Adventure Book!

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Before IF, I was not the type of person to cry a lot.  In fact, I really dislike crying.  There are only two movies that can make me cry every time:  The Notebook and Up.  These are what I pull out when I need a good cry and nothing else will bring me to tears.  It’s odd, because both of those movies make me think of my grandparents.

If you haven’t seen The Notebook, (SPOILERS AHEAD), it tells the story of a couple in love and how the husband continues to care for his wife as she falls into the grips of Alzheimer’s disease. My grandpa cared for my grandma at home years after we realized she had Alzheimer’s.

While the storyline in Up has really no comparisons to the lives of my grandparents, the main character is the spitting image of my grandpa.  Seriously.  At my grandmother’s funeral, a second cousin of mine (about 7 years old at the time), came running out of the room yelling to his parents “They guy from Up is here!!!!”  Yeah. That happened.

If you haven’t watched Up, you should.  Within the first several minutes, there is a montage showing the couple’s struggles having a baby.  The husband pulls out the wife’s “adventure book” from childhood and they devote their lives to making her dreams of adventure a reality.  It is really a beautiful love story.

I took a lesson from Up and put together my own adventure book.  I tried to make it look as similar to the one in the movie as possible.  I am using it as another distraction to the whole world of IF.  It will tell our own love story starting from the night we met.  It will chronicle all of the fun filled adventures we have had along the way and include ideas for future adventures. Image

Of course, our most recent adventure is our new puppy, Cookie.  She will definitely have at least a couple of pages.  My husband seems unable to stop taking pictures of her cuteness.  This is her at a recent dog swim in our community.  She took a break from the pool to sniff some flowers.

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Two Week Wait

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This is who I am trying NOT to be right now.  Even though I have very little hope of getting pregnant this month due to our recent issues, I still wonder if it could happen.  The chance still exists, right?

I have been much calmer this month, though.  I have stopped perusing Pinterest for baby stuff and have not even looked at my secret baby board since last month’s BFN!  I call that progress. I’m not even paying attention to my cycle day or every little twinge I may feel.  That is MAJOR progress.  The only thing I have kept up with is temping every morning.  I’m rationalizing this by saying it is for the sake of science.  I’ve only temped for a couple of months and I want to continue to see how much variation I have from month to month.  This month, I noticed a second spike that made me think for a few minutes that it could make for a triphasic chart.  I then blamed the dog for waking me up throughout the night and throwing off my temperature.

My scheduled RE appointment for this past Thursday was rescheduled for next Tuesday. They called me Thursday morning and apologized profusely. Apparently, they scheduled me with the wrong doctor.  It really makes no difference.  I had planned to take next month off from drugs anyway, as I think we need to get a semen analysis and take a little break.

I only have one pregnancy test in the house. I am holding out on using it until the date my doctor gave me– 14 DPO.  Maybe my period will come a bit early and I will not even use it.

As per usual, my Cookie is such a great distraction!

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Take this test

Adopt a teen

Ok, follow the instructions below to find out the best way you personally can help a teenager in foster care.

1.       Place your finger on any shaded box

2.       Move your finger left or right to the nearest white box

3.       Move your finger up or down to the nearest shaded box

4.       Move your finger diagonally to the nearest white box

5.       Move your finger left or right to the nearest gray box

So, if you are good at following instructions, you landed on “Adopt a Teen.” Congratulations!

Most people groan when finishing this activity because adopting a teen is so far from what they are interested in doing. I know in my previous post, The Adoption Option, I ranted about not wanting to adopt. In reality, I do not want to adopt an infant to replace having one biologically. I feel this way because I know how difficult it can be. I’ve seen how devastating it can be if it does not work out. It has the potential to be even more emotionally damaging than looking at single pink lines for years. To have an identified infant who is to be placed with me only for circumstances to change is too much for me to handle.

Teens, however, are a different story. Don’t get me wrong– I don’t think it’s easy to adopt a teen. They just have different challenges. Typically, it is not that the bio parents change their mind. The courts have made that decision for them. With teens, you know so much more about who this child is going to become. Teens come to you with baggage, but you often know more about their family medical history, their likes, dislikes, and the things they have in common with you.  Adopting a teen comes from a completely different place in your heart. It certainly isn’t a fix for infertility.

