Friday, May 28, 2010


As part of my "I'm not putting my life on hold" plan, I booked a trip to California over my prime fertile days. Oops. The receptionist at my RE's office seemed awfully disappointed, and I was originally, too. However, since I've had nearly a full two weeks off of taking my Basal Body Temperature, giving myself an injection, visiting the doctor's office once or twice a week, and obsessing over my cervical mucus, I've really enjoyed myself. I think that I'll have to keep this in mind: a vacation from infertility is a must. It keeps you sane and helps you to remember that you're a (relatively) normal person in the real world. Without the constant reminder (i.e. prescription bottles, doctor's appointments, and refraining from intense physical activity) of what you're not allowed / able to do, you can actually lead a pretty normal life. I've missed that. In irresponsibly booking a trip home, I've bought myself a whole month of not worrying about much. I've given myself the gift of being a normal woman. Man, that was worth the $300.00 right there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Okay, Okay...I'll Give Them Away!

Long before a friend of mine told me that it was bad luck to buy baby clothes before you're pregnant, I've been buying baby clothes before I was pregnant. Old wives' tales be damned! It seemed the prudent thing to do: buy things on sale or when you see them new at the Goodwill. I am a bargain hunter by nature, and find it hard to pass up a good buy. Not to mention, it seemed as sure as the coming winter that I'd be pregnant before long, and you wouldn't pass up buying a really cheap sweater on clearance just because it was out of season, would you? Certainly not. So now I have two giant boxes of assorted baby paraphernalia sitting in my shed, collecting dust (so to speak). I'm beginning to wonder: are the pre-meditated purchases my fertility kryptonite? Maybe, just like the woman who gives up and then magically becomes pregnant, if I throw all the stuff away (read: give BACK to the Goodwill), I will instantly fall pregnant and give birth to twins! Oh, the packrat in me can't bear to part with the wealth of goods, but the superstitious infertile is beginning to wonder…

Monday, May 24, 2010

Warning! Threat of Becoming "Crazy Dog People" is Closer Than it Appears!

Don't get me wrong, I love animals. The thought of becoming "the crazy cat" person, however, does not sound so appealing. We all have an aunt, a sister, or a distant relative who never had kids. Sometimes these women are married, sometimes divorced, or sometimes they never married at all. In any case, these women have lived full, meaningful, and productive lives without the inclusion of children. Oftentimes, they have a horse or another furry sidekick who seems to take up the blank space on the refrigerator door (where convention says there should be finger paintings and letters to Santa).

But then there are the others. The ones who have taken an empty nest and filled it with just one too many cats, dogs, or ponies. These people collect animals like other people collect accolades: they give meaning to life. They say things like, "as much as they ask you to, please don't let the girls out of the house." Or, "before we got the twins (Flopsy and Mopsy), this house was so boring. Now it has new life in it!" Yikes. It's just a hop, skip, and a head-long tumble into "crazy cat" mentality. I worry that my husband and I are not as far from it as we like to think. We whip out our phones when anyone asks us if we have any pets (there are at least a dozen "adorable" shots of the two of them), include them in our Holiday photos, and only take vacations that are "dog-friendly". (You stink, Moab.)

I don't want to be a "dog-mom" forever. Even though my darling students wished me a happy Mother's Day because they know I love my dogs to bits…that doesn't make it alright.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Body is a (Slightly Flawed) Temple

When this all blows over, I'm going to be a paragon of physical health. I went to the doctor's office recently(totally unrelated and unfair illness - a sinus infection), and she told me that I have a nice, low blood pressure. "Well," I wanted to tell her, "I am taking an inordinate amount of vitamins. I drink only organic 2% milk, eat three squares a day, monitor my artificial hormone intake, and run regularly. I drink at least one cup of green tea every evening, and consume only minimal caffeine. I've honed my Coke habit to only one about every other day, and I drink at least a liter of water before bedtime. My husband and I refrain from drinking alcohol for two weeks of every month, and limit our consumption to less than one drink a day during the other two. So, really, it doesn't surprise me that I might have the slightest indication of better-than-average health."

But I didn't say that, obviously. Still, I guess I should be happy that the only real physical "side effects" of trying really hard to have a baby are good ones: you exercise, eat right, and sleep more, just so you can be ready to carry a sweet little baby. If and when my body ever decides to work, it's going to be running on all four cylinders.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Come On, Get Happy!

