Mothers Day is Hard

There are lots of posts crossing my facebook feed today about mothers day, and many of them acknowledge that mothers day is hard for some people – whether because they have lost their own mother, because they are a mother who has lost a child, or they are like me, and desperately want to be a mother and are endlessly frustrated that it hasn’t happened.

The thing is, mothers day is hard. It’s one of those weird hallmark holidays (literally, it started as one woman’s desire to honour her dead mother, and was quickly overrun by crass commercialism:¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day, much to the founders chagrin) But it is everywhere, and not acknowledging it is somehow churlish. I emailed and called my Mum. But I get tired of the gushing on social media, so other than a cursory check, I try to avoid it for a few days either side. I know that no one is intentionally rubbing it in anyone elses face, but in the same way that I personally don’t enjoy constant effusive statements of love for ones partner all over social media (I unfollow those people), I don’t love seeing all the mothers day posts.

I choose to insulate myself from it by logging off for a few days, which seems like the responsible thing to do. I have no expectation of anyone else changing their behaviours to suit me.¬† By Wednesday the majority will be done, and my facebook page will be back to the standard irreverent memes and adorable pet videos I have carefully curated through the FB algorithm. But today, today I choose to absent myself, because it is no one else’s responsibility to protect me, but it is my responsibility to protect myself, and the barrage of images of new mums, happy births, and friends etc. with their children is more than I can take today.

All my love to anyone else who has the same experience.

-Me

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Doctors Appt

We had our second appointment with the new (improved) fertility specialist earlier today. I feel like such a failure when I admit that we are not pregnant, that the first three rounds of letrozole were ineffective. Apparently letrozole alone has about an 8% rate of fertility, but if we add IUI we move up to 25%. That is different from the stats I understood from the research I read, but it is possible that they were based on the whole sample over 6 months – if 25% of them got pregnant over the full 6 months of treatment, that may make sense statistically. Stats have never been my strong point, and my time working in a research lab only made me understand how much they can be manipulated to avoid a null result. I tend to think most published research needs to be taken with a grain of salt/understanding of bias.

I know that things are no worse now than they were this morning, I know that we already had all this info, and I know we already knew the next step was IUI and that we would likely need to go there. I mean, technically, we could still get pregnant this round – I should be ovulating in the next week. The timing is not great, I have to be away this weekend, but I think we can make it work, cover the spread, so to speak.

Oh language, you’re funny and frequently dirty sounding.

Basically although nothing changed because of this appointment, I feel worse. I just want to melt away for a while, and not exist. Even though I know it’s not something I can control, I still feel like a failure on a very basic level.

We will probably do our first round of IUI in April.

-Me

Irony – Allanis style

I’m having a rough week. I will know in a few days if I am pregnant or not from round three, but if i’m honest, I think not. It’s a roller coaster of hope and frustration, and we go back to the fertility doctor on the 20th of March.

Mostly unrelated, for the past half decade or so, I’ve worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I met my first little sister when she was 14, and we built a solid relationship, so as she entered adulthood and aged out of the program, we have stayed close.

Today she told me she is pregnant, by accident, with a BF or three months, without resources or means, or planning. Because that is what young fertile people do. I am being supportive. I am being helpful. And I am dying inside.

There is a For Better or For Worse strip that basically says “fertility doesn’t come with foresight”.

I have no words.

-Me

Crying

I cry in my car a lot. More than I do anywhere else combined. There is something about the feeling of being in an isolated space by myself, that despite the fact that my windows are untinted and I’m not actually invisible, I am alone with my thoughts.

I think part of it is i’ve noticed most people in traffic are hyper self-involved and not paying attention to what is going on around them. Even if they happened to glance over and notice my tears, they won’t cause any more than a passing curiosity, a minor blip on their radar.

I prefer not to let my Husband into my daily grief/pain/darkness. He already worries about me enough, I don’t really feel the need to give him more cause.

All that being said, I broke down and let him into everything last night. I feel bad, because he looks utterly helpless when confronted with my distress. I find the active trying to conceive, the knowledge that in theory we have improved our odds with the medication, harder than not trying. I will know whether this round has been effective in about ten days. We go back to see the doctor again in March – we should have three full rounds of letrozole under our belts by the time we see him again.

On top of the infertility and stress of the medication, i’m really frustrated with my weight. I know, without stepping on the scale, that it’s up. I’m finding it hard to have the motivation to be as active as I usually am, or, for that matter, to eat well. Being unhappy with my body does not help the rest of my mental state, but at least it’s something I can hold onto and actively work on. So I’m signing up for a 5km run, adding two rowing workouts to the 2-3 I was managing over the December/January period, and limit simple carbs. I need to get this back under control, because it feels like very little else is mine to do so with.

I don’t want to track calories, that tends to mean I feel entitled to eat more to compensate for my exercise calories. I just need to find some much needed balance.