I work with teens who are in need of permanent homes. In the years I have done this job, I can honestly say that there was only one youth I knew who I would not have considered adopting if I was not working with them professionally. This one youth clearly had signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder and was not someone I could successfully parent.

Ethically, I am not able to adopt the children I work with. This is considered a “dual relationship” by the National Association of Social Workers and something I cannot do. Even so, there were some kids I absolutely would have tried to adopt if I met them under different circumstances. These are amazing young people who have done nothing wrong. Some people think that kids are in foster care because of their behavior. This is NOT true. Children in foster care are there because their parents did something wrong.

So, what do you think about adopting a teen?

Another Roadblock

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Of course, new challenges would arise now that Clomid is making me ovulate.  Our timed intercourse did not go well this month.  By “did not go well,”  I mean– it didn’t really happen.

Performing on command has become more and more difficult for my husband.  To try to relieve some of the anxiety about it, we decided to delay our start date.  My ovulation day has been pretty late anyway, so I figured it was fine.  I was wrong.  I ovulated early this month, so we only got in two “sessions.”  We tried for three, but he just couldn’t do it.  I didn’t handle the situation well.  I tried to push him, and in retrospect, I probably bullied him to try to make it happen.  I feel awful.  I just felt like this was our last chance with the Clomid, and I was feeling pretty desperate.

He admitted to me that nothing turns him on these days.  He said this as I was lying in bed hoping to try making a baby.  Hearing him saying those words while I was in that state was devastating.  As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew how I took them.  He did everything he could to convince me that it isn’t me and that he feels his body is just changing with age.  While I believe him, it still hurts. I mean, he’s really not even middle aged yet! We plan to bring this up at our RE appointment next week.  Looks like we could both be on meds soon.

In the past, I have read that men peak sexually at a much younger age than women. Is that true?  I hope so, since the thing that seems to help me the most is knowing that what we going through are typical for other couples in our situation.  I just do not want to think that my husband is unattracted to me. He swears that isn’t true… but I still feel terrible about it.

I still have my little pup to make me feel better.  My husband is jealous, because she obviously loves me more.  2013-09-01 16.21.21

My Timeline of “Coming Out”

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In my previous post, The Stigma of Infertility, I talked about wanting to go public about my infertility. I felt like hiding it was only hurting my ability to cope. Well, I actually did it and decided to chronicle my experience with it so others considering the same thing have an idea of what it might be like.

Day 1:

I am on day 4 of my period (TMI?) and I have been a complete wreck since it arrived. I feel like I am in complete denial. I am always sure that this month is our month and I’ll finally get that second pink line. This month, my period came two days early. So not only was I devastated, but I did not feel prepared to face reality. I have literally cried every day since my period started. I feel like I am losing it. I came home early from work and typed up a few paragraphs on my infertility in the form of an open letter. When my husband came home, we read it and revised it to make it ours. I then posted it to Facebook. He immediately shared it. I put the laptop away, continued crying, and went to bed.

Day 2:

I wake up and check Facebook over my bowl of cereal. I feel a little silly for using Facebook to do this, but really, how else would I go about it?

There are nearly 20 comments from friends and a couple of distant relatives. Even more people have liked the post. I made it clear in the post that I was not seeking pity or advice, so no one offers any. Instead, people tell me that they appreciate the courage this took and that they are praying for me. I am not religious, so the prayer bit is a little awkward.

One person commented about her own infertility. She is actually pregnant now with twins after trying for 7 years. Someone my husband went to high school with commented on his share, saying that he and his wife had a stillborn. He said one of the hardest parts was the taboo on discussing it.

I go to work feeling very weepy. A lovely older woman I work with (and am friends with on Facebook) sees me come in and practically pounces on me. She told me that she and her husband had a lot of trouble conceiving in the 70s and that, now, there are so many options available to those facing infertility. I am not sure how I should feel about this, but it doesn’t really matter since all I can do is continue sobbing in her cube as she hands me tissues.

I proceed to cry at random throughout the day.

By the end of day two, someone I haven’t spoken to since elementary school messages me. She is on the same round of Clomid as me! After talking for a bit, we found that our experiences have been extremely similar.