My running shoes are just sitting there, begging me to come out and play. Since I gave up my 5K a few weeks ago (after giving up the 10K earlier), I've been reluctant to start running again. Sometimes I feel like it's not worth it. My competitive nature wants a race, a purpose, a time to beat. Running just to run has never been my forte. But it always seems to lift my spirits, no matter what. Even though I know that it will be tough, I am going to lace them up, do some warm-ups, and put on my fancy new iPod. Sometimes it's hard to do the things that you know will make you happy in the long run. Though I feel like I have a good work ethic, I am also very instant-gratification oriented, and have a hard time working toward something that is very far off in the future - whether it's running to get in shape or fighting to "cure" my infertility. And sometimes, you have to wait a LOT longer than you thought for something that you wanted...something that you are sure is going to make you happy.

But every journey begins with the first step. Lace up your shoes, call your RE, walk out the door, spend the precious $1,000, and begin to run. It will all make you happy in the end...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Art of Keeping Busy

Keeping this blog has not only been exceptionally cathartic, but it has also kept me busy and thoughtful during the long winter months at home. I love to write - always have - and find comfort in the organization of thoughts on paper. It also just so happens that I enjoy taking photos as well. So, I've decided to illustrate my own blog. (I've also noticed a proliferation of caveats about using copyrighted images for personal use. Yikes.) I figure, if writing the blog kept me busy and creatively engaged, then taking photos for the blog will be doubly time-consuming. Odd as it sounds, when I'm busy writing / illustrating a blog about being infertile, I'm not moping around the house thinking about being infertile. Oh, the irony.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

You Know What, Infertility? I AM Awesome!

Sometimes it's good to do things that counter-act the pernicious effects of infertility. Today, I went whitewater rafting - something that I used to do quite often, but stopped because I was "delicate". (That means that I was constantly hoping that I was pregnant, and therefore didn't do any activities that I perceived as potentially dangerous to my imaginary fetus. I know, I know…) As I floated down the river, kicking its butt, I remembered that I was a real bad-ass of a girl and I can do a lot more than just procreate. For instance, I can guide a boatload of five people safely down a class IV section of whitewater on the mighty Arkansas River. Not just everyone can do that! Pretty much anyone can get pregnant - it doesn't take any skill whatsoever. (Shut up.) Even if I can't produce a baby, I can still do some pretty cool things. If pregnancy were contingent upon how awesome you were, I'd be a shoe-in. Now if I can just figure out what it IS contingent upon...

(Note: The guide in the photo is NOT me. My run was awesome.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Boobs Hurt, and That's Awesome!

It's the day before my cycle is scheduled to begin, and I have been constantly feeling myself up just to see if my chest is sore - at all. I'm waiting for some sign of being pregnant. Anything will do. I'll take sore boobs, spotting, nausea, lightheadedness, etc. etc. etc. I've never known what "pregnant" feels like, but I've had a LOT of experience with "not pregnant", and I certainly know what that feels like. Unfortunately, it feels exactly like what I feel right now. Nothing. I'm a little sore, but nothing like what all the other women in my life have described as symptomatic of pregnancy. This ain't nothin'. Oh well, at this point, any hope will do.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lady Luck Can Be a, Jerk

I've never really relied on luck to win me anything. In the 3rd grade, I won a poetry contest by writing a poem about the Earth and it's destruction. It was a hot-button issue and I was pretty sure that writing a thought-provoking narrative of Earth wasting away would definitely sway the jury. Then, in the 6th grade, I wrote a heart-wrenching essay about my family and the ties that bind. It was a shoe-in. Then, in high school, I tried out for the cheerleading team. Even though I had never done it before, I was leaving nothing to chance during my try-out - I learned how to do a back handspring. Man, did that thing ever come in handy.