-Me

Happy 2018!

I am disinclined to make new years resolutions. I think it’s important to reflect and evaluate where you’re at and decide what you’re happy with, what you’re not, and how you want to change… but I think the arbitrary start date of New Years and making it a resolution is setting yourself up for failure. I mean, it’s a running joke among fitness/health professionals that the first week of January is a whirlwind and crazy busy and that by mid February everything will have calmed down back to normal.

All that being said, I had a pretty relaxed holiday, I didn’t spend any time with anyone other than my three furballs (the Husband, the dog, and the cat…) and I got some time off work, and I got to spend some time in reflection and think about what I do want to work to change.

The first thing that I know I need to work on is my own perception of myself and my war with my body. I’ve mentioned before that I feel like in many ways my body has betrayed me – its inability to conceive, to adhere to the physical appearance I idealize, and honestly the feeling that it has over the past year given out on me as my ability to push through the depression and its sister ship fatigue and I am actually having to take some time off. For these, and so very many more reasons, I often feel like I am waging a never ending series of battles with myself.

There are aspects of that last paragraph that made me cringe a little bit even as I wrote them – the idealized body annoys me – not because it exists as much because I still apparently buy into it. And that, although I do think I have gotten better at this, I still struggle to give myself grace and respect that self care is a necessary thing. I often counsel my clients on this front, but often I recognize that it’s basically a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Which makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but…. well, like I say, i’m working on it.

The most recent meeting with the second fertility Doctor did help to reduce my feeling of inadequacy with respect to our inability to conceive – he made it clear that neither of us is to blame for our lack of a baby – we as a couple simply have not been able to create a viable melding of our genetic matter (I may also call an eventual child exactly that as a nickname, maybe i’d be unfit to parent??? VMGM FTW!)

The useful thoughts that came out of actually having time away from our workaholic lives to hang out together and talk: Husband and I have agreed that one way or the other, whether because the fertility treatments work, or whether we end up looking into and going through the adoption process, we plan to be parents sometime in the next five years. That being a plan, we have agreed on a few behavours that both of us think we would like to change/modify before we model them for the next generation. These are basic things like actually sitting down at the table to eat instead of grabbing food and hanging out in the living room and ignoring each other, less screen time in general for non work/school related purposes, etc. Nothing ground breaking, mostly just small things that we think would be good to change anyways, and we both see the value of building the habits now so that they are habits when the time comes, which will make it easier to adhere to.

But ultimately, the main thing I need to work on, not as a resolution, not with a finite end date or goal… just a general sense that I need to learn to work with my body and be kinder to myself instead of punishing myself… Because frankly it’s just counterproductive.

Random final thought: Having to have sex every day for a week is a lot less fun in reality than it is in theory once you’re in your 30s. It’s amazing how something so fun can start to seem like such a chore.

In a little under two weeks I’ll know if i’m pregnant or if we’re going for round two of letrozole. Honestly, it hasn’t been so bad. Other than a weird taste in my mouth early on, three days of crushing fatigue (like 12-14 hours of sleep/day) leading up to ovulation (probable ovulation) this medication has not been as bad as I expected at all. Mostly I am dreading the let down I know will come when I find out that I am, once again, not pregnant. You would think after 57 cycles of this I would be numb, but this whole fertility treatment brings it all right back home.

-Me

Nothing and Everything

So it was nothing. It was just a fault in the test strip, and it meant nothing. I don’t know why I let my hopes get so up. We have been trying to get pregnant for over four and a half years, with no success – not even a blip on any radar. So why I thought this time would be different is logically beyond me.

I took it quite hard. Every time my period starts when I know that our timing was exactly what it should have been, I feel like a human failure. Winter isn’t great for me from a depression/SADs point of view in general, and I find that all the hoopla around Christmas makes me feel stressed and pressured to feel things I don’t really – the forced cheer is daunting at best.

Oh, also, my birthday was last week. Every year my birthday is a bit of a life review for me, seeing if I’ve done what I wanted to do, achieved my goals, etc. Since there is a pretty glaring piece of my life plan missing, even though I’m ok on the other fronts – professionally, personally, academically. Which makes my wallowing in the grief surrounding infertility that much more annoying. Well it’s annoying for me, and I feel like if I actually talked to anyone else around me about it instead of just occasionally blurting my thoughts out here, that anyone else iI talked to would also find it annoying.

I’ve had a weird feeling for a few months that 32 will be a pivotal year. No logical explanation, I just think it will be. We had talked to the doctor and gotten a referral for the fertility clinic that was due to happen on April 2nd, 2018. On my birthday last week I got a call: The appointment is now Monday. And I am so overwhelmed that I don’t know what I’m feeling. I’m excited, but terrified, and I know that my expectations are too high. Because really, after so many years, what can a new doctor really offer? So this appointment, this progress, it is everything and nothing. Because if they can help us, if there is a chance of my getting pregnant, of us having a baby, that is everything. But the far more likely reality is that there won’t be anything they can do, so this will be nothing.

