Fertility Clinic, Round 2

Our second round at the fertility clinic was everything that the first one should have been, and better. We saw a doctor who listened to everything we had to say, had read our file prior to us entering the room, and treated us with the basic humanity, respect, and compassion that I had expected when we first walked through those doors.

The basic upshot of the whole appointment was the confirmation that what we have is unexplained infertility – neither of us is at fault, neither of us has anything apparently wrong, we just can’t seem to conceive a baby. This doctor also thought that we should try a medication that promotes ovulation, and went into detail as to why – basically that the more eggs, the better the odds of one making it to contact the sperm. He did listen to my concerns about the amount of crazy I experience when I take anything that messes with my hormones. He suggested Letrozole over the clomid variation we were prescribed last time. Letrozole apparently has fewer emotional side effects compared to clomid, and a slightly lower risk of birth defects. So we will try this for a few cycles, and then go back in March to potentially look into IUI. Unless by some miracle the Letrozole works in the next couple of months. The range of efficacy among infertile couples ranges from 10-30%. In couples with diagnosed infertility I suppose any significant change is good. I mean, our odds without intervention are shy of 1%, so we will be drastically increasing them through this. So we shall see.

My hopes are up… but I’m trying to keep them in check. I don’t know how far we will go through fertility treatments – even this is beyond what I said two years ago was our hard stopping point. But time and experience changes perspective and action, so here we are.

I have not kept anything in check enough not to have considered that the timing of my getting pregnant in the next few months would be perfect from a career/academic perspective: I should be finished my masters in early July of 2018. I am working between two clinics where I feel valued and am building solid practices, as well as flexible hours that might work around a baby’s schedule. And how we would rearrange our house to accommodate another human being… you know, just the little things.

So we shall see what happens, and how far this goes. How far we go…

-Me

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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

 

Beginning Again…

As we discussed potentially looking into adoption, my Husband and I realized we are not totally ready to give up on having our own biological child. So I went to the doctor and got a new referral to the fertility clinic, and we have an appointment in April. Because that’s how long it takes to get in to see the specialist – 6+ months. I was apprehensive about going back to the same clinic where i’d had the really lousy experience over two years ago now. It turns out Doctor Hudson, who was the utterly charming dipshit we saw before, has since retired. We won’t be risking having to deal with his lack of professionalism, patronizing bedside manner, or general idiocy again. In the meantime I have more blood tests, and my Husband has another sperm analysis, and around we go again – we need to exhaust some potentials before we can commit to the adoption process.

There are some differences this time around: My Husband is fully on board this time around, and has a better understanding of how daunting this process is emotionally. We’re older, more financially secure, we own a house now… We’re in a way better place in terms of our relationship than we were when we started trying to conceive over four and a half years ago.

A weird thing about revisiting fertility treatment options… I was already hesitant to share details about my struggle with infertility the last time around. I’m naturally a private person, I don’t like to share personal details, and there was no part of me that felt equipped to open up and have any kind of a conversation about something that felt like it was destroying me from inside out. This time around, the few people I did talk to about it think that i’ve put it behind me, and I kind of like it that way. I don’t like to think people see me as a sympathetic entity, and i’m too proud to admit that I’m going back to this place of mental chaos.

I am very much my own worst enemy. Even I can step far enough back from this to see that. But I am afraid that I when this fails I’ll have to admit once again that I can’t have a baby, and I already feel like a failure. If i’m going to fail again, I would prefer that it were just my Husband and I who know about it…

Failure is not just an option, it seems like the most likely outcome of this renewed effort. And I don’t want mine to be public knowledge any more than I did last time around.

Someday I’d like to have the courage to share and be open, but today is not that day.

On a side note, I do have a weird feeling about being 32… Like if it were going to happen, this will be the year.

-Me

Talking About Infertility: A Friend’s Guide

It’s getting easier to interact with my friends with kids, and with their kids. I spent the weekend visiting with a friend i’ve known since high school, her husband, and their two adorable daughters (2.5 years and 10 weeks). It was an awesome weekend, we went hiking, caught up, hung out with the kids, and gave her some much needed adult time while her husband looked after the kids.