Day 3:

Something feels different. This is the first day since my period arrived that I don’t feel profound sadness. Maybe my hormones have shifted. Even so, I really feel like coming out has given me a sense of freedom. I no longer have to hide my sadness or frustration. That alone makes me feel better. I also feel like I’m thinking clearly for the first time in days.

Another coworker of mine asks to talk to me over drinks after work tomorrow so we can talk about my Facebook post.

Day 4:

Normalcy! I feel normal! I’m not used to it, but I like it.

I have a regular day at work with no crying. Score! It’s the little things, right?

5:00 rolls around and my coworker and I go to the bar on the first floor of our office building. We chat for a bit about work and then get around to why she wanted to get together.

She offers to be my surrogate.

Let me back pedal a bit by telling you that my previous conversations with her about family have pertained to the fact that she desperately wants a child and her husband refuses.

She was truly coming to me to try to help, and I so appreciate that. I explained that I am still miles from seeking out a surrogate. We go on to discuss that she would be open to being a surrogate for other people in her life as well. I asked her if she is prepared to carry a baby for nine months and then give the baby to different parents. I cannot imagine someone who desperately wants a child doing this. She seems to think she has thought it through, but personally, I have doubts.

Day 5:

None of my close relatives (only a few of whom already knew about my infertility) have said anything to me about the post. I am not sure how to feel about this. I choose not to analyze it, because it probably means nothing.
Also, I bought a dog (not completely unrelated to my infertility). More on this later.

Day 6:

I speak with my mom, who is friends with me on Facebook.  She wants to see the puppy.  I ask her if she saw my Facebook post.  She said she did, but she uses the voice she gets when she feels awkward or doesn’t understand something.  I ask what she thought of it and she says something about it being pretty straightforward and to the point.  I ask if she thinks it was weird and she says no.  That’s about it, which is strange, because my mom and I are really very close. She knew all about the infertility and treatments.

Day 7:

Seriously, I feel like I am in a completely different emotional state from a week ago.  I think this can be contributed to three factors:

  1. My period is over and my last dose of clomid was days ago.
  2. I no longer feel a sense of dread when babies come up because I don’t have to hide anything.
  3. I am completely distracted by my new puppy, Cookie (full name: Cookie S’ncream; my husband really likes ice cream).

Day 8:

Someone at works asks about why I decided to get a dog.  I explained that it was partially because I want something to care for and also because I really love her specific breed. My coworker then asks if I can have kids since I alluded to wanting something to care for.  I tell her that we cannot have kids without infertility treatments, and even then, we may never be able to.  I am able to say this without crying or even wanting to cry!  We have a really nice conversation about it.

 

Overall, I feel great.  I hope this lasts past the next single pink line!

Cycle Day 10: Rev Your Engines

CD 10 has arrived, and in this household that means it is time to start having timed intercourse. Not too much, though, or his sperm won’t be ripe. And not too little, or baby making chances go down. This is ridiculous.

I know timed intercourse is a pretty rooky complaint when it comes to the world of trying to conceive, but I still find it frustrating. As a woman, I have no problem, but it certainly puts a lot of pressure on my husband. Poor guy.

Timing our intercourse has taken all of the spontaneity and excitement out of our sex lives, and instead, made it into a chore.   And since I clearly have fertility issues, I am obsessive about making sure we have sex exactly as much as we are supposed to.  I try to hide this to not put added pressure on my husband, but he feels it himself without me saying anything.

This month, we have the added complication of a brand new puppy. I haven’t had a dog since childhood. How do you concentrate on sex when there is a dog crying in the next room?
Jesus… How do you have sex after a baby when the infant is crying in the next room?! I guess you just don’t. I should appreciate getting this much action now while I can. If things go as we hope, I may not have a lot of opportunities for a while. If not, well, I guess I’ll figure out what comes next at my RE appointment on CD 21 AND play with my new adorable puppy!

Cookie's first day

The Adoption Option

Let me start by saying that I am a social worker.  I work with kids in foster care who will never be able to be reunified with their birth parents.  It is my job to find another permanent option for them.  Usually, this means adoption.