Infertility, on the extreme other hand, is all about luck. Any time anyone decides to try for a baby, they're rolling a little ball on a roulette table and hoping it lands on "pregnant." For some, landing on one of those coveted spaces is open to a 50/50 chance. For others, it's about 25%. For still others, it's about a .5. (That would be me.) There's nothing you can do (that doesn't fall into the category of 'supersticious mumbo-jumbo') that can guarantee your chance of having a baby. Even those expensive drugs and humiliating procedures (seriously? IUI? Evil.) only increase your chances. INCREASE - not guarantee. Leaving my chances of happiness and fulfillment to pure chance is the most frustrating and demoralizing thing I've ever done. I don't even play the lottery, for cryin' out loud! So to gamble (literally) thousands of dollars on an unknown lucky number has seemed senseless. It is so…un-me. I suppose that I'll just have to keep the faith that one day I'll get the jackpot.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This mothers' day, more than any other, I hope that every mother on earth knows how lucky they are. I hope that when they hold their children, they take a moment to realize that children are not to be taken for granted: they are precious happenstance. We tend to think that all women are destined to become mothers, that the process is only hampered by finding a good man, a happy home, and a cute pair of booties or two. I am proof of the opposite. Having a child is not something that all women can do readily. Giving birth to your own child is a gift that is not bestowed upon everyone, only a lucky majority.

All I want for mother's day is to be a mom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh My Gawd, I Just Compared Myself to a Car

There are many different kinds of infertility; primary infertility, secondary infertility, even male factor infertility. There are also a number different medical afflictions that can keep you from having kids: PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), bicornate uterus, LPD (Luteal Phase Disorder), Endometriosis, etc. I certainly sympathize with all women who struggle with infertility, and I can't imagine how it must feel to be diagnosed with one of these problems. My struggle is a little different, however. I have what is commonly (at least on the infertility blogs) known as "unexplained" infertility. That means that there is simply no apparent medical reason why we should not be able to naturally conceive a child. Sometimes I feel like my husband's truck, which has definite problems driving across more than one county, but doesn't seem to have a definitive problem. We’ve replaced components, asked mechanics, and even taken it in to the dealer. No one seems to be able to tell us what the problem is. This presents a unique predicament: how do you fix something when you don't know what's wrong? When you can put your finger on the issue, you can determine a course of action. The same goes for medical problems. If you know what's ailing you, a treatment plan can be agreed upon. When you're unsure of the diagnosis, however, you don't know how to proceed. You don't know what will make you better.

So, as much as I would dislike being diagnosed with any of the aforementioned medical problems, it would at least be nice to know what my particular brand of hiccup is, exactly. Because, just like taking your car in for a mystery fix, guessing the cause of infertility can end up costing a bundle.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Look on the Bright Side: If you Were Anne Boleyn, You Would Have Been Beheaded by Now

Poor, poor Anne. When she failed to produce a male heir for King Henry VIII, he had her beheaded. And how long did she get? A few paltry years? At least my husband isn't plotting my ultimate demise in the near future. (Though he is contemplating buying stock in Disarrono or Kleenex.) I guess if there is any silver lining in the pile of bullsh** that is infertility, it's that we live in an age that not only allows us to cry out our feelings, but also has made it perfectly acceptable (if not downright cosmopolitan) to adopt children if need be. Thank you, Angelina Jolie.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That's Easy for You to Save

I've never been one to strive for money. When I was in high school and made a list of priorities, having a job that "benefited society" was higher on the list than making six figures. I never really saw the need for more than average. (I truly believe that the more you get, the more it will take to surprise, please, or satisfy you. Living at the status quo just helps to keep me grounded and blissfully happy with a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. And I am!) But when photos of Sandra Bullock and her new little one came out in the press, I suddenly had a change of heart: money is good. Money can buy you the one thing that all people should have for free (well, barring medical costs): a child. I mean, I know people who have conceived without so much as a $12.00 bar tab and a taxi ride home. Ooops! Conception. Some didn't incur any additional costs at all. "We just started trying…and, boom! Pregnant." What? No specialist? No expensive prescription drugs? No half-dozen volumes of misguided pregnancy books? No uncomfortable and overpriced (it's just a syringe, man, I used to do that to sheep for less than 50 bucks) medical procedures? That's unreal. No, it's more than that; it's a downright bargain. Infertility? Now, that's another story. When you add up all the costs (and we're not even talking emotional costs, here), it gets to be a very expensive problem, as all medical problems are. Money can usually solve all problems, and this is no exception. If we were just one tax bracket higher, a few IVFs and possibly even a surrogate would be no problem. But here in the lowlands of the economic ladder? It's a big problem. Unless we want to clothe our kids in gunny sacks and feed them rice and water, we're going to have to seriously consider the cost of treatment. The cost of motherhood for other women? Finite. For me? Immeasurable. Hey Sandra, if you ever want to throw a few thousand my way, I wouldn't say "no."