Something that has come up a couple of times with my family/friends who have children is their uncertainty as to how uncomfortable it is going to make me if they talk about/interact with/gush over their children. And I do understand that. I get that there is a distinct level of awkwardness surrounding the conversation of infertility. Since it remains such a taboo subject of discussion, people have their own ideas and expectations for how they expect the infertile individual to feel and what their comfort level would be if they were in that situation.

I can’t speak to anyone else’s feelings on the subject, but here are mine: I like to hear about how happy people are to have their children. I think the fact that they enjoy their progeny, that they are excited to be parents, and that they love the experience is a good thing. Yes, of course it makes me think about what i’m missing. Of course there is a part of me that is sad.

What is exponentially worse is the people who have children and apparently hate or resent the whole experience. It is one thing when someone has the thing I want most in the world and treasures it… It is a whole other thing when they have it and they treat it like an inconvenience.

I know that having children is stressful, and draining, and a huge sacrifice. I know that it is hard, and that there are moments where any parent is likely to regret how much of themselves they’ve had to give up in order to support their progeny. I don’t think there is any such thing as a perfect parent, and perish any thought that I consider that I would be anything close to that if given the opportunity. But at least here in Canada, we have access to birth control, family planning options, and worst case scenario, abortion, all subsidized by our health care system. There is no excuse to bring an unwanted child into this part of the world. I don’t expect anyone to take the concept of terminating an unwanted pregnancy lightly. Unfortunately, I do think too many people take the concept of parenting lightly, which seems to have a whole other set of consequences.

As someone who has given parenting, childbearing, child rearing, and the sacrifices and work involved a lot of thought, not just in the last four+ years, but for the better part of a decade before that while my Husband and I were planning a life that centred around having a family… I honestly find it difficult to imagine how anyone can go into it without a basic grasp of what they will be giving up in order to support the little life they create. However, I am often confronted with evidence that exactly that happens all the time, and it drives me a little crazy.

So, talking to a friend who is dealing with infertility. Things to consider:

If you are curious about someone’s interest in having children, should you ask? The blanket answer to me is no. It’s none of your business what they want, and chances are if they want you to know they will choose to tell you. However, I think it can come up organically in conversations, and depending on how open they are about their fertility status, and how close the two of you are, they may choose to bring it up. If you are not comfortable having that conversation (and maybe hearing about some of the baggage behind it) don’t ask. My closest friends all know the basics, and varying levels of details about what my Husband and I have been going through. I personally chose to brush off the question or ignore pointed comments that can hang on the air if I don’t feel like talking about it. I will either full on lie, make a joke, or just say that we are not having kids without qualifying information. The basic point is: It’s none of your business, I don’t care who you are, my fertility is mine, and I will choose when and with whom I discuss the details.

You are aware that someone cannot have children. Should you invite them to child-centred events (baby showers, children’s birthdays, etc.). Yes. But don’t be offended if they chose not to attend. Really, I think that should be true of all events – an invitation is not a directive, it’s presenting the option. I think it’s weird when people nag you to show up to something once you’ve told them you won’t, regardless of the event details – weddings, parties, trips… an invitation shouldn’t be considered an order. But I digress…

Should you discuss your children/child details with/around your infertile friend? Yes. If they are not comfortable, they can choose to remove themselves from the conversation. As I said, I love to hear about my friends children, and my nieces and nephews. The little munchkins’ existence has no bearing on my own lack of children, and knowing that there are kids around who I can lavash with whatever maternal urges/attention/care I have (Plus getting to hand them back at the end of the day) is a good thing. I personally also have no issues with my friends discussing the more challenging realities of their child rearing experiences. As I said above, I know that is a part of it, and constant sunshine sugar and roses just makes my teeth hurt. I’m cool hearing all of it, and if I were not, I would say something or absent myself.