Adoption is an extremely personal decision.  People who have not really contemplated it do not understand the countless factors that go into it.  Everyone will have their own opinions on each issue that comes along with adoption.

Currently, I have no desire to adopt.  To be honest, I want my husband’s child.  I want to make someone with his intelligence and dimples.  I want to go through the experience of gestation with my husband. I want to see his face when our child enters the world.  This is something that adoption will not replace.  Others seem to think that adoption is some sort of solution for infertility, but it is not.  The two are not the same.  I do not want to adopt a child as a plan B to getting pregnant.  I see adoption as a distinctly separate issue from my infertility.  If I adopt, I would like to adopt an older youth who would otherwise age out of foster care on his or her own.  At 28 years old, I do not yet feel ready to parent a teenager.

All of the above  +   my Catholic childhood=  INCREDIBLE guilt.  How can I ask others to adopt when I don’t want to myself?  What a hypocrite!

People also don’t seem to realize the incredible emotional toll taken by adoption.  You are rigorously screened, asked incredibly personal questions, and then judged by someone who will never really know you. That person holds all the power. You have no control over the outcome.  I am doing this to others because it is my job.  I do this because it is how we keep kids safe.  I do this knowing that I would never want to be on the other end.  I try, as best I can, to be kind, fair, and understanding of the people I poke and prod for information.

The financial considerations of adoption are obviously a whole other issue.  Not everyone can afford IVF, and those same people can likely not afford private adoption or international adoption.  Adoption from foster care is actually free, but there are other complications that come along with adopting a child from foster care.  I could write a novel on this, but for everyone’s sake, I’ll stop here.

Excuse me, ma’am. Your crazy is showing.

I am on my third round of Clomid.  I take my last pill tomorrow, and my doctor has informed me that this will be the last round. I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to discuss other options.  I am hoping to convince her to let me do three more months because this is the first time in years that I have had regular periods and actually ovulated.  We’ll see what she says.

While I want to continue the Clomid, I have to admit that it is wearing me down.  The mood swings alone or exhausting.  I actually cried at work today.  I cannot stress enough that this is not characteristic of me.  In fact, I am pretty sure it freaked out a lot of people because it is so unlike me.  I hate crying in front of other people, but I reached a point where I had absolutely no control over my emotions.  I feel like I spend all my energy just working to keep my crazy in, and today, I failed miserably.

I am pretty astounded by how often I can cry.  I am starting to wonder how long this can last.  Seriously. Today, I cried twice before even leaving for work. I cried every time I got in my car (I drive to meetings for work– this added up to 6 times today).   I cried during a staff meeting.  I have a headache from crying.  I remember going months or years without crying before all this started.

I hate feeling the way Clomid makes me feel.  Physically, I feel disgusting and unattractive. Emotionally, I feel like an insane person. I am willing to put myself through this because I hope it will give me what I want more than anything.  Regardless of the outcome, it continues to change me as a person.  I just hope I don’t come out the other end a bitter and sad old barren bitch.

The Stigma of Infertility

Time Magazine’s most recent issue has an article on Jimmy Fallon “coming out of the infertility closet.”  Take a look here.

While I think this article could have gone way more in depth on the topic, it definitely made me start thinking about the stigma attached to infertility.  It was never something I actually considered before in a societal way.  I always thought about myself and my own little world.  I have told my husband if I ever mentioned to someone that we were struggling with infertility.  It was always notable because we really keep it to ourselves for the most part.  Why do we do that? It is the unwritten, never discussed rule that this is a family secret.  Typically, family secrets are something to be ashamed of, but I have nothing to be ashamed of!  I’ve done nothing wrong.  So, why do we continue to hide this huge part of our every day lives?

I keep asking myself why, but I have no clear answers.  Instead, I just have a pile of emotions that I am trying to break down and understand.

First, I guess I just do not want pity.  I do not want people to know that I am trying so hard for something I want so desperately. In general, I do like like showing my weaknesses, and I think this is probably the biggest one I have.

I do not want others to know my pain if this does not work out in our favor.  I do not want them to ask about it for fear of losing my shit in the work place or at a restaurant.

My infertility makes me feel like less of a person.  How can I not be capable of doing the most natural thing in the world?  What does that make me?  Rationally, I realize this is an insane thought process, but I cannot help it.  My mind always goes there.  Struggling with infertility makes me feel like less of a woman.