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm a Delicate Flower

Don't run. Don't jump. Don't even breathe heavily! Why? Because you might, might, might be fertilized. In the days after an IUI, your little (possibly fertilized) egg is lolling around in your nether-regions, waiting to implant in the soft lining that will be its home for the next nine months. What if you were to bounce around at the most inopportune moment, just to spoil the chances of the egg finding its home? Just to be safe, you should not move very much during the first week or so of the TWW. Who says? The superstitious, self-conscious, neurotic infertile, that's who! No, there's no medical evidence that treating yourself like the crazy Renoir aficionado in Amelie (who wrapped himself in cloth because his bones were brittle) will be of any help at all. In fact, your RE even told you to "proceed as normal" a shallow 10 minutes after the actual procedure. But you don't believe your RE, do you? Heck no! Just in case, you're going to walk lightly, speak softly, and avoid any sudden movements. The last thing you'd want to do is ruin your slim chances of actually getting pregnant just because you wanted to show some 12-year-old how to properly complete the first phase of a triple jump. What? You already did that today? Oh, man. It's all over. Nice going. Maybe next time you'll treat yourself like the delicate flower that only you think you are.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Two-Week Wait: A Story of Addiction to My Calendar

Well, here we are. It's day 1 of the longest 14 days of my month: the two-week wait. The two-week wait is evil. It messes with your mind and makes you do the one things that your high-school guidance counselor told you not to: wish your life away. If I could manually make time go any faster during these next two weeks, I would sell my soul for the answer. (Well, if I hadn't already sold my soul to have a child, that is.) There are two days in the month that make me crabby the moment I wake up: the 1st day of the TWW, and the day the TWW inevitably ends. In the interim, I am an extremely agitated, irritable, and vastly impatient individual. I mark the days off my calendar with vigil, striking through each number as if blacking it out will scare its neighbors into passing a little quicker. Virtually nothing seems as important as day 28, which makes it hard to concentrate on anything else. Believe me, this does not bode well for stacks of grading, students who need extra help, or that pile of clothing that needs sorting in the corner. You literally want to throw your hands up and say, "Seriously, who cares about this stuff when I may or may not be carrying the impossible miracle that is life?" I can only imagine that, if this all works out, I might be tempted to get away with the excuse of, "Seriously, who cares about this stuff when I AM carrying the impossible miracle that is life?" I will totally let myself get away with that one on a regular basis. Trivialities be damned.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

If You Need a Book, You're Going to Need More Than a Book

In the early months, you think that there are "miracle cures" for infertility. Myself? I tried many things - forswearing dairy products, taking Vitex, putting a pillow under my back after intercourse, even ceasing to drink Coke. (The last one was the toughest, just for the record.)
For as long as I can remember, I have placed the utmost stock in books and their contents. I believed wholeheartedly that books can ease pain, solve problems, and offer consolation. Unfortunately, when it comes to nature, as the authors of the Farmer's Almanac found out, there is no way to predict or prescribe away the inevitable. My inevitability? I can't naturally get pregnant. Once you finally realize that these books offer nothing but placebos and dead ends, confusion sets in, mixed with a healthy dose of panic. At first it was a comfort, knowing that other women (at least, enough to warrant the publication of a manual) have problems conceiving children as well. Later, however, you realize that no matter how many people suffer from a particular affliction, you always end up feeling very much alone and very singled out. You always end up feeling like a minority, a freak, or a disappointment to your species.
After you realize that the book is telling you only about things that you've already done, you must make the difficult decision to admit your defeat. You are not going to get pregnant on an page and a prayer - you're going to need scientific intervention. The book was not the last bastion of secret information - it was merely a step in a journey of a thousand miles. Put your walking shoes on; it's going to be a long way.

Share and Share Alike

The reason for a blog had eluded me until early this year. I thought that blogs were just for philosophical introverts, or for people sharing pictures and narratives of trips accross the globe. Not until I began struggling with the most bizarre problem I've ever experienced (not being able to conceive a child) did I begin to understand the value of reading someone else's daily rambling. There is strength in solidarity. There is solace in sympathy. And there is a certain satisfaction in having others acknowledge that you are dealing with something beyond your comprehension. I've been keeping an offline "blog" for a few months now, and have decided to share it. It may be self-absorbed, and it may be silly, but if there is one person who reads it and feels like less of a stranger in a world full of budding families, then I feel validated. And, let's face it: sometimes I can be pretty funny.