Asking questions about their situation, should you? Sure. Again, I think it’s up to each individual to determine their boundaries and what they wish to disclose. As with invitations, questions don’t automatically deserve a response. With those friends who I have chosen to disclose my experience, I have no problem discussing it in more depth, as long as the circumstances are appropriate. I am not going to have a heart to heart in the middle of a party with a bunch of other people listening in. But if I have already determined that I trust someone enough to have told them what is going on in my life on that level, I have no problem going into more detail. In fact, for me, I frequently have trouble talking about it unless someone chooses to ask. I tend to feel like I am over burdening my friends with my issues, so I generally avoid bringing it up. Sometimes someone choosing to ask about it is a welcome opportunity to vent/discuss/elaborate/communicate on an issue that I find intensely difficult to address. There is an aspect of buyer beware in this: If you ask, you may get far more of an answer than you expected and possibly more than you wanted. This is an emotionally charged issue, and it can come out in a whole huge ball of everything that can be overwhelming. Or maybe it just feels massively overwhelming to me. Whatever. Let that be on the asker, if you’re willing to ask an incredibly personal question, you should probably be prepared for the answer.

Random other things:

I don’t care that you don’t feel like you can understand what it feels like. I don’t want you to, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone I care about.

I don’t need your suggestions for other options for potentially getting pregnant – thank you, I know you’re trying to help, but I am a pretty phenomenal researcher in my own right – you are not going to suggest something that I have not already considered.

I don’t want to be told about the friend/acquaintance/your dog’s uncles owner who got pregnant after years of trying just when they had given up all hope. We all know that person (or at least know of them), and they are the exception, not the rule. People talk about that type of event, they talk a whole lot less about the absence of it.

Don’t bitch to me about the person in your life who got knocked up by accident, chose to have the baby, and is being a totally irresponsible parent. I know they exist, I work with the progeny of some of them, I am aware it’s a thing… but if you want to trigger a meltdown in me, that is your fastest route. Don’t do it, if you do, and you know you’re doing it, you’re just being an ass hole. If you are the irresponsible parent, chances are we are not friends, because I saw you coming from a mile away and removed myself from the situation. You didn’t have to feel my wrath, you’re welcome.

I have other things in my life that fulfil me, I am not broken. Yes, I think about my lack of ability to have children constantly. Yes it feels like a giant gaping hole in my life. However keenly I feel that loss, it does not mean that anything else I chose to do with my life is somehow done to compensate. It’s not. I’ve had a few people talk as if my masters degree, career, sport, etc. are all just ways to fill the void… they are not. I do these things because I think they have value. Yes, they are also valuable in terms of their ability to distract me and as coping mechanisms, but they would be equally valuable if I were able to have children – just ask all the fertile people who have also chosen to participate in those things!

I don’t expect to “get over it”. I choose to avoid talking about my infertility in part because I don’t feel like dealing with any backlash from people who, as with the loss of a loved one, think that grief has an expiration date. It does not. Time helps. It makes things less raw, less immediate, and improves coping skills, as well as offering perspective. But nothing stops this from being present, and I won’t simply wake up one morning and not care. So if, when i’m in my 60’s and long past child bearing potential, I mention the sense of loss… It’s still present, it’s still real, and if you can’t understand that… Either you are lucky and have never lost something you truly loved, or you’re a sociopath and you don’t actually feel that deeply about anything. Either way, I don’t really want to hear about it in that moment.

These are my honest, if cheeky, thoughts. They are likely only relevant to me and my situation. However, if you are reading this and wondering what to do in terms of your friend, the best thing you can do is just ask them what they need. Gently, calmly, and respectfully… and then respect their answer.

Cheers,

-Me

 

A Weird Conundrum

So, something I am noticing that I am struggling with: I am starting to get on with my life. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am getting over not being able to get pregnant – that remains a nice little black cloud in my psyche, but I am starting to see it more as a distant storm instead of an ever present shadow. As I am able to actually focus on the good things in my life, I have a weird sensation like i’m cheating on my unconceived, unborn child. Like somehow being able to build other positive things in my life is doing a disservice to the dream of having a biological child. I think it’s associated with the general grief experience, but it’s an interesting aspect. It’s like somehow if I can move on, if I can build a positive and fulfilling life without having imprinted my DNA on the next generation, I never really wanted it that badly.