In every aspect of my life, I like to be in control.  This is part of what makes my husband perfect for me, because he could not care less about control.  I do the budgeting.  I pay the bills.  I do the holiday shopping.  I schedule most of our social lives.  Don’t get me wrong– my husband does all kinds of things that I would rather not do and he is awesome, but I am generally the decision maker for the everyday things in our lives.  Infertility is something I have virtually NO control over.  I hate to admit this to other people.  I guess this also shows weakness.

This one is really weird– I don’t want people to think I am just whining.  If I turn up pregnant next month and I have complained about trying to get pregnant for the past year, I will look crazier than I already am.

There are certainly more practical reasons that I don’t typically share my infertility news with others.  For one, it is super awkward.  Really, how do you work that into a conversation? The few times I have, the other person has no idea what to say.  I feel like I am putting them in an awkward position! Even the people I have told feel it is their duty to keep it a secret.

Why does everyone feel that this is something to be hidden?

Thinking about this for the past few days has made me wonder if I should come out of my own infertility closet.  It would take a two second status update on Facebook and everyone I’ve known since grade school would be aware of what I am going through.

Would it be awkward?  Probably.

Would people stop saying really stupid and insensitive things to me?  Maybe.

Would it make someone else feel less alone?  Hopefully.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

It has clearly been a while since I posted.  I am not great about keeping up with this type of thing.  A lot has gone on lately, and I am back to needing to talk to myself on the internet.

Long story short, my cycles went from nonexistent to constant.  I have no idea if that is good or bad.  I started charting since I finally had something to chart.  Some cycles would only be 16 days, while others were more like 50 days.  I also thought that this meant I must be ovulating… but apparently that is not necessarily the case.  So, I took to peeing on sticks every morning to find out.  Great way to start the day!

The cheap ovulation predictor strips made me crazy to read, so I basically have to buy the $50/7 days option.  I have peed on so many of these things, I do not even want to count how much of my money Walgreens has gotten.  Despite peeing on these constantly, I never got the smiley face.  I finally gave in and started looking for serious help.

We have been in this house for a year.  I have been on no form of birth control for nearly 2 years.  And now, I’ve been on clomid for two months.

The good news– Clomid makes me ovulate and it makes my cycles about 29 days!

Now for the bad news:

  1. Clomid makes you feel like a beached whale in hell.  I am bloated.  I am HOT. Like sweating hot.  I wake up in a pool of sweat.  It is disgusting.
  2. Ovulation on Clomid is painful.  Think about someone punching you in the ovary all day– over and over– for two days.  Ouch.
  3. Good god, what is happening to my nipples? Can you say tender?
  4. While on Clomid, my doctor has me on “timed intercourse.”  That is a nice way of saying that you have to screw, regardless of your day, mood, schedule, etc. every other day.  More than that, and the sperm may not be ready to go.  Less than that, and there may not be any sperm present to meet my egg. Let the romance commence!

Fortunately, the good news makes the bad news worth dealing with.  It doesn’t make it OK, but it makes it sort of manageable.

For whatever reason, I had this idea in my head that my first round of Clomid was going to work. This was basically the first time EVER that I knew I was ovulating and I was not on birth control.  A good friend of mine from work shared with me that she also started trying to have a baby.  That was her first month trying and we ovulated two days apart. She had been married for a couple of weeks and was ready to get started.  We talked about everything– timing sex, peeing on sticks, taking your basal temperature every morning.  She got pregnant.  First try.  I didn’t.

It is REALLY hard to be happy for someone who gets what you want.  Logically, I know I should be happy and supporting.  Emotionally, I am unable to do this.

When I got my first negative, I lost my mind for a couple of days.  There was a lot of crying involved.  Two days ago, my period arrived before I was even going to test for the month. This happened at work.  I had to go to my car to cry.  I think I’m losing my mind.

My doctor’s office said that they will only do one more month of Clomid.  If this doesn’t work, we will have to explore much more expensive options.  Prohibitively expensive.  We would have to save up for a while before actually going forward.

Round 3 of Clomid starts tomorrow.  Bring on the night sweats!