,
I already love you so dear.
Everyday I dream of what it would be like
to hold a baby of my own,
Every tear that runs down my face is another day gone wrong.
I walk in town to see women with their beautiful bellies,
My friends announce they’re pregnant now,
And, I smile – I am happy for them
But truthfully I am burning inside.
The hurt, the pain, I try to hide –
But still I can’t understand why?!?
Every night, I dream, I dream of daddy, mommy, and you
I dream of vacations, weekends, and trips to the zoo,
I dream of your hands, your feet, your fingers, and toes,
I picture your lips, your eyes, your nose,
I think of what your first day at school will be like,
I think of teaching you to ride your first bike.
I dream of reading your favorite stories at night,
I dream of holding you in my arms so tight.
I imagine all of these things but, the I wake realize it isn’t real,
That is when it is heartache and pain that I feel.
If only God would bless me,
I would surely love to hold our first baby.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I feel.....

Seems like lately it always feels like we are the only couple on earth suffering from infertility. You hear and read that millions of people are going through infertility treatments but yet where are they? Your cousin got pregnant after (oops!) drinking too much one night; your co-worker tried for an agonizing three months before it finally happened to her; and all your friends are either pregnant or having baby number two, three or four. If there are millions and millions who suffer from infertility, it certainly feels like they are living somewhere else.
I feel jealous.
I feel bitter and envious.
I feel like everyone is pregnant but me (including your dog, goats, heck even the chickens have great eggs but nope not me).
I feel angry, disappointed and frustrated.
I feel hopeless, then hopeful, then hopeless again.
I feel heartbroken, emotionally-drained and desperate.
I feel discouraged, and exhausted.
I feel like I can’t look at that toilet paper even one more time.
I feel like I'm getting high on Folic Acid.
I feel like I see the transvaginal wand more than my husband.
I feel like I will go crazy if my fertility clinic doesn’t call me back by 3pm.
I feel like I know more about cervical mucus than a fertility specialist.
I feel like (’ve had more unprotected sex than an immature teenager.
But I also feel calm and strong and determined.
And although I might feel lonely going through this infertility adventure, I know that I am definitely not alone. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My view of infertility: Suffering in Silence

"So what happened last week?" my co-worker asked, wondering why I'd disappeared for several days in the middle of the week. "Did you have the flu?"  “It was..." I trailed off, trying to decide how much I wanted to share with someone who was really more of a professional contact than a friend. "It was...woman stuff."

Just like that, I slapped a vague label on the most excruciating loss of my life.

Mere days before this conversation took place, I was chipper and dreamy and carrying a baby. Then, in the course of one horrid day, it all unraveled. Now, I found myself sitting back in my office chair, stunned, grieving, and facing an urgent mountain of work.

I pawed my pile listlessly, wondering how the world could go on when mine had surely ended. All around me, keyboards chattered and telephones rang. Coworkers eyed me suspiciously, clearly not buying my excuse that I was just under the weather. I'd just lost a baby. And it had dropped me into a hell of despair so deep that it hurt just to breathe.

So, why was I keeping it a secret?

Miscarriage is death. It brings with it all the agonizing grief that comes with losing a loved one. But miscarriage is also a taboo topic. It's the very reason that we hide our pregnancies during those first dicey months, fretfully waiting for the danger to abate before making any announcements.

When bad news comes, couples that lose a pregnancy tend to mourn in secret, telling only close friends and family about their loss. There are no funerals. No memorials. You don't get sympathy cards and bereavement time. Instead, routines go on, and you take sick days.

In fact, the only tradition our society does have regarding miscarriage is that you're not supposed to talk about it. We expect grieving couples to buck up and pretend that the little life lost never existed in the first place.

We reduce a miracle to a topic not fit for polite conversation.

An estimated one in seven pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Each year in the U.S. alone, over 700,000 babies don't survive to be born. Millions of people must be mourning them. So, where are they? “The only tradition our society does have regarding miscarriage is that you're not supposed to talk about it.”

As a society, we let ourselves believe the lie that miscarriage is a minor event in a woman's life. "It happens all the time," people tell you, as if knowledge of its frequency will put the loss in perspective. (Imagine giving that same line to someone who just lost a grandparent.) "It really wasn't a baby yet" is another line people glibly offer. Or, "You hardly even knew you were pregnant."

I have had four miscarriages, one at 19 weeks, one at 13 weeks, and two at about 10 weeks. Every time, I knew I was pregnant right away. That's a lot of mornings to wake up enchanted that there's a child growing inside you. It's many long afternoons of fatigue, strange cravings, and nausea. It's countless cups of decaf coffee and glasses of wine declined. It's hundreds  prenatal vitamins.

I don't blame society for being so callous about pregnancy loss. If nobody ever tells people how much it hurts, how are they to know that miscarriage is such a big deal? Why shouldn't they think that it is no worse than blowing a job interview or having your team lose the big game?

As with so many taboo topics, perhaps the answer is simply for people to be more open: To stop pretending that if we ignore a miscarriage, it won't hurt.

I still think about that miserable afternoon at work and how much easier it would have been if I'd just exhaled the truth. If I could have let people say, "I'm so sorry." If I hadn't had to pretend that it was a normal day even as I was in the grips of soul-swallowing grief.

Because the only thing worse than losing something that meant the world to you is pretending that you lost nothing.

September is PCOS Awareness Month

For those of you that don't know what PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) is:
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a problem in which a woman's hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is common, affecting as many as 1 out of 15 women. Often the symptoms begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.-Wikipedia

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18 years old, after having been told for quite a few years that nothing was wrong with me. My first GYN appointment the Dr told me "your young and active, it's normal for your body to be like this" NOT!! This really didn't bother me until after I was married and we decided to have children.

Another blogger friend challenged me to write a blog that in short told the story of my struggle with infertility. This short essay is going to be posted following this one as it's a bit longer but I've written about something that's affected me more than anything! Feedback is always appreciated!!

Not sure where to start.....

So I've had this blog for a while, but I haven't really been sure where to start. Heck, I'm not even sure if anyone will ever read this! I've always kept sort of a journal but never shared it with anyone and I think it's time to upgrade to the next level.
I'm sure there will be lots of rambling and even a few private posts, but the good thing here is if you don't like what your reading you can always leave!

Having said that I welcome you to my blog!