I know that’s a load of crap. If I woke up tomorrow, or next week, or next year, and took a pregnancy test and it were positive, I…. I don’t have the words to express how happy I would be. I have dreams where it happens, and the disappointment I feel on waking and finding out it isn’t real is almost heartbreaking.

So as I actually feel like I am building a different life, and a good one… I find the feeling of being unfaithful to my original plan very interesting.

I think my Husband and I will take a very serious look at adoption sometime in the next three years. I think we will look at children who are in the foster system, not infants… and I think we will be parents. We will have a child, or children, and we will parent together. But in the meantime, I need to not feel guilty for trying to build a good life without my dream baby.

-Me

Apparently it’s time for a change?

Soooooooo, its been an eventful few weeks – on top of quitting my job last week, I got a call that my surgery date is much, much sooner than I expected. Initially they called me Monday to tell me that it would be June 27th. I rearranged my entire schedule around that with less than 6 hours notice, and tried to come to terms with the idea of being slightly incapacitated starting a new job.

Then on Tuesday I got a call from the bookings people that they had neglected to check the surgeons availability, and that the 27th wasn’t actually an option. So instead it’s been postponed to July 25th. Six weeks seems like a reasonable amount of time to prepare…

I will still need to take some time off quite early in my new job, but I will at least have a month to settle in.

In some ways having a breast reduction is another step in my acceptance of not being fertile. I had been waiting to see about the surgery until I had children, since breast feeding is apparently more difficult post surgery. Choosing to do so now is again admitting that it isn’t going to happen. I waffle back and forth between weird last minute hope and being accepting of the reality.

The limbo is waning. It won’t go away, it won’t be gone, and I will grieve on some level… but I am starting to concretely move on.

-Me

All of the things, and yet still the same.

You never know exactly when the next wave will hit. The moment that you are reminded, yet again, that you won’t ever hear a munchkin call out for Mum and be calling for you.

In other news, I quit my job on Friday. I’ve been frustrated by working for an internationally publicly traded company whose focus is the bottom line… For three and a half years. However much I love WHAT I do, the company for which I do it has been nothing short of disappointing. There is a significant amount of lip service paid to the value of teamwork, collaboration, supporting their employees, yadayadayada, but the reality differs. I have been repeatedly informed that I am not worth paying more than the minimum, and that I am replaceable. So it is slightly satisfying to see the look of panic on my managers face when he now has to try to replace me. I do have another job to go to. I’ll be working for the municipality where I live, and it will be much more community focused, which I think will be a good fit for me. What is terrifying is the fact that I will be taking a huge risk in terms of hours – this new job is based entirely on my ability to build and maintain a client base. And I think I can – I have done so before. But it is venturing out into unknown territory without a safety net, and I am unsettled.

I will also have significantly more free time than I am used to, and that is also unsettling. I am used to being so busy I don’t have time to think, and that is at least in part by design – if I’m busy, I can’t focus on the things that upset me, because there is no time. Now I will have time. my first impulse is to try to fill it – with anything: work, school, choir auditions, exercise, etc. I know I need time to slow down and regroup, and that it will be good, but my crocodile brain doesn’t want to give anything the opportunity to catch up.

Since quitting I have felt lighter than I have in a very long time. I know I made the right decision, I know that this will be the best in the long run, and the more time since I sent in my resignation the more sure I am that it was a good idea. I feel alive in a way I have not for a few years.

I need to believe in myself and my own professional abilities, I need to remember that I can, and have, in fact done this before. But the self doubt creeps in, and its insidious tendrils wrap around my heart and drag…

It will be ok. I will make this work. And worse case scenario, I can always find another job….

And in the meantime, I will continue to avoid thinking about that voice that will never call for me in the night.

-Me.