We need to know. I need to know. Because having a baby, being a parent, it’s everything to me. And right now it feels like we have nothing.

-Me

 

Humility

More than most things, depression is humbling.

I have in most aspects of my life been able to force my way through, muscle/brain/charm/flirt, etc. I am lucky. I am a pretty, caucasian, blond, and highly intelligent female. I found out when I was 17 that the IQ tests I took at age 9 designated me a genius – on a continuum I fall about halfway between 99-100. I didn’t actually know when I was placed in the gifted program at age 10 what it meant, other than that i got to skip social studies, which was great for me – give me mind puzzles over details on the voyageurs any day. I mostly use this as an example as why when I say that IQ is not a relevant indication of success, it’s not sour grapes – I am in the top 0.5 percentile according to highly biased tests best suited to middle class north americans. I just don’t think IQ is relevant because, frankly, it has a lot of research and anecdotal evidence suggesting it is not. However, it has been valuable to me in that I pick up new concepts quickly, I can respond and amalgamate new information efficiently, And I see links between details that are not immediately evident to others…. Basically I feel like I am extremely good at fooling people into thinking I know more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, in my chosen field of active rehabilitation, I am good – I have worked my butt of to know, research, back up, and reenforce what I do, and I am good at it. But much of the rest of my life I am simply faster on my feet than average, and therefor I feel like i’ve fooled people into thinking I am smarter/better than I am.

All that being said, where does the humble come in? Here’s where:

I can’t muscle/think/smartass my way through depression and mental illness. Long before I started this blog, I was in denial that I was experiencing depression. My sister in law told me, years ago, that what I was experiencing was depression – she was right – and I denied it outright. My own fear of the stigma and overall atmosphere surrounding mental health caused me to completely disregard my own. In my mind, the fact that I was not suicidal, and could get my butt out of bed in the morning, were indications that I was fine. I was not aware of the term “high functioning depression”. I thought that to be depressed I would have to be basically bedridden and lacking any kind of motivation.

So I convinced myself that the black hole of a mental state was just my being grumpy, it had nothing to do with the feelings of inadequacy, the fear, self loathing, insecurity, fatigue… It was just my having a shitty day. Nothing to worry about. Because I could get up, go to work, be a full time student and work 2-3 part time jobs and still be a supportive friend/wife/sibling/child… all of this could happen, right?

I promised myself time off when I finished my undergrad – I was just going to work the part time job as a research coordinator for a lab at the university – a role I had been doing while completing my undergrad degree and honours thesis (it’s published, woowoo). Then I got my first real job as a Kinesiologist, and the next five years are what she wrote – far be it for me to turn down a job in my chosen field and not choose to work my ass off. But I never took time off. By the time I walked across the stage I was already embarked on my new career – something that few of my peers had managed, but something that meant that long desired and planned for time off didn’t happen. Fast forward five interesting and professionally fulfilling years – I don’t regret that decision. But I was burnt out and a mess at the end of my undergrad, and I never actually took the pause that I promised myself.

Back to humble. Basically it is this: It doesn’t matter how smart, driven, determined, or full on stubborn I am. Depression has caught up with me and overrun my life in the last few years. And that is humbling; not because I thought I was better than anyone else, but because I had that stupid blind faith that I would somehow manage to be the exception: That Depression wouldn’t be able to take its tole, do it’s damage, because I would push through. So … humbled. Because this is my take away: You can run, but you can’t hide. You can busy the shit out of your brain, prioritize other things and people, and run at full steam for as long as you can… but you cannot ignore mental health. It isn’t simply gone. It refuses to be forgotten. Trust me on this, I tried. For years. For years before I knew what I was doing, and possibly with more fervour once I had more awareness. Therapy helped a lot, because it tends to. And I think it was a decent stopgap measure, but in my vanity, I still thought I could go it alone, and that was an epic fail.

When I finally hit the point earlier this year that I wanted to stop existing, I was clear that I needed help. All of the help. And I needed to let go of my own narcissistic vanity and be vulnerable. And I hated every second of that. I hate being vulnerable, I hate feeling weak, and I hate letting people in and needing support. But in wanting to not be me anymore, I realized I had to stop pretending that my depression wasn’t real.

I’m not going to for a second pretend I have any answers. I don’t. I don’t want to die. I want to see what life has to offer. I wish I had more humility, because even as I write this I still feel like I should know better. But that is the thing with being humbled – it happens in spite of yourself, not because of a decision, despite one… despite your sense of self, wants, needs… the id will out. And mine has wanted out with a vengeance, and scares the ever living shit out of me.

At least I don’t want to die.

Ugh. Humble is not my colour.

